PowerLine -> Lebron James, Kevin Love and the Google Memo

PowerLine -> Lebron James, Kevin Love and the Google Memo

Daily Digest

  • Lebron James, Kevin Love and the Google Memo
  • Coming: Lilla-Livered Liberalism?
  • Has Trump lost his focus on radical Islam?
  • A Colin Kaepernick update
  • Was it a hack or a leak?
Lebron James, Kevin Love and the Google Memo

Posted: 11 Aug 2017 02:26 PM PDT

(John Hinderaker)

At The Unz Review, Steve Sailer asks an excellent question about the controversy over James Damore’s memo on Google’s “progressive echo chamber”: “Why Are Damore’s Observations About Statistical Distributions Assumed to be Inevitably Aspersions on Women _already_ Hired by Google?”

Imagine if in an Alternative Universe in which the media’s diversity dogmas were based on their ostensible logic rather than on sheer “Who? Whom?” childishness, somebody asked Cleveland Cavalier all-time great LeBron James:

Q. “Why is there so little diversity and racial equality in the NBA?”

LeBron: “Well, I think we could be doing a little better outreach to under-represented ethnicities to show them what a great sport basketball is, but, yeah, basically, at the highest levels, blacks tend to be a little better than whites at basketball.”

Q. “Didn’t your stereotyping just create a Hostile Work Environment for your white teammates like Kevin Love? How can Kevin Love continue to play on the same team with a hate-filled bigot like yourself who doesn’t believe he deserves to be in the NBA?”

LeBron: “Wait a minute, I didn’t say that Kevin Love doesn’t deserve to be in the NBA. I specifically insisted that the Cavs sign Kevin as part of my plan to return to my home region and win Cleveland an NBA title, which we did. Granted, Kevin looked a little dorkier while defensively shutting down NBA MVP Steph Curry in the last minute of the seventh game of the 2016 Finals than, say, I might have, but damn that white boy got the job done when it mattered!”

Q. “But if whites are genetically inferior to blacks at basketball, then aren’t you saying that all the whites in the NBA don’t belong there?”

LeBron: “No, stop being stupid. The whites in the NBA belong in the NBA or they wouldn’t be in the NBA. We don’t have special programs to hire whites who aren’t really good enough to play in the NBA. What I’m saying is that there aren’t a huge number of whites who aren’t in the NBA who belong in the NBA but are being kept out of the NBA by anti-white racism.”

If I ran Google, I would say that any female employees who boycotted work for a day because they felt threatened by Damore’s memo are deficient in logic and should stay away permanently.


Coming: Lilla-Livered Liberalism?

Posted: 11 Aug 2017 11:18 AM PDT

(Steven Hayward)

When I see things like the meltdown at Google or any of the various campus disgraces that can be mentioned, I like to ask: “When are liberals going to defend liberalism?” One liberal who is standing up for liberalism is Mark Lilla of Columbia University. As noted here back in November, Lilla wrote an op-ed for the New York Times criticizing the Democratic Party’s reliance on identity politics. For this, one of his feminist colleagues at Columbia called him a “white supremacist.”

Next week Lilla’s short new book that expands his original critique will be published, The Once and Future Liberal. Unfortunately, I don’t have an advance copy and will wait for it to come in the mail in a few days like everyone else. But Rod Dreher at The American Conservative has read an advance copy, and he passes along this wonderful passage from the book:

Electoral politics is a little like fishing. When you fish you get up early in the morning and go to where the fish are — not to where you might wish them to be. You then drop bait into the water (bait being defined as something they want to eat, not as “healthy choices”). Once the fish realize they are hooked they may resist. Let them; loosen your line. Eventually they will calm down and you can slowly reel them in, careful not to provoke them unnecessarily. The identity liberals’ approach to fishing is to remain on shore, yelling at the fish about the historical wrongs visited on them by the sea, and the need for aquatic life to renounce its privilege. All in the hope that the fish will collectively confess their sins and swim to shore to be netted. If that is your approach to fishing, you had better become a vegan.

It’s going to be fun to watch the apoplexy of the left over Lilla’s book.  Stay tuned: I’ll have more.

Just hope no one at Google hears about this book.

Damon Linker (another liberal defector from the party line) has more here.


Has Trump lost his focus on radical Islam?

Posted: 11 Aug 2017 09:01 AM PDT

(Paul Mirengoff)

The estimable Ayaan Hirsi Ali thinks so. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, she reminds us:

Candidate Donald Trump vowed to take a fresh approach to Islamic extremism. He ditched the politically correct language of the Obama administration by declaring that we were mired in an ideological conflict with radical Islam, which he likened to the totalitarian ideologies America had defeated in the 20th century.

Mr. Trump also promised, as part of his immigration policy, to put in place an “extreme vetting” system that screens for Islamic radicalism. He vowed to

But President Trump hasn’t delivered:

Mr. Trump has had more than six months to make good on these pledges. He hasn’t gotten very far. The administration’s first move—a hastily drafted executive order limiting immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries—backfired when it was repeatedly blocked in court.

Worse, subsequent moves have tended to run counter to Mr. Trump’s campaign pledges. Aside from a new questionnaire for visa applicants, there has been no clarity regarding the promised “extreme vetting” of Muslim immigrants and visitors. The promise to work with and empower authentic Muslim reformers has gone nowhere. The status of the promised commission on radical Islam remains unclear.

Perhaps most discouragingly, the administration’s Middle Eastern strategy seems to involve cozying up to Saudi Arabia—for decades the principal source of funding for Islamic extremism around the world.

As to the last point, I think we should remember that the “cozying up to Saudi Arabia” is probably motivated by the need to form an alliance to counter Iran. Overall, however, I think Ayaan’s criticism of the president stands.

How to explain Trump’s failure to deliver? Some blame his advisers, such as H.R. McMaster, and not without justification, I believe.

However, in my opinion, Ayaan is right to place the primary blame on Trump. As she puts it, “he simply seems to have lost interest.”

The same statement probably explains a lot about this presidency. To be fair to Trump, though, the fact that his opponents have formed a “resistance” and placed him under siege for no very good reason makes it difficult for him — as it would for even a less narcissistic president — to remain focused on things like “Islamic extremism.” It’s understandable that when he’s not worried about Robert Mueller and his dream team of partisan Democrats, his focus is on matters like North Korean and Iranian nukes.

There’s also the perceived need to “put wins on the board.” Defeating ISIS in its strongholds is a win, even though the process of driving it out of Mosul and Raqqa was well underway before Trump took office. “Working with genuine Muslim reformers” and establishing “a commission on radical Islam” won’t register a win on the public scorecard.

Realizing that Trump is unlikely to follow through on these promises, Ayaan urges Congress to act. She proposes that Congress convene hearings on the ideological threat of radical Islam (and suggests, naively I think, that this can be an area of bipartisan agreement). “If the executive branch isn’t willing — if the president has forgotten his campaign commitments — lawmakers can and should step up to the plate,” she concludes.


A Colin Kaepernick update

Posted: 11 Aug 2017 07:53 AM PDT

(Paul Mirengoff)

Actually, this is a Ryan Mallet update. However, it’s relevant to Kaepernick because Mallet is the backup quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens, a team that has contemplated signing Kaepernick.

The Ravens starting quarterback, Joe Flacco, is injured. Thus, Mallet started last night’s pre-season game against the Washington Redskins.

Mallet was awful. He completed 9 of 18 passes for only 58 yards. His rating was 57.2.

Mallet’s actual performance was worse than these numbers indicate. He missed open receivers all over the field. He threw what would have been a pick-six (an interception returned for a touchdown) had the Redskins safety not dropped the ball.

Baltimore’s coach John Harbaugh defended Mallet, saying that he played “winning football.” But it’s not that difficult for a quarterback to play winning football when (1) the defense holds the opposition to three points, (2) the 13 points your team puts on the board while you’re in the game are mainly the result of the opponent’s penalties and a turnover, and (3) the opponent drops a pick-six.

Mallet’s career numbers aren’t much better than his numbers last night. His career rating is 64.9, with a completion percentage of 55.0, and seven touchdown passes vs. ten interceptions.

Kaepernick’s career rating is 88.9, with a completion percentage of 59.8, and 72 touchdowns vs. 30 interceptions. Last year’s numbers, compiled with a terrible team, were in line with his career stats. Plus, Kaepernick is an accomplished runner. Last year he gained 468 yards on the ground in 12 games, averaging 6.8 yards per carry. Mallet has run for -2 yards on 24 carries in his career.

The Ravens are probably concerned that fan reaction to signing Kaepernick will hurt the business. But Kaepernick has said he will stand for the National Anthem this year. Once that happens, if he’s given the chance to play for the team, fan anger is likely to dissipate.

This is a big season for the Ravens and coach Harbaugh. Until recently, this franchise was pretty much a fixture in the playoffs, but playoff appearances have started to dry up. Meanwhile, a rash of injuries has already hit this year’s squad. Going into the season with Ryan Mallet as the backup for a starting quarterback who, himself, is fighting injuries seems awfully risky.

I’m not a Ravens fan, but I am a fan of free expression. I hope the Ravens, or some other NFL team, signs Colin Kaepernick.


Was it a hack or a leak?

Posted: 11 Aug 2017 06:09 AM PDT

(Scott Johnson)

Yesterday the Nation posted Patrick Lawrence’s article on the purported hack of the DNC email by the Russians in the run-up to last year’s election. Lawrence reports the analysis by former intelligence officials who assert it was something else entirely. Lawrence’s article was posted under the heading “A New Report Raises Big Questions About Last Year’s DNC Hack.”

The “report” comes in form of open letters to the president by a group of former American intelligence officers. The group — Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) — was founded in 2003 and now has 30 members, including a few associates with backgrounds in national-security fields other than intelligence.

The group has written three open letters on the DNC incident, all of which were first published by Robert Parry at Consortium News. The latest is dated July 24 and posted here.

In his article Lawrence notes that “[t]he chief researchers active on the DNC case are four: William Binney, formerly the NSA’s technical director for world geopolitical and military analysis and designer of many agency programs now in use; Kirk Wiebe, formerly a senior analyst at the NSA’s SIGINT Automation Research Center; Edward Loomis, formerly technical director of the NSA’s Office of Signal Processing; and Ray McGovern, an intelligence analyst for nearly three decades and formerly chief of the CIA’s Soviet Foreign Policy Branch.”

Lawrence’s article presents the analysis based in part on “numerous interviews with all of them conducted in person, via Skype, or by telephone.” The analysis leads to the conclusion that the DNC email was not hacked, but rather leaked by an insider.

Lawrence’s article is shot through with the kind of left-wing rhetoric and allegations one might expect from the Nation. McGovern himself is the co-founder of VIPS and a left-wing activist. I take it that VIPS is a left-wing outfit.

The analysis presented by VIPS and reported by Lawrence nevertheless stands or falls on its own merits. It should be judged on those merits. They are, however, over my head. I can only say the analysis is interesting if true.

At Bloomberg View, Leonid Bershidsky performs a service. He summarizes the analysis and subtracts the rhetoric. Bershidsky’s column is “Why Some U.S. Ex-Spies Don’t Buy the Russia Story.”

UPDATE: I should have made it clear above that the actual research supporting the analysis was conducted by two anonymous workers — “Forensicator” and “Adam Carter” — working off publicly available information. The VIPS appear to be acting basically as publicists in this case.


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