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Patriot Nation

The Meaning of ‘More Probable Than Not’

By 5.8.15

It’s “more probable than not” that the Indianapolis Colts could not have defeated the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game using a rugby ball, a beach ball, a debutante ball, or a Lucille Ball.

It’s “more probable than not” that the evidence presented by NFL investigator Ted Wells didn’t validate his conclusion of a “more probable than not” guilty verdict for Tom Brady in the Deflate-gate controversy. It’s “more probable than not” that readers of the headlines may feel, well, deflated after reading the Wells Report. It’s “more probable than not” that the NFL would immediately fire any referee announcing a call of “Holding, more probable than not—ten-yard penalty.”

It’s “more probable than not” that Wells’s scientific consultants concluding, as Bill Belichick did in January, that weather conditions decreased pressure by about a pound or more in footballs won’t lead to an apology to the coach by Bill Nye “the Science Guy” or his other ridiculers in the Fourth Estate. It’s “more probable than not” that had we known that every game ball lost air pressure during the first half that this story’s shelf life would have lasted as long as a half of football.

Another Perspective

Making Sense of the IRS Scandal

By 5.8.15

Two years ago this month, former IRS official Lois Lerner revealed that the agency had discriminated against scores of right-leaning nonprofits on the basis of their political beliefs. The public called for accountability and got something vaguely resembling it in the form of resignations, investigations, and congressional debates. But despite the flurry of activity, the underlying issues that contributed to the IRS scandal remain unresolved, and the agency is still firmly embroiled in the messy business of policing political speech.

It’s enough to make one wonder: two years later, have things really changed? Or could it happen again?

The Public Policy

Left to Rot by Government Employees

By 5.8.15

It’s hard to live in America and ignore the stories of police brutality… some undoubtedly exaggerated, some tragically true. But here’s what’s undeniable: government employees enjoy immunity from gross and tragic incompetence in ways never would be allowed in the private sector.

Meet UC San Diego student Daniel Chong. Three years ago he was at a friend’s house smoking pot on April 20, known as “Weed Day” — a day pot smokers set aside to indulge in their favorite pastime. (In the 1970s, “420” was the California police code for “marijuana smoking in progress.” 420 became slang for smoking pot and 4/20 became their “holiday.”) When the police arrived, they took the college student to the Drug Enforcement Administration office where he was questioned. After a conversation, they told him he could go home, but first he was put into a temporary holding cell.

And left.

A Bigger Perspective

Feminisms — in the Plural

By 5.8.15

The word “feminism,” just like almost every other word in the English language, has more than one meaning. So when somebody tells you that she (or he) is a feminist, you are being given almost no information unless you are also told what kind of feminist. In the USA today, there are at least five kinds. (Each of the later kinds on my list, I should note, includes the earlier kinds.)

Equal-opportunity feminism. This kind holds that women (and girls) should have equal opportunities with men (and boys) in all areas of work, play, education, etc. Almost all Americans are now feminists in this sense of the word (“We are all feminists now”) — although some who generally believe in equal opportunity make exceptions when it comes to women in the infantry or to female priests, ministers, and rabbis.

The Hillary Watch

The Clintons’ Pornographer

By 5.8.15

“When Larry Flynt is feeling righteous, he describes himself as a crusader: for civil liberties in general and free speech in particular.” So begins a profile of porn king Larry Flynt in Bloomberg. “But now Bloomberg Politics can exclusively report that the impresario behind the Hustler empire is adding a new element to his persona: Flynt is officially ready for Hillary.”

Bloomberg was present for the “bestowal of Flynt’s blessing on Clinton,” granted from the pornographer’s sprawling abode high above L.A.’s Wilshire Boulevard, which had the “look of an unholy, Hollywood Babylon hybrid of Tara and the Uffizi.”

It took little prompting to get Flynt’s enthusiastic endorsement of the feminist icon: “I’m endorsing Hillary Clinton for president!” declared the man who has made gazillions photographing nude women in every imaginable pose.

Flick Story

The Latest in Blockbuster Messaging

By 5.8.15

Comics have always had messages in them. Some were simple, healthy, nonpartisan and noncontroversial, like “Crime does not pay.” But ever since I was a boy and I picked up my copy of Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spiderman Issue #71, “With this Gun...” I’ve made it a point to observe what messages, if any, are on display in any given kids’ story. “With this Gun...” doomed my comics collection. When I showed the issue to my dad, never a comics fan to begin with, and pointed out that I thought the comic was biased against Second Amendment supporters, he agreed. Strongly. And that meant our NRA-supporting household wasn’t going to be subscribing to that nonsense anymore.

A Further Perspective

Fiorina, the GOP’s Startup Candidate

By 5.7.15

On Monday, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina announced her entry into the 2016 GOP presidential primary. Fiorina skipped the standard ballroom announcement and went straight to people’s computer screens to announce her decision, and then she followed up with interviews on TV news and comedy shows. It was a smart move, as she is a quick wit. When comedian Seth Meyers ribbed the Silicon Valley veteran for not buying, Fiorina one-upped him by announcing she had just bought And: “Actually, it was really cheap, Seth.”

Freedom Watch

In Defense of Pamela Geller

By 5.7.15

The backlash has been considerable.

Pam Geller, whose American Freedom Defense Initiative organized the Muhammad Art Exhibit and Cartoon Contest that sparked an armed assault by two self-appointed jihadis in Garland, Texas, has come under a withering assault for her actions. From Donald Trump to a crew at Fox that includes Bill O’Reilly, Laura Ingraham, Greta Van Susteren, Martha McCallum, Alan Colmes, ex-Bush aide and Fox contributor Brad Blakeman as well as liberal radio host Richard Fowler and doubtless more, Geller has been subjected to a firestorm of criticism.

I respectfully dissent.

According to Newsmax, Ms. Geller has now received an ISIS death threat. Or, as they say in the world of Islam, a “fatwa”: 

Freedom Watch

Shoring Up the ‘Online Titanic’

By 5.7.15

Who gets to read your mail? Under what conditions?

In the pre-Internet days, these questions were answered easily.

Defined, legally.

Private correspondence was just that — private, between the letter writer and the intended recipient. Absent a court order — based on probable cause — no else was legally entitled to have a look.

And it was much harder for anyone not legally entitled to have a look because correspondence was physical — a letter written on paper or a similar document you actually held in your hands — and so, harder for people who had no business looking at it to even get their hands on it. Someone would have to filch your desk drawer, for example — which pretty much meant physically entering your home.


Former UN Chief: Americans Should Eat Insects to Fight Global Warming

By 5.7.15

Marie Antoinette may or may not have said “Let them eat cake” at the outset of the French Revolution 200-plus years ago, but former United Nations General Secretary Kofi Annan just made Marie Antoinette’s alleged dictate seem downright magnanimous. Pointing his finger at America and other Western democracies, Annan this week said Americans should begin eating insects to do our part to address the fictitious global warming crisis.

Complaining about a “rapidly growing middle class,” Annan told the Guardian that more people being able to afford beef and chicken is causing “a major threat to the climate” because raising livestock produces global warming emissions. “There are alternative sources of protein,” said Annan. “Insects have a very good conversion rate from feed to meat.”

Annan criticized people in Western democracies for not embracing insect food sources linked to poverty in developing nations.