‐ Perhaps there’s some sort of battle of the sexes playing out in the Sanders household: She bankrupted one college, and now he proposes bankrupting them all.
‐ Following his victory in the nomination fight, Trump shot up in several polls, some of which showed him slightly ahead of Clinton. The vast majority of Republicans are supporting him over her even as they continue to harbor serious reservations about him. Roughly half, for example, do not regard him as a good representative of Republican values. His fans, and even neutral observers, are jumping to the conclusion that this will be a competitive race, contrary to those who said he had no hope. That conclusion could end up being right. But it is too early to say, since Democrats remain split between Clinton and Sanders. The Washington Post–ABC poll, for example, had Trump up two points. But that’s in part because he is winning 24 percent of liberals. Some of those liberals are opposing her because they are caught up in the heat of the Sanders campaign; a lot of them are likely to come around once she wins the nomination. The polls show both of these candidates have serious vulnerabilities, with neither being trusted by the voters — which shows, at least, that the electorate still has a reservoir of good sense.
‐ Presumptive nominee Donald Trump has rethought his views on taxes, Muslim immigration, and the minimum wage. Trump’s tax plan, issued in September, proposed cuts that threatened to add trillions to the deficit. After clinching the nomination, Trump said the taxes of the wealthy would “go up,” then said they would go up only above his previously proposed cuts. In December, Trump called for a “total and complete,” albeit temporary, shutdown on Muslims’ entering the U.S. Now he says “it hasn’t been called for yet, nobody’s done it, this is just a suggestion.” At a Republican debate in November, he said the federal minimum wage had to be left “where it is,” though in December he tweeted, “Wages in are [sic] country are too low” and in May said he was “open to doing something with it.” Barry Goldwater promised a choice, not an echo. Trump promises choices, among his positions.
‐ It is yet another mark of how unusual a campaign Trump has run that he should be courting conservatives by talking about judicial appointments only after he has already sewn up the nomination. He released a list of respected conservative judges he might appoint to the Supreme Court if given the chance — although he then clarified that he might add to that list. The list pleased conservatives, but did not dispel all doubts. Trump has not, after all, shown much interest in constitutional limits on government, religious liberty, federalism, or the separation of powers, and when he has mentioned constitutional issues such as free speech and property rights, he has come down on the opposite side from most conservatives. Getting any of the people on his list confirmed would require a titanic struggle with the Democrats, who are intensely interested in the composition of the federal judiciary. The most important reassurance Trump could give conservatives would be to say that on this issue, he will resist the temptation to show his mastery of the art of the deal.
‐ Single-issue politics is not like the decathlon: You don’t care about the long jump or the shot put if your one concern is the 100 meters. The NRA’s concern is gun rights, not ISIS or the economy. Donald Trump, after years of calling for gun control, now says he opposes it. Hillary Clinton, after years of calling for gun control, continues to call for gun control. Endorsing Trump was always in the cards. The speed with which the NRA gave its blessing raises eyebrows, however. Recent NRA-backed candidates — Mitt Romney, John McCain, George W. Bush in 2004 — did not get the nod until October. One would think that conservative organizations, single- and multiple-issue, would demand strong signs of good intentions from a newcomer. The NRA did not ask for much; may they not be repaid in kind.
‐ Campaigning in Kentucky, Hillary Clinton pledged to put Bill “in charge of revitalizing the economy, because you know he knows how to do it” — especially, she went on, “in places like coal country and inner cities.” There are three things to say about this. 1) Hillary was flailing in Kentucky, after promising in March “to put a lot of coal miners . . . out of business.” By clinging to Bill’s pants, she won narrowly. 2) The royalization of the presidency proceeds apace. Siblings, spouses, children all sail to power with the prince. Bill as president put his wife in charge of health care; now Hillary will put her husband in charge of the economy. 3) But of course, no president — or spouse — can singlehandedly revitalize the economy. A president proposes policies, then works with or against Congress; meanwhile, fate, and the decisions of hundreds of millions of economic actors, here and abroad, play their parts. A panicky pol throws her mate into an assignment that only our childishness would confer on her: American politics, 2016.
‐ As P. J. O’Rourke might put it: If you think college is expensive now, wait until it’s free. Senator Bernie Sanders, who is tormenting Mrs. Clinton in the Democratic presidential primary, has promised to eliminate tuition at public universities. His math on these things is a little fuzzy, which seems to be a problem in the Sanders household: His wife, Jane, was the (very well-paid) president of Burlington College when she embarked on an ambitious plan of real-estate acquisition, to no obvious end: What use the school’s 200 students would make of an additional 30 acres of land (the University of Texas has 40,000 undergraduate students on a 40-acre main campus) was not entirely clear. She secured a $10 million loan to underwrite these shenanigans, with assurances that she already had millions of dollars in hard fundraising commitments to repay it. She didn’t have them, Burlington College didn’t repay its debts, and the financially ruined institution is closing its doors — after paying Mrs. Class War more than $200,000 in severance. Add in a dacha in Sochi and a ZiL limo and this will be a very, very familiar story.
‐ Not a sparrow falls without the Lord’s taking notice, and there is nothing too trivial for the lordly Obama administration to stick its imperial snout into, including the management of kindergarten toilets, which are now a federal civil-rights battleground. The Department of Education has sent a “Dear Colleague” letter to the nation’s public schools informing them that, so far as the federal police powers are concerned, students must be permitted to use whichever facilities are “consistent with their gender identity.” Some young people experience genuine psychological distress over their sexual identity. The most common practice is for schools to stick with whatever sex is listed on a student’s official identification, with the understanding that it might change during the pursuit of a radical realignment of sexual identity. There is no good reason to think a federal solution was required here, or that statute provided for one.
‐ The Little Sisters of the Poor won an encouraging victory at the Supreme Court. The mainstream media claimed that the court “punted” because it didn’t decide the case on the merits, and journalists ignored the underlying legal and practical realities. The Sisters came to the court after a loss in a court of appeals. The Supreme Court vacated that opinion and ordered lower courts to hear further arguments on how the government could increase access to contraception without making anyone violate her religious conscience. The Sisters and other religious organizations would have preferred a ruling on the merits that completely vindicated their religious-liberty claims, but the Court is validating their core contention: It is not necessary to make them violate their consciences, and therefore it is necessary not to.
‐ In November 2014, President Obama granted effective amnesty to millions of illegal aliens through executive actions, an act he had previously acknowledged was beyond his authority. A few months later, after 26 states led by Texas sued to halt these orders, lawyers in the Department of Justice compounded the president’s bad faith by lying to a federal judge about how they were being carried out. Their stunning misconduct was exposed in an excoriating 28-page ruling in May by Judge Andrew Hanen sanctioning them for multiple breaches of ethics. The lawyers had assured Hanen in early 2015 that no steps were yet being taken to implement the program, even as the Department of Homeland Security went ahead and issued deportation relief to 100,000 aliens. Called to account for this deception, the DOJ suggested that its lawyers “lost focus on the fact,” or that perhaps the “fact receded in memory or awareness.” Judge Hanen was unimpressed by this explanation and, among other remedies, called on Attorney General Loretta Lynch to create a “comprehensive plan” to ensure that DOJ lawyers tell the truth. Step One would be a more honest accounting of how they came to withhold facts in this case.
‐ The Transportation Security Administration, purveyor of tedious airport-security theater, has always been a goat rodeo, albeit a very slow-moving, sedate goat rodeo. It has always been inefficient, but its recent catastrophic slowdown is of a different order and may in fact be an intentional work action to lobby for higher pay and larger budgets. The usual Washington shadow theater is unfolding here: TSA security chief Kelly Hoggan has been “fired,” which in Washington means reassigned. Investigators are looking into allegations that TSA whistleblowers have been retaliated against with punitive demotions. In Chicago, airport workers rolled out cots — cots! — for hundreds of passengers stranded by the TSA’s inability or refusal to process them in time to meet their flights, even though most of them had arrived hours early. TSA boss Peter Neffenger needs to go, by which we mean fired the way they fire people in the private sector.
‐ Senator Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) has emerged as the leading opponent of a bipartisan bill to reduce sentences for federal crimes. He argues that “we have an under-incarceration problem” rather than an over-incarceration problem, because law enforcement identifies and arrests a likely perpetrator only in a minority of crimes. His argument is a non sequitur: The failure to catch criminals is not a reason to doubt that the sentences for the ones we catch can ever be too long. The root disagreement here concerns the drug war. Cotton lumps non-violent drug offenders in with violent criminals. He suggests that murders will increase because 77 percent of drug offenders released by states commit new crimes. But most of these are non-violent offenses, and only 1 percent are homicides. It is reasonable to infer from Cotton’s speeches that he thinks there is nothing wrong with the drug war that longer sentences wouldn’t fix — and to infer, from his failure to say so candidly, that drug warriors are finally on the defensive.
‐ The evidence supporting the claim that there exists a “Ferguson effect” — an increase in violent crime due to more-timid policing — continues to grow. Not only is FBI director James Comey continuing to sound the alarm, so is at least one previous skeptic. Criminologist Richard Rosenfeld spent almost a year attempting to debunk claims of a Ferguson effect; now he calls the effect his “leading hypothesis” to explain the sharp increase in murder rates in many American cities. Even the left-leaning statistics site FiveThirtyEight published a piece outlining how Chicago’s murder rate spiked as arrests and stops declined. As serious a problem as police misconduct is, Americans may have less to fear from it than from lies about it.
‐ The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, child of Barack Obama and Elizabeth Warren, proposes to nullify an act of Congress, which it has no power to do. It proposes to delete arbitration clauses from financial institutions’ contracts with their clients, on the theory that such arbitration is unjust. Even if such arbitration were irredeemably unjust (and it isn’t — the law already provides for court challenges to biased or corrupt arbitration), it is protected by the law, namely by the Federal Arbitration Act, which specifically mandates the enforcement of arbitration contracts and which contains no exception for financial firms. Consumers, moreover, willingly enter these contracts. CFPB says that the contracts’ provisions for arbitration are “fine print” — an argument that could be deployed to nullify practically any contract. We suspect that the real flaw of arbitration agreements in Democratic eyes is that they inhibit class-action lawsuits that enrich progressive lawyers directly and progressive fundraisers indirectly. Liberals have created a legal system that serves their interests, and letting people contract around it is not on their agenda.
‐ Federal meddling in local housing decisions is set to increase under President Obama, thanks to the “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” rule being promulgated by his Department of Housing and Urban Development. The rule uses federal grants to local governments to cajole them to change zoning and housing policies to conform to the department’s desires. Senator Mike Lee (R., Utah) offered an amendment to block the rule, but 16 Republicans joined the Democrats to thwart the amendment. The nation has affordable-housing problems, especially, as Lee noted, in areas of the country controlled by Democrats. Federal oversight of the suburbs does not seem like a promising solution, or one that Republicans should endorse.
‐ The Obama administration has decided to rewrite the nation’s overtime rules, mandating that practically all employees, including salaried managers, be paid overtime after the 40th work hour in a week for jobs paying up to $47,476 per year, just short of twice the median individual wage and double the current threshold. The administration here means to interpret very liberally its powers under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), a New Deal fossil that will, at some point, have to be revisited and simplified. The economic effects of this innovation are difficult to foresee, but it is a safe bet that what will not happen is that every assistant manager at Burger King currently putting in the occasional 50-hour week starts earning time and a half. More likely, business owners will respond by increasing the number of part-time employees, as other Obama policies have given them incentives to do. Other businesses will reclassify salaried workers as hourly workers, reduce wages for new hires, outsource administrative work, or, as we are seeing dramatically right now in the case of fast-food franchises and bank branches, invest heavily in automation. (There is no FLSA for robots.) What employers need most is flexibility; what employees need is a strong labor market. The Obama administration is delivering neither, and making it more difficult for its successor to do so.
‐ Baltimore police officer Edward Nero was acquitted on all counts related to the death of Freddie Gray, the African-American man who perished last summer following a severe spinal injury sustained in a police van. State’s attorney Marilyn Mosby has now failed to win a conviction against the first two officers put in the dock (William G. Porter’s trial ended with a hung jury), and four more Baltimore cops are yet to be tried. Playing to the mob rather than following the evidence, Mosby short-circuited the police investigation with what she described as her office’s “independent investigation. As she talked up the case in the media (“I heard your call for ‘no justice, no peace’”), she delayed required disclosures of key exculpatory facts to the defense — e.g., that Gray had been under the influence of drugs at the time of his arrest and had previously claimed back injuries. Simply stated, the case is a disgrace. This is not to say the police conduct was above reproach. Any errors, however, called for administrative discipline, not a criminal prosecution. Freddie Gray’s death was a tragedy. So is the death of due process in a great American city.
‐ Edmund Lee, a third-grader at Gateway Science Academy, a public charter school in St. Louis, has been prohibited from returning next fall, because his family moved to the suburbs and he’s black. The genesis of that disgrace is, ironically, a discrimination lawsuit originally filed against the St. Louis public-school system 44 years ago. The settlement entailed certain race-based school-transfer policies to help integrate the system: Black kids living in the city could attend schools in the suburbs, and white kids living in the suburbs could attend schools in the city. Court orders to that effect were dissolved by a federal court in 1999, but local authorities have extended the 1970s-era desegregation measure anyway, and so now a school whose enrollment is 80 percent white has to bar its doors to a black child on the wrong side of the city limits. Nowadays you can bar black kids from the schoolhouse door in the name of social justice.
‐ New York City has issued a ruling that restaurants and bars may not refuse to serve alcohol to pregnant women. The explanation: “Using safety as a pretext for discrimination or as a way to reinforce traditional gender norms or stereotypes is unlawful.” So to establish the principle that people of any gender can be lushes, a pregnant woman (whoops, we mean “pregnant individual,” as the document carefully puts it) who is drinking for two must be allowed to have as many Bloody Marys as she (or he, soi-disant) can hold. The city’s reasoning is unclear; if a “pregnant individual” can be of either gender, then surely denying him or her a drink cannot constitute gender discrimination. Yet allowing bars to deny service would require acknowledging that an unborn child is a person with rights that require protection — and New York’s bureaucrats will mire themselves in any logical conundrum to avoid admitting that.
‐ In an op-ed in the Hartford Courant deploring the rise of Donald Trump, Lowell Weicker, former senator and governor of Connecticut, takes a crack at WFB. “The moderate eastern Republican,” he writes, “fell victim to Republican extremists from within, such as William F. Buckley.” Well, one “moderate” eastern Republican did: Weicker lost his last Senate race in part because WFB zealously backed Democrat Joe Lieberman, who was strong on defense and socially conservative. It’s good to remember jobs well done, and it’s good that they were done to remember. too.
‐ An extended New York Times profile of Obama foreign-policy guru Ben Rhodes set Washington aflame. It revealed an administration full of foreign-policy novices who elevate narrative over truth and have withering contempt for their ideological opponents. Even when the facts of foreign policy show the failure of their ideology — with death tolls soaring in the Middle East, Iran seizing American sailors, ISIS looming as a global threat, and Russia relaunching a version of the Cold War — the Times describes Rhodes and his boss as largely unmoved. Everything is someone else’s fault, they trust no one but themselves, and they are blinded by their own towering self-regard. “They Knew They Were Right” was the title of a book attacking the neoconservatives of the Bush administration; they have nothing on this crowd.
‐ The killing of Mullah Akhtar Mansour with a drone is something of a coup. As head of the Taliban since July of last year, he had been trying to turn Afghanistan into an Islamic emirate, in touch with other Sunni extremists, for instance Ali al-Baghdadi, the self-appointed caliph of the Islamic State currently formed out of Syrian and Iraqi provinces. The secrecy and violence of a man like that is hard to unravel and harder still to deal with. Intelligence of a high order traced him to Pakistan, traveling alone except for a driver. In the wreckage of the car was a passport made out in the false name of Wali Muhammad, furnished with an Iranian visa. Pakistan complains of infringement of its sovereignty; Iran denies any knowledge of anything. The usual suspects say that this single death changes nothing much — all the same, less malice is afoot.
‐ MS804, an EgyptAir Airbus 330, took off from Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris for Cairo with 66 people on board, ten of them crew, including three sky marshals. Midway between Crete and the Egyptian city of Alexandria, the aircraft went down with total loss of life. In October 2015, 224 people lost their lives when Islamist extremists brought down a Russian aircraft flying over Sinai. Is an Islamist campaign under way? Some time ago, an unknown hand daubed on the fuselage of MS804, “We will bring this plane down.” To the authorities as they hem and haw, that means little or nothing. There is evidence of smoke in the aircraft, and trouble with the cockpit windows, the autopilot, and the flight-control system. Seemingly, a bomb had exploded, but the black box with indispensable information is on the seabed, down at 8,000 to 10,000 feet. Eighty-five thousand men and women, many of them Muslims, have clearance to work at the Paris airports, and French anti-terror police are trying to sift through them in case a breach of security is in that number. Meanwhile tourism in Egypt, an important source of the country’s income, has dried up.
‐ One objective of President Obama’s Asia tour was to pursue what he called “a lengthy process of moving towards normalization with Vietnam.” The majority of the population is too young in any case to have known a United States in arms. The Chinese drill for oil off the Vietnamese coast and claim lands in the South China Sea, altogether changing the national experience of the country, and not for the better. When Obama said — in a Saigon renamed Ho Chi Minh City, of all places — that “big nations should not bully smaller ones,” the applauding audience took it as an expression of cooperation rather than apology. Vietnam remains a one-party Communist state, and the Party’s general secretary, Nguyen Phu Trong, no doubt let Obama’s bromides about freedom of speech and association go in one ear and out the other. Concretely, he obtained support for Vietnam’s participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which seeks to counterbalance Chinese influence in the region, and above all, the lifting of the embargo in place these past 40 years on the sale of arms. The news will not have gone down well in Beijing.
‐ Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s leftist president, has been impeached by the country’s senate and suspended from office pending a trial over allegations that she falsely manipulated Brazil’s finances to hide an exploding budget deficit. Dilma has been replaced by Vice President Michel Temer, who — apparently sensing the Brazilian people’s mood — has begun to clean house: announcing, among other measures, the elimination of cabinet ministries used exclusively for patronage, such as the Ministry of Fishing. Brazil has a long way to go: Corruption scandals involving kickbacks to and from the state-owned oil company, Petrobras, extend to the national legislature and the administration of former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Throw in the Zika health crisis, a struggling economy, and this August’s problem-filled Olympic Games in Rio and it’s clear that Brazil has a lot on its plate. Prepare for a very long, very hot summer.
‐ America’s colonial rule in the Philippines was not entirely unblemished, but one invaluable thing we bequeathed the Filipinos was democracy. It took them a while to get the hang of it, to be sure; but nowadays elections in the Philippines are free, open, and vigorously contested. In the one just concluded, for example, Rodrigo Duterte, a rough-edged longtime mayor famed for his toughness, easily defeated the candidate considered to be his main rival, Grace Poe, the privileged daughter of an influential family. In other words, a charismatic, know-nothing thug defeated a lackluster, politically connected woman; looks like we taught them American democracy only too well.
‐ In a morbid twist on the concept of the suicide hotline, the Dutch legal and medical establishment, hearing a young woman cry for help as she stood on a figurative window ledge, reassured her that help was on the way: Would she like a push? Dutch doctors recently killed a patient in her 20s through lethal injection because she suffered mental illness that included hallucinations and chronic depression resulting from sexual abuse. They declared her incurable but competent to make the decision to end her life. In the wake of her death, the Daily Mail reported on a 45-year-old woman who suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder and, according to her sister, “dearly wants to die.” And if modern medicine cannot cure her, killing her is certainly feasible.
‐ Fourteen of 31 athletes determined to have doped in the 2008 Summer Olympics are Russian, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) informed the Russian Olympic Committee in May. The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) had already suspended Russia from international competition, citing a damning report from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which found a culture of state-sponsored doping. WADA has accused IAAF officials of turning a blind eye to positive test results; former IAAF president Lamine Diack is among those arrested last fall by French prosecutors. Now CBS’s 60 Minutes has aired evidence of fraudulent blood and urine samples from Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Games. The corruption has been vast and interlocking. WADA appears to be the cleanest, most responsible agency caught up in this sordid story. Vitaly and Yuliya Stepanov, a couple immersed in Russia’s athletic bureaucracy, deserve praise for blowing the whistle on much of the shenanigans. The integrity of the Olympic Games could hardly withstand the participation of a national contingent so thoroughly tainted.
‐ When a vulgar German comedian described Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan engaging in carnal relations with a goat, Erdogan demanded that the jokester be prosecuted by German authorities — which he was, under an obscure 19th-century statute protecting foreign statesmen from insult. In response, Douglas Murray (whose article on Brexit can be found in this issue) announced a contest for the most offensive Erdogan limerick, to celebrate Britain’s (relatively) free press. The contest was won by Boris Johnson, a member of Parliament who recently finished two terms as mayor of London. Johnson actually managed to surpass the comedian in vulgarity, making his entry well worthy of the contest’s 1,000-pound prize. Yet we can’t help feeling a bit nostalgic for the days when MPs lobbed quotations from Cicero back and forth during debate and unwound by writing historical tomes. O tempora, o mores — or, in the spirit of the contest:
Britain’s had many statesmen who wrote.
Ben Disraeli penned novels of note,
Gladstone published on Greece,
Churchill on war and peace . . .
Boris Johnson? On sex with a goat.
‐ Facebook features a list of “trending topics,” which turn out to be selected not by algorithm but by its left-leaning employees. A former employee suggested that as a result, conservative stories, and stories from conservative outlets, are spiked. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg met with conservatives to address his p.r. problem. Conservatives, naturally, took the opportunity to fight among themselves. The first camp accused the second of trying to shake the company down, and the second accused the first of trying to suck up to it. The alleged “shakedown” consisted of suggesting that Facebook might look for political and not just racial diversity in its hiring. Is that such a terrible idea? Facebook is an important part of the media: Many Americans get news from it. Op-ed pages that present themselves as forums for multiple views traditionally seek out such views. That’s why the Washington Post has conservative columnists, for example. Whether or not conservatives address Facebook nicely, they should encourage it to adopt a similar philosophy — or to declare itself a liberal “safe space.”
‐ Condoleezza Rice was invited by the Rutgers University board of governors to speak at commencement ceremonies in 2014. Students and faculty protested, calling the former national-security adviser and secretary of state a war criminal for her role, a decade earlier, in the U.S. decision to invade Iraq and topple the regime of Saddam Hussein. Noting that “commencement should be a time of joyous celebration” and that her scheduled participation in it had “become a distraction,” Rice withdrew. Two years later, Rutgers invited President Obama, a Democrat, to speak at commencement, and New Brunswick did not erupt in indignation over his drone strikes. Obama in his speech was, no surprise, silent on that specific inconsistency but had some pointed words for the related failure of the campus community to prefer debate over censorship. He addressed the uproar over Rice, calling “misguided” the notion that the university “or the country would be better served . . . by shutting out what she had to say.” It was a rare but welcome glimmer of the post-partisanship that he promised eight years ago.
‐ For well over a century, Harvard’s “final clubs,” which a small fraction of upperclassmen are invited to join, have exercised great influence over campus social life. That’s why Harvard president Drew Faust, backed by students and deans, is trying to put them out of business. Faust’s main gripe is that some of the clubs have single-sex membership policies, which often — especially when that sex is male — end up “enacting forms of privilege and exclusion at odds with our deepest values” (because if there’s anything Harvard opposes, it’s privilege and exclusivity). So Harvard’s students are distressed that there’s something they can’t get into, and its administrators that there’s something they can’t control: If Adam Smith were a 21st-century academic, he might say, “People of the same gender seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the other.” Now Harvard has announced that any member of a single-sex social organization will be barred from a leadership role in campus organizations and will not be recommended for scholarships. Thus the Ivy League cavemen have been judged.
‐ Yale last fall unveiled 23 “all gender” bathrooms in a rainbow-ribbon-cutting ceremony. (Most of them were simply already-existing single-stall restrooms next to which a red placard had been placed featuring a stick figure wearing half a dress.) The university took the occasion of its commencement this spring to promote the bathrooms, printing a map of them on the program and featuring them on its commencement-guide website. The school announced as well that it would print transgender students’ “preferred names” — i.e., not necessarily their legal names — on their diplomas for the first time. Professors had already been required to use students’ “preferred pronouns” when addressing them. “This is about public signaling,” Yale’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences dean told the Associated Press. Signal received: Yale stands ready to bow to whatever the new orthodoxy requires.
‐ Here’s a tip for hate-crime fakers: At least try to be plausible. There’s something about Victim Munchausen Syndrome that brings out everyone’s histrionic tendencies, whether it’s Tawana Brawley in the 1980s being smeared with feces or the gay Texas pastor who falsely accused Whole Foods of writing “FAG” on a cake he had ordered. (Another tip: Get some new material. Anti-gay bakers, always thin on the ground, have lately been hunted to extinction.) Whole Foods handled the accusation well, stoutly denying the allegation and defending its staff with video evidence, whereas any college president would have jumped on the incident, true or false, as an excuse to hold a “Day of Healing.”
‐ Ninety percent of American Indians are not offended by the name of the Washington Redskins, according to a new poll by the Washington Post. The Annenberg Public Policy Center asked American Indians the same question in 2004 and got the same result. In 2002, the Peter Harris Research Group reported that 69 percent of American Indians did not object to the name of the storied NFL franchise and that 83 percent were fine with Indian names and mascots of sports teams in general. Though that sample of polls is small, it shows that opposition to the Redskins name is waning among those on whose behalf a coalition of white liberals and American Indian activists has been shouting with increasing shrillness in recent years. Most American Indian non-activists, and most Americans period, continue to shrug at the controversy. If an offense is neither intended nor taken, perhaps it does not exist.
The Democrats’ Civil War
The new thing in politics, the rise of Trump, has overshadowed the old thing: Democrats fighting among themselves.
The contest between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders took a nasty turn at the Nevada state convention in Las Vegas in mid May. Sanders supporters, buoyed by success in electing delegates at the county level, expected to reap modest gains. But Team Clinton, using the immemorial arts of small-p politics — declaring Sanders delegates ineligible, winning dubious voice votes via the ear of a friendly chairwoman — managed to hold its own. Shouting and milling about ensued, whereupon the state party formally complained of the Sanders campaign’s “penchant for extra-parliamentary behavior — indeed, actual violence.” Sanders spiritedly defended his troops: The Democratic party could welcome “people who are prepared to fight for real economic and social change,” or it could “choose to maintain its status quo structure.”
What happened in Las Vegas did not stay there. Sanders announced that he backed Tim Canova, a lawyer challenging DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz in the August primary for her Florida congressional seat. Wasserman-Schultz’s mandate all along was to smooth the path to Hillary’s coronation, and she has done the best she could, scheduling few Democratic debates and holding them in low-viewing time slots (at least, for as long as that seemed helpful to Hillary). Now Sanders wants payback: “The political revolution,” he wrote in a fundraiser for Canova, “is not just about electing a president, sisters and brothers. We need a Congress with members who believe, like Bernie,” in “chang[ing] a corrupt system.”
Politics is a contact sport, and losers typically take their licks with more or less good grace. Sanders, though, wants to get even, and get mad. Ideology, age, and temperament spur him on: He is not a Democrat but a son of the old and new Left; this is his last hurrah; he is as cranky and megalomaniacal as he is principled.
Why do so many like him? Hillary Clinton is both corrupt and unpleasant. There is pent-up unhappiness with a president who the Left believes has been too cautious. And while few embrace or even understand socialism per se, a number of factors — fading memories of the Soviet collapse, Occupy Wall Street performance art, Thomas Piketty’s big book of numbers — have given socialism a rosy glow.
Hillary’s eventual nomination and a possible Trumpocalypse will sweep most Democrats back into the fold, but expect a long march to the California primary, and possibly all the way to their convention.