Monday, May 14, 2018

Cruising the Web

I hope all the mothers reading this blog had an excellent Mother's Day. I certainly did.


Remember the outrage when Dick Cheney criticized Obama foreign policy? Well, how about two Obama administration diplomatic officials, Steven Simon and Jonathan Stevenson, writing advice in the New York Times to European governments how they should try to answer Trump's decision to pull out of the Iran deal? They encourage European countries to continue doing business with Iran. But they have more advice.
The European Union could, for instance, announce the withdrawal of member-states’ ambassadors from the United States. Isn’t this what states do when diplomatic partners breach solemn agreements, expose them to security risks and threaten to wreak havoc on their economies? That is, after all, what the administration is threatening to do by courting the risk of a Middle Eastern war and applying secondary sanctions to European companies. Depending on the American response, European capitals might even follow up with expulsion of American ambassadors.

It would be hard to fault these moves as irresponsible, given that they would not impair vital security functions like intelligence-sharing and law enforcement coordination. They would, however, symbolize a stark diplomatic breach that could extend to other areas in which the Trump administration needs allied support.
I'm not sure what withdrawing ambassadors would do in this world of modern communication and summit meetings, but there is something rather unpleasant about officials of a former administration making the recommendation to foreign countries. At least when Dick Cheney was going public with his criticism of the Obama foreign policy, he was writing and speaking for a domestic audience, not trying to encourage foreign countries how to operate against the U.S. But I guess it shouldn't be a surprise given how members of the Obama foreign policy team including John Kerry have been working behind the scenes with the Iranians and Europeans on how to thwart Trump's decision to pull out of their own horrendous deal.


Of course, many in the EU don't need any help in opposing the Trump administration. There was a proposed EU statement criticizing the U.S. for moving the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. But it was blocked by EU members from Eastern Europe - Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Romania.
The initiative to publish the statement was led by France and several other EU member states. Israeli officials say the goal was to present to the U.S. a common position against the move by all 28 member states, and to embarrass and isolate the Trump administration ahead of Monday's ceremony.

According to European diplomats and Israeli officials, the draft statement circulated in European capitals had three points:

1. Jerusalem should be the capital of both states — Israel and the future state of Palestine.

2. The final status of Jerusalem should be negotiated and only determined through negotiations between the parties.

3, The member states of the EU will not follow the U.S. and will not move their embassies to Jerusalem.

According to European diplomats and Israeli officials the French and other member states wanted to publish the statement today as a statement by the EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini supported by all 28 EU members.

But earlier today, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Romania announced they object to the statement and made it impossible to reach the consensus needed to publish it.
A senior European diplomat told me with a lot of frustration: "The Hungarians didn’t want to poke Trump in the eye and the Czechs and the Romanians are considering to move their embassies to Jerusalem against the EU position. This is the state of the EU these days".
As Jazz Shaw writes,
Here’s one question for Macron and the rest of the EU leaders who were prepared to go along with this insult. Why is it anyone’s business where the U.S. Embassy to Israel is located except for the United States and Israel? The embassy can be wherever both countries mutually decide it should be. And trying to tell us where to locate our embassy looks rather embarrassing for Brussels when they can’t even enforce such an order on their own member nations. Perhaps minding your own business would be the better course of action here.


I know these results won't surprise anyone, but here are the results done on a study of the political affiliations of the faculty at elite liberal arts colleges by Mitchel Langbert at Brooklyn College.
In this paper I find that D:R ratios among fifty-one of the top sixty-six U.S. News-ranked colleges average 10.4:1., Excluding Annapolis and West Point raises the ratio to 12.7:1. This compares with a national D:R ratio of 1.6:1 for people who have some graduate school experience.

Some STEM fields come close to the baseline national average of 1.6:1; potentially ideologically linked fields, especially the interdisciplinary studies fields, do not. Thus, the D:R ratio for engineering is 1.6:1 while for the interdisciplinary studies fields it is 108:0.

Institutional factors at the state government level as well as at the individual college level may play some causal role. Professors in more Democratic states, especially in New York and New England, are more often affiliated with the Democratic Party than in other states.

Since the 1960s, a few liberal arts colleges have not conformed to the homogenizing trend, and these demonstrate that institutional characteristics, at a minimum, contribute to faculty political affiliation in liberal arts colleges. Thomas Aquinas is all Republican, and the two military colleges in my sample, West Point and Annapolis, have D:R ratios of 1.3:1 and 2.3:1. Studies that focus on grand means ignore the association of affiliation rates with institutional characteristics.
Here are some stats looking at the number of Democratic faculty members for every Republican and 25 academic fields.
Ah, that's what diversity in name only looks like. Of course, it's more complicated to see which ways the causality runs. Do conservatives not seek academic careers to the same degree that liberals do for some reason unrelated to bias or does the liberal environment make it more hostile for conservatives so they decide not to seek that career knowning they'd face bias in hiring. It's hard enough as it is to get a job as a professor these days so why take the risk that you'll not be hired simply because of your political ideology? Though Orin Kerr points out that the survey was done from February to September in 2017 and perhaps some GOP-registered professors changed their registration after the election of Trump. That could certainly be true, but I wonder how many actually went to the trouble of changing their registration or just mentally changed parties. We've seen in the South that it took a long time for people to change their registrations from Democratic to Republican although they changed their voting patterns much faster.

Yale professor Nicholas Christakis who, along with his wife, was mau-maued by undergraduates when his wife dared to say that perhaps people shouldn't be freaking out about Halloween costumes, comments on these results.


Such domination in academia, accompanied by liberal control of Hollywood and comedy, can lead to hubris among liberals. Gerard Alexander, a University of Virginia professor of politics, warns them against letting their power within the culture to give them a sense of infulnerability that leads them to ignore how their disdain for those who don't agree with them has created a backlash that played a not inconsiderable role in Trump's election.
In fact, liberals may be more effective at causing resentment than in getting people to come their way. ...

Consider some ways liberals have used their cultural prominence in recent years. They have rightly become more sensitive to racism and sexism in American society. News reports, academic commentary and movies now regularly relate accounts of racism in American history and condemn racial bigotry. These exercises in consciousness-raising and criticism have surely nudged some Americans to rethink their views, and to reflect more deeply on the status and experience of women and members of minority groups in this country.

But accusers can paint with very wide brushes. Racist is pretty much the most damning label that can be slapped on anyone in America today, which means it should be applied firmly and carefully. Yet some people have cavalierly leveled the charge against huge numbers of Americans — specifically, the more than 60 million people who voted for Mr. Trump.

In their ranks are people who sincerely consider themselves not bigoted, who might be open to reconsidering ways they have done things for years, but who are likely to be put off if they feel smeared before that conversation even takes place.

It doesn’t help that our cultural mores are changing rapidly, and we rarely stop to consider this. Some liberals have gotten far out ahead of their fellow Americans but are nonetheless quick to criticize those who haven’t caught up with them.

Within just a few years, many liberals went from starting to talk about microaggressions to suggesting that it is racist even to question whether microaggressions are that important. “Gender identity disorder” was considered a form of mental illness until recently, but today anyone hesitant about transgender women using the ladies’ room is labeled a bigot. Liberals denounce “cultural appropriation” without, in many cases, doing the work of persuading people that there is anything wrong with, say, a teenager not of Chinese descent wearing a Chinese-style dress to prom or eating at a burrito cart run by two non-Latino women.
Yup. People resent being labeled racist or sexist or bigoted for believing something that Barack Obama said publicly in 2008 whether he believed it or not. And preening with a sense of moral superiority is not the way to win people over.
Feeling increasingly emboldened, liberals were more convinced than ever that conservatives were their intellectual and even moral inferiors. Discourses and theories once confined to academia were transmitted into workaday liberal political thinking, and college campuses — which many take to be what a world run by liberals would look like — seemed increasingly intolerant of free inquiry.

It was during these years that the University of California included the phrase “America is the land of opportunity” on a list of discouraged microaggressions. Liberal politicians portrayed conservative positions on immigration reform as presumptively racist; Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader, once dubiously claimed that she had heard Republicans tell Irish visitors that “if it was you,” then immigration reform “would be easy.”

When Mr. Obama remarked, behind closed doors, during the presidential campaign in 2008, that Rust Belt voters “get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them,” it mattered not so much because he said it but because so many listeners figured that he was only saying what liberals were really thinking.
It's one thing to argue for people being treated fairly and equally, but it's another thing to paint people who don't agree with the most extreme position as deplorables or bigots. It's one thing to deride Donald Trump for the idiotic and sometimes bigoted things he says; but it's another to paint everyone who voted for him as bigots. Do the Democrats forget what an awful candidate they put up, one who made it difficult for many people to support? Instead of calling all Trump supporters ignorant bigots, they should be trying to win over those people who voted for Trump, not because they particularly liked him, but just because they couldn't stand Hillary Clinton.


Mona Charen has some insightful thoughts about liberal women who are so demoralized by the number of liberal men who have turned out to be sexual predators.
Today, feminists are grappling with the long roster of supposedly “enlightened” i.e. feminist men who’ve turned out to be serial abusers or worse. Samantha Bee mentioned “powerful weasels” Harvey Weinstein, Garrison Keillor, and Charlie Rose. The roster also includes Louis C.K., Al Franken, John Conyers, Matt Lauer, Mark Halperin, Leon Wieseltier, Bill Clinton, and many more.

Why are feminists more despairing about these revelations concerning liberal men than conservative women are about equally ugly stories concerning conservative men?

The answer, I’d suggest, is that liberals tend to believe that one’s politics and one’s morality are the same thing. If you hold the correct views about abortion, the minimum wage, women’s equality, gay marriage, and guns, it means not just that you agree with me, but that you are a good person. A man who champions the MeToo movement would never hurt a woman, right?

There is some mirror imaging on the right. Some conservative women are stunned to discover that men they thought were adherents of traditional morality turn out to be louts and even rapists.

A key conservative insight is that character is a matter of behavior, not professed beliefs. Judge people by their conduct, not their branding. How do you mold decent conduct? Conscientious parents who teach right from wrong and a culture that reinforces those lessons. The feminists helped to weaken some of the mores and institutions that tended to control male lust and abuse. At the time, they thought they were fighting an unjust “double standard,” but the sexual revolution damaged all standards, and we continue to sift through the fallout.
People need to learn just what she says that character doesn't equal ideology. Character is what people do in their lives and how they treat people. It's as the saying goes, what people do when no one is looking. There is no automatic guarantee that someone who agrees with you politically, whether on the right or the left, is also an honorable person in his or her private life. Maybe we can start admiring people for their true character rather than their political pronouncements.


John Hinderaker does a great job tearing apart an absurd Associated Press story about Israel and the Palestinians. Hinderaker points out the truth that opponents of Israel always seem to ignore.
If the Palestinians had actually wanted a state, they could have had one decades ago, when Israel offered them substantially everything they claimed to have been bargaining for. Now, that ship has sailed. The Palestinians have no one to blame but themselves and their leaders.
Then the AP just goes overboard in their sympathy for the Palestinians.
Abbas, a staunch opponent of violence, hasn’t offered an alternative to statehood through negotiations with Israel or found a world power willing to challenge Wash of ington.
Oh, please. How has Abbas been a "staunch opponent of violence"? Hinderaker links to this report on Abbas's calls for murder and attacks on Israelis. How ignorant are AP writers of what has gone on in the region? Hinderaker goes on,
Hamas is pledging to increase the already violent “demonstrations” going on in Gaza in protest against the opening of the U.S. embassy. That no doubt will happen, but it is hard to imagine anything more futile. The world has grown tired of the Palestinians’ determination to fail. The AP says:
Abbas, who for years had banked on the U.S. to persuade Israel to cede land for a Palestinian state, felt betrayed and halted contacts with the Trump administration.

But there is no reason for the U.S. to try to force Israel into making concessions in exchange for a “peace” that the Palestinians have no intention of maintaining. Happily, we now have a president who is willing to walk away from the failed “land for peace” strategy that has obsessed prior administrations.
Ladies and gentlemen, that is what biased reporting looks like.


The Florida Sun Sentinel has taken a detailed look
at the disciplinary history of Nicholas Cruz, the Parkland murderer, and reached some dismaying conclusions about the discipline policies in Broward County Schools.
The South Florida Sun Sentinel obtained Cruz’s discipline records, reviewed discipline policies and found:

-- Students can be considered first-time offenders even if they commit the same offenses year after year.

-- The district’s claim of reforming bad behavior is exaggerated.

-- Lenient discipline has an added PR benefit for the district: lower suspensions, expulsions and arrests along with rising graduation rates.

The forgiving attitude goes beyond the schools’ controversial Promise program, the target of considerable public scrutiny for enabling students to avoid criminal charges for misdemeanor offenses.

The program, the pride of Superintendent Robert Runcie, was designed to use counseling and mentoring to help students avoid the school-to-prison pipeline. Under former zero-tolerance policies, black students ended up suspended, expelled and arrested at rates that were widely disproportionate to their peers.

Desmond Blackburn, then Broward’s chief school performance and accountability officer, specifically instructed teachers and staff in a video years ago to challenge and nurture students, while using suspensions, expulsions and arrests as “absolute last resorts.”

Now, many teachers and parents say Broward has created a culture in which teachers are expressly told or subtly pressured not to send students to the administration for punishment so a school’s image is not tarnished.

Mary Fitzgerald taught for 37 years in the district before retiring from Sunrise Middle in Fort Lauderdale in 2016. She said she retired a year early due to her concerns about student discipline.

“It was so many things. I had three students bring knives to my classroom. One was out of the classroom for one day. Another had so many things on his record, he was gone for five days. None were expelled.”
Would you want to teach in such an environment?