Making Acosta a Federal Case

Question: What does CNN’s Jim Acosta crave more than anything? If you said “attention,” go to the head of the class. It’s a mystery why the White House has given Acosta way more than that. By yanking his “hard pass” after last week’s press conference (don’t ask who was obnoxious; they all were), Acosta has literally become a federal case. CNN filed suit claiming that its reporter’s First and Fifth Amendment rights were violated. More than a dozen news organizations, including Fox, have filed amicus briefs supporting CNN, and even Trump-friendly Fox News judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano has opined that Acosta has a strong case. Mr. Showboat is just where he wants to be — the center of attention — but thanks to President Trump’s gratuitous swipe, he is also a free-press martyr.

The Gaza Violence: How Extremism Corrupts

As you know, everybody sees the Middle East through his or her own narrative. Conservatives see it through the “front line in the war on terror” narrative and defend Israel’s actions on the Gaza border fence this week. Progressives see it through the “continued colonialist oppression” narrative and condemn those actions.

.. sometime in the 1990s, a mental shift occurred. Extremism grew on the Israeli side, exemplified by the ultranationalist who murdered Rabin, but it exploded on the Palestinian side. Palestinian extremism took on many of the shapes recognizable in extremism everywhere.

.. First, the question shifted from “What to do?” to “Whom to blame?” The debates were less about how to take steps toward a livable future and more about who is responsible for the sins of the past.

.. Second, the dream of total victory became the only acceptable dream.

.. extremists stop trying to win partial victories, insisting that someday they will get everything they want — that someday the other side will magically disappear.

.. Third, extremists over time replace strategic thinking with theatrical thinking. Strategic thinking is about the relation of means to ends: How do we use what we have to get to where we want to go? Theatrical thinking is both more cynical and more messianic: How do we create a martyrdom performance that will show the world how oppressed we are?

.. If you read the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas’s April 30 speech or much of the commentary published over the past week, it’s clear that some powerful Palestinians now believe that the creation of the state of Israel is the wrong that needs to be addressed, not the expansion and occupation.

.. They rejected incrementalism. After Israel withdrew from its settlements in Gaza, the Palestinians could have declared a new opening, taking advantage of the influx of humanitarian aid. Instead, they elected Hamas, an organization that lists the extermination of the state of Israel as an existential goal. They expended resources that could have improved infrastructure to fund missiles and terrorist tunnels.

.. Yasir Arafat was once a terrorist, but at least he used terror to win practical concessions. The actions today — the knife attacks, the manipulation of protesters to rush the border fence — are of little military or strategic value. They are ventures in suicidal theater.

.. The shift from the politics of Rabin and Shimon Peres to that of Benjamin Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman is a move from pluralism to ethnocentrism, from relentless engagement to segregation. It’s a shift from tough realism to the magical thinking that Palestinians are somehow going to go away.

.. sometimes Israeli policies seem callously designed to guarantee an extremist response.

.. That’s the problem with extremism: It is a flight from reality. It makes you stupider. Instead of cleverly working to advance your own interest in a changing context, you end up shouting your own moral justifications into a whirlwind.

.. Extremism is naturally contagious. To fight it, whether at home or abroad, you have to answer the angry shout with the respectful offer. It feels unnatural. But it’s the only way.

One year later: MJ Sharp’s parents reflect

It became evident that a Congolese government translator deliberately misled MJ and Catalán because he did not translate for them part of a message saying their safety could not be guaranteed. An investigation by a U.N.-appointed international team working with the Congolese government is ongoing. The Congolese government has said militia members killed MJ and Catalán.

.. He knew when and how to ask questions and when and how to listen.

.. After building a trust relationship, the peacebuilders offered alternative ways to meet the rebels’ objectives nonviolently. In this way, the cycle of violence stopped. Talk about a revolutionary way to work.”

.. Reporters from the New York Times and NPR describe MJ sitting under a banana tree with a warlord, listening to his story, offering alternative ways of meeting his goals. Over the course of several years, MJ and his team persuaded some 1,600 rebels to lay down their weapons, which impacted some 23,000 family members. Some of those militia groups sent condolences to MJ and Catalán’s families after their deaths.

.. “Maybe we could apply [MJ’s strategy] to white supremacist groups, who also have a story to tell and are working for a goal, which is probably unachievable, but to give the respect of listening, could be a first step in resolving that conflict,” John said. “Could we do the same in the church? Instead of arguing our position, could we spend more time listening to those with whom we disagree, and so offer our respect?

.. he was shot with a shotgun.

.. According to the FBI agent who watched the film, in their final moments, MJ did not show fear, Michele said. “To the end he continued to relate on a human, relational level to his captors. I believe that even though he knew the danger he was in, he was able to stay centered and not let his fear overcome him.”

MJ was 10 days away from returning to the United States.

.. “Over the past year, the wave of violence in Kasai has claimed more than 3,000 lives and displaced an estimated 1.4 million people, with rights groups citing evidence of extrajudicial killings, rapes, torture and the use of child soldiers.”

 

When Judge Roy Moore Comes to Washington

Moore’s primary win is a fire bell in the night for GOP senators in 2018. And should he defeat his Democratic opponent, the judge will be coming to Capitol Hill, gunning for Mitch McConnell.

.. If a law contradicts God’s law, it is invalid, nonbinding. In some cases, civil disobedience, deliberate violation of such a law, may be the moral duty of a Christian.

Moore believes God’s Law is even above the Constitution, at least as interpreted by recent Supreme Courts.

.. Homosexuality, an abomination in the Old Testament, Moore sees as “an inherent evil.” When the high court, in Obergefell v. Hodges, discovered a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, Moore, back on the Alabama court, defied the decision, was suspended again, and resigned.

.. In his “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” Dr. King wrote: “(T)here are two types of laws: there are just laws, and there are unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that ‘An unjust law is no law at all.’…

.. In his Declaration, Jefferson wrote that all men are endowed by their “Creator” with inalienable rights, and among these is the right to life.

Many Christians believe that what the Supreme Court did in Roe v. Wade — declare an unborn child’s right to life contingent upon whether its mother wishes to end it — violates God’s law, “Thou shalt not kill.

.. Thomas More is considered by Catholics to be a saint and moral hero for defying Henry VIII’s demand, among others, that he endorse a lie, that the king’s marriage to Anne Boleyn was not adultery.

Early Christians accepted martyrdom rather than obey laws of the Caesars and burn incense to the gods of Rome.

After Hitler took power in 1933, he authorized the eradication of “useless eaters” in the Third Reich. Those who condemned these laws as violations of God’s law, and even attempted to assassinate Hitler in 1944, are today regarded as moral heroes.

.. Christianity and the moral truths it has taught for 2,000 years have been deposed from the pre-eminent position they held until after World War II, and are now rejected as a source of law. They have been replaced by the tenets of a secular humanism that is the prevailing orthodoxy of our new cultural, social and intellectual elites.

 

Firing Damore makes a martyr of him. To figures of the far-right “alt-right” movement (a rebranding of neo-Nazis, in my humble opinion) he became an instant hero, another sacrificial white male victim of liberal, pro-diversity “Social Justice Warriors,” the alt-right label for those of us who think our society benefits from its diversity.

For example, Damore’s memo omits evidence that bias, conscious and unconscious, still holds women back in the tech fields. A study by university computer students last year, for example, looked at 3 million “pull requests” for computer code at GitHub, an open-source repository of codes with which users can build software. The study found that “code written by women was requested at a higher rate (78.6 percent) than code written by men (74.6%),” according to The Guardian, as long as the gender of the woman was not revealed. When the code author’s gender was revealed, the acceptance rate dropped to about the same as men.

.. Firing Damore makes a martyr of him. To figures of the far-right “alt-right” movement (a rebranding of neo-Nazis, in my humble opinion) he became an instant hero, another sacrificial white male victim of liberal, pro-diversity “Social Justice Warriors,” the alt-right label for those of us who think our society benefits from its diversity.