Monthly Archives: September 2014

Referendum vote showing the folly of British politics on all sides

We hope that Scotland secedes.  It won’t take long for the country to become a political and economic counterpart to the U.K. kind of like Ecuador is to the U.S.  It would be fun just to see what would happen (the idiocy of both sides’ appeals notwithstanding, there are some fascinating issues for political junkies to watch unfold), and if we’re lucky, it will become a cautionary tale, namely, that Anglo-Saxon values of capitalism, individual liberty, peace through strength, and (relative) fiscal restraint aren’t so bad.

The removal of the Scottish delegation will end Labor’s natural monopoly in the U.K. parliament, and improve the prospects for passage of a get-out-of-the-E.U. vote if it ever happens.  (Best case scenario: Prime Minister David Cameron resigns as a result of the vote, the Tories under Boris Johnson win the next election anyway, and they become capable of articulating a strong moral and economic argument against the E.U. that the more-favorable electorate then endorses in a referendum.)

It’s hard to sympathize with Scotland First Minister Alex Salmond, who is trying, absent all logic, to convince Scots that they can keep as much cake as they want and eat as much as they want too based solely on the fruits of the Scottish economy.  If the voters buy his cynical (bashing Westminster Tories as the cause of Scotland’s malaise), dishonest (downplaying the limitations of the reserves of oil in the North Sea), thuggish (threatening “unpatriotic” businesses who dare voice support for the union) campaign from the far-left playbook, then they will certainly get what they deserve.  Add demagogic to his tactics:  he has extended the franchise to children, apparently counting on their gullibility to his promises of bread and circuses; and to non-British E.U. citizens living in Scotland, probably figuring that they will relish the opportunity to poke a stick in the eye of Europe’s leading light on the world stage.

Salmond’s threats to “nationalize” BP—and the fact that he rationally thinks that this will resonate with voters—tells us everything we need to know about the minds of the Scots.  Pretty clever of him to appeal to the peacenik sentiment too, which is easy when he considers that he can just join the rest of Europe as free riders on the protection of U.K. and United States military power.

It’s almost as difficult to sympathize with Cameron.  He has long stood for nothing—from opposing the Iraq War because Tony Blair supported it, to trying to outflank Blair on the left on “global warming,” to his now-abandoned-in-name-but-not-in-practice “Big Society” (i.e., big government) nanny state.  His characteristically condescending promises to devolve more power to Scotland if it stays in the union, trotted out only when independence began looking possible in the polls, cannot be called anything other than pathetic.  He started with the arrogant assumption that independence would never come to pass, and has moved on to a ham-handed response when that assumption proved shaky.

We have only one question, however.  The standard media line is that Cameron will have to resign if the Scots vote for independence, but why is no one asking whether Salmond—who seems like a one-issue politician—must resign if they vote no?  Maybe because Cameron is a Tory and Salmond is a socialist?

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USAID running a military operation: What could possibly go wrong?

If Nancy Lindborg, assistant administrator at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), was telling the truth at a House committee hearing yesterday that USAID is actually in charge of the 3,000 troops being sent to Liberia to deal (somehow) with ebola, then President Obama should be impeached for gross mishandling of the U.S. military, not necessarily in misusing military resources—for we could have, depending on what the actual mission is, a legitimate debate about whether ebola is a grave risk to the nation’s security—but in putting soldiers’ lives and limbs at risk under the direction of diplomats and bureaucrats.

Perhaps Lindborg was confusing or exaggerating her agency’s role, or relishing the chance to play Keystone Kop (and getting to use phrases like “command and control” in a Congressional hearing).  It can’t really be the case that a large-scale oversees military operation is being managed by the State Department?

If it is true, then we have a helpful preview of how the agency is likely to manage the mission.  Lindborg couldn’t answer basic questions about the composition of the force, timelines, or the equipment and training that they would be provided.  Hard to imagine (though not impossible these days) that an equivalent official in the Defense Department would be so cavalier in testifying before Congress about the parameters of a military deployment in a real war zone.

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One big non sequitur from the Times: Hasidic Jews’ “clashes with American values” means they must be Republicans

The New York Times asks, “Are Liberal Jewish Voters a Thing of the Past?”  We can hope so, but the article offers no evidence, mostly just muddled tropes and non sequiturs pointing out some of the out-of-the-mainstream cultural practices of New York Hasidim (who constitute a subset of Orthodox Jews), and not-really connecting the dots to not-at-all answer the headline question.

Among the non sequiturs in the article are references to the group’s “stances on. . . the role of women” and “anachronistic way of life.”  In the Times‘ worldview, this makes them obvious Republicans.  It’s true that American Orthodox Jews tend to be pro-life and supportive of Israel, but, on the other hand, they also hold views that would traditionally align them more with the left.  The article cites their “tendency to vote in blocs according to the wishes of a sect’s grand rabbi, who often makes his choices based on pragmatic rather than ideological reasons.”  Sounds like many other urban constituencies whose “pragmatic” demands end up feeding big government.

The ultra-Orthodox population in Israel defies comparison to any American political force.  It tends to benefit from big government, such as welfare and privileges like exemption from the armed forces for religious study.  Some live in collectivist communes and some are anti-Zionist.  Small political parties representing the community have seats in the Knesset.  To the extent that New York ultra-Orthodox Jews seek analogous opt-outs from public education and “public health” laws (like prohibitions on certain circumcision practices mentioned in the article), and a special role for religious authority in criminal justice matters, it is not at all clear that this would make them less liberal in terms of U.S. politics.  Perhaps they would gravitate towards a libertarian political force, though it’s just as likely that they would use their influence to establish themselves as yet another “embattled minority” (to use a quote concluding the article) seeking the patronage of the local government.  The latter seems to be the case today in New York, and the article offers no data on the group’s voting patterns or political views in general, other than citing a few very specific lifestyle issues around which they’ve successfully lobbied.

The ultra-Orthodox community’s tenets bear a good deal of resemblance to those of Muslims, who voted 85% for Obama in 2012.

H/T:  Instapundit

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What’s the real story behind the Bruce Levenson revelation?

Another scalp for the faux-outrage crowd.  We see nothing wrong with the e-mail that Atlanta Hawks’ owner Bruce Levenson sent to his colleagues:  he was calling for more diversity in the cheerleading team and arena music selection; citing the need to attract more affluent whites to the season ticket ranks; advancing a theory that perhaps some presumably racist white people are afraid to come to games and that the team should address their perception, while being careful to add that he didn’t personally share that perception (this second clause in his statement scurrilously left out of the Washington Post‘s coverage); and benchmarking other teams’ fan bases and marketing approaches.  Seems like normal business.

Cue the moronic template statement from the NBA commissioner:  “As Mr. Levenson acknowledged, the views he expressed are entirely unacceptable and are in stark contrast to the core principles of the National Basketball Association.”  This mechanical pablum with utterly no context could have been issued at any time, in any of these phony “scandals.”  If one didn’t know better, one would doubt its sincerity.

The interesting question is how the information came out.  He sent the e-mail in August 2012 and reportedly “voluntarily reported the email to the NBA” in July 2014, triggering an “independent investigation” by the league.  One wonders the circumstances of this reporting.  Why would Levenson report it?  Did he learn that some news was about to leak, and/or the NBA’s “investigation” was about to crucify him, prompting him to try to get out in front of it?  Presumably, during the Donald Sterling fracas, Silver put the other owners on notice that a witch-hunt was coming.  (Of course, the witch-hunt would be coming from the NBA itself, even though the commissioner is supposed to actually represent the owners not sell them out.)  Did Silver offer the owners some type of amnesty, in asking them to get anything potentially damaging out there, and then renege?

(As hackneyed as it is, we can play the usual thought experiment and switch the races in Levenson’s message, and realize that, had he said that the team needs to add more black-oriented music and black cheerleaders, attract more upscale blacks, and otherwise address blacks’ perceptions of the brand to make the environment more comfortable for them, he’d probably receive an award for promoting racial harmony.)

These are all troubling questions, coming soon, no doubt, to your employer too.

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Who are more sympathetic perpetrators: Muslim men abusing young girls, or Catholic priests abusing young boys?

Walter Russell Mead points out the New York Times‘s bias, which reinforces the puzzlement we pondered yesterday.  When it’s homosexual priests abusing young boys, it’s an indictment of religion.  When it’s Muslim men abusing girls, well, that’s rape, and if you even point out the religious aspect, you’re a bigot.

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Adrift trying to navigate the false equivalencies and hierarchy of victimhood

Attractive Tacoma teacher Meredith Powell, age 24, pled guilty to having sex with a couple of male students, ages 15-16.  Everyone has played their dutiful part in the aftermath:  the mainstream media reported on the “rape”; commenters everywhere decried the “double standard,” as a male teacher certainly would (and has) received much harsher punishment for a similar offense; and the 99% that comprise of the rest of us snickered, with some subset of that group envious that they never had teachers like that in high school.

Perhaps, genders aside, one could argue that the teacher abused her power position, but, judging by the sexts the fornicators sent each other, it appears that it was the alpha-men-in-training who had the psychological power over their lonely paramour.

Some on the right have also toed the “double standard” line, including a disappointingly tame Greg Gutfeld.  Polite conservative society seems unable to point out the illogic in the false equivalency between a woman “perpetrator” and a man in such circumstances.  Our polity moves on awaiting the next spectacle.

Where’s the outrage at the outrage?  Channeling Whoopi Goldberg and Todd Akin, this was not rape in any rational sense.  This was not forcible rape.  This was not coercive or even manipulative rape.  This was not date rape because-I-was-drunk-no-I-mean-drugged-actually-I-changed-my-mind-the-next-morning.  The “victims” were postpubescent males who gladly consented and certainly high-fived all their friends afterward.  As would any teenager after bonking a 24-year-old teacher who looks like that.

Meanwhile, following the release on the internet of private naked pictures of 100 starlets (and one dude) allegedly stolen from the iCloud, Time myopically asks, “Where Are All the Hacked Pics of Men?”  The article doesn’t really attempt to answer, which is more indicative of the author’s worldview than would be any attempt to analyze this profound question.  It’s self-evident sexism, of course—make that rape culture.  And, by the way, woman have a hard time working in technology.   And female video-game developers are routinely harassed.  Etc.

The Time author’s title is a rhetorical question, but not for the reason that most people assume.  Sure, one explanation is that there is little demand for such content.  Still, in the era of abundant internet niches to fulfill every imaginable prurient interest (and many that we can’t imagine), we can assume that there is someone out there purveying photos of naked famous men, presumably for the homosexual audience (Google “male celebrities naked pictures” and you’ll find plenty of on-point hits).  The main constraint is on the supply side:  because the “selfie” is largely a feminine phenomenon.  Facebook, Instagram, the “selfie stick,” the dual-camera iPhone, and the other culture-rotting diversions of our time exist because of female narcissism.  You won’t find many men taking pictures of their naked bodies in the bathroom mirror, much less feeling compelled to upload them to the internet.

None of this excuses the hackers’ invasion of privacy, but it is telling that Ricky Gervais was met with nearly universal opprobrium for repeating the obvious advice that we have all received at some point:  don’t publish something that you wouldn’t want to see broadcast across the internet.  Seasoned male pick-up artists (as well as anyone with any common sense) know that when you send an illicit pic to a chick, you make sure that it doesn’t contain any personally identifiable body parts.  But today’s women can’t seem to help themselves.

So, on the one hand, our intellectual elites tell us, there is no biological basis to our quaint notions of gender, so it would follow that there should be no difference between how society reacts to Meredith Powell versus a man similarly situated, and, by the same token, that we should be dumbfounded and outraged (dumraged?) why hackers sought out a nude Jennifer Lawrence but not a nude Joey Lawrence.  (OK, a bad example perhaps.)

On the other hand, in case you haven’t heard, there’s a war on women, not to mention a “deadly epidemic of violence against women.”  In fact, society cares more about endangered ex-pets than about battered women.  So we should come down hard on the patriarchy.  It’s unclear where violence against men is deemed to fall in this hierarchy of worry:  no one seems to care about prison rape, because, well, it’s men who are victimized, plus it’s part of the scourge of American exceptionalism and hence concern about it would place one on the wrong side of the social-justice-enlightenment see-saw.

Since the most noble status one can have in our society is that of victim, and the most righteous pursuit of our intelligentsia is to identify those hapless martyrs and their wrongdoers, it is becoming increasingly complicated to figure out which causes we are supposed to prioritize.  Approaching this puzzle with a basic understanding of the differences between males and females would be a good place to start, but, alas, that ship has sailed—when it suits the narrative.

It gets even harder to decipher the zeitgeist when you add sexual orientation as a dimension.  Civilized society (not to include the authorities in Rotherham) seems to be reacting with appropriate horror at abuse perpetrated by Muslims against young girls in England, as well as that against young boys by Catholic priests worldwide—though the politically-correct media has reduced the sociological sting of the latter crisis by almost universally obscuring its homosexual nature.  One suspects that the secular-progressives’ interest in the case is due mostly to their hatred of religion and their love of lawsuits (with the tort bar chomping at the legs of the table to get its supper).  It becomes complicated trying to patch together our perturbation across so many overlapping grievance groups and boogeymen.

We’ve been trying to come up with a formula to predict the level of contemporary outrage at sexually-based offenses controlling for the gender and sexual orientation of the putative victims and those of the perpetrators.  It’s only getting harder as the number of permutations grows exponentially with all of these new sexual identities.  We give up.

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