Thursday, July 14, 2016

Cruising the Web

Walter Williams expresses what I've often thought: we don't need a national conversation on race. Liberals keep calling for such a conversation for years, but they they get angry at anyone who doesn't express the views they have decreed are de rigueur.
esident Barack Obama and his first attorney general, Eric Holder, called for an honest conversation about race. Holder even called us "a nation of cowards" because we were unwilling to have a "national conversation" about race. The truth of the matter is there's been more than a half-century of conversations about race. We do not need more. Instead, black people need to have frank conversations among ourselves, no matter how uncomfortable and embarrassing the topics may be.

Among the nation's most dangerous cities are Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, Baltimore, Memphis, Milwaukee, Birmingham, Newark, Cleveland and Philadelphia. These once-thriving cities are in steep decline. What these cities have in common is that they have large black populations. Also, they have been run by Democrats for nearly a half-century, with blacks having significant political power. Other characteristics these cities share are poorly performing and unsafe schools, poor-quality city services and declining populations.

Each year, more than 7,000 blacks are murdered. That's a number greater than white and Hispanic murder victims combined. Blacks of all ages are killed at six times the rate of whites and Hispanics combined. According to the FBI, the police kill about 400 people a year; blacks are roughly one-third of that number. In Chicago alone, so far this year, over 2,000 people have been shot, leaving over 320 dead. It's a similar tale of mayhem in other predominantly black cities.

Heather Mac Donald's most recent book, "The War on Cops," points out some devastating and sobering statistics: "Blacks were charged with 62% of all robberies, 57% of all murders, and 45% of all assaults in the 75 largest U.S. counties in 2009, while constituting roughly 15% of the population in those counties. From 2005 to 2014, 40% of cop-killers were black. Given the racially lopsided nature of gun violence, a 26% rate of black victimization by the police is not evidence of bias."

The primary victims of lawlessness are black people. To address this problem and most others, black people should ignore the liberal agenda. If civil authorities will not do their job of creating a safe environment, then black people should take the initiative. O

Jonah Goldberg also is skeptical about the usefulness of a national conversation, but he makes a good point to answer the one that Williams made about the rate of blacks being killed by other blacks.
“National conversations” are usually efforts to bully everyone into accepting a single narrative when the reality is that, in this country of more than 300 million, many narratives can be in conflict and still be legitimate.

I don’t doubt that representatives of each tribe will eventually retreat back to their ideological bunkers, but before they do so, let’s explore some blind spots, on both sides.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (who did not lose his lazy certainty) spent the weekend attacking the Black Lives Matter movement as “racist.” He wants people to focus on the fact that most black murder victims die at the hands of other blacks. That’s true, and tragic, and fairly irrelevant.

Conservatives, of all people, should understand that misdeeds committed by agents of the state are categorically different from the same acts committed by normal citizens....

Is it really so unfathomable that African American citizens should be outraged or distrustful of government when they have good reason to believe the state is murdering young black men?

It should be said that the data do not actually corroborate this belief – at least not as clearly as one might think. Harvard economist Roland Fryer found that when black suspects encounter the police, they are slightly less likely to get shot than white suspects. He called it “the most surprising result I have found in my entire career.” Fryer, by the way, is African American.

But Fryer also found that blacks are disproportionately victims of bias when it comes to non-lethal police interactions, such as use of pepper spray, manhandling and the like. Is it so unreasonable to assume that citizens who experience such bias would also believe that it extends into police shootings? Particularly when such cases receive so much attention in social media and the press?
The liberals are also betraying their hypocrisy.
Liberals, for their part, are often rather obtuse in how they discuss policing.

Although they have seemingly boundless faith in the power and nobility of government, many draw a line around cops, creating one of the strangest ironies of modern liberalism: Many of those most eager to support new laws and new regulations suddenly lose faith when it comes to the government employees charged with enforcing them. It’s particularly amazing given that law enforcement personnel typically receive far more training than your typical bureaucrat or legislator.

Just as conservatives need to recognize the ills of police abuse, liberals need to acknowledge that the first obligation of the state is to defend the safety and property of its citizens, and that nothing undermines the legitimacy of the law more than vilifying those sworn to uphold it.
Goldberg is right to distinguish between violence by public servants and others. But there is also a distinction to be made between violence committed with evil intent and that committed by accident.

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Not only did Obama's State Department provide funding to a group opposed to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, they also tried to delete that information so it wouldn't become public. Sound familiar when talking about the State Department, doesn't it?
A State Department official deleted emails that included information about a secret campaign to oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the country’s last election, according to a Senate investigatory committee that determined the Obama administration transferred tax funds to anti-Netanyahu groups.

The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations disclosed in a massive report on Tuesday that the Obama administration provided U.S. taxpayer dollars to the OneVoice Movement, a liberal group that waged a clandestine campaign to smear and oust Netanyahu from office.

OneVoice, which was awarded $465,000 in U.S. grants through 2014, has been under congressional investigation since 2015, when it was first accused of funneling money to partisan political groups looking to unseat Netanyahu. This type of behavior by non-profit groups is prohibited under U.S. tax law.

The investigation determined that OneVoice redirected State Department funds to anti-Netanyahu efforts and that U.S. officials subsequently erased emails containing information about the administration’s relationship with the non-profit group.

Remember when a plane landed on the White House lawn in 1994, the joke was that it was Clinton's first CIA director, James Woolsey, trying to get an appointment? Woolsey said that he had never met with Clinton after he got an appointment. Well, it seems that Obama has had a similar approach to hearing intelligence reports.
President Barack Obama twice appointed former Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn to key national security jobs in his administration, including as deputy director of national intelligence and later as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, yet he never once met with Flynn face to face.

The general, who spent 33 years in the intelligence field, told The Daily Caller News Foundation he was never called in for a face-to-face meeting with Obama to offer his assessment of ISIS as it rampaged through the Middle East, or during the political meltdown of Libya and Egypt, or on Iran’s efforts to build a nuclear bomb, or of the “Russian reset” that ended in shambles.

Hillary Clinton wants maintain limits on the immigration of educated workers because they are taking the jobs of Americans. However, she still supports mass immigration of low-skilled workers and allowing those already here to stay. Noah Smith of Stony Brook University points out her hypocrisy.
The double standard here is remarkable. Clinton explicitly states that she wants to protect software engineers, lawyers and product managers from foreign competition. But she has no such desire to protect low-skilled laborers. If Clinton believes that immigrants reduce native-born wages, why is she OK with reducing the pay of the native-born poor and middle class? Why does she only want to protect workers who already make high salaries?

One possibility is that a large chunk of Clinton’s support comes from highly paid professionals, the upper-middle class knowledge workers of America. Many of these prosperous folks would be happy to pay low prices for landscaping work, roof repair or babysitting services done by unskilled immigrants. But if someone suggests letting in more highly trained immigrants so those landscapers, roofers and babysitters can pay lower prices for iPhones and legal services, the upper-middle classes might begin to balk. By pledging to restrict high-skilled immigration but not its low-skilled counterpart, Clinton seems to be pandering to her privileged support base.

Scott Johnson posts an anonymous note from a federal agent who has been involved with hundreds of criminal investigations and held Top Secret classification. This correspondent marvels at the lack of curiosity the FBI investigators demonstrated in the Hillary Clinton investigation concerning her intentions in setting up her private server.
Among other questions that have not been publicly addressed by Director Comey: what WAS her intent in setting up these computer networks in the first place? It obviously wasn’t “convenience,” as Clinton ludicrously claimed when this issue first arose. If your aim is “convenience,” the most convenient thing to do would be to simply use the classified and unclassified email accounts the Government provides at no cost to you to do your official business, then just use a Hotmail or Gmail account or whatever for your personal business. Instead, she chose, at considerable effort and expense, to create her own computer network, complete with its own servers (multiple), even hiring an administrator onto the federal payroll to run it for her. Why?

I think it is fairly obvious to anyone with an IQ above room temperature that her intent in doing this was to evade the requirements of the Federal Records Act and Freedom of Information Act, thereby keeping her communications free from the prying eyes of the Inspector General, congressional oversight committees, the press and the public. Well, if her purpose was to avoid complying with federal statutes, doesn’t that, by definition, mean that she had the INTENT to break the law? And why does the FBI not care about this?

The other dog that didn’t bark: how did all this classified information get onto her server in the first place? It is important to understand that classified information up to the Secret level is handled on its own computer network; information at the Top Secret and above level is on another, even more exclusive network altogether. And the crucial fact is that there is NO connectivity between these classified networks and the internet. It would be literally impossible simply to email a classified document from these networks to an address on the internet.

That means that someone would have had either to laboriously transcribe classified documents from their source into an unclassified email or to download these materials onto some sort of removable media (CD, thumb drive, etc.), and then upload them to the internet. Not once or twice, mind you, but literally THOUSANDS of times. Doesn’t that level of effort to remove classified material from its proper place and put it on Hillary’s network demonstrate considerable, uh, what’s that word again? INTENT?

And what does the FBI think about that? Hmm, wouldn’t you like to know?

Having worked extensively with the FBI, I can’t imagine that these questions and others didn’t occur to the rank and file agents working the case, probably at a very early stage. The fact that they were not followed up on (at least not as has been publicly revealed) indicates that the FBI was deliberately instructed to maintain as narrow a focus as possible, either explicitly or implicitly. Who gave those orders? Comey? Lynch? The White House? Again, wouldn’t you like to know?
Good questions. Of course, we'll never get the answer to these questions.

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Even the Washington Post thought that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg went too far in a public interview expressing her contempt for Donald Trump and her discussion of Court cases she'd like to see overturned.
However valid her comments may have been, though, and however in keeping with her known political bent, they were still much, much better left unsaid by a member of the Supreme Court. There’s a good reason the Code of Conduct for United States Judges flatly states that a “judge should not . . . publicly endorse or oppose a candidate for public office.” Politicization, real or perceived, undermines public faith in the impartiality of the courts. No doubt this restriction requires judges, and justices, to muzzle themselves and, to a certain extent, to pretend they either do or do not think various things that they obviously do or do not believe. As the saying goes, however, “hypocrisy is the compliment vice pays to virtue.”

As journalists, we generally favor more openness and disclosure from public figures rather than less. Yet Justice Ginsburg’s off-the-cuff remarks about the campaign fall into that limited category of candor that we can’t admire, because it’s inconsistent with her function in our democratic system. Only 16 years ago, a key issue regarding the outcome of the 2000 presidential election wound up at the Supreme Court, whose decision in favor of Republican nominee George W. Bush, backed by five conservative Republican appointees, was regarded as controversial by many and nakedly partisan by some. Think of how that situation would have played out if one or more of the justices had previously mused about leaving for New Zealand in the event of a victory for either Mr. Bush or his opponent, Democrat Al Gore.
More amazingly, the New York Times had this headline
Donald Trump Is Right About Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

It's rare to see the NYT, Washington Post, and WSJ editorial pages all line up with the same argument, but Ruth Bader Ginsburg has indeed brought unity and harmony to the punditocracy. Here is the WSJ.
Such overt partisanship from a judge should disqualify her from hearing any case related to the presidential election—such as voter ID laws. It would also raise doubts about her fairness in judging executive-branch actions if Mr. Trump becomes President.

Justice Ginsburg further violated judicial norms by lecturing the Senate for not confirming President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland. “That’s their job,” she said. “There’s nothing in the Constitution that says the president stops being president in his last year.”

There’s also nothing in the Constitution that says the Senate can’t operate on its own schedule or even that it must vote on a nominee. Judges—especially Justices who are supposed to set a judicial example—are supposed to stay out of such political disputes unless they become controversies that merit adjudication.
She also went ahead and told us how Justice Kagan would have voted in the Fisher affirmative action case even though Kagan had recused herself. Though few doubt how Kagan would have voted, it's not up to a fellow justice to announce her feelings.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg set the precedent in her Supreme Court nomination hearings before the Senate of refusing to answer on issues that she felt she might have to rule on as a justice. After the contentious Bork hearings, Ginsburg's approach has become the model for nominees who followed her. It's funny that, having been on the Court for over 20 years, she's no longer concerned about expressing those views. I think we all knew how she felt about Trump or Citizens United, but she could have just declined to be so specific in her comments to various news outlets.

She stepped so far over the line that I almost suspect that she is readying herself for retirement as long as Hillary and a Democratic Senate are elected.

Now that Hillary has moved fully to the left-most side of the spectrum to win over Bernie Sanders' votes, a lot of analysts think that this full embrace of socialistic policies may hurt Hillary in the general election. They marvel at how far she's moved from the positions of her husband. Ramesh Ponnuru explains why it probably won't hurt the Democrats to have shifted their party so far to the left.
Partisan sorting. The Obama years saw the remaining conservative Democrats get wiped out, as Weigel notes. The Democrats are a more uniformly progressive party now. There are fewer conservative Democrats among the party’s elected officials and activists to counsel restraint, and fewer conservative Democratic voters to worry about alienating. The platform reflects these developments.

Demographics. Democrats have grown increasingly convinced that demographic trends augur a lasting progressive majority. Whites are more conservative than nonwhites, married people are more conservative than single people, and church-going Christians are more conservative than everyone else. The percentage of the population that belongs to each of those conservative groups is dwindling, which suggests that conservatism will dwindle, too. These trends give liberals a reason to think that their positions have become less politically risky than they used to be and will be even less risky in the future.

The success of Bill Clinton. Judged by the standards of today’s Democrats, the Clinton administration looks conservative. Clinton signed laws cutting the capital-gains tax, requiring able-bodied welfare recipients to work, making criminal sentences more severe, funding the building of prisons, and defining marriage in federal law as the union of a man and a woman. He said abortion should be “rare,” a sentiment absent from the party’s platform today.

Some progressives damn the compromises of the 1990s. But they should consider that they are able to do so only because those compromises rehabilitated liberalism in the eyes of the public. Welfare reform, in particular, helped to re-legitimize government activism by reassuring middle-class voters that benefits would go to people who work for a living and, in that way, support rather than undermine their values. By playing it safe in a conservative era, the Clintons helped liberalism to survive and grow -- and now can run a more confidently liberal party.

Republican haplessness. Republicans have lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections. They have spent much of the Obama administration at war with themselves. This year the party's voters chose the presidential candidate who polled worst in a general election, and looked least likely to organize and raise funds for a competent national campaign, to be their nominee.

A formidable Republican Party would be able to make the Democrats pay a political price for going too far to the left, and this potential would inhibit the Democrats. Today’s Republicans do not have the Democrats running scared, at least in presidential elections.

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Kevin Arnovitz argues that
, if the NBA really wanted more players to have long careers like Tim Duncan, they should agree to cut back on the length of the season. His argument is that playing so many games in a year increases the chance of injuries that turn potential superstars into might-have-beens. Think of what fans have missed because of injuries to Grant Hill, Tracy McGrady, and Derrick Rose.
But if the board of governors wants to understand the essence of Duncan's greatness behind the fundamental purity of his big-man game, they should consider the factors that contributed most to his endurance. And if they're honest about it, they'll note that Duncan never sniffed the top 25 in minutes played in any season after 2002-03, and that the Spurs monitored his playing time obsessively, even incurring $250,000 fines if it meant giving their franchise player the rest he needed.

If the league and its power brokers truly want to honor Duncan and bolster his legacy, they'll cede to the best practices that kept Duncan on the floor until age 40. They'll recognize that finding the necessary rest and recovery for players shouldn't be the product of some clever manipulation of the NBA schedule -- it should just be the NBA schedule.
Teams would make more money if their best stars had fewer injuries. They need to recognize that and see that turning down the short-term money of having so many games a season in exchange for having the stars last longer. In the long run, they'd make more money. The players are all in favor in trimming the season back; it's the owners who must agree. These are all extremely rich people; they didn't get that way by being short-sighted. I hope that, in the new CBA, they pay attention to Arnowitz's advice.

Maybe it's not so bad if your kids suck their thumbs or bite their nails.
Researchers in New Zealand have found that children who suck their thumbs or bite their nails are less likely to develop allergies later in their lives.

The research comes from a long-term project known as the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study, which has followed more than 1,000 children from Dunedin, New Zealand, since birth. The study is now in its fifth decade.