The Jury Talks Back

4/30/2019

Mueller: Barr’s Letter “Did Not Fully Capture the Context, Nature, and Substance” of Mueller’s Report

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 7:47 pm

#FAKENEWSBEZOSPOST:

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III wrote a letter in late March complaining to Attorney General William P. Barr that a four-page memo to Congress describing the principal conclusions of the investigation into President Trump “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance” of Mueller’s work, according to a copy of the letter reviewed Tuesday by The Washington Post.

The letter and a subsequent phone call between the two men reveal the degree to which the longtime colleagues and friends disagreed as they handled the legally and politically fraught task of investigating the president. Democrats in Congress are likely to scrutinize Mueller’s complaints to Barr as they contemplate the prospect of opening impeachment proceedings and mull how hard to press for Mueller himself to testify publicly.

Oh, and by the way:

The letter made a key request: that Barr release the 448-page report’s introductions and executive summaries, and it made initial suggested redactions for doing so, according to Justice Department officials.

Barr did not do that. The executive summaries are far more damning than Barr’s letter. They would have been easy to release. But Barr chose not to. Draw your own conclusions.

The spin (which I’m seeing everywhere) is that “Mueller’s complaint was only about the media!!!” — based on this passage from the article:

A day after Mueller sent his letter to Barr, the two men spoke by phone for about 15 minutes, according to law enforcement officials.

In that call, Mueller said he was concerned that media coverage of the obstruction investigation was misguided and creating public misunderstandings about the office’s work, according to Justice Department officials. Mueller did not express similar concerns about the public discussion of the investigation of Russia’s election interference, the officials said. Barr has testified previously he did not know whether Mueller supported his conclusion on obstruction.

When Barr pressed Mueller on whether he thought Barr’s memo to Congress was inaccurate, Mueller said he did not but felt that the media coverage of it was misinterpreting the investigation, officials said.

That spin ignores the quote from Mueller’s letter saying Barr’s letter “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance” of his work. That’s not a complaint about the media. (Plus, the second passage above is based on DoJ officials working for Barr, not a quote from the letter.)

We have the report now, but Barr’s spin reflects on his credibility.

I’m not really interested in reading comments about this.

Rosenstein Resigns

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 7:17 am

#BEZOSFAKENEWSPOST:

In his resignation letter to Trump, Rosenstein praised the president for his personal charm and policy goals. “As I submit my resignation effective on May 11, I am grateful to you for the opportunity to serve; for the courtesy and humor you often display in our personal conversations; and for the goals you set in your inaugural address: patriotism, unity, safety, education, and prosperity, because ‘a nation exists to serve its citizens,’ ” Rosenstein wrote.

He ended his letter with a sentence that asserted the Justice Department’s independence, before closing with a phrase from Trump’s campaign: “We keep the faith, we follow the rules, and we always put America first.”

Here’s an example of Trump’s courtesy and humor, as well as putting the rules first:

Courtesy! Rule following! It’s what Trump is all about.

4/28/2019

What I’ve Been Reading Lately

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 8:51 pm

It’s been a while since I’ve done a “What I’ve Been Reading” post. I thought I’d post a few of the titles and give brief reactions.

Burned: A Story of Murder and the Crime That Wasn’t by Edward Humes. I have read many books by Humes. He’s a good writer and smart, and makes some interesting points, but his overwhelming antagonism towards the criminal justice system, police, and prosecutors is distracting. I read the book because I know some of the participants and something about the case described.

Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions by Jonathan Hari. Hari has faced allegations of plagiarism, but the book was recommended by Sam Harris and I enjoyed it. Hari has a penchant for making one-sided arguments, however. His disdain for pharmaceuticals is understandable and may be correct, and his observations about the underlying causes of depression certainly have validity, but his polemic style can be off-putting. I ended up casting aside Hari’s Chasing the Scream after about 80 pages because it got boring and lost its credibility with its unrelentingly hyperbolic tone. Maybe I’ll return to it, but I doubt it.

Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion by Paul Bloom. I didn’t enjoy this as much as I enjoyed Bloom’s previous book Just Babies: The Origins of Good and Evil, but I liked it OK. I got both books after Bloom was recommended by Jonah Goldberg in a talk I saw him give at UCSB. Bloom’s title is designed to be a Hot Take, but his opposition to empathy depends upon a technical definition that is not always what people mean when they use the word. He spends a lot of time explaining this, and reminding the reader that he is not actually against compassion, sympathy, and many of the concepts that the term often connotes. Also, the two books use a lot of the same stories. I’d recommend reading “Just Babies” and skipping “Against Empathy.”

Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers: The Acclaimed Guide to Stress, Stress-Related Diseases, and Coping by Robert Sapolsky. Very heavy on the science, particularly physiology, but interesting. If you forgot a lot of your high school physiology but find such things interesting, it’s a good book. It’s also a good reminder to meditate and get your equanimity in order.

The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values by Sam Harris. Some of these books deserve (and may receive) their own posts. I disagree with Sam Harris on his atheism, obviously, as well as his (to me) rather goofy and impossible-to-understand views on free will. But I admire much about his honesty and he has a lot of interesting things to say. Here, I’ll say mainly that the title is bad (and I think Sam might agree at this point): what he means by “science” is really what Jonathan Rauch meant by “liberal science” in his book Kindly Inquisitors: The New Attacks on Free Thought, Expanded Edition, which I also read recently and loved. Rauch’s view is that “liberal science” means a system of rational debate in which everything is decided by evidence and nothing is off the table. This one might merit its own post too. A great book that I don’t totally agree with but that opened my mind a lot.

Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines by Nic Sheff, and Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction by David Sheff. Great books. Saw the movie, which I really enjoyed and should have received more awards than it did.

Team of Vipers: My 500 Extraordinary Days in the Trump White House by Cliff Sims. Reviewed already, here.

A Man’s World, by Steve Oney. Still making my way through this one. A collection of portraits of manly men by my erstwhile acquaintance whom I have not seen in years, Steve Oney. Great guy and great book so far.

Chimpanzee Politics: Power and Sex among Apes by Frans de de Waal: I’m most of the way through this. A fascinating take on the social interactions of intelligent apes.

I finally finished The Chickenshit Club by Jesse Eisinger — a book I started in late 2017 on the recommendation of Ed from SFV (which, where did he go?). Good book that explains why there were so few prosecutions after the 2008 financial crisis.

Strangers to Ourselves: Discovering the Adaptive Unconscious by Timothy Wilson. One of those books that was recommended by Amazon and looked interesting, so I got it. I liked it but I can’t say I found it to have a terribly profound impact on my worldview. I like the thesis: that a lot of analyzing goes on unconsciously and efficiently.

The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure by Jonathan Haidt and FIRE President Greg Lukianoff, and Them: Why We Hate Each Other–and How to Heal by Ben Sasse (both affiliate links). I mentioned the Haidt book here and here and saw a lecture by him. I was accompanied at the lecture by our guest blogger Dana, and that was a treat. The Sasse book was excellent, as was his other book The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming-of-Age Crisis–and How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance. Sasse is a big fan of gumption; it’s shocking that he wasn’t born in New England. I like him. He’s a good guy.

Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine Harden, and A River in Darkness: One Man’s Escape from North Korea, by Masaji Ishikawa. Both books reviewed here.

I say all this partially by way of saying that I am finally tackling Ludwig von Mises’s Human Action, which is a 900-page monster. I think it will probably take me until July to finish it. I plan to finish off the series summarizing Bob Murphy’s summary of the book once I’m done, but I figure the summaries will mean more to me once I have read the whole thing.

It’s a masterful work, difficult to follow at times and wildly entertaining at others. I already have a couple of posts envisioned based on things Mises says about political and social affairs.

What have you guys been reading?

New York Times: We’re Sure Sorry About Publishing That Anti-Semitic Cartoon

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 2:26 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Oops. A cartoon appeared in the Op-Ed section of The New York Times’ International edition on Thursday that depicted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a dachshund wearing a Star of David collar and leading a blind President Trump who is wearing a yarmulke:

Untitled

After receiving criticism for its publication, The New York Times subsequently released a non-apology on Saturday that weaselly claimed that it was a cartoon that included anti-Semitic tropes, rather than a forthright description: it was an anti-Semitic cartoon:

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Knowing that this error of judgement didn’t happen in a vacuum, this can be seen as nothing but yet another effort at normalizing anti-Semitism in the pages of The New York Times. Thus the claimed “error in judgement to publish it” becomes as laughable as does the quasi-apology. Given that at least one editor of the International edition had to approve publication of the cartoon, one presumes said editor is educated and has some real awareness of the skyrocketing levels of anti-Semitism, both here and throughout Europe. Further, said editor must be familiar with the blowback the paper receives every time they engage in anti-Semitism. Therefore such an error in judgement would appear to be an intentional decision. Interestingly, no employee names are mentioned, and no mention of whether those who made the error in judgement will lose their jobs as a result of actively pushing anti-Semitism in the newspaper.

Seth Franzman, op-ed editor of The Jerusalem Post makes it simple enough for even the editors at the NYT to grasp:

Untitled

It’s instructive to remember what executive editor Dean Baquet told the public editor in 2015 about his decision made to not run the Charlie Hebdo cartoon in the pages of the NYT:

Mr. Baquet told me that he started out the day Wednesday convinced that The Times should publish the images, both because of their newsworthiness and out of a sense of solidarity with the slain journalists and the right of free expression.

He said he had spent “about half of my day” on the question, seeking out the views of senior editors and reaching out to reporters and editors in some of The Times’s international bureaus. They told him they would not feel endangered if The Times reproduced the images, he told me, but he remained concerned about staff safety.

“I sought out a lot of views, and I changed my mind twice,” he said. “It had to be my decision alone.”

Ultimately, he decided against it, he said, because he had to consider foremost the sensibilities of Times readers, especially its Muslim readers. To many of them, he said, depictions of the prophet Muhammad are sacrilegious; those that are meant to mock even more so. “We have a standard that is long held and that serves us well: that there is a line between gratuitous insult and satire. Most of these are gratuitous insult.”

Clearly the sensibilities of Jewish readers were not considered in this decision making process. But then again, even the NYT understands that the only real risk in offending the Jewish community is a short-lived collective outcry and the possible cancellation of subscriptions. Impacts they have previously absorbed.

This morning, however, an actual apology was published. Of course one has to wonder why such a direct, we-own-it apology wasn’t made right out the gate? That it took four days after the fact diminishes its intended impact. In a sad bit of irony, the apology comes as :

Untitled

This “faulty process,” however, is nothing new, not even in New York.

New York Times columnist Bret Stephens addressed the publication of the cartoon an op-ed this morning, pointing out that “The Times wasn’t explaining anti-Semitism. It was purveying it”:

Here was an image that, in another age, might have been published in the pages of Der Stürmer. The Jew in the form of a dog. The small but wily Jew leading the dumb and trusting American. The hated Trump being Judaized with a skullcap. The nominal servant acting as the true master. The cartoon checked so many anti-Semitic boxes that the only thing missing was a dollar sign.

The image also had an obvious political message: Namely, that in the current administration, the United States follows wherever Israel wants to go. This is false — consider Israel’s horrified reaction to Trump’s announcement last year that he intended to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria — but it’s beside the point. There are legitimate ways to criticize Trump’s approach to Israel, in pictures as well as words. But there was nothing legitimate about this cartoon.

While he questions its placement in the NYT, Stephens cuts the publication (and individual editors) slack, and is willing to give them a benefit of the doubt that I am unwilling to do:

For some Times readers — or, as often, former readers — the answer is clear: The Times has a longstanding Jewish problem, dating back to World War II, when it mostly buried news about the Holocaust, and continuing into the present day in the form of intensely adversarial coverage of Israel. The criticism goes double when it comes to the editorial pages, whose overall approach toward the Jewish state tends to range, with some notable exceptions, from tut-tutting disappointment to thunderous condemnation.

For these readers, the cartoon would have come like the slip of the tongue that reveals the deeper institutional prejudice. What was long suspected is, at last, revealed.

The real story is a bit different, though not in ways that acquit The Times. The cartoon appeared in the print version of the international edition, which has a limited overseas circulation, a much smaller staff, and far less oversight than the regular edition. Incredibly, the cartoon itself was selected and seen by just one midlevel editor right before the paper went to press.

An initial editor’s note acknowledged that the cartoon “included anti-Semitic tropes,” “was offensive,” and that “it was an error of judgment to publish it.” On Sunday, The Times issued an additional statement saying it was “deeply sorry” for the cartoon and that “significant changes” would be made in terms of internal processes and training.

In other words, the paper’s position is that it is guilty of a serious screw-up but not a cardinal sin. Not quite.

The problem with the cartoon isn’t that its publication was a willful act of anti-Semitism. It wasn’t. The problem is that its publication was an astonishing act of ignorance of anti-Semitism — and that, at a publication that is otherwise hyper-alert to nearly every conceivable expression of prejudice, from mansplaining to racial microaggressions to transphobia.

Imagine, for instance, if the dog on a leash in the image hadn’t been the Israeli prime minister but instead a prominent woman such as Nancy Pelosi, a person of color such as John Lewis, or a Muslim such as Ilhan Omar. Would that have gone unnoticed by either the wire service that provides the Times with images or the editor who, even if he were working in haste, selected it?

The question answers itself. And it raises a follow-on: How have even the most blatant expressions of anti-Semitism become almost undetectable to editors who think it’s part of their job to stand up to bigotry?

The reason is the almost torrential criticism of Israel and the mainstreaming of anti-Zionism, including by this paper, which has become so common that people have been desensitized to its inherent bigotry. So long as anti-Semitic arguments or images are framed, however speciously, as commentary about Israel, there will be a tendency to view them as a form of political opinion, not ethnic prejudice. But as I noted in a Sunday Review essay in February, anti-Zionism is all but indistinguishable from anti-Semitism in practice and often in intent, however much progressives try to deny this.

Add to the mix the media’s routine demonization of Netanyahu, and it is easy to see how the cartoon came to be drawn and published: Already depicted as a malevolent Jewish leader, it’s just a short step to depict him as a malevolent Jew.

It will interesting to see if the editor is actually fired over this error in judgement, and to learn exactly what an investigation reveals. But, in the end, will anything really change? After all, the publication of the cartoon occurred during the Jewish Holy Week, and the subsequent apology comes as Holocaust Remembrance week begins.

-Dana

Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 149

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 12:07 pm

It is the second Sunday of Easter. Today’s Bach cantata is “Man singet mit Freuden vom Sieg” (One sings with joy about victory).

Today’s Gospel reading is the same Gospel reading used every year for the second Sunday of Easter: John 20:19-31.

Jesus Appears to His Disciples

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

Jesus Appears to Thomas

Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

The Purpose of John’s Gospel

Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

The text of today’s piece is available here. It contains these words, exulting in the Lord’s victory:

There are joyful songs of victory in the tents of the righteous: the right hand of the Lord claims the victory, the right hand of the Lord is exalted, the right hand of the Lord claims the victory!

Power and strength be sung
to God, the Lamb, who has conquered
and driven out Satan,
who plagues us day and night.
Honor and victory is upon the righteous
brought about through the blood of the Lamb.

Happy listening! Soli Deo gloria.

4/27/2019

Evangelical Problem: Sacrificing Integrity To Support Trump While Pointing The Moral Finger At Democrat Candidate

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 9:11 am

[guest post by Dana]

Republicans for the Rule of Law recently posted a spot-on video of Sen. Lindsey Graham rightfully taking a sitting president to task, saying:

“This is about a person out of control. He took the law, turned it upside down. Every time there was a crossroads, he put his personal and legal interest ahead of the nation. He is the Chief Law Enforcement Officer of the land. He encouraged people to lie for him. He lied. I think he obstructed justice. I think there’s a convincing and compelling case that he has in fact engaged in conduct that it would be better for him to leave office than to stay in office.”

One might think that Graham is talking about our current president because the words are so fitting. However, as you can see in the video clip below, he’s talking about Bill Clinton in 1999.

Unfortunately, Graham, who once said that Trump was “unfit for office” has transformed into a cynical politician whose priority is making the shrewd calculations and calibrations necessary for reelection. And if that means sidling up to someone he once labeled a “kook,” then so be it. While he also believes that the country benefits by his working with President Trump, he offers no apologies in his admittance to playing the hard-edged game of politics. After all:

If you don’t want to get reelected, you’re in the wrong business.

To Graham, and many other Republican leaders, offering their allegiance to Trump (even if for show) is a prerequisite to seeing another term. And to them, the choice is worth it. But for the politician who claimed to stand upon a moral and principled foundation, a willing compromise to retain power has been made. Sadly, this flip-flopping hypocrisy in order to get reelected is unsurprising, yet troubling. It’s especially troubling when the unfolding slow roll toward moral compromise is committed by those elected officials who once roared their disapproval of Trump’s dishonesty, lack of morality, and deceitful nature. Clearly the drive for power is irresistible to far too many. But how to explain the moral compromise by those whose bread and butter isn’t politics but is instead serving in the house of God? One would think that these individuals would be free from any need of approval by President Trump, or any need to be in his good graces. After all, shouldn’t loyalty to God and the principles He lays out for believers supersede all else? With that, the past two years have been a season of having it repeatedly driven home that we all have feet of clay. Yet it’s not just the elected officials of faith who have meekly fallen in line while clutching the levers of power, it’s also those who stand in pulpits across the nation, telling us how to live while speaking out of both sides of their mouth. Like Franklin Graham:

Franklin Graham, who is the son of the late evangelist Billy Graham and a prominent supporter of President Trump, slammed Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg for being gay, Christian and married. In a series of three tweets Wednesday, he assailed Buttigieg for remarks he has made about being a gay Christian.

“Presidential candidate & South Bend Mayor @PeteButtigieg is right—God doesn’t have a political party,” Graham wrote. “But God does have commandments, laws & standards He gives us to live by. God doesn’t change. His Word is the same yesterday, today & forever.”

Then, Graham added, “Mayor Buttigieg says he’s a gay Christian. As a Christian I believe the Bible which defines homosexuality as sin, something to be repentant of, not something to be flaunted, praised or politicized. The Bible says marriage is between a man & a woman—not two men, not two women.”

Here’s the thing: It’s just a bit rich when an evangelical pastor uses his bully pulpit to point out one man’s sin, while ignoring another man’s sin because that other individual is the guy he’s put his reputation on the line for and thrown his support behind.

In other words, it’s easy to point the finger at homosexuality, while ignoring the painfully obvious:

“I’m not knocking for Buttigieg for sinning,” Graham would presumably say. “We’re all sinners. I’m knocking him for flaunting his sin.” But Trump flaunts his sin too. His apartment in Trump Tower is decked out like Versailles, a monument to gluttony. His sexual boasting over the years contributed to the alpha-male image that helped win him the presidency. What else was his conversation with Billy Bush on the “Access Hollywood” tape except “flaunting sin”? We’re talking about a guy who allegedly posed as his own publicist when he dialed up the tabloids in New York to whisper to them about how much he was getting laid. There may be no single person more synonymous with “the good life” in the popular imagination since the 1980s than Donald Trump. He’s practically a national spokesman for greed, right down to continuing to receive revenue from his businesses while he holds the most powerful job in the world.

(I would have included the sin of pride, selfishness and self-worship.)

As David French reminds us, Frankliln Graham, like Sen. Graham, also condemned Bill Clinton with equal fervor:

In 1998, at the height of Bill Clinton’s sex scandals, the younger Graham wrote a powerful op-ed in the Wall Street Journal combating Clinton’s assertion that his affair was a “private” matter. Clinton argued that his misdeeds were “between me, the two people I love the most — my wife and our daughter — and our God.” Graham noted that even the most private of sins can have very public, devastating consequences, and he asked a simple question: “If [Clinton] will lie to or mislead his wife and daughter, those with whom he is most intimate, what will prevent him from doing the same to the American public?”

Graham was right: Clinton, it turned out, wouldn’t just lie to mislead his family. He’d lie to influence courts, Congress, and the American people.

Fast-forward 20 years. By 2018, Donald Trump was president — and helping to win important policy victories for religious conservatives — and Graham’s tune had changed dramatically. He actively repudiated his condemnations of Clinton, calling the Republican pursuit of the then-president “a great mistake that should never have happened,” and argued that “this thing with Stormy Daniels and so forth is nobody’s business.”

Graham was wrong: Trump, it turns out, doesn’t just lie to mislead his family. He lies all the time to influence courts, Congress, and the American people.

Instead of giving in to a double-standard of judgment, Graham should have exercised restraint in calling Buttigieg to repentance lest he expose his own hypocrisy and weaken the cause of Christ:

Yes, marriage is the union between a man and a woman, but Trump married a woman, then married his mistress, then married a third woman, then had an affair with a porn star while that third wife was pregnant with his child. Yet Graham says, “God put him” in the presidency and we need to “get behind him and support him.”

The thing is, political expediency and the favor of man should not be the dominating influence in the life of a believer, whether an elected official or a leader in the church who reaches millions in the name of Christ. Maybe especially for the church leader… The calling for all believers is more than that, as the Immeasurable Sacrifice makes clear:

The proper Evangelical position toward any president is not hard to articulate, though it is exceedingly difficult to hold to, especially in polarized times when one party seems set on limiting religious liberty and zealously defending abortion: We should pray for presidents, critique them when they’re wrong, praise them when they’re right, and never, ever impose partisan double standards. We can’t ever forget the importance of character, the necessity of our own integrity, and the power of the prophetic witness.

In other words, Evangelicals can never take a purely transactional approach to politics. We are never divorced from our transcendent purpose, which always trumps political expediency. In scripture, prophets confronted leaders about their sin. They understood a core truth, one clearly articulated in the Southern Baptist Convention’s 1998 Resolution on Moral Character of Public Officials: “Tolerance of serious wrong by leaders sears the conscience of the culture, spawns unrestrained immorality and lawlessness in the society, and surely results in God’s judgment.”

(emphasis added)

–Dana

4/26/2019

Students To Administration: If Guest Speakers Don’t Conform To Our Beliefs, We Can’t Heal From The Wounds You’ve Inflicted On Us

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 11:46 am

[gust post by Dana]

This week, Vermont’s Middlebury College student government released a list of thirteen demands to administration officials in an effort to foster “community healing”. According to the letter, the healing is necessary because the administration has repeatedly failed students for not bending to their will. Amusingly, in listing their examples of administration’s failure to act on behalf of students, the letter references what they call the “Charles Murray incident”:

The Student Government Association (SGA) exists to be the democratic vehicle of the will of the student body. We believe that students and administrators are a partnership, a two-way street working toward a collectively better future for Middlebury College. Through conversations with alumni, students, staff, faculty, and various community groups, it has become evident that the connection between the administration and students has been reduced to a one-way street. The administration has failed time and again to listen to the desires of its students.

Administrators’ neglect of students’ wishes has been the consistent trend of the past few years.

[…]

On April 12, 2017, the SGA passed a bill asking for specific changes to protest policies in the aftermath of the Charles Murray incident. The bill’s request languished in committee for a full academic year. In the end, the requested changes were not adopted in the protest policy draft announced in late 2018. Rather than a prohibition on violence by Public Safety officers, the final draft included a prohibition on civil disobedience itself.

As a reminder, in 2017, Middlebury professor Allison Stranger had the temerity to welcome an opportunity to moderate a talk with political scientist Charles Murray, an individual with whom she disagreed with on a number of issues. She explained, that in spite of their differences, it “was a chance to demonstrate publicly a commitment to a free and fair exchange of views in my classroom.” Because some students were deeply offended by the notion of a public display of a free and fair exchange between a Middlebury professor and Charles Murray, they shouted down the speakers and forced them to have to be relocated elsewhere and livestream the event. And most infuriatingly, because of Middlebury students narrow-minded bigotry and ignorance, Stranger ended up suffering a concussion after a mob assailed her when she and Murray attempted to leave the campus:

The protesters succeeded in shutting down the lecture. We were forced to move to another site and broadcast our discussion via live stream, while activists who had figured out where we were banged on the windows and set off fire alarms. Afterward, as Dr. Murray and I left the building with Bill Burger, Middlebury’s vice president for communications, a mob charged us.

Most of the hatred was focused on Dr. Murray, but when I took his right arm to shield him and to make sure we stayed together, the crowd turned on me. Someone pulled my hair, while others were shoving me. I feared for my life. Once we got into the car, protesters climbed on it, hitting the windows and rocking the vehicle whenever we stopped to avoid harming them. I am still wearing a neck brace, and spent a week in a dark room to recover from a concussion caused by the whiplash.

I reference this portion of the letter from Middlebury student government because in their list of demands, they state that speakers must first meet the beliefs and standards as determined by the Middlebury community. Otherwise, it’s a no-go. Stranger’s efforts to expand critical thinking skills by diminishing fear of those holding different beliefs appears to have had little, if any impact at all:

Any organization or academic department that invites a speaker to campus will be required to fill out a due diligence form created by the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in coordination with the SGA Institutional Diversity Committee. These questions should be created to determine whether a speaker’s beliefs align with Middlebury’s community standards, removing the burden of researching speakers from the student body.

It’s always a shock to see college students demand that they be protected from the exposure of ideas and thoughts that don’t line up to their own. It makes me wonder exactly where the once-ubiquitous college campus rebels have gone. Anyway, it’s a shame Middlebury students didn’t have an opportunity earlier on to participate in a “political radicalism” class while in high school. If they had had the opportunity, perhaps they would be less fearful of that which is different, and instead be imbued with a confidence that negates any urge to demand that the cocoon be impenetrable:

High school seniors in suburban Columbus, Ohio, get to take a class that could well be banned on many college campuses: a political science course where speakers from the most radical groups—from neo-Nazis to die-hard communists—are invited to present their views and answer questions.

Thomas Worthington High School has offered “U.S. Political Thought and Radicalism,” or “Poli-Rad,” since 1975. That’s the year teacher Tom Molnar, now retired, came up with the idea for the class, got it approved, and then realized there was no textbook on the topic. A student suggested he invite guest speakers from across the political spectrum, and that’s what Molnar did. (It’s notable that back then, the principal not only approved this idea, he called it “brilliant.”) Now the school’s newer sister school, Worthington Kilbourne High School, offers the class too.

With a wide variety of speakers, from Bill Ayers to Richard Spencer, students are able to hear from political extremes, ask questions of them, and then formulate their own views. The class gives them the freedom to do so.

As it goes, the times certainly are changing. And that doesn’t mean for the better:

Judi Galasso, who co-teaches the class today, told Julie Carr Smyth of the Associated Press that, “In 2019, no school board in America would approve a class like this, but in Worthington, there’s no way you could get rid of it.” The school’s principal, Pete Scully, told Smyth, “In 2019, our teachers generally are like, ‘You know what? Let’s redirect to a different topic, because that one sounds like it’s loaded with land mines. The idea of poli-rad is, you know what, let’s explore all those land mines and talk about them.”

Unlike some college professors, who find themselves unable to discuss a controversial topic without being accused of endorsing it, at Worthington there seems to be a solid understanding that there is a difference between studying radicalization and actually radicalizing students. In fact, the idea of “Let’s explore all those landmines” is probably the most radical idea to which the kids are being exposed.

–Dana

4/25/2019

Sleepy Joe Is In

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 7:20 am

With a shot at Trump over his Charlottesville comments:

Trump welcomes him:

Hey, if Republicans can run a handsy old codger with a history of dishonesty and a penchant for saying goofy and inappropriate things, why can’t Democrats?

The impression I get is that a white guy isn’t woke enough for the Dems.

4/24/2019

Trump Not Too Excited About Preventing Future Russian Interference

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 8:07 am

The Mueller report paints a picture of a President who repeatedly engaged in actions that would keep the average person from getting a security clearance. He wanted to win, and he was fine with accepting Russia’s help.

Well, it’s not the first time Putin has interfered and it won’t be the last. All 2016 represented was the first time that a candidacy openly welcomed that interference.

What implications does this have going forward? A story in the New York Times answers that question.

In the months before Kirstjen Nielsen was forced to resign, she tried to focus the White House on one of her highest priorities as homeland security secretary: preparing for new and different Russian forms of interference in the 2020 election.

President Trump’s chief of staff told her not to bring it up in front of the president.

Ms. Nielsen left the Department of Homeland Security early this month after a tumultuous 16-month tenure and tensions with the White House. Officials said she had become increasingly concerned about Russia’s continued activity in the United States during and after the 2018 midterm elections — ranging from its search for new techniques to divide Americans using social media, to experiments by hackers, to rerouting internet traffic and infiltrating power grids.

But in a meeting this year, Mick Mulvaney, the White House chief of staff, made it clear that Mr. Trump still equated any public discussion of malign Russian election activity with questions about the legitimacy of his victory. According to one senior administration official, Mr. Mulvaney said it “wasn’t a great subject and should be kept below his level.”

It’s not just that these issues are kept under his level, though. The administration is doing little as a whole, and in places is actually weakening protections. The story notes that John Bolton “eliminated the position of cybersecurity coordinator at the White House last year.” Yeah, because cybersecurity is pretty much a small threat, and getting smaller all the time, amirite? Also:

Ms. Nielsen grew so frustrated with White House reluctance to convene top-level officials to come up with a governmentwide strategy that she twice pulled together her own meetings of cabinet secretaries and agency heads. They included top Justice Department, F.B.I. and intelligence officials to chart a path forward, many of whom later periodically issued public warnings about indicators that Russia was both looking for new ways to interfere and experimenting with techniques in Ukraine and Europe.

One senior official described homeland security officials as adamant that the United States government needed to significantly step up its efforts to urge the American public and companies to block foreign influence campaigns. But the department was stymied by the White House’s refusal to discuss it, the official said.

Trump’s refusal to act on interference, and his positive weakening of protections against cyber interference, makes perfect sense — not from the perspective of national security, of course, but from the perspective of amoral hardball politics. If Trump welcomed Putin’s interference as a citizen candidate — and he did — why wouldn’t he again welcome it as the incumbent? And many of his superfans — including people at this very blog — will cheer him on. Yes, there are Republicans who are so happy that Trump won and Hillary lost, that they positively applaud Vladimir Putin’s actions interfering with the election. To quote one particularly cynical Trump superfan who posts here: “if it was Russian interference which provided the tipping point which kept Hillary Clinton a private citizen, we owe Vladimir Putin a debt of gratitude which can never be fully repaid.”

Anything to keep Trump in power (within reason, for now). Whatever it takes. It’s a hardball world, and as that same commenter says: “if you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying.” (He thinks this sentiment is OK, apparently, because Joe Montana said it about the Patriots.)

After all, if we don’t cheat, lie, accept the help of murderous dictators with alacrity and glee, and break the law, then we won’t get to keep appointing judges who will help us, um, maintain the rule of law.

4/23/2019

Reasons to Question the Belief That Illegal Immigrants Are Less Criminal Than Citizens

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 8:34 pm

We often hear that illegals commit fewer crimes per capita. Our betters in the media tell us this all the time. The issue is relevant to the immigration question in general, and specifically to Trump’s dopey proposal to send illegals to sanctuary cities (which I have argued endangers the public because the criminal part of that population is more likely to evade deportation). I thought it would be worth devoting a post to questioning some of the flawed reasoning underpinning this claim.

Before I start, let me point out that none of the arguments I advance below depends upon a bigoted view of Mexicans or Central Americans as inferior or naturally prone to crime — views that I do not hold. If you’re among the subset of Trumpists who subscribes to that view, or if you’re a leftist looking for a way to call a conservative racist, move on. You’ll find nothing here to support your nasty preconceptions.

A 2017 Heritage article says:

According to a recent Associated Press article, “multiple studies have concluded that immigrants are less likely to commit crime than native-born U.S. citizens.” But the issue isn’t non-citizens who are in this country legally, and who must abide by the law to avoid having their visas revoked or their application for citizenship refused. The real issue is the crimes committed by illegal aliens. And in that context, the claim is quite misleading, because the “multiple studies” on crimes committed by “immigrants” — including a 2014 study by a professor from the University of Massachusetts, which is the only one cited in the article — combine the crime rates of both citizens and non-citizens, legal and illegal.

That isn’t the only problem with the study. Instead of using official crime data, it uses “self-reported criminal offending and country of birth information.” For obvious reasons, there is little incentive for anyone, let alone criminal aliens, to self-report “delinquent and criminal involvement.” When it comes to self-reporting criminal activity, some respondents will, no doubt, exaggerate. Others will flat out lie. Furthermore, many respondents will likely not disclose if they are a non-citizen out of fear of discovery and deportation.

(Incidentally, Cato, a libertarian outfit of the stripe that prefers open borders to make the businessmen happy, argues that illegals commit less crime but admits that much of the applicable research “combines legal and illegal immigrants to calculate a crime rate for all immigrants.”)

The Heritage piece goes on to cite some “disturbing actual data on crimes committed by criminal aliens” that tends to undercut the conventional wisdom. First, we learn that a GAO report revealed that “criminal aliens (both legal and illegal) make up 27 percent of all federal prisoners” despite making up only about “nine percent of the nation’s adult population.” That certainly seems inconsistent with the claims that they commit fewer crimes than natives. Indeed, the Heritage piece adds: “One 2001 study that does take country of origin and geographic concentration factors into account found that Mexican immigrants ‘commit between 3.5 and 5 times as many crimes as the average native.’”

And if you think this is a small problem, think again. Another GAO report set forth some of the statistics of the total numbers of crimes we are looking at — crimes committed by people who, under our law, don’t belong here in the first place. This GAO report

looked at the criminal histories of 55,322 aliens that “entered the country illegally and were still illegally in the country at the time of their incarceration in federal or state prison or local jail during fiscal year 2003.” Those 55,322 illegal aliens had been arrested 459,614 times, an average of 8.3 arrests per illegal alien, and had committed almost 700,000 criminal offenses, an average of roughly 12.7 offenses per illegal alien.

Out of all of the arrests, 12 percent were for violent crimes such as murder, robbery, assault and sex-related crimes; 15 percent were for burglary, larceny, theft and property damage; 24 percent were for drug offenses; and the remaining offenses were for DUI, fraud, forgery, counterfeiting, weapons, immigration, and obstruction of justice.

That is a lot of unnecessary crime.

Now, for some of my own analysis. To the extent that there remain any valid statistics or studies out there that do show illegal immigrants commit less crime — and perhaps there are — I believe that is a simple function of the fact that we have the ability to deport repeat offenders. Let me go through the logic.

First of all, much crime is committed by repeat offenders. Assume we have two hypothetical groups, A (citizens) and B (illegals). Assume for the same of argument that both groups are composed of the same mix of people with the same characteristics, including the same tendency towards criminality. (As we will see later, the groups are different demographically in terms of age and gender, but for now we are going to assume they are the same.) Also assume that all criminal offenders from group A (citizens) who are sent to jail or prison are returned to the streets once released from custody. Further assume that most criminal offenders from group B (illegals) who are sent to jail or prison are sent out of the country once their sentences are served.

Over a period of years, who will commit fewer crimes in the country: group A (citizens) or group B (illegals)? Likely, in our hypothetical, both will commit equal numbers of crimes overall in the world at large, since we have described the groups as being roughly equal in terms of their tendency to commit crime, for purposes of this (counterfactual) hypothetical. But group B, the group of illegals, will be committing fewer crimes in this country, since they are deported after committing their first crime that gets them incarcerated.

So when you measure the statistics of crimes committed by group A (citizens) and group B (illegals), it will appear that group B is safer overall.

But this is true only as long as you maintain the status quo, and refuse to grant legal status to illegals, and continue to deport them when they commit crimes — at least, as long as sanctuary city and sanctuary state policies are repealed or outlawed, and the machinery of deporting criminals works efficiently. As long as we can deport criminals, there will be a mechanism that tends make the illegals appear less criminal than they are innately.

But the second you start to use that “fact” to justify legalizing illegals and treating them as citizens — because hey, they commit fewer crimes than citizens! they are more desirable! — then the statistics will soon equalize again. Because once you make the illegals into citizens, you will no longer be able to deport the criminals once they get to jail.

As far as I know, any argument that says “illegals commit fewer crimes” fails to take this differential into account.

Further complicating the picture is that the demographics, in terms of gender and age, are actually quite different between citizens and illegals. National Affairs reports that illegal immigrants tend to be younger and more male:

However long they have been here, the undocumented are strikingly young. Pew reports that the median age of undocumented adults is 36.2, compared to 46.1 for legal-immigrant adults and 46.5 for native-born American adults. These numbers reflect the fact that the many risks associated with illegal status — travel through dangerous terrain, larcenous smugglers, unscrupulous employers — are more easily negotiated by the young, and particularly by young men. This is one reason why men significantly outnumber women among the illegal-immigrant population: Of the undocumented immigrants over the age of 18 currently residing in the U.S., there are approximately 5.8 million males, compared to 4.2 million females.

The age and gender profiles of the undocumented translate into a large cohort of young, unattached males — with no spouses, partners, or children, at least in this country. According to Pew, nearly half of illegal-immigrant men are “unpartnered adults without children,” while fewer than one-fifth of illegal-immigrant women are.

Most people are aware that young men commit more crimes on average than people who are not young men. So, given the higher prevalence of young men in the illegal immigrant population, you don’t have to conclude that there is anything bad or inferior about Latinos to conclude that they are more likely to commit crimes.

So I’m not convinced that the folks coming here illegally from Mexico and Central America are innately predisposed to commit less crime than citizens. There are some statistics going either way, and their large demographic cohort of young males tends to support the statistics that suggest they commit more crime. To the extent that the statistics or studies favor the proposition that they commit fewer crimes, some part of that is a function of the fact that they remain illegal and that we retain the ability to deport them after they commit crimes.

That is not an argument that we should legalize them. Moreover, it makes sanctuary city policies especially dangerous — because if the population contains more criminals, it’s that much more important for immigration officials to have access to them in custodial facilities and immediately after they are released.

Trump’s dopey proposed policy makes more illegals subject to these policies, not fewer. And the mayors of the sanctuary cities aren’t deterred. Many of them say they welcome more illegals to their cities.

So to the extent you’re relying on the notion that illegals commit less crime to support (or oppose) Trump’s policy, there’s good reason to question that assumption.

4/22/2019

Is Revealing Truth Important No Matter Where the Truth Comes From?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 7:30 am

It depends! Just ask the Trumpists.

  • Trumpists: it’s fine that the Russians hacked Democrats’ emails because it revealed truth. Revealing truth is always good no matter how the truth gets out. Free Julian Assange!
  • Also Trumpists: A bunch of embarrassing information was released on Trump in the Mueller report to just to hurt him. The people who started the Russia investigation need to go to jail.

The Mueller report is like a Rorschach inkblot. Both sides read it and think someone should go to jail. Trumpists think the people who should be jailed are the investigators. Non-Trumpists think the people who should be jailed are the people who engaged in the criminal behavior described in the report.

But I don’t see how you praise the fact that information was released through hacking, and decry information being released through the proper operation of law enforcement.

The main benefit I see of Trump being President is good judges. But good judges are important only because the rule of law is important. Meanwhile Trump is eroding and attacking the rule of law in any way possible when it comes to anything having to do with him.

The trade-off is not worth it.

4/21/2019

Sunday Music: Bach’s Easter Oratorio BWV 249

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 8:28 am

Happy Easter! Today’s Bach piece is his Easter Oratorio.

Today’s Gospel reading is John 20:1-18:

The Empty Tomb

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).

Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

The text of today’s piece is available here. It contains these words:

Come, hurry and run, you speedy feet,
reach the cavern which conceals Jesus!
Laugter and merriment
accompanies our hearts,
since our Savior is risen again.

. . . .

He is risen from the dead!
We encountered an angel
who gave us these tidings.

. . . .

We are delighted
that our Jesus lives again,
and our hearts,
which first dissolved and floated in grief,
forget the pain
and imagine songs of joy;
for our Savior lives again.

It is a day of delight. May we all put aside our differences today and be joyful.

Happy listening! Soli Deo gloria.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

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