Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Real “Teachable Moment” on Race

From the Associated Press:
WASHINGTON – The police officer at the center of a national dispute over race and law enforcement says a much-anticipated meeting at the White House was productive and all parties are looking forward.

Cambridge, Mass., police Sgt. James Crowley spoke after meeting with President Barack Obama and Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., along with Vice President Joe Biden. Crowley described himself and Gates as “two gentlemen who agreed to disagree” about the confrontation that led to Gates’ arrest.
OK, so Obama has handed out beers to Gates and Crowley and sort of (but not really) apologized for saying the Cambridge, Massachusetts police acted “stupidly.”

Liberals like the term “teachable moment,” and when they apply it to race, they mean a “moment” when white Americans realize how racist they are (or at least have been) and how they need to grovel before black people whom they have victimized.

Except this time it didn’t work that way. Obama took the standard politically correct tact on the issue -- the “Cambridge cops” (meaning Crowley, who arrested Gates) had “acted stupidly.” But instead of knee jerk acceptance, the remark created a firestorm, and Obama had to start practicing damage control.

The public simply wasn’t buying the standard “blame whitey, blame the cops” line. On online poll on the ABC News website shows 85% of respondents saying that Obama “went too far” attacking the Cambridge Police.

(The poll isn’t scientific, but this is ABC News, not Fox, and there is little reason to believe there was a conservative selection bias.)

Playing the race card had not worked. Gates, who like many blacks in academia has been coddled, pampered and catered to for talking about black victimization, found that people weren’t buying it. At least, outside the rarefied environment of academia and the media the product wasn’t selling.

One genuinely heartening thing about the whole affair was the way in which black and Hispanic cops in Cambridge rallied around the comrade. Their white comrade. Apparently, they saw themselves not as black victims, but as people doing the same tough, demanding and (often) dangerous job as Crowley. Black cops too are often vilified when they stop black suspects.

All this is racial progress. But it’s not the sort of change that liberals and race hustlers want. They, not the fair-minded majority of Americans, are going to need a lot more “teachable moments.”

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Obama to Elderly Mom: Die



When Obama talks about “cost savings” under a nationalized health care plan, he must be talking about something like this. Indeed, the leftist policy wonks who have been pushing socialized medicine (most of them not runing for office) had been quite frank about what they want. If you are old, if the care doesn’t promise a lot of additional years of life, then die.

H/T Grim’s Hall.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

If Government Ran Restaurants Like It Would Run Health Care

Mayo Clinic Condemns Obama Socialized Medicine Plan

From the Washington Times:
A world-renowned clinic that President Obama held up as an example of good medicine said Monday that the American people would be “losers” under the House’s health care proposal, joining the growing chorus of critics the Obama administration is trying to fend off as the debate intensifies from Capitol Hill to Main Street.

Minnesota’s not-for-profit Mayo Clinic, which Mr. Obama has repeatedly hailed as offering top quality care at affordable costs, blasted the House Democrats’ version of the health care plan as lawmakers continue to grapple with several bills from each chamber and multiple committees.

The Mayo Clinic said there are some positive elements of the bill, but overall “the proposed legislation misses the opportunity to help create higher quality, more affordable health care for patients.”

“In fact, it will do the opposite,” clinic officials said, because the proposals aren’t patient-focused or results-oriented. “The real losers will be the citizens of the United States.”
Note for Marquette readers: one of the authors of this article (Jennifer Haberkorn) is the former Editor of the Marquette Tribune.

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Canadian Health Care

Friday, July 17, 2009

Stopping and Searching People Just to Obtain Racial Balance

It’s the “logic” of affirmative action taken to its logical (or rather illogical) conclusion.

From The Guardian:
Thousands of people are being stopped and searched by the police under their counter-­terrorism powers – simply to ­provide a racial balance in official statistics, the government’s official anti-terror law watchdog has revealed.

Lord Carlile said in his annual report that he had “ample anecdotal evidence” of it happening, adding that such a practice was “totally wrong” and constituted an invasion of civil liberties.

“I can well understand the concerns of the police that they should be free from allegations of prejudice,” he said. “But it is not a good use of precious resources if they waste them on self-evidently unmerited searches.”

He said there was little or no evidence that the use of section 44 stop and search powers by the police could prevent an act of terrorism.

“While arrests for other crime have ­followed searches under the section, none of the many thousands of searches has ever resulted in a conviction for a terrorism offence. Its utility has been questioned publicly and privately by senior Metropolitan police staff with wide experience of terrorism policing,” said Carlile. He added that such searches were stopping between 8,000-10,000 people a month.

Under the Terrorism Act 2000, the ­“section 44 stops” allow the police to search anyone in a designated area without suspicion that an offence has occurred.

But Carlile is critical of the use of the powers by the Met police, saying that he felt “a sense of frustration” the force did not limit its use of section 44 authorisations to some boroughs or parts of boroughs but used them across its entire area.

“I cannot see a justification for the whole of the Greater London area being covered permanently. The intention of the section was not to place London under permanent special search powers.” He noted that the damage done to community relations was “undoubtedly considerable”.

Examples of poor use of section 44 abounded. “I have evidence of cases where the person stopped is so obviously far from any known terrorism profile that, realistically, there is not the slightest ­possibility of him/her being a terrorist, and no other feature to justify the stop.”

He later said that while the police should not discriminate racially, it was equally important that they should not balance the statistics.

“If, for example, 50 blonde women are stopped who fall nowhere near any intelligence-led terrorism profile, it’s a gross invasion of the civil liberties of those 50 blonde women.

“The police are perfectly entitled to stop people who fall within a terrorism profile even if it creates a racial imbalance, as long as it is not racist.”

Former British diplomat Sir Edward Clay told BBC Radio 4’s The World Tonight programme he was subjected to a stop and search five weeks ago while on his way to work at the National School of Government, near Victoria Station in central London.

He said he had found the experience “sinister” and “intimidating”. He told the programme: “I’m 63, I’m a grey-to-brown-haired white male, I’m 5ft 10 ins tall, looking extremely conventional.”

The latest police figures show that ­117,278 people were stopped under section 44 in 2007-08, of whom 73,967 were white, 20,768 were Asian and 15,218 black.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Obama’s Revisionist History of the Cold War

From Liz Cheney, writing on the Wall Street Journal.
There are two different versions of the story of the end of the Cold War: the Russian version, and the truth. President Barack Obama endorsed the Russian version in Moscow last week.

Speaking to a group of students, our president explained it this way: “The American and Soviet armies were still massed in Europe, trained and ready to fight. The ideological trenches of the last century were roughly in place. Competition in everything from astrophysics to athletics was treated as a zero-sum game. If one person won, then the other person had to lose. And then within a few short years, the world as it was ceased to be. Make no mistake: This change did not come from any one nation. The Cold War reached a conclusion because of the actions of many nations over many years, and because the people of Russia and Eastern Europe stood up and decided that its end would be peaceful.”

The truth, of course, is that the Soviets ran a brutal, authoritarian regime. The KGB killed their opponents or dragged them off to the Gulag. There was no free press, no freedom of speech, no freedom of worship, no freedom of any kind. The basis of the Cold War was not “competition in astrophysics and athletics.” It was a global battle between tyranny and freedom. The Soviet “sphere of influence” was delineated by walls and barbed wire and tanks and secret police to prevent people from escaping. America was an unmatched force for good in the world during the Cold War. The Soviets were not. The Cold War ended not because the Soviets decided it should but because they were no match for the forces of freedom and the commitment of free nations to defend liberty and defeat Communism.
But, one might ask, why not revise history a bit in the interests of getting along? Why be so pro-American?

The problem is deep-seated, and it’s in the way Obama looks at the world.
Mr. Obama has become fond of saying, as he did in Russia again last week, that American nuclear disarmament will encourage the North Koreans and the Iranians to give up their nuclear ambitions. Does he really believe that the North Koreans and the Iranians are simply waiting for America to cut funds for missile defense and reduce our strategic nuclear stockpile before they halt their weapons programs?

The White House ought to take a lesson from President Harry Truman. In April, 1950, Truman signed National Security Council report 68 (NSC-68). One of the foundational documents of America’s Cold War strategy, NSC-68 explains the danger of disarming America in the hope of appeasing our enemies. “No people in history,” it reads, “have preserved their freedom who thought that by not being strong enough to protect themselves they might prove inoffensive to their enemies.”

Perhaps Mr. Obama thinks he is making America inoffensive to our enemies. In reality, he is emboldening them and weakening us. America can be disarmed literally -- by cutting our weapons systems and our defensive capabilities -- as Mr. Obama has agreed to do. We can also be disarmed morally by a president who spreads false narratives about our history or who accepts, even if by his silence, our enemies’ lies about us.
Of course, this is not just “Obama’s way of looking at the world.” It’s the liberals way of looking at the world. It’s the way the average student is taught in the average political science or history class in the average university today.

In spite of this, it doesn’t always prevail under Democratic administrations. It never did in pre-Vietnam Democratic Administrations, and it didn’t really prevail in the Clinton Administration. But it did prevail under Jimmy Carter -- at least until he learned a hard lesson about Communism when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan. Will history teach a hard lesson to Barack Obama, or will be luck out with him leaving the presidency before that happens?

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Supposedly Catholic Cardinal Stritch University Offers “Domestic Partner” Health Benefits

It says so right on their website.
Health Insurance*

Full-time employees, their spouses, dependents and/or domestic partners are eligible to participate in the University’s Group Medical Benefits program. This is a self-funded plan administered by Wausau Benefits. This plan provides medical, hospital, surgical and certain other benefits, including limited vision care and mental/nervous and drug/alcohol care benefits. The University and the employee share the cost of the coverage.

Tuition Remission*

Full- and part-time employees, spouses, dependents and domestic partners can attend graduate or undergraduate classes at Stritch at reduced rates. Tuition reduction is available up to 100% minus any gift aid awarded by the Financial Aid Office.
Clearly, if you are merely rooming with somebody, you are not their “domestic partner.” You have to be having sex. And if you aren’t married to them, the relationship is illicit under Catholic teaching.

It’s always a question with institutions billing themselves as “Catholic.” Are they really Catholic? Parents who want a “Catholic education” for their kids need to ask questions -- a lot of questions -- before they pack them off to any institution that claims to be “Catholic.”

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Celebrity Republicans

From WCBS, Channel 2 in New York, a slideshow of celebrities who are (or are thought to be) Republicans and/or conservatives.

Be wary of a case or two of what may be jumping to conclusions about some celebrity’s political views. Also, the list includes a fair number of (1.) sports figures, (2.) country music stars and (3.) NACAR drivers.

But we knew that already!

Subject for discussion: who is the most surprising person on the list?

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Thursday, July 02, 2009

The Flynn/McBride Affair and Journalistic Malpractice at the Journal-Sentinel

The illicit affair between Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn and local journalist Jessica McBride is a fiasco any way you look at it. It badly tarnishes the reputations of both.

Presumably, we can all agree that adultery is wrong (although a lot of people, frankly, don’t seem to take it too seriously). Thus the really contentious issue surrounding the whole affair is one of journalistic ethics: did McBride commit a serious ethical breach by having sex with a fellow who was the subject of a story she wrote for Milwaukee Magazine?

The column that broke the story, written by Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel columnist Dan Bice, clearly asserted that McBride had engaged in a breach of journalistic ethics. But Milwaukee Magazine editor Bruce Murphy has forcefully pointed out the problem with this argument: there is no evidence that McBride had sex with Flynn until weeks after the story was turned in, and indeed two months after the rewrite that Murphy had requested was turned in.

But in a more recent article, Murphy appears to throw McBride under the bus, saying that “In the eyes of the public, McBride has compromised herself – and this magazine.” It would have been more accurate to say that in the eyes of liberal bloggers who don’t like McBride because of her politics, McBride is compromised and so is Milwaukee Magazine.

Interestingly, Murphy reports no evidence that McBride was having any sort of affair with Flynn before the story was turned in. He describes the e-mails between them as getting “chatty and friendly . . . as soon as McBride finished reporting her story on Jan. 5.” That’s about it. Murphy has nothing else to suggest any kind of erotic connection.

The McBride/Flynn E-mails

We have a collection of e-mails exchanged by Flynn and McBride. We are certain of the provenance of the e-mails, but cannot (as Bruce Murphy admitted he cannot) be certain that we have the entire record. Perhaps some missing e-mails show a torrid affair between McBride and Flynn weeks before the story was submitted. But that’s vastly unlikely, since it would flatly contradict the substance of e-mails we have.

McBride and Flynn were clearly on friendly terms before McBride turned the story in on January 5. Most of the e-mails from that period deal with the clarification of certain issues in McBride’s story.

On January 1, for example, McBride gave Flynn the passage from the profile about Flynn’s experience in Jersey City, and noted “. . . I realized it seemed a little vague. What specifically did you think the police department needed to change? And, what specific negative effect did you see politics having on the department?” Flynn responded (on January 2) with a detailed explanation.

Earlier, on December 29, McBride asked Flynn a series of questions.
  1. In Jersey City, I read in an article that you had supported a mayor who didn’t live up to promises and left you a bit disillusioned. What happened with that?
  2. What influence did “Crime in a Free Society” have on you, and do you think its message of rehabilitation, etc. is still apt today? I read that you were drawn to its painting of policing as a noble, purposeful profession
  3. When’s the first time you met Kelling? I know you read his 1982 article but when did you first actually meet him?
  4. How did 9/11 change you if at all?
Two days later, Flynn responded with a somewhat lengthy series of answers.

It is clear from the very early exchanges that both McBride and Flynn are (figuratively) “buttering each other up.” McBride, having interviewed members of Flynn’s family tells him in a December 31 e-mail “Your kids were great. Your son idolizes you. You would have probably found his comments very touching – ‘knight in shining armor’ the little boy looking up to the father in the uniform, and all of that!” In another exchange, McBride explains that she has had to put some negative material about Springfield [Mass.] into the story, but says she has some positive material from that city too and then Flynn, on January 3 replies “I think you ‘get it’ about Springfield.”

Indeed, with regard to Flynn’s enemies in Springfield, McBride quoted Churchill to him: “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.” Flynn replied “Thanks for the Churchill quote. Now that’s REAL perspective!” Both e-mails were dated January 4.

Sometimes McBride commiserates with Flynn. In a January 1 e-mail she says to him “So, I pick up my Journal Sentinel this morning and read the story about homicides plummeting to their lowest levels since 1985. . . and black male homicides plummeting more than 64%...which are really startling figures. . . and then I turn to the JS editorial page and the lead editorial is negative and lamenting an increase in black male homicides.”

Even this early, many of the exchanges are pleasant but trivial badinage. For example, McBride tells Flynn “my maiden name is McBride and my stepmother emigrated from Ireland and is named O’Hara . . .plus, my great-grandmother was Julia Flynn LOL.” Flynn replies “We’re cousins!” McBride comes back with “Probably, 15 times removed!” All this in an exchange on December 31, 2008. This, however, was part of a very informative exchange about Irishness in which Flynn said “We were ‘lace curtain’ not ‘shanty’ Irish. And after [my father] passed we still came up with enough money to send me to the best high school in the region.” (This on December 31.)

What is missing from these early e-mails? Anything remotely erotic. It’s true that the exchange is quite cordial. Given that Flynn is the subject of a journalistic profile, he has every incentive to be cordial. And McBride has every incentive to establish a cordial relationship with her source. It’s not everybody’s style (it’s not Dan Bice’s, for example), but it’s a defensible style.

After January 5.

After January 5, McBride had turned the story in to editor Bruce Murphy of Milwaukee Magazine. Murphy asked for a rewrite (although McBride had no way of knowing he was going to do so). The cordial e-mails continued.

One exchange started when Bruce Murphy asked McBride to find out whether the drop in murders in Milwaukee was merely due to a change in the definition of “murder.” Flynn, on January 18, replied with a detailed explanation of why it was not.

Numerous other e-mails dealt with various intellectual interests. Flynn and McBride discussed the movie “Doubt,” the movie “Valkyrie,” a trip Flynn made to Washington, DC, Clint Eastwood and the movie “Gran Torino,” Milwaukee talk show host Mark Belling, law enforcement and criminal justice, concealed carry legislation, and Milwaukee mayors (past and present). And a lot of other stuff.

Flynn said he liked “Penelope Cruz in ‘Elegy’ based on the Philip Roth book, ‘The Dying Animal’” and that he is generally amused by Daily Show and the Colbert Report.

On January 27, Flynn informs McBride he has bought “Public School Administration for Dummies.” McBride’s response: “So are you going to be MPS superintendent?”

In these e-mails, the two come across as people who like a good discussion, and maybe even as intellectual soul mates.

So what is missing? Anything even remotely erotic.

The Decisive E-mails

On the very day McBride turned the story in, she wrote Flynn with the suggestion “I could tell you interesting background on Milwaukee, its chiefs, and various characters you are encountering (inside and outside the dept.). I think you’re right about Milwaukee. The environment is receptive right now. People are sick of things not working. The city’s been very tough on past chiefs. . . .” Flynn replied with “You’re on. One of these days a debrief would be helpful.” A longer e-mail from Flynn on the same day says:
Thank you. Once the article is declared done, with the expectation that you won’t be “covering” me in your professional capacity, I guess we wouldn’t be violating journalistic ethics (notice I didn’t make a smart remark) if we stayed connected and I received some of the benefit of your particular perspective.
Was this the beginning of an adulterous relationship?

Not anytime soon.

On January 27, Flynn wrote to McBride an e-mail discussing a variety of topics, which concluded with “Good to hear from you. Maybe we can connect sometime in next couple of weeks.”

On March 30, McBride suggests to the Chief “Let me know when you want to catch a cup of coffee after you get back, now that the story has been put to bed.” On April 1, Flynn responds saying “When I return let’s get together for that cup. I look forward to it.”

On April 23, after McBride’s profile had appeared on the newsstands, Flynn sent the following e-mail to McBride:
As I navigate in a sea of controversy, I wanted to take a moment and tell you the consensus among my family, friends, and the mayor is that “The Cop Who Can’t Stop” is well written, thoughtful, balanced, empathetic to its subject, broad in perspective, humorous where appropriate and a good read.

From my perspective, I’m grateful that you put so much effort into really trying to understand your subject and to place it (me) in context which is both private and public, personal and professional. I thank you also the generosity of spirit that informed your writing.

Now that that’s done, let’s schedule that coffee! If you’re really nice, you might even get a guest speaker out of the deal!
This sure doesn’t sound like two people who are carrying on an affair.

McBride responded later the same day with “It was really nice to hear from you, and I must say that your email meant a lot to me. I knew you wouldn’t like every line in that piece, but I had hopes that you would see it as being fair. . . .” Then after a discussion of how her husband Paul Bucher has often been treated unfairly, she concluded with:
Coffee would be great. Let me know what days work for you. For me, Mondays are wide open, Fridays sometimes have time available, Tues-Thurs are out due to class schedule until May 7, when classes end. A Saturday is theoretically possible albeit tougher, and Sundays are out.
Flynn then replied to her with an April 26 e-mail (if he had the hots so badly, why did it take three days to respond?):
Give me some numbers you can be reached. Scheduling something as simple as a coffee break is remarkably complicated! I get your Tuesday-Thursday conflicts. Tomorrow is wacky for me until 5, for example. Think we’ll need to be flexible. There’s stuff I’d like to get your perspective on. Maybe coffee could be lunch one day. We’ll work on it.
McBride wrote back to Flynn on April 27.
Hi chief,

It just occurred to me that you asked for my contact info and, in the entire lengthy opus that I wrote you about guns before, I forgot to provide it.
McBride then gave Flynn what appear to be her work and home phone numbers.

So we are supposed to believe that Flynn didn’t know how to contact his “on the side” lover (other than via e-mail)?

Could Flynn have been intent on getting McBride in the sack? Could McBride have been thinking that that would be nice? We can’t rule that out, but if they had the hots for each other back in December and early January when McBride was actually writing the story, they certainly showed a lot of restraint.

And it’s certainly plausible that Flynn, a public figure in an inherently contentious position, would find the opportunity to hear a briefing from a prominent local journalist to be a dandy professional opportunity. And it’s equally plausible that McBride would find a good relationship with an important figure to be a professional boon.

The Love Letter

The only evidence that can even be spun to show an affair (or even an infatuation) before McBride turned in the profile is a love letter she wrote to Flynn in May. Yet Bice and the Journal-Sentinel quoted it very selectively and tendentiously. Consider, for example, this passage:
Looking back with the benefit of hindsight, I think there was something from the moment we locked eyes in Anne’s office. It grew when you let me inside you with the tavern story and it slowly developed through intellectual repartee. At the time, I didn’t think romantically, not consciously, at least.
Bice only quotes “I think there was something from the moment we locked eyes in Anne’s office,” and ignores the “looking back with the benefit of hindsight” phrase, the “it grew when you let me inside you with the tavern story” phrase and the “developed through intellectual repartee” phrase. And of course, Bice left out “I didn’t think romantically, not consciously, at least.”

Properly quoting the entire passage would have made it clear that there was no affair, and not even any genuine romantic feelings when McBride interviewed Flynn in Anne E. Schwartz office in December.

In the same letter, written for Flynn to read when McBride was in France in May, there is the phrase “Where to begin? How can words properly express the last few weeks?”

Huh? “Past few weeks?”

Bice, of course, doesn’t quote this.

Finally, McBride wrote in the same letter “I wasn’t looking for this; it came to me. It surprised me, sort of crashed into my life.”

Journalistic Misconduct

Quite simply, accusations that McBride was guilty of a breach of journalistic ethics are dependent on reciting a few salacious details of the affair, and omitting the chronology of how it unfolded. Bice admits the Journal-Sentinel lacked a key April 23 e-mail showing that only after that date did Flynn and McBride get together. If the Journal-Sentinel did not have this e-mail, it would appear they were manipulated by a source that leaked a bunch of e-mails and selectively omitted the April 23 missive, and indeed other e-mails showing the same thing.

If the paper did have these e-mails, they simply chose to ignore them in order to support the theme of journalistic misconduct.

McBride, in sum, has been the victim of shoddy journalism on the part of the Journal-Sentinel and the ideological bias of local liberal bloggers. Her sins (like those of Flynn) have been considerable, but a breach of journalistic ethics is not one of them.

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