The Bookworm Beat 12/8/14 — Monday evening wrap-up and open thread

Woman writingNo time for an intro. I’ll just head straight for snark and links:
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The so-called “campus rape epidemic” reveals that our best and brightest are dumb and immoral

Rolling Stones rape storyMany bytes and pixels have been generated to discuss the veracity of Rolling Stone’s article about an alleged gang rape that University of Virginia fraternity members committed against a freshman two years ago.  I don’t think much needs to be said anymore about the truth of the specific allegations.  To those of us used to assessing evidence, it was clear from the beginning that the story couldn’t hold water.  Once the fraternity alleged to be behind the rape proved conclusively, with actual facts, that there was no party on the night alleged and could not have been a party on the night alleged, the whole story fell apart like a cheap paper plate at a barbecue.

What interests me today are a couple of defenses mounted by peers of “Jackie,” the alleged rape victim.  Both of these defenses show an intellectual mushiness that’s very disturbing to anyone who cherishes a last, faint hope that America’s institutions of higher learning are teaching young people the art of thinking.  Both of them, in fact, show the art of non-thinking — of being carried away on a tide of emotion and assumption — and a complete absence of moral decency.

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The Bookworm Beat (11/22/14) — Sad Saturday edition (and Open Thread)

Woman writingWhy is it a sad Saturday? Because I read an analysis of 2016 electoral prospects arguing that, while Republicans can definitely win Congress and state houses, the combination of huge Democrat-voting urban areas and the electoral college makes it impossible for Republicans to take the White House. I think that’s true. Unless voters in urban areas turn on the Democrats, what we’ll have as of 2015 — a Democrat president and slight-majority Congress — will be the status quo for a long time.

That makes me sad because it will mean that Barack Obama’s presidential legacy, both domestic and international, rather than being reversed and lost in history’s backwater, will last far into my, my children’s, and even my grandchildren’s future.  It’s not good for America and it’s not good for our traditional friends abroad.

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An utterly shattering video about the moral depravity of students at UC Berkeley

Israeli flagCal is my alma mater, something that I find to be a perpetual embarrassment.  It was bad in the 1970s and 1980s.  It’s infinitely worse in the second decade of the 20th century.  Watch what happens when a man waves an ISIS flag on campus and then compare it with the reactions when he waves the Israeli flag.

You know that expression “I spit up a little bit in my mouth,” which people use to give a graphic image of their disgust? I didn’t do that. After seeing this video, I wanted to do the full vomit:

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CERT — Bureaucratic teaching

CERT-LogoYesterday I completed the first half of my Community Emergency Response Team (“CERT”) training. CERT is a FEMA program that’s intended to give ordinary people some basic crisis management skills in the event of a natural or terrorist disaster. I ended up learning a fair amount, but it wasn’t thanks to the way the program was created or — with all due respect to the firefighters who taught it — the pedagogy.

Regarding the last, let me just say that it’s a reminder, as if I needed one, that most people aren’t very good teachers. A good teacher is an informed, logical thinker who is able to communicate his knowledge in an understandable and, if the students are lucky, interesting manner. The firefighters who taught our course clearly knew their stuff, and it was obvious that they were prepared for this teaching gig, but they simply weren’t born teachers. That’s okay. I don’t hold it against them. They were good people making their best efforts and for that I was grateful.

What I found distressing was the course’s structure and for this I blame the bureaucratic brains at FEMA. The class got wrong-footed instantly because it didn’t start with a course overview, explaining to the diverse group of citizens assembled in the room precisely what they would and would not learn.

A slight digression here: By diverse, I don’t mean that we had a carefully calibrated ratio of different skin colors, sexes, and sexual orientations, as if we were a class in any university in America. Instead, I mean that we were a self-selected group of people with different ages, backgrounds, socio-economic status, education, experience, and intelligence. That in itself was a good thing for me, because my neighborhood has a little bit of Lake Woebegone about it, insofar as all of the families are “above average” — people who don’t have an edge can’t afford to live in our community. It’s too easy living in my neighborhood to remember that not everyone communicates as well as we do or grasps concepts as quickly as we do. And now back to my main point.

If I had created this CERT program, I would have started with an introduction making the following points:

In most communities, professional responders are easily able to handle every day crises, ranging from heart attacks to freeway pileups. Occasionally, however, a community is hit by a mass disaster. These disasters can range from hurricanes to earthquakes to terrorist strikes. By definition, a mass disaster is one in which there are more injured than there are professional first responders and time is of the essence for locating and treating the injured and for neutralizing potential future injuries from downed power-lines, fires, more bombs, etc.

Human nature being what it is, when a mass disaster strikes, volunteers inevitably come forward to help within their own community. Studies of mass disasters have shown, however, that when these volunteers are untrained, they’re not as useful as they could be and, worse, they are often killed or injured themselves.

The purpose of this course is to teach you — people who plan to step forward to help yourself, your family, and others in your community in the event of a mass disaster — how to organize volunteers after a disaster; how to identify ongoing danger spots, put out fires, and isolate downed power lines and other ongoing hazards until emergency services can show up; how to locate and provide basic care for injured people; and how to perform triage (i.e., classify victims by the severity of their injuries) so that, when professional first responders are able to appear, they are immediately able to treat the injured and clear the community of further hazards.

That’s what you’ll learn during this 18 hour class. What you will not learn is first aid, including CPR. Additionally, this class will not organize your neighborhood for you. We encourage you to take a first aid class and to connect with others in your neighborhood so that you can get an emergency infrastructure in place, but that’s not what will happen here.

Instead of this overview, the class started by talking about CERT’s history.  This lesson was completely irrelevant, because it wasn’t framed so as to explain the scope of the class. The curriculum then muddled its way through various vague subjects that I can’t even remember now.  What was clear from the questions people asked throughout the class was that, without an introduction, the assembled students were often confused. Because none of the attendees knew the class’s boundaries, they wasted an enormous amount of time asking questions outside the scope of the class.  Meanwhile the firefighters teaching the class had a hard time answering these questions, because they didn’t know how to address the fact that the questions exceeded the seminar’s limitations.

This “overview” failure continued throughout the class. Later in the day,, the instructors plunged into a lesson about the all important Incident Command System without first explaining to people what it was and how it worked. Again, before teaching the module, I would have taken a couple of minutes to give an intro and, by doing so, no doubt would have saved at least a half-hour dealing with subsequent student confusion.  My intro would have gone along these lines:

In a crisis, being organized can sometimes be the difference between life and death. Over the years, first responders and the military have created and refined an organizational system called the “Incident Command System” or ICS. It’s basically a pyramid system with one leader at the top of the heap. Beneath him are teams that have responsibility for specific tasks. These teams, in turn, can be broken down into more specific sub-teams.

With the exception of the team leader, which is usually a solo position, each team is made of between 3-7 people, with 5 being the perfect number. In order to keep confusing chatter down, and to prevent conflicting decisions and the spread of misinformation, communications go strictly up and down the pyramid. The ICS leader will talk to the team leaders immediately below him; those team leaders will talk to the leaders of the sub-teams and so on, all the way down. Ultimately, information flows up to the ICS leader, and assignments flow down from him.

We’ll show you how, in a mass emergency, CERT volunteers can immediately create an ICS that harnesses the knowledge of other CERT volunteers, as well as the abilities and efforts of other, untrained volunteers. The best thing that can happen after this class is for you to return to your neighborhood and begin creating an ICS structure now, so that it’s in place in the event of a mass emergency. However, as you’ll see, you can instantly create one of these systems at the scene of an emergency.

I’m writing this on the fly, and after first learning about the ICS system only yesterday, so forgive my mistakes. My point, though, is that you cannot intelligently teach volunteers about the ICS approach to crisis management without explaining its purpose or giving an overview of its function. Because the CERT program (foolishly, in my opinion), instantly plunges into details, half the room was very confused.

I use the word “half” with precision. A voluntary gathering such as a CERT training class is a reminder that an IQ of 100 is average, with half the people in a random crowd having, on average, only a two-digit IQ. I don’t say this to be arrogant. IQ is only one type of intelligence. I happen to function well in an environment that demands a high IQ, but I’d fail miserably in a setting that demands a high emotional intelligence, mechanical intelligence, artistic intelligence, athletic intelligence, or any other type of mental skill set other than dealing with abstract ideas. When you’re dealing with people whose strength isn’t abstract ideas, you must make a special effort to be clear and organized in your presentation.  Drifting into myriad incomprehensible details makes things unreasonably difficult.

The program bogged down again when it came to triage. It quickly turned out that the people assembled in the classroom thought that they were responsible for first aid as a subset of triage. Everyone was ready to dive in with CPR and goodness knows what else. That, too, should have had a quick overview:

One of the most important services CERT volunteers can perform during a mass emergency is to (a) try to stabilize people who are unable to breathe, are bleeding out, or are going into shock and (b) to classify the injured so that, when the professional first responders finally arrive, they can immediately treat the most seriously injured people first without having to do the sorting process themselves.

Triage is not the same as first aid. One of the most significant differences is that you will not learn here CPR and you are not expected to perform it at the scene of a disaster. When casualties are lining up, it’s much more important to sort people, and to treat for bleeding, shock, or airway blockage than it is to attempt to give one person CPR. Sadly, doing the greatest good for the greatest number of people sometimes means turning your back on a single heart attack victim so that you can said (and save) several more people.

In this segment of the class you will learn how to identify and provide basic care for the three most common causes of death in a mass disaster: airway blockage, excessive bleeding, and shock. You will also learn how to classify the injured as walking wounded (who are able to care for themselves or even care for others); those who need delayed care (while they cannot care for themselves or others, their lives are not at risk); and those who need immediate care (those whose injuries are so severe that they are at risk of death or permanent, grave injury if a medical professional cannot see them). You’ll also learn how to recognize when someone has died for triage purposes (which is different from the standard used in a hospital during ordinary care), and how to handle the fact of that person’s death.

And with that introduction, the teachers would have been able to cut at least 30 minutes off of confusing instruction time.

Ultimately, the triage lesson proved to be very interesting, as we learned out to deal with shock, airway obstruction, and bleeding, as well as practicing basic carries.  Next week we learn how to search a structure safely and how to put out fires, among other things.  I expect to enjoy myself and come away with a great deal of useful information.  But I also expect to come away frustrated at the inefficient way in which this information is conveyed.  And as the title of my post suggests, I can’t help but think that the problem with this muddled, vague teaching system is that it’s the product of a bureaucratic committee, rather than a gifted educator.

American universities do their best to spread Lena Dunham’s sexually perverse childhood culture

film critics association arrivals 160111I think it’s safe to say that Lena Dunham, who drops her clothes at every opportunity, falls dead center into the dictionary definition of someone with compulsive exhibitionism: “Psychiatry. a disorder characterized especially by a compulsion to exhibit the genitals in public.”  Given her predilection for letting it all hanging out physically, it’s hard to imagine that Lena was plagued by any doubts that she might be revealing too much information.  So Lena spilled, and spilled, and spilled some more.

What Lena didn’t realize is that her comfort with exhibitionism — both physical and mental — is a product of the bubble in which she lives.  Kevin Williamson, having read her autobiography, summarizes that bubble with savage accuracy:

Lena Dunham is fond of lists. Here is a list of things in Lena Dunham’s life that do not strike Lena Dunham as being unusual: growing up in a $6.25 million Tribeca apartment; attending a selection of elite private schools; renting a home in Hollywood Hills well before having anything quite resembling a job and complaining that the home is insufficiently “chic”; the habitual education of the men in her family at Andover; the services of a string of foreign nannies; being referred to a homework therapist when she refused to do her homework and being referred to a relationship therapist when she fought with her mother; constant visits to homeopathic doctors, and visits to child psychologists three times a week; having a summer home on a lake in Connecticut, and complaining about it; writing a “voice of her generation” memoir in which ordinary life events among members of her generation, such as making student-loan payments or worrying about the rent or health insurance, never come up; making casual trips to Malibu; her grandparents’ having taken seven-week trips to Europe during her mother’s childhood; spending a summer at a camp at which the costs can total almost as much as the median American family’s annual rent; being histrionically miserable at said camp and demanding to be brought home early; demanding to be sent back to the same expensive camp the next year.

In this bubble, sexual obsessions and acting out are normative, not unusual. Comfortably ensconced in her elitist bubble, Lena felt entirely comfortable describing her childhood sexuality. In her world, that prepubescent sexual experimentation and curiosity extended far beyond the “you show me yours and I’ll show you mine” curiosity that most little kids display. Instead, Lena aggressively used her much younger sister as her own private sex toy. Again, Williamson explains:

And they [her parents] were, in their daughter’s telling, enablers of some very disturbing behavior that would be considered child abuse in many jurisdictions — Lena Dunham’s sexual abuse, specifically, of her younger sister, Grace, the sort of thing that gets children taken away from non-millionaire families without Andover pedigrees and Manhattanite social connections. Dunham writes of casually masturbating while in bed next to her younger sister, of bribing her with “three pieces of candy if I could kiss her on the lips for five seconds . . . anything a sexual predator might do to woo a small suburban girl I was trying.” At one point, when her sister is a toddler, Lena Dunham pries open her vagina — “my curiosity got the best of me,” she offers, as though that were an explanation. “This was within the spectrum of things I did.”

Dunham describes herself as an “unreliable narrator,” which in the context of a memoir or another work of purported nonfiction means “liar,” strictly construed. Dunham writes of incorporating stories from other people’s lives and telling them as though they were her own, and of fabricating details. The episode with her sister’s vaginal pebbles seems to be especially suspicious. When Dunham inspects her sister’s business, she shrieks at what she sees: “Grace had stuffed six or seven pebbles in there. . . . Grace cackled, thrilled that her prank had been such a success.” Dunham’s writing often is unclear (willfully so, it seems), but the context here — Grace has overheard her older sister asking whether her baby sister has a uterus — and Grace’s satisfaction with her prank suggest that Grace was expecting her older sister to go poking around in her genitals and inserted the pebbles in expectation of it. Grace is around one year old at the time of these events. There is no non-horrific interpretation of this episode. As for stroking her mother’s vagina, having mistaken it for her hairless cat . . .

About those parents. . . . Williamson describes Carroll Dunham, Lena’s father, as “a painter noted for his primitive brand of highbrow pornography, his canvases anchored by puffy neon-pink labia.” Those words, while blunt, don’t do justice to the profound ugliness of Dunham’s work. Let me try to put that ugliness in context.  Back in the 1930s and 1940s, pin-up artist Alberto Vargas definitely objectified women.  He drew hundreds of pin-up images for American men — especially American troops, during WWII — to enjoy.  Significantly, he created these images with a true reverence for feminine beauty. His manifest admiration for the female form seems not just old-fashioned, but wholesome when compared to Dunham’s work.

If Vargas had raised a daughter, she would have grown up knowing that her father felt this way about women:

Alberto Vargas woman in swimsuit

As it was, poor Lena grew up knowing that her father feels this way about women (as seen by a screen grab of Dunham’s own website):

Carroll Dunham website screen grab

As a woman, I feel traumatized just looking at those images. Indeed, if Dunham were anything but a card-carrying New York Progressive, it would be very tempting to characterize those crude drawings as part of a sick rape culture that objectifies women.

Can you imagine how you’d feel being the daughter of the man who uses and sees women in that way?  Add to this the fact that Dunham’s mother liked to have nude shots of her own crotch displayed on the condominium walls, and you get the feeling that poor Lena had a childhood that, while gilded, was probably just as distorted sexually as that of a little girl raised in a whore house.  In both settings, women are certainly central and celebrated, but it’s for all the wrong reasons.

For a child, of course, the familiar is normal, so it’s not at all strange that Dunham embraced her parents’ sexual obsessions when she lived in their house.  What’s tragic, though, is that Dunham was never able to escape them.  Ordinarily, one would think that, when she left home to go to college, she would learn that this is type of explicit, all-encompassing, predatory sexuality is not the norm.  Instead, though, Dunham went off to a university system that has embraced her natal culture and is working hard to bring it to every American home.

The phenomenon known as campus sex week seeks to convince those American college students who did not grow up in homes that had pictures of Mom’s crotch and Dad’s misogyny on the wall that the most extreme examples of non-traditional sex ought to move to the center of American culture rather than being hidden at the fringes.  And so it that Harvard University — a place that once churned out people who,even if not very educated, had a certain degree of class — now offers seminars in anal sex.  To my way of thinking, if Mommy and Daddy feel that their child’s education isn’t complete without learning about the final details of anal sex, they can probably download that information for free from the internet to give to junior, rather than spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in tuition for a four year indoctrination in Marxism and non-mainstream sexual practices.

These same kids, once released from college, take up the sexual proselytizing with a vengeance.  They head to the big Blue cities, and happily participate in, observe, or applaud slut walks, topless dykes on bikes, nude street fairs, and all sorts of other genitalia displays in American popular culture.  In other words, just as Dunham’s bubble remained intact going from home to college, it’s kept its integrity going from college to her professional life as a writer, actress, and activist, all within bluest of blue Hollywood.

No wonder, then, that Dunham became extremely upset when both Kevin Williamson and Truth Revolt looked at her narrative, and instead of viewing her as hip and edgy, which was the reaction she’d been schooled to expect (pun intended), instead offered their own descriptions for her childhood conduct:  predatory and abnormal.  Up until she revealed her sexual upbringing to the larger public, Lena had managed to live for 24 years being celebrated for her sexual adventures.  It must have been a terrible shock to her to realize that, even as Mummy and Daddy and her college were all encouraging her sexual experimentation, large swathes of America would look at her conduct and say “If you lived in a trailer on the wrong side of the tracks, your parents would have been in prison and you would have been sent into the juvenile justice system.”  Suddenly, Lena’s bubble has burst.

One other thing, which doesn’t quite fit into the essay above, but that is related to Lena’s description of her relentless sexual attacks against her much younger sister:  Although no one wants to do these studies anymore, because they’re very politically incorrect, studies in the 1980s and 1990s strongly indicated a correlation between childhood sexual abuse and becoming homosexual.  In this context, it’s probably meaningless, but nevertheless interesting, that Dunham’s sister, the one on whom Dunham sexually experimented with predatory zeal, is lesbian.

The American college application process reveals a bias against paid work

Harold Lloyd in the Freshman

We’ve come a long way since Harold Lloyd, in 1925, starred in “The Freshman”

The college application process is at the forefront of my brain because one of the little Bookworms is applying to college. It’s been a very laborious process, because Mr. Bookworm is more motivated than the Little Bookworm is.

Both Mr. Bookworm and Little Bookworm want to see Little Bookworm head to a good college. Their preparation styles for the process, though, are so wildly different that they clash into each other, effectively neutralizing each other. Mr. Bookworm pushes constant focus on the process, so Little Bookworm recoils. Little Bookworm demands help, so Mr. Bookworm backs off. Yet, even as they engage in a complex action and reaction pattern, each has the same goal. And so it goes, while the deadline draws ever nearer.

I’m kind of staying out of this, partly because I know that my interference will turn me into a scapegoat for both of them, should things go badly. More than that, though, I think that, if Little Bookworm can’t get through the application in a timely fashion, Little Bookworm probably isn’t ready for college. The way I see it, taking a year or two off to work, earn money, and grow up would be a better alternative than stumbling at great expense into the wilderness of America’s college system, unprepared and immature. The eventual college would benefit too, since a more mature, responsible, self-sufficient student must be an asset to any educational institution.

Except that it turns out I’m all wrong. A young relative of mine who has a business aiding kids with their college applications (and who has been helping us out, God bless her) told me that, while colleges are increasingly accepting of a “gap year” (or two) between high school and college, they do not view as an advantage a year spent working, learning responsibility, earning money, seeing how the real world functions, and maturing.  Instead, to the colleges, a productive year in the real world is considered a weird from of slackerism. If you want to take a year off and maintain your college prospects, you’d do well to pack a backpack and hitchhike randomly through Europe or to go to some small village in nowhere Latin America or (until Ebola) nowhere Africa, to foist your useless, entitled, immature self on self-respecting indigenous people, telling them how to live their lives.

Is it just me, or does this sound like our educational institutions have a bass ackwards sense of values?

Here’s the one other thing I find interesting about the application process. Let me begin by explaining that a huge number of American universities accept applications through something called “The Common Application” or “the Common App.” The Common App is an online form that students fill out with data about grades, class ranking, honors and AP classes, extracurricular activities, awards, volunteer work, sports accomplishments, and job history. This part of the Common App doesn’t ask for the applicant’s racial or religious information.

The Common App also has five essay prompts, from which the student picks one, all aimed at helping the university see what kind of person the student is outside of test scores and grades. This year’s prompts are as follows:

Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn?

Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?

Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?

Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.

Although all students can respond to the first prompt, I view it as carefully phrased invitation to students who are not white, heterosexual, and male to identify their particular victim category. Or maybe I’m just paranoid and cynical when I read so much into the question But I’m pretty sure I’m not being paranoid or cynical at all when I see in the list of additional questions one university asks (and all universities are allowed to require applicants to write “supplemental” questions) a question asking the applicants to explain their names. The girl named “Jane” won’t have a lot of explaining to do. However, the girl named “Latik’shanw’a” probably will, as will the boy named “Juan Carlos” or the transgendered person who explains “I was Michael, but now I’m Michelle.” And yes, I’ve gotten very cynical, but I know that universities are doing anything they can to get around voter imposed restrictions on affirmative action.

At this point, I know all of you are thinking Hillsdale, Hillsdale, Hillsdale, but for a long list of reasons, that’s not going to happen.  I will say, though, that Little Bookworm’s top choice is one of the less crazy American institutions of higher education.

The Bookworm Beat (10/18/14) — Saturday night special edition, Open Thread

Woman writingAfter a day of wholesome domesticity, what could be better than a little political commentary? As was the case yesterday, I want to begin with a comment about a Facebook poster a liberal friend put up. This one has to do with complaints about the Obama administration’s anything-but-rapid response to Ebola, a disease threat that’s been hanging around since 1976.  The liberal cadre are arguing that Obama’s conduct compares favorably to Reagan’s silence about AIDS:

Reagan on AIDS versus Obama on Ebola

Certainly, it would have been better had Reagan spoken about AIDS sooner, rather than later. I suspect, however, that his silence was dictated by a fundamental difference between AIDS and Ebola: AIDS is a sexually transmitted disease, and Reagan came of age in a time when one didn’t speak about STDs from the White House’s bully pulpit.

Putting aside the stigma attached to sexually transmitted diseases, AIDS had a few other distinctions from Ebola: For one thing, it quickly became apparent that the vast majority of people could avoid AIDS in two ways: (1) They could stop having unprotected sex and (2) they could stop sharing dirty needles. (I’m not ignoring people who got AIDS through tainted blood transfusions. They, sadly, were not part of that vast majority.)  Those of us around in the early 1980s remember how the gay community stridently and ferociously resisted any government efforts to slow unbridled bathhouse promiscuity.  They wanted a cure, so long as it didn’t affect their sex lives.

For another thing, AIDS, unlike Ebola, moves slowly. While it’s very contagious, the speed with which it spreads through a community, especially when people start behaving wisely, is limited. In this regard, it’s entirely unlike Ebola which, left unchecked, can move with deadly speed even amongst people taking reasonable precautions.  Worse, it can be a tidal wave when people, for reasons of culture, poverty, or broken infrastructure, can’t take precautions at all. In other words, Reagan had years to think about the subject before speaking (although his government was working on AIDS before he spoke), while Obama is staring at pandemic that has the potential to attack America the way the plague struck Athens in 430 B.C.

Bottom line: While Reagan erred in keeping his mouth shut in 1940s gentleman-like fashion, the two diseases are not comparable. Given Ebola’s speed of transmission and the difficulty in controlling its rate of infection, it is the height of irresponsibility for Obama to treat the problem as a political one, rather than a public health crisis with imminent and ominous overtones.

And now back to your regularly scheduled round-up:

Why did the US interfere with Israel’s search for a kidnapped soldier during Israel’s Operation Protective Edge?

It doesn’t seem to be a secret to anybody at this point in the Obama administration that Obama personally and the administration as a general matter are hostile to Israel. But just how strong is that hostility? In today’s Jewish Press, Lori Lowenthal Marcus tells how the US shut down the search for a kidnapped Israeli soldier and says that it’s time to find out why the US put the kibosh on the request:

The request [for American aid] was coursing through channels when all of a sudden the doors slam shut. An ordinary request that by all rights and beliefs should have been processed swiftly by one ally for another was peremptorily quashed. The request was denied and instead the U.S. prosecutors who had already geared up to assist our ally were told to stand down. Someone, somewhere in the U.S. government had decided instead that a formal, lengthy process was required, one that completely ignored the immediacy of the situation. That message was sent in an email from the FBI.

But the FBI does not make foreign policy decisions. It was not the FBI who yanked the lifeline from the Israeli captured behind enemy lines. So who did?

Obama’s mad as Hell and he’s not going to take it anymore

Obama’s standard line when his administration is shown to be corrupt or incompetent is to say that he’s as surprised as anyone else to learn about the trouble, that he’s mad as Hell (which is his most recent pronouncement about the CDC’s Ebola response), and that he’s going to go looking for some ass to kick. This response was arguably an acceptable line to take when Obama first became president, because he inherited much of the bureaucracy in place during the Bush administration.

Now, though, six years into Obama’s presidency, the ass he should kick should be his own. A fish rots from the head, and Obama is the head of this lumbering, incompetent monster that we call the federal government.

Oh, and while I’m on the subject, I read somewhere (and I don’t remember where), that Americans shouldn’t expect the federal government to be instantly efficient when it comes to Ebola. After all, we’re the ones who are always saying that Big Government is a problem because it’s inherently inefficient. And that’s true . . . for Big Government. The thing is that epidemic management is a core government function. If the government wasn’t futzing away its time and our money sticking its nose into and trying to control everything under the sun, it might show a bit more competence when it comes to the jobs it’s actually supposed to do — like preparing for epidemic diseases at home and abroad.  A conservative’s whole point is that government should be small, and that it’s reasonable to expect small government to function efficiently if it sticks within its purview.

Obama continues his obstinate refusal to block flights and immigrants from West Africa

Obama did a weekly address today assuring Americans that the Ebola crisis is under control. For the most part, it was standard and appropriate.  He told people that the federal government knows what it’s doing and that Ebola isn’t really that contagious at all (“I’ve met and hugged some of the doctors and nurses who’ve treated Ebola patients.”) Of course, whether anybody believes our serial liar in chief, especially when the evidence of their own eyes tells them something other than what he’s saying) is a different question. I prefer to get my information from sources other than our president.

What did surprise me was Obama’s stubborn insistence that nothing’s going to stop him from keeping our borders open to West Africans:

Finally, we can’t just cut ourselves off from West Africa, where this disease is raging. Our medical experts tell us that the best way to stop this disease is to stop it at its source-before it spreads even wider and becomes even more difficult to contain. Trying to seal off an entire region of the world-if that were even possible-could actually make the situation worse. It would make it harder to move health workers and supplies back and forth. Experience shows that it could also cause people in the affected region to change their travel, to evade screening, and make the disease even harder to track.

That’s one of the stupidest things Obama has said to date, and that’s saying something. There is absolutely no reason we can’t at least take steps to ensure that a specific region of the world has minimal contact with us for the time being. Americans understand that there will always be people who slip through the cracks, but that as a general matter, it’s wise to slow the flow of West African travelers into America. Moreover, a government that can make every plane trip a living nightmare for Americans can certainly put some barriers in place against West African travelers.

Americans also understand that announcing a stop to West African flights is not the same as announcing that America will henceforth stop giving aid to West Africa.  We know that the government can exempt itself from the travel ban and ensure continued American aid to that region, in terms of both personnel and supplies. After all, Obama just sent the Marines there, complete with their four hours of training in how to prevent the spread of Ebola.

I’m pretty certain that Obama’s stubbornness on this issue has nothing to do with protecting Americans, and everything to do with making sure that it doesn’t look as if America is keeping out black people.

With Ebola, it’s the strippers who take the lead

Thank God that at least some people have a sense of social responsibility — people like the two male Texas strippers who have voluntarily quarantined themselves after discovering that they sat within a few feet of Amber Vinson, the nurse who flew while becoming symptomatic with Ebola:

Goode and a stripper pal, Taylor Cole, voluntarily pulled themselves out of circulation after the pair sat near an infected nurse on a Cleveland-to-Dallas flight. They vowed to stay in their homes for 21 days, a move suggested — but not required — by the CDC.

“It doesn’t take an intelligent person to make a good decision,” Goode, who comes from a family of pharmacists, told the Daily News. “If a stripper can make a decision that’s more responsible than the CDC, then surely other people can make those decisions, too. It’s not rocket science.”

Am I the only one who finds troubling the fact that two strippers have more sense and decency than the American president?

Jonah Goldberg explains why Ebola is so devastating to the Left

When I grow up, I want to write (and think) like Jonah Goldberg. Really:

Liberals believe in government. I don’t just mean they believe in it as an institution — conservatives and, yes, libertarians, believe in the institution of government. After all, what is all this reverence for the Constitution about if you don’t believe in the government it establishes? No, liberals believe in government as a source of meaning, as a shaper of souls (though don’t ask them to use the word “soul”), a creator of values, and a reliable tool for the guiding hand of progressive experts to rightly order our lives. As the opening video at the Democratic convention proclaimed without a sense of irony: “Government is the one thing we all belong to.”

And this is why government incompetence, or even mere government fallibility and error, present a unique problem for the Party of Government. To be fair, plenty of smart liberals can concede that government gets stuff wrong. But it’s always a difficult concession to make. And if you divide up such concessions between instances where liberals place the blame squarely on government itself and instances where they blame politicians for not going “all the way” with government, you find that the vast majority fall into the category of “if only we had more government.” The overwhelming majority of liberal critiques of Obamacare, for instance, hinge on the complaint that it didn’t go far enough. If only we went with single payer, and completely chased the moneychangers out of the temple of health care, everything would be fine. The War on Poverty failed because $20 trillion amounts to woeful underfunding when measured against the yardstick of the infinite funding liberals desire.

In crude Marxist terms, liberals have a theory of infallible government that is constantly at war with the reality of life. Hence the old joke(s): “Sure it works in practice, but does it work in theory?”

A few words about California’s “Yes Means Yes” law

As you know, California has enacted a “Yes Means Yes” law requiring students in California’s colleges and universities to get affirmative consent every step of the way when they engage in amorous activities.

“May I remove your jacket?”

“Yes.”

“May I remove your shirt?”

“Yes. And may I remove your shirt?”

“Yes. And may I remove your bra?”

“Yes. May I unbuckle your belt?”

Some may be tempted to take short cuts (“May I remove all your clothes?”) but that would be dangerous to do, given the law’s draconian consequences.

Ezra Klein, who has worked harder than most to ensure that America’s media is a hard-working arm of the Democrat party, wrote an article applauding the law, even as he acknowledged that it would lead to kangaroo courts. Klein has been properly indoctrinated by feminists and understands that all men are rapists at heart. Therefore, it’s exceedingly important that as many as possible be publicly humiliated and destroyed, whether they’re innocent or not, so as to make a point.

(Given Klein’s standards, I think he should be banned from watching the nightly news.  Otherwise, me might start getting ideas from ISIS and begin demanding that people who are accused of violating Progressive feminist norms, whether innocent or guilty, get crucified so as to strike fear into the hearts of other social troglodytes who might be contemplating wolf whistles, holding doors open for pregnant women, or offering their seats to old ladies.)

Klein’s position was a bridge to far even for fellow progressives. He therefore found himself in the unusual position of getting attacked from both Left and Right. He therefore did what you’d expect a young, much-feted, politically Left narcissist to do: he doubled down on his position. Robert Shibley, of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, went after Klein’s latest effort with the written equivalent of a howitzer, and his fisking is a joy to read.

Shibley manages to touch upon everything, from the law’s fundamental unenforceability, to the Left’s continued infantilization of American women, to the fake “rape crisis” on America’s campuses and, most importantly, to the misanthropic witch hunts that take place on America’s college campuses. Across the land — and now with extra ammunition in California — academic tribunals intended for plagiarism and cheating scandals, are hauling students (invariably male) before kangaroo courts and, in proceedings completely free of even minimal due process protections, adjudicating alleged felonies and destroying men’s lives in the process.

Oh, and while I’m on the subject of faux rapes, nouveau feminist Lena Dunham (she of the bad prose and excessively naked body) backed of slight from her claim that a Young Republican raped her while she was at college. I’ve already pointed out that, while Dunham calls it rape, her own description of the evening shows that she was wasted and, lacking rational capacity, ended up having sex with someone she found unappealing. The next day, when she decided that she regretted that sex, she and her roommate decided it was rape.

Perhaps because I’m not the only one who noticed her despicable accusation, one founded in remorse over her own behavior rather than the young man’s actual conduct, Dunham sent out this defensive tweet that seems to exonerate her alleged attacker of evil intent:

Read more here about Dunham’s “rape” claims.  It’s apparent that they have little to do with actual rape but, instead, are grounded equally in misanthropy, hostility to the GOP, and the same exhibitionism that sees her slough off her clothes at the slightest opportunity.  Dunham should be shut down.  Her position is an insult to all women, throughout history, who have suffered the horror of a genuine rape attack, rather than a burst of regret about their own promiscuous, drunken behavior.

The answer to my request for a poster showing the difference between ID for voting and buying guns

Yesterday, I asked for a pithy poster that would explain the difference between showing ID to vote and showing ID to buy a gun. Biscuit came through for me:

Futurama on voter ids

And a few pictures

I found these pictures myself, so they’re not as good as the ones that Caped Crusader, Sadie, and other readers send me. Sorry.

Getting your news from Jon Stewart and Hogan's Heroes

Three stooges and the CDC

Photo ids are too hard

Rap loses to rock

No Founding Father ever wanted president of unlimited power

War on terrorism and a hippy

Trusting dogs who don't like a person

Obama's ebola signature

Difference between Nixon and Obama

The Bookworm Beat (10/17/14) — aka the Friday fish-wrap edition (and Open Thread)

Woman writingBefore I dive into my round-up, I wanted to discuss with you a poster that a very liberal friend of mine put up on Facebook. It’s the Leftist version of various posters you’ve seen here discussing Leftist logic (e.g., as Dixon Diaz says, “A liberal is someone who lives in a gated community but says that a border fence won’t work,” or “A liberal is someone who thinks that Fox news lies, but Obama doesn’t.”).  The Leftist version of this logic comparison involves voter ID and gun purchases:

Comparing voter ID and gun shows

Superficially, the comparison makes sense. I mean, ID is ID after all. Why should it be required in one place and not in another? Only a second’s thought, though, makes it clear that this is a bit of prestidigitation, meant to make us look in the wrong direction.

What we should be looking at is the fundamental right we’re trying to protect.  In the case of voting, the fundamental right is the right to cast a vote that is not canceled out by an invalid vote from someone who, as a matter of law, cannot vote, whether because that person is actually dead, or is an illegal alien, or is a felon, or just hasn’t bothered to register.  Demanding identification protects the integrity and weight of my legal vote.

The opposite is true for the requirement that one must show identification at a gun show.  The right to bear arms is the fundamental right at issue.  Putting government regulations between an individual and a gun is a burden on the exercise of that right.  This is not to say that the state may not place that burden, but the state had better  have a damn good reason for doing so.

So — is anyone out there skilled enough to reduce my argument to a poster that will counter the poster above?  For the life of me, I cannot figure out an easily digestible way to counter a fallacious, but superficially appealing, argument.

Guns save lives

It seems appropriate after discussing the fundamental right to bear arms to lead off with a news report about an Army vet, carrying a licensed gun, who used his gun to save both his girlfriend and himself from a frightening attack by a deranged individual. Here’s the takeaway quotation:

“I firmly believe that in order to maintain a free society, people need to take personal safety into their own hands,” he said. “You should walk around ready and able to protect yourself and others in your community.”

Modern Islam flows from Saudi Arabia and Iran, and both are barbaric

Daniel Greenfield pulls no punches in “The Savage Lands of Islam.” With a focus on Saudi Arabia (along with nods to Iran) he explains that Islam, as practiced in the countries that are its heartlands, is an utterly barbaric religion that debases human beings. He also warns that Islam exists, rather like a parasite, to take over other countries and reduce them to precisely the same debased status. Or as I once said:

Why is militant Islam Like Ebola

England continues voluntarily to plunge itself into the moral abyss

By a vote of 60 to 1, the student union at Goldsmiths College in London voted to discontinue all Holocaust commemorations. The reasons given were grotesque, starting with that given by the “education officer,” a gal named Sarah El-Alfy, which I read as an Arab name. According to her, Holocaust commemorations are “Eurocentric” and “colonialist.” Sadly, El-Alfy sounds marginally intelligent compared to students who opined that “The motion would force people to remember things they may not want to remember,” while another said that because the Union was (apparently appropriately) anti-Zionist, commemorating the Holocaust was impossible.

Honestly, I think the only time in modern history that a once civilized country so swiftly and completely debased itself was Germany, in the years between the end of WWI and the start of WWII. And, to England’s shame, Germany at least had the “excuse” of having been utterly destroyed, socially and economically, by having lost WWI. England’s slide into this abyss has no excuse, following as it does the fat years that Margaret Thatcher introduced and that continued through the 1990s.

England’s not alone: all of Europe is just as immoral

England didn’t sink into this moral black hole alone. All of Europe is there (with American Democrats tugging anxiously at the leash, desperate to plunge into the hole themselves).

How do we know this? Because Europe, England included, has decided to recognize the Palestinian state, despite the fact that there’s nothing state-like about the West Bank.  Well, there’s nothing state-like unless you redefine state to mean “a dysfunctional terrorist organization, with no infrastructure, no rights for women, Jews, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, or gays, and that has no ability to generate revenue but simply funds itself with hand-outs from the international community, most of which end up lining the pockets of those clinging with tyrannical fervor to ‘leadership’ positions.”

And if that sentence was too packed to make sense, you can and should read Caroline Glick on Europe’s disgraceful move to recognize a Palestinian State.

When it comes to moral black holes, let’s not forget The New York Times

As part of the Left’s desperate effort to emulate Europe’s moral abasement, the New York Times is leading tours to Iran, no Israelis allowed, and all Jews and homosexuals seriously discouraged from coming along:

The New York Times is offering a pricey, 13-day excursion to the “once-forbidden land of Iran,” one of a series of its Times Journeys tours. However, if you’re an Israeli, joining the “Tales of Persia,” trip, “once-forbidden,” is still forbidden, and letting anyone know you’re Jewish, or gay, isn’t particularly recommended, either, a representative told The Algemeiner on Monday.

How very 1938 of the Times. Can’t you just see exactly the same tour being given to Nazi Germany by the Progressives at the Times, all of whom would be overflowing with admiration for a powerful state that gives universal healthcare, discourages smoking, and designs fuel-efficient cars?

Did you know Hitler was a meth head?

This may be old news to some of you (indeed, I remember vaguely reading it somewhere), but it’s still a shock to read about the scope of Hitler’s doctor-approved drug abuse:

According to a 47-page wartime dossier compiled by American Military Intelligence, the Fuhrer was a famous hypochondriac and took over 74 different medications, including methamphetamines.

[snip]

He was initially prescribed a drug called Mutaflor in order to relieve the pain of his stomach cramps.

He was then prescribed Brom-Nervacit, a barbiturate, Eukodal, a morphine-based sedative, bulls’ semen to boost his testosterone, stimulants Coramine and Cardiazol, and Pervitin, an ‘alertness pill’ made with crystal meth-amphetamine.

One has to wonder how much all these drugs contributed to the paranoia and monamania that killed 40 million people, including 6 million Jews, in just six years.

No wonder conservatives are feeling apocalyptic….

The last couple of days have seen several conservative writers writing gloomy posts about America’s and the world’s slide into chaos, all under Obama’s aegis.

Roger L. Simon asks “Can It Possibly Get Any Worse?

Stephen F. Hayes looks at the “Failure Upon Failure” of the Obama presidency. In theory, the article should make for satisfying reading for those of us who figured Obama out on the first day but it’s actually just terribly depressing, because Obama’s failure is America’s failure.

Ed Driscoll notes that the Left is getting downhearted too, in “The ‘Bam Who Fell To Earth.

America’s campuses go full kangaroo court

Heather MacDonald is pleased about what she sees as neo-Victorianism on college campuses, by which she means the fact that colleges are starting to turn away from the hook-up culture and obsession with perverse sex that has characterized them for so many years. As the mother of a girl heading off to college one of these days, I’m delighted to learn that the sex saturated culture is finally drying up. However, as the mother of a boy who will also be heading off to college one of these days, I’m distressed that the change is coming about, not by demonizing the casual and perverse sex culture, but simply by demonizing boys and men.

As long as men leave the toilet seat up, why marry?

There must be as many reasons for the decline in marriage as their are non-married people. A female University of Washington professor thinks the decline in marriage is a good thing because men just aren’t very nice people to marry.

In keeping with her attack on men, I’d like pick up on a theme I touched upon years ago, when I first started blogging. Looking at the people I know, the couples I know, and the blogs I’ve read, I’ve concluded that liberal and conservative men are very different in their approach to women.

Liberal men applaud women in the abstract — calling them equal or superior, bowing before their right to do anything they damn well please, and feeling the need to apologize all the time for being men. Given all this, perhaps it’s not surprising that, except for the sex part, liberal men don’t seem to like actual women very much. If you constantly have to abase yourself before someone, it’s kind of going to kill the fun. Certainly, in my world, the harder Left men are politically, the meaner they are to the real women in their real lives.

Conversely, while conservative men believe in equity feminism (equal pay for equal work, equal access to opportunities on a level playing field), they view women as different from them and special in their own way. I’ve never seen a respectable conservative male blogger denigrate women, just as I’ve never seen one pretending there’s no difference, that women are superior, or that all men must perpetually apologize for erroneous opinions that men in past generations held about women. Conservative men have a better handle on the fact that, in a pre-industrial, pre-scientific era (that is, everything before about 1850), there was no way in Hell to pretend that men and women were fundamentally equal. Conservative men also seem not just to love the women in their lives, but truly to respect them.

So it seems to me that, amongst the Left, which is still driving the culture, marriage is less popular because feminism has made it reasonable for men to dislike women, and therefore to treat them disrespectfully, which in turn leads women to dislike men.

Very sad.

Andrew Klavan gives the American media a well-deserved shellacking

Still, there is beauty….

Adilyn Malcolm describes herself as follows:

Hi, I’m Adi! I’m 11 years old and I love dubstep! I have NEVER taken a dance class in my life………I learned from watching (YouTube) videos!! I have been dancing for about 6 months. I am actually a motocross racer but when I’m not on my bike, this is the next best thing! I hope you enjoy my videos. Thanks for watching!

Although the following is only her second video, she already has 2,421 subscribers and 2,005,997 views. You’ll see why she got so popular so fast when you watch her dance:

And a few pictures in lieu of thousands more words

A time saver for tall people

All I'm saying is Zombie movie

And, from Sadie (who provided the caption):

President Shiva

The real world of guns comes to my kids’ high school . . . maybe *UPDATED*

Main entrance to Redwood High School Larkspur

Both kids started texting me a few minutes ago, which came as a surprise, since they’re not supposed to text while class is in session.  In fact, class is not in session.  Instead, the school is in lock-down.  The rumor amongst the kids, all of whom are madly texting each other, is that there’s a kid with a gun roaming the school.  They don’t actually know.  What they know is that the police station is across the street, that when the lock-down started they were told it wasn’t a drill, and that there might have been a shot fired in a bathroom, but even that’s not certain.

The latest rumor is that the police did confiscate a gun, and are sweeping the school.  I’ll keep you posted.

UPDATE:  I know that, once we’re all home together, Mr. Bookworm will start ranting about the Second Amendment, and not in a good way.  He simply cannot comprehend that the best deterrent would be the armed person’s knowledge that each teacher has a gun.  I’m a whole lot more worried about deranged students than I am about a teacher with a concealed carry weapon suddenly going postal.  That’s especially true at this school, where the teachers have the world’s cushiest teaching job:  gorgeous environment, great pay and benefits, and no violent or otherwise awful students.

UPDATE II:  Lots of sirens in the distance, so I know that the police are still heading to the school, not away from it.

UPDATE III:  From one of my kids:  “I’m hearing a lot about someone planning a shooting.  A friend just texted me saying that her friend heard gunshots.  Not sure what’s going on, but still on lockdown.”

UPDATE IV:  The solidified rumor is that a kid — identity unknown — came to school intending to shoot one or more people, but something happened that tipped off the plan, leading to the lock-down and police presence.

UPDATE V:  The kids are more perturbed by the number of police showing up than they were about the original lock-down.  Or at least, that’s the excuse my younger one is using to argue that he shouldn’t have to go to school tomorrow.  I explained that, just as it’s probably pretty safe to fly after an airport or airline scare, because everyone is super vigilant, tomorrow should be a pretty safe day at school.

UPDATE VI:  The new rumor is that there was a large planned shooting and that the police are trying to get to the bottom of it.  I don’t know.  I see this as a rumor from my child who really, really would love to skip a day of school and is trying to spin the situation to his advantage.

UPDATE VII:  Now both children have announced that they’re done with school for the week:  “This is freaky.  We’ve been in lockdown for an hour now.  I don’t want to go to school tomorrow.”

UPDATE VIII:  And it’s over.  They’ve been released from lock-down and school continues as usual.  I can’t wait to see what the principal has to say about this in the email I know I’ll get soon.

UPDATE VIII: One of my kids filled me in on the latest rumors: Apparently several Marin high schools, not just Redwood, went into lock-down. That report came about because kids were texting their friends at other high schools who also said they were on lock-down. There were also rumors that someone was shot, although that appears to be untrue. What definitely happened was that, as the lock-down continued, people started hyperventilating and otherwise having panic attacks.

Now that the whole thing is over, Story One is that a kid was in the restroom trying to load a gun and dropped the bullets, giving the game away. Story Two is that a kid took out an insulin injector, someone saw it, thought it was a gun, and started the panic. It should be interesting to hear what really happened — or at least what the police and the school district are going to tell people really happened.

UPDATE IX: Yet another rumor: It was a BB gun. We do live in a paranoid age, although a BB gun certainly can do damage.

UPDATE X: And finally, the official word from the school newspaper, which is that the whole thing was much ado about nothing:

According to [Police Lieutenant Sean] Smith, the threat turned out to be a false alarm.

“After surveillance footage we looked at, we determined what student had come in to the bathroom and left, and what classroom he was going in. We made contact with him and brought him out, made sure he didn’t have anything on him,” Smith said. “The weapon turned out to be a medical pin that made a clicking noise, and the top had fallen off.”

The Bookworm Beat (9/26/14) — Friday wrap-up edition and Open Thread

Woman writingMy 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.”

Arm tomorrow's enemies

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?’

Rushing out the door Open Thread

Thought-Bubble-White-Board_8296556I was in perpetual motion yesterday, driving teenagers all over the place, to both sports and social activities. My day ended at 11:30 at night, by which time writing was no longer an option. Today is moving in the same direction. I’m leaving now for several hours of rec soccer and shopping, all of which are 40 miles from home. Still, I wanted to share a few things with you and leave you with some music.

Thing 1: As the Middle East gets worse and worse, with President Obama saying that he’s going to be, not just Commander in Chief, but the only commander, Leon Panetta breaks his silence to say that it was Obama’s idea — against the military’s best advice — to pull completely out of Iraq, creating the vacuum that the Islamic State has now filled. The only good thing I can think that’s coming from the current situation in Iraq is that, with Muslims from the world over answering the Islamic State’s siren song, destroying self-styled the Islamic State should be like shooting fish in a barrel. Too bad our military leader, instead of blowing up the whole damn barrel at once, plans to extract each individual fish with tweezers.

Thing 2: As the Democrats hammer away at the meme that American colleges and universities are more dangerous for women than South African slums, Glenn Reynolds has the answer:

The real problem, which the Democrats having created wish to ignore, is that parents and taxpayers are still funding colleges and universities that have abandoned their in loco parentis role. An 18 year old doesn’t have the sense to be released into the world without some oversight. Universities once gave that oversight. Now they just promote the myth that one in five women are going to be raped, without changing their anarchic culture of co-ed dorms, male and female binge drinking, and an administration that springs into action only after the fact, when it can persecute and, without due process, prosecute young men.

Thing 3: Beautiful, spooky, mystical pictures from panorama shots gone awry.

Music 1: A rock song with a country lyric: “I used to be love drunk; now I’m hungover.”

Music 2: A classic, from Harry James and Helen Forrester: