"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Girl of the Day - Lee Remick

Lee Remick

She would have been 79 on Sunday.   It's hard to imagine there could be a sexier performance by an actress than a young Lee Remick turned in in the great great great Anatomy of a Murder with Jimmy Stewart, George C. Scott, Ben Gazzara and others.   Here's a taste:

Calling for a Declaration of War

Here's a chilling headline.   We've seen this sort of thing for months; we're going to see a lot more, I'm afraid:

Four young Christians brutally beheaded by ISIS in Iraq for refusing to convert to Islam, says British Vicar of Baghdad forced to flee

Here's my question:

Under what circumstances will the United States ever declare war and wage war with the intent of defeating this enemy?

ISIS call themselves a state.

They've pledged themselves our enemy.

They are, as we speak, committing genocide.  

If I were President Obama, I'd stop dicking around with these guys and stop dicking around with "authorizations" from Congress or arguments about the scope of my authority as Commander in Chief.   I'd just go to Congress with this headline and wave it on camera and demand a declaration of war against ISIS.   Again, they call themselves a "state."   Well, so be it.   The last two states that declared war on us, Germany and Japan, well... I wonder if the ISIS boys have seen pictures of Dresden or Tokyo ca. 1945.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Update to the Update on the UVA Gang Rape Hoax


Well, although it was somewhat predictable, I didn't think it would happen quite so fast.   The UVA rape story has completely fallen apart.   Here is the nail in the coffin from the Washington Post:

Randall said he met Jackie shortly after arriving at U-Va. in fall 2012 and the two struck up a quick friendship. He said Jackie was interested in pursuing a romantic relationship with him; he valued her friendship but wasn’t interested in more. 
The three friends said Jackie soon began talking about a handsome junior from chemistry class who had a crush on her and had been asking her out on dates. 
Intrigued, Jackie’s friends got his phone number from her and began exchanging text messages with the mysterious upperclassman. He then raved to them about “this super smart hot” freshman who shared his love of the band Coheed and Cambria, according to the texts, which were provided to The Post. 
“I really like this girl,” the chemistry student wrote in one message. Some of the messages included photographs of a man with a sculpted jaw line and ocean-blue eyes. 
In the text messages, the student wrote that he was jealous that another student had apparently won Jackie’s attention. 
“Get this she said she likes some other 1st year guy who dosnt like her and turned her down but she wont date me cause she likes him,” the chemistry student wrote. “She cant turn my down fro some nerd 1st yr. she said this kid is smart and funny and worth it.” 
Jackie told her three friends that she accepted the upperclassman’s invitation for a dinner date on Friday, Sept. 28, 2012. 
Curious about Jackie’s date, the friends said that they tried to find the student on a U-Va. database and social media but failed. Andy, Cindy and Randall all said they never met the student in person. Before Jackie’s date, the friends became suspicious that perhaps they hadn’t really been in contact with the chemistry student at all, they said. 
U-Va. officials told The Post that no student with the name Jackie provided to her friends as her date and attacker in 2012 had ever enrolled at the university. 
Randall provided The Post with pictures that Jackie’s purported date had sent of himself by text message in 2012. The Post identified the person in the pictures and learned that his name does not match the one Jackie gave friends in 2012. In an interview, the man said he was Jackie’s high school classmate but “never really spoke to her.” 
The man said he was never a U-Va. student and is not a member of any fraternity. Additionally, he said that he had not visited Charlottesville in at least six years and that he was in another state participating in an athletic event during the weekend of Sept. 28, 2012. 
“I have nothing to do with it,” he said. He said it appears that the circulated photos were pulled from social media Web sites.
The WaPo author doesn't use the word "hoax," but he doesn't really have to, does he?   It seems plainly implied by this that "Jackie" made up a fake upperclassman who was interested in her in order to make her freshman crush, Randall (one of the three friends from the Rolling Stone story) jealous.   She even faked his picture using a high school acquaintance's picture, and faked texts to her friends pretending to be him.

The next leap should be obvious... if she just happened to be creating an elaborate hoax on the same night, what are the odds that her rape story has any credibility whatsoever.   I'd say zero.   There's a principle in the law, falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus.   If a witness will lie about one thing, you can't trust anything she says.

Nor should any of this be too surprising.   Anyone who has any memory of college and any honesty or insight at all should have seen through this from the beginning. Freshman arrive at college often not knowing anyone. This is particularly true at fairly "elite" colleges, because they draw kids from all over the country.

They are thus often understandably anxious to fit in, and the way to do that often includes telling tall tales to new friends to make themselves look cooler, hipper, smarter, more accomplished, more dramatic.

Sometimes it's relatively innocuous. Kids lie about their high school GPAs or their SAT scores. Kids lie about their achievements in high school sports. Sometimes they lie, weirdly, but understandably, to make themselves look more worldly. They tell stories about what they did when they were "wasted." They tell stories about illegal things they did.

And, yes, very very often they tell stories about sex.

Again, most of the time this fabulism is innocuous and sometimes, if the storyteller is a good one, a raconteur, it can even be charming.

But in a college culture that increasingly puts a premium on being a victim -- of racism or of rape are the two prime examples -- sometimes these stories require the manufacturing of a villain. And then they're not innocuous; then they cross over into an accusation that can ruin a young person's life. 

This young girl in the UVA story has an excuse... she's young and desperate and possibly a little mentally ill.  

But what's the excuse of the adults at the Rolling Stone for publishing her fable as fact?

And what's the excuse of the adults in the UVA administration and even the U.S. Senate for believing it so easily?

Friday, December 5, 2014

Update on the UVA Story/Hoax

It appears that the UVA story is officially falling apart.   Here is a letter published today by Rolling Stone:

To Our Readers: 
Last month, Rolling Stone published a story titled "A Rape on Campus" by Sabrina Rubin Erdely, which described a brutal gang rape of a woman named Jackie at a University of Virginia fraternity house; the university's failure to respond to this alleged assault – and the school's troubling history of indifference to many other instances of alleged sexual assaults. The story generated worldwide headlines and much soul-searching at UVA. University president Teresa Sullivan promised a full investigation and also to examine the way the school responds to sexual assault allegations. 
Because of the sensitive nature of Jackie's story, we decided to honor her request not to contact the man she claimed orchestrated the attack on her nor any of the men she claimed participated in the attack for fear of retaliation against her. In the months Erdely spent reporting the story, Jackie neither said nor did anything that made Erdely, or Rolling Stone's editors and fact-checkers, question Jackie's credibility. Her friends and rape activists on campus strongly supported Jackie's account. She had spoken of the assault in campus forums. We reached out to both the local branch and the national leadership of the fraternity where Jackie said she was attacked. They responded that they couldn't confirm or deny her story but had concerns about the evidence.  
In the face of new information, there now appear to be discrepancies in Jackie's account, and we have come to the conclusion that our trust in her was misplaced. We were trying to be sensitive to the unfair shame and humiliation many women feel after a sexual assault and now regret the decision to not contact the alleged assaulters to get their account. We are taking this seriously and apologize to anyone who was affected by the story. 
Will Dana
Managing Editor

Let me put you some knowledge via parsing.   Note how they now use the verb "claimed."   The purported rape victim, Jackie, now "claimed" that a man (a boy named "Drew") orchestrated the attack.   She now "claimed" that other boys participated in the gang rape.   Then they say unequivocally that "our trust in her was misplaced."   My interpretation?   They've figured out through re-reporting the story that it was a hoax.   They don't say what "discrepancies" or "new information" caused them to come to this conclusion.   But I'll bet they have some pretty damning stuff.

Here's what I think happened to cause this extraordinary mea culpa.   I think a lawyer for the fraternity or the boys or the university came to them with hard evidence that the girl was lying.   I think they then said that they were prepared to file a multi-million dollar libel suit against Rolling Stone if they didn't retract it.   Note here that these aren't public figures.   These are young college aged men with a lifetime of earning potential in front of them as graduates of an elite university.  The privileges that attach to false statements about public figures so long as they aren't malicious don't apply to libel of non-public figures.   So the chances of making out a claim for libel are significantly greater.   And the damages to these young men could be very high indeed.   Frankly, a class action on behalf of the hundreds or perhaps thousands of members of UVA fraternities against Rolling Stone wouldn't be out of the question.  

So... when you read "we are taking this seriously and apologize," you should interpret that as "please please please don't sue us."

Anyway, that's what I now think.   If they stood by the story at all, they would say so.   But they don't.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The UVA Story

By now you may have heard of the sensationalist Rolling Stone article about sexual assault at UVA.   The article, in a nutshell, has as its centerpiece and lede the story of "Jackie," a freshman, who was asked on a date to a fraternity party, then, in what we are led to believe was a premeditated conspiracy, violently gang-raped and sodomized by seven pledges for three hours while two upperclassmen looked on and issued instructions.   The article then goes on to describe the university's handling of the incident in highly unflattering terms, essentially accusing UVA of sweeping it under the rug to protect its reputation.   The article has -- as undoubtedly was intended -- caused a furor at UVA, which has now shut down all of its fraternities for the remainder of the first semester pending an investigation.  

The article has since been criticized forcefully by various commentators as being shoddy journalism.   The author took the victim's word for every detail, never sought out the accused boys, apparently didn't interview the other alleged witnesses, etc.   Moreover, the article has some details -- the three-hour rape allegedly took place over the shards of glass from a shattered coffee table -- that strain credulity.   In short, it seems like a rush job.   That shouldn't be surprising -- the article was published in mid-November, based on interviews over the summer, a time in which the Left in America was desperately hawking a war on women and, particularly, war on young women angle as a way of juicing turnout for the midterms.   This was a story that might have been "too good to check."

But, that being said, I don't know and no one can know how much of the story is true.   If true, then it's horrific and nine boys need to go to jail for a long, long time.   If false, then it's equally horrific, and the girl who made up a sensationalist rape story to slander those boys also needs to go to jail.   The likelihood is that the truth is somewhere in between... something sexual happened, likely fueled by alcohol, possibly involving a boy or boys going too far and a girl possibly doing things she regretted or else being forced to do things she didn't want to do.   It may have shaded to the side of an embarrassment; it may have shaded to the side of criminal conduct.   I don't know.   No one knows. 

Here's what I do know.    The case presents the collision of two undeniable facts of human nature:
1. Young men unconstrained by older men (mentors, fathers, neighbors, sergeants and officers and, most importantly, the fathers of available young girls) will sometimes commit sexual mis- and malfeasances, up to and including gang rape.  
2. Human beings, including young women, have a propensity to create fictions in which they take the roles of heroic victims of malevolent larger forces as a way of getting sympathetic attention.
Sadly, lack of constraints on sexual behavior of adolescents and abundance of rewards for victimhood narratives are both features (not bugs) of the contemporary college campus. 
Indeed, this story can perhaps be understood best as a crisis in the ideology of the university, which since the 1960s has been committed to two conflicting ideas, sexual libertinism on the one hand and feminism, which in its contemporary evolution has become increasingly prudish toward male sexuality, on the other.  
And all of it in the context of what has become an enormous business, extracting, in the case of UVA, upwards of $50,000 a year from the out-of-state students it tries very hard to attract.    Counting tuition, room, board, fees, books, etc., the revenue from UVA's 14,000 or so undergraduates is something like half a billion dollars a year.   That's a big business.   Forget about "reputation"... what UVA is struggling to protect is a very, very valuable brand.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Quote of the Day - Victor Davis Hanson

From his piece today in NRO:

Eric Holder – with his jet-setting to sporting events on the public dime, spouting inflammatory racialist rhetoric, politicizing the Justice Department, selectively enforcing settled law, and being held in contempt of Congress for withholding subpoenaed documents — managed what one might have thought impossible: He has made Nixon’s attorney general John Mitchell seem a minor rogue in comparison.