Until Hillary Clinton decided to destroy 33,000 allegedly personal e-mails, all was quiet on the document-retention front in her selected home State of New York. Governor Andrew Cuomo was quite happy with the secrecy provided by his own refusal to send written memos or e-mails, and the practice followed by his staff and state agencies (at his insistence) of destroying e-mails older than 90 days. No footprints. Which is the way the famously secretive Cuomo likes it.
Along came Hillary and her electronic eraser, and the New York legislature swung into action to disable what one transparency advocate calls “an electronic shredder that’s always on”. A decidedly annoyed governor agreed to changes in retention policy if they would include removal of the legislature’s partial exemption from the Freedom of Information Act. According to the New York Times, on which must of this comment is based, the new Democratic head of the state assembly responded, “There are certain things under the legislative guise that should be protected. I believe in that.” Just what “legislative guise” means is uncertain, but it is certain that Justice Louis Brandeis’ observation that “Sunlight is the best disinfectant” is not included in that particular “guise”.
Republican legislators joined the fun by proposing that any new legislation reducing their exemption from the FOIA be coupled with a requirement that anyone living with a state employee file financial disclosure forms -- meaning that Cuomo’s long-time partner, a famous chef and television personality would have to do so. Cuomo countered with a proposal that disclosure rules be expanded even more, to include “all girlfriends, even those of married members of the legislature.”
All because Hillary Clinton wanted a bit of privacy.
The Feather Touch of Regulation
You undoubtedly have heard of the Department of the Interior. You may even have heard of its Fish and Wildlife Service. But I doubt whether you know that its almost 60,000 employees include those charged with running the National Eagle Repository. Until the Wall Street Journal detailed the working of that Repository, Interior was most famous for its National Park Service’s decision, during a government shutdown, to force its usually obliging park rangers to increase public inconvenience by taking ten days to approve a plan for state funding to keep the parks open. Now its feather keepers, after a long undercover investigation, have threatened to jail a Native American who leads some of his fellows in worship, which requires use of eagle feathers, a few of which were a gift to him from a soldier returning from Afghanistan. Alas, although his tribe is recognized by the state of Texas, it is not recognized under federal law, making his acceptance and use of the feathers illegal under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. It’s now up to the courts to determine whether the government is infringing on religious freedom, as it was found to be by the Supreme Court in the Hobby Lobby case. Either way, one wonders why Obama is complaining about inadequate funding and calling for higher taxes when it has resources to pursue a challenge to its feather monopoly.
Sex and the Single Politician
Enough of such trivial matters as whether Germany should pay Greece for the terrible costs inflicted by the Nazi occupation, or Britain should unspecial its relationship with the U.S. by backing China’s competitor to the World Bank, or just how annoyed Angela Merkel really is with the European Central Bank’s decision to try quantitative easing. On to the stuff of which European politics is really made. Not the multiple mistresses of the French President, at least not so long as the incumbent in that positions survives. Instead, Silvio Berlusconi and Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s victories, the one certain, the other likely.
The Council of the Princeton University Community voted on Monday to gut due process for students accused of sexual misconduct. The week before last it was the turn of the faculty to genuflect as the hearse bearing the remains of due process rolled past. This unsavory episode highlights two parlous issues. First, there is the problem of sexual misconduct on campus, which was always at unacceptable levels and appears to be getting worse. Second, there is the dangerous license federal agencies have to rewrite law.
Florida Polytechnic “University” (it isn’t accredited) is making headlines this week by opening a bookless library. Instead of checking out traditional codex books, students will be forced to read class material on tablets, e-readers, and/or laptops. According to the middle-aged librarians and bureaucrats who run the school, a bookless library will appeal to the youth.
Islamic State terrorists, formerly known as ISIS, have killed at least 500 members of Iraq’s Yezidi religious minority in and around the city of Sinjar and taken hundreds of women as slaves. Some of the victims were buried alive. Their only crime: not being Muslims.
In an interview with President Bush's daughter, Jenna Bush Hager, President Obama said that "a lot of young men of color aren't doing well." He also talked about his own childhood, growing up without his father in his life.
This week the Factual Feminist takes on the “rape culture” panic that is riling college campuses with help from the media, radical feminists, and too many politicians. Just as in the shameful panic over alleged child abuse at day care centers that sent innocent people to prison in the 1980s, false statistics, mob tactics at public meetings, and disregard for the principle of “innocent until proven guilty” hold sway among today’s accusers.
Richard V. Reeves has written in The Atlantic a confident and illuminating account of the state of marriage in America today. College-educated American men and women “are reinventing marriage as a child-rearing machine for a post-feminist society and a knowledge economy.” On this front, the Americans have once again shown their superiority to the Europeans, who, in their socially self-destructive way, remain ambivalent at best about the value of being married. But a European might respond that only an American could be content with such a self-consciously mechanical view of a relational institution. It’s easy to hear the French man Alexis de Tocqueville laughing between the lines of his deadpan description of American men describing marriage in terms of “self-interest rightly understood.”
Harold Ramis died on Monday morning. Having written, directed (or written and directed) five of the funniest movies of the last 40 years, I think it's safe to put him on the short list for Funniest Guy of His Generation.
In an article published a couple days ago, Time magazine endorses "Polyandry," which Merriam-Webster defines as "the state or practice of having more than one husband or male mate at one time."
"It Makes Economic Sense for a Woman to Have More Than One Husband," reads the article's headline. The sub-headline reads, "By pooling male resources, polyandry improves household incomes and combats child poverty."
Amiri Baraka, New Jersey’s controversial one-time poet laureate, died yesterday, aged 79. The poet, essayist, and playwright’s body of work will be remembered, if at all, as among the least humane in the history of American letters. An early 9/11 denier—a notorious 2002 poem suggested Jews were responsible for the attacks—Baraka embraced many of the last century’s worst ideologies.
The federal agency that oversees the Voice of America is seeking someone to produce a TV entertainment show to be broadcast in Iran in the Farsi language that includes "Hollywood news" and "other interesting aspects of life on the West Coast of the United States." The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), whose board members include Secretary of State John Kerry, is
While everyone else has spent the last few days obsessing about Gravity, the government shutdown, and the real possibility that the NFC East division champ will have six wins, it’s quietly been an interesting week for sociology nerds who think about marriage.
Big deal on Drudge yesterday about WWE wrestler Darren Young possibly breaking kayfabe and coming out to TMZ. (Although the timing of this suggests at least the possibility that this is a work and not a shoot.) Whatever. It’s been months since Jason Collins and the media is thrilled.
The Supreme Court’s rulings on gay marriage effectively leave the issue very much alive in state and national politics. The four justices appointed by Presidents Clinton and Obama clearly would declare a constitutional right to same-sex marriage in a heartbeat, if they were to get a fifth vote.