PowerLine -> John Hinderaker will be filling in for Laura Ingraham on her radio show Wednesday – Jamal Khashoggi, the man and the myth

PowerLine -> John Hinderaker will be filling in for Laura Ingraham on her radio show Wednesday – Jamal Khashoggi, the man and the myth

Daily Digest

  • Media Alert
  • Jamal Khashoggi, the man and the myth
  • Mis-Measuring Racism: A How-To Guide
  • Opinion Rhapsody
  • Trump backs leniency for fentanyl dealers, etc. Part Two
Media Alert

Posted: 20 Nov 2018 04:40 PM PST

(John Hinderaker)I will be filling in for Laura Ingraham on her radio show tomorrow. The program runs live from 9:00 a.m. to 12 p.m. Eastern, and is heard at other times in some markets. We are still assembling the guest list, but the economy and the caravan will be among the topics covered, along with the genocidal horror that is Thanksgiving.

You can go here to find a radio station in your area or to listen online. If you miss the show live, you can get highlights via podcast on iTunes. Please listen in, and give us a call at 855-40-LAURA. As always, I enjoy hearing from Power Line readers.


Jamal Khashoggi, the man and the myth

Posted: 20 Nov 2018 03:17 PM PST

(Paul Mirengoff)Jamal Khashoggi the myth is the guy we read about in the Washington Post — fearless democrat, opponent of tyranny. Jamal Khashoggi the man is more like the guy Joseph Duggan writes about in American Greatness — a charming, cynical Saudi power player for whom democracy was an ends to a means, at best.

That’s why even the New York Times could not quite go along with the version of Khashoggi the Post has been peddling.

Duggan says this about his lunch encounter with Khashoggi in 2012:

[Khashoggi] and I understood one another. Just as I did not commit the absurdity of claiming to be an independent energy issues writer who by pure coincidence happened to be on the payroll of the Saudi government’s oil company, he made no pretense that Al-Arab [the network he was launching] would be an enterprise in independent journalism. There was, and there still is, no such thing as independent journalism in Saudi Arabia. Al-Arab was intended as an elaborate influence operation to project Saudi power just as Al Jazeera projects Qatari power.

In other words, Khashoggi wasn’t a journalist or a democrat; he was a propagandist for an authoritarian regime. Did he ever become a genuine democrat? Duggan doesn’t think so:

Khashoggi left Saudi Arabia in late 2017, the same time that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman detained Khashoggi’s patron Prince Alwaleed and other royal and non-royal oligarchs at the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton on allegations of corruption. Khashoggi soon was writing occasional columns for the Washington Post. Now that his faction of the royal family was on the outs, he had undergone an epiphany. He had discovered the desirability of respect for human rights, and even democracy! In his Post articles he waged a persistent campaign of criticism of the crown prince.

Was the new Khashoggi a lonely, idealistic individual or the instrument of Saudi factions in opposition to the ascendant crown prince? Common sense would suggest there’s greater probability in the latter thesis.

(Emphasis added)

What, then, was the nature of Khashoggi’s relationship with the Post? Duggan describes it this way:

Khashoggi, and whoever were his masters in the campaign opposing Prince Mohammed bin Salman, were in a transactional relationship with the Washington Post. They used the Post to undermine their rival and elevate their status. The Post in turn used Khashoggi for its ends of virtue-signaling and accumulating the sort of prestige and power it values. The Post and Team Khashoggi were cooperating, consciously and I daresay cynically, in influence operations for their mutual benefit.

I think Duggan is certainly correct about Khashoggi’s purposes. The description of the Post’s may be too harsh. What Duggan calls “virtue signaling” might be a genuine desire to see the Middle East become more democratic.

It may well be true, as Duggan says, that there is no democracy movement in Saudi Arabia, or any culture to support democracy there. Certainly, Khashoggi’s faction was not part of a democracy movement.

But there’s nothing wrong with the Post calling for democratic reforms in Saudi Arabia and running op-ed pieces by Khashoggi in support of this call. (Duggan hints that there may be some dark purpose, beyond “virtue signaling,” that underlies the Post’s decision to call for democratic reforms in Saudi Arabia, but he doesn’t say what that dark purpose might be).

There is something wrong, though, with the Post’s dishonest lionization of Khashoggi. As Duggan concludes:

Jamal Khashoggi, while possibly having been a decent human being regardless of what he actually did for a living, definitely was a man to whom democracy, and the culture necessary for democracy, were alien. . . .

Big Media’s constant description of Khashoggi as having been a mere “journalist” is a huge and consequential deception. It’s not clear exactly for whom or for what powers and interests Khashoggi was working when he wrote his Washington Post columns, but anyone who understands how the world operates should have a high degree of confidence in saying that he was never a journalist in the sense that word is understood in the free nations of the West.

Of course, he had the writing, editing and broadcasting skills of a journalist, but so do a myriad of other foreign intelligence agents around the world who use journalism as a cover—and in the case of publishing or broadcasting enterprises owned by authoritarian governments, it’s a completely see-through cover.

To mischaracterize Khashoggi as having been a journalist is a disservice to the few independent journalists who remain on the planet. It’s a dishonor to women and men who don’t have lavish lifestyles and who report with integrity without being agents of foreign governments.

The Washington Post, which has a direct pipeline to the CIA that bypasses the White House, knows this all too well. . . .

Jamal Khashoggi was a lively, attractive, interesting human being. No one deserves his cruel fate. His murder was a horrific crime, not only against one man but also against stability and security in the Middle East. That said, justice is not served by Big Media’s misleading reporting. Justice requires reporting clearly and honestly who and what Khashoggi really was.

The man, not the myth.


Mis-Measuring Racism: A How-To Guide

Posted: 20 Nov 2018 11:30 AM PST

(Steven Hayward)Years ago a friend who signed on with a large prestigious law firm recounted how one of his first orientation sessions was “sensitivity training” (the precursor to “diversity” workshops today) with regard to ethnicity and sexual orientation. Back in those innocent days it consisted largely in an inventory of terms and phrases that you might not be aware are pejorative or insulting to minorities. To which my pal said, “I learned a whole lot of offensive terms I didn’t know existed! So now I have an expanded vocabulary to use.”

Of course, today this kind of thing is down to an art form, as measuring racism has gone from using metaphorical calipers to metaphorical micrometers. How else are you going to classify ever-smaller “microaggressions”? But my pal’s inverse reaction to the hyper-sensitivity of sensitivity training came back to me when I came across a preprint of a forthcoming study by two Belgian academics who find that “Implicit Association Tests” (IATs) that seek to measure unconscious racial bias may actually increase racial bias. Here’s the typically dull abstract that is dynamite once you translate its cautious academic language into plain English:

The Implicit Association Test has been used in online studies to assess implicit racial attitudes in over seven million participants. Although typically used as an assessment measure, results from four pre-registered experiments (N = 940) demonstrated that completing a Race IAT exacerbates the negative implicit attitudes that it seeks to assess. Increases in White participants’ negative automatic racial evaluations of Black people were observed across two different implicit measures (SC-IAT and AMP) but did not generalize to another measure of automatic racial bias (Shooter Bias task). Results highlight an important caveat for the Race IAT, but also for many other forms of psychological assessment: that by measuring, we often perturb the system that we wish to understand.

Who could have seen this coming? Well, we have, several times, such as our reporting on how the “ban-the-box” laws prohibiting asking whether a job applicant has a criminal record actually increases discrimination against black job applicants (here, and here).

I think you can generalize beyond the findings of this narrow study and propose the hypothesis that the left’s obsession with finding racism—especially “subconscious” racism—is making it more difficult to address the real problems of race. Which is probably on purpose: without the racism banner to fly, just what do liberals have left?


Opinion Rhapsody

Posted: 20 Nov 2018 09:59 AM PST

(Steven Hayward)I haven’t seen the new biopic about Freddie Mercury and Queen, but from the reviews and such it looks pretty good. But in the meantime, some enterprising YouTubers who go by the name of Dustin and Genevieve have produced this “Bohemian Rhapsody” knockoff for the age of anti-social media, and it hits the target squarely:

Today’s chaser—I’d call this “bottom story of the day,” but that would be too cheesy:

Warrant: Man accused of bomb threat told NOPD he was referring to ‘bowel movement’

A man accused of threatening to blow up Willie’s Chicken Shack Tuesday night (Nov. 13) claimed to police when confronted about the allegation that his words were merely a reference to a bowel movement, the man’s warrant states.

Arthur Posey, 30, was booked on charges in connection to a bomb threat after his story was not corroborated with the restaurant’s employees, New Orleans police wrote in the warrant. Shortly after police were made aware of the bomb threat at the Canal Street restaurant, an officer confronted Posey inside a business in the next block, where the officer saw Posey enter.

Posey claimed to the officer he told a male employee he was going to “’blow the bathroom up,’ in reference to a bowel movement,” the warrant states. However, police say a Willie’s Chicken Shack employee told officers “Mr. Posey never told him anything about a bathroom.”

This week it looks like Florida Man needs to step up his game.


Trump backs leniency for fentanyl dealers, etc. Part Two

Posted: 20 Nov 2018 08:36 AM PST

(Paul Mirengoff)Yesterday, I wrote about President Trump’s support for what Sen. Tom Cotton calls jailbreak legislation. That legislation, known as FIRST STEP, enables the early release from federal prison of most categories of federal felons and sets lower mandatory minimum sentences for many federal drug felons.

Yesterday’s post focused on the politics of FIRST STEP. Today, I want to focus on how the legislation would affect fentanyl dealers. I focus on them because Trump has promised to get tougher on this category of drug dealer. Indeed, he seems to have advocated the death penalty for fentanyl dealers whose dealing leads to a death. (Of course, every fentanyl deal carries the potential of leading to a death and, short of that, ruining a person’s life).

Yet now, Trump is backing legislation that will enable the early release from prison of the vast majority of those who deal this deadly substance which America is producing so much tragedy in America today.

Here’s the problem: FIRST STEP provides for the awarding of early release time credits (in effect a get-out-of-jail card) to every category of federal felons except categories specifically exempted. But in the case of drug traffickers, only those found by the sentencing court to be an organizers, leaders, managers, or supervisors” are exempt. Ordinary dealers are not. They are eligible for the get-out-of-jail card.

A serious drug trafficking operation has many more dealers than “organizers, leaders, manager, and supervisors.” Moreover, felons higher up in a trafficking operation often plead down to a mere dealing offense, with the result that the sentencing court doesn’t find them to be an organizer, leader, manager, or supervisor.

Thus, according to Sen. Tom Cotton, more than 90 percent of federal felons who traffic in fentanyl will fall outside of the exemption for drug dealers. In other words, they will be in the category of those eligible for early release.

As if this leniency for these life-destroyers were not enough, many drug traffickers would be serving shorter sentences to begin under FIRST STEP. The result of shorter sentences and early release will is a huge reduction in jail time for drug traffickers as a class — at least half of today’s sentence in some cases.

This is not what President Trump promised. It is the reverse.

Sen. Cotton has laid out this case in a series of tweets. I reproduce the case below, minus the statutory references, which you can find at the link to his account:

Proponents of the First Step Act have said that “nothing in the First Step Act gives inmates early release.” [Note: I think Tom is referring to Sen. Mike Lee who attacked him on Twitter] But look at what the bill does to a fentanyl trafficker convicted of trafficking 1lb (enough to kill >100K people) under §841(b).

Assume this trafficker has a prior serious drug felony. Under current law, minimum 20-year sentence. Under the First Step Act, reduced to 15 years, or 5 years earlier release.

Next, trafficker is eligible for expanded “good time” credits because bill allows offenders to earn 54 days credit for each year sentenced instead of each year served. This section is applied retroactively, too.

Then, bill creates new “time credits” section, and trafficker can get 10 days credit per 30 spent in “evidence-based recidivism reduction programming or productive activities.” 15 days if “low-risk.” This = up to 1/3rd of the sentence, or 5 out of 15 years.

Some offenders ineligible for this, but fentanyl traffickers are eligible. Only fentanyl organizers—under 10% of traffickers—are excluded. This was sticking point in negotiations. @NationalSheriff & I wanted all excluded. Drafters said no.. . .

If the trafficker in “low-risk” category, he can use credits to transfer into “pre-release custody or supervised release.” In other words, he’s out early. If high-risk, trafficker still gets 25% 841(b) reduction.

This trafficker went from 20-year sentence to out in about 10 years (or less, if combined with programs already in law) if low-risk and out in 15 years if high-risk. Yet proponents claim there’s “no early release.” Should we not hold a hearing on this bill?

(Emphasis added)

Of course, the Senate should hold a hearing. But that’s not acceptable to Team Leniency. It knows FIRST STEP can’t withstand the scrutiny a hearing would produce.


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