The life and death importance of calling things by their proper names

1947 Currer and Ives print of Adam naming the animalsMost people, when they think of Genesis, remember that God created everything, told Adam and Eve to leave the tree of knowledge and, when they didn’t, kicked them out of Eden.  What few remember is Genesis’s insistent focus on the importance of naming things.  In the first chapter, God no sooner creates something, than he gives it its rightful name (emphasis mine):

  1. In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
  2. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
  3. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
  4. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
  5. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
  6. And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
  7. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
  8. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
  9. And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
  10. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.

And so it goes, with God systematically creating the world and naming it as he went.

In the second chapter of Genesis, God designates to Adam the primary task of assigning the proper name to each of God’s creations (emphasis mine):

  1. And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.
  2. And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.
  3. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.
  4. And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
  5. And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
  6. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.

What Genesis establishes is that identifying things is essential to understanding their function.  Only when Adam had named the animals, properly classifying them as any modern-day scientist would, did he and God determine that Adam had no mate.  And once God created that mate for Adam, Adam again had to give her species a name, one that he chose in relationship to his own species:  “she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”

Leftists are fully alive to the importance of naming things.  For example, when Obama came into office, “terrorism” was out; “man-caused disaster” was in.  Man-caused or not, “disaster” has such a such a pleasantly accidental connotation.  You have your earthquakes, tornadoes, and hurricanes on the one hand, and on the other hand you have your men who cause disasters.  That these men happen to be devotees of a cult committed to spreading violence and death wherever it goes is as incidental as the precise wind speed during a hurricane or the decimal valuations on the Richter scale separating one big quake from another.

And yes, Bush created the abstract “War on Terror” designation rather than the more accurate War on Radical Islamists, but at least he was acknowledging that those pesky man-causers were actually trying to instill terror.  It was the Obama administration that found even that definition too raw and real.

Obama on Wheel of fortune

ISIS’s rise has given Obama plenty of opportunities to try to define away problems.  Having unsuccessfully described the nascent ISIS army as a “JV team,” Obama decided to define ISIS right out of Islam.  ISIS he opined, is un-Islamic, because a good God wouldn’t countenance its appalling violence.

Well, maybe a good God wouldn’t countenance appalling violence, but it’s a historical reality that a certain prophet would.  Mohamed was very clear when it came to demanding that each good Muslim wage war to spread Islam, behead non-believers, and enslave those who were not beheaded (with sex-slavery being the chosen outcome for surviving women).

Intriguingly, the Qur’an, which is normally a very straightforward book when it comes to describing a binary world of peace under Islam and war as a precursor to Islam, also does a little fudging with labels itself.  For years I’ve seen Muslim-apologists claim that the Qur’an, at 5:32, explicitly disavows violence.  For example, this poster crops up periodically:

Mohammad on killing innocent human beings

It doesn’t seem to occur to any of the apologists that other chapters and verses in the Qur’an, with their litany of punitive acts that must be committed against Mohamed’s many enemies, make it plain that non-believers, especially Jews, are not innocents.  Likewise, apostate Muslims aren’t innocents.  And of course, Christians and Hindus aren’t innocents.  Oh, and devout Muslims who practice the “correct” form of Islam, but somehow run afoul of Mohamed’s dictates, even if they do so unintentionally or through ignorance, are also not innocents.

Indeed, once one gets down to it, it’s clear that the only “innocents” among us are those who practice the “correct” version of Islam, and who do so without ever committing an error — and really, there’s just no reason to kill them in the first place according to the Qur’an.  Let’s just say that, if I were the lawyer advising Mohamed regarding all the many acts of violence, rapine, and murder that he demands of his followers, I would recommend that he insert just such a meaningless paragraph as an “out” should he ever be called upon to defend this blood-thirstiness.

But getting back to things here in America….

Jonah Goldberg is so disturbed by the “naming” problem that’s infected the early 21st century that he’s penning an entire book on the degradation of names for very important things under Obama’s watch.  Taking a page out of Confucius, Goldberg is working on the “rectification of names.”  According to him, “society goes ass-over-teakettle (to borrow a phrase from the academic literature) when names no longer describe the things they are assigned to.”  Exactly.

And now I’ll explain to you what got me all heated up about this “naming” thing.  It may surprise what did not excite my ire today.  Today, I’m not upset that our political class, from the White House down to the police department in Oklahoma City, refuses to admit that, even if a killer is acting alone, when that killer shouts “Allahu Akbar” or beheads people or openly dedicates his life to jihad, while his violence may occur in the workplace, we are not seeing “workplace violence.”  We are, instead, seeing a pernicious type of Islamic violence that needs to be named, shamed, and destroyed.

Nope, what worked me up was something entirely different.  Yesterday I spoke with a physician who was saying that his health care group is running into very specific problems when treating people who have had sex change operations.  It all goes back to the computer systems that Obamacare insists all doctors and hospitals have.

At least for this doctor’s health care group, when it comes to assigning a person’s sex in the health center’s computer system, the health center’s policy, after a sex change operation (whether or not the health center performed that operation), is to assign to the person that person’s “preferred” sex.  What this means is that, if Jane Smith comes to the hospital, has her breasts sliced off, has excess flesh shaped into a simulacrum of a penis and testicle sac, and begins taking hormones to coarsen skin, create facial hair, and develop male-pattern baldness, the fact that Jane now identifies herself as John Smith means that the health center must change her sex in the computer system from “female” to “male.”

The problem is that, for all the superficial changes Jane went through to become John, the biological reality is that she’s still Jane — she has a uterus and ovaries (unless she joined a hysterectomy with the rest of her surgery).  That biological reality explains how you can end up with flesh-and-blood oxymorons such as a “pregnant man”:

Pregnant man

At the hospital level, the political correctness of letting patients identify with their cosmetic sex, as opposed to their birth sex, means that they don’t get treated for diseases unique to the sex embedded in their DNA (XX or XY).  This problem is different from things such as the male-to-female transgender who, once he takes female hormones, becomes prone to breast cancer. Instead, this problem lies with core matters of self-identification versus real identification — people aren’t getting the health care their DNA demands.

Our hypothetical “John Smith,” for example, isn’t going to get annual notices that “he” needs to get a pap smear. If John doesn’t go to an OB/GYN, because John is a “man,” John’s at higher risk of uterine and ovarian cancer — both of which are treatable if caught early, and both of which are expensive and, sadly, fatal if caught late.  Likewise, if John has a friend who once was Paul, but is now Paulina, when Paulina goes to the doctor, there’s a good chance “she” won’t be getting her prostate checked nor will she be getting appropriate checks for heart disease. Both John and Pauline are at greater risk of entirely preventable problems because they have demanded that the hospital ignore what’s going on beneath their cosmetically- and hormonally-altered appearance.

Here’s where I stand on the matter should I ever meet John Smith:  In all social settings, I will be completely willing to acknowledge his chosen identification as a male. That will probably be true too in most work situations. But I will not ever allow myself to believe that he’s actually male. He is pretending. If it makes him happy, I’m good with it. But I won’t delude myself that it means that I should enlist him in the military and pretend that he is, in all respects, a male. Likewise, when I meet Paulina, I’ll call her “Ms” if she likes, but I won’t allow her to get into a Mixed Martial Artist cage with me in the women’s class.

Moreover, at home, I’m not going to tell my children that a transgender person has magically been transformed into the sex of his or her choice. What I will do, though, is tell them that, whenever possiblethey should accord that person respect, they should never bully that person or discriminate against that person, and they should use the pronouns and honorifics that the person prefers to have applied to himself or herself. And that’s it. Naming things matters and, until we acknowledge what something really is, rather than what we want it to be, we will be, as Goldberg says, a society that is “ass-over-teakettle.”

All gender bathroom

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?’

Wednesday morning round-up and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesWhether you devour this post in one fell swoop or nibble at it throughout the day, I can guarantee you a lot of food for thought:

The VA scandal is gaining traction, as word comes out that the VA already knew back in 2010 that hospitals were manipulating records. Robert Petzel, the top health official for the Department of Veterans Affairs, has resigned ahead of his previously announced retirement, showing that at least someone understands that part of taking responsibility for a job is that you look like you’re getting fired, or fire yourself, when you fail in that role.

Obama, who has never worked in the private sector, still hasn’t figured out that ordinary people, accustomed to private sector job losses for workplace malfeasance, believe it’s appropriate for heads to roll. How else can one explain that, not only is Obama keeping on VA Secretary Ric Shinseki, he’s praising him for a job well done.

***

The risks from the VA scandal extend beyond any immediate political fallout. Indeed, it may be more damaging than Obama & Co. ever imagined, not because it reflects badly on them but because it reflects badly on their entire world view — namely, Big Government:

Because the Democratic party simply is the party of government. It is the party that insists on the nobility, efficacy and intellectual superiority of government. The VA is at the intersection of all the things liberals insist are wise and good and just about government. It is government-run healthcare. It is the tangible fulfillment of a sacred obligation the government has with those who’ve sacrificed most for our nation. It is also the one institution and/or constituency that enjoys huge bipartisan support. The VA, rhetorically and politically, is more sacrosanct and less controversial than Medicare, Social Security, road building, the NIH, or public schools. We are constantly told that we could get so many wonderful, super-fantastic things done if only both sides would lay down their ideological blah blah blah blah and work together for yada yada yada. Well, welcome to the VA. How’s that working out for you?

***

Many commentators noticed that Jay Carney, when asked about the VA scandal, said the same thing he and the president have said about myriad scandals: “Hey, don’t ask us. We only learned about it on TV, just like the rest of you.”

You can tell that their feral little brains are thinking, “Yes! That should let them know that we had nothing to do with the scandal. It’s somebody else’s fault.”

It hasn’t seemed to occur to Obama or Carney that there’s another, better answer:  “The President was apprised yesterday about this issue and has already taken steps to deal with it.”  That answer would make the President sound like an executive, not an idiot. (Peter Wehner sees “epic incompetence” as the new presidential narrative.)

Jonathan S. Tobin sums up what the President’s chosen scandal tactic implies:

The fact that the White House resorted to what has become its standard second-term excuse for government scandal with a line about the president hearing about it on TV or by reading the newspapers raises serious questions about both his leadership and the intelligence of his staff. After all, surely it must have occurred to someone at the White House that using the same excuse about hearing of it in the media wasn’t likely to work after it had been employed with little success to distance him from the IRS and other scandals. Such intellectual laziness speaks to a West Wing that is both collapsing from intellectual fatigue as well as having acquired an almost complete contempt for both the press and public opinion.

***

While I’m on the subject of Obama’s incompetence, it seems that the intelligence community is pushing back against both that incompetence and the rank political dishonesty that sees that Obama administration falsely claiming that Islamic terrorism is declining, not increasing.

I feel very strongly that you shouldn’t get into pissing matches with the intelligence community because they probably know things about you that you would prefer no one else know. If this fight between the administration and intelligence heats up, I wonder if someone will start leaking interesting revelations about highly placed officials in the administration, including Obama himself.

***

James O’Keefe has an uncanny knack for exposing Leftist hypocrisy, corruption (financial, intellectual, and moral), and gross illegality.  He is back in spectacular style with a video showing three prominent Hollywood types agreeing to take money from an Arab oil sheikh (O’Keefe in disguise) in order to fund an anti-fracking film.

There’s nothing subtle about O’Keefe’s phony pitch, either. In a phone call with director Josh Tickell, O’Keefe explicitly states “My client’s interest is to end American energy independence; your interest is to end fracking. And you guys understand that?” Tickell is okay with that. “Correct. Yes, super clear,” he says.

While many people are shocked about environmentalists getting into bed with big oil in order to stop fracking, I was wondering more about their willingness to send money to Saudi Arabia, rather than to keep it at home.

Of course, O’Keefe just showed three fools in Hollywood. But what about the fact that real, not imaginary, Arab oil influence is huge in Washington, D.C. itself? Jeff Dunetz says that we need to pay attention to this very disturbing reality. Looking at the numbers, Dunetz points out that, not only is the UAE by far the biggest foreign lobby in D.C., the entire pro-Israel contribution (remember the “all powerful Jewish lobby” we keep hearing about?) is just 21% of the UAE’s contribution. Read the whole thing. It’s illuminating.

***

Chad Felix Greene, who is (I believe) gay, says that it’s not unreasonable for people to be wary of transgendered people. It’s not one of his best posts (he’s a very good writer, but this is a bit muddy because he tries to be respectful of all points of view, even as he challenges some of them), but my takeaway is this:

It’s not unreasonable to be dismayed when your chosen sexual partner reveals that he or she started out life as a member of the opposite sex.  This is true regardless of whether you’re homosexual or heterosexual.  Thus, both a man planning to bed a former man, or a gay man planning to bed a former woman, might be upset to learn about the partners gender history.

It is reasonable, however to refuse to deny the biological reality that underlies transgendered self-definition. Just because someone says “I am a woman,” doesn’t mean you have to pretend that the person once had or still has a penis. You can be respectful of that person’s self-identity (no bullying, teasing, or discriminating), but you don’t have to deny biological and historical reality.

***

Gay marriage is a done deal in America, folks. Although the Supreme Court addressed only the federal Defense of Marriage Act, courts across America are viewing that decision as a green light to overturn voters who said that, in their state, marriage is between a man and a woman. One really can’t blame the judges too much now that, years after those votes were originally cast, the same-sex marriage lobby’s endless advocacy means that 55% of Americans support gay marriage.

I’ve made it pretty clear that my opposition to gay marriage arises primarily because I foresee a coming clash between the First Amendment’s explicit guarantee that Americans have the right to exercise their religion freely and the newly created civil right to marry outside of the traditional boundaries of monogamous, heterosexual marriage. We already know that gay couples will sue business people who, for religious reasons, refuse to provide services for same-sex marriage ceremonies, although they are willing to do business with same-sex couples in all other matters. How long will it be before same-sex partners sue the Catholic Church or a Baptist ministry for violating their civil rights?

***

Spain has been Judenrein since 1492. That has done nothing to prevent the oldest hatred. (You can read more about Spain’s apparently atavistic antisemitism here.)

***

How can one resist Jonah Goldberg on “trigger warnings,” which are just the latest insanity to issue from America’s loony academic citadels? After noting that he doesn’t have a problem with obscure, privately run Leftist blog sites catering to every trigger from audio of snapping fingers to pictures of animals in wigs, Goldberg adds:

But as is so often the case, common sense is barely a speed bump for the steamroller of political correctness. Oberlin College’s Office of Equity Concerns advised professors to avoid such triggering subjects as racism, colonialism, and sexism. They soon rescinded it, perhaps because they realized that if such subjects become taboo, much of their faculty would be left with nothing to talk about.

***

While I’m quoting, I was just kvelling with glee over John Hinderaker’s masterful use of imagery and the English language in connection with Howard Dean’s lunatic claim that Republicans are no longer Americans:

A terrible sort of insanity has gripped the Democratic Party. On almost a daily basis, when you see the party’s leaders in action, you want to start edging toward the door, murmuring “Nice doggie. Nice doggie.”

[snip]

This is a very bad thing. We need two functional political parties, and these days the Democrats don’t get over the bar, no matter how low you set it.

[snip]

Reid and Pelosi are so low-rent that you feel embarrassed for them whenever you see them. Screening a video [about Charles and David Koch] that is sheer partisan libel in the United States Capitol–illegally, as best I can tell–is right up their alley.

Read the whole thing, please, both because it’s beautifully written and because it’s substantively informative and important.

***

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the fact that it was no surprise to me that the poorest of the poor aren’t rushing to sign up for Obamacare. Contrary to our middle class expectations, they don’t mind having the ER serve as their preferred provider. Getting top flight medical care for free on an as-needed basis is a better deal for them than having to pay a monthly fee (no matter how low) for some hard to reach little clinic that makes them jump through hoops just to see a dermatologist.

Thanks to Obamacare, it looks as if a significant number of formerly insured (i.e., people who lost their insurance because of Obamacare) are also finding that the ER is a good option. Some haven’t even tried to get new insurance. Some have gotten trapped in the Obamacare exchange. Some have been told that they’re the wrong sex. Some cannot accept the substandard care in their new, narrow coverage. Whatever the reason, they’re joining the bottom 1% in seeing the ER as first and best when it comes to medical treatment.

***

Monica Wehby, a pediatric neurosurgeon in Oregon, won the Republican party primary and will now challenge incumbent Democrat Jeff Merkley for Oregon’s Senate seat. No surprise, then, that Democrats have unearthed records showing that, in both a divorce and a contentious break-up with a boyfriend, the men contended that she was stalking, harassing, or even striking them. Neither sought restraining orders and the boyfriend has since become an enthusiastic (i.e., monied) supporter for her political campaign.

I’m dismissing the boyfriend stalking charge since he now supports her campaign. Whatever happened then, he clearly doesn’t think it affects Wehby’s ability to serve the people of Oregon and America.

The ex-husband charge (harassment and striking) intrigues me, because it reminds me very strongly of something that happened to a friend of mine. She and her husband were involved in a contentious divorce. Things came to a head when she went to his house (he owned it before they were married) to pick up some of her stuff. He refused to let her in, and said he would call the cops on her. She responded by yelling at him and swatting his chest.

You have to understand here that her soon-to-be ex stood at 6’2″ and was a burly man. My friend was 5’2″ and one of the physically weakest people I’ve ever met. She needed help lifting big binders. There was no possibility that she hurt or threatened him as she swatted him. Nevertheless, he had someone restrain her until the cops came along and then insisted that they arrest her.

My friend told me later that the cops apologized profusely for having to arrest her, because they recognized that the arrest was a travesty. Nevertheless, California law mandates that if a spouse says he was abused and demands that the alleged abuser gets arrested, then the alleged abuser must be arrested and prosecuted.

When the case went to trial, my friend was triumphantly acquitted and, I believe, the judge fined her ex for abusing both the divorce and criminal law processes.

That story makes me somewhat dubious about the claims from Wehby’s ex. In the context of a divorce, the problem nowadays isn’t just that one partner or another might become violent. It’s that one partner or another might lie about the other becoming violent.

***

She murdered two people and then lied about that fact when she came to America, got citizenship, and became an influential activist for Islamic interests in America. You and I might think that the victims in this case are the two dead men and the American people. Au contraire, my naive friends. She is the victim (of course).

***

The Marines are breathing a sigh of relief that one of their own finally got the recognition he deserved. Cpl. William Kyle Carpenter (ret.) will receive the Medal of Honor for throwing himself on a live grenade to save a comrade’s life. He was terribly injured in the blast.

Carpenter has mixed feelings about the honor:

“There are guys who I was with who didn’t come back, so it’s hard for me to wear this and have the spotlight on me the rest of my life when they lost their life on a hot, dusty field in Afghanistan and most people don’t even know their names,” Carpenter said. “Even at Walter Reed, I recovered with quadruple-amputees. How am I supposed to wear this knowing and seeing all the hardships that are much worse than mine that guys have gone through without any recognition?”

Carpenter sounds like a very worthy recipient for the nation’s highest military honor.  To fully appreciate just how worthy, check out this article and check out this video:

***

And to leave things on an equally uplifting, but somewhat more cheerful-in-a-silly-way note, here’s an adorable dancing two-year old. What I like particularly isn’t actually his dancing but is, instead, his “Vogue-ish” posing between dance moves:

Tuesday mid-day round up and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesI’ve been a good girl today. I paid bills, cleaned the kitchen, set up appointments for various family members to do various activities, cleared some more stuff out of my in-boxes, and generally did not waste time. Now, though, I’m ready to sit back and “waste” some time by sharing all sorts of interesting stuff with you:

Priority of place has to go to Oberlin’s utterly insane proposed guidelines for its athletic department:

“It is basically intended to sort of be a 101,” Emily Clarke, a junior and member of the committee, said in an interview with Campus Reform on Thursday. “We also talk about choice, privilege and agency in presentation of gender and pronouns and ends with trans-allyship dos and don’ts.”

“It’s basically like, don’t question people about their transitioning processes, respect pronouns and names, don’t use ‘ladies’ or ‘gentlemen’ when addressing a group of people,” she said.

[snip]

In addition to the training, the new policy would also mandate that athletic department documents replace “FTM” (female-to-male) and “MTF” (male-to-female) with “a transgender student-athlete who was designated a female at birth and is/is not taking medically prescribed hormone replacement therapy related to gender transition” and “a transgender student-athlete who was designated a male at birth and is/is not taking medically prescribed hormone replacement therapy related to gender transition.”

That’s just a drop in the bucket when trying to convey the sheer awfulness of this assault on the English language and biological reality. You really have to look at the original document to get the full flavor.

***

While more and more American campuses are contorting themselves to avoid offending their special interest groups, Jews in France are facing actual physical offenses, in the form of assaults by Muslim gangs. AFP notes that Jews are leaving France in historic numbers, but somehow cannot bring itself to explain why this sudden exodus is taking place. It vaguely references a “climate of anti-Semitism,” without talking about the ongoing physical assaults at Muslim hands. (This post, about the similar situation in which Danish Jews find themselves, helps pick up where the AFP, in most cowardly fashion, left off.)

***

Mark Steyn lambastes mealy-mouthed Leftists who think hashtags are the same as actual action. He also schools Charles C.W. Cooke, at the National Review, who rightly earned ire for saying that Holocaust Denial should be debated in public schools as an academic exercise. Steyn endorses Laura Rosen Cohen’s answer to Cooke’s proposal, which is that we debate ideas, but we don’t debate conspiracy theories that bear no relationship to known, indisputable facts.

Eliot Cohen also looks at the whole hashtag phenomenon amongst American Progressives and concludes that it’s part of a larger problem, which is that, although they wield tremendous, scary amounts of power, they have the intellectual and emotional capacity of adolescents. Hmmm. That argument seems familiar….

***

All across the Leftist spectrum, even as they hashtag their pleas for the release of the school girls kidnapped by Boko Haram, no one will say two important words: “Christianity” or “Islam.” Or if they do say those words, it’s to deny that they have anything to do with the kidnapping. To the Left, what we’re seeing is just this bizarre coincidence that has these murderous madmen mouthing Islamic slogans even as they (again totally coincidentally) enslave Christians, murder Christians, and murder Muslims foolish enough to hang out with Christians. Both Michael Rubin and Pamela Geller take on this intellectual deceit. The only problem with their excellent articles is that the people who need to read them . . . won’t.

***

Writing in USA Today (which is a pretty good venue considering that it’s available to business-class travelers in hotels and airplanes throughout America), Paul Caron says Congress should give Lois Lerner immunity in exchange for testimony. He provides a succinct, but detail-rich, summary about the IRS’s partisan attack on conservative groups, making three things painfully clear: What happened was a horrific act of corruption; the media have been complicit through silence; and Lerner is the easiest, and maybe the only, way to get to the bottom of this scandal (a scandal that I posit is the worst political scandal ever in American history).

***

I have several gay friends on my “real me” Facebook, all of whom date back to high school or even junior high school. Without exception, they are politically hard Left and socially absolutely militant. Nothing even slightly negative may ever be said about the LGBTQ community. I suspect, therefore, that they’re going to ignore the CDC’s recent report about resurgent syphilis in the gay community. If this is indeed what they’re doing, they’re making a terrible mistake. The AIDS epidemic should have taught them once and for all that dangerous behaviors cannot be ignored; they must be nipped in the bud lest Mother Nature lets things get wildly out of hand.

***

Mark Tapson posits that the professional Left’s frantic, cruel, tasteless, and heartless jokes about Benghazi hide a very real fear: There’s probably something there that they don’t want the American people to know.

***

Trust Thomas Sowell to get to the heart of the matter: Why are colleges sitting as prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner when it comes to alleged rapes? Could it be because they know that, in all but a few cases, the “victim’s” claims wouldn’t survive a second when actual law and legal procedure are applied to them?

***

This is a marvelous blog that will help everyone understand that correlation and causation are not the same thing. And in that same spirit, here’s a thought-provoking cartoon/chart that Caped Crusader sent me. (Caveat: I have no idea if the data is accurate, but I suspect/hope it’s close to accurate, so I’m running with it.)

Gun crime Chicago v Houston

Found it on Facebook: Muslim “minority ” views and sexual identity

1.  One of my conservative friends posted this on Facebook:

Minority rights in Muslim countries

2.  And one other great find on Facebook, apropros Bradley Manning’s announcement that, henceforth, he is to be known as a girl named “Chelsea”:  “Breaking news! Due to an administrative error today, Bradley Manning was martyred and Maj Hassan was given gender reassignment surgery.”

As for me, I’m wondering whether the Left might not think it the slightest bit embarrassing that one of their treasured “gender confused” people committed treason against America.  Oh, never mind!  I keep forgetting that, on the Left, treason against America is a good thing.

As for me, I’m not the first and won’t be the last to say that Monty Python got it when it came to gender transformations:

Today’s reality was yesterday’s satire

There’s a big hoo-hah in Colorado, because a 6-year-old boy feels like a girl.  His parents, out of respect for his feelings, are raising him as a girl.  The school district was not impressed.  It stated that, for bathroom purposes, if you have a penis, you have to use the boys’ room.

I can actually see both sides.  To the extent this kid marches to the beat of his own drummer, he’s at serious risk of being attacked during (or because of) trips to the boys’ room.  The school, however, is correct that, as long as the boy’s bodily functions are channeled through male body parts, they risk push-back and lawsuits from allowing a boy in the girls’ room.

Perhaps the parents should think about homeschooling, which can be an excellent solution for square pegs who don’t fit in the public schools’ round holes.   Although the Left would like to deny it, there are some problems the government can’t fix, and some situations that are incapable of equal outcomes.

But why I am telling you this?  The Monty Python crew dealt with precisely this issue about 25 years ago: