Monday, June 20, 2016

Cruising the Web

I hope all my readers have a lovely Father's Day and all the fathers felt appreciated - at least for that one day out of the year.

I know LeBron had a Happy Father's Day. What a magnificent game and an impressive victgory. For once a game lived up to all its hype. I am so happy for Cleveland. The city has had a long run of bad luck and I worry about them hosting the GOP convention this year, but maybe this moment will carry them through on a high. There is something very endearing about how much it meant to LeBron to win one for Cleveland. These days, I don't know that there are that many people who feel such a tie to the community where they grew up. He really showed who was the true MVP this year.

And I'm happy for Kyrie who had a lot of bad luck with injuries at Duke and last year. He endeared himself to Duke fans by his cheerful support of his Duke teammates while he was out for so long that one year at Duke. A lot of people on social media were deriding Kyrie after the first two games of the season and he really showed them up in the past three games.

What irony in this result. The team with the best record in the history of the NBA just suffered the worst finals collapse in NBA history. Gosh, that must hurt. You really had to feel sorry for the players having to go in front of the reporters to answer inane questions about how badly they feel. That's really an unnecessary practice - is there ever anything worth knowing that we learn from those press conferences?

Poor David Blatt. He can get together with Mark Jackson and commiserate on how it feels to see their teams go on to win it all after they were canned. I always wonder how Jackson feels as he's always assigned to cover Golden State and has to comment on how wonderful and successful they are now that he isn't coaching them.

How odd to have back-to-back rookie coaches win the championship.

Now if the Cubs can only win it all this year, two of the worst bad-luck stories in all of sports will be put to rest.

I don't know how much blogging I'll be getting in this week, because I'm taking a workshop on Henry Clay. I'm really excited about this since he's always been one of the men in American History, outside of Lincoln and the Founders since I read this excellent biography of him by Robert Remini.

At our opening reception, the Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky, Jenean Hampton, came to speak to use. I think she is going to be a rising star in the GOP. Imagine this tall, black woman standing up in front of a crowd of teachers and starting off her talk by saying that she's glad we're here and focused on teaching using primary documents because she's a Tea Partier and has come to recognize how important it is for all Americans to read the words of the Founders. She said she first got interested by listening to Mark Levin talk about the Federalist Papers so she determined to slog through them. Well, teachers are not the crowd most receptive to a Republican talking about being a Tea Partier, but this crowd was knocked out and they were all talking about how inspirational she was. One teacher said that she was going to write Hampton's name in for president. She started off telling us about growing up in inner-city Detroit and just being determined that she could make something of herself and so she didn't mind other kids teasing her for working hard in school. She knew something was wrong when her Black History teacher (here she made a joke about how intensively the Detroit schools pushed black history) told the class that America still considered them as 3/5 of a person.

She then said that when she attended the funeral of Muhammad Ali, that a pastor gave a sermon saying the exact same thing about how, basically, America still regarded blacks as 3/5 citizens. That is why she was so happy that we, as teachers, teach the documents and she hopes we'll explain to our students about why the the 3/5 Clause was put into the Constitution and how the 14th Amendment canceled it out. She said that, as a member of the Air Force, she came to realize how lucky she was to be living at this time in the greatest country on Earth and hopes we'll impart that message to students.

I felt like I was seeing a future star of the Republican Party. Imagine that the first African American to hold statewide office in Kentucky is an African American Republican veteran of Desert Storm with a business background. Mark that name - Jenean Hampton. She'll be going places.

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Well, this certainly sounds like Hillary Clinton and the Democrats want to continue their manipulation of the media just as Obama used the media as his willing patsies to sell his terrible Iran deal. The New York Daily News reports on the hacked DNC documents that demonstrate how the DNC has been acting as if Hillary would be the nominee since a year ago. Just what Bernie has been claiming. And then there is this.
Another memo claims that they "will utilize reporters to drive a message" but do so "with no fingerprints" on the process so that the public believes the messages are coming from the reporters and not the campaign.
Isn't that cozy - just what Republicans have suspected happens in the media all the time as they drive home Democratic talking points.

The Examiner covers how Hillary's State Department sold security for donations.
In 2011, when she was serving as secretary of state, Clinton and her top staff chose a major donor with no qualifications for an important national security panel. Not only that, but they also hurried through a top-secret clearance for him.

According to emails released under a Freedom of Information request by the group Citizens United, State Department staff were pressured to fast-track the high security clearance for Rajiv Fernando, a 29-year-old securities trader who had given $5 million for the Clinton Foundation and has raised money for Clinton's current campaign.

After ABC News began investigating Fernando's appointment, emails show that State Department press staffers panicked amongst themselves, knowing that Fernando's name had been moved ahead of qualified security experts at the explicit request of Clinton's chief of staff, Cheryl Mills.
The Lincoln bedroom, top-security this point, what difference does it make?

Apparently, Trump is thinking of starting his own cable-television network.
Donald Trump is dissatisfied with the state of American media. So Donald Trump is going to do something about it. Citing anonymous sources, Vanity Fair reported earlier this week that the presumptive Republican nominee is considering starting his own cable-television network. Trump “has become irked by his ability to create revenue for other media organizations without being able to take a cut himself,” the story reads. “Such a situation ‘brings him to the conclusion that he has the business acumen and the ratings for his own network.’”
That's an excellent idea. He's just interested in getting his face on as many platforms as possible. What could be better than his own TV station. His followers can watch him there and the rest of us can safely ignore him. Go do that instead of getting involved in politics. It would be such a financial cut for him and he doesn't really want to be involved in all the minutiae involved in having to keep up with issues around the country and globe. I had thought that Trump originally got into the race simply as a PR move to help his brand. Alas, then he started taking off and got caught up with the possibility that he might actually win. He can hire away his slobbering acolyte, Sean Hannity, and start giving Fox News a run for its money. I just wish he weren't providing the opportunity for Hillary Clinton to become president while he achieves his media ambitions.

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David Kopel has a very interesting history of LGBT gun-rights efforts and how the gay community has been closely involved in fighting for gun rights.
In constitutional Second Amendment litigation, the modern era began with District of Columbia v. Heller....

A 25-year-old gay man named Tom G. Palmer was walking in San Jose one day with a male friend. They were accosted by “19 or 20” men. “They’ll never find your bodies,” the criminals said. Palmer drew his handgun, and the criminals fled. This was typical; about three-quarters of firearms deployments for self-defense end the crime immediately, without a shot being fired....

Today, Palmer is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. In February 2003, a young lawyer named Alan Gura filed the case that would become District of Columbia v. Heller, challenging the District’s handgun ban and its separate ban on using any firearm for home defense. Palmer was one of the six plaintiffs.
Kopel goes on to detail the history of gay activists who work for gun rights because of their experiences of being threatened and how one went on to found the Pink Pistols, a gun rights group for the gay community.

It is the potentially vulnerable who most need gun rights and those subject to bullying attacks like gays can appreciate how important such rights are to their community. I was in a seminar for teachers who cover the the Supreme Court in 2008. It was a week before the decision District of Columbia v. Heller would come down and they brought in a lawyer for the District of Columbia's side to talk to us. I asked the lawyer if he'd tailored his argument to appeal to Anthony Kennedy, thought to be the swing vote, and, if so, how he did that. He responded absolutely. In fact, their side's entire brief was targeted toward Kennedy. My thought was how skewed our system is that one man would hold that sort of power. The lawyer said they had researched Kennedy's decisions and felt that he liked to portray himself as the guardian of women and children so they had spent time in their brief and arguments to talk about how dangerous guns could be in family settings to children. But they could tell from the oral argument that Kennedy was concerned about women protecting themselves, just as the gays who submitted a brief in the case were worried about preserving their right to protect themselves. So they had pegged Kennedy's concerns correctly; he was just looking at the issue from a different perspective. In the uproar over gun rights after the Orlando shooting, we should remember the importance of gun rights to allow vulnerable citizens to have protection.

Here's another question for gay rights groups who support Hillary Clinton.
The Clinton Foundation has accepted millions from Middle Eastern and other foreign governments that criminalize homosexuality – but prominent gay rights groups in America have stayed silent on the apparent disconnect between Hillary Clinton’s rhetoric and the donations.

"Unquestionably, they're not standing up for their principles," said Human Rights Foundation President Thor Halvorssen.

The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee frequently talks about her support for the LGBT community, while ripping what she describes as discriminatory policies in the U.S.

"It's outrageous that, in 2015, you can still be fired for being gay," she told the Human Rights Campaign in an October 2015 speech. "You can still lose your home for being gay. You can even be denied a wedding cake for being gay."

But published reports and figures provided by the Clinton Foundation on its website show the group has accepted millions from countries that prosecute and imprison gay people – and worse.

Politico explores why the FBI failed to stop Omar Mateen despite having interviewed him three times. The problem the Bureau is facing is that they're regarding terrorism in the same way that they regard ordinary criminal investigations.
Lorenzo Vidino, director of the Program on Extremism at George Washington University’s Center for Cyber & Homeland Security, says it’s “in the FBI’s DNA” to pursue such criminal links to terrorist groups and build a case in the way law enforcement traditionally does, with questions like: Who did you meet with? Who did you talk to? Can you account for your actions for such-and-such period of time? “There’s an overemphasis on operational links,” he says. “It’s easier to put into a box—a paradigm the FBI is more used to.”

True, over the past few years the FBI has begun to alter its approach to this homegrown terrorism. According to John D. Cohen, who from 2009 to 2014 was counterterrorism coordinator at the Department of Homeland Security: “It’s different from only two or three years ago when the FBI followed a more traditional path of determining whether they were in danger of becoming terrorists—and they weren’t looking at more behavioral aspects, like their school record or evidence of a violent divorce, as they are now.”

But the changes don’t appear to be fast enough. What Mateen’s attack, and the FBI’s failure to track him, suggest is that the terror threat appears to be evolving more quickly than U.S. authorities can keep up with it. Al Qaeda was the prototype, luring young men to its training camps in Afghanistan and Yemen, enforcing rigid discipline and operational control. But in the age of the Islamic State and nonstop social media, the whole process of radicalization—especially for psychotic lone wolves—is very different from what it used to be for the Mohamed Attas and Khalid Sheikh Mohammeds of the world. And it is rarely related to what the FBI trained itself to look for.

Unlike Al Qaeda, ISIS operates on several dimensions at once. It’s got an army at home in Syria and Iraq, and around the world it features an evanescent, twilit army of quasi-recruits who behave somewhat like quantum terrorists; they are neither one thing nor another but both somehow, Americans with unblemished records one day, remorseless murderers the next. Or as Comey somewhat awkwardly described it, the FBI must not only find “needles in a nationwide haystack” but also figure out “which pieces of hay might someday become needles.”

The task is far harder than it used to be. It’s unreasonable—and perhaps undesirable—to expect that the FBI and counterterrorism officials should be tracking intent rather than action, in effect predicting possible future crimes like the psychics in the movie Minority Report. But their problem is that the main sign of radicalization is something that no longer happens in a training camp or a mosque or even “through the Internet”—as Comey claimed of Mateen. Instead it occurs “between the ears of the individual,” as another longtime critic of the agency, former FBI undercover agent Michael German, puts it.
It's discouraging to think that all the traditional ways of searching out potential terrorists, such as looking at their connections, just aren't working with Mateen or the murderers of San Bernardino. Authorities are working on adapting to this new model of terrorism here at home. Of course, there will always be those who complain that any sort of proactive investigation will look a lot like ethnic profiling, especially of Muslims. But authorities must persevere.
The FBI needs a whole new model of behavior to keep pace with this new threat. At the time when both Tsarnaev [the Boston Marathon murder] and Mateen were first interviewed, the bureau was still relying far more on its older approach of investigating concrete connections, and it was more willing to drop a suspect cold if there was no evidence of criminal behavior. That has begun to change. In the new era of terrorism, telling personal details like evidence of domestic violence or erratic and aggressive behavior (both of which came up in the case of Mateen, including his numerous visits to gun shops, one of which actually refused to sell to him, according to ABC News), are far more determinative.

Says Cohen: “Over the last two years the Behavioral Analysis unit [of the FBI] has started taking hard look at people exhibiting such behaviors, and what we found is they tend to share a series of common psychological characteristics, and they are easily influenced by or susceptible to social media campaigns of the kind that ISIS conducts.”

The Justice Department isn't going to release t
he complete transcripts of Omar Mateen's 911 calls so they can strip out his pledges of allegiance to ISIS. I can understand maybe not releasing the audio, but if they're going to release the transcripts, they shouldn't be censoring out any of it. Since victims hiding in the bathroom heard what he said, what's the point?

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Oh, the choice of Brazil for the Olympics is looking better all the time.
Just weeks before it stages the 2016 Olympic Games, the state government of Rio de Janeiro has declared a “state of public calamity in financial administration” and warned that the situation is so dire it impedes the locale’s ability to meet Games commitments.

The Olympics start Aug. 5 with Brazil already facing an impeachment trial of suspended President Dilma Rousseff, a public health crisis over the Zika epidemic and a deepening recession.

In an official decree published Friday afternoon by acting governor Francisco Dornelles, the state government said the crisis could cause a “total collapse in public security, health, education, transport and environmental management.”
How predictable was all this?

Whichever way the Brexit vote turns out, I predict lots more soul-searching among pollsters. Yougov is showing a swing back to Remain after a swing last week towards Leave. A new pollster using a mobile phone app is showing a steep drop in Remain among likely voters.