Gawker reviews Lena Dunhams original book proposal, which had a different and more detailed version or her "rape" story. The Daily Caller takeaway:
Gawker Thinks They Found Lena Dunham’s Alleged Rapist… And He’s A Democrat
If Lena Dunham had not felt obliged to play to her base she would have left out the "Ewww, Republican!" invented detail and saved us all a bit of annoyance. And maybe lost some book sales.
Haters gotta hate. And cash their royalty checks.
But why single them out? Every long-term strategy for the Democratic Party at the national level I have seen relies on the Dems collecting 90% of the black vote and a huge disproportion of other ethnics. How can they do that? Well, there is only so much public appetite for yet another well-intentioned but ill-conceived Federal giveaway, so...
Keep Hate Alive!
Dan Drezner opens his campaign for president of the Optimists Club with this upbeat recap of 2014:
‘There have been worse years in recent history,” New York Times columnist Ross Douthat wrote, “but 2014 definitely stands out for the sheer variety of awfulness.” That sentiment captures the popular perception of a year that can’t seem to end soon enough.
In many ways, it would be hard to disagree. In the United States, political and racial polarization seemed especially deep, and across the globe things got pretty scary. Russia annexed Crimea and sent its forces into eastern Ukraine in an effort to undermine the new Western-oriented government in Kiev. In the Middle East, the Islamic State displaced al-Qaeda as the region’s bad guy. The euro-zone economies stagnated, even compared with how they performed in the 1930s, during the Great Depression. Ebola terrorized Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, and threatened many more countries. As the year closed, two cops in Brooklyn were fatally shot at point-blank range, and the Pakistani Taliban committed a heinous massacre of schoolchildren in Peshawar. And to top it all off, a boy dictator in Pyongyang even threatened to prevent the rest of us from weakly laughing at Seth Rogen.
It’s not that there was no positive news — the fall in global energy prices put more money in people’s pockets, and crime continued to decline in the United States. Still, the bad seemed to crowd out the good.
But what if 2014 turned out better than expected? Thinking about what actually happened this past year may not be the best way to judge it. After all, an awful lot of smart people predicted a lot of even-more-terrible things that never came to pass. And these averted catastrophes point toward some interesting ways to think about 2015.
It couda been worse! And he explains why.
And let me add that whatever other debacles 2014 provided, it did not have this.
The NY Times delivered a multi-layered head-scratcher just in time for the New Year festivities. In the course of a long article extolling the skill, preparation and motivational ability of Detroit Lions coach Jim Caldwell, we learn this:
With the postseason beckoning, Caldwell has conditioned his players to believe that tomorrow does not exist until midnight.
"Tomorrow does not exist until midnight"!?! I get "The sun will come out tomorrow" and "Tomorrow is another day". On the flip side, "There is no tomorrow" and "The future is now" are perfectly clear. And of course, "The only easy day is yesterday" has a bracing quality.
But I am at a loss as to just what I might do differently after embracing the notion that "Tomorrow does not exist until midnight". And does that idea intersect with "Nothing good happens after midnight"? - the combination suggests a bleak tomorrow, with no sun at all.
It's a a puzzle. But a bit of research compounds the mystery! Here is the only other use of the phrase on Google, and it is taken from the NY Times Sports Section two years ago in a profile of... Tom Brady and Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots:
Around the Patriots, tomorrow does not exist until midnight. It is always about the next practice, the next meeting, the next film study, the next session in the weight room. Nothing matters more than that moment, a philosophy instilled by Belichick, enforced by Brady.
Well. Something to think about as the ball drops in a few more days.
People who know about these things are not so sure that the Nporth Koreans were behind the hack on Sony.
I will add this - the politically appealing answer that a harried Homeland Security official would have been looking for is "North Korea", essentially for the same reasons that Seth Rogen felt safe making the head of North Korea the butt of his "comedy" - nobody anywhere will support North Korea and they can't do much more than they are already doing to annoy us.
Put another way, if some of the analysts thought Putin was behind this, some thought China, some thought it was an unidentifiable foggy hacking group and some thought North Korea, a sensible Homeland chieftan would move the North Korean backers to the front of the room and have them write the preliminary repport. The alternatives are ghastly: send the President out to announce even more problems with Putin? Announce it was China and crater all our efforts on intellectual property rights with our friends in the East? Send the President out to say "We don't know, and probably never will?"
North Korea had to be the preferred call, evidence or lack thereof notwithstanding.
Of course, when Dick Cheney allegedly went shopping for the answers he wanted back in 2002 it was denounced by some as deplorable. The stakes are lower today since we aren't talking about boots on the cyberground, but what kind of hue and cry might we expect now?
In a bit of Christmas comedy Jacob Siegel of The Daily Beast searches high and low for the people who chanted for dead cops during the Million Marchers protest.
Marvelous. Now maybe he can apply those detecting skills to figuring out who starred in Uncle Murda's "Hands Up" video (148,066 views as of midnight on 12/23/2014) which depicted the execution of cops as redress for Brown and Garner.
Finding advocates of violence against cops is surely taxing, arduous work so I doubt we will see much mainstrean media coverage of this mystery.
The Washington Post FactChecker takes a selective look at Obama's rhetoric and concludes (implausibly but unsurprisingly, IMHO) that he has not contributed to any anti-police sentiment.
Heather McDonald examined the same rhetoric on Nov 25 and reached the opposite conclusion. That means she made her case without benefit of Obama's Dec 12 interview with BET, in which he offered his hope of progress with police reform by invoking Martin Luther King's thoughts about progress against lynchers in the South. Seriously:
Now is a good time for us to figure out what training works, what equipment works, what accountability measures work, what kind of review systems work, what kind of prosecution practices work in order to stop this stuff.
And, in the meantime, we’ve also got to change hearts and minds. Dr. King once said, when he was asking about anti-lynching legislation -- somebody said, well, you can’t change what’s in the hearts and minds of the white folks in the South, you can’t legislate what’s in their hearts. He said, well, you can’t legislate what’s in their hearts but, I tell you what, if you can just stop them from lynching me, that’s progress. That’s a pretty good thing. And over time, hearts and minds catch up with laws. That’s been the history of progress in this country.
Ms. McDonald has more today.
Glenn linked to this days ago but the "Peak Left" essay by Walter Russell Mead will be a perennial. An unfair use intro:
Next Up in America: The Liberal Retreat
The Obama administration may represent “Peak Left” in American politics. As a result, what we are getting from the left these days is a mix of bewilderment and anger as it realizes that this is as good as it gets.
As the United States staggers toward the seventh year of Barack Obama’s tenure in the White House, a growing disquiet permeates the ranks of the American left. After six years of the most liberal President since Jimmy Carter, the nation doesn’t seem to be asking for a second helping. Even though the multiyear rollout of Obamacare was carefully crafted to put all the popular features up front, delaying less popular changes into the far future, the program remains unpopular. Trust in the fairness and competence of government is pushing toward new lows in the polls, even though the government is now in the hands of forward-looking, progressive Democrats rather than antediluvian Gopers.
For liberals, these are bleak times of hollow victories (Obamacare) and tipping points that don’t tip. For examples of the latter, think of Sandy Hook, the horrific massacre in Connecticut that Democrats and liberals everywhere believed would finally push the American public toward gun control. Two years later, polls show more Americans than ever before think it’s more important to protect gun access than to promote gun control...
He also notes the IPCC climate change report that will not sway the Senate, the Ferguson/Garner protests that have ended in disaster, the UVA rape story that ended in debacle, the Senate torture report that left the public waterbored, and of course the multitude of foreign policy fails that were supposed to be avoided by embracing our allies and ending cowboy diplomacy. No mention of the likely immigration reform backlash, but that is more of an establishment fail than a purely progressive bellyflop.
Do read it all. And try to avoid Peak Schadenfreude (if you can, you're a better person than yours truly.)
Ta Nehesi-Coates has a terrific headline - "Blue Lives Matter" but he strikes a false note here in discussing the politics of police reform in the aftermath of the execution of two NYPD officers:
It was only a matter of time before some criminal shot a police officer in New York. If that's all it takes to turn Americans away from police reform, the efforts were likely doomed from the start.
"Only a matter of time"? Per the NY Times, the last officer killed in the line of duty was three years ago. The last officers assassinated for political reason were back in the early 70's when the Black Liberation Army gunned down two officers in 1971 and another two in 1972.
The idea that what happened this weekend in NY was in some sense "a matter of time" is certainly accurate in a mathematical sense; probability theory tells us that with enough opportunities the improbable becomes inevitable, but this quickly? Or if the argument is that Garner/Brown demonstrations in New York were clearly going to lead to this sort of violence in the near future (And it's hard to believe Mr. Nehesi-Coates meant that), then the failure of our notional leaders to dial back their rhetoric is even more stark.
But speaking of rhetoric, Conor Friedersdorf explains that it has all ben responsibe anyway, and that criticism of deBlasio, Holder and Obama is just meant to "squelch legitimate political debate by irrationally associating it with the deeds of a suicidal murderer."
And Howard Safir, a former NYPD commissioner, wrote this in Time: "When Ismaaiyl Abdulah Brinsley brutally executed Officers Ramos and Liu he did so in an atmosphere of permissiveness and anti-police rhetoric unlike any that I have seen in 45 years in law enforcement. The rhetoric this time is not from the usual suspects, but from the Mayor of New York City, the Attorney General of the United States, and even the President. It emboldens criminals and sends a message that every encounter a black person has with a police officer is one to be feared."
Notably, none of these intellectually dishonest statements quote or link to any actual rhetoric spoken by Mayor de Blasio, Eric Holder, or President Obama. That is because none of them has uttered so much as a single word that even hints that violently attacking a police officer, let alone murdering one, would be justified. Suggesting that their words are responsible for this murder is discrediting. Even the weaker claim that their words "embolden criminals" is absurd, both as a matter of logic and as a statement made amid historically low crime rates.
With regard to the particular crime of killing police officers, "the number of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty—that is, killed with felonious intent by a suspected criminal—plummeted to 27 in 2013, its lowest level in decades." That is the Obama/Holder record on this issue. We needn't speculate about whether their rhetoric has proved dangerous for police. We know that it has not.
So assaults on officers were low in 2013 and that proves that the post-Ferguson rhetoric of 2014 has not incited violence against the police? Let me write that down.
As to the notion that no professional politician has specifically called on his followers to gun down police officers, no kidding. But do our leaders have any impact at all on creating an atmosphere of distrust for the police? Here, for example, is Obama speaking to Black Entertainment Television, as summarized at the White House website:
While reiterating that the vast majority of America's law enforcement officers are doing their jobs well, the President also noted that some officers have received poor training, are in departments that tolerate sloppy police work, and have a subconscious fear of people that look different. All of this, he said, contributes to "a national problem that's going to require a national solution."
Now isn't the time for rhetoric, he said, but rather to figure out what works as far as police training, equipment, accountability measures, review systems, and prosecution practices. He also underlined the importance of changing people's hearts and minds, but noted that hearts and minds will catch up with the laws:
"Dr. King once said, when he was asked about anti-lynching legislation -- somebody said, "Well, you know, you can't change what's in the hearts and minds of the white folks in the South. You can't legislate what's in their hearts." He says, "Well, you can't legislate what's in their hearts, but I tell you what: If you can just stop them from lynching me, that's progress. That's a pretty good thing." And over time, hearts and minds catch up with laws. That's been the history of progress in this country."
Hmm. Normally quoting Dr. King is a safe play, but what is Obama saying here - that the police are the KKK and want to lynch black men? Or that even though some police will go on hating blacks, maybe we can prevent them from shooting blacks? Is that really helpful?
And if the police are the KKK, or hate blacks and want to kill them, is it really unreasonable for a black thug to engage in a bit of pre-emptive self-defense?
Conor Friedersdorf is a reasonable guy and would not hear Obama's words that way. But there is a known violent fringe on the radical left, so we ask - how do they hear these words?
Mr. Friedersdorf acknowldeges the existence of that fringe but may underestimate the reach of their message:
While the taboo against violent attacks on police officers is shared by literally every pundit I've come across, literally every elected official who has spoken on this subject, and the overwhelming majority of people who've taken to the streets to protest the killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, there are, in fact, documented examples of a tiny minority rejecting that norm, including the folks who took up the chant, "What do we want? Dead cops! When do we want it? Now!"
There's almost no chance that the chants in this unrepresentative protest motivated a killer from a different city to kill cops in New York.
Uh huh. And what is the betting line on whether the "Hands Up" rap video by Uncle Murda, which called for the execution of cops and surely reached Philadelphia, also made it by way of the internet all the way to Baltimore? Or from a different angle, just why did the shooter seem to think people might care or approve his plan to kill some cops in revenge for Garner and Brown? Was that really just the pure, independent creation of a sick mind?
And what inspired this guy?
Federal prosecutors have charged a Kirkland man with making interstate threats against the life of former Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson and his family.
Jaleel Tariq Abdul-Jabbaar, 46, is identified as a convicted felon with drug and firearms-related convictions who is accused to trying to purchase a firearm over Facebook, telling the seller that he was “going to Ferguson. Can you just sit back and do nothing. White motha (expletive) killing us like our lives ain’t (expletive).”
He was arrested Tuesday morning at his home, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle.
All too often when our friends on the left stage a protest it turns violent. At which point, we hear explanations about how it was hijacked by a radical fringe and we are all supposed to be surprised.
Maybe one day these leaders on the left will achieve a better understanding of their base.
MORE: Collective guilt - in MediaWorld it's only for conservatives! Meanwhile, the left is all about group identity and group politics until there is blame to be assigned.
I don't know how I didn't know this:
Yankees will pay for education of children of NYPD cop Rafael Ramos who was killed while on duty Saturday
George Steinbrenner's Yankee Silver Shield Foundation has, for 32 years, provided for the education of the children of New York City cops, firefighters and Port Authority employees who were killed in the line.
Yankee owner George Steinbrenner died in 2010, but his appreciation for the men and women in blue who protect New York City lives on.
For 32 years, Steinbrenner's Yankee Silver Shield Foundation has provided for the education of the children of New York City police officers, firemen and Port Authority employees who died in the line of duty, and will do so for the family of NYPD officer Rafael Ramos, gunned down by a cold-blooded killer Saturday along with his partner, Wenjian Liu.
The foundation will pay for the education of Ramos' son, 13-year-old Jaden, and another son, Justin, who attends Bowdoin College in Maine.
Liu, who was recently married, had no children.
Steinbrenner started his foundation in 1982 after seeing a news account of four children flanking their mother and folding an American flag at the funeral of their father, an NYPD officer who had been killed in the line of duty.
The foundation, now run by Fuchs' daughter Casey, has paid for the educations of thousands of children of fallen NYPD, FDNY, state police and Port Authority workers in the tri-state area, as well as 700 children who lost a parent in the terrorists attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
This is torn from yesterday's headlines:
Rap Video Under Fire For Encouraging Cop Killing
Posted: Dec 16, 2014 9:54 AM EST
Bronx, New York (My9NJ) -
The rap video "Hands Up!" featuring rappers Maino and Uncle Murda has gone viral, but it's the videos message that has many people up in arms. The video basically encourages people to kill police officers in retribution to what happened to Michael Brown and Eric Garner. The video portrays the recurring image of an actor dressed as a police officer with two guns pointed at his head, and some of the lyrics even encourage that type of behavior.
"For Mike Brown and Sean Bell, a cop gotta be killed," the song says.
The Police Benevolent Association, also known as the police union, said they're going to forward the video to local police who will open an investigation and possible bring charges against those responsible for promoting this video. Part of the statement they issued said:
“This video goes well beyond the parameters for protected speech and constitutes a serious threat to the lives of police officers.”
Don't be waiting for the NY Times coverage - two cops dead in their city following a "kill some cops" video filmed in their city? Nothing to see here...
The executioner of the two NYPD officers is apparently a particularly unstable part of the Al Shaprton/Mayor deBlasio base, but for them to pretend that fringe doesn't exist is problematic. Not to say fatal.
Taxpayers pay their salaries — but that hasn’t stopped two Bronx public defenders from appearing in a vile online rap video that urges black people to kill NYPD cops.
The sickening video, for a rap called “Hands Up,” shows black men holding guns to cops’ heads and features the disgusting lyric, “For Mike Brown and Sean Bell, a cop got to get killed.”
The video also shows a grieving mother walking into The Bronx Defenders office on 161st Street, where she is comforted by one of the lawyers.
The attorneys’ participation left cops furious. The Bronx Defenders organization has pulled in more than $40 million in city funding in the past two years.
“It’s reprehensible that the city and its taxpayers are essentially supporting a video that encourages the idea of shooting police officers,” said a police source.
We know that the big media such as ABC News will be all over this rap video, just as they were all over the Sarah Palin crosshairs debate following the shooting of Congresswoman GAbby Giffords. A reprise:
Sarah Palin's 'Crosshairs' Ad Dominates Gabrielle Giffords Debate
And the NY Times had multiple stories on the Palin connection. Imagine my surprise.
That was then, with a different narrative.
And do let's expect more coverage of the chanting at Al Sharpton's recent "Million Marchers" protest in NYC; from NBC News:
In a triumph of free speech and creative expression two NYPD police officers were executed while eating lunch in their patrol car. Per the NY Post, investigators believe there is a connection to Ferguson and Eric Garner:
The tragic heroes were working overtime as part of an anti-terrorism drill when they were shot point-blank in their heads by the lone gunman, who approached them on foot from the sidewalk at the corner of Myrtle and Tompkins avenues in Bed-Stuy.
“I’m Putting Wings on Pigs Today,” a person believed to be the gunman wrote on Instagram in a message posted just three hours before the officers were shot through their front passenger window.
The post included an image of silver automatic handgun with a wooden handle. Another post showed camouflage pants and blue sneakers which matched the clothing the dead gunman was wearing as his body was carried from the scene on a stretcher.
“They Take 1 Of Ours … Let’s Take 2 of Theirs,” the post continued, signing off with, “This May Be My Final Post.”
The gunman was a fugitive who had just murdered his girlfriend in Baltimore Saturday morning, sources told The Post.
Minutes after shooting the two officers, he, too, was dead.
And the creative expression connection? This is from the NY Post a mere week ago:
Public defenders appear in ‘kill cops’ rap video
Taxpayers pay their salaries — but that hasn’t stopped two Bronx public defenders from appearing in a vile online rap video that urges black people to kill NYPD cops.
The sickening video, for a rap called “Hands Up,” shows black men holding guns to cops’ heads and features the disgusting lyric, “For Mike Brown and Sean Bell, a cop got to get killed.”
More respectful coversage can be found at NY1:
Brooklyn Rappers Release Video Inspired By 'Hands Up' Protest Chant
Two Brooklyn rappers released a powerful rap video and message about the state of police and community relations around the country.
Rappers Uncle Murda and Maino say they had to use their voices to address the issue.
"I thought that it was a great opportunity to speak about the things the way we see it. You know? You can't ignore what’s happening,” said Maino.
"You can just expect a positive message from this, man. And it’s just real music speaking on real events. And it’s things that people really need to hear,” said Uncle Murda.
A positive message? Here we go:
The music video shows a montage of news stories of officers shooting or beating people. Later in the video, Uncle Murda portrays Eric Garner being choked by an officer.
The video does have controversial images of the two rappers holding a gun to a NYPD officer's head, but they say that's only to ask the question, ‘What if people decided to go that way instead of just protesting?’
"It was like you know what, it is time to make a record. And not so much of a negative record where we're talking about, ‘Yeah let's go kill the police or do something like that.’ But, let's just talk about what happened and what needs to happen. Change needs to happen,” said Uncle Murda.
Wow. What would a negative message have been?
And since you ask, down in the City of Brotherly Love the positive message was lost:
From the text:
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Some city officials are upset over a photo posted to Instagram by a West Philadelphia paramedic, showing two black men pointing a gun at a police officer and describing police as “the enemy.”
The post, which has people upset within the Philadelphia Police Department, states “Our real enemy… need 2 stop pointing guns at each other & at the ones that’s legally killing innocents.”
People just don't have an appreciation for raw, street-real art.
And as to the already raw relationship between Mayor deBlasio and the NYPD, this can only increase the estrangement. Spend enough time telling people that the police are racist thugs and some nutcases will emerge to treat them like racist thugs.
LET ME NOTE: The race of the shooter is not being widely reported, and why should it be? There is no chance it is relevant to the story. In some Progressive Fantasyland.
UPDATE: The Daily News picks up on the Instagram story and adds a name:
Two NYPD officers dead in 'ambush' while sitting in patrol car in Brooklyn by gunman who earlier boasted on Instagram about killing cops (GRAPHIC IMAGES)
Ismaaiyl Brinsley fired at the officers in their squad car outside of the Tompkins Houses in Bedford-Stuyvesant sources said. Hours earlier, Brinsley reportedly shot his girlfriend in Baltimore and boasted in social media about wanting to kill cops. Both officers later died at Woodhull Hospital.
"Heavy" provides 5 fast facts, including what looks like a Facebook selfie. If this is accurate he is black and reportedly speaks a bit of Arabic, so no doubt Eric Holder will open an investigation into right-wing hate groups.
Jim Treacher rehashes Hillarity!'s contribution to rape culture. And yes, Hillarity! provides the laugh track herself (e.g., at 1:50). Har de har.
As to the standard "even criminals deserve a defense", of course they do, but shouldn't a defense lawyer committed to the "believe the victim" notion disqualify herself? Not every lawyer will take any case.
HOW CAN YOU TELL WHEN HILLARITY! IS LYING MISREMEMBERING?
Not to go all fact-checky on a 1975 case Hillarity! was chuckling about in a mid-80's interview, but this puzzle has me stumped:
Can we play Name That Expert? Not with much success. Karl Landsteiner won the Nobel Prize in 1930 for "for his discovery of human blood groups". Unfortunately he died of a heart attack in 1943 at age 75, so unless Hillarity! was consulting her expert witness by way of a Ouija board he can't be the guy.
As to other Nobel winners, none leap off the list as authorities in blood typing. But maybe someone won a Nobel for something else and later became a blood specialist? "Sloan-Kettering or some place up there" is not exactly definitive, either.
MORE: If I had to bet, the guy won a American Society of Hematologists award. Specifically, the E. Donnall Thomas Lecture and Prize is named after the late Nobel Prize Laureate and past Society president E. Donnall Thomas, MD.
Or Hillarity! is confused.
We eagerly await the all-ethnic, all-gay, and all-Islamic press conferences (some of which might be shorter than usual).
It must be a thrill to be selected by the President on the basis of merit and hard work. Or was Obama displaying some sort of solidarity among affirmative action hires?
Sean Penn spouts off on the decision by Sony (or the movie distributors) to pull "The Interview":
This week, the distributors who wouldn't show The Interview and Sony have sent ISIS a commanding invitation. I believe ISIS will accept the invitation. Pandora's box is officially open.
Right. On Wednesday ISIS didn't want to attack the US but on Friday they do. We have been bombing ISIS for months without waking them up but now that a movie has been pulled ISIS will realize that counter-attacking the US might advance their agenda.
If ISIS is that slow on the uptake we have nothing to worry about.
Joe Nocera of the Times lambastes Andrew Cuomo's No to fracking and Yes to casinos. Why he bothers to bring facts and logic to a progressive feel-good fest is a mystery, but here are some snippets:
Anyone who cares about the economic viability of New York State should be troubled by these two decisions. It is fracking — despite risks — that has the potential to boost struggling communities, by providing well-paying, middle-class jobs. Casinos, meanwhile, are a road to nowhere. The Cuomo administration got it exactly backward.
Let’s look at the gambling industry first. Although Albany appears not to have noticed, the industry is in deep trouble, especially in the Northeast, which is saturated with casinos. Four Atlantic City casinos have shut down this year. The second-largest casino in Atlantic City, the Taj Mahal, is staying open only because of a cash infusion by Carl Icahn, the financier. Both of the American Indian-run casinos in Connecticut are flirting with bankruptcy. Meanwhile, New Jersey and Massachusetts have plans to build yet more casinos.
“He’s 15 years too late,” the longtime gambling analyst Harold Vogel told The Times in August, referring to Cuomo’s plans.
And on fracking:
Is fracking completely safe? Of course not. But it is worth pointing out that many of the scientific studies examined by New York State are not so much damning as they are inconclusive. There is still much science to be done. The industry needs to be more transparent. States and the federal government need to make sure fracking is regulated properly. All true.
But very little in life is completely safe. Instead of banning fracking, New York could have established a pilot program to see if it could safely regulate fracking, as other states are trying to do, and at least give people some hope. In rejecting fracking, Zucker said that he was guided by whether he would let his family live near fracking. “The answer is no,” he said. Long-term unemployment is also a scourge families would like to avoid.
It is not necessarily consistent with the Earnest Progressive governing philosophy to ban fracking - a plausible progressive approach would be to approve fracking subject to the creation of a huge state regulatory oversight apparatus (with union jobs!) enforcing a library of rules and collecting campaign donations at every turn of the screw. Just thinking out loud.
President Anti-Midas puts his foot in in again at his Friday press conference with his "Call Me" plaint about Sony:
Obama: Sony made a mistake by pulling 'The Interview'
He added that he wished "they'd spoken to me first," so he could tell them not to set a bad precedent by caving into hackers' threats. He explained that this could eventually lead to self-censorship if the media did not want to offend "somebody whose sensibilities probably need to be offended."
Hmm. Given the ubiquity of Hollywood donors one might have thought Sony could get through to the White House. And guess what? Per the Sony president, they did:
In a later teaser [to an upcoming intervoew with Fareed Zakaria of CNN], Lynton reacted to Obama's comment that he wished Sony had reached out to them. "We definitely spoke to a senior advisor in the White House to talk about the situation. The fact is, did we talk to the president himself? ... The White House was certainly aware of the situation." (Even CNN's on-air anchor described that answer as "muddled.")
Let us reason together. What are the odds that the White House was aware of a terrorist threat apparently traceable to North Korea, and had talked to Sony executives about it? One might think the odds were pretty good. But why wonder, when we have White House spokesguy Josh Earnest as a reliable source? This is from a Dec 18 press briefing, my emphasis:
Q Does the White House believe that North Korea is behind the hack at Sony Pictures?
MR. EARNEST: Nedra, this is a matter that is still under investigation both by the FBI and the National Security Division of the Department of Justice....
There is evidence to indicate that we have seen destructive activity with malicious intent that was initiated by a sophisticated actor. And it is being treated by those investigative agencies, both at the FBI and the Department of Justice, as seriously as you would expect. It has also been the subject of a number of daily meetings that have been convened here at the White House that have been led by both the President’s Homeland Security Advisor and occasionally by his cyber coordinator. This includes senior members of our intelligence community and homeland security officials, military, diplomatic, and law enforcement officials as well.
Is it possible that daily meetings and a major investigation unfolded with no contact with senior Sony executives? Or is it possible that once again, Obama is revealed as lacking in executive energy and the left hand didn't know what the far left hand was doing?
AllahPundit has more on our history of caving in to accomodating Muslim ire and includes this on "Call Me":
But if [Obama] was that hot to see the movie open, why didn’t he call Sony himself and offer FBI protection at a limited number of theaters to entice the company into giving it a limited release? Why not conference in the governors of California, New York, Texas, Florida and a few other states and coordinate state police protection for theaters in L.A., New York, etc? If he cared that much, he could have picked up the phone.
If Obama had been raising money for a campaign he surely would have been able to find a phone.
MONEY TALKS, BUT WHO WALKED?: Sony get the heat for pulling the film, but their basic point is that they don't own the theatre chains that declined to distribute it. So who really folded? And of course, one sticking point was undoubtedly indemnification and/or compensation for increased security - who pays for that, Sony or the movie chains?
Jim Geraghty finds a target-rich environment with this Bloomberg headline:
A US over-reaction. Un huh. C'mon, Obama locked up a filmmaker who irritated the Muslims.
I think Team Bloomberg forgot the hastag: #IllRideWithKimJongUn
BoingBoing is livetweeting Obama's press conference. These two are hilarious:
Obama: What if producers self-censor because they don't want to offend the sensibilities of someone whose sensibilities should be offended.
Like, just thinking out loud, Muslims?
Obama: I wish Sony had spoken to be first. I'd have told them, do not get into a pattern where you're intimidated by these kinds of attacks.
What BoingBoing omitted: "The Sony people agreed that Obama would be perfect for their next comedy". Meanwhile Michelle is busy working on her pouty face and getting behind the #BringBackOurComedy social media barrage.
Matthew Continetti published this today and has already been overtaken by events:
A Dictator’s Best Friend
Cuba is but the latest example of this president’s failing to exercise leverage in the pursuit of American strength and security and prestige.
It's not the latest anymore.
The NY Times front-pages this bit of news-to-nobody:
Lawyers Create Big Paydays by Coaxing Attorneys General to Sue
No kidding. To his credit, Eric Lipton of the Times evens includes on the front page the grim truth:
The partnership is part of a flourishing industry that pairs plaintiffs’ lawyers with state attorneys general to sue companies, a collaboration that has set off a furious competition between trial lawyers and corporate lobbyists to influence these officials.
Much as big industries have found natural allies in Republican attorneys general to combat federal regulations, plaintiffs’ lawyers working on a contingency-fee basis have teamed up mostly with Democratic state attorneys general to file hundreds of lawsuits against businesses that make anything from pharmaceuticals to snack foods.
A few Republican Attorneys General are involved (Louisiana gets a mention) but this is mostly a Democratic law enforcement/fundraising scheme.
The lawsuits follow a pattern: Private lawyers, who scour the news media and public records looking for potential cases in which a state or its consumers have been harmed, approach attorneys general. The attorneys general hire the private firms to do the necessary work, with the understanding that the firms will front most of the cost of the investigation and the litigation. The firms take a fee, typically 20 percent, and the state takes the rest of any money won from the defendants.
While prospecting for contracts, the private lawyers have also donated tens of thousands of dollars to campaigns of individual attorneys general, as well as party-backed organizations that they run. The donations often come in large chunks just before or after the firms sign contracts to represent the state, campaign finance records and more than 240 contracts examined by The Times show.
If you are thinking "This can't be new", well, it's not. But apparently it has escalated:
“This has gotten out of hand,” said Scott Harshbarger, a Democrat who was the attorney general of Massachusetts in the 1990s, when this practice first burst into prominence as a result of the litigation against tobacco companies. “And it seriously threatens the perception of integrity and professionalism of the office, as it raises the question of whether attorneys are taking up these cases because they are important public matters, or they are being driven more by potential for private financial gain.”
And so it goes.
Interestingly, the Times does not make an obvious Federal connection that is closer to home:
U.S. Plans to Sue New York Over Rikers Island Conditions
Eric Holder is suing progressive darling Bill deBlasio? Sure, and I have no doubt it's all in good fun. De Blasio will have a much easier time finding the money to fix Rikers if he can point to a court order. Political cover courtesy of his friendly AG.
In an interview with People magazine, Mrs. Obama recalled a trip to Target during which “the only person who came up to me in the store was a woman who asked me to help her take something off a shelf. Because she didn’t see me as the first lady, she saw me as someone who could help her. Those kinds of things happen in life. So it isn’t anything new.”
Could the Target shopper who asked Mrs. Obama for help simply not have recognized her and needed, presumably, a taller person’s assistance? Sure, in theory. Or could the encounter have been disdainful and presumptuous, a manifestation of some inherent bias? Sure, that too could have been the case.
Could there have been some combination of those forces at play? Also possible.
The truth is, we don’t know. The lady asking for help might not even know. We are not always aware of our biases, let alone are we always able to articulate them. And people can sometimes be hypersensitive to bias when they are submerged in it.
All we know is that Mrs. Obama questions the encounter and has misgivings about it. For her, it’s a feeling. Others might hear this story and feel that Mrs. Obama possibly overreacted or misconstrued the meaning of the request.
Evidently Mr. Blow does not read any right-wing sites or trouble himself with Google, but we can help. There are answers to some of Mr. Blow's questions in Mrs. Obama's description of the same incident to David Letterman in 2012:
"That’s my Target run. I went to Target," she said. "I thought I was undercover. I have to tell you something about this trip though. No one knew that was me because a woman actually walked up to me, right? I was in the detergent aisle, and she said — I kid you not — she said, ‘Excuse me, I just have to ask you something,’ and I thought, ‘Oh, cover’s blown.’ She said, ‘Can you reach on that shelf and hand me the detergent?’ I kid you not.”
As the audience laughed, she went on, “And the only thing she said — I reached up, ’cause she was short, and I reached up, pulled it down — she said, ‘Well, you didn’t have to make it look so easy.’ That was my interaction. I felt so good. ... She had no idea who I was.
So, there is no "presumably" about it - per Mrs. Obama, the woman was short.
Does Mrs. Obama describe the encounter as "disdainful and presumptuous"? Hardly.
Did Mrs. Obama have "misgivings" about the encounter? I suppose it depends on the meaning of "I felt so good", but a reasonable guess is she didn't have a problem with the incident at the time and later considered it to be an amusing anecdote for Letterman. Of course, people with PTSD can say all sorts of things...
Which leaves us where? Perhaps PEOPLE took her comments out of context - maybe she was responding to her husband's stories about being mistaken for a valet or a waiter with the obeservation that sometimes people get mistaken for the help and its No Big Deal. Yes, it's hard to square that with the presentation of the PEOPLE excerpt, but maybe the transcript will reveal yet another agenda-driven reporter in action.
Or (my guess!) Mr. Blow is being a bit trusting and naive here:
All we know is that Mrs. Obama questions the encounter and has misgivings about it. For her, it’s a feeling.
Well, we know that at one time Mrs. Obama did not seem to question the incident. We also know that she and her husband are under pressure to rally to a particular side in the "Hands Up", "I Can't Breathe" controversies. So it is possible she has re-purposed a once-amusing anecdote into a tale of our nation's legacy of slavery because it suits the current political climate.
QUESTIONS HE WILL NEVER ASK OR ANSWER:
Mr. Blow delves into social science and delivers an amusing aside here:
These [pro white/ anti-black] biases were also strongest among those 65 and older, although those 18 to 24 ranked second among the age groups (this strand of bias among college aged people deserves its own study).
I have not performed or attempted to locate such a study of our nation's youth, but I have met a number of survivors of the college admission process. A near-universal observation made by this cream of America's young crop is this - it's a hell of a lot easier to walk into the school of your choice if your black.
Whether this makes them "anti-black" I don't know, but I don't know just what survey responses lead to an "anti-black" score, either.
IDIOM FAIL: "Cream of the crop" is being put down as a failed idiom on my scorecard. Cream rises in, for example, a butter urn; it is hardly a "crop". Help me out - is there any crop that results in cream, or am I right to think that people have been abusing this image for too long? (Spoiler Alert: Google can be such a party-pooper, even when the party is only in my own head.) Well, I won't be crying over spilled milk.
HE MUST BE THE OTHER GUY: Charles Blow explains to CNN that he, too, is harrased "all the time" in stores by racist whites who seem to think he is a store employee. We may have videotape of one such encounter.
Just in time for your New Year's Resolutions: the Just One Minute exercise plan.
Seriously. Here is Gretchen Reynolds of the Times:
Got a Minute? Let’s Work Out
For years, I’ve been writing about the benefits of short bursts of exercise. Studies and anecdotes suggest that 10 minutes, seven minutes, six minutes, or even four minutes of very hard exercise interspersed with periods of rest can lead to a robust improvement in fitness.
But I suspect that this column is the least amount of exercise I will ever write about.
According to a lovely new study, a single minute of intense exercise, embedded within an otherwise easy 10-minute workout, can improve fitness and health.
Just one minute.
Yeah! And think of the time that will free up to read up on Jackie and the Rolling Stone.
Martin Gibala, a professor of kinesiology at McMaster University in Ontario wondered, "how low could someone go in terms of time and still gain health and fitness benefits?"
To find out, the McMaster researchers recruited a group of 14 sedentary and overweight but otherwise healthy men and women....
They invited the volunteers to the lab, where researchers took muscle biopsies and measured their aerobic endurance, blood pressures and blood sugar levels.
Then they asked the volunteers to complete a truly time-efficient, interval-training program using computerized stationary bicycles. Each session consisted of three 20-second “all-out” intervals, during which riders pushed the pedals absolutely as hard as they could manage, followed by two minutes of slow, easy pedaling. The riders also warmed up for two minutes and cooled down for three, for a grand total of 10 minutes of total exercise time, with one minute of that being the intense interval training.
The volunteers completed three of these sessions per week, leading to 30 minutes of weekly exercise, for six weeks.
Then they returned to the lab to be retested.
Their bodies were, it turned out, quite different now. The men and women had increased their endurance capacity by an average of 12 percent, a significant improvement. They also, as a group, had healthier blood pressures and higher levels within their muscles of certain biochemical substances that increase the number and activity of mitochondria. Mitochondria are the energy powerhouses of cells, so more mitochondria mean better endurance and fitness.
Interestingly, the male volunteers also had significantly improved their blood-sugar control, but the female volunteers had not. The researchers suspect that fundamental differences in how the genders burn sugar or fat to fuel exercise might affect how each responds to some aspects of interval training.
In the meantime, the message from the study that most of us will grasp at is, of course, that one minute of exercise is all you need. But Dr. Gibala would like people to remember that 10 minutes of overall exercise time is involved for a total of 30 minutes per week.
We write of missing persons and undropped shoes. Back in the first big expose of the Rolling Stone story on Dec 5, T Rees Shapiro had an inconclusive report about alleged assailant that kind of matched the second name revealed by Jackie to her current friends:
The friends said that details of the attack have changed over time and that they have not been able to verify key points in recent days. For example, an alleged attacker that Jackie identified to them for the first time this week — a junior in 2012 who worked with her as a university lifeguard — was actually the name of a student who belongs to a different fraternity, and no one by that name has been a member of Phi Kappa Psi.
Reached by phone, that man, a U-Va. graduate, said Friday that he worked at the Aquatic and Fitness Center and was familiar with Jackie’s name. But he added that he never met Jackie in person and never took her out on a date. He also said he was not a member of Phi Kappa Psi.
He denied it? No kidding.
In the ensuing ten days we have seen voluminous coverage (led by Mr. Shapiro, Pulitzer Prize front-runner) of Jackie's catfishing deception of her three freshmen friends, presumably intended to make 'Randall' jealous.
Which takes us where? Well, it establishes that Jackie was certainly inclined towards elaborate deceptions, which does not enhance her credibility as to the gang sex assault allegation.
But ten days later, Mr. Shapiro and the WaPo have yet to report that the Pool Guy's alibi and explanations are clear and convincing. Now, the Pool Guy has no obligation to demonstrate his innocence to the Washington Post or anyone else; even at trial, if that day comes, it is the burden of the prosecutor to prove his guilt.
But the WaPo surely feels an obligation to its readers, yes? I can't believe they have just accepted his denial at face value and moved on to other elements of the story.
Which suggests (to this fevered mind, with Pool Guy related speculation here) that the WaPo has not been able to verify his non-involvement. Jakckie seems to have lawyered up and is probably no longer a helpful source. But has Pool Guy also lawyered up? If he has, and is no longer talking to the press, would the WaPo report that, or does that skate too close to a defamation line?
Or maybe it is simply the holiday season, Pool Guy is busy, and on this one angle Mr. Shapiro is stuck in "nothing new" limbo.
Time May Tell.
Walter Russell Mead explains why the Cuban leadership wants to go slow on normalization and believes the new Republican Congress is a useful counterweight to Obama:
They understand—nobody better—that many of the provisions of the embargo have been enacted into law by Congress, and despite an evolving consensus on the right that the Cuban embargo has passed its sell-by date, the new Congress is unlikely to go very far very fast in dismantling the complicated legal limits on economic relations.
That’s a good thing from a Cuban point of view, not a bad one. The Castro government isn’t dying to have hundreds of thousands of well-heeled Cuban-Americans descending on Havana and buying the island back as foreign investors. Fidel and Raul have never wanted a total end to the embargo; they have understood for decades that the embargo acts to protect their socialist experiment. If the U.S. repealed the embargo, the Cuban government would have to choose between two unattractive courses. It could move toward normal and open economic relations with the United States, swamping its underdeveloped and scrawny local economy with gringo dollars and influence (with Miami Cubans leading the charge), or it would have to enact a tight set of regulations aimed at keeping American and Cuban American money and investors from overwhelming the island. That would make it crystal clear to every Cuban citizen that the Cuban government needs to keep the island isolated and poor in order to protect its grip on power.
Cuba’s strategic objective has always been to keep the embargo up and to make the embargo look like America’s fault.
Barack and Michelle tell their stories of oppression to People Magazine:
The protective bubble that comes with the presidency – the armored limo, the Secret Service detail, the White House – shields Barack and Michelle Obama from a lot of unpleasantness. But their encounters with racial prejudice aren't as far in the past as one might expect. And they obviously still sting.
The First Whinger leads off:
"I tell this story – I mean, even as the first lady – during that wonderfully publicized trip I took to Target, not highly disguised, the only person who came up to me in the store was a woman who asked me to help her take something off a shelf. Because she didn't see me as the first lady, she saw me as someone who could help her. Those kinds of things happen in life. So it isn't anything new."
Micro-aggression! Actually, this might be a nano-aggression, or even a non-agression. Two pictures are worth two thousand words:
Michelle at Target (Trigger alert! Possibly NSFL):
And Target retail employees:
Anyone who mistook Michelle's outfit for that of a Target employee is, well, alternatively enabled and should be treated with a bit more sympathy. #FloralPrintIsNotTheNewRed.
A different explanation is that somebody mistook Michelle for someone who was tall, athletic, and happy to help. And hey, two out of three ain't bad. I throw out that theory, bizarre as it may seem to some, because from time to time women ask me to help them get something down from a tall shelf in a store. Hmm, maybe I look Irish and they think there is a railroad track I ought to be putting down somewhere? Well, then, the next senior citizen to look to me for help will be getting a lecture on American history!
I try to find a fresh perspective each day.
"That’s my Target run. I went to Target," she said. "I thought I was undercover. I have to tell you something about this trip though. No one knew that was me because a woman actually walked up to me, right? I was in the detergent aisle, and she said — I kid you not — she said, ‘Excuse me, I just have to ask you something,’ and I thought, ‘Oh, cover’s blown.’ She said, ‘Can you reach on that shelf and hand me the detergent?’ I kid you not.”
As the audience laughed, she went on, “And the only thing she said — I reached up, ’cause she was short, and I reached up, pulled it down — she said, ‘Well, you didn’t have to make it look so easy.’ That was my interaction. I felt so good. ... She had no idea who I was. I thought, as soon as she walked up — I was with my assistant, and I said, ‘This is it, it’s over. We’re going to have to leave.’ She just needed the detergent.”
It was only later she realized she had been the target of a micro-aggression. PTSD can do that to people.
PILING ON: Susan Goldberg beat me to this and countered Michelle with a horrifying tale of anti-Semitism on the mean streets of... well, it's mean retail check-out lines actually, so let's get to it:
The other day I walked into the Hallmark store to buy some cards. As the cashier rung me up, she analyzed my coupon and informed me I’d have to buy a Christmas ornament if I wanted to use the coupon. “I don’t need an ornament,” I explained, “I’m Jewish.” She gave me a quizzical look, as if totally unable to comprehend the idea of a Jew shopping in Hallmark during the holidays. While I didn’t feel the need to make a racial incident out of it at the time, I now know my story is worth big bucks… perhaps it’s time to give People a call.
AllahP checks in:
What’s especially weird about this is that she and O obviously gave this interview to People mag to do damage control after the Michael Brown and Eric Garner grand jury decisions. Obama’s been knocked by black voters for not taking more of a stand so now he’s handing a lengthy chat on racism to a general interest publication, to try to reach beyond the political class and connect with the wider electorate. If you’re going to do that, though, logically you’d want to come to People armed with your most harrowing experiences of racism. Somehow, “she asked me to get detergent off the shelf” made the cut. Um, why?
Not all questions have answers, but "she is a knucklehead and a whinger" springs to mind. Or maybe Valerie Jarrett was not in the meeting to stifle her?
THE ACE OPENS UP:
This is an odd thing. I actually live in fear of asking someone for help at Target who doesn't work at Target. I have a phobia about asking someone where the vitamins are, only to have him turn angrily on me and announce, "Just because I'm wearing a jazzy red polo shirt and loose-fit khakis, does that mean you own me??!"
So I kind of don't ask people, unless I see someone else asking them. Or I see them stocking stuff.
But you can get into trouble that way, too. Because if you ask the guy stocking the Coke where the bacon is, he might go, "I don't work here, I work for the Coca-Cola distributing company. And go fuck yourself for that insult, Sirrah!"
Anyway, not making this up, I really do have a phobia about this.
He has overcome this, or learned to manage it, but there are no spoilers here.
Memeorandum is alight.
FROM A DIFFERENT MULTIVERSE: Jimmyk in the comments reports from an Alternative Reality:
"So there I was in Target, a 5'11" lady, and there was a white lady around 5' tall, struggling to get something off a high shelf. And she wouldn't even ask me for help, as if she didn't want my black skin touching her merchandise!"
The Sony mess with The Interview escalates yet again:
Seth Rogen & James Franco Cancel Press Appearances Following Threats Against 'The Interview'
Several people briefed on Sony’s internal discussions on Tuesday said the studio was not withdrawing the film but had told theater owners that it would not object if they canceled or avoided booking “The Interview.” Those people spoke on condition of anonymity. Theater owners have been particularly pressed by the operators of malls and stores within them to avoid the film, two of those people said.
But a broad threat of theater violence, following a sustained attack on Sony’s digital existence, is also without precedent, and opens a new range of worry for Hollywood.
As Sony and exhibitors spoke in a 2 p.m. conference call on Tuesday, they faced the concerns of competing studios, whose important holiday films will be playing side-by-side with “The Interview” in multiplexes nationwide.
A further complication is a general reluctance, even after the 2012 mass shooting at an Aurora, Colo., theater, to visibly increase security, which might create an impression that multiplexes in general are not safe and might complicate dealings with their own insurers.
I don't know why a multiplex would imperil its box-office across the board by running this film. What, we are now supposed to stand tall in defense of Seth Rogen's right to make sophomoric humor? Well, easy for me to say - I was never in the target demographic and had no intention of seeing the film.
And North Korea? I would have bet that this sort of terrorism would have been associated with our Islamic friends, although Hollywood knows enough to steer away from that minefield (Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh died for his art). A Times refresher:
It is not unusual for studios to face threats for planned releases. In 2012, Sony was peppered with less specific threats related to “Zero Dark Thirty,” about the killing of Osama bin Laden. It opened largely without incident. Universal Pictures in 1988 was besieged by angry protesters when it released Martin Scorsese’s “The Last Temptation of Christ,” with its depiction of an earthy Jesus; more than a dozen people were injured when Christian opponents of the film firebombed a Paris theater showing the movie.
There may be a light at the end of the tunnel with the Rolling Stone/'Jackie' story, but as more details emerge the darkness is gathering. Remember how Jackie's three friends were texting back and forth with her mysterious beau, a junior from chemistry class seemingly invented to incite Randall's jealousy?
Three friends of the alleged University of Virginia rape victim are growing more skeptical about her account, saying they have doubts about information she gave them and why she belatedly tried to get herself deleted from the Rolling Stone article that engulfed their campus in controversy.
The friends say among their concerns is the fact that the woman, named only as “Jackie” in the article, gave them a cellphone number so they could text a man she said she was seeing around the time she alleged she was gang-raped at a fraternity house.
Eventually, the friends ended up with three numbers for the man. All are registered to Internet services that enable people to text without cellphone numbers but also can be used to redirect calls to different numbers or engage in spoofing, according to multiple research databases checked by The Washington Times.
“That definitely raises some red flags,” Alex Stock, a University of Virginia junior and friend of Jackie, told The Times. “I think as more details come out I definitely feel a little more skeptical. This is all new territory for me. I’m not too technologically savvy.”
Uhh, he's not too savvy? He's a college kid! I am an Unfrozen Caveman blogger!
The friends say Jackie first gave them a cellphone number in fall 2012, shortly before they came to her aid when she reported she was gang-raped at a fraternity house. All four were freshmen at the time, striking up a friendship in their first weeks on campus.
Jackie told her friends that the number belonged to an upperclassman who courted her, and then lured her back to a college fraternity party where the gang-rape occurred.
The cellphone number, when matched through telephone databases, is an Internet phone number that came through on two of the friends’ phones with an Internet domain attached. Several database phone searches confirmed that Internet domain matches an Internet phone and SMS text service called Pinger.
Internet phone numbers enable the user to make calls or send SMS text messages to telephones from a computer or iPad while creating the appearance that they are coming from a real phone. They also let users create multiple, untraceable phone numbers for little or no cost while concealing their true identity.
The friends said they believed that Jackie may have had a crush on Mr. Duffin but that he was interested only in friendship, and that the mystery upperclassman entered the picture shortly afterward.
Mr. Duffin told The Times that Haven purportedly was texting from three numbers in total.
Mr. Duffin said Jackie gave him one cellphone number to text, but when he sent the first text, he received no response.
Instead, he received a response from a second phone number he did not recognize. The sender announced himself as Haven explaining that his phone was not working so he was texting from a friend’s phone.
Haven then said he would start texting from a third number that was his BlackBerry device, according to the friends.
Mr. Duffin said he eventually asked Haven for a photograph, which the upperclassman sent from the BlackBerry number. Last week, The Washington Post confirmed that the man depicted in that photograph never attended U.Va., but did go to high school with Jackie.
The Times called all three numbers supplied by the friends. The third ‘BlackBerry’ number was forwarded to a voice mail with a female voice asking the caller to leave a message, and the other two were “not in service.”
All three phone numbers were labeled as an “Internet Phone” on a database background check; two were labeled as “Pinger Internet Phone,” and the other from “Enflick Internet Phone,” services that allow users to send SMS text messages from a computer or iPad without having a phone number.
The BlackBerry number also came through on Mr. Duffin’s cellphone as a regular 10-digit phone number, but also ended with a suffix, @textfree.us, a domain address associated with Pinger.
On Pinger’s home page, the company writes, “Pinger gives you your own real phone number so you can call or SMS [text] any phone, even if they don’t have Pinger. Call or text from your phone, iPod, iPad or computer.” Another page says, “Free texting from the Web — get a free texting number, send free unlimited texts.”
Enflick Internet Phone’s home page says, “Our free app turns any WiFi enabled device into a phone.”
Pinger and Enflick did not respond to email messages seeking comment.
A while back I wrote that "Jackie is not a covert operator and the police will track the cell phone trails pretty quickly". I no longer stand by that speculation. But if the next plot twist is that the Rolling Stone outed a CIA operative, you read it here first!
DID I SAY 'WEIRDER'? Now the three amigos have provided a name for the FIB (Fake Internet Boyfriend): Haven Monahan, a name with no detectable internet footprint anywhere in this country outside of this story. But have people scoured Amazon for bodice-ripping heroes?
Aaron Blake at the WaPo:
That big CIA ‘torture’ report? Americans just shrugged.
Uh huh. But the day may come when we see the big report on Obama's drone war. It will be chock full of explanations as to why it is OK to accidentally but inevitably kill innocent civilians, women and children because capturing bad guys is legally impractical. And maybe then We the People will be outraged. But probably not.
That lack of real concern about what the CIA was doing is also reflected in the amount of interest in the story. While newspapers and broadcast news across the country devoted a huge amount of coverage to the Senate intelligence committee report last week, just 23 percent of Americans say they are following the story "very closely," while 50 percent are following it "not too closely" or "not at all." That ranks it behind the Ferguson/Eric Garner protests and stories about the U.S. economy.
I can just picture the hand-wringing that inspires in progressive circles: Worried about Ferguson? Great! But enough already with the tedious economy!
The Ace boldly goes where no man in his right mind has gone before, and comes back from his quick visit to Radical Feminism with word of the Latest Outrage OUTRAGE!
Fresh Off Their UVA Triumph, Radical Feminists Find Something New To Obsess Over
I'd tell you but you wouldn't believe me, so click the link.
Jackie's three friends still think there is plenty of room under the bus for her as well, so they continue to tell their story. The early version of the latest, from Matt Stroud of the AP:
Friends say they pushed UVA ‘Jackie’ to call cops
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Three friends of an alleged victim of a gang rape at a University of Virginia frat house told The Associated Press that a magazine article that used the woman’s attack to paint a picture of a culture of sexual violence on college campuses was wrong on a number of key points: most important that they didn’t encourage her to report the attack and that they were more concerned about their reputations than her well-being.
One of the friends, a 20-year-old, third-year student referred to as “Randall” in the Rolling Stone article but whose real name is Ryan Duffin, told the AP that not only did he encourage the alleged victim to go to police, but he started to dial 9-1-1 on his cellphone until she begged off saying she just wanted to go back to her dorm and go to sleep.
We know someone at Team AP is getting a bit confused. The early version of the scene is this:
As described in the Rolling Stone article, a distraught Jackie met her three friends at a picnic table in the shadows of the frat house and tearfully told them what had happened.
As described in the Rolling Stone article, a distraught Jackie met her three friends at a picnic table about a 20-minute walk from the frat house and tearfully told them what had happened.
Hmm, right the first time! Per the Rolling Stone, when they met "the Phi Kappa Psi house loomed behind them"; subsequently, the friends have said they met near a dorm, 20 minutes away, with Jackie sitting on a picnic table. It's a minor detail, but this next discrepancy is less minor. The early version ends like this, my emphasis:
Feeling hamstrung by Jackie’s refusal to go to authorities, Duffin said that days later he sought advice from his dorm’s resident assistant. Careful not to mention Jackie by name, so the RA wouldn’t be obligated to contact police, he said he asked if he should call police even though Jackie didn’t want him to. The RA told Duffin that he should encourage Jackie to talk with police, but that Duffin couldn’t force her to do so.
The RA, who asked not to be named, confirmed Duffin’s story to the AP.
In that telling, the RA becomes yet another kinda-contemporaneous witness to the fact that SOMETHING was brewing in Jackie's world in late September of 2012.
But several later versions I see on-line (e.g., The Daily Herald, UPDATED 12/15/2014 9:41AM) omit the final line. A simple formatting error that deleted the final line? Did a kinda-witness back out or never exist? Or have the wire services run short of pixels as year-end approaches?
DO KEEP IN MIND: The three apparently former friends are justifiably furious about their depiction in the Rolling Stones piece. But one of the few things we are sure of is that Stones "reporter" Sabrina Erdely was agenda-driven with this piece. It may be that Jackie said a hundred wonderful things about her former friends amongst a couple of catty comments but the catty comments worked for Erdely and her theme of entitlement, social striving and "rape culture" so here we are.
A possible clue is here:
However, Hendley told the AP that not only did she not say any of that, she had arrived with Stock to the picnic table only to have Jackie say she didn’t want her to be part of the conversation. She said she watched from afar while Stock and Duffin talked with Jackie.
Stock confirmed this account.
Jackie was only comfortable sharing her story of a hideous gang rape with two guys? 'Cause we're so sensitive? Or because girls have a better nose for another girl's BS? Or, keeping it simple, she just wasn't getting along with Cindy.
From ABC News:
Sydney Hostage Crisis Over After Police Storm Cafe With Stun Grenades
Police have declared the siege over in Sydney after armed officers stormed the chocolate shop at the center of a hostage crisis and hostages were seen fleeing amid the sound of explosions.
At 10:19 a.m. ET, a group of at least seven heavily armed police officers went into the Lindt cafe under the cover of loud bangs of what local news Channel 9 is calling stun grenades. Shortly after the police stormed the café, at least two hostages emerged, looking visibly shaken.
Weirdest sentence yet (my emphasis):
The suspect was identified as Man Monis, according to Australian news reports.
Monis is believed to be a self-proclaimed Islamic "sheikh" who is known to Australian police because he was allegedly involved in dozens of counts of sexual assault, according to Australia's 9News.
He was born in Iran as Manteghi Bourjerdi and migrated to Australia in 1996, according to the station.
Two people inside the cafe were seen holding up a flag with Arabic writing on it that has been used by extremists in the past -- raising fears that a terror attack was unfolding in Australia's largest city.
Meaning what - because the guy is an immigrant turned homegrown jihadist it was not a terror attack?
Well, reporters are banging on the keyboards under great pressure, so that may be edited away eventually.
Men who like spicier food are 'alpha males' with higher levels of testosterone, French report claims
French gourmets have traditionally shunned hot, spicy food – so they may be a little piqued by a study indicating that curry-loving men have higher testosterone.
Scientists at the highly-respected University of Grenoble have published a report suggesting that regular consumption of chili peppers may raise levels of the hormone, which is believed to make men more adventurous, enterprising and sexually active.
Laurent Begue, one of the authors of the study, said: "These results are in line with a lot of research showing a link between testosterone and financial, sexual and behavioural risk-taking."
The research paper, titled "Some Like It Hot", is to be published in the US-based journal "Physiology and Behavior".
Let me supply the Marilyn Monroe link. Now, let me just finish my omelette with onions, peppers and the aforementioned Tabasco and I'll have something for you ladies (if you can smell what I'm cookin...).
TFHE FUTURE IS NOW! First, the spice effect on testosterone is not new; a fun starting point is this AnabolicMen post noting a variety of spices which may boost testosterone.
And we aren't talking exclusively about men becoming Ahnold or women becoming East German swimmers. For ther ladies:
Turmeric is a yellow spice powder, most commonly used in curry.
It has been cited to be one of the world’s most healthiest foods, as it’s extremely high in bio-active antioxidants which provide the human body with a huge list of health benefits.
But the thing that most people fail to realize, is that turmeric is also a potent testosterone booster.
Turmeric has gained some big time reputation among women who use it successfully as an aid to beat breast cancer [Google]. It helps as it’s an extremely anti-estrogenic substance.
And yes, Ginger Up! It's not all about the peppers.
Happy Holidays from ISIS, ISIS wanna-bes, jihadists or whomever to people around the world. And here is number 101 on a list of One Hundred Points Worth Making: Are the Lindt Chocolate people 100% horrified to see their shop depicted this way all over the world, or is someone trying to figure out how to spin this as a combination of great chocolate and great customer service?
Just not Wonderin'.
The Times has a long and interesting article about the current dearth of Great Movie Quotations. But this correction leaves us wondering about the credibility of the author and editors:
Correction: December 12, 2014
An earlier version of a photo caption associated with this article misidentified the movie whose lines Ronald Reagan referred to in a speech. It was “Sudden Impact,” not “Dirty Harry.”
The Times is attempting to incorporate references to right-wing icons? Go ahead - make my day. And why do they bother? A man's got to know his limitations.
It's never too soon to get Ready For Hillarity! As I flip the calendar to 2015, with 2016 ever closer, what can we expect?
First, GREAT slogans! "Run, Walker Run" should help get Wisconsin's own off the bench.
And Twitter will light up for Elizabeth Warren, whose ardent supporters will settle for no one else. We can see the bumper stickers now:
Warren: She Fights, And How! #NoneButTheBrave
The most interesting match-up might be Rand Paul v. Elizabeth Warren.
But most entertaining? Rick Perry v. Joe Biden would break every known Gaffeometer. And of course, Joe Biden v. Chris Christie is Most Likely To Devolve Into A Sopranos Episode, what with Crazy Joe smacking people down hither and yon.
So much fun! I feel like a kid a week before Christmas!
Crazy Joe drew attention for regaling a crowd with a tale from his youth where he smacked around some punk who annoyed his sister. Go, Crazy Joe!
But this combination of tough talk and tougher deeds has been an under-covered hallmark of Crazy Joe's life!
Here we go from a Rolling Stone story from Jun 2014. Joe is talking about fighting back in the war on women (domestic violence division):
Biden says he's "gotten into a little bit of difficulty" himself for stepping up [on behalf of strange women]. "Walking down a supermarket aisle, and a guy grabbing his wife's wrist and bending her down. Walking up and giving the guy a forearm shove in the chest and saying, 'Jeez, are you OK?' Nobody I know who sees something happen, where someone is powerless being beaten or taken advantage of, and doesn't speak up, would be able to go home and really look in the mirror."
Yeah! Uhh, yike. I mean, hmm - we really want guys just shoving each other around when they sense a domestic disturbance with another couple?
I trust his judgment! And I can only assume that when he talks about "where someone is powerless being beaten or taken advantage of, and doesn't speak up" he isn't referring to the Syrian rebels. Or is it "speaking up" if I move to the other side of the supermarket and holler "Yo, knock it off!"? No boots in the same aisle!
YOU SAW WHAT I DID THERE: Yes, that is the same Rolling Stone story on campus rape I posted on yesterday. , which followed (or invented?) the template applied in the Erdely disaster.
A few days back the internet nearly broke when a Harvard professor got all attitudinous with a Chinese take-out restaurant over a $4 overcharge on a take-out order.
I went ahead and read the law in question hoping I could get lucky and play gotcha, but I couldn't talk myself into it - to my annoyance and regret the logical train the Harvard Pomposity was riding seemed to reach his station stop. (Prof. Ann Althouse taking his side did not boost the old confidence either.) So that was an hour I thought I'd never get back. Until...
AllahPundit linked to another stalwart from Harvard Law willing to turn on his own! Adam Levitin, part-time contributor at Credit Slips and now a Georgetown law prof, explained that the law was on the side of the little guy:
The professor decides to go all legal on the restaurant, demanding $12, as treble damages under Massachusetts' unfair and deceptive acts and practices (UDAP) statute, MGL 93a (even citing the statute!).
I get why people would be hating on the professor for that alone. But here's what really peeves me. He gets MGL 93a wrong!!! (I happen to teach this statute.) The professor is demanding something that he almost assuredly cannot get under law.
Ah, my new BFF! This is the post I wanted to write, except I am not a lawyer and the law doesn't read that way to me. But otherwise, let's bring it on!
As an initial matter, it's important to know that there is no scienter (intent) requirement for MGL 93a. A negligent misrepresentation is as much of a violation as an intentional one. The interesting issue is the remedy.
Yeah, yeah, I knew about intent not being an issue. And he recites the same law I had read, so the old heart is getting heavier. Where is my new BFF taking me that I have not already been?
First, MGL 93a(9)(3) does not mandate treble damages. It provides for a recovery of the greater of actual damages or $25. The statute allows double to treble damages if the UDAP was a willful or knowing violation" or if the defendant refused, in bad faith to settle. That's quite different from automatic treble damages.
Well, yeah, certain circumstances such as willful, ongoing fraud trigger triple damages. The Harvard Pomposity said it several times, I read it, and now my BFF is repeating it. How do you derail this train that vexed me, my maybe not so BFF?
There's a second problem. MGL 93a(9)(3) requires that before bringing suit the plaintiff send a demand letter to the business asking for rectification of the unfair or deceptive act or practice. That gives the business a chance to settle things for something like actual damages. The whole purpose of the demand provision is to encourage settlement and to act as a control on damages.
What? What about the willful, ongoing fraud the Harvard Pomposity mentioned in at least three separate emails (Dec 6 9:33 AM email, Dec 6 3:55 PM email, and third paragraph of the Dec 7 2:23 PM email). The ongoing fraud is based on the owner's own admission that the menus have been out of date for a while, and my coulda-been BFF noted above that ongoing fraud can trigger triple damages. Does my on-the-bubble BFF have a rabbit up his long legal sleeve?
Thus, in a lawsuit, if the defendant made a reasonable settlement offer, the court must limit damages not to the $25 minimum, but to the restraurant's reasonable offer. See Kohl v. Silver Lake Motors, Inc., 369 Mass. 795 (Mass. 1976)[LINK]. I don't see how the professor gets to treble damages here.
You don't see it? Does that work in court? "Your honor, that may or may not be a cogent argument but I don't see it"?
The argument, made repeatedly by the Harvard Pomposity (with whom I am sensing a spiritual kinship - does anyone else pick up that vibe?) is that this is not a one-time, one-off violation for which a one-time make-whole payment is appropriate. It is a willful, ongoing rip-off! OK, for $4 in this case, but the logic of the Harvard Pomposity is a bit stronger and more clearly presented than the "I don't see it" rebuttal. From the statute cited (my emphasis):
...In all other cases, if the court finds for the petitioner, recovery shall be in the amount of actual damages or twenty-five dollars, whichever is greater; or up to three but not less than two times such amount if the court finds that the use or employment of the act or practice was a willful or knowing violation of said section two...
Kohl, by way of contrast, covers what is clearly a one-off violation and emphasizes a point not at issue, namely, intent is irrelevant. Nothing in Kohl is responsive to the argument that this is an ongoing, willful fraud meriting triple damages.
Well. The law applies to the little guy as much as the big guy. Or what would Elizabeth Warren say? #BeBrave.
So here we go for the legal eagles out there. Do you back the Harvard Pomposity as to the applicability of triple damages, annoying though he may be? Or has the Georgetown Avenger convinced you/blinded you?
Or is there some other banana peel we can toss in front of the Pomposity? (And should I just call him "the Pomp"? I feel like we are practically brothers...) is it against the law in Massachusetts to be an obnoxious jerk? If so, I'll come quietly and I welcome the opportunity to meet some new Red Sox fans.
Or can the restaurant owner counterclaim for Uncivil Damages?
We deal with the big issues here. Daily!
The article describes Jackie sinking into depression after the alleged rape, and holing up in her dorm room. Not so, say her friends, who told ABC News she seemed fine after the alleged assault.
That might be a bit of a switch. Here is the T Rees Shapiro et al of the WaPo talking to the same three, in separate interviews published Dec 10:
“She had very clearly just experienced a horrific trauma,” Randall said. “I had never seen anybody acting like she was on that night before, and I really hope I never have to again. . . . If she was acting on the night of Sept. 28, 2012, then she deserves an Oscar.”
And the aftermath?
Rachel Soltis, who lived with Jackie during their freshman year, said that her suite mate appeared depressed and stopped going to classes. Andy, Cindy and Randall all said that Jackie’s behavior clearly changed that semester.
Someone aware of these discrepancies might want to probe a bit. Did Jackie keep it together for a few weeks after the incident and then collapse? Or did she seem fine until just before finals in December when she left early?
Andy also appeared in an earlier Shapiro story (Dec 5) but no mention was made of Jackie's apparent state of mind in the months after the incident.
Emily Clark, also a roommate, wrote to the Daily Cavalier in Jackie's defense:
A letter from a friend: Jackie's story is not a hoax
I fully support Jackie, and I believe wholeheartedly that she went through a traumatizing sexual assault. I remember my first semester here, and I remember Jackie’s. Jackie came to UVA bright, happy and bubbly. She was kind, funny, outgoing, friendly, and a pleasant person to be around. That all notably changed by December 2012, and I wasn’t the only one who noticed. Our suite bonded that first semester and talked many times about the new troubles we were facing in college. Jackie never mentioned anything about her assault to us until much later. But I, as well as others, noticed Jackie becoming more and more withdrawn and depressed.
I remember second semester, she shared a Netflix account with me and I noticed how much TV she was watching — hours and hours of shows that seemed to get darker and darker as time went on. I wondered how she had time, with homework and school, and I wondered if she was okay. I didn’t ask. I wish I had.
In December 2012, Jackie broke down. All of a sudden she was going home and none of us knew why. It was right before finals, and I couldn’t believe she was leaving. She was distraught, and only said she needed to go home.
The timing there is hazy as well. December and after, yes, but October? Unclear. And here is Rachel Soltis, mentioned above, in the first Shapiro takedown of the Rolling Stone on Dec 5:
Jackie’s former roommate, Rachel Soltis, said she noticed emotional and physical changes to her friend during the fall semester of 2012, when they shared a suite.
“She was withdrawn, depressed and couldn’t wake up in the mornings,” said Soltis, who said that she was convinced that Jackie was sexually assaulted. Soltis said that Jackie didn’t tell her about the alleged sexual assault until January 2013. Soltis said she did not notice any apparent wounds on Jackie’s body at the time of the alleged assault.
Again, the timing of the obvious downward spiral is unclear. And bear in mind - we are relying on the memories from two years ago of college freshmen new to the campus and each other, with lots to take in. It may simply be that Rachel, Emily, Andy, Randall and Cindy (who have since gone public) agree that eventually Jackie fell apart at some point during the first semester of freshmen year. As to timing, the new ABC interview may simply be making the point that the collapse was not immediately after the "assault".
One of the hypotheses floating out there is that Jackie was a lovesick, homesick, distracted young girl struggling academically in a new, high powered school and experiencing the freshmen blues. Finals were approaching, she needed an explanation for her academic problems, and "assault" seemed like the best way to placate her parents. That had the assault story doing double duty, since its original purpose was (per this line of speculation) to prompt some protection and affection from Randall (who got the first call from Jackie that ghastly night and then called Andy and Cindy himself). Just a theory, but if the timing of her collapse is that separate from the alleged assault, the theory may seem stronger.
ERRATA: From ABC News:
Ryan, who asked to have his last name withheld and is identified as "Randall" in the article, says that he got a call from Jackie first. That's when he says he rushed to meet her outside a dorm building.
Ryan said she was "crying and shaking" when she described what had happened. Then, Ryan says he called Alex and relayed Jackie's wishes that Cindy not come.
METAPHYSICS: What is the incidence of false rape reports that are never reported? I'm serious - it is an issue in this story, and Amanda Hess of Slate handles it well (ignore the early righty-bashing meant to establish her bona fides with her readers):
Even journalists who aren’t staking out a position on Jackie’s story have turned to questionable tactics in order to shift the focus. Many have attempted to contextualize the fallout of the Rolling Stone article by pointing to statistics that show that false rape reports are an extremely rare phenomenon....
But these studies refer to claims made to campus and local police departments; Jackie did not bring her story to them. I am not aware of any research investigating the veracity of rape claims told among friends, at campus consciousness-raising groups, or to the media. Perhaps these stories are more likely or less likely to be true. Why pretend that we know?
Well, yes. I'd say "obviously" but apparently it wasn't, to many.
Let me call your attention to the Rolling Stonre story on campus rape that opens with an eyeball-grabbing first-person account of a horrific assault then segues to this and that about the slack response by the campus administration and local authorities.
Confronting Campus Rape
A growing wave of grassroots activists is forcing universities to take a stronger stand against sexual abuse - and now the Obama administration is joining the fight
By Nina Burleigh | June 4, 2014
April 4th, 2004, is a date Laura Dunn has never forgotten. That was the day the Midwestern preacher's daughter who didn't believe in sex before marriage says she lost her virginity to not one but two University of Wisconsin-Madison athletes. Dunn was a freshman member of the crew team, attending a boozy frat bash, and she lost count of her intake after seven raspberry-vodka shots. She remembers two older teammates led her out, guys she knew. She was stumbling drunk, but one of them helped her walk, and they headed, she thought, toward another campus party. Instead, they led her to one of their apartments, where she found herself on a bed with both of them on top of her, as she drifted in and out of consciousness. When she started to get sick, one of them led her to the bathroom, where he penetrated her from behind while she was throwing up.
Well, that's enough. Do not read on hoping to get any thoughts from the perpetrators or the police - the awful incident happened ten years ago and the story is illustrating Larger Themes.
Sort of like the Erdely piece. The segue occurs at paragraph five:
It took Dunn more than a year to come to terms with the truth of the first assessment. Ten years on, she's still looking for justice.
In the past few years, the issue of campus rape has exploded, with dozens of schools, including Harvard Law, under investigation. Activists are protesting on campus and in Washington. The president of the United States is talking about it, and his vice president and White House staff formed a task force to combat sexual violence on campus.
The piece then trailed off to Biden-Obama-Clery Act-'Dear Colleague' land, and was never heard from again.
It seems that Erdely took a second bite of the apple, with a lot more success at sparking the national dialogue, and with the same diligence at fact-checking. I wonder if the same Rolling Stone team that passed along the Burleigh piece is shocked to subsequently find they have readers with a critical eye?
And looking back a bit, here is Erik Wemple early on the Erdely piece:
The charge in this piece, however, is gang rape, and so requires every possible step to reach out and interview them, including e-mails, phone calls, certified letters, FedEx letters, UPS letters and, if all of that fails, a knock on the door. No effort short of all that qualifies as journalism.
That was not the Rolling Stone standard in June when nobody cared, and it wasn't their standard in November.
MORE: Amy Davidson of The New Yorker speculated that Erdely wanted a girl who claimed to be sober when raped; that would be a break from the June template, which was a more familiar "I was drunk and they raped me but maybe thought I was consenting" disaster. Could be.
Other upgrades in the Erdely piece:
The heroine was more heroic - Ms. Burleigh's victim was drunk, Ms. Erdely's sober, as per Ms. Davidson's hypothesis.
The villains were more villainous: Ms. Burleigh's two young men had some remorse about a confusing night of too-drunk-to-consent sex; the Erdely villains are unrelievedly nightmarish.
More suspense: Ms. Burleigh's victim was assulated ten years ago and the incident had been reported and adjudicated (no spoilers here, however); readers may have felt free to turn the page to coverage of Bassnectar or the Koch Brothers. Jackie's assailants seemingly still stalked the UVA campus and OMG WHAT SHOULD WE DO RIGHT NOW!!!
Despite the attention-getting upgrades for which she had been shopping, I don't have the impression that Ms. Erdely's piece received more or less fact-checking than the Burleigh effort.
The obvious next step - leaf through "Rape on Campus" pieces at the usual suspects - Vanity Fair, the New Yorker and The Atlantic spring to mind. Is the Rolling Stone template widely followed? And is the standard described by Erik Wemple normally applied?
PILING ON: Nina Burleigh has an odd way of seeing things herself.
Erik Wemple leads the Washington Post on a well-deserved victory lap for their coverage of the unraveling Rolling Stone story about rape at UVA. T Rees Shapiro should be preparing his humble and gracious Pulitzer acceptance remarks for his two big blasts. And although even the saltiest of sailor might run out of words to denounce the miserable effort of the Rolling Stone reporting, editorial and fact-checking team, Erik Wemple has delivered yeoman derision and derogation.
However (didn't see that coming, I bet) Team WaPo might also want to engage in a bit of critical self-examination. They have run not one but two stories publicizing the antics of Charles C. Johnson, a deplorable intenet blogger who outed "Jackie" of Rolling Stone fame. The first piece, by Caitlin Dewey, denounced Charles but re-aired without examination some of his dubious allegations.
The second, by Terrence McCoy, was even more bothersome: it presented Charles as a lonely voice courageously standing up to a raging crowd, That type of presentation has a long and sympathetic history in literature, but sometimes the lonley voice is not a heroic truth-teller or whistleblower but an irresponsible figure who ought to be even lonelier. This is the Perverse Allegiance puzzle, that a story might be told in a way that induces sympathy for an objectively bad person. Mr. McCoy depicted Charles as alone, on the run, and beset by people who wanted to kill him. So who were we meant to root for, the lonely voice or the vengeful mob? His lead:
It’s 7:30 p.m. on Monday night, and the day’s most vilified blogger is driving somewhere in California, though he declines to specify where, and with whom. As he talks into the telephone, he confesses he feels targeted: He’s recording the conversation. Someone has already hacked him that day. He’s deluged with threats. His mom, he said, “is worried about me and worried about herself.”
Please. We are supposed to hope dear old mom's heart is crushed? C'mon.
But it is the noted but unexamined allegations from the Dewey piece that irk me more, because they seem to have mutated and found a home on the web. Yes, some of those tidbits would have emerged from the internet sewer with no push from the WaPo, but since they opened that manhole they might want to pour some bleach into it.
Let me cite this, from Ms. Dewey:
True to his word, Johnson promptly tweeted Jackie’s full name, photo and screenshots of her “rape-obsessed” Pinterest account. (We are not linking to these posts, as it is Washington Post policy not to name victims or alleged victims of rape.)
Journalists use quotes all the time so there is no reason to think that "rape-obsessed" is supposed to be 'scare quotes' rather than a direct quote (which in fact it is.)
But is her Pinterest account "rape-obsessed" or not? That is especially relevant given the mutation which appears around the web, as for example in this comment at Mr. Wemple's recent post:
"She was also previously obsessed with rape - check out her Pinterest account - it's sick.".
The "previously" seems to extend the argument to suggest that Jackie was obsessed with rape even back in high school. Learning a rape survivor who now counsels other survivors is obsessed with rape might not be a surprise; learning the obsession pre-dated her own experience might be revealing. So which is it?
A good clue is that the internet sewer from which this emerged did not make a claim as to the timing of this "obsession". But I can help! The various pictures have a time-stamp, such as "1 year ago" or "33 weeks ago". But from when? Might this be an old internet cache, where the photos were posted in 2011 and cached in 2012?
Maybe, but no. Here is one, with an easily recognized fave and theme
That is obviously "Elliot" from "Law & Order SVU". Down at the bottom I can just make out "33 weeks ago".
And since you ask, the "No More" PSAs, which football fans have been seeing all season, began in September 2013. Which is long post-rape.
Well. Liars gonna lie and haters gonna hate. But reporters might want to to report, rather than merely noting a smear and moving on. Just saying.
And yes, mostly a great job over there. But it could be even better.
ERRATA: Brilliant UVA summary by Margaret Hartmann of New York.
Rick Gladstone of the NY Times delivers a fascinating article on an unlikely topic:
Dogs in Heaven? Pope Francis Leaves Pearly Gate Open
Pope Francis has given hope to gays, unmarried couples and advocates of the Big Bang theory. Now, he has endeared himself to dog lovers, animal rights activists and vegans.
Trying to console a distraught little boy whose dog had died, Francis told him in a recent public appearance on St. Peter’s Square, “Paradise is open to all of God’s creatures.” While it is unclear whether the pope’s remarks helped soothe the child, they were welcomed by groups like the Humane Society and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, who saw them as a repudiation of conservative Roman Catholic theology that says animals cannot go to heaven because they have no souls.
I know what you're thinking - can't we get back to UVA, it's been like, twenty minutes now - but let's go with it:
Charles Camosy, an author and professor of Christian ethics at Fordham University, said it was difficult to know precisely what Francis meant, since he spoke “in pastoral language that is not really meant to be dissected by academics.” But asked if the remarks had caused a new debate on whether animals have souls, suffer and go to heaven, Mr. Camosy said, “In a word: absolutely.”
Animals and souls? I have to say I have not paid attention to that debate. But some obvious questions occur, not all of which are addressed by this Times piece:
2. If dogs can go to heaven, can they go to Hell? Maybe! But can animals make moral choices, and is a dog actually sinning when he throws up on my sofa? Questions have been raised!
3. Finally, what about other animals? Is there any dividing line beyond the human tendency to anthropomorphize? The Times raises this point and then shys away:
“The Catholic Church has never been clear on this question; it’s all over the place, because it begs so many other questions,” she said. “Where do mosquitoes go, for God’s sake?”
Mosquitoes in heaven? And creepy crawly bugs? Troubling...
Al Gore spoke at the climate conference in Lima; the Daily Caller had an unexpectedly upbeat take:
By the time he began to speak, perhaps half the seats were occupied.
That's controversial - per Rush, half the seats were empty.
Boehner lacks the votes to push the spending bill through the House, thereby sparing Senators Reid and Warren the embarrassment of closing down the government. At least House Republicans are gettin good use from their "I'm With Stupid" t-shirts.
My fave headline:
Dem: Don't be intimidated by Obama
Nobody else is.