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Betsy's Page

Updated: 2018-01-16T18:30:03.692-05:00


Cruising the Web


The intolerance brigades on the internet have decided that Margaret Atwood, of all people, is a "bad feminist" because she dared to criticize the University of British Columbia for how it railroaded a professor of creative writing. Here is her explanation.In November of 2016, I signed – as a matter of principle, as I have signed many petitions – an Open Letter called UBC Accountable, which calls for holding the University of British Columbia accountable for its failed process in its treatment of one of its former employees, Steven Galloway, the former chair of the department of creative writing, as well as its treatment of those who became ancillary complainants in the case. Specifically, several years ago, the university went public in national media before there was an inquiry, and even before the accused was allowed to know the details of the accusation. Before he could find them out, he had to sign a confidentiality agreement. The public – including me – was left with the impression that this man was a violent serial rapist, and everyone was free to attack him publicly, since under the agreement he had signed, he couldn't say anything to defend himself. A barrage of invective followed.But then, after an inquiry by a judge that went on for months, with multiple witnesses and interviews, the judge said there had been no sexual assault, according to a statement released by Mr. Galloway through his lawyer. The employee got fired anyway. Everyone was surprised, including me. His faculty association launched a grievance, which is continuing, and until it is over, the public still cannot have access to the judge's report or her reasoning from the evidence presented. The not-guilty verdict displeased some people. They continued to attack. It was at this point that details of UBC's flawed process began to circulate, and the UBC Accountable letter came into being.A fair-minded person would now withhold judgment as to guilt until the report and the evidence are available for us to see. We are grownups: We can make up our own minds, one way or the other. Because of this, there are some radical feminists who have been criticizing her. It's just ridiculous. When did feminism demand that those who are accused should lose all rights to due process?Atwood goes on to make the very crucial point that, in the midst of this #MeToo movement, it is important that we don't just take accusations at face value, but allow people to have a defense.The #MeToo moment is a symptom of a broken legal system. All too frequently, women and other sexual-abuse complainants couldn't get a fair hearing through institutions – including corporate structures – so they used a new tool: the internet. Stars fell from the skies. This has been very effective, and has been seen as a massive wake-up call. But what next? The legal system can be fixed, or our society could dispose of it. Institutions, corporations and workplaces can houseclean, or they can expect more stars to fall, and also a lot of asteroids.If the legal system is bypassed because it is seen as ineffectual, what will take its place? Who will be the new power brokers? It won't be the Bad Feminists like me. We are acceptable neither to Right nor to Left. In times of extremes, extremists win. Their ideology becomes a religion, anyone who doesn't puppet their views is seen as an apostate, a heretic or a traitor, and moderates in the middle are annihilated. Condoleezza Rice also warnsabout how the #meToo movement can backfire on women.Former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that while she believes the #MeToo movement is "a good thing," people need "to be a little bit careful" about how they respond to it."Let's not turn women into snowflakes. Let's not infantilize women," Rice insisted during an interview with CNN's David Axelrod on "The Axe Files," which airs at 7 ET Saturday night.Rice said she didn't want "to get to a place that men start to think, 'Well, maybe it's just better not to have women around.' I've heard a little bit of that. And it, it worries me," she told Axelr[...]

Cruising the Web


The fact that the Hawaii Emergency Alert system could send out a false warning that was repeated on radio and TV and wasn't corrected until a half-hour later is extremely worrisome. What does this say about the whole emergency system in Hawaii and elsewhere?The weakness of Hawaii's emergency system is terrifying. The fact that a single employee could trigger a warning by making a stupid mistake is beyond belief.How many billions of dollars have we spent on these systems? Are all state emergency management systems as vulnerable to human error?Today, I have no doubt that the other 49 states in the nation are looking at their notification systems under a microscope. But what should they look for? What happened in Hawaii?Perhaps this mistake will be a salutary warning to everyone that we need to make sure that there are some failsafe measures to protect against similar errors.Hawaii says the alert was sent out because of a mistake made by an employee. Currently, we have no reason to doubt that explanation. But would Hawaii - or any state - announce to the public that the system had been hacked and the entire EMA system was vulnerable to intrusion?This isn't over - not by a long shot. The FCC is opening their own investigation into the incident and you can bet Congress will also be looking into the false alert as well.If that happens, the screw up may be a blessing in disguise. Exposing vulnerabilities and dangerous procedures that might lead to the same thing happening elsewhere would be a positive development coming out of this terrifying incident. And perhaps some Hawaiians can spare a moment to realize that this is how life in Israel is on a regular basis except the warnings are not mistakes.Tyler Cowen provides evidence why Trump is so wrong about accepting migrants from poorer countries. Cowen argues that "Africa is sending us its best and brightest." Many of the immigrants from Africa who are coming here already have an education.One of the most striking facts about immigration to the U.S., unbeknownst even to many immigration advocates, is the superior education of Africans coming to this country. If we consider adults age 25 or older, born in Africa and living in the U.S., 41.7 of them have a bachelor’s degree or more, according to 2009 data. For contrast, the native-born population has a bachelor’s degree or more at the much lower rate of only 28.1 percent in these estimates, and foreign-born adults as a whole have a college degree at the rate of 26.8 percent, both well below the African rate.How about high school degrees? About one-third of immigrants overall lack this credential, but only 11.7 percent of African-born migrants don’t have a high school degree. That’s remarkably close to the rate for native-born Americans, estimated at 11.4 percent.Or consider Nigerian-Americans, Nigeria being the most populous nation in Africa. Their education levels are among the very highest in the U.S., above those of Asians, with 17 percent of Nigerian migrants having a master’s degree.In addition, about three-quarters of African migrants speak English, and they have higher than average rates of labor force participation. They are also much less likely to commit violent crimes than individuals born in the U.S.Of course, Trump just spouts off based on his stereotyping of these countries without considering who the people are who are applying to come here.Economist Edward Lazear suggests a simple experiment. Consider immigrants to the U.S. from Algeria, Israel and Japan, and rank them in order of most educated to least educated. The correct answer is Algeria, Israel then Japan. Although that’s counterintuitive at first glance, it’s easy enough to see how it works. If you are Algerian and educated, or aspire to be educated, your prospects in Algeria are relatively poor and you may seek to leave. A talented, educated person in Japan or Israel can do just fine by staying at home. These kinds of considerations explain about 73 percent of the variation in the educational outcomes of migrants[...]

Cruising the Web


Ugh! I wish we couldn't have either of these people determining policy in Washington, but that's not where we are.
Once you hit bottom, there’s nowhere to go but up, and on Thursday the language of politics hit bottom.

When the possibility of admitting immigrants from Haiti and Africa came up at a meeting with Senators at the White House, President Trump reportedly mused about why we’d want to admit people into the U.S. from “s—hole countries.”

About that time, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the former Speaker of the House, offered her thoughts on colleagues who are negotiating an immigration bill with the White House: “The five white guys I call them, you know. Are they going to open a hamburger stand next or what?”

Maybe at some future date, Mr. Trump and Mrs. Pelosi can co-host a talk show on ESPN. For now, this verbal mudslide from two of the nation’s highest officials is, in a word, unedifying.

The House’s number two Democrat, Steny Hoyer, no doubt terrified that his party could become linked to Ms. Pelosi’s use of language from the fringe of identity politics, said, “That comment is offensive.” Republicans, who might worry that Mr. Trump’s barstool belch has lost the African-American vote forever, should do the same.
The bigotry of Trump's remark is really distasteful. Doesn't he have any idea that some of the immigrants who have come here from African countries (the countries he was apparently referring to) are some of the hardest working immigrant groups that we have? I've had the good fortune to teach some of the children whose parents have immigrated from those countries. Of course Trump has no idea, because all he knows are slogans and bluster; he really has no idea about policy. And as for deal-making, that vaunted skill that he bragged about all campaign, he seems to know little about that either. If he did, he wouldn't state before cameras that he wants a deal of whatever those politicians in the room are going to come up with. He wouldn't announce ahead of time that he wants a DACA fix so badly so that the Democrats know that they just have to hold firm and he'll cave. He wouldn't have to have so many of his remarks and tweets cleaned up by his staff to explain to us what "he really meant."

And if he had any situational awareness at all, he'd know that, if he used language like that in a meeting with members of Congress including Democrats that it would all be leaked out within a few hours. And he'd have some sense that, no matter what he privately thinks, the president of the United States shouldn't be referring to countries like Haiti, El Salvador and all of Africa with that sort of language.

Forget all the speculation of some sort of psychological problem as some on the left have been peddling. How about that he's just not all that smart?

But then again,