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Friday, December 19, 2014

Giving in to communist tyrants, government edition

Remember when we used to face down tyrants and they were the ones who caved? Yeah, good times, good times. Private sector, government, it apparently no longer matters -- America's "new approach" to tyrannical regimes is to knuckle under. While Emperor Barry has been spending a lot of effort the last few years trying to ensure Iran is free to develop a nuclear weapon, he apparently was not too busy to negotiate "normalized" relations with the communist thug regime in Cuba -- without managing to get even a whiff of a promise of democratic reforms:
President Barack Obama declared the end of America's 'outdated approach' to Cuba Wednesday, announcing the re-establishment of diplomatic relations as well as economic and travel ties with the communist island – a historic shift in U.S. policy that aims to bring an end to a half-century of Cold War enmity.
'Isolation has not worked,' Obama said in remarks from the White House. 'It's time for a new approach.'
In addition to promises to resume diplomatic relations with Cuba, open an embassy in Havana, carry out high-level exchanges and visits between the countries, lift the U.S. trade embargo, ease travel bans to Cuba and increase the amount of money Americans can send to Cuban citizens, among other measures, the U.S. got the release of American Alan Gross and the swap of a U.S. spy held in Cuba for three Cubans jailed for spying in Florida. Oh, yeah -- the Cubans also promised to loosen restrictions on the Internet and to release 53 political prisoners. They did not promise they wouldn't arrest them again next week, or mention how much restrictions would be loosened.

And that's it. Cuba gets a bunch, the U.S. gets fuck all. Gross probably feels differently about that, but maybe he shouldn't have gone to Cuba in the first place, given that nation's propensity to arrest Americans and accuse them of spying. It's kind of like going to Iran: you're asking for trouble. Oh, yeah -- and Secretary of State John Kerry will be reviewing Cuba's designation as a state sponsor of terror, which means that will be lifted, too.
So what did the U.S. not get? We did not get a promise to release all political prisoners, to stop arresting political prisoners, to allow private sector commercial activity, or to institute democratic reforms. Actually, the U.S. didn't get much of anything, really. And no one seems to know whether the deal with Cuba does anything about extraditing back to the U.S. the 80 or so American fugitives, including a pretty good number of murderers, hijackers and cop-killers, currently enjoying asylum in Cuba.

Emperor Barry, at least according to the Constitution, cannot lift the U.S. economic embargo on Cuba by himself: that is a law passed by Congress. On the other hand, not giving work permits to illegal immigrants also is a law passed by Congress, and the emperor already has decided to ignore that one, too, so it wouldn't be a stretch to believe that Emperor Barry will do whatever the fuck he wants, legal or not, and dare Congress to stop him.

As you might expect, U.S. liberals are overjoyed that this longtime leftist talking point goal has become a reality. They don't mind that we got pretty much nothing in return. Most progressives seem to think Cuba is a socialist paradise, apparently not having spoke to a lot of average Cuban citizens about that.

It is somewhat surprising, then that The Washington Post editorial board, not exactly the most conservative group in the country, wrote a scathing editorial in opposition to Barry's Cuba actions. As The Post notes, the emperor's actions will likely provide enough of an economic lift for the Castro regime to stay in power, while doing absolutely nothing to drive reform or even improve the lives of ordinary Cubans:
On Wednesday, the Castros suddenly obtained a comprehensive bailout — from the Obama administration. President Obama granted the regime everything on its wish list that was within his power to grant; a full lifting of the trade embargo requires congressional action. Full diplomatic relations will be established, Cuba’s place on the list of terrorism sponsors reviewed and restrictions lifted on U.S. investment and most travel to Cuba. That liberalization will provide Havana with a fresh source of desperately needed hard currency and eliminate U.S. leverage for political reforms.
The Post was unimpressed with Emperor Barry's rationale for the move, to say the least:
Mr. Obama argued that his sweeping change of policy was overdue because the strategy of isolating the Communist regime “has had little effect.” In fact, Cuba has been marginalized in the Americas for decades, and the regime has been deprived of financial resources it could have used to spread its malignant influence in the region, as Venezuela has done. That the embargo has not succeeded in destroying communism does not explain why all sanctions should be lifted without any meaningful political concessions by Cuba.
. . .
The administration says its move will transform relations with Latin America, but that is naive. Countries that previously demanded an end to U.S. sanctions on Cuba will not now look to Havana for reforms; instead, they will press the Obama administration not to sanction Venezuela. Mr. Obama says normalizing relations will allow the United States to be more effective in promoting political change in Cuba. That is contrary to U.S. experience with Communist regimes such as Vietnam, where normalization has led to no improvements on human rights in two decades. Moreover, nothing in Mr. Obama’s record of lukewarm and inconstant support for democratic change across the globe can give Ms. S├ínchez and her fellow freedom fighters confidence in this promise.
Not exactly a ringing endorsement. But accurate, which is more than one can say about Emperor Barry's speech announcing the new policy. As is Barry's wont, the speech was littered with false equivalencies, key omissions and flat-out lies. Joel Pollack at Breitbart points out just a few:
3. No mention of Cuba’s role in repressing democracy abroad. “Cuba has sent hundreds of healthcare workers to Africa to fight Ebola.” Yes, and Cuba has also sent experts in repression to Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador. Cuban agents also allegedly beat and raped Venezuelan protestors earlier this year. For decades, Cuba assisted guerrilla armies abroad, fomenting bloody revolution in some countries and propping up communist regimes elsewhere. It continues to do so.
4. Suggesting that Cuba does not support terrorism. “At a time when we are focused on threats from al Qaeda to ISIL, a nation that meets our conditions and renounces the use of terrorism should not face this sanction.” Yet Cuba was caught, only last year, smuggling “missile equipment” to North Korea, the dictatorship that targeted America with a cyber-terror attack on the day Obama announced the new Cuba policy. Cuba continues to offer other kinds of support to terrorists.
Pollack is not alone in noting the basic dishonesty in the stated rationale for the policy, something The Post also noted. At The Federalist, Mike Gonzalez, whose grandfathers fought in the long war for Cuban independence from Spain at the end of the 19th century, likewise notes the emperor's thematic and factual dishonesty:
Why did President Obama go for broke on Cuba, announcing the United States would normalize relations with that repressive regime? The answer appears in his statement to the nation. There, the president not only made clear that this change has been on his bucket list for some time, but also that his knowledge of Cuba comes straight out of the international Left’s playbook.
“When I came into office, I promised to re-examine our Cuba policy,” Obama said, proving once again that last month’s midterm shellacking seems to have had an odd effect on our president. Rather than make him humble, rejection at the polls has liberated him to do all the things he wants in his “legacy.”
His rationale for acting was instructive, too. In essence, for 15 minutes Obama reeled off a list of talking points one could hear anywhere from the Left Bank of the River Seine to, say, any dusty classroom in Cuba. The only thing missing was the picture of Che so omnipresent in Paris or Havana. The image his platitudes sought to create was the following: the embargo, not Communism’s internal insanity, has left Cuba a pauperized police state; our relations have been frozen by ideology, not principles or national interests; and the United States used to be Cuba’s colonial power.
Now, the one thing all these views have in common is that they are A, untrue, and B, favorite talking points of the international Left.
Gonzalez proceeds to lay out a number of Barry's statements versus actual facts. By all means, go read the whole thing. As Gonzalez shows, often Barry sins by omission -- a favorite tactic of his always has been to ignore inconvenient facts -- while other times he simply lies. As his speech makes clear -- and as so many previous speeches also have shown -- Barry is not a thinker, he is a lockstep ideologue. He tries to sound like he has weighed all sides and come up with the most rational decision which, oddly enough, is always the left-wing choice. This time is no different.

None of this is to say improving relations with Cuba is not a good idea. But doing so while gaining absolutely nothing in return, and in fact propping up a brutal, repressive police-state regime, is insanity. Or liberalism. Same thing.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

I'm not sure why anyone would want to do this

This sounds to me like an extraordinarily low value-added proposition, even for Temp Town, but we recently received an email from The Posse List letting us know that apparently some temps want to form a new section in the DC Bar Association:
There are a number of contract attorneys who wish to propose to the D.C. Bar Council on Sections a new section of the D.C. Bar for members of the bar who work as contract employees in the fields of Technology Assisted Review, Regulatory Compliance, and Electronic Discovery. The purpose is for association, training, and mutual improvement, as well as to address the unique challenges faced by contract attorneys in the Washington D.C. market.
Bar sections in general put together attorneys who focus their work in the same substantive area of the law, such as antitrust, government contracts, torts or whatever. There are 29 sections -- this would make 21. This section would be unique as there is no substantive area of law uniquely related to document review. I'm not sure I see the point. I'm sure the DC Bar will approve, though -- the Bar charges $55 to join a section, in addition to your regular Bar dues. Revenue enhancement, baby.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Oh my God, I've been a victim of racism and didn't know it

Apparently, People Magazine has an upcoming issue with an interview with the Obamas, in which the First Couple attempt to defuse racial tension in the wake of recent events by going on about the times they have personally been the victim of casual racism. The First Lady is only able to trot out one example, apparently, which gets cut to shreds at Ben Shapiro's Truth Revolt:
On Wednesday, People magazine released an interview with President Obama and Michelle Obama, in which the two discussed their harrowing experiences with racism. Among those experiences was a shocking incident during Michelle Obama’s undercover trip to a Target:
I tell this story – I mean, even as the first lady – during that wonderfully publicized trip I took to Target, not highly disguised, the only person who came up to me in the store was a woman who asked me to help her take something off a shelf. Because she didn't see me as the first lady, she saw me as someone who could help her. Those kinds of things happen in life. So it isn't anything new.
Being asked to take things off shelves as a taller woman is the new Jim Crow.
The First Lady is nearly 6 feet tall. That, as Truth Revolt discusses, might explain why Michelle's original discussion of the incident on the David Letterman Show saw no racism implied in any way:

These people will lie about anything to make the point they want to make at the moment. It's almost as if they don't realize that video exists. Of course, the First Lady does not, in the People interview, say the incident showed racism -- she merely cited the Target encounter while talking about casual racism she and the president have encountered in their lives, knowing that there was no racist intent of any kind. This, of course, is how we begin to heal the nation's wounds caused by racism -- by lying about encountering racism. She decided to depart from her original telling of the story, where a short woman at Target simply saw a tall person and sought that person's assistance in getting an item high on a shelf. Naturally, that could have nothing to do with a belief in most Americans that their fellow Americans are willing to help out. Must be racism. Damn, I wonder how many times I've helped somebody because I was more physically capable of performing the task when they really only sought my help because of racism? Who the fuck even makes that insinuation? Stay classy, Obamas.

Special snowflake punk-ass losers surprised to be called special snowflake punk-ass losers

I guess that kind of stuff doesn't happen in the special snowflake, participation trophy world these punk ass losers grew up in. That would explain why a couple special snowflake punk-ass losers were surprised that their demands for being treated like special snowflakes drew rejection and ridicule. A little explanation is in order.

A couple days ago in The National Journal a Harvard Law Review editor wrote an op-ed explaining why students at elite liberal schools -- law schools, no less -- are showing their strength by asking for their final exams to be delayed:
Over the last week, much has been said about law students’ petitioning for exam extensions in light of the circumstances surrounding the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner at the hands of police officers. Students at Harvard Law School, Columbia Law School, Georgetown University Law Center and several other schools requested that their administrations allow extensions on final exams for students who have been confronting the aftermath of the recent failed grand jury indictments of the officers who killed the unarmed black men.
Noting that many commenters had suggested that the students seeking extensions are "coddled millenials," third-year Harvard Law student William Desmond contends that the requests reflect "strength and critical awareness:"
Although over the last few weeks many law students have experienced moments of total despair, minutes of inconsolable tears and hours of utter confusion, many of these same students have also spent days in action—days of protesting, of organizing meetings, of drafting emails and letters, and of starting conversations long overdue. We have been synthesizing decades of police interactions, dissecting problems centuries old, and exposing the hypocrisy of silence.
The piece goes on in badly written, overwrought splendor until readers inevitably reach the conclusion that these aren't coddled millenials, they are this country's greatest, bravest, most wonderfullest generation ever.

Yeah, that shit blew up. Pretty much everybody who is not himself a special snowflake punk-ass loser, or an enabler of special snowflake punk-ass losers, has branded this guy and his partners-in-wussiness as special snowflake punk-ass losers:
Surely, the sweetest justice that could emerge from Desmond’s plaintive op-ed is for him to see that he has set his cause back significantly. The only valuable lesson that a law student could learn from this episode would be that making flawed and unconvincing arguments (not to mention employing laughably tortured metaphors) has consequences. To even condescendingly congratulate Desmond on his failed but noble effort would be a lie. Decency demands that this argument be rejected in whole, and its author shamed for crafting an ersatz intellectual argument around lethargy.
That post at Hot Air includes a host of tweets slamming Desmond's attitude that are well worth following the link to read. Twitchy has a pretty good collection of tweets, too.

The requests for special treatment aren't limited to law students, though. Elizabeth Nolan Brown at brings us a tale about a freshman at Oberlin College who sent an email to one of her professors in which she asked him to delay exams, but only for minority students since it
has come to the attention of students that students of color, particularly Black students, who have suffered significant trauma over the past few weeks due to the Grand Jury decisions are not at all in a place to take their finals right now. I am not among these students, and as a white, middle-class person, I have to privilege of being able to step away from these events and put enough energy into schoolwork and finals to assure that I will pass my classes. That is not the case for so many of my peers.
That shit didn't work out too well, either. And, yeah, it inspired great mockery in the Tweetisphere.

I'm sure that the author of the request, Della Kurzer-Zlotnick, is not a racist because she assumed that her fellow students, because they are "of color," would lack the emotional maturity or internal fortitude to "step away from these events" merely because they aren't  white, middle-class persons such as herself. Was it her class or her race that makes her superior in her mind, do you think? The entire email, which Della posted publicly on Facebook with a "trigger alert" warning for people to delicate to handle the response, is pictured here:

As you can see (click on the image to view a larger version), the professor's response was insensitive and guaranteed to be upsetting to all of her fellow special snowflake punk-ass loser friends. His reply was simply, "No."

In retrospect, I think I missed the boat on this whole too-traumatized-to-go-on thing. When I was a second-year law student, in April 1994, Kurt Kobain ate the business end of a shotgun only a couple weeks before exams. Naturally, I was traumatized. I realize that simply being a music fan would not be enough to make this tragedy more traumatic for me than for others, but I used to be in bands, too, so this tragedy affected me far more deeply than it might have other, non-musician law students. I was actually in a band at the time, making the event that much more traumatic for me. I can't believe I didn't ask my professors to delay my exams while I recovered. I'm sure they would have complied.

Or maybe the very next semester, when Susan Smith murdered her two young sons by letting her car roll down the boat ramp into a reservoir with the boys, ages 3 years and 14 months, seat-belted inside. She did this only weeks before exams and, once again, I was traumatized. Not only am I a former child, I had a very young child myself. It's amazing I was able to carry on. Again, I am certain my professors would have gladly delayed my exams. After all, as fellow former children -- and for all I know, parents of young children -- they probably were traumatized, too. Maybe even too traumatized to administer and grade those exams. In fact, I think that means I was insensitive to not ask to delay the exams. They were suffering, too, and it was extremely selfish of me to put them through that. I'm sure they would have not just complied with such a request, but would have thanked me, too.

Of course, they might have told me to grow a pair, that life is full of ups and downs and maybe I should just suck it up and deal with it. Of course, nowadays they would never say such a thing -- and certainly not without a "trigger alert."

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

This could get interesting

In an interesting development regarding Emperor Barry's exercise of "executive authority" in rewriting immigration law without the benefit of actual legislation, The Volokh Conspiracy is reporting (hat tips to Insty and Ace) that a federal district court in Pennsylvania has ruled that the emperor's decision to stop deporting pretty much all illegals, while granting work permits to many of them, is unconstitutional:
According to the opinion by Judge Arthur Schwab, the president’s policy goes “beyond prosecutorial discretion” in that it provides a relatively rigid framework for considering applications for deferred action, thus obviating any meaningful case-by-case determination as prosecutorial discretion requires, and provides substantive rights to applicable individuals. As a consequence, Schwab concluded, the action exceeds the scope of executive authority.
This is the first judicial opinion to address Obama’s decision to expand deferred action for some individuals unlawfully present in the United States. [I've now posted the opinion here.]
The question arose in a deportation case involving an illegal immigrant who was deported and re-entered the country illegally. The judge asked the parties to brief the applicability of the emperor's amnesty, then ruled that amnesty to be an unconstitutional attempt to expand executive authority. While this case might end up being important, it might not. But I think we can expect to see a lot of litigation over this issue.

Monday, December 15, 2014

We have some very sad-faced game food porn

We time-shifted yesterday, recording the game so Marrying Into Wolves could see it, so game food bled into dinner. Dinner was brats and other stuff, and I didn't bother with pictures of that. The game food, which was excellent, was much better than the game, which was not. Sloppy play by the Packers offense led to defeat at the hands of the Bills, who have a legitimate defense but no offense to speak of. But we will not speak of this. Next week, the march to the playoffs resumes. In the meantime, yesterday we started with something new -- apple slices and caramel dip:

Yeah, I cheated and bought caramel dip. You think I'm going to try and make that shit? We also had onion straws with dip, which I did make:

Of course we had skins -- we always have skins:

We topped it off with dirty diapers. Man, I love those things:

Later we had tear-soaked brats and sides. Well, my brat was tear-soaked. The rest were just boiled in beer and then grilled.

President speaks to troops, apparently mistakenly reads from script to Red Cross or something

President Obama went to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst to talk at troops about the end of combat operations in Afghanistan (in military terms, ending combat operations while your enemy is still on the battlefield is known as "surrendering"). In attempting to compliment the troops, Barry once again displayed his total lack of understanding of the military mind, referring to the troops gathered as "Santa in fatigues:"
President Obama said, "We are free and safe and secure over here because you are willing to serve over there," adding "You never stop serving, you never stop giving, you guys are like Santa in fatigues. Although I bet one of those C-130's is a little more efficient then Santa's sleigh."
Breitbart news reported that the Santa joke was met by dead silence, while the remark about the C-130 got a shout from one corner of the room -- probably a bunch of trash haulers who reflexively shout anytime someone mentions their aircraft, the C-130 cargo plane.

Interestingly, CBS didn't report the troops' negative reaction to the Santa comment. Business Insider tried to put a positive spin on it, basically by lying about the reaction:
Obama's humor earned some polite chuckles from the audience at the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey.
His next joke, however, earned a much more enthusiastic response.
"Although I'll bet one of those C-130's is a little more efficient than Santa's sleigh," he added.
The video reveals dead silence, broken only by the sound of pins dropping.  And the "more enthusastic response" was kind of like the year-end high school awards assembly when the school athletic director says "and congratulations to the golf team for placing fifth in the regional championships," whereupon the four members of the golf team whoop it up and everybody else sits silently, wondering how much fucking longer this assembly will last. Follow the Breitbart link for the video, then ask, who you gonna believe, the lamestream media or your lying ears. They're still in the tank for Barry.

If you are going to report on the remarks, shouldn't you report on the tone-deaf nature of those remarks?. He wasn't talking to a charitable service organization, he was talking to a group of soldiers, airmen and sailors who have volunteered to fight the nation's wars. They will perform peacetime and humanitarian missions with the same professionalism they bring to combat operations, but make no mistake, these guys don't view their job as delivering presents. These guys have spent more than a decade supporting combat operations, and he treated them like they were the Rotary Club or something. The remarks ignore the fact that the enemy in Afghanistan didn't get the "end of combat operations" memo, either. It might be hard to convince the families of the two soldiers who were killed in Afghanistan Friday that combat operations have ended. What a putz.

And they don't call the damn things fatigues anymore. They haven't in years.