Friday, February 23, 2018

Cruising the Web

The CNN townhall on Wednesday was an Orwellian display of Two Minute Hate. What struck me in watching clips of the townhall is how Jake Tapper, usually a rather neutral news host, just allow members of the meeting and the crowd to just say despicable things to Senator Rubio and the NRA spokeswoman, Dana Loesch without any of the sort of response to remind people of the importance of civility toward even those with whom they disagree. If the purpose was to encourage discussion leading to solutions, that purpose was defeated when one participant told Rubio that "it’s hard to look at you and not look down the barrel on an AR-15 and not look at Nikolas Cruz." If that is the mindset that someone who supports gun rights is the equivalent of a mass murderer, then we might as well give up now. Allahpundit comments,
If Rubio had pushed back, he’d be accused of “picking on the kids,” “compounding their grief,” et cetera. But no one else there is similarly constrained. Tapper could have said something in the name of keeping the event civil. Bill Nelson, who praised Rubio for showing up to face what everyone knew would be a hostile audience, didn’t say anything. On the contrary, Dana Loesch was heckled once or twice by the crowd with cries of “murderer” when she came out to speak.

So what I’m saying is, I think that town hall really advanced the debate. I’m sensing a lot of good vibes and common ground today. And I’m excited for the next town hall featuring abortion survivors confronting pro-choice Democrats, to be aired sometime between tonight and never....

However you feel about Rubio, though, digest this and don’t forget it: He wasn’t called a murderer because he holds outre, far out of the mainstream opinions about gun rights, he was called a murderer because he doesn’t. He believes in a constitutional right to own a weapon for self-defense. He doesn’t believe all semiautomatics should be banned. If that makes him a murderer it makes you a murderer too. That, in so many words, was the real point of this event, to wave the bloody shirt and indict all law-abiding gun-rights supporters as complicit in the attack in Parkland.

And it was by design. CNN knew what they were getting here. Conservatives who appear on the network should think hard going forward about patronizing an outfit that promotes this point of view.
Allahpundit also points to the way the crowd broke into chairs when Rubio said that a ban on "assault weapons" would lead to a ban on all semiautomatic weapons. Politicians try to pretend that they don't want to ban all guns, just have some "common sense restrictions."
I’m looking forward to our crusading anti-gun media asking red-state Democrats like Heidi Heitkamp and Joe Manchin and Jon Tester and Claire McCaskill and Joe Donnelly whether they agree. Do they love children, or are they murderers?
Yes, because that is the choice that we're being told that those who oppose gun control are making.

David Harsanyi adds
Whatever the case, these young people are about to be hit by a harsh reality, because banning semiautomatic rifles or handguns is not only impractical (there are probably over 5 million AR-15s in circulation alone; and semiautomatics constitute the majority of modern guns) and not only likely unconstitutional (the Supreme Court has found that weapons “in common use by law-abiding citizens” are protected) but, for many millions of Americans who worry about the Second Amendment, also highly undesirable.

Yet a star-studded line-up of liberals, many of whom are funding the activism of Parkland students with big checks, cheered with them. Do they all agree that every semiautomatic rifle in America should be banned? Do they agree that anyone who supports legal semiautomatic rifles has “blood on their hands?” Someone with access should ask.

What we do know is that the entire liberal political class couldn’t stop praising the activism and lack of “cynicism” displayed by these kids (a selective admiration reserved for those who coincidentally align with their positions.) The kids were indeed earnest, even if they were generally uneducated about gun laws, legal process, and the underpinning of the Second Amendment — which is to be expected. Those who use them as political shields, on the other hand, are cynical. Those who put them on TV to participate in a national Airing of Grievances are cynical. Those who point to bodies of victims and argue that every American who refuses to accept the Left’s framing of the issue are the ones that deserve contempt.

Charles C. W. Cooke thinks that the townhall actually "was a disaster for our discourse. We have to stop the characterization of people who disagree with gun control advocates are people who actually want to see children murdered at school.
A lot of Americans watched last night as a room full of people cheered for banning all semi-automatic weapons, and as a number of speakers cast their political opponents as murderers. What do we think the likely result of this will be? A newfound political harmony? Or a surge in NRA membership, a deepening of the culture war, an increase in gun sales, and a growing belief that “the other side” really does hate you? I daresay that lots of people who dislike firearms enjoyed watching Marco Rubio being berated. Indeed, if Twitter is any indication, they really, really did. But Marco Rubio’s views on this issue are not unpopular in Florida, and they are not unpopular in the country at large. I imagine that those cheering along with the castigations imagined that they were the person doing the berating. Millions, though, imagined they were Rubio. And they’ll proceed from there in future.
Haven't we had enough of depicting people who disagree with liberal policies are deplorables clinging to their guns and religion?

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As Ramesh Ponnuru reminds us, this was all typical for CNN and its efforts to enact gun control.
Watch the network, read its website or scroll through its Twitter feed, and the overall message will come through loud and clear: Assault weapons should be banned, Republicans should be put on the spot for their votes to the contrary, and anyone who disagrees is on the take from the National Rifle Association.

When the Florida House decided not to consider an assault-weapons ban, the CNN Twitter account ran a roll call of the Republicans who voted it down along with their NRA ratings. It ran no roll call of Democrats who voted to advance the bill, which would have been just as informative. Only a naif would miss the implicit message: These people belong in a hall of shame....

Alisyn Camerota asked two survivors of the Parkland shootings now calling for gun regulation if they knew they were up against the money of the NRA. (They did.) Fair enough -- except that no CNN anchor is going to mention Planned Parenthood’s political contributions in a segment about late-term abortion. And Camerota didn’t mention the millions of voters for whom the NRA speaks, voters from whom it gets that money in the first place.

Anchors also promoted gun control on their own Twitter feeds. Chris Cuomo retweeted a fake story about a 20-year-old who had allegedly bought an AR-15 in five minutes, and then angrily defended himself from critics when the account was exposed as untrue. When President Donald Trump brought up the idea of arming teachers as a defense against school shootings, Brian Stelter responded, “Music to the gun lobby’s ears?” He could have said, “This will please gun-rights supporters.” But he has never tweeted the phrase “gun rights.” He has never tweeted about the “gun-control lobby” either. He uses hostile terminology for one side of this debate.
These are the views of the folks at CNN. That's fine. They have the right to advance their views. But don't then try to protest that they are a neutral network.
But CNN presents itself as an institution that reports the news straight. That’s the point of its “This is an apple” ad campaign. The idea is that in an atmosphere of pervasive distrust and no shared agreement about what’s true, it’s more important than ever to trust reliable and neutral sources of information. The network is not marketing itself as an explicitly progressive media outlet, the way Mother Jones and the Nation do. It’s not even an all-but-explicitly partisan outlet like Fox, which dropped its “fair and balanced” slogan last year.

Since the Parkland killings, CNN’s coverage has been an effective refutation of the network ads that promise unbiased reporting. If it wonders why so many Americans don’t trust news organizations any more, here’s an answer: They know that many media institutions are on one side of many political issues, and won’t cop to it.

Reporting on political debates in a neutral manner when you have strong views on them is psychologically challenging. CNN’s apparent solution is not to try. This is not an apple.

It seems that, after a gruesome episode like the Parkland shooting, we start hearing all sorts of things that expose problems with what the government and school had done prior to the shooting. This is a disturbing report about the school security officer.
The armed school resource officer assigned to protect students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School took a defensive position outside the school and did not enter the building while the shooter was killing students and teachers inside with an AR-15 assault-style rifle, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said Thursday.

Israel said he suspended School Resource Deputy Scot Peterson on Thursday after seeing a video from the Parkland, Fla., school that showed Peterson outside the school building where the shooter was inside and attacking.

“What I saw was a deputy arrive at the west side of Building 12, take up a position, and never went in,” Israel said.

He said Peterson was armed, and was in uniform, and should have gone into the building during the 6-minute event, which left 17 people, most of them teenagers, dead. When asked what the deputy should have done, Israel said: “Went in and addressed the killer. Killed the killer.”

Peterson, 54, a resource officer at the school since 2009, resigned after Israel suspended him. Israel said two other officers have been placed on a restricted assignment pending an internal investigation relating the school shooting.

“They could have done more, they should have done more,” Israel said. “It’s a fluid investigation. They are on restrictive duty.”

Attempts to reach Peterson on Thursday were unsuccessful.

Israel said that Peterson was in an office dealing with a school-related issue when the first shots were fired on Feb. 14 and that he got on his radio and then moved toward the outside of the building where the shooting was taking place. When asked what he is seen doing on the video, Israel replied: “Nothing.”

“I think he took up a position where it looked like he could see the western-most entry into the building and stayed where he was,” Israel said. “Never went in.”
Well, I guess that is one limitation on the efficacy of having armed guards at schools. The guard has to actually try to engage the shooter. Seriously, how many mistakes did law enforcement make at the local and federal level make up and down the line? It is quite worrying. What mistakes are being made now that we might not find out about until much later when some future attack takes place?

Remember that Peter Wang, a 15-year-old Junior ROTC member died helping his classmates escape the shooter. He held the door open so his classmates could escape and was shot. The armed guard stayed outside the building. What a contrast.

Now it seems that the surveillance cameras at the school were on a 20-minute delay.
Parkland massacre gunman Nikolas Cruz was able to escape the Florida campus undetected because security guards were watching surveillance footage on a 20-minute delay.

The confusion caused police to believe that Cruz was still on school premises, even though he had already left and was on the way to Subway and McDonald's.

Police searched for the gunman for 26 minutes using security cameras before realizing he wasn't inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
What would be the point of having school surveillance cameras on a delay? Why wasn't this noticed even before the shooting. You'd think that it would be noticeable when the cameras didn't show kids in the halls during the breaks between class periods. If the cameras show hallways full of students 20 minutes into a class period, then someone should have noticed that that was wrong.

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Peter Hasson writes about the way that the media are deceiving the survivors of the Parkland shooting. They're misleading them about the possibilities of their chosen gun measure to get through Congress.
Anybody with a working knowledge of the political process knows a ban on semi-automatic weapons will never happen. I say weapons here because it’s not just about rifles. Dylan Roof used a pistol to slaughter several church goers. The reality is that semi-automatic weapons of any stripe could be used to commit such atrocities.

Due largely to impracticality, Congress isn’t going to ban semi-automatic rifles in America. Rubio voiced the idea as an example of a fairy tale. It will never happen. Full stop. Journalists on both sides of the aisle know it won’t. Or at least we should. And yet reporters indulged the fantasy anyway, playing up the exchange as a “win” for the students and a “loss” for Rubio, as if cheering fairy tales makes them more likely to come true.
The media continue the charade that the NRA's contributions are what convince politicians to support gun rights.
The truth is the NRA supports members who already support the Second Amendment, rather than the reverse. Further, the organization’s campaign donations make up a tiny drop in the bucket of political spending. The actual money carries nominal weight compared to the millions of NRA members who vote for politicians who represent their beliefs and values about the Second Amendment.

That roughly half the country supports these congressmen gets to the heart of the matter: the political process is fundamentally about compromise. If the gun control crowd wants to achieve substantive goals, they’re going to have to find points of compromise with those millions of NRA members — the same members they are, much to the glee of their fans in the media, smearing as child murderers. Has anybody bothered informing these kids of how the political process works?

We’re setting them up for further hurt and disappointment by giving them false hope of political goals that aren’t going to happen.
Another thing that the media are downplaying in the talk about a ban on assault weapons is that there was a vote in Congress to do that in 2013 after Sandy Hook. And even though the Democrats had a 55-45 majority at the time, the measure got only 40 votes. That means that there were plenty of Democrats who, in the words of the gun control media, chose guns over children. As John McCormack advises those in favor of gun control, if they want to succeed, they're going to have to go after Democrats also.
Sixteen Democrats, including several blue state Democrats like Michael Bennet of Colorado (whose state experienced a mass killing in Aurora in 2012), voted against it. Among the 16 Democrats against it, nine are still serving in the Senate...

With every GOP senator from Susan Collins to Ted Cruz opposed to a renewed assault weapons ban, it’s understandable that gun-control advocates would target Republicans for defeat. But until they go after pro-gun Democrats in primaries, particularly Democrats in blue states, it’s difficult to see some of the calls to enact the assault weapons ban as little more than partisan posturing. When Democrats had huge majorities in Congress from 2009 to 2011 and held the White House, they held zero votes on gun control. As a deliberate electoral strategy, many Democrats retreated on gun control from 2004 to 2012. Barack Obama, for example, said in 2008 that he never supported a handgun ban, despite the fact that his handwriting was on a 1996 questionnaire indicating that he did.

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Chuck Grassley gives some interesting history of how the SEnate Judiciary Committee has used blue slips in its past to refute the Democrats' charge that he's doing something that breaks with precedent by not allowing a single Democratic senator to blue-slip a judicial nominee.
The blue slip was not intended to give a single senator the power to veto the president’s nominees for political or ideological reasons. But in 1956, Sen. James Eastland, D-Miss., became chairman of the Judiciary Committee and decided to change tradition. He imposed a strict policy requiring both home-state senators to return positive blue slips before he would schedule a hearing for a nominee. Some scholars have maintained that Eastland, an unapologetic segregationist, adopted this policy to prevent judges sympathetic to school desegregation from sitting on the federal bench in the South.

Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., succeeded Eastland as chairman in 1979 and reverted to the original blue slip policy. Under Kennedy, a negative or unreturned blue slip would not necessarily prevent the nominee from receiving a hearing before the committee. Sens. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C., Joe Biden, D-Del., and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, continued this case-by-case approach as chairmen as well. Biden noted that nominees would receive hearings even without two positive blue slips, so long as the White House engaged in pre-nomination consultation with home-state senators.

It was not until 2001, when Sen. Pat Leahy, D-Vt., became chairman, that Eastland’s strict blue-slip policy was resurrected. This change allowed Democrats to block a lot of former President George W. Bush’s judicial nominees. But it was out of step with the blue slip’s history. Eastland and Leahy are the only two of my 18 predecessors to adopt such a policy.

My policy, which is based on the policies of the vast majority of my predecessors, is that the lack of two positive blue slips will not necessarily preclude a circuit-court nominee from receiving a hearing unless the White House failed to consult with home-state senators. I am unlikely, however, to hold hearings for district court nominees without two positive blue slips.
I'd never heard that segregationist history of blue slips. Cheers to Grassley for standing up to the Democrats' maneuvering to block Trump's nominees. It never made sense that a single senator could block a vote. And Grassley rightly ridicules the arguments the Democrats are putting forth as to why one senator can stop a vote on a nominee.
This controversy over the blue slip is the result of the Democrats’ own actions in 2013. That year, they changed Senate rules to end the 60-vote threshold required for lower court nominees. The Democrats justified their decision by arguing that 41 senators should not be allowed to block nominees with majority support. Now in the minority, those same senators have changed their tune. They now argue that one senator should singlehandedly be able to stall the process before the nominees are even considered in the committee.

Who knew this was a thing?
China has launched its latest crackdown against a phenomenon which just won't seem to die in rural areas - funeral strippers.

The Ministry of Culture said last month that it was targeting "striptease" and other "obscene, pornographic, and vulgar performances" at funerals, weddings and traditional Chinese New Year public gatherings....

Some communities in rural China reportedly believe that bigger attendances at funerals help to honour the dead and bring them good fortune.

But some experts say the erotic shows pay tribute to fertility.

"According to the interpretation of cultural anthropology, the fete is originated from the worship of reproduction," media professor Kuang Haiyan said, according to The Global Times. "Therefore the erotic performance at the funeral is just a cultural atavism."
I guess that's one way to get more people out for a funeral.