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Harrop: Playtime over for Democrats' radicals

It was certainly no slip of the tongue when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi cut a small group of her party’s radicals to size. “All these people have the public whatever and their Twitter world,” she told The New York Times. “But they didn’t have any following. They’re four people, and that’s how many votes they got.”

The issue at hand was the $4.6 billion border bill passed by Congress. The “squad”—Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley—considered it inadequate for protecting migrant children. Pelosi argued that it was the strongest bill they could get passed.

It was totally predictable that the four would go bananas over this questioning of their real power. Pelosi had stuck a pin in their balloon of self-importance, and with it, the myth of their immense following—outside Twitter, that is.

Speaking in their defense, Hillary Clinton’s former spokesman Brian Fallon said, “Those freshman members are breaking through, and they’re building a movement, and the more power that movement gains, the more persuasive they will be to Pelosi.” OK, Brian, when they have eight members, give us a ring.

But even if their number were to double to eight, the squad would still be a small fraction of the House’s 235-member Democratic caucus. Some 30 of the newly elected Democrats took seats in Republican-leaning districts, which is where the party’s “energy” really is. What’s the big deal about winning in totally safe Democratic districts?

Of course, every Democratic member has the right to dissent or challenge what he or she sees as party orthodoxy. But Pelosi seems to be drawing the line at posturing considered poisonous to the party’s prospects. That would include proposals seen as encouraging illegal immigration and nonstop appeals to ethnic and racial identity.

Still more aggravating are their threats to “primary” Democrats they do not deem to be sufficiently obedient. (For all their obsession with diversity, some of the squad’s targets are black and Latino representatives.)

If these women are so unhappy with the Democratic Party, why don’t they leave and run for reelection as democratic socialists? But they would never do that. For all their pitching of socialism—whatever they mean by that—they know that they can’t win on the democratic socialist line. (Note how Sen. Bernie Sanders routinely slips in and out of Democratic affiliation to ensure that when it’s time to vote, there’s a D after his name.)

Working against efforts to contain these egos is a branch of the liberal media that inflates the importance of their every mood swing. To these reporters, all the important stuff happens on Twitter, which makes their jobs extremely easy. And if the attention-seeking tweets inflame the folks at Fox News, so much the better. Meanwhile, the hard work of other Democrats goes unnoticed.

Bear in mind that almost all these Democrats qualify as progressives. The characterization of these conflicts as liberals versus conservative moderates is lazy and unsophisticated. Until recently, Republicans portrayed Pelosi as a wild-eyed liberal from San Francisco. Her views have not radically changed.

Democrats have an opportunity in 2020 to bring home independents, never-Trumpers and no-longer-Trumpers. In doing so, they may be forced to choose between these new potential Democratic voters and appeasing some on the radical left.

That may risk another leftist attempt at sabotage similar to the Ralph Nader debacle in 2000. Back then, the left was so dissatisfied with the Democratic candidate, that famous right-winger Al Gore, it sent enough votes to Nader to hand the election to George W. Bush.

Now is the time to tell the furious four to play fair or go pound sand. Stay strong, Speaker Pelosi. American civilization is at stake.

Your Views: Soul of nation at stake along the southern border

Scott Warren regularly left water, canned food, blankets and clothes along migration corridors in Arizona’s border with Mexico. His hope was to prevent more of the 8,000 deaths that have occurred in these borderlands since 1990. Warren was arrested in January 2018 by border patrol agents for providing aid to migrants. He was charged and faced trial on felony charges of harboring and conspiring to transport undocumented immigrants and faced a 20-year prison term for trying to save lives. His jury trial became hopelessly deadlocked and could not reach a verdict.

The U.S. government refused to drop the charges against Warren in spite of the United Nations, numerous faith leaders and humanitarian organizations calling on the government to stop its prosecution of Warren. Since Warren’s arrest, 88 additional bodies have been recovered from this Arizona desert region, Warren said.

The soul of a nation can be determined by how it responds to people in need. When our government decides to prosecute kindness and we the people say and do nothing, the soul of our once proud country is gone along with our care and compassion for one another. How does our country, always a beacon of human rights, become a nation in which kindness and caring for others is no longer the core of our being? How does this make America great again?



Guest Views: If our schools don’t trust YouTube, should you trust the social media site?

Ask any parent and they’ll tell you that kids love YouTube.

But is YouTube respectful or responsible in how it interacts with our children?

Recent revelations concerning the safety of the site for children have left parents and schools worried about the impacts of the social media giant. Many school districts block children from unfettered access to YouTube on school technology, a recognition that the site isn’t entirely safe. Parents, meanwhile, are often less equipped to handle some of the content that flows into their children’s feeds.

YouTube says the site is not intended for kids younger than 13. But, of course, many of the site’s core users are children. Several of the site’s most-viewed channels market directly to children. Once inside the site, children have access to an enormous library of content, often without parental controls.

YouTube also has come under fire in recent months for how it handles children’s content. YouTube’s autoplay feature selects and automatically plays content the site thinks viewers will enjoy, but this means children or parents can select an appropriate video but end up in a wormhole of unsupervised and inappropriate content. The site also has been criticized for tracking children’s data, creating issues of privacy.

The site has publicly sought to ameliorate these issues by creating a separate platform for children called YouTube Kids, eliminating autoplay suggestions on children’s content and halting the tracking of children’s data. But is this enough?

Some of these issues aren’t going away. The open nature of the site means that once you’re in, you’re in. Kids can access any videos that aren’t specifically flagged for audiences over 18, which typically requires nudity or graphic violence. Many of the remaining videos simply aren’t made for kids, such as sexual or explicit music videos. Sometimes adult content can be hard to distinguish from children’s content, such as explicit parodies of children’s shows.

For teenagers, the site presents other obstacles. YouTube’s wormhole-like algorithm has been criticized for its role in spreading misinformation and exposing people to increasingly radical ideas.

For example, if a teen watches a video about debunking conspiracies surrounding the moon landing, the viewer might get a recommendation for a video about flat-earth conspiracy theories. Clicking on that video can lead to other conspiracy theory video recommendations.

While this seems like an innocuous example, the point is that increasingly, our social media platforms pull users to the extremes. The breadth of content and the seemingly endless black hole of recommendations creates a dangerous reality for the impressionable.

In Texas, Dallas, Fort Worth and Plano school districts don’t allow students full access to YouTube on school technology. All three allow limited use of the site, primarily for educational videos only.

By limiting students’ access, school districts have shown they believe YouTube is something that should be used in moderation and with care. Perhaps they are onto something.

Web Views for Friday, July 11

From online story comments

On committee recommending Traxler Park for homeless overnight parking: With all the events at Traxler Park that start early in the morning and end late at night, this is a terrible choice. If it has to be a park, why not Bond Park? There are quite a few parking spots there.

—Rich Vermillion

  • Why don’t a few of the larger local churches open up their parking lots? Then have the city agree to have the police keep an eye on the properties. Isn’t that what we as Christians are supposed to do?

—Sue Marie

  • Instead of having the mobile but homeless park overnight in our parks here in Janesville, why not have them park in the HUGE old Pick ‘n Save lot? Now that Rock County Social Services are going to be offered there, doesn’t it make sense to put them closest to the services and people that can help them?

—Tim Roberts

  • If you have to pick one of the city parks for this project, then make sure cars parking in lots are registered to Janesville residents. Otherwise you will build it, and they will come. Many homeless would come from 100-mile radius easily.

— Ed Martinez

  • No matter where you let them park, someone will be bothered by it. A little less judging/labeling and a little more compassion toward people struggling would sure be nice in this world as a whole!

—Shelly Holmes

On Rock County Board considering advisory referendum on Medicaid expansion: Some folks may think that a referendum can’t hurt, such as a few of the county board members. But it won’t help either. Did the Citizens United decision get changed? Is marijuana legal? Did we vote in members of the county board to start referendums so they can grandstand rather than spend their time on real county business? No, no and no!

—William Schuldt

  • What good does a referendum do in this state when they are routinely ignored?

—Dan Johnson

On Rock County Board reinstating employee fired over missing toilet paper: I agree with board member Yuri Rashkin. Why, I mean, really WHY did this go so far and WHY did they spend over $12,000? That would’ve bought a few rolls of toilet paper. This is a joke!

—Dawn Powell Steindl

  • Why would you steal TP from a public place? Steal Charmin, not sandpaper.

—Amy Repaal Mumm

  • That should make for a wonderful work environment! Buddy system for using the restroom from now on? Ridiculous!

—Jason Marzahl

  • They’ll be watching her. I’d be too embarrassed to even want my job back.

—Jennifer Shaw

  • This is disappointing all around. It lacks compassion for the employee who was accused and protection for the employee reporting the concern. Instead of costing the taxpayers $12,000 over 11 rolls of toilet paper, why didn’t anyone ask if she needed help when it was noticed instead of entrapping her? That would have been a compassionate way to resolve this.

—AmyJo Verbeten

  • Couldn’t she have just been written up and brought in a package of Charmin for restitution? Lots of toilet paper could be supplied for almost $13,000. Stupid.

—Sheila DeLorimier Spohn