Sunday, December 31, 2017
Happy New Year! Let us make resolutions for the New Year. Let us strive to keep them. And let us say goodbye to 2017 to the events that should not carry forward into 2018, but also the ones that need to continue. Here’s adios to 2017: The mainstream media and fake news. Several members of the media have abandoned any pretense of objectivity and routinely publish fake news in opposition to President Trump. The ones who have lost all objectivity include CNN, MSNBC and Newsweek. The Washington Post is also high on the list. The fact checkers, who should start fact checking their own media. The Never Trumpers, no matter what the President and his Administration achieve. The Russia Dossier. Clifford Irving (1930-2017), most famous for his hoax (he faked a Howard Hughes autobiography) would be proud of the fake Russia-Trump Dossier. The attacks on Christmas and Christianity. A Newsweek article “How Trump and the Nazis Stole Christmas to Promote White Nationalism.” The rise of Anti-Semitism. The War on Cops, not just the media attacks, political attacks, and Black Lives Matter, but especially the targeted shootings and killings of law enforcement officers. The homicide rates in Baltimore and Chicago. The stifling of free speech and muzzling of conservatives on the nation’s campuses. The rise of safe spaces and trigger warnings on our campuses. The mindless attack by academics on “White Privilege” Two recent examples: The University of Illinois Professor who wrote “On many levels, mathematics itself operates as whiteness.” The two San Diego State geology professors who contend farmers’ markets are “white spaces” which oppress minorities. The rise of fake racist attacks, as well as the actual racist attacks. The emergence of Antifa. The kneeling of NFL players. Iran and North Korea. “What Happened” by Hillary Rodham Clinton – She lost! Sanctuary cities and states Net Neutrality The Ball boys and dad at UCLA The natural disasters, especially the floods, hurricanes and California wildfires. Terrorism and other sordid acts of mass violence Here’s to next year: Energy prices and taxes dropping The fall of Hollywood titans and others on sexual harassment claims. For the new year, California joins the recreational pot states. You are now free to tune out the unfortunate events. A deeper draining of The Swamp The continual survival of Fox News Continuing into 2018 the “Making of America Great Again.”
Monday, December 25, 2017
Memo to Special Counsel/Prosecutor Mueller: Not Only Must Justice Be Done, But It Must Appear To Be Done
Lord Hewart in his famous decision ninety years ago in the British case of R v. Sussex Justices (1924), Ex Parte McCarthy (1923) 1 KB 526 (1923) wrote “Not only must justice be done, but it must seem to be done.” Your investigation is not a typical criminal investigation. It is an investigation into the activities of the President of the United States. The removal of a President in a democracy is akin to regicide in a monarchy. Many cheered Oliver Cromwell in executing King Charles I, but history has condemned him. The process should not be tainted. Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller is moving forward with his investigation of the Russian Connection with President Trump. He has secured indictments or guilty pleas from four figures. As your investigation proceeds, we are confused as to its purpose. And your status: Is it to: 1) Investigate Russian attempts to influence the 2016 Presidential Election? 2) Investigate the potential hacking of the Hillary Clinton personal server? 3) Investigate the hacking of John Podesta’s DNC emails? 4) Investigate possible collusion between the Trump Campaign and the Russians? 5) The facts of the Trump Dossier? Or 6) The indictment and/or impeachment of President Trump? Are you a special counsel or a special prosecutor? The distinction is critical. Not only must justice be done, but it must appear to be done. You may be a registered Republican, but your office is stacked with Clintonistas, if not outright Never Trumpers. Special prosecutor Kenneth Starr in the Clinton investigation was careful to staff his office with career lawyers in the Public Integrity Section and Democrats. You did the opposite, which creates an appearance of unfairness. Much of the alleged Trump-Russia Connection revolves around a 35 page dossier prepared by Fusion GPS, which was mounting a virulent anti-Trump campaign. The Trump Dossier was paid for by the Democratic National Committee by funneling $1.02 million through the law firm of Perkins Coie as “legal services.” The FBI received the Dossier in July 2016. The Trump Dossier is believed to have been the basis for an FBI FISA request Former FBI Director Comey referred to the Dossier as full of “salacious and unproven accusations.” Yet it is the root of the alleged Trump-Russian connection. You hired Andrew Weissmann as one of your staff. Weissmann has a reputation as a legal pit bull who does not necessarily follow the rules of law. He sent Arthur Anderson into oblivion and jailed four Merrill Lynch executives. The Supreme Court unanimously overturned the Arthur Anderson conviction while the Fifth Circuit exonerated the Merrill Lynch defendants. He had denied bail to the Merrill Lynch defendants who spent a year in prison before justice was served. His political bias is well known. President Trump fired Interim Attorney General Sally Yates after she refused to defend his immigration order. Weissmann emailed Yates: “I am so proud and in awe. Thank you so much. All my deepest respect.” Andrew Weissmann on election night attended the planned Clinton Victory Party, witnessing her defeat. Peter Strzok is another conflict of interest for the FBI. His fingerprints are present everywhere in the Clinton-Trump investigations. Strzok oversaw the General Flynn interview, which led to a perjury plea. The General pled guilty to one count both because Mueller’s office threatened to indict his son and because the retired general was financially broke. Strzok edited Director Comey’s Hillary Clinton’s exculpatory letter to change the draft “grossly negligent,” a defined criminal violation in the statute, to ‘extremely careless,” which legally means the same, but doesn’t sound as bad. The release and findings were drafted two months before the pro forma interview with Hillary Clinton. The interview was not recorded and the FBI returned her server. That is highly questionable conduct! Strzok was present at the interview between Comey and Clinton. He interviewed her aides, Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills. They are believed to have answered questions with false responses, but they have received immunity. He is also involved in an exchange of compromising texts with Lisa Page, his girlfriend and FBI attorney. They are both vehemently opposed to Donald Trump. She wrote in an August text to him: “Wow, Donald Trump is an enormous douche.” He responded “How was Trump other than a douche?” She texted on March 4 “God, Trump is a loathsome human.” He responded “OMG [Trump’s] an idiot.” He texted on July 19: “Oooh, TURN IT ON!!! THE DO*CHEBAGS ARE ABOUT TO COME OUT. You can tell by the excitable clapping.” Those are just the openers. She also texted on August 6, 2016: “Maybe you’re meant to stay where you are because you’re meant to protect the country from that menace.” He texted that day “I can protect our country at many levels, not sure if that helps.” He also texted “F Trump.” He texted Lisa on August 15: “I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office – that’s there no way [trump] gets elected – but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk.” He added: “It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.” He referred to Donald Trump on October 20 as a “f---king idiot.” He wrote on The Justice Department properly recognizes that agents have Freedom of Speech, including political speech. That though does not mean they should be on a Justice Department task group investigating a President they despise. Rumors are also that Strzok used the dubious Trump Dossier to unleash the Russia investigation signing the requisite document. The Mueller investigation, or whatever it is, may be the fruit of the poisonous tree. Not only must justice be done, but it must appear to be done. Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr met secretly with Glenn Simpson, founder of Fusion GPS and Christopher Steele, CEO of the company, the preparers of the Dossier. He did not notify his superiors. In addition, Nellie Ohr, his wife, was hired by Fusion GPS during the 2016 election to conduct opposition research on candidate Trump. Conflicting testimony by Deputy Director McCabe and others before the House intelligence Committee as well as his testimony that he was unaware of the provenance and financing of the Trump Dossier even though his signature is on documents establishing his knowledge Either we have an epidemic of selective memories or perjury before Congress. Are you investigating the testimony before Congress? You can’t make this up. Just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should. Just because you can push the envelope doesn’t mean you should. The end does not justify the means in a country priding itself on the rule of Law. If this investigation were of Hillary Clinton under circumstances similar to President Trump’s alleged Russian collusion, the media would be outraged at the investigation. The disclosures about Strzok, Ohr, and Weissmann must be embarrassing to the FBI and Department of Justice. Stonewalling Congress by not opening up to Congress will only postpone full disclosure, and be even more embarrassing to the agencies. Strzok and Ohr were demoted, but Weissmann remains on your staff. Your recommendations, if to indict or impeach, should be based on solid facts, and not innuendos. The left is salivating over criminalizing the President as they did a decade earlier with Vice President Chaney. They will celebrate either or both actions. You will be sainted by them, but condemned by history if you don’t have a solid case. What about Hillary? Jeanie Rhee, another one of your staffers, represented Ben Rhodes, President Obama’s Deputy National Security Director, and Hillary Clinton. I understand that the FBI may not have wanted to be in the position of taking out one of the two major Presidential candidates during the election, but taking out a sitting President is even more dangerous in a democracy. Don’t forget the highly embarrassing miscarriage of justice by the Justice Department in the trial of Senator Ted Stevens. He was indicted a few months before the 2008 election and convicted 8 days before the election. He lost reelection by 3000 votes, giving President the critical 60 votes necessary to control the Senate. His conviction was based on gross prosecutorial misconduct. The prosecutors violated the Brady Rule by not turning over exculpatory evidence. They also introduced false testimony to secure the conviction. Attorney General Eric Holder dropped all charges against the Senator. He also ordered an annual day of training for Justice Department attorneys on the Brady Rule. In short, federal prosecutors thought the end justified the means in taking out a federal Senator. They had all the proof necessary to know Senator Stevens was innocent. Robert Mueller should be well aware of the Stevens case. He was FBI Director during the debacle. Not only must justice be done, but it must appear to be done!
Friday, December 22, 2017
Both the Trump Tax Cut and the enactment of ObamaCare took about a year. Both were viewed negatively by the public. Both acts are emblematic of the two parties. ObamaCare was such a major act that Vice President Biden loudly whispered to President Trump that “it’s a big fucking deal.” The media celebrated the passage of ObamaCare. No Republican has called the Trump tax cuts a “BFD,” but they celebrated. The media thought their celebration was excessive and ill-advised. The public reaction against Obamacare resulted in Republican landslides across the board. ObamaCare is still unpopular. The Trump tax cuts are similarly disfavored by the public in recent polls. That opposition may change as workers soon notice increased pay checks. So far, they have been convinced by Democrats and the media that the tax bill simply represents tax cuts for the corporations and the wealthy. The two bills represent the differences between the parties. Republicans prefer cutting taxes and Democrats raising tax after tax: income taxes, property taxes, sales and excise taxes, cigarette taxes, gas taxes, and a seemingly infinite number of fees. Republicans believe that workers should keep their earnings. They earned it. Government should have a compelling reason to tax. Democrats believe that the government should decide how much of your earnings you get to keep because they know better than you the best use of your/their money. Republicans believe in enriching the people. Democrats believe in redistributionism. Democrats are very compassionate with other peoples' money. Republicans believe American exceptionalism was built on hard work, individualism, personal freedom, and liberty. The entrepreneur should be rewarded – not penalized by the government. Democrats believe that today’s America is built on the largesse of government. Thus, they increase individual reliance on government and the Nanny State. They believe the solution to every problem is to spend money on it. Many Americans are ignorant today of economics. Thus the classic “I got my Obama Phone” by the woman in Cleveland. The democrats wage class warfare to increase reliance on the government. Favorite targets are the rich, corporations, bankers, insurers, drug companies, oil companies, and tobacco companies, coal companies, gun manufacturers, and a host of “deplorables.” ObamaCare is a great trifecta for the Democrats as a mammoth redistributionist program. It raises taxes and creates new taxes, increases dependence on the government, and subjects 17% of the nation’s economy to government regulation and control. Every new program necessitates hiring more government workers. Bureaucracy grows, and with it the power of the public employee unions, the main funders of the modern Democratic Party. A wide chasm separates the parties.
Monday, December 11, 2017
Boeing filed a complaint with the United States International Trade Commission (ITC) alleging Bombardier, the Canadian aircraft manufacturer, received unfair subsidies from the Canadian government to build 100 seat CSeries jets. Bombardier and the Brazilian Embraer build the smaller size passenger jets usually flown by commuter airlines. Airbus and Boeing concentrate on the larger passenger jets. Boeing claimed Bombardier's new CS100 jets would unfairly compete with its 737 series, in essence dumping the CS100 on the U.S. market with a sales price of $19.6 million each, a substantial discount from the estimated manufacturing cost of $33.2 million/plane. Delta has a contract to purchase 125 CS100 planes from Bombardier. The ITC agreed with Boeing on September 26, 2017, assessed a preliminary 220% tariff on CS100 jets, and added a 80% preliminary anti-dumping duty to it, creating a 300% tariff on CS100 jets. The 300% tariff would quadruple the cost of the plane. These penalties are preliminary, subject to review. Boeing, which no longer manufactures a 100 seat jet, claims the CS100 would unfairly compete with its 737 Max 7’s and 737-700. McDonnell Douglas in its last years of independence marketed the MD-95, a 100 seated. Orders were received from ValuJet and Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) before Boeing acquired McDonnel Douglas. Boeing rebadged the plane as the Boeing 717, but could not make it financially viable. The last of 156 717’s rolled off the Long beach assembly in 2006. Most of the 717’s are flown by Delta today. The original Boeing 737 could be configured to 100 seats, but the newer models all have a larger seating capacity. Boeing savored the ITC decision, but may not have anticipated the backlash. Ed Bastian’s, Delta’s CEO, made it clear that it will take the planes, but will not pay the added tariff. Justin Trudeau, Canada’s Prime Minister, said “we won’t do business with a company that’s busy trying to sue us and put our aerospace workers out of business.” Canada cancelled a prospective deal to acquire 18 new Super Hornet F/A-18 fighter jets from Boeing, a $5.2 billion deal. Canada will instead purchase used F-18’s from Australia. Boeing will still make some money on spare parts, but not what it would have reaped from new sales. Canada intends to cannibalize some of the Australian planes for spare parts for its existing fleet of F-18’s. Canada will open a competition in 2019 for new fighters. Boeing should not expect a favorable bid under current circumstances. The Boeing/ITC decision against Bombardier has impacts not only in Canada, but also in the United Kingdom. Bombardier, the largest manufacturer in Northern Ireland, employs 4,000 workers at a plant in Northern Ireland, where it builds wings for the CSeries plane. British Prime Minister Theresa May has said that any future contracts with Boeing are at risk. The Prime Minister needs the 10 votes of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party for her fragile coalition government. The U.K. has been a major purchaser of Boeing’s defense products. The question remains open as to British Air’s plans for future plane purchases. Boeing is a font of hypocrisy. Its hands are not clear in the subsidy battle. Both Boeing and Airbus have received large government subsidies. The United States Export-Import Bank was created during the Great Depression in 1934 to facilitate the export of United States products. The Ex-Im Bank provides loans, guarantees, and insurance to borrowers. Its renewal is very controversial. It’s been nicknamed the “Bank of Boeing” because 40% of its financing subsidizes Boeing sales. $40.5 billion was approved for guarantees to airline from 2007-2014 to purchase Boeing jets. 48% was for government owned airlines. Delta, United and American are very upset with the Ex-Im subsidies to the Persian Gulf airlines of Emirates, Etihad and Qatar, which combined with government subsidies makes it difficult for the American carriers to compete on flights to the Mideast and beyond. Boeing has been receiving since 2003 an estimated $160 million/year for 20 years from the state of Washington. It got another $8.7 billion tax incentive from Washington State in 2013 to assembly the 777 in the state. South Carolina has thrown in another $900 million in subsidies to build an assembly plant in North Charleston for its B-787 Dreamliners. Boeing received another $56 million in property tax subsidies from Illinois in 2001 to entice the company to move its headquarters from Seattle to Chicago, which otherwise made no sense. Chicago outbid Denver and Dallas-Fort Worth to attract Boeing. Barry Gardiner, trade spokesman for the U.K. Labor Party labeled Boeing a “Subsidy Junkie.” Boeing should also take note that Delta, one of its largest customers, is very upset with the company. What about Bombardier? It has entered into a partnership with Airbus as the largest partner (50.1%) to further develop, manufacture, sell and service the fuel efficient CSeries of jets globally. The CSeries will be built in Mobile, Alabama, if necessary. Boeing professes not to be worried. It said the same thing when Airbus entered the passenger jet market. Is Boeing acting like an Ostrich with its head in the sand as it savors its Pyrrhic victory?
Friday, December 8, 2017
A veritable tsunami has been released against sexual assaulters and harassers by women, and sometimes men, against powerful figures in America, most often in the entertainment and media industries. The question is why now? What caused the dam to break? The answer is that this is the next step towards full equality by women. Religions and societies historically treated women as second class citizens. Even today Saudi women are just receiving the right to drive. Step by step women achieved equality in much of the world. The change started with higher education in the United States. Oberlin College admitted women from its founding in 1833. Mount Holyoke opened its doors in 1837 as a woman’s college. The University of Iowa in 1855 became both the first coed university and the first public university to admit women. Michigan followed in 1870 and Berkeley in 1871. Many Catholic universities and Ivy League institutions went coed in the 1960’s. Women today comprise over half of the college students in the United States. British colonies led the way in granting the suffrage to women. The Isle of Man granted the vote in 1881, followed by New Zealand in 1893, all of Australia in 1902, and Canada in 1917. Great Britain gave women the vote in 1918. The United States ratified the 19th Amendment in 1920 granting the right to vote to women, following the lead of a few territories, Wyoming in 1869 and Utah in 1870, and the state of Colorado in 1883. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbad sex discrimination in employment while Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 mandated equal protection of women in higher education. One immediate effect was the growth of women athletics in the nation’s colleges. Statutes though are not self-executing. Scores of lawsuits gave legal power to victims seeking compensation for the violations of their rights Women increasingly entered the nation’s professional schools in the late 1960’s. They realized they could become doctors as well as nurses, lawyers rather than paralegals, executives instead of secretaries, pilots and not flight attendants. The doors were open. Women are often over half of the student’s in the nation’s law schools. “Old Boy’s Networks” are breaking down in the Academy and professions. Women entered politics. Twenty-one women currently serve as United States Senators, 84 as representatives, and 6 as state governors. However, despite all the advances women have made in society and the workplace, sexual assaults and harassment remain a problem. The fabled Hollywood Casting Couch goes back to the beginnings of the industry. The problem is pervasive throughout employment and education. Conduct and talk that was common among males became unreasonable when women joined the workforce. Women were scared of losing their jobs or careers if they complained. Their reputations could be shattered, while the alleged perpetrators went unscathed. Justice Thomas was confirmed to the Supreme Court. Woody Allen continued making movies. Roman Polanski received a standing ovation upon winning the Oscar. Instances of reaction against sexual harassment arose over the years. The Tailhook Convention of Navy and Marine aviators at the Las Vegas Hilton September 8-12, 1991 saw 83 women and 7 men assaulted by over 100 Navy and Marine officers. 14 Admirals and over 300 sailors and Navy personnel were cashiered or otherwise punished. The Pentagon initiated a strong anti-sexual harassment policy. Yet the problem persists in the military. Businesses have spent hundreds of millions of dollars settling sexual harassment claims, but the cases rarely received widespread publicity. Cracks appeared in the dam in 2014. The comedian Hannibal Buress in a Philadelphia comedy routine on October 16, 2014 talked about Bill Cosby’s rape history. The routine went viral online. Bill Cosby fell from grace, been criminally prosecuted, and served with scores of lawsuits. The Board of Directors of the American Apparel Company suspended Dov Charney on June 18, 2014 for a history of sexual misconduct in the workplace. They fired him in December. The issue of sexual harassment in the workplace was building like the magma before a volcanic eruption, but it had not yet blown. Women remained scared of publicly complaining of, or often even rejecting, sexual harassment and advances. Gretchen Carlson, formerly of Fox News, filed a sexual harassment suit on July 6, 2016 against Roger Ailes of Fox News and Fox. Other women came forward with allegations against Roger Ailes. Roger Ailes resigned on July 21, 2016. The case was settled in September by Fox for $20 million and an apology. Victims of harassment began to realize that they could seek justice. The mainstream media and liberal politicians had a field day castigating the conservative Fox News. Other stalwarts of Fox fell: Bill O’Reilly and Eric Bolling while two female stars, Greta Van Susteren and Megyn Kelly left Fox News. However, the cheering on of the sexual harassment suits against Fox coupled with large settlements by Fox opened a Pandora’s Box of claims throughout Hollywood, the media, politics, academics and business. The New York Times and New Yorker articles on Harvey Weinstein showed prominent actresses stepping forward against one of the most powerful figures in Hollywood. The dam burst as victims, mostly women realized they could survive. The account #MeToo prompted tens of thousands of responses. Social media spreads the word. Women found a voice to fight one of the most invidious forms of discrimination. It is the next step in women’s rights of equality.
Wednesday, December 6, 2017
Masterpiece Bakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission: Does a Custom Wedding Cake Constitute Freedom of Expression
The facts of the case are simple, at first glance Charlie Craig and David Mullins of Colorado were planning to get married in 2012 in Massachusetts because Colorado did not allow same sex marriages. They entered Masterpiece Cakes of Lakewood, Colorado to order a custom wedding cake. Jack Phillips, the bakery’s owner, said they could buy any baked product they wanted in the bakery. However, he would not bake a custom cake for same sex marriages because of his religious beliefs. Jack Phillips made it clear in one sense that he was not discriminating against gays. He stated that he would sell a cake to anyone, straight or gay, or buys a cake in the store. The couple filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which held for them. His response to the Colorado decision was to stop baking custom cakes for anyone. The issue is poised as religious freedom versus anti-discrimination and equality. The issue was created by the 2015 5:4 Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which ruled unconstitutional bans on same sex marriages. The decision left open the question of the religious beliefs of private parties. The Supreme Court held during the Civil Rights Movement that places of public accommodations, such as hotels and restaurants could not racially discriminate in providing services. The conflict in this case is between the First Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment. The First Amendment protects Freedom of Speech and Freedom of religion. The 14th Amendment provides equal protection of the law. Freedom of Speech includes Freedom of Expression. Mr. Phillips’ argument is that making a custom cake is an act of artistic expression. A critical of freedom of speech is that the government cannot compel you to speak or “express” yourself. Cases have held Freedom of Expression have included arm bands, art, banners, buttons, commercials films, flag burning, formulas, leaflets, lyrics, photos, religious clothing and religious schools, sit-ins, slogans, and t-shirts. Other aspects of the case are troubling. First, Heidi Hess, a commissioner on the Colorado Civil Rights Commission expressed her antipathy to religion. She stated “Freedom of religion and religion has been used to justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history, whether oit be slavery or the Holocaust.” She also said “And to me, it is one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use to – to use their religion to hurt others.” She expressed a bias against and intolerance for any claim of religious freedom. Secondly, same sex marriages were neither recognized by Colorado or the Supreme Court at the time Mr. Phillips refused to bake the case. In other words, he is being penalized for not baking a cake for a wedding that could not be performed in Colorado at that time. Speech and expression that was lawful at the time should not later be punished. Which will prevail: The First Amendment or the 14th Amendment? Justice Anthony Kennedy will decide
Tuesday, December 5, 2017
Scores of women, and a few men, have come forward with accusations of sexual harassment and assaults in the entertainment and media industry, politics, business, and just beginning in the academic profession. This blog compiles a list to date of the accused. A few caveats are in order. First, an accusation is not the same as guilt or even probable cause. Accusations are easy to make, difficult to rebut. Second, many of the accusations go back decades and would be very difficult to prove without collaborating evidence. That’s why we have statutes of limitation. Several of the accused lotharios and abusers involve personalities, like Harvey Weinstein, whose misdeeds were well known within their industry. Roger Ailes is the only deceased person on the list. This is a mostly complete list to date, December 5, 2017. Where’s the next shoe to fall? Who’s Next? THE LIST Ben Affleck Actor Casey Affleck Actor Woody Allen Actor, Director and Producer Ken Baker Correspondent Hadrian Belove Movie executive Eddie Berganza D.C. Comics John Besh Celebrity Chef Stephen Bittel Chair of the Florida Democratic Committee David Blaine Magician Steven Blackwell Billboard Magazine Eric Bolling Fox Nick Carter Singer Giuseppe Castellano Publisher Art Director Louis C. K. Comedian Bill Cosby Comedian and Actor David Corn Mother Jones Andy Dick Actor Richard Dreyfuss Actor Roger Ailes Fox Teddy Davis CNN Shadie Elnasias Movie Executive Adam Fields Producer Hamilton Fish Publisher Benjamin Genocchio Armory Director Gary Goddard Producer Tyler Grasham Agent Davis Guillod Producer Mark Halperin NBC Adam Henry Casting CSI John Hockenberry NPR Dustin Hoffman Actor Israel Horovitz Playwright Johnny Iuzzini Top Chef Rick Najera CBS Ron Jeremy Actor Ethan Kath Musician Garrison Keillor PBS R. Kelly Musician Robert Knepper Actor Andrew Kramer Lionsgate Andy Kreisberg Producer Knight Landesman Publisher John Lasseter Disney Matt Lauer NBC James Levine Met Opera Director Melanie Martinez Singer Danny Masterson Actor Benny Medina Agent Murray Miller HBO Jason Mojica and two co-workers Vice Media Matt Mondanile Musician Rick Najera CBS Bill O’Reilly Fox Michael Orestes NPR Shervin Pishevar Uber Jeremy Piven Actor Roman Polanski Director Roy Price Amazon Twiggy Ramirez Musician Brett Ratner Producer Tony Richardson Photographer Geraldo Rivera Fox Charlie Rose CBS Gilbert Rozon Festival Organizer Chris Savino Show Runner Mark Schwan Show Runner Robert Scoble Blogger Steven Seagal Actor Bill Shine Fox Andy Signore Defy Media Russell Simmons Producer Tom Sizemore Actor Kevin Spacey Actor Sylvester Stallone Actor Lockhart Steele Vox Media Oliver Stone Producer and Director David Sweeny NPR George Takai Actor Jeffrey Tambor Actor Glenn Thrush New York Times James Toback Director Adam Venik Agent Kirt Webster Public Relations Matt Weiner Producer Bob Weinstein Producer Harvey Weinstein Producer Jann Wenner Rolling Stone Bruce Weber Photographer Ed Westwick Actor Leon Wieseltier Publishing James Woods Actor Matt Zimmerman NBC Politicians Former Presidents William Clinton George H. W. Bush Former Vice President Al Gore Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger California (R) Members of Congress Senator Al Franken Minnesota (D) John Conyers Michigan (D) Joe Barton (R) Texas Blake Farenthold Texas ® Rueben Kihuan Nevada (D) Alabama Roy Moore (R) Arizona Dan Shooter (R) California Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra (D) Assemblyman Matt Dabaneh (D) Senator Tony Mendoza (D) Colorado Representative Steve Lebsock (D) Representative Paul Rosenthal (D) Illinois Senator Ira Silverstein (D) Kansas Senator Dan Kirby (R) Kentucky Senator Julian Carroll (D) Speaker of the House Jeff Hoover (R) Representatives Brian Linder (R) Jim DeCesare (R) Michael Meredith (R) Louisiana Johnny Anderson Staff of Lieutenant Governor Minnesota Representative Dan Schoen (D) Representative Terry Cornish (R) Missouri Senator Paul LeVota (D) House Speaker John Diehl (R) Representative Joshua Peters (D) Nevada Senator Mark Manendo (D) New Hampshire Representative Eric Schleien (R) New York Representative Steven McLaughlin (R) Representative Angela Wozniak (C) Ohio Representative Wesley Goodman (R) Senator Cliff Hite (R) Oklahoma Senator Ralph Shortey (R) Senator Bryce Marlatt (R) Representative Fourkiller (D) Representative Dan Kirby (R) Oregon Senator Jeff Kruse (R) Representative David Gomberg (D) South Dakota Senator Brian Gosch (R) Representative Matthew Wollman (R) Tennessee Representative Jeremy Durham (R) Representative Mark Lovell (R) Washington Representative Brendan Williams (D) Wisconsin House Majority Leader Bill Kramer (R) Representative Josh Zepnick (D) Portland Mayor Sam Adams Business Dov Charney American Apparel Steve Jurvetson Venture Capitalist Other Dr. Larry Nassar National Gymnastics Physician
Saturday, December 2, 2017
A jury in the arch sanctuary city of San Francisco acquitted Jose Innes Garcia Zarate of first and second degree murder, involuntary manslaughter and assault with a semi-automatic weapon, but convicted him of being a felon unlawfully in possession of a firearm. Zarate was the five times deported illegal immigrant who shot Kate Steinle to death from the back. She collapsed in her father’s arms and died two hours later in the hospital. Zarate claimed it was an accident, with the bullet ricocheting off a concrete deck. He said the gun went off accidentally when he reached for the gun on the ground. He had said though in the police report that he was trying to shoot at sea lions. Outrage followed the decision. President Trump called it a disgrace. Attorney General Sessions issued a statement: “When jurisdictions choose to return criminal aliens to the streets rather than turning them over to federal immigration authorities, they put the public’s safety at risk.” Tom Homan, Deputy Director of ICE, echoed the Attorney General: “San Francisco’s policy of refusing to honor ICE detainers is a blatant threat to public safety and undermines the rule of law. This tragedy could have been prevented if San Francisco had turned the alien over to ICE, as we requested, instead of releasing him back onto the streets.” Was it simply a case of San Francisco being San Francisco? Is it San Francisco sending a message to President Trump? Was it jury nullification? What about judicial nullification? Not all in San Francisco are celebrating the jury verdict. The very liberal San Francisco Chronicle editorialized ”Justice was rendered, but it was not served.” Zarate was released from a federal prison after serving his sentence for unlawfully reentering the United States. The Bureau of Prisons turned him over to San Francisco on an outstanding bench warrant for illegal possession of marijuana. The presumption was that San Francisco would return him to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) upon resolution of the marijuana case. However, San Francisco’s leftish, incompetent, spousal abusing Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi released Zarate on the streets on April 15, 2015 without notifying ICE. The tragic shooting followed 2½ months later on July 1. Much of the blame for the decision should fall on Judge James Feng. Supporters of the jury verdict assert it was based on the facts. That’s true as far as it goes. Counsel are limited in their cases by what the judge allows, or refuses to admit, into evidence. Judge Feng forbad mention of Garcia’s immigration status, that he had been deported 5 times, or had a felony record (7 felonies including multiple heroin arrests). Most significantly, the judge denied the jury’s request to examine the pistol’s trigger. They wanted to determine if it was easy or hard to fire. The prosecution argued the gun, a .40-caliber-Sig Sauer P239 required a high degree of force to shoot. Mayor Lee’s spokeswoman poured fuel on the fire by releasing the statement: “San Francisco is and always will be a sanctuary city.” Francisco Ugarte, the defense attorney, called it a “vindication for the rest of immigrants.” We’ll see when some prominent residents are killed by the illegal immigrants. San Francisco loosened somewhat its sanctuary policy after the tragic killing of Kate Steinle. Zarate said he comes to San Francisco because he knows it will not deport him. The more San Francisco serves as a beacon to felonious aliens, the greater the risk of more tragedies. Signs of sanity exist in the city. Sheriff Mirkarimi was defeated for reelection in 2015, receiving only 32% of the vote against Sheriff Captain Vicki Hennessey. She advocates a more flexible approach to the immigrants. I’ve reached the point where little surprises me in jury verdicts. The acquittals of O.J., Aaron Hernandez, Michael Jackson, Robert Blake, and Casey Anthony continue to mystify me. Some are threatening to boycott California. I live in California; it is impossible for me to Boycott California. Many are promising to boycott San Francisco in response to #BoycottSanFrancisco. Not me. I don’t like boycotts in general. I was born, raised, and educated in San Francisco. Francis Scott Key Elementary School, A.P. Gianinni Junior High, Lowell High School, and the University of San Francisco. The Sunset District a few blocks from the Pacific Ocean was my home for years. San Francisco is in my DNA. San Francisco is to me Neil Diamond’s song “I am, I said.” He sang “LA’s fine, but it ain’t home. New York is my home, but it ain’t mine no more.” Substitute San Francisco for New York, and anywhere I’ve lived for the O.C. No matter how much I like, or even love, Ann Arbor, Ada, Ohio, Tacoma, Seattle, Springfield, Massachusetts, or Tustin, San Francisco will always be my home.
Friday, December 1, 2017
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Spat Is Over the Future of America Two claimants assert their right to be the interim director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The initial impression is that of a slapstick comedy appropriate to the third world, not the United States. This impression is wrong. The dispute is not a battle of bureaucrats. Nor is it a fight over consumer protection. It is a debate over the future of our Republic. The issue is whether our elected officials or unelected bureaucrats will govern. Will government be responsive to the people or will it carry out the will of bureaucrats? The drafters of the Constitution gave us three separate, but equal branches of government: the executive, judicial, and legislative. They did not, and could not, foresee the rise of the administrative branch of government beginning with the New Deal. Agencies have multiplied at the federal, state, and local levels, increasingly regulating our business, professional, and personal lives with an ever expanding Nanny State in our lives. Agency powers have been escalating with favorable court decisions. They had the good will of the courts since the days of the New Deal. Courts generally defer to the agencies as long as they are acting within their jurisdiction and discretion. Some agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, are within the Executive Branch, subject to control by the President. The others are independent commissions, such as the Securities Exchange Commission or National Labor Relations Board. The President appoints, subject to confirmation by the Senate, the administrators, commissioners, and directors of both forms of agencies. In addition, Congress has the power of the purse, controlling the appropriations and budgets of these agencies in addition to the statutory writ that governs the agencies. The leaders of the executive branch agencies, as with the cabinet officers, serve at the pleasure of the President. Conversely, the commissioners of the independent agencies serve the term of their office, not subject to termination by the President. The instinct and nature of administrative bureaucracies is to expand their jurisdiction and powers. They would become an independent fourth branch of government if they could. The CFPB is as close as we have come. It is the creation of Senator Elizabeth Warren, who stuck it into the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010. The first significant difference is that Congress does not control the CFPB’s budget. Their funding comes directly from the funds of the Federal Reserve Bank. The second critical difference is the issue in this case. The Director serves for 5 years, but the Deputy Director becomes the interim director “in the absence or unavailability of the Director,” also a contribution of Senator Warren. The agency is highly controversial with conservatives reviling it and its outgoing director Richard Cordray, an acolyte of Senator Warren. The agency has pushed its jurisdiction, attacked auto dealers when barred by Congress from doing so, and diverted some settlement funds to Democrat linked NGO’s. Director Cordray resigned, promoting Leandra English, his Chief of Staff, as Deputy Director, and thus interim director. President Trump, pursuant to the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998, appointed Michael Mulvaney, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, as the new interim director, creating a conflict. The Vacancies Act allows the President to fill a vacancy with an official previously confirmed by the Senate. Thus, two potentially conflicting options exist for filling the vacancy. The Justice Department issued an opinion upholding the power of the President to fill the position. The General Counsel of the CFPB also agreed, as did a Ninth Circuit decision last year. Ms. English was not deterred by these decisions. She rushed to Senator Warren and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer for succor. She also relied on the Democrat’s favorite legal recourse, filing a lawsuit Sunday night seeking to enjoin the President. The judge held for the President Tuesday. Director Mulvaney has assumed control of the CFRB and will rein in the agency’s excesses. The power of the people, expressed through the ballot box, is safe for now.
Monday, November 27, 2017
Boorish Behavior Is Now Sexual Harassment Boorish behavior can now be sexual harassment, as well it should be. Harvey Weinstein is accused of sexual assaults. Maybe one is presumed innocent until proven guilty in the eyes of the law and selectively with Nancy Pelosi, but not in public opinion. Maybe the statute of limitations has run on most of his transgressions, but that is in the court of law, not public opinion. Several celebrities, such as Weinstein, Spacey, Rose et al, were immediately dumped by the entertainment industry – not because one accuser came forward, but because their transgressions were well known within their industries. Many of the cases involves sexual assaults and sometimes “sick” behavior. Senator Al Franken is a little different. He’s been repeatedly accused of groping, albeit not as often as Kevin Spacey. (The PHOTO Would Not Load on This Blog) That photo is damming to him. He had later sent the photo to Leeann Tweeden, who was asleep when he groped her with a smirk. What was he thinking? She was indignant and upset. In an earlier day, not many years ago, the Senator’s conduct would be considered “boorish.” They were just “misguided pranks.” They were then, and are today, batteries. They were, and are, highly offensive to the victims, and that’s what matters. We have the right to decide who, where and when touches our bodies. Hands should not be wandering. A photo op is not a groping session. Taylor Swift recently won her lawsuit against ex-DJ David Mueller for groping her. Once again, a picture is worth a thousand words. He tried, but couldn’t succeed, in explaining the wandering hand to the jury. (This Photo Also Did Not Load Onto This Page) We expect adolescents to occasionally engage in such wrongful, boorish behavior, but not grown men. 50-plus year old men should not be engaged in unconsented groping. It is totally inappropriate for a United States Senator. Similarly, what was Kevin Spacey thinking as he repeatedly grouped the private parts of men? We should also be free from men either flashing themselves or unwanted sexts. I’m not sure many women wanted to see the unsolicited Anthony’s wiener or Brett Favre’s little Brett, I don’t think many women want to see obese or old men coming out of a shower naked! What were people like Charlie Rose or Harvey Weinstein thinking? What sort of vanity or arrogance, power complex, perhaps insecurity, or sickness, caused such behavior? Boorish behavior? or Battery? Assault? Indecent exposure?
Thursday, November 23, 2017
Western Civilization is the reason we are here today in this multi-ethnic, multi-cultural nation. Western Civilization gave us Freedom of Speech, Freedom of religion, Freedom of Press, the right to assemble and petition the government for a redress of grievances. We call it the First Amendment, but it is the product of Western Civilization. The precepts of Western Civilization, going back to Ancient Greece, recognize the rights of the individual rather than a sovereign. Magna Carta in 1216 gave us due process and the beginnings of the common law and constitutional law. Magna Carta began the process of reigning in the absolute power of the King and empowering the individual. Western Civilization pulled the world out of the Dark Ages with the Reformation, Renaissance, and the Age of Enlightenment. The Industrial Revolution increased the standard of living and created a large middle class. Western Civilization has given the world a standard of living unknown in earlier generations. It has allowed billions to escape the yoke of poverty. Western Civilization led the world in ending serfdom and slavery and enfranchising women because Western Civilization has the ability to evolve. A recent rap on Western Civilization is its role in slavery, especially 3½ centuries in the Americas. Western civilization led the way in ending slavery throughout much of the world. England outlawed the slave trade in 1807 and used the British Navy to enforce the ban. The Royal Navy announced it would treat slavers as if they were pirates. The United States followed on January 1, 1808, as soon as the Constitution allowed a ban to be implemented on the Slave Trade. England banned slavery throughout the British Empire in The Slavery Abolition Act of 1833, which freed the slaves in 1/3 of the world. Sadly, the United States could not peacefully end slavery, but had to fight a brutal Civil War to accomplish the goal. The northern states, which once allowed slavery, had progressively banned slavery between 1777 and 1803 before the Civil War, leaving the United States divided between Free States and Slave States. Western Civilization did not create slavery, which was recognized both in the ancient Code of Hammurabi and the Bible. Every major civilization throughout recorded history had slaves. The Egyptians, Greeks (helots) , Persians, and Romans held slaves. The Aztecs and Mayans both had slaves and practiced human sacrifices. Some Native American tribes in the United States held slaves. African peoples not only had slaves of their own, but traded millions of captured Africans of other tribes to slavers. The Ottomans had millions of slaves. Serfdom was quasi-slavery. Slaves historically were of every skin color. Slavery was abhorrent even to the drafters of the Constitution. They never once in the Constitution used the words, slave, slavery, or slave trade. Yet the 3/5 clause was the compromise needed to bring the 13 colonies together as the United States of America. Western Civilization gave us antibiotics, the airplane, automobile, electricity, the computer, internet and GPS, the clock, printing press, telegraph, telephone, and television, the steam engine, railroads and steamships, and the university. Geniuses, such as Bohr, Copernicus, Crick and Watson, Darwin, Einstein, Fleming, Galileo, Jenner, Lister, Madam Curie, Mendel, Newton, Pasteur, Planck, Tesla, and Turing advanced civilization. Above all, Western Civilization empowered the individual. The writings of political philosophers, such as Hobbes, Hume, Locke, Rousseau, and Voltaire led to Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence, a truly revolutionary document in world history: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government.” The drafters of the Constitution, learning from their English predecessors and history, added the Bill of Rights to the Constitution to protect the people from the government. The creation of a democracy with open doors to immigrants created a beacon to the world, the beacon of liberty and opportunity. The Statue of Liberty, a gift from France, became a global symbol of the United States. Peoples of the world, refugees, still come to the United States, looking for a better future for themselves and children. That is the success of Western Civilization. Academic Freedom, a construct of Western Civilization, allows today’s professoriate to profess the tripe they profess as knowledge and learning within the academy. Western Civilization and the British Library also gave us Karl Marx.
Sunday, November 19, 2017
Roy Moore would not have been my first choice for the Senate from any state. He would usually be my last choice, except if someone even worse were running. Roy Moore joins the ranks of Congressman Todd Akin, Sharron Angle, Christine (“I am not a witch”) O’Donnell, and Ken Buck, who cost the Republicans winnable Senate seats. The problem for the Republicans is that these candidates, including Roy Moore, were nominated by a Republican base that is frustrated by the Republican inaction in Congress. Alabama voters viewed Senator Luther Strange as an insider. The Hollywood disclosures followed by the political revelations opened the doors for victims to come forward and receive justice, even if it is justice delayed. Politicians attempting to take political advantage of these scandals are playing with fire. Once unleashed, they will become uncontrollable. Sexual assaults and harassment are bi-partisan, non-partisan, equal opportunity offenders. Sleaze is sleaze. Rape is rape. Statutory rape is rape. Power, political power, is an aphrodisiac for many. Power though is not an excuse, justification or explanation for sexual assaults or harassment. Basic rules of law and morality have been cast aside by the assailants, seduced or blinded by power. The accusations have spread from Hollywood to London and Washington, D.C. and now statehouses in Florida, California, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Rhode Island. Sadly, the settlements are often shrouded in secrecy. The California legislature, meaning taxpayers, has paid out at least $850,000 over the past five years in settlements for sexual harassment. About 200 women have come forward with complaints about legislators and staffers, but only 30 investigations have ensued since 2007. The legislature does not keep track of the settlements. Congress over the past 20 years has entered in 260 settlements totaling $15 million in taxpayer funds. Yet even today very few women have publicly come forward with specific accusations. Maybe Leann Tweeden will serve as an incentive. Accusations though are not necessarily politically fatal. Donald Trump, Arnold Schwarzenegger and President Clinton survived a series of accusations about sexual assaults and harassment. Indeed, the mainstream media downplayed the accusations against President Clinton. Victims, such as Paula Jones, were alluded to as “trailer park trash.” Roy Moore was having difficulty solidifying the vote in conservative Alabama. He was twice kicked off the Alabama Supreme Court for defying the United States Constitution on the ban between Church and State. Then came the disclosures of his fondness for teenage girls, including apparently under-age girls. He thus was portrayed in the media as a pervert. The media tracked down every lead and encouraged every woman with knowledge to come forward. They were salivating as they poured it on Roy Moore and the GOP. Then came Leann Tweeden, Al Franken and the photo. The presumption of innocence works in a court of law, but not in the court of public opinion. Denials mean little against these accusations, particularly when many accusers come forward. The broadcaster Leann Tweeden accused then comedian, now Senator Al Franken, of harassment and groping during a USO tour. The damming charge is not so much the accusation as the photo. He looks like a lecher in the photo. The Democrats may throw Senator Franken under the bus or let him ride it out. They are turning on President Clinton, now asserting they should have taken action against President Clinton 20 years ago. Hillary twice lost races for the Presidency. The Democratic Party no longer has blind loyalty to the Clintons. They owe them nothing and don’t need them anymore. Now they believe Juanita Broderick, or so they say. The media is trying to use the Franken incident to segue to President Trump with the history of accusations against him. Of course, those same accusations were unsuccessfully raised during the Presidential campaign against President Trump, but the media cannot restrain itself. Critics of the harassment accusations, which span decades of claims, assert they may not always be believable because of the passage of time. Several considerations apply to these delayed claims. First, every major incident, such as a disaster, will bring out false claims. Thus, fraudulent claims may be made, but that does not detract from the validity of legitimate claims. Second, memories fade or reshape over time. However, these women appear credible. The Franken photo is worth a thousand words. It speaks loud and clear. The Senator cannot and does not deny it. He simply claims he was trying to be funny. We also know that some victims complained to authorities or others immediately after the incidents, giving rise to the validity of their present claims. Many women realized after the occurrence that any complaint would be futile under the prevailing circumstances as well as costing them their careers. Some women also understood that blowing up in the heat of anger would accomplish little, but instead waited for the right time to come forward. Always remember the old adage: “Revenge is best served cold.” For example, the then sleeping Leann was highly distressed by the two incidents. She held onto the photo and just now released it. Senator Franken could no more deny it than President Clinton the semen on Monica Lewinsky’s blue dress. One question is if Senator Al Franken will be hoisted on his own petard? The Senator posted on Facebook October 10: “The women who have shared their stories about Harvey Weinstein over the last few days are incredibly brave. It takes a lot of courage to come forward, and we owe them our thanks. And as we hear more and more about Mr. Weinstein, it’s important to remember that while his behavior was appalling, it’s far too common.” The Senator also tweeted “We must address sexual harassment.” He also wrote “I encourage victims to stand up and tell their stories.” Leann Tweeden took him at his word. Senator Franken said in a statement after Leann Tweeden’s accusation: “I respect women. I don’t respect men who don’t. And the fact that my own actions have given people a good reason to doubt that makes me feel ashamed.” Al Franken is undoubtedly not the only member of Congress with sexual harassment; the history of Congress tells us that. Judge them not by what they say, but by what they do.
Friday, November 17, 2017
How do you fight hate crimes when so many turn out to be fake? Remember Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s great “I Have A Dream Speech”, especially “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”? Remember Nina Simone’s great song “To be Young, Gifted, and Black”? Remember the post-racial Presidency of President Barack Hussein Obama? Sadly, race relations today are highly divisive, one year after the post-racial Presidency of President Obama. Race relations are so divisive that a single spark can ignite demonstrations, protests, riots, and vandalism. The spark can range from a police shooting to the posting of graffiti. One racist message is one too many. Yet many of these racist messages now turn out to be fake. One fake racist message is not only one too many, but further fans the flames of racism. Some recent examples sadly show the power of fake racism. Five black cadet candidates last September at the Air Force Academy Preparatory School reported racist messages outside their dorm room. The message said “Go home” with the “N” word. Lt. General Jay Silveria, Superintendent of the Air Force Academy, mustered the entire cadet corps and delivered a strong anti-racism message to the cadets - that racist behavior is unacceptable at the school. One of the five cadets was arrested a week ago for writing the racist remarks. Three incidents rocked the Eastern Michigan University community last spring and this fall. “KKK” was sprayed last September in red, white, and blue on a dormitory wall, coupled with a racial threat that blacks should leave the campus. The “N” word was posted Halloween on a building next to the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Monument. The message again ordered blacks to leave the campus. A racist message was left in a men’s restroom stall last spring. EMU erupted after these message. 1080 hours of campus police investigations coupled with local police and FBI led to the arrest of a 29 year old former student three weeks ago. The suspect is Eddie Curlin, an African American. St. Olaf College in Minnesota was wracked with a series of racist messages last spring. A message left on a car on April 29 said “I am so glad that you are leaving soon. One less [N ] that this school has to deal with. You will change nothing. Shut up or I will shut you up.” Demonstrators ensued. Classes were cancelled “so that we may have time for faculty, students, and staff to continue their discussions about racism and diversity on our campus.” The message was fake. Kansas has witnessed several “hate’ messages, two of which at least have been fake. An African American maintenance worker on crack splay painted KKK and a swastika on the wall of the Concord Fortress of Hope Church in Kansas City and set a fire in the building to hide his theft. A car at Kansas State was painted with a racist message. The “N” word was on the rear windshield. Words painted include “White’s only,” “Die”, and “date your own kind.” Dauntarius Williams, the African American owner of the car, later admitted to painting he car. He said it was meant as a Halloween prank. The Bart System in the San Francisco Bay Area has been repeatedly vandalized with racist messages with racist slurs and swastikas. Videos show the perpetrator to be African American. The problem is how do you respond and react to hate crimes when so many turn out to be a hoax?
Sunday, November 12, 2017
The British Broadcasting Company (BBC) unveiled on November 7 an 8’ tall statue of George Orwell, the first public statue of the great political commentator. It is in the piazza of the BBC’s New Broadcasting House, where George Orwell worked for two years during World War II. Eric Blair, best known by his pen name, George Orwell was born in India. The Indian state of Bihar opened a George Orwell Museum in his birthplace in Motihari. (See my January 2, 2010 blog). George Orwell is most famous for his anti-Communist, pro-freedom books, Animal Farm and 1984, which are required reading in England, banned in other countries, and provocative to my generation in high school. Animal Farm gives us the classic “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.” People who have never read 1984 will recognize some of these words and phrases: Big Brother, Doublethink, GroupThink, Thought Police, Newspeak, and Unperson. The Thought Police are a problem today, especially on our campuses. Orwell’s perspective was formed in the Spanish Civil War. He was wounded fighting for the Republicans. He quickly became disillusioned with Stalin and the dictatorial Soviet Union. George Orwell viewed himself as an antiauthoritarian, democratic socialist. He witnessed the disappearance during the Spanish Civil War of objective truth, what we now call “fake news.” He wrote: “In Spain, for the first time, I saw newspaper reports which did not bear any relationship to the facts, not even the relationship which is implied in an ordinary lie. I saw great battles reported where there had been no fighting, and complete silence where hundreds of men had been killed. I saw troops who had fought bravely denounced as cowards and traitors, and others who had never seen a shot fired hailed as the heroes of imaginary victories.” He continued: “The very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world. Lies will pass into history … If the leader says of such and such event, ‘it never happened. If he says that two and two are five - well two and two are five.” His description of fake news prophesizes today’s news. 1984 presages the omnipresent CCTV today. The Orwell Statue is an act of Orwellian Irony. George Orwell abhorred statues, monuments, and even the BBC. He once said: “That seems to be a fixed rule in London. Whenever you do by chance have a distant vista, block it up with the ugliest statue you can find.” He also called the BBC’s atmosphere in his diary as “something halfway between a girl’s boarding school and a lunatic asylum.” He resigned from the BBC in 1943. He wrote in his letter of resignation: “For some time past I have been conscious that I was wasting my time and the public money on doing work that produces no result …. I feel that by going back to my normal work of writing and journalism that I could be more useful than I am at present.” His more productive work was Animal Farm in 1945 and 1984 in 1949. George Orwell stood a gangly 6”2”. The statue has him leaning forward with his hands sticking out, one of which contained his ever-present cigarette. He refused to quit smoking despite the tuberculosis that was killing him. A famous Orwell quote from Animal Farm is the inscription on the wall behind the Orwell statue: “If liberty means anything at all’ it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”
Sunday, November 5, 2017
Hollywood proclaims strong belief in the First Amendment and Freedom of Speech. It is a powerful proponent of Free Speech. Rank hypocrisy. Not historically for complainants of Hollywood’s fabled casting couch or conservatives. Some actors and actresses were reputed to have slept themselves to stardom. If so, that was probably consensual. However, sex under physical force or coercion is not consensual. It is rape. Consent while drugged or intoxicated is not consent; it is rape. Bill Cosby may still get convicted. Sexual relations with underage boys or girls is statutory rape, commonly referred to as pedophilia. Roman Polanski is not the only Hollywood luminary who is a pedophile. Kevin Spacey is now seeking counseling. Kevin Spacey’s House of Cards has collapsed. The serial groper is now seeking counseling’ just like Harvey Weinstein, the serial rapist. And just like Harvey Weinstein, he was emboldened by getting away with It in the past. 7-9 days of counseling, as with Harvey Weinstein, is not going to cure 3-4 decades of sexual assaults. The consistent pattern by several Hollywood notables does more than reflect an assertion of power over the powerless. It is a reflection of a psychologically sick person who is so emboldened by their success that they can no control their rampaging libido. Boorish behavior can legally constitute sexual harassment, but the Hollywood complainants assert more than boorish behavior. They claim a wide variety of physical attacks: rape, exhibitionism, forced oral sex, and groping. They are claiming rape, sexual assaults, batteries, and emotional distress. Only after several brave actresses and models were willing to talk to the New York Times and Ronan Farrow of The New Yorker was the conspiracy of silence breached. A tsunami of Hollywood victims came forward. Many of the perpetrators were sadly well known in Hollywood for their transgressions; Harvey Weinstein, James Toback, Kevin Spacey, et al. The growing list of includes agents, actors, directors, executives, and producers, including Brett Ratner, Bill Shine, and Tyler Grasham, head an ever expanding list. Some have accused the victims of being accomplices because of their failure to come forward until now. The victims understood that their careers would fail as they would be ostracized in the industry. They also understood that they would be engaged in an exercise of futility; nothing would happen to the perpetrators. They knew that the accused sexual harasser Casey Affleck recently won an OSCAR as best supporting actor. They know the pedophile Roman Polanski received a standing ovation when he won an Oscar in 2003 for directing The Pianist. They also know that Hollywood started a petition seeking a pardon for the pedophile. Not an expression of sympathy for his victim(s)! They know President Bill Clinton got away with rape and "beloved" Senator Ted Kennedy survived the death of Mary Jo Kopechne. Artistic, but especially commercial success, can bring you forgiveness, tolerance and even enablers in Hollywood. The victims also understand the orthodoxy of Hollywood. Prop 8 was the contentious anti-gay marriage state constitutional amendment in California. Courts subsequently struck it down. Several prominent creative voiced were either fired or forced to resign for supporting Prop 8. Brendan Eich, CEO of Mozilla, was forced out for supporting Prop 8. Hs crime was donating $1,000 to the Yes on 8 Campaign. The same fate awaited Richard Raddon, Director of the Los Angeles Film Festival for donating $1,500 to the Yes on 8 Campaign. Hollywood also does not believe in Freedom of Religion. Scott Eckern, Artistic Director of the California Musical Theater in Sacramento paid the price for following his Mormon beliefs in contributing $1,000 to the campaign. So did Marjorie Christoffersen, manager of the El Coyote restaurant in Los Angeles. Her donation was only $100. The same Hollywood culture that prevented victims from speaking out also silences conservatives in Hollywood. Conservatives get the message. Unless they are a superstar in Hollywood, they are to remain in the conservative closet. The problem transcends Hollywood. It extends to D.C. and Sacramento, and now London, The California Legislature has now spent over a half million dollars in recent years settling sexual harassment claims; that is, California taxpayers have wasted $580,000 satisfying illegal conduct by legislators and staffers. One final thought; A few actors were ridiculed in the past for getting caught paying for sex, notably Hugh Grant and Eddie Murphy. Paying is far different from forcing!!!!!!
Friday, October 20, 2017
Hollywood is notorious for the casting couch, which we now know includes pedophilia, statutory rape, rape, and other forms of sexual assault. Past studio moguls known for the casting couch include Harry Cohn of Columbia, Darryl Zanuck of Fox, and Samuel Goldwyn and Louis B. Mayer of MGM. Errol Flynn and Roman Polanski enjored under age women. Arnold Schwarzenegger was no saint. They all did it because they could. Hollywood stood and applauded when Roman Polanski won an Oscar in 2002. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has expelled Harvey Weinstein, but Bill Cosby and Roman Polanski remain members. Harvey Weinstein did it because they did. Harvey Weinstein, now sometimes nicknamed Harvey Swinestein, may be the lowest of the low, but he is certainly not alone. Harvey Swinestein may be a pig, but he is certainly not alone. Harvey Weinstein’s sordid tale of misconduct is revolting and repulsive, but he’s not alone. Hollywood is known for arrogance, bravado, bullies and egomaniacs. Harvey Weinstein excelled in these. He was arrogant and a bully beyond the norm, but he is not alone. Harvey Weinstein did it because he could, but he’s not alone. Dozens of actresses and models are coming forward with despicable tales of sexual harassment by directors and producers, and to a lesser extent, actors. Yet, no matter how reprehensible the tales are, they are not naming names. Alyssa Milano asked others to #MeToo if they were harassed. Scores have, including Monica Lewinsky. Sorry Monica, but a long period of consensual sex does not constitute sexual harassment. Therein lies the problem. First, without proof, they would be open to a defamation suit. Second, they remain scared of being cut off in Hollywood. Very few producers, directors and studio leaders are women, who could protect them. Directing and producing remains primarily a man’s world in Hollywood even though women and making strides. The men who protected Harvey Weinstein are still in power. A lot of directors and producers are undoubtedly consulting their lawyers these days. Everybody knew, but nobody acted. To do so would be to commit Hollywood suicide. Look at Tippi Hayden. She disappeared after The Birds and Marnie. She claims Alfred Hitchcock blackballed her in Hollywood because she would not submit to his aggression. She paid a steep price. Actresses warned other actresses, but it was on the Q.T. Few dared to go public. Jane Fonda said she knew a year ago, but is now ashamed of staying quiet. Yet she is not naming names. She’ll rather go to North Vietnam and pose on a North Vietnam anti-aircraft gun for propaganda against the United States rather than name names in Hollywood. Quentin Tarantino said he knew, but is now sorry he didn’t do anything. Yes, he did; he continued to produce his movies with Harvey. It was economic. It took the New York Times and New Yorker Magazine to bare the bare facts about Harvey Weinstein, but they could only do so because a few brave actresses were willing to talk. Hollywood cheered the fall of Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly at Fox, ignoring its sordid record. Many actors and actresses sleep around. We should be careful to not confuse promiscuity with the casting couch. This problem is different from when Hollywood would not name the gays and lesbians in its community. It’s different because these directors and producers are hurting people whereas outing gays and lesbians could hurt their careers. Rumors always circulated to the general public about individual actors and actresses, but few people really cared. They weren’t hurting anyone. The Church covered up clergy abuse for decades and reassigned the priests to other parishes. The pedophile priests were hurting young boys. It’s not just Hollywood and the Church. Politics can bring out the worst animal behavior in some men, including Presidents Clinton, Johnson, and Kennedy while in office as President. Senator Teddy Kennedy was notorious for his philandering. Some members of Congress proclaim one thing, and do another. It goes down to the local level. Some politicians are susceptible to corruption and sexism. The stories are beginning to emerge in sports, especially in women’s gymnastics. Sexual harassment exists in many occupations and professions. Silicon Valley, in its short existence, suffers from sexism, if not sexual harassment. By no means, not all or presumably a majority of men! But one is one too many. Harvey Weinstein is now learning a fundamental lesson of success: Be nice to those you pass on the way up. You may see them again on the way down!
Thursday, October 5, 2017
We hear and read how divisive a voice President supposedly is. And yet, what about Ex CBS Vice President and senior counsel Hayley Geftman-Gold who posted on Facebook after the Vegas killings: “If they wouldn’t do anything when children were murdered I have no hope that Repugs will ever do the right thing … I’m actually not even sympathetic bc country music fans often are Republican gun toters."? Those who have online threatened Ms. Geftman-Gold with violence? Michelle Obama? “No wonder people don’t trust politics” because the Republican Party is “all men, all white.” Hillary Clinton calling Trump supporters “deplorable?” Hillary Clinton calling women who supported Donald Tump “publicly disrespecting themselves?” Massachusetts Democratic representatives Seth Moulton and Katherine Clark who refused to observe the Congressional moment of silence for the Las Vegas victims? Nancy Sinatra, who tweeted and then deleted “murderous members of the NRA shoud be executed by a firing squad.” ESPN commentator Jemele Hill who posted: “Donald Trump is a white supremacist who has largely surrounded w/other white supremacists,” subsequently added “Trump is the most ignorant, offensive president of my lifetime. His rise is a direct result of white supremacy. Period.” One more: “He is unqualified and unfit to be president. He is not a leader. He is not a leader. And if he were not white, he never would have been elected.” Ithaca College Professor Stephen Mosher who called “God Bless America” a “warmongering song.” Controversial Drexel Professor George Ciccarielo-Maher (2016 – “All I want for Christmas is white genocide”) “White people and men” go on shooting sprees “when they don’t get what they want.” Duke Professor Jay Pearson for calling President Trump a “textbook racist”? Smithburg High School history teacher Joshua Cramer, who posted his rule: “Trump is a symbol of racism and bigotry. As I did last year, students wearing Trump or MAGA apparel are asked to leave. Let them come after me for it.” Cal State Fullerton Professor Eric Canin who attempted to rip a sign out of a college republican’s hands and then hit another college Republican in the face? Fresno State Professor Lars Maischak tweeting “To save American democracy, Trump must hang. The sooner and higher, the better?” Imagine, liberals advocating lynching? Professor Maischak further tweeting “Justice = The execution of two republicans for each deported Immigrant”? More from Professor Maischak: “If only Mary had an abortion! We would have been spared this Clerical-Fascist crap”? Clemson Professor Bart Knijnenburg on Facebook calling “all Republicans “racist” and “scum”? Cambridgeport Elementary School librarian Liz Phipps Soeiro who returned a gift of Dr. Seuss books from First lady Melania Trump on National Read a Book Day to the First Lady, saying the Seuss illustrations are "stepped in racist propaganda,caricatures, and harmful stereotypes."? How about her calling Dr. Seuss "a bit of a cliche" as well as "a tired and worn ambassador for children's literature."? Elgin, Illinois School Board member Traci O'Neal Ellis who posted on Facebook "That flag means nothing more than toilet paper to me."? The professoriate and academic Neanderthals who chill speech and muzzle conservatives on campus? Colin Kaepernick and the NFL?
Saturday, September 30, 2017
The Hubris of Roger Goodell and the NFL In the immortal words of Mad Magazine’s Alfred E. Neuman: “What, me worry?” These are trying times for the NFL. The owners and players are rolling in dough. Almost all games are sellouts. The NFL is back in Los Angeles. NFL teams have received $3.2 billion in stadium subsidies. $7 billion annually in TV contracts with CBS, ESPN, Fox, NBC, and DirecTV. Unlike professional baseball and hockey, they don’t have to support minor league teams; the colleges are their minor league. Even the most incompetent owners of chronically losing teams earn a large profit from the NFL. Commissioner Goodell earned $31.7 million in 2015 and $174.1 million over seven years. His motto: “What, me worry?” He’s getting a five year contract extension through 2024. What, Roger worry? What’s the buyout? The Commissioner started out in the NFL as an intern. He is the living exemplar of the Peter Principle in action. Beer and jersey sales are in the stratosphere. The Dallas Cowboys became “America’s Team.” Baseball was America’s Pastime; now it’s football. The Boys of Summer aren’t worshiped anymore. Colin Kaepenick took a knee last year and is out of the League. The NFL is taking a knee this year. The NFL now believes it is bigger than the fans. The hubris of the NFL. NASCAR understands its fan base. One owner said the crew members could stand, or take the Greyhound Bus back. The NFL's swans headquarters are at 345 Park Avenue in Manhattan. Perhaps they should move back to Columbus or dayton. They have forgotten their fan base in what New Yorkers often derisively refer to as "Flyover Country." The NFL celebrated America’s military, but charged the Pentagon $6.1 million to do so. NFL, look to the University of Missouri. We go to the movies and watch TV, both for entertainment, and to escape from the real world and its problems. So too with athletic events! We don’t go to the movies, watch TV, or football games for politics. We can do that with CNN, Fox, and MSNBC. President Trump in a simple tweet made it about the American Flag and the National Anthem. The Flag is our symbol. Our men and women have died under, and been wounded and maimed under the Flag. They salute the Flag to honor the Flag and country. The players say it’s about oppression, inequality and the President. President Trump’s patriotic tweets trump the NFL players. They cry oppression. 25 year old pampered, self-indulgent multi-millionaires present a poor case for oppression. Many of the players decry inequality. The highly paid players are a symbol and beneficiary of inequality. High ticket prices, gouging food and beverage prices, inflated prices for merchandise made in sweatshops overseas, resulting in high salaries, that’s the NFL inequality. Give it back to your community. 25 year old basketball, football, and baseball players with histories of alcohol, drugs, domestic violence, and illegitimate children are not role models for America. Their athletic success is a role model for aspiring athletes. Leave it at that. We hardly ever hear of the lives of the scores of players who are solid citizens and loyal family men. We hear of the miscreants on and off the field. Similarly, I don’t care what Hollywood celebrities profess and proclaim, but I find their mug shots and rap sheets amusing. Freedom of speech? Not really! Freedom of speech does not legally exist in the private sector. It is a constitutional guarantee against actions of the government, but does not apply to private action. However, we respect their right to protest, by words or symbols. Actions have consequences. Just as the players can state their positions, the public has every right to respond by not buying their tickets and merchandise, attending their games, or watching their games on TV. The President has the same right to speak out as the players. President Trump has every right to use the President’s Bully Pulpit to call out the players. They’ll show President Trump. They’ll kneel, hold hands, stay inside, and stand for God Bless the Queen in England. That’ll show Trump. And the American public! Solidarity of the players. The hubris of the players and the Commissioner. Their arrogance betrays the basic maxim: “Don’t bite the hand the feeds you.” Who’s right? The NFL or President Trump? Initial fan resistance may be a trickle or a torrent. Even if a trickle, a trickle can build on a trickle and turn into a flood. These are the early keys to the answer: 1) TV Viewership, but that can be ambiguous and reflect multiple causes; 2) Game attendance; 3) DirecTV refunds for the NFL Football Sunday package; 4) Resale ticket prices on StubHub; and 5) Jersey and merchandise sales. The owners, successful entrepreneurs, understand. The NFL does not.
Saturday, September 16, 2017
Law school Professors Larry Alexander of San Diego and Amy Wax of Penn published an op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer on August 9, 2017. It is entitled “Paying the price for the breakdown of the country’s ‘bourgeois’ culture.” They were responding to the breakdown in American values today: the drug culture, single motherhood, the decline of adult males in the workplace, and college students lacking the basic skills needed in college. The blame it on the breakdown of America’s bourgeois culture. They wrote that the bourgeois culture of the late 1940’s into the mid-1960’s, in essence the post war America up to Vietnam, “laid out the script we are all supposed to follow: Get married before you have children and strive to stay married for their sake. Get the education you need for gainful employment, work hard, and avoid idleness. Go the extra mile for your employer or client. Be a patriot, ready to serve the country. Be neighborly, civic-minded, and charitable. Avoid coarse language in public. Be respectful of authority. Eschew substance abuse and crime ….” These are, of course, traditional American values, which are falling by the wayside in much of society today. I wouldn’t call it “bourgeois culture”, but a unique American culture. Whenever I head “bourgeois” I think of a phrase from 5-6 decades ago: “decadent bourgeois capitalism.” They wrote “Not all cultures are equal.” They are not equal to responding to the needs of being “productive in an advanced economy.” That is irrefutable. Cultures with slavery, female genital utilization, honor killings, forced marriages, rampant sexism, or cannibalism are not equal. Neither are totalitarian governments. American society of two centuries ago is not a good or equal paradigm for today, but America grew and evolved. The Ottoman Culture was not equal to Ataturk’s culture. They further wrote: “This cultural script began to break down in the late 1960’s. A combination of factors – prosperity, the Pill, the expansion of higher education, and the doubts surrounding the Vietnam War – encouraged an anti-authoritarian, adolescent, wish-fulfillment ideal – sex, drugs and rock-and-roll – that was unworthy of, and unworkable for, a mature, prosperous adult society. This era saw the beginnings of identity politics that inverted the color-blind aspirations of civil rights leaders like the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. into an obsession with race, ethnicity, gender and now sexual preference.” The “bourgeois” values were more successful in creating economic growth and the great American middle class than the current breakdown in values. I do not necessarily agree with all their points. The post-World War II period was a time of great economic growth and optimism. The United States was the only major Word War II combatant with an intact industrial base. The sky seemed the limit. Even the nascent Civil Rights Movement, beginning with the Montgomery Bus Boycott, was achieving success. A core value existed. Shared values, American values were honored and respected throughout the country. The prevailing attitude was “can do;” anything was possible and achievable. The nuclear family was the model with dad working and mom staying at home. The public schools were excellent. Civics and American History were taught in the schools to highlight the American Spirit. Taxes were low and the middle class was growing. It added up to American Exceptionalism. America knew who it was. Americans knew who they were. Americans had a common, core understanding. The culture that arose in the 13 colonies, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution was a combination of the Judeo-Christian heritage, British values, and American self-dependence. The young republic created an unique culture in world history. It set out a welcoming mat, sometimes selectively, out to the world. The Statue of Liberty became the symbol to the world. One of the greatest contributions of the Founding Fathers was creating a government based on the Rule of Law rather than the Rule of Man. President Obama led the way in ignoring the Constitution and the Rule of Law, appointing judges who do not believe in the Rule of Law or the Constitution. The American culture was not limited to whites; it was open to all. Much of the genius of America is assimilation. Each wave of immigrants added to the American Republic. The key for all was the work ethic. They assimilated into the American culture, the white bourgeois culture if you want, for that was the path to success. Generation after generation of immigrants followed that path to success in America. I see it most recently with the Hispanic, Persian and Vietnamese students in my classes. Professor Wax was interviewed in the Daily Pennsylvanian. She was quoted a saying “Everyone wants to go to countries ruled by white Europeans … because Anglo-Protestant cultural norms are superior.” She never said that, but the quote is a red flag for attacking her for “white privilege.” It’s not in the August 9 op-ed. However, it would have been a valid, but incendiary, point to the campus leftists if she had said it. Not many would have predicted during the Dark Ages that western civilization would rise. Most of the population was illiterate. Islamic scholars were the geniuses of the time. Nation states had yet to arise. Then came the Renaissance, Reformation, Enlightenment, the Age of Exploration, and the Industrial Revolution from western Europe. History tells us that it was white western Europeans that rose out of darkness. It wasn’t the Aztecs, Incas, or Mayans. Nor was it the Ottomans, Persians, Egyptians, Romanoffs, Chinese or Japanese. Much of the world remained bands or tribes while western Europe was developing into nation states. Ferdinand and Isabel United Spain and dispatched Columbus to find a route to India, but the Spanish Inquisition is not a virtue of western Europe's history and culture. By no means is White Civilization necessarily superior. Think of Hitler and Nazi Germany or Stalin and the Soviet Union. Think of the western European civilization of the Dark Ages. Professors Alexander and Wax had to foresee in a blowback in today’s charged academic environment, but they had the courage to publish it. They also have tenure, as do I. 33 of Professor Wax’s law school colleagues penned an open letter to the Penn Community. It begins “We write to condemn recent comments our colleague … has made in popular media pieces,” followed by a short paragraph of her remarks. It continues “Wax has every right to express her views publicly free from fear of legal sanctions thanks to the First Amendment, and she may do so without fear for her job due to her position as a tenured faculty member at Penn.” That is a gross misstatement from very bright law professors. She has no First Amendment Protections because the First Amendment applies only to the government – not private entities such as the University of Pennsylvania. The 33 professors wrote: “We do not question those rights, or the important role that principles of academic freedom play at our university. But Wax’s right to express her opinions does not make her statements right, nor insulate her from criticism.” They then write, without any reasons “We categorically reject Wax’s claims.” So much for civility and collegiality with this exercise of Orwellian groupthink. The double standard in the academy is clear. Seemingly the most extreme views on the left are protected. Say anything negative you want about President Trump or Republicans, and it will not only be accepted by the Academy but even rewarded on occasion. No collective group of faculty criticize these extremists. Conversely, conservative views are denounced, ridiculed, demonized, and attacked. The speakers are pilloried and sometimes physically attacked. Both Professors Alexander and Wax have been the subject of student petitions seeking their removal from required first year courses. The Penn Law Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild issued a statement: “While we do not challenge Professor Wax’s right to express her views, we question whether it is appropriate for her to continue to teach a required first-year course. The Penn Law administration has long been aware that her bigoted views inevitably seep into her words and actions in the classroom and in private conversations with students. We call on the administration to consider more deeply the toll that this takes on students, particularly students of color and members of the LGBTQIA community, and to consider whether it is in the best interests of the school and its students for Professor Wax to continue to teach a required first year course. Exposure to a diversity of viewpoints is an essential and valuable part of any educational experience, but no student should have to exposed to bigotry or abuse in the classroom.” They called the op-ed an “explicit and implicit endorsement of white supremacy.” They view Professor Wax’s comments as a “textbook example of white supremacy and cultural elitism.” I view it as a textbook example of free speech. The students fail to see the implications of their proposal, because, of course, their’s the only side. The corollary to liberals disqualifying conservative professors is for conservatives to disqualify liberal professors from required courses. Members of the Federalist Society would have a field day disqualifying liberal professors, including the vast majority of Constitutional Law professors. Abortion, Affirmative Action, Gay Rights, Gun Control, and Immigration raise strong passions on both sides, but may only have one perspective presented by the faculty. The result would be sheer chaos in law schools. Of course, any conservative so acting faces the risk of a vicious and perhaps violent attack from the left. The NLG’s co-chair in a separate email accused Professor Wax of endorsing white supremacy and segregation (which she has not done) as well as lacking academic rigor, being intellectually dishonest, and failing to support her opinions with evidence. Once again the left resorts to ad hominem attacks rather than reason! The Black Law Student Association at San Diego made a similar request to disqualify Professor Alexander. BALSA’s letter wrote “Those who romanticize an era of segregation and unequal rights are being disingenuous at best and racist at worse.” One of the problems in America today is that both sides on the left and right can become so imbued in their dogma that they don’t actually look at the opposing arguments and statements. Professors Alexander and Wax acknowledged that “there was racial discrimination, sexism, and pockets of anti-Semitism” during the period of the 1950’s and 1960’s. They added “steady improvements for women and minorities were underway even when bourgeois norms reigned.” A provocative op-ed in the past would have prompted serious discussion and thought. Today though, especially on our campuses, it becomes the spark for shrill, unreasoned attacks. Yes, the values of 5-6 decades ago are fading fast in today’s America.
Sunday, September 10, 2017
Equifax Pulls a Trifecta. Equifax announced last Thursday that it had discovered on July 29 that it had been hacked. Up to 143 million personal files may have been accessed: social security numbers, birthdates, addresses, and perhaps driver licenses. About 55% of the American adult population is now at risk. It was the third known hack of the year for Equifax. A bad day for Equifax is potentially a calamity for 143 million people. The second leg of the trifecta was Equifax’s response. Three executives, including John Gamble, the chief financial officer, sold $1.8 million in Equifax shares within four days of the breach. That’s insider trading. The trio are looking at criminal and civil penalties and disgorgement. Equifax’s claim is that they were unaware of the breach. Hence, it’s just a coincidence. That might work if the sales were pursuant to a routine, planned sale, but it’s not. Equifax did not notify the public of the July breach until July 7, almost six weeks after the breech. The company has some explaining to do. The third leg of the trifecta compounds Equifax’s public relations disaster. It offered a free one year-credit monitoring, but the fine print included a waiver of any legal claims against Equifax. The company is about to run through a gauntlet of litigation. Two class action suits were filed against it Friday, with more to follow. It will also face Congressional hearings, state attorney generals, and regulatory agencies. Legal costs and settlements will claim a big percent of its annual sales of $3.1 billion. Shareholders can forget about dividends and capital appreciation for years. Equifax should have learned a lesson from Target about the dangers of a computer breach. Target was hacked December 2013 the week before Christmas. 40 million credit and debit cards were compromised. Target incurred costs of $292 million in resolving the claims. About $90 million was covered by a cypher insurance policy, leaving Target’s cost of $202 million. Equifax has a checkered history. It was earlier known as Retail Credit Company of America. Its practices and mistakes, along with its creditors, led to Congressional enactment in 1970 of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The problem for us as consumers is that we cannot boycott Equifax. We are not its customers because we do not deal directly with it. Its customers are banks, retailers et al who seek credit reports on companies and individuals will have to shift their business to Equifax’s competitors.
Friday, September 8, 2017
Memo to Senator McConnell, Speaker Ryan and Congressional Republicans: President Trump's "Art of the Deal" is a Deal, Even with Democrats if necessary.
Donald J. Trump ran for President as a Republican. Americans elected President Trump to get thing done in Washington. He’s tried working with the Congressional Republicans. They failed him and the American people on ObamaCare. They claimed to have repeal and replace in place after seven years of running against ObamaCare. They failed. They claimed to have a tax reform bill in place for a quick introduction in Congress. We still haven’t seen it after eight months. They were dithering over raising the debt limit. They couldn’t get budget bills through. The Senate is slow-walking his appointments. Senate Majority Leader McConnell, Speaker Ryan, and other prominent Republicans join the media chorus and Democrats in trashing the President. Enough is enough! President Trump is a man of action. He is not a traditional American politician. Indeed, he was a Democrat much of his adult life. He represents traditional American values. The relationship between President Trump and the Congressional Republicans is not one of mutual loyalty and respect, but of a forced marriage in which neither party is free to leave, but both can stray. He pledged to “Drain the Swamp.” The Washington Swamp, including Republicans, has proven to be deeper with a more glutinous viscosity than expected. He sent a message to the Congressional Republicans with DACA and the debt ceiling. If they can’t get it done, then he will work with Democrats. Some Congressional Republicans are seething over the Trump “betrayal.” They have only themselves to blame. The agreement between the President and Congressional Democrats lifted the debt ceiling for three months, and provided a continuing resolution for funding the government, all of which is attached to a $15 billion relief bill for Hurricane Harvey. The Republicans need to understand that when the President deals with Senator Schumer and Representative Pelosi the Republicans are going to be very unhappy with the results. They will not get as much as they could have working with the President. Nor should they. President Trump gave Congress six months to fix DACA. The Republicans can legislate relief to the Dreamers with border security, probably not a continuous wall, or watch the President and Democrats enact DACA, perhaps amnesty, with little border security. They can work with the President on meaningful, economy boosting tax relief, or watch the Democrats muck it up with President Trump. Many of them can also watch themselves be voted out of office in 2018, either in the primaries or the general election.
Friday, September 1, 2017
“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities It is the best of times with Jim Harbaugh as head coach. It may be the worse year yet under Jim Harbaugh after two 10-3 seasons. Much is expected of Team 138. Much is fretful of Team 138. I started at Michigan in 1970. This is the first year when I am clueless about the team. We don’t know yet if Michigan has reached the ability of Nick Saban at Alabama and Urban Meyer at Ohio State to reload every year. I quickly learned in in the early years of the great Bo Schembechler that the Wolverines would lose the last game of the season – either to Ohio State or in a bowl game. But hope always sprang eternal. Then Michigan might win the last game, but would have lost a midseason game to an unranked Big ten team. It all came together in the 1997 season when the Wolverines went undefeated during the season, beat Washington State in the Rose Bowl, and claimed a share of the national title. Then back to normal. Great winning seasons, but always a setback. Michigan was 10-2-1 against Ohio State. Ohio State’s great coaches, Jim Tressel and Urban Myer, have flipped that number. Michigan has only defeated the Buckeyes once in the past 14 games. Lloyd Carr’s last season, 1997, was the turning point. The slide began with the opening game exactly 10 years ago on September 1, 1997. Michigan lost at home 34-32 to Appalachian State, and was then blown out the next week at home by Oregon. The team went on a winning streak, but lost the last two season games to Wisconsin and Ohio State. The team redeemed itself by defeating Florida and Urban Meyer 41-35 in the Citrus Bowl. Goodbye Lloyd; Hello Rich Rod, a good coach, but the wrong coach at the wrong school at the wrong time. 3-9, 5-7, 7-6. Goodbye Rich Rod. Hello Brady Hoke. 11-2 with a win over Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl. Michigan was back. Or not 8-5 7-6 5-7 Goodbye Brady, a good coach, wonderful person, but not tough enough on the players. Hello Harbaugh, the true successor to Bo and Woody. Every player has to learn his position, especially as a starter, at all times. 10-3, blowing out Florida 41-7 in the Citrus Bowl, Last year, great promise, with a 9-0 start, but then three losses in the final four games by a total of five points. The problem this year is in the dozens. 19 players from last year have signed pro contracts. Only 5 starters return, just on defense. The best defensive backfield in college last season – gone. The receiver corps – gone. The offensive line – mostly gone. Youth and inexperience can jell by the end of the season. Michigan has four difficult games on its schedule: Florida, Penn State, Wisconsin, and Ohio State. The big unknown is the first game against Florida on Saturday, September 2. If the Wolverines defeat the Gators, then they are on the road a great record. If not, it may be a long season. The problem with the Florida game is that it is the first game of the college season. This is the game players show their inexperience and lack of cohesion by making stupid plays and penalties. Michigan has inexperience. Florida has ten players on indefinite suspension, including the star receiver and starting running back. Mistakes may decide the game. Michigan’s consistent problem over the past decade is winning on the road. Penn State and Wisconsin are away games. Wisconsin is the week before Ohio State, which means, win or lose, the wolverines will be banged up when they play Ohio State. A great season will be 3-1 against Florida, Penn State, Wisconsin, and Ohio State. A really good season will be a win against The Ohio State University. They could also lose all four, making for a dreadful season. Injuries can also make a difference. Too many Michigan quarterbacks played Ohio State with limited passing ability because of injuries. For example, Michigan’s Wilton Speight suffered a shoulder injury in the Iowa game last year and lost his effectiveness over the remaining three games, including losses to Ohio State and Florida State. Injuries to quarterbacks and running backs are also caused by Michigan’s inconsistent offensive lines over the past decade. Coach Harbaugh is Old School. He loves a power running game with tight ends and fullbacks. He did it at Stanford. He’s still not there at Michigan. My prediction: 10-2 in the regular season. My optimistic fantasy: 15-0.