Interesting Bits

09/22/2017 7:03

Politically correct society is the death of comedy',

Society's "stupidly politically correct" sensibilities will lead to the "death of comedy", the veteran Hollywood comedian Mel Brooks has warned.

Brooks, known for his plethora of acclaimed comedy movies, said political correctness was becoming a stranglehold on comedians.

"It's not good for comedy. Comedy has to walk a thin line, take risks," he said.

"Comedy is the lecherous little elf whispering in the king's ear, always telling the truth about human behaviour."

The producer and director said that his iconic western parody Blazing Saddles could not be made in today's political climate.

Brooks said it was the racial prejudice portrayed within the film that was the mechanism behind its cultural significance. 

"Without that the movie would not have had nearly the significance, the force, the dynamism and the stakes that were contained in it,” he said.

(Politically correct society wants to kill comedy, free speech and a lot of other things too)

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09/22/2017 6:55

Mizzou's Continuing Decline

The University of Missouri, where I teach and which I dearly love, is in crisis. Freshman enrollment at the university’s Columbia campus (Mizzou) is down by a whopping 35%from two years ago. Missouri’s governor and legislature slashed Mizzou’s state appropriation by $22 million this year.

Administrators have responded by cutting Mizzou’s operating budget by 12% and laying off 307employees (474 across the entire University of Missouri system). They’ve also closed seven dormitories to students, instead renting out the rooms for football games and special events like the recent solar eclipse.

Suffice it to say, morale on campus is low.

The primary culprit, of course, is Mizzou’s reaction to the student protests of 2015. In November of that year, a group of students, justifiably angered by three racist incidents on the 35,000-student Columbia campus, presented administrators with a number of unreasonable demands. Among other things, they insisted that the president of the 77,000-student University of Missouri system publicly acknowledge his “white male privilege” and resign his post and that the university adopt patently unconstitutional racial quotas for faculty and staff.

Instead of leading like compassionate, wise adults—joining the protestors’ rightful condemnation of racist conduct but working to convince them that their demands were unreasonable—many Mizzou officials either succumbed to or actively perpetuated the frenzy

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09/21/2017 12:42

Guess they Don't Like Diversity

Leaders of the student newspaper at Princeton University have disbanded the publication’s independent editorial board, a move that comes after the group put forth a string of right-leaning opinions, including denouncing the women’s center for its radical feminist agenda and arguing in favor of due process.

“The top editors of the Prince have no involvement in what we write,” said Jack Whelan, a member of the dissolved editorial board, in an interview with The College Fix. “The reason why were we were destroyed is the opinions we published on a regular basis were more conservative than the opinions published on a daily basis in the Princetonian as a whole.”

While most campus newspapers’ editorial boards consist of top editors, the Princetonian had a unique set-up in which its editorial board was made of students representing a wide and diverse swath of campus life, as well as students who leaned left, right and center.

The decision upset members of the disbanded board, who have gone rogue, launching their own website to continue to publish opinions and combat what they call the Princetonian’s “anti-pluralism.”

In their debut editorial Sept. 14, they also called current leaders of the Princetonianout for bias, noting the “catalyst for the change in the Editorial Board’s structure was a series of editorials that did not align with the personal political convictions of the Editor-in-Chief and other senior editors.

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09/21/2017 10:43

Our Fascist Snowflakes Will Never Quit

Well what about Francis Crick? Should we destroy his bust, revoke his Nobel Prize, rename the Francis Crick Institute, and tarnish his many honors?  And should we do the same for Jim Watson, already in disgrace for some racist comments he made a few years back, and now totally demonized to the point that he’s deplatformed if he tries to speak about anything? (I’m not aware of Watson being a “proponent of eugenics”, but I may have missed something.)

I don’t think so. In the net, the contributions of these two men were positive, despite Watson’s continuing emission of unsavory comments (not just about races, but about women). Remember, too, that Crick’s comments were in private letters. There is no evidence I’m aware of that he spoke or wrote publicly about eugenics, despite the fact that he had a ready platform to do so.

Further, Crick did more than just discover the double-helical structure of DNA with Watson (and with data from Wilkins and Franklin; see below): as Matthew wrote the other day, he formulated the “Central Dogma,” suggested the existence of transfer RNA, helped work out the genetic code, and was the first to suggest that protein sequences (and by implication DNA sequences) could be used to deduce evolutionary relationships of species. Both Matthew and I have written other posts about Crick’s remarkable brain and its accomplishments—see herehere, and here, for example.

It is fatuous to suggest that we should demonize Crick and “revisit” his monuments because of a few remarks he made in private letters, remarks whose context isn’t given. Even if Crick thought there might be a genetic IQ gap between blacks and whites, or suggested some form of voluntary sterilization, those were never public remarks. If you want to argue that those private statements in letters are sufficiently bad that they outweigh the good that Crick did, well, you’re welcome to, but you’ll be on shaky ground, accusing him of Thoughtcrime.

And then you’ll have to start in on people like Darwin (as A. N. Wilson just has) for his few remarks about “savages” and their substandard mentality. Darwin was a man of his time, and did have bigoted views, but he was also an ardent abolitionist—not the usual viewpoint of his contemporaries. Because of those views, should we dig the bugger up from Westminster Abbey and turf him into an anonymous grave? Should we tear down the Darwin statues or put them in inconspicuous places, as Wilson appears to suggest? I don’t think so. If you start down the road that tries to remove Darwin and his accomplishments from history—and Wilson has done just that in his new biography—then you’re on the road to perdition.

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09/21/2017 9:02

Prof: ‘Excessive immigration’ is hurting American citizens

“Benjamin Zuckerman, professor of Astronomy and president of Californians for Population Stabilization, argued in an essay for The Daily Bruin that immigration, both legal and illegal, has a negative impact on native-born Americans.

“The importance of a prompt stabilization of the U.S. population is not a newfound concept.”

“For many years the United States has admitted a million legal immigrants a year. This, combined with illegal immigration, has had a significant impact on low-income American workers, who are disproportionately persons of color,” Zuckerman contends.

Of course the snowflakes and totalitarians call him a racist for pointing out these facts—facts to a socialist are inconvenient and must never be mentioned.  Why are campuses on fire?  Dishonesty and immaturity among faculty, administrators and the students see that as a role model.  We have grown a generation of college students unwilling to discuss or accept facts.

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09/21/2017 8:01

DACA denial rate doubles under Trump administration

The Homeland Security Department has doubled the rate of denials of Dreamers’ amnesty applications, according to numbers released Wednesday that suggest the administration had been taking a harder line even before President Trump’s announcement this month that he would phase out the DACA program altogether.

Some 32 percent applications for DACA status that were decided from April to June were rejected. That is twice the 16 percent rate of the last months of the Obama administration and far more than the 1 percent denial rate in the early days of the program.

Analysts said the increase is evidence that Mr. Trump’s get-tough approach is having an effect at all levels of Homeland Security, including the officers at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services who rule on applications for legal immigration benefits such as green cards, citizenship and DACA, the Obama-era deportation amnesty.

“I think the pro-enforcement message from the Trump administration is finally trickling down to the field supervisors and line employees at USCIS,” said Matthew J. O’Brien, a former official at the agency, who is now research director at the Federation for American Immigration Reform. “That would account for a portion of the higher rate of denials.”

He said the big change wasn’t a rise in the sheer number of denials, which have remained steady, but rather a drop in the total number of applications approved. Those fell from about 17,000 in the first three months of the calendar year to about 5,900 in the second quarter, which helped boost the denial rate.

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09/21/2017 7:27

One Trump Promise Fulfilled

How did Trump do? "While there have been some hiccups, overall the Trump administration is on track to finish the first phase (of his regulatory reform program) with $645 million in net annual regulatory savings."

That might not sound like much in a federal budget usually denominated in the trillions of dollars. But consider this: During President Obama's years in office, more than  22,700 regulations were imposed on Americans at an astounding cost to American consumers, businesses and workers of "more than $120 billion each and every year," wrote Heritage Foundation Fellow Diane Katz earlier this year.

"The actual costs are far greater," writes Katz, "both because the impacts have not been fully quantified for a significant number of rules, and because many of the worst effects — the loss of freedom and opportunity — are incalculable."

We're not singling out Obama here, although he was particularly bad by whatever gauge you might care to use. Even so, Democrats and Republicans alike have pledged to reduce the regulatory burden, but very little ever got done. Somehow, it was just another dead promise, to be buried alongside the others.

That's why AAF analyst Dan Goldbeck was prompted to write, "From almost any perspective, President Trump's Executive Order 13,771, Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs, marked one of the most significant developments in regulatory policy in decades," adding that it was the "first time in United States history that the executive branch has established a regulatory budget."

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09/21/2017 7:05

More Vileness From Democrats

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09/21/2017 6:52

He Wiretapped and Lied

Many in the media are diving deeply into minutiae in order to discredit any notion that President Trump might have been onto something in March when he fired off a series of tweets claiming President Obama had “tapped” “wires” in Trump Tower just before the election.

According to media reports this week, the FBI did indeed “wiretap” the former head of Trump’s campaign, Paul Manafort, both before and after Trump was elected. If Trump officials — or Trump himself — communicated with Manafort during the wiretaps, they would have been recorded, too.

But we’re missing the bigger story.

If these reports are accurate, it means U.S. intelligence agencies secretly surveilled at least a half dozen Trump associates. And those are just the ones we know about.

 Besides Manafort, the officials include former Trump advisers Carter Page and Michael Flynn. Last week, we discovered multiple Trump “transition officials” were “incidentally” captured during government surveillance of a foreign official. We know this because former Obama adviser Susan Rice reportedly admitted “unmasking,” or asking to know the identities of, the officials. Spying on U.S. citizens is considered so sensitive, their names are supposed to be hidden or “masked,” even inside the government, to protect their privacy.

In May, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates acknowledged they, too, reviewed communications of political figures, secretly collected under President Obama.

Then, as now, instead of getting the bigger story, some in the news media and quasi-news media published false and misleading narratives pushed by government interests. They implied the computer intrusions were the stuff of vivid imagination, conveniently dismissed forensic evidence from three independent examinations that they didn’t review. All seemed happy enough to let news of the government’s alleged unlawful behavior fade away, rather than get to the bottom of it.

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09/20/2017 9:09

I'd Like To Know Why

Samantha Power, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, was 'unmasking' at such a rapid pace in the final months of the Obama administration that she averaged more than one request for every working day in 2016 – and even sought information in the days leading up to President Trump’s inauguration, multiple sources close to the matter told Fox News. 

Two sources, who were not authorized to speak on the record, said the requests to identify Americans whose names surfaced in foreign intelligence reporting, known as unmasking, exceeded 260 last year. One source indicated this occurred in the final days of the Obama White House.

The details emerged ahead of an expected appearance by Power next month on Capitol Hill. She is one of several Obama administration officials facing congressional scrutiny for their role in seeking the identities of Trump associates in intelligence reports – but the interest in her actions is particularly high. 

In a July 27 letter to Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., said the committee had learned "that one official, whose position had no apparent intelligence-related function, made hundreds of unmasking requests during the final year of the Obama Administration." 

The "official" is widely reported to be Power.

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09/20/2017 8:50

Extremely Disturbing

Astonishingly, half said that snuffing out upsetting speech — rather than, presumably, rebutting or even ignoring it — would be appropriate. Democrats were more likely than Republicans to find this response acceptable (62 percent to 39 percent), and men were more likely than women (57 percent to 47 percent). Even so, sizable shares of all groups agreed.

It gets even worse.

Respondents were also asked if it would be acceptable for a student group to use violence to prevent that same controversial speaker from talking. Here, 19 percent said yes.

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09/20/2017 8:38

Professors For Bullies

About 50 University of Nebraska-Lincoln professors and students protested Monday for 40 minutes in support of a lecturer who bullied a conservative student over her political views.

The university relieved Courtney Lawton, a graduate student instructor, from her teaching duties after she flipped off and bullied the president of the school’s Turning Point USA chapter, Katie Mullen, while she was recruiting on campus.

An administrator even insisted that Mullen had to leave the premises until campus police showed up and affirmed her right to stay. Later, after the bullying became too much and Mullen was harassed to the point of tears, the officers escorted her to safety.

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09/20/2017 7:28

So Trump Was Wiretapped

This, by the way, puts a new gloss on why President Obama did nothing at all when first presented with evidence in the summer of 2016 that the Russians might be hacking our election. It was a way to take down the Democrats' biggest threat, the unpredictable Donald Trump.

As has been noted previously, President Obama didn't have authority on his own to request a wiretap of a U.S. citizen. That requires the Justice Department. But that doesn't mean he didn't make it happen.

The Justice Department was then headed by Loretta Lynch — one of the most politicized Attorneys-General in U.S. history, known for repeatedly bending the truth in her public comments. So it's not a stretch to think that, with a nod and a wink, Obama encouraged Lynch to go after Trump. He had every reason to do so, given that Hillary Clinton at the time seemed to be the only hope for Obama's progressive legacy to live on.

"It was the Comey-led FBI in the Lynch-led DOJ, in the Obama presidency, that reportedly used the FISA Court to obtain a warrant, quite possibly based on the phony (Russian) dossier, that has provided material to get Manafort and pressure him to find something to squeal about and catch a higher-up," wrote Thomas Lifson at the American Thinker. "The legitimacy of that warrant now is in question."

We'll take that a step further. The entire Russia investigation, which was manipulated into being by Obama administration holdovers working with congressional Democrats, now appears to be a fraud. More than a year after the government began looking into the charges, no proof of any wrongdoing or crime has been produced.

This is a tragic turn in American democracy, when a sitting president has a political foe spied upon by our own intelligence agencies. It's time to wind down the Russia probe and begin looking into the real scandal: Whether the Obama administration illegally used the intelligence apparatus of the U.S. to try to neutralize a political opponent. If it did, it's a serious crime that warrants a real criminal investigation — not Mueller's political witch hunt.

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09/20/2017 7:06

In Dallas, They Want to Forget the Alamo

t’s disgusting, this iconoclasm. In 2015, 40 percent of DISD’s schools received a failing grade from the state. To be fair, over 90 percent of DISD’s students come from low income homes, meaning that the school system has tremendous barriers to overcome in educating them. Still, the fact that the DISD trustees are even considering a cosmetic, p.c. gesture like this is a farce.

Yeah, yeah, I know: Dreherbait, no big whoop. But here’s the thing: this knee-jerk iconoclasm tells us something important about where we are headed as a country. When the Founding Fathers, as well as regional figures like Travis and Bowie, are held up to contempt, and “banished” because they do not fit contemporary standards — well, we are destroying the kinds of historical narratives that all nations need to cohere. We certainly should not overlook grave flaws in these men (e.g., that Jefferson, architect of liberty, owned slaves), but it’s madness to regard them as if these tragic flaws made them mere villains. I mean, look: Martin Luther King Jr. was unfaithful to his wife, but it takes an ideological pinhead to believe that this ugly fact diminishes King’s extraordinary accomplishments, takes away from what he gave to America, or in any way threatens his place in American history.

Very few great men and women are saints. I wish the knotheads pushing this iconoclasm would reflect seriously on where this is all headed, or likely to lead.

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09/20/2017 6:57

Trump Hit a Home Run For America

From many of the speakers, at a UN where the majority of the 193 member states are not free, it's a performance rich in platitudes, prejudice and propaganda for consumption by captive populations back home -- a polysyllabic porridge, in the UN tradition. What's relatively rare is plain-spoken truth.

So, by UN standards, Trump's speech certainly did not fit in. But by American standards, he told some extremely important truths, including his observation that "America does more than speak for the values expressed in the United Nations Charter. Our citizens have paid the ultimate price to defend our freedom and the freedom of many nations represented in this great hall."

He spelled out, quite accurately, that "the scourge of our planet today is a small group of rogue regimes that violate every principle on which the United Nations is based."

In particular, and in detail, Trump called out the rogue states of North Korea and Iran. He did not follow a script of pollysyllabic diplomatic enumerations of unacceptable activities. He reminded the UN members of Pyongyang's "deadly abuse" of American student Otto Warmbier. He talked about North Korea's kidnapping of a Japanese 13-year-old girl "to enslave her as a language tutor for North Korea's spies.

(The reaction by leftists and the media (but I repeat myself) matches the hysteria against Reagan's "Evil empire" speech. Time proved Reagan was correct and his opponents were meatheads)

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09/19/2017 12:22

This is a Major Event

Israel and the U.S. inaugurated the first American military base on Israeli soil on Monday, which will serve dozens of soldiers operating a missile defense system.

The move comes at a time of growing Israeli concerns about archenemy Iran's development of long-range missiles. Together with the U.S., Israel has developed a multilayered system of defenses against everything from long-range guided missile attacks from Iran to crude rockets fired from Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.

The base's opening is largely symbolic and isn't expected to bring operational changes. But the Israeli military says that along with other measures, it sends a message of readiness to Israel's enemies.

"It's a message that says Israel is better prepared. It's a message that says Israel is improving the response to threats," said Brig. Gen. Zvika Haimovich, the commander of Israel's aerial defense.

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09/19/2017 7:21

Prof. Turley Fact Checks the Fact Checkers

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee this week raised these same concerns in a press conference. As if on cue, the Washington Post assigned her two “Pinocchios” for saying that Comey’s actions “were improper and likely could have been illegal.”

However, the Post awarded two such findings after concluding that Comey did in fact violate FBI rules and regulations. While I have strongly disagreed with the White House attacks on the media, I believe that this is a prototypical example of the bias in reporting on these controversies. As I have repeatedly said, none of this means that Comey should be charged criminally, but it is important that we recognize the underlying violations that he committed in this controversy.

In her Sept. 12 press briefing, Sanders said, “I think there is no secret Comey, by his own self-admission, leaked privileged government information. Weeks before President Trump fired him, Comey testified that an FBI agent engaged in the same practice. They face serious repercussions. I think he set his own stage for himself on that front. His actions were improper and likely could have been illegal.”

Sanders later repeated a litany of laws and regulations to support this claim from FBI employment agreements to nondisclosure rules to the Privacy Act of 1974. Every line of that statement is unassailably true. The FBI has already indicated that these were FBI documents and nonpartisan Justice Department officials has indicated that they should have been treated as privileged or confidential and not disclosed. Moreover, as discussed below, even the Post recognizes that they “could have been illegal” depending on the outcome of any investigation.

The Post begins its analysis by saying that Sanders appears to be relying on my past writings but then omits key portions of that analysis in finding Sanders is being dishonest.

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09/19/2017 7:11

Emmys Celebrate A Dying Industry

But viewers don’t seem to agree. In fact, general TV audience has declined steadily among all ages below 65-year-olds in the past six years. In the first quarter of 2011, Americans spent an average of 42 hours watching TV per week, according to Nielsen data. By the first quarter of 2017, that number had dropped to 34. The viewership of those aged between 12 and 24 years old has changed by the highest percentage since 2011, a 41 percent decline. Even the Emmy-nominated shows, those the Post critiques as “great television,” have a desperately small following. A Katz Media Group study found that ABC’s Modern Family is the most watched Emmy-nominated show, at 56 percent of respondents. Every other show falls below the 40 percent line, and seven fall below 10 percent.

Over 50 percent of respondents said they had never heard of six of those: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Silicon Valley, The Crown, Atlanta, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Master of None. So perhaps television isn’t the narcotic Colbert and the Post think it is. In fact, many Americans didn’t hear Colbert’s message last night, for the Emmys aren’t immune from the dropping interest in TV. This year’s awards viewership tied last year’s record low of 11.4 million viewers.

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09/19/2017 7:02

UN's Last Chance - Reform or Die

President Trump will present a set of wide-ranging reforms for the United Nations this week that will actually force the dysfunctional organization to begin living up to its lofty ideals. This may be the corrupt, badly disorganized U.N.'s final chance at survival.

Trump had harsh things to say about the U.N. during last year's election. Sadly for the U.N., none of them was fake news or an exaggeration. The U.N. is corrupt. The U.N. isineffective. The U.N. is wasting billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars.

Trump — and his able ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley — have proposed a 10-point reform plan that could be the last chance for the U.N. to ditch its legacy of failure and actually become a responsible global organization.

Right now, the U.S. is footing the bill for the U.N.'s ongoing extravaganza of waste and corruption. American taxpayers fork out 22% of the U.N.'s operating budget, and an estimated 28% of its peacekeeping tab.

There are 193 members of the U.N., virtually all of the world's nations. The U.S. spends more than 176 of them combined on the regular budget, and more than 185 on the peacekeeping budget. The U.N.'s reliance on the U.S. must end.

The U.N. likes to say its budget is just $9 billion or so. In fact, it's vastly larger than that. As it admits in its own budget documents, in 2016 it spent nearly $49 billion, which represented a rise of $10 billion during the Obama years. The U.S. is putting up about $10 billion of the total.

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09/19/2017 6:20

Yes, Sue the ------

Authorities repeatedly claimed that they would not tolerate violence, and the attorney general said he expected the authorities to prosecute those who engaged in violence, but all of these many riots makes it clear that criminal demonstrators are not deterred by the threat of arrests and then minor fines.

        That why Banzhaf - who has been called the "Dean of Public Interest Lawyers," "a Driving Force Behind the Lawsuits That Have Cost Tobacco Companies Billions of Dollars," and "Legal Academia's Instigator in Chief," argues that those who go beyond lawful protests, and engage in violent criminal activities to vent their views, should be sued by all those adversely affected, and that the suits should seek punitive damages and, if possible, be brought as class actions. "Sue The Bastards" includes "Suing the Rioters," he argued in a major legal piece in the National Law Journal.

        Because the threat of arrest and small fines obviously isn't discouraging a growing number who engage in criminal activities as a way of protesting, Banzhaf suggests that all those adversely affected should sue for civil damages under a variety of legal theories, some of which have already been successful.

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