Archive for the 'Civil Liberties' Category
Posted by Sgt. Mom on 27th December 2016 (All posts by Sgt. Mom)
Hail, thou ever blessed morn,
Hail redemption’s happy dawn,
Sing through all Jerusalem,
Christ is born in Bethlehem.
Edward Caswall, 1858 – Hymn for Christmas Day (Also known as See Amid the Winter Snow)
I have a deep and abiding fondness for certain choral music; Christmas carols or even sort-of-Christmas carols, especially the English ones which weren’t part of my growing-up-Lutheran tradition. That tradition tended more towards the Germanic side of the scale, save for hymns by the Wesleys and Isaac Watts. The English Victorians … sufficient to say that a lot of such hymns and carols were pretty ghastly as poetry, music and theology combined, but time has done some sifting out and the best of them usually turn up in seasonal presentations like the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from Kings’ College, Cambridge. I make a point of listening to the BBC broadcast of it, every year on Christmas Eve morning. I’ve become so very fond of some carols I’ve heard through that broadcast that I’ve made a point of searching out YouTube recordings of them to post on my various websites. All In the Bleak Midwinter is one, Once in David’s Royal City is another – and See Amid the Winter Snow is another still. (Link here) I’ve replayed the video so often in the last few days, I have finally learned the melody by heart … and the chorus haunts me this particular Christmas. Sing through all Jerusalem, Christ is born in Bethlehem!
It’s not just that the UN has resolved, in the face of an abstention by the US, to back a claim by the Palestinians to Jerusalem, or that a Jewish infant born in Bethlehem these days might be a hate crime in progress according to pro-Palestine activists. Once a town largely Christian, most local Christians have been chased out, just as Jews and Christians have been from practically everywhere else in the Islamic world. Well, that’s the Middle East for you, everywhere outside of Israel. The ethnic-cleansing of everyone but Muslims of whatever flavor goes on, unabated in the Middle East accompanied by a chorus of indifference sung by the Western ruling class, who seem intent on an Olympic-qualification level of virtue-signaling.
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Posted in Christianity, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Current Events, Europe, France, Germany, Holidays, Immigration, Islam, Middle East, Religion, Terrorism | 50 Comments »
Posted by Jonathan on 6th November 2016 (All posts by Jonathan)
J. E. Dyer:
Conservatism itself is paralyzed by the nervous moral fear induced in people by cultural Marxism – which has been meant from the beginning to undermine moral confidence at the most basic level. Conservatism’s problem isn’t Donald Trump. Conservatism’s problem is that Donald Trump isn’t paralyzed by the guilt-mongering of cultural Marxism – but conservatism is.
The answer is not for conservatism to insist that nothing move out there, until we decide what forms of paralysis will continue to suit us. The answer is that conservatives must fearlessly reclaim the necessary social concepts of authority and common expectations, and start producing results.
Posted in Anti-Americanism, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Conservatism, Culture, Current Events, Education, Elections, Law Enforcement, Leftism, Obama, Political Philosophy, Politics, Quotations, Trump | 8 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 5th November 2016 (All posts by David Foster)
Sebastian Haffner, whose memoir I reviewed here, describes what happened to his father–a civil servant under both Weimar and the Kaiser–following the Nazi takeover. The elder Haffner, long-since retired, had considerable accomplishments to his credit: “There had been great pieces of legislation in his administrative area, on which he had worked closely. They were important, daring, thoughtful, intellectual achievements, the fruits of decades of experience and years of intense, meticulous analysis and dedicated refinement”–and it was extremely painful to him to see this work ruthlessly trashed by the new government. But worse was to come.
One day Mr Haffner received an official letter. It required him to list all of the political parties, organizations, and associations to which he had ever belonged in his life and to sign a declaration that he ‘stood behind the government of national uprising without reservations.’ Failure to sign would mean the loss of his pension, which he had earned through 45 years of devoted service.
After agonizing about it for several days, he finally filled out the form, signed the declaration, and took it to the mailbox before he could change his mind.
“He had hardly sat down at his desk again when he jumped up and began to vomit convulsively. For two or three days he was unable to eat or keep down any food. It was the beginning of a hunger strike by his body, which killed him cruelly and painfully two years later.”
Haffner Senior was retired; he would surely have no chance for other employment if he crossed the new regime. He could either violate his convictions and sign the document, or sentence his wife and himself to total impoverishment and possibly actual starvation.
As recently as 10 years ago, it would have seemed unlikely that any American would have to face Mr Haffner’s dilemma. But things have changed. If current trends continue, it is very likely that YOU will have to foreswear your beliefs or face career and financial devastation.
Plenty of markers along this dark path are already visible. Things are worst in academia, it seems. At Yale, lecturer Erika Christakis resigned after being vitriolically attacked for suggesting that people not get all stressed up about Halloween costumes. Her husband, Nicholas, has also resigned from Yale. Ms Christakis says that many of those were intellectually supportive of the couple were afraid to make their support public: “Numerous professors, including those at Yale’s top-rated law school, contacted us personally to say that it was too risky to speak their minds. Others who generously supported us publicly were admonished by colleagues for vouching for our characters.”
Just the other day, I ran across this article, which uncomfortably parallels the Haffner story.
(Iowa State University) students are told that they must abide by the school’s policy against “harassment” of anyone in the university community. Students must complete a “training program” consisting of 118 slides online, covering the university’s non-harassment policies and procedures, and then pledge never to violate them.
But what if a student thinks that the ISU policy goes way beyond preventing true harassment and amounts to an abridgement of his rights under the First Amendment?
In that case, ISU reserves the right to withhold the student’s degree. So either the student agrees to abide by the policy even though it may well keep him from speaking out as he’d like to, or have his academic work go for naught.
Iowa State is going beyond ‘only’ requiring you to shut up about your opinions and will also require you to positively affirm beliefs which you may not share.
The attack on individuals’ careers and finances due to their political/philosophical beliefs is by no means limited to academia. There is the case of Brendan Eich, who was pushed out as CEO of Mozilla because of his personal support (in 2008) of a law which banned same-sex marriage in California. There are multiple cases of small businesspeople subjected to large fines because of their refusal to violate their convictions by baking a cake or providing other services for a same-sex wedding.
And don’t think that just because you support gay marriage…even if you support what you think is 100% of the ‘progressive’ worldview–that you are safe. Deviationism can always be found, as the Old Bolsheviks discovered during the time of Stalin. Northwestern University professor Laura Kipnis, herself a self-defined feminist, was investigated by the university after complaints were made about an essay she published under the title “Sexual Paranoia Strikes Academia.” Kipnis writes:
A tenured professor on my campus wrote about lying awake at night worrying that some stray remark of hers might lead to student complaints, social-media campaigns, eventual job loss, and her being unable to support her child. I’d thought she was exaggerating, but that was before I learned about the Title IX complaints against me.
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Posted in Civil Liberties, Elections, Germany, History, USA | 6 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 1st November 2016 (All posts by David Foster)
Makeup, mate choice, and political philosophy…an interesting piece by Sarah Hoyt.
Historical ignoramuses at American universities. A professor has been quizzing his students for 11 years concerning their knowledge of some basis fact, and the trend is not positive.
Crybullies at Smith College…a student reports:
During my first days at Smith, I witnessed countless conversations that consisted of one person telling the other that their opinion was wrong. The word “offensive” was almost always included in the reasoning. Within a few short weeks, members of my freshman class had quickly assimilated to this new way of non-thinking. They could soon detect a politically incorrect view and call the person out on their “mistake.” I began to voice my opinion less often to avoid being berated and judged by a community that claims to represent the free expression of ideas. I learned, along with every other student, to walk on eggshells for fear that I may say something “offensive.” That is the social norm here.
The dark art of political intimidation. A video by Kimberly Strassel.
Posted in Academia, Civil Liberties, Education, Human Behavior, Political Philosophy | 1 Comment »
Posted by Jay Manifold on 1st November 2016 (All posts by Jay Manifold)
One week out seems like a good time to put some stakes in the ground.
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Posted in Anti-Americanism, Christianity, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Current Events, Elections, History, Immigration, International Affairs, Israel, Libertarianism, National Security, Personal Narrative, Politics, Predictions, Society, Terrorism, Trump, USA | 20 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 26th October 2016 (All posts by David Foster)
I’ve been trying to figure out what common trait binds Clinton supporters together. As far as I can tell, the most unifying characteristic is a willingness to bully in all its forms.
If you have a Trump sign in your lawn, they will steal it.
If you have a Trump bumper sticker, they will deface your car.
if you speak of Trump at work you could get fired.
On social media, almost every message I get from a Clinton supporter is a bullying type of message. They insult. They try to shame. They label. And obviously they threaten my livelihood.
Only one presidential candidate has wielded the sledgehammer of government against personal enemies.
The spirit of totalitarianism is very strong among today’s Left, and you can expect that a Hillary Clinton presidency would unleash and encourage a broad spectrum of attacks against those who do not toe the line.
Posted in Civil Liberties, Elections, Leftism, USA | 43 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 19th October 2016 (All posts by David Foster)
Regulators retaliate against Tea Party activist for his free speech–and get away with it. People’s political views are being attacked by threatening their employment; there is more and more of this.
Various people in Silicon Valley and elsewhere are advocating a boycott of businesses in which Peter Thiel is involved because of his $1.25MM donation to the Trump campaign. Ellen Pao of ‘Project Include,’ a group which says it focuses on improving tech-industry opportunities for women and minorities, has already cut ties with the Y Combinator (startup incubator) because Thiel is a part-time partner there. Not very helpful to the people you are claiming to want to provide opportunities for, I’d say, Ms Pao.
Video has been released in which Democratic operatives admit to inciting violence at Trump rallies. According to this, one of the major players is Robert Creamer, co-founder of something called Democracy Partners. Creamer is the husband of Illinois Democratic Rep. Jan Schakowsky. He also has a guilty plea for financial fraud on his record, and has visited the White House 342 times since 2009.
Mary Grabar writes about her personal experience with the IRS persecution of conservatives.
At least 20 cars belonging to attendees at a Trump rally were vandalized in Bangor, Maine. There was also a recent fire-bombing of Republican office in North Carolina.
It’s not new news, but consider the continuing flood of heresy accusations–which can have serious consequences for the accused party’s career—on college campuses.
Obama has denounced what he calls the ‘Wild West’ media landscape and called for a ‘curating function’ on information distribution. (‘obviously not censorship,’ he adds.) See Mark Steyn’s response.
The Obama administration has called for ‘local intervention teams’ to ‘prevent the spread of violent ideologies.’ As Mary Grabar says: “ou can bet your sweet bippy that these “local intervention teams” will be guided by Madame President and that the focus will be on the “violent ideology” of tea partiers and Trumpeters.”
A Hillary Clinton presidency would mean the ceaseless tightening of the coils of the anti-free-speech python. Expect free expression outside of a defined (and ever-narrowing) box to be threatened by further politicization of regulatory agencies, threats against individuals’ employment, use of major media corporations (including blogging platforms) as part of the ‘extended government’–and direct mob action against dissident organizations and individual dissidents. Not to mention the continuation and reinforcement of anti-free-speech behavior and extreme political indoctrination in America’s institutions of higher education.
Posted in Civil Liberties, Elections, Leftism, USA | 14 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 13th October 2016 (All posts by David Foster)
When hiring someone for an important job, it is of course important to assess whether or not that person has the skills you think are necessary for doing the job well. But it’s important to also assess what they think are the important aspects of the job, and make sure these line up with what you think are the most important job factors. You want to know what they are ‘passionate’ about, to employ a currently-overused term.
And when hiring an executive, keep in mind that you are also likely gaining access to his network of former employees, customers, suppliers, consulting firms, etc. A similar but even more powerful dynamic plays out in politics, as Daniel Henninger of the WSJ reminds us:
A recurring campaign theme of this column has been that the celebrifying of our presidential candidate obscures the reality that we are not just just electing one famous person. We will be voting into power an entire political party, which has consequences for the country’s political direction no matter what these candidates say or promise.
By that measure, there is a reason not to turn over the job of fighting global terrorism to the Democrats. They don’t want it.
So, what are they key aspects of the Presidential job that needs to be done over the next four years, and how do the candidates and their beliefs about what is important stack up against those factors? Here’s my list..
The suppression of radical Islamic terrorism. Henninger is completely correct: the Democrats don’t want this job. Henninger notes that during a House hearing in 2005, Guantanamo Bay was denounced (almost entirely by Democrats, I am sure) as ‘the Gulag of our times.’ Whereas GOP Congressman Mike Pence correctly responded that the comparison was ‘anti-historical, irresponsible and the type of rhetoric that endangers American lives.’
Henninger continues: ‘Dahir Adan invoked Allah while stabbing his way through the Minneapolis mall. Both Mrs Clinton and President Obama consistently accuse their opponents of waging a war on all practitioners of the Islamic religion. Presumably, if instead we were being attached by Martians, they’d say any criticism of Martians was only alienating us from all the People on Mars. The problem is we aren’t getting killed by Martians or Peruvians or Finns but by men and women yelling ‘Allah Akbar’…Virtually all Democratic politicians refuse to make this crucial distinction.’
The protection of free expression. As long as we have free speech and a free press, there is a possibility that our array of problems can be solved. But once this crucial feedback connection is cut, problems of all kinds are likely to compound themselves until catastrophe happens.
Remember, Hillary Clinton’s response to the Benghazi murders was to blame them on an American filmmaker exercising his Constitutional rights, and to threaten to have him arrested. Which threat she was indeed able to carry into execution.
And note that Hillary Clinton’s Democratic Party is closely aligned with the forces on college campuses which are creating a real nightmare for anyone–student or professor–who dissents from the ‘progressive’ orthodoxy or who even demonstrates a normal sense of humor.
There is a very strong tendency among Democrats to call for the forcible government suppression of political dissidents, and to carry this belief into action when they can get away with it: the witch-hunt in Wisconsin and the IRS persecution of conservative organizations and individuals being only two of many examples. More here.
Trump is by no means ideal on this metric: he is thin-skinned and has shown himself to be very litigious. But he is far preferable from a free-expression standpoint to Clinton and the forces that she represents.
Economic growth. Clinton herself would surely like to see economic growth, if only for political reasons. But there is in the Democratic Party a very strong strain that believes America is too wealthy, that our people have too many luxuries, that we need to be taken down a peg. I have even seen attacks by ‘progressives’ on the existence of air conditioning. The Democrats are generally willing to sacrifice economic growth on the altar of environmental extremism and to serve their trial-lawyer clients. Sexual politics represents another cause for which growth is readily sacrificed by Democrats–remember when Obama’s ‘shovel-ready’ stimulus package was first mooted, there was an outcry from left-leaning feminist groups concerned that it would be too focused on ‘jobs for burly men.’
And whatever her ‘small business plan’ may be in her latest policy statement, Hillary has an underlying dismissiveness to those small businesses–the vast majority of them—that do not enjoy venture capital funding. Remember her remark, when told back in the Bill Clinton administration, that aspects of her proposed healthcare plan would be destructive to small businesses? Her response was: “I can’t be responsible for every undercapitalized small business in America.” No one was asking her to be responsible for them, of course; only to refrain from wantonly destroying them.
It is important to note that many of the top Democratic constituencies don’t really need to care, on a personal level, about economic growth. Tenured academics have salaries and benefit packages which are largely decoupled from the larger economy. Hedge-fund managers often believe they can make money as readily in a down market as an up market. Many if not most lawyers are more dependent for their incomes on the legal climate than the economy. Very wealthy individuals may care more about social signaling than about money per se, given that they already have so much of the latter. And the poor and demoralized will in many cases care more about transfer payments than about the growth of the economy.
Improving K-12 Education. Much of the nation’s public school system is a disaster. There is no chance that Hillary would would care enough about fixing this system, and preventing or at least mitigating its destruction of generation after generation, to be willing to take on the ‘blob’…the teachers’ unions, the ed schools…these being key Democratic constituencies. Also: the Democratic obsession with race/ethnicity has led to demands from the Administration that school disciplinary decisions must follow racial quotas. Policies such as this, which would surely continue under a Clinton administration, make it virtually impossible for schools to maintain a learning environment for those students who do want to learn.
The current state of K-12 education is a major inhibitor to social mobility in America. Anyone who claims to care about the fate of families locked into poverty, while at the same time supporting a Hillary Clinton presidency, is either kidding themselves or straight-out lying.
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Posted in Academia, China, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Economics & Finance, Elections, Politics, Russia, USA | 33 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 13th October 2016 (All posts by David Foster)
James O’Keefe of Project Veritas has been locked out of Twitter after posting videos said to expose Democratic Party electoral fraud and just before he was able to post additional videos on the same subject.
Here is the link to Project Veritas. I recommend posting it on any blogs for which you are a writer or commenter.
The degree of control of the national dialog which is enforced by the Democrats and their media operatives is getting very scary. It is still possible to bypass it, but for how much longer?
Posted in Civil Liberties, Elections, USA | 8 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 31st August 2016 (All posts by David Foster)
A teenage girl in the UK has killed herself, apparently because of fears that she would be branded ‘racist’ or ‘Islamophobic’ after sending a joke photograph as an Instagram message.
Never forget that Hillary Clinton is closely aligned with the ‘politically correct’ instigators and leaders of the kind of attack mobs..on-line and off-line…that this girl apparently feared.
And given the current state of things in the UK, her fear was probably not irrational, though her action certainly was. See this: police are investigating social media critics of planned refugee center.
“Although you may believe your message is acceptable, other people may take offence, and you could face a large fine up to two years in prison if your message is deemed to have broken the law” said an assistant chief constable.
And in Manchester, a Police Chief Inspector for Greater Manchester, himself a Muslim, indicated that, according to his understanding, “freedom of speech does not mean freedom of offending culture, religion or tradition”.
If you want people in the US to fear police visits as a result of ‘politically incorrect’ online communications or comments to friends, then you should do everything you can to help Hillary Clinton win the Presidency.
Posted in Britain, Civil Liberties, Islam, USA | 19 Comments »
Posted by TM Lutas on 29th August 2016 (All posts by TM Lutas)
Clemson University has stepped into controversy by enforcing its free speech zone on a clear case of religious expression. An off campus preacher came on campus to invite students to pray with him. This was shut down as a violation of the university policy requiring an approval process and limiting activity to free speech zones. Unfortunately for Clemson, what was going on was not solely free speech. It was free exercise of religion as well.
Clemson University’s overall rating of respect of individual rights in education is low. It is rated red by FIRE (its lowest rating) but not for its facility policy which is marked green (FIRE’s highest rating). According to a Clemson official in their media relations department, there is no restrictive policy on religious expression just like there is no restrictive policy on freedom of the press. So why is Clemson able to restrict religious expression but not journalism under their free speech zone policy?
At posting time, there is no answer.
Posted in Civil Liberties, Politics, Religion | 17 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 27th August 2016 (All posts by David Foster)
In Minneapolis, attendees at a Trump rally were attacked by a mob. Police were present, but no arrests were made.
There have been similar incidents at other Trump rallies; see for example this story from San Jose.
Meanwhile, establishment journalists and academics wring their hands about how dangerous Trump is, while mostly ignoring the danger to the democratic process driven by the destructive behavior of ‘progressive’ thugs…often enabled by winks and nods from ‘liberal’ government officials, who are all too happy to let them get away with it.
Too much more of this, and I may have to remove the question mark from the line: The United States of Weimar?
Posted in Civil Liberties, Elections, Leftism, Trump, USA | 16 Comments »
Posted by Sgt. Mom on 12th August 2016 (All posts by Sgt. Mom)
… Or as I used to refer to Hillary as “Her Inevitableness.” This was back in that campaign season of 2008, when she and the Fresh Prince of Chicago were going toe to toe. I called that contest “Ebony vs Ovary” and regret that such a pithy phrase never caught on in the blogosphere.
Anyway – bend over, for here she comes again, the woman whose main qualification for high office seems to have been in staying married to her horn-dog of a husband who coincidentally was the occupant of the White House three administrations ago. She does not appear to be particularly charming or charismatic, or to enjoy the company of other people, as her spouse did. She also doesn’t seem to have any facility for above-board political wheeling and dealing among parties or individuals of equal standing. She has, however, been very good at ruthlessly manipulating others from a position of strength, in the manner of a Mafia don. She has a long-standing reputation of treating no-name personnel who worked in the White House or the State Department – military, housekeeping staff, and members of the Secret Service – with rudeness and outright abuse. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Conservatism, Current Events, Leftism, Politics, Predictions, The Press, Trump | 22 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 11th August 2016 (All posts by David Foster)
Free speech…free expression generally…is under attack in America and throughout the Western world to a degree not seen in a long time. I think there are seven specific phenomena, incarnated in seven (partially-overlapping) categories of people, which are largely driving this attack, to wit:
The Thugs. As I pointed out in my recent post The United States of Weimar?, illegal actions against political opponents–ranging from theft of newspapers to direct assault and battery–have in recent decades become increasingly common on university campuses, and now are well on track to being normalized as aspects of national political campaigns.
The Assassins. These individuals go beyond the level of violence practiced by the Thugs, and make credible death threats…which they attempt to carry out…against those whose actions or believe they view as unacceptable. The majority of threats and attacks falling in this category have certainly been the doing of radical Muslims; however, some of the more extreme ‘environmentalist’ and ‘animal rights’ groups have also demonstrated Assassin tendencies. At present, however, it is those Assassins who are radical Muslims who have been most successful in inhibiting free expression. Four years in hiding for an American cartoonist.
The Wimps. It seems that among the younger generations in America, there are a disproportionate number of people whose ‘self-esteem’ has been raised to such lofty but brittle levels that they cannot stand any challenge to their belief systems. Hence they are eager to sacrifice their own freedom of speech, as well as that of others, on the altar of ‘safety’ from disturbing words and thoughts.
The Bureaucrats. Bureaucrats, especially in the universities but also increasingly in the private sector, are eager to provide the altars for the sacrifice of free speech, with Star Chamber proceedings and various forms of witch-burnings.
The Regulatory State. The vast expansion of Federal regulatory activities and authority enables a wide range of adverse actions to be taken against individuals without the checks and balances of normal judicial proceedings. Witness, for example, the IRS persecution of conservative-leaning organizations (possibly extended to pro-Israel organizations as well.) And the Bureaucrats in nominally-independent organizations are really often acting as agents and front men for the Regulatory State. (Consider the 2011 ‘Dear Colleague’ letter sent from the Department of Education to colleges and universities, regarding the handling of sexual assault allegations–which has had, the linked article argues, serious negative impact on free speech and due process.)
The Theoreticians. Various academics have developed the concept of ‘oppressive speech’ and have developed models which attempt to break down the distinction between speech and action. Since everyone agrees that actions must be regulated to some degree, this tends to pave the way for tightened regulation of speech. (I think the conflation of speech with action is particularly sellable to those who in their professional lives are Word People and/or Image People. To a farmer or a machinist or even an electrical engineer, the distinction between speech and action is pretty crisp. To a lawyer or an advertising person or to a professor (outside the hard sciences), maybe not so much. And the percentage of Word People and Image People in the overall population has grown greatly.)
The Fragility Feminists. Actually, the word ‘Feminists’ should probably be in quotes, because the argument these people are making is in many ways the direct opposite of that made by the original feminists. There is a significant movement, again especially on college campuses, asserting that women are such fragile flowers that they must be endlessly protected from words that might upset them. See the controversy over the name of the athletic center at the Colorado School of Mines…here I think we have the Bureaucrats and the Fragility Feminists making common cause, as they so often do. For another (and particularly bizarre) case, read about professor Laura Kipnis, whose essay decrying ‘sexual paranoia on campus’ resulted in a Title IX inquisition against her. In a particularly disturbing note, when Kipnis brought a ‘support person’ to her hearing, a Title IX complaint was filed against that person.
Posted in Academia, Big Government, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Deep Thoughts, Law, USA | 30 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 28th July 2016 (All posts by David Foster)
Almost every day, I see someone arguing that we shouldn’t worry about terrorism so much because your chances of being killed by a terrorist are less than your chances of being killed in an auto accident, or by slipping in the bathtub, or some such comparison. Barack Obama, according to The Atlantic, “frequently reminds his staff that terrorism takes far fewer lives in America than handguns, car accidents, and falls in bathtubs do.”
Indeed, this argument was even being made shortly after 9/11, even being made by people with obviously high intelligence and mathematical knowledge. Marvin Minsky, MIT professor and pioneer in the field of artificial intelligence, recommended scrapping “the whole ‘homeland defense’ thing” as “cost-ineffective.” According to the WSJ, Minsky calculates that the cost of preventing each terrorist-caused airplane fatality would be around $100MM, and that “we could save a thousand times as many lives at the same cost by various simple public-health measures.” Whatever one thinks about the performance of Homeland Security as an organization, as a matter of logic Minsky’s argument was just plain wrong, as are its present-day equivalents.
Calculations of probability must be based on assumptions about whether the rate at which some phenomenon is occurring is static or is subject to change. Based on the numbers of influenza in 1914, you might have concluded that you were not at material risk of dying from this disease. In 1918, things looked very different. The dynamics of the disease led to a very rapid increase in the probability of infection.
If the FAA receives some service difficulty reports indicating that cracks have appeared in the wing spars of a few aircraft that have reached about 10,000 hours in service…aircraft of this service level representing a small portion of the total production for this model…they’re not going to dismiss it with ‘well, no biggie’ and wait until substantial numbers of planes reach 15,000 hours or so and have the wing spars actually break in flight. They’re going to analyze the situation and quite likely issue an Airworthiness Directive against the aircraft, requiring inspections and remedial action.
The wing spar case is an example of a process in which the mere passage of time can change the probabilities of the adverse event occurring. The influenza case is an example of a malign positive feedback loop, i.e., a vicious circle–the more people become infected, the more other people they infect. Positive feedback loops tend to have exponential growth patterns until something stops them.
In the case of terrorism, it should be obvious that successful terror attacks act as encouragement for future acts of terror–definitely a positive feedback loop. Remember what Osama bin Laden said about people wanting to side with the ‘strong horse’? Moreover, terror attacks are demoralizing to the target country in a way in which random accidents are not. There has already been a chilling effect on free speech driven by the desire to avoid angering the Islamists.
Bookworm offered an interesting take on this topic:
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Current Events, Human Behavior, Islam, Terrorism | 27 Comments »
Posted by Trent Telenko on 15th July 2016 (All posts by Trent Telenko)
The headline at the Drudge Report says it all — MOHAMED AND HIS TRUCK.
A Tunisian born Muslim with French citizenship took a box truck and ran over hundreds during the annual French Bastille Day celebrations in NICE, Southern France.
The UK Daily mail article at this link —
…said that Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel drank alcohol, ate pork, chased women at night clubs, beat his wife and took drugs. He was a petty criminal, publicly violent, and possibly an informant for French police or internal security forces before he was turned into a suicide-murderer by those who he was spying on, according to David P. Goldman of the Asia Times.
See Goldman’s article titled:
WHY THE TERRORISTS ARE WINNING THE INTELLIGENCE WAR
The only thing of importance in all of this is the realization that the law enforcement and internal security forces in the West have lost control. No amount of law enforcement, electronic surveillance or gun control can prevent a suicide-murderer bent on religious self-immolation, and activated by the ongoing world wide social media incitement campaign(s), from killing dozens to hundreds.
What cannot go on, won’t.
Goldman suggests in his article that a General Sherman “March Through Georgia” style of collective punishment of Muslim civilian populations in the West can work to end this random death in the Western civilization’s life support.
The bottom line — as BREXIT proved — is that publics in Western democracies can and will replace elites that say nothing can be done, and that Western publics “…will have to accept more Muslim Mass Immigration & Terrorism, because… (insert P. C. excuse here)”.
Posted in Big Government, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Culture, Current Events, Europe, France, Islam, Law Enforcement, Leftism, National Security, Politics | 61 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 12th July 2016 (All posts by David Foster)
There is much political violence in the US these days, ranging from attacks on Trump rally attendees to protesters at those rallies being sucker-punched to the politically and racially-motivated murder of police officers in Dallas to the throwing of Molotov cocktails at police in the state of Minnesota (where the social climate was once characterized by the term ‘Minnesota nice’)—and there is every prospect that the violence will get worse as the political season moves into full swing. Indeed, it seems that political violence is in the process of being normalized in this country. To understand the roots of this malign phenomenon, I think it is important to look at what has been going on in America’s universities for the past decade and a half.
In 2002, a pro-Israel event at San Francisco State University was interrupted by ‘protestors’, screaming things like “go back to Russia!” and “get out or we will kill you!’ and shoving Hillel students against a wall. Laurie Zoloth, a campus Jewis leader “turned to the police and to every administrator I could find and asked them to remove the counter demonstrators from the Plaza, to maintain the separation of 100 feet that we had been promised. The police told me that they had been told not to arrest anyone, and that if they did, ‘it would start a riot.’ I told them that it already was a riot.”
“This is the Weimar Republic with Brownshirts it cannot control” is how Professor Zoloth summed up the situation on her campus.
This kind of Brownshirt behavior at an American university was by no means an isolated incident: there have been many, many cases of intimidation, vandalism, and outright violence being employed against campus groups and speakers which some people–those people being almost always self-defined ‘progressives’–do not like.
At St Cloud University in Minnesota, for example, the College Republicans had a kiosk supporting Israel, complete with Israeli flag. Two professors approached the booth and asserted that since the members of the group were not Jewish, they had no right to fly the Israeli flag! One of the professors told a students that she would break his camera if he took her picture, and then tried to grab the camera–also, according to this report, also grabbed the student by the neck and slammed him up against the wall. The university administration backed the professors, also asserting that non-Jews have no right to fly the Israeli flag. (The real issue, I’m pretty sure, wasn’t that the students were non-Jewish, but rather that they were Republican.)
At Yale in 2002, some students had set up a memorial to victims of a car bombing in Israel. The memorial was destroyed by vandals. A week earlier, at the same university, a petition opposing divestment (ie, withdrawal of pension fund investments from companies doing business in Israel) was defaced–in the law school.
Theft of newspapers containing unapproved viewpoints has become common at universities. In 2004, the entire press run of the Yale Free Press, a conservative publication, was stolen by people who did not want Yale students to be able to read the opinions contained therein.
In Florida in 2004, a social sciences instructor at a community college walked into local Republican headquarters and punched a cardboard cutout of George W Bush…and then, according to this report, also punched a Republican official in the face. The punchee reports that the assailant “proceeded to say how he had a Ph.D., and he was smarter than me. I’m a stupid Republican,” and other comments laced with obscenities.
In 2006, “Protestors” of the Brownshirt variety attempted to disrupt a scheduled speech by Congressman Tom Tancredo. The chairman of the campus organization that had sponsored the event was kicked and spat upon by some of the thugs, and the building fire alarms were pulled twice.
Also in 2006, at Columbia University, left-wing students distrupted a speech hosted by the College Republicans. Angry students stormed the stage, shouting and knocking over chairs and tables and succeeding in their intent to prevent Jim Gilchrist (founder of the anti-illegal-immigration group known as the Minuteman) from delivering his talk. Columbia Public Safety did nothing to prevent the disruption. Christopher Kulawik, the College Republican president, told The New York Sun he was berated afterward by Columbia University administrators for allowing the speakers to say anything that would infuriate the crowd.
A week later, Columbia administrators interfered with another event planned by the College Republicans. The scheduled speaker was Walid Shoebat, a former PLO terrorist who saw the error of his ways and is now a supporter of Israel and the U.S. Just 3 hours before the event was to take place, a Columbia administrator sent an e-mail uninviting many of those who had already RSVP’d for the event–some of whom were already in transit. Apparently, Columbia was afraid of a repetition of the earlier disruption, and preferred to deny legitimate attendees their right to hear Mr Shoebat speak, rather than to take effective action against thuggishness by beefing up security and expelling disrupters.
In 2008, Robert Spencer spoke at U Wisconsin-Madison, on the subject of the thread from jihad. He says:
I got off the phone a little while ago with one of the student organizers of my address tonight at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He told me that I would be led to and from the stage via secret passageway; that thirty security personnel would be on hand (in addition to my own); that attendees would have to pass through metal detectors; and that a bomb-sniffing dog would also be on hand…and also: The Rushdiean security precautions and these warnings were all necessary because of the fascist tactics of trying to intimidate and shout down opponents that students and others at UWM have employed in the past against speakers such as David Horowitz.
In 2003, former Israeli cabinet minister Natan Sharansky visited several US campuses:
When I got to Rutgers University in New Jersey last month, I almost forgot I was on a college campus. The atmosphere was far from the cool, button-down academic reserve typical of such institutions. It was more reminiscent of a battlefield…Things were not much calmer at Boston University: An anonymous bomb threat brought swarms of police to the lecture hall and almost forced a cancellation of my appearance. But here, too, some good resulted when the bomb threat caused the lecture to be moved to a larger hall, which was quickly filled with some 600 listeners who were unwilling to accept the violent silencing of pro-Israel views.
During a frank and friendly conversation with a group of Jewish students at Harvard University, one student admitted to me that she was afraid — afraid to express support for Israel, afraid to take part in pro-Israel organizations, afraid to be identified. The mood on campus had turned so anti-Israel that she was afraid that her open identification could cost her, damaging her grades and her academic future. That her professors, who control her final grades, were likely to view such activism unkindly, and that the risk was too great.
Having grown up in the communist Soviet Union, I am very familiar with this fear to express one’s opinions, with the need to hold the “correct opinions” in order to get ahead, with the reality that expressing support for Israel is a blot on one’s resume. But to find all these things at Harvard Business School? In a place that was supposed to be open, liberal, professional? At first I thought this must be an individual case, particular to this student. I thought her fears were exaggerated. But my conversations with other students at various universities made it clear that her feelings are widespread, that the situation on campuses in the United States and Canada is more serious than we think. And this is truly frightening.
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Posted in Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Current Events, Germany, History, Society, USA | 49 Comments »
Posted by Trent Telenko on 8th July 2016 (All posts by Trent Telenko)
Dallas just suffered the largest law enforcement mass murder since 9/11/2001. To date, there have been 14 people reported as shot, 12 law enforcement and two civilians. Five of the law enforcement offices who were shot have died. One Dallas Area Rapid Transit officer and four Dallas Police Department officers were murdered.
The murders occurred during a 7pm to 9pm Black Lives Matter associated protest (the association is disputed) in down town Dallas.
The chilling execution of a law enforcement officer was caught on digital video and broadcast by the Dallas Fox News affiliate whose vantage point is on the map below.
Google map of shooting area in downtown Dallas.
As I worked a few blocks away from the shooting scene until last week, this hits close to home.
The usual caveats about you cannot trust any reports — other than the casualty count — in the first 24 hours apply. These seem to be the best reports to date:
Dallas mass shooting is the deadliest attack on law enforcement since 9/11
.‘He wanted to kill white people, especially white officers’: Police kill sniper after twelve cops were shot – and FIVE killed – during furious nationwide protests over U.S. police shootings of two black men that ended in a four hour stand-off
‘Shots fired, shots fired, officer down’: Videos show the shocking moment all hell broke loose during deadly Black Lives Matter protest in downtown Dallas
Terrifying moment brave cop’s bullet bounces off armored vest of Dallas gunman who then shoots the officer in the back before executing him at point-blank range with assault rifle
There may be updates as events require.
The Dallas EOD robot- bomb terminated perp has been identified as Micah X. Johnson via the Los Angeles Times and CBS News report.
Posted in Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Crime and Punishment, Culture, Current Events, Law Enforcement | 61 Comments »
Posted by Trent Telenko on 5th July 2016 (All posts by Trent Telenko)
FBI Director James Comey today in a Washington DC news conference confirmed what many have suspected.
The Rule of Law in America is now strictly a political football for those who are in power.
The FBI has refused to indict ex-Sec of State Hillary Clinton for multiple clear violations of Federal law by hosting an unsecured e-mail server with classified data off-site from the State Department. A server that was know to have been hacked by most of America’s foreign enemies.
Gatewaypundit has many of the details here —
FBI Director Comey: We Found Hillary “Work Related” Emails That Were Not Turned Over to FBI – But Recommend NO CHARGES FIled
Posted in America 3.0, Big Government, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Crime and Punishment, Current Events, Law, Law Enforcement, Leftism, Miscellaneous, Political Philosophy, Politics | 26 Comments »
Posted by Sgt. Mom on 3rd July 2016 (All posts by Sgt. Mom)
That paving was laid down in California over the last few weeks; first by attendees at a Donald Trump rally in San Jose being harassed and physically attacked after the rally by protestors – and this with the apparent acquiescence (or possibly the tacit encouragement) of the San Jose Police Department, and then again in Sacramento a week ago, when a protest organized on the grounds of the California State Capitol in Sacramento by a group calling themselves the Traditionalist Worker Party – variously described as white supremacists or neo-Nazis – was attacked by a group proudly identifying themselves as anti-fascist. As was reported in the Los Angeles Times, when last Sunday’s rally began, “Waiting for them were counter-protesters, including members of the anti-fascist organization Antifa Sacramento, which had promoted a “Shut Down Nazi Rally” event on its website…”
The Traditionalist Worker Party members, whatever their merits or lack thereof, had a permit for a demonstration, and in the larger understanding of things, a perfect right to make fools of themselves in public, just as it was found in 1978 – that a neo-Nazi organization had the perfect right to march through Skokie, Illinois. No less a luminary than the ACLU defended that as a matter of free speech and the exercise thereof. Personally, I find it ironic that the so-called anti-fascists are acting more like actual, historic fascists than those they loudly accuse of being fascists. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Americas, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Conservatism, Current Events, Law Enforcement, Leftism, Politics, USA | 22 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 27th June 2016 (All posts by David Foster)
No aesthetically-appealing photos or amusing stories today, I’m afraid, just some very serious links and excerpts.
The rockets of Hezbollah. I knew they had accumulated considerable weaponry, but didn’t know it was this bad.
Men, women, Christianity, and Islam
Kevin Williamson on preventing jihadist violence
The impact of Islamic fundamentalism on free speech
James Schall of Georgetown University on Orlando in hindsight:
The Orlando killer was not alone. He was a true believer and other believers in the mission of Islam inspire him. Neither he nor any of his predecessors or future companions are to be explained by psychology, economics, or sociology. They are to be explained by taking their word for what they are doing. If the President of the United States or the British Prime Minister, the media, the professors, the clerics, cannot or will not understand this reality, we cannot blame ISIS and its friends. They are also realists who understand where ideas and reality meet, sometimes on a battlefield in Iraq, sometimes in a night club in Orlando.
The Democrats as the American Totalist Party
Football player Herschel Walker reports that he has had speaking engagements canceled because of his support for Donald Trump. Which is exactly the kind of action one would expect from members of a Totalist party.
Shortly before the Brexit vote, writer Frederick Forsyth wrote about the basic character of the EU: Government by deception:
You have repeatedly been told this issue is all about economics. That is the conman’s traditional distraction. This issue is about our governmental system, parliamentary. Democracy versus non-elective bureaucracy utterly dedicated to the eventual Superstate.
Our democracy was not presented last week on a plate. It took centuries of struggle to create and from 1940 to 1945 terrible sacrifices to defend and preserve.
It was bequeathed to us by giants, it has been signed away by midgets.
Now we have a chance, one last, foolishly offered chance to tell those fat cats who so look down upon the rest of us: yes, there will be some costs – but we want it back.
A former ‘big proponent’ of the EU has this to say:
To be fair, the EU’s main problem has always been its troubled relationship with democracy…This contempt for the will of the people might still be perceived as tolerable if the leaders otherwise seemed sensible – but now that someone as bad as Merkel calls the shots in EU, we’re reminded of just why having perpetual democratic safeguards is so important…the EU’s contempt for European voters and its current attempts to shut down dissenting voices bodes ill for its ability to course-correct on its own. If the EU is to be saved, it first needs to be humbled, nay, outright humiliated in such a manner that no-one can doubt that recent developments can’t be allowed to continue.
John Hussman of Hussman Funds looks at Brexit from an economic and investing perspective: Brexit and the bubble in search of a pin. He quotes his own post from last month:
My impression is that the best way to understand the next stage of the current market cycle is to recognize the difference between observed conditions and latent risks. This distinction will be most helpful before, not after, the S&P 500 drops hundreds of points in a handful of sessions. That essentially describes how a coordinated attempt by trend-followers to exit this steeply overvalued market could unfold, since value-conscious investors may have little interest in absorbing those shares at nearby prices, and in equilibrium, every seller requires a buyer.
Imagine the error of skating on thin ice and plunging through. While we might examine the hole in the ice in hindsight, and find some particular fracture that contributed to the collapse, this is much like looking for the particular pebble of sand that triggers an avalanche, or the specific vibration that triggers an earthquake. In each case, the collapse actually reflects the expression of sub-surface conditions that were already in place long before the collapse – the realization of previously latent risks.
Posted in Big Government, Britain, Christianity, Civil Liberties, Economics & Finance, Elections, Europe, Islam, Leftism, Terrorism, USA | 15 Comments »
Posted by Jonathan on 24th June 2016 (All posts by Jonathan)
It should be obvious to the status quo that the crisis has arrived. Brexit, for all its drama, was a warning. The real collision is close ahead.
The basic demand is for a moderation, if not a reversal of the centralizing tendencies. It’s a brief for less immigration, less political correctness and less government.
Unfortunately conceding to these demands this is like reversing the Titanic. There’s so much momentum, it’s hard to stop. But they have to stop. The Iceberg looms ahead. All Brexit has done is give the warning.
From now on, the countdown begins. Can the elites turn the ship in time?
Posted in America 3.0, Anglosphere, Big Government, Britain, Civil Liberties, Conservatism, Elections, Europe, International Affairs, Leftism, Political Philosophy, Politics, Tea Party, Trump | 8 Comments »
Posted by Trent Telenko on 13th June 2016 (All posts by Trent Telenko)
It’s interesting watching the Main Stream and alternate media “world view bubbles” vie for the narrative following the ISIS Ramadan Massacre at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando. The Drudge Report, likely due to Drudge’s ties with the LGBT community in Florida, the UK Media, and blogs like THE LAST REFUGE (AKA The Conservative Treehouse), GATEWAYPUNDIT, AND DAILYPUNDIT drove American television media coverage in a way that effectively removed two days of official denial of Muslim terrorism in the previous San Bernadino ISIS attack time line. During this “vying for narrative” the Institutional Media and Official Government mask slipped and showed that this election is no longer about merely who will be President, but whether American political freedom will survive.
These are the facts of the ISIS Ramadan Massacre in Orlando, as best I can gather.
THE FACTS OF THE ISIS RAMADAN MASSACRE
We know now from the 911 and a Bright House cable News 13 in Orlando call audio that some time before his 2:00 AM Sunday morning attack, OMAR MIR SEDDIQUE MATEEN announced he was pledging his allegiance to ISIS for the atrocity he was going to commit. Some time later (hours?!?) MATEEN began shooting his way past the police officer hired by Pulse Nightclub to guard the entrance to the club. This officer and two more who “rode to the sound of the gunfire” engaged MATEEN and were driven away by MATEEN’s superior weaponry, an AR-15 with “high capacity magazines” and apparently MATEEN’s superior marksmanship (more on this below).
You cannot tell with media and police sources this early, but this implies that MATEEN’s magazines were something more than the US Army standard 20 and 30-round box clips. Aftermarket AR-15 large capacity clips and drums can be had with up to 100 rounds of 5.56mm ammunition. MATEEN’s ability to drive away three trained police officers, two of which arrived in a squad car that very likely had an AR-15 in the trunk, per mass shooter protocols, argues MATEEN ran the three police first responders out of ammunition.
MATEEN then proceeded to kill 50 and wound 53 more people inside the crowded venue, and then, finally, to take hostages. It was unclear if the three police officers above engaged MATEEN inside PULSE or not. It is clear they were driven out of the Pulse, leaving those inside the venue to MATEEN’s mercy.
And MATEEN had none.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Big Government, Civil Liberties, Current Events, Internet, Islam, Law Enforcement, Leftism, Media, National Security, Obama, Politics, Rhetoric, RKBA, Terrorism, The Press, USA, War and Peace | 49 Comments »
Posted by Michael Kennedy on 21st May 2016 (All posts by Michael Kennedy)
Venezuela is in the news as the country cannot even buy paper to print money.
This all goes back to 1998 when Chavez was elected by the people.
He was an army officer and had previously attempted to overthrow the government, a coup that failed.
in the early 1980s. Chávez led the MBR-200 in an unsuccessful coup d’état against the Democratic Action government of President Carlos Andrés Pérez in 1992, for which he was imprisoned. Released from prison after two years, he founded a political party known as the Fifth Republic Movement and was elected president of Venezuela in 1998.
Venezuela is an example of The Curse of Natural Resources.
The idea that resources might be more of an economic curse than a blessing began to emerge in debates in the 1950s and 1960s about the economic problems of low and middle-income countries. The term resource curse was first used by Richard Auty in 1993 to describe how countries rich in mineral resources were unable to use that wealth to boost their economies and how, counter-intuitively, these countries had lower economic growth than countries without an abundance of natural resources. An influential study by Jeffrey Sachs and Andrew Warner found a strong correlation between natural resource abundance and poor economic growth.
Venezuela is only the latest and worst example. The history is depressingly familiar.
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Posted in Big Government, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, International Affairs, Leftism, Public Finance | 55 Comments »
Posted by Sgt. Mom on 20th May 2016 (All posts by Sgt. Mom)
Ah, the stupidities come so thick and fast of late. It’s like the rain here in Texas, which has been pouring down with such intensity over the last few days that all the usual low-water flood-danger locations have been – as any fool could easily predict – flooded and closed to vehicle traffic. It rained so hard on Thursday morning that for the first time in ages, we skipped walking the dogs. Looked out at the flooded street, the flooded front walkway, rain coming down sideways, and the sky so dark that it looked like twilight already; nope – not even the dogs were keen, especially Nemo the Terrier-God-Knows-What, who loathes and despises water with a wholly undoglike passion.
But social and political stupidities – what a rich buffet was laid before us this week, even apart from the gross stupidity of deciding that the ostensible civil rights and good-will of what may be .03% of the general population – that miniscule transgender portion of it – supersedes the rights of women and girls in a public restroom/locker/changing room to be certain they are not being letched on by a perv who has twigged to the fact that if he only declares that he feels female on that particular day that no one will want to firmly escort his perverted ass out of said safe space. Yes, the Kennedy Administration vowed to put a man on the moon, the Obama Administration has put a man in the Ladies’ Room and damned if the pervy wretch isn’t insisting that he has a perfect right to be there. Progress, y’all. While the perv element may have witless friends in the form of various celebrities ostentatiously declaring that they won’t be performing in *insert the location here* because hate/failure-to-socially-advance/toleration-eleventy!! I am brought to wonder if their concerts were significantly less than sold-out, and this is a handy means of cancelling an event and putting a convenient cover over the economic failure of it all. And I am also reminded of the way that mobs came out to eat at Chick-fil-A, in response to an announced boycott because the gaystapo getting all (you should pardon the expression) butt-hurt over the Chick-Fil-A CEO mildly expressing personal support for traditional marriage.
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Posted in Big Government, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Conservatism, Crime and Punishment, Current Events, Environment, Politics, Privacy, Society | 37 Comments »