March 31, 2015

Overnight Open Thread (3-31-2015) – Not The April Fool’s Edition
— Maetenloch

Quote of the Day

"When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles."

-- Muad'Dib via Ben Domenech

We're in the Best of Hands

John Effin Kerry's ...and Allah's apparently.



Clinton vs. Clinton and the Othering of Indiana

Et tu Ron Swanson?





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US Says Iran Talks Will Continue Past the Deadline Through Tomorrow; French, German Delegations Say They're Leaving at 6am
— Ace

Six am, I guess, would be 12:00 midnight on the east coast USA, so I guess we'll soon know if this is a complete rupture in the P5+1, or, maybe, merely a bargaining strategy by France and Germany to get Iran to concede something.

If it were the latter, wouldn't the US have joined them as well? Why signal a split in the parties? And why are we leaving it to France to be the hawkish party here?

But I think AllahPundit's hunch of a mere bargaining strategy may be right, for one reason: because Life Is Terrible.

If he's wrong: then I cannot think of a greater foreign policy humiliation to our Choom King than for our allies France and Germany to walk away, implicitly condemning him as too soft and too leftwing.

Posted by: Ace at 02:17 PM | Comments (399)
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Cathy Young: UVA, "Haven Monahan," and Rape Hoax Denialism
— Ace

It is the mark of a civilization on the verge of collapse and authoritarian catastrophe that so many things which are so obviously are so forbidden to be said.

Jackie lied. Period.

But you can't say it in Official America.

Four months after Rolling Stone magazine published a shocking--and soon discredited--account of a fraternity gang rape at the University of Virginia, the Charlottesville police department has released the results of its investigation into the alleged assault. It comes as no surprise that "no substantive basis" was found for the claim by a student known as "Jackie" that she was raped by seven men at a fraternity party as a UVA freshman in September 2012. What's striking is to what lengths both the police and many in the news media have gone to tiptoe around the obvious fact that the tale was a hoax by a serial liar. This dance of denial suggests that in the current ideological climate, it is nearly impossible to declare any allegation of rape to be definitely false.

But the evidence against her is damning. It’s not simply that there was no party at Phi Kappa Psi, the fraternity named by Jackie, anywhere near the time when she said she was attacked. It’s not simply that her account changed from forced oral sex to vaginal rape and from five assailants to seven, or that her friends saw no sign of her injuries after the alleged assault. What clinches the case is the overwhelming proof that "Drew," Jackie's date who supposedly orchestrated her rape, was Jackie's own invention.

Back in the fall of 2012, Jackie’s friends knew "Drew" as "Haven Monahan," an upperclassman who supposedly wanted to date her and with whom she encouraged them to exchange emails and text messages. However, an investigation by The Washington Post and other media last December found that "Haven's" messages were fake; the phone numbers he used were registered to online services that allow texting via the Internet and redirecting calls, while his photo matches a former high school classmate of Jackie’s who lives in a different state. No "Haven Monahan" exists on the UVA campus or, apparently, anywhere in the United States (at least outside romance novels). The catfishing scheme seems to have been a ploy to get the attention of a male friend on whom Jackie had a crush--the same friend she called for help after the alleged assault.


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The New Intolerance: We Are Now Required To Embrace Just About Everything, Except the Gutter Religion Christianity
— Ace

Pardon the "attack" on Christianity in the headline -- but I think that sums up the venomous beliefs of the bullies.

There is no principle here. The zealots are not claiming that we must be tolerant towards all -- that is a principle most could agree with.

No, they are instead claiming we must embrace the things they love, and hate -- and persecute -- the things they hate.

This is not "tolerance." This is, at best, simply the replacement of one set of bigotries and hatreds with the
left's favored set of bigotries and hatreds.

This WSJ is worth a read, though it gets, I think, pretty deceptive in its middle part. The WSJ says that opponents of Indiana's RFRA law "claim" that the law would "empower" florists and wedding photographers to "discriminate" against gay weddings.

That's not the claim, Old Bean. That's the entire point.

And it signals how lost this issue is when not even the defenders of the RFRA can even admit the law's purpose. They seem compelled to pretend this bit about refusing service to gay weddings is just some hypothetical crazy talk.

It's not. It's the whole point. And we should not be afraid to say so.

I don't disagree with those who refuse to serve gay weddings, and I don't necessarily agree with them, either. I don't have to. That is the point of tolerance -- not that I either disagree or agree with someone's decision or someone's self-expression, but that I support his rights to decide for himself, and express himself, as he sees fit.

My agreement with his decisions or speech -- my disgust with it -- my sympathies for it -- my hatred of it -- irrelevant, because I am not weighing in on the speech or decision itself -- merely whether I believe an American has a right to so speak or so decide.

And on that matter, I most emphatically do support their right to decide or speak as they would.

Otherwise, I'm afraid I'm going to start needing to demand my own laws, such as a law requiring liberals to confess that the earth hasn't warmed in 17 years and that there is nothing but speculation offered to explain this away whenever I demand they make that concession.

Because that's all the gay "rights" activists are doing here -- they are forcing people who disagree with their political beliefs to endorse those political beliefs anyway, using the crushing power of the state to compel assent.

And if that's the new game in town -- I have a lot of things I wish to force liberals to agree to. Such as the fact that Obama is, in fact, a leftwing socialist who despises America in his core.

This is not about serving gays, this is about acceding to gays' (and non-gay Gay Enthusiasts') demeans that those who dissent with gay weddings nevertheless be forced to endorse them.

And that is unamerican -- or, perhaps I should start learning finally, all too American, at least post-Obama American.

The paradox is that even as America has become more tolerant of gays, many activists and liberals have become ever-more intolerant of anyone who might hold more traditional cultural or religious views. Thus a CEO was run out of Mozilla after it turned out that he had donated money to a California referendum opposing same-sex marriage.

Part of the new liberal intolerance is rooted in the identity politics that dominates today’s Democratic Party. That’s the only way to explain the born-again opportunism of Hillary Clinton, who tweeted: "Sad this new Indiana law can happen in America today. We shouldn’t discriminate against ppl bc of who they love."

By that standard, Mrs. Clinton discriminated against gays because she opposed gay marriage until March 2013. But now she wants to be seen as leading the new culture war against the intolerant right whose views she recently held.

Jazz Shaw at Hot Air has been writing about the possibility of someone demanding a baker make him a Hitler Cake -- does he have the right to refuse?

Surely the answer cannot turn on the unprincipled ground that Neo-Nazis are unpopular whereas gays are tres popular at the moment.

Note to progressives: Who's Hot and Who's Not is not a principled criterion for distinguishing between who has rights and who doesn't. It's also a dangerous criterion, because groups of people become popular, or unpopular, in short periods of time.

I adopted Jazz Shaw's Hitler cake for my own hypothetical -- does a printer have the right to refuse printing up 10,000 flyers reading OBAMA IS A KENYAN COMMUNIST?

What is the difference? In both cases an axe-grinding would-be client wants to compel someone to participate in a political act with which he disagrees.

The only difference is that the left loves The Gayz and hates, allegedly, Nazis. (Though they are huge fans of things which are Naziesque.)

Ashe Schow has a good piece on why the media will never acknowledge that Jackie wasn't raped at all. To explain this, she links a year-old piece by a former hardcore Social Justice Warrior zealot, who has now an apostate about the SJW tactics and their zealot's lack of any doubt about their beliefs, or any concern for the humanity of those they destroy with their tactics.

She's still a leftwinger -- she has not become a rightwinger, for what that matters. I thought that her explanation as to distinction between belief and dogma was insightful, and explains why the left cannot abide any disagreement on their Sacred Belief of gay marriage.

Important disclaimer: I passionately support anti-oppressive politics in general and have only good things to say about it. My current political worldview falls under the umbrella of leftism, although not radical leftism.... What I feel compelled to criticize is only one very specific political phenomenon, one particular incarnation of radical leftist, anti-oppressive politics.

There is something dark and vaguely cultish about this particular brand of politics. I’ve thought a lot about what exactly that is. I've pinned down four core features that make it so disturbing: dogmatism, groupthink, a crusader mentality, and anti-intellectualism. I'll go into detail about each one of these. The following is as much a confession as it is an admonishment. I will not mention a single sin that I have not been fully and damnably guilty of in my time.

First, dogmatism. One way to define the difference between a regular belief and a sacred belief is that people who hold sacred beliefs think it is morally wrong for anyone to question those beliefs. If someone does question those beliefs, they’re not just being stupid or even depraved, they're actively doing violence. They might as well be kicking a puppy. When people hold sacred beliefs, there is no disagreement without animosity. In this mindset, people who disagreed with my views weren’t just wrong, they were awful people. I watched what people said closely, scanning for objectionable content. Any infraction reflected badly on your character, and too many might put you on my blacklist. Calling them 'sacred beliefs' is a nice way to put it. What I mean to say is that they are dogmas.

Thinking this way quickly divides the world into an ingroup and an outgroup -- believers and heathens, the righteous and the wrong-teous. "I hate being around un-rad people," a friend once texted me, infuriated with their liberal roommates. Members of the ingroup are held to the same stringent standards. Every minor heresy inches you further away from the group. People are reluctant to say that anything is too radical for fear of being been seen as too un-radical. Conversely, showing your devotion to the cause earns you respect. Groupthink becomes the modus operandi. When I was part of groups like this, everyone was on exactly the same page about a suspiciously large range of issues. Internal disagreement was rare. The insular community served as an incubator of extreme, irrational views.

High on their own supply, activists in these organizing circles end up developing a crusader mentality: an extreme self-righteousness based on the conviction that they are doing the secular equivalent of God's work. It isn't about ego or elevating oneself. In fact, the activists I knew and I tended to denigrate ourselves more than anything. It wasn’t about us, it was about the desperately needed work we were doing, it was about the people we were trying to help. The danger of the crusader mentality is that it turns the world in a battle between good and evil. Actions that would otherwise seem extreme and crazy become natural and expected. I didn't think twice about doing a lot of things I would never do today.

All emphases added.

The left is always on patrol for heretics, and will use actual violence to punish them.

In the current controversy, no one on the left seems willing to ask some basic questions:

If a minority of bakers refuses services to gay weddings, what actual damage befalls gays? There are still many, many more bakers who will bake them their cakes. So what is the actual harm?

They never answer this question -- they never ask it, so they couldn't answer it -- but the actual answer would be: "The harm is finding out that someone disagrees with my Sacred Belief on gay marriage."

To which I say: Get over it, Sally. A lot of people disagree with you about a lot of things. The fact that you're hysterical about it and also quite cruel -- the way that only a weakling can be truly cruel, when he finally gets a bit of power over someone -- is not a good reason to let you beat someone around using the law as your cudgel.

What is being pursued here is not gays' right to have wedding cake. They have this, of course, and do not need the law's insistence to get it.

What is being pursued here is hardcore gay-identity crusaders' insistence that no one has the right to disagree with them on their Sacred Belief, and that the law can and should be perverted into punishing ThoughtCrimes.

What we are seeing here is the enforcement of a new religious code, one which puts "secular" leftist values at the center of religious dogma, and then uses the power of the state to punish heretics, apostates, and blasphemers.

It is ugly, cruel, and stupid, as are most things the left wants.

As I keep saying, never let a weakling get a taste of power. They've had no experience with it and do not understand that power must be exercised, if at all, with restraint and regard for the rights and feelings of human beings.

The weakling given power is nothing but vengeance and cruelty.

Incidentally-- Are there any beliefs on the left which have not been sacralized?

That is, do they have any beliefs which are open to question without inviting their typical full-spectrum punishment regime, from group coordinated stigmatization to pursuit in the courts?

Posted by: Ace at 10:49 AM | Comments (881)
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Apple's Gay CEO Tim Cook Wants to Boycott Indiana for Its Allegedly Anti-Gay RFRA, But Will Gladly Sell You an iPhone At Its Boutique in Riyadh, Where They'll Stone You to Death For Being Gay
— Ace

Of course.

I would seriously pin Apple's ears back over this. If you're a stockholder, write to them. Demand they stop selling iPhones in any country in which homosexuality remains a crime. (Homosexuality is an on-the-books crime in most countries, still, not just the ones where they actually stone gays to death.)

Tim Cook, and all the rest of the gay leftwing bullies, are of course bullying people.

As usual.

Few people ever refused service to gays at bakeries before gay marriage. There was not some great scourge of people refusing service to gays.

What people are doing is refusing to take part in a gay marriage ceremony.

They are refusing to endorse a political act. Which is their right.

Gays are not being denied cookies or donuts at a bakery. They are only being denied gay wedding cakes, because the latter, unlike the former, constitutes a political act which violates their religious understanding.

If a printer refused to print up "OBAMA IS A KENYAN COMMUNIST BILLS," would the bullies say the person demanding he print those up could compel him to do so by calling the cops?

Of course not, of course not. The Left's conscience is a sacred thing which must never be offended.

While they meanwhile use Police State tactics to obliterate everyone else's.

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New Daily Show Host Examined For... Offensive Tweets
— Ace

I just realized I saw Trevor Noah do his standup for a few minutes. He's one of those comedians who does nothing but Jokes About What He Is. Like when you see a Fat Comic and he does nothing but jokes about being fat. Or a Mexican comic who does nothing but jokes about the differences between Mexicans and Anglos.

Trevor Noah is half-white, half black, and from South Africa. So I saw him do five minutes on being half-white, half-black, and from South Africa.

Then I turned it off because, seriously, who cares. None of it was funny.

In the brief spot I saw, he didn't do much that was controversial or political. The word I would use is "cloying." He really wanted people to like him.

He's been named as the new, younger, soooo much cheaper host of The Daily Show.

I kind of would like him to succeed just to prove that Jon Stewart's audience are Clapping Seals so it doesn't matter what is said on the show, as long as it flatters their politics. I'm sure you're really tired of hearing how a-MAZ-ing Jon Stewart is at yelling, doing the dumb guy voice, tapping a pencil, and making silly faces at the camera. It would be nice to see that someone else can yell, do the dumb guy voice, tap a pencil, and make silly faces at the camera too.

But Noah's now being scrutinized by the SJWs for tweetcrimes. They say his tweets are offensive.

I have to say these tweets offend me, too. They're very unfunny. They're the sort of things that unfunny people tweet when they want to be funny.

On Twitter, where he has had an account since 2009 and accumulated more than two million followers, Mr. Noah often posts irreverent statements that reflect his interests in popular culture, global politics and issues of race. As with many comedians, Mr. Noah's jokes can test the boundaries of what is socially permissible and what is in bad taste.

In several posts, Mr. Noah came across as mocking or derisive of women. In one from 2011, he writes: "Oh yeah the weekend. People are gonna get drunk & think that I'm sexy!" a quote that he attributes to "fat chicks everywhere."

In another post from last year, he quotes another Twitter user who writes, "When a woman is loved correctly, she becomes 10 times the woman she was before," to which Mr. Noah adds: "So she gets fat?"

Mr. Noah has also posted jokes about Jewish people and about Israel. As he wrote in 2009, "Almost bumped a Jewish kid crossing the road. He didn’t look b4 crossing but I still would hav felt so bad in my german car!"

Another post from 2010 reads, “South Africans know how to recycle like israel knows how to be peaceful.”


Others seemed to shrug off these posts simply as unfunny.


Others pointed out that he also has made fun of Americans, South Africans and people from numerous other countries. When a fan tweeted at him last October, asking him to please come to Texas, Mr. Noah replied, "But you've already got Ebola?"


Mr. Noah seemed aware on Tuesday of the controversy surrounding his tweets. Just before 9 a.m. Eastern time, he posted: "Twitter does not have enough characters to respond to all the characters on Twitter." The tweet was deleted shortly after.

When I first saw this guy, I thought English was his second language and he was playing for the Yakov Smirnov Southern Division slot.

You see what I mean? What person, who is not either eight years old, or eighty eight years old, is delighted by the characters/characters pun?

More: Ezra Levant Asks, "Is This Funny?:" But he's curious as to those anti-Jew jokes -- are these just "pleasing the audience" clapter jokes for his audience, given that Noah performs on what Levant calls the "Muslim dictatorship comedy tour," Oman, etc.?

One joke that Levant reads that I think is so-so funny -- not really in the class of the jokes that are plainly unfunny -- was his crack about watching women's Olympic hockey being like "watching lesbian porn, but without the porn." That's not a side-splitter or anything but it is something of a joke. I wouldn't call that one completely unfunny.

A lot of these other ones, though... Man, these are terrible.

More: Rick Wilson talks about the odds that Trevor Noah will be fired for his "borderline anti-semitic" tweets.

I don't really like characterizing them that way because there's so much of that damn claim -- everything is "hate." No one's allowed to say anything at all, hardly.

He definitely has, let us say this, the Sophisticated European Take on anti-semitism, which is to say, he's not made uncomfortable by it.

Now if a right-wing person made these sorts of jokes about anyone in the Protected Leftist Coalition, they would be branded "hate" and "racism." But I don't think that's a good enough reason to spring to do so ourselves.

He predicts the left will begin accusing the right of being racist, and then the media will all repeat this:

Check that Twitchy thread -- Salon and others are already pushing that line.

Meanwhile, Vox is posting Noah's five most high-larious comedy bits. The below is one of them.

I would almost think that Jon Stewart endorsed this guy, knowing he would fail, which would then prove that Jon Stewart Is The Only Man Who Can Save Us. But while I think Stewart is guilty of a lot of sins, I don't think he has that sort of huge-but-brittle ego that would impel him to do something like that. I think his ego is huge and solid. He doesn't need Noah to fail.

So I guess that will just be a Little Bonus. more...

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Can The GOP Be Reformed? Some Say No, Others Are Wrong.
— DrewM

You may have noticed that I'm not a fan of the GOP. No, it's true. I think it's clear that small government conservatives are ill served by hitching their wagon to the GOP. Better to focus on a longer game of changing the dominant political culture in the country. If you want to extract the occasional concession for a Republican, fine. But the only way is to make withholding your vote your default position. Let them pander in deed, not just word to earn your case by case transnational support. As a party, the GOP simply has nothing to offer anyone interested in shrinking government.

Jay Cost on the other hand still thinks the GOP is worth reforming and that it might be possible to do so. This worries me because Jay is a very smart guy. But even smart people can be wrong.

Second, the Republican party can be reformed. It may be very hard to do so, but the GOP is not a political machine. It is not a closed system, impervious to change. It’s open, and grassroots reformers have recourse -- in the form of party primaries. They may be seriously out-financed in those contests. Still, it is one thing to be an underdog, and another to have no hope of change at all. And there is hope.

In fact, I’d argue that there has been an extraordinary amount of change within the GOP over the last generation. Reformers have made some real gains. In the wake of the 2014 wave, I noted this about the incoming Senate:

This Senate majority will be as large as the one seated in 1995, but much more conservative. That year, the Republican caucus included many nominal, moderate, or otherwise unreliable Republicans, notably John Chafee of Rhode Island, Mark Hatfield of Oregon, Jim Jeffords of Vermont, and Nancy Kassebaum of Kansas. Some such Republicans remain—Frank Murkowski was succeeded by Lisa Murkowski—but their numbers have shrunk. My informal count has them declining from about 15 in 1994 to less than half a dozen today. The group of solid conservatives, meanwhile, has grown. The Senate already had many such members, like Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, and Tim Scott. But now they are set to be joined by Tom Cotton, Ben Sasse, and Joni Ernst. My back of the envelope calculations suggest that the number of solid conservative senators has risen from about a dozen in 1995 to 20 or so today.

The House has shown similar signs of improvement. The “insurgent” class of House reformers is now large enough to make real noise. Did such a group really exist a decade ago? Certainly not with the same numbers. There is no denying that conservative reformers have won some big elections in the last few cycles, and that the reformist right is on the rise within the GOP, if not yet dominant.

Needless to say, I disagree. The passage of the Doc-fix was the final, final straw for me.

Last week I shutdown my Twitter account (I'll be back sooner than later but I won't focus on partisan politics). It wasn’t a well thought out plan but rather a sudden urge. Like so many others, Twitter became my main connection to the political world. It’s a great tool for keeping up on the news and for interacting directly with people making and covering that news.

So why would a news and politics junkie like myself cut the cord so abruptly (though not completely, I have 30 days to reconsider)? I realized I’d become something I’d mocked in the past. more...

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Open Thread
— rdbrewer

Claude Joseph Vernet, "The Shipwreck" (1772)

Posted by: rdbrewer at 05:23 AM | Comments (274)
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Morning Thread (3-31-2015)
— andy

Did you give Iran the bomb yet, daddy?

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March 30, 2015

Overnight Open Thread (3-30-2015)
— Maetenloch

Quote of the Day I

But the robots get better every year, while the workers stay the same. Or, perhaps, get worse.

-- Instapundit on minimum wage increase demands versus robotic automation

Quote of the Day II

Ashe Schow asks: "With all the attention being paid to college-aged social justice warriors and microagressions, one has to ask: What happens when all these delicate snowflakes enter the workforce?"  To which I answer: What makes you think that these delicate snowflakes will enter the workforce? - Oh, I'm sure that many of them will end up doing some sort of retail, at least in the states that don't institute a $15 minimum wage.  But there are plenty of qualified people out there who either did not get infected with the current madness sweeping our campuses, or else they got over it.  Easy enough to give them the job.

-- Moe Lane on dealing with problematical employees

Quote of the Day III

The C student starts a restaurant. The A student writes restaurant reviews.

-- PJ O'Rourke

Quote of the Day IV

The only advantage to being a middle-aged man is that when you put on a jacket and tie, you're the Scary Dad. Never mind that no one has had an actually scary dad since 1966. The visceral fear remains.

-- PJ O'Rourke

Quote of the Day V

Ostendo primo conditionem hominum extra societatem civilem (quam conditionem appellare liceat statum naturae) aliam non esse quam bellum omnium contra omnes; atque in eo bello jus esse omnibus in omnia.

I demonstrate in the first place, that the state of men without civil society (which state we may properly call the state of nature) is nothing else but a mere war of all against all; and in that war all men have equal right unto all things.

-- Thomas Hobbes in Leviathan

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What the Hell Really Happened to Harry Reid?
— Ace

Reporters are just accepting the claim that he was attacked by an ornery exercise band, huh?

John Hindraker of Powerline wonders about what really might have happened.

When a guy shows up at a Las Vegas emergency room on New Year's Day with severe facial injuries and broken ribs, and gives as an explanation the functional equivalent of "I walked into a doorknob," it isn't hard to guess that he ran afoul of mobsters. Yet the national press has studiously averted its eyes from Reid's condition, and has refused to investigate the cause of his injuries. To my knowledge, every Washington reporter has at least pretended to believe Reid's story, and none, as far as I can tell, has inquired further.

So he was working out late on New Years Eve, huh?

Let's consider what would really happen if someone where hit this badly by an exercise band.

I work out with exercise bands. I am in fact often afraid that they will either snap or, more likely, slip free of where they're anchored, and hit me in the face.

I don't know if this is a real possibility or not. I do know the possibility of a face hit by an exercise band has occurred to me.

But here's why I don't believe it in the case of Harry Reid:

Why isn't he warning people about this being a real possibility?

I'll tell you what, if this happened to me, believe me, I'd be on the blog telling you about it, and warning you to be very careful with these bands. In fact, if an exercise band took my right eye away from me, I'd be telling you to wear goggles at all times when using them.

Actually I think I'd tell you to join a gym -- it's safer.

I also would be telling you who manufactured these particular bands, so that you would be warned about possible slipshod manufacture.

Is Reid doing any of these things? No, of course not. He puts out the lie, then tries to run away from it as soon as possible.

This is why I knew Anthony Weiner was lying about his "Hacked!" claim. If someone gets hacked, this is a very big deal, and very angering, and that person would move heaven and earth to get justice from this very serious violation.

Instead, Weiner just wanted us all to move past it and forget it ever happened.

This is not possible. If someone really were violated, they would demand an investigation and serious consequences for the violators.

Harry Reid's story is that he, a rich man thanks to being part of the lucrative Legislation Industry, had to resort to using a fairly cheap piece of exercise equipment instead of using the more common real gym equipment men of his means could afford. Dumbbells are kind of expensive, but not so expensive that a Legislation Magnate couldn't afford a couple of racks of nice rubber-encased dumbbells.

But no, he's using cheap exercise bands.

And then when one allegedly snaps, or tears free of its anchor point, and robs him of the use of his right eye, he says nothing about it? He doesn't warn people? He doesn't start a Senatorial Investigation into the safety of such equipment?

Why doesn't he tell us what brand of exercise band blinded him in one eye.

Is this because this nasty, pugilistic man has just decided to be mellow about the company that took one of his eyes away from him?

Or is this because there is no exercise band manufacturer to complain about, because there was never any exercise band at all?

Posted by: Ace at 02:14 PM | Comments (603)
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Obama Plans Major Reversal In Israel Policy as Emboldened Iran Demands Even More Concessions on Nukes
— Ace

Iran wants more, reports the Free Beacon's Adam Kredo.

LAUSANNE, Switzerland--Iranian negotiators are becoming rigid and unmoving in their stance on a range of key nuclear issues in talks, according to multiple sources familiar with the negotiations who said Tehran is angling to elicit as many concessions as possible from the United States as the talks reach a critical stage ahead of the looming March 31 deadline.

Iran is pushing for major relief from economic sanctions and the ability to continue sensitive research and development on the nuclear and weapons fronts, according to sources quoted in the Iranian state-controlled press on Sunday.


"The Iranians are again outplaying the Americans," said one source in Europe familiar with the negotiations. "They know they’'l have to give up certain things eventually. So they're digging in their heels on issues that mean everything and preparing to give ground on relatively minor issues--but not yet, and not until they see how much more the Americans are willing to give."

Previous concessions by the United States appear to have motivated Iran to push harder on issues such as the possible military dimensions of its nuclear program, as well as continued work on advanced centrifuges and increased sanctions relief, according to a second American source apprised of the demands being set forth.

Iran wants to know how much more it can get off President Backseat Becky. My guess is, they can go all the way and then some.

Meanwhile, he's planning on a "crockery-breaking" turn on Israel, writes Jackson Diehl of the Washington Post.

President Obama’s rhetorical assault on Benjamin Netanyahu last week was in part the product of pique. But it also set the stage for what could be another crockery-breaking bid by Obama for a foreign policy legacy, on a par with his opening to Cuba and would-be nuclear deal with Iran.

By declaring Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations dead and blaming Netanyahu, Obama laid the predicate for a decision to go forward with a U.S.-backed U.N. Security Council resolution that would set the terms for a final peace settlement. Envisioned as an updating of U.N. Resolution 242, which has been part of the framework for the Mideast "peace process" since the 1960s, the idea would be to mandate the solution to the questions Israelis and Palestinians have been unable to agree upon for decades, such as the future status of Jerusalem. Not incidentally, it would provide Obama with the Mideast legacy he has craved since his first day in office.

Whether or not it accelerated Palestinian statehood (and most likely it wouldn't), Obama's initiative would set off an earthquake in U.S. foreign relations and for Israel's standing in the world. For nearly half a century, the United States has taken the position that the terms for a peace settlement between Israelis and Palestinians must come about as the result of negotiations and not as an imposition by outside parties. At the United Nations, it has been a given that Washington will veto resolutions that aim to compel Israel to accept terms.

Now Obama is contemplating going forward with a resolution that was drafted last year by Secretary of State John Kerry and his Mideast negotiations team at the State Department. The language was drawn up in response to efforts by the Palestinians and France to win support for Security Council resolutions following the collapse of Kerry's attempt to get Israeli and Palestinian assent to a "framework agreement" France announced on Friday that it would renew its initiative, giving Obama a fresh prompt.

A country's currency only has to collapse once for it to lose much of its value, forever. And Obama has deliberately collapsed the currency of America's foreign policy reliability and trustworthiness -- he wants the world to know that we can shift like snakes at any time. That will keep other countries from allying with us, which is good, because America, not Iran, is the great contagion that must be contained.

Oh, Russian tanks are moving deeper into Ukraine. Maybe Obama has Iran's promise that they'll fix that crisis for him, too.

Posted by: Ace at 01:23 PM | Comments (209)
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Blind People Are Seeing Again Thanks to Bionic Eyes, And It's Not Even a Story Any More
— Ace

This isn't entirely new, as people have been receiving bionic eyes for eight years. But only seven people received implants as of last October.

The technology is maturing, and more and more people are now getting the implants. It's becoming an everyday thing now -- news outfits are running stories about the newest blind man whose sight has been returned, but not big, huge stories.

The implant does not cure all forms of blindness, just those caused a by a specific syndrome. And the vision conferred is not very detailed; light and shapes only. Not even fine enough detail to make out the features of a human face.

But once you can do the basics of it, you can do the fine details of it.

The company making these implants is called Second Sight.

Second Sight Medical Products Inc. designs, makes and sells the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System, which gives sight to the blind. And sales of the "bionic eye" are on the rise.

Argus II is a prosthetic retina for people with a disease called retinitis pigmentosa. The device looks like futuristic sunglasses paired with a small box, which contains the brains of the device -- a video processing unit.

A miniature video camera captures an image and then transmits that image to the video processing unit, which then sends it to electrodes implanted in a patient's retina using a surgical procedure.

Argus II does not restore normal vision. But it does allow the wearer to see light and shapes, sometimes for the first time in decades.

More than 100 patients have received the Argus II, with 15 systems implanted during the last three months of 2014, the most of any quarter. The earliest recipients have had the implants for nearly eight years.

One patient received his implants last October; there's the obligatory video of him seeing for the first time in over 30 years.

It seems like the stuff of science fiction. But for Larry Hester, this is an eye-opening change for the rest of his life.

[H]e's spent much of his adult life living in complete darkness -- but not anymore. On Oct. 1, Hester became the seventh person in the U.S. to receive an implantable Argus II Retinal Prosthesis Device, also known as the bionic eye. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the device in February 2013 for people with rare, degenerative eye diseases.


"The light is so basic and probably wouldn't have significance for anybody else, but to me it's meaning I can see light and we can go from here," Hester said shortly after trying out his new glasses for the first time.

Heres' another video of him Freaking Out! (in a good way) upon seeing the outlines of his wife's face.

This People story talks about his trip to New York City earlier this year, seeing the lights of Broadway.

Duluth pastor just got the implants (another video of him seeing for the first time in a decade), as has a Hawaiian woman, and a Minneapolis man too.

They just started implanting them in patients in Italy and France as well.

It's not cheap -- the device itself (and just the device) costs $144,000.

Kind of a happy story. I imagine if you're not blind at the moment, you probably won't have to worry about ever actually going blind. Seems like this is on the way to the "cured" state.

Posted by: Ace at 12:13 PM | Comments (243)
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Two Men, Dressed As Women, Attempt to Ram Through NSA's Gate in Stolen SUV; Police Kill One Man
— Ace

The other man was injured, as was a cop at the gate.

"No link to terrorism" the police are saying.

Officers opened fire after two men dressed as women refused to stop Monday at the National Security Agency gate at Fort Meade and then smashed into a police vehicle blocking the road, officials said. One of the men died, and the other man and the officer were hurt.


An FBI spokeswoman said earlier in the day that the incident was not believed to be linked to terrorism. The NSA said the incident was contained to the vehicle control point area on the perimeter of the secure campus.

A senior defense official said the two men were dressed as women. That official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss an ongoing incident.

A man had opened fire on the NSA building on March 3rd as well.

Per an NBC report, a weapon and drugs had been found in the car as well. (Link to a French article.)

A video report by ABC7 in Maryland (I think), found at Hot Air.


Posted by: Ace at 11:21 AM | Comments (368)
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Iran Defector: United States' Role at Iranian Nuke Talks Is Chiefly to Serve as the "Spokesman" For Iran to the Rest of the Parties
— Ace

"The rest of the parties" being, I think, the UK, Germany, and France, because I imagine that Russia and China are mostly on Iran's side already.

An Iranian journalist writing about the nuclear negotiations between the United States and Iran has defected. In an interview Amir Hossein Motaghi, has some harsh words for his native Iran. He also has a damning indictment of America's role in the nuclear negotiations.

“The U.S. negotiating team are mainly there to speak on Iran’s behalf with other members of the 5+1 countries and convince them of a deal," Motaghi told a TV station after just defecting from the Iranian delegation while abroad for the nuclear talks. The P 5 + 1 is made up of United States, United Kingdom, Russia, China, France, plus Germany.

The defector was an editor serving as media aid to President Hassan Rouhani.

A close media aide to Hassan Rouhani, the Iranian president, has sought political asylum in Switzerland after travelling to Lausanne to cover the nuclear talks between Tehran and the West.

So Obama is acting as Iran's mouthpiece.

Posted by: Ace at 09:47 AM | Comments (560)
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Another Open Thread
— Ace

Sorry I'm a little tired today and obviously I'm dragging here.

I'll put this one up then try to do some work.

Posted by: Ace at 08:29 AM | Comments (556)
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Open Thread
— rdbrewer

Levi Wells Prentice, "Blue Mountain Lake" (n.d.)

Posted by: rdbrewer at 05:00 AM | Comments (596)
Post contains 11 words, total size 1 kb.

Morning Thread (3-30-2015)
— andy

And just like that, it's Monday again ...

Posted by: andy at 01:17 AM | Comments (171)
Post contains 14 words, total size 1 kb.

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