Monday, April 12, 2021
I Now Track the Most Important Measure of the Fed’s Economy: the “Wealth Effect” and How it Impacts Americans Individually | Wolf Street
The Federal Reserve is pursuing monetary policies that are explicitly designed to inflate asset prices. The rationalization is that ballooning asset prices will create the “wealth effect.” This is a concept Janet Yellen, when she was still president of the San Francisco Fed, propagated in a paper. In 2010, Fed Chair Ben Bernanke explained the wealth effect to the American people in a Washington Post editorial. And in early 2020, Fed Chair Jerome Powell pushed the wealth effect all the way to miracle levels.
Today we will see the per-capita progress of that wealth effect – what it means and what it accomplishes – based on the Fed’s wealth distribution data through Q4 2020, and based on Census Bureau estimates for the US population over the years. Here are some key results. At the end of 2020, the per-capita wealth (assets minus debts) of:
- The 1% = $11.7 million per person (green);
- The next 9% = $1.6 million per person (blue);
- The 50% to 90% = $42,083 per person (red line at the bottom).
- The bottom 50% = $15,027 per person. That amount of wealth is so small it doesn’t show up on this per-capita chart that is on a scale of wealth that accommodates the 1%.
The total population in 2020, according to the Census Bureau, was 330 million people. The 1% amount to 3.3 million people. Back in 2000, the population was 283 million people, and the 1% amounted to 2.8 million people. So the 1% has grown by 473,000 people because the population has gotten larger. And the 50% – the have-nots, as we’ll see in a moment – have grown by 24 million people.
This is just insane, especially if you consider that no actual wealth is being created. The units of account are just being changed so that the wealth created is divided differently. This stark and growing inequality is causing, I speculate, in ways not well understood, the proliferation of the crazy and violent politics of our era. It's madness, I tell you, madness!
Chomsky’s Spockian insistence that his adult self is immune to such temptations has led some fiercer critics to scoff at his habit of batting away questions about atrocities committed by other countries as a kind of reverse chauvinism, a calculated pose rooted in some unknown pathology, leading to overcorrections back in the direction of America’s bad behavior. Surely he doesn’t really believe the U.S. government is worse than al-Qaeda?
Then you watch “Collateral Murder,” or film of American cluster bombs dropped in the cities of Yemen, or our Air Force dropping thousands of tons of bombs on civilians in North Vietnam — speaking of sports, one such bombing campaign was called Operation Linebacker — and Chomsky becomes harder to argue with. Suddenly we’re glad he’s no flag-waver, because who else is going to point these things out?
This is why I’ve always admired Chomsky a great deal, even if I sometimes disagree with his politics (or his takes on sports for that matter). Unafraid of criticism, few people of his stature in American life are willing to do what he does. He is clearly a man of principle, a character trait that might have gotten him in even more trouble had he come of political age in the Internet era. His defense of the speech rights of Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson is still brought up by critics and sticks to his name like flypaper on Twitter.
More evidence that he’s honest broker lay in the fact, as Christopher Hitchens once noted, that over time, “the more Chomsky was vindicated, the less he seemed to command ‘respect’” from mainstream pundits. His fame has grown in inverse relationship to the number of his green room invites. Although American political life has moved toward him, as noted below, he’s still largely an unperson to the networks and the newsrooms of the great dailies like the Times, who’ll never forgive him for being right about everything from the civil rights movement to Vietnam to Iraq. Even his views on Russiagate (“farcical,” he said) identify him as an outside-the-tenter, confirmed in his shameful lack of deference to the manufacturers of consent.
Chomsky says he is a "libertarian socialist" which makes him half-right, I guess. Or, possibly all wrong, as being incoherent.
China's failure to provide access to global health experts made the COVID-19 pandemic worse than it had to be, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said on Sunday, and it was important to "get to the bottom" of the origin of the novel coronavirus.
The top U.S. diplomat's sharp words underscored criticism from other members of the Biden administration over Beijing's lack of transparency in the crucial early days of the pandemic.
China did not give access to international experts or share information in real time to provide true transparency, Blinken said in an interview with NBC's "Meet the Press."
As a result, the virus "got out of hand faster and with, I think, much more egregious results than it might otherwise," Blinken said.
The World Health Organization director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said on March 30 that data was withheld from WHO investigators who traveled to China to research the origins of the pandemic.
Blinken needs to be investigated. He's saying things that could lead to violence against Asian-Americans.
Ramsey Clark, who championed civil rights and liberties as attorney general in the Johnson administration, then devoted much of the rest of his life to defending unpopular causes and infamous people, including Saddam Hussein and others accused of war crimes, died on Friday at his home in Manhattan. He was 93.
His niece Sharon Welch announced the death.
In becoming the nation’s top law enforcement official, Mr. Clark was part of an extraordinary father-and-son trade-off in the federal halls of power. His appointment prompted his father, Justice Tom C. Clark, to resign from the United States Supreme Court to avoid the appearance of any conflict of interest involving cases in which the federal government might come before that bench.
To fill Justice Clark’s seat, President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed Thurgood Marshall, who became the first African-American to serve on the Supreme Court.
We all know that we are living in revolutionary times. The origins, ascendence, values, laws, and future of the United States are all under assault by self-described, though accurately described, revolutionaries.
It is a Jacobin, Bolshevik, or Maoist moment. All aspects of life, well beyond politics, are now to be ideologically conditioned. Everything from kindergarten messaging, cartoons, workplace reeducation, and television commercials to college admissions, baseball games, and the airlines are to be “fundamentally transformed” along racial lines.
Long gone is Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream of a colorblind society. Gone, at least at the state level, is confidence in the melting pot of assimilation, integration, and intermarriage (although mixed marriages and multiracial children are at an all-time high).
Gone are even the affirmative-action doctrines of proportional representation and disparate impact. (Yet the two mandates were always arbitrarily applied, in the sense that the U.S. Postal Service and the professional football and basketball leagues never paid much attention to racial quotas based on demographic percentages, which apparently only applied to white and Asian “overrepresentation” elsewhere).
Wokeism, however, is essentially tribal. It seeks to identify particular nonwhite constituencies, unite them not by identical class, not by similar skin color, not by collective similar history, not by shared experience, not by mutual cultural affinities, not by longstanding historical alliances, but simply by two premises:
1) Those of the woke collective are either claimants to being “nonwhite,” and thus victims of racism, or they are architects and supporters of the wokeist agenda, and: 2) they can thereby all either directly leverage reparatory concessions in hiring, admissions, careers, compensation, and general influence or ensure the revolutionary guillotine exempts themselves.
A cynic might add that much of this new racialism is a product of globalteering, and seeks to cater to huge foreign markets—China especially—by both “looking more like the world,” and delighting America’s critics, while appeasing far less moral audiences and consumers abroad than a perceived shrinking market at home.
Still for the woke revolution to succeed, a number of experiments will have to go its way.
VDH. I used to think he was a bit too radical on Wokeism. Now I'm not so sure.
A Brooklyn Center police officer fatally shot a man during a traffic stop Sunday afternoon, inflaming already raw tensions between police and community members in the midst of the Derek Chauvin trial.
Relatives of Daunte Wright, 20, who is Black, told a tense crowd gathered at the scene in the northern Minneapolis suburb Sunday afternoon that Wright drove for a short distance after he was shot, crashed his car, and died at the scene.
Protesters later walked to the Brooklyn Center police headquarters near N. 67th Avenue and N. Humboldt Avenue and were locked in a standoff with police in riot gear late Sunday night. Officers repeatedly ordered the crowd of about 500 to disperse as protesters chanted Wright's name and climbed atop the police headquarters sign, by then covered in graffiti. Police used tear gas, flash bangs and rubber bullets on the crowd.
National Guard troops arrived just before midnight as looters targeted the Brooklyn Center Walmart and nearby shopping mall. Several businesses around the Walmart were completely destroyed, including Foot Locker, T Mobile, and a New York men's clothing store.
Looting was widespread late Sunday into early Monday, spilling into north and south Minneapolis. Reports said that stores in Uptown and along Lake Street were also being looted.
Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott issued a curfew order until 6 a.m. Monday. Precautions were being taken into Monday, with Brooklyn Center canceling or closing all school buildings, programs and activities.
In Beijing’s corridors of power, Mr. Trump was derisively known as “a great unifier”—America’s aggressive actions were unifying support in China for the party and Mr. Xi.
America’s chaotic pandemic response, followed by a summer of racial upheaval and the Jan. 6 Capitol storming, solidified his faith in the Chinese system’s superiority, Chinese officials say. In internal meetings, they say, he compares American democracy to “a sheet of loose sand” and declares that the one-party system allows him to get things done.
With Mr. Biden in the White House, China has continued a hard-line approach, signaling that companies not following Beijing’s rules will lose access to the Chinese market. Swedish clothing brand Hennes & Mauritz AB recently met with a strong social-media rage and consumer boycott in China over its stance against sourcing cotton from Xinjiang. Chinese authorities have restricted military personnel and employees of certain state-owned companies from using electric vehicles made by America’s Tesla Inc., citing national-security risks including concerns about the cars’ cameras. H&M declined to comment. Tesla, which didn’t respond to requests for comment, said last week that its cameras aren’t activated outside North America.
“Nobody has forced them to stay in China,” Mr. Yang said in Anchorage, regarding U.S. companies doing business in China.
Dozens of chief executives and other senior leaders gathered on Zoom this weekend to plot what several said big businesses should do next about new voting laws under way in Texas and other states.
Kenneth Chenault, the former chief executive of American Express Co. , and Kenneth Frazier, CEO of Merck & Co., urged the leaders to collectively call for greater voting access, according to several people who attended. Messrs. Chenault and Frazier cautioned businesses against dropping the issue and asked CEOs to sign a statement opposing what they view as discriminatory legislation on voting, the people said.
A statement could come early this week, the people said, and would build on one that 72 Black executives signed last month in the wake of changes to Georgia’s voting laws. Mr. Chenault told executives on the call that several leaders had signaled they would sign on, including executives at PepsiCo Inc., PayPal Holdings Inc., T. Rowe Price Group Inc. and Hess Corp. , among others, according to the people. PayPal confirmed it has signed the statement. PepsiCo, T. Rowe Price and Hess didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
As protests broke out across the country in the name of Black Lives Matter, the group’s co-founder went on a real estate buying binge, snagging four high-end homes for $3.2 million in the US alone, according to property records.
Hmmmn, seems kinda grifty alright.
i sing of Olaf glad and big
whose warmest heart recoiled at war:
a conscientious object-or
his wellbelovéd colonel(trig
westpointer most succinctly bred)
took erring Olaf soon in hand;
but--though an host of overjoyed
noncoms(first knocking on the head
him)do through icy waters roll
that helplessness which others stroke
with brushes recently employed
anent this muddy toiletbowl,
while kindred intellects evoke
allegiance per blunt instruments--
Olaf(being to all intents
a corpse and wanting any rag
upon what God unto him gave)
responds,without getting annoyed
"I will not kiss your fucking flag"
That darn Olaf.
MISSION, Texas —
Anyone paying attention to the news knows the situation on the U.S.-Mexico border is terrible. Anyone who actually visits the border discovers it is worse than that.
Here is what is most striking about the government's response to the unprecedented surge of illegal border crossers: It is entirely improvised. Jury-rigged. Thrown together in a scramble to accommodate thousands of migrants who were not coming just months ago. And the reason it is being improvised is that during his first days in office, President Joe Biden blew up the foundation of the government's handling of migrants. With a series of executive actions, Biden threw out key policieswith nothing ready to replace them. And he did it using rhetoric that invited migrants to rush to the border — more than 172,000 in March alone, including nearly 19,000 unaccompanied children.
Now the government's leading agencies, Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Department of Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, are desperately trying to put together a new system to deal with the damage Biden's hurried and irresponsible acts have done. Under administration orders, they are no longer really trying to prevent people from entering the U.S. illegally. Rather, they are attempting to humanely house and feed the thousands prior to releasing them into the country. The border's guardians are overwhelmed and increasingly giving way to bureaucratic pressure to let most people in.
Sunday, April 11, 2021
Of the 123,500 Marines who have had access to the vaccine, 75,500 Marines are either fully vaccinated or have received one dose, and about 48,000 have declined it, Communication Strategy and Operations Officer Capt. Andrew Woods told USA TODAY.
"We fully understand that widespread acceptance of the COVID-19 vaccine provides us with the best means to defeat this pandemic. The key to addressing this pandemic is building vaccine confidence," he said, confirming a statistic first reported by CNN.
Woods said the Navy and Marines were working to ensure that soldiers have accurate information about the safety of the vaccine.
I got my second jab last week. It made me feel sh*tty, but just a bit, in a whole new way. But now nothing can touch me!
But it hadn’t, as government officials acknowledged from the beginning. It was, instead, an illusion created by corporate tax games. At the time, I dubbed it “leprechaun economics,” a coinage that has stuck; luckily, the Irish have a sense of humor about themselves.
What really happened? Ireland is a tax haven, with a very low tax rate on corporate profits. This gives multinational corporations an incentive to create Irish subsidiaries, then use creative accounting to ensure that a large share of their reported global profits accrue to those subsidiaries.
This use of "leprechaun" is condescending, racist, unfunny and generally bad. The NYT should cancel Krugman. I'm half Irish and I feel demeaned by his feeble attempt at humor. He wouldn't be making Irish jokes if he had suffered discrimination for being Irish. I think that's about it.
MIAMI — No one had to tell Ron DeSantis that his mock debates had bordered on disastrous. His answers rambled. He seemed uninspired.
By the time he got to the greenroom of the biggest political stage of his career, a Republican primary debate for Florida governor in June 2018, he had made a risky decision.
“I thought about everything we did in debate practice,” his campaign manager, Brad Herold, recalled Mr. DeSantis telling him. “I’m going to throw it out and do my own thing.”
At the debate’s start, the audience applauded louder for his better-known opponent, Adam Putnam. By its end — after he had cast Mr. Putnam as a vestige of old Republicanism and delivered a rat-a-tat of one-liners — Mr. DeSantis had taken command of the crowd.
Nearly three years and a pandemic later, Mr. DeSantis’s inclination to keep his own counsel and drive hard at reopening Florida has made him perhaps the most recognizable Republican governor in the country and a favorite of the party faithful. In turn, he has become a polarizing leader in the resistance to lengthy pandemic lockdowns, ignoring the advice of some public health experts in ways that have left his state’s residents bitterly divided over the costs and benefits of his actions.
When Emilee Carpenter opened her wedding photography business in a small hamlet in upstate New York, she probably never expected to wind up being at the center of a lawsuit that would be drawing national attention and controversy. And yet that’s precisely what has happened. Ms. Carpenter is running afoul of recent anti-discrimination laws that were passed in the Empire State, specifically relating to how businesses are allowed to advertise their services when members of the LGBT community might be involved. The state insists that Carpenter’s website must feature pictures celebrating same-sex marriages since she includes photos from traditional marriages. The problem is that Carpenter is a Christian who opposes such unions and argues that the state is attempting to control her protected speech. This led her to bring a lawsuit against state Attorney General Letitia James, challenging the state’s ability to enforce the law. (Free Beacon)
Earlier this week, a couple of people who are familiar faces in the ufology community released some new data on military engagements with Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP or UFOs for you old-school folks). The first was Nevada journalist George Knapp, who, in addition to his regular reporting work, has been covering the entire UFO subject for decades and he’s a close confidant of Harry Reid. Writing at Mystery Wire, Knap released three previously undisclosed photos of anomalous objects purportedly filmed by Navy pilots in 2019. The day after that, filmmaker Jeremy Corbell released a brief (19 second) video on his website from a different encounter later that year, showing what were described as “pyramid-shaped” UFOs buzzing some of our naval forces. (I’ll embed the video at the end. To see the pictures you’ll need to click through to Mystery Wire’s site.)
Well, at least Lizard People are still a joke. Right?
But the op-ed very quickly takes some most un-lawyerly turns.
First, the authors say, Professor Smith's post "echoes" certain "theories" about the origin of the virus that (unnamed) "people" hold because they are "seeking a culprit" for hardships. But, as the three authors surely know, other people holding theories have nothing to do with whether Professor Smith is creating a hostile learning environment or whether for other reasons a hostile environment exists at San Diego Law.
Second, the three authors list recent acts of violence against Asian Americans in various parts of the country. These incidents, too, as the authors also must know, are not relevant to whether a hostile learning environment exists at San Diego Law.
Third, the authors call on the law school to "conduct an open and transparent investigation, identifying those who are conducting it, what they are reviewing, and their conclusions and recommendations." Setting aside whether there really is anything to "investigate," that approach sounds fair enough. But then here are the very next sentences these three lawyers pen: "We urge the law school to accommodate students who find professor Smith’s views hostile by offering those currently enrolled in his classes alternative instructors or credits without penalty. Absent an apology for all of his statements and corrective action, we believe professor Smith should not teach compulsory classes and his statements should be disclosed to prospective students of the classes he does teach." In other words, we've already decided what the investigation must show so we can move right to punishment.
Finally, don't miss the whopping distortion of hostile environment standards in the quoted sentences above: "... students who find Professor Smith's views hostile..." (emphases added). That's not remotely how it works.
Let's hope that the administrators at San Diego Law handling this matter can do much better.
ICYMI as I did.
Saturday, April 10, 2021
Police visit the home of California podcaster after he posted a tweet criticizing AOC | Daily Mail Online
'If this was like a purely intimidation thing then I guess it did its job. It’s not comforting to be on the receiving end of that.
'But at the same time, they’re not going to shut the left up.'
Tucker Carlson fumed on his FOX show on Friday night that it is the latest in a string of examples of the left trying to censor conservative voices.
He said Wentz had merely pointed out that AOC didn't know what she was talking about when she gave the interview.
She had been asked about how to bring peace to the Middle East. She replied: 'You know, earlier, just now, you and I were talking about the "what" and the "how." And I think that when we talk about peace, centering people’s humanity, protecting people’s rights – it’s not just about the "what" and the end goal, which often gets a lot of focus, but I actually think it’s much more about the "how", and the way we are coming together, and how we interpret that "what", and how we act in, you know, the actions we take to get to that "what."
I have not nor will I ever call the CCP or the PRC government underwhelming. They are not underwhelming. If anything, they are downright overwhelming. There. I think I'm good.
Friday, April 9, 2021
Peter Burke, an English cultural historian and author of a new study called The Polymath, defines his subject as “someone who is interested in learning about many subjects.”1 To qualify for the title, one needs to have exhibited a reasonable mastery over several subjects, a mastery generally evidenced by published works upon them or by inventions that issued from them. The goal of the true polymath is encyclopedic in the sense that he desires to get round as large a portion of the circle of knowledge as he can. Other terms for the polymath over the years have included polyhistor, Renaissance man, generalist, man of letters. Pansophia, or universal wisdom, is the often unspoken-of, and even less often achieved, goal of much polymathy. The distinction between learning and wisdom is one of the leitmotifs that plays through The Polymath.
The subtitle of the book is “A Cultural History from Leonardo da Vinci to Susan Sontag,” which suggests a long sad slide downhill in the history of polymathy. But, then, knowledge has greatly widened, without, alas, having notably deepened. The goal of universal knowledge itself has long been seen as foolish or exhibitionistic. Even as early as the mid-18th century, Diderot’s and d’Alembert’s Encyclopédie defined polymathy as “often nothing more than a confused mass of useless knowledge” offered “to put on a show.”Listen and Subscribe to the Commentary Podcast
Today’s podcast looks at the media coverage of the murder trial of police officer Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis with the clear suggestion that the full story of what is going on in the courtroom is not being made clear enough to the American people. And will moderate Democrats hold Joe Biden accountable for moving farther to the Left than he suggested he would during the campaign? Give a listen.
‘Complete and utter crap.’ That’s how Bill Michael, until recently UK chair of global accountancy firm KPMG, described the concept of unconscious bias to his apparently stunned staff. ‘There is no such thing as unconscious bias’, he elaborated. ‘I don’t buy it. Because after every single unconscious-bias training that has ever been done, nothing’s ever improved.’ As is the custom nowadays, Michael issued a public apology before tendering his resignation. This is a shame because his comments were not that far wide of the mark. As I explore in a new report for Civitas, the anti-racism training industry does little to improve outcomes for BAME people and, worse, breathes new life back into racial thinking.
After months of battles between the Chicago Public Schools district (CPS) and the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), as well as the municipal government, high schools in the Windy City are set to reopen for in-person classes on April 19th. (Most K-8 schools have at least partially reopened at this point.) Or at least they were. With the reopening already announced and emails going out to families explaining the details, the situation looked largely resolved at last. But that’s when CTU President Jesse Sharkey stepped in yet again to try to slam the brakes on the process, in what CBS News described as a “snag” in the negotiations. He’s citing rising numbers of new COVID cases in the city and positive test results in some of the schools that have already reopened as the reason for yet another delay. And, as usual, the CTU has its usual set of demands to be met before the high school teachers will return to do their jobs. (CBS Chicago)
Joe Biden, Who Says He’s ‘Not a Fan of Court Packing,’ Just Created a Presidential Commission to Study Court Packing – Reason.com
The White House announced today that President Joe Biden will sign an executive order creating a new Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court of the United States. The group will be composed of legal activists and scholars who will "provide an analysis of the principal arguments in the contemporary public debate for and against Supreme Court reform," according to a statement released by the White House. Among the items up for discussion by the commission are "the length of service and turnover of justices on the Court" and "the membership and size of the Court."
The commission fulfills one of Biden's campaign promises. "If elected," Biden told 60 Minutes, "I'll put together a national…bipartisan commission of scholars, constitutional scholars. Democrats, Republicans. Liberal, conservative. And I will ask them to, over 180 days, come back to me with recommendations as to how to reform the court system, because it's getting out of whack."
Open. The. Schools.
It’s been more than a year since schools closed for the COVID-19 virus. Across the country and across the world, schools have opened up, full-time, for students.
But those of us unlucky enough to live in places with powerful teachers unions and, more importantly, weak leadership, have heard excuse after excuse how it’s just not possible here.
Enough. Open the schools.
Stop lying to parents and dangling promises. Just open.
Thursday, April 8, 2021
Oxford professors' excellent thread on viewpoint diversity and the left's sneering dismissal of it – HotAir
Teresa Bejan is an associate professor of political science at Oxford University who I’ve written about before. Last summer she posted an insightful thread about the nature of free speech. Yesterday she posted a related thread on Twitter about viewpoint diversity. You’re probably familiar with the term which, simply put, means the idea of having a variety of ideological views represented at the table in the same way you might seek to have racial diversity. But the idea of viewpoint diversity often gets shrugged off by progressives who are fond of suggesting something along the lines of why represent the views of troglodytes at a university.
Today Bejan addressed those issues in a thread on Twitter, making a case that viewpoint diversity should be welcome and that those who dismiss it would never dismiss any other claims of insufficient diversity.
Earlier this week, we discussed the news that Washington and Tehran were resuming back-channel negotiations regarding that country’s nuclear program. At that time, I speculated that there were two possible explanations for how this rapprochement came about. One was that the Iranians had finally given up hope of any concessions coming from the new administration and had decided to see what sort of offer might be on the table. The other was that Joe Biden had signaled that he would cave to Iran’s demands that sanctions be lifted prior to any renewed discussions. Well, break out your spelunking gear, because it looks like the big cave is underway. (Free Beacon)
It’s been a while since we heard from former California Democratic Congresswoman Katie Hill. As you likely recall, her very brief congressional career was probably best known for her participation in a “throuple” with her now ex-husband and a female campaign staffer, along with other allegations of inappropriate relationships. One controversial part of her story involved the release of nude photographs of Hill by the ex-husband. Hill described that release as “revenge porn” and brought lawsuits against the publishers who ran the pictures, including the Daily Mail. That lawsuit has now been settled, with a judge in Los Angeles tossing the suit, saying that both the story and the photos were protected by the First Amendment and were of compelling interest to the public. (Daily Mail)
Between 1940 and 1944 a clandestine network of Polish diplomats and their Jewish partners in Switzerland created illegal Latin American passports that saved thousands of lives. Half of the documents were forged by one person—Polish Vice Consul in Berne Konstanty Rokicki.
Wednesday, April 7, 2021
The irresponsible complaint about Professor Tom Smith's blog post criticizing the Chinese government has now been forwarded to the University "for review." This is a disgrace and a direct attack on the academic freedom of every professor at USD, who are now on notice that if students file a frivolous complaint it will lead to an investigation and "review" (and possible sanction?). What a shame that Dean Schapiro should have torpedoed his own Deanship so soon after taking office with this spineless behavior. The faculty should demand his resignation.
Tuesday, April 6, 2021
Professor Nadine Strossen kindly gave permission me permission to share the letter she sent yesterday to Dean Robert Schapiro regarding the case we noted previously:
April 4, 2021
Dean Robert Schapiro
Warren Hall 200
University of San Diego School of Law
5998 Alcala Park
San Diego, CA 92110
Re: Prof. Tom Smith
Dear Dean Schapiro,
I have been following with concern the situation of USD Law School Professor Tom Smith, who has been unjustly accused by some students of racial bias for having expressed criticism of the government of the People’s Republic of China. Law students certainly should appreciate the distinction between criticizing specific government policies and expressing bias against people based on their racial/ethnic identities. However, from all the reports I have read, you did not explain this critical distinction to the students, but rather, endorsed the students’ misunderstanding. Perhaps these reports are inaccurate, and if so, I would be delighted to learn that you have in fact honored the academic freedom and free speech principles to which your fine law school has pledged adherence.
My sources of information include (in addition to multiple press accounts and commentaries that are critical of your actions) the detailed 3/22/21 letter that was sent to you by my colleagues in FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, on whose National Advisory Board I serve) and the 3/22/21 Press Release of the Academic Freedom Alliance (of which I am a Founding Member). For example, AFA’s Press Release stated the following:
The dean of the law school released a letter to the school characterizing [Prof. Smith’s] blog post as a form of “bias” that had “an adverse impact on our community” and noting that “university policies specifically prohibit harassment, including the use of epithets, derogatory comments, or slurs based on race or national origin, among other categories.” The dean promised that “there will be a process to review whether university or law school policies have been violated.” A separate letter was sent to the faculty objecting to the use of “offensive language” and declaring that “there is no place for language that demeans a particular national group.” These letters make clear that the dean has already prejudged the proper outcome for any disciplinary process on charges of alleged harassment.
FIRE’s letter invited you to notify it of any additional or different facts – other than those its letter recited -- and to the best of my knowledge you haven’t done so. Hence, I must for now assume, sadly, that the recitation is correct.
The students who objected to Professor Smith’s blog post themselves acknowledged that Professor Smith wrote critically about the Chinese government, not the Chinese people; their claim is that criticism of the Chinese government might somehow encourage attacks on people of Chinese or Asian origin. This is a formula for forbidding criticism of any government policies, which is a central right – indeed, arguably even a core responsibility -- of all members of an academic community. Moreover, suppressing U.S.-based critics of the Chinese government, such as Prof. Smith, hardly benefits Chi
White House press secretary on Tuesday said that CCP virus “vaccine passports” will not be developed or supported by the Biden administration, coming after several GOP governors issued executive orders barring them.
“The government is not now, nor will we be supporting a system that requires Americans to carry a credential. There will be no federal vaccinations database and no federal mandate requiring everyone to obtain a single vaccination credential,” Psaki told reporters on Tuesday at the White House.
Psaki last month responded to reports that the administration was working with private firms to create a passport system, saying the administration would provide guidance.
“Our interest is very simple from the federal government, which is American’s privacy and rights should be protected so that these systems are not used against people unfairly,” Psaki clarified Tuesday. She again said the government would provide guidance on privacy concerns related to vaccines.
I hope so.
The U.S. Supreme Court sided with Google this week in a major decision that some legal experts are hailing as a victory for programmers and consumers. The Court ruled that Google did not violate copyright law when it included parts of Oracle’s Java programming code in its Android operating system—ending a decade-long multibillion dollar legal battle.
The Court’s ruling in Google LLC v. Oracle America, Inc. upheld long standing industry practices that have furthered development of software that’s compatible with other programs, legal experts tell TIME. The ruling means copyright holders for software “can’t maintain a monopoly over critical interface aspects,” argues Jeanne Fromer, a professor of copyright law at New York University School of Law—and those aspects can be used by both users and programmers to more easily switch between products.
“This is huge for a vibrant tech industry to continue innovating,” says Fromer. “In fact, that’s what the tech industry has long been built on… if this [practice] had been forbidden, there’s so many things in fundamental aspects of software that we wouldn’t have today.”
The Court did not rule on the broader issue of whether the code in question could be copyrighted. Rather, Breyer wrote, “The Court assumes for argument’s sake that the copied lines can be copyrighted,” so it could focus on whether Google acted illegally. While a ruling on the copyright status “would have provided a clearer safe harbor for software developers,” writes Peter Menell, a professor of copyright law at University of California at Berkeley School of Law who filed an amicus brief in support of Google, it still “provides some assurance” for people looking to use a similar approach to develop products.
She’s said stuff like this before but today she’s reading from a prepared statement, a sign that they really want this message to penetrate. They’re not supporting passports. There’ll be no federal mandate to carry one and no federal database of vaccinated people for businesses to consult. The White House says N-O to restricting travel based on whether you have antibodies or not.
Of course, if local governments or private entities want to require proof of vaccination, that’s a different story.
That’s what NRO’s Wesley Smith is worried about. Yes, fine, great, says Smith, Fauci and now Psaki have said that the federal government won’t lay down any rules about vaccine passports. So what? Why would they need to issue their own orders and risk legal challenges if they can simply nudge private industry to require passports instead? It’s the Biden/MLB thing all over again. The president didn’t ask baseball to boycott Georgia, Psaki noted yesterday, he merely said that he’d strongly support them if they chose to move the All-Star Game out of Atlanta. Same goes for vaccine passports potentially. He’s not asking, let alone ordering, anyone to require them. He’ll just “strongly support” you if you choose to require them yourself.
Seems like there's a lot of this federal nudging lately of private actors to deploy the policies the feds prefer.
Question for Fauci: Why are Texas's cases still declining weeks after their mask mandate was lifted?
The correct answer is the one he won’t give. Namely, mask mandates may encourage compliance at the margins but they won’t affect what the great majority of residents do. Most people will wear masks voluntarily to protect themselves or others. Hardcore resisters won’t wear them and will dare the cops to penalize them for it. It’s only the third group, the people who dislike masks but aren’t weirdly ideologically committed to not wearing them, who might be convinced to don one by a mandate.
But that’s a small group, I suspect. Small enough that, even if cases are rising within that cohort now that the mandate has lifted, they might be falling statewide overall due to other mitigating factors.
So, to learn more about the putty-nosed monkey’s alarm calls, the researchers had to get creative. Stephan says the team opted for the most naturalistic disguise they could field-design: A team member covered himself in store-bought leopard-print fabric. While others observed, the low-tech leopard surrogate crept through the dense vegetation, inching toward a group of the monkeys. That’s when things got interesting.
Sounds like fun, if very uncomfortable.
WASHINGTON—The Supreme Court ruled for Alphabet Inc.’s Google in a multibillion-dollar battle with Oracle Corp. over elements of Google’s Android smartphone-operating system, a decision that could weaken software copyright protections but allow developers more room to build on each other’s products.
The court, in a 6-2 opinion Monday by Justice Stephen Breyer, threw out a lower-court ruling for Oracle that said Android infringed its copyrights on the Java software platform. The high court said Google’s copying of some Java API code was fair use. APIs, or application programming interfaces, are prewritten packages of computer code that allow programs, websites or apps to talk to one another.
“Google’s copying did not violate the copyright law,” Justice Breyer wrote.
Monday, April 5, 2021
The pro-life movement’s multidecade strategy, up to and including its fraught bargain with Donald Trump, appears to have succeeded. Thanks to the Trump White House and Mitch McConnell’s Senate, there is now a 6-to-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court, vetted by conservative legal activists and committed to principles of constitutional interpretation that seem to require sweeping Roe v. Wade away, or at least modifying it into obsolescence.
Yet instead of preparing to claim victory, in the last two weeks part of the anti-abortion movement has fallen into an acrimonious debate over a radical proposal — from the Australian philosopher and Notre Dame professor John Finnis, in the journal First Things, arguing that unborn human beings deserve protections under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The political implication of Finnis’s argument is that the pro-life movement’s longtime legal goal, overturning Roe and letting states legislate against abortion, is woefully insufficient, and in fact pro-life activists should be demanding that the Supreme Court declare a fetal right to life.
Finnis is not the first person to make that case, but the controversy it’s incited this time has been more intense, and in one sense strangely timed: An apparent hour of victory seems like an odd moment to fall to Twitter wrangling over a constitutional claim that most conservative jurists, from Robert Bork to Antonin Scalia, have consistently rejected.
A Professor Pushed Back Against ‘White Fragility’ Training. The College Investigated Her for 9 Months. – Reason.com
Nonetheless, a June 18 all-college email noted that the school's president, Amy Morrison, had "made clear the expectation that all full-time employees attend Friday's Courageous Conversations" unless they had conflicting teaching responsibilities. Parrett decided to express her qualms about the training during the training itself.
What happened over the next nine months was both bizarre and oppressive. Because of a brief disruption that easily could have been brushed aside or handled with a warning not to do it again, LWTech went to war against a tenured faculty member, launching a cartoonishly over-the-top disciplinary process that included the hiring of a private investigator, dozens of interviews, and claims of widespread trauma.
Parrett is far from a perfect victim. While she was under investigation, she became convinced that the election had been stolen from Donald Trump. She and her husband eventually attended the infamous "Stop the Steal" rally on January 6, 2021. (The two insist that they protested peacefully and did not enter the U.S. Capitol or participate in the riot.) Some people will likely discount her story because of her participation in an understandably reviled political demonstration, but that would be a mistake. What happened to Parrett, while not common, is part of a trend toward an intolerant approach to political differences—one in which disagreement on mainstream political issues is reframed as a form of harm.
WASHINGTON — “For many today, religious liberty is not a cherished freedom,” Justice Samuel Alito told the Federalist Society, the conservative legal group, in November. “It pains me to say this, but, in certain quarters, religious liberty is fast becoming a disfavored right.”
Those quarters do not include the Supreme Court, which has become far more likely to rule in favor of religious rights in recent years, according to a new study that considered 70 years of data.
The study, to be published in The Supreme Court Review, documented a 35-percentage-point increase in the rate of rulings in favor of religion in orally argued cases, culminating in an 81% success rate in the court led by Chief Justice John Roberts.
Thomas’ opinion amounts to an invitation to Congress to declare Twitter, Facebook and similar companies “common carriers,” essentially requiring them to host all customers regardless of their views. At the moment, the companies have sweeping authority to take down any post and to suspend or terminate any account.
The George H.W. Bush appointee’s complaints dovetail with those of Republican lawmakers and conservative activists who say big social media firms employ double standards that block or obscure more of the content they post when compared to posts by Democrats. The firms say they’re trying to prevent-real world harms caused by people advocating for violence or circulating misinformation on life-or-death topics like the coronavirus.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Technology companies sighed with relief Monday after the Supreme Court sided with Google in a copyright dispute with Oracle. The high court said Google did nothing wrong in copying code to develop the Android operating system now used on most smartphones.
To create Android, which was released in 2007, Google wrote millions of lines of new computer code. It also used about 11,500 lines of code copyrighted as part of Oracle’s Java platform. Oracle had sued seeking billions.
But the Supreme Court sided 6-2 with Google, describing the copying as “fair use.” The outcome is what most tech companies -- both large and small -- had been rooting for. Both Microsoft and IBM were among the industry heavyweights that had filed briefs backing Google in the case. They and others warned that ruling against the Mountain View, California-based company could have profound consequences, stifling innovation and upending software development.
‘Overworked, overwhelmed and burned out’: Why Portland cops say they’re leaving in droves - oregonlive.com
They trashed police management.
They mocked city leaders.
They bemoaned the lack of true community-based policing.
And they were all Portland officers and supervisors who chose to leave the state’s largest police force in the last year.
In 31 exit interview statements, the employees who turned in their badges or retired were brutally frank about their reasons for getting out.
“The community shows zero support. The city council are raging idiots, in addition to being stupid. Additionally, the mayor and council ignore actual facts on crime and policing in favor of radical leftist and anarchists fantasy. What’s worse is ppb command (lt. and above) is arrogantly incompetent and cowardly,” one retiring detective wrote.
It looks like Great Britain is going to follow in the path of the United States, Israel and other nations that have begun dividing their societies into two classes of people based on their COVID immunity status. With the soccer championships coming up and plenty of Brits itching to get back out to music concerts or simply hitting the pubs, officials have established a system of digital and hard-copy “coronavirus status certifications” that will be tested at several upcoming events at a variety of indoor and outdoor venues in the coming weeks. The plan hasn’t been finalized yet, but Parliament is working on the details already. They can call their passports whatever they like, but the bottom line works out to the same thing. If you don’t have one, you’ll be staying home. (Associated Press)
If Raphael Warnock has trouble figuring out Easter, police in Alberta, Canada might have trouble figuring out Good Friday — and intrusion of religious worship. This video went viral over the weekend, thanks to pastor Artur Pawlowski’s fiery response to the police entry into his church. Apparently someone called to tip the police to the Good Friday worship service and they sent a half-dozen officers to shut it down.
Biden's words contributed to the atmosphere of hysteria that has grown up over the issue of the Georgia law. Indeed, not long after Biden spoke on ESPN, Major League Baseball announced that it will move the All-Star Game, set for Atlanta in July, out of Georgia because the law does not reflect professional baseball's "values."
It is not necessary to catalog the other crazy, alarmist, or simply exaggerated things that have been said about the law. You have heard many of them yourself. Worse, a number of big corporations, apparently motivated by fear of the woke mob, jumped to take irresponsible political positions. At times, for example, the leadership of Atlanta-based Delta Airlines sounded much like a Democratic Party political action committee.
But now, something appears to be changing. In some corners of the political world, sanity seems to be returning, if just a little bit.
On Sunday, the headline of the Politico Playbook newsletter was "The Dangers of Voting Rights Hyperbole." It pointed to an article by Nate Cohn in the New York Times -- the same newspaper that has done much to stir up the Georgia hysteria -- arguing that "the law's voting provisions are unlikely to significantly affect turnout or Democratic chances. It could plausibly even increase turnout. In the final account, it will probably be hard to say whether it had any effect on turnout at all." The short version of the argument is that laws affecting the convenience of voting don't really change turnout much. Events and candidates change turnout. In the last two elections, Donald Trump changed turnout. In 2008 and 2012, Barack Obama changed turnout.
Sunday, April 4, 2021
Coronavirus has meant this has been the second year in a row that Easter papal services have been attended by small gatherings at a secondary altar of St. Peter’s Basilica, instead of by crowds in the church or in the square outside.
After saying Mass, Francis read his “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) message, in which he traditionally reviews world problems and appeals for peace.
“The pandemic is still spreading, while the social and economic crisis remains severe, especially for the poor. Nonetheless – and this is scandalous – armed conflicts have not ended and military arsenals are being strengthened,” he said.
Francis, who would normally have given the address to up to 100,000 people in St. Peter’s Square, spoke to fewer than 200 in the church while the message was broadcast to tens of millions around the world.
The square was empty except for a few police officers enforcing a strict three-day national lockdown.