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 (10/14/14) — Quotable quotes edition (and Open Thread)

Woman writingStill catching up from the devastation that yesterday wrought on my schedule. However, I had the chance to read a few good things:

Ken Braun: The real unemployment is much higher and most Americans know it:

Regardless of reasons, the net effect of a steadily rising adult population and sharply falling labor force isn’t pretty. It’s as if 217,000 adults joined the economy during the last month and yet made no attempt to help out. And on top of that, an additional 98,000 who were doing something in August also halted any attempt to pull a handle on our economic wagon in September. The headline number released last week – 248,000 new jobs created during September – pales in comparison to the much larger exodus of job seekers from our labor force.

Victor Davis Hanson: Ruins of the Middle East:

In order to win over the Islamic street, Obama has tried almost everything to remind the Middle East that America is no longer run by a white male conservative from a Texas oil family. His multifaceted efforts have ranged from the fundamental to the ridiculous. The Al Arabiya interview, the Cairo Speech, the apology tour, the loud (but hypocritical) disparagement of the Bush-Cheney anti-terrorism protocols, the new euphemisms for jihadist terror, the multicultural trendy pronunciation of Talîban and Pâkistan, and references to his father’s religion and his own middle name resulted in American popularity ratings in many Middle Eastern countries lower than during the Bush administration. In the Middle East, the only thing worse than being unapologetically proud of past U.S. foreign policy is being obsequiously ashamed of it.

Dennis Prager: It’s All About The Party:

Obamacare provides an excellent example of why “voting for the candidate” is an act of self-delusion. Every vote for this medical and economic transformation of America came from Democrats in the House and Senate; and every single Republican, even the most “moderate,” voted against it. Regarding the most destructive legislation in modern American history, “the candidate” didn’t mean a thing. Party meant everything.

This may be the primary reason Republicans do not do better in a country in which few of its citizens identify themselves as “Left”: Republicans run against their opponents, rather than against the Left and the Democratic party. That’s what Mitt Romney did, and that’s why he lost an election that he should have won. Romney never defined his presidential campaign as being opposed to the Left or to the Democratic party. It was solely against Barack Obama, a popular president at the time and the first black ever to serve as president, something that continued to mean a lot to many Americans who hoped that this fact would reduce black animosity toward white America.

Michael Rubin: Ebola is 1981 Flu, Not AIDS:

While the spread of AIDS scared society—largely because so much about it at the time was unknown—a better analogy to the spread of Ebola may be the infamous influenza epidemic of 1918.

The scariest thing about the 1918 flu was that it killed not simply children, the old, and the infirm, but also those who were healthy and at the peak of physical fitness. In the United States, 99 percent of the flu’s victims were under 65 years old, and half the victims were between 20 and 40.

To be in the prime of life and health is no defense against Ebola, and being in the military may actually increase risk: Anyone who has ever spent time around American soldiers—and those from many other Western nations—knows the commitment each has to physical fitness and working out. On Army bases and on Navy ships, there are often lines for equipment or exercise stations at the gym. This may sound silly, and of course the Pentagon theoretically will put restrictions and regulations in place, but sweat is sweat.

[Bookworm here: If you're interested in the 1918 flu pandemic, I recommend John M. Barry's The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History]

Daily Mail: ‘Origami’ condoms, Michelle Obama gardening games and poop-throwing chimps: NIH spent millions on wacky projects but now complains cuts killed off Ebola vaccine research:

The $30 billion U.S. National Institutes of Health blamed tightening federal budgets on Monday for its inability to produce an Ebola vaccine, but a review of its grant-making history in the last 10 years has turned up highly unusual research that redirected precious funds away from more conventional public health projects.

The projects included $2.4 million to develop ‘origami’ condoms designed with Japanese folding paper in mind, and $939,000 to find out that male fruit flies prefer to romance younger females because the girl-flies’ hormone levels drop over time.

Other winners of NIH grants consumed $325,000 to learn that marriages are happier when wives calm down more quickly during arguments with their husbands, and $257,000 to make an online game as a companion to first lady Michelle Obama’s White House garden.

The agency also spent $117,000 in taxpayers’ grant dollars to discover that most chimpanzees are right-handed.

Bret Stephens: Obama Survival Manual, Intl Edition:

Each comment makes the same essential point: Don’t fear America, don’t trust America, don’t wait for American rescue. A corollary point, surely not lost on Mr. Putin, Ayatollah Khamenei and other rogues is that they have a free hand at least until January 2017. The conclusion: If ever there was a time to revise their regional orders in ways more to their liking, better to do so now, when there’s a self-infatuated weakling in the White House.

Jonah Goldberg: Culture Wars All The Way Down:

Let’s imagine that America’s national interest is completely disconnected from the domestic news cycle. It’s not a difficult thing to imagine, given that it is so often true. But let’s imagine that the disconnect is even more total. The press never covered the Islamic State. Never reported on the slaughter in Iraq and Syria. Never raised any concerns about what the rise of a terrorist army says about Obama’s foreign policy or our long-term interests in the region. The press focused instead on George Clooney’s wedding, events in Ferguson, Mo., and how awesome Lena Dunham is. Again, this isn’t a hugely difficult mental exercise.

In short, imagine the rise of the Islamic State over the summer presented all of the same national-security and humanitarian problems, but no political problems for Obama. Now ask yourself, would Obama have done anything about it?

An embarassment of riches; or links to all over

Quick Link and Open Thread image

There’s so much good stuff out there, I’m just going to spill it all here, a la Instapundit.

Jonathan Tobin doubts that Obama’s upcoming three-week long “Sham-Wow” commercial for ObamaCare will miraculously turn around the public’s perception that the program is a failure and the president a liar.

The success of the president’s snake-oil show is especially doubtful given that the narcissists in the White House are now blaming the public for the website’s manifest failings.

Oh, and Obama junket will also have dubious success because news is leaking out that the Obamacare site is a hacker’s wet dream.

Right now, it looks as if Obama has finally been unable to fool all of the people all of the time, at least when it comes to Obamacare.

After Chief Justice Roberts resuscitated Obamacare, I find it hard to imagine the courts dismantling that monstrosity.  Still, it’s possible.

For people who want to see the inevitable graveyard of Obama’s anti-capitalist, anti-freedom, redistributionist policies, they need look no further than Venezuela, where the country has gone from stable to basket-case in a decade.

If you want to renew your driver’s license in Oregon, you’d better come in prepared with every bit of proof known to man showing that you are who you say you are.  Interestingly, though, you don’t need to show any ID to vote in Oregon.  Just sayin’.

I was reading Glenn Reynold’s article explaining why we should abolish the TSA, and I was nodding so hard in agreement, I looked like one of those bobble-head dolls in someone’s car.

I could dig up the zillions of posts I’ve done about the way in which the welfare state destroyed the black community because it was rational for blacks to put forth less effort.  I won’t though.  Thomas Sowell makes the same point, only he does so brilliantly in his article about test scores.

When you’re George Bush and increase AIDS aid to Africa, you’re reviled; when you’re Hillary Clinton and you decrease AIDS aid to Africa, you get a reward from the AIDS Foundation.  It’s not what you do, it’s whether there’s an “R” or a “D” after your name.

Regarding Iran, here’s the good news:  Obama’s an idiot, but the Iranians aren’t necessarily that smart (although, so far, their madman chess is a lot more successful than Obama’s amateur basketball).

On Passover, Jews the world ask “Why is this night different from all other nights?”  When it comes to Islam, if you still find yourself “Why is this religion different from all other religions?”, you’re not asking that because you’re engaging in a timeless religious ritual.  Instead, if you still have to ask that question you, like our President, are an idiot.  Islam is indeed different from all other religions and that difference lies in the fact that it’s utterly barbaric as written and as practiced.

No, Obama is not Hitler.  (He’s more Neville Chamberlain, with a large dollop of the Hugo Chavez school of economics.)  Nevertheless, the Dems couldn’t have been more tin-eared when they came up with “White House Youth” or WHYouth (to which I either want to answer, Why not? or I want to do an endless bullet-point list explaining why you’re not getting good public policy if you look to young people as your guide).

I’m sure there’s someone in the British government who could be dragged to a microphone to say, “Hey, some of my best friends are Jews.”  Nah!  Not really.  Because there’s no one left in Britain who could say that with a straight face, why Britain was able to ban Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller from entering England in part on the ground that they were pro-Israel.

Is it the Onion or is it just an ordinary Progressive news report about businesses in America?

And finally, if you’re a veteran and you can’t get a gun, Dom Raso has some helpful practical advice.

Another Progressive showdown between ideology and reality

I was in San Francisco during the peak AIDS years.  I remember how death stalked the streets (many, many people I knew died) and I remember how deeply in denial the gay community was.  The most visible sign of that denial was the fight to keep open the gay bath houses, which were scenes of unbridled debauchery and major vectors in spreading AIDS.  There was nothing untoward in the city’s trying to shut the bathhouses down, since the city’s efforts to control an epidemic’s spread fell squarely within government’s traditional role.

At the New Yorker, Michael Specter has written an article that reports something that people familiar with the modern gay community tend to notice on an annual basis:  young gay men have forgotten the scourge, and are repeating the pattern of unbridled, unprotected, promiscuous sex (on a scale heterosexuals cannot imagine) coupled with drug use.  It’s how AIDS gained such a foothold in America last time, rather than living on only in dusty medical journals, and it’s a worrisome sign that AIDS could be resurgent or that something equally awful could take its place (especially today, when we’re reaching limits on our antibiotics).

Specter’s article heads today’s New Yorker’s “most read” list.  It therefore makes a nice matched set with today’s news, which is that men who are openly gay and bisexual are trying to end the ban on blood donations:

A push by activists to ease the 30-year-old blanket ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men faces a key test this week as a federal panel hears results of the latest research. The findings will be released amid growing pressure from politicians and advocates, including college students, to change the policy.

Critics say the ban is a hangover from the early, fear-filled days of AIDS, stigmatizing gay men and ignoring advances in treatment and detection in the decades since.

Yes, the blood-donation ban is a hangover from the early days of AIDS, and yes, we have better techniques for screening blood . . . for HIV and AIDS.  Given that gay men are engaging in the same behavior that led to AIDS’ rapid spread, though, it’s sensible to worry that they might be acting as the vector from some nasty new disease for which we don’t yet have either screening techniques or treatments.

(I’ve sometimes wondered if my resistance to gay marriage doesn’t stem from the fact that I remember vividly the 1970s and early 1980s in San Francisco. Gay activists over the past twenty-plus years have advanced the gay marriage agenda by painting gay couples as ordinary middle class couples. That’s not the way I remember them. People having drug-fueled orgies with up to a hundred partners, all of them strangers, is not the middle class norm. The San Francisco Gay Pride parade does not present the middle class norm. The public nudity and sex that is a strong feature of the San Francisco gay scene is not the middle class norm. While there are indeed stable middle class gay couples — I know several such couples — I also know that they’re not the norm.)

A world without consequences

If you’re on the political Left, have we created a world without consequences?  I first started thinking this when someone I know called Bristol Palin a slut because she had a baby.  Not because she had premarital sex or got pregnant, but because she had a baby.  Girls in Marin, who are also have premarital sex and probably getting pregnant, are not sluts, because they have abortions.  It’s a perfect example of Leftist consequence-free ideology.  Not only are you free from the burdens of a baby (and, while there are joys, the burdens are undeniable), you’re also not a slut.

Confess that it was your lack of responsibility that Left four men dead in Benghazi, not to mention massive amounts of confidential information in Al Qaeda’s hands, and nothing happens.  In a normal world, Hillary would have been fired.  In Leftist world, she’s applauded for confessing.

Break all of your campaign promises — close Gitmo, lower unemployment, reduce an “unpatriotic” deficit, lower the seas, avoid involvement in other wars, make the world love us — and there are no consequences.  Instead, if you’re Obama, you get reelected.

This sounds like a pretty peachy keen world from a kids’ eye view:  Endless actions without consequences.  I’m not sure this center will hold, though.  In the 1970s, gay men thought they had it all — unlimited sex and antibiotic resistant sexually transmitted diseases — but AIDS came along.  Those women who’ve had repeated abortions have too often discovered that when they want to get pregnant, they can’t.  (I don’t know the statistics on this last one, but I know personally many women  who have experienced this.)  Mother Nature eventually makes her point.

Will the political world eventually spell out its consequences too, irrespective of human intervention?  Will the Hillary’s and the Obama’s eventually experience the natural consequences of their actions?  If conservativism comes to the fore, they will.  But what if it doesn’t?  What will be the stopping point for their current ability to behave as they will without any downside?

 

Three things I found interesting

I’m processing (that’s a euphemism for “paying”) bills, which is hogging a ridiculous amount of the space in my head.  Nevertheless, there are three things I wanted to bring to your attention.

First, you’ve probably heard already that Obama, as part of his proposal to cut military spending, is slashing military health benefits, even while leaving civilian health benefits untouched.  All the obvious stuff about his animus towards the military and his effort to steer military personnel into the ObamaCare scheme has already been said.  My thoughts headed in a different direction.  One of the things that happens every election is that the Secretaries of State in Democrat strongholds somehow can’t get their act together so as to get timely absentee ballots to the military.  When I read a report saying that the military is less monolithically Republican than everyone (including those Secretaries of State) had assumed, I wondered if that would speed up the absentee ballot process.  Now, I’m thinking that the military will be lucky if it gets its absentee ballots by 2013.

Wikileaks is now publishing Stratfor emails.  Stratfor is responding by suggesting that a lot of the material being published has been falsified, but is refusing to comment as to any of it.  I think this is a smart tactic, since it induces a note of doubt about the reliability of any of this stolen material.  As far as I know, Stratfor deals only with publicly available information, from which it draws its conclusions.  However, to the extent that its clients provide it with information in their requests for services, this is a devastating commercial blow, not just to Stratfor, but to corporations around the world.

AIDS isn’t a naturally occurring biological phenomenon.  AIDS also isn’t a product of historically anomalous rates of promiscuity and intravenous drug use that allowed it to spread throughout the Western world with unstoppable force in the early 1980s.  Nope.  AIDS is the fault of Western Colonialism.  But you knew that, didn’t you?

Please feel free to add in your comments anything you find interesting.

Obama bails on African AIDS

Whenever it comes to mentioning presidential policy, this New York Times article about the collapse of AIDS care in Africa is studiously neutral.  Read between the lines (and make it almost to the end of the article), though, and you’ll see the truth peek out:  Bush, the quintessential “white man,” helped Africa enormously, while Obama, the self-identified “black man” on the census form, is abandoning African AIDS.

‘Nuff said.  The irony meter is clanging loudly.

Will there be a cause-effect here?

One of the saddest aspects of 21st Century male-female relationships is the “hooking up” culture — a concept that takes the love and affection and commitment out of male-female relationships, and just turns them into insta-sex moments.  There is every reason to believe that this new culture is especially damaging to women, who seem to be hard wired to connect love and sex.  Ironically, though, feminists tout it as some wonderful equality thing, even though the only person who would approve of it wholeheartedly, and who has been advocating it for 50 plus years, is Hugh Hefner.

Putting aside the ramifications for women (all negative, I think), it does occur to me that there might be one somewhat weird byproduct of this hooking up culture, and that is a lessening in the number of gay men.  My theory arises from the premise that, at least according to Kinsey, while some men are entirely heterosexual, and some entirely homosexual, there are guys in the middle who can go either way, depending on the opportunity offered.

Growing up in San Francisco in the wild 70s, I concluded that a lot of the gays in San Francisco were guys who could go either way, depending on cultural norms, and who chose gay sex because of the availability of unlimited, emotion-free sex.  In the old days of male-female relationships (before gays came out of the closet), unless you wanted to pay for it, getting sex meant investments of time, money and emotional energy.  Even if you (the guy) didn’t feel a loving emotion for the girl, you’d better pretend there was one if you wanted her to put out.

For those who valued orgasms more than relationships, though, and who weren’t squeamish about gay sex, the bathhouses were a dream come true.  With a little help from drugs (poppers, I think), it was entirely possible to have dozens of emotion-free sexual contacts in a single night.  In other words, the gay bathhouses made the fantasy of unlimited sexual encounters entirely feasible, and thousands of men embraced it — to their eternal, HIV-ridden regret.

Under the new hook-up paradigm, those men who are sexually open to going either way, even though they prefer women, and who enjoy the male fantasy of sex without the burdens of commitment and emotions, finally can have it all.  They can stay on the heterosexual side of the street, but get all the “no-strings” sex they want (and without having to pay for it either).  Of course, aside from the fact that this culture seems to be very, very, very damaging to young women’s psyches, I also fear another HIV-ridden regret cycle, one that will be especially hard on women, who seem to be more vulnerable to the virus.

Hat tip:  Suek

The resurgent gay plague

Robert Knight wrote a long article commenting on a Washington Post article stating that homophobia is the main cause of  a huge increase in AIDS among the world’s homosexual population.  Here’s the WaPo take on the subject:

Twenty-five years after AIDS was branded the “gay plague,” the virus is again exacting a disproportionate toll on men who have sex with men, not only in the United States but also in countries where the epidemic is just emerging.

Globally, men who engage in homosexual relations are 19 times as likely to contract HIV as the rest of the population, according to data released at the International AIDS Conference. Here in Mexico, men who have sex with men are 109 times as likely as others to develop HIV, while in the United States, 53 percent of new infections in 2006 were in gay and bisexual men.

Homophobia, biology and misplaced confidence that AIDS has become a treatable chronic illness are contributing to a disturbing flashback among scientists and activists, who say much of the world appears to have forgotten the early lessons of the AIDS epidemic.

To Knight, it’s ludicrous that the WaPo writer lists homophobia (as in “people are afraid to get treatment”) as the top cause for the disease’s resurgence.  Knight points to a little thing called personal responsibility:  less promiscuity, more safe sex.

This whole thing sent me whirling back through time to the summer of 1981.  That was the year I got a job in a research lab as the secretary to two virologists.  That was also the year that AIDS was first appearing as a blip on the medical establishment’s radar.  It wasn’t until 1982 that AIDS was a headline, rather than a minor medical conundrum.  (I can place these events so exactly because the job was before I left for England, and AIDS as an explosive news story was after I came back from England.  Given that I knew about the situation long before just about everyone else, I followed the stories with avid, and fairly informed interest.)

What I remember from the myriad articles and letters I typed up back in 1981 was the limited information that these virologists had to work with, information gathered mostly from physicians in New York and San Francisco.  What we knew then was that a small number of gay men were presenting with two hitherto rare diseases:  Kaposi’s Sarcoma and Pneumocystis carinii.  If I remember correctly, this was extremely bewildering, because KS had never before appeared to be a contagious cancer, while Pneumocystis carinii was a disease of the aged, not of healthy young men.  The virologists, still only groping towards the idea that they were looking at compromised immune systems, were worried that two hitherto rare and mostly non-contagious illnesses might have turned into epidemic diseases that could infect the rest of the population.

What my employers also knew about this handful of gay men with these bizarre dieases (and it really was a handful, perhaps 25 or 30 at that time), was that they were exceptionally promiscuous.  These sick men had hundreds of partners per year, through the bath houses and the discos.  Their drug of choice was poppers, rather than intravenous drugs.  In other words, all of the sick men in this small sample had three things in common:  KS, pneumocystis, and Olympian promiscuity.  Put the three together, and it was obvious that these guys were not ill because they were afraid to go to a doctor; they were ill because something in their lifestyle had either caused fairly rare diseases to morph into monsters diseases, or had created a whole new virus that made them vulnerable to ordinary diseases.  As it turned out, the latter hypothesis was true.

Given how quickly AIDS was politicized, it’s very easy to forget AIDS’ humble beginnings in America.  Those beginnings, however, readily put the lie to a belief that homophobia spreads the disease.  What spreads the disease is behavior.  And in a world saturated with AIDS information, in a way unimaginable back in that summer of 1981, personal responsibility has to be the frontline in the battle against the spread of homosexual AIDS.

(BTW, I have the sense that Ceci Connolly, who authored the WaPo article, is a fairly young woman.  She came of age after AIDS was completely politicized, and probably has no adult memory of the period when it was a nascent disease.)

(Second BTW:  I feel compelled to add here a caveat since I’m posting about a fairly sensitive subject.  I am a libertarian.  I do not have a problem with gay sex — although I want it to take place in the privacy of people’s homes, not on public streets.  However, since I am a libertarian, I also believe that personal responsibility is an essential element of any type of sex, gay or straight, and that’s what this post is about.)