Friday, November 24, 2017

Cruising the Web

I the hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are not going too crazy on Black Friday. And if you don't feel like braving the craziness of BLack Friday in person, feel free to use the Amazon links below. I do appreciate it when you use my Amazon links. I use the commission that Amazon pays for buying books and other materials for my classroom.

elanie Sloan, the former executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), tells of her experience working for John Conyers more than 20 years ago. She worked as minority counsel to the House Judiciary Committee from 1995 to 1998 in a period during which Conyers was the ranking Democrat on the committee.
A high-profile Washington lawyer specializing in congressional ethics said Wednesday that Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) harassed and verbally abused her when she worked for him on Capitol Hill in the 1990s and that her repeated appeals for help to congressional leadership were ignored.

“There was nothing I could do to stop it,” Melanie Sloan said in an interview. “Not going to leadership, not going to my boss, not going to a women’s group, not going to a reporter. I was dismissed and told I must be mentally unstable.”

...

Sloan said that Conyers routinely yelled at and berated her, often criticizing her appearance. On one occasion, she said, he summoned her to his Rayburn Building office, where she found him in his underwear.

“I was pretty taken aback to see my boss half-dressed,” she said. “I turned on my heel and I left.”

....Sloan is the first former Conyers staff member to speak on the record about the 88-year-old congressman, the longest-serving member of the House and the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee. She said she kept quiet about the incidents for 20 years because her earlier complaints were not taken seriously. She agreed to speak about her experience with Conyers after a Washington Post reporter contacted her.

“The reason I decided to go on the record is to make it easier for other people,” she said. “People are afraid to come forward. So much about working in Washington is about loyalty, and you are supposed to shut up about these things.”

Sloan said she complained repeatedly about Conyers’s behavior to her supervisor and contacted a senior staff member in the office of then-Rep. Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.), the House minority leader at the time.
I would imagine that the Democrats would like to get Conyers out of the House. If they should win control of the House after 2018, which looks more likely than not, they might carry through with their intentions to file impeachment charges against Trump. Those charges would go through the Judiciary Committee where Conyers is the ranking member and set to be chairman if the Democrats win. If they did do go forward with impeachment, they don't want Conyers to be the face of their efforts to impeach the President.

His lawyer is hinting that there are a lot more congressmen who would have to resign if Conyers had to resign over his behavior.
The attorney for Democratic Michigan Rep. John Conyers, who is accused of continuously sexually harassing his female staffers, defended Conyers by indicating that there are allegations against “many members” of the House and Senate.

Conyers’ attorney, Arnold E. Reed, released a statement defending the Michigan Democrat and pushing back against the “disturbing allegations.” The bizarre statement was written in all-CAPS and referred to both Reed and Conyers in the third person.

“Reed acknowledged that while these allegations are serious, they are simply allegations,” the statement said. “If people were required to resign over allegations, a lot of people would be out of work in this country including many members of the House, Senate and even the president.”

The statement said that Conyers has “no plans to resign” despite calls for him to do so.
You know, at this point, I'm not seeing a huge downside if a lot of these guys had to resign.

And I wouldn't miss Joe Barton either. Any congressman sending out pictures of his anatomy to women is just too dumb to be in Congress. I don't care if both were unattached adults at the time.

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Jonah Goldberg explores the dangers of adopting the Trump standard that we shouldn't pay attention to President Trump's standard for not condemning Roy Moore simply because Moore denies the accusations.
Denials should matter, and accusations absent additional evidence should invite skepticism. But the upshot here is that alleged miscreants should simply deny rather than admit wrongdoing and apologize. According to this logic, Bill Clinton deserved the benefit of every doubt until he was finally forced by the evidence to admit (some of) his misdeeds.

Worse, implicit to the White House argument is that on-the-record testimony from victims doesn’t count as evidence, even when corroborated by testimony from confidantes.

But the most dangerous and corrupting force in all of this is not the weaponization of bad behavior, but the weaponization of hypocrisy. The pastor Franklin Graham even argues that the real villains are Moore’s critics, who “are guilty of doing much worse than” what Moore has supposedly done.

This obsession with hypocrisy leads to a repugnant immorality. In an effort to defend members of their team, partisans end up defending the underlying behavior itself. After all, you can be a hypocrite only if you violate some principle you preach. If you ditch the principle, you can dodge the hypocrisy charge. We’re seeing this happen in real time with some of Moore’s defenders, just as we saw it with Clinton’s in the 1990s.

We’ll sort it all out eventually, but not before it gets even uglier.
Just think of all the people that Trump has accused of all sorts of things: President Obama for where he might have been born, Hillary Clinton for multiple malfeasances; Bill Clinton for his sexual peccadillos, even Ted Cruz's father for the JFK assassination. All it took for Trump was a story in a tabloid and he was willing to make the accusation. But suddenly, for Trump all that is necessary is a denial and he's now full of doubt. Yeah, sure.

While we hear so much about how we need more gun control laws, it would be nice if the current laws we have were actually enforced.
A June 2016 Justice Department Inspector General’s report revealed that between 2008 and 2015 the U.S. Attorneys office considered prosecuting “less than 32 people per year” for lying on form 4473, the federal application to buy guns.

Surprisingly, the Obama administration’s harshest critics are gun manufacturers themselves.

Daniel D. Roberts, who in 2009 was named Assistant Director of the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division, confirmed that more than 100,000 criminals each year attempt to buy guns even though they have rap sheets.

“When I was there, it was running around 100,000 a year of firearm purchasers that tried to go through to buy guns. I think it’s more than 100,000 now,” he told TheDCNF in an interview. “That should trigger a referral to the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) for investigation for lying on the forms.”

Two of every 10 gun denials referred to the ATF was sent to field offices for prosecution, a Justice Department report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics in 2013 and 2014 found. Eight of ten never faced prosecution, according to the report....

Dave Workman, a senior editor of the Gunmag.com, a publication owned by the pro-gun rights Second Amendment Foundation, claims the Obama administration simply didn’t want to spend the money to prosecute people who lied on their form 4473.

“The Justice Department didn’t want to spend the money or interest or time to prosecute the key people who lied on their 4473,” he told TheDCNF in an interview.

The Inspector General’s report bears out Workman’s observation, stating prosecuting those who lied on their applications was “not the best use of Department resources.”

Prosecutors “hold the view that prosecuting subjects for false statements on a firearm application absent other aggravating circumstances may not be the best use of Department resources,” The Executive Office of U.S. Attorney said.

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Here is an explanation of why we aren't seeing many stories of sexual harassment cases in Britain. It's not that there are fewer men with piggish behavior there, but because there are differences in libel laws.
In the UK, there is a key point in libel law that explains a lot.

When someone sues, they don't have to prove the story is wrong.

The publisher - for example, the newspaper or website - has to prove their story is right.

This means, before publishing, the media needs a water-tight case. To accuse someone of sexual misconduct, they would normally need
So the British media have to feel that they have proof of their story that will withstand legal challenges. Here in the United States, the burden is on the plaintiff to prove that the story is false. If the person is famous, the plaintiff also has to prove that the media published the story with "actual malice." That is a heavy burden on the plaintiff and serves to protect the media. If the plaintiff can prove their case, however, they can win millions.
Which system is better - the UK or the US - depends on your point of view.

If you've been wrongly accused, you may yearn for the British system - where publishing is riskier.

If you're a victim, you may prefer the US system - where the constitution protects freedom of speech.

Either way, the effect is clear.

The US has a flood of cases. In the UK, it remains drip-drip.

There are some very heartening result
s looking at the level of improvement that students have been making in Wisconsin's choice programs in education compared to the regular public schools.
Under the new growth measures in the state report card, the positive results for Wisconsin’s school choice programs are staggering. Students in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program experienced approximately 8 percent more growth than students in similar public schools. In the Racine Parental Choice Program, the results were even stronger. Students in Racine’s choice schools experienced about 24 percent more growth than students in public schools. Similar results were found for Wisconsin's charter schools, which also offer an important alternative to traditional public education. Such dramatic levels of growth could mean the difference in a child needing to attend summer school, or even being held back.

These findings also damage the claim of school choice opponents that choice programs are ‘creaming the crop’ of public school kids. According to this argument, the families that select into choice and charter schools are already somewhat higher achieving than those that remain in traditional public schools. These results show the opposite. Children enter Wisconsin’s school choice programs with very real learning deficits, which the schools are proving quite effective at addressing over time.

These students may still be a bit behind their peers from more well-off parts of the state. But the growth data suggests that they are catching up. For countless families of struggling students throughout Milwaukee and Racine, school choice programs are proving to be a path forward out of failure.

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Awful Announcing picks their Media Turkey of the Year. I agree with the guy who chose every producer who put LaVar Ball on TV this year and gave him a platform to spew his nonsense. He wasn't news when he started appearing in interviews and on countless TV shows to the point now that he has his own show and is feuding with Trump. Ugh!
But the producers who kept, and still keep, booking Ball strike me as the primary turkeys here; they know they’re getting Ball’s insane self-promotional act that feels ripped from professional wrestling, and they keep giving him more and more free exposure anyway, making him into such a media figure that other outlets feel the need to cover him. If not for these producers, LaVar Ball is at best a Twitter personality who maybe features near the end of a couple draft stories. He’s a NBA dad just like every other anonymous NBA dad. But thanks to these producers, he’s now a celebrity making international news for his feuds with the president. I hope they’re happy.