This is worth considering in light of last week’s story about the San Francisco independent book store forced to closed down after the voters (probably including the bookstore owners and their employees) decided to raise the City’s minimum wage.
When Greek voters elected a hard-Left politician who promised to reverse austerity, Paul Krugman celebrated wildly. In a column filled with economic cant, he explained that it was always a disaster for Greece to turn to austerity when its economy collapsed, instead of spending its way out of its financial woes:
To understand the political earthquake in Greece, it helps to look at Greece’s May 2010 “standby arrangement” with the International Monetary Fund, under which the so-called troika — the I.M.F., the European Central Bank and the European Commission — extended loans to the country in return for a combination of austerity and reform. It’s a remarkable document, in the worst way. The troika, while pretending to be hardheaded and realistic, was peddling an economic fantasy. And the Greek people have been paying the price for those elite delusions.
You see, the economic projections that accompanied the standby arrangement assumed that Greece could impose harsh austerity with little effect on growth and employment. Greece was already in recession when the deal was reached, but the projections assumed that this downturn would end soon — that there would be only a small contraction in 2011, and that by 2012 Greece would be recovering. Unemployment, the projections conceded, would rise substantially, from 9.4 percent in 2009 to almost 15 percent in 2012, but would then begin coming down fairly quickly.
What actually transpired was an economic and human nightmare. Far from ending in 2011, the Greek recession gathered momentum. Greece didn’t hit the bottom until 2014, and by that point it had experienced a full-fledged depression, with overall unemployment rising to 28 percent and youth unemployment rising to almost 60 percent. And the recovery now underway, such as it is, is barely visible, offering no prospect of returning to precrisis living standards for the foreseeable future.
Boiled down, Krugman said that the big bad banks closed the spigot on Greece’s socialized spending spree and Greeks suffered horribly. Krugman then went on to write several mind-numbing paragraphs about GDP and debt and the total failure of austerity. The remedy, said Krugman, is to return to a centralized economy with massive government spending:
The Canadian shooter: “Fox Butterfield, is that you?”
If you recognize the quoted phrase above, it’s because you’ve seen it often enough in James Taranto’s Best of the Web. The “Fox Butterfield Fallacy,” Taranto explains, “consists in misidentifying as a paradox what is in fact a simple cause-and-effect relationship.” Butterfield routinely committed such fallacies, with his most famous being one form or another of this “paradox”: “The number of inmates in state and federal prisons rose 2.1 percent last year, even as violent crime and property crime fell, according to a study by the Justice Department released yesterday.”
Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, the Canadian man who killed a 24-year-old member of the Canadian army, was a recent Muslim convert who came from a wealthy, politically connected family. Those two facts yielded this Fox Butterfield gem from the Daily Mail: “He had his passport seized after being designated a ‘high-risk traveler’ – despite his mother being on Canada’s immigration board.” (Emphasis mine.)
Why do I consider that sentence a Fox Butterfield fallacy? Because it shouldn’t have escaped anyone’s notice that the most violent Islamists so often come from politically well-connected — i.e., Leftist — families.
A few other things of interest from that same article about Zehaf-Bibeau: His father was in fact Libyan, which means Dad was probably Muslim, and abandoned the family in 1999 to go fight in Libya. One can only imagine the effect that had on young Michael. After all, look at how Barack Obama, despite losing contact with his father at only 3 months, has spent his entire life trying to recreate in America is father’s imagined Communist paradise.
It’s also telling that Zehaf-Bibeau was a criminal who rotated in and out of prison. Let me quote (again) what my cousin, a former Christian prison chaplain, had to say about convicts who convert to Islam:
It is not a contradiction to be a Muslim and a murderer, even a mass murderer. That is one reason why criminals “convert” to Islam in prison. They don’t convert at all; they similarly [sic] remain the angry judgmental vicious beings they always have been. They simply add “religious” diatribes to their personal invective. Islam does not inspire a crisis of conscience, just inspirations to outrage.
All of us here have also noticed that what stopped Zehaf-Bibeau was a gun. The only thing that ever stops a shooter is a gun, whether he turns his own gun on himself when his spree ends or whether someone else (a policeman or an armed citizen) shoots him.
And of couse, as Sadie already pointed out, Obama instantly hedged his bets by calling the shooting either terrorism or “senseless violence”:
President Obama also spoke about what he called the ‘tragic’ situation in Canada, saying ‘we have to remain vigilant when it comes to dealing with these kinds of acts of senseless violence or terrorism.’
In Obama’s America, if it’s not politically expedient to exploit a shooting or bombing incident — as is the case when there’s a Muslim perpetrator — the Obama lexicon invariably insists upon the “senseless violence” formulation.
I’m quite sure that, even as Canada immediately called the attack “terrorism,” the ongoing White House investigation will inevitably lead to a conclusion about a lone, deranged gunman who completely coincidentally had converted to Islam.
Barack Obama: Master political manipulator
During the Bush era, his opponents went back and forth between calling him a moron and a Machiavellian genius. It’s hard not to do the same with Obama. On the one hand, one sees the way in which he’s managed to muck up every aspect of running the American government; on the other hand, as Caroline Glick demonstrates, he’s been absolutely masterful at manipulating the political system when it comes to Iran and Israel.
A unifying theory could be that Obama is an anti-Semitic, pro-Islamic Fox-Piven acolyte. In other words, he acts with heightened skill vis-a-vis Israel and Iran, because that skill is necessary to destroy the one and elevate the other. Meanwhile, to the extent that his Fox-Piven goal is to bring American to her knees (or lower), the best tactic is to act with diminished skill, thereby allowing America to implode. In other words, he applies his political skills selectively to reward and punish various nations, including our own.
John Oliver does something good
I find John Oliver distasteful. He’s a self-described angry Leftist who now has his own bully pulpit on HBO. In addition to not appreciating Oliver’s politics, I also dislike his style, which consists of an endless stream of awkward similes, invariably laced with profanities, that make his properly-primed audience roar with sycophantic laughter.
Having said that, Oliver does occasionally get things right — as, for example, when he tackles the problem of Afghani and Iraqi military interpreters who put their own and their family’s lives at risk to help the American military, only to see the American State Department abandon them to face Islamic terrorism on their own (language warning):
This is an issue that military and conservative bloggers have been agitating about for years. It took way too long for it to cross over to the mainstream media, but I’m not going to complain when a Leftist media outlet finally picks up on and disseminates an important story.
While I’m not generally a fan of increased Muslim immigration into a country, since there’s no doubt that many Muslims resist assimilation and seek, instead, to expand the caliphate, these translators have proven many times over their willingness to support America. It’s unconscionable that, even as we allow millions of Latin Americans to swarm illegally into our country, these men are left to die at Islamist hands.
I don’t know how useful internet petitions are, but if you’d like to sign one on behalf of Mohammad Usafi, you can go here to do so.
Let’s call those “ISIS” fighters by a name they really deserve
There is movement afoot amongst Muslims to deny ISIS the right to call itself “ISIS” or “ISIL” or “IS” or “the Islamic State” or anything else that, merely by being used, seems to accept that rabble’s self-designation as the new caliphate:
Whether referred to as ISIS, ISIL, or IS, all three names reflect aspirations that the United States and its allies unequivocally reject. Political and religious leaders all over the world have noted this. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said, “This is a terrorist group and not a state. . . the term Islamic State blurs the lines between Islam, Muslims, and Islamists.” President Obama made similar remarks saying, “ISIL is not Islamic . . . and [is] certainly not a state.”
Muslims opposed to allowing ISIS its name of choice suggest, instead, “Daesh”:
The term “Daesh” is strategically a better choice because it is still accurate in that it spells out the acronym of the group’s full Arabic name, al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi al-Iraq wa al-Sham. Yet, at the same time, “Daesh” can also be understood as a play on words — and an insult. Depending on how it is conjugated in Arabic, it can mean anything from “to trample down and crush” to “a bigot who imposes his view on others.” Already, the group has reportedly threatened to cut out the tongues of anyone who uses the term.
I’m all for calling the group by a name that enrages them, but I’m thinking we’d do even better by calling them by a descriptive name. I suggested to a friend that we call them “HG” for “human garbage” but, after he questioned their humanity, we agreed that calling them “GARBAGE” would suffice.
Why are women turning to Islam?
Our own David Foster has a post that offers a compelling rationale for the peculiarly high number of Western women, especially young women, who are converting to Islam and following the GARBAGE crew in Iraq. Check it out.
Rebutting yet another Roosevelt era trope
In The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression, Amity Shlaes convincingly established that Roosevelt’s New Deal didn’t save the country from the Depression, it worsened the Depression.
It’s been so long since I read her book, though, that I cannot remember whether Shlaes tackled what finally ended the Depression. What I was taught in school, and what Paul Krugman loves to repeat, is that it was World War II that ended the Depression, which is why Krugman thinks some horrible disaster would be just the perfect antidote to our current sluggish economy.
Apparently at Princeton the students and teacher have never learned about the Parable of the Broken Window, which Frédéric Bastiat articulated in an 1850 essay Ce qu’on voit et ce qu’on ne voit pas (That Which Is Seen and That Which Is Unseen):
Have you ever witnessed the anger of the good shopkeeper, James Goodfellow, when his careless son has happened to break a pane of glass? If you have been present at such a scene, you will most assuredly bear witness to the fact that every one of the spectators, were there even thirty of them, by common consent apparently, offered the unfortunate owner this invariable consolation – “It is an ill wind that blows nobody good. Everybody must live, and what would become of the glaziers if panes of glass were never broken?”
Now, this form of condolence contains an entire theory, which it will be well to show up in this simple case, seeing that it is precisely the same as that which, unhappily, regulates the greater part of our economical institutions.
Suppose it cost six francs to repair the damage, and you say that the accident brings six francs to the glazier’s trade – that it encourages that trade to the amount of six francs – I grant it; I have not a word to say against it; you reason justly. The glazier comes, performs his task, receives his six francs, rubs his hands, and, in his heart, blesses the careless child. All this is that which is seen.
But if, on the other hand, you come to the conclusion, as is too often the case, that it is a good thing to break windows, that it causes money to circulate, and that the encouragement of industry in general will be the result of it, you will oblige me to call out, “Stop there! Your theory is confined to that which is seen; it takes no account of that which is not seen.”
It is not seen that as our shopkeeper has spent six francs upon one thing, he cannot spend them upon another. It is not seen that if he had not had a window to replace, he would, perhaps, have replaced his old shoes, or added another book to his library. In short, he would have employed his six francs in some way, which this accident has prevented.
War is just window-breaking on a grand scale.
Stephen Moore, using actual data rather than political myth, explains that what actually ended the Depression were post-war tax policies:
Government spending collapsed from 41 percent of GDP in 1945 to 24 percent in 1946 to less than 15 percent by 1947. And there was no “new” New Deal. This was by far the biggest cut in government spending in U.S. history. Tax rates were cut and wartime price controls were lifted. There was a very short, eight-month recession, but then the private economy surged.
Here are the numbers on the private economy. Personal consumption grew by 6.2 percent in 1945 and 12.4 percent in 1946 even as government spending crashed. At the same time, private investment spending grew by 28.6 percent and 139.6 percent.
The less the feds spent, the more people spent and invested. Keynesianism was turned on its head. Milton Friedman’s free markets were validated.
Of course, even with all the data in the world, you’ll never convince Krugman that his Keynesianism is wrong. He’s invested in the disaster theory of improving economies, and he’s not going to back out of it now or ever.
It’s also a myth that American executives get paid so much more than their employees
While it’s quite possible that the CEO of a big American company gets paid 331 times as much as the part-time janitor working weekends (especially the part-time janitor working weekends in the company’s Dehli office), it’s not true that, on average, American CEOs make 331 times more than ordinary employees. This particular “income inequality” myth is just another story from the same people who brought you the “New Deal worked” myth, the “one in five women are raped on campus” myth, the “women earn 72 cents on the dollar compared to men” myth, the “American healthcare is the worst in the Western world” myth, the “Climate Change” myth, and all the other untrue stories that control our politics and drive our spending.
In fact, while the average executive earns more than the average American worker, the ratio is fairly reasonable:
The AFL-CIO calculated a pay gap based on a very small sample—350 CEOs from the S&P 500. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 248,760 chief executives in the U.S. in 2013.
The BLS reports that the average annual salary for these chief executives is $178,400, which we can compare to the $35,239-per-year salary the AFL-CIO uses for the average American worker. That shrinks the executive pay gap from 331-to-1 down to a far less newsworthy number of roughly five-to-one.
Read more here.
Paul Krugman — butt head rebutted
You’re correct that I don’t usually call people “butt heads.” I just couldn’t resist that word-play here, though, because I have two links rebutting Krugman’s most recent act of stupidity. And yes, I know Krugman was once a well-regarded economist who won the Pulitzer Prize. Now, however, he’s a doddering fool who is not deserving of any respect. There’s just no other way to say it.
Both rebuttal posts relate to a Krugman column attacking Amazon as a monopolist. Arnold Ahlert points out that Krugman’s argument boils down to this: Krugman can’t point to any specific monopolistic act on Amazon’s part, but it must be a monopoly because it keeps prices low and, worse, gives customers good access to conservative-themed books. Ahlert’s takedown is a delight.
Also delightful is a letter that Donald J. Boudreaux (Professor of Economics and Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University) wrote to the New York Times. Boudreaux takes Krugman to task for repeating Progressive myths about the government’s war against Standard Oil back around the turn of the last century:
Serious students of Standard’s practices during the late 19th and early 20th centuries understand that complaints against that company came overwhelmingly from other refiners who couldn’t match Standard’s great efficiencies. Yet no complaints came from consumers. Standard made them overwhelmingly better off – which is compelling evidence that Standard did not have monopoly power.
I love the subtle insult there, about Krugman being anything but a serious student of American economic history.
Not only is it a lie that global warming is humankind’s fault, it’s a lie that there is global warming
John Coleman, the meteorologist who founded the weather channel, is once again fighting the good fight to say that the global warming theory is bunk. Every one of the global warming predictions has been wrong but, rather than conceding that it’s a theory failed, its proponents simply change its name (“climate change”) and double down on their insistence that we humans are causing something very bad to happen. If only there was a way to cut through the Leftist media noise and get more people to heed Coleman’s words about the climatistas’ many failed prophecies:
In an open letter attacking the UN, the 80-year-old from San Diego, said that what ‘little evidence’ there is for global warming points to natural cycles in temperature.
‘There is no climate crisis,’ he wrote. ‘The ocean is not rising significantly. The polar ice is increasing, not melting away. Polar bears are increasing in number.
‘Heat waves have actually diminished, not increased. There is not an uptick in the number or strength of storms.
‘I have studied this topic seriously for years. It has become a political and environment agenda item, but the science is not valid.’
More evidence to support the theory that Leftism is a mental illness
I’m not going to spend any time whatsoever analyzing Katrina vanden Heuvel’s hysterical screed explaining all the apocalyptic disasters that will instantly unfold if, God forbid, the Republicans take Congress. I’m simply offering the link to you as further evidence supporting the theory that people with mental problems find something comforting in Leftism, including the opportunity to have their paranoid fears taken seriously.
There’s something squirrelly about that “Norwegian” wilderness company….
Do you remember reading about the Amaruk Wilderness Corp., a supposedly Norwegian wilderness company operating in Canada, that sent vile emails to a job candidate who had attended a Christian college? It turns out that, as is often the case when Leftists go off the rails, there’s more to the story:
As more women who received bizarre and inappropriate responses to their job applications to wilderness company Amaruk come forward, efforts to reach the company’s CEO have left CBC News questioning whether the business and its jobs even exist.
Amaruk Wilderness Corp. hit headlines this week after CBC News reported on a B.C. Human Rights Tribunal complaint, in which a Trinity Western University graduate — Bethany Paquette — claims her application to work for the company was rejected because she’s Christian.
Since Paquette’s complaint was reported, CBC News has heard from other applicants, including Lucie Clermont, who applied to Amaruk last year for a job listed as the executive assistant to the CEO, which promised a $120,000 salary and world travel.
Clermont’s application was met with a number of emails asking awkward questions — some of them sexual — followed by more that became insulting.
Christopher Fragassi-Bjørnsen and Dwayne Kenwood -Bjørnsenare are listed as co-CEOs of Amaruk along with several other businesses, including Norealis, Spartic and Militis.
But the men do not live in Europe and they are not diplomats. And if Olaf Amundsen — the man who allegedly sent Paquette the offensive emails — is real, the picture of him on the company website is not. In fact, it’s an image grabbed from social media site Pinterest.
Read the rest here.
I wouldn’t keep someone evil as a friend either
A phrase I first learned in Texas, and have heard repeatedly since then, is that “Republicans think Democrats are misguided, while Democrats think Republicans are evil.” That statement isn’t meant to encompass the leadership of either party. Instead, it applies to the rank-and-file. Thus, while I believe that my lovely neighbors, none of whom are deep thinkers, are seriously misguided to cling to the Democrat party, if they were to know that I’m conservative, the greater likelihood is that they’d think I’m a hate-filled, racist, misogynistic, homophobic evil person.
No wonder, then, that Leftists are more likely to unfriend people who have the temerity to put up conservative-themed posts on their Facebook walls. It’s not just that the Leftists do not want to read or think about opposing viewpoints. It’s also that they know, deep in their hearts, that no decent human being could have an “evil” Facebook friend.
There’s a new politically incorrect “Dracula” movie in the making….
The Victorians were big on ghost and horror stories, so I always assumed that Bram Stoker’s Dracula was just one of the better, more timeless horror stories, riffing off of the vicious reputation of Vlad the Impaler, a 15th century Central European monarch with a taste for impaling his enemies. When Hollywood cast Bela Lugosi as Dracula, the thick Hungarian accent was an homage to Vlad’s role in Dracula’s creation.
Had I been fortunate enough to go to school in the era of political correctness, I would have learned that all my assumptions, despite being based upon actual, like, you know, historical records, were wrong. Instead, Dracula, one of the great Victorian horror stories, was really an extended meditation on open border policies in the second half of the 19th century. Savvy Victorian readers instantly picked up on the subliminal trope that Russian and other Central European immigrants were sucking their blood.
Thankfully, it appears that Dracula is getting yet another makeover, and this one reflects a difference historic fact about Vlad the Impaler that was ignored for many decades: His brutality had a very specific cause and a very specific target — fighting Islamic jihadists who had once held him hostage who sought to incorporate all of Christian Europe into their planned universal caliphate.
Probably the most intriguing part of this reboot, for fans of the original novel and all its myriad remakes throughout the past century, is the way this film turns its evil, fanged impostor into a hero.
In this version of the story, Transylvania is under attack by Mehmet, the Turkish Sultan’s military leader. And nothing could be more upsetting to old Vlad than to find Turks on his land. That’s because when Vlad was a child, the Sultan demanded tribute in the form of strapping young boys to fill out his troops — and Vlad’s father handed his son over to the Turkish, to be raised alongside Mehmet in the Ottoman Empire’s army. Of course, Vlad was the biggest badass the Turks had ever seen, which is how he became known as “the Impaler.”
Now he’s been allowed to return home to his family, his military service over. Unfortunately, the Sultan is looking for troops again, and he’s demanding 1,000 boys (including Vlad’s son). Which is why Vlad decides he needs a supernatural power-up from a mythical blood-sucker living in the mountains above his castle. Turns out that Tywin Lannister is up there, vamping it up in every sense of the word, and he offers Vlad a bargain. He’ll give Vlad some vampire juice so he can be superpowered for three days, and Vlad will return to being human if he can resist drinking somebody else’s warm, tasty blood.
And thus begins the fun of the film, which is ultimately all about how a nice Christian prince turns himself into a demon to destroy a Muslim army.
io9, from which the above summary comes, repeatedly calls this new version just as racist as the old version. (“Not to put too fine a point on it, the answer is a racism update.”) I don’t know. I see both the original versions and the current versions as two sides of the historic coin. The old version focused on Vlad’s Central European lineage and brutal reputation, while the current version focuses on the fact that he’s still a hero in Central Europe for having saved his subjects from Muslim depredations. And frankly, as we all get to watch ISIS (aka GARBAGE) engage in all sorts of depredations, the current version, except for the vampire stuff, sounds pretty darn accurate to me.
Everything you need to know about American education in one Cato chart
Read more here.
Krakatoa’s big bang
I already knew that Krakatoa was the loudest sound ever recorded on earth. It wasn’t necessarily the loudest sound ever (indeed, it probably wasn’t the loudest sound ever) but, back in 1883, it erupted just as Victorians were become extremely serious about obsessive record keeping. This means that, when Victorian diarists heard the sound (no matter where in the world they were located), they recorded the sound in their diaries, along with the date, time, and estimated volume. Thanks to those records, one can piece together the fact that the sound wave from the eruption circumnavigated the globe four times.
Kottke does a great job of explaining just how loud Krakatoa was. Even more helpfully, the post includes a video of a very small eruption in Papua New Guinea that nevertheless had an impressive sound wave.
Regardless of reasons, the net effect of a steadily rising adult population and sharply falling labor force isn’t pretty. It’s as if 217,000 adults joined the economy during the last month and yet made no attempt to help out. And on top of that, an additional 98,000 who were doing something in August also halted any attempt to pull a handle on our economic wagon in September. The headline number released last week – 248,000 new jobs created during September – pales in comparison to the much larger exodus of job seekers from our labor force.
Victor Davis Hanson: Ruins of the Middle East:
In order to win over the Islamic street, Obama has tried almost everything to remind the Middle East that America is no longer run by a white male conservative from a Texas oil family. His multifaceted efforts have ranged from the fundamental to the ridiculous. The Al Arabiya interview, the Cairo Speech, the apology tour, the loud (but hypocritical) disparagement of the Bush-Cheney anti-terrorism protocols, the new euphemisms for jihadist terror, the multicultural trendy pronunciation of Talîban and Pâkistan, and references to his father’s religion and his own middle name resulted in American popularity ratings in many Middle Eastern countries lower than during the Bush administration. In the Middle East, the only thing worse than being unapologetically proud of past U.S. foreign policy is being obsequiously ashamed of it.
Dennis Prager: It’s All About The Party:
Obamacare provides an excellent example of why “voting for the candidate” is an act of self-delusion. Every vote for this medical and economic transformation of America came from Democrats in the House and Senate; and every single Republican, even the most “moderate,” voted against it. Regarding the most destructive legislation in modern American history, “the candidate” didn’t mean a thing. Party meant everything.
This may be the primary reason Republicans do not do better in a country in which few of its citizens identify themselves as “Left”: Republicans run against their opponents, rather than against the Left and the Democratic party. That’s what Mitt Romney did, and that’s why he lost an election that he should have won. Romney never defined his presidential campaign as being opposed to the Left or to the Democratic party. It was solely against Barack Obama, a popular president at the time and the first black ever to serve as president, something that continued to mean a lot to many Americans who hoped that this fact would reduce black animosity toward white America.
Michael Rubin: Ebola is 1981 Flu, Not AIDS:
While the spread of AIDS scared society—largely because so much about it at the time was unknown—a better analogy to the spread of Ebola may be the infamous influenza epidemic of 1918.
The scariest thing about the 1918 flu was that it killed not simply children, the old, and the infirm, but also those who were healthy and at the peak of physical fitness. In the United States, 99 percent of the flu’s victims were under 65 years old, and half the victims were between 20 and 40.
To be in the prime of life and health is no defense against Ebola, and being in the military may actually increase risk: Anyone who has ever spent time around American soldiers—and those from many other Western nations—knows the commitment each has to physical fitness and working out. On Army bases and on Navy ships, there are often lines for equipment or exercise stations at the gym. This may sound silly, and of course the Pentagon theoretically will put restrictions and regulations in place, but sweat is sweat.
[Bookworm here: If you're interested in the 1918 flu pandemic, I recommend John M. Barry's The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History]
The $30 billion U.S. National Institutes of Health blamed tightening federal budgets on Monday for its inability to produce an Ebola vaccine, but a review of its grant-making history in the last 10 years has turned up highly unusual research that redirected precious funds away from more conventional public health projects.
The projects included $2.4 million to develop ‘origami’ condoms designed with Japanese folding paper in mind, and $939,000 to find out that male fruit flies prefer to romance younger females because the girl-flies’ hormone levels drop over time.
Other winners of NIH grants consumed $325,000 to learn that marriages are happier when wives calm down more quickly during arguments with their husbands, and $257,000 to make an online game as a companion to first lady Michelle Obama’s White House garden.
Bret Stephens: Obama Survival Manual, Intl Edition:
Each comment makes the same essential point: Don’t fear America, don’t trust America, don’t wait for American rescue. A corollary point, surely not lost on Mr. Putin, Ayatollah Khamenei and other rogues is that they have a free hand at least until January 2017. The conclusion: If ever there was a time to revise their regional orders in ways more to their liking, better to do so now, when there’s a self-infatuated weakling in the White House.
Jonah Goldberg: Culture Wars All The Way Down:
Let’s imagine that America’s national interest is completely disconnected from the domestic news cycle. It’s not a difficult thing to imagine, given that it is so often true. But let’s imagine that the disconnect is even more total. The press never covered the Islamic State. Never reported on the slaughter in Iraq and Syria. Never raised any concerns about what the rise of a terrorist army says about Obama’s foreign policy or our long-term interests in the region. The press focused instead on George Clooney’s wedding, events in Ferguson, Mo., and how awesome Lena Dunham is. Again, this isn’t a hugely difficult mental exercise.
In short, imagine the rise of the Islamic State over the summer presented all of the same national-security and humanitarian problems, but no political problems for Obama. Now ask yourself, would Obama have done anything about it?
My sister summed me up in a sentence: “For an incredibly neurotic person, you’re very normal and easygoing.” I know what she means. All my neuroses are turned inwards. They drive me crazy, but they don’t interfere with anyone outside of my brain. If you meet me, I’m friendly, good-humored, and well-mannered. I rarely take offense, and I’m always happy to help out.
I’m the living embodiment of the reminder to judge people by their deeds, not their thoughts. Unless of course, you think the deeds and the thoughts reflect on each other, magnifying each . . . which leads to me to:
The Obama latte salute
A military friend of mine had this to say:
What I find comical about this is the outrage. You’re surprised by this man? This is par for the course. And technically, he has no obligation to salute them back. A military officer not in uniform is only obligated to acknowledge a salute with a proper verbal greeting. My understanding is saluting the Marines of HMX-1 started with Reagan.
I think there are more important things to address about him like having absolutely no plan in Syria. This is comical considering the whole “what is our exit strategy?” nonsense during the Bush admin. We don’t even have an entry strategy here.
My friend is quite right, but I couldn’t resist reminding him about that outlook/action connection I mentioned at the start of this post:
I know that Reagan started it (and did you know that Reagan, whom the Left always castigated for not going to war, was in the Army Reserve as of 1937, and was barred from active duty during WWII only because of his vision?), so it’s not deep tradition, and I know that it’s not militarily necessary.
The thing is that, if it was clear that Obama really supported the military, and wanted to fight war in a way that’s not only ethical (which is a good thing), but that also keeps our troops alive and effective (another good thing), no one would have given a flying whatsit even if he’d hollered “Howdy, guys!” and blown soap bubbles at them. The optics mattered only because they were such a perfect visual representation of which we all know he actually thinks: “Blech! Marines again! And now I have to figure out how, and how many, of those baby killers to ship overseas this time….”
And my friend, who is a gentlemen down to the marrow of his bones, shot back:
I agree, we already know how he feels about the military. Saluting is what we call a military courtesy. Failing to simply be courteous says something about character.
I have such interesting friends.
Regarding the worsening mystery virus affecting children, when does correlation equal causation?
We’ve been hearing for a couple of months now about a serious respiratory virus affecting children across America. It’s been so bad that hospitals have been turning them away.
Well, here’s some more news guaranteed to make you unhappy: the virus just got worse. According to AP, children are now showing up with a paralysis that seems to be in the polio family and that may be related to the mystery enterovirus. So far, only nine cases have shown up in Colorado, but there’s no telling where paralysis problem might end up.
The AP’s not the only one paying attention to the virus. The New York Times has a long article about its effects on children across America (emphasis mine):
An outbreak of respiratory illness first observed in the Midwest has spread to 38 states, sending children to hospitals and baffling scientists trying to understand its virulent resurgence.
I love that line about “baffled” scientists. It reminds me of a wonderful Lord Peter Wimsey remark in Busman’s Honeymoon, when he and his new bride find a dead body in their honeymoon cottage. Being famous, the Wimseys are immediately besieged the press, one of whose members, Salcombe Hardy, is an old friend (emphasis mine):
“Can I say you’ve got a theory of the crime?”
“Yes,” said Peter.
“Fine!” said Salcombe Hardy.
“My theory is that you put the corpse there yourself, Sally, to make a good headline.”
“I only wish I’d thought of it. Nothing else?”
“I tell you,” said Peter, “the evidence is destroyed. You can’t have a theory without evidence to go on.”
“The fact is,” said Harriet, “he’s completely baffled.”
“As baffled as a bathroom geyser,” agreed her husband. “My wife’s baffled too. It’s the only point on which we are at one. When we’re tired of heaving crockery about we sit and sneer at one another’s bafflement. The police are baffled too. Or else they confidently expect to make an arrest. One or other . You can take your choice.” (Sayers, Dorothy L., Busman’s Honeymoon, p. 242 (Open Road Media, Kindle Edition)).
I feel a little like sneering at some bafflement too — in this case, the bafflement of those scientists trying to figure out how a rare virus that is connected to polio managed suddenly to enter the United States and infect American children.
I know that correlation is not causation, but I also know that not everything is pure coincidence. Isn’t it at least possible that the headlines about a bizarre virus striking down American children for the past two months might have something to do with the headlines from the end of July informing Americans that tens of thousands of Latin American children, many of them sick with diseases not seen in American children, were crossing the border? And isn’t it also possible that this baffling respiratory and occasionally polio-like illness might have to do with the fact that the Obama administration popped these children on buses and airplanes and then sent them all across the United States?
Again, I’m not saying that there has to be a connection, but I’d at least like to see some scientist say, “We’ve considered the possibility that this virus came with the immigrant children, but rejected it because….”
But they’re not saying that. Instead, the MSM just pretends the children’s crusade from Latin America never happened — so much so that it won’t even assure is that there’s no connection.
The country’s in the very best of hands (a song that’s never been more timely, I think)….
The media keeps its message consistent no matter the subject
The fact is that the American media is well-trained and it follows the Democrat playbook no matter the subject. A case in point involves doggies that have been Trayvon Martinized.
About that poor woman beheaded in Oklahoma
We know a few useful things about poor Colleen Hufford’s horrible death: She was beheaded, her murderer was an ex-con Muslim convert who had just been fired for arguing that women should be stoned, and another woman was saved from a similar fate when a company official with a gun shot him.
The police are trying to play this as just another case of workplace violence, and that may be true. But even ordinary violence reflects a zeitgeist. A former convict (which is what Alton Nolen, aka ‘Keem Yisrael, is), who converts to Islam in prison, will have two seeds planted within him: violence and jihad.
As always in these cases, please remember what my cousin, the retired prison chaplain, said about those prison converts:
It is not a contradiction to be a Muslim and a murderer, even a mass murderer. That is one reason why criminals “convert” to Islam in prison. They don’t convert at all; they similarly [sic] remain the angry judgmental vicious beings they always have been. They simply add “religious” diatribes to their personal invective. Islam does not inspire a crisis of conscience, just inspirations to outrage.
(Roger Simon has more on prison conversions to Islam and Caleb Howe has more on the lifelong anger and violence in Nolen that found its home in Islam) In other words, Nolen’s criminal history made him the kind of person who would commit murder — but his Islamic conversion made him the kind of person who would elevate this murder to the level of a jihad killing, complete with the sharia-compliant death of choice, namely beheading.
So yes, workplace violence or not, his religion mattered.
And what also mattered is that Nolen was stopped short by a gun. Jihad in America would be stopped pretty damn short if all of us were armed.
As for the shooting death of John Crawford in a Ohio Wal-Mart
John Crawford’s death is another one about which we know little, but it does look as if police were trigger-happy. Crawford was in a Wal-Mart aisle, someone called in a 911 because he was holding what looked like a gun, and the cops shot him. The video seems to show the cops firing instantly, without warning and, given how still Crawford was standing and the fact that his pop gun was pointed to the floor, they also shot without provocation. The cops, though, claim that Crawford was being threatening, something that might have been obvious outside of the silent film.
Radley Balko offers a great analysis of the bizarre intersections of so many societal issues in Crawford’s death: race, police malfeasance, societal paranoia about mass shootings, mental illness, etc. Something bad happened in that Wal-Mart, and two children lost their father.
I’m very interested in further facts. If Crawford’s behavior was frightening, so be it. But if trigger-happy cops killed an innocent man, let justice be done.
No, the Obama economy is not thriving
A few weeks ago, I asked for help rebutting a Forbes opinion piece claiming that the Obama economy is thriving, and that it puts the Reagan boom to shame. Just the other day, Forbes itself published an opinion piece rebutting that earlier, pro-Obama effort, and it’s a humdinger:
With the stock market cruising at all-time highs and the unemployment rate sitting at quaint levels, a fashionable new argument is making the rounds. Barack Obama is better at economic recovery than Ronald Reagan ever was.
The numbers make the case. Dow Jones Industrial Average the day President Obama was inaugurated in January 2009 was 7950; today it stands at 17,000. Unemployment in his first full month, that February: 8.3%, versus 6.1% today.
Ronald Reagan could not quite touch this standard. The Dow began his presidency at 950 and chugged to 1800 after five-and-a-half years. A 90% gain is nice, but short of the 115% gain since 2009. Unemployment over that span went from 7.4 to 7.1%—welcome enough, but overmatched by the post-2009 record.
And all the while under Reagan, there was double the consumer price inflation as under the comparable Obama period (26% vs. 13%). Interest rates were higher. Prime was at 7.5% in September 1986, in contrast to today’s 3.3%.
Whatever crisis, whatever “stagflation” Reagan faced as he swept Jimmy Carter from office in 1980, the results that came in well into his presidency pale in comparison to what the nation would put up under the leadership of Barack Obama.
This argument has glaring flaws, the most obvious of which (from a statistical point of view) is that the labor force participation rate has collapsed under Obama, while it surged under Reagan, rendering any kind of comparison of unemployment rates inoperable. The bald economic growth numbers, for their part, are double in the Reagan (20.3%) than in the Obama (9.7%) case.
Read the rest here.
By all means, let’s have over the counter birth control
To me, even the smallest dose of birth control pills acts like poison on my system. For most women, though, today’s low-dose birth control pills have few serious side effects, if one discounts the fact that they’re messing with women’s entire hormonal and reproductive systems.
Given all the other stuff that’s sold over the counter, there’s no reason for the Pill not to become an OTC drug too. This will lower women’s health care costs dramatically, both by increasing competition at the purchase level and by doing away with the perfunctory, but costly, doctor’s visit that precede prescribing the pill.
Obamacare supporters, of course, are incensed that conservatives believe the Pill should be an OTC drug because that would strip away large parts of their argument about imposing costly and ethically troubling Obamacare “women’s health” regulations on every employer and insurance company in America.
Could this be the reason race hustlers do what they do?
The retirement of Eric Holder, Attorney General of the US and race hustler extraordinaire, resulted in one of Roger Simon’s best posts. Simon begins with Holder’s extremely sleazy history: The same man who prosecuted Dinesh D’Souza for a $20,000 act of stupidity was the federal prosecutor who enabled the disgraceful pardon of Marc Rich, an exceptionally corrupt man who dealt with Iran during the hostage crisis and was lined up for 300 years in prison.
From that disgraceful beginning as an unprincipled party hack, Holder went on to become a hatchet man for the racism racket who turned the Justice Department into a purely political office advancing Obama’s hard Left, anti-constitutional, race-based domestic policies. That history leads Simon to this interesting thought:
Now I have a theory about the etiology of Holder’s fixation on race. When you know deep down you’re a dishonest person, when you have had to eat the bitter pill of your own corruption who knows how many times (even Clinton finally admitted that he had gone too far pardoning Rich and damaged his own reputation), you have to invent a narrative for yourself to justify your activities. So over may years Holder developed what I have called elsewhere a “nostalgia for racism.” No matter that racism was diminishing in our culture, he had to keep racism alive, believe it was alive. If racism were going away, he would no longer have a raison d’être, an excuse for his biased behavior, an excuse, as it turned out, to go beyond the law, act unilaterally and punish political enemies.
Why, yes. That sounds just right.
Think of Syria as you read this bumper sticker
It took me a couple of seconds to figure out the message behind this bumper sticker, and then I thought “That’s excellent.”
If you’d like one for your car, you can buy it here.
You can put lipstick on a male pig, but it’s still a male pig
With self-selected sex transmutations dominating headlines lately (“Lift ban on transgender military members“), I keep harking back to what I’ve said since the headline about a “pregnant” man (i.e., a woman who had her breasts surgically removed, and took hormones to grow facial hair). At the end of the day, when the surgically-adjusted, cosmetically-mutated, chemically-altered soft tissue is gone, and the bones are all that is left, what’s left is . . . the original sex.
To hold otherwise — to say that person who made this change is now actually a man or a woman, just because he or she wants to be — is a bizarre cultural delusion we’re fostering. On the great bell curve of biology, men are men and women are women, and that’s true regardless of surgery, make-up, hormones, and magical thinking. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t accord the person the respect, when possible, of treating him or her as s/he wishes to be treated, but it does mean that we have to accept biological reality.
Case in point: Mixed martial arts. There, a man who went through the surgical, chemical, cosmetic process of appearing like a woman insisted that he be allowed to compete as a woman. The outcome was not pretty, as his opponent Tamikka Brents, who was born female, ended up with a massively broken eye socket and a concussion. Brents explained what happened to her:
In a post-fight interview this week, she told Whoa TV that “I’ve never felt so overpowered ever in my life.”
“I’ve fought a lot of women and have never felt the strength that I felt in a fight as I did that night. I can’t answer whether it’s because [he] was born a man or not, because I’m not a doctor,” she stated. “I can only say, I’ve never felt so overpowered ever in my life, and I am an abnormally strong female in my own right. ”
His “grip was different,” she added. “I could usually move around in the clinch against…females but couldn’t move at all in Fox’s clinch.”
I’m not a doctor either, but I’m pretty sure that, men have different bone structure and heavier muscle mass. Even if a man is taken female hormones, if he’s in the world of MMA training, he’s pushing those still-male muscles to the max. He’s going to be a muscle monster, with the weight of a man’s heavy bones behind him. At the end of the day, biology will not be denied.
Views from the climate change gala in New York
Power Line has a wonderful photo gallery from last weekend’s climate change extravaganza in New York. It’s got everything from the mounds of garbage left behind to the hypocritical celebrities to the hard Left people behind the climate change movement. Check it out. Laugh. Cry.
Then, if you want to laugh and cry some more, please enjoy Jeff Dunetz’s 48-item-long list of all the bad things that happen, according to the change-istas, because of climate change. Reading that list, I keep thinking of Monty Python’s Life of Brian, when Brian’s followers see everything he says as a sign of something insanely stupid:
Lies, damn lies, and British crime statistics
Since banning guns, Britain has become the most violent country in the first world. Certainly, the police are conflicted about the whole crime-fighting thing. After all, the God of political correctness tells them that they shouldn’t fight crime if the criminals are blacks or Muslims. The police have therefore figured out creative ways to massage the (non)crime-fighting numbers — they lie:
The culture of fiddling crime statistics is ingrained within the upper echelons of the police service where target-chasing has led to the under-reporting of serious crimes including rape, according to a report by MPs out today.
The MPs said a delay by Scotland Yard in addressing claims that rape figures were skewed was a “damning indictment of police complacency, inertia and lack of leadership”.
In attacking Rush, it appears that the female of the species is deadlier than the male
Rush Limbaugh went on the offensive to smoke out the small group of people trying to destroy his radio show through email and social media attacks against advertisers. What I noticed immediately is that, of the nine people engaged in this conspiracy, six are female. You’ll never have a 50/50 split in a group of nine people, but it’s telling somehow, that the group is heavily weighted on the women’s side.
I can’t decide if this is because women are indeed more vicious, or if it’s because the Sandra Fluke kerfuffle managed to turn Rush into a slayer of women in the deranged feminist mind, or if it’s simply random that in such a small group, there would be twice as many women as men. The fact seemed noteworthy, regardless of the reason.
No wonder women are raping as much as men are
Feminists have insisted that the definition of rape must be expanded far beyond the traditional definition, which pretty much was limited to a man using his penis to penetrate a woman vaginally, orally, or anally. Nowadays, every man’s touch, look, or verbal bullying is included in the definition of sexual assault, at least on college campuses. In this way, women can claim (and the Democrat party can campaign on) the canard that 1/5 of women on campus will be sexually assaulted.
Relying on the feminists’ own definition of sexual assault, Glenn Reynolds makes the compelling and convincing argument — supported by data — that women commit sexual assault every bit as often as men do. I believe this completely. If you read the trashy but informative Daily Mail on a regular basis, as I do, you’ll quickly discover that several times a week, and sometimes every day, there’s a story somewhere in America about a female school teacher forcing a sexual relationship on an underage male (or, sometimes, female) student. One comes away feeling that America’s students are taught by an army of nymphomaniacs.
Step back, puny mortals, and let the wind take over
One of the problems I’ve always had with the whole climate change theory is the centrality it gives humans. Humans have indeed shown themselves perfectly capable of trashing the local environment. From prehistoric man driving mammoths to extinction, to the Aztecs destroying every bit of protein in their region (hence the need for human sacrifices, which were later eaten), to the Soviets turning lakes into acid puddles, to American manufacturers doing their damndest to destroy our own lakes (until capitalism saved them), to the California Gold Rush stripping off sides of mountains, we are a destructive species. But there’s a quantum difference between making a terrible, and too often lasting, mess here and there, and altering the entire climate around the world, all the way until we touch outer space. That simply didn’t (and doesn’t) make sense to me.
What makes a lot more sense is a new theory that says that shifting wind patterns account for the changing climate along the Northwest. I find it especially intriguing giving the close connection between wind and sun (and I’m not just talking Aesop’s fables here).
I’m glad the New York Times had the integrity to report on this new climate theory, but I had to laugh at the opening sentence (emphasis mine):
A new and most likely controversial analysis of Pacific Ocean weather patterns concludes that a century-long trend of rising temperatures in the American Northwest is largely explained by natural shifts in ocean winds, not by human activity.
It must have choked the writer, Michael Wines, to concede in the next paragraph that the theory didn’t arise from the fetid swamps of whacked-out deniers but, instead, appeared in “the prestigious peer-reviewed journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences….” Oh, yeah!
America’s topmost colleges accept robots and turn out morons
Okay, I’m exaggerating for effect in that subtitle. There is no doubt that America’s top colleges get to take in America’s best and brightest students and that they turn out products with a certain sheen. I contend, though, that these new graduates are actually more indoctrinated than educated, but that’s just my opinion. Or maybe it isn’t….
While they do not say that America’s premier colleges are turning out mindless Leftist drones, two Ivy League instructors have come out lately to that in their pursuit of the best and brightest, these institutes of higher education are producing boring, timid robits who will not take any chances, thereby stifling their own brilliance.
At The New Republic, you can read William Deresiewicz’s Don’t Send Your Kid to the Ivy League, which has been shared on Facebook more than 191,300 times.
And at First Things, you can read Michael J. Lewis’s Children Who Never Play, which picks up where Deresiewicz left off.
In bureaucracies, the perfect is the enemy of the good
I credit Philip K. Howard with helping me move from mindless Left-liberalism to thinking conservativism. His book The Death of Common Sense: How Law Is Suffocating America, which I read shortly after it was published in the early 1990s, was an eye-opener because it made me realize that government not only is not the answer but that it can never be the answer. It took me another decade to complete my journey across the Rubicon, but I definitely couldn’t have done it without him.
Just recently, Howard authored a piece for The Atlantic explaining how the Stimulus got wasted, not because of any specific corruption, but because the money vanished into the bureaucratic crevices created by a million rules:
Modern government is organized on “clear law,” the false premise that by making laws detailed enough to take in all possible circumstances, we can avoid human error. And so over the last few decades, law has gotten ever more granular. But all that regulatory detail, like sediment in a harbor, makes it hard to get anywhere. The 1956 Interstate Highway Act was 29 pages and succeeded in getting 41,000 miles of roads built by 1970. The 2012 transportation bill was 584 pages, and years will pass before workers can start fixing many of those same roads. Health-care regulators have devised 140,000 reimbursement categories for Medicare—including 12 categories for bee stings and 21 categories for “spacecraft accidents.” This is the tip of a bureaucratic iceberg—administration consumes 30 percent of health-care costs.
And finally, some marvelous photographs and a joke
Nope, not my usual set of posters but, instead, links to two wonderful sites. The first explains why you won’t see Israeli women in burqas anytime soon, while the second is a panoramic photograph taken shortly after San Francisco’s 1906 earthquake. If you click on the image, you can zoom in to a specific spot; then, click again to zoom out.
Since I try to end on a laugh or uplifting note, here’s a delightful joke that a friend sent me (slight language warning), clearly in honor of Ezekiel Emanuel’s announcement that he, and everyone else, should try to die by or before age 75:
I recently picked a new primary care doctor. After two visits and exhaustive lab tests, she said I was doing fairly well for my age. (I am past seventy-five). A little concerned about that comment, I couldn’t resist asking her, ‘Do you think I’ll live to be 80?’
She asked, ‘Do you smoke tobacco, or drink beer, wine or hard liquor?’
‘Oh no,’ I replied. I’m not doing drugs, either!’
Then she asked, ‘Do you eat rib-eye steaks and barbecued ribs?’ ‘I said, ‘Not much … My former doctor said that all red meat is very unhealthy!’
‘Do you spend a lot of time in the sun, like playing golf, boating, sailing, hiking, or bicycling?’
‘No, I don’t,’ I said.
She asked, ‘Do you gamble, drive fast cars, or have a lot of sex?’
‘No,’ I said.
She looked at me and said, ‘Then, why do you even give a shit?’
This week, when it comes to the top stories, all is not as it seems. What struck me as I read through report after report, and opinion piece after opinion piece, is that we’re surrounded by a swirl of optics that belie the truth. Evidence to support this statement follows:
College student opts to illustrate optics of rape by toting around a mattress
The mainstream media is filled with a bit of performance art by Emma Sulkowicz, a senior at Columbia. Sulkowicz claims that three years ago, on her first night in the student dorms, a senior raped her. Sulkowicz eventually reported the alleged rape to the college, which opted not to expel the senior, despite the fact that other female students eventually charged him with rape too. Three years after the fact, Sulkowicz, a performance art major, has come up with a senior thesis that, as I said, has garnered a good bit of attention from the MSM:
Beginning this week, Columbia student Emma Sulkowicz has vowed to carry her mattress around at all times until her alleged rapist is expelled from school. The performance, which doubles as Sulkowicz’s senior thesis, instantly went viral and has been splashed internationally across Facebook, Twitter, and even the Today Show as the latest chapter in the ongoing conversation on how colleges handle sexual assault cases.
Sulkowicz, a visual-arts major, says she was raped by a classmate in her dorm bed sophomore year, and when she reported the incident to Columbia administrators they botched the report, the investigation, and the hearing. In April, Sulkowicz filed a Title IX complaint with 23 other students alleging Columbia has mishandled sexual assault cases.
The MSM, understandably, is terribly excited by the optics here. Sulkowicz explains:
Over the summer, I was lucky enough to get into the Yale Norfolk Residency, and I worked on a video where I had to move a mattress out of the room. The idea of carrying a mattress got stuck in my head the way a song gets stuck in your head, and I unpacked why carrying a mattress is an important visual for me. I thought about how I was raped in my own bed at Columbia; and how the mattress represents a private place where a lot of your intimate life happens; and how I have brought my life out in front for the public to see; and the act of bringing something private and intimate out into the public mirrors the way my life has been. Also the mattress as a burden, because of what has happened there, that has turned my own relationship with my bed into something fraught.
What’s singularly missing from the articles I looked at (and I looked at 7 or 8) is any information about the rape. Was she asleep in her bed only to wake up to the feel of a knife pressed against her throat (as happened to a friend of mine who sports a large scar on her face that she received when fighting of her attacker)? Or had Sulkowicz invited the alleged attacker into her room and into her bed? Was Sulkowicz drunk or sober? Was her alleged attacker drunk or sober? The only detail Sulkowicz discusses is her claim that the attacker had anal sex with her. It’s still unclear whether they had any consensual traditional intercourse before the senior engaged in an act at which Sulkowicz drew the line or whether it was indeed a stranger rape or a rape without any preliminary consensual behavior.
Another interesting thing about Sulkowicz’s whole rape narrative is that Sulkowicz immediately decided not to report the rape to the police: “I didn’t report it at first because I didn’t feel like dealing with the emotional trauma.” Okay, I get that, but you can’t eat your cake and have it — unless, I guess, you’re an American college student. In that case, you can claim that you were the victim of a genuinely criminal act, but bypass entirely the criminal justice system (which as built-in rights for the accused) and, instead, simply complain to your college. Then, if the college refuses to follow the usual politically correct path of destroying the male student’s life, you take to the media, so he can again be tried without due process.
I’m sure something happened that night in Sulkowicz’s bed. I just can’t escape the feeling that what took place was something called “gray rape,” which boils down to a scenario in which a girl agrees to sex and then, feeling guilty about what she did, later cries rape. The media, of course, doesn’t care.
The media’s credulity regarding Sulkowicz’s very self-serving claims (after all, she now has a performance art thesis that’s garnered her fame throughout the Progressive world) may come about in part because of the media’s readily apparent statistical ignorance. After all, the whole “rape culture” (as in “1-in-5 college women will be raped”) is in itself totally untrue:
MYTH 4: One in five in college women will be sexually assaulted.
FACTS: This incendiary figure is everywhere in the media today. Journalists, senators and even President Obama cite it routinely. Can it be true that the American college campus is one of the most dangerous places on earth for women?
The one-in-five figure is based on the Campus Sexual Assault Study, commissioned by the National Institute of Justice and conducted from 2005 to 2007. Two prominent criminologists, Northeastern University’s James Alan Fox and Mount Holyoke College’s Richard Moran, have noted its weaknesses:
“The estimated 19% sexual assault rate among college women is based on a survey at two large four-year universities, which might not accurately reflect our nation’s colleges overall. In addition, the survey had a large non-response rate, with the clear possibility that those who had been victimized were more apt to have completed the questionnaire, resulting in an inflated prevalence figure.”
Fox and Moran also point out that the study used an overly broad definition of sexual assault. Respondents were counted as sexual assault victims if they had been subject to “attempted forced kissing” or engaged in intimate encounters while intoxicated.
Defenders of the one-in-five figure will reply that the finding has been replicated by other studies. But these studies suffer from some or all of the same flaws. Campus sexual assault is a serious problem and will not be solved by statistical hijinks.
Fundamentally, though, statistics and other icky facts just don’t matter to the Left. What matters is control, something perfectly exemplified in an opinion piece in Britain’s Guardian. The author, Jessica Valenti, accepts as true the overwhelming horrors of a campus “rape” culture (hyperlinks omitted):
Her performance may be singular, but the deep frustration voiced by Sulkowicz is being echoed by survivors across the United States. Despite increased efforts to curb campus assault and hold schools accountable – the FBI has changed its once-archaic definition of rape, a new White House task force wants answers, and schools like Harvard and Dartmouth have promised new policies – the nation’s university administrators are still failing young people in their care. In the last year alone, 67 schools have had students file federal complaints accusing their own colleges of violating the Clery Act or Title IX.
Oh, the outrage! College is a dangerous place for your daughter! Keep her at home, perhaps in a burqa. Oh, wait. Valenti isn’t saying that last bit. She just wants to control speech more and more (links omitted):
Late last week, the first state bill to require colleges to adopt an “affirmative consent” model in their sexual assault policies passed the California senate unanimously. The legislation, which is headed to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk for approval by the end of this month (his office declined to comment), effectively requires the presence of a “yes” rather than the absence of a “no” – or else withholds funding from the nation’s largest state school system.
The legislation additionally clarifies that affirmative consent means both parties must be awake, conscious and not incapacitated from alcohol or drugs – and that past sexual encounters or a romantic relationship doesn’t imply consent. The California bill also, importantly, specifies that “lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, nor does silence mean consent”.
It seems like a no-brainer to only have sex with conscious and enthusiastic partners, but detractors say the standard “micromanages” sexuality. The truth is that a “yes means yes” policy “helps to create a shared responsibility, instead of the responsibility falling on women to say ‘no’,” says Tracey Vitchers, chair of the board at Safer (Students Active for Ending Rape). Anti-violence activists are clearly excited about the bill, which – if all goes well – could be adopted by more states with large public university systems.
Pardon me for cynicism, but I don’t believe there’s a “rape culture” at college campuses. I believe that there is a “sexually-saturated, morality-free culture” at college campuses, brought about in large part by Progressive pressure on those same campuses to abandon the role of pater familias. Once upon a time, boys and girls lived in separate housing, and they were not allowed to take a person of the opposite sex to their rooms. Even when co-ed dorms first came into being, boys and girls occupied separate floors. Then, that changed so that they occupied the same floors, but had separate bathrooms. Now, they share everything — including copious amounts of drugs and alcohol that numb the smart parts of their brains.
My verdict based on the evidence available: Without more information, Sulkowicz definitely gets an “A+” for performance art and self-promotion. I’ll reserve judgment on the rape claim until there’s a full trial, complete with due process, a defense, and testimony under oath.
Obama — he of the Greek columns — explains that optics are hard
On Chuck Todd’s Meet the Press show, Obama finally deigned to explain why he went on a chortling, fist-thumbing golf game within minutes of announcing to the world that ISIS had decapitated an American citizen, something ISIS proudly filmed and then boasted about in a widely disseminated video. According to Obama, it’s just so hard to remember that the world is watching you. Somehow it’s unfair that the world’s eyes should be on the person who still bears the title of Most Powerful Man In The World, never mind that he’s reduced that power to the point where America’s weight in the world is no greater than any other little tin pot dictatorship’s world power.
Obama’s disingenuous claim that political theater is “not something that always comes naturally to me” unleashed a marvelous outrushing of tweets, some of which focused on his more egregious acts of political theater (faux Greek columns, speeches at the Brandenburg Gate) and others of which focused on his more embarrassing acts of visual ineptitude. Legal Insurrection has assembled some of these tweets.
Here are a few more for your enjoyment and delectation:
— Mike Werner (@mwerner89) September 8, 2014
— E-Du (@ezradulis) September 7, 2014
— Klown 2.0 (@realmyiq2xu2) September 7, 2014
— Jenn Jacques (@JennJacques) September 7, 2014
I’ll also add my favorite umbrella optic:
Commenting on Obama’s risible statement about his deep feelings on learning of Foley’s death (feelings so deep that he was giggling on giggling on the golf course just a few hours later), Scott Johnson had this to say (emphasis mine):
In this case, the photographs suggest that Obama wasn’t all that choked up about the beheading of James Foley. They document that whatever emotion he felt, if any, dissipated very quickly. On that day, the photographs belied the theater. You might conclude that Obama is something of a phony on a matter of great concern to ordinary Americans. Thus Obama’s irritation.
One is struck both by the falsity and the petulance of Obama’s comments. I think Obama lies even to himself.
I disagree with Johnson’s last sentence, insofar as it implies that Obama, when he speaks of his deep feeling, knows that the opposite is actually true, and that he’s a shallow, self-involved, unfeeling man. Instead, I would argue that, when Obama told Chuck Todd that he was really quite shattered, and simply forgot that mere Americans wouldn’t understand the visuals of a man so sophisticated that he could go from shattered to silly within minutes, he was telling the truth . . . his truth. After all, the first rule of malignant narcissism is that the narcissist never lies. Since the truth is defined by his needs, when he makes a statement in accord with those needs, he is telling the truth or, more accurately, he is telling his truth.
The Gaza optics reveal that at least one of the dead wasn’t an innocent child
Elder of Ziyon examined the case of one of those poor, innocent civilians who died in Gaza as a result of Israel’s “unconscionable” Protective Edge assault. He found some damn interesting stuff too.
The optics of Britain’s dissolution are infinitely worse than the reality
A new YouGov poll makes it seem very likely that, after more than 300 years of being a United Kingdom, England will be disunited from Scotland: A majority of Scots suddenly seem inclined to go it alone as their own nation. Traditionalists who are moved by centuries of union, are horrified to think that they might live to see the day when Scotland and England part ways.
One could argue in opposition that what we’re seeing here is a necessary Scottish “reconquista,” as Scotland shakes off the shackles of a mere few hundred years of joinder with England in order to return to its more natural state, which was almost a thousand years of independence. That’s a silly argument, though.
John Fund makes a more serious and impressive argument when he says that, beneath the “it’s all falling apart” optics of dissolution, a Scottish vote in favor of disunion would be a good thing. Currently, Scotland sends a disproportionate number of Leftist members to the British parliament. Getting rid of them would give Tories (who are vaguely conservative) a majority. Additionally, once unanchored to the British treasury, hard Left Scotland might find it economically unfeasible to pursue socialist policies. Sadly, with the older generations dead and gone, I doubt that there’s any possibility that Scotland could revert to the hard-headed, self-reliant Scotland that gave America and the free world some of her greatest supporters of independence.
Scotland, of course, is banking on its oil revenue to keep it afloat, while England will mourn the loss of that same revenue. Again, though, oil may not be all its cracked up to be. As the Saudi countries show, oil money too readily props up otherwise broken, ineffectual economies. And as Venezuela shows, when a government becomes too socialist and broken, even oil money won’t help.
Optics and truth when it comes to American economic health under Reagan and Obama
I’m crowd-sourcing here. A Forbes opinion piece makes a compelling argument that Obama’s recovery economy is much stronger than Reagan’s was, with a better stock market, better corporate health, and better labor participation. I suspect jiggery-pokery here.
The argument I would make, and that many in the comments to that same article make, is that the stock market is propped up by government-printed money that doesn’t have actual wealth backing it; that the labor market is worse because more people have dropped out of the labor force and because the majority of jobs created are part-time or low pay; and that the federal debt and deficit mean that, to the extent we’re completely overextended, even the slightest economic tremor could trigger a massive economic collapse that will make 2008 look like the good times in retrospect.
I would value your input on this one. Both collectively and individually, you guys are better at economic data than I ever will be.
Colbert, who will soon be filling David Letterman’s vacant chair, has a shtick. His shtick is that he’s a conservative, so his humor ostensibly attacks conservatives at their own game.
What makes Colbert’s shtick fundamentally unfunny, though, is that he has no understanding of conservative ideas or, indeed, of anything at all. His starting point is a parody image of conservatives — hate women, hate minorities, love the evil rich, want to kill everybody with guns. That’s not funny. It’s just crude.
Then, his alleged humor attempts to build on this parody, looking at headlines through the stained, warped filter of his politic animus. The result is something without any intrinsic humor. It only makes people laugh if they’re inclined to laugh at any insult directed to their political opponents, no wit or insight required.
My premise for this post, therefore, is that it’s not funny when ill-informed people try to parody something that they’ve already reduced to a parody. Working off this premise, I want to introduce you to a video and, even better, its rebuttal.
The video came about when Funny or Die partnered with Kristen Bell (who is the voice for the redhead in Frozen) does a Mary Poppins parody supporting a hugely increased minimum wage. The video’s production values are wonderful. Kristen Bell has a lovely voice to begin with and does a very good Julie Andrews imitation. The melody is a nice, subtle homage of “Spoonful of Sugar,” without simply being a retread. Really, the whole thing is great, except….
Except that the premise is insanely stupid. It accepts blindly that, if the government forces employers to pay people above market rate, everyone (except the evil, abusive employers, of course) will have more money.
The video makes no effort whatsoever to rebut the fact that the iron laws of economics work no matter what DemProgs desire. If the government forces employers to pay their employees more than the market will bear, employers will just hire fewer people. The result will be that a few people will have more money, although they’ll be expected to do more work for that money. Many small businesses may stagnate, rather than grow, shrinking further the employment pool. Ultimately, instead of having lots of people employed for low wages, you’ll just have lots of unemployed.
You know why the video makes no effort to work through these problems, of course. It doesn’t try because it can’t. In a battle between the iron laws economics and witless Progressivism, the former always wins. That leaves the latter with nothing more than superficial cuteness (a parody) justifying its simplistic economic demands (the parody piled on the parody).
The problem for conservatives, of course, is that their ideas, while inevitable, require some intelligence to explain and understand. And, because they’re complex, they require a little time and space. A short rebuttal to a well-produced video is hard to do. Reason’s Remy, though, has taken a stab at simplifying the rebuttal, and he’s done a pretty fine job:
So, if your Facebook friends start touting Bell’s Poppins, feel free to tag them with Remy’s Bert.
It’s actually not random that I’m putting up this video, so it’s not truly “just because” music. Listening to it, I realized that it perfectly illustrates my point about social and economic mobility in America — which is why “income inequality” should be a non-issue:
Over at JustOneMinute, Tom Maguire explains just how weak the Democrat spin is when it comes to celebrating the end of “job lock.” It’s a great post, but as quite often happens over at my blog, the real brilliance appears in the reader comments. From Ignatz:
I believe the Republican idea was to decouple insurance from employment not decouple the employee from employment.
Why do I like that? Because it sums up in one sentence what it took me an entire post to write.
Hat tip: American Thinker