Author: Mitchell Blatt (Page 1 of 28)

The myth of trigger warning culture?

As a consumer of mass media, it is easy to get the idea that universities are epicenters of political correctness full of ultra-sensitive students who can’t handle discussions of history or race relations. As a student, you run into “trigger warnings” and “safe spaces” much less frequently than you do in the media.

A discussion between British social psychologist Jonathan Haidt over his book The Coddling of the American Mind caused American professors across the country to weigh in, with many stating that they had rarely–if ever–encountered demands for trigger warnings.

To which Don Moynihan, a professor at Georgetown’s McCourt School of Public Policy and previously at the University of Wisconsin, said:

Some professors did, however, mention some of their students being “triggered.”

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Stop pretending collusion couldn’t have happened

The latest revelations about Roger Stone’s communications with Jerome Corsi create a direct line between Russian intel operations and Donald Trump.

We have known that Russia helped Trump’s effort for the presidency. We have known that members of the administration, George Papadopoulos and Donald Trump Jr. were the first to be exposed in the press. Now we know that Trump’s campaign strategists were successful in their attempts to reach out to Russian intel operations.

Stone officially joined the Trump campaign early on. He continued to stay in close contact with Trump and do ratfucking campaign activities for Trump throughout the campaign. He has admitted, for example, to talking with Trump by phone on August 3, 2016, one day after he received an email from Corsi about the upcoming Wikileaks operation.

Multiple Trump campaign officials may have been pursuing multiple lines of cooperation with the Russian government and pro-Russian entities. There is Stone. There is Carter Page, who was already under investigation by the FBI (FISA orders included) before he joined the Trump campaign, meeting in Russia. There’s Paul Manafort, offering to give private briefings on the Trump campaign to Russian oligarchs. There’s Jared Kuschner and Michael Flynn trying to set up a backchannel with the Russians. There’s Peter W. Smith, a Republican operate, who claimed to be working on behalf of Trump, trying to get hooked up with hackers on the dark web to find Clinton emails. There’s Erik Prince, brother of Education Secretary Betsy Devos, meeting with Russian investors in Seychelles before Trump’s inauguration. Sources claim that meeting was linked to Trump advisors’ attempts to covertly communicate with the Russians.

Trump is not throwing most of those advisors under the bus, not even the ones who have already been convicted. Even as Manafort claimed he was cooperating with Mueller, Trump was still in contact with Manafort and making “joint defense” agreements with others facing charges.

If Corsi and Manafort were committing their crimes on their own, without Trump’s knowledge and support, it seems awfully weird that Trump would be so concerned about defending them. Awfully weird that Trump would write a statement defending Trump Jr. over the Russia meeting he supposedly didn’t know about and then lie about having written the statement.

At this point, we can say not only could collusion have happened in some form, it probably did.

Blatt: Election night analysis

Two years after Donald Trump surprised the world and won the United States presidential election, Trump and the Republicans lost control of Congress. Trump’s radical positions and vitriolic rhetoric turned suburbanites in highly-educated districts against the Republican Party.

The results of the election show that it is hard for Republicans to simultaneously appeal to the anti-immigrant, anti-politics base that got Trump elected while also maintaining the support of traditional upper-class economically fiscal conservatives. The electorates in places like Virginia’s 10th district in the suburbs of Washington, DC, Florida’s 27th, outside of Miami, Pennsylvania’s 18th in the outskirts of Pittsburgh, and Kansas’s 3rd, outside of Kansas City, are too sophisticated to fall for Trump’s fear-mongering.

In the final days of the election, Trump dialed up the hate and smears. He grabbed onto the news about a “caravan” of migrants marching from Honduras to the U.S.-Mexican border, seeking asylum, and lied that it was full of terrorists and criminals. He released an ad that was deemed so racist that the news networks CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News refused to air it—not even for money.

Slate’s Jim Newell pointed out that Trump’s final campaign push might have energized his base in already conservative states. If that is the case, then it could have been one factor in helping the Republicans maintain control of the Senate, where they needed to win whole states.

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Conservative bloggers really hate California

Reliably, on many conservative blogs, you can find articles about how much California sucks.

The state with the 8th highest GDP per capita, which is the 25th best state for business and 31st best state to live in just really sucks. And, of course that is because it has Democratic politicians in office!

There’s about 13,000 articles about California at HotAir.com, but what’s funny about this one is that their narrative of GOP dominance in neighboring states just got crushed this week:

And where do these departing economic refugees go? To Arizona and Nevada, lower-tax places that have had — oh, look — Republican governments. And also Texas, another place stuck with GOP officeholders. California has exported more than 400,000 folks there this century.

“[Democrat] Sinema widens lead over McSally in Arizona Senate race”
“Democrats pick up Senate seat in Nevada with Rosen win”
“Longtime Texas Rep. [Republican] Pete Sessions loses to ex-NFL player”
“How the race between Ted Cruz and Beto O’Rourke became the closest in Texas in 40 years”

Liz Mair has more to say at The Daily Beast: “Don’t Look Now, but the Mountain West Is Turning Blue”

And I will add that HotAir conspicuously left Colorado off its list of states that Californians are “fleeing” to; it is really one of the biggest sources and much higher on the quality of life lists than Arizona, Nevada or California.

Dear Republicans: Trump hates you

Why do Republicans continue to stand for Trump attacking them, disrespecting them, disgracing their party and helping them lose elections?

Just one day after Americans rebuked Trump, handing a House majority to the Democratic Party at a time when the unemployment rate is below 4 percent, Trump celebrated the defeat of Republicans on his enemies list.

“Mia Love gave me no love. And she lost. Too bad. Sorry about that, Mia.”

You had some that decided to, ‘Let’s stay away. Let’s stay away.’ They did very poorly. I’m not sure that I should be happy or sad, but I feel just fine about it. But Mia Love gave me no love. And she lost. Too bad. Sorry about that, Mia. I think she could have won that race, but she didn’t want to have any embrace. Peter Roskam didn’t want the embrace. Erik Paulsen didn’t want the embrace.

These Republicans lost their seats because they were too close to Trump; they were in the same party as him! Trump is a cancer to the educated, affluent, cultured suburban districts they represent.

Barbara Comstock represented Virginia’s 10th district, outside of Washington, DC, the district with the second-highest median income in the country. Hillary Clinton won Comstock’s district by 10 points.

Trump actually did decide to embrace Erik Paulsen, who represented suburbs of Minneapolis. As Politico reported,

He tried repeatedly to distance himself from Trump—whose approval rating in the 3rd District tumbled into the 30s this fall—but it was little use: Phillips branded him as a rubber-stamp for the White House, while the president himself was so irritated by Paulsen’s lack of loyalty that he insisted on sending not one but two tweets endorsing him.

So the guy Trump endorsed lost. And Trump seemingly sent endorsements his way just to make his reelection harder for him. Trump is such an egomaniac that he would rather hand over control of the mechanisms of House investigations of the president to Democrats than to see a Republican who doesn’t kiss his ass at every turn win election.

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Trump’s Demagoguery actualized

Donald Trump talked a lot about his contempt for the free press and how he would like to deny broadcast licenses, “open up” libel laws and raise taxes on his enemies, like Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

Republicans unenthusiastic about having to defend Trump but nonetheless still in favor of Trump-Republican policies often responded by shrugging their shoulders and saying that Trump’s frequent blowups are just words and that he can’t actually implement them. It would be unconstitutional, for example, to levy taxes on one particular individual just because you don’t like the newspaper he is involved in owning.

It is also unconstitutional for a president to appoint an Attorney General, a cabinet-level position, without Senate confirmation. But that’s just what Trump did on Wednesday when, the day after the election, he fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions and “appointed” Matthew G. Whitaker, a partisan Republican who opposes the Mueller investigation, without Senate approval.

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Korean court ruling on compensation for forced labour to hurt relations with Japan

The Japan-Korea relationship, already strained by the ‘comfort women’ controversy, faces new challenges after a Korean court ruled in favor of workers coerced to work for Nippon Steel during Japan’s 35-year occupation of Korea.

Japan resists further demands for compensation or new apologies related to its colonialism and war in Asia. It views the 1965 Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea as having settled all controversies. But controversies continue to spring back up time and time again.

In 2015, Japan arrived at agreement with Korea on a plan to compensate Korea and its few remaining ‘comfort women’ with 1 billion yen (US$8 million) in exchange for “permanently” settling the issue. But after the Korean government refused to remove statues of ‘comfort women’ set up outside the Japanese diplomatic offices in Seoul and Busan, Japan threatened to withhold the money.

Korea’s new president Moon Jae-in threatened to try to renegotiate the ‘comfort women’ agreement, as he (and a majority of Koreans) opposed it. He felt it did not account for the wishes of the living former sex slaves and that Japan hadn’t apologizes forcefully enough. Japan, for its part, feels that Korea is always moving the goalposts.

Earlier in October, Japan did not participate in an international naval review held in Korea after Korea demanded that Japan’s navy remove its ‘Rising Sun’ flag. Japan had participated in fleet reviews before with that flag–the same flag it flew during World War II–but Korea apparently raised the issue strenuously this time because anti-Japan sentiment has been running high in recent years.

The ruling by Korea’s Supreme Court came 13 years after the case was first filed in Korean courts. The claimants, who were forced to work in the Japanese steel industry and had compensation withheld, originally filed in Japan, but their case was dismissed by Japanese courts in 1997 on the grounds that the 1965 treaty addressed compensation.

The treaty’s terms on individual compensation were limited, causing it to be unpopular in Korea, but it did call for Japan to provide $800 million to Korea in economic development. Japan provided that much and much more in additional investment and aid. Japan’s aid and investment was important, but not sufficient, for Korea’s development during the 1960’s and 70’s. (Ironically, many Koreans even resent Japan for sometimes trying to take too much credit for Korea’s development.)

Brett Kavanaugh and burdens of proof

Brett Kavanaugh is credibly accused of attempting to rape a girl while at a party in high school. It does not need to be said that we don’t know for sure if he did it–that much is obvious. Probably only a few people will ever know for sure.

But the many people attempting to defend Kavanaugh and cast doubt on the accusations have no basis on which to say the accuser is “lying.” They similarly do not know.

Kavanaugh is facing confirmation to the highest court in the land. He is facing a job interview. He is not facing a trial. If he loses, he returns to his lifetime job as a judge at the level of the U.S. district court. He will not be deprived of his life or liberty.

The National Review‘s David French, however, stated on Twitter, “We cannot and must not abandon the notion that an accuser bears the burden of proof. It’s not enough to raise suspicion. If you make a claim, you have to support it at the very least with your sworn testimony.”

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100% of headlines on People’s Daily about Xi Jinping

From September 3-4, Beijing has hosted the 2018 China-Africa Forum. Headlines from the summit continue to dominate the news in China.

On the front page of the People’s Daily from September 5 to 7, 100 percent of the headlines were about Xi Jinping.

Typical were headlines like this from September 6:

Xi Jinping meets Nigeria president Buhari
Xi Jinping meets Madagascar president Hery
Xi Jinping meets Chad president Déby

The entire front page of the paper on September 6 used the same structure for each of the ten headlines in the main section.

Since Xi Jinping took power, he has been glorified more than any Chinese leader since Mao Zedong. A Reddit user with 36,000 “karma points” who frequently presents charts has used data from people.com.cn to show that Xi is mentioned on the front page of the People’s Daily more than any leader since Mao.

And since Xi became president for life at the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, he has been mentioned almost every day.

Chinese citizens are being arrested for vandalizing propaganda of Xi.

Now the question might be not how many days is Xi featured on the front page, but how many times in one day.

Sources for charts:
Xi Jinping is being mentioned almost every single day on People’s Daily front-page headlines, something only Mao had done during the cultural revolution. (1949-2018)
Is Xi Jinping mentioned in a headline of the People’s Daily front page today? (2007-2018)

Sen. Van Hollan and Merkley protest Kavanaugh nomination

WASHINGTON, DC, SEPT. 6, 2018: Democratic Senators Jeff Merkley (Ore.) and Chris Van Hollan (Md.) broadcast from outside the Supreme Court on the afternoon of Thursday, September 6 to oppose the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

Both senators pointed to Kavanaugh’s conservative beliefs and jurisprudence, the effect his rulings could have on abortion rights and universal access to healthcare (and Obamacare), and his expansive views on presidential power.

Van Hollan said, “When it comes to his views on executive power, he’s an extremist. … That’s why Trump picked him.”

Kavanaugh has expressed deference to presidential power in the past. In a 2009 article in the Minnesota Law Review, he wrote, “We should not burden a sitting President with civil suits, criminal investigations, or criminal prosecutions.” In 1999, Kavanaugh expressed skepticism of the historic ruling in US v Nixon, which forced Nixon to produce his White House tapes. Would Justice Kavanaugh vote to force Trump to respond to a subpoena by Mueller? That’s their concern.

Merkley and Van Hollen also referenced emails leaked to the New York Times showing Kavanaugh was skeptical of whether Roe v Wade should be treated as established law. Not only does that put abortion rights at risk, they said, the lack of transparency and vetting in the confirmation process, in which documents have been reviewed by a Republican lawyer before being released, is worrying.

Kavanaugh has not answered questions about his particular views on abortion or executive power, refusing to take a position on what he calls “hypotheticals.”

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