When Journalists Call For An End To Free Speech

November 30, 2020

I’ll grant it’s a stretch to call CNN’s Oliver Darcy a “journalist” (though I suppose he is by the standards of Tass or Pravda), but he does work for a major news organization and he, along with all too many of his colleagues, is not just open to restrictions on free speech on the Internet (and would it stop there?), but are actively calling for them.

Attorney Jonathan Turley, himself no conservative, takes Darcy to task in a post today labeled “And Why Stop There?” What’s disturbing is not just the likes of Darcy calling for free speech restrictions, but members of the US Goverment. As Turley relates:

What is chilling about Darcy’s writings is that they reflect the view of many now in Congress and in the Democratic Party. Indeed, they reflect many in the Biden campaign. Once a party that fought for free speech, it has become the party demanding Internet censorship and hate speech laws. President-Elect Joe Biden has called for speech controls and recently appointed a transition head for agency media issues that is one of the most pronounced anti-free speech figures in the United States. It is a trend that seems now to be find support in the media, which celebrated the speech of French President Emmanuel Macron before Congress where he called on the United States to follow the model of Europe on hate speech.

And Europe is not a model we should want to follow, no matter how much Progressives give in to their Europhilia. If you want to read a good book on the dangers to free speech in Europe, let me recommend Paul Coleman’s “Censored: how European ‘free speech’ laws are threatening freedom of speech.”

The assault on free speech from the Left in government, the media, and academia is a dangerous movement for our Republic. I’m with Mr. Turley:

So put me down as preferring free speech without the helpful guards and content modification. Instead, I hold a novel idea that people can reach their own conclusions on such … disinformation just as Darcy does.

In other words, I’ll think for myself, thank you.

2020 election: Things That Make You Go “Hmmm…”

November 29, 2020

To put it mildly, I’ve been skeptical of the idea that the 2020 election was stolen for Joe Biden. Yes, there was a fair amount of corruption (looking at you, Philly and Detroit) and incompetence (really, Georgia?), but the idea that some grand fraud could move enough votes over several states to rig the election just seemed unbelievable.

Even if the President believed it.

But, there are things that make you wonder. Writing in The Spectator, pollster Patrick Basham describes himself as puzzled:

First, consider some facts. President Trump received more votes than any previous incumbent seeking reelection. He got 11 million more votes than in 2016, the third largest rise in support ever for an incumbent. By way of comparison, President Obama was comfortably reelected in 2012 with 3.5 million fewer votes than he received in 2008.

Trump’s vote increased so much because, according to exit polls, he performed far better with many key demographic groups. Ninety-five percent of Republicans voted for him. He did extraordinarily well with rural male working-class whites.

He earned the highest share of all minority votes for a Republican since 1960. Trump grew his support among black voters by 50 percent over 2016. Nationally, Joe Biden’s black support fell well below 90 percent, the level below which Democratic presidential candidates usually lose.

Trump increased his share of the national Hispanic vote to 35 percent. With 60 percent or less of the national Hispanic vote, it is arithmetically impossible for a Democratic presidential candidate to win Florida, Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico. Bellwether states swung further in Trump’s direction than in 2016. Florida, Ohio and Iowa each defied America’s media polls with huge wins for Trump. Since 1852, only Richard Nixon has lost the electoral college after winning this trio, and that 1960 defeat to John F. Kennedy is still the subject of great suspicion.

In addition to his general misgivings, he lists nine specific points. Here are two:

1. Late on election night, with Trump comfortably ahead, many swing states stopped counting ballots. In most cases, observers were removed from the counting facilities. Counting generally continued without the observers

2. Statistically abnormal vote counts were the new normal when counting resumed. They were unusually large in size (hundreds of thousands) and had an unusually high (90 percent and above) Biden-to-Trump ratio

I’ll admit, put all these together and it does look suspicious. It’s like a bank robbery: if you see security footage of guys coming into a bank and spray-painting the cameras so you can’t see anything else, you can still make reasonable inferences when, the next day, the money you thought was there is now gone.

But inference is not proof. This was a passionate election, with, if I recall right, the largest percentage turnout since 1900. Trump is a polarizing figure, and it’s not a stretch for me to think two things can be true at once: that voters chose to maintain the Republicans in the states and increase their numbers in the House, while at the same time enough of those same voters rejected Trump personally and voted to replace him. I’ve remarked several times that, regardless of the success and popularity of many of his policies (Operation Warp Speed, for example, the quest to find a vaccine for the Wuhan virus, is an undoubted success), his behavior, his inability to rise to the role of Chief of State during the pandemic, not just Chief Executive, hurt his campaign.

When many in the nation wanted that Chief of State, that “national reassurer,” if you will, Trump couldn’t do it, and I think that cost him a lot of votes. He needed to do that to beat the headwinds of an insanely hostile and dishonest media, but failed.

And to be fair, Mr. Basham is not exactly disinterested. He has written for the UK’s Daily Express predicting a Trump landslide. Thus, he has an arguable interest in self-justification. And there are questions about his claims to academic qualification. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the suspicious activity he cites are not still signs of a stolen election, nor that he’s wrong or disingenuous here. It does mean we should be wary, however.

Still, take a look also at this article from Kim Strassel about Nancy Pelosi’s biggest priority when she returned as Speaker in 2019: not healthcare, not the Green New Deal, but changing the electoral system:

House Resolution 1 is the designation for the first bill unveiled in any new Congress. It’s designed to highlight the majority party’s top priority. In early 2017, the Republican-led House gave the title to Donald Trump’s tax reform. When Mrs. Pelosi retook the speaker’s gavel in 2019, her party had just campaigned on a slew of urgent Democratic priorities: health care, climate change, immigration, student debt. None of these rose to the honor of H.R. 1.

Instead, Mrs. Pelosi unveiled a 600-plus page bill devoted to “election reform.” Some of the legislation was aimed at weaponizing campaign-finance law, giving Democrats more power to control political speech and to intimidate opponents. But the bill was equally focused on empowering the federal government to dictate how states conduct elections—with new rules designed to water down ballot integrity and to corral huge new tranches of Democratic voters.

She then lists the provisions of the bill:

The bill would require states to offer early voting. They also would have to allow Election Day and online voter registration, diluting the accuracy of voting rolls. H.R. 1 would make states register voters automatically from government databases, including federal welfare recipients. Colleges and universities were designated as voter-registration hubs, and 16-year-olds would be registered to vote two years in advance. The bill would require “no fault” absentee ballots, allowing anyone to vote by mail, for any reason. It envisioned prepaid postage for federal absentee ballots. It would cripple most state voter-ID laws. It left in place the “ballot harvesting” rules that let paid activists canvass neighborhoods to hoover up absentee votes.

The bill didn’t become law (thank you, Mitch McConnell), but Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats, following the infamous advice of Rahm Emanuel –“Never let a crisis go to waste”– used the pandemic to ram many of these measures through the courts and at the state level, the latter often via “emergency” decrees by Democrat governors, such as California’s Gavin Newsom, grossly abusing their emergency powers to rewrite their states’ laws.

As Strassel writes, these measures didn’t create cheating, they just potentially facilitated it. To use the bank analogy above, Pelosi the bank manager unlocked the doors and then went home, confident she’d get her cut.

So, did Joe Biden win the presidency through cheating? I still doubt it, but now less so.

But, even if he did, what can be done? The Trump campaign’s efforts have been weak and repeatedly thrown out of court. As National Review’s Andy McCarthy has written, the remedies they’re seeking (such as tossing out the votes and having legislatures name electors) are way out scale with any evidence of harm they’ve been able to produce.

But it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. It’s like the provision in Scottish law, “not proven.” In other words, “we can’t prove you did it, but we know you did it, so don’t do it again!”

It may be that, barring shocking revelations in the next few weeks that change the national mood, the best solution remaining, assuming corruption, is sunshine and reform: research proving the election was stolen that in turn leads to reforms to secure the integrity of future elections. These would include voter ID, strict limitations on mail-in ballots, and an end to vote-harvesting.

For now, however, I’m left thinking “hmmm…”

Will Corporal Klinger be our new National Supply Commander?

November 13, 2020

It’s going to be a long four years, isn’t it? Via Reason magazine:

“This week, President-elect Joe Biden previewed several ways he plans to take bold action upon assuming office in January. Among the most immediately consequential would be his promise to appoint a “Supply Commander” to “take command of the national supply chain for essential equipment, medications, and protective gear.”

Overburdened hospital capacity was one of the primary concerns cited by proponents of lockdowns as the COVID-19 pandemic gained steam in spring 2020. The system’s continued potential vulnerability is now a doubly contentious issue. On one hand, there are renewed calls for stricter lockdowns; on the other, there is criticism that the system did not improve under incumbent President Donald Trump’s watch.

‘We can no longer leave this to the private sector,” proclaims Biden’s website. “The Supply Commander should work with every governor to determine their needs, and then coordinate production and delivery of those needs in a timely and efficient manner. And, the Supply Commander should direct the distribution of critical equipment as cases peak at different times in different states or territories.'”

Lockdowns prolonged the problem, and the last thing we need is more statism and bureaucracy.

Joe Biden as Emperor Nerva?

November 12, 2020

Okay, America to Roman Empire analogies are way overdone, but something crossed my mind this morning that amused me a bit: What if President Joe Biden was America’s answer to Emperor Nerva?

Our next president?

Marcus Cocceius Nerva came to the throne in A.D. 96 after the assassination of Emperor Domitian, who was, shall we say, quite controversial in the Empire. Lots of people had reason to hate him.

Not that I’m saying Trump is a batshit insane murderer, unlike Domitian, but, after a term that roiled politics and society, not unlike Domitian’s, at least some of the people who wanted someone different in office were looking for a return of calm.

Enter the old man, a grandfatherly figure who promises everyone can relax, now.

Joe Biden, meet Nerva. Nerva, meet Joe Biden.

But bear in mind also that Nerva, as an old man, was a transitional figure. He died of a stroke and secondary illness after fifteen months on the throne. At the time of his death, he was 67, pretty old for the First Century.

Joe Biden will be 78 when he is inaugurated, and he is clearly slipping into dementia. He may not make it fifteen months.

The key to Nerva’s significance is who he picked to succeed him: Marcus Ulpius Trajanus, an experienced and accomplished general whom we know as the Emperor Trajan. Taking power in a peaceful transition after Nerva’s death, Trajan went on to become one of Rome’s greatest emperors.

Joe Biden, on the other hand, picked Kamala Harris.

We’ll see.

If Your TDS Lasts Longer Than Four Years, Call Your Psychiatrist

November 12, 2020

He broke them.

I’ve often said there is plenty to criticize President Trump for, but his opponents ninety-nine percent of the time avoid these real criticisms and go “straight to Hitler.” This morning’s case in point is a tweet from Robert Reich, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley and Labor Secretary in the Clinton administration.

Also a certified hysteric:

This is either ignorance, which I doubt in Reich’s case, or a casual mendacity that shows his contempt for his readers.

Trump the “closest to a dicator” we’ve ever come? Let’s see, did he…

Why, no. Those were presidents Franklin Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Barack Obama. Each used his powers far more dictatorially than Trump ever has. In FDR’s case, it was arguably the worst civil rights atrocity since slavery, all done on the order of one man. I’m sure we can find other examples.

Now, I’m not saying that any of those men was an actual “dictator;” that would be Reichian hyperbole. But to say Trump has done anything like this let alone being the closest we’ve come to a dictator is not just risible, it’s contemptible.

Which seems to be Professor Reich’s métier these days.

Postscript: In case someone argues that Trump was dictatorial, too, let’s look at three things often cited.

  • Children in cages. A policy pursuant in compliance with court orders regarding the children of illegal border-crossers, hardly the actions of a dictator. Also, begun under the Obama administration.
  • “The press is the enemy of the people!” Yep, a stupid, stupid thing to say. But what actions were taken to punish those enemies? Unlike the journalists spied on by the Obama administration, the Trump administration did nothing. Surely Jim Acosta would be in jail by now, if it had.
  • Immigration enforcement and ICE raids. Again, done under authority of existing law and often targeted at criminals who were a danger to the communities they were hiding in.

Not the actions of a dictator.

Reopening This Old Blog

November 11, 2020

Hey, long-time, no see! I bet you’ve been wondering where I’ve been.

(You did notice I hadn’t been posting much, right?)

Well, about four years ago, I realized I was just fresh out of things to say, other than the occasional post on certain occasions. The 2016 election campaign just wore me out and I found myself saying the same things over and over. It was time to take a short break.

A break that lasted several years. Oops.

Well, I’m not sure why, but I’ve been getting the feeling that breaktime is over. It’s time to blog again.

I doubt I’ll be posting several times a day, or even every day, but when something catches my eye that I think others should know about and would take more than 280 characters to express, I’ll put something here. That should at least be a few times a week.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go dust this place off and figure out this new, “improved” editor WordPress has foisted on me.

Why people have to “fix” what already works fine is a mystery to me.