Reason Roundup

Press Goes Wild Over President 'Snubbing' John McCain But Barely Blinks Over $82 Billion Boost to War Spending: Reason Roundup

Plus: Feminists fight fair application of Title IX and Bitcoin prices continue to plummet.


Cris Faga/ZUMA Press/Newscom

On Monday, President Trump signed over another $82 billion in spending for the U.S. military. This money comes in addition to the Pentagon's existing budget, mind you, bringing the Pentagon's total annual budget up to $717 billion. As Eric Boehm noted in this space yesterday, it's "a spending increase that dwarfs the entire military budgets of most other nations on Earth. Russia, for example, will spend an estimated $61 billion on its military this year. Total."

Why do we need this? And where will the money go? Those are two questions the chattering classes haven't had much interest in tackling since yesterday, as the drama between Trump and fellow reality-star-turned-White-House-worker Omarosa Manigault-Newman has commanded attention. And what interest the military budget boost has commanded has largely centered on the fact that Trump didn't thank Sen. John McCain while signing the bill into law.

Because the Arizona Republican's love for warmongering is so renowned, Congress named this particular spending increase the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act. But ever the petty bastard, Trump omitted McCain's name from the bill's title at yesterday's signing spectacle. And people. Are. Aghast.

In an especially sad sign of establisment fealty, even some journalists have been personally calling out the ommission, because we all know it's the job of the free press to see that senators get properly thanked for spending our money to do more damage overseas. "Jake Tapper thanks McCain after Trump didn't," CNN titled its particularly bootlicking segment.

And here's NBC anchor Andrea Mitchell:

Overall, the Pentagon gets to blow $700 billion in 2019. Trump called yesterday's allowance increase "the most significant increase in our military and our war-fighters in modern history," and added that "it was not very hard" to get Congress to pass it.

"Indeed, it was not very hard. Democrats are quick to condemn nearly everything Trump proposes and many Republicans are less than enamored with the current occupant of the White House, but partisan animosity vanishes when defense spending comes up," points out Boehm. "The final House vote on the NDAA…was 359-54, while the final Senate roll call was 87-10, with only two Republican senators opposing the bill and three declining to cast votes."

In a statement, McCain said he was "humbled that my colleagues in Congress chose to designate this bill in my name."


Title IX tables turn. A Title IX inquisition at New York University has found "world-renowned female professor" Avital Ronell guilty of sexually harassing Nimrod Reitman, a male graduate student who had been in one of her classes. Ronell was suspended from teaching for one year over emails exchanged with Reitman in which she called him pet names like "my most adored one," "Sweet cuddly Baby," "cock-er spaniel," and "my astounding and beautiful Nimrod," according to a Title IX report obtained by The New York Times. Reitman also accused her of kissing and touching him, texting and emailing him frequently, and forcing him to lie in her bed when they worked.

From the evidence available, it seems Ronell's actions go beyond the sort of linguistic mishaps, racy jokes, or uncomfortable subject matter that can run some university professors afoul of federal policies against sex-based discrimination in education. But according to the Times, NYU's decision to dicipline Ronell has "raised a challenge for feminists" and "roiled a corner of academia."

A letter from academics around the world testified to Ronell's character and cast aspersions on her accuser. "We testify to the grace, the keen wit, and the intellectual commitment of Professor Ronell and ask that she be accorded the dignity rightly deserved by someone of her international standing and reputation," said the letter.

The fact that Reitman is a gay man and Ronell a lesbian further complicates things, and has been used as evidence that Ronell's behavior was not sexual. But whether that's the case or not, Title IX trials seldom dwell on the intentions of an alleged harasser. In countless cases before this one, the fact that someone perceived the actions of someone else on campus as harassing has been enough to get professors and students alike booted. If folks are upset over how this case went, they should take issue with the whole Title IX farce that's been playing out on college campuses this decade.


Crypto keeps falling. The cryptocurrency market has hit a new low for the year, down 70 percent from its worth near the start of 2018. "A broad selloff in digital currencies has pushed the value of the entire market below $200 billion for the first time this year," The Wall Street Journal reports, citing a CoinMarketCap analysis. "At $191 billion on Tuesday, the total market value of cryptocurrencies world-wide is now at its lowest since November."

The worth of cryptocurrency leader Bitcoin has fallen 5 percent recently, "dropping back below $6,000 for the first time since late June," and almost 70 percent since the end of last year. Meanwhile,

Ether, the second biggest cryptocurrency by market value, tumbled 17% over the past 24 hours, falling below $300 for the first time since November. XRP, the currency offered by San Francisco startup Ripple, and Bitcoin Cash both dropped 15%. EOS fell 14%. All but two of the top 100 cryptocurrencies by market value were in the red over the past 24 hours, according to CoinMarketCap.


  • After checking to make sure there is no recorded evidence of him using racial slurs, the president wants to make it clear that he would never use racial slurs.
  • Irish police are reopening a sexual assault case brought by sex-worker rights campaigner Laura Lee, who died in February.
  • "The 'get Trump at any cost' legal posse has come up with a theory that puts not only the First Amendment at risk, but also the rights of voters to receive information about presidential and other political candidates," writes Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz.