Thursday, August 09, 2018

Cruising the Web

Facebook has finally decided that it shouldn't be blocking a political ad by congressional candidate Elizabeth Heng speaking about her parents' meeting during the Cambodian genocide. For some bizarre reason, Facebook thought that the reference to a historical event was "shocking, disrespectful or sensational content." Balderdash! And Heng isn't impressed with Facebook backing down after her story got publicity on conservative sites.
Heng released the following statement this evening about the reversal of Facebook’s decision: “I’m deeply disappointed that Facebook would not give me a public apology for targeting a conservative candidate for Congress. It took them 5 days and an immense amount of pressure before they ‘realized’ that they deliberately blocked my history and my story.”

Update 8/8/18 1:15 p.m.: Heng told National Review in a phone interview on Wednesday that “the only thing” Facebook officials told her about the reversal was that “after further review on my ad, it’s clear the images in the video are not being used to shock people but they are relevant to my story, and they apologized for the confusion.”
It took them five days to figure that out? Please. All you needed was a few seconds watching the ad to understand why it was in there. Why do these social media censors have a better sense of when they're treading political ground and exercise more discernment?

Now that Facebook is trying to police postings on its site and close down the accounts of those they regard as violating their vague rules on "hate speech," it is interesting to see which other accounts they find acceptable.
Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan’s official Facebook page is rife with anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and other hateful speech, which have not been censored by Facebook content monitors, a Daily Caller News Foundation review of the page reveals.

Videos posted to Farrakhan’s Facebook page show the Nation of Islam leader claiming that Jews are secretly controlling government agencies to suppress black Americans and blaming Jews for “weaponizing” marijuana with “chemicals” to “feminize” black men.

Neither of those videos violate Facebook’s rules prohibiting hate speech, a Facebook spokeswoman told The Daily Caller News Foundation in a phone interview Tuesday.

Another video that showed Farrakhan warning against interracial marriage — which he blames on “the enemy” in Hollywood — to keep the black race “from being any further mongrelized,” was originally ruled not to violate hate speech rules, according to the Facebook spokeswoman.

After this article was published, the spokeswoman called back and said that a closer review by the company’s content monitors determined Farrakhan’s use of the word “mongrelized” did violate Facebook’s rules, and that the video would be deleted.
Farrakhan repeatedly launches ugly attacks against Jews and how they are manipulating the government to attack blacks. His Facebook page is littered with ugly anti-Semitic attacks. But, somehow, such ugliness (quoted at length at the Daily Caller) doesn't violate their own stated policy on hate speech.
We define hate speech as a direct attack on people based on what we call protected characteristics — race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, caste, sex, gender, gender identity, and serious disease or disability.
I suspect that their choices on what classifies as hate speech is more of the Left's defense of the years of anti-white tweets by the new NYT editor, Sarah Jeong. Many on the Left seemed to think that a member of a minority can't be racist against whites. Well, almost all Jews are whites, so by that argument, Farrakhan can't be using hate speech against them.

It's not that I'm calling for Facebook to shut down Farrakhan's account. But as long as they leave the account up, they are betraying their hypocrisy and their inability to really define hate speech.

Ah, more wisdom from the NYT. Amanda Hess, a critic at large for the paper, has written an essay in the New York Times Magazine entitled "Some Online 'Mobs' are Vicious. Others are Perfectly Rational." Five guesses which mobs are vicous and which are rational.

Time's up! You probably guessed, the ones whose goals she approves are rational. Those whose goals or arguments she doesn't like are vicious. Amazing how the mobs she likes are spouting leftist points and those she doesn't like come from the right. What a shocker!

Jonah Goldberg responds to Stephen Colbert's targeting him last night as a "Trump ally."
The funny thing is that it’s funnier if you know that Trump once claimed that I don’t know how to buy pants. It seems to me there’s a missed opportunity somewhere in there.

But speaking of missed opportunities, I think it’s fair to say, literally, that no one who knows much about me and my political stances these days would call me an ally of Trump’s.

And that’s okay. If all you knew about me was that I was a conservative columnist and a Fox News contributor, you might think it safe to call me a Trump ally. I don’t want to make some Ron Burgundy–like argument about how I’m a really big deal and that Colbert and the writers of The Late Show should know who I am.

Still, given how invested Colbert has become in being a very serious, very liberal politics guy, you’d think someone on his team might have seen me on, say, The Daily Show, Morning Joe, or heard me on NPR or CBS’s own Sunday show, Face the Nation. Maybe his showrunner might remember a long talk we once had in NYC. Maybe one of the writers who follow me on Twitter recalled my somewhat frayed relationship with the president?

Or maybe not. Who knows? It’s summer, so maybe the A-Team is out at the Hamptons. Maybe internecine fights that have consumed me for two years don’t register on their radar because I don’t rate much attention outside the conservative ghetto.

Still, the odd thing is: I was paired up against a Trump surrogate in the actual Fox segment Colbert referred to. And there was nothing in what I said in the discussion — including the quote he mocks, that suggested I’m a Trump ally (indeed, Rudy Giuliani referred to me as some random “moron” for what I said, which might be another clue). It’s almost like they just made something up for the sake of getting laughs.
You can watch the clip at the link.

Kevin Williamson adds in that Colbert's mistake in how he characterized Goldberg as a Trump ally as further proof that entertainers aren't the people that they play.
You’d think that in these of all times, we’d have a deeper appreciation for the fact that entertainers are not, in reality, the people they play on television. Alec Baldwin once played a gifted surgeon who was also a kind of Machiavellian genius, but no sane person would let Alec Baldwin anywhere near with a scalpel. Tom Hanks probably wouldn’t be a very good astronaut. Jason Statham, on the other hand, apparently does drive around scenic locales in nice European cars wearing good suits, which, other than shooting people in the face, is mainly what I’ve seen him do in movies.

It’s a fine line.

Stephen Colbert plays a witty and insightful political commentator on television. Let a few writers go on summer vacation, though, and he’s a mess.

I assume that’s the case, here. This calls once again for us to make the not-always-obvious judgment about whether such a figure is simply having a dumb moment or is in fact willfully dishonest. It isn’t always easy to tell, because some dumb moments last a lifetime.

Some dishonest habits last a lifetime, too.
I'm not so sure that the mistake is any indication that Colbert's normal writers are on vacation. I suspect that most liberals, as surely are all the people working on Colbert's show, just never read any conservative press. They don't know anything about conservative analysts and pundits so they have no idea which conservatives are "allies" of Trump. They don't remember that National Review published an entire edition in February 2016 entitled "Against Trump," full of columns saying why conservatives should not vote for Trump. They don't know that Goldberg makes fun of Trump, with more humor than Colbert can muster, on a regular basis. I guess the subtlety of people deciding to criticize Trump when they dislike what he does or says and praising actions of his administration that they support. It's just too easy to lump all conservatives into the same pool and label them as "Trump allies." They don't want to acknowledge that some people have an honest position and don't just decide to support or oppose everything that a politician does.

Vox reports
that more than 20 Democrats running for Congress have said that they don't support Nancy Pelosi as speaker.
Vox has counted 25 candidates who have publicly said they will not support Pelosi for speaker should Democrats retake the House in 2018. Of those, 18 candidates are on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s Red to Blue list, the list of Republican-held districts Democrats consider competitive. Red to Blue is the closest the DCCC comes to endorsing a candidate; those candidates get extra resources to help in their races....

Publicly distancing oneself from Pelosi (while continuing to accept money she’s fundraised) is proving to be a politically prudent — and winning — strategy for candidates. It may have helped propel now-Rep. Conor Lamb to a surprise victory in a deeply red Pennsylvania district that Democrats had believed was out of reach.

Red to blue candidates are all trying to win in moderate or red-leaning districts, so it may not be surprising that more are leaning into this tactic. But it’s notable that the number has grown so much. It’s true that some are veiling their opposition in calls for “new leadership in both parties,” but with Pelosi as the best-known Democrat currently in leadership, it’s hard to miss who they’re talking about.
This is all very subtle maneuvering. At some point after the election the Democrats' caucus will meet to pick their candidate for Speaker. She may be opposed by a younger Democrat whom these Red-to-Blue candidates can support within the caucus. However, if Pelosi still wins within the caucus, the vote then goes to the floor of the House. There will be a Republican candidate and Pelosi. Then it will become much more difficult for such Democrats to vote against Pelosi. Are these people really planning to vote for a Republican or throw away their vote if that means that Pelosi would lose the vote for Speaker and the Republican would win? That would be political suicide for a Democrat. Unless the Democrats win an overwhelming number this Fall, they will need the votes of these 25 Democrats. Of course, with the continued bad showing of GOP candidates in red districts, there could be such a blue wave that the Democrats wouldn't need these 25 votes for Pelosi to win the speakership. They could then cast meaningless votes from some other Democrat and she could still win and then wreak her vengeance against all these freshmen congressmen. But no one knows yet if the Democrats will win such a victory. So their pledge not to vote for Pelosi is meaningless unless they also pledge to vote against her in the real vote and not just within the caucus.

Anyone who knows how these votes go understands this. But notice that the media don't ask these candidates how they would vote on the House floor if their not voting for Pelosi means that a Republican would become Speaker. They let these candidates mouth generalities about wanting new leadership, but when the vote takes place, they will vote for Pelosi. The Republicans understand this and they should explain it to voters.