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:

The suggested list of books for a high school government class

Rear view of class raising handsIf you’re wondering why the younger generation blindly supported Obama through two elections; why they are reflexively hostile to conservatives and Republicans; and why, even though Obama has dismally failed them, they are incapable of considering another, less intrusive, approach to governance, just contemplate the list of books a local high school Government teacher recommended for the class’s mandatory reading requirement:

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I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking most (or all) of those books hew Left, way, way, way Left.

Since the list is supposed to consist of suggestions only, I’m trying to think of a few counter suggestions.  I need books that present conservative approaches to government and economics. Moreover, to the extent that a high schooler is going to be reading the book, I think my counter suggestion should be eminently readable and entertaining.  Of course, since I’m trying desperately to think of something quickly, before the weekend is over, I’m pulling a big, fat blank.

Still, keeping my requirements in mind (accessible, entertaining, easy-to-read), my top choice for a suggestion is Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Change, which I think is one of the most readable political books out there. Goldberg has an incredibly deft touch. He makes his points lightly, often humorously, without ever resorting to browbeating.

What do you guys think?

American schools are becoming segregated as a result of “culturism,” not racism

Desegregated classroomA friend asked me what I thought of an Atlantic article pointing to the fact that, sixty years after Brown v. Board of Education, America’s schools are once again becoming segregated, as whites (and Asians and East Indians) do whatever they can to flee predominantly black schools. Black schools are academically much, much weaker than white schools and, as the whites flee, the infrastructure of the schools declines.

The article focuses heavily on the fact that academically-oriented black children suffer badly from this de facto segregation, and strongly implies that white racism is at fault. I readily concede that this re-segregation is happening and that the tragic result is that bright black kids are having their futures destroyed. I don’t believe, though, that whites (and Asians and East Indians) are motivated by racism when they abandon previously integrated schools.

The problem isn’t race, it’s culture. (Call it “culturism,” if you will.)  Thus, white parents aren’t saying “I can’t let my little precious go to school with those black people because they are an inferior race who will taint her through contact.” Instead, what they’re saying is “I want my precious to have the best education possible and that requires, among other things, that the other families at the school have the same goal.”

What these white (and East Indian and Asian) parents know is that black culture is not education-oriented. Indeed, for some time, among the children at least, it’s been anti-education, with black children who work hard at school castigated by their black peers for “selling out” or being “Oreos.”

Hispanic culture is also resistant to education. As to that, I actually have some first hand anecdotal data from people who have worked closely with the Hispanic community in the education context.  In the late 1980s, very upper crust Hispanic friends of my family had set up an institution to try to teach Hispanic parents to encourage their children at school. These friends told me that the parents, most from rural areas, had the farmer’s mindset, which is to get the kids out of school and to work as soon as possible. Even though the parents came to America for economic opportunity, they couldn’t wrap their minds around the idea that, subject to some exceptions, education is the key to economic success in America. Children old enough to work were actively discouraged from seeking an education.

Twenty-five years later, my sister-in-law, who works in the Los Angeles school district, tells me the same story: Many Hispanic parents prefer their kids to earn some money sooner, rather than more money later. Sure, there’s a bell curve, with certain black or Hispanic kids and their families focused hungrily on an educational goal but, for the most part, neither the children nor their parents focus their energy on education.

White, Asian, and East Indian cultures, for the most part, are obsessed about education as a necessity for thriving in America. Parents in these cultures understand that the school’s intellectual environment matters.  If the school culture sees every parent in the community demanding hard work and high grades, that will trickle down to the children, who will create a competitive, exciting academic culture. So yes, white parents are fleeing predominantly black schools (and doing so in whatever way possible), but they’re not doing so for the old-fashioned racial reasons. It’s all about education cultures versus anti-education cultures.  Culturism, right?

I anticipate that someone will point out that the same article says that, when the schools were first integrated, the integration was successful. I don’t doubt that. Back then, integrated schools were thrilling, shiny, new toys. As the toys lost their gloss, though, people made less of an effort.

More importantly, though, the integration happened thirty-five years ago. That’s an important date, because it was before political correctness came along to poison things. In the late 1970s and throughout most of the 1980s, teachers could reasonably expect equal effort from Joe Black and Moe White.

Thanks to the scourge of political correctness, however, it’s now racist to expect black students to work as hard and perform as well as white students. Heck, with microaggression, a new twist on political correctness, it’s even racist if the teacher, when he walks into the classroom, says good morning to Moe White before he says it to Joe Black — never mind that Moe White sits next to the door, while Joe Black sits on the opposite site of the classroom.

Culture, not race. Culture, not race. Culture, not race…. Although that’s not quite true.

There is a horrible racism pervading the American education system, but it comes from the Left. The Left has successfully argued that blacks are so mentally inferior to other races that they are incapable of elevating their culture to include good behavior, hard work, and ambition. Until that grotesque Leftist racism is killed, and blacks are recognized as fully equal to other races, and therefore capable of academic rigor, whites, Asians, and East Indians will do anything they can to insulate their children from black (and Hispanic) culture in America’s public schools.

Higher education: desperately selling a grossly overpriced, generic product in America

collegecampusThe other night, I attended a college fair with my high schooler.  It featured representatives from perhaps 100 different colleges, each of them standing behind their particular space at row upon row of tables.  Hundreds of teenagers and their parents milled about, approaching one or another table to get the shtick about a specific school.

We must have spoken to about 15 different representatives from various colleges across the United States.  None of the Ivy Leagues were there, but there was a good sampling of top public and private colleges, as well as a representative sampling of all the other 1,400 private liberal arts colleges scattered throughout America.

I was impressed — very impressed — by how generic they were.  Barring college location and campus size, all but two of them gave the same shtick:  excellent faculty, small classroom size, a smorgasbord of study abroad programs (all of which seem to involve one form or another of staying in an American bubble), quality sports facilities, attentive faculty members, ridiculously high tuition, and a commitment to social justice.  I actually felt sorry for the various representatives, struggling desperately to distinguish themselves from each other when it was manifestly obvious that they had nothing unique to offer.

There were, though, two exceptions.  The representative from the University of Washington, which local kids consider a premium public university, appeared to have checked out.  He had no shtick and, whenever possible, answered most questions with the words “yes” or “no.”  When pushed, the only substantive information he offered was that, yes, of course UW had massive classes with hundreds of students listening to lectures, and that the smaller classes were taught by graduate students.  “Let’s get out of here,” my kid whispered to me.

The other exception was Northeastern, which has a program called COOP (short for cooperative).  In this program, students work for six months out of the year, every year, for two to three years (depending upon whether they want to graduate in four or five years).  When they work, they really work, at a full-time, salaried internship.  What the university offers them is training in resume writing and building, interviewing techniques, and workplace behavior.  More than that, the school offers them an entrée into premium work places such as Microsoft or Virgin or other hot, popular jobs, including jobs overseas.  Because the students are working for six months, they then have to attend summer school to make up for the missed classroom time.  Work and school take up their entire year.

Unlike all the other colleges assembled in that room, Northeastern had interested applicants lined up six deep.  The school was selling something new, different, and eminently practical, and students and their parents responded enthusiastically.  Having a college create a program with real world implications, even for liberal arts majors, is exciting.  People seemed to like this entrepreneurial, capitalist bent, although the Northeastern materials zealously promote their commitment to social justice too.  (Indeed, Northeastern’s home page, which shows happy graduates examining their newly issued diplomas, prominently features a woman wearing a hijab under her mortar board.)

To my teen’s delight, I was very pleasant to the representatives, and didn’t ask them to tell me about their campus’ policies towards the boycott, divest, and sanction movement or their campus’ version of Sex Week, and I kept my mouth shut about the high incidences of rape on their campuses and the kangaroo show trials that follow on the heels of these excessive rape claims.  I did break once, though.  When we were at the Sarah Lawrence table, one of the prominent displays was its boast about the five or six cities abroad in which it maintains a campus presence so that its students can have the Sarah Lawrence experience overseas.  One of the campuses is in Havana.

I assured the very nice representative that what I was about to say wasn’t directed at him personally, and then told him that it was an embarrassment and disgrace that Sarah Lawrence would boast about having an academic facility in a police state.  While Cuba isn’t as bad as North Korea, I said, that wasn’t an excuse.  It’s still a repressive regime that routinely imprisons its citizens for thought crimes and that denies them basic human rights.

The representative mumbled about the program going back to the early 1970s, which I said was no excuse, and he also said that students came back concerned about human rights.  I would have pursued this (“Whose human rights?  The imprisoned Cubans’ rights or are the returned students parroting even louder the usual “social justice” stuff that turns America’s young people into fascists at home?”), but my mortified teen dragged me away.

It’s clear that American education is a bubble that’s about to burst.  I just wish it would burst immediately.  I suspect that, with my usual bad timing, it will burst only after I’ve already spent ridiculous sums on my children’s “higher” education.

Indoctrination at schools focuses on fantasy ills, while simultaneously denying reality

GaslandAmerica’s educational institutions aren’t taking antisemitism seriously — despite the mount of proof (often from the killers themselves) showing that tens of millions have died from antisemitism over the centuries.

Meanwhile, as antisemitism surges unchecked on America’s campuses, schools are taking very seriously fracking, even in the absence of any proof that it’s killed any one, ever.

It’s possible that schools aren’t taking antisemitism seriously because, at least in some schools, denying it is part of their curriculum: Witness the now-infamous Common Core assignment in the Rialto Unified School District directing all 8th graders to read Holocaust denial literature and than write essays denying the Holocaust.

And here’s an interesting tidbit: this Common Core assignment took place on the watch of an Interim Superintendent named Mohammad Z. Islam. The District’s story is that Islam knew nothing about the assignment and was appropriately shocked when he learned what had happened. There’s no reason at this point to disbelieve that assertion.

Islam, 57, grew up in Bangladash, where he saw the damage done by denying people access to education. He’s a finance guy, and worked as the CFO in the San Bernardino school district. He was then invited to step into the Rialto district after the former superintendent “retired” following the district accountant’s arrest for embezzling $1.8 million. Islam was seen as the antidote to chaos and corruption. Islam could well be a stand-up kind of guy. In that case, it’s very unfortunate that he has a name that many people consider consistent with a belief system that denies that the Holocaust happened.

What’s quite obvious is that more and more American public schools are abandoning classical education — when that looks to facts and analysis — in favor of a Leftist hodge podge of propaganda on everything from climate to the Holocaust.

The dangerous rise of anti-Semitism on American college campuses

Swastika at UC DavisThis is a useful companion piece to my earlier post about the antisemitic images making the round on Facebook, comparing Jacob Rothschild to the incredibly evil Mr. Burns on The Simpsons.  Guest-posting at The Independent Sentinel, Tammi Rossman-Benjamin looks at the rising anti-Semitism on America’s college campuses, and she does so in a very clever way. Rather than just pointing to the acts of anti-Semitism, she compares the college and media responses to anti-Semitism, versus the same institutions’ responses to anti-Black, anti-gay, anti-Hispanic acts.