Patterico's Pontifications

4/15/2014

Sharyl Attkisson: Other Reporters Are Being Shut Down Just Like I Was

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:17 pm

Sharyl Attkisson announced tonight that she was going to answer a few questions on Twitter. She responded to each one in the same format: a one-word summary of the question, followed by the Twitter handle of the person to whom she was responding, followed by a pithy answer.

I managed to get in one question before she left, and I thought I would share the question and answer with y’all. First my question:

Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 8.07.52 PM

and her response:

Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 8.08.05 PM

For background, see this post.

There are more stories like hers. Count on it.

VP Joe Biden Gives Rousing Speech in Boston

Filed under: General — JD @ 3:46 pm

[guest post by JD]

He is just so smart. We are so lucky to have people like him in charge.

RickLeventhalFoxNews ✔ @RickLeventhal
VP Biden: “my god, u have survived & u have soared. it was worth, it was worth it. i mean this sincerely, just to hear each of u speak.”

—JD

Cliven Bundy: Open Thread

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:37 am

I’m busy at work and know nothing about this situation, so let me turn over the mike to John Hinderaker:

First, it must be admitted that legally, Bundy doesn’t have a leg to stand on. The Bureau of Land Management has been charging him grazing fees since the early 1990s, which he has refused to pay. Further, BLM has issued orders limiting the area on which Bundy’s cows can graze and the number that can graze, and Bundy has ignored those directives. As a result, BLM has sued Bundy twice in federal court, and won both cases. In the second, more recent action, Bundy’s defense is that the federal government doesn’t own the land in question and therefore has no authority to regulate grazing. That simply isn’t right; the land, like most of Nevada, is federally owned. Bundy is representing himself, of necessity: no lawyer could make that argument.

That being the case, why does Bundy deserve our sympathy? To begin with, his family has been ranching on the acres at issue since the late 19th century. They and other settlers were induced to come to Nevada in part by the federal government’s promise that they would be able to graze their cattle on adjacent government-owned land. For many years they did so, with no limitations or fees. The Bundy family was ranching in southern Nevada long before the BLM came into existence.

Over the last two or three decades, the Bureau has squeezed the ranchers in southern Nevada by limiting the acres on which their cattle can graze, reducing the number of cattle that can be on federal land, and charging grazing fees for the ever-diminishing privilege. The effect of these restrictions has been to drive the ranchers out of business. Formerly, there were dozens of ranches in the area where Bundy operates. Now, his ranch is the only one. When Bundy refused to pay grazing fees beginning in around 1993, he said something to the effect of, they are supposed to be charging me a fee for managing the land and all they are doing is trying to manage me out of business. Why should I pay them for that?

Bundy appears to be arguing that he need not pay grazing fees because the state never gave the land to the federal government, or something like that. (Hinderaker says that an astonishing 80% of Nevada is federally owned.) Allahpundit’s post on this quotes the Nevada constitution on this point, and it seems to say otherwise:

Third. That the people inhabiting said territory do agree and declare, that they forever disclaim all right and title to the unappropriated public lands lying within said territory, and that the same shall be and remain at the sole and entire disposition of the United States;

Indeed, the Nevada constitution seems fairly clear and obsequious regarding the point of federal supremacy:

Sec: 2.  Purpose of government; paramount allegiance to United States.  All political power is inherent in the people[.] Government is instituted for the protection, security and benefit of the people; and they have the right to alter or reform the same whenever the public good may require it. But the Paramount Allegiance of every citizen is due to the Federal Government in the exercise of all its Constitutional powers as the same have been or may be defined by the Supreme Court of the United States; and no power exists in the people of this or any other State of the Federal Union to dissolve their connection therewith or perform any act tending to impair[,] subvert, or resist the Supreme Authority of the government of the United States. The Constitution of the United States confers full power on the Federal Government to maintain and Perpetuate its existance [existence], and whensoever any portion of the States, or people thereof attempt to secede from the Federal Union, or forcibly resist the Execution of its laws, the Federal Government may, by warrant of the Constitution, employ armed force in compelling obedience to its Authority.

I think Section 3 provides that the citizens of Nevada will pick up the feds’ dry cleaning whenever needed.

The Nevada constitution was ratified during the War Between the States, if that provides any context for the bowing and scraping evident in the passage above.

Anyway, consider this an open thread on this situation. Maybe commenters who have read about it can shed some light.

To Stigmatize Or Not

Filed under: General — Dana @ 6:32 am

[guest by Dana]

Over at The Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf posts an interesting and compelling defense of traditional marriage from a self-described 23-year-old African-American college student and a strong Christian who believes in the Biblical definition of marriage. The young woman is tired of critics equating her to an anti-black racist.

Keep in mind that one day this 23-year-old African-American female college graduate might become an executive at a successful company, or perhaps even become the face of the company. Should there be an expectation for her to step down? Are we at the point where a person of faith (resulting in a now seeming unacceptable moral view), should be disqualified from professional advancement? Should there be a political and moral vetting done *before* any advancement or promotion to the executive level …just to make sure? Would an African-American woman be accused of bigotry in this situation? Should society stigmatize her as a bigot and punish her professionally for her expressed views and beliefs?

I realize the general issue was discussed on Patterico’s Mozilla thread, however, because I found the young woman’s correspondence so compelling in its thought and clarity, I wanted to share it with readers.

Personal opinion: I am not in favor of gay marriage. There are a lot of people who do support it, and I have read and heard their opinions so many times. I am aware of the fact that many of them think that if someone does not approve of gay marriage, that means they are a bigoted person who hates anyone who is different from them. This is a gigantic misconception and it’s absolutely crucial that this misconception is erased, because it’s overwhelming. Sure, there are some traditional marriage supporters who do dislike gay people. They imagine the idea of themselves kissing a person of the same sex, and that’s gross to them because they don’t have those attractions, so they see gay people and automatically think “gross,” “strange,” etc. I wish they would calm down with the knee-jerk reaction and understand that gay people are not some kind of strange, alternate, not-quite-human species. Gay people are just people. I don’t see gay people as different; I see them as fellow human beings who happen to have different feelings and different opinions than I have.

“Opinions” is key there. It’s not just that gay people have different feelings of attraction. They also have different opinions than I have on what marriage is and where it came from. Gay people, and straight people who support gay marriage, believe that marriage is something created by humankind. Government does play a big role in marriage, after all. (And like I said earlier, I’m not sure that’s a good idea.) However, I have a different opinion. I believe that God, who created all people, has His own intention for what marriage is supposed to be. I believe He deliberately created two inherently different, non-interchangeable types of humans so that one of each could permanently join together and start a family. In both Testaments, the Bible mentions that homosexual behavior is a sin- and in more places than I have room to mention, the Bible shows pictures of marriage, romance, and sex as things that are all wrapped up in God’s amazing design … and His design was intended for couples made up of one of each sex. My point is that when I say I am not in favor of gay marriage, I’m not trying to create my own definition of marriage based on what I do and do not think is “gross,” and based on which groups of people I do or do not “hate.” All of that is a misconception. The reality is that I am trying to show others God’s picture.

When I say “homosexual behavior is a sin,” people who react with “that’s hateful” don’t understand what sin is and why it’s important to speak out against it. My belief is that sin is anything that goes against God’s design and His rules. People who don’t believe in sin obviously do not see anything wrong with homosexual behavior and they don’t know why people like me speak out against it, so their reasoning is that what I say must come from hatred.

But if I hated all sinners, I’d hate myself.

There are lots of sins that exist, and in fact, everyone in the whole world has sinned. When either side of the gay marriage debate focuses only on homosexuality, they miss the bigger picture. I hope that non-Christians understand that the reason we Christians openly voice our opposition to sin is that our desire to be forgiven of our own sins is the reason we became Christians in the first place. We see sin as something that separates us from God, and we see Jesus as the one who took the punishment for our sins and saved us.

We can’t be silent about that; we must tell other people. We can’t explain who Jesus is and why His death is so important without also explaining what sin is.

Everyone sins. Everyone has an innate desire to sin, unfortunately. Some people’s innate desire is for homosexuality. I understand when gay people say that they can’t help having those feelings. I understand that hearing “you can change if you pray and try hard over time” is extremely difficult. Maybe we Christians haven’t talked enough about how we believe that everyone is a work in progress, including ourselves. Whoever chooses to believe in the Biblical definition of sin is choosing a sometimes difficult life of putting God ahead of themselves and their own desires.

I don’t want to give the impression that it’s only gay people who must learn to control their desires, and straight people are okay. I’m sorry for all the times that Christians have given that impression. Like I said before, I see gay people as people. They are just people who sin in a different way than I do.

My beliefs don’t come from hatred and an arrogant desire to feel superior. And many traditional marriage supporters have beliefs similar to mine. Yes, there are hateful traditional marriage supporters, but there are also traditional supporters who sincerely do not hate at all. Yes, we try to convince others to believe what we believe, but that’s because our beliefs are so important to us that we feel it would be wrong and clique-like to keep them only to ourselves. I wish that more gay marriage supporters would not automatically think of us as “hateful bigots” who are trying to “brainwash” other people into believing what we believe simply for the sake of becoming one of us, to add to our numbers and to make us feel superior. It’s not about us.

It’s about God.

I’m not trying to be mean to gay people. I instead want to reach out to gay people, and all other people. Let’s agree to talk to each other politely, and respectfully disagree about our different beliefs.

–Dana

4/14/2014

Monday Amusement

Filed under: General — JD @ 8:50 am

[guest post by JD]

The boyfriend in this video is kind of a dick, but she gets scared so easily it is hard not to laugh.

#WarOnWomynz

—JD

UPDATE BY PATTERICO: What a loser this guy is.

UPDATE x2: Of course, like everything else on the Internet, this could be a giant hoax –and the woman could be in on it.

Guy’s still a loser.

Sharyl Attkisson Speaks of “Chilling Effect” from Obama Administration Leaning on CBS News Executives

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:45 am

Worth watching in its entirety:

Ed Morrissey:

Attkisson told Kurtz that the White House would pressure her to change or drop her reporting, and when that didn’t work, they worked her bosses instead. Kurtz asked how this differed from the “working the refs” actions that go on all the time in Washington, and Attkisson says that it went too far. “It’s just a lot of obfuscation, accusations, saying things are ‘phony scandals,’ ‘bogus,’ ‘not real,’ giving misinformation and false information. I mean, that’s provably true in some cases.”

She also speaks of working to get sources to go on the record, only to let the source down when the risk they took going public leads to no story.

And the oppression still goes on.

Tom Woods’s Liberty Classroom

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:20 am

I am busy the next few days, and blogging time will be short or nil. Luckily, Dana and JD are around, so if anything, the average quality of posts should improve.

I do want to mention something that is rather time-sensitive. I have mentioned that I have been listening to Tom Woods a lot lately. I discovered Woods when he guest-hosted on the radio program of Peter Schiff, famous for predicting the collapse of the real estate bubble as talking heads laughed at him.

Woods is an incredibly entertaining and engaging speaker who is devoted to libertarian ideas, which means that 90% of the time he is awesome, and 10% of the time (when talking about criminal justice issues or foreign policy) he sounds like he is coming from another planet. Still, that 90% is pretty darn good stuff. He is a clear expositor of Austrian economics and constitutional principles. I am making my way through several books of his right now, including Rollback, The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History, and (with Kevin Gutzman) Who Killed the Constitution? The books are fantastic; I learn something on almost every page. And his podcast is a must-listen.

If you enjoyed Woods’s presentation in the zombie video I have embedded here in a couple of posts, you’ll enjoy him. This is that video:

So, what’s time-sensitive? Well, Woods has a project called Liberty Classroom which has a series of video and audio lectures on topics such as U.S. History, Austrian economics, Keynesianism and its shortcomings, and Basic Logic. I balked at it for a while, because my time is limited, and the cost was $99 a year. He would occasionally reduce it to $67, but even that wasn’t quite good enough.

Recently he announced a short-term deal for $50 a year, and I took the leap. I have now downloaded nine separate courses as zip files, which can be uploaded to iTunes and stuck on your iPhone. During my commute to and from home, or as I am folding laundry, I can be learning about the Spanish American War, or the division of labor, or how John Marshall twisted the original meaning of the Constitution to further Federalist ends.

It’s basically a sort of adult continuing education — definitely from a libertarian perspective, so don’t do it if that sort of thing offends you — and it allows me to learn things I should already know in my spare time.

You can sign up here if you’re interested. This link is an affiliate link, which means I get an astounding $30 of the $50 you will be paying. (It seems unfair, frankly, that I should get such a large share of this relatively paltry sum, but this is the way Woods has set it up. Live by the free market, die by the free market, pal!) So if you ever felt like donating $30 to Patterico, for a mere extra $20 ($50 total) you can get access to these courses for a year. Actually, because you can download them, you can get access to them for as long as you keep the files in your iTunes library.

To get the $50 deal, you simply enter “discount” as the coupon code.

I was skeptical about this at first, but after a few days it’s hard to imagine my day without it. Again: it’s not for everyone. People who are strong constitutionalists and have an interest in the free market and Austrian economics are going to get more out of it than others. But it’s a heck of a lot of fun for me, and the deal isn’t going to last forever. I think he may be running it for the whole month of April, but no guarantees.

Anyway, I’m not pushing this hard or anything, but I have gotten enough enjoyment out of it that I would be tickled if a handful of you checked it out and got the same kind of pleasure from it that I have. Even if you don’t, my blogging is likely to be affected by what I learn, so you’ll all be getting some of this stuff by proxy in the coming weeks and months. And if you don’t sign up for Liberty Classroom, at least check out some of Woods’s podcasts.

If you’re like me, you may want to check out some of the free samples they have available before you take the plunge. You can do so here (also an affiliate link). Here is one of the excerpts from the free page, in which Woods talks about Theodore Roosevelt and the Progressive Era:

Again: this isn’t the kind of thing I usually sit around and watch on your computer; I much prefer to listen in my car or as I am doing chores. Still, this video gives you a pretty good feel of the style and content. If you don’t like this video, the site may not be for you. If you do, check it out. I think you’ll be glad you did.

4/13/2014

The GOP In Sin City

Filed under: General — Dana @ 2:12 pm

[guest post by Dana]

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As the GOP is currently considering holding its 2016 convention in Las Vegas, the religious right faction of the party is concerned about the party’s image being tarnished. After all, they don’t call it Sin City for nothin’.

What if the Christian delegates display an inability to exercise self-control when exposed to prostitution, strip clubs, and various other temptations? It could result in the MSM taking advantage of the opportunity to smear the party – including video manipulations, innuendo, and out-of-context reporting. However, shouldn’t we be far more concerned about our elected officials’ inability to exercise self control while in office, rather than John and Jane Delegate living it up for a few days? After all, Family Values!

Here are a few excerpts from social-conservative leaders’ letter to Republican Party Chairman Reince Preibus citing concerns about Las Vegas potentially hosting the 2016 GOP convention:

“In spite of ‘family-friendly’ outreach in the past decade, Las Vegas remains a metaphor for all things decadent. And looking at the yellow pages, one can see that it still delivers. With 64 pages of escort services and countless gambling casinos, it remains a trap waiting to ensnare.”

“At a time when the base needs to be motivated, this is no time to mute or offend them in any way. It may seem strange, silly even to some that conservatives would object to something that COULD be so innocuous. Surely there are shows and great restaurants and beautiful hotels. … What could possible go wrong? The answer is obvious, and wisdom dictates the chance not be taken.”

“There are several wonderful venues being considered. We are not advocating for any of them. But we urge you to reject Las Vegas and celebrate the vibrancy and strength of the Republican Party in a place not at odds with its values.”

The other concern is the possible appearance of the GOP cosying up to billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who donated nearly $100 million to GOP candidates and causes in 2012. After all, a suggested obeisance to one of the party’s biggest donors would be a dream come true for Harry Reid. Oh. Wait. Harry Reid and his side don’t care if it’s real, perceived, or flat out made up – they will smear no matter what.

From Red State,

It is embarrassing. A party that is trying to show it represents Main Street, not Wall Street, and the middle class, not the American aristocracy, should not put itself in a position where all the news stories suggest they want a convention in Vegas to placate a donor.

What a conundrum. How awful it would be if there was a perception that the GOP showed favor toward a big donor, or if some adult participants took Sin City literally. Because neither of these things has ever happened before, right?

If the GOP is so at odds over where to hold their convention, one doesn’t have much hope that they will be any less at odds over the more pressing issues that divide the party and have a direct impact on voters: budget, economy, jobs, massive debt, Obamacare, foreign policy, and government reform. And, if the GOP is so concerned with the optics of Las Vegas and the possible bad behavior of adults, they might be smart to first consider the optics of patronizing and infantilizing party members – especially in light of the more serious conflicts the party currently wrestles with.

“Ooh, Las Vegas, every time I hit your crystal city, I know you’re gonna make a wreck out of me.”

–Dana

UPDATE BY PATTERICO: Excellent post. I would like to chime in with this apropos musical reference:

Having An Honest Conversation Requires Being Honest

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:14 am

[guest post by Dana]

Today, Ross Douthat addresses the lack of honesty that permeates the cloudy justifications from both Mozilla and Brandeis University.

What’s particularly interesting about this column are the comments generated. A great number of them exemplify, without the slightest hint of self-awareness, the point Douthat closes with: I can live with the progressivism. It’s the lying that gets toxic.

EARLIER this year, a column by a Harvard undergraduate named Sandra Y. L. Korn briefly achieved escape velocity from the Ivy League bubble, thanks to its daring view of how universities should approach academic freedom.

Korn proposed that such freedom was dated and destructive, and that a doctrine of “academic justice” should prevail instead. No more, she wrote, should Harvard permit its faculty to engage in “research promoting or justifying oppression” or produce work tainted by “racism, sexism, and heterosexism.” Instead, academic culture should conform to left-wing ideas of the good, beautiful and true, and decline as a matter of principle “to put up with research that counters our goals.”

No higher-up at Harvard endorsed her argument, of course. But its honesty of purpose made an instructive contrast to the institutional statements put out in the immediate aftermath of two recent controversies — the resignation of the Mozilla Foundation’s C.E.O., Brendan Eich, and the withdrawal, by Brandeis University, of the honorary degree it had promised to the human rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

In both cases, Mozilla and Brandeis, there was a striking difference between the clarity of what had actually happened and the evasiveness of the official responses to the events. Eich stepped down rather than recant his past support for the view that one man and one woman makes a marriage; Hirsi Ali’s invitation was withdrawn because of her sweeping criticisms of Islamic culture. But neither the phrase “marriage” nor the word “Islam” appeared in the initial statements Mozilla and Brandeis released.

Instead, the Mozilla statement rambled in the language of inclusion: “Our organizational culture reflects diversity and inclusiveness. … Our culture of openness extends to encouraging staff and community to share their beliefs and opinions. …”

The statement on Hirsi Ali was slightly more direct, saying that “her past statements … are inconsistent with Brandeis University’s core values.” But it never specified what those statements or those values might be — and then it fell back, too, on pieties about diversity: “In the spirit of free expression that has defined Brandeis University throughout its history, Ms. Hirsi Ali is welcome to join us on campus in the future to engage in a dialogue about these important issues.”

What both cases illustrate, with their fuzzy rhetoric masking ideological pressure, is a serious moral defect at the heart of elite culture in America.

The defect, crucially, is not this culture’s bias against social conservatives, or its discomfort with stinging attacks on non-Western religions. Rather, it’s the refusal to admit — to others, and to itself — that these biases fundamentally trump the commitment to “free expression” or “diversity” affirmed in mission statements and news releases.

This refusal, this self-deception, means that we have far too many powerful communities (corporate, academic, journalistic) that are simultaneously dogmatic and dishonest about it — that promise diversity but only as the left defines it, that fill their ranks with ideologues and then claim to stand athwart bias and misinformation, that speak the language of pluralism while presiding over communities that resemble the beau ideal of Sandra Y. L. Korn.

Harvard itself is a perfect example of this pattern: As Patrick Deneen of Notre Dame pointed out when the column was making waves, Korn could only come up with one contemporary example of a Harvardian voice that ought to be silenced — “a single conservative octogenarian,” the political philosophy professor Harvey Mansfield. Her call for censorship, Deneen concluded, “is at this point almost wholly unnecessary, since there are nearly no conservatives to be found at Harvard.”

I am (or try to be) a partisan of pluralism, which requires respecting Mozilla’s right to have a C.E.O. whose politics fit the climate of Silicon Valley, and Brandeis’s right to rescind degrees as it sees fit, and Harvard’s freedom to be essentially a two-worldview community, with a campus shared uneasily by progressives and corporate neoliberals, and a small corner reserved for token reactionary cranks.

But this respect is difficult to maintain when these institutions will not admit that this is what is going on. Instead, we have the pretense of universality — the insistence that the post-Eich Mozilla is open to all ideas, the invocations of the “spirit of free expression” from a school that’s kicking a controversial speaker off the stage.

And with the pretense, increasingly, comes a dismissive attitude toward those institutions — mostly religious — that do acknowledge their own dogmas and commitments, and ask for the freedom to embody them and live them out.

It would be a far, far better thing if Harvard and Brandeis and Mozilla would simply say, explicitly, that they are as ideologically progressive as Notre Dame is Catholic or B. Y.U. is Mormon or Chick-fil-A is evangelical, and that they intend to run their institution according to those lights.

I can live with the progressivism. It’s the lying that gets toxic.

–Dana

4/12/2014

The Price Of Fear And Ignorance

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:34 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Greg Schiller, a highly regarded teacher who teaches Advanced Placement biology and psychology as well as regular and honors biology in Los Angeles Unified School District, has been suspended pending further investigation.

From the Los Angeles Times,

Students and parents have rallied around Greg Schiller after his suspension in February from the downtown Cortines School of Visual & Performing Arts. Supporters have organized a rally on his behalf at the campus for Thursday, gathered hundreds of signatures on a petition calling for his reinstatement and set up a social media page

Schiller was ordered to report daily to a district administrative office pending an investigation after two students turned in science-fair projects that were designed to shoot small projectiles.

One project used compressed air to propel a small object but it was not connected to a source of air pressure, so it could not have been fired.

Ironically, “in 2012, President Obama tried out a more powerful air-pressure device at a White House Science Fair that could launch a marshmallow 175 feet.”

Further,

Another project used the power from an AA battery to charge a tube surrounded by a coil. When the ninth-grader proposed it, Schiller told him to be more scientific, to construct and test different coils and to draw graphs and conduct additional analysis, said his parents, who also are Los Angeles teachers.

A school employee saw the air-pressure project and raised concerns about what looked to her like a weapon, according to the teachers union and supporters. Schiller, who said he never saw the completed projects except in photos, was summoned and sent home. Both projects were confiscated as “evidence,” said Susan Ferguson, whose son did the coil.

L.A. Unified School District administrators have told Schiller that he was removed from his classroom for “supervising the building, research and development of imitation weapons,” said union representative Roger Scott.

At this point in time it would appear that a serious teacher is being punished while another employee’s fear and ignorance are being rewarded. One hopes common sense prevails as this is certainly not the lesson one wants to see young people taught.

–Dana

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