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France Says Non to After-Work E-mails


French employees will no longer be expected to check e-mails from their bosses when they leave the office, according to a new trade-union deal. After-hours correspondences, including phone calls, will now legally be off-limits for employers.

The deal will affect employees in the technology and consulting sectors in the country, which the Guardian reports include France’s Google, Facebook, Deloitte, and PricewaterhouseCoopers branches.

Employers will also be prohibited from pressuring their workers to check in on work-related communication after hours.

“We can admit extra work in exceptional circumstances, but we must always come back to what is normal, which is to unplug, to stop being permanently at work,” said General Confederation of Managers chairman Michel De La Force.

The measure is an extension of the nationally mandated policy of limiting employees to a 35-hour work week.

A Divisive Attorney General


Attorney General Eric Holder must be suffering from a sort of amnesia. He is upset at supposed divisiveness and rudeness directed at him when testifying before Congress, and suggests not too subtly that he and President Obama have been accorded inordinately harsh treatment (fill in the blanks why). Aside from the fact that he seemed to have relished the combat with Representative Gohmert in quite unprofessional tones (“you don’t want to go there, buddy, alright?”/ “good luck with your asparagus”), he seems to forget what former attorney general Alberto Gonzales once endured both in the liberal media and before Democrats in Congress, not to mention the films, comic routines, novels, and op-eds that focused on the idea of assassinating President George W. Bush, a shameful chapter in our history, which I think Eric Holder was largely mum about at the time.

But, more to the point, is this not the same Attorney General Holder who once called the nation collectively “cowards” and referred to African Americans as “my people” — not to mention a president who has called for some “to punish our enemies”? All that sounds pretty divisive and ugly.

And wasn’t Holder making his allegations of unprofessionalism while speaking before the demagogic Mr. Sharpton’s group? This is the same Al Sharpton who is on record inflaming the Crown Heights riots, provoking violence at the fatal Freddie Fashion Mart riot, helping to invent the Tawana Brawley caper, defaming and attempting to destroy the career of Duchess County prosecutor Steven Pagones, and with a long history of racist outbursts and threats (“white interloper,” “white folks was in caves . . .”, “If the Jews want to get it on, tell them to pin their yarmulkes back and come over to my house”), homophobic outbursts (“We taught philosophy and astrology and mathematics before Socrates and them Greek homos ever got around to it”), and religious bigotry (“As for the one Mormon running for office, those who really believe in God will defeat him anyways, so don’t worry about that; that’s a temporary situation”).

That Holder made these allegations at Sharpton’s invitation and at a time when Sharpton is back in the news as a former FBI informant offering information about Mafia criminals, and whose relationship with both the Mafia and the FBI is still unclear, is, well, again divisive and, to quote Holder yet again, ugly.


The Next Target: Condoleezza Rice


Having won a victory against one brilliant black woman, the Tolerance Brigade is now moving onto another. Enter the “Drop Dropbox” campaign:

Condoleezza Rice should not be on the Board of Directors of Dropbox and her selection shows that Drew Houston and the senior management at Dropbox are ethically short-sighted.

Tell Drew Houston: unless you remove Condoleezza Rice from the Dropbox Board, I, and/or my organization, will stop using Dropbox and move to an alternative cloud storage provider.

This campaign makes pretty much no sense. The authors start out by explaining that “Condoleezza Rice is both an “accomplished, high-level, well-connected individual” and “an extremely brilliant and accomplished individual, having obtained her Masters degree at only age 20 (and a number of other impressive accomplishments).” Then they ask, rhetorically, why they are trying to have her removed:

Because she was a part of the Bush administration? Because she is a Republican and we should hate Republicans? I mean, come on, isn’t Al Gore on Apple’s Board? He’s no saint!

No, they insist. This is “not an issue of partisanship.”

But it clearly is political. Apparently, Rice can’t serve on a board because Dropbox has a “commitment to freedom, openness, and ethics” and Rice ”helped start the Iraq War,” “was involved in the creation of the Bush administration’s torture program,” “not only supports warrantless wiretaps” but “authorized several,” and “was on the Board of Directors at Chevron.” In other words, because Rice holds political positions that the campaign doesn’t like — and which she has shown no evidence of having disavowed:

Condoleezza Rice could have resigned from the Bush Administration if she believed these actions — all of which she was deeply involved with — were wrong. She did not. It’s naive to believe she was simply going along with orders and was powerless to speak out or resign. Until 1982, Rice was a registered Democrat and voted for Jimmy Carter. Shortly thereafter, she changed her party affiliation because “in part because she disagreed with the foreign policy of [the President].” To deny her agency over her own actions is to dismiss her own intelligence and history. She may be backpedaling now, but this is crystal clear:

Time for a wholesale purge of the nation’s institutions, methinks.

Web Briefing: April 17, 2014

MSNBC’s Ronan Farrow Confuses the NCAA with the NAACP


​Ronan Farrow, the young celebrity who premiered on MSNBC earlier this year with much fanfare, confused the NAACP with the NCAA today in a segment following President Obama’s speech on the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act.

He made the mix-up while introducing a member of his panel, the former president of the organization: “. . . And also Ben Jealous, former head of the NCAA . . . tell me, gentlemen . . . NAACP, I apologize,” a visibly flustered Farrow said.

As the Washington Free Beacon notes, Fox News host Heather Childers was made fun of for confusing the two organizations following the University of Connecticut’s tournament championship win earlier this week, including by left-leaning Mother Jones and MSNBC host Rachel Maddow.

Farrow has struggled seriously in the ratings since his debut, and the rookie host’s delivery hasn’t always been impeccable.


Limbaugh Blasts Colbert Hire: CBS Declaring ‘War on the Heartland’


CBS’s decision to replace David Letterman with comic Stephen Colbert is an open act of contempt toward ordinary Americans, Rush Limbaugh says.

“What do I think of Colbert getting Letterman’s gig? I’ll give you the short version: CBS has just declared war on the heartland of America,” Limbaugh said on his radio show today, after CBS announced its decision to replace Letterman with Colbert in 2015.

The mainstream media is no longer waging a “covert assault” on conservative American values with comedy, he said — “now it’s just wide out in the open.”

Colbert has attracted a devoted young liberal following with his Comedy Central show, on which he satirizes a conservative news host. Letterman, who has held his late-night slot with CBS since 1993, was known for having a subtle liberal slant to his comedy.

“What this hire means is a redefinition of what is funny and a redefinition of what is comedy,” Limbaugh said. “They’re blowing up the 11:30 format under the guise of ‘the world is changing.’”

Don’t Make Me Laugh, Mr. Holder


Fitting as it was to find Eric Holder speaking in front of a “No Justice” sign, his whining about how poorly he’s been treated compared to other attorneys general, and therefore that there must be some racism involved, is pathetic, even by his lowly standards. (Imagine complaining about “divisive” tactics while sitting next to Al Sharpton!)

Andrew has already covered some of this, but back in January 2009, when I was trying to convince people that Holder should not be confirmed because he was unfit to be attorney general and would prove to be a disaster, I asked how he would have fared under the Democrats’ Gonzales standard — the “if he’s not dishonest, he’s incompetent” test — on the basis of which they ran Alberto Gonzales out of town. It’s still a question worth asking. If the Gonzales standard had been applied to Holder, he would not have gotten the job, much less kept it as long as he has.

A Moral Victory on ‘Equal Pay’


For the first time ever, the Left has encountered wide-spread skepticism on the bogus “equal pay” statistic it has been trotting out for years. I wrote about it today in my Politico column:

For all that the left still invests in the 77-cent factoid, the number is losing some of its potency. When gently asked in an MSNBC interview about the reliability of the pay-gap number, White House economist Betsy Stevenson confessed, “I agree that the 77 cents on the dollar is not all due to discrimination. No one is trying to say that it is. But you have to point to some number in order for people to understand the facts.”

There you have it: For people to understand the facts, you have to give them an easily misunderstood statistic with none of the necessary context and spin it in the most inflammatory, partisan fashion possible. Otherwise, how is anyone to understand the complex dynamics at work in interpreting disparities in pay between men and women?


Stephen Colbert to Replace David Letterman


CBS officially announced Stephen Colbert will replace Late Show host David Letterman when he steps down next year. Colbert had been speculated to be one of the immediate front-runners to replace the late-night legend thanks to his near-decade of serving as host of Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report.

On his Comedy Central show, Colbert embodies a persona satirizing conservative cable-news hosts. One would think Colbert will drop the shtick when he moves to broadcast television in an effort to appeal to a wider audience.

CNN’s Brian Stetler reports that Colbert will get a five-year contract with CBS.

“Simply being a guest on David Letterman’s show has been a highlight of my career,” Colbert said in a statement. “I never dreamed that I would follow in his footsteps, though everyone in late night follows Dave’s lead.”

“Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go grind a gap in my front teeth,” he quipped.   

Meet Sergey Karaganov


From the Toronto Globe and Mail:

Sergey Karaganov breaks into a broad smile when asked why his two-decades-old ideas about Moscow “protecting” Russian speakers abroad are suddenly the centre of his country’s foreign policy.

“Because almost everything I have said, happened,” Mr. Karaganov said in an interview in his high-ceilinged office in the historic Kitai-Gorod district of Moscow, a short walk from Red Square.

…It’s Vladimir Putin who has made defending the rights of Russian-speakers wherever they live into a foreign-policy principle for the Kremlin. But in setting this interventionist new course, the Russian President borrowed heavily from the ideas of Mr. Karaganov, whom Mr. Putin has frequently consulted regarding foreign affairs.

…In Mr. Karaganov’s telling, the doctrine that bears his name came about almost by accident. He was invited at the last minute to speak at a conference in 1992. With only a short time to prepare, he jotted down some ideas about how policy makers, rather than mourning the fact that millions of Russian speakers were left outside Russia’s borders when the Soviet Union dissolved, should see these people as assets – tools that could be used to retain Moscow’s influence over its former colonies.

They were often the wealthiest and best-educated citizens in their new countries, Mr. Karaganov argued. By protecting their rights to speak Russian in public, to watch Russian-language television and to have their children educated in Russian, Moscow would keep their loyalty and gain access to the economies and governments of their new states.

“We must be enterprising and take them under our control, in this way establishing a powerful political enclave that will be the foundation for our political influence,” reads an online transcript of the 1992 speech.

Read that, and the increasing insistence of the Latvian and Estonian governments that Estonian and Latvian should be the primary language of instruction in even their countries’ Russian schools makes sense beyond the obvious national need to ensure the survival of their languages, languages that are the principal repository of  the cultures of two numerically small peoples that have had to struggle to survive in the face of centuries of foreign domination.

The interview has much within it to consider, not least Karaganov’s view that Ukraine should be a neutral country, neither in the EU or NATO, and his suggestion that the country’s constitution should be rearranged into a federal system on Bosnian lines (I discussed that option recently here)

Above all, note how the interview ends:

“We are in a pre-World War situation, but because of nuclear weapons we will not descend into it,” he says, pausing to thank the Soviet scientists who left modern Russia with its atomic deterrent. “But there could be a military, or a quasi-military, situation.”

Sanctions, Mr. Karaganov said, will not push Russia in the direction Western leaders are hoping.

“They show our Western colleagues don’t understand anything. They think Putin and his colleagues are out for money. They’re not. They’re out for power and pride.”

There are obvious reasons for Karaganov to talk down the impact of sanctions (although count me skeptical as to how effective sanctions will turn out to be)  and there are obvious reasons to talk up a potential military threat (Karaganov knows his audience, particularly in Western Europe). But the real point that counts is his last. The Putin of a few years back was an essentially, if unprettily, pragmatic, figure primarily interested in the accumulation of wealth and power for himself and for his coterie, something that involved first the restoration of  domestic stability and the development of a functioning economy (helped, of course by a high oil price) followed by a tightening of internal control. Foreign policy was, for the most part, theater, designed to rally support at home by conjuring up enemies or triumphs abroad. There was also plenty of room for maneuvers that had the effect of keeping the oil price high..

But priorities seem to have changed. Their cash safely in the till, the regime’s leaders are dreaming of greater things. To be fair, power has always been on their agenda, but the word ‘pride’ hints at something broader, something less rational, and something much less easy to deal with.

Manchin: Reid’s Koch Obsession ‘Does Not Help Us Move This Country Forward’


At least one Democrat isn’t a fan of Harry Reid’s obsession with attacking the Koch brothers on the Senate floor. West Virginia’s Joe Manchin said he’s “always disappointed” when the majority leader relapses in his Koch dependency.

“You don’t beat up people,” he told Fox News on Thursday. “I mean, I don’t agree with [the Kochs'] politics or philosophically, but they’re Americans — they’re paying their taxes, they’re not breaking the law, they’re providing jobs.” (He did not, however, provide evidence that the Kochs have paid their taxes; perhaps Senator Reid has heard otherwise.)

He pushed back against the notion that the strategy helps fire up Democratic voters, saying that both parties’ bases are already enthusiastic.

Congressional leadership should be more focused on America’s ailing economy, Manchin argued. “This type of rhetoric does not help us move this country or move the agenda forward,” he said.

Re: Independent Senator Signals Etc.


I very much doubt that Senator King would ever give Republicans control of the Senate, John, as opposed to joining a clear GOP majority. He seems more comfortable ideologically with the Democrats, for one thing. For another, the 2016 Senate-race map looks a lot less friendly to Republicans than the 2014 map. King would have to factor in the possibility that a 50-seat-plus-him Republican majority would disappear after two years, and that he might not have much bargaining power with annoyed Democrats in 2017.

You and Your Times


Among the items in Impromptus today, I have one on “green beans,” as Karl Rove calls them: environmental activists. One of the things I say is the following:

I have a beef with the “environmental movement”: I am pro-environment, and anti-pollution, and think we ought to be “good stewards of the earth.” But, in my lifetime, the environmentalists have been so extreme, I have been forced to be “anti-environmentalist.”

You know?

I thought I would expand on that for a second here on the Corner. The other day, Boris Johnson — the brilliant writer who moonlights as the mayor of London — had a column on air pollution in his city. He is a conservative, and he thinks the air ought to be good. Who doesn’t?

And, of course, there’s the old chestnut that “conservation” is a cousin of “conservatism.”

But, to an amazing degree, a person is defined by the age in which he lives. If you’re not an earth-worshipping, economy-destroying nut — you’re “against the environment.”

I think of the terrible issue of race as well. Time was, if you favored equality and colorblindness, you were nobly liberal. Two seconds after that, colorblindness was out, and color-consciousness was in. Race preferences were very much in. If you still favored the old liberal values, you were — you know: Starts with “r” (and ends with “ist”).

Do you recall Al Gore speaking — yelling, demagoguing — before the NAACP? “I’ve heard the critics of affirmative action. They talk about a colorblind society. Give me a break! Hel-lo? They use their ‘colorblind’ the way duck hunters use their duck blind: They hide behind it and hope the ducks won’t figure out what they’re up to.”

Nice, Al.

Well, here’s the bright side: It’s better to have him as a Nobel-bearing zillionaire than as a political officeholder.

Partisan Political Chanting at the IRS


The latest news from the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) about illegal political activities at the IRS will certainly not help the administration’s (and Representative Elijah Cummings’) current narrative that there is not a “smidgen of corruption” at the IRS.

OSC is an independent agency that investigates violations of the civil service rules that govern federal employees and the federal statute that protects whistleblowers, as well as violations by federal employees of the Hatch Act, which restricts the political activity of civil servants. One of those rules is an absolute prohibition on partisan political speech and activity in the federal workplace.

On April 9, OSC announced that it was seeking “significant disciplinary action” against an IRS customer-service representative who fielded taxpayer questions on the IRS customer-service helpline. Apparently, the IRS employee “urged taxpayers to reelect President Obama in 2012 by repeatedly reciting a chant based on the spelling of his last name.” OSC did not indicate what the “chant” was, and a spokesman for OCS told me he could not reveal the chant because of privacy rules, since it spelled out the employee’s name.

Another tax specialist in the Kentucky office of the IRS was given a 14-day suspension for telling a taxpayer she was “for” the Democrats because “Republicans already [sic] trying to cap my pension and…they’re going to take women back 40 years.” The tax specialist added that her mother told her that “if you vote for a Republican, the rich are going to get richer and the poor are going to get poorer.”

Unfortunately for the tax specialist, the taxpayer recorded the illicit telephone conversation. The recording even caught the IRS employee telling the taxpayer that “I’m not supposed to voice my opinion so you didn’t hear me saying that.” This particular IRS employee had been advised about the restrictions of the Hatch Act on this type of behavior “just weeks before the conversation,” according to the OSC.

The OSC also announced it had “issued cautionary guidance to all IRS employees” in the Dallas Taxpayer Assistance Center after it received complaints that the employees were “wearing pro-Obama political stickers, buttons, and clothing to work and displaying pro-Obama screensavers on their IRS computers.” It turned out that this was “commonplace throughout the office.” It makes one wonder how much of this was going on in other IRS offices where no one complained.

And it is more evidence that there is bias and partisan political behavior spread throughout the IRS, and not just in the Washington office where Lois Lerner worked before she retired to a nice federal pension.

— Hans A. von Spakovsky is a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation. Along with John Fund, he is the co-author of Who’s Counting? How Fraudsters and Bureaucrats Put Your Vote at Risk (Encounter, 2012) and the upcomingObama’s Enforcer: Eric Holder’s Justice Department (Broadside, June 2014).

Actually, Eric Holder, Other AGs Have Faced ‘That Kind of Treatment’


Speaking at Al Sharpton’s National Action Network conference on Wednesday, Eric Holder took exception to criticism of his tenure as attorney general. He even hinted that the “unprecedented, unwarranted ugly and divisive adversity” was motivated by racism.

“​It had nothing to do with me, forget about that,”​ Holder said. “​What attorney general has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment? What president has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment?”​

Holder’s notion that past attorneys general have escaped widespread criticism, or that criticism directed toward him is solely race-based, overlooks incidents of those before him, including one of his most recent predecessors. As Mediaite’s Noah Rothman points out, Bush-era attorney general Alberto Gonzales faced calls for his impeachment during his time in the office.

In 2007, seven Democratic representatives, including some still in Congress, urged the House Judiciary Committee to investigate fully whether sufficient grounds existed for the House of Representatives to impeach Gonzales for “​high crimes and misdemeanors.”​

Additionally, Reagan-era attorney general Edwin Meese hardly escaped criticism while in office. Taking issue with his handling of the Iran-Contra investigation, among other issues, critics of Meese and the administration printed posters and t-shirts with the phrase “Meese is a Pig”​ in an effort to remove him.



Thursday links


13 Epic Animal Migrations That Prove Just How Cool Mother Nature Is.

UPS Trucks Don’t Turn Left, Saving Them 10 Million Gallons of Gas/Year.

The Logistics and Economics of Trying to Cut Your Electric Bill By Building a Hydroelectric Dam in Your Bathtub.

The U.S. Army’s Camel Corps.

Advice from c. 530: How To Use Bacon.

Portraits of Everyday Foods Sliced in Half.

ICYMI, Tuesday’s links are here, and include a cube built out of one-way mirrors, vintage accordion groupies, and the best states for surviving the zombie apocalypse.

Independent Senator Signals He Could Give GOP Senate Control


Democrats have another headache in their struggle to keep control of the Senate this year. Senator Angus King, a Maine independent who caucuses with Democrats, is now saying it’s possible he could switch sides and help the Republicans form a Senate majority.

“I’ll make my decision at the time based on what I think is best for Maine,” King told the Hill newspaper yesterday.

King usually votes with Democrats, but this week he joined the GOP in blocking a Democratic bill requiring companies to explain pay disparities between the sexes and making it easier for those claiming discrimination to file lawsuits.

Control of the Senate may come down to one seat this fall. If the GOP wins six seats they will elect a majority leader and chair all committees. But if they gain only five seats and the Senate is tied at 50 to 50, Vice President Joe Biden would break the tie in favor of the Democrats. In 2001, a tie also occurred and the two parties worked out a partial power-sharing agreement.

Senator King has said Maine’s status as a small state makes it important for him to be part of any Senate majority. “In the situation where one party has a clear majority and effectiveness is an important criteria, affiliating with the majority makes the most sense,” King said when he ran for his first term in 2012. 

King began his career as a liberal Democrat, but has long demonstrated flashes of independence. He ran for governor in 1994 as an independent saying, “Sometimes the best thing the government can do is get out of the way.” He defeated candidates of both major parties, eventually serving two full terms before retiring in 2002. As governor, King trimmed state employees and the budget and cut the time required for environmental permits dramatically.

When he ran for the Senate, he went out of his way to appeal to both conservatives and liberals. The Almanac of American Politics reports that “his Senate campaign headquarters prominently featured two photographs side by side: one of former Republican President Ronald Reagan, and the other of former Democratic Attorney General Robert Kennedy.”

Ayaan Hirsi Ali Responds to Brandeis & CAIR


Ayaan appeared on Megyn Kelly’s Fox News program last night and was, as ever, eloquent in addressing Brandeis’s disgraceful withdrawal of the degree they were to honor her with for her heroic human rights work. The interview is here

Charlie has a great column about the controversy on the home page. I’ll have more to say about it shortly.

Angus King: I Could Caucus with Republicans Next Year


That’s what he said yesterday. I’m not sure what his defection would actually do for Republicans if they already held the Senate, or what the price would be (passing over an actual Republican for a plum committee assignment?).

Get Lost


Today we have a special Thursday edition of Between the Covers with Hiawatha Bray, author of You Are Here: From the Compass to GPS, the History and Future of How We Find Ourselves. We discuss whether we’re entering an era in which it will become almost impossible to get lost (unless you’re a Boeing 777), whether the impossibility of getting lost also means the impossibility of hiding, and what lawmakers should do right now to protect the privacy of American citizens.

La. Congressman Endorsed by Duck Dynasty Family Embroiled in Video Scandal


Representative Vance McAllister is the only member of Congress to hold his seat thanks to an endorsement by members of the Duck Dynasty reality TV show. The Louisiana Republican soared to victory in a special election last November after members of the Robertson family gave him their blessing. But McAllister could now lose his seat because of the reality show he’s now created for himself. A security video taken at his district office in Monroe shows him passionately kissing a member of his staff, who, like the congressman, is married to someone else.

McAllister has told his hometown paper that he is “ashamed” of his behavior and had already confessed to his wife about the affair. But he also seems obsessed with tracking down the leaker of the video. Yesterday, his office requested an FBI investigation. Adam Terry, his chief of staff, said, “A breach in security in a federal office is a grave concern for us.”

The investigation hardly seems necessary or a good use of taxpayer resources, and McAllister’s office dropped the request for the probe late on Wednesday. West Monroe minister Danny Chance has told the Monroe News-Star that Leah Gordon, McAllister’s Monroe district office manager, told him she planned to leak the video and the paper interviewed witnesses who confirmed the conversation. For now, Gordon remains on McAllister’s payroll while the staffer he was canoodling with was let go within 24 hours.

McAllister said he plans to stand for reelection next fall “unless there is an outcry for me not to serve. . . . If there’s somebody more perfect than me who they support, it’s their will.”

An odd choice of words, and McAllister should brace himself for a slew of challengers to file against him before the August 22 deadline. As now appears likely, if no one wins 50 percent or more in the November election, the top two challengers then go into a December runoff.

Louisiana has been generally forgiving of scandal-ridden politicians. Think Edwin Edwards, the former Democratic governor now trying for a comeback to Congress at age 86 in a neighboring district. Edwards famously boasted he could lose only if “caught in bed with a live boy or a dead girl.” David Vitter, Louisiana’s sitting GOP senator, survived a 2007 scandal in which his name appeared on the client list of a prominent New Orleans house of prostitution. But the McAllister case is uncharted territory since it features a video that has attracted enormous popular attention. So the man who was propelled into office by a celebrity TV endorsement could be turfed out by voters for his own video infamy. 


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