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Great news: O.J.’s on Twitter now and he has “a little getting even to do”

Sat, 06/15/2019 - 18:31

He posted this, notes the New York Post, nearly 25 years to the day that Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman were murdered. The bit at the end here about him “getting even” is an obvious dark joke about those murders.

This is how he’s commemorating stabbing two people to death, it seems.

Some Twitter users are outraged but I see it as a logical development in the platform’s evolution. Twitter’s where you go to interact with celebrities and sociopaths. A celebrity sociopath will fit right in.

It’s scarcely an exaggeration, in fact, to say that O.J. is all that was missing from our social-media hellscape.

Coming Soon!!!

— O.J. Simpson (@TheRealOJ32) June 15, 2019

That account launched yesterday. As I write this at 2:20 p.m. ET, it’s approaching 200,000 followers. This cretin will be an absolute Twitter mega-star if he starts posting regularly.

And once he is, a flame war with the extremely-online president of the United States is inevitable. The laws of the reality-TV universe we all now live in demand it.

The Post notes that O.J.’s account isn’t verified, which means there’s no authentication yet from Twitter HQ that he’s the one who’s behind it, and even suggests that the clip might be a “deepfake.” If it is, that’s way scarier than the real O.J. joining social media because that looks — and sounds — exactly like him. It is really him, surely, although my guess is that it may have been a pal who had the idea to set up the account and then goaded him into doing an impromptu video for the first post. That is, it may be O.J.’s hangers-on who will be posting from it going forward with occasional cameos from the man himself.

Incidentally, is there any sadder human being on Earth in 2019 than “O.J. hanger-on”?

There are already calls on Twitter to ban him, although I don’t know what the grounds would be. He was acquitted of murder and did his time on the Nevada charges he was convicted of years later. If the argument is that he should be banned on principle, because he’s a degenerate regardless of what a jury might think, I’m afraid you’re on the wrong platform. Twitter is full of people like that; the supreme leader of Iran has his own account (reportedly), for cripes sake. What’s the grounds for keeping Khamenei but banning O.J.? Khamenei’s murders are more “newsworthy”? O.J.’s body count isn’t high enough?

I’m not being snarky in saying that he belongs on Twitter. Social-media culture is garbage, an endless storm of rage and narcissism. Well, so is O.J. We deserve him.

The post Great news: O.J.’s on Twitter now and he has “a little getting even to do” appeared first on Hot Air.

UAW loses yet again in Tennessee

Sat, 06/15/2019 - 17:01

Back in April, we looked at the efforts by United Auto Workers (UAW) to get their foot in the door at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee. This was their second effort after failing in a similar effort in 2014. The union painted the company as a bunch of villains who didn’t want to allow workers to organize, but opponents of the proposal pointed out that unionization would only drive up costs and potentially wind up eliminating jobs in the long run. With politicians and celebrities weighing in on both sides, everyone expected a close vote. But now the process has ended and the result was the same. The workers voted against joining the UAW and will continue to represent themselves through an internal employee organization. (Associated Press)

Workers at Volkswagen’s plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, voted Friday night against forming a factory-wide union, handing a setback to the United Auto Workers’ efforts to gain a foothold among foreign auto facilities in the South.

The vote of hourly workers began Wednesday and concluded Friday. Preliminary results show 833 employees voted against representation and 776 voted for it, the German automaker said in a statement. VW said about 93% of the roughly 1,700 eligible employees voted.

“Our employees have spoken,” Frank Fischer, president and CEO of Volkswagen Chattanooga, said in the company statement.

The 883 to 776 result was pretty much the same margin we saw in 2014 when workers voted 712 to 626 against unionization.

I was down in Tennessee regularly during the 2014 campaign and spoke with a number of people on both sides of the debate. The story back then was pretty much the same as it is now. Union organizers from Detroit were going around the community and pushing for the workers to organize, claiming that would wind up getting better pay, more benefits, etc. And to be sure, dangling the prospect of getting more money in front of people’s faces is a powerful incentive, so they were able to sway plenty of workers over to their side.

Opposing them were the Right to Work folks who reminded everyone of how the UAW had priced themselves out of business so often in Detroit, with employers regularly either cutting back on the workforce or shutting down entirely when things got tight. All of those sky-high wages and endless pensions succeeded in making the business unprofitable, and an employer with a closed plant provides no jobs at all. The same model could eventually wind up unfolding in Chattanooga if the workers weren’t careful.

As far as painting VW as being the “villains” in this, that’s simply dishonest. From the beginning, they’ve said that they would leave the decision up to the workers. Whether they wanted to unionize or maintain an internal employee association didn’t matter. VW just wanted some sort of official representation structure they could deal with. Pretending that they’re out there trying to break up the unions is just false.

The spread changed from slightly less than 100 to slightly more than 100 over the past five years, but that can be accounted for by the somewhat larger number of workers. It appears that the battle lines haven’t moved much in half a decade and they likely won’t in the near future. For now, the VW workers can just keep on keeping on, though I’m sure the UAW will be back to try their luck again.

The post UAW loses yet again in Tennessee appeared first on Hot Air.

GOP congressman nixed as keynote speaker for cybersecurity conference

Sat, 06/15/2019 - 15:31

The effort by the left to de-platform conservative speakers continues. This time it is Rep. Will Hurd, former CIA officer, and cybersecurity expert, who has been disinvited to be a keynote speaker at a cybersecurity conference. The reason? He’s a pro-life Republican politician. No, really.

This slight doesn’t make any sense at all except to highlight the fact that there is no tolerance from the pro-abortion left for pro-life politicians. What does a pro-life position have to do with cybersecurity? The answer is absolutely nothing.

Black Hat USA will host a conference August 3-8 in Las Vegas. Black Hat, “the world’s leading producer of information security events” according to their press release, announced on June 13 that Rep. Will Hurd was scheduled as a keynote speaker Wednesday, August 7.

Today, Black Hat, the world’s leading producer of information security events, announces that Will Hurd, U.S. Representative and Former CIA Officer, known for his work in pushing for cybersecurity initiatives in Congress, will Keynote Black Hat USA 2019. During his time in public service, Hurd has emphasized the importance of information security and technology – he has put forth specific initiatives related to education, retention, and support to ensure the longevity and safety of the U.S. government. Hurd will take the Keynote stage at 9 AM on Wednesday, August 7 in the Mandalay Bay Events Center.

Hurd is currently a member of the 23rd District of Texas in Congress – he is the first member to serve this district for three consecutive terms in a decade. Similar to the rest of his political career, Hurd has made technology his priority moving into 2019, listing artificial intelligence, helping federal agencies address critical technology issues, and a new cybersecurity scholarship program as his to-do’s to help modernize and secure the government. His hope is to see more bipartisan support in 2019 for major issues like cybersecurity and transportation.

Hurd has specifically put a focus on digital hygiene – calling out the need for an update to the Department of Veterans Affairs technologies. And he’s pushed to create a national plan on the use of AI-based technologies, as well as launch the Cyber National Guard initiative that would fund students to study cybersecurity and enter the federal government.

The press release went on to describe Hurd’s work as an undercover CIA officer in the Middle East and South Asia where he collected intelligence for America’s national security agenda. He is a member of the House Intelligence Committee. Black Hat hosts high profile global events that strive to “bring together the best minds in the industry.” Except, apparently, pro-life cybersecurity experts.

Zack Whittaker, a security editor for Tech Crunch (and CBS alum, according to his Twitter profile) posted a tweet showing Hurd’s voting record calling it “a terrible voting record on women’s rights.” Whittaker did, however, acknowledge that Will Hurd is one of the few lawmakers who “get” cybersecurity.

Rep. Will Hurd to keynote Black Hat later this year. He's one of only a few lawmakers who gets cyber, but he has a terrible voting record on women's rights.

— Zack Whittaker (@zackwhittaker) June 13, 2019

Whittaker wrote online that the pro-abortion attendees were clutching their pearls and were uncomfortable at the thought of being in the same room as a pro-life African-American man, or something. Most of the people he references, conveniently, asked to remain anonymous.

But several people we’ve spoken to have described their unease that Black Hat organizers have asked Hurd, a self-described pro-life lawmaker, given his consistent opposition to bills supporting women’s rights.

An analysis of Hurd’s voting record shows he supports bills promoting women’s rights only two percent of the time. He has voted against a bill that would financially support women in STEM fields, voted in favor of allowing states to restrict access and coverage to abortions, and voted to defund Planned Parenthood.

Many of those we spoke to asked to be kept anonymous amid worries of retaliation or personal attacks. One person who we asked for permission to quote said Hurd’s voting record was “simply awful” for women’s rights

At first, Black Hat defended their decision to ask Hurd to be a keynote speaker.

“Hurd has a strong background in computer science and information security and has served as an advocate for specific cybersecurity initiatives in Congress,” adding that he will offer a “unique perspective” at the conference.

But, that wasn’t good enough for the Twitter mob. By Friday Black Hat caved. They cited an error in judgement. The company “misjudged the separation of technology and politics.”

“Black Hat has chosen to remove U.S. Representative Will Hurd as our 2019 Black Hat USA Keynote. We misjudged the separation of technology and politics,” Black Hat told Tech Crunch. “We will continue to focus on technology and research, however we recognize that Black Hat USA is not the appropriate platform for the polarizing political debate resulting from our choice of speaker,”

Black Hat vowed that the conference is “still fully dedicated to providing an inclusive environment and apologize that this decision did not reflect that sentiment.”

This lame excuse – a “misjudgment” of the intersection of technology and politics – is rich. Whittaker acknowledges that “senior government figures” have been keynote speakers in the past. Then he called abortion “a human right.” Unless that human is unborn, I guess.

Although previous keynote speakers have included senior government figures, this is the first time Black Hat has confirmed a lawmaker to keynote the conference.

Although abortion rights and cybersecurity may seem like unrelated topics, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to separate social issues from technology and gatherings. It’s also valid for attendees to express concern that the keynote speaker at a professional security conference opposes what many will consider a human right.

Something that Whittaker failed to reference, though, is the founder of Black Hat’s support for Hillary Clinton in 2016 as she ran for president. He hosted a fundraiser for her during a hacker conference in Las Vegas. She’s the acceptable kind of politician, you see. It’s just really all too much, even by 2019 standards.

Will Hurd is one of the few experts that have both real life, in-field experience in intelligence gathering and also experience as a lawmaker. Friday, Black Hat told Gizmodo that the conference wasn’t a place for “polarizing political debate”. Again, that’s rich considering that in 2016 the conference literally chose a presidential candidate to support and the founder of the conference held a fundraiser for her.

But on Friday, Black Hat said it had “misjudged the separation of technology and politics.” In a statement to Gizmodo, an event spokesperson said that the conference would “continue to focus on technology and research,” but that it also recognizes that Black Hat “is not the appropriate platform for the polarizing political debate resulting from our choice of speaker.”

Maybe Black Hat, Inc. thinks that all people interested in cybersecurity issues are pro-abortion. Most of all it insults the participants who actually live in the real world and are mature enough to be in the same room as someone who holds a different position on an important social issue. They will be denied valuable information that Will Hurd is uniquely capable of delivering. Who knew there is a litmus test to speak at a cybersecurity conference?

The post GOP congressman nixed as keynote speaker for cybersecurity conference appeared first on Hot Air.

Ninth Circuit attempts to reverse deportation order for illegal alien

Sat, 06/15/2019 - 14:01

The madness continues unabated out on the left coast. More than ten years ago, ICE raided a manufacturing plant in Los Angeles where it was suspected that the employer was hiring illegal aliens. They had a warrant and discovered well over 100 illegals working at the facility. They were all taken into custody and the process of deporting them began. But now, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that one of the men (who admitted to being in the country illegally at the time of the raid) should not be deported. This is being hailed by the ACLU as a victory for “immigrants” over the forces of ICE. (Associated Press)

A federal court ruled Thursday that a Mexican man who was arrested during an immigration sting at a Los Angeles manufacturing plant should not be deported, a rebuke that may influence how immigration authorities target factories and offices.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents stormed the premises of Micro Solutions Enterprises, a maker of printer cartridges, after getting a search warrant in February 2008 for employment-related documents and arrest warrants for eight employees. About 100 armed, uniformed agents entered the factory, blocking all visible exits and announcing that no one could leave or use their cellphones.

Gregorio Perez, who entered the country illegally from Mexico in 1994, was one of 130 workers arrested. He disclosed his status during questioning.

Both the plaintiff and the court, led by Clinton appointee Judge Marsha Berzon, are basing this decision on ICE’s warrant being wrongly worded. The original warrant authorized a search for the “employer’s records,” presumably their employment records. Those records would certainly be valuable in establishing whether or not they were knowingly hiring illegals and taking steps to get around their responsibility to verify their citizenship status when hiring them.

But let’s be serious here. If ICE shows up and finds more than one hundred illegal aliens on the premises, what do you expect them to do? They were clearly certain as to what was going on at that plant because they showed up with one hundred agents and multiple buses to transport the illegal aliens to a detention center for processing. It was the culmination of two years worth of investigations.

If ICE is knocking at your door looking for employment records, what do you suppose they’re trying to accomplish? If they show up and only ask for the records, ignoring the workers, they tip their hand and the illegal aliens will scatter to the wind. Besides, when they find someone in the country illegally, they take them into custody. That’s their job. If the police walk into a business and see a woman being sexually assaulted they don’t tell the rapist to carry on with his activities until they can send somebody out for a warrant.

This is yet another example of liberal activists at the ACLU and deranged judges on the Ninth Circuit seeking to undermine ICE and defy our immigration laws. And it needs to stop.

The post Ninth Circuit attempts to reverse deportation order for illegal alien appeared first on Hot Air.

Oh my: China, Hong Kong leader back down on extradition bill

Sat, 06/15/2019 - 12:31

Even China has a limit to bad publicity, it seems. China had attempted to push changes to extradition in Hong Kong that would have given Beijing carte blanche to seize anyone in the autonomous enclave, even people just passing through it. Sustained and massive protests have derailed those efforts — for now, anyway:

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam on Saturday indefinitely delayed a proposed law that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China, in a dramatic retreat after anger over the bill triggered the city’s biggest and most violent street protests in decades. …

“After repeated internal deliberations over the last two days, I now announce that the government has decided to suspend the legislative amendment exercise, restart our communication with all sectors of society, do more explanation work and listen to different views of society,” Lam told a news conference.

In her first public appearance or comments since Wednesday, she said there was no deadline, effectively suspending the process indefinitely.

Political opponents called for the bill to be scrapped completely. Protest organizers said they would go ahead with another rally on Sunday to demand Lam step down.

The about-face was one of the most significant political turnarounds under public pressure by the Hong Kong government since Britain returned the territory to China in 1997, and it threw into question Lam’s ability to continue to lead the city.

The proposed law would have been so broad as to make vulnerable even foreigners just connecting through Hong Kong to flights elsewhere, at least theoretically. It would have destroyed any sense of autonomy in Hong Kong; anyone who didn’t toe Xi Jingping’s line would have found themselves on the fast train to Beijing, pour encourager les autres. The people of Hong Kong knew exactly what this bill would do, and what exactly it was intended to do.

Lam wouldn’t have sounded the retreat without orders from Beijing. She’s too much their toady to suddenly discover a backbone, as I noted here earlier. Sure enough, China issued a supportive statement of Lam’s action, but warned against further violence:

The central government in Beijing has expressed its support, respect and understanding for Hong Kong’s decision to suspend an extradition bill that would allow people to be sent to mainland China to face trial, China’s official Xinhua news agency reported on Saturday. …

The central government also condemned violent acts in Hong Kong and supported the former British colony’s police, Xinhua said.

Most of the violence thus far seems to be coming from the police, which used teargas and rubber bullets to disperse the highly embarrassing crowds. Estimates of the size ran over a million protesters, which would mean that one out of every seven residents had gone to the streets to demand an end to the extradition bill. China faced a humiliating revolt brought on by a big miscalculation about the people of Hong Kong, who had launched similar protests about Beijing’s encroachment five years earlier.

Of course, they faced a similarly embarrassing protest 30 years ago in Tiananmen Square. They put that one down brutally, sending tanks into the protest against unarmed citizens, resulting in a death toll that may run into the thousands. What’s different this time? The Tiananmen protest took place in Beijing itself, for one thing, where China can easily call on that level of force. Hong Kong is a different situation, made even more singular because of the treaties that turned sovereignty back over to Beijing. The UK and the EU reminded China of its obligations publicly and energetically over the past week in order to signal that they were watching developments very carefully. A military seizure of Hong Kong could have touched off the kind of conflict China doesn’t need at the moment, especially while fighting a trade war with the US already and dealing with a slowing economy.

China must think it a better strategy to wait for the world to lose interest in the issue. The protesters have an answer for that, too:

Hong Kong activists say they’re not satisfied with a decision to shelve unpopular extradition legislation and still plan a mass protest on Sunday.

A leader of the Civil Human Rights Front, Jimmy Sham, called on Chief Executive Carrie Lam to withdraw the bill entirely and to apologize for the use of potentially deadly force by police in clashes earlier this week.

Lam defended the use of tear gas, rubber bullets and other measures by police as necessary and said she wanted no more violence.

Lam was trying to burn down the village to save it … for Xi. The villagers had other ideas, and they still do.

The post Oh my: China, Hong Kong leader back down on extradition bill appeared first on Hot Air.

Students surprised by some of Joe Biden’s ‘pretty racist’ quotes

Sat, 06/15/2019 - 00:41

Cabot Phillips from Campus Reform went to Marymount University in Virginia to ask students whether a selection of racially-tinged quotes were uttered by Donald Trump or Joe Biden. Here’s a list of the quotes he asked about:

  • “You cannot go into a 7-11 or a Dunkin Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I’m not joking.”
  • “They’re going to put y’all back in chains,” spoken to a diverse audience including black Americans.
  • “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy,” in reference to Barack Obama.

Of course, the correct answer is that all of these were spoken by Joe Biden. But with only one exception, the students at Marymount attributed all of the quotes to Trump. No surprise there. As is the case in nearly all of these clips, the students really only know one fact: Orange Man Bad. Everything else is an attempt to apply that knowledge to the given situation.

The reactions when the students find out the truth also reflects badly on whatever media they are listening to:

“Oh snap, wow. That’s bad. They’re all pretty racist,” one student said, while another added, “I don’t think that’s something I want to support.”

“That’s really surprising… I’ve never heard any of those things. Now I’m like damn, is he really who he says he is?” said another.

Here’s the clip:

Finally, here’s Joe making the “back in chains” comment back in 2012. Remember his opponent at the time wasn’t Donald Trump but Mitt Romney. Stick around to the end of this to get Barack Obama bringing up Romney’s dog.

The post Students surprised by some of Joe Biden’s ‘pretty racist’ quotes appeared first on Hot Air.

Jim Acosta to Hannity: Why didn’t you tell me off to my face that time I saw you on the bus, tough guy?

Sat, 06/15/2019 - 00:01

Had Hannity done this, Acosta would have spent 15 minutes on CNN that day whining about it and lamenting “Fox’s turn from rhetorical intimidation to physical intimidation” or whatever. The incident would have received its own chapter in his new book, “Hero: Portrait of a Media Martyr,” a.k.a. “The Enemy of the People.”

In reality, Hannity (and Tucker Carlson) did the worst thing one can do to Acosta. They ignored him.

And he’ll never forgive them for it.

Hearing Sean Hannity is taking some shots at me over my book. Two things Sean… #1 I offered to come on your show and talk about the book and you guys declined. Sad! #2 you’re in the book. It was that time you had a chance to say something to my face but didn’t. Enjoy!

— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) June 14, 2019

Hannity’s reply was Hannityesque:
It’s true Fake News Acosta’s reps have BEEN BEGGING to be on the #1 show on Cable News & 618 Of the top Talk Radio stations. Sorry, I wont subject my audience to conspiracy theory fake news. Go hawk that garbage on the lowest rated cable channel u work for

— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) June 14, 2019

The idea here in baiting Hannity, I assume, is to brawl with him on Fox and hope that lefties see the viral clip and reward him for it with book sales. Surely he doesn’t believe that fans of what he calls “state TV” are going to buy it.

Anyway, if he was so hot to confront Hannity and Carlson about their criticism of him, why didn’t he say something to them on the bus when he had the chance? Calling them wimpy in a book after ducking the chance to do it directly face-to-face feels wimpier than what they did. Hannity and Carlson may have avoided confrontation that day for fear that it’d be unprofessional, especially during a media junket abroad attached to a presidential summit. Big Jim should have let them know he wanted to throw down. If that’s what he really wanted.

Fox is giving him some free press for his book, incidentally, mainly by noting how bad the reviews are:

NPR book critic Annalisa Quinn hits Acosta’s book for not asking why President Trump has “succeeded” with his attacks against the media but used the anti-Trump memoir “as an opportunity to relitigate his spats with the White House rather than to meaningfully interrogate the cultural shift that left huge numbers of people despising and fearing the press.”…

“Reporters become part of the story when the president attacks them. But in between absorbing abuse and hitting back is another option: fighting for access, challenging the president on lies, and reporting the facts the way you would with any other story,” Quinn argued. “Acosta seems to believe that the attacks give him special dispensation to offer his personal opinions, and that doing so is even an act of bravery or public service.”…

“Acosta acknowledges Trump’s working-class base and captures the shock that reverberated with his upset win. But he fails to place the rage and resentment in the larger context of how America and the west reached this inflection point,” [Guardian contributor Lloyd] Green said. “Acosta should address all this after he tacitly cops to acting like an advocate or editorialist, as opposed to simply reporting breaking news or calling balls and strikes. In his words: ‘Neutrality for the sake of neutrality doesn’t really serve us in the age of Trump.'”

Here he is promoting the book on his home network. It currently stands at three out of five stars on Amazon’s page, which is better than I would have expected as Trumpers inevitably chime in to let him know what they think of him. Sample review: “Laughable Acosta Wants His Mommy To Save His Precious Little Feelings.”

Check out my interview in the @cnnSitroom w/ our Chief White House Correspondent Jim @Acosta on his new best-selling book "The Enemy of the People: A Dangerous Time to Tell the Truth in America"

— Wolf Blitzer (@wolfblitzer) June 14, 2019

The post Jim Acosta to Hannity: Why didn’t you tell me off to my face that time I saw you on the bus, tough guy? appeared first on Hot Air.

ABC: Trump’s own internal polling in March showed him trailing far behind Biden in battleground states

Fri, 06/14/2019 - 23:21

It makes me laugh how sensitive people get about bad polling this far out, and by “people” I mean you-know-who. A few days ago the Times reported that “After being briefed on a devastating 17-state poll conducted by his campaign pollster, Tony Fabrizio, Mr. Trump told aides to deny that his internal polling showed him trailing Mr. Biden in many of the states he needs to win, even though he is also trailing in public polls from key states like Texas, Michigan and Pennsylvania.” He didn’t like that:

…..The Fake (Corrupt) News Media said they had a leak into polling done by my campaign which, by the way and despite the phony and never ending Witch Hunt, are the best numbers WE have ever had. They reported Fake numbers that they made up & don’t even exist. WE WILL WIN AGAIN!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 12, 2019

At first glance, by “Suppression Polls” I thought he meant that the media was trying to suppress his turnout by publishing discouraging information — 17 months before Election Day, when there’ll be literally thousands of domestic and foreign developments between now and then that ultimately determine how people vote. That would be inane. But no, what he meant (I think?) is that the press has the “real” polls and is suppressing them in order to … make him feel bad, I guess? I don’t know. If you’re going to invent a narrative, “Tight race between Trump and Biden in battlegrounds” sounds juicier than “Biden leading Trump by margins that’ll never, ever hold up in reality.”

But Trump has been consistent about this. From the first few weeks of his administration, any news that might reflect badly on him is necessarily “fake news.” And that definitely includes polling.

The wrinkle in this new ABC report is that his own campaign manager has confirmed that these polls are real — or were. They’re now outdated, says Brad Parscale. And wouldn’t you know it, he says that in the latest internal polling Trump has zoomed ahead.

The polling data, revealed for the first time by ABC News, showed a double-digit lead for Biden in Pennsylvania 55-39 and Wisconsin 51-41 and had Biden leading by seven points in Florida. In Texas, a Republican stronghold, the numbers showed the president only leading by two points…

“These leaked numbers are ancient, in campaign terms, from months-old polling that began in March before two major events had occurred: the release of the summary of the Mueller report exonerating the President, and the beginning of the Democrat candidates defining themselves with their far-left policy message,” Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale told ABC News in a statement. “Since then, we have seen huge swings in the President’s favor across the 17 states we have polled, based on the policies now espoused by the Democrats. For example, the plan to provide free health care to illegal immigrants results in an 18-point swing toward President Trump.”

Attorney General Bill Barr’s summary of special counsel Robert Mueller investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election was released on March 24. While the Trump campaign’s full poll, which canvassed 17 states, was already in the field, it was well underway for four additional days after the release of Barr’s letter to the public.

Recently, said Parscale, the campaign has begun to conduct polling keyed to specific issues that Democrats are running on and those polls are much more encouraging, with Trump allegedly leading in Florida by eight points. (Spoiler: He will not win Florida by anything like eight points, just like Biden won’t win Pennsylvania or Wisconsin by double digits.) The trouble with his broader argument, that the March data is outdated because it doesn’t include voter reaction to Mueller clearing Trump of collusion, is that there have been lots of public polls since then showing that Mueller’s conclusions didn’t move the needle much for Trump. His average job approval on March 24 was 43.1; today it’s 44.1. That’s a good number for him and shows promise, but a one-point average gain isn’t going to completely turn around a race like the Pennsylvania one where Biden is supposedly up by 15.

Plus, Parscale neglects to mention that Biden got a big bounce when he finally entered the race in late April, a month after the internal poll described above was completed. He went from 30 percent or so in the Democratic primary average all the way up to 41 percent before cooling off and returning to the 32.3 percent support he currently enjoys. It’s highly unlikely that Biden’s announcement triggered rising support for him in various public polls and distinguished him as the clear frontrunner in the Democratic field and yet, simultaneously, saw him tank against Trump in various battleground states where he had been leading big. Even Parscale’s point about polling on the issues doesn’t really add up for Biden. It may be that some of Bernie Sanders’s more wild-eyed plans poll poorly when tested, but Biden’s guaranteed to embrace a more moderate agenda if he’s the nominee. If it’s true that even Biden’s platform is toxic to American voters than what Parscale means to say is that no Democrat can win. Trump’s victory is assured. No one believes that.

Here’s a more convincing explanation for why this internal poll can be safely regarded, from the pollster himself:

Full statement attributed to @TonyFabrizioGOP

— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) June 14, 2019

That would explain the ludicrous 16-point Biden lead Fabrizio found in Pennsylvania. But this too comes with a grain of salt: Per the Times excerpt up top, Trump instructed his aides to simply lie about the results when asked. Would Fabrizio tell us the truth about the results if they were unflattering to POTUS, knowing his job might be on the line if he did? And what does he mean specifically when he mentions that Democrats were “defined”? Defined how? If he asked voters, “Do you prefer Donald Trump or Joe Biden, who’s a plagiarist, a China dove, and a cuck?”, he might indeed have seen more voters favor Trump. But that wouldn’t be a very useful poll.

Anyway. The proper response to bad early internal polls is not to make up some nonsense about how they’ve completely turned around in the span of 10 weeks, it’s to point to the track record of polling this early and say, “Who cares?” The early general-election polls tell us nothing. They’re fun for bloggy water-cooler conversation but they’re nothing to worry about yet, let alone lie about.

In the runup to the 2016 presidential election, this same question came up, and FiveThirtyEight analyzed general election polls from 1944 to 2012 that tested the eventual nominees and were conducted in the last two months of the year before the election (so for 2012, that would be November and December of 2011). On average, these polls missed the final result by 11 percentage points.

Jump back to roughly this point in the 2016 cycle, for example, and Clinton was ahead of all eight of her hypothetical GOP opponents in a May 2015 Quinnipiac poll, with a whopping 50-32 advantage over Trump.

It’s especially foolish to invest in early general-election polls this year when Democrats are split not just among candidates but among ideologies. Is Trump going to face Obama’s VP or an avowed socialist? That’ll matter in swing states, a lot. And yet it’s a complete mystery and will remain so for months.

There’s no reason to sweat the numbers now but there’s no reason to be in denial about them either. Lots of public polling shows that Trump has work to do in battleground states, with the most recent survey dropping just this afternoon. He has a good economic argument for reelection. That may be all he needs.

The post ABC: Trump’s own internal polling in March showed him trailing far behind Biden in battleground states appeared first on Hot Air.

Bernie’s Democratic Socialism speech obscured as much as it revealed

Fri, 06/14/2019 - 22:41

Bernie Sanders gave what was dubbed a “major speech” on Democratic Socialism this week. Vox published a transcript of the speech along with a brief introduction that summarizes his “definition of democratic socialism” as ensuring “health care, a living wage, a full education, housing, and a clean environment.” But over at the Atlantic, Yascha Mounk was disappointed with Sanders’ speech precisely because it failed to grapple with the real history of socialism which is not all flowers and sunshine:

The great differences among the movements and countries that have historically called themselves socialist also makes me skeptical about leftists who think that embracing this label is enough to explain what kind of future they want. Some members of the Democratic Socialists of America, for example, simply want to emulate the rich democracies that provide their citizens with a generous welfare state. But others seek to “abolish capitalism” or sing the praises of the Venezuelan dictatorship…

This is why I was very hopeful when Senator Bernie Sanders’s campaign announced that the candidate would hold a major speech on “How Democratic Socialism Is the Only Way to Defeat Oligarchy and Authoritarianism.” After years of using the term about as imprecisely as many of his followers, I hoped that Sanders would finally set out why it holds such importance to him, what role the market would play in the socialist system he promises to build, and how he can protect his political project against the Soviet risk.

I can’t say he met my expectations…

In his view, the threat of autocracy comes exclusively from the right. Just as in the 1930s, “America and the world are once again moving towards authoritarianism.” This danger is driven by “right-wing forces of oligarchy, corporatism, nationalism, racism, and xenophobia.” The only answer that will stave off fascism is, you guessed it, “democratic socialism.”

Thus Sanders name-checked Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini but remained silent about Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong. And while he rightly decried the autocratic tendencies of Russia’s Vladimir Putin, China’s Xi Jinping, Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman, the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte, Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, and Hungary’s Viktor Orbán, he neglected to mention leftist autocrats such as Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro, Cuba’s Raúl Castro, Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega, Zimbabwe’s Emmerson Mnangagwa, or North Korea’s Kim Jung Un. Indeed, the only connection between socialism and autocracy that Sanders was willing to acknowledge is the one that exists in the feverish imagination of the ignorant right: He decried the “red-baiting” in which Republicans have long engaged.

Sanders talks about socialism these days as if he has always and only been a proponent of European Social Democracy, i.e. the Scandinavian model. In fact, we know that in the 1970s he was a proponent of nationalizing major industries including banks. And in the 1980s he was a fan and defender of the Sandinistas and the USSR. Today, Sanders shrugs all of that off as if it’s irrelevant. It could be, maybe, if he had the fortitude to admit that he was wrong in the past. Here’s what I wrote about this just over a week ago:

If Bernie Sanders wants to embrace European Social Democracy, which it seems he does these days, why can’t he admit he went too far as a younger man promoting the nationalization of entire industries and excusing socialist dictators. Why can’t he call out some of the more extreme voices on the left who have made it clear that Denmark and Sweden are not their goal and would still be too capitalist to suit their taste? If he really wants to put this behind him there’s a Sister Souljah moment waiting to happen with AOC. The fact that it hasn’t happened suggests he’s still taking a ‘no enemies on the left’ approach to socialism. But that’s not good enough when the potential consequences, like the ones in Venezuela and Nicaragua, are so dire.

Yascha Mounk concludes that Sanders’ speech was unserious but I think it’s much worse than that. The fact that he won’t criticize even the most extreme examples of left-wing authoritarianism tells me he’s still emotionally invested in the more radical socialism of his youth. In his heart of hearts, I think Sanders is still siding with Daniel Ortega and Hugo Chavez. We should take his begrudging criticism of these regimes as what they are, statements made under a kind of public duress.

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Dem representative sets Air Force One makeover into a nosedive

Fri, 06/14/2019 - 22:01

Will it happen or won’t it? President Trump decided that Air Force One was in need of a makeover in July 2018 and his vision includes a major new paint job to the plane’s exterior, along with some gold-plated fixtures. Trump has visions of a super-patriotic look to this iconic American symbol recognized around the world.

Trump personally sat down with the CEO of Boeing, Dennis Muilenburg, to make sure the best deal was negotiated for two 747s slated to replace the Air Force One currently in use. It was a $4 billion sale for the pair of them. The look of the current plane, though, is apparently too dated for POTUS. Air Force One has looked the same since the early 1960s when Jackie Kennedy and her husband, President John F. Kennedy, approved the exterior paint design colors of baby blue and white. (Technically the name is luminous ultramarine.) Trump wants a bold red, white, and blue design.

At the time of original news reports of the anticipated changes, some critics squawked about changing Air Force One. It’s understandable. But the president does, in fact, have the option of making changes to the new plane. Historian Michael Beschloss described the historical nostalgia attached to Air Force One.

“Every time you see that blue trim and the words ‘UNITED STATES OF AMERICA’ spelled out in that same typeface as an early version of the Declaration of Independence, it brings back JFK landing in Germany to speak at the Berlin Wall, Richard Nixon flying to China, Ronald Reagan stepping off the plane to see Gorbachev in Iceland and a thousand other scenes of Presidents in our past.”

“JFK and Jackie Kennedy approved that timeless design (created pro bono by the premier mid-20th century industrial designer Raymond Loewy) to replace an earlier version of Air Force One that had simply said ‘MILITARY AIR TRANSPORT SERVICE’ and which made conspicuous use of the color orange, which Kennedy rightfully found ‘gaudy.'”

Change is hard and altering the looks of such a well-known symbol of America will not be readily embraced. President Trump showed ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos some images of the revamped plane. It looks quite tasteful, truth be told. The top half is white, followed by a thick red stripe, and the rest is dark blue. There are no gaudy touches to be found in the design.

EXCLUSIVE: Pres. Trump unveils his new patriotic paint job for Air Force One during one-on-one with @ABC News' @GStephanopoulos.

— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) June 13, 2019

During a long hearing in the House Armed Services Committee Wednesday, Rep. Joe Courtney slowed down the process by introducing an amendment limiting funds for changes. The vote on the amendment was along party lines.

Courtney’s amendment, adopted by committee members on a 31-26 party line vote, would require congressional approval for excessive spending on “interior, paint and fixtures.”

During the debate on his amendment, Courtney assured his colleagues that his intention was not to keep the president or the Air Force from making modifications on Air Force One, but to make sure there was no excessive growth in costs or delays in schedule from last-minute design changes — and that the look of the plane remains traditional.

“We are not handcuffing the Air Force and Boeing,” Courtney said. “There is some flexibility.”

Courtney also said “additional paint can add weight to the plane, additional fixtures inside the plane can also add cost and delays to the delivery of the plane.”

In other words, Democrats want to keep the original design that harkens back to the days of JFK and Republicans say the pushback is all about denying President Trump his vision of a redesigned look. This is what happens to everything during the Trump administration and it gets tiresome. I admit I am perfectly content to keep the old design. The new design, though, isn’t bad and it certainly doesn’t approach any of the original concerns voiced by anti-Trumpers. They were fully expecting a Las Vegas-style version of Air Force One. This new design will not be the end of the world and could move effortlessly into future administrations.

Friday morning during a phone-in interview with the hosts of Fox and Friends, Trump was asked about the new paint job. He said, “I think it would fit the new plane better.” He referenced the baby blue color as a “Jackie O” color while he spoke up for First Lady Melania Trump, ignored by fashion and women’s magazines around the world like no other recent First Lady has been. “We have our own Jackie O today.” He called his wife “Melania T.”

“I know,” Trump says a bit apologetically when asked if he’s committed to new colors for AF1. Says it’s time for red, white and blue. Jackie O was behind the robin’s egg blue color, but now there’s a new first lady, “Melania T,” he says in Fox News telephone interview.

— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) June 14, 2019

The new presidential jets are not scheduled to enter service until late 2024 or early 2025, so Trump will have to win re-election to use them. Even then, he will not have much time to do so. It will be future presidents who fly in the new jets.

I’ll end with this thought about “Melania T.” Melania Trump is a very savvy woman. Not only is she stunningly beautiful and intelligent, she represents America well both domestically and overseas in her role as First Lady. She uses fashion diplomacy to her advantage. I’ve written about it previously and it was never more apparent than on Inauguration Day 2017. Knowing that her outfit would be scrutinized by fashionistas around the world, she chose to wear a designer ensemble (Ralph Lauren) in the style and color choice of Jackie Kennedy. It isn’t happening now because of the epidemic of Trump Derangement Syndrome but, politics aside, Melania Trump will be written up as more fashionable and elegant than Jackie Kennedy ever was in future comparisons of First Ladies.

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Biden: I’m pledging right now not to use disinformation or accept foreign government help in the campaign

Fri, 06/14/2019 - 21:21

He’ll be applauded for this because it’s high-minded and scores a point on Trump, but if China knocks on his door during the campaign and offers him Trump’s tax returns and Biden says no — and then loses — the left will never forgive him. We’ll be stuck with insufferable progressive thinkpieces about how Democrats don’t “fight” hard enough until the end of time.

Granted, we’ll be stuck with those thinkpieces if the Democrats lose next year no matter what. But still.

It’s not every day that the chairman of the FEC takes to social media to warn the president, publicly, that it sounds like he’s “prepared to commit a felony to get reelected,” to borrow Andrew Napolitano’s phrase. But here we are.

I would not have thought that I needed to say this.

— Ellen L Weintraub (@EllenLWeintraub) June 13, 2019

I wonder if there’s a prediction market yet on who’s most likely to be named special counsel in a second Trump term to investigate the president’s possibly felonious acceptance of oppo research from a foreign power. My money’s on Chris Wray, who’s all but certain to be the former director of the FBI by then.

No, I’m kidding. Just try to imagine Bill Barr authorizing an investigation of Trump. That’s why the president felt emboldened to say what he said a few days ago about the possibility of new collusion, I assume. He believes that he finally has an AG who’ll protect him. Who’s going to prosecute him for taking Russian dirt on Joe Biden or whoever?

The only wrinkle is that, once we’re past Election Day, Pelosi’s rationale for holding off on impeachment — and Trump’s rationale for welcoming it — will evaporate. Right now they’re both calculating that impeaching POTUS will galvanize Republican voters while achieving nothing for Democrats. If, however, he wins a second term and evidence emerges that the campaign took info from a foreign government, Pelosi might view impeachment as a way to delegitimize his reelection and to put Republicans back on their heels fresh off their big win. Odds that he’ll be impeached before the end of his first term are low; odds that he’ll be impeached as a lame duck are waaaaay higher. If only for legacy reasons: Given all of their complaints about his legal and ethical practices, it’s hard to imagine Dems letting Trump leave office after a two-term presidency with no formal action ever having been taken against him. Either he’ll leave as a one-termer or they’ll find some reason to impeach him in 2021.

He walked back his comments a bit this morning on “Fox & Friends,” incidentally, saying that “of course” he’d turn over foreign intelligence to the FBI — after he looked at it. How else could he know what’s in it, after all? The question, though, is whether he’d use that intelligence to help his campaign (and whether the intelligence was obtained illegally, a la hacking.) That’s what Biden’s pledging not to do here.

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Oberlin College issues statement on $44 million jury decision

Fri, 06/14/2019 - 20:41

Yesterday a jury awarded $33 million in punitive damages to the owners of Gibson’s bakery, a small business adjacent to Oberlin College. That amount was on top of the $11 million in compensatory damages it awarded last week. In fact, it appears the $44 million verdict exceeds what the law allows and will have to be capped at $33 million (plus attorneys fees). Today, Oberlin College released a statement to alumni saying there is still a long way to go in this legal battle:

By now many of you will have heard about the latest development in the Gibson’s Bakery lawsuit, a jury’s declaration of punitive damages against Oberlin. Let me be absolutely clear: This is not the final outcome. This is, in fact, just one step along the way of what may turn out to be a lengthy and complex legal process. I want to assure you that none of this will sway us from our core values. It will not distract, deter, or materially harm our educational mission, for today’s students or for generations to come.

We will take the time we need to thoughtfully consider the course that is in Oberlin’s best interests. I will update the community as we make these decisions. I am confident that when we resolve this matter, it will look substantially different than it looks today.

I guess it’s fair to say that a $33 million judgment won’t “materially harm” a college that reportedly has $1 billion in assets. All the more reason to let the decision stand and not reduce the amount of the verdict.

We are disappointed in the jury’s decisions and the fragmentary and sometimes distorted public discussion of this case. But we respect the integrity of the jury, and we value our relationship with the town and region that are our home. We will learn from this lawsuit as we build a stronger relationship with our neighbors.

They could start building a stronger relationship with the neighbors by not allowing their staff members to participate in protests where the neighbors are being called racists. As I pointed out last week, all of this was over the owners of the store trying to stop a shoplifter from stealing wine. But because two of the three people involved were black and the owners are white, student protesters began protesting. Oberlin College dean of students Meredith Raimondo participated in those protests and handed out flyers accusing the bakery of being a “racist establishment.” The protesters also demanded the school cut off all business with the bakery (which the school did). Eventually, all three students involved pleaded guilty to misdemeanors and made statements in court that the incident was not racially motivated.

Over at National Review, David French argues that the size of this award, whatever it turns out to be, will be large enough to get the attention of attorneys everywhere.

The size of the jury award will create a legal market for litigation. There’s a relatively simple reason why campus free-speech codes proliferated well before there was a concerted legal counterattack — money. It takes money to sue universities, and First Amendment cases simply don’t yield eye-popping jury awards. It took the creation of large networks of nonprofit, pro-bono lawyers to turn the free-speech tide on campus.

Common-law torts are different. Plaintiffs can receive real compensation, and universities have deep pockets. In a radio interview yesterday, I compared the verdict to the kind of sound that causes prairie dogs to stand alert — suddenly, lawyers are paying attention.

Let’s hope so. Of course, this won’t prevent Social Justice Warriors from doing their thing but it should focus the minds of school administrators who suddenly realized this week that jumping on the SJW bandwagon could be very costly. Without the support of faculty, this sort of intentionally dishonest student protest won’t have the same impact.

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Does NY’s new law ending religious exemptions for vaccination “attack religious freedom”?

Fri, 06/14/2019 - 20:01

A defense of public health, or an attack on religious freedom? New York legislators passed a law late yesterday ending the religious exemption on vaccination requirements, leaving in place only an exemption for medical necessity. Andrew Cuomo wasted no time signing the bill, which took effect immediately — but not without angry protests over the infringement on religious rights:

“We are facing an unprecedented public health crisis,” said Sen. Brad Hoylman, D-Manhattan and the sponsor of the legislation in the Senate. “The atrocious peddlers of junk science and fraudulent medicine who we know as anti-vaxxers have spent years sowing unwarranted doubt and fear, but it is time for legislators to confront them head on.”

Hundreds of parents of unvaccinated children gathered at New York’s Capitol before the vote to protest what several called an assault on religious freedom.

“People came to this country to get away from exactly this kind of stuff,” said Stan Yung, a Long Island attorney who has three children.

Yung, who is Russian Orthodox, said he has religious views and health concerns that will prevent him from vaccinating his three young children. His family, he said, may consider leaving the state if the bill is signed into law.

This wasn’t a slam dunk in the state legislature. The bill only passed by ten votes in the state senate, 36-26, and the gap wasn’t much wider in the assembly, 77-53. The controversy over religious freedom turned out to be a bigger hurdle than some might have thought, especially in deep-blue New York. Expect more political backlash as the law goes into effect over the next 30 days, as parents will face new demands to submit vaccination records.

Part of the problem is that the religious exemption had no real controls on it. Many people used it in connection to legitimate religious doctrine, but as one person notes in the PIX 11 news report, many others used it as a means for their personal opposition to vaccines regardless of religious issues. The combination of the two left a lot of children without immunity and susceptible to exposure through travel or immigration, from a disease that the CDC declared eliminated in the US less than twenty years ago.

Regardless of what Yung says, people don’t come to the US just to get away from required vaccinations. Schools have required vaccinations for more than a century, with the Supreme Court approving the authority for such requirements in a 1905 case. Plenty of people have emigrated to the US since that time, and almost all of them get vaccinated at some point. An argument might be made, in fact, that the generally excellent health of the US population might be a bigger draw than some largely mythical ability to avoid vaccinations.

Perhaps if a solid test for religious exemptions could be developed that locks out the anti-vaxx manipulations of such loopholes, then the state might be able to make such a thing work. The epidemics of measles in New York and other states make it pretty clear, however, that these policies present a public-health danger, especially when it becomes faddish to exploit that loophole. Parents are required to send their children to schools, usually public schools, where unvaccinated children could put their own children in danger, which means that the schools have a responsibility to minimize that danger as much as possible. Vaccinations have been proven effective and reliable in mitigating — and until recently, eliminating — that danger.

The free expression of religious doctrine should be a high priority in American life, and too often is encroached by the nanny state. That’s why we passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) at the federal level and in many states, and required strict scrutiny on laws and regulation that cross that First Amendment line. In this case, though, serious diseases threaten public health when required participation in education leaves children vulnerable, which crosses into a clear state interest that would easily survive strict scrutiny. New York made the right decision in this case.

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Owner of tanker attacked in Gulf contradicts Pentagon: It was hit by “flying objects,” not mines

Fri, 06/14/2019 - 19:21

It’s weird that we’re on the brink of a full-fledged false-flag conspiracy theory forming online about this and, instead of leading it, Trump is in charge of debunking it.

Can you imagine how lit his Twitter feed would be right now about this story if President Jeb Bush and his superhawk NSA John Bolton were blaming some Middle Eastern country for a potential casus belli without solid evidence?

Anyway, here’s what the Pentagon claims happened in the Gulf of Oman:

“At 8:09 a.m. local time a U.S. aircraft observed an IRGC Hendijan class patrol boat and multiple IRGC fast attack craft/fast inshore attack craft (FAC/FIAC) in the vicinity of the M/T Altair [one of the damaged tankers],” [Centcom’s spokesman] said…

The Altair’s crew had been rescued by a cargo ship. At 9:26 a.m., the Iranians asked the crew of the cargo ship, the Hyundai Dubai, to hand over the Altair mariners and they complied, Urban said. Meanwhile, mariners from the other attacked tanker, the Kokuka Courageous, had been rescued by a nearby tug. Urban said the Iranians tried to reach the tug first, but they were outrun by the guided missile Bainbridge, which took the rescued mariners aboard…

Four hours later, “an IRGC Gashti Class patrol boat approached the M/T Kokuka Courageous and was observed and recorded removing the unexploded limpet mine from the M/T Kokuka Courageous,” he said.

They have video. This, allegedly, is the Iranian patrol pulling alongside the unexploded mine attached to the Kokuka Courageous, removing it, and absconding with the evidence.

The open-source investigation site Bellingcat looked at the evidence. That *does* appear to be the Kokuka Courageous in the video, they noted, comparing the ship in the video to this photo released by the Defense Department:

U.S. releases video it says shows Iran's military recovering mine

— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) June 14, 2019

And that *does* appear to be an Iranian patrol boat given its resemblance to other boats known to be used by Iran. But whether those are Iranians onboard, whether that really is a mine, and whether Iran stuck it on the hull in the first place are all matters of speculation.

The owner of the Kokuka Courageous spoke to the press this morning and scrambled the entire theory:

The ship operator said “flying objects” that may have been bullets were the cause of damage to the vessel, rather than mines used by Iranian forces, as the US has suggested.

Yutaka Katada, chief executive of the Japanese company operating the ship called Kokuka Courageous, one of two vessels attacked near the Strait of Hormuz on Thursday, said the damage could not have been caused by mines or torpedos that are shot underwater, since the damage was reportedly above the ship’s waterline.

It seems that something flew towards them. That created the hole, is the report I’ve received,” Mr Katada said at a press conference in Tokyo on Friday, the Financial Times reported.

Naval experts are invited to weigh in and correct me, but it’s possible that a limpet mine could have been attached surreptitiously above the water line, isn’t it? The “mine” seen being retrieved in the Pentagon video was close enough to the water that someone standing on the bow of the patrol boat was able to yank it off the Kokuka Courageous’s hull. It occurs to me that if Iran did do this and if, as many have speculated, the point of the attack was to signal that there’ll be disruptions to the flow of oil in the Strait of Hormuz until U.S. sanctions are lifted, the regime may have wanted to minimize damage to the ship. Had they detonated the mine at the water line, water would have rushed in and potentially threatened the ship, magnifying this crisis internationally possibly beyond Iran’s comfort zone. Detonating it above the water line sent a message without putting the ship in danger.

In that case, though, how’d the mine get on the ship in the first place? According to CBS, “Katada said the crew members also spotted an Iranian naval ship nearby, but didn’t specify whether that was before or after the attacks.” Did divers from the Iranian ship sneak up and plant the mines? If not and if Katada is right that something was fired at the ship instead of planted on it, wouldn’t the crew have noticed where the fire was coming from? My first thought when I read his quotes was that maybe the crew was still in Iranian custody and under duress, willing to contradict the Pentagon’s “mine” theory simply to secure their release. But the crew of the Kokuka Courageous isn’t in Iranian custody; as the Centcom spokesman said in the first excerpt above, they were rescued by the U.S. Navy and returned to their vessel this morning. Presumably they’re telling the truth about what they believe happened.

Is Katada maybe worried about further attacks by Iran and potentially other impediments to his shipping business in the Gulf, figuring that placating the Iranians here by spinning some story that contradicts the U.S. account of what happened might save him some trouble in the future?

A week ago the three nations whose tankers were attacked in UAE coastal waters last month released their findings, indicating that those four ships were also likely targeted with mines. Now we have video of the crew of an Iranian boat alongside the Kokuka Courageous after a new attack removing a suspicious object from the hull. Sure smells like guilt. “Iran did do it,” Trump told “Fox & Friends” this morning. “You saw the boat. One [of the] mines didn’t explode, and it has Iran written all over it. They successfully took the mine off the boat, and that was exposed. They didn’t want the evidence left behind … It was them that did it.”

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Vox: Climate Change is not an existential threat to civilization (like AOC keeps saying)

Fri, 06/14/2019 - 18:41

Vox published an interesting piece Thursday which actually takes some climate change hysteria being pushed by rival outlet Vice to task. The Vice story was titled “New Report Warns ‘High Likelihood of Human Civilization Coming to an End’ Within 30 Years.’” The story, which featured an image of a broken statue of liberty standing in water up to her neck, was based on an “analysis” published by the Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration, an Australian climate change think tank. It reads in part:

On our current trajectory, the report warns, “planetary and human systems [are] reaching a ‘point of no return’ by mid-century, in which the prospect of a largely uninhabitable Earth leads to the breakdown of nations and the international order.”

But Vox, to its credit, points out that even climate change scientists cited the Vice piece as overstated nonsense:

“This is a classic case of a media article over-stating the conclusions and significance of a non-peer reviewed report that itself had already overstated (and indeed misrepresented) peer-reviewed science,” wrote Richard Betts, who chairs the department for climate impact research at the University of Exeter and leads the European Union project that studies the impacts of extreme global warming.

The Breakthrough report does indeedgather claims from other papers, climate leaders, and thinkers. But it selected many of the scariest and most speculative papers and presented them without being clear about how plausible they are.

And some of its most outrageous claims are just wrong. The report argues that if temperatures continue to rise, “fifty-five percent of the global population are subject to more than 20 days a year of lethal heat conditions beyond that which humans can survive.” That’d be terrifying. But Betts points out that this is based on the definition of a “deadly heat wave” from a paper that defined a deadly heat wave as one above a threshold where at least one person is expected to die (based on historical data). And some of the temperatures identified as deadly are as low as 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius) with high humidity — hot, but not what comes to mind from the phrase “lethal heat conditions beyond what humans can survive.”

“The report’s authors have merely read (or possibly seen without actually reading) a few of the scariest papers they could find, misunderstood (or not read properly) at least one of them, and presented unjustified statements,” Betts added…

I also talked to some researchers who study existential risks, like John Halstead, who studies climate change mitigation at the philanthropic advising group Founders Pledge, and who has a detailed online analysis of all the (strikingly few) climate change papers that address existential risk (his analysis has not been peer-reviewed yet).

Halstead looks into the models of potential temperature increases that Breakthrough’s report highlights. The models show a surprisingly large chance of extreme degrees of warming. Halstead points out that in many papers, this is the result of the simplistic form of statistical modeling used. Other papers have made a convincing case that this form of statistical modeling is an irresponsible way to reason about climate change, and that the dire projections rest on a statistical method that is widely understood to be a bad approach for that question.

In sum, this is hysteria masquerading as science. In the last few paragraphs of the Vox piece, the author notes that Swedish teen Greta Thunberg has been making a big splash by telling people climate change is going to kill us all. That’s true but I find it curious that Vox fails to mention a home-grown climate change extremist who has been getting as much or more attention for predicting our doom. (Side note: You can always identify the strongest conservative argument on any topic Vox is covering. It’s the one they don’t mention.)

Climate change is an existential threat if we ignore it, but can be an opportunity if we pursue a #GreenNewDeal. I support the latter.

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) September 9, 2017

That was 2017 but not much has changed since her election to Congress. In January of this year, AOC said, “Millenials and Gen Z and all these folks that came after us are looking up and we’re like ‘The world is going to end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change and your biggest issue is how are we going to pay for it?’” She later claimed that was “dry humor” but it’s not the only time she has claimed lives were at stake. In fact, one day after her dry humor comment, she attacked Joe Biden for presenting a moderate approach: “I will be damned if the same politicians who refused to act then are going to try to come back today and say we need to find a middle-of-the-road approach to save our lives.”

Bottom-line, even Vox thinks we should tune out the climate change hysterics who talk as if our future is going to be something out of a Hollywood disaster movie. But they couldn’t quite bring themselves to point out that AOC is frequently one of those hysterics.

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Elite female soccer player refuses to honor American flag, blames Trump

Fri, 06/14/2019 - 18:01

She calls herself a walking protest to President Trump. Even while overseas, soccer star player Megan Rapinoe refused to show respect for her country in the most basic way. She didn’t sing the national anthem or even put her hand over her heart as it played before the U.S. women’s soccer team’s match with Thailand.

The score of that match and the team’s celebrations after each goal scored became the story, as some labeled it as bad behavior. When I first read about Megan Rapinoe’s politically-motivated behavior I was surprised she didn’t garner more attention than she did. After all, her actions are meant to grab the attention of soccer fans as she brings politics into the sport of soccer. With the passage of some time, though, I questioned if her part of the story was really any big deal or not. The more I think about it, though, the more I am convinced that it is.

Megan Rapinoe is a member of an elite team of American women athletes. I congratulate the American women competing in the World Cup competition, three-time Women’s World Cup champions, and wish them well. Rapinoe’s behavior does not sit well with me.

Rapinoe received attention when she became the first white player to kneel during the national anthem. She did so in solidarity with former football player Colin Kaepernick in August 2016. Kaepernick began the protest to bring attention to police brutality and racial inequality. President Obama was in office. She said she would “probably never sing the national anthem again” at that time. In 2017 President Trump criticized the NFL players who participated in kneeling during the national anthem and that led to the pile-on from other players as they also took a knee on the football field. The gesture began to be associated with an anti-Trump protest and overshadowed the original intent.

The U.S. soccer federation did what the NFL refused to do – they nipped the protest in the bud. Rapinoe was not pleased that she was denied the opportunity to make a political statement during a sports event. She felt entitled to being included in the decision-making process, though she is a player, not a team owner or member of the federation’s governing board.

She said she wasn’t satisfied with the conversation that stemmed from her decision to kneel during the anthem. She expressed her displeasure with U.S. soccer’s statement about the kneeling controversy and the federation’s decision to adopt a rule requiring players to “stand and honor the flag.”

“Using this blanketed patriotism as a defense against what the protest actually is was pretty cowardly. I think the NFL does it,” she told Yahoo Sports. “I felt like the statement from U.S. Soccer, and then the rule they made without ever talking to me, that was the same as what the NFL was doing – just to not have the conversation, to try to just stop me from doing what I’m doing instead of at least having a conversation, and trying to figure out a [solution] that makes sense for everyone.”

Rapinoe was a captain of the team during the game against Thailand. She scored a goal during the game. No one doubts her athletic ability. She carried through with her routine of not singing along to the national anthem or placing her hand over her heart as it played. It’s really offensive to many Americans, though, to behave this way overseas. For me, I don’t care if she sings or not. A lot of people don’t sing along to the national anthem, but they stand and most people place their hand over their heart in a gesture of respect. Being overseas places an extra burden on Americans. It used to be a rule of thumb that Americans didn’t criticize the United States while overseas. Criticisms and political partisanship were left at the water’s edge. That isn’t what happens anymore and it’s not a good thing. Whether it’s Nancy Pelosi, the third most powerful person in American government, criticizing President Trump to reporters in France during the 75th commemoration of D-Day, or former Vice-President Biden slamming Trump during a speech in Germany earlier this year, bad behavior is becoming the norm.

I think about the patriotism shown by American athletes during the Olympic games. How many times have we seen them tear up as the American anthem is played during award ceremonies? Usually, we have no idea what, if any, political views those athletes hold and that is as it should be. They are representatives of the United States of America. It’s the same for the players in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. She said in May 2019 that her protest is now about President Trump.

While she will still represent the U.S. in their effort to win another World Cup, Rapinoe called herself a “walking protest” she believes the Trump administration doesn’t “value all American equally.”

“I feel like it’s kind of defiance in and of itself to just be who I am and wear the jersey, and represent it,” Rapinoe told the website. “Because I’m as talented as I am, I get to be here, you don’t get to tell me if I can be here or not. So it’s kind of a good ‘F you’ to any sort of inequality or bad sentiments that the administration might have towards people who don’t look exactly like him. Which, God help us if we all looked like him. Scary. Really scary. Ahh, disturbing.”

As I said, I don’t care if she actually sings along to the national anthem or not. It’s not out-of-bounds, though, to expect her to show some respect for the flag while overseas. She’s a privileged American living her dream, thanks to the sacrifices of brave Americans who fought for her right to do so on foreign soil. While she contemplates social justice and inequality, maybe she should also think about how fortunate she is to be an American. She told a reporter last October what it would take for her to show respect for her country.

“It would take a lot,” she responded. “It would take criminal justice reform. It would take the huge inequality gap that we have to be much better. It would take a lot of progress in LGBTQ rights. We just have such a disparity in this country in so many different ways, inequality in so many different ways.”

It is her right to choose to behave as she does. That is a right afforded her as an American citizen. Just because she can act as she does, however, doesn’t mean she should. She should keep her politics off the soccer field. There’s plenty of time for advancing her ideas during the off-season.

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Dem debate draw: Warren lucks out, avoids Bernie, Biden, Harris in her “group” on night one of the first primary debate

Fri, 06/14/2019 - 17:31

Yes, I said “night one.” The Democratic clown car is so full that it’ll take two nights to unload everyone. No less than 20 candidates have qualified and you can’t have anything resembling a “debate” with 20 people jockeying for time and attention. So the DNC decided to split the field into two groups, with 10 to debate on night one and the other 10 to debate on night two.

And how would they choose the composition of the two groups? Pure luck o’ the draw, my friend.

Which led to some unusual suspense for a political pageant. Depending on which group you end up in, you might be either the star of the show or stuck competing with a bunch of top-tier candidates for attention. Likewise, if by chance you share the stage with someone in your “lane” of the primary, you might expect more attacks than you would if you end up sharing it with a bunch of candidates who are competing for other constituencies.

The DNC announced the draw today. I think Warren is the chief beneficiary.

NBC has the two groups, Purple and Orange.


de Blasio

NBC now huddling to see which group goes first..?

— Ruby Cramer (@rubycramer) June 14, 2019

Most of the heavy hitters are lumped into the “purple” group — Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg, and the Bernie/Biden ideological death match — whereas Warren’s the only top-tier candidate in the “orange” group. Most of the rest in “orange” are asterisk candidates who’ll be more interested in introducing themselves to the public than in attacking her. The one former top-tier candidate onstage with her, Beto O’Rourke, isn’t really aiming at the same progressive constituency as she is; he’s more likely to jab at the absent Joe Biden than at Warren. The only threat she faces potentially will come from Cory Booker, who may be desperate enough to make a splash after languishing for so long in the polls that he’ll come after her. Booker has some big policy ideas of his own, after all. Jawing with Warren might end up as his way to try to establish himself as a wonkish candidate to rival her.

Some people think this is a bad draw for Warren, actually:

I think I’d rather have Biden in my group if I were Warren or pretty much any of the other frontrunners.

— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) June 14, 2019

Oh shit! Sen. Warren got stuck in the kids debate.

— Gabriel Malor (@gabrielmalor) June 14, 2019

Warren hardest hit. No one will watch that debate.

— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) June 14, 2019

Meh. Ratings will be good even for the “kiddie table” debate. Democratic voters are amped up to defeat Trump and eager to get the process started. They’ll tune in. And the “kiddie table” is less of a liability at the first debate than at subsequent ones since, for many voters, this will be their first look at all of the candidates. No one’s really an also-ran at this stage. (Except Eric Swalwell.) As for Silver’s critique, why should Warren want to get her hands dirty early by wrestling with Biden when there’ll be three other top-tier candidates on stage with him who’ll do it for her? Bernie can prosecute the progressive case against him as well as she can. She can sit back, watch the carnage, and rest easy that she won’t be in line for any of Biden’s return fire.

Besides, the DNC has already set the rules to start whittling the field going forward so that top-tier candidates don’t get stuck at the kiddie table as voters begin getting more serious about the race. The cut-off for the third debate in September will require candidates to notch at least two percent in four separate polls between late June and late August *and* to draw 130,000 individual donors with at least 400 from 20 different states. Gillibrand’s time at the “adult table” will be short, in other words. Warren will have to face the grown-ups soon enough.

For now, she should savor her luck. Oh, except for the fact that her group will go on night one while the “adult table” will go on night two. Anyone in the latter group who wants to take a shot at her won’t need to worry about her responding. At least not on camera.

Update: As I think more about it, I’m inclined to say that going on night one is actually a benefit to her too. Democratic voters may be eager for the primaries to start, but even political junkies can take only so much of public debates. There are destined to be some Dems who are willing to watch two hours of candidates debating but not four hours. Wouldn’t surprise me if the audience on night one exceeds the audience on night two, the Bernie/Biden fight notwithstanding.

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The liberal think tank trying to break up Big Tech

Fri, 06/14/2019 - 17:01

Politico published an interesting story today about a think tank called the Open Markets Institute. The group only has about a dozen employees but it has connections to some of the leading candidates for president on the Democratic side, especially Elizabeth Warren who has been a fan of the group since 2016. The basic complaint being pushed is that Big Tech, i.e. Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc., need to be broken up the way that Standard Oil was broken up a century ago. And the reason, at least the one that seems to be on everyone’s mind, is the election of President Trump:

Open Markets believes the major online companies need government intervention, including in some cases breaking them apart the way Standard Oil was split more than a century ago. And it’s seizing the political moment created by Donald Trump’s surprise 2016 election victory, which has put the tech industry on the defensive over everything from Russian disinformation to data privacy.

“When Trump won, it turned out that Google and Facebook were not magicians,” said Matt Stoller, an Open Markets fellow and former staffer on the Senate Budget Committee under ranking member Sanders (I-Vt.). “They were just marketers, and that was a massive hit to the prestige of ‘Big Tech.’”

One of the group’s big wins was the pushback against Amazon’s new headquarters in New York:

Ron Kim, a Democratic member of the New York state Assembly, credits Open Markets with helping him articulate arguments against Amazon as he helped lead pushback against the company’s planned second-headquarters expansion into Queens’ Long Island City neighborhood. “I ended up learning and growing tremendously as a lawmaker, because they have been doing this a lot longer than I have,” Kim told POLITICO.

Amazon abandoned its New York City plans in February, saying that “a number of state and local politicians have made it clear that they oppose our presence and will not work with us.”

The group offers one-on-one briefings but also seems to specialize in hyperbolic public statements of its own, such as describing a $5 billion fine of Facebook as a “parking-ticket-level penalty for destroying democracy.”

Given the progressive leanings of Google, Facebook, and other Big Tech companies, it’s hard to get too worked up about them being broken up into smaller entities. On the other hand, reading the Politico story you get the impression that OMI has been one of the forces driving the Big Tech companies to the left in the past two years. As the resistance seized on Facebook ads and Twitter memes for spoiling the outcome of the 2016 election, there was a partisan push to make these companies pay a price for failing to stop Trump. Under that external pressure, Big Tech has been bending over backward to comply with the wishes of progressive activists who want to silence conservative voices online. Given who supports and runs OMI, I’m not sure that a completely accidental byproduct of their efforts. Breaking up Big Tech may be the long-term goal, but in the short term, they are giving the left greater control of what is deemed acceptable in the online space.

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Did Trump already nominate Shanahan for SecDef?

Fri, 06/14/2019 - 16:31

What exactly is Patrick Shanahan’s status within the Trump administration? After announcing in early May that Donald Trump wanted to take the “acting” off of his “acting Secretary of Defense” title, his future looks murkier than ever. Earlier this week Trump suggested that he’d made the formal nomination, but a “We’ll see” today has Politico scratching its collective head:

Trump on Tuesday indicated Shanahan’s nomination was a done deal, even though it’s been more than a month since the White House announced on May 9 that Trump intended to nominate Shanahan for the job, and he has yet to make it official.

“Well, I have, defense secretary. I have. It’s done. I put it out,” Trump said on Tuesday when asked why he hasn’t made the nomination official. “Yeah, it’s done from the standpoint of the nomination. Wait, wait, wait, Pat Shanahan was nominated two weeks ago. Yeah, no, I put it out, I put it out officially. Now he has to go through the process. He’s now going through.”

But on Friday, he didn’t sound so definitive during an interview with “Fox & Friends.”

“He’s been recommended, now he has to be approved by Congress. We are going to see,” Trump said, adding again, “We are going to see, Pat Shanahan has been recommended for the job.”

Actually, it sounds as though Trump believes he’s already made the formal nomination. “Now he has to be approved by Congress” would follow from Tuesday’s “It’s done, I put it out.” His “we are going to see” comment appears to refer to Senate approval, not a pending decision of his own.

Politico’s confusion is still understandable, as was the question itself from Fox & Friends. If Trump has formally nominated Shanahan, there’s no evidence of it. A search of the official White House website for “Shanahan nomination” only turns up his June 2017 nomination for Deputy Secretary of Defense, his previous position. Likewise, a search of nominations at the Senate Armed Services Committee website shows only the June 2017 appointment, followed by his confirmation in July 2017 on a 92-7 vote.

The question came up because NBC News reported earlier this week that Trump might be having second thoughts about the appointment. There hasn’t been a solid explanation for rethinking the appointment, but the assumption in the media is that Trump might not have liked Shanahan’s reaction to the controversy over the White House Military Office’s bizarre request to hide the USS John McCain during Trump’s Memorial Day review of the fleet in Japan. Shanahan made his displeasure known at the time, with someone at the Pentagon leaking his rebuke to the WHMO to refrain from politicizing the military.

At the time, I predicted that might have repercussions for Shanahan’s expected formal nomination:

It’s possible, though, that Shanahan’s attempt to throw the White House under the bus might not go over so well with the administration. At the same time Shanahan was making his displeasure clear, Trump’s chief of staff Mick Mulvaney was telling Chuck Todd that it was no big deal …

It’s “not an unreasonable thing” to request a naval vessel move out of the president’s view because he doesn’t like the namesake’s son? Seriously? Of all the positions the White House could take, that’s, uh … one of them, I guess. It seems surpassingly strange that Mulvaney just doesn’t follow normal embarrassment-recovery mode by removing the Military Office staffer that created the problem. It’s hardly “silly” to deal with this by dispensing with the dispensable … unless that request came from higher up the food chain after all, from someone a lot less “dispensable.” If that’s the case, it would explain Mulvaney’s seemingly blasé attitude — and that might not bode well for Shanahan’s very public get-tough position.

All of this was prior to the provocation in the Gulf of Oman, however. With the potential for significant hostilities with Iran rising by the day, Trump can’t really afford to shuffle his Pentagon lineup now. As it is, Shanahan will be peppered with questions about preparations for war and policy issues about security for oil shipments. Bringing someone else up to speed on those priorities would take weeks if not months, a delay that Trump can’t afford if Iran raises the stakes even further.

At this point, the White House needs to remove the ambiguity. If Shanahan hasn’t yet been formally nominated, they need to close that loop — or get on with another one ASAP.

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Anita Hill: I could totally vote for Joe Biden

Fri, 06/14/2019 - 16:01

Almost thirty years after the fact, Anita Hill still holds Joe Biden responsible for not defending her enthusiastically enough in Clarence Thomas’ confirmation hearing. She pointedly refused to accept a very belated expression of regret from the former VP earlier this year, and to this day sounds bitter about her interactions with the Democratic frontrunner.

But would she vote for Biden if he ran against Trump? “Of course I could,” Hill tells NBC:

Anita Hill said she considers Joe Biden partly responsible for how she was treated during Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ confirmation hearings in 1991 — but she’s still open to voting for him for president. …

Hill said she does hold Biden responsible for how the hearings were handled because “I believe every chairman of any committee really is responsible for how a hearing is conducted.”

Asked if there was any “moral equivalency” between Biden and President Donald Trump, who’s denied allegations that he sexually assaulted more than a dozen women over the years, Hill said: “Absolutely not. I never said that and never intended to say that.”

When asked if she could conceive of voting for Biden if he is the Democratic nominee in 2020, Hill said, “Of course I could.”

There’s no moral equivalency? Biden has also been accused of sexual misconduct by four women after years of barely-concealed chatter about his weird handsiness with women and young girls. The accusations this year prompted Biden to issue an “I get it” video, followed by a series of incidents in which he laughed it off. Those allegations of sexual harassment go well beyond the accusations Hill leveled at Clarence Thomas, and had more witnesses to them, too.

Ah well, Hill’s not the only Democrat to give Biden a pass based on political affiliation. We can expect a lot more of that if Biden maintains his position as front-runner. Will it take the issue off the table in a general election for Trump? Probably not, although it will certainly be entertaining to see the media and Biden’s surrogates twist themselves into pretzels by claiming the moral high ground.

Speaking of sexual harassment, NBC gave Hill another easy layup by asking about Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault when they were both teenagers:

Hill also weighed in on Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing, saying she “absolutely” identified with Christine Blasey Ford, who accused him of sexual assault, which Kavanaugh denied.

“She was in the same situation” with “intense pressure,” Hill said.

Hill’s referring to the hearing, but the similarities go beyond that too. Both women told shifting stories, had no evidence in support of the allegations, and demanded to be believed rather than corroborated. Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee bungled both as well, although not likely in the manner in which Hill would argue. Dianne Feinstein hid Blasey Ford’s allegation from chair Chuck Grassley until it leaked and set off a media firestorm.

Of course, now that Hill says she can vote for Biden in the general election, she has made herself irrelevant to it. Her potential for damage to Biden was all that made her newsworthy in this election cycle. With that gone, Hill’s return from relative obscurity will not be long-lived.

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