Friday, June 23, 2017

Cruising the Web

When do progressives not care about women's rights - When the women suffering abuse, assault, and denial of human rights are Muslim. It always amazes me how progressives are more worried about seeming Islamophobic than they are about the suffering of women in Islamist societies. Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Asra Q. Nomani have a powerful column in the NYT about their experiences when they were invited to testify before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs about women and Islamism. Four female Democratic senators refused to ask either of them any questions at all. Not one single question. They were more interested in the perception that such a hearing shouldn't focus on one religion. These are women who profess to be so concerned about women's issues. So why wouldn't they care about sexism and misogyny within Islam?
[W]hat happened that day was emblematic of a deeply troubling trend among progressives when it comes to confronting the brutal reality of Islamist extremism and what it means for women in many Muslim communities here at home and around the world. When it comes to the pay gap, abortion access and workplace discrimination, progressives have much to say. But we’re still waiting for a march against honor killings, child marriages, polygamy, sex slavery or female genital mutilation.

Sitting before the senators that day were two women of color: Ayaan is from Somalia; Asra is from India. Both of us were born into deeply conservative Muslim families. Ayaan is a survivor of female genital mutilation and forced marriage. Asra defied Shariah by having a baby while unmarried. And we have both been threatened with death by jihadists for things we have said and done. Ayaan cannot appear in public without armed guards.

In other words, when we speak about Islamist oppression, we bring personal experience to the table in addition to our scholarly expertise. Yet the feminist mantra so popular when it comes to victims of sexual assault — believe women first — isn’t extended to us. Neither is the notion that the personal is political. Our political conclusions are dismissed as personal; our personal experiences dismissed as political.

That’s because in the rubric of identity politics, our status as women of color is canceled out by our ideas, which are labeled “conservative” — as if opposition to violent jihad, sex slavery, genital mutilation or child marriage were a matter of left or right. This not only silences us, it also puts beyond the pale of liberalism a basic concern for human rights and the individual rights of women abused in the name of Islam.

There is a real discomfort among progressives on the left with calling out Islamic extremism. Partly they fear offending members of a “minority” religion and being labeled racist, bigoted or Islamophobic. There is also the idea, which has tremendous strength on the left, that non-Western women don’t need “saving” — and that the suggestion that they do is patronizing at best. After all, the thinking goes, if women in America still earn less than men for equivalent work, who are we to criticize other cultures?

This is extreme moral relativism disguised as cultural sensitivity. And it leads good people to make excuses for the inexcusable. The silence of the Democratic senators is a reflection of contemporary cultural pressures. Call it identity politics, moral relativism or political correctness — it is shortsighted, dangerous and, ultimately, a betrayal of liberal values.

The hard truth is that there are fundamental conflicts between universal human rights and the principle of Shariah, or Islamic law, which holds that a woman’s testimony is worth half that of a man’s; between freedom of religion and the Islamist idea that artists, writers, poets and bloggers should be subject to blasphemy laws; between secular governance and the Islamist goal of a caliphate; between United States law and Islamist promotion of polygamy, child marriage and marital rape; and between freedom of thought and the methods of indoctrination, or dawa, with which Islamists propagate their ideas.
That moral relativism and fear of being seen as Islamaphobic should cancel out any concern for women tells me that the supposed concern for women's rights and other human rights is just a political platitude for these female progressives. If they truly cared about the goals of feminism, they would be concerned about women women who suffer under Islamic rule.

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I don't know if it's any comfort to her, but James Freeman at the WSJ is defending her...somewhat. He argues that it isn't all her fault.
In a nutshell, the structural problem for the contemporary Democratic party is that its funding constituency in mostly urban areas on the coasts embraces Nancy Pelosi’s left-wing politics, but most voters don’t. Considering this situation, an increasingly vocal group of Democratic lawmakers now seem willing to risk fewer donations from Ms. Pelosi’s coastal check-writers in the hope of collecting more votes further inland....

Ms. Pelosi’s extremism won’t sell in many parts of the country. But if Democrats are thinking they’ve erred in not addressing voters’ top priorities, then the blame doesn’t just belong to the House minority leader. A broad swath of the Democratic caucus has been only too happy to spend months casting aspersions on the patriotism of President Trump without ever offering any “collusion” evidence.

Why have Democrats spent so little time addressing the concerns of average voters? The popular dinosaur who made this column famous once formulated the Taranto Principle, which held that favorable coverage by liberal journalists could actually harm Democrats by encouraging them to advocate media-friendly but politically-suicidal policies. Perhaps a related phenomenon has been at work in the Trump era, as many journalists reward pols who offer fact-free analysis about Russia rather than ideas to boost economic growth and create jobs. In this case it’s not that voters oppose the Russia investigation; they just don’t think it will solve their problems.

Fortunately for Republicans, Pelosi is vowing to stay on as Minority Leader. This line summarizes why Republicans are finding her one of their strongest assets.
During the news conference, Pelosi boasted about her effectiveness as a leader, even though Democrats lost their majority in 2010 under her watch and have never come close to winning it back.

“I am a master legislator,” Pelosi declared. “I am a strategic, politically astute leader. My leadership is recognized by many around the country. That is why I am able to attract the [financial] support that I do, which is essential to our election, I am sad to say.”

Pelosi also pointed out that she led Democrats to the majority in the first place back in 2006 after a dozen years out of power.
Yeah, but what master legislating has she done recently? Reportedly, some Democratic House members are meeting to try to figure out how to ease her out of leadership. They better first figure out who their candidate to oust her will be. I don't imagine that there are Democrats out there chanting, "Steny, Steny, Steny!"

In the wake of the George special election, Bret Stephens also identifies a long-term problem for the Democrats.
Whatever else might be said about the race, Democrats didn’t lose for lack of political talent, campaign financing and organization or enthusiasm among their base. They lost because of their brand.

What is that? Democrats may think the brand is all about diversity, inclusion and fairness. But for millions of Americans, the brand is also about contempt — intellectual contempt of the kind Nimzowitsch exuded for his opponent (the grandmaster Fritz Sämisch, who, in fairness, was no slouch); moral contempt of the sort Hillary Clinton felt for Trump (never more evident than last year when Hillary Clinton wondered, “Why aren’t I fifty points ahead?”).

That contempt may be justified. But in politics, contempt had better not be visible. Voters notice.

That seems to have been what happened in the Sixth District the moment Democrats decided to turn the race into a referendum on Trump. “Republicans saw Ossoff’s campaign omnipresence as a political siege and call for resistance,” notes Billy Michael Honor, a Presbyterian minister and resident of the district and self-described progressive, in an astute column at The Huffington Post. “The end result being the Republican base outperforming an energized Democratic Party voter turnout campaign.”

Whatever their misgivings about Trump, those Republicans weren’t about to give Nancy Pelosi the satisfaction of a national victory. Contemporary liberalism now expresses itself chiefly in the language of self-affirmation and moral censure: of being the party of the higher-minded; of affixing the suffix “phobe” to millions of people who don’t appreciate being described as bigots.

It’s intolerable. It’s why so many well-educated Republicans who find nothing to admire in the president’s dyspeptic boorishness find even less to like in his opponents’ snickering censoriousness. It’s why a political strategy by Democrats that seeks to turn every local race into a referendum on Trump is likely to fail.

Alan Dershowitz warns against using the standard that his liberal colleagues are advocating using to charge Donald Trump with obstruction of justice - corrupt intent. Do they want to risk establishing the precedent that obstruction is in the eye of the beholder?
This is a dangerous argument that no civil libertarian should be pressing. Nor would they be pressing it if the shoe were on the other foot.

If Hillary Clinton had been elected and Republicans were investigating her for asking the attorney general to describe the investigation of her as a "matter" rather than a "case," my colleagues would be arguing against an expansive view of existing criminal statutes, as they did when Republicans were demanding that she be locked up for espionage. The same would be true if Bill Clinton or former Attorney General Loretta Lynch were being investigated for his visit to her when she was investigating his wife's misuse of email servers.

"Corrupt motive" is an extraordinarily vague and open-ended term that can be expanded or contracted at the whim of zealous or politically motivated prosecutors. It is bad enough when this accordion-like term is used in the context of economic corruption, but it is far worse, and more dangerous to liberty, when used in the context of political disagreements.

In commercial cases where corrupt intent may be an element, the act itself is generally not constitutionally protected. It often involves a gray area financial transaction. But in political cases, especially those not involving money, the act itself is constitutionally protected, and the motive, which is often mixed, is placed on trial. It becomes the sole criteria for turning a constitutionally authorized political act into a felony.

What constitutes a corrupt motive will often depend on the political bias of the accuser. For some Democrats, the motives of all Republicans are suspect. The same is true for some Republicans.

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So much for Trump's efforts to fix the economy one company at a time. That deal with Carrier that he bragged about earlier to keep the plant in Indians? Well, now a lot of those jobs are going to Mexico.
Carrier, the heating and air-conditioning manufacturer, is laying off more than 600 employees from its Indianapolis plant next month, the same plant Trump vowed to keep on American soil, per CNBC. Those manufacturing jobs will go to Mexico, where labor is significantly cheaper.

Why it matters: Trump heralded the November deal as proof he'd live up to his pledge to protect U.S. jobs. And this comes just one day after Ford reversed its promise and shifted jobs to China instead of Mexico.
You know, it's almost as if politicians shouldn't get involved in promising special deals to rent-seeking companies.

Mollie Hemingway is dumbfounded
by the FBI's report on the shooting of the GOP baseball players. THey're claiming that they don't think the gunman had any "concrete plan to inflict violence" against Republicans and that the attack appeared "spontaneous" and it wasn't clear that he was targeting Republicans. Hemingway summarizes what we know and the FBI acknowledges about James Hodgkinson. See if this sounds like a man who didn't have a plan to shoot Republican congressman while they were practicing for the House baseball game.
The FBI admits that Hodgkinson:

-vociferously raged against Republicans in online forums,
-had a piece of paper bearing the names of six members of Congress,
-was reported for doing target practice outside his home in recent months before moving to Alexandria
-had mapped out a trip to the DC area,
-took multiple photos of the baseball field he would later shoot up, three days after the New York Times mentioned that Republicans practiced baseball at an Alexandria baseball field with little security,
-lived out of his va-n at the YMCA directly next door to the baseball field he shot up,
-legally purchased a rifle in March 2003 and 9 mm handgun “in November 2016,”
-modified the rifle at some point to accept a detachable magazine and replaced the original stock with a folding stock,
-rented a storage facility to hide hundreds of rounds of ammunition and additional rifle components,
-asked “Is this the Republican or Democrat baseball team?” before firing on the Republicans,
-ran a Google search for information on the “2017 Republican Convention” hours before the shooting,
-and took photos at high-profile Washington locations, including the east front plaza of the U.S. Capitol and the Dirksen Senate Office.
Yet the FBI doesn't think that he had any particular target in mind. Just imagine if the victims had been Democrats.
the media’s big problem right now is that everyone in the country knows how they’d be covering the shooting if the parties were reversed. Can you imagine if a shooter had visited the office of Sen. Ted Cruz and corresponded with two Republican senators? Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) gave emails to investigators last week but it was treated mostly as local news.

With trust in institutions at historic lows, and the bureaucracy beset by fears of politicization, the FBI made a poor decision to gaslight Americans by claiming that the assassination attempt wasn’t premeditated terrorism but a spontaneous “anger management” problem.

....The FBI’s briefing appears so contrary to the facts as to be insulting. When a man with a history of hating Republicans cases a location, takes pictures, verifies the targets are Republicans before opening fire, has a list of Republican politicians in his pocket, and shoots and nearly kills Republicans, it’s hard to swallow the FBI’s contention that the shooting was “spontaneous” with “no target.” The agency should reconsider whether it wants to troll Americans about something this serious.

As Sean Davis points out
, The NYT had reported where the GOP practiced baseball in that Alexandria park. On April 15 Hodgkinson went to this otherwise ordinary park and took pictures of it. Yet the FBI don't believe that those pictures represented any sort of surveillance of an intended site for shooting GOP congressmen.

David French explains why the desire that so many leftists have to limit speech that they regard as hate speech.
here is no limiting principle. If “How does this speech make you feel?” is the core question, it incentivizes victim politics and overreaction. Robust debate triggers robust emotions, and robust debate on the most sensitive issues — issues like race, gender, and sexuality — trigger the most robust of responses.

Lest anyone wonder about the actual definition of “hate speech,” look to campus and liberal activist groups. At Evergreen State College in Washington, a progressive professor’s statement against racial separation and division was deemed so hateful that he couldn’t safely conduct classes on campus. Influential pressure groups such as the Southern Poverty Law Center label the Ku Klux Klan and other genuine racists “hate groups” but also apply the same label to mainstream Christian conservative organizations such as the Family Research Council. The SPLC has branded respected American Enterprise Institute scholar Charles Murray a “white nationalist.” Moreover, it’s far more forgiving of leftist extremism than of moderate speech that is conservative or libertarian.

As we start to hear all the dire predictions of what the Senate health care bill would mean, Guy Benson takes a trip down memory lane to remind us what Republicans and Democrats were saying at the time about Obamacare. Who had the better track record of predicting what would happen? Hmmmm.
Many Conservatives warned that Obamacare would increase rates and cost a lot more than $940 billion. They predicted that many people would not be able to keep their plans and doctors as promised, that adding millions of new people to a heavily-strained Medicaid program wasn't wise or sustainable, that Obamacare's exchanges weren't going to be ready for primetime, and that the law's co-ops were going to fall apart. For questioning the Democratic line, these since-vindicated critics and skeptics were routinely attacked as haters, liars, and even racists.
He then links to a lot of the predictions that Obamacare's defenders were making at the time about how premiums wouldn't rise but would actually decline. However, since Obamacare went into effect in 2013, in the 29 states using the federal exchanges have increased 105%. So keep all these accusations in mind during the debates over the next weeks.
Every single one of the people and entities above are now frantically admonishing Americans about the parade of horribles that will befall them under Republican Obamacare alternatives.... itizens should bear these people's histories in mind as they assess the credibility of their latest pronouncements -- having been wildly, catastrophically, embarrassingly wrong in their faulty or deceitful cheerleading for Obamacare.
I don't hold any brief for either the House or Senate bill. But I do wish people would stop comparing them to some Platonic ideal repeal bill and look at what is politically possible to get through the Congress as it is now constituted.

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After watching the NBA draft last night, I was struck at how Jayson Tatum's mother, Brandy Cole, is the anti-Lavar Ball. As a single mother, she sacrificed all her life to provide for him and raise him to be a good person, working part-time and taking him to class as she studied to get through college and then get two other degrees including a law degree. She helped him achieve his dream. And now that she has, she is working with him, not to self-aggrandize and make a buck off her son's talent, but to help him found a charity to help other single moms. Of course, Lavar Ball gets all the media attention, but the real deal is Brandy Cole, a woman most people just heard of this week and probably won't hear from again except to see her cheering her son on.