Patterico's Pontifications

8/30/2014

Why Is It So Hard To Take A Stand?

Filed under: General — Dana @ 5:53 pm



[guest post by Dana]

In an interesting op-ed, Yasmine Bahrani, a professor of journalism at American University in Dubai, boldly asks: Where are the Muslims protesting the Islamic State? And although there is disagreement to be found, Bahrani does provoke a consideration of the matter.

While Bahrani establishes that she supported recent protests against Israel, she is at a loss to explain the absence of Muslim protests condemning ISIS for their treatment of Yazidis, Christians – and even Muslims.

This is not the first time this question has occurred to me. For years, I have wondered about this absence of public outrage. When I asked about the murder of Iraqi civilians by Sunni and Shiite gangs, my fellow Muslims dodged my questions: “Why did the United States invade Iraq in the first place?” Yes, the U.S. invasion was a mistake. But why is it so hard to take a stand against the killing of women and children? I never got a straight answer.

While noting a few non-Western clerics have spoken out against ISIS, Bahrani points the finger back at Muslims everywhere:

Don’t Muslims have a responsibility to speak out more loudly than others? We need the world to see anti-Islamic State marchers taking to the streets with the passion that we saw at the Gaza rallies in London and Paris. Mainstream Muslims must express our rejection of extremism in clear terms, while doing whatever we can to stop young people from radicalizing.

The common refrain is: “That’s not Islam.” Of course it isn’t. Muslims know that, but we need to understand that others do not. And here’s the problem: To much of the world, the Islamic State, Nigeria’s Boko Haram and other such groups do represent the Muslim community. Today, say the word “Islam” and few think of the glories of our history and culture. Rather, they picture masked men with knives. And as long as our condemnations remain tepid, we give the impression that we accept the crimes of murderers whose savvy YouTube productions reach far and wide. Like it or not, the Islamic State is winning the public relations war.

Sadly, mainstream Muslims have no choice but to come to terms with the fact that groups of people are car-bombing, shooting, starving, kidnapping and beheading people in the name of Islam — not to mention blowing up churches and mosques. Where is the anger? Is it possible that the marches in support of Palestinians are well-attended because Muslims hate Israel more than we hate criminal gangs who have hijacked the narrative of our religion?

Of course it’s possible and perhaps even likely. Other than unadulterated fear, how else to explain the lack of thousands of outraged Muslims marching en masse through the streets of Europe and the U.S. expressing the same level of condemnation toward ISIS as they did with Israel? Surely what ISIS is doing can’t be considered less horrible than what protestors believed Israel to be doing. If so, how foolish, because if we’ve learned anything, it’s that ISIS has absolutely no qualms about which group of people they slaughter – including Muslims.

If this was only about hijacking a narrative, it would be one thing, but when that hijacking manifests itself in the mass beheadings, executions, murders and torture of men, women and children from various ethnic and religious groups, along with terminating the lives of any not swearing allegiance, it’s a far more grievous matter than just a PR calamity. Is the priority taking back a religion or condemning this new threat of barbaric inhumanity?

With the world’s considerable Muslim population, an enormous collective display of public outrage and condemnation of ISIS certainly could manifest itself in the streets – as witnessed with Israel.

In perusing hundreds of comments at her post, I did not see anyone who claimed to be a Muslim, actually answer Bahrani’s question.

(On a side note, Bahrani misses or ignores the salient point that it always has been, and likely always will be easy and without risk to condemn Israel from any place in the world.)

–Dana

Remaining True To Their Convictions

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:43 am



[guest post by Dana]

In an update regarding the Christian couple ordered to pay $13,000 in fines for refusing to host a gay wedding on their farm and posted about here, we learn that Cynthia and Robert Gifford have now chosen to close their business rather than violate their beliefs. They will host the weddings already scheduled, and then close the business. According to Alliance Defending Freedom attorney James Trainor:

”Since the order essentially compelled them to do all ceremonies or none at all, they have chosen the latter in order to stay true to their religious convictions, even though it will likely hurt their business in the short run,” he said.

–Dana

8/29/2014

Friday Night Music: The Voice Is In This Guy

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:11 pm



Few things are better than Justin Hayward playing a great song with nothing but an acoustic guitar:

Bonus:

Ft. Hood Shooter’s Unsurprising Request

Filed under: General — Dana @ 5:33 pm



[guest post by Dana]

Unsurprisingly, Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan wants to join the caliphate. In a letter, he appeals to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi:

“I formally and humbly request to be made a citizen of the Islamic State,”Hasan says in the handwritten document addressed to “Ameer, Mujahid Dr. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.”

“It would be an honor for any believer to be an obedient citizen soldier to a people and its leader who don’t compromise the religion of All-Mighty Allah to get along with the disbelievers.”

As a reminder, Hasan fatally shot 13 people and injured more than 30 at Fort Hood in 2009 in what the government, in a display of cowardice, disgracefully called “workplace violence”.

–Dana

National Debt Has Almost Doubled Since Financial Crisis

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:48 am



Coincidentally, that’s also mostly the time that Obama has been in office:

The federal debt this year will be double what it was before the financial crisis, Congress’ official budget scorekeeper projected Wednesday morning.

The debt is on pace to reach 74 percent of the country’s economic output by the end of the year, double what it was in 2007 and the highest percentage since 1950, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Remember: Bush’s ill-advised bailouts have been largely repaid. They were a bad idea not because of the loss of money to the Treasury but because of the moral hazard they created: an incentive for banks to take unsustainable risks into the foreseeable future with no fear of real adverse consequences.

The doubling of the debt is mostly due to Obama’s explosion in spending, starting with the disastrous Keynesian stimulus, and then using that budget as a baseline for future budgets.

In four years, Obama ran up almost $5 trillion in debt — an amount it took the spendthrift Bush eight years to amass, and he’s not done. Things that can’t go on forever, won’t.

Just another reminder that we are headed for disaster. And we don’t have a strategy for dealing with it. Happy Friday!

8/28/2014

SWATting on Video

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:08 pm



Here’s an interview with a gamer who was SWATted:

His job is playing video games? OK.

Putting that to one side, I feel your pain, buddy. Here’s what makes this especially interesting: he was streaming his game when it happened. So you can watch the cops burst in.

Here’s the video. Fast forward to about 6:30:

Thanks to B.W.

“We Don’t Have A Strategy Yet”

Filed under: General — Dana @ 5:06 pm



[guest post by Dana]

The president admitted to the world today that we don’t have a strategy yet to fight ISIL.

“My priority at this point is to make sure that the gains that ISIL made in Iraq are rolled back and that Iraq has the opportunity to govern itself effectively and secure itself,” Obama told reporters in the White House briefing room.

The president promised to consult lawmakers on the strategy, “in part because it may cost some money,” and Congress holds the federal purse strings. But he repeatedly declined to commit to seeking a vote authorizing expanded military action in either Iraq or Syria.

“I do think that it’ll be important for Congress to weigh in,” he said. “But I don’t want to put the cart before the horse. We don’t have a strategy yet.”

–Dana

UPDATE BY PATTERICO: Here is video:

Spokesliar Josh Earnest tries to explain it away by lying:

Earnest quickly scheduled an appearance on CNN during which he argued Obama was simply referencing the U.S. options against the Islamic State in Syria — not in Iraq.

The president [was] asked a specific question about what approach he was going to pursue when it came to possible military action in Syria against ISIL. That was the specific question he was asked and the president was explicit that he is still waiting for plans that are being developed by the Pentagon for military options he has for going into Syria,” Earnest said.

But Spokesliar Josh Earnest lies badly. Here is the transcript of the question and answer:

QUESTION: Do you need Congress’s approval to go into Syria?

OBAMA: You know, I have consulted with Congress throughout this process. I am confident that as commander in chief I have the authorities to engage in the acts that we are conducting currently. As our strategy develops, we will continue to consult with Congress, and I do think that it’ll be important for Congress to weigh in and we’re — that our consultations with Congress continue to develop so that the American people are part of the debate.

But I don’t want to put the cart before the horse. We don’t have a strategy yet.

Yeah, Spokesliar Josh Earnest, the specific question he was asked was: “Do you need Congress’s approval to go into Syria?” If you’re going to lie, lie better than that.

Meet the Man Who Has Nothing to Hide (But Not Really)

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:34 am



At the Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf writes about a man who supposedly has nothing to hide:

When someone debating privacy says, “but I don’t have anything to hide,” I am immediately suspicious. “Would you prove it by giving me access to your email accounts,” I’ve taken to replying, “along with your credit card statements and bank records?” Not a single person has ever taken me up on that challenge–until now.

Arizona resident Noah Dyer emailed me about an anti-privacy project he is promoting. I replied in my usual way. And to my surprise, he sent all his passwords.

“I have given you the things you’ve asked for, and have done so unconditionally,” he wrote. “I’ve given you the power to impersonate me. I request that you do not take advantage of me in this way, though I have obviously not made that desire a precondition to sharing the info with you. Additionally, while you may paint whatever picture of me you are inclined to based on the data and our conversations, I would ask you to exercise restraint in embarrassing others whose lives have crossed my path … Again, I have not made your agreement to that request a condition of sharing the data. I don’t think I have enough money that you would bother to take it or spend it. Look forward to talking more and seeing the article!”

“Wow,” I thought. “How reckless to give this access to a complete stranger!” Then I logged in to his email.

It’s an interesting piece with an interesting premise. Dyer turns out to be a self-promoting narcissist who got a divorce because he decided it was important to be able to sleep around — including, apparently, with several married women. He gave Friedersdorf complete access to all his passwords, which means he unilaterally decided that there would be no privacy, not just for him, but for anyone else who had ever entrusted him with anything private.

Although Friedersdorf repeatedly claims that Dyer has “nothing to hide,” he clearly does — because, for some reason, he doesn’t seem to want to give his bank and email passwords to the world . . . just to Friedersdorf. Dyer is active in comments to the article and I have asked him to post his passwords publicly. So far he has not, and I don’t expect that he will. (Nor should he.)

As best as I can tell, Dyer defends this by explaining that in his utopia, nobody would have any privacy, so if you stole something, everyone would know. In our imperfect world, however, he has to behave differently. Of course, in my utopia, self-promoting narcissists would not exist, so there would be no Noah Dyer to begin with. (Utopia, I’ll remind the reader, means “nowhere.”)

Dyer is trying to fund some Kickstarter campaign:

[I]f his ambitious Kickstarter, “A Year Without Privacy,” is funded, “I will walk my talk. You will see every minute of my life for a year. You will see every email, every text, every Facebook message and any other communication that I receive. You will see my bank account transaction and balances. You will see everything I eat and all the exercise I do … If I do have sex, it will be documented as a matter of fact, not with any specific intention to arouse or otherwise manipulate the viewer.”

Ladies, the line to have sex with this guy on camera for the whole world to see starts right over there!

I doubt he will be giving out his passwords to the entire world, though. Because the guy with nothing to hide, as it turns out, still does have plenty to hide — at least in the real world.

Money Can’t Buy You Love, But It Sure Can Buy You Water – Even In A Drought

Filed under: General — Dana @ 7:10 am



[guest post by Dana]

As Californians are now in the third year of a drought, now a Stage 4, economizing water has become a way of life for many.

But all things being relative, while some in hard hit towns like the immensely wealthy enclave of Montecito may appear to have made water-saving measures a new habit as evidenced in cutting water usage almost 50%, they are still using what anyone would consider copious amounts of water – even if they have to pay to truck it in:

Many mornings, just before 7 a.m., a large tanker truck pulls up to the grand gates of Oprah Winfrey’s 40-acre estate in Montecito, California. Inside is neither merchandise nor produce – just water.

A year ago, Oprah’s annual bill from the Montecito Water District was just shy of $125,000. This year, it is less than half. Like many in this wealthy enclave, Oprah has cut back on her consumption of district water. That said, her property has its own wells and a small lake and, according to neighbors, there are the trucks.

These days, tankers can be seen barreling down Montecito’s narrow country roads day and night, ferrying up to 5,000 gallons of H20 to some of the world’s richest and thirstiest folks.

Unfortunately, gorgeous Montecito has the misfortune of being located where there is less available water than any other part of the central coast as a nearby aquifer only reaches a small portion of the community. And because of the severity of drought in the community, heavy fines are levied for those who overuse. And some residents appear more than willing to pay:

In May, 837 defiant—or careless—residents coughed up $532,000 in penalties, or a collective overage of about 13 million gallons of town water. The beachfront Biltmore Four Seasons was whacked with a penalty of $48,000 for using about one million gallons over its allotment in April, while a nearby private home sucked up a $30,000 fine for the month for guzzling an extra 750,000 gallons. The district receives about 30 appeals a week. Those who do not pay their bills receive shut off notices— and about 400 were sent out in the last year. The Montecito Water District, which is particularly discreet about its patrons, admits it will rake in close to $4 million in fines this year.

But for those who understand that money talks, water is still plentiful.

Does it really matter if the wealthy pay for water to be brought in? Truck drivers make a living off the demand and the lush rolling lawns remain emerald green. Win-win. Well, it just might matter. The water they are trucking in doesn’t come from an endless source. It comes from the nearby town of Carpenteria. Charles Hamilton, general manager of the Carpinteria Water District, worries:

Carpinteria, one of the country’s top producers of avocados and flowers, is an agricultural wonderland for good reason. The town sits on an immense aquifer that Hamilton describes as a “geological treasure,” amply providing for its residents and thousands of acres of agriculture.

Every well in Carpinteria, however, draws upon its aquifer — like so many straws in a glass. If water continues to be siphoned from these wells to cash in on Montecito’s plight — and if the winter rains do not come — Hamilton frets that even its great aquifer will be threatened.

Meanwhile, 190 miles away from Montecito, the small rural town of Porterville has run out of water. The wells are dry.

“We received direction early last week from county administration to come out and conduct an emergency operation. We distributed 15,552 gallons of drinking water to the community,” said Andrew Lockman, manager of Tulare County Office of Emergency Services. “At this time, it is all funded under the county’s general fund.”

Many residents of East Porterville are now relying on a 5,000 gallon tank of non-potable water. The tank is provided by Tulare County and is located in front of Tulare County Fire Department Station 20.

Perhaps the rich and famous of Montecito might send word to turn those water trucks northeast.

You can also read here about the latest lawsuit in California between farmers versus Indian tribes, environmentalists and fishermen over the federal release of water to aid residents salmon.

–Dana

8/27/2014

Mexico’s President to United States: Stop Being Unethical!

Filed under: General — Dana @ 6:28 pm



[guest post by Dana]

You know what’s worse than having the visiting president of a neighboring country whose people stream across our border as if they owned the place lecture us on the ethics of immigration? How about the imbecilic governor of a U.S. border state reassure said president: “If we can put a man on the moon, we can put a man from Mexico to California in 20 minutes.”

Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto was in town at Governor Brown’s invitation and spoke about the assumed need for immigration reform:

“We want to be a factor of cohesion, not division, with full respect for the sovereignty of the United States,” President Enrique Pena Nieto said Monday. “This, at the end, is about — and only about — a matter of justice for those who contribute so much to the development of the American society.”

And, while not naming names, Pena Nieto criticized what ABC News refers to as those unethical governors cracked down on immigrants:

“There are still states that have not evolved so much as California, that still skimp on recognition and, even worse, the rights of immigrants,” he said. “Those who still believe and bet for the exclusion and discrimination or the rejection of diversity … I only have one thing to say: the future, and a very near future, will demonstrate your ethical mistake. Time will show we’re right.”

It becomes so tiresome to point out the utter hypocrisy of Mexico.

–Dana

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