Saturday, July 31, 2021

Amy Chua at Yale

It's from Elizabeth Bruenig, who is a phenomenal writer.

She used to write at both WaPo and the New York Times. I'll bet she's making bank now, and I'm surprised the Atlantic has such deep pockets. *Shrug.*

At Atlantic Monthly, "The New Moral Code of America’s Elite: Two students went to Amy Chua for advice. That sin would cost them dearly":

Every striver who ever slipped the rank of their birth to ascend to a higher order has shared the capacity to ingratiate themselves with their betters. What the truly exceptional ones have in common is the ability to connect not only with their superiors but also with their peers and inferiors. And only the rarest talents among them can bond authentically—not just transactionally—with the people who will help them be who they want to be in the world. It’s a preternatural, almost Promethean gift if you have it, and Amy Chua does.

Thus begins the scandal dubbed “dinner-party-gate,” the latest in the annals of Amy Chua, Yale Law’s very own Tiger Mom, whose infamous defense of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh was the “dinner-party-gate” of its day approximately three years ago. Then, as now, Chua’s differences with some denizens of her milieu played out in the press, vituperations, allegations, insinuations, and all.

But whatever Chua had done this time, it was either so terrible that it was unspeakable, or so minuscule that it didn’t warrant mentioning in the pages of The New York Times, New York magazine, or The New Yorker. Even so, each outlet gave the mysterious affair a lengthy report. The New York Times declared the conflagration “murky,” something to do with Chua breaking her 2019 agreement with Yale Law School about socializing with students in off-campus settings; The New Yorker noted that the alleged get-togethers had taken place during the pandemic, and considered the rest “a riddle.” Nobody could produce a complainant or a victim; the only thing anyone seemed able to verify was that, whatever Chua had done last winter, the result was that this coming fall, she would no longer be leading a first-year “small group”—intimate cohorts of first-semester law students who are guided through their first few months by a faculty member who teaches, advises, and, per a 2020 budget memorandum from the Law School, likely lunches and dines with the lawyers-to-be.

The reporting left open a pair of related questions: What, exactly, had happened? And, perhaps more salient, if what took place really was something on the order of a minor violation of an ad hoc agreement between Chua and the Yale Law School dean, Heather Gerken, why had the news spilled into the nation’s most prominent news outlets rather than fading below the fold of a campus daily?

It appears to me that what transpired amounts to a skirmish between a notorious professor and an administration that seemed so eager to relieve itself of her presence that it lunged at an opportunity to weaken her position at the expense of two students who were left to deal with the consequences of the ultimately aborted campaign. Still, the answer to the latter question is more revealing than any single aspect of the whole affair. It has to do with the culture of elite institutions, where putatively righteous ends justify an array of troubling means, and noble public virtues like fairness and safety cloak more prosaic motives—the kind of vulgar envy and resentment that people with the best manners deny.

Everyone is just trying to get ahead, after all; this is no less true, and perhaps even more true, at a place like Yale Law School. It just comes more naturally to some than others. In that case one must take matters into one’s own hands.

The proximate drama begins with a trio of second-year law students, friends and acquaintances for a time. There was a person I’ll call the Guest—all three students asked not to be named, and, believing young people should have a chance at carrying on after having their reputation destroyed or destroying the reputation of others, I agreed—who was born and raised in California. He’d arrived at Yale Law School optimistic and younger than most, having come directly from UCLA. During his first semester, he’d befriended the Visitor, a young woman from a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia, who had arrived on campus from Emory. The two made a happy pair: the Guest dreamier and prone to touches of poetry, occasionally drawn to Byzantine history and Christian theology; the Visitor shrewd, practical, and levelheaded, with a keen focus on the concrete facts of policies, problems, current affairs. After working together on a major project that fall, they became and remained close.

And then there was the Archivist, a young man whom the Guest had also befriended early in his time at Yale. The two young men bonded after meeting in their contracts class, after which they would find one another at bars and parties to chat about history, politics, and other shared interests. They met up in New York City for a trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Guest eventually gave the Archivist a key to his apartment, where the latter would often stop by to visit or do his laundry. In the second semester of their second year, things seemed placid.

And they may have remained that way, had it not been for a minor snag in the Guest’s academic year that put him on a path that would eventually lead him to Amy Chua’s doorstep.

A natural provocateur, Chua has vexed the Law School for years: First with Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, a wry ode to the high-pressure parenting tactics of Chinese matriarchs, which didn’t thrill the gently-brought-up sorts who sometimes pass through New England’s finest universities; then with The Triple Package, a book co-authored with her husband, Jed Rubenfeld, on the specific qualities that enable certain cultural groups to succeed in America relative to others—you can imagine how that went over—then with a Wall Street Journal op-ed taking a stand for the embattled Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who, she said, was a “mentor to women,” including her own daughter. All throughout, Chua routinely scandalized the school by making edgy comments (allegedly remarking that Kavanaugh preferred his female clerks on the comely side, for instance, which Chua says is a gross distortion) and, yes, having students over for dinner, serving alcohol, and declining to filter her decidedly piquant inner monologue.

There is another side to Chua. It seems that for every student who emerges from her acquaintance embittered and put off, someone else comes away with nothing but the fondest of feelings for her. Her Twitter feed is peppered with spontaneous congratulations for her accomplished students, and features photos of the professor embracing former protégés in celebration of their success. During this latest contretemps, students advocated in Chua’s favor—quietly, perhaps, but with no less fervor than their anti-Chua counterparts. On April 1, a student emailed a trio of Law School deans: “Professor Chua cares more about her students than any other professor I’ve encountered at YLS. Professor Chua does more to advocate for her students than any other professor I’ve encountered at YLS. Professor Chua does more to mentor her students than any other professor I’ve encountered at YLS,” he insisted. “As you are all likely aware, I am far from the only student who feels this way. Does that not count for anything?” A PDF compilation of student and alumni letters in support of Chua spanned nearly 70 pages of similar sentiments.

Chua’s gift for relationships has also vested her with a great deal of power. Chua does know judges; she does have connections. It’s inconceivable that anyone on staff at Yale doesn’t. But Chua’s roster is either unusually expansive or perceived as such or both, and her status as a legal-career “kingmaker” has cast her in a supercharged penumbra. It’s the sort of mystique that can breed all kinds of resentments, especially in an environment where relationships with people in power are a finite resource.

Then there are Chua’s private, personal relationships—most notably, with her husband, Rubenfeld, a fellow Yale Law professor whose time at the university has been stained of late by allegations of sexual misconduct with students. Per a 23-page brief prepared by Yale Law Women, a respected student advocacy group with a formidable reputation for defending women’s interests on campus, the Rubenfeld saga stretches back to at least 2008, when a poster on the Top Law Schools forum obliquely mentioned rumors of monthly parties at Chua and Rubenfeld’s residence. A decade hence, Dean Gerken hired Jenn Davis, an independent Title IX investigator, to look into a range of allegations concerning Rubenfeld’s behavior with female students, from drunken, unwelcome, off-color remarks to unwanted touching and attempted kissing, on and off school grounds. Rubenfeld has categorically denied the claims. In its report, Yale Law Women said that fear of retaliation by Chua—concern that she would sabotage opportunities for career advancement—discouraged women who resented Rubenfeld’s advances from complaining about them to the administration.

At the conclusion of Davis’s investigation, Rubenfeld was suspended from his duties for two years, a penalty that took effect in 2020. Instead of closing the matter, Rubenfeld’s penalty seemed to strike concerned student groups such as Yale Law Women as a half-measure that would leave the matter to simmer until student turnover and the passage of time permitted another eruption.

Not that the Guest had any reason to contemplate any of this when, early in the spring semester of 2021, he decided to step down as an executive editor at the Yale Law Journal. The Guest, who describes himself as half-Korean, had misgivings about the way the journal’s staff had responded to his questions about the lack of racial diversity in its ranks, and his suggestions for addressing it. Still, even after making his decision, the Guest felt uncertain and unsettled. He confided this to the Visitor, who as a Black student at Yale Law had wrestled with similar questions, and she took it upon herself to bring them up with Chua during a Zoom meeting that served in place of the professor’s usual office hours. At that point, the Visitor recalls, Chua casually offered to talk with the two of them about the Journal affair at her home in New Haven, and the Visitor called the Guest to pass the invitation along.

Unfortunately for the Guest, the Archivist happened to be doing his laundry at his friend’s apartment when the call came, and he overheard the conversation, later documenting it as follows:

Feb. 18. I go over to [the Guest’s] to do my laundry. While at his apartment, I hear him call [the Visitor], who explains to him that Chua has just invited them over for dinner tomorrow. They discuss what to wear and what they should bring (ultimately deciding to bring a bottle of wine). [The Guest] makes zero mention of going over because of any personal crisis. After the phone call, he says that he’s been invited to a dinner party at Chua’s. [The Guest] implores me not to tell anybody so that Chua doesn’t get in trouble.

Despite his gumshoe efforts, the Archivist seemed to come away with a vastly different impression of the meeting than Chua, the Guest, or the Visitor.

The Guest and the Visitor independently told me that the meeting took place sometime in the afternoon, and that Chua offered cheese and crackers, but mentioned that she had dinner plans later on. The Guest recalled that he offered the bottle of wine as a hostess gift, which Chua accepted, though she drank only canned seltzer; the Guest opened the wine, meanwhile, and recalls pouring some for himself.

The Visitor recalled a fairly serious conversation: Chua offered advice about how the Guest should handle the brewing tempest his decision had spawned in their shared teapot. “He was getting press requests,” the Visitor told me. “Should he talk to the press? Professors are like, ‘What happened?’ Should he tell professors? Should he tell anyone? Or should he internalize it? Should he tell judges? Judges are clearly going to know about this, and I’m sure they do. And she wanted to know the full story of what happened. I think a big question was ‘Did I make a mistake?’”

The Guest came away from the conversation feeling reassured. The Archivist, however, was perturbed. Earlier that day, he’d texted two friends that the Guest and the Visitor were “going to dinner” at Chua’s, which, he added, they were “banned by the law school from doing.” One friend replied that this was weird, to which the Archivist replied: “Weird is a nice way to put it!” Chastened, the friend tried again: “So they are still ok with nepotism and complicity as long as it benefits them?” That was the ticket. “Yup!” the Archivist replied. Moments later, the Archivist sent a text that seemed to be more of a press release than a remark: “I think it’s deliberately enabling the secret atmosphere of favoritism, misogyny, and sexual harassment that severely undermines the bravery of the victims of sexual abuse that came forward against Rubenfeld,” he declared. How, why, or whether the Guest or the Visitor actually did any such thing was evidently left to the reader to infer.

Later that night, the Archivist logged a call with the Guest in which, he later said, the Guest sounded “extremely intoxicated”; the Guest denies that he was. By March, the Journal imbroglio was boiling over into the public sphere. Several of the school’s affinity groups had released statements, and the Journal had released information about the racial makeup of its editors—then the conflict came to the attention of conservative media outlets. Once more, the Guest had a series of questions for someone familiar with bad press.

This time, the Guest and the Visitor brought a premade date-and-cheese plate, the sort of appetizer offering, I gather, that you pick up at Wegmans on the way to Bible study. Again the two of them joined Chua at her New Haven manse for what sounds more like a media-strategizing session than the kind of debauched rager that would eventually possess the imaginations of Chua’s campus detractors. Again, the Archivist recorded the get-together in his notes: March 13: [The Guest] texts me again at 9:18 PM that he’s outside, indicating he has once again gone to Chua’s but won’t commit to saying so in writing

At that point, it seems, the Archivist had finally had enough. It was time to tell the administration what they had done.

When I was a little girl growing up in suburban North Texas not so very long ago, my grandmother, a housewife of the ’60s, would turn my cousins and me outside to play in the summer so she could sit at her kitchen table and chain-smoke her way through her library of paperback bodice-rippers. And when one of us would inevitably bolt back inside to complain about being annihilated with a Super Soaker at close range or nailed with a Nerf dart to the eye, she would always eject us with the same dismissal: Don’t be a tattletale. As far as childhood admonishments go, it was an interesting one—she wasn’t telling us not to do something, but rather not to be something...

Keep reading.


Oh Look! Medical Schools Join the Crazy Train!

It's Katie Herzog, writing at Bari Weiss's Substack, "Med Schools Are Now Denying Biological Sex: Professors are apologizing for saying ‘male’ and ‘female.’ Students are policing teachers. This is what it looks like when activism takes over medicine."

It turns out Ms. Herzog's doing a series of essays on this:

During a recent endocrinology course at a top medical school in the University of California system, a professor stopped mid-lecture to apologize for something he’d said at the beginning of class.

“I don’t want you to think that I am in any way trying to imply anything, and if you can summon some generosity to forgive me, I would really appreciate it,” the physician says in a recording provided by a student in the class (whom I’ll call Lauren). “Again, I’m very sorry for that. It was certainly not my intention to offend anyone. The worst thing that I can do as a human being is be offensive.”

His offense: using the term “pregnant women.”

“I said ‘when a woman is pregnant,’ which implies that only women can get pregnant and I most sincerely apologize to all of you.”

It wasn’t the first time Lauren had heard an instructor apologize for using language that, to most Americans, would seem utterly inoffensive. Words like “male” and “female.”

Why would medical school professors apologize for referring to a patient’s biological sex? Because, Lauren explains, in the context of her medical school “acknowledging biological sex can be considered transphobic.”

When sex is acknowledged by her instructors, it’s sometimes portrayed as a social construct, not a biological reality, she says. In a lecture on transgender health, an instructor declared: “Biological sex, sexual orientation, and gender are all constructs. These are all constructs that we have created.”...

Ms. Herzog's great, and Ms. Weiss is a national treasure.

Still more.

Interesting Thread, and Worth Your Time

From Liz Wolfe:

Novak Djokovic Loses, Throws Tantrum in Olympics Farewell

I like the guy, but he's volatile and a sore loser. He hit a line judge in the neck last year

He's won three grand slam tournaments this year, and he'd hoped to make this year a "Golden Slam" with another victory in Tokyo.

Now he's out. 

At NYT, "Novak Djokovic, King of the Olympic Village, Loses Run at Golden Slam":

TOKYO — Novak Djokovic’s dream of a Golden Slam ended in the early hours of another thick night at the Olympics, on one last searing winner off the racket of Germany’s Alexander Zverev.

Zverev stormed back from a set and a service break down to beat Djokovic, the world’s No. 1 ranked men’s player, 1-6, 6-3, 6-1, scoring a stunning upset of an all-time great who had seemed nearly invincible lately and well on his way to pulling off a feat no male tennis player had achieved.

Djokovic was trying to win all four Grand Slam tournaments and the Olympic gold medal in a calendar year. He had won the Australian Open, the French Open and Wimbledon and came to Tokyo looking for the fourth jewel. The United States Open takes place at the end of the summer.

Djokovic appeared to be on cruise control when he broke Zverev’s serve to get to within three games of the match in the second set. Zverev swatted a ball skyward in frustration. He appeared destined to meet with a quick end, like Djokovic’s first four victims in Tokyo.

But with little to lose, Zverev began unleashing his booming serve and setting up a series of crushing forehands to take control, and Djokovic started inexplicably spraying his shots off the court.

“Terrible, just terrible,” Djokovic said, when asked how he was feeling at the end of a night that also included a loss in the mixed doubles semifinal.

Djokovic tried to slow Zverev’s momentum with a long bathroom break between the second and third sets, as he has done in tense moments in the past. But it didn’t work and in the two-of-three-set format he did not have the cushion that the marathon afforded during Grand Slam matches, which require three of five sets to win...

Very interesting. 

Apparently Tokyo was an image rehab event for him. Djokvic was even photographed doing the splits with Belgian gymnasts.

Rough life. 

Deputy Involved Shooting in East Los Angeles

At LAT, "Sheriff expresses ‘grave concerns’ over fatal shooting by deputies captured on video":

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department on Friday evening released footage from body-worn cameras that shows several deputies shoot to death a man who was armed with a knife — an incident that Sheriff Alex Villanueva, in a rare criticism of his own deputies, said has given him “grave concerns.”

The Sheriff’s Department published the footage a day after family members of David Ordaz Jr. held a news conference outside the federal courthouse in downtown Los Angeles to announce they were suing Los Angeles County and the four deputies involved in Ordaz’s shooting. Their attorneys also released a video, recorded by a bystander, that shows the moment Ordaz, 34, was fatally shot.

Villanueva, in a statement issued Friday night, said one of the deputies had been relieved of duty and had his police powers suspended, pending an investigation by Sheriff’s Department homicide detectives. He didn’t specify which of the four deputies had been suspended, and the department didn’t immediately return a request for clarification.

The Sheriff’s Department said it will forward the investigation to the FBI for review.

The Sheriff’s Department released excerpts of body-worn camera footage on Friday, along with portions of the 911 call that brought deputies to Ordaz’s East Los Angeles home in the 100 block of North Rowan Avenue the afternoon of March 14.

“Yes, hello, um, I’m currently with someone who is telling me they’re suicidal,” a woman, who later identifies herself as Ordaz’s sister, is heard saying. “I was just wondering if you could guide me on what I can do to help them.”

She told a dispatcher they were sitting in Ordaz’s car, parked outside their family’s home. The dispatcher asked whether Ordaz had any weapons.

“Yeah,” Ordaz said, “I do.”

His sister said he was carrying a knife. The dispatcher asked whether it was a pocketknife...

“It’s a big-ass butcher knife,” Ordaz said. Asked whether he had a history of mental illness or disability, his sister said Ordaz hadn’t been diagnosed with any conditions but had been having suicidal thoughts “for a while.” “He’s also talked about suicide by cop, so I am afraid for that,” she added...

Still more.



Three Dog Night

Althouse wrote about this song way back in 2006, and I didn't know, but Aimee Mann also sings it, in a quite subdued rendition.


Leah Pezzetti Weekend Forecast

Really interesting weather pattern this weekend.

There'll be blazing hot temperatures in the deserts, well over 100 degrees, and monsoon conditions, with thunder and lighting expected, especially in Southwest San Diego County.

Here's the beautiful Ms. Leah:

Delta Variant Could Take Political Toll

At the Los Angeles Times, "News Analysis: How the Delta variant could shake up the 2022 midterm election":

The virulence of the coronavirus Delta variant has ushered in a new phase of the pandemic, prompting tougher vaccine and mask requirements and stoking a volatile mood among Americans that poses peril for both political parties.

Reflecting the urgent need to guard the country against climbing rates of infection, Republican and Democratic politicians alike have shifted focus in recent weeks. The GOP, mindful of lagging vaccination rates in conservative communities, has begun making more robust appeals for inoculations. Democrats, meanwhile, have embraced mandates as an additional tool to reach the remaining unvaccinated.

In the clearest sign yet of this escalating response, President Biden announced Thursday a new slate of incentives — including $100 for those who get vaccinated — and requirements, ordering federal employees and contractors to get the shot or submit to regular testing, mask-wearing and social distancing.

“I say to all those who are unvaccinated — please, please get vaccinated,” he said in an address from the East Room of the White House. “To the rest of America, this is no time to be despondent or let our guard down. We just need to finish the job with science, with facts, with the truth.”

These moves are set against a backdrop of palpable anger in the country — be it the vaccinated seething at uninoculated holdouts or those chafing at new mask and vaccine impositions from the government.

With the majority of American adults already inoculated, Republicans risk being seen as responsible for the “pandemic of the unvaccinated,” given higher rates of vaccine hesitancy in their ranks.

But Democrats, with control of both the White House and Congress, may shoulder the blame for any plunge in the nation’s hopefulness about halting the virus — and possibly hand the GOP a potent campaign issue in next year’s midterm election.

Mandates will be denounced by the right in an effort “to fire up and mobilize their base against this big, overreaching federal government,” said Cornell Belcher, a Democratic pollster. “None of this conversation is about what will fire up young voters, minority voters — the college-educated women who were key to the Biden coalition. Where’s their red meat?”

The resurgence of the virus after months of declining infections is good news for nobody, least of all Biden, who made a return to pre-pandemic normalcy a centerpiece of his first months in the White House. A recent ABC News/Ipsos poll found that a majority of Americans are now pessimistic about the direction of the country, a 20-point slide in optimism from less than three months ago.

But the president still gets relatively high marks for his leadership in combating the virus, significantly outpacing voters’ overall assessment of his job performance.

“People have confidence that the Biden administration’s approach is competent,” said Jesse Ferguson, a Democratic strategist, “and that he’s telling the truth.”

That trust is now being tested by the return of mitigation measures. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week issued new guidance recommending that everyone wear masks indoors in public in parts of the country with surging transmission rates — just two months after the public health agency said indoor masking was unnecessary for the fully vaccinated.

The reversal was not only a symbolic blow to the nation’s pandemic recovery, but also gave ammunition to administration critics. Public health experts wondered whether the CDC was too hasty in initially lifting the mask guidance. Republicans, meanwhile, jumped on the chance to decry what they say is bureaucratic overreach and raise the specter of harsher measures such as lockdowns.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield, the House GOP leader, criticized the CDC’s decision as “conjured up by liberal government officials who want to continue in a perpetual pandemic state.”

Republicans have been particularly apoplectic over new mask requirements set by the Capitol physician for the House of Representatives, with some risking a fine by refusing to wear a face covering.

Aiming their ire at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), they questioned why the Senate does not have similar rules. (Nearly all senators have publicly stated they are vaccinated, while almost half of House Republicans have refused to disclose whether they are inoculated, according to CNN.)

Pelosi, asked by reporters to respond to McCarthy’s complaints, appeared to call her fellow Californian “such a moron.”

While the GOP has coalesced around antipathy for mask mandates, the messaging around vaccines has been more muddled. The Delta variant prompted a notable shift in Republicans advocating for the shot, albeit often in cautious terms that emphasize personal choice, while some in the party continue to loudly disparage vaccination with inflammatory rhetoric.

The current wave of infections is hardly just a Republican problem...

Still more.


Friday, July 30, 2021

Olympic Games Losing Luster as Stars Struggle

At the Los Angeles Times, "A stormy 24 hours: Stars in unexpected trouble at increasingly turbulent Tokyo Olympics":

TOKYO — These Olympic Games were always walking a tightrope, right from the beginning, teetering on the edge of disaster. From the first positive coronavirus test, there were fears the COVID-19 pandemic might land scores of athletes in quarantine, maybe wipe out an entire event like the men’s 100-meter final.

From the first explosion of fireworks over an empty stadium during the opening ceremony, there were doubts that Tokyo could generate any real buzz without fans in the seats.

But the Games instead are troubled by a different problem. The mental stress that drove Simone Biles to abruptly withdraw from the women’s gymnastics team competition on Tuesday night underscored a more alarming trend.

These Olympics are losing their star power.

Biles was merely the latest marquee name to suffer misfortune in the last few days. American swimmer Katie Ledecky — another ostensible “Greatest of All Time” — finished second in her initial race and fifth in another, before winning a gold medal in her last race Tuesday. Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka, whose face adorns countless billboards and television commercials in this country, was bounced from the women’s draw in the third round.

“I’m disappointed in every loss,” Osaka said, “but I feel like this one sucks more than the others.”

There have been bright moments in Japan. The host nation got early gold from skateboarder Yuto Horigome — another highly publicized athlete here — and in sports such as judo and table tennis. Victories by 17-year-old Alaskan swimmer Lydia Jacoby and Carissa Moore in the inaugural surfing contest provided the American team with highlights.

“It was crazy,” Jacoby said after the surprising 100-meter breaststroke. “I knew I had it in me, but I wasn’t really expecting a gold medal.”

Still, the list of disappointments has run considerably longer.

Two-time Wimbledon champion Andy Murray of Britain withdrew from singles, deciding to give his body a rest by playing only doubles. Positive coronavirus tests derailed Jon Rahm of Spain, the world’s top-ranked golfer, and Bryson DeChambeau of the U.S., ranked No. 6, before the start of play.

The powerhouse U.S. women’s soccer team has looked shaky, barely escaping pool play with a 0-0 draw against Australia, and the men’s basketball team, stocked with NBA talent, hasn’t played any better.

“I think that’s a little bit of hubris if you think the Americans are supposed to just roll out the ball and win,” Coach Gregg Popovich said...

Still more.


Pippa Norris and Ronald Inglehart Cultural Backlash

At Amazon, Pippa Norris and Ronald Inglehart Cultural Backlash: Trump, Brexit, and Authoritarian Populism

Now It's Shameful to Get Vaccinated

Especially in red states.

At NYT, "Some in Missouri Seek Covid-19 Shots in Secret, Doctor Says":

Even as the more contagious Delta variant drives a surge in infections, the Covid-19 vaccination effort has become so polarized in Missouri that some people are trying to get shots in secret to avoid conflicts with friends and relatives, a doctor there said.

In a video circulated by her employer, Dr. Priscilla A. Frase, a hospitalist and the chief medical information officer at Ozarks Healthcare in West Plains, Mo., said this month that several people had pleaded for anonymity when they came in to be vaccinated, and that some appeared to have made an effort to disguise themselves.

“I work closely with our pharmacists who are leading our vaccine efforts through our organization,” she said, “and one of them told me the other day that they had several people come in to get vaccinated who have tried to sort of disguise their appearance and even went so far as to say, ‘Please, please please, don’t let anyone know that I got this vaccine.’”

It was not clear how many people had tried to alter their appearance to avoid recognition, or how they had done so. Dr. Frase, who wore a mask in the video, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Some people, she said in the video, were “very concerned about how their people that they love, within their family and within their friendship circles and their work circles, are going to react if they found out that they got the vaccine.”

“Nobody should have to feel that kind of pressure to get something that they want, you know,” she added. “We should all be able to be free to do what we want to do, and that includes people who don’t want to get the vaccine as well as people who do want to get the vaccine. But we’ve got to stop ridiculing people that do or don’t want to get the vaccine.”

The video was circulating online as public health officials in Missouri were confronting a resurgent outbreak, driven by the Delta variant and concentrated in the state’s south and southwest.

The state’s vaccination rate lags that of most other states and the nation as a whole. According to a New York Times database, 41 percent of Missouri residents have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, compared with more than 49 percent nationwide. In Howell County, Mo., where Ozarks Healthcare and Dr. Frase are based, only 20 percent of residents are fully vaccinated.

On Thursday, Missouri had a seven-day average of nearly 2,500 new cases of Covid-19 — an increase of 39 percent over the previous two weeks. Hospitalizations were up 38 percent over the same period.

Studies suggest that the approved vaccines remain effective against the Delta variant, but public health experts say Delta poses a serious threat to unvaccinated populations.

Despite that evidence, public health measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus, including vaccinations, have been politicized across much of the country. In some places, including in parts of Missouri, being unvaccinated has become a point of pride for some people. In a Politico report this week, few people who were interviewed at Lake of the Ozarks, a popular tourist destination, acknowledged that they had been vaccinated, and some said that they had been shamed by friends or relatives.

In the video, Dr. Frase said she was particularly troubled by the increased spread of misinformation about the vaccines.

“My fear is that people are getting information from the wrong sources and therefore actually making uninformed decisions rather than informed decisions,” she said.

“I want people to ask medical people,” she added, “or ask somebody that they trust who has good knowledge — not rely on the stuff that’s out there on social media, not rely on people who have opinions not based on facts.”

It was “disheartening,” she said, “to have gotten to that place where we, as health care providers, thought that maybe things were finally back to whatever our new normal is going to be after this pandemic.”...

Still more.

Screaming Covid Leftists

Glenn Greenwald:

Judge Jeanine Slams Biden Administration's Double-Standards on Covid at the Border

At Fox News, "Judge Jeanine roasts Biden admin's double standard for COVID-infected illegal immigrants: DOJ threatened Texas with legal action after Gov. Abbott's executive order."


This is the coolest thing.

The firm offers 100 percent newly refurbished, zero miles vintage Mustangs. They use the same V-8 485HP in all their models. 

There's a waiting list and they're not cheap --- varying around $200,000.

This one's a 1966 Mustang GT Convertible in Porsche Jet Black Metallic with Mercedes Porcellan White Leather.

'Breakthrough' Cases Show the Power of Shots

So says the Los Angeles Times.

Here, "‘Breakthrough’ COVID-19 cases rising in L.A., but the vaccinated are still protected, data show":

Los Angeles County has seen a rise in “breakthrough” coronavirus cases as of late, but data continue to show those who are vaccinated for COVID-19 enjoy vigorous protection — even from the contagious Delta variant — and are far less likely to be hospitalized should they become infected.

The latest figures underscore how the county’s recent coronavirus surge is different from the pandemic’s earlier spikes, both in terms of who is getting sick and how the virus is spreading countywide.

In June, fully vaccinated residents made up 20% of all confirmed coronavirus infections in those 16 and old

er, according to figures from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. However, that same month, they accounted for only 8% of all COVID-19 hospitalizations.

That trend has persisted into July. Over the first half of the month, roughly 26% of all diagnosed cases were in fully vaccinated residents, according to figures county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer presented this week.

This means unvaccinated residents still accounted for almost three times as many infections, even though they’ve been a minority of the population since the start of the month.

And despite the uptick in post-vaccination “breakthrough” cases, the proportion of those people becoming sick enough to require hospitalization over the early part of this month remained essentially flat from June.

“Although vaccinated people are seeing a rise in new COVID diagnosis, they are primarily experiencing their infections not as severe illnesses that bring them to the emergency room, but as bad colds,” Ferrer said this week.

Those who are unvaccinated, she continued, “simply do not have the same level of confidence if they get infected with this virus that it will lead to mild illness.”

Out of the 504 people who died of COVID-19 countywide from April 1 to June 30, 96% were either unvaccinated or had not completed their inoculation regimen, data show.

County health officials are trying to better understand the factors, such as being immunocompromised, that may put fully vaccinated people at risk of dying from COVID-19, Ferrer said.

The rise of vaccinations is also shifting the trajectory of this summer spike. In previous surges, lower-income, densely populated areas were hardest hit as essential workers got COVID-19 on the job and then spread it at home. Areas such as East Los Angeles, the northeast San Fernando Valley and South Los Angeles saw some of the worst spread.

This time is different.

As of July 17, communities that had high rates of transmission included downtown Los Angeles, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Venice, Hollywood Hills and Studio City, Ferrer said.

“These are different communities from those with high case rates during our previous surges,” she said. “So far, it appears transmission in these areas is being driven mostly by community spread among young adults.”

In some areas, she added, “there were several smaller outbreaks among persons experiencing homelessness that also may have contributed, just slightly, to the higher rates. And we also have noted that there have been outbreaks in some of these communities at food and bar establishments that also are contributing to the higher rates.”

More than 53% of Angelenos have now been fully vaccinated, according to data compiled by The Times...

Professor William Jacobson on 'The John DePetro Show' (Radio Interview)

His efforts combating this destructive ideology are impressive and mounting. 

At Legal Insurrection, "Critical Race Theory is a Societal Dead End":

DePetro (02:11):

Bill Jacobson, right now we’re in mid to late July. When did critical race theory first start to appear on your radar and the radar of Legal Insurrection?

Jacobson (02:23):

Well, I’ve actually followed it really almost since law school, because one of my classmates, Kimberle Crenshaw is one of the developers of critical legal theory, and eventually critical race theory. So I’ve always been aware of it. That’s going back to 1984. And I was at Harvard Law School, which is where critical race theory and critical legal theory really developed. If you look at the early people, the early professors doing it, that’s where it was. So I’ve been aware of it for over 30 years. It was more and more on our radar, but it really jumped onto my radar last summer. It was almost now to the day that the president of Cornell University announced, in the wake of the George Floyd killing and the protests and the riots, that Cornell was going to become an “anti-racist” campus. And I really wasn’t sure what that meant, and they proposed summer reading for the entire university, Ibram Kendi’s book, “How to be an Antiracist.”

And it was available for free to people who had a Cornell ID. So I read it, and I was absolutely horrified. It was an ideology which while they use the term “anti-racist,” that’s complete deception. It is actually a very racially discriminatory ideology. And so I read this thing, and I said, “Oh my God.” And we started to look into it at the foundation. We have researchers. And originally I was going to write an op-ed or an article someplace about it. And the deeper we got into it, the more we realized how pervasive it was. And so we rolled out a website in February [2021] called, which documents critical race training in higher education. We have an interactive map. You can click on a state, click on a school, and see what’s happening. And then we began to hear from people all over the country because the website got a lot of attention. We got a million views within a day of us taking it public...

 Click the link for the full transcript.

Giles Milton, Churchill's Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare

At Amazon, Giles Milton, Churchill's Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare: The Mavericks Who Plotted Hitler's Defeat.

Driving Ms. Daisy?

Quite a woman.


Swarm of Bees in Diamond Bar Kills Two Dogs (VIDEO)

People can be killed by bees as well. This man's lucky it wasn't worse.

At ABC News 7 Los Angeles: 

Former Senator Carl Levin Has Died at 87

He served 35 years in the Senate. 

I have to agree --- a man of integrity. 

At the New York Times, "Carl Levin, the Senate Scourge of Corporate America, Dies at 87."

And the Detroit Free Press, "Carl Levin, Michigan's longest serving U.S. senator, dies at 87":

Carl Levin, a liberal Democrat who rose from a prominent Detroit family to become Michigan’s longest-serving U.S. senator and helped set military priorities and investigate corporate behavior for decades before retiring in 2015, died Thursday. He was 87.

The Levin Center at Wayne State University, which was formed on the senator's behalf after he left the Senate, put out a statement late Thursday, saying, "With great sadness and heavy hearts, the (center and family) announce the passing of Senator Carl Levin."

Levin disclosed in his recently published memoir, "Getting to the Heart of the Matter: My 36 Years in the Senate," that he was diagnosed with lung cancer nearly four years ago, when he was 83.

U.S. Rep. Andy Levin, D-Bloomfield Twp., put out a statement on his uncle's passing:

“Throughout my adult life, wherever I went in Michigan, from Copper Harbor to Monroe, I would run into people who would say, ‘I don’t always agree with Senator Levin, but I support him anyway because he is so genuine, he tells it straight and he follows through.’

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called Levin a champion for Michigan.

"He saw what we were capable of when we came to the table as Michiganders, as Americans, to get things done," she said.

A defender of Senate traditions, even when his own party moved to change them, Levin, who was trained as a lawyer, twice served as chairman of the powerful Armed Services Committee, despite having never served in uniform himself.

As such, he helped set U.S. military strength and policy, including in Afghanistan and Iraq, though he voted against authorizing the use of force in the latter.

He also investigated questionable Pentagon spending practices and played a key role in overturning the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” rule that prohibited gay service members from openly acknowledging their sexual orientation prior to 2011. As head of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, he led probes questioning what he saw as corporate excesses, including those involving Enron, Apple and Goldman Sachs.

As a Michigan senator, he defended the auto industry, supported the bailout of General Motors and Chrysler in 2008-09 and backed numerous projects including Detroit’s RiverWalk, the M-1 Light Rail and the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, among others. For years, he fought for a new Soo Lock — efforts that only began to bear fruit after he left office.

“We could not aspire to better service than what he has given our country,” the late U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said of his Armed Services Committee colleague just before Levin’s retirement. McCain, a war hero, went on to call Levin “a model of serious purpose, firm principle and personal decency” and said that while they often disagreed, Levin never went back on his word...

Still more.



New Film is Based on Amanda Knox's Wrongful Murder Conviction

I've seen the previews for this, but I mute commercials and I don't care much for Matt Damon.

I can see why Ms. Amanda's pissed. 

At the New York Post, "Amanda Knox blasts Matt Damon flick ‘Stillwater,’ claims it’s cashing in on her wrongful conviction."

And Ms. Amanda on Twitter, "Does my name belong to me? My face? What about my life? My story? Why does my name refer to events I had no hand in? I return to these questions because others continue to profit off my name, face, & story without my consent. Most recently, the film #STILLWATER."


Oh the insanity!

Los Angeles Unified to Mandate Covid Testing Regardless of Vaccination Status


But this vaccine mandate business is taking off everywhere in California. It's out of control. Perhaps enough people will hate it to get Newsom recalled on September 14th.

At First Street Journal, "Los Angeles Unified School District plans on physically assaulting every student and employee, every week":

Have you ever had a COVID-19 test? I have, and it’s a very unpleasant experience. Basically, a nurse sticks a long, stick-mounted cotton swab — think of an eight-inch-long Q-Tip — up your nose to obtain the ‘material’ to be tested. In every state in the union, if you have not consented to this, it would be considered an assault. Does the Los Angeles Unified School District plan on making public education, something required by state law, to be contingent on consenting to be assaulted?

The Los Angeles Unified School District will require all students and employees who are returning for in-person instruction to participate in weekly COVID-19 testing — regardless of vaccination status, the district announced Thursday.

“This is in accordance with the most recent guidance from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health,” Interim Superintendent Megan K. Reilly said in a statement.  
Really? The LAUSD employees are unionized. Have the District gotten the OK from the employees’ unions for this? What union is going to approve of this kind of employment condition?

LAUSD, the nation’s second-largest school district, had previously said that fully vaccinated students and employees would not require testing. But as schools district-wide prepare to reopen for in-person instruction on Aug. 16, L.A. Unified said it’s closely monitoring evolving health conditions and adapting its response...

In addition to regular testing, safety measures will include: masking for all students, staff and visitors; maximizing physical distancing as much as possible; continuing comprehensive sanitizing efforts, including frequent hand washing; upgraded air filtration systems; and collaborating with health partners and agencies to support free COVID-19 vaccination.

So, if some parents are concerned about the safety of the vaccines, why would they bother with getting their children vaccinated if they will still be subjected to weekly testing, and all of the other COVID-19 restrictions?

And since the vaccines have not yet been approved for children 11-years-old and younger, that means almost every student through the fifth grade will be unvaccinated. Even if the LAUSD changes its mind, and allows vaccinated students and employees to skip the weekly testing, the District are still planning on physically assaulting every student from pre-school through the fifth grade...

Yeah, I had the covid up-the-nose-test and it was perhaps the most awful (and painful) medical test I've had in my entire life.

Still more.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Yuri Slezkine, The House of Government

At Amazon, Yuri Slezkine, The House of Government: A Saga of the Russian Revolution.

So, Electric Cars Are Destroying the Planet. Uh, Okay


Wind power doesn't even come close to providing enough energy to charge America, and it's bad for the environment, especially eagles (and don't mention Third World exploitation).

Leftists are despicable ghouls. 

At LAT, "California’s electric car revolution, designed to save the planet, also unleashes a toll on it":

SAN DIEGO — The precious cargo on the ship docked in San Diego Bay was strikingly small for a vessel built to drag oil rigs out to sea. Machines tethered to this hulking ship had plucked rocks the size of a child’s fist from the ocean floor thousands of miles into the Pacific.

The mission was delicate and controversial — with broad implications for the planet.

Investors are betting tens of millions of dollars that these black nodules packed with metals used in electric car batteries are the ticket for the United States to recapture supremacy over the green economy — and to keep up with a global transportation revolution started by California.

Alongside his docked ship, Gerard Barron, chief executive of the Metals Co., held in his hand one of the nodules he argues can help save the planet. “We have to be bold and we have to be prepared to look at new frontiers,” he said. “Climate change isn’t something that’s waiting around for us to figure it out.”

The urgency with which his company and a few others are moving to start scraping the seabed for these materials alarms oceanographers and advocates, who warn they are literally in uncharted waters. Much is unknown about life on the deep sea floor, and vacuuming swaths of it clean threatens to have unintended and far-reaching consequences.

The drama playing out in the deep sea is just one act in a fast unfolding, ethically challenging and economically complex debate that stretches around the world, from the cobalt mines of Congo to the corridors of the Biden White House to fragile desert habitats throughout the West where vast deposits of lithium lay beneath the ground.

The state of California is inexorably intertwined in this drama. Not just because extraction companies are aggressively surveying the state’s landscapes for opportunities to mine and process the materials. But because California is leading the drive toward electric cars.

No state has exported more policy innovations — including on climate, equality, the economy — than California, a trend accelerating under the Biden administration. The state relishes its role as the nation’s think tank, though the course it charts for the country has, at times, veered in unanticipated directions.

“The ocean is the place on the planet where we know least about what species exist and how they function,” Douglas McCauley, a marine science professor at UC Santa Barbara, said of plans to scrape the seafloor. “This is like opening a Pandora’s box.... We’re concerned this won’t do much good for climate change, but it will do irreversible harm to the ocean.”

The sprint to supply automakers with heavy-duty lithium batteries is propelled by climate-conscious countries like the United States that aspire to abandon gas-powered cars and SUVs. They are racing to secure the materials needed to go electric, and the Biden administration is under pressure to fast-track mammoth extraction projects that threaten to unleash their own environmental fallout.

In far-flung patches of the ocean floor, at Native American ancestral sites, and on some of the most pristine federal lands, extraction and mining companies are branding themselves stewards of sustainability, warning the planet will suffer if digging and scraping are delayed. All the prospecting is giving pause to some of the environmental groups championing climate action, as they assess whether the sacrifice needed to curb warming is being shared fairly...

Keep reading.


San Francisco Bar Association to Require Masks

It's actually called the S.F. Bar Owner Alliance, 250-member strong.

At KPIX CBS News 5 San Francisco, "Group of San Francisco Bars to Require COVID Vaccine or Negative Test from Customers."

C.D.C. Recommends Mask-Wearing Indoors (VIDEO)

It's like the C.D.C. can't get its messaging straight. 

At LAT, "CDC recommends masks indoors in U.S. where cases are surging."

And from Mark Tapscott, at Instapundit, "CDC’S NEW MASK GUIDANCE BASED ON FAILED STUDY: Turns out, Just the News reports this morning, that our betters have no problem depending upon a study that failed peer review to justify their new mask guidance."

Oh brother. *Eye-roll.*

G.D.P. Growth

Following-up, "Gross Domestic Product, Second Quarter 2021, Grows 6.5 Percent."

Here's the take, at NYT, "Growth Is Strong, but the Obstacles to Full Recovery Are Big."

Plus, "Economy Recovers Pandemic Losses, but Faces New Test":

The U.S. economy climbed out of its pandemic-induced hole in the spring as vaccinations and federal aid fueled a surge in consumer spending at restaurants, resorts and retail stores.

The revival brought gross domestic product back to its prepandemic level in the second quarter, adjusted for inflation — a remarkable achievement, exactly a year after the economy’s worst quarterly contraction on record. After the last recession ended in 2009, the G.D.P. took two years to rebound fully.

But the rise of the Delta variant of the coronavirus could threaten those gains just as the federal aid programs that helped bolster the recovery are coming to an end.

Gross domestic product, the broadest measure of economic output, grew 1.6 percent in the second quarter of the year, the Commerce Department said Thursday, up from 1.5 percent in the first three months of the year. On an annualized basis, second-quarter growth was 6.5 percent.

Robust investment in the quarter signaled that businesses were betting on continued growth. But the recovery is far from complete. Output is significantly below where it would be had growth continued on its prepandemic path, and other economic measures remain deeply depressed, particularly for certain groups. The United States has nearly seven million fewer jobs than before the pandemic. The unemployment rate for Black workers in June was 9.2 percent.

“The good news is, this is all occurring much more rapidly than after the financial crisis,” said Diane Swonk, chief economist for the accounting firm Grant Thornton. “The bad news is, the pain was much worse.”

For Sarah Ladley, the economy’s spring reawakening was a glimmer of hope after a brutal year for her business.

Ms. Ladley, 33, started selling banana-based frozen treats out of her Denver food truck nearly a decade ago, just after she graduated from college. The pandemic nearly wiped her out: She made it through last year with the help of a loan through the Paycheck Protection Program, but the business lost money. With pandemic restrictions still in place early this year, she began looking for another job to pay the bills.

Instead, the phone began ringing with people looking to hold events.

“All of a sudden in May, it was like the floodgates opened,” she said.

Now Ms. Ladley has a different set of problems. Business has rebounded, though not all the way, and she is having trouble fulfilling demand. She had to change the cups she uses after a vendor ran out, stores will sometimes be out of the fruit she needs and she has struggled to hire workers amid competition from businesses that can offer higher pay and year-round employment. She says she has had to turn away business to avoid burning out her limited staff.

“Things definitely aren’t normal, but even if they were normal, I wouldn’t be able to handle it,” she said.

Well, better to have robust growth than horrible shrinkage, I guess. *Shrug.*

Still more.

Cornell West, Democracy Matters

At Amazon, Cornell West, Democracy Matters: Winning the Fight Against Imperialism.

Douglas Murray Predicts Boring 2020s and More Covid Mandates (VIDEO)

He's the author of the Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race, Identity, available at Amazon.

Barbara Boxer Assaulted in Oakland, California

Assaulted and robbed, a former U.S. senator, man.

At KPIX CBS News 5 San Francisco, "Update: Former California Senator Barbara Boxer Assaulted, Robbed In Oakland’s Jack London District."

Gross Domestic Product, Second Quarter 2021, Grows 6.5 Percent

At W.S.J., "U.S. Economy Grows Beyond Pre-Pandemic Level":

U.S. gross domestic product grew at a 6.5% annual rate in the second quarter, up slightly from earlier in the year, pushing the economy’s size beyond its pre-pandemic level.

The growth came as business reopenings and government aid powered a surge that is expected to gradually slow in coming months, with Covid-19 variants and materials and labor disruptions clouding the outlook.

Second-quarter growth fell short of economists’ forecasts. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal estimated that gross domestic product, the broadest measure of goods and services made in the U.S., grew at an 8.4% annual rate in the April-to-June period.

Still, the growth propelled GDP beyond pre-pandemic levels, a milestone that underscores the speed of the recovery that began last summer. Widespread business reopenings, vaccinations and a big infusion of government pandemic aid this spring helped propel rapid gains in consumer spending, the economy’s main driver.

“The economy has come roaring back faster than people expected,” said Jay Bryson, chief economist at Wells Fargo Corporate and Investment Bank.

Economists expect growth to remain strong, fueled by job gains, pent-up savings and continued fiscal support. Still, many say growth likely peaked in the second quarter and will cool as the initial boost from reopenings and fiscal stimulus fades.

Rising inflation, continued supply-chain disruptions and a shortage of available workers are additional factors that could restrain growth. The highly contagious Delta variant of Covid-19 also poses an increasing risk to the economic outlook.

There are two main ways the spread of Delta could derail the robust recovery, economists say. Some state and local governments could reimpose restrictions on businesses. Second, consumers could curtail spending on travel, dining out and moviegoing out of heightened cautiousness toward the variant’s spread.

So far, new restrictions have been limited in scope. They include the reinstatement of indoor-mask rules in some localities such as Los Angeles County. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended Tuesday that vaccinated people resume masking indoors in places with high or substantial transmission of coronavirus.

Americans don’t appear to be retreating into their homes as the Delta variant spreads. Flight volumes and hotel-occupancy rates continue to rise, according to an analysis of real-time data by Jefferies LLC. Public-transit usage is also gaining ground, though it is down compared with pre-pandemic levels, Jefferies said.

The increasing level of vaccinations in the U.S. has made people more likely to keep working and spending money despite the rise in cases.

“I really don’t expect anything like we saw in the spring of last year,” said Ben Herzon, executive director at forecasting firm IHS Markit. “Going forward we’ll just see how high the case count gets and how nervous some people get.”

Consumer confidence rose in July to the highest level since February 2020, according to the Conference Board. The increase in confidence suggests consumers are positioned to continue driving economic growth this year...

Seems like good news to me.

Still more.


Megan Parry's Thursday Forecast

She's a beauty. 

At ABC News 10 San Diego:

Wokeness: What's It All About?

It's V.D.H., at R.C.P., "What Is American Wokeness Really About?":

Most Americans were as indifferent to the U.S. women's soccer team's recent loss to Sweden in the Olympics as they were excited about the team's World Cup win in 2019. In between was the team's nonstop politicking, from whining about compensation to virtue-signaling their disrespect for the United States. The celebrity face of the team, perennial scold Megan Rapinoe, is going the way of teenage grouch Greta Thunberg, becoming more pinched the more she is tuned out.

Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Marie Khan-Cullors Brignac used her corporate grifting to buy four homes. The one she bought in California's Topanga Canyon is surrounded by a new $35,000 security fence.

Critical race theory guru Ibram X. Kendi offers virtual, one-hour workshops for $20,000 a pop. He is franchising woke re-education kits -- in between bouts of damning capitalism as a catalyst of racism.

The woke movement is a slicker, more sophisticated and far more grandiose version of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson's shakedowns of the 1990s. Those, at least, were far more honest in leveraging cash with charges of racism -- and came without the academic gobbledygook of critical race theory.

Our freeways are jammed. Airports are crammed. Labor is short. Huge pent-up consumer demand for essentials and entertainment outpaces supply. Yet Major League Baseball's recent All-Star Game saw record low television viewership -- about a quarter of the audience of 40 years ago, when there were 100 million fewer Americans.

The Summer Olympic Games are getting anemic TV ratings. The NBA's crashing TV ratings have followed the downward trajectory of the NFL's ratings. Woke sports earn the same public disgust as the accusatory and boring Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards.

Cable news networks CNN and MSNBC fueled the story that former President Donald Trump allegedly colluded with Russia. They contextualized (to excuse) the summer looting and rioting of 2020. And they cheered on two impeachments as a prelude to their 24/7 woke drumbeat. Their ratings, too, have now dived.

Never has TV been more politicized. Sitcoms, dramas and commercials are designed more to resonate woke messaging than to entertain. So naturally, dismal TV ratings reflect the expected public boredom that ensues when art serves politics.

How many times will disingenuous Dr. Anthony Fauci swear that he never sent federal money to the Wuhan virology lab for gain-of-function research, or blame his critics for pointing out his gyrating advice on masks, or offer yet another noble lie on herd immunity?

In short, Americans are worn out from elite virtue-signaling and woke performance art from critical race theory capitalists, multimillionaire CEOs, revolving-door Pentagon brass, Malibu celebrities and credentialed elite...

The backlash is building, with a vengeance. My view, once again, is that issues involving C.R.T in education should be taken up at the local level, where parents and communities have the power to elect and remove members of local school boards. Education historically is local function and this is problem for the local communities to decide. 

In any case, still more.


Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Douglas Massie and Nancy Denton, American Apartheid

At Amazon, Douglas Massey and Nancy Denton, American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Underclass.

Popular Revolt Against Critical Race Theory

At Law and Liberty, "How the Grassroots Are Resisting CRT":

The popular revolt against Critical Race Theory has shocked the woke establishment. We can see in its schizophrenic and unsteady reaction just how spooked it is. Consider, for example, how teachers’ unions have gone from denying that CRT is used in classrooms, to vowing in their next breath to promote it among the country’s 14,000 school districts, and threatening to do “oppo research” or sue anyone who opposes CRT.

You can’t have it both ways, guys...



New Nuclear Missile Installation Discovered in China

Satellite photos revealed a second site of completely new missile installations. China could be gearing up to challenge the U.S. in a balance of power in nuclear deterrent.

At NYT, "A 2nd New Nuclear Missile Base for China, and Many Questions About Strategy":

In the barren desert 1,200 miles west of Beijing, the Chinese government is digging a new field of what appears to be 110 silos for launching nuclear missiles. It is the second such field discovered by analysts studying commercial satellite images in recent weeks.

It may signify a vast expansion of China’s nuclear arsenal — the cravings of an economic and technological superpower to show that, after decades of restraint, it is ready to wield an arsenal the size of Washington’s, or Moscow’s.

Or, it may simply be a creative, if costly, negotiating ploy.

The new silos are clearly being built to be discovered. The most recent silo field, on which construction began in March, is in the eastern part of the Xinjiang region, not far from one of China’s notorious “re-education” camps in the city of Hami. It was identified late last week by nuclear experts at the Federation of American Scientists, using images from a fleet of Planet Labs satellites, and shared with The New York Times.

For decades, since its first successful nuclear test in the 1960s, China has maintained a “minimum deterrent,” which most outside experts judge at around 300 nuclear weapons. (The Chinese will not say, and the U.S. government assessments are classified.) If accurate, that is less than a fifth of the number deployed by the United States and Russia, and in the nuclear world, China has always cast itself as occupying something of a moral high ground, avoiding expensive and dangerous arms races.

But that appears to be changing under President Xi Jinping. At the same time that China is cracking down on dissent at home, asserting new control over Hong Kong, threatening Taiwan and making far more aggressive use of cyberweapons, it is also headed into new territory with nuclear weapons.

“The silo construction at Yumen and Hami constitutes the most significant expansion of the Chinese nuclear arsenal ever,” Matt Korda and Hans M. Kristensen wrote in a study of the new silo field. For decades, they noted, China has operated about 20 silos for big, liquid-fuel missiles, called the DF-5. But the newly discovered field, combined with one hundreds of miles away in Yumen, in northeast China, that was discovered by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, Calif., will give the country roughly 230 new silos. The existence of that first field, of about 120 silos, was reported earlier by The Washington Post.

The mystery is why China’s strategy has changed.

There are several theories. The simplest is that China now views itself as a full-spectrum economic, technological and military superpower — and wants an arsenal to match that status. Another possibility is that China is concerned about American missile defenses, which are increasingly effective, and India’s nuclear buildup, which has been rapid. Then there is the announcement of new hypersonic and autonomous weapons by Russia, and the possibility that Beijing wants a more effective deterrent.

A third is that China is worried that its few ground-based missiles are vulnerable to attack — and by building more than 200 silos, spread out in two locations, they can play a shell game, moving 20 or more missiles around and making the United States guess where they are. That technique is as old as the nuclear arms race.

“Just because you build the silos doesn’t mean you have to fill them all with missiles,” said Vipin Narang, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor who specializes in nuclear strategy. “They can move them around.”

And, of course, they can trade them away. China may believe that sooner or later it will be drawn into arms control negotiations with the United States and Russia — something President Donald J. Trump tried to force during his last year in office, when he said he would not renew the New START treaty with Russia unless China, which has never participated in nuclear arms control, was included...

Keep reading

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Wants to Abolish 'Our Carceral System'

Honestly, this woman's psycho.

At Fox News:


Live, with Jonathan Edwards:

Voters Almost Evenly Split on Newsom Recall

With Larry Elder leading among replacement candidates, it's going to be an interesting race.

At LAT, "Likely California voters now almost evenly split on Newsom recall, poll finds":

SACRAMENTO — Californians who say they expect to vote in the September recall election are almost evenly divided over whether to remove Gov. Gavin Newsom from office, evidence of how pivotal voter turnout will be in deciding the governor’s political fate, according to a new UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Times.

The findings dispel the notion that California’s solid Democratic voter majority will provide an impenetrable shield for Newsom, and reveal a vulnerability created by a recall effort that has energized Republicans and been met with indifference by many Democrats and independent voters.

The poll found that 47% of likely California voters supported recalling the Democratic governor, compared with 50% who opposed removing Newsom from office — a difference just shy of the survey’s margin of error.

Conservative talk radio host Larry Elder, who last week won a court battle to appear on the Sept. 14 recall ballot, leads in the race to replace Newsom among the dozens of candidates in the running, while support for reality television star Caitlyn Jenner remains low, the survey found. Forty percent of likely voters remain undecided on a replacement candidate, providing ample opportunity for other gubernatorial hopefuls to rise in the ranks before the Sept. 14 special election.

Even though Democratic voters far outnumber Republicans in California, the GOP’s enthusiasm over the recall promises to inflate the potency of the anti-Newsom vote in September, said Mark DiCamillo, director of the poll. Nearly 90% of Republicans expressed a high level of interest in the recall election while just 58% of Democrats and 53% of independent voters were as interested, the poll found.

“Democrats, at least in the middle of July, almost unanimously believed that Newsom will defeat the recall. I think that may be contributing to some complacency among those voters. Republicans, on the other hand, are confident that they can turn out the governor,” DiCamillo said. “I think the Newsom campaign really has to light a fire among the Democrats and say, ‘Look, the outcome is in jeopardy unless you get out there and vote.’”

Though Republicans account for only about a quarter of all registered voters in California, the poll found that they account for 33% of those most likely to cast ballots in the recall election. Democrats make up 46% of the state’s 22 million voters and “no party preference” voters 24%, but their share of the likely recall voters drops to 42% and 18% respectively, DiCamillo said.

“Gavin Newsom is in serious trouble at this time because his base of voters is not motivated to come out and support him,” said Dave Gilliard, one of the political strategists leading the effort to oust Newsom...

Still more. 


Simone Biles' Shocking Exit from Tokyo Olympics

 At NYT, "Russia Wins the Gymnastics Team Final After Simone Biles’s Stunning Exit."

Tomi Lahren Slams California Governor Gavin Newsom

At Fox News, "Tomi Lahren slams Gov. Newsom's 'abominable' remark about unvaccinated Californians: Newsom criticized for 'felon-coddling policies,' criminal aliens on the streets."

Capitol Police Testify in Congressional Probe of January 6th Riot (VIDEO)

I refuse to call it an "insurrection."

At ABC News, "At 1st Jan. 6 committee hearing, police officers recount brutal, racist attack by Trump mob: Calling Trump supporters "terrorists," they said they feared for their lives":

Hillsdale College Counters 1619 Project With New ‘1776 Curriculum’

At Legal Insurrection, "'The nearly 2,400 pages of curriculum from Hillsdale College in Michigan includes lessons on the founding of the U.S., the Civil War and the American government'."


Monday, July 26, 2021

David Simon and Edward Burns, The Corner

At Amazon, David Simon and Edward Burns, The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood.

The Fate of Affirmative Action

An excellent, in-depth report, from Nicolas Lemann, at New York, "Can Affirmative Action Survive?":

1. The History

In June, 2016, Justice Samuel Alito took the unusual step of reading aloud from the bench a version of his lengthy dissent in the case of Fisher v. University of Texas. A white applicant who had been denied admission had sued, saying that she’d been discriminated against because of her race. The Supreme Court, by the narrowest of margins and on the narrowest of grounds, upheld Texas’s admissions policy. Alito, with steely indignation, picked apart the logic of U.T.’s arguments and of his colleagues’ majority opinion. “This is affirmative action gone berserk,” he declared.

The civil-rights revolution ended the Jim Crow system of legally mandated racial segregation in the South. Its success made it obvious that much of the rest of the country was segregated, too, in fact if not always explicitly by law. In the years after the passage of the major civil-rights legislation, many colleges and universities made a concerted effort to become more racially integrated. Alito was complaining about U.T.’s version of this effort, but affirmative action has been controversial from the beginning, because more Black students usually means fewer students of other ethnicities. Students who weren’t Black used the laws banning racial discrimination to claim that universities were now discriminating in favor of Black people, and against them.

Alito concluded his dissent with an impassioned statement: “What is at stake is whether university administrators may justify systematic racial discrimination simply by asserting that such discrimination is necessary to achieve ‘the educational benefits of diversity,’ without explaining—much less proving—why the discrimination is needed or how the discriminatory plan is well crafted to serve its objectives.” In his view, the University of Texas, once the target of a civil-­rights lawsuit charging it with discriminating against Black people, was now discriminating, just as unacceptably, against others. He went on, “Even though U.T. has never provided any coherent explanation for its asserted need to discriminate on the basis of race, and even though U.T.’s position relies on a series of unsupported and noxious racial assumptions, the majority concludes that U.T. has met its heavy burden. This conclusion is remarkable—and remarkably wrong.”

Affirmative action is one of many policies—not just in admissions but also in employment, contracting, education, and voting—that take race into account, as a way of reversing the effects of many more policies, lasting for many more years, that openly discriminated against Black people. The Supreme Court has been ruling on these policies for half a century. In 1954, the Court joined the civil-rights revolution in a unanimous decision declaring legally segregated public schools to be unconstitutional. Since then, it has had a much harder time making up its mind in cases involving race.

The Court has considered affirmative action in university admissions six times. The first time, the Justices wound up declaring the case moot. The second time, they voted 5–4 against an explicit, numerical version of affirmative action, and 5–4 in favor of a less explicit version. The third and fourth times involved two lawsuits against the University of Michigan, which the Court decided simultaneously. In one, it ruled against another explicit, numerical version of affirmative action by a 6–3 vote, and in the other it once again voted 5–4 in favor of a less explicit version. The fifth time was the University of Texas case; the Court sent it back to a lower court for reconsideration. That led to the sixth time, in 2016. It decided, by a one-vote margin, in favor of keeping a soft-edged kind of affirmative action that relies on the judgment of an admissions office to use race appropriately when considering an applicant. Is there any issue on which the Supreme Court has produced less clarity? But one thing has been true every time the Court has upheld a form of affirmative action in admissions: the swing vote in the decisions came from a moderate Justice appointed by a Republican President—a breed that no longer exists.

The nine Justices are now considering whether to hear Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard, which accuses Harvard of discriminating against Asian American candidates. The case was organized by Edward Blum, a financial adviser who for more than twenty-­five years has been bringing lawsuits against various efforts to take race explicitly into account with the aim of helping people of color—including the Texas case. Another of Blum’s cases, which accuses the University of North Carolina of rejecting white and Asian American applicants because of their race, is currently moving through the lower courts.

The country appears to be embarking on a great racial reckoning. A year ago, the murder of George Floyd by the white police officer Derek Chauvin set off some of the largest public demonstrations in American history, and prompted forceful official statements of opposition to racism by just about every prominent institution in America. Joe Biden has repeatedly called for racial equity, using unusually strong language. Many organizations have issued public pledges to recommit themselves to racial diversity, to more fully acknowledge Black history, and to more extensively represent Black perspectives. And a conservative resistance to all these changes is under way, in Congress and state legislatures, in the media, and in the courts, where there are new legal challenges to race-­conscious Biden Administration programs. It’s distinctly possible that the Supreme Court, as early as next year, could signal that it considers efforts aimed explicitly at helping Black people to be unconstitutional.

In June, the Court asked the Biden Administration to give its views on the Harvard case. If the Court decides to take it, that would be seen as good news by the plaintiffs and bad news by Harvard, which has won in the lower courts. It would be the Court’s first affirmative-­action case involving a private university, although Harvard, like all major research universities, receives a great deal of government funding. Given the current makeup of the Court, it’s hard to imagine that it would be inclined to build a bigger, friendlier space for race-­conscious policies. There is no reason to believe that Justice Alito has changed his mind in the five years since his dissent in the U.T. case.

Two other conservative Justices who have been consistently hostile to affirmative action—Clarence Thomas and Chief Justice John Roberts—signed on to Alito’s dissent. Roberts has referred to race-conscious policies as “a sordid business.” Anthony Kennedy, the now retired, moderate Republican-appointed Justice who wrote the majority opinion in the Texas case, had in the past been inclined to vote against affirmative action. Joan Biskupic revealed in her recent biography of Justice Sonia Sotomayor that when the case first came before the Court, in 2012, Sotomayor had initially drafted a “heated opinion,” offering “a fierce defense of affirmative action.” When she sensed that Kennedy was moving away from his former position, she decided not to issue it and instead wound up voting for his opinion, in 2016, when the case came back to the Court. Now there are six Republican-appointed Justices on the Court, three of them—Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett—appointed in the past four years, by Donald Trump.

A particularly firm conservative decision would amount to an invitation to further lawsuits challenging state and local measures designed to increase Black employment, electoral power, and economic resources. On race, it’s by no means clear that the Supreme Court has shared in the resurgence of passion for racial-justice issues that has swept through many other leading American institutions. This could be one of those Court decisions which set off not just private legal readjustments but public demonstrations, and years of political organizing. There is little common ground between people who see explicitly racial remedies as justifiable and necessary and people who see them as morally indistinguishable from the Jim Crow laws.

It will be fitting if the Court takes the Harvard case. The long-running battles over affirmative action involve a clash between two opposing principles, both arguably invented at Harvard: meritocracy and diversity. At large universities, it is possible to employ both principles at once, since the institutions have to balance many goals that sometimes seem at odds. But in the national debate, because people tend to choose either meritocracy or diversity, it’s important to understand where the ideas came from.

In 1933, James Bryant Conant, a chemist, became the president of Harvard. Unlike his immediate predecessors, who were Boston Brahmins, Conant grew up in middle-class Dorchester, not one of Boston’s patrician precincts. During Harvard’s almost four-hundred-­year history, it has organized itself along a number of different principles, beginning with its founding mission to train ministers. Conant’s predecessor, Abbott Lawrence Lowell, had overseen an institution dominated by students from wealthy families in the Northeast who had been educated at New England boarding schools. Lowell had introduced a quota restricting the number of Jewish students and a policy of residential segregation for Harvard’s few Black students. Conant wanted to make Harvard more purely academic, like the great research universities in Europe, so the clubby atmosphere of the place struck him as something that had to change.

Conant became entranced with the idea of using standardized intelligence tests as a way to attract academically outstanding public-school graduates from all over the country, regardless of their socioeconomic backgrounds. He decided that the best test available was the SAT, a multiple-choice test adapted from an I.Q. test given to Army inductees during the First World War. Immensely influential in the world of education, Conant led a successful effort to make the SAT a critical part of the admissions process for millions of college applicants, and to make other I.Q.-like tests a key screening device for graduate and professional schools. This consequential policy was established with no legislative action and little or no public debate.

During the nineteen-forties, Conant wrote a series of manifestos proposing a vast remaking of American society. The best known of these, titled “Wanted: American Radicals,” was published in The Atlantic Monthly. Conant hoped to create a Cold War version of Plato’s Republic, with a new class of brainy, selfless, superbly educated men leading the competition with the Soviet Union. As he perceived it, standardized tests would bring to the best universities the most talented students, who would go on to become highly influential public servants. This position wasn’t completely wrong. One of the first SAT-selected scholarship students to attend Harvard, which was all-male at the time, was James Tobin, the son of a sports-information director at the University of Illinois, who distinguished himself as a Nobel Prize-winning economist, a professor at Yale, and a member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. One of Tobin’s students was Janet Yellen, the daughter of a Brooklyn family doctor, who is now the Secretary of the Treasury.

But Conant was mistaken in believing that he could use the SAT as a way to create a classless society. He liked to predict that, in the postwar world, inherited privilege would be abolished. In 1958, Michael Young, a British sociologist, introduced the word “meritocracy,” warning that the widespread use of I.Q. tests as a sorting device would result in a new and deeply resented kind of hereditary class system. But that’s not how people came to understand the term. To many, it denoted an almost sacred principle: that tickets to success, formerly handed out by inheritance or luck, were now given to the deserving. Inevitably, the system became widely understood not as an entry point into public service but as a promise of financial reward and social prestige. And fortunate parents learned how to manipulate the system, insuring that their children received every possible advantage—or even, in extreme cases, bribing their children’s way into élite universities.

White establishment liberals of Conant’s generation almost never considered race when they thought about the American future. In the summer of 1948, Henry Chauncey, an assistant dean under Conant who became the first president of the Educational Testing Service, was stunned to read an article co-written by one of the most prominent Black academics in the country, the anthropologist Allison Davis, who argued that intelligence tests were a fraud—a way of wrapping the privileged children of the middle and upper classes in a mantle of scientifically demonstrated superiority. The tests, he and his co-author, Robert J. Havighurst, pointed out, measured only “a very narrow range of mental activities,” and carried “a strong cultural handicap for pupils of lower socioeconomic groups.” Chauncey, who was convinced that standardized tests represented a wondrous scientific advance, wrote in his diary about Davis and Havighurst, “They take the extreme and, I believe, radical point of view that any test items showing different difficulties for different socioeconomic groups are inappropriate.” And: “If ability has any relation to success in life parents in upper socioeconomic groups should have more ability than those in lower socioeconomic groups.”

But that thought contradicted Co­nant’s assurance that the American radical he wanted to put in charge of the country would be “a fanatical believer in equality,” committed to “wielding the axe against the root of inherited privilege.” As the civil-rights movement grew, universities wanted to integrate more seriously, and standardized tests complicated their commitment. Testing made it possible to create a numerical ranking of all applicants, which helped enormously in handling the crush at the gates of selective institutions. Yet there had always been substantial average Black-white gaps in test scores—a reflection of the divergent quality of education and other resources in the lives of Black and white Americans. Conant’s efforts had resulted in greatly increasing the importance of tests, but the enhanced integration, beginning in the nineteen-sixties, of Harvard and other colleges and universities required decreasing their importance.

By the early nineteen-seventies, rejected white applicants at a number of universities were beginning to sue—charging that the schools had engaged in reverse discrimination. The plaintiffs based their legal arguments on two landmarks in the country’s historic quest for racial justice, the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, both of which forbade racial discrimination. Those measures were aimed at helping Black people, but, the plaintiffs argued, they applied equally to white people who had been rejected even though their test scores were higher than those of admitted Black applicants. In these lawsuits, admissions based on standardized test scores had risen to the level of a constitutional right.

The first celebrated white litigant against an affirmative-action program was Marco DeFunis, who had been turned down by the University of Washington’s law school. In 1974, the Supreme Court declared DeFunis’s case moot because a lower court had ordered that he be admitted to the law school, and by the time the Court ruled he was close to graduating. Supporters of affirmative action were worried. Mainstream Jewish organizations, seeing affirmative action as a possible harbinger of a return of Jewish quotas at universities, took DeFunis’s side. Alexander Bickel, of Yale Law School, one of the country’s most prominent legal scholars, co-wrote an anti-affirmative- action friend-of-the-court brief for the Anti-Defamation League. The sociologist Nathan Glazer wrote a book called “Affirmative Discrimination.” The Supreme Court’s most theatri­cal­ly liberal white member, William O. Douglas, wrote a solo opinion that treated affirmative action as unconstitutional. The Fourteenth Amendment, he wrote, “commands the elimination of racial barriers, not their creation in order to satisfy our theory as to how society ought to be organized.” The feeling that issues involving race had obvious solutions, which had prevailed at the Court in 1954, had evaporated. Justices were predisposed to see affirmative action as presenting a bewildering conflict between two competing values: the impulse to integrate universities and the impulse to organize admission as an open competition in which each individual applicant would be judged solely on the basis of grades and test scores...

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