21ST CENTURY RELATIONSHIPS: ‘Of course, this is a circus, it looks ridiculous from the outside. But what you see when you look at each one of these men is pain and fear – that they have been living in situations where they have been lonely.’
October 13, 2015
IN THE MAIL: from Elana Beth Schwab, Joseph’s Dream.
Plus, today only at Amazon: Save $100 on the iRobot Looj 330 Gutter Cleaning Robot. The reviews are good.
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FUNDAMENTALLY TRANSFORMED: Army Sec: American Women Could Be Required to Register for Draft if Combat Jobs Integrated.
NOBEL PEACE PRIZE UPDATE: Central Asian Officials Say They’re Worried About Taliban’s Spread.
Despite failing to take Kunduz last week, the Taliban is advancing across Afghanistan, seemingly undeterred by U.S.-trained forces. Although a Russian return to Afghanistan seems unlikely, Central Asian officials have been making statements that could eventually justify Kremlin involvement. The Financial Times reports on the words of Kyrgyzstan’s prime minister, who claims his country is fortifying its borders, and Tajikistan’s president, who reportedly has expressed concerns to Putin about the skirmishes along his country’s borders. Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan are part of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, the members of which Moscow promises to protect. Russia could use that relationship to justify attacks against the Taliban.
Nor are these the only officials mentioned in the story: Afghanistan’s vice-president Abdul Rashid Dostum went to Russia and Grozny, “where he met Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov. Mr Kadyrov wrote on his Instagram account that Kabul needed help from Russia — ‘as in Syria’ — to prevent Isis establishing a foothold…”
Just about the last thing the White House needs is Putin sending fighter jets to Afghanistan. Of course, Russia would have a tough time affording another war effort and, for all we know, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan are simply complaining about the Taliban as part of a Moscow-coordinated effort to make NATO look bad.
Defense Secretary Ashton Carter says NATO is considering adjusting its Afghanistan withdrawal timeline, but the White House has not announced new plans. Ultimately, whether the Taliban truly threatens other countries or not, President Obama’s failure to stabilize Afghanistan gives a nice boost to the America-as-diminished-world-power narrative.
It’s almost like Obama doesn’t mind that.
OKAY, SO LONG AS I GET TO PAY CAYMAN TAXES BUT LIVE IN THE UNITED STATES: The Case for Getting Rid of Borders—Completely: No defensible moral framework regards foreigners as less deserving of rights than people born in the right place at the right time.
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BUT SHE WON’T, BECAUSE LIES AND FALSE CHARGES OF RACISM ARE BASICALLY HER ENTIRE PORTFOLIO: Susan Rice Should Apologize to Netanyahu for Charges of Racism: Accusations that Bibi-Obama rift is fueled by racism are outrageous and must be denounced.
THEY NEED TO OVERCOME THEIR PREJUDICED STEREOTYPES AND EMBRACE DIVERSITY: Many Professors Anxious About Legally Armed Students in Their Classrooms. I’m sure that many professors in the past were uncomfortable about having women, or blacks, or openly gay students in their classrooms, too. But happily, progress marches on and people’s visceral fears and dislikes weren’t allowed to rule.
TEACH WOMEN NOT TO RAPE! (CONT’D): Volunteer Rialto choir teacher held in sex crimes case. “Veronica Lopez, 44, a Rialto resident, was booked Saturday into the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga on felony charges of annoying or molesting a child under 18, oral copulation with a minor and possession of child pornography.”
PETRAEUS AND O’HANLON ARE SETTING THE BAR PRETTY HIGH, BASED ON RECENT HISTORY: Acting like adults, focusing on economic growth should be at the top of the policy agenda for U.S. leaders.
HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE, LEGAL EDUCATION EDITION: UC-Berkeley’s ‘Critical Mass’ Policy Results In Racial Divisions At Law School. “Diversity” programs always create racial divisions. And that’s not a bug, but a feature, since it gives diversity officers more things to do.
SO NOW PEOPLE REALLY WILL JUST READ IT MOSTLY FOR THE ARTICLES? Nudes Are Old News at Playboy:
Last month, Cory Jones, a top editor at Playboy, went to see its founder Hugh Hefner at the Playboy Mansion.
In a wood-paneled dining room, with Picasso and de Kooning prints on the walls, Mr. Jones nervously presented a radical suggestion: the magazine, a leader of the revolution that helped take sex in America from furtive to ubiquitous, should stop publishing images of naked women.
Mr. Hefner, now 89, but still listed as editor in chief, agreed. As part of a redesign that will be unveiled next March, the print edition of Playboy will still feature women in provocative poses. But they will no longer be fully nude.
Its executives admit that Playboy has been overtaken by the changes it pioneered. “That battle has been fought and won,” said Scott Flanders, the company’s chief executive. “You’re now one click away from every sex act imaginable for free. And so it’s just passé at this juncture.”
For a generation of American men, reading Playboy was a cultural rite, an illicit thrill consumed by flashlight. Now every teenage boy has an Internet-connected phone instead. Pornographic magazines, even those as storied as Playboy, have lost their shock value, their commercial value and their cultural relevance.
Perhaps the goal here is to temporarily remove nudity from Playboy to then allow the magazine to send out a press release in another year or two saying they’re back to (pardon the pun) goose sales. But if porno mags in general have indeed lost their shock value, I wonder what comes next in the ongoing Weimar-ification of American culture?
Related: “When Penthouse was in its heyday, few would have guessed that it would be outlived by, of all things, Mad magazine. Yet while Guccione’s dynasty is now an Ozymandian rubble of tits and ass, Alfred E. Neuman can still be seen leering out from magazine racks around the nation, a kind of silent rebuke to all the supposedly smart sophisticates he’s seen come and go.”
CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: Ex-head of Chicago Public Schools expected to plead guilty. “The former head of Chicago Public Schools is expected to plead guilty in what prosecutors say was a scheme to steer more than $23 million in no-bid contracts to education firms for $2.3 million in bribes and kickbacks.”
In recent years, as academics have taken a back seat to social justice, the most pressing questions facing college students have to do less with whether a degree will get you a job, and more to do with whether your feelings will be properly validated.
Enter White House Adviser Valerie Jarrett, who has a bylined article up at Yahoo! Parenting listing questions women should ask when searching for a college to attend. She repeats early on in the article the myth that 1 in 5 women are sexually assaulted while in college (she, of course, doesn’t point out that it’s a myth), and offers advice to parents of daughters searching for colleges to attend.
Jarrett offers four questions: What sexual assault prevention programs does the college have? What are the Title IX coordinator’s responsibilities? How easy is the reporting process for sexual assualt accusers? And what support services are available to those accusers? These are all fine questions for a cautious student who has been bombarded with media reports claiming that there’s a “crisis” of sexual assault on college campuses.
But I’m proposing my own short list for men who are preparing to attend college. This would go well with my warning to college men that the universities don’t care about them once they’re accused of sexual assault. There are many more questions that could and should be asked, but I’m limiting my list to four to pair with Jarrett’s.
They’re good questions.
Wow, great arguments, guys. You sure showed that pediatric neurosurgeon what was what. On one hand, Carson–a world-renowned pediatric surgeon–made a completely uncontroversial remark about the nature of the Nazi gun control regime: its entire purpose was to make it easier for Nazis to kill Jews. On the other hand, you used the F-word repeatedly. I don’t know who I can trust!
The progressive response to Carson is illustrative: deep down they know that Nazi gun confiscation during the Holocaust poses something of a problem for those who wish to institute gun confiscation regimes today. Defending forced gun confiscations in theory (“fewer guns means less violence!”) is a lot easier than defending forced gun confiscations in practice. So instead of being faced with either defending Hitler’s gun confiscation regime or acknowledging that Carson’s underlying point was correct, they chose to gaslight him.
They should not get off that easy, though. If they’re going to attack Carson for accurately describing the intent behind Nazi disarmament of Jews, then they need to answer a few questions about that disarmament regime. Question one: was Hitler wrong to disarm the Jews? Why or what not? (Or if you’re a Godwin’s law adherent: was the South wrong to forcibly disarm blacks?) And question two, should they deign to answer the first one: why did Hitler disarm the Jews?
Carson’s response to the howls of the PC left is the right one: We’ll call it “apathetic conviction.” He’s not outraged by the outrage; he simply doesn’t care. The outrage bores him. And no response is better calculated to rob critics of their power than boredom. You’re offended by my comments? I’m trending on Twitter? Wake me when the shame-storm is over, and then let’s debate my arguments on their substance.
A response that just drives the leftwing outrage mobs and their spokesmen in the MSM all the more crazy in the process, particularly when compared to the soft-spoken Carson.
NOBEL PEACE PRIZE UPDATE: Hope fades on Obama’s vow to bring troops home before presidency ends. But he brought enough home, fast enough, that we lost the war and destabilized a region. So we’ve got that going for us, anyway. This is what happens when you wage war half-assed, by committee, and on the cheap.
AND YET, HE’S OLD: Jerry Brown: Suicide good, extending life not.
Governor Jerry Brown has vetoed “Right to Try” legislation passed by large bipartisan majorities of both houses of the California legislature. In my recent Washington Examiner column on “Right to Try,” I noted that 24 states have adopted such measures, championed by the Goldwater Institute, which would allow terminal patients access to medicines certified as safe but not approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration. Brown justified his veto on the grounds that the FDA already has a compassionate use policy that allows some patients some access to these drugs. But as the Goldwater Institute points out, that process is incredibly cumbersome and only a small percentage of those in need are able to jump through all its hoops.
Less than a week before Brown signed a bill legalizing assisted suicide, on the grounds that it would help patients avoid suffering. But now he has vetoed right to try, which would help terminal patients avoid suffering and extend their lives. He will need all of his Jesuit training, and more, to reconcile those two decisions.
He won’t even try.
BUT NOT AN INTERNATIONAL SOCIALIST. MORE LIKE A NATIONAL KIND OF ONE. Sanders: I’m no capitalist, I’m a Democratic Socialist!
There may be plenty of good reasons why Republicans are now seeking a “fresh face” as House speaker. But picking from outside the existing chain of command could also create some big challenges.
It also would be highly unusual. Only once in the last century has someone been chosen to preside over the House without ever occupying a lower rung in the leadership. The past 16 speakers, in other words, have won with serious insider credentials — even when political common sense has pointed to the selection of a certified outsider.
It’s very possible that precedent will be skirted this fall. Most of the members now in the roiling mix for speaker have made their reputations as policy experts, ideological warriors or marketing experts for the GOP — but have never been called on to practice those talents using the special tool kit of political power, staff resources and outside influence that comes along with a seat at the top table.
NEWS YOU CAN USE: Good to know! Birther jokes are totally cool when @TheDemocrats make them.
Hopefully now the same Democrats making Canadian jokes about Ted Cruz will lighten up around those people who’ve long been pointing out that Obama is a closeted Keynesian.
MINNESOTA DENTIST WON’T GET CHARGED FOR CECIL THE LION HUNT: “Golly — you mean the lynch mob was wrong? Go figure. Palmer, an experienced hunter, had his papers in order all along.”
CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: Top Clinton aide worked on Abu Dhabi project while at State.
Hilary Clinton’s former chief of staff spent some of her time at the State Department working part time to build a campus for New York University (NYU) in Abu Dhabi.
Cheryl Mills disclosed the details of the special arrangement — which are likely to raise additional questions about top government officials who split their time between official and private work — in an interview with The Washington Post published on Monday.
Mills worked “very hard” to stick to State Department rules preventing conflict of interest, she said in the interview.
“I try to understand the rules and follow them. And I try to make sure that I’m disclosing my obligations,” Mills said. “I don’t know if I’m ever perfect. But I was obviously trying very hard to make sure I was following those rules and guidelines.”
Mills served as Clinton’s chief of staff during the Democratic presidential candidate’s time as secretary of State.
There is no try. There is only do, or not do.
COMBATING SCIENCE FICTION’S GROUNDHOG DAY SYNDROME: Appendix N Survey Complete.
Ideological diversity in science fiction and fantasy was a given in the seventies. We are hopelessly homogenistic in comparison to them.
The program of political correctness of the past several decades has made even writers like Ray Bradbury and C. L. Moore all but unreadable to an entire generation. The conditioning is so strong, some people have almost physical reactions to the older stories now. — Read the whole thing.
WAIT, REALLY WHAT: Who Stands in the Way of a Feminist Utopia? Women. Oh, you mean that (Marxist) Utopia? Yep. Guilty as charged. You may thank me later.
IN A DESPERATE BID FOR RELEVANCE: NYCC 2015: Paul Krugman and Brad DeLong Ponder the ‘Star Trek’ Economy.
HOW COULD IT NOT BE WHEN MOST OF THE GOVERNMENTS REPRESENTED ARE CORRUPT: The long, sordid tale of corrupt UN leadership.
THE KABUKI THEATER OF THE INDOCTRINATED: Why Do Texas Students Plan To Carry Sex Toys To Protest Against New Campus Carry Law?
WHAT DO YOU CALL 500 DEAD UNION BRANCHES AT THE BOTTOM OF AN ABYSS: Major threat to public-sector union membership.
DEATH WISH: Jerry Brown Vetoes Right to Try and Live Bill. Never any interest in “try and live,” never any rationing on assisted suicide. So, pro death?
October 12, 2015
SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER, OR SOMETHING: Trump: Merkel ‘Insane’, Predicts German Riots, Says Migrants Look Like Prime Time Soldiers.
OBAMA DOESN’T SEEM HUMILIATED. HE SEEMS FINE WITH IT. Russia and Iran running neck-and-neck in Obama-humiliating sweepstakes.
Around 2.5 million people aged 65 and older are treated in the ER for falls each year, but researchers who took part in a Massachusetts General Hospital study warn not to automatically assume that “older” means they took a tumble because they’re feeble, clumsy, or suffering from poor eyesight or dementia.
Instead, per the Telegraph, there may be a more surprising cause, scientists announced at the Infectious Diseases Society of America’s annual meeting: an infection. Urinary tract, bloodstream, and respiratory infections are the most common culprits when infections are involved—all of which can often lead to dizziness, low blood pressure, and other symptoms that may precipitate a fall, a press release notes.
The release adds that while it’s currently unclear how many falls are actually caused by infection—estimates based on previous research range from 20 to 45 percent —researchers wanted to find out what kinds of infections afflicted those who had fallen because of them.
How the study was conducted, per Forbes: Reviewing the hospital’s medical records from 2000 to 2014, researchers whittled its group of subjects down to 161 patients who had suffered a fall and been determined to have a coexisting systemic infection (CDI).
Of the 161, 44 percent had a UTI, almost 40 percent had a bloodstream infection, and 23 percent had a respiratory infection, the release notes; meanwhile, almost 6 percent had a heart valve infection.
What made the results of the study somewhat surprising: A majority of the subjects (56 percent) had few or no common symptoms of an infection, leading to 41 percent of them being misdiagnosed initially.
BECAUSE LEAVING YOU ALONE OFFERS INSUFFICIENT OPPORTUNITIES FOR GRAFT: Points And Figures: Why Can’t They Just Leave Us Alone? “We had Obamacare, now we have ObamaSave. It’s the proposed rules on retirement courtesy of President Obama. When you roll over a 401(k) to an IRA, you will have to be advised by someone acting in your best interest. Do you know who acts the best in your best interest? You. This is pure stupidity and just layers on another cost.”
HOMING IN ON THE SOURCE OF RUNNER’S HIGH. I’ve never experienced it, though I have started running again in a very mild way. I’m running a mile a couple of times a week, just for a change. Rippetoe is right that heavy lifting keeps you in good enough cardio shape that you can run a mile without getting winded. On the other hand — and this is one reason why I’m doing it — my form is terrible. I feel like a lumbering moose. I expect that will improve with practice.
UPLOAD YOUR MIND: Will You Ever Be Able to Upload Your Brain? Interesting piece, but it appears to embody Clarke’s First Law: “When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.”
AND WITH THAT, BERNIE LOSES THE REASON CROWD: All y’all understand that Bernie Sanders is not enamored of the marijuana, yes?
But Maureen Dowd may be having strange new respect, though.
SO, THAT DIDN’T WORK OUT WELL:
Thousands of conservatives and even some moderates have complained during my more than three-year term that The Post is too liberal; many have stopped subscribing, including more than 900 in the past four weeks.
It pains me to see lost subscribers and revenue, especially when newspapers are shrinking. Conservative complaints can be wrong: The mainstream media were not to blame for John McCain’s loss; Barack Obama’s more effective campaign and the financial crisis were.
But some of the conservatives’ complaints about a liberal tilt are valid. Journalism naturally draws liberals; we like to change the world. I’ll bet that most Post journalists voted for Obama. I did. There are centrists at The Post as well. But the conservatives I know here feel so outnumbered that they don’t even want to be quoted by name in a memo.
—The late Deborah Howell, the Washington Post’s then-ombudswoman, admitting on Sunday, November 16, 2008 just how badly her paper was in the tank to elect Mr. Obama.
Flash-forward to today: “Washington Post Reporter ‘Convicted’ of Espionage By Our Best Pals in Iran.”
—Headline, Ace of Spades today.
As Betsy Newmark adds, “This is what happens when a presidential administration doesn’t prioritize the lives of American citizens. With all that negotiating for a year with Iran, we couldn’t have made his release a condition of talking? Nope, because Obama wouldn’t let anything stand in the way of his dream of a deal.” And in their hatred of President Bush, the media were not prepared to properly vet Mr. Obama in 2008. As even CNN admitted by the end of November 2008, Americans “are putting a lot of faith in a man they barely know.”
The eight year experiment with the Obama administration will be a cautionary tale on multiple levels concerning America’s socialist elite and their palace guard stenographers. It will be debated for many years to come — no matter how badly the president and his acolytes leave America — and increasingly the Middle East — “fundamentally transformed.”
FUNDAMENTALLY TRANSFORMED: America’s Fading Footprint in the Middle East. “From shepherding Israel toward peace with its Arab neighbors to rolling back Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait and halting the contagion of Iran’s Islamic Revolution, the U.S. has long been at the core of the Middle East’s security system. Its military might secured critical trade routes and the bulk of the world’s oil supply. Today, the void created by U.S. withdrawal is being filled by the very powers that American policy has long sought to contain.” Well, you know, now Obama has more flexibility.
WELL, OKAY, BUT I ALREADY HAVE A SHOTGUN: British Companies Build Jamming System To Take Down Drones.
NEW YORK TIMES SHILLS FOR MOVIE THAT CLAIMS TO EXONERATE DAN RATHER—AGAINST ALL EVIDENCE. At City Journal, Scott Johnson writes:
All of which raises a simple question: What is the New York Times doing promoting the film and Rather’s and Mapes’s discredited accounts? While Rathergate lacks the historical importance of Walter Duranty’s journalistic wrongdoing as the Times’s Moscow bureau chief in the 1930s, it nonetheless should serve as an uncomfortable reminder of that shameful episode. As the Times’s man in Moscow, Duranty covered up Stalin’s terror famine in the Ukraine. Reflecting in the first volume of his autobiography on his experience working for the Manchester Guardian alongside Duranty in Moscow, Malcolm Muggeridge wrote: “If the New York Times went on all those years giving great prominence to Duranty’s messages, building him and them up when they were so evidently nonsensically untrue . . . this was not, we may be sure, because the Times was deceived. Rather it wanted to be so deceived, and Duranty provided the requisite deception material.” History repeats itself; in its own way, the Times’s celebration of Truth represents a closing of this particular circle.
Read the whole thing.
Related: Michael Graham interviews Harry MacDougald, the Atlanta lawyer who’s initial questioning of the validity of the Killian documents exposed the flawed CBS report about George W. Bush’s National Guard Service.
DAVE, MY MIND IS GOING. I CAN FEEL IT:
Shot: A report in the New York Post claims that Hillary Clinton could have “a serious meltdown,” as the emotional pressure of a failing campaign is causing her to have “childlike tantrums” that “leave staffers in tears.”
—Rick Moran at the PJ Tatler, yesterday.
Chaser: Hillary Clinton: “I’m Really Not Even a Human Being.”
—Vanity Fair, today.
Suddenly all of those “Reboot Hillary Clinton” headlines over the past couple of years take on an entirely new perspective…
Related: David Axelrod on Hillary’s robotic nature: “She has to be very careful about not looking like she is not reading from a script…So I just think the biggest thing they have to do is filter everything they do through that authenticity lens. Because if she comes off as inauthentic, it’s going to just compound what seems to be the core problem facing her right now.”
That she’s having great difficulties passing the Turing Test?
NEWS YOU CAN USE: How to Talk to Your Kids (and Yourself) about Christopher Columbus.
Related: “Columbus Day is the perfect gift for media: a whole day of outrage takes/countertakes that can be scheduled in advance on a holiday weekend.”
ANCHOR DADDIES?: Why so many of Europe’s middle eastern migrants are men.
Many of the men I interviewed traveling solo told me they had left their families behind and intended to reunite with them once they’d been accepted by a safe European country.
This helps to clarify why so many of Europe’s newcomers are young men. Of 102,753 registered arrivals through Italy and Greece, the International Organization of Migration found that 68,085 were men, with only 13,888 women and 20,780 children. . . .
“They tell us, ‘We do this dangerous trip on our own, we get asylum, and there is a law in the European Union that the family can come,’” says Christof Zellenberg, the chairman of the Europa Institute, who has been heavily involved in volunteer efforts in Vienna. You see few newcomers over 50, he adds, because “this is a grueling trip, and you need to be young and strong.” . . .
But a future influx of families could another problem, as Zellenberg notes. Europe is already struggling to deal with the financial burden caused by today’s newcomers, who are pouring across European borders at levels not seen since World War II. If the majority of these men plan to bring families later, the current numbers are totally off. Multiply it by four or more, he says.
These anchor daddies will strain Europe’s resources and could fundamentally transform its culture.
OBAMA FIDDLED WITH THE THERMOSTAT WHILE THE WORLD BURNED: Steve Green on “President Nero:”
Maybe Putin will save Assad, maybe he won’t. But people and governments in the Middle East will long remember that Obama’s definition of leadership meant abandoning our allies in Baghdad, showing the back of his hand to our friends in Jerusalem, cozying up to the liars and killers in Tehran, waging an effete air campaign against ISIS, and dithering while Syria descended into an almost unimaginable humanitarian crisis.
In the broader region, Obama’s leadership left Libya in ruins and wide open to ISIS penetration, alienated Egypt, decreased our leverage in Pakistan, and accomplished almost nothing in Afghanistan except to turn it into a safe haven for pederasts.
Obama’s disastrous failure to lead in the Middle East has helped to flood Europe with refugees and potential terrorists, encouraging the rise of Putin-like far-right parties throughout NATO and the EU. Meanwhile, Moscow appears set to flagrantly violate Obama’s New START agreement, building up its arsenal of deployed nuclear warheads above the impending caps. Our own arsenal continues to shrink, already well under the 2018 limits.
However, the president does see an opportunity coming soon to turn all this around, telling Kroft that “my definition of leadership would be leading on climate change, an international accord that potentially we’ll get in Paris.”
Obama fiddled with the thermostat while the world burned.
Read the whole thing.
A TALE OF TWO DEAD WHITE MALES. Woodrow Wilson vs. John C. Calhoun. “Unlike the Yale petition, the Princeton campaign against Wilson has gained little traction and has received no national media attention. Why? The answer surely has something to do with the fact that Wilson, the founder of the modern Democratic Party, is a progressive icon, while Calhoun is reviled as a proto-conservative.”
TO BE FAIR, WHY WOULD ANYONE WANT TO DO THAT? If we don’t get Joe Biden, there won’t be one candidate who’s running on Barack Obama’s record.
JOE PAPPALARDO: Confessions of a Private Space Rocket Engineer. “It’s a hell of a time to be working as a young space engineer in the United States. Back in the day—and by that we mean less than 10 years ago—engineers had no options but to work inside massive aerospace firms, toiling away on small minutiae of aerospace projects that may never make it past the drawing board. And for most of their careers, they’d remain far away from any hardware that actually flew. But these days there are options—private space companies working on a plethora of spacecraft and launch vehicles.”
DAVE KOPEL: Unarmed Jews defeat mass murder: Revolts at the extermination camps. “Sometimes the only way to stop mass killers is to fight. That was the strategy attempted by the Jewish prisoners on October 14, 1943, at the Sobibor extermination camp in Poland.”
I’m also reminded of the surprisingly-good miniseries Uprising, based on the Warsaw Ghetto Revolt. Here’s a review that Kopel and I wrote back when it came out. And here are some related thoughts of mine from a while back.
THESE TIMES CALL FOR A REALLY STUPID, FUTILE GESTURE. And he’s just the guy who can do it. “Today I went to my local police station and asked for them to take my guns and have them destroyed. . . . Last week, I sat in a hotel room and watched the President talk about the latest mass shooting and how they had become routine and the concern that nothing would change. I started to shrug it off and pretend in my mind that there was nothing I could do. But the idea that gun culture doesn’t bear some responsibility for these killings didn’t make sense to me. I didn’t want to be a part of gun culture anymore.”
Honestly, I’m happy to see anyone so susceptible to demagoguery disarmed.
Plus, today only at Amazon: Save 68% on the Bosch 12-Volt Max Combo Kit.
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BRAVE SIR BARACK RAN AWAY: Has the White House Given Up on Confronting Russia?
On Friday, the Obama Administration officially announced the end of its spectacularly unsuccessful $500 million plan to train and equip moderate Syrian rebels. . . .
This latest decision is the most obvious manifestation of what Obama Administration officials have been telling the press for the past few days: the plan for Syria, in light of Russia’s intervention, is to do nothing to escalate the situation. There are no plans to send anti-aircraft weapons to moderate rebels being hit by Russian air strikes, for example. Eli Lake and Josh Rogin write that some White House advisors are even encouraging the President “to give up on toppling the Syrian regime.”
Administration officials, frustrated by years of their own inability to decisively solve the Syrian crisis, appear confident that the Russians will in due time get bogged down as well. It doesn’t help advocates of confronting Russia, of course, that the Europeans prefer “a more practical relationship,” as European Commissioner Jean-Claude Juncker said yesterday. Last week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande handed Putin a not-insignificant win by agreeing to maintain the status quo in Ukraine. There is now some real doubt about whether the U.S.-led sanctions regime will hold next year.
Obama says he’s taking the long view.
I think in this context, “the long view” means “until after January 20, 2017.”
Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace said that big-business groups are ready to target House Freedom Caucus members if they don’t “play ball” with the GOP establishment and support Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)’s (R-WI) potential candidacy for House Speaker.
Wallace said that he has been told that “there’s a lot of pressure being put on by the establishment and business groups, saying that some of those Freedom Caucus members, if you’re not going to play ball and you’re not going to get involved, you’re going to get a primary opponent.”
The Chamber of Commerce has reportedly budgeted $100 million to destroy the Tea Party this election cycle and news of the chamber’s plans came not-so-coincidentally days after House Speaker Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) announced that he would be resigning from Congress.As Roll Call noted, the chamber’s “top targets in 2016 will be right-wing, tea party candidates” and its ultimate goal is to reportedly win back “the soul of the Republican Party” for the GOP establishment establishment by helping elect more moderate candidates “in contested primaries to strengthen their hand during policy debates on the Hill.”
So apparently the Chamber and GOP establishment have come to the conclusion that continued conflict, not cooperation, with constitutional conservatives is the best path forward. And they wonder why the tea party is distrustful and angry?
“Paul Ryan is a good man. He’s a great communicator, the kind of messenger I think our party needs,” Freedom Caucus Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said on “Fox News Sunday.” ”And certainly, if he gets in the race, I think our group would look favorably on him.” . . .
One Republican close to Ryan said that the only scenario in which Ryan might end up as speaker is if he were to be selected by unanimous acclamation, not subject to bargaining with the Freedom Caucus. This Republican demanded anonymity to discuss private considerations.
Somehow I think an attitude of “I will accept the Speakership, but only if you unanimously support me and accept that I will not bargain with you” isn’t exactly the right attitude to “unite” the House GOP.
UPDATE: Fixed broken link (at intro).
Peter Wehner writes about the “cultural and moral context that allows someone like [Donald] Trump – narcissistic, crude, obsessed with wealth and fame, and who has never felt the need to ask God for forgiveness* – to emerge.” Pete believes that “it is hardly a coincidence that Donald Trump shot to the top of the polls in a nation that celebrates the Kardashians.”
Pete ties his discussion of the cultural and moral context that fuels Trump’s campaign to David Brooks’ recent book, The Road to Character. According to Brooks:
Each society creates its own moral ecology. A moral ecology is a set of norms, assumptions, beliefs and habits of behavior and an institutionalized set of moral demands that emerge organically. Our moral ecology encourages us to be a certain sort of person.
Over the past several decades we have built a moral ecology around the Big Me, around the belief in a golden figure inside. This has led to a rise in narcissism and self-aggrandizement.
And the rise of toadying establishment stenographers who believe that some men are destined for the White House based upon the sharpness of their trouser creases.
In other words, America’s moral ecology didn’t collapse overnight with the arrival of The Donald to the campaign trail earlier this year:
* But to the best of our knowledge, never prayed in a church led by a pastor shouting “God damn America.“
STACY MCCAIN: Moving the Goalposts: What Feminist ‘Rape Culture’ Discourse Is About. “American women are now less at risk of rape than at any time in the past 40 years, and the emergence of a frantic hysteria about ‘rape culture’ on college campuses therefore seems contradictory — unless you understand how feminist theory ‘problematizes’ heterosexuality. . . . What Filipovic describes as feminist ‘disenchantment with the “No means no” framework’ amounts to an admission that the recent rhetorical fury about ‘rape culture’ is actually an attempt to move the goalposts, in such a way as to criminalize normal male sexual behavior. The confusion created by so-called ‘affirmative consent’ policies (also known as ‘yes means yes’) is understandable because most people would be shocked senseless if they stopped to consider what it actually means. . . . Filipovic’s suggestion of ‘a different social model’ as the basis for a legal standard where men are deemed guilty of rape if a woman later says did not consent ‘enthusiastically’ raises the question of how such a standard could be enforced. Preventing rape is a laudable goal, but that’s not Filipovic’s goal. Her goal is to make men responsible for women’s post-coital regret.”
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THOU SHALT NOT! A Liberal’s Ten Commandments, as brought down from Mount Obama by Victor Davis Hanson.
WEBB HAS KEPT AN AWFULLY LOW PROFILE UP TO NOW: The wild card at the Democratic debate could be the guy no one’s talking about. “In an atmosphere where establishment politicians are despised on both sides of the aisle, Webb’s genuine rebelliousness could be an asset. Yet voters also want to be courted, and Webb appears to have done little wooing in the early states.”
As far as I can tell, he hasn’t done much, period. Which is kind of weird.
THE CAMP OF THE SAINTS IS JUST A NOVEL, RIGHT GUYS? RIGHT? GUYS? Europeans struggle as migrant crush shuts down their train system.
A TRANSNATIONAL CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: EFF: The Final Leaked TPP Text is All That We Feared.
If you skim the chapter without knowing what you’re looking for, it may come across as being quite balanced, including references to the need for IP rules to further the “mutual advantage of producers and users” (QQ.A.X), to “facilitate the diffusion of information” (QQ.A.Z), and recognizing the “importance of a rich and accessible public domain” (QQ.B.x). But that’s how it’s meant to look, and taking this at face value would be a big mistake.
If you dig deeper, you’ll notice that all of the provisions that recognize the rights of the public are non-binding, whereas almost everything that benefits rightsholders is binding. That paragraph on the public domain, for example, used to be much stronger in the first leaked draft, with specific obligations to identify, preserve and promote access to public domain material. All of that has now been lost in favor of a feeble, feel-good platitude that imposes no concrete obligations on the TPP parties whatsoever.
Another, and perhaps the most egregious example of this bias against users is the important provision on limitations and exceptions to copyright (QQ.G.17). In a pitifully ineffectual nod towards users, it suggests that parties “endeavor to achieve an appropriate balance in its copyright and related rights system,” but imposes no hard obligations for them to do so, nor even offers U.S.-style fair use as a template that they might follow. The fact that even big tech was ultimately unable to move the USTR on this issue speaks volumes about how utterly captured by Hollywood the agency is.
If Republicans were smart, they’d make an issue of this. Also: Repeal the Hollywood Tax Cuts!
WANTED: A Tea Party Speaker.
But maybe the lesson of those struggles is that the speakership simply isn’t a job for a professional dealmaker and institutionalist at the moment. Instead, maybe it’s a job for a conviction politician, an ideologue (in the best way!) who’s also interested in governing.
Maybe, in other words, House Republicans need a speaker who’s an ambassador from the Tea Party to the G.O.P.’s K Street/Chamber of Commerce wing, rather than the other way around.
The reality is this: The only way the Republican House majority can become less dysfunctional and chaotic in the short run is if the next speaker wins the trust of enough conservative backbenchers to quell or crush revolts from the rest. And the best way to win that trust is to be seen as fundamentally on the insurgents’ side, which is a feat that Boehner, given his background and priorities, could never hope to manage.
MICHAEL GRAHAM: “Let’s have a statewide ban on zero tolerance policies so schools and police can use their discretion!” Video at link.
As mentioned in Michael’s video: Panicked Parents, Cautious Cops Keep Kids at Home on 9/11: A bogus Facebook posting about a Black Panther invasion caused more than 500 middle Georgia students to miss school.
That said, what I really want to talk about is that pile of Monopoly houses, far, far outnumbering the hotels. There are 120 million households, and 158 spend half of what is spent, and amount that’s only $176 million. If all of the households gave just $5, that would be $600 million, vastly overwhelming those supposedly fearsome, overspending, rich, white men. That money could be given directly to that candidate (since it comes, obviously, nowhere near the limit).
Instead of complaining about 158 families spending $176 million (which strikes me as a fairly paltry amount, especially since only $2,700 can be given to a candidate), the clamor should be about the need for everyone to give just a little money to someone. Skip one cup of coffee, one cheeseburger, one movie, and give the money to the candidate you like best. It could be so easy.
And yet bitching about those terrible rich people — those terrible male white people — serves other political interests… interests that the rich white males who own The New York Times have a constitutional right to push with all the powerful rhetoric and lovely graphics they can muster.
It’s Potemkin villages all the way down.
SNL’S MICHAEL CHE ON BEN CARSON: ‘PLEASE, AMERICA, PICK ANYBODY BUT THE BLACK GUY.’
As a wise former member of Saturday Night Live would say, “This is about hating [another] black man in the White House. This is racism straight up,” from SNL’s producer and writers.
But then, as Salon warned last year, “It’s not easy being black on ‘Saturday Night Live’” particularly when the show’s writers and producer forces one of its historically few black cast members to perform such racially denigrating material.
LIFE IN THE 21ST CENTURY: The Exploitabilty of the Slackoisie. “But I digress. There is no question but that the happiness of the newest, youngest, least competent, least experienced, person in a law firm dictates how a firm should function. Every firm should reinvent itself for this new lawyer’s happiness, lest others in the office be affected.”
ROGER SIMON WANTS TO HELP CNN PREPARE FOR TUESDAY’S DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE DEBATE:
Tuesday’s debate will be moderated by Anderson Cooper with his colleague Dana Bash and CNN Español’s Juan Carlos Lopez chiming in. Don Lemon will handle questions from Facebook, allegedly selected to represent a clued-in online public (sort of the liberal-left equivalent of a Drudge Poll, I suppose).
What does this add up to? How do you spell “softball?”
I think we should help out CNN and come up with a few questions of our own for the candidates, since they’re probably not going to attack each other in any meaningful way. (I’ll take Chris Cillizza’s word for it). With Donald Trump not in attendance, this could be a monumental snore. (No wonder they cut an hour.) Someone has to come to the aid of the network with some interesting questions.
What questions would you like CNN to ask to avoid the appearance of a complete softball debate?
HAPPY COLUMBUS DAY: Many in the West will demonstrate their fierce originality and intellectual independence today by condemning Christopher Columbus using the same shopworn cliches they used last year. For those of a different bent, I recommend Samuel Eliot Morison’s Admiral of the Ocean Sea: A Life of Christopher Columbus, which takes a somewhat different position. Here’s an excerpt:
At the end of 1492 most men in Western Europe felt exceedingly gloomy about the future. Christian civilization appeared to be shrinking in area and dividing into hostile units as its sphere contracted. For over a century there had been no important advance in natural science and registration in the universities dwindled as the instruction they offered became increasingly jejune and lifeless. Institutions were decaying, well-meaning people were growing cynical or desperate, and many intelligent men, for want of something better to do, were endeavoring to escape the present through studying the pagan past. . . .
Yet, even as the chroniclers of Nuremberg were correcting their proofs from Koberger’s press, a Spanish caravel named Nina scudded before a winter gale into Lisbon with news of a discovery that was to give old Europe another chance. In a few years we find the mental picture completely changed. Strong monarchs are stamping out privy conspiracy and rebellion; the Church, purged and chastened by the Protestant Reformation, puts her house in order; new ideas flare up throughout Italy, France, Germany and the northern nations; faith in God revives and the human spirit is renewed. The change is complete and startling: “A new envisagement of the world has begun, and men are no longer sighing after the imaginary golden age that lay in the distant past, but speculating as to the golden age that might possibly lie in the oncoming future.”
Christopher Columbus belonged to an age that was past, yet he became the sign and symbol of this new age of hope, glory and accomplishment. His medieval faith impelled him to a modern solution: Expansion.
Morison’s book is superb, and I recommend it highly as an antidote to the simplistic anti-occidental prejudice of today — which, as Jim Bennett has noted, has roots that might surprise its proponents:
This is primarily an effect of the Calvinist Puritan roots of American progressivism. Just as Calvinists believed in the centrality of the depravity of man, with the exception of a minuscule contingent of the Elect of God, their secularized descendants believe in the depravity and cursedness of Western civilization, with their own enlightened selves in the role of the Elect.
Indeed. Nonetheless, Bennett thinks that a different Italian deserves the real credit. (Reposted from 2005, but it still fits.) [Doesn't this leave you vulnerable to charges of recycling too? --ed. I prefer to think of it as "They came at us in the same old way, and, you know, we beat them in the same old way."]
I post this every year, as it’s evergreen. The original link to Bennett’s column seems to have succumbed to link-rot, but I believe this is it.
YEAH, BUT HUMANS HAVE ALWAYS PRESENTED THE BEST FACE TO THE WORLD: This is no different than those Christmas newsletters people send. Our double lives: Dark realities behind ‘perfect’ online profiles.
YOU SEE THEM AROUND HERE A LOT: Last week I was trying to point them out to friends from out of state, but I couldn’t for the life of me remember the word “Glider.” How Gliders Fly, And How They’re Different Than Powered Aircraft.
WHEN GUN CONTROL MEANS HITTING WHAT YOU AIM AT: On October 11, a concealed carry permit holder shot and killed an alleged armed robber inside Cafe Azzurri in Waterbury, Connecticut.