The Ross Report for Monday, February 27: Judge Wapner, RIP; Dark Night movie; Transgender boy wins girls' wrestling title; Tom Perez takes over RNC; Trump and Pence at CPAC; The division of a nation

On Friday night, I went to the movies with two listeners, Keith and Audrey, to see "Dark Night", a film inspired (if you can use that word in these circumstances) by the Aurora theater shooting. Keith and Audrey and I will talk about our reactions to the film at 7:20 AM and 9:20 AM. I think I hated it a lot more than either Keith or Audrey did. I found it pretentious and boring. For the record, during this movie nobody gets shot. Also for the record, in part because of comments by some listeners, I was carrying a concealed weapon on Friday evening, the only time I've ever done so at the movies.


TV lost a legend and a pioneer this weekend with the passing at the age of 97 of Judge Joseph Wapner, a former Los Angeles municipal and superior court judge who became the star of the genre-creating show "The Peoples Court". Beginning in 1981, Wapner heard cases for 12 seasons and nearly 2,500 episodes, and was a staple in the TV diet of millions of Americans. Every judge on every similar show today owes his or her job to Judge Wapner's ability to show that that type of show could be a success.

The Rocket Fizz Soda and Candy Shop Company actually created a Judge Wapner Root Beer with a label saying “I sentence you to drink my root beer.” 


The Democratic Party selected Tom Perez to be the next DNC Chairman. He's only slightly less good for the Republican Party than the Democrats' other choices, Keith Ellison and this loony-toon from Idaho


The left is going crazy with a story that White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus asked the FBI to tell reporters that stories about Trump campaign associates having ongoing contacts with Russian intelligence agents isn't true. What they're not reporting, or else reporting late into any article on the topic, is that the story actually seems to be that one of the most senior members of the FBI actually approached Priebus first to tell him that the FBI viewed the story as bogus. Furthermore, according to Priebus, the FBI gave him permission to say publicly that they believe the claims are unfounded. It's not unreasonable at that point for Priebus to ask the FBI if they'd say the same thing in public as in private. 


A transgender boy -- born a girl but taking hormones to become a boy -- was forced by Texas athletics rules to compete as a girl and won the girls' state championship after an undefeated season. The student, Mack (Mackenzie) Beggs, has said (s)he would prefer to wrestle boys. To me, purely from the athletic competition perspective, this is allowing the use of performance enhancing drugs. The group which enforces these rules is pointing the finger at state law. It's possible that lawmakers will make a change that might make Mack Beggs ineligible to wrestle as either a girl or a boy next year.


I'm not going to spend a lot of time talking about it, but Donald Trump addressed CPAC on Friday. More of the same from him. One thing that I found particularly interesting is how much more boisterous cheering Mike Pence received the day before. I didn't see all of CPAC, but I thought the conversation with Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus was particularly interesting.

Trump was the first president since Ronald Reagan in 1981 to address CPAC during his first year in office. He will also be the first president since Ronald Reagan in 1981 to skip the annual White House Correspondents Dinner, an event which, as NPR put it, "was already unraveling" before the announcement. For the record, Reagan missed the event because he was recovering after being shot by John Hinckley a few weeks earlier.


Today's Ross Report:

When the host of the Oscars mentions that the country is divided, I suppose that means it’s something everybody already knows. More importantly, I think it’s something that everybody already feels.

Politicians of all stripes, though more on the left than on the right, engage in identity politics, trying to appeal to voters based on our supposed membership in some group, whether something obvious such as skin color or national origin, or less obvious traits such as views about immigrants or whether America is already great.

Right now, even our two major political parties are not just more divided from each other than ever, but more divided within themselves. The Democrats are a political Humpty Dumpty, and new DNC Chairman Tom Perez is going to try to put it back together again. But with millions of Democrats believing that the party needs to move further left to thrive, I don’t know whether Perez can succeed.

The Republican Party, as I write in my article for the American Spectator today, appears unified, but it’s fragile unity based not only on some intersection of economic goals between populists and Reagan conservatives, but also on the simple fact that Donald Trump is not Hillary Clinton. It remains to be seen whether the GOP also falls off the political wall.

It’s hard for me to compliment Hollywood celebrities’ pronouncements on politics, but I appreciated Jimmy Kimmel’s encouragement to all of us to have even one polite conversation with one person we disagree with, not as liberals or conservatives, but as Americans. It’s not going to heal the nation by itself, but it’s a great first step, if only to remind us not to let the politicians win office by making us despise each other.

The Ross Kaminsky Show

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