Apparently the Orange County school district (Florida/Orlando) has plans to monitor students’ social media messages in an effort to curb cyberbullying, crime on campus and suicide. Because, you know, that’s what they’re there for:
Orange County Public Schools announced Thursday that it has acquired software to monitor social media “to proactively prevent, intervene and (watch) situations that may impact students and staff.” The district has obtained an annual license with SnapTrends, software that monitors Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.
The district said it plans to use the software to conduct routine monitoring for the purposes of prevention or early intervention of potential issues in which students or staff could be at risk to themselves or to others.
OCPS said the company will assist district law enforcement and security personnel in monitoring publicly available social media communications that are relevant to school operations and personnel.
“This is a tool that gives the district intelligence into a situation that could possibly prevent something more serious from happening,” Orange County Public Schools Senior Director of Safety and Security Doug Tripp said.
“Safety in and around school campuses is the top priority for Orange County school leaders,” OCPS said in a news release. “Recognizing social media is a major communication system, the district has acquired social media monitoring software.”
School officials acknowledge the online snooping might raise privacy questions. But board member Linda Kobert said the district is taking advantage of “new tools to protect our children.”
Might raise some privacy questions? Well, social media are indeed made up of public postings. But let me ask you a more important question? Is this a role for a school district? Or is this another example of a creeping bureaucratic mission? And what will the school district do with any information it gleans from its “monitoring?”
Note again, that we have a public official putting “safety” over supposed privacy concerns. Oh, and btw, do you suppose that potential or real cyber-bullies don’t know how to set up fake accounts? And is this a good use of school funds with the literacy problems most public school districts face? The questions are endless.
Some people feel they have to take everything to an extreme. Why, I’m not sure. And I’m also pretty sure I think this particular extreme is both unnecessary and provocative. If there’s trouble, will it rise to the level of “incitement”?
Jon Ritzheimer is a former Marine, and he has no middle ground when it comes to Islam.
A T-shirt he wears pretty much says it all: “F— Islam.”
Ritzheimer is the organizer of Friday’s “Freedom of Speech Rally” outside the Islamic Community Center in Phoenix.
It’s the mosque that Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofiattended for a time. They’re the men who drove from Arizona to a Dallas suburb to shoot up a Prophet Mohammed cartoon contest there. Both were killed by police early this month.
Many Muslims consider any depiction of Mohammed to be blasphemous and banned by the Islamic holy book, the Quran.
“This is in response to the recent attack in Texas where 2 armed terrorist(s), with ties to ISIS, attempted Jihad,” the event’s Facebook page said.
Some 600 people say they’re attending.
It is one thing to hold an event in another part of the state and end up being attacked by people/terrorists who chose to travel there and do so. It is another thing to go to a group’s home and intentionally antagonize and invite an attack by showing up uninvited and attempting to provoke a response.
Other reports have said the group will be heavily armed, quoting Ritzheimer as saying they are going to exercise their First Amendment rights and back them with their Second Amendment rights.
I support both rights, but I think this is foolish, stupid and deliberately antagonistic as well as being unnecessary. The point has been made. It will continue to be made. But this is not the right way to make it again.
Nice economic growth we had in the first quarter, no? Apparently adjustments have seen the reported GDP numbers fall from 0.2 growth to a 0.7 contraction. Economists want to argue that its just the way the government computes this stuff:
Economists, however, caution against reading too much into the slump in output. They argue the GDP figure for the first quarter was held down by a confluence of temporary factors, including a problem with the model the government uses to smooth the data for seasonal fluctuations.
Economists, including those at the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank, have cast doubts on the accuracy of GDP estimates for the first quarter, which have tended to show weakness over the last several years.
They argued the so-called seasonal adjustment is not fully stripping out seasonal patterns, leaving “residual” seasonality. The government said last week it was aware of the potential problem and was working to minimize it.
I’m sorry, boys and girls, since when is 0.2 growth in any quarter “good news”. Its sort of like the unemployment figures. Mostly fudged. And apparently that’s precisely what the government will now attempt to do to show better numbers. These bad numbers just don’t help the government tell you how well it’s doing, do they? What’s this, our 6th or 7th “summer of recovery?”
Excellent Kevin D. Williamson article about the old and discredited ideas of Bernie Sanders, which he ends with a caution that we should all understand by now:
Senator Sanders may insist on living in the dark ages, and his view is not without its partisans. But those views are crude, they are backward, and they are, objectively speaking, incorrect about the way the economic world works. They are barely a step above superstition, and they merit consideration for only one reason: “Voters — all they gotta be is eighteen.”
And if they’re illegal, the Democrats say, “meh”.
Meanwhile in liberal bastions, things are just going swimmingly. Detroit:
No getting around it: Filling up your gas tank at certain stations in Detroit can be hazardous to your health.
Police Chief James Craig said at a Tuesday media conference that he’d avoid getting gas late at night in the city unless he had to, and he urged residents to be careful at the pump, according to Tom Greenwood of The Detroit News.
“I wouldn’t, but if I had to, I would,” Craig said. “But I’d probably be very aware of my surroundings.”
Craig’s commented after a driver was killed early Monday evening while trying to flee a carjacking attempt at an east-side gas station.
A wasteland run by Democrats for decades.
Baltimore was seeing a slight rise in homicides this year even before Gray’s death April 19. But the 38 homicides so far in May is a major spike, after 22 in April, 15 in March, 13 in February and 23 in January.
With one weekend still to go, May 2015 is already the deadliest month in 15 years, surpassing the November 1999 total of 36.
Ten of May’s homicides happened in the Western District, which has had as many homicides in the first five months of this year as it did all of last year.
Non-fatal shootings are spiking as well – 91 so far in May, 58 of them in the Western District.
The mayor said her office is “examining” the relationship between the homicide spike and the dwindling arrest rate.
I’m sure they are “examining” it – and they’ll likely conclude its a matter of racism at some level. While she is “examining” the relationship, she should ponder the statistic that says child victims of shootings are up 500% this year. Well done!
While overall crime is down almost seven percent, shootings are up 7.1 percent so far this year. Murders are up 15.3 percent. Even with the increase, it’s a much lower number than the 1980s and 1990s.
The mayor blames it on gangs. Why have gangs again become a problem?
Of course each of these cities can look to the midwest and say, “hey, at least we’re not Chicago.”
It’s a really good question, given we were apparently purposely lied too by the President and Secretary of State as to the “why” of Benghazi:
New documents obtained by Judicial Watch and made public Monday show that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other senior officials under President Obama were given intelligence within hours of the Sept. 11, 2012, Benghazi attack describing how it had been planned at least 10 days in advance “to kill as many Americans as possible.”
A heavily redacted copy of a Sept. 12, 2012, Defense Intelligence Agency memo to Clinton, then Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, the White House National Security Council and the Joint Chiefs of Staff said “the attack was planned 10 or more days prior on approximately 01 September 2012. The intention was to attack the consulate and to kill as many Americans as possible to seek revenge for U.S. killing of Aboyahiye ((ALALIBY)) in Pakistan and in memorial of the 11 September 2001 atacks on the World Trade Center buildings.”
The attack “was planned and executed by the Brigades of the Captive Omar Abdul Rahman (BCOAR). BCOAR is also responsible for past attacks on the Red Cross in Benghazi and the attack on the British Ambassador, they have approximately 120 members.” Rahman is serving a life sentence in a federal prison for his role in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center which killed six people in New York.
The memo was labeled: “Information Report, Not Finally Evaluated Intelligence.”
“Not finally evaluated” but certainly much more plausible than some video made by some clown in CA. And per the memo, both Obama and Clinton knew this within hours of the attack.
So, what difference does it make? Well, quite a bit to anyone with an sense of morality about them. It points to blatant dishonesty to hide their incompetence. But to partisan hacks and the left, it probably doesn’t mean much that they stood by the coffins of the 4 slain in Benghazi and spun a web of lies.
Has that sunk in yet? Your former Secretary of State told you a bald-faced lie and now would like to be your President.
Tell me how she’ll be truthful about everything from now on, won’t you?
Oh, wait … emails …
One of the favorite ploys of Democrats is to claim the GOP has a tendency to “politicize” tragedies.
Well, there’s politicizing a problem and then there pretending there is a problem in order to politicize it. This recent Amtrak tragedy is the latter.
What do I mean? Well, they hadn’t even cleared the bodies from the wreckage before former Governor Ed Rendell was on “Morning Joe” talking about how it was due to a lack of infrastructure spending.
Meanwhile, the NTSB is putting out stuff like this:
Oh … 100 mph in a 50 mph curve? That’s an obvious problem with “infrastructure spending”, isn’t it?
But that didn’t stop the Democrats talking point from continuing to roll, did it? Nope, the good old reliable media pitches in as well. Phillip Bump in the Washington Post:
As The Post’s Colby Itkowitz noted, Congress has delayed passing legislation to fund Amtrak since 2013. The last time it did so, in 2008, the vote passed only after a rail disaster. Which, of course, happened again Tuesday night.
The constant struggle of Amtrak to get funding derives largely from the fact that not very many Americans use the rail system. Ridership is heavily centered in the Northeast, in the corridor between Boston and Washington where Tuesday’s accident occurred. But more than that, ridership is unevenly distributed politically. Data from the National Association of Railroad Passengers shows the number of passengers that get on or off the train in any given congressional district, and reveals an obvious reason why Republicans might not be too concerned about funding the system.
Amtrak has never had a profitable year since its inception. In fact it is a totally subsidized rail system that would fail if not subsidized. And as Bump mentions, it is “heavily centered” in a northeastern corridor. So essentially, given the fact that the “elites” want Americans in mass transit and this fits the description, plus it is very handy for said elites to use if they so choose, they’re fine with a wealth transfer from the rest of the country to support their desires.
Powerline picks up on the media bias as well:
There is a certain irony in these three stories perching one above the other on Politico’s main page: House panel votes to cut Amtrak budget hours after deadly crash; Analysis: GOP cuts to transportation, housing draw fire; and Derailed Amtrak was likely traveling at twice recommended speed.
Politico is a mouthpiece for the Washington establishment, where all spending is good spending. But the anti-Republican theme was picked up by many other news outlets, like Reuters: “Amtrak crash throws spotlight on funding disputes; Republicans back cuts.” And the New York Daily News: “Deadly malfeasance: Amtrak passengers paid with their lives for Washington’s neglect of transportation.”
But funding is not the problem. Amtrak has gotten over 30 billion dollars in subsidies since its founding in 1970. 30 billion. For a small railroad. The WaPo’s Bump also claimed that “Republicans” hadn’t funded Amtrak since 2013.
In fact, they gave Amtrak nearly $1.4 billion less than five months ago.
One of those anti-narrative facts that keep ruining their righteous rant.
Oh, and as for “infrastructure spending?” You remember the stimulus don’t you? Wasn’t that for “infrastructure?” And who was in charge of doling out the loot then?
Yeah, certainly not Republicans.
Meanwhile, the union associated with Amtrak decides it too needs to score political points on the back of the 7 dead and many injured:
The Teamsters-affiliated Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Lodge 3014(BMWE) published a blog post on Tuesday attributing the deadly crash to new safety standards proposed by management of the government-partnered railroad.
“The new ‘One Amtrak Way’, along with the new inexperienced Amtrak senior management (after the old experienced senior managers were fired) has lead to this massive derailment,” the union said.
Reuters reported that the train was not equipped with the latest U.S. safety controls that are supposed to prevent high-speed derailments.
The Pennsylvania-based BMWE failed to mention the actions of the operator on its website, instead focusing on the union dispute with management. The crash, the post said, came as “senior management has declared war on safety with it’s [sic] unions.” Union membership unanimously approved a resolution in April giving union leadership permission to call a strike. Lodge 3014 had about 240 members in 2014, according to its most recent federal labor filings.
“The unions [sic] struggle to maintain safe working conditions is hampered by Amtrak senior management’s lust for complete control and railroad inexperience,” the blog post said.
Why does Amtrak continue to be such a fiscal wreck? The usual reasons:
In its current form, Amtrak is less a for-profit passenger rail corporation and more a union jobs program (its ridiculous labor contracts are a major reason why the company is perpetually swimming in red ink).
Despite all the disingenuous chatter about a lack of infrastructure funding for Amtrak, the company’s salary costs absolutely dwarf its infrastructure depreciation expenses. In 2013, for example, Amtrak spent $2.1 billion on salaries, while it recorded $687 million in annual depreciation costs. Amtrak’s pension losses alone in 2013 totaled $425 million.
The numbers are pretty easy to compute. Nothing is going to change here. Amtrak will continue to be a money pit that benefits only a relative few in the country.
However, again, funding and spending wasn’t the reason this train crashed and killed, is it? At least no according to witnesses and a preliminary finding by the NTSB.
But since the politicizing has begun by the left, why not jump in. Powerline asks the pertinent questions:
The real question is, why is the federal government in the railroad business at all? Far more people are killed in automobile accidents than train crashes, but no one says the problem is that the federal government doesn’t pay enough money to car companies. If Amtrak can’t operate safely–reasonably safely, since nothing is absolutely safe–based on the revenue it gets from customers, it should go out of business, like any other company.
Here is another question: why should businessmen, journalists, lobbyists and politicians who commute between Washington and points north have their travel costs subsidized by taxpayers? Train travel costs what it costs. Those who ride the trains should pay those costs, just like those who fly in airplanes. It is absurd that the richest and most powerful companies in the United States have their employees’ travel costs subsidized by you and me. This is cronyism at its worst. Amtrak should be a wholly private enterprise. Having ridden that Northeastern line that goes to Washington a number of times, I think it has great advantages over air travel and could easily charge enough money to be profitable in competent hands.
Look folks, the federal government has proven its incompetence for decades when it comes to running or managing anything in a efficient and cost-effective way. Why? Because there are no penalties for it not doing so. It just takes more of your money to cover its incompetence or goes into debt in your name.
These questions deserve answers. The incompetence involved, the fiscal waste, is simply staggering. And 7 people paid with their lives because of it.
Will we get any answer to those questions? Oh, no. The elites are fine with you subsidizing their travel expenses. And since, it seems, most of our “leadership” comes out of that area anymore, you’re not going to see that change anytime soon.
Divestment of Amtrak is the answer, but then, passengers would have to pay real costs wouldn’t they? And the leaching elites, who will condemn you in a NY minuted for not paying your “fair share” aren’t about to see this bit of subsidized cronyism pass by the way side are they?
I mean how would Joe Biden get home?
Detroit is what Democrats do. The last Republican elected mayor of Detroit took office during the Eisenhower administration. The decay of Detroit is not the inevitable outcome of the decline of the automotive industry: The automotive industry is thriving in the United States — but not in Detroit. It isn’t white flight: The black middle class has left Detroit as fast as it can. The model of Detroit politics is startlingly familiar in its fundamentals, distinguished only by its degree of advancement: Advance the interests of public-sector unions and politically connected business cronies, expand the relative size of the public sector remorselessly — and when opposed, cry “Racism!” When people vote with their feet, cry “Racism!” When the budget just won’t balance, cry “Racism!” Never mind that the current mayor of Detroit is the first non–African American to hold that job since the 1970s, or that, as one Detroit News columnist put it, “black nationalism . . . is now the dominant ideology of the [city] council” — somewhere, there must be a somebody else to blame, preferably: aged, portly, white, male, and Republican. No less a fool than Ed Schultz blamed the straits of this exemplar of Democratic single-party rule on “a lot of Republican policies.” Melissa Harris-Perry, “America’s leading public intellectual,” blames Detroit’s problems on its conservatism and small government, oblivious to the fact that Detroit maintains twice as many city employees per resident as do larger cities such as Fort Worth and Indianapolis, and three times as many as liberal San Jose.
Then, just look at the blue model elsewhere and its track record:
St. Louis has not had a Republican mayor since the 1940s, and in its most recent elections for the board of aldermen there was no Republican in the majority of the contests; the city is overwhelmingly Democratic, effectively a single-party political monopoly from its schools to its police department. Baltimore has seen two Republicans sit in the mayor’s office since the 1920s — and none since the 1960s. Like St. Louis, it is effectively a single-party political monopoly from its schools to its police department. Philadelphia has not elected a Republican mayor since 1948. The last Republican to be elected mayor of Detroit was congratulated on his victory by President Eisenhower. Atlanta, a city so corrupt that its public schools are organized as a criminal conspiracy against its children, last had a Republican mayor in the 19th century. Its municipal elections are officially nonpartisan, but the last Republican to run in Atlanta’s 13th congressional district did not manage to secure even 30 percent of the vote; Atlanta is effectively a single-party political monopoly from its schools to its police department.
But our blamer-in-chief and responsibility dodger par excellence prefers to have you believe that the problem is this particular Congress which happens to be Republican.
Of course, obviously the problems in Baltimore aren’t a recent event, as something that has developed within the last 2 years:
This did not come out of nowhere. While the progressives have been running the show in Baltimore, police commissioner Ed Norris was sent to prison on corruption charges (2004), two detectives were sentenced to 454 years in prison for dealing drugs (2005), an officer was dismissed after being videotaped verbally abusing a 14-year-old and then failing to file a report on his use of force against the same teenager (2011), an officer was been fired for sexually abusing a minor (2014), and the city paid a quarter-million-dollar settlement to a man police illegally arrested for the non-crime of recording them at work with his mobile phone. There’s a good deal more. Does that sound like a disciplined police organization to you?
Then there’s this from a reporter who has lived in Baltimore for 30 years:
Baltimore is not Ferguson and its primary problems are not racial. The mayor, city council president, police chief, top prosecutor, and many other city leaders are black, as is half of Baltimore’s 3,000-person police force. The city has many prominent black churches and a line of black civic leadership extending back to Frederick Douglass.
Yet, the gaping disparities separating the haves and the have nots in Baltimore are as large as they are anywhere. And, as the boys on the street will tell you, black cops can be hell on them, too.
Well, then … if it isn’t “racism” (Al Sharpton, you can stay home) and it isn’t the GOP, what could it possibly be?
Let’s try a little deductive reasoning. What’s left?
I got a bit of a kick out of a John Fund article that asserted that Hillary’s Democratic backers were getting panicky about Hillary Clinton’s chances amid the current scandals.
Here’s where I got a bit of a laugh:
Democrats privately believe that the Clintons can recover from the e-mail and foundation scandals because it’s unlikely reporters will ever find a “smoking gun” that explicitly links foreign donations with public actions. But Democrats also know that other scandals may soon be unearthed. And if they do, not only will Hillary Clinton prove unable to establish herself as an “authentic” candidate, she also will establish herself as a pro at conducting an “authentic” cover-up.
Seriously? One more scandal? A few more scandals?
What IS the magic number? Please tell us.
Bill Clinton’s speaking fees go up and his speeches just happen to be in countries where the Secretary of State – that’d be Hillary Clinton – can help them get what they want. The foundation they both are a part of spends 10 to 15% of 500 million dollars on the charities it supposedly is fundraising for. The woman’s emails when she was Secretary of State are gone – well, except those she chose to have us see. And her emails about the foundation?
Private and on the same server that she willfully set up in contravention of a well known rule that required her to do her official business on her official email address.
But, you know, there’s no “smoking gun”.
Yeah, if you’re a crack addict with the IQ of a turnip.
These are the Clinton’s though, and there seems to be no end to the number of times this criminal gang is let off the hook. Laws, you see, are for the little people.
The new Senate is only a few days old and they’re at it already. Of course, roles have been reversed:
Democrats launched the first filibuster of the new Congress on Thursday, objecting to the GOP’s effort to try to bring the Keystone XL pipeline bill to the floor early next week.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tried to schedule action early next week on the bill, and promised an open process, including allowing both sides to offer amendments to the bill — an attempt to break with the previous few years, when Democrats controlled the floor and kept a tight lid on amendments.
Now that was mostly the status quo of the last Senate with two exceptions.
-Democrats are in the minority and determined to obstruct the Repblican majority
-Democrats are filibustering just to filibuster. Republicans filibustered because former Senate Majority Leader Reid refused to allow any amendments to bills he brought to the senate floor. McConnell has said the GOP will welcome amendments, a process which allows open and bi-partisan participation.
Yet that’s not good enough for Democrats – which sort of foretells what this session of the Senatorial side of Congress will likely look like from here on. It seems less likely that this is all about Keystone, since the pipeline has bi-partisan support. Instead, this is just petty and spiteful Democrats refusing any sort of appeasement/olive branch from the GOP.
Which should tell the GOP something, if they’re smart enough to pay attention.
The “this”? Keystone XL pipeline. Why is the president at all involved in this decision? Why is he threatening a veto if the Republican Congress passes a bill authorizing it?
The nation’s pipelines are a transportation system. Pipelines enable the safe movement of extraordinary quantities of energy products to industry and consumers, literally fueling our economy and way of life. The arteries of the Nation’s energy infrastructure, as well as one of the safest and least costly ways to transport energy products, our oil and gas pipelines provide the resources needed for national defense, heat and cool our homes, generate power for business and fuel an unparalleled transportation system.
The nation’s more than 2.6 million miles of pipelines safely deliver trillions of cubic feet of natural gas and hundreds of billions of ton/miles of liquid petroleum products each year. They are essential: the volumes of energy products they move are well beyond the capacity of other forms of transportation. It would take a constant line of tanker trucks, about 750 per day, loading up and moving out every two minutes, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to move the volume of even a modest pipeline. The railroad-equivalent of this single pipeline would be a train of 75 2,000-barrel tank rail cars everyday.
Pipeline systems are the safest means to move these products.
The source? The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration of the Department of Transportation. Yes, that’s right, the US government. Executive branch.
Note the facts – 2.6 million miles of pipeline safely moving petroleum products 24/7. Look at would be required without them.
Oh, wait, look what’s required without Keystone – trucking and railcars, of course. And who has a major stake in those operations continuing? You know how this works … follow the money.
Can you say “cronyism”?
Sure you can.
The most “transparent administration”, ever!
Btw, GOP … make his veto it or forever be held as the cowards most think you are (after all, you didn’t even have the courage to dump Boehner).
As you’ve probably surmised, I’m taking a bit of a break the last two weeks of the year. Decompress, catch up on other things and generally relax. That said, I was happy to see that Erb and the anti-Erb have managed to provide the best in entertainment for the QandO faithful.
Looks like the anti-police riots and ambushes are reaching their natural end. That’s what happens when you overreach. I’m not at all implying that some protest isn’t necessary or warranted. But when it goes beyond that to murder, well, then you’re likely to lose any sympathetic audience you might of had prior to that. And that’s pretty much what has happened.
I’m also finding if pretty interesting to watch de Blassio sink in his own man-made rhetorical swamp. Great choice, NYC. Now live with it.
Of course we’re having to live with the choice of enough of America’s voters that we’re into year 6 of the 8 year nightmare presidency. And what do we have on the horizon? More of the same. A Bush/Clinton run? If so, we’re worse off than I think. No more of either family … please!
As for Elizabeth Warren? Yeah, let’s again go for a junior Senator who has never run anything or done anything except claim minority status to get a good paying gig in academia that certainly didn’t tax her “work ethic”. Let’s again let some smooth talking “populist” promise us the moon and deliver Ecuador. And, yes, I’m talking to the press.
The GOP? Name someone with a chance for a nomination and you’ll likely name someone I wouldn’t want anywhere near the Oval Office.
Then there is the GOP Congress. It appears Obama is saying he will have a new use for his pen these last two year – the veto pen. I say that’s good news. Here’s a chance for the GOP and Congress to use an opportunity to drop the onus for being obstructionist on the President. If they have the plums to do that. By the way the “obstructionists” in the past wasn’t the GOP but Harry Reid who wouldn’t bring passed House legislation to a vote in the Senate (not that the press ever caught on) – that problem, theoretically, no longer exists). Do I have any faith the Congressional GOP will inundate the President with legislation he will have to sign or veto? No. None. Recent history gives me no warm and fuzzy about that – especially while McCain and Graham are still in the Senate. Look for McCain and his lapdog Graham to again resurrect the “Maverick” brand and spend as much time as Reid screwing up any plans the Senatorial GOP might have to push legislation to Obama’s desk.
Oh …. guess what the NY Times has discovered? There may not be enough doctors to cover any expanded insurance rolls … especially Medicaid. Why? Well for one thing, there are a finite number of doctors that can see a finite number of patients and having insurance hasn’t changed that fact one bit. But, what is a determiner in who may or may not get to see a doctor is how much that doctor gets reimbursed for his/her work. And Medicaid is cutting that amount by about 43%. That means doctors will likely opt out of seeing Medicaid patients (or at least new ones). In essence then, not much changes in the real world despite the utopian plans of our betters. While more may have insurance, emergency rooms will be the “primary care” unit for most and “preventive care”, a supposed goal of this abomination we call ObamaCare, is still a fantasy without realization. Funny how ignoring immutable facts (number of doctors and how humans respond to incentive or lack thereof) always ends up with predictable results.
Bah … enough. I’m supposed to be taking a break.
See you next year. In the meantime, happy New Year!
First I’d like to say that my position on torture is well known and not what this post is about. It’s about intent and timing. The subject just happens to be torture, or enhanced interrogation techniques, if you prefer.
Secondly, I’d like to point out that we’ve been through this before – this is truly old news. This has been investigated. It’s been commented upon and debated. It is something that anyone who follows the news and politics has been aware of for years.
So why, then, in a lame duck session after which Senate Democrats lose their majority, does an idiot like Sen. Diane Feinstein decide that this is something that must be released now. What is the utility of this report? What is the intent of releasing it now? What positive does a biased report that only casts America in a bad light in the middle of a war bring to the table?
Biased, you say? How do you know that? Well here’s a clue:
The outgoing Democratic leadership of the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report on C.I.A. rendition, detention and interrogation of terrorists in the years following the 9/11 attacks. But here’s a red flag: Not one person who managed or ran the interrogation program was interviewed.
Not one? So what sort of “report” was it then? What sort of “investigation” took place? Again, regardless of your views on “torture” this is pure politics. And bad politics at that. It is a smear dressed up as something to take seriously.
Why does it matter? Because the way this “report” was generated colors the notional facts it professes to share. Many of the “revelations” of C.I.A. techniques and black sites are old hat to most. Some approve; others don’t. Fair enough, and in a democracy, such a debate is worthy. The larger challenge comes in determining the efficacy of these techniques. Opponents insist (fueled less by fact and more by their sense of righteousness) that enhanced interrogation doesn’t work. So claims the outgoing chairman, of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein.
Here is the problem: Her claim is false. And taken in conjunction with the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s unwillingness to interview the targets of their critique, one can only assume that much of the rest of the document is also tainted.
When you dig down to the very bottom of it, you realize its written to support a narrative. It is the same sort of garbage we have seen in the Rolling Stone story about the rape at U Va. As with this report, the “journalist” involved never interviewed anyone who might shed a different sort of light on the rape story. She never verified much of anything. It was all about supporting a narrative.
Rape is bad. Yes, it is. We all accept and understand that. But false and embellished accusations are bad too. That’s what no one ever seems to say on the “rape is bad” narrative side of the house. Additionally, there are two sides to every story – and if you want to report factually, you include both sides. If you’re interested in pushing a narrative, then you don’t.
Hiawatha Bray sums up today’s journalism rather nicely and it applies to this biased piece of garbage Feinstein’s committee produced as well.
What’s wrong with journalism? Lots of stuff. But this is one of the worst features of our industry. All too many of us approach stories with preconceived “narratives.” What matters is not what’s actually going on; it’s whether a particular event gives us the chance to tell some story we already want to tell. If the story is that frat boys are incorrigible rapists, that’s how the story gets spun. What actually happened is of secondary importance. And that’s how we can get a student journalist–contra an earlier draft, I’m not sure she’s actually a journalism major–who can say without embarrassment that the facts of a story are not all that important. This is scary stuff. The only thing we have to offer as journalists–the only thing that’s worth a twopenny damn–is accurate, trustworthy information. If the facts in our stories can’t be relied upon, then those stories are worthless, regardless of what “noble cause” they’re designed to advance. To me it seems horrifying that it’s necessary to explain this.
It is the same story with this report that Feinstein, et. al, have decided must be published now. Old news, repackaged, biased to come to a particular conclusion and intended, apparently, to embarrass the US. Not to mention it is something which will further endanger our military in a time of war. And, of course, provide wonderful propaganda and recruiting material for our enemies (who, per some reports, are already using it). And then there are the useful idiots who will revel in this diminishing of the country’s image.
How this helps the US is beyond my comprehension I guess. It is something we’ve confronted and dealt with years ago. The country is divided over the use of certain “techniques”. And, we’ve seen a Democratic majority in government for 6 years who had the ability to ensure that whatever they believed about such use of these techniques was curtailed or eliminated. What was the utility of this report except, as a friend of mine said, a willful “eff you” by the outgoing Senate majority?
Just when you think this sort of politics can’t get any worse … it does.
UPDATE: Well, of course. Feinstein’s “mission accomplished”:
A United Nations human rights official is calling for individuals who carried out, planned or authorized abusive practices against al-Qaeda detainees in the aftermath of 9/11 to be put on trial, saying the U.S. was obliged under international law “to bring those responsible to justice.”
He also warned Tuesday that perpetrators could be prosecuted anywhere in the world, noting that “torture is a crime of universal jurisdiction.”
Meanwhile the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said the Senate Intelligence Committee’s release of a declassified portion of a report on CIA interrogation and detention programs was insufficient, calling for the full 6,000 page report to be released, and for “accountability” for those who overstepped the mark.
Or something. That’s what Charlie Cook covers in National Journal. Cook is a Democratic political expert of some repute and as honest as one can find in that genre. I’ve read him a lot over the years and have found him to certainly lean to the left but also display a level of honesty that is unusual for his ilk.
So, anyway he goes into a 3 or 4 paragraph analysis as to why the Dems are weak, but it is essentially summed up in the subheading of the article:
They have subordinated their traditional focus on helping working-class Americans move up the economic ladder in favor of other priorities.
That’s why I think Obama’s unilateral immigration amnesty is all set to bite them in the posterior. If the GOP frames it correctly it is tailor made to emphasize the very point made above. Down economy. Jobs at a premium. Working class Americans hurting. And what do the Democrats do? Applaud introducing 5 million illegal workers into an already tough labor market.
How does that serve “working-class America” from which most of those jobs are likely to go? Or should have, anyway? How do you make the case you’re still the party of working-class America when you do everything in your power to put others in front of them?
Like I said, handled properly this is a winner. But then, we’re talking the GOP, so don’t hold your breath.