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Alinsky! Alinsky! Alinsky!

[ 78 ] September 22, 2014 |

[Relevant background.]

Stanley Kurtz is excited about the Hillary Clinton/SAUL ALINSKY connection, and did I mention that it involved Saul Alinsky?

Alinsky’s original quarrel with the young radicals of the 1960s, which Hillary alludes to in her letter, was over the New Left’s tendency to make noise rather than get things done. Working effectively, Alinsky believed, requires ideological stealth, gradualism, and pragmatic cover. In his day, Alinsky took hits from more openly leftist ideologues for his incrementalist caution, as Obama and Hillary do now. Yet he was no more a centrist than his two most famous acolytes are today.

[...]

During her time in Arkansas, Hillary may seem to have moved to the center. The Rose law firm, after all, was nothing like Treuhaft, Walker, and Burnstein. It was an establishment law firm representing the most powerful economic interests in the state. With the help of Dick Morris, moreover, Hillary took on the Arkansas teachers’ unions from the right as she led Bill’s education initiative during his final governorship. In retrospect, all of this was largely pragmatic positioning. When Hillary finally got to the White House and assumed the co-presidency, she veered sharply back to the left on a whole range of issues, especially Hillarycare.

The same pattern will repeat itself should Hillary be elected president. Hillary has never abandoned her early leftist inclinations. She has merely done her best to suppress the evidence of her political past, from barring public access to her thesis on Alinsky during her time in the White House, to papering over the significance of her internship at Treuhaft, Walker, and Burnstein, to pretending that she turned away from Alinsky after her undergraduate years, when in fact she brought his methods and outlook into the heart of her political work. Her strategic preference for polarization and targeting enemies is well documented from her time in the White House, even, or especially, by sympathetic writers such as Bernstein.

Let’s leave aside the ridiculous idea that Hillary Clinton has some kind of revolutionary goals. Even according to Kurtz’s own analysis, it doesn’t matter. If you’re committed to incrementalism and pragmatism, whether you end goal is moderate liberalism or the public ownership of the means of production, you will govern as a moderate liberal and sometimes to the right of that. Like, er, Barack Obama. But, in conclusion, ALINSKY!

Kilgore has more.

The Winger Cliche Machine

[ 86 ] September 22, 2014 |

Andy McCarthy is amazing:

At National Review, Andrew C. McCarthy criticized “tendentious ‘sports journalists,’ the majority of whom are decidedly left of center, are much less guarded about their hostility to conservatives than their fellow progressives on the political beat.” He gave exactly one example of this: ESPN allowed its own correspondent, Kate Fagan, to speak on the issue. (Fagan also writes for espnW, which McCarthy told us is “where the network focuses on women in sports and, seamlessly, on political and social matters that the Left has successfully branded ‘women’s issues.’”)

Fagan, as the taped interview shows, said the issue was bigger than Ray Rice, and she wanted the NFL to “throw the kitchen sink at domestic violence,” which meant in her opinion going into schools and “talking to young men about dealing with anger about how they treat women: I think that’s where you’re going to see change… going into the school systems and the younger spaces and really reprogramming how we raise men.”

This McCarthy took to mean that “boys would be instructed that differentiating men from women breeds domestic violence,” and that was “how radical ideas — like the Left’s war on boys — get mainstreamed.” He proposed instead that we focus on “the breakdown of the family, the scorn heaped on chivalry, the disappearance of manners, and the general coarsening of our society that result from relentless progressive attacks on traditional values and institutions.” If only boys opened doors for girls again, there’d be no need for this reprogramming! (Other key phrases in McCarthy’s column: “the Obama Left’s agenda,” “ACORN,” “Al Sharpton’s National Action Network,” and “Alinsky-style community organizing.”)

Docked a notch for not mentioning Bill Ayers. Admittedly, the idea that there was no violence against women when patriarchal chivalry was stronger deserves no better than McCarthy’s prose.

The Week In Gregg Easterbrook

[ 39 ] September 21, 2014 |

Magary has already spotted Easterbrook’s argument that a banal last-minute kneel-down “was the most exciting NCAA play TMQ has seen in years.” Amazingly, I don’t even think that was the most ridiculous thing in the column this week. For example:

Then there’s Kaepernick. He is a gifted athlete who has an engaging personal story, and he looks great naked. (In consecutive offseasons, Kaepernick has stripped to pose for magazine covers.) But increasingly it seems he is in over his head as an NFL quarterback.

The nude photograph thing speaks for itself (particularly given the amount of space Easterbrook has spent thigh-rubbing about cheerleaders over the years.) On the football point…in over his head? Look, Kaepernick didn’t have a great game last week, and he makes some of the mistakes one would expect of a young QB. Yes, challenging Richard Sherman on first down with the conference championship game on the line wasn’t a great decision. But we should also remember that he was one throw away from a road win against a team that humiliated one of the greatest QBs in league history on a neutral field two weeks later. He was a top-10 QB last year, and he’s been above-average this year. He’s very good.

Things get worse!

Latest Nutty Sports Contract: Over the weekend Robert Quinn signed a mega extension with about $41 million guaranteed. The Rams want to lock him up, contractually speaking, because he was second in sacks in 2013. But Les Mouflons were mediocre on defense in 2013, and since the start of that season, have allowed at least 30 points on six occasions. If Quinn is a franchise-quality defender, why is the St. Louis defense unimpressive?

Well, first of all, the Rams had the 11th best defense in the league last year and the 7th best in 2012, so the empirical basis for the claim is erroneous. Nobody paid to write about the NFL should use “arbitrary number of games with X points allowed” as a metric, not least because a team’s offense is highly relevant to how many points a team allows. But even if the Rams did have a mediocre defense, so what? Houston had a below-average defense last year; does that mean J.J. Watt isn’t a “franchise player”? The 1983 Giants allowed an above-average number of points-per-game, so that means Lawrence Taylor wasn’t a franchise player? Or maybe in a team player even great players can play on mediocre teams? And this point is entirely obvious? Ye Gods. This is “Jon Hunstman could still surprise you!” level stuff.

Still relevant.

Quoth the Ravens, “We Didn’t Know Nothin’”

[ 70 ] September 20, 2014 |

A really superb piece of reporting by ESPN on the Rice coverup. The Ravens brass always knew exactly what Rice did:

But sources both affiliated and unaffiliated with the team tell “Outside the Lines” a different story: The Ravens’ head of security, Sanders, heard a detailed description of the inside-elevator scene within hours and shared it with Ravens officials in Baltimore.

Goodell has been steadfast that no one in the NFL had seen the inside-elevator video until Sept. 8, the same day the public did. Both the team and the league presumably had a copy of the police report: Ray and Janay were arrested shortly before 3 a.m. on Feb. 15 and charged with simple assault. Rice was accused of “assault by attempting to cause bodily injury to J. Palmer, specifically by striking her with his hand, rendering her unconscious, at the Revel Casino,” the police report says. (Janay’s charges would later be dropped.)

But within hours of the elevator attack, an employee of the Ravens was describing the inside-elevator video to friends in graphic detail, telling confidants that Rice knocked out his then-fiancée with a punch and that the video was “really bad,” according to a source close to a Ravens official.

It’s also very likely that the team was involved in spreading “it’s out there” victim-blaming nonsense in the Baltimore media despite knowing exactly what happened, but at the very least they allowed it to stand uncorrected.

If top NFL and Ravens execs didn’t personally see the tape, it’s because they didn’t want to know the contents:

Ultimately, on April 1, the Revel, under subpoena, provided Diamondstein with a copy, and he received the same copy from prosecutors on April 5. By phone, Diamondstein told Cass that the video was “f—ing horrible” and that it was clear “Ray knocked her the f— out.” The lawyer advised Cass that the video, if released, would amount to a public relations disaster for the Ravens and for his client.

Cass listened carefully but never asked Diamondstein to provide the Ravens with a copy of the video — nor, for that matter, did anyone from the NFL ask Diamondstein for a copy, several sources say.

The rich get different justice:

Back in Atlantic County, New Jersey, Diamondstein was wrangling with prosecutors to get the pretrial intervention program for Rice. Initially, prosecutors rejected it as an option. But Diamondstein pressed, and, by early May, he had put together a package of nearly 30 letters of support, from Rice’s former Rutgers University coach Greg Schiano, friends and teammates, even one from Ashton Dean, an 8-year-old boy from Harford County, Maryland, who had a rare disease and for whom Rice had helped raise money. The leaders of the Ravens also wrote a letter on Rice’s behalf. In a letter to Diamondstein dated May 9, Cass, Newsome and Harbaugh extolled Rice’s contributions to the community, charities and his team.

Four days later, first assistant prosecutor Diane Ruberton signed off on the pretrial intervention program. And on May 20, Rice and his wife marched into the courtroom of Atlantic County Superior Court Judge Michael A. Donio, who granted Rice’s entry into the diversionary program. If Rice completed the one-year program, including attending anger management classes, the court would dismiss the felony aggravated assault charge. The arrest would remain on Rice’s record, but without a conviction. PTI is an unusual result for defendants charged with aggravated assault in the third degree, defense lawyers and New Jersey domestic violence legal advocates say; less than 1 percent of all assault and aggravated assault cases in New Jersey are resolved by PTI, according to data obtained by “Outside the Lines.”

Multiple sources say that Goodell is lying about Rice lying to him:

Last week, Goodell told CBS News that, during the disciplinary meeting, Rice provided an “ambiguous” account of what had happened inside the elevator. And in its Sept. 12 letter justifying the indefinite suspension, the league said Rice’s account was “starkly different” from what was seen on the inside-elevator video. Four sources, however, told “Outside the Lines” that Rice gave Goodell a truthful account that he struck his fiancée. Furthermore, it would seem that if Rice had given an “ambiguous” account, sources say Goodell had even more incentive to try to obtain a copy of the in-elevator video to clear up any lingering questions. But he did not do that. “For you not to have seen the video is inexcusable,” a league source told “Outside the Lines.” “Because everybody was under the impression that you had.”

A particular problem since this is the basis for giving Rice punishment beyond the maximum Goodell thinks first offenses for domestic violence merit.

At least one promiment Ravens employee has a moral compass:

Although the grainy video did not show what had happened behind the elevator’s doors, the images horrified Ravens coach John Harbaugh, according to four sources inside and outside the organization. The Super Bowl-winning coach urged his bosses to release Rice immediately, especially if the team had evidence Rice had thrown a punch. That opinion was shared by George Kokinis, the Baltimore director of player personnel, according to a fifth source outside the organization but familiar with the team’s thinking.

But Harbaugh’s recommendation to cut the six-year veteran running back was quickly rejected by Ravens management: owner Bisciotti, team president Cass and GM Newsome.

But read the whole etc. — plenty more first-rate reporting. (You will be shocked, I’m sure, to discover that John Mara is one of Goodell’s closest allies.)

When Challenging the Expertise of Others, It’s Preferable To Be At Least Minimally Informed

[ 48 ] September 19, 2014 |

K.C. Johnson kinda sorta defends Steven Salaita’s academic freedom, but things go quickly off the rails:

The Steven Salaita case at the University of Illinois continues to engender controversy. The three most perceptive commentaries came from FIRE and Steven Lubet. In comments with which I entirely agree, FIRE condemned the public statement of Illinois chancellor Phyllis Wise, who justified the revocation of Salaita’s offer on the grounds “we cannot and will not tolerate . . . personal and disrespectful words or actions that demean and abuse . . . viewpoints themselves.” But why, as FIRE noted, should anyone be prohibited from “disrespectfully” “abusing” ideas”—such as racism or sexism or homophobia? Lubet analyzed the differences between Salaita’s academic freedom and legal claims, and correctly took to task a group of mostly left-of-center law professors who penned a letter defending Salaita but in the process minimized or even whitewashed Salaita’s extremist views. He spoke of his own experience with the ACLU defending the Nazis’ right to march at Skokie—but added that “the ACLU never soft-pedaled the Nazis as merely passionate critics of international banking.”

To argue that Salaita shouldn’t have been fired but his comments are more offensive than some of his defenders claim is, as far as it goes, a perfectly defensible position. The Lubet op-ed Johnson uncritically cites on this point, however, is a disaster. Lubet’s point about “whitewashing” Salaita is supported by three tweets, and he completely botches two of them:

That brings us to the political dimension, where Salaita’s position is weakest of all. Many of Salaita’s supporters have been unfortunately eager to obscure the true nature of his tweets, usually by calling him a passionate supporter of Palestinian rights who reacted strongly to recent events in Gaza. That does not begin to tell the whole story. Salaita’s demeaning comments about Israelis and Jews predate the current fighting, and they go far beyond the bounds of civil, or even passionate, discourse. For example, Salaita celebrated the kidnapping (and subsequent murder) of three Israeli teenagers and proudly called for more such crimes to be committed: “You may be too refined to say it, but I’m not: I wish all the (expletive) West Bank settlers would go missing.” He once retweeted a vile suggestion that journalist Jeffrey Goldberg ought to get “the pointy end of a shiv.”

Salaita also traffics in anti-Semitism, having tweeted: “Zionists: transforming ‘anti-semitism’ from something horrible into something honorable since 1948.” It should go without saying that racism — toward any group, for any reason — is never honorable, despite Salaita’s own indulgence of bigotry. Even bigots, of course, are entitled to academic freedom, but Salaita’s supporters have been regrettably disingenuous. A committee of the Illinois AAUP, for example, argued that Salaita had merely made “an impassioned plea to end the violence currently taking place in the Middle East.” This is manifestly untrue. Salaita has not called for an end to violence against Israelis. Quite the contrary, he has reveled in it.

The tweet about settlers, as I’ve said, is completely indefensible. But the Goldberg re-tweet — and, let’s repeat, re-tweet — did not say that “Jeffrey Goldberg” should end up “at the pointy of shiv,” but that his story should be. That’s a huge difference, particularly in a context in which UIUC apolgists like Cary Nelson are trying to argue that the re-tweet was a literal incitement to violence. And reading the “since 1948″ tweet as anti-Semitic makes little sense even in isolation and is transparently wrong in any kind of context. So well it might be true that some people are minimizing the offensiveness of Salaita’s tweets — although I still don’t know who this might be because no specific examples of minimization are cited — we can say that Lubet and Johnson are substantially exaggerating them. The fact that Johnson is not sufficiently informed enough about the case to spot Lubet’s howlers is not encouraging.

Johnson, however, does not let his ignorance about basic facts get in the way of making much larger claims. Johnson attempts to argue that Salaita is unqualified and was hired for solely political reasons. Much of his post is taken up, however, involves a running out the clock by returning to Ward Churchill. An extensive LGM investigation has determined, however, that Ward Churchill and Steven Salaita are different people, and so the former’s plagiarism says less than nothing about the academic work of another scholar hired by another department. When we finally get to the evidence about Salaita’s alleged lack of qualifications, we can see why Johnson decided to run out the clock discussion a decade-old reactionary cause celebre — he’s got nothing:

Salaita was hired for a position in an American Indian studies program. His academic specialization, to the extent it can be called that, appears to be Middle Eastern or Arab-American studies. (His last book was entitled, Israel’s Dead Soul). As the Kramer excerpt illustrated, it can be hard sometimes to distinguish between the quality, tone, and substance of Salaita’s “scholarship” and that of his tweets. Subsequent work by David Bernstein (examining some of Salaita’s book reviews) and Liel Liebovitz (discussing some of Salaita’s “academic” publications) reinforces the concern with the quality of his work.

So we have two sources cited to support the claim that Salaita was unqualified. The first is a discussion not of his scholarship but his Goodreads book reviews. So we can ignore this entirely, while pondering the extent to which Johnson is insulting the intelligence of his readers. The second we’ve been through in far more detail than it merited. To summarize, it was not a review of Salaita’s scholarship as a whole but a review of one of his books, a collection of essays written for a general audience and hence not where you’d begin. And the reviewer had already determined that Salaita was unqualified based on on a tendentious-at-best reading of his Twitter feed, so I’m not inclined to take his word even about the merits of this one book.

The fact that Johnson uses this pathetically weak evidence to attack not only Salaita’s qualifications but the value of an entire field puts is reminiscent of Naomi Schaefer Riley’s dismissal of African American Studies based on titles of dissertations she hadn’t read. Johnson, natch, defended Riley, and is still using similar techniques to issue broad attacks on fields of scholarship he knows virtually nothing about. I have no idea if Salaita was the best candidate for the position or not, but Johnson has given me less than no reason not to defer to actual experts in the field who are actually familiar with Salaita’s work.

So His Check Cleared?

[ 36 ] September 18, 2014 |

It seems pretty obvious at this point that the NFL isn’t getting its $44 million a year worth on Roger Goodell.  (Incidentally, the idea that “he’s made the owners lots of money” seems bizarre to me. Compared to what? How hard is it for an extremely popular, lavishly taxpayer funded league perfectly set up for TV in an era in which live events have become particularly valuable to make a lot of money?  He didn’t create that context.  Which of these factors would vanish if Goodell was replaced by another random executive?) But LGM is happy to present a contrasting view:

Is there any way to … well … defend Roger Goodell?

Well, yes.

When everyone is piling on, it’s time to take a breath and say: We need more facts, less reliance on media reports based on anonymous sources and over-heated pundits who are too ready to rush to judgment.

Not a rush to judgment! The best part:

The third rule is to authorize an independent investigation to answer all the questions and verify the facts. And that is exactly what happened. Of course the emphasis is on the word “independent.”

Two owners, John Mara of the New York Giants and Art Rooney II of the Pittsburgh Steelers, both of whom are attorneys, appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller III to conduct the investigation of how Goodell and the NFL headquarters handled the Rice matter.

Nothing says “independent” like an investigation headed by two particularly old-school establishment owners, conducted by a partner in a law firm that does lucrative business with the NFL. Who could possibly argue this nonsense with a straight face?

By Lanny J. Davis

I know we live in age in which parody is dead, but this seems a little on-the-nose. Maybe George Allen can get involved too.

Due Process: A Real Thing

[ 44 ] September 17, 2014 |

I may be misreading, but Margaret Hartmann’s tone seems to suggest that she thinks the NFLPA is being disingenuous and shouldn’t be defending Ray Rice:

The NFL Players Association finally filed their appeal of Ray Rice’s indefinite suspension on Tuesday night, but emphasized that they’re only defending a man who knocked out his wife in a elevator because that’s their job. “When we look at facts and reach a determination that there are appropriate grounds to appeal any decision — any disciplinary decision — that is the role of the union, that’s the duty of the union. And we really don’t shy away from that duty at all,” DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFLPA, told CBS News. “Public outrage notwithstanding, it’s part of my legal training … to understand that everybody has due process rights.” So please keep directing those angry comments to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, not to the union!

Goodell suspended the Baltimore Ravens running back for two games in July, then admitted he “didn’t get it right” and put him on indefinite suspension after TMZ released video of the incident. The union said it needs to “protect the due process rights of all NFL players,” as this sets a precedent that players can be punished twice for the same incident.

I’m not sure if I’m disagreeing with Hartmann or not, but let me say that the NFLPA is clearly right here. Not only right in the narrow sense that everyone deserves due process and a defense, but right on the merits. The NFL has (rightly or wrongly) set the maximum punishment for a first domestic violence offense at 6 games. Rice’s NFL punishment shouldn’t exceed that. While what Rice did is far, far worse attempts to suspend him for more than that are comparable to MLB’s indefensible season-long suspension of A-Rod. The idea that allegedly lying to Roger Goodell could merit as much or more punishment than the underlying offense of knocking a woman unconscious is farcical on multiple levels, and the potential for abuse is very real. The Ravens can release Rice, of course, but apart from the 6 suspended games at most they should pay him his signing bonus.

The NFL does use due process disingenuously, but it’s a real value. To be clear, what process is due is not necessarily the process that’s due in a criminal trial. In Greg Hardy‘s case, even if his jury trial counts as a de novo hearing under North Carolina law, a conviction in a bench trial is sufficient for the NFL to suspend him. If a player is being suspend with pay, like Adrian Peterson, I think credible allegations are sufficient. But if the NFL wants to suspend players without pay for off-the-field actions, waiting for the legal process to play out is not unreasonable. And the penalties should be specific and preferably collectively bargained.

Sally Jenkins makes good points about the dangers of putting arbitrary discipline powers in the commisioner’s hands.

LGM on the Road

[ 6 ] September 17, 2014 |

For anyone in the proximity of the Lehigh Valley, I will be delivering a Constitution Day lecture at the lovely campus of Muhlenberg College, “From the Party of Lincoln to the Party of Calhoun: The Supreme Court and Voting Rights in Historical Perspective.”

Rumors that a labor historian of interest is speaking at Muhlenberg next week may well be founded.

[Erik] That a Center for Ethics would bring me in to speak seems a contradiction in terms!

Every Man A Law Unto Himself

[ 37 ] September 16, 2014 |

A lower court applies Hobby Lobby in a principled manner:

Citing Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, the Supreme Court’s decision last June holding that the religious objections of a business’ owners could trump federal rules requiring that business to include birth control coverage in its health plan, a federal judge in Utah held last week that a member of a polygamist religious sect could refuse to testify in a federal investigation into alleged violations of child labor laws because he objects to testifying on religious grounds.

Admittedly, the original was a “we reserve the right not to apply this principle in if it produces policy results we don’t like” Alito “minimalist” special, so who knows what will happen. But the burden in this case is much more substantial, and there seems to be a less restrictive means of achieving the state interest, so I’m not sure why the claim wouldn’t be valid. The Supreme Court just created a huge mess. (And, again, RFRA was a dumb law in the first place.)

Casey‘s Original Sin

[ 59 ] September 16, 2014 |

I have a piece about the new 72-hour waiting period for women seeking to obtain an abortion that passed over Nixon’s veto in Missouri.

There are regulations that are worse in terms of arbitrarily limiting abortion access.  But few are more nakedly indefensible.  Mandatory waiting periods don’t even take the superficial form of legitimate health regulations; they just make the “women are not rational moral agents” subtext of abortion restrictions text.

I Wish!

[ 32 ] September 16, 2014 |

Keri:

There are a million moments that shape a team’s season. Given all of the pitches that miss by an inch, grounders that take a bad hop, and long drives that curve just foul, harping on one particular play might seem unfair. Still, there’s no sugarcoating what happened Sunday afternoon, when Ned Yost quite possibly pissed away the Royals’ season.

I wish he had.  But let us be frank: after tonight the Mariners ain’t making the playoffs.  Congrats Kansas City on breaking the drought.  And let us also be clear that when a team is for some reason is running the ridiculous Kendrys Morales out every day at DH during a pennant race — because who doesn’t need a DH who hits .218 without much power who would swing if the pitcher threw the ball into centerfield — it pretty much deserves what it gets.   Jose Vidro, come back, all is forgiven.

Hack of the Day

[ 6 ] September 15, 2014 |

Stuart Taylor Jr. 

Some bonus hackery from the archives. 

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