June 6, 2020

Posted by orrinj at 6:47 PM


Posted by orrinj at 5:56 PM


Trump's Twitter account appears as the top result when users search the word 'racist.' (Connor Perrett, 6/06/20, Business Insider)

Twitter users on Saturday noted that when they searched for the word "racist" on the platform, Twitter pointed them toward the account of President Donald Trump. 

"The top result for racist on Twitter is the president of the United States," The Verge's Tom Warren tweeted. 

Business Insider was able to replicate this on Saturday afternoon by searching for both the terms "racist" and "racism."

A spokesperson for Twitter on Saturday told Business Insider that the president is listed under these terms as a result of the company's algorithm, which is triggered by user behavior. 

Posted by orrinj at 5:46 PM


White House, Pentagon tensions near breaking point (ROBERT BURNS, 6/06/20, AP) 

The nub of the problem is that Trump sees no constraint on his authority to use what he calls the "unlimited power" of the military even against U.S. citizens if he believes it necessary. Military leaders generally take a far different view. They believe that active-duty troops, trained to hunt and kill an enemy, should be used to enforce the law only in the most extreme emergency, such as an attempted actual rebellion. That limit exists, they argue, to keep the public's trust.

Vincent K. Brooks, a recently retired Army four-star general, says this "sacred trust" has been breached by Trump's threat to commit active-duty troops for law enforcement in states where he deems a governor has not tough enough against protesters.

"It is a trust that the military, especially the active-duty military -- 'the regulars' -- possessing great physical power and holding many levers that could end freedom in our society and could shut down our government, would never, never apply that power for domestic political purposes," Brooks wrote in an essay for Harvard University's Belfer Center, where he is a senior fellow.

Even beyond the prospect of using active-duty forces, the presence of National Guard troops on the streets of the nation's capital has drawn criticism, particularly after a Guard helicopter may have been used improperly to intimidate protesters.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper has made known his regret at having accompanied Trump to a presidential photo opportunity in front of a church near the White House. He has said he did not see it coming -- a blind spot that cost him in the eyes of critics who saw a supposedly apolitical Pentagon chief implicitly endorsing a political agenda.

Esper two days later risked Trump's ire when he stepped before reporters at the Pentagon to declare his opposition to Trump invoking the two-centuries-old Insurrection Act. That law allows a president to use the armed forces "as he considers necessary" when "unlawful obstructions ... or rebellion against the authority of the United States" make it impractical to enforce U.S. laws in any state by normal means.

Esper said plainly that he saw no need for such an extreme measure, a clear counterpoint to Trump's threat to use force. Almost immediately, word came from the White House that Trump was unhappy with his defense secretary, who often mentions his own military credentials as a West Point graduate and veteran of the 1991 Gulf War in Iraq.

Posted by orrinj at 12:34 PM


Posted by orrinj at 11:01 AM


On kneeling (David Warren, 6/06/20)

One kneels to what one believes to be holy: Jesus Christ, in the case of faithful Catholics; or political correctness, in the case of those who deny Him. In the present circumstances, when the former are denied access to the Sacraments in many places, especially here in Canada, we may still kneel in prayer. This is a gesture also available to all non-Catholic Christians, which was, until recently, universally understood. If, as a Catholic, one kneels before a priest, one is not worshipping but acknowledging him to be In persona Christi capitis ("in the person of Christ the head"). The priest must be a real one, however, in the appointive descent from Our Lord, Christ the King.

Christians were, in the first centuries, willing to die rather than kneel to Caesar, so why should they be any more willing to kneel before the stinking race platitudes of today? Just to avoid being smeared in social media? Or more significantly, in the recent leftist race riots, when a radical demands that someone kneel before him (I have seen several videos), should he do so in order to avoid being beaten, maimed, possibly murdered?

The twin notions here, that Christ is not present in victims of police violence and that the cause of racial justice is not holy, are vile, even if unintentional.  

Posted by orrinj at 8:50 AM


FALLING IN LOVE WITH THE ROCKFORD FILES--ALL OVER AGAIN: James Garner and 'The Rockford Files' didn't just humanize the TV private detective; for some, the show was a kind of guide to life. (NATHAN WARD, 6/04/20, Crime Reads)

To an eleven-year-old, Jim Rockford had a life I could happily imagine for my future self: He lived alone in a beaten green and white trailer on a promontory over a Malibu beach, where he spent much of his free time surfcasting, often with his dad, a semi-retired longhaul trucker known as Rocky, whose whole existence seemed to revolve around fishing with his adult son; when he worked, Jim Rockford charged clients an impressive-sounding "$200 a day plus expenses" for snooping around and he drove a cool gold Pontiac Firebird Esprit in which he outmaneuvered Mob wheelmen and hot-headed Feds. (The car chase thrived on 1970s TV the way the epic guitar solo dominated '70s rock.)

Over five and a half seasons, Jim Rockford would offer a number of life lessons: That you can gain entry to many social functions simply by wearing a blue sport coat or phony glasses; when impersonating salesmen, it's good to have a variety of drawling accents and bold hats; any business office can be accessed either with a set of quality lock picks or by double-talking the receptionist and showing fake business cards you can print in your car; in a high-speed chase, you can often outsmart goons with a cool reverse J-turn move they somehow never expect; sometimes you'll work for people you detest, so know how much you're willing to take; likewise, being a good listener is not only nice manners but also can be professionally useful. And finally, if you want the dream of a home office without paying a secretary, then rent an answering machine (rather new at the time).

The Rockford Files' opening sequence did not show the usual action shot, chalk corpse silhouette, or hero swirled in police lights but a pan of Jim's untidy desk laid with playing cards and a large standing photo of his dad, as the answering machine plays. Jim's messages famously began every episode, ensuring that fans of the show would be in their seats as it opened: "Hey Jim, this is Louie down at the fish market--you gonna pick up these halibut or what?"

Jim's style may be sardonic, but he can be decent to a fault, rare among world-weary sleuths, perhaps because his father Rocky believes the best of people. Rocky was appealingly played by Noah Beery, with his can-do 1940s cowboy demeanor. (If you have seen Red River he is part of the montage of cowhand faces howling to launch the famous cattle drive). Rocky is always telling his son to drive a rig (it's safer) or come up to the cabin to hunt and relax from the hazards of the investigator's life. Writer Stephen Cannell created Rocky thinking of his own father, who was puzzled by his strange choice of profession instead of joining the family business. There is scant evidence in the show that Jim ever had a mother; perhaps it would be too painful to talk about.

Rocky hopes Jim will get married and find a less dangerous line of work, but always helps him out when goons come to the trailer, which is often. (Rockford's trailer may be the most-tossed location in TV history.) After one close call, however, Rocky finally blows up: "I am through talking to you! Look at you, an inch or two to the right and you'd be missing that eye!"

"Yeah," answers Jim, "but look at it this way, an inch or two to the left and he'd have missed me completely." Rocky is not amused.

The Rockford Files seemed revolutionary in being so funny and still delivering a tense crime plot. It is hard now to appreciate the freshness of Jim Rockford's adventures against its era of old school police dramas and newer crime shows with smirky tag lines (Kojak's "Who loves Ya, baby?' or Baretta's "And dat's the name of dat tune"): One of the funnier Rockford episodes, "A Clean Bust with Sequel Rights," spoofs such shows, when Jim is hired by an insurance company to "babysit" a celebrity cop (Hector Elizondo) whose police exploits have become a bestseller, movie, TV show and kids' toy line. It pains Jim how his father is thrilled watching the TV detective shout, "Freeze, Turkey!" as he makes the bust. (In fact, Rockford Files began as an unused plot idea for another project of producer Roy Huggins, the short-lived Detective series Toma, which itself then morphed into Robert Blake's Baretta.)

Jim had none of the hard-drinking tough guy detective who needs to be saved from himself and he would not be caught walking around with Baretta's cockatoo on his shoulder, either. In the second season ("The Big Ripoff," Ep7) we get as close as we come to a Rockford code: Jill Clayburgh plays a young artist's model who rescues Jim after he's been badly beaten up. As he returns to his dangerous work, she asks, "Is there any thing you won't do for money?" "I won't kill for it," Rockford answers, "and I won't marry for it. Other than that, I'm open to just about anything." At the time The Rockford Files appeared, the closest thing to it was Harry O, whose private eye worked on his boat when not solving crimes. But Harry retained the gravitas of the police detective he once had been; Rockford's sense of justice comes from his serving five years for a robbery he didn't commit, before receiving a pardon and learning to become a PI. Still, I'm sure the ex-cop and ex-con could have gone fishing together in Harry's boat.

Not many CVs that can beat: Maverick, Rockford, Marlowe and The Great Escape.

Posted by orrinj at 8:35 AM


Why is it that age limits never apply to men? (Prue Leith, June 4, 2020, Spectator USA)

I'm not sure that we oldies aren't being over-protected at the expense of the young. We're told that people over 70 are 90 percent more likely to die of coronavirus than young children, so I guess it's important to keep us out of harm's way so we don't clog up the hospitals. But I bet some economist somewhere is thinking what a good thing it would be for the country if there were a lot fewer old people. We are a very expensive cohort: we need a lot of healthcare; we don't earn any money, we don't do much work and we live longer and longer. Anthony Trollope wrote an amazing novel, The Fixed Period, about a shipwrecked community in the South Seas who devise a quasi-religion that makes it compulsory, and honorable, to walk into oblivion at the age of 70. Interestingly, when the charismatic leader responsible for this solution nears 70 himself, suddenly it doesn't seem like such a good idea.

Funny that. I can't count the number of men in my long business life, who, when reaching 70 and expected to leave the board, found very good reasons why an exception should be made in their case: 'I'm the only true hotelier on the board; I understand the history of the company like no one else; So-and-so needs my guidance for a couple of years.' Dictatorial presidents are less subtle. They just change the rules.

Posted by orrinj at 8:02 AM


Why Statecraft Is Still Soulcraft: Without personal character development, good self-government becomes impossible. (ANDY SMARICK, 6/06/20, American Conservative)

Civic virtue might be thought of as the sensibilities and actions of citizens that contribute to a good society. A similar definition describes it as the set of personal qualities associated with the effective functioning of the civil and political order. Embedded in this concept is the idea that individuals have not just personal rights but also obligations to the community. This means that a citizen must think and act beyond him or herself; it also means that this thinking and acting should be tethered to a collective understanding of the common good. 

So there are at least two ethical dimensions to civic virtue: how we ought to act and what constitutes a healthy community. A similar concept is "character," which has been concisely defined by Anne Snyder in The Fabric of Character as "a set of dispositions to be and do good." In the context of public affairs, character can be thought of as the personal attributes that align a citizen's thoughts and actions with civic virtue. 

Over time, education scholars have attempted to clarify the meaning of character by describing its component parts. In his 2011 Phi Delta Kappanessay "Character as the Aim of Education," David Light Shields offers four categories of character in a manner especially helpful to the discussion of schooling. First, referencing Ron Ritchhart's work, Shields discusses "intellectual" character. This is knowledge, but it's more than the mere accumulation of content. It extends to developing the personal dispositions that enable continued learning--traits like curiosity, open-mindedness, and skepticism.

A second is "performance" character--a set of habits "that enable an individual to accomplish intentions and goals." This includes diligence, courage, initiative, and determination. Performance character is often described as "enabling excellence." That is, young people, if they are to succeed in school and beyond, need to learn how to willingly engage in challenging work, stick with difficult tasks until successful completion, and bounce back after failure. In terms of productive engagement in public affairs in a diverse democracy, these skills will help budding citizens participate in sensitive but essential debates; work through complicated, arduous political processes; and continue to engage after losing a bruising policy battle.

The rub, however, is that intellectual and performance character can be worryingly agnostic regarding substance. Curiosity will help a student collect a great deal of information, but it won't tell her what is good or bad. Likewise, an open mind can be filled with either wholesome or wicked ideas. One could courageously engage in either humane or inhumane reform, doggedly fight for either a just or unjust cause, and show great initiative for either charity or cruelty. 

This is why a third category is necessary--what many have called "moral" character. Shields refers to it as "a disposition to seek the good and right." Such a disposition can guide our application of curiosity, skepticism, confidence, and determination. Moral character can include an understanding of justice and enduring ethical rules, as well as honesty, integrity, humility, duty, gratitude, and respect. These values can help young people understand why equal opportunity is invaluable, why prudent language in debate is important, why discrimination based on protected classes is unlawful, why spreading false information is wrong, why societies develop policies to protect innocent life, why just-war theory shields non-combatants, and much more. When done right, the combination of intellectual, performance, and moral character can help young people mature and develop essential citizenship skills. 

As the importance of labor declines we have a great opportunity to reorient education from job-preparation back to preparing Americans to be good republicans.

Posted by orrinj at 7:33 AM


The Cross and the Lynching Tree (Steve Hollaway, Harbor Church, June 3, 2018, Block Island Times)

Jesus was lynched. To hear that word applied to Jesus is shocking, first because the cross has been sanitized in our imagination and turned into a religious symbol. We don't often think of it as an act of mob violence supported by government and religious authorities. But second, I think it is shocking to hear that Jesus was lynched because it makes you wonder why such an obvious way to describe what happened to Jesus has never been used in American churches. Twice in the book of Acts, the apostolic preachers say that Jesus was "hanged on a tree," and Paul takes the old law that says anyone hanging on a tree is cursed to make the point that Jesus bore the curse for us. But it never crossed our minds that Jesus was like "strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees."

When the black theologian James Cone died recently, I was moved to read his last book, The Cross and the Lynching Tree [Orbis, 2011], in which he points out that no white theologians or preachers, and almost no black ones, made a comparison between what happened to Jesus and what happened to at least 4,000 black men, women, and children. Once you juxtapose those two images in your mind--once you see the man hanging on the old rugged cross next to a man hanging from a regular tree for everyone to gawk at--it's hard not to see lynchings as 19th and 20th century crucifixions. I think the juxtaposition deepens our reflections on the cross.

Both the cross and the lynching tree were symbols of terror, instruments of torture and execution, reserved primarily for slaves, criminals, and insurrectionists--the lowest of the low in society. Both Jesus and blacks were publicly humiliated, subjected to the utmost indignity and cruelty. They were stripped, in order to be deprived of dignity, then paraded, mocked and whipped, pierced, derided and spat upon, tortured for hours in the presence of jeering crowds for popular entertainment. In both cases, the purpose was to strike terror in the subject community. It was to let people know that the same thing would happen to them if they did not stay in their place.

We like to think that if we were in Jerusalem, we would have stood up for Jesus, but the truth is it's not bloody likely. And we like to think that if we were in the South in the period 1882-1968 when lynchings occurred, we would have tried to stop them, but honestly, how likely is that?

Posted by orrinj at 7:28 AM


A critical mass of Americans comes to terms with the truth: Is there finally consciousness that law enforcement officers too often serve white privilege, not justice? (Diane Roberts, June 1, 2020, The Prospect)

Now something has changed. Pretty much every living soul has watched the video of a Minneapolis cop with his knee on George Floyd's neck, grinding his face into the pavement as Floyd pleads, cries, and dies. He's not the first black man to die on camera: we've all seen it many times before. There was Floyd's fellow Minnesotan Philando Castile, shot by police in front of his girlfriend and her four-year-old child and Eric Garner, put in a chokehold by an NYPD officer who ignored Garner gasping, "I can't breathe." But this time it feels different, as if a wire worn thin over too many years finally broke: as if a critical mass of Americans finally realised that too many of our police equate dark skin with criminality and violence. Many of us are just now coming to the truth that law enforcement officers too often serve white privilege and white property, not justice.

Perhaps three and a half years of Donald Trump's race-baiting presidency is raising the national consciousness. The white men now charged with the murder of Arbery claimed he looked like somebody who might have robbed a local construction site. That's code: he was a black guy in a mostly white space. An intruder. The white woman who tried to weaponise the police against a black bird-watcher who told her to leash her out-of-control dog in Central Park. She shouted into her phone: "an African-American man is threatening my life!" Behind her lay 400 years of American history in which a white woman would always be seen as the victim and a black man the aggressor.

Christian Cooper, the black birder, filmed the whole thing. He's alive; she got fired from her Wall Street job--a rare instance of justice. Nonetheless, in America you can be killed for driving while black, jogging while black, shopping while black, even sleeping while black. In March, Breonna Taylor, a medical technician in Louisville, Kentucky, was killed in her own bed by police using a battering ram to break into her home.

In normal times, back before we started hoarding hand-sanitiser and loo roll, if some atrocity--a school shooting, a terrorist bombing, a terrible storm--occurred, Americans could be certain their government would, at minimum, try to calm things down. George W Bush, rarely celebrated for his eloquence, won bi-partisan praise for his speech after al-Qaeda attacked the Pentagon and the World Trade Center. When a white supremacist murdered nine black parishioners in a Charleston church, President Barack Obama sang "Amazing Grace" and spoke of forgiveness and love. A few days ago, Trump managed to express sympathy for Floyd's family, but then tweeted he'd be prepared to send in the army to quell American citizens, called protestors "thugs," and promised "when the looting starts, the shooting starts."

Posted by orrinj at 6:42 AM


Conspiracy theories and racist memes: How a dozen Texas GOP county chairs caused turmoil within the party (NAOMI ANDU, CLARE PROCTOR AND MIGUEL GUTIERREZ JR. JUNE 5, 2020, Texas Tribune)

On Friday morning, Texas' top Republican officials, including Gov. Greg Abbott, had condemned four GOP chairs for proliferating conspiracy theories on Facebook. The posts, from chairs of some of the largest counties in Texas, suggested George Floyd's death was staged to erode black support for President Donald Trump. Meanwhile, a fifth chairperson posted a racist image of a Martin Luther King Jr. quote next to a banana.

On Friday afternoon, The Texas Tribune identified similar posts from seven more GOP chairs across the state. Some of these posts suggested people who have been protesting Floyd's death across the state and the country were being paid by Jewish billionaire George Soros -- an oft-used anti-Semitic trope.

GOP county chairs are elected leaders of the Republican Party who help oversee local elections and head up county-level meetings and events. News circulating about the first five chairs' posts sparked concern -- both internal and external -- about the Texas GOP.

"This is a disgusting level of ignorance that's hard to hear from anyone, much less an elected official," State Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, said in an email to the Tribune. "I'm glad to see Republican state leaders finally start to push back against this nonsense and look forward to a day when we can actually debate fact-based policy instead of constantly refuting conspiracies."

Posted by orrinj at 6:29 AM


Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mark Milley had 'shouting match with Donald Trump to force him to back down over sending in troops to clear Washington DC protesters (JAMES GORDON, 6/06/20, DAILYMAIL.COM )

The nation's top military officer, General Mark Milley, got into a 'shouting match' with President Donald Trump earlier this week after the president spoke of his wish to end the country's riots and protests by sending in active military forces into American cities. 

A senior military official alleges the pair argued loudly before Trump finally backed down. 

Responding to Trump's request to have troops on the ground in major U.S. cities where riots and protests were taking place, Gen. Milley is said to have stayed firm, responding: 'I'm not doing that. That's for law enforcement.' [...]

The official who is said to have overheard the argument told the New Yorker, ''We have a bully in the White House, and a bully needs a bully.'  

Always bet on the Deep State.