Weekend Open Thread – What Other Folks Are Saying
[guest post by JVW]
Here are some stories that I almost blogged about this week, but in my own inimitably lazy way passed up. But this gives us an idea of what sort of things were being discussed in the mediasphere — especially the conservative mediasphere — this past week. I will endeavor to give a little taste of each item, so that you can determine if you want to investigate further.
Male, But Only When Convenient
Madeline Kearns, who has a delightfully lovely speaking and singing voice by the way, relates to us a real conundrum faced by the transgender lobby when they claim that transgender individuals ought to be treated fully as the sex with which they self-relate:
Writing for CBS News, Li Cohen tells the story of Zi Faámelu, a 31-year-old male who identifies as female. Faámelu is in a tight spot because, “If you have a male gender in your passport, they will not let you go abroad.” The Ukrainian military considers sex (not gender identity) in determining who they need to stay and fight. Faámelu considers this “a war within a war.”
Writing for Business Insider, Bethany Dawson complicates this narrative. She discusses the plight of a 19-year-old female who identifies as male (and whom she gives the pseudonym, Andriy). Like Faámelu, Andriy “read the news that all men in Ukraine ages 18 to 60 were not permitted to leave the country and obligated to serve in the military.” Like Faámelu, Andriy has no interest in military service and would rather be a refugee.
What’s That You Say About Criminal Fraud and Elections?
Matthew Mashburn at NRO points out that if the House January 6 Committee is serious that President Trump’s post-election actions constitute “common-law fraud,” then progressive darling Stacey Abrams ought to be in the prosecutorial cross-hairs as well for her behavior since her losing 2018 election campaign.
According to the committee, in Washington, D.C., and many other jurisdictions, fraud (whether common-law or statutory) occurs when a person or entity makes (1) a false representation; (2) in reference to material fact; (3) with knowledge of its falsity; (4) with the intent to deceive; and (5) action is taken in reliance upon the representation.
Abrams’s false claims check off every box.
We’ve Heard This Before, but Is Trumpism Finally Spent?
National Journal‘s Josh Kraushaar tweeted that the Trump brand might be waning among GOP voters in the Deep South:
NEW Against the Grain: “Trump Facing Prospect of Resounding Rejection in GOP Primaries”
“Trump’s candidates are struggling to capitalize on his support. If he goes 0-3 in three pivotal statewide primaries in May, it’d be clear his influence has peaked”https://t.co/uhFGu1GwG2
— Josh Kraushaar (@HotlineJosh) March 15, 2022
There’s a whole thread in there pointing out that Trump-backed candidates could lose GOP primaries in the Georgia gubernatorial, North Carolina Senate, and Alabama Senate races. It’s so bad in Alabama, that Trump might end up switching his endorsement from Mo Brooks to one of Brooks’s GOP rivals. If you are hoping for a return of Donald Trump in 2024, a poor showing by his chosen candidates in friendly states this spring would not be a good omen. If you would like to see the former President fade into the dining room at Mar-a-Lago, then this would be welcome news.
Time for Some Loyalty Oaths [Note: this item was drafted by Dana.]
We saw it with the classical music establishment, and now tennis players may be forced to denounce Putin or be banned from Wimbledon:
Daniil Medvedev could be banned from Wimbledon unless he denounces Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Nigel Huddleston, the United Kingdom’s government’s sport, tourism and heritage minister, has suggested that he will seek “assurance” from Medvedev and other Russian tennis players that they do not support their country’s regime…
The ATP and WTA tours have since banned players from Russia and Belarus, a close ally, from competing under their flags, enabling them to play only as neutral athletes…“Absolutely nobody flying the flag for Russia should be allowed or enabled,” Huddleston told a select committee meeting on Tuesday.
“We need some potential assurance that they are not supporters of Putin and we are considering what requirements we may need to try and get some assurances along those lines.”
[JVW adds] This might sound nice in practice, but it overlooks the fact that many Russian athletes and entertainers have family members in Russia who could find themselves adversely impacted by a ritual denunciation of Putin right now. Also, it opens the door to making this sort of thing de rigueur: Is it so outlandish to imagine that an American violinist might someday be required to declare her opposition to President Barron Trump in order to perform in London, Paris, or Berlin? I don’t think we want to start down that road.
More Cringe Moments from the VP
Does Vice-President Kamala Harris continue to beclown herself with her inability to convey the most basic of messages, in this case forcing the White House to scramble and edit her remarks in the official transcript? Of course:
A social media account for Vice President Kamala Harris stated Tuesday in a now-deleted tweet that the United States is supporting Ukraine “in defense of the NATO alliance,” which the Ukraine is not a part of.
“When I was in Poland, I met with U.S. and Polish service members, thanking them for standing with our NATO allies for freedom, peace, and security,” a tweet from the @KamalaHarris account stated. “The United States stands firmly with the Ukrainian people in defense of the NATO alliance.”
[. . .]
Those remarks prompted the White House to alter the transcript from the event, adding “[and]” to make it appear that she said the United States supports Ukraine and defends surrounding NATO countries.
[. . .]
Rebekah Koffler, a former DIA intelligence officer and author of “Putin’s Playbook: Russia’s Secret Plan to Defeat America,” told Fox News Digital that the tweet from Harris’ account “simply confirmed to the Russians what they suspected all along – and that is that Ukraine is de facto already halfway into NATO.”
The Biden White House does its usual gaslighting job suggesting that the initial tweet left out the “and” part of the Vice-President’s remark, but the video clearly demonstrates that the conjunction was not used in the original. Dana passes along Charlie Cooke’s epic evisceration of our empty-headed VP:
As if to put to rest forever all of those ticklish inquiries about Providence, the grave and trying moment in which we now find ourselves has brought with it a hero capable of rivaling any other. Her name is Vice President Kamala Harris, and she is to the nugatory platitude what Michelangelo was to the marble block: All challengers flee before her, all pretenders quit their thrones at the mere mention of her name. Listen carefully and one can hear the desperation as the most accomplished rattlebrains in America issue condign sighs of dismay. How talented is Harris? Talented enough to make the inanities uttered by her rival Pete Buttigieg sound substantive, concise, and apprehensible. Talented enough to make Dan Quayle seem like Pericles. Talented enough to make Marjorie Taylor Greene remind one of top-form Jane Austen. Never, in the field of human rhetoric, has an experiment in political growth been such a spectacular and unmitigated bust.
Comeuppance for an Overrated President
Revel, as I did, in Dan McLaughlin’s glorious takedown of the Presidency (and person) of Woodrow Wilson. It’s a long read because it is so detailed and thorough in McLaughlin’s debunking of any notion that Wilson was an accomplished leader or a decent human being. Here’s the taste, so that you order the entire entree:
I come now not to explain Wilson, but to hate him. A national consensus on hating Wilson is long overdue. It is the patriotic duty of every decent American. While conservatives have particular reasons to detest Wilson, and all his works, and all his empty promises, there is more than enough in his record for moderates, liberals, progressives, libertarians, and socialists to join us in this great and unifying cause.
[. . .]
Wilson was a human pile of flaming trash. He was a bad man who made the country and the world worse. His name should be an obscenity, his image an effigy. Hating him is a wholesome obligation of citizenship.
If you have seen the movie Casino, there’s a great line in the voice-over narration of mobster Nicky Santoro, played by Joe Pesci, where in talking about Las Vegas he says, “We were given paradise on earth and we f***ed it up. And that’s the last time street guys were ever given anything of value to run again.” I would hope that Woodrow Wilson would be the Nicky Santoro for progressive academic intellectuals where the Presidency is concerned.
The Neat Elite Cheat
From The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required, but I think you can sign up and get one free article) comes the story of a Columbia University mathematics professor by the name of Michael Thaddeus who believes that his employer is playing fast and loose with the venerable, sacred, and infallible U.S. News and World Report Rankings of Top Universities by sending them misleading — and in some cases outright wrong — data. Columbia tied for the number two overall ranking this year alongside of two schools situated along the Charles River in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with Princeton snagging the top spot. This represented Columbia’s highest-ever ranking in the list. Here’s a bit from the Chronicle’s article:
Among other things, Thaddeus alleges administrators submitted inaccurate data on class sizes, the percentage of full-time faculty with doctorates or other terminal degrees, and how much the university spends on instruction. For many of these data points, U.S. News relies on colleges to self-report, so inaccurate data could result in a warped placement on the ubiquitous list.
[. . .]
Some discrepancies between Thaddeus’s estimates and Columbia’s official numbers are large. For example, U.S. News reports that 83 percent of classes serving undergraduates at Columbia have fewer than 20 students. Using data from the online directory of classes, Thaddeus estimated the true proportion is between 63 percent and 67 percent. The difference adds up to thousands of classes.
[. . .]
U.S. News lists Columbia as having the ninth-highest spending per student, out of the 392 colleges it categorizes as “national universities.” Part of that high spending is that the university counts patient care under instructional costs. That is an unfair categorization of the funds and diverges from the practice of other reporting colleges, such as New York University, Thaddeus argued in his analysis.
Naturally, Columbia disputes his findings. Professor Thaddeus’s objective is two-fold: he wants Columbia to provide an honest account of campus operations, and he wants to undermine the prominence that the U.S. News and World Report list has gained over the past few decades and the power they wield in how universities operate. The professor has been at Columbia since 1998, when the school ranked ninth on the list, and he believes that Columbia and other elite schools have put too much effort into bumping up their numbers at the expense of what is best for the university community. You can read his full analysis at his own website.
A Cheerleader Saves the Day
Great moment in yesterday’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament game between Indiana University and St. Mary’s College. Unfortunately for our young heroine, her Hoosiers were on the receiving end of a 29-point shellacking.
The announcers had the play-by-play for the heroics from the cheerleaders.
"SHE'S GOT IT. OH WHAT A PLAY!"
— The Athletic CBB (@TheAthleticCBB) March 18, 2022
Biden’s Media Guard Belatedly Acknowledges the Hunter Biden Laptop Story Was Legit
The New York Times published a story yesterday which at long last acknowledged that investigators are indeed looking into Hunter Biden’s shady business dealings. In the story, the Times is forced to admit that the story about the laptop left at the Delaware repair shop seems to be true, and is not some sort of Russian disinformation plot:
People familiar with the investigation said prosecutors had examined emails between Mr. Biden, Mr. Archer and others about Burisma and other foreign business activity. Those emails were obtained by The New York Times from a cache of files that appears to have come from a laptop abandoned by Mr. Biden in a Delaware repair shop. The email and others in the cache were authenticated by people familiar with them and with the investigation.
These were, of course, the emails that the Times and other entities allied with the Biden/Harris campaign insisted were fake in the run-up to the 2020 election. The New York Post, who led the charge in promoting this story back in October 2020 and who consequently found themselves censored by the social media titans, unloaded on their rival paper in a blistering editorial yesterday. Along with mocking the Grey Lady for its feet-dragging in the laptop story, they also note that she is well behind recent developments concerning the President’s possible involvement in his son’s shady business dealings:
Authenticated!!! You don’t say. You mean, when a newspaper actually does reporting on a topic and doesn’t just try to whitewash coverage for Joe Biden, it discovers it’s actually true?
But wait, it doesn’t end there. In October 2020, the Times cast doubt that there was a meeting between Joe Biden and an official from Burisma, the Ukrainian gas company for which Hunter was a board member. “A Biden campaign spokesman said Mr. Biden’s official schedules did not show a meeting between the two men,” the Times wrote, acting as a perfect stenographer.
Yet in the latest report, published Wednesday night, the Times said the meeting likely did happen. Biden had attended the dinner in question. Funny how this works when you don’t just take someone’s word for it.
At NRO, Andrew McCarthy has a summary of what is believed to be going on in the very tight-lipped Hunter Biden grand jury investigation. Charlie Cooke reminds us that Joe Biden probably lied — knowingly so this time, not in his typical ignorant blowhard manner — about what the intelligence community believed with respect to the laptop story. And Jim Geraghty marvels at the degree to which the Democrats’ corporate and media allies sought to bury this story, and contrasts this with how a Republican candidate — any Republican candidate — would have been treated.
And Now Here’s a Downer to Kick-Off Your Weekend
Writing in The Spectator, Harry J. Kazianis cautions us that wars generally don’t wrap up neatly and the good guys don’t always win:
Wars only have happy endings in the movies.
In fact, some wars never seem to end, as the combatants are left unfulfilled — or just haven’t been weakened enough. That’s why so many historians see World Wars One and Two as really the same war, just with smaller conflicts in between that broke up the course of tragic events.
Such a reading of history is surely a sign of what is to come in Ukraine. The likely culmination of thousands of people on both sides dead and wounded, dreams crushed, hopes dashes, and lives shattered, will be an imperfect peace that both sides will surely find fault with. It may even lead to a second Russia-Ukraine war just years down the road.
The state of play on the ground suggests that not a lot will change in the next few weeks or months. Due to a series of strategic mistakes by Russian president Vladimir Putin, Moscow’s forces won’t be able to get much further than they already have. Sure, Putin could artillery strike and vacuum bomb his way to something he might try and call victory, but with each bomb he drops, more and more sanctions will be slapped on Russia and military aid will flow to Ukraine. At some point — unless he is irrational and decides to use weapons of mass destruction — he will seek something resembling peace.
Sobering, but likely true. Have a great weekend everybody; spring begins at 8:33 am Pacific Daylight Time on Sunday. Dana will be resuming her mastery of the Weekend Open Thread desk, at least until her next top-secret mission.