Monday morning round-up and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesFamily took precedence this weekend. I was able to read stuff while I waited here and there for various family members, but I never got to my computer to post anything. I therefore have a huge backlog of articles and posts that I found interesting and would like to share with you:

One of the most toxic parts of the ongoing Israeli/Palestinian conflict is the United Nation’s insistence that Palestinians should be unlike all other refugees.  Ordinarily, refugee status is given only to the actual refugee.  For Palestinians, however, the UN extends refugee status to descendants too. A Jewish lawyers and judges group would like to change this. I doubt the UN will change anything (it’s too controlled infested with antisemites), but if we promote this cause, we might be able to educate the public about this travesty.

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One of the worst things that’s been happening this spring is the rise of the heckler’s veto at college campuses across America. In each case — with the most famous being Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a black woman who speaks out against toxic aspects of Islam, and Condoleeza Rice, a black woman who was Secretary of State during the Iraq War — only a very small cadre of protesters (sometimes numbering in the two digits, just like their IQs) was sufficient to cause college administrators to rescind invitations to commencement speakers. One of the replacement speakers used his time at the podium to lash out at “immature” and “arrogant” protesters, words that got him a standing ovation.

I have a couple of comments to make. First, I would do away with commencement speakers altogether. Graduation ceremonies are long and boring enough without larding them with yet another speaker. Of course, I skipped my Berkeley graduation, so I’m not terribly invested in those ceremonies.

Second, this is one of those rare occasions where I think it’s important for conservatives to behave as badly as Leftists. Writing at DartBlog, Joseph Asch (class of ’79) says that conservatives should politely let Angela Davis speak. For the youngsters reading this blog, during the 1960s, Davis was a hard Left radical. Among other things, she arranged to get a gun into a Marin County court room, resulting in a judge and three other men being murdered. Davis, like Bill Ayers and Bernadette Dohrn, has since become an establishment figure. She has never backed off from her hard Left views, nor has she shown any remorse for her active complicity in the murder of four people.

In theory, Asch is right that we should demonstrate tolerance to the hard Left and let Davis speak. The problem, though, is what flows from that tolerance. The Left demonstrates intolerance, and no one gets to listen to an accomplished conservative. Conservatives demonstrate tolerance, and hundreds of malleable students get to listen to a murderous Lefty. We have to shut off the Leftie spigot — if students don’t get access to conservative speakers, they shouldn’t get access to Leftist speakers either.

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The Anne Frank Museum has a gift shop. There, one can buy copies of her diary in various languages, books about her life, and other limited written materials about tolerance. I’ve noted that I think the Anne Frank Museum suffers too much from moral relativism and says too little about the Holocaust, but it’s classy. The newly opened 9/11 museum in New York is unhindered by classiness. In a store directly on top of the display about a murderous attack on American soil, as well as over the last remains of hundreds who died there, there is a cheesy gift shop, complete with myriad stupid, disrespectful tschotkes. What were they thinking?

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Every day, it becomes more clear that bureaucracy is the last refuge of the stupid, the cowardly, and the morally infirm. In Germany, bureaucrats are insisting that a house that a German Jewish woman built in 1939 as a refuge (it failed her), and that a German woman recently remodeled, must be torn down entirely because, back in 1939, the Jewish woman didn’t fill out the proper paperwork. I don’t ascribe this rank bureaucratic stupidity to antisemitism. As far as I can tell, it is what it seems: rank bureaucratic stupidity. (Hat tip: Earl.)

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A group called the Explorers, which is affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America, is teaching teenagers what the Explorers thinks will be a useful skill in the coming decades: armed warfare against terrorists, illegal immigrants, and increasing border violence. Looking at today’s headlines, who can argue with that?

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When it comes to the Boy Scouts, that organization daily is forced to move further and further away from its origins. Having successfully forced the group to admit gay scouts, the same agitators are now pressing for gay scout masters. In a masterful example of logic, Selwyn Duke explains why, if we allow that, there’s nothing stopping us from having men in charge of Girl Scouts, or boys in Girl Scout tents.  In other words, pretty soon the Boy and Girl Scouts of America will resemble college dorms, with no distinction between the sexes (including in the shower room), and all of the resulting licentiousness that flows from that — except this time, it will involve children and young adolescents, not young “adults.”

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Michael Oren uses facts to excoriate and destroy those who claim that Israel is an apartheid nation.

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This is what happens when you read only the New York Times: The incoming FBI director is surprised to learn that terrorism against America and Americans is still an issue. I guess he believed it when Hillary and Barack tried to define Islamic terrorism away by claiming that all sorts of self-proclaimed Islamic terrorist groups weren’t actually Islamic and that they weren’t really terrorists at all, but were, instead, misunderstood people suffering from the root cause problem of 1st-world-induced poverty.

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The meme is building when it comes to the Obama administration: With Obama’s second term nearing the halfway mark, more people are realizing what you and I already figured out, which is that this is a shockingly immature, narcissistic administration, supported by a Democrat party that’s just as bad. Kevin Williamson puts it beautifully:

Imagine, if you can, the abjectly juvenile state of mind necessary to contemplate the hundreds of Nigerian girls taken into slavery by a fanatical Muslim anti-education militia — whose characteristic activity beyond slave-taking is setting fire to children — and, in the face of all that horror, concluding: “You know what this situation really calls for? A cutesy picture of . . . me!”

Keep in mind, please, that we’re not talking about selfies from people in quiet suburban homes or walking down city streets. We are talking about selfies from people at the heart of power, everyone from the First Lady to the State Department.

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The Democrat party is grooming a new Vice Presidential candidate for 2016.   By that time, he will have had two jobs:  a stint as the mayor of San Antonio (a ceremonial position) and two years heading HUD (if his nomination to that post is successful). Remember when they said that Sarah Palin was too inexperienced to be vice president? Back in 2008, a few of us also pointed out that, if Palin was too inexperienced for vice president, then Obama was certainly too inexperienced to be president. Leftists are untroubled by hypocrisy and cognitive dissonance, though.

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The push for raising the minimum wage isn’t limited to the U.S. The Swiss recently were smart enough to vote down a $25/hour minimum wage. Teenagers in Switzerland should be very, very grateful — at least if those teenagers are looking for a job.

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I’ve been saying these things forever (about books and studies and education generally being boring for boys), but they sound better when Christina Hoff Sommers says them, especially because she’s got the data to back herself up:

The FBI and your computer

Computer security

From Instapundit (not just the link, but his comments):

CREEPY UNCLE SAM: FBI can turn on your Web cam, and you’d never know it. As I’ve said before, hardware on-off switches for cameras and microphones may come back into style. Plus this: “The FBI can also burrow into a suspect’s computer and download files, photographs and stored e-mails.” If they can do that, of course, they can also plant evidence without a trace. . . .

Yesterday, I blamed Obama for causing a problem; today, I echo Pamela Geller’s complaint that federal agencies are useless

My head is spinning.   I just wrote a post for Mr. Conservative based upon the most current news stories saying that an arrest had been made.  From the time of those stories to the time I published the post, it was about 10 minutes.  Within one minute after the post went up, all of the major news sites were recanting the story, saying a suspect had been identified, but not arrested.  (See here for an example of the swift turnaround in news reports.)  Breitbart has given up on specific headlines and just says “Chaos in Boston,” which is about as accurate as anything I’ve seen today.  CNN still has its stand-by fallback position, which is that it’s the Tea Party’s fault, while Fox reminds everyone that pressure cooker bombers are commonly used in such Islamic war places as Pakistan and Afghanistan.

That last point — about the differing CNN and Fox News stories — highlights one of the two truths we know with certainty amidst this swirl of rumors.  The first is that Obama lied through his teeth when he promised in 2008 that his election would heal divisions within America and that his presidency would further smooth the rift, once again creating a truly United States of America.  Instead, using his bully pulpit to demonize half of America (something no president has ever done before), Obama has deepened the rift between Blue and Red America to a point probably not seen since 1860.  Obama, therefore, is easy to blame for the bombing, because a truly united America would not be a good target for this type of attack, no matter who launched it.

The other thing we know with certainty is something that Pamela Geller highlights — we’re not getting any bang for the buck from the alphabet soup of federal law enforcement agencies we taxpayers support.  After commenting derisively on reports that law enforcement describes the terrorism attack investigation as “wide open,” and is begging media outlets to help, Geller points out how embarrassing this is:

This is where the status of the investigation is.  In Europe, and in Israel, whenever there is a terrorist attack, they have someone or some group in their sights or in custody every time.  Take 3/11 in Madrid, 7/7 in London, the Glasgow jihad plot — every jihad attack and jihad plot in Europe, European authorities are right on it, identifying and apprehending the perpetrators.  They know exactly who the bad guys are.  They know exactly where to go.  This is a historical first: that America is not dramatically ahead of the curve, but dramatically behind the curve.  So American citizens are now considered expendable, just the way our soldiers are in Afghanistan.

It should bother every American that Europe and Israel are so far ahead of us in intel that we’re begging CNN and Fox for clues — and apparently detaining people who have nothing to do with the bombing, raiding their homes, taking bagfuls of evidence out, and then saying, “Never mind.”

Really?  The billions that Americans spend for the CIA, FBI, DHS, NSA, JTTF, and all the other various counterterrorism agencies, and they don’t have a clue?  All they have for us is 1-800-CALL-FBI?  This is unconscionable.  If that’s where we are, disband these incompetent, inane agencies that call jihad “workplace violence” and name Atlas Shrugs as a “domestic hate group,” when in fact Atlas Shrugs is battling violence and mass murder across the world.  How did this happen eleven years after 9/11?

In 1995 (Oklahoma City) and 1998 (Atlanta), we didn’t have a multi-armed federal law enforcement infrastructure that, in return for tax dollars and vast, often unconstitutional powers, promised to keep us safe.  Just as Obama broke his promise to heal the rifts in American society, the federal alphabet soup has broken its promise to keep us safe and/or to bring wrongdoers quickly before the law.  Indeed, I seem to remember that it’s been more than half a year since the FBI jetted out to investigate what happened in Benghazi.  So far . . . nothing (although with Hillary screaming “what difference does it make,” investigators may have lost their momentum).

I guess we should all resign ourselves that for at least the next three years, the best we can hope for from our administration is “What difference does it make?”  Unless, of course, the difference is about emasculating our once robust Constitution.  But that’s another story for another post….

According to the AP, in July the FBI will stop protecting people from a malevolent computer virus *UPDATED*

I don’t quite know what to make of this story about the FBI’s decision to stop protecting people from a computer virus.  It doesn’t come through as an email rumor; it comes through as an actual AP article.  Although AP is always suspect in my mind when it comes to politically charged issues, I have to assume that, as to this story, it has credibility:

For computer users, a few mouse clicks could mean the difference between staying online and losing Internet connections this summer.

Unknown to most of them, their problem began when international hackers ran an online advertising scam to take control of infected computers around the world. In a highly unusual response, the FBI set up a safety net months ago using government computers to prevent Internet disruptions for those infected users. But that system is to be shut down.

The FBI is encouraging users to visit a website run by its security partner, www.dcwg.org, that will inform them whether they’re infected and explain how to fix the problem. After July 9, infected users won’t be able to connect to the Internet.

You can read the rest of the story here.

UPDATE:  Indigo Red’s comment is very informative:

It’s not all that ominous. A group of criminal geeks hacked servers in Estonia causing users queries to end up at sites that paid advertisers and routed the pay-per-clicks to themselves. The geeks got $14 million from the scam. They were busted and the servers were going to be confiscated, but that would have left thousands of valid customers without Internet service. The FBI called in a legit computer geek who subbed clean servers for the dirty and the FBI has been running the replacements for 8 months costing US taxpayers $87,000 – US had highest number of victims at about 85K. The substitute servers are to shutdown in July so anyone who thinks their computer may be infected has a final opportunity to scan their machines and fix the problem. I am doing so as I write this using Microsoft Safety Scanner because a few months back I saw unusual activity from Estonia, Russia, and Ukraine. I cleared the problem then, but I just want to be sure.