CNN Hypes Audio Recording of Gunshots

CNN has obtained and published an audio recording of a Ferguson, Missouri man engaged in what sounds like a sex chat with a woman. In the midst of it, you can hear gun shots in the background. These are presumed to be, although CNN says repeatedly that it has not verified the recording, the sounds of Officer Darren Wilson shooting Michael Brown. Erik Wemple relates the story behind the recording.

Various observers, including CNN’s talking heads, have tried to attach great significance to the audio recording. CNN, promoting the recording as if it were a Blowup-type moment, recruited an audio expert who says he hears ten shots on the recording. I think there are pretty clearly eleven. CNN says that the recording “tells a different story” from Michael Brown’s autopsy, which found that he was shot six times. Beyond that, CNN and other observers have laid great emphasis on the fact that there is a “pause” in the shots. Six are fired, then a couple of seconds go by, and four–or five, as I think–additional shots are heard.

Is there anything especially newsworthy about this recording? I don’t think so. First, it is reasonable to assume that the number of shots fired by Officer Wilson has long been known to investigators. Assuming that he started with a full magazine, as in all probability he would, all you have to do is see how many rounds are left. Further, the idea that the recording somehow conflicts with the autopsy is ridiculous. If Brown was charging (or fleeing from) Officer Wilson, and Wilson fired his gun ten or eleven times, it is reasonable that four or five shots missed, and six didn’t. The number of shots fired is entirely consistent with the number that struck Brown.

How about the pause? Is it significant that Wilson stopped for a couple of seconds before resuming firing (assuming the tape reflects what CNN thinks it does)? I don’t think so. We don’t know, of course, whether the audiotape, or any other evidence, contradicts Officer Wilson’s account, since we haven’t heard Wilson’s side of the story. But, given that all of the bullets struck Brown from the front, it is plausible that Brown charged Wilson and Wilson fired in self-defense. It makes sense that Wilson would fire six rounds, then pause to see whether he had stopped Brown. (It usually takes several bullets to stop an assailant, and we don’t know how many of the first six shots missed.) If Brown resumed charging after a moment or two, Wilson would have continued firing. He only hit Brown with one shot that clearly would have stopped him; that bullet struck Brown in the top of the head, and most likely was the last one Wilson fired.

So the audio recording is consistent with what one would expect to hear if Brown charged Wilson and Wilson acted in self-defense. Whether it differs in any way from the account that Wilson gave to investigators is doubtful–Wilson likely knew how many shots he had fired, and certainly knew that the number would be obvious from an inspection of his pistol–but we can’t know for sure at this point. In short, the audio recording is interesting, but a non-story, at least for now.

College board mandates left-wing narrative for AP U.S. History

The College Board, the private company that produces the SAT test and the various Advanced Placement exams, is effectively requiring that AP U.S. History be taught from a hard-left perspective. It is doing so through a newly-issued “Framework” for its AP U.S. History exam. I warned of this development here.

Stanley Kurtz provides the back story. He points out that the co-chairs of the committee that redesigned the AP U.S. History Framework, Suzanne Sinke and Ted Dickson, worked closely together on a project whose goal was to reshape the U.S. History Survey Course along the lines recommended by Thomas Bender and the La Pietra Report.

Bender, a history professor at NYU, is (in Kurtz’s words) “the leading spokesman for the movement to internationalize the U.S. History curriculum at every educational level.” He is also a leading critic of “American exceptionalism,” which celebrates America as a model, vindicator, and at times the chief defender of ordered liberty and self-government in the world.

By contrast, Bender views America as (in his words) just “a province among the provinces that make up the world.” It is this view (and worse) that he has successfully urged the College Board to coerce high schools into teaching to our nation’s best young history students.

The La Pietra Report was the fruit of a project to create an internationalized U.S. history curriculum. Kurtz says that approximately one-third of the participants who forged the new curriculum were non-Americans. One of them was Cuban.

The co-chairs of the committee that redesigned the AP U.S. History Framework are also enthusiasts of the “internationalization” of U.S. history and enemies of American exceptionalism. According to Kurtz, Dickson was an original member of the joint panel seeking to advance the goals of the La Pietra Report.

On behalf of a joint advisory board of the Organization of American Historians and the AP (OAH-AP Joint Advisory Board), he co-edited a book called America on the World Stage: A Global Approach to U.S. History. Bender wrote the introduction, in which he explained the philosophy behind the La Pietra Report.

As for Sinke, a history professor at Florida State, she wrote the portion of the AP Framework on immigration. Kurtz reports that she tells the tale of an early 20th Century ethnically Dutch woman who immigrated to America, merely to leave and go elsewhere. She says her goal is to teach us “to think beyond national histories and the terms that are caught up in them.”

In other words, we shouldn’t get caught up in the idea that there was something exceptional about America that induced immigrants to come here. We were just another place to go — “just another pleasant country somewhere on the UN Roll Call between Albania and Zimbabwe,” to borrow a phrase used by both George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton to mock those who deny American exceptionalism.

Lawrence Charap, the College Board’s AP Curriculum and Content Development Director who was in overall charge of the AP U.S. History redesign process, also holds the United States in low esteem. Kurtz notes that he contributed a piece on American cultural imperialism to America on the World Stage: A Global Approach to U.S. History:

Charap’s essay highlights America’s commercial advertisements and anti-Soviet propaganda efforts in the Middle East during the Cold War. Charap seeks out off-putting examples of American propaganda and then suggests that students to put themselves in the places of people in the Soviet block or developing world as they respond to the American presence.

This, indeed, is teaching students to see their country through the eyes of its alleged “victims” and enemies.

And for Charap, our “victims” include the people in Central and Eastern Europe who were oppressed by the Soviet Union. This narrative goes beyond denying American exceptionalism. It is squarely anti-American.

The College Board’s “curricular coup” occurred soon after it selected David Coleman as its new president. Coleman is the architect of the Common Core. There should be no doubt that the Common Core is driven by a leftist agenda.

Americans have started to figure out, albeit belatedly, the harms associated with that project, and they are beginning to fight back. But how do we fight back against the anti-American U.S. History curriculum being imposed by the College Board?

States can reject the common core. But if high schools want to offer AP U.S. History (and it is to their advantage and the advantage of students that they do so), they must teach it as the College Board prescribes. Otherwise, students will be at a severe disadvantage when they take the end-of-the-year exam upon which college credit may depend.

As Kurtz concludes:

The brief five-page conceptual guideline [that] the Framework replaced allowed sufficient flexibility for teachers to approach U.S. History from a wide variety of perspectives. Liberals, conservatives, and anyone in-between could teach U.S. history their way, and still see their students do well on the AP Test.

The College Board’s new and vastly more detailed guidelines can only be interpreted as an attempt to hijack the teaching of U.S. history on behalf of a leftist political and ideological perspective.

One way or another, this cannot be allowed to stand.

Green Weenies for Third Graders?

Can we award one of our coveted Green Weenies to a bunch of third graders, or would that be bullying? We really do try to restrain ourselves from beating up on the Climatistas every day, because they just make it so easy with their relentless hysteria and McCarthyite antics. But when the Climatistas reach a whole new level of absurdity, we just can’t let it pass.

There’s a brand new website—IsThisHowYouFeel?—where climate scientists have embraced one of the common exercises of third grade teachers: handwritten letters about how you feel about something important! If I didn’t know better I’d suspect this was Anthony Watts taking up satire. But no, they really mean it. This one may be my favorite:

Click to embiggen

Click to embiggen

How climate change makes me feel:

I feel a maelstrom of emotions

I am exasperated. Exasperated no one is listening.

I am frustrated. Frustrated we are not solving the problem.

I am anxious. Anxious that we start acting now.

I am perplexed. Perplexed that the urgency is not appreciated.

I am dumbfounded. Dumbfounded by our inaction.

I am distressed. Distressed we are changing our planet.

I am upset. Upset for what our inaction will mean for all life.

I am annoyed. Annoyed with the media’s portrayal of the science.

I am angry. Angry that vested interests bias the debate.

I am infuriated. Infuriated we are destroying our planet.

But most of all I am apprehensive. Apprehensive about our children’s future.

Associate Professor Anthony J. Richardson, Climate Change Ecologist

Prof. Richardson left off, “I am a loser.”

This one is equally fine:

Click to embiggen

Click to embiggen

Knowing how much is at stake, knowing that I am one of the few people who understand the magnitude of the consequences and then realizing that most of the people around me are oblivious. Some of the people are not only oblivious, they also do not want to understand. They have made up their mind, maybe based on the opinion of someone they trust, someone in their family, or a friend, maybe based on a political conviction, but certainly not based on facts. 

It makes me feel sick. Looking at my children and realizing that they won’t have the same quality of life we had. Far from it. That they will live in a world facing severe water and food shortages, a world marked by wars caused by the consequences of climate change. 

It makes me feel sad. And it scares me. It scares me more than anything else. I see a group of people sitting in a boat, happily waving, taking pictures on the way, not knowing that this boat is floating right into a powerful and deadly waterfall. It is still time to pull out  of the stream. We might lose some boat equipment but we might be able to save the people in the boat. But no one acts.

Time is running out.

Associate Professor Katrin Meissner, ARC Future Fellow

This one is pretty good, too:

Dear Earth,

Just a quick note to say thanks so much for the last 4 billion years or so. It’s been great! The planetary life support systems worked really well, the whole biological evolution thing was a nice surprise and meant that humans got to come into being and I got to exist!

I’m really sorry about the last couple of 100 years – we’ve really stuffed things up haven’t we! I though we climate scientist might be able to save the day but alas no one really took as seriously. Everyone wants to keep opening new coal mines and for some reason that escapes me are happy to ignore the fact that natural gas is a fossil fuel. Well, no one can say we didn’t try!

You’re probably quietly happy that “peak human” time has come and gone and it’s kind of all downhill got us now, though I guess you’re more than a bit miffed at what we’ve done to your lovely ecosystem (the forests and corals were a really nice touch by the way) and sorry again for the tigers, sharks etc.

In case you were wondering, our modeling suggests that your global biogeochemical cycles (especially the carbon one) should reach a new dynamic equilibrium in about 100,000 years or so. I guess it will be a bit of a rocky road until then but, oh well, no one said the universe was meant to be stable!

All the best and do try and maintain that “can do” attitude we love so much.

Prof Brendan G. Mackey, PhD

There’s a bunch more if you have the time. Congratulations to all the Climatistas who have become rising third graders. Green Weenies all around.

UPDATE:  Hoo boy, not to be outdone, photographer Nick Bowers has compiled a bunch Leibowitz-style black and white photos of “Scared Scientists.”  This ought to do the trick.  (Though they look like outtakes from Grapes of Wrath or something, though I suppose that’s the point.)  Here’s one, of Shauna Murray, an Australian biologist:

Fright 1 copyLooks to me more like desperation.


No longer even “leading from behind,” Obama is out of the loop in Libya

Egypt and the United Arab Emirates carried out airstrikes in Tripoli this weekend against the Islamist militants who were in the process of taking control of that city and its airport. The airstrikes appear to have failed to prevent that takeover.

The government of Libya is, in the words of its ambassador to Egypt, “unable to protect its institutions, its airports, and natural resources, especially the oil fields.”

Moreover, the U.S., which was unable to protect its personnel in Benghazi and has abandoned its embassy in Tripoli, isn’t about to help. Indeed, as Simon Henderson of Washington Institute for Near East Policy says, “the airstrikes [by Egypt and the UAE] likely indicate the frustration in Cairo and Abu Dhabi with the lack of U.S. action to stabilize Libya and act against growing anarchy in the Middle East.”

What was the Obama administration’s comment about the airstrikes. Speaking for the wimps, Jen Psaki offered this mush:

Libya’s challenges are political, and violence will not resolve them. Our focus is on the political process there. We believe outside interference exacerbates current divisions and undermines Libya’s democratic transition. And that’s why our focus remains on urging all factions to come together to peacefully resolve the current crisis.

Thus, having fled from Libya, U.S. policy consists of “urging” the jihadists who chased us out to be peaceful.

According to the Washington Post, Egypt and the UAE did not tell the Obama administration about the airstrikes ahead of time, nor was the administration aware that they would take place. Given Team Obama’s school-marmish position on Libya, coupled with its fecklessness throughout the region, we can easily understand why.

Whopper Donut Cheeseburgers, Eh?

I want mine medium-rare.

I want mine medium-rare.

So Burger King is going to acquire the Canadian Tim Horton’s donut chain, in yet another tax inversion that causes so much cranial-rectal inversions among liberals. I sure hope we get a donut Whopper cheeseburger out of this merger.  With bacon.  That would be more awesome than a deep-fried Twinkie. (Lo and behold, turns out the genera already exist.)

Even more delightful than finding out that liberal hero Warren Buffett is financing this tax-avoidance merger is the dilemma this poses for the fast-food nutrition police (Michelle Obama, call your office). Before we call out Burger King for its supposed lack of patriotism (“Et Tu, Burger King?” asks Obama economic crony Jared Bernstein, while Sen. Sharrod Brown is calling for a BK boycott), shouldn’t we ask a couple of basic questions first? If the fast-food industry is so bad for America, shouldn’t we applaud that its HQ is leaving?

Faithful Power Line reader Richard Samuelson asks an even more delightful version of this:

Is it worth pointing out that the Progressive push to educate our elites out of their Americanism gives them no reason to stay in the U.S., or to keep the companies they run in the U.S.?

Heh. Where’s my donut?  (Besides, I thought for the left, corporations aren’t “people.”  Can a non-person be unpatriotic?)

IRS ordered Lerner’s blackberry destroyed after her computer crashed

The New York Observer reports that, according to an IRS court filing, the IRS destroyed Lois Lerner’s Blackberry after it knew her computer had crashed and after a Congressional inquiry was well underway. An IRS official declared under the penalty of perjury that the destroyed Blackberry would have contained the same emails (both sent and received) as Lois Lerner’s hard drive.

Lerner’s hard drive crashed in June 2011 and the IRS destroyed it. A year later, the IRS also destroyed her Blackberry without making any effort to retain the emails it contained. By then, Congress had commenced its investigation into the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups.

In the IRS’s court filing about the destruction of Lerner’s Blackberry, it states:

Standard IRS practice and policy in the collection of electronic data does not include collecting data from Blackberry devices because the email of a Blackberry user is collected through the process of collecting the contents of the user’s Outlook mailbox files.

However, as the Observer’s Sidney Powell points out, this “practice” seems far from “standard” when (a) the user’s computer has crashed and (b) the user is being investigated by Congress. Under these circumstances, destruction of Blackberry without retrieving emails smacks of willful disregard for the law and contempt for Congress.

Fortunately, it now appears that, contrary to the IRS’s prior claims, the missing Lerner emails can be retrieved from federal government-wide backup data. But given the destruction of Lerner’s Blackberry, Judge Sullivan, who is overseeing the search for electronic data, has reason to expand that search. As the Observer says:

Don’t be surprised if Judge Sullivan decides it’s time to order production of everything on that Blackberry, issue subpoenas to third party servers including Blackberry for the dates covered by the Blackberry the IRS destroyed, unleash [Magistrate] Judge Facciola, allow Judicial Watch more discovery, prohibit the IRS from destroying anything else, and start a list of lawyers who would make a good special prosecutor.

A Bridge to Nowhere?

My long review of Rick Perlstein’s The Invisible Bridge is in the can at the Claremont Review of Books (subscribe now you so can get the whole thing the day it comes out). Perlstein’s latest massive book has been generating more buzz than a turbine with bad ball bearings, with even some conservatives who ought to know better praising this malignant hit piece.

Not much subtlety here.

Not much subtlety here.

I thought it likely that my forthcoming review would be the longest and most definitive—until I saw Geoffrey Kabaservice’s smackdown today in The National Interest. Kabaservice is, I’m pretty sure, a liberal, and he’s known for his book Rule and Ruin: The Downfall of Moderation and the Destruction of the Republican Party, from Eisenhower to the Tea Party. Kabaservice is a good writer, but you can tell where this is going from the title alone. He prefers the good old days when Republicans rolled over for liberalism with only a few mild whimpers. These tea party people are icky! (Or, as Eugene McCarthy put it, the chief purpose of moderate Republicans is to shoot the wounded after the battle is over.) If you have some spare time, you can see me tangle with Kabaservice a couple years ago in this C-SPAN televised panel in Washington (it’s almost an hour and a half long, but there are some fun parts—mostly of my doing, I think).

Like Sam Tanenhaus, another smart liberal who doesn’t think much of Perlstein, Kabaservice doesn’t mince words:

Perlstein is a talented but erratic writer. . . all of this history is filtered through a New Journalism writing style that is more annoying than stimulating. . .

He continually inserts himself into the narrative with sarcastic asides that make reading the book akin to watching an episode of the cult television show Mystery Science Theater 3000, in which the movie onscreen is drowned out by its wisecracking spectators.

As a huge MST3K fan, I wish I’d thought of that line, as it fits perfectly. But Kabaservice is just getting started:

PERLSTEIN’S SPASTIC WRITING detracts from the historical material he presents . . . the narrative suffers from Perlstein’s desire to squeeze the era into a procrustean analytical framework. . .

The reader’s own suspicion grows that Perlstein’s motive is not so much to explore the 1970s in all their complexity as to expose the villains who forced America into its alleged contemporary cult of optimism and willful blindness to national faults—and, unsurprisingly, he finds nearly all these moustache-twirlers on the conservative side.

But even a casual viewer of Fox News will know that today’s conservatives are simultaneously critics and boosters of America, fearful of its big government and deeply suspicious of its politics and culture while in the same breath maintaining that it is still the envy of the world.

THIS IDEOLOGICAL agenda makes Perlstein an unreliable narrator—incapable, for example, of attempting any objective evaluation of a complicated historical figure like Richard Nixon. Perlstein is content to present Nixon, largely through the lens of Watergate, as a black-hearted conservative malefactor and two-dimensional doer of dastardly deeds. But this is a tired and indeed anachronistic interpretation that serious historians haven’t held for decades. . .

FOR A WRITER who insists that respect for complexity is a moral virtue, Perlstein proffers a surprisingly simplistic analysis. . .

But Perlstein ultimately is purveying a shallow and tendentious version of history that will only convince the already converted: those who believe in the innate baseness of conservatives. He is not writing what his publisher boasts “is becoming the classic series of books about the rise of modern conservatism in America” in order to investigate and understand but rather to mock and condemn. This is history that sets out to expose the limitations of conservatives but ends up exposing the limitations of the author. Anyone seeking a definitive history of the transition from Nixon to Reagan should look elsewhere.

So with that as a warm up, you’ll have to wait for my forthcoming review, which, as promised, is going to be epic.

P.S. Back when Perlstein’s previous book Nixonland came out, Michael Kazin (mentioned here yesterday) and the Tocqueville Center at Georgetown University hosted me and Perlstein for abpanel that was sharp though cordial. I asked Rick if he’d care to do it again. He declined.