Friday, March 09, 2018

Cruising the Web

Molly Roberts writes in the Washington Post about the problems that the left has with its embrace of Louis Farrakhan. It's no surprise that Farrakhan is an open and proud anti-Semite. But what is noteworthy is how some leaders of the Women's March as well as members of the Congressional Black Congress have embraced him.
Farrakhan gave a speech on the Nation of Islam’s Saviours’ Day in Chicago last week saying that “the powerful Jews are my enemy” and announcing to them “your time is up, your world is through.” This would have been just another day, had Farrakhan not shouted out the Women’s March’s Tamika Mallory, who attended the event. And had Mallory not initially refused to denounce his anti-Semitism when the Web took notice, responding instead that “If your leader does not have the same enemies as Jesus, they may not be THE leader!” And had other Women’s March bigwigs such as Linda Sarsour and Carmen Perez not defended Farrakhan in the past.

On Tuesday, after days of silence, the Women’s March finally released a statement acknowledging that Farrakhan’s views were “not aligned with the Women’s March Unity Principles, which were created by women of color leaders and are grounded in Kingian nonviolence” — but not outright denouncing him, and not apologizing for promoting him. The same day, a Jewish GOP group called for the resignation of seven Democratic representatives from Congress because of their ostensible ties to Farrakhan.

This has set off a string of back-and-forths between those furious at some left-wingers’ hesitance to condemn Farrakhan and anyone who associates with him, and those frustrated at conservatives, centrists and even other liberals for focusing on a fringe figure when there’s a white nationalist-lite in the Oval Office.
Can't we condemn both?

As the Weekly Standard reminds us, Farrakhan has been saying noxiously anti-Semitic things for decades.
In 1984, for instance, he said that “Hitler was a very great man”; and in 1985, “Don’t you forget, when it’s God who puts you in the ovens, it’s forever.” What’s far less known about Farrakhan is the warmth with which he’s embraced by some influential members of the American progressive movement....

How strange that self-proclaimed “intersectional” feminists such as Sarsour, Mallory, and Perez would support an openly misogynistic and racist demagogue like Farrakhan. Among his more recent offerings: “When a woman does not know how to cook and the right foods to cook, she's preparing death for herself, her husband and her children.” He’s also observed that “man is supposed to have rule, especially in his own house . . . and when she rules you, you become her child.” Directly to women he asserted: “You are a failure if you can’t keep a man, no profession can keep you happy!” One wonders what it is about him that these feminists find so alluring.
If they don't mind his anti-Semitism, don't they care about his sexism? They're leading a Women's March movement, for gosh sake! And let's not forget the members of Congress who have literally embraced Farrakhan.

Warren Henry writes
about the remarkable lack of coverage of this story in too much of the MSM (with Jake Tapper being a notable exception.)
If you thought Big Media would be interested in the story of public officials cozying up to a virulent bigot, you would be mistaken. Journalists rationalized their dismissal of the story by saying that CBC members like Davis are basically invulnerable in their Congressional districts. One big flaw in this defense is that House incumbents are generally invulnerable in their districts. Perhaps the media should just stop covering Congress....

As I write this, outside conservative media and Jewish media (e.g., Forward, Tablet, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Haaretz), The Daily Beast (linked above), the New York Daily News, Newsday, and Yahoo have been exceptions to the general rule. At this moment, neither the The New York Times nor the The Washington Post have found it news fit to print (though both covered a surreal Saturday Night Live sketch that had Farrakhan phoning into “Fox & Friends”).

Perhaps others will eventually follow Tapper’s lead, but the question remains as to why they were so slow off the mark. The answer is fairly obvious. If the Freedom Caucus had met with David Duke or Richard Spencer and declined to repudiate them — if a GOP Congressman had called either on an “outstanding human being” — the media firestorm would have been lengthy and massive. Every prominent Republican officeholder would be asked to comment and offer a condemnation.

This pattern can be seen in any number of stories, whether it’s stupid remarks by a Senatorial candidate about rape, or a GOP presidential candidate rejecting an endorsement from a similarly controversial pastor.

But this particular strain of political bias is particularly toxic. Who benefits when Big Media looks the other way at progressives associating with someone like Farrakhan? Weaselly progressives who want to have it both ways, to be sure.

Yet the right also benefits, particularly those elements that want to exploit white identity politics. The overall media silence allows people to claim that the establishment only cares about prejudice and bigotry when it serves their narrow political agenda.

Some journalists may tell themselves that they focus on the GOP’s racial issues because the right has a race problem, whereas the left does not. It’s easier to convince themselves of that if they ignore all the progressives smiling in photos with Farrakhan. Who loses when media looks the other way? People of good will.

It says a lot about today's Democratic Party that there doesn't seem to be a problem with the party leadership hanging with Farrakhan.
The third-highest ranking House Democrat shared a stage with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, a notorious racist and anti-Semite, and has refused to condemn the hate group leader.

South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn attended a 2011 event with Farrakhan and shared the stage with him, even after Jewish groups voiced their opposition to Clyburn attending the event. Clyburn told the Final Call, a Nation of Islam publication, that he was “not bothered in the least bit” by criticisms of his attendance at the event.

As the assistant Democratic leader, Clyburn is the third-highest ranked Democrat in the House. He declined to condemn Farrakhan in a statement released to The Daily Caller News Foundation on Thursday.

“I have fought all my life to advance the cause of social justice and equality, and I have always opposed bigotry in all its forms,” Clyburn said in the statement. His office declined repeated inquiries regarding whether the congressman is willing to condemn Farrakhan, and whether he stood by his decision in 2011 to shrug off criticisms of Farrakhan.

Clyburn is now the eighth House Democrat to have direct ties to Farrakhan. The Republican Jewish Coalition has already called on the seven other Democrats to resign over their ties to Farrakhan.

Clyburn’s fellow House Democrats are divided on whether or not to condemn Farrakhan.
What is there so noble about Farrakhan that they can't even decide to condemn him? Just imagine if the top GOP House leaders were meeting with Robert Spencer or David Duke and then dithered over condemning him. We know what a righteous uproar when Trump equivocated on condemning those people and that was justified. It shouldn't be difficult to decide not to pal around with those who spout hateful bigotry. When it seems to present difficulties for Trump or top Democrats, they have revealed something disturbing about themselves and should rightly be criticized and questioned about it.

David French explains how Obama's administration might have paved the way for the Trump DOJ to win in its suit against California and the state's laws making it a "sanctuary state."
You see, way back in 2012 the two parties had very different views of federalism. The GOP wanted to dissent from Obama’s immigration policies, and the Obama administration very much wanted to impose its own version of uniform, national rule. The state of Arizona, facing multiple challenges from a swelling illegal-immigrant population, enacted a statute that essentially created enhanced penalties for illegal immigration and granted state officials new powers to enforce existing federal law.

In other words, it was the mirror image of the California effort. Arizona’s statute didn’t conflict with federal law; it was just different from federal law, reflecting the state’s sovereign priorities. The Obama administration sued, taking the case all the way to the Supreme Court. On June 25, 2012, the Court struck down the key provisions of the Arizona law. Justice Kennedy wrote the opinion, and it was sweeping in its language and scope.

Essentially, Kennedy ruled that Congress — through its comprehensive statutory scheme — had “occupied the field” of alien registration and thus “even complementary state regulation is impermissible.” (Emphasis added.) This so-called “field preemption” reflects “a congressional decision to foreclose any state regulation in the area [preempted], even if it is parallel to federal standards.” After waxing eloquent about the importance of immigration in the American national story, Kennedy’s opinion goes on to conclude that “Arizona may have understandable frustrations with the problems caused by illegal immigration . . . but the State may not pursue policies that undermine federal law.”

....Under the Kennedy framework, California law likely goes down in flames. If Arizona’s efforts at creating complementary policy were impermissible, then California faces an immense challenge justifying a policy that is quite explicitly designed to undermine federal enforcement. According to Kennedy’s reasoning (adopted by Roberts, Breyer, Ginsburg, and Sotomayor), federal statutes are precisely designed to accomplish national goals — goals that no state can undermine.

San Diego's City Attorney, Mara W. Elliott, gives
an example demonstrating how California's law creating gun violence restraining orders (GVRO) works to prevent gun violence.
In just the past few months, prosecutors in my office have obtained GVROs against 15 gun owners, each of whom a court determined posed a serious danger to themselves or others. Some of the respondents have a mental illness; others made public threats to kill.

There is no way to know how many lives we may have saved, but here is a recent example of how a GVRO protected the public:

Employees of an automobile dealership in San Diego had become increasingly disturbed by a co-worker’s behavior. After the mass killing in Las Vegas in October, this service adviser praised the shooter for not committing suicide until he had gunned down enough victims to set a modern record.

“If I were him,” the service adviser volunteered, “I would have shot up a mosque and then shot it out with cops.”

Not long after, he boasted that if he were fired by the car dealership — a prospect that seemed likely — he would return with his gun. An alarmed co-worker notified police and statements were taken. My office obtained a GVRO, and the man surrendered a semiautomatic rifle with significant killing capability.

The California Legislature created the GVRO statute in response to the 2014 mass killings in Isla Vista, a college community abutting the University of California at Santa Barbara. It can be used by a law enforcement agency, a family member or a housemate.

A court-issued GVRO compels an unfit gun owner to sell or surrender his firearms before he can do harm to himself or others while ensuring the gun owner’s right to due process. It provides police and citizens who witness danger signs with a powerful legal resource to save lives.
She's right that this is a gun policy that both the left and right can endorse. David French has been advocating for GVROs. He proposes a law that would allow petitioners to go to court for a GVRO as long as the respondent has a chance to defend against the charges.
The GVRO avoids bureaucracies. Family members or principals could go straight to local court. It imposes accountability. Local judges would be forced to rule promptly on the request, and if the order were granted, local law enforcement would be forced to respond quickly. It protects liberty. A high burden of proof and a requirement that petitioners provide admissible evidence such as sworn statements, photographs, or text messages would limit the chances of abuse. Finally, the process is familiar. Americans are used to restraining orders in other contexts, and the GVRO wouldn’t have a steep learning curve.

Though the idea originated in progressive circles, there’s nothing inherently left-wing about a GVRO. California, Washington, Oregon, Indiana, and Connecticut have passed various versions of GVRO laws, and similar proposals are under consideration in at least 18 states. The Trump administration is considering backing the concept.

Remember when, after 9/11, we were all about connecting the dots? Well, it now appears that the FBI had indeed connected the dots that Nikolas Cruz was a dangerous threat to the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, but did nothing.
The FBI this week detailed to Congress a series of mistakes and missed opportunities to intervene before a gunman killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida -- including a revelation that staffers knew two warnings about suspect Nikolas Cruz were related, but still closed the case....

In a summary released Wednesday to Fox News, Bowdich cited two tips that the FBI received about Cruz in September 2017 and January 2018 that were mishandled.

The 2017 tip alerted the FBI to a threatening YouTube comment, made by user Nikolas Cruz, which stated: “I’m going to be a professional school shooter.”

According to the summary, a FBI call taker “did not ask any standard investigative probing questions” about the 2018 tip.

The 2018 call taker was able to connect Cruz to the earlier call about the YouTube comment, but after discussing it with a supervisor, they decided not to pursue the matter and the case was closed.
So what would it have taken to get the FBI to decide that a tip was worth investigating further? IF this wasn't enough, what would have been?

And it seems that every day or so we learn something worse about the behavior of the local authorities in their response to the shooting.
When a gunman started shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, two Miramar SWAT team members did what comes naturally: They went to help.

Now they’ve been suspended for it.

The officers did not have permission to respond to the shooting at Parkland on Feb. 14, when 17 people were killed.

And that created an officer safety issue and left them unaccountable for their actions, according to their police department.

But their union reacted differently.

The officers did not have permission to respond to the shooting at Parkland on Feb. 14, when 17 people were killed.

And that created an officer safety issue and left them unaccountable for their actions, according to their police department.

But their union reacted differently.

I'm no lawyer, but this definitely sounds unconstitutional.
The FBI recruited computer technicians at Best Buy to inform them about illegal content on personal devices customers brought in for repairs, new Bureau documents show.

The informants were discovered after Best Buy’s Geek Squad technicians at a Kentucky repair shop found thousands of child-pornography images on California doctor Mark Rettenmaier’s computer. The documents from the ensuing court case showed that eight informants were cooperating with the FBI to turn over illegal content.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation sued the Department of Justice and finally obtained records the FBI had not revealed, which proved Best Buy had a long-term relationship with federal agents.

FBI agents would come and confiscate any device on which technicians found illegal content, take it to a field office, and, in some cases, obtain a warrant to search the device. Several informants received payments from $500 to $1000 for their cooperation.

Critics have raised possible Fourth Amendment issues with this unusual practice. Best Buy is sanctioned to search devices, but the FBI is supposed to obtain a warrant to do so. Providing a monetary incentive to employees would likely encourage them to perform searches that are unnecessary to the repair, the watchdogs say.