Wednesday afternoon round-up and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesBack in 1986, Arnold Schwarzenegger starred in a truly dreadful movie called Raw Deal.  In it, he plays a whistle-blowing FBI agent who ends up as a small town sheriff — and a social pariah for having turned over fellow law enforcers.  His wife is not happy about this isolation.  In one of the early scenes, she’s baking a birthday cake for the Ah-nold and slugging whiskey.  When she and Ah-nold get into a fight, she ends the fight by hurling a chocolate-frosted cake at his head.  Her aim is bad and his reflexes are good, so the cake ends as a big, gloppy, brown smear on their white kitchen cabinet.  Ah-nold’s face remains absolutely wooden as he turns to her and, very calmly, intones  (or, really, monotones) “You should not drink and bake.”

That is one of my all time favorite movie lines and I thought of it today when I tried to walk, talk, and make complex plans, all at the same time.  I saw the concrete step, but somehow wasn’t able to silence the noise in my brain sufficiently to send that information to my feet.  When I should have gracefully stepped down, I ended up hurling myself into space and landing with a thud on all fours.  Ice does wonders, but my knee (thankfully not my post-surgical knee) is turning all sorts of pretty colors.  My wrists aren’t so happy either, but the mere fact that I am here, typing this, means that I suffered nothing more than a few bruises to my body and, a little, to my ego.

Since I can type, I will type, filling you in on some of the things that caught my eye today.

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A few Bergdahl links, just to warm up:

Ralph Peters on the administration’s singular blindness regarding military culture: “Both President Obama and Ms. Rice seem to think that the crime of desertion in wartime is kind of like skipping class.”

David Burge is a national treasure, as he shows with his disdain for the State Department’s latest spokesman.

Jason Kissner wonders if it was really a “coincidence” and “mistake” that the Obama administration released the name of the CIA’s station chief in Kabul just a few days before freeing the Gitmo 5.

Everybody’s noticing that Bowe looked pretty good for a man whose health was so fragile that the President had to violate U.S. law and release dangerous enemies in order to rescue him. And when I say everybody, I mean everybody. When I first saw the video at White House Dossier, I thought the talking head was a FOX analyst, not an NBC guy.

Yes, the White House is indeed accusing, not just conservatives, but the entire military complex of “swift boating” Bowe. “Swift boating” is an interesting term, because it has two different definitions. When conservatives use it, it means to reveal the truth so as to expose a military traitor who’s trying to run for office as a war hero. When DemProgs use it, though, it means revealing that same truth in a way that prevents a military traitor from running for office as a war hero. Funny how definitions vary. At Ace, DrewM looks at these differing definitions and reaches a solid conclusion about the Left and the military: “Lefties love them some anti-American soldiers who walk away from their squad-mates but are less than enamored with those who kept the faith. Interesting.”

Andrew McCarthy makes an incredibly important point about Obama’s likening himself to other wartime presidents who returned enemy troops so as to rescue Americans who, rightly, should never be left behind: While Obama is trying for a unilateral surrender by releasing extremely dangerous prisoners, the Taliban are still actively at war with us.  This means that Obama is guilty of “replenishing enemy forces at a time when the enemy is still conducting offensive terrorist operations against our armed forces.” Sounds like treason to me.

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And on the other battle front in Obama’s war with the military — that would be the Veterans Administration scandal — money wasn’t the issue. Obama’s administration found money to pay its VA employees even as it cut programs for vets (which is separate from, and in addition to, just letting the vets die from neglect).

Let me just add here, on the 72nd anniversary of the Battle of Midway and the 70th anniversary of D-Day, that we owe our veterans endless gratitude for their service to protect our freedoms. In war after war after war, America’s military men and women have, both willingly and unwillingly, thrown themselves in the path of bullets and bombs so that we can enjoy the safest, highest standard of living in the history of the world.  (I don’t mean to disregard vets from Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan.  It just that we’re at serious WWII anniversary time in June.)

And if you want to see just the journey from war to peace plays out, you absolutely must check out these photos from France showing the same sites right after D-Day and at the present day.  And to remind you about the war itself, look at these photos from the battles in the Pacific.

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I highly recommend Quartered Safe Out Here: A Harrowing Tale of World War II, a military autobiography George MacDonald Fraser, of Flashman fame, wrote in the 1980s about his service in Burma.

Aside from the delightful writing, MacDonald has an axe to grind, and that axe is his deep opposition to modern anti-war “intellectuals” who seek to denigrate Fraser’s generation as mindless drones marching madly to military and political propaganda:

There is, for some reason which I don’t understand, a bitter desire in some to undermine what they call the “myths” of the Second World War. Most of the myths are true, but they don’t want to believe that. It may be a natural reaction to having the war rammed down their throats by my generation; it may have its roots in subconscious envy; it may even spring from a reluctance to recognise that today’s safety and comfort were bought fifty years ago by means which today’s intelligentsia find unacceptable, and from which they wish to distance themselves. I cannot say – but I do know that the review I have quoted is typical in presenting a view which is false. It is also dangerous because it may be taken as true by the uninformed or thoughtless, since it fits fashionable prejudice. And that is how history is distorted. You cannot, you must not, judge the past by the present; you must try to see it in its own terms and values, if you are to have any inkling of it. You may not like what you see, but do not on that account fall into the error of trying to adjust it to suit your own vision of what it ought to have been. (Kindle Locations 181-189, Skyhorse Publishing.)

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I honestly think that Kevin Williamson wrote about transsexuals simply so that he could have fun rebutting both the homofascists (as opposed to regular people who happen to be homosexual) and those craven enough to collapse in whimpering heaps when the homofascists come after them.

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Victor Davis Hanson has a devastating article analyzing what happens when a single party — and a spendthrift, greedy, non-reality-based party at that — controls a political body. The story of California’s decline from thriving Golden State to decrepit basket case is a sad one.

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A Slate article, after citing yet again the repeatedly discredited claim that women earn 77 cents for every dollar men earn, looks to a poll of Harvard graduates to conclude that this grotesque disparity cannot simply be attributed to women’s differing career choices because of children. No! The horror starts the moment they graduate.

And how does the Slate author know this? Because of an unscientific, self-reporting “poll” in which less than half of Harvard’s graduating class reported on their post-graduation plans and their expected salaries.

These self-reporters revealed that, even at 21 and 22, women were much more likely than men to go into lower paying, fields, such as public service or not-for-profit. The Salon writer is certain that these new gal grads couldn’t possibly be thinking ahead to one day having children when they made those choices. That’s quite an assumption, and one with which I don’t instinctively agree. But let’s move on.

The writer has the good sense to figure out that you can’t compare apples and oranges (e.g., finance jobs to not-for-profit jobs), and therefore notes that, across the board, women earn less than men:

The survey says “a plurality” of women in technology and engineering said they will be making between $50,000 and $69,999. The guys in the same field? A plurality said they would be making between $90,000 and $109,999. At the low end, that’s an 80 percent difference. But 80 percent is ridiculous. At the high end it’s 57 percent. That’s insane, too.

The problem with this outrage is that the writer doesn’t realize that she doesn’t have enough data to reach a conclusion. As I noted, the poll is statistically invalid from the get-go because, not only did less than half the class report back, but it was self-selective reporting, giving it as much value as one of those daily newspaper polls where you click “yes” or “no” depending on whether you agree with the day’s question.

We also have no way of determining whether the guys are guilty of puffery, boasting, or out-and-out lying, or whether the gals are guilty of the same. Finally, and this is the important one, we don’t know if the gals got lower paying jobs because they couldn’t get higher paying ones, or if they got lower paying jobs because, contrary to the writer’s assumption, they were looking for something different. They may have wanted a small town (usually lower salaries), not a big city (usually higher salaries); they may have wanted a small office, not a factory; and (gasp!) they may have wanted an office that offers flexible work time for those future children.

In other words, the writer is making the fatal mistake of theorizing in advance of her data. Tsk.

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This rush to theory in advance of data is also a problem in the context of the DemProg’s latest crusade, “income inequality.”  There, Piketty’s conclusions about increased “income inequality” to the contrary, the raw salary numbers fail to tell the whole story. Gary Burtless has conducted an actual study of income and, as Robert J. Samuelson summarizes at the WaPo, Burtless has noted that there are non-monetary benefits attached to today’s jobs that must be quantified before one can compare “income inequality” today to “income inequality” for past generations:

The trouble with “market income,” he notes, is that it ignores taxes, most fringe benefits (mainly employer-paid health insurance and pensions) and government transfers (Social Security, Medicare, food stamps and the like). All these affect inequality and living standards. So does the slowly shrinking size of U.S. households. Smaller households mean that a given amount of income is spread over fewer people. Per capita incomes rise. Two people with $75,000 are better off than four people with $75,000.

Correcting for these shortcomings alters much of the conventional wisdom, says Burtless.

Exactly. Lies, damn lies, and statistics (plus omitted data).

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Read it and weep.  Bryan Preston calls it “The Saddest, Scariest Millennial Statistic You’ll See Today.” (And no, it’s not the fact that, with a few exceptions such as those high-paid Harvard grads, too many young people in Obama’s economy will leave college and return to their childhood bedrooms.)

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Cronyism is expensive and discriminatory, insofar as it uses taxpayer money to enable the government to play favorites with some businesses and not others.

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Jonathan Turley is a liberal who loves the Constitution more than he loves the Democrat Party (bless his heart).  He is speaking out with escalating urgency about Obama’s increasingly autocratic rule. Obama, he says, is “the president Richard Nixon always wanted to be.”

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Daniel Greenfield calls it “Muslimsplaining.” This is the way in which the polite face of Islam, the Left, and the Dhimmis come together every time a Muslim shoots, stabs, or blows up someone to explain that all good things are Muslim and all bad things (including killings in Allah’s name) are not. Orwell had another name for it: Newspeak. He explained Newspeak as follows:

The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of IngSoc, but to make all other modes of thought impossible. Its vocabulary was so constructed as to give exact and often very subtle expression to every meaning that a Party member could properly wish to express, while excluding all other meaning and also the possibility of arriving at them by indirect methods. This was done partly by the invention of new words, but chiefly by eliminating undesirable words and stripping such words as remained of unorthodox meanings, and so far as possible of all secondary meaning whatever.

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Next time someone you know starts getting all paranoid about CO2, you might want to refer him (or her) to Paul Jacobson’s easy-to-read primer to learn that (a) CO2 is not a greenhouse gas and (b) that, not only is it an insignificant presence in our atmosphere, its dramatic increase in the last century isn’t so dramatic at all.

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Thomas Lifson explains how Obama lost his mojo. We’ve all seen this happen in real time, but I like Thomas’s writing so much that it’s a pleasure to read his summary about Obama’s fall from Messiah status.

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Dennis Prager’s short video doesn’t just offer what every graduate should know, it offers what every sensible, high-functioning human being should know:

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Comments

  1. jj says

    It’s amazing to me how routinely these people feel free to insult the military.  I’m really very sick – beyond sick – of these worthless clots I seem to be paying to work at State and elsewhere in the DC excrement miasma.  This dingbat is merely the latest in an apparently endless line of those who apparently doubt the word of the men on the spot, and is going to ‘wait to see what happened.’
     
    Sweetie, we know what happened.  We have the direct testimony of a dozen guys who were there, on the ground, at the time.  In the news-biz we refer to those guys as ‘primary sources.’  They didn’t read about it, they didn’t hear about it, it wasn’t a rumor to them, and their uncle Charlie didn’t email them: they were there.  On the ground.  At the time.  They saw it with their own eyes.  They lived through it humping their own asses out looking for this jerk.  You’re going to ‘wait to find out?’  From whom, pray tell, would you find out, if not from these guys?  What other, better, source might there be?  (Forget ‘better,’ what other source is there, period?)
     
    It’s just astonishing.  The arrogance, ignorance, and generalized BS these people put out is just astonishing.
     

  2. says

    Quartered Safe Out Here is indeed excellent.  It is interesting to read this book–which shows the Burma campaign as seen from the level of the individual soldier–in conjunction with the memoirs of General Slim, which describe the same campaign from the top,  (GMF, btw, had a very high opinion of Slim.)
     
    I excerpted a passage from General Slim’s book here

  3. says

    Re the piece about incomes of women in “technology and engineering” versus “guys in the same field”…I wonder exactly how they are defining the “field.”   I know several people with engineering degrees who are now running sales organizations…do they count?  How about venture capitalists and startup entrepreneurs?  What about GE CEO Jeff Immelt, who has an electrical engineering degree? 
     
    I wish journalists quoting numbers would make some attempt to get behind the numbers and really understand/describe what they mean…they rarely do, though.

  4. Gringo says

    This rush to theory in advance of data is also a problem in the context of the DemProg’s latest crusade, “income inequality.” 
     
    What chaps my lips about the “income inequality” crusade is that a lot of Ivy League types are against “income inequality.” Shouldn’t the Ivy League universities give their billions of endowment money to Podunk Community Colleges? We are all for reducing inequality, are we not?
    In the interest of reducing inequality, shouldn’t  the 1400 Math +Verbal SAT combined  Ivy League types  give up their Ivy League slots to someone with 800 Math +Verbal SAT combined attending Podunk Community College? After all, they want to reduce inequality. Just not when THEY have to pay.
     

  5. jj says

    If you like George Macdonald Fraser’s military memoirs, he continues them in a series of short stories that cover the immediate post-war years, when he was a still-very-young subaltern in (as we find out at the end of third book) the 2nd Battalion of the Gordon Highlanders.  He couches the stories as fiction, but as we find out (again, at the end of the third book) they’re ‘80% stark truth,’ particularly the most unbelievable bits.  The books are ‘The General Danced At Dawn,’ ‘MacAuslan In the Rough,’ and The Sheik and the Dust-Bin.’  The British Army garrisoning the Middle East, immediately post-war.  Lovely, funny, excellent books.

  6. says

    Just on the off chance that there’s anyone who doesn’t already know this….George Macdonald Fraser also wrote a wonderful series of picaresque novels, the Flashman series, featuring the notorious bully from Tom Brown’s Schooldays.

  7. Ron19 says

    This is the way in which the polite face of Islam, the Left, and the Dhimmis come together every time a Muslim shoots, stabs, or blows up someone to explain that all good things are Muslim and all bad things (including killings in Allah’s name) are not.
     
    And yet, any time a any real or phony or simply denounced as Christian does something that somebody else doesn’t like, then all Christians in all the tens of thousands of Christian sects are deemed to think, desire, talk, and act exactly the same, moving through society in mental lockstep.   Similarly for Jews.

      • says

        The Japanese also have a character, generally female, that is like a klutz, always falling down, face meeting the ground, sliding around.
         
        However, this is often presented as an opportunity or Chance for males to demonstrate their superior manliness and balance, by catching the girl before she crumbles into a heap. The girl might blush, begin admiring the boy, or start making jokes (flirting).
         
        So if you consider my language a “lovely turn of phrase” that is most likely due to my perspective no longer being American centered only. In America, you will have seen and witnessed many examples of klutzes or people who fall down and over. The context and social reaction will have been imprinted upon people. I am reacting to a different imprint, a different context.
         
        Also, if you have a hidden NRA card, it should be easy to get hidden Firefly DVDs to watch on your computer…

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