Puppies Freezing and Abandoned in the Aftermath of the Dakota Access Pipeline Protest

by Paul Crookston

Dakota Access Pipeline protesters were finally evicted from their camp last week, but workers in the immense cleanup operation have had to help out some freezing four-legged residents that were abandoned. Volunteers with the Furry Friends Rockin’ Rescue have found eight abandoned dogs — six of which are puppies — since campers vacated the premises.

With the volume of refuse left by protesters prompting cleanup teams to use heavy machinery, the conditions in the camp challenge even these experienced animal-rescue workers. “It’s a mess down there, so it’s really, really hard to find these animals and get them,” Julie Schirado told KYFR, a station based in North Dakota.

Credit to the Furry Friends Rockin’ Rescue: They have been helping to get the dogs warm, fed, and healthy, and they are doing what they can to connect with any of the animals’ owners:

Despite how bad it has become, the good news is that the protesters have left, and now volunteers and the authorities can finally start the process of bringing normalcy back to the area. The mess they left in their wake is in keeping with the protesters’ general disregard for their impact on everything in the vicinity. Their protests impeded traffic and disrupted the Standing Rock tribe’s casino revenue, while hurting the environment with dangerous levels of trash that threaten the water as the seasonal melt arrives. And of course, when the state finally required them to leave, they burned much of the camp in protest. Leaving dogs abandoned on site to be rescued is a fitting epitaph.

Why the National Debt Is a Tiny Bit Smaller Than Before

by Jim Geraghty

Last week, Donald Trump boasted on Twitter, “the National Debt in my first month went down by $12 billion.”

The fact-checkers scolded him, declaring that “people shouldn’t read much into the numbers. Nor should Trump be popping champagne.” They’re right in the sense that no president has that much direct influence on federal spending in his first month in office, and that the shift in the numbers reflects natural month-to-month fluctuation in the amount of money coming in and the amount going out – but they didn’t get into much into why those numbers are fluctuating.

The day President Trump took office, January 20, the national debt was $19,947,304,555,212.49 – what we usually would write as $19.9 trillion.

The last day the debt was totaled by the Treasury Department on Friday, February 23, it was $19,913,901,120,188.15. No need to break out the calculators – that’s $33,403,435,024.34 less than on Inauguration Day, or what we would usually refer to as $33 billion.

So the debt is $33 billion lower than on Inauguration Day! Hurrah! Of course, that could end up being a short-lived reduction.

The amount of money coming into the government and the amount going out can vary by a surprising amount, day by day, month-by-month and year-by-year. For example, in February 2016, the federal government collected only $169 billion. But by April, as taxpayers’ checks to the IRS came in, it increased to $438 billion. The U.S. government collects individual income taxes, Social Security and other payroll taxes, corporate taxes, and a slew of other duties, fees and other taxes. They spend it each month on Social Security, Medicare, defense, interest payments on the debt, and “other,” which covers everything else.

Dan Mitchell, a libertarian economist and senior fellow at the Cato Institute quoted in the PolitiFact report, noted that “revenues tend to be more volatile. If you track down historical data, you’ll see expenditures jump around a bit when something big happens — faux stimulus, wars, etcetera.”

He added a point that that didn’t make it into the PolitiFact story: “I suppose there may be some legitimacy to the argument that the stock market has jumped since Trump’s election and this may be producing some higher-than-expected spin-off revenues, presumably from capital gains.” In other words, tax revenues from the booming stock market might be shrinking the debt a bit… a tiny, tiny, tiny bit in relation to the total level.

In the coming weeks, a slew of Baby Boomers may start collecting Social Security, or fewer elderly social spending recipients may die off, or another payment on an aircraft carrier may come due, or the government could have some other big expenditure that boosts the daily outlays. In other words, U.S. government revenue could decline and expenditures may increase. But considering how rarely we see the federal debt numbers decline, it’s hard to begrudge the administration celebrating some unexpectedly good numbers, even if it is short-lived and basically a rounding error on the total level of government debt. 

New DNC Chairman Tom Perez Is No ‘Moderate’ At All

by Jim Geraghty

From the first Morning Jolt of the week…

New DNC Chairman Tom Perez Is No ‘Moderate’ At All

One of the amazing things about the now-completed Democratic National Committee chairman’s race was how former Labor Secretary Tom Perez became perceived as the “moderate” or “centrist” choice. This occurred in part because he was aligned with Hillary Clinton during the 2016 Democratic primary, and partially because his biggest rival was Rep. Keith Ellison, former member of the Nation of Islam, the congressman who meets with radical terror-sponsoring Saudi clerics, the one with the anti-gay imam, the one who used to “go on all the time about ‘Jewish slave traders.’”

“Less radical than Keith Ellison” is an awfully low bar to clear. Relax, fans of the Nation of Islam, Perez says he wants to make Ellison “the face of the Democratic Party,” and I am sure many Republicans are ready and willing to help him out in that task.

But consider the possibility that Perez is no less radical than Ellison, and merely focuses his energies in a different area. Last year, when there was some buzz about Perez being Hillary Clinton’s running mate, I took a long look at the Labor Secretary’s relatively unexamined career:

Perez’s liberal credentials are as impeccable as they come. Mother Jones called him “one of the administration’s most stalwart progressives.” Conservative policy experts who have followed his work in the Justice and Labor Departments consider him perhaps the Obama administration’s most radical and relentless ideologue.

Iain Murray, the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s vice president of strategy, calls Perez “possibly the most dangerous person in the administration right now.”

“His rewriting of U.S. labor law is probably the most fundamental attack on the free-enterprise system going on at present,” Murray says. “If he has his way, we won’t just revert to the 1930s. We’ll do things that even Franklin Roosevelt couldn’t do, like eliminate vast numbers of independent-contractor jobs and unionize those that remain.”

Murray sees Perez’s ideological vision as driven by an arrogant insistence that most workers are oblivious to their own exploitation by employers, and need the state to intervene to help them understand proper “work-life balance” or to make basic choices about work. His work in the Justice Department was just as extreme.

“He essentially operationalized Eric Holder’s radicalization of the Department of Justice,” says Ilya Shapiro, a senior fellow in Constitutional Studies at the Cato Institute. “No civil-rights theory too crazy to pursue, no litigants too awkward to pay off.”

“Perez has shown a glaring inability to tell the truth and dispassionately apply the basic constitutional tenet of ‘equal justice under law,’” declared Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. Long before Obama stepped into the Oval Office, Perez stood out as a Democratic lawmaker willing to ignore or contravene laws that impeded his agenda. As a member and then chairman of the Montgomery County Council, Perez promoted driver’s licenses and in-state tuition eligibility for Maryland illegal immigrants. 

In 2006, Perez ran for state attorney general and pushed for one of his favorite ideas at the county level, a program to have state residents import low-cost prescription drugs from Canada. But the federal Food and Drug Administration said the program would be illegal, and county attorneys concurred in a formal review, adding, “one need not be a lawyer nor clairvoyant to see the potential for civil liability.” Perez responded that, “Sometimes you have to push the envelope in pursuit of the right thing.”

Throughout his career, Perez has touted “disparate-impact theory” in discrimination law, which contends that discrimination exists in just about any circumstance where statistical data point to a racial disparity, regardless of whether discriminatory intent can be proven. He was willing to go to unprecedented lengths to protect this touchstone of his legal thinking.

Back in 2014, Perez was asked about inequality in America and in particular, whether the Department of Labor was doing enough to ensure interns weren’t being exploited as free labor by unscrupulous employers.

Perez responded:

I was in the U.K. and Germany and went to Volkswagen and learned about their apprenticeship model—young people become paid apprentices in trades. It’s not a coincidence that youth unemployment is far lower in Germany than the United States because there are paid opportunities for young people to get experience. So, yes we need to and do investigate [internship violations], but I think the broader solution will help more people faster to transform the culture of America around this earn-while-you-learn idea.

If he believes in the “earn while you learn” idea, does this mean the interns at the Democratic National Committee will be paid? Right now they aren’t, even if they’re working 40 hours a week in the summer.

Justice Taylor

by Jay Nordlinger

Stuart Taylor is possibly the outstanding legal journalist of our time. And he is my guest on Q&A. That podcast is here.

With KC Johnson, he is the author of The Campus Rape Frenzy: The Attack on Due Process at America’s Universities. Before, they wrote a book about the infamous Duke lacrosse case.

There are more pleasant topics, to be sure. But this is a vitally important one. Taylor and I talk about it, of course. But we also talk about other topics, including the most recent Supreme Court nominees: Merrick Garland and Neil Gorsuch. One didn’t make it; one will.

As I say at the end of this podcast, Stuart Taylor is sort of a supreme court himself. He tackles the hardest, thorniest cases — and he does so with absolute scrupulousness. He is a journalist of integrity, one who reports without fear or favor, letting the chips fall where they may.

Ethically speaking, I am against cloning, but sometimes I waver.

Peter Singer Can’t Hear the “Music of Humanity”

by Wesley J. Smith

Response To...

Peter Singer Thinks Intellectually Disabled ...

I have had a bit of reaction to the post I wrote the other day, quoting Peter Singer as admitting he wouldn’t raise a child with Down, and justifying the killing of the developmentally and cognitively disabled because, in his view, their lower mental capacities renders them of less moral worth than pigs.

One correspondent, the parent of a child with Down syndrome, wrote me such an evocative note that so beautifully stands against such thinking, I thought it worth sharing with The Corner readers (made public with permission):

I have a daughter with Down’s syndrome. Two other families in my neighborhood do, too.

Just as there are people who lack the capacity to appreciate any music (Milton Friedman, for instance, was one of them), there are people with the far more serious lack of capacity to appreciate the worth of other human beings.

The music of humanity that most of us hear is just noise to them. So it is with Singer… 

I love the term, “the music of humanity.”

Indeed, Peter Singer’s invidiously discriminatory views against the most vulnerable among us are worse than tone deaf. They are bigoted.

Prebutting the New York Times on Immigration

by Ramesh Ponnuru

The New York Times editorializes today against cracking down on illegal immigration:

Now let’s examine the cost to the economy.

If you do back-of-the-envelope calculations, you’re gonna need a big envelope. The American Action Forum last year estimated that expelling all unauthorized immigrants, and keeping them out, would cost $400 billion to $600 billion, and reduce the gross domestic product by $1 trillion.

I just happen to have written a post a few days ago about why this is a foolish way of thinking about the economics of immigration. What the number mostly tells us is the completely uninteresting fact that if you assume illegal immigrants leave the U.S., they will do their producing and consuming elsewhere. George Borjas has calculated that more than 97 percent of illegal immigrants’ additions to GDP accrue to the illegal immigrants themselves.

The Times editorialist comes closer to quantifying the economic benefit that illegal immigrants provide to the rest of the population in the next sentence:

Mr. Trump describes immigrants as rapist-murderer-terrorists, but what they really are is a pillar of the American economy, producing a net benefit of about $50 billion since 1990. 

This link takes you to an article where you learn that Borjas is the source of this estimate of the annual “surplus” that native-born Americans, in aggregate, derive from illegal immigrants. But Borjas knows that our economy is roughly $19 trillion. Here’s how Borjas himself put it in Senate testimony last year:

Finally, the economic gains from immigration accruing to natives are relatively small—less than three-tenths of one percent of GDP, or roughly around $50 billion annually. 

Some pillar.

Remembering Trump’s Anti-Elitist Brand

by Peter Augustine Lawler

So a fair number of people are asking me how I stand on President Trump.

Well, he’s our president. And our country will benefit if he succeeds.

Before the election, I flatter myself that I was on the cutting edge of those who urged Republicans to learn from the insurgency of Trump and Sanders.

The lesson: Both parties were the hollow project of complacent elitists. And so they were both ripe for takeover. Sanders, of course, fell short, but only because he couldn’t figure how to make headway among African-American and Latino voters in time. Trump won the Republican nomination very easily, even though the donor class of his party wanted anyone but him. One thing we learned from both Donald and Bernie: Political success is much less dependent on big money than we supposed. The Koch brothers, for example, had budgeted about a billion dollars to spend on the election, and ended up with no one to spend it on. And they remain, last time I looked, a huge but seemingly rather impotent center of resistance to the agenda of our president.

I was, to say the least, not alone in thinking Trump couldn’t win in November. Not only was his personal fitness a huge question, how could his amateurish and somewhat impoverished campaign prevail against every respectable elite in the country? Another thing we learned: It turns out the system wasn’t rigged. Sure, some think it was rigged by the Russians. But that’s not really true either.

Now, I didn’t vote for Trump, and I’m still spooked by much of his administration on the fronts of both competence and ideology. On the competence level, I certainly appreciate the willingness of Generals McMaster and Mattis to serve, and I hope they can win the confidence of our commander-in-chief. There’s a lot to worry about if those relationships don’t develop. Still, we can also see that “America first” begins as a national-security message. Trump is right to emphasize the need for our country to achieve energy self-sufficiency, to restore morale to our armed forces, and to arm up by technologically upgrading weapons systems and cybersecurity to make our nation less vulnerable. As Walter Russell Mead points out, those can hardly be construed as policies favorable to Russia or China — our leading rival nations.

On the ideological front, I would urge Republicans to remember that Trump was an opponent of the elitists of both parties — as well as of the bipartisan interlocking directorate of elites in undisclosed locations symbolized by Wall Street and Silicon Valley.

It’s easy to see the hostility between Trumpism and the Democrats’ “politically correct” and progressive experts.

But there’s also the hostility between Trumpism and the Republicans’ oligarchic libertarians.

Thinking along those lines even allows us to remember that just as Sanders ran to the left of Clinton and her identity politics, Trump ran to the left of the Republicans who think of American citizens as nothing but productive individuals.

So it would be, to say the least, inauthentic for Trump to suddenly become just another conventional Republican all about nothing but getting rid of Obamacare, cutting taxes, deregulating everything, and trimming entitlements. This “liberty agenda,” after all, has served some Americans much better than others. Let me remind Republicans:

First, the inconvenient truth is that Obamacare is more popular than ever. And what working-class Trump voters heard their candidate saying was: I’m going to replace Obamacare with a better deal. That is, precisely, “repeal and replace,” but replace with something that helps out the ordinary guy at least as well.

Second, Trump did tout his pro-growth tax policy, but in this way: The growth will be so huge that it will be easy to pay for the entitlements on which Americans depend. That, of course, probably won’t happen. But he has to try. Meanwhile, the entitlements — Medicare, Social Security, and so forth — stay in place for now in hope.

Third, we hear from Mr. Bannon that Trump is out to deconstruct the “administrative state.” It’s hard to know what that means. It might mean, in part, take out all those “crony capitalist” monopolistic regulations that keep the ordinary guy from accessing the marketplace and the professions. Well, it should. It might also mean returning political decisions to civic deliberation and not administrative fiat. Again, it should. But Trump has no mandate to deconstruct the welfare state.

Well, let me say one more ambiguously leftist thing: Trump has no mandate to go to war against unions as such. He was elected, in large part, because he convinced union families — with the help of Bernie, of course — that he is more about having their backs than was the Goldman Sachs toady Clinton.

The theme of Trump’s campaign was “civic equality” as opposed to elitist manipulation. I don’t deny for a moment that this theme was deformed by xenophobic tribalism and racist nativism. But surely we can all agree that what G. K. Chesterton called “the romance of the citizen” is a key antidote to the inevitable vast disparities of wealth and status.

Get In

by John J. Miller

The top-grossing movie this weekend will be a satire of liberal racism: Get Out is a suspense-horror movie whose villains include a wealthy white man who boasts of his admiration for Barack Obama. It would be a mistake to label the movie conservative, but conservatives will smile at certain aspects of it. Here’s what writer/director/producer Jordan Peele said about his intentions, according to Deadline Hollywood:

“It was very important for me for this movie not to be about the Black guy going to the South and going to a red state where the presumption for a lot of people is that everyone is a racist there,” added Peele, “This was really meant to take a stab at the liberal elite that tends to believe that we’re above these things.”

Also, whatever audiences make of its politics, Get Out is a pretty good movie. If you enjoy the genre, you’ll enjoy this creative entry.

The Monica Monicker

by Fred Schwarz

Today’s New York Times Book Review contains a letter from Daniel Okrent, who was the Times’ inaugural “public editor” a decade or so ago, complaining that President Clinton’s notorious dalliance with his intern should not be called “the Lewinsky scandal.” Okrent quotes Miss Lewinsky’s mother: “She was a college-age intern. He was the most powerful man in the world. Why is the scandal named after her?”

That’s fine, except (1) scandals are not always, or even usually, called by the name of the chief villain. They are just as often named after victims (the Dreyfus affair), companies (Crédit Mobilier), code names (Fast and Furious), beneficiaries (Iran-Contra), or even buildings (Watergate). And, more to the point, (2) if you ever did make reference to “the Clinton scandal,” the inevitable response would be: “Which one?”

Enlightenment Fail : A Dane is Charged with Blasphemy

by Andrew Stuttaford

The New York Times (my emphasis added):

A 42-year-old man who burned a Quran and posted a video of it on Facebook has been charged with blasphemy in Denmark, a striking decision by prosecutors in a country that is largely secular but has grappled with the role of Islam in public life…

The decision to charge the Quran burner was made by a regional prosecutor in Viborg, on the Jutland peninsula, and had to be approved by the country’s attorney general.

The blasphemy law has been invoked only a handful of times since its creation in 1866, most recently in 1971, when two people broadcast a song mocking Christianity and stirred a debate over female sexuality. They were acquitted. No one has been convicted of the crime since 1946, when a man dressed himself up as a priest and mock-baptized a doll at a masquerade ball.

In the current case, the suspect, who was not identified by the authorities but called himself John Salvesen on Facebook, uploaded video footage of a Quran being burned in his backyard. In the 4-minute, 15-second clip, the clicking sounds of a lighter are heard before flames engulf the large leather-bound book.

The video was posted on Dec. 27, 2015, to a Facebook group called “Yes to Freedom — No to Islam.” Above the video, shared 415 times, were the words: “Consider your neighbor, it stinks when it burns.” One commenter wrote: “If I had the Quran I’d also burn it, that’s the only thing it’s good for. Gives a bit of heat.”

The man’s Facebook page was full of messages critical of Islam, refugees and women. In one post, he even wrote, “I hate children.”

Not the most likable of individuals, it seems, but that, in this context, is neither here nor there.  A decade or so ago, shortly after the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published the Mohammed cartoons, I wrote an article examining the reaction elsewhere in Europe to Denmark’s defense of free speech:

Denmark, and its tradition of free speech, has been left to twist in the wind, trashed, abused, and betrayed. An article published in Jyllands-Posten (yes, them again) on Friday revealed clear frustration over the way that the country is being treated. It’s in Danish only, but one phrase (“Ytringsfrihed er ytringsfrihed er ytringsfrihed. Der er intet men.”) stands out, and it deserves to be translated and repeated again, and again, and again: “Free speech is free speech is free speech. There is no but.”

That was then.

After the Charlie-Hebdo massacre all but one of Denmark’s major newspapers published some of the French magazine’s edgier cartoons. The one that did not was Jyllands-Posten, citing security concerns, a decision, the newspaper explained, showed that “violence works”.

Back to The New York Times (again, my emphasis added): 

Jacob Mchangama, director of Justitia, a Danish civil liberties group, called the decision to file charges the latest sign of a declining respect for free speech in Europe. “It’s a sad development but one that mirrors developments elsewhere,” he said.

Mr. Mchangama said he thought the prosecutor was motivated by a desire to fend off the threat of terrorist attacks. “Danish authorities are afraid that the Quran burning could spark a new crisis, and if they say that they’ve actually charged this person, this is a way to appease or at least avoid such a crisis,” he said.

Violence works.

The Times writes brightly that ‘only’ five EU countries have blasphemy laws on the books (not nothing, I reckon, in a union of 28), but fails to note how European authorities in a number of other member-states have sometimes used ‘hate crimes’ legislation as a de facto blasphemy law. Lest we forget: Free speech is not a #EuropeanValue .

Oh yes, according to the Koran-burner’s defence lawyer, in 1997 a Danish artist burned a copy of the Bible on a news show by a state broadcaster. There was no prosecution.

And there wouldn’t be now I reckon, which is how it should be. But the fact that there wouldn’t is simultaneously a double standard, patronizing (Muslim sensitivities apparently need special protection) and, yet again, a recognition that violence works.

So, usually, does intimidation by the state. According to the Times, “a trial has been scheduled for June. If convicted, the defendant faces up to four months in prison or a fine.”  But a conviction and any penalty are not really the point. The process itself, with its expense, anxiety and more, is both punishment and a message that the authorities want to send out to any Dane thinking of expressing the wrong sort of thoughts about Islam in the wrong way. 

Meanwhile, Trine Bramsen, a member of Parliament and a spokeswoman of the Social Democrats (the leading party of Denmark’s center-left) has, the Times reports, defended the blasphemy law:

“I struggle to see how that we’ll achieve a stronger society, or how we’ll enrich the public debate, if the burning of holy books was permitted”.

So what? Burning the Koran may add nothing (or less than nothing) to the debate, but the idea that controversial expressions of opinion can only be permitted if they are in the interests of a “stronger society” (whatever that is) or “enrich the public debate” (whoever decides that) is entirely at odds with the idea of truly free speech.

And so, needless to say, are blasphemy laws. 

The Nationalism That Dare Not Speak Its Name

by Rich Lowry

Our friend and colleague Mona Charen has written a column on the nationalism/patriotism debate. First, I appreciate her kind words about me and Ramesh, and the regard is very mutual. But I obviously don’t agree with her critique. Ramesh and I wrote a piece arguing that there are good and bad forms of nationalism. So it’s not enough to point out the nationalists who have done terrible things. We don’t like Nasser, Putin or Mussolini, either. To rebut our argument, it’s necessary to show that nationalism is inherently problematic in pretty much all its expressions. 

To wit: It was unfortunate that the Chosen People of the Old Testament provided an example for all sorts of people to imagine their country was the new chosen people (this is not just a characteristic of America). It was regrettable that Polish nationalists schemed and dreamed of how to recover their country from dismemberment by Hohenzollern, Habsburg and Romanov dynasties in 1795. It was disturbing how the British deployed nationalism to bolster their resistance to Napoleon and his dream of building a multi-national empire. It was too bad that Rembrandt played into a national myth by painting Civilis, the leader of the Batavian uprising. It was great tragedy that a nationalist movement, i.e., Zionism, restored the Jewish people to their homeland  in a nation-state that has defied the “international community” for decades. And so on.

Indeed, it is quite notable that our anti-nationalist critics never express the least chagrin over the creation of the community of nations that is nationalism’s epochal achievement. They don’t rue the passing of (most) multi-national empires. They don’t have a kind word for the E.U., for the U.N., for the International Criminal Court, for any of the trans-national efforts to harness nation-states that are presumed to be inherently aggressive and dangerous by their cosmopolitan critics.

This debate has only confirmed me in my conviction that all conservatives are nationalists to some extent or other, even if some are uncomfortable with the word when they shouldn’t be. 

New Democratic Party Chair Thomas Perez Was Cited By Congress For Official Misdonduct

by Dan McLaughlin

After a length and contentious campaign, the Democratic Party has chosen Thomas Perez, who served as Labor Secretary and Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights under President Obama, as its new chairman over Congressman Keith Ellison. Perez was seen as the more establishment choice, given his ties to Obama and Hillary Clinton and Ellison’s incendiary history. He is, however, every bit as much a hard-left progressive. Moreover, it is worth recalling that in 2013, when he was under consideration for the Labor job, Perez was cited by an unusual joint Congressional report for manipulating the legal system and misleading Congress in sworn testimony.

The controversy arose from Perez’s efforts in 2011-12 to prevent the Court from hearing a case challenging “disparate impact” theories of liability under the Fair Housing Act. Perez was apparently concerned that this expansive theory would not survive the Court’s scrutiny, and undertook an unconventional series of steps to prevent the case from reaching the Court. As the joint report by the Senate and House Judiciary Committees and the House Oversight Committee found:

  • The Department of Justice entered into a quid pro quo arrangement with the City of St. Paul, Minnesota, in which the Department agreed to drop two cases — United States ex rel. Newell v. City of St. Paul and United States ex rel. Ellis v. City of St. Paul et al. — in exchange for the City withdrawing Magner v. Gallagher from the Supreme Court.
  • In declining to intervene in a whistleblower complaint as part of the quid pro quo with the City of St. Paul, the Department of Justice gave up the opportunity to recover as much as $200 million.
  • The initial development of the quid pro quo by senior political appointees, and the subsequent 180 degree change of position, confused and frustrated the career Department of Justice attorneys responsible for enforcing the False Claims Act, who described the situation as “weirdness,” “ridiculous,” and a case of “cover your head ping pong.”
  • The “consensus” of the federal government to switch its recommendation and decline intervention in Newell was the direct result of Assistant Attorney General Perez manipulating the process and advising and overseeing the communications between the City of St. Paul, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Civil Division within the Department of Justice.
  • Assistant Attorney General Perez attempted to cover up the quid pro quo when he personally instructed career attorneys to omit a discussion of Magner in the declination memos that outlined the reasons for the Department’s decision to decline intervention in Newell and Ellis, and focus instead only “on the merits.”
  • Assistant Attorney General Perez attempted to cover up the quid pro quo when he insisted that the final deal with the City settling two cases worth potentially millions of dollars to the Treasury not be reduced to writing, instead insisting that your “word was your bond.”
  • Assistant Attorney General Perez made multiple statements to the Committees that contradicted testimony from other witnesses and documentary evidence. 
  • The ethics and professional responsibility opinions obtained by Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez and his staff were narrowly focused on his personal and financial interests in a deal and his authority to speak on behalf of the Civil Division, and thus do not address the quid pro quo itself or Perez’s particular actions in effectuating the quid pro quo.
  • The Justice Department marginalized a whistleblower and reduced him to a “bargaining chip” in his own words to advance their agenda.

Darrell Issa issued a scathing statement at the time:

“After a year of investigation by three congressional committees, we have found that Mr. Perez inappropriately used a whistleblower as bargaining chip and passed on an opportunity to collect $200 million for taxpayers,” said Issa. “This occurred as part of a deal he arranged to ensure an ideological pet policy of the Obama Administration would avoid Supreme Court scrutiny.  In addition, Perez took steps attempting to cover-up his involvement in the quid pro quo and offered numerous misleading statements to investigators that are contradicted by the evidence.  Mr. Perez’s conduct has stained the integrity of the Justice Department and created serious doubt about its commitment to protecting the legal rights of whistleblowers who come forward with legitimate information about abuses of taxpayer funds.”

As Chuck Grassley noted in an uncharacteristically blistering speech opposing Perez’s nomination, after laying out the evidence of Perez’s conduct leading up to the quid pro quo deal with St. Paul: 

 Mr. Perez offered to provide the other side with information that would help them defeat Mr. Newell in this case on behalf of the United States. In my opinion, this is simply stunning.  Mr. Perez represents the United States.  Any lawyer would say it is highly inappropriate to offer to help the other side defeat their own client. 

As it turned out, Perez faced no consequences for any of this, and disparate impact was ultimately upheld 5-4 in 2015, thanks to Justice Kennedy, over a blistering dissent by Justice Thomas that traced the origins of the doctrine all the way through Perez as being rife with misleading conduct by the government and its lawyers.

Meet the new boss, Democrats. Same as the old boss.

Peter Singer Thinks Intellectually Disabled Less Valuable than Pigs

by Wesley J. Smith

In his apologetics for infanticide, Princeton bioethicist Peter Singer has used a baby with Down syndrome as an example of a killable infant based on utilitarian measurements. (He actually supports infanticide because babies–whether disabled or not–are, in his view, not “persons.”)

To Singer, moral value primary comes from intellectual capacities, and that means that developmentally and cognitively disabled human beings (also, the unborn and infants) have less value than other human beings, and indeed, a lower worth than some animals.

Were society to ever adopt Singer’s bigoted anti-human exceptionalism views, it would mark the end of universal human rights, opening the door to tyrannical pogroms against the most weak and vulnerable–you know, the kind of people that the Singers of the world deem resource wasters.

It would also break the spine of unconditional love, as our children would have to earn their place by possessing requisite capacities.

Take the recent statements by Singer, published in the Journal of Practical Ethics in which he explains why he would adopt a child with Down syndrome out (my emphasis). He then expresses a profound bigotry against people with cognitive and developmental disabilities (my emphasis).

For me, the knowledge that my [hypothetical Down] child would not be likely to develop into a person whom I could treat as an equal, in every sense of the word, who would never be able to have children of his or her own, who I could not expect to grow up to be a fully independent adult, and with whom I could expect to have conversations about only a limited range of topics would greatly reduce my joy in raising my child and watching him or her develop.

“Disability” is a very broad term, and I would not say that, in general, “a life with disability” is of less value than one without disability. Much will depend on the nature of the disability.

But let’s turn the question around, and ask why someone would deny that the life of a profoundly intellectually disabled human being is of less value than the life of a normal human being. Most people think that the life of a dog or a pig is of less value than the life of a normal human being.

On what basis, then, could they hold that the life of a profoundly intellectually disabled human being with intellectual capacities inferior to those of a dog or a pig is of equal value to the life of a normal human being? This sounds like speciesism to me, and as I said earlier, I have yet to see a plausible defence of speciesism. After looking for more than forty years, I doubt that there is one

Invidious discrimination exists when equals–e.g., all human beings–are denigrated as unequal based on some category that the bigot believes reduces the status of the discriminated against human, e.g. racism, sexism, and Singer-style discrimination against people with cognitive or developmental disabilities. 

But human beings and animals do not inhabit the same moral realm. It is not wrong or discrimination to view and treat us differently than we do them.

Moreover, the very concept of “speciesism”–used liberally in animal rights activism and bioethics–is inherently and invidiously anti-human because it reduces us to so many carbon molecules with no inherent value beyond our cognitive capabilities at the moment of measurement. To repeat myself, speciesism philosophy, like utilitarianism, makes universal human rights impossible to sustain intellectually.

Assuming such utilitarian values would destroy the principles of Western Civilization.

And never mind the real capacities of many people with Down, which Singer mischaracterizes, or their extraordinary loving natures–which I have yet to see Singer opine much about. To Singer, intellect trumps all.

That’s bigotry any way you look at it, no different than racism, except that his victims are less able to defend themselves.

I have always found it odd that Singer faces little of the opprobrium society metes out to other bigots. Indeed, he was brought to Princeton from Australia and given one of the world’s most prestigious chairs in bioethics–despite not having an academic Ph.D.–precisely because of these attitudes. 

Despite supporting the propriety of killing babies, I have no doubt that Singer will continue to be the New York Times’ favorite philosopher.

HT: Bioedge

History: “Said To” Have Happened

by Andrew Stuttaford

I haven’t seen Bitter Harvest, the new film made about the Holodomor, the man-made famine that transformed Ukraine from bread basket to mass grave, so I have absolutely no view on its artistic merit. It may be terrible (the reviews I have read have not been kind) but this from Michael O’Sullivan’s review in the Washington Post, well…

The Holodomor — an early 1930s famine in which millions of people in Ukraine, then part of the Soviet Union, are said to have died when their foodstuffs were confiscated by the central Soviet government under Joseph Stalin.

Are said to have died?

We  will never know precisely how many died. In Khrushchev Remembers, the former Soviet leader explained why:

I can’t give an exact figure because no one was keeping count. All we knew was that people were dying in enormous numbers. 

There is, however, no doubt at all that the death toll ran into the millions, perhaps 3-4 million, although there are (far) higher estimates out there.

And then:

Whether the Holodomor resulted from a policy of systemic genocide, as is the official position of Ukraine and many other governments, or was a terrible situation that nevertheless fails to meet the definition of deliberate mass murder, as others have characterized it, is a matter for U.N. diplomats and historians to argue about.

Well, Raphael Lemkin was someone who thought that it was genocide. Raphael Lemkin? Oh, he’s just the man who devised the word ‘genocide’, and whose ideas were hugely influential in the post-war treaty-making that established how that crime came to be defined.

In an unpublished work, he described the Holodomor as “perhaps the classic example of Soviet genocide”, a genocide that  he saw as multi-pronged—intellectual, cultural and, of course, physical, with the latter itself falling, Lemkin argued, into three categories:

The first blow is aimed at the intelligentsia, the national brain, so as to paralyze the rest of the body.”

Going along with this attack on the intelligentsia was an offensive against the churches, priests and hierarchy, the “soul” of Ukraine. Between 1926 and 1932, the Ukrainian Orthodox Autocephalous Church, its Metropolitan (Lypkivsky) and 10,000 clergy were liquidated.

The third prong of the Soviet plan was aimed at the farmers, the large mass of independent peasants who are the repository of the tradition, folklore and music, the national language and literature, the national spirit, of Ukraine. The weapon used against this body is perhaps the most terrible of all – starvation.

It is true that Soviet agricultural ‘reform’ (collectivization) also took a hideous toll outside Ukraine and that there were famines elsewhere, famines that were, to Moscow, an acceptable price to be paid for what the Communist Party saw as progress. But at the same time, the Stalinist regime had already launched a broad attack on Ukrainian nationalism (real, potential and imagined). It then deliberately took the murderous opportunity presented by collectivization to break a very large community—the peasant-farmers—who were key not only to Ukraine’s sense of a separate identity, but of its ability to sustain that identity. 

Lemkin:

The crop that year was ample to feed the people and livestock of Ukraine, though it had fallen off somewhat from the previous year, a decrease probably due in large measure to the struggle over collectivization. But a famine was necessary for the Soviet[s] and so they got one to order, by plan, through an unusually high grain allotment to the state as taxes. To add to this, thousands of acres of wheat were never harvested, were left to rot in the fields. The rest was sent to government granaries to be stored there until the authorities had decided how to allocate it. Much of this crop, so vital to the lives of the Ukrainian people, ended up as exports for the creation of credits abroad.”

Back to the Washington Post’s review:

Stalin (Gary Oliver) is depicted as a villain straight out of a black-and-white serial from 100 years ago, with his evil henchman, the commissar Sergei (Tamer Hassan), portrayed as a brutish caricature of heartlessness. When the commissar and his Bolshevik enforcers descend upon a Ukrainian farming village, for instance, trampling on horseback over an innocent woman making her way with a loaf of bread, the camera cuts to an unsubtle and overly symbolic shot: the broken and blood-spattered loaf, lying by the side of the road.

Stalin was clever, complicated and, when necessary, subtle: The most effective devils often are. Before weighing Oliver’s performance, I’ll (obviously) have to see the film to judge just how crude a caricature it is. I wonder, however, if an overly melodramatic depiction of a villainous Hitler, particularly in a movie describing the horrors of the Third Reich to an audience in which many were unfamiliar with the historical background (the fact that the Holodomor is likely to come as news to many is a topic in its own right) would have received quite the same criticism. As for the “brutish” and the heartless”, well, many of those who pushed through and enforced this genocide were indeed that. 

It comes with the territory when eradicating, yes, millions 

The Editors: CPAC

by NR Staff

Check out the latest episode of The Editors, on which Rich Lowry, Reihan Salam, Ian Tuttle, and David French discuss CPAC, Milo Yiannopoulos’s latest flap, General McMaster’s new role as National Security Advisor, and more! 

Krauthammer’s Take: Trump’s Hostility Works on the Base, but Press Can’t Allow Itself to Be Bullied

by NR Staff

With Trump showing more hostility to the media, Charles Krauthammer discussed the value of that political strategy while affirming that the press should not kowtow to any bullying:

It works on the base. He will get the cheers and the applause all the time. I don’t think it works anywhere else. I think people are rightly somewhat concerned. They may not be alarmed — what happened today was symbolic and minor as a real thing, but nonetheless, the symbolism is alarming. The president uses a phrase from Lenin: enemies of the people. If you were an enemy of the people in Lenin’s day, you were dead. These are serious historical terms that shouldn’t ever be used, and you are sending a message that you are hostile to certain media outlets.

As you say, on the same day, you explicitly, unsubtly exclude them from a gaggle. In the scheme of things, that doesn’t matter, but I am glad to see that Fox joined with all of the others — we being a favored outlet for Trump — remembering that when Obama excluded Fox from access way back when, everyone rallied around us and said, if you don’t include them, we’re not going to be there. It is the only way to do it. The press can’t allow itself to be bullied. And I’m glad it’s not.

Trump at CPAC

by Rich Lowry

Not surprisingly, he owned the place. It’s an amazing turnaround from when he was a sideshow or a controversial presence. It was a characteristic Trump performance–bizarrely mesmerizing, amusingly candid (I’m thinking of the beginning when he said he realized that politics was for him when he first spoke at CPAC and got a big reaction without preparing), at times indefensible, roguishly funny, over the top, overwhelmingly concerned with his signature themes and issues, and quite effective. 

He didn’t have to trim or tailor his message to suit CPAC conservatism, because at the moment Trumpism is CPAC conservatism.

I’m not as bothered by his nationalism as some of my colleagues (conservative crowds chanted “USA” prior to the rise of Donald Trump). And it remains to be seen how distinct Trump’s program will end up being.

Already his infrastructure program, which might have been a major declaration of ideological independence at the outset of his administration, has been put off to the second year when often things don’t happen at all. Trade policy will be telling and at this juncture it’s impossible to know how aggressive the administration will be. It could be that we will initiate a trade war that upsets the international trading order as we know it. It could be, on the other hand, that the most important policy departure ends up being a Paul Ryan-crafted border adjustment tax (although its chances of passage in the Senate may be dicey even if Trump gets behind it). 

The rest of the agenda in Congress is Obamacare repeal, tax reform, and de-regulation, or what you would expect from any GOP president. Trump certainly sounds different than any other Republican, but we won’t know for a while whether this ends up being a gloss on a relatively conventional GOP program or heralds the radical departure it is sometimes advertised as.

How Sliding into Leftism Hurt a Small, Religious College

by George Leef

Elizabethtown College was founded in 1899 by a German religious sect, the Anabaptists. It survived quite nicely until leftist politics began to take over in the 1990s. When a hard-nosed president retired in 1996, the floodgates were opened wide and the college has since been overrun by Social Justice Warriors. Most recently, students were proudly wearing white puzzle pieces to announce their hated of “white priviege” and all the oppression it brings to people of color.

Professor Paul Gottfried taught at Elizabethtown for more than 30 years and in this Martin Center article, he laments the way the school (located in Lancaster County, Pa.) has fallen under the spell of progressive politics. He writes about the school following the retirement of that hard-nosed president:

During the next two administrations, the troublemakers got the “hope of change” they thought they wanted. It came in the form of lavishly salaried administrators (certainly by comparison to those who preceded them), rapidly escalating tuition, and a shifting emphasis at the college from a strict Pietist environment to the PC fad du jour, lately “white privilege.” I’ve never seen an institution change so fundamentally within just a few years.

Elizabethtown College has strayed far from its beginnings and is moving further away every year. While it still has some solid liberal-arts education to offer, the P.C. forces are steadily replacing education with indoctrination.

Costs has gone up dramatically (in part to pay for more administrators who fill essentially useless jobs) while educational quality has fallen. Summing up, Gottfried writes, “In a nutshell, the college has become too expensive for what it offers its average student; an erosion of the customer base has started. Since 2009, the student body has declined from 1,866 to 1,707 and the school is encountering increasing difficulty meeting its annual goal of 450 entering freshmen. This year it trimmed $3 million from its budget. Justified fear has set in among the faculty that further savings will be extracted from their salaries and benefits. It’s hard to imagine why one would go to Elizabethtown to partake of a uniqueness that no longer exists.”

American students and their parents are starting to realize that high-priced college degrees that don’t deliver palpable value in terms of knowledge and skill just aren’t worth it. Merely having a degree in something from somewhere is becoming increasingly pointless. For that reason, many small colleges like Elizabethtown are facing serious trouble.

When It Comes to Press Access, Trump Needs To Be Better than Obama, Not Worse

by David French

Today administration officials reportedly barred a number of news outlets from joining an informal press briefing. The AP has the details:

News organizations including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, CNN and Politico were blocked from joining an informal, on the record White House press briefing on Friday.

The Associated Press chose not to participate in the gaggle following the move by White House press secretary Sean Spicer.

“The AP believes the public should have as much access to the president as possible,” Lauren Easton, the AP’s director of media relations, said in a statement.

Several news organizations were allowed in, including the conservative website Breitbart News. The site’s former executive chairman, Steve Bannon, is chief strategist to President Donald Trump.

For its part, the Trump administration is denying any ill intent, claiming instead that it had just invited a few additional reporters to join the pool:

I have a few thoughts. First, if the AP report is accurate, then the administration’s move was just silly and wrong. Full stop. The only reason to exclude a news organization from a press briefing should be space available, with space allocated on a viewpoint-neutral basis. Punishing the press by excluding the press (if that’s what happened here) is no way to run a press office.

Second, the White House should know that it’s move is completely unsustainable. Every news organization with any integrity will rightly boycott briefings if the White House excludes disfavored outlets. This is yet another one of the informal but effective checks on White House power. While a portion of Trump’s base may hate the media so much that they’re fine if Sean Spicer ends up only briefing Gateway Pundit, most of the rest of America finds press exclusion ridiculous. 

Third, yes I know that the Obama administration’s hands weren’t clean on this point. Indeed, I’d forgotten how unclean they were. This 2009 New York Times report on the conflict between the Obama administration and Fox was a nice walk down memory lane:

Late last month, the senior White House adviser David Axelrod and Roger Ailes, chairman and chief executive of Fox News, met in an empty Palm steakhouse before it opened for the day, neutral ground secured for a secret tête-à-tête.

Mr. Ailes, who had reached out to Mr. Axelrod to address rising tensions between the network and the White House, told him that Fox’s reporters were fair, if tough, and should be considered separate from the Fox commentators who were skewering President Obama nightly, according to people briefed on the meeting. Mr. Axelrod said it was the view of the White House that Fox News had blurred the line between news and anti-Obama advocacy.

Why was the administration angry? Fox had been on the offensive. Other networks had confessed they had not been fast enough in covering stories Fox was covering, including Van Jones’s controversial comments and affiliations:

At the same time, Fox News had continued a stream of reports rankling White House officials and liberal groups that monitor its programming for bias.

Those reports included a critical segment on the schools safety official Kevin Jennings, with the on-screen headline “School Czar’s Past May Be Too Radical”; urgent news coverage of a video showing schoolchildren “singing the praises, quite literally, of the president,” which the Fox News contributor Tucker Carlson later called “pure Khmer Rouge stuff”; and the daily anti-Obama salvos from Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity.

There followed, beginning in earnest more than two weeks ago, an intensified volley of White House comments describing Fox as “not a news network.”

“Not a news network” sounds a bit like “fake news,” does it not? The president himself waded into the fray:

Speaking privately at the White House on Monday with a group of mostly liberal columnists and commentators, including Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann of MSNBC and Maureen Dowd, Frank Rich and Bob Herbert of The New York Times, Mr. Obama himself gave vent to sentiments about the network, according to people briefed on the conversation.

Then, in an interview with NBC News on Wednesday, the president went public. “What our advisers have simply said is that we are going to take media as it comes,” he said. “And if media is operating, basically, as a talk radio format, then that’s one thing. And if it’s operating as a news outlet, then that’s another.”

The Treasury Department reportedly tried to exclude Fox from a “round of interviews” with executive-pay czar Kenneth Feinberg, and — just like today — Fox’s competitors rebelled. Bret Baier hadn’t forgotten the incident and tweeted this:

I share these details not to justify Trump administration actions but to note that we’re not exactly in uncharted territory. Administrations are tempted to take action against “unfriendly” news organizations, and it’s incumbent on news outlets to follow Benjamin Franklin’s admonition (given in far more consequential times), “We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we will all hang separately.”

It’s one thing to bash the press. It’s another thing entirely to take steps to deny access to disfavored outlets. When it comes to access, Trump needs to be better than Obama, not worse. 

Trump Hails His Election as a Victory for Conservatism at CPAC

by NR Staff

Basking in his victory in front of an enthusiastic CPAC crowd, President Donald Trump today called his election to the presidency a “win for conservative values” and promised to put American citizens first. On the whole, the president stuck to his campaign themes — even where they conflicted with what used to be the norm in the Republican party — and he spoke in the loose style that listeners have come to expect at this rallies.

Trump opened with an attack on the media, and he affirmed his right to criticize them even as they exercise their own right in covering him:

They say that we can’t criticize their dishonest coverage because of the First Amendment. They always bring up the First Amendment. I love the First Amendment. Nobody loves it better than me. Nobody — who uses it more than I do? But the First Amendment gives all of us — it gives it to me it gives it to you, it gives it to all Americans — the right to speak our minds freely. It gives you the right and me the right to criticize fake news and criticize it strongly.

He also let it be known that he thought his victory benefitted the conservative movement:

Our victory was a win like nobody has ever seen before. And I’m here fighting for you, and I will continue to fight for you. The victory and the win was something that really was dedicated to a country and people that believe in freedom, security and the rule of law. Our victory was a victory and a win for conservative values. And our victory was a win for everyone who believes it’s time to stand up for America, to stand up for the American worker, and to stand up for the American flag.

Later, Trump spoke about trade, and let the crowd know that he has no plans to go back to traditionally conservative free-trade views:

I’ve also followed through on my campaign promise and withdrawn America from the Trans-Pacific Partnership so that we can protect our economic freedom. And we’re going to make trade deals, but we’re going to do one-on-one — one-on-one — and if they misbehave, we terminate the deal, and then they come back and we’ll make a better deal. None of these big quagmire deals that are disaster.

Just take a look at NAFTA, one of the worst deals ever made by any country having to do with economic development. It’s economic undevelopment as far as our country is concerned.

Perhaps most interesting given the current debates in Congress, he reaffirmed major promises on taxes, jobs, and the economy:

Another major promise is tax reform. We are going to massively lower taxes on the middle class, reduce taxes on American business, and make our tax code more simple and much more fair for everyone, including the people and the business. In anticipation of these and other changes, jobs are already starting to pour back into our country. You see that.

In fact, I think I did more than any other president. They say president-elect. President-elect is meeting with Ford, he’s meeting with Chrysler, he’s meeting with General Motors. I just wanted to save a little time because Ford and Fiat Chrysler, General Motors, Sprint, Intel, and so many others are now because of the election result making major investments in the United States, expanding production and hiring more workers. And they’re going back to Michigan and they’re going back to Ohio and they’re going back to Pennsylvania and they’re going back to North Carolina and to Florida.

It’s time for all Americans to get off of welfare and get back to work. You’re going to love it.

In the end, the president didn’t just criticize his opponents and past U.S. policy, he also voiced optimism about America, saying near the end of the speech:

There is no dream too large, no task too great. We are Americans, and the future belongs to us — the future belongs to all of you. And America is coming about, it’s, and it’s coming back and it’s roaring and you can hear it. It’s going to be bigger and better.