The Jury Talks Back

5/22/2019

Investigation Findings Released: Unable To Determine Whether Gov. Northam Was In Racist Yearbook Photo

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 1:02 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Hoo-boy. First, let’s review what Gov. Northam himself said after the photo was made public. After acknowledging that the photo was “clearly racist and offensive,” he said:

I am deeply sorry for the decision I made to appear as I did in this photo and for the hurt that decision caused then and now.

A day later, he walked back his apology, denying that it was him in the picture.

Today, a 55-page report concerning an investigation into Gov. Northam’s alleged participation in the photograph was released by the law firm of McGuire Woods. Investigators stated that that they were unable to conclusively determine if the Governor was actually in said picture. Further, the report revealed that Eastern Virginia Medical School knew about the photo while Gov. Northam was running for office, but said nothing:

Lawyers hired to investigate racist content in Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbooks could not definitively say whether Gov. Ralph Northam appeared in the infamous blackface and KKK picture in the 1984 edition.

But a report released Wednesday says two EVMS presidents, including current president Richard Homan, were told about the racist photo while Northam was running for political offices and decided not to make it public.

“We understand President Homan’s reasoning was EVMS should not become involved, or be seen to become involved, in an election as it is a public body and a public institution, and that EVMS did not not want there to be any suggestion that it had tried to influence Governor Northam in any respect by calling the photograph to his attention,” the document says.

[…]

In one case, the school’s alumni affairs director noticed the photo while preparing for a reunion and was “shocked” by it, the report says. EVMS officials decided not to put the 1984 yearbook on a table with other years’ editions. The McGuire Woods lawyers say they do not know when that occurred.

“The EVMS personnel who became aware of the photograph expressed surprise and disappointment in the photograph,” the report says.

Richard V. Homan, president and provost of the EVMS School of Medicine, speaks during a press conference about Ralph Northam’s medical school yearbook page on Wednesday, May 22, 2019.

At a press conference Wednesday, Homan stood by his decision not to tell Northam or the public about the racist photo earlier.

“I would make the same decision now,” he said. “We’re apolitical, and I did not feel that it was a necessary disclosure to make.”

Questions have been raised about the impartiality of the investigation made by McGuireWoods law firm, given that team member Richard Cullen is not only a partner at McGuireWoods, but is also the former Attorney General of Virginia.

According to Cullen, the reason for Gov. Northam’s backpedal on his apology for being in blackface, was that the Governor chose to err on the side of caution but was then regretful that he hadn’t denied it.

The report says, that along with Gov. Northam and his wife, 52 people were interviewed during the investigation, and that at least one former student opted not to be interviewed.

The questions of why the governor would initially admit that it was him in the yearbook photo and then deny it was addressed by former AG Cullen at a press conference:

The best we can conclude is that he erred on the side of caution initially and immediately regretted not having denied.

It should also be noted that in the report, one verified former student claims to have been with then student Northam before their graduation, and they perused Northam’s yearbook page together. The unnamed individual claims that Northam did not voice any objections about the content of his personal page or the photographs it contained:

We also interviewed an alumnus who attended EVMS in the same timeframe as Governor Northam. This individual recalled talking to Governor Northam outside of the EVMS library in the weeks before the class of 1984 graduated. This alumni told us he and Governor Northam flipped through the 1984 yearbook together and that included looking together at Governor Northam’s personal page. This individual did not recall the Governor having any reaction to the photographs on his personal page that would suggest the Governor thought there was an error on his page. He did remember discussing the photograph featuring the car on Governor Northam’s page. This former student told us that he did not believe Governor Northam was in the Photograph.

We have verified that this individual did attend EVMS based on his inclusion in the yearbooks and student data provided by the school. The timeframe in which the individual describes this encounter with the Governor is potentially within the timeframe that yearbooks would have been distributed to students in 1984, although we lack precise information regarding when this reported encounter occurred and when specifically the 1984 yearbooks issued to students. Though the evidence as to the timing of distribution is not definitive, several individuals from the Class of 1984 have reported to us that they received the yearbooks on or shortly before graduation. Graduation occurred on June 16, 1984. We are not aware of any motive this individual would have to fabricate this account. As with all witness accounts related to the 1984 yearbook, there is the element of the passage of time and that any person’s recollection may dim after thirtyfive years. With that said, this individual did not report any difficulty of memory. We note that this account, if accurate, is apparently inconsistent with the Governor’s statement that the first time he reviewed the Photograph was on February 1, 2019.23

Following up on the former student’s claim, Gov. Northam, when asked about it said that he would not have had the discussion with a student in another class, and that he could not remember such an individual, nor having reviewed his yearbook with him before graduation.

Gov. Northam released a statement today after the investigation results were made public:

I am not in the racist and offensive photo that appears under my name in the 1984 Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook. That being said, I know and understand the events of early February and my response to them have caused hurt for many Virginians and for that, I am sorry. I felt it was important to take accountability for the photo’s presence on my page, but rather than providing clarity, I instead deepened pain and confusion.

–Dana

Media Outlets Hire Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 8:07 am

[guest post by Dana]

Remember the loud outcry when Kevin D. Williamson was hired as a contributor to The Atlantic? It was so loud in fact, that he was fired about 12 minutes later because his viewpoints were considered to be overly provocative.

Well, yesterday it was announced that former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel would be taking on the role of contributing editor at The Atlantic. He will also be joining ABC News as an on-air contributor.

Here is a quick reminder of exactly who Rahm Emanuel is, and why this is not good news coming from Big Media :

Besides the fact that Emanuel has been a mercenary politician his entire adult life, which should be disqualifying on its face, he should at the very least be blackballed from media gigs for his unrepentant and habitual violations of Illinois’ Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

Under Emanuel’s leadership, the city government was notorious for stonewalling public records requests from news outlets and activists, most notably in the case of the 2014 fatal police shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald by Chicago police.

Police dash cam video clearly contradicted the police narrative that McDonald “lunged” at an officer with a knife, but the Emanuel administration sat on the footage for more than a year—an election year, it so happens—citing an ongoing investigation. The city settled with McDonald’s family for $5 million, but part of the agreement forbid the family from releasing the tape until the “investigation” was complete. Chicago only released the video after it lost a FOIA lawsuit brought by an independent journalist, who was later barred from the press conference where the video was first shown.

“Rahm Emanuel’s administration was a FOIA disgrace, and he was no friend to the Chicago media,” says Matt Topic, a government transparency attorney at Loevy & Loevy who litigated the lawsuit over the McDonald video. “He represents everything that is wrong in government when it comes to transparency and accountability, and he was a shameless self-promoter with little regard for actual facts.”

The fight over the McDonald tape was only the most high-profile instance of Chicago dragging its feet or wrongly denying public records requests. In 2015, an Illinois judge ruled, in response to a Chicago Tribune lawsuit, that Emanuel’s office illegally withheld emails and texts from Emanuel’s private devices regarding the city’s controversial red light camera program. In 2016, Chicago paid out $670,000 in public records lawsuits. In 2019, another judge ruled that the Emanuel administration owed the Tribune $387,000 in attorney’s fees over the lawsuit for his private communications. The total cost to taxpayers exceeded $1 million. Those communications, by the way, showed a number of people illegally lobbying Emanuel.

Ironically, Emanuel’s first column as managing editor of the Ideas section at The Atlantic is titled: It’s Time to Hold American Elites Accountable for Their Abuses.

On a side note: Emanuel’s replacement, Mayor Lori Lightfoot is making some news of her own just days into the job:

New Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s security detail will be headed up by a former U.S. marshal who’s married to a city lobbyist for United Airlines, in a departure from Chicago mayors traditionally relying on city police officers to keep them safe.

James Smith is a managing partner at Silver Star Protection Group. His wife is Margaret Houlihan-Smith, the onetime managing director of corporate and government affairs for United. Houlihan-Smith now lobbies the city on behalf of United and AT&T, according to city records.

Lightfoot’s administration will look to Smith to coordinate her security rather than relying primarily on the Chicago Police Department. It was unclear Tuesday how Smith would be paid.

Lightfoot spokeswoman Anel Ruiz confirmed that Smith was working for Lightfoot in that security capacity. She did not respond to questions about whether it’s appropriate for the person running the mayor’s security detail to be married to a corporate lobbyist. Lightfoot campaigned on a pledge to end the influence of political insiders at City Hall.

–Dana

5/21/2019

Los Angeles: Piles of Rotting Trash, Rampant Rats, And Fears Of a New Epidemic

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 7:42 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Every big city has its share of problems stemming from large populations, housing shortages, homeless encampments, unemployment – you name it. But a report released yesterday about the city of Los Angeles and its piles of rotting trash and rat infestation was shocking nonetheless:

Rat-infested piles of rotting garbage left uncollected by the city of Los Angeles, even after promises to clean it up, are fueling concerns about a new epidemic after last year’s record number of flea-borne typhus cases.

Even the city’s most notorious trash pile, located between downtown LA’s busy Fashion and Produce districts, continues to be a magnet for rats after it was cleaned up months ago. The rodents can carry typhus-infected fleas, which can spread the disease to humans through bacteria rubbed into the eyes or cuts and scrapes on the skin, resulting in severe flu-like symptoms.

The NBC4 I-Team first told Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office about the piles of filth in the 700 block of Ceres Avenue in October. At the time, he promised to make sure trash doesn’t pile up like that.

The garbage was cleaned after the interview, but conditions have worsened over the next seven months.

They’re not kidding. But sadly, city government doesn’t seem to regard the “humanitarian crisis” with the same level of urgency as the residents. Consider, that after a reporter made a call to the city’s service hotline to request a massive cleanup of rotting trash, food, and waste on Cerres Street, the reporter was told that it would take up to 90 days before it would be cleaned. That means in the middle of summer when the heat will have already provided an even more robust breeding ground for bacteria and rot.

Shockingly, unlike New York City and Washington D.C. where designated teams are charged with focusing solely on aggressively keeping the rat population under control, Los Angeles has no such plan in place. Nor are there any plans in the offing.

When confronted about the lack of a designated team to attack the problem, as well as the lack of an overall long-term (or even short-term) plan, a local official breezily dismissed the inquiry:

“It’s something that we’ll look into,” said Pepe Garica, of Los Angeles’ bureau of sanitation.

I’m guessing Garcia, and even the Mayor himself have absolutely no clue how to gain control over this disaster.

And most disturbingly:

Rats carrying typhus-infected fleas were found around LA last fall, according to county health department records… The agency did not provide details about where the fleas were found, saying that information would cause confusion and unnecessary alarm, but… typhus-infected fleas were found on animals waiting to be adopted at the North Central Animal Shelter.

Between 2013 and 2017, county residents reported a yearly average of nearly 60 cases. That’s twice as many the number reported in the previous five years.

Last year, a record 124 cases were reported in Los Angeles County.

This speaks directly to why Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, of UCLA, believes there is no time to waste. As he said, the trash and rat problems in Los Angeles rate right up there with slums he has seen in the third world.

One of the reporters involved in writing this piece, Joel Grover, was interviewed on a local Los Angeles radio station tonight. He said that the report garnered an avalanche of comments on Twitter and Facebook, and that the overwhelming majority of comments expressed anger at Mayor Garcetti and city officials for allowing things to deteriorate so badly, and that they have been completely unresponsive to concerns of the city’s residents. Grover then followed up saying that he had attempted to contact Mayor Garcetti for a comment about the story when it was published, and was told by his spokesperson that he was currently traveling out of the city. Funny though, as Grover noted, the Mayor had plenty of time to tweet about climate change.

–Dana

Rep. Brian Sims (D-PA) Refuses To Apologize To Females He Bullied In Front Of Planned Parenthood

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 8:43 am

[guest post by Dana]

What an absolute sleaze. But then we already knew that…

As you may recall, Democrat Brian Sims harassed and bullied a woman who was quietly praying in front a Philadelphia Planned Parenthood. He videotaped himself haranguing her, and then posted it on line. Notable was his attempt to find out her home address so that he could continue his bullying in front of her home. See video below:

Sims also harassed 13 year old and 15 year old Catholic sister who were praying in front of Planned Parenthood with their mother. He offered to pay $100 to anyone who could identify them:

In an effort to turn an ugly situation into something positive, the girls’ parents, Joe and Ashley Garecht began a GoFundMe page after the “shameful and unacceptable” harassment and attempted doxxing of their daughters. As a result, they raised over $100,000 for a Philadelphia pro-life organization.

Joe Garecht told Sims:

“Brian, if you have a problem with my wife and daughters praying outside of an abortion clinic, I’m the one you can talk to… instead of harassing teenage girls.”

Confirming that he is but a little, wormy pustule on the ass of society, Sims, feeling the heat over his bullying, apologized … to Planned Parenthood:

“My emotions took over because I was, and am, angry,” said Sims. “I’m angry that despite abortion being legal everywhere, anti-choice zealots are causing panic, anger, confusion, and rage for so many women.”

I should not have disrespected Planned Parenthood’s policies of not engaging with protesters. For that, I’m absolutely sorry,” said Sims.

Before Sims’ non-apology, it was reported that “Democratic leaders addressed the matter with Sims privately and are satisfied it will not be repeated.” The public silence from Democratic women after the videos were posted online was deafening. Now, after Sims has refused to apologize directly to the women he stalked, offended, bullied and threatened to dox, there is still a wall of silence. Why isn’t Sims’ egregious abuse of power enough to compel a public condemnation by his female colleagues? After all, it seems that every few days the patriarchy is being blamed for yet another misery, or perceived misery. And yet no one seems disturbed enough to publicly shame Sims, who behaved in an undeniably disgusting manner toward women. Further, with a record number of Democratic women seeking the presidency, Sims is clearly the ultimate poster boy exampling what utterly unacceptable treatment of women looks like. But no, Democratic women who fairly continuously rage about the evils of men – and white men at that – just don’t have the honesty it takes to be even-handed in their condemnation of men behaving badly, or the grit necessary to honor their principles by taking a public stand against one of their own. For the thousandth time, this is a huge reason why women on the left side of the aisle, who claim to be fighting for the continued protections of women’s rights, are now seen as little more than panty-twisting, whiny harridans. Because when push comes to shove, they can’t even make a solid, public stand against a bullying male lawmaker. On the upside, this is a teachable moment for girls and young women everywhere as they see for themselves that those talking the talk does not mean, by any stretch of the imagination, that they will also walk the walk. Especially not when it’s inconvenient.

Of course, we know that what unites the women on the left side of the aisle and the pathetic Sims is their shared worship at the altar of baby killing. What hypocrites!

–Dana

5/20/2019

Justin Amash Update

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 3:31 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Quick update: As anticipated, Justin Amash is going to be facing a primary challenge. He has also pushed back against his critics after asserting that the President had engaged in “impeachable conduct”:

People who say there were no underlying crimes and therefore the president could not have intended to illegally obstruct the investigation—and therefore cannot be impeached—are resting their argument on several falsehoods:

1. They say there were no underlying crimes.

In fact, there were many crimes revealed by the investigation, some of which were charged, and some of which were not but are nonetheless described in Mueller’s report.

2. They say obstruction of justice requires an underlying crime.

In fact, obstruction of justice does not require the prosecution of an underlying crime, and there is a logical reason for that. Prosecutors might not charge a crime precisely *because* obstruction of justice denied them timely access to evidence that could lead to a prosecution.

If an underlying crime were required, then prosecutors could charge obstruction of justice only if it were unsuccessful in completely obstructing the investigation. This would make no sense.

3. They imply the president should be permitted to use any means to end what he claims to be a frivolous investigation, no matter how unreasonable his claim.

In fact, the president could not have known whether every single person Mueller investigated did or did not commit any crimes.
4. They imply “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” requires charges of a statutory crime or misdemeanor.

In fact, “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” is not defined in the Constitution and does not require corresponding statutory charges. The context implies conduct that violates the public trust—and that view is echoed by the Framers of the Constitution and early American scholars.

P.S. From Justin Amash’s challenger Michigan State Rep. Jim Lower’s campaign website. Note what he leads with:

I am a Pro-Trump, Pro-Life, Pro-Jobs, Pro-2nd Amendment, Pro-Family Values Republican. Congressman Justin Amash’s tweets calling for President Trump’s impeachment show how out of touch he is with the truth and how out of touch he is with people he represents. Amash has not only failed to support President Trump as the President works to make the United States stronger and safer, he has now united with radical liberals like Democratic Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) to try and bring down our President. He must be replaced and I am going to do it.

–Dana

Morehouse College: Billionaire Will Pay Off Class of 2019 Student Loans

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 9:09 am

[guest post by Dana]

I realize it’s Monday morning and that’s a time for hard news posting, but when gracious generosity takes center stage, it’s a good reminder that in the midst of a hurly-burly world, the act of helping others is still very much in play:

Morehouse College seniors got a surprise Sunday when billionaire investor Robert F. Smith announced during his commencement speech that he would pay off the student loan debt for the historically black college’s graduating class.

“On behalf of the eight generations of my family who have been in this country, we’re going to put a little fuel in your bus,” he told the newly minted graduates in Atlanta before saying his family was creating a grant to eliminate their student loans.
The announcement was met with a standing ovation and chants of “MVP!”

“Now, I know my class will make sure they pay this forward,” he continued. “I want my class to look at these (alumni) — these beautiful Morehouse brothers — and let’s make sure every class has the same opportunity going forward because we are enough to take care of our own community. We are enough to ensure we have all the opportunities of the American dream.”

The gift involves 396 students’ loans and is expected to cost approximately $40 million.

Student reaction was about as you would expect:

“We’re looking at each other like, ‘Is he being serious?’ That’s a lot of money,” salutatorian Robert James, 21, said.

Jonathan Epps, 22, said Sunday afternoon he still hadn’t fully grasped the magnitude of the “tremendous blessing,” which he called the kindest, most generous thing he’d ever witnessed.

“It’ll sink in as the years go on. I know that for a fact,” he said. “I still don’t really have words. … It makes a great day just that much better.”

Epps said he has about $35,000 in student loan debt that his parents in Pleasanton, California, had pledged to help him pay off. He couldn’t wait to break the news to them, he said.

A classmate, Elijah Nesly Dormeus, is the first of nine kids to graduate college. His mother made many sacrifices working minimum-wage jobs to provide for him and his eight siblings after Dormeus’ father died when he was 5. In addition to the 22-year-old New Yorker’s own $90,000 debt, he said his mother took out a loan to help get him through school.”All her serving, all her giving was not in vain,” Dormeus said when asked what Smith’s gift meant to his family.

Art major Charles Releford III also has numerous siblings, and his mother, Tonga, wants them all to be part of the “Spelhouse family,” meaning they hope to attend Morehouse or the nearby all-women’s Spelman College.

“For me, the parent of four, it opened up so many opportunities for the younger siblings of the Releford family,” she said.
Charles Releford said he’d accumulated about $70,000 in loan debt during his time at Morehouse, and though the aspiring illustrator doesn’t have a job lined up, he was already thinking about how he would pay back the money.

After Smith’s announcement, though, “I’m really excited to see where my life can go now because all different avenues are open now so I’m not held down. There’s no burden, student loans — I’m debt-free,” Releford said.

Here is some background on Smith:

Smith is the founder, chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, an investment firm with offices in several cities including San Francisco, New York City and Austin. According to its website, Vista has $46 billion in capital committed to companies specializing in data, software and technology. According to Forbes, Vista is one of the best-performing private equity firms, with annualized returns of 22% since it was founded.

Prior to founding Vista, Smith worked in tech investment banking with Goldman Sachs…

He is worth $5 billion… 355th on Forbes’ Billionaires 2019 list…the nation’s wealthiest African American.

In 2016, Smith pledged $50 million to his alma mater Cornell University toward the school’s college of engineering.

Smith is also the only African American to sign the Giving Pledge, an initiative created by billionaires Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett aimed at urging the world’s billionaires to donate their wealth toward charitable causes.

Smith’s mission:

I will never forget that my path was paved by my parents, grandparents and generations of African-Americans whose names I will never know. Their struggles, their courage, and their progress allowed me to strive and achieve. My story would only be possible in America, and it is incumbent on all of us to pay this inheritance forward.

(Note: I personally chose to focus on the generosity of one individual in this post rather than examine the ramifications of an art major accumulating $70,000 in student debt and the problem of student loan debt in general. Please feel free to discuss any aspect of the report.)

–Dana

5/19/2019

Rep. Justin Amash: First Congressional Republican To Claim President Trump “Engaged In Impeachable Conduct”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 11:35 am

[guest post by Dana]

After reading Mueller’s redacted report in its entirety, Michigan Republican Representative Justin Amash publicly shared his reaction yesterday. Ultimately, he believes President Trump did indeed “engage in impeachable conduct”. His conclusion is entirely at odds with the “No Collusion! No Obstruction!” party line lead by the President.

I’m going to post Rep. Amash’s full comments rather than summing them up. One general point he makes that stands out to me is the danger of allowing party loyalty (and loyalty to a president) to supersede loyalty to the Constitution. I’ve been harping about this forever: Loyalty to one’s party (and the President) is a faulty starting point for being able to accurately and objectively assess our elected officials and hold them accountable. It’s worth noting that Rep. Amash is being entirely consistent in his stated beliefs about the role of an elected official:

Untitled

From Rep. Amash:

Here are my principal conclusions:
1. Attorney General Barr has deliberately misrepresented Mueller’s report.
2. President Trump has engaged in impeachable conduct.
3. Partisanship has eroded our system of checks and balances.
4. Few members of Congress have read the report.

I offer these conclusions only after having read Mueller’s redacted report carefully and completely, having read or watched pertinent statements and testimony, and having discussed this matter with my staff, who thoroughly reviewed materials and provided me with further analysis.

In comparing Barr’s principal conclusions, congressional testimony, and other statements to Mueller’s report, it is clear that Barr intended to mislead the public about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s analysis and findings.

Barr’s misrepresentations are significant but often subtle, frequently taking the form of sleight-of-hand qualifications or logical fallacies, which he hopes people will not notice.

Under our Constitution, the president “shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” While “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” is not defined, the context implies conduct that violates the public trust.

Contrary to Barr’s portrayal, Mueller’s report reveals that President Trump engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meet the threshold for impeachment.

In fact, Mueller’s report identifies multiple examples of conduct satisfying all the elements of obstruction of justice, and undoubtedly any person who is not the president of the United States would be indicted based on such evidence.

Impeachment, which is a special form of indictment, does not even require probable cause that a crime (e.g., obstruction of justice) has been committed; it simply requires a finding that an official has engaged in careless, abusive, corrupt, or otherwise dishonorable conduct.

While impeachment should be undertaken only in extraordinary circumstances, the risk we face in an environment of extreme partisanship is not that Congress will employ it as a remedy too often but rather that Congress will employ it so rarely that it cannot deter misconduct.

Our system of checks and balances relies on each branch’s jealously guarding its powers and upholding its duties under our Constitution. When loyalty to a political party or to an individual trumps loyalty to the Constitution, the Rule of Law—the foundation of liberty—crumbles.

We’ve witnessed members of Congress from both parties shift their views 180 degrees—on the importance of character, on the principles of obstruction of justice—depending on whether they’re discussing Bill Clinton or Donald Trump.

Few members of Congress even read Mueller’s report; their minds were made up based on partisan affiliation—and it showed, with representatives and senators from both parties issuing definitive statements on the 448-page report’s conclusions within just hours of its release.

America’s institutions depend on officials to uphold both the rules and spirit of our constitutional system even when to do so is personally inconvenient or yields a politically unfavorable outcome. Our Constitution is brilliant and awesome; it deserves a government to match it.

President Trump, unsurprisingly, came out swinging:

Untitled

It’s too soon to say whether any other Republican lawmakers will come out in agreement with Rep. Amash. As of this posting, I could only find one Republican lawmaker who has commented on Rep. Amash’s statement. This was Sen. Mitt Romney to Jake Tapper this morning:

My own view is that Justin Amash has reached a different conclusion than I have. I respect him, I think it’s a courageous statement.

The American people just aren’t there. The Senate is certainly not there, either.

[…]

I also believe that an impeachment call is not only something that relates to the law but also considers practicality and politics, and the American people just aren’t there…

And from RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, a jab at Rep. Amash, who has said that he “can’t rule out” running for president as a Libertarian.”:

It’s sad to see Congressman Amash parroting the Democrats’ talking points on Russia. The only people still fixated on the Russia collusion hoax are political foes of President Trump hoping to defeat him in 2020 by any desperate means possible. Voters in Amash’s district strongly support this President, and would rather their Congressman work to support the President’s policies that have brought jobs, increased wages and made life better for Americans.

–Dana

Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 95

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 12:01 am

It is the fifth Sunday of Easter. Today’s Bach cantata is “Christus, der ist mein Leben” (Christ, he is my life)

Today’s Gospel reading is John 13:31-35:

When he was gone, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.

“My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

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

If a shepherd now seeks his lost sheep,
how shall Jesus not find me again,
since He is my head and I am one of His members!
Thus I can now, with joyful spirit,
establish my blessed resurrection in my Savior.

Happy listening! Soli Deo gloria.

5/18/2019

Trump’s Influence On The 2020 Democratic Primary

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 10:34 am

[guest post by Dana]

Upon his announcement that he was throwing his hat in the ring for 2020, Joe Biden’s early polling numbers have consistently shown him dominating his nearly two dozen competitors. In a fractured party where many of the candidates are running from the far left lane, Biden is now viewed as the moderate Democrat. In light of this, it is interesting to consider whether candidates who have been desperately trying to outwoke each other may have actually done themselves a disservice:

It’s not just Biden’s rising poll numbers that suggest that the activist left is out of step with most Democrats; it’s the ideological makeup of the entire Democratic Party. Fifty-six percent of Democrats self-identify as “moderate” and 9 percent even embrace “conservative,” according to an April poll from the Judy Ford Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University. While leftist activists pine for the end of the legislative filibuster to grease the skids for partisan legislation, a December GW Politics poll found that 66 percent of Democrats said they prefer elected officials who “make compromises with people they disagree with” over those who “stick to their positions.” Only 36 percent of Republicans said the same.

[…]

The Democrats didn’t just underestimate Joe Biden’s personal appeal (at least so far), but it appears they also underestimated the size of his ideological lane. As Democrats stampeded left, with even more “moderate” candidates like Beto arguing for tearing down existing border walls, Biden was left largely alone to position himself as the ideal candidate for a whopping 65 percent of the Democratic electorate. Which of the “woke” candidates is best-positioned to challenge Biden for that enormous slice of the Democratic voting public? Meanwhile, the progressive (mostly white) wing of the primary is crowded and competitive.

Moreover, key candidates have made such extreme statements in the effort to appeal to what turned out to be the Democratic minority that they’ve rendered themselves more vulnerable in the general election. It’s hard to walk back pledges to wipe away private health insurance or tear down border walls, for example. It turns out that dreams of a united, energized progressive tidal wave may well die in the face of a more-moderate electorate that mainly seeks a return to normalcy, modest reforms, and an end to daily political drama.

Which leads to Rich Lowry wondering about the reality of Trump’s influence on Democratic voters:

What if Donald Trump hasn’t driven Democrats insane, sending them into a spiral of self-defeating radicalism, but instead made them shockingly pragmatic?

Biden’s early strength suggests it may be the latter, that the reaction to Trump is so intense that it has crossed some sort of event horizon from fevered fantasy of his leaving office early via resignation or impeachment to a cold-eyed, win-at-any-cost practicality.

If this is true, one of the exogenous factors that could appreciably increase Trump’s odds of reelection — a zany Democratic nomination contest leading to a nominee much too far left for the American electorate — may not materialize.

The commonsense play for Democrats has always been to nominate a nonsocialist with appeal to Obama-to-Trump voters in former blue wall states — if not necessarily Biden, then someone with a similar relatively moderate profile.

If hardly dispositive, Biden’s robust numbers at least suggest that this play is more likely than it seemed in the very early going, when candidates were stumbling over one another apologizing for sundry alleged offenses in the Woke Olympics.

If that’s not going to be the true dynamic of the race, I’m as surprised as anyone, having written often about the leftward lurch of the party. What’s extraordinary, though, is that almost every Democratic candidate might have been misreading it as well and chasing the wrong rabbit down the track.

Whether the general election ends up between these two rich, old white guys remains to be seen. As it stands now, in spite of Biden’s many liabilities, early polls focused on the general election show Biden leading Trump. Biden is reportedly going to focus on a unity v. division theme at his kickoff rally, claiming that Trump has divided the country on race, religion, ethnicity and sexual orientation, and that America needs a president who represents all Americans, not just Trump’s base. Although it’s still early, Trump has locked onto Biden, with his familiar lay-him-low-from-the-get-go strategy:

[S]ome Democrats, having witnessed how Mr. Trump lampooned and eventually bulldozed the Republican field in 2016, are nervous that Mr. Trump has shrewdly chosen to define Mr. Biden as the front-runner early on, identifying him as the greatest threat in a general election.

–Dana

5/17/2019

San Francisco Bans Use Of Facial-Recognition Technology By Law Enforcement

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 12:44 pm

[guest post by Dana]

San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors voted 8-1 this week to ban what many police departments consider a useful investigative tool:

The ban is part of a broader anti-surveillance ordinance that the city’s Board of Supervisors approved on Tuesday. The ordinance, which outlaws the use of facial-recognition technology by police and other government departments, could also spur other local governments to take similar action. Eight of the board’s 11 supervisors voted in favor of it; one voted against it, and two who support it were absent.

[…]

San Francisco’s new rule, which is set to go into effect in a month, forbids the use of facial-recognition technology by the city’s 53 departments — including the San Francisco Police Department, which doesn’t currently use such technology but did test it out between 2013 and 2017. However, the ordinance carves out an exception for federally controlled facilities at San Francisco International Airport and the Port of San Francisco. The ordinance doesn’t prevent businesses or residents from using facial recognition or surveillance technology in general — such as on their own security cameras. And it also doesn’t do anything to limit police from, say, using footage from a person’s Nest camera to assist in a criminal case.

“We all support good policing but none of us want to live in a police state,” San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who introduced the bill earlier this year, told CNN Business ahead of the vote.

Another stated problem with using the technology is the issue of a built-in bias which can lead to incorrectly identifying certain groups:

There are concerns that they are not as effective at correctly recognizing people of color and women. One reason for this issue is that the datasets used to train the software may be disproportionately male and white.

The decision will also make it more difficult for city agencies to continue the usage of any surveillance programs:

Any city department that wants to use surveillance technology or services (such as the police department if it were interested in buying new license-plate readers, for example) must first get approval from the Board of Supervisors. That process will include submitting information about the technology and how it will be used, and presenting it at a public hearing. With the new rule, any city department that already uses surveillance tech will need to tell the board how it is being used.

The ordinance also states that the city will need to report to the Board of Supervisors each year on whether surveillance equipment and services are being used in the ways for which they were approved, and include details like what data was kept, shared or erased.

Yet one needs to also consider the benefits of law enforcement (at large) using the technology in fighting crime:

Perhaps the most compelling argument for FRS is that it can make law enforcement more efficient. FRS allows a law enforcement agency to run a photograph of someone just arrested through its databases to identify the person and see if he or she is wanted for other offenses. It also can help law enforcement officers who are out on patrol or monitoring a heavily populated event identify wanted criminals if and as they encounter them.

Imagine a law enforcement officer wearing a body camera with FRS software identifying, from within a huge crowd, a person suspected of planning to detonate a bomb. The ambient presence of FRS applied to a feed from stadium cameras would allow law enforcement to identify dangerous attendees in cooperation with the company managing event security.

There are many contexts in which this law enforcement technology has already been brought to bear. Beyond spotting threats in a crowd, facial recognition software can be used to quickly suss out perpetrators of identity fraud; the New York Department of Motor Vehicles’ Facial Recognition Technology Program has been doing just that, with 21,000 possible identity fraud cases identified since 2010. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is also experimenting with FRS to assist in identifying abducted and exploited children. Just this month, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has started teaming up with airlines in Boston, Atlanta, Washington, and New York to use FRS for boarding pass screening. In a safety context, some American schools are installing cameras with FRS to identify the presence of gang members, fired employees, and sex offenders on school grounds.

In spite of the Fourth Amendment and cited benefits of the technology, those supporting the need to ban facial recognition technology as used by law enforcement are worried about a larger, more threatening picture :

Civil libertarians worry that the technology could morph into pervasive automated authoritarianism in which individuals can be tracked everywhere, in real time, similar to the version being developed by the Chinese government. The Chinese government reportedly aims, as part of its Skynet surveillance system, to add an additional 400 million video cameras to its existing 170 million over the next three years. The cameras employ real time facial recognition technology.

Where do you draw the line: Ban it altogether or closely regulate its usage because of the risks associated with it? Which reminds me, the New York City Police Department – an agency where facial recognition has reportedly helped break open more than 2,500 cases – used the face of a well-known celebrity (apparently without his knowledge) in order to help identify a suspect:

The New York Police Department used a photo of Woody Harrelson in its facial recognition program in an attempt to identify a beer thief who looked like the actor, according to a report published Thursday.

Georgetown University’s Center on Privacy and Technology highlighted the April 2017 episode in “Garbage In, Garbage Out,” a report on what it says are flawed practices in law enforcement’s use of facial recognition.

The report says security footage of the thief was too pixelated and produced no matches while high-quality images of Harrelson, a three-time Oscar nominee, returned several possible matches and led to one arrest.

–Dana

AP Headline: “A pregnant man’s tragedy tests gender notions”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 7:21 am

The AP has an article titled Blurred lines: A pregnant man’s tragedy tests gender notions:

When the man arrived at the hospital with severe abdominal pains, a nurse didn’t consider it an emergency, noting that he was obese and had stopped taking blood pressure medicines. In reality, he was pregnant — a transgender man in labor that was about to end in a stillbirth.

The tragic case, described in Wednesday’s New England Journal of Medicine, points to larger issues about assigning labels or making assumptions in a society increasingly confronting gender variations in sports, entertainment and government. In medicine, there’s a similar danger of missing diseases such as sickle cell and cystic fibrosis that largely affect specific racial groups, the authors write.

“The point is not what’s happened to this particular individual but this is an example of what happens to transgender people interacting with the health care system,” said the lead author, Dr. Daphna Stroumsa of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

“He was rightly classified as a man” in the medical records and appears masculine, Stroumsa said. “But that classification threw us off from considering his actual medical needs.”

Does it make sense to say the patient “was rightly classified as a man,” given what happened?

It’s likely that classification of this patient as a woman would have provided a better chance for the baby’s survival:

The 32-year-old patient told the nurse he was transgender when he arrived at the emergency room and his electronic medical record listed him as male. He hadn’t had a period in several years and had been taking testosterone, a hormone that has masculinizing effects and can decrease ovulation and menstruation. But he quit taking the hormone and blood pressure medication after he lost insurance.

A home pregnancy test was positive and he said he had “peed himself” — a possible sign of ruptured membranes and labor. A nurse ordered a pregnancy test but considered him stable and his problems non-urgent.

Several hours later, a doctor evaluated him and the hospital test confirmed pregnancy. An ultrasound showed unclear signs of fetal heart activity, and an exam revealed that part of the umbilical cord had slipped into the birth canal. Doctors prepared to do an emergency cesarean delivery, but in the operating room no fetal heartbeat was heard. Moments later, the man delivered a stillborn baby.

A woman showing up with similar symptoms “would almost surely have been triaged and evaluated more urgently for pregnancy-related problems,” the authors wrote.

But the patient was a woman, at least for purposes of medical professionals trying to assess what to do. It was the “proper” classification of the patient as a man that increased the chance of this tragic outcome.

I’m not here to mock or deride anyone who believes that they were born the wrong gender. I can understand why people like that want to be called by their preferred gender. However, as Ben Shapiro likes to say, facts don’t care about your feelings — and biology doesn’t care what you choose to call yourself. Medical professionals have to have a better way to deal with such situations than shrugging their collective shoulders and doing the same thing.

5/16/2019

Harvard University: Law Professor Defending Harvey Weinstein Will Be Relieved Of His Position As Faculty Dean

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 10:17 am

[guest post by Dana]

A noted Harvard law professor and faculty dean has paid a high price for acting on the fundamental tenet of the justice system that even a creep like Harvey Weinstein deserves representation and a vigorous defense:

Harvard said on Saturday that a law professor who has represented Harvey Weinstein would not continue as faculty dean of an undergraduate house after his term ends on June 30, bowing to months of pressure from students.

The professor, Ronald S. Sullivan Jr., and his wife, Stephanie Robinson, who is a lecturer at the law school, have been the faculty deans of Winthrop House, one of Harvard’s residential houses for undergraduate students, since 2009. They were the first African-American faculty deans in Harvard’s history.

But when Mr. Sullivan joined the defense team of Mr. Weinstein, the Hollywood producer, in January, many students expressed dismay, saying that his decision to represent a person accused of abusing women disqualified Mr. Sullivan from serving in a role of support and mentorship to students. Mr. Weinstein is scheduled to go to trial in September in Manhattan on rape and related charges.

The report makes several things clear: the need for a sudden “climate review” of Winthrop House was suspect, and that the dean of Harvard College has very little appetite for standing up to childish mobs:

As the protests continued, with graffiti aimed at Mr. Sullivan appearing on a university building, Harvard administrators said they would conduct what they called a climate review of Winthrop House. In recent weeks, tensions have escalated, with a student sit-in and a lawsuit sparked by a clash between one of the protest leaders and two Winthrop House staff members who were seen as supporting Mr. Sullivan.

On Saturday, the dean of Harvard College, Rakesh Khurana, sent an email to students and staff members at Winthrop House, informing them that he would not renew the appointments of Mr. Sullivan and Ms. Robinson as faculty deans after their terms end on June 30. Mr. Khurana said in his email that the decision was informed “by a number of considerations.”

“Over the last few weeks, students and staff have continued to communicate concerns about the climate in Winthrop House to the college,” he wrote. “The concerns expressed have been serious and numerous. The actions that have been taken to improve the climate have been ineffective, and the noticeable lack of faculty dean presence during critical moments has further deteriorated the climate in the house. I have concluded that the situation in the house is untenable.”

Sullivan, who announced this week that he has stepped down from representing Weinstein due to a scheduling conflict (but will be available for consultation), addressed the perceived conflict:

“My decision to represent Mr. Weinstein sparked considerable discussion and activism around issues of sexual violence, the appropriate role and responsibilities of Harvard and its faculty in addressing those issues, and the tension between protecting the rights of those criminally accused and validating the experience of those who are survivors of sexual violence. My representation of those accused of sexual assault does not speak to my personal views on any of these matters.”

Along with 52 colleagues who signed a letter in support of Sullivan, saying that “…represent[ing] an unpopular client was fully consistent with his roles as law professor and faculty dean,” Professor Randall Kennedy also wrote an op-ed that is worth reading in full:

The upshot is that Harvard College appears to have ratified the proposition that it is inappropriate for a faculty dean to defend a person reviled by a substantial number of students — a position that would disqualify a long list of stalwart defenders of civil liberties and civil rights, including Charles Hamilton Houston and Thurgood Marshall.

Student opposition to Mr. Sullivan has hinged on the idea of safety — that they would not feel safe confiding in Mr. Sullivan about matters having to do with sexual harassment or assault given his willingness to serve as a lawyer for Mr. Weinstein. Let’s assume the good faith of such declarations (though some are likely mere parroting). Even still, they should not be accepted simply because they represent sincere beliefs or feelings.

Suppose atheist students claimed that they did not feel “safe” confiding in a faculty dean who was an outspoken Christian or if conservative students claimed that they did not feel “safe” confiding in a faculty dean who was a prominent leftist. One would hope that university officials would say more than that they “take seriously” the concerns raised and fears expressed. One would hope that they would say that Harvard University defends — broadly — the right of people to express themselves aesthetically, ideologically, intellectually and professionally. One would hope that they would say that the acceptability of a faculty dean must rest upon the way in which he meets his duties, not on his personal beliefs or professional associations. One would hope, in short, that Harvard would seek to educate its students and not simply defer to vague apprehensions or pander to the imperatives of misguided rage.

That Khurana caved in his decision not only [mistakenly] validated student claims that Sullivan’s representation of Weinstein was “deeply trauma-inducing,” but also, ironically, caused students to lose out on an important teachable moment at one of our nation’s most prestigious institutions of higher learning. This especially as Khurana said in a recent interview when asked about Sullivan’s decision to represent Weinstein:

“I think a faculty member is given academic freedom to make decisions that are right for them,” Khurana said. “I also think that every individual is entitled to a vigorous defense. It’s a cornerstone of our justice system.”

–Dana

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