February 20th, 2018

More reflections on the pre-shooting treatment of Nikolas Cruz

Long before Nikolas Cruz decided to shoot up the high school in Parkland from which he’d been suspended, he was known to be troubled and to have the potential for violence either to himself or others. But it’s a myth to think nothing was done. Quite a few things were done, starting when Cruz was quite young. Nevertheless, they were ineffective at preventing this crime.

The information in this post is not meant to include every intervention Cruz received; it’s just based on what I’ve read so far. Some of it may even be incorrect, as such reports often are. But although the FBI certainly failed to respond to any warnings it had received about Nikolas Cruz, the system in general had not ignored him.

By “system in general” I mean the formal systems: educational, mental health, and law enforcement. My goal here is not to defend the systems tasked with identifying and helping at-risk children and adolescents. My goal is to just introduce the facts (as best we know at this point) and let you decide.

I also believe that it is more dangerous for schools to be “gun-free zones” than to be able to have a few armed and trained people on the premises. For example, an armed guard (or two) should have been posted at all times at this particular school, given what authorities knew about the threat.

To have locked Cruz up in advance was impossible without a grave violation of civil liberties; he had committed no crime of that sort of seriousness. His acts of violence appear to have been limited to a few fights, and some threats (although there may be more that we don’t know about). If Cruz had specifically threatened a particular school, for example, that might have been actionable. But in that case he may have gotten off very lightly and the events would have played out anyway, perhaps a bit later in time.

There is also the troubling possibility that this sort of directive reclassified some offenses of Cruz as non-criminal when they might have originally gotten him charged with a crime:

Broward County used to lead the state of Florida in sending students to the state’s juvenile justice system. County leaders responded with a perfectly progressive solution: “lower arrests by not making arrests.”

Authorities agreed to treat twelve different misdemeanor offenses as school-related issues, not criminal ones. The results impressed the people who initiated the program. Arrests dropped from more than a thousand in 2011-2012 to less than four hundred just four years later.

It’s possible this affected Cruz, but we just don’t know.

What about involuntary commitment? In answer to that question I refer you to a previous post of mine from 2007, written about the Virginia Tech shooter Seung-Hui Cho, whose profile was in many ways not unlike Cruz’s. Please read that post, because most of it is relevant to the current situation.

As for Cruz’s mental health history, see this for some of what’s been reported so far.

As far as whether he was on SSRIs or other drugs, according to this report, Cruz refused to take drugs:

Five days before the shooting, Kimberly Snead [the mother of the friend with whom Cruz was living] took Cruz to the office of a therapist she has been seeing to deal with her grief over her dad’s death. Cruz said he was open to therapy [for his depression] but didn’t like medication. He took a business card and was figuring out what his health insurance would cover.

There’s also this:

Paul Gold, 45, who lived next door to the family from 2009-2010 told the New York Times that Cruz ‘had emotional problems’ and may have been ‘diagnosed with autism’.

He said he knows that Cruz was sent to a school for students with special needs at one point.

‘He had trouble controlling his temper. He broke things. He would do that sometimes at our house when he lost his temper. But he was always very apologetic afterwards,’ Gold said…

Those who knew the family say the loss of Cruz’s mother would have been difficult, since she was the only one close to him.

‘His mother was his entire life and when he lost her, I believe that was it for the boy’s peace of mind,’ Gold said.

As for the educational system, there were many many interventions; please see this extensive history. Note that when Cruz was suspended from the regular high school (the one he later attacked), he ” bounced between three alternative schools, most recently Rock Island OCLC in Oakland Park…” Alternative schools are small, and the teachers are trained in dealing with “at risk” kids. The day he became a mass murderer, Cruz was AWOL from his most recent alternative school, Rock Island OCLC.

More:

As early as 3 years old, Cruz was diagnosed as developmentally disabled, the school district documents state.

After attending Westglades Middle, he moved in February 2014 to Cross Creek, a Pompano Beach public school that offers a program for emotionally and behaviorally disabled children.

State records from the Department of Children & Families show Cruz was afflicted with a brain disorder marked by bouts of hyperactivity and a difficultly paying attention. The 2016 records also show him struggling with autism and depression.

He took medicine and had counselors who worked with him in school and at his home, the records state…

At one point, according to the 2016 state report, crisis workers from Henderson Behavioral Health, a major mental health center, were called to the high school and determined that Cruz was “not at risk to harm himself or others.”

Weekes said Henderson workers should have hospitalized Cruz at that point. He’d gotten into a fight, records show, around Sept. 20, 2016 and was suspended. A week later, the state received a report he was cutting his arms on Snapchat, a mobile application.

The Department of Children & Families, however, concluded that “no referrals or services were needed” for him.

“If someone would have caught it and acted on the red flags we not would be here today,” Weekes said. “There were tragic red flags, and they just didn’t catch them.”

DCF Secretary Mike Carroll on Saturday night issued a statement saying that mental health services and supports were in place for Cruz when the agency’s investigation closed. The state only investigates whether an adult is safe and has access to help.

There is no question that Cruz’s mother’s sudden death was likely to have been a huge emotional trigger and a large red flag, though, and something more might (or even should) have been done at that point. However, he seemed to have been taken in by some very good Samaritans who recognized his vulnerability.

It just wasn’t enough.

Also, do not discount the fact that Cruz was adopted at 2, and no one seems to know his history until that time. It may have been very traumatic, which could easily have affected him for life.

However, one thing that does seem reasonable is that Cruz shouldn’t have been allowed to purchase weapons with that history. The mechanism for that would have been what’s called a “red-flag law.” Here’s a description of how it would work:

The law also allows police to petition for the protective orders, which can require firearms to be removed for up to one year. Connecticut, Indiana, Oregon and Washington are the other states with some version of a red flag law.

More than a dozen others, including Hawaii, New Jersey and Missouri, are considering bills that would allow family members or police to petition the courts if they want weapons taken from an individual showing signs of mental distress or violence.

The Florida shooting also has revived debate about whether teachers and school administrators should have that authority as well, given that people at Cruz’s high school witnessed much of his erratic behavior.

Obviously, there are valid fears that such laws would be abused and overused. I certainly have such fears. But it may be that one of the more moderate versions of the law would be reasonable, because without such a law it would take an involuntary commitment to temporarily stop gun ownership by people who are a threat, such as Cruz certainly appeared to have been even before his crime.

Of course, that does nothing to stop the illegal possession of guns by those who are determined to do harm. Cruz most definitely might have gone the illegal route if the legal one had been closed to him (or used some other method to kill). But it would have made it more difficult, anyway.

The people who took Cruz in after his mother’s death tried their best to deal with the weapons issue and a host of other things. Please read this article about them, and afterwards ask yourself if you could have done any better.

This isn’t really about Cruz himself; this is about possible prevention of future incidents like this. In order to figure out what might have prevented something, it’s necessary to study what was actually done and didn’t prevent it. Thus, this post.

February 20th, 2018

Pennsylvania Supreme Court redraws Congressional districts

Actually, it appears that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has rubber-stamped a professor’s redrawing of Congressional districts in the state. Here’s the story:

Republicans probably just lost at least 4 or 5 seats in the House.

This afternoon, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court unveiled its remedial Congressional map for the midterm elections in November. [See Featured Image] The Supreme Court Order issuing the map is here.

According to NYT data expert Nate Cohn, the new districts are arguably more advantageous to Democrats than the ones Democratic lawmakers themselves proposed a week ago. The map was actually drawn by Nathan Persily, a Stanford professor who is frequently retained by courts to “remedy” alleged gerrymandering…

Recall that on January 22, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled—on a party-line vote—that the districts adopted by the legislature in 2011 intentionally “diluted” the votes of Democrats, in violation of the state constitution’s guarantee of “free and equal” elections. The court commissioned a new map, ordering that districts be “compact and contiguous” and avoid dividing localities. The Republican legislature was given three weeks to devise such a map and get the Democratic governor to sign off on it. If no agreement was reached, the court promised that it would adopt its own map by February 19.

The state Speaker of the House and president pro tempore of the Senate asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene. It declined to do so, with Justice Alito turning down a stay application without comment or referring it to the full court.

Chastened, the Republicans in the state legislature proposed new districts, and even though no one denied that their map conformed to the court’s neutral geographic indices, analysts determined that Republicans still intended for the map to help their party. Governor Tom Wolf rejected the proposal.

FiveThirtyEight elections expert Dave Wasserman explains that the court’s remedial map intentionally compensates for Democratic clustering in urban precincts.

The Supreme Court earlier declined to hear the case.

According to the NY Times (and in my opinion, this is the heart of the matter):

In general, partisan balance is not usually a goal when redistricting. You could certainly argue that partisan balance and maximizing the number of competitive districts should be among the criteria, but, in general, they are not. Instead, a nonpartisan map usually means a partisan-blind map. It strives for compact districts that respect communities of interest, with little regard for the partisan outcome.

…a partisan-blind map will tend to favor the Republicans by a notable amount.

That’s because Deomcrats tend to cluster in certain areas.

Gerrymandering is an old political tool, but ordinarily it refers to drawing very weird boundaries that defy logic except the logic of political partisanship. In other words, maps are drawn in very strange ways to create advantages for the winning party, who gets to draw them at certain times (usually according to the powers given the legislature by a state constitution). This is “fair” in the sense that to the winner belongs the spoils, and if a party wants to get to draw new districts it has to win. Either party can (and does!) do it when it is victorious.

The courts seem increasingly unhappy with that admittedly imperfect solution. One would think that the fix would be to draw districts with more normal lines—in other words, just as the Times states, a “partisan-blind map…striv[ing] for compact districts that respect communities of interest, with little regard for the partisan outcome.”

But, as the Times also points out, that tends to favor Republicans because of the Democratic-clustering effect. So, “partisan balance” had become a goal. This to me smacks of the judiciary taking over the function of a legislature—but hey, the judiciary has gotten more and more powerful in recent decades, hasn’t it?

That will be the basis of a GOP appeal:

Republicans say they’ll go to federal court this week to try to block new court-ordered boundaries of Pennsylvania’s congressional districts from remaining in effect for 2018’s elections.

Top Senate Republican lawyer Drew Crompton said Monday a separation of powers case will form the essence of the GOP’s argument. Crompton won’t say whether Republicans will go to a district court or the U.S. Supreme Court or what type of legal remedy they’ll seek.

But the case will involve making the argument the U.S. Constitution gives state legislatures and governors, not courts, the power to draw congressional boundaries.

In my opinion, the outcome will depend on the political composition of the court in which the appeal is filed. Courts are almost always politically predictable these days. The original Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling establishing this was along straight political lines, as well.

February 20th, 2018

I will not…

…blog about Fergie’s anthem singing.

I will not blog about Fergie’s anthem singing.

I will not blog about Fergie’s anthem singing…

…although it seems everybody else is.

I will be strong, I will hang tough on this.

I will not even link.

February 19th, 2018

Keep reading Andrew McCarthy

Another highly recommended article by Andrew C. McCarthy. Here are a couple of excerpts:

Mueller’s allegations will never be tested in court. That makes his indictment more a political statement than a charging instrument…

Obviously, if there were strong evidence that Americans had aided and abetted our foreign adversaries in their hostile acts, it would be essential to prosecute them. My objection has been that a special counsel was assigned despite the absence of strong evidence that crimes were committed by Trump-campaign figures…

There are reasons besides ineffectiveness to be concerned about turning this diplomatic dispute into a criminal-justice issue.

This is a dangerous game to play…

Do we really want to signal that we see such agitation-by-information as an indictable crime, in response to which the affected government should issue arrest warrants that will inevitably make it risky for Americans to travel outside the U.S.?

Remember, we are talking here about a case in which Russia’s campaign, despite its energy and funding, was a drop in the ocean of American campaign spending and messaging. It barely registered. It had no impact. And, again, the indictment that has been filed is a gesture that will result in no prosecutions. Is it really worth opening this can of worms?…

In reality, what happened here could not be more patent: The Kremlin hoped to sow discord in our society and thus paralyze our government’s capacity to pursue American interests. The Russian strategy was to stir up the resentments of sizable losing factions. It is not that Putin wanted Trump to win; it is that Putin figured Trump was going to lose…The palpable goal was to promote dysfunction…

That should be the upshot of coverage of the indictment. Instead, it’s the usual cherry-picking to bolster our partisan arguments. For example, in its aforementioned report, the New York Times rejects out of hand the president’s matter-of-fact observation that because Russia’s “anti-U.S. campaign” started long before Trump announced his candidacy, the indictment cuts against the narrative of Trump–Russia collusion. The Times counters: “Mr. Trump’s statement ignored the government’s conclusion that, by 2016, the Russians were ‘supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J. Trump’ and disparaging Hillary Clinton, his opponent.” The Gray Lady is then off to the races, framing Mueller’s indictment as confirming “a startling example — unprecedented in its scope and audacity — of a foreign government working to help elect an American president.”

And so it goes.

We don’t have collusion. We have division. And we have an adversary that thrives on our division.

Absolutely.

And Trump, of all people (or someone Tweeting for him) says as much:

I agree that they are almost certainly laughing their asses off. I might add that they are also probably high-fiving each other and swilling down multiple toasts of vodka. It was a very small investment with a very large return.

I had made a draft for my own post fisking the Times’ partisan and distorting coverage of the Rosenstein announcement, but I tired of writing the same old same old and never published it. McCarthy does it more succinctly than I, and he understands the law and the politics better than just about anyone imaginable.

February 19th, 2018

What to do about Cruz and the FBI?

Yes, the FBI screwed up in dealing with the Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz before the murders were committed, according to its own protocols for investigating the sort of tips and warnings it received about Cruz from several sources.

This is completely unacceptable and an outrage. The FBI will be investigating its own error, but I wonder at this point if anyone has faith in the investigation, either. Between the Fusion/FISA fiasco and this, it’s hard to see why a person should.

But that is a separate issue from what would have actually happened if the FBI had followed its own rules and investigated Cruz. I have my doubts that anything whatsoever would have happened. The details might have been different—for example, had Cruz actually been found to have made a credible and actual threat to shoot up the school, such as this girl who was arrested for a school threat after the Parkland shooting, how long would he have been incarcerated and/or treated, and would it have been effective?

I believe the answers are probably “not long,” and “no.” There are limits to our ability to help someone as deeply troubled as Cruz, and limits to our ability to lock up someone dangerous who hasn’t yet done anything except threaten. I’ve written about these limitations before and we’ve had some lengthy discussions on the subject: see this, for example.

Here’s the story on the girl:

An 11-year-old girl has been arrested in Florida after writing a note saying she would shoot a middle school – just a day after the deadly school shooting which killed 17 people.

Davie Police claim the girl placed a handwritten note under the assistant principal’s office door at Nova Middle School a day after the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The two schools are just a 30 minute drive apart.

The note reads: ‘I will bring a gun to school to kill all you ugly a** kids and teachers b****. I will bring the gun Feb. 16, 18. Be prepared B****.’

Cruz never wrote a note (as far as I know), but he did leave a message at a YouTube video; however, it was quite nonspecific and general.

I don’t have time right now to go back and find all the cites for what I’m about to say, but shortly after the shootings in Parkland I read up on Cruz’s history. There’s a lot of misinformation out there and it’s difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff, but it’s my distinct impression that he had quite a bit of intervention of the mental health and educational sort. For example, he had been under treatment for a while but no longer was. He had attended a special school for at-risk youth after his suspension from the regular high school. His mother had called the police to the house countless times, and they talked to him. He was apparently investigated by “sheriff’s deputies and adult welfare investigators from the Department of Children & Family Services” because he posted a video about cutting himself and wanting to buy a gun.

I have no idea what actually happened as a result of all of this. Nor does any of it change the fact that the FBI was probably negligent—shockingly so—in its own treatment (rather, non-treatment) of Cruz’s case.

What a horrible, tragic mess.

February 19th, 2018

I think all of you will be happy to hear…

…that through sheer driven bulldog pursuit, I managed to come up with some code (and where to put it) that changed the font in the compose comments box of the new blog.

That awful hideous Courier is no more! Now the font is quite pleasant, the better to read what you’re writing as you’re writing it.

Those of you who never commented at the new blog and don’t know what I’m talking about should still be happy, because it’s a big improvement. But you’ll just have to take my word for it.

Methinks I’m getting a little bit OCD about this.

February 18th, 2018

More questions for you all about changes on the new blog format

Quite a few people requested a sans serif font. The theme doesn’t give me access to all fonts, but of the ones from which I had to choose, I selected what I think is the best sans serif font and put it up there. So, what do you think? Is it an improvement?

The line length got a bit longer when I changed the font, but not enough to cause a problem in my opinion. What do you think?

The font is 16, by the way, which is the recommended general font for webpages. Some people have said it’s really big for them, but I’m not sure why since that’s not the case when I look at it on my different modalities, including several browsers.

However, I noticed that (at least on my screen) it’s considerably darker in Firefox than in Chrome. Does anyone else get that effect? Is it too light or too dark when you view it, or is it more or less a good balance of dark and light?

I added links on post pages for forward and back to the next post or previous post, because some people thought that would be good. I used titles of posts rather than “previous” and “next,” because I think titles give you more information. What do you think?

After I have the blog content transferred, the old URL neoneocon.com will (hopefully!) redirect to thenewneo.com, so either URL should work to take you to the new blog. The old one will go into hibernation.

February 17th, 2018

Update on the new blog

[BUMPED UP]

I still have it open for public viewing and comments.

At the moment, I’m keeping the “NEO” on the header photo as is, and keeping the comments non-nested. These are things I can always change in the future if needed—because now, as a result of my labors, I know how.

You’ll be happy to know that I managed to add some code (!!) that increased the font in the box where you compose comments. I, who am ordinarily extremely afraid of changing code, managed to do this with the help of the Weaver Support Forum (“Weaver” is the name of the theme I chose), which—unlike most support forums I’ve known—seems to feature people who (a) know what they’re talking about, and (b) actually answer in a timely fashion. Bravo on that, Weaver!

I also put a box around each post so that each one is delineated from the other. I don’t like the look; I think it spoils the simple lines of the blog. But I thought I’d leave it up there at least for today and get your opinions about it, pro or con. [UPDATE: and commenter “ambisinistral” kindly helped me eliminate the sides and top of the box and leave just a line on the bottom.]

Unfortunately, though, the “comment preview” plugin doesn’t seem compatible with the new theme and the new version. Although I tried a couple of other comment preview plugins, they were old and weren’t compatible either. But now that the blog has a nifty “comment edit” feature, I’m not sure anyone cares so much about the preview anymore. I’d rather have both, and I’ll keep trying, but it may not be possible.

Any other suggestions?

February 17th, 2018

13 Russians indicted

I’ve known about Russian internet political interference ever since I started blogging. Doesn’t everyone? Unless the FBI and the DOJ have been living under a rock (one wonders sometimes), they must have known about it, too.

And that’s just the online interference. The interference itself goes back, way way back before the internet existed. This is just an internet version of tons of stuff that went on during the Cold War and that goes on today.

That’s one of the reasons Obama’s debate with Romney, in which the president disdainfully pooh-poohed Romney’s characterization of Russia as our greatest geopolitical foe, was so very offensive. Obama was/is either an ignorant fool or pretending to be one about that, and the media just played right along with him as was/is their wont:

So now we have Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein’s announcement that 13 Russians have been indicted for fraud. The text of the indictment can be found here, and it makes for interesting reading.

My first question is: wasn’t this sort of activity by the Russians being monitored right along? And if so, why not more effectively? And if not, why not? It wasn’t rocket science to figure out this type of thing could and would be happening.

Roger Simon answers the question by saying it was the Obama administration in charge at the time (the indictment indicates the operation in question began in the spring of 2014). But surely, if the Russians were trying to hurt Clinton’s election chances, Obama had a stake in stopping them because his “legacy” depended on her ascending to power.

It’s been pointed out that the indictment itself is rather strange. John Hinderaker writes that the Russians “obviously” violated “52 U.S.C. §30121, which covers ‘meddling’ in U.S. elections by foreign nationals.” And yet they were not indicted for that; they were indicted for fraud against the US. It’s somewhat academic because they won’t be extradited and will never stand trial, but Hinderaker thinks the odd charging is for the purpose of protecting Christopher Steele:

I don’t doubt that election lawyers could come up with defenses for Christopher Steele, were he to be charged with violating §30121. But that is a can of worms that Mueller didn’t want to open. Too many people know the facts behind the Steele dossier, and if he had charged the Russians with meddling in the presidential election under §30121, he soon would have faced questions about why he didn’t indict Steele–and Glenn Simpson, Perkins, Coie, Clinton campaign officials, and perhaps Clinton–for the same offense.

The text of the indictment makes it very clear what the Russians were trying to do: “sow discord in the American political system.” They attacked candidates of different stripes (Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz), urged black people to sit home rather than vote, promoted Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, and after the election turned on Trump and organized some rallies for that purpose.

From the beginning, the goals had nothing to do with favoring Trump over anyone. The operation began in April of 2014, and the goal included interfering with the 2016 election to encourage “distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general.” Trump (and Sanders) was merely a vehicle to do that. He was clearly the most disruptive and chaotic candidate of all, and his elevation was perfect for the Russians—not because of any collusion and quid pro quo, but because he embodied disruption. And Hillary was ripe for the taking—her history and reputation made her a perfect target. The combination must have been well-nigh irresistible to the Russians—but not because they were afraid of her as president and wanted to discourage her candidacy for that reason. They wanted the most negative, divisive, chaotic situation possible, the better to deal with their great geopolitical foe, the United States.

February 17th, 2018

I denounce myself

[NOTE: If it’s not clear what Ammogrrrll’s post and my rejoinder are referring to, please see this.]

I confess.

I stole and ate Ammogrrrll’s Key Lime Pie, even though I wrote an email to myself saying I didn’t.

But I never touched the brownies. Honest. I can’t eat chocolate because I get migraines.

And the strawberries? That wasn’t me, either [emphasis mine]:

I know exactly what he’d tell you, lies. He was no different from any other officer in the ward room, they were all disloyal. I tried to run the ship properly, by the book, but they fought me at every turn. The crew wanted to walk around with their shirt tails hanging out, that’s all right, let them. Take the tow line, defective equipment, no more, no less. But they encouraged the crew to go around scoffing at me, and spreading wild rumors about steaming in circles and then old yellow strain. I was to blame for Lt. Maryk’s incompetence and poor seamanship. Lt. Maryk was the perfect officer, but not Captain Queeg. Ah, but the strawberries, that’s, that’s where I had them, they laughed at me and made jokes, but I proved beyond the shadow of a doubt, and with geometric logic, that a duplicate key to the ward room icebox did exist, and I’ve had produced that key if they hadn’t pulled the Caine out of action. I, I know now they were only trying to protect some fellow officer. … Naturally, I can only cover these things from memory. If I left anything out, why, just ask me specific questions and I’ll be glad to answer them, one by one.

February 16th, 2018

The problem with articles like Ronan Farrow’s about Trump’s alleged affair…

…is that it apparently assumes we care.

I haven’t read the article and I do not know the details except what I’ve read in a couple of summaries, nor do I have a clue if the allegations in it are true—of an affair in 2006 and a coverup.

But life is short and I have no interest in reading it, so I’ll just stipulate for the sake of argument that it’s all true, and that Trump has had multiple affairs of this sort all his life and engaged in various machinations to cover them up. We certainly know about some of them (Marla Maples, anyone?) and have known for many, many years.

I didn’t care then. If there’s a way to care in negative numbers, that’s how little I cared. Donald Trump mattered not one whit to me and I didn’t waste any time thinking about him.

Well, that last part of the sentence—that I haven’t wasted time thinking about him—is no longer true, is it? I’ve spent a great deal of the last year and a half learning, thinking, and writing about that very same person—Donald Trump—for the simple reason that his run for the presidency upended a race I thought was the GOP’s for the taking, and then in a shocker on Election Night he surprised me by winning the whole shebang. Since then, it’s been fascinating to follow his actions as president and watch the reactions of the Democrats, the Never-Trumpers, the people of the USA, and the world.

But despite all those changes, one thing remains: I have zero interest in Trump’s sexual affairs. That is for two reasons. The first is that this is part and parcel of what we—the American voters—already knew about Trump. It has been factored in. I feel sorry for his wife and particularly for his son, but the women with whom Trump allegedly had affairs, the left, Ronan Farrow, and the New Yorker, have bigger and (in their eyes) more important fish to fry by publicizing such information.

The second reason I don’t care is that I don’t care about politicians’ affairs in general, as long as they are with consenting adults, don’t involve shady shadowy spy- or blackmail-type figures, and the players don’t do it in the street and frighten the horses.

And I am consistent. I didn’t care about Bill Clinton’s affairs, either. If he was abusing or raping women then I would care, of course. But I am skeptical about those claims for various reasons (I’ve written about the Broaddrick claims here and here, and somewhere I have notes about the inconsistencies in Paula Jones’ story, although I do think they had a sexual relationship of some sort). And I am consistently skeptical about rape/abuse claims about anyone unless and until proven, although of course I know they might be true and I have empathy for victims.

However, if there’s anyone on earth surprised at this sort of tale about Trump, that person has been living in a cave on the moon. Or maybe on Pluto.

People trying to harm Trump through these reports are handicapped by the fact that most of the public is fully inoculated against caring or being surprised. If it were my husband of course I would care. But the American public isn’t in a marital relationship with Trump. The days when we expected sexual morality and fidelity from our presidents, or the appearance of it, are long gone.

At least—unlike a lot of people, particularly in the press—I’ve been consistent in my position about politicians and extramarital sex. The press certainly hasn’t been consistent, nor have a lot of political partisans. Now the Democrats are dumping Bill Clinton, but that’s only because he and Hillary are very yesterday and have fulfilled their purpose, and dumping him might help them electorally and bolster their self-righteous pose of sincerity.

February 16th, 2018

The new blog site: an unveiling

[BUMPED UP: For a few days, I plan to bump this post up. Scroll down for new posts.]

UPDATE: In accord with a few suggestions and my own perceptions, I made the font of the new site a bit bigger and widened the right margin on the main column of text. This combination has the effect of making the lines a bit shorter, which is what I wanted. The original theme had over 20 words in a line, which seemed excessive and eye-tiring to me. With those tweaks, it has between 12 and 15 words per line, which seems good and is only a word or two more per line than my old site. Of course, since the theme is “responsive” on cellphones and the like, the line length will shorten further on a cellphone.]

I’d like you all to visit the new site and poke around. It’s a dummy site because I haven’t transferred the real content yet. But it’s got some sample posts and I’ve put some comments there as well (mostly on one post entitled “Longer test post”).

I don’t have all the bells and whistles up there yet, but I think I have most of them. For example, in the photo I might add “The New Neo” rather than just “Neo,” which is the way it is now.

I ordinarily have an “under construction” sign on the new site while I’ve been working on it, but I took the sign down for now so I could direct you to it. At the bottom of the right sidebar are some extra Amazon widgets; ignore them for now, they won’t remain there.

I’d like you to tell me what you think. You can even make suggestions and I might even respond, although I make no promises.

In a short while I plan to transfer the content and make this URL redirect to that one, so you can use either URL and don’t have to change your old bookmarks. One of the main reasons I want to change over is that the name “neocon” has led to misunderstandings and also that I’m not such a “new” conservative, although I want to keep “neo” because that’s become my nickname. I was also limited in the URLs that were available, but I thought the one I chose expresses the idea, keeps enough of my old identity, and is simple and easy to remember.

Another reason for the change is a very technical one. My theme is very old and outdated and almost impossible for me to tweak for various reasons. New ones are more versatile, and now that I’ve sort of learned the ropes of setting up the blog myself (rather than having someone else do it for me) I should be able to make more changes myself as other possibilities or problems crop up. With the old theme, it’s hard or impossible for me to do that. The new themes are also what’s called “responsive,” which means they display on a tablet or cellphone in a way that’s more user-friendly and automatically adjusts to fit the instrument being viewed. These days a great many people view blogs on tablets or cells, so that helps.

If you have a moment, I’d like for you to view it on as many screens as possible: desktop, laptop, tablet, cell, whatever you might be inclined to use from time to time. Let me know how well it works on all of them.

Here are some questions for you, but feel free to comment in any way you’d like. You can even comment on the new blog:

(1) Do you like the darkness of the main text?

(2) On the photo, is the minimalist “Neo” good, or would “The New Neo” be better?

(4) The theme has the ability to have nested or non-nested comments. Right now I’ve set it so that they are not nested. Is that your preference?

(5) Right now the comments have double timestamps. This is a glitch I am trying to fix. It occurred because the original theme (and all new WordPress themes, as far as I can see) has the date on posts but no timestamp, and I wanted to add one. I got instructions on how to add timestamps successfully to posts. But it turned out that that operation also affected the comments, which already had had timestamps. The new instructions added one to the comments, too, so now there are two timestamps on each comment. I’m trying to eliminate that problem and keep the timestamps for the posts, but if I can’t, I’ll have to take out the timestamps for the posts in order to eliminate the doublt timestamps on the comments. That’s complicated, but the question is: do you care if there are timestamps on posts or not? The dates will remain, and timestamps on comments will remain.

(6) I put a “like” button on comments. You can see if it works properly.

(7) Do you like fonts and colors and that sort of thing?

(8) When you write a comment there’s a box you can check for email notification of follow up comments or new posts. Is that an option you want, or do you think it should be removed? I can probably figure out a way to remove it.

(9) I can add an option for people to use Facebook or other social media outlets in order to comment. It won’t eliminate the regular way to comment. Is this desirable?

(10) On the first post there, I have put two versions of the same video. In the comments afterwards, you can say which one you prefer.

Thanks, and enjoy!

About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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