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.”
What a debacle the hire of Saida Grundy has been for Boston U. 8 years ago, Ms. Grundy apparently plead down two felony accounts for a misdemeanor in an act of irrational jealousy in which she tried to hurt, bully and harass someone she’d never met:
Grundy used the identity of a Virginia woman in a jealous fit over a man in late 2007 to create online accounts in the woman’s name, including one on an adult website for people looking for trysts, according to a police report obtained by the Herald under a Freedom of Information Act request.
Grundy got one year of probation after pleading guilty to malicious use of telecommunication services, a misdemeanor, according to online court records and Dan Dwyer, the court administrator at Washtenaw County Trial Court in Michigan. Two felony charges, identity theft and using a computer to commit a crime, were dismissed.
The cyber harassment took place in December 2007 when Grundy was at the University of Michigan, where she earned a master’s degree in sociology and a doctorate of philosophy in sociology and women’s studies in 2014.
The victim told police in Charlottesville, Va., that someone was creating accounts in her name and posting her personal information online, according to the police report.
A detective traced the suspect, identified as Grundy, to Ann Arbor and reached out to police there.
During an interview with detectives at her home in May 2008, Grundy said she had never met the victim but “this was a jealous thing regarding another man,” according to the police report.
She claims it was a bad decision by a 24 year old. Yet we saw last week that she’s either not learned a thing or is still prone to bad decisions. This was highlighted with her bullying a white rape victim on line.
Boston U’s reaction? “Meh”:
In a statement Wednesday night, Boston University said: “A number of years ago, when she was a student at the University of Michigan, Dr. Grundy made a mistake. She admitted the mistake, accepted the consequences, and brought closure to that case. Eight years later, we do not see any reason to reopen it.”
In other words, character doesn’t matter when it comes to “diversity”. Diversity always wins out. Boston U would rather inflict a racist bully on it’s student population than admit it’s made a wrong decision in hiring her.
Oh, and the department she will teach in?
On Monday, BU’s African American Studies faculty posted an online message welcoming Grundy, saying she had been hired after a nationwide search and chosen from over 100 applicants. The post mentioned Grundy’s tweets and said they’ve been “shocked by the number of voicemails left and the hostile emails sent to our office and our individual accounts. … However, most troubling was that among the numerous that were serious expressions of dismay were many vile messages, explicitly racist and obscene, that consider cyber-bullying a substitute for frank discussion and freedom of speech.”
“Physician, heal thyself.” You’re welcoming a cyber-bully into your bosom, for heaven sake. You ought to be ashamed.
It is interesting to me to examine events and the reaction too them in certain contexts, such as left and right. Below is a listing I found on Facebook (h/t Christopher Buckley) which succinctly states the left’s reaction to each of the events listed:
Rioters in Baltimore: EXPRESSION OF SPEECH
Stomping on US flag: EXPRESSION OF SPEECH
Crucifix in a jar of urine: EXPRESSION OF SPEECH
Cartoon art display: UNPROTECTED INCENDIARY HATE
In fact, rioting is now being redefined (or at least the attempt is being made) from a criminal enterprise to a “free speech” event if a protected minority is involved. If it’s a bunch of straight white guys, they’re going to jail.
Stomping the flag and a crucifix in a jar of urine have always been defended by the left as free speech. Burn the flag – free speech. Neo-Nazi’s marching in a Jewish neighborhood – free speech. The list goes on.
However, it appears that there is a line somewhere on the left where that changes. Outrageous acts focused on offending certain groups are always free speech. Outrageous acts, of exactly the same nature but against protected groups, yeah, screw free speech, it’s hate speech. And, of course, the protected group is the “victim”. On the other side, however, the deeply offended group is told to get over it, free speech is inviolate … well, except … yeah. I’m not sure how the left keeps it straight in their tiny little heads and don’t keel over from an overdose of hypocrisy.
But then, they seem to have developed some sort of tolerance for hypocrisy over the ages – no pun intended.
Apparently the left is now involved in an attempt at ginning up speech codes, redefining words and then trying to prohibit their use because … “racism”. The latest attempt is to equate “thugs” with “n*igger”. That’s right, if you call a rioter a “thug” it’s the same as using the “n-word”.
Here’s a pretty descent response:
In ascribing racial animus to “thug,” the left is actually asserting a moral and logical vertex between “thug” and “black.” The only people who seem to be fixated on a racial undertone are the liberals. I believe the textbooks call that “projection.” Hey Democrats: not all looters are black. And you’re the only ones who seem to think otherwise.
Precisely. And here’s the point (and difference between social activism (ala MLK) and thugs):
If you looted, stole, robbed, assaulted and/or set fire to something/someone in Baltimore, you’re a thug. Torching the neighborhood pharmacy doesn’t make you a revolutionary. Stealing Air Jordans from the local shoe store is not a cry of freedom. And throwing trash cans at passersby will not release you from the bonds of – whatever bonds you believe are holding you back.
A coordinated effort to resist the increasingly militarized storm troopers employed by the government to crush the life out of liberty is social activism. Throwing a brick at tourists who made a wrong turn on the way to Inner Harbor is not.
There’s no nobility in wanton destruction. And pretending otherwise diminishes the sacrifices made by those who were actually motivated by the greater good. Looters, thieves and violent savages not only deserve no respect, attempts to suggest otherwise elevate them beyond their station at the expense of those who manage to challenge the forces of tyranny without looting the Sports Mart. Acting as if Thuggy McThuggerston pinching Pringles from the Quik-E-Mart is “sticking it to the Man” makes a mockery of those who “stuck it to the Man” without knocking over a convenience store.
The fact that the majority of those doing these things were black doesn’t change the fact that their actions were those of thugs – exactly how the context of the word has always been understood, and what race the thugs were was completely irrelevant. Anyone who does the above is a thug.
What is most abhorrent about this debacle in Baltimore is listening to the “leadership” trying to explain this behavior away.
Baltimore City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young (Democrat):
It is about the pain, the hurt and the suffering of these young people. There’s no excuse for them to loot, riot, and destroy our city. I made a comment out of frustration and anger when I called our children thugs. They’re not thugs. They’re just misdirected. We need to direct them on a different path by creating opportunities for them.
If they’re your “children” then you, sir, are an utter failure. They are not misdirected, they’re undirected. They’re under the influence of thugs. And they’re doing exactly what you’d expect a thug to do in such a situation. If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it’s likely a duck. And these “children” are indeed thugs. What Mr. Young wants to do is downplay the seriousness of the rioting and looting, play it off as just the work of some “misdirected children” and absolve himself and others of responsibility. After all, kids will be kids and we need to understand their “hurt” and “suffering” as they loot drugs and burn out a CVS.
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (Democrat):
“I wanted to say something that was on my heart … We don’t have thugs in Baltimore. Sometimes my little anger interpreter gets the best of me,” she said. “We have a lot of kids that are acting out, a lot of people in our community that are acting out.”
The infantilizing of rioters. They’re just “kids” that are “acting out”. No, Ms. Rawlings-Blake, they’re criminals who are engaged in criminal activities which by that very definition makes them thugs. Looting beer from a store you’ve broken into isn’t “social activism”, it’s theft! And thugs are thieves.
Unfortunately she goes on:
“I made it very clear that I work with the police and instructed them to do everything that they could to make sure that the protesters were able to exercise their right to free speech,” she said.
There is NO right to “free speech” that involves the destruction of property or looting someone’s property. Those, again, are criminal activities. Those that engage in those sorts of criminal activities are and will always be identified as … thugs. So she chose to indulge the thugs at the expense of the citizens of Baltimore.
It’s a very delicate balancing act. Because while we tried to make sure that they were protected from the cars and other things that were going on, we also gave those who wished to destroy, space to do that as well. And we worked very hard to keep that balance and to put ourselves in the best position to de-escalate.
What absolute SJW drivel that is. So her priority was to protect the thugs from “cars and other things that were going on” and to ensure those who wanted to burn cars and businesses as well as loot property had the “space to do that as well”. Serve and protect the citizens of Baltimore? Nope. Serve and protect the thugs. And make excuses for them.
She needs a little dose of recall election quickly. She’s a disgrace.
But the bottom line? No, “thugs” isn’t the same as the n-word unless the n-word now means “criminal”. And no, I won’t stop calling thieves and the like thugs just because some idiot on the Baltimore City Council wants to equate it with the n-word. He and his council are failures. The mayor is a failure. And all they are trying to do, unsuccessfully I might add, is divert attention under the auspices of “damage control”.
The monkey and weasel are disgusted.
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is denying it, but a senior law enforcement source has told Fox Newsthat she gave an order for police to stand down as riots broke out Monday night.
“The source, who is involved in the enforcement efforts, confirmed to Fox News there was a direct order from the mayor to her police chief Monday night, effectively tying the hands of officers as they were pelted with rocks and bottles.
Asked directly if the mayor was the one who gave that order, the source said: “You are G*d damn right it was.””
Happy, happy … just let ’em do a little looting and trashing and all will be well. Oh, and let’s redefine a few things shall we?
The mayor, in an interview with Fox News’ Bill Hemmer on Tuesday, denied any order was issued to hold back on Monday.
“You have to understand, it is not holding back. It is responding appropriately,” she said, saying there was no stand-down directive.
Responding appropriately? I wonder how “appropriately” she’d have responded had it been, say, her house or business they were looting and trashing. Absolutely no respect for private property. None. And nonsense excuse making to boot.
Yes, the dirty little secret that no one wants to admit is that Baltimore, and so many other urban areas and inner city communities in America are a reflection of the abject failure of liberal progressive socialist policies as advanced by the Democrat party.
The preeminent question is whether or not those in Baltimore and other places will recognize who is truly responsible for their plight. Or will they continue to be manipulated and propagandized by the liberal progressive media and the poverty pimps like the one supposedly heading down from New York City.
Most of us can answer that question – “they continue to be manipulated and propagandized by the liberal progressive media and the poverty pimps like the one supposedly heading down from New York City.” Oh, and the Republicans. Just watch 2016. The “plantation” has a huge hold.
Apparently Ben Affleck is mortified by his ancestors:
This brings the total number of Affleck’s known slaveholding ancestors to 14, and the number of slaves either owned or “held” as a trustee or on behalf of an estate by these ancestors to 242.
It seems that this was discovered while doing a PBS program and Affleck asked they be, uh, unmentioned. You see, he is ashamed of them.
Okay, I can understand that … however, why hide it? Why not say, hey they were wrong, what they did was wrong and I certainly don’t support what they did. Seems to me that would be much more powerful than trying to hide the past. And, to quote Hillary Clinton – “what difference does it make”?!
Oh, liberal credentials of course. And white guilt. Dude has to hand in the credentials and burn with white guilt. Pity.
Anyone wonder what Ben would have done if he’d been born during that era to one of his slaveholding ancestors? Yeah, I think Ben wonders that as well. Heh.
If you need another example of “crony capitalism” (and I put that in quotes because this is no more capitalism than lead is gold), it is playing out with the FDA and a couple of Senators … oh, and their corporate cronies:
People who are trying to do good for their families and the planet by living a simple life based on traditional skills are facing yet another assault. Artisanal soap makers say new regulations, proposed by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) and Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine), will put them out of business. Many soap makers are rural “kitchen table” operations that rely on the income to fund their simple living lifestyle. Some use milk from goats they raise and ingredients they harvest from the land.
The form includes a statement on behalf of handmade body care product makers that says, in part: “My products comply with FDA labeling requirements and the ingredients are commonly known (i.e, olive oil, oatmeal, sugar, coconut oil, etc). My best customers are in my community. I cannot afford the user fees proposed in S. 1014. Further, my business has no capacity to do the reporting requirements for each product batch (10-50 units) as it could be several hundred FDA filings per month.” Those who sell online will also be affected.*
The view of Sen. Feinstein and her corporate backers (listed below) is that the Personal Care Products Safety Act (Senate Bill S.1014) will make the world a safer place by scrutinizing “everything from shampoo and hair dye to deodorant and lotion.” She introduced the amendment to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, because of troubling negative health effects from chemicals used in personal care products. She says the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act should be more progressive like laws in Europe rather than antiquated US regulations in effect since the 1930s.
Yes, friends, having solved all the important problems of the world, our Senatorial nannies are going to back their corporate sponsors and attempt to regulate out of business this incredible threat to the American public. And who are their Corporate sponsors?
Companies and brands that support the bill:Johnson & Johnson, brands include Neutrogena, Aveeno, Clean & Clear, Lubriderm, Johnson’s baby products.Procter & Gamble, including Pantene, Head & Shoulders, Clairol, Herbal Essences, Secret, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Ivory, CoverGirl, Olay, Sebastian Professional, Vidal Sassoon.Revlon, brands include Revlon, Almay, MitchumEsteee Lauder, brands include Esteee Lauder, Clinique, Origins, Tommy Hilfiger, MAC, La Mer, Bobbi Brown, Donna Karan, Aveda, Michael Kors.Unilever, brands include Dove, Tresemme, Lever, St. Ives, Noxzema, Nexxus, Pond’s, Suave, Sunsilk, Vaseline, Degree.L’Oreeal, brands include L’Oreeal Paris, Lancome, Giorgio Armani, Yves Saint Laurent, Kiehl’s, Essie, Garnier, Maybelline-New York, Vichy, La Roche-Posay, The Body Shop, Redken.
Feinstein says her proposal is a “streamlined national system of oversight” and it won’t cost the taxpayer anything because it’s funded by industry user fees (until they pass the extra cost to the consumer, that is). Big multinational soap makers may be able to manage the increased fees and paperwork called for by Senate Bill S.1014 but the the Handmade Cosmetic Alliance says they will cripple their cottage industries. They tried to explain this to Feinstein without success.
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?
Has anyone been following this “raisin taking” case before SCOTUS? It has to do with the government literally taking a portion of a producers crop because they want to keep prices artificially high:
The forced transfer is part of a 1937 program that requires farmers to turn over a large portion of their raisin crop to the government so as to artificially reduce the amount of raisins on the market, and thereby increase the price. Essentially, the scheme is a government-enforced cartel under which producers restrict production so as to inflate prices.
And, of course, you know who loses – consumers. And producers. But note the program’s birthdate – yup, a New Deal bit of nonsense that should have long been trashed. Given how the oral arguments went yesterday before the SCOTUS, it may soon see the dumpster. The government first tried to argue that it really wasn’t a “taking”. That didn’t go well. So:
[Deputy Solicitor General Edwin] Kneedler put most of his emphasis on the argument that there is no taking because the Hornes and other raisin farmers actually benefit from the program that confiscates their raisins. In the words of Justice Antonin Scalia, the government’s argument here is that the Hornes are actually “ingrates” who should be grateful for the government’s largesse. As several justices emphasized, even if the Hornes really do benefit from the confiscation of their property, that does not change the reality that a taking has occurred. The fact that property owners benefit in some way from the taking of their property may affect the level of compensation they are owed. But it does not change the reality that a taking has occurred in the first place. Justice Samuel Alito noted that the government’s logic leads to the conclusion that there is no taking in any situation where the government seizes personal property for purposes that might potentially benefit the owners in some way.
The most important argument, and the one usually overlooked or ignored, is as follows:
If private firms tried to establish a similar program on their own, the government would bust them for a blatant violation of antitrust law.
So why is our government doing it?
The Advice Goddess (Amy Alkon) takes on “trigger warnings” and does a very credible job explaining why they and those who would impose them should be ignored:
I’ve thought this for a while. They are yet another way for people who have done nothing noteworthy to get attention and have unearned power over others.
In fact, she entitles her piece “Trigger Warnings: A Form of Covert Narcissism.” She also quotes a Kent State professor who “gets it”:
Kent University’s professor of sociology Frank Furedi claims that calls for trigger warnings are a form of “narcissism,” with a student’s desire to assert their own importance acting as more of a factor than the content they are exposed to.
In other words, it’s a form of avoidance they can lay on the person who “triggers” them.
This brings me to my favorite line in the Alkon trigger warning piece:
And as I’ve noted before: If you are so emotionally traumatized by the normal college curriculum, you do belong in an institution, but not one of “higher learning.”
The Climate Change Nazis are just not happy with “liberal democracy” because, you know, it depends on the will of the people instead of the will of the all knowing elite. Some selected passages from a piece by Mark Triffitt (Lecturer, Public Policy at University of Melbourne), and Travers McLeod, Honorary Fellow in the School of Social and Political Sciences at University of Melbourne:
… Specifically, the failure to tackle climate change speaks to an overall failure of our liberal democratic system…
… Successfully tackling climate change and other big policy challenges depends on making tangible the intangible crisis of liberal democracy.
It means understanding that liberal democracy’s governance machinery – and the static, siloed policy responses generated by such democracies – is no longer fit for purpose.
So, solution? (I bet you can guess):
[D]emocratic powers should be transferred to unelected bureaucrats, who would still somehow be “accountable” to parliament, despite having “staying power” beyond individual political cycles.
Or in their own words:
Granting more decision-making power to institutions independent of the government of the day, but still accountable to parliaments (such as the Parliamentary Budget Office or Infrastructure Australia). This would increase the capacity of policy planning and decision processes to have staying power beyond individual political cycles.
Yes, because when the party in power is the same party that wants whatever the bureaucracy wants, oversight is so exceptional and wonderful and our freedoms are protected to the nth degree – not! There are closet despots everywhere, and especially among the climate alarmist crowd.
And finally there is the Hill/Billy update, this one concerning a uranium deal with the Russians:
The latest installment in the ongoing saga of shady Clinton Foundation finances is a story involving a deal in which Russians took take greater control of a major U.S. uranium company, Uranium One.
The details are somewhat involved, but the gist is that because the takeover deal involved uranium, a strategic asset, it required approval from then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Around the same time the deal was going through, the Clinton Foundation took millions of dollars in donations from a foundation run by the founder of Uranium One and did not disclose the transaction, in defiance of an arrangement made with the Obama administration to identify Clinton Foundation donors. In addition, Bill Clinton was paid $500,000 by a Russian financial firm linked to the Kremlin for a speech in Moscow as the deal was happening. The New York Times has an extensive report, building on work from Peter Schweizer’s book about the Clinton Foundation’s foreign funding, Clinton Cash, here.
The questions raised by the story are obvious: Did the millions in donations to the Clinton Foundation, and the hundreds of thousands of dollars paid to Bill Clinton for his speech, have any influence on Clinton’s decision as Secretary of State to approve the project?
Seriously? You have to ask that question?
The reaction to the story from team Clinton, meanwhile, does not exactly inspire confidence that the Clintons have been entirely transparent about what transpired.
For example, Fox News reporters, also drawing from Schweizer’s book, dug into various aspects of the story, and found evidence that officials from Kazakhstan’s state-owned energy company Kazatomprom visited with Bill Clinton at his home in New York to inquire about a possible deal with Westinghouse, which is also involved in the nuclear energy business. When contacted about the meeting by Fox News, a Clinton Foundation spokesperson denied that the meeting had ever happened. But when Fox News produced photos of the meeting, the Clinton spokesperson changed the story and said that it had happened.
In short, Clinton’s spokesperson flatly lied about a meeting Bill Clinton had with foreign officials, and admitted the truth only when presented with evidence to the contrary.
“Flatly lied”. Or as most would put it, “business as usual”.
You may or may not remember the first Earth Day in 1970. Let’s just say the “time was ripe” given the social upheaval going on in the US. And so, a great “teach in” was conducted on April 22, 1970.
Fifth Avenue in New York City was closed to automobiles as 100,000 people joined in concerts, lectures, and street theater. More than 2,000 colleges and universities across America paused their anti-war protests to rally instead against pollution and population growth.
Yes friends, population growth was the “climate change” of the first Earth Day and with it, the usual doom and gloom:
Imminent global famine caused by the explosion of the “population bomb” was the big issue on Earth Day 1970. Then–and now–the most prominent prophet of population doom was Stanford University biologist Paul Ehrlich. Dubbed “ecology’s angry lobbyist” by Life magazine, the gloomy Ehrlich was quoted everywhere. “Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make,” he confidently declared in an interview with then-radical journalist Peter Collier in the April 1970 Mademoiselle. “The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.”
“Most of the people who are going to die in the greatest cataclysm in the history of man have already been born,” wrote Ehrlich in an essay titled “Eco-Catastrophe!,” which ran in the special Earth Day issue of the radical magazine Ramparts. “By… some experts feel that food shortages will have escalated the present level of world hunger and starvation into famines of unbelievable proportions. Other experts, more optimistic, think the ultimate food-population collision will not occur until the decade of the 1980s.” Ehrlich sketched out his most alarmist scenario for the Earth Day issue of The Progressive, assuring readers that between 1980 and 1989, some 4 billion people, including 65 million Americans, would perish in the “Great Die-Off.”
All of this was announced with great certainty and, frankly, a consensus of sorts. The fact that it rested on theory and that science didn’t really support it seemed irrelevant. It was, since the war in Viet Nam was winding down, the “next great cause!” So the horrific prognostications were slung willy nilly and the press and activists ate them up.
In January 1970, Life reported, “Scientists have solid experimental and theoretical evidence to support…the following predictions: In a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution…by 1985 air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half….”
“Solid experimental and theoretical evidence”. Solid … like the hockey stick. Theoretical … like climate models. Reality – nothing like the prediction.
Ecologist Kenneth Watt declared, “By the year 2000, if present trends continue, we will be using up crude oil at such a rate…that there won’t be any more crude oil. You’ll drive up to the pump and say, `Fill ‘er up, buddy,’ and he’ll say, `I am very sorry, there isn’t any.’”
Because, you know … “science” says so! Yet we’re awash in the stuff thanks to real science and technology. Scientific progress applied in technology is always ignored by the prognosticators of doom.
Oh and in case we have forgotten:
Kenneth Watt warned about a pending Ice Age in a speech. “The world has been chilling sharply for about twenty years,” he declared. “If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990, but eleven degrees colder in the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age.”
“Present trends?” Well, thank goodness for “climate change” then, huh?
Of course not … that’s what this gloom and doom Earth Day will be all about. Check back in about 45 years to see how wrong the “consensus” is from tomorrow’s big meeting as thousands of activist use fossil fuel transportation to meet and tell us how we must quit using fossil fuel transports to save the earth.
I don’t know about you but I’ve been fascinated by the UVA/Rolling Stone “rape” debacle. And while it is clear that Rolling Stone, in general, and the author of the RS article, Sabrina Rubin Erdely specifically, broke every journalistic rule out there, there’s a deeper story here (I’ll get to RS and Erdely later).
It’s about why the story even had a chance of being published. It’s about the combination of “narrative journalism” and an ideological agenda. It was about one supporting the other without any real evidence that what had been claimed (a gang rape by fraternity members) was true or had even happened.
The story was out there before Erdely had ever inquired about it. And you have to understand that that story had largely been accepted as “the truth” by people who wanted to believe it to be so. These weren’t just students and a couple of teachers, by the way. These were very well connected people who knew exactly where to go to push their agenda. Here’s that backstory:
As the Rolling Stone article fell apart, Catherine Lhamon’s involvement has gone virtually unmentioned. But a deeper look reveals her ties to Emily Renda, a University of Virginia employee and activist who put Erdely in touch with Jackie, the student whose claim that she was brutally gang-raped by seven members of a fraternity on Sept. 28, 2012, served as the linchpin for the 9,000-word Rolling Stone article.
President Obama nominated Lhamon to become the Education Department’s Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in July 2013. The Senate approved her unanimously the following month.
She has served as the Education Department’s designee to the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault which Obama created on Jan. 22, 2014. Renda served on the same task force.
Besides that link, both spoke at a February 2014 University of Virginia event entitled “Sexual Misconduct Among College Students.”
Lhamon has been invited to the White House nearly 60 times, according to visitor’s logs. Renda has been invited six times. Both were invited to the same White House meeting on three occasions. One, held on Feb. 21, 2014, was conducted by Lynn Rosenthal, then the White House Advisor on Violence Against Women. Twenty-one people, mostly activists, were invited to that meeting. Lhamon and Renda were invited to two other larger gatherings — one on April 29 and the other on Sept. 19.
It is unclear if both attended the three meetings. Renda did not respond to an emailed request for comment.
Renda and Lhamon also testified at a June 26, 2014, Senate hearing on campus sexual assault. It was at that hearing that Renda cited Jackie’s story that she was brutally gang-raped by five fraternity members — a statement that was inconsistent with Jackie’s claim to Erdely that she was raped by seven men. According to the Columbia report, Renda first told Erdely about Jackie’s allegation on July 8, nearly two weeks after her Senate testimony.
During her testimony, Lhamon claimed that “The best available research suggests that 20% of college women, and roughly 6% of college men, are victims of attempted or completed sexual assault.” That “one-in-five” claim about the prevalence of sexual assault on campus has been heavily disputed.
So when Erdely showed up wanting to do the rape story, she had Renda to encourage her to do this one, because both had the same agenda:
The reporter used Jackie’s story about a gang-rape to introduce readers to what she asserted was a systemic failure on the part of universities, police, and society to prevent and investigate sexual assault.
Rape culture. Rape crisis. How else does one advance such a story except finding the perfect “rape” to feature all of those things? Bingo. The prefect story. And who was more than willing to offer it? Renda.
Now some may ask, “why do you contend that advancing such a narrative was Erdely’s motive?” For one thing, she’d done it before on another “rape” story – this one in the military (another institution that is “misogynist”). And it followed a very similar pattern. The case involved a female Navy Petty Officer who claimed to have been sexually assaulted. Leon Wolf, doing some great research, finds that Erdley did for that case exactly what she did for the UVA case – and so did the Rolling Stone editors:
The point of this story is this: the evidence is clear all over the face of this story that Erdely – as enabled by her editors at Rolling Stone – has a serial habit of reporting rapes without conducting any more fact checking than she did of the UVA story. It is facially obvious that she did not talk to the accused rapist because there wasn’t one. There is no evidence that she talked with anyone who was present at any of the bars where Ms. Blumer drank on the night before her DUI to attempt to verify even her story about meeting the three guys. And, again: the sources who spoke to RedState were clear that Ms. Erdely made no effort to contact any member of the Naval command who was involved with the investigation to get their side of the story with respect to what manner of investigation was conducted into Ms. Blumer’s allegations or what that investigation revealed.
After an exhaustive investigation that spanned a year and a half (which Erdely and Rolling Stone ignored and/or did no research into whatsoever), no one was able to produce any evidence that a sexual assault had occurred, physical or otherwise. The alleged victim herself had no recollection of it happening, did not report it to the police who arrested her, and had a ready motive for latching on to the narrative, which is that it would have stopped or possibly prevented punishment at the hands of her military superiors and possibly prevented her from permanently losing the top secret clearance necessary to keep her job.
This was an important story for the “rape culture” agenda. It was to be the cherry on the top of the narrative that says, “college men are misogynists and serial abusers who need to be punished for their actions”. That’s why the fictitious “20%” number was invented. That’s why the DoE’s civil rights division is involved. As noted, this story shows the connection all the way to the top and the narrative that was being pushed. Erdley and Rolling Stone were heaven sent to these people and they used her just as she used them. The result was shoddy journalism of the worst stripe that apparently is standard operating procedure for Rolling Stone (I have another example of precisely the same problem with another author that I highlighted February of 2011.)
Of course, as we’ve seen, the narrative, as presented by Erdley, failed spectacularly. It not only couldn’t withstand even the slightest scrutiny, it had holes in it wide enough to drive a tank through. Yet, that was precisely the narrative that had survived up until that time. Why hadn’t the school investigated it more thoroughly before accepting the story?
In December, as Erdely’s article began to collapse, Julia Horowitz, a student journalist at UVA, tried to explain why the campus newspaper had been caught flat-footed by the falsity of Jackie’s tale. She conceded that “factual inconsistencies” and “discrepancies” might exist in Erdely’s tale, but, she cautioned, “To let fact checking define the narrative would be a huge mistake.” Horowitz, exponent of this horrifying view of journalism, went on to become editor-in-chief of UVA’s student newspaper. Much of the media has been quick to pillory Rolling Stone, but Horowitz’s fear of allowing facts to overwhelm the narrative would be at home in vast swaths of our media — and government and higher education, too.
Facts shouldn’t define the narrative – got that? Now you understand why an administration, a magazine reporter and editors and a student “journalist” would let a tale like the UVA rape story exist and flourish – it fit the narrative like a glove if you didn’t look to closely. And no one did – including Rolling Stone.
As to the reputations ruined and lives tarnished by all of this? Well, that’s just collateral damage in a world where the narrative is much more important that the individual. It serves the “greater good”, you see.
Someone named Tanya Cohen penned a paragraph that, if you understand the difference between a right and a privilege, will make you cringe in horror:
One of the most admirable things about Europe is that most (if not all) of the right-wing rhetoric that you hear in the US is explicitly against the law there. For example, attempting to link Islam with terrorism, saying that gay marriage isn’t really marriage, or saying that trans women aren’t really women would get you charged with discrimination and/or incitement to hatred. Numerous European public figures have been charged with hate crimes for implying that large-scale immigration is connected to higher crime. In fact, a politician in Sweden was prosecuted for hate crimes for posting statistics about immigrant crime on Facebook. Assaults on the human dignity of Muslims are simply not tolerated in Europe, and Europe cracks down hard on any attempts to incite hatred against Muslims. In a notable example, a woman in Austria was convicted of a hate crime for suggesting that the Islamic Prophet Muhammed was a pedophile. Recently, a man in Sweden was charged with incitement to ethnic hatred for wearing a T-shirt saying “Islam is the devil.” Nobody in Europe believes that these laws interfere with their sacred, guaranteed right to freedom of speech. Rather, these laws protect freedom of speech by ensuring that it is used responsibly and for the purposes of good.
There are so many awful things about this paragraph it is hard to know where to start. First, however, a right is something you have to ask no one’s permission to exercise. It would be fairly synonymous with “freedom”. So when you say “freedom of speech” it is something you exercise without permission.
A privilege, however, is something which is granted by some authority which defines what is or isn’t acceptable. It is something which can be withdrawn, basically by whim. What she lauds Europe for is “privilege of speech”, and she just happens to agree the speech they’re punishing is “hateful”. You have to wonder if she’d feel the same way if her opinions were labeled as hate speech (and frankly, to any freedom loving person, it is hate speech).
That’s the other thing about what she notes here – every one of her cites involves someone’s opinion. What she celebrates isn’t freedom but conformity of opinion decided by some authority. Her. And she’s fine with using the coercive power of the state to punish opinion which she and those in authority decide constitutes “hate”. Remember Hayek’s definition of freedom? “Freedom is the absence of coercion.”
“Freedom of speech” as a right means that while we may “abhor what someone says”, we will “defend unto death their right to say it”. Her interpretation of “freedom of speech” is we may “abhor what someone says” and we reserve the right to “punish them for it” if it conflicts with “proper thought” on the subject. How screwed up is that?
I can’t imagine a more dangerous idea than what this woman is presenting. It is the germ seed of totalitarianism. It is what has infested our institutions of higher learning thanks to leftist infiltration. These aren’t “progressive” ideas she’s presenting. They are as old as slavery. They are as old as dictatorship. Cohen then goes on to attempt the redefinition of “repressive”:
Consider the case of Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson. In a civilized country with basic human rights, Phil Robertson would have been taken before a government Human Rights Tribunal or Human Rights Commission and given a fine or prison sentence for the hateful and bigoted comments that he made about LGBT people. In the US, however, he was given no legal punishment, even though his comments easily had the potential to incite acts of violence against LGBT people, who already face widespread violence in the deeply homophobic American society – and his comments probably DID incite acts of violence against LGBT people.
Most countries have freedom of speech, but only in the US is “freedom of speech” so restrictive and repressive. Not only is the US the only country without any laws against hateful or offensive speech, but it’s also the only country where the government cannot ban any movies, books, or video games, no matter how dangerous, demeaning to human dignity, or harmful to society they may be.
So, says Cohen, “civilized” countries have restrictive speech codes that define what is or isn’t acceptable speech and jail those who violate them. A country in which you have the right to state your opinion without censure or fear of punishment is “restrictive and repressive”. Black is white, up is down.
Apparently what she doesn’t understand about our “freedom of speech” is it is specifically identified as a ban against government doing precisely what she wants. It bans government from abridging free speech. It protects everyone from government interference and oppression. She calls specifically for government to be the instrument of punishment of speech she doesn’t like. Given her freedom hating rhetoric, we can then assume that “civilized” can be interpreted to mean “totalitarian.”
She then makes an absolutely incorrect assertion:
In Europe and Australia and the rest of the civilized world, the ultra-libertarian, free speech absolutist position is that not all offensive speech should be illegal, but that incitement to hatred should always be illegal.
No, Ms. Cohen, that is absolutely incorrect. Wrong. No.
Libertarians agree that incitement to violence isn’t a part of your right to free speech. Because, you see, libertarians believe you are free to exercise your rights as long as they don’t violate the rights of others. It is that difference that separates the free from you. Incitement to violence against another is indeed a violation of the right to free speech. Other than that, a person gets to say what they want – it is the price of freedom, a price you are unwilling to pay. Your path is the road to serfdom. Stating your own beliefs without the fear of censure or punishment, as long as you don’t try to incite violence by doing so, even though others vehemently disagree with you, is freedom of speech. There are plenty of ways for society to punish what it considers to be hate speech – just ask Westboro Baptist Church. That’s how a free country takes out its trash.
Before moving to the US to work with human rights organizations here, I grew up in Australia, which is a much more civilized and progressive country than the comparatively backwards United States, with a much deeper respect for basic human rights.
Condescending and wrong.
Qantas is ready when your are, Ms. Cohen.