Hot Air

Subscribe to Hot Air feed
The world’s first, full-service conservative Internet broadcast network
Updated: 55 min 36 sec ago

Delta passenger: The airline wouldn’t let me sing the national anthem for a fallen soldier on our flight

1 hour 43 min ago

A video that’s gone viral thanks in part to the Trump/NFL culture clash over anthem protests. Pamela Gaudry was on a Delta flight from Philly making its descent into Atlanta when the pilot told the passengers that the plane was carrying the body of a soldier killed in action. (The soldier, apparently, was Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright, one of the four troops killed in Niger, although Delta won’t confirm that.) The pilot asked them to remain in their seats when the flight landed while an honor guard removed the casket from the plane first. Gaudry, whose late husband was a veteran, went around to the other passengers and asked if they’d join her in singing the national anthem while it was removed.

Whereupon a flight attendant told her that anthem singing is against company policy.

Huh? Delta has a policy about the national anthem? Well, no, says Delta:

Anthony Black, a spokesman for Atlanta-based Delta, declined to comment Monday on the specifics on Gaudry’s account.

“There is not a policy about singing the national anthem, period,” Black said.

The attendant told her that passengers from other countries would be “uncomfortable” if the anthem was sung. Gaudry, in a statement on Facebook, says she tried to find out if that was true but got no answers:

Delta has contacted me – no money or free tickets (I promise, and I would not have taken them)- and this is NOT their policy. Evidently they had a flight attendant that made some bad decisions in trying to make this situation go away. They are going to do some training for the future…

Were there really people on the plane that were from other countries and were uncomfortable and offended? I will never know for sure, but this is what was told to me. If I was in your country and the same thing happened, I would smile and be impressed by the patriotism. If the flight attendant just told me this to stop me singing {and be silent and reverent (which was admittedly appropriate)}, then shame on you! How could you even come up with this excuse. In a thousand years, I cannot fathom that an American could have come up with that excuse. Although, I pray that you just DID make this up because you were nervous. I have done stupid things when I was nervous or upset. If you actually conceded to these wishes of people from other countries…I cannot find the appropriate words to reprimand you.

What a strange incident. It could be there’s a policy against singing in general — imagine the annoyance if a passenger was allowed to do a few verses of “99 Bottles of Beer On the Wall” to cure the boredom during a 10-hour flight. But you’d expect Delta to have mentioned that policy by now if it existed, and obviously an exception can and would have been made for the national anthem at a moment like this. Maybe the attendant panicked at the thought of the company suddenly being embroiled in anthem politics and made a decision that … guaranteed they’d be embroiled in anthem politics? Or maybe the attendant was just a liberal. Or (shudder) a Salon conservative. You know how they are.

How did this incident escape the president’s all-seeing eye for cultural flashpoints, anyway? This is Twitter gold.

The post Delta passenger: The airline wouldn’t let me sing the national anthem for a fallen soldier on our flight appeared first on Hot Air.

Fox News poll: Moore and Jones tied in Alabama Senate race

2 hours 23 min ago

Fox News has a new poll out showing the special election in Alabama between Republican Roy Moore and Democrat Doug Jones is a tied race, with each candidate at 42 percent among registered voters.

BREAKING! Roy Moore & Doug Jones tied in #AL-SEN @FoxNews #Poll MORE: https://t.co/gbaOyMA1Wq pic.twitter.com/qh3WXCwKAb

— Fox News Poll (@foxnewspoll) October 17, 2017

Among voters most interested in the race, Jones has a tiny advantage:

A Fox News Poll also finds that among just the 53 percent of Alabama registered voters who are extremely or very interested in the race, Jones has a one-point edge over Moore (46-45 percent)…

“This race exemplifies the difficulty the Republican Party has now,” says Republican pollster Daron Shaw, who conducts the Fox News Poll with Democrat Chris Anderson.

“There is an element of the party that has had it with the establishment, had it with politics as usual, had it with political correctness. The fissure within the party means divisive primaries, controversial candidates, and hard choices for GOP voters once the general election rolls around.”

Why is Moore struggling in a state that Trump won overwhelmingly last year? The poll found that 42% of Moore’s supporters have reservations about him, compared to just 28% of Jones’ supporters who feel the same about their candidate. Also, notice that 21% of Jones’ supporters say opposition to Moore best describes their support for Jones.

NEW! @FoxNews #Poll 42% of Moore’s backers have reservations about him vs. 28% for Jones #AL-SEN https://t.co/gbaOyMRDl0 pic.twitter.com/rATv7MxNUB

— Fox News Poll (@foxnewspoll) October 17, 2017

The Real Clear Politics average of polls still has Moore up 4.4% with this tied Fox News poll included. But the previous polls in their list are a couple weeks old now, so this could be showing a real shift. In any case, with 11% of voters saying they haven’t made up their mind yet, there’s plenty of room for this to go either way. The special election will be held on December 12.

The post Fox News poll: Moore and Jones tied in Alabama Senate race appeared first on Hot Air.

McConnell told Trump privately: Bannon’s primary challengers could wreck your agenda

3 hours 3 min ago

Ah, so that explains that curious bro-hug press conference. Earlier in the day, Trump went so far as to say he could understand where Steve Bannon was coming from in wanting to primary Senate Republicans. A few hours later, apparently after meeting with McConnell, he was at the podium outside the White House claiming that he’d try to talk Bannon out of launching primary challenges to certain Republicans. Now we know why.

Mitch McConnell, Trump whisperer.

There’s truth to McConnell’s argument too, as I noted last night. Bannon’s effort to run populists against Senate GOPers presents two risks to Trump. The obvious one is that they’ll win their primaries but lose their general elections to Democrats. (Cough cough cough.) The less obvious one is that they’ll win their general elections and end up in the Senate as a new voting bloc that professes loyalty to Trump but ends up obstructing him when he tries to make deals with Democrats.

The Kentucky Republican communicated his warning during a private lunch with the president at the White House, sources tell the Washington Examiner.

McConnell emphasized that Bannon, Trump’s former chief strategist, was undermining the president’s agenda with plans to recruit and finance primary challenges against Republicans who are some of his most reliable supporters in the Senate. McConnell might have made some headway…

Bannon’s top targets include Republican Sens. John Barrasso of Wyoming; Deb Fischer of Nebraska and Roger Wicker of Mississippi. Barrasso and Wicker vote with Trump 96 percent of the time. Fischer sides with the president 92 percent of the time, according to tracking from FiveThirtyEight…

Bannon’s approach “would be exactly what someone would do if their only goal was to derail the Trump agenda and drain the resources of the Republican Party,” one GOP insider said.

The sobering lesson of the Alabama Senate runoff for Trump was that the base (in red states at least) values anti-establishmentarianism more highly than it does Trump’s personal endorsement. Moore ran against Washington; Trump, who ran against Washington last year, endorsed Luther Strange. Moore won. A Senator Roy Moore would need to bear that in mind whenever Trump lurches to the middle and tries to compromise with Schumer and Pelosi. Who’s more likely to support a DREAM deal, Moore or Strange? Jeff Flake or Kelli Ward? Barrasso and Deb Fischer or some random nationalist candidates? Remember, although Trump frequently aligns with populists, he’s not technically a populist himself. He’s a Trumpist, which means he wants whatever his position happens to be at a given moment, and those positions (a la DACA and DREAM) aren’t always populist. More than anything he wants some legislative wins and a Congress that’ll deliver for him. That’s why it made sense for him to support Strange over Moore. Strange will do his bidding reliably, Moore won’t.

That’s what McConnell tried to press upon him yesterday, I think, and he may have succeeded to some extent. Although a few GOP senators like Corker, Flake, and Sasse shoot off their mouths regularly in criticizing Trump, even they’re reliable voters for the president’s agenda. The rest of the caucus not only votes with the White House but mutes its criticism of Trump for fear of antagonizing the base. By and large there have been four “problem” senators — Collins, Murkowski, McCain, and Rand Paul, who’s now threatening to vote no on the Senate’s budget, of course. Trump’s misfortune is that not one of them is up for reelection in 2018. He can replace Flake with Ward or Strange with Moore but there’s no reason necessarily to think that’ll net him more votes on key legislation. On the contrary.

It’s not just Bannon who’s using Senate Republicans as a whipping boy, though. This is unexpected:

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) late Monday took aim at Senate Republicans during a local GOP dinner in Indiana.

“We have 286 bills sitting in the Senate. We have to break that logjam,” McCarthy told a dinner hosted by the Allen County Republican Party, according to The Journal Gazette in Fort Wayne.

“But if you’re not strong enough to say you’re going to repeal ObamaCare and then vote that way, you don’t deserve to stay in the office.”

Kevin McCarthy, Paul Ryan’s right-hand man, tacitly encouraging the Bannon primary push by saying Senate incumbents maybe deserve to lose? I understand his frustration and how useful it is to House Republicans for right-wing populists to be laser-focused on McConnell and his caucus, but McCarthy’s life isn’t going to get easier with a bunch of Roy Moores in the Senate. Again, on the contrary.

Here’s former Rep. David Jolly, a centrist Republican, telling MSNBC that it might be better for the country if Democrats … took back the House next fall. If you believe CNN’s polling, which has the Dems up a whopping 14 points on the generic ballot today, that’s an increasingly likely possibility. Trump might enjoy it in some ways too: An infrastructure bill would be easier to pass with Pelosi in charge of the House than Ryan, for instance. There’s just one teensy matter of concern in having Democrats in charge of the lower chamber…

The post McConnell told Trump privately: Bannon’s primary challengers could wreck your agenda appeared first on Hot Air.

FCC chair: No, we don’t pull licenses over content complaints

3 hours 43 min ago

Better late than never. Almost a week after Donald Trump suggested that the FCC take action against NBC for broadcasting “fake news,” FCC chair Ajit Pai told an AT&T forum that fake news falls outside its mandate. Besides, Pai said, current law doesn’t grant the FCC authority to revoke licenses over political content … and he’s not in favor of it anyway:

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) doesn’t have the authority to revoke a broadcast network’s license based on content, Chairman Ajit Pai said Tuesday in response to President Trump’s call on it to challenge NBC’s FCC licenses.

“I believe in the first amendment. The FCC, under my leadership, will stand for the first amendment,” Pai said in response to a question about calls from Trump to revoke the licenses of broadcasters who, according to the president, broadcast “fake news.”

“Under the law, the FCC does not have the authority does not have the power to revoke license of a broadcast station based on content of a program,” Pai, who was appointed by Trump as FCC chairman, said at an AT&T policy forum event.

No kidding. As I noted last week, networks don’t have licenses for their content, and many (if not most) of their stations are owned by others. Reuters also explains that today:

The FCC, an independent federal agency, does not license broadcast networks, but issues them to individual broadcast stations that are renewed on a staggered basis for eight-year periods.

Comcast Corp, which owns NBC Universal, also owns 11 broadcast stations, including outlets in New York, Washington, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Dallas and Chicago.

When reviewing licenses the FCC must determine if a renewal is in the public interest. Courts have held that a station exercising its First Amendment rights is not adequate grounds to challenge a license.

Networks are essentially content providers, and the only license one needs for that can be found in the First Amendment.

The only content restrictions still extant that could land broadcasters in hot water with the FCC relate to obscenities and adult material. Those restrictions cost CBS a minor fortune after the Super Bowl in 2004, when Justin Timberlake ripped Janet Jackson’s bustier open and exposed her left breast on national television — but even that fine was on a station-by-station basis, and on an objective violation of restrictions that have nothing to do with political points of view.

Why did it take Pai so long to address the issue? Other FCC commissioners spoke out immediately about the inappropriate demand, but Pai probably felt the need to tread carefully. He’s a Trump appointee to the chairmanship, and would not have rushed to publicly contradict his ally. Nevertheless, it’s important for the FCC to clearly state the limits of its authority, especially since Pai has been a leading voice in ensuring that the FCC sticks to those limits. Even when our allies suggest government control of speech — or perhaps especially when — we must stand up to defend the First Amendment and keep the authoritarian impulse in check.

The post FCC chair: No, we don’t pull licenses over content complaints appeared first on Hot Air.

Hollywood sexual assault accusation round-up

Tue, 10/17/2017 - 23:21

Earlier today I wrote about Reese Witherspoon’s claim last night that she was sexually assaulted by a director when she was just 16-years-old. But there have been several more well-known actresses who have made fresh accusations today so I’m going to offer a round-up. First off, Lena Headey, who plays Cersei Lannister on Game of Thrones, tweeted about her two awkward interactions with Harvey Weinstein:

pic.twitter.com/o1U06krn0q

— lena headey (@IAMLenaHeadey) October 17, 2017

pic.twitter.com/QzS7EweJGe

— lena headey (@IAMLenaHeadey) October 17, 2017

pic.twitter.com/VXzLNwT2yO

— lena headey (@IAMLenaHeadey) October 17, 2017

pic.twitter.com/gX2cL6PyQN

— lena headey (@IAMLenaHeadey) October 17, 2017

If Weinstein’s room card had worked, this story might have a very different ending. Maybe she’d have snapped out of it and run or maybe he’d have forced her into the room.

Over at the New Yorker, actress Molly Ringwold recalls working with Weinstein in the early days before he’d reached the height of his power. He never made a move on her then but goes on to say that several other men in the industry did, starting when she was just a child:

I have had plenty of Harveys of my own over the years, enough to feel a sickening shock of recognition. When I was thirteen, a fifty-year-old crew member told me that he would teach me to dance, and then proceeded to push against me with an erection. When I was fourteen, a married film director stuck his tongue in my mouth on set. At a time when I was trying to figure out what it meant to become a sexually viable young woman, at every turn some older guy tried to help speed up the process. And all this went on despite my having very protective parents who did their best to shield me. I shudder to think of what would have happened had I not had them.

Also today, a producer for the TV show The Mist has accused Bob Weinstein (Harvey’s brother) of harassing her by repeatedly asking her on dates for weeks after she had said she wasn’t interested:

Bob Weinstein continued to ask Segel out to dinner between June and August of 2016 joking at times that he was her boss and could fire her if she didn’t agree. Segel agreed to another dinner with him in which she was accompanied by “Mist” executive producer and writer Christian Torpe. Weinstein was clearly unhappy with Torpe’s presence at the dinner, according to Segel.

Eventually, Weinstein stopped the unwanted attention toward Segel. During a notes conference call with network executives about the show, Segel says Weinstein became angry and screamed at Segel over a production issue that she says was out of her control. When questioned about the outburst by others on the call, Segel expressed her view that she had been sexually harassed by Weinstein for three months. After that incident, Segel had her lawyer contact TWC executives with the ultimatum that she would leave the show if Weinstein did not stay away from her.

Through lawyers, Segel eventually agreed to remain on the show so long as she never had to be in the same room as Bob Weinstein. Weinstein denies any sexual harassment. His spokesman told Variety, “Variety’s story about Bob Weinstein is riddled with false and misleading assertions by Ms. Segel and we have the emails to prove it, but even if you believe what she says it contains not a hint of any inappropriate touching or even any request for such touching.” It sounds to me like Bob is suggesting he’s no Harvey, which seems to be true but that’s a pretty low bar.

And in a follow-up to a story I wrote about last week, Roy Price, the head of Amazon Studios, has resigned from his job. Price was accused of making sexual comments to a producer of one of Amazon’s series. Rose McGowan also claimed she had told Price about being assaulted by Harvey Weinstein.

Finally, there’s another story circulating today about an A-list actor who was accused Friday on Twitter of assaulting “a loved one.” The Daily Mail and other sites aren’t identifying the actor by name so I won’t either. But this older actor has been accused of carrying on with young men for years.

The post Hollywood sexual assault accusation round-up appeared first on Hot Air.

Yes, Hanoi Jane is back. No, she’s still not sorry

Tue, 10/17/2017 - 22:41

Lots of people, particularly from back in my generation, went through a rebellious stage in their youth. It was a sign of the times. Some took a bit longer to grow out of it than others, though. In the case of Jane Fonda, the process has taken her almost to the age of 80 with no sign of letting up. After her rather embarrassing performance at the Emmys this year, demonstrating how she’s still part of the #RESIST movement, one might think she’d give it a break for a bit. Sadly, that was not the case.

The Barbarella star sat down for an interview with the BBC recently and was pitched one of the softball questions which every liberal attraction is given these days. Are you proud of America? Anyone who hasn’t already guessed the answer should probably take up a new hobby because politics clearly isn’t your thing. (Fox News)

Jane Fonda made it clear she is not proud of America.

During a recent interview with the BBC, Fonda was asked, “Are you proud of America today?”

The actress was very quick to reply with a hard “no.”

“But, I’m proud of the resistance,” she elaborated. “I’m proud of the people who are turning out in unprecedented numbers and continue and continue over and over and over again to protest what Trump is doing. I’m very proud of them, that core.”

It’s nice that she’s proud of something I suppose. Everyone needs a peg to hang their hat on.

The BBC reporter went on to another of the old standards which Fonda can never avoid. What about that trip to Vietnam where she picked up the eternal Hanoi Jane moniker? Any regrets?

Not really. Her only regret is going to the “ceremony” at the anti-aircraft gun that gave the “appearance” that she was siding with the enemy. This is a story arc which has been evolving over the decades. In 1988 during an interview with Barbara Walters she actually apologized and said it was “unforgivable” but ten years later she was on CBS and said that she had nothing to be sorry for. Then in 2000, she was apologizing again. But now, well… memory can be a tricky thing after a certain point, so the story seems to have combined her two approaches to the point where she’s simply sorry that you all don’t understand that it was all one big misunderstanding. Or something.

Either way, it keeps her in good graces with her fans… whoever those happen to be these days. I do have to wonder what her father would think were he still with us today. Henry Fonda passed away more than 35 years ago, but he always struck me as a fine man with a healthy amount of respect for and gratitude to the nation which had given him so much. He had a rocky relationship with his adult daughter when he was alive by most accounts, but the whole Hanoi Jane thing probably hit him pretty hard.

In any event, here’s Fonda in the trailer for what was arguably her finest cinematic work. Shockingly, the trailer is borderline safe for work, though perhaps still dangerous for your sanity.

The post Yes, Hanoi Jane is back. No, she’s still not sorry appeared first on Hot Air.

Surprise: Hawaii judge blocks Trump’s travel ban — again

Tue, 10/17/2017 - 22:01

This makes twice that Judge Derrick Watson has blown up Trump’s executive order on the launchpad, this time just a few hours before it was set to take effect nationally. Guess who appointed him to the bench.

Previous versions of the ban have been halted on grounds that they discriminate against Muslims, citing statements Trump made as a candidate as evidence of a constitutionally impermissible purpose. Travel ban 3.0 sought to solve that problem by including a few non-Muslim countries on the “prohibited” list, most notably North Korea and Venezuela. You can’t knock down an executive order for discriminating on the basis of religion if it doesn’t actually discriminate on the basis of religion, can you?

Perhaps. But why worry about religious discrimination if you can ding Trump for discriminating on the basis of … nationality?

Trump hasn’t shown that the entry of more than 150 million nationals from six specified countries would be “detrimental to the interests of the United States,” U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson in Honolulu said Tuesday in issuing a temporary restraining order against the administration.

Federal immigration laws “do not afford the President unbridled discretion to do as he pleases,” the judge said…

The third iteration of the ban “plainly discriminates based on nationality,” Watson said, adding that it also “improperly uses nationality as a proxy for risk.”

The relevant statute, 8 U.S.C. 1182(f), says:

Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.

“Any,” “all” — that statute sure is broadly written! It gives the president wide latitude to bar entire classes of foreigners from the country if he determines they’re “detrimental to the interests of the United States,” which is itself about as broadly written as one could hope for. Congress could have limited the president’s authority to national security specifically but “the interests of the United States” goes far beyond that. Trump’s rationale for declaring entire countries off-limits for travel to the U.S. was straightforward: Because the governments of those countries are unable or unwilling to share critical info about individual travelers, and because the countries themselves contain elements that are hostile to the U.S., the federal government has to presume that any particular traveler might pose a risk of “detriment.” If we can’t vet people to our satisfaction before they enter the United States, they don’t enter the United States. Err on the side of caution.

No dice, says Watson, citing the Ninth Circuit. That’s discriminatory:

The feds can always reject an individual visa application for security concerns, he allows. Why do they need to categorically reject *every* visa application from a given country, particularly when they haven’t showed that current vetting procedures are inadequate? And why, if the new ban is all about inadequate information-sharing by the banned countries, are some countries omitted from the ban even though they’re guilty of the same thing? Iraq was left out of the ban as a goodwill gesture, to preserve U.S. influence over the Iraqi government, even though its own information-gathering and sharing procedures about its citizens are poor. Perfect consistency or bust, says Watson! He’ll micromanage executive administration of immigration policy no matter how many new executive orders it takes.

What we’re having an argument about here, obviously, is how much discretion the president should have under existing immigration law to exclude people. Put that question in front of an Obama appointee who presumes bad faith by Trump and you’ll find it very narrowly circumscribed despite the breadth of Section 1182(f). Put it in front of a right-leaning Supreme Court and you may get a different result. For all the hype about the coming SCOTUS term and the various blockbuster decisions in the making, none will prove or disprove Gorsuch’s worth to Trump as much as his vote on the travel ban. If he hands Trump a victory by upholding the ban, it’ll be the ultimate return on investment for POTUS. If he shanks Trump by voting with the liberals, good lord. That’ll be a rage-tweeting session for the ages.

The post Surprise: Hawaii judge blocks Trump’s travel ban — again appeared first on Hot Air.

Contraception mandate battles over? DoJ settles with scores of plaintiffs

Tue, 10/17/2017 - 21:31

“The nuns won,” writes Wesley Smith at NRO. That’s not literally true, at least not yet, but it now appears inevitable. The Department of Justice has finally settled the HHS contraception-mandate lawsuits it had previously contested with the law firm Jones Day, which represents scores of religious organizations that refused to comply with the regulation:

A week after issuing new religious-freedom guidelines to all administrative agencies in the federal government, the U.S. Department of Justice has settled with more than 70 plaintiffs who had challenged the controversial HHS contraceptive mandate.

The Oct. 13 agreement was reached between the government and the law firm Jones Day, which represented more than 70 clients fighting the mandate. Made public Oct. 16, the agreement states that the plaintiffs would not be forced to provide health insurance coverage for “morally unacceptable” products and procedures, including contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs.

“This settlement brings to a conclusion our litigation challenging the Health and Human Services’ mandate obliging our institutions to provide support for morally objectionable activities, as well as a level of assurance as we move into the future,” said Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., in an Oct. 16 letter to priests of the archdiocese.

The Little Sisters of the Poor, the most notable group of nuns involved in these lawsuits, are not among these plaintiffs. They are being represented by Becket Law, which also represents other clients fighting the HHS contraception mandate. At least for now, those cases remain open, although one would presume that the DoJ would try to settle them all on roughly the same terms. Becket attorney Mark Rienzi expected that to happen shortly after HHS issued its new rule on exemptions:

“It should be easy for the courts to finalize this issue now that the government admits it broke the law. For months, we have been waiting for Department of Justice lawyers to honestly admit that fact, like the President did in the Rose Garden five months ago. Now that the agencies admit the mandate was illegal, we expect the leadership of the Department of Justice will cooperate in getting a final court resolution.”

Interestingly, the DoJ has not yet posted an announcement of the settlement terms, perhaps waiting until they make their way through more than 300 cases. The terms included in the Jones Day settlement demonstrate remarkably repentant; the DoJ has agreed to cover some of the plaintiff’s legal fees and costs, which seems a little unusual for a settlement outside of court. On top of that, the DoJ has apparently agreed to exempt these organizations from all future exemption enforcement, even if the parameters of the exemption change:

Thomas Aquinas College, a Catholic college in California and another plaintiff against the HHS mandate, also celebrated the protection the settlement brings.

“While we welcomed the broadening of the exemption from the HHS mandate last week by the Trump administration, we have under our agreement today something even better: a permanent exemption from an onerous federal directive — and any similar future directive — that would require us to compromise our fundamental beliefs,” said Thomas Aquinas College President Michael McLean in an Oct. 16 statement.

That’s a pretty impressive win, and signals an outright surrender on these lawsuits. That’s more or less what these organizations expected months ago, if not a repeal of the mandate as part of the repeal of ObamaCare. It’s taken quite a while to get here, but at least we have arrived. Well … some of us, anyway.

The post Contraception mandate battles over? DoJ settles with scores of plaintiffs appeared first on Hot Air.

The dubious science behind implicit racial bias

Tue, 10/17/2017 - 21:05

Last week City Journal published a piece by Heather Mac Donald about the history of the implicit association test (IAT) and how it came to be cited by academics and many on the left as proof that everyone has implicit or unconscious racial bias.

Mac Donald’s piece is lengthy and difficult to summarize but it begins with the creation of the IAT in 1998 by, “social psychologists Anthony Greenwald and Mahzarin Banaji, with funding from the National Science Foundation and National Institute of Mental Health.” The actual test is pretty simple. Faces of white and black children are shown one at a time interspersed with “good” and “bad” words (“pleasant,” “grief,” etc.). The subject is asked to sort the faces into white and black and the words into good and bad as quickly as they can using only two keys. As the test progresses, the subject is asked to switch which key on the keyboard represents black children and which white children. And here’s how the test supposedly measures bias:

If a subject takes longer sorting black faces using the computer key associated with a “good” word than he does sorting white faces using the computer key associated with a “good” word, the IAT deems the subject a bearer of implicit bias. The IAT ranks the subject’s degree of implicit bias based on the differences in milliseconds with which he accomplishes the different sorting tasks; at the end of the test, he finds out whether he has a strong, moderate, or weak “preference” for blacks or for whites.

You can take it yourself here if you’re confused or just curious. As Mac Donald points out, this was considered a breakthrough when it was introduced and was being referenced by national leaders including President Obama and candidate Hillary Clinton:

The implicit-bias conceit spread like wildfire. President Barack Obama denounced “unconscious” biases against minorities and females in science in 2016. NBC anchor Lester Holt asked Hillary Clinton during a September 2016 presidential debate whether “police are implicitly biased against black people.” Clinton answered: “Lester, I think implicit bias is a problem for everyone, not just police.” Then–FBI director James Comey claimed in a 2015 speech that “much research” points to the “widespread existence of unconscious bias.” “Many people in our white-majority culture,” Comey said, “react differently to a white face than a black face.” The Obama Justice Department packed off all federal law-enforcement agents to implicit-bias training. Clinton promised to help fund it for local police departments, many of which had already begun the training following the 2014 fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

There was a push led by UCLA law professor Jerry Kang to incorporate the IAT into the law. It’s not hard to imagine how this could be used in an employment discrimination case or in a lawsuit against a police officer. But even as all of this cultural and legal machinery was gearing up, it turns out there is really little or no evidence that the IAT actually proves anything at all.

Any social-psychological instrument must pass two tests to be considered accurate: reliability and validity. A psychological instrument is reliable if the same test subject, taking the test at different times, achieves roughly the same score each time. But IAT bias scores have a lower rate of consistency than is deemed acceptable for use in the real world—a subject could be rated with a high degree of implicit bias on one taking of the IAT and a low or moderate degree the next time around. A recent estimate puts the reliability of the race IAT at half of what is considered usable. No evidence exists, in other words, that the IAT reliably measures anything stable in the test-taker.

But the fiercest disputes concern the IAT’s validity. A psychological instrument is deemed “valid” if it actually measures what it claims to be measuring—in this case, implicit bias and, by extension, discriminatory behavior. If the IAT were valid, a high implicit-bias score would predict discriminatory behavior, as Greenwald and Banaji asserted from the start. It turns out, however, that IAT scores have almost no connection to what ludicrously counts as “discriminatory behavior” in IAT research—trivial nuances of body language during a mock interview in a college psychology laboratory, say, or a hypothetical choice to donate to children in Colombian, rather than South African, slums…

A 2009 meta-analysis of 122 IAT studies by Greenwald, Banaji, and two management professors found that IAT scores accounted for only 5.5 percent of the variation in laboratory-induced “discrimination.” Even that low score was arrived at by questionable methods, as Jesse Singal discussed in a masterful review of the IAT literature in New York…If test subjects scored high on implicit bias via the IAT but demonstrated better behavior toward out-group members (such as blacks) than toward in-group members, that was a validation of the IAT on the theory that the subjects were overcompensating for their implicit bias. But studies that found a correlation between a high implicit-bias score and discriminatory behavior toward out-group members also validated the IAT. In other words: heads, I win; tails, I win.

To their credit, the authors of the test have admitted that the current evidence does not support using the IAT as evidence of how someone will behave. From Jesse Singal’s piece on the IAT published in January:

Both critics and proponents of the IAT now agree that the statistical evidence is simply too lacking for the test to be used to predict individual behavior. That’s not to say the two teams don’t still disagree on many issues — they do, and as we’ll see there’s some genuine bad blood — but on this point, the architects have effectively conceded. They did so in 2015: The psychometric issues with race and ethnicity IATs, Greenwald, Banaji, and Nosek wrote in one of their responses to the Oswald team’s work, “render them problematic to use to classify persons as likely to engage in discrimination.” In that same paper, they noted that “attempts to diagnostically use such measures for individuals risk undesirably high rates of erroneous classifications.” In other words: You can’t use the IAT to tell individuals how likely they are to commit acts of implicit bias.

But obviously, word hasn’t gotten to everyone who bought into their work, including the former president and Hillary Clinton. And that’s where Heather Mac Donald argues the real scandal of the IAT is that so many people seem eager to suggest questionable science of hidden bias is a significant factor in minority outcomes in the real world, even as they downplay the tangible benefits these same minority groups get in terms of corporate hiring or college admissions:

Every selective college today admits black and Hispanic students with much weaker academic qualifications than white and Asian students, as any high school senior knows. At the University of Michigan, for example, an Asian with the same GPA and SAT scores as the median black admit had zero chance in 2005 of admission; a white with those same scores had a 1 percent chance of admission. At Arizona State University, a white with the same academic credentials as the average black admit had a 2 percent chance of admission in 2006; that average black had a 96 percent chance of admission. The preferences continue into graduate and professional schools. UCLA and UC Berkeley law schools admit blacks at a 400 percent higher rate than can be explained on race-neutral grounds, though California law in theory bans them from using racial preferences.

The whole piece is worth reading and goes into the impact of the IAT on policing. She argues the whole push for the IAT has been a case study in “agenda-driven social science,” one that paints a biased picture of America.

The post The dubious science behind implicit racial bias appeared first on Hot Air.

The secret to marriage is being married

Tue, 10/17/2017 - 20:31

We’ll veer off the beaten path today for a short sojourn into the subject of marriage and relationships. While not my usual beat, I found myself captivated this morning by an essay in the New York Times under the byline of Gabrielle Zevin. She’s the author of numerous books I’ve never read, as well as the screenplays for a few movies I’ve never seen. I don’t say this as any sort of criticism of her work. You could fill an ocean with books I’ve never even heard of and I probably watch less than three new movies per year on average. I’m sure the work is wonderful. It’s just not in a genre that would normally catch my interest.

The title of the essay is what initially caught my attention. The Secret to Marriage Is Never Getting Married. I can hear what many of you are thinking already. Oh, Good Lord. Here we go again. But is that what this is all about? Just another diatribe from some opponent of traditional marriage pushing a free-wheeling lifestyle?

Reading through the bulk of this lengthy and well-written piece you’d tend to say no. In fact, I had quickly convinced myself that the title was simply some clever editor’s hook, designed to bring in more clicks and display more adverts by momentarily pushing the outrage button among conservatives or the needy-greedy buttons of the lovelorn who have given up on ever finding Mr. or Mrs. Right and are looking for company in their misery. The story itself reads as something very different.

This essay is the story of Ms. Zevin’s 21-year non-marriage to her non-husband Hans, who she met at the tender age of 18 when they were attending college together. The piece weaves together a series of touching vignettes from their life together, engaging, charming, heartwarming. (And for those who are familiar with my usual work and style I feel the need to stress here that this isn’t my normal, callous snark and world-weary sarcasm. It’s a beautifully written piece.) Perhaps it was the author’s reference to their 21 years together which locked my eyes on the screen. It was only two days ago that I returned from a celebratory, second honeymoon trip with my actual wife from our actual marriage which, coincidentally, also just hit the 21-year mark.

Ms. Zevin describes not only their beautiful, though occasionally challenging life together, but the reasons they didn’t wind up marrying. Financial problems initially were followed by other logistical challenges, with the months and years rolling by, eventually arriving at a stage when they, “had been together too long to bother.” She also details her exasperation at being constantly asked by friends and relatives why they’d never made the trip down the aisle. I imagine this is similar to the experience of married couples who are continually asked why they haven’t had children yet.

It’s a beautiful story of a beautifully normal life and two people who found a way to carve out some happiness together. As I said above, it’s almost enough to lead one to believe that this isn’t an indictment of marriage at all.

Almost.

But after all of the sweetness and light, at the very end of this lengthy sermon on love and devotion, we reach the author’s premise at last. And when we do, we see that the title of the essay wasn’t just a dodge to generate clicks from haters. It’s actually the cornerstone of the entire discussion. Please read her brief summation carefully. (Emphasis added)

When I say I don’t believe in marriage, what I mean to say is: I understand the financial and legal benefits, but I don’t believe the government or a church or a department store registry can change the way I already feel and behave.

Or maybe it would. Because when the law doesn’t bind you as a couple, you have to choose each other every day. And maybe the act of choosing changes a relationship for the better. But successfully married people must know this already.

I wake up in the morning and I look at Hans and think, I love you. I choose you above any other person. I chose you 21 years ago and I choose you today. I believe you to be a constant in my life, and I, a constant in yours. Loving you is the closest thing I have to faith.

Therein lies the rub, as the saying goes. Choosing. And this, in essence, is what makes marriage such a fundamental block in the edifice of society. Ms. Zevin is fortunate indeed to have found Hans so early in life and to have melded into a relationship where their worst fights generally end, with him throwing up his hands and saying, “I’m not a handyman!” (That’s a quote.)

Not everyone is so blessed. In fact, I don’t personally know anyone who was. Relationships between people crammed into close quarters from an early age and locked into this eternal dance as they grow older and their personalities evolve tend to be rough at times. Occasionally very rough. The challenges you can present for each other in terms of understanding and compassion can, for some, be dwarfed by what the rest of the world throws at you. And for many, there are going to be mornings or even weeks or months where you wake up, look at the person sleeping next to you, think of the question of whether you would choose them all over again and the answer just might be… not so much. Not forever, mind you. But just for that time.

And for far too many in our society, having the convenient option of not making that choice to say yes makes it all too easy or even tempting to pack up your half of the various goodies you’ve acquired over the years and walk out the door. The cost of doing so in our society is far too low. But marriage is an institution that wasn’t only developed to bring us together, but to keep us together, even when the going gets rough. There’s a cost to bailing out. Several costs in fact.It can be ruinously expensive financially, but it’s also whatever the opposite of a badge of honor is. Your marriage failed. On some level, you failed. It gives one pause.

If the relationship is a total disaster you can still pull the plug. In fact, some might say that our no-fault divorce system still makes it far too easy to do so. The escape hatch is available if it’s truly needed, but it just takes a bit more work to unlock it and dive through. And that bit of work, for so many married couples, is what gives them enough of a pause to remember why they chose their spouse in the first place and find the strength to stick it out a bit longer, work together to fix the problems in the relationship and – hopefully, and by the grace of God – get back to the joy and happiness they shared before.

So no, Ms. Zevin. I fear I must beg to differ. The secret to marriage isn’t “never getting married.” It’s quite the opposite in fact.

The post The secret to marriage is being married appeared first on Hot Air.

Senate Dems, GOP reach deal to reinstate ObamaCare’s cost-sharing subsidies

Tue, 10/17/2017 - 20:01

It’s encouraging to know that our two very divided parties can still come together to figure out ways to prop up ObamaCare.

Trump forced Congress’s hand last week when he announced HHS would no longer pay the cost-sharing subsidies. For good reason: They were never formally appropriated by Congress to begin with and had already been ruled unconstitutional by a federal court. Obama had willed them into existence in service to his pet boondoggle. By pulling the plug, Trump was not only getting right with the law, he was pulling a key piece out of the teetering jenga tower that is ObamaCare. Congress could respond either by setting aside its differences and passing the subsidies properly, replacing the missing jenga piece, or it could let the tower teeter as insurers jacked up premiums in order to make up for the lost revenue. Higher unsubsidized premiums would risk a death spiral as some consumers inevitably dropped out of the markets, requiring even higher premiums going forward.

Letting the tower topple would be politically painful and verrrrrry risky for both parties, not knowing which one would get the lion’s share of the blame from voters. So Patty Murray and Lamar Alexander huddled, and voila: They’ve found the missing jenga piece.

As one part of the deal, the subsidies would be funded for two years, a step that would provide at least short-term certainty to insurers. The subsidies, known as cost-sharing reductions, lower out-of-pocket costs for low-income consumers…

Mr. Alexander said that in addition to funding the payments to insurers, the deal would also give states “more flexibility in the variety of choices they can give to consumers,” which should appeal to Republican lawmakers eager to give states more say over health care.

In return for spooning out Uncle Sam’s sugar to insurers for two more years, Republicans will get a bit more flexibility for states to approve plans that don’t comply with ObamaCare (provided they’re of “comparable affordability”) and will make cheaper catastrophic coverage more available to younger consumers. Good deal? Well, it solve’s the GOP political problem short-term by resolving the subsidies issue until after the midterms are over — *if* the Murray/Alexander bill passes, that is.

But what if it doesn’t pass? Presumably, with Alexander and Murray behind it, there’ll be no problem getting to 60 in the Senate. Getting to 218 in the House could be trickier because, like I said up top, at base this is a bailout of ObamaCare. The Freedom Caucus and the Republican Study Committee, which has a lot of members, won’t want to vote for it. “Anything propping [ObamaCare] up is only saving what Republicans promised to dismantle,” said RSC chairman Mark Walker to the Hill. Paul Ryan could still pass it with Pelosi’s help, but if he’s following “the Hastert Rule” he’s not supposed to bring any bill to the floor that doesn’t have the support of a majority of his own caucus. How many House Republicans are going to want to hold their noses and vote yes on a bill that conservatives like Walker are calling a bailout for Obama’s signature program?

Trump will have to twist some arms but he too will find it distasteful having to go to bat for ObamaCare. He’s said many times that he’s content to let the law fail, presuming that the public will blame Democrats for the chaos that follows. He was battered by the press over the weekend for letting the cost-sharing subsidies lapse and now he’ll have to turn around and sell them to reluctant House Republicans anyway. Just yesterday he slammed the subsidies as a “gravy train” for the insurance industry. Imagine if he lends Ryan a hand by making the case publicly for reinstating the subsidies, only to have the effort fail in the House. It’ll be a double whammy — the caucus will have rebuked him *and* he’ll have spent political capital on defending the use of taxpayer money for ObamaCare. Steve Bannon and Roy Moore might make him pay too by agitating in favor of letting the subsidies lapse altogether. I think the House will pass the bill, just to hedge against the risk that Republicans end up being blamed for premium hikes otherwise, but you never know. Matt Drudge, for one, seems unhappy:

HOT MESS: Senators reach bipartisan deal to fund healthcare subsidies that Trump ended — and president voices support…

— MATT DRUDGE (@DRUDGE) October 17, 2017

Here’s Trump yesterday declaring ObamaCare “dead.” Twenty-four hours later, it’s alive again! Alive!

The post Senate Dems, GOP reach deal to reinstate ObamaCare’s cost-sharing subsidies appeared first on Hot Air.

Today’s hot topics: Raqqa roll, war on Kurds, Gingriches to the Vatican, NFL’s plenipotent protests, and more

Tue, 10/17/2017 - 19:31

Today on The Ed Morrissey Show (4 pm ET), we have another great lineup for the news of the day! The show will be streamed on Hot Air’s Facebook page and embedded here and on the show page for those who are not on Facebook. (If it’s muted, right-click the video and choose Unmute.)

Join us as we welcome:

  • The Senate confirmed Callista Gingrich as US Ambassador to the Holy See last night in a 70-23 vote. What will be her first challenges, and what does the Vatican expect? Veteran Vaticanista Francis X. Rocca of the Wall Street Journal joins us to discuss that, and all the other news from the Vatican.
  • Raqqa has been liberated, but now the Kurds and Iraqis have squared off in a civil war over control of Kirkuk. What does that mean for the Christian and Yazidi refugees of ISIS, and for the overall stability of the region? Jeff Gardner of Picture Christians provides his on-the-ground expertise in making sense of all the recent developments.
  • The NFL meets today to, er, not discuss the national-anthem protests. Jazz Shaw joins us to discuss that, as well as the secret of marriage.

The Ed Morrissey Show and its dynamic chatroom can be seen on the permanent TEMS page. Be sure to join us, and don’t forget to keep up with the debate on my Facebook page, too!

How can Republicans and conservatives keep the momentum going? Find out in GOING REDpublished in April from Crown Forum!

The post Today’s hot topics: Raqqa roll, war on Kurds, Gingriches to the Vatican, NFL’s plenipotent protests, and more appeared first on Hot Air.

Hollywood screenwriter: Everybody knew about Harvey Weinstein’s ‘appetite’

Tue, 10/17/2017 - 19:01

“So, uh, yeah. We need to talk about Harvey.” That’s how Hollywood screenwriter Scott Rosenberg opens a lengthy Facebook post talking about his time working closely with the Weinstein brothers in the early days of Miramax. According to Rosenberg, who wrote Beautiful Girls, Con Air and Gone in Sixty Seconds, it was a great time for a group of New York guys trying to shake up the Hollywood film industry. But he says that Weinstein’s interest in young starlets was well known to everyone around him at the time. From Deadline:

Let’s be perfectly clear about one thing:

Everybody-f**king-knew.

Not that he was raping.
No, that we never heard.
But we were aware of a certain pattern of overly-aggressive behavior that was rather dreadful.
We knew about the man’s hunger; his fervor; his appetite.
There was nothing secret about this voracious rapacity; like a gluttonous ogre out of the Brothers Grimm.
All couched in vague promises of potential movie roles.
(and, it should be noted: there were many who actually succumbed to his bulky charms. Willingly. Which surely must have only impelled him to cast his fetid net even wider).

But like I said: everybody-f**king-knew.

And to me, if Harvey’s behavior is the most reprehensible thing one can imagine, a not-so-distant second is the current flood of sanctimonious denial and condemnation that now crashes upon these shores of rectitude in gloppy tides of bullshit righteousness.

Because everybody-f**king-knew.

And do you know how I am sure this is true?
Because I was there.
And I saw you.
And I talked about it with you.
You, the big producers; you, the big directors; you, the big agents; you, the big financiers.
And you, the big rival studio chiefs; you, the big actors; you, the big actresses; you, the big models.
You, the big journalists; you, the big screenwriters; you, the big rock stars; you, the big restaurateurs; you, the big politicians.

Rosenberg admits that he did nothing about Weinstein’s behavior because Weinstein was his meal ticket, and a generous one at that:

Sundance! Cannes! Toronto!
Telluride! Berlin! Venice!
Private jets! Stretch limousines! Springsteen shows!
Hell, Harvey once took me to St. Barth’s for Christmas.
For 12 days!
I was a broke-ass kid from Boston who had never even HEARD of St. Barth’s before he booked my travel.
He once got me tickets to the seven hottest Broadway shows in one week. So I could take a new girlfriend on a dazzling tour of theater.
He got me seats on the 40-yard-line to the Super Bowl, when the Patriots were playing the Packers in New Orleans…

So what if he was coming on a little strong to some young models who had moved mountains to get into one of his parties?
So what if he was exposing himself, in five-star hotel rooms, like a cartoon flasher out of “MAD MAGAZINE” (just swap robe for raincoat!)
Who were we to call foul?
Golden Geese don’t come along too often in one’s life.

Rosenberg apologizes for going along with the ride. To all the women he let down by keeping quiet he says, “I am eternally sorry.” Finally, after not having much contact with Harvey for many years, he recounts a recent call in which Weinstein wanted to reminisce about the old days:

A few months ago, Harvey called me, out of the blue.
To talk about the bygone days.
To talk about how great it would be to get some of the gang back together.
Make a movie.
He must have known then the noose was tightening.
There was a wistfulness to him that I had never heard before.
A melancholy.
It most assuredly had a walking-to-the-gallows feel.
When we hung up I wondered: “what was that all about?”
In a few short weeks I would know.

It’s a well-written mea culpa which helps explain how this could go on for so long. It wasn’t just the actresses who had a lot to lose by coming forward, it was everyone around Weinstein. Rosenberg says he mostly lost touch with the brothers around 2000 but presumably the same pattern has continued for the last 17 years. No one wants to call out the host at his own party, especially if everyone else seems to be enjoying themselves. So the party rolls on for 30 years.

Rosenberg will take some heat for this and justifiably so, but at least he’s owning up to his part in it. What about all the people who are still claiming they had no idea any of this was going on? What he dubs the “flood of sanctimonious denial” from Weinstein employees to actresses like Meryl Streep to Bill and Hillary Clinton. Do they all get to keep pretending they never heard about any of this? It seems like that’s the current plan. All of the cultural progressives who rally in Hollywood for every noble cause are still, mostly, staying quiet so as not to spoil the party.

The post Hollywood screenwriter: Everybody knew about Harvey Weinstein’s ‘appetite’ appeared first on Hot Air.

The Waco biker trials may signal a shift in how we handle gang violence

Tue, 10/17/2017 - 18:31

While the recent catastrophe in Las Vegas has literally set new records for awfulness, it’s worth remembering that 2015 was also a year where some high profile, mass shooting events took place. If I asked you to remember what the biggest such attacks were for that year, which ones would you recall? The one that received the most press was probably the San Bernardino terror attack, but that one only took third place in terms of the total number of people shot. Coming in at second was the mass shooting which the media so studiously avoided that almost nobody ever heard of it… Bunny Friend Park. But number one on the 2015 list was the biker gang shootout at the Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco, Texas.

Believe it or not, it’s been almost two and a half years since the Bandidos and the Cossacks faced off in that massacre, but only now are we seeing the first of the big trials kicking off. This week sees Jake Carrizal, the Dallas Chapter President of the Bandidos going before the bench. (Associated Press)

Steel barriers and sheriff’s deputies surrounded the courthouse in Waco, Texas, in a show of heightened security as the trial began for an alleged leader of the Bandidos biker gang in connection to the deadliest shootout between biker groups in U.S. history.

But experts say the trial — the first stemming from the fatal May 2015 shooting — could reach far beyond the single case, as the government tries to convict other leaders and dozens of members…

The first to stand trial in Waco is Christopher “Jake” Carrizal, the Bandidos’ Dallas chapter president, whose trial began last week. Experts say a conviction in the case could have a domino effect by convincing other bikers to plead guilty and testify.

One immediate question which comes to mind is how it took so long to get the wheels of justice in motion. In this situation it’s understandable. There were so many people to process, so much physical evidence to catalog and so many witnesses that it was a daunting mountain for law enforcement to climb. A few lower level gang members have already entered guilty pleas, but the top level leaders are going to be facing serious jail time if a conviction is obtained.

The way these trials are being handled may provide a template for dealing with other gangs. It’s rare to achieve such a mass arrest as was done here, but if the first officer of one of the gangs gets put away for life, other members may begin rolling on the top level leadership in exchange for a more lenient deal.

For my money, the real question is whether or not this approach can be transferred over to other gang violence scenarios. Going after biker gangs probably doesn’t seem like much of a priority in the larger scheme of things. The FBI estimates that there are probably less than 40K members of actual “outlaw” biker gangs in the country and a lot of them are only involved in lower level crime. (By contrast, MS13 is estimated to have more than 70K members and that’s just one street gang.)

That’s not to say that the outlaw biker gangs aren’t up to some bad behavior or don’t represent a serious danger. Their dealings in the meth trade alone make them worth pursuing. But they really don’t hold a candle to MS13, the Bloods, the Crips and the armies of smaller gangs holding turf in cities across the country. And while it’s still no excuse for violence, biker gangs shooting up each other are at least somewhat less societally damaging than the ones that are mowing down innocent bystanders and robbery victims.

So, with that in mind, could more aggressive enforcement of this type be replicated in places like Baltimore and Chicago? Could an intensive effort to clear those hundreds of murder cases offer an opportunity to round up a gymnasium full of gang members in one series of raids, lock them down, and use a couple of death penalty cases to get some of the others to turn state’s evidence on the leadership? And, while I’m not trying to be too depressing here… would it do any good in the long term even if we could?

It seems to me that street gang violence is endemic in some areas on a generational scale. Even if you managed to put away the gang leaders across an entire city for lengthy stretches in federal prison, the demand for their “services” would still exist and new, younger criminals would rise up to take their place. Real reform will only come from inside the families and communities in these neighborhoods, I fear. And that’s if it ever comes at all.

The post The Waco biker trials may signal a shift in how we handle gang violence appeared first on Hot Air.

Where in the world is Vegas hero Jesus Campos?

Tue, 10/17/2017 - 18:01

At one point, Jesus Campos seemed to be the biggest heroic figure in the Las Vegas mass shooting tragedy. According to the original timeline, Campos disrupted Stephen Paddock’s plan for the massacre, forcing him into committing suicide when a wounded Campos alerted police to Paddock’s location. However, a series of timeline shifts has put that narrative into question, and raised other questions about what Campos did and when.

Unfortunately, Campos is no longer around to answer those questions — and no one seems to know where he went, the LA Times reports:

Now, the man that many want to honor and who can help bring clarity about the timeline of the shooting has vanished from the public eye, less than two weeks since the Oct. 1 massacre, which left 58 people dead and more than 500 others injured.

David Hickey, president of the Security, Police, and Fire Professionals of America union, said it had been four days since he last saw Jesus Campos.

“We have had no contact with him…. Clearly, somebody knows where he is,” he said.

Fox News reported yesterday that Campos disappeared after being seen at a walk-in health clinic, although the clinic says it has no record of it:

David Hickey of the Security, Police, and Fire Professionals of America (SPFPA) told reporters Friday that he got a text the night before saying Jesus Campos was taken to a UMC Quick Care facility, though he did not specify where or whom the text came from.

A spokesperson at the UMC Quick Care, which has eight locations throughout the Las Vegas area, told Fox News on Monday that they had “heard nothing” about Campos visiting them. …

“Right now I’m just concerned where my member is, and what his condition is. It’s highly unusual,” Hickey said Friday. “I’m hoping everything is OK with him and I’m sure MGM or the union will let (media) know when we hear something,” he said.

It’s curious indeed. Campos had a raft of interviews scheduled with national media outlets last week, but abruptly canceled them when the hotel and local police began to make changes to the timeline. None of that implicates Campos in any wrongdoing, but it did raise questions as to why it took so long for the hotel and police to respond.

The LAT report also called into question why Campos was at Paddock’s door in the first place. A former guard at Mandalay Bay tells the Times that they didn’t have open-door alarms at the hotel, the alleged catalyst for Campos’ response:

According to a former armed security guard at Mandalay Bay, there are supposed to be armed guards patrolling the hallways of the hotel and that Campos was using a device to log in his whereabouts in the casino.

The former security guard, who worked there in the early 2000s, questioned Lombardo’s statement that Campos was investigating the open door alarm.

“There was no alarm system for opened doors when I was there,” he said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to discuss security issues. “You know how often people would have to call hotel guests if that was the case?”

In door-access systems sold by companies for which I worked, you could set an alarm for a door held open status that exceeded a set amount of time. However, at least for hotel rooms, even that would be problematic, as housekeeping almost always keeps the door blocked open during their work in guest rooms. I had assumed the reference to an opened door was for a fire exit, and that still might be the case. Campos had told police that he radioed back to his dispatcher, and that Paddock opened fire, so the open door in question would not necessarily have been Paddock’s.

There is no reason to think that Campos had any responsibility for Paddock’s massacre. In fact, the signs still mainly point to Campos being a key reason why Paddock didn’t continue to fire longer than he did. But his disappearance certainly seems curious, if not suspicious, and Vegas investigators have to be wondering whether Campos has told them the entire story.

The post Where in the world is Vegas hero Jesus Campos? appeared first on Hot Air.

Trump: Ask General Kelly if Obama called him when his son was killed in action

Tue, 10/17/2017 - 17:31

How did a question yesterday about whether Trump had called the families of the troops killed in Niger turn into a 24-hour story about whether Obama called John Kelly after his son was killed in action in Afghanistan? All POTUS had to say was, “Not yet but I’m planning to soon.” Now he’s forcing his chief of staff to relive a tremendously painful memory for no better reason than to score a point on Obama that didn’t need to be scored, probably can’t be scored, and won’t do anything for Trump or the GOP even if it is scored.

Oh well. Sorry, John Kelly.

JUST IN: President Obama did not call Gen. John Kelly when his son was killed in Afghanistan in 2010, White House official tells NBC News

— NBC Politics (@NBCPolitics) October 17, 2017

“I do wonder if General Kelly wants to be the front guy for Trump’s suggestion Obama didn’t care about dead soldiers,” says Ben Shapiro. Obama alumni are incensed:

Kelly, a man of honor & decency, should stop this inane cruelty. He saw up-close just how—& how much—Obama cared for the fallen’s families. https://t.co/5NPTKHsd1Z

— Ned Price (@nedprice) October 17, 2017

that's a fucking lie. to say president obama (or past presidents) didn't call the family members of soldiers KIA – he's a deranged animal.

— Alyssa Mastromonaco (@AlyssaMastro44) October 16, 2017

Stop the damn lying – you’re the President. I went to Dover AFB with 44 and saw him comfort the families of both the fallen military & DEA. pic.twitter.com/HhE4KbTBkJ

— Eric Holder (@EricHolder) October 17, 2017

Here’s what Trump said yesterday about Obama and families of the fallen:

“If you look at President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn’t make calls,” Mr. Trump said during a news conference in the Rose Garden with the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell. “A lot of them didn’t make calls. I like to call when it’s appropriate.”…

After he answered the question about his response to the attack, Mr. Trump was pressed later in the news conference about his claim that Mr. Obama had never called bereaved families. This time, he seemed to soften his tone.

“I don’t know if he did,” the president said. “I was told he didn’t often, and a lot of presidents don’t. They write letters.”

“President Obama, I think, probably did sometimes and maybe sometimes he didn’t,” Mr. Trump continued. “That’s what I was told. All I can do is ask my generals.”

I think he got defensive when the press asked why he hadn’t called any families yet and resorted to arguing “well, I call more than the other guys did!” He may not have meant to insinuate that his predecessors had no personal contact with Gold Star families at all, though, just that they tended to prefer letters to phone calls as a point of first contact. Listen to the audio below of Trump telling Brian Kilmeade that he’d have to ask Kelly whether Obama ever called him and you’ll see that it sounds worse on the page than it does when you hear it. His tone isn’t accusatory, more of a “I don’t know what Obama did, exactly, but John might.”

Then again, what are the odds Trump would refer a reporter to Kelly on this unless he knew how Kelly would answer? Imagine the embarrassment if Trump suggested during a presser that Obama wasn’t known to call grieving families and his own chief of staff piped up to say, “He called me.”

Anyway. What does the White House get from fighting this battle, aside from John Kelly having the worst tragedy of his life kicked around as a political football and the media given ample cause to revisit the many times Obama met with Gold Star families, visited wounded troops at Walter Reed, and greeted the remains of the fallen upon their return to the U.S.?

The post Trump: Ask General Kelly if Obama called him when his son was killed in action appeared first on Hot Air.

Reese Witherspoon: ‘I’ve had multiple experiences of harassment and sexual assault’ starting at 16

Tue, 10/17/2017 - 17:01

The tales of sexual assault and harassment among Hollywood’s A-list continue to spread like a prairie fire. Monday night, two more top actresses came forward with their stories at an Elle magazine Women in Hollywood event in Beverly Hills. Actress Reese Witherspoon told the audience that she had been harassed and assaulted multiple times during her career starting when she was just 16-years-old.

“I have my own experiences that have come back to me very vividly and I find it really hard to sleep, hard to think, hard to communicate,” Witherspoon told the audience. She continued, “A lot of the feelings that I’ve been having about anxiety, about being honest. The guilt for not speaking up earlier or taking action.

“True disgust at the director who assaulted me when I was 16-years-old and anger that I felt at the agents and the producers who made me feel that silence was a condition of my employment.”

Entertainment Weekly reports Witherspoon went on to say this was not her only experience like this during her long career:

“And I wish that I could tell you that was an isolated incident in my career, but sadly it wasn’t. I’ve had multiple experiences of harassment and sexual assault and I don’t speak about them very often.”

“But after hearing all the stories these past few days and hearing these brave women speak up tonight about things that we’re kind of told to sweep under the rug and not to talk about, it’s made me want to speak up and speak up loudly because I actually felt less alone this week than I have ever felt in my entire career.”

The obvious question here is ‘Who was the director?’ but it seems Witherspoon didn’t say. If you look at her IMDB page, there are only a few options, even allowing for her memory being off by a year or so, this was the beginning of her career. If we’ve learned anything over the past couple weeks it’s that a guy who did something like this once probably did it more than once. I expect we’ll be hearing more about this director, whoever he is, fairly soon.

During the same event last night, actress  Jennifer Lawrence described one of her first experiences in the movie business. “When I was much younger and starting out I was told by the producers of a film to lose 15 pounds in two weeks,” she said, adding, “Super easy.”

“One girl before me had already been fired for not losing enough weight fast enough and during this time a female producer had me do a nude lineup with about five women who were much, much thinner than me. We all stood side by side with only paste-ons covering our privates. After that degrading and humiliating lineup, the female producer told me I should use the naked photos of myself as inspiration for my diet.”

 

Here’s video of the two actresses telling their stories.

The post Reese Witherspoon: ‘I’ve had multiple experiences of harassment and sexual assault’ starting at 16 appeared first on Hot Air.

Justice Department jamming shut the revolving door for illegal aliens

Tue, 10/17/2017 - 16:31

One of the running complaints raised against opponents of border security is the proliferation of criminal illegal aliens who enter the United States repeatedly, are apprehended and then sent back to their home countries. That part of the formula would be fine were it not for the fact that so many of them keep crossing the border multiple times, only to be found committing additional crimes. In some of the worst cases, you wind up with a result along the lines of the murder of Kate Steinle. But less high profile situations clog the system on a regular basis.

This year that destructive pattern has finally begun to change, albeit slowly. With new laws on the books and a more aggressive Attorney General, prosecutions are on the rise and sentences are at least somewhat more appropriate for the perpetrators. One such case came through this week in Louisiana, where Juan Carlos Rigoberto-Martinez had been caught in the country illegally multiple times after committing multiple crimes. The citizen of Honduras encountered a different sort of reception this time and found himself in federal court where he was summarily sent up the river for more than a decade. (Justice.gov)

BATON ROUGE, LA – Acting United States Attorney Corey Amundson announced that yesterday U.S. District Judge John W. deGravelles sentenced JUAN CARLOS RIGOBERTO-MARTINEZ, age 33, of Honduras, to serve 130 months in federal prison for illegally reentering the United States after removal. The defendant’s extensive criminal history, including his status as an aggravated felon, contributed significantly to the lengthy sentence.

Yesterday’s sentence stems from the defendant’s federal conviction on April 12, 2017, for illegally reentering the United States after removal. Immigration authorities first removed the defendant from the United States on January 7, 2008, after he completed a state prison sentence in Georgia for burglary and theft.

Several months later, on June 5, 2008, the U.S. Border Patrol found and arrested the defendant in Texas for illegally reentering the United States after removal. The defendant plead guilty to the offense, resulting in a 77-month federal prison sentence from the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas. On December 27, 2013, immigration authorities again removed the defendant from the United States following the completion of his prison term.

This is an encouraging development which will hopefully send a strong message to the illegal alien community. Too often in the past we’ve seen illegals who have been deported as many as seven times being brought in on charges and we essentially focus on the new crimes they have committed. If those are sufficiently “minor” in nature they are frequently given yet another free ride back to their homeland and the cycle begins anew.

Not so with Rigoberto-Martinez. He had done a short stretch in prison in Georgia for burglary in 2008 when he was deported back to Honduras. In a matter of months he was back in the United States illegally once again. This time he was arrested for multiple robberies in Baton Rouge. He was already found guilty on those counts, but this time there was a difference. In a separate trial, he was found guilty exclusively of reentering the country illegally after having been deported as a criminal illegal alien. That was the charge he was sent up on rather than the robberies. (For which he will serve a shorter, concurrent sentence.)

Even if all Rigoberto-Martinez had been convicted of was petty theft of a pack of gum at a convenience store, he could have been locked away for a good, long stretch for illegal reentry. It’s obvious that our prison system doesn’t need to be further strained with a deluge of these criminals, but the less welcoming of a place we make America for criminal illegal aliens, the lower the incentive will be to jump the fence and come here. The sentencing of Rigoberto-Martinez goes at least some way towards driving that message home among the illegal alien community.

Now if we can just make the E-Verify system mandatory across the board to decrease the incentive for illegal aliens looking to take paying jobs rather than stick-up jobs we might really have something going. But don’t get your hopes up, since that would involve Congress actually doing their jobs.

The post Justice Department jamming shut the revolving door for illegal aliens appeared first on Hot Air.

Raqqa roll: US-backed forces declare capital of ISIS “caliphate” under their control

Tue, 10/17/2017 - 16:01

More than three years ago, the remnants of al-Qaeda in Iraq began seizing territory in western Iran and eastern Syria and restyled themselves as ISIS, a new “caliphate” of radical Islamist terror. Today, their last claim on any significant territory came to an end in their self-proclaimed capital. US-backed forces, primary the Syrian Kurd YPG, took complete control of Raqqa earlier today, although mop-up work will continue for some time:

U.S.-backed militias raised a flag inside Raqqa stadium on Tuesday, a Reuters witness said, as a four-month battle to take Islamic State’s Syrian capital came to an end.

The fighting was over but the alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias was clearing the stadium of mines and any remaining hiding militants, said Rojda Felat, commander of the Raqqa campaign for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

A war monitor, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said Islamic State was now completely cleared from the city.

The fall of Raqqa city, where Islamic State staged euphoric parades after its string of lightning victories in 2014, is a potent symbol of the jihadist movement’s collapsing fortunes. From the city, the group planned attacks abroad.

The command and control structures of ISIS have been destroyed in Raqqa, but not all of the fighters have been eliminated. One pocket of resistance remains, a stadium complex which the terrorists turned into a torture dungeon for political prisoners. Dozens of fighters may still be trapped there, although no one’s quite sure yet:

Earlier Tuesday, the Kurdish-led SDF forces captured the city hospital, the other last remaining IS holdout in Raqqa. The facility had doubled as a hospital and an IS command center.

Its capture left IS militants cornered in and around the notorious stadium, which they had turned into a huge prison where they incarcerated anyone who opposed their brutal rule. After Sillo’s statement, it was not immediately clear if the IS militants were still inside the stadium.

Also earlier, Musafa Bali, a spokesman for the SDF, said 22 IS militants were killed in the advance on the hospital.

“The stadium is a huge structure with underground rooms and tunnels. There are also buildings around it” still under the control of IS, he said and added that “there is nothing decisive today.”

Observers in the city claim that a significant number of fighters bugged out of Raqqa before the final collapse of IS, destinations unknown. CNN also reports that the airstrikes have stopped after months of bombardment:

There was only one US airstrike in Syria Monday, but that was far from Raqqa, where there haven’t been any for two days, a further indication that the battle for the city is almost over. Dillon said the SDF hadn’t asked for any more air support, meaning the coalition was confident that there were no more ISIS fighters left.

“Raqqa is being Slaughtered Silently,” the award-winning network of citizen journalists who remained in the city throughout the occupation, tweeted Monday that 30 buses and 10 trucks were used to transfer ISIS fighters from Raqqa.

The group did not say where the fighters were taken.

Just as has been the case in western Iraq, not all fighters fled or fought to the death. A number of them surrendered — once unthinkable for ISIS terrorists — and some have even taken up the forbidden practice of smoking:

Photos of #ISIS prisoners who were transferred to #Tabqa city in the western suburbs of #Raqqa city by #SDF today . pic.twitter.com/kzR1XTsN95

— الرقة تذبح بصمت (@Raqqa_SL) October 15, 2017

Those buses and trucks most likely made one-way trips and not repeated evacuations. Just getting out of a besieged city once would be tricky, let alone re-entering it and trying again. If that’s the case, then perhaps as many as 300-350 fighters got out of Raqqa. That’s not much of an army, but it’s still a significant terrorist network.

One has to wonder just how high morale will be, though, after the humiliation of losing the “caliphate” capital of Raqqa, their largest city in Mosul, and Dabiq, the city of prophecy for divine grant of a caliphate. The question of whether Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is an anointed prophet or just a homicidal lunatic has to be at least scratching the borders of their consciousness by now. The next order of business might be a leadership fight that could finish off most of the rest of the homicidal lunatics … or so we can hope.

CBS’ Holly Williams reports from the scene of Raqqa about what comes next. Watch the film to see just how much of the city is left to hold. “It is a terrible irony,” Williams says, “that in order to retake Raqqa from ISIS, they had to destroy it.” That’s precisely why we should have remained on the ground to ensure that al-Qaeda in Iraq stayed defeated six years ago.

Update: The original headline read “US forces,” but I meant to write “US-backed forces.” I’ve corrected it above.

The post Raqqa roll: US-backed forces declare capital of ISIS “caliphate” under their control appeared first on Hot Air.

McCain unloads on “half-baked, spurious nationalism”

Tue, 10/17/2017 - 15:21

Many a high-five was exchanged in the hallways of Salon Conservatives Club this morning over this passage from McCain’s Liberty Medal speech last night. And I’d bet many a high-five was exchanged in the Breitbart offices too. The nice thing about being a populist is that you win no matter how the establishment reacts to you. If McCain gave a speech extolling the virtues of nationalism, great! Steve Bannon could cite that as proof that his ideas are making inroads in Washington and bending powerful Republicans to his side. If McCain gave a speech taking a dump on nationalism, which is just what he did yesterday, great! The contempt of a crusty old RINO disliked by much of the base is a valuable recruiting tool, proof that nationalism is the way to go. My enemy’s disdain is a badge of honor and evidence that I’m on the right track.

Which, actually, is just how Rush reacted to the Salon conservatives piece.

I don’t want to scold Maverick when he’s having a “lion in winter” moment here, and he’s right about nationalism’s appetite for scapegoats. (Which is why it tends to turn into ethno-nationalism.) But let me gently suggest that we might not be having this nationalist moment in the first place if not for some of the excesses of the Republican establishment best exemplified by McCain himself. A party with a white working-class base that fears outsourcing isn’t ideally suited to support a gigantic amnesty of America’s illegal immigrant population, yet McCain took three hard stabs at that between 2006 and 2013 — twice hand in hand with Ted Kennedy, of all people. A blue-collar party that’s suspicious of experts and resentful of gigantic federal spending abroad instead of at home isn’t going to react well when a massive nation-building project in the Middle East led by the best and brightest goes sideways, yet the party’s had no more ardent interventionist over the past 15 years than McCain. Even his habit of playing to the media (“my base,” McCain jokingly calls them) is a bad fit for a party whose actual base feels that the national media not only works against their interests but views them with scorn. Trump’s ascendance is complicated but there’s a reason he paid no price politically on the right for his disgusting comments about McCain’s captivity in Vietnam in 2015. Maverick and other Senate dinosaurs have been alienated from grassroots Republicans for a long time.

Anyway, I wouldn’t count on his vote for tax reform. McCain, you may remember, voted against the Bush tax cuts in 2001 and 2003. He has no electoral or personal reason to vote for any new tax cuts to help out a president whom he loathes. And it sounds like Trump may make it even easier for him to vote no soon.

The post McCain unloads on “half-baked, spurious nationalism” appeared first on Hot Air.

Pages