Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Cruising the Web

More than any political leader out there or talking head on TV, the guy who has made the most sense after the Dallas police shootings has been Dallas Chief of Police David Brown. He's just made the most sense in response to some of the stupid questions people have been asking. For example, a bunch of chin-pullers are wondering if there is some ethical problem about using a remote bomb to kill the sniper after he'd already killed several, was bragging that he'd killed more., while refusing to give up. Why should it make any difference how the police took him out? Would a police sniper taking him out from far away somehow be better ethically than a remote bomb? The only considerations should be: does this guy need to be taken out? Is this the best way? Will it endanger others? So Chief Brown has the right answer for these dumb questions.
“This wasn’t an ethical dilemma,” Brown told the press. “I’d do it again to save our officers’ lives.” When pressed again on the use of the robot, Brown emphasized the point. “I would use any tool necessary to save our officers’ lives,” he replied, “and I’m not ashamed to say it.”
And his advice to those upset about the situations in their community shouldn't be to take to the street and protest, but to "become a part of the solution, serve your communities."
Dallas Police Chief David Brown on Monday challenged protesters to do something about violence and police brutality by signing up to become a cop.

"Become a part of the solution," Brown, who has been with Dallas Police Department for 33 years, said during a Monday press conference. "We're hiring. Get off that protest line and put an application in. And we'll put you in your neighborhood, and we'll help you resolve some of the problems you're protesting about."

Despite last week's shooting, Brown said Monday that Dallas is still one of the safest large cities in the country. He also highlighted the community policing practice his department has used over the years. For example, in 2014, Dallas saw its fourth lowest murder rate since 1930, Brown said.

"This is the best department in the country, and I'm proud to be associated with the men and women of the Dallas Police Department. This tragedy will not discourage us from continuing the pace of urgency in changing and reforming policing in America," he said.
Imagine if all those people flocking to BLM protests followed his advice.

And his simple words so resonated after the attack when he said, “We don’t feel much support most days. Let’s not make today most days.” Such simple words, but right there he summed up what so many people are feeling.

No wonder some people are saying on Twitter that they wish Chief Brown would run for president. It's so wonderful to have someone in authority who says the right thing at the right time when everyone else seems to be saying or doing objectionable things. It reminds me of how the public took to General Russel Honore after Hurricane Katrina who chewed the media out for asking questions about assigning blame when he was trying to discuss evacuation procedures and he told the reporters, "Don't get stuck on stupid."

Sadly, President Obama is not demonstrating that sort of leadership. He insists on perpetrating myths about the police that are exacerbating racial tensions. The WSJ writes,
Instead, what people hear most of the time from groups like Black Lives Matter or Al Sharpton is inflammatory rhetoric that distorts reality and indiscriminately demonizes the police. Showing some awareness Thursday of this lopsided public perception, Mr. Obama said it is possible to express support for the police “while also saying there are problems across our criminal justice system.” Mr. Obama’s attempt at balance might have more resonance if once he said Black Lives Matter’s view of American justice is wrong.

Not least among the current distortions is the implication that the U.S. is in the grip of a new era of Jim Crow racialism. Not much noted over the last two, disturbing years, including by Mr. Obama, is that the U.S. court system has been dealing systematically with charges of violent bias brought by prosecutors against law officers. Nor has it been noted how racially integrated the participants are.

In Baltimore three of the six officers indicted for the death in custody of Freddie Gray were black. Since May two of those officers—one black, the other white—were acquitted in a bench trial before a circuit judge, who is black. After the Garner episode on Staten Island, a black man drove from Maryland to Brooklyn and shot NYPD officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu.

In suburban Minneapolis this week, the officer identified as shooting Philando Castile is named Jeronimo Yanez, who is apparently Hispanic. But here is Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton’s contribution to cooling the racial flames: “Would this have happened if the driver were white, if the passengers were white? I don’t think it would have.” That is a profile in political fox-holing.

Barack Obama came into the American Presidency as a self-declared unifier. As he departs eight years later, the country is polarized, politically and racially. This surely is not the legacy Mr. Obama intended.

White cops versus black people is a narrative that has reached the end of whatever use it may have had. It offers no exit for anyone. The moment has arrived for the country’s political leadership to say so clearly. The U.S. has been here before. It can get worse.

So many people are making comparisons to the violent riots that ripped through the country in the 1960s as communities erupted in protest against police violence and ended up burning down their cities. I was just thinking about President Obama's friends from Chicago, Bernardine Dohrn and William Ayers, leaders of the Weather Underground which had led many of those violent protests. They were prime suspects in a bomb that killed a policeman and where planning to set a bomb off at an Army dance at Fort Dix. Is it any wonder that a man that famously "paled around" with Ayers and Dohrn in Chicago would make moral equivalency in the tragic killing of a suspect by a policeman and the deliberate sniper shooting of policemen.

Noah Rothman examines
the manner in which Obama inserts himself into such moments of racial conflict.
“I think it’s very hard to untangle the motives of this shooter,” the president told reporters at a press conference. “By definition, if you shoot people who pose no threat to you, you have a troubled mind.”

If Obama was attempting to say that mass killers are definitionally disturbed and, therefore, we should disregard their stated motives, that’s a defensible proposition. But the president has not been consistent here. In fact, he has a conspicuous habit of thrusting his hands skyward in a shrug whenever bad actors commit atrocities that could cast a negative light on himself or his administration.

The Dallas gunman, Micah Xavier Johnson, wasn’t vague about what inspired his murderous rampage. “The suspect said he was upset at white people,” said Dallas chief of police David Brown. “The suspect stated he wanted to kill white people, especially white officers.” You don’t get much more cut and dried than that.
Obama also enunciates such uncertainty about motive when the murderers are Muslims with ties to terrorists.
When radical Islamic militants conduct attacks in the name of radical Islam, we are also often privy to obscene lectures about complex motives. “It is possible that this was terrorist-related, but we don’t know,” Obama told reporters after 14 people were killed by ISIS-pledged murderers in San Bernardino, “it’s also possible that this was workplace related.” Only three days later during a White House address did Obama concede that there was no “workplace related” motive in San Bernardino.

It was in that speech that he also confessed that an attack in Chattanooga was an ISIS-inspired assault on American uniformed military personnel. Previously, the FBI had insisted that it might never release information in regard to what led 24-year-old Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez to attack a Naval and Marine Reserve recruiting center.

This same bizarre self-censorship led the nation’s attorney general to call the slaughter of gay club-goers in Orlando an act of “hate” as opposed to a premeditated terrorist attack. But so as to “avoid re-victimizing” the survivors of this attack and the loved ones of those who perished, the Department of Justice released 911 transcripts censoring the words “the Islamic State” and its self-styled leader, “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.” All this approach accomplished was to insult the nation’s intelligence.
When the murderer is white and the victims are black, Obama demonstrates no such uncertainty about motive.

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Robert VerBruggen looks
at the statistics concerning blacks killed by police.
Let’s start with a fact everyone should be able to agree on: There is a disparity. Blacks are about 13 percent of the American population, yet according to data collected by the Washington Post in 2015 and 2016 thus far, they are about 27 percent of those killed by police.
But to just focus on that statistic without considering other statistics. Since police are allowed to kill when there is a threat to others or themselves, the question is whether or not blacks are more likely to pose such threats.
One possible comparison group is murderers: According to the FBI, about half are black. Another is cop-killers, i.e., those who demonstrably presented a lethal threat to police: Again according to the FBI, about 43 percent are black. Still another is violent criminals in general: Most of these commit relatively minor offenses (such as simple assault, where there is no weapon or serious injury), but according to victimization surveys, about 24 percent are black. In other words, violent-crime rates roughly explain the gap — indeed, they over-explain it in the case of murderers and cop-killers, who are far more likely to be black than police-shooting victims are.
Are blacks more likely to be shot when they're unarmed? The evidence doesn't seem to support that conclusion.
Roland Fryer — among the nation’s leading economists studying racial matters — dug deeply into data from the NYPD and other sources, finding no evidence of bias when it came to lethal force. In fact, blacks were slightly less likely to be killed, which Fryer called “the most surprising result I have found in my entire career.” Sendhil Mullainathan, another leading racial-bias researcher, has noted — similar to the analysis above — that the percentage of arrestees who are black, as well as the percentage of offenders reported to police who are black, roughly matches the percentage of police-shooting victims who are black.

Are there any goodies that Hillary Clinton won't promise in her bid for the presidency. Worried about motivating young people to come out for her in the numbers that they came out for Obama, Hillary is now promising them free tuition. She's proposing that families with incomes up to $185,000 would qualify for taxpayer-subsidized tuition. Sure, why not pile a new entitlement on top of the entitlements we already can't afford? It's all worth it if Hillary can win over a few votes. The WSJ writes,
The proposal continues Mrs. Clinton’s rejection of her husband’s New Democratic platform in favor of a cradle-to-grave entitlement state. She’s trying to fill the chronological and subsidy gaps that President Obama has left undone.

She has already proposed expanding Social Security benefits for retirees who took time off midcareer, adding pre-retirees as young as 50 to Medicare, and guaranteeing 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave. She also wants to sweeten ObamaCare subsidies with tax credits of $5,000 per family to cover copays and deductibles. Don’t forget universal pre-K. The goal is to make every American dependent on government—and the Democratic Party—from birth to death.
Of course, Clinton and the students excited about the proposal don't realize that this will just make college tuition costs go up. That would take an understanding of cause and effect and basic economics.
Consider what happened after the Obama Administration created supplemental Pell Grants that averaged $1,700. Between 2008 and 2010, spending on Pell Grants increased by nearly 120%. Tuition and fees jumped more in 2009 at nonprofits (5.9%) and public four-year colleges (9.5%) than in any year during the past decade. Mrs. Clinton’s tuition plan is another income transfer from the private economy to the academic class that overwhelmingly votes for Democrats....

The saddest part of this is that the millennial voters Mrs. Clinton is trying to bribe don’t seem to realize they’ll pay for free college for the rest of their lives. As debt and entitlements increase as the baby boomers retire, there aren’t enough millionaires to soak. The politicians will have to raise taxes, and probably severely, on millennials as they reach their peak earning years. Mrs. Clinton’s proposal amounts to a giant national student loan to be repaid with future taxes.
We're already doing that with other entitlements. Instead of facing up to the reality of the problems caused by and threatening entitlements, neither Clinton nor Trump keep promising that they won't change a thing. And now Clinton wants to add another huge entitlement. Didn't Obamacare teach anyone anything? I guess they're stuck on stupid.

Apparently, Mike Pence is high on Trump's VP list. Hearing this, my question is why would Pence, someone with a reasonably decent reputation, sign on the Trump train? Eliana Johnson explains why Pence might consider saying yes. He's up for reelection to the governorship of Indiana and, apparently, things haven't been looking like a sure thing for him. His reputation was hurt when he signed the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act and he never expected that. And he supposedly regards the opportunity to run with Trump as a "call to service." I just can't picture Pence answering interviews trying to explain whatever most recent idiotic thing Trump has said.

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Representative Corrine Brown was recently indicted by the feds for committing all sorts of fraud to steal money meant for an education charity. She has her own personal take on the context of her indictment.
Brown likened her situation to the recent police shooting deaths of two black men in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and St. Paul, Minnesota, and the deaths of five Dallas police officers during a protest march Thursday night.

“Last week was very rough,” Brown wrote. “Two black men were needlessly gunned down by police; five Dallas police officers were slain by a demented man; and on Friday I had to appear in federal court.”
People are dead and she got indicted for fraud. Yeah, I'm feeling the equivalency.

The Washington Examiner tells about three other people who showed extreme carelessness with classified information and, contrary to what James Comey said, suffered the legal consequences.

The LA Times has documents demonstrating on what Bill Clinton demanded for speaking engagements after he left the White House.
Clinton changed the rules of political speech-making for cash. He would push not just corporate hosts but also nonprofits and universities to pay fees well beyond what they were accustomed to. His aides would turn what had been a freewheeling format into tightly scripted events where every question from the audience was screened. He and Hillary Clinton would become so skilled at churning profits out of their lectures that they would net more than $150 million from speaking alone after he left the White House.
The documents are made public through an open-records request by the Republican National Committee about what Clinton demanded for some speeches in California.
They show a former president who deftly avoided discussing past scandals by refusing questions that were not screened by his staff in advance. There is the nearly $1,400 bill for a day’s worth of phone calls from San Francisco’s Fairmont Hotel and the $700 dinner for two. And they also show that an agency representing Clinton continued to pursue a deal with an event host who emailed a racist remark about audiences and jokingly referred to the male aides Clinton traveled with as his mistresses.
Of course, he required that his staff approve all questions ahead of time. This is the sort of question that his staff proposed the former president be asked.
“Is the world a better place now than when you entered politics, with a view to making a difference?”
And then there are all the extras that Bill demanded.
Clinton would demand in his contract to be shuttled by private jet from San Francisco to UC Davis, where he spoke at the Mondavi Center. The center had to appeal to its network of donors to find someone able to fly him the 70 miles, something it had never done and hasn’t since....

Fearful that their costs would get out of hand, the event organizers worked with the Fairmont to discreetly view the charges being rung up by Clinton and his entourage on each of the five days they stayed there. Assurances from the Harry Walker Agency that they were “reasonable expenses for a president traveling on the road for week” and that “we have never had a client complain” provided little comfort to the event hosts.

They ultimately got socked with the $1,400 hotel phone bill and $700 dinner for two.
Didn't he have a cell phone? Did he have to sock the the organization with his phone bill? And what did he eat for $700? Just wait until his bills are being paid by the taxpayers when he's in the White House as the First Dude.

Jonah Goldberg explains Hillary's email scandal. It wasn't that she was just incompetent in figuring out what was classified information. Goldberg hilariously goes through all the claims on Hillary's website, the "112 reasons (and counting!) Hillary Clinton should be our next president" to explain about how brilliant she is.
Of course, you have to wade through an enormous amount of pandering. Free tuition for these people, free health care for those. Look under your seats, everybody! You get a subsidy! And you get a subsidy! Everybody gets a subsidy!

What was it Mencken said about Truman? “If there had been any formidable body of cannibals in the country he would have promised to provide them with free missionaries, fattened at the taxpayers’ expense.”

...But even the pandering is part of her larger sales pitch. There’s just nothing she can’t accomplish because she’s “One Tough Mother” (That’s Reason No. 55). “She knows what’s going on in Laos” (No, really, that’s No. 69). “She’s a progressive—and she’s a progressive who gets things done” (That’s Reason 51).

And, here’s the kicker. Madeleine Albright, that’s right little people, Madeleine effin’ Albright, says, “I’ve never met anyone more prepared to be president.”
So she's absolutely brilliant, right? But she just can't handle email.
The head of the FBI seems to agree with me. When it comes to e-mail, particularly classified email, she’s like a 1980s grandma trying to set the blinking clock on her VCR.

Comey was asked, “A few minutes ago, you also stated that you now believe that Hillary Clinton is not nearly as sophisticated as people thought. Is that correct?”

He replied, “Yeah, I think that’s fair — actually, no, not as people thought, but as people would assume about somebody with that background. I’m sorry, I should be clear about this, technically sophisticated. I’m not opining on other kinds of sophistication.”

In other words, if witty badinage about Laotian current events is on your agenda, she’s still your lady. She can be counted on to MacGyver 3 Q-tips, some chewing- gum-wrapper tinfoil, and a dead D battery into a rudimentary nuclear generator. And, obviously, she’s remains a master of the five-point exploding heart technique. But, despite 30 years of government experience at the highest levels and a storied legal career, when it comes to e-mail and intelligence classifications, she might as well be a homeless lady pushing a cart full of cans while muttering about how the squirrels have no pants.
David Harsanyi is also not impressed with Comey's excuse-making for Hillary's supposed lack of sophistication in dealing with classified information.
Well, the now-famous 18 U.S.C. 793(f) states that if you mishandle classified information you can be fined or be thrown in prison or both. There is not yet an exemption for politicians with inhibited cognitive abilities, although perhaps such concessions should be made for future presidents. Still, gross negligence means extreme carelessness and nearly every answer Comey offered the House Oversight Committee regarding Clinton’s behavior would have sounded extreme and careless to a reasonable person sitting on a grand jury.

Hey, Director Comey, did Hillary Clinton’s unsanctioned email system, the one she attempted to conceal from the American people, make the United States more “vulnerable to hostile elements?”

Sure did!

Short of handing secrets over to a foreign agent, this is basically the most reckless thing a person could do with our secrets, but Hillary harbored no “evil intent,” Comey tells us. Good to know. And after giving the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee — which, by the way, is teeming with attorneys — a little lecture about mens rea, the FBI director was asked if Hillary knew she didn’t have any authority to put an unprotected server in her basement?

Comey: “Yes…”

Did Hillary give people she knew had no clearance access to classified information?

Comey: “Yes…”

Just an honest mistake, or 10. After the hearing, it was reported that the State Department would reopen the probe of how Clinton’s top aides handled classified information. Soon, God willing, we’ll find out which one of her handlers lied under oath to Congress.

You might be able to chalk this all up to carelessness if not for the lying. Yet Comey also informed us that the FBI had “no basis to conclude” Hillary was being untruthful. What did she say to convince him, exactly? Well, Comey acknowledged that he couldn’t recall exactly what she told her questioners during FBI interview because he wasn’t there. No recording or transcript of this conversation exists, so the American people will never be able to listen or read about it.

Byron York attempts to explain the stream-of-consciousness that is a Trump speech.
The first thing to remember is that Trump does not give a speech in the sense that veteran political strategists or reporters recognize and understand a speech. From the very beginning of his campaign, Trump has expressed contempt for the entire genre of political speechmaking.
He's above using teleprompters or a prepared speech. He doesn't want to bore his audiences.
Trump wanders all over the lot. In any given speech, he will talk about his businesses, his golf courses, his friends, his TV ratings, his children, all the Republicans he has defeated in primaries, the club championships he has won, and much, much more. (Trump used to talk incessantly about polls when he was leading the GOP race; now, not so much.) He will talk about anything that comes to mind. This goes on for 10, 20, 30, 45 minutes, and often more than an hour.

There's a lot of bragging in Trump's speeches. He can seem strangely needy, repeatedly asking the audience to affirm that he did a good job with this or that. But mostly he's telling voters how great he is, how everything he does and everything he possesses is the best, and how he will be a great, great president.
He'll start on one topic and then get diverted into some other topic while stopping to praise himself. Read the excerpt that York provides. It's mind-boggling how all over the place he is. It makes one wonder if his age is affecting his ability to focus on one topic.

He expresses a broad set of goals without giving any clue of how he'd achieve those goals. And then he diverts into some other cul-de-sac, but he counts any mention of a topic as his having covered it.

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I'm sad to see Tim Duncan retire, but has any other player out there demonstrated so much class and consistent talent? And the announcement that he was retiring coming from the Spurs without any statement from Duncan himself was typical TD understatement. Having Coach Pop give a press conference without Duncan even being there is so consistent with the man's modesty. It was never about him, but about the team. The contrast with Kobe's huge contract that hurt his team and his year-long retirement tour so that he could soak up the praise and presents is so telling.

ESPN repeats its story
from 2014 about the Timmy-Pop relationship.

The NBA channel reran game 5 from the 1999 championship, the first one that Duncan and David Robinson and Coach Pop won. It was great to see Duncan at the start of his career. I hope they rerun some more of the Spurs championship games.

Lorne Chan of Spurs.com
pays tribute to Duncan's "consistent greatness." What a journey! It will be so strange to watch the Spurs without him. I wonder if he'll take on some sort of coaching job with the Spurs now.

Or maybe he'll become a professional paint-baller. Apparently, he has mad paint-ball skills.

And this is truly fun. Even though Tim Duncan eschewed national marketing promotions, he and his Spurs teammates did participate in ads for a Texas supermarket chain. ESPN pays tribute to the best of those ads. They're really cute and look like the guys had fun doing them.

And here's the unlikely story of how Tim Duncan came to the notice of Wake Forest where he'd spend four years and graduate to become the #1 lottery pick. It all started because someone noticed that this 16-year-old kid was dominating Alonzo Mourning in an exhibition game in the Virgin Islands.