Patterico's Pontifications

4/1/2022

Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 3:26 pm



[guest post by Dana]

Happy Friday! Here are a few news items that might interest you. Be sure to share anything that you might think would interest readers. Also, I’m asking for book recommendations. I’ve been re-reading old stuff but would like to have some new recommendations to check out. Pre-emptive strike: There isn’t a news item on this thread regarding Putin’s war because there was an open thread on the matter put up earlier today. Thanks. Now let’s get started!

First news item

Whoa Nelly, via JVW: “the Metropolitan London Police report that their horses are having trouble crossing streets painted with brightly-colored stripes in honor of LGBTQ people. I guess sometimes there are unintended consequences to flagrant virtue signaling. A reply to their Tweet also suggests that guide dogs for blind people also struggle to navigate through those streets”:

I sat through a City Council meeting where 2.5 hours were spent discussing whether the city was going to permit a similar crosswalk to be painted with a Pride design. Everything from the size and style of lettering to the shade and tones of the paint, what the design would look like, and the liability issue (would it distract drivers and possibly cause an accident) was discussed. The only thing that I saw as a real consideration (aside from liability) was the slippery slope: Would they be opening the door to any political group or cause to be captured in a public crosswalk? Pick your poison: MAGA crossing, pro-abortion or pro-gun crossing, open borders or closed borders crossing, etc. A smart official said the city should stick with neutral and innocuous symbols that reflect our town’s unique history, thus avoiding any political/religious/divisive causes. That made sense. So naturally, we now have a Pride crosswalk. Well, sort of. The nimwits executing the project couldn’t just stick with a simple Pride flag crosswalk, they decided to get pretty artsy the design, and now it is nearly impossible to discern what exactly it is. Unintended consequences.

Second news item

More optionsmight be the remedy:

None of what’s being discussed is censorship in the remotest sense of the word, since even the “banned” books remain readily available in libraries and bookstores. (In fact, Maus, originally published in collected form in 1991, vaulted to the top of Amazon’s bestsellers lists immediately after being challenged.)

But here’s the thing: Unless we want to live in a country where every curricular decision—even ones about what’s served in the cafeteria—is subject to scorched-earth scrutiny not simply by the relevant parents and (maybe relevant) taxpayers but by every cable news host, Instagram mom, Bean Dad, elected official, and citizen at large, we need to give the people most directly affected more options so they can find a school that works for them.

The problem isn’t that To Kill a Mockingbird is being pulled from—or made mandatory in—10th-grade English, it’s that the overwhelming majority of kids (and parents) who are being told to suck it have no options. About 91 percent of K-12 students attend public schools, and while there has been a significant increase in various forms of school choice such as charters, online programs, and homeschooling, the overwhelming majority of kids still go to traditional, residential-assignment grammar and high schools.

The heart of the matter isn’t about who is making what specific decisions (however moronic you or I might think they are) but who is bound by them. Until we give parents not just more input into what their kids are learning but more actual options for where to send their kids, today’s book battles are only going to get worse. Gone for good are the days when an easy consensus on just about anything but especially education can be reached. For a lot of mostly good reasons (we’re wealthier, more educated, and more skeptical of experts and authorities), all of us feel empowered to insist on our preferences, especially when it comes to education.

Embarrassing California, but related:

Third news item

It’s funny how a large number of powerful men in government curse Cheney and her damn unyielding backbone:

Our nation needs elected leaders like Cheney who care more about fundamental governing principles that have strengthened and saved America through challenging times, such as preserving democracy, adherence to the rule of law and smooth transition of power. Cheney embodies these founding principles and shows a willingness to lose power to defend and save America — unlike some colleagues whose highest priority is keeping their seats or pursuing a more powerful title.

Fourth news item

Oh:

The State Department on Thursday announced that it will make an “X” gender marker available on U.S. passports beginning April 11, and the option to select the marker for other forms of documentation will become available next year.

On State Department public forms, the “X” gender marker will be defined as “Unspecified or another gender identity.” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement that the definition “is respectful of individuals’ privacy while advancing inclusion.”

Fifth news item

One week ago:

U.S. intelligence officials are privately bracing for a massive influx of more than 170,000 migrants at the Mexico border if COVID-era policies that allow instant expulsions during the public health emergency are ended, sources with direct knowledge of the discussions tell Axios.

The response under way includes a newly created — and previously unreported — Southwest Border Coordination Center (SBCC), essentially a war room to coordinate an interagency response….Border officials have used Title 42 more than 1 million times to rapidly expel migrants at the southern border without hearing asylum claims. But the Trump-era order wasn’t set up to be permanent, and senior Biden officials are preparing for its end as the virus is brought under control.

Department of Homeland Security intelligence estimates that perhaps 25,000 migrants already are waiting in Mexican shelters just south of the border for Title 42 to end.

Now:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will order an end to the Title 42 policy this week… A draft of the new order reviewed by the [Wall Street] Journal states that “there is no longer a serious danger” that migrants could spread Covid in border detention facilities.

The implementation of the new order will be delayed until late May, to give the administration time to prepare for a potential rise in migrants seeking to cross the southern border illegally.

Officials within the Department of Homeland Security have reportedly warned that rescinding the order could result in an influx of illegal border crossings.

Over 2 million migrants were detained at the southern border by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents in 2021, the first year of President Biden’s term in office. That was more than double the 921,812 migrants detained in a 2019 surge in illegal crossings.

Meanwhile, border agents encountered 164,973 migrants in February, up over 60 percent from February 2021.

Sixth news item

Sounds pretty typical of him:

As President Donald J. Trump’s tenure came to an end, the chief White House photographer, who had traveled the world with him and spent countless hours inside the White House snapping pictures, notified Mr. Trump’s aides that she intended to publish a book collecting some of her most memorable images.

This was hardly a radical idea: Official photographers from every White House since President Ronald Reagan’s have published their own books. Barack Obama and George W. Bush were so supportive that they wrote forewords for them.

But like so much else involving Mr. Trump, the plan by his chief photographer, Shealah Craighead, did not follow this bipartisan norm.

First, aides to Mr. Trump asked her for a cut of her book advance payment, in exchange for his writing a foreword and helping promote the book, according to former associates of Mr. Trump.

Then Mr. Trump’s team asked Ms. Craighead to hold off on her book project to allow the former president to take Ms. Craighead’s photos and those of other White House staff photographers and publish his own book, which is now selling for as much as $230 a copy.

That the profits from Ms. Craighead’s labor are now going into Mr. Trump’s pocket has left several of Mr. Trump’s former aides upset — but not exactly surprised.

I feel bad for Craighead because these photos and her role as an historic documentarian
is not just her job, but it is her art, her vision, her labor, and her labor of love. While what he has done isn’t illegal, it is certainly typical of his greed, selfishness, and money-grubbing way of life.

Seventh news item

Covid-19 today:

Fewer people are hospitalized with Covid-19 in the United States now than at any other point in the pandemic, but hospitals and staff continue to feel the strain.

As of Friday, there are 16,138 people in the hospital with Covid-19 — fewer than there have ever been since the US Department of Health and Human Services first started tracking in July 2020. Just 2% of hospital beds are currently in use for Covid-19 patients.

Previously, the lowest point was in late June 2021, just before Delta became the dominant variant in the country. Covid-19 hospitalizations reached a peak in January 2022 amid the Omicron surge, when more than 160,000 people were hospitalized with Covid-19 at one time.

While the strain on the US hospital system directly related to treating Covid-19 patients has been significantly reduced, experts say that many hospitals are still burdened by staffing shortages and other patients who are coming in sicker after postponing care during the height of the pandemic

Oh, for cripes sake, get a grip:

At CNN, Peniel E. Joseph complains about Ben Sasse’s “jaw-dropping” use of the word “winsome” to describe Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson:

“This lack of grace and empathy was evident in some of the jaw-dropping language used by members of the committee to describe Jackson — for instance, Sasse told Jackson she was “incredibly likable and winsome.” It seems impossible to imagine the Senator – or others of his colleagues, who praised Jackson’s performance in a similarly gendered terms – speaking these words to a White, male nominee. It sounded for all the world like she was being congratulated for not being an Angry Black Woman.”

As Charles C.W. Cooke wryly notes:

…in 2018, Sasse used exactly that “gendered” term to describe “White, male nominee” Brett Kavanaugh…

Per Merriam Webster:

win·​some | \ ˈwin(t)-səm \

Definition of winsome
1: generally pleasing and engaging often because of a childlike charm and innocence
a winsome smile
2: CHEERFUL, LIGHTHEARTED
Other Words from win

Have a great weekend!

–Dana

Ron DeSantis Calls Out Disney’s Hypocrisy

Filed under: General — JVW @ 10:53 am



[guest post by JVW]

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis earlier this week signed the Parental Rights in Education bill which last week passed through both houses of the Florida Legislature. The new law requires public school districts to provide curriculum information to parents when requested, and prohibits districts from implementing any policy which limits parents from being informed of what is being taught to students or encourages students to withhold information from their parents. It also requires districts to inform parents of any healthcare services offered by or recommended by the district to a student. One of the major points of contention in this bill is the prohibition on “classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in certain grade levels,” which is specified as the pre-kindergarten through third grade levels. Opponents of the bill, and the anti-DeSantis brigade in general, quickly dubbed this the “Don’t Say Gay” bill and alleged that LGBTQ students of any age would be marginalized and discriminated against by these new rules. Our corrupt and feckless media being what it is, the appellation hung on the bill by activists stuck and “Don’t Say Gay” quickly became standard nomenclature in most mainstream coverage of the bill.

Particularly grating has been the response from the Disney Corporation, which operates what they claim is the largest single-site employment operation in the United States (77,000 people at Walt Disney World). I half-jokingly pointed out that apart from pre-adolescent girls Disney probably has no market segment more loyal to it than gay men, yet even accounting for that Disney has been hypocritical, demagogic, and shrill in their condemnation of the bill. But yesterday came word that Disney might also be shading the truth about their allegedly principled opposition as well. Here is what the governor had so say about their campaign:

I also thought it was interesting — I talked to the speaker of the [Florida] house yesterday afternoon, and he said that Disney never called him as they were putting this [legislation] through the house. They didn’t seem to have a problem with it when it was going through. [If] this was such an affront, why weren’t they speaking up at the outset?

Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowles confirmed that Disney lobbyists had not once mentioned the Parental Rights in Education bill to him, and they apparently did not contact any members of the Florida House either:

What’s more, Sprowls pointed out, is that there is no record of any lobbyist working on behalf of Disney ever having lobbied any member of the Florida House on the bill.

“We checked the action packets for the House Education and Employment, and Judiciary, and Senate Appropriations Committee hearings where HB 1557 was considered,” said Sprowls. “The Walt Disney Corporation did not submit any appearance cards on the bill for any of these meetings. Furthermore, the Florida House requires lobbyists to identify which bills they are lobbying on and no Disney lobbyist registered on HB 1557.”

The registry indicates that Disney had at least 19 different representatives lobbying members of the House on a number of different pieces of legislation in 2021, including the Big Tech bill from which it was granted an exemption. There is no record that a registered lobbyist advocated against HB 1557 for the company.

It would appear that Disney did manage to rouse itself into opposition — right at the time that the coordinated “Don’t Say Gay” media campaign began to rear its ugly head — once the bill made its way to the Florida Senate, but given that Disney seemed to be responding more to an aggressive public relations campaign rather than with a genuine sense of outrage, one can be forgiven for being very cynical about the company’s true motivations.

It’s not as if Disney doesn’t have its radical woke element, even in the corporate suites. On Tuesday, a Zoom video of Disney leadership leaked in which a prominent executive argues that Disney needs to do more to promote gay characters to Disney’s youngest fans:

So with Disney both vowing to fight for the repeal of the Parental Rights in Education law and also having senior-level employees agitating to make LGBTQ issues more prominent in their entertainment options, it seems that a reckoning is now due. There have been some recent developments — the backlash against the success of transgender swimmer Lia Thomas being a prime example — which indicate that the pro-trans movement may be stalling out and perhaps even be headed for some public relations losses. In some polls, strong majorities of Americans register support for the ideas embedded within the Sunshine State’s Parental Rights in Education law, and even a majority of registered Democrats in Florida support the bill if the “Don’t Say Gay” sobriquet is eschewed, though of course modern polling is pretty wretched and of questionable reliability for a variety of reasons. It could be that Disney ends up deeply regretting going out on a limb here, but somehow I doubt that a parent-led boycott of the company will withstand the release of the next princess movie or the opening of a really cool ride in the theme park.

I want to give Ron DeSantis the last word since I always appreciate well-laid derision and because I made this very suggestion to him a couple of weeks ago. As he closed up his remarks seen in the video below (which also has his full remarks about Disney’s lobbying efforts), he went there:

Nicely done, governor. Bravo.

– JVW

Russia-Ukraine Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:41 am



[guest post by Dana]

Consider this an open thread about Putin’s war on Ukraine. The fact that Russia, with its history of false flag operations, is making the accusation and experts looking at the footage can’t positively identify whether it was a Ukrainian or Russian aircraft suggests it should be taken with a grain of salt until said confirmation can be made:

Russia said two Ukrainian military helicopters crossed the border and attacked an oil-storage facility in the city of Belgorod, causing a large fire early Friday.

Tass quoted Belgorod Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov as saying the aircraft flew in at low altitude and struck the facility owned by Rosneft, the state oil company. Four of eight fuel tanks that had caught fire were extinguished by early afternoon, Interfax reported. Two workers were reported injured and nearby residents were being evacuated. A local industrial park also reported damage, according to Tass.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said officials had reported the incident to President Vladimir Putin. Peskov declined to comment on how Russian defenses had failed to prevent the attack. He said it “isn’t what could be seen as creating conditions conducive to the continuation of talks.” Negotiators from Russia and Ukraine are scheduled to meet via video-conference Friday

A Ukraine defense ministry spokesman declined to confirm or deny the report:

“I would like to emphasize that Ukraine is performing a defensive operation against Russian aggression on the territory of Ukraine,” Oleksandr Motuzyanyk, spokesman for Ukraine’s defense ministry, said in a televised statement Friday.

“That doesn’t mean Ukraine has to be responsible for every miscalculation or event or catastrophe that occurred on the territory of the Russian Federation. This is not the first time we are witnessing such accusations. Therefore, I will neither confirm nor deny this information.”

While it’s being reported that this incident could hinder progress in trying to reach a peace deal between Russia and Ukraine, it really doesn’t sound like Zelensky is buying into what Russia is attempting to sell:

Russian negotiators announced Tuesday that Moscow’s forces would de-escalate their combat operations near Kyiv and Chernihiv to “build trust,” focusing their fight on eastern Ukraine. The announcement caused outrage among prominent hard-line state television presenters, pundits and on social media.

But Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he did not trust Russia’s announcement of a de-escalation, telling Ukrainians in one of his regular addresses Thursday: “We don’t believe anyone, not a single beautiful phrase.” U.S. officials have also been skeptical of Moscow’s announcement, seeing it as a sign that Russia is probably taking time to regroup and reorganize its attack.

And then there is this:

–Dana


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