Back in September, after 97% of faculty and staff polled said he was unqualified to hold the job, The University of Iowa community was surprised when the Board of Regents selected J. Bruce Harreld as its new president. Harreld, a former Boston Market executive with no academic administrative experience, was up against the president of Oberlin College and the provost of Ohio State University, among others. His entire application packet consisted of a three-page resume, which turned out to inaccurately list his most recent employer, and he was consistently the last choice of every stakeholder group consulted. But he was also the only candidate to speak on the phone with Governor Branstad, and he met privately with the regents during the selection process. Last week, the American Association of University Professors released its report on the matter, which found that the UI Presidential Search and Screen Committee played no meaningful role in Harreld’s selection. According to AAUP, his appointment was a “crude exercise in naked power” on the part of the regents.
We don’t know how many Americans are killed by police officers each year. The FBI asks for voluntary annual reports of so-called fatal encounters from local police departments, but they don’t comply. Even those departments that submit reports don’t include circumstantial information like the races and ages of those killed. No less an investigative authority than the New York Times was forced to admit that “no precise figures exist for the number of people killed by the police in the United States,” which is kind of astounding when you consider that the FBI does have records of every email and text message. But we do know this:
Research by Philip M. Stinson, a criminologist at Bowling Green State University, reports that 41 officers were charged with either murder or manslaughter in shootings while on duty over a seven-year period ending in 2011. Over that same period, police departments reported 2,600 justifiable homicides to the FBI.
Even if we ignore the consensus that police killings are significantly underreported, that’s a charge rate of 1.6%. And that’s not to say that 1.6% of cops who kill people on duty are convicted of crimes. Only 1.6% are even charged.
As details emerge from the grand jury investigation into Darren Wilson’s fatal shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown, commentators are crying foul. The New York Times editorial board issued a scathing indictment of the decision not to indict, saying that prosecutor Robert McCulloch—“widely viewed in the minority community as being in the pockets of the police”—handled the proceedings “in the worst possible way.” The National Bar Association issued a press release “questioning how the grand jury, considering the evidence before them, could reach the conclusion that Darren Wilson should not be indicted” and called for federal charges. Meanwhile, at Vox, Ezra Klein has called Wilson’s account of the shooting “literally unbelievable.”
The Republican-led House Intelligence Committee has concluded its investigation of the Sept. 11, 2012 attacks on the US consulate in Benghazi and found no evidence of wrongdoing. There was no “intelligence failure” before the attacks, and although the effort to assemble talking points for the president in the immediate aftermath were “flawed,” conspiracy theories like the stand-down order or denial of air support were found to be groundless. You can read the whole report here, if you have Asperger’s Syndrome. Or you can take the Washington Post’s word for it and consider the case closed. Or—and I’m just spitballing, here—you can call the report “garbage” and “full of crap,” as Sen. Lindsey Graham (R–SC) did yesterday. But that is an advanced move.
Watching nine TVs at once in search of a way to either reverse his aging or end his childhood, Newt Gingrich saw President Obama praise American pilots for flying missions against ISIS “with courtesy.” It was right there in the closed captioning on C-SPAN. Quickly, Gingrich turned to Twitter to express astonishment at the president’s strange diction:
That’s a screenshot from my phone, so remember that those two tweets appeared in reverse order. They also arrived one minute apart, q.v. The Washington Post. Gingrich could not believe that anyone, least of all the president, would apply “courtesy” to the act of bombing military targets. Seventeen minutes later, he figured out how to rewind his DVR:
Poor Newt—it turned out he could believe the president said “courteous” and was in fact the only person capable of doing so. And he came pretty close to admitting he was wrong.