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Friday Cat Blogging - 28 August 2015

| Fri Aug. 28, 2015 3:00 PM EDT

This is how we roll around here in August: stretched out to maximum length for maximum cooling power. Plus it might lure someone over to give Hilbert a tummy rub. Pretty often it does, in fact.

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"Political Correctness" Is Mostly Just Code For Not Insulting People

| Fri Aug. 28, 2015 2:41 PM EDT

S.E. Cupp says that Donald Trump's rise can be laid at the feet of liberal political correctness. Ed Kilgore isn't buying:

Is that the source of all this hysteria? Conservative media accounts of random college speech code incidents and the occasional dumb move by a school principal? Something that affects maybe a tenth of one percent of the population?

Well....maybe. When it's on a 24/7 loop on Rush Limbaugh and Fox News, it probably seems like an epidemic. I can see it raising a lot of hackles. But let's continue:

I'm sorry, I don't buy it. The Trump supporters and proto-Trump supporters I know are upset by things like having to listen to Spanish-language messages on customer service lines, not being able to call women "chicks" without someone frowning at them, and having to stop telling racist jokes at work. That's what "political correctness" is code for: having to worry about the sensitivities of people who were invisible or submissive not that very long ago.

If Cupp is right and I'm not, then let's all cooperate in convincing Republican politicians and conservative pundits to stop using the term "political correctness" and come right and and tell us what the beef is about. Is it really "trigger warning" requirements at scattered liberal arts colleges? Or is it this whole new world we're in where people have to question old habits? When Ben Carson calls inhibitions about torturing terrorism suspects "political correctness," it's pretty clear he's yet another apostle for the Church of the Day Before Yesterday, when America was never wrong and dissenters kept their mouths shut.

I could do with a little less speech policing from all sides, frankly. It gets a little tiresome sometimes. Still, the truth is that Ed is right: for the vast, vast majority of us, it leaves our lives entirely unaffected as long as you can avoid flat-out slurs against women, blacks, gays, Jews, and so forth. Really, that's about 99 percent of it. Is that really so hard?

Man Is the Irrational Animal

| Fri Aug. 28, 2015 1:55 PM EDT

Mark Kleiman points out that most of us need to hold more or less rational beliefs about our professional lives. "Even people whose stock-in-trade is deception—con artists, stockbrokers, lobbyists—have to observe the rules of arithmetic when it comes to totting up the take." But that's only half the story:

Most of the time, though, people aren’t at work, and much of what they think and talk about has little if any relevance to practical decisions in their own non-working lives. Freed of the need to think rationally, most people seem to prefer the alternative.

Yep. This is why, say, it costs nothing to claim that evolution is nonsense and shouldn't be taught in schools. For the 99.9 percent of us who don't work in fields that require it, evolution doesn't affect our daily lives in any way at all. Believing or not believing is affinity politics and nothing more. This explains how Donald Trump gets away with being a buffoon:

The deepest mistake is to regard someone who acts as if he doesn’t give a damn whether anything he says is true, or consistent with what he said yesterday, as stupid....As far as I can tell, Donald Trump simply isn’t bothered by holding and expressing utterly inconsistent beliefs about immigration, or for that matter denying obvious facts in the face of the crowd that witnessed them. And it doesn’t much bother most of his voters, either....And if we deal with it by imagining that Trump, or Trump voters, are “stupid,” we’re going to make some very bad predictions.

We forgive a lot in people we like. Liberals forgive Hillary Clinton for her lawyerly and incompetent defense of her email practices. Trump fans forgive the fact that he makes no sense. But forgiveness is a virtue, right? I guess that makes Trump's supporters the most virtuous folks on the planet.

Sarah Palin: No Bible Verses For You!

| Fri Aug. 28, 2015 1:38 PM EDT

Great news! Sarah Palin will be interviewing Donald Trump at 10 pm Eastern on her brand new show, On Point, which started Monday. airing on the One America News network. It will be the greatest, classiest, rogue-iest interview ever!

Wait. What's that? You don't get OAN on your cable system? Me neither. Bummer. Maybe it'll be on Palin's Facebook page eventually.

What makes this whole thing a little weirder than even the normal Palin weirdness is that she announced her upcoming interview with a standard-issue blast on the lamestream media for asking Trump a gotcha question about his favorite Bible verse. "By the way," she writes, "even with my reading scripture everyday I wouldn't want to answer the guy's question either... it's none of his business; it IS personal." What makes this weird is that Palin has been happy to talk about this before. For example, in this interview:

In dealing with her daily challenges, Palin leans on the Bible verse that says, “God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power and might and a sound mind.”

That's 2 Timothy 1:7 (close enough, anyway), and Palin has mentioned it on other occasions too. It really does seem to be one of her favorites. So why is this suddenly so personal that she doesn't think anyone should have to talk about it? Are we now all keeping our favorite Bible verses a deeply held secret?

It Turns Out That Those "Full and Unedited" Planned Parenthood Videos.... Aren't

| Fri Aug. 28, 2015 12:52 PM EDT

I gave up on the Planned Parenthood sting videos a long time ago. It's pretty obvious there was no criminal behavior unmasked, or even any unethical behavior.1 The claims of the producers never matched the reality of the videos, so I stopped watching when new ones came out.

But Sarah Kliff soldiered on! She not only watched them all, she watched the full, unedited versions. And she discovered something after reading a forensic analysis of the videos from Planned Parenthood: they aren't actually full and unedited. The folks who ran the sting claim that they did nothing more than edit out bathroom breaks, but Kliff isn't buying it:

Take the first example I wrote about here, the meeting with the Texas Planned Parenthood clinic where the tape appears to jump forward a half-hour. In that case, nobody suggests a bathroom break. There's no change in meeting; when the video jumps forward, they're still sitting in the exact same seats.

Meanwhile, the longer videos show lots of small-talk footage that isn't especially relevant to the argument over fetal body parts. I know because I watched all of it. There are moments in a car, where directions are being given and all the camera footage is totally blurry, where people stand around in hallways, where they talk about the relationship between caffeine and headaches. Those moments weren't cut from the tape — and it's hard to know what would make those different from the bathroom breaks and other moments deemed irrelevant to the audience.

I guess we need a chant for this. Release the video! We demand to see the bathroom breaks! Explain the timestamps! Or something. As far as I'm concerned, Planned Parenthood has long since been exonerated in this episode, so I don't really need to see anything. But I am curious about just what they decided to leave out.

1Standard caveat: If you think abortion is murder, then everything on the video is unethical and immoral.

Have Plans Tonight? Cancel Them. Sarah Palin Is Interviewing Donald Trump.

The fired Fox News host gets a sit-down with the GOP front-runner.

| Fri Aug. 28, 2015 12:41 PM EDT

Fed up with media bullies attacking Donald Trump's purported Bible fanaticism, Sarah Palin announced she will be interviewing the GOP front-runner and nonactive church member for what's sure to be a circus of a conversation. In a Facebook post today, the former vice presidential candidate and fired Fox News host explained her plans:

 

WTH, LAMESTREAM MEDIA! STAY OUT OF MY BIBLEWTH? Lamestream media asks GOP personal, spiritual "gotchas" that they'd...

Posted by Sarah Palin on Friday, August 28, 2015

What exactly is One America News? Unclear, but here's how to access it.

It's all happening.

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Blaming Culture Is a Liberal Thing? Seriously?

| Fri Aug. 28, 2015 12:11 PM EDT

Over at National Review, Charles Cooke writes about the gruesome murder of WDBJ reporters Alison Parker and Adam Ward on Wednesday:

As I have written over and over again during the last few years, I do not believe that we can learn a great deal from the justifications that are forwarded by public killers....Mine, however, is not the only view out there. Indeed, there is a sizeable contingent within the United States that takes the question of what murderers purport to believe extremely seriously indeed. It is because of these people that we had to examine “toxic masculinity” in the wake of the Isla Vista shooting....[etc.]

....Half-joking on Twitter, the Free Beacon’s Sonny Bunch reacted to this news by observing that, “instead of going on a killing spree, this guy should’ve gotten a columnist gig at the Guardian.” As with all humor, there is some truth at the root of this barb....For what reason is this guy exempt? Why do we not need to have a “national conversation” about hypersensitivity?

The answer, I imagine, is politics, for this instinct seems only to run one way.

Generally speaking, I agree with Cooke. Crazy people are always going to find something to justify their worldview, and they're going to find it somewhere out in the real world. The fact that any particular crazy person decides to have it in for the IRS or Greenpeace or women who laughed at him in high school doesn't mean a lot. It only becomes meaningful if some particular excuse starts showing up a lot. Beyond that, I even agree that the culture of hypersensitivity has gotten out of hand in some precincts of the left.

That said....is Cooke kidding? This instinct only runs one way? After the Columbine massacre in 1999, Newt Gingrich denounced the "liberal political elite" for "being afraid to talk about the mess you have made, and being afraid to take responsibility for things you have done." Conservatives have been raising Cain about the pernicious effects of Hollywood liberalism, video games, and the decline of religion for decades. Hysteria about the counterculture and liberal moral decay goes back at least to the 60s. I could go on endlessly in this vein, but I don't want to bore you.

Complaining about the effects of liberal culture—whether on shooters specifically, crime more generally, or on all of society—has been a right-wing mainstay for as long as I've been alive. The left may be catching up, but it still has a ways to go.

The Real Lesson From Emailgate: Maybe the State Department Needs More Secure Email

| Fri Aug. 28, 2015 11:11 AM EDT

David Ignatius talked with "a half-dozen knowledgeable lawyers" and concluded that the Hillary Clinton email affair has been overblown. No big surprise there. Click the link if you want more.

But here's the curious part. Part of Clinton's trouble stems from the fact that sensitive information was sent to her via email, which isn't meant for confidential communications. However, as Ignatius points out, this is a nothingburger. Everyone does this, and has for a long time. But why?

“It’s common knowledge that the classified communications system is impossible and isn’t used,” said one former high-level Justice Department official. Several former prosecutors said flatly that such sloppy, unauthorized practices, although technically violations of law, wouldn’t normally lead to criminal cases.

Why is the classified system so cumbersome? Highly secure encryption is easy to implement on off-the-shelf PCs, and surely some kind of software that plugs into email and restricts the flow of messages wouldn't be too hard to implement. So why not build more security into email and ditch the old system? What's the hold-up?

Clarence Thomas Can't Catch a Break

| Fri Aug. 28, 2015 10:47 AM EDT

Yesterday the New York Times ran a story saying that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas hoisted language from briefs submitted to the court "at unusually high rates." I was curious to see the actual numbers, so I opened up the study itself. Here's the relevant excerpt from Figure 2:

I dunno. Does that look "unusually high" to you? It looks to me like it's about the same as Sotomayor, and only a bit higher than Ginsburg, Alito and Roberts. It's a little hard to see the news here, especially given this:

Since his views on major legal questions can be idiosyncratic and unlikely to command a majority, he is particularly apt to be assigned the inconsequential and technical majority opinions that the justices call dogs. They often involve routine cases involving taxes, bankruptcy, pensions and patents, in which shared wording, including quotations from statutes and earlier decisions, is particularly common.

So at most, Thomas uses language from briefs only slightly more than several other justices, and that's probably because he gets assigned the kinds of cases where it's common to do that. Is there even a story here at all?

"They Would Have Killed You All"

Here's How Katrina Destroyed The Lives Of Poor Black Women.

| Fri Aug. 28, 2015 6:00 AM EDT
Protesters block demolition equipment from entering a portion of the B.W. Cooper public housing complex in New Orleans in December 2007.

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina displaced 40,000 people in New Orleans, opinions about the recovery can be traced along racial lines. A pair of new studies underscores that African American women, particularly those who lived in public housing, faced some of the biggest hurdles after the storm.

Nearly four in five white residents in New Orleans say their state has "mostly recovered," while nearly three in five African American residents say it has not, according to survey results released Monday by the Louisiana-based Public Policy Research Lab. More than half of all residents, regardless of race, said the government did not listen to them enough during the recovery, but African American women struggled more than any other group to return to their homes in the months and years after the hurricane, PPRL noted.

On Tuesday, a study by the Washington-based Institute for Women's Policy Research found that recovery policies in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina largely ignored the needs of African American women who lived in four of the city's largest public housing complexes. These women were forced to move into more expensive housing, and some had to relocate to areas where they faced racial intimidation.

The study, based on interviews with 184 low-income black women, offers a look at how redevelopment efforts affected some of the city's most vulnerable residents. A majority of the women interviewed said they wanted to move back to their homes but were unable to do so because city and federal officials demolished the buildings in the years after the storm.

The demolition plan, announced in 2006 by the Housing Authority of New Orleans and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), aimed to deconcentrate poverty in the city by replacing the public housing complexes with mixed-income housing. However, the new developments included fewer low-income apartments, which meant many people had to pay more for housing.

The decision to raze the public housing complexes seemed odd to some former residents because HUD had found them to be structurally sound after the storm, the IWPR reported. Here's what a 70-year-old retired grandmother told the research group:

The buildings were good, strong buildings. Now, if they say they couldn't be renovated, well, that's a different story, but they had some buildings in worse shape and they're doing them over…I'm very disappointed with our elected officials. They turned their backs on us.

Many of the women interviewed by the IWPR said that even though public housing hadn't been ideal, they felt safest in their former homes. There, they had known all their neighbors, and the brick apartment buildings had withstood the hurricane's winds and subsequent flooding. There had even been a saying among poor residents in the city that if a storm ever came, you should "get to the bricks."

One woman who had lived in the C.J. Peete housing project believed the razing of her building was unjustified.

Bad as the waters were, it did not go into our houses. That was one of the projects that I think they just wanted to tear down. They could have left that project there…They had people coming from other places to come stay in the projects, but they never came down because they are brick.

After nearly three decades living in the C.J. Peete complex, another elderly woman with diabetes and arthritis told researchers that she was forced to move temporarily to a community known for Ku Klux Klan activity.

In Baker [where the emergency trailer park for displaced people was], [the crosses] was all over. Ah, Baker was the main headquarters of the Ku Klux Klan…This white man walked up and he said, ah, "If you all would've came here in the '60s…I'm so glad you all didn't come…Oh, you all would've been dead…They would've killed you all." They put us in a pasture where the cows and horses was living. That's where the trailer was.

To read more of of these stories, check out the report by the IWPR here.