"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Girl of the Day - Lee Remick

Lee Remick

She would have been 79 on Sunday.   It's hard to imagine there could be a sexier performance by an actress than a young Lee Remick turned in in the great great great Anatomy of a Murder with Jimmy Stewart, George C. Scott, Ben Gazzara and others.   Here's a taste:



Calling for a Declaration of War

Here's a chilling headline.   We've seen this sort of thing for months; we're going to see a lot more, I'm afraid:

Four young Christians brutally beheaded by ISIS in Iraq for refusing to convert to Islam, says British Vicar of Baghdad forced to flee

Here's my question:

Under what circumstances will the United States ever declare war and wage war with the intent of defeating this enemy?

ISIS call themselves a state.

They've pledged themselves our enemy.

They are, as we speak, committing genocide.  

If I were President Obama, I'd stop dicking around with these guys and stop dicking around with "authorizations" from Congress or arguments about the scope of my authority as Commander in Chief.   I'd just go to Congress with this headline and wave it on camera and demand a declaration of war against ISIS.   Again, they call themselves a "state."   Well, so be it.   The last two states that declared war on us, Germany and Japan, well... I wonder if the ISIS boys have seen pictures of Dresden or Tokyo ca. 1945.



Thursday, December 11, 2014

Update to the Update on the UVA Gang Rape Hoax

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Well, although it was somewhat predictable, I didn't think it would happen quite so fast.   The UVA rape story has completely fallen apart.   Here is the nail in the coffin from the Washington Post:

Randall said he met Jackie shortly after arriving at U-Va. in fall 2012 and the two struck up a quick friendship. He said Jackie was interested in pursuing a romantic relationship with him; he valued her friendship but wasn’t interested in more. 
The three friends said Jackie soon began talking about a handsome junior from chemistry class who had a crush on her and had been asking her out on dates. 
Intrigued, Jackie’s friends got his phone number from her and began exchanging text messages with the mysterious upperclassman. He then raved to them about “this super smart hot” freshman who shared his love of the band Coheed and Cambria, according to the texts, which were provided to The Post. 
“I really like this girl,” the chemistry student wrote in one message. Some of the messages included photographs of a man with a sculpted jaw line and ocean-blue eyes. 
In the text messages, the student wrote that he was jealous that another student had apparently won Jackie’s attention. 
“Get this she said she likes some other 1st year guy who dosnt like her and turned her down but she wont date me cause she likes him,” the chemistry student wrote. “She cant turn my down fro some nerd 1st yr. she said this kid is smart and funny and worth it.” 
Jackie told her three friends that she accepted the upperclassman’s invitation for a dinner date on Friday, Sept. 28, 2012. 
Curious about Jackie’s date, the friends said that they tried to find the student on a U-Va. database and social media but failed. Andy, Cindy and Randall all said they never met the student in person. Before Jackie’s date, the friends became suspicious that perhaps they hadn’t really been in contact with the chemistry student at all, they said. 
U-Va. officials told The Post that no student with the name Jackie provided to her friends as her date and attacker in 2012 had ever enrolled at the university. 
Randall provided The Post with pictures that Jackie’s purported date had sent of himself by text message in 2012. The Post identified the person in the pictures and learned that his name does not match the one Jackie gave friends in 2012. In an interview, the man said he was Jackie’s high school classmate but “never really spoke to her.” 
The man said he was never a U-Va. student and is not a member of any fraternity. Additionally, he said that he had not visited Charlottesville in at least six years and that he was in another state participating in an athletic event during the weekend of Sept. 28, 2012. 
“I have nothing to do with it,” he said. He said it appears that the circulated photos were pulled from social media Web sites.
The WaPo author doesn't use the word "hoax," but he doesn't really have to, does he?   It seems plainly implied by this that "Jackie" made up a fake upperclassman who was interested in her in order to make her freshman crush, Randall (one of the three friends from the Rolling Stone story) jealous.   She even faked his picture using a high school acquaintance's picture, and faked texts to her friends pretending to be him.

The next leap should be obvious... if she just happened to be creating an elaborate hoax on the same night, what are the odds that her rape story has any credibility whatsoever.   I'd say zero.   There's a principle in the law, falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus.   If a witness will lie about one thing, you can't trust anything she says.

Nor should any of this be too surprising.   Anyone who has any memory of college and any honesty or insight at all should have seen through this from the beginning. Freshman arrive at college often not knowing anyone. This is particularly true at fairly "elite" colleges, because they draw kids from all over the country.

They are thus often understandably anxious to fit in, and the way to do that often includes telling tall tales to new friends to make themselves look cooler, hipper, smarter, more accomplished, more dramatic.

Sometimes it's relatively innocuous. Kids lie about their high school GPAs or their SAT scores. Kids lie about their achievements in high school sports. Sometimes they lie, weirdly, but understandably, to make themselves look more worldly. They tell stories about what they did when they were "wasted." They tell stories about illegal things they did.

And, yes, very very often they tell stories about sex.

Again, most of the time this fabulism is innocuous and sometimes, if the storyteller is a good one, a raconteur, it can even be charming.

But in a college culture that increasingly puts a premium on being a victim -- of racism or of rape are the two prime examples -- sometimes these stories require the manufacturing of a villain. And then they're not innocuous; then they cross over into an accusation that can ruin a young person's life. 

This young girl in the UVA story has an excuse... she's young and desperate and possibly a little mentally ill.  

But what's the excuse of the adults at the Rolling Stone for publishing her fable as fact?

And what's the excuse of the adults in the UVA administration and even the U.S. Senate for believing it so easily?



Friday, December 5, 2014

Update on the UVA Story/Hoax

It appears that the UVA story is officially falling apart.   Here is a letter published today by Rolling Stone:

To Our Readers: 
Last month, Rolling Stone published a story titled "A Rape on Campus" by Sabrina Rubin Erdely, which described a brutal gang rape of a woman named Jackie at a University of Virginia fraternity house; the university's failure to respond to this alleged assault – and the school's troubling history of indifference to many other instances of alleged sexual assaults. The story generated worldwide headlines and much soul-searching at UVA. University president Teresa Sullivan promised a full investigation and also to examine the way the school responds to sexual assault allegations. 
Because of the sensitive nature of Jackie's story, we decided to honor her request not to contact the man she claimed orchestrated the attack on her nor any of the men she claimed participated in the attack for fear of retaliation against her. In the months Erdely spent reporting the story, Jackie neither said nor did anything that made Erdely, or Rolling Stone's editors and fact-checkers, question Jackie's credibility. Her friends and rape activists on campus strongly supported Jackie's account. She had spoken of the assault in campus forums. We reached out to both the local branch and the national leadership of the fraternity where Jackie said she was attacked. They responded that they couldn't confirm or deny her story but had concerns about the evidence.  
In the face of new information, there now appear to be discrepancies in Jackie's account, and we have come to the conclusion that our trust in her was misplaced. We were trying to be sensitive to the unfair shame and humiliation many women feel after a sexual assault and now regret the decision to not contact the alleged assaulters to get their account. We are taking this seriously and apologize to anyone who was affected by the story. 
Will Dana
Managing Editor

Let me put you some knowledge via parsing.   Note how they now use the verb "claimed."   The purported rape victim, Jackie, now "claimed" that a man (a boy named "Drew") orchestrated the attack.   She now "claimed" that other boys participated in the gang rape.   Then they say unequivocally that "our trust in her was misplaced."   My interpretation?   They've figured out through re-reporting the story that it was a hoax.   They don't say what "discrepancies" or "new information" caused them to come to this conclusion.   But I'll bet they have some pretty damning stuff.

Here's what I think happened to cause this extraordinary mea culpa.   I think a lawyer for the fraternity or the boys or the university came to them with hard evidence that the girl was lying.   I think they then said that they were prepared to file a multi-million dollar libel suit against Rolling Stone if they didn't retract it.   Note here that these aren't public figures.   These are young college aged men with a lifetime of earning potential in front of them as graduates of an elite university.  The privileges that attach to false statements about public figures so long as they aren't malicious don't apply to libel of non-public figures.   So the chances of making out a claim for libel are significantly greater.   And the damages to these young men could be very high indeed.   Frankly, a class action on behalf of the hundreds or perhaps thousands of members of UVA fraternities against Rolling Stone wouldn't be out of the question.  

So... when you read "we are taking this seriously and apologize," you should interpret that as "please please please don't sue us."

Anyway, that's what I now think.   If they stood by the story at all, they would say so.   But they don't.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The UVA Story























By now you may have heard of the sensationalist Rolling Stone article about sexual assault at UVA.   The article, in a nutshell, has as its centerpiece and lede the story of "Jackie," a freshman, who was asked on a date to a fraternity party, then, in what we are led to believe was a premeditated conspiracy, violently gang-raped and sodomized by seven pledges for three hours while two upperclassmen looked on and issued instructions.   The article then goes on to describe the university's handling of the incident in highly unflattering terms, essentially accusing UVA of sweeping it under the rug to protect its reputation.   The article has -- as undoubtedly was intended -- caused a furor at UVA, which has now shut down all of its fraternities for the remainder of the first semester pending an investigation.  

The article has since been criticized forcefully by various commentators as being shoddy journalism.   The author took the victim's word for every detail, never sought out the accused boys, apparently didn't interview the other alleged witnesses, etc.   Moreover, the article has some details -- the three-hour rape allegedly took place over the shards of glass from a shattered coffee table -- that strain credulity.   In short, it seems like a rush job.   That shouldn't be surprising -- the article was published in mid-November, based on interviews over the summer, a time in which the Left in America was desperately hawking a war on women and, particularly, war on young women angle as a way of juicing turnout for the midterms.   This was a story that might have been "too good to check."

But, that being said, I don't know and no one can know how much of the story is true.   If true, then it's horrific and nine boys need to go to jail for a long, long time.   If false, then it's equally horrific, and the girl who made up a sensationalist rape story to slander those boys also needs to go to jail.   The likelihood is that the truth is somewhere in between... something sexual happened, likely fueled by alcohol, possibly involving a boy or boys going too far and a girl possibly doing things she regretted or else being forced to do things she didn't want to do.   It may have shaded to the side of an embarrassment; it may have shaded to the side of criminal conduct.   I don't know.   No one knows. 

Here's what I do know.    The case presents the collision of two undeniable facts of human nature:
1. Young men unconstrained by older men (mentors, fathers, neighbors, sergeants and officers and, most importantly, the fathers of available young girls) will sometimes commit sexual mis- and malfeasances, up to and including gang rape.  
2. Human beings, including young women, have a propensity to create fictions in which they take the roles of heroic victims of malevolent larger forces as a way of getting sympathetic attention.
Sadly, lack of constraints on sexual behavior of adolescents and abundance of rewards for victimhood narratives are both features (not bugs) of the contemporary college campus. 
 
Indeed, this story can perhaps be understood best as a crisis in the ideology of the university, which since the 1960s has been committed to two conflicting ideas, sexual libertinism on the one hand and feminism, which in its contemporary evolution has become increasingly prudish toward male sexuality, on the other.  
 
And all of it in the context of what has become an enormous business, extracting, in the case of UVA, upwards of $50,000 a year from the out-of-state students it tries very hard to attract.    Counting tuition, room, board, fees, books, etc., the revenue from UVA's 14,000 or so undergraduates is something like half a billion dollars a year.   That's a big business.   Forget about "reputation"... what UVA is struggling to protect is a very, very valuable brand.






Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Quote of the Day - Victor Davis Hanson

From his piece today in NRO:

Eric Holder – with his jet-setting to sporting events on the public dime, spouting inflammatory racialist rhetoric, politicizing the Justice Department, selectively enforcing settled law, and being held in contempt of Congress for withholding subpoenaed documents — managed what one might have thought impossible: He has made Nixon’s attorney general John Mitchell seem a minor rogue in comparison.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Obama as Failed ConLaw Professor

Arguably, the two great sea changes of the Obama Administration will end up being the legalization of gay marriage and the quasi-legalization of five million or more illegal immigrants.   Both could fundamentally change the character of the American civilization, by devaluing marriage, on the one hand, and by devaluing our Anglo-Saxon heritage, on the other.   Both involve Constitutional questions -- does the Equal Protection Clause demand equal treatment under state marriage laws?   And, can the President unilaterally choose not to enforce immigration laws as a matter of "prosecutorial discretion"?   When President Obama ran for office in 2008 he stated that he did not favor gay marriage.   Later he said he evolved.   When President Obama ran again for office in 2012 he stated that he did not have the authority to unilaterally grant amnesty to illegal immigrants.   Now, it must be supposed, he has "evolved" again.

Putting aside the arguments for or against the propositions, isn't it noteworthy that Obama, whose main credential when he first ran for President was that he had at one point been a Constitutional Law professor, now essentially admits that, on both of these somewhat important Constitutional Law questions, he had been wrong for the bulk of his Presidency and, hence, for the first two-plus decades of his career as a lawyer?

Either he must not have been a very good Constitutional Law scholar or else, perhaps, he just thinks that the Constitution matters less than whatever political expediency demands.  

Quote of the Day - Detroit!




From Kevin Williamson of NRO:

The Democrats, if they had any remaining intellectual honesty, would hold their convention in Detroit. Democratic leadership, Democratic unions and the Democratic policies that empower them, Democrat-dominated school bureaucracies, Democrat-style law enforcement, Democratic levels of taxation and spending, the politics of protest and grievance in the classical Democratic mode — all of these have made Detroit what it is today: an unwholesome slop-pail of woe and degradation that does not seem to belong in North America, a craptastical crater groaning with misery, a city-shaped void in what once was the industrial soul of the nation. If you want to see the end point of Barack Obama’s shining path, visit Detroit.


Notes on Obama's Remarks on the "Tragic Events" in Ferguson






















The real problem with Obama's remarks on Ferguson last night was that he gave them at all. He
should have said, and should have long ago instructed his DOJ to say nothing more than "this is a local law enforcement matter and it would be inappropriate for us to comment."

But naturally, Obama being Obama, he had to thrust himself into the situation. That's what he does. Everything has to be about him; everything is an opportunity for him to descend from on high to tell us how reasonable he is.

A couple of notes, then -- rather than a full-scale fisking -- on Obama's remarks:
"There are Americans who agree with it, and there are Americans who are deeply disappointed, even angry. It’s an understandable reaction."
  
Why is it an understandable reaction, Mr. President?   What about the evidence suggests that the grand jury got its decision wrong?   And if they didn't get it wrong, why is an irrational reaction contrary to the evidence "understandable"?  
"I also appeal to the law enforcement officials in Ferguson and the region to show care and restraint in managing peaceful protests that may occur....  As they do their jobs in the coming days, they need to work with the community, not against the community."   
Very odd.   St. Louis is a Democratic city and always has been.   It has a Democratic mayor, a Democratic D.A., and Missouri has a Democratic governor.   Why would Obama slander them by assuming that they need his admonition to "show care and restraint" to not work "against the community"?  
"Finally, we need to recognize that the situation in Ferguson speaks to broader challenges that we still face as a nation. The fact is in too many parts of this country a deep distrust exists between law enforcement and communities of color. Some of this is the result of the legacy of racial discrimination in this country." 
Wrong.   There is no evidence, other than Officer Wilson's skin color (white) and Michael Brown's skin color (black), that racial discrimination or distrust between law enforcement and "communities of color" had anything to do with this incident.   If there is, Mr. President, tell us.   But the evidence I've heard suggests that this was a garden-variety encounter between a police officer who happened to be white and a criminal who happened to be black, the criminal resisted arrest and assaulted the police officer, and the police officer defended himself.   It has no meaning other than this... sometimes criminals get shot by policemen when they violently resist arrest.   To suggest otherwise is to slander Officer Wilson as a racist when there is no evidence to support that suggestion.

Obama's comments continued in the same vein... we need to talk, talk, talk, talk about the larger issue of racial discrimination in policing.   Again, it's strange that the communities where the issues seem to arise are all Democrat enclaves -- Detroit, New York, Los Angeles, New Orleans, St. Louis, Baltimore.   One might suggest a "national conversation" on why Democratic governance in our major cities has been so horrible for poor black people.   But no matter.   The important thing is that Obama gets to sound concerned.  

***

UPDATE:

Blogger Debra Heine is more succinct than I was.   She writes:
Obama punted last night. He could have told the mob that their rage wasn't justifiable - that justice had taken place and they should go home and focus on raising good kids who don't rob convenience stores and attack cops.

Fisking Eric Holder's Statement on the "Tragedy" of Michael Brown







































Eric Holder, the United States Attorney General, had this to say last night after a St. Louis County grand jury concluded that no probable cause existed to charge Officer Darren Wilson with a crime in the shooting death of a young black man, Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri:

While the grand jury proceeding in St. Louis County has concluded, the Justice Department’s investigation into the shooting of Michael Brown remains ongoing.
Why?  We just last week had the President issue an executive order saying that the federal government will not enforce U.S. immigration law to deport illegal immigrants.   One of the justifications given was that the federal government simply lacks the resources to prosecute illegal immigration, even though being in the U.S. without legal work permits or visas is an actual crime that we know has been committed.   On what basis does the Justice Department spend resources we supposedly don't have to investigate an unfortunate local police incident that a local grand jury has concluded was not criminal? 
Though we have shared information with local prosecutors during the course of our investigation, the federal inquiry has been independent of the local one from the start, and remains so now. Even at this mature stage of the investigation, we have avoided prejudging any of the evidence. And although federal civil rights law imposes a high legal bar in these types of cases, we have resisted forming premature conclusions.  
Again, why?   What evidence other than the fact that Officer Wilson is white and Mr. Brown was black exists to think there was any kind of civil rights violation or, indeed, that race had anything at all to do with the event, at least from Wilson's side?   And, absent any such evidence of racial animus by Officer Wilson, isn't the fact that the weight of the federal government is being brought to bear on him itself suggestive that it is his civil rights that are being violated on the basis of his race?
Michael Brown’s death was a tragedy. 
WTF?   I do not think that word means what Mr. Holder thinks it means.   In drama a tragedy depicts the downfall of a central, heroic character, either because of a personal character flaw that, despite his other noble attributes, leads to his ruin (Shakespearean tragedy); or because of fate (Greek tragedy).   The death of Michael Brown is, sadly, not tragic, but pathetic.   A thug who had just robbed a convenience store assaults a police officer and, refusing to submit to legal authority, is shot by the officer in self-defense.   His personal character flaw was not ambition (Macbeth) or jealousy (Othello), but stupidity.  
This incident has sparked a national conversation about the need to ensure confidence between law enforcement and the communities they protect and serve.
Man, am I tired of the cliche call for a "national conversation" on race!   What Ferguson needed in the aftermath of this incident was a lot less conversation by civil rights hucksters looking to make themselves relevant, national political figures trying to gin up the black vote, and media piranhas having a feeding frenzy on Michael Brown's carcass.   If it had been treated like the local event it was, none of this would have happened.   Instead, the riots in Ferguson are real-life Hunger Games, a made-for-TV spectacle.  
While constructive efforts are underway in Ferguson and communities nationwide, far more must be done to create enduring trust. The Department will continue to work with law enforcement, civil rights, faith and community leaders across the country to foster effective relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve and to improve fairness in the criminal justice system overall. 

Wait, again, WTF?   What does "fairness in the criminal justice system" have to do with this incident?   Brown never got into the criminal justice system.   Would it have been "unfair" if he had been arrested peacably by Wilson for the convenience store robbery he had just committed?   How so?   Would it have been "unfair" if, after initially assaulting Wilson, he had submitted to arrest for that crime?   Would it have been "unfair" if he had been convicted of either of those crimes?  

Or maybe... would it have been "unfair" if, instead of Wilson shooting Brown, Brown had seized his gun and killed Wilson?  

Again, this word "fairness" does not mean what I think you think it means, Mr. Holder.
In addition, the Department continues to investigate allegations of unconstitutional policing patterns or practices by the Ferguson Police Department.
 
Isn't it funny how these allegedly unconstitutional policing patterns are supposedly occurring right under the noses of a city government that has been run by liberal Democrats for my entire lifetime?   (Full disclosure, the Regular Guy grew up in South St. Louis County.)
Though there will be disagreement with the grand jury’s decision not to indict, this feeling should not lead to violence.
Wouldn't an appropriate thing for the Attorney General to say sound something like this... "There will be disagreement with the grand jury's decision... but that disagreement would not be rational and would not be supported by the evidence.   The grand jury that, under the direction of a Democratic D.A., reviewed that evidence, concluded that Brown had assaulted Wilson, then, even after being shot, continued to charge him.   Wilson acted in self-defense, which is every American's right, black or white.   Wilson's actions were particularly appropriate because he is a law enforcement officer and had a right to expect that his commands to Brown to stop and submit to arrest would be obeyed.   Instead, Brown charged him aggressively, 'like a football player,' as one witness stated."

Also, wouldn't it be appropriate for a law enforcement official to note that committing acts of violence in response to a decision by a lawfully constituted grand jury would be crimes, and that any perpetrators of such violence should expect to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law?
Those who decide to participate in demonstrations should remember the wishes of Michael Brown’s parents, who have asked that remembrances of their son be conducted peacefully. It does not honor his memory to engage in violence or looting. 
Honor his memory?   Look, Brown's parents have suffered a loss.   Even if Brown himself was a kid who behaved very very badly in this episode, a parent can't be expected to do anything other than grieve.   And his parents are saying the right things.   But Holder is not Brown's parent, he is the chief law enforcement officer of the United States.   He should know better than to talk about "honoring" Brown's memory.   Brown was not an honorable person.   He was a young man who had just robbed a convenience store and assaulted its owner, then assaulted a police officer.   What about that was honorable?
In the coming days, it will likewise be important for local law enforcement authorities to respect the rights of demonstrators, and deescalate tensions by avoiding excessive displays—and uses—of force.
And there you have it.   The chief law enforcement officer of the United States concludes that the conduct of law enforcement officers must be preemptively chastised.   Moral equivalence between the rioters and the police is assumed.  

Well, at least we know whose side he's on.
 

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Scandal of Ivy League Quotas

Glenn Reynolds has a column up highlighting the scandal of the Ivy League's reverse quota system, in which high-achieving Asian students are admitted in much smaller numbers than their achievements would merit.   Everyone has known about this for the longest time, but now apparently some Asian families are fed up enough to challenge the practice in court.   Good for them.  

Here is the gist of  Reynolds' piece, which makes the persuasive point that the quotas against Asians are the descendants of 1920s and 1930s quotas against Jews:
Decades ago, the Ivy League colleges thought they had a problem: too many Jews. These recent immigrants, from a culture that prized education and academic achievement, had an unfortunate characteristic: They worked harder, studied longer and cared more about school. In short, they had all the attributes required for success in the Ivy League.... 
But while the quotas for Jews are gone, the Ivy League now, by all accounts, has quotas for Asian students. They are seen as people who study too hard, boring grinds who aren't much fun — and, of course, their parents aren't as rich and connected. And though the numbers of highly qualified Asian applicants have grown dramatically, the number of Asians admitted stays pretty much the same every year.  
Now the Asian students are suing. In a lawsuit against Harvard, they are claiming that Harvard demands higher qualifications from Asian students than from others, and that it uses "racial classifications to engage in the same brand of invidious discrimination against Asian Americans that it formerly used to limit the number of Jewish students in its student body." 
These claims are almost certainly correct. Discrimination against Asian students — and not just by Harvard, but throughout higher education — has been an open secret for years. Asian students, we're told, face a "bamboo ceiling" as a result.

The data supporting this "bamboo ceiling" in the Ivy League is damning.   In fact, I think it would be hard to survive summary judgment in a class action case against the 8 Ivy League schools alleging that they have conspired to deprive Asian students equal opportunity.   Consider this chart:




That convergence of the lines to me screams out that there has been an unwritten agreement (read: conspiracy) to limit the enrollment of Asian students.

Look, the moral bankrupcty of affirmative action as currently practiced in America ought to be evident whenever any individual is discriminated against (or discriminated in favor of) because of the color of their skin.   It's not morally less suspect to discriminate against a suburban white eighteen year-old in favor of a black or Hispanic eighteen year-old.   But it sadly seems more persuasive when a racial minority (Asians) is discriminated against in favor of another racial minority (blacks).  

The answer to past discrimination is not more discrimination.   That way lies tribal warfare.   God help us if we don't realize that, and soon.

Girl of the Day - It's A Gray Day In Milwaukee Edition

It's a gray day in Milwaukee.   Sunshine would be nice.   But you'll need an umbrella:


































Or maybe a hat:





A nice sundress can provide some protection too:




Oh, to hell with it... just use sunscreen!

RAQUEL WELCH - WHITE BIKINI

The Right Thing in the Wrong Way

One aspect of the genius of our Constitution is that it requires that, if our rulers -- the tripartite structure of the executive, legislative and judicial branches -- choose to do something, they must use a prescribed method to create a law.   The President may propose legislation, but the Congress must pass it, and then the President must sign it into law, and, if challenged, the Judiciary must declare the law to be Constitutional.  

In other words, they cannot just do what they think is right, they have to do it in the right way.

The problem with President Obama's executive order legalizing 5 million illegal immigrants is not that it necessarily is a bad thing to do per se.   I tend to agree with this sentiment from Walter Russell Mead:

I cannot help but sympathize with the President’s intentions. Through a combination of bad policy (such as the Reagan amnesty), poor enforcement of our border controls, and the existence of a large underground economy, millions of foreigners have been living, working, marrying, and having children among us for decades outside of the law. As a human problem, this demands a response. The development of a class of illegal alien workers who lack the full and equal protection of the law is an affront to the ideal of human equality and undermines the well-being of the legal workers who have to compete with underpaid illegals in the marketplace. The children of such people who are born in the United States have committed no crime and both common decency and our own laws demand that such people receive education, health care, and the basic services that government provides. President Obama did not create the tangled morass of the failed American system of managing and regulating immigration, and both as President of the United States and as a human being under the judgment of a just God he has unavoidable obligations to seek a humane solution to the problems we face. The solution he chose may be a poor one, and it exposes both the nation and future immigrants to more trouble, but the situation is real and no perfect solution to a problem this messy exists.
I think a lot of Republicans actually also agree with this.   Very few among us have a taste for massive deportation.   As I wrote two years ago:
Conservatives have talked, correctly, about cutting off illegal immigration by building a fence along the border, and by increasing enforcement along the border with Mexico. Conservatives have talked, correctly, that the winking acceptance of illegal immigration weakens the rule of law and respect for the law. All of this is true. But, with regard to 10-12 million illegal immigrants already here, what conservatives have not said is what they would do. Are we really going to deport 10-12 million people? How would we do that logistically? How would we do it without massive civil unrest and potential violence? How would we do it without -- and this is blunt -- a massive fascistic police state replete with concentration camps and cattle cars and barbed wire and machine guns, etc.? It's not going to happen, and conservatives who dream of deportation are chasing a fool's errand. More to the point, deporting millions of immigrants who came here because we did wink at the laws because we did want cheap labor would be immoral. Conservatives can't say we believe every life is precious, which it is, and then say that 10-12 million people who are living among us can be subjected to what could only be a massive cruelty.    
The upshot: conservatives need to get out front of a reasonable amnesty plan for illegal immigrants who can demonstrate that they've been here for X number of years, along with a reasonable timetable for them to gain full citizenship. They can't move in front of legal immigrants in the line, but they ought to be able to get there in a generation. 
Needless to say, this must be coupled with serious border enforcement, and serious entitlement reform, and serious economic reform so that new Americans can be legal and productive citizens.
That being said, the problem with Obama's executive order is that it does the right thing in the wrong way, one that is patently unconstitutional, as Obama himself had previously recognized many times.   The Constitution clearly gives Congress, and Congress alone, the power to adopt "uniform Rules of Naturalization."   The President cannot simply declare a  category of non-citizens to be citizens; nor can the President, who swears to uphold and enforce the laws as written by the Congress, simply declare that he won't enforce existing immigration laws; nor can the President declare whole categories of duly-defined crimes as being not criminal; nor can the President say that a whole category of crimes for which the penalty is deportation will not be prosecuted.   He can argue with Congress, he can seek to persuade the American people to elect a new Congress, but he can't, having failed to persuade either Congress or the American people, simply act alone.   If he does so, he is acting unlawfully -- he becomes a tyrant.  

Look, for many of us, perhaps most of us, the difference between an executive order doing X and a duly-enacted law doing X may seem trivial.   More's the pity.   If we had a better education system, one that taught civics, one that read history, one that understood Plato and Aristotle and Montesqui and the Founders, we might realize that the distance between what may seem to be a benign and even benevolent tyranny and a malevolent dictatorship is just a matter of perhaps having a different kind of man or a different moment.   And we would care more when a President crosses the line toward tyranny, whatever his excuse.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Girl of the Day - Scarlett Johansson

After becoming an icon in the popular culture, she appears to have decided to use her talent in some interesting ways in recent movies like Under the Skin, Chef, Don Jon, and Lucy.   It will be fascinating to watch her try to thread the needle that so many actresses can't thread as she moves into her 30s and older roles.  

But, anyway, who am I kidding?


8 Scarlett Johansson Plastic Surgery

A Thought Experiment on Grubergate

FILE - In this May 12, 2009, file photo Jonathan Gruber, professor of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, participates in a Capitol Hill hearing on the overhaul of the heath care system in Washington. A supporter of the Affordable Care Act, Gruber says,





















Jonah Goldberg of National Review Online recently offered this observation on what has become known as Grubergate:
In a lot of ways, this spectacle represents not just everything’s that’s wrong with the Obama administration, it’s everything wrong with liberalism and a lot that’s wrong with America itself.  You’ve got this guy who is pretending to be an objective independent analyst, who’s got huge amounts of skin in the game in terms of money he can make off of consulting fees, but also of the prestige being involved and the speeches he could do which haven’t been tallied into these numbers — anyway, it’s millions of dollars – being touted around through a transmission belt of liberal journalists, who all are all pretending to be objective analysts too, quoting each other, reaffirming each other, all with the help of the White House which went along with this soup to nuts – a process which this guy says was all about lies and misleading the American people. And then when caught about it, the same administration tries to dismiss him as if he was just some sort of random White House intruder. The whole thing stinks.

Let's play a thought experiment.  

Imagine there is a University of Chicago economist.   They tend to be somewhat more free market oriented than the Harvard-MIT ilk represented by Gruber.   And imagine there's a Republican President.   A policy is proposed to ratchet back the minimum wage from wherever it ends up at the end of Obama's administration-by-fiat to $5 for teenagers 17 and under who are enrolled full-time in high school.   The policy is touted as a way to permit young people without any skills, particularly poor inner city youths,to gain work experience.   The University of Chicago economist presents "objective" testimony about his studies of the proposal to Congress suggesting that the proposal will have wonderful positive effects on inner city youths.  The President and his Administration make a year-long effort in speeches and other events to "sell" the program to the communities it would affect the most, relatively poor African-American and Hispanic communities in Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, New York, St. Louis, Baltimore, D.C., Oakland, Houston, New Orleans, Memphis, Detroit.   In their speeches they laud the U of C economist's credentials and expertise, arguing that objective economic "science" supports their proposal.  

Imagine it passes.  

Now imagine that the "research" the U of C economist presented was not just wrong, but consciously misleading.   And imagine that, in a light-hearted but revealing moment at an academic conference, he referred to the communities to whom the program was sold as being "stupid" or "ignorant."

Now imagine too that the same U of C economist was secretly being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by the Republican President's Department of Commerce, and then also getting millions more from private employers (say, McDonalds) who supported the idea because it will allow them much lower labor costs and higher profits.  

Do you think that the media would think that was a news story?  

Friday, November 21, 2014

Quote of the Day

From a George Will column about Wisconsin's school choice program, and the federal government's attempts to harass religious schools:

The bigger government becomes, the bolder it becomes in bullying people with legal complexities, confident that its nastiness will rarely be noticed because there is simply too much government to monitor.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

More on Grubergate

A terrific piece on the Jonathan Gruber Obamacare lies from Jake Tapper, one of the few journalists left who can reasonably be described as objective:

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Girl of the Day - Megyn Kelly

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She's fallen in the honey pot at FoxNews, of course, but I suspect she would have made it big in anything she did.   A smart cookie, even if you ignore the obvious.   She turns 44 today.


Jon Gruber, Rent-Seeker





























The recent kerfuffle surrounding Youtube comments from Jonathan Gruber, the MIT professor of economics who consulted with the Obama administration on the design of Obamacare, is instructive on many levels.

As a political matter, it of course shows how dishonest the proponents of Obamacare were.    From "if you like your plan, you can keep your plan" on, Obamacare, as Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit is fond of saying, was Potemkin villages all the way down.   Gruber's admissions that the bill was written and sold based on a conscious "lack of transparency" (his words) merely confirms what we knew all alongg.

As a cultural matter, it also has shown in nearly crystalline form how the coastal liberal elites view the rest of us.   What kind of person routinely talks about the "stupidity" of his fellow citizens, as Gruber habitually does?   They look on the rest of us as rubes, as plebeians who need to be governed by an avant-garde of intellectuals from the Harvards of the world.   This is not a new phenomenon -- FDR's Brain Trust was similarly populated by Ivy Leaguers -- but it's become more open.   Gruber is apparently the kind of fellow who might tell you his SAT scores from thirty years ago.... and thinks that it's OK to do so.   He's also the kind of guy who apparently demands that you call him "Dr. Gruber."   As a Ph.D. who wouldn't be caught dead referring to myself as "Dr. Regular Guy" (my rule has always been that, if I can't help you when you're having a heart attack, I shouldn't call myself "Doctor"), all I can say is.... pathetic.

Finally, and perhaps more sadly, as an economic matter Gruber reflects a sad truth about our civilization as a sputtering engine of economic growth.   Truth be told, he undoubtedly is a very smart fellow.   But he went to MIT and then straight to graduate school at Harvard and then straight back to MIT in 1992 at the age of 27 as an assistant professor, without ever pausing apparently to GET A REAL JOB.    What has this smart man ever built or manufactured or invented?   Instead, he has apparently become famous and relatively wealthy (witness the consulting fees he's garnered from federal and state governments) by leveraging his status as an "expert" on health care... by rent-seeking.   To the degree that our civilization's best and brightest find their paths to success in law and lobbying and consulting and crony capitalism and education and government... rather than in business, manufacturing, entrepreneurship... we are likely doomed to a slow and inevitable decline.  

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Latest From the Regular Son

The ability to paint is mysterious to me.   Great ability is miraculous.   When it's emerging in your own progeny, it's both odd and wonderful.   Anyway, here's the latest from the Regular Son:



Girl of the Day - Jean Seberg

Jean Seberg Photographic Print


Born today in 1938, Jean Seberg was a very lovely actress from the 1960s who starred in a very odd movie that for some reason has stuck in my memory, Paint Your Wagon, a Western musical starring, oddly enough, Lee Marvin and a young Clint Eastwood.   Eastwood singing is one of the most dissonant (culturally, not musically... he actually sings OK and is a fine musician) things I have ever seen or heard.   Imagine John Wayne in drag doing La Cage Aux Folles.

Seberg is an interesting figure.    An Iowa girl, she became best known as the star of French New Wave films, in particular the great Breathless directed by FrancJean Luc Godard (1960).   She also managed to become the target of an FBI counterintelligence probe in the 1960s, which some say led to her blacklisting and drove her into serious depression. 

Sadly, Miss Seberg committed suicide at age 40.  

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Obama's Aloofness?

2014-10-12-obama.jpg


Here's an interesting description of President Obama from one of the last century's greatest historians, Robert Conquest:

The great intellectual, the great administrator, the great orator lacked one quality essential... to the great political leader.   [He] could fire masses of men to acclaim and follow him.   But he had no talent for leadership among equals.  He could not establish his authority among colleagues by the modest arts of persuasian or by sympathetic attention to the views of men of lesser intellectual calibre than himself.   He did not suffer fools, and he was accused of being unable to brook rivals.... As soon as he had finished [his speech] he left the hall.   There was no personal contact in the corridors.   This aloofness, I believe, may partly explain [his] inability as well as his unwillingness to build a large personal following among the rank and file of the Party.

Doesn't that perfectly capture Obama's arrogance, his narcissism, his unwillingness to credit the intelligence of others, his lack of fellow feeling, even with his ideological compatriots, his distance from his own party's leaders on Capitol Hill?   Wow... Conquest, the great historian of Russia in the 20th Century, really nailed it about our current President.  

Except...

Wait a minute...

Did I read that wrong?...

Oh, oops...

Actually that wasn't Obama Conquest was talking about.   It was this guy.




Leon Trotsky.

My bad.

But, then again, leftists never change, do they?

Is Obama Actually a Wildly Successful President?

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After the mid-term elections there has been a lot of talk about how the results proved that Obama is a failed President.   The economy has been stagnant, American foreign policy is in tatters, our immigration policy and control of our borders are incoherent; the administration has been wracked with scandals, the most egregious of which have arisen from aspects of the federal government that have become nearly tyrannical (the IRS and the NSA).   We want a robust American economy and a strong and dominant American military respected throughout the world.  We want our borders protected and the rule of law on immigration and citizenship followed.   We don't want our federal government intimidating or spying on American citizens.  

But what if Obama doesn't want the same things we want?

Consider all of the same developments from the perspective of someone who doesn't actually like America, someone who wants America to get a comeuppance, someone whose allegiances are to the Third World, someone who believes Western Civilization has been a collection of evils -- racism, imperialism, capitalism.   Wouldn't all the same things that we think are bad developments instead be celebrated?

Look, I'm not really saying that Obama is some kind of Manchurian Candidate who wanted all along to bring down America.   I think he's a malignant narcissist who cares only about his own place in history as a quasi-Messiah.   I also very much think he wants to cash in big on book deals and speaking engagements after he leaves office.   How can he best do so?   My theory is that he can best do so by solidifying his legacy as a Hero of the Left.
  • Socialized medicine?   Check.
  • Gay marriage?   Check.
  • Draconian environmental regulations?   Check.
  • Tax the rich?  Check.
  • Shrink the military?   Check.
  • Reduce American prestige and power overseas?   Check.
  • Accelerate the transformation of the federal government into a left-wing Fifth Column, even during Republican administrations?   Check.  
If you look at it that way, Obama looks wildly successful as President.

And... just wait for the hagiography to start when he's out of office.   The first black President will, within 25 years, become a secular saint, in the same way that Nelson Mandela did.   He'll command $50 million for a three-book deal the day he leaves office.   He'll get $500,000 a speech and give 50-100 of them a year.   By the time he's out of office 10 years (when he'll still only be 65), he'll likely be a billionaire.  

That's why he's laughing.... all the way to the bank.  

Girl of the Day - Grace Kelly



























It seems quite odd to think that Grace Kelly would have been 85 today.   Perhaps because she died relatively young, and even more perhaps because she retired from acting very early, she seems in my mind to be frozen in the early 1950s when she was easily the most beautiful actress in Hollywood.

Birthday Today - Neil Young



The great Neil Young is 69 today, but looks older.   Hard living, I suspect.   But great, great, unique music, driven by the most idiosyncratic voice in rock-and-roll.



Monday, November 10, 2014

Birthday Today - John P. Marquand


Born today in 1893, Marquand is one of my favorite novelists.   He wrote big bestsellers in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, and all of them are good... the type of grown up novel about grown ups that doesn't get written anymore.    My favorites include:  Wickford Point (1939), So Little Time (1943), Point of No Return (1949), and Women and Thomas Harrow (1958).  

He looked like a successful businessman, which, on one level, he was.   He was a professional writer who made his living writing.   He wasn't an academic; he wasn't on a government grant.   In fact, in Wickford Point he gives a hilarious send-up of an academic trying to write a "Great American Novel."   No one teaches him anymore and perhaps few people read him.   But if you want to find out what America was like before the 1960s, i.e., when we were still a coherent civilization, read Marquand or James Gould Cozzens or John O'Hara.  

In a Better World, This Fellow Would Be Facing Prosecution

Here's Jon Gruber, the acknowledged architect of Obamacare, telling an audience of nodding liberal academics how they had to hide the essence of the law (it's a tax on healthy people to pay for healthcare for unhealthy people) in order to get it passed:





Hmmmm... could an enterprising U.S. Attorney on, say, January 21, 2017 (i.e., one appointed by the next, hopefully Republican President) start a public corruption investigation seeking prosecutions of everyone involved in this scheme to defraud?   Under the mail and wire fraud statutes, a scheme to defraud can include "a scheme . . . to deprive another of the intangible right of honest services." (18 USC section 1346).   Well, maybe... but I can tell you that this has a lot more meat than the "prosecutions" of Scott Walker in Wisconsin  over the past couple of years.

This really is the nadir of our civilization. These are all highly educated liberal intellectuals, likely all with Ivy League pedigrees, and they all seem to be nodding in agreement to the notion that committing a vast fraud upon the American public is just "smart politics."  Machiavelli goes mainstream, in other words.

Terrifying.

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Obama Trajectory





























If you were a Democrat, what would you think about this trajectory?

  • In 2008 there were 257 Democrats elected to the House.
  • In 2008 there were 58 Democrats (and two independents who caucused with the Democrats) elected to the Senate.
  • In 2014 there are 180-185 Democrats elected to the House.
  • In 2014 there are 43-44 Democrats elected to the Senate (although there are still two independents who might caucus with the Democrats; on the other hand, there's some chance that a relatively conservative Democrat who knows the score in his state like Joe Manchin might switch to become a Republican).
That's what you call a failed Presidency.

Girl of the Day - Hot Stove League Edition

Only five months until baseball season starts!   Can't wait!

Step 5: Continue standing. Bask in adoration.

The Tsunami of 2014

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At one point on Tuesday night, much of the on-air talent for FoxNews were openly laughing at Juan Williams, the lone Democrat on the panels, who was refusing to acknowledge that the election had been a "wave" for the Republicans.    Late in the evening, when it became obvious that Republicans not only would win the Senate, but would win a historic majority in the House, and would also win governorships in blue states like Massachusetts, Maryland and Illinois, even Williams relented.   It was a wave.   But... what does it mean?

1.  The Republican brand is not ascendant.   Let's start with what it doesn't mean.   I don't believe that this election necessarily means that the Republican brand is ascendant.   The GOP ran a largely negative campaign (and correctly so) that criticized the Obama administration on competence grounds without offering any very large new ideas for governance.   They'll have to do so in 2016 if they hope to win the Presidency.   Competence won't be a good enough argument... they'll need an actual program.   My big idea... fracking, fracking and more fracking to make American energy independent and to fuel a 21st century boom, while at the same time defunding the Wahabbis in the Middle East.    This is why the first thing out of the box for the GOP should be a bill to permit the Keystone Pipeline.

2.  The Democratic brand is tarnished, but not dead.   I also don't think that the election means that the Democratic Party brand is ruined forever.   In many of the key Senate races it seemed to me that the problem wasn't the Party, but the specific candidate or the candidate's specific strategy, and sometimes simply the particular state.   Dems are always going to be at a big disadvantage in states like Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, Kentucky, etc., because they are basically conservative states.   For many of them (North Carolina comes to mind), the incumbent Senator had won by a fluke in 2008 when the economy crashed and Obama was a the knight in shining armor coming to rescue us.    But the basic demographics and ideologies of the state lean red, and that meant they were ripe for GOP pickups.   In other states (like Colorado), the candidate for the Dems simply had an outdated strategy.   He ran on the "war on women."   But Americans (and particularly American women) aren't worried about losing contraception... they're worried about Ebola, and open borders, and ISIS.   The Dems in CO were still stuck on 2012 Sandra Fluke when they should have been talking about how to keep American women safe in 2014 from organ-dissolving viruses and Islamist beheaders.   Finally, and without putting too big a point on it... every Democratic candidate in a key Senate race was white.   Kay Hagan... white woman.    Mark Warner... rich white guy.    Alison Grimes... white woman.   Greg Orman.... rich white guy.   It's sad to say, but black Americans tend to vote tribally, and won't turn out in huge numbers unless there is a prominent black candidate to support.   To win, Dems need to field more black candidates.   (The GOP seems to have figured this out... there were a lot of GOP candidates who were either Hispanic or black who won on Tuesday... Tim Scott in SC, the heart of the Confederacy, comes to mind.)    I doubt the Dems will miss this obvious point next time.

3.   The Obama Effect.  Finally, my one big takeaway from the night... the Emperor Has No Clothes moment regarding Obama has finally arrived.   The incompetence of the Obamacare rollout, the failure of the stimulus to stimulate, the various alphabet scandals (IRS, NSA, VA), the myriad failures in foreign policy that have made America look weaker and weaker (chaos in Libya, beheadings in Iraq, nuclear weapons in Iran, an aggressive Russia, a soon to be aggressive China), the cover-ups, the erased emails... it has all added up to bring the country to the tipping point.   But what has tipped us over the edge is simply Obama himself.   He has become an extremely unlikeable figure... the pedantic sourpuss who just keeps boring us with the same cant phrases, who can't really do much of anything himself but always is quick to blame others for the failings; the egomaniac who, despite the ample evidence to the contrary, continues to think he is the smartest thing ever and everyone else is beneath him.   After six years of that, Americans are just sick of the guy.   We've tuned out.   We're not tuning back in.   What this means however is that, where the Democrats might have worried about what their party would do after Obama, now my sense is that they can't wait to lift this albatross from around their neck.