‘The enemy of my enemy is my ally’
Human monkey behavior is often an under-explored element in articles about group dynamics in politics. That’s why we’re pleased to find National Review‘s Jonah Goldberg liberally including quotations from evolutionary psychologist John Tooby. This is from Jonah’s weekly column in the LATimes:
Jonah Goldberg writes:
…From the outset, many on the right who do not consider themselves part of the Cult of Milo opposed his invitation. The disturbing thing is that, absent these videos, we would have lost the fight.
“John Tooby, the evolutionary psychologist, recently wrote that if he could explain one scientific concept to the public it would be the ‘coalitional instinct.’ In our natural habitat, to be alone was to be vulnerable. If ‘you had no coalition, you were nakedly at the mercy of everyone else, so the instinct to belong to a coalition has urgency, pre-existing and superseding any policy-driven basis for membership … This is why group beliefs are free to be so weird’.”
Even now, Schlapp defends the initial decision to invite Yiannopoulis. On Monday’s ”Morning Joe,” he insisted: “The fact is, he’s got a voice that a lot of young people listen to.” A lot of young conservative people, he should have added, precisely because he enrages so many young liberals.
“If ‘you had no coalition, you were nakedly at the mercy of everyone else, so the instinct to belong to a coalition has urgency, pre-existing and superseding any policy-driven basis for membership,’ Tooby wrote on Edge.org. ‘This is why group beliefs are free to be so weird.’”
John Tooby, the evolutionary psychologist, recently wrote that if he could explain one scientific concept to the public it would be the “coalitional instinct.” In our natural habitat, to be alone was to be vulnerable. If “you had no coalition, you were nakedly at the mercy of everyone else, so the instinct to belong to a coalition has urgency, pre-existing and superseding any policy-driven basis for membership,” Tooby wrote on Edge.org. “This is why group beliefs are free to be so weird.”
We overlook the hypocrisies and shortcomings within our coalition out of a desire to protect ourselves from our enemies.
Today, the right sees the left as enemies — and, I should say, vice versa. Read the rest of this entry »
If the federal government were to cut off funding for public broadcasting, the programs that so many of us cherish not only wouldn’t disappear, they would have a better chance of surviving long into the future.
In 1967, President Johnson signed the Public Broadcasting Act, establishing a system of government subsidies that hasn’t changed that much in fifty years. The lion-share of federal money was allocated—not to pay directly for programming—but to go to independent public television and radio stations that were established in every corner of a vast nation. Their main purpose has always been to distribute national content to their local communities. About 70 percent of government funding went directly the local stations in 1967. Fifty years later, that formula hasn’t changed much.
When the Public Broadcasting Act became law, maintaining a network of regional stations was the only way to insure that every American household had access to public television and radio content. Today, this decentralized system isn’t necessary because it’s possible to stream or download NPR or PBS content from anywhere in the world. As audiences moves online, the regional stations supported by the federal government are becoming unnecessary.
It’s not just that these stations have become a waste of taxpayer money—they also present an obstacle to online distribution. The advent of podcasting, for example, was a singular opportunity for NPR to capitalize big on a new way of distributing its rich content. Today, NPR publishes several of the top podcasts, but in a concession to the stations, it forbids show hosts from promoting podcasts on the radio or from even mentioning NPR’s popular smartphone app. Station opposition is also the reason that podcast listeners can’t download episodes of NPR’s two top programs, Morning Edition and All Things Considered.
Recently, some of public radio’s most talented show hosts and producers have gone to work for private podcasting ventures. One reason to leave, says former-NPR reporter Adam Davidson, is that podcasters “have a creative freedom that NPR’s institutional frictions simply can’t allow.”
The fact is that without federal subsidies, the programs themselves could thrive. About 40 percent of funding for public television comes from private contributions (individuals, foundations, and businesses). For public radio, it’s about 60 percent. Read the rest of this entry »
The leaks that led to Michael Flynn’s resignation are just the beginning. Obama and his loyalists in and outside government are working to undermine Trump.
“As the leaks keep flowing from our intelligence agencies and the tweets keep flying from former Obama officials, keep in mind that although we haven’t heard much from Obama himself yet, the Trump administration is going to keep feeling the disruptions of what amounts to a shadow government.”
There are exceptions, of course. Jimmy Carter threw himself into international diplomacy, mediating an agreement in 1994 to return exiled President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to power in Haiti, and generally agitating for a Palestinian state.
Then there is Obama. Less than a month out of office, the broad contours of Obama’s post-presidency career are already taking shape. Obama and his loyalists, it seems, will remain in the center of the political fray, officially and unofficially, in an organized effort to undermine the Trump administration.
The bizarre scandal now unfolding over the resignation of national security advisor Michael Flynn is a case in point. Flynn’s resignation was prompted by a series of coordinated and anonymous leaks from current and former Obama administration officials in our domestic intelligence agencies.
“Obama had eight years in the White House to secure his legacy. Any efforts on his part to undermine his successor aren’t just an affront to the principles of our democracy, they’re an admission that he and his acolytes never put much stock in democracy to begin with.”
Regardless of any valid criticism of Flynn, the leaks are part of a larger, loosely organized effort now underway to preserve Obama’s legacy. This effort involves Obama-era officials still inside the federal government, former Obama staffers working in the private sector, and Obama himself.
This isn’t some conspiracy theory. After the election, Obama indicated he intends to stay involved in the political fray. In an email to his supporters on his last day in office, Obama encouraged them to stay engaged, promising “I’ll be right there with you every step of the way.” Less than two weeks later, he issued a statement saying he was “heartened” by anti-Trump protests over the executive order on immigration.
But there’s more to all this than Obama issuing solidarity statements to Trump protestors. For one thing, the former president isn’t moving back to Chicago. The Obama family will remain in Washington DC, within a couple miles of the White House, for the next two years as Obama’s youngest daughter finishes high school. Read the rest of this entry »
From China Digital Times: In recent cartoons for CDT, Badiucao puts a Valentine twist on President Trump’s emerging relationship with President Xi Jinping, which took a step forward in a recent phone call:
Valentines, by Badiucao:
A second drawing focuses on Trump’s effort to patch up relations with Beijing by acknowledging the “one China” policy, which declares that Taiwan is part of China. Trump had earlier stated that he was “not committed” to the longstanding policy.
One China, by Badiucao
Since his inauguration in January, President Trump’s policy toward China has been elusive and unpredictable. He ignited a firestorm of controversy soon after taking office by accepting a phone call from President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan and later saying that he may choose not to adhere to the “one China” policy, which has defined the U.S.-China-Taiwan trilateral relationship for decades. These actions seemed to indicate that he would live up to campaign rhetoric to take a tougher line on China than his predecessors. Yet after two weeks of silence between the two leaders, Trump switched tacks by promising to uphold the one China status quo in a phone call with President Xi Jinping. From Simon Denyer and Philip Rucker of the Washington Post:
In a statement issued late Thursday, the White House said the two men had held a lengthy and “extremely cordial” conversation.
“The two leaders discussed numerous topics and President Trump agreed, at the request of President Xi, to honor our one-China policy,” the White House statement said.
In return, Xi said he “appreciated his U.S. counterpart, Donald Trump, for stressing that the U.S. government adheres to the one-China policy,” which he called the “political basis” of relations between the two nations, state news agency Xinhua reported. [Source]
The call has been taken by many as a sign of acquiescence by Trump to Xi, as he acknowledged that his mention of the “one China” policy was at Xi’s request. From Jane Perlez of The New York Times:
But in doing so, he handed China a victory and sullied his reputation with its leader, Xi Jinping, as a tough negotiator who ought to be feared, analysts said. Read the rest of this entry »
‘The knives are out.’
Richard Pollock reports: National Security Advisor Gen. Michael T. Flynn (ret.) — who resigned Monday — was the victim of a “hit job” launched by intelligence operatives, Obama government holdovers and former Obama national security officials, according to former intelligence officials who spoke with The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group.
“There are individuals who are well versed in information operations — we used to call that propaganda. They know how to do it. It’s deliberately orchestrated.”
The talk within the tight-knit community of retired intelligence officers was that Flynn’s sacking was a result of intelligence insiders at the CIA, NSA and National Security Council using a sophisticated “disinformation campaign” to create a crisis atmosphere. The former intel officers say the tactics hurled against Flynn over the last few months were the type of high profile hard-ball accusations previously reserved for top figures in enemy states, not for White House officials.
“This was a hit job,” charged retired Col. James Williamson, a 32-year Special Forces veteran who coordinated his operations with the intelligence community.
Noting the Obama administration first tried to silence Flynn in 2014 when the former president fired him as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Williamson called Monday’s resignation, “stage Two of ‘Kill Mike Flynn.”
Former intelligence officials who understand spy craft say Flynn’s resignation had everything to do with a “disinformation campaign” and little to do with the December phone conversation he had with the Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
They charge officials from America’s top spy counsels leaked classified government intercepts of Flynn and President Trump’s conversations with world leaders and had “cutouts” — friendly civilians not associated with the agency — to distribute them to reporters in a coordinated fashion.
The issue of leaks was a prime topic for Trump when he tweeted Wednesday, “Information is being illegally given to the failing @nytimes & @washingtonpost by the intelligence community (NSA and FBI?).Just like Russia.”
“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” Retired Col. James Waurishuk, who spent three decades in top military intelligence posts and served at the National Security Council, said in an interview with TheDCNF. “We’ve never seen to the extent that those in the intelligence community are using intelligence apparatus and tools to be used politically against an administration official,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »
From 2004: A behind-the-scenes look back at the man himself—detached yet accessible, astute and prophetic, colorful and complex.
June 28, 2004 Issue: There they lie in their guttered drawers, projecting from the rosewood desk I had specially made for them: four yards of cards, each eight inches wide, five inches tall, most of them with his initials handwritten, headline style, in the top left-hand corner, from “rr’s birth zodiac—feb. 6, 1911” to “rr dies of pneumonia—june 5, 2004.” In between these two extremes, some eighteen thousand cards document whatever I was able to find out about thirty-four thousand of Ronald Reagan’s days. Which leaves sixteen thousand days unaccounted for. Lost leaves. “The leavings of a life,” as D. H. Lawrence might say.
“All the rhetorical arts—gesture, timing, comedy, pathos—were at his command.”
I once planned to show Reagan this card file, just to see him react as drawer after drawer rolled out yard by yard, green tabs demarcating his years, yellow tabs his careers, blue tabs his triumphs and disappointments. He could have looked down, as it were, on the topography of his biography, and seen the shoe salesman’s son moving from town to town across northern Illinois, in the teens of the last century; the adolescent achieving some sort of stability at Dixon High School in 1924; the Eureka College student and summer lifeguard through 1933; then, successively—each divider spaced farther from the next, as he grew in worldly importance—the Des Moines sportscaster and ardent New Dealer; the Hollywood film star; the cavalry officer and Air Corps adjutant; the postwar union leader and anti-Communist; the television host and corporate spokesman for General Electric; the governor of California, 1967-75; the twice-defeated, ultimately successful candidate for his party’s Presidential nomination; and, last, the septuagenarian statesman, so prodigiously carded that the nine tabs “1981” through “1989” stand isolated like stumps in snow.
He never visited my study, however, and on reflection I am glad he did not, because he might have been disturbed to see how far he had come in nearly eighty years, and how few more cards he was likely to generate after leaving the White House. Besides, I would have had to keep my forearm over a file more than a foot long, practically bristling with tabs descriptive of “rr the man.” Now that the man is no more, and subject to the soft focus of sentimental recall, a riffle through some of these tabs might help restore his image in all its color and complexity.
The first subsection deals with Ronald Reagan’s body. In 1988, at seventy-seven years of age, the President stood six feet one and weighed a hundred and ninety pounds, none of it flab. He boasted that any punch aimed at his abdomen would be jarringly repulsed. After a lifetime of working out with wheels and bars, he had broadened his chest to a formidably walled cavern forty-four inches in circumference. He was a natural athlete, with a peculiarly graceful Algonquin gait that brought him into rooms almost soundlessly. No matter how fast he moved (that big body could turn on a dime), he was always balanced.
One recalls how elegantly he choreographed Mikhail Gorbachev up the steps at the 1985 Geneva summit: an arabesque of dark blue flowing around awkward gray. Reagan loved to swim, ride, and foxtrot. (Doris Day remembers him as “the only man I ever knew who really liked to dance.”) Eleven weeks after nearly dying in the assassination attempt of 1981, he climbed onto the springboard at the Camp David swimming pool and threw a perfect half pike before anybody could protest.
Gorbachev once remarked on Reagan’s “balance” to me in an interview. But he used the Russian word ravnovesie in its wider sense, of psychological equilibrium. The President’s poised body and smooth yet inexorable motion telegraphed a larger force that came of a lifetime of no self-doubt (except for two years of despair in 1948-49, after Jane Wyman, his first wife, left him for boring her). Reagan redux did not care whom he bored, as long as nobody tried to stop him. His famous anecdotes, recounted with a speed and economy that were the verbal equivalent of balance, were persuasive on the first, and even the fourth, telling. But when you heard them for the fourteenth, or the fortieth, time, always with exactly the same inflections and chuckles and glances, you realized that he was a bore in the sense that a combine harvester is boring: its only purpose is to bear down upon and thresh whatever grain lies in its path. Reagan used homilies to harvest people.
He was always meticulously dressed in tailored suits and handmade shoes and boots. But he was neither a dandy nor a spendthrift. In 1976, he still stepped out in a pair of high-cut, big-tongued alligator pumps that predated the Cold War: “Do you realize what I paid for these thirty years ago?” His personal taste never advanced beyond the first affectations of the nouveau riche. Hence the Corum twenty-dollar-face wristwatch, the Countess Mara ties, the Glen checks too large or too pale, and a weekend tartan blazer that was, in Bertie Wooster’s phrase, “rather sudden, till you got used to it.” Yet Reagan avoided vulgarity, because he sported such things without self-consciousness. And he wore the plainer suits that rotated through his wardrobe just as unpretentiously. No man ever looked better in navy blue, or black tie.
On a card inscribed “alcohol”—his father’s cross—appears the comment of an old Hollywood friend: “Ronnie never had a booze problem, but once every coupla years, he wasn’t averse to a lot of drink. Its only effect was to make him more genial.” His face would flush after a mere half glass of Pinot Noir, giving rise to repeated rumors that he used rouge.
Actually, Reagan never required makeup, even when he was a movie actor. He didn’t sweat under hot lights: he basked in them. A young photographer who did a cover portrait of him in 1984 for Fortune told me, “When I walked into the Oval Office, I thought my career was made. He was just back from a long campaign swing, and looked terrible, all drained and lined. I hit him with every harsh spot I had, and etched out those wrinkles, figuring I’d do what Richard Avedon did to Dottie Parker. Know what? When my contacts came back from the darkroom, the old bastard looked like a million bucks. Taught me a real lesson. Ronald Reagan wasn’t just born for the camera. There’s something about him that film likes.”
Several of my cards itemize the President’s deafness. People who sat to his right imagined that they were privileged. In fact, he heard nothing on that side, having blown an eardrum during a shoot-out scene in one of his old movies. His left ear was not much better, so he relied increasingly on hearing aids, although their distortion pained him. One learned not to sneeze in his presence. When the room was crowded and voice levels rose, he would furtively switch off his sound box. I could tell from a slight frown in his gaze that he was lip-reading.
The quietness that insulated him was accentuated by severe myopia. As a boy, “Dutch” Reagan assumed that nature was a blur. Not until he put on his mother’s spectacles, around the age of thirteen, did he perceive the world in all its sharp-edged intricacy. He did not find it disorienting, as somebody who had been blind from birth might. Perhaps his later, Rothko-like preference for large, luminous policy blocks (as opposed to, say, Bill Clinton’s fly’s-eye view of government as a multifacetted montage, endlessly adjustable) derived from his unfocussed childhood.
Or perhaps the novelist Ray Bradbury, who also grew up four-eyed in small-town Illinois, has a more informed theory. “I often wonder whether or not you become myopic for a physical reason of not wanting to face the world,” Bradbury says in an oral history. Like Dutch, he competed with a popular, extrovert elder brother by “making happy things for myself and creating new images of the world for myself.” Reagan was not introverted, yet from infancy he had the same kind of “happy” self-centeredness that Bradbury speaks of, the same need to inhabit an imaginative construct in which outside reality was refracted, or reordered, to his liking. “I was completely surrounded by a wall of light,” Reagan wrote of his first venture onto a movie set. It was clear that the sensation was agreeable. Read the rest of this entry »
A video crash-up covering the political landscape of the 1960’s, featuring MLK, RFK, JFK, Malcom X, Ronald Reagan, and Barry Goldwater.
The Obama administration has been the most lawless in U.S. history. Here are just a few examples to prove it. And these are doozies…. (read more)
“She will have her 15 minutes as the new star for liberal America. It’s not going to last that much longer. This is exactly the same as the Schumer stunts, walking out on the nomination hearings and the delaying of the cabinet appointments. It’s a way to play to the base. Ask anyone who is defending her and saying how principled was Sally Yates’s action, ask her, “What was illegal about the executive order?” I’ve heard a lot of constitutional lawyers from Alan Dershowitz on down who vehemently oppose the Trump policy but say that she was absolutely wrong in what she did. She has no leg to stand on. Her only option, if she really thought it was either unconstitutional or unlawful, would have been to resign. Trump was entirely within his rights to fire an insubordinate cabinet member.”
“It’s a very simple story, and this is the Democrats playing to the base. They had this huge demonstration. They feel they have to satisfy the anger of their supporters. They have to show zeal. They have no chance of stopping these nominations, no chance of overturning the order, so they have to pretend. It’s Kabuki.”
YOU’RE FIRED: Obama Holdover Sally Yates, AG Who Ordered Justice Deptartment Not to Defend President’s Travel Ban, FiredPosted: January 30, 2017
‘It’s sad that our politics have become so politicized that you have people refusing to enforce our laws’
Matt Zapotosky, Sari Horwitz and Mark Berman reports: President Trump fired Acting Attorney General Sally Yates Monday night, after Yates ordered Justice Department lawyers Monday not to defend his immigration order temporarily banning entry into the United States for citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries and refugees from around the world.In a press release, the White House said Yates had “betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States.”
— Charles C. W. Cooke (@charlescwcooke) January 31, 2017
The White House has named Dana Boente, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, as acting attorney general. Boente told The Washington Post that he will agree to enforce the immigration order.
Earlier on Monday, Yates ordered Justice Department not to defend President Trump’s immigration order temporarily banning entry into the United States for citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries and refugees from around the world, declaring in a memo that she is not convinced the order is lawful.
Yates wrote that, as the leader of the Justice Department, she must ensure that the department’s position is “legally defensible” and “consistent with this institution’s solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right.”
“At present, I am not convinced that the defense of the Executive Order is consistent with these responsibilities nor am I convinced that the Executive Order is lawful,” Yates wrote. She wrote that “for as long as I am the Acting Attorney General, the Department of Justice will not present arguments in defense of the Executive Order, unless and until I become convinced that it is appropriate to do so.”
Yates is a holdover from the Obama administration, but the move nonetheless marks a stunning dissent to the president’s directive from someone who would be on the front lines of implementing it.
Also Monday, State Department diplomats circulated various drafts of a memo objecting to Trump’s order, which was issued Friday. The document is destined for what’s known as the department’s Dissent Channel, which was set up during the Vietnam War as a way for diplomats to signal to senior leadership their disagreement on foreign policy decisions. More than 100 diplomats have signed the memo, which argues that the immigration ban will not deter attacks on American soil but will generate ill will toward U.S. citizens.
What will happen next is unclear. A Justice Department official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said those who would normally defend the order under Yates’s authority can no longer do so. Yates will probably be replaced soon by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Trump’s attorney general nominee, who could be confirmed as early as Thursday or Friday. The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to consider his nomination Tuesday, and the entire Senate must wait one day before voting. Read the rest of this entry »
Trump’s pace is frantic, and many of his daily events are being captured by television cameras in his first week in office.
Amie Parnes reports: In his first days in office, President Trump is taking on a dizzying schedule that is decidedly different from those of his immediate predecessors.
Trump is in the Oval Office to take meetings earlier than President Obama, and he’s worked through dinner to stay in the West Wing later than President George W. Bush, who would generaly return to his residence at 6 p.m. sharp.
Trump doesn’t like to read books, those who know him say. And he doesn’t work out because he believes it’s an energy drain, according to the 2016 book “Trump Revealed.”
“When you’re making speeches for 25,000 people and shouting and screaming and having fun with everybody and making America great again, you get a lot of exercise,” he told People magazine last summer.
Trump does like to watch TV, and he is partial to cable news. On Tuesday night, he tweeted about sending help to Chicago shortly after Fox News host Bill O’Reilly’s show aired a segment about crime in the city.
One Trump ally familiar with the president’s routines said his White House schedule is similar to the one he’s held for years, and described him as “a late-night guy and early morning riser.”
“His body clock is one that is very conducive to running on little sleep,” the ally said, adding that Trump is known to get up before 6 a.m.
The White House has to adapt to each new occupant, including their management styles and lifestyles.
Obama sent a clear message to aides early on that he intended to be home for dinner with his family. But after dinner, the self-dubbed “night guy” would make his way into his personal office in the Treaty Room and resume work, tweaking his speeches and sending emails to staff.
Bush, also an early riser, started his day by getting his wife, former first lady Laura Bush, her coffee and reading the morning papers.
He told his advisers he wanted to be in the Oval Office at 7 a.m. on the dot. But he indicated he wanted downtime in the evenings to exercise and liked to be in bed no later than 10 p.m. and often earlier, Bush’s aides recalled. Read the rest of this entry »
‘Mr. Trump’s plans to eradicate violent extremists…’
“The emerging details suggest that Mr. Trump’s plans to eradicate violent extremists are not only at odds with Mr. Obama’s; they trample on American values and international law.”
The Times’ editors worried that Trump’s approach to fighting radical Islamic terrorism — which they referred to with scare quotes — is “more likely to further inflame anti-American sentiment around the world than to make the United States safer.”
“The emerging details suggest that Mr. Trump’s plans to eradicate violent extremists are not only at odds with Mr. Obama’s; they trample on American values and international law,” they wrote. Read the rest of this entry »
John Fund & Hans von Spakovsky: Why Trump’s Probe of Voter Fraud Long Overdue: Obama Has Hid the Data for 8 YearsPosted: January 25, 2017
The drapes were a change from the crimson drapes former President Obama had in his Oval Office, the Hill reported.
The change was first spotted as Trump signed executive orders on Obamacare and other things as his initial major acts as President. Read the rest of this entry »
Countdown to Jan 20, 2017 12:00 noon. Showing days, hours, minutes and seconds ticking down to 0.
The parade is underway pic.twitter.com/nUMDnvvmHq
— Bridget Johnson (@Bridget_PJM) January 20, 2017
Source: Party Countdown
WASHINGTON—Sighing wistfully while recalling all the times the psychedelic artwork helped get his “rocks off,” Vice President Joe Biden reportedly grew emotional Thursday as he carefully took down a blacklight poster of a topless barbarian chick from his office wall….(read more)
Obama’s frequent appeals to history’s judgment reflect his confidence that history will be kind to him. In the short run, it will: liberals will canonize Obama. Like the faithful Catholics chanting “santo subito” after the death of Pope John Paul II, Obama’s liberal boosters will turn him into Saint Barack, savior of health care and slayer of bin Laden. You might see hints of this already in your liberal friends’ wistful Facebook posts: “I’m really going to miss this guy.” If liberals are calling the shots, Obama’s name will shortly be inscribed on statues and state buildings, and his face will someday appear on coins and currency, while the divisions he sowed and exploited in pursuit of personal glory will be papered over. Generations of schoolchildren will learn about the beloved, barrier-shattering college professor with the megawatt smile who could tell a joke and make a jump shot—not the ambitious, polarizing ideologue whose disdain for half the country was palpable. No mention will be made of his habit of insulting supposedly lazy, ignorant Americans who cling bitterly to their religion, guns, and “antipathy toward people who aren’t like them,” and who fall prey to “anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.” Read the rest of this entry »
Even a prominent Trump adviser accepts the false premise that there has been no ‘ethical shadiness.’
Even Trump adviser Peter Thiel seems to agree. When the New York Times’s Maureen Dowd observed during an interview that Mr. Obama’s administration was “without any ethical shadiness,” Mr. Thiel accepted the premise, saying: “But there’s a point where no corruption can be a bad thing. It can mean that things are too boring.”
In reality, Mr. Obama has presided over some of the worst scandals of any president in recent decades. Here’s a partial list:
• State Department email. In an effort to evade federal open-records laws, Mr. Obama’s first secretary of state set up a private server, which she used exclusively to conduct official business, including communications with the president and the transmission of classified material. A federal criminal investigation produced no charges, but FBI Director James Comey reported that the secretary and her colleagues “were extremely careless” in handling national secrets.
• Operation Fast and Furious. The Obama Justice Department lost track of thousands of guns it had allowed to pass into the hands of suspected smugglers, in the hope of tracing them to Mexican drug cartels. One of the guns was used in the fatal 2010 shooting of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. Congress held then-Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt when he refused to turn over documents about the operation.
• IRS abuses. Mr. Obama’s Internal Revenue Service did something Richard Nixononly dreamed of doing: It successfully targeted political opponents. The Justice Department then refused to enforce Congress’s contempt citation against the IRS’s Lois Lerner, who refused to answer questions about her agency’s misconduct. Read the rest of this entry »
‘Everyone should be ashamed’
Peter Hasson reports: The end of Barack Obama’s eight years in office combined with an incoming Trump administration has liberal journalists placing a renewed importance on holding elected officials accountable.
In an article published Monday, Politico’s Jack Shafer argues that Donald Trump has made reporters “free” to cover the presidency in a more aggressively critical manner than they did during previous administrations.
Reporters, Shafer says, “ought to start thinking of covering Trump’s Washington like a war zone.”
Let’s fix this headline: Trump Is Making Journalists … Do Their Job Again? https://t.co/xUdAPMUFld
— Rachel Stoltzfoos (@RachelStoltz) January 16, 2017
“Witness how many publications are selling subscriptions by promising to ‘hold Trump accountable,’” Shafer adds later, arguing that “It’s not winter that’s coming with the inauguration of Trump. It’s journalistic spring.”
Liberal media members on Twitter received Shafer’s rediscovery of journalistic purpose with enthusiastic applause.
“Hear, hear! Has there ever been a more interesting time to be a reporter?” Politico’s Josh Dawsey cheered.
Clara Jeffrey, editor-in-chief of the left-wing Mother Jones, wrote: “Yes: Cover Trump admin the way you would a war zone.”
Oliver Laughland reports: Talk radio hosts and bloggers could be invited to official White House press briefings once the Trump administration takes office, under a highly irregular proposal being floated that may also remove briefings from the West Wing.
“Some of the media outlets that I deal with are fake news more so than anybody. I could name them, but I won’t bother. You have a few sitting right in front of us.”
Trump’s pick for White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, said on Sunday that due to “off the chart” interest in the new administration, the president-elect was considering moving briefings from the James S Brady press briefing room, which has been used by presidents to address the media since 1970, to a venue with a greater capacity.
“They’re very, very dishonest people, but I think it’s just something we’re going to have to live with. I guess the advantage I have is that I can speak back.”
— President-elect Donald Trump
Spicer argued the proposal would mean “you can involve more people, be more transparent, have more accessibility”. He suggested that this would mean outlets that are not traditionally part of the White House press corps would be able to ask questions during presidential press briefings.
“The WHCA will fight to keep the briefing room and West Wing access to senior administration officials open. We object strenuously to any move that would shield the president and his advisers from the scrutiny of an on-site White House press corps.”
— Jeff Mason, the WHCA president and Reuters White House correspondent
There’s a lot of talk radio and bloggers and people that can’t fit in right now and maybe don’t have a permanency because they’re not part of the Washington elite media,” Spicer said, “but to allow them an opportunity to ask the press secretary or the president a question is a positive thing. It’s more democratic.”
Around 200 journalists make up the White House press corps. The Brady press briefing room holds 49 seats for major media organisations, which are granted space by the White House Correspondent Association [WHCA]. The Guardian is among those outlets allocated a space.
It remains unclear how the proposal would be implemented, but it is likely to be interpreted as a hostile rebuke to conventional media outlets around the country. Read the rest of this entry »
“Take it from me, taking truth to power can be powerfully unsettling if that power sets its sights on you and attacks you and dismisses you and ignores you. It didn’t matter so much when it wasn’t about you before, CNN. Very different now that it’s you being singled out, CNN. Doesn’t seem very fair now, does it? …
Isn’t it obnoxious and unfair how some celebrate your plight? Kind of feels like the way you celebrated ours, doesn’t it? They say payback’s a bitch. If only you would take a moment to rewind the tape and see the shoe is on the other foot. Or am I confusing it with the one now kicking you in the ass?
You see, it’s hard to tell from where I sit. Back then, your silence was deafening. Very different now, isn’t it? And I suspect — just suspect — not much fun.”
Some of this is at least a little unfair. When Obama and Anita Dunn first uncorked the War On Fox in October 2009, they tried to freeze Fox out of the White House pool. That prompted the White House Correspondents Association to protest, and within a few weeks, that freeze ended — even if the combative nature of Obama et al on Fox did not. Read the rest of this entry »
WASHINGTON— Carol E. Lee and Felicia Schwartz report: The White House plans to announce that President Barack Obama is undoing a longstanding policy that allows Cuban émigrés who reach U.S. soil without visas to stay in the country and apply for a green card after one year, administration officials said.
The special exception for Cuban immigrants — known as the “wet-foot, dry-foot” policy — has been in place since the 1990s. It allows Cubans who make it to U.S. soil to stay, while those caught in transit are sent back.
Those who are permitted to remain also may be eligible to receive benefits the U.S. grants to refugees fleeing persecution, including cash assistance and health care coverage.
The policy, essentially encouraging Cubans to flee their country, has long been part of the economic, immigration, and foreign policy tool kit used by Washington, and has been opposed by Havana, which considers it a drain on its resources. No other immigrants are provided similar allowances.
Mr. Obama’s decision to reverse the policy one week before he leaves office marks one of his final moves to solidify his effort begun in 2014 to restore U.S. relations with Cuba. Putting Cubans on equal footing with immigrants from other countries would be a sign of more normalized relations. But it is also a step the Cuban government has wanted the White House to take.
The wet-foot, dry-foot policy grew out of the 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act, which gives the U.S. Attorney General discretion to treat Cuban immigrants differently than those from other countries. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s, the number of Cubans trying to leave the country skyrocketed, resulting in often dangerous flotilla escapes. In 1994, then-President Bill Clinton spearheaded a policy change that provided that anyone caught at sea would be sent back to Cuba. Read the rest of this entry »
Ayako Mie reports: Miyu Toyonaga was thrilled when she discovered who had visited her Instagram account last April. It was Ivanka Trump, her fashion icon, and she had liked a photo of Toyonaga with a leather clutch purse from Ivanka’s namesake brand.
“In a way I aspire to be like her. I would like to keep working even after I have a baby and have the option of living overseas.”
— 2012 Miss World Supermodel Japan
The 32-year-old Toyonaga, who works at the Tokyo office of an Australian commercial real estate firm, said she was struck by the elegant style and successful career of the model-turned-business executive when she first saw her Instagram pictures two or three years ago.
“In a way I aspire to be like her,” said the 2012 Miss World Supermodel Japan, who is preparing to set up a fashion e-commerce site like Ivanka. “I would like to keep working even after I have a baby and have the option of living overseas.”
Toyonaga’s views are unlikely to be embraced by those Americans still depressed about the stunning victory of her father, Donald Trump, in the U.S. presidential election in November.
Less than two weeks before he takes office, Ivanka has come under fire for her political ambitions and influence over the president-elect.
“It goes without saying that she is very beautiful. But at the same time, she is a good example that a woman can do an outstanding job and handle a misogynist father like Trump, without pushing too much of a feminist agenda or confronting…men too much. That is something that Japanese women want but have a hard time doing in a still male-dominated society.”
–Shinzato, who has been introducing Ivanka’s fashion and overall lifestyle on her blog and an online publication called 4yuuu!
Donald Trump’s favorite child is also rumored to be replacing her media-shy stepmother, Melania, as a de facto first lady, as the former Slovenian fashion model stays in New York while her husband moves into the White House this month.
But some 10,800 km away from her glamorous Upper East Side apartment, Ivanka might find more supporters like Toyonaga.
For some Japanese women who struggle to juggle demanding jobs as working professionals, mothers and wives, America’s next “first daughter” might offer her own “Ivanka-ism” or post-feminist wisdom on how to survive in a male-oriented society.
The suave fashion entrepreneur appears to have mastered a successful career and picture-perfect family life with a millionaire husband and three children, without launching an all-out feminist war against what her father represents — a white, male-dominated, capitalist system.
Yuriko Shinzato, 32, a freelance writer and mother of a 6-year-old girl, said she believed Ivanka was the opposite of failed Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, who has often antagonized men in her efforts to climb the corporate and political ladder.
It was clear from her Instagram pictures, Shinzato said, that Instagram-savvy Ivanka marketed her image as a daughter, wife and mother, while finding success in her career.
“It goes without saying that she is very beautiful,” said Shinzato, who has been introducing Ivanka’s fashion and overall lifestyle on her blog and an online publication called 4yuuu!
“But at the same time, she is a good example that a woman can do an outstanding job and handle a misogynist father like Trump, without pushing too much of a feminist agenda or confronting . . . men too much.
“That is something that Japanese women want but have a hard time doing in a still male-dominated society.”
Despite Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for tapping more female talent, the environment for female working professionals has not improved significantly in Japan.
There remains a massive shortage of nurseries, and incidents of pregnant women being harassed in the workplace still surface. Read the rest of this entry »
Nick Gillespie: Thanks, Liberals! You Applauded Obama’s Imperial Presidency, and Now We’ve Got Trump RexPosted: January 9, 2017
If Trump makes good on his promise to ‘bomb the shit out’ of ISIS without even token approval from Congress, we’ll know where he got the idea.
Nick Gillespie writes: On Jan. 20, Donald Trump will become the 45th president of the United States. Along with the nation’s nuclear codes, he will be gifted presidential powers that have been vastly increased by Barack Obama.
Thanks a lot, liberals. It’s all well and good that Joe Biden is now lecturing us that “the worst sin of all is the abuse of power,” but where the hell was he—and where were you—for the past eight years, when the president was starting wars without Congressional authorization, passing major legislation with zero votes from the opposing party, and ruling almost exclusively through executive orders and actions?
“Hell, in the early months of Obama’s presidency, The New York Times’s Thomas Friedman held up China’s ‘one-party autocracy’ as the model to emulate.”
Mostly exhorting Obama to act “unilaterally” and “without Congress” on terrorism, immigration, guns, and whatever because you couldn’t dream of a day when an unrestrained billionaire reality-TV celebrity would wield those same powers toward very different ends. Hell, in the early months of Obama’s presidency, The New York Times’s Thomas Friedman held up China’s “one-party autocracy” as the model to emulate.
“Faced with recalcitrant Republicans and flagging public support, champions of Obama’s policy agenda voiced few qualms about a power grab that created an imperial presidency on steroids.”
There’s an old libertarian saw that holds “any government powerful enough to give you everything is also powerful enough to take everything away.” The same is even more true for the president, the single most-powerful actor in the government. Faced with recalcitrant Republicans and flagging public support, champions of Obama’s policy agenda voiced few qualms about a power grab that created an imperial presidency on steroids. “We’re not just going to be waiting for legislation,” Obama crowed in 2014, proclaiming a “year of action.” “I’ve got a pen… and I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions and administrative actions.”
Consider his willingness to wage war. As The Cato Institute’s Gene Healy writes in the latest issue of Reason, Obama didn’t just commit the U.S. military to action in Libya without any sort of Congressional authorization, he did so after campaigning on the statement that “the president does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.” But when it came time under the War Powers Act to either seek retroactive buy-in from Congress or pull out, Obama simply asked around the executive branch until he found a State Department lawyer who, unlike his attorney general and others, said dropping bombs on Libya didn’t require authorization.
If and when Donald Trump makes good on his promise to “bomb the shit out” of ISIS—and god knows who else—without even getting token approval from Congress, we’ll know where he got the idea. Ditto for “secret kill lists” and drone strikes in countries with whom we’re not at war.
And still, Obama has the temerity to counsel the president-elect not to overdo it with executive orders and actions, telling NPR recently that “going through the legislative process is always better in part because it’s harder to undo.” Unless, of course, actually working to build consensus keeps you from getting what you want. In fact, it is vastly easier to undo unilateral action, as Obama himself could tell you. Read the rest of this entry »