Below is my column in USA Today on the passing of Associate Justice John Paul Stevens. I have another column appearing today in the Sunday Washington Post’s Outlook Section. I remain surprised by the comparatively light coverage of the passage of this great man who gave so much to the country. I disagreed with Stevens on various cases, but I always held him in the highest regard as a person and as a jurist.
The one major issue upon which President Donald Trump and the Democrats agree (and are working diligently toward) is unlimited spending. Both parties have torn balance budget limit to shreds as they throw hundreds of billions of dollars around like soundbites. As a result, the respected Congressional Budget Office (CDO) is now projected that debt could reach 92 percent of the GDP within ten years. In other words, an economic meltdown caused by politicians who act like children in spending without any notion of how we will actually pay for these programs.
We have previously discussed the unprecedented damages awarded against Oberlin College for defaming a small grocery store after the arrest of three African American students for shoplifting. Recently President Carmen Twillie Ambar refused to apologize to the grocery store and the school assured alumni that it would have no difficulty in paying the reduced $25 million. In other words, the President and school simply shrugged and offered neither apologies or reform, including retaining one of the key officials who facilitated the protests and targeting of the store. Now the direct costs are $31.5 million with an award of attorneys fees and that is not counting the huge costs spent on the defense. The records show that Oberlin’s counsel billed twice as many hours as the victorious team for Gibson’s Bakery.
Good luck trying to find a manhole in Berkeley. Such terms are now expressly banned in all municipal codes as “male-centric.” People are now expected to refer to “maintenance holes.” Of course, you also cannot ask for more “manpower” to work in the “maintenance holes.” Instead you are to refer to “human effort” rather than “manpower.”
We previously discussed various cases where academics involved in allegations of sexual misconduct have moved abroad to teach at foreign schools. That has triggered a “MeToo” protests at these schools. One of those cases involved a former GW colleague, Ezra Wasserman Mitchell, who changed his name from Larry Mitchell before leaving for China to join the faculty of the ShanghaiUniversity of Finance and Economics. Students reportedly called for an investigation. Now one of those activists in China who opposed Mitchell’s appointment is claiming that Mitchell was fired after the investigation, but the posted comments only indicate that Mitchell’s contract was not renewed. The website however still shows Mitchell as a faculty member. While I have not been able to confirm Mitchell’s departure, it does appear that the controversy is still raging in China since our previous discussion. However, we are no closer in resolving how such cases should be handled.
In one of the most disturbing moments of his presidency, Donald Trump stood before a huge crowd in Greenville, N.C. as his supporters chanted “send her back” in reference to Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN). I have previously discussed Trump’s disgraceful comments regarding Omar and three other freshman members of Congress. While many of us condemned those statements, Trump’s popularity has actually risen with Republicans in the aftermath. Even Trump’s past association with Jeffrey Epstein have not had an impact. NBC just released the video below showing Trump partying with Epstein. Update: Trump says that he didn’t not agree with the chant.
Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has risen to prominence for promising to tell truth to power. However, this week she showed that she could spin and shill with the best of them. Previously Ocasio-Cortez accused Speaker Nancy Pelosi of singling out four women of color. That would seem by definition a charge of racism. Now however she insists that Pelosi did single out women of color but was not a racist. At the same time, the “squad” is warning Pelosi not to do it again.
There is a disturbing case out of Virginia Beach where city employee Elizabeth Mann, 48, was fired and then arrested for telling Wendy Swallow, a supervisor, that she is the type of boss who pushes people to violence. She was referencing the recent shooting spree of DeWayne Craddock, 40, an engineer with the city’s Public Utilities division, that killed 12 people and wounded several others. It was a uniquely stupid thing to say but Mann’s arrest raises serious constitutional concerns.
Various news organizations are reporting that the man who threw “incendiary devices” at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington was an Antifa member and appears to have been featured on CNN’s “United Shades of America” with W. Kamau Bell as “one of the good guys.” Police shot and killed Willem Van Spronsen at the scene. However, there has been little coverage of his background or the CNN feature. That is curious given the steady coverage of how right-wing groups are being pushing to violence by the Trump Administration and “alt right” sites. This is not to say that CNN encouraged violence but rather that the level of coverage (and presumed connection with political or media sources) is different.
Darren and Carolyn Carter recently shared a romantic moment that left millions disgusted. The couple paid to shoot a giant lion in a canned hunt in South Africa and then celebrated by kissing over the dead body of the animal. We have previously discussed such thrill kill pictures that leave most of us wanting to retch. Nevertheless, the Carters thought shooting a lion with a high-powered rifle was not just an accomplishment but a bonding moment.
Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz is back in the news in connection to allegations that he was one of the men who had relations with underaged girls during trips with Jeffrey Epstein. New evidence has been released in the case that have rekindled the allegations against Dershowitz. Moreover, Dershowitz (who invited a defamation suit by the woman accusing him with having sex with her as a minor) is now seeking to dismiss the action and thus avoid discovery. Additionally, an early interview has been uncovered with what may be the single worst line since Bill Clinton’s “I experimented with marijuana a time or two, and didn’t like it. I didn’t inhale and I didn’t try it again.” When confronted on whether he did in fact accept a message from one of the women at Epstein’s mansion, Dershowitz admitted that he did but insisted “I kept my underwear on.”