Seaton: A Mud Lick Christmas Miracle

It was December in the town of Mud Lick, Alabama and Christmas magic seemed to fill the air.

For one, it was snowing. Mud Lick almost never got snow in the winter months, but this year it came in huge, fluffy white droves. The town’s residents were typical Southerners, which meant everyone was enchanted with the thought of a white Christmas for about a day. When the schools closed because buses couldn’t run safely and businesses closed as a result, everyone started getting frustrated with what they called “White Death.”

Both grocery stores had a run on bread, milk and eggs. Teachers at Bear Bryant Elementary moved their classes to Zoom school since that was the way of the world these days. More importantly, everything in what was normally a very quiet rural Alabama town slowed down and quieted so much that if you weren’t a local you would’ve sworn time came to a complete stop. Continue reading

A Trap Of Their Own Making

Bret Stephens got it right, although to be fair, it wasn’t really a hard question.

The presidents of Harvard, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of Pennsylvania testified before a House committee on Tuesday about the state of antisemitism on their campuses. It did not go well for them.

Let’s assume, arguendo, that these are smart, capable women, How hard could it be to answer the question posed by Rep. Elise Stefanik, “whether ‘calling for the genocide of Jews’ violated the schools’ codes of conduct or constituted “bullying or harassment”? Yet, not one could bring themselves answer “yes.” Continue reading

Short Take: It’s “A” Or Out

There is a weird dynamic that happens when you attend an elite college. You go in believing you’re pretty darn smart, which is why you’re heading for New Haven instead of Podunk, and as a pretty darn smart person, you’re supposed to get pretty darn good grades. In the olden days, you heard the speech at orientation that began “look to your left, look to your right,” and were informed that one of you will flunk out.

The warning was to tell you that you weren’t in high school anymore and would have to work, and work hard, to make the cut. There would be no free ride. Whether it was accurate or merely a scare tactic, I dunno, but it worked. At my college, they graded on a curve, and we knew only too well that there was a pretty darn good chance we would not get an “A.” But then, I didn’t go to Yale. Continue reading

Hypocrisy Is The New Black

The foundational premise underlying campus Title IX sex tribunals’ denial of due process to male students accused of rape is “believe all women.” There is no reason to suspect this premise will change on campus, and it will continue to serve as the justification for precluding the accused students from having a minimal opportunity to defend themselves and challenge accusations against them.

In the mythology of sexual assault “survivors,” women almost never lie. They constructed a litany of excuses for why they can’t remember, tell different, even contradictory, stories or enthusiastically consented at the time, although discovered they were raped a month or year later. But to raise these issues is to violate the basic premise: Believe women.

Except when it comes to being an Israeli woman raped by Hamas. Continue reading

Tuesday Talk*: Should Deepfake Nudes Be Criminalized?

When an argument for criminalizing conduct begins with the appeal to emotion, “We’re fighting for our children,” it’s almost certainly calling for bad law. But when it comes to “deepfake”** nudes of women, particularly minors, does that change the calculus?

The problem with deepfakes isn’t new, but experts say it’s getting worse as the technology to produce it becomes more available and easier to use. Researchers have been sounding the alarm this year on the explosion of AI-generated child sexual abuse material using depictions of real victims or virtual characters. In June, the FBI warned it was continuing to receive reports from victims, both minors and adults, whose photos or videos were used to create explicit content that was shared online.

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The Luxury of Trust

Like so many laws that made sense in one context, the Insurrection Act, as amended, seemed like a good, if not necessary, idea at the time. And like so many laws that gave enormous power to the president, the guardrail was that the American people would never be so foolish as to elect a person to that high office who was so lacking in trust, so antagonistic to the Constitution, democracy and the rule of law, as to abuse that vast power. But that was then and this is now.

I’m talking about the Insurrection Act, a federal law that permits the president to deploy military troops in American communities to effectively act as a domestic police force under his direct command. In theory, there is a need for a well-drafted law that permits the use of federal troops in extreme circumstances to maintain order and protect the rule of law. The Insurrection Act, which dates back to 1792 but has since been amended, is not, however, well drafted. And its flaws would give Trump enormous latitude to wield the staggering power of the state against his domestic political enemies.

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The Rot On His Own Side

Like the president, Senate Majority Leader and New York’s senior Senator Chuck Schumer sees a problem. And like the president, Schumer thinks he can thread the needle and worm his way out of the problem. It isn’t working for Biden, and it won’t work for Schumer. Both fail to grasp the nature of the problem.

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) warned this week in a landmark speech that anti-Israel militancy has fomented antisemitism on the American left since Hamas’s Oct. 7 terrorist attacks against the Jewish state. His remarks highlighted the resilience of the Democratic Party’s non-antisemitic majority. But they also showed why a party steeped in identity politics has a limited capacity to contain antisemitism’s spread.

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Dragging The Line: Can Appeals Save Trump?

There was some small degree of controversy about whether a sitting president could be prosecuted, as the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel issued a memorandum that a president could not during the term of office. This wasn’t law, but DoJ opinion, which ordinarily binds the federal government’s exercise of authority. And frankly, who would have ever thought we would need such an opinion, given that we’re talking about the president of the United States here, someone who should be a paragon of integrity, if nothing else. Would there ever be another Richard Milhous Nixon?

This was, upon reflection, the correct decision. So long as a person was president, the person could not be dragged into local courthouses by prosecutors who oppose the person to make it impossible to do the job of president. There is room for debate, but this was the only practical outcome. Continue reading

Seaton: The Night A Punk Froze Hell

Hell froze over Saturday, November 25, 2023 around 11 pm.

It happened at the Rosemont Horizon in Rosemont, Illinois. At the close of WWE’s annual “Survivor Series” Pay Per View, the babyface team of Randy Orton, Cody Rhodes, Jey Uso, Sami Zayn and Seth Rollins were all celebrating after their victory in WarGames, a brutal two-ring steel cage match designed by Cody’s father, “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes.

The copyright notice ran on Peacock’s feed, and most folks like myself got ready to see if we could catch some highlights from college football. Continue reading

Short Take: Teaneck Board of Education’s VP’s Reply

It began with a letter from the Superintendent of the Teaneck school district, André D. Spencer, to the parents and students, characterizing Hamas’ October 7th attack not as terrorism, or even as something bad perpetrated by Hamas, but as “the latest incidents in the cycle of violence in the Middle East.” At the next Board of Education meeting, Jewish parents stood to address this failing. Board Vice President Victoria Fisher was having none of it.

The Board, however, repeatedly cut off commenters who described Hamas’s actions to
underscore why they thought Superintendent Spencer should have issued a stronger statement condemning the attack: Continue reading