Monday, June 19, 2017

Cruising the Web

So now some on the right have embraced the idea that, if some on the left are despicable, why not be despicable also? It is rather the attitude of young children whose defense when caught behaving poorly is to whine that the other kid started it. Sure, it's tasteless to stage a Shakespeare in the Park production of Julius Caesar as if it was the assassination of President Trump. And it's shameful when students shout down conservative speakers and don't let them speak. But that doesn't mean that the proper response is to try to shut down speech with which we disagree. But that is what happened this weekend at the Shakespeare in the Park production.
A right-wing protester disrupted the "Shakespeare in the Park" production of "Julius Caesar" in New York City that appears to depict the assassination of President Trump on Friday night.

A woman jumped on the stage during the assassination scene and shouted, "this is violence against Donald Trump" and "this is political violence against the Right." The demonstration was met with boos and jeers by the audience.

She was then escorted off the stage by security guards, during which Jack Posobiec, a right-wing activist and conspiracy theorist, filmed the scene and yelled, "You are all Goebbels. You are all Nazis like Joseph Goebbels. This is Goebbels. You are all Goebbels. You are inciting terrorists. The blood of Steve Scalise is on your hands."
No, they are not Goebbels. The left are not Nazis. And the blood of Representative Scalise is not on their hands. If conservatives don't want to be blamed when something violent happens, then they shouldn't employ the same empty arguments.

Ken White, who blogs as Popehat, has a nice post about this idiocy.
One angry justification for disrupting the play goes like this: liberals do this to conservatives, so this is fair play. We're just imposing liberals' rules on liberals. Liberals disrupt conservative speakers on campuses all the time, and if that's okay, why isn't this okay?

This way lies madness and destruction, the excuse to abandon everything we believe. We follow our principles because they're right, not because everyone agrees with them. We follow them in adversity and in the face of opposition and even injustice. We give due process — a jury trial — to a cop who shot a motorist even if a very good argument can be made that the cop executed the motorist without due process. We defend the free speech of Nazis and communists who would deny it to us if they had power. At one point, I would have been able to say that we don't torture people even if they torture.

The "eye for an eye" theory of respecting free speech is particularly pernicious because it represents the worst sort of collectivism, something the principled Right ought reject. Note that people who say "apply the Liberals' own rules to the Liberals" aren't disrupting, say, an Antifa rally or the meeting of some Berkeley student group that advocated shutting down a conservative speaker. They're disrupting other people entirely, on the theory that everyone they deem part of the nebulous collective "Liberal" deserves to be silenced because someone else in that nebulous collective engaged in silencing behavior.
He goes on to argue that the real threat to free speech and open dialogue comes not from the protesters, but those in authority such as the university administrators who have such limp responses to their behavior.
But we can, and should, do better. Commitment to free speech as an American value — as an element of American exceptionalism — has always required tolerating evil and injustice and idiocy. We don't refrain from disrupting speech because the speakers deserve it, or because we've been treated fairly by the speakers or their allies. We refrain from disruption — and ought to punish those who disrupt — because free speech is the necessary prerequisite of a society based on individual rights and freedoms. It's the right that's the gateway to all other rights. Shrugging and abandoning it as a value is an abandonment of our commitment to all rights.
Well said.

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Trump's policy on deporting Iraqis is so poorly thought out and on the cusp of doing real harm to those who have helped the U.S.
Nahidh Shaou could be deported any day now.

As a Christian and a veteran of the US military, being forcibly returned to Iraq—a homeland he hasn’t seen since he was five years old—could prove to be a death sentence.

Until April of this year, Iraq had not accepted deportees from the United States since 2010. That policy changed when one of President Donald Trump’s early executive orders included Iraq on a list of seven countries targeted with a temporary travel ban. As part of the deal to be removed from the list, Iraq agreed to begin taking deportees again.

More than 1,400 Iraqis in America are on the docket to be returned to their country of origin.

Escorted by law enforcement officers, the first of those Iraqis boarded a small plane in Louisiana in April, bound for Baghdad.

Shaou was supposed to be on that plane. But at the 11th hour, he was granted an emergency stay after his lawyer, Richard Kent, filed an appeal to defer Shaou’s removal.

With dozens of Iraqi Christians rounded up in Michigan just this past weekend, the situation remains dire.
Do we really want to send Christians to Iraq, one of the states with the worst records in the world for how they treat Christians? What a bizarre policy for Trump to have adopted. Is this really what he had in mind when he talked about extreme vetting? It was one thing when he talked about blocking people from coming here, but this is deporting people who have already been here, some of them for years and who face a very dangerous threat if they are to be deported back to Iraq.

The irony is just too rich when Democrats complain that the GOP are crafting a health care bill in secret. The WSJ writes,
The distortion du jour is that the GOP is operating “in secret.” This week Minority Leader Chuck Schumer accused Republicans of working “behind closed doors, writing a bill they won’t let the public read. . . . Today, no Member of Congress can read the bill because we don’t know what it is.”

Despite Mr. Schumer’s bewilderment, he still knew enough to assert that the Senate bill will “greatly hurt the American people.” Well, which is it? And if Republicans are trying to suppress a public debate about repealing and replacing Obama Care, then they haven’t prevailed, either now or across the presidential campaign. Health care has been central to U.S. political debate for nearly a decade as Democrats created a new entitlement with little public support.

Compared to that effort, the Senate this time has been a model of deliberative democracy. On Dec. 19, 2009, a Saturday, then Majority Leader Harry Reid tossed the 2,100-page bill the Senate had spent that fall debating and offered a new bill drafted in an invitation-only back room. Democrats didn’t even pretend to care what was in it while passing it in the dead of night on Dec. 24, amid a snowstorm, in the first Christmas Eve vote since 1895.

Liberals excused this legislative sausage-making as the price of making history, which was an insult to sausages. MIT economist and ObamaCare architect Jonathan Gruber told an academic audience in 2014 that “lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, you know, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical to getting the thing to pass.”

Mr. Gruber has since re-emerged to complain of the current debate that “I’m just worried about the speed they’re moving at for what that implies, because it implies no effort to actually get this right.” The professor had apologized for what he called his “inexcusable” remarks in 2014 but he’s betting he can con Americans again....

Mr. Schumer claimed Republicans have “solicited zero bipartisan support,” which is hilarious. Democrats opted for total pre-emptive resistance to the Trump Administration, and in January Mr. Schumer and Nancy Pelosi announced together that “we are a united caucus. We are two united caucuses. And we’re united in our opposition to these Republican attempts to make America sick again,” as he put it. House Republicans hadn’t even released a bill at that point and the ObamaCare exchanges were already in increasing distress, but Democrats refused to participate.

This is also a notable change from 2009-10, when Democrats froze out centrist Republicans who wanted to cut a bipartisan deal of the kind Orrin Hatch and Ted Kennedy had struck on the children’s health insurance program. The Obama White House preferred a far more liberal program that would complete the entitlement state. The GOP’s obligation now is to start to clean up that mess.

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You know that cabinet meeting that Trump held last week and during which we were told that the cabinet secretaries went around the table kissing up to Trump? I hadn't watch it and just read the descriptions. But Andrew Ferguson went and watched the actual video of the session and found it was not very much like the way the media was depicting it. They'd basically put their own spin on how the session started and then they all copied each other in their depiction. Probably few of them did as Ferguson did and watched the video themselves. They were all talking about the honor they felt it was to serve the country, not to serve Trump.
This small episode, this miniature, wholly unnecessary bit of dissembling or incompetence by the press, is a nice example of what Nicole Hemmer, a political scientist at the University of Virginia, has called “Trump Exceptionalism.” It is a disease that strikes journalists above all. In the eyes of the bright young things who work in the White House press corps, with their faulty educations and unearned world-weariness, everything Trump does must be nefarious, and if not nefarious, at least vulgar and unprecedented. It just has to be. So it is. Even when it’s not.
There is plenty with what Trump does, says, and tweets that can be criticized. It's not necessary to just make stuff up. And the media wonder why Trump supporters just don't buy the media's depiction of Trump. Such supporters have totally lost faith in the media so they tune all these reporters out. And that is not a healthy state of affairs.

The media don't help themselves by pretending that the man who shot at Republican congressmen, their aides and protectors was simply a product of our poisonous rhetoric or when they wonder, as the Washington Post did, what could have caused him to pick up a gun and try to kill Republicans. Others try to pin the blame on Trump. They want to ignore who this shooter was. This was a man who, in addition to being a Bernie Sanders supporter, had a target list of Republican congressmen in his pocket.
Hodgkinson's Facebook page showed that he belonged to the groups "Terminate the Republican Party" and "The Road to Hell is Paved with Republicans." One note on his Facebook said, "It's Time to Destroy Trump & Co."

But a bemused editorial in the Washington Post asked, "Who knows what mixture of madness and circumstance causes someone to pick up a gun and go on a rampage?"

The Washington Post then helped spread responsibility for the tragedy among everyone, saying that it should "cause a gut check about what passes for political discourse in this country."

Hodgkinson was a partisan Democrat. Before his shooting spree, he asked Reps. Ron DeSantis and Jeff Duncan as they left the field early whether it was Republicans or Democrats practicing.

But a willfully-clueless Scott Pelley of the CBS "Evening News" ended his Thursday night program decrying unspecified "leaders and political commentators who set an example" for having "led us into an abyss of violent rhetoric."

When an outspoken Democratic voter opens fire on a group of Republicans practicing baseball, the media blame everyone. Or just Trump.
So when someone unrelated to politics shoots at a Democratic congresswoman, that is the Republicans' fault. And when a Democrat shoots at Republicans, that is also the Republicans' fault.

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I guess Colin Kaepernick has given up getting signed by a team so he's decided to go full in with stupidity. He tweeted out images comparing the police to slave catchers and saying that the system "needs to be dismantled!" Really? Does he really think that the police are engaged in putting people in chains? Apparently, he was responding to the not guilty verdict for the policeman who shot Philandro Castile. As OUtkick the coverage writes, Kaepernick presumes that he knows more about how the case should have turned out than the jury that heard all the evidence and included two black jurors.
So if you’re upset with anyone in this case, it should be the jury, not the police officer or the state or city government. The police officer was charged with multiple crimes and prosecuted to the fullest extent the law allowed. The state of Minnesota could not have done more here. But a 12 person jury did not believe this police officer was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This happens all the the time in criminal court rooms — being guilty beyond a reasonable doubt is a very high standard to meet when a defendant has excellent legal representation.

Notwithstanding the fact that most people on social media hadn’t spent two weeks reviewing all evidence and scrutinizing all witnesses — why review evidence when you’ve seen a two minute video online? — social media erupted in outrage. And Colin Kaepernick helped fuel the fire of this outrage with his incendiary comparison of modern day police to 19th century slave catchers. That Tweet has since been favorited or retweeted by nearly 50,000 people, proving, yet again, that nuanced discourse and intelligent thought does not triumph over rash and inaccurate distributions of fake news on social media.

It is, of course, a totally inaccurate Internet meme to compare modern day police officers to slave catchers since most police in American history never had anything to do with slavery. And the vast, vast majority of police officers today are not racist. But, of course, that doesn’t matter, social media isn’t designed to handle nuance or distribute truth, it’s about taking extreme positions and provoking reactions.

The simple truth of the matter is this — no one protects more black lives than the police in this country. If you doubt me, look at the murder rates in cities were black lives matter protesters have been the most active. In just about all of these cities the murder rate has skyrocketed as police have stopped aggressive policing designed to save mostly black lives. Because who kills the vast majority of black people in these cities where black lives matter activists have been the most active? It’s not the police, 93% of the time it’s black people killing other black people. When minorities protest police the result is not black lives mattering more, it’s more black people killed by other black people. It’s black lives mattering less.
But why worry about the facts when you can stoke racial tensions with one ill-thought tweet? If he thought sitting out the national anthem was offensive to people, let him find out what the average person thinks of this comparison.