Sunday, September 30, 2018

Ford v. Kavanaugh and the Question of Belief

From the beginning of Ford v. Kavanaugh I have argued that what is in question is “belief.” We will grant that Ford believes what she is saying. We can even grant that Kavanaugh believes what he is saying.

In the American system of justice, belief does not suffice. Being convinced does not suffice. Memory deceives us. Thus, we do not, as mentioned by Niall Ferguson, impose summary justice, and render judgment based solely on the accuser’s word. We afford the accused the due process of law and presume him innocent until proven guilty.

As you know, today’s Democrats have recently decided that their cause is so just and the stakes so high that they have no use for the rule of law and due process. They have declared that Brett Kavanaugh is not entitled to it… because Christine Blasey Ford believes that he assaulted her 36 years ago.

Yesterday, Bret Stephens made the case against basing decisions on belief. He argues that beliefs can lead nations and communities to destroy themselves. As mentioned on this blog, questioning beliefs leads to inquisitions and witch hunts. And they can never be decided.

After all, how do you know what anyone really believes. And, even if an individual believes something very strongly, that does not make it an objective fact. One might also add that transgender identity is, at root, nothing more than a belief. As long as there is no objective biological marker to confirm it, it is a belief, nothing more or less. As for biological markers, I consider chromosomal structure real. A human being is either XX or XY chromosomes. It determines gender, objectively.

Stephens explains that he, like many others, found both witnesses believable.

Sometimes, they [countries] destroy themselves over the things they don’t see, not the things they do. Chief among those unseen things is belief.

Do you believe Blasey? I watched her — vulnerable, obliging, guileless (precisely the opposite of what her skeptics suspected) — and found her wholly believable. If she’s lying, she will face social and professional ruin. Do you believe Kavanaugh? I watched him — meticulous, wounded, furious (wouldn’t you be, too, if you were innocent of such an accusation?) — and found him wholly believable. If he’s lying, he will face ruin as well.

Once you accept that allegations are, for having been alleged, necessarily truthful, you are headed down a dark road. You have opened the door, Stephens explains, to anyone who wants to invent any allegation, regardless of plausibility or factual basis. Witness the absurd allegations offered by Lisa Swetnick:

But that’s not likely to happen. And if suspicion based on allegation — even or especially “believable” allegations — becomes a sufficient basis for disqualification, it will create overpowering political incentives to discover, produce or manufacture allegations in the hopes that something sticks. Americans have a longstanding credulity problem — 9/11 trutherism; Obama birtherism; J.F.K. assassination theories; the “deep state” — so the ground is already fertile.

We should beware of what will grow in the Senate once this seed is sown. We should beware of what will happen in the country as cultural norms shift toward reflexively believing the accuser.

Stephens suggest that the Senate should not vote down Kavanaugh on the basis of unsubstantiated allegations. To do otherwise would set an awful precedent:

The enduring challenge of liberal societies is to react to such challenges, not overreact. The guardrails against overreaction are based in the presumption of innocence and the legal, institutional and personal norms that bolster that presumption. To deny Kavanaugh’s confirmation based on Blasey’s allegation alone — never mind those of Deborah Ramirez or Julie Swetnick — is to remove one of the guardrails for all future nominees of whatever party.

Those who express their full throated outrage at male behavior, who are more than willing to attack and destroy any man accused of any misdeed, should prepare themselves for blowback. In the blowback, women will assuredly be hurt.

Stephens believes that when it’s just a matter of belief, it descends into a power struggle. Then, the issue is not truth or belief but raw strength:

When politics becomes solely a matter of “I believe” versus “I believe,” it descends into a raw contest for power. Historically, it’s been fascists, not liberals, who tend to win such contests.

He concludes by mentioning that Democrats, in particular, have been willing to suspend all doubts and to gum up the process in order to get their way. Thus, he places blame where it rightly should be placed.

But if Kavanaugh ends up winning confirmation, it will have much to do with the perception that Democrats never intended a fair process to begin with, toward either the nominee or his accuser; that they treated allegation as fact; and that they raised their sense of belief above normal standards of fair play. This may be the hill they want to die on. The rest of America should be careful not to follow.

Questioning Christine Blasey Ford

A Facebook page called Common Sense soapbox throws some doubt and some shade at Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony. Since no one has really asked whether her testimony made any real sense, why not examine this account of the facts, and especially the incoherences and the contradictions.

You have to ask yourself whether our inherent sympathy for an individual who has been harmed is blinding us to the facts.

Without any commentary, recounted in Ford’s voice:

I don’t know whose house it happened at or even what year it happened. I don’t know if I got there before everyone else or after. I don’t know how I got there or how I got home over 8 miles away (at the age of 15).

My life time friend doesn’t remember any of this ( and the other 3 people I said were there testified under oath they don’t know anything about this).

I have a fear of flying , but have no problem jet-setting all over the world while on vacation. I’ve been on airplanes more in the past two months than most people in a year, but my fear is completely legit.

I don’t know who paid for my hotel and polygraph test( the afternoon of my grandmothers funeral, or maybe it was the next day, who knows). And guess what? I flew there. Oh and that polygraph, it was only two questions, neither of which were about Kavanaugh. But hey, I passed so that’s all that matters. And my PhD in psychology definitely, in no way, helped me with it or my testimony today.

My friends on the beach encouraged me to continue contacting the media with my story (because we were running out of time). I can’t name them, so we’ll just call them beach friends. Yet while giving such great advice, none were willing to be character witnesses. Meanwhile, Judge Kavanaugh had hundreds of character witnesses step up in a matter of days.

My lawyers, out of the kindness of their hearts, are helping me for FREE yet I have a “needed” gofundme page that currently is sitting at $473,622. I’m so desperately in need of help there’s even a second gofundme with $209,987. I promise though I’m not getting anything out of my testimony, that money is just going to cover my expenses.

I’m super smart. I have a PhD and I teach graduate students. I know lots of big words, but it should be totally believable that I don’t understand basic questions.

I was the only person in the United States that didn’t know Congress agreed to come to me instead of me going to DC. They really do care about my flying phobia after all.
Get the picture yet, America?

For those of you that want to know about the polygraph, you can see it here:

Niall Ferguson on Ford v. Kavanaugh

Without very much commentary, here are a few comments from eminent historian Niall Ferguson on the case of Ford v. Kavanaugh:

It is true that in the past week other accusations of sexual misconduct have been levelled at Kavanaugh. But none of these stories, including Ford’s, would stand up in a court of law because there is not a shred of evidence to corroborate the recollections of those telling them.

Having watched Ford testify, I have little doubt she believes what she said is true. But as a historian who has spent many long hours interviewing people about past events, including highly personal matters, I do not regard that as good enough to destroy the reputation of a distinguished judge.

Human memory is, generally, bad at history. Were I writing Brett Kavanaugh’s biography I could not possibly depict him, on the basis of uncorroborated testimony provided long after the fact, as a man who attempted rape in his youth and lied about it later. His memory is also unlikely to be perfect. But his story — that as a young man he glugged beer and had the usual Catholic hang-ups about sex — is more plausible.

And a few added words on the #MeToo movement… especially highlighting its demands for “summary justice.” For the record, summary justice includes lynching-- see the case of Emmett Till. It’s democratic corrective is: due process of law.

Ferguson writes:

The #MeToo movement is revolutionary feminism. Like all revolutionary movements, it favours summary justice. Since April 2017 more than 200 prominent men have been publicly accused of a sexual misdemeanour, ranging from rape to inappropriate language. A few seem likely to have committed crimes and are being prosecuted accordingly — notably the Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, who denies all allegations of non-consensual sex. But #MeToo seems to have elided rape, assault, clumsy passes and banter into a single, catch-all crime. Reputations have been destroyed and careers ended. “I believe her” are the fateful words that, if uttered by enough people, perform the roles of judge and jury.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

A Hypocritical Creed

Brett Kavanaugh and the Right to Privacy

Perhaps I missed it, but I do not recall Andrew Sullivan apologizing to Sarah Palin for speculating that her Down syndrome son was not really her son. Since Sullivan offers a spirited and intelligent analysis of the brouhaha over Brett Kavanaugh, especially as concerns the separation between public and private behaviors, it would have been a good time for Sullivan to abjure his own past slanders.

Be that as it may, Sullivan throws some raw intelligence at the Kavanaugh proceedings. He notes, and it ought to be underscored, that those who oppose Kavanaugh have no interest in facts or in empirical evidence. They are living within their own ideological universe where any and all evidence proves their point. After all, if Kavanaugh is the Devil, no facts can disprove the assertion. One feels compelled to repeat that, in the absence of corroborating evidence, that is, in the absence of facts, Dr. Ford has merely explained what she believed happened. It’s a belief, not a fact. And it cannot be proved or disproved.

Sullivan writes:

If he [Kavanaugh] hadn’t hired and mentored many women, it would be proof he was a misogynist and rapist. But the fact that he did hire and mentor many of them was also proof he was a misogynist and a rapist, who only picked the pretty ones. If he hadn’t shown anger, he would have been obviously inhuman. When he did express rage … well, that was a disqualifying temperament for a judge. It didn’t help that the Democrats made no pretense of having an open mind, or that any glimpse at mainstream media — let alone media Twitter — revealed that it had already picked a side. This was, for the major papers, especially the New York Times, a righteous battle against another white straight male, and the smug, snarky virtue-signaling on Twitter was in overdrive. Even Kavanaugh’s choking-up was mocked — just another contemptible “bro-crier.”

Given the cultural warfare against toxic white males and their privileges, those who oppose Kavanaugh see him as the embodiment of everything that they hate. Among the ironies that Sullivan does not note, in this time of white male privilege, is that white males are consistently being outperformed in the academic world… by Asians. The rank stupidity of the politics of demonization needs to be continually exposed:

Then I remembered all those op-eds and essays that decided to judge one moment in one man’s teens as somehow deeply revealing about … white privilege, toxic masculinity, white supremacy, toxic homosociality, bro culture, alcoholism, patriarchy … you name it, Kavanaugh was suddenly its foul epitome. He was an instant symbol of all the groups of people the left now hates, by virtue of their race or gender or orientation. And maybe he is. But did any of that necessarily make him guilty of anything, except by association?

Of course, the mythology around toxic white males makes them guilty of everything that has ever gone wrong in the course of human civilization. You do not need to have done anything. You are guilty for belong to the class of white males. This presents a version of black liberation theology, the kind that was promulgated by Rev. Jeremiah Wright and his protege, Barack Obama.

The toxic white male privilege meme is designed to blame white males for the underperformance of non-whites. It is a massive effort at blame shifting. It diminishes all of the achievements by white males and lays a massive guilt trip on them. Because if you cannot accomplish what they have accomplished you should at least undermine their confidence and render them dysfunctional. The result is: the outsized success of Asians in America today.

Sullivan moves on to a salient point, one that has not often enough been emphasized. The scavenger hunt through Brett Kavanaugh’s high school yearbook, the attempt to find people who will say that he drank to excess at Yale or in high school resembles a totalitarian effort to break down the barrier between public and private, to use information about someone’s private life in order to demean, diminish, slander and defame him:

When public life means the ransacking of people’s private lives even when they were in high school, we are circling a deeply illiberal drain. A civilized society observes a distinction between public and private, and this distinction is integral to individual freedom. Such a distinction was anathema in old-school monarchies when the king could arbitrarily arrest, jail, or execute you at will, for private behavior or thoughts. These lines are also blurred in authoritarian regimes, where the power of the government knows few limits in monitoring a person’s home or private affairs or correspondence or tax returns or texts. These boundaries definitionally can’t exist in theocracies, where the state is interested as much in punishing and exposing sin, as in preventing crime. The Iranian and Saudi governments — like the early modern monarchies — seek not only to control your body, but also to look into your soul. They know that everyone has a dark side, and this dark side can be exposed in order to destroy people. All you need is an accusation.

In a crushing irony, Sullivan is suggesting that a right to privacy is enshrined in the constitution, not quite in the way that the abortion rights league would want. That document guarantees that your private life is your own private property and is no one else’s business. Of course, criminal activities are not covered, but the effort to prove Kavanaugh a criminal by the evidence of how much he drank in college or high school is, Sullivan believes, totalitarian overreach.

We note, because it deserves to be noted, again and again, that Christine Ford seems less to be accusing Kavanaugh of a crime-- if she had wanted to do that she should have contacted a Maryland prosecutor-- and more about defaming him. And, by extension, defaming all males, especially the accomplished white ones… the ones who did not earn what they have, but who were given it, through privilege.

We ought to mention that numerous friends and several girlfriends of Kavanaugh have stepped forward to defend his behavior. By the psychology of deviant sexual behavior, apparently a subject that has escaped Dr. Ford-- who is hardly a pillar of the profession, even if she knows what the hippocampus is -- a disposition toward sexual sadism is extremely unlikely to manifest itself one and only one time.

When people compared Kavanaugh to Bill Cosby they glossed over the obvious distinction: Bill Cosby was accused by dozens of women of drugging them and raping them. He was not just a one-off offender.

The Founders ... realized how precious privacy is, how it protects you not just from the government but from your neighbors and your peers. They carved out a private space that was sacrosanct and a public space which insisted on a strict presumption of innocence, until a speedy and fair trial. Whether you were a good husband or son or wife or daughter, whether you had a temper, or could be cruel, or had various sexual fantasies, whether you were a believer, or a sinner: this kind of thing was rendered off-limits in the public world. The family, the home, and the bedroom were, yes, safe places. If everything were fair game in public life, the logic ran, none of us would survive.

Sullivan sees the failure to respect privacy as a totalitarian tendency. One should get over the notion that today’s Democrats are liberal or progressive. They are radicals and they function like unhinged radicals… consumed by a will to destroy.

And it is the distinguishing mark of specifically totalitarian societies that this safety is eradicated altogether by design. There, the private is always emphatically public, everything is political, and ideology trumps love, family, friendship or any refuge from the glare of the party and its public. Spies are everywhere, monitoring the slightest of offenses. Friends betray you, as do lovers. Family members denounce their own mothers and fathers and siblings and sons and daughters. The cause, which is usually a permanently revolutionary one, always matters more than any individual’s possible innocence. You are, in fact, always guilty before being proven innocent. You always have to prove a negative. And no offense at any point in your life is ever forgotten or off the table.

Again, as many others have noted, the American legal system grants the accused the presumption of innocence… because you cannot prove a negative.

Sullivan continues to remark that, under normal circumstances, the media is entrusted with maintaining the barrier of public and private. Nowadays, most of the media is happy to accept Dr. Ford’s word as gospel truth and to trash Brett Kavanaugh, no matter what he says. It has given up on presenting the news fairly and accurately and has too often made itself into the Red Guards of the new cultural revolution:

I am noting a more general accusatory dynamic that surrounded Ford’s specific allegation. This is particularly dangerous when there are no editors or gatekeepers in the media to prevent any accusation about someone’s private life being aired, when economic incentives online favor outrageous charges, and when journalists have begun to see themselves as vanguards of a cultural revolution, rather than skeptics of everything.

As for the possible outcomes of the current culture war, Sullivan offers two. First, if Kavanaugh is confirmed, he will might well become an implacable enemy of everything that today’s liberals hold sacred. If he is not confirmed, Trump would likely nominate Amy Coney Barrett, a conservative Catholic who would be far more likely to vote against abortion rights. How will Democrats defame Barrett? Will they accuse her of being a Roman Catholic? Or will they argue that she attempted to rape a boy in high school?

So on the substance of the Court’s future, it seems to me that the Democrats have ensured this past week that if Kavanaugh is confirmed, they will have created an embittered foe in the Thomas mold. And if they end up with Barrett, they will have have someone on the Court more certain to strike down Roe than Kavanaugh.

When you are consumed with a will to destroy, it often boomerangs against you.

Friday, September 28, 2018

The Difference between Boys and Girls

Today, we have news from the gender bending front. It is a somewhat dry and arcane academic study, but it sheds some serious light on the differences between boys and girls. It’s more about social roles and less about the biology of gender.

Susan Pinker reports on the study in the Wall Street Journal. It began when some social engineers decided that single-mother families living in bad neighborhoods should be given housing vouchers in order to move to better neighborhoods. The program sponsors assumed that an improved neighborhood would benefit the children. Apparently, the fact that most of these families lacked fathers did not enter into the calculation.

For the record we know nothing in particular about the two neighborhoods. And, we know nothing about the racial or ethnic composition of either neighborhood, or of the families in question. This to say, the story suffers from numerous lacunae.

When the families were studied, researchers discovered the girls showed improved behavior while boys did not. The differences were stark.

Pinker describes the study:

Imagine you’re a single mother living at or below the poverty line in a troubled neighborhood. If you want to shield your teenager from drinking and mental distress, should you try to move to a better area or stay put? The answer depends on whether your teen is a boy or a girl, according to a new paper published in the journal Addiction.

The lead author of the study, University of Minnesota epidemiologist Theresa Osypuk, investigated the drinking habits and mental health of teenagers whose families lived in public housing in the late 1990s. About two-thirds of the families were randomly chosen to receive housing vouchers, allowing them to move into better areas.

Between four and seven years later, the researchers found, adolescent girls who had moved into more expensive neighborhoods were far less likely to drink to excess than girls who remained in public housing. But boys whose families had moved binged more. This surprising finding challenges the assumption that behavioral risks increase with economic hardship and that poverty affects women and men the same way.

The single mothers showed improved health but no improvement in employment prospects:

To the chagrin of the policy wonks who designed the program, improving where women lived had absolutely no effect on their employment. But it had a big impact on their health. “Rates of obesity were lower, markers of diabetes were better, mental health was better,” Prof. Osypuk said.

But, the real question is: why did boys not benefit from the move? Why did their mental health deteriorate?

Boys are developmentally more fragile than girls, with higher rates of learning and behavior problems. That’s one reason why the well-being of the boys in the voucher groups tanked, according to Prof. Osypuk. Boys who moved out of public housing not only drank more but also showed higher rates of distress, depression and behavior problems, according to a 2012 paper that she and her team published in the journal Pediatrics.

“Boys have mental health disadvantages, and the stress of moving adds insult to injury,” Prof. Osypuk said. Just when these vulnerable boys most needed predictability, their social worlds were upended. “They moved down in the social hierarchy and hung out with riskier boys,” speculated Prof. Osypuk. Meanwhile, girls who moved to better neighborhoods experienced fewer sexual stressors and adapted to their new circumstances more easily.

We would like to know whether the boys living in single-mother homes moved into neighborhoods where other boys had fathers at home. And yet, the most important factor seems to involve social hierarchy. Apparently, placement on a status hierarchy is more important to boys than it is to girls.

Surely, this also tells us something about role reversal marriages. If a family chooses to reverse roles, thus to have the mother be the primary breadwinner and the father the primary caregiver, boys will apparently suffer.

When boys are hanging around on the playground they ask about what their fathers do. They will not judge each other in terms of what their mothers do… because they do not want to grow up to be like their mothers. Boys gain status and prestige from their fathers’ occupations, but not from their mothers’ occupations.

This tells us why the boys in question gravitated toward the lower end of the status hierarchy and hung around with boys who indulged in more bad behavior.

Apparently, the situation with girls is different. One suspects, as a general rule, that girls are less inclined to join gangs or to take drugs. One imagines that girls have their own status hierarchies, but apparently they are not as rigid as their male counterparts. I have not read the study, but I suspect that girls gain status from the boys who pursue them. I also suspect that this is based more on looks and personality than on socioeconomic background.

We do not want to draw strict conclusions from single studies, especially when we cannot evaluate the influence of other factors. And yet, at the least, it’s intriguing.

"A Complete and Utter Disgrace"

Due to circumstances beyond my control I did not watch the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings yesterday. If circumstances had been within my control I would have been sorely tempted to skip the degrading spectacle.

By all accounts, Bret Kavanaugh acquitted himself very well. By all accounts, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford presented a thoroughly credible account of her experience.

Predictably, the conservative and Republican media are strongly defending Judge Kavanaugh. Predictably, the liberal press has declared that he should not be confirmed because he did not display a judicious temperament.

Its reasoning is appalling and deplorable. When people are trying to destroy you, an absence of anger would have been deafening.

Piers Morgan, of all people, offered a balanced appraisal in The Daily Mail. His article bears the title:

The day DC should have died of shame as it watched two broken souls be publicly tortured over their pasts in a viciously partisan bear-pit

DC could not have died of shame because DC no longer has a sense of shame. About that we can agree.

Morgan continued, calling it: “gladiatorial barbarism.” The description seems apt:
What I can say though is that this was one of the most disgusting, disgraceful things I have ever witnessed.

For these two previously unknown people to be dragged through such a revolting public court of gladiatorial barbarism for the delectation of a mass TV audience was painful, so painful I could barely watch at times.

Yet it was an absolutely inevitable consequence of the way Washington has spiralled in recent years into a vile cesspit of extreme partisan bullsh*t – fuelled by rampant, vicious social media.

Today was a dark, tragic day for America.

It was a day when the whole country, and indeed much of the rest of the world, tuned in to see two people tortured and humiliated.

I get that Supreme Court nominees have to be vigorously vetted, and have to be held to a different standard of behaviour to the rest of us.

An appalling spectacle, mounted by Democrats to gin up votes and to sink the Kavanaugh nomination… Apparently, no one considered that Kavanaugh was a human being, that he had a family, and that destroying human beings for partisan political reasons is abject.

Morgan continued:

But what we watched today was nothing short of a circus - a long, disturbing, wretched circus; a circus watched by a baying global mob, most of whom decided long before the hearings began whom they believed.

Kavanaugh looked unhinged today – perhaps too unhinged to ever sit on the Supreme Court - but if I’d been falsely accused of the stuff he’s been accused of in the past fortnight, I’d probably be pretty damn unhinged too.

He was fighting not just for a place on the Supreme Court, but for his reputation, his dignity, his family.

To see his loyal wife silently weeping throughout his testimony was agonising.
She knows that everything her husband has worked for in his entire life is now imperilled. Every security she took for granted about their family life is now threatened.

If this is not deplorable, I do not know what is. You would think that Kavanaugh was a Kennedy or a Bill Clinton. Apparently, his life experience and his record on the bench were for nothing… they did not even accord him the presumption of innocence.

The problem everyone is facing is simple: what if they were both telling the truth?

Morgan continues:

If Kavanaugh is guilty, then he deserves to be duly punished.

But what if he’s innocent?

What if Ms Ford, who was just a young teenage kid at the time, has got the wrong guy?

I don’t think she’s a liar, but maybe she made an honest mistake.

How do we know for sure?

How will we EVER know?

Where are the cold hard FACTS?

There aren’t any, there can’t possibly be any after 35 years.

There are no facts. There is no way to prove or disprove the allegations.There is no corroboration beyond that of a psychologist who pretended that science was on her side.

At the least, it was a bad day for America. And it was a bad day for democracy… though one wonders how Democratic senators, the ringleaders of this horror show, can declare themselves to be the guardians of democracy. In the end, they care far less about election results than about packing the courts with judges who will help them impose their agenda on America… like it or not.

Morgan concludes:

That such an important moment in American history should be reduced to this horrific bear-pit is as absurd as it’s unacceptable.

Every American who genuinely cares about their country should share my outrage about what they watched today.

At one stage, Kavanaugh was actually grilled about flatulence - in the United States Senate by a serving United States senator.

Think about that for a moment.

The whole thing was a complete and utter disgrace.

Or as Senator Lindsey Graham put it today: ‘The most despicable thing I have ever seen in politics.’

Shouldn’t we all agree on that?

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Europe Hearts Terrorism

British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbin is hosting a party confab this week. Given that Corbin has been exposed as a notable anti-Semite, we note that the assembled party members, shameless to a fault, are waving the Palestinian flag.

Corbin himself has declared that within a year he will be Britain’s Prime Minister. If you were wondering where once-Great Britain is going to stand in the world’s geopolitics, you now have an indication.

Other Western European nations, in deepest chagrin over the damage that the Trump administration is doing to the Iranian economy, are now trying to circumvent economic sanctions in order to save Obama’s Iran deal and to stick a finger in the eye of the Trump administration.

Again, if you were wondering which side these nations are on, the evidence is becoming clear. The next time someone starts whining about how the Trump administration is mistreating our closest European allies, you can point out that these countries are not acting like allies. In truth, our closest European allies are in Eastern Europe. If you miss that you have missed what is going on in today’s geopolitics.

In truth, the new Italian government has taken a hard line on immigration. Nevertheless, the European foreign minister, one Federika Mogherini has made herself and Europe look weak, cowardly and pathetic. She has been trying to save the nuclear deal and to save Iran.

The story comes from the Wall Street Journal, via Daily Wire and Maggie’s Farm.

The European Union’s announcement that it would establish a special payments channel to maintain economic ties with Iran sent a clear message to Tehran and Washington: Europe is intent on trying to save the 2015 nuclear deal.

The special-payment channel is intended to bolster those in Iran arguing Tehran should keep honoring the deal’s terms. Iranian officials have been warning for months they would follow the Trump administration in quitting the agreement if the economic benefits of the 2015 deal stop flowing.

Under the agreement announced Monday by EU foreign-policy chief Federica Mogherini, the bloc agreed with other parties to the 2015 nuclear deal that it would set up a legal entity “to facilitate legitimate financial transactions with Iran and this will allow European companies to continue trade with Iran.” The special purpose vehicle would be open to all other countries to participate, including Russia and China, who helped negotiate the agreement.

At a time when more and more European companies are pulling away from Iran, we see that someone still wants to submit to the ayatollahs. It might complicate American diplomacy, but it is not likely to work.

The Journal story continues:

Yet most sanctions experts said Tuesday that it would do little to blunt U.S. economic pressure on the Iranian regime and wouldn’t prevent European companies abandoning Iranian oil imports, underscoring the constraints the EU faces in trying to stop the U.S. from sinking the deal.

And also:

The establishment of a euro-denominated payments system is aimed at allowing companies to send and receive money from Iran. With no links to the U.S. financial system, the idea is, the payment system would be protected from the main U.S. sanctions threat—disconnecting a firm from U.S. markets. European officials were also looking at a barter system that would allow Iran to sell oil, for example to China, and use the proceeds from that sale to purchase goods or technology from Europe.

Even without full details, however, sanctions experts on both sides of the debate on the 2015 deal, said any new mechanism would remain vulnerable to U.S. sanctions, which could ensnare the individuals setting it up and companies taking part. They also doubted Ms. Mogherini’s claim that the new instrument could ease European oil imports, a key target of the renewed U.S. penalties.

“U.S. sanctions apply to every company and person involved in the SPV, including the banks and companies involved in the transaction,” said Mark Dubowitz, chief executive of Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington-based think tank supporting tougher sanctions on Iran. “The U.S. government will identify and sanction anyone holding dollar-based assets, doing business with U.S. firms, or traveling to the U.S.”

So, it’s an empty gesture, designed to coddle the Iranians. Like John Kerry, Mogherini wants Iran to know that it need but wait out the Trump administration. Eventually, a return to more cowardly governance will restore the nuclear deal and allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons.