Interesting Bits

12/16/2017 1:27

Bad Sign for the 21st Century

French-Jewish families are being forced from their homes in Paris suburbs as Europe continues to be convulsed by levels of anti-Semitism not seen since the end of the Second World War.

The Paris commuter newspaper 20 Minutes documents an “internal exodus” during 2017 of Jews from the Seine-Saint-Denis department, saying it is emblematic of broader concerns that French Jews, like their brothers and sisters across Europe, are finding it increasingly difficult to reconcile their faith with the changing demographics of the continent.

The paper reports that Jews are leaving their homes on the northeastern fringe of Paris to escape the open hostility that French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on Sunday condemned as “well-rooted.

The Bondy synagogue president saw a “deteriorating climate” of the last 15 years as driving the exodus, “It’s hard to explain, it’s provocations, it’s looks,” he lamented. “There are places where we do not feel welcome.

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12/15/2017 2:59

So What do Ten Million Illegal Aliens Cost Us?

Legalizing 2 million illegal immigrant “Dreamers” would cost the government $25.9 billion over the next decade, as those now-legal people would claim more tax, education and other benefits they haven’t been able to get before, the Congressional Budget Office said Friday.

The CBO also said newly legalized Dreamers would sponsor 80,000 more immigrants to enter the country as part of “chain migration.”

Immigrant-rights activists have argued that legalizing Dreamers would be a financial boon to the country, but the CBO and the Joint Committee on Taxation suggested otherwise, saying that while they would pay somewhat higher taxes in to the government, they would take far more out of it.

The findings could be a blow to activists who have demanded the bill be included in any year-end spending deal. Congress already struggles to find offsets for other spending, and digging a hole more than $25 billion deeper could be difficult.

“In total, CBO and JCT estimate that changes in direct spending and revenues from enacting [the bill] would increase budget deficits by $25.9 billion over the 2018-2027 period,” the budget analysts said in their analysis.

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12/15/2017 6:58

State Dept. Defying Trump on Jerusalem

President Donald Trump formally recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital last week, but the State Department will not recognize that fact on official documents, maps, and passports, saying boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem are subject to final status negotiations.

"We're working with something here I like to refer to as pretzel logic, and it's something we see from this State Department quite often, especially when it comes to issues like Israel," Kredo said.

Kredo said hostility toward Israel is deeply embedded at the State Department. His sources told him that career diplomats at the agency strongly opposed Trump's decision to make the recognition announcement last week.

(It's time to fire more than a few federal employees)

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12/15/2017 6:14

Poll: 54 percent say Mueller has conflict of interest

A majority of polled voters say special counsel Robert Mueller has a conflict of interest because of his past ties to former FBI Director James Comey, according to the latest Harvard CAPS-Harris survey.




When asked if Mueller has a conflict of interest “as the former head of the FBI and a friend of James Comey,” 54 percent responded that the “relationship” between the two amounts to a conflict of interest, including 70 percent of Republicans, 53 percent of independents and 40 percent of Democrats.

Comey succeeded Mueller as FBI director and the two have been described as “brothers in arms” for their working relationship, which dates back to the early 2000s, although the extent of their personal relationship is unclear. 

Comey and Mueller were among the senior law enforcement officials who threatened to resign over a Bush-era domestic surveillance program, an episode that culminated with Comey rushing to the hospital bed of then-Attorney General John Ashcroft to beat White House officials who were on their way there.

“The special counsel has serious perception issues as a clear majority now see him as having a conflict of interest,” said Mark Penn, co-director of the Harvard CAPS-Harris survey.

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12/14/2017 7:53

What if the US Won a War and No One Cared?

Just three days before the Alabama special election that transfixed the nation, and on the same day that President Trump fact-checked the Washington Post’s Dave Weigel, Iraq’s prime minister declared victory in the war against ISIS. Iraq — with indispensable American help — has regained control of its cities and its border with Syria. ISIS has been reduced to a shadow of its former self. The victory isn’t confined to Iraq. American-allied forces control ISIS’s former capital in Syria, and the world’s largest jihadist army is gone. Bands of insurgents still prowl the countryside, and ISIS cells exist across the world, but the war against the “caliphate” is over. It’s been won.

So why does no one seem to care?

It was exactly three years ago that the Middle East was in crisis. The ISIS blitzkrieg had brought Iraq to its knees. Jihadists controlled immense sections of Iraq and Syria. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi spoke from Mosul’s Great Mosque, declared himself “Caliph Ibrahim,” and called on Muslims across the world to join him in his jihad.



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12/14/2017 4:38

Oberlin's budget woes should worry all of higher ed

  • According to a report in Inside Higher Ed, leaders at Ohio’s Oberlin College are struggling to close a multi-million dollar budget deficit following a dip in enrollment this year.

  • The liberal college’s newspaper, The Oberlin Review, published a letter written by two faculty members criticizing a salary freeze. The letter, published Friday, said faculty found it depressing that neither the college board nor administrators could come up with a better way to address the revenue shortfall other than by eliminated raises.

  • The salary freeze is the latest in a string of moves by Oberlin to close the structural budget gap. The school relies too much on gifts, and not enough on tuition, room and board, according to a letter posted by Chris Canavan, the chair of the Oberlin Board of Trustees.


  • Here's a thought -When the quality of your product declines, people don't buy it anymore. A lesson in capitalism for campus socialists.

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12/14/2017 10:30

US retail sales rose 0.8% in November

Initial jobless claims down 11K to 225,000, retail sales up 0.8%

U.S. retail sales increased more than expected in November as the holiday shopping season got off to a brisk start, pointing to sustained strength in the economy.

The Commerce Department said on Thursday that retail sales rose 0.8 percent last month. Data for October was revised to show sales gaining 0.5 percent instead of the previously reported 0.2 percent rise.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast retail sales increasing 0.3 percent in November.

(I'm not an economist but I'm guessing this is a good thing.)

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12/14/2017 6:56

How The Defeat Of Hillary Clinton Led To The Sexual Harassment Revolution

The transgressions of some of the prominent media celebrities recently exposed – household names such as Harvey Weinstein and Matt Lauer – have been known for years. Why do their accusers feel safe coming forward now, why has their support among the liberal elite evaporated, and why are corporations and media organizations willing to fire these headliners now after looking the other way for decades? President Trump’s election alone cannot explain this cataclysmic paradigm shift.

In this crossroads of sociological, political, and economic theories, one explanation rises above the rest: the growing disfavor of and backlash against the Clintons. What happened?

If President Hillary Clinton ran the country, and Bill Clinton were the First Gentlemen, would we be experiencing this cultural moment recognizing the problem of sexual harassment, and would the 2017 Person of the Year be those who spoke out about being harassed? Certainly not. More likely, Harvey Weinstein would be sipping Chardonnay in the Rose Garden and eating canapes while ogling his next victim, with Bill Clinton doing the same. President Hillary Clinton would be smugly presiding over a brittle edifice of equality, beneath which lurked decades of enabling, shaming, attacking, suppressing, and silencing.

Consider the lessons that the Clintons taught generations of young people growing up in the 1990s. Allegations against powerful men by powerless women must not be believed.  Let us not forget Paula Jones who claimed that President Clinton harassed her in a hotel room only to try to skirt the civil lawsuit.

...

In its lengthy article, TIME notes in passing: “In the 1990s, feminists stood up for accused abuser Bill Clinton instead of his accusers — a move many are belatedly regretting as the national conversation prompts a re-evaluation of the claims against the former President.” In other words, feminists of the 1990s turned against women to support their favored political outcomes, and now they are finally realizing how foolish that was.

It is only now that the Clintons are out of favor and inconvenient and are being shoved offstage by their ruthless cronies in the Democratic Party, that the left can actually take sexual harassment seriously. That is a good thing. 

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12/14/2017 6:46

About That So-Called Insurance Thing

Yes, the release of texts sent between top FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page show that both loathed Donald Trump while they were working on investigations involving Trump as a presidential candidate and later as president. Of course, lots of federal employees loathe Trump. It would be hard for all of them to recuse themselves from government matters, although it is probably not a great idea to have them play key roles in high-stakes probes that could have a momentous effect on the presidency.

More troubling, in the set of texts released Tuesday night, is a single message, from Strzok to Page, dated Aug. 15, 2016. Here is what it said.

I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy's office that there's no way he gets elected — but I'm afraid we can't take that risk. It's like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you're 40….

What does that mean? "Andy" apparently refers to FBI No. 2 Andrew McCabe, who was overseeing the bureau's Trump investigation. "He" apparently refers to Trump. And "insurance policy" apparently refers to…well, it is not known what that refers to. Actually, we don't know with absolute confidence what any of it refers to.

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12/14/2017 6:22

This Time of Year You Hate to See This

 It’s never a good sign when one of your Nativity scene characters puts someone in a headlock — even if both are in pre-school.

A 2-year-old girl playing a sheep decided the baby Jesus doll in a church Christmas pageant in White Pine, Tennessee was hers, as seen in video taken Sunday by Tara Benson and obtained by NBC News.

Mary wasn’t having it, and after a brief scuffle, the 3-year-old playing Jesus’ mother put the sheep in a headlock.

A couple panda-looking cows looked on worriedly as the battle over baby Jesus escalated. Joseph, apprehensive at first, seemed on the verge of intervening when Mary tried to bury the sheep’s face in the manger.

Gauging the amount of laughter from the parents at the church outside Knoxville, the “brawl” may have been the highlight of their holiday season.

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12/13/2017 7:02

A Victory for Common Sense

The University of Wisconsin-Madison has confirmed that it has disbanded its "Men's Project," a program designed to teach “men-identified students” about the harms caused by traditional notions of masculinity.

(Don't see many victories for common sense on colleges nowadays.)

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12/13/2017 6:56

Trump Poised to Set Record for Appeals Court Judges

Senate Republicans are set to confirm three more of President Donald Trump’s appeals court picks this week, a push that will help set a record for the most such appointments in a president’s first year in office.

The Senate is expected to confirm Steve Grasz for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit, and James Ho and Don Willett for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, over the objections of Democrats who question whether they can be unbiased.

That would mean at least a dozen Trump appointees would join the nation’s appeals courts — which have the last word in all but the 100 or so cases that the Supreme Court decides each year — in his first year in the White House. That comes in a year the Senate also confirmed Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch in April.

(In appointing good judges. Trump has gone beyond expectations.)

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George L. Duncan
George L. Duncan