Patterico's Pontifications

8/14/2018

Would Trump Survive a Tape Saying He Said the N-Word?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:53 am

Why not? His survival abilities go beyond “cockroach level” to “Keith Richards level.” Trump will be the guy standing around smirking after Armageddon while Keith Richards lies dying of radiation poisoning.

Anyway. The fact that Omarosa said it means nothing. The fact that Katrina Pierson seems to acknowledge, on tape, that Trump admitted he said it? That’s…not nothing.

“I’m trying to find out at least what context it was used in, to help us maybe try to figure out a way to spin it,” a woman, identified as Pierson by Manigault Newman, said on the tape.

“I said, ‘Well, sir, can you think of any time this might have happened?’ and he said ‘No,'” Patton said, according to the tape, to which Manigault Newman replied, “Well, that’s not true.”

“He goes, ‘How do you think I should handle it?’ and I told him exactly what you just said, Omarosa,” Patton continued, “which is ‘Well, it depends on what scenario you’re talking about.’ And he said, ‘Well, why don’t you just go ahead and put it to bed.'”

“He said it,” Pierson interjected. “No, he said it. He’s embar[r]assed.”

Who, exactly, is it going to offend? His most strident base? Pardon me while I emit a mordant chuckle. Ha. OK, I’m done.

I begged him to go with the radio edit. Begged him.

By the way, I finished Jonah Goldberg’s Suicide of the West. In the interim I also read Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness by William Styron (a short book), Free Will, by Sam Harris (a very short book and, unfortunately, not particularly recommended), and have begun How to Change Your Mind, by Michael Pollan. (Weird topic for the last one, but listen to Pollan’s EconTalk interview with Russ Roberts.) In my last roundup of books I have recently read or am reading, I forgot to add Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety, by Eric Schlosser, a monumental history of America’s nuclear program and its vulnerability to accident and human error.

Given how absurd our politics is, reading books makes more and more sense these days. I’ll probably start rolling out some reviews in the next few days, because I’m pretty much disgusted with everything else.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

8/13/2018

White House Reality Show Drama, Episode 415 or Something…

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:37 am

[guest post by Dana]

More drama this weekend involving only the best people in the White House. Former Trump-reality-star-turned-former-Trump-White-House-aide, the contentious Omarosa Manigault Newman released a secret recording on Sunday’s Meet the Press of a meeting at which chief of staff John Kelly informed her that she was being dismissed:

Manigault Newman cites this as a threat:

KELLY: I think it’s important to understand that if we make this a friendly departure, we can all be, you know, we can look at your time here in the White House as a year of service to the nation. And then you can go on without any type of difficulty in the future relative to your reputation.

Aside from the serious ethical breach of having taped a meeting from what was once believed to be the most secure location in the West Wing – the Situation Room – there is the question of whether any laws were broken. You can read some varying opinions here:

Josh Geltzer, who was a senior director for counterterrorism in Obama’s NSC, told me: “Bringing a recording device into a secure facility like the SitRoom is wildly in violation of protocol. Devices like that represent vulnerabilities that hostile actors can exploit to hear sensitive conversations — that’s why they’re kept out so strictly in the first place.”

Former Obama NSC spokesman Ned Price: The Situation Room “is the inner sanctum within an already-secure facility where the most sensitive of the most sensitive information is discussed. It’s where negotiations with Iran were hashed out. It’s where contingency plans for nuclear launches have been developed. The fact that she was recording a conversation in there really raises alarm bells in the minds of people who have worked in that room. … It’s a system based on honor and integrity, and there’s a sign outside that says, ‘Place your phones here.'”

Lawfare Executive Editor Susan Hennessy: “I actually didn’t realize Omarosa didn’t hold any kind of security clearance. That makes it hard to understand why they were in Situation Room but also means it is far less than ‘likely’ that she violated federal law as opposed to just breaking dozens of rules and regulations.”

Further, after Manigault Newman’s termination, she recorded a phone call with President Trump , in which he appears to not have had any knowledge about her dismissal. Of course, it’s good to keep in mind that we are dealing with two highly-skilled, and well-practiced reality show liars:

Omarosa Manigault Newman, the former “Apprentice” contestant who became a White House aide, has provided an audio recording that she says is from 2017 and on which President Donald Trump expresses surprise that she’d been fired from his administration.

The tape, which was played exclusively Monday on “Today” and sparked a harsh attack from Trump on Newman, just hours later, appears to show the president having no idea that Newman had been dismissed by his chief of staff, John Kelly.

“Omarosa? Omarosa what’s going on? I just saw on the news that you’re thinking about leaving? What happened?” Trump is heard saying on the tape, which Newman said was made one day after her termination in December 2017 when Trump called her.

Newman responds, “General Kelly — General Kelly came to me and said that you guys wanted me to leave.”

“No…I, I, Nobody even told me about it,” Trump replies.

Newman then says, “Wow,” before Trump reiterates his shock.

“You know they run a big operation, but I didn’t know it,” Trump is heard saying on the tape. “I didn’t know that. Goddamn it. I don’t love you leaving at all.”

Keep in mind, too, this latest drama started on Friday, when excerpts from Manigault Newman’s tell-all book alleged that she heard Trump use the N-word before he became President Trump, and other racial slurs once he was in office. However, no recording has been released to substantiate these claims. Yet.

And of course it’s unsurprising that President Trump was on Twitter defending himself at all costs and slamming Manigault Newman in light of her reveals, because in a bizarre and incoherent way, the mercurial man-child is utterly consistent in his predictability:

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Wow. Who wants a crap sandwich first thing on a Monday morning? This guy already knew who Manigault Newman was, and had already “fired her” three times. Yes, from a reality show, but because he cites it as reflecting poorly on her character, I will use it to say that if he already knew what she was about, why would he give her access to the most powerful office in the world and the current president? He hired her knowing full well what she was about. And he approved! If the President of the United States believed it wise to give such a “wacky, not smart, and vicious lowlife” the kind of access he did because she said GREAT things about him, then cried and begged, (and according to her, she had more access to Trump than just about anyone else in the White House), then that tells us all we need to know about him. And it’s not good. President Trump owns this mess, from top to bottom, without exception. It’s clear to see that he was unable to recognize spectacularly awful character when it was standing right in front of him. But perhaps that is because, seen through his personal lens, he believed her character, or lack thereof, something both admirable in its familiarity, and that which could be useful to him as well.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

–Dana

8/12/2018

Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 84

Filed under: Bach Cantatas,General,Music — Patterico @ 12:23 am

It is the twelfth Sunday after Pentecost. The title of today’s Bach cantata is “Ich bin vergnügt mit meinem Glücke” (I am content with my fortune).

Today’s Gospel reading is John 6:35, 41-51.

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

. . . .

At this the Jews there began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”

“Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day. It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me. No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

The text of today’s piece is available here. It contains these words:

I eat my little bit of bread with joy
and heartily leave to my neighbor his own.
A peaceful conscience, a happy spirit,
a thankful heart, that gives praise and thanks,
increases its blessing, sweetens its need.

In the sweat of my brow
I will meanwhile enjoy my bread,
and when my life’s course,
the evening of my life, is concluded,
then God will hand out the pennies to me,
then heaven will stand open.

Happy listening!

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

8/10/2018

West Virginia Moves to Impeach Its Entire Supreme Court

Filed under: General — JVW @ 2:56 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Well now, this is the first I have heard of this: legislators in West Virginia are set to vote on articles of impeachment for their entire remaining state supreme court. Let’s turn to Fox News for the details:

The [state’s House Judiciary] [C]ommittee filed 14 articles of impeachment against the four judges on Tuesday, and they will now go to the full House of Delegates for a vote.

The articles allege the justices – Chief Justice Margaret Workman and Justices Allen Loughry, Robin Davis and Elizabeth Walker – have engaged in corruption, incompetency, neglect of duty, maladministration and certain high crimes.

The justices are also accused of “wasteful spending of taxpayer funds on lavish office renovations,” using public vehicles for personal matters and creating a plan to pay certain senior judges more than is lawful, the committee said.

[. . . ]

Aside from the articles of impeachment, Loughry was previously suspended for allegedly repeatedly lying about using his office for personal gain. He pleaded not guilty in federal court in June to multiple counts involving alleged fraud.

His trial is expected to begin in early October. If convicted, he faces up to 395 years in prison and $5.5 million in fines.

[. . . ]

Normally, West Virginia has five Supreme Court justices who are elected to serve a 12-year term, NPR reported.

However, Menis E. Ketchum resigned from the state Supreme Court in July after he was accused of alleged federal wire fraud. He pleaded guilty to a felony charge of defrauding the state and faces up to 20 years in prison, according to WSAZ-TV.

West Virginia Democrats are skeptical of this action, believing it has largely been undertaken in order to allow Republican Governor Jim Justice to replace the four jurists (the one who resigned will be replaced in the November election). Justices for the Supreme Court of Appeals in the Mountaineer State are elected to twelve-year terms. Justices Workman (term expires in 2020) and Davis (term expires in 2024) are both Democrats; Justice Loughry (term expires in 2024) is a Republican; and Justice Walker (term expires in 2028) was elected with no party preference, though she had previously run as a Republican. Former Justice Ketchum, whose term was set to expire in 2020, was elected as a Democrat.

The articles of impeachment are spelled out here. Loughry comes off the worst in them, as noted in the Fox article, while the other three are accused largely of wasting taxpayer money on their offices with Davis and Workman also standing accused of agreeing to overpay semi-retired judges on senior status. It appears that Walker is kind of caught up in the maelstrom, with the only complaint against her being wasting money on office renovations, which would seem like small potatoes in the state that celebrates the wasteful spending of Senator Robert Byrd. A local media source, WV MetroNews, reports that the sums spent for office renovations range from over $500,000 by Chief Justice Davis to a little over $110,000 by Justice Workman. It’s worth noting that the optics of this lavish spending look pretty bad in light of a two-week strike for higher wages by the state’s teachers this past spring.

The issue of these justices’ continued employment will be brought to the WV House chamber on Monday. On the one hand, I find impeachment and removal to be a very serious matter, especially when the legislative branch targets the judicial branch. On the other hand, we’ve had plenty of examples of judges who operate as if they are accountable to nothing other than their own whims and desires, so every once in a while it is probably good to let them know that they can’t just get away with everything all of the time.

– JVW

Ben Shapiro And Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: The Debate That Never Was Going To Happen (UPDATE ADDED)

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:58 am

[guest post by Dana]

So, this happened, and I’m not even sure I really care but it seems to be a thing now. Let me just say, I think that there should be far more public debates happening between candidates in political races, at all levels, than is currently happening. More coming straight from the horse’s mouth, and less from the watered-down, invested media on both sides of the aisle. It also seems to me that a viable candidate worth their salt would jump at any opportunity to personally convince voters that they are indeed worth that voter’s nod.

With that, a young, very inexperienced, self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist who is running for Congress in a heavily-Democratic district in New York made the unfortunate claim a few weeks ago after a satirical video of her was posted, that “Republicans are so scared of me that they’re faking videos and presenting them as real on Facebook because they can’t deal with reality anymore”. In the following weeks, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez unfortunately also revealed her clear lack of understanding about economics, how government works and the specifics of her proposed policies as she made one absurd claim after another. So many of them, in fact, that even the Washington Post’s Glenn Kesssler was unable to ignore her eyebrow-raising claims.

As Ocasio-Cortez threw down the gauntlet and made her foolish claims, conservative pundit Ben Shapiro politely invited the new media darling of the left to appear on his show and have a “real conversation” about the issues:

Miss Ocasio-Cortez, I’m really excited that you’ve been elevated to that position and I would love to have a real conversation with you about the issues. You’ve noted that you think Republicans are afraid to debate you or talk to you or discuss the issues with you.

Not only am I eager to discuss the issues with you, I’m willing to offer $10,000 to your campaign, today, for you to come on our Sunday special. We can have an hour-long conversation about all the topics under the sun, really probe your belief system.

Fair enough, it would seem. But not to Ocasio-Cortez, who responded by embarrassingly asserting that his offer was akin to some sort of sexual harassment:

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Ugh. To make an assertion of sexism is not a well thought-out response, and is instead a painfully manipulative and calculated response that has the potential to help diminish viable claims of actual sexual harassment. This is not what women on either side of the aisle need. It’s a disingenuous political ploy that is easily seen through. Further, if Ocasio-Cortez really didn’t believe she owed Shapiro a response, then why on earth did she? Why not just ignore him? After all, he’s not a politician running for office, he’s not anyone who can further her cause. Why even acknowledge his existence? Someone needs to set this girl straight. She is shooting herself in the foot every time she opens her mouth. And as I have always maintained, the most unattractive look a woman can wear is the look of desperation. And to me, her painfully calculated response wreaks of it. Obviously, under the surface of embarrassing bravado, she and her handlers know that Shapiro would call each of her claims into account and that she would not be up to the task of facing such a direct challenge, let alone coherently defending her positions. This is the very definition of being out of one’s depth. Part of me feels sorry for her because she is clearly young and inexperienced, and not well informed. Yet she is an adult, who willingly stepped into the brutal ring of politics to become the future of the progressive Democratic party, and who happily grants interviews to friendly media outlets and appears regularly on cable television. So this is hers to own.

On a side note, while Ocasio-Cortez is certainly not obligated to debate anyone, if she compares Shapiro’s offer to debate with “catcalling,” what does say about conservative women who have asked her to debate them instead?

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

UPDATE: I’m just going to leave this here:

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–Dana

8/9/2018

Let’s Just Be Grateful The Weekend Is At Hand [Updated]

Filed under: General — Dana @ 6:08 pm

[guest post by Dana]

He’s not kidding:.

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Blast off!

President Donald Trump’s campaign wants to start selling a new Space Force themed line of merchandise, and they are soliciting votes on which design to use.

In an email to supporters sent out this afternoon, the Trump Make America Great Again Committee asked their supporters to vote for their favorite Space Force logo design. The campaign gave six different options to choose from.

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More fun from the “emerging star of the insurgent left”:

And how about some more of Jim “we’re not supposed to be the story but I keep trying anyway” Acosta:

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( Skydash via MoMo)

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(Federalist Musket via MoMo)

Grab your adult beverage of choice, and put up your feet. You’ve made it through another week. Cheers!

UPDATE by JVW: Dana overlooked my favorite one.
Joe-Jim
(Matt’s Idea Shop via Twitter)

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

–Dana

Soldiers And Press As Protectors?

Filed under: General — Dana @ 7:44 am

[guest post by Dana]

A few days ago, an op-ed writer, University of Notre Dame management professor Joseph Holt defended CNN’s preening Jim Acosta (and by extension, the press at large), who complained about Trump supporters treatment of him at a rally last week. Not content to let the issue of the president’s condemnation of the press stand, Acosta asked Sarah Sanders to clarify whether the president truly believes that the press is indeed the “enemy of the people”. When Sanders declined to answer directly, Acosta left the presser in anger.

Here is the transcript of the exchange:

QUESTION: I just wanted to follow up on a — on Sarah’s question from NPR. She asked you about Ivanka Trump’s statement the press is not the enemy of the people, and she asked you whether or not the press is the enemy of the people. You read off a laundry list of your concerns about the press, and then things that you feel like are misreported. But you did not say that the press is not the enemy of the people, and I — I — I think it would be a good thing if you were to say right here at this briefing that the press, the people who are gathered in this room right now, are doing their jobs every day, asking questions of officials like the ones you brought forward earlier, are not the enemy of the people. I — I — I think we — we deserve that.

SANDERS: I think the president has made his position known. I also think it’s ironic…

QUESTION: (inaudible) you mind telling us — Sarah, if you don’t — OK, well, if…

SANDERS: I’m — I’m trying to answer your question. I — I’ve politely waited, and I even called on you, despite the fact that you interrupted me while calling on your colleague. I said it’s ironic…

QUESTION: Well, you (inaudible) which is why I interrupted.

SANDERS: I’m trying…

QUESTION: But if you — if you finish — if you would not mind letting me have a follow-up, that would be fine, but…

SANDERS: It’s ironic, Jim (ph), that not only you and the media attack the president for his rhetoric, when they frequently lower the level of conversation in this country. Repeatedly — repeatedly, the media resorts to personal attacks without any content other than to incite anger.

The media has attacked me personally on a number of occasions, including your own network; said I should be harassed as a life sentence, that I should be choked. ICE officials are not welcomed in their place of worship, and personal information is shared on the Internet. When I was hosted by the Correspondent’s Association, of which almost all of you are members of, you brought a comedian up to attack my appearance, and call me a traitor to my own gender.

QUESTION: (inaudible)

SANDERS: In fact, as I know, as far as I know, I’m the first press secretary in the history of the United States that’s required Secret Service protection.

QUESTION: No, that’s not what I said. People (inaudible)

SANDERS: The media continues to ratchet up the verbal assault against the president and everyone in this administration. And certainly, we have a role to play, but the media has a role to play for the discourse in this country, as well.

QUESTION: And — and Sarah, if you don’t mind, if I — if — hold on.

(CROSSTALK)

If I may follow up — if I may follow up — excuse me. You did not say in the course of those remarks that you just made, that the press is not the enemy of the people. Are we to take it, from what you just said — we all get put through the wringer. We all get put in the meat grinder in this town, and you’re no exception, and I’m sorry that that happened to you. I wish that that — that had not happened.

But for — for the sake of this — this room, the people who are in this room, this democracy, this country, all the people around the world are watching what you’re saying, Sarah, and the White House for the United States of America, the president of the United States should not refer to us is the enemy of the people. His own daughter acknowledges that, and all I’m asking you to do, Sarah, is to acknowledge that right now and right here.

SANDERS: I — I — I appreciate your passion. I share it. I’ve addressed this question. I’ve addressed my personal feelings. I’m here to speak on behalf of the president. He’s made his comments clear.

Holt, in his essay, makes a concerted effort to defend the press and convince readers of its (and Acosta’s) important place in our society:

Journalists are uniquely qualified to perform that vital role of discovering truth and combating falsehood. They have the unique skills, training and resources required; the courage and commitment needed; and an obligation under a demanding code of journalistic ethics to be responsible for the accuracy and fairness of their statements in a way that other sources of news and opinions not bound by the code — including a President who impressively averages 7.6 mistruths a day — are not.

To which I say, meh. I don’t care about the wounded feelings of Jim Acosta, the wounded pride of President Trump, or the sick, symbiotic relationship in which the press and the White House find themselves willingly entangled. As I’ve noted before, both entities happily used one another when it served their specific purposes. They greedily fed off the other. And as a result, each saw their individual agendas met: CNN’s ratings went through the roof as they gave Trump gobs of airtime, and Trump was gifted with lots of free airtime to blather, and ironically, now sits in the Oval Office condemning the very entity who helped get him there, while those who helped get him there condemn him in turn. Win-win! They deserve each other. In the worst way possible.

Anyway, what I wanted to focus on was Holt’s comparison made at the end of his effort to convince us of the media’s worthiness, because they, like soldiers, are our protectors:

We thank soldiers for their service because they devote themselves to protecting our freedoms, and we should. But we should also thank the media for the same reason — especially when the stakes have never been higher.

While Holt received an avalanche of criticism for equating journalists with soldiers, Brian Flood over at Fox News gave Holt the benefit of he doubt:

While the professor’s final paragraph sent readers flocking to mock it on social media, it appears Holt meant to acknowledge simply that reporters are doing a service with little-to-no recognition. Despite being labeled an opinion piece, the backlash to his over-the top comparison was harsh at times.

Maybe that was Holt’s intention. I don’t know. To be honest, the whiny Acosta, Sanders’ stubborn digging in, and Holt’s ambiguous statement of defense have caused me to focus on a real journalist who wrote about real soldiers while on the front lines with them in a very real war: Ernie Pyle. Pyle spent years embedded with troops, facing many of the same dangers they did from any number of theaters and from the trenches. And while in danger, Pyle managed to write column after column about the soldiers he saw doing their jobs under extraordinary circumstances so the people back home could know the unvarnished truth of what their loved ones were doing for them and for country. As a result of his commitment to telling their stories and chronicling the war, Pyle met his death on Ie Island when he was hit by Japanese machine gun-fire.

In his eloquently titled column, “The God-Damn Infantry,” Pyle wrote:

IN THE FRONT LINES BEFORE MATEUR, NORTHERN TUNISIA, May 2, 1943

We’re now with an infantry outfit that has battled ceaselessly for four days and nights.

This northern warfare has been in the mountains. You don’t ride much anymore. It is walking and climbing and crawling country. The mountains aren’t big, but they are constant. They are largely treeless. They are easy to defend and bitter to take. But we are taking them.

The Germans lie on the back slope of every ridge, deeply dug into foxholes. In front of them the fields and pastures are hideous with thousands of hidden mines. The forward slopes are left open, untenanted, and if the Americans tried to scale these slopes they would be murdered wholesale in an inferno of machine-gun crossfire plus mortars and grenades.

Consequently we don’t do it that way. We have fallen back to the old warfare of first pulverizing the enemy with artillery, then sweeping around the ends of the hill with infantry and taking them from the sides and behind.

I’ve written before how the big guns crack and roar almost constantly throughout the day and night. They lay a screen ahead of our troops. By magnificent shooting they drop shells on the back slopes. By means of shells timed to burst in the air a few feet from the ground, they get the Germans even in their foxholes. Our troops have found that the Germans dig foxholes down and then under, trying to get cover from the shell bursts that shower death from above.

Now to the infantry – the God-damned infantry, as they like to call themselves.

I love the infantry because they are the underdogs. They are the mud-rain-frost-and-wind boys. They have no comforts, and they even learn to live without the necessities. And in the end they are the guys that wars can’t be won without.

I wish you could see just one of the ineradicable pictures I have in my mind today. In this particular picture I am sitting among clumps of sword-grass on a steep and rocky hillside that we have just taken. We are looking out over a vast rolling country to the rear.

A narrow path comes like a ribbon over a hill miles away, down a long slope, across a creek, up a slope and over another hill.

All along the length of this ribbon there is now a thin line of men. For four days and nights they have fought hard, eaten little, washed none, and slept hardly at all. Their nights have been violent with attack, fright, butchery, and their days sleepless and miserable with the crash of artillery.

The men are walking. They are fifty feet apart, for dispersal. Their walk is slow, for they are dead weary, as you can tell even when looking at them from behind. Every line and sag of their bodies speaks their inhuman exhaustion.

On their shoulders and backs they carry heavy steel tripods, machine-gun barrels, leaden boxes of ammunition. Their feet seem to sink into the ground from the overload they are bearing.

They don’t slouch. It is the terrible deliberation of each step that spells out their appalling tiredness. Their faces are black and unshaven. They are young men, but the grime and whiskers and exhaustion make them look middle-aged.

In their eyes as they pass is not hatred, not excitement, not despair, not the tonic of their victory – there is just the simple expression of being here as though they had been here doing this forever, and nothing else.

The line moves on, but it never ends. All afternoon men keep coming round the hill and vanishing eventually over the horizon. It is one long tired line of antlike men.

There is an agony in your heart and you almost feel ashamed to look at them. They are just guys from Broadway and Main Street, but you wouldn’t remember them. They are too far away now. They are too tired. Their world can never be known to you, but if you could see them just once, just for an instant, you would know that no matter how hard people work back home they are not keeping pace with these infantrymen in Tunisia.

None of this remotely reminds me of Jim Acosta, et al. Not the soldiers and their relentless determination and steadfast courage, and certainly not Ernie Pyle himself. Not one goddamn bit.

–Dana

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

8/8/2018

Hollywood Leftists Throw a Bone to the Yokels in Flyover Country

Filed under: General — JVW @ 7:37 pm

[guest post by JVW]

The Motion Picture Academy of America, the folks who bring you the cringeworthy orgy of self-congratulation known as the Academy Awards Ceremony, have announced plans to institute a new “Best Popular Picture” Oscar at some as-of-yet undetermined time down the road. This would of course allow Star Wars: Revenge of the Merchandising Division and Avengers 6: Everybody Gets Rich to win awards that otherwise go to arthouse films with arch titles such as The Nothingness of Everything or Snails: an Unexpected Pansexual Love Story. The creation of a popular picture category is a pretty obvious ploy to address the awards show’s declining television ratings while ignoring the two larger reasons for the decline, namely the penchant of the Hollywood elite to nominate movies that appeal to whatever social justice diktat is in vogue and their obnoxious insistence on hectoring us with their putrid politics from the awards podium. Somehow I still don’t envision the average American movie viewer being willing to sit through three hours of televised drek just for that moment when The Fantastic Four Versus the Justice League: This Time Shit’s for Real collects its statue.

This move has already elicited howls of derision from just about everyone with special scorn coming from the progressive gentry and the artsy-fartsy left in particular. This decision is already evoking memories of the move nearly a decade ago to expand the number of best picture nominees from five to a more robust ten, which ostensibly was about getting some of the box office smashes into the mix. But given the plunging ratings for the show, one can’t help but see this new category as a typically ham-fisted measure from the entertainment elite to try to broaden their appeal to people for whom they largely hold a non-unsubstantial measure of contempt. Under the theory that no one in Tucumcari or Cedar Rapids or Allentown wants to see if the tender coming-of-age story of a schoolboy being seduced by a young adult wins out over a Cold War allegory pertaining to our present-day treatment of immigrants or the timely and inspiring story of plucky newspaper people vexing a Republican administration, the Academy will now throw a bone to the unwashed rubes by letting some special effects bonanza — you know, the kind of movie that you actually pay to see in the movie theater rather than waiting until it is available on Netflix — have a moment of glory. That is of course after the show host, likely chosen because he or she fully represents an iron-clad commitment to the trendy progressive politics of wealthy airheads, has finished a hearty round of woke virtue signaling from deep within the entertainment bubble.

One last interesting tidbit: the article announcing the new categories also mentions that starting in 2020 the Oscars will be moved up a couple of weeks on the calendar to February 9. That is exactly one week after the NFL’s giant trademarked game, so on consecutive February Sundays we will have the most overhyped and ridiculous sports spectacle followed by the most overhyped and ridiculous showbiz spectacle. I guess I will be free to make other plans both of those evenings if anybody would like to go bowling or sing barbershop quartet.

– JVW

Everybody Is Going Insane

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:59 am

Many Republicans think Donald Trump should be able to shut down the media:

All told, 43 percent of self-identified Republicans said that they believed “the president should have the authority to close news outlets engaged in bad behavior.” Only 36 percent disagreed with that statement. When asked if Trump should close down specific outlets, including CNN, The Washington Post, and The New York Times, nearly a quarter of Republicans (23 percent) agreed and 49 percent disagreed.

Meanwhile, CNN publishes an opinion piece from a woman who wants to treat hate speech as a form of “terrorism”:

The stripping of InfoWars from Facebook, Apple and other platforms is an important step in the recognition of nativist, nationalist and white supremacist hate speech as a form of terrorism.

In the aftermath of the decision of various service providers to stop carrying InfoWars content, there are many who will say that this represents an unprecedented affront to free speech and First Amendment rights. As a Muslim-American who has seen the detestable anti-Muslim propaganda of InfoWars content replicated across the worldwide web and popularized via Apple, Spotify and others, I know nothing could be farther from the truth.

I tend to think terrorism is the purest form of terrorism. I guess she disagrees.

Coming full circle: we don’t shut down CNN for publishing stupid opinions like that. We mock them. That’s how it’s done.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

8/7/2018

Facebook Bans Alex Jones for the Wrong Reasons

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:57 am

Alex Jones is the fella who said Sandy Hook was a hoax. I do not care if private companies like Facebook don’t want such obvious libel and slander on their sites. But as David French argues in the New York Times, social media is banning him for a different reason, and it’s not a good idea:

So on Monday, when Apple, Facebook and YouTube acted — in seemingly coordinated fashion — to remove the vast bulk of Mr. Jones’s content from their sites, there’s no cause for worry, right? After all, this was an act of necessary public hygiene. A terrible human being who has no regard for truth or decency is finally getting what he deserves.

Would that it were that simple.

There are reasons to be deeply concerned that the tech companies banned Alex Jones. In short, the problem isn’t exactly what they did, it’s why they did it.

Rather than applying objective standards that resonate with American law and American traditions of respect for free speech and the marketplace of ideas, the companies applied subjective standards that are subject to considerable abuse. Apple said it “does not tolerate hate speech.” Facebook accused Mr. Jones of violating policies against “glorifying violence” or using “dehumanizing language to describe people who are transgender, Muslims and immigrants.” YouTube accused Mr. Jones of violating policies against “hate speech and harassment.”

These policies sound good on first reading, but they are extraordinarily vague. We live in times when the slightest deviation from the latest and ever-changing social justice style guide is deemed bigoted and, yes, “dehumanizing.” We live in a world where the Southern Poverty Law Center, a formerly respected civil-rights organization, abuses its past trust to label a host of mainstream organizations (including my former employer, the Alliance Defending Freedom) and individuals as “hate groups,” “white nationalists” or “anti-Muslim extremists,” based sometimes on disagreements about theology or sexual morality or sometimes on outright misreadings and misrepresentations of an individual’s beliefs and views.

Exhibit A of how wrong the center has been: In June, it paid Maajid Nawaz $3.375 million for labeling him an “anti-Muslim extremist.” This is rich, considered Mr. Nawaz is a former Islamist turned Muslim reformer.

Maajod Nawaz is the co-author, with Sam Harris, of a book I recently read and recommend: Islam and the Future of Tolerance: A Dialogue. Nawaz is no more an anti-Muslim extremist than I am an alt-right Trumpalo. Nawaz is part of the solution: a Muslim actively trying to rid Islam of Islamism and extremism. He’s the very guy that critics of Islam are always clamoring for: where are the people condemning extremism from within? But to the same New York Times in which French writes, the SPLC is still an Authority. And the New York Times will use the concept of hate speech in a one-sided fashion: employing an anti-white racist on their editorial page even as they cite an SPLC that denounces reformers like Nawaz as extremists.

French says: sure, get rid of Alex Jones for his slander. Not his “hate speech.” That’s how First Amendment jurisprudence deals with bad actors, and while it’s not required for private companies, it’s a good model.

What I don’t agree with is the “let’s terrorize them with government” approach that even Ted Cruz has taken lately, suggesting that we break up the big social media companies because they’re big. Like it or not, they’re successful because people like them and use them. Don’t take away freedom of choice just because the companies are predictably leftist in their bent. Criticize and compete. That’s the American way.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

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