How many military veterans are currently running for President in 2020?
Answer: Two…Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
[Correction notice: I forgot about Pete in the first version of the post. Thanks to Jutgory for the catch, and thanks to Mayor Buttigieg for his service.]
1. Here’s that “violating democratic norms” Big Lie again. This one was flagged by Ann Althouse (Thanks, Ann!)
U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman, an appointee of President Bill Clinton, said in a speech at the annual Thomas A. Flannery Lecture in Washington, D.C. last week, “We are in unchartered territory. We are witnessing a chief executive who criticizes virtually every judicial decision that doesn’t go his way and denigrates judges who rule against him, sometimes in very personal terms. He seems to view the courts and the justice system as obstacles to be attacked and undermined, not as a coequal branch to be respected even when he disagrees with its decisions.'”
How do you get to be a federal judge and think the expression is “unchartered territory”? That’s a written speech too (presumably). Did he visualize some entity that issues charters authorizing people to speak about the courts in a particular way? You don’t need a license to speak in the United States, and to require one would, ironically, violate our norms. The expression is “uncharted territory,” which would simply mean that Trump is venturing into a new area of speech that we haven’t previously explored and therefore have not mapped…Now, I agree with the idea that Trump’s speech about law is unconventional, but what determines that he has violated all recognized democratic norms? It’s often said that the judiciary is the least democratic part of the government, that it’s countermajoritarian. So what are the norms of democracy that say a President should not criticize the courts?! You might just as well call this purported norm a norm of anti-democracy.
Anyway… the weasel word is “recognized.” It takes all the oomph out of “all.” Trump’s speech about judges violates “all recognized democratic norms.” Who are the recognizers? The judges? Judges certainly have a role talking about democratic norms, which are often part of the determination of the scope of the judicial role: Judges refrain from doing what is left to the processes of democracy. But part of democracy is speech about government — which includes the judges — and that speech is not limited to flattering and deferring to them. It does not violate the norms of democracy to criticize and attack judges.
Bingo. And it is because of judges whot say these sorts of things that the President is not unreasonable to accuse the judiciary of bias. Ann chose not to mention that this was also a “norm” breached by Barack Obama, more than once, but I will, the point not being “everybody does it,” but that to this judge and others, what Obama did was apparently only objectionable when Trump did it too—a common theme in the anti-Trump propaganda of the last three years.
2. Here’s new low for the New York Times in its campaign to paint Puerto Rico as victims of U.S. bias. Ever since San Juan’s mayor pulled a Katrina on President Trump, blaming the United States for everything that went wrong with Puerto Rico’s rescue and recovery efforts in the wake of hurricane destruction, the Times and other mainstream media have worked hard to use the dispute to bolster another useful Big Lie: that the President is an anti-Hispanic racist, and his administration’s policies reflect that. Yesterday, the Times published a largely sympathetic article about the suffering being faced by Puerto Rican cock-fighters, poor dears, because of new legislation banning the sport.
The correct approach to this story would have been “why did this take so long?” Cock-fighting is per se animal cruelty, though letting chickens maul and kill each other for the entertainment and gambling enjoyment of humans doesn’t spark quite the universal outrage that dogfighting does. (“Seinfeld” even had an episode joking about it.) Since we eat chickens and raise them under horrible conditions before they become Popeye’s sandwiches, this is somewhat understandable.
However, the Times attempt to make us feel pity for the Puerto Ricans who will be put out of business by a reasonable U.S. law is not. Here’s a sample rationalization from one of the soon-to-be-“victims” of U.S. “meddling in Puerto Rican culture”:
“This is our life,” Mr. Figueroa said on a recent morning as he tossed dried corn kernels into the birds’ feeding dishes. “If they take this away from us, what are we going to do? I’m 70 years old. No one else is going to give me a job….In the United States they hunt deer, and what harm have they done to anyone? The birds are going to fight no matter what. We prepare them to defend themselves.”
I confess that my reaction could well be confirmation bias. Because the Times sneaks in attacks on the Trump administration, the nation for electing him President, and reflex sympathy and support for virtually any and all who are adversely affected by current U.S. policy, it is very difficult more me not to read an article like this one through that context.
3. Here’s a creative legal argument! Remember, zealous representation, not frivolous… Benjamin Schreiber, serving a life sentence for murder, argued to an appeals court in Iowa saying that when his heart stopped in 2015 and he was technically dead, his life sentence had been served. The life he resumed minutes later, see, after he was revived by hospital staff, was a new life after death had wiped the slate clean. Right?
The three-judge panel rejected his request for the state to let him get on with his life, saying in part, “Schreiber is either still alive, in which case he must remain in prison, or he is actually dead, in which case this appeal is moot.”
Hey, it was worth a shot!
4. The Times is starting a series about the place of football in America’s culture. Here are some quotes from the first installment, describing the football industry’s concern over falling participation in high schools across the country because of brain damage concerns, that raised my metaphorical eyebrows…
- “As research on the damage football causes to young athletes grows and stories about the diminished capabilities of former N.F.L. greats continue to be a vital part of the sports conversation, some parents have come to fear that they may be putting their children in danger by letting them play football.”
Some parents? Why not all parents? They ARE placing their children in danger.
- “The New York Times commissioned a national online poll of 1,000 14- to 17-year-old boys. The survey, conducted by Pollfish and PredictWise this fall, found 9 percent of those who identified themselves as football players said they had parents who voiced concerns over head injuries, compared with 3 percent of wrestlers and 2 percent of hockey players. Still, only 4 percent of boys who had quit football said that personal concerns over head injuries were the main reason they quit. A third of former players said they just lost interest, another third became busy with something else and 15 percent said they simply started playing another sport.”
I wonder what percentage of parents have no knowledge of the CTE research and the risks of subjecting young brains to the battering of football.
- “Even though coaches have tried to address their concerns by teaching new tackling techniques and monitoring head injuries closely, Houser said it could be very hard when “parents get caught up in the ‘let’s don’t take a chance’ thing.”
- “By May 2018, the campaign #FootballMatters had begun to spread across multiple platforms. On the Football Matters website, there were resources for parents on rule changes and safety advances; articles about leadership and teamwork and overcoming adversity; and football-friendly data, such as the number of colleges that field football teams (775, with seven more being added by 2022) and the number of college players who are working on their master’s degrees (1,439 out of about 73,000). Each Friday, fans who connect with Football Matters on social media get “hype videos” of high school coaches’ pregame talks to their teams.”
Brilliant! A “Let’s distarct parents from the reality that they may be condemning their kids to dementia by their forties!” campaign.