Patterico's Pontifications

8/8/2020

Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:46 am



[guest post by Dana]

Here are a few news items to chew on. Feel free to include any of your own items in the comments. Please include links.

First news item

Only “narrowly defeated,” even now?:

Joe Arpaio on Friday was narrowly defeated in his bid to win back the sheriff’s post in metro Phoenix that he held for 24 years before being voted out in 2016 amid voter frustrations over his taxpayer-funded legal bills, his penchant for self-promotion and a defiant streak that led to his now-pardoned criminal conviction.

Arpaio lost the Republican primary for Maricopa County sheriff to his former top aide, Jerry Sheridan. In the Nov. 3 general election, Sheridan will face Democrat Paul Penzone, who unseated Arpaio four years ago.

Second news item

He should know – you reap what you sow :

erry Falwell Jr. took an indefinite leave of absence Friday as the leader of Liberty University, one of the nation’s top evangelical Christian colleges, days after apologizing for a social media post that caused an uproar even among fellow conservatives.

The private university in Lynchburg, Virginia, gave no reason for Falwell’s departure in a one-sentence announcement Friday afternoon. But it came after Falwell’s apology earlier this week for a since-deleted photo he posted online showing him with his pants unzipped, stomach exposed and his arm around a young woman in a similar pose.

The statement said the executive committee of Liberty’s board of trustees, acting on behalf of the full board, met Friday and requested Falwell take leave as president and chancellor, “to which he has agreed, effective immediately.”

Third news item

Abolish the police in Seattle? ?It all depends on who you ask:

Some even call for “abolishing the police” altogether and closing down precincts, which is what happened in Seattle.

That has left small-business owners as lonely voices in progressive areas, arguing that police officers are necessary and that cities cannot function without a robust public safety presence. In Minneapolis, Seattle and Portland, Ore., many of those business owners consider themselves progressive, and in interviews they express support for the Black Lives Matter movement. But they also worry that their businesses, already debilitated by the coronavirus pandemic, will struggle to survive if police departments and city governments cannot protect them.

On Capitol Hill, business crashed as the Seattle police refused to respond to calls to the area. Officers did not retake the region until July 1, after four shootings, including two fatal ones.

Fourth news item

NBA is still about profit over human rights, no matter what their nifty jerseys have printed on them:

Amid all the preaching, would someone make a peep about a country that commits more human rights abuses in 10 minutes than the U.S. does in 10 years?

Don’t press your ears against the NBA’s bubble waiting for an answer.

The league officially declared it has no soul in October, when Houston general manager Daryl Morey sent one measly tweet supporting the democracy protests in Hong Kong.

The Chinese Communist Party started pulling NBA games off TV and merchandise off shelves. With its multibillion-dollar relationship threatened, the NBA quickly bowed in subservience and sent Morey to re-education camp.

Since then, the NBA has stayed mum as China ransacked all rights in Hong Kong, unleashed COVID-19 on the world and herded countless more Uighur Muslims onto trains bound for slave labor camps.

When asked to explain why its moral outrage ends at the water’s edge, the NBA says it can’t involve itself in every little human rights abuse on the planet. But the entire Basketball-Industrial Complex is eyeball deep in China.

Fifth news item

Emotional overdrive, rather than steadfast commitment to First Amendment is de rigueur at too many institutions of higher learning:

A student at Stockton University is facing disciplinary charges for a political Facebook post and making his Zoom background a photo of President Donald Trump during class, causing other students to feel “taunted.” Today, with the help of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, he’s fighting back.

Doctoral student Robert Dailyda used a photo of the president as his Zoom background during a July 1 virtual class, prompting complaints from other students in a private GroupMe chat after class. Dailyda removed himself from the chat in order to, as Stockton acknowledged, “avoid continued conflict.” The administration wrote in an incident report that the photo caused students “to feel offended, disrespected, and taunted.”

On July 10, administrators asked him to explain his political views, claiming that students were offended by his Zoom background, comments in the GroupMe chat, and a subsequent Facebook post defending his expression, which the university claimed students found “offensive, threatening, and concerning.” The university also expressed concern about comments others left on the post.

In his post, Dailyda wrote in part, “I’m ready to fight to the death for our county and against those that want to take it down.” (If that, in Stockton’s estimation, is worthy of investigation, wait until they learn about Patrick Henry.)

Sixth news item

Like I was saying above…:

Life of a Klansman: A Family History of White Supremacy is the latest book by Edward Ball, whose award-winning 1998 book Slaves in the Family traces the histories of people enslaved by Ball’s own ancestors. In Klansman, Ball tells the story of a racist great-grandfather who joined the Ku Klux Klan.

The New York Times hailed it as “a haunting tapestry of interwoven stories that inform us not just about our past but about the resentment-bred demons that are all too present in our society today,” and the anti-racism scholar Ibram X. Kendi participated in a virtual discussion about it with Ball. Tulane University was slated to host another such event, featuring Ball and Lydia Pelot-Hobbs, an assistant professor of geography and African American studies.

That event was supposed to take place tonight, but the university opted to postpone it following blinkered outrage from students who insisted that the event was “not only inappropriate but violent towards the experience of Black people in the Tulane community and our country.” Other members of the Tulane community called it “harmful and offensive,” and demanded its cancellation. Still others said the university should apologize and take action against whoever approved the event. (I verified that the people who made these kinds of comments were Tulane students, graduates, and employees. I chose not to name most of them in order to prevent individual harassment, though I did identify two student government officials who affixed their names to an appalling demand for censorship.)

Seventh news item

The New York Times cancels prominent women from both sides of the political aisle, and then botch efforts to clean up the mess:

Untitled

No comment from Sarah Palin yet.

Eighth news item

Female Democrat cancels Elizabeth Warren and Gov. Whitmer as possible Biden running mates because inclusivity, I guess…:

California congresswoman Maxine Waters said Joe Biden will have to choose a Black woman as his running mate to win the election.

In a live interview with ESSENCE on Friday, Waters said Biden “can’t go home without a Black woman being VP.”

Citing “the help that [Biden] has already gotten from the Black community,” Democratic Rep. Waters told ESSENCE “we’re going to have a Black woman VP.”

Note: Gov. Whiter flew to Delaware last weekend to meet with Biden…

Have a great weekend.

–Dana

8/7/2020

Rethinking Hungary’s Orbán

Filed under: General — JVW @ 6:51 pm



[guest post by JVW]

I have in the past expressed admiration for the forthright and clear-headed conservatism of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. What has attracted me to Mr. Orbán and to other right-leaning governments in Central European is their staunch defense of their national cultures, with traditions and a history that stretch back to the Middle Ages, against the current Eurocrat obsession with homogenization rendering the entire continent a sterile version of Germany, Belgium, or France. I appreciate that these smaller and poorer nations, most of whom were dominated by Germany and Russia for much of the previous century, aren’t too keen on untrammeled immigration (especially by refugees); progressive obsessions regarding issues of gender, sex, and the family; or the economic hegemony of Berlin, Brussels, and Paris. In short, I think Hungary should be Hungary, Poland should be Poland, Slovakia should be Slovakia, and so on.

But I’m also not totally blind to some of the problems that the aggressive nationalism and insular attitude of the conservative ruling parties has brought about. Almost a couple of years ago I reported on some criticisms that James Kirchick had leveled against Mr. Orbán, especially his enmity towards Hungarian-American activist George Soros, which strays uncomfortably close to antisemitism. I’m also aware that Poland’s President Andrzej Duda has been a figure of some controversy, initiating efforts to consolidate power and subtly seeking to dictate Polish history.

So I read with great interest an article in National Review Online in which Dalibor Rohac, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, argues the case that conservatives should not ally themselves with Viktor Orbán in Hungary, comparing and contrasting them to a controversial figure who resides within our own borders:

Much like Trump’s, Orban’s political success has been based on rhetorically exploiting the failures and the corruption of the Left and on feeding the most atavistic and conspiratorial impulses of the electorate. Unlike Trump, who has been mostly a paper tiger throughout his presidency, Orban is a skilled political operator who, in a way that is without parallel in the region, has used the past decade to entrench himself, his political party (Fidesz), and the economic elite surrounding the party.

Many Western conservatives have cheered him on in the process. According to Mike Gonzalez of the Heritage Foundation, the U.S. administration “must befriend Hungary’s populist leader.” Even the late Sir Roger Scruton (in his own words “neither a friend nor an enemy of Orban”) claimed that Hungary’s prime minister was “not the kind of demagogic tyrant that the liberal establishment in Europe want to make him out to be,” although he did throw “his weight around more than most Western politicians would.” Some conservatives have even speculated about emigrating to Budapest to escape the decadent West.

To be sure, Gonzalez had a point — the United States needs a constructive relationship with Orban’s Hungary. Yet it is also true that the Hungarian government has played the current administration like a fiddle, extracting favors such as the Defense Cooperation Agreement, while avoiding any accountability for its domestic behavior and overtures toward Russia and China. More important is that the perceived ideological affinity that conservatives feel with Orban is misplaced. Yes, Orban has a record of “winning,” but has he advanced conservative principles or made Hungary a better, more successful country?

Playing the U.S. off against its allies and adversaries is nothing new. Raúl Castro of Cuba successfully hoodwinked Barack Obama; Ayad Allawi of Iraq hornswoggled George W. Bush; Yasser Arafat of the PLO hosed Bill Clinton; and during the Cold War the practice of double-crossing the U.S. might as well have been an Olympic sport, open to all nations. But Mr. Rohac, a Czech citizen educated in Prague, Fairfax (VA), and London, sees Mr. Orbán’s massive influence as inviting internal corruption and thus keeping Hungary from prospering:

While some have done extremely well under Fidesz [Hungary’s ruling party, headed by Mr. Orbán], the gap between Hungary and its neighbors has widened since 2010. Once the second-most prosperous of the four Visegrad countries, trailing only the Czech Republic, Hungary now comes last, behind Poland. Budapest used to be home to the leading academic institution in Central and Eastern Europe, the Central European University (CEU), founded by George Soros. CEU provided a home not only or even mostly to “grievance studies” but also to top-notch scholarship in social sciences relevant to post-Communist transitions. Since Orban chased the CEU and its surrounding intellectual ecosystem away on petty legalistic grounds, while bringing the Hungarian Science Academy under political control, Budapest today is an intellectual backwater. Perhaps a wave of immigration by Western conservative intellectuals will fill the void, but as of now there is more evidence of a brain drain. As many as 600,000 Hungarians (from a nation of fewer than 10 million), overwhelmingly young and educated, have settled in Western European countries such as the United Kingdom, Germany, and Austria.

We covered the Hungarian government’s dust-up with Mr. Soros in which the Hungarian parliament restricted the ability of Soros-affiliated groups to operate in the country. The CEU — I’m struggling to find any source other than Mr. Rohac who claims it is “the leading academic institution in Central and Eastern Europe” — came under fire not just because of its association with Mr. Soros, but because Fidesz objected that a majority of its faculty came from outside of Europe and because they have a curious accreditation issued by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education here in the U.S. despite CEU running no equivalent higher education operation within the United States. Though they were co-accredited by the Hungarian government starting in 2004, Fidesz put an end to the practice of a foreign-based university operating in Hungary without also having a similar institution in its home country. But there is also little doubt that the prime minister and his cabinet also objected to CEU attempting to bring in American-style left-wing university indoctrination into Hungary. As to the brain drain of talented Hungarians, that is sadly an aspect of all of the poorer EU nations in the east, from Greece to Estonia and all places in-between.

When the COVID-19 virus arrived in Hungary at the end of March, Mr. Orbán’s doubters expressed grave alarm when the prime minister consolidated power in his office in order to lead Hungary through the pandemic scare. Though this was done via an official act of parliament, unlike for example how Gavin Newsom has seized emergency powers for months without any formal authorization from the legislature, the legislation that Fidesz pushed through alarmingly contained no sunset clause. On the other hand, the two laws that Mr. Orbán immediately announced, though horrific to the ears of civil libertarians, would be quite welcome by the Andrew Cuomos and Gretchen Whitmers of the world: the criminalization both of “interfering with the quarantine” and of spreading false information about the emergency and thereby causing panic. Michael Brendan Dougherty took to the pages, er, screens at National Review Online two months later to scoff at Mr. Orbán’s critics, noting that the Orbán Dictatorship, such as it was, would last a total of 82 days, having been slated for an announced June 20 end date. By way of contrast, we’re now 156 days into the reign of Gavin I, Rex Californium.

Mr. Rohac’s main quibble with Viktor Orbán seems to be that the latter is wholly uninterested in embracing modern and trendy social values that are so popular in Western Europe and North America. He’s no fan of abortion, gay marriage, out-of-wedlock births, feminism, transgenderism, or any of the other items over which Western societies currently obsess. Complaints that Hungary cultivates close ties with ethnic Hungarians in Romania, Slovakia, and Ukraine probably mean very little to Americans who continually see the same sort of scheming from China and Mexico. It’s understandable that the imposition by Fidesz of a retroactive 98% tax on severance pay handed out to public employees might raise some eyebrows. Without knowing the exact details, why does a voice in my head tell me that the “severance pay” was quite likely the typical “honest graft” that craven politicians hand out to their supporters in return for votes, and thus a legitimate target for claw-back? Fidesz lowered the mandatory retirement age for judges in order to appoint their allies to the bench, but that doesn’t seem much different than Pete Buttigieg’s vow to expand the Supreme Court with brand-new left-leaning justices, nor do the election reforms implemented by Fidesz seem any more self-serving than Democrats’ calls for abolishing the Electoral College and mandating mail-in voting. It’s simply the nature of the game to try build in advantages once you have won home field.

That said, there are some areas in which even an admirer should want to keep a wary eye on Prime Minister Obrán. He is now serving his fourth four-year term as prime minister — and third consecutive term — and will next stand for election in 2022. Should Mr. Orbán remain the prime minister beyond that, he owes it to his countrymen and countrywomen to begin preparing Hungary for a post-Orbán government. Though still a relatively young man at 57 (he first served as prime minister from 1998-2002, shortly after his 35th birthday), he needs to demonstrate that Hungarian democracy is resilient and does not depend upon one extraordinary man to function. Critics claim that Fidesz is working to disrupt and isolate rival parties; supporters claim that rival parties and critical media are tolerated and left unmolested, and that the Hungarian left is simply disorganized and unattuned to the desires and dreams of ordinary Hungarians.

I appreciate that Dalibor Rohac has taken the time to provide a quasi-libertarian criticism of Prime Minister Orbán, and I acknowledge that my knowledge of Hungarian politics is limited to what I read in various publications. That said, I didn’t see anything in his litany of complaints that isn’t applicable to political parties here in the U.S. or for that matter virtually any other democratic nation, and nothing that rises to the level of grave concern for Hungarian democracy. But I have always believed that Cincinnatus must one day return to his farm, and Mr. Orbán should soon enough pave the way for the next generation of Hungarian leadership.

– JVW

Friday Funnies

Filed under: General — Dana @ 3:22 pm



[guest post by Dana]

Shocking, I know, but I really kinda rolled my eyes at this:

Donald Trump says likely presidential rival Joe Biden is ‘against God’ as he upped his attacks on the Democratic nominee. Speaking to a crowd at Cleveland airport in Ohio, Trump told supporters Biden is ‘following the radical left agenda. Take away your guns, destroy your Second Amendment. No religion, no anything, hurt the Bible, hurt God.’

The president continued his criticism against Biden, saying: ‘He’s against God. He’s against guns. He’s against energy, our kind of energy’. Biden has repeatedly pledged his support for second amendment rights and owns a shotgun. He is also a practising Catholic.

Really not clear how a mere mortal like Biden has the ability to “hurt” an omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent God, and the Book He left with us, but okay… It always makes me sigh when Donald Trump talks about God and acts like he knows what pleases Him, or what He’s about. And worse, judges the spiritual standing of another individual. (See Matthew 7:3…lock and speck, Mr. President, log and speck…) But of course, his base will gobble up this attack on Biden for breakfast, and spit it out for lunch.

P.S. Gov. DeWine retested hours after his first test, and it came out negative.

–Dana

En Banc D.C. Circuit Rules House Can Seek to Enforce Subpoena Against McGahn in Court

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:29 am



Today the en banc D.C. Circuit overruled a panel decision in the McGahn case. The full court ruled that Congress does have standing to enforce its subpoena against McGahn. This was a no-brainer in light of the recent Supreme Court decision in Mazars, but I did want to take a moment to remind you of what I said about the original panel decision back in February:

The one thing Turley says that I agree with is that he believes the court is wrong to say these are not justiciable matters. For example, in Zivotofsky v. Clinton (h/t to University of Texas law professor Steve Vladeck), the Supreme Court confronted a case where the issue was as follows:

Congress enacted a statute providing that Americans born in Jerusalem may elect to have “Israel” listed as the place of birth on their passports. The State Department declined to follow that law, citing its longstanding policy of not taking a position on the political status of Jerusalem.

Like the appeals court in the McGahn case, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the government in Zivotofsky that the case was not the type of matter in which Article III courts should involve themselves. Without providing a resolution to the underlying dispute, instead sending it back to the lower courts for a substantive decision, the Supreme Court in an opinion by Chief Justice Roberts rejected the idea that this was not a matter for the courts, writing:

Resolution of Zivotofksy’s claim demands careful examination of the textual, structural, and historical evidence put forward by the parties regarding the nature of the statute and of the passport and recognition powers. This is what courts do. The political question doctrine poses no bar to judicial review of this case.

The McGahn case does not present the exact same scenario, but I think the same principle applies.

. . . .

Zivotofsky proves that the political question doctrine doesn’t kick in simply because the branches in question are Congress and the presidency (as opposed to Article III courts and the presidency, as in Nixon) — even if the executive has a dispute with Congress over whether a congressional action impinges on the executive’s constitutional powers.

And here are a couple of passages from today’s opinion. Note the references to Zivotofsky, here:

Zivotofsky 1 Better

and here:

Zivotofsky 2

Always trust content from Patterico, especially when he is stealing content from U.T. Law professor Steve Vladeck.

Joe Biden Does It Again

Filed under: General — Dana @ 6:57 am



[guest post by Dana]

Joe Biden is attempting to clarify some questionable remarks he made yesterday during an interview with NPR’s Garcia Navarro. The Democratic presumptive nominee suggested that the nation’s Black community lacks the diversity of the Hispanic community:

Here is the relevant portion of the interview (I’ve included a longer lead-in than is in the video):

Lulu Garcia-Navarro: (31:30) I have a few questions that I’d just like to get through because they are incredibly important to the Latino community. First of all, you are extending TPS, temporary protected status, to Venezuelans. Cubans though, are now being deported in unprecedented numbers. Would you stop those deportations?

Joe Biden: (31:48) What I said, I’m going to look at every single country in the world that in fact is being… and this guy’s sending them back. The reason why I came up with Venezuela is he not even allowing it to exist in the first place. And so the TPS program is something I will move on the first day I’m in office to make sure that we extend it to people. For too long we didn’t get it right, but here’s the deal. I think that we should be extending it. Anybody can prove that they are in jeopardy to go back to their country and the reason they came in the first place. They should be able to stay in the United States of America until the circumstance changes in our country. And that’s why, by the way, I put that program together to provide… Oh, go ahead. I’m sorry.

Lulu Garcia-Navarro: (32:41) No. No. Are you going to reengage with Cuba though? I mean, I’m specifically wondering about the Florida communities that are incredibly interested in the Cuba issue and see status given to Venezuelans while Cubans are being deported. So will you engage with Cuba?

Joe Biden: (33:03) The answer is yes. Yes. Yes. And by the way, what you all know, but most people don’t know, unlike the African American community with notable exceptions, the Latino community is an incredibly diverse community, with incredibly different attitudes about different things. You go to Florida, you find a very different attitude about immigration in certain places than you do when you’re in Arizona. So it’s a very different, a very diverse community.

Before Biden’s attempted clarification, campaign advisor Symone Sanders tried to tamp down any blowback:

If you look at the full video and transcript, it’s clear that Vice President Biden was referring to diversity of attitudes among Latinos from different Latin American countries. The video that is circulating is conveniently cut to make this about racial diversity but that’s not the case.

However, when Biden attempted to clarify his comments, he once again contrasted Latino and Black Americans explicitly on the topic of national and cultural origin:

“We can build a new administration that reflects the full diversity of our nation. The full diversity of the Latino communities,” Biden said. “Now when I mean full diversity, unlike African American community, many other communities, you’re from everywhere. From Europe. From the tip of South America, all the way to our border and Mexico and in the Caribbean. And different backgrounds, different ethnicities, but all Latinos.”

And last night, in a series of tweets, he made further efforts to clean up his mess:

Yesterday’s mishap was preceded by Biden snapping at a Black reporter who asked whether he had taken a cognitive test like President Trump:

Errol Barnett: (37:41) Mr. Vice President, your opponent in this election, President Trump, has made your mental state a campaign topic. And when asked in June, if you’d been tested full cognitive decline, you’ve responded that you’re constantly tested in effect because you’re in situations like this on the campaign trail. But please clarify specifically, have you taken a cognitive test?

Joe Biden: (38:04) No, I haven’t taken a test. Why the hell would I take a test? Come on man. That’s like saying, “Before you got in this program, if you take a test where you’re taking cocaine or not. What do you think? Huh? Are you a junky?”

Errol Barnett: (38:17) What do you say to President Trump who brags about his test and makes you a message say an issue for voters?

Joe Biden: (38:27) Well, if he can’t figure out the difference between an elephant and a lion, I don’t know what the hell he’s talking about. Did you watch that? Look, come on, man. I know you’re trying to goad me, but I mean, I’m so forward-looking to have an opportunity to sit with the President or stand with the President in debates. There going to be plenty of time. And by the way, as I joke with him… I shouldn’t say it. I’m going to say something I probably shouldn’t say. Anyway, I am very willing to let the American public judge my physical as well as my mental fitness and to make a judgment about who I am and what state of affairs I have, what kind of physical shape I’m in, what kind of mental shape I’m in.

Of course, Trump seized on the opening provided by Biden:

And he continued his attack this morning:

These latest gaffes follow Biden’s admonishment of Black voters when he told them earlier this year: “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.” He then later blamed his foot-in-mouthiness on Black radio show host Charlamagne tha God for having “set him up”.

Also, during his run for the nomination, he implied that “poor kids” are Black or Brown:

“We have this notion that somehow if you’re poor, you cannot do it. Poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids.”

He paused, then quickly clarified, “wealthy kids, black kids, Asian kids.”

His racial pandering is nothing new.

Meanwhile, although Biden still leads Trump in most polls, it’s by a lesser margin:

Less than three months ahead of November’s election, polling averages show the presumptive Democratic nominee’s advantage dropped roughly 3 points between late June and early August.

The latest figure, released by news site and data aggregator Real Clear Politics (RCP), placed Biden’s lead over Trump at 6.4 points as of Thursday. The number averaged national election survey results collected between July 21 and August 5.

One month earlier, RCP’s national averages pointed to a 9-point Biden lead, as Trump’s approval ratings dropped amid resurgences in coronavirus cases, soaring unemployment and the federal government’s response to the Black Lives Matter protests occurring across the country.

Biden and Trump have committed to three debates. Anticipating a surge in early voting, the Trump campaign had requested a fourth debate, but that request was turned down by the Debate Commission. There are concerns that, if Biden’s lead holds, he might back out of the debates. There have also been calls to end presidential debates altogether.

88 days until the election…

–Dana

8/6/2020

Viral Photo Showing Maskless Students Crowded In School Hallway Leads To Student Suspension (UPDATE ADDED)

Filed under: General — Dana @ 11:20 pm



[guest post by Dana]

As students across the country return to in-person classes, you would think that the issue of social distancing protocols is at the forefront of administrators’ concerns. Keeping students safe while enforcing pandemic protocols would seem to be the top priority at these schools. However, one Georgia high school principal seems more concerned about optics rather than the troubling reality at his site:

A whistleblowing student at a Georgia high school was suspended after he posted a video of fellow students crammed into a hallway between classes, many of them without masks. After he was suspended, North Paulding County high school principal Gabe Carmona made an announcement over the school intercom, warning that “Anything that is going on on social media that is negative on our light… there will be consequences for both students or anyone who sends out those pictures, so please be careful.”

Here are the photos that got 15-year old Hannah Watters suspended:

Watters also posted a tally list of students wearing masks in her classes v. those not wearing masks:

Watters explained the reasoning behind her suspension:

I used my phone in the hallway without permission, used my phone for social media, and posting pictures of minors without consent.

Prior to schools reopening, the school district addressed questions about social distancing and mask-wearing in their Back to School 2020-2021 Supplemental Q & A sheet for parents and students, including informing parents that wearing a mask was a “personal choice” and the district would not mandate that students wear them. The district also said that social distancing efforts would be made when “feasible and practical”.

Untitled1

Untitled2

The district superintendent, addressing the publication of the photo, attempted to add context:

The district superintendent, Brian Otott, sent a message to parents in the wake of the photo. He offered “context” for the photograph: “Class changes that look like this may happen, especially at a high school with more than 2,000 students.” There was little the district could do, he said, beyond encouraging masks.

Additionally:

According to a person familiar with North Paulding High School, the plan shared with teachers said hallways were supposed to be one-way; the photograph was taken in one of the only two-laned hallways in the school. But the one-lane hallways had their own downsides, causing students to walk long routes between classes — spending more time in exposed common areas.

Already in Cherokee County, Georgia, at least four schools that started in-person classes on Monday, have had positive Covid-19 cases with contact tracing. And so now, just days after the schools reopened, all students and staff impacted by the outbreak are quarantining at home.

Dr. Fauci weighed in this week on the issue of reopening schools with in-person classes:

“I think to say every child has to go back to school is not really realizing the fact that we have such a diversity of viral activity. There may some sections of the country where the viral activity is so low you don’t have to do anything different, you can just send the children back to school,” Fauci said.

“Wearing a mask, if you don’t take the infection seriously, is a tough one to sell,” Fauci said.

He then offered two reasons why he believes students should return to in-person learning if it can be done safely:

First, school reopenings are important for “the psychological welfare of the children, the fact that many children rely on schools for nutrition, for breakfast, for healthy lunches,” he said.

Second, returning to in-person classes should be a national priority in order to avoid “the unintended downstream ripple effects on families,” he said, like parents needing to interrupt or stop work in order to take care of and homeschool their children.

That “creates a big issue,” he said.

“The ‘however,'” Fauci said, “is we must not compromise the health, the safety, and the welfare of the children, of the teachers and secondarily of their parents, who they may spread it to.”

Fauci discussed the exceptions to reopening schools:

In counties and cities with very low infection rates, for example, it may be possible to “go back to school with impunity and not worry about things,” he said.

In places with moderate infection rates, however, a modified approach — like bringing kids in only some days or parts of the day and implementing mask-wearing and physical distancing — may be safest.

Oh, and then there’s this little tidbit:

North Paulding High School, about an hour outside Atlanta, reopened Monday despite an outbreak among members of its high school football team, many of whom, a Facebook video shows, worked out together in a crowded indoor gym last week as part of a weightlifting fundraiser.

Within days of that workout, several North Paulding players had tested positive for the coronavirus. The school’s parents were notified just hours before the first day of class.

And multiple teachers at North Paulding say there are positive tests among school staff, including a staff member who came into contact with most teachers at the school while exhibiting symptoms last week. Teachers and staff said the school won’t confirm coronavirus infections among district employees, citing privacy reasons.

“That was exactly one week ago, so we are all waiting to see who gets sick next week,” a North Paulding teacher told BuzzFeed News of her exposure to the virus.

I have no idea how to get high schoolers to follow social distancing measures in narrow hallways, lunch periods, etc. That is an unenviable task. But I am convinced that mandating masks for everyone on campus, including students, is a pretty good place to start.

And sadly, just this week, a 7-year-old boy in Georgia with no underlying conditions became the youngest victim to die from COVID.

UPDATE: It’s unsurprising that administration caved on the suspension. After all, the video had gone viral, and Hannah Watters received massive support from the public. Frankly, it was a ridiculous move on the part of the administration and the bad optics of their decision did them no favors:

A Georgia high school has reversed course and lifted the suspension of two students who were punished after posting photos of the school’s packed hallways when classes resumed earlier this week. North Paulding High School in Dallas, Georgia, faced national criticism over the viral photos showing students shoulder-to-shoulder, with fewer than half wearing masks.

From Hannah Watters:

“This morning my school called and they have deleted my suspension,” she wrote.

“To be 100% clear, I can go back to school on Monday. I couldn’t have done this without all the support, thank you.”

School officials provided no explanation for rescinding the suspension. Nor did they mention whether this was such a significant teaching moment for them, that they will now use their time wisely to focus on what really matters, and not their image.

–Dana

The Most 2020 Story Ever

Filed under: General — JVW @ 3:19 pm



[guest post by JVW]

The New York Post does a great job of laying out the story, so I’m going to liberally quote from them:

An Arizona State University professor who posted on Twitter for years about social justice issues and recently detailed her fight with COVID-19 was said to have died last week — but she actually never existed.

BethAnn McLaughlin — who announced the made-up professor’s death on July 31 — admitted to The New York Times on Tuesday that she was behind the hoax.

Appointed to a tenure-track assistant professor position at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in 2005, Dr. McLaughlin applied for tenure nearly a decade later. Vandy, after initially seeming moderately supportive, spent two years evaluating her application. A portion of the delay was to conduct a disciplinary probe of Dr. McLaughlin, who was accused of anonymously libeling colleagues through Twitter, all in the aftermath of a sexual harassment charge brought by a graduate student against a professor in the department. Dr. McLaughlin had testified against the colleague on behalf of the student, but the professor was ultimately cleared of the charges by both the university and by a judge. Though the committee voted two to one to acquit Dr. McLaughlin in the disciplinary matter, she was ultimately denied tenure by the medical school faculty in November of 2017. Further details about the tenure decision are in the link above.

Shortly thereafter, Dr. McLaughlin filed a grievance against the university and began styling herself as a leading MeToo proponent in STEM education. She was active on her Twitter account, @McLNeuro, arguing for zero-tolerance policies for harassment and supporting the BelieveAllWomen movement. She also began sockpuppeting on the account of a fictional person. Picking up again from the Post’s story:

Since 2016, the anonymous account @Sciencing_Bi had posted frequently about sexual harassment and diversity in science, making connections with other academics online.

The account claimed to be an anthropology professor who had grown up in Alabama and “fled the south because of their oppression of queer folk,” according to the Times.

It also made pointed references to being Native American and began to identify as Hopi earlier this year.

And it was active in the career of McLaughlin, a neuroscientist, even promoting a petition for her to receive tenure Vanderbilt University [sic], which was ultimately unsuccessful.

Dr. McLaughlin’s hoax account sure checked all of the right boxes, didn’t it? BIPOC? Yep, we’ve got the “I” part accounted for! LBGTQIA+? Yep, the “B” and the “Q” are in the house! Third-person pronouns? You betcha! She even added the nice touch of the professor having grown up in a deeply red state among all of the mouth-breathing redneck KKK bigots who deny that man-made global climate change is a crisis and probably drive pick-up trucks sporting gun racks and Confederate flag mudflaps. So how do we make this fake Twitter user even more sympathetic? Let’s bring current events into play and ratchet the victim quotient up to 10:

In April, @Sciencing_Bi announced its [sic] coronavirus diagnosis and then documented the symptoms including a loss of language fluency, according to Buzzfeed News.

The account blamed ASU for her condition, tweeting in June that the school “forced me to teach 200 person lectures instead of closing” in April.

She also claimed the university cut her salary by 15 percent while she was in the hospital.

Then, a seemingly distraught McLaughlin wrote in a lengthy, mournful Twitter thread on Friday that the anonymous professor had died.

“Looking at her side of the bed and crying. Just a lot of crying. I literally can do nothing,” she wrote.

Cherry. On top of the icing. On top of the delicious multi-layer cake. Naturally, a certain subset of high-strung academics ate it up immediately:

The supposed death spurred outrage from others in academia, with a professor saying: “This person was a scientist who got Covid because they’d been forced to teach.”

“@Sciencing_Bi is a Native American anthropology professor who first contracted #COVID19 April 11, likely from her college forcing her to teach well after the virus had established itself at her college,” another person posted on Facebook.

There was one small problem: ASU would presumably know if one of their professors had died, especially if from COVID-19. And, unfortunately for Dr. McLaughlin, ASU immediately blew the whistle on the hoax. Twitter has now suspended Dr. McLaughlin’s account, as well as some other sockpuppet accounts they believe she used. And one would presume, though maybe erroneously, that at this point her appeal of Vanderbilt’s tenure decision is as every bit as dead as @Sciencing_Bi. It is fitting that this story comes to a close in the insipid year of 2020.

As you might have surmised, I am not a huge fan of professional activists. I don’t pretend to know what went on with Dr. McLaughlin at Vanderbilt and whether or not she was given a fair shake there, but clearly her behavior since losing her tenure battle suggests that she is dealing with issues which ought to be addressed through professional help, not through blindly accepting her claims without examination and turning her into the public face of MeTooSTEM as so many (including, alas, my own alma mater) eagerly did. Coupled with Trader Joe’s surprising reversal last week, perhaps social justice would be better served if more people stopped acquiescing to the auto-appointed avatars of activism.

– JVW

A Misrepresentation of “Rightist” Thought

Filed under: General — Dana @ 11:17 am



[guest post by Dana]

For your consideration: a little strawman from a Bloomberg opinion writer:

Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard anyone on the right say that it is IQ that determines productivity??

The writer is essentially and inaccurately positing that “rightists” believe that individuals with high IQs can’t be non-productive, deadweight layabouts and that individuals with low IQs can’t be productive even if they have a solid work ethic, self-discipline, and a sense of responsibility, pride, and purpose.

And that’s just to start with…”rightists” claiming salary should be based on “productivity”??

Anyway, the tweet reminded me to give a shout-out to the No Limits Cafe, whose mission is to “EMPOWER adults with intellectual disabilities by providing jobs and job training to help them lead fulfilling lives within our community and to increase awareness of their potential.” Wut??? This is just crazy, am I right??!!!

–Dana

Was It All a Lie? A Rant Deferred

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:29 am



This morning I was reflecting on a post by Allahpundit, in which he reacted to Rand Paul’s assertion that the GOP should apologize to Obama for pretending it cared about spending during his presidency. Allahpundit replied that pandemic spending is a necessity and that apologies are not owed to Obama. But …

But you know what I will take an apology for? I’ll accept one for running gigantic deficits during a sustained pre-pandemic economic boom with a Republican president in office, Republicans in control of the Senate, and, for two years, Republicans in charge of the House. That’s the spending binge that proved that the tea party was a fraud to its core, not the exorbitant emergency relief effort that Congress is now engaged in.

. . . .

. . .It’s opportunistic Trump-hugging cronies like Paul who think they’re one election away from relevance again.

Never Trumpers, in contrast, are the righties who are most thoroughly disillusioned about what they thought the GOP stood for. Trump’s presidency isn’t an interregnum between periods of Reaganism in their view, it’s an expose that busted the myth that Republican politicians or voters ever cared much about smaller government or “constitutional conservatism” or, you know, basic ethics. Stuart Stevens, a former GOP strategist and now a member of the Lincoln Project, has a book out this week about his own disillusionment with the party titled “It Was All a Lie.” You can’t do better than that as a summary of the Never Trump verdict on the pre-Trump GOP.

It was all a lie. Hose it down with kerosene and light a match.

I have never described myself as a “Never Trumper” (I’m not big on joining groups) but I feel the disillusion, and I made notes this morning for a long rant about my disappointment with various factions. Disappointment with judges who go wobbly on the real issues and wink at abuses of the rule of law done for cronyism. Disappointment with Senators who professed to care about the deficit, and the Constitution, and reining in an out of control executive, and fostering basic morality and decency … and then gave it all up due to fear that speaking out for what they believed in might cost them an election. Disappointment at commentators who ranted at the obvious deficiencies of Trump, and then traded that all for attaboys from strangers on the Internet. Disappointment at large swaths of the voting public for voting such a cretin into office.

But there is a part of me which questions whether I should write this rant at all.

Or at least, that part of me which suggests this as a compromise: that if I do write that rant, perhaps it should be tempered with the knowledge that my views of other people are often changed when I meet them in person. There are public figures I am more reluctant to criticize because they seem nice in person, and I think they actually are, and that niceness is mixed in with the nasty bits I see in public. And you know what? I think it’s true of everyone.

And the reverse is true of me. Whatever angelic image I might try to project onto an Internet screen, the truth is that when you know me in private you find I’m a deeply flawed human being who sins.

I still might write that rant. I’ll probably wait until after my daughter has left the house, because the time I would need to invest would detract from the little time we have with her before she returns to school. It is a silver lining of the pandemic that for a time, we have had a household resembling in many ways the one we used to have before she left for college: all four members of the family together, playing games, going on walks together … just like the old days. That’s going to change soon.

When it does, I may be back at the blog a little more. And maybe I’ll have time to write that rant. But for now, it’s like one of those letters Lincoln wrote in anger and put in his drawer — only I have described a little something about the contents of the letter to you. When days have passed I will open the drawer again, and maybe I will send the letter and maybe I’ll leave it in the drawer.

Or maybe it will become something more temperate. A letter that makes the same points, but less in anger.

We’ll see.

8/5/2020

On Rioting: Two Different Voices, Two Different Perspectives

Filed under: General — Dana @ 1:32 pm



[guest post by Dana]

Yesterday, Red Nation Rising posted a plea made on behalf of rioters everywhere:

While these nationwide rallies began as righteous and peaceful protests, the young person in the video concedes and confirms, however unwittingly, that devolution has occurred: riots, not mere protests. This, of course, leads to the obvious: if you don’t want to get arrested, don’t destroy public property or commit acts of violence. [Ed. I shouldn’t have to say this, but I will: this does not excuse the bad behavior by some law enforcement officers or relieve of accountability those whose abusive acts have been captured on video. It is possible to hold more than one thought in our heads at the same time: we can be concerned about the destruction and violence wrought by individuals in various cities, we can be concerned about the overreach of the federal government, and we can be concerned about the abuses of law enforcement on the ground. This post does seek to prioritize the concerns, just address one of them.]

With that, Portland’s Chuck Lovell makes, not so much a plea as a reaffirmation of committment to the people of Portland. As a black man who just happens to be the city’s Chief of Police, he sets the stage beginning with the killing of George Floyd to the eventual attack on the Justice Center:

After the horrendous killing of George Floyd, people in Portland, Ore., joined with thousands across the country in demonstrations to address police reform and widespread systemic racism. The leaders of the Portland Police Bureau denounced this tragic death, and we reiterated our willingness to engage in reforms.

But Portland has now faced weeks of extreme difficulties and drew intense national attention after federal officers were deployed here.

As police officers, our duty is to uphold the rights of anyone to assemble peacefully and engage in free speech. But over the months of protests, a concerning dynamic developed. People protested peacefully, while others engaged in dangerous activities that could have resulted in injury and even death.

After hours of largely peaceful demonstrations in Portland, Ore., following the killing of George Floyd, violence erupted on Friday, May 29.

The night of May 29 was a pivotal moment for our city. Hundreds of people, in a coordinated effort, attacked the Justice Center, which includes our Central Precinct station and the Multnomah County Detention Center. They broke into the building, destroyed the first-floor interior and lit fires. Afterward, there was looting and destruction downtown.

Yet in the following weeks, thousands of people demonstrated peacefully in an awesome expression of First Amendment rights. The Police Bureau had little to no interaction with members of this group, because they did not allow criminal activity to implode their message.

Lovell helps us understand his perspective, and what he has faced in the past few weeks:

As a Black man and a public servant, I have a unique perspective. I agree with a local pastor, E.D. Mondainé, who stated these “spectacles” are drowning out the voices that need to be heard to make positive change. This violence is doing nothing to further the Black Lives Matter movement.

On one night, for example, individuals screwed the doors of our North Precinct station shut, barricaded other entrances and lit the station on fire with people inside. Nearby businesses, owned by people of color, were damaged and looted. On other nights, there were multiple attempts to breach the Justice Center. Other law enforcement facilities were targeted, including the union building, which was broken into and had fires set within.

And as with everything life, if one does not have foresight, and consider the unintended consequences, the very people in immediate need are the ones who will inevitably be hurt:

The voices of victims are not heard as well. Because of the protests, officers have not been able to respond to 911 calls or have been delayed for hours. Investigators’ cases lie on their desks as they work nights to process arrests. We have seen an alarming increase in shootings and homicides. We need to redirect our focus to preventing and solving these crimes that are taking a hugely disproportionate number of minority lives.

In spite of everything that is going on, Lovell remains optimistic and as committed as ever to protecting Americans:

I have said frequently that the Portland Police Bureau is committed to reform. We are a progressive agency and have demonstrated our willingness to change over the past eight years. Working with the Department of Justice, we have made significant changes to our policies and training. The Portland Police Bureau’s policy on the use of deadly force is more restrictive than state and federal law.

We recently enhanced our Community Engagement Unit to help build trust and legitimacy with the communities we serve. We have also developed several advisory councils that help the Police Bureau make decisions with the benefit of a diverse set of inputs.

The Portland Police Bureau has had an equity and inclusion office for over five years. I recently changed the organizational structure to have it report directly to me, to ensure we are prioritizing its work.

I have confidence in our community and the people who have dedicated their lives to building relationships with police. They have stood up and said no more violence. I stand with them with a servant’s heart, committed to being leaders in police reform.

Some people believe you have to tear it all down in a long-overdue reckoning before you can build up an equitable structure giving testimony to real change. Some people believe you can use the existing foundation and build upon it a transformed, stable, and enduring structure. This is the fraught landscape of options upon which we find ourselves standing these days.

–Dana

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