Friday, June 23, 2017

The Administrative State Has Been Gutting Much of the Bill of Rights for Over a Century

What’s the greatest threat to liberty in America?
asks John Tierney in the Wall Street Journal.
Liberals rail at Donald Trump’s executive orders on immigration and his hostility toward the press, while conservatives vow to reverse Barack Obama’s regulatory assault on religion, education and business. Philip Hamburger says both sides are thinking too small.

Like the blind men in the fable who try to describe an elephant by feeling different parts of its body, they’re not perceiving the whole problem: the enormous rogue beast known as the administrative state.

Sometimes called the regulatory state or the deep state, it is a government within the government, run by the president and the dozens of federal agencies that assume powers once claimed only by kings. In place of royal decrees, they issue rules and send out “guidance” letters like the one from an Education Department official in 2011 that stripped college students of due process when accused of sexual misconduct.

Unelected bureaucrats not only write their own laws, they also interpret these laws and enforce them in their own courts with their own judges. All this is in blatant violation of the Constitution, says Mr. Hamburger, 60, a constitutional scholar and winner of the Manhattan Institute’s Hayek Prize last year for his scholarly 2014 book, “Is Administrative Law Unlawful?” (Spoiler alert: Yes.)

“Essentially, much of the Bill of Rights has been gutted,” he says, sitting in his office at Columbia Law School. “The government can choose to proceed against you in a trial in court with constitutional processes, or it can use an administrative proceeding where you don’t have the right to be heard by a real judge or a jury and you don’t have the full due process of law. Our fundamental procedural freedoms, which once were guarantees, have become mere options.” ​

In volume and complexity, the edicts from federal agencies exceed the laws passed by Congress by orders of magnitude. “The administrative state has become the government’s predominant mode of contact with citizens,” Mr. Hamburger says. “Ultimately this is not about the politics of left or right. Unlawful government power should worry everybody.”

Defenders of agencies like the Securities and Exchange Commission or the Environmental Protection Agency often describe them as the only practical way to regulate today’s complex world. The Founding Fathers, they argue, could not have imagined the challenges that face a large and technologically advanced society, so Congress and the judiciary have wisely delegated their duties by giving new powers to experts in executive-branch agencies.

Mr. Hamburger doesn’t buy it. In his view, not only is such delegation unconstitutional, it’s nothing new. The founders, far from being naive about the need for expert guidance, limited executive powers precisely because of the abuses of 17th-century kings like James I.

James, who reigned in England from 1603 through 1625, claimed that divinely granted “absolute power” authorized him to suspend laws enacted by Parliament or dispense with them for any favored person. Mr. Hamburger likens this royal “dispensing” power to modern agency “waivers,” like the ones from the Obama administration exempting McDonald’s and other corporations from complying with provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

James also made his own laws, bypassing Parliament and the courts by issuing proclamations and using his “royal prerogative” to establish commissions and tribunals. He exploited the infamous Star Chamber, a court that got its name from the gilded stars on its ceiling.

“The Hollywood version of the Star Chamber is a torture chamber where the walls were speckled with blood,” Mr. Hamburger says. “But torture was a very minor part of its business. It was very bureaucratic. Like modern administrative agencies, it commissioned expert reports, issued decrees and enforced them. It had regulations controlling the press, and it issued rules for urban development, environmental matters and various industries.”

James’s claims were rebuffed by England’s chief justice, Edward Coke, who in 1610 declared that the king “by his proclamation cannot create any offense which was not an offense before.” The king eventually dismissed Coke, and expansive royal powers continued to be exercised by James and his successor, Charles I. The angry backlash ultimately prompted Parliament to abolish the Star Chamber and helped provoke a civil war that ended with the beheading of Charles in 1649.

A subsequent king, James II, took the throne in 1685 and tried to reassert the prerogative power. But he was dethroned in the Glorious Revolution in 1688, which was followed by Parliament’s adoption of a bill of rights limiting the monarch and reasserting the primacy of Parliament and the courts. That history inspired the American Constitution’s limits on the executive branch, which James Madison explained as a protection against “the danger to liberty from the overgrown and all-grasping prerogative of an hereditary magistrate.”

“The framers of the Constitution were very clear about this,” Mr. Hamburger says, rummaging in a drawer for a pocket edition. He opens to the first page, featuring the Preamble and Article 1, which begins: “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress.”

“That first word is crucial,” he says. “The very first substantive word of the Constitution is ‘all.’ That makes it an exclusive vesting of the legislative powers in an elected legislature. Congress cannot delegate the legislative powers to an agency, just as judges cannot delegate their power to an agency.”

Those restrictions on executive power have been disappearing since the late 19th century, starting with the creation of the Interstate Commerce Commission in 1887. Centralized power appealed to big business—railroads found commissioners easier to manipulate than legislators—as well as to American intellectuals who’d studied public policy at German universities. Unlike Britain, Germany had rejected constitutional restraints in favor of a Prussian model that gave administrative agencies the prerogative powers of the king.

Mr. Hamburger believes it’s no coincidence that the growth of America’s administrative state coincided with the addition to the electorate of Catholic immigrants, blacks and other minorities. WASP progressives like Woodrow Wilson considered these groups an obstacle to reform.

“The bulk of mankind is rigidly unphilosophical, and nowadays the bulk of mankind votes,” Wilson complained, noting in particular the difficulty of winning over the minds “of Irishmen, of Germans, of Negroes.” His solution was to push his agenda using federal agencies staffed by experts of his own caste—what Mr. Hamburger calls the “knowledge class.” Wilson was the only president ever to hold a doctorate.

“There’s been something of a bait and switch,” Mr. Hamburger says. “We talk about the importance of expanding voting rights, but behind the scenes there’s been a transfer of power from voters to members of the knowledge class. A large part of the knowledge class, Republicans as well as Democrats, went out of their way to make the administrative state work.”

Mr. Hamburger was born into the knowledge class. He grew up in a book-filled house near New Haven, Conn. His father was a Yale law professor and his mother a researcher in economics and intellectual history. During his father’s sabbaticals in London, Philip acquired a passion for 17th-century English history and spent long hours studying manuscripts at the British Museum. That’s where he learned about the royal prerogative.

He went to Princeton and then Yale Law School, where he avoided courses on administrative law, which struck him as “tedious beyond belief.” He became slightly more interested during a stint as a corporate lawyer specializing in taxes—he could see the sweeping powers wielded by the Internal Revenue Service—but the topic didn’t engage him until midway through his academic career.

While at the University of Chicago, he heard of a colleague’s inability to publish a research paper because the study had not been approved ahead of time by a federally mandated institutional review board. That sounded like an unconstitutional suppression of free speech, and it reminded Mr. Hamburger of those manuscripts at the British Museum.

Why the return of the royal prerogative? “The answer rests ultimately on human nature,” Mr. Hamburger writes in “The Administrative Threat,” a new short book aimed at a general readership. “Ever tempted to exert more power with less effort, rulers are rarely content to govern merely through the law.”

Instead, presidents govern by interpreting statutes in ways lawmakers never imagined. Barack Obama openly boasted of his intention to bypass Congress: “I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone.” Unable to persuade a Congress controlled by his own party to regulate carbon dioxide, Mr. Obama did it himself in 2009 by having the EPA declare it a pollutant covered by a decades-old law. (In 2007 the Supreme Court had affirmed the EPA’s authority to do so.)

Similarly, the Title IX legislation passed in 1972 was intended mainly to protect women in higher education from employment discrimination. Under Mr. Obama, Education Department bureaucrats used it to issue orders about bathrooms for transgender students at public schools and to mandate campus tribunals to adjudicate sexual misconduct—including “verbal misconduct,” or speech—that are in many ways less fair to the accused than the Star Chamber.

At this point, the idea of restraining the executive branch may seem quixotic, but Mr. Hamburger says there are practical ways to do so. One would be to make government officials financially accountable for their excesses, as they were in the 18th and 19th centuries, when they could be sued individually for damages. Today they’re protected thanks to “qualified immunity,” a doctrine Mr. Hamburger thinks should be narrowed.

“One does have to worry about frivolous lawsuits against government officers who have to make quick decisions in the field, like police officers,” he says. “But someone sitting behind a desk at the EPA or the SEC has plenty of time to consult lawyers before acting. There’s no reason to give them qualified immunity. They’ll be more careful not to exceed their constitutional authority if they have to weigh the risk of losing their own money.”

Another way of restraining agencies—one President Trump could adopt on his own—would be to require them to submit new rules to Congress for approval instead of imposing them by fiat. The president could also order at least some agencies to resolve disputes in regular courts instead of using administrative judges, who are departmental employees. Meanwhile, Congress could reclaim its legislative power by going through regulations, agency by agency, and deciding which ones to enact into law.

Mr. Hamburger’s chief hope for reform lies in the courts, which in earlier eras rebuffed the executive branch’s power grabs. Those rulings so frustrated both Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt that they threatened retaliation—such as FDR’s plan to pack the Supreme Court by expanding its size. Eventually judges surrendered and validated sweeping executive powers. Mr. Hamburger calls it “one of the most shameful episodes in the history of the federal judiciary.”

The Supreme Court capitulated further in decisions like Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council (1984), which requires judges to defer to any “reasonable interpretation” of an ambiguous statute by a federal agency. “Chevron deference should be called Chevron bias,” Mr. Hamburger says. “It requires judges to abandon due process and independent judgment. The courts have corrupted their processes by saying that when the government is a party in case, they will be systematically biased—they will favor the more powerful party.”

Mr. Hamburger sees a good chance that the high court will limit and eventually abandon the Chevron doctrine, and he expects other litigation giving the judiciary a chance to reassert its powers and protect constitutional rights. “Slowly, step by step, we can persuade judges to recognize the risks of what they’ve done so far and to grapple with this very dangerous type of power,” he says. The judiciary, like academia, has many liberals who have been sympathetic to the growth of executive power, but their perspective may be changing.

“Administrative power is like off-road driving,” Mr. Hamburger continues. “It’s exhilarating to operate off-road when you’re in the driver’s seat, but it’s a little unnerving for everyone else.”
He says he observed this effect during a recent conversation with a prominent legal scholar. The colleague, a longtime defender of administrative law, was discussing the topic shortly after Mr. Trump’s inauguration.

The colleague told Mr. Hamburger: “I am beginning to see the merit of your ideas.”

Monday, June 19, 2017

Just like in the 1850s and 1860s, the Democratic Party Embraces Political Violence in Response to the Election of a Republican President


If we follow the course we are on, we will see more unhappiness, more violence, more repressive national-security policies, less prosperity, less freedom, and less of anything that looks like the quite-good-enough America we already have.
"The American Left has embraced political violence" writes Kevin Williamson of what he calls "the modern answer to the beer-hall brawlers of the 1930s" while George Rasley wonders if the Left just started the Civil War that it has been threatening:
Democrats and their liberal allies in the media seem surprised that James T. Hodgkinson acted upon their calls for “resistance” and “taking it to the streets” by mounting an armed attack on a group of Republican elected officials.

They shouldn't be, because as our friend “Tyler Durden” of Zero Hedge documented back in March, senior Democratic leaders have not been bashful about encouraging the violence.

… However, it is not politicians who are the most violent and most influential advocates of violence.

It is a very short – and logical – hop from organized Leftists rioting and assaulting Donald Trump supporters in Chicago, to a Far Left university professor beating Trump supporters with a bike lock at Berkeley, to a Far Left activist shooting up the Republican congressional baseball practice.
CHQ's George Rasley goes on to present a short list of some of the more – and prescient – statements from Leftist advocates of violent resistance to President Trump and the Republican agenda, compiled by Nick Short of the Center for Security Policy.
James T. Hodgkinson wasn’t a “nut.” He wasn’t “deranged.” And he wasn’t “sick.” He was a Leftist terrorist, just like Obama’s buddy Bill Ayres of the Weather Underground and Puerto Rican terrorist Oscar Lopez-Rivera, who was recently honored as a hero by New York's Democratic Mayor Bill DeBlasio.

Hodgkinson’s attack wasn’t mental illness. Read his writings, read the political manifesto in his letters to the editor and it doesn’t require an FBI investigation to recognize that this was the first “lone wolf” attack in the Left’s long-planned American civil war.
Back to NRO's Kevin Williamson:
“The old is better” may be a convenient caricature of conservative thinking, but it is not one without some basis. “To be conservative,” Michael Oakeshott wrote, “is to prefer the familiar to the unknown, to prefer the tried to the untried, fact to mystery, the actual to the possible, the limited to the unbounded, the near to the distant, the sufficient to the superabundant, the convenient to the perfect, present laughter to utopian bliss.”
 … This is not a “both sides do it” issue: Paul Krugman can speak on any college campus in this country without enduring mob violence and organized terrorism — Charles Murray cannot. There is not anything on the right like the mass terrorism behind the Seattle riots of 1999 or the black-bloc riots of the day before yesterday. The Democratic party, progressive organizations, and college administrations have some serious political and intellectual housekeeping to do here — but, instead, they are in the main refusing to acknowledge that they have a problem. The line between “Punch a Nazi!” and “Assassinate a Republican congressman!” is morally perforated.
In another post, the NRO writer adds that
we have powerful political figures working to criminalize dissent. The same people who have spent the past 30 years cooking up ever-battier campus speech codes want to do the same thing for society at large in the form of so-called hate-speech regulation. 

They do this partly because they intend to win and to rule. They also do it because they have convinced themselves that we are in a state of national crisis, and that the dark shadow of fascism in descending on the United States. In reality, the only thing resembling a genuine totalitarian movement in American politics is the progressive camp from which emerged the man who shot Steve Scalise. 
Once you’ve accepted political violence as a legitimate tool in the context of American democracy — once you have concluded that the decision to use violence is only a matter of strategy, as Slavoj Žižek insists — then progress from pepper spray and bicycle locks to rifles and bombs is neither very long nor very difficult to anticipate.
Related, the 1850s and the 1860s:

Wondering Why Slavery Persisted for Almost 75 Years After the Founding of the USA? According to Lincoln, the Democrat Party's "Principled" Opposition to "Hate Speech".

What Caused Secession and Ergo the Civil War? Was It Slavery and/or States' Rights? Or Wasn't It Rather Something Else — the Election of a Ghastly Republican to the White House?

Sunday, June 18, 2017

French President Prepared His Meeting with Trump by Watching Videos of the American's Handshake "Like a Boxer Analyzing the Fights of a Future Opponent"


Today, France is voting for the second and final round in the legislative elections, in which the French President's La République En Marche (LRM) is expected to win handsomely.

Voici's Karine Hernandez explains that prior to his meeting with Donald Trump, Emmanuel Macron prepared himself extensively for the American's famous handshake.

Referring to Donald Trump as "the American (and the orange) president", allegedly in a fit of neutral impartiality (sic), the Voici journalist writes that
One of the most striking moments of this meeting is — and will forever remain — the now famous handshake exchanged by Emmanuel Macron and US (and orange) President Donald Trump.

A real contest of manhood with clenched jaws, frozen grins, third-degree looks, and crushed hands that made the tour of the world. Donald Trump, known for his abrupt and unreasoned bickering, uses these formal moments imposed in official meetings to show his interlocutors and the international media that he is the boss.

Except that it did not happen that way with Emmanuel Macron, who had seen the blow coming and prepared himself. According to a close friend of the president quoted by Le Monde: "Macron had watched beforehand videos of all Trump's handshakes." Like a boxer analyzing the fights of his future opponent to break through his techniques and weak points, the tenant of the Ely­sée Palace had therefore watched a retrospective of Donald clamping clamps.

Which led him to declare to the JDD afterwards that this "handshake with [Trump], it is not innocent, it is not the alpha and the omega of a policy but a moment of truth. We must show that we will not make concessions, even symbolic ones." And it's always more chic than checking who can pee the furthest... 

Voici's Karine Hernandez:
L’un des moments les plus marquants de ce meeting est – et restera à jamais – la désor­mais célèbre poignée de mains qu’ont échan­gée Emma­nuel Macron et le président améri­cain (et orange) Donald Trump.

Un vrai concours de viri­lité avec mâchoires cris­pées, rictus figés, regards troi­sième degré et mains broyées qui a fait le tour du monde. Connu pour ses empoi­gnades aussi brusques qu’ir­rai­son­nées, Donald Trump se sert de ces moments proto­co­laires impo­sés des rencontres offi­cielles pour montrer à ses inter­lo­cu­teurs et aux médias inter­na­tio­naux que c’est lui le patron.

Sauf que ça ne s’est pas passé comme ça avec Emma­nuel Macron qui avait vu le coup venir et s’y était préparé. Selon un proche du président cité par Le Monde : « Macron avait regardé avant des vidéos de toutes les poignées de mains de Trump. » Tel un boxeur qui aurait analysé les combats de son futur oppo­sant pour percer ses tech­niques et ses points faibles, le loca­taire de l’Ely­sée s’était donc tapé une petite rétros­pec­tive de Donald serrant des pinces.

De quoi lui faire dire au JDD après coup, qu’ef­fec­ti­ve­ment, cette « poignée de main avec [Trump], ce n’est pas inno­cent, ce n’est pas l’al­pha et l’omega d’une poli­tique mais un moment de vérité. Il faut montrer qu’on ne fera pas de conces­sions, même symbo­liques. » Et puis c’est toujours plus chic que de véri­fier qui fait pipi le plus loin…

Friday, June 16, 2017

The (Medicine) Science Is Settled?! Some Gospel Treatments of Only 20 Years Ago Have Undergone Complete Reversals and/or Been Entirely Dropped

When, not too many years ago, I took a first aid crash course, I was astonished to learn that something once as central as mouth-to-mouth resuscitation had been entirely dropped from the first aid "kit" (I know, if I were a teenage boy — and girl — I would be using the word "disappointed" with winking smileys galore).

Dropped in favor of heart massage. (To the tune of, I am not making this up, Stayin' Alive…)

What does this teach us, if not that — and sometimes in the most astonishing ways — the science is never settled?

Take something requiring a far more professional intervention: as far as gunshot victims are concerned, the New York Times's Gina Kolata explains that today a patient
may undergo two to 10 operations, said Dr. Jeremy Cannon, a trauma surgeon at the University of Pennsylvania, and may remain in the hospital anywhere from days to several months.

Still, the are far better than in the old days, before the early 1990s, when surgeons tried to do all the repairs at once, operating for hours at a time.

In a study that changed medical practice, surgeons found that trauma patients with the most severe abdominal injuries who received one long operation had just a 15 percent survival rate. But those with the same sort of injuries who got multiple operations to repair the damage had a survival rate of 77 percent.

The lesson for surgeons is that long operations can be fatal to trauma patients. “The body can only take so much,” said Dr. Thomas Scalea, a trauma surgeon at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Surgeons now employ the multistage approach.

These days trauma patients who do not bleed to death right away usually recover, said Dr. Sean Montgomery, a trauma surgeon at Duke University.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Emmanuel Macron Is the Subject of Rachel Marsden's Radio Show with Karim Ouchikh and Paul Reen

Chez Sputnik News, Rachel Marsden analyse les premiers pas du nouveau Président de la République française avec Karim Ouchikh, président du SIEL et Paul Reen, vice-président des Républicains (USA) en France.
Pour le représentant des Républicains en France, Paul Reen, Emmanuel Macron suscite un espoir et les réformes qu'il a pu entreprendre vont dans le bon sens:
« La réforme sur le droit du travail, avec de la dérégulation, avec des politiques plus favorables aux entreprises pour rendre plus facile l'embauche, surtout les jeunes, la réduction des impôts. »

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Besieged by the tolerance bullies: If we’re ever to roll back this insanity we’re going to have to show some solidarity with the victims of homofascism and transfascism


Fifteen year-old Andraya Yearwood is fast 
notes Benny Huang
really fast. This high school track star is so fast that he recently claimed the titles for the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes at the Connecticut state championship.

The secret to his success? He’s a boy who competes against girls. That’s it. This kid “identities” as a girl and no one is willing to say that he’s not. He runs against girls and beats them every time which is quite fortuitous considering the fact that he would have placed last in the Connecticut state championships if he had been competing against other boys.

Andraya is not slight or effeminate. Anraya is not undergoing hormone “therapy” and he has not had his member lopped off—not that any of those things would render him female. He’s endowed with the physique of a dude and he’s even got a mustache—albeit a cheesy high school mustache but a mustache all the same. Andraya will likely return to the state championships for the next three years and he will no doubt be significantly stronger and faster than he is now which is already stronger and faster than the girls he’s competing against. They don’t have a chance.

“It feels really good,” he said. ”I’m really happy to win both titles. I kind of expected it. I’ve always gotten first, so I expected it to some extent… I’m really proud of it.”

Yeah, he’s really proud that he left a bunch of girls in his dust. It’s no wonder he’s so proud—the media is predictably heralding this fraud for his “courage.”

What’s perhaps most interesting about this story is the reaction of the second place runner, Kate Hall, who is a devoted student athlete from Stonington, Connecticut. As far as I’m concerned she was the real winner of the 100-meter race and she has legitimate grounds to complain about being robbed of that victory. Yet she refuses to air her gripes publicly. Said Ms. Hall to the Hartford Courant:
“It’s frustrating. But that’s just the way it is now … I can’t really say what I want to say, but there’s not much I can do about it. You can’t blame anyone.”
She can’t say what she wants to say? She can’t blame anyone? Why not? Who’s going to stop her?

I think we all know the answer to that. Transgenderism is the newest frontier in “civil rights,” the long awaited “T” in that LGBT acronym everyone’s been using for about fifteen years. Every inch of progress that this movement has made has been gained through intimidation. First, they soak dissidents with shame, then they make them feel isolated, then they bombard them with dispiriting propaganda. Their opponents are left believing that they can do nothing to stop this movement’s inevitable forward motion. They learn to keep their heads down and their mouths shut. Nearly everyone sees that this is utter madness but no one will stand up and declare that the emperor has no clothes.

Kristen Quintrall Lavin is a fairly good example of this. She’s the resident blogger at “The Get Real Mom”, a blog about motherhood. This liberal, 30-something, West Coast mother prides herself on being tolerant which might explain why she began her post about a man she encountered in the ladies room at Disneyland by assuring her readers that she’s not one of those “homophobic mothers lashing out at Disney.” Transgender people don’t bother her at all, you see.

Except when they’re in the bathroom with and her and her young son and when they don’t look sufficiently feminine. The particular man who wandered into the ladies room that day caused Ms. Lavin alarm because he made no effort to adopt feminine accouterments; ergo, he must not have been truly transgender. “Ok there is definitely a very large, burly man in a Lakers jersey who just walked in here. Am I the only one seeing this?” she thought.
 
 Actually, she wasn’t the only one who noticed the man and she wasn’t the only one who was distressed. But no one made a peep. She wrote: “We were all trading looks and motioning our eyes over to him…like ‘What is he doing in here?’ Yet every single one of us was silent. And this is the reason I wrote this blog [post]. If this had been 5 years ago, you bet your ass every woman in there would’ve been like, ‘Ummm what are you doing in here?’, but in 2017? The mood has shifted. We had been culturally bullied into silence. …” …

How satisfying it is to hear about a liberal getting a small taste of her own bitter medicine. Now she knows what it feels like to be “culturally bullied into silence,” something that I experience on a near daily basis. It seems obvious that this incident at Disneyland was the first time she had ever been on the receiving end of this kind of silencing tactic and she clearly didn’t like it.

But her writing also makes clear that she’s accustomed to using the same tactic against others. The lengthy disclaimer at the front end of her blog post tells me that she still thinks it’s appropriate to label and shun actual “homophobes” and “transphobes.”

 … Still, it’s difficult to imagine this woman’s predicament without sympathizing with her just a little bit. She makes a very good point—that our culture has changed so rapidly in recent years that women are now left feeling helpless when burly men enter their private spaces. The women feel as if they have no backup because, let’s face it, they don’t. Everyone’s been cowed into submission, including Disney and probably including their husbands. Years ago that man in the Lakers jersey would have been knocked upside the head with a dozen or so heavy purses but these days that’s a “transphobic” “hate crime.” Literally. If a woman tried that today she would probably spend years in jail and have her face plastered all over MSNBC.

If we’re ever to roll back this insanity we’re going to have to show some solidarity with the victims of homofascism and transfascism, which are so inexorably linked that they cannot be separated. We’re going to have to let people like Kristen Quintrall Lavin and Kate Hall know that they are not alone. It would make all the difference in the world if they knew that they wouldn’t be left to twist in the wind when the bullies attack. People can’t be “culturally bullied into silence” when their community has their back.

Consider for a moment how the Connecticut state track championship might have played out differently if Kate Hall had known that she had the support of her coach and her parents. I think she might have told that reporter the truth—that an ineligible boy had stolen what was rightfully hers. But that would mean that her parents and her coach would have to have some courage too, which they clearly don’t. In their defense, it’s probably more difficult for them to speak up because they have jobs and can be fired. Going after people’s livelihoods is a favorite tactic of the homofascist Left. So her parents and her coach would need to know that they too would have the support of the community, particularly their employers, if they were besieged by the tolerance bullies. And on and on it goes, moving outward in concentric circles of mutual support away from the person who needs it most.

But we don’t do that for each other. When someone says that a boy is a boy is a boy, no matter how that boys feels about it, that person is almost guaranteed to get pummeled. Too often we turn our backs on that person lest we get pummeled too. Our silence enables them. And that is why the bullies always win.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Bereaved Remainers who daydream that the decision to leave the EU might one day be reversed are delusional


Responding to a Bagehot column in The Economist, Robin Aitkin writes from Oxford that
Wistful daydreaming that the decision to leave the EU might one day be reversed might bring some comfort to bereaved Remainers. They are delusional. Ask this question: if Britain had never joined the EU would we now vote to do so? Looking at the wasteful, sclerotic and undemocratic grouping that it has become, only a Euro-enthusiast of the deepest hue could think that we would.

It is worth remembering that when Britain joined in the 1970s the country’s fortunes were at their lowest ebb. National morale was at rock-bottom and there were serious people who questioned whether Britain

Britain was actually governable, such was the dysfunctional nature of industrial relations. Across the Channel the EEC offered a vision of a better world with Germany still in the Wirtschaftswunder era and France enjoying les trente glorieuses. Britain’s decision to join the EU was akin to that of a drowning man who decides to grab a lifebelt. Today the situation is very different: the European economic model is no longer one that Britain envies and it is Britain which is the magnet for energetic migrants.

Reversing Brexit is now the longest of long shots. But if it is ever to be achieved Tony Blair, a discredited political huckster, is the very last man the public would turn to. Europhiles must find a new face to lead them to the promised land.
Ted Stroll, meanwhile, writes from San Jose, California, that
There is a simple solution to the Brexit conundrum, one that will allow Britain to have its trade cake and eat it too [Special report on the future of the European Union, March 25th]: the UK need only become the 11th province of Canada. Canada and the EU recently concluded a trade agreement and the UK would accede to it as a Canadian province. It would also join NAFTA and enjoy liberal trade terms with the United States.

Adjustments would be few and easy. Canada’s provinces have wide powers and by treaty the UK’s could be even broader. The queen would remain head of state. As a provincial flag, the Union flag would still be flown, with the Canadian flag a discreet presence on government buildings. As Hong Kong and Macau kept the dollar and pataca, so Britain could keep the pound. English would be an official language (though so would French). Such a move wouldn’t be unprecedented. Newfoundland left the UK and joined Canada in 1949. Time to think outside the box.
It did take a few moments before I got the gist of Tom Murphy's comment from Montivilliers, France:
Ted Stroll suggested that Britain should become a new province of Canada after Brexit (Letters, April 6th). There are additional benefits to doing this. Britain would have access both to the boat-building technology of the Inuits and to the oil sands in Alberta. In this way it could have its kayak and heat it.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

2 Dystopian Views: Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us; Huxley, on the other hand, warned of an onslaught of news, real or fabricated, that reduced its consumers to passivity and egotism


Responding to an article in The Economist on Newspapers and television, Joseph Ting writes from Australia that
Regarding “The Trump bump” enjoyed by America’s media (February 18th), Neil Postman, in “Amusing Ourselves to Death”, envisaged this dangerously fractured moment in modern history. George Orwell was afraid of overseers depriving us of information. Aldous Huxley, on the other hand, warned of an onslaught of news, real or fabricated, that reduced its consumers to passivity and egotism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley contended that when truth is drowned in a sea of irrelevance, we would become a trivial culture.

Both dystopian views have proven presciently true. Real facts are submerged into the swamp bottom of lies and manipulation (Orwellian) by the sea tides of their manufactured alternative cousins. But the media, both print and social, need to take care that this moment-by-moment accounting doesn’t drown us in its thought-extinguishing momentum (Huxleyan).

Friday, June 02, 2017

Wonder Woman: Is The Civil Rights Act of 1964 an affront to sovereignty, privacy, dignity, and property rights? And does it exist primarily to keep an army of litigators employed?


In a nod toward female empowerment the Alamo Drafthouse chain of movie theaters plans to offer several screenings of the soon-to-debut Wonder Woman film to female customers only
reports Benny Huang on the Constitution website.
The company has released a statement saying:
“Apologies, gentlemen, but we’re embracing our girl power and saying ‘No Guys Allowed’ for several special shows…”
This is blatantly illegal.

Not that it should be. Alamo Drafthouse is a private company and should be free to discriminate till the cows come home. The women-only screenings nonetheless violate state and local law in multiple localities. An Alamo cinema in Brooklyn, for example, will be in violation of New York State law which declares it to be
“an unlawful discriminatory practice for any person, being the owner, lessee, proprietor, manager, superintendent, agent or employee of any place of public accommodation, resort or amusement, because of…sex…directly or indirectly, to refuse, withhold from or deny to such person any of the accommodations, advantages, facilities or privileges thereof…” 
Similar laws can be found in other cities and states where Alamo Drafthouse is holding its flagrantly illegal screenings.

The reason Alamo Drafthouse is getting away with illegal sex discrimination is because the word “sex” in nondiscrimination laws has morphed before our eyes. Some government entities are now interpreting “sex” to mean “sexual orientation” which is almost always a code word for sexual conduct. It’s also being interpreted to mean “gender identity” or “gender expression.” What this means in practice is that laws that were intended to protect women are now being interpreted to protect men who have sex with men as well as men who think they’re women. The only thing that “sex” apparently doesn’t mean these days is its actual dictionary definition. Consequently, businesses now feel free to discriminate on the basis of sex and no one does anything about it…as long as it’s only men who are being discriminated against, of course.

Isn’t it about time to admit that private sector nondiscrimination are ridiculous? I think so but I’m apparently in the minority on this issue. Almost everyone claims to revere these laws, even conservatives. Most righties support them laws in principle but resent their arbitrary enforcement—and rightfully so. Alamo Drafthouse is proof that the government discriminates in its application of nondiscrimination laws. A law that clearly and unambiguously prohibits discrimination based on sex is only invoked to protect one sex. What’s equal about that?

Nonetheless, a broad consensus exists that private sector nondiscrimination laws are both righteous and necessary. We Americans love them so much that we’ve enacted them by the boatload and created almost as many enforcement agencies to back them up. If a person is refused service he may be able to file simultaneous complaints with the city, county, state, and federal governments. This legal barrage often results in the business owner’s unconditional surrender even if he wasn’t harboring an illegal thought when he decided not to do business with this person. Capitulation is just easier.

Even among conservatives I find myself swimming against the tide on this issue. I’ve tried in vain to explain to my fellow conservatives that they shouldn’t brag about more Republicans than Democrats voting for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It’s true but it’s also a horrible black mark on the party’s record. A few Republicans understood what a monstrosity this law would become and opposed the statist (and racist!) Lyndon Johnson in his efforts to pass the bill. Their names were Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan—perhaps you’ve heard of them?

Politicians certainly don’t speak out against the Civil Rights Act, even conservatives and so-called libertarians like former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson. It’s political suicide. I know of only one elected official currently holding office who has ever criticized it—Rand Paul—and he quickly walked it back.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964, like all private sector nondiscrimination laws, is big government at its worst. It appears to exist primarily to keep an army of litigators employed. It is selectively enforced against disfavored groups and it is often warped with new “interpretations” that are at odds with its text and original intent. It is an affront to sovereignty, privacy, dignity, and property rights. It’s a crap sandwich that the whole country has been choking on for more than fifty years. It needs to be struck down as unconstitutional and we need to teach our children to be ashamed that it ever existed in the first place.

The Wonder Woman kerfuffle makes me wonder where all of the nondiscrimination hardliners have gone. Former Congressman Barney Frank, for example, ought to be the first to file a complaint with one of our many wasteful, redundant “civil rights” bureaucracies because he has zero patience for people who discriminate. Or at least that’s the position he pretended to hold during the debate over Indiana’s religious freedom law.

Barney Frank operates under the false impression that there’s some kind of law that requires businesses to serve everyone. Said Mr. Frank:
“When you open a business, you are being given a set of privileges and protections from the society to make some money and in return the obligation has always been under basic common law that you serve the general public, that anybody who behaves well can be served…” 
Actually, there is no such law and it would be unconstitutional even if there were. Businesses can decline any economic transaction whatsoever as long as they provide a proper government-approved justification. I think that “I don’t want to” should suffice but the law says that’s just not good enough.

It’s important to really hear what Frank is saying here. He’s not saying that there ought to be a law compelling businesses to serve everyone. What he’s saying is that such a law already exists and has existed since time immemorial. He’s trying to pass this off as some kind of great American tradition, as if forcing businesses to serve the general public without exception has been part of our social contract for generations. This is the big lie that surrounds and pervades the debate over private sector nondiscrimination laws. They want us to believe not only that business owners are bondage servants with no right to pick and choose which economic transactions they will engage in but also that it’s always been this way.

I have encountered Frank’s argument roughly a zillion times while debating private sector non-discrimination laws. The argument is that business owners, simply by going into business, have already agreed to “serve the public” which includes absolutely anyone walks in the door. In essence, that means that they have already waived any rights they may have under the Constitution to protect themselves from government coercion. Any business owner who later decides that he doesn’t want to do business with a particular customer or fulfill a particular order is somehow going back on his word and shirking his duty to the public. This is absurd. Business owners don’t make any such promise to “serve the public” nor should they be required to. They can serve those members of the public they want to serve—or at least that’s the way it should be. It’s a two way street; just as customers can choose which businesses to patronize, businesses should be able to choose which customers they will take on. That’s freedom—and it scares the living crap out of some people.

Another candidate for the Hypocrite of The Year award is opinion commentator and militant lesbian Sally Kohn. In 2015, she wrote a column in which she argued that maximum freedom comes through maximum government coercion. “Everyone deserves equal treatment, and businesses should be forced to serve everyone,” was the sub-header.

The gist of Kohn’s column is that nondiscrimination laws are eminently fair because they bind everyone just as they protect everyone. Anyone who doesn’t like these laws must be accustomed to discriminating without being discriminated against. They’re scared because they feel their privilege slipping away. She tries to pretend that she’s very consistent, pointing out she supports laws that work both ways. Yes, she believes that a devout Mormon couple should be forced to rent a hotel room to a radical lesbian feminist but she also thinks that the same law should apply in the reverse scenario. Kohn writes: “The point is that businesses should serve everyone the same and not discriminate. Once upon a time it was lunch counters. Now it’s wedding cakes.” Yes, then it was movie theaters and Sally Kohn was AWOL. She didn’t force her morality on the movie theater owner the same way she would a devout Christian bakery owner because—let’s face it—her supposed consistency isn’t that consistent.

But mine is. Businesses shouldn’t have to serve anyone and they shouldn’t have to explain themselves to the government. I don’t care if it’s lunch counters, wedding cakes or movie theaters. Economic transactions should be made on a voluntary basis. Period.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Putin to French Newspaper: The Storm in Washington Is Based on Fantasy—"They would rather explain that the Democrats' policy was the correct one, but that an outsider deceived the American people"

After his meeting with Emmanuel Macron in Versailles, Vladimir Putin gave an an exclusive interview to Le Figaro's Alexis Brézet and Renaud Girard (video) from a classroom of the Russian cultural center in Paris (translated from the French translation of the remarks in Russian).

Excerpts related to the accusations of the Kremlin's interference in the 2016 election:
Suspicions of Russian interference in the US election campaign have triggered a political storm in Washington. In France, similar suspicions have been expressed. What's your reaction? 

The Western press talks about Russian hackers. But where does the idea come from? When President Trump mentioned the situation, he said things that are quite right. Maybe it did not come from Russia, maybe there was someone who inserted a USB stick under the name of a Russian citizen. In this virtual world, today, anything can be done. Russia has never hacked. We do not need it. No interest. What's the point ? I've talked to several American presidents, you know. Presidents come and go, but politics do not change. And do you know why ? Because the bureaucracy in America is very powerful. The person elected has his or her opinions, ideals, visions, but the day after the election, people with briefcases, in tie and suits with white shirts come to explain how to act as a good president. And changing something in this situation is very difficult. I say this without irony.

So, are you saying that this storm in Washington is based on nothing but a fantasy? 

Yes, on fantasy. On the desire of those who lost the elections to remedy their situation by accusing Russia of interference. They lost because the winner was closer to the people and had a better understanding of the voters' aspirations. It's hard to admit. One would rather explain and prove to others that the policy followed by the Democrats was the right one, but that someone from outside deceived the American people. That someone rigged the election. But this is not the case. They simply lost: one must know how to recognize one's defeat, and have the strength to do so. Once this is done, it will be simpler to work together. But today, we use the anti-Russian card in Washington, and this is detrimental to international relations. They could of course quarrel among themselves: who is the best? Who is the most intelligent? But hey, it will pass…
Related: If it weren’t for anonymous sources, it seems
that the media wouldn’t have any sources at all


Nixon and Watergate: What Do the MSM and History
Books Fail to Tell Us About the 1970s Scandal?


See also: a Donald Trump interview — on a different subject
("We’re going to make it 10%; Now it’s 35% … this would
be the biggest tax cut in the history of the country …
We want to keep it as simple as possible")
Média

La vidéo intégrale de l’entretien de Vladimir Poutine au Figaro

EXCLUSIVITÉ FIGARO LIVE - Après sa rencontre à Versailles avec Emmanuel Macron, Vladimir Poutine a accordé une interview exclusive à Alexis Brézet, directeur des rédactions du Figaro, et Renaud Girard, chroniqueur international au Figaro.

Les souçons d'immixtion russe dans la campagne électorale américaine ont déclenché une tempête politique à Washington. En France, des soupçons analogues ont été exprimés. Quelle est votre réaction ? [22:18]

La presse occidentale a parlé de hackers russes. mais sur quoi se base-t-elle ? Lorsque le président Trump en a parlé, il a dit des choses tout à fait correctes.  Peut-être que cela ne venait pas de Russie, mais que quelqu'un a inséré une clé USB avec le nom d'un citoyen russe. Dans ce monde virtuel, aujourdhui, on peut faire n'importe quoi. La Russie n'a hamais fait de hacking. Nous n'en avons pas besoin. Aucun intérêt. À quoi bon ? J'ai parlé avec plusieurs présidents américains, vous savez. Les présidents arrivent et repartent, mais la politique ne change pas. Et vous savez pourquoi ? Parce que la bureaucratie en Amérique est très puissante. La personne élue a son opinion, ses idéaux, sa vision des choses, mais le lendemain des élections, des personnes avec des attachés-cases, des costumes-cravates et des chemises blanches viennent expliquer comment il doit agir en bon président. Et changer quelque chose dans cette situation, c'est très difficile. Je le dis sans ironie.

Cette tempête à Washington serait donc fondée sur une fiction absolue ? [25:22]

Oui, sur de la fiction. Sur le désir de ceux qui ont perdu les élections de remédier à leur situation en accusant la Russie d'ingérence. Ils ont perdu car le vainqueur était plus proche du peuple et a mieux compris les aspirations des électeurs. C'est difficile de le reconnaître. On veut plutôt expliquer et prouver aux autres que la politique suivie par les démocrates était la bonne, mais que quelqu'un de l'extérieur a trompé le peuple américain. Que quelqu'un a truqué l'élection. Mais ce n'est pas le cas. Ils ont tout simplement perdu : il faut savoir reconnaître sa défaite, et en avoir la force. Une fois que ce sera fait, il sera plus simple de travailler ensemble. Mais aujourd'hui, on utilise à Washington la carte antirusse, et ça porte préjudice aux relations internationales. Ils pourraient bien sûr se quereller entre eux : qui est le meilleur ? Qui est le plus intelligent ? Mais bon, cela passera…
Update: Damien Sharkov reports on the Figaro interview for Newsweek, while Fox News and BBC News produced similar reports from St. Petersburg…
Putin deftly brushed off [NBC reporter Megyn Kelly's] questions about meetings that members of the Trump campaign – including then-Sen. Jeff Sessions – had with Russian diplomat Sergey Kislyak.
 
“So our ambassador met someone. That's his job. That's why we pay him,” Putin said, according to a translation. “So what? What's he supposed to do, hit up the bars?”
 
He described the focus on Kislyak's contacts as “catastrophic nonsense.”

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

France's Former Ambassador to Iraq Risks Prison Time on Charges of Tax Fraud and Forgery


A French diplomat and close adviser to the former president Nicolas Sarkozy has gone on trial after he was stopped trying to leave the country with a bag stuffed with banknotes
reports Kim Willshir in The Guardian, with Le Figaro's Anne Jouan adding that the prosecutor is asking for prison time for Monsieur Boillon.
Boris Boillon, who was known as “Sarko Boy”, appeared in a Paris court on Monday on charges of tax fraud and forgery following the discovery.

Boillon, who once appeared on the cover of a celebrity magazine with the headline “The James Bond of the diplomatic world”, was pulled over by customs officers at Gare du Nord in Paris in July 2013 before he boarded a train to Belgium, where he lives with his family near Brussels.

When Boillon opened the sports bag that he was carrying, police found €350,000 (£302,000) and $40,000 (£31,000) in cash wrapped in plastic bags and a plastic box. Boillon claimed he had been paid the money for consultancy work on a stadium construction in Iraq. As well as the fraud charges, he is accused of breaking strict limits on the transfer of cash within the European Union. The forgery charge relates to documents he allegedly presented justifying the cash.

Investigators say they have been unable to trace the source of the money. Boillon, who is facing four charges, could be fined up to €855,000 if found guilty of each and be ordered to serve up to five years in prison.
No Pasarán Boris Boillon has appeared on No Pasarán before, notably when he went on Canal+
to defend Muammar Gaddafi, saying: “He was a terrorist, he is no longer. We mustn’t fall into cliches. We’ve all made mistakes in life and we’ve all the right to be forgiven.”
One cannot refrain from wondering whether the Frenchman's travails aren't due, at least partly, to a political assassination à la François Fillon, in view of the fact that
Boris Boillon — an Arab-[speaker] who served as ambassador in Baghdad — voiced support for George W Bush during the Iraq War! That, of course, makes his sins all the more unforgivable
As Simon Piel and Joan Tilouine confirm in Le Monde,
En Irak, où il fut ambassadeur de 2009 à 2011, il s’était montré favorable à l’intervention américaine. Nommé à Tunis à la chute du régime du dictateur Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, le jeune diplomate n’avait pas hésité à afficher son corps sculpté sur le Web, uniquement vêtu d’un slip de bain, ou à poser en James Bond dans la presse locale. Son ton franc voire arrogant, mal perçu dans le milieu diplomatique, avait choqué une partie de l’opinion publique tunisienne.

Lorsqu’il reçut pour la première fois des journalistes tunisiens, qui l’interrogèrent sur le rôle de la France durant la révolution, Boris Boillon s’emporta, évoquant « des trucs à la con », des « questions débiles », avant de brutalement mettre un terme à l’entretien filmé et diffusé sur les réseaux sociaux. Une attitude qui poussa des centaines de Tunisiens indignés à se réunir devant l’ambassade de France, trois jours plus tard, en scandant « Boillon dégage ». Contacté par Le Monde, M. Boillon n’a pas donné suite à nos demandes d’entretien.

Monday, May 29, 2017

If it weren’t for anonymous sources, it seems that the media wouldn’t have any sources at all


If it weren’t for anonymous sources,
deadpans Benny Huang on the Constitution website, in an homage to a favorite Instapundit meme,
it seems that the media wouldn’t have any sources at all. In the past two weeks the media have promoted a number of weighty stories that rested upon the credibility of people whose names we are not allowed to know. Two of these stories were veritable bombshells that, if true, should rightly land powerful people in prison. It’s too bad both stories were so thinly sourced.

Perhaps the bigger of the two stories, measured at least by the news coverage that it got, was the Washington Post’s scoop that Donald Trump had allegedly shared classified intelligence with the Russian foreign minister and the Russian ambassador concerning ISIS terror plots. That report was followed by a barrage of stories about exactly which beans were spilled and whether they were really classified beans. Each volley of articles only muddied the waters more.

The second bombshell involved a new development in the Seth Rich murder investigation. Rich, a 27 year-old DNC staffer, was gunned down last July in a wealthy section of Washington, DC. Shortly thereafter, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange very strongly hinted that Rich was the source of embarrassing internal party emails leaked to his organization—emails that showed that the system was rigged against the insurgent candidate Bernie Sanders among other juicy details. If that were the real motive for his murder it would seem to point accusatory fingers at officials in the Democratic Party.

This relatively cold case got a little warmer last week when Rod Wheeler, a private investigator and former DC homicide detective, made the astonishing claim that there was solid evidence on the victim’s laptop that he had been in contact with Wikileaks before he died. This claim seemed a little weak considering the fact that Wheeler had not himself seen the laptop and was not even sure which law enforcement agency had it in their possession. Still, he insisted that a source at the FBI had told him that the laptop was the key to cracking the case. Within about 24 hours, FOX News was claiming to have an anonymous federal investigator who confirmed the veracity of Wheeler’s claim. FOX News has now officially retracted that story, though exactly why is a mystery. The New York Times clearly implied that FOX News backed off under pressure from the victim’s family, which is a pretty lousy reason to retract a story if you ask me. If it’s not true that’s something else entirely.

The problem with anonymous sources is that they only have as much credibility as the news outlets that vouch for them. When reporters use anonymous sources they are affirming that the mysterious individual has placement, access, and above all credibility. The reporter is asking his readers for their trust and, by running the story, the news outlet is backing him up. In days gone by[,] reporters usually received the trust that they sought because people didn’t see the media as a bunch of partisan hacks. These days, just saying that “a little bird told me” doesn’t cut it because the media has sullied its own reputation.

Given the declining trust that the public places in journalists, you might think that journalists would scale back their use of anonymous sources but the opposite seems to be happening. Though I know of no database that tracks how often anonymous sources are cited in a given year, casual observation tells me that the practice is more common now than when I started paying attention to the news in the 1990s. Journalist Paul Fahri, who covers the media beat at the Washington Post, concurs. Writing in 2013, he said that “According to sources who didn’t insist on anonymity, more and more sources are speaking to the news media on the condition of anonymity for the oddest of reasons.” I would argue that this trend has only increased since 2013 and that it’s become an epidemic since the inauguration of Donald J. Trump. The news cycle is starting to feel like a middle school rumor mill in which catty girls snipe at each other from behind a veil of secrecy. The news is no longer the news—it’s all the Washington gossip fit to print. This has to stop, at least until the Fourth Estate reestablishes its credibility with the American people, which could take a very long time.

Yet the media seem incapable of hearing any criticism of their profession or their employers. This attitude was driven home last week when a panel of reporters appearing on CNN reacted in shock, disbelief, and anger when their guest, former Navy SEAL Carl Higbie, stated that he was not convinced President Trump had given classified intel to Russian guests. “Tell you what, name those sources, then we’ll have something to talk about,” said Higbie. The exchange that followed was absolutely priceless, mostly for the reaction of hostess Kate Bolduan who lost it on national television. She was incensed that someone wouldn’t take a mainstream media-approved anonymous source as gold.

Journalist Kirsten Powers interjected with the classic defense of anonymous sourcing—Watergate. That scandal was broken by Bob Woodward of the Washington Post who received some tips from a mysterious man in a suburban DC parking garage. Until 2005 Woodward referred to his source, whose real name was W. Mark Felt, as Deep Throat.

Unfortunately, Woodward set a very bad precedent. In the years since Watergate, anonymous sourcing has become almost de rig[u]eur. Every anonymous source is now treated like a latter-day Deep Throat. Never mind the fact that Woodward used his secret source mostly as a starting point and that he didn’t expect the entire story to hold together on that single source’s credibility.

If Kirsten Powers wants to use Deep Throat as an example of anonymous sourcing at its best I can surely provide counterexamples of anonymous sourcing gone horribly wrong. Two such examples can be found at The New Republic (TNR), a publication that liberals tend to hold in high regard despite the various journalistic abominations it has run over the years.

In 2007, TNR ran three dispatches from a GI in Iraq whom they referred to as “Scott Thomas” (pseudonym) or the Baghdad Diarist. The Diarist wrote of American soldiers behaving more or less like savages: disrespecting the bodies of dead Iraqi civilians and running over dogs with their Bradley fighting vehicles. Readers were supposed to feel as if they were getting the ground truth instead of Pentagon spin when in fact they were merely having their preconceived notions confirmed. Unfortunately for TNR, the Baghdad Diarist was basically making all of this stuff up. A US Army investigation into this blatant misconduct found it baseless. None of the details of his story stacked up, “Scott Thomas” refused to cooperate with TNR’s own inquiry, and eventually TNR retracted the story.

To make matters worse TNR was by then still on probation for another incident that happened nine years prior, from which they claimed they had learned some lessons. In 1998 TNR got burned by one of its associate editors, Stephen Glass, who turned out to be a compulsive liar. An investigation later determined that 27 of Glass’s 41 TNR pieces contained at least some made up material and a few were entirely confabulated. Glass of course hid behind anonymous sources.

 … These two examples illustrate the pitfalls of anonymous sources. The Baghdad Diarist was a real soldier deployed to Iraq but he wasn’t credible. There was no way for TNR readers to assess his credibility because they didn’t know who he was. Believing that his account would never be checked, “Scott Thomas” wrote whatever his imagination could dream up, slimed his brothers-in-arms, and hurt the mission. Stephen Glass’s scandal was even worse because his anonymous sources were entirely fictional, a secret he thought he could keep.

When reporters have leeway to cite anonymous sources there’s really nothing to stop them from pulling these kinds of stunts. They can write anything at all and just attribute it to some guy they met in a parking garage. The guy in the parking garage may or may not exist, may or may not be a crackpot, may or may not have an agenda, may or may not have the access he claims to have. We don’t know.
And, I might add, neither may the journalist himself know, for that matter.
Journalism as a profession has some well-deserved black eyes and it would behoove reporters to start earning back the public trust. Anonymous sources do the opposite. Too often they’ve been used as covers for lousy and unethical reporting.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

CNN's Don Lemon Ain't Too Happy with Morgan Freeman's Answers

The Scoop's Bob Amoroso posts a video showing CNN's Don Lemon interviewing Morgan Freeman:

 … young, inexperienced pups like CNN host Don Lemon attempts to play the victimization “race card” while interviewing acclaimed Academy Award winner Morgan Freeman, who knows a thing or two about real discrimination.

If anything this brief video clip perhaps best illustrates the disconnect between the generations, when it comes to the issue of race among African-Americans, it’s that same disconnect that immigrants first felt coming to America during the 20’s, 30’s 40’s and perhaps even the 50’s.

Lemon attempts to suggest that racial discrimination among African-Americans is by extension an economic issue, saying; “Do you think race plays a role in wealth distribution?”

Freeman momentarily taken aback by the question and seemed a bit bemused responded, “No. You and I are proof of it.”

Which apparently doesn’t satisfy the CNN host, as he tries again to illicit a response more to his liking, suggesting that some individuals might find it too hard to “pull themselves up by the bootstraps.”

Freemen’s bemusement instantly evaporates, and begins schooling the young progressive pup, by reminding him he was born over 70-years ago in a place called Memphis, Tennessee then stating “um, I had a long haul from where I came from to here…but here we are.”

Lemon interjects saying: “not everybody can do that.”

Freemen sitting back on his chair exclaims “BULLSH*T, everybody can!”

Friday, May 26, 2017

Before 007, Roger Moore Starred with Tony Curtis in The Persuaders — Some Interesting Trivia on the TV Series, Courtesy of No Pasarán

Sir Roger Moore's fellow James Bond actors. as well as other celebrities, join in an outpouring to pay homage after the actor's death.

As Sir Roger himself said of 007, his most famous role:
“Now they’ve found the Bond — Daniel Craig…. I always said Sean played Bond as a killer and I played Bond as a lover. I think that Daniel Craig is even more of a killer. He has this superb intensity; he’s a glorious actor.”
Of course, Roger Moore became famous for handful of TV series. Almost unknown in America, The Persuaders became one of the greatest television hits in Europe, with John Barry's haunting theme music and co-starring Tony Curtis.

One fan is No Pasarán's main blogger, who indeed has authored a number of entries on the TV series' trivia page. Among which are:

Originally, the title of the TV series was going to be "The Friendly Persuaders", but because that sounded too close to a Gary Cooper western (Friendly Persuasion (1956)), it was shortened.
Because Roger Moore deemed that no good photos exist of him as a child, the black and white boyhood picture of Brett Sinclair in the opening credits is that of his son Geoffrey Moore

The filmed sequences presenting Danny Wilde and Brett Sinclair in the opening credits were not filmed expressly for said credits but were taken from various early episodes (all of them in Southern Europe), mainly The Persuaders!: Overture (1971) (the two men racing their sports cars, Tony Curtis and Roger Moore distracted by a blonde in a bikini walking between them, Brett flirting with two beauties) and The Persuaders!: Powerswitch (1971) (the water-skiing shots and Danny shown as a businessman at work at a desk)

Tony Curtis was born Bernard Schwartz of Hungarian immigrants. And if you pay attention, you will find the actor sprinkling inside jokes to his origins through the series. In The Persuaders!: Greensleeves (1971), for instance, his character pretends to be Brett Sinclair's new butler, Grzegorz (Gregor), and explains his (fake) East European accent by his being from a "Hun-GAA-rian" from "BU-dapesht" (unfortunately for Danny Wilde, the black beauty from an African republic that he shares this with speaks the language perfectly). Torn from his Paris hotel shower in The Persuaders!: The Old, the New, and the Deadly (1971) by the telephone ringing which turns out to be a wrong phone number, a dripping wet Danny states, "No, this is not Mr Schwartz, you got the wrong room!"

Related: A 7-Year-Old Spots a Celebrity in an Airport, His Heart Sinking When Roger Moore's Autograph Does Not Read "James Bond"; What Happens Next?

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Can't America Impeach Trump and Remove Him from Office? Asks French Radio Channel Giddily; GOP's Reen Answers with One Single Monosyllable

Est-ce l'Amérique peut se déTrumper ? asks French radio in a play on words meaning both Can America unTrump itself and Can America undo its blunder.

Among the guests of Laurent Goumarre's Le Nouveau Rendez-Vous on the France Inter radio channel devoted to the question whether Donald Trump can be impeached — or, rather, removed from office (a number of people seem to think that they are one and the same) — were Jean-Xavier de Lestrade, Samuel Doux (scénariste, réalisateur et auteur), Kid Francescoli (Chanteur), Norman Spinrad (auteur de science-fiction américain), Constance Borde (Représentante en France du parti démocrate), and Eric Fottorino (Journaliste et écrivain), as well as, last but not least, Paul Reen (représentant du Parti Républicain en France).

Notably, Alice Antheaume spent three and a half minutes in a mocking monologue over Donald Trump's tendency for writing tweets. After Christop Bourseiller went on and on for two and a half minutes with an editorial on the possibility of Donald Trump's impeachment and removal for office, Paul Reen answered with a single monosyllable.

Go to the France Inter link to hear the whole debate…

A 7-Year-Old Spots a Celebrity in an Airport, His Heart Sinking When Roger Moore's Autograph Does Not Read "James Bond"; What Happens Next?

In the wake of the passing of Sir Roger Moore, one Mark Williamson posts the following reminiscence (is it his own or someone other's?) on Facebook (cheers to Michael White).