Once upon a time (and it wasn’t that long ago), universities were what they claimed to be, institutions dedicated to the preservation and transmission of civilization’s highest values. Now they are bastions of political correctness, “intersectionality” and identity politics.
Something similar can be said of art museums. Although barely 200 years old as an institution, the art museum until recently existed primarily to preserve and nurture a love of art. Today, many art museums serve as fronts in battles that have little or nothing to do with art: entertainment, yes; snobbery and money, of course; and politics, politics, politics.
The latest example of this trend is particularly egregious because it involves one of America’s premier institutions, the National Gallery of Art in Washington. . . . Ms. Feldman’s appointment to run the National Gallery is the latest stop on an express train whose destination is the subordination of art to politics.
The Women’s March organization co-chaired by Linda Sarsour, Tamika Mallory, Carmen Perez, and Bob Bland took another hit last week. A Washington state chapter announced it would be dissolving to protest the co-chair’s connections to Louis Farrakhan. From the Spokesman-Review:
Angie Beem, a Spokane Valley resident who served as board president of Women’s March Washington, announced the dissolution of the state group on Facebook on Thursday, citing the national organization’s ties to Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. Beem, who helped organize the march in Spokane in 2017 and made an unsuccessful bid for Spokane Valley City Council that fall, said in an interview Friday the decision to disband wasn’t easy.
“It’s heartbreaking. Whenever you create something that literally changed your life, it’s really hard to walk away from it,” Beem said…
Beem said state organizers were not only uncomfortable with the national leaders’ ties to Farrakhan, whose group, the Nation of Islam, has been labeled as an anti-Semitic hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. They’re also concerned about the national organizers’ finances and what Beem called a “fame-hungry” attitude.
“One of the things that has really surprised me is that I’m not getting a lot of pushback and a lot of hate,” she said. “That, to me, is almost a miracle.”
The dissolution of the Washington chapter isn’t the only sign of dissatisfaction with the current co-chairs. The Los Angeles chapter has a statement on its front page distancing itself from Women’s March Inc. It reads in part:
Women’s March Los Angeles has no affiliation and was never part of Women’s March Inc. WMLA is its own separate organization with separate leadership, board and funding. WMLA was the first organization to incorporate under the Women’s March name in November 2016, with no guidance or input from what is now Women’s March Inc.
The four co-chairs of Women’s March Inc. have been under pressure ever since Tamika Mallory attended an event hosted by Louis Farrakhan at which she was singled out for praise. Mallory’s attempts to defend herself online only made the situation worse. The ADL noticed that Carmen Perez and Linda Sarsour had also expressed admiration for Farrakhan.
The criticism died down, at least publicly, but it was sparked again last month when actress Alyssa Milano said she would not participate in any future Women’s March Inc. events because they had refused to distance themselves from Farrakhan. Milano is considered a leader of the #MeToo movement so her taking sides against the Women’s March co-chairs carried some weight. Milano’s comments were seconded by actress Debra Messing.
Less than two weeks later another big shoe dropped. Teresa Shook, the woman recognized as the founder of the movement, called for all four of the co-chairs to resign. Then, about a week ago, Tablet magazine published a 10,000-word story detailing the history of the Women’s March including incidents of anti-Semitism which allegedly happened almost from the moment the current co-chairs became involved. That bad news was compounded when a PR company hired by the Women’s March sent emails to dozens of reporters suggesting they take down their tweets of the Tablet story in exchange for evidence the story was false. That didn’t go over well with any of the reporters.
At this point, many people of influence have said the co-chairs should go. But they are pointedly ignoring those calls at present. Given the sizeable amount of money the group has raised in the past, they can probably coast for quite a while. Ultimately, the Women’s March is their ticket. They have nowhere else to go.
A Christmas government shutdown looks less likely now that the White House has backed off from President Trump’s demand of at least $5 billion for border wall funding in the homeland security appropriations bill.
McConnell’s view is, no shutdown, ever:
Asked how he convinced the president that a government shutdown wasn’t the correct way forward, McConnell said, “Well, he can speak for himself, but I think that a government shutdown is not a good option. That’s my view. The American people don’t like it. I don’t know how many times, you remember my favorite country saying, there’s no education in the second kick of a mule. We’ve been down this path before and I don’t believe we’ll go down this path again.”
The Republicans are in full retreat:
“We had a discussion about a proposal that we offered that I thought was reasonable to both sides to give us an opportunity to, in effect, thread the needle on the border security issue,” McConnell said. “I’ve heard back from Senator Schumer that the offer was not acceptable and so now I’m in consultation with the White House about the way forward and we’ll have more to say about that, hopefully a little bit later about what the president is willing to sign. I might say the administration is extremely flexible on this issue and we were obviously consulted before I sat down with Senator Schumer and Senator Leahy.”
The administration is “extremely flexible on this issue”? I don’t think that is what Trump’s voters want to hear. The obvious question is, given this surrender, what was the point of Trump’s reality TV appearance with Schumer and Pelosi, in which he proclaimed himself happy to take responsibility for a shutdown?
The Democrats are exultant:
Schumer characterized the extra non-wall billion sought by the White House as a “slush fund for the president to use for his radical immigration agenda.”
Enforcing federal law is a “radical agenda.” Whereas aiding and abetting violation of our laws by uncounted thousands and millions of illegal immigrants is, I guess, business as usual.
“The judge also questioning Flynn… and his lawyer about their memo last week that suggested that FBI agents might have tricked the former national security advisor when they didn’t tell him lying to the FBI is a crime. You heard the theory floated by the White House and its defenders here and elsewhere. That all blew up today. Michael Flynn himself said he is not challenging the circumstances of the interview, that he knew lying to the feds was a crime when he lied to the feds, that he was not entrapped, that he was guilty.”
A mystery: Why did the sentencing memo submitted to the court by Flynn and his lawyers imply that the FBI had engaged in malfeasance if Flynn wasn’t prepared to stand by that accusation in open court? Today was supposed to be the moment when Michael T. Flynn pointed his finger at the “deep state” and exposed their dirty tricks in his own words before a roomful of reporters. Trump was so excited about it that he previewed Flynn’s court appearance on Twitter this morning:
Good luck today in court to General Michael Flynn. Will be interesting to see what he has to say, despite tremendous pressure being put on him, about Russian Collusion in our great and, obviously, highly successful political campaign. There was no Collusion!
In the end he had nothing to say about collusion. And he had nothing to say about FBI malfeasance despite the court quizzing him about it. The judge embarrassed himself by pressing Flynn about treason(!) but it was fair of him to ask whether, based on the memo, Flynn wanted to withdraw his guilty plea. How could he accept the plea of a man who seemed to imply that he was not guilty, who was manipulated and victimized by a rogue FBI to serve its own political ends? It was a proverbial engraved invitation for Flynn to make the case that MAGA-ites have been making on his behalf for months, that he was railroaded by James Comey and Peter Strzok. He refused to do it with the judge right in front of him.
But again, then why’d he do it in the sentencing memo? The answer, I assume, is that Flynn is looking ahead to life after Russiagate. All of his friends and fans are in the Trump-dominated right now. He needs to stay in their good graces. And so far he has, for the simple reason that unlike Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort he’s a MAGA true believer. Cohen was a private crony who came along for the ride when Trump ran for president; Manafort was an establishment mercenary who hopped aboard the Trump train opportunistically for a few months. Flynn’s the only one of the three who joined Team Trump for the same reason Trump fans did, because they supported the cause. He wears a halo because of it to this day despite the fact that he’s apparently cooperated with Robert Mueller so extensively (and may continue to cooperate with him, per today’s hearing) that Mueller asked for no jail time for Flynn’s offenses. It’s actually an amazing trick. Conceivably no one has provided more info to Mueller behind the scenes as Flynn has, yet no one involved in Russiagate save Trump himself enjoys the aura of martyrdom among MAGA Nation to the degree Flynn does.
I think Flynn believed he could thread the needle, pandering to Trumpers on the one hand by playing the victim of the feds’ misconduct in his sentencing memo while playing the contrite offender in front of the court in hopes of avoiding jail time. If it had worked, he would have walked out having purchased his freedom by chattering to the dreaded special counsel’s office for months and nonetheless been in line to receive a hero’s welcome from TrumpWorld for sticking it to the FBI in his sentencing memo. It was masterfully done — until the judge forced him to pick a narrative. Was he in fact a liar who was throwing himself on the mercy of the court, or was he victimized by a loose-cannon DOJ and prepared to fight the injustice? In the end, with the judge pissed off and seemingly about to put him behind bars despite Mueller’s recommendation, he begged off and asked to postpone the hearing for a few months so that he might help Mueller out even more. What a fiasco. I hope at least that Flynn was fully informed by his lawyers before that sentencing memo was submitted that the court might treat it as a last-minute attempt to dispute the charges against him. He likely would have walked out of court today a free man if not for that.
I don’t think his refusal to accuse the FBI in court will hurt his post-Russiagate rehab tour among Trumpers unless it turns out that he gave Mueller something behind the scenes that hurts Trump. As long as he avoids injuring him to whom all loyalty is owed, he can still do Fox appearances, sell a book, do a speaking tour, etc, alleging that the FBI treated him terribly and that he only said what he said in court to avoid jail. He could even try to get Judge Emmet Sullivan tossed off the case for his weird blathering in court about treason. That would be risky if it didn’t work, but scoring a point on a new MAGA enemy like Sullivan would further endear him to righties if it did. In the meantime, Trump-friendly reporters on the right are left to debate with each other: Was Sullivan open to the idea that the FBI had engaged in misconduct, or was he completely closed off to it because he was biased against Flynn? The latter argument is stronger than the former but both are being made this afternoon.