Tuesday, May 5, 2015

NYFD, Radical Feminism & The Left's War On Standards

Some jobs have a physical component that requires certain standards of strength, stamina and resilience, period. Combat arms jobs are one, policing/security is another, and a third is firefighting. Yet the left, in a bow to radical feminists, wants to lower standards - or completely ignore them in some cases - to allow women into the same jobs. It is social engineering, applied radical feminism, a triumph of fantasy over reality, all in the name of toxic political correctness. It has gotten people killed in the past, and it will continue to get people killed in the future.

The latest example of this leftist insanity comes from New York, where, in an effort to allow more women into the fire department, New York's far left Mayor de Blasio has gutted the physical standards that are, in fact, directly related to the tasks firefighters are expected to perform on the job. This from Hot Air:

This promises to turn into a sticky wicket for the New York City Fire Department. One of their upcoming graduates is going to be accepted into the ranks and go to work as a firefighter despite having failed a grueling physical test multiple times. This comes as a result of recent changes to the city’s criteria for how graduates are scored. . . .

Under the new and improved criteria, a recruit can be considered to have passed if they do exceptionally good on the academic testing. The fact that firefighting is penultimately a physical activity and that this woman, Rebecca Wax, hasn't come close to meeting the minimum physical performance standards required of all firefighters is simply ignored in the push for hiring more women. It will of course matter tremendously when a fire starts and the firefighters need to act in concert to save lives and put out fires without getting themselves injured.

Let's be absolutely clear. This lowering of standards is not in service of the public or society; they / we are endangered by it. Moreover, it does a disservice to the women involved who will be expected to perform beyond their capabilities in an emergency situation. Likewise it does a disservice to the co-workers of such women who will be put in danger as they have to try and pick up her slack even as they perform their own duties. The only people who this benefits are those on the left who will now feel morally superior for advancing diversity and, equally, politicians like de Blasio who will be able to make a campaign ad out of this. I'm sure the ad won't mention the names of people who are injured or die because of this enlightened policy, but that is just my own prognostication.


EMP Threat & Inexcusable Inaction

EMP's are back in the news again as we learn that NORAD is looking to take its operations center under ground to protect against an EMP attack. The world is becoming a more dangerous place with the growth of nuclear proliferation. One very specific threat from this nuclear proliferation is the likelihood of an EMP attack. EMP's are one of those things our nation has ignored for decades, even as the threat has become more apparent.

EMP stands for electro-magnetic pulse, and a nuclear EMP attack is far more dangerous to us than any single nuclear weapon aimed at a city. Our nation could be effectively destroyed by a single EMP - a very sobering thought in an era of nuclear proliferation and with the penultimate rogue state, Iran, on the verge of acquiring a nuclear weapon compliments of Obama. Unless electrical systems and computer circuits are hardened to protect against an EMP discharge, they would be fried in the event of an EMP attack. A successful EMP attack on the U.S. would immediately throw us back to the stone age, with repairs to systems taking in excess of a year, assuming we would still have the economic wherewithal to make such repairs:

"What it could do, these various threats, is black out the U.S. electric grid for a protracted period of months or years," warned Peter Pry, executive director of the EMP Task Force, a bipartisan congressional commission. "Nine out of ten Americans could die from starvation, disease and societal collapse, if the blackout lasted a year."

Every nuclear weapon that explodes generates an electro-magnetic pulse that reaches out to line of site -- i.e., as far as one could see where they standing at the exact point in space where the detonation occurs. Since virtually all attacks on geographical points are accomplished with low altitude detonation, the EMP portion of a conventional nuclear attack is not of great concern.

That changes when a nuclear weapon is used to specifically to conduct an EMP attack. The nuclear weapon is fired high into the stratosphere to maximize line of site coverage. Theoretically, it would be possible for a single high altitude nuclear explosion near the midpoint of the U.S. to cover all of the lower 48 states. Thus, Iran, with but a single nuclear weapon on an ICBM, becomes a mortal threat to our nation in consideration of what would be the penultimate act of terrorism.

The mechanics of the three phases of a nuclear generated EMP are explained here. At any rate, the costs to harden our electrical grid and electronics against an EMP threat would be in the tens of billions of dollars. Why we still, despite knowing of this threat for decades, have done nothing to protect against it is inexplicable and scandalous.


Facebook and Monetizing News On The Internet

The internet has ripped apart the old economic model of dead tree newspapers supported by advertising. New economic models have been tried one after another on the net, but none that have yet proven profitable for the content producers. That's not all bad, as we watch the left wing rags like the New York Times circle the financial drain. But what arises in its place may well be a monolith - Facebook - that exercises significant control over the content we see. This from MediaPost:

At issue is the negotiations with BuzzFeed, National Geographic and The New York Times to host those publishers’ content on Facebook itself. That is: not to link to the source, but to have the content actually reside on Facebook. The originating media company produces the content, but Facebook distributes it and sells the ads against it.

Permit me to tell you my initial reaction when I read about this possibility in the Times one month ago, and I quote: “Holy fucking shit!”

Why such a reaction? Well, for starters, I am not just a student of media monetization, and a very interested party in media monetization livelihoodwise, I also teach media monetization at a famous-name Ivy League University. This semester, we’ve looked deeply at micropayments, affiliate marketing, data, crowdsourcing, subscriptions, native advertising, noblesse oblige -- in all, 11 revenue streams or business models underwriting everything from the best journalism to the emptiest of content calories.

Tragically, none of them alone -- nor all of them put together -- seem capable of sustaining more than a small fraction of the media we expect and deserve. You may have read about this somewhere. I call it the Chaos Scenario.

But then I saw the March 23 story and understood instantly: this could be the magic beans everybody has been seeking, the way to achieve vast scale at relatively high CPMs without running headlong into the law of supply and demand. With 1.8 billion users and the world’s biggest dataset, Facebook could deliver both vast audience and valuable narrow targeting beyond even the Times’ mighty reach.

Let's say Facebook treats partner content like iTunes treats songs; it takes 30% of ad sales and passes 70% along to the content owner. This arithmetic doesn't require much imagination: 70% of twice your ad revenue, with no increase in the marginal cost of the goods, is far better than 100% of your existing ad revenue. And 70% of, say, quintuple your ad revenue starts to look like the good old days. This gets us into William Randolph Hearst territory. This gets us into Caligula territory.

In other words: salvation. Woo hoo.

But this is the Good News/Bad News game, and we aren't finished. Now comes the bad news. And I hope I have room.

• Far more than now, the Times and all other Facebook partners would be incented to produce the most shareworthy content for Facebook. Goodbye, Sierra Leone and environmental coverage. Hello, Grumpy cat.

• Facebook would have to be trusted, once becoming the center of the Times distribution world, not to change the rules midstream. Such as, hypothetically, by tweaking the EdgeRank algorithm to influence which articles get into the newsfeeds of whom -- either to squeeze its partners for a bigger rev share or to deemphasize “problematic” content. Of course, they've never pulled such highhanded stunts -- except for, you know, constantly from the beginning.

• The very fragmentation that has destroyed the media economy has, 'til now, performed a great service. From the 1970s on, one of the great threats to the marketplace of ideas and to democracy itself was deemed to be media concentration. When Gannett, Disney, Time Warner, The Tribune Co. and News Corp. owned such a huge percentage of media properties -- scholars worried -- where would we get diversity of opinion, dissident voices, fresh sources, truly independent journalism? Well, the Internet obliterated those worries.

We have nothing if not a bustling marketplace of ideas. Unless. Unless the distribution of news and commentary is placed predominantly into the hands of Facebook and Google, in which case the worst nightmares of scholars Ben Bagdikian and Robert McChesney would seem like sex dreams.

Or, to revert to the earlier metaphor, imagine the magic beans taking root and producing a soaring beanstalk reaching to the heavens -- where an angry giant or two terrorize us into abject submission. Whereupon our illusory salvation quickly becomes our ruin.

That all sounds quite ominous indeed.


The Top 40 Kinks

One enterprising social scientist at The Guardian has done an exhaustive summary of porn searches, coming up with a list of the top 40 kinks / fetishes of we, the people. They are, in order:

1. Bondage
2. Female Domination
3. Foot Fetish
4. Tickling
5. Face Sitting
6. Smoking
7. Hand Jobs
8. Foot Worship
9. Blow Jobs
10. Trampling
11. Masturbation Instruction
12. Foot Jobs
13. Ball Busting
14. Pantyhose
15. Farting
16. Foot Domination
17. Amateur
18. 18 and 19 year olds
19. Balloons
20. MILF
21. Humiliation
22. Mixed Wrestling
23. Lesbian
24. Interracial
25. Masturbation
26. CBT
27. High Heels
28. Superheroines
29. Cat Fighting
30. Big Tits
31. BDSM
32. Spanking
33. Panty Fetish
34. Giantess
35. Pedal Pumping
36. Ass Worship
37. Anal
38. Female Wrestling
39. Strap-On
40. Female Training

The list is an interesting snap-shot of humanity in its own right. It also leads to several observations:

1. There are some really, really scary people in the world.

2. There are more than a few things above that you really wonder how they excite anybody. Smoking? Balloons? Farting? Oh my. I half expected to see Great Danes up there.

3. There are surprising number of things in the above list that I just have no clue to that which they refer. And after looking up one of them (CBT), I am not looking up any of the rest.

4. Some of the above don't even qualify as kinks. I mean, 18 and 19 years olds, MILF's, and bit tits? That stuff is the equivalent of a hamburger and fries at a fast food restaurant.

5. Superheroines? Oh my, nerd fantasies run wild. That said, now that I think of Elastigirl . . . ahem, never mind.

6. How in the world did cunnilingus not make the top 40? Did they not ask Hillary or most any heterosexual man?

7. Given the popularity of 50 Shades of Gray among women, I was not surprised to see bondage at the top of the list. That said, I have never run into a woman in the real world that seems to enjoy any of that. So I take it bondage may well be the purest form of fantasy.

8. I lead a very boring life. . . .

Okay, let's go to Bill for the judge's reaction to the list:

Apparently, he approves.


Monday, May 4, 2015

Carly Fiorina & Crony Capitalism

Elizabeth Warren is probably most recognizable for her schtick that the deck is stacked against the average American and that our economic model is becoming ever more unfair. On that, Ms. Warren, I and the latest applicant for the republican presidential nomination, Carly Fiorina, all agree.

There is no question that the ever mounting regulation and mandated costs are making it more difficult to open and operate businesses in this country, and that is the alpha and omega of economic opportunity for all Americans. According to Carly Fiorina, it is crony capitalism that is at the heart of this huge threat to our economy:

The former Hewlett Packard CEO also claimed to have the expertise needed to reform bureaucracies, an important point in light of her belief that “the government is one giant, unaccountable, corrupt bureaucracy.” She went even further than that at times, showing signs that she might run as a sort of conservative Elizabeth Warren, flashing some of the anti-corporate sentiment that has made the Massachusetts senator a darling of the Left. “Look, crony capitalism is alive and well.

Elizabeth Warren, of course, is wrong about what to do about it,” Fiorina said. “She claims that the way to solve crony capitalism is more complexity, more regulations, more legislation, worse tax codes, and of course the more complicated government gets and it’s really complicated now, the less the small and the powerless can deal with it.” Fiorina made that point while denouncing the net neutrality regulations recently approved by the Federal Communications Commission in a 3-2 vote.

“The dirty little secret of that regulation, which is the same dirty little secret of Obamacare or Dodd-Frank or all of these other huge complicated pieces of regulation or legislation, is that they don’t get written on their own,” she said. “They get written in part by lobbyists for big companies who want to understand that the rules are going to work for them. . . . Who was in the middle of arguing for net neutrality? Verizon, Comcast, Google, I mean, all these companies were playing. They weren’t saying ‘we don’t need this;’ they were saying ‘we need it.’”

Fiorina suggested that large companies, by backing such regulations, have emerged as an enemy of the small businesses run out of people’s houses and garages. “Google started out that way too, in a dorm room, but they seem to have forgotten that,” she said. They also comprise part of a “political class” that is “disconnected” from most Americans.

“The vast majority of people . . . believe there is a political class that is totally disconnected from their lives and that’s stacking the deck against them,” Fiorina said. It’s a diagnosis of American politics that is appropriate to her biography. “It’s interesting, people out there are not at all troubled that I haven’t held elected office; in fact, the people I run into consider it a great asset,” Fiorina said.


Saturday, May 2, 2015

Watcher's Council Forum: What's Your Reaction To The Baltimore Police Being Criminally Charged ?

The six Baltimore police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray. From left to right, top row: Officer Caesar R. Goodson, Jr.; Officer Garrett E. Miller; Officer Edward M. Nero. Left to right, bottom row: Officer William G. Porter; Lt. Brian W. Rice; and Sgt. Alicia D. White.

Each week, the Watcher's Council hosts a forum as well as a contest for best post among the Council members. This week's forum question, referring to the wrongful death of Freddie Gray, is "what's your reaction to the Baltimore police being criminally charged?" I have been kindly been invited to respond.

Update: The Forum is posted here. I urged you to click on the link and read the various responses.

Here are the facts. On 12 April, Freddie Gray was out in public in Baltimore City when he saw several police officers headed in his direction. He made eye contact with an officer and took off running. That gave the officers probable cause to stop him, though not to arrest. After a chase of over a mile, police caught up with Mr. Gray and tased him. He went to the ground. Mr. Gray had no outstanding criminal warrants nor any record of violence. Police searched him and found a pocket knife. They arrested him for possessing an illegal weapon, but we learn from reports today that the knife was of legal size and type under Maryland law and the arrest was wrongful.

The arrest was filmed from the time Mr. Gray was on the ground after having been handcuffed and searched. The arrest itself and the transportation to the van appear wholly unremarkable. Mr. Gray was calling out as if in some pain every few seconds and he dragged one leg. None of that is atypical during an arrest. There was no brutality involved in the portion of the arrest that was filmed. When the police get him to a police van, he stands on the bumper. That is the end of the film.

Three days prior to the arrest of Mr. Gray, a memo was sent through the Baltimore City Police Department mandating that suspects being placed into the police van be placed in a seat and secured with a seat belt. Mr. Gray was simply lain on the floor of the vehicle. Mr. Gray continued to complain and act agitated while in the van. At some point, and perhaps twice, he requested medical aid, which requests were ignored. Within 30 minutes, Mr. Gray was taken from the van by paramedics where he expired a week later as the result of an 80% severing of his spine at the neck. There were no other injuries to Mr. Gray. As Bookworm Room has pointed out, there is some basis to suspect that Mr. Gray's reported prior exposure to lead may have left him particularly vulnerable to the type of injury that caused his death.

At this point, we are being fed information piecemeal by the Baltimore City Police Department and the District Attorney's office. No statements have been released. The indictments have not been made public. The Medical Examiner's Report has not been made public. There have been witness statements of barbarous treatment of Mr. Gray during the arrest, but based on the video and the fact of what information has been released from the ME, they appear baseless. Nonetheless, Baltimore has seen race riots occur over the past several days. And, at last report, Rev. Al is on his way there for some good old fashioned race based demagoguing.

On 1 May, Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced that six Baltimore City Police officers have been arrested and charged in the death of Freddie Gray. Of the six officers, three are white, three are black, one is a woman. Two of the officers have been charged with crimes relating to wrongful arrest. Three others have additionally been charged with involuntary manslaughter. The driver of the police van has been charged with second degree murder.

So, on the facts above, what is my reaction to the police being criminally charged?

As a threshold matter, Freddie Gray deserves justice, period. That is beyond question. It will certainly mean civil damages for his death. Whether his death involved criminal wrongdoing such that others deserve punishment is a separate question. Equally, those involved in Freddie Gray's death are entitled to justice. They need to be prosecuted to the degree to which they are culpable, and spared any punishment if they are not.

There is not enough information yet to say for certain if the ends of justice are being served by the arrests of these six officers. My initial reaction, and I dearly hope that I am wrong, is that a lot of this is nothing more than a sacrifice to the racial grievance industry. This is not a planted evidence case, nor a case of brutality by the arresting officers. If they wrongly arrested, that would, in the normal course, be a matter for internal discipline as well as open the officers up to civil suit. But now a wrongful arrest on these facts is being used, in at least three cases, to end careers and criminally prosecute police officers? It appears that all three of them are the white officers, by the way. That seems utterly outrageous just on the facts available. Indeed, it seems a lynching, no less than that which happened to Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson.

Likewise, charging three officers with involuntary manslaughter, just on the known facts and the lack of established policy regarding transport, seems as if it is quite a stretch. It is far less of a stretch to the extent the charge of involuntary manslaughter is based on failing to timely render aid, if such aid was requested and may have in fact saved Mr. Gray's life. But it is not clear which evidence is being relied upon to support each charge against each individual.

Lastly, the driver of the police van, a black officer, has been charged with second degree murder. He, having sole custody of Mr. Gray from the time Mr. Gray was placed in the van until he was removed, injured, by paramedics, is likely at least guilty of involuntary manslaughter. That said, a charge of second degree murder, which requires some degree of intent or extreme recklessness, is likely an overcharge, just on the basis of the known facts.

So my reaction is mixed. At least one of the indictments - and perhaps as many as three - are or may well be warranted based on the available information. Several seem like nothing more than a lynching to satisfy the Al Sharpton wing of the left, who would dearly like to turn this into an indictment of racism and police brutality with which to, somehow, blame the right.

Baltimore City is a model of left wing urban governance and has been a social laboratory for nothing but left wing social policies for the past half century. The fact that Baltimore City, as well as its Police Department, are wholly owned subsidiaries of the left, and indeed, are led by minorities, is meaningless to the developing narrative. Already, Joan Walsh of Salon is tweeting that "there is no debate that tragically, black police officers often absorb the attitudes of their colleagues." Shades of white hispanics. The left will do anything to insure that whatever comes out of the Baltimore riots, it will not be a platform for rational discussion of the problems besetting Baltimore and inner city blacks. And if justice actually occurs in Baltimore -- justice for Freddie Gray as well as the six officers -- I am afraid it will be purely by accident.

Update: Alan Dershowitz shares my concerns that this is, in far too large a measure, a politically motivated prosecution:

Sheriff David Clarke from Milwaukee County, feels likewise:

. . . Clarke said of the charges, “it’s a miscarriage of justice. This neophyte prosecutor stood up there and made a political statement, Neil, and I say that because she’s chanting or voicing some of the chants from this angry mob. Her job is to tune that out. She said, I hear the voices. She’s not supposed to hear anything as she reviews this case that is not consistent with the rule of law and our system of justice. Look, I’m an experienced and a veteran homicide detective. I’ve had — I’ve participated in charging conferences. There is no way I have ever gotten a criminal charge within 24 hours after taking over all the reports and evidence to a prosecutor. A prosecutor who is thorough needs several days to sift through hundreds of pages of reports. They usually want to interview some of the witnesses themselves, in person, and they have to sift through all of the evidence, piece by piece, and they have to wait for some of the forensics evidence to conclude, to come back and that’s why I say on a minimum, three to four days. She just got this case yesterday. This is political activism. She’ll never prove this beyond a reasonable doubt, and I’m not going to silently stand by and watch my brother officers, offered up as human sacrifices, thrown like red meat to an angry mob, just to appease this angry mob.” And that “she rushed this thing through.”

After his interview was cut off to carry a Fraternal Order of Police press conference live, he continued, “she knows she’s not going to be able to prove these charges beyond a reasonable doubt. This is George Zimmerman and the Duke Lacrosse case all over again. A politically active district attorney or state’s attorney, you can tell the emotion in her voice, she almost did this with glee. And that’s why I believe, like they [the FOP] do…she needs to remove herself from the case. I hope the state’s attorney general gets involved in this, and sees the error of her ways. The smart thing for her to do is recuse herself and name a special prosecutor.”

He added that “there may be and probably are, some civil torts here, but what little I know, and I don’t know all the facts, but I’m listening to the emotion in their voice, and listening to those political statements that she made at the end of that news conference, that’s political activism, it’s wrong, it’s probably in violation of her code of ethics as a lawyer. And again, I’m going to take my time with this, but I’m not going to sit idly by, and I want to call out to every law enforcement officer in the country to pay attention to this. Because, I see a pattern, at least demands from an angry mob, that we be offered up as human sacrifices. We don’t do that in our system of justice in the United States just to please an angry mob. And I sense from what I heard her say, Neil, that that’s what is going on here.” . . .


Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Baltimore Riots, The Problems In The Black Inner Cities, & The Failure Of Progressive Ideals (Updated)

The following is Judge Andrew Napolitano, appearing on Fox News, opining that the investigation into the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, the ostensible justification for the recent riots there, has not been properly handled and that the riots might well have been avoided had the Baltimore City Police Department reacted with greater swiftness. That assumes of course that the investigation could have been concluded much quicker, and I do not know if that is accurate:

Regardless, Judge Napolitano is right about what should happen going forward. Freddie Gray is owed justice. There is also no question that Freddie Gray's wrongful death was the ostensible justification for the Baltimore riots. That said, the real issues plaguing a very substantial portion of the black community, particularly those in the inner cities, go far deeper than the issue of Freddie Gray's death or police misconduct.

Senator Harry Reid, the Democrat majority leader, though repeating the utter canards that racism is at the root of the problems experienced by inner city blacks, in fact came close to hitting the mark from the floor of the Senate Monday:

"[T]he underlying problem [giving rise to the Baltimore riot is] that millions of Americans feel powerless in the face of a system that is rigged against them.”

Reid stressed that “it’s easy to feel powerless when you see the rich getting richer while opportunities to build a better life for yourself and your family are nonexistent in your own community.”

“It’s easy to feel devalued when schools in your community are failing. It’s easy to believe the system is rigged against you when you spend years watching what President Obama called today ‘a slow-rolling crisis’ of troubling police interactions with people of color,” he continued. “No American should ever feel powerless. No American should ever feel like their life is not valued. But that is what our system says to many of our fellow citizens.”

“No American should be denied the opportunity to better their lives through their own hard work. But that is the reality that too many face. In a nation that prides itself on being a land of opportunity, millions of our fellow citizens live every day with little hope of building a better future no matter how hard they try. We cannot condone the violence we see in Baltimore. But we must not ignore the despair and hopelessness that gives rise to this kind of violence.”

The reality is that Democrats own the inner cities as well as this nation's response to the plight of our black citizens since the start of the Great Society and the welfare state. They try to maintain the canard that the only things holding back blacks in the inner city today are rampant (conservative) racism, white police racism, and but a bit more application of government spending. The reality is that racism is absent from all but the fringes of society today, that inner city black youths have exponentially far more to fear from other black youths than from white police, and that the Great Society welfare state has not just failed a substantial portion of the black community, but actually worsened their situation over the past half century.

Several writers have addressed this issue today. The Editorial Board of the WSJ points out the obvious, that the progressive blue-city model is a failure. As to Baltimore city in particular, the authors note:

The latest figures from Maryland’s Department of Labor show state unemployment at 5.4%, against 8.4% for Baltimore. A 2011 city report on the neighborhood of Freddie Gray—the African-American whose death in police custody sparked the riots—reported an area that is 96.9% black with unemployment at 21%. When it comes to providing hope and jobs, we should have learned by now that no government program can substitute for a healthy private economy.

Then there are the public schools. Residents will put up with a great deal if they know their children have a chance at upward mobility through education. But when the schools no longer perform, the parents who can afford to move to the suburbs do so—and those left behind are stuck with failure. There are many measures of failure in Baltimore schools, but consider that on state tests 72% of eighth graders scored below proficient in math, 45% in reading and 64% in science.

At National Review, Michael Tanner notes that Maryland maintains one of the highest tax rates in our nation, as well as a very generous welfare system, a highly unionized work force, and an environment largely hostile to private business. Baltimore city itself suffers from declining population, high crime, very high unemployment, high out-of-wedlock births, and poor schools. As he concludes:

Once order is restored in Baltimore, there will be time to take stock. We can expect to hear the usual chorus about neglected neighborhoods and the need for government jobs programs or additional social spending. Instead, we should take to heart President Obama’s admonition that “When what you’re doing doesn’t work for 50 years, it’s time to try something new.”

Big government has failed Baltimore. If we learn nothing from what just happened — if we simply go back to throwing money at the same tired old programs — it will be just a matter of time until this happens all over again."

In yet another article, Michelle Malkin makes the same point, that the left is out of ideas to address the problems in the black inner city communities beyond spending ever more money on exactly the same type of programs that have utterly failed to this point. But probably the most articulate on these issues today is Kevin Williamson writing at National Review:

St. Louis has not had a Republican mayor since the 1940s, . . . the city is overwhelmingly Democratic, effectively a single-party political monopoly from its schools to its police department. Baltimore has seen two Republicans sit in the mayor’s office since the 1920s — and none since the 1960s. Like St. Louis, it is effectively a single-party political monopoly from its schools to its police department. Philadelphia has not elected a Republican mayor since 1948. The last Republican to be elected mayor of Detroit was congratulated on his victory by President Eisenhower. Atlanta, a city so corrupt that its public schools are organized as a criminal conspiracy against its children, last had a Republican mayor in the 19th century. . . . Atlanta is effectively a single-party political monopoly from its schools to its police department.

Black urban communities face institutional failure across the board every day. American cities are by and large Democratic-party monopolies, monopolies generally dominated by the so-called progressive wing of the party. The results have been catastrophic, and not only in poor black cities such as Baltimore and Detroit. Money can paper over some of the defects of progressivism in rich, white cities such as Portland and San Francisco, but those are pretty awful places to be non-white and non-rich, too: Blacks make up barely 9 percent of the population in San Francisco, but they represent 40 percent of those arrested for murder, and they are arrested for drug offenses at ten times their share of the population. Criminals make their own choices, sure, but you want to take a look at the racial disparity in educational outcomes and tell me that those low-income nine-year-olds in Wisconsin just need to buck up and bootstrap it?

There are people who should be made to answer for that: What has Martin O’Malley to say for himself? What can Ed Rendell say for himself other than that he secured a great deal of investment for the richest square mile in Philadelphia? What has Nancy Pelosi done about the radical racial divide in San Francisco?

. . . [The rioting] we have seen in places such as Ferguson and Baltimore is much more ordinarily criminal than political. But there is a legitimate concern here — from which no one seems to be willing to draw the obvious conclusion: There is someone to blame for what’s wrong in Baltimore.

Would any sentient adult American be shocked to learn that Baltimore has a corrupt and feckless police department enabled by a corrupt and feckless city government? I myself would not, and the local authorities’ dishonesty and stonewalling in the death of Freddie Gray is reminiscent of what we have seen in other cities. There’s a heap of evidence that the Baltimore police department is pretty bad. This did not come out of nowhere. While the progressives have been running the show in Baltimore, police commissioner Ed Norris was sent to prison on corruption charges (2004), two detectives were sentenced to 454 years in prison for dealing drugs (2005), an officer was dismissed after being videotaped verbally abusing a 14-year-old and then failing to file a report on his use of force against the same teenager (2011), an officer was been fired for sexually abusing a minor (2014), and the city paid a quarter-million-dollar settlement to a man police illegally arrested for the non-crime of recording them at work with his mobile phone. There’s a good deal more. Does that sound like a disciplined police organization to you?

Yes, Baltimore seems to have some police problems. But let us be clear about whose fecklessness and dishonesty we are talking about here: No Republican, and certainly no conservative, has left so much as a thumbprint on the public institutions of Baltimore in a generation. Baltimore’s police department is, like Detroit’s economy and Atlanta’s schools, the product of the progressive wing of the Democratic party enabled in no small part by black identity politics. This is entirely a left-wing project, and a Democratic-party project. When will the Left be held to account for the brutality in Baltimore — brutality for which it bears a measure of responsibility on both sides? There aren’t any Republicans out there cheering on the looters, and there aren’t any Republicans exercising real political power over the police or other municipal institutions in Baltimore. Community-organizer — a wretched term — Adam Jackson declared that in Baltimore “the Democrats and the Republicans have both failed.” Really? Which Republicans? Ulysses S. Grant? Unless I’m reading the charts wrong, the Baltimore city council is 100 percent Democratic.

The other Democratic monopolies aren’t looking too hot, either. We’re sending Atlanta educators to prison for running a criminal conspiracy to hide the fact that they failed, and failed woefully, to educate the children of that city. Isolated incident? Nope: Atlanta has another cheating scandal across town at the police academy. Who is being poorly served by the fact that Atlanta’s school system has been converted into crime syndicate? Mostly poor, mostly black families. Who is likely to suffer from any incompetents advanced through the Atlanta police department by its corrupt academy? Mostly poor, mostly black people. Who suffers most from the incompetence of Baltimore’s Democratic mayor? Mostly poor, mostly black families — should they feel better that she’s black? Who suffers most from the incompetence and corruption of Baltimore’s police department? Mostly poor, mostly black families. And it’s the same people who will suffer the most from the vandalism and pillaging going on in Baltimore, too. The evidence suggests very strongly that the left-wing, Democratic claques that run a great many American cities — particularly the poor and black cities — are not capable of running a school system or a police department. They are incompetent, they are corrupt, and they are breathtakingly arrogant. Cleveland, Philadelphia, Detroit, Baltimore — this is what Democrats do.

And the kids in the street screaming about “inequality”? Somebody should tell them that the locale in these United States with the least economic inequality is Utah, i.e. the state farthest away from the reach of the people who run Baltimore.

Keep voting for the same thing, keep getting the same thing.

What happened to Freddie Gray demands justice. What has happened with a substantial portion of the black community over the past half century started as a tragedy, Today, in a nation as rich as ours, it has now reached the point of obscenity. It is every bit as equally deserving of justice.

Update: This from Powerline:

The Washington Post reports that a prisoner who was in the police van with Freddie Gray says he could hear Gray “banging against the walls” of the vehicle and believed he “was intentionally trying to injure himself.” According to the Post, the prisoner’s statement is contained in an affidavit that’s part of an application by the police for search warrant seeking the seizure of the uniform worn by one of the officers involved in Gray’s arrest or transport.

I can’t tell for sure from the Post’s report whether the prisoner executed the affidavit or whether the affidavit is from a police officer who relates what the prisoner allegedly told him. It looks like the Post is saying it’s the latter.

It seems counter-intuitive to suppose that Gray inflicted serious bodily injury on himself. However, without knowing Gray’s state of mind at the time — e.g., was he high on drugs; was he trying to set up a claim of police brutality — it’s impossible to evaluate the plausibility of the perception that this is what happened.

In any event, if Gray’s fellow prisoner does indeed say he heard Gray banging against the walls and that Gray seemed to be trying intentionally to injure himself, this will cast doubt on claims that police mistreatment caused Gray to sustain injuries while he was in the van. Such evidence will also make it difficult to attribute Gray’s death to the police.

The Post says that “video shot by several bystanders to Gray’s arrest shows two officers on top of Gray, their knees in his back, and then dragging his seemingly limp body to the van as he cried out.” Thus, some of his injuries may be due to what happened during the arrest, while others may be due to what happened in the van.

There is also the police commissioner’s statement that officers violated policy by failing properly to restrain Gray via a seat belt while he was in the van. However, the police union is pushing back on this assertion.

The union president says that the policy mandating seat belts wasn’t emailed to officers until three days before Gray was arrested. Moreover, it was emailed as part of a package of five policy changes.

Officers should, of course, read about all policy changes. But human nature being what is, the union president’s statement that officers tend not to do so is plausible. It would be one thing if the officers who dealt with Gray had violated a longstanding, widely known policy on seat belts. It’s another if, as seems to be the case, the policy was brand new and had only just been communicated by email as part of package of policy changes.

In any event, the Post’s report suggests that the facts surrounding Gray’s unfortunate death may not be as straightforward as those who have rushed to condemn the police assert them to be. The best approach remains what it has been all along — wait for the facts before forming a judgment.


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Frightening Economic News From Europe

For better or worse, the world economy is tied together. Thus what happens in Europe or China is indeed of importance here in this nation. And what is happening in the European economy is frightening indeed. This from The Telegraph:

Here’s an astonishing statistic; more than 30pc of all government debt in the eurozone – around €2 trillion of securities in total – is trading on a negative interest rate.

With the advent of European Central Bank quantitative easing, what began four months ago when 10-year Swiss yields turned negative for the first time has snowballed into a veritable avalanche of negative rates across European government bond markets. In the hunt for apparently “safe assets”, investors have thrown caution to the wind, and collectively determined to pay governments for the privilege of lending to them.

So Europeans are expecting such a bursting bubble in their economy that they are willing to invest money and lose several percent just for the guarantee that, at the end of the time period, the majority of the corpus will still be there. That is chilling, particularly when one realizes that the European Union members are, collectively, our largest trading partner. Not only does this mean trouble on the economic horizon generally, with the cost of borrowing so low, it also means that European stock markets will be seeing a bubble forming, making any potential downturn even worse. The great European experiment in socialism may well be coming to a cataclysmic end, though you can bet your bottom dollar, literally, that the US under Obama will race to shore them up for awhile. It is not a good idea, but we may be looking at a real depression otherwise. China's economy, the other big world driver, is likewise built on smoke and mirrors. Honest to God, this is 2005 all over again, only this time there isn't enough money in the world to prop up Europe, let alone Europe and China, if they both go belly up at the same time.


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Death of Freddie Gray & Baltimore's Race Riot (Updated)

The headline article in the Daily Mail says: Huge blazes rip through Baltimore as Freddie Gray rioters torch buildings including a nursing home, loot stores and attack police, injuring fifteen officers, as violence rages into the night. Baltimore is indeed convulsing in race riots over the death of 25 year old black male, Freddie Gray. This is reminiscent of Detroit, 1967.

A week ago, Freddie Gray died in Baltimore City Police custody. Here is what we know. Approximately two weeks ago, Baltimore City Police officers showed up near where Mr. Gray was standing in public. Mr. Gray took off running. That gave police probable cause to stop him. Mr. Gray had no outstanding warrants. When police finally caught him, they did a search and found a small knife not unlike what millions of Americans carry around on their person every day, myself included. I am still not clear if it was a valid arrest even under insane Maryland law, but I think it was. Maryland is California writ small in terms of it being a leftist cesspool these days.

Mr. Gray was in good health when he was arrested and placed in the patrol car. Something happened during transport, precisely what is not clear, nor is it clear how long it took the police to get Mr. Gray medical attention. Mr. Gray died a week later of a severed spine sustained within an hour, if not minutes, of his arrest. This could be anything from simple negligence to murder.

The police seem to be doing the right thing in their investigation of the incident, and everything is being carried out in public. There has been no delay in the investigation, nor it would seem any attempt at a cover-up. And yet, Baltimore has exploded in black riots undertaken for no other reason than an opportunity to riot, apparently. The Mayor of Baltimore, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, has been worse than useless. She did not officially ask the Governor for help at the outset of the rioting, and indeed, went so far as to instruct Baltimore City Police to give space to the rioters that "wished to destroy."

The Mayor has gotten more than she bargained for. Thugs have turned Baltimore into a nightmare, with the more feral elements of the black community threatening anyone who isn't black. There is at least one report of a serious racial attack in Baltimore, and already fifteen police have been injured in the riots. Black street gangs have made common cause to stop attacking each other and concentrate on attacking the police. The Governor has declared a state of emergency and called in the National Guard.

(H/T Instapundit)

Obama and the left have spent the last six years stoking racial tensions at every opportunity. In the absence of actual racism, they must still convince blacks in our country that we America is nothing more than Selma 1954 writ large. In the nightmarish fantasy world of the left, any effort to insure the integrity of the vote is somehow racism. Applying the same standards to all Americans in whatever context is somehow racist. George Zimmerman was a racist and Trayvon Martin was an innocent youth murdered in cold blood. In Ferguson, Missouri, an evil racist cop shot an unarmed gentle giant, Michael Brown, just as he had raised his hands in surrender.

Before 1968, when the leadership of the civil rights movement was in the hands of a Republican, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the clarion call of the movement was for a colorblind society with equality of opportunity. After the left took over the civil rights movement, they morphed the movement into one where blacks were to become a permanent victim class, a color-centric group forever entitled to special treatment and equality of outcome. Dr. King's niece, Dr. Alveda King, said in an interview yesterday that if her uncle could see the riots in Baltimore, "he would be hearbroken."

I have no doubt that she is right. The people of Baltimore and this nation have every right to be angry about what happened to Freddie Gray and to demand justice on his behalf. That is not what these riots are about. The rioters are people, many in systemic poverty, who have been fed for the past fifty years on a steady diet that they are victims, that their number one problem is white racism, and that they are entitled both to special treatment and to act out. The issues facing the lower socioeconomic strata of the black community - endemic poverty, single parent homes, horrid educational opportunities, violence and criminality - are real and pervasive, but white racism is not among them. And until the actual issues are addressed honestly, they will never even begin to be solved.

And in all fairness to the good people of Baltimore, black and white, the majority are not involved in this riot. It is a clique of thugs and young people, some of whom clearly have parents outraged at the actions of their children. Update: Indeed, indications are that at the heart of this violent rioting are elements of the groups involved in instigating the violence in Ferguson. That would not surprise me in the least. And it is to the honor of the family of Freddie Gray that they have spoken out clearly condemning the violence and rioting that occurred in the wake of Mr. Gray's funeral, and believe it to be motivated by concerns other than the death of Mr. Gray.

From Hot Air, here is a video of one Baltimore Mom delivering an epic whooping to a son she saw rioting in what Hot Air is calling the "slap heard round the world."


That child doesn't realize it at the moment, but he has a damn good mom.

There is also another video out of a retired Army MSG facing down the rioters in Baltimore. There is no organization as fully and successfully integrated as the U.S. military. It is what our nation should be aspiring to, not the balkanization of the left.

At any rate, the problems giving rise to these riots are not something the left wants to cure. The race hustlers have already started to portray what is happening in Baltimore as an eruption of anger at racist police, just as they did in Ferguson - that even though Baltimore's Mayor, the majority of its city government, and indeed, the majority of its police force are black. It has already started with Representative Elijah Cummings, from Maryland, who recently stated:

"This whole police community relations situation . . . is the civil rights cause for this generation, no doubt about it," . . .

Cummings noted that the Maryland delegation in Congress had asked for the Department of Justice to conduct a civil rights investigation into the death of Gray.

"We've got to take this department apart and try to figure out what is wrong and what is right," he said, referring to local police.

Just sickening. So, there will be another investigation by the DOJ. Prepare for a repeat of the Ferguson scenario. No racism will be found in the arrest of Freddie Gray, though I am sure they will find negligence in his treatment, or it could even rise to the level of murder. Then there will be a disparate impact statistical analysis of incidents in Baltimore and, lo and behold, it will show a higher incidence of arrest among blacks in proportion to their representation in the city. Wait for yet another DOJ lawsuit against the city and more NAACP mailers to raise money off of racism rampant in society, as alleged in the DOJ report. And of course, the next race riot will be in the offing, blacks will continue to vote 90% for Democrats, and their plight, worse now then in 1964 when this embrace of the Democrat Party began, will not improve in the slightest.

Update: From the left wing side of the media, here are ten tweets that really need to be seen to be believed. The least offensive is from Jamil Smith stating that the rioters are merely children attempting to communicate. The most offensive are from Vox, Salon and Te-Nehisi Coates apparently in full support of the violence. On CNN, Anchorwoman Brooke Baldwin has placed the cause of these riots at not merely the feet of the Baltimore City Police, but more particularly, military veterans hired into the police force who she thinks are all too ready to do violence.

This from former U.S. Rep. and former U.S. Army LTC Allen West:

[W]hat is playing out before our eyes is the depraved spectacle of anarchy, violence, wanton criminality and an utter lack of leadership. To have the mayor of Baltimore issue a statement allowing these thugs “space to destroy” is unconscionable. Is the rioting over Gray’s death or just an excuse for the most disgusting aspect of human nature? . . .

But the fact that police officers are being injured and that three black gangs have pledged allegiance in order to attack police is beyond disconcerting. What is there to gain by destroying one’s own neighborhood? Is this the new mantra of “no justice, no peace?”

Perhaps this would be somewhat understandable if it weren’t for the recent episode in North Charleston, South Carolina where a police officer fired several shots into the back of Walter L. Scott, killing him. There were no violent riots and the officer was arrested and charged. The Scott family even went so far as to demand that Al Sharpton not come to Charleston.

But in Baltimore they’ve had to cancel a baseball game and there are warnings for people to stay away from the city. The governor has finally declared a state of emergency to activate the National Guard. But where is the mayor of Baltimore? Where is the leadership for the city? Imagine the horns of a dilemma upon which the Baltimore police find themselves. The mayor basically gave carte blanche to the criminal thugs to take the streets and the police seemingly are only employed to try and contain the “destruction.”

As of now, 15 police officers have been injured. As the NY Post reported, “Baltimore police officers were injured on Monday as rioters threw bricks, broke windows, looted businesses and burned patrol cars in violent protests following the funeral of a black man who died after he was injured in police custody. The riots broke out just a few blocks from the site of the funeral of 25-year-old Freddie Gray in northwest Baltimore and then spread through other parts of the city in the most violent demonstrations since looting in Ferguson, Missouri, last year.

Television images showed mobs of rioters jumping on top of a police car, destroying a taxi and setting two other patrol cars on fire after teenaged crowds ignored calls to disperse and clashed with lines of hundreds of police. Gangs had threatened to target police officers, local law enforcement said. Schools, businesses and train stations closed in Baltimore, a city of 662,000 people 40 miles (64 km) from the nation’s capital.”

So we are watching the result of a social media post calling for a “purge” for Monday at 3pm. But this is not just about the death of Freddie Gray, this is about something far more tragic: the breakdown of the inner city and the black community.

Where are the parents of these kids? Where are the adults and community pastors? Why are these kids responding to this call for violence instead of heading home and preparing for end of year final exams? Does anyone believe these looted businesses will be restored — therefore black unemployment in Baltimore will be even worse. Perhaps if there were a thriving job market and better opportunities, these black teens would be working in these stores, not looting them.

When I was watching the TV reports, Baltimore looked more like East Jerusalem than an American city with a proud patriotic heritage — Ft. McHenry the birthplace of our national anthem. And this is a city just some 40 miles away from our nation’s capitol — where is the leadership that demands this behavior is unacceptable?

The Baltimore police are showing incredible restraint because we all know the liberal progressive media is just waiting for some unarmed — although I consider tossing a brick a projectile — black kid to get shot.

My greatest fear is that there will come a day when police basically leave the urban communities to their own devices — in other words, abandon them and let them be overrun by gangs and other perpetrators of deplorable behavior. After all, the anarchist sentiment is to not abide by the rule of law — but rather to take matters into the hands of the mob and establish the rule of mobocracy. And if there are no elected officials willing to support the police — realizing that there are bad apples in any batch — then what is the motivation for police officers to patrol those disrespectful and unwelcoming streets?

Freddie Gray tragically lost his life, we know little about how or why. What we do know is that the black community of Baltimore is not comporting itself in a manner that will garner sympathy — but rather contempt.

The joys of living in the post-racial world of the left. It is obscene, not just that a segment of the black community should be acting out like this, but that the issues actually facing their community go unaddressed.

Update: At Powerline, Paul Mirengoff makes the point that these riots are not about racism or the Baltimore City Police:

The Post’s reporting suggests that, at root, the protests aren’t about the police department (which, as noted, is not a White institution and almost certainly not a racist one). One of the protest leaders said:

Officials are not interested in bettering our neighborhoods. People are tired of their quality of life, and they’re frustrated nobody helps them. They want to be heard, and they will do what it takes.

In other words, a population grown dependent on public officials is lashing out because said officials aren’t helping them attain the quality of life they desire.

I agree that the hard-working people of Baltimore have been let down by public officials. For one thing, liberal public policy has encouraged dependence on “officials.” For another, liberal housing policy helped produce the economic crisis that hit Baltimore so hard. In addition, liberal education policy has undermined educational opportunity. And now, liberal immigration policy seems determined to bring in foreign laborers to compete for jobs with hard-working, low-income Americans.

I find it depressing to see Baltimore in such a sorry state while Washington, D.C., fueled by the federal government, flourishes by comparison.

Obama spoke up on just that topic today, claiming that if Republicans would just pass an infrastructure bill, that would solve the problems actually at the root of the rioting. The left is completely out of ideas at this point. The solutions tried since the Great Society have not simply failed, but have made matters worse, and the only option remaining for the left is to pretend that the problems plaguing inner city blacks are all external. One wonders how much longer that canard will work?


Sunday, April 26, 2015

Watcher's Council Forum: If The Clintons Committed A Felony, What Should Be Done?

Each week, the Watcher's Council hosts a forum as well as a weekly contest among it's members for best post of the week. This week's forum question is: If the Clintons committed a felony, what should be done? I have been kindly invited to respond.

Update: The Forum is now posted. I would urge you to click the link and read all of the responses to this week's question.

The Clintons are a sordid pair around whom the stench of scandal always hangs. Those of recent vintage are the multiple issues arising from Hillary's e-mail during her time as Secretary of State and her subsequent erasure of tens of thousands of those e-mails. Another brewing scandal lies with the Clinton Foundation, a cash machine for the Clintons that does not seem to be acting as a charity and indeed, may well be at the center of undue influence on government decisions while Hillary was Secretary of State.

There is a real question whether Hillary violated criminal laws concerning the handling of official e-mails and the transmission of classified information over non-government means of communication. There are also related questions of whether the State Dept. or Hillary herself committed perjury in their responses to legal requests for information that would have required production of Hillary's personal e-mails. Indeed, the threats she created to our national security by using a private e-mail address not reasonably secured far exceed those created by General Petraeus, who was recently prosecuted for divulging classified material. This is also an issue that ties directly into Benghazi. Because of the whitewash investigation of that incident, one that did not include either Hillary or top levels of the State Department, and because we have not had access to her e-mails, we still do not know what role Hillary played during and in the months leading up to the criminally reckless event that cost the lives of our Libyan Ambassador and several others. Hillary's refusal to hand over her e-mail server for expert analysis and her attempt to address these issues with a stage managed presser before foreign correspondents have all been just jaw dropping in their shamelessness.

Yet other issues surround the Clinton Foundation, Bill and Hill's personal money machine since Bill left office. It is a charitable foundation that has taken in well over half a billion dollars, yet fed out only 15% for actual charitable work, if it can be called that. It appears that much of the Foundation money that has been doled out has directly benefited rich friends of the Clintons, and it appears that numerous foreign sources have given money to the Clintons, and then soon after found themselves the beneficiaries of favorable U.S. government actions. The most notorious of these that we know about so far is the approval of a Russian's purchase of 20% of our nation's uranium mines, an approval signed off on by Hillary in the State Dept. after several large donations to the Clinton Foundation. Then there is the fact that the Foundation has, for years, failed to disclose it's foreign donors, either in its tax returns or as part of legally required disclosures regarding potential conflicts of interest during Hillary Clinton's time as Secretary of State.

I doubt that there is any direct quid pro quo so in any of this so clear as to sustain a criminal conviction. But it stinks like a three day old manure pile in the hot sun. We will know far more about that in a few days, when Peter Schweizer's new book Clinton Cash is published.

So what should be done? In a society where rule of law dominates, Hillary would be face down on a table right now along with her sever, both getting a colonoscopy from FBI agents as part of an investigation similar to that of General Petraeus. The MSM seems unsure of what to do at this moment regarding Hillary, but what they aren't doing is pressing her at any point on the e-mail issue. As to the Clinton Foundation, the MSM appears to be holding its breath, waiting for Schweizer's book release, apparently afraid that even they won't be able to stem the tide.

If Hillary and the MSM have an option, they will see her skate right through until her coronation. We will never have answers about the Clinton Foundation or the many issues surrounding Hillary's e-mail. What we should have is a press treating the Clintons like Nixon and a DOJ that has already opened up investigations. Unfortunately we have neither at the moment, and there will be no investigations until 2017, if ever. Rule of law does not seem to matter to the left in this country, and so long as they hold the levers of power, it will atrophy in this nation.