American Elephants


Who Hacked Whom? And When? And Why? Developing… by The Elephant's Child

Remember when the media was all a-flutter with the news that the Democratic National Committee had been hacked? All those Hillary emails, John Podesta’s computer. As they say…developing.

The FBI has arrested the top technology aide to Rep Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-FL former Democratic Party chairwoman. Imwan Awan, a Pakistani born aide, was arrested on Monday as he attempted to board a flight to Pakistan, after wiring $283,000 from the Congressional Credit Union to that country. Credit union officials permitted the wire to go through.

Imran Awan had access to all emails and files of dozens of members of Congress, as well as the password to the iPad that Wasserman Schultz used for Democrat National Committee business before she resigned from that post in July 2016.

Imran Iwan’s wife, Hina Alvi, was also on the House payroll. She withdrew her children from school and left the county in March. Police confronted her at the airport, found $12,000 in cash hidden in her luggage, but did not stop her from boarding a flight Pakistan via Qatar. House authorities told members in February that Imran and his relatives were suspects in a criminal investigation into theft and IT abuses, and they were banned from the Capitol network.

Wasserman Schultz refused to fire Imran, and has blocked Capitol Police from searching a laptop they confiscated because it was tied to him. The FBI has joined the search and seized smashed harddrives from Imran’s home. Soon after Imran began working for Schultz in 2005, four of his relatives appeared on the payroll of other Democrats at inflated salaries. The Awans own numerous rental properties with questionable multiple mortgages, told renters they want payments in untraceable ways. His wife made $165,000 working for House Democrats, took out a second mortgage against a house from the Congressional Federal Credit Union by claiming that it was her “principal residence,” said that she will “occupy” the property, which she did not, but also fraudulently reported no rental income on her taxes.

Awan has also worked for at least 25 other Democrat House members as an “information technology director.” He is now under arrest for bank fraud, released on bail under constraint of a GPS locator and a limited area in which he can move, while the FBI investigates further.

John Podesta’s computer was also hacked, supposedly because he used “password” as his password, but perhaps it is not that simple. Mr. Podesta, Hillary’s campaign chairman, seems to have his own interesting Russian connections.

Russian interest in American electoral campaigns is hardly anything new. Former president Barack Obama interfered in a number of political campaigns — in Israel, England, France and Egypt. Ted Kennedy once went to Russia to beg them to interfere. Obama’s promise to Medvedev of having “more flexibility” in his dealings with Russia “after the election” was interesting as well. Eventually, the truth will out.

 



“The Closing of the Scientific Mind” by The Elephant's Child

An excerpt from a post by David Gelernter on January 1, 2014, in Commentary: “The Closing of the Scientific Mind,” in which he challenges scientists, suggesting that “the cultural authority science has acquired over the last century has imposed large duties on every scientist.” Are you listening Michael Mann?

I hope this brief excerpt will prompt you to read the whole thing, which is brilliant.

The Kurzweil Cult.

The voice most strongly associated with what I’ve termed roboticism is that of Ray Kurzweil, a leading technologist and inventor. The Kurzweil Cult teaches that, given the strong and ever-increasing pace of technological progress and change, a fateful crossover point is approaching. He calls this point the “singularity.” After the year 2045 (mark your calendars!), machine intelligence will dominate human intelligence to the extent that men will no longer understand machines any more than potato chips understand mathematical topology. Men will already have begun an orgy of machinification—implanting chips in their bodies and brains, and fine-tuning their own and their children’s genetic material. Kurzweil believes in “transhumanism,” the merging of men and machines. He believes human immortality is just around the corner. He works for Google.

Whether he knows it or not, Kurzweil believes in and longs for the death of mankind. Because if things work out as he predicts, there will still be life on Earth, but no human life. To predict that a man who lives forever and is built mainly of semiconductors is still a man is like predicting that a man with stainless steel skin, a small nuclear reactor for a stomach, and an IQ of 10,000 would still be a man. In fact we have no idea what he would be.

And to return to 2017: This piece from Breitbart today:  “Kalashnikov Group Announced Fully-Automated Combat Robots.”

Kalashnikov, the Russian weapons manufacturer behind the most effective killing machine in history, has stepped into the future of warfare, announcing its development of autonomous AI-controlled combat robots.

If you find that all entirely too scary, here’s a thoughtful piece by Matt Ridley, who is always thoughtful:

“Why You Should Be Optimistic”



Just What Is Fake News Anyway? by The Elephant's Child



Stop The Presses! The President Just Tweeted! by The Elephant's Child

Twitter first gained public attention only in 2006, and has grown in popularity. Those who cry “It’s not Presidential” when the president tweets, are ignoring the simple fact that Obama is the only other president who could possibly have tweeted. Twitter has been especially popular among celebrities, because big numbers of followers can warm celebrity hearts. Celebrities, as we all know, are famous for being known.

The thought initially was that Twitter could be sort of an early-warning signal of upcoming political trends, but that’s giving it far too much credit. Mostly, it seems to be a channel for insults and snide remarks. Those who can manage a truly cogent remark in such limited words are celebrated—most cannot. President Donald Trump’s tweets are the focus of far too much attention. I would bet that you know far more about President Trump’s most recent tweet striking back at a remarkably nasty broadcast by Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough, than you do about the accomplishments that the president is pushing through with members of his cabinet and through his own Executive Orders.

The fact that you know more about what he said about Mika’s facelift than you do about Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s efforts to find out whether all the regulations, taxes and subsidies that benefit “green energy” providers were harming the power industry and forcing the premature retirement of baseload power plants. This was a study, an effort to get some clear information, and predictably, the Solar Energy Industries of America and the Advanced Energy Economy, the New York Times and allies in Congress even went after the economist overseeing the study planning how to debunk it. That gives  you a clue about what the study will turn up, and how the media will address it.

What is a tweet—140 characters? I don’t tweet, so I’m not well informed. But that brief emanation from the White House was the focus of almost every journalist in the country.  Important things happening could go a  glimmering. Trump tweeted! Feminists shouted “objectifying women.” Republicans gasped, because Republicans don’t insult people directly, just behind closed doors so they can maintain their decorum.

Democrats are desperate to attack Trump in any way possible. They have no real policies to challenge what Trump is accomplishing and proposing, only defense of Obama’s failed programs. So Trump’s tweets are hugely welcome targets, and at just 140 characters—hardly challenging. They don’t even have to read any long pieces or do research—or even worry about being called “fake news.”

As far as being shocked by Trump’s tweets, you can find far worse in any comments column. Democrats are becoming notable for potty mouths. Language has dropped several rungs closer to the gutter. As far as “not presidential” we can recall LBJ holding conversations and meetings while sitting on the toilet.

There are far worse things that have gone on in the White House than some unmannerly tweets. There are far worse things and far more important things going on around the world, but harder for lazy journalists to write or speak about. It would require research and a knowledge of history and world affairs that these lightweights don’t seem to possess.



A Complete Denial of Reality by The Elephant's Child

Heather MacDonald, in a new article at City Journal explains how “the New York city council would require the New York Police Department to reveal the details of every surveillance technology the department uses to detect terrorism and crime. Ninety days before the NYPD intends to implement a new surveillance technology, it would have to post on the Internet a technical description of how the new tool works, and how the department plans to use it. The public would have 45 days to comment on the proposed technology; the police commissioner would then have 45 days to respond to the public comments before he could actually start using the new capacity. Existing technologies would also have to be retroactively submitted to public review.”

What is wrong with this simple idea? Is this a public demonstration of the decline of the New York public schools? Have the folks in this very Democratic City lost the ability to think? Very possibly. Heather MacDonald adds that “perhaps aware that this moment many not be ideal for promoting what would be, in effect, a terrorists’ manual on how to evade discovery in New York City.”

“The bill’s supporters have,” Mac Donald writes, “hilariously taken to casting it as a pro-illegal alien, anti-Trump gesture. New York is a ‘sanctuary city, now in open resistance to the Trump administration.’ two members of the Brennan Center for Justice wrote in an op-ed advocating for the so-called Public Oversight of Surveillance Technology (POST) Act. The Brennan Center wrote the POST Act for council members; the center has pushed similar bills across the country, including in Seattle and Oakland, two cities that have been particularly vulnerable to ‘anti-fascist’ violence.) The city council press release claims that the bill ‘strengthens New York City’s commitment as a sanctuary city…as the Trump administration seeks to increase surveillance across America.”

One would think that the memory of 9/11 would still be on citizens’ minds, that they would realize that a huge and prominent American city like New York is a highly desirable target for terrorists.  Instead it is an outgrowth of some confused anti-Trump fervor. Trump is a fascist, so we must do away with any government surveillance,  policing, oppose all government secrecy, end any broken-windows policing because under Trump we might have a national surveillance state. What? Another attack in London, in France and Belgium. Sexual assaults by Muslim migrants are up by 1000% in Sweden, and they try to hide it. I’m not quite clear on just where the idea of Trump as the dictator of a national surveillance state comes from, but no anti-Trump idea goes too far. You’ve probably noticed that they are somewhat unhinged.

The NYPD does not need special permission to watch suspects on the street, nor to install cameras to observe the public. The Fourth Amendment does not apply to things in the open. Police need legal permission to tap phone lines, but not anything in the open or on the streets.

At Commentary Magazine, Jonathan Foreman writes of the British problem: Jurists who came of age in the 1960s have been inclined since 2001 “to see terrorism as an ordinary criminal problem being exploited by malign officials and politicians to make assaults on individual rights and to take part in “illegal” foreign wars.” He says it has been almost impossible to extradite ISIS or al-Qaeda-linked Islamists from the UK. English judges believe that few if any foreign countries—apart from perhaps Sweden or Norway—are likely to give terrorist suspects a fair trial, or able to guarantee that such suspects will be spared torture and abuse.”

The UK’s progressive media elite’s primary, reflexive response to a terrorist attack is to express worry about an imminent, violent anti-Muslim “backlash” on the part of a bigoted and ignorant indigenous working class. Is that what we have going on here?  What part of the dead children in Manchester can they simply not get through their heads? Or London Bridge, or hundreds of other attacks across the UK and Europe?

The European Union announced this week that it would begin proceedings to punish Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic for their refusal to accept refugees and migrants under a 2015 scheme the EU commission created. The mission’s aim was to relieve Greece and Italy of the burden from migrant waves arriving from the Middle East and Africa, largely facilitated by European rescues of migrants in the Mediterranean. The EU was arrogating quite a bit of authority to themselves. The people have different ideas. The truth is that the majority in nearly every European country says that migration from Muslim countries into Europe should be slowed down or stopped entirely. In Poland, over 90 percent of respondents agreed with the statement that “all immigration from majority Muslim nations should be stopped.”

You  have a situation where public sentiment runs strongly one way and that of the political class is something completely different. The waves of Muslim migration in Europe are a serious problem, and the public is fed up. Politicians here remain oblivious. We need to be fully aware of Europe’s problems, because we will undoubtedly face some of the same problems here. We have had terrorist attacks, and we will have more. Facebook would seem to be a channel for Islamic radicalization materials. We need to do some serious rethinking about some of our assumptions.  It’s hard to know when we are being really stupid, if we are not paying attention. We can’t deal with problems that we refuse to admit exist.



Everything You Have Thought About Today’s American Journalism is True by The Elephant's Child

The new issue of Imprimus  features a piece from long time journalist Michael Goodwin, chief political columnist for The New York Post, based on a speech that Goodwin gave at a Hillsdale event. It is a raw and intensive look at contemporary journalism by a long time practitioner who knows his way around the media. It’s just as bad as you thought.

I’ve been a journalist for a long time. Long enough to know that it wasn’t always like this. There was a time not so long ago when journalists were trusted and admired. We were generally seen as trying to report the news in a fair and straightforward manner. Today, all that has changed. For that, we can blame the 2016 election or, more accurately, how some news organizations chose to cover it. Among the many firsts, last year’s election gave us the gobsmacking revelation that most of the mainstream media puts both thumbs on the scale—that most of what you read, watch, and listen to is distorted by intentional bias and hostility. I have never seen anything like it. Not even close. …

During the years I spent teaching at the Columbia University School of Journalism, I often found myself telling my students that the job of the reporter was “to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” I’m not even sure where I first heard that line, but it still captures the way most journalists think about what they do. Translate the first part of that compassionate-sounding idea into the daily decisions about what makes news, and it is easy to fall into the habit of thinking that every person afflicted by something is entitled to help. Or, as liberals like to say, “Government is what we do together.” From there, it’s a short drive to the conclusion that every problem has a government solution.

Goodwin goes on to explain how today’s journalism has gone astray,  how it came about, and how bad it really is (Just what you thought, and even more).

I knew all of this about the media mindset going into the 2016 presidential campaign. But I was still shocked at what happened. This was not naïve liberalism run amok. This was a whole new approach to politics. No one in modern times had seen anything like it. As with grief, there were several stages. In the beginning, Donald Trump’s candidacy was treated as an outlandish publicity stunt, as though he wasn’t a serious candidate and should be treated as a circus act. But television executives quickly made a surprising discovery: the more they put Trump on the air, the higher their ratings climbed. Ratings are money. So news shows started devoting hours and hours simply to pointing the cameras at Trump and letting them run.

A study, Goodwin says, estimated that Trump had received so much free airtime that if he had to buy it the price would be around $2 billion. Executives realized that they had helped Trump’s rise, which made them furious, and soon they were gunning for him.

It’s a fascinating look at a failed media that can no longer perform its assigned task in the American political landscape. Do take the time to read it if you can. It has changed how we search for information. I have long believed that in the new electronic age, students need to be taught how to look for information, how to judge the quality of the information, and enough history to understand why it is important to search carefully, to be informed, and why their vote is important and needs to be well informed. We’ve been watching the education establishment disintegrate before our eyes, and the evidence from college students that they need safe spaces where they can refuse to listen to ideas that might disagree with their own.

With journalism no longer a viable source for accurate news, we have turned to blogs, judged their information and veracity, and the trustworthiness of the provider. Others have turned to social media, and Twitter has assumed an outsized role as a potential clue to future trends, currency, reach, and yet it may not have that significance at all. Combine that with our ordinary human shortcomings — impatience, laziness, reluctance to read anything long— and I suspect we are becoming less and less informed. But then I was an English major and a glutton for reading. Do any of us currently have a hunger to know and understand in an age when sheer entertainment is so pleasurable and so readily available?

Do read the Imprimus article. It will give you a deep understanding of where the media is and why, and give you armor and a nudge towards knowing more and to hell with the “journalism” profession.

(To subscribe to Imprimus, just go to the Hillsdale College website and sign up. It’s free and always informative.)

 



Trying to Make Sense out of a Senseless Day by The Elephant's Child

What an appalling day. We have worried about the Left’s irresponsible language and baseless accusations as calling for violence. Top that off with Kathy Griffin’s severed head, and the Shakespeare in the Park’s Trump assassination as truly deplorable attempts at some kind of poorly thought out dark humor.

Do you recall the campaign in 2008? Democrats fell in love with Barack Obama. He was tall, slim, nice looking with a good looking family, and best of all — he was black, which absolved the Democrats of their past history of slavery. They wrote songs to him and about him. There were portraits and posters—thousands of posters. “Yes We Can,” “HOPE, “and “CHANGE.”Chris Matthews had a thrill running up his leg. Obama had been in the Illinois Legislature where he mostly abstained from voting, and then in the U.S. Senate, where he mostly rushed around trying to get in every picture of a successful passage of a bill. No noticeable accomplishments.

I don’t think that the Democrats this time, fell in love with Hillary. There just wasn’t that kind of enthusiasm. But they expected her to win without any problem. They were assured of retaining power, and that’s what mattered. Did they just not notice that a great many Republicans thought Hillary should be prosecuted for her defiance of federal  law? For using the taxpayers for her personal piggy bank? That she was a compulsive liar? Apparently not.  I don’t think they had given Donald Trump much consideration, because they were so confident of winning it all. And then he won. It was unthinkable. Impossible in the normal course of things. Losing all the way down to dogcatcher level. It could not be ordinary voting. It had to be something BIG. Obviously Russia. Collusion. Obstruction. They lost not just the presidency, but statehouses, Congress. How were they going to get it all back? Their leaders were all old. Mostly in their 70s. The Republicans in Congress were in their 40s. Kamala Harris, the new one from California, got to be on camera in the Sessions Hearings and was slapped down by the chairman for being rude and refusing to let the Attorney General  answer.

The whole Russia thing appears to be just wishful thinking. Something might turn up, but there’s nothing to impeach Trump for. That seems to be why some nutcase from Illinois wanted to kill himself some Republicans. They want him impeached right now. No crime, no reason? Impeach him for being Trump, the epitome of being awful, he will kill us all, destroy everything. Treason. Resist!

Look, Presidents and Presidential candidates are just ordinary people, with an extra-large dose of self-confidence or self-regard, who have managed to gather some supporters and raise some money. Nobody is entitled. This is not royalty and they work for us, not the other way around. If they do a good job, we will honor them, and if they manage to make the world a little better we will applaud as well. They will go down in history in the list of presidents, and most of us have forgotten the ones who were in office before we were born. There are very few who have been outstanding, but we can always hope.

Donald Trump has orange hair, he tweets, and he says rude things about those who are trying to bring him down. He is getting rid of regulation that has been crippling business, and the economy will improve as a result. He is trying to make the American people safer from Islamic terrorism, as we watch children in England and Europe being killed with suicide bombs. That sort of thing doesn’t penetrate the resistant mind. They are theoretically furious about health care, with no understanding that ObamaCare was going broke and wouldn’t be there for them anyway. They don’t make sense at all.

This post was put up at the Huffington Post, and then withdrawn, but I managed to get a cached version. It’s a remarkable example of the Progressive mind of the “resistance”.

—”Impeachment is No Longer Enough: Donald Trump Must Face Justice

—Then there’s the case of an Antifa activist who was arrested in Harrisburg PA after she deliberately stabbed a police horse in the neck with a flagpole with a nail in the end of it. Who does something like that?

The Fusion PartyAs usual, Victor Davis Hanson does the best job of explaining what is going on.

Pandemonium Can Be a Revivifying Purgative”another from Victor Davis Hanson, always clarifying.

Useless IdiotsLeftists decry President Trump as a fool, but their antics show who the real clowns are. by Stefan Kanfer at City Journal.

Incitement to ViolenceThe Left has raised America’s political temperature to the boiling point. Seth Barron at City Journal




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