President Donald Trump blasted Fox News yesterday for simply reporting various polls showing him falling farther behind with voters across the country. Trump complained that “something weird going on at Fox.” This follows the firing of Trump pollsters (including long-standing campaign aides) after poll results were leaked showing Trump behind Biden in various key states. Trump denied any such polls existed and denounced the stories as “fake news”, but later the White House admitted that they did exist. There is nothing weird going on. Just reporting.
One of the great unknowns in the 2020 election is the surprising shift of many young voters and Democrats toward a socialist agenda. It is still not clear if the majority of the country is ready for such a shift though polls show growing support for socialist policies. Not to be outdone, Candi CdeBaca won a runoff race last week against former Denver city council president Albus Brooks by pledging that she would implement not socialist, but virtually communist policies “by any means necessary.”
We have previously discussed trophy hunters who post images of their kills. That kill thrill is hard for many of us to understand but it is particularly bizarre when the kill is illegal. That is the case of three hunters who killed a mountain lion in Yellowstone National Park in Montana in violation of the Lacey Act. Yellowstone special agent Jake Olson and others took a year but it finally caught Austin Peterson, 20, Trey Juhnke, 20, and Corbin Simmons, 19. The three were sentenced in May.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) had struggled to distinguish herself from a large Democratic primary field by campaigning almost exclusively on women’s rights. That has not succeeded in moving Gillibrand from the bottom of the pack of candidates with less than one percent in most polls. However, Gillibrand doubled down this week with a startling interview where she not only pledged to impose a litmus test on any judicial nominees but said that being pro-life is equivalent to being racist or anti-Semitic.
The visit of French President Emmanuel Macron to Washington culminated in the planting of a French oak tree as a symbol of the long-standing friendship of the two nations. Unbeknownst to most watching, the tree was promptly dug back up after the ceremony and sent to quarantine. Regrettably, the tree (like relations with France) has died in quarantine.
If you were in New York yesterday, you would have seen more than 40 ice-cream trucks being towed away. It was a crackdown on New York Ice Cream which allegedly has been running a scheme to avoid millions in tickets. The culprit was ice cream mogul Dimitrios Tsirkos, founder of New York Ice Cream. Long Island officials say that Tsirkos has been racking of millions in tickets and then creating new companies to avoid payment.
In the 2004 slapstick comedy Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, character Patches O’Houlihan insisted “If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball.” Perhaps, but can you dodge hundreds of academics declaring your sport a tool of “oppression”? That was the message at the annual Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences held in Vancouver.
There is something about controlling information and censoring any criticism that can blind you to irony. That seems to be the problem this week when a Chinese spokesperson objected that a statement by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre as a violation of international law. So massacring thousands is a purely domestic matter but criticizing it is an international law violation.
I wrote recently about the demand from the White House that the military move the USS McCain from Yokosuka Naval base during Donald Trump’s visit to Japan. It was a disgraceful insult to McCain, our military, and the country. My hope was that the White House would do that right thing and fire the staffers responsible for treating an active U.S. warship as a petty prop. Instead, Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said Sunday that it wasn’t “unreasonable” for the demand to be made. In doing so, Mulvaney confirmed that the White House cares little for the principles of separating our military from politics or pettiness. Thus what might have been denounced as a terrible mistake is now embraced by the Trump White House as a reasonable use of our military to protect the President’s sensibilities. It not only makes Trump look like a unhinged egotist but also his Administration as cringing sycophants. It also contradicts the position of the Acting Secretary of Defense. That is quite an accomplishment even for a White House known for self-inflicted wounds.
Did Congress’ France disparagement campaign of renaming French Fries to Freedom Fries cause a butterfly effect that manifested sixteen years later? Apparently possibly.
The U.S. Department of Energy posted on May 28th an announcement of approving additional exports of domestically produced Liquid Natural Gas at the 10th Clean Energy Ministerial in Vancouver, BC. To spice up perhaps a rather bland news announcement, U.S. Under Secretary of Energy Mark W. Menezes decided to import some ill-considered political pontificating by renaming LNG as “Freedom Gas”.
Liberty and Freedom encompass many enlightened notions. But as a gas, that’s a new one for me.
President Donald Trump’s penchant for personal and derogatory remarks about his critics and opponents is well known. Many of us have objected to how Trump’s tweets and attacks have tarnished the Office of Presidency. He has already given insulting labels to various candidates in the Democratic primary. However, such attacks are not just confined to Trump. Yet, as academics, such incivility runs against our tradition of civility in discourse. It often can take no small amount of restraint, but name calling and ad hominem attacks achieve little beyond joining a race to the bottom. That level of restraint was lost this week by Laurence Tribe, a renowned academic and the Carl M. Loeb University Professor and Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard University. While name calling is now routine, this instance is notable, and alarming, from one of the nation’s leading academics.
Tribe went after Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) this week after McConnell promised to fill any Supreme Court vacancy in 2020. McConnell had led the blocking of the confirmation of Merrick Garland in 2016 by citing that fact that it was an election year. When asked what would happen if Republicans faced a vacancy in 2020, McConnell was adamant: “Oh, we’d fill it.” That was too much for Tribe who attacked McConnell in what many would view Trump-like postings.
Misfires on Twitter for President Donald Trump are legendary. However, today’s now deleted tweet is likely to be repeated endlessly for the next two years. Trump actually tweeted that “I had nothing to do with Russia helping me get elected.”