Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Cruising the Web

David French explains to the left why they have so much trouble winning the gun-control debate. They seem to refuse to understand why anyone would want to have guns in their homes and just assume that there must be some crazy or racist reason motivating that choice. He talks of the vituperation he and Bethany Mandel have received when they wrote essays explaining why they have guns. Mandel wrote an essay telling of how her mother protected her by grabbing her gun when she was five-years-old and an intruder tried to break into her bedroom.
Yet the responses to both essays have helped demonstrate why the Left keeps losing on guns. It simply can’t persuade a rational, reasonable adult who’s experienced a threat that they’re safer without effective means of self-defense. Indeed, the effort to make this case is so often rooted in condescension or ignorance that it’s deeply alienating.

First, there’s an odd argument that it’s somehow illegitimate to make a decision based on “fear.” Or — as one correspondent put it — “fear and paranoia.” This makes no sense. Americans make safety-based decisions all the time. Is it wrong to buckle a seatbelt because that’s a “fear-based” decision? Should you ride a motorcycle without a helmet just to show the world you’re not scared? Reasonable people take precautions in the face of real threats.

Next, you immediately hear that you’re foolish. That “you’re more likely to hurt yourself than defend yourself.” In other words, the gun is more dangerous to you and your family than it is to any given criminal. But if you’re speaking to a responsible, non-suicidal adult, then this argument is flat-out wrong. In fact, even when you include suicides in the analysis — and compare them to the best estimates of annual defensive gun use — you’ll find that law-abiding Americans use guns to defend themselves far more than they do to hurt themselves.

Moreover, another person’s irresponsibility is irrelevant to the existence of my fundamental liberties. I don’t surrender my free-speech rights because another person uses theirs to troll Twitter. I don’t surrender my right to free exercise of religion because another person joins a cult. I don’t surrender my inherent and unalienable right to self-defense because a man across town decides to kill himself.

Finally, if there’s a concession that in your circumstance it’s reasonable to own a gun, then critics will immediately tell you exactly what kind of gun you “need” for self-defense.

“Well, you don’t need a large-capacity magazine.”

“You don’t need an assault rifle.”

“Shotguns are best. You don’t need anything other than a pump-action 12 gauge.”

But these arguments fall apart the instant one considers the real world. If the most reasonably foreseeable threat is from a person with a semi-automatic handgun and a large-capacity magazine, then how is it possible that you “need” less? When the gun-control lobby tells gun-owners what they “need,” what they’re saying is that law-abiding citizens should be outgunned in their own homes.
Telling people that they're stupid and don't understand what their own priorities or abilities are is not the way to win over people.

Jake Tapper is doing
what others in the media have failed to do - calling out those on the left, particularly those in the Congressional Black Caucus, for their association with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. They're even refusing to condemn him for his many anti-Semitic and homophobic statements.
Tapper began the segment on Monday by playing a clip of Farrakhan's recet anti-semitic, homophobic speech in Chicago.

"Jews were responsible for all of this filth and degenerate behavior that Hollywood is putting out, turning men into women and women into men," Farrakhan said.

The CNN host noted that "despite the anti-semitism and homophobia inherent in that clip," several leaders of Women's March and members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) have refused to denounce Farrakhan, despite having previously voiced their support for him. Tapper specifically mentioned Rep. Danny Davis (D., Ill.), who told the Daily Caller earlier in February that Farrakhan is an "outstanding human being."

"I don't regard Louis Farrakhan as an aberration or anything; I regard him as an outstanding human being who commands a following of individuals who are learned and articulate. And he plays a big role in the lives of thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of people," Davis said at the time.

The Illinois Democrat doubled down on those comments over the weekend, saying he "knows" Farrakhan and the "world is so much bigger than Farrakhan and the Jewish question."

"I know Farrakhan, been knowing him for years and years and years and years and years, and every once in a while some writer or somebody will I guess try to think of something to say about Farrakhan, but nah, my world is so much bigger than any of that," Davis said. "I don’t have time for that. I deal with it, you know, when it comes but nah, that’s not a real part of my focus."

"That’s just one segment of what goes on in our world. The world is so much bigger than Farrakhan and the Jewish question and his position on that and so forth. For those heavy into it, that’s their thing, but it ain’t my thing," he added.

Tapper addressed the response to Farrakhan by asking why it is difficult to "condemn a rabid anti-semite."

"Why is it so tough for some people to condemn a rabid anti-semite who is also a misogynist and anti-LGBTQ?" Tapper asked.
Several leaders of the Women's March have also associated with Farrakhan.
A Women's March organizer who came under fire this week for attending a sermon by rabid anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan responded to criticism by tweeting a defense from a rapper who shared Farrakhan's bigoted views.

Tamika Mallory was called out by CNN's Jake Tapper after she attended Farrakhan's annual Saviours' Day address, during which the Nation of Islam leader attacked "that Satanic Jew," called Jews "the mother and father of apartheid," and declared that "when you want something in this world, the Jew holds the door."

One of Mallory's defenders was Bronx rapper and political activist Mysonne, who denied that Mallory was an anti-Semite. In appreciation, Mallory shared his tweet on Twitter and Instagram....

But in his defense of Mallory, Mysonne then made a series of comments agreeing with Farrakhan's view that Jews were uniquely to blame for the plight of black people.

"…farakhan[sic] has a view of Jews based on the pain and harm that he can prove they've inflicted on blacks for hundreds of years!" he tweeted to one user who compared him to David Duke, another anti-Semite....

"To disagree with farakhan[sic] is understandable," he tweeted to another user, "but to act as if the violence, pain, control and destruction that people he has evidence that are in fact Jewish have imposed on Blacks is not Realistic."

....When called out for his views, Mysonne claimed he was not an anti-Semite because some of his best friends were Jewish.
Does that defense work anymore? And shouldn't it be as notable that the guy Tamika Mallory is retweeting as a supporter is also an anti-Semite?

If Republican members of Congress and leaders in pro-Trump groups were hanging out with David Duke and defending him, do you think the media would be mostly silent? It would be the lead story and rightly so. When the Trump campaign and Trump himself have turned a blind eye to the white supremacists supporting him or coming out in Charlottesville, there was wide condemnation. But those on the left who have met with and praised as toxic a figure as Farrakhan seem to think that it's all perfectly okay. Remember this is a guy whose whole history is replete with anti-Semitism. As Cathy Young points out, he "has blamed Jews for the Sept. 11 attacks, apartheid, the slave trade and Hollywood degeneracy." Young contines pointing out all the progressives who don't mind all the anti-Semitic connections among some of the leaders of the Women's March.
The Women’s March leaders’ Farrakhan connections have been the subject of controversy. His anti-Semitic speech, replete with such observations as, “When you want something in this world, the Jew holds the door,” revived the issue.

Yet Mallory would not disavow Farrakhan. Instead, she made some self-exculpatory Twitter posts, affirming her abhorrence of anti-Semitism and anti-gay hate — which Farrakhan has preached — without ever mentioning Farrakhan or her reaction to the hateful speech she attended in person.

Many progressives (especially progressive Jews) expressed their dismay at Mallory’s stance. Yet no less dismaying was the rush of other progressives to express their support for her — among them Sarsour, fellow Women’s March co-chair Bob Bland, Black Lives Matter activist and writer Shaun King, and New York Civil Liberties Union executive director Donna Lieberman, who tweeted that she was “proud to stand with” Mallory and called her “a fearless fighter against racism.”

This cavalier attitude underscores something critics of the modern left-wing social justice movement have said for a while: Progressives who pay lip service to intersectionality — the interconnected dynamics of different kinds of oppression and bias — often turn a blind eye to anti-Semitism. In their worldview, Jews tend to be perceived as privileged, so bigotry against Jews is seen as punching up more than punching down.

Yet in Farrakhan’s case, his status as a supposed champion of the oppressed seems to mitigate other bigotries, too. His Chicago speech blamed Jews for encouraging people to become transgender. He has slammed women for being too lazy to cook for their families. Imagine the meltdown the Women’s March would have if someone from the Trump administration had made such a comment.

It’s not just the Women’s March that has a Farrakhan problem. Illinois Democratic Rep. Danny Davis has called the minister “an outstanding human being.” On Sunday, he confirmed his personal ties to Farrakhan in an interview with the conservative website The Daily Caller and remarked that, “The world is so much bigger than Farrakhan and the Jewish question.”

The Congressional Black Caucus also has refused to repudiate Farrakhan, with whom members of the caucus (including, we now know, Barack Obama) secretly met in 2005.

Progressives who denounce bigotry on the right need to start by cleaning house.

Jonathan Turley wonders if Andrew McCabe will get the same treatment Michael Flynn got for lying during an investigation. The rumors are that the DOJ's inspector general is going to release a report that will indicate why the FBI director asked deputy director Andrew McCabe to resign.
One aspect of the reported findings, however, stands out. According to these reports, investigators believed that McCabe misled them about his approval of a leak to the media on the Clinton investigation. An alleged false or misleading statement by McCabe could rekindle questions about how the Justice Department addresses alleged false statements within its own ranks.

Ultimately, Inspector General Michael Horowitz has the authority to refer a matter to criminal investigators investigators in cases of false statements or other crimes. He can also refer matters to state bars in cases of professional misconduct by lawyers. He could do either in the matter of McCabe if investigators conclude that McCabe intentionally misled them. However, if history is any guide, McCabe is unlikely to find himself facing a charge.

It is a perceived luxury enjoyed by federal prosecutors that routinely charge others with even borderline false statements but rarely face such charges themselves. While most prosecutors adhere to the highest ethical standards, a minority of Justice Department lawyers have been accused of false or misleading statements in federal cases. However, they are virtually never charged with false statements by their colleagues. There is no such reluctance in using this easily charged crime against targets outside of the department.

Consider the case of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. He now faces a prison stint after pleading guilty to a single false statement about a meeting with Russian diplomats during the Trump presidential transition period. While Flynn did not deny the meeting, which was entirely legal, he denied discussing sanctions with the Russians. Mueller charged him with lying or misleading federal investigators under 18 U.S.C. 1001. He did so even though investigators working under former FBI Director James Comey reportedly had concluded that Flynn did not intend to lie and should not be charged criminally for the omission.
Turley goes on to explain why Flynn shouldn't even have been charged with lying.
Most people assume that they have a right to deny wrongdoing. Indeed, there was once an “exculpatory no” doctrine that maintained that a person could deny a crime with an investigator and not be subject to a charge under laws like Section 1001. This was viewed as an extension of the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination.

The Justice Department litigated for years to deny the “exculpatory no” to average citizens. It finally succeeded in 1998 in Brogan v. United States when the late Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the majority that “we find nothing to support the ‘exculpatory no’ doctrine except the many Court of Appeals decisions that have embraced it.”

In the case of Flynn, he was not even denying a criminal allegation. There was nothing particularly uncommon, let alone unlawful, in an incoming national security adviser discussing the issue of sanctions that were the main areas of tension with the Russians. Flynn did not deny the meeting but did deny the subject of sanctions, as opposed to discussing better relations in the new administration. Nevertheless, he was charged and, reportedly after depleting his savings and putting his house up for sale, he pleaded guilty.
If Mueller is so determined to prosecute Trump officials for false statements, why should McCabe be an exception? Turley also wonders why James Comey, who has also denied leaking that he clearly did. Is there is a different standard for people who are in the DOJ than for others?
The issue ultimately should not be whether McCabe or Comey used an “exculpatory no” and should have been charged with a false statement. The issue is whether a different set of rules applies to the Justice Department than the one that it applies to the rest of us. In the end, Flynn cut a deal and will have to live with it. Moreover, prosecutors may have felt that they had provable crimes against Flynn or his son, Michael Flynn Jr., making the false statement charge merely a convenient charge for cooperation. (Flynn was dealing with some dubious characters linked to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.)

However, there should be a concern whether Section 1001 is a crime that is easily satisfied and arbitrarily enforced. That is a dangerous combination. The “exculpatory no” doctrine may have been ruled as unavailable to citizens but it appears very much alive inside of the Justice Department.

More evidence has come out
about the dishonest behavior of FBI officials looking into Hillary Clinton's server.
During the final months of the Clinton email investigation, FBI agent Peter Strzok was advised of an irregularity in the metadata of Hillary Clinton’s server that suggested a possible breach, but there was no significant follow up, according to two sources with knowledge of the matter.

Sources told Fox News that Strzok, who sent anti-Trump text messages that got him removed from the ongoing Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, was told about the metadata anomaly in 2016, but Strzok did not support a formal damage assessment.

One source said: “Nothing happened.”

....According to intelligence community directive 732, damage assessments are done “in response to unauthorized disclosure or compromise of classified national intelligence.”

Intelligence beyond top secret was identified on the Clinton server. As secretary of state, Clinton chose to use a private, non-secure server for government business.
It sure is nice when the investigators are determined to find nothing wrong with the person they're investigating.

Oh, this is just too priceless - Porn actress Stormy Daniels is suing Donald Trump over the non-disclosure agreement that his lawyer negotiated because Trump never signed the thing.
A new lawsuit filed by the porn star known as Stormy Daniels claims President Donald Trump never signed a hush agreement regarding an alleged sexual encounter between the two and therefore the agreement is void.

According to the legal complaint filed in California state court and tweeted out by her lawyer on Tuesday, Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, signed the document on behalf of the President instead....

"Despite Mr. Trump's failure to sign the Hush Agreement, Mr. Cohen proceeded to cause $130,000.00 to be wired to the trust account of Ms. Clifford's attorney. He did so even though there was no legal agreement and thus no written nondisclosure agreement whereby Ms. Clifford was restricted from disclosing the truth about Mr. Trump," the document states....

"To be clear, the attempts to intimidate Ms. Clifford into silence and 'shut her up' in order to 'protect Mr. Trump' continue unabated," the lawsuit states. "For example, only days ago on or about February 27, 2018, Mr. Trump's attorney Mr. Cohen surreptitiously initiated a bogus arbitration proceeding against Ms. Clifford in Los Angeles. Remarkably, he did so without even providing Ms. Clifford with notice of the proceeding and basic due process."

....Just weeks before the 2016 election, Cohen reportedly created a private LLC to pay off Clifford, The Wall Street Journal reported in January.
Last month, Cohen admitted to making a payment to Clifford, writing in a statement: "Neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms. Clifford, and neither reimbursed me for the payment, either directly or indirectly."
The lawsuit says Cohen's February statement was issued "without any consent by Ms. Clifford, thus evidencing Mr. Cohen's apparent position (at least in that context) that no binding agreement was in place."
Following initial reports that Cohen had made the payment, he said in a statement that Trump "vehemently denies" any encounter between the two.
This encapsulates so much of Trump: the moral sleaziness, the attempts to escape the consequences, the lying, the hiring of an incompetent lawyer, and Trump's inattention to detail that is causing this to blow up in his face. What a surprise that electing a reality-show star would result in such tawdriness.

It's amazing that such a law in Connecticut even has to be passed. But given the necessity, it's nice to see that there is something that both parties can agree on - seizing people's property when they haven't even been convicted of anything.
Under the new law, in order to permanently confiscate property with civil forfeiture, the property must be first seized in connection to either a lawful arrest or a lawful search that results in an arrest. If prosecutors do not secure a guilty verdict, a plea bargain or a dismissal from finishing a pretrial diversion program, the government must return the property to its rightful owner. With the stroke of a pen, Connecticut now becomes the 14th state to require a criminal conviction for most or all forfeiture cases.
It's unbelievable that authorities have the power to do this.
According to data obtained by the Institute for Justice and the Reason Foundation, police and prosecutors generated more than $17.8 million in forfeiture revenue from 2009 to 2016. Nearly two-thirds of those proceeds came from civil forfeiture cases, where the owner did not have to be convicted. Law enforcement predominantly confiscated cash, but also seized dirt bikes, gold chains, and electronics like iPads, TVs and cell phones.

Although civil forfeiture is often defended as a way to stop large-scale drug cartels and criminal enterprises, in Connecticut, half of all civil forfeitures were under $570 in 2016. These small amounts suggest that many victims don’t have the means to fight back against a seizure in court. The state’s conviction requirement should protect many innocent Connecticutians.
It's great that 14 states have passed such laws, but that means that there are still 36 states where people's property can be taken without a conviction.

Oh, geez! How stupid is this?
The top librarian at MIT recently argued that to make tech workplaces more inclusive and welcoming to women, ditch “Star Trek” posters and other geeky stuff cluttering office walls.

“There is research that shows that workplaces that are plastered with stereotypically ‘tech or nerd guy’ cultural images – think Star Trek – have negative impact on women’s likelihood of pursuing tech work and of staying in tech work in general or in that particular work environment,” said Chris Bourg, director of libraries at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“Replace the Star Trek posters with travel posters, don’t name your projects or your printers or your domains after only male figures from Greek mythology, and just generally avoid geek references and inside nerd jokes,” Bourg added. “Those kinds of things reinforce the stereotypes about who does tech; and that stereotype is the male nerd stereotype.”
So now, just being geeky is not allowed.

THis is just so clever

I like the response of one commenter.

Well, this settles the debates about whether something was going on with baseballs to account for the increase in homeruns in the past year.
On 6,105 occasions last season, a major leaguer walked to the plate and hammered a baseball over the outfield wall. The 2017 season broke the home run record that was set in 2000 — the peak of the steroid era — when players hit 5,693 homers, and it built upon the remarkable 5,610 that were hit in 2016. It was a stunning display of power that played out in every MLB park almost every night. And with spring training underway in Florida and Arizona, MLB’s power surge is showing no sign of letting up.

But while we now know what caused the spike in home runs at the turn of the century — even if we didn’t at the time — the reason for the most recent flurry of long balls remains an unsolved mystery. Any number of factors might have contributed to the home run surge, including bigger, stronger players or a new emphasis on hitting fly balls. But none of those possibilities looms larger than the ball itself.

MLB and its commissioner, Rob Manfred, have repeatedly denied rumors that the ball has been altered in any way — or “juiced” — to generate more homers. But a large and growing body of research shows that, beginning in the middle of the 2015 season, the MLB baseball began to fly further. And new research commissioned by “ESPN Sport Science,” a show that breaks down the science of sports,1 suggests that MLB baseballs used after the 2015 All-Star Game were subtly but consistently different than older baseballs. The research, performed by the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California and Kent State University’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, reveals changes in the density and chemical composition of the baseball’s core — and provides our first glimpse inside the newer baseballs.