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Friday, May 01, 2015

Cruising the Web

Now that Bernie Sanders has entered the race, he has become, as Byron York writes, he has become the "new Elizabeth Warren."
A new Iowa survey by the Democratic polling firm PPP finds Clinton with an overwhelming lead over the Democratic pack — no news there. But PPP also found that, while the former secretary of state is the choice of 62 percent of Democrats surveyed, Sanders is now in double digits, with 14 percent saying they support him. (Martin O'Malley is at 6 percent, Jim Webb at 3 percent, and Lincoln Chafee at two percent, while 13 percent say they are not sure who they support.)

Given the peculiar character of the Democratic race, just being in double digits qualifies a candidate as a legitimate opponent of Clinton. And PPP numbers also put Sanders in double digits in New Hampshire. "We've now found that in both Iowa and New Hampshire, Sanders is the second choice," says PPP director Tom Jensen. "If there really is a desire on the far left for anyone else — now that they're not going to get Warren — Sanders may be their guy."

What appears to have happened is that Sanders has become a stand-in for Warren among those Democrats who wanted the Massachusetts senator to run and are disappointed that she has declined. They have now transferred their support to the next-best candidate to represent their point of view, and that is Sanders.
I think that at some point, one of these lesser candidates will emerge as the winner of the votes of Democrats who are dissatisfied with Hillary Clinton as their party's candidate. Bernie Sanders may well be the only reasonable candidate on the left of Hillary Clinton in the Democratic race and if that is so, his vote totals would be artificially inflated because as he becomes the repository of the ABC votes - Anyone But Clinton. So the question will become, how low a vote for Hillary will be necessary for the media to regard it as a major slap in the face. She'll win the primary and caucus votes, but would a vote of maybe 60 or 70% be alarming for Democrats if her only opposition is Bernie Sanders, Martin O'Malley, and James Webb?

Sean Trende analyzes whether Hillary Clinton can keep the Obama coalition together and turning out in the same numbers and how that concern explains why she's moving to the left in her current race for the presidency.
This brings us back to Beutler’s argument that the decision to shift leftward is made by the Clinton campaign from a position of strength, and provides evidence of a belief that Obama’s coalition is both transferable and larger than the Republican coalition.

I would call this the optimistic interpretation (from a liberal perspective) of her moves, even if you accept that this is simply cynical gamesmanship on her part. The pessimistic interpretation would stem from one of the theses of my book, “The Lost Majority”: that Obama modified Bill Clinton’s coalition into a narrower, deeper one. This enabled Obama to win a victory in 2008 that was almost as large as Clinton’s 1996 win without bringing Appalachians or working-class whites on board. The problem with such a coalition is that it doesn’t allow for much flexibility: At least for now, Democrats have to run up the score with different groups in order to win.

Under the pessimistic take, the Clinton Coalition is simply gone. Bill Clinton had managed to keep Appalachian voters and working-class whites in the Democratic camp through skillful positioning and a bit of luck. But over the course of the next decade, these voters finally broke with the Democrats. This occurred at the presidential level in 2004 and 2008, then occurred at the senatorial level in 2010 and 2014, when relatively conservative Democrats like Mark Pryor and Mary Landrieu found they could no longer win with a Clintonian formula (in fact, they couldn’t come close to winning). This was a break that was a long time coming, but given that it has filtered down to congressional and even state legislative offices, it seems like it will be difficult to reverse.

So from the pessimistic standpoint (again, from the liberal perspective), Clinton is running leftward not because she believes it is the best way to win, but because she believes that she has no choice.

Jonah Goldberg is struck by how many liberals don't like to call themselves liberals. They're progressive or pragmatic, but not liberal.
Meanwhile, with the obvious exception of gay rights, the country simply hasn’t moved left with the Democratic party. In 2012, political scientist James Stimson found that the American public was more conservative than at any time since 1952.

This is one reason Obama’s “what works” presidency hasn’t worked for the Democrats. By committing to a left-wing agenda — while pretending it’s pragmatic — the Democrats have been hollowed out in Congress and in state governments across the country. Obama had hoped to restore confidence in the competence of government. Instead, government’s reputation is in tatters.

“By ignoring the electorate and steering the country in an unmistakably progressive direction his final two years in office,” National Journal’s Josh Krauhaar wrote in February, “he’s ensuring that his presidency will be more of an eight-year mirage for liberals, rather than one known for winning lasting support for policies that would move the country in a leftward direction.”

Poor Hillary Clinton. She spent the last 20-plus years trying to convince the country she wasn’t as left-wing as people justifiably believed she was, and now she must risk whiplash as she veers to the left to reassure the base — and to block a potential Elizabeth Warren run and a real presidential bid by avowed socialist Bernie Sanders. “She seems always to be zigging when history zags,” writes the Washington Post’s Chuck Lane.

Watching her pretend to be a populist is painful, like watching some of the joke contestants on American Idol tonelessly warble to a panel of snickering judges.

Now, it is certainly true that Republicans are not without their problems. They desperately need coaching on how to talk about issues in a way that doesn’t alienate voters. But one of the reasons they need tutoring in this regard is that the press which reports on their campaigns is even more out of touch with reality than the allegedly out-of-touch Republicans they opine on.

If someone nods along when Obama ludicrously claims to have no ideological agenda, it’s no surprise he’ll shake his head when a conservative admits to having one. But at least the conservatives aren’t lying.

Michael Barone laughs at the defense that Hillary's supporters are putting forward.
Some of Hillary Clinton's defenders have taken to saying that voters shouldn't pay attention to the latest Clinton scandals — the gushing of often undisclosed millions to the Clintons and their organizations by characters seeking official favors — because the charges are just one more in a long series: Whitewater, the Rose law firm billing records, the Buddhist temple fundraising, the Lippo Group.

So, the theory goes, because the Clintons have been accused of so many scandalous doings before, people shouldn't be concerned now about Secretary Clinton's actions that helped certain donors turn over 20 percent of U.S. uranium reserves to a state-run Russian company.
There's also, as Barone points out, a difference between the public rallying around an incumbent president than voting for a presidential candidate.
Hillary Clinton is in a different position. She is a candidate, not an incumbent. Candidates are easily dispensed with, as former Sen. Gary Hart learned when the photos of him sailing on the "Monkey Business" appeared in May 1987 when he was seeking the Democratic nomination for president. His staffers vowed he would hold onto his support, but it wasn't his to hold on to. He quickly withdrew and faded from view.

Hart's position in 1987 was weaker than Clinton's position today. His lead in Democratic primary polls was not overwhelming, and there were other serious active or potential candidates in the field or just over the horizon. That's because even in Ronald Reagan's 1980s, Democrats of varying ideological stripes were winning major offices around the country. Democrats had reason to think they had a good chance of nominating a strong ticket without Hart.

Today's Democrats fear they are not in this comfortable position. They've been losing most elections lately in constituencies beyond those where their core constituencies — blacks, some Hispanics, gentry liberals — are clustered. They don't have many prominent plausible alternative candidates.

Absent Hillary Clinton, they would be faced with a choice of tax-raiser Martin O'Malley, socialist Bernie Sanders, Reagan appointee Jim Webb, former Republican scion Lincoln Chafee, or the gaffe-prone Joe Biden. None run as well as Clinton in general election polls.

But how strong is Clinton? Her numbers have been declining and she runs under 50 percent against lesser-known Republicans in most national and target-state polls. All voters know her and most don't favor her. She runs stronger in polls of all adults, not just registered voters. That gap suggests she could have a hard time inspiring maximizing turnout.

The argument that the Clintons have always faced scandal charges is intended to shore up her support. But it may have the opposite effect.
That prospect must terrify many Democrats.

And when every day a new story seems to appear about undisclosed foreign money pouring into the Clinton coffers, Democrats are rightly terrified.

Even someone who apparently admires her a great deal as Joe Klein does is dismayed.
In recent days, I’ve spoken with a bunch of Democrats about the Clinton mess. Inevitably, their first reaction is political. The Clintons were “sloppy” but probably didn’t do anything illegal. It’s “good” that this came out early, they argue; it’ll be forgotten by the time the election rolls around. She’s still a lock for the Democratic nomination and probably the presidency, it is said. And how much worse is this than the parade of Republicans crawling to Las Vegas to kiss the ring of the loathsome Sheldon Adelson, in return for $100 million in campaign -contributions—or the Koch brothers’ auditions? Isn’t this what American politics is all about now?

There is a moral distinction, however, between campaign-related moneygrubbing and the appearance of influence peddling. And in practical political terms, while the Clinton Foundation crisis may not prove damaging during the primary campaign, it may come back to haunt Hillary in the general election—just as Bain Capital did Mitt Romney in 2012. True enough, my Democratic interlocutors say, but there’s a lot of real enthusiasm out there for Hillary. She’s historic. She’s smart and moderate and experienced. She’s probably better prepared for the presidency than any of her rivals. Then I ask them: Let’s leave the politics aside; how do you feel about the way the Clintons ran their foundation? “Nauseated,” said one. “Atrocious,” said another. “It’s no surprise,” said a third.

And I suppose that you do have to assume the worst about the Clintons—“to be cynical” about them, as the young reporter told me. How sad. Their behavior nudges up against the precise reason Americans, in both parties, have grown sick of politicians. It’s near impossible for Hillary Clinton to go around saying, with a straight face, much less a sense of outrage, that the “deck is stacked against” everyday Americans when Bill’s partying with the deck stackers. Even if the appearances of impropriety were for good causes, shouldn’t the arrant naiveté of it all disqualify her from the presidency?
Of course, Klein feels that the Republicans would be a worse bet for the presidency. That's why the guy who so brilliantly skewered the Clintons in Primary Colors is so very disappointed now.

So much for President Obama's pretense of wanting to work together with the Republican Congress:
President Obama spent years tarring House Republicans as the cause of a “do-nothing” Congress, but House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) has turned that critique back on him.

Obama welcomed the new Congress by issuing veto threats about once every five days, on average, McCarthy’s team points out.

“In the first 100 days alone, President Obama threatened to veto 22 bills, including 17 House-passed bills with bipartisan support,” according to a new post on the majority leader’s website. “He has now issued nearly 25 veto threats since the beginning of the new year.”

The post notes that two of those “bills were so bipartisan that they passed committee by a voice vote.”

There are quite a few commentators on the protesters and rioters in Baltimore about how what they are trying to communicate about their situation. Ian Tuttle wonders exactly what they're trying to communicate.
I am not insensible to the notion that those things could lead to riots — but drawing attention to structural injustices, to a lack of economic opportunity, or to metal in the water supply is clearly not what these particular “protesters” are trying to communicate.

Consider their targets: not government facilities responsible for the “state-sponsored violence” that the above commentators blamed for the riots, but pharmacies and shoe stores and a check-cashing service. They did not go searching for weapons to defend themselves from, in Dyson’s words, “the forces of oppression,” but for Pringles, Pumas, video games, and condoms. Under the hashtag “#BaltimoreLootCrew,” rioters have been posting photographs of their prizes. At least one user — who yesterday posted a picture of four new iPhone 6’s — has suspended his account.
There is clearly quite a bit of angry frustration, but there is also a lot of joy in destruction random businesses and stealing stuff. A lot of these rioters are trying to communicate that they like taking stuff without paying for them.

One store owner whose family had owned a sports shop for 35 years in the same location spoke up about the real losers.
Levy isn't just a store owner, he's also an employer of people living in the neighborhood who need to provide for their families. A million dollars in product were lost and employees can no longer be paid.

During an interview on The Norris and Davis Show earlier today, Levy talked about the damage to the store and to the people who work for him. The interview starts the three minute mark.

"It's terrible man. It's terrible. A lot of people lost a lot of jobs and they don't know where to go from here." he said. "The owners we’ll be okay, you know it's going to take months and months to get ourselves situated but the poor people who depend on these weekly salaries it’s a terrible thing."

Some of the same people who are in the streets rioting over a supposed lack of opportunity are the same people destroying opportunity for people in their own communities.

Along the same lines, will CVS rebuild its burned-out store that was destroyed in the riots? Eleanor Clift wonders if they'll return.
CVS was heralded for choosing to put a store in a struggling neighborhood. But did riots scare the corporation out of rebuilding?

Its burning store riveted viewers as the cable news networks covered the destruction in Baltimore. But since it’s [sic] new outpost went up in flames, CVS corporate has been very quiet.

Analysts have described how critical the pharmacy was to a poor neighborhood with few services and no supermarket. Not since CVS made the socially-conscious decision to stop selling cigarettes in its stores has its name been invoked so many times on national television.
She can't get an answer from the company as to whether they'll rebuild in the same location. Given how areas of cities burned out in riots during the 1960s have never really recovered, people are right to worry.

ABC's Jonathan Karl has been one of the toughest questioners of White House press spokesmen. He had a good question yesterday.
Thursday at The White House press briefing, ABC News chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl questioned Obama press secretary Josh Earnest over the administration’s refusal to condemn Hillary Clinton over not complying with the disclosure agreement she had with them to report all foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation during her tenure as secretary of state.

When Earnest said no laws had been broken, a frustrated Karl asked if “out and out bribery” was the only thing that would be a problem for the White House?

Earnest would only say the Clinton Foundation is correcting the mistakes.
Offering up the defense that nothing illegal can be proven seems to be a mighty low ethical bar for the administration and Clintons to establish as their ethical guidelines.

A victory for common sense and the rule of law from the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Wednesday that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission must make "good faith" efforts to seek reconciliation before it sues a business for discrimination, under Title 7 of the Civil Rights Act. The decision was a strong rebuke to the commission, which had previously asserted that the courts had no jurisdiction over its reconciliation process.

"Congress imposed a mandatory duty on the EEOC to attempt conciliation and made that duty a precondition to filing a lawsuit. Such compulsory prerequisites are routinely enforced by courts in Title VII litigation. And though Congress gave the EEOC wide latitude to choose which 'informal methods' to use, it did not deprive courts of judicially manageable criteria by which to review the conciliation process," the court ruled in the case EEOC v. Mach Mining.

The opinion was authored by Justice Elena Kagan, an appointee of President Obama.

The case has been closely watched by business groups, since the commission's stance effectively eliminated one of the main defenses used by employers when facing a discrimination complaint. The Chamber of Commerce highlighted the case in a lengthy study published last year that argued the commission under Obama was pursuing a "scorched earth" litigation strategy against employers.
Another unanimous slap at the Obama administration position from this Court. This has become a pattern.
s the world awaits the Supreme Court’s rulings on Obamacare and gay marriage, pundits have engaged in a phony war that misses a larger story: the court’s rejection of the government’s extreme claims of unlimited federal power. Indeed, the Obama administration has already lost unanimously 20 times, having passed in its first five years the Bush DOJ’s number across two full terms (15).

While it’s still too early to make conclusions about the current Supreme Court session, in its previous three terms—effectively in the 30 months from January 2012 to June 2014—the government’s goose-egg rate was three times Bush and double Clinton (23 in eight years).

Again, those are statistics for cases in which President Obama failed to pick up even the votes of his own nominees. The overall rate looks even worse: in the last two terms, the solicitor general’s office won 39 and 55 percent of its cases, against a 50-year average of about 70 percent.

Howard Kurtz wonders when "thug" became a racist term.
The T-word, of course, was used by the first African-American president of the United States. And the White House hasn’t issued any “clarification” about that.

There’s no way that people who merely protest, or everyone in an impoverished neighborhood, should be smeared as thugs. But this whole thing strikes me as a sideshow, empty calories for the media.

What we should be debating is how police deal with urban disturbances, how to address the poverty and dysfunctional families that create fertile conditions for riots—complicated stuff that isn’t going to be neatly resolved in time for the Sunday shows.

But I guess it’s easier to beat up on people who allegedly use the wrong words—or change their minds about what words are acceptable.

Millennials don't seem to trust anyone except the military, small businesses, and the police. And those numbers on the police might not last.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Cruising the Web

Daniel Henninger describes what Al Sharpton's approach to civil unrest has wrought.
‘No justice, no peace.”

In Baltimore now, they’ve got both.

When Al Sharpton popularized the chant, “No justice, no peace,” it was unmistakably clear that “no peace” was an implicit threat of civil unrest.

Not civil disobedience, as practiced by Martin Luther King Jr. Civil unrest.

Civil unrest can come in degrees. It might be a brief fight between protesters and the cops. It might be someone throwing rocks through store windows. Or it might be more than that.

Whenever groups gathered in large numbers to start the “no justice, no peace” demonstrations and listen to incitements against “the police,” we would hear mayors, politicians, college presidents and American presidents say they “understood the anger.” They all assumed that any civil unrest that resulted would be, as they so often say, “containable.” Meaning—acceptable.

Michael Godwin points out that the approach of Baltimore's mayor was the exact opposite of "Broken Windows" policing and the result was the predictable.
Here’s hoping Mayor Bill de Blasio isn’t too busy playing political games and barnstorming the country to absorb the right lessons from the Baltimore riots. If he’s paying attention, he’ll learn a thing or two about policing and that the bloody price of failed leadership is paid by innocent families and businesses.

The disgraceful orders for cops to disappear or stand by and watch as rioters, looters and arsonists had their way should never be repeated anywhere again. Nor should any mayor talk, as Baltimore’s foolishly did, about giving “those who wished to destroy space to do that.”

Those painful lessons are especially relevant to New York now because de Blasio pal Al Sharpton and wackos on the City Council are pushing the mayor to roll back “Broken Windows” policing. Apart from a welcome but incomplete statement of support for Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, de Blasio is asleep on the job.

Baltimore should be his wake-up call. It shows that handcuffing the cops ultimately leads to more violence and crime, not less, and ends up with the National Guard patrolling the streets like a war zone.

Yes, that could happen here, too.

Indeed, the anti-police agenda — the same agenda that carried de Blasio into City Hall — helped to create the atmosphere where criminals were free to roam across much of Baltimore for days. The rioters’ excuse, that they were protesting after a young black man died under unexplained circumstances in police custody, was just that — an excuse. Almost as infuriating was that officials let them get away with it.

The answer in Baltimore, and in all cities plagued by high crime, is not to retreat, even after a provocative incident. It is more and better policing.

That’s what New York taught America over two decades, and it’s now what New York’s mayor must relearn, lest Gotham be the next city to go up in flames.

Consider Baltimore’s longstanding crime problem. It is one of the most violent cities in the country and has the fifth-highest murder rate, according to the FBI.

With a population of about 622,000, Maryland’s largest city had 235 murders in 2013. New York, with 8.4 million people, had 333 murders.

If New York had Baltimore’s per-capita rate, it would have had 3,173 murders. That gives you a sense of how dangerous Baltimore was before the riots, and how little impact police there had on preventing crime. They lost the war long before this week’s mayhem.

Still, it would be foolish to claim that New Yorkers are by nature more peaceful and law-abiding. Smart, aggressive policing tamed New York, and the “peace dividend” that Bratton talks about was earned by the leadership of Mayors Rudy Giuliani and Mike Bloomberg over 20 years and the brave men and women of the NYPD.
Those mayors and cops changed the culture of New York by recognizing that, just as nature abhors a vacuum, criminals and opportunists will take advantage when society drops its guard.

So the NYPD kept up its guard, making Gotham the safest big city in America.

Of course there were mistakes and tragedies that, in a perfect world, could have been avoided. But those are individual cases, and using a relative handful of incidents to smear all police is a dishonesty born of ideological zealotry. Besides, policing will not get better if pols and cops shrink from their duty to keep people safe from predator thugs.

David Harsanyi derides the proposal from the Labour Party's Ed Miliband that he would criminalize Islamophobia.
A reader might have wondered whether prosecuting thought crimes and putting them on a person’s permanent record was antithetical to liberalism. In response, for example, Richard Dawkins —now on the outs with many on the Left for holding consistently critical views of religion—asked why a person in Britain should be able criticize music, art, a book, but not religion? Well, in a few years the answer might be: you’re right, there are certain books you shouldn’t be criticizing, either.

Right now the problem is more specific. A Miliband type law would mean that a person would be able to disparage any ideological, theological, philosophical, or political position they wanted, in the most ferocious terms they wanted, whenever they liked, without ever having to worry about violent retribution from individuals or legal retribution from the state. But there would be a special dispensation for a single viewpoint that happens to chafe against the fading liberal values of a Western world.
He points out that we're seeing a similar approach to non-approved speech here in the U.S.
Increasingly, we see people demanding speech live up to their standards of virtuousness before being deserving of any protection. In the United States, a woman who offers the wrong answer to a theoretical question about gay marriage can be drummed out of business for her crimethink. A gay American who dares to meet with a candidate who opposes same-sex marriage can be bullied into groveling to save his business. One false thought and people can be destroyed. It happens all the time. ...

This week, two House Democrats urged the Obama administration to ban firebrand Geert Wilders from entering the country. “Mr. Wilders’s policy agenda is centered on the principle that Christian culture is superior to other cultures,” they argued. This seems to me this is a position well within the bounds of genuine debate. Ironically, the lawmakers want to use the International Religious Freedom Act, a law that empowers the State Department to ban the entry of a foreign leader responsible for severe violations of religious freedom, to deny him entry.

We see it in the moral confusion of Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau, who suggesting that it was “hate speech” for the satirists at Charlie Hebdo to mock those who threatened to kill them. “Not only was one cartoonist gunned down,” he explained, “but riots erupted around the world, resulting in the deaths of scores. No one could say toward what positive social end, yet free speech absolutists were unchastened. Using judgment and common sense in expressing oneself were denounced as antithetical to freedom of speech.”

No, having others dictate what our judgement should be is antithetical to free political speech—which deserves special consideration. This is true, whether it is dictated by the majority or by one self-proclaimed arbiter of common sense. I mean, what sort of positive social good does a Doonesbury strip offer? Newspapers buy it. People read it. But if Doonesbury triggered threats of violence from around the world, the social worth of it changes, because even a preachy comic strip is worth defending for the larger idea of free expression.

And when people are gunned down for satire, they may not have used the best judgment or their common sense. They may not be the Dixie Chicks or Robert Mapplethorpe or W.A.S.P., or any of the other false martyrs of free expression we’ve had over the decades. They risked something real.
But now, the threat of violence is leading cartoonists to say that they will no longer draw or print Mohammed cartoons. The heckler's veto has become the veto of violence and achieving results.
And both approaches are preferable to the widest and most insidious forms or censorship of all, the quiet word in the ear from a nervous editor, or the discreet self-censorship known only to the writer who has decided not to write this, or to the cartoonist who will no longer draw that.
We'll never know what speech went unsaid because of these sorts of threats and the subsequent illiberal policing of uncomfortable speech.

Robert Tracinski writes on the same theme.
If you try to shut down public debate, is this a way of ensuring that you win—or an admission that you have already lost?

The question seems relevant today, because the most remarkable characteristic of our current national debate is that one side wants desperately to stamp it out whenever it occurs.

Recently, for example, a gay New York businessman had the temerity to sponsor a “fireside chat” with Republican presidential candidate and arch-conservative Ted Cruz. He was, of course, required to repent the error, calling it “a terrible mistake” to actually talk to a politician who disagrees with him about gay marriage. We can assume that no gay businessman or activist will repeat that error any time soon, which is the whole point.

More recently, the actress Alice Eve got into trouble for stating the obvious fact that Bruce Jenner is not a woman. She, too, was forced to recant, concluding: “I felt confused and now I feel enlightened and like I know what education I need to move forward.”

What gives this a creepy totalitarian feel is the way she found it necessary, not only to change her views, but to express gratitude for her re-education.
The result of such ideological straitjackets for unapproved speech is a generation of flabby thinkers. Tracinski points to this Onion story that captures how ridiculous things have gotten.
College Encourages Lively Exchange Of Idea

Students, Faculty Invited To Freely Express Single Viewpoint

Saying that such a dialogue was essential to the college’s academic mission, Trescott University president Kevin Abrams confirmed Monday that the school encourages a lively exchange of one idea. “As an institution of higher learning, we recognize that it’s inevitable that certain contentious topics will come up from time to time, and when they do, we want to create an atmosphere where both students and faculty feel comfortable voicing a single homogeneous opinion,” said Abrams, adding that no matter the subject, anyone on campus is always welcome to add their support to the accepted consensus. “Whether it’s a discussion of a national political issue or a concern here on campus, an open forum in which one argument is uniformly reinforced is crucial for maintaining the exceptional learning environment we have cultivated here.” Abrams told reporters that counseling resources were available for any student made uncomfortable by the viewpoint.

Reihan Salam has some thoughts about Obama's remarks the other day about how we need to address the problems of poor black communities so that situations like the riots in Baltimore won't occur.
Essentially, Obama is saying that the solutions to society’s problems are not only knowable but known, and that all we need is political mobilization to put these solutions in place. Conservatives tend to be skeptical of one-size-fits-all solutions, as policy measures that might benefit some communities, families, or individuals might prove ill-suited to others. This is part of why conservatives are so drawn to markets, and to decentralized problem-solving more generally. If you believe that we already know the answers to society’s problems, well, we’re in excellent shape. All we need is political will, as Obama seems to believe. But if we don’t know the answers to society’s problems, and if we can’t know them, as society’s problems are an aggregation of the particular problems facing particular people in particular circumstances, we need a trial-and-error process that allows us to identify problems as they emerge, gives rise to new institutions that can address these problems, and then allows these institutions to adapt, change, or go out of business as the underlying problems take new forms.
It's an interesting ideological difference. Ramesh Ponnuru has a similar reaction to Obama's assertion that we know how to solve the problems of Baltimore if we just had the political will. Obama told us that he feels "pretty strongly about" such problems that lead to poverty and violence.
So we know how to solve the problems of urban America, but we -- "we," that is, in the sense of "you people who don't agree with my agenda" -- just don't care enough about children in need to do so.

The problem with these remarks isn't that they're partisan. It's that they're absurd.

-- Related: What Not to Do After Baltimore

They don't even fit with Obama's diagnosis of the problems at hand. Do we know how to make fathers present in their kids' lives, or how to make up for their absence? No. Are we sure how we should respond to the decline in manufacturing employment? Or how to stop people from getting involved in drugs? No and no.

Some people are confident that more funding for early education will yield benefits for poor kids. Others look at the same evidence and think that the few examples of success can't easily be replicated. Even if the first group is correct, there's no reason to think that early education will, even in tandem with other reforms, "solve" the problems of Baltimore. And federal efforts at job training don't have a sterling track record.

If I were president and thought I knew an obvious way to bring peace and prosperity to troubled cities -- and felt pretty strongly about it -- I'd maybe mention it before my seventh year in office. Drop it into a State of the Union address, for example. But it just isn't the case that we're a new federal program away from fixing the problems Obama identified. It isn't the case that conservatives are standing in the way of what everyone knows would work because we just don't share Obama's compassion.

To the extent Obama truly believes these premises, though, it surely goes a long way toward explaining why he has so often seemed frustrated during the course of his presidency.

Without Obama on the ticket, the Democratic generic ballot advantage among young people may be shrinking. They still prefer a Democratic candidate, but not by the overwhelming majorities that they voted for Obama. We'll see if Hillary will be able to win them over by playing the woman card or if she'll just seem too old to them.

Evidence now shows that closing bad schools, while very painful for the families and teachers involved, ends up improving the students' education.
The research reveals that displaced students typically receive a better education in their new school, relative to what they would have received in their closed school. Three years after closures, the public-school students had gained, on average, what equates to 49 extra days of learning in reading—gaining more than a year of achievement growth, as measured by state reading exams. In math, they gained an extra 34 days of learning, as measured by state math exams. In the charter sector, displaced students also made gains in math—46 additional days. These learning gains correspond to an improvement that moves students from the 20th to 22nd percentile in the achievement distribution.

Across both sectors, when students landed in higher-quality schools than the ones they left behind, the gains were even larger—60 days in both math and reading for public-school students, and 58 and 88 days, respectively, for charter students. In other words, students displaced into a higher-quality school make gains that boost their achievement from the 20th to 23rd percentile.

These results suggest that charter and district authorities should welcome school closures as a way to improve the education outcomes of needy children. Of course they must also be judicious, take into account the supply of higher-quality schools, and work with parents and community members to ease the transition. But done properly, shuttering bad schools might just be a saving grace for kids who only get one shot at a good education.
For those looking for solutions for urban unrest, perhaps we might start with the education system.

And throw in some more parental discipline like Toya Graham the woman seen on video pulling her 16-year old son away from the rioting and pulling his hoodie off his face.
According to news reports, Graham was home watching television coverage of the riot Monday night when she saw a young man in a black hoodie, throwing rocks at police officers. And although his face was covered, she recognized him. It was her 16 year-old son. She ran out the door and into the street, and she found the young man. And that’s where his troubles began.

The video shows Graham furiously grabbing her son’s sweater, yelling at him, and shoving him away from the crowd. It also shows her slapping him in the head and ripping off his hoodie and mask, as if to say: “I’m your mother! You’re not going to hide from me!” The same young man who — just a few minutes earlier — hadn’t been afraid to hurl rocks at police was frantically trying to get away from his mother.
She has become an instant celebrity as those who saw the video are applauding her efforts to keep her son from engaging in behavior that could get him hurt or in trouble.
She has even been held up as a model by Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Watts, who said he wished more of the city’s residents took their responsibility to control their children as seriously as this woman does.

Meanwhile, it is time to ask why Baltimore is such a mess. S. E. Cupp notes which party has been in control of the city for a half-century. We've had a long time to see whether their approach to urban woes would bear fruit.
For decades, the city’s political elite has thrown billions at development projects that were somehow meant to trickle out toward Baltimore’s impoverished areas, but that hasn’t happened. The once-acclaimed Inner Harbor project hasn’t had the impact it promised. “Instead of revitalizing the city’s fortunes,” Todd Krainin writes in Reason, “the rise of the waterfront has paralleled the decline of basic city functions.Violent crime remains high, public schools underperform, and the cityscape is blighted by the presence of tens of thousands of vacant buildings.”

Despite this failure and that of similar big-ticket projects in cities like Detroit, Baltimore is now pinning hopes on another billion-dollar development program, Harbor Point, committing $400 million in public subsidies to it.

Meantime, the mostly-black, mostly low-wage earning residents of Baltimore are still wondering when all this public money will magically lift them up. The city’s unemployment rate is 8.2%, versus the state and the nation’s 5.5%. The homeless population has grown substantially in recent years, and in particular among young people, the very group that seems to have instigated the looting and rioting on Monday. According to Baltimore County Public Schools data, the school system saw a 28% increase between 2012 and 2014 in homeless enrollment.

MSNBC’s Chris Matthews identified another major contributing factor in Baltimore’s downfall and Monday’s violence: joblessness. And why have the jobs left Baltimore? In Matthews’ words:

“I wish the jobs hadn’t first gone south…because that’s where they went first. And they went to right-to-work states, you know where they went, where the unions didn’t have any power.”

That’s quite an indictment against Maryland big labor from the liberal host.

In addition, Maryland taxes are the 10th highest in the country, which might explain why it lost 40,000 residents to Virginia between 2007 and 2010, taking $2.17 billion with them, according to the Washington Times. A 2014 Gallup poll find that 47% of Maryland residents said they would move if they could, the third highest percentage in the country.
And this is the record that has led former governor and Baltimore mayor Martin O'Malley to the delusional conclusion that the country needs him to be its president.

Yes, indeed. We're even PC'ing basketball trash talk.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Cruising the Web

Bret Stephens knows that the Clintons are just assuming that the American people will no more care about how they sold themselves to any business or foreign entity that wanted to purchase access. He writes, that "the Clintons are counting on America to digest their ethical lapses the way a python swallows a goat." Perhaps swallowing is not a fortuitous word to be using when talking about Bill Clinton's behavior, but Stephens is exactly right.
All of which means that Mrs. Clinton’s presidential bid is an exercise in—and a referendum on—cynicism, partly hers but mainly ours. Democrats who nominate Mrs. Clinton will transform their party into the party of cynics; an America that elects Mrs. Clinton as its president will do so as a nation of cynics. Is that how we see, or what we want for, ourselves?

This is what the 2016 election is about. You know already that if Mrs. Clinton runs for president as an Elizabeth Warren-style populist she won’t mean a word of it, any more than she would mean it if she ran as a ’90s-style New Democrat or a ’70s-style social reformer. The real Hillary, we are asked to believe, is large and contains multitudes.

In other words, she’s singing a Song of Herself. She will say, do, and be pretty much anything to get elected. And the rest of us are supposed to fall in line because we prefer our politics to be transactional not principled, our politicians to be opportunists not idealists, and our national creed to be “do what you gotta do” not “upon this rock.” This is what might be called the Clinton Bargain: You can always count on their self-interest trumping other considerations, so you never have to fear that they can’t be bought.
What just astounds me is that, knowing her political ambitions, they still couldn't stop themselves from finding ways to enrich themselves regardless of the picture of their own corruption they were painting.

And the culture of corruption continues.
On their nine-day trip to Africa, Bill and Chelsea Clinton are traveling with 20 wealthy donors and foundation supporters, a group that includes fundraisers for Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid and others who are expected to give generously to her campaign.

The opportunity to accompany Bill Clinton on trips across the globe on behalf of his philanthropic foundation has for years been considered both a reward for past donations and an inducement for future giving, say sources familiar with the foundation’s finance operation. This trip, they say, was an especially coveted invite — one that was extended to wealthy Clinton supporters.

We may not have documentary evidence that Bill Clinton took advantage of his wife's position at the Department of State to enrich himself, but we don't need to have him on tape discussing his plans. The evidence is quite clear.
Former President Bill Clinton accepted more than $2.5 million in speaking fees from 13 major corporations and trade associations that lobbied the U.S. State Department while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, an International Business Times investigation has found. The fees were paid directly to the former president, and not directed to his philanthropic foundation.

Many of the companies that paid Bill Clinton for these speeches -- a roster of global giants that includes Microsoft, Oracle and Dell -- engaged him within the same three-month period in which they were also lobbying the State Department in pursuit of their policy aims, federal disclosure documents show. Several companies received millions of dollars in State Department contracts while Hillary Clinton led the institution.

The disclosure that President Clinton received personal payments for speeches from the same corporate interests that were actively seeking to secure favorable policies from a federal department overseen by his wife underscores the vexing issue now confronting her presidential aspirations: The Clinton family is at the center of public suspicions over the extent of insider dealing in Washington, emblematic of concerns that corporate interests are able to influence government action by creatively funneling money to people in power.

“The dynamic is insidious and endemic to this system,” said Meredith McGhee, policy director of the Campaign Legal Center, a campaign finance watchdog group in Washington. "The fact is that the wealthiest .01 percent on the outside of government believes -- fervently -- that by paying speaking fees, or making campaign contributions, that it can gain access and influence."

Federal ethics rules aim to discourage officials and their spouses from accepting gifts from interests “seeking official action” from a government agency. But the rules do not apply to speaking fees, said Craig Holman an advocate for tightened ethics structures at Public Citizen, a watchdog group in Washington.
Well, of course there is a loophole through which the Clintons skated. That is their modus operandi.

Jonathan H. Adler has a question for George Stephanopoulos. This past weekend Stephanopoulos was questioning Peter Schweizer, author of Clinton Cash, about his former employment for Republicans and the funding he used to receive from the Koch brothers. Adler writes,
Stephanopoulos’s question was standard media fare. Journalists often focus on the potential bias of the messenger instead of the content of the message. Ideally, Schweizer’s claims would stand (or fall) on the strength (or weakness) of his reporting. He has either found evidence of problematic conduct by the Clintons and the Clinton Foundation, or he hasn’t. And insofar as he makes strong claims, it’s entirely reasonable for reporters to push back with tough questions about the substance of his allegations. As Schweizer suggested, those interested in this issue should “look at the facts.”

If we are going to consider the potential conflict-of-interest or ideological motivation of a reporter, should not this apply just as much to Stephanopoulos as it does to Schweizer? If the political affiliation or alignment of Schweizer’s former employers or funders is relevant, cannot the same be said of Stephanopoulos? Should not viewers of ABC News’s “This Week” have been reminded that Stephanopoulos spent years working for the Clintons and helping to manage various scandals that arose during Bill Clinton’s campaign and first term in office? (Indeed, at one point, there were allegations Stephanopoulos personally benefited from Clinton-influenced cronyism.)

I don’t object to the content of the interview, but I find it problematic that Stephanopoulos thought it relevant to challenge Schweizer based on the identity of his former employers or funders, but did not disclose his own equal (if not greater) conflict.

I don’t object to the content of the interview, but I find it problematic that Stephanopoulos thought it relevant to challenge Schweizer based on the identity of his former employers or funders, but did not disclose his own equal (if not greater) conflict. Older viewers may have recalled this Time magazine cover, but that was over 20 years ago. Many viewers — and voters — have no recollection of Stephanopoulos’s role as Clinton de facto spokesman. Insofar as Schweizer’s book suggests improper behavior by the Clintons, it is pointing a finger at those Stephanopoulos spent several years of his life defending.
But, but, he's George freaking Stephanopoulos. Of course, the rules of journalism don't apply to him.

Jack Dunphy explains the lesson that the Baltimore police and mayor didn't learn from the Rodney King riots.
I was reminded of this as I watched the chaos unfolding in Baltimore on Monday. It was clear from the television coverage that “restraint” was the order of the day for the police officers forced to stand idly by as stores were looted and burned. Even worse, cops stood like so many cigar store Indians as thugs showered them with rocks, bottles, and bricks from as little as 20 feet away. None of their commanders, it seemed, wanted to be the one to give the order to take control.

If there was a lesson the LAPD learned in 1992, it is that if you do not respond decisively to lawlessness, you will quickly have much more of it. That lesson was learned the hard way, when timid police supervisors (one of them in particular most egregiously) failed to act when violence first flared near the intersection of Florence and Normandie Avenues. I would argue that had the LAPD responded as it should have in those first hours of the riot, much of the devastation and loss of life that followed could have been averted. Proof of this came in the following months when a number of incidents in South Los Angeles threatened to break out into rioting but were quelled with a swift and sure response by police.

It is clear that authorities in Baltimore have not heeded this simple lesson. In showing restraint, in sending the clear message that lawlessness will not be swiftly and harshly met, they have allowed their city to descend into chaos. And in so allowing, they have ensured that a greater level of force will be required to restore order than would have been had they taken action at the first sign of violence. At the time of this writing no one has yet been killed in Baltimore, but that will likely have changed by the time you read this.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake gave instructions to police that protesters be given “space” to exercise their right to free speech. But in doing so, she admitted, “we also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well.”

And who would have dared think that could happen? Only anyone who had studied episodes of urban rioting in America for the last 50 years. Witness the events in Miami in 1989, Crown Heights in 1991, Los Angeles in 1992, Oakland in 2009, and just last year in Ferguson, Mo. In these riots and in too many others to list, we saw political leaders unwilling to take the actions necessary to maintain order in their cities, with the harvest being the destruction of businesses, injuries and deaths, added to which are economic consequences that have endured for years.

Just moments ago I watched on CNN as Mayor Rawlings-Blake lamely defended her decision to show restraint in dealing with the rioters. Surely she knows that in the parts of Baltimore where the rioting is ongoing there are vacant lots where stood buildings that burned in the city’s riot of 1968. Earlier today I watched a CVS pharmacy being looted and burned in West Baltimore. Does the mayor expect CVS to rebuild in that spot or anywhere near it when she has publicly announced she will do nothing to prevent the same thing from happening the next time the “community” vents its anger?
I was just covering the 1990s with my U.S. history class and they were certainly struck at the similarities in the stories from 1992 situation and events today.

And yet again we have a leader delaying the request for the National Guard, just like the governor of Louisiana delayed asking President Bush to send in military help to help after Katrina, the mayor delayed asking for help from the governor of Maryland.

Jason Riley notes that racial diversity in a city's political leaders doesn't seem to matter to rioters.
The racial makeup of city leaders, the police department and other municipal workers in Ferguson, Mo., played a central role in the media coverage and analysis of Michael Brown’s death, which is worth remembering as history repeats itself in Baltimore.

The Justice Department’s Ferguson report noted that although the city’s population was 67% black, just four of its 54 police officers fit that description. Moreover, “the Municipal Judge, Court Clerk, Prosecuting Attorney, and all assistant court clerks are white,” said the report. “While a diverse police department does not guarantee a constitutional one, it is nonetheless critically important for law enforcement agencies, and the Ferguson Police Department in particular, to strive for broad diversity among officers and civilian staff.”

Broad diversity is not a problem in Baltimore, where 63% of residents and 40% of police officers are black. The current police commissioner is also black, and he isn’t the first one. The mayor is black, as was her predecessor and as is a majority of the city council. Yet none of this “critically important” diversity seems to have mattered after 25-year-old Freddie Gray died earlier this month in police custody under circumstances that are still being investigated.

Some black Baltimoreans have responded by hitting the streets, robbing drugstores, minimarts and check-cashing establishments and setting fires. If you don’t see the connection, it’s because there isn’t one. Like Brown’s death, Gray’s is being used as a convenient excuse for lawbreaking. If the Ferguson protesters were responding to a majority-black town being oppressively run by a white minority—which is the implicit argument of the Justice Department and the explicit argument of the liberal commentariat—what explains Baltimore?

Tensions between the police and low-income black communities stem from high crime rates in those areas. The sharp rise in violent crime in our inner cities, which dates to the 1970s and 1980s, happened to coincide with an increase in the number of black leaders in many of those very same cities. What can be said of Baltimore is also true of Cleveland, Detroit, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., where black mayors and police chiefs and aldermen and school superintendents have held sway for decades.

Chicago’s population is 32% black, along with 26% of its police force, but it remains one of the most violent big cities in the country. There were more than 400 homicides in the Second City last year and some 300 of the victims were black, the Chicago Tribune reports. That’s more than double the number of black deaths at the hands of police in the entire country in a given year, according to FBI data.

Might the bigger problem be racial disparities in antisocial behavior, not the composition of law-enforcement agencies?
Jay Cost takes to American history to refute the idea that Barack Obama has been treated worse by his political foes than other politicians have, presumably due to his race.
-The Election of 1800. Representatives of Thomas Jefferson accused John Adams of being a crypto-monarchist. And Adams’s associates accused Jefferson of being a radical atheist. And these two men had worked together to write the Declaration of Independence!

-Opposition to Andrew Jackson. The Whig party eventually took to comparing Jackson to a monarch. The Whig-controlled Senate actually censured him for removing bank deposits from the Second Bank of the United States.

-Abraham Lincoln. He was roundly and viciously criticized during his tenure, including by his own allies.

-The Bloody Shirt. The Republican party of the Gilded Age retained power in part by “waving the bloody shirt” -- tagging any and all Democrats as being a party to secession.

-“Frying the fat.” This was the infamous strategy of the GOP in the 1888 presidential election, after incumbent Grover Cleveland dared to suggest tariff reductions. The strategy was basically to scare the country into thinking that rationalizing the tax code would bring about economic doom.

-“Spasmodic, erratic, sensational, spectacular and arbitrary.” That’s what the Democratic platform of 1904 said about Theodore Roosevelt.

-Warren G. Harding … Half Black? This accusation was an explosive one made at the end of the 1920 campaign.

-Grace Coolidge having an affair? The press suggested as such in 1927.

-“President Likens Dewey to Hitler as Facists' Tool.” Stay classy, Harry S. Truman.

-“A stooge for Wall Street.” That’s what Harry Truman said about Dwight Eisenhower in 1952. (Any history of rough political elbows is bound to feature Truman prominently.)

One could go on, but these are some of the most prominent historical examples -- i.e. instances before our collective memory of politics begins. In our lifetimes, we’re bound to come up with countless other examples of politicians being nasty to one another.

The point is that politics ain’t beanbag -- and it never has been. That is because our political divide is rooted in enduring class, social, and religious cleavages, as well as profoundly different views of the good life. A lot is at stake in our politics, and the First Amendment offers a wide latitude for political speech. Unsurprisingly, the two parties hit each other quite hard.

For President Obama to imply that criticisms of his presidency are worse than usual, or not reducible to fundamental ideological and cultural differences, betrays a stunning, self-serving ignorance of American history. But then, what else could we expect from this president?(links in the original)

Of course, Democrats are quick to blame Republicans for not passing bills that would presumably done something to alleviate inter-city tensions.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., in a sternly-worded speech on the Senate floor Tuesday, echoed the president's call for criminal justice reform and more education and job training investments in impoverished communities.

But he too has done very little to back up his rhetoric with action.

"No American should ever feel that their life is not valued," Reid said Tuesday on the Senate floor.

He also highlighted several bills that would reform the nations sentencing laws. Congress enacted the laws after a national crime wave in the 1980s that both liberals and libertarians now decry as flooding the nation's prison population.

"It's easy to believe the system is rigged against you," he said.

Reid did not mention, however, that while serving as majority leader from 2007 to 2014, he did not bring any sentencing reform measures to the floor, including a bipartisan bill sponsored by Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Cory Booker, D-N.J., for debate and a possible vote.

Jonah Goldberg establishes a good rule for judging politicians.
I once had a boss who gave me some great advice, not just for managing people but for judging politicians: You forgive mistakes; you punish patterns. Everybody screws up. But if someone won’t learn from his mistakes and try to correct his behavior, then he either doesn’t think it was a mistake, he just doesn’t care, or he thinks you’re a fool. The one indisputable takeaway from Peter Schweizer’s new book, Clinton Cash, is that Bill and Hillary Clinton fit one or all of those descriptions.

Let us recall Marc Rich, a shady billionaire indicted for tax evasion and defying trade sanctions with Iran during the U.S. hostage crisis. Rich fled to Switzerland to escape prosecution.

He hired Jack Quinn, a former Clinton White House counsel, to lobby the administration for a pardon. Quinn sought help from then–deputy attorney general Eric Holder, who advised Quinn to petition the White House directly — advice Holder later regretted. On the last day of his presidency, Bill Clinton pardoned Rich.

The ensuing scandal was enormous — and bipartisan. It was widely believed that Rich had bought his pardon. Denise Rich, his ex-wife, had made huge donations to the Democratic party, including $100,000 to Hillary Clinton’s Senate campaign and $450,000 to the foundation building Bill Clinton’s presidential library.

Liberals were infuriated. “You let me down,” wrote the Washington Post’s Richard Cohen. “It’s a pie in the face of anyone who ever defended you. You may look bad, Bill, but we look just plain stupid.”

“It was a real betrayal by Bill Clinton of all who had been strongly supportive of him to do something this unjustified,” exclaimed then-Rep. Barney Frank (D., Mass.). “It was contemptuous.” Senator Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.) chastised, “It was inexcusable.” New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd suggested Clinton had “traded a constitutional power for personal benefit.” Jimmy Carter all but called it bribery and said it was “disgraceful.”

You can understand the bitterness. Democrats had defended the Clintons through Whitewater, Travel-gate, and Hillary Clinton’s billing-records shenanigans. They even defended Bill Clinton when he raised millions in re-election donations from Chinese donors and rented out the Lincoln bedroom. But this was just too much. Fool us once, shame on you. Fool us half a dozen times . . .
And the pattern continues....

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Cruising the Web

The death of Freddie Gray in police custody is tragic and there definitely seems to have been police culpability. It should be investigated and those responsible punished. but the rioting that is going on now has nothing to do with his death. It is wanton destruction that is destroying whatever hope this community had for a viable economy. Burning down a CVS and trashing cars while cutting off a fire hose is all about destruction, not addressing the problems the community faces or the unfortunate and untimely death of Freddie Gray. As Paul Mirengoff notes, this isn't about protesting a white mayor and white-majority police department as in Ferguson. Baltimore's mayor bears some blame for the seeming lack of readiness by the police to face the rioting. What sort of idiot mayor advises the police to give "those who wished to destroy space to do that as well"? Doesn't she understand the difference between rioting and protesting? It's as if she gave the rioters permission to destroy private property.

Heather MacDonald writes in City Journal that it is so hard for liberal elites to recognize how the inner-city poor contribute to their own situations as she reviews the book, On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City, by Alice Goffman.
Goffman’s own material demolishes this thesis. On the Run documents a world of predation and law-of-the-jungle mores, riven with violence and betrayal. Far from being the hapless victims of random “legal entanglements”—Goffman’s euphemism for the foreseeable consequences of lawless behavior—her subjects create their own predicaments through deliberate involvement in crime....

On the Run unwittingly demonstrates why police presence is heavy in black inner-city neighborhoods. Goffman mentions just one fatal police shooting: Anthony had shot at undercover officers in an alley, thinking that they were gang rivals; they returned fire and killed him. Otherwise, and contrary to the claims of the Black Lives Matter movement, her young black men overwhelmingly die at one another’s hands, such as a friend of Chuck’s, shot while exiting Goffman’s car outside a bar. The clean people of Sixth Street do not complain about the police; indeed, Miss Linda’s father, a retired postal clerk, regularly calls the cops on his grandsons and welcomes the heavy police activity in the neighborhood. Even the Sixth Street criminals try to get themselves arrested when the local gang violence becomes too hot; prisons and jails are the only place they feel safe.

Goffman claims to have witnessed officers beating up suspects 14 times in 18 months of daily observation and asserts that the Philadelphia Police Department has an official, if sub rosa, policy of pummeling suspects who so much as put a finger on an officer. She also claims, without a source, that the cops routinely steal cash during drug raids. (She doesn’t mention the alleged deficiencies in the department’s deadly force training, for which it is criticized in another recent Justice Department report, which also noted that black and Hispanic officers were far more likely than white officers to shoot black civilians based on a mistaken perception of threat.) Such brutality and corruption, if true, must be punished and eradicated. (One should note, though, in assessing Goffman’s credibility in such matters, that her loathing of the police is such that she develops a fear of white men in particular, and white people more generally.) But such police misconduct, if it exists—as it did in North Charleston, South Carolina, where Walter Scott was shot to death in wholly unjustified circumstances—does not mean that lawful police activity is any less needed in neighborhoods still plagued by violence and other forms of disorder. Philadelphia’s high crime rate has been a perennial drag on its economy. Data-driven policing and the incarceration buildup that Goffman and her mentors so decry resulted nationally in the steepest crime drop in modern history (especially in New York), saving countless inner-city lives, both clean and dirty. At the end of the book, Reggie and Tim are serving long prison sentences. We have no reason to believe that those punishments were not deserved.

It's pretty bad for the Clinton camp when they've lost Eleanor Clift who came out defending Peter Schweizer against their attacks.
Author Peter Schweizer may be a conservative, but that doesn’t mean his investigations don’t have merit, and his allegations won’t stick.
It’s a mistake for the Clinton campaign to write off conservative author Peter Schweizer as a right-wing hack. It won’t work, and it’s not true. If he were as off-base as the campaign and its allies portray him, would a high-quality publication like The New York Times risk its reputation by partnering with him? And would Common Cause, the gold standard for good-government groups, which is currently chaired by former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich, be calling for an independent review that would be made public of all large donations to the Clinton Foundation?

The Clintons have a standard template for pushing back, and they’re going to use it to make questions about their finances seem part of the vast right-wing conspiracy, but character assassination only goes so far. It may work for a while, but if the data in Schweizer’s upcoming book, Clinton Cash, survives the vetting it will get from the mainstream media, Clinton will have to clean up her act. Aside from actual wrongdoing, and there’s no evidence of that, this is about the appearance of conflicts of interest, and in politics, appearances are everything.

And Ron Fournier isn't any happier.
Which reminds me of a nagging question: If, as the White House wants us to believe, President Obama is upset at Clinton for violating his ethics rules, why hasn't he publicly rebuked her? Perhaps he's more concerned about the 2016 elections than good government.

You don't have to be a conspiracy theorist to know that foreign companies and countries expected something in return for donating to the Clinton foundation rather than the countless other charities not connected to the U.S. presidency.

You don't have to be a lawyer to know the Clintons violated ethics rules.

You don't have to be a historian to know their ethical blind spot has decades-old roots.

You don't have to be a political scientist to know this behavior contributes to the public's declining trust in its leaders.

But to believe this is just about the actions of a book author, the mainstream media, and the Republicans, it helps to be a Clinton.
She's not just arousing the ire of the right, but the disgust of many in the MSM. That doesn't mean that they won't rally around when it becomes a two-person race, but they'll be holding their noses as they do it.

As Andrew McCarthy writes, is there any real desire to go through all this Clinton mess again?
Plus, it is important to bear in mind that, at the moment, the political dimension of the Clinton Foundation scandal transcends the possibility of criminal or civil legal liability. Right now, the Clinton Foundation provides a stark reminder of the last enterprise these characters ran: the Clinton White House. Remember that one? Campaign finance irregularities, selling influence (remember the Lincoln bedroom?), awarding pardons to fraudsters and terrorists for the purpose of rewarding donors and courting political constituencies, blatant obstruction of justice, and perjury.

You see the Hillary! 2016 campaign launch, you consider what we’re learning about the Clinton Foundation, and you naturally ask yourself: Do we really want to go through this again?

You consider the Clinton Foundation, you think about the State Department — Benghazi, the courting of the Muslim Brotherhood, the secret, unlawful email system, the foreign money pouring into Clinton coffers while Mrs. Clinton was making key decisions about American foreign policy — and you naturally ask yourself:

What has Hillary Clinton ever run that did not turn into a debacle?

Finally, we should also consider the Obama administration’s legal standards. As I’ve recently discussed here at Ordered Liberty, the Justice Department has just filed its indictment of Senator Robert Menendez (D – NJ) on various corruption charges. The prosecution’s theory is that Menendez accepted “things of value” in exchange for using his political influence to benefit a big-time donor. Sen. Menendez counters that he did nothing wrong — i.e., that there is no nexus between, on the one hand, the hefty contributions, private jet rides to ritzy resorts, and other posh gifts he received, and, on the other hand, the use of his office in ways that just happened to favor the donor.

We are still at a very early stage of scrutinizing the Clinton Foundation, but we can already say two things with confidence:

(1) The millions upon millions of dollars the Clinton Foundation has collected from foreign donors and others with significant self-interest in U.S. government policy — during a time when Mrs. Clinton had a key role (and the prospect of an even bigger role) in designing U.S. government policy — makes the gifts to Menendez look like chump change.

(2) To the best of our knowledge, Menendez never withheld his emails from the government or wiped his server clean.

AS IBD writes, the fiction that the Clinton Foundation is a charitable endeavor is being exposed for the fiction it has always been.
The foundation's annual report talks about "improving global health, increasing opportunity for women and girls, reducing childhood obesity and preventable disease, creating economic opportunity and growth, and helping communities address the effects of climate change." And its website is full of photos and stories showing how the great work is being done.

Even the spending looks above-board: $68.3 million in 2013 for "program services expenses," equal to 80% of total expenses, according to its Form 990, which non-profits submit each year to the IRS.

But a closer look at the numbers shows a mere 13% of program expenses — and just 10% of total spending — went for grants and aid. And despite its global pretensions, most of the aid stayed in the U.S. The rest went to salaries, conferences, travel and other overhead costs.

In fact, the Clinton Foundation was more generous to conference organizers than the poor. The IRS filing shows it spent $9 million on conferences, conventions and meetings, compared to $8.9 million in aid.

Compare profligate the Clinton Foundation profligacy to spending by other large, globally focused charities. Doctors Without Borders devoted 90% of program expenses to grants and aid in 2013, almost all directed outside the U.S. Ditto World Vision, which while spending $729 million on grants in 2013 somehow managed to get by on $593,000 on conferences and meetings.

Wasteful charities such as the Clinton Foundation normally end up on lots of "do not donate" lists. So what were those foreign donors after, if not a helping hand from the U.S. government?

Here's a fascinating little look at the English Radical Whig, John Wilkes (after whom John Wilkes Booth was named and the Pennsylvania town of Wilkes-Barre is also named BTW) and his stand for rights that eventually led to our Fourth Amendment. It comes from Senator Mike Lee's book, Our Lost Constitution.

Jay Cost explains why the liberal vitriol about Citizens United isn't really about money corrupting politics.
Suppose a billionaire wants a certain policy enacted and hopes to influence a politician. Under Citizens United, while he can spend as much as he likes, he cannot tell the politician directly how much he intends to spend, how he will spend it, or why he is spending it. Moreover, since he wants to use this money to buy influence, he will have to spend an extraordinary sum in order to claim credibly that his effort made the difference between victory and defeat. As multiple groups on both sides join the fray, the cost of the race goes up, so he must spend even more in order to take credit for a win. And, of course, the candidate might lose. Even if the candidate wins, the billionaire still has to hope that, once in office, he will actually aid the cause. The politician could very well “cheat” on the agreement, especially if the constituents back home oppose the policy. And even if the politician does not cheat, there is no guarantee that the policy will ever become law. After all, the whole effort was dedicated to securing a single vote in Congress.

At best, this is a terribly inefficient way to influence public policy. There are much easier ways to buy a piece of the government. Such methods have been fine-tuned over decades—long before unlimited independent expenditures were allowed. In fact, the biggest donors since Citizens United—the Koch Brothers on the right and Tom Steyer on the left—come across more as patricians than influence-peddlers. They are citizens with an ideological and partisan vision of the good life who choose to promote their public-spirited agenda with their
own money.

From this perspective, Democrats’ opposition to Citizens United looks awfully convenient. It is a way to rail against influence-peddling in politics without actually doing anything about it. Democratic politicians can appear to be above the fray when in fact they are knee-deep in the muck.

Yet conservatives should not be content merely to mock Democratic hypocrisy or dispute the left’s claims about Citizens United. They need to do more. Three points are of high salience here. First, money in politics is a problem, insofar as it is often the medium for quid pro quo transactions that are unethical even when legal. All such transactions are implicitly anticonservative, for their result is that the government does something special for someone or some faction. Conservatives want the government to do less and do it fairly and so have an interest in cutting down the incidence of such deals.

Second, Citizens United is court-made law and thus lacks democratic legitimacy. The people’s representatives never debated or endorsed it. This makes it an easy target for Democrats looking to preen about good government while lining their pockets. Under our system, of course, the Supreme Court has the authority to rule on the meaning of the Constitution. But politically speaking, it is problematic. Congress and the courts have been warring over campaign finance for nearly 50 years, and the result is a hodge-podge of regulations that lacks any sense or broad popular support. So Democrats demagogue.

Third, you can’t beat something with nothing. Where is the anti-corruption agenda of the right? Where are the counterparts to the good-government organizations spearheaded by Ralph Nader? Other than the Center for Competitive Politics, helmed by former Federal Election Commission chairman Bradley Smith, and Take Back Our Republic, a new organization founded by those who helped Dave Brat take down Eric Cantor last year, one is hardpressed to think of conservative entities promoting a vision of good government. Conservatives have spent enormous intellectual capital on issues like education, health care, and taxes—but what about corruption? When Democratic pols rail against Citizens United, what reforms can Republicans counter with?

What would Karl von Clausewitz advise about fighting ISIS?

Seth Mandel looks at how the left is turning on those murdered at Charlie Hebdo because they don't approve of their speech. Some are upset that the PEN American Center is giving its annual Freedom of Expression Courage award to Charlie Hebdo.
A couple things jump out. First of all, you knew you were in for trouble when Cole began a sentence with “I’m a free-speech fundamentalist, but… .” Second, does the fact that Charlie Hebdo’s work was of a less elevated literary quality than that of Salman Rushdie mean the former cannot lay claim to the transgression of “blasphemy”? For his part, Rushdie himself correctly points out that Cole et al. have no idea what they’re talking about:
“If PEN as a free speech organization can’t defend and celebrate people who have been murdered for drawing pictures, then frankly the organization is not worth the name,” Mr. Rushdie said. “What I would say to both Peter and Michael and the others is, I hope nobody ever comes after them.”
Indeed. Liberals have apparently graduated from telling Muslims what is and isn’t truly Islamic to telling Muslims (and their victims) what is and isn’t blasphemy. According to the left, blasphemy is not a religious term so much as it just shouldn’t be applied to people who draw yucky pictures. This is, to say the least, a standard that bodes poorly for those who truly do support free speech. Where are their allies going to come from if not from free-speech organizations?

And there’s also something quite hilarious in the don’t-worry-Rushdie-you’re-still-good defensiveness in the anti-Charlie Hebdo group. That may be true today, but for how long will it continue to be true? At what point will the left finally throw Rushdie under that bus? Because that moment is coming, and I suspect everyone knows it.

The other word that jumped out at me from Cole’s statement was “progressive.” He’d rather honor, he said, someone “whose ideals are much more progressive than Charlie’s.” So now to be a martyr for free speech you have to not only be a blasphemer without falling into the ever-changing and elastic category of racism, but you also must be “much more progressive” than a lowbrow satirical French publication.

Salman Rushdie is on the right side of the line–for now. But that line is moving, and not in the direction of free speech.
For some on the left, free speech is only granted to that speech of which they approve.

Meanwhile, Shannen W. Coffin and Michael J. Edney discuss the double-standard that helped the Clintons make millions.
Consider these facts: The chairman of a Canadian company named Uranium One reportedly donated $2.35 million to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state. At the same time the company was seeking U.S. government approval to sell a 51% controlling stake to Rosatom, the state-owned Russian nuclear agency. Meanwhile, a Russian investment bank with close ties to the Kremlin paid former President Bill Clinton a half-million dollars to speak in Moscow.

Anything worth investigating here? Not according to the nation’s chief law-enforcement officer, President Barack Obama, whose spokesman announced Friday that the allegations were little more than the discredited musings of “a conservative author,” unaccompanied by “any evidence” and apparently unworthy of further discussion.

But imagine if similar payments, under similar circumstances, were made by a U.S. company to a charity closely associated with, say, the Nigerian foreign minister. The Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission would be banging on that firm’s doors, asserting serious violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

That’s the law prohibiting U.S. companies from providing anything of value to a foreign official for the purpose of obtaining a favorable action. It is invoked frequently to scrutinize the overseas operations of American businesses. When federal law-enforcement agents even suspect that it has been violated, these companies are overrun with lawyers investigating every trace of alleged wrongdoing. The investigations often end the careers of the company officials allegedly responsible and culminate in fines and payments totaling many millions. One recent settlement was for $772 million. To avoid that fate, American companies spend huge sums on compliance reviews to prevent even the appearance of impropriety.
So somehow, what is actionable when American businesses are involved is just fine when the Clinton Foundation is at work.