Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Racist Roots of Gun Control

The Racist Roots of Gun Control

The historical record provides compelling evidence that racism underlies gun control laws -- and not in any subtle way. Throughout much of American history, gun control was openly stated as a method for keeping blacks and Hispanics "in their place," and to quiet the racial fears of whites. This paper is intended to provide a brief summary of this unholy alliance of gun control and racism, and to suggest that gun control laws should be regarded as "suspect ideas," analogous to the "suspect classifications" theory of discrimination already part of the American legal system.

Racist arms laws predate the establishment of the United States. Starting in 1751, the French Black Code required Louisiana colonists to stop any blacks, and if necessary, beat "any black carrying any potential weapon, such as a cane." If a black refused to stop on demand, and was on horseback, the colonist was authorized to "shoot to kill." [1] Slave possession of firearms was a necessity at times in a frontier society, yet laws continued to be passed in an attempt to prohibit slaves or free blacks from possessing firearms, except under very restrictively controlled conditions. [2] Similarly, in the sixteenth century the colony of New Spain, terrified of black slave revolts, prohibited all blacks, free and slave, from carrying arms.
Today, the forces that push for gun control seem to be heavily (though not exclusively) allied with political factions that are committed to dramatic increases in taxation on the middle class. While it would be hyperbole to compare higher taxes on the middle class to the suffering and deprivation of sharecropping or slavery, the analogy of disarming those whom you wish to economically disadvantage, has a certain worrisome validity to it.

Another point to consider is that in the American legal system, certain classifications of governmental discrimination are considered constitutionally suspect, and these "suspect classifications" (usually considered to be race and religion) come to a court hearing under a strong presumption of invalidity. The reason for these "suspect classifications" is because of the long history of governmental discrimination based on these classifications, and because these classifications often impinge on fundamental rights.

In much the same way, gun control has historically been a tool of racism, and associated with racist attitudes about black violence. Similarly, many gun control laws impinge on that most fundamental of rights: self-defense. Racism is so intimately tied to the history of gun control in America that we should regard gun control aimed at law-abiding people as a "suspect idea," and require that the courts use the same demanding standards when reviewing the constitutionality of a gun control law, that they would use with respect to a law that discriminated based on race.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Hundreds of colleges had zero rape reports in 2014. And that could be worrisome. - The Washington Post

Hundreds of colleges had zero rape reports in 2014. And that could be worrisome. - The Washington Post

The article seems ready to blame the shortfall on under-reporting.

“It’s a harsh reality that a lot of parents and others in society don’t want to deal with: Sexual violence is on every campus,” said Laura L. Dunn, founder and executive director of the advocacy group SurvJustice. “Any time you have a zero, it is not an indicator of safety. It is an indicator of comfort in reporting.”
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said there are two explanations for why schools would have no rape reports: “Either they don’t have an adequate reporting system … or they know about the rapes and are putting them under the rug.”
Others say the extent of campus sexual assault has been overhyped. In an opinion piece this month in The Post, KC Johnson, a professor at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center, and Stuart Taylor Jr., a scholar at the Brookings Institution, lamented “a myth that our universities are mired in an epidemic of sexual violence.” Johnson and Taylor wrote that campus activists, the Obama administration and many in the media have used “discredited surveys” to claim there are hundreds of thousands of campus sexual assaults annually.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Time for a Temperance Movement » John C. Wright's Journal

Time for a Temperance Movement » John C. Wright's Journal

In the course of my career, I have responded to the hospital to investigate a report of sexual assault hundreds of times. Here is the down and dirty bottom line regarding 90%+ of reported adult sexual assaults: It’s the alcohol. Period. Full stop.

Of all of those hundreds of reported sexual assaults that I have responded to over the years, I can count the number of substantiated incidents of what Whoopi Goldberg so inartfully once termed “rape- rape” on both hands without taking off my shoes. I’m talking about the full on stranger rapes, the “Jack the Ripper drags a helpless woman into an alley” type of scenario that pops in most peoples’ minds when they hear the word “rape.”

Section wide, we probably average less than ten of those “nightmare” rapes a year in a city of 300,000 people. The rest of them, the overwhelming rest of them, are acquaintance rapes. And alcohol is at the bottom of the vast majority of those.

People who are removed from the social scene of young adults today can’t really comprehend how out of control alcohol abuse is among college students and other young people looking to party. I went to a “party school” myself and there was a lot of drinking in the mid- nineties. Thursday night was the big party night and I had a lot of classes on Friday mornings that were mostly empty.

But these kids today don’t want to just drink to get buzzed and have a good time. They drink with the goal of a black out. It starts with the “pregame.” Prior to going out to hit the bars with your fraternity bros or sorority sisters, you meet at someone’s house and have a couple of drinks there before you even leave. The idea is that you get a little buzzed before you leave, so you won’t spend as much money on overpriced drinks at the bars.

Of course, it doesn’t actually work out that way. They have two beers at home and then three, five, seven more at the bars. Plus the two shots that somebody bought them.

So by last call, they’ve had anywhere from five to God only knows how many drinks in about a four hour period. In a 115 pound sorority sister, that’s a hell of a lot of alcohol.

Oh, and did I mention how many of them are on medications that are contraindicated for alcohol? Given our pill-popping culture in general, I’ll just round up and say that all of them are. Especially mood altering medications and most especially Ambien.

Eat global, save local


Today’s typical environmentalist and locavore fancies that he or she possesses more and better knowledge than is contained in market prices. He or she is mistaken in his or her arrogance. The environmentalist who moralizes in favor of recycling cardboard containers and the locavore who boasts that he helps the environment by paying a few cents more for locally grown cabbages and cantaloupes focus on a small handful of visible aspects of production and distribution – such as the wood-pulp contents of the cardboard container or the fuel used to transport agricultural produces over long distances – and leaps without warrant to the conclusion that sticking that used cardboard containers into recycling bins, or reducing the amount of fuel burned to transport produce, generates net benefits for the environment. But there is simply no way that the recycling champion or the locavore can really know what he thinks he knows.

How much energy is used to recycle cardboard containers compared to the amount of energy used to produce new cardboard containers? What is the environmental impact of the chemicals used to cleanse used cardboard of the residue from its earlier uses so that that cardboard can be recycled for another use? How much fertilizer and energy – and what sorts – does your local small-scale farmer use to grow kale and cucumbers compared to the amounts and sorts used by the more-distant, larger-scale farmer? What is the full environmental impact of using land in suburbs such as Fairfax, VA, and Dobbs Ferry, NY, to grow vegetables for sale a local farmers’ markets compared to the impact of using that land differently?

The above are only a tiny fraction of all the relevant questions that must be asked and answered with reasonable accuracy before anyone can possess enough knowledge to be confident that recycling or ‘buying local’ are in fact good for the environment. (“Good for the economy” raises a largely separate set of myriad questions, all equally unasked and, hence, equally unanswered by typical environmentalists and enthusiasts of ‘localism.’)

As Pierre and Hiroko correctly note above, the best that anyone can do is to use market prices as guides. These prices are never perfect – such is unavoidable reality – but these prices are far more reliable guides to action than are the suppositions and priors and book knowledge (and book “knowledge”) of any individual person. If the price in Fairfax, VA, of cabbages grown in Texas is lower than is the price in Fairfax, VA, of cabbages grown in nearby Culpeper, VA, then the market is saying that, all things considered, the amount of resources used to grow cabbages in Texas and to make those Texas-grown cabbages available for sale at a Fairfax, VA, supermarket likely is less than is the amount of resources used to grow cabbages in Culpeper, VA, and to make those Culpeper-grown cabbages available for sale at a Fairfax, VA, farmers’ market.

The environmentalist or locavore might not – indeed, almost surely does not – understand why this conclusion is valid. That environmentalist or locavore resists having his or her romantic fancies about reality challenged by something as rational and analytic as economic analysis. But the environmentalist and the locavore are wrong; the prices are right.

Monday, June 13, 2016

The Truth Behind the Run-Hide-Fight Debate | Psychology Today

The Truth Behind the Run-Hide-Fight Debate | Psychology Today

Critics of the Run-Hide-Fight concept, and there are a vocal few, suggest that each of the three steps has its flaws.  They say, “Don’t leave a safe place in the building to run into harm’s way!  You could be much safer staying where you are and not encountering the shooter in a hallway as you try to evacuate.”  Or they say, “Don’t run and hurt yourself as you flee!  That would only make it easier for the shooter to get you.”  They don’t like the shelter-in-place idea either, “Don’t stay in one room like sitting duck!  You could get killed in there!  Get out of the building!”  Finally, they say, “Most people aren’t trained in self-defense techniques.  Fighting back could get you killed!”
To all this I say, “Run when it’s safe to run.  Hide where it’s safe to hide.  Fight if you or others around you have no other options.”  It ain’t a perfect world and under the stress of these intensely frightening events, would you be able to remember to do ten things or only three?

Until active shooters stop their attacks (not likely, especially as we consider the increasing movements of international terrorists back to our shores) or someone comes up with a better plan that doesn’t involve eleven steps and issuing everyone ballistic vests, I vote for Run-Hide-Fight.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

George Will: Due Process Is Being Kicked Off Campus — The Patriot Post

George Will: Due Process Is Being Kicked Off Campus — The Patriot Post

Academia’s descent into perpetual hysteria and incipient tyranny is partly fueled by the fiction that one in five college students is sexually assaulted and that campuses require minute federal supervision to cure this. Encouraged by the government’s misuse of discredited social science (one survey supposedly proving this one-in-five fiction), colleges and universities are implementing unconstitutional procedures mandated by the government.

The 2006 Duke lacrosse rape case fit the narrative about campuses permeated by a “rape culture.” Except there was no rape. In 2014, the University of Virginia was convulsed by a magazine’s lurid report of a rape that buttressed the narrative that fraternities foment the sexual predation supposedly pandemic in “male supremacist” America. Except there was no rape. Now, Colorado State University-Pueblo has punished the supposed rapist of a woman who says she was not raped.

Grant Neal, a CSU Pueblo pre-med major and athlete, began a relationship with Jane Doe (as identified in Neal’s lawsuit), although she, as a student in the Athletic Training Program, was not supposed to fraternize with athletes. Jane Doe texted an invitation to Neal to come to her apartment. The following is from Neal’s complaint against CSU Pueblo:

“As the intimacy progressed, knowing that they both wanted to engage in sexual intercourse, Jane Doe advised Plaintiff that she was not on birth control. Accordingly, Plaintiff asked if he should put on a condom. Jane Doe clearly and unequivocally responded ‘yes.’ … They proceeded to engage in consensual sexual intercourse, during which Jane Doe … demonstrated her enjoyment both verbally and non-verbally.”

The next day, one of Jane Doe’s classmates, who neither witnessed nor was told of any assault, noticed a hickey on the woman’s neck. Assuming an assault must have happened, the classmate told school officials that an assault had occurred. Jane Doe told school officials the sex was consensual: “I’m fine and I wasn’t raped.” Neal’s lawsuit says she told an administrator: “Our stories are the same and he’s a good guy. He’s not a rapist, he’s not a criminal, it’s not even worth any of this hoopla!” Neal recorded on his cellphone Jane Doe saying that nothing improper had transpired, and soon the two again had intercourse.

Undeterred, CSU Pueblo mixed hearsay evidence with multiple due process violations, thereby ruining a young man’s present (he has been suspended from the school for as long as Jane Doe is there) and blighting his future (his prospects for admission to another school are bleak).

Title IX of the Education Amendments enacted in 1972 merely says no person at an institution receiving federal funds shall be subjected to discrimination on the basis of sex. From this the government has concocted a right to micromanage schools' disciplinary procedures, mandating obvious violations of due process.

In 2011, the Education Department’s civil rights office sent “dear colleague” letters to schools directing them to convict accused persons on a mere “preponderance” of evidence rather than “clear and convincing” evidence. Schools were instructed to not allow accused students to cross-examine their accusers, but to allow accusers to appeal not-guilty verdicts, a form of double jeopardy.

Although a “dear colleague” letter is supposedly a mere “guidance document,” it employs the word “must” in effectively mandating policies. While purporting to just “interpret” Title IX, these letters shred constitutional guarantees. And the letters evade the legal requirement that such significant rulemaking must be subject to comment hearings open to a properly notified public. Even were CSU Pueblo inclined to resist such dictates — academic administrators nowadays are frequently supine when challenged — it would risk a costly investigation and the potential loss of the 11 percent of its budget that comes from Washington.

The Chronicle of Higher Education says the case raises this “intriguing” question: “What responsibility does a college have to move ahead with a third-party complaint if the supposed victim says she consented?” This question, which in a calmer time would have a self-evident answer, will be explored in Neal’s lawsuit. It should reveal what the school thought of Jane Doe’s statement exculpating Neal, who says a school official “brushed off” the recording and said that Jane Doe said what she said “just because she was scared of you.” Neal’s lawyer says he suspects that Jane Doe might now be intimating something “inappropriate” and is perhaps scared of losing her place in the Athletic Training Program.

CSU Pueblo should be scared of joining those schools that have lost lawsuits filed by students denied due process. Such suits are remedial education for educators ignorant of constitutional guarantees.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Fiddling Away Black Futures

Fiddling Away Black Futures

...We've already seen that even a black president means little or nothing. Politics and political power cannot significantly improve the lives of most black people and may even be impediments.

Blacks hold high offices and dominate the political arenas in Philadelphia, Detroit, Baltimore and other cities. Yet these are the very cities with the nation's poorest educational outcomes, highest crime rates, high illegitimacy rates and other forms of social pathology. Let's look at this pattern, focusing just on Philadelphia, Detroit and Baltimore, cities with large black populations and black-held political power for nearly a half-century.

In Philadelphia, only 19 percent of eighth-graders score proficient in math and 16 percent in reading. In Detroit, there is only a 4 percent proficiency level in math and 7 percent in reading. In Baltimore, it's a 12 percent proficiency in math and 13 percent in reading.

These results are even more depressing when one tallies the percentages of students scoring "below basic" on the National Assessment of Education Progress test, often referred to as "the nation's report card." Below basic means that a student is unable to demonstrate even partial mastery of knowledge and skills fundamental for proficient work at his grade level. In Philadelphia, 47 percent scored below basic in math and 42 percent in reading. In Baltimore, it was respectively 59 and 49 percent. In Detroit, 73 percent scored below basic in math and 56 percent in reading.

In terms of murders, shootings and other kinds of criminal behavior, these three cities are at or near the top. They also experience high rates of illegitimacy and single-parent households. Let me be absolutely clear about what I am saying. I am not saying that blacks having political power is the cause of these problems.

What I am saying is that the solution to the problems confronting black people will not be found in the political arena. I am also saying that blacks working to secure the presidency of Hillary Clinton or Sen. Bernie Sanders are wasting resources that could be better spent trying to reverse the tragic destinies of so many black youths.

The Obama administration, as well as black and white liberals, expresses concern with disproportionate numbers of black students suspended or expelled. They have created a practice called "restorative justice," where students are called on to repair the harm caused by their bad behavior. Under this regime, cursing a teacher or assaulting a teacher is no cause for traditional discipline.

Instead, there's talking and pleas. But I'll bet the rent money that the black and white liberal elite would never send their own children to schools where teachers are routinely assaulted and cursed. They would never send their children to schools so unsafe that students must enter through metal detectors so as to prevent the introduction of guns, knives and other weapons.

The disgraceful academic performance by black students is not preordained. In other words, it just doesn't have to be that way. The Washington, D.C., Opportunity Scholarship Program, a school-choice voucher program, has an excellent record, with 91 percent of its "at-risk" students graduating. But the Obama administration, doing the bidding of teacher's unions, has attacked the program. U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., questioned Secretary of Education John King Jr. about the D.C. scholarship program during confirmation hearings.

King replied, "I do not personally believe that vouchers are a scalable solution to the equity and excellence challenge and prefer the route of public school choice." I would have asked Mr. King how that position differs from a position that says: "No black children shall be saved unless and until all black children can be saved." I don't think black people can afford such a policy perspective.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

The Minimum Wage, Employment and Income Distribution - The New York Times

The Minimum Wage, Employment and Income Distribution - The New York Times

RAISING the minimum wage, as President Obama proposed in his State of the Union address, tends to be more popular with the general public than with economists.

I don’t believe that’s because economists care less about the plight of the poor — many economists are perfectly nice people who care deeply about poverty and income inequality. Rather, economic analysis raises questions about whether a higher minimum wage will achieve better outcomes for the economy and reduce poverty.

First, what’s the argument for having a minimum wage at all? Many of my students assume that government protection is the only thing ensuring decent wages for most American workers. But basic economics shows that competition between employers for workers can be very effective at preventing businesses from misbehaving. If every other store in town is paying workers $9 an hour, one offering $8 will find it hard to hire anyone — perhaps not when unemployment is high, but certainly in normal times. Robust competition is a powerful force helping to ensure that workers are paid what they contribute to their employers’ bottom lines.

One argument for a minimum wage is that there sometimes isn’t enough competition among employers. In our nation’s history, there have been company towns where one employer truly dominated the local economy. As a result, that employer could affect the going wage for the entire area. In such a situation, a minimum wage can not only make workers better off but can also lead to more efficient levels of production and employment.

But I suspect that few people, including economists, find this argument compelling today. Company towns are largely a thing of the past in this country; even Wal-Mart Stores, the nation’s largest employer, faces substantial competition for workers in most places. And many employers paying the minimum wage are small businesses that clearly face strong competition for workers.

Instead, most arguments for instituting or raising a minimum wage are based on fairness and redistribution. Even if workers are getting a competitive wage, many of us are deeply disturbed that some hard-working families still have very little. Though a desire to help the poor is largely a moral issue, economics can help us think about how successful a higher minimum wage would be at reducing poverty.

An important issue is who benefits. When the minimum wage rises, is income redistributed primarily to poor families, or do many families higher up the income ladder benefit as well?

It is true, as conservative commentators often point out, that some minimum-wage workers are middle-class teenagers or secondary earners in fairly well-off households. But the available data suggest that roughly half the workers likely to be affected by the $9-an-hour level proposed by the president are in families earning less than $40,000 a year. So while raising the minimum wage from the current $7.25 an hour may not be particularly well targeted as an anti-poverty proposal, it’s not badly targeted, either.

A related issue is whether some low-income workers will lose their jobs when businesses have to pay a higher minimum wage. There’s been a tremendous amount of research on this topic, and the bulk of the empirical analysis finds that the overall adverse employment effects are small.

Some evidence suggests that employment doesn’t fall much because the higher minimum wage lowers labor turnover, which raises productivity and labor demand. But it’s possible that productivity also rises because the higher minimum attracts more efficient workers to the labor pool. If these new workers are typically more affluent — perhaps middle-income spouses or retirees — and end up taking some jobs held by poorer workers, a higher minimum could harm the truly disadvantaged.

Another reason that employment may not fall is that businesses pass along some of the cost of a higher minimum wage to consumers through higher prices. Often, the customers paying those prices — including some of the diners at McDonald’s and the shoppers at Walmart — have very low family incomes. Thus this price effect may harm the very people whom a minimum wage is supposed to help.

It’s precisely because the redistributive effects of a minimum wage are complicated that most economists prefer other ways to help low-income families. For example, the current tax system already subsidizes work by the poor via an earned-income tax credit. A low-income family with earned income gets a payment from the government that supplements its wages. This approach is very well targeted — the subsidy goes only to poor families — and could easily be made more generous.

By raising the reward for working, this tax credit also tends to increase the supply of labor. And that puts downward pressure on wages. As a result, some of the benefits go to businesses, as would be the case with any wage subsidy. Though this mutes some of the direct redistributive value of the program — particularly if there’s no constraining minimum wage — it also tends to increase employment. And a job may ultimately be the most valuable thing for a family struggling to escape poverty.

What about the macroeconomic argument that is sometimes made for raising the minimum wage? Poorer people typically spend a larger fraction of their income than more affluent people. So if an increase in the minimum wage successfully redistributed some income to the poor, it could increase overall consumer spending — which could stimulate employment and output growth.

All of this is true, but the effects would probably be small. The president’s proposal would raise annual income by $3,500 for a full-time minimum-wage worker. A recent analysis found that 13 million workers earn less than $9 an hour. If they were all working full time at the current minimum — and a majority are not — the income increase from the higher minimum wage would be only about $50 billion. Even assuming that all of that higher income was redistributed from the wealthiest families, the difference in spending behavior between low-income and high-income consumers is likely to translate into only about an additional $10 billion to $20 billion in consumer purchases. That’s not much in a $15 trillion economy.

SO where does all of this leave us? The economics of the minimum wage are complicated, and it’s far from obvious what an increase would accomplish. If a higher minimum wage were the only anti-poverty initiative available, I would support it. It helps some low-income workers, and the costs in terms of employment and inefficiency are likely small.

But we could do so much better if we were willing to spend some money. A more generous earned-income tax credit would provide more support for the working poor and would be pro-business at the same time. And pre-kindergarten education, which the president proposes to make universal, has been shown in rigorous studies to strengthen families and reduce poverty and crime. Why settle for half-measures when such truly first-rate policies are well understood and ready to go?

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Punishment Without Evidence on Campus - WSJ

Punishment Without Evidence on Campus - WSJ

This academic year will be remembered for its psychological crack-ups over Halloween costumes (Yale), faculty intimidation of student journalists covering protesters (the University of Missouri) and purges of single-sex social clubs (Harvard). But the dishonor roll isn’t complete without documenting how the Obama Administration is further eroding due process on campus.

The Education and Justice Departments have already gone far to subvert the norm that students accused of sexual assault retain individual rights. Now they are targeting the few rights that are left. Under new standards promulgated this spring, students can be punished before any disciplinary hearing has been held, and sometimes after anonymous allegations.

Starting with a 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter, the Education Department has reinterpreted the Title IX law that prohibits sex discrimination at educational institutions, creating legal obligations that do not exist in federal statutes. Schools can now lose taxpayer funds if they use a “clear and convincing” evidentiary standard for adjudicating assaults instead of the less rigorous “preponderance of the evidence.”

A new round of federal letters appeared starting in April. The one that expanded the definition of sexual harassment the most—and how schools must respond—was the finding of a Justice Department investigation into the University of New Mexico’s grievance protocol.

Justice said UNM violated Title IX in part because of a “failure to provide effective interim safety measures.” Interim measures are imposed on an accused student before any official ruling on guilt. They can include provisional suspensions for the accused; no-contact instructions akin to a restraining order; restrictions on when students can use libraries, dining halls and athletic facilities; evictions from dorms; and bans on extracurricular activities.

Some of this may be appropriate if someone poses an immediate threat to public safety, but UNM was sanctioned for being insufficiently punitive. “For example,” Justice writes, “a respondent was suspended during the pendency of a sexual assault investigation but applied for graduate school at UNM and was granted admission prior to the time OEO completed the investigation.” OEO is UNM’s Title IX enforcement office.

In another case, UNM suspended a student during an investigation as an interim measure. He was exonerated and returned to UNM. But Justice rebukes the school because when “the complainant became aware of the respondent’s return to campus through third parties, she felt ‘powerless and destroyed.’”

In other words, students should have their academic careers or economic futures derailed before any adult has examined the evidence, assessed the credibility of the witnesses, or provided a fair and impartial inquiry. False accusations are not unknown, especially among immature or unstable young people.

For the first time, the Justice Department has also explicitly introduced a “responsibility to investigate complaints of sexual harassment to determine whether a hostile environment exists that requires further action,” even if accusers remain anonymous.

This matters because a hostile environment can exist independently of the details of a specific case, and thus can be established by complaints that haven’t been corroborated and don’t qualify as traditional proof. Justice invokes “perceptions” as much as facts.

“Indeed, some complainants reported that the OEO process was more upsetting and traumatizing than the initial sexual harassment that was the subject of their complaint,” Justice observes. The department faults UNM for failing to “issue a no-contact order because the complainant had requested that her name not be revealed.”

The White House has encouraged the incognito reporting. Vice President Joe Biden even sponsored a funding competition for third-party software developers to create smartphone apps that make sending anonymous Title IX allegations—or gossip overheard at the gym, or whatever—as easy as sending a Snapchat.
One problem is that Justice and Education are supposedly offering mere “guidance,” not specific regulations, so schools will have to infer what they must do from letters like the one to the University of New Mexico. But they’ll get the message. Some 228 colleges and universities are under investigation for Title IX violations, and complaints to the Education Department’s Title IX office have increased 502% over four years.

Either the Vikings are invading U.S. campuses or Title IX has become a political weapon. Maybe the liberal professors and administrators cheering on this campaign can’t be expected to notice they’re supporting disciplinary standards they’d never accept in criminal justice or policing.

But maybe they’ll eventually move to defend their own interests, if not their supposed ideals. One of U. of New Mexico’s Title IX errors, according to the Justice Department, was not stripping a professor accused of sexual harassment of his teaching duties, as an “interim measure.”

Monday, June 06, 2016

State Department inspector general report criticizes Hillary Clinton for private email server.

State Department inspector general report criticizes Hillary Clinton for private email server.

For a while now, it's seemed clear that Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server as secretary of state was an irresponsible, arrogant violation of security and public-transparency rules. The Washington Post has now gotten its hands on a copy of the State Department inspector general's report about the controversy, which makes that assessment official:
The State Department’s independent watchdog has issued a highly critical analysis of Hillary Clinton’s email practices while running the department, concluding that she failed to seek legal approval for her use of a private email server and that department staff would not have given its blessing because of the “security risks in doing so.”

The inspector general, in a long awaited review obtained Wednesday by The Washington Post in advance of its publication, found that Clinton’s use of private email for public business was “not an appropriate method” of preserving documents and that her practices failed to comply with department policies meant to ensure that federal record laws are followed.
This is obviously on some level bad for Clinton's presidential campaign, and it's obviously also bad for anyone who wants their public officials not to behave like paranoid, secretive dopes. But as the Post notes, it's also probably good for Clinton that the report—which doesn't allege any illegal activity and also criticizes the email practices of previous State Department honchos like Colin Powell—was released now rather, than, like, Nov. 1. Meanwhile there's still no indication that the FBI's parallel investigation into whether Clinton's handling of classified material constituted criminal negligence has turned up anything damaging. At this point it doesn't look like Clinton's use of the private server, however ill-advised, is going to sink her campaign. At the same time, it probably has contributed to the fact that two-thirds of registered voters find her untrustworthy. Isn't 2016 great?

Hillary Clinton email scandal: Explained.

Hillary Clinton email scandal: Explained.

I probably wouldn’t talk to her about it either, mostly because this story has been dragging on for so long I don’t even remember how it started. How’d we even get here?For the four years she was secretary of state, Clinton never used an official state.govemail address. Instead, she relied exclusively on a private email account housed on her own personal server to conduct her government business. Those facts went unnoticed—or at least unaddressed—by the State Department until this past summer, when agency officials were responding to a request for documents from congressional investigators and realized they couldn’t find a single email to or from a Clinton government email address.
So then what happened?After a specific request from the State Department—that came nearly two years after she had left office—Clinton turned over 30,490 messages to the agency that she and her team deemed to be possibly work-related. Clinton and her staff, though, say they also destroyed 31,830 messages that they decided were personal. The private server was then subsequently wiped clean.
And how did everyone else find this out?Hillary’s unorthodox, nongovernmental email setup was revealed to the public by theNew York Times in March of this year in a report that prompted the major controversy that still hangs over her presidential campaign and will for the foreseeable future.
Remind me, what was her excuse for using a private email account in the first place?Hillary and her team have offered a number of lawyerly and convoluted justifications, but her explanation ultimately boils down to what she says was asimple a matter of convenience: She didn’t want to carry two smartphones, which she says would have been necessary at the time since State Department policy didn’t allow her to have multiple email addresses on a government-issued BlackBerry. As a result, she decided to send work emails on a personal account as opposed to personal emails on a work one.
Is that … believable?That probably depends on where you’re sitting. But it would sound much morebelievable if Clinton hadn’t described herself earlier this year as “two steps short of a hoarder” who lugs around a BlackBerry, an iPhone, an iPad, and an iPad Mini in her purse, and similarly made it clear at a 2011 State Department event that she doesn’t exactly travel light.
An iPad and an iPad Mini? Well, that doesn’t sound convenient at all.Neither does going through the trouble of purchasing your own Web domain, which a longtime aide to her husband did for her on the first day of her confirmation hearings in 2009; nor setting up and maintaining a personal server in your home, which someone did for her in Chappaqua, New York, as she was preparing to start work at the State Department.
OK, but was any of that actually illegal?In a word: no.
How about a few more?If Secretary John Kerry did today what Clinton did, it would run afoul of the current laws on the books, which require government officials to copy or forward work email sent or received on a private account to their government account within 20 days. Hillary’s email use, though, does not appear to have violated any of the laws that were in place when she was in office—even though it did clearly fall well short of the Obama administration’s preferred best practices and was also explicitly discouraged by the State Department.
If she didn’t break any specific law, though, then what’s the big deal?Clinton does not appear to have violated the letter of the law but she did ignore the spirit of it when she went out of her way to create a system that gave her unprecedented control over what could become public. Hillary’s private email account and server effectively shielded her messages from Freedom of Information Act requests, congressional subpoenas, and other searches.
But why does the government even need to keep her emails?The federal government routinely archives official records so it can provide an accurate and comprehensive account of administrative decision-making—for the government, for the courts, and for the American public. The government can’t keep records it doesn’t have. It’s inconceivable that Hillary did not know this.
Wouldn’t those emails already be in the system given many of them were sent to or from people who had their own government accounts?That’s what Clinton’s team has argued. That, however, relies on her colleagues using the same type of .gov address that she herself avoided—something we have every reason to suspect some of them didn’t do. At least one of her top aides, Huma Abedin,is known to have had her own address, making it difficult to believe that all of Clinton’s government business was logged on government servers. That defense also conveniently ignores any emails Clinton may have exchanged with foreign leaders or private parties outside the U.S. government.
But since she’s now turned all those emails over, everything’s OK? Better late than never, right?Remember: Clinton says she deleted 31,830 emails. Since Clinton and her team decided for themselves which messages to turn over and which ones to delete—and since they’ve never fully explained how such decisions were made—there’s no way to know with any certainty that everything erased was actually OK to erase.
Already, it’s clear that the self-sorting process was, at best, an imperfect one. In June, for example, the State Department said that more than a dozen Libya-related messages that former aide Sidney Blumenthal had sent to Clinton were unaccounted for in the trove she turned over to the agency. We know those emails exist at all only because Blumenthal, a longtime friend of the Clintons, had already turned over his copies of them to the congressional panel investigating Benghazi. We have no way of knowing whether they were deleted intentionally by Clinton or simply slipped through the cracks during the sorting process.
So is this just a transparency and trust issue?It began that way. But a story about Clinton appearing to seek out a legal gray area from which to do business has since become one about her putting classified information at greater risk than it needed to be.
Wait, I thought Clinton once said she never sent or received classified information with this account?During her first public comments about the controversy back in March, Clinton was adamant that no classified information of any kind was kept on her account or server: “There is no classified material.” That stance, though, has been subtly but significantly changing as more information comes to light. Late last month Clinton revised her answer to: “I did not send nor receive anything that was classified at the time.” And then on Tuesday it shifted again, to: “I did not send any material that was marked or designated classified.”
Why the change?The inclusion of “at the time” allows for the possibility that information she sent or received was classified after the fact. The “marked or designated” tweak allows for the possibility that someone sent her classified information without properly marking it as so, and that Clinton then passed along that information without knowing it was sensitive.
Hold up. I forget why it’s bad for her to have classified information on her personal server.The biggest concern is that it put that information at greater risk of being hacked into than if she would have simply relied on a secured government account. (There’s no evidence that anyone was able to hack into her account or gain access to that information.)
So is Clinton now basically admitting that there was classified info on her server?In a word: yes.
How about a few more?There is no longer any doubt that Clinton sent or received information that is classified today. When the State Department publicly released roughly 300 Benghazi-related emails that came from her personal account earlier this year, one was classified “secret” and the information was withheld at the FBI’s request. Subsequent court-ordered releases of Clinton’s emails have included roughly 60 messages thatwere marked “confidential” in order to protect diplomatic secrets.
Why is the court ordering that her emails be released?Journalists, advocacy groups, and other interested parties have filed numerous Freedom of Information Act requests in relation to Clinton’s emails, the bulk of which are public records. The State Department had originally proposed releasing Clinton’s messages (minus any classified info that would need to be redacted) to the public all at once in January 2016 after the entire archive had been reviewed. A federal judge, though, spiked that plan and instead ordered that the department release the emails in monthly batches as they’re cleared.
Ok, so back to the classified emails. What type of “classified” information are we talking about?Since classified information is by definition classified, the public will likely never have the chance to judge for themselves just how sensitive the information in question was. And as Jeffrey Toobin explains in the New Yorker, while classified information is generally defined as anything with the potential to damage national security, in reality, “government bureaucracies use classification rules to protect turf, to avoid embarrassment, to embarrass rivals—in short, for a variety of motives that have little to do with national security.”
So is it really Clinton’s fault if all that info was classified after the fact?Clinton’s team argues that since the process by which the government classifies information is a complicated and subjective one, it is impossible for someone to know today what will be classified tomorrow, and even whether it should be classified at all. That’s a point well worth making. But as the nation’s top diplomat, Clinton should still have been well aware that some of the information she was hosting on her server was sensitive and would potentially end up classified even before it was officially ruled as such. Put another way, Hillary might not have known which information would become classified but she should have known some of it eventually would be.
Is there anything to suggest that Clinton sent or received sensitive information that was classified at the time?Yes. After taking a close look at a small sample of about 40 of Clinton’s work emails to or from her personal account, a pair of government investigators warned late last month that they’d found what they said were several intelligence secrets, at least two of which they believe should have been marked as “top secret” but weren’t. The information, the investigators said, is classified now and was likewise back when it was sent. “This classified information never should have been transmitted via an unclassified personal system,” the inspectors general for the State Department and for the intelligence community said in a statement.
That sounds pretty bad.It’s not good! It is illegal for someone to “knowingly” receive a classified document or briefing and then turn around and send along that info in an unclassified email. Still, the inspectors general did not specify whether Clinton sent or received the information in question. And, from what we know about how Hillary emails, it’s certainly believable that she was on the receiving end, as her campaign has argued is likely the case. If it’s true that Clinton only received the info—or that, at worst, she forwarded it along without knowing it was classified—then she would have a compelling legal defense thanks to the intent requirement in the law.
Added Aug. 21: Is there any other evidence that Hillary sent or received information that was classified at the time she sent it?Yes. Reuters did a close reading of some of Clinton's emails that the State Department has since stamped "classified" and found that those new stamps—which include data suggesting the nature of the classification—suggest that those messages may have contained information that, under State Department rules, should have always been considered classified even before it was marked that way. According to a former director of the U.S. government's Information Security Oversight Office, such information is "born classified."
What happens next?Republicans, journalists, and anyone else with an interest will continue to comb through her emails as they are made public. More importantly: Based on the inspector general referral, the FBI has launched a security review into Clinton’s email account and server. The Justice Department has stressed that—contrary to early and erroneous reports by the New York Times—the investigation is neither “criminal” nor focused specifically on Clinton. FBI investigators will now take a closer look at the private server—along with several thumb drives Clinton’s lawyer turned over that contain copies of her work emails—in hopes of determining where any classified information came from, and to determine if anyone ever tried to hack into Clinton’s account.
Where is the server now?There have been several unconfirmed and apparently erroneous bathroom-related reports of where the server has been kept since Clinton left office. But according to Platte River, the Denver-based IT firm hired by Clinton, the server was moved to a data center in New Jersey in the summer of 2013, where it remained until Hillary agreed to turn it over to the FBI last week.
Wait, I thought Clinton deleted everything from the server. What can they learn from looking at an empty server?Clinton’s lawyer has said that the server was wiped clean, a specific term used to suggest that not only were all the emails deleted but the server’s hard drive was also overwritten to prevent the files from being recovered. Such a process makes it difficult to recover the files and other data, but not impossible, and NBC News reports that the FBI is hopeful it may still be able to glean additional information from the server about the emails and its security.
Whoa. Doesn’t the fact that Clinton had someone “wipe” the server suggest wrongdoing?Not necessarily. Hillary has argued that “my personal emails are my personal business” and believes she did nothing wrong by deleting them. If you buy that (and buy that the only emails deleted were purely personal ones), then it stands to reason that she also did nothing wrong by attempting to ensure that they were deleted for good. Of course, if you think Hillary was wrong to do the sorting herself, then attempting to ensure no one else will get a chance to double-check her work will raise a giant red flag.
Do voters actually care?Clinton maintains that the only reason this is a story is because Republicans are eager to destroy her presidential bid and the political press corps is predisposed to scandal, and that no voters she talks to ever bring it up. That last part may be true given Clinton has relatively little unscripted interaction with voters, but that doesn’t change the fact that many Americans believe there is fire underneath all this smoke. In arecent CNN survey, 63 percent of self-described independents and even 30 percent of Democrats said Clinton did something wrong by using a private email account and server.
But will it cost her the election?That’s a different story. The email controversy gives Republicans a golden opportunity to highlight Clinton’s least appealing qualities in the eyes of voters, namely her general secrecy and evasiveness. But as my colleague Jamelle Bouie has already explained, while it might mar her campaign, it’s unlikely to end it on its own given everything else she has working in her favor. Meanwhile, as FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver has argued, given Clinton’s track record, it was only a matter of time before some scandal—whether perceived or real—began to drag down her favorability ratings. If it weren’t this, it would have been something else.
So how does this story end?Slowly. The court-ordered monthly release of 30,000-odd emails ensures a steady drip-drip-drip of unfavorable coverage for the Democratic front-runner. Justice Department officials and congressional investigators, meanwhile, have already proved more than happy to leak incomplete info about the investigation, meaning there will be many more email-related questions before we have any definitive answers.
What exactly are the answers we’re looking for?There are the ones we want but will likely never get: Did Clinton deliberately delete any work-related emails? Did she knowingly send classified information over her personal email? Did she intentionally use her private email account to operate without oversight? And there are the ones we might yet discover: Was any of the classified information on Clinton’s server classified at the time she sent it? Who, if anyone, gave her the green light to use a private email system? Was her account the subject of a hacking attempt, successful or otherwise?
Does any of this have anything to do with Benghazi?Yes. The discovery of Clinton’s personal email account can be traced back to the GOP-led House panel investigating the attack at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. It was that panel’s request for Hillary’s email that set this whole thing in motion, and committee Chairman Trey Gowdy’s efforts that have helped fan the flames.
Clinton says she plans to testify before the Benghazi panel in late October, which all but guarantees a high-profile clash with Gowdy, who has emerged as one of her most vocal critics in Washington. But while the hearing is likely to produce plenty of partisan fireworks, it’s unclear whether Gowdy’s offense or Clinton’s defense will be enough to change voters’ minds about a woman and presidential candidate most have already made up their minds about.