Advertisements

New York Post Cover for April 18, 2017

Source: New York Post

Advertisements

‘Chappaquiddick’ is a Long-Overdue Dismantling of the Kennedy Myth

Maureen Callahan writes: Nearly 50 years after Senator Ted Kennedy left a young woman to die in a shallow pond — and America went on to reward him with a lifelong career in the US Senate — we are finally beginning to reckon with the Kennedy myth.

But only just.

The new film “Chappaquiddick” is, to date, the most brutal and honest account of what happened that night. But it’s also something else: an indictment of our collective hero worship at the altar of Brand Kennedy, which bred so much corrosive entitlement that surviving brother Ted, the family beta male, went home to sleep it off after leaving a loyal young staffer to die alone.

“Chappaquiddick” is a much-needed counterweight to two current hagiographies: CNN’s docuseries “The Kennedys,” airing to high ratings on Sunday nights, and Netflix’s forthcoming documentary “Bobby Kennedy for President.”

JFK and RFK remain, of course, the family lodestars. But in 1969 Ted was next in line, and he had a lot of public sympathy.

His brother Robert had been assassinated while campaigning for president the year before. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. Ted himself barely survived a plane crash in 1964, dragged to safety by Senator Birch Bayh (the irony) and hospitalized for five months. It was assumed, within the family and without, that Ted would run for president in 1972. He had three small children and, the July weekend he went partying in Chappaquiddick, a pregnant wife at home confined to bed rest.

As portrayed by Jason Clarke, the young senator is a venal, self-pitying coward, thoughtless and remorseless, ambition his only care. He treats loyalists and groupies with equal contempt, and as the weekend begins, he toasts them all for “wanting to prove yourselves worthy of . . . the Kennedy name.” Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] MONTAGE: Zuckerberg Promises ‘More AI Tools’

Amber Athey reports: Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has a simple solution for most of the problems presented to him by Congress: “more AI tools.”

Zuckerberg repeatedly stressed Facebook’s growing focus on artificial intelligence during his testimony Read the rest of this entry »


FBI Lovebirds Peter Strzok & Lisa Page Might be Getting Busy in Other Ways, Too

Well, that piece caused a healthy amount of speculation from readers on why Strzok and Page are still FBI’ing. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] MONTAGE: Zuckerberg Doesn’t Know — His ‘Team’ Will ‘Follow Up’ 

During Mark Zuckerberg’s appearance before two Congressional committees, it was unclear whether the Facebook CEO knew the answer to ANYTHING. Don’t worry though, his ‘team’ will be sure to follow-up.


Kevin Williamson Firing Shows the ‘Nonpartisan’ Media’s True Colors

Williamson came to The Atlantic from the conservative National Review, and his hiring sparked an uproar on the left. After combing through over a decade of his writings, detractors found a tweet where he called for death, by hanging, for abortion. When Goldberg learned Williamson also had referenced the tweet on a podcast, he gave in.

Surely Williamson’s quip was mere hyperbole, meant to provoke. After all, he never wrote an actual column making that argument, despite having written extensively, including about abortion. And his first tweet simply argued that “the law should treat abortion like any other homicide.”

Only when he was asked what kind of punishment he had in mind did he tweet back: “hanging.” He was “absolutely willing to see abortion treated like regular homicide under the criminal code.”

You don’t have to agree with that; I don’t. But Williamson’s position (not all pro-lifers’) is that abortion is murder (literally, the killing of a baby), that it should be made illegal and carry a punishment equal to that of similar crimes.

Is this more radical than Ruth Marcus’ view in The Washington Post? “I’m going to be blunt here: That was not the child I wanted,” she wrote about how she would have aborted her child if the baby was found to have had Down Syndrome. Her view is disgusting to conservatives, yet there was no move to get her fired. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Black Gun Owner’s Epic Rant Against The Government Goes Viral

‘When are you all gonna start standing up for the majority? … I’m the majority!’

Ryan Saavedra On Tuesday, while speaking during a city council meeting on curtailing gun violence, an African-American gun owner in North Carolina blasted government officials who want to restrict gun rights of law-abiding citizens.

“When are you all gonna start standing up for the majority? … I’m the majority! I’m a law-abiding citizen who’s never shot anybody,” Mark Robinson said. Read the rest of this entry »


Kyle Smith’s Movie Review: Ted Kennedy Exposed, Finally 

The movie isn’t a hit piece, but the history it tells is infuriating.

Kyle Smith writes: Chappaquiddick must be counted one of the great untold stories in American political history: The average citizen may be vaguely aware of what happened but probably has little notion of just how contemptible was the behavior of Senator Ted Kennedy. Mainstream book publishers and Hollywood have mostly steered clear of the subject for 48 years.

“If Chappaquiddick had been released in 1970, it would have ended Kennedy’s political career.”

Chappaquiddick the movie fills in an important gap, and if it had been released in 1970, it would have ended Kennedy’s political career. (It was only a few weeks ago that a sitting senator resigned over far less disturbing behavior than Kennedy’s.) Yet this potent and penetrating film is not merely an attack piece. It’s more than fair to Kennedy in its hesitance to depict him as drunk on the night in question, and it also pictures him repeatedly diving into the pond on Chappaquiddick Island, trying to rescue his brother Bobby’s former aide Mary Jo Kopechne (Kate Mara). He may or may not have made such rescue attempts. Moreover, as directed by John Curran (The Painted Veil), the film is suffused with lament that a man in Kennedy’s position could have been so much more than he was. Yet Ted, the last and least of four brothers, was shoved into a role for which he simply lacked the character. That the other three were dynamic leaders who died violently while he alone lived on to become the Senate’s Jabba the Hutt is perhaps the most dizzying chapter of the century-long Kennedy epic. Read the rest of this entry »


What Do You Like About Not Living in a Democracy?

Dima Vorobiev

COMMENTARY: How Obama’s Portrait Reveals the Failures of the Elitist Art World

THE REMODERN REVIEW

In the Weeds: Kehinde Wiley’s Obama Portrait 

.As the United States clips along at the speed of Trump, the news cycle races by in a dizzying blur. Events rapidly recede without any time for real analysis. Such was the case for the big reveal of the official portraits of former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. Although it just happened on February 12, it already feels like ancient history. Yet this regrettable image is going to be cluttering up the National Portrait Gallery forever, so it’s worth understanding just what the tax payers had to subsidize.

The Michelle Obama portrait is just sad. A tentative, pallid non-likeness. The apparatchiks at the museum assure us that it is so popular it had to be moved to a larger display space. Perhaps a pilgrimage to it gives the same solace that some progressives get from the plastic Obama…

View original post 1,328 more words


Civil Rights and the Second Amendment

The Great Equalizer

 writes: In her harrowing 1892 treatise on the horrors of lynching in the post-bellum American South, the journalist, suffragist, and civil-rights champion Ida B. Wells established for her readers the value of bearing arms. “Of the many inhuman outrages of this present year,” Wells recorded, “the only case where the proposed lynching did not occur, was where the men armed themselves.” She went on to proffer some advice: “The only times an Afro-American who was assaulted got away has been when he had a gun and used it in self-defense. The lesson this teaches, and which every Afro-American should ponder well, is that a Winchester rifle should have a place of honor in every black home, and it should be used for that protection which the law refuses to give.”

“Of the many inhuman outrages of this present year, the only case where the proposed lynching did not occur, was where the men armed themselves.” 

Conservatives are fond of employing foreign examples of the cruelty and terror that governments may inflict on a people that has been systematically deprived of its weaponry. Among them are the Third Reich’s exclusion of Jews from the ranks of the armed, Joseph Stalin’s anti-gun edicts of 1929, and the prohibitive firearms rules that the Communist party introduced into China between 1933 and 1949.

pam-grier-with-gun-700x4001

To varying degrees, these do help to make the case. And yet, ugly as all of these developments were, there is in fact no need for our augurs of oppression to roam so far afield for their illustrations of tyranny. Instead, they might look to their own history.

“The only times an Afro-American who was assaulted got away has been when he had a gun and used it in self-defense. The lesson this teaches, and which every Afro-American should ponder well, is that a Winchester rifle should have a place of honor in every black home, and it should be used for that protection which the law refuses to give.”

— Journalist, suffragist, and civil-rights champion Ida B. Wells

“Do you really think that it could happen here?” remains a favorite refrain of the modern gun-control movement. Alas, the answer should be a resounding “Yes.” For most of America’s story, an entire class of people was, as a matter of course, enslaved, beaten, lynched, subjected to the most egregious miscarriages of justice, and excluded either explicitly or practically from the body politic.

[Read the full story here, at National Review]

We prefer today to reserve the word “tyranny” for its original target, King George III, or to apply it to foreign despots. But what other characterization can be reasonably applied to the governments that, ignoring the words of the Declaration of Independence, enacted and enforced the Fugitive Slave Act? How else can we see the men who crushed Reconstruction? How might we view the recalcitrant American South in the early 20th century? “It” did “happen here.” And “it” was achieved — in part, at least — because its victims were denied the very right to self-protection that during the Revolution had been recognized as the unalienable prerogative of “all men.”

When, in 1857, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney buttoned his Dred Scott v. Sandford opinion with the panicked warning that if free blacks were permitted to become American citizens they might begin “to keep and carry arms wherever they went,” he was signaling his support for a disgraceful status quo within which suppression of the right to bear arms was depressingly quotidian. Indeed, until the late 1970s, the history of American gun control was largely inextricable from the history of American racism. Long before Louisiana was a glint in Thomas Jefferson’s eye, the French “Black Codes” mandated that any black person found with a “potential weapon” be not only deprived of that weapon but also beaten for his audacity.

"Legitimate self defense has absolutely nothing to do with the criminal misuse of guns." —Gerald Vernon, veteran firearms instructor

British colonies, both slaveholding and free, tended to restrict gun ownership to whites, with even the settlements at Massachusetts and Plymouth prohibiting Indians from purchasing or owning firearms. Throughout the South, blacks were denied weapons. The intention of these rules was clear: to remove the means by which undesirables might rebel or resist, and to ensure that the majority maintained its prerogatives. In 1834, alarmed by Nat Turner’s rebellion in Virginia, Tennessee amended its state constitution to make this purpose unambiguous, clarifying that the “right to keep and to bear arms” applied not to “the freemen of this State” — as the 1794 version of the document had allowed — but to “the free white men of this State.”

In much of America, this principle would hold for another century, emancipation notwithstanding. As Adam Winkler of UCLA’s law school has noted, a movement comprising the Ku Klux Klan and those Democrats who sought to thwart the gains of the Civil War “began with gun control at the very top of its agenda.” Read the rest of this entry »


BIG DATA: A Tale of Two Campaigns

twin-data#.jpg


[VIDEO] REWIND: Ambassador John Bolton – The President of Red Eye


Xi Strikes Nationalistic Tone in Parliament Address 

Chinese President Xi Jinping is displayed on a big screen as he delivers a speech at the closing session of the annual National People’s Congress in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Tuesday.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is displayed on a big screen as he delivers a speech at the closing session of the annual National People’s Congress in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, Tuesday, March 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese President Xi Jinping struck a strongly nationalistic tone in his closing address Tuesday to the annual session of the ceremonial parliament, saying China would never allow “one inch” of territory to be separated from it.

Speaking before the nearly 3,000 members of the National People’s Congress who had earlier abolished term limits on his rule, Xi declared that the Chinese people were now “closer now than at any time in history to realizing the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

“Maintaining national sovereignty, territorial integrity and complete unification of the motherland is the common aspiration of all Chinese,” Xi said.

“In the face of national righteousness and the tide of history, all attempts or tricks aimed at dividing the motherland are doomed to failure,” Xi said to loud applause. “All will receive the condemnation of the people and the punishment of history.”

Read the rest of this entry »


What’s ‘Genius’ for Obama is Scandal When it Comes to Trump

obama celebobama-zzz

The scandal involving Cambridge Analytica’s abuse of Facebook data underscores the point.

Ben Shapiro writes:

…  In 2012, The Guardian reported that President Obama’s reelection team was “building a vast digital data operation that for the first time combines a unified database on millions of Americans with the power of Facebook to target individual voters to a degree never achieved before.”

… Facebook had no problem with such activity then. They do now. There’s a reason for that. The former Obama director of integration and media analytics stated that, during the 2012 campaign, Facebook allowed the Obama team to “suck out the whole social graph”; Facebook “was surprised we were able to suck out the whole social graph, but they didn’t stop us once they realized that was what we were doing.” She added, “They came to [the] office in the days following election recruiting & were very candid that they allowed us to do things they wouldn’t have allowed someone else to do because they were on our side.”

Not so with Trump. As soon as Facebook realized that Cambridge Analytica had pursued a similar strategy, they suspended the firm.

Again, this isn’t surprising. Since Trump’s election, Democrats — in search of a rationale for their favored candidate’s defeat — have blamed a bevy of social media outlets. Senate Democrats trotted out pathetic Russian-created memes on Facebook, viewed by a handful of human beings, as an excuse for Hillary’s loss; Democrats claimed — without evidence — that “fake news” had swamped Facebook and thus led to Trump’s victory. Democrats have also insisted that Facebook be regulated. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) raged, “You’ve created these platforms, and now they’re being misused, and you have to be the ones to do something about it. Or we will.” Facebook’s former privacy manager called for the government to step into an oversight role regarding Facebook.

[Read the full story here, at TheHill]

In February, Wired magazine ran a cover story specifically dealing with Facebook’s role in the election of 2016, and their subsequent attempts to “fix” the problem. After the election, Mark Zuckerberg even met with Barack Obama, apparently in an attempt to convince Obama that he was serious about stopping the “misuse” of the platform. And in February, Zuckerberg said he wanted to re-jigger the algorithms on his platform to benefit content that Facebook deems “trustworthy, informative, and local.” Wired celebrated: “You can’t make the world more open and connected if you’re breaking it apart.” Read the rest of this entry »


Trump Lives Rent-Free in Our Heads 

TRUMP-tv

We need to think about more than Trump. We need to deliberate over the course of public policy in a beneficial way.

Jay Cost writes: If the people deliberate about nothing except Trump, they are not thinking about important issues.

It can be hard to keep one’s wits about oneself during the Age of Trump. Our president is like the ringmaster of a circus, and the American people are his enthralled spectators. It seems as if we cannot get enough. Love him or hate him, he remains at the center of our public consciousness.

mad-science-trump-radius

It is hard to meditate on anything about politics these days without one’s passions being inflamed by Trump. Case in point, Jeff Flake’s appearance on State of the Union Sunday afternoon. CNN reported:

Flake said he was “puzzled” by the White House’s intense focus on former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe and disagreed with Trump declaring McCabe’s firing “a great day for democracy.”

“I think it was a horrible day for democracy,” Flake said.

This is how the Trump effect works. He says something ridiculous — in this case, that the firing of Andrew McCabe was a “great day for democracy.” Flake, in disagreement, says the opposite. No, it was a “horrible day for democracy.”

“This is a great way to become the main character, be it the hero or villain, which is exactly what Trump has managed to do. But if we move outside his orbit for a moment, it’s easier to appreciate how we have become detached from reality.”

How about: Neither great nor horrible? How about: The quality of our democracy does not hinge on whether some relatively obscure government official receives his pension?

[Read the full story here, at National Review]

Temperamentally, the American people have often tended to millenarianism — a great hope that the world is on the cusp of some massive transformation, which hinges on this generation. It is amazing that this predominantly Protestant expectation has managed to remain part of the civic consciousness, even while the United States has become less and less religious.

Trump-Kong

Trump brings this impulse to the forefront in the way he communicates with the nation. He frames just about everything in hyperbolic terms, and those who disagree with him seem compelled to do likewise. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] KAMIKAZE INTERIOR SECRETARY: Ryan Zinke Says ‘Konichiwa’ To Hawaii Congresswoman

That… was a very dumb thing to say.

Christian Datoc reports: Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke put his foot in his own mouth during a Thursday hearing before the House Committee on Natural Resources by attempting to make a very ill-advised joke about Rep. Colleen Hanabusa’s Japanese heritage.

The Hawaii representative first asked Zinke about decisions to cut funding for a memorial to Japanese-Americans interned during World War II, during which she herself brought up her heritage.

“I sit before you the granddaughter of two internees,” Hanabusa stated. “I didn’t even know my grandfather was interned on Oahu for a lot of the war time because he was 80 years old.” Read the rest of this entry »


OH YES HE DID: Obama Used Fusion GPS Investigate Mitt Romney 

  • A new book claims former President Barack Obama hired Fusion GPS to dig up dirt on Romney
  • Obama used law firm Perkins Coie to hide payment to Fusion GPS
  • The Clinton campaign would later do the same thing to investigate Trump

Chuck Ross reports: The Barack Obama presidential campaign hired Fusion GPS in 2012 to dig up dirt on Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, according to a book released on Tuesday.

The Obama campaign hid its payments to Fusion GPS through its law firm, Perkins Coie. The arrangement is similar to the one that the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee used to pay Fusion for its investigation of then-candidate Donald Trump in 2016.

Dossier ‘coincidences’ pile up

That contract led to the creation of the infamous Steele dossier, which was written by former British spy Christopher Steele.

“In 2012, Fusion GPS was hired to do opposition research on Mitt Romney for Barack Obama’s reelection campaign,” reads “Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and Donald Trump’s Election.” Read the rest of this entry »


Rex Murphy: The Contemptible Concept of ‘White Privilege’ is Just Ugly, Angry Racism 

scream-sjw

Maxime Bernier is right: Identity politics dissolves community, reduces a country to subsets of clans, and obscures the diversity of individual lives.

Then there is Justin Trudeau inviting the fanatically anti-Alberta-oil Bill Nye to Ottawa for a public chat on science, the highlight of which was the signal revelation of the centrality of breastfeeding to the scientific method — delivered by our PM. When baby wails and the milk flows, can Planck’s constant be far behind?

As well: Jaspal Atwal, failed Sikh assassin, holding what he ludicrously called a press conference. The only takeaway: his lawyer is scarier, though not necessarily more competent.

Minister of Immigration Ahmed Hussen shares the stage with Parliamentary Secretary MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes, centre, and Heritage Minister Melanie Joly during a Black History Month reception at the Museum of History in Gatineau, Que., on Feb. 12, 2018. Justin Tang/CP

More fertile than them all however was the brisk, chippy, and entitled Twitter blast levelled by Liberal MP and person of colour, Celina Caesar-Chavannes (Whitby, Ont.), at Conservative MP Maxime Bernier (Beauce, Que.).

Bernier had criticized an earlier tweet by Ahmed Hussen in which the Immigration Minister said the federal budget was historic for “racialized Canadians.”

Bernier said he deplored that tweet’s “awful jargon,” the pitch to “racialized” Canadians, and put out a plea for “colour blindness,” character over skin colour. His critics, Bernier said, implied (he was) a racist because “I want to live in a society where everyone is treated equally and not defined by their race.”

“Please check your privilege and be quiet.”

— MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes

The parliamentary pigeons were duly agitated. Instanter, Caesar-Chavannes fired off her Twitter blast: Read the rest of this entry »


Gangs and Politicians in Chicago: An Unholy Alliance

LAWBREAKERS, LAWMAKERS: In some parts of Chicago, violent street gangs and pols quietly trade money and favors for mutual gain. The thugs flourish, the elected officials thrive—and you lose. 

Baskin isn’t a slick campaign strategist. He’s a former gang leader and, for several decades, a community activist who now operates a neighborhood center that aims to keep kids off the streets. Baskin has deep contacts inside the South Side’s complex network of politicians, community organizations, and street gangs. as he recalls, the inquiring candidates wanted to know: “Who do I need to be talking to so I can get the gangs on board?”

Baskin—who was himself a candidate in the 16th Ward aldermanic race, which he would lose—was happy to oblige. In all, he says, he helped broker meetings between roughly 30 politicians (ten sitting aldermen and 20 candidates for City Council) and at least six gang representatives. That claim is backed up by two other community activists, Harold Davis Jr. and Kublai K. M. Toure, who worked with Baskin to arrange the meetings, and a third participant, also a community activist, who requested anonymity. The gang representatives were former chiefs who had walked away from day-to-day thug life, but they were still respected on the streets and wielded enough influence to mobilize active gang members.

The first meeting, according to Baskin, occurred in early November 2010, right before the statewide general election; more gatherings followed in the run-up to the February 2011 municipal elections. The venues included office buildings, restaurants, and law offices. (By all accounts, similar meetings took place across the city before last year’s elections and in elections past, including after hours at the Garfield Center, a taxpayer-financed facility on the West Side that is used by the city’s Department of Family and Support Services.)

At some of the meetings, the politicians arrived with campaign materials and occasionally with aides. The sessions were organized much like corporate-style job fairs. The gang representatives conducted hourlong interviews, one after the other, talking to as many as five candidates in a single evening. Like supplicants, the politicians came into the room alone and sat before the gang representatives, who sat behind a long table. “One candidate said, ‘I feel like I’m in the hot seat,’” recalls Baskin. “And they were.”

The former chieftains, several of them ex-convicts, represented some of the most notorious gangs on the South and West Sides, including the Vice Lords, Gangster Disciples, Black Disciples, Cobras, Black P Stones, and Black Gangsters. Before the election, the gangs agreed to set aside decades-old rivalries and bloody vendettas to operate as a unified political force, which they called Black United Voters of Chicago. “They realized that if they came together, they could get the politicians to come to them,” explains Baskin. Read the rest of this entry »


Michael Moore, Russian Tool

Derek Hunter reports: Progressive director Michael Moore participated in an anti-Trump protest in New York that was organized by Russians, according to information released Friday by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

Rosenstein announced indictments from Special Counsel Robert Mueller Friday against 13 Russian nationals for meddling in the 2016 election, highlighting how the Russians used social media to stir up strife and anger on social media using memes and unwitting Americans to do their bidding. One Russia-sponsored event was a protest of then President-Elect Donald Trump on Nov. 12, 2016, called “Trump is NOT my President,” and it involved Moore.

Read the rest of this entry »


Kurt Schlichter: The Liberal Media’s Slobbering Over The Norks Reminds Us Why We Have The Second Amendment

Besides having bad taste, our mainstream media is revealing our ruling class once again.

Kurt Schlichter writes: America’s most effective advocate of the principle of an armed populace is now officially the liberal media that usually seeks to do the ruling class’s bidding and strip us Normal Americans of that sacred right. But after the media’s bizarre display of eager tongue-bathing of the semi-human savages who run North Korea, any patriot has got to be thinking, “I best load up, because it’s pretty clear what the establishment’s desired end state is.”

The New York Times quivered: “Kim Jong-un’s Sister Turns on the Charm, Taking Pence’s Spotlight.”

Reuters tingled: “North Korea judged winner of diplomatic gold at Olympics.”

And CNN harassed airport travelers with: “Kim Jong Un’s sister is stealing the show at the Winter Olympics.”

Let’s clarify something – this Kim Yo Jong woman, a key leader in a giant death cult that is torturing and killing people at this moment, is not cute, not figuratively and not literally. She’s not even a Pyongyang 6. Maybe at closing time. After a lot of soju.

But besides having bad taste, our mainstream media is revealing our ruling class once again. You watch the non-stop squee over these monsters and the only conclusion you can reasonably draw is that, for our worthless establishment, the North Korea murderocracy is not a cautionary example. It’s an objective.

Just think of it! The ability to simply make all those Normals who disagree with you go away – either for good or by exiling them to rural fun camps. No fuss, no muss, no more tiresome dissent by those banjo-jockies between the coasts!

What? That’s crazy talk! How could you draw the conclusion from our giddy, giggling media lovefest that we approve of those adorable, wonderful North Koreans?

[Read the full story here, at townhall.com]

Well, that’s fair. Maybe our elite doesn’t really dig the Great Big Leader’s vibe. Maybe our elite is just composed of morons. If the explanation for the media serfs’ tender fondling of these blood-drenched sadists is not a result of our morally illiterate elite’s desire to emulate the insane wickedness of the Juche Idea, then that leaves gross stupidity as the only other option.

Either they want us Normals dead or enslaved, or they are just idiots.

Pick one.

Spoiler: Neither option supports us giving up our guns. Read the rest of this entry »


The Woke Police Have Ruined Entertainment

Johnny Oleksinski When Tina Fey’s film “Mean Girls” came out in 2004, the comedy was lauded as a silly, satirical excoriation of modern high-school life and its cliques, cafeteria antics and materialism. “Mean Girls” was a “Clueless” for the millennial age. And it was so fetch.

Fast forward to 2018. “Mean Girls” is about to begin a new life as a Broadway musicalin March. But some Broadway watchers believe the subject matter is too mean for these kinder, gentler times.

“It just might not be the moment for ‘Mean Girls,’ ” one Broadway insider told me on the condition of anonymity. “It might feel stale and tone-deaf to the critics. And while this is something that could be critic-proof, maybe not.”

The fear of offending audiences isn’t limited to musicals about bratty teens. In this oversensitive era, TV shows, Oscar-worthy movies and pop music are all under pressure to be as nice as Betty Crocker. For millennia the best art has offended, tantalized, frightened, riled up and, of course, been life-affirming. But today the American public, looking more than ever like Soviet Russia, has just one rule for entertainers: Don’t rock the boat.

During last Sunday’s Super Bowl halftime show, singer Justin Timberlake barely rocked his hips. The former boybander is responsible for the most famous sex stunt in the history of the event — Janet Jackson’s 2004 nipple-baring “wardrobe malfunction.” Read the rest of this entry »


The press used to uncover government wrongdoing. Today’s press is defending it.

FISA Memo Is Scarier than Watergate.

Victor Davis Hanson write: The Watergate scandal of 1972–74 was uncovered largely because of outraged Democratic politicians and a bulldog media. They both claimed that they had saved American democracy from the Nixon administration’s attempt to warp the CIA and FBI to cover up an otherwise minor, though illegal, political break-in.

In the Iran-Contra affair of 1985–87, the media and liberal activists uncovered wrongdoing by some rogue members of the Reagan government. They warned of government overreach and of using the “Deep State” to subvert the law for political purposes.

We are now in the midst of a third great modern scandal. Members of the Obama administration’s Department of Justice sought court approval for the surveillance of Carter Page, allegedly for colluding with Russian interests, and extended the surveillance three times.

But none of these government officials told the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that the warrant requests were based on an unverified dossier that had originated as a hit piece funded in part by the Hillary Clinton campaign to smear Donald Trump during the current 2016 campaign.

[Read the full story here, at National Review]

Nor did these officials reveal that the author of the dossier, Christopher Steele, had already been dropped as a reliable source by the FBI for leaking to the press.

Nor did officials add that a Department of Justice official, Bruce Ohr, had met privately with Steele — or that Ohr’s wife, Nellie, had been hired to work on the dossier.

Unfortunately, such disclosures may be only the beginning of the FISA-gate scandal.

Members of the Obama administration’s national security team also may have requested the names of American citizens connected with the Trump campaign who had been swept up in other FISA surveillance. Those officials may have then improperly unmasked the names and leaked them to a compliant press — again, for apparent political purposes during a campaign.

Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Trey Gowdy’s Greatest Hits


Victor Davis Hanson: Counterfeit Elitism

“Elite” is now an overused smear. But it is a fair pejorative when denoting a cadre that is not a natural or truly meritocratic top echelon, but is instead a group distinguished merely by schooling, associations, residence, connections and open disdain. If this is supposed to translate into some sort of received wisdom and acknowledged excellence, ordinary Americans may be pardoned for missing it.

victor-davis-hVictor Davis Hanson writes: Those damn dairy farmers. Why do they insist on trying to govern? Or, put another way:

Why are Republicans trusting Devin Nunes to be their oracle of truth!? A former dairy farmer who House intel staffers refer to as Secret Agent Man because he has no idea what’s going on.

Thus spoke MSNBC panelist, Yale graduate, former Republican “strategist,” and Bush administration speechwriter Elise Jordan.

Elise_Jordan_LLS_Newsdesk.jpg

Elise Jordan

Jordan likely knows little about San Joaquin Valley family dairy farmers and little notion of the sort of skills, savvy, and work ethic necessary to survive in an increasingly corporate-dominated industry. Whereas dairy farmer Nunes has excelled in politics, it would be hard to imagine Jordan running a family dairy farm, at least given the evidence of her televised skill sets and sobriety.

Republicans “trust” Devin Nunes, because without his dogged efforts it is unlikely that we would know about the Fusion GPS dossier or the questionable premises on which FISA court surveillance was ordered. Neither would we have known about the machinations of an array of Obama Administration, Justice Department and FBI officials who, in addition to having possibly violated the law in monitoring a political campaign and unmasking and leaking names of Americans to the press, may have colluded with people in the Clinton campaign who funded the Steele dossier.

[Read the more here, at American Greatness]

“Elite” is now an overused smear. But it is a fair pejorative when denoting a cadre that is not a natural or truly meritocratic top echelon, but is instead a group distinguished merely by schooling, associations, residence, connections and open disdain. If this is supposed to translate into some sort of received wisdom and acknowledged excellence, ordinary Americans may be pardoned for missing it.

The frustration with chronic elite incompetence was a theme in the 2016 election. “Expert” pollsters assured us of a Clinton landslide. The media could not follow undergraduate rules of decorum and truthfulness. “Brilliant” Ivy League trained pundits preached that the Trump administration’s first year would be disastrous and without accomplishment. Televised legal eagles insisted that Robert Mueller by now would have indicted Team Trump on charges of Russian collusion.

oil-painting-farm-folk-art-thanksgiving-pumpkins-rural-country-autumn-

Half the country no longer believes these self-appointed authorities, largely because there is no visible connection between what the self-congratulatory say and do and any commensurate discernable accomplishment.

After a half-century of “whiz kids,” “the best and the brightest,” and “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for,” Americans finally yawned and are moving on.

Deplorables, Clingers, and Those Not Worthy of Worry

One symptom of such a played-out elite is its blanket condemnation of the supposed blinkered middle-class—usually evident in their virtue-signaling outrage and in their inclination to contrast their own supposed enlightenment to the supposed ignorance of everyone else.

You could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? They’re racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic—Islamophobic—you name it. And unfortunately, there are people like that… Now, some of those folks—they are irredeemable, but thankfully, they are not America.

So said Yale law graduate Hillary Clinton, in an incoherent, factually unsubstantiated, and politically disastrous rant that may have lost her the 2016 election.

Clinton all but wrote off 25 percent of America as “not America”—this from the 2008 primary challenger to Barack Obama who was blasted by progressives for pandering to just such a white gun-owning consistency.

[Read the full story here, at American Greatness]

Or as Barack Obama once said, Hillary Clinton is “talking like she’s Annie Oakley . . . Hillary Clinton is out there like she’s on the duck blind every Sunday. She’s packing a six-shooter. Come on, she knows better.”

Or as Clinton herself once put it, “[I’ve] found how Senator Obama’s support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me . . . There’s a pattern emerging here.”

It is hard to image the Yalie feminist Clinton having any sort of political career without attachment to president emeritus and spouse Bill Clinton, whose serial sexual harassment and assault she not only contextualized over four decades, but by serial defense fueled. Read the rest of this entry »


Biased FBI and DOJ Officials Broke The Law And Tried To Decide The Election: An Annotated Timeline

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., returns to a secure area in the Capitol  Jan. 16, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Thomas Del Beccaro   writes: There can be no question, at this point, that certain higher ups in the FBI and the DOJ did not want Hillary to be indicted and did not want Donald Trump to become President.  Those efforts were not entirely independent of each other.

Below is a timeline of events – abbreviated though it is – that makes it rather plain that the FBI and DOJ were not investigating potential crimes objectively.

Indeed, they were committing crimes during the process in aid of their preferred outcomes.

1.  2007. Hillary Clinton wanted to be President.  Hillary’s ambitions to be president started long ago.  She ran for President in the 2008 cycle.  In 2009, after losing to Obama, Hillary became Obama’s Secretary of State.  She stayed in that post until 2013.

2. March 2015. The Hillary email scandal breaks. Hillary was using an unapproved/unsecured server and devices to communicate.  She was using a private email account.  Classified information was being sent through that email, server and devices – including when Hillary was abroad.

All of that is illegal.  As 2015 unfolds, it becomes clear to the FBI and the DOJ that President Barack Obama was communicating with Hillary using her non-state department email.  Obama was using an email and a name that masked who he was.

That had to be known to authorities long before March of 2015 given that it occurred prior to 2013.

As Andrew McCarthy points out in his recent article, there was no chance that the DOJ was going to indict Hillary because that would have required implicating President Obama.  That was never going to happen.  From thereafter, DOJ officials acted with that understanding, however illegal, in mind.

3.  June 2015. Donald Trump announces his Presidential run.

4.  March 2016. Trump has enough delegates to claim the nomination. Read the rest of this entry »


A Reckoning for the FBI 

bn-qn452_fbiema_p_20161030133118

The House memo reveals disturbing facts about the misuse of FISA.

Now we know why the FBI tried so hard to block release of the House Intelligence Committee memo. And why Democrats and the media want to change the subject to Republican motivations. The four-page memo released Friday reports disturbing facts about how the FBI and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court appear to have been used to influence the 2016 election and its aftermath.

The White House declassified the memo Friday, and you don’t have to be a civil libertarian to be shocked by the details. The memo confirms that the FBI and Justice Department on Oct. 21, 2016 obtained a FISA order to surveil Carter Page, an American citizen who was a relatively minor volunteer adviser to the Trump presidential campaign.

The memo says an “essential” part of the FISA application was the “dossier” assembled by former British spy Christopher Steele and the research firm Fusion GPS that was hired by a law firm attached to the Clinton campaign. The memo adds that former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe told the committee in December 2017 that “no surveillance warrant would have been sought” without the dossier.

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

This is troubling enough, but the memo also discloses that the FBI failed to inform the FISA court that the Clinton campaign had funded the dossier. The memo says the FBI supported its FISA application by “extensively” citing a September 2016 article in Yahoo News that contained allegations against Mr. Page. But the FBI failed to tell the court that Mr. Steele and Fusion were the main sources for that Yahoo article. In essence the FBI was citing Mr. Steele to corroborate Mr. Steele.

Unlike a normal court, FISA doesn’t have competing pleaders. The FBI and Justice appear ex parte as applicants, and thus the judges depend on candor from both. Yet the FBI never informed the court that Mr. Steele was in effect working for the Clinton campaign. The FBI retained Mr. Steele as a source, and in October 2016 he talked to Mother Jones magazine without authorization about the FBI investigation and his dossier alleging collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. The FBI then fired Mr. Steele, but it never told the FISA judges about that either. Nor did it tell the court any of this as it sought three subsequent renewals of the order on Mr. Page. Read the rest of this entry »


UNHINGED: Comey Rips ‘Weasels and Liars,’ Invokes Joe McCarthy in Twitter Rant

The former FBI director speaks out on Twitter.

 reports: Former FBI Director James Comey lashed out at unnamed “weasels and liars” on social media late Thursday, hours before President Trump was expected to declassify a controversial memo about purported surveillance abuses over the objections of Democrats.

“All should appreciate the FBI speaking up. I wish more of our leaders would,” Comey wrote on Twitter. “But take heart: American history shows that, in the long run, weasels and liars never hold the field, so long as good people stand up.

“Not a lot of schools or streets named for Joe McCarthy,” Comey added, a reference to the Wisconsin senator who claimed high-ranking government officials were Soviet spies in the 1950s.

Comey appeared to be referencing an FBI statement released Wednesday that objected to the release of the memo, authored by House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif. That statement said the FBI had “grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.”

Sources told Fox News Thursday that the version of the memo Trump plans to declassify contains “technical edits” made at the FBI’s request. The sources said the edited version was shown to five FBI officials at the White House on Tuesday afternoon and the officials were satisfied that the edits addressed concerns they had about an earlier version of the memo that was reviewed on Monday. Read the rest of this entry »


2018 Grammy Ratings Sink From Recent Years

It’s a demo low for the telecast, as it still skews young and the audience drops by 24 percent.

Michael O’Connell reports: Sunday’s Bruno Mars-loving Grammy Awards took a dramatic ratings spill, fetching the smallest demo audience in the show’s history.

The telecast, which ran a bloated three-and-a-half hours, was off by 24 percent from 2017 with adjusted numbers. With time zone adjustments taken into account, the telecast averaged 19.8 million viewers and a 5.9 rating among adults 18-49. The second stat marked a low for the show. Among total viewers, that number was down even more than overnight returns from Nielsen Media that it a 12.7 rating among households. It’s the biggest drop for the Grammys since the 2013, the year after the show swelled following the death of Whitney Houston.

The 2017 overnight ratings for the Grammy Awards didn’t paint the most accurate portrait of their year-over-year performance. The 16.0 rating among households, steady with 2016, ended up translating to a not-insignificant gain of 1 million viewers. Those Grammys were the best in two years, averaging just north of 26 million viewers and earning a 7.8 rating among adults 18-49. Read the rest of this entry »


Report: Obamacare Exchanges Fraud Costs Taxpayers Millions

It seems an incredible waste to put tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions, of taxpayer dollars at risk through fraud on federal exchanges.

Christopher Jacobs reports: What do Obamacare and Haley Joel Osment have in common? They both see dead people.

On Tuesday, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released another report into eligibility verification checks on the federally run Obamacare insurance exchange used by more than three dozen states. As with prior studies, GAO concluded that regulators still need to improve integrity efforts to ensure the federal government spends taxpayer funds wisely.

[Read the full story here, at thefederalist.com]

Among the report’s most noteworthy conclusions: A total of 17,000 federally subsidized insurance policies studied during the 2015 plan year—the most recent for which GAO had complete data at the time of its investigation—began or continued after the applicant’s reported date of death. In 1,000 of those cases, coverage began after the applicant’s reported date of death. In a further 2,000, the application was submitted after the applicant’s reported date of death—in most cases because the exchange automatically re-enrolled applicants without checking to determine that they remained alive.

obamacare-skeleton-panic.jpg

GAO previously recommended that the federal exchange verify eligibility periodically, checking changes in circumstances that would affect the status of federal subsidies, such as death. However, to the best of auditors’ knowledge, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has not implemented this recommendation, one of 18 relating to exchange integrity that remain open (i.e., not completed) from two prior GAO reports. Read the rest of this entry »


Memo Controversy: Andrew C. McCarthy Is Asking The Right Questions

From Release the Memo: Let’s See What’s in It

Andrew C. McCarthy writes:

… First, the main questions that we need answered are:

  • Were associates of President Trump, members of his campaign, or even Trump himself, subjected to foreign-intelligence surveillance (i.e., do the FISA applications name them as either targets or persons whose communications and activities would likely be monitored)?
  • Was information from the Steele dossier used in FISA applications?
  • If Steele-dossier information was so used, was it so central that FISA warrants would not have been granted without it?
  • If Steele-dossier information was so used, was it corroborated by independent FBI investigation?
  • If the dossier’s information was so used, was the source accurately conveyed to the court so that credibility and potential bias could be weighed (i.e., was the court told that the information came from an opposition-research project sponsored by the Clinton presidential campaign)?
  • The FBI has said that significant efforts were made to corroborate Steele’s sensational claims, yet former director James Comey has acknowledged (in June 2017 Senate testimony) that the dossier was “unverified.” If the dossier was used in FISA applications in 2016, has the Justice Department — consistent with its continuing duty of candor in dealings with the tribunal — alerted the court that it did not succeed in verifying Steele’s hearsay reporting based on anonymous sources? Read the rest of this entry »

Law Enforcement Enforces Law? Justice Department Continues Crackdown on ‘Sanctuary’ Cities

The Justice Department sent letters to 23 states, cities and counties, including California, Los Angeles and Chicago, demanding records showing whether law enforcement officers are sharing information with federal agents on the immigration status of people in their custody. (Jan. 24, 2018) 

 reports: Returning to a favorite cause for President Trump and Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions, the Justice Department on Wednesday escalated a struggle with two dozen so-called sanctuary jurisdictions, demanding records proving they are cooperating with immigration enforcement agencies.

The department sent letters to 23 states, cities and counties, including California, Los Angeles and Chicago, demanding records showing whether law enforcement officers are sharing information with federal agents on the immigration status of people in their custody.

If the local jurisdictions don’t comply, the department says it will issue subpoenas or possibly cut off certain federal grant funds.

A crackdown on sanctuary jurisdictions was one of the first measures ordered by Trump a year ago, and Sessions has repeatedly focused on the policies, which he says are a hazard to public safety. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Leftist Zombies Are Camping Outside Senator Chuck Schumer’s Home

Jazz Shaw reports: The fallout on the left from Senator Chuck Schumer’s astute deal-making abilities is continuing into day three. Ed Morrissey broke down the reaction from liberal media outlets yesterday, but a significant number of progressive activists weren’t satisfied with leaving the job to the press. They showed up last night outside the Senator’s Brooklyn apartments for the traditional airing of grievances and indicated that if he wasn’t going to take a stand for the Dreamers, they were going to make sure he didn’t get any sleep

… While all of this may seem amusing if you’re just looking for a reason to munch popcorn, the pressure on Schumer right now could spell trouble over the next couple of weeks. If he’s really feeling the heat, he’ll probably be more inclined to try to take a hard line on immigration reform negotiations just to prove to his base that he’s not going soft. Read the rest of this entry »


Obama Mocked Trump’s Political Ambitions. Trump Spent His First Year Dismantling Obama’s Legacy

As president, Barack Obama repeatedly mocked Donald Trump’s political ambitions, laughing at the idea of Trump ever winning the presidency.

Peter Hasson writes: Obama mocked Trump in 2011 for calling into question whether he was born in America. The state of Hawaii later released Obama’s longform birth certificate to put the matter to rest. Obama viciously mocked Trump for the controversy, before mocking the idea of Trump ever serving in the White House.

From the White House transcript of the event:

Now, I know that he’s taken some flak lately, but no one is happier, no one is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest than the Donald.  (Laughter.)  And that’s because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter –- like, did we fake the moon landing?  (Laughter.)  What really happened in Roswell?  (Laughter.)  And where are Biggie and Tupac?  (Laughter and applause.)

But all kidding aside, obviously, we all know about your credentials and breadth of experience.  (Laughter.)  For example — no, seriously, just recently, in an episode of Celebrity Apprentice — (laughter) — at the steakhouse, the men’s cooking team cooking did not impress the judges from Omaha Steaks.  And there was a lot of blame to go around.  But you, Mr. Trump, recognized that the real problem was a lack of leadership.  And so ultimately, you didn’t blame Lil’ Jon or Meatloaf.  (Laughter.)  You fired Gary Busey.  (Laughter.)  And these are the kind of decisions that would keep me up at night.  (Laughter and applause.)  Well handled, sir.  (Laughter.)  Well handled.

Say what you will about Mr. Trump, he certainly would bring some change to the White House.  Let’s see what we’ve got up there.  (Laughter.)

(Screens show “Trump White House Resort and Casino.”)

WATCH:

A month before the 2016 election, Obama mocked Trump’s campaign on “Jimmy Kimmel.” Obama read a tweet from Trump saying that Obama “will go down as perhaps the worst president in the history of the United States,” before turning Trump into a punchline. “Really? Well, @realDonaldTrump, at least I will go down as a president,” Obama said, dropping his phone on the floor for dramatic effect.

A year into the Trump presidency, Obama’s legacy is taking a beating.

Trump has overseen the dismantling of several of Obamacare’s most controversial aspects. The tax cuts package Trump signed last month included a provision repealing Obamacare’s individual mandate. Trump also rolled back the Obama administration’s contraception mandate, which forced religious groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor to provide birth control for all employees, regardless of conscientious objections. Read the rest of this entry »


Please Don‘t Shut Down The Government, Democrats, Because That Would Be Awful (Not) 

What a tragedy it would be if Democrats made good on their threat and decided DACA was so important that they must shut down the federal government over it.

Kurt Schlichter writes: What a tragedy it would be if Democrats made good on their threat and decided DACA was so important that they must shut down the federal government over it. Please don’t! Why, I’d be heartbroken if the government did less and a bunch of foreigners didn’t get rewarded for ignoring our laws. I think this is just the right hill for the Democrats to choose to fight to the death on, and I encourage them to do so. Throw us right in that briar patch, because you are smart and savvy and there’s no way a big dummy like Trump could beat you and make you look like fools.

Again.

You remember DACA? It’s an acronym that stands for “That Thing Democrats Want To Use To Fill The Voter Rolls With Foreigners And GOP Donors Want To Use To Get More Serfs To Work For Peanuts While Actual Americans Get Shafted And Called ‘Racist’ If They Dare Complain.” The Democrats desperately want DACA because you Normal people have let them down and voted for your own interests rather than in the way Nancy Pelosi instructed you. Bad, bad electorate! You definitely need to be replaced.

[Read the full story here, at TownHall]

The GOP wants it because its big money donors want it because you actual Americans demand to be treated with respect by your employers and, well, paying Americans what they’re worth is bad for business. And the Senate GOP Sissy Caucus of sanctimonious twits wants it because it gives them a chance to pose and preen and pretend to have the moral high ground over those wicked evil bad bad bad Republicans who want to do what actual Republican voters want done instead of being guided by the eccentric moral compass that Jeff Flake keeps inside himself right next to his head.

The “Schumerhole” controversy arose because Donald Trump indicated that giving Big Amnesty everything it wanted, and in return allowing him to totally alienate his base, was a bad deal. Read the rest of this entry »


NSA Deleted Surveillance Data it Pledged to Preserve 

The agency tells a federal judge that it is investigating and ‘sincerely regrets its failure.’

The National Security Agency destroyed surveillance data it pledged to preserve in connection with pending lawsuits and apparently never took some of the steps it told a federal court it had taken to make sure the information wasn’t destroyed, according to recent court filings.

Word of the NSA’s foul-up is emerging just as Congress has extended for six years the legal authority the agency uses for much of its surveillance work conducted through U.S. internet providers and tech firms. President Donald Trump signed that measure into law Friday.

Since 2007, the NSA has been under court orders to preserve data about certain of its surveillance efforts that came under legal attack following disclosures that President George W. Bush ordered warrantless wiretapping of international communications after the 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S. In addition, the agency has made a series of representations in court over the years about how it is complying with its duties.

However, the NSA told U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey White in a filing on Thursday night and another little-noticed submission last year that the agency did not preserve the content of internet communications intercepted between 2001 and 2007 under the program Bush ordered. To make matters worse, backup tapes that might have mitigated the failure were erased in 2009, 2011 and 2016, the NSA said.

“The NSA sincerely regrets its failure to prevent the deletion of this data,” NSA’s deputy director of capabilities, identified publicly as “Elizabeth B.,” wrote in a declaration filed in October. “NSA senior management is fully aware of this failure, and the Agency is committed to taking swift action to respond to the loss of this data.”

In the update Thursday, another NSA official said the data were deleted during a broad, housecleaning effort aimed at making space for incoming information. Read the rest of this entry »


Zuckerberg’s Dilemma: When Facebook’s Success Is Bad for Society 

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg met with entrepreneurs and innovators at a round-table discussion in St. Louis on Nov. 9.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg met with entrepreneurs and innovators at a round-table discussion in St. Louis on Nov. 9. Photo: Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

Facebook’s chief has signaled he will do what it takes to curb the social network’s negative effects—but how far will he go?

reports: When scientists started linking cigarettes to cancer, the tobacco industry silenced them—only acknowledging the extent of the truth decades later, under legal duress.

Imagine if, instead, they had given these researchers license to publish papers, or even taken the information to heart and crippled their own moneymaking machines for the good of their addicted users.

No one has accused Facebook FB 1.37% of causing cancer, but Mark Zuckerberg now stands at a similar crossroads.

In the face of pressure brought by a growing roster of Facebook investors and former executives, many of whom have publicly stated that Facebook is both psychologically addictive and harmful to democracy, the Facebook founder and chief executive has pledged to “fix” Facebook by doing several things, including “making sure that time spent on Facebook is time well spent.”

Mr. Zuckerberg has also recently told investors he wants his company “to encourage meaningful social interactions,” adding that “time spent is not a goal by itself.”

Facebook researchers have acknowledged that while direct sharing between individuals and small groups on Facebook can have positive effects, merely scrolling through others’ updates makes people unhappy.

Facebook researchers have acknowledged that while direct sharing between individuals and small groups on Facebook can have positive effects, merely scrolling through others’ updates makes people unhappy. Photo: ISTOCK

So here’s the multibillion-dollar question: Is he willing to sacrifice revenue for the well-being of Facebook’s two-billion-plus users?

Mr. Zuckerberg has already said the company will hire so many content moderators to deal with fake news and Russian interference that it will hurt profit, but whether he will go further and change the basic fabric of Facebook’s algorithms in the name of users’ mental health, he has yet to say.

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

Clearly, Facebook, a company Mr. Zuckerberg started when he was in college, has changed so much that even its creator is playing catch-up to the reality of its globe-spanning power.

In June, he changed the company’s mission from “connecting” the world to bringing the world closer together. He said he used to think giving people a voice would make the world better on its own, “but our society is still divided. Now I believe we have a responsibility to do even more.”

In December, Facebook researchers surveyed the scientific literature and their own work and publicly acknowledged that while direct communication and sharing between individuals and small groups on Facebook can have positive effects, merely lurking and scrolling through others’ status updates makes people unhappy. Read the rest of this entry »


Derek Hunter: Can Breitbart Be Separated From Bannon? 

Can the website survive without its current leader? Should it?

Derek Hunter writes: As the war of words between the President of the United States and Steve Bannon rages over comments in a new book, one question remains on the minds of those who were friends of the man whose website Bannon now runs: Can it survive without him?

Breitbart News was founded by the late Andrew Breitbart and his childhood friend Larry Solov as several separate sites, the “Bigs,” they were called. Big Hollywood, Big Government, Big Journalism, etc. The names were a play on the liberal penchant for demonizing entire industries by labeling them as “big” and using it against liberal sacred cows – think big oil, big tobacco, big pharma.

Around the time of Breitbart’s death, the individual sites were rolled into one: Breitbart News.

After Andrew’s death in March 2012, Steve Bannon became the effective head of the company, though Solov and Breitbart’s widow retained ownership control.

I was friends with Andrew and used to write on a volunteer basis for his sites because of that friendship. It’s unclear how Steve came into the picture, he wasn’t around at the start, I just remember him suddenly being around when Andrew came to town. I never asked, he never said, and it doesn’t really matter.

To say things changed when Steve took over is to say the sun is bright. Matt Drudge, a close friend of Breitbart’s and former supporter called Bannon “schizophrenic.”

Bannon is “a blot on the conservative movement and a detriment to Breitbart News more broadly, as he always was,” says Ben Shapiro, a good friend of Andrew’s and editor-in-chief of The Daily Wire.

Dana Loesch, nationally syndicated radio host and author who served as editor-in-chief of Big Journalism was equally as blunt. “He should have never been in this position in the first place. Bannon has turned that website into the Media Matters of the right,” Loesch said.

Former editor-in-chief of Breitbart TV sees Bannon as an obvious liability. Larry O’Connor, now a radio host in Washington, DC, told the Daily Caller, “It’s hard not to see how he’s a liability for the Brand for the company at this point. Not to mention the reputation of the investors.  He’s the face and voice and identifying figure that represents the website and you’ve got the president of the United States publicly humiliating and ridiculing him almost a daily now.”

“He’s a total piece of shit,” said another friend of Andrew’s who spoke on condition of anonymity.

[Read the full story here, at The Daily Caller]

Meredith Dake-O’Connor, one of the original editors at Breitbart video, was not happy with the choice of Bannon to succeed Andrew but tried to give him a chance. She quickly soured on him. “From the day that Bannon was announced I have been against his leadership at Breitbart.com. In reality, I tried to give him a chance right after Andrew’s death, but his treatment of people and his editorial vision is and always has been unacceptable,” she told the Daily Caller.

I’ve only known Steve socially, I’ve never worked with him – and socially he was perfectly fine – but several former Breitbart employees, many of whom are friends of mine, have painted a picture of abuse, bullying and threats that completely changed both the tone and direction of the company once he took over.

Make no mistake, Andrew Breitbart was a partisan; he was upfront about it, proud of it. But the work was not about pushing any person or party.

“It’s impossible to say how the site would have evolved under Andrew’s leadership,” Dake-O’Connor said. “In my observation, Andrew was far less interested in Washington tick-tock than Steve’s editorial vision. Andrew despised the incestuous relationship that media organizations had with politicians. Steve recreated that incestuous relationship but on the other side of the aisle. I cannot imagine Andrew doing the same thing.” Read the rest of this entry »


Iran’s Theocracy Is on the Brink 

Every decade the Islamist regime has been in power, an uprising has cost it an element of its legitimacy.

Mark Dubowitz and Ray Takeyh report: Iran has a peculiar habit of surprising Americans. It has done so again with the protests engulfing its major cities. The demonstrations began over economic grievances and quickly transformed into a rejection of theocracy.

“As with the Soviet Union in its last days, the Islamic Republic can no longer appeal to its ideals; it relies only on its security services for survival.”

The slogans must have unsettled the mullahs: “Death to Khamenei!” “Death to Rouhani!” “We will die to get our Iran back!” Imperialism has not revived the regime’s legitimacy, as the protesting Persians pointedly reject expending their meager resources on Arab wars: “Death to Hezbollah!” “No to Gaza, not Lebanon! Our life only for Iran!”

A protester at the University of Tehran, Dec. 30. Photo: STR/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

A protester at the University of Tehran, Dec. 30. Photo: STR/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

However the events on the streets unfold, their most immediate casualty will be the presidency of Hassan Rouhani and its false claim of pragmatic governance. In the aftermath of the Green Revolution of 2009, which rocked the foundations of the Islamic Republic, a sinister argument gradually pervaded Western salons and chancelleries. The convulsions of that summer, the claim went, were over no more than electoral irregularity. With the election of the so-called moderate Mr. Rouhani in 2013, the system rebalanced itself. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and his allies supposedly learned some hard lessons on the need to yield to popular mandates. Iranians want gradual change, we have been told, and believe that the system’s own constitutional provisions and plebiscites can be used to nudge it toward moderation.

Then, last week, Iranians took to the streets.

Every decade of the Islamist regime’s rule has seen one of its political factions lose its legitimacy through national uprisings. In the 1980s, the Islamic Republic waged a determined civil war against liberals and secularists who sought to redeem the revolution’s pledge of a democratic order. The student riots of 1999 ended the reformist interlude and Mohammad Khatami’s presidency, which had promised that the expansion of civil society and elections would harmonize faith and freedom. The reformists lingered as discredited enablers of a repressive regime, but no one believed in their promises of change from within. The hard-liners offered their own national compact, one that privileged economic justice over political emancipation. But the tumultuous presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad produced only corruption and bellicosity.

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

Then came Mr. Rouhani and his centrist disciples with their pledge to revive the economy, primarily through foreign investment. Mr. Rouhani needed a nuclear agreement to lift debilitating sanctions and stimulate commerce. The Obama administration was happy to deliver, and Iran received tens of billions of dollars in financial dividends, including $1.7 billion in paper currency. Read the rest of this entry »