neo-neocon Wed, 23 Aug 2017 20:01:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Observations Wed, 23 Aug 2017 19:59:06 +0000 Recently I was at several gatherings of relatives and friends, and listening to some of the conversation I get two impressions.

The first is that some liberals are still very much obsessed with Trump. One in particular could hardly let a thought go by without including a dig at Trump, even if there didn’t seem to be even a remote connection.

The second is that a lot of liberals think they’ve got Trump on the ropes and that he won’t last another year in office. I happen to disagree.

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Free speech for Nazis: policies in the US and Europe compared Wed, 23 Aug 2017 19:51:06 +0000 A NY Times op-ed by K-Sue Park that I critiqued recently called for the ACLU to “rethink” its free-speech defense of Nazi rallies, and to loosen its traditional even-handed defense of freedom of speech as a principle of liberty and adopt a leftist power/class/racial/hierarchical approach, defending only those groups the left thinks are entitled to free speech.

This not only violates our American tradition of defense of free speech even when offensive (which neo-Nazis most certainly are), but it also tends to be more in line with the European point of view regarding free speech. For example, not all countries in Europe ban Nazi symbols such as flags, but many either ban or restrict them in various ways, although they are allowed as free speech here. The restrictions on such symbols are particularly strict in Germany and Austria, for reasons that are obvious.

However, even Germany allows neo-Nazi parties to exist, despite many attempts to get them banned. A recent court ruling (January of 2017) went this way:

Yes, Germany’s National Democratic Party (NPD) is “related to National Socialism”, the country’s supreme court in Karlsruhe said on January 17th. And yes, its aims are to undermine Germany’s constitution and ultimately to establish an ethnically pure German Volk. And yet, the red-robed judges opined, there is no sign that the NPD could come close to fulfilling its goals. The party, it ruled, will therefore not be banned.

This landmark verdict ends a decades-long saga of failed efforts to declare Germany’s neo-Nazi party illeg…

…the standard of proof for banning political parties, mandated by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, is high. In societies that value free speech and association, it is not enough to prove even the worst motivation; a party must also have a “real potential” to make good on evil designs.

And in Germany, neo-Nazis are even allowed to demonstrate, as long as they meet certain very stringent rules:

Germany has long enforced a strict ban on Nazi symbols or anything to do with glorification of the Third Reich.

For the neo-Nazi march, one flag per 50 people was allowed, images of Rudolf Hess [the man whose death was being commemorated] were forbidden, as were drums and military music. Police individually searched each marcher in a specially set-up tent before allowing them into the penned-off march area. The neo-Nazis had to cover up tattoos and they weren’t even allowed to chant slogans. In a country where guns are banned, nothing more dangerous than a mobile phone was allowed on them.

The German authorities are trying to walk a fine line here; they probably don’t want to make free-speech martyrs out of the relatively powerless neo-Nazis. The Germans may even be aware of the history of what happened in Germany during the 1920s and 1930s regarding the restriction of Nazi speech:

…[In the 1920s and 30s, Nazis did go to jail for anti-Semitic expression, and when they were released, they were celebrated as martyrs. When Bavarian authorities banned speeches by Hitler in 1925, for example, the Nazis exploited it. As former ACLU Executive Director Aryeh Neier explains in his book Defending My Enemy, the Nazi party protested the ban by distributing a picture of Hitler gagged with the caption, “One alone of 2,000 million people of the world is forbidden to speak in Germany.” The ban backfired and became a publicity coup. It was soon lifted.

There is nothing easy or pleasant about deciding how to deal with groups such as neo-Nazis. But free speech in this country demands that they be allowed their say and even their marches and their symbols, or we compromise the liberty we hold so dear.

Or do we hold it so dear? According to this poll (taken in 2015), Millenials are considerably more likely than previous generations to advocate bans “to prevent people publicly making statements that are offensive to minority groups.” The figure for Millenials supporting such a ban is 40%, which is not a majority. But it’s a troublingly large minority, particularly compared to the range for other generations: 27% among Gen Xers, 24% for Boomers, and 12% among Silents.

The trend over time is clear, and it’s against free speech.

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Afraid of offending: in the penumbra of Robert E. Lee Wed, 23 Aug 2017 18:59:57 +0000 You can’t be too careful, right? Fearful of ruffling feathers in Charlottesville and elsewhere, MSESPN made this decision:

In a story that seems made for The Onion, but is actually true, according to multiple Outkick fans inside ESPN MSESPN decided to pull an Asian college football announcer named Robert Lee off the William and Mary at University of Virginia college football game because they were concerned that having an ASIAN FOOTBALL ANNOUNCER NAMED ROBERT LEE would be offensive to some viewers.

Did I mention that Robert Lee is Asian?

Is this even real life anymore? This might even be worse than MSESPN apologizing for the fantasy football slave draft a couple of weeks ago.

MSESPN later issued a statement indicating that this was done at least partly at the request of Robert Lee himself, which changes the picture somewhat but still is a reflection of how extreme the catering to tender sensibilities has become, and how great the fear of being the target of the offended ones. I have to say that, even if I were on the anti-Robert E. Lee warpath (I wonder; is “warpath” an offensive word now?), I can’t imagine being triggered by a Robert Lee who was Asian. I just don’t think I’d make the connection, because to me that middle initial “E” has always been a definitive part of the famous general’s moniker.

The whole thing reminds me of two incidents from the past. The first is the attack on what used to be the perfectly serviceable and non-bigoted word “niggardly,” which means stingy. The controversies over that word began close to twenty years ago. Most people (including me) were able to let the word go because there are so many substitutes for it. In fact, I doubt I’ve ever used it in my life, even prior to the brouhaha over it. But that sort of controversy is indicative of where we’re headed, which is that more and more things have become forbidden, and an Asian sports announcer named “Robert Lee” ends up being pulled from a gig.

It also brings to mind the “water buffalo” incident at the University of Pennsylvania:

The incident occurred on January 13, 1993, when Eden Jacobowitz shouted, “Shut up, you water buffalo”, out of his window to a crowd of mostly black Delta Sigma Theta sorority sisters creating a ruckus outside his dorm. Others had shouted at the crowd, but Jacobowitz was the only one charged.

Initially Jacobowitz had an advisor assigned to him, who urged him to accept the University’s offer of a settlement. The settlement required him to admit to violating the racial harassment policy. Instead, he contested the university’s decision under the advice of Penn history professor and libertarian activist Alan Charles Kors.

Jacobowitz explained his choice of “water buffalo” as from Hebrew slang, “Behema” (animal or beast), used by Israelis to refer to a loud, rowdy person. He procured several expert witnesses who attested to this and others, such as Michael Meyers, President and Executive Director of the New York Civil Rights Coalition, who gave testimonies that “water buffalo” was not a racial epithet against African Americans.

The case went on for quite some time, and got a lot of publicity. It was finally settled this way:

Despite the public outcry and widespread media coverage, the University refused to discuss or explain its actions.[citation needed] The hearing was delayed for another two months while international press commented and criticized Penn’s decisions…

Despite repeated requests by Jacobowitz’s legal teams to have charges dropped, the University pressed forward. At the hearing the panel decided not to dismiss the charges and issued a gag order to keep proceedings from leaking to the press…

After intense scrutiny by reporters, the University denied issuing a gag order, and University President Sheldon Hackney offered Kors a deal in which Jacobowitz would apologize for rudeness and the University and the plaintiffs would drop the charges. The affair ended when at a press conference the 15 women agreed to drop charges, stating that the media coverage made it unlikely they would get a fair hearing.

It tells you how long ago this sort of thing was being played out on university campuses, and how far it went even back then. It didn’t seem to matter what Jacobowitz’s intent in using the word was, how the word was ordinarily used, what it meant, the location of water buffalos (Asia), or anything else that would seem relevant except the feelings of the listeners and the need of the University of Pennsylvania to signal its own virtue.

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Trump’s Afghan strategy Tue, 22 Aug 2017 22:24:15 +0000 Last night President Trump gave a speech outlining his policy on Afghanistan. The text can be found here.

In considering what to do in Afghanistan, Trump was in a bind. Actually, it’s not just Trump who’s been in a bind; Afghanistan has presented a knotty problem for several previous administrations. It’s dangerous to not be there, it’s dangerous and frustrating to be there. Once there, pulling out is a terrible option. How important is Afghanistan to the fight against Islamic terror, and how far should we go to secure it or to attempt to change it? Is it possible to fight terrorists there (and/or prevent more of them finding a haven there, as they did before 9/11) without some sort of “nation-building”? And what is “nation-building” anyway?

Trump’s bind also was a result of his own campaign rhetoric, which gave many people the impression he would be pulling out of Afghanistan. He referred to this in his speech last night by saying “My original instinct was to pull out — and, historically, I like following my instincts.”

Funny thing, though; I just did a search and couldn’t find any campaign speech in which he unequivocally said he intended to pull out of Afghanistan. That doesn’t mean he didn’t say it; it just means that I couldn’t find it in a quick search. What I did find was at least somewhat in line with what he declared in his speech last night. Here, for example, are some quotes from a speech Trump delivered exactly a year ago, August of 2016:

Donald Trump said Monday [August 2016] that U.S. interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere have been an “absolute failure” and promised to reset foreign policy away from nation-building and regime change if elected president…

“It is now time for a new approach. Our current strategy of nation-building and regime change is a proven absolute failure,” Trump said. “We have created the vacuums that allow terrorism to grow and thrive.”…

…More than $100 billion has also been spent rebuilding Afghanistan since 2002, with most of the money going to police and the military.

Trump said he would bring that work to a “swift and decisive” end.

His approach will first focus on building global support to halt the spread of Islamic extremism as expressed by the Islamic State group, al-Qaida and other groups. That will include joint military operations, increased intelligence sharing and cyberwarfare.

Somewhat different perhaps from what he said last night, but not all that different, and most of the difference was in emphasis and degree.

Here are some more details from Trump’s announcements last night:

Conditions on the ground — not arbitrary timetables — will guide our strategy from now on….

Another fundamental pillar of our new strategy is the integration of all instruments of American power — diplomatic, economic, and military — toward a successful outcome…

We are a partner and a friend, but we will not dictate to the Afghan people how to live, or how to govern their own complex society. We are not nation-building again. We are killing terrorists.

That first sentence is something I (and many others) have been wanting for a long, long time, and is just common sense. The rest sounds like semantics to me, because we haven’t been nation-building in Afghanistan for many years. We’ve never had a full-scale occupation in Afghanistan, and there never was any commitment to that on the part of the US, even under Bush. Most definitely there’s been no stomach for it among the American people or in Congress. So even if Trump was inclined to want to do it (which he’s not), it’s off the table for those reasons alone.

However, there is really no way to intervene in Afghanistan without some form of “nation-building,” even if it’s minimal. By encouraging the fight against terrorists there and shoring up the present government, we are influencing the nation and its government in a certain direction:

Trump did not specify troop levels on Monday, but White House officials say the U.S. will deploy about 4,000 additional soldiers to Afghanistan, many of them in a training role to help stand up wobbly Afghan security forces.

Those “wobbly Afghan security forces” are part of the nation we have already “built” there as a result of all our interventions since 9/11, which began (remember?) when the Taliban were in control of the country and engaged in harboring al Qaeda and blowing up Buddhist statues in their spare time.

“Nation-building” has become a disapproved-of buzzword, something a politician must be seen to be against these days without really needing to define it in any detail—just as “neocon” has become an epithet on both sides, with people using it in whatever way they wish (I’ve dealt with those issues before, here, as well as in my series that begins here).

As Paul Mirengoff points out, “it has been a while since we have done any serious nation-building in Afghanistan.” I would go even further and say that while I think we engaged in “serious,” or at least semi-serious, nation-building in Iraq (and the effort there wasn’t going all that badly until Obama pulled the plug on it), our nation-building in Afghanistan was never as intense. And neither effort involved anything like the commitment of a full-scale occupation (which I’m not recommending, by the way).

Other changes Trump announced in his speech last night included:

We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organizations, the Taliban, and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond…

We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting. But that will have to change, and that will change immediately…

Another critical part of the South Asia strategy for America is to further develop its strategic partnership with India…

I have already lifted restrictions the previous administration placed on our warfighters that prevented the Secretary of Defense and our commanders in the field from fully and swiftly waging battle against the enemy. Micromanagement from Washington, D.C. does not win battles.

These seem to me to be excellent ideas.

I’ve long thought that it is wishful thinking to believe we can disengage from these places at this point or in the near future. However, that sort of wishful thinking is indulged in by most liberals and by some in the isolationist wing of the right. It is an attractive but unrealistic and impossible suggestion, and we saw the consequences of such withdrawal when Obama left an Iraq that was substantially pacified but which required an American presence to sustain that state. What followed was a disaster for Iraq and also for the world, including the Western world and Europe in particular.

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Paypal removes ban on Jihad Watch Tue, 22 Aug 2017 20:20:53 +0000 [NOTE: This post refers back to events that were decribed in a previous post.]

Paypal, in its infinite mercy (that’s sarcasm, by the way, in case it’s not clear), has decided to reinstate the account of Jihad Watch, previously banned by Paypal as a hate site.

Robert (not Richard!!!) Spencer of Jihad Watch writes:

The Left, seeing a golden opportunity when a Nazi psychopath plowed his car into a crowd of Leftists in Charlottesville, tried to use the moment as its Reichstag Fire, and crush all dissent from the hard-Left line. And there is no doubt that initiative will continue. But in banning Jihad Watch, PayPal overreached, and encountered a crowd of free citizens.


Paypal is a company, and it’s free to ban anyone it wants. And people are free to react to that banning. In banning Jihad Watch, which is not a hate site but which is devoted to monitoring Islamic terrorism, Paypal must have encountered enough of a backlash to make it worth their while to reinstate the site.

I have long used Paypal on my blog, too, because it has been the best way to accept donations. I did some research last night on alternatives, and didn’t come up with a good one. For now, I will probably retain Paypal, but if anyone has an alternative to suggest that makes sense, I would certainly consider it for the future. One of the problems is that this sort of thing has become almost universal (Google being a prominent example as well).

[NOTE: I am beginning to think that Robert Spencer should start using a middle name to better distinguish himself from Richard Spencer. Just a middle initial wouldn’t work, because they both have the middle initial B.]

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Reversals Tue, 22 Aug 2017 19:20:26 +0000 William Jacobson of Legal Insurrection has this to say (the whole post is worth reading):

That truth that both sides [in Charlottesville] were violent doesn’t mean both sides were equal.

But the denial of the truth that both sides were violent seems to go beyond mere criticism, into a reversal of reality.

The phrase “reversal of reality” made me think of this from Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four:

War is peace.
Freedom is slavery.
Ignorance is strength.

On the face of it, that seems nonsensical, doesn’t it? But of course it’s not. Orwell put his finger on the left’s modus operandi there, because the goal is to shape minds to accept what is told them, and not think or question too much:

These words are the official slogans of the Party, and are inscribed in massive letters on the white pyramid of the Ministry of Truth, as Winston observes in Book One, Chapter I. Because it is introduced so early in the novel, this creed serves as the reader’s first introduction to the idea of doublethink. By weakening the independence and strength of individuals’ minds and forcing them to live in a constant state of propaganda-induced fear, the Party is able to force its subjects to accept anything it decrees, even if it is entirely illogical…

…the Party is able to maintain that “War Is Peace” because having a common enemy keeps the people of Oceania united. “Freedom Is Slavery” because, according to the Party, the man who is independent is doomed to fail. By the same token, “Slavery Is Freedom,” because the man subjected to the collective will is free from danger and want. “Ignorance Is Strength” because the inability of the people to recognize these contradictions cements the power of the authoritarian regime.

But back to Charlottesville. One of the better pieces about the fact that both sides were violent in the confrontation can be found here:

President Trump got it right in his initial response to the mayhem in Charlottesville when he condemned the “egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides.”

His subsequent remarks on Monday, singling out “the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups” was also appropriate…

if we insist on viewing Saturday’s events as an alt-right convulsion, we are refusing to see how it reflects the deep and frightening divisions percolating in our country.

Unlike most of the violent protests of the past few years – where left-wing demonstrators have repeatedly clashed with the police – Charlottesville pitted two extreme and marginal groups of citizens against one another: self-proclaimed anti-fascists versus thuggish haters…

Given this wider context, Trump would have been doing the country a disservice if he singled out one group for blame. He would have been suggesting that it is acceptable to meet those who hold objectionable views with violence. He would have been denying the complex, toxic anger coursing through our body politic.

His initial call for unity, however, was immediately transformed into a cudgel by his opponents – on the left and in his own party – who accused him (once again) of racism because he failed to single out the white supremacists marchers.

That column was written by someone named J. Peder Zane. I’d never heard of him before, and when I looked him up to learn more about him, I was surprised to see his stellar liberal credentials:

…he earned a BA from Wesleyan University in 1984 and an MS (with Honors) from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 1989…

He joined The New York Times in 1990 as member of the Writing Program for young reporters…

…Zane edited a special section, “Ghosts of 1898,” on the Wilmington race riot for the Charlotte Observer and the Raleigh News and Observer. This 16-page special section, written by historian Timothy B. Tyson, was widely distributed. Soon afterward, the North Carolina General Assembly passed legislation to requiring public schools to teach students about the white supremacy campaigns and the Wilmington Race Riot of 1898. “Ghosts of 1898” won an Excellence Award from the National Association of Black Journalists.

In the midst of so much depressing news lately, Zane’s fairness gives me hope.

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Catalonia and terrorism; Spain and Moroccan immigration Mon, 21 Aug 2017 19:19:05 +0000 It might seem that the perps in the Barcelona and Cambrils attacks should have been easier to detect because this was a multi-person cell, a group rather than a lone wolf. Nevertheless, not a single one of the people involved, at least 12 at last count, appears even to have been on the authorities’ radar screen.

This article explores why that might have been:

…Catalonia is a particularly problematic case. In the past, various Catalan nationalist politicians preferred to import North African labor (even though they sometimes referred to them as “the Moors”) rather than those from elsewhere in Spain…

More recently, on such a basic matter as fundamental defensive measures adopted by many European cities after Nice and London—the placing of obstacles along wide pedestrian thoroughfares like Las Ramblas—Catalan authorities allegedly wanted to show they would take an approach different from Madrid. So, no bollards to stop a vehicle from blasting through pedestrians.

Intelligence sharing with the central government may also have been affected, making it more difficult to tie together threads that stretch across regional borders, let alone international ones.

According to the article, Catalonia appears to be a central location for terrorists in Spain. The Catalan authorities seem fiercely independent:

But conflicting reports suggest that in the immediate aftermath of the explosion in Alcanar, where multiple propane gas canisters were discovered, the Catalan police refused the assistance of TEDAX, a unit of the Spanish government with long experience dismantling bombs and investigating explosive evidence dating back through decades of Basque separatist terrorism. If true, valuable hours may have been lost as the killers raced to go into action.

After reading that I became curious about Catalonia’s history. Reading about it, I discovered that Catalonia was only briefly under Muslim rule in the 8th Century, and then became “a defensive barrier for the Frankish empire against further Muslim invasions from Al-Andalus.” I also discovered (see this), that there’s a lengthy history of Moroccan immigration into modern Spain. The cell of terrorists responsible for the Barcelona and Cambrils attacks was composed of Moroccans.

Here’s the history [emphasis mine]:

…[T]hroughout modern history there has always been a constant presence of Muslims in Spain, many of which were former slaves (known as ‘moros cortados’) freed in the early 18th century. Furthermore, Spain’s proximity to North Africa and its small land border with the Kingdom of Morocco (as well as a colonial presence in North Africa lasting between 1912 and 1975) made Muslim presence in Spain possible. Moroccan Muslims played a significant role in Spain’s Civil War (1936-1939), fighting on the National side, including a Lieutenant General Mohamed Meziane, a close friend of General Francisco Franco, who later became Captain General of Ceuta, Galicia and the Canary Islands during his post-war career.

Moroccans did not require a visa to enter Spain until 1985. This however changed with Spain’s growing economic development and its entry into the European Union, after which stricter immigration controls were imposed. Immigration to Spain exploded in the 90s, with Moroccans of both sexes arriving in large numbers and becoming Spain’s first important economic immigrant community.

I also learned that the perpetrators of the 2004 train bombings in Madrid, a horrific attack that killed 192 and injured around 2,000, were predominently Moroccans.

Spain and Morocco share a border, but it’s a “wet” border—the narrow Straits of Gibraltar:

The border between Spain and Morocco can be understood as a border of borders. Beyond the territorial line between two nation-states, the Spanish-Moroccan border also marks the limits between, Christianity and Islam, Europe and Africa, the former colonizer and the former colonized, EU territory and non-EU territory, prosperous north and impoverished south. A wide range of geographical, historical, political, social, cultural and economical categories face each other on the Spanish-Moroccan border landscape.

Often, visual representations of the Spanish-Moroccan border are condensed into the metaphorical image of the Pillars of Hercules on the two shores of the Strait of Gibraltar -Gibraltar on the one hand, and Ceuta’s Monte Hacho, on the other.

Here’s a map:

Some history:

Ceuta and Melilla are situated on the North Western Mediterranean coast of the African continent, approximately 300 km apart from each other…Melilla is Spanish since 1497, representing one of the fortresses established along the coast to prevent further invasion of the Spanish peninsula by the “Moors”, who had been expelled five years earlier after a presence of nearly eight centuries. Ceuta had been seized by Portugal in 1415, but was transferred to Spain under the Treaty of Lisbon in 1668 (P. Gold, 2000)…

After Spain joined the Schengen Agreement in 1991 tight border controls started to be implemented…From that moment onwards, Moroccan citizens were not allowed to cross the new Spanish/Schengen -Moroccan border without a visa.

The particular characteristics of the enclaves, which are absolutely dependant on the cross-border interaction with their hinterlands, implied that the Schengen regime was put into practice in a selective mode…In this context the enclaves were given status of ‘frontier zone’, providing special provisions for bilateral trade between the two Spanish cities with the neighbouring Moroccan provinces Tetuán y Nador and allowing Moroccans who regularly entered the enclaves to require only a passport for a maximum 24-hour stay…

With their new status Ceuta and Melilla became key gateways for would-be illegal immigrants to the EU…

There’s much more at the link.

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Internet free speech threatened Mon, 21 Aug 2017 18:33:14 +0000 This is a chilling, must-read article.

In it, William Jacobson quotes a post he wrote last Friday:

…[In the past there have been] attempts to intimidate internet hosting companies and companies that provide internet infrastructure to cut off access to the internet. [Previously] the effort has been focused on the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer. People might not care that The Daily Stormer is taken down, but the history of leftist tactics show that the target universe will expand dramatically and it will not be long before efforts are directed, as they are now for advertisers, at mainstream conservative and right-of-center websites….

Companies like Cloudfare and others who provide internet infrastrucure will come under increasing pressure, and it won’t be limited to the Storm Fronts of the world. We know from history that the “hate” label is broadly applied for political purposes, and will be used only against right-of-center websites.

It certainly didn’t take long for that prediction to come true. The site Jihad Watch was predictably next on the list, because it focuses on the threat from Islamist terrorists and although not a hate site in my book, it is focused on Islamist terrorism and doesn’t mince words about the fact that most of the world’s terrorists today cite Islam as their inspiration. Robert (not Richard, who is a different person!) Spencer and Pam Geller have been under attack for a long time about this, and the latest development is quite chilling in terms of free speech, whether you agree with their site or not.

This is what Spencer has written about the issue:

The Left is mounting an all-out assault against the freedom of speech, and using Charlottesville to try to crush all dissent. I received this email today. I know also that Lauren Kirchner has sent it to other counter-jihad sites as well….

[Question in Email followed by Spencer answer]

1) Do you disagree with the designation of your website as hate or extremist? Why?

Yes, certainly I do. For years, Leftists and Muslim groups with numerous ties to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood have smeared as “hate” all attempts to speak honestly about the motivating ideology behind jihad terrorism. In reality, it is not hateful, racist or extremist to oppose jihad terror, and the claim that it is [is] not only libelous but insidious: the intent has clearly been to intimidate people into thinking it wrong to oppose jihad terror, and it has worked, as illustrated by the neighbors of the San Bernardino jihad murderers, who saw suspicious activity at their home but didn’t report them for fear of being “racist.”

2) We identified several tech companies on your website: PayPal, Amazon, Newsmax, and Revcontent. Can you confirm that you receive funds from your relationship with those tech companies? How would the loss of those funds affect your operations, and how would you be able to replace them?

The intent of your questions, and no doubt of your forthcoming article, will be to try to compel these sites to cut off any connection with us based on our opposition to jihad terror. Are you comfortable with what you’re enabling? Not only are you inhibiting honest analysis of the nature and magnitude of the jihad threat, but you’re aiding the attempt to deny people a platform based on their political views. This could come back to bite you if your own views ever fall out of favor. Have you ever lived in a totalitarian state, where the powerful determine the parameters of the public discourse and cut off all voice from the powerless? Do you really want to live in one now? You might find, once you get there, that it isn’t as wonderful as you thought it would be.

3) Have you been shut down by other tech companies for being an alleged hate or extremist web site? Which companies?

No. This is a new thing. First came the ridiculous claim that opposing jihad terror was “hate,” and now comes the other shoe dropping: the attempt to cut out the ground from under the feet of those who “hate.” You can only hope that you aren’t similarly defamed one day; perhaps if that does happen, you will realize (too late) why the freedom of speech is an indispensable element of a free society.

4) Many people opposed to sites like yours are currently pressuring tech companies to cease their relationships with them – what is your view of this campaign? Why?

Nazis will be Nazis. Fascists will be fascists. Today they call themselves “Antifa” and the like, but they’re acting just like Hitler’s Brownshirts did, when they shouted down and assaulted anti-Nazi speakers. Now the violent thugs work in a more genteel fashion: they just pull the Internet plug on those they hate. You, Lauren Kirchner, are aiding and abetting a quintessentially fascist enterprise. Authoritarianism in service of any cause leads to a slave society despite the best intentions of those who helped usher it in.

This should make your blood run cold.

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RIP Jerry Lewis Mon, 21 Aug 2017 18:06:16 +0000 Jerry Lewis has died at 91. You can read tributes to him here and here.

That first article calls him a “nonpareil genius of comedy.” I guess so, but his shtick—and slapstick in general—didn’t appeal to me. I do recall from my childhood that he and Dean Martin had a TV show I used to watch and must have enjoyed. But I remember nothing else about it except for a vague notion that it was the suave and slightly sleepy Martin I liked more than Lewis, who seemed to me at the time to be a grown man pretending for some strange reason to be a child. My preference in comedy teams was for Abbott and Costello, and especially Laurel and Hardy (whose movies I do remember).

But Lewis was indeed a giant, and lots of people the world over (yes, and in France) thought he was just great. He had a long and intense creative life and did a lot to raise money to fight muscular dystrophy. He was certainly a person who lived large. RIP.

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Eclipse, August 21: to feel the always coming on… Sat, 19 Aug 2017 20:21:04 +0000

On Monday, August 21, 2017, America will witness one of nature’s grandest spectacles. The “Great American Eclipse,” as it is being called, will be the first total solar eclipse visible from the continental United States since 1979, when a massive shadow caused by the moon blocking the light of the sun passed over the Pacific Northwest. But this year’s eclipse will be the first total solar eclipse visible from coast to coast since 1918. Tens of millions of Americans are projected to make their way into the narrow path of the moon’s shadow — a seventy-mile wide swath of complete darkness stretching from Oregon to South Carolina — to watch the sun disappear completely for nearly three minutes over one section of the country after another…

A total solar eclipse is a breathtaking sight. It lasts a few hours as the moon slowly crawls across the face of the sun, obscuring it bit by bit. But the most spectacular part of the eclipse is called totality: the brief period during which the sun is completely concealed by the moon. Totality lasts only a few minutes, but its effects are dramatic. The temperature plummets when the sun disappears, stars and planets become visible in the middle of the day, and on the surface of the Earth, a giant shadow up to 150 miles wide sweeps across the land at speeds approaching 2,000 miles per hour.

The effect of the onrushing shadow often fills those who see it with “primitive fear,” according to the psychologist and eclipse chaser Dr. Kate Russo, as a “wall of darkness comes creeping toward you.” In 1878, one observer, who watched the approaching shadow from the top of 14,000 foot Pikes Peak, described that wall of darkness as “pallid and ghastly . . . weird and terrible” as it devoured distant mountain ranges one by one. This year’s eclipse will speed across America in a little over 90 minutes.

I believe I saw one in Boston in the 70s. Looked it up; probably this one, not totally total but darn close to total. It was scary and creepy, and also tempting and frustrating because of the need to not look directly at it.

Here are some charts of the path of Monday’s eclipse.

For me, the quote with which I began this post conjures up this poem by Archibald Macleish, which is not about an eclipse, but about nightfall (and much much else):

And here face down beneath the sun
And here upon earth’s noonward height
To feel the always coming on
The always rising of the night:

To feel creep up the curving east
The earthy chill of dusk and slow
Upon those under lands the vast
And ever climbing shadow grow

And strange at Ecbatan the trees
Take leaf by leaf the evening strange
The flooding dark about their knees
The mountains over Persia change…

And Baghdad darken and the bridge
Across the silent river gone
And through Arabia the edge
Of evening widen and steal on…

Please read the whole thing. That poem gives me a shiver that starts somewhere in the middle of it and lasts right to the end.

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