July 2, 2021

Posted by orrinj at 2:47 PM


Clarence Thomas Really Wants to Get Rid of Qualified Immunity. The Rest of the Justices Don't Seem to Agree. (ELURA NANOS, Jul 2nd, 2021, Law & Crime)

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas took the opportunity Friday to again remind his fellow justices that it's time to seriously rethink the doctrine of qualified immunity. The court denied certiorari in Hoggard v. Rhodes, leaving in place the Eighth Circuit's ruling in favor of campus police who forced a college student to leave an area near a student union building. [...]

As Law&Crime has discussed at length, qualified immunity is a judge-created concept that shields federal and state officials from liability. It requires a plaintiff to show that the right of which they were deprived is either specifically codified by statute or is otherwise "clearly established" by case law at the time of the incident.  The doctrine, originally intended to put a manageable limit on post-Civil War lawsuits against police agencies in the South, has been often criticized in modern times for depriving victims of legal recourse even in grossly unfair contexts.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Remembering the "Fat Men's Clubs" That Begot Competitive EatingLong before Joey Chestnut conquered the Nathan's Famous, Americans worshiped a different breed of gurgitator (ELIOTT GROVER, 7/02/21, Inside Hook)

The Brooklyn Fat Men's baseball team traveled to Long Island to take on the Fat Men's Club of Flushing. Upon arriving, Brooklyn's starting nine crammed onto a hay scale. They weighed in at 2,211 lbs., or 245 per person. The New York Times described the team in a colorful article that ran on October 9, 1885. 

"They were all [formerly professional] baseball men ... since grown obese on beer and politics, but they were a lusty set of athletes and they declared that they could run their own bases and only wanted two small boys to assist the catcher."

After the weigh-in, the Brooklyn players positioned "resuscitating beer kegs ... at convenient intervals" while their captain addressed the media. Identified only as "Supervisor Jones," he did not hide his discriminatory approach to roster building. 

"I say with pride," Jones bellowed, "that no man is allowed in this organization who weighs less than 212 pounds." Leading by example, he tipped the scale at an impressive 325. "His general appearance," the reporter from The Times noted, "was that of the man in the moon in the gibbous state."

Jones was looking forward to the game, but dressing for it had proved challenging. He paid a boy 25 cents to help stuff him into his uniform. As the Brooklyn players finished their warmup, they noticed something was missing. Their opponents were nowhere to be seen. 

"The Flushing men," The Times reported, "had mysteriously disappeared, all save the captain, who was discovered peering over the fence in unspeakable awe. Upon the arrival of the massy Brooklynites, they had become stricken with remorse at their own puny showing, which would not average more than 225 pounds to the player." 

"The Brooklynites were highly indignant and so were the spectators, and their rage was with difficulty modified by frequent potations of the amber flood." In other words, the big boys got their drink on. 

Despite this story's anticlimactic ending, the day was not without drama. The wagon that had carted the "individual masses of rotund corpulency" from the train station to the ballpark nearly collapsed. 

If you start researching the Fat Men's Clubs that enjoyed prominent social status across America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, one of the first motifs you notice is that transportation was often perilous -- but not for the clubs' members.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


California sets rare governor recall election for September (Agence France-Presse, July 02, 2021)

Some 57 percent of likely voters surveyed in May said they would vote to keep Newsom, according to the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC).

Approval of Newsom's handling of the pandemic among likely voters shot up from 50 percent in January to 61 percent in May, the PPIC found.

The gulf between registered Democrats and Republicans in liberal California has more than doubled in percentage terms since Schwarzenegger's victory in 2003.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


US issues moratorium on federal executions (Agence France-Presse, July 02, 2021)

US Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday issued a moratorium on federal executions while a review of policy and procedures is pending to address "serious concerns" about the practice.

The move is a sharp break from the policies of former president Donald Trump's administration, which carried out a record number of executions.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Tucker Carlson and Glenn Greenwald's Shameless Marriage of Convenience (New Reoublic, Jul. 2nd, 2021)

"We know that the Democratic party and journalism in general has aligned with the CIA, NSA, and the FBI, and has aligned and merged with the security state," Greenwald told Carlson this week. "And so in response to the report you did, you would think other journalists ... would say we want to know whether the NSA is abusing their powers in order to spy on journalists they dislike. Instead, they mocked it."

In providing journalistic ballast to a story that so far appears to have none, Greenwald has made himself Carlson's willing partner in a potential lie. Their pairing has found its ultimate synergy in a story that combines Greenwald's righteous war against state surveillance and the mainstream media with Carlson's own narcissistic need to place himself at the center of the story. It would be a potentially perilous position for both, if either had anything to fear about their credibility. Instead, together they're pushing a story into the public consciousness that distorts and misrepresents the true threat of mass government surveillance.

They do nail the fact that their ideologies are not  aligned with the rest of the Republic.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


What actually is critical race theory anyway?Critical race theorists are interested not just in studying the law and systems of racism, but in changing them for the better. (David Miguel Gray, 7/02/21, Quartz)

There are a few beliefs commonly held by most critical race theorists.

First, race is not fundamentally or essentially a matter of biology, but rather a social construct. While physical features and geographic origin play a part in making up what we think of as race, societies will often make up the rest of what we think of as race. For instance, 19th- and early-20th-century scientists and politicians frequently described people of color as intellectually or morally inferior, and used those false descriptions to justify oppression and discrimination.

Second, these racial views have been codified into the nation's foundational documents and legal system. For evidence of that, look no further than the "Three-Fifths Compromise" in the Constitution, whereby slaves, denied the right to vote, were nonetheless treated as part of the population for increasing congressional representation of slave-holding states.

Third, given the pervasiveness of racism in our legal system and institutions, racism is not aberrant, but a normal part of life.

Fourth, multiple elements, such as race and gender, can lead to kinds of compounded discrimination that lack the civil rights protections given to individual, protected categories. For example, Crenshaw has forcibly argued that there is a lack of legal protection for Black women as a category. The courts have treated Black women as Black, or women, but not both in discrimination cases--despite the fact that they may have experienced discrimination because they were both.

These beliefs are shared by scholars in a variety of fields who explore the role of racism in areas such as education, healthcare, and history.

Finally, critical race theorists are interested not just in studying the law and systems of racism, but in changing them for the better.

Where they begin to run into trouble is when some advocates insist that racism is inherent in a certain group of people or in institutions generally and either or both are beyond remediation.  You can't oppose identity politics with identity politics and be either coherent or successful. 

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Robin DiAngelo Is Very Disappointed in the White People Making Her RichNice Racism--and the "anti-racism" consulting business--rakes in the bucks while losing hearts and minds. (MATT WELCH, 7.1.2021, reason)

This movement's journey from obscurity to ubiquity has been neck-snappingly brief--and measurably lucrative for its leading lights. "My average fee for an event in 2018 was $6,200," DiAngelo writes on her website's "Accountability" page. "In 2019, it was $9,200. In 2020 (as of August), it has been $14,000." In the book, she adds that she gives presentations on "whiteness and white fragility" on a "weekly basis."

Taking those numbers at face value, that's $728,000 a year just from speeches and workshops, to say nothing of book royalties and whatever the University of Washington is paying her. By most every yardstick, DiAngelo has achieved runaway success, lodging herself firmly in the top-earning 1 percent of the world's richest country.

But Nice Racism is an unrelentingly sour book, depicting the fight against systemic oppression as a joyless, never-ending slog through minefields of potential missteps, while relying to a comical degree on DiAngelo's exasperated encounters with people who have the temerity to disagree with her approach.

That latter description may sound uncharitable, but it's not. In a chapter titled "We Aren't Actually All That Nice," DiAngelo belatedly berates a (white male) London cab driver for telling her that he was sick of being called a racist and that he feared a group of black men who hung around his neighborhood. "Also worthy of note was his typical white lack of racial curiosity or humility about the limits of his knowledge," she snipped. "He had the author of a New York Times best-selling book who was in town to do interviews for the BBC in his cab, and he did not ask a single question about my thoughts on the matter." The nerve!

If you are a white person who has challenged DiAngelo in one of her seminars the past couple of years, you are probably in this book. There's "Sue and Bob," who reacted to her eight-point talk on "What's Problematic About Individualism?" by telling her that, no, they prefer treating people as individual human beings. "How could Sue and Bob have missed that forty-five minute presentation?" she huffed. "I was left wondering, yet again, what happens cognitively for so many white people in anti-racism education efforts that prevents them from actually hearing what is being presented."

There was "David," a white man who--after being asked to disclose his racial identity--chose an indigenous tribe he had just spent a few months living with. ("David held fast to his opening claim, which had a powerful impact on the seminar and which continued to direct our efforts and distract the group.") There was a white woman who complained that a DiAngelo-led webinar was not "advanced" enough for those who'd been doing such work for years. ("This move demonstrates an inability to think strategically about our own role in anti-racist endeavors.")

Then there were the white progressive participants of one presentation who, even after being told that "silence from a position of power is a power move," nonetheless declined DiAngelo's urgings to speak aloud about their experiences of "white socialization," and then complained afterward. "Given that in the case of racism, the worst fear of most white progressives is that they be perceived as racist, and both myself and the BIPOC people in the room gave them direct feedback that the effect of their silence was racism, how could they continue to hold back? What was going on?"

What indeed?

There's a palpable anxiety gnawing near the heart of DiAngelo's project, one that gives me a bit of hope in our fraught racial times. Sure, people are buying her books, shelling out five figures for her appearances, and being confronted with her ideas at workplace seminars. But are they really getting it?

Clearly, many are not, even among the self-selected group of progressive knowledge-class workers with a professed interest in DiAngelo's brand of anti-racism. 

If you focus on identity in these programs they are not just useless, which would be typical of all corporate training, but counterproductive.  When Action = Racism you've got a problem.