The Kids Aren’t All Right

And why should they be?

One of the problems with elite universities is that they accustom students to a sense of prestige that’s both superficial and inhibits a certain kind of risk-taking and genuine nonconformity. Obviously that’s not universally true but it is hard to move off the beaten path when the one before you seems well-lit and glittering. It’s also a truism that failure is life’s great teacher, and whatever else the beneficiaries of the cheating may get, they are being deprived of something ultimately more valuable.

The larger question is whether this scandal exposes how rotten the entire enterprise of higher education has become. I personally think the four-year college model is crazy — it should be three years, as it is in England. And that’s just for starters. We need to reinvent the model root-to-branch. That’s one of the reasons I’m against making college available to all: You are merely funneling more students into a system of increasingly dubious value.

Gail: Kids who can’t afford to go to college and who would benefit from college should get government funding. But the loan system is a different question. It’s worrisome. I’ve always wondered if high school graduates should have to work a year or two — volunteer programs count — before they can commit to an expensive education.

Bret: Agree completely. Frankly every 18-year-old at any level of income would benefit from a year of service of some sort. I know I would have, and I’d love to see my children take a gap year or two before college.

Gail: Our current government loan program is terrible. It helps schools grow by building up unnecessary programs and of course encourages kids to take out huge debt they’ll be dragging around for half their lives. The for-profit schools are the most egregious offenders. Many of them rake in a ton of money by making promises they can’t deliver on — great high-paying jobs that never materialize. I’m not sure students should even be able to get federal loans for for-profit schools. What do you think?

Bret: I don’t share your profound skepticism regarding for-profit schools, but I think you’re right on this point. The federal government should not be indirectly subsidizing for-profit entities, period, especially when they have a questionable track record of achieving the results they promise. Then again, I’m skeptical of federal student loans in general, because I think they help drive up the cost of tuition, exacerbating the problem they’re intended to solve.

.. Gail: What we need is so simple — strong background checks on gun purchases, a ban on rapid-fire weapons that make it easy to mow down dozens of people. But I wonder sometimes if we could up the ante. Require that everybody who buys a gun has to be able to demonstrate both an understanding of gun safety and a minimal level of marksmanship. The one thing we don’t talk about is how inept many gun owners are. You need a decent amount of skill to be able to hit a target, particularly if you’re nervous or on the move. Unless, of course, your target is a mass of people at prayer.

.. Bret: None. And it is particularly disappointing to see a Republican like Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, a so-called constitutional conservative, vote with the president just weeks after he delivered a statement denouncing the national-emergency declaration. It means that Republicans have no higher principle than their own political self-preservation.

So now it will be up to the Supreme Court to act to defend the separation of powers. Don’t be surprised if Chief Justice John Roberts or another conservative justice delivers the majority opinion against the president, along with the court’s liberal wing. As we both know, the Trump presidency makes for strange bedfellows.


Manufacturer of AR-15 Can Be Sued Over Sandy Hook Massacre, Court Rules

Connecticut Supreme Court allowed victims’ suit to move forward over its marketing of the gun

The court ruled that the owner of the Bushmaster rifle brand wasn’t shielded by a 2005 federal law that gives firearm sellers and manufacturers protection from liability claims over gun violence.

The ruling allows the plaintiffs to move forward with their claims that Remington Outdoor Co. violated Connecticut’s law against unfair trade practices by allegedly promoting the rifle as a combat weapon intended for waging war and killing human beings.


They Still Like Steve King Here

The Iowa congressman has been saying offensive things for years but many of his supporters don’t seem concerned.

The Republicans in Des Moines and Washington are doing what they can to run away from and run off Representative Steve King, the Republican from my district, for yet more of his outlandish remarks over white supremacy, nationalism and western civilization — remarks that simply echo things he has said many times over the past two decades in my paper, The Storm Lake Times.

.. A Republican State Senator, Randy Feenstra, a professor at Dordt College with solid Christian conservative credentials, has said he will challenge Mr. King in the 2020 primary. Mr. Feenstra said he stands with President Trump but is not as “caustic” as Mr. King and will not embarrass ever-polite Iowans. Other Republicans are pondering primary runs, too, thinking that condemnation at the hands of the party elite may give them a rare opening.

Not so fast. Mr. King may be wounded, but he remains popular here.

.. “They can’t change my mind about him,” said Cathy Greenfield, a dog groomer adamantly opposed to abortion who lives with her husband, Larry, a teacher and auto body mechanic, in the village of Fonda just east of Storm Lake. “The left has been after him forever. I don’t think he’s a racist. I think he will be successful.”

.. She is not even prepared to consider Mr. Feenstra or anyone else. Ms. Greenfield trusts Steve King, now serving his ninth term.

The same goes for Sue Guntren of Storm Lake, who with her husband, Robert, proudly plants a huge red “KING” sign every two years in her yard along Lake Avenue, the main drag. “We’re sticking with him,” she said. “I’ve never really heard what he did was that bad.”

.. Eric Mosbo took a break from his Snapper dealership to reflect on his support for Mr. King. “I don’t care what the topic is, you have to be able to have an honest discussion about it. King was trying to defend the merits of Western Civilization, not white supremacy. Since only a snippet of his comments were used and the interview wasn’t recorded, the message was twisted around to project an incorrect quote. Reporting events and comments are hard work and the need to be correct is huge.”

.. The congressman has made lots of outrageous remarks over the years. He joked about immigrants being “dirt.” Like Mr. Trump, hebroadly describes Latinos as drug runners and criminals. He said he doesn’t expect to meet any gay people in heaven.

.. Most supporters write it off as “Steve being Steve,” or as the media unfairly being on his case. His son banned or ejected reporters, including from The Des Moines Register, The Storm Lake Times and other publications, from the congressman’s election-night rally, calling them left-wing propagandists.

Barr vows to protect Russia probe but says Mueller report might stay secret

Attorney general nominee William P. Barr suggested Tuesday that any report written by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III might not be made public, signaling the possibility of future battles within the government over his findings.

The remarks by Barr, who is expected to be confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate, highlight the uncertainty surrounding how he will grapple with what many expect will be the final steps of Mueller’s investigation into President Trump, his advisers, and Russian interference in the 2016 election.

.. Lawmakers repeatedly pressed him about the report Mueller is expected to produce at the end of his investigation. In a sign of potential fights to come, Barr said any report from Mueller would probably be treated like internal Justice Department prosecution memos that are kept secret.

In a chippy back-and-forth with Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Barr cast doubt on the notion that Mueller’s report might be made public.

“The rules I think say the special counsel will prepare a summary report on any prosecutive or declination decisions, and that shall be confidential and be treated as any other declination or prosecutive material within the department,” Barr said.

Declination memos are written by Justice Department officials when they decline to file charges against individuals, essentially ending an investigation.

Barr said the attorney general is responsible for notifying Congress and reporting “certain information” once the investigation ends, and he sought to assure lawmakers that he would be as transparent as regulations allow. “It’s really important to let the chips fall where they may and get the information out,” he said.

Earlier in the hearing, Barr criticized former FBI director James B. Comey in a way that suggested Barr, as attorney general, would limit what information is released from the Mueller investigation.

.. Speaking of Comey’s July 2016 announcement that former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, Trump’s opponent in the presidential election, would not be charged for her use of a private email server to do government business, Barr said: “If you’re not going to indict someone, you don’t stand up there and unload negative information about the person. That’s not the way the department does business.

That last point could be important Barr were to apply that rationale to the Mueller investigation. By the same logic, Barr might decide it is inappropriate for the Justice Department to provide negative information about any individuals who were not charged or accused of crimes by Mueller — leaving lingering questions unanswered.

A poll released last month found that three in four American adults believed the entire Mueller report should be made public. Two-thirds of Republicans agreed with that statement, while nine out of 10 Democrats agreed, according to the poll from NPR/“PBS NewsHour”/Marist.

.. Sen. John Neely Kennedy (R-La.) expressed concern that Justice Department regulations might keep important information from the public.

“The American people deserve to know what the Department of Justice has concluded,” Kennedy said. “I would strongly encourage you to put this all to rest. To make a final report public, and let everybody draw their own conclusions so we can move on. If somebody did something wrong, they should be punished. But if they didn’t, let’s stop the innuendo and the rumors and the leaking, and let’s move on.”

.. In avuncular fashion, Barr tried to assure lawmakers that his seniority and semiretired status were proof of his ability to protect Mueller and preserve the independence of the Justice Department.

“I feel that I’m in a position in life where I can provide the leadership necessary to protect the independence and the reputation of the department,” Barr said.

As attorney general, he said, “you have to be willing to spend all of your political capital and have no future. I feel like I’m in a position in life where I can do the right thing and not really care about the consequences.”

.. Barr said he would not halt or hamper Mueller but that he also would not commit to following the recommendation of ethics officials if they saw a reason for him to recuse from overseeing the Russia investigation.

.. Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) pressed him to explain: “Under what scenario would you imagine that you would not follow the recommendation of the career ethics officials?”

Barr was blunt.

“If I disagreed with them,” he said.

The current acting attorney general, Matthew G. Whitaker, decided to disregard the view of ethics officials who felt he should recuse from overseeing the Russia probe because of his past statements regarding that investigation. Whitaker is scheduled to testify for the first time before Congress on Feb. 8 before the House Judiciary Committee. That hearing is also expected to focus on the Russia investigation.

.. Barr called “ludicrous” the notion that his public comments critical of the Mueller investigation was some kind of audition for the attorney general job, and Barr promised that no changes would be made to the special counsel’s report.

.. On guns, Barr called the epidemic of mass shootings “the problem of our time,” and urged improvements to state laws that would help authorities detect people with mental illnesses and prevent them from possessing firearms.

Barr acknowledged that the current background check system for firearms is “sort of piecemeal” and called for states to pass more red flag laws, which would allow guns to be temporarily seized from those people deemed a threat. Such laws would help supplement background checks to ensure people with mental illnesses could not obtain a gun, Barr said.

“This is the single most important thing I think we can do in the gun control area to stop these massacres from happening in the first place,” Barr said.

.. Midway through Tuesday’s hearing, Barr made clear he personally would support marijuana being illegal everywhere. But overall his answers will likely hearten those involved in selling and using the drug.

“To the extent that people are complying with the state laws, distribution and production and so forth, we’re not going to go after that,” Barr said.

Barr then stressed “we can’t stay in the current situation,” in which the drug is legal in some states and illegal under federal law. He called on Congress to pass a law that will resolve nationwide how law enforcement should treat marijuana.

The confirmation hearing comes as the entire workforce of the Justice Department Barr would lead is either working without pay, or furloughed without pay, because of the partial government shutdown that grew out of the president’s demand for $5.7 billion for building more wall along the country’s southern border.

During a break in testimony, Feinstein, the top Democrat on the panel, said the hearing was “going very well” and she expected him to be easily confirmed.


In a 1995 essay, Barr expressed an extreme view that American government should not be secular, but instead should impose “a transcendent moral order with objective standards of right and wrong that… flows from God’s eternal law.”

Barr went on to blame everything from crime to sexually transmitted diseases on a government-led attack on “traditional values.” He explicitly called for the government to subsidize Catholic religious education and to promote laws which “restrain sexual immorality,” a reference to homosexuality and extramarital sex.


There is only one possible reason why the Mueller Report would not be released to the public.
.. I read his memo. To paraphrase: The law doesn’t apply to Donald J Traitor, and Mr Mueller is being fanciful in his interpretation of the law. The only way the law would apply to Trump is if he was guilty, but that can’t be proved without an investigation, but any investigation would be illegal.

It’s almost the brainchild of Groucho Marx’s character J Cheever Loophole.
.. Trump’s only reason for firing Sessions is that he would not recuse, and end the Mueller investigation.  Barr can’t believe that he will survive as AG if he doesn’t do what Trump wants and end the probe.  It’s no more complicated than that.
.. Failure to release Mueller report to American public will be a good indication that sufficent evidence exists that Trump is a Russian agent. If there is no such evidence, the report would be released.

.. Mr. Barr says he will let Special Counsel Robert Mueller finish his investigation.

He says that he won’t do anything he considers wrong.

He says he will serve as Attorney General, not President Trump’s personal defense lawyer.

He says that Mr. Mueller is a dedicated professional, and a personal friend.

Mr. Barr does not, however, say that he will refrain from rewriting Mr. Mueller’s report to change its conclusions.

He does not say that he will provide Mr. Mueller’s original draft, as well as his revised version, to Congress.

He does not say that the news media or the public should have access to Mr. Mueller’s report.

He does not say that he will approve Mr. Mueller’s recommendations for further indictments.

He does not say that he will continue to provide Mr. Mueller with staff and resources, for prosecutions as well as investigating and drafting a report.

He does not say that he will refuse to follow instructions from Mr. Trump to limit Mr. Mueller’s investigation if he considers those instructions right — for example, ordering Mr. Mueller to drop any investigation of obstruction of justice, in line with the 19-page memo he wrote and then forwarded to President Trump’s personal defense attorneys.

He does not say that, as Attorney General, he will refrain from giving President Trump, and President Trump’s personal defense attorneys, legal and political advice that might be helpful to their defense against any charges recommended by Special Prosecutor Mueller.

DOJ regulations require the Attorney General to notify Congress if he disapproves recommendations by a Special Counsel — but Mr. Barr does not say that he will disclose exactly what recommendations Special Counsel Mueller makes to him, or the reasons underlying any decision he makes to reject some or all of them.

He does not say that he will object to President Trump pardoning cooperating witnesses.

Barr and McConnell are examples of traditional Republicans protecting Trump from being held responsible for his corrupt behavior.
.. A Select BiPartisan Group of the Judiciary Cttee Needs to be able to read the original report to validate that whatever Barr makes publicly available captures the full scale, scope and depth of what Mueller reports

The American people have a right to know whether or not the president is a turn coat
.. The Mueller report should stay secret…right, because the last people who should know what their government is doing is the citizens who own the government.

Barr is a disgrace. He has lied publicly…claiming he does not know what is in the emoluments clause of the Constitution. He also has protected corruption before…he intervened in the Iran-Contra investigation and recommended pardons for all.
.. Barr will try to suppress the Mueller report. It’s obvious he’s laying the groundwork…

.. The Mueller investigation is critical, but Barr has a lot of other really ugly baggage.

Like Kavanaugh he believes in a unitary executive who is totally immune to the rule of law.

Remember, Barr is the one who convinced Bush 1 to pardon  Regan’s Iran/Contra crew.

This from Bloomberg Jan 10, 2019:

.. I watched some of the hearing, to me the more interesting parts were about criminal justice, especially in minority communities. Barr mentioned arresting people on a lesser drug charge is one way of taking a gang member off the streets.
While no one wants bad gangs out there, I don’t want to see us going back to 1980’s and 1990’s style justice where minorities are targeted way more than suburban non minority citizens on drug charges and also getting much longer prison sentences.

I thought Corey Booker’s questions and points were well made.

.. There are no coincidences in this administration. Barr will be appointed to re-write Mueller’s report at the direction of Trump/Putin. Fool me once shame you. Fool me twice shame on me. Barr’s role is to be Trump’s Mueller Fixer. The country must wise up to the deep level of corruption occurring in our faces. Sociopaths thrive off of other people giving them the benefit of the doubt.

.. How long have the JFK files been locked up now? That’s your answer.

.. Barr is backed by Republican heavyweights to ensure he controls, mitigates, and changes anything in Mueller’s  final report that will damage the Party longterm. 

I believe the Party got what they wanted from trump (i.e., tax cuts, Supreme Court Justices,  Federal Court Justices) and  now are beginning to pivot away from trump to save themselves and Party from trump.

Trump is now expendable to the Republican heavyweights and will be quietly thrown to the circling wolves

.. What’s wrong with Rosenstein?  He’s been doing a good job managing the DOJ.

Or is that the problem?
.. Barr is the ultimate Republican Establishment fixer. He did such a good job with the Iran Contra Affair that he has been drafted to bury a scandal once again. I would be surprised to see anything meaningful that will be released to the public.
.. I think Barr’s role will be an attempt at cover-up to protect the Republican Party – he played a similar role in Iran-Contra

He’ll support the previous DOJ finding that a sitting President can’t be indicted, then say report cannot be released since Trump is not being indicted and it would be damaging to his reputation

That’s why he was going on about not DOJ not releasing information on people they don’t indict

They know how damaging the report will be to the Republican Party 

.. Barr is unfit.

Barr previously has been critical of the Mueller probe, In 2017 Barr sent a memo about it to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein saying the Uranium One scandal surrounding Hillary Clinton might merit an investigation more than alleged collusion between Trump and the Russians.