Saturday, May 30, 2015

The "Ferguson Effect" is really the "Obama Effect"

One of my biggest problems with Liberals and Progressives is that they have very little understanding of what makes society work. Whether it's market economics or crime, Liberals and Progressives take the hard-won gains of Western culture for granted. They assume that a low-crime, prosperous society is the default state for humanity, and that it will continue to exist no matter what they do.

We see a prime example of this in the Ferguson Effect: the withdrawal of police presence in major US cities in response to being demonized by black activists and Liberal Democrats.
The nation’s two-decades-long crime decline may be over. Gun violence in particular is spiraling upward in cities across America. In Baltimore ... [g]un violence is up more than 60% compared with this time last year. ... In Milwaukee, homicides were up 180% by May 17 over the same period the previous year. Through April, shootings in St. Louis were up 39%, robberies 43%, and homicides 25%. Murders in Atlanta were up 32% as of mid-May. Shootings in Chicago had increased 24% and homicides 17%. Shootings and other violent felonies in Los Angeles had spiked by 25%; in New York, murder was up nearly 13%, and gun violence 7%.
Liberals have, for decades, lionized urban criminals. Since at least the days of the Black Panthers, there has been a persistent sense among a significant percentage of Liberals that violence is somehow one of the most authentic form of self-expression for racial or ethnic minorities. Thus, Liberals had surprising tolerance for criminal violence in cities from the 1960s through the 1980s. Oh, they would agree that such violence wasn't good, but they didn't think it was that bad. Certainly not bad enough to use significant force to stop it.

Millions of people died in urban crime waves over those decades, with tens of millions more living in fear in the cities. But not only did Liberals and the Democrats never do much to really fix the situation, they viciously attacked the efforts of people who did. Eventually, Americans got fed up, and began voting out politicians who refused to take these crime waves seriously and empower law enforcement to address it.

The Democrats who got elected during this time promoted "tough on crime" policies, because they had to. They had no choice. They knew voters had run out of patience for politicians who emphasized understanding or empathizing with criminals rather than making sure crimes were punished.

And -- surprise, surprise -- crime rates collapsed. America went through over 20 years of low crime that created an urban renaissance. Throughout the country, big cities became livable again.

Well, Liberals being Liberals, they viewed that 20-year decline as the inevitable reversion to the mean rather than as a hard-won, and precarious, victory. Since 2005 or so, the hardcore Progressives in the Democratic Party have been disparaging the law enforcement victories across the country under Bill Clinton and in cities like New York under Rudy Giuliani. They've also been agitating against law enforcement tactics like "stop & frisk" that have demonstrably lowered violent crime and property crime in cities like New York.

In 2008, they finally elected one of their own into the White House. Since his inauguration, Obama has been working to undercut law enforcement's efforts to prevent and punish violent crime (even as he's turned a blind eye to their use of massive NSA-style surveillance, an irony that has massively increased cynicism about the police).

Over the past few years, we've seen a meme of police oppression of non-whites take hold in the mainstream consciousness. This meme was established often using ambiguous reporting of murky events (Trayvon Martin's death) or false reporting of events (the dishonest "Hands up, Don't shoot" movement in response to Michael Brown being killed for attacking an officer).

These false and ambiguous reports have been promoted by the Progressives' man in the White House, Barack Obama. The result has been the demoralization of urban police forces throughout America, and the subsequent explosion of violent crime, as criminals know that cops are confused and reluctant to use force, for fear of being the next Darren Wilson.

This is Obama's new legacy: fear, violence, and crime. The Ferguson Effect is really the Obama Effect.

Friday, May 29, 2015

The Media and the Big Ideological Sort

Ben Domenech's opening thoughts in today's Transom (which you should subscribe to if you haven't already):

Over the past thirty years, we’ve witnessed the ideological sorting of the two parties. The conservative Democrats and liberal Republicans have slowly but surely been dispatched from both parties, leaving a much clearer divide between left-moderate and right-moderate groups. The cultural elite, academia, and the media have at the same time become more free to blast away unrelentingly at the right, bereft as it is of any reasonable voices and consisting of a population with which they have fewer and fewer things in common – not church, not NASCAR, and definitely not reality TV. It’s a lot easier to consider people to be nuts when you have no shared priorities, language, or activities.

The result has been a society in which the cultural elite, the academy, and the media are all pretty much on the same team – not just in an ideological sense, but in a partisan one. And it’s this latter fact which leads to all sorts of problems for the right, as conservatives become more resentful and frustrated at the prospect of never getting a fair shake. This is not news – the George Stephanopoulos thing is just the latest example. What is more interesting and less noticeable to this point is the problems this clear demarcation of “teams” creates for the left – a major change in the partisan moral hazard for Democrats.

This is what’s so amazing about the Clinton Foundation’s activity and the coverage of it, as well as the coverage of a host of Democratic scandals of small and large order over the past few years. Could a conservative academic identify as an American Indian and still become a party leader? Could a prominent conservative journalist donate tens of thousands of dollars to a politician’s foundation and fail to disclose that while strongly and repeatedly defending them onair? Could a conservative Secretary of State have a spouse and Foundation taking money while at the same time greeting the same people as they lobbied her office and not be politically toast?

The point is not that a conservative scholar, journalist, or statesman is above such things. Of course many are not! But the point is that the consequences for them would be very different than the consequences for those politicians and figures who are on the correct team. What becomes a career-ender for those on the right is merely an embarrassing month for the left. And this is an indication that the risks for those on the left are now dramatically different than they are those on the right. They know the media will not hold them to account the same way as they do those on the wrong team.

This is all you need to understand about Hillary Clinton’s treatment of the media, Barack Obama’s total flip-flop on transparency, or Harry Reid’s “Romney paid no taxes” lie. They do these things and get away with them because they know they can. The media won’t bury the story completely of course – one still has to write about stained dresses, after all, as the people demand – but the more intricate and less salacious the scandal, the more likely you can get away with it as a politician on the left. (There are expections: David Vitter is still around, and Mark Sanford too, but Aaron Schock isn’t.)

The point is that leading liberals just don’t have to price in the same risk-cost analysis for their actions. This moral hazard problem creates more distrust of the media, and allows bad actors to go further in their behavior, undermining the very aspect of a free press that we need in a time of mistrust for so many American institutions. The media has it in its power to check the temptations to corruption among elected officials, but increasingly they are only checking those temptations among one party. That’s not going to prove a victimless editorial choice in the long run. And 2016 may present us with the most obvious case of this problem yet.

It likely will.

It seems to me that The Big Sort has produced a dynamic in America at large that's very much like that created by corrupt police departments in major cities like Baltimore, with similar results:

  • Almost half the community feels disenfranchised and marginalized.
  • Members of the favored group are rarely held accountable for their actions the same way members of the disenfranchised group are.
  • The dynamic breeds resentment and cynicism among the disenfranchised, arrogance and entitlement among those in the favored group, and fear of the other side in both groups.

This is about the last thing we need in America today, but it's what we have.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Clinton Foundation: the gift that keeps on giving

Nemesis & Hubris
I don't know if it's possible to imagine a more fitting nemesis for the hubris of Democrats and MSM-types (but I repeat myself) who criticized Romney for his outrageous wealth in 2012 than Hillary Clinton as the de facto Democratic presidential nominee in 2015.

Bill and Hillary Clinton enjoy outrageous wealth, and have no problem flaunting it. They've shielded a lot of that wealth from taxes using shell companies, and by using their foundation as a piggy bank. The Left was clear in 2012 that doing this was eeeeevil. But that was when a Republican was the culprit. In 2015, now that the presumptive Democratic nominee is the guilty party? Eh, it's apparently not a big deal.

Now we learn from the IB Times that the State Department under Hillary Clinton approved massive arm sales to governments after they donated to the Clinton Foundation.
Under Clinton’s leadership, the State Department approved $165 billion worth of commercial arms sales to 20 nations whose governments have given money to the Clinton Foundation, according to an IBTimes analysis of State Department and foundation data. That figure -- derived from the three full fiscal years of Clinton’s term as Secretary of State (from October 2010 to September 2012) -- represented nearly double the value of American arms sales made to the those countries and approved by the State Department during the same period of President George W. Bush’s second term.

The Clinton-led State Department also authorized $151 billion of separate Pentagon-brokered deals for 16 of the countries that donated to the Clinton Foundation, resulting in a 143 percent increase in completed sales to those nations over the same time frame during the Bush administration. These extra sales were part of a broad increase in American military exports that accompanied Obama’s arrival in the White House. ...

In all, governments and corporations involved in the arms deals approved by Clinton’s State Department have delivered between $54 million and $141 million to the Clinton Foundation as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments to the Clinton family, according to foundation and State Department records. The Clinton Foundation publishes only a rough range of individual contributors’ donations, making a more precise accounting impossible.
But wait! There's more! Private defense contractor companies got in on the free-for-all, too.
American defense contractors also donated to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state and in some cases made personal payments to Bill Clinton for speaking engagements. Such firms and their subsidiaries were listed as contractors in $163 billion worth of Pentagon-negotiated deals that were authorized by the Clinton State Department between 2009 and 2012.
And this in spite of the State Department's criticism of some recipient nations' human rights abuses.
The State Department formally approved these arms sales even as many of the deals enhanced the military power of countries ruled by authoritarian regimes whose human rights abuses had been criticized by the department. Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar all donated to the Clinton Foundation and also gained State Department clearance to buy caches of American-made weapons even as the department singled them out for a range of alleged ills, from corruption to restrictions on civil liberties to violent crackdowns against political opponents.

As secretary of state, Hillary Clinton also accused some of these countries of failing to marshal a serious and sustained campaign to confront terrorism. In a December 2009 State Department cable published by Wikileaks, Clinton complained of “an ongoing challenge to persuade Saudi officials to treat terrorist financing emanating from Saudi Arabia as a strategic priority.” She declared that “Qatar’s overall level of CT cooperation with the U.S. is considered the worst in the region.” She said the Kuwaiti government was “less inclined to take action against Kuwait-based financiers and facilitators plotting attacks.” She noted that “UAE-based donors have provided financial support to a variety of terrorist groups.”
The IB Times article ends this section with, All of these countries donated to the Clinton Foundation and received increased weapons export authorizations from the Clinton-run State Department.

I think the only reasonable response to that kind of brazenness is, Holy shit.

What will prove to be perhaps even more brazen, however, are the myriad ways the Democrats and the mainstream media will find to downplay, explain away, or flat-out ignore these quid pro quos.
  • We can see it in the media's choice of title for articles reporting on this. The Associated Press, reporting on the Clintons' use of shell companies to avoid income taxes, title their report, Bill Clinton company shows complexity of family finances. The complexity of their finances? In 2012, Romney's use of similar legal tax shelters was proof that he was a tax cheat. The Clintons' use of it is merely proof that their family finances are complex.
  • You can also see it in the media's assessment of the IB Times article. Slate, for example, insists that the article doesn't provide "smoking gun" (not the greatest metaphor to use when discussing weapons sales), though (in a phrase worthy of Understatement of the Year) it does concede that this is more proof that Hillary Clinton, "has often been willing to tolerate high-stakes conflicts of interest."
If a Republican candidate -- let alone the GOP's presumptive nominee -- had done any of this, the coverage would be wall-to-wall, non-stop, and unambiguously critical. The media understands that its power lies in establishing a narrative. As Andrew Breitbart said, "What's important is not what's reported but what's repeated." The media generally hammers home statements by or news about Republicans' or Conservatives' that are unfavorable, thus creating a narrative. They generally tend to merely report similar statements by or news about Democrats and Liberals as one-off stories, thus making it hard for people to connect the dots.

The media are doing their damnedest to avoid establishing a narrative of a corrupt, entitled politician who thinks she's above the law and can't be trusted with power, but the never-ending revelations about her and Bill's corrupt, entitled, we're-above-the-law behavior is making it difficult for them to avoid doing it.

**UPDATE 5/30/15**

And the hits just keep on coming.
To commemorate the 10th anniversary of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, Petra Nemcova, a Czech model who survived the disaster by clinging to a palm tree, decided to pull out all the stops for the annual fund-raiser of her school-building charity, the Happy Hearts Fund. ...

The gala cost $363,413. But the real splurge? Bill Clinton.

The former president of the United States agreed to accept a lifetime achievement award at the June 2014 event after Ms. Nemcova offered a $500,000 contribution to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation. The donation, made late last year after the foundation sent the charity an invoice, amounted to almost a quarter of the evening’s net proceeds — enough to build 10 preschools in Indonesia. ...

Happy Hearts’ former executive director believes the transaction was a quid pro quo, which rerouted donations intended for a small charity with the concrete mission of rebuilding schools after natural disasters to a large foundation with a broader agenda and a budget 100 times bigger.

“The Clinton Foundation had rejected the Happy Hearts Fund invitation more than once, until there was a thinly veiled solicitation and then the offer of an honorarium,” said the former executive director ...

“This is primarily a small but telling example of the way the Clintons operate,” said Doug White, who directs the master’s program in fund-raising management at Columbia University. “The model has responsibility; she paid a high price for a feel-good moment with Bill Clinton. But he was riding the back of this small charity for what? A half-million bucks? I find it — what would be the word? — distasteful.”
Wonderful. Read the whole account of this stereotypically Clintonian story, which is running in the New York Times of all places.

No, the Clintons aren't making ignoring their corruption very easy at all.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Mask Slips

It turns out that much of the Ferguson riots last summer were effectively staged, the work of paid activists.
Yesterday, Katie Pavlich, Debra Heine, and Ed Driscoll drew our attention to a demonstration, unmentioned in the mainstream media, that took place in St. Louis and eventuated in the occupation of the offices of an outfit called MORE – Missourians for Organizing Reform and Empowerment. MORE is an offshoot of ACORN, and it is funded in part by George Soros’ omnipresent Open Society Institute (which has spent something like $5 billion supporting such outfits in recent years).

What makes this particular demonstration newsworthy is the fact that the demonstrators were demanding that they be paid, as promised, for the work they did in organizing demonstrations in Ferguson last summer. ...

Do you remember Occupy Wall Street? The demonstrations that the community-relations division of the Department of Justice helped organize against George Zimmerman in Florida? The riots in Ferguson, Missouri? The disruptive demonstrations in the Supreme Court building regarding Citizens United as the court began its last session? Those that recently interrupted Senate hearings? The demonstrations in New York and Boston that took place in the wake of Eric Garner’s death? And the recent riots in Baltimore?

The press has treated all of these as a series of spontaneous eruptions occasioned by understandable outrage on the part of the demonstrators. What we learned yesterday shows that much of what happened in Ferguson was theater. ... I would be willing to hazard the guess that virtually every demonstration and riot along these lines that we have witnessed in recent years was, at least in part, bought and paid for. And I would not be surprised to learn that the “reporters” dispatched to these various venues to cover these demonstrations and riots by Pravda-on-the-Hudson, Pravda-on-the-Potomac, and Pravda-on-Television in its various, more-or-less indistinguishable forms know a great deal more about the manner in which all of this was staged than they have told us.
I'd say I'm surprised, but that would be a lie.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Hillary Clinton: officially skipping the foreplay

Hillary Clinton will, barring an unprecedentedly massive collapse, almost certainly be the Democrats' 2016 Presidential nominee. Usually at this point candidates, even prohibitive favorites, are still doing the little kabuki dance for the rank-and-file and the media boosters (for Democrats) to maintain the illusion that they really want to honor what those people want in order to get their support.

But Hillary isn't doing that. Hardly at all.

Sure, she's mouthing Lefty pieties about how the system is rigged, but she's not even trying to hide how much she and Bill have been involved in rigging it.

This past Friday, Hillary's campaign dumped a bunch of documents that show how much Hillary has been enriching herself personally -- not enriching herself indirectly through "donations" to the Clinton Foundation, but accepting six-figure gifts directly -- through massive gifts from companies that have pressing business before the government.

It's so bad that even Vox -- as reliably defensive a Liberal rag as there is -- can't stand it.
During Clinton's tenure as secretary of state, Corning lobbied the department on a variety of trade issues, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The company has donated between $100,000 and $250,000 to her family's foundation. And last July, when it was clear that Clinton would again seek the presidency in 2016, Corning coughed up a $225,500 honorarium for Clinton to speak.

In the laundry whirl of stories about Clinton buck-raking, it might be easy for that last part to get lost in the wash. But it's the part that matters most. The $225,500 speaking fee didn't go to help disease-stricken kids in an impoverished village on some long-forgotten patch of the planet. Nor did it go to a campaign account. It went to Hillary Clinton. Personally.

The latest episode in the Clinton money saga is different from the others because it involves the clear, direct personal enrichment of Hillary Clinton, presidential candidate, by people who have a lot of money at stake in the outcome of government decisions. ...
There's a reason government officials can't accept gifts: They tend to have a corrupting effect. True, Hillary Clinton wasn't a government official at the time the money was given. But it is very, very hard to see six-figure speaking fees paid by longtime political boosters with interests before the government — to a woman who has been running for president since the last time she lost — as anything but a gift.
But Hillary knows the Dems have no other legitimate options. She's their only hope. So, no foreplay this time. No whispering sweet nothings to voters to maintain the illusion that she really respects them, and isn't using them at all. No wining and dining the media to help them pretend they aren't whoring themselves out for the Democratic candidate. She's taking their support for granted, and she isn't remotely ashamed of doing so.

"Straight to the action, please, sweetheart," you can almost hear Hillary saying. "I'm in a hurry."

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Georgie and his $50,000 problem

Since Day One of his media career, it's been clear to anyone without blue-tinted glasses that George Stephanopoulos has a massive pro-Democrat bias. He worked in the Clinton White House for years, so this isn't surprising.

Nor is it necessarily problematic -- as long as he is explicit and up-front about it. He has been neither, of course, repeating the same kinds of pious fictions mouthed by most analysts and reporters about how much they strive to be fair and objective. For people who want to be fooled or who share his biases, this hasn't been a problem.

Now, however, his bias is out in the open in a much more problematic fashion. It turns out that he donated at least $50,000 to the Clinton Foundation over the past two years. And he never mentioned it.

He covered the foundation as an analyst and news anchor for ABC, and never mentioned that he had compromised his objectivity by contributing tens of thousands of dollars to it.

He grilled Peter Schweitzer, the author of Clinton Cash, in a pretty critical interview where he identified Schweitzer's work as a speechwriter for George W. Bush as something that potentially compromised his ability to objectively criticize the Clintons, and never mentioned that he had compromised his own ability to objectively report on or judge the Clintons by contributing the equivalent of the annual median US family income to their foundation.

And, making it potentially even more salacious, he apparently scored a prized interview with Bill Clinton shortly after he made his first donation (of more than $20,000). Hillary Clinton has come under withering scrutiny because of her foundation's dishonest, improper, and potentially illegal acceptance of major donations from foreign governments that were dealing with the State Department. The appearance of quid pro quo looms over many of the State Department's decisions during her tenure, when foreign governments received favorable decisions after they gave large donations to the Clinton Foundation.

Did George Stephanopoulous engage in a similar quid pro quo? It's a legitimate question at the very least given the revelation of his unreported $50,000 gift.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Liberals finally feel the sting of Obama's pettiness

Barack Obama is a thin-skinned, over-sensitive man. He bristles under even mild criticism, and he can get petty and nasty very easily.

Until now, his often unprovoked attacks on Fox News and Conservatives have been the major evidence of this, and Liberals have laughed with him. Now, because of their strong opposition to the Pacific Trade Treaty (PTT) Obama desperately wants passed, Liberals are finally beginning to experience just how petty their Dear Leader can be. And they don't like it.

Not. One. Bit.

For the President to suggest that he knows more about trade then all of them do, and that they are all ignorant about the trade bill and trade policy, is staggeringly false and contemptuous of many who have been working on trade policy far longer than he has and know far more about trade, in truth, than he does.

Welcome to reality, Libs. Better late than never.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Coming Democratic Crack-Up

Eight years in the White House tends to make a national party lethargic and ideologically spent. The opposition, in contrast, is usually made lean, hungry, and focused by being out of power. This seems to be caused by tamping down or papering over major differences and ideological conflicts between different wings of the party in power, differences that being out of power allows a party to work out more effectively.

The Democrats have been in the White House for going on seven years, and the cracks in the ideological unity are showing. For all the talk of Republican "Tea Party vs. Establishment" disunity, the Democrats have a major battle brewing for the future of the party, a battle only partly obscured by the party's currently united support for Hillary.

The New York Times -- hardly a conservative source -- lays out in extreme detail the extent to which the fissures in the Democratic Party's foundation seem poised to become major fault lines that will lead to the crack up of the party in the near future.
For all the much-discussed ailments of the Republican Party — its failure to win the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections; the corrosive bickering between its mainstream and its Tea Party stalwarts; and the plummeting number of Americans who identify themselves as Republicans — the inescapable reality is that the Democrats have fallen into a ditch arguably as deep and dismal as the one Republicans have dug for themselves. “It isn’t that the Democratic Party is struggling,” says Jonathan Cowan, the president of the centrist policy center Third Way. “It’s that at the subpresidential level, it’s in a free fall.” The Democrats lost their majority in the Senate last November; to regain it, they will need to pick up five additional seats (or four if there’s a Democratic vice president who can cast the tiebreaking vote), and nonpartisan analysts do not rate their chances as good. The party’s situation in the House is far more dire. Only 188 of the lower chamber’s 435 seats are held by Democrats. Owing in part to the aggressiveness of Republican-controlled State Legislatures that redrew numerous congressional districts following the 2010 census, few believe that the Democratic Party is likely to retake power until after the next census in 2020, and even then, the respected political analyst Charles Cook rates the chances of the Democrats’ winning the House majority by 2022 as a long shot at best.

Things get even worse for the Democrats further down the political totem pole. Only 18 of the country’s 50 governors are Democrats. The party controls both houses in only 11 State Legislatures. Not since the Hoover Administration has the Democratic Party’s overall power been so low. A rousing victory by Hillary Rodham Clinton might boost other Democratic aspirants in 2016; then again, in 2012 Obama won 62 percent of Electoral College votes yet carried 48 percent of Congressional districts and a mere 22 percent of the nation’s 3,114 counties. Through a billion dollars of campaign wizardry, the president did not lift up but only managed to escape a party brand that has come to be viewed in much of America with abiding disfavor.
Read the whole thing.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Tom Brady: mortal lock for the Hall of Fame and an official liar

As a diehard Patriots fan, the whole Deflategate nonsense hasn't been any fun. Besides reflecting poorly on my team, it was overblown as a controversy and poorly handled by the NFL. To wit:
  • Many retired NFL players and coaches said that altering footballs in games to get an advantage is something teams have done for decades. It's against the rules -- which means it's cheating -- yet it doesn't seem to have much of an effect on games.
  • The NFL let news of this thing leak with inaccurate information (saying that the Patriots' footballs were much more deflated than they were) and then didn't acknowledge that the information was incorrect for days, significantly biasing public opinion.
So I wasn't surprised when the Wells Report was released today and showed what we already knew: there's a bunch of circumstantial evidence that a couple Patriots employees deflated footballs for Tom Brady in the AFC Championship Game, but no hard proof that this is what happened. Still, with so much smoke it's unlikely that there's no fire causing it. Nothing good, but nothing new.

But there is one major revelation in the report: clear proof that Tom Brady lied repeatedly about his role in the affair: at the press conference (where he seemed visibly uncomfortable) and in interviews with Ted Wells and NFL investigators. This, to me, is the major punishable offense. 

The Patriots as an organization aren't culpable -- the ownership, management, and coaching staff were exonerated in the report -- so punishing the team seems uncalled for. But punishing Brady? I think that is definitely called for. 

The cover-up is always worse than the crime. Tom Brady cheated in a big game to get a slight competitive advantage that turned out not to matter much in the end. Not honorable, but also not notable. There are almost certainly hundreds of players in the league using PEDs banned by the NFL that give them advantages at least as great as the one Brady wanted from the slightly softer footballs. But, once the NFL started investigating his actions, he obstructed the investigation by lying. That is notable, and absolutely justifies a suspension. I'd say two games fits, but others have different opinions.

The people who question Brady's accomplishments because of this are nuts. The people who question his integrity are not. Adam Kilgore over at WaPo has what I feel is a clear take on the situation:
Tom Brady is one of the greatest players in NFL history, the only quarterback to play in six Super Bowls, the undisputed on-field leader of the sport’s most successful franchise in this generation. He is also a liar. Brady probably cheated, an NFL-commissioned report found, and he lied about it. The actions do not invalidate his career, but they incinerated his golden-boy image and made messy the once-simple assessment of his place in history. ...

Brady’s historic place as a quarterback should remain stable, because to say otherwise would make the mistake of conflating morals and athletic achievement. The enhanced grip matters, yes, but it is not responsible for Super Bowl rings and 4,000-yard passing seasons. It helped, just like Vaseline on an offensive lineman’s jersey helps keep defensive linemen from yanking him around. He cheated, but not in a way that guaranteed success.

But what remains of Brady’s golden reputation just disappeared. You can still appreciate Brady’s precision, his quick mind, his steady leadership. Much of his brilliance on the field resided in his ability to always find the right play, to never put himself in a tough situation.

Away from the field, when he found himself in a difficult spot, he resorted to a different tactic. There was no defense to manipulate or play to change. He had two choices: to admit and explain what he did or evade. And Tom Brady lied.
Yeah. That about sums it up for me.

Calling a spade a spade

After the battle of Shiloh, then the bloodiest battle of the young Civil War, Lincoln was advised to get rid of Ulysses Grant because of the butcher's bill the young general had racked up in that engagement. The ever-perceptive Lincoln thought otherwise. "I can't spare this man," he said. "He fights."

I'm feeling a little towards Pamela Geller right now the way Lincoln felt towards Grant. We can't spare this lady. She fights, when so many others turn tail and retreat in the face of PC aggression from the SJW crowd and murderous violence from Muslim fundamentalists.
Drawing Muhammad offends Islamic jihadists? So does being Jewish. How much accommodation of any kind should we give to murderous savagery? To kowtow to violent intimidation will only encourage more of it.

This is a war.

Now, after the Charlie Hebdo attack, and after the Garland attack, what are we going to do? Are we going to surrender to these monsters?

The attack in Garland showed that everything my colleagues and I have been warning about regarding the threat of jihad, and the ways in which it threatens our liberties, is true. ...

You can try to avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality. The shootings in Garland, Paris, and Copenhagen targeting defenders of free speech, and the raging jihad across the Middle East, Africa, and Europe, are the disastrous consequences of avoiding reality. ...

To learn who rules over you, simply find out whom you cannot criticize. If the international media had run the Danish cartoons back in 2005, none of this could have happened. The jihadis wouldn’t have been able to kill everyone. But by self-censoring, the media gave the jihadis the power they have today.

We must take back our freedom.
Amen to that, Ma'am. Amen to that.

Read her entire article.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Chicago: The City That Won't Work for Very Long

Chicago's pension system (for teachers, cops, and firefighters) is all-but-officially bankrupt, and Chicago property owners are about to be punched in the gut by the costs of trying (and likely failing) to save it.

According to a report by Nuveen Investments, a state law passed in 2010 -- but that only kicks in next year -- Chicago must massively increase its pension payments in 2016. And I do mean MASSIVELY.
Based on state law and recent actuarial valuations, Chicago is required to contribute $839 million to its policemen’s and firemen’s pensions in 2016 ... But the city has only budgeted for a pension levy of $290.4 million.
That means that the city has to pay an additional $540 million. In ONE year.

Where are they going to get that much money? They only have a couple legitimate options, none of them good. The best one is to jack up property taxes ... by almost 50%.

To get a sense of the magnitude of the property tax increases necessary to move to full funding of annual pension payments, Nuveen Asset Management analyzed the 2013 property tax levies, pension payments and Annual Pension Costs (APC) for Chicago and its overlapping taxing districts as reported in their respective audited financial statements. We analyzed the tax bill of a theoretical $400,000 home in Chicago under current tax requirements and a scenario under which the city and its overlapping taxing districts all make full annual pension payments. ... All tax figures are from each entity’s 2013 fiscal year – the most recent fiscal year in common for all issuers.

Based on our review of each government’s fiscal 2013 audited financial statements, the owner of a $400,000 home would have paid approximately $6,873 in property taxes. ... Altogether, the owner of a $400,000 home in Chicago would need to pay $3,355 in additional property taxes to support full annual pension contributions – increasing the tax bill to $10,228 for a single year jump of nearly 49%. 
Increasing property taxes by 5% causes loud grumbling and hardship. Increasing them by 10% leads to people with the means to do so to leave the city in droves as soon as they can. Increasing them by 50%? I can't imagine it.

There's no way Rahmbo makes it to a third term after doing this, and he's got to know that. He's also got to know that he can't avoid it. Daley mortgaged the future and Rahm got stuck with the check.

But really -- this is the inevitable endpoint of Progressive government (unless you're a mono-cultural Scandinavian country, and even then things can get dicey). As the Iron Lady said, "At some point, you run out of other people's money." That moment is rapidly approaching in Chicago.

Lefty Doublethink

Ace over at Ace of Spades HQ makes a characteristically fantastic and insightful observation of Liberal Doublethink:
Two Contradictory Claims the Left Urges On Us:

1. To speak of Islamist violence, or to suggest there is a problem in Islam, is racist, and hateful, and irrational, and "islamophobic."
2. It is so predictable that Islamists will kill you if you say something "anti-Islamic" that victims of murder attempts can be said to have brought their attacks on themselves.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Media's Left Thumb is Always on the Scale

"Once again," notes Walter Russell Mead, "be very glad we don't have a Republican President right now."
If we did, we would be treated to a merciless media pounding, night-and-day, on the series of strategic failures, mistakes and false starts that have characterized America’s war strategy in Afghanistan since 2009. We’d be getting constant reminders of how the President, who repeatedly said that this was a just war that America had to win, and who told us that we should vote for him because he wouldn’t let anything distract him from the vital task of winning said war, hasn’t managed to win it, or even end it, after six long years.

Fortunately for us, there is a Democrat in the White House who, by and large, the press likes and wants to succeed. Thus our newspapers and television screens are blessedly free from invective, derision and snark when it comes to news from Afghanistan.
Indeed. Besides ignoring and not covering important details or events (which they're definitely guilty of with Democrats, and especially with Obama), the media lets its bias shine most clearly in the way they often cover news that unfavorably impacts Democrats as isolated incidents, rather than explicitly connecting the dots between unflattering or controversial news stories, the way they do with Republicans.

Professor Mead again:
[T]he heavy media bias against Republicans and for mildly to solidly left-of-center Democrats isn’t just a question of conscious and malicious bias. When the press puts Republicans through the wringer while giving Democrats the best deal it can, it’s often a reflection of the groupthink that comes naturally and almost inevitably to those who’ve spent their lives as bubble babies in the ultra-liberal world of the contemporary American campus where intellectual homogeneity is considered a virtue.

There are, of course, ideologues and warriors in the mainstream media who consciously see their mission as changing the country they are writing about rather than keeping it informed. These people are not exactly rare, and while they are following their consciences in their own way when they actively twist and distort the news in the service of a pre-existing agenda, they are activists with press cards rather than objective journalists. Many of their colleagues, however—genuine journalists—are so steeped in a worldview, and so profoundly convinced that there is no viable or decent alternative to it, that they simply go with the flow. The news articles and opinion pieces they write aren’t biased in the sense that they are consciously telling untruths or twisting facts. They are reporting the world as they see it. And in that world, Obama is a master strategist, a visionary diplomat, and an innovative thinker out to change the way the world works.

The war in Afghanistan makes Obama look like a mix of a panderer—telling Americans what he thought they wanted to hear in 2008—and a bungler—struggling unsuccessfully with the ugly realities of the war ever since as plan after plan falls short of its goals. The fact that the President’s plans for an end to a combat role for the U.S. seem to have fizzled is noted in the Times piece without any reference to the unbroken string of failed U.S. strategies in Afghanistan since 2009, or to the battles between the White House and the Pentagon over strategy that filled the media back when President Obama was developing his master plan for Afghanistan. This seems more like unconscious cocoon-spinning than a deliberate attempt to make the President look good; past Obama failures don’t strike liberals as important. They are noise, not data, and it’s the job of the press to separate the two.

The New York Times would almost certainly not cover this story the same way if a GOP president had won an election promising to win the war in Afghanistan, had imposed his personal vision and strategy on the Pentagon’s war plans, and after six years had made announcements that the Times believed to be inaccurate about the end of a combat role for U.S. troops. It would be termed a scandal, a national tragedy, and the brightest spotlights the media owned would be riveted on the sad spectacle of a hapless, flailing, incapacitated White House. We would hear a lot more than we do about career officers who disagree with the administration’s strategies being ruthlessly sidelined, and a hostile press would be scrutinizing the Joint Chiefs for signs of toadyism and opportunism.
Read the whole thing.

Keep your unborn baby healthy so you can kill him.

Here's a question: Why does anyone who's pro-choice oppose pregnant women smoking or drinking alcohol?

I know several people who are pro-choice (either staunchly so or "reluctantly" so) who become indignant at the thought (nevermind in the presence of) a pregnant woman smoking a pack a day or drinking a six-pack or two of beer a week. Yet this seems quite strange. If someone supports a woman's right to kill her baby -- which, let's be honest here, is what abortion is -- then it just seems weird that they'd care at all what else she does with her baby.

I mean, once you've conceded that it's alright for a woman to kill her child, it seems to me that you've forfeited your right to make moral judgments about anything else a woman does with her child.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Social Justice Doesn't Trump Math

An employee at a Seattle pizza restaurant just learned a painful lesson: Progressives who promised that the city's new $15/hour minimum wage law would be a clear benefit were either dishonest liars or ignorant hacks. He's losing his job in a few months once the restaurant he works at closes ... because it can't afford to pay people $15/hour.

"Pizza shop worker Devin Jeran was excited about the raise that was coming his way thanks to Seattle’s new $15 an hour minimum wage law. Or at least he was until he found out that it would cost him his job. Jeran will only see a bigger paycheck until August when his boss has to shut down her Z Pizza location, putting him and his 11 co-workers out of work.

"He said that while the law was being discussed all he heard about was how the mandatory minimum wage increase would make life better for him, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
'If that’s the truth, I don’t think that’s very apparent. People like me are finding themselves in a tougher situation than ever.'"

In the words of Morpheus, "Welcome ... to the real world."

Friday, May 1, 2015

Mental Slavery

Rod Dreher, writing about an aspect of the stubborn persistence of poverty, hits on perhaps THE crucial factor behind why the very poor tend to stay very poor: profound despair.
A reader I spent time with on this trip, a white guy, grew up in a welfare family. He said it is impossible to overstate the power of fatalism among the poor — and he told stories of things he grew up with, things he saw. This fatalism becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy in many cases. It’s a form of self-imposed mental slavery.
That nails it. Hopelessness and despair create the most impenetrable walls imaginable around a person in poverty. It's like the (perhaps apocryphal) story of how to train a predatory fish not to hunt a goldfish in the same fish tank. You put a transparent barrier between the predatory fish and the goldfish. The predatory fish immediately tries to attack the goldfish, and runs into the clear barrier over and over. Eventually, the predatory fish learns that it "can't" reach the goldfish, and it gives up trying to attack it, even once the clear barrier is removed. The predatory fish will swim right by the goldfish without even attempting to attack it, because a barrier has been permanently erected in its mind prevents it from even considering the possibility that it could achieve its goal.

So it is with the chronically poor. The barriers in their mind stop them from seeing any possibilities of escaping their poverty, let alone of achieving their dreams.

His post is excellent. Read the whole thing.