Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Cruising the Web

I hope everyone has a very happy Thanksgiving and enjoys time spent with family and friends. I've been covering the Industrial Revolution in my European History class and the students had read excerpts from the 1832 Sadler Commission on labor conditions in textile factories. It's very depressing stuff. I had them go around the room and each give something that they were thankful for after having read it. For example, not having to work 14 hours a day since the time they were six years old. By the time we were done, we all had a great appreciation for having been born where and when we were. It gave me a sense of proportion for when I'm feeling disgusted about our nation's most prominent people.

John Podhoretz laments the crazy times we're living in when partisans on both sides are excusing behavior they'd normally condemn simply because the perpetrator agrees with them on some issues. We're already seeing some on the left arguing that it would be wrong to chase Al Franken out of the Senate for behavior they dislike since he can stay there and vote for policies they do like. And we're hearing those on the right saying that it is worthwhile to vote Roy Moore into the Senate because of the way he'd vote on judges or taxes.
If you believe Franken is an example of toxic masculinity and that toxic masculinity is an evil that must be extirpated, there’s no intellectual or moral excuse for supporting his continued presence in American politics. Even the effort to make such an argument reveals the way in which the virus of naked partisanship has overcome you.

Similarly, if you believe America has rotted away morally, the idea you’d hand enormous political power to a morally rotted person like Roy Moore reveals your own spiritual and moral rot.

Note, please, that that isn’t happening with the showbiz and media scandals. The powers-that-be that cut Charlie Rose, Kevin Spacey and Louis C.K. loose may have claimed the moral high ground, but these were actually appropriately ruthless commercial decisions about protecting their “brands” from contamination.

But there are no powers-that-be in politics, or there aren’t any longer. The party bosses are gone. Their places have been taken in part by ideologues, who now seem to exist to make the tough moral calls that just seem always to go one way — the party’s way.

Roger L. Simon also is pondering the willingness of those on the left to forgive or ignore the sins of liberal men who have treated individual women in predatory fashion.
The answer may be simply this. Liberalism does not exist. Not in a real way, anyway. There's no there there anymore. Or not much of a there. All that is left is identity politics.

And the greatest identity group of all is, of course, women.

But since women are defined as a group -- not individual human beings subject to assaults from rape to groping -- they only have to be addressed as a group. All that need to be made are "fervent" proclamations in favor of women's rights. Then you -- Ted Kennedy, Charlie Rose, etc. -- can do what you wish privately. You are entitled.

In essence, liberalism is a charade. Only the surface counts. The reality is immaterial. You are what you say you are, not what you do. Even if that reality turns out to be the reverse of what you said it would be, or even causes a catastrophe, personal or political, it doesn't matter. You already said the "right thing." You're one of the good guys.
That may well be an explanation. But then what explains the similar predatory behavior of a Roger Ailes, Bill O'Reilly, or Donald Trump? They seemed to think that they were entitled also.


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Ben Shapiro is contemplatin
g why, in a supposedly egalitarian society, we are experiencing this blizzard of accusations against so many prominent men.
When it comes to sexual exploitation of women in particular, we treat our new aristocracy in the same way peasants treated the old aristocracy: with deference. In America, three things confer aristocratic status: fame, money and power. Hollywood, politics and journalism are built on all three. And elite status in each of those industries bought not just a bevy of opportunities for brutality but also a silent knowledge that the consequences would be slight for engaging in that brutality.

First, the opportunities. Just as certain peasants of old sought to curry favor with lords, too many Americans seek to curry favor with the powerful. That's the story of the Hollywood casting couch. It's the story of the famed journalist and his nighttime corner booth at the local pub. It's the story of the politician and his late-night office meetings. Does anyone think women were dying to meet Harvey Weinstein or Charlie Rose or Glenn Thrush? Each story we hear tells the same tale: Women thought the only way they could get ahead was to treat these men with complaisance. They thought that they couldn't turn down dinner invites. And if they were abused, they thought they had to keep their mouths shut.

In many cases, they did. That's because the public offered no consequences to the elite. Perhaps we blamed the victims and were unwilling to blame the accusers. Perhaps the darkest side of humanity revels in the pain inflicted by others. Whatever the case, the aristocrats knew, and they acted accordingly.
Since this has been true for decades, why the reversal today with prominent men being fired from their jobs almost as soon as a few allegations are made? I would bet that this is a temporary spasm and, at some point, we'll return to the status quo ante scandal. As long as we regard some people as our cultural and political idols, immoral men will take advantage of their sense of power and immunity to abuse and dominate those in weaker positions.

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The NY Post reports on a speech that John Kerry, as Secretary of State, gave in Dubai last December in which he blames the failure of there to be an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal is really Israel's fault. It is amazingly discouraging to think that this man was ever our chief diplomat and explains so much of the wrongheaded policies in the Middle East.
“The Palestinians have done an extraordinary job of remaining committed to nonviolence,” he said — ignoring that fact that the Palestinian Authority rewards terrorists (“martyrs”) and their survivors with cash stipends and has its schools teach Jew-hatred.

And Hamas, which rules Gaza and is now once again partnering with the PA’s Fatah leadership, doesn’t even pretend to believe in nonviolence: It’s dedicated to Israel’s destruction and to atrocities against Jews.

Kerry also complained that “the majority of the Cabinet currently in the Israeli government has publicly declared they are not ever for a Palestinian state.” Actually, most simply won’t support one as long as Palestinians refuse to accept Israel’s right to exist.

The secretary even managed to ignore his own experience: Kerry spent months wringing concessions out of Israel for a possible peace deal — only to have PA chief Mahmoud Abbas reject the draft out of hand, and refuse further negotiations.

Sadly, President Barack Obama fully shared Kerry’s “up is down” denial of reality. No wonder their leadership left the world in such a mess.

There is an astounding story out of Rutgers University as evidence has come out about the despicably postings from three Rutgers professors. The president is defending their freedom of speech to post repellent content.
Speaking in a town hall sponsored by the Rutgers student government on Thursday, President Robert Barchi noted ongoing media attention focused on Michael Chikindas, a microbiology professor who published multiple antisemitic, homophobic and misogynistic social media posts; Jasbir Puar, a women’s studies professor whose latest book accuses Israel of injuring Palestinians “in order to control them”; and Mazen Adi, an adjunct professor of international law who accused Israeli officials of trafficking children’s organs while serving as a spokesperson for the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
You have to read some of these posts to understand how deeply hateful and ugly they are. For example, here are some screen captures from Michael Chikindas's social media accounts ranting against Jews.

Rutgers' president proceeded to blame the controversy onthe newspaper, The Algemeiner, that uncovered what these men were writing and saying.
He went on to address the ongoing controversies surrounding Chikindas, Puar, and Adi, noting that “the one thing that is common to all of these is that they were all brought forward by The Algemeiner.”

Barchi called The Algemeiner — a newspaper in circulation for over 40 years — “a blog out of New York, which is the follow-on to what was a Yiddish-language newspaper that folded 10 years ago. They are the ones that have researched each one of these stories that have been picked up elsewhere.”

The Algemeiner’s print edition — which features English and Yiddish-language articles — has never gone out of business. Moreover, while The Algemeiner was the first to interview Chikindas, his postings were initially exposed by the Israellycool blog.
I'm not sure why the source of the allegations matters if they're not denying the content of their speech. Is a Jewish newspaper unable to expose antisemitism.

While I fully support freedom of speech, that doesn't mean that a public university has to hire people who are engaging in the sort of speech that would make anyone who is Jewish or a supporter of Israel fear getting fair treatment in his class.
Barchi acknowledged that Chikindas — who described Judaism as “the most racist religion in the world” — made “crude jokes about Israel, Judaism, women, homosexuality, a whole lot of things which most of us would find repugnant.”

“On the other hand, they are also things that are covered by his First Amendment right to free speech,” the president argued. “You may not like what the guy says, but you have to like the fact that he can say it.”

Barchi said that his administration confirmed “with the state’s attorney and with our legal scholars” that Chikindas’ postings are constitutionally protected, “so there’s nothing there that is actionable.”

He added that the university was investigating whether Chikindas’ postings “create an environment in his work that would compromise his ability to teach or do research.”

“That investigation is done independently, it will conclude shortly and we’ll decide what if anything we need to do from there,” Barchi explained. “But I can tell you that up until this point, his teaching record is actually very strong.”

Barchi also defended Puar’s academic freedom, calling her “a well-respected scholar.”

At a 2016 talk, Puar expressed support for “armed resistance in Palestine” and repeated allegations that the bodies of “young Palestinian men … were mined for organs for scientific research,” according to a transcript provided by the alumni group Fairness To Israel.

In a 2015 essay, she also wrote that “Palestinian trauma is overshadowed” because “Israel in particular and Jewish populations in general have thoroughly hijacked the discourse of trauma through exceptionalizing Holocaust victimization.”

Puar’s latest work — The Right to Maim — contends that the Israeli military rejects a shoot-to-kill policy not out of humanitarian concern, but a desire to keep “Palestinian populations as perpetually debilitated, and yet alive, in order to control them.”

The book, Barchi said, “was reviewed independently by scholars around the country. It was then accepted for publication by the Duke University Press, which is a very prominent scholarly press, and published. It’s a piece of scholarly work.”

“Once again, you may not like it, but it’s protected by academic freedom, absolutely, 100 percent,” he emphasized.

Barchi adopted a similar outlook when speaking of Adi, who joined Rutgers shortly after serving as a legal adviser and diplomat at the Syrian mission to the United Nations in New York between 2007 and 2014.

“Issues have been raised about the fact that he did, in the past, work for the [Syrian] government as a diplomat,” Barchi noted, adding that Adi’s history was “well-known to us and well-known to the people who employed him.”

Barchi said that Adi “changed his directions,” and “has not said or done anything in his academic life here that would be actionable.” He did not acknowledge reports by a former student of Adi’s who told The Algemeiner — on condition of anonymity — that Adi defended Palestinian terrorism in class as a legitimate form of “resistance” to Israeli “occupation.”

“We are faced with the difficult challenge to thread the needle on free speech and academic freedom,” Barchi observed. “I just ask you to keep in mind when you hear things and those things get picked up by another newspaper, there is very often a back-story to it.”

“Trace it back to where it’s coming from and ask why is it coming from there and what’s going on,” he claimed, “and you may often get a little different perspective on those happenings.”
I just wonder how protective of these men's freedom of speech Rutgers would be if they were writing racist rants.

Well, if they ever did lose their jobs at Rutgers, they could probably find work in whatever think tank or organization that John Kerry and his ilk have ended up working at.

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Well, this is certainly an alarming story.
Hackers stole the personal data of 57 million customers and drivers from Uber Technologies Inc., a massive breach that the company concealed for more than a year. This week, the ride-hailing firm ousted its chief security officer and one of his deputies for their roles in keeping the hack under wraps, which included a $100,000 payment to the attackers.

Compromised data from the October 2016 attack included names, email addresses and phone numbers of 50 million Uber riders around the world, the company told Bloomberg on Tuesday. The personal information of about 7 million drivers was accessed as well, including some 600,000 U.S. driver’s license numbers. No Social Security numbers, credit card information, trip location details or other data were taken, Uber said.

At the time of the incident, Uber was negotiating with U.S. regulators investigating separate claims of privacy violations. Uber now says it had a legal obligation to report the hack to regulators and to drivers whose license numbers were taken. Instead, the company paid hackers to delete the data and keep the breach quiet. Uber said it believes the information was never used but declined to disclose the identities of the attackers.
Yeah, do you believe Uber that no Social Security numbers or credit card information was involved? How much did the prior leadership of Uber let happen? I love the service, but they do seem to have been skirting all sorts of laws.
At the time of the incident, Uber was negotiating with U.S. regulators investigating separate claims of privacy violations. Uber now says it had a legal obligation to report the hack to regulators and to drivers whose license numbers were taken. Instead, the company paid hackers to delete the data and keep the breach quiet. Uber said it believes the information was never used but declined to disclose the identities of the attackers....

Kalanick, Uber’s co-founder and former CEO, learned of the hack in November 2016, a month after it took place, the company said. Uber had just settled a lawsuit with the New York attorney general over data security disclosures and was in the process of negotiating with the Federal Trade Commission over the handling of consumer data. Kalanick declined to comment on the hack.