Lands’ End Does Right Thing

A reader forwards me this e-mail that came to her after she wrote to Lands End over the Gloria Steinem flap:

Dear [Name]

Thank you for your email and sharing your honest feedback with us.

We apologize for any offense and concern caused with our recent featured interview with Gloria Steinem. It was never our intention to raise a divisive political or religious issue.

We greatly respect and appreciate the passion people have for our brand. Lands’ End is committed to providing our loyal customers and their families with stylish, affordable, well-made clothing.

We sincerely apologize for any offense.

Kelly Ritchie
SVP, Employee & Customer Services
Lands’ End

As far as I’m concerned, that should be the end of it. The company screwed up, it apologized, and we customers should forgive. I suspect Lands’ End has learned its lesson. Good on the customers for complaining, and good on Lands’ End for responding as it did.

Interesting to consider, though, how this would have played out if the company had featured not a pro-abortion feminist, but an LGBT activist, and received complaints because of it.

…read more

Via:: American Conservative


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Talking to Terrorists Online


It is widely understood that a number of federal government agencies monitor and even seek to infiltrate jihadist websites. But a program initiated in 2009 to debate the visitors to extremist Islamic sites has yet to find a comfortable organizational niche. The so-called “counterpropaganda” effort against the terrorist Internet is run out of the White House by the deputy national security advisor for strategic communications and the National Security Council’s senior director for global engagement. The actual outreach to individuals visiting the websites has been overseen by the office of the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, tasked with “engaging, informing and influencing foreign publics.”

Given the layers of bureaucracy, it is surprising that anything was accomplished, but State Department linguists were finally up and running in 2012 in what was labeled a “Viral Peace” initiative, which trolled radical sites anonymously to argue with militants and sometimes confuse them. This was followed in 2013 by a program that included State Department staffers who identified themselves online as U.S. government employees. They attempted to enter into discussions refuting extremist views, but they found they were treated with little respect by would-be jihadis.

The program has now morphed into something called “Peer to Peer: Challenging Extremism,” which is run by the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, as a joint project with the Department of Homeland Security and Facebook. In conjunction with universities around the world, the project seeks to “empower students to design and pilot new digital products and tools that counter violent extremist narratives and reach those susceptible to violent extremism messaging.” It produces anti-terrorism campaigns using what is referred to as “counter-speech” to debate radical viewpoints. Organizers claim that there is little U.S.-government input into the content and reject charges that it is “a different type of propaganda.” They prefer to describe it as “authentic.”

Facebook is providing much of the seed money and operational costs, as well as training the students in online message optimization. In its current run, 45 universities competed over a period of 15 weeks. Its six finalists represented schools in Pakistan, Switzerland, Kuwait, and Finland, plus two American colleges, the University of Arkansas and West Point—which shows that the effort is not just limited to overseas. In fact, the program’s director, Homeland Security’s George Selim, has said, “the issue I’m concerned with most is the recruitment and radicalization of young people, specifically in the United States.” The first time the program ran, in early 2015, the winner was Missouri State University.

The assumption is that students will instinctively understand how best to argue points on social media, which may or may not be true. But unfortunately, these gentler efforts to reach out to those being radicalized might soon be preempted by an antsy Congress, which is seeking to compel the companies that run the social networking sites to report “terrorist activity,” and by political candidates like Hillary Clinton, who are calling for aggressive steps to “deprive jihadists of virtual territory.”

Philip Giraldi, a former CIA …read more

Via:: American Conservative


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Bible removed from POW/MIA display inside VA clinic

A Bible and Bible verse were removed from a POW/MIA display inside an Ohio Veteran’s Administration clinic after the notorious Military Religious Freedom Foundation complained. …read more

Via:: Fox Opines


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Iranian Elections and the Nuclear Deal

Supporters of the nuclear deal with Iran hoped (but did not guarantee) that the successful completion of the deal would strengthen the relative moderates in the Iranian government and undermine the hard-liners. Fortunately, it appears that this is what has happened in the first Iranian elections since the deal was finished:

Iranian reformists and relative moderates who support last year’s nuclear deal won the most seats in parliament and a clerical body charged with selecting the next supreme leader in a major setback for hard-liners who opposed the agreement, official election results showed Monday.

As we all know, Iranian elections are very regulated, limited, and controlled by the regime, and that means that thousands of otherwise eligible candidates are barred from competing. The Iranian system is far from being free or democratic in any sense that we would understand those terms, and it’s important to keep that in mind when interpreting the results. Nonetheless, it is encouraging that despite all of this the elections have resulted in a clear defeat for the hard-liners. Indeed, their numbers in the Majlis were almost halved:

Hard-liners won just 68 seats, down from 112 in the current parliament.

That’s a very good result for Rouhani, and it seems to vindicate the hope that supporters of nuclear diplomacy had that successful negotiation with Iran would strengthen his position inside Iran. While the nuclear deal should be judged primarily on its success in restricting Iran’s nuclear program, there was always a chance that resolving the nuclear issue and providing sanction relief could have other desirable effects on Iranian politics. There was no guarantee that this would happen after the nuclear deal was concluded, but it seems reasonable to assume that the deal made this outcome more likely.

…read more

Via:: American Conservative


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The Ongoing Woes of the “Establishment”

Philip Diehl explains that Rubio doesn’t seem likely to win many races and has run out of time to stop Trump anyway:

The landscape is unrelentingly bleak for Rubio. He is even at risk of being knocked out of the race by Kasich. If Kasich beats or stays close to him in the establishment-friendly states voting before March 15, Kasich could gain momentum and overtake Trump in Ohio. If Rubio is unable to close Trump’s 18-point lead in Florida, Kasich might emerge as Trump’s only marginally viable rival after March 15.

That would be a fitting end to a failed campaign, since Rubio’s “strategy” has depended excessively on having other candidates help him by dropping out or collapsing at the right time. As I thought he might, Kasich has refused to play along, and as Diehl makes clear he has no reason to do so unless he can’t win Ohio. It would be amusing if the candidate that so many party leaders and donors wanted out of the race stays in for many weeks after their favorite is compelled to drop out because of an inability to win anywhere. It should also tell them that they backed the wrong candidate all along. It is also likely that later blue-state primaries are even less hospitable to Rubio’s reheated Bushism, so that his best chance of competing has always been in the contests being held tomorrow. Since he is on track to lose almost everywhere tomorrow, that confirms how limited Rubio’s appeal as a presidential candidate has been from the start.

Diehl has previously described the rules for delegate allocation that I talked about earlier this month, and those rules rigged the contest to benefit the front-runner after the early contests. Even if the “establishment” vote had been united behind one candidate weeks ago, it wouldn’t have changed the outcome in South Carolina or Nevada, and it wouldn’t make much of a difference in tomorrow’s elections. There simply isn’t that much of an “establishment”-friendly vote in this election, and that accounts for some of the struggles that all of the “establishment” candidates have had. Besides, none of the “establishment” candidates can count on all of the “establishment” vote going to them, not least since the voters aren’t choosing candidates based on the “lanes” that we assign to their candidates.

No matter who remains in the race after mid-March, both “establishment” candidates were already out of time to stop Trump weeks ago. It doesn’t matter which “establishment” candidate is left standing after March 15, because neither of them has enough support to keep Trump from being the nominee. At that point, the candidates that stay in the race will be positioning themselves to claim “runner-up” status for the next cycle. Rubio’s main effect on the race may end up being that he ensured that Kasich rather than Cruz will be the one in a position to make that claim.

…read more

Via:: American Conservative


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The Establishment’s Last Stand

I’ve got a really, really long column—more of an article, honestly—up at The Week about Super Tuesday and the rest of the race for the GOP nomination. I basically go through each of the non-Trump campaigns and ask: what would it take for them to stop Trump? And the answer is: very probably more than they’ve got.

Key points:

Rubio can’t afford to lose everything on Tuesday, because he’s weak in the Midwest. His best shot to win something is in Minnesota, followed by Georgia or Virginia, followed by the border states (Arkansas, Oklahoma and Tennessee). But it’s not looking good for him anywhere, and that’s partly because his message—I am the electable nice guy who is an orthodox conservative—is badly wrong for this election cycle and actually not a great one for the candidate.
Cruz can’t afford to lose everything either, because he’s even weaker further down the line, but he’s also more likely to actually win something, starting with Texas. If he outperforms, he could pick up border states like Oklahoma or Arkansas, as well as conservative caucus states like Wyoming or Alaska. His messaging problem: he knows how to sell himself as “Mr. Conservative,” but he doesn’t know how to sell that brand as a good thing.
Kasich actually can afford to lose just about everything tomorrow—because with momentum he could put up some wins in the Midwest and be a strong contender in a two-person race with Trump. But he has to come in at least a strong second in places like Massachusetts, Virginia and Minnesota, Rubio has to seriously underperform, and he needs Cruz take a bite out of Trump. None of which is likely to happen. His messaging problem has been providing voters with a cause for his candidacy beyond “I’m not a crazy person.”
There’s not going to be a brokered convention—or, if there is, there’s no way the nominee is going to be someone who ran and won less than a plurality of delegates. So if the non-Trump candidates continue to run simply to deny Trump a majority, they are no longer running for the nomination themselves.

It’s long, but that’s because it’s pretty comprehensive. So I do hope you’ll read the whole thing.

…read more

Via:: American Conservative


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Trump, Christie and the Revival of GOP Moderates

In a development which brought to an abrupt and screeching halt the momentum that Rubio supporters were touting (on Twitter at least) after Thursday night’s debate, Chris Christie has endorsed Donald Trump for president. No one who saw much of the two up in New Hampshire will be surprised.

Christie plainly never disliked Trump, whom he’s known for a decade. His attacks on him were those that an experienced governor would make naturally—“I tell everybody who goes to a Donald Trump event, if you get to ask a question, just ask him ‘how?’” Christie said. “I don’t care which of the things he talks about just ask him, ‘How? How?’” At town halls, he would refer to him as “Donald” and you could read a certain friendliness into the tone.

You don’t necessarily see it in soundbites, or even in the debates, but Christie is an enormously gifted politician. He knows how to talk, how to tell a story, has a strong grasp of policy, can connect with voters in a town hall more effectively than anyone I’ve seen. It wasn’t enough to overcome the legacy of Bridgegate, or the fact that the moderate-governor lane was crowded, or that the leadership of today’s GOP may be out of the grasp of any Northeastern moderate Republican not named Donald Trump. But he was noticed as a talent immediately after winning the governorship, and he was encouraged to run for president in 2012, and people of wildly different ideological perspectives (me, Jennifer Rubin) saw him as someone they could conceivably support for president. In one revealing Christie moment, he told New Hampshire voters that Rubio could have solved his “Gang of 8″ immigration problem by simply telling voters he had looked more closely at the problem and changed his mind. I thought of that when, twenty minutes later, Christie launched into an absurdly hawkish interpretation of Iran and the nuclear deal.

I would guess that Christie felt his chosen profession was somehow diminished by the likes of Rubio. A man who could banter off the cuff endlessly with reporters and citizens was clearly irritated by being surpassed by someone possessing none of those abilities. Well apart from what he stood for, there was something fake about Rubio—the scripted answers, the avoidance of press gaggles. Christie had begun to talk about it in public a week before the final New Hampshire debate, making repeated references to “the boy in the bubble. ” He lowered the boom on the night of February 6, three days before the New Hampshire vote, denying Rubio a showing which might well have—given the party establishment’s wariness of Trump—catapulted him into a South Carolina lead. Now he’s done Trump another solid, providing far and away the most significant endorsement in the campaign season, coming at a critical time. I’m not sure a Trump-Christie ticket would be balanced effectively in any meaningful sense, but Trump really owes Chris Christie.

The liberal media (reinforced by the voices of Republican establishment) has been so busy …read more

Via:: American Conservative


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