I was talking with a colleague about the most relevant movie to watch these days. As readers here know, the outbreak of elected officials letting power go to their heads led me to designate Woody Allen’s “Bananas” for that honor. (And yesterday I posited the relevance of “Airplane!” )Still, it’s hard to argue against my friend’s position that the right choice is “Groundhog Day.”
In the interest of sanity, I reject “Contagion” and especially “World War Z” or “Quaranteen.” (All good movies though.)
1. Right now it’s turned face to the wall, but today I’m putting a sheet over it…My college diploma becomes more embarrassing by the day. Harvard University has accepted nearly $9 million from the pandemic relief package. With a 40 billion dollar dollar endowment, Harvard is better off financially than the U.S. government.
[Notice of Correction: I wrote “million” instead of billion in the original post. Really stupid typo. I apologize.]
There is no excuse for the school accepting the money. It is getting widely criticized for taking it, and ought to be.
A spokesman for the U.S. Department of Education said ithat Education Secretary Betsy DeVos “shares the concern that sending millions to schools with significant endowments is a poor use of taxpayer money. In her letter to college and university presidents, Secretary DeVos asked them to determine if their institutions actually need the money and, if not, to send unneeded CARES Act funds to schools in need in their state or region.”
In an episode of Spokesman vs Spokesman, a mouthpiece for the Ivy said, disingenuously,
“By federal formula laid out in the CARES Act, Harvard was allocated $8.6 million, with 50% of those funds to be reserved for grants to students. Harvard is actually allocating 100% of the funds to financial assistance for students to meet their urgent needs in the face of this pandemic. Harvard will allocate the funds based on student financial need. This financial assistance will be on top of the significant support the University has already provided to students — including assistance with travel, providing direct aid for living expenses to those with need, and supporting students’ transition to online education.”
This is an exercise in deflection and rationalization. The only issue is that Harvard has plenty of money to do all of this without any hand-outs from the government, and many other institutions need the money more, which is an easy calculation because no institution needs money less than Harvard does.
2. Enablers of the State. Facebook has taken down event pages for planned protests against stay-at-home measures in California, New Jersey, and Nebraska. The actions come at the request of state officials, who say the gatherings would violate state orders. “Unless government prohibits the event during this time, we allow it to be organized on Facebook. For this same reason, events that defy government’s guidance on social distancing aren’t allowed on Facebook,” a Facebook spokesperson told Politico.
Boy, Facebook is scary. The fact that a platform is that clueless about the basic tools of democracy should terrify everyone. The whole point of protests and demonstrations is often defiance; for Facebook to jump when a state government says, “Lackey, please shut down this planned speech” shows how untrustworthy the social media giant is. And , we are told, this is where a large portion of the public gets its information.
Mark Zuckerberg confirmed his Frankenstein monster’s approach during a conversation with “Good Morning America” anchor George Stephanopoulos yesterday. He announced that any protests against state stay-at-home orders organized on his social media platform will be considered “harmful misinformation” and their pages will be taken down immediately. (How is that “misinformation”?)
Stephanopoulos asked the Facebook CEO,
“How do you deal with the fact that Facebook is now being used to organize a lot of these protests to defy social distancing guidelines in states. If somebody trying to organize something like that, does that qualify as harmful misinformation?”
Zuckerberg responded, “We do classify that as harmful misinformation and we take that down.”
How one regards that response is a civics test.
3. When the going gets tough, the tough get gambling. In the absence of a baseball season, MLB is teaming up with the online sports gambling site Draft Kings to run a virtual bracket tournament among all-time rosters of 30 teams, plus Negro League All-Stars and and a team of young rising stars. Playing is free, but the whole gimmick is a promotion for online gambling on baseball. Draft Kings is counting on hooking as many new gamblers as possible.
4. Here’s a nauseating story: “N.F.L. Bows to Marijuana’s New Status.” Status. Marijuana’s status is and always will be that of a completely unnecessary catalyst for drug abuse, cognitive damage and stunted intellectual and career growth. This negative influence on our culture was deliberately fostered by the selfish and irresponsible elite from the mid-sixties onward, driven especially by academics and celebrities, and the carnage it wreaked, especially on the poor and the young, has been incalculable. So naturally the source of our “football heroes’ is embracing it.
Under the new collective bargaining agreement, the NFL will no longer suspend players who test positive for marijuana. There will be some punishment for repeat offenders, but history tells us that this will be just another incremental step toward full acceptance.
I especially like this excerpt from the article: “’There is a generalized sense that the fans don’t care about the issue, so it’s possible to appear progressive,’ said Paul Haagen, co-director of the Center for Sports Law and Policy at Duke University.”
5. The immigration ban, and the predictable unethical response. President Trump announced late last night that he was temporarily banning all immigration. (I was alerted when a recently banned commenter who advocates a compassionate polict towards illegal immigration, as in “Treat it as if it were legal” suddenly started trying to post comments.) There is no justifiable criticism of this move, except perhaps that it should have been done sooner. We’re effectively banning travel between states and immigration from our neighbors’ homes; why wouldn’t we close off access from abroad? That’s where the pandemic came from. The Democrats, NeverTrumpers and “the resistance” have become so predictable in their reactions to anything the President does and their script so repetitious that the web was teeming with posts entering guesses about the reaction from the Left. It’s too easy a game to be much fun. Obviously Big Lie #4, “Trump is a Racist” would be the reflex response, and it was. Deranged anti-Trump fanatic Jennifer Rubin tweeted, “No doubt Trump’s base is primarily motivated by racism. This is why Trump does this. Every. Damn. Time.”
How sick with the Trump Derangement Virus does one have to be not to see this kind of reaction as pathological?