Category: Close Looks (Page 1 of 3)

How left-wing smears about racism come back to bite them

One of the most often heard complaints about politically correct liberals is that they try to smear everyone with whom they disagree as bigots. “Racist,” “sexist,” “transphobe,” “transmisogynistic”… The terms are thrown around so often that many people stop listening.

Often people disagree about what constitutes bigotry. But just as often people disagree about the context and what was actually said. While I was listening to the podcast Undisclosed, I was treated to an example of how casually self-righteous liberals can fabricate racially-charged accusations, perhaps without even being conscious of it.

Undisclosed operates in seasons that usually take on cases of someone whom the team of three lawyers, Rabia Chaudry, Colin Miller, and Susan Simpson, thinks was wrongly convicted of a crime. They present the story and the evidence, as they see it, and argue why the convict wasn’t guilty. For the past few months, however, the story they are presenting is different: They are arguing why they think the Baltimore police officers involved in the arrest of Freddie Gray are guilty.

It’s a bit of an interesting turn for the attorneys, who usually argue someone’s innocence, to take a hard stance against people who were charged with crimes on shaky grounds. Maybe it shows the group is focused on the politics of identity–race and power structures–rather than defending the civil rights of anyone accused of a crime. Or maybe they are just continuing their mission of defending the public against heavy-handed tactics of the corrupt police and justice system that, in their view, mistreated and killed an innocent man. Either way, they ought not make up lies about subjects involved.

On episode 14, when talking about the protests that turned into riots, the host stated, “The nation saw the mayor unable to communicate to her own city, awkwardly trying to say that she respects civil liberties but then referring to protesters as ‘thugs’.”

“Referring to protesters as ‘thugs’…” Does anyone remember when Baltimore Mayor Stefanie Rawlings-Blake, a liberal Democrat and an African-American woman, said that? I seem to recall exactly the quote they were thinking of, and she didn’t at all refer to “protesters” as “thugs.”

Just to make sure I was remembering right, I looked it up:

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Don’t let Muslim women testify to Senate!, New Republic warns

Two “nasty” women are scheduled to appear in front of the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Homeland Security this morning, June 14, 2017, to share what they know from research and personal experience on Islamic extremism: Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Asra Nomani.

Their appearance has sent at least one New Republic blogger into a fury. Sarah Jones wrote, “The Senate is about to hear from two of the worst possible “experts” on Islam.” Interesting to note that of the four witnesses speaking at the hearing, two are men and two are women–Jones only pointed out the women for attack.

Jones’ reasons? Hirsi Ali, who has been oppressed by the fundamentalism of Islamic governments and societies as a youth and continues to be threatened with death threats, has made controversial statements about Islam. She also has worked with conservative groups that Jones doesn’t support.

Jones even cited Max Blumenthal as a source. Blumenthal is not without controversy himself, to put it lightly. He has made a career, if you can call it that, out of appearing on conspiracy shows like The Next News Network and Iran’s Press TV to talk about “Israel Cover Up[s]”, bemoaning “the Zionist gag rule,” and comparing Israel to ISIS. In the hours after Elie Wiesel died he said Wiesel “should not be honored” and called him a “supporter” of “war crimes.” No surprise Jones doesn’t seem to have much sympathy for victims of theocratic oppression if she cites Blumenthal.

As for Nomani, she’s even worse: she supported Donald Trump! “Asra Nomani is an outspoken supporter of Donald Trump,” Jones wrote. One need not search long to find that I was quite opposed to Trump during his campaign and continue to oppose most of his actions as president. But does my disagreeing with her about Trump mean that she doesn’t have anything valuable to say about Islam and extremism?

As a Muslim who has desegregated sex-segregated mosques–and also received threats for doing so–and who has written about issues related to Islam for The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, and elsewhere, it appears to me she should know a little more about the topic than Sarah Jones.

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The sophistry of Republican arguments

“We will renegotiate the Paris Treaty”: Why won’t Republicans defend their own positions on the basis of their own ideology?

We know why Donald Trump is leaving the Paris Climate Treaty.

We know because Trump and his fellow Republicans have said why they oppose government action of climate change/global warming many times before.

“Global warming has been proven to be a canard repeatedly over and over again,” he has stated. It’s a hoax perpetuated by the Chinese “in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive,” Trump has said.

“We don’t know what’s causing climate change, and the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try and reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for us,” then-Republican nominee Mitt Romney said in 2012.

Ted Cruz has said that climate change isn’t happening and that pushes to combat climate change are only being undertaken because, “liberal politicians … want government power over the economy, the energy sector and every aspect of our lives.” The idea of climate change is “is not science, it’s religion,” he has said.

Marco Rubio said during a primary debate that climate change has little to do with human activity: “The climate is changing, and one of the reasons the climate is changing is the climate has always been changing.” He later added that even if the U.S. passed laws to combat climate change, “there would be no change in our environment. Sea level would still rise.”

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has said, “I’m not a scientist. I’m interested in protecting Kentucky’s economy.”

EPA Director Scott Pruitt has long opposed government regulations on the environment, filing multiple suits against environmental regulations as attorney general of Oklahoma, because he felt those regulations were burdensome and hurt the economy. In order to create jobs, he said at a public event, the U.S. needed to “make sure the EPA is not being onerous upon the energy companies in this country.”

I list all of these statements by influential Republicans and members of the Trump administration to say one thing: We know why Trump and the Republicans wanted to leave the Paris treaty. And it wasn’t for the reasons they are saying now.

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Trump flunks Middle Eastern geography test

While Donald Trump was meeting with Israelis, he seemed clueless as to Israel’s geography. “We just got back from the Middle East,” he said.

Some Twitter users thought they caught Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer stiffling a laugh.

Other things we have learned from Trump himself in his short tenure in office:
– Frederick Douglas is just now getting the credit he deserves.
– Korea was once a part of China.
– China has 8,000 years of history as a civilization. (Even the Chinese themselves only assert 5,000.)
– The Civil War would have been so easy to prevent. Andrew Jackson would never have let it happen!

And some we’ve learned from the Trump press office and other members of the administration:
Hitler didn’t use chemical weapons. Well, at least he didn’t use chemical weapons on his own people. I mean… (via Spicer)
The Jews didn’t suffer enough in the Holocaust to afford a specific mention on Holocaust Remembrance Day. (the whole administration)
Historically black colleges were pioneers of “school choice,” not the result of segregation. (DeVos)
– Trump had the largest inauguration crowd in history. (Spicer)

The exclusive cartoon was drawn by Xia Lan and provided to Bombs + Dollars for use.
Trump-Comic-Final

Optimism in Korean peninsula

After months of political drama liberal Moon Jae-in decisively won in South Korea, a victory that ended over a decade-long conservative rule, which was by the end tarnished by extreme corruption and scandal, and ended in the impeachment and arrest of Park Geun-hye which triggered a snap election. The liberal victory was expected, given the current mood of South Korea, and a high turnout almost guaranteed the defeat of the incumbent conservatives. A simple plurality was needed for the liberals to win. Speaking at a makeshift podium, Moon was quoted to say “I will make a just, united country. I will be a president who also serves all the people who did not support me.”

In an interesting development, Moon said that he would be willing to go to North Korea to meet its leader Kim Jong-un, in a notable change of track from the previous conservative governments. Signaling that he is flexible and expressing willingness to negotiate immediately, the left-liberal-leaning Moon said that he is willing to do anything that might help bring peace to the continent. “I am willing to go anywhere for the peace of the Korean peninsula if needed. I will fly immediately to Washington. I will go to Beijing and I will go to Tokyo. If the conditions are right, I will go to Pyongyang,” he was quoted by Guardian.

Perhaps in a further indication that the new administration would be different than the old one, Moon even considers reviewing THAAD system placed in South Korea. The system has been a bone of contention between China and United States and was installed just a week before the elections. China has consistently opposed and urged the new president to scrap the system.

There has been talks reported by Reuters, where US officials have anonymously raised their concerns, about the new volatility in ties between South Korea and US. Moon and US President Trump are very different characters. There are chances of confrontation. Trump recently also demanded payment for THAAD placed in South Korea. That, added to the fact that Trump is positioning himself as a North Korea hawk, means that there are chances of difference of interest.

The US, of course, as per diplomatic rituals congratulated Moon, just as China and Japan did. The White House press secretary spoke of a continuing a strong alliance and enduring partnership.

That said, I would suggest a few cautions for both South Korea, and US. First of all South Korea needs to realise that any diplomatic maneuver, especially in such a volatile situation will inevitably bring up risks of cheesing off partners and adversaries. Any individual single effort to solve the Korean crisis would anger hardliners in both Washington and Tokyo. It is unlikely that Seoul, despite its good intentions is willing or able to take that risk or go that far. The idea in Washington is simple, that America is unwilling to coexist with a nuclear North Korea and that North Korea is a danger to American interests in the Pacific. Given that situation, if any country, especially South Korea intends to bypass American intentions to hand olive branch to the North, they will risk a collision course with Washington.

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Under investigation, Trump calls for Flynn to have immunity from prosecution

On February 13, then-national security advisor Michael Flynn resigned and/or was fired by the Trump administration after the Washington Post reported that he had spoken to the Russian ambassador about lifting sanctions at the same time Obama was implementing sanctions against Russia for interfering in the U.S. election.

On March 20, FBI Director James Comey confirmed the FBI was investigating Trump associates to see if there had been any coordination with Russia.

Now Donald Trump is calling for Flynn to be given immunity from prosecution:

Trump tries to deny reality at every point. For many weeks after the FBI and CIA had confirmed that Russia hacked into Clinton-related emails, Trump claimed they hadn’t and even compared the CIA to Nazis. He has lied about many simple topics, including how many electoral votes he won. So now he keeps saying there is no kind of legitimate investigation happening.

In his testimony before Congress, Comey said, “The FBI, as part of our counterintelligence effort, is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 president election. That includes, investigating the nature of any links between associates of the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaigning the Russian effort.”

However, Trump has previously suggested that anyone who asks for immunity must be guilty. At a campaign rally on September 27, he said, “If you’re not guilty of a crime, what do you need immunity for?”

In fact, he raised this line of thinking on immunity multiple times:

If one were to follow Trump’s logic, he or she would wonder why Flynn’s lawyer is trying to get immunity and why Trump thinks he should.

“Fake news,” Cernovich, and how the Trumpist right denies reality

Alt-right blogger Mike Cernovich was featured on 60 Minutes for a segment on how bullshit and fake news spreads around the public discourse.

CBS’s Scott Pelley cited one story Cernovich published himself at his website Danger & Play titled, “Hillary Clinton has Parkinson’s Disease, Physician Confirms.” The only source of information cited was Ted Noel, an anesthesiologist who later recorded a video. That means diagnosis of Parkinson’s is not even his area of expertise in the first place–and he didn’t examine Clinton, either.

If people could be diagnosed from news reports and videos, then Donald Trump and Barry Goldwater would be clinically-diagnosed narcissists.

Cernovich stood by his story, though he offered no evidence beyond his own hate of Clinton.

I don’t take anything Hillary Clinton is going to say at all as true. I’m not going to take her on her word. The media says we’re not going to take Donald Trump on his word. And that’s why we are in these different universes.

Yet, even if one were to distrust Clinton, distrusting her can’t prove she has Parkinson’s.

But let us move to a bigger point: Cernovich tried to equate his own website with actual news outlets that employ people to look into issues, ask questions, investigate, and confirm news before they report it. He equated himself with CNN and the Washington Post.

The truth is you’ve talked to a person who sincerely believes true, you must also admit that there have been many stories reported by major outlets like The New York Times, the Washington Post, and Rolling Stone, that were false. … People get it wrong, so why then come guns blazing at me, and not guns blazing at everybody?Why isn’t this segment going to say, how did the New York Times get conned? How did the Washington Post believe that Russia had hacked the power grid?

The story he’s talking about with regard to the power grid is one the Post published on December 31, 2016 about how Russians may have hacked a computer at an electric utility.

A code associated with the Russian hacking operation dubbed Grizzly Steppe by the Obama administration has been detected within the system of a Vermont utility, according to U.S. officials.

The original article overstated what happened, and the Post corrected it and added an editor’s note:

An earlier version of this story incorrectly said that Russian hackers had penetrated the U.S. electric grid. Authorities say there is no indication of that so far. The computer at Burlington Electric that was hacked was not attached to the grid.

AOL:

So did the Russians attack a laptop at a public utility, even if it wasn’t connected to the electric grid?

It’s possible, but not certain.

The malware found was certainly Russian made and related to the malware used to infiltrate the DNC. But that does not mean that it was used by Russians.

So the Washington Post reported a story based on information from credible sources and then corrected the part that was wrong within 24 hours of its publication.

Has Cernovich retracted or offered any kind of additional note to his blog post from August 12, 2016? No, it’s 227 days later, and he still says he believes it.

Free Speech: No, CPAC disinviting Milo Yiannopoulos is not an attack on free speech

Milo Yiannopoulos’s brief history as an invited speaker to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) lasted less than a week. Given that Yiannopoulos is who he is, an attention seeker and an expert at victimization politics, he is sure to try to turn this into a discussion about free speech.

But make no mistake: This is no war on free speech, and it is nothing like the violence at Berkeley, which caused his speech to be shut down, or other attempts by anti-free speech radicals to silence invited speakers through intimidation or disruption.

CPAC, given that they are putting on the event, makes the decision over who it invites, and CPAC attendees decide whether to purchase a ticket or not. Even before videos of Yiannopoulos praising the potential of relationships between older men and minor children went viral, many conservatives were disappointed with the decision to invite Yiannopoulos, which was reportedly not made with the full approval of the CPAC board. CPAC, after all, is a “conservative” event, and Yiannopoulos offers no deep insight into conservative thought–or much of anything besides showmanship.

Free speech does not imply inviting anyone and everyone to give a speech. After all, CPAC had not extended invitations to Black Lives Matter activists, Lena Dunham, Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders, DeRay Mckesson, Shaun King, Brianna Wu, Anita Sarkeesian, or any other identity politics-supporting left-wingers.

They don’t have to extend invitations to anyone and everyone. CPAC, like the College Republicans, is a private group with its own viewpoints and agenda. In the past, CPAC has barred conservative-affiliated groups from being cosponsors for ideological disagreements (GOProud for its support of gay rights) and because of their radicalism (the John Birch Society). Those decisions can be debated, but it’s well within CPAC’s right to make them.

That many of their attendees and sponsors didn’t want to hear Yiannopoulos speak anymore than they wanted to hear DeAndre “Soulja Boy” Cortez Way speak doesn’t make them opponents of free speech–just people with values. In the end, the market place of ideas (and of money–CPAC sells tickets) determined Yiannopoulos’s fate.

Flashback to 2008: Republicans and Joe the Plumber

Chuck Jones’ sin was pointing out that Trump lied about how many jobs the Carrier deal actually saved, tried to take credit for 33% more than the reality.

Now flashback to 2008 and the news sensation over Joe “The Plumber” Wurzelbacher. How did conservative news outlets cover it?

Fox News (Hannity & Colmes): Why Are Democrats Attacking Joe the Plumber?

HANNITY: Why can’t you as a Democrat say you know what? Leave Joe, the plumber alone. He’s out there swinging a wrench for 12 hours a day, probably six or seven days a week. Do you think it’s unfair what’s happening to him?

Newsmax: Joe the Plumber Angered: ‘I’m Just a Private Citizen’

“I’m just a private citizen … That scares me just for the simple fact other people might hesitate on questioning our elected officials and that worries me greatly for America.”

American Thinker: Thugocaracy attacks Joe the Plumber’s Audacity

Michael Barone coined a word in his National Review article, dated October 11, 2008, entitled “The Coming Obama Thugocracy,” and subtitled “Attempts to shut down political speech have become routine for liberals.” Thugocracy: the rule of thugs.

Mr. Wurzelbacher was minding his own business when he had the audacity — Barack Obama’s favorite word after “taxes” — to question Senator Obama’s intention to “spread the wealth around.”

They’re out to destroy a simple American citizen who was made into a public figure by the people now out to smear him.

Townhall: The Obama Thugocracy Goes After Joe the Plumber

Jim Wickre: Attacks on ‘Joe the Plumber.”

The media and the Obama campaign will attack and attempt to destroy any one who stands in the way of Obama’s election as President.

Also in the Newsmax article, Joe said: “But to sit there and say that Barack Obama was directly responsible for such a thing–no, I’m not going to say something like that.”

That can’t be said about Donald Trump.

Republicans already failing in holding Trump accountable

Just weeks after Trump took a majority of the electoral votes on Election Day, Trump’s administration is already facing the potential for scandals, conflicts of interest, and corruption, as Trump has met with foreign business people and invited an executive vice-president of the Trump Organization (for which he himself remains president) to a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Who will hold Trump accountable? Republicans held many hearings to investigate the Obama administration. Many Republicans ran on a promise of keeping the next president honest.

Colorado Rep. Mike Coffman’s campaign pitch (in an ad) was, “If Donald Trump is the president, I’ll stand up to him. Plain and simple. And if Hillary wins, I’ll hold her accountable every step of the way.”

But will the Republicans actually be willing to hold aggressive hearings on Trump’s business dealings in his first months in office? They would be trying to get conservative bills passed Congress, like repealing Obamacare, and they wouldn’t want to tarnish their party’s president, especially early on. But being early in his administration is no excuse, since he’s already involved in business that creates conflicts of interest.

On November 21 reports emerged from Argentina that Trump asked Argentine President Mauricio Marci for help with an office project he is developing there.

While spokespeople for both parties denied it, the very fact that the president-elect would retain his position as president of a company with transnational interests with his children as executives creates the appearance of impropriety, the classical definition of conflict of interest, and the potential for impropriety. There is no way to verify what Trump discusses with foreign leaders and no reason to believe him. That’s why previous presidents have put their assets into blind trusts.

Trump is also reportedly trying to get Jared Kushner, his son in law and husband of Trump Organization executive vice president Ivanka Trump, who sat in on the meeting with Japan, a White House security clearance and position. Nevermind that would give the Trump Organization yet another avenue to access the White House, it is also potentially illegal under an anti-nepotism law.

But will the Republicans hold Trump accountable?

Time magazine reported:

Republicans, likewise, don’t see any conflicts at all in Trump’s family members managing the national government. “For goodness sake, JFK put his brother over at the Justice Department. It’s not like these things are new and unprecedented,” Rep. Tom Cole said.

Oh, right, the fact that JFK put his brother Robert Kennedy in charge of the Justice Department before a law was passed to bar such nepotism in response to JFK putting his brother in charge of the Justice Department. Would it hurt Tom Cole to read a little history?

Many Republicans are more concerned about excusing Trump’s abuses of power than investigating them.

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