Professor Melissa Click of the University of Missouri criminally assaulted an undergraduate student and, though local prosecutors were slow to move on the case — there was video of the incident, and the facts were not in question — she eventually was charged with third-degree assault. She will not be convicted of a crime, and, so far, her tenure-track position is safe.
Ironies abound. Click, a professor of Lady Gaga studies (no, really), enjoyed an appointment in Mizzou’s journalism department, which for mysterious reasons is highly regarded. The undergraduate she assaulted was a student journalist going about his proper business, covering a campus protest of which Professor Click was one instigator.
The subject of that protest was, in part, “white privilege,” which the protesters held up in contrast to the purportedly rough and unfair treatment that African Americans, particularly young men, receive at the hands of the police.
Which brings up the obvious question: What do we imagine would have happened to a young black man who criminally assaulted a white female college professor — and then, as Professor Click did, attempted to instigate mob violence against her? On campus? On video?
There would have been handcuffs, at least. He almost certainly would not have been given the option of performing 20 hours of community service in exchange for deferred adjudication, which is the deal Professor Click is getting from Columbia’s shamefully cowardly prosecutor, Steve Richey. He would not be, as Professor Click is, on track to a lifetime sinecure from which he effectively cannot be fired.
Other scenarios are worth considering: Say the assault had been perpetrated by a burly football coach against a young black woman. We’d have had the president himself baying for blood.
#share#But he’s selective in his baying. A few months back congressional Republicans found themselves dismayed that the Veterans Affairs hospitals had, through their negligence and stupidity, killed more of our servicemen than died during any year of the Iraq war, and then engaged in a massive criminal cover-up. Legislation was introduced to make it easier to fire people for — let’s focus here — killing veterans through their negligence and stupidity. But government employees are the single most important Democratic interest group, and the president and his congressional allies complained that the bill was too harsh on public servants who were killing veterans through their negligence and stupidity. And so the bill died in the Senate, with Donald Trump’s pals Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer breathing a sigh of relief.
But killing veterans through their negligence and stupidity is not the only species of shenanigans that the VA system gets up to. Oh, no. The VA has a very generous program for covering employees’ relocation costs — payments that can reach into six figures. What could possibly go wrong with that? Only the obvious.
Killing veterans through their negligence and stupidity is not the only species of shenanigans that the VA system gets up to. Oh, no.
Responding to the financial incentives, VA employees set about securing for themselves cushy jobs that required relocation. Kimberly Graves, a VA official who oversaw several offices in the northeast, pressured a colleague into accepting a position in Baltimore so she could take his job in St. Paul. She had much less responsibility in the new position, going from being responsible for 16 VA regional offices to being responsible for one — but kept her $174,000 salary and pocketed $130,000 in moving costs. How one racks up $130,000 in moving costs is a mystery to me.
A second colleague was paid $274,000 to move . . . from Washington to Philadelphia, 134 miles away. That’s about $2,000 a mile. At that price, it would have been cheaper to have a New York City taxi dispatched from Manhattan to Washington to haul her worldly goods to Philadelphia before returning to New York, running the meter the whole way.
The VA’s inspector general issued a very amusing report on the matter, and made a criminal referral in the case. Employees were suspended. And then . . . nothing.
Worse than nothing, really: Graves has just been reinstated to her position. Another suspended employee will have a hearing on Monday, and may also be reinstated.
#share#In the Treasury Department, the EPA, and the FCC, employees have been found to routinely spend the equivalent of a full workday every week watching pornography on their office computers. Most of those crank-yanking bureaucrats are still on your payroll. At the Commerce Department, paralegals spent their days shopping online and trolling dating sites because they were assigned no work — their supervisors were afraid giving their employees work would “antagonize the labor union.” In California, the teachers’ union has gone to bat to keep pedophile teachers on the payroll after they were found to be having sex with children. In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo managed to corrupt an anti-corruption task force. The IRS and the AFT are routinely used as political weapons. The nice liberal Democrats in Flint, Mich., poisoned the city’s children in the name of infrastructure spending.
Despite all of the dark whispering about the NRA and “dark money,” the right-wing bogeymen mostly are minor players. The two major teachers’ unions are between them the biggest political spender in Washington, with the NEA and the AFT spending a combined $50 million in the 2014 cycle. AFSCME, the government-employees’ union, spent $11 million that cycle, and was the twelfth-largest overall political spender. The NRA, which barely cracks the top-300 list, spent less than $1 million. Beyond spending on (overwhelmingly Democratic) political campaigns, government workers and their unions also show up to vote, to knock on doors, and to bully, harass, and threaten nonconformists. They are the backbone of the Democratic party — and they are thieving, lazy, grasping, thieving, dishonest, thieving, pervy, thieving, detestable, despicable, thieving, thieving thieves with a minor sideline in violence and intimidation.
Which brings us back to Melissa Click, who criminally assaulted an undergraduate student journalist for attempting to commit an act of journalism. As of this writing, she is still on track for tenure. Jail? She won’t even be formally convicted of her crime if she manages to go twelve months without committing a significant crime in public.
For all the talk about “privilege,” this is a much more familiar phenomenon: This is what it means to have a ruling class.
And it cannot be repeated often enough: We are ruled by criminals.