Trump in Arabia

Remember this picture of the Swedish PM (and others) in the UAE?

Well, compare and contrast.

See a bit of difference in the attitude that Melania’s dress, and the whole scene portrays? Look, this isn’t earthshaking, there a lot of difference between Sweden and the US, as well as between the UAE and Saudi Arabia. But it does speak to attitude. The US is obviously being respectful, but so are the Saudi’s. The reception tells you, as it should, that the Saudi government has a good deal of respect for President Trump, and also that they want something. Which they do, but then again, Arabs and Americans, and especially this President are traders, and always have been, and signals are important.

It always signifies something, when the President’s daughter, Ivanka, an Orthodox Jew, looks quite comfortable in Riyadh, as here. But then again, what are the Saudi’s really going to say about it. But later today, for the first time (officially) AF 1 will be the first flight directly from Riyadh to Tel Aviv. That too is significant.

It speaks to the growing alignment of the Saudis and this Israelis against the Iranians, and it speaks of the gradual reform that is becoming evident in Saudi Arabia, not least because of America’s growing importance in the oil market, and thus still another way that the Arabs are losing their power.

And he gave a speech, worthy of an American President, here it is.

Now mind, words are not actions, but words often define actions we will take. It strikes me as a very good start.

A Conversion Story

Sadly, not Bookworm, as far as I know.

Bookworm takes a look in the mirror:

Cultural appropriation be damned.  I am finally coming out of the closet as a trans-cultural Redneck and proud of it.  Allow me to explain.

I was raised in the belly of the beast, San Francisco, by European immigrant parents who fully embraced upper class, European culture in all of its arrogant glory.  We didn’t have the money, but I was taught to have all the right attitudes.  They were drilled into me from the cradle: imported cheese, classical music, foreign movies, and a sneering disdain for the ordinary Americans who liked working with their hands, watching fights and drinking beer.

Still, despite this pressure to be an American elite, I kept slipping up. While the family was cooing over a nice runny Brie, I was in my room, squirting quick hits of canned Velveeta in my mouth, hoping no one would catch the tell-tale orange stain around my lips. Instead of being grateful for my Mom’s carefully packed school lunches, complete with brown bread and vegetables, I was desperate to get my hands on my schoolmates’ Wonderbread™ sandwiches and Hostess Twinkie™ snack cakes.

Music was an issue too. I kept my face politely bright when I was dragged to the symphony or the opera, feigning interest in Mozart’s Requiem or Verdi’s Madama Butterfly, but my heart wasn’t in it. Even as the musicians played and the singers sang, I had a separate track in my head playing Slim Whitman, Hoyt Axton, Marty Robbins, and Johnny Cash. I wasn’t a purist, by any means, of course. There was plenty of room throughout my school years for Top 40s music, but opera made me wish I could break out in hives as an excuse to leave the room.

Things got worse when I hit my hard-Left, highly-ranked college. With every passing year, it became harder to feign respect for the professors who droned on at the front of the room, reading off of stale old notes. As they preached Marxism in the classroom, either directly or indirectly, I couldn’t get past the fact that they lived in expensive homes, complete with Hispanic maids and Japanese gardeners, dined out at fine restaurants (organic before it was in), and regularly traveled to (of course) Europe. My classmates revered them; I thought they were pompous, hypocritical windbags, and the fact that I got good grades from parroting their cant back to them only increased my disdain.

It was at college that, for the first time, I grappled with the fact that, despite my upbringing and credentials, I was living a lie. I hated to be something I wasn’t, but I didn’t yet know enough to express what I was. As far as I and everyone else knew, I was just your usual slightly weird Euro-immigrant, Jewish-Liberal Bay Area Democrat.

My years at law school in Texas were the first time in my life that I felt I fit in. Sure, I had still had whole grain brown bread cravings, but saying “y’all” just felt right. It rolled off my tongue, if you know what I mean. And being friendly to people — saying “howdy” to everyone — that felt right too. It was a world away from college’s snide cliques and studied rudeness. I loved hanging out in dives and dancing all night long to the live blues and country bands.

Still, the pull of my upbringing was strong. Instead of giving in to what felt was right for me, I forced myself to return to the rarefied world in which I grew up. It was still too painful to admit to what I really was and I knew that I wasn’t strong enough to face the backlash from family and old friends.

And so for the next two decades, I hid my true self. I listened to NPR, voted Democrat, called myself a feminist, ate at restaurants that served food with names I couldn’t pronounce, periodically went to the symphony, had my collection of gay friends (who always made nasty remarks about women), and pretended I had black friends (in fact, as a young professional in San Francisco, I only knew one black person and, while I liked her, she wasn’t really a friend….). At the same time, I became a cynical, embittered, contrarian person, always pushing back at chimeras. I knew my life was wrong, but I didn’t know what was right.

What changed all this was 9/11. In the subsequent years, I realized I wasn’t a Democrat at all. I was a conservative! Oh. My. God! That was incredibly liberating. Even more liberating was writing a blog that (a) allowed me to express my thoughts without being socially ostracized and (b) put me in contact with people who didn’t sneer at Velveeta in cans, disliked opera, wanted to shoot guns, listened to country and pop music, watched MMA fighting, and thought traveling within America on vacation was cool, not pathetic.

Keep reading, it’s good all the way through A fair amount of it parallels things in mine, although I was never politically liberal, even as a kid it didn’t make sense to me. Yep, one of the few thing dad and I argued about occasionally, he was conservative, but a New Dealer, well I understand why, but don’t condone such contradictions. Maybe that’s why I have a soft spot for Tories, and in fact, anyone who reads too much Burke, and not enough Locke.

I certainly do approve of Daisy Dukes, though! 🙂

Special Counsel

So, we have a Special Prosecutor Counsel. Isn’t that special, well we have it because there is a lot of smoke, not least to find out if there is a fire, swamp gas is burning off, too much grilling in the fog, or somebody bought some army surplus smoke generators and are manufacturing smoke. I think I may know, and so may you, but that doesn’t seem to matter. The farce must play out.

But I suspect it may not go the way the writer of the script thinks, former FBI Director Robert Mueller is fairly obviously well connected, that does not necessarily mean that he is dishonest. He’s also a former Marine Officer decorated for his service in Vietnam. One thing it will do is reduce the volume a bit, and let the Administration do a bit of administrating rather than running around like fools all day long. Well, one hopes anyway!

Best I’ve seen on it comes from Joshuapundit, here’s some…

Rosenstein may even have been told by Trump to appoint a special counsel. It puts this garbage on the back burner somewhat, and will hopefully shut it down. That’s because there’s nothing for Mueller to find on the president and no crime. But just look at Mueller’s actual brief! To supervise the investigation of:

“(i) any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and (ii) any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation; and (iii) any other matters within the scope of 28 C.F.R. §600.4(a).”

Regulation 28 C.F.R. §600.4(a) is part of the federal regulations that authorize appointing a special counsel. It expands a special counsel’s jurisdiction to all crimes, such as perjury or obstruction of justice, that interfere with his original responsibility.To wit, (ii) any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation; and (iii) any other matters within the scope of 28 C.F.R. §600.4(a).”

Think of the ground that could cover! It could definitely include investigating Seth Rich’s murder* and reopening the investigation of the Clinton Foundation that FBI Director Comey closed on Obama AG Loretta Lynch’s orders after she met will Bill Clinton on that plane. It could include compelling testimony from Loretta Lynch herself. It could expand to exploring President Obama’s surveillance of the Trump campaign by President Obama and the clear violations of FISA laws that took place. Imagine some of these juicy scandals coming to light just in time for the midterms…talk about a total reversal of fortune.

In any event, the supposed ‘Comey memo’ if it even exists amounts to hearsay evidence no judge would take seriously. And even if Trump suggested Comey ‘go easy on Flynn’ after he had been fired, that is not obstruction of justice. That crime involves actual overt actions like destroying evidence, perjury, inducing other people to commit perjury, you know, the sort of felonies the Clintons did routinely.

And recall that both ranking member Senators Feinstein (D-CA) and Richard Burr (R-NC),the chairman both said that Trump was not under investigation based on the classified briefing they were given.

Another thing to consider. Comey is a lawyer. As such, he is an officer of the court who is legally obligated to report a crime like obstruction of justice. Yet he did not…until now. That could be grounds for disbarment.

Do read it all at the link above.

Who knows, Special Counsels are official loose cannon, nobody (usually including them) know where an investigation like this is likely to go, and that’s if the Counsel (and staff) are honest. It may be the worst thing Trump could do, it may also be the best, only time will tell.

The British Report

We haven’t followed up with our British friends are doing and saying for a bit. Quite a bit, actually since they have an election coming up next month. If everybody is right, it won’t be exciting, the Conservatives (who aren’t very, in our terms) will roll.

But part of the infection they caught from Europe has to do with free speech, and the left’s (including the BBC)(BIRM) strong drive to stifle it. One of my best friends, Professor John Charmley wrote about it yesterday in Christian Today, here’s some.

An inquisitorial tone is to be expected from the presenters on Radio 4’s Today programme, but on Wednesday May 18 we had that tone of outrage reserved by the BBC for an idea which its presenters consider beyond the pale.

A Liberal Democrat spokesman was confronted with the fact that a decade ago his party leader, Tim Farron, had opposed abortion. Was this, the presenter asked, still the case and would it affect party policy? […]

Under William III, parliament passed a series of Test Acts designed to bar from public life an otherwise qualified man who was not an Anglican. For 150 years Britain was an Anglican confession state, and not until the Catholic Relief Act of 1829 were Roman Catholics permitted to vote in national elections and sit in parliament.

In their original form the Test Acts allowed any non-Anglican who felt able to turn up to take communion a couple of times a year to vote – in other words, anyone who believed what their Catholic faith taught was barred, but those with looser consciences were able to squeeze in.

We now have a modern test Act.

‘Are you now, or have you ever been, in favour of restricting abortion “rights” or have you opposed gay marriage?’ Should you fail to recant, there will be a public roasting. Anyone familiar with Twitter will see the reaction of many progressives to orthodox Christians and it is not pleasant. At the very least, the Christian politician who holds to orthodox teaching on such matters has to be prepared to declare that whatever his or her views, they will have no influence on their conduct in office. […]

Political life is already dominated by a narrow range of people, and the danger of group-think is obvious. The hounding of Tim Farron suggests there are those who wish to apply Test Act mentality to political life. We have recently heard much of the Benedict Option – it sounds as though Farron’s persecutors would like to enforce it. That should be resisted.

John Charmley is an historian and Pro-Vice Chancellor at St Mary’s University, Twickenham.

He’s very correct, and we are starting to see the same BS on our left, It should not be permitted.

On a much lighter note, is there anyone, anywhere who is not fascinated by the Tudors, especially Henry VIII and his daughter Elizabeth? If so, I haven’t met them. And so eminent British historians keep making TV shows about them, and it’s a good thing. I happened to see Suzi’s Tweet the other day, and so watched this episode. Well, it’s hard to go too far wrong when you have Suzi Lipscomb and Dan Jones for presenters, and so it proved here. If you can see it, watch it, and likely it’ll end up here eventually anyway.

gjones #ElizabethI @lilycole @channel5_tv – on now!

And still another one of my friends, Roger Pearse may have solved the mystery of the ages – who first used Abracadabra to make magic.

The first writer to use the phrase “abracadabra” as a magical incantation is, I understand, the (probably) late second century AD medical writer Q. Serenus Sammonicus.  He does so in his two-book medical handbook, the Liber medicinalis, in chapter 51, as a cure for demi-tertian fever, which is perhaps some form of malaria.[1]

Here’s the Latin for chapter 51, from the PHI site:[2]

Hemitritaeo depellendo.

Mortiferum magis est quod Graecis hemitritaeos     51.932 
uulgatur uerbis; hoc nostra dicere lingua  
non potuere ulli, puto, nec uoluere parentes.  
Inscribes chartae quod dicitur abracadabra            935 
saepius et subter repetes, sed detrahe summam  
et magis atque magis desint elementa figuris  
singula, quae semper rapies, et cetera †figes,  
donec in angustum redigatur littera conum:  
his lino nexis collum redimire memento.               940 
Nonnulli memorant adipem prodesse leonis.  
coralium uero si †cocco nectere† uelis  
nec dubites illi ueros miscere smaragdos,  
adsit baca teres niueo pretiosa colore:  
talia languentis conducent uincula collo 945 
letalesque abiget miranda potentia morbos.


 

All your news needs, met right here.

Fixing Education

We return today to one of the subjects that have continued here since we began: education. What’s wrong with it, and sometimes: how to fix it. Peter W. Wood had a very good (and quite long) article yesterday in The Federalist on this subject. I found it very good, both in identifying problems and proposing cures. See what you think.

How much would it cost to fix American higher education? Think big. In 2015, colleges and universities spent about $532 billion to teach 20.5 million students enrolled in two-year and four-year colleges.

That $532 billion figure is the lowest estimate in circulation. The National Center for Education Statistics gives the figure as $605 billion for 2013-14. But let’s stick with the humble $532 billion.

So how much would it cost to fix our $532 billion worth of colleges and universities? The answer depends, of course, on what you think is wrong with them and which of the possible repairs you favor. But let’s not get overly complicated.

Here’s What’s Wrong with Higher Education

American higher education is subject to five broad categories of complaint.

The progressive left criticizes it for reinforcing oppression based on race, class, and sex. American higher education favors the rich and abets unjust capitalism.

Pro-market and libertarian observers criticize its dependence on public funding; guild-like stifling of innovation; and hostility to capitalism. American higher education privileges itself.

Liberals, moderates, and conservatives criticize it for putting identity politics at the center of curriculum and student life. It fosters inter-group hostility, a grievance culture, psychological fragility, incivility, and contempt for free expression. American higher education is illiberal.

Those who support the classical liberal arts criticize it for trivializing higher education, turning the curriculum into a shopping cart, neglecting the formation of mind and character in favor of political advocacy, and estranging students from their civilization by elevating the false ideal of multiculturalism. American higher education is culturally corrosive.

A wide variety of people criticize its high price, frivolous expenditures, and increasingly uncertain rewards for graduates. The gigantic growth in the number of campus administrative positions relative to the faculty comes under this heading too. American higher education is too expensive.

It would be easy to add more items or expand any of these into a whole book. Many have done just that. But my goal here is to cut a path through the forest, not to linger over the variety of trees.

When I speak of fixing higher education, I discard the first category, the criticisms of the university as a font of capitalist oppression. It simply has no basis in reality. Each of the other four categories is cogent, and any real repair would have to address all of them. Moreover, they are deeply connected.

I won’t linger over their interconnections either, but it is important to keep in mind that the guild-like or oligarchic aspects of higher education undergird its illiberalism, incoherence, and excessive expense; and its culturally corrosive quality licenses its voracious appetite for public funding, suppression of intellectual freedom, and frivolity.

Four Proposed Repairs to Higher Education

Corresponding to the four legitimate categories of complaint are four broad categories of possible repair:

Fix the financial model. Reduce and restructure federal and state support for colleges and universities. Eliminate the regulations that favor the guild and prop up oligarchy. Unleash the marketplace, including for-profit, online, and other entrepreneurial alternatives to the dominant model of two and four-year colleges. Steer Americans away from the idea that a college degree is necessary for a prosperous career. Find new and better ways to credential people as competent in specific endeavors. The general-purpose undergraduate degree should face competition from alternative credentialing.

Dismantle the infrastructure of campus illiberalism. Eliminate grievance deans and programs; rescind all government programs that subsidize identity politics; insist that colleges and universities punish those who disrupt events or otherwise undermine free expression. Some call for eliminating tenure because it has become a bulwark for the faculty members most intent on redirecting higher education into political activism.

Restore a meaningful core curriculum. This repair has three varieties: create an optional core curriculum at existing colleges, leaving everything else alone; create a mandatory core curriculum for all the students at a college; create new colleges that start out with their own core curricula. Reversing the cultural corrosion of American higher education will take more than reviving core curricula, but by common consent, that is the first step.

Restructure federal student loans. This is, of course, part of fixing the financial model, but it is crucial if the goal is to reduce the ballooning costs of higher education. Colleges and universities are expensive for several reasons, including their very high labor costs and tendency to compete with one another by increasing their amenities (e.g., rock-climbing walls), but the underlying cost-driver is their ability to rely on federal student loans to subsidize their ever-expanding budgets. […]

Continue reading How To Start Fixing America’s Higher Education Crisis

I found it all very good, and some of it outstanding. Part of what I like is that he recognizes that not everybody needs a to go to a four-year college. In truth, most don’t. College (except perhaps engineering) is not supposed to be a trade school. And when you make it one you end up with BA degree holders flipping burgers, a very silly outcome, particularly since in our setup they owe impossible amounts of money.

Part of the problem that I see is that our secondary (and primary) schools are no longer fit for purpose, graduates are far too often both illiterate and innumerate, and so the private sector, pragmatic as always, simply requires a degree, thinking they will at least get a candidate that can read at some level and maybe do arithmetic. It’s not a solution really, but in reality, their problem is to do whatever they do with whatever widget they do it with and make a profit, not to fix the education system.

At some point, it may become bad enough for them to find it cheaper to fix the problem than to use avoidance strategies like degrees, but we aren’t there yet. If we get to that point – well we’ll pretty much have failed as a country so it won’t really matter all that much.

Moral Cowardice, the FBI, and Us

Bookworm had some more to say about Comey and the FBI in general.

Comey pretended that his moral cowardice was a virtue, a dangerous attitude that empowers weak people and that permeates the entire FBI.

As Comey’s firing as FBI director continues to roil the Left, all sorts of interesting things are emerging. For example, it was Comey who gave Bill Clinton a pass in 2002 following an investigation into Clinton’s Marc Rich pardon. Having been one of the Whitewater investigators, you’d think Comey would have figured out early that, where there’s a Clinton, there’s a rat to be smelled, but somehow . . . he didn’t.

Comey was also the one who authorized the FBI to spend $100,000 investigating Dinesh D’Souza’s $20,000 illegal campaign finance donation. One could say that keeping elections clean is so important that money is no object, but that’s not what the FBI and other government branches had said before they got D’Souza — a prominent Obama and Democrat Party critic — in their sights. Previously (and since then), for small dollar campaign finance violations, the government had handed out small punishments. […]

Kimberly Strassel has written a scathing article detailing Comey’s ongoing corrupt practices, made all the more damning by the fact that she pretends to take Comey at his word — namely, that he sees himself as a model of virtue and rectitude constantly saving the day:

. . . [I]t seems the head of the FBI had lost confidence—even before TarmacGate—that the Justice Department was playing it anywhere near straight in the Clinton probe. So what should an honor-bound FBI director do in such a conflicted situation? Call it out. Demand that Ms. Lynch recuse herself and insist on an appropriate process to ensure public confidence. Resign, if need be. Instead Mr. Comey waited until the situation had become a crisis, and then he ignored all protocol to make himself investigator, attorney, judge and jury.

By the end of that 15-minute July press conference, Mr. Comey had infuriated both Republicans and Democrats, who were now universally convinced he was playing politics. He’d undermined his and his agency’s integrity. No matter his motives, an honor-bound director would have acknowledged that his decision jeopardized his ability to continue effectively leading the agency. He would have chosen in the following days—or at least after the election—to step down. Mr. Comey didn’t.

Which leads us to Mr. Comey’s most recent and obvious conflict of all—likely a primary reason he was fired: the leaks investigation (or rather non-investigation). So far the only crime that has come to light from this Russia probe is the rampant and felonious leaking of classified information to the press. Mr. Trump and the GOP rightly see this as a major risk to national security. While the National Security Agency has been cooperating with the House Intelligence Committee and allowing lawmakers to review documents that might show the source of the leaks, Mr. Comey’s FBI has resolutely refused to do the same.

And where is the rest of the FBI in all of this? Some agents are taking a “brave” and “virtuous” stand too. In true FBI tradition, showing the backbone and strength for which they’re known, they’re changing their Facebook pictures to show Comey’s face, rather than their own [that’s sarcasm, in case you wondered]:

FBI agents are reportedly changing their Facebook profile photos to pictures of James Comey — or pictures of them with Comey — to show their support for the sacked FBI director.

The Daily Beast reported that at least a dozen agents had changed their photos, a gesture usually reserved for fellow agents slain in the line of duty.

According to Gateway Pundit, though, some agents are thinking of going public about their disagreements with Comey. The link in that article is to an October 17, 2016 article in which anonymous FBI agents say they’re displeased with Comey’s handling of matters.

Isn’t that special? They’ve changed their profile picture like any good twelve-year-old girl would do.

Bookworm calls it craven moral cowardice, I think that might be a bit strong, although basically right.

Here’s the thing, for the ordinary street agent (or his supervisors) it’s a tough call that I’m not all that willing to make for them. Think about it, you’re in (probably) your forties, married, mortgage (probably a big one if your at HQ) car payments, kids who you want to go to college, all the various and sundry financial commitments that American collect, plus likely student loans still, since these guys are all accountants and/or lawyers. Add to that the fact that most of your friends work for the government.

How likely would you be to jeopardize your entire life over a moral issue that requires you to defy your chain of command? We all sitting out here in the heartland say that we would in a heartbeat, but maybe we ought to think about it for a bit. Those things happen to us all, they’re the minor little things (seemingly) that lead us off the straight and narrow. There’s some in my life, and I’ll bet there’s some in yours. Some I did the right thing, and some I didn’t. Maybe you always did. Good for you, you’re a better man than I, or a man that lies to me and himself. We ain’t none of us perfect.

Remember when we were dating, we didn’t ask the girl to marry us when we picked her up at her parent’s for the first date – that comes later maybe, it’s a progression. So is this, it starts with a minor thing, covering an extra cigarette break, and then one gets one’s loyalty involved in the group.

We’ve heard a lot about Comey wanting to become another J Edgar Hoover, that’s a scary thought, right? Well, which one? When Hoover got the job back in 1927, his mandate was to clean up an agency badly corrupted by the Teapot Dome scandal, he did a ruthless and good job – to the point that still, to this day, we expect absolute honesty from an FBI agent. That’s some legacy, that is. Yes, he went mad, figurately (and maybe literally) when his love of power corrupted him, and the whole thing went off the rails. That’s why it’s a ten-year maximum term now. Live and learn.

But for Comey, maybe it started with the pass he gave in Clinton back in 2002, but maybe it was much earlier, and much less important. I don’t know, and I doubt Comey does either. But yes, Book is right, he’s a moral coward (perhaps a craven one) but you know, most of us are.

One of the reasons our founders are so revered is that they put everything, including their unstretched necks, on the line, and many of them paid that price. They were very exceptional men. Another one who did is Martin Luther.

One who almost did is Thomas Cranmer, Elizabeth I’s Archbishop of Canterbury when Mary came to the throne, he lost everything, and confessed the charge of heresy, at the stake he recanted his confession. That’s a noble act, but he no longer had anything to lose, no matter what he said or did, they were going to burn him at the stake. I’ve said it, so have you I bet. Nothing left to lose may as well do the right thing.

Well, Comey was there, trusted by nobody, he had little to lose, and he failed that test, as well.

God help him.

Book ends with this, she is completely correct.

The above is why those voters who pay taxes like President Trump. He’s not beholden to anybody and he reacts as a taxpayer would: This guy is doing a bad job, he’s abusing his power, and he shouldn’t be getting a salary. He needs to be fired.

No wonder Trump terrifies the resident rats in the D.C. Swamp.

 

%d bloggers like this: