Monday, June 13, 2016

Cruising the Web

My heart goes out to the victims of the massacre in Orlando and the loved ones of those who have died and those who are waiting anxiously in hospitals over those who were injured.

I wish that those on both sides of our politics could wait a few days before they try to use such horrific events for their own political purposes. But that seems a vain hope in this day. Liberals want to talk about gun control and conservatives want to talk about defeating ISIS and the tools our own authorities need to root out home-grown terrorists. There seems a special speed with which ideologues are rushing to blame others than Omar Mateen.

John Podhoretz takes special exception to President Obama's efforts to somehow blame America's attitudes to gays.
America’s national attitude toward LGBT people didn’t shoot up the Pulse nightclub. This country’s national attitude has undergone a sea-change in the past 20 years, by the way, in case the president hasn’t noticed.

An Islamist terrorist waging war against the United States killed and injured 103 people on our soil. We Americans do not bear collective responsibility for this attack. Quite the opposite.

The attack on the Pulse nightclub was an attack on us all, no less than the World Trade Center attack.

To suggest we must look inward to explain this is not only unseemly but practically an act of conscious misdirection on the president’ s part to direct out attention away from Omar Mateen’s phone call.
As Daniel Payne writes, the attack in Orlando "is what actual homophobia looks like."

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Veronique de Rugy wonders if Congress will exempt itself from the rule that the Labor Department has recently issued that salaried workers earning between $23,660 and $47,476 must be paid overtime. Many congressmen are freaking out trying to figure out how they can afford such rates.
As Rep. Alcee Hasting (D-Fla.) a supporter of the rule, told Bloomberg recently, “We don’t have a set-hour kind of situation here; some kids work 12, 14, 16 hours a day, weekends.” But he adds, “I don’t see how we could pay overtime” for the “17 or 18 people that each of us is allowed to have—that’s problematic for me.”

Irony of all ironies, the feeling is shared by many Democrats who overwhelmingly support the proposed expansion of overtime pay—at least, perhaps, until they realize they may also have to live by it. As the Bloomberg Daily Labor Report notes, it leaves these vocal supporters of the rule in an awkward position of having to acknowledge that “I can’t afford to give raises to the kids” or that “it’s impractical to be paying overtime.”

The newspaper reports that “‘Democratic chiefs of staff are freaking out’ about finding room in their budget for overtime wages” and fear that an overtime mandate will result in having to send staffers home at 5 p.m.
Congress has a history of not adopting the regulations on overtime even though they're supposed to comply with laws and regulations that affect the rest of the country. But they are special.
This history indicates that Congress has already made an exception for itself by not adopting the 2004 overtime-pay rule update. That inaction raises the question of what Congress will do if the board recommends that both chambers adopt rules conforming to the DOL’s recent overtime-pay rule. Will Congress ignore it as it did with the 2004 update? Or will it adopt an equivalent 2015 standard while expanding its taxpayer supported budget? Neither of these options are available to the private-sector employers directly subject to the DOL overtime-pay rule. Also, neither of these options are good or fair for the American people. In the first case, we have to live by a costly rule while Congress — yet again — exempts itself from its burden. In the second case, taxpayers have to foot the bill of the expanded budget. Awful either way.

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Andrew Stuttaford
links to posts over at Spiked about the EU's effort to eliminate "hate speech" on the internet and the willingness of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Microsoft to go along with the EU. Nick Gillespie explains why this is so dangerous.
What the f*** is hate speech, exactly? Like another phony, malleable concept — obscenity — it is simply a political category that gives power to the powerful to pick and choose what lesser mortals are allowed to read, think, and discuss (in the US, obscenity law did keep Lady Chatterley’s Lover from being published for decades, so it did have that going for it). Beyond that, hate — like envy — is the planet’s greatest renewable energy source, motivating humans to live better, richer, freer lives (my grandparents didn’t leave Europe in the 1910s because they loved it). In the US, libel, which by definition is false, is already punishable by law. So are ‘fighting words’, and plots and actions to cause physical harm. Beyond that, let speech rip like Lear howling on the heath.
Wendy Kaminer expresses what I was thinking - we're sure lucky to have the First Amendment here in the United States.
Sometimes it’s good to be an American. Here mandatory civility crusaders are constrained by the First Amendment. Here a corporate media ban on ‘illegal hate speech’ would be meaningless since allegedly hateful speech is not illegal. Corporations, not bound by the Constitution, have the power to ban legal speech, but in an American court, hate speech is free speech. How could it not be? Hate speech is an imprecise, subjective concept. On campus, and in the larger culture, it can include ‘offensive’ jokes and unwelcome ideas. One person’s hate speech is often another person’s political opinion, however inelegantly or even viciously expressed. Claiming that bans on hate speech ‘ensure… free and democratic expression’ online, as campaigners for restraints on trolling now do, is a bit like characterising abortion bans as protective of reproductive choice.
I fear that we could not get the First Amendment ratified today. Poll results such as this 2013 result are truly distressing.
In a survey released today by the Newseum Institute, 34% of Americans say the First Amendment goes too far in the rights it guarantees, up from 13% in last year’s survey. This is the largest single-year increase in the history of the State of the First Amendment national survey.

It's funny to hear some people getting all exercised about Gawker and protecting the freedom of the press. Even under the First Amendment, there aren't protections for publishing a video of someone else's private sexual encounters. They seem especially horrified that Peter Thiel funded Hulk Hogan's lawsuit as if there is no longtime history of third parties funding lawsuits to achieve their end.David Harsanyi writes,
In a spasm of hypocrisy, many of the same people who don’t believe corporations deserve constitutional rights; who think allowing the state to ban political movies and books is a fine idea; who are constantly telling us how important the courts are in realizing a just society; who are in the pocket of the trial lawyer lobby; and who have achieved almost every major political victory through third-party-funded court battles (sometimes taxpayer-funded) now worry about slippery slopes because a libertarian has funded a successful lawsuit.

Take the illiberal New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, a proponent of censorship who is considering using racketeering charges against global warming skeptics. A government official who wants to punish people for thought crimes now has the temerity to talk about freedom of the press. Gawker, by the way, once favorably wrote about arresting climate change deniers. Unlike Michael Mann and Bill Nye and a bunch of AGs, there are those who believe political speech should be protected, and yet also that media organizations should not be immune from the law....

It’s worth once again pointing out that the trial was okayed by judge, the verdict was rendered by a jury, and the decision was upheld by a circuit judge. In no sense does this suit fall under the concept of “frivolous.” Yet liberal writers do not like the outcome mostly because Thiel is politically unacceptable to them and because they don’t like that he was driven by revenge.

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Shmuel Rosner, an editor at The Jewish Journal, writes in the NYT of the worries that Israel and its supporters have about the Democratic Party.
And what worries them most is the Democratic Party.

The change in tone and policy toward Israel began with President Obama’s decision early on to move away from a 16-year tradition of unwavering support of Israel, and continued with his rocky relationship with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But Bernie Sanders’s campaign seems to prove that Mr. Obama’s treatment of Israel might be a trend, not an aberration. Mr. Sanders’s young, liberal supporters say they sympathize relatively more with Palestinians and less with Israel than older, more moderate Democrats do.

Mr. Sanders’s explicit views are not the problem. He has said that he is “100 percent pro-Israel in the sense of Israel’s right to exist.” He has also said he wants peace and security for Israel. Like most Americans, he believes in a two-state solution. Like most Israelis, he opposes permanent Israeli control over Palestinians in the West Bank.

The real problem is the sentiment. In April, Mr. Sanders appointed as a director for Jewish outreach a young woman who had called Mr. Netanyahu a vulgar epithet and described him as “arrogant, deceptive, cynical, manipulative.” She was later suspended, but her appointment was not a fluke. The candidate consistently associates with people who feel the way she does. In May, he appointed two harsh critics of Israel — one of whom has accused Mr. Netanyahu of war crimes — to the committee that will write the Democratic Party’s platform.

Much like Mr. Obama when he ran for president in 2008, Mr. Sanders tries to distinguish support for Israel from his lack of support for the Israeli government. He treats Israel’s government as evil but sidesteps a fact: A majority of Israelis repeatedly voted for the parties that make up Mr. Netanyahu’s right-of-center coalitions, and back most of the policies to which Mr. Sanders objects. The right-wing government of Israel is also not a fluke.
It is time to acknowledge that, as Josh Hammer writes, we are facing the same enemy.
On Wednesday, two Palestinian terrorists shot up a popular mall in downtown Tel Aviv; the Sunni fundamentalist group Hamas, which is but the Palestinian branch of the broader Muslim Brotherhood, praised and celebrated the attack. Early this morning, a troubled young Islamist, Omar Mateen, killed 50 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, in what amounts to the bloodiest attack on U.S. soil since September 11, 2001; it appears the murderer had already pledged allegiance to the Salafist/Wahhabi fundamentalist group, Islamic State....

Here is the deal. What happened in Tel Aviv and what happened in Orlando is the same thing that happened in both the Paris Charlie Hebdo and Bataclan massacres. It is the same thing that happened in Belgium. It is the same thing that happened in San Bernardino. It is the same thing that happened at the Boston Marathon. It is the same thing that claimed roughly 1,000 Israeli civilian lives over the course of the Second Intifada. It is the same thing that happened in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001. It is the same thing that happened in 1998 at the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya. It is the same thing that happened at Argentina’s AMIA building, in 1994. It is the same thing that happened at the Beirut barracks, back in 1983.

The truth is simple. Whether it goes by the name of Islamic State, Al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab, or even the Muslim Brotherhood or the Palestine Liberation Organization—whether it is Sunni-, Shi’ite-, Salafist-, Wahhabi-, or otherwise-based—there is one global Islamic jihad that seeks the existential destruction of infidels. This goes for well-trained jihadist armies, such as Islamic State’s in Mosul, and it goes for “lone wolf” actors such as Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Omar Mateen.

Islamic State, which seeks to build a global caliphate and institute an ultra-reactionary unreformed sharia law, throws gay men off roofs. But the “moderate” U.S. military ally of Saudi Arabia, which is also governed by sharia law, makes homosexual sodomy a capital offense. Many on the Left who accuse Israel of “pink-washing,” naturally, are willfully naive about what Palestinians themselves think about homosexuality. The murderer in Orlando today was apparently recently upset at the sight of two men kissing. His father says his religion had nothing to do with it (I guess maybe the whole allegiance to Islamic State thing did, though?), but when was the last time an Orthodox Jew or an evangelical Christian who also views homosexual activity as immoral decided to go shoot up a gay nightclub?

The inability of those—almost exclusively on the Left—to identify and condemn the distinctly Islamic roots of radical Islamic terrorism is worse than an intellectual disservice. It is worse than a disingenuous distortion. It is an obstinate refusal to earnestly seek to extirpate the idiosyncratic progenitor of the consistently worst form of humanitarian travesties in the twenty-first century. The innocent civilians shot down in an Orlando nightclub early this morning by a psychopathic madman screaming “Allahu Akbar” are only the latest victims, but they will not be the last.
Sadly, in this long battle, we are faced with choosing between two candidates who both are not qualified to lead us in this long battle against global jihad.
It is probably too much to ask for us to entertain these important questions whilst the presidential race boils down to (1) a woman whose botched moralistic intervention in Libya created a jihadi safe haven, whose continual in-kind support for the genocidal mullahs in Tehran makes the U.S. one of the world’s de facto leading financiers of the jihad, and whose own cronyist family foundation accepted large donations from the Qatari government, which arguably directly funds more Sunni jihadi activity than does any other government; and (2) a catastrophically uninformed dimwit who bemoans the “false song of globalism” and who unfathomably aggrandizes an unspeakable tragedy to take credit for his own purported clairvoyance. But it is what we must strive for, nonetheless.

Jihadism delenda est.

There is more news about how classified information passed through Hillary Clinton's unsecured server. Now we know that there was a series of emails about drone strikes in Pakistan.
The 2011 and 2012 emails were sent via the “low side’’—government slang for a computer system for unclassified matters—as part of a secret arrangement that gave the State Department more of a voice in whether a Central Intelligence Agency drone strike went ahead, according to congressional and law-enforcement officials briefed on the Federal Bureau of Investigation probe.

Some of the emails were then forwarded by Mrs. Clinton’s aides to her personal email account, which routed them to a server she kept at her home in suburban New York when she was secretary of state, the officials said. Investigators have raised concerns that Mrs. Clinton’s personal server was less secure than State Department systems.
Guy Benson comments,
Clinton knew that her emails involved discussions of Iranian nuclear negotiations, drone strikes in sensitive regions, and North Korea's nuclear weapons program, yet she asserted that nothing classified had ever passed through her unsecure, improper email system -- to which our enemies almost certainly had access.
It has also come out that, as Secretary of State, Hillary placed a major donor to the Clinton Foundation on the State Department's International Security Advisory Board.
It seems as if anything is up for sale if you give enough money to the Clinton Foundation, even positions on a national security intelligence board that has access to top-secret information. Meet Rajiv K. Fernando, a big donor to Clinton, Democrats, and the family foundation, was given a spot on the State Department’s International Security Advisory Board in 2011, even though he had zero experience in the field. He has since resigned from the board after ABC News launched an inquiry into his appointment. The first thing that they asked for from the State Department was his resume. Emails obtained by Citizens United after a 2-year Freedom of Information Act battle with the State Department showed that Clinton’s staffers were instructed to “stall” and “protect the name” of Mrs. Clinton from the news organization’s review of this appointment. One member told ABC, “We had no idea who he was.”

ABC News’ Brian Ross was threatened with arrest for merely asking Fernando about his appointment during the 2012 Democratic National Convention. He added that Clinton promised Foundation donors would not be given special treatment during her confirmation hearings to become secretary of state
Fernando is now raising money for Clinton's presidential campaign and is a superdelegate for Hillary at the Democratic convention. Ed Morrissey is amused at the information that has come out that State Department officials had no idea why he was placed on this advisory board except for the fact that Cheryl Mills insisted his name go through.
Why the ISAB, though? If Hillary wanted to give Fernando a sinecure, she could have gotten Fernando an ambassadorial appointment, which is the more common way of paying off campaign donors. Nuclear security usually gets more serious consideration, especially since it comes with a very high clearance level as part of the job.

While that’s a serious problem, the internal response to ABC’s initial probe five years ago was high comedy. No one could come up with an explanation for Fernando’s appointment, even after two days of trying. The best that the combined efforts of State’s legal and executive team could do was to hail Fernando’s “relative youth, enthusiasm, a business perspective, and expertise in cyber security,” a description that would apply to thousands if not millions of mid-level executives in the US.

As soon as they realized that the jig was up, Fernando resigned his post. For five years, this has all been left unexplained, and only a FOIA lawsuit from Citizens United has answered this mystery. Hillary sold access to the ISAB as a payback for political and Clinton Foundation donations. It’s just that simple.
For the Clintons, everything is up for sale...everything. Don't ever forget that.

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The Sun is also bemused by President Obama's claim about Hillary Clinton that he doesn't think that “there’s ever been someone so qualified to hold this office.” The visit some of the achievements that past presidents had accomplished before becoming president.
It would be too much to say that he [John Adams] invented the idea of separated powers, but he brought concept of separated powers into law as principal author of the Constitution of Massachusetts. He was minister to France, the Netherlands, and Britain, and vice president for eight years. He still holds the record for breaking ties in the Senate.

The presidential rankings clerk at the New York Sun suggests George H.W. Bush had an underappreciated set of qualifications when he got to the door of the White House. He’d been a war hero, a congressman, director of central intelligence, ambassador to China, permanent United States representations at the United Nations, chairman of the Republican National Committee, and Vice President of America (and president of its Senate). And a successful businessman.

Thos. Jefferson had the best set of qualifications for president, according to one Web site that has a ranking. By the time the Virginian got to the White House he’d been a burgess (in the first elected legislature in the New World), served as a member of congress, written the Declaration of Independence, done a tour as ambassador to France, been governor of Virginia, Secretary of State of America, and Vice President. Plus, too, he’d written the Act of Virginia for Religious Freedom. We mean, c’mon.
And what does Hillary have to put up against such résumés?

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One more reason that the choice of Brazil for the Olympics was such a terrible mistake.
Scientists have found dangerous drug-resistant "super bacteria" off beaches in Rio de Janeiro that will host Olympic swimming events and in a lagoon where rowing and canoe athletes will compete when the Games start on Aug. 5.

The findings from two unpublished academic studies seen by Reuters concern Rio's most popular spots for tourists and greatly increase the areas known to be infected by the microbes normally found only in hospitals.

They also heighten concerns that Rio's sewage-infested waterways are unsafe.

A study published in late 2014 had shown the presence of the super bacteria - classified by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as an urgent public health threat - off one of the beaches in Guanabara Bay, where sailing and wind-surfing events will be held during the Games.

The first of the two new studies, reviewed in September by scientists at the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy in San Diego, showed the presence of the microbes at five of Rio's showcase beaches, including the ocean-front Copacabana, where open-water and triathlon swimming will take place.

The other four were Ipanema, Leblon, Botafogo and Flamengo.

The super bacteria can cause hard-to-treat urinary, gastrointestinal, pulmonary and bloodstream infections, along with meningitis. The CDC says studies show that these bacteria contribute to death in up to half of patients infected.
The Olympic Committee put a lot of faith in Brazil's promises to clean up its polluted waterways. They regularly allow the waste from hospitals and households to flow into storm drains and rivers which have then spread the super bacteria throughout the beaches in the city. Sadly, the situation has just gotten worse since Brazil won the bid.

538 has a fascinating story of how one man's will to leave millions to the family who had the most children after his death led to a race in some families in Canada during the Depression to have as many children as fast as they could so they could win the prize.