Friday, July 13, 2018

Peter Strzok's Smirk Said He Was Lying

July 13, 2018

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Deputy Assistant FBI Director Peter Strzok testifies on FBI and Department of Justice actions during the 2016 Presidential election during a House Joint committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, July 12, 2018.(Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)
Although his texts to his paramour indicate he hated Donald Trump as much or possibly more than most of us hate Hitler or Saddam Hussein, Peter Strzok insists his extreme feelings did not affect his work in the Hillary Clinton email matter or the subsequent Russia probe.

He repeated that ad nauseam throughout the circus-like congressional hearing Thursday. But no matter how many protestations the man makes, under oath or not, Occam's razor plus most of our life experiences tell us that Strzok is full of it.

Still, you need concrete evidence and, in a situation like this, that is hard to come by.  Only a real nincompoop would generate it and -- though Strzok was clearly no genius, leaving a huge digital trail of his extra-curricular activities (astounding for a counter-intelligence officer) -- none has surfaced yet. And if the FBI has its way, none will surface until roughly a thousand years after humanity has left Earth for another galaxy.

So we are left to our own devices to determine whether this man is lying. During the hearings, Louie Gohmert applied the old Roman precept -- falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus (you lie about one thing, you lie about everything) -- making the audience gasp by speaking aloud the elephant in the room.  Strzok had obviously lied to his wife about his affair.  Why should he be believed about anything?

Well, good question, except that it would disqualify about two-thirds of American presidents and who knows how many people currently in that very hearing room. (You can hazard your guess in the comments.)

So we're all liars and maybe we are, but I'll tell you what convinced me -- besides an overwhelming amount of circumstantial evidence equivalent to the O.J. trial -- that Strzok was not just your garden variety prevaricator but an out-and-out conniving, evil S. O. B.: his smirk.

The shrinks call that "inappropriate affect" and it sure was.  What the hell was this guy smirking about? Even in the remote possibility (oh, how remote) that his bias had no direct political and investigatory consequence, he had shamed himself, his family, and the FBI and its personnel tremendously, damaging the organization materially for years to come. And yet he was smirking.

In fact, he wasn't just smirking.  He was fighting back as if he were the wounded party. One "useful idiot" on the Democratic side even said he deserved the Purple Heart.

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Peter Strzok testifying yesterday (Evan Vucci/AP)

It was a nauseating display of moral turpitude on the part of the Democrats and Strzok.  Who paved the way for that?  Well, I'll tell you: Inspector General Michael Horowitz.

Listening to the hearings today convinced me more than ever that he, like Strzok, is a liar -- only a far subtler and therefore ultimately more dangerous one. In fact, he's so good he probably believes his own lies  Unlike Strzok, he doesn't smirk or get angry.

But he told a whopper in the most clever way.  He gave us hundreds of pages of unequivocal bias on the part of FBI leadership and then said it didn't really matter, that the Hillary decision was correct because there was a similar precedent with Bush's AG Alberto Gonzalez, all of the time ignoring the fate of Navy sailor Kristian Saucier, who went to jail for far less than Gonzalez and, certainly, Clinton ever did.

Horowitz conveniently omitted Saucier from his overview for obvious reasons -- it would have blown it out of the water.  Instead, he has given cover to the likes of Strzok and to the FBI he appears to be criticizing so strongly, but really isn't.

The whole IG report was quite brilliant, if your covert goal was to maintain the status quo.  We saw that at work during Thursday's hearings.

Roger L. Simon - co-founder and CEO Emeritus of PJ Media - is an author and Academy Award-nominated screenwriter.  

The Red Sox may be red-hot, but baseball is striking out in every way

By Dan Shaughnessy
July 9, 2018
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Craig Kimbrell and Sandy Leon celebrate after the Red Sox beat the Royals last Sunday. (Brian Davidson/Getty Images)
The Red Sox Sunday completed their three-game sweep of the Kansas City Royals. Aggregate score: Boston 32, Kansas City 13.
The Sox are now 62-29 — 33 games over .500. The Royals have lost nine straight and 27 of 31. KC is 39 games under .500.
The Sox come home Monday and get to play the last-place Rangers for the next three nights. Then we’ll get a weekend look at the moribund Blue Jays who are 20 games out of first place.
On and on it goes. Meaningless game after meaningless game as the Red Sox put up cartoonish numbers while we wait for the real games to start in October. So much winning.
Whoop dee do.
This isn’t exactly breaking news, but as great as the Sox weekend was, as scalding hot as the Sox are now, my takeaway is that Major League Baseball is in trouble.
And as much as I love the game, I can no longer defend all the things that are hurting the sport.
There are too many bad teams (the once-proud Orioles are 41 games under .500). There are too many non-competitive games. There are too many strikeouts. There are not enough balls in play. Baseball stars are increasingly anonymous.
Is it any surprise that MLB attendance is taking a hit? Twenty one of 30 teams are down from last year and baseball is on pace for its lowest total attendance since 2003.
Folks are staying away and who can blame them? The product is not keeping up with the times and it is not very good.
Here in baseball-savvy Boston, the Olde Towne Team is playing at a near-record pace, but it seems that local sports fans only want to talk about the Celtics and NBA free agency. Tom Brady and Julian Edelman. Try to find good baseball conversation. Spend an hour alternating between the Sports Hub and WEEI and take note of how little baseball conversation you hear. Unless there’s yet another caller bashing David Price, the Sox don’t generate much sports talk these days.
Baseball has become the sanctuary of senior citizens. Hardcore baseball fans are the same people who have land lines in their home and still read daily newspapers. Anybody seen my Sporting News?
Pace of play has made the game largely unwatchable on television. The estimable Tom Verducci recently put his stopwatch to work and calculated that the average time between balls in play is 3 minutes 45 seconds. This is unacceptable. It is killing the sport. There is simply not enough action.
Strikeout inflation is a big part of the problem. I have grown to hate strikeouts. A strikeout used to be a measure of a pitcher’s dominance. Not anymore. Everybody strikes out. All the time. A 10-strikeout effort by a starting pitcher is no longer a big deal. For the first time in history, baseball features more strikeouts than hits. This will be the 11th consecutive season in which MLB sets a record for strikeouts.
Whoop dee bloody do.
One of the problems is that players don’t think there is a problem. The hitters have no regrets about their whopping strikeout totals. They don’t change their approach with two strikes. They just keep on hacking . . . and missing. It’s all about launch angle and exit velocity.
USA Today recently polled 63 big leaguers and the results demonstrated a stunning lack of awareness. Players, evidently, do not believe that today’s strikeout glut or the snail-like pace of play present any problem. More than half of the players polled said they are unconcerned about a game that now primarily features walks, strikeouts, and homers. Ninety three percent of those who responded believe that lack of action is OK. Asked if pace-of-play changes are working, one player remarked, “assumes there was a problem in the first place.’’
There are simply not enough competitive games, especially in the 2018 American League. The Orioles are on a pace to lose 118 games. The Royals, 116. The White Sox, 108.
Analytics are out of control. Even commissioner Rob Manfred agrees. Manfred recently told The Athletic, “There is a growing recognition that analytics have produced certain trends in the game that we may need to be more proactive about reversing. There are owners that feel that way. There are fans that feel that way.’’
Meanwhile, as the game is taken over by geeks, the players become more faceless. Mike Trout? Great player. Why isn’t he as popular and well known as Kevin Durant or Steph Curry?
The 2018 Red Sox are winning almost 70 percent of their games, but are studiously bland. Boston’s clubhouse is populated by polite young men who are careful with their words, rarely interesting and never provocative. It’s as if they are trained to drain the color from their commentary. J.D. Martinez is having a triple-crown worthy season, but would likely not be recognized if he strolled around the Seaport at lunchtime. (Is that Mitch Moreland, Brandon Workman, Matt Barnes, or J.D. Martinez?) No controversy, No color.
There’s not a Wade Boggs or Oil Can Boyd in the bunch.
There is no all-world point guard insisting that the earth is flat.
We trust and verify that the earth is round . . .
. . . But in the summer of 2018, baseball is flat.
Even when you have a worthy first-place team with a raft of All-Star talent.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

An Open Letter from Yale Law Students Illustrates the Decline of the Radical Legal Mind

By David French
July 11, 2018
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(Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)
On Monday, Yale Law School had the audacity to do something that any and every law school would do if one of its graduates were nominated to the Supreme Court — issue a press release touting the occasion. And why not? To the extent that any conservative can be a part of the elite academic club, Brett Kavanaugh belongs. He’s a double Yale graduate (college and law school) and a former Harvard Law School professor. How did he get there? Allow the Boston Globe to tell the story:
When Elena Kagan was dean of Harvard Law School, she was in search of rising conservative legal stars. The traditionally liberal campus, the thinking went, could use a little ideological diversity with more robust debate and the challenge of different viewpoints.
Among Kagan’s hires, as a visiting professor, was a newly appointed federal appeals-court judge from Washington named Brett Kavanaugh.
Yes, that’s right. Justice Kagan hired Brett Kavanaugh at Harvard Law. He’s no radical. He’s a serious conservative legal mind, and it is entirely right and proper for a school that enrolls conservative students and even (on occasion) hires conservative professors to put out a simple press release celebrating the elevation of one of its own to the highest court in the land.
Or maybe not. There’s now an open letter signed by a host of Yale Law School “students, alumni, and educators” not just declaring their opposition to the Kavanaugh nomination, but saying they are “ashamed” at Yale’s press release. To these signatories, Kavanaugh is nothing but a menace, and Yale’s celebration of his achievements is motivated by nothing more than its lust for “proximity to power and prestige.”
The rhetoric is amazing, reading more like a random Twitter tirade than a studied critique from the nation’s brightest legal minds. “Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination presents an emergency — for democratic life, for our safety and freedom, for the future of our country,” the letter reads. Yes, an “emergency.” Later, it even declares that “people will die if he is confirmed.”
Obviously, Flight 93 paranoia isn’t confined to the Trumpist right.
I do not expect a Yale progressive to support Kavanaugh; I expect progressives everywhere to rally to try to defeat his nomination. But where is the perspective? Where is the sense of proportion? Once again, increasingly radicalized Americans confront conventional politics and good-faith legal disputes and react as if the sky is falling — as if no decent human being could possibly disagree with their analysis.
And they’re saying this about Brett Kavanaugh. If there were a Mount Rushmore of establishment GOP lawyers, his face would be chiseled upon it. He’d have been a likely nominee in a Rubio or Jeb Bush administration. Stanford’s Michael McConnell, writing in Politicosaid this about Kavanaugh’s role in the court:
The balance of the Court is never set in stone. Over the past two terms, Justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan have more frequently broken from their more leftward colleagues to forge a more moderate path, often in conjunction with Chief Justice John Roberts. Temperamentally and jurisprudentially, Kavanaugh is more like to be part of this invigorated middle than to swing toward the extremes. It would be a good thing for the country if the Court moved in a less polarized direction.
In other words, if  Kavanaugh represents a life-threatening emergency, then virtually any originalist judge represents a life-threatening emergency.
At this point, a radical reader might nod along and say, “Yes, any originalist nominee will cost lives.” But if you look at the Yale letter, it fails to make its case. It’s a long screed claiming that, among other things, Kavanaugh is insufficiently protective of the administrative state (I wonder if any of the signatories are also demanding that Congress “abolish ICE”), overly protective of religious liberty, and lacking in sympathy for favored plaintiffs. It doesn’t contain an ounce of serious legal analysis.
Indeed, one gets the feeling that this is really all about Roe. After all, refusing to force Priests for Life to facilitate contraception access for its handful of employees — or determining the appropriate standard of judicial review for agency interpretations of governing statutes — hardly seem like decisions worthy of the apocalyptic rhetoric. But abortion-on-demand is the centerpiece of the sexual revolution, and the sexual revolution is a new American religion. The French had their Cult of Reason. The radicals have their Cult of Sex, and shame on anyone who offers respect to the heretics.
Yet even there — even on the ultimate question of the judicial wars — the letter fails to justify its alarm. After all, if Roe is overturned, abortion won’t be banned, certainly not in America’s blue bastions, and not anytime soon. The question of life and death will merely be sent back to the states and, ultimately, the people.
Remember, this open letter is no mere statement of opposition to Kavanaugh. It’s a demand that one of the country’s most respected institutions of higher learning be “ashamed” for celebrating the success of one of its graduates — a person who has a long track record of service to the academy and respect for his ideological opponents. It’s a call to enlist institutions of higher learning in a radical ideological crusade. It’s a message to conservative Americans that we hear loudly and clearly — that we’re evil, our views are not worthy of respect, and we should have no place in the highest echelons of the American academy.
To read the Yale letter is to peer into the future. It’s mainly signed by a collection of young lawyers and students who are already on a trajectory to lead the American academy, government, and economy. They represent a left-wing face of American intolerance, and that intolerance will haunt our politics for decades to come. If you think polarization is bad now, the radical students at Yale are sending a clear message: They have not yet begun to rage.
DAVID FRENCH — David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.


By Ann Coulter
July 11, 2018

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Judge Brett Kavanaugh speaks after being nominated by President Donald Trump to the Supreme Court in the East Room of the White House on July 9, 2018.
(Saul Loeb / AFP/Getty Images)

Liberals know they can't stop Kavanaugh's confirmation, so they'd just as soon not hear any news about it at all. Please cheer us up with stories about Paul Manafort's solitary confinement! 

But there was one very peculiar reaction to the nomination. The nut wing of the Democratic Party instantly denounced Kavanaugh by claiming that his elevation to the high court would threaten all sorts of "rights." 

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., tweeted: "Our next justice should be a champion for protecting & advancing rights, not rolling them back -- but Kavanaugh has a long history of demonstrating hostility toward defending the rights of everyday Americans." 

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., tweeted: "If Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed to the Supreme Court it will have a profoundly negative effect on workers' rights, women's rights and voting rights for decades to come. We must do everything we can to stop this nomination." 

If only these guys could get themselves elected to some sort of legislative body, they could pass laws protecting these rights! 

Wait, I'm sorry. These are elected United States senators. Of all people, why are they carrying on about "rights"? If senators can't protect these alleged "rights," it can only be because most Americans do not agree that they should be "rights." 

That's exactly why the left is so hysterical about the Supreme Court. They run to the courts to win their most unpopular policy ideas, gift-wrapped and handed to them as "constitutional rights." 

What liberals call "rights" are legislative proposals that they can't pass through normal democratic processes -- at least outside of the states they've already flipped with immigration, like California.

Realizing how widely reviled their ideas are, several decades ago the left figured out a procedural scam to give them whatever they wanted without ever having to pass a law. Hey! You can't review a Supreme Court decision! 

Instead of persuading a majority of their fellow citizens, they'd need to persuade only five justices to invent any rights they pleased. They didn't have to ask twice. Apparently, justices find it much funner to be all-powerful despots than boring technocrats interpreting written law. 

Soon the court was creating "rights" promoting all the left's favorite causes -- abortion, criminals, busing, pornography, stamping out religion, forcing military academies to admit girls and so on. 

There was nothing America could do about it. 

OK, liberals, you cheated and got all your demented policy ideas declared "constitutional rights." But it's very strange having elected legislators act as if they are helpless serfs, with no capacity to protect "rights." 

It's stranger still for politicians to pretend that these putative "rights" are supported by a majority of Americans. By definition, the majority does not support them. Otherwise, they'd already be protected by law and not by Ruth Bader Ginsburg's latest newsletter. 

On MSNBC, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., said people storming into the streets and making their voices heard about Kavanaugh is "the remarkable part about a democracy." 

Actually, that isn't democracy at all. Liberals don't do well at democracy. Why don't politicians run for office promising to ban the death penalty, spring criminals from prison or enshrine late-term abortion? Hmmm ... I wonder why those "I (heart) partial-birth abortion!" T-shirts aren't selling? 

Unless the Constitution forbids it -- and there are very few things proscribed by the Constitution -- democracy entails persuading a majority of your fellow Americans or state citizens to support something, and then either putting it on the ballot or electing representatives who will write it into law -- perhaps even a constitutional amendment. 

Otherwise, these "rights" whereof you speak are no more real than the Beastie Boys' assertion of THE RIGHT TO PARTEEEEEEEE! 

Gay marriage, for example, was foisted on the country not through ballot initiatives, persuasion, public acceptance, lobbying or politicians winning elections by promising to legalize it. No, what happened was, in 2003, the Massachusetts Supreme Court suddenly discovered a right to gay marriage lurking in the state's 223-year-old Constitution -- written by the very religious John Adams. (Surprise!) 

After that, the people rose up and banned gay marriage in state after state, even in liberal bastions like Oregon and California. The year after the Massachusetts court's remarkable discovery, gay marriage lost in all 11 states where it was on the ballot. 

Everywhere gay marriage was submitted to a popular vote, it lost. (Only one state's voters briefly seemed to approve of gay marriage -- Arizona, in 2006 -- but that was evidently a problem with the wording of the initiative, because two years later, the voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional ban on gay marriage.) 

Inasmuch as allowing people to vote resulted in a resounding "NO!" on gay marriage, liberals ran back to the courts. Still, the public rebelled. The year after the Iowa Supreme Court concocted a right to gay marriage, voters recalled three of the court's seven justices. 

A handful of blue state legislatures passed gay marriage laws, but even in the Soviet Republic of New York, a gay marriage bill failed in 2009. 

And then the U.S. Supreme Court decided that was quite enough democracy on the question of gay marriage! It turned out that -- just like the Massachusetts Constitution -- a gay marriage clause had been hiding in our Constitution all along! 

Conservatives could never dream of victories like this from the judiciary. Even nine Antonin Scalias on the Supreme Court are never going to discover a "constitutional right" to a border wall, mass deportations, a flat tax, publicly funded churches and gun ranges, the "right" to smoke or to consume 24-ounce sugary sodas. 

These are "constitutional rights" every bit as much as the alleged "constitutional rights" to abortion, pornography, gay marriage, transgender bathrooms, the exclusionary rule and on and on and on. 

The only rights conservatives ever seek under the Constitution are the ones that are written in black and white, such as the freedom of speech and the right of the people to keep and bear arms. Mostly, we sit trembling, waiting to see what new nonexistent rights the court will impose on us, contravening everything we believe. 

So when you hear liberals carrying on about all the "rights" threatened by Kavanaugh, remember that by "rights," they mean "policy ideas so unpopular that we can't pass a law creating such rights." 

Spotify is fine. But let's mourn the passing of CDs

By Marc Weingarten
July 8, 2018

Amoeba Music, Sunset Blvd.

Amoeba Music announced last month that it is downsizing, leaving its behemoth store on Sunset Boulevard after 17 years. It’s moving to a smaller spot nearby and turning part of its reduced floor space into a marijuana dispensary. Cue the laments of collectors who spent their rent money there on 180-gram vinyl.

Few, I suspect, will get too melancholy about the CDs they bought at the store. Amoeba’s bottomless compact disc inventory, once a glorious spectacle, now feels like the contents of an ancient reliquary. It’s as if Best Buy filled most of its store space with Sony Walkmen.

CDs have become music’s bastard stepchildren: unwanted, unloved and misunderstood. The stereos in new cars can’t even play them. Cassette tapes, oddly, now cast a warm nostalgic glow alongside vinyl.

The problem with sundowning music formats is that, in our eagerness to pitch ourselves into the future with new technology, we bury what brought us so much pleasure in the first place. CDs sound better than streaming files. They last longer than cassettes. And yet they have become irrelevant.

Pity the CD. Has any format ever been more disparaged? For vinyl purists, compact discs have a lot to answer for, mainly because they ushered in the era of digital recording in the early ’80s. For audiophiles, digital, with its claims of perfect sound forever, was the enemy; it turned music brittle and distorted sound the way VHS tape degraded color. Of course our current popular format, streaming files, have a higher compression rate than compact discs, which is a fancy way of saying that even your old CD copy of “Three Feet High and Rising” will sound better than anything you might listen to on Spotify. So does every classical CD recorded after 1984.

Compact discs felt like science fiction in the era before personal computers, a portent of how technology would change our lives for the better: Lasers made it play! There were 72 minutes to a disc, and you didn’t have to turn it over! Sure, CDs were initially overpriced, and in the rush to convert old recordings there were master tapes transferred at the wrong speed, noisy imperfections, xeroxed liner notes.

But compact discs eventually hit their stride, as independent labels mastered the art of packaging, so that CDs from Sub Pop or Matador carried with them the cachet of our precious vinyl. Nirvana’s “Nevermind” isn’t technically a “classic album” but a classic CD; so are Outkast’s “Stankonia,” Radiohead’s “Kid A” and Jay-Z’s “The Blueprint.”

CDs have also given us other gifts. Without the technological advances brought on by compact discs, Beach Boys’ leader Brian Wilson might not have bothered to dig through his vault. But with digital’s help, he carefully pieced together 2004’s “Smile,” resurrecting rock’s infamous “lost album,” which, incidentally, sounded great on CD.

Compact discs also nudged the record industry to exhume and curate our musical past. There now exists a vast and essential digital archive of every conceivable strand of music in lavish box sets with copious liner notes. (They’re cheap too.) Because of this CD-driven development, a fan can wrap his arms around an entire artist’s oeuvre without having to spend a small fortune on rare vinyl.

Consider that the biggest-selling CD box set remains Columbia Records’ 1990 reissue of Delta blues genius Robert Johnson’s recordings — a landmark moment that moved this cornerstone artist into the 20th century mainstream. Streaming services such as Spotify also carry the Johnson collection (of course without any of the recording information or historical context available in the liner notes) but it’s only available to them because someone assembled it for the CD. It’s fine, but there’s no fun in it.

Rather than mourn Amoeba’s contraction, it might be a good moment to acknowledge that the compact disc had more impact on music than we care to admit, and that it can still provide us with pleasure even now. Everyone who ever patronized Amoeba should take one good, long, last look. You will never see that many CDs in one place again.

Marc Weingarten is the author of "Thirsty: William Mulholland, California Water and the Real Chinatown."

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

A secret mission, torpedoes, sharks and the men who survived: The story of the 'Indianapolis'

By Tony Perry
July 6, 2018

'Indianapolis: The True Story of the Worst Sea Disaster in U.S. Naval History and the Fifty-Year Fight to Exonerate An Innocent Man' by Lynn Vincent and Sara Vladic

With diligent reporting and sharp writing, Lynn Vincent and Sara Vladic have accomplished a daunting chore facing writers of historic nonfiction: take a story whose outline is known to the public and craft an account that is compelling yet comprehensive.
The result, with a strong narrative style and well reasoned point of view, is “Indianapolis: The True Story of the Worst Sea Disaster in U.S. Naval History and the Fifty-Year Fight to Exonerate an Innocent Man.”
The heavy cruiser Indianapolis was sunk by a Japanese submarine in the waning days of World War II. Books, television documentaries, a play and, of course, Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws” have told how the Indianapolis, having already delivered the “Little Boy” atomic bomb to Tinian, was sunk and how hundreds of survivors floated for days ravaged by hunger, dehydration, scalding wounds, salt-water poisoning and sharks.
Through negligence and bureaucratic incompetence, the Navy seemingly forgot about the Indianapolis for days and launched a rescue effort only when survivors were spotted accidentally by a Navy plane on routine patrol. In a brisk, fact-based narrative, “Indianapolis” mixes horror and scandal.
By the time the last survivor was pulled from the choppy ocean, three-quarters of the crew were dead or dying. An estimated 300 crew members went down with the ship, another 500-plus died in the water desperately waiting for rescue. The total number of dead was 879; there were 317 survivors.
The last survivors were pulled aboard a rescue ship, the Doyle, thanks to the brave actions of rescue pilot Adrian Marks, on the night of Aug. 3, 1945. “The last Indy sailor to be pulled up was Art Leenerman, whose corpse Marks had been towing,” the authors recount. “Just as the canvas sling crossed the Doyle’s rails, Leenerman sputtered awake, shocking his rescuers.”
Much of the account by Vincent and Vladic is centered on the fate of the Indianapolis’ skipper, Capt. Charles McVay III, a decorated combat commander. He survived the sinking only to face court-martial. One of the prosecution’s star witnesses was the submarine commander, Mochitsura Hashimoto, who fired the torpedoes that sent Indy to the bottom of the Philippine Sea in 12 minutes.
Hashimoto and his crew were zealous in their desire to sink a warship. Attached to the sub were aquatic kamikazes: mini-subs called kaitenarmed with explosives. When it was initially unclear if Hashimoto’s torpedoes had struck the Indianapolis, “the kaiten pilots begged ‘Send us!’” even though the mission was suicide. Hashimoto declined, preferring to dive and reload.
The authors remind us that World War II was a conflict requiring full mobilization of the American homefront — from elite-college graduates to teenagers from impoverished families trapped by the Depression. Don McCall, a redhead from Illinois, was 18 when he reported to the Indianapolis as a seaman second class: “It was the first time he ever remembered having enough to eat. And they even paid him — eighteen dollars a month.”
As the Indianapolis’ sailors struggled in the water, there was bravery and self-sacrifice, all vividly detailed by Vincent and Vladic. There was also violence, cannibalism and even sexual attacks: “In the water, the dead outnumbered the living. Men continued to expire so quickly that it became almost impossible to move around without having to shoulder through shoals of corpses.”
And then the sharks: “one moment, [they] behaved like gentle and curious giants, moving up close to inspect the men with black unblinking eyes. The next moment they attacked, their steel-trap jaws snuffing out a man’s life before he could draw a breath to scream.”
At a highly publicized court martial, McVay was convicted of “failure to zig-zag” his ship. A zig-zag course was thought to help ships evade detection and targeting by submarines. The court was unmoved by testimony from Hashimoto that a zig-zag pattern would not have kept him detecting and sinking the Indianapolis.
There were no courts-martial for the officers who heard the Indianapolis’ SOS call and did nothing, had failed to notify the ship that enemy submarines were in the area, or then failed to notice that the ship was several days overdue. Instead some received written reprimands. Vincent and Vladic are particularly hard on Fleet Adm. Ernest King (“he was known to be vindictive”). He had ordered the court-martial before all evidence had been gathered.
When King retired, the new chief of naval operations, Adm. Chester Nimitz, set aside the guilty verdict. McVay was promoted and allowed to ride a desk until he retired in 1949. Hashimoto returned to Japan and became a Shinto priest, a family calling.
McVay did not live to see his (carefully worded) exoneration in 2000 by Congress after a lobbying effort by some (but not all) Navy officials, a teenager from Florida, and Indianapolis survivors who felt McVay had been made a scapegoat to cover up Navy blundering.
Some of the families of the dead never forgave McVay and routinely sent him “hateful letters that arrived like due-bills that could never be paid.”
McVay commited suicide in 1968, yet another victim, Vincent and Vladic assert, of the sinking of the Indianapolis.
By Lynn Vincent and Sara Vladic
Simon & Schuster: 592 pp., $28
Tony Perry covered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as a reporter for The Times, which he left in 2015. He is writing a book about the Marines in World War I.

Making the Right Move on Racial Preferences

The Trump administration revokes Obama’s admissions guidance to colleges, to the fury of activists and the press—who won’t acknowledge why preferences are necessary.
By Heather Mac Donald
July 9, 2018

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From 2011 to 2016, the Obama administration’s Justice and Education Departments issued six guidances to colleges on how to use racial preferences in admissions. Such preferences, the guidances explained, may provide the best way to achieve racial diversity within a student body, especially if a college does not want to lower academic standards across the board. The 2011 guidance claimed that racial diversity raises the “level of academic and social discourse both inside and outside the classroom” and helps students “sharpen their critical thinking and analytical skills.” Attaining racial diversity lies at the very heart of a university’s proper educational mission, the 2011 guidance announced.
On July 3, the Trump administration withdrew those six college guidances, plus a seventh promoting racial quotas in secondary education. The documents went beyond the confines of existing law, according to the Trump Education and Justice Departments, and were part of the Obama administration’s abuse of executive power. Universities would remain free to use racial preferences, but the federal government would no longer encourage them to do so.
Press outlets extensively covered the rescission of the guidances. None of the stories, however, even hinted at why racial preferences are needed to engineer racial diversity in the first place. The abyss between the academic qualifications of black and Hispanic students, on the one hand, and whites and Asians, on the other, was kept assiduously offstage, pursuant to longstanding journalistic taboos. Instead, it was as if a mysterious force was preventing blacks and Hispanics from entering college. The lead story in the New York Times noted that the rescission came during President Trump’s deliberations over a new Supreme Court justice, who might be opposed to “policies that for decades have tried to integrate elite educational institutions.” It was as if no progress had been made since the early 1960s, when federal troops protected black students trying to enroll at Ole Miss and the University of Alabama. The Wall Street Journal put the rescission in the context of the “broader push by the administration to scale back Mr. Obama’s more activist approach on protecting racial minorities,” as if racial preferences were necessary to protect minorities from discrimination. The Washington Post said that the announcement is the “latest step in a decades-long debate over the use of race in admissions, a tactic for many schools seeking to diversify and overcome the legacy of segregation.”
Race advocates presented a hysterical front against this alleged rollback of equal educational rights. Racial preferences were cast as essential to racial diversity, again without any clue as to why that is the case. “Affirmative action has proven to be one of the most effective ways to create diverse and inclusive classrooms,” said National Education Association president Lily Eskelsen García, in a widely quoted statement. Eskelsen García added that the “Education Department has again failed our students,” by telling universities that they “should not use affirmative action to achieve inclusive classrooms.” The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law condemned the Department of Education’s “deliberate attempt to discourage colleges and universities from pursuing racial diversity.” Catherine Lhamon, the assistant education secretary for civil rights under Obama, told the Washington Post that the Trump administration was undermining “steps toward equity” in education. Absent preferences, blacks and Hispanics would apparently still be the victims of inequity.
For over a decade, “equity” has been paired to “access” in a talismanic formula suggesting lingering injustice in college admissions. An education professor at the University of Pittsburgh broke out the other half of the formula on NPR’sMorning Edition. Asked if affirmative action may have gone too far in light of reports that it penalizes Asians, Dana Thompson Dorsey responded that as long as “race remains a factor in this country, especially regarding access to universities,” affirmative action would be necessary.
But blacks and Hispanics have unrestricted access to every university in the country. Every remotely selective college is desperate to admit as many underrepresented minorities as possible, and brags openly about its diverse student body in marketing literature. Application forms solicit students’ racial identity not to exclude underrepresented minorities, but to favor them. Colleges have created black and Hispanic dorms, freshmen orientations, graduation ceremonies, cultural centers, and entire academic fields in order to signal their enthusiasm for diversity. Schools provide scholarships, tutoring, and outreach based on race. Far from being a handicap, being black or Hispanic is usually worth at least a standard deviation in test scores and GPA in admission to selective colleges.
Lack of qualifications is not the same thing as lack of access.  The most salient barrier to proportional representation of underrepresented minorities is the academic skills gap. In 2017, 40 percent of black eighth-graders scored “below basic” in reading on the National Assessment of Educational Progress test; 16 percent of white eighth-graders and 13 percent of Asian eighth-graders were below basic. Eighteen percent of black eighth-graders scored “proficient” or better in reading, compared with 45 percent of white eighth-graders and 57 percent of Asian eighth-graders. Hispanic eighth-graders were 33 percent below basic in reading and 23 percent proficient or better. The disparities in math were even greater. Controlling for parental education does not change these disparities, which do not close over the next four years of high school. The College Board estimates a benchmark score in the math and reading SATs that gives students a 75 percent chance of earning a C or better in their college courses—only 20 percent of black test-takers and 31 percent of Hispanics earned that score, compared with 59 percent of white students. Asians trounced everyone else, with 70 percent attainment of the benchmark SAT score.
These facts are what depress college attendance among underrepresented minorities, not lack of access or equity. They reflect different cultural attitudes toward academic achievement. Asians’ academic success stems from intense parental involvement—reading to toddlers, then making sure that school-age children actually show up to class, pay attention to their teacher, take their textbooks home, do their homework, and stay off the streets and away from drugs. Black elementary school students in California are chronically truant at nearly four times the state average; this truancy rate is typical. A child can’t learn if he is not in class, no matter how many taxpayer dollars are funneled into his school. The stigma among many black and Hispanic students against “acting white” produces an oppositional culture whereby students disengage from academic competition. Racial preferences further depress academic effort, since their alleged beneficiaries know that they can coast in high school and still be admitted to college. At Harvard, test scores and a GPA that would give an Asian-American applicant only a 25 percent chance of admission provide a 95 percent admission guarantee to a black high school senior, according to data in an ongoing discrimination lawsuit against the university. At the University of Texas at Austin, the average black SAT composite score on the 2,400-point scale was 467 points below the average Asian SAT score in 2009.
Given the reality of minority underachievement, black and Hispanic leaders had a choice: they could have focused relentlessly on self-help, in the tradition of Booker T. Washington, so that minority students became academically competitive, or they could play the race card and demand lowered standards. Almost all have chosen the second course. Minority advocates focus exclusively on the defense and extension of racial preferences; calls to crack the books are virtually nonexistent. The press is complicit in this swerve from personal responsibility by keeping the skills gap as far as possible off stage. And universities themselves would rather let stand the implication that they are somehow denying “access” to underrepresented minorities than reveal the extent of preferences, as demonstrated by Harvard’s fierce opposition to releasing anonymized admissions data in the ongoing discrimination lawsuit against it. 
Ironically, that skills gap ensures that the stated rationale for racial preferences—that they improve the “level of academic discourse” and “create diverse and inclusive classrooms,” in the words of the 2011 Obama guidance and the NEA—will fail to materialize. Students admitted with lower academic skills than their peers end up avoiding the most challenging majors and classes, leaving science fields in particular overwhelmingly dominated by whites and Asians. Preferences beneficiaries tend to self-segregate academically and socially.
Preferences are not the most effective way to create diverse classrooms; raising the academic competitiveness of minority students is. That will happen only when the education establishment and the media stop concealing the problem.