Thursday, January 05, 2017

Cruising the Web

It really is appalling to see some Republicans suddenly find a new love for Julian Assange. Sean Hannity, who clearly has few ideological principles, is happy to fawn over Assange and avoid any challenging questions. Sarah Palin is now tweeting out her apologies for ever saying anything bad about WikiLeaks. Trump, of course, is willing to believe Assange's assurances that Russia wasn't involved in the hackings because Trump, apparently, finds Assange more believable than American intelligence officials. Have they forgotten who Assange is? John McCormack reminds us.
But in 2010, Assange and WikiLeaks released a video that wrongly portayed U.S. soldiers in Iraq as murderers. As Bill Roggio wrote at THE WEEKLY STANDARD at the time: "Wikileaks, the website devoted to publishing classified documents on the Internet, made a splash today with a video claiming to show that the U.S. military 'murdered' a Reuters cameraman and other Iraqi 'civilians' in Baghdad on July 12, 2007. But a careful watching of the video shows that the U.S. helicopter gun crews that attacked a group of armed men in the then Mahdi Army stronghold of New Baghdad was anything but 'Collateral Murder,' as Wikileaks describes the incident."

The WikiLeaks video focuses on the deaths of two cameramen, whose cameras are mistaken for weapons by U.S. troops, but, as Roggio noted, "several of the men are clearly armed with assault rifles; one appears to have an RPG. Wikileaks purposely chooses not to identify them, but instead focuses on the Reuters cameraman. Why?" The most obvious answer is that the video was a work of dishonest propaganda intended to smear U.S. troops as murderers. Julian Assange is named "producer" and "creative director" in the video's credits.

So perhaps certain politicians and TV personalities shouldn't be so credulous of Assange's claim that Russia or anyone associated with Russia was not the source of hacked DNC and Clinton campaign emails.
McCormack revisits what Assange said in 2010.
Assange said that "WikiLeaks technology [was] designed from the very beginning to make sure that we never know the identities or names of people submitting us material."
But now Assange is willing to assert confidently that he knows that Russia wasn't responsible for the hacking of the Democrats. Funny how that changed.

Noah Rothman points out
that it used to be those on the left who admired people like Edward Snowden and Julian Assange. It was great when these guys were embarrassing the Bush administration even if they were endangering Americans. And Republicans were rightly appalled. But now that the leaks embarrassed the Democrats and distracted the Hillary Clinton campaign, hypocritical Republicans have suddenly found a lot to admire about Assange.
In 2010 and 2011, Assange’s organization released a cache of illegally-obtained secret documents revealing American methods, assets, and allies in the Afghan and Iraqi theaters. For this act of subversion, Assange was feted by individuals like The Nation’s Jeremy Scahill as the second coming of Daniel Ellsberg, of Pentagon Papers fame.

Wikileaks revealed names of Afghan individuals working with Americans. jeopardizing their safety, making American operations overseas more difficult, and ensuring those assets who might work with the United States in the future to think twice.Taliban members allegedly used the documents to rally insurgents and reportedly murdered a tribal elder who they claimed had been exposed in the document dump. Security experts, journalistic advocacy organizations, and American defense officials were horrified by the overt effort to imperil the safety of American informants.
And Trump is purporting to find Assange convincing and says that he has to wait for a briefing to decide whether he'll believe Assange or American intelligence. That is just baloney. Is that how he's going to interact with the intelligence community when he's president? Will he be taunting them on Twitter about missed intelligence?

And what will Sean Hannity and Sarah Palin say if (more likely, when) WikiLeaks puts up documents making the Trump administration look bad? Will Assange suddenly become a bad guy again? You know, you don't have these problems if you just hew to your principles and don't deviate for partisan purposes.

Jim Geraghty rightly criticizes
Republicans who are allowing Trump to get away with what we spent a lot of time criticizing Obama and Hillary Clinton for. Republicans used to excoriate Hillary for not holding a press conference. The RNC even had a clock pointing out how many days it had been since she held a press conference. Well, Trump hasn't had one since July 27. I hadn't realized that it had been that long. And now he says he's going to hold a conference on January 11.
At this upcoming press conference, Trump is expected to give an update on how his separation from his vast personal financial empire is progressing. On November 30, he tweeted, “legal documents are being crafted which take me completely out of business operations. The Presidency is a far more important task!”

Good. Republicans spent a lot of time in the past few years arguing that the vast financial donations to the Clinton Foundation from private donors and foreign countries represented a massive conflict of interest. We wanted to cross-check every massive donation against every decision Clinton had made as Secretary of State – and we found plenty of reasons to be suspicious.

But you haven’t heard many Republicans demanding a full separation of President Trump from the Trump businesses. You really haven’t heard any complaining about the Kuwaiti, Bahraini and Azerbaijan embassies booking events at Trump’s new Washington hotel, and that backdoor way of a foreign government putting money into Trump’s pocket. I guess Kuwaiti money is only bothersome when it ends up at the Clinton Foundation.

I guess he’s “our” guy now, so we’re just not going to make a fuss about that.

There must have been some memo I didn’t get, announcing that Republicans don’t care about press conferences, tax returns, payments from foreign governments, financial disclosure or Julian Assange leaking classified information anymore. Or some revision emphasizing that we only care about these things when Democrats are involved.
Both sides acts that way, but it is still disappointing. I don't expect so much from politicians

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Speaking of hypocrisy, the left has suddenly decided that businesses can now deny service to someone with whom they have ideological disagreements. It's quite a switch from deciding that business owners who claimed that it violated their religious beliefs to provide services for a gay wedding. Jordan Lorence, the senior counsel with the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) and who defended some of those businesses, notes how liberals suddenly think that it's perfectly fine to deny a customer services because of ideological differences.
Opponents of President-elect Trump are saying they can’t in good conscience do business that helps Trump and his supporters, because it would violate their deeply-held beliefs to do so. That’s how we’ve advocated for Elane Photography, Arlene’s Flowers, Hands On Originals, Brush and Nib Studio, and other cases, including the latest case for Telescope Media Group in Minnesota.
He points out that there are some Washington residents who were happy to rent their homes out through Airbnb when they thought that Clinton would be the one being sworn in on January 20. But now some are saying that they won't rent to anyone coming to DC to celebrate Trump's inauguration.
Perhaps they don’t know that they will violate the District of Columbia’s anti-discrimination law if they refuse to rent to Trump supporters. D.C. Code § 2-1402.21(1) makes it unlawful “to interrupt or terminate, or refuse or fail to initiate or conduct any transaction in real property… based on … political affiliation.” So maybe the ADF freedom-of-conscience cases have a point—like protecting the right of everyone to live according to their beliefs without suffering coercion or punishment from the government....

The ADF clients and their businesses serve all customers, regardless of their beliefs, race, or sexual behavior. What they object to is creating messages that conflict with their beliefs on marriage.

A Good Time To Reevaluate Freedom Of Conscience
So, Trump opponents, now might be a good time to re-examine your dismissive opposition to ADF cases protecting business owners’ right to operate according to their conscience. Here is the brutal reality that the framers of the Constitution understood: Government operates by coercion. Many times, we want the government to use its coercive power because it promotes ordered liberty for everyone. So when the police arrest drunk drivers, thieves, and other criminals, we all benefit.

But government can misuse its coercive power. That is why the framers of the Constitution gave us a Bill of Rights that includes a First Amendment to protect us from the government’s coercion when it involves our beliefs and expression. It is a laudable goal to eliminate discrimination, but that goal does not override or nullify the Constitution’s protection of a person’s right to speak or not to speak.

Therefore, don’t think about these freedom-of-conscience cases in terms of, “I would have taken the photos of the same-sex wedding, or baked the couple a cake, or arranged their flowers.” That isn’t the point. Instead, think of a politician—especially one you don’t favor—taking office with the power to enforce anti-discrimination laws that compel people (like you) to create and communicate viewpoints they deeply oppose. This is political reality: People you agree with are not always going to be in power. That is why we must defend the rights of everyone, including those we oppose, to express their ideas free of governmental punishment.

Because if the government can punish them, the government can punish you. If we take away their rights, then none of us are protected. The Constitution protects all of us, and that is why you should want Arlene’s Flowers, Masterpiece Cakeshop, Brush and Nib Studio, Telescope Media Group, and others like them to be able to conduct their businesses according to their beliefs.

Alexandra Hudson has a fascinating look at how Israel has overcome its lack of natural resources including water in order to achieve independence in both water and energy. And environmentalists could learn a lot from Israel's example.
Israel is located in one of the most water-scarce regions in the world. It is noteworthy, then, that this small country has become so resourceful with its water supply that it can both meet its own needs and have a water surplus. This has proven to be lucrative. Israel now markets their water-reuse technology and expertise to other countries, which has grown into a billion-dollar industry. It’s also a helpful bargaining chip to a country surrounded by belligerent nations.

Trading Water for Peace
Israel has invested heavily in mass water reclamation and desalinization initiatives. Israel recycles more water, proportional to its population, than any other country in the world. More than 80 percent of household water and sewage is reclaimed, treated, and reused for agricultural purposes, which makes Israel four times more efficient with water than any other country. Reclamation comprises 25 percent of Israel’s total water supplies and 86 percent of the water used in irrigation.

Desalinization is Israel’s other important water conservation initiative. Since 2005, the process of taking the salt and minerals from Mediterranean Sea water has come to generate 40 percent of Israel’s water supply.
All that in the midst of a terrible drought. And Israel's technological success has helped foster peaceful relations with Jordan who is a customer for the water that Israel produces and the desalinization technology that Israel has developed. Israel is also in the lead on solar power.

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Jay Cost recommends that the left gets a grip. In their fury over Trump's victory, some on the left have really slipped the surly bounds of reality.
Conservatives watching this spectacle are within their rights to enjoy themselves—just a little bit. But it would be wrong to linger on such petty indulgences. For the good of the country, the left needs to come to its senses. Progressives need to accept the results and move on.

That does not mean they have to submit to Trump and the GOP—far from it. Back in 2009, during the negotiations over the stimulus, President Obama dismissed Republican proposals by saying, "Elections have consequences, and at the end of the day, I won." He was technically correct, but he missed the bigger point of our system of government. All members of Congress who had been seated in January 2009, Republicans and Democrats, had also won their elections. They all had a right to fight for what they believed was the best course of action, and they all did so knowing that there was another election just 21 months away. This was as true in 2009 as it will be in 2017. Trump won—but his victory gives him the right to occupy the executive office for four years, nothing more. Liberals can and should oppose him, just as conservatives opposed Obama. Nothing is ever settled once and for all. The ideological battle endures, as well it should.

But this temper tantrum is counterproductive. The swing voters who decide national elections are too pragmatic to be swayed by such extravagant language about the demise of the republic. They don't want to hear about abolishing the Electoral College. They don't believe that every Trump nominee is a mortal threat to the general welfare. They certainly do not think Trump has an incentive to launch a terrorist attack upon the country. Insisting that Trump is "not my president" is a surefire way to alienate them.

Liberals, if they have any instinct for self-preservation, will need to accept the fact of Trump's election, calm themselves down, and get back to the issues. Trump won the presidency because a critical mass of voters in the industrial Midwest swung to him from Obama. The left needs to figure out how to win these voters back. To that end, they would do well to remember Aesop's "Boy Who Cried Wolf." If they continually harangue voters with jeremiads about how the end is nigh, then their cries of alarm will never be heeded, even if Trump actually does something dangerous....

Our democracy depends on robust party competition—where the combatants compete relentlessly for support on the issues that matter to the public. So, even as we quietly enjoy the collective freakout on the other side of the aisle, let us hope that it ends sooner rather than later.

Mollie Hemingway writes on a similar subject.
She has some advice for the left on how to come to terms with the idea of Trump as presidency based on her experience as a conservative who opposed Trump throughout the primaries and has had a jump on the left in coming to accept the reality of Trump. It's okay to be sad, but that doesn't mean that they can change the rules of the game after they've lost. So forget about Hillary's popular vote victory. Many Republicans, myself among them, found many ways to tell us that there was no way Trump could win the nomination or that he could be stopped before the nomination. Alas, it was all fantasy stuff. It would be a lot healthier to acknowledge that the Democrats had a faulty candidate. I liked Marco Rubio, but he wasn't the guy the GOP electorate wanted. I wish they had, but my wishes aren't what govern reality.

Hemingway also makes a good recommendation that a lot of conservatives have had to accept - we have had to recognize that not everyone shares our views. Democrats need to recognize the same thing.
My own political approach — limited government, free market, restrained foreign policy, strong religious and family institutions — is not shared by many. But being different is great training for moments like these. The re-election of President Obama was disorienting for me. How could people willingly choose to go for another four years with a guy whose executive branch overreach was so troubling? A guy whose domestic policy goals were disastrous? Yet the voters of this country did just that.

It was a good lesson that not everyone shares my views. It’s a lesson I keep learning regularly, and it keeps me humble. Also be aware that lack of diversity among your friend and family set is not necessarily healthy. Many Clinton voters have realized that and have begun seeking out alternative sources of news to help them understand new ways of looking at issues of the day. That’s a great approach.

Liz Spayd, the public editor at The New York Times, pointed out that many liberal readers of The New York Times were angry at how one-sided that paper’s news coverage had been in 2016. That bias had left many readers in the dark about issues and candidates and how people outside of a narrow ideological view think.

The media in particular but also the entire Left could use some humility and acknowledge that they do not know everything. Acting like you do just sets yourself up for embarrassments.
Read the rest of her column. She has some good advice.

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