The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

No, The Interview Is Not Like Shouting ‘Fire’ in a Crowded Theater


The MSNBC host Touré​ — who has made his share of controversial statements in the past — asked his guest moments ago whether Sony Pictures’ making The Interview amounted to “shouting ‘fire’ in a crowded theater.” He later asked if depicting the assassination of Kim Jong Un was “inappropriate.”

(It’s as if he wanted to illustrate David French’s point that “free speech may be a value people broadly support, but they also take it completely for granted, giving it zero thought in their daily lives. . . . A critical mass of Americans are not necessarily going to see the meaning and purpose of enduring even the slightest risk for a raunchy comedy.”)

Touré is not alone:

In The Atlantic, Trevor Timm pointed out that the vast majority of those who invoke the “fire in crowded theater” point completely misunderstand its context and legal relevance:

Today, despite the “crowded theater” quote’s legal irrelevance, advocates of censorship have not stopped trotting it out as the final word on the lawful limits of the First Amendment. As Rottman wrote, for this reason, it’s “worse than useless in defining the boundaries of constitutional speech. When used metaphorically, it can be deployed against any unpopular speech.” Worse, its advocates are tacitly endorsing one of the broadest censorship decisions ever brought down by the Court. It is quite simply, as Ken White calls it, “the most famous and pervasive lazy cheat in American dialogue about free speech.”

The thinking of the censor-minded is that somehow, Sony should have known that depicting Kim Jong Un in a humiliating way would have generated a furious, dangerous, threatening response. This is a bit of First Amendment jujitsu, where somehow you’re responsible not just for what you say but for how someone else reacts to it. You’re expected to have clairvoyant abilities of how someone is going to react, and then not speak aloud the argument you wanted to make, because preventing their potentially violent, dangerous, or threatening reaction is more important than your right to speak.

Note that the quote is: “The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic.”

There can not any lawful limitation on truthfully shouting fire in a theater. While The Interview is fiction, the film’s portrayal of North Korea as a dangerous, paranoid, despotic state run by a young lunatic is pretty darn accurate.

Tags: North Korea , First Amendment

The Post-Constitutional Presidency Continues


On MSNBC, one of the hosts just gleefully compared Obama’s end-of-the-year statement to a “middle finger.”

Leader of the free world, ladies and gentlemen!

In his comments, Obama indicated he’s exceptionally likely to veto legislation approving the Keystone pipeline. He’s concluded he doesn’t need Congress for a de facto amnesty. He’s concluded he doesn’t need Congress to normalize relations with Cuba, even though an act of Congress is needed to lift the embargo, congressionally passed funding is needed to open a new embassy, and any American ambassador to Havana would require Senate approval.

It’s not surprising that Obama doesn’t welcome the Republican-controlled Congress arriving in January. It is a bit surprising how little he thinks it matters.

Tags: Barack Obama , Keystone Pipeline


The North Korean Hacking Threat Hits Close to Home


Featured in the last Morning Jolt of the week:

The North Korean Hacking Threat Is Closer Than You Think

The latest news out of North Korea is outrageous, and I’ve just about had it with this — BZZZZT #*%#&$^#($*

Ha-ha-ha, Morning Jolt Readers! It is I, Kim Jong-un, and my friends at Guardians of Peace group have helped me hack into the Morning Jolt newsletter!

Now I can interrupt Jim’s writing whenever I want, and he’ll have no idea! Finally, we the Heroic People’s Collective of Noble Righteous Revolutionary Justice can stop Jim’s capitalistic running dog propaganda. Let’s check in to see what he’s saying, and laugh at how he doesn’t know we’re doing this . . . 

BZZZZT #*%#&$^#($*

. . . This fat pant-load thinks he can push us around. I’d say we need to give this guy a little chin music, except I can’t decide which chin to start with. I’ve never seen a one-man cause of national starvation. I understand he was initially excited about the proposed plan of revenge against Sony, because he thought the plan involved snacking.

BZZZZT #*%#&$^#($*

This is not funny, Running Dog Geraghty. Words can hurt, you know. Dad said I was big-boned.

BZZZZT #*%#&$^#($*

It looks like we’re being threatened by the little kid from Pixar’s Up.

He’s the only world leader whose haircut gets worse every single time. It’s like his barber used up all the electricity in the country shaving the sides. You can tell every general standing behind him is trying to not stare at it, because they don’t want to. There’s that awkward silence, nobody knows how to talk to him. Obviously, the only reason anybody hung around with this guy was because his dad was a homicidal maniac who ran the country.

BZZZZT #*%#&$^#($*

That is really uncalled for. It’s lonely being the heir to the throne of a Communist monarchy.

BZZZZT #*%#&$^#($*

Think about it, the only reason women sleep with him is because he can kill their families. He couldn’t even get a real NBA star to come over to his country and hang out; he had to settle for Dennis Rodman. He grew up a die-hard Michael Jordan fan, and he has to settle for Rodman. At least hold out for Scottie Pippen!

BZZZZT #*%#&$^#($*

Why is everyone always so mean to me?

BZZZZT #*%#&$^#($*

I’d call for a retaliatory cyber-strike taking down the North Korean electrical grid, except nobody would notice. When he says “it’s time to turn out the light” at bedtime, he means the country’s lone electrical light. This is why “how many North Koreans does it take to screw in a light bulb” jokes don’t work there. But that’s okay, because nothing else works there, either.

You and I may not have the money, power, palaces, and alleged nuclear arsenal that Kim Jong Un has, but we can hold our heads high in a way he can’t. We don’t have to wrap ourselves and our entire country in an endless labyrinth of lies to prevent everyone around us from killing us, and we don’t live in constant terror that people will see the world as it actually is and us as we actually are. What a pathetic form of existence.

You’re mean, Running Dog Geraghty. Really, really mean.

Tags: Something Lighter , North Korea

Bloomberg: The Real Threat with North Korea Is U.S. Overreaction


The editors at Bloomberg have identified the real threat in the controversy over The Interview and North Korea’s hack attack: American overreaction.

Like so many Hollywood movies, North Korea’s offensive against Sony Pictures Entertainment could end badly — which is why U.S. officials have to be careful not to overreact.

. . . Now that unnamed U.S. officials have claimed North Korea is behind the cyberattack that crippled Sony’s computers, some are calling for the government to retaliate. That would be a mistake.

. . . Sony and other corporations can’t expect the U.S. government to respond to every attack on their behalf. However embarrassing and costly to the studio, the hacking represents a cybercrime, not an act of cyberterrorism directed at civilians or vital national infrastructure. (By the same token, threats against theaters showing a Hollywood comedy that mocks Kim Jong Un hardly compare with the vows of annihilation that constantly pour out of North Korean state media.)

What about the consequences of underreaction?

You can literally watch the reaction to a threat from a foreign power in our cities, as Sony quickly removes the billboards . . . how in the world is our reaction the problem here?

Why do we have to be so careful to not provoke them? Why doesn’t anybody ever fear the consequences of angering Americans?

Tags: North Korea

How Many Americans Are Being Held Hostage Overseas?


A point in today’s Jolt spotlighting further . . . 

To get Bowe Bergdahl back, the United States took five of the worst captured killers in Guantanamo Bay and released them to Qatar. To get the release of Alan Gross, an American aid worker illegally detained in 2009, Obama normalized relations with Cuba. (Do you notice that Obama’s “concessions” to get prisoners back always involve him doing something he wanted to do anyway?)

Even if you thought the embargo was ineffective, it is exceptionally dangerous for the United States to give a hostile regime everything it wants for releasing an American.

How many Americans are being held hostage abroad? Nobody’s sure of the exact number, and our government won’t tell us, according to this September report:

Gross is one of possibly hundreds of Americans being held abroad by hostile regimes, terrorist groups and criminal organizations that don’t provide due process, according to the David House Agency, a Los Angeles-based international crisis resource agency. Given the U.S. government’s longstanding policy of not negotiating with terrorist groups and its lack of formal diplomatic relations with countries like Cuba, Iran, and North Korea, getting Americans out of trouble and back onto U.S. soil can be complicated or even impossible.

“It’s not just a global problem. It’s an international reality,” said Eric Volz, managing director for the agency. “Institutional kidnappings are at a rate never seen before. More Americans are traveling internationally and doing mission work. That’s why we are seeing it at a higher rate.”

“It’s reaching a tipping point,” he added. “These are just not isolated incidents.”

State Department officials declined to comment on any Americans being held captive overseas citing “privacy issues.” The department has reportedly told families of hostages held by terror groups not to publicize their plight, warning that it could put them in greater jeopardy. But the families of journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, both of whom were beheaded in recent weeks by an Islamic State extremist in videos released on the Internet, have angrily denounced the U.S. government for not doing more to help free the men.

These concessions make us less safe. The Pentagon has noted “the increased frequency of hostage-taking of Americans overseas” and is reviewing its policy options.

You’ll recall that back in 2009, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il got what he wanted — a meeting with former president Bill Clinton in Pyongyang — and then released two detained American journalists:

If you’re hostile to the United States, why not take hostages? Sure, there’s a chance the Americans may try to send in Navy SEALs. But there’s a pretty good chance this administration will play ball.

Tags: Cuba , North Korea , National Security


How Much Did the State Department Consult on The Interview?


A disturbing wrinkle in the controversy over the comedic film The Interview:

CEO Michael Lynton showed a rough cut of the movie to U.S. officials before moving ahead. Now hackers are threatening to bomb any theater that shows it.

The Daily Beast has unearthed several emails that reveal at least two U.S. government officials screened a rough cut of the Kim Jong-Un assassination comedy The Interview in late June and gave the film — including a final scene that sees the dictator’s head explode — their blessing.

The claim that the State Department played an active role in the decision to include the film’s gruesome death scene is likely to cause fury in Pyongyang. Emails between the Sony Entertainment CEO and a security consultant even appear to suggest the U.S. government may support the notion that The Interview would be useful propaganda against the North Korean regime.

According to the e-mails, the government officials are “someone very senior in State” and “Robert King, U.S. special envoy for North Korean human-rights issues” who “was helping to consult on the film.”

Hollywood and government officials working together isn’t, by itself, ominous and menacing. Michael Bay’s relationship with the Pentagon ensures all of those glamorous shots of military hardware in the Transformers movies, and we know how closely members of the administration worked with the makers of  Zero Dark Thirty, with one of the producers getting access to a CIA awards ceremony with then–CIA director Leon Panetta in attendance.

The e-mails suggest everyone involved had good intentions — the producers didn’t want to depict something that would spur a violent response from Pyongyang, and the government officials attempted to give their best assessment of how North Korea would respond. But what if the State Department officials had said parts of the film were a bad idea and would be too provocative to depict? Doesn’t this amount to giving the U.S. government de facto creative control over the film?

The point may be moot, as North Korea has learned the lesson of the Mohammed cartoons and demonstrated that they can restrict American freedom of expression through threats.

Tags: North Korea

Pyongyang Defeats Hollywood


No getting around it in today’s Jolt; the middle of the week turned deeply depressing, quickly. Besides the Cuba news, North Korea now enjoys veto power over what’s playing at your neighborhood movie theater:

Pyongyang Defeats Hollywood

Elsewhere in “Unconditional Surrender” news . . . 

Hours after an announcement that U.S. authorities determined North Korea was behind the recent cyber-attack on Sony Pictures, the entertainment company announced it was pulling the release of the film The Interview.

The comedy about journalists who score an interview with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un was scheduled for a Dec. 25 release.

“Sony Pictures has no further release plans for the film,” according to a statement from the company.

Sony also removed any mention of the movie from its website by Wednesday afternoon.

Earlier Wednesday, a federal law enforcement official offered the news about North Korea.

The official, who is not authorized to comment publicly, said a formal announcement of attribution by the U.S. government could come as soon as Thursday.

U.S. investigators believe the attacks originated outside North Korea, but they have determined that the actions were sanctioned by North Korean leaders, a second U.S. official said Wednesday.

The U.S. government is not prepared to issue formal charges against North Korea or its leadership, but the official, who is not authorized to comment publicly, said a lesser statement of attribution is expected.

They get veto power over our films now.

No formal charges? How about a cyber-counterattack?

This is one of those days where Hollywood stars are on our side:

Rob Lowe just blasted Sony, calling the movie company a spineless sellout and comparing it to the famous British Prime Minister who caved in to Hitler.

Lowe reacted to Sony’s decision to pull “The Interview,” saying, “Saw @Sethrogen at JFK. Both of us have never seen or heard of anything like this. Hollywood has done Neville Chamberlain proud today.”

Chamberlain famously conceded Czechoslovakia to the Nazis in 1938. His policy of appeasement became synonymous with cowardice.

So far no word from Seth Rogen on whether he embraces Rob’s statement.

Jimmy Kimmel tweeted, “An un-American act of cowardice that validates terrorist actions and sets a terrifying precedent.”

And Newt Gingrich got into the act, tweeting “@RobLowe, No one should kid themselves. With the Sony collapse America has lost its first cyberwar. This is a very very dangerous precedent.”

To which Rob retweeted “It wasn’t the hackers who won, it was the terrorists and almost certainly the North Korean dictatorship, this was an act of war.”

Michael Moore just fired his own salvo saying, “Dear Sony Hackers: now that u run Hollywood, I’d also like less romantic comedies, fewer Michael Bay movies and no more Transformers.”

You’re not allowed to see this movie. Kim Jong Un says so.

Remember when we thought the Red Dawn remake was silly for changing the villains from China to North Korea? It was strangely prophetic.

Tags: North Korea , Hollywood

Castro Lives Long Enough to See a Big Win.


Brezhnev keeled over in 1982, Qaddafi died a violent death at the hands of his people, but Castro hung on long enough to see the reestablishment of diplomatic relations with the United States, fewer travel restrictions, increased U.S. exports, and likely a removal of sanctions for sponsoring terrorism.

Tags: Fidel Castro , Cuba

How Far Is North Korea Willing to Go to Derail a Critical Movie?


From the midweek edition of the Morning Jolt:

Just How Far Is North Korea Willing to Go to Derail a Critical Movie?

Up until now, the hacking of Sony Pictures — suspected to be the work of North Korea, in response to the upcoming comedy film The Interview — has been mostly fun and games as long as you don’t work in Hollywood. (Our Tim Cavanaugh points out that we’re all chuckling about messages that constitute stolen property.)

The furious reaction from Pyongyang is particularly ironic, since having a hostile foreign state with nuclear weapons throw a temper tantrum and/or launch a cyber-war is basically the greatest publicity a film could possibly want. Considering the way they’re reacting, you would think The Interview has actual footage of Kim Jong Un dancing “YMCA” in pink underwear or something. (Actually, the film’s climax features an actor playing Kim Jong Un meeting a spectacularly unfortunate end. Spoiler and content warnings for that link.)

The fun just stopped:

The Sony hackers have threatened a 9/11-like attack on movie theaters that screen Seth Rogen and James Franco’s North Korean comedy “The Interview,” substantially escalating the stakes surrounding the release of the movie.

The attackers also released the promised “Christmas gift” of files. The contents of the files are unknown but it’s called “Michael Lynton,” who is the CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment.

“The world will be full of fear,” the message reads. “Remember the 11th of September 2001. We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time. (If your house is nearby, you’d better leave.) Whatever comes in the coming days is called by the greed of Sony Pictures Entertainment.”

Past messages have included budgets to Sony films, salary information of top executives, and employee medical records and social security numbers.

There have been suspicions that the attack may have been launched by North Korea in retaliation for “The Interview’s” depiction of an assassination attempt on Kim Jong-un. The country has denied involvement but praised the attacks.

North Korea — or somebody working on their behalf — wouldn’t be dumb enough to launch a terror attack on American movie theaters on Christmas Day, would they?

Somebody’s getting nervous.

“The Interview” stars Seth Rogen and James Franco have canceled all upcoming media appearances following the latest threats made against theaters showing the movie, Variety has confirmed.

The duo has withdrawn from previously scheduled press appearances, including Rogen’s Thursday appearance on “Late Night with Seth Meyers” and a chat with Buzzfeed Brews, leading up to “The Interview’s” Christmas Day release.

According to insiders, Rogen and Franco are still scheduled to appear at Thursday’s New York special screening of “The Interview.” The two were at the Los Angeles premiere last week, but didn’t do press interviews.

Sometimes North Korea’s idea of saber-rattling is drawing the saber and stabbing you:

The ROKS Cheonan sinking occurred on 26 March 2010, when the Cheonan, a Republic of Korea Navy ship carrying 104 personnel, sank off the country’s west coast near Baengnyeong Island in the Yellow Sea, killing 46 seamen. A South Korean-led official investigation carried out by a team of international experts from South Korea, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and Sweden presented a summary of its investigation on 20 May 2010, concluding that the warship had been sunk by a North Korean torpedo fired by a midget submarine.

The Norks’ entire concept of deterrence, and what kind of risk is acceptable in their metronomic brinksmanship, is completely different from ours.

Maybe the threat to movie theaters is nothing but bluster. But we’ve seen a gunman shoot up the Canadian Parliament, a guy out on parole take hostages and kill hostages in an Australian chocolate shop, and the Taliban massacre children in a school. The sense of what’s really “unthinkable” in our chaotic world gets a little narrower, week by week.

What, “two thumbs down” just isn’t enough for the Norks?

Tags: North Korea

Get Ready for Jeb Bush’s Spanish on the Stump


Here’s Jeb Bush, speaking at the U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC’s eleventh annual luncheon in Coral Gables, Fla., at the beginning of the month:

Even if you speak no Spanish, you can figure out his opening joke about his “tenemos hermanos muy famosos . . . Marvin Bush.” And then he mentions “Oh, si, si, el otro.”

Speaking fluent Spanish may or may not win over many Hispanic or Latino voters. Very few Democrats who have won this demographic in the past speak it (Obama doesn’t), and HUD secretary and former San Antonio mayor Julian Castro, allegedly the preeminent Latino Democratic politician in the United States, does not speak much Spanish

But many loud voices in the media — buying into the notion that a Republican presidential candidate must support a path to citizenship and denounce the “xenophobic” elements of the party — are likely to treat Bush’s fluency as a factor that could win over many Hispanic or Latino voters.

The English portion of Bush’s speech, critiquing Obama’s foreign policy, is likely to play well on the stump in the GOP primary:

Words matter. Presidents need to set United States aspirations and intentions, with little gap between words and deeds. Think of the Russian reset. Think of the Syrian Red Line. Think of the pivot to Asia. Think of taking out ISIS. All of these things were perhaps important, but none of them have been accomplished. And it has created a big gap between our rhetoric and our action, and it undermines our credibility in the world. Our allies don’t trust us, and our enemies don’t fear us. There is no situation worse for stability and peace than that. The iron rule of superpower deterrent is mean it when you say it, and it has been broken by this president.

Tags: Jeb Bush

Jeb Bush: I Am ‘Actively Exploring’ Running for President


Well, now we know:

A Note from Jeb Bush

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!


Like many of you, our family was blessed with the opportunity to gather together over the recent Thanksgiving holiday.


Columba and I are so proud of the wonderful adults our children have become, and we loved spending time with our three precious grandchildren.


We shared good food and watched a whole lot of football.


We also talked about the future of our nation. As a result of these conversations and thoughtful consideration of the kind of strong leadership I think America needs, I have decided to actively explore the possibility of running for President of the United States.


In January, I also plan to establish a Leadership PAC that will help me facilitate conversations with citizens across America to discuss the most critical challenges facing our exceptional nation. The PAC’s purpose will be to support leaders, ideas and policies that will expand opportunity and prosperity for all Americans.


In the coming months, I hope to visit with many of you and have a conversation about restoring the promise of America.


Best wishes to you and your families for a happy holiday season. I’ll be in touch soon.



Jeb Bush

Tags: Jeb Bush

The Overhyped Obama Bump Over Executive Amnesty


From the Tuesday Morning Jolt:

The Overhyped Obama Bump Over Executive Amnesty

Peter Beinart’s theory:

Remember when pundits loved Barack Obama? It’s been quite a few years now. But I suspect some of the adoration is about to come back.

Politically, Obama’s immigration gamble is working. Fearful of alienating Hispanics or shutting down the government, Republican leaders have largely abandoned hope of overturning Obama’s move. What’s more, Obama’s approval ratings are up 15 points among Hispanics but have not dropped among Anglo whites. Add immigration to health-care reform and the fiscal stimulus and more commentators will start noticing that, whether you like Obama’s agenda or not, it’s been the most consequential of any Democratic president’s since Lyndon Johnson.

The executive amnesty may not have dropped Obama’s numbers among “Anglo whites” but that’s probably because they already hit the floor. And the bump among Latinos is pretty marginal in terms of the overall electorate. Take a look at Obama’s approval in the Real Clear Politics average for the past three months and see if you can spot the amnesty bump. It’s harder to find than Waldo:

The red line (skipping over the obvious “red line” joke) is Obama’s disapproval, steady in the low-to-mid 50s. The black line is his approval, steady in the low-to-mid 40s.

We often hear the accurate fact that Hispanics or Latinos are the fastest-growing demographic in the United States — but it’s easy to forget that amounts to only 17 percent of the U.S. population, as of 2012. A 15 point bump among that 17 percent of the electorate turns into . . . a 2.5 point bump overall.

Tags: amnesty , Barack Obama

Romney Was Right to Oppose Negotiating with Child-Killers


The news out of Pakistan is horrifying: More than 126 dead, mostly children, in a Taliban attack on a school.

Back in 2012, the entire foreign-policy establishment, inside and outside the Obama administration, thought Mitt Romney was a fool for opposing negotiations with the Taliban. Who’s the fool now?

Who wanted the United States to sit down across a table and make concessions to a the kind of men who massacre children?

Back in 2008, as a presidential candidate, Obama denounced the Pakistani government for . . . negotiating with the Taliban.

We can’t coddle, as we did, a dictator, give him billions of dollars and then he’s making peace treaties with the Taliban and militants. What I’ve said is we’re going to encourage democracy in Pakistan, expand our nonmilitary aid to Pakistan so that they have more of a stake in working with us, but insisting that they go after these militants.

Glad to see the Bowe Bergdahl prisoner exchange deal helped open a dialogue and moderate the Taliban’s behavior.

If you can’t trust a face like this . . . er, never mind.

Tags: Mitt Romney , Barack Obama , Pakistan , Taliban

A Choice, Not a Metaphorical Brother-in-Law


NBC News:

Jeb Bush is moving closer and closer to a presidential bid in 2016 — after announcing he would release 250,000 emails from his days as Florida governor, as well as release a new book.

Presuming Hillary Clinton is the Democrats’ 2016 nominee, grassroots conservatives will want to beat her with the blazing passion of a thousand suns going supernova.

Earlier this month:

George W. Bush might have developed a brotherly relationship with Bill Clinton — but he’s still picking his actual brother, Jeb, over Clinton’s wife, Hillary, in a potential 2016 presidential match-up.

The two former presidents have developed a close friendship, with Bush sometimes calling Clinton his “brother from another mother.” In an interview, CNN’s Candy Crowley asked Bush what that makes Hillary Clinton.

“My sister-in-law,” he said.

It’s great that George W. Bush and Bill Clinton and the Bush and Clinton families get along so well these days, but the Republican party’s base is not going to entrust the task of beating Hillary Clinton to her metaphorical brother-in-law.

Jeb Bush, speaking at National Constitution Center Liberty Medal ceremony honoring Hillary Clinton in September 2013.

Tags: Hillary Clinton , Jeb Bush

Greenpeace, Trampling History in a Publicity Stunt


If you’re having trouble getting your Morning Jolt e-mail, contact [email protected].

Also in today’s Jolt:

Greenpeace, Joining the Ranks of Indiana Jones Villains

Greenpeace. I hate these guys.

Peru will seek criminal charges against Greenpeace activists who it says damaged the world-renowned Nazca lines by leaving footprints in the adjacent desert during a publicity stunt.

“It’s a true slap in the face at everything Peruvians consider sacred,” said Luis Jaime Castillo, the deputy culture minister, after the action by the environmental group on Monday, at the famed drawings etched into Peru’s coastal desert, a UN world heritage site.

He said the government was seeking to prevent those responsible from leaving the country while it asks prosecutors to file charges of attacking archaeological monuments, a crime punishable by up to six years in prison.

The activists entered a “strictly prohibited” area beside the figure of a hummingbird, the culture ministry said. They laid big yellow cloth letters reading: “Time for Change! The Future is Renewable.” The message was intended for delegates from 190 countries at the UN climate talks being held in Lima.

Castillo said no one, not even presidents and cabinet ministers, was allowed where the activists had gone without authorisation and anyone who received permission must wear special shoes.

The Nazca lines are huge figures depicting living creatures, stylised plants and imaginary figures scratched on the surface of the ground between 1,500 and 2,000 years ago. They are believed to have had ritual functions related to astronomy.

Claiming to promote the preservation of the environment, Greenpeace did damage to the environment. It belongs in a museum!

Michael Rubin:

Beyond the sheer stupidity of the Greenpeace activists’ actions, a broader question — not addressed by the New York Times or much of the press — was what the purpose of the Greenpeace action was. Certainly, perpetrators said on video that they were motivated by the fight against climate change, but it seems so often that Greenpeace stunts are motivated far more by a desire to promote Greenpeace than do anything for the environment.

Naidoo and other Greenpeace executives cannot plead ignorance, for they embraced and encouraged the behavior that led to the vandalism at Nazca . . . 

So, Greenpeace trained the activists whom it later sent to vandalize the UNESCO site.

What happened in Peru symbolizes not only the hypocrisy of some in the environmentalism industry, but also exposes international NGOs for what they are. No longer are groups like Greenpeace motivated by a desire to heal the world. Instead, they scam well-meaning donors to fund for plush executive lifestyles, overhead, international travel, and an endless quest for publicity to grease further fundraising. Not all NGOs are the same, but Greenpeace seems, increasingly, like the rule rather than the exception among some of the biggest and best-known organizations.

Of course, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen an extremist group with an apocalyptic, faith-based ideology and no regard for dissenting views or outsiders trashing major historical landmarks of other cultures and faiths in the name of their holy cause. We’re just used to seeing this from the Taliban and the Islamic State.

Too bad the Hovitos don’t know you the way we do, Greenpeace.

Tags: Greenpeace , Environmentalism

Recalling Hillary’s Call to ‘Empathize With Our Enemies’ Perspective’


Hillary Clinton, earlier this month:

This is what we call smart power: using every possible tool and partner to advance peace and security, and leaving no one on the sidelines, showing respect, even for one’s enemies, trying to understand and insofar as psychologically possible empathize with their perspective and point of view — helping to define the problems, determine the solutions, that is what we believe in the 21st century will change. Change the prospects for peace.

Which enemies should we be empathizing with? Secretary of State John Kerry suggested Hillary Clinton didn’t mean ISIS; he said, “there’s no question in my mind she was referring to those out there with whom we are not actively fighting or engaged in a war but who are behaving in ways that are clearly opposed to our interests,” and later mentioned Russia.

Wasn’t the “reset button” an attempt to “show respect, even for one’s enemies, trying to understand and insofar as psychologically possible empathize with their perspective”? How did that work out?

Do our problems with our enemies really stem from our lack of empathy to their perspective? Or is it a lack of effectively countering their provocation and aggression?

Tags: Hillary Clinton , John Kerry

Dissension in the Ranks at the Post-Ferguson Protests


From the first Morning Jolt of the week:

Organizational Meeting for Anarchists Ends in Chaos

Let’s start with a fascinating story about division in the ranks in the post-Ferguson protests, flaring up at the “Justice for All” March in Washington, D.C., this weekend:

Though there were moments of great emotion during Saturday’s Justice For All March — particularly when the families of Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Akai Gurley, Jonathan Crawford, III, Amadou Diallo, Brown and Garner, voiced their gratitude for [Al] Sharpton and the sea of supporters who have kept their loved ones names alive — the criticism that has followed the event largely proved to be true and young protesters all the way from Ferguson, Mo., made sure to let the world know it.

Johnetta Elzie, 25, an activist on the ground in Ferguson and St. Louis who has emerged as a leading voice in the movement, stormed the stage with other young organizers after [National Action Network] officials reportedly denied them access.

When I caught up with Elzie via phone after the march she said that they came to participate in a protest, not be denied access to a “VIP section.”

“When we first got there, two people from NAN told us that we needed a VIP pass or a press pass to sit on the ledge,” said Elzie in disbelief, the frustration still resonating in her voice. “If it is a protest, why do you need to have a VIP pass?”

According to Elzie, once she finally did get a chance to speak, they cut her microphone.

“I was glad to get the support of the some in the crowd who chanted, ‘Let them speak, let them speak.’ One lady in the crowd said that I was being disrespectful. I think it’s disrespectful that black people are being killed every 28 hours. So what they’re telling me does not matter. It’s not our job to convince them that all black lives matter.”

>Does this complaint represent Al Sharpton taking credit for the work of younger activists and refusing to share the spotlight? Or are the young activists presumptuously claiming the right to address the crowd at a rally that Sharpton and his organization organized? We’re always hearing the chant, “The people . . . united . . . will never be defeated” — but who really speaks for “the people”?

To score a point for the young protesters, they’re starting to explicitly make the case that Al Sharpton is not an authentic, convincing, or idealistic representative of their cause, as this spectacular Tweet from one of the young protesters illustrates:

On the other hand, at a rally or protest with speakers, somebody’s got to decide who holds the microphone and when. Otherwise, the privilege of addressing the assembled is dominated by whoever can grab the microphone first and hold off everyone else the longest.

Most large, organized protests target those in positions of authority (politicians, police, business owners) and a key element of their argument is that those who are in power do not have legitimate authority over others. Now the young post-Ferguson protesters are starting to regard the self-appointed or self-proclaimed leaders of the movement with the same skepticism and lack of trust or respect previously reserved for official authorities. Either one of two things will happen: a leader with the trust of the young protesters will emerge, or the movement will try to advance without anyone in any position of authority and capable of deciding who speaks and how. The last movement to so explicitly reject the notion of a leader with authority over others was . . . Occupy Wall Street?

Tags: Al Sharpton , Ferguson , protests

It’s Time for Regime Change in Christmastown


Today’s Jolt closed out with a cheerier note . . . hopefully a funnier assessment of a Christmas classic:

It’s Time for Regime Change in Christmastown

The latest edition of my pop-culture podcast with Mickey White goes up today. I discuss a Christmas television special that our family watches every year — and I was unnerved to see that James Lileks also wrote about the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Christmas special as well. Luckily, the two of us headed in different directions in our assessment. He wonders how today’s Left would re-edit it, while I lament that for all of the warm feelings it stirs . . . this children’s classic makes almost no sense.

First, I get that this is a parable about tolerance of those who are different, and appreciating “misfits” who “don’t fit in.” Perhaps that was a particularly powerful message in 1964. But the story’s need for an intolerant society to depict means that a lot of previously-beloved characters associated with Christmas get turned into absolute quasi-fascistic villains.

Donner, Rudolph’s dad, is one of the worst. He’s horrified by his son’s shiny nose, literally from the moment of his birth. Everyone just accepts that because of the shiny nose, Rudolph will never be able to pull the sleigh. Nobody ever explains why. They treat this as some sort of horrible genetic mutation. In the entire story, no one in Christmastown other than Clarice and Rudolph’s mother — who never even gets a name! — can tolerate it. Everyone else instantly reacts with shock, horror, and disgust.

Santa comes across as even worse. He’s a jerk who doesn’t care about the elves’ musical number. The first sign of snow — in the North Pole, where he really shouldn’t be that shocked — and he’s ready to cancel Christmas. He’s got one job!

Finally, when Rudolph is exposed at the reindeer games, Santa tells Donner, Rudolph’s dad, he should be ashamed of himself. For what? His son’s nose? A birth defect? For polluting the gene pool? Is this Nazi Christmastown?

Why is Hermey being a dentist considered to be this unthinkable option in this society? By the end, we’ve established that the elves have teeth and they have bad teeth.

By the time Rudolph runs away, it’s clear Santa is a horrible dictator. By comparison, the griffin who’s running the adjacent monarchy, King Moonracer, actually seems to have his head on straight. He’s got a castle, he treats his guests with kindness . . . he’s even got functional border security. The moment Rudolph, Hermey, and Yukon Cornelius land on the Island of Misfit Toys, Charlie-in-a-Box pops up and says “Who goes there!” If only we had such a solid, reliable system on our borders.

Speaking of the Island of Misfit Toys, aren’t the misfit toys made wrong by the elves? Why don’t the elves take responsibility for their defective creations? What, they can’t put round wheels on a caboose? They can’t put water in the water gun? One of the toys is a doll that, as far as we can tell, has nothing wrong with her. It’s as if the mass exile of the undesirables swept up the normal doll by accident, and the bureaucratic police state of Christmastown has no time or concern for justice.

And the Misfit toys go from “no child would ever want us” to being on Santa’s distribution list literally overnight for no discernable reason. Yes, I realize everyone in Christmastown now realizes that Rudolph’s nose is useful, and regrets their mockery. Maybe they’ve reevaluated their attitudes on a lot of things.

“Wait, Rudolph’s nose is useful! This completely changes children’s tastes in toys immediately!”

Ha! One last point: Yukon Cornelius HAS A GUN. He could have shot the Bumble any time he wanted. Bumbles bounce? No, Yukon. Bumbles drop when you hit center mass.

Take the shot, Yukon! Take the shot!

Tags: Something Lighter

The Violent Threat Near UVA that Rolling Stone Downplayed


There is one more bitter, tragic irony to Rolling Stone’s erroneous coverage of allegations of gang rape at the University of Virginia. Evidence is mounting that young women on the campus indeed faced a violent threat for a long time. It just didn’t come from fraternities or the student body.

On September 13, 18-year-old University of Virginia student Hannah Graham disappeared; authorities recovered her remains from a rural part of Albemarle County, Va., on October 18. Police arrested Jesse Matthew Jr. on September 25, and he was charged in the disappearance of Graham.

What’s astounding is how many young women disappeared in such a short period of time around the University of Virginia’s campus:

Hannah Graham is the fifth young woman in five years to vanish within a few miles of Route 29, the main highway which runs through Charlottesville.

Nineteen-year-old Samantha Ann Clarke, who vanished after leaving her Orange County town house in September 2010, 19-year-old DaShad Laquinn Smith, who disappeared in Charlottesville in November 2012, and 17-year-old Alexis Murphy, who was last seen near Lynchburg, Va. in August of 2013 and whose car was found in Charlottesville, remain missing. . . . Morgan Harrington, a 20-year-old Virginia Tech student, disappeared from the University of Virginia’s John Paul Jones Arena while attending a rock concert in October 2009. collected 13 cases of women disappearing from central Virginia since 2009 — some young, some old, some white, some black. It is far from clear that they are all the crimes of the same perpetrator, but there are unnerving similarities in several of the cases.

Then there’s this chilling detail:

Sources confirm that at least two local cab employees informed federal and state investigators that Jesse Matthew Jr. — the man behind bars for the abduction of missing University of Virginia student Hannah Graham — was working as a cab driver the night murdered Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington disappeared.

What is the one thing everyone says when a young woman has had too much to drink? “Call her a cab.”

In the Rolling Stone article, there’s a brief reference to Graham and Matthew, attempting to shoehorn the crime into the article’s established narrative about a “rape culture” on campus:

Suspect Jesse Matthew Jr., a 32-year-old UVA hospital worker, will be charged with Hannah Graham’s “abduction with intent to defile,” and a chilling portrait will emerge of an alleged predator who got his start, a decade ago, as a campus rapist. Back in 2002, and again in 2003, Matthew was accused of sexual assault at two different Virginia colleges where he was enrolled, but was never prosecuted. In 2005, according to the new police indictment, Matthew sexually assaulted a 26-year-old and tried to kill her. DNA has also reportedly linked Matthew to the 2009 death of Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington, who disappeared after a Metallica concert in Charlottesville. The grisly dossier of which Matthew has been accused underscores the premise that campus rape should be seen not through the schema of a dubious party foul, but as a violent crime — and that victims should be encouraged to come forward as an act of civic good that could potentially spare future victims.

Jesse Matthew Jr. does not “fit the narrative” of the article’s spoiled, entitled, privileged, out-of-control frat boys:

This is one more consequence of “narrative journalism”: When you set out to write the evil-fraternities story, you end up missing the serial-killer-stalks-campus story.

Tags: Rolling Stone , UVA , Crime

The Political Press, Turning into Mitt Romney’s Mood Ring


Just how much “what mood is Mitt Romney in this month?” coverage does the political world need?

While some people close to Romney insist he hasn’t moved from saying he has no plans to run, the 2012 Republican nominee has sounded at least open to the idea in recent conversations, according to more than a dozen people who’ve spoken with him in the past month.

Allahpundit loves the traffic and the comments sections bursting into flame, Quin Hillyer loves the idea of multiple “Establishment” candidates beating each other up in the 2016 primaries, and the former Mitt Romney team probably loves the status that comes from being connected to a potential contender.

But whether you love Mitt Romney or hate him — and I think quite well of him — do we really need these monthly updates on how he feels about running for president again? Let us know when he decides! We don’t need regular readouts on his conversations with friends. “He put syrup from New Hampshire on his pancakes this morning, which I think is a key indicator.”

Separately, Romney’s enthusiastic fans are misreading the current warm feelings towards the former nominee. Right now, the vast majority of Republicans think Mitt Romney is a good man, a flawed candidate, and a man who would have been an exponentially better president than Barack Obama. The contrast with the current president, and his cavalcade of second-term failures, is what really drives conservatives who had some lingering doubts about Romney to intensely wish they could magically reverse 2012’s results.

If Mitt Romney runs in 2016, the moment he announces he’s running, a lot of that goodwill dissipates. At that point, Romney’s not the alternative to Barack Obama — a preferable alternative to every Republican. He’s the alternative to (possibly) Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry, Scott Walker, John Kasich, Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum . . . In other words, Romney goes from the guy you wish had won to the guy who could beat one of the options you currently prefer or find intriguing.

Tags: Mitt Romney


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