Patterico's Pontifications

1/5/2018

Terrorizing Ajit Pai, Net Neutrality, the Resistance, and SWATting

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:30 pm

The anti-Trump “Resistance” has aspects that are criminal and out of control, and the latest example is their treatment of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. Noah Rothman had an excellent piece in Commentary Magazine today titled The Torment of Ajit Pai, about the disgusting treatment that Pai has received at the hands of the “Resistance.” So what is Pai’s crime? Deciding that the federal government might not be the best entity to put in charge of the new printing press known as the Internet. But because we call this “net neutrality,” a bunch of self-righteous millenials with a Trump-level understanding of policy have taken it upon themselves to terrorize the man and his family:

The so-called “Resistance” latched onto the net-neutrality issue early in the Trump presidency and went about expressing their opposition to the repeal of this regulation in the most contemptible fashion imaginable. HBO host John Oliver was among the first figures of mainstream cultural relevance to organize a campaign against this regulation, which he dubbed “Go FCC Yourself.” He encouraged his followers to bombard the FCC’s website with comments supporting the regulation, and that is precisely what they did. Those comments were peppered with claims that Pai was a pedophile, a “dirty, sneaky Indian” who should self-deport, and reminders that anonymous online hordes maintain the “power to murder Ajit Pai and his family.” Oliver was eventually compelled to release a video urging his followers to dial back the racism and death threats.

This episode would prove to be just the beginning of Pai’s ordeal. By May of last year, Pai’s tormentors began a campaign to ensure that the FCC chairman could enjoy no peace—not even in his own home. “Resistance” groups began distributing fliers and door hangers around Pai’s Arlington, Virginia neighborhood, featuring a black-and-white photo of Pai with his vital stats (height, weight, age, and professional background) and accusing him of selling the Internet out to corporations. “Have you seen this man?” the fliers read.

These demonstrators didn’t stop there. They began organizing “vigils” in Pai’s driveway—a tactic that net neutrality activists deployed in 2014 against then-FCC chairman Tom Wheeler. They “come up to our front windows and take photographs of the inside of the house,” Pai told the Wall Street Journal. “My kids are 5 and 3. It’s not pleasant.”

“Is this really the world you want Annabelle and Alexander to inherit,” read a hand-made sign affixed to a lamppost outside Pai’s residence in November, making a point to emphasize the names of Pai’s two children. “They will come to know the truth: Dad murdered democracy in cold blood,” read another. The Pai family’s doorbell reportedly rang every half hour, according to National Journal’s Brendan Bordelon, with pizza deliveries that they had not ordered. “It was a little nerve-racking, especially for my wife who’s not involved in this space,” Pai told Fox News Channel. “Families,” he continued, “should remain out of it and stop harassing us at our homes.”

But it didn’t stop, and the threats to Pai’s safety have only become more credible. In December, ahead of the commission’s vote to formally nix the controversial 2015 regulation, a specific bomb threat forced the FCC to halt proceedings and clear the building. This week, Pai was forced to cancel a scheduled appearance at the Consumer Electronics Show after receiving credible death threats.

By the way, the fellow who left the FCC bomb threat was apparently Tyler Barriss, the same guy who evidently SWATted Andrew Finch in Kansas, leading to his death. Shortly before the bomb threat, Barriss tweeted on his @SWauTistic Twitter account: “Gonna evacuate the net neutrality meeting guys don’t be upset.” Moments later, the meeting was evacuated. I guess that wasn’t enough to get the FBI’s rear in gear. Maybe they could have saved Andrew Finch’s life. Instead, he boasted:

“l swatted FCC and MLG Dallas l’m not busted yet 😜” he tweeted. “if you can’t pull off a swat without getting busted you’re not a leet hacking God its that simple”

He’s now being extradited to Kansas, to be charged with . . . murder? Nope, “making a false alarm.” I think that’s absurd, and that it’s murder, but hey. What do I know?

Barriss’s actions are an extreme example, and they almost certainly motivated more by his psychopathic joy in disrupting people’s lives than by any political motive. But the millenials described in Rothman’s piece no doubt applauded Barriss’s actions. They couldn’t begin to give you a factually accurate explanation of why they think net neutrality is bad — but they love to disrupt the life of a guy they have determined is evil.

In this sense they are like the most enthusiastic Trumpers, who elevate the virtue of “hitting back” over any sense of morality, ethics, restraint, or proportion. I’m not talking about reluctant Trump voters, or people who don’t like him but think his administration has accomplished some good things. I’m talking about the Cernoviches and Posobiecs of the world: people who believe in outrageous behavior because they are imitating the excesses of the left.

I’m sorry to harsh your mellow in a post that you were enjoying about how the left is evil. But if you support these kind of tactics, as long as they are used in support of your preferred policy, you’re no better than the people Rothman describes.

Let’s see if we can get the “normals” together from all walks of life to oppose this kind of insanity, no matter the politics of the people who engage in it.

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]

Bannon Ouster Imminent?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:13 pm

I miss Andrew Breitbart.

One of the things I miss is how he would tell me ahead of time about big stories that he was about to break. (Permit an old codger to reminisce a bit. It might even be relevant.)

He would tell me about something like, say, the Anthony Weiner story, or a big ACORN expose, the day before it broke. And he would let me tease stuff like that. I would rush to my computer and tap out some “speculation” about something I thought “might happen.” Then, riffing off an old Mickey Kaus saying from when he wrote the kausfiles blog, I would say: “Always trust content from Patterico.”

And the next day, it would come true. Man, those were the days.

Sorry. You caught me monologuing! Anyway, now that fun is all in the past — as is Andrew, God rest his soul — and the site is being run by Steve Bannon.

For now, that is.

I said this morning about Steve Bannon:

Ultimately, my guess is that if they [Breitbart.com] want to remain financially viable, they’re going to have to ditch the guy [Bannon]. Sooner rather than later.

Sloppy Steve is gonna have to go. I’d be surprised if he lasts the day.

He’s still hanging on by his fingernails — which I assume are dirty, by the way. Just a guess. But let me tap out some speculation here.

Let’s look at what we know. Allahpundit from Hot Air told us two things last night: 1) the Breitbart board was publicly debating dumping Bannon, and 2) Rebekah Mercer was publicly distancing herself from Bannon . . . to the point where the Mercers even cut off money for Bannon’s security detail (!).

Rebekah Mercer’s opinion matters a lot. Remember, Robert Mercer sold his shares in Breitbart News to Rebekah in November. It’s reasonable to conclude that she has considerable say over management decisions.

And she mad.

What might happen next in a situation like that?

It does not take much imagination to conjure up the following scenario:

Rebekah Mercer calls up Larry Solov and perhaps one or more other members of the Breitbart board. She says to them: Either Bannon goes, or you do. Or the sweet, sweet money dries up.

And that’s a hard argument to resist.

I, for one, would not be at all surprised to see a story to that effect breaking in the next 24 hours or so.

Always trust content from Patterico!

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]

A TIME FOR CHOOSING: Trump Says People Have to Choose Between Him and “Sloppy Steve”

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:37 pm

The post is at RedState.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

White House Press Secretary Uses Her Position To Advise Breitbart Board To Consider Ousting Steve Bannon

Filed under: General — Dana @ 7:32 am

[guest post by Dana]

Regardless of what you think about the ridiculous Bannon-Trump feud, and honestly I have a hard time caring about two bickering man-child narcissists who hold grandiose views of themselves and expect others to share those views, the internet is nonetheless going nuts over excerpts from Michael Wolff’s just released book “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” which looks at President Trump’s first year in office. The book includes derisive comments made about the president by former White House chief strategist and Breitbart chief executive Steve Bannon. Hence the feud, the cease and desist letter and threats of “imminent legal action” by the president’s lawyer. Also, as a result, Breitbart News board members are now trying to figure out how to solve a problem like Bannon:

[Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah Mercer] and other Breitbart News Network LLC board members on Thursday were debating whether to oust Mr. Bannon as chairman, with many supportive of the move, according to a person familiar with the exchanges. Among the considerations are Breitbart’s contractual relationships with other entities, including Sirius XM radio, that involve Mr. Bannon.

Staffers at Breitbart, which Mr. Bannon has called his “killing machine,” described a “chaotic” day at the company, with writers—many personally recruited by Mr. Bannon—wondering whether he would last the day.

In spite of the tit-for-tat jabs between Bannon and Trump and a kinder tone adopted by Bannon on Wednesday during a radio show, Bannon (and by extension, his populist movement) continues to lose support from big money donors, politicians and candidates:

“I support President Trump and the platform upon which he was elected,” Ms. Mercer said in the statement. “My family and I have not communicated with Steve Bannon in many months and have provided no financial support to his political agenda, nor do we support his recent actions and statements.”

Doug Deason, a Texas-based GOP donor who has said he admires Mr. Bannon as a “brilliant guy” who played a critical role in getting Mr. Trump elected, said the former chief strategist’s ego has gotten the better of him. He said that would likely doom him with donors.

“He doesn’t have any credibility out there with anyone in the big donor class,” Mr. Deason said. “If you support the president, you can’t support Steve Bannon. Anyone who was even considering giving him money—I can’t imagine they would do that now.”

Indeed, Dan Eberhart, a GOP donor and chief executive of a Colorado-based drilling services company, said he is rethinking plans to back Mr. Bannon’s political projects.

“If he’s not President Trump’s wingman on the outside, I really don’t know what Steve Bannon’s constituency is,” Mr. Eberhart said.

Candidates who very recently touted Mr. Bannon’s support have begun distancing themselves, including Arizona Republican Senate candidate Kelli Ward, who appeared with Mr. Bannon at a campaign rally in October.

“Steve Bannon is only one of the many high-profile endorsements Dr. Ward has received,” said Ward spokesman Zachery Henry, who declined to comment on whether she would welcome another campaign visit by Mr. Bannon.

Bannon-backed candidates are being pushed by their opponents to disavow him.

Rep. Evan Jenkins, who is running for the Senate GOP nomination in West Virginia, called on his rival Attorney General Pat Morrisey to “immediately disavow Bannon’s support.”

Morrisey spokeswoman Nachama Soloveichik put out a statement emphasizing the candidate’s support for the president over his alliance with Mr. Bannon, saying he “does not support these attacks on President Trump and his family.”

However, what I find most troubling about all of this is Sarah Huckabee Sanders using her position as White House press secretary to advocate that an organization consider removing its executive chairman for comments made in a new book that she labeled “complete fantasy” and “tabloid gossip.”:

Michael Bender (WSJ): Should Breitbart part ways with Steve Bannon after the comments in these books?

Sarah Huckabee Sanders (WH): I certainly think that it’s something that they should look at and consider

Breitbart is not a governmental entity. It is not answerable to anyone other than its board members. Do we really believe it is the press secretary’s job to stand at her podium, where she is representing the president, and opine that a private company should consider getting rid of an executive because he offended her boss? How is this appropriate? It’s problematic when an administration does not wisely decline to answer such a leading question. Consider, too, if Breitbart decides to keep Bannon on board, does the White House then cut off the media outlet off for defying its wishes? Is the organization publicly shamed at the next press conference, and how might that impact their numbers? This is the Trump administration after all, and Trump is known to hold grudges, keep score, and not let any personal slights roll off his back. Regardless of what one thinks of the Breitbart organization today, how is it the business of White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders to advocate one way or another regarding the firing of anyone?

Note: The logical follow-up question to Sanders should have been, “What’s the supposed firing offense?,” but it wasn’t asked. However, this sounds like a perfectly fitting response for this administration:

What’s the supposed firing offense? Slamming the president’s son and son-in-law for being a pair of morons when they met with that Russian lawyer for dirt on Hillary? “Treasonous” was an overstatement, but whatever. It was Bannon’s opinion. Thinking he should lose his job for holding an opinion critical of Team Trump makes sense only if you view pro-Trump media as de facto White House spokesmen — which, I’m sure, is exactly how Trump and Sanders do view them. It *is* a firing offense for a PR flack to badmouth his or her employer. Trump’s not Bannon’s employer and increasingly he’s not even a good mouthpiece for Bannon’s ideology but he expects absolute loyalty from allies and associated media hacks. Bannon denied him that and now it’s only fair and right that Bannon lose everything, starting with the site he built into an Internet juggernaut.

–Dana


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