Samantha Power doubles down on Emma Sulkowicz’s bogus rape claim

Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, delivered the commencement address at Barnard College on Sunday. Consistent with her ridiculous tweet of the same day, Power compared the situation of women in the U.S. with those in Afghanistan. As Eric Owens of the Daily Caller reports:

Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told the graduating class at all-female Barnard College that women continue to suffer from grave inequality in the United States. . .

Power also suggested that Afghanistan is superior to the United States in at least one way in terms of women’s rights because women currently hold 28 percent of the seats in Afghanistan’s parliament.

This is a great example of the leftist impulse to compare America unfavorably to foreign hell holes. Put aside the absurdity of assessing the the condition of women by the percentage of women its electorate freely chooses (or does not choose) for the legislature. The fate of women in Afghanistan is so parlous — thanks in significant part to the Obama administration’s plans to withdraw troops — that it’s almost obscene to compare the two countries.

For context, the Daily Caller’s Owens reminds us that the Barnard students whom Power addressed have just received an education that costs $250,000. This does not include four years of off-campus expenses in New York City or the expenses incurred during jaunts in exciting study-abroad locales such as France and Spain.

In war-torn Afghanistan, gross national income per capita is approximately $1,960, according to Owens.

But maybe college campuses are war zones for females students. Power suggested as much when she invoked the case of Emma Sulkowicz, a student across the street at Columbia University who carried a mattress around campus on her back all year to protest the school’s handling of her rape allegation.

As I discussed yesterday, however, Sulkowicz’s allegation is almost certainly false. A campus tribunal found no merit in it.

Moreover, the cleared male student has produced numerous text messages and social media conversations from before and after the night when Sulkowicz claims he raped her. The messages undermine her claim by showing that Sulkowicz made comments about having anal sex with the male student before the night when she says he anally raped her. She also messaged him several times after that night suggesting that they should meet up.

Is Power aware that Sulkowicz’s rape allegation has been discredited? One hopes not.

But even if she’s not aware of this, it’s disgraceful that the U.S. representative to the United Nations didn’t do some fact-checking before portraying Sulkowicz as a victim and making her the poster child for the plight of America’s female college students.

Power has made herself the poster child for the smear America, moral equivalence brand of leftism.

The Crisis of the Administrative State, Part 5: Government as Faction

The whole point of a limited government republic with the separation of powers and other constitutional safeguards is to keep government as a neutral force between factions and interests.  (See: Madison, Federalist #10. Rinse and repeat.) But today’s administrative state—the increasingly independent fourth branch of government—has transformed government into its own special interest faction, lobbying itself on behalf of itself—increasingly in partisan ways.

Case in point is a front page New York Times story today that ought to be a scandal:

Critics Hear EPA’s Voice in ‘Public Comments’

WASHINGTON — When the Environmental Protection Agency proposed a major new rule intended to protect the nation’s drinking water last year, regulators solicited opinions from the public. The purpose of the “public comment” period was to objectively gauge Americans’ sentiment before changing a policy that could profoundly affect their lives.

Gina McCarthy, the agency’s administrator, told a Senate committee in March that the agency had received more than one million comments, and nearly 90 percent favored the agency’s proposal. Ms. McCarthy is expected to cite those comments to justify the final rule, which the agency plans to unveil this week.

But critics say there is a reason for the overwhelming result: The E.P.A. had a hand in manufacturing it.

In a campaign that tests the limits of federal lobbying law, the agency orchestrated a drive to counter political opposition from Republicans and enlist public support in concert with liberal environmental groups and a grass-roots organization aligned with President Obama. (Emphasis added.)

The story goes on to report how the EPA worked in direct collaboration with environmental groups such as the Sierra Club to “stuff the public comment ballot box,” so to speak, likely in violation of the law. Good for the Times for giving this story front-page treatment. Now it should be the turn of the House Committee on Governmental Affairs and Oversight to hold some tough hearings of senior EPA officials, whom the Times names:

The most contentious part of the E.P.A.’s campaign was deploying Thunderclap, a social media tool that spread the agency’s message to hundreds of thousands of people — a “virtual flash mob,” in the words of Travis Loop, the head of communications for E.P.A.’s water division.

The architect of the E.P.A.’s new public outreach strategy is Thomas Reynolds, a former Obama campaign aide who was appointed in 2013 as an associate administrator. “We are just borrowing new methods that have proven themselves as being effective,” he said.

Make Mr. Reynolds have to hire an expensive lawyer, at the very least.

There’s something about Katy (and Lizzy)

I found Corey Kilgannon’s Saturday Saturday New York Times story to be worthy of note and thought readers might find it of interest. Kilgannon’s story is variously headlined “Long separated, sisters have a college reunion” (in the paper, where it caught my eye) and “2 women moved to write stories uncover a surprisingly personal one” (online).

I found it a touching story with plenty of material for further reflection. Here is how it opens:

Lizzie Valverde and Katy Olson were strangers when they enrolled at Columbia University a few years ago. Ms. Valverde is from New Jersey, while Ms. Olson had grown up mostly in Florida and Iowa.

Their lives crossed in January 2013, on the first day of a writing class, when they took part in one of those familiar around-the-table introductions that by the end had led them to a stunning realization.

These strangers were sisters.

The two women had come to Columbia to learn the finer points of storytelling and wound up in the middle of a doozy: an intertwined tale of their own that they say they could never have conjured.

Their shared story line — a chance reunion three decades after being born to the same troubled mother in Florida and then raised by adoptive families in different parts of the country — has been knitted together by years of curiosity on both women’s parts about their origins.

The “coincidences” do not end with their crossed paths in a writing class at Columbia. Both have pursued an undergraduate degree long past college age from Columbia’s School of General Studies. One sister is majoring in creative writing at the school; having already received her undergraduate degree, the other is pursuing her master’s degree in creative writing. Both had moved to New York City to pursue careers and decided at around age 30 to study writing full time.

And we also have this:

The two sisters grew up very differently. Ms. Valverde enjoyed a comfortable life in Bergen County in northern New Jersey, where her father was a television news editor. Ms. Olson, who has mild cerebral palsy, spent much of her childhood coping with physical challenges, including several medical procedures.

But from an early age, both were relentlessly curious, driven and passionate about writing, though they both also dropped out of high school and did not follow the conventional college-to-career path.

Kilgannon lets his story do the talking. He offers no theories beyond the reflection of the sisters’ birth mother:

For her part, Ms. Parker said that being reunited with her daughters had been inspirational, moving her to start healing rifts with her mother and siblings.

“I’m glad I chose to have them and gave them the chance at life,” she said. “I’m not religious, I’m spiritual, but if you don’t believe in a higher power, you would, when you heard their story.”

I believe in a higher power too, but I wouldn’t attribute the convergence of the twain to the higher power in this case (at least in the sense Ms. Parker means). The sisters’ story is not unlike that of the stories found by University of Minnesota Professor Thomas Bouchard in his longitudinal study of twins reared apart. Even though I got to know Professor Bouchard slightly when we both served as board members of the Minnesota chapter of the National Association of Scholars, I learned of his (famous) study in Daniel Seligman’s excellent book, A Question of Intelligence.

As I recall them from Seligman’s book, the stories discovered by Professor Bouchard in the course of his study are full of the kind of coincidences presented in Kilgannon’s story. Having misplaced my copy of Seligman’s book, I found this summary of Professor Bouchard’s study to be useful:

In 1979, Thomas Bouchard began to study twins who were separated at birth and reared in different families. He found that an identical twin reared away from his or her co-twin seems to have about an equal chance of being similar to the co-twin in terms of personality, interests, and attitudes as one who has been reared with his or her co-twin. This leads to the conclusion that the similarities between twins are due to genes, not environment, since the differences between twins reared apart must be due totally to the environment.

Case in point:

One example of the amazing similarity of twins reared apart is the so-called “Jim twins.” These twins were adopted at the age of four weeks. Both of the adopting couples, unknown to each other, named their son James. Upon reunion of the twins when they were 39 years old, Jim and Jim have learned that:

•Both twins are married to women named Betty and divorced from women named Linda.
•One has named his first son James Alan while the other named his first son James Allan.
•Both twins have an adopted brother whose name is Larry.
•Both named their pet dog “Toy.”
•Both had some law-enforcement training and had been a part-time deputy sheriff in Ohio.
•Each did poorly in spelling and well in math.
•Each did carpentry, mechanical drawing, and block lettering.
•Each vacation in Florida in the same three-block-long beach area.
•Both twins began suffering from tension headaches at eighteen, gained ten pounds at the same time, and are six feet tall and 180 pounds.

Kilgannon’s story of the separated non-twin sisters is obviously at some remove from that of separated twin siblings, but it seems to me to present an interesting variation on the same theme, including something of the inexplicable mystery of life.

Mad Men signs off with class and aplomb

The final episode of Mad Men, the long running hit cable show, aired last night. If you haven’t seen it but plan to, read no further.

Mad Men is an overrated show, but that’s mainly because no television show could be as good as gushing liberals deem it.

Why do liberals love Mad Men so? I think it’s because it tells them that America in the early 1960s was not only a hell hole for blacks, gays, and women, but that the wholesome family image of the time was a mirage. Liberals can thus feel less guilty about the near collapse of the family, and of wholesomeness, that the left-wing culture helped bring about.

Ironically, though, the upscale liberals who love Mad Men tended to opt, in the end, for the nuclear, intact family. Broken homes and single moms are for the lower classes.

Thus, Mad Men provides many liberals with an additional reason to pat themselves on the back for being superior to their parents. That generation gave lip service to the nuclear, intact family, but didn’t live up to its requirements. By contrast, modern liberals have embraced “family values,” while having the decency not to preach about them.

But you don’t have to be a liberal to be fond of Mad Men. The season finale, “Person to Person” reminds us of much of what there is to like. In particular, it reminded us of how the show offsets its cynicism with beauty and, above all, ambiguity.

Most of the most important characters got ambiguous send-offs. I found nothing cheap in any of them, not even the unambiguous fates of Joan Harris and Betty Francis.

Pete Campbell reunites with his wife and child, and moves to Wichita. Will this brat, philanderer, and big-city dweller find happiness as a family man in Kansas? Campbell has come a long way, but has he come this far? I don’t know.

Roger Sterling pairs up, finally, with an “age appropriate women” with whom he has great sex. That’s the good news. The bad news is that she’s the biggest bitch to have appeared in the show. Will the union between the impossible Sterling and this impossible woman work? Possibly.

Peggy Olson discovers that she loves her long-time co-worker Stan, who adores her. But should we believe that she truly loves him without ever having realized it? Or is she just “settling”? Her epiphany with Stan occurs moments after a disturbing conversation with her mentor Don Draper, about whom she has obsessed for years, in which she comes to believe that Draper may commit suicide.

Did this conversation spark a moment of madness or a moment of clarity? Somewhere in between, I’d guess.

Draper does not commit suicide, as the show often hinted he might. Stranded at a retreat on the California coast, the great cynic begins participating in New Age healing activities. We are all but told that the experience will inspire him (indeed, is inspiring him before our eyes) to the give the world the blockbuster “I’d like to give the world a Coke” ad, which will put him back on top of the heap.

This ad, with which Mad Men ends, is the same one Draper has built his career on — associating a product with “perfect harmony” — with one important exception. In his prior ads, the connection between family and product provided harmony. Now, having ignominiously failed as a family man, “the world” has replaced the family.

Draper will milk his New Age therapy for an iconic ad. But will the insights he seemed to gain at the retreat and during the rest of his “Sullivan’s Travels” enable him finally to be at peace when he arrives home and reinstates himself at the top of the heap (as was the case with Sullivan in the Preston Sturges classic)? I’m way too cynical to think so, but “Person to Person” permits this conclusion.

Obama’s Middle East Policy Is In a State of Collapse

You know it’s bad when even the Associated Press notices: “Rout In Ramadi Calls US Iraq Strategy Into Question.”

The fall of Ramadi calls into question the Obama administration’s strategy in Iraq.

Is there a Plan B?

The current U.S. approach is a blend of retraining and rebuilding the Iraqi army, prodding Baghdad to reconcile with the nation’s Sunnis, and bombing Islamic State targets from the air without committing American ground combat troops.

But the rout revealed a weak Iraqi army, slow reconciliation and a bombing campaign that, while effective, is not decisive.

On Monday, administration officials acknowledged the fall of Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, as a “setback” in America’s latest effort in Iraq. They still maintained the campaign would ultimately bring victory.

But anything close to a victory appeared far off. The Islamic State group captured Ramadi over the weekend, killing up to 500 Iraqi civilians and soldiers and causing 8,000 people to flee their homes. On Monday the militants did a door-to-door search looking for policemen and pro-government tribesmen.

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The Daily Mail has this map that shows ISIS closing in on Baghdad:

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The “sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq” that Barack Obama and Joe Biden hailed as one of Obama’s “great achievements” in 2014 has regressed into chaos as a result of Obama’s premature withdrawal of American troops. But it isn’t just Iraq. Syria is the closest thing to Hell on Earth. Iran is working away on nuclear weapons and delivery systems. Yemen has fallen to Iran’s proxies. Saudi Arabia is looking for nuclear weapons to counter Iran’s. ISIS occupies an area the size of Great Britain. Libya, its dictator having been gratuitously overthrown by feckless Western governments that had no plan for what would follow, is a failed state and terrorist playground.

It seems as though things couldn’t possibly get worse, but they almost certainly will. We are seeing the fruit of a set of policies that were based on the false premise that problems in the Middle East are mostly the fault of the United States. Not only were such policies misbegotten, they have been executed incompetently. The resulting collapse is occurring with sickening speed.

The Truth About Benghazi Slowly Emerges

Years ago, Judicial Watch served Freedom of Information Act requests relating to Benghazi on the Defense Department and the State Department. The Obama administration stonewalled, as always, so Judicial Watch eventually had to sue to enforce its rights under FOIA. That lawsuit has been going on for more than two years, as the Obama administration continued to resist producing relevant documents. Finally, on September 9, 2014, a federal court in the District of Columbia ordered the State and Defense Departments to produce certain additional documents. Those documents have been trickling in to Judicial Watch, heavily redacted.

Despite the redactions, some of the documents are bombshells. This one was sent to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the White House’s National Security Council on September 12, 2012, the day after the Benghazi attack. It says, among other things:

The attack was planned ten or more days prior on approximately 01 September 2012. The intention was to attack the consulate and to kill as many Americans as possible to seek revenge for U.S. killing of Aboyahiye ((ALALIBY)) in Pakistan and in memorial of the 11 September 2001 atacks on the World Trade Center buildings.

Here is the document in full:

Pgs. 394 398 396 From JW v DOD and State 14 812 DOD Release 2015-04-10 Final Version2

This report also describes the terrorist group that claimed responsibility for the Benghazi attack:

The attack on the American consulate in Benghazi was planned and executed by the Brigades of the Captive Omar Abdul Rahman (BOAR). [Ed.: Rahman is the Blind Sheikh.] BCOAR is also responsible for past attacks on the Red Cross in Benghazi and the attack on the British ambassador, they have approximately 120 members.

So much for Hillary’s infamous “Was it because of a protest or because of guys out for a walk one night who decide to kill some Americans…?” So much, too, for the scapegoat video.

Other just-revealed documents are also significant. A DOD document confirms that in October 2012, the U.S. knew that weapons were being shipped from Benghazi to Syria for use in the civil war there. It has long been rumored that Ambassador Chris Stevens was in Benghazi for reasons having to do with the flow of weapons out of that city:

Weapons from the former Libya military stockpiles were shipped from the port of Benghazi, Libya to the Port of Banias and the Port of Borj Islam, Syria. The weapons shipped during late-August 2012 were Sniper rifles, RPG’s, and 125 mm and 155mm howitzers missiles.

During the immediate aftermath of, and following the uncertainty caused by, the downfall of the (Qaddafi) regime in October 2011 and up until early September of 2012, weapons from the former Libya military stockpiles located in Benghazi, Libya were shipped from the port of Benghazi, Libya to the ports of Banias and the Port of Borj Islam, Syria. The Syrian ports were chosen due to the small amount of cargo traffic transiting these two ports. The ships used to transport the weapons were medium-sized and able to hold 10 or less shipping containers of cargo.

This DIA report, dated August 2012, is intensely interesting. It describes the situation in Syria and warns against the rise of the Islamic State:

The deterioration of the situation has dire consequences on the Iraqi situation and are as follows:

This creates the ideal atmosphere for AQI [al Qaeda Iraq] to return to its old pockets in Mosul and Ramadi, and will provide a renewed momentum under the presumption of unifying the jihad among Sunni Iraq and Syria, and the rest of the Sunnis in the Arab world against what it considers one enemy, the dissenters. ISI could also declare an Islamic state through its union with other terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria, which will create grave danger in regards to unifying Iraq and the protection of its territory.

Here is the document in full:

Pg.-291-Pgs.-287-293-JW-v-DOD-and-State-14-812-DOD-Release-2015-04-10-final-version11

Judicial Watch notes, perhaps sardonically, that “The State Department has yet to turn over any documents from the secret email accounts of Hillary Clinton and other top State Department officials.”

The belated release of these critically important documents, years after the fact, illustrates the success of the Obama administration’s stonewall strategy. Multiple investigations of the Benghazi attack have been carried out, and, while they have uncovered considerable evidence of malfeasance on the part of Hillary Clinton and others in the Obama administration, President Obama and his minions have succeeded in hiding much, perhaps most, of the most relevant evidence. In fact, it seems likely that key evidence has been destroyed, redacted or otherwise hidden, and never will come to light. This is, in my view, one of the more troubling aspects of the comprehensive corruption of the Obama administration.

Samantha Power and the analogy from hell

Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations has tweeted the following:

From a wmn carrying a mattress on her campus to Afghanistan’s Wmn’s Nat Cycling Team, reaching true equality req showing change is possible.

The woman with a mattress is, as Katie Pavlich explains, a reference to Emma Sulkowicz. She is the Columbia University student who carried a mattress around the campus as part of her “carry that weight campaign.” Her goal was to show how heavy the burden of rape is on a woman. Sulkowicz said she had been raped and would follow her rapist with the mattress until he was brought to justice.

But from all that appears, Sulkowicz wasn’t raped:

Paul Nungesser, the Columbia University student accused of raping fellow student Emma Sulkowicz, is now suing the university for doing nothing to stop Sulkowicz’s harassment campaign against him, which he claims “effectively destroyed” his college experience, reputation, and future career prospects.

His lawsuit contains a wealth of new information about the contested sexual assault, including dozens of messages establishing Sulkowicz’s sexual “yearning” for Nungesser, which she sent to him both before and after the alleged incident.

Power’s analogy is therefore completely out of line. As Pavlich concludes:

Just a few short years ago Afghan women had no rights at all. For Power to compare a Columbia University student who lied about rape to get attention to women in Afghanistan is absurd, an insult and completely out of touch with the realities of true injustice in the world.

For a certain kind of leftist, criticism of another country’s human rights policy must always be accompanied by an acknowledgment of America’s shortcomings. President Obama has turned this into a perverse art form, applying it even to criticism of ISIS.

Is the impulse to find “moral equivalence” the product of a desire to express national humility? Or is it down to simple lack of respect for America? Maybe the desire is driven by the lack of respect.

In any case, Power has taken the phenomenon to a new level. Her implicit criticism of America — an invocation of the “rape culture” theme — accompanies praise for, not criticism of, developments in Afghanistan.

And, if this still matters, it is based on a fictitious account.