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.