Friday, January 09, 2015

Cruising the Web

Here's a roll call of which members of the media ran some of the Mohammed cartoons in honor of those murdered at Charlie Hebdo.

Jeffrey Goldberg explains how Europe is under siege.
And Europe has had specific, sometimes fatal, warnings about the capabilities and desires of jihadists in recent months—the car attacks in France, conducted by men shouting “Allahu Akbar,” and, most obviously, the assault on the Jewish Museum in Brussels last May, in which four people were murdered, allegedly by Mehdi Nemmouche, a French citizen of Algerian origin who apparently spent time in the Middle East in the employ of ISIS.

I visited the Brussels Jewish Museum on Tuesday and got a glimpse of Europe’s future: Entering the museum is a bit like breaking into a prison. Barricades and unfriendly police outside; suspicious looks and CCTV surveillance; wanding and bag checks. All necessary, and, to be sure, Europe’s Jews, and its Jewish institutions, have been living in a semi-besieged manner for some time. But these measures will spread, by necessity.

The Brussels attack presaged the Charlie Hebdo attack in certain ways: They were both executed by trained gunmen (though today's attackers seemed more skilled, in the al Qaeda manner, than what we've seen so far from ISIS-inspired jihadists) who chose as their targets institutions that could not have even semi-plausibly sparked rage in Muslims who claim to be angered solely by U.S. drone policy, or by the participation of European governments in the war in Afghanistan. In other words, both attacks seem to have been motivated more by a hatred of deeply held Western beliefs, rather than by specific actions of Western governments.

David Brooks rightly points out how hypocritical those at American universities are who praise the courage of the journalists at Charlie Hebdo for their willingness to satirize everyone, including Muslims, but are less willing to tolerate opinions with which they disagree here in U.S.
Public reaction to the attack in Paris has revealed that there are a lot of people who are quick to lionize those who offend the views of Islamist terrorists in France but who are a lot less tolerant toward those who offend their own views at home.

Just look at all the people who have overreacted to campus micro-aggressions. The University of Illinois fired a professor who taught the Roman Catholic view on homosexuality. The University of Kansas suspended a professor for writing a harsh tweet against the N.R.A. Vanderbilt University derecognized a Christian group that insisted that it be led by Christians.

Americans may laud Charlie Hebdo for being brave enough to publish cartoons ridiculing the Prophet Muhammad, but, if Ayaan Hirsi Ali is invited to campus, there are often calls to deny her a podium.

So this might be a teachable moment. As we are mortified by the slaughter of those writers and editors in Paris, it’s a good time to come up with a less hypocritical approach to our own controversial figures, provocateurs and satirists.

If his support of Common Core is a problem for Jeb Bush, it should also be one for Mike Huckabee.

You might have seen this charming Italian video of young boys talking with an interviewer and then introduced to a young girl whom they clearly find attractive and interesting. After some easy questions, the interviewer tells them to slap her. And the boys are clearly appalled by the request and refuse. It struck me as a refutation of the infamous Milgram experiment that purported to demonstrate that individuals would willingly inflict supposed pain on another person simply because someone in authority told them to do so. These young boys clearly weren't willing to violate what they'd been taught about not hitting girls in order to do what an adult told them to do. But Heather Wilhelm had a different reaction arguing that many people seemed to be surprised that the boys would refuse to hit the girl because so many people just assume that young boys are just a step away from beating up on any girl they encounter.
The video is, at the very least, indisputably weird. But the worst part of “Slap Her,” despite the cries of feminists, has nothing to do with Martina, her treatment, or her rather clueless video directors. It’s the widespread and growing idea, reflected throughout our culture, that the Y chromosome, paired with toxic and constricting societal “gender roles”—as opposed to, say, flawed human nature—is the central driver behind domestic violence and various other evils in the world.

Let’s step back for a moment. How strange is it, really, that millions upon millions of people would be “charmed” and “touched” and have their “hearts melted” by the fact that several young boys would refuse to hit a girl? Has our collective cultural opinion of the male species really sunk so low?

If you’ve been paying attention to modern politics—and particularly modern feminism—you know the answer. It’s sad, really. It’s also somewhat ironic: For a group widely painted as privileged oppressors, men, on the reputational front and otherwise, are increasingly getting the short end of the stick.

The world isn't tweeting about them, but Boko Haram keeps on capturing territory, enslaving captives, and killing people.

Proof that the dump-Boehner movement wasn't about ideology, but strategy.

Charles Krauthammer makes a very cogent argument for raising the gas tax now, while gas prices are low, in order to allow the market to decrease consumption. This would be a more efficient way to achieve that goal than through excessive government regulation.

David Harsanyi exposes how progressives, when the Constitution doesn't help their case, simply argue that the Supreme Court should ignore it.
We’ve reached a point where liberals not only argue that empathy (well, selective empathy, as you might imagine) should play a leading role in legal decisions, but that the Court should avoiding disrupting any laws that are driven by progressive notions of compassion. You know, because of the “consequences.” And since progressives treat all their reforms as consecrated acts of charity, this would create a rather convenient legal environment for them.

But, of course, they don’t really want justices to use their own moral discretion. What if, for instance, a majority of justices believed that it was Obamacare that was the most disruptive force in the country today? What if they believed ridding America of the ACA would benefit most Americans? If the justices defused Obamacare, think of all the disrupting taxes and regulations they would be saving citizens from. What if justices reasoned that killing Obamacare was the most compassionate thing to do? Would the Left still argue that that they should worry about consequences – or would their position become “political”?

Incidentally, where were all these concerns about disruptions and consequences when a fleeting majority unilaterally stuffed a major reform down the throats of all Americans?

Jeffrey A. Jenkins and Charles Stewart III have a very interesting history at the Monkey Cage explaining how the rules for electing the Speaker of the House have evolved to minimize internal dissension withing a party during the floor vote by channeling the fight to the party conference that had already taken place. That explains why there hadn't been such dissension against a Speaker since the 1920s. Jonathan Bernstein then explains in Bloomberg why the revolt against Boehner was really a sign of Boehner's strength.
The votes against Boehner were symbolic claims of Tea Party kinship more than a real attempt to oust him. One probable indicator? The eventual group of dissenting votes increased after it turned out that Boehner was safer than expected because a delegation of Democrats missed the House vote to attend Mario Cuomo’s funeral.

What’s portrayed as a Boehner weakness (all those dissenting votes!) can just as easily be seen as his strength in a difficult situation. The problem for most House Republicans is that they face being labeled as squishes or Republicans in Name Only by the Tea Partyers and then run the risk of challenges in their primaries. The remedy, for many of them, is the chance to cast symbolic votes to prove they are True Conservatives (since the real remedy -- passing conservative legislation -- is unavailable with a Democrat in the White House, especially since any compromise to achieve their goals would only be another sign of disloyalty to The Cause).

As speaker, Boehner has enabled those symbolic votes. He didn’t come down hard on the dissenters in 2013, and (outside of the Rules Committee removals) he probably won't this time either, because he may not see them as a threat. Why not let them cast their dissenting votes, whether in the contest for speaker or in various legislative situations? Remember, Boehner was renominated by the full Republican conference back in November with no reported dissent at all.

Most House Republicans are happy with their leader – as long as they are allowed to deny being happy with him when it serves their interests.

And, on a lighter side, 27 teachers who had a bit of fun in their jobs.