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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george boggs said...

Both Julian Assange, to some degree, and Edward Snowden, to great degree, did America a favor by revealing the truth. Let us never forget that every 9/11 terrorist was a Muslim immigrant, but to avoid "offending" the risibly-monikered Rilligin o' Peece, G W Bush and his Republican allies opted instead to surveil all Americans. This Orwellian deal with the devil was continued under Barack the Unready, for different, even more sinister, reasons.

On the matter of Israeli technology, I merely note that there are more living Nobelists in Israel, a tiny country, than Noble-winning Muslims, a religion of billions, in the history of the prize. Give the Israelis a pile of rocks, and they will turn it into a city. Give the Paleostinians a city, and they will turn it into a pile of rocks.

tfhr said...


We part company here. Snowden is a traitor. Assange is at least as full of himself as Snowden while being a tool of a lower order.

Collecting meta data is a far cry from the eavesdropping that some people think the NSA conducted. Think back and tell me if Snowden ever provided a text of an illegally acquired American conversation. He did, however, provide our enemies - Russian, Chinese, Iranian, North Korean, Jihadists, drug cartels, Cubans, etc., with intelligence and counter intelligence that would have cost them billions to reproduce on their own and we will be paying for for decades. The help Snowden gave to the Russians will help them counter our efforts to monitor their operations, treaty (non)compliance, and degrades our ability to conduct the ISR needed to provide indications and warnings for our defense at a time when the Russians, Chinese, Iranians and North Koreans are improving, expanding and fielding dramatic and new nuclear capabilities

Assange published materials that were helpful to Taliban operators to avoid their deserved ends and to deliver revenge upon those that were helpful to the US. Both Assange and Snowden should face trial and unless something extraordinary comes up, they should both be put to death.

george boggs said...

My view is the NSA, and GCHQ to an even greater degree (but that's a problem for the Brits, who seem fond of being surveilled by ubiquitous video cameras), is currently a rogue agency that needs a very short leash with a stout prong collar. The "data mining" algorithms they is are nothing more than sophisticated statistical pattern recognition algorithms. The danger of such algorithms is that they will, and do, find "patterns", but say nothing about whether a pattern is meaningful. It's part of the reason that so many innocent people are on some secret "terror list".

It's Orwellian, in my opinion violates probable cause, and should be shut down. I have no such qualms whatsoever about NSA operating outside American territory and noncitizens.

mardony said...

Diogenes weeps. The Page harmonically points us to a Mollie Hemingway (Heritage Foundation-funded) column that piously lectures us libruls on why we should accept the cold reality of the Trump presidency. Her paragraph headings include: "Let Trump Remind You Why Our Constitution Is So Great" and "Be Prepared to Like Something Trump Says or Does". Of course, this advice comes with the increasingly heard dodge from rightwing outlets that they hadn't supported Trump, but are patriotic (unless us libruls) enough to embrace him now. A quick web check of Hemingway's columns during the latter stages of the campaign reveals the truth: how did she not support Trump? by relentlessly trashing Hillary. Oh, the hypocrisy, even now as tinges of buyer remorse slithers into the rightocracy.

Today, Betsy's Page reminds us again (cf. Caesar's wife) of its historic non-support for Trump. Here's an example of that Trump non-support from Betsy's Page on Sept. 16.

"She's a despicable, power-hungry, lying human being who doesn't mind destroying those who get in her way." and

"And what they'd be getting is a woman who can't stop lying."

With characterizing Trump's opponent thusly, the Page implicitly encouraged us to vote Trump even if we knew he was a groping, scamming, and preening reptile (which the Page never, ever got around to saying).

Diogenes weeps.

george boggs said...

"Harmonically". :D

Diogenes is laughing his hind end off at your narcissistic puffery, Field Marshal Mardony. So am I. Keep up the good work, bro.

tfhr said...


If a non-US citizen subject to US surveillance comes to the US, we can no longer monitor that selector - read phone number - as part of a standard collection set. Seriously, g. boggs, the same regulations that prevent the NSA from listening to your phone prevents them from listening to a Jihadist phone that just walked across the border between the US and Canada.

What we can do with meta data is to see who calls or is called by a phone with a number associated with a known Jihadist or Islamist supporter. Think wire diagram with identifiable phone numbers. What Snowden did was to expose enough of our capabilities, ongoing operations, along with tactics, techniques, and procedures to significantly aid our enemies (of every sort). Yet you won't find that he ever provided any illegally collected conversations between Americans. Tell me that you've noticed this last point.

The idea that collecting meta data is a violation of privacy is laughable when you stop and consider what Amazon and Google collect and sell to businesses. Because Mardony bought another Michael Moore pin-up calendar for his home, Amazon will probably try to entice him to purchase the latest Barbra Streisand retirement album and a life-sized Ned Beatty marzipan replica. It's frightening to consider.

On the other hand, if Mardony used his cell phone to call Huma Abedin's mom, that link could be singled out for further investigation. It is not Orwellian to get a proper warrant to run down who is talking to whom but it is a waste of time to think that NSA or the FBI have the desire or capacity to try to acquire your grandma's pot roast recipe through nefarious means.

Still, I understand how this concern can linger in the minds of good people when we watch political operatives within the IRS attack political opponents in ways Richard Nixon could only dream of when he was creating his lists. As far as GCHQ is concerned - that's different rules for different countries as determined by their citizens or subjects but be glad any country will work with us at all now that we have shown how insider threats from Snowden and Manning have compromised our allies as well.

tfhr said...

Diogenes weeps. ~ Mardony

You sound like you have the vapors again. Seriously, you should probably start breathing into a paper bag.

george boggs said...

tfhr, I know what metadata is and how it works. I consulted with the ATT, the Baby Bells and GTE on voice and data network management modeling for two+ decades. Modeling and statistics were my bread and butter. Butter, mostly. :) Mmmmmm.

We Just disagree about the NSA. We do not disagree whatsoever about Google, Facebook, etc are doing. There are very few, if any, private organizations that have stooped to the level of Google and Facebook. I despise them both for many reasons, only some of which have anything to do with privacy.

tfhr said...


You know what meta data is but most people don't. Many people think the NSA wants to know what pictures they've taken on their cell phones. If you stop to consider that people have to form their opinions about NSA based on publications like The Guardian, The Intercept, or the NYT, then it is a small wonder that they come up with poorly informed opinions.

A healthy mistrust of government is just that - healthy. A distorted view of our intelligence agencies, the people in them, and the work they do is a central component of disinformation campaigns (the Russians have started calling that concept by a broader term, "information confrontation") run by our adversaries and has been forever.

While the US Intelligence Community is huge, few people actually know anyone that is a part of it and few know that a large segment of the IC is comprised of uniformed military service members. Most Americans, certainly those of a conservative nature, have a high degree of trust in the US armed services. Much of NSA's mission is performed on a daily basis by uniformed service members. If you can be specific about what you think needs to be reigned in about the NSA, I'd like to hear it.

As for Snowden in particular, I would just ask you to consider that Oliver Stone portrays him positively in his movie on this traitor and that should give you good reason to reconsider your view of the little sh*t.

Finally, butter is good - especially on popcorn - but there isn't enough popcorn or butter in the world to make it worth watching an Oliver Stone movie that has anything to do with history.

mark said...

"You know, you don't have these problems if you just hew to your principles and don't deviate for partisan purposes."

Great sentiment, Betsy. If only we all were to strive to put principles and honesty ahead of politics.

tfhr said...


Tell us about Hillary's principles and honesty, why don't you?

mardony said...

To the bottom half of the Siamese twin gerbil dyad: tell us about your principles and honesty.

tfhr said...


With all of your name calling, just exactly Who are you addressing?

And as along as we are asking questions all around, tell me, does Israel have the right to exist? You don't seem to have an answer for that.

mark said...

Are you claiming that the false accusations against Menendez (child-rape), Clinton (fascism), or Obama (wife-beating) have nothing to do with politics?

This site is devolving into an alt-right, fake-news site. "If you just hew to your principles and don't deviate for partisan purposes", that will stop.

or you can keep hiding being Hillary, Syrian refugees and John Murtha.

tfhr said...

Wait, what?

"or you can keep hiding being Hillary, Syrian refugees and John Murtha." ~ [ a very garbled] mark

Sorry mark, but you're coming in broken and stupid. Please say again all after "...that will stop."

mark, if I were a socialist like you, I wouldn't continue to defend a corrupt DNC and the rantings of the leftist in the so-called mainstream media. Circle your wagons around Bernie. Maybe he'll have you back again despite the fact that you abandoned your fellow forlorn socialist for Hillary's Crony Campaign after the DNC knifed him in the back to make way for the "Coronation".

You're sad, miserable, and alone (with your basket of despondents) and it's probably time for you to get out there and give 2017 a chance for something new. The closed company of your "circle", as you call it, is not helpful for you. Your self-proclaimed, post-election "soul-searching" came up empty. Try something new.

You could turnover a new leaf by engaging in civil debate. You might take a look at the exchange in this thread between george boggs and I over the Snowden / Assange thing. We clearly have different opinions on that matter and we've expressed them here. Give it a try. I'll take anti-Snowden / anti-Assange. You can tell me how you think they're peachy. We can do this with civility and have some fun. What do you think?

I know, I know, you're ripping your hair out over them because they chose to hurt national security while your guy was still in office - if they could've waited you'd put posters of them on your wall - but timing is a bitch. Still, we could have a debate on a point of current interest rather than going over and over about how Hillary was such a poor candidate, how miserably orchestrated her “campaign” was and how Hillary, her people, and her idiot followers made the Trump presidency a reality. Your call.

There is another course of action that you might want to consider and that would be to throw yourself into an eastern religion. There are a whole range of them out there. There are some that involve odd haircuts, or robes, or yoga pants. Pick what suits you. You could take the Cat Stevens route and put yourself that much closer to those Syrian refugee kids. I know you want them here in the worst way but given the arrival of Trump on the scene, I'm afraid that dream may be slipping through your fingers. Well as Francis Bacon said, "If the mountain won't come to Muhammad then Muhammad must go to the mountain." I know you don't have much of a sense of irony so I'll go ahead and underscore the name Bacon as it relates to that quote but also throw in this helpful tip: if the mountain is Sinjar, don’t go there.

If you do abandon your man-is-supreme socialist grounding, you still need to be careful because there are those out there that will flip that dynamic to build cults, Shoko Asahara or Al Gore, for instance. Whether you’re worshipping Gaia or Chizuo Matsumoto’s sweat, it requires you give into an orthodoxy that allows no contrary thoughts, so be ready.

Actually, I think you already have that going.

tfhr said...


I just posted my response to your dribble and THEN noticed that you posted at 0548! That's pretty early for you - are you getting enough sleep? Maybe you are asleep...and this is all a dream...yeah, that's it.

Get some sleep.

mark said...

So many words. So little substance.

Quality, trumpkins. Focus on quality, not quantity.

tfhr said...


I imagine smaller words, s p e l l e d m o r e s l o w l y would be helpful for you too.

I can mock you or have a debate with you, mark. How do you want to be slapped around today?

mark said...

Yes, Trumpkins, I'm sure in the alt-right fake universe in which you're a war-(super)hero/intelligence expert battling the evil libruls (who are all baby-killing, child-molesters), you score countless victories.

But in the real world?: Not so much.

tfhr said...


You sound like you're circling the drain. Ever so slowly, but inevitably flowing with your "circle" of despondents, toward that lowest point....

mark, I think maybe you need to find a friend - and not just someone to share your misery. Recent events have just become too much for you.