Monday, September 11, 2017

Cruising the Web

Alan Dershowitz writes today about the dangers posed by both the hard right and the hard left and why the latter is more dangerous to the U.S. today.
History has set limits on how far to the extremes of the hard right reasonable right-wingers are prepared to go. Following the horrors of the Holocaust and Southern lynchings, no one claiming the mantle of conservative is willing to be associated with Nazi anti-Semitism or the KKK. Neo-Nazi and Klan speakers are not invited to university campuses.

The hard left lacks comparable limits. Despite what Stalin, Mao, the Castros, Pol Pot, Hugo Chavez and North Korea’s Kims have done in the name of communism, there are still those on the left—including some university professors and students—who do not shrink from declaring themselves communists, or even Stalinists or Maoists. Their numbers are not high, but the mere fact that it is acceptable on campuses, even if not praiseworthy, to be identified with hard-left mass murderers, but not hard-right mass murderers, is telling.

The ultimate goals of the hard right are different, and far less commendable, than those of the hard left. The hard-right utopia might be a fascist society modeled on the Italy or Germany of the 1930s, or the segregationist post-Reconstruction American South.

The hard-left utopia would be a socialist or communist state-regulated economy aiming for economic and racial equality. The means for achieving these important goals might be similar to those of the hard right. Hitler, Stalin and Mao all killed millions of innocent people in an effort to achieve their goals.

For the vast majority of reasonable people, including centrist conservatives, the hard-right utopia would be a dystopia to be avoided at all costs. The hard-left utopia would be somewhat more acceptable to many on the center left, so long as it was achieved nonviolently.
I see that in class discussions today with my high school students. So many times I've heard students say things along the lines of "Sure, Stalin was bad, but at least his goals were admirable." They don't seem to understand that the means are inextricable from the goals. A government can't create an equality for all without taking away some people's property which leads to protests and subsequent denials of essential liberties. When government has that goal, the loss of civil liberties will follow.
The danger posed by the extreme left is directly related to its more benign goals, which seduce some people, including university students and faculty. Believing that noble ends justify ignoble means, they are willing to accept the antidemocratic, intolerant and sometimes violent censorship policies and actions of Antifa and its radical cohorts.

For that reason, the most extreme left zealots are welcomed today on many campuses to express their radical views. That is not true of the most extreme neo-Nazi or KKK zealots, such as David Duke and Richard Spencer. Former White House aide Steve Bannon recently told “60 Minutes” that “the neo-Nazis and neo-Confederates and the Klan, who by the way are absolutely awful—there’s no room in American politics for that.” In contrast, prominent American leftists, such as Noam Chomsky and even Bernie Sanders, supported the candidacy of British hard-left extremist Jeremy Corbyn, despite his flirtation with anti-Semitism.

The hard right is dangerous largely for what it has done in the past. For those who believe that past is prologue, the danger persists. It also persists for those who look to Europe for hints of what may be in store for us: Neofascism is on the rise in Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, Greece, Lithuania and even France. Some of this rise may be attributable to regional issues, such as the mass migration of Muslims from Syria and other parts of the Middle East. But some may also be a function of growing nationalism and nostalgia for the “glory” days of Europe—or, as evidenced in our last election, of America.

The danger posed by the extreme hard left is more about the future. Leaders of tomorrow are being educated today on campus. The tolerance for censorship and even violence to suppress dissenting voices may be a foretaste of things to come. The growing influence of “intersectionality”—which creates alliances among “oppressed” groups—has led to a strange acceptance by much of the extreme left of the far-from-progressive goals and violent means of radical Islamic terrorist groups that are sexist, homophobic, anti-Semitic and anti-Western. This combination of hard-left secular views and extreme Islamic theological views is toxic.
But all Antifa seems to have to do is to state that it is opposed to fascism and there are many in the media and on the Left who will give it a pass.

Perhaps more stories such as this one from Portland will help to open people's eyes.
Self-described “anti-fascists” (or “Antifa”) launched smoke bombs and other projectiles at Portland police officers and attacked photographers documenting their actions on Sunday, law enforcement officers said.

Left-wing agitators descended upon Portland in response to a “Patriot Prayer” rally on Sunday. Antifa members reportedly launched smoke bombs and other projectiles at police officers, who arrested at least seven people, according to the Portland Police Department, which documented the violence on Twitter. At least two police officers were injured in the violence.

Philip Terzian explains
how he came to realize that "we're all McCarthyites now," as he details a truly objectionable statement by Congressman Luis Guierrez of Illinois.
My epiphany came last week, when Mr. Gutiérrez reacted angrily after Donald Trump put on notice the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Mr. Gutiérrez had met in July with John Kelly, the retired Marine general who was then secretary of homeland security, and who seems to have offered soothing words on the subject. But then Mr. Kelly became President Trump’s chief of staff—and, presumably, signed off on ending DACA.

“General Kelly is a hypocrite who is a disgrace to the uniform he used to wear,” Mr. Gutiérrez declared last week. “He has no honor and should be drummed out of the White House, along with the other white supremacists and those enabling the president’s actions by ‘just following orders.’ ”

Mr. Gutiérrez is no stranger to bombast, but what surprised me here was that his words passed largely unnoticed. A general in government service who is “a disgrace to the uniform.” Where have we heard that before?
You guessed it. It was a favored epithet of Joe McCarthy and lead eventually to the Army-MCCarthy hearings that helped to bring McCarthy's vile behavior to the awareness of the American people.
But the point today is that McCarthy’s assertion that Zwicker—who had gone ashore before the first wave at Omaha Beach to do reconnaissance for D-Day—was “not fit to wear that uniform” struck Americans of the day as deeply shocking.

But that was then. Reasonable people will differ about the merits of DACA, as well as Mr. Kelly’s choice to join the Trump administration. Mr. Gutiérrez is entitled to his opinion, including the Nazi allusion to “just following orders.” Yet reaction to the insult proved mildly predictable: Some retorted that Mr. Gutiérrez never served in the armed forces—a criticism leveled, with equal validity, at Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt —while others pointed out that Mr. Kelly’s elder son had been killed in action in Afghanistan.

Civic life has lost something when an angry congressman is emboldened to declare an honorable officer a “disgrace to the uniform.” In 1954 such aspersions were regarded as abhorrent. Now they’re just noise in a busy news cycle.

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Salena Zito writes about how Democrats' move to the left is hurting them with religiously conservative voters who might, otherwise, vote Democratic.
"Democrats used to debate the legal right to have one, and that was a point of view that was shared by most voters," said Michael Wear, a theologically conservative evangelical Christian and Democrat who served in Barack Obama's faith outreach office in the White House.

"I don't understand why 14 months before a midterm election why would you push 20 percent of voters who would love to support Democrats out the door? Better yet why would you speak of pro-life Democrats as though they were some extraterrestrial who just landed on earth?" he said.

It is rare that anyone who has had an abortion celebrates it — [actress Martha] Plimpton seems to fail to understand few in this country do. Maybe the privileged class does? Well even if they did that won't help the Democratic Party win back voters. Or is the intellectual class that does? Well even if they do that does not win back majorities either. Or maybe it is the celebrity class? Not enough of them to win back the House or Senate.

In short, this is not the message you want to win every down ballot seat the party has let waste away under the thrust of identity politics.

It is not that voters like Republican candidates — it's just that they just dislike Democrats more.

The face of the Democratic Party has increasingly become the face of celebrity, scold, and entitlement. The people they used to attract to their "stand for the working class" creed have faded from their reach; they have lost touch with their needs and values and they certainly have lost touch with any type of meaningful message.

They do not celebrate hard work, they demand supporters are pro-abortion, expect them to be agnostic and also expect them to stand for their multitude of identity politics; instead of bringing people together and being part of a greater political party, division is the only way forward.

"We have seen a tendency in some part of the progressive coalition to react to Republican extremism by becoming extreme in our own voices," Wear said. "Well, that's not helpful."
I am not sure that all those who are otherwise Democrats are going to jump over to the Republicans, especially if they dislike Trump. But they may just decide to stay home. And if enough of them do vote Republican because they think that the Democrats are deriding their beliefs, that could be a worry for the Democratic coalition. And having prominent Democratic senators like Diane Feinstein and Dick Durbin misstate the beliefs of a Catholic judicial nominee for believing Catholic doctrine doesn't help.
"This is just wrong and it doesn't just hurt and target people of faith, it hurts good Democrat candidates like Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, or Joe Donnelly of Indiana who take their faith seriously.

I know both men along with other Democrats running for office will be asked during the upcoming mid-terms to disavow Feinstein and Durbin's attitudes and line of questioning. It's a mark against them and the party to be put in this position."

Here in the Ohio Valley down ballot Democrats have lost their seats in spades in this area; on both the Pennsylvania and state sides from state legislator to state senator to Congress and the presidency the voters began peeling away from the left since Al Gore in 2000.

A nationwide exit polling data shows Trump won Catholics by 52 percent to 45 percent over Clinton. A huge swing from the past two elections for Barack Obama when Catholics voted for him by margins of 9 points in 2008 and 2 points in 2012.

Why is that important? Well in states like Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and all throughout the Midwest the Catholic vote is a very important voting bloc no matter what you are running for — and that includes running to retake the majority in 2018.

The last thing Democrats should be doing is to purposefully stiff arm people we are going to need to win said Wear, "If we have one chance to turn to take back Congress this strategy is not going to [do] it," he said.
The Republicans are doing enough to turn off voters. It's rather pitiful that their best hope for 2018 might be the Democrats damaging themselves with their attitudes towards religious voters.

Jeannie Suk Gersen, a law professor at Harvard Law School explains in the New Yorker why Betsy DeVos's speech on Title IX was, contrary to the hysterical responses by some, actually was a step toward fairness and an end to the sex discrimination against men perpetrated by the Obama administration.
The rejection of an either/or mentality—one in which the education system is either “for” or “against” victims of sexual violence—was striking also in DeVos’s nod to the growing phenomenon of female students who are accused of sexual misconduct on campus, underscoring that a respect for basic fairness and due process benefits both women and men. She pointed to a recent case in which the University of Southern California disbelieved a female student’s insistence that she had merely “roughhoused” with her boyfriend, and expelled him for his alleged abuse over her objection. Calling the “current reality” a “failed system” in which “everyone loses,” DeVos noted, “Survivors aren’t well-served when they are re-traumatized with appeal after appeal because the failed system failed the accused.” When schools use an unfair process to discipline students, she suggested, even guilty parties can be vindicated later in lawsuits in court. Sloppy campus processes lead to general lack of confidence in the results, and further undermine the interests of sexual-assault victims.

In short, DeVos appears to be proceeding exactly as an agency head should: give notice, take comments, and explain why a given policy is being adopted. But the intent to depart from an Obama-era policy, which itself did not go through those steps, will undoubtedly garner outrage and dismay. “We must continue to condemn the scourge of sexual misconduct on our campuses,” she said. “We can do a better job of making sure the handling of complaints is fair and accurate,” she also said. If these statements were made by a different official in a different Administration, they would seem rational, uncontroversial, and even banal. The idea that an adjudicatory process should be fair to both sides is about as basic as any facet of American law can be
These statements by DeVos are so rational that the only reason to get so upset is because people just don't like her or Trump. The Left decided that she was the absolutely worst appointment by Trump because of her support for school choice. As Joy Pullmann writes, her opponents would rather focus on her and the school choice movement than on the failures of regular public schools. And many in the media such as this New York Times article about charters in Michigan, are willing to take up the cudgels to attack giving parents a choice.
The NYT article poses as a deep dive into education in Michigan, DeVos’s home state, which it laughably calls an “unregulated” “Wild West” for charter schools—public schools run by universities, nonprofits, companies, and even traditional school districts. In Michigan’s “Wild West,” people who want to open a charter school must comply with thousands of pages of state, local, and federal regulations, largely the same as those for traditional public schools, concerning teacher credentials, building codes, special-needs students, curriculum, testing, transparency, budgeting and finance, and more, all with approximately a third less funding compared to the state’s traditional public schools. That may be crazy, but it ain’t for the reasons Mr. New York Times thinks.

The NYT article also cites a 2016 Education Trust-Midwest report that misinterprets another study it cites to claim that “70 percent of Michigan charters were in the bottom half of the state’s rankings.” Yes, if you don’t adjust the data to account for the fact that charter schools tend to serve poor and minority students. When researchers factored in socioeconomic data to compare apples and apples, as they say, “82 percent of Michigan charters created higher than average growth in reading, and 72 percent had higher growth in math” and “almost all charter schools in Michigan are doing about the same or better than their conventional school counterparts.” Unlike those cited in this article, the most reliable studies, those based on random assignment, do indeed find that comparable charter-school students learn more than their traditional-public counterparts, and typically at substantially less cost to taxpayers.

The article also misleads readers by citing dismal-sounding data about state public school performance. But only about one in ten of Michigan public schools are charter schools. Does it make sense to blame 10 percent of an ecosystem for 100 percent of its problems, especially when research shows the 10 percent is at least comparable to the other 90?

Not to mention the head-slapping insanity of simultaneously noting that Michigan children sit in classrooms with leaky roofs on streets bereft of streetlights because their public education system, particularly in the neediest school districts, is bankrupt due to decades of gross internal mismanagement. Taxes from decades past and decades in the future has been spent by a cabal of feckless politicians and greedy system profiteers. And we’re supposed to be inherently suspicious about charter management companies because government always good, business always bad? Teachers unions and corrupt officials looted Michigan’s public schools, and the answer is to write that failed system a bigger check?

This is where we get to the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of self-styled “public education advocates.”

If you doubt the ugly reaction to Betsy DeVos's speech, just check out what a Texas lawyer was willing to post under his own name on Twitter.
Rob Ranco, a partner at the Carlson Law Firm, suggested Mrs. DeVos does not fully grasp how serious of a crime rape is, and that she might come to a different policy conclusion if she did.

“I’m not wishing for it… but I’d be ok if #BetsyDevos was sexually assaulted,” Mr. Ranco said in a tweet on Friday evening.
“Perhaps Betsy doesn’t understand how horrible rape is,” Mr. Ranco said in another tweet. “She’s made the world more dangerous for my daughters. I need her to understand.”

“Make the world more dangerous for my daughters — intentionally — and your well being is not my concern,” he continued. “Full stop.”
This is the upside down world of the left. If you're for due process rights, you must be on the side of rapists. If you support free speech rights, you must be on the side of racists. If we didn't have the Bill of Rights to protect us, just imagine what these people would do in government.

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USA Today writes in support of Betsy DeVos's announced reforms of how the Department of Education will approach allegations of assault on college campuses.
Sexual assaults are serious crimes best handled by the criminal justice system. The most stringent punishment schools can order is expulsion. That can be appropriate for cheating on a term paper, but not for rape — particularly when some expelled students are serial predators who might strike again on another campus.

At the same time, when universities employ tribunals or other quasi-judicial systems, they have an obligation to follow due process. Victims groups argue that due process is not required in “administrative hearings,” as opposed to criminal cases. But in 1975, the Supreme Court ruled that “where a person's good name, reputation, honor, or integrity is at stake,” minimal requirements of due process "must be satisfied.”

In other words, due process is not some legal technicality. It's a matter of fairness that lies at the heart of America’s justice system.

According to one study, 2% to 10% of rape accusations are false. Some others are alcohol-fueled encounters riddled with uncertainty. Yet under the 2011 policy guidance, an innocent student can be branded as a rapist for life based on the lowest standard of proof, “preponderance of the evidence.”

Since the Obama rules took effect, about 100 students have appealed guilty findings. In about 60 cases, courts have sided with them. In one case detailed in The Atlantic, a University of Massachusetts student accused — and later found not responsible — of a dubious sexual misconduct charge was banned from talking about the case and ultimately hounded from campus.

A better system is clearly needed.

The coddling of tender snowflakes on college campuses keeps increasing exponentially. Now Berkeley is giving students who might be upset by hearing Ben Shapiro come speak special counseling. Geesh!
In a message sent earlier this week, Provost Paul Alivisatos said the university was taking precautions in advance of the Sept. 14 visit by conservative political commentator and former Breitbart editor Ben Shapiro. There will be a “closed perimeter” around the building where Shapiro is scheduled to speak, and an “increased and highly visible police presence.”

A number of university buildings near Zellerbach Hall, the event’s location, will be closed that afternoon. In order to pass through security barriers, people will have to show tickets for the speech.

The university also is offering counseling to students and faculty worried about the event, which is being held at the invitation of the Berkeley College Republicans.

“We are deeply concerned about the impact some speakers may have on individuals’ sense of safety and belonging,” Alivisatos said in the memo posted on the university’s website. “No one should be made to feel threatened or harassed simply because of who they are or for what they believe.”
You know, if you don't like someone's message, don't go hear him. Or go hear him and engage him with questions. Don't go hide away needing counseling before you even heard what he has to say.

The irony is that these supposed anti-fascists really have no idea who Ben Shapiro is. Because he's a vocal conservative, they just lump him in with those groups they are already targeting.
Left-wing agitators have falsely labeled conservative commentator Ben Shapiro a “white supremacist,” in an apparent attempt to inflame tensions ahead of Shapiro’s speech at the University of California, Berkeley on Thursday.

Shapiro, the editor in chief of The Daily Wire, is an Orthodox Jew and a vocal opponent of the alt-right and other fringe white nationalist groups. Nevertheless, Refuse Fascism, a group that has previously organized violent demonstrations in Berkeley, labeled Shapiro a “fascist thug” and “white supremacist” over the weekend.

“Fascist thug [and] white supremacist Ben Shapiro is coming to UC Berkeley — The issue is not ‘Free Speech,'” the group wrote in a Facebook post. “The Issue is Fascism.”
They're not against supposed fascists, but anyone who is conservative. If they had their way, no conservative would be allowed to speak in public.

Glenn Greenwald, no conservative, warns liberals what would be the result of instituting hate speech codes. He reminds us of a 2006 essay that Newt Gingrich had written about suppressing the free-speech rights of Islamic radicals since they don't believe in the Constitution or free speech themselves. We're seeing similar arguments among young people and those on the left in favor of suppressing the speech of those they regard as white supremacists or anyone whose speech could be termed as "hate speech."
MANY AMERICANS WHO long for Europe’s hate speech restrictions assume that those laws are used to outlaw and punish expression of the bigoted ideas they most hate: racism, homophobia, Islamophobia, misogyny. Often, such laws are used that way. There are numerous cases in western Europe and Canada of far-right extremists being arrested, fined, or even jailed for publicly spouting that type of overt bigotry.

But hate speech restrictions are used in those countries to suppress, outlaw, and punish more than far-right bigotry. Those laws have frequently been used to constrain and sanction a wide range of political views that many left-wing censorship advocates would never dream could be deemed “hateful,” and even against opinions which many of them likely share.

France is probably the most extreme case of hate speech laws being abused in this manner. In 2015, France’s highest court upheld the criminal conviction of 12 pro-Palestinian activists for violating restrictions against hate speech. Their crime? Wearing T-shirts that advocated a boycott of Israel — “Long live Palestine, boycott Israel,” the shirts read — which, the court ruled, violated French law that “prescribes imprisonment or a fine of up to $50,000 for parties that ‘provoke discrimination, hatred or violence toward a person or group of people on grounds of their origin, their belonging or their not belonging to an ethnic group, a nation, a race or a certain religion.'”
Well, you know speech codes have gone too far if they target anti-Israeli messages. But I jest. His point is that once a government starts banning supposed "hate speech," who knows what messages will be targeted. And if liberals don't care about the speech of conservatives being banned, perhaps they'll care about the speech of those with whom they disagree. And sadly many on the left support activism against Israel. Well, as Greenwald points out, France and Canada now prosecute calls for boycotting Israel. I disagree vehemently with those activists. But they should be allowed to make their statements. Then let us criticize and ridicule their position. But they should have a legal right for their anti-Semitic messages. We're entering dangerous territory now as, across the world, more and more countries are restricting speech that they fear may stir up unrest. We're lucky in the U.S. to have the First Amendment to protect speech. Without such a protection, the trend will continue across Europe.

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David Osborne writes in the WSJ
to celebrate the 25-year anniversary of charter schools. The first one opened in 1992 in St. Paul, Minnesota. And now we have around 7,000 schools that serve about 3 million students.
Their growth has become controversial among those wedded to the status quo, but charters undeniably are effective, especially in urban areas. After four years in a charter, urban students learn about 50% more a year than demographically similar students in traditional public schools, according to a 2015 report from Stanford’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes.

The American cities that have most improved their schools are those that have embraced charters wholeheartedly. Their success suggests that policy makers should stop thinking of charters as an innovation around the edges of the public-school system—and realize that they simply are a better way to organize public education.

New Orleans, which will be 100% charters next year, is America’s fastest-improving city when it comes to education. Test scores, graduation and dropout rates, college-going rates and independent studies all tell the same story: The city’s schools have doubled or tripled their effectiveness in the decade since the state began turning them over to charter operators.

More than 80% of their students are African-American, and an equal percentage qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. But on the most important metrics—graduation and college-going rates—New Orleans became the first high-poverty city to outperform its overall state in 2015 and 2016.

Or consider Washington. In 1996 Congress created a Public Charter School Board for the capital. After 20 years, its 120 schools educate 46% of the city’s public-school students. As in New Orleans, the board closes charter schools in which kids are falling behind, while encouraging the best to expand or open new schools.

The competition from charters helped spur Washington’s mayor to take control of the failing school district and initiate profound reforms. The district is improving rapidly. Yet my analysis of available data suggests the charter sector still performs better. The difference with African-American and low-income students is dramatic, even though charters receive between $6,000 and $7,000 less per pupil annually than district schools do.
He goes on to celebrate what charter schools have accomplished in cities such as Denver, Camden, Indianapolis, and Memphis in which large percentages of the students now attend charters and similar innovative schools.
A century ago reformers reinvented our public-school systems to cope with the new realities of the Industrial Era. They created the centralized, bureaucratic school systems most of us grew up with. Today reformers are creating a postbureaucratic system, in which schools have autonomy but are held accountable for performance. Parents have choices among schools with a variety of learning models, and authorizers steer the system but do not operate schools.

The teachers unions hate this model, because most charter schools are not unionized. But if someone discovered a vaccine to cure cancer, would anyone limit its use because hospitals and drug companies found it threatening?