What Does Iran Have In Common With the Baltimore Rioters?

President Obama told Congress to stand down with respect to Iran, and Baltimore’s mayor reportedly directed police to stand down with regard to the looters. Which inspired the great Michael Ramirez to produce this gem, depicting Iran as a rampaging rioter and President Obama running interference–holding off, I would say, both Congress and Israel. Click to enlarge:

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Mayweather-Pacquiao: A Preview

The long-awaited fight between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather is tomorrow night. Will it live up to expectations? I doubt it: look for Mayweather to win easily.

It seems odd to say that the undefeated Mayweather, whose opponents are a who’s who of the welterweight division, is underrated. Nevertheless, it is true. Mayweather is one of the all-time greats. Eventually, he will lose to Father Time. But when that happens, Floyd will be beaten by someone who is bigger than he is, not smaller like Pacquiao. No one is going to out-box Floyd, a defensive genius possibly unexcelled in the annals of boxing.

Floyd Mayweather and Ricky Hatton in 2007

Floyd Mayweather and Ricky Hatton in 2007

Pacquiao has other problems, too. When I first started watching him seven or eight years ago, he was a hurricane, throwing a torrent of punches from every angle. But Pacquiao, more than Mayweather, is past his prime, even though at 36 he is two years younger. Some say the problem is drug testing, and that a PED-free Pacquiao is not the Pacquiao of old. I don’t know whether that is correct, but it is a fact that Manny hasn’t knocked out an opponent in over five years, not since he scored a TKO against Miguel Cotto in November 2009.

Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto in 2009

Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto in 2009

I watched Pacquiao fight Juan Manuel Marquez in 2012 on a big screen at a boxing gym, with a group of fighters and trainers. Marquez floored Manny in round three and then knocked him cold in round six. (To be fair, Marquez hit the canvas in the fifth.) I’m not sure I have ever seen a fighter go down harder than Manny did in the sixth. The question was not, will he get up by the count of ten; the question was, will he get up, ever? I thought Pacquiao would retire after that fight, his second consecutive loss. He rehabilitated his career with three decisions in 2013 and 2014, but anyone who thinks the Manny Pacquiao who will enter the ring tomorrow night is the Pacquiao who destroyed Oscar de la Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito and Sugar Shane Mosley is kidding himself.

Marquez KOs Pacquiao in 2012

Marquez KOs Pacquiao in 2012

So the fight will probably go the distance, but I see Floyd winning easily.

However, my son, who knows a lot more about boxing than I do, says: Not so fast! There are two reasons why Pacquiao might score an upset. First, even though Mayweather is an all-time great, judges do not necessarily love him. His defensive style fails to impress some. Thus, he scored majority decisions in two recent fights (Maidana and Alvarez) that he appeared to win easily. Second, money talks. If Pacquiao upsets Floyd tomorrow night–he is a two to one underdog–there will be an inevitable rematch, which means another nine-figure payday, and not just for the fighters. If Floyd wins that one there will be a rubber match at some point down the road–another big payday. So a cynical observer might wonder whether tomorrow night’s judges will score the fight for Manny if they possibly can.

Fair enough. But I don’t think the lure of a rematch will be enough to sway the judges if Pacquiao is thoroughly outclassed, as I expect he will be.

What We Have to Look Forward To

November 2016 is a long way off.  A reminder of what’s ahead: (more…)

Thoughts on the criminal charges in the Freddie Gray case [Updated by John]

As John discussed below, the Baltimore State’s Attorney is bringing criminal charges against all six of the Baltimore police officers who were involved in the arrest and handling of Freddie Gray. I have a few observations about this story.

First, in the accounts I have have read, the race of the six officers charged — Caesar R. Goodson Jr. (who is charged with second-degree murder), Brian W. Rice, William G. Porter, Alicia D. White, Edward M. Nero, and Garrett E. Miller — is not disclosed.

Their race is, of course, immaterial to their guilt or innocence. However, it is relevant to any attempt to argue that the treatment of Freddie Gray was racially motivated. I’m guessing that some of the six officers are Black and that if all of them were White, this would have been reported.

Second, as John notes, the Fraternal Order of Police has expressed concern that the Baltimore State’s Attorney, Marilyn Mosby, is married to Baltimore City Council member Nick Mosby. As I understand it, Nick Mosby represents a portion of West Baltimore where many African-Americans protested the treatment of Freddie Gray.

Arguably, the potential for a conflict of interest exists here. If Marilyn Mosby doesn’t throw the book at the six officers, might that not have an adverse effect on the political career of her husband?

I’m not taking a position on whether or not Marilyn Mosby should step aside in this matter. But I understand FOP’s concern.

Third, in announcing the charges against the six officers, Marilyn Mosby said:

To the people of Baltimore and the demonstrators across America, I heard your call for ‘no justice, no peace.’ Your peace is sincerely needed as I work to deliver justice on behalf of this young man, those that are angry or hurt or have their own experience of injustice.

This strikes me as an ill-advised comment. It suggests that Mosby may have been influenced by the desire to pacify protesters. I don’t say that she has been, but Mosby shouldn’t be making comments that allow anyone to assert this possibility. Absent political motivation, it would be smarter for Mosby not to say anything to “demonstrators.”

Finally, though it is important not to rush to judgment about this case, some sort of serious criminal prosecution may well be in order here. It appears that Gray died due to a severed spinal cord suffered while in police custody. Under these circumstances, there is plausibility to Mosby’s claim that her investigation revealed police misconduct that rises to the level of criminality. If that’s the case, then those who acted criminally must be punished.

To say more than this about the merits would be premature.

JOHN adds: Given that the whole point of this exercise is race, there has been surprisingly little information about the race of the police officers who were charged today. The photos I have seen of the arresting officers indicate, as I recall, that they were white. But the enterprising Steve Sailer has discerned that the officer who was charged with murder, Caesar R. Goodson Jr., is evidently African-American.

FURTHER UPDATE: It appears that three of the six police officers who were charged today are African-Americans.

Homicide Charges Brought Against Baltimore Police [Updated]

This morning, Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced that she is bringing criminal charges against all six of the Baltimore police officers who were involved in the arrest of Freddie Gray. Ms. Mosby said that her office has been conducting its own investigation since the day after Gray’s death, and both her decision and the timing of her announcement are independent of any other agency.

Mosby is charging one of the defendants, the driver of the van, with second degree murder. Nothing in Mosby’s press conference or in the news accounts I have seen suggests evidence that the van driver or anyone else intended to kill Gray, so I assume that Maryland’s statute allows reckless indifference, or some such standard, as the basis for a second degree murder charge. Three of the other defendants are charged with involuntary manslaughter.

In her press conference, Mosby alleged that the officers’ arrest of Gray was unwarranted and illegal. Contrary to prior reports, she says Gray was not carrying a switchblade, but simply a legal knife.

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Mosby has rejected calls for an independent prosecutor:

The Fraternal Order of Police asked Mosby to appoint an independent prosecutor in the case, citing her ties to the Gray family’s attorney, William Murphy, as well as her lead prosecutor’s connections to members of the local media. Murphy donated $5,000 to Mosby’s campaign and served on her transition committee. …

The FOP letter also expresses concerns regarding Mosby’s marriage to Baltimore City Councilman Nick Mosby. …

Mosby responded to that request by saying: “The people of Baltimore City elected me and there is no accountability with a special prosecutor.”

“I will prosecute any case within my jurisdiction,” she added.

Based on the facts as I understand them, I agree with her.

Arrest warrants have been issued for all six officers.

Mosby, just 35 years old, is an interesting figure. She is the daughter of police officers and won an upset victory over the incumbent state’s attorney in November. She has been in office for only three months.

UPDATE: There has been little comment on the race of the officers who have been charged, which seems odd given that coverage of the Baltimore riots has focused mostly on race. In any event, it appears that the officer who was charged with murder, Caesar R. Goodson Jr., is African-American.

FURTHER UPDATE: Apparently three of the six police officers who were charged today are African-Americans.

Dogmatism Rightly Understood

Last weekend I got to spend some time with a bunch of impressive students that the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) rounded up for one of their periodic leadership conferences, this time in Casper, Wyoming. One of the things I shared with the assembled students (who were really really bright) was my short list of indispensable essays or parts of classic books that everyone should re-read at least annually.

My list isn’t actually fixed, and it is not uniform, as it depends on the interests of the person or general topic area. I have slightly different recommendations for economics, literature, philosophy, history, etc.  But there are a few I recommend to just about everyone, starting first with Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language.”  Always useful to have on hand when, for example, the Obama Administration describes the Ft. Hood shooting as “workplace violence,” or the Libya bombing campaign as a “kinetic activity” rather than hostile military action. Beyond Orwell’s takedown of political euphemisms, his essay is a decent guide to clear writing.

Another important essay is F.A. Hayek’s “The Use of Knowledge in Society.” (Or click here for a PDF file of the original AER version.)  First published in 1945, Hayek spells out his basic cognitive critique of the limits of political control over social phenomena, which he later boiled down to a single sentence: “The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.” (His 1974 Nobel Prize lecture, “The Pretense of Knowledge,” works well, too.) You could consider this Hayek’s own modern restatement of Socratic ignorance and therefore the beginning of wisdom: I know that I know nothing.  You rather wish the architects of Obamacare, or Dodd-Frank, or just about any piece of contemporary legislation, would be made to study this essay every morning.  (Worth noting, incidentally, that Hayek’s classic essay was just selected as one of the 20 most significant articles to have appeared in the 100-year history of the American Economic Review.)

There are several others on my list, but one short book that I discussed at some length the other night: C.S. Lewis’s The Abolition of Man. It is short enough to read in one sitting.  First published in 1947, it is astoundingly prescient about what we’ve come to call “post-modernism,” or at least the widespread view that there are no rational foundations for moral principles, or no moral truths. I first read it as a high school senior in 1976, and still go back to it regularly today, appreciating it more and more every time. Lewis foresaw the implications of the spreading nihilism of the 20th century, along with Leo Strauss (Natural Right and History), Eric Voegelin (The New Science of Politics), and Richard Weaver (Ideas Have Consequences), among others.

Lewis’s elegant critique of the consequences of what we’ve come to call, somewhat oversimply, “relativism” culminates in this ringing sentence:

“A dogmatic belief in objective value is necessary to the very idea of a rule which is not a tyranny or an obedience which is not slavery.”

One the surface this statement might seem contradictory, if not in a sense shocking.  Why dogmatic?  If moral truths have an objective basis in reason (that is, natural law), why any need for dogmatism?

To give an answer to that question, let’s turn for a moment to a similar “dogmatic” declaration from the canon: Leo Strauss’s remark in his essay “Liberal Education and Responsibility” that “wisdom requires unhesitating loyalty to a decent constitution and even to the cause of constitutionalism.”  So it’s loyalty oaths and dogmatism?

Explaining the reasons why these two seemingly shocking statements are not shocking at all but highly necessary in our time could require a whole book (or a semester in the classroom), though a short version might be found, oddly enough, in an unlikely place: Federalist Paper #31, which is ostensibly just about the taxing power.  But Number 31 begins with a long preface of moral philosophy that boils down to this central point: the objective basis of moral truth is like proofs in geometry: they are grasped intuitively by “antecedent evidence” in Hamilton’s words, and if someone “doesn’t get it,” no amount of rational argument can establish the existence of moral truths.  “Where it produces not this effect,” Hamilton writes, “it must proceed either from some defect or disorder in the organs of perception, or from the influence of some strong interest, passion, or prejudice.” Today the “strong interest, passion, and prejudice” of the liberal mind is the unlimited autonomy or will of the Self, which cannot abide any constraint rooted in human nature. It is but a step from this unarticulated premise to a philosophy of unlimited government.

The trick of democratic politics, Federalist #51 explained, was enabling the government to be powerful enough to control the governed, but able to control (or limit) itself—that is, not so powerful that it threatens the natural rights of the people.  For liberals, rights today aren’t based in nature, but on will: anything you want becomes a “right” that government must secure by taxing and/or coercing your fellow citizens. It is a formula for tyranny; just ask Christian-owned bakeries right now. This is why Lewis says belief in objective value is necessary; the need for it to be “dogmatic” arises from the corruption of the liberal mind that more and more often today rejects reason and objectivity tout court. Against this highly trained incapacity to think, dogmatism is necessary, lest civilization itself slip inexorably away beneath the waves of nihilism.

Likewise in the second half of Lewis’s sentence, the idea of objective value is the only basis on which to answer the first question of political obligation: why should you obey the law? Post-modern liberals cannot answer the “why” of this question, and openly say that law is based only on force. Most of the time I am tempted to respond by saying: “Fine—how many of you are members of the NRA?” That’s how I let my dogma run over their (smart)-karma.

Clinton Cash with Lou Dobbs

Peter Schweizer appeared on Lou Dobbs’s excellent Fox Business Channel show this past Wednesday night for two short segments on his forthcoming book, Clinton Cash. Video of the first of the two segments is below.

Dobbs sets up the segment with a brief excerpt of Madam Hillary’s speech at Columbia University this week. At Columbia Ma’am Hillary read awkwardly from the Telepromter — awkwardly but very, very slowly, for the mentally challenged — on the need for the fox to restore trust among the hens in the henhouse. It was the perfect introduction to our friend Mr. Schweizer.

Peter alludes in the course of his remarks to some disturbing fallout from his book. The curious viewer may have his curiosity satisfied in the Business Insider report “The author of a book hammering Hillary Clinton says he now has full time security.”