Category Archives: Social Commentary

Religion Of Peace Update

I know it’s become a sad joke, but when I heard last night about the execution of the two cops in New York, I thought “When will we find out that the perp was a Muslim”? With the last name “Brinsley,” I figured that we’d finally found a random murderous criminal act that wasn’t Jihad related — it was just from rage whipped up by the hateful race baiters like Sharpton (and de Blasio).

Well, it turns out that my relief came too soon:

In my previous posts on assassin Ismaaiyl Brinsley, who murdered two New York Police Department officers on Saturday, I noted that he had posted on Facebook a page of the Quran with a notorious verse calling on Muslims to “strike terror into the [hearts of] the enemies of Allah,” and another post about a fight he recently engaged in with an Atlanta panhandler when he discovered the panhandler was a “Muslim too.”

But an Instagram message posted by Brinsley during Ramadan five months ago may indicate that he visited one of America’s most terror-tied mosques.

Sigh.

Chanukah

A dangerous holiday:

For those liberals who believe that Jewish identity should be limited to donating to help Haiti, agitating for illegal aliens and promoting the environment; Chanukah is a threatening holiday. They have secularized it, dressed it up with teddy bears and toys, trimmed it with the ecology and civil rights of their new faith. Occasionally a Jewish liberal learns the history of it and writes an outraged essay about nationalism and militarism, but mostly they are content to bury it in the same dark cellar that they store the rest of the history of their people and the culture that they left behind.

Holidays aren’t mere parties, they are messages. Knots of time that we tie around the fingers of our lives so that we remember what our ancestors meant us to never forget. That they lived and died for a reason. The party is a celebration, but if we forget what it celebrates, then it becomes a celebration of celebration. A hollow and soulless festival of the self. The Maccabees fought because they believed they had something worth fighting for. Not for their possessions, but for their traditions, their families and their G-d. The celebration of Chanukah is not just how we remember them, but how we remember that we are called upon to keep their watch. To take up their banner and carry their sword.

History is a wheel and as it turns, we see the old continents of time rising again, events revisiting themselves as the patterns of the past become new again. Ancient battles become new wars. And old struggles have to be re-fought again until we finally get them right.

Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.

Bush Versus Clinton

If that’s really the 2016 line up. I want them both to lose, badly. Get rid of this dynastical nonsense. It’s un-American. If some have a social need for royalty, let’s stick to Hollywood celebrities, not people who run the country. I agree with Glenn on this:

My concern is that the GOP’s donor class can only get interested in candidates that the GOP’s base finds unappealing, and vice versa.

It’s a big problem.

Hope And Change

An epitaph:

Such a climate should not have been unexpected, given that the Obamas entered the national scene with rhetoric and associations like “downright mean country,” “raise the bar,” “for the first time [i.e., when Obama was elected] . . . I’m really proud of my country,” Jeremiah Wright, “typical white person,” and the clingers speech. The natural result of all that was soon to be the stupidly acting Cambridge police; Trayvon Martin, the boy who looked like the son Obama never had; and slamming Ferguson at the U.N. — while black unemployment, graduation, illegitimacy, and crime rates were either unaffected by Obama’s presidency or grew worse despite his often racialized rhetoric. We now witness an entire grievance movement highlighted by a slogan — Hands up, don’t shoot — that is most certainly untrue.

The above symptomology is not a partisan tirade, given that the Americans who voted Obama into office twice, and ensured a Democratic Congress from 2006 to 2010, have now come to the same conclusion. The president’s approval ratings hover at 40 percent. Almost single-handedly, Obama has done to the Democratic party far more damage than Herbert Hoover did to the Republican brand. Not in 70 years have Democratic numbers in the Congress been so bleak. State legislatures and governorships are more Republican than at any time in a generation.

“Hope and change” was always an idiotic basis on which to vote for someone. He managed to get elected, twice, only by appealing to low-info types. But even they seem, finally, to be wising up.

Nice People

make the best Nazis.

Whenever I point out that Islam is a problematic ideology/religion, people say, “You bigot! I know many Muslims, and they’re very nice people!” Well, I also know many nice Muslims, and in fact most of them don’t necessarily agree with Al Qaeda or IS, but Al Qaeda and IS would (rightfully, in my opinion, though I’m no more of a Muslim scholar than Barack Obama) consider them apostates. The point is that most people are “nice” by nature, but that doesn’t prevent them from adhering to beliefs that aren’t very nice at all. I suspect that if you’d lived in Germany during the war, you’d have thought most Germans “nice,” except for that support-of-Hitler thing. Just don’t let them know you’re a Jew.

Empty Integrity

Thoughts on a declining culture:

…it’s hard to find a children’s cartoon or movie that doesn’t tell kids that they need to look inside themselves for moral guidance. Indeed, there’s a riot of Rousseauian claptrap out there that says children are born with rightly ordered consciences. And why not? As Mr. Rogers told us, “You are the most important person in the whole wide world and you hardly even know you.” Hillary Clinton is even worse. In her book It Takes a Village, she claims that some of the best theologians she’s ever met have been five-year-olds (which might be true when compared with a certain homicidal Ukrainian priest).

Such saccharine codswallop overturns millennia of moral teaching. It takes the idea that we must apply reason to nature and our consciences in order to discover what is moral and replaces it with the idea that if it feels right, just do it, baby. Which, by the by, is exactly how Lex Luthor sees the world. Übermenschy passion is now everyone’s lodestar. As Reese Witherspoon says in Legally Blonde, “On our very first day at Harvard, a very wise professor quoted Aristotle: ‘The law is reason free from passion.’ Well, no offense to Aristotle, but in my three years at Harvard I have come to find that passion is a key ingredient to the study and practice of law — and of life.” Well, that solves that. Nietzsche-Witherspoon 1, Aristotle 0.

According to Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra, the death of God and the coming of the übermensch was going to require the new kind of inner-directed hero to become his own god. As a result, anything society did to inconvenience the heroic individual was morally suspect, a backdoor attempt by The Man to impose conformity. This is pretty much exactly what Robin Williams teaches in Dead Poets Society. But that ethos has traveled a long way from Mork. When Barack Obama was asked by a minister to define “sin,” he confidently answered that “sin” just means being “out of alignment with my values.” Taken literally, this would mean that Hannibal Lecter is being sinful when he abstains from human flesh in favor of a Waldorf salad. As you can see, when you take the modern definition of integrity all the way to the horizon, suddenly “integrity” can be understood only as a firm commitment to one’s own principles — because one’s own principles are the only legitimate principles. Heck, if you are a god, then doing what you want is God’s will.

This won’t end well.

The Elizabeth Lauten Nonsense

Dear Media: This is why everybody hates you:

There are many wonderful reporters. They work hard to get the story right and provide a valuable service to their readers and viewers. But we have a serious problem — and it’s a problem at the editor level at least as much as it’s a problem at the reporter level.

Republican media operative Rick Wilson went on a beautiful rant last night about this embarrassing Lauten debacle. You can read the whole thing here. This is edited down but he wrote, “Reporters and media folks wondering, ‘Why don’t people trust us?’… The last couple weeks should be clarifying for you… But the endless, agenda-driven games are repellent to readers/viewers. Your sins are of omission and commission both… You used to be able to claim news judgement and ignore stories you hated. You still do, but now people see it, and you loathe it… So you’ll do one piece on Gruber, then pretend you dug in hard. But god forbid a staffer dings the Obama kids. Then you flood the zone… You pick and choose when to provide context… I love pros in the business. Love them. And most of you ARE pros. Most of you DO work stories, look for interesting angles… But you tolerate (and your editors tolerate) a lot of outrageous, absurdly bad practices. Gruber? Unforgivable… the frustration Americans feel about media isn’t getting any less acute, and some introspection might go a long way…”

Indeed it would. There are some tenacious and wonderful reporters. But the overall picture in many newsrooms is getting worse. Under no circumstances should scarce newsroom resources be diverted from real stories onto fake ones that have already been covered more than a Beatles hit.

There is a huge liberal bias problem in the media (fun recent graph related to the problem here). Pretending it’s not there is not going to make it go away. But pointing out the problems year after year isn’t making things better. Some of the media behavior post-election seems more like a toddler temper tantrum than a dispassionate news judgment.

It’s ironic, when one recalls Peter Jennings (or Tom Brokaw, I forget exactly which) characterizing the 1994 vote that gave Republicans control of Congress for the first time in four decades as a “temper tantrum” on the part of the voters.

That UVA Rape Story

Is it a gigantic hoax?

There seems to be some legitimate reason for skepticism. To me, it has the ring of a lot of the “satanic cult” stories, that the FBI never managed to actually confirm.

[Tuesday-morning update]

Jonah Goldberg is skeptical. And Megan McArdle says that if the story is true, the police should be involved.

Yes.

[Bumped]

[Update a while later]

Tom Maguire has more thoughts (and skepticism).

“Anti-Government” Militias

Why not?

In the United States, police forces exist as a public service, not as a replacement for civil society. As the Supreme Court has made clear, police are under no obligation to help or to protect you. They can choose to, certainly. But they do not have to. And, even if they did have to, it would still be the case that they could not possibly be everywhere at once.

Nor are they intended to be. For much of American history, there was no serious distinction drawn between the citizenry, the militia, the military, and the police. Instead, there were a few elected or appointed roles — watchmen, constables, sheriffs, etc. — and then there was the people at large. Those people were expected to bandy together and to help one another, to be responsible for their own protection, and to help to keep the peace — both under the control of authorities and of their own volition. When standing police forces came into being, Americans did not give up this system; they added to it.

Which is to say that there is no reason whatsoever for us to abandon either our penchant for self-reliance or our preference for volunteerism simply because we have a series of professional police forces running in parallel to civil society. Nor, for that matter, should our out-of-control licensing systems and incomplete self-defense protections be permitted to become an impediment to our security. I’m no great fan of Oathkeepers as an outfit. But if they wish to help out during a protest, so be it. If a collection of black Ferguson residents wishes to protect a white-owned gas station from looters, so be it. If the Huey P. Newton Gun Club wants to march around Dallas protecting black citizens, so be it. If a spontaneous, unlicensed group of Korean Los Angelenos wishes to take up arms and protect their property from rioters, so be it. The United States represents a collection of free people who elect to have police forces — not the other way around. So some of our actors don’t much like the government. Who cares?

People who think that the country is a government with people, instead of people with a government.

As Glenn notes, this seems ripe for a federal civil-rights law, if protecting yourself and your property is a civil right (as it always has been under English common law). It would be amusing to see if Obama would sign it.

[Afternoon update]

An update on the Oath Keepers in Ferguson, from Jesse Walker.

ClimateGate, Five Years Later

Thoughts from Judith Curry on the legacy:

By the time 2011 rolled around, my ostracization by the climate establishment was pretty complete, so I redefined (broadened) my academic peer group to include physicists, social scientists and philosophers (not to mention the extended peer community developed on my blog). I found this much more stimulating and interesting than circled wagons of the climate community.

To assess the personal impact of Climategate, I’m trying to figure out exactly where my head was at prior to Climategate in 2009. Wherever; I’m not sure it matters anymore. In 2014, I no longer feel the major ostracism by my peers in the climate establishment; after all, many of the issues I’ve been raising that seemed so controversial have no[w] become mainstream. And the hiatus has helped open some minds.

The net effect of all this is that my ‘academic career advancement’ in terms of professional recognition, climbing the administrative ladder, etc. has been pretty much halted. I’ve exchanged academic advancement that now seems to be of dubious advantage to me for a much more interesting and influential existence that that feels right in terms of my personal and scientific integrity.

Bottom line: Climategate was career changing for me; I’ll let history decide if this was for better or worse (if history even cares).

I think history will judge her well.

“Reality Has A Liberal Bias”

Yeah, right:

“If you look at the most credible evidence [of Michael Brown's death at the hands of a Ferguson, Mo., police officer], the lessons are really basic,” Lowry said during an appearance on Meet the Press. “Don’t rob a convenience store. Don’t fight with a policeman when he stops you and try to take his gun. And when he yells at you to stop, just stop.”

Those comments elicited gasp from a panel that included the Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson and MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell. Mitchell exclaimed “Whoa, whoa” during Lowry’s comments, while Robinson said his recitation of the known facts in the case was an attempt to “relitigate” Brown’s death.

Do they ever listen to themselves?

Do Black Lives Matter?

Yes, but you’d never know it from the behavior of the Democrats:

If you believe that black lives matter, then you should be working for school reform, economic growth, and — yes — more effective law-enforcement and crime-prevention measures to protect black communities, which suffer an enormously disproportionate share of crime and violence. Never mind the stagecraft: That’s what you actually do if you think black lives matter.

And the drama that’s going on in Ferguson right now? That’s what you do if you think black lives are merely useful to you — and, in the end, expendable.

Yup.

Orthorexia

When “healthy” eating becomes unhealthy.

There may be reasons to be a vegan, but health is not among them.

[Update late morning]

Both Anne Hathaway and Bill Clinton have given up on their vegan diets:

Hathaway recently confessed that eating endless meals of tofu and garbanzo beans seemed to be sapping her energy. She told the Insider that when she was filming Interstellar, the action-packed scenes overwhelmed her.

Seeking a solution, Hathaway decided to try feasting on fish and shifting to a low-carb diet. The decision to push away those plant-based platters and experiment with an animal protein-powered plan came in the middle of filming a water scene, which required that she suit up in a heavy garment.

“I fell off so hard…. So you imagine what that’s like — what it’s like running through water and then you wear a 40-pound suit on top of it, so for me it was intense. I was facing my life, I don’t know how many days in a row of, like, garbanzo beans on a plate.”

And with an apology to PETA, Hathaway says that she doesn’t plan to return to her vegan lifestyle. She even dug into a plate of eggs and sausage during a recent Harper’s Bazaar interview. Anne noted that the difference between eating a vegan diet and consuming animal protein was notable overnight.

“I just didn’t feel good or healthy,” Hathaway recalled of her vegan days.

You don’t say.

The Ferguson “Protests”

They’re not protests, they’re pogroms aimed at the middle class:

Backed by looters and violent people, liberals are telling the American middle class they do not want you. They want an America where you are either a billionaire knocking down tax subsidies, or jobless and on federal assistance. . . . The looters won, thanks to President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder and Governor Jay Nixon — Democrats all — who ignored the truth and the facts of the case to fan the flames of violence, across the country. People have begun calling these the Obama Riots. Expect more.

Sadly, yes.

[Update a few minutes later]

Back to blood.

[Update a few more minutes later]

Middle-class Americans are hardest hit by ObamaCare. As by all of the Democrats’ policies. And as Glenn notes, the Republicans are fools to try to go after tech money. They should be advocating populist policies that go instead after Hollywood and the Silicon Valley oligarchs.

[Update a while later]

Speaking of the Silicon Valley oligarchs, how they created huge homeless camps.

Facebook

Seven reasons why I made a Thanksgiving resolution to leave it.”

Most of this crap doesn’t bother me, because I don’t really “use” Facebook much. My blog posts get auto-posted there, but I could count the number of times I’ve manually updated my timeline (if indeed I can recall them, which I can’t) on one hand. I guess that for many less tech literate, Facebook became a substitute for a blog, but I’ve never needed one. And I find Twitter much more useful as a link mine.

Obama’s Immigration Speech

It was blatherskite:

As an act of rare semantic derring-do, this was a towering achievement. As a political speech, I don’t think it was very effective. It puts one in mind of the debate in “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” which ends when one side manages to prove that black is white — and gets themselves killed at the next pedestrian crosswalk.

To be honest, it’s not clear to me that the president was trying to be persuasive. He seemed, rather, to be triple-dog-daring Republicans to jump off the bridge with him, and if history is any guide, they will probably oblige. But there’s a real risk that Democrats will come to regret having the president jump first.

Reportedly some of them already are. He may have created a wedge issue for his own party.

Gruber The Grifter

Why you don’t want to let “intellectuals” anywhere near power:

Unfortunately, contemporary Washington is calibrated to defer to experts who defer to politicians, providing an intellectual Praetorian Guard for the constant growth of a leviathan. As Denver University professor David Ciepley noted, “Starting in the First World War, and much more so during the New Deal and World War II, American social scientists became part of the autonomous state themselves, helping staff the mushrooming government agencies.” The closer that intellectuals get to politicians, the more weaselly they usually become.

Playing off Mr. Gruber’s derision of average Americans, one wag suggested a new acronym — L.I.E. — for Low Information Experts. Mr. Gruber and many other professors have gotten rich by pretending that government is far more competent than it actually is. Economist Robert Skidelsky, writing about the history of modern socialism, observed that “the collectivist belief system existed independently of the facts of modern life.” The same is true of the academic cadre who profit by vindicating endless government interventions that breed chaos and dependency.

I’d like to think that people will take a lesson from this (particularly with regard to climate models), but history doesn’t make me hopeful.