Potpourri 9/12/18


More and more, I wonder if the disgruntled senior Trump administration official who wrote the anonymous Op-Ed in The Times was actually representing a group — like a “Murder on the Orient Express” plotline where every senior Trump adviser was in on it ….

Thomas Friedman



There are far more political signs in the front lawns of my [Waco, TX] neighborhood — my middle-to-upper-middle-class, largely white neighborhood — than there were in the Presidential campaign of 2016, and every single one of them without exception reads: BETO.

Alan Jacobs. After that, this NYT story was no surprise. Excerpt (emphasis added):

For Mr. Cruz, the pressure has been steadily ratcheting up. On Saturday, Mick Mulvaney, the federal budget director, told Republican donors in New York that Mr. Cruz might lose re-election and suggested that the Texas senator was not likable enough.

Yes, not very likeable. Just ask the other 99 Senators. And water is powerful wet, too.

Graham Hillard at NRO opens with a chuckle (and then descends to incoherence):

Not his inability to act with any consistency on the subject of Donald Trump. Not his ill-timed spasms of political gamesmanship (as when he gave a 21-hour speech on the Senate floor against Obamacare). Not even his uncanny resemblance to Count Chocula. No, Ted Cruz’s worst offense against the American body politic has been his failure, thus far, to crush the senatorial hopes of one Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke ….



A crowdfunding website is trying to strong-arm Senator Susan Collins, the Republican from Maine, by giving more than $1 million to her 2020 opponent—unless she opposes Judge Kavanaugh. Donors are asked to make a financial pledge and then enter their credit-card information. As of Tuesday afternoon, 37,425 people had put down $1,041,878.

The fine print makes clear the quid pro quo: “Your card will only be charged if Senator Susan Collins votes for Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court.” To avoid the money bomb, all Ms. Collins must do is vote “no.”

It isn’t clear this is even legal. We’re all for citizens exercising their free-speech rights, including campaign donations, for or against political candidates. But federal law defines the crime of bribery as “corruptly” offering “anything of value” to a public official, including a Member of Congress, with the intent to “influence any official act.” The crowdfunders in this case are offering something of value—withholding funds from her opponent—in return for a Supreme Court confirmation vote.

“I have had three attorneys tell me that they think it is a clear violation of the federal law on bribery,” Ms. Collins says. “Actually, two told me that; one told me it’s extortion.”

She adds that her office hasn’t “made any kind of decision” about whether to refer the matter to prosecutors. But her astonishment at the strategy is clear: “It’s offensive. It’s of questionable legality. And it is extraordinary to me that people would want to participate in trying to essentially buy a Senator’s vote.”

Another pressure tactic, one Ms. Collins says she finds “incrediblyoffensive,” is “the out-of-state voicemails being left on the answering machines of my state offices.” Many of the messages are profane. “In one case—and we are going to turn this over to the police, but unfortunately, of course, the person didn’t leave a name or number—but they actually threatened to rape one of my young female staffers.”

Meanwhile, the next time progressives complain about the menace of money in politics, remind them of their failure to object to the crowdfunding bribe offered to Senator Collins.

Wall Street Journal Editorial Board, You Can’t Bribe Susan Collins.

I take no pleasure in repeating that rape threat, but it’s important to balance the ledger: trolling — even threats of violence and such — are not limited to the Right.



My experience vividly displayed how two countries, Belgium and Israel, view children. Israel treasures them. According to a 2018 report from the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, the fertility rate for Israeli women stands at a robust 3.1, nearly double the level of most European nations. The Belgian fertility rate is 1.7, well below the replacement rate of 2.1.

Israel’s high fertility is a complex phenomenon, but it seems to arise from cultural norms sustained by religion …

This norm of childbearing reflects a consensus among Israel’s communities. Collective beliefs about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness inform each citizen’s personal choices, and inevitably affect the nation’s demography.

Nations that don’t recognize children as central to a good life will face serious economic consequences. Without enough young workers, aging societies will struggle to support the sick and elderly. These troubles await not only Belgium but also … the U.S.

My experience in Brussels was a glimpse into tomorrow. Despite the political challenges Israel faces, I’m bullish on its future. It celebrates life. Belgium, on the other hand, looks old and fading. As a Jewish sage once put it, “A child without parents is an orphan, but a nation without children is an orphan people.”

Robert C. Hamilton



For six days now, the New York Times has featured a story with the teaser As Lawyer, Kavanaugh Raised Doubts About Roe v. Wade, Leaked Email Shows, now because it ranks as one of a few “most popular.”

It just goes to show that you can sell nothinburgers with the right marketing.



I thought this was the Babylon Bee, but it’s real-life Pastor Mack Morris’s 15 minutes of fame:

The Rev. Mack Morris took a hold of an old Nike headband and a wristband, held them both up before a packed church, and cut them.

“I ain’t using that no more,” said Morris, the senior pastor at Woodridge Baptist Church in west Mobile during his weekly Sunday sermon.

“I’ve bought my last pair of Nike shoes,” Morris said.

The reason? Morris, during a sermon titled “The Storms of Life,” said it was in protest to the Oregon-based apparel company’s recent advertising campaign centered around Colin Kaepernick, the professional football player who was the first athlete to take a knee during the national anthem that triggered a firestorm of controversy that exists to this day ….



Stunt marriage proposals are an “abomination,” writes Shannon Proudfoot. “How does it feel being reduced to a mere audience member—one face in a gaping sea—staring up at a scene from your own life?” Go Shannon.

Micah Mattix, Prufrock for 9/12/18 (link not guaranteed to work for others).


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