Obama’s (G)Rand Strategy, Part 2

One of the most damaging media hits on Gerald Ford back in the 1970s was the New York Daily News headline, “Ford to City: Drop Dead.”  Well, behold tomorrow’s Daily News front page:

Daily News Strategy Head copy

The other day I was hard on Rand Paul for being close to Obama in some respects on foreign policy.  Yet Friday he came out much more strongly than Obama on the need to do something serious about the rising tide of murderous Islamic radicalism.  From the AP:

Speaking to a ballroom later, some of the loudest applause for Paul came when he quipped: “If the president has no strategy, maybe it’s time for a new president.”

In an emailed comment, however, Paul elaborated by saying: “If I were President, I would call a joint session of Congress. I would lay out the reasoning of why ISIS is a threat to our national security and seek congressional authorization to destroy ISIS militarily.”

Is this for real, or just opportunism on Paul’s part?  It was only two days before these remarks that Paul was arguing in the Wall Street Journal that thoughtless American intervention in the Middle East had contributed to the rise of ISIS.  Perhaps so, but Paul needs to step up even more than he did, and lay out a more concrete and detailed strategy for what a President Paul’s foreign policy would look like,  Making Congress a participant is politically useful (though not strictly speaking constitutionally necessary), but this could also be just passing the buck.

Meanwhile, stand by for the next Daily News headline: “Obama To U.S. Security: Drop Dead.”

Who Is the JayVee Team?

You can put a spiffy uniform on a lousy player, and you can swear in a hopeless incompetent as president, but in either case, has a star been born? Michael Ramirez looks at the “jayvee” question from our enemies’ point of view. Suddenly, Obama’s analogy, which was dumb as applied to ISIS, makes sense. Click to enlarge:

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The Lessons of Rotherham

A week or more has gone by, and we haven’t written about the Rotherham rape scandal that has rocked Great Britain. Rotherham is a city of around 250,000 in Yorkshire, where at least 1,400 girls were raped, and in many instances prostituted, by gangs consisting mostly or entirely of Pakistani men. It seems to be generally acknowledged that the local authorities had a good idea what was going on, but the criminal rings nevertheless flourished for something like 16 years.

Current publicity about the Rotherham scandal is driven by publication of the Jay Report, officially titled “Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation in Rotherham (1997 – 2013).” You can download the report here. It includes details that are not for the faint of heart.

One aspect of the Jay Report that has received attention is its suggestion that worries about race played a role in local officials’ reluctance to do anything about the rape/prostitution gangs for fear of being thought “racist.” Here are some excerpts:

By far the majority of perpetrators were described as “Asian” by victims, yet throughout the entire period, councillors did not engage directly with the Pakistani-heritage community to discuss how best they could jointly address the issue. Some councillors seemed to think it was a one-off problem, which they hoped would go away. Several staff described their nervousness about identifying the ethnic origins of perpetrators for fear of being thought racist; others remembered clear direction from their managers not to do so. …

Within the Council, we found no evidence of children’s social care staff being influenced by concerns about the ethnic origins of suspected perpetrators when dealing with individual child protection cases, including C[hild] S[exual] E[xploitation]. In the broader organisational context, however, there was a widespread perception that messages conveyed by some senior people in the Council and also the Police, were to “downplay” the ethnic dimensions of CSE. Unsurprisingly, frontline staff appeared to be confused as to what they were supposed to say and do and what would be interpreted as “racist”. …

Frontline staff did not report personal experience of attempts to influence their practice or decision making because of ethnic issues. Those who had involvement in CSE were acutely aware of these issues and recalled a general nervousness in the earlier years about discussing them, for fear of being thought racist.

Several councillors interviewed believed that by opening up these issues they could be “giving oxygen” to racist perspectives that might in turn attract extremist political groups and threaten community cohesion.

Were 1,400 girls the victims of political correctness? Viewing the Jay Report as a whole, I conclude that they were primarily victimized by bureaucratic sloth and indifference–here’s a great idea, let’s put our lives in the hands of government agencies!–but it does seem that nonsense about “racism” played a part.

A radical suggestion: maybe it’s time to retire the whole apparatus of racism. “Racism” is a concept that originated in the 20th century and never gained currency outside a few Western countries, like the U.S. and Great Britain. Denunciation of racism had a specific social and political purpose, which, many would argue, has now been served. Does the constant invocation of “racism,” usually in situations that have nothing to do with race, now do more harm than good? That is, at least, a question worth debating.

While Rotherham is a huge scandal in the U.K., we are not the only ones who let the week go by without commenting on it. So did the New York Times. Yesterday, the Times finally took up the story in an article titled “Years of Rape and ‘Utter Contempt’ in Britain: Life in an English Town Where Abuse of Young Girls Flourished”. The Times did acknowledge that “[t]he victims identified in the report were all white, while the perpetrators were mostly of Pakistani heritage.” But it tried to fit the story into the mold of sexism:

Some officers and local officials told the investigation that they did not act for fear of being accused of racism. But Ms. Jay said that for years there was an undeniable culture of institutional sexism. Her investigation heard that police referred to victims as “tarts” and to the girls’ abuse as a “lifestyle choice.”

In the minutes of a meeting about a girl who had been raped by five men, a police detective refused to put her into the sexual abuse category, saying he knew she had been “100 percent consensual.” She was 12.

Several Althouse commenters make interesting observations on the Times’ perspective. Balfegor says:

NYT struggling mightily to move this out of the uncomfortable “anti-racism led to willful blindness” narrative and into the comfortable “sexism led to willful blindness” narrative. Always important for a paper like the NYT to comfort the comfortable, and reassure them that their prejudices and preconceptions are all 100% okay.

Jason adds:

“Lie back and think of diversity.” #liberaltipstodealwithrape

Sadly, it seems that such thinking played a part in the appalling exploitation of 1,400 children. It seems likely, however, that neither the New York Times nor any other liberal news outlet will learn from the Rotherham tragedy.

At Least They’re Not Blaming Bush

Paul notes immediately below that it is unlikely that Fred Ryan, the former Reagan aide who has just been named the new publisher of the Washington Post, will make any serious changes to the Post’s ideological profile, or he wouldn’t have been picked. It will be fun, though, to watch low-information liberals (but I repeat myself) react to the headline “Former Reagan Aide Named Publisher of the Post.” Who could ever have imagined such a headline?

Ryan is being brought in to run the business side of things, which means the inmates will continue to run the asylum that calls itself a newsroom. To be fair, the Post is more sensible than the New York Times in many ways, though that’s like being the tallest building in Wichita. (Except, isn’t the tallest building in Wichita likely to be owned by two brothers the mention of whom makes liberals break out in hives? Heh.)

Anyway, were Fred Ryan inclined to bring some sense to the newsroom, he might start with an article appearing in the Post today: “My Students Pay Too Much for College. Blame Reagan.” The author is Devin Fergus, a professor of African-American and African Studies at Ohio State University, and I’m sure students with degrees from his department are in high demand by employers everywhere. Fergus’s complaint is that the Reagan administration cut federal funding for student aid, and the states followed!

In the 1970s, states paid 65 percent of the costs of college. By 2013, states covered a mere 30 percent of college costs. Like students who had to pay more, the federal government seemingly upped its commitment, covering just 10 percent in the 1970s and 16 percent today.

Instead of grants, students have had to take out loans instead, and it’s all Reagan’s fault.

It’s not clear what the bigger problem with Fergus’s analysis: the premise that the federal government should underwrite everyone’s college education—even majors like ethnic studies—or the failure to note that for the states, public universities are at the end of the line for the funding priorities of liberalism. When state budgets are squeezed, K-12 education and welfare programs are first in line to be kept whole. Public universities will always get the brunt of the budget ax. Maybe university professors might want to rethink their support for the welfare state?  Because guess what: even if state budgets recover, growing social service programs (and public employee pensions) will assure that public universities will face budget pressures from now on. The good old days of lavish state spending for colleges and universities are over.

Moreover, Fergus doesn’t have a thing to say about the insidious role of the federal government in spurring the massive inflation of higher education costs. As is well-known, the cost of college has risen twice as fast as health care costs or housing prices during the bubble years. Fergus’s view can be reduced to this: taxpayers should cough up the money so I can teach African-American Studies for free.

At least it isn’t George W. Bush’s fault. No excuse left behind I guess.

Washington Post selects Reagan staffer as publisher, but don’t expect change in slant

Jeff Bezos has named Fred Ryan to be the Washington Post’s new publisher. Ryan is a former Reagan administration official. He served as Director of Presidential Appointments and Scheduling and as head the White House Office of Private Sector Initiatives. Near the end of Reagan’s second term, Ryan became Assistant to the President, the highest level of staff position in the White House, as I understand it.

After Reagan left office, Ryan served as Chief of Staff to the former president. He was responsible for the establishment and operation of Reagan’s office in Century City, and he helped create the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.

Should liberals worry that Ryan’s selection as publisher of the Post signals less leftism in the paper’s news coverage and less liberalism in it editorial page? I don’t think so.

Ryan co-founded Politico, which is about as reliably left-leaning as the Post. Moreover, those who have worked with various media companies owned by Ryan’s corporation say he’s a businessman above all else, and not one to attempt to influence the direction of coverage or editorial policy.

The Post depends on an overwhelmingly leftist readership, namely the inhabitants of Washington DC and its suburbs. It would be bad for business to disappoint that crowd, many of whose members already find their patience stretched by the Post’s generally responsibly liberal editorial page.

It’s sweet to contemplate a Washington Post without, say, Dana Milbank and E.J. Dionne. It’s even sweeter to contemplate a Post that doesn’t collaborate with traitors like Edward Snowden and doesn’t have the likes of Bart Gellman deciding which state secrets can be revealed without harming America.

But I don’t expect Fred Ryan to bring about either scenario. If anything, I wonder whether he will bend over backwards to avoid criticism from the left. That, in any case, will be the left’s objective.

What a “demilitarized” police force can look like [With Comment By John]

We’ve all seen the pictures presented by those who decry the “militarization” of American police forces. Typically, these pictures juxtapose sophisticated police equipment and weaponry with a crowd that is peacefully demonstrating or just milling about.

But what does a “demilitarized” police force look like when the crowd is less peaceful? This video of an angry, jeering mob forcing the police into an ignominious retreat through the streets of London provides one example.

I understand and respect the arguments made by those who argue that some of our police forces have become “militarized.” However, I’ve seen no evidence that the fancy equipment possessed by these police forces has caused harm.

There will always be incidents of police brutality and over-reaction. But has the “militarization” of the police led to more such incidents? Has the specific equipment that people object to the police now having been misused in ways that have caused more damage than the more traditional equipment that (I hope) is considered unobjectionable? Not that I’m aware of.

As a general matter, I think it’s desirable for the police to possess overwhelmingly more force than those who may confront it. That way, you probably avoid scenes like the one in the video I posted above.

Arguments for proportionality in the use of force have merit in the context of policing. (We wouldn’t want the London police, for example, to mow down the crowd in the video above). But arguments for proportionality in available force are less persuasive and fail, in my view, absent evidence of a pattern of abuse.

Via Bill Otis at Crime and Consequences.

JOHN adds: Some years ago, I quoted Napoleon’s “whiff of grapeshot” on this site, and noted that traditionally, looters have been shot. This was greeted with squeamishness on the part of some readers, but I don’t think much has changed since Napoleon’s time. Rioting and looting (as opposed to demonstrating) are antithetical to public welfare in any society, and the first duty of any government is to maintain order. I can’t see that methods of controlling rampaging mobs have changed much in the last 200 years.

ISIS Beheads Second American Journalist

ISIS has released a video which it says shows the beheading of American freelance journalist Steven Sotloff. Sotloff was captured in Syria in 2013, and ISIS threatened to kill him in the video showing the beheading of James Foley.

Commenting on Sotloff’s murder, an administration spokesman proved a master of understatement:

Washington has contacted about two dozen countries for help in freeing the three, but no foreign government appears to have influence over or even significant contact with IS, which has declared an Islamic caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria.

“What we’ve found is that ISIS isn’t responsive” to outreach, said a senior U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity….