Monday, July 22, 2019

Franken Agonistes

Al Franken wants his old job back:
At his house, Franken said he understood that, in such an atmosphere, the public might not be eager to hear his grievances. Holding his head in his hands, he said, “I don’t think people who have been sexually assaulted, and those kinds of things, want to hear from people who have been #MeToo’d that they’re victims.” Yet, he added, being on the losing side of the #MeToo movement, which he fervently supports, has led him to spend time thinking about such matters as due process, proportionality of punishment, and the consequences of Internet-fuelled outrage. He told me that his therapist had likened his experience to “what happens when primates are shunned and humiliated by the rest of the other primates.” Their reaction, Franken said, with a mirthless laugh, “is ‘I’m going to die alone in the jungle.’ ”
And now, a musical interlude:

Regrets, he has a few, which Franken shared with Jane Mayer, last seen going after Brett Kavanaugh for things Kavanaugh hadn't done, but now in commiseration mode with a politician who actually did things:
When I asked him if he truly regretted his decision to resign, he said, “Oh, yeah. Absolutely.” He wishes that he had appeared before a Senate Ethics Committee hearing, as he had requested, allowing him to marshal facts that countered the narrative aired in the press. 
The piece I've linked, in the New Yorker, is very long and full of attempts at exculpation. Does Franken deserve a second chance? Was what happened to Franken fair?

Well, Franken's not going to get to represent Minnesota in the Senate again, unless Tina Smith were to stand down. Do you see that happening? I don't. Do you think Franken is going to primary Smith, the former Planned Parenthood executive? Do you think the DFL would let him? I don't. If Amy Klobuchar were to retire after her term is up (she's not going to be president, you know), Franken could run for that seat, but he'll have to wait until 2024 to have a chance. Franken will be 73 years old at that time, and there's little reason to believe Klobuchar would give up her seat in any event, unless she runs for president again. If that were to happen, there's a long line of younger DFL politicians a mile long who would want her seat and would not be amenable to standing aside to let Franken assuage his psyche.

If Franken really wants to avenge his situation, there's another solution: move back to New York and challenge Kirsten Gillibrand. Of course, he'd have to wait until 2024 for that chance, too. But if he's got anyone to blame for his fate, assuming he doesn't look in the mirror, Gillibrand is the culprit. Back to Mayer:
Minutes after Politico posted the story, Senator Gillibrand’s chief of staff called Franken’s to say that Gillibrand was going to demand his resignation. Franken was stung by Gillibrand’s failure to call him personally. They had been friends and squash partners. In a later call, Gillibrand’s chief of staff offered to have Gillibrand speak with Franken, but by that time Franken was frantically conferring with his staff and his family. Franken’s office proposed that Franken’s daughter speak with Gillibrand instead, but Gillibrand declined.

Gillibrand then went on Facebook and posted her demand that Franken resign: “Enough is enough. The women who have come forward are brave and I believe them. While it’s true that his behavior is not the same as the criminal conduct alleged against Roy Moore, or Harvey Weinstein, or President Trump, it is still unquestionably wrong, and should not be tolerated.”

Minutes later, at a previously scheduled press conference, Gillibrand added insult to injury: she reiterated her call for Franken to resign while also trumpeting her sponsorship of a new bill that banned mandatory arbitration of sexual-harassment claims. She didn’t mention that Franken had originated the legislation—and had given it to Gillibrand to sponsor, out of concern that it might be imperilled by his scandal.
For her part, Gillibrand regrets nothing:
I recently asked Gillibrand why she felt that Franken had to go. She said, “We had eight credible allegations, and they had been corroborated, in real time, by the press corps.” She acknowledged that she hadn’t spoken to any accusers, to assess their credibility, but said, “I had been a leader in this space of sexual harassment and assault, and it was weighing on me.” Franken was “entitled to whichever process he wants,” she said. “But he wasn’t entitled to me carrying his water, and defending him with my silence.” She acknowledged that the accusations against Franken “were different” from the kind of rape or molestation charges made against many other #MeToo targets. “But the women who came forward felt it was sexual harassment,” she said. “So it was.”
So Franken got knifed by an ambitious pol who pretended to be his friend. Should we be sympathetic to his plight? You can if you'd like. But as far as I'm concerned, if I'm going to feel sympathy for a former Minnesota senator, I'll pick Norm Coleman instead.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

The Moon

I'm old enough to remember the moon landing. I was 5 when it happened and I remember watching it at my aunt and uncle's house. They had color television and we didn't, but it didn't matter much because all of the video was in black and white anyway. At the moment of the landing, the NASA cameras weren't working, so you got a simulation, which I think has kept the "moon is faked" thing going for half a century:

It took Armstrong and Aldrin six hours to actually set foot on the moon. It was late, but we tried to stay up long enough to actually see it and I somewhat remember seeing it, although it's not clear that I actually did, because I've seen the footage many times later and memory is a tricky thing.

I started kindergarten a few weeks after Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins made their journey. What I remember is, at least at Jackson Elementary School in Appleton, astronauts were nifty and cool and all of my fellow kindergartners, boys and girls, wanted to be one. As a group we went about 0/25 on that aspiration.

I also remember Woodstock, or at least watching reports of it on the CBS Evening News. My dad didn't like it much.

Do you remember watching the moon landing?

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Update/Good News

Barring anything unforeseen, I have a new gig. Will start work on an 18-month assignment for a medical device company on 7/29. I expect to learn a lot.

The blogging may still be lighter than it used to be; my pattern in the past was to get up very early in the morning so that I could write something before I headed to work. At this point in my life, sleep deprivation is a very poor idea, so I'm not going back to that schedule. But I'll stay awake.

I am grateful for your support. A lot of people were praying for me and I appreciate those prayers and well-wishes. While this is an era of low unemployment, it's not easy to find a job at a senior level, so your prayers have lifted me throughout this period of transition.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Squad Goals

As I recall, #squadgoals was a popular hashtag around 2015 or thereabouts. The always useful Grammar Girl wrote about the term back then:
"Squad goals" can be simply the goals of your squad (your friends or your clique), but sometimes that seems to play out in practice as simply "awesome," as in "This is awesome," meaning "I or we want this someday," or "We want to be like this." So when you see just a picture of hot women with nothing but the comment "squad goals," it means something like "We want to be like them" or "We want to date them." 
It's good to have goals and it's useful to have a squad. But do you want the Squad? As we've learned in recent days, the four principal members of the Squad are Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley in the Zeppo role. Aside from Pressley, they've all taken star turns in 2019 and bedeviled Nancy Pelosi something fierce. And now Donald Trump has decided to bring them to center stage:

Image result for AOC Squad
Impeach the MF-o, Al-Qaedo, Zeppo, Clapbacko
Trump went all Merle Haggard on these four, but he seemed to be training particular fire on our local hero, Omar, who walked right into the trap:

Al-Qaeda? Shmal-Qaeda! She won't dignify the question with a response, you see. I'm showing you this clip now because you might as well get used to seeing it; it should be part of just about every Republican ad you'll see in the next cycle.

Democrats want 2020 to be a referendum on Donald Trump. Donald Trump wants 2020 to be a referendum on the Squad and their supporters. Let's go back to Grammar Girl's definition:
"Squad goals" can be simply the goals of your squad (your friends or your clique), but sometimes that seems to play out in practice as simply "awesome," as in "This is awesome," meaning "I or we want this someday," or "We want to be like this."
Maybe the folks in Linden Hills find Ilhan Omar awesome and want to be like the Squad, at least as long as the Cedar-Riverside denizens don't take over all the tables at the Starbucks at 50th and France. But the eternal question remains -- does the Squad play in Peoria? Trump knows the answer. So does Nancy Pelosi, but because Trump will keep these four luminaries front and center, Pelosi has to defend them. And the folks in Peoria are paying attention, to say nothing of the folks in Grand Rapids, and Eau Claire, and Altoona, and even Duluth. Trump knows this, too. And Trump doesn't mind giving offense as long as he stays on offense.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Bye, Acosta

Alexander Acosta is gone:
Labor Secretary Alex Acosta has resigned amid controversy over his role in a 2008 plea deal with accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein.

President Donald Trump said Friday that it was Acosta's decision and not his as he spoke to reporters as he left the White House for a trip to Wisconsin.

Acosta was standing next to Trump as the president called him "a great labor secretary, not a good one."
So Trump is going to Wisconsin today? Wonder who might be there?

Image result for scott walker
Tanned, rested and ready
Man, I hope I'm right about this.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Under the Hood, or Perotmandias

Ross Perot, RIP:
Ross Perot, a self-made billionaire business magnate who twice ran as a third-party candidate for president, died Tuesday at his home in Dallas surrounded by family.

He was 89.

"In business and in life, Ross was a man of integrity and action," a statement from his family said. "A true American patriot and a man of rare vision, principle and deep compassion, he touched the lives of countless people through his unwavering support of the military and veterans and through his charitable endeavors."
I suppose that's true enough. At the time, particularly in 1992, he was seen as the guy who siphoned off enough votes from George H. W. Bush to allow Bill Clinton into the White House. That's debatable, and frankly not that interesting. The Bushes present their own issues.

Once Perot lost his second race, back in 1996, we didn't hear much from him any more. I don't see that the issues he was most concerned about have been addressed. Government has grown under Clinton, W, Obama, and Trump. Perot's concern about the national debt? Pshaw. Perot liked graphs. Here's one:

Image result for national debt by year
Spending fools
These debts will never be repaid, of course. You can blame presidents for spending, but Congress holds the power of the purse and it hasn't mattered one bit -- they all spend like there's no tomorrow. Tomorrow will arrive eventually. But the reckoning? Who knows?

As for Perot, he's as relevant now as any of his other third-party predecessors were. He might as well be Fighting Bob La Follette or Strom Thurmond in his Dixiecrat phase. We don't have anyone who is seeking to repair our government any more. Trump is simply trying to forestall worse ideas than what we've seen and endured already.

Round the decay/Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare/The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Monday, July 08, 2019

Epstein's Mothership

Jeffrey Epstein is in the dock again. The Trump haters are hoping Trump is implicated. The Clinton haters figure he's finally going to get his. Prince Andrew, Alan Dershowitz. . . all manner of big shots are implicated, or they aren't.

The stories have been going around for a long time. Epstein, a wealthy financier, apparently had a long career of procuring and violating teenage girls. He had a private plane and a private island. The plane was called the "Lolita Express." He was in the dock in 2008, but he got a plea bargain orchestrated by the man who is now Labor Secretary, Alexander Acosta.

How will it play out? A few guesses:

  • Trump is implicated because he apparently flew on Epstein's plane one time. Bill Clinton flew on Epstein's plane 26 times. Flying on the plane doesn't prove either man diddled a teenager. While it's safe to assume both men will have their names dragged through the mud, it's unlikely they will be in the dock themselves.
  • However, if the Trump haters think they can bring Trump down on this one, they won't hesitate to do so, and if it means Bubba goes under the bus (or the landing gear, so to speak), they won't hesitate there, either. The Clintons are no longer useful.
  • Acosta may be in deep water, too. Paul Mirengoff at Powerline has been beating that drum for a long time. Acosta's departure wouldn't be a big loss, especially if Trump goes bold and puts Scott Walker in the seat. That confirmation hearing would be a whole lot of fun.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Clown Show, Part 2

Then, there was the second Democratic debate on Thursday night. A spectacle. Quick impressions:
    Image result for sonny corleone murder
    Would you care to respond to Senator Harris, Vice President Biden?
  • A commenter on another blog compared Joe Biden's evening with Sonny Corleone's visit to the toll booth in The Godfather. It was a setup, for sure, especially the exchange with Kamala Harris regarding busing (more about that shortly). Biden has never done well running for president; he's an old back slapping politician who was past his sell-by date in 2008 and his status as the front-runner was always more about name recognition than anything else. He's not going to make it. 
  • I've never understood why people like Bernie Sanders, although I will say this -- he's the most honest totalitarian of the bunch. He's an instantly familiar type -- an angry old man railing against his lifelong enemies. His rhetoric is infused with sulfuric acid. He cannot understand why the world doesn't bend to his will. He's implacable. He's only happy when it rains. He had a moment in 2016 when his opponent was the odious careerist Hillary Clinton, but he's not going to make it out of a 20+ person field.
  • Kamala Harris is really a nasty piece of work. She put the cap into Biden about busing, even though it's doubtful her story about being a second grader on a bus in Berkeley will check out (and I'm sure Biden's panicked staff is going full oppo on it). Her parents weren't sharecroppers or factory workers who were part of the Great Northern Migration; they were academics. Like Ted Cruz, she grew up in Canada, graduating from high school in Montreal. She is trying to position herself as a champion of the downtrodden, but as a career prosecutor she's going to receive flak for sins of omission and commission. She will certainly be in position to be the nominee, especially since the California primary is early on the schedule, but I expect the other campaigns are going to do everything they can to take her out tout de suite, as they say in Quebec.
  • Pete "Mayor Pete" Buttigieg is a more polite demagogue than Harris or Bernie, but he's a demagogue nonetheless. His disquisition on Republicans and Christianity was particularly dishonest; while a Venn diagram of Christians and Republicans would show considerable overlap, Buttigieg purposely distorts cause and effect. Conservative Christians support Republicans because Republicans are not, in the main, as actively hostile to Christianity as the Democratic Party regularly reveals itself to be. Doing so isn't an abdication of values; rather, it's a tactical move to survive a party that would stomp out dissent. Mayor Pete is a clever guy who is really running for Vice President, but my guess is his smug style will begin to grate and some of the other candidates will use recent events in South Bend to send him back there.
  • Image result for tracy flick election
    Dear Lord Jesus, I do not often speak with you and ask for things, but now I really must insist that you help me win the election tomorrow because I deserve it and Joe Biden doesn't, as you well know.
  • I've not seen "Election," the 1999 Reese Witherspoon vehicle, but the character she played in the movie, Tracy Flick, has become part of the culture -- the overweening high school steamroller who will stop at nothing to get what she wants. Kirsten Gillibrand is like that. She was obnoxious on the debate stage and the recipient of dirty stares from just about every other participant. No one wants to deal with people like her, so she's not going to make it. 
  • The two Coloradans on the stage, John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet, both tried to be moderate in varying ways. They aren't going to make it.
  • Image result for greg marmalard
    I have $100,000 in student loan debt and dirty diapers, so I'm going to take your guns away!
  • There's something about Eric Swalwell's smarminess that causes a visceral reaction for me, so I'll have to tread carefully. He reminds me of the Greg Marmalard character in Animal House -- smug, phony, sneaky, the sort of guy who would stick a shiv in your back without blinking an eye. Fortunately, he's got no chance. 
  • Andrew Yang is the most interesting candidate in the field, by a long shot. Unsurprisingly, he got about 3 minutes to talk. His website is brimming with ideas, some daft, some quite good. I especially like his stance on data privacyConsent should be informed and active – companies are responsible for ensuring that they collect a positive opt-in from each user before collecting any data, and this opt-in should be accompanied by a clear and easy-to-understand statement about what data is being collected, and how it is going to be used. You can waive these rights and opt in to sharing your data if you wish for the companies’ benefit and your own convenience – but then you should receive a share of the economic value generated from your data. I don't want Yang to be president, but once his campaign hits room temperature Donald Trump ought to adopt some of Yang's ideas for his own campaign.
  • Marianne Williamson is your sophomore year college girlfriend. She wrote you a poem called "Mensch and Moonchild" and gave you a few mind-blowing memories behind the stadium, but ultimately you're grateful that she went on a field term to Ecuador in the second semester.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Clown Show, Part 1

I watched the first Dem debate last night. Quick impressions:

  • Elizabeth Warren was omnipresent at first, speaking 6-7 times in the first half hour, but then largely disappeared the rest of the way. I am guessing someone got to the NBC moderators to let them know people were keeping track. She has "plans," but other than demanding more research about various issues, she didn't seem to have a plan for actual governance. NBC did her a favor by limiting her exposure in the second half of the debate.
  • Oh, everyone here in Minnesota is rooting for Our Amy, but she doesn't have the chops. Her magic surname means nothing across the St. Croix River. She got off one semi-amusing line about conducting foreign policy in pajamas, which was probably a shot about Trump's Tweeting habits, but other than that she didn't register.
  • Beto O'Rourke was a disaster. He's the emptiest of suits and his near miss against Ted Cruz in the last cycle tells you more about Cruz than it does about O'Rourke. He has nothing to say and doesn't say it especially well, either. He demonstrated the ability to speak high school level Spanish, though. Muy bien, dude.
  • Cory Booker is a demagogue of the first rank, but he comes off as a bit, well, loony. He's long had a history of telling dubious anecdotes (his mythical pal T-Bone comes to mind), and his assertion about hearing gunshots in his neighborhood is an admission against interest -- sir, if you were mayor of Newark, shouldn't you have solved that issue by now? Many words, little substance.
  • Julian Castro wants to pass the Equal Rights Amendment. And he'd also like complete open borders, apparently. He also wants "reproductive justice," but not for the unborn. And he'd like transgender women, who don't have a uterus, to have the ability to have an abortion, too. He's in touch with his world, I guess.
  • Tulsi Gabbard has no shot, but she's interesting. She's a non-interventionist and that's an increasingly popular stance. She is also an attractive woman, but it didn't seem to help her much yesterday. 
  • Bill De Blasio is not going to win. He's a left-wing Chris Christie with even less charm. He's likely to get run out of office in New York in the next election cycle. Other than that, he's just fine.
  • John Delaney sounded sensible. But he looks like Mr. Peterson on The Bob Newhart Show. And we haven't elected a bald dude president since Eisenhower. And John Delaney is a former backbencher congressman from Maryland, not the Supreme Allied Commander.
    Frightened by Jay Inslee
  • Jay Inslee was actually kinda frightening. And he looks like former Gophers coach Tim "Get That Chili Hot" Brewster. He's a one-note samba about climate change and came across as the sort of guy who would strap non-believers onto a windmill. 
    Losing again
    I am glad a sizable mountain range separates Inslee from the rest of the country.
  • Tim Ryan is, from what we're told, a congressman from Ohio who has represented the Youngstown area for a long time. As Ohio congressmen go, he's far less entertaining than his predecessor James Traficant was, but he's got the baleful stare down pat. Here he looks like he wants to strangle Tulsi Gabbard with his bare hands:
The look of love is in your eyes
So who won the debate? Donald Trump. We'll see what the second clown show looks like tonight.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Safety School, Baby!

My alma mater gets a nod from the Style Section of the Washington Post, but not of the sort it would want:
But I’m still at a loss about what to do with a situation like Kyle Kashuv’s. And not in some what-is-the-meaning-of-redemption way. But practically speaking: Unless we seal them all in a cave, people who do bad (but not illegal) things are going to continue to be part of our society. What do we think that should look like? What is your personal vision?
The miscreant in question is Kyle Kashuv, a top student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who had the credentials to get into Harvard, but was drummed out because SJWs don't like 2nd Amendment types (Kashuv spoke in favor of the 2nd Amendment, unlike his classmate David Hogg, who is sailing into Harvard with less stellar credentials but a more correct worldview). The SJW spelunking teams dug up some nasty texts he wrote two years ago, where he apparently used the "n" word and maybe said some other uncharitable things that 16-year-old dudes say as they marinate in testosterone. Harvard doesn't want him now, so what to do with him? Post Style Writer/Moral Arbiter Monica Hesse has some suggestions (emphasis in original):
University of Florida? I saw someone suggest that as a possible destination for Kashuv. The argument went that Kashuv shouldn’t be rewarded with the prestige of the Ivy League, but maybe could go off to some less illustrious institution, where he could then continue to work on himself.

I actually saw a fair number of suggestions like this: Not Harvard. Somewhere else. Somewhere less good. The solution seemed reasonable, but it had a tinge of classism, an element of passing the buck. If you don’t believe that Harvard students should have to attend classes with someone who has used racist terminology within the past two years, then why would you subject University of Florida students to that? Or students from Beloit or Colorado State? Would those universities even admit him, or would they follow Harvard’s lead?
Beloit! My alma mater! The quintessential safety school! Beloit, the self-proclaimed "Yale of the Midwest," known up and down the Acela Corridor as a place to park your kid if he's not smart enough to get into Harvard, or was too busy doing bong hits at Pomfret to crack the code at Princeton. But should my fair school be the place where people who are Not Our Kind, Dear have to serve their penance? For her part, Monica Hesse went to Bryn Mawr, a place where one can sniff the glory of the Ivy League from the Philadelphia Main Line. Her school is a member in good standing of the all-female Seven Sisters, so a brute like Kashuv can't even try to go there. Besides which, elite liberal arts schools on the eastern seaboard are right out, including the other proper places in Bryn Mawr's neighborhood; I suspect Haverford would provide no haven and Swarthmore would swat him away, too, so he'll need to go someplace in District 10, where they keep the livestock. Thus, the Beloit dilemma.

Maybe I'm being churlish about this; perhaps Beloiters should be grateful that Hesse doesn't really want to subject my alma mater with an irredeemable type like Kashuv. After all, the Yale of the Midwest needs to maintain its own smelly orthodoxies and a guy who actually likes guns might scare the other matriculants. Hesse is concerned, though -- something has to be done, you see:
What does it look like to make amends? How do we decide what’s redeemable, for example, and then how does a person actually become redeemed? What kind of roles does our society allow for them, and when?

When I read Baker’s essay, I didn’t know what to do with the bad men. I didn’t know where they should go, or what the right societal reentry would be. I didn’t want to talk about the bad men at all, but eventually we’ll need to.
The Baker in question is Katie Baker, whose essay concerns what to do with men who run afoul of #MeToo. No one has suggested Kashuv has a sexual issue, other than obviously being too in love with guns so he must be compensating for something, I guess.

Ultimately, we're back to the same cultural turf where we encountered the Covington Catholic kids, who were bad by definition, even though those doing the defining, including Hesse's employer, were wrong. Nicholas Sandmann is suing Monica Hesse's employer. Kyle Kashuv won't be, most likely. But I have two questions -- first, why on earth would Kyle Kashuv want "societal reentry" in the world Monica Hesse inhabits? And second, who made Hesse and her ilk the arbiters of such things?

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Pour encourager les autres

Oberlin College has an eight-figure problem:
A Lorain County jury awarded Gibson’s Bakery $33 million in punitive damages in a case against Oberlin College on Thursday bringing the total damages in the case to more than $40 million.

The jury found the the college and Vice President and Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo liable on three different counts last Friday, awarding more than $11 million in actual damages. 
The counts were:
  • Defamation - Oberlin College and Raimondo were found liable
  • Infliction of intentional emotional distress - Oberlin College was found liable
  • Intentional interference of business relationships - Raimondo was found liable
$44 million is a huge sum, even for a school with an endowment of over $850 million. Oberlin is going to keep fighting, apparently. From the linked article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer:
Oberlin College President Carmen Twillie Ambar in a letter to the campus community on Friday expressed dissatisfaction with the jury’s decision, and signaled the college plans to appeal its findings.

“Let me be absolutely clear: This is not the final outcome. This is, in fact, just one step along the way of what may turn out to be a lengthy and complex legal process,” Twillie Ambar said. “We are disappointed in the jury’s decisions and the fragmentary and sometimes distorted public discussion of this case. But we respect the integrity of the jury, and we value our relationship with the town and region that are our home.”
While the first rule of holes applies in this case, I get it -- it's likely the punitive damage award will be reduced on appeal, but the chances of getting the case thrown out entirely are about nil. The facts of the case aren't good for Oberlin:
The case filed in 2017 stemmed from Oberlin and Raimondo’s conduct after a string of student protests outside the bakery where protesters called the owners racist.

Three black students were arrested in 2016 after one tried to use a fake ID and shoplifted from the bakery, according to the Chronicle-Telegram. The owner’s son, who is white, followed the students and got into a fight with them.

Soon after, students protested outside of the bakery to the extent where local police testified that they considered pulling in outside help.
Protest might be soft-pedaling things a bit. Legal Insurrection adds some context:

After the initial protest that said Gibson’s was racist, Oberlin College did nothing to put out the fire, and in fact added to it. That is more than likely what made the jury think they school had acted with “malice’ toward Gibson’s, the primary piece of the punitive damage puzzle. Rather than put out a statement that Gibson’s was not racist, the school put out a letter on Nov. 11 from the school president and the dean of students that said, “Regarding the incident at Gibson’s, we are deeply troubled because we have heard from students that there is more to the story than what has been generally reported. We will commit every resource to determining the full and true narrative, including exploring whether this is a pattern and not an isolated incident.”
That statement was not part of the defamation claim, but set a tone of indifference. And it was that indifference by the school, plus emails and texts that showed vitriolic attitude in them, that perhaps caused the jury to go very high on the punitive damages.

According to the evidence presented, the school never did determine “any full and true narrative” and found out as most everyone in the community knew, that the Gibsons had never had and history of racism on any kind. But the school still cut the business off from its cafeteria delivery business (bagels, pastries and pizza dough). Students stopped shopping at the store. Revenues dropped by a huge amount (from about $900,000 in 2016 down to about $500,000 in 2018) and Oberlin College never did anything to rectify the situation.
Of course. Facts aren't important in a narrative-driven world. And even now, the facts don't matter on the Oberlin campus:
The damage was worse than most realize. On a walk through campus several weekends ago, this reporter talked to about 20 students at random on campus, and every one of them said they would never shop at Gibson’s because the business and family are racist. When shown the police reports and the fact that the three shoplifters plead guilty and claimed “no racial profiling” was involved, most of the students I spoke with said, “Cops lie.”
Do cops lie? Some do. But SJWs lie as well. And that's the crux here. The town of Oberlin has less than 10,000 citizens. Oberlin College is the center of the community. And it's been a lefty enclave forever. But there's a difference between conventional liberalism and the the SJW lunacy emanating from college campuses these days. Back to Legal Insurrection:
But in the end, this was. a case that will be one that is pointed to as a “tipping point” of sorts. [Plaintiff attorney Lee] Plakas repeatedly told the jury that this was bigger than them, and that they could make a statement to the country “that this type of behavior is unacceptable to any community because a big collegiate institution like Oberlin College has a responsibility to their community and neighbors, and not just to themselves.”
The message has to send a shudder through other liberal arts colleges, especially ones less well-heeled than Oberlin. My alma mater, Beloit College, has an endowment about 1/4th of Oberlin's. If Beloit were hit with an 8-figure judgment, the college would probably end up closing its doors. A similar result would put every other liberal arts college in Wisconsin out of business as well. The saying is, "get woke, go broke." The pathology of totalitarian thinking can survive on campus, but for the moment the real world isn't having it.

Friday, June 07, 2019

Just so we're clear

A pro-life Democrat is a contradiction in terms. It is not allowed.
Former Vice President Joe Biden says he now wants to throw out the Hyde Amendment, dropping his long-held support for the measure that blocks federal funds from being used for most abortions amid criticism from his 2020 Democratic rivals.

"If I believe health care is a right, as I do, I can no longer support an amendment that makes that right dependent on someone's ZIP code," he said.

The Hyde Amendment is a four-decade-old ban on federal dollars being used for abortions except in cases of rape, incest or when the woman's life is in danger.
Meanwhile, Ann Althouse makes a great point about Joe Biden's flipping and flopping on the Hyde Amendment (emphasis in original):
I thought the whole point of Biden was that he was the one that other people would vote for. If he squares up his positions with the other Democratic candidates, the Biden's reason for being a candidate collapses.

I was going to say the Democrats are screwing up their "other people" reasoning, but I see that it's pretty clever of all the non-Biden candidates to lure him into surrendering his big advantage. Well played!
The guy on the port side I'm going to be watching is Dan Lipinski, a congresscritter who represents a southwest suburban enclave of Chicago. He's one of the few pro-life Democrats still existing. He got primaried hard in 2018, but prevailed. The same candidate, Marie Newman, is looking to oust him again. Newman has Bernie Sanders's endorsement and Lipinski is getting plenty o' hate (weird parentheticals in original):
According to HuffPost, Lipinski was mentioned at the event as an attendee by Kathy Ireland, who was the emcee. (Normal sentence.) Lipinski was endorsed by the SBA in his last race, and the organization had a “six-figure GOTV effort” that “reached more than 23,000 voters,” according to an SBA press release. Lipinski won his primary race by two points.

But his primary opponent, Marie Newman, is running against him again in 2020, picking up an endorsement from Bernie Sanders yesterday. In April, Politico reported that Newman’s campaign had seen consultants fleeing after the DCCC announced a policy preventing its vendors from working with primary challengers, with the consultants describing the warning they received from the DCCC as “a very clear threat to their ability to do business with” the organization.

The Susan B. Anthony List supports anti-abortion politicians, most of whom are Republicans running against Democrats. (Every dull scold who can’t shut up about Bernie Sanders not being a Democrat—might there be more important and troubling targets for your ire, maybe?) A large section of its homepage currently encourages visitors to read about “President Trump’s Pro-Life Wins.” That page details the organization’s “Largest Pro-Life Grassroots Campaign for Three Election Cycles,” which it says included targeting “pro-life Latino & pro-life Democrat” voters.

In case you still weren't clear, writer Libby Watson drives the point home -- since this is generally a family publication, I'll redact the f-bombs:
After weeks of horrible abortion news, all I can say is: f__k you, Dan Lipinski, you weird weasel asshole. F__k any Democrat that defends him, and the DCCC for not casting him out. Oh, and f__k Kathy Ireland, too.
Have a nice day, I guess.

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Still plugging away

I remain hopeful something will break my way soon.

Saturday, June 01, 2019

Man of the Moment

You really should read the transcript of Attorney General William Barr's interview with Jan Crawford of CBS News. I'm going to point out two examples of why Barr is exactly the guy we need at this moment:

Image result for william barr
Honey badger

JAN CRAWFORD: You're saying that spying occurred. There's not anything necessarily wrong with that.


JAN CRAWFORD: As long as there's a reason for it.

WILLIAM BARR: Whether it's adequately predicated. And look, I think if we -- we are worried about foreign influence in the campaign? We should be because the heart of our system is the peaceful transfer of power through elections and what gives the government legitimacy is that process. And if foreign elements can come in and affect it, that's bad for the republic. But by the same token, it's just as, it's just as dangerous to the continuation of self-government and our republican system, republic that we not allow government power, law enforcement or intelligence power, to play a role in politics, to intrude into politics, and affect elections.

JAN CRAWFORD: So it's just as dangerous- So when we talk about foreign interference versus say a government abuse of power, which is more troubling?

WILLIAM BARR: Well they're both, they're both troubling.


WILLIAM BARR: In my mind, they are, sure. I mean, republics have fallen because of Praetorian Guard mentality where government officials get very arrogant, they identify the national interest with their own political preferences and they feel that anyone who has a different opinion, you know, is somehow an enemy of the state. And you know, there is that tendency that they know better and that, you know, they're there to protect as guardians of the people. That can easily translate into essentially supervening the will of the majority and getting your own way as a government official.

JAN CRAWFORD: And you are concerned that that may have happened in 2016?

WILLIAM BARR: Well, I just think it has to be carefully look at because the use of foreign intelligence capabilities and counterintelligence capabilities against an American political campaign to me is unprecedented and it's a serious red line that's been crossed.
Emphasis mine. Partisanship is one thing, but Barr points out the real danger, which is the certainty of thought that flows from Orange Man Bad. As I've observed the last 3-4 years, the greatest realization I've had to face is discovering that many of the things I believe weren't, ahem, adequately predicated.

The end of the interview is even more important:

JAN CRAWFORD: But when you came into this job, you were kind of, it's like the US Attorney in Connecticut, I mean, you had a good reputation on the right and on the left. You were a man with a good reputation. You are not someone who is, you know, accused of protecting the president, enabling the president, lying to Congress. Did you expect that coming in? And what is your response to it? How do you? What's your response to that?

WILLIAM BARR: Well in a way I did expect it.


WILLIAM BARR: Yeah, because I realize we live in a crazy hyper-partisan period of time and I knew that it would only be a matter of time if I was behaving responsibly and calling them as I see them, that I would be attacked because nowadays people don't care about the merits and the substance. They only care about who it helps, who benefits, whether my side benefits or the other side benefits, everything is gauged by politics. And as I say, that's antithetical to the way the department runs and any attorney general in this period is going to end up losing a lot of political capital and I realize that and that is one of the reasons that I ultimately was persuaded that I should take it on because I think at my stage in life it really doesn't make any difference.

JAN CRAWFORD: You are at the end of your career, or?

WILLIAM BARR: I am at the end of my career. I've you know--

JAN CRAWFORD: Does it, I mean, it's the reputation that you have worked your whole life on though?

WILLIAM BARR: Yeah, but everyone dies and I am not, you know, I don't believe in the Homeric idea that you know, immortality comes by, you know, having odes sung about you over the centuries, you know?
Emphasis mine. This is a man who doesn't care if he gets dissed in the Washington Post, or doesn't get to hang at the cocktail parties in Georgetown. He understands there is no value in holding the esteem of jackals. He may look like a cross between John Goodman and Roger Ebert, but he is Shane. This is the man of the moment.

UPDATE: if you weren't certain that Barr is the guy we need, consider this: swamp denizen Jonathan Chait is terrified.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Apologies to Tom Lehrer

Don't say that he's hypocritical
Say rather that he's apolitical
"Once the slanders are up, who cares where they come down?
That's not my department" says Mueller von Braun

Sunday, May 26, 2019

RIP, Bart Starr

A great Packer, but a better human being.

Image result for bart starr
In action against the Fearsome Foursome
I only got to see him play at the very end of his career, after the glory days were done. He is one of the most important players in NFL history. But his legacy is more than his exploits on the gridiron. He also helped countless at-risk young men through his Rawhide Boys Ranch program, which continues to this day. He was a legend on the gridiron, but he left footprints well beyond that space. RIP.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

For what it's worth

Since I'm seeing a lot of chatter on social media about Trump supposedly delaying the Harriet Tubman $20 bill because he's a Bad Orange Man, a reminder from 2016 is in order:
Millions of Americans rejoiced yesterday when the U.S. Treasury announced that it would replace Andrew Jackson with Harriet Tubman on the face of the $20 bill. However, their celebrations may be premature: It could be a decade or more before the bill is actually in circulation.

The problem is the slow pace at which the U.S. government typically moves to adopt change, according to Wired. In a letter posted on Medium, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said the Bureau of Engraving and Printing will unveil new looks for the $5, $10 and $20 bills in 2020 in honor of the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage.

The new bills won’t go into circulation then, however; they’ll merely be shown to the public. It could take many more years to pass before the average American has a wallet full of Harriet Tubman $20s.

The hold-up is in part due to security concerns: The blue anti-counterfeit strip on the $100 bill took 15 years to develop. The Treasury is also committed to making the new bills more accessible for the visually impaired, meaning that they may have to develop new texture details. In true vague government fashion, a Treasury spokesperson said it’s impossible to predict when the new bills will be ready.
Jack Lew could promise anything, but the wheels turn slowly, especially since $20 and $100 bills are the ones counterfeiters favor. For an outlet to say we won't see Tubman Twenties until after Trump leaves office is simultaneously true and false.

Tommies get the boot

So the University of St. Thomas is getting the boot from the MIAC, and the decision is getting national attention. Even Sports Illustrated has weighed in:
The Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) is showing one of its most successful founding members the door.

The 13-school Division III league has decided to kick out the University of St. Thomas, one of its founding members, due to concerns about “athletic competitive parity.”

In short, St. Thomas is just too good at sports for the rest of the MIAC, and if the Tommies had stayed, the teams they had been pummeling were considering leaving, threatening the future of the conference.
Most people have been concentrating on the exploits of the Tommies on the gridiron, where they've been less than gentle in their treatment of their foes, as SI notes:
St. Thomas has an enrollment about twice the size of the next largest school in the MIAC and is one of just two league members with at least 100 players on the football team, according to Pat Borzi of MinnPost. Add in the fact that in 2017 the Tommies’ conference results included an 84–0 rout of Hamline and a 97–0 thrashing of St. Olaf, and it starts to make sense why other schools wanted them gone.
I couldn't find footage of the St. Olaf game, but it was something like this:

So football is a source of contention, but the larger issue is the overall level of dominance:
St. Thomas only started dominating football after current coach Glenn Caruso arrived in 2008, but the school has begun to dominate most other sports, too. Since the 2013–14 school year, St. Thomas has 72 MIAC titles across all sports; the next closest league member has 16. 
We've seen this before -- my beloved alma mater, Beloit College, got the boot from the Midwest Conference in 1951. Tom Oates from the Wisconsin State Journal tells the story:
Starting with the 1945-46 season, [Coach Dolph] Stanley built a program that would compile a 242-58 record in 12 years, finish as high as third in what became the NAIA tournament and become so dominant it was expelled from the Midwest Conference following its sixth consecutive title in 1951.

There were no divisions in NCAA basketball at the time, but Stanley's teams beat many schools that are now household name4s in Division I, including DePaul and Loyola from Chicago, Indiana State (coached by John Wooden), Houston, Brigham Young, Washington State, Arizona and Florida State.

"He tried to schedule as many (big-time) teams as he could," said Johnny Orr, who also graduated from Beloit in 1949, coached at Michigan and Iowa State and now lives near Naples, Fla. "We travelled everywhere, man. We'd play anybody and we'd beat most of 'em."
About that last Midwest Conference game -- Beloit edged Cornell (Iowa) 131-43 in the title game. Beloit then went on to NIT, which was then a prestigious tournament, losing to Seton Hall. In his day, Stanley was merciless:
Stanley, who died in 1990, used his pressing, fastbreaking style to fill Beloit's new field house and confuse opponents.

"I remember once we were really killing the other team and there was a timeout and the coach came up the floor and he had tears in his eyes," said [former UW-Madison coach John] Erickson, who lives near Kansas City. "He said to Dolph, ‘You've got to let us get the ball to halfcourt. I've never seen this before. I don't know what you call it, but we can't get the ball up to midcourt.' And Dolph said, ‘Well, you're going to have to learn to do that I guess.' "
The Bucs of that era featured Erickson, who coached the Badgers in the 1960s, along with Johnny Orr, who coached at Michigan and Iowa State for many years, and Ron Bontemps, the star player on the 1952 U.S. Olympic team. It wasn't sustainable; Stanley eventually left and went on to Drake and the Bucs eventually were welcomed back into the Midwest Conference, where these days they are often a footwipe.

The Tommies don't have superstars, but they often get guys like Jacques Parra, who was a Division 1 player who transferred to St. Thomas and was the quarterback who led the gentle 97-0 win over the unfortunate Oles.

I'm torn about this. The Tommies are dominant in just about every sport in the MIAC, which makes it tough for the other schools to take. It’s not just about football. I understand the argument, but it’s common in all competitive activities for the dominant program to move up a level in competition. Have the Tommies have reached that point? I think so.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Let it all hang out

President Donald Trump has ordered that the information and underlying evidence that led to the Russia investigation be declassified in a move that could alter the political landscape surrounding Democrats' moves to potentially impeach him.
Some detail of how it will go down:

 President Trump has assigned ownership of the Directive to U.S. Attorney General William Barr. This part was predictable because the purpose of declassification would be to facilitate a DOJ review of how the intelligence apparatus was used in the 2016 election.

Additionally, because the DOJ review encompasses intelligence systems potentially weaponized in 2016 for political purposes and intents, President Trump carries: (a) declassification authority; but also: (b) an inherent conflict.  In this DOJ endeavor candidate Trump would have been the target of corrupt agency activity; and therefore would be considered the target/victim if weaponization were affirmed by evidence.

To avoid the conflict President Trump designates the U.S. Attorney General as arbiter and decision-maker for the purposes of declassifying evidence within the investigation:

…”The Attorney General has also been delegated full and complete authority to declassify information pertaining to this investigation, in accordance with the long-established standards for handling classified information.”

Additionally, AG Bill Barr does not need to assemble the intelligence product for approval by the executive (Trump).  Instead the office of the president is granting the AG full unilateral decision-making as to each product being considered for declassification.
It's a tough job for Barr, especially since the Dems are going to vilify him for every move that he makes. But based on what we've observed, he doesn't care what the Dems say. He cares about what they did, especially in 2016.

What's even more interesting is the scope and departments involved:

Secondly, following protocol, the Memorandum is specific to the agencies carrying the documentation that will be reviewed by the Attorney General: The Secretary of State (Pompeo); the Secretary of Treasury (Mnuchin); the Secretary of Defense (Shanahan); the Secretary of Energy (Perry); the Secretary of Homeland Security (McAleenan); the Director of National Intelligence (Coats); the Director of the CIA (Haspel), and the Attorney General himself (Barr).

The agencies give insight into the intelligence product (ie. evidence) being reviewed.  The Treasury and Energy agency was surprisingly notable:
. . .

Considering the purpose of the Memorandum: “The Attorney General is currently conducting a review of intelligence activities relating to the campaigns in the 2016 Presidential election and certain related matters“…  The appearance of Treasury and Energy would indicate the pre-existence of investigative evidence; that would be subject to ongoing DOJ review; and potentially be part of ongoing proceedings. 
Potential target issues could include: (1) an investigation of Uranium One; (2) an investigation of the Clinton Foundation; and, (3) an investigation of matters related to payments to Iran.

Treasury would come into play with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS); which was part of the Uranium One process and also included the Dept. of Energy.  Additional related matters could include George Papadopoulos $10k (Treasury); and The Clinton Foundation. 
What it does mean for sure -- large swathes of the Obama administration are potentially under the microscope. The "scandal-free administration" canard is likely to be laid bare. That's a good thing.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The same thing everywhere you go

Reporting from Australia, where the leftish Labor Party went down to an ignominious defeat over the weekend, Claire Lehmann sees some familiar behaviors:
Progressive politicians like to assume that, on election day at least, blue-collar workers and urban progressives will bridge their differences, and make common cause to support leftist economic policies. This assumption might once have been warranted. But it certainly isn’t now—in large part because the intellectuals, activists and media pundits who present the most visible face of modern leftism are the same people openly attacking the values and cultural tastes of working and middle-class voters. And thanks to social media (and the caustic news-media culture that social media has encouraged and normalized), these attacks are no longer confined to dinner-party titterings and university lecture halls. Brigid Delaney, a senior writer for Guardian Australia, responded to Saturday’s election result with a column about how Australia has shown itself to be “rotten.” One well-known Australian feminist and op-ed writer, Clementine Ford, has been fond of Tweeting sentiments such as “All men are scum and must die.” Former Australian Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane, who also has served as a high-profile newspaper columnist, argues that even many mainstream political positions—such as expressing concern about the Chinese government’s rising regional influence—are a smokescreen for racism.
Rotten. Scum, Racist. Yeah, that's all quite familiar. If you actually engage on social media, you're likely to be called all those things, whether you're Down Under or in a coffee shop in Linden Hills. Haters are more likely to let their freak flags fly these days and while it's no long astonishing to see it, the ferocity still can bring you up short. 

Monday, May 20, 2019

Fair questions

You may have heard that Rep. Justin Amash, R-Michigan, is now calling for Bad Orange Man's impeachment. If you have followed Amash's career, you are likely aware that he is best known for being a libertarian of the Ron Paul stripe.

So how do you square that philosophy with supporting the Big State behavior of Trump's tormentors? Not sure you can, really. A few other relevant questions from Liz Sheld:
One more thing, J-Am, where are your libertarian principles regarding illegal surveillance on American citizens? On Illegal FISA warrants, national security letters, human intelligence assets being placed around a political campaign by the unelected political bureaucracy? The jack-booted fedgov strong-arming people to plead to process crimes? U cool with that bro, because TRUMP?
I would bet Amash won't answer those questions. But he should, because a principled politician (I know, I know) would have greater concerns over the behavior of the government before and after Trump took office. Amash may be many things, but he's not a libertarian if he's cool with what happened to candidate Trump.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Still alive

A few quick updates and ruminations from the blogger:

  • Things are picking up on the job search a bit -- I feel confident I will be back in the saddle soon. More as I know more.
  • We were back in St. Louis earlier in the week to bring Fearless Maria back for the summer. We would definitely like to have the state of Iowa physically removed from the trip. It's 566 miles each way from our house to the campus. That's a lot of driving.
  • Politics continue to meander, but I sense AG Barr is starting to frighten the correct people. That's an encouraging sign. Let's see if they do anything more than identify the miscreants. If Roger Stone gets a no-knock nighttime raid, James Comey really ought to have one, too.
  • Or better yet, let's get rid of no-knock nighttime raids altogether, please? This Gestapo stuff really needs to end.
  • As expected, the citizenry of Minnesota and Wisconsin both have big-time buyer's remorse concerning their respective governors. It's worth remembering; even if you don't like Bad Orange Man, he's not likely to do much more than irritate your sensibilities. Democrats like to take your things.
  • Fear the Deer.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Doris Day, RIP

97 years old. Quite a run.

"My last picture for Warners was Romance on the High Seas. It was Doris Day's first picture; that was before she became a virgin."

-- Oscar Levant

A world long gone. RIP.

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Rejected Prince Archie Baby Names

Spaghetti Day
in One Hour (at Walgreens)
Bel Air
New Power Generation

Add your own in the comments!

Friday, May 03, 2019

Open thread

Lake Johanna, Arden Hills, MN

Thursday, May 02, 2019

Dirty Cop Barr

I saw a little of the circus up on Capitol Hill yesterday, in which various half-witted Democratic senators (redundant, I suppose) tried to turn Attorney General William Barr into an international supervillain. I thought to myself --

  • they don't really believe any of their claims, but 
  • they need to get the narrative rolling right away, because 
  • when Barr starts indicting people, they will then be able to claim he's a Trump stooge, and 
  • that Hillary Clinton in particular needed to have that narrative in the air

As usual, Victor Davis Hanson got there first, with a list of useful reminders:
Russians likely fed salacious but untrue allegations about Trump to ex-British spy Christopher Steele, who was being paid in part by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee to find dirt on Trump.

The Russians rightly assumed that Steele would lap up their fantasies, seed them among Trump-hating officials in the Barack Obama administration and thereby cause hysteria during the election, the transition and, eventually, the Trump presidency.

Russia succeeded in sowing such chaos, thanks ultimately to Clinton, who likely had broken federal laws by using a British national and, by extension, Russian sources to warp an election. Without the fallacious Steele dossier, the entire Russian collusion hoax never would have taken off.
100% true statement. Back to Hanson:
Without Steele's skullduggery, there likely would have been no Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court-approved surveillance of Trump aide Carter Page. There might have been no FBI plants inserted into the Trump campaign. There might have been no subsequent leaking to the press of classified documents to prompt a Trump collusion investigation.

Given the Steele travesty and other past scandals, it is inexplicable that Clinton has not been indicted.
It is. But her luck could be running out soon, despite the 20-screen multiplex of project emanating from Cory Booker, Mazie Hirono, Kamala Harris, et al. Why? Back to Hanson:
For much of her professional life, Hillary Clinton had acted above and beyond the law on the assumption that as the wife of a governor, as first lady of the United States, as a senator from New York, as secretary of state and as a two-time candidate for the presidency, she could ignore the law without worry over the consequences.

For Clinton now to project that the president should be indicted suggests she is worried about her own potential indictment. And she is rightly concerned that for the first time in 40 years, neither she nor her husband is serving in government or running for some office, and therefore could be held accountable.
Thus, she and her patrons must turn William Barr into a dirty cop. The alternative?

Monday, April 29, 2019

Hear the children/Don't turn around oh oh oh

It's great fun to be a commissar, Megan McArdle reminds us:
Revolutionaries and reformers, working from outside the system, can't force people to renounce wrong-think by threatening to strip them of their livelihoods and drum them out of the public square. Those weapons are available only to the powers-that-be.

To advocate such tactics is therefore to admit that you are no longer fighting the system, but that you are the system -- that in the centers of cultural production, at least, Rosa Luxemburg is giving way to the commissars, and Martin Luther to the Grand Inquisitor.
McArdle is referencing recent events at Middlebury College, but she could have just as easily used any number of other liberal arts colleges, including my own alma mater. To get a sense of what's going on, consider the demands of the Middlebury student government:
Any organization or academic department that invites a speaker to campus will be required to fill out a due diligence form created by the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in coordination with the SGA Institutional Diversity Committee. These questions should be created to determine whether a speaker’s beliefs align with Middlebury’s community standards, removing the burden of researching speakers from the student body.
Heterodox opinions need not apply. There's more:
Additionally, administrators will ask Faculty Council to require all academic departments to have Student Advisory Boards which will have access to a list of speakers invited by the department at least a month in advance. The Student Advisory Boards’ purpose will be to ask the student body for potential community input when necessary.
They won't really be asking, though.

One tradition that many schools have is to assign a book to all incoming freshmen. I might suggest future Middlebury students ought to be given a copy of Lord of the Flies and a mirror. But in the meantime, there is the matter of all the undergrad commissars and their enforcement of woke orthodoxy. Back to McArdle:
Woke-ism may have some of the emotional tenor of church, but it lacks the supernatural beliefs and cohesive ritual of a real faith.

As for cultural socialism ... what could "collective ownership of the means of production" mean when applied to culture, which is collectively produced now and always has been?

I suspect that both sides are searching for a different word, one associated with both religion and Marxism: What they are trying to describe is an orthodoxy, a received wisdom enforced not by argument but by social, economic or even violent coercion.
So how do you enforce it?
Existing orthodoxies are largely self-enforcing, transmitted by a million little social signals you absorb without noticing.

Adopting a new orthodoxy, however, is messy. And while the new orthodoxy gropes toward its final shape, people living under it experience a special, debilitating terror: the fear that anything you say might be held against you, that what is mandatory today might be forbidden tomorrow, with ex post facto justice meted out to anyone who failed to anticipate the change.
It's a clear case, Herr Kommissar
'Cause all the children know
They're all slidin' down into the valley
They're all slipping on the same snow

Alles klar? 

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Ask an expert

The pot calling out the kettle:

It's going to be so sweet when Trump declassifies everything. And I remain convinced he will.

The Iger Sanction

Or, more properly, sanctioning someone who finds Disney honcho Bob Iger, well, icky. Take it away, Matthew Continetti:
If it were not for her last name, Abigail Disney would be just another alumna of Yale (B.A.), Stanford (M.A.), and Columbia (PhD) living in Manhattan. No one would pay SJmuch attention to her opinions, none of them especially unique or different from others shared by her class. But she is a Disney, dammit, and in America in the twenty-first century we must heed the rich and privileged, especially if they parrot the left wing of the Democratic Party. 
Abigail doesn't like money, you see. Well, making money. She's cool with her trust fund, but Iger is a businessman doing business and that won't do:
"I like Bob Iger," she wrote in a Twitter rant this week. "I do NOT speak for my family but only for myself." And she has nothing to do with the company other than holding shares "(not that many)." But Iger's compensation in 2018 of $65.6 million is "insane." Someone has to "speak out about the naked indecency" of it all, she wrote in an op-ed for the Washington Post, a newspaper owned by the richest man on Earth. 
Is Iger worth $65.6 million? Apparently so, since the Disney board of directors gladly paid it to him. Considering Disney's market cap has gone up by $25 billion on his watch, he seems to have a talent for creating value. But it's indecent to do that, you see.

Limousine liberals are, for my money, the most annoying subspecies you can find. Continetti does a fine job of illuminating what's inside the limo. Read the whole thing.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

This seems significant

Judicial Watch strikes again:
Judicial Watch announced today that a senior FBI official admitted, in writing and under oath, that the agency found Clinton email records in the Obama White House, specifically, the Executive Office of the President. The FBI also admitted nearly 49,000 Clinton server emails were reviewed as result of a search warrant for her material on the laptop of Anthony Weiner.

E.W. (Bill) Priestap, assistant director of the FBI Counterintelligence Division, made the disclosure to Judicial Watch as part of court-ordered discovery into the Clinton email issue.
There's more:
Priestap was asked by Judicial Watch to identify representatives of Hillary Clinton, her former staff, and government agencies from which “email repositories were obtained.” Priestap responded with the following non-exhaustive list: 
Bryan Pagliano
Cheryl Mills
Executive Office of the President [Emphasis added]
Heather Samuelson
Jacob Sullivan
Justin Cooper
United States Department of State
United States Secret Service
Williams & Connolly LLP 
Priestap also testifies that 48,982 emails were reviewed as a result of a warrant for Clinton email account information from the laptop of Anthony Weiner, who had been married to top Clinton aide Huma Abedin.
All the screaming about impeachment, especially now, is a distraction. Watch the show.


I tweaked the blog settings so links should now be screamingly obvious. Hope it helps and sorry about any confusion.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

The last honest Democrat?

Mark Penn, who worked as a pollster for Bill Clinton during the Whitewater investigation that morphed into Lewinskygate, has been probably the sanest portside observer of the continuing Mueller fandango. Writing for The Hill, he's got it nailed:
Most people don’t understand what it is to not only be personally investigated for something you didn’t do but also have your friends, family members and associates placed in legal jeopardy over it. Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team systematically targeted the people around the president, squeezing them like lemons, indicting them on mostly process crimes created by the investigation itself. They reviewed everyone’s emails, text messages, phone calls, bank statements — and yet their conclusion on collusion was clear and definitive. It has to be believed.
But it's not likely to stop Jerrold Nadler and Adam Schiff from staying on the trail. Why? Ask Penn:
But the problem is that Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) are congressmen from safe districts who are nobodies if they have no investigations to launch. It’s in the interest of their egos to keep it all going so that they can have daily press availabilities. And they are whipping up their political bases. It will take some Democrats of courage to turn this off and stop the abuse of going after the president’s financial records. These are the kinds of things Nixon was doing, and there is no justification for those in Congress to be doing exactly those things for which Nixon resigned from office — going after his political enemies.
Exactly. The Democrats are projecting more than a 20-screen multiplex and have been since the inception of this drama. Will they take Penn's advice and call off the chihuahuas? The bet here -- not a chance.

Friday, April 19, 2019

How's the blogger?

Checking in;

  • Things are okay. I am still committed to this feature, but the upheaval in my life has thrown things out of equilibrium. I do anticipate getting back to a more regular blogging schedule in the coming days.
  • Spring is here, finally. We hope.
  • I have a few things going now. Should know some more in the coming days.
Thanks for your support and friendship.

Prove you're innocent, Bad Orange Man!

So the Mueller Report (sounds like a failed Robert Ludlum novel) is out. And for all the hyperventilating about it, the most astonishing thing to me is that now, in 2019 America, you have to prove you're innocent. It has almost always been the case that if a prosecutor cannot find grounds to indict, they say so. Robert Mueller didn't indict, but he left the matter open. That's outrageous. Instead, he left a report filled with a bunch of nuggets so that others could continue to torment his quarry.

We've seen this before, actually. The corrupt Democrats in Wisconsin did the same thing to Scott Walker. The "John Doe" investigations of his campaign were thrown out by state and federal judges, but we got to read all of the prosecution's theories anyway. It was a disgrace. So is what happened to Donald Trump.

Bonus: see if you can spot the irony in the article I linked.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Res ipsa loquitur, yet again

No point in sugarcoating:

It's always something
I think Ilhan Omar should just keep talking.

Res ipsa loquitur

Maxine Waters, oversighting the heck out of those evil big banks:

Monday, April 08, 2019

Getting closer

I hope to get back to blogging more regularly soon. A few quick observations in the meantime:

  • If you haven't read Tyler Dunne's longform evisceration of the Packers, you should. Especially if you are a Packers fan. It's brutal, but Dunne is credible and the only way forward for this franchise and its fans is to understand the past.
  • There's been a lot of buzz about Pete Buttigieg, who at first glance appears to be freshest fresh face among the approximately 7,492 Democrats currently running for president. But is Mayor Pete any good at his current job, which is mayor of South Bend, Indiana? Daniel Greenfield takes a look and you should, too.
  • I've removed a few links from the sidebar. In most cases, they are sites I can no longer in good conscience recommend.
Thanks for your continued support of this feature. I do appreciate it!

Thursday, April 04, 2019

The words aren't there at the moment

We're still in a period of transition here. Although I have a lot of time available for blogging, I'm really not finding much that interests me, especially on the political front. The Democrats are eyeing the full Mueller Report much like Geraldo Rivera thought he had found Al Capone's vault. Apparently I'm supposed to be excited by the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, at least this week. Tim Walz turns out to be as incoherent a loon as his predecessor, if less prone to public mumbling. 

Is it thin gruel? I think so. But I'm not done blogging. It's possible things will be more interesting soon. Hope things are interesting with you. Meanwhile, the thread is open.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Just wondering

Are we okay with the deportment of Virginia politicians? Asking for a friend.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Approaching it

Peggy Noonan isn't a reliable narrator, but sometimes she gets close:
It is just such an air of extremeness on the field now, and it reflects a larger sense of societal alienation. We have the fierce teamism of the lonely, who find fellowship in their online fighting group and will say anything for its approval. There are the angry who find relief in politics because they can funnel their rage there, into that external thing, instead of examining closer and more uncomfortable causes. There are the people who cannot consider God and religion and have to put that energy somewhere.

America isn’t making fewer of the lonely, angry and unaffiliated, it’s making more every day.
Emphasis mine. She almost found it there. Substitute "will not" for "cannot" and try it again. You see it every time someone speaks not of God, but of some vague spirituality, which in nearly every instance is so protean to be without any structure at all, and is easily discarded, too. C.S. Lewis was on this one a long time ago:
The moment you have a self at all, there is a possibility of putting yourself first - wanting to be the centre - wanting to be God, in fact. That was the sin of Satan: and that was the sin he taught the human race. Some people think the fall of man had something to do with sex, but that is a mistake...what Satan put into the heads of our remote ancestors was the idea that they 'could be like Gods' - could set up on their own as if they had created themselves - be their own masters - invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside God, apart from God. And out of that hopeless attempt has come...the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.
It's tough business to make these arguments, especially as a Catholic, given the scandals of the Church that we have endured. But to reject a religious infrastructure and substitute politics instead always brings destruction. We will always struggle to know God; it's intrinsic to faith. Being God is infinitely more difficult.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019


So people have been selling things like this candle. And there's a market for it. Or rather, there was a market, until their deus ex machina dropped down with bupkis.
Sanctus rectum
I do struggle with schadenfreude and its applications. Mockery is fun, but it's not good form to stroll on to a battlefield and start shooting the wounded. And there are plenty of people who are wounded. My usual social media feed, amply stocked with people who believe the soul of wit is posting 50 Trump-bashing posts a day, every day, features many who are struggling with what's next. A few are posting cat pictures. Others are muttering.

Still, the aftermath of the Mueller investigation has been worth it, as we contemplate the carnage on the battlefield. Will anyone really care what Rachel Maddow thinks any more? The Adam Schiffs and Jerrold Nadlers of the world will persist, but they aren't likely to get anywhere, and there's no appetite for their bumbling. The focus will shift to the 2020 Democratic field, whose members will jostle for position and, if the first moments are any indication, will not impress.

It's a period of transition.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Light posting for the next few days

Events are in the saddle again. Feel free to make this an open thread.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Full display

Readers of this feature will remember that I was, during the 2016 election, in the NeverTrump camp. I hated being there, because I did not want Hillary Clinton to be president, either, but I had serious misgivings about Trump's demeanor and assumed he was going to do irreparable damage to the conservative cause.

Once he was elected, I took a "wait-and-see" stance. I also stopped being a NeverTrumper, because what was the point? In the 2+ years of his presidency, he's really helped to clarify a few things, to wit:

  • His opponents on the Left are unhinged
  • His opponents on the Right range from unhinged to cynical, sometimes both (a good trick, by the way, but watch Bill Kristol some time if you doubt this assertion)
  • Nothing that the mainstream media says about Trump can be taken at face value
A liberal college-era friend of mine made an astute comment about Trump. My friend, who has struggled with mental health issues, objects to the "Trump is mentally ill" tropes that seem to be back in the air, now that Mueller looks to be a disappointment. He said this:
Apparently, [George] Conway thinks diagnosing Trump will some how confirm or nail down some "secret" about him. Trump is already on full display. We don't need psychiatry.
And that's spot-on. Trump has been on full display his entire adult life. What you see is what you get. So, having viewed the display of Trump, and the circus that surrounds him, what do you make of the display? 

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Orange Man reminds us

That's too much work and we're in a hurry.

Received wisdom

So what causes a guy to shoot up a mosque? It's not a what, it's a who:
In his rambling, 70-page manifesto, the Australian white supremacist who massacred some 50 Muslims in New Zealand last week cited, as inspirations, British Union of Fascists leader Oswald Mosley, the People’s Republic of China, a videogame called Spyro the Dragon, fellow white supremacist terrorist Dylan Roof, and the Norwegian mass-murderer Anders Bering Breivik. Conspicuous by her absence from this list was Chelsea Clinton.

Someone should tell New York University students Leen Dweik and Rose Asaf. “This, right here, is a result of a massacre stoked by people like you and the words that you put out into the world,” Dweik told the former First Daughter outside a memorial for the dead, in a video that instantly went viral. “Forty-nine people died because of the rhetoric you put out there.”
Right here in River City. Based on the available evidence, I'd always thought the next interesting thing Chelsea Clinton said would be the first interesting thing she said, but apparently I've not been paying enough attention. There's more:
For those of us who consider Chelsea Clinton a cringe-inducing banality, that she could be accused of anything so momentous, never mind a racist slaughter in the Antipodes, was puzzling indeed. And so it was with great curiosity that I read the Buzzfeed piece in which the pair explain their actions. In it, they accuse Clinton of having “stoked hatred against” all Muslims, everywhere, with a single tweet criticizing just a single one, Ilhan Omar. When the Democratic congresswoman complained about lawmakers being forced to pledge “allegiance to a foreign country,” she wasn’t repeating a hoary anti-Semitic trope which has instigated all manner of desecrations and violent attacks and pogroms. No, according to these NYU coeds, exemplars of American higher education as impressive as those Yale students who screamed at a distinguished professor for hours over Halloween costumes, Omar was “speaking the truth about the massive influence of the Israel lobby in this country.”
It always comes back to Ilhan Omar. If you want to know who has real power, understand who cannot be criticized.