Bernie voters go limp in Wisconsin


Put the two stories together and you see the problem.

As The Washington Post reported last Wednesday, perhaps 15 percent of Bernie Sanders’ backers in the recent Wisconsin primary neglected to vote in any races other than the one starring Him.  (By contrast, only 4 percent of Hillary Clinton supporters failed to vote in other races on the ballot.)

One of those contests involved choosing a Wisconsin Supreme Court justice. The progressive JoAnne Kloppenburg had a good chance of toppling Rebecca Bradley, a right-wing appointee of Gov. Scott Walker.  Had more members of the Sanders fan club bothered with the down-ballot races, Kloppenburg could very well have won.

Lo and behold . . .

three days after the Wisconsin primary, this headline appears on a story in the New York Times:

In Victory for Unions, Law on Dues is Struck Down in Wisconsin.

That victory will probably short-lived because the matter will go to a “sharply divided State Supreme Court.”  The Court is now even more likely to strike down a pro-union lower court ruling  — in good part because Kloppenburg will not be on it.

Sanders can’t directly take the rap for this.  He had endorsed Kloppenburg.…

On security, Americans look competent — in politics, crazy

conflict between U.S. competence on security and fighting on Republican side
Republican politics


One of my columns last week notes how unprepared, disordered and lazy Europeans had become in confronting the terrorist threat — as opposed to post-9/11 Americans.

And how the competent side of our national split-screen contrasts with the other juvenile side, the playground fight between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, frontrunners for a major party’s nomination.

To sum up the difference between and Europe:

So on one side of the Great American Jumbotron is political humiliation. On the other, government readiness. Over there, the screen is entirely grim.

To read more:





Why I love Texas, too


Froma Harrop in Dallas Cowboys cheerleader locker room
Closest I’ll ever get

Brava, Mimi Swartz, for her Why Texas is Deep in My Heart in The New York Times.

Like you, I’m an urban liberal.  Unlike you, I’m not a native or even part-time Texan.  But I share your affection for a state that to progressive ears often sounds insane, if not dangerous.

The out-there elements are out there, for sure.  But they’re not running the show for the rest of us– and certainly not in my experience. I go to Texas often for pleasure as well as business.

Friendly folks really say “howdy” as they pass on the sidewalks, of which there are some. (You do know that the big cities are totally cosmopolitan, each with a walkable neighborhood or two. Right?)


The big-sky landscapes are gorgeous, if you’re not a prisoner of the coastal mountain/ocean esthetic. Here’s a picture of me in the middle of a spring bluebell extravaganza:

Froma Harrop in Chappell Hill, Texas
Chappell Hill, Texas

The biggest kick of visiting Texas is seeing people having unselfconscious fun. Celebrating his birthday at a chain restaurant near my Houston motel a middle aged man stood up on the table and lustily sang, “The Old Gray Mare (he ain’t what …

FBI v Apple phone hacking fight is not a video game


Unfortunate quote of the day:

The Wall Street Journal quotes Chris Soghoian, principal technologist at the American Civil Liberties Union:

does the FBI prioritize its own surveillance needs, or does it prioritize cybersecurity.

Gosh, some of us were under the impression that the FBI’s surveillance needs are the nation’s.  It’s as though unlocking a terrorist’s cellphone were some video game between a federal agency and Apple.

Bonus unfortunate quote:


(by) stockpiling vulnerabilities, and not reporting them, the U.S. government risks angering firms that it regularly goes to seeking voluntary help.

And to think how helpful they’ve been so far.





Suppose you threw a primary and few cared?

The West comes last in primary/caucus action
The West comes last in primary/caucus action



It’s not quite true that nobody cares what happens in today’s Arizona, Utah and Idaho primaries.  A mediocre performance by Cruz in Utah, for example, could greatly handicap his prospects for stopping Trump.

However, these voters are for the most part checking into a nominating process that’s already in its final acts.  There’s a “prohibitive frontrunner” on the Democratic side and a way-ahead candidate on the Republican.

Primary and caucus participants no longer have the option of voting for Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio or Martin O’Malley — candidates who have dropped out.

Arizona’s polls close at 10 p.m.  Mountain Time, when East Coast political analysts are in bed or headed there.  In Utah, online voting for Republicans ends at 1 a.m. Mountain Time on Wednesday, an hour or two before the most ambitious East Coast commentators wake up.

And, of course, California, Oregon and Washington State have yet to vote at all.



Brussels and Apple

Brussels: Terrorist target.
Brussels: Terrorist target.


Apple had a small window of opportunity to make its insupportable case that it had no obligation to crack a terrorist’s iPhone, even when the FBI presented it with a warrant.

The phone in this case belonged to the dead San Bernardino gunman, Syed Rizwan Farook.

An earlier column goes over the legal issues.

Two things happened today that do not bode well for Apple.

First and foremost is the terrorist massacre in Brussels.  That refreshes everyone’s understanding of why law enforcement must be able to get past the encryption on suspects’ cell phones. Information contained there could shed light on terrorist cells.

The second thing is the Justice Department’s announcement that it may not need Apple’s help after all.  It may have found a third party able to break into Farook’s phone. That would mean that Apple can’t guarantee the absolute security of its iPhones, after all.

(I brought up this scenario last weekend on Rhode Island PBS’s A Lively Experiment.)

Wouldn’t Apple have been better off helping the FBI crack a terrorist’s cell phone in its own labs?  The company would not have put itself in the position of defending a terrorist’s …

The Shunning of the West


no primaries on west coast
The candidates seem set without asking anyone on the West Coast.

It’s amazing, our way of choosing presidents.  The Democrats already have a “prohibitive frontrunner” and Republicans a candidate who seems unstoppable by primaries and caucuses alone — and not a single person has yet to vote on the West Coast.

That’s California, Washington and Oregon — 50-plus million Americans!

How the West Was Shunned in Primary Politics




To Trump rally disrupters: You can’t take ring away from P.T. Barnum


Trump the ringmaster
Trump the ringmaster



It’s not easy to turn Donald Trump into an object of sympathy, but the hotheads disrupting his rallies are pulling it off.  They’re also adding spectacle to the Trump stage.

While the disrupters may see their invasions as a brave effort to stop a frightening, divisive political force, others see privileged college kids stomping on someone’s right to free speech.

The optics of Trump under physical attack — and the little people supporting him treated with contempt — move the focus away from the bombast Trump is peddling.

These are Bernie people doing harm to Bernie’s prospects.  Sanders has distanced his campaign from their antics, but perhaps not far enough.

When it comes to creating spectacle, you really can’t beat PT Barnum at his game.







Dress codes are the opposite of sexist


Rest assured, the Daily News knows cheesecake from collarbones
Rest assured, the Daily News knows cheesecake from collarbone


There’s something truly perverse in arguing that high-school dress codes are a sexist attack on female students. What they do is stop the girls from self-objectifying.  Require uniforms for both the boys and girls, I say, and get everyone’s mind on algebra.

Now, sometimes a dress code will go astray, perhaps coming down overly hard on girls who show a knee.  And they should never become an excuse for school administrators to publicly humiliate an offender.

But it’s dopey to argue that boys ogling at a girl’s tight T-shirt are harassers.  It’s even dopier to deny that many female code violators dress provocatively precisely to attract that attention.

My column on the subject:




Famous quack as ‘health expert’ in NYT


King of dietary BS

I did a double-take on reading a thinly veiled promo for a diet book by a famed quack in our newspaper of reckless record.  It took the form of a serious interview in The New York Times’ Well column.

Here was Dr. Mark Hyman, spreader of the dangerous and debunked theory that vaccinations may cause autism in children, now holding forth on the benefits of fat in diets.  Some of us may need more fat in our diet, but can’t we consult another doctor?

Dr. Hyman was the author of such diet-book hustles as “Ultrametabolism: The Simple Plan for Automatic Weight Loss” and “Ultraprevention: The 6-Week Plan That Will Make You Healthy for Life.”

“Ultraprevention” made Quackwatch’s list of non-recommended books.

Don’t they have Google at the Times?