These soundings are short, not necessarily connected, and not in any order of importance.
(*Sounding: noun, the act of measuring the depths or the heights.)
Would Obama Have Beaten Trump?
Obama supported Hillary. “There has never been any man or woman more qualified for this office than Hillary Clinton.” (Charlotte, N.C., July 5, 2016.) “I can say with confidence there has never been a man or a woman more qualified than Hillary Clinton to serve as president of the United States of America.” (Democratic National Convention, July 28, 2016.)
Later in the campaign he declared that his legacy was at stake in this election:
My name may not be on the ballot, but our progress is on the ballot… And there is one candidate who will advance those things. And there is another candidate whose defining principal, the central theme of his candidacy is opposition to all that we have done.
There’s no such thing as a vote that doesn’t matter… It all matters. And after we have achieved historic turnout in 2008 and 2012, especially in the African-American community, I will consider it a personal insult, an insult to my legacy, if this community lets down its guard and fails to activate itself in this election. You want to give me a good send off? Go vote! [Congressional Black Caucus dinner, Sept. 17, 2016]
Obama did everything except run in the election. In an interview before his Christmas vacation in Hawaii, he told David Axelrod that, if given a chance to run for a third consecutive term, he would have beaten Trump. In making this assertion, he dissed Hillary and those who voted for her. And not to be ignored is the fact that this assertion disses Trump and those who voted for him.
What other president has said such a thing? At least before the Inauguration?
- Truman, who was eligible to run, regarding Adlai in 1952? (Unlikely since Truman withdrew after his New Hampshire primary loss.)
- Ike regarding Nixon in 1960?
- LBJ regarding Humphrey in 1968 (who, like Hillary, lost by a squeaker — against, as the Democrats would say, such a man as Nixon!)?
- Nixon regarding Ford in 1976 (well, Nixon was certainly in no position to say he would ever win again)?
- Carter, although having lost in 1980, regarding Mondale’s loss to Reagan in 1984 and regarding Dukakis’ loss to Bush the Elder in1988?
- Reagan regarding Bush the Elder in 1992?
- Clinton regarding Gore in 2000 or Kerry in 2004?
- Bush the Younger regarding McCain in 2008 or Romney in 2012?
Changing the Rules to Suit One Party
The Republican-controlled North Carolina legislature reduced the powers of the governor just prior to a Democratic governor assuming office. Fair or not fair? In the 2000s, Democrats controlled the Massachusetts legislature and twice changed the rules on the manner in which vacancies in the U.S. Senate from Massachusetts were filled. The rules were changed to help Democratic candidates. There was talk of making a third change if Hillary Clinton had named Sen. Elizabeth Warren as her running mate. As reported at Boston.com on June 8, 2016:
In 2004, the Democratic-controlled State House pushed through a bill that stripped then-Gov. Mitt Romney of his power to fill Sen. John Kerry’s seat, presumably with a fellow Republican, as the Democratic senator ran for president. The measure — to keep the seat vacant until a special election was held in 145 to 160 days — was ultimately passed with a veto-overriding two-thirds majority, despite the fact the Kerry ultimately lost to incumbent President George W. Bush.
But then in 2009, with Democrat Deval Patrick as governor, state legislators passed a bill at the behest of Sen. Ted Kennedy to give Patrick the power to choose a replacement for the terminally ill Democrat.
Planned Parenthood and the Fungibility of (Taxpayer) Money
Texas and, at the federal level, the Republican Congress, intend to defund Planned Parenthood. This is based on evidence that Planned Parenthood violated law on selling parts of fetal human beings. But on a wider scope, the question is whether Planned Parenthood, or any organization, can separate its abortion operations, that cannot be funded by federal taxpayer monies, and its other women’s health operations, that can be. Is money fungible? In 2008, Judge Richard Posner wrote for an 8-2 majority on the Seventh Circuit that the answer is yes. His opinion was in a case where Muslim charities were held liable for cash they gave to Hamas even though the money had been earmarked for humanitarian purposes. (Boim v. Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development.) That view was supported by the Second Circuit in a 2014 case, Weiss et al v. National Westminster Bank Plc. So, Congress cannot morally allow federal taxpayer money to be given to Planned Parenthood, even for its non-abortion activities, because Planned Parenthood conducts abortions and the Hyde Amendment forbids the federal funding of abortions.
On January 23, 2017, President Trump signed an Executive Order reinstating the “Mexico City Policy.” The policy was initiated by President Reagan, repealed by President Clinton, reinstated by President George W. Bush, and repealed by President Obama. It forbids the United States from giving funds to any non-governmental organization if it conducts, or promotes, abortion in any country. The rationale is the fungibility of money.
If the Nobel Prize Committee Discriminated
Vera Rubin, a female astronomer, died Christmas Day. The obituaries stated that she, the co-discoverer of dark matter, had been slighted by not being awarded a Nobel prize. Nobel prizes are never given posthumously, so she will not be receiving one. That said, people don’t do the work they do in order to obtain a Nobel prize, or indeed any prize.
If there was discrimination by the Nobel committee against Rubin because she was a woman, it was not because of discrimination against this Vassar graduate as early as the 1940s. That was Princeton which didn’t send her a catalogue describing its graduate program in astronomy because it didn’t admit women to such a program until 1975. Nor was the Nobel committee responsible for denying Dr. Rubin and other women access to telescopes until the 1960s. Nor could the members of the Nobel committees in the 1970s or 1980s who were responsible for discriminating against her early in her career when her discoveries were being published and debated. There is always a long lag time between discovery and Nobel prize.
No, if there was discrimination against Dr. Rubin because she was a woman, it was due to the members of the Nobel committees in the 1990s, 2000s, indeed as late as last year, 2016, because Dr. Rubin started receiving awards in the early 1990s.
Yes, due to her death, it’s too late for Dr. Rubin to receive a prize that only two other women have received: Marie Curie in 1903 and Maria Goeppert Mayer in 1963. Yet, the Nobel committee of 2017 can still make amends by awarding a prize to her co-discoverer, a man named W. Curtis Ford, age 86.
Susan Rice Is Unfit for Public Office
Did Susan Rice, as National Security Adviser, have nothing better to do on October 26, 2016, than to give a talk on the U.S. making LGBT rights central to its foreign policy?
Did she, as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, have nothing better to do on Sunday, September 17, 2012, than appear on five TV news talk shows to give false information about the September 11, 2012, attack in Benghazi? Aside from acting outside the scope of her job responsibilities, according to a June 2016 report, State Department employees were utterly amazed about the content of her talk show appearances.
On January 17, 2017, two days before leaving office, President Obama appointed Rice to a six-year term on the Board of Trustees of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.