Chelsea Mourning: Harvard Students in a Snit over Her Cancellation as a Fellow

Well, maybe “fellow” isn’t such a good title, either.

In any case, Harvard students know oppression, imperialism, capitalism, and heteronormativity when they see it, and they are shouting back.

Here’s the headline in the student newspaper:

Outcry After Chelsea Manning Dropped from IOP Fellowship (The Crimson, Harvard)

Controversy enveloped the Kennedy School of Government this weekend as critics on campus and around the country castigated the school for rescinding Chelsea Manning’s appointment as a visiting fellow this fall.

Facing criticism on-campus and nationwide, Dean of the Kennedy School Douglas W. Elmendorf rescinded Manning’s invitation in a statement issued in the early hours of Friday, calling her selection a “mistake.”

Now the school faces a fresh wave of controversy as commentators lambast Harvard’s decision to disinvite Manning, a transgender activist whose prison sentence former President Barack Obama commuted in 2017. –The Crimson


The Aggrieved Left Pushes Back

They and Chelsea Manning are “Victims”

The pushback from the campus left, which now sees itself in its preferred position of “blameless victim,” includes a letter condemning the university for dropping the Manning offer:

In light of her selfless sacrifices as a whistleblower, her dedication to the truth, and her commitment to human rights, we call upon the Harvard Kennedy School to reinstate Chelsea Manning’s designation as a fellow at the Institute of Politics,” read the letter, signed by the Trans Task Force, the Progressive Jewish Alliance, and the Anti-Islamophobia Network, among several other groups. –Letter from student organizations supporting Chelsea Manning appointment at Harvard, quoted in The Crimson


The Crimson’s Reporting: Fair and Competent

The Crimson article, it should be noted, is fair-minded and includes on-the-record quotes from university members on both sides of the controversy.

Its reporting on a disputed left-right issue is actually superior to that of the NYT, Washington Post, and other media.


Framing This Issue is Contentious

Comment: This dispute is framed in quite different ways by the opposing sides–and that framing matters.

The left sees it as primarily a snub to Manning because of her gender reassignment.

The right sees it as a reasonable decision about someone who leaked classified information.

The left sees the leaking as a valuable public service.

The right sees it as a crime that was properly punished by a court-martial.

Both sides see the designation as a “Fellow” of the Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics as an honor. One sees it as well deserved, the other as an endorsement of espionage.


FYI: The headline of this post, “Chelsea Mourning,” is a nod to Joni Mitchell:


Thanks to the wonderful Belladonna Rogers for this story

ZipDialog Roundup for Monday, September 18

Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed.
Linked articles in bold purple

◆ Third night of disturbances in St. Louis after white police officer acquitted in shooting of black driver

Headline in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Police make dozens of arrests after protesters break windows downtown. The protests Sunday began with about 1,000 people.

Police, many of them armed in riot gear, forced dozens of protesters late Sunday night into the intersection of Washington Avenue and Tucker Boulevard to be arrested.

Following a night of protests that had outbursts of vandalism downtown, the officers had the protesters perfectly surrounded. They pressed forward in lines, stepping to the cadence of batons beaten on the pavement. No one was allowed past. –St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Earlier in the day, protesters held a “die in” at police headquarters, holding up signs reading “no justice, no peace” and “Black Lives Matter”

Additional information about crime in St. Louis: Official statistics show St. Louis is the 8th most dangerous city in the US.

With a population of only 317,095, 188 murders were reported in the last calendar year within the city creating a murder rate of 27.75 [per 100,000].  –World Atlas (link here)

 The great effort and costs colleges are putting into minority recruitment . . . and still falling short of their goals (New York Times)

Despite the continued debate and legal wrangling over whether college affirmative action efforts are too aggressive, black and Hispanic freshmen were more underrepresented at the nation’s top schools in 2015 than they were in 1980, the Times analysis found.

That may come as a surprise to some skeptics of affirmative action, including those in the Trump administration, who see such efforts as having remade the admissions landscape to the detriment of Asian-Americans and whites. But on campuses across the country, many admissions officials say that affirmative action as it is traditionally understood — taking race into consideration when assessing applications — falls short as a diversity strategy, and that further-reaching efforts are needed to recruit a student body that even comes close to reflecting the country’s demographics.

Nationwide, 15 percent of 18-year-olds were black and 22 percent were Hispanic in 2015, according to federal data. At the elite colleges examined by The Times, 6 percent of noninternational freshmen were black and 13 percent were Hispanic. –New York Times

The NYT report does note that this emphasis on percentages has its critics.

Critics of affirmative action, however, say focusing on enrollment numbers is the wrong goal. Because race-based discrepancies in academic achievement emerge in early childhood, “college is way too little, too late to source the pipeline” said Amy Wax, a professor of law at the University of Pennsylvania. Aggressive affirmative action policies lead to “trouble down the road” for admitted students, she said. “When you put people in who are struggling to compete, that’s very hard on them.” –New York Times

Comment: The topic is as vexing as it is important.

The NYT report is useful but fails to follow-up on several crucial points and slides over others, notably the discrimination against high-achieving Asian-Americans (which is the subject of litigation for some Ivies). It doesn’t investigate Prof. Wax’s point, which suggests that, in an effort to raise minority enrollment, universities are admitting students who are not well-prepared for those particular schools and therefore perform poorly or drop out. If that’s the result, as some studies have shown, then these efforts to help minority students may actually harm many of them. The NYT report doesn’t shed any light on that question.

Second, the report notes that at Pomona (the hook for the NYT story) a stunning half of the admissions budget is allocated to recruiting underrepresented students.” That’s an enormous effort. One can only hope it produces good outcomes for the school and the targeted students. It should be noted, however, that any student recruited to selective schools like Pomona would almost certainly have gone to another fine school if scholarship funds were available. If so, then Pomona’s gain is a loss for Emory or Vanderbilt or others. If they have to reach further down in the applicant pool to reach their diversity targets, then the good intentions of each school could yield an unintended outcome collectively.

I only hope that these schools, which work so hard to recruit minority students, put an equal effort into providing them a supportive environment on campus. Admission is only the beginning. We want these students to succeed, whichever college they attend.U

Clarice’s Pieces is an interesting read each week, and this installment is a gem (link here(Clarice Feldman in The American Thinker)

This week, the sorest loser since Dickens’ Miss Havisham in Great Expectations, Hillary Clinton, began peddling her latest book What Happened–Clarice Feldman

Comment: Don’t remember Miss Havisham? A wealthy, controlling spinster, she was stood up at the altar years ago and, ever since, has worn her wedding dress.

◆ In surprise move, Chicago Bears announce they will play the rest of the season 

The startling decision, considered futile by experts, comes after Sunday’s 29-7 loss to Tampa Bay.

Aides to the team have not yet decided who will tell the coaches and players that their next two opponents are the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers.

The Chicago Tribune headline: Ugly loss to Bucs goes beyond quarterback as Bears aren’t competitive

Comment: I Last season, I offered readers valuable advice early in the schedule. Do something else with your Sundays. The same advice applies this season.

Unless you are the “M” in “S&M,” do not watch these beatings.



Not this year: The Clintons cancel their annual gala for world leaders

 For more than a decade, Bill Clinton’s Clinton Global Initiative—his annual meeting/gala/fundraiser–has been staged to coincide with the UN General Assembly meeting in New York.

Not this year.

CGI has other events listed on its website, but not the main event that attracted the biggest names in the world–prime ministers, presidents, secretaries of state, CEOs movie stars, etc.

That was the genius of staging CGI during the UN meeting. People of huge international stature were gathered in New York. The top contributors were, by custom, summoned to the stage for a hug from Bill. Hillary was almost always there, and, of course, Chelsea.


Quietly Ditched, at least for 2017

It occurred to me a couple of days ago that I haven’t heard any of the usual promotion and media buzz about CGI 2017. It might have been scrapped on purpose because of the sense of certainty in the Clinton camp, in the media, and almost everywhere else, that Hillary would win.

If she were POTUS and Bill were First Gentleman, then it would, by any standard, seem inappropriate. We should probably expect that it’ll reappear during the UN General Assembly meeting in September 2018.

Here’s the CGI meetings link for 2016 which suddenly feels so out of date (link here)


Will the CGI Gala Resume in 2018?

 I, for one, hope it does, because, as usual with the Clintons, the suspicions and allegations of impropriety overtake the fact that CGI does much good work.



Carol Felsenthal is much-published author. She has written extensively about CGI in her book on Bill: Clinton in Exile: a President Out of the White House

Besides a long list of magazine credits, she has written a number of acclaimed biographies:

  • Citizen Newhouse: Portrait of a Media Merchant,
  • Power, Privilege, and the Post: The Katharine Graham Story,
  • Princess Alice: The Life and Times of Alice Roosevelt Longworth, and

She is also a contributing writer for Chicago Magazine and the political blogger for their website,

She has taught biographical writing at the University of Chicago and written profiles of everyone from Ann Landers to Michelle Obama.

So, Frieda, I was doing some weight-lifting at the gym . . .

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Firefighters in Worms, Germany were called in to help free a man who got his body part stuck in the hole of a 2.5kg (5.5 pound) weight at a gym. With the help of a grinder and a hydraulic saw, they were able to break the weight into 5 parts, freeing the man’s penis.

On Friday, the Feuerwehr Worms Fire Department released a photo on Facebook, showing the dumbbell disc broken into 5 pieces after the 3-hour ordeal that took place in order to free the man. –Report from Fox32 Chicago (link here)


Until now, the city had been known mainly for the “Diet of Worms,” where Martin Luther was tried for heresy in 1521.



ZipDialog Roundup for Sunday, September 17

Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed.
Linked articles in bold purple

◆ The world’s leaders gather for annual UN General Assembly in NY

 USA Today headline captures some of the anxiety: “Trump treks to the United Nations to meet world leaders anxious about what he’ll say”

Comment: World leaders use the gathering for break-out meetings, one on one. There are several dangerous issues on the agenda, beginning with North Korea, but also including Iran, Russia, and, as the fighting in Syria ebbs, the return of many battle-hardened Islamic fighters to Europe.

British police have arrested second man in London tube bombing (CNN)

The arrests are part of a major manhunt for the perpetrators of Friday’s attack. Police had previously arrested an 18-year-old suspect in the departure area of the port of Dover on Saturday. Dover is major port town about 80 miles southeast of London. –CNN

Comment: One particularly sad part of this attack is that some of the suspects are Syrian refugees who were taken in by a well-meaning elderly couple in the London area, a couple honored by Queen for their humanitarian work. Their kindness appears to have been repaid by a vicious attack on the country that welcomed them.

Israel court rules ultra-orthodox must serve in military; they battle police in protest (Daily Mail)

The protest became violent when demonstrators blocked roads and resisted efforts to disperse them by riot police, mounted officers and water cannon.

“Eight rioters who used violence against police were arrested,” a police statement said in Hebrew. –Daily Mail

Basic background: The ultra-orthodox were originally a tiny fraction of the Israeli population and were given a special exemption from serving in the military (so they could study full-time). That exemption became increasingly controversial as the percentage of ultra-orthodox increased, mainly because of their higher birthrate.

 High-tech hatred: Google and Facebook allowed advertisers to target racists and anti-Semites by offering them keywords to target people making those noxious searches (Jerusalem Post)

The companies said they have now corrected those issues, but the paper’s check showed some still remain.

Comment: I’m sure this was an inadvertent error, inevitable when algorithms automatically generate millions of keywords. The firms have done the right thing in trying to correct it.

Those North Korean missiles. Looks like they received potent rocket fuel from Russia and China (New York Times)

According to US intelligence sources, it may be too late to stop the imports.

Meanwhile, America’s ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, is saying the US has exhausted its diplomatic options with North Korea (Reuters)

Comment: She strongly implies that only military options are now left.

US may close embassy in Cuba over its sonic attacks on our diplomats (New York Times)

The Trump administration has already reversed crucial pieces of what President Trump has called a “terrible and misguided deal” with Cuba that was struck during the Obama administration, but closing the embassy would be the most dramatic action yet to return the relationship to its Cold War deep freeze. –New York Times




ZipDialog Roundup for Saturday, September 16

Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed.
Linked articles in bold purple

London’s terror level raised to critical after “bucket bomb” in Tube. Sixth terror incident in UK in a year (BBC)

The “critical” designation means more attacks are expected very soon.

29 were injured in this attack, though the number could have been much higher if the bomb had worked as planned.

The bomber escaped and is presumably being hidden by his terror-support group.

Comment: As ZipDialog has said repeatedly, the problem goes far beyond policing and surveillance, essential as those are.

The New York Times does not lead with the London Bombing story.

Instead, it leads with British criticism of a Trump tweet that said the bombers were “in the sights of Scotland Yard” (New York Times)

Comment: Really??? The Times thinks the tweet is more important than the bombing.

Has their hatred of Trump caused them to lose their news judgment altogether? That’s a rhetorical question. They supply the answer daily.

 Professor at NYC’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice and Antifa leader tweets “I think it’s a privilege to teach future dead cops” (Fox News)

After the tweet and Isaacson’s continued defense of it became public, the university placed him on “administrative leave.” (Daily Caller)

Comment: Perhaps he can become a Fellow at Harvard’s Institute of Politics.

Yep, the cybersecurity chief at Equifax was a music major without computer science background or credentials. Susan Mauldin has just “retired” (MarketWatch)

This is real, not a joke (except on us, whose info was stolen).

Comment: As they would say in New Jersey, “I gottcha MFA right here.”



For Equifax’s Chief Security Officer, how much expertise in computer science and data analysis would you expect?

If your answer was ZERO, then you are correct!!

At first, I thought this LinkedIn profile for Susan Mauldin, Equifax’s chief security officer, was a joke.

It’s not.

The joke is on us.


Do you think the Chief Information Officer has a stronger background?

Nope. BA in Russian, an MBA, and then some work in a bank.

Here’s the report from CNN:

In response to a CNNMoney inquiry, the company said Susan Mauldin is retiring as chief security officer and Dave Webb is retiring as chief information officer.

A LinkedIn profile for Susan M. says she’s served in the CSO role since 2013. She previously worked at First Data Corporation, Sun Trust Banks and HP. She studied music in college and earned her MFA from the University of Georgia.

Webb joined Equifax in 2010, according to his company bio. He previously served as chief operations officer at Silicon Valley Bank and as a vice president at Goldman Sachs. Before earning his MBA, Webb earned a bachelor’s degree in Russian from the University of London.

Comment: Equifax, you got some ‘splainin’ to do. 

Berkeley defends free speech

Yes, it cost a fortune–estimates run as high as $600,000.

That number tells you just how determined and threatening the Social Justice Warriors, anarchists, and miscellaneous rabble are in trying to prevent free speech.

But whatever the cost of defending Ben Shapiro’s appearance, it is far less than the cost to our country of letting threats of violence shut down our public sphere.

That’s why I admire the post from my friend and fellow political scientist, Ron Hassner.

ZipDialog Roundup for Friday, September 15

Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed.
Linked articles in bold purple

◆ Let us now praise a great baseball record: Cleveland Indians win 22 straight games 

How hard is that? Well, one indication is that no one has ever done it before.

Another is to look at the law of averages.

If you are playing .600 ball (as the Indians are, roughly), then the chances you don’t lose any game out of 5 are a little less than 8% (1 in 12).

The chances you don’t lose any game out of 10 are .006 (about 1/2 of 1%)

The chances that, as a ,600 ball club, you don’t lose 1 game out of 22 are .000013 (that’s 4 zeroes, or 1 chance in 100,000).

That number turns out to be remarkably close to what the law of averages suggest.

In 140 years of major league ball, there have been about 210k games. Roughly half the teams are above .500, and maybe 30% are above .600.  That would mean .600 ball clubs played about 70,000 major league games. And this is the first team to go 22 straight, not far off from 1 in 100,000.

Comment: Does someone want to check my calculations here and make sure I have it right?

North Korea responds to sanctions by launching another missile over Japan, its longest missile flight yet (Japan Times)

It was the longest demonstrated flight test of a ballistic missile ever conducted by North Korea and the second instance of the country overflying Japan with a system designed to deliver nuclear warheads. …

According to data released by the South Korean military, the missile flew to a range of approximately 3,700 kilometers while reaching an apogee of 770 kilometers over a flight time of 17 minutes. Japan warned civilians on Hokkaido of a missile overflight, activating sirens and issuing electronic alerts. –Japan Times

Comment: The Trump Administration will almost certainly respond with more sanctions and perhaps begin shooting down North Korean missiles or firing missiles over North Korea, just as it has fired them over Japan.

Since both China and Russia voted for the latest round of UN sanctions, this test has to be a finger aimed at them, too.

More anti-Semitism from the Keith Ellison camp (Washington Free Beacon) 

Rep. Ellison (D-MN) is the #2 person in the Democratic National Committee.

His press secretary, Isaiah Breen, said that a prominent Jewish reporter looks like “an anti-Semitic caricature” and then doubled down on his vile language. He was not fired, at least not yet; he merely joked about it. (That is an update, thanks to a question from Zakary Taylor and some followup.)

The flack later said he had not been fired because of his noxious Tweets.

Comment: The problem goes beyond Ellison and Breen. It has become pervasive on the far left.

New Yorker interview with HRC: “Hillary Clinton Looks Back in Anger” (David Remnick interviewer)

Comment: Her grating, hectoring tone reminds voters why of her problems, not her strengths.

Her time in the limelight is also a distraction for her party, which wants to move on.

Oliver Cromwell’s speech dissolving the Rump Parliament in 1653 catches the mood:

Harvard honors Chelsea Manning by inviting her to be a Fellow of the Institute of Politics. Rescinds offer after blowback.

For some odd reason, the rest of the country is grouchy with the decision to honor someone who leaked massive amounts of secret documents.

Harvard’s Kennedy School dean then rescinds the offer, but asks Manning to speak. (New York Post)

The views at Harvard were more mixed (Harvard Crimson)

Noah R. Wagner ’18, a member of the Harvard Trans Task Force, speaking in a personal capacity, praised the IOP for appointing Manning.

“Whistleblowers like Chelsea Manning are exactly the people that we need, shedding light on the atrocities and injustices for which the U.S. military is responsible, and for which there is rarely transparency or accountability. She’s also a personal hero of mine and a hero for many members of the trans community,” Wagner said. –Harvard Crimson 

Comment: Manning, then known as Private Bradley Manning, was court martialed and convicted under the Espionage Act for leaking 750k sensitive or classified documents to Wikileaks.  She changed gender identities in prison, where she served 7 years before Pres. Obama commuted her sentence.


Hat Tip to

◆ Linda Killian for Oliver Cromwell