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REX MURPHY: “If America falls, it will not be from external enemies. It will be by her own hand. That is the inescapable conclusion one carries away from a reading of Reckless Endangerment, an account of the ferocious financial crisis that exploded in 2008 and through which, to this very day, the United States is still struggling to find safe and solid ground. . . . Any person with a regard for the United States, or with some surviving faith in the virtues of representative democracy, will finish this book severely angry. It’s a good game to play, should you start to read it, to keep count of the number of times you lay the book down in exasperated wonder that the American system could have been so twisted, so abused and so turned against itself.”

Plus this:

If there is ever a Mount Rushmore for hypocrites, the face of Democratic Congressman Barney Frank -Fannie Mae’s friend in every sordid scrape (until nothing could be hidden anymore) -should be the first to go up. It was the complaisance and complicity of elected politicians like him that enabled Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to achieve the power they did, to violate so utterly their own charters, to defy and slander their regulators (they set rumours afloat that one honest overseer was having “mental problems”) as long as the mortgage giants tossed funds into their political kitties, gave them ribbon cutting ceremonies for “minority housing,” and greased their re-election efforts.

The real story of Reckless Endangerment is more a story of democracy corrupted than it is a story of financial fraud. It is a story of America’s great wounding of herself. And even now, with this book, the full account is not nearly as known as it should be; and as the authors so sadly point out, nearly every one of the principals who brought such misery and shame upon their countrymen are free, prosperous, in many cases highly honoured and “serving” still at the highest levels of political and financial power.

At the very least, this needs to be pointed out continuously.

BEYOND PARODY: The Obama administration’s latest effort to stem sexual abuse on college campuses borrows heavily from the onetime iPhone slogan: “there’s an app for that.”

“Today the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, with the Department of Health and Human Services, announced a contest to develop a smartphone app to help students better protect themselves in risky situations. The effort is dubbed Apps Against Abuse. . . . The competition calls for developers to build an app that lets women designate friends or emergency contacts and check in with them during at-risk situations. The app would also provide fast access to information and resources for dealing with sexual assault or dating violence.”

Wait, just women? Isn’t that sexist?

While the White House is busy focusing on the important issue of student sexual misbehavior, maybe we need an app to protect male students against false rape accusations, too? As Emily Bazelon said after the Hofstra bogus-rape incident: “The weird lesson for men who have group sex in bathrooms: Film it on your cell phone.”

UPDATE: Important Advice For College Women.

AMY ALKON: When Women Confuse Being Asked Out With Being Raped At Knifepoint In An Elevator. So we’ve gone from No means no, to No means you shouldn’t have asked.

Plus, from the comments:

The irony of this entire story for me is that this is a community of skeptics.

Yet if anyone within the skeptic community is skeptical of Rebecca Watson’s interpretation of events and hence calls into question her interpretation, they are immediately branded a sexist or a misogynist.

Apparently there are some things you aren’t allowed to be skeptical of within the skeptics community.

They use up all their skepticism on one topic. There’s none left for others.

And, as always, wisdom from XKCD.

THERE SEEMS TO BE A LOT OF THIS ALL OF A SUDDEN: Another High-Profile Rape Case Collapsing? “Mother Jones is hardly an unsympathetic outlet for the case, so the detailed report from Stephanie Mencimer is all the more remarkable, and particularly well-written.”

CURIOUSER AND CURIOUSER: DSK’s French Accuser to File Attempted Rape Complaint. “The lawyer for French writer Tristane Banon announced today that his client intends to file attempted rape charges against former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn in Paris. ‘I will send the complaint to the public prosecutor’s office tomorrow,’ lawyer David Koubbi told the French weekly L’Express, ‘and they will receive it on Wednesday.’ The move comes only days after prosecutors in New York conceded that their case against Strauss-Kahn had been weakened by questions surrounding the credibility of a maid who has accused Strauss-Kahn of sexually assaulting her in May at the Sofitel Hotel in New York.”

CLARICE FELDMAN: HOW RICH IS THIS IRONY? “The NY Post article discussed here indicates the maid who accused Srauss-Kahn of rape was part of a prostitution/illegal immigrant ring in which the union which placed members at the Sofitel was intimately (pardon the expression) involved. I assume that union is the New York Hotel Workers’ Union, which makes this editorial titled ‘New York is the wrong place to prey on hotel workers..’ on their website too rich in irony.”

DSK UPDATE: The Letter the Prosecution Sent Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s Defense. “As I say, this doesn’t mean she wasn’t raped. But it would be very difficult to convict based on this person’s testimony.”

REPORT: Maid who accused DSK of sexual assault repeatedly lied: sources. “The maid who accused former IMF boss Dominique Strauss-Kahn of a violent sex attack in his Midtown hotel room has repeatedly lied to prosecutors and is ‘personally associated’ with money launderers and drug dealers — revelations that have sunk the prosecution’s case, sources told The Post last night. . . . Strauss-Kahn has admitted to having sex with her, but insisted it was consensual. That makes her the only one who can tell a jury she tried to resist — and DA Cyrus Vance now realizes that if she’s exposed to cross examinination she’ll be destroyed on the stand when defense lawyers shine a light on the skeletons in her closet. . . . prosecutors believe some of her account of her activities in the hours surrounding the alleged attack wasn’t true, though they haven’t necessarily reached a new conclusion about the incident itself, a law enforcement official told the Associated Press.” Well, that doesn’t mean she wasn’t raped, but it may mean that she’s not a credible complainant. On the other hand, he sure acted guilty that day.

UPDATE: A reader emails: “If DSK is innocent, and what happened was either consented to or just ‘bad sex’ (as Ann Althouse would say), then I think it’s an instructive example of the power imbalance between men and women in the legal setting. Also, a powerful example of what a class-neutral legal system we have.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: A cynical hedge-fund reader emails: “Does *anyone* think it’s a coincidence that DSK got his walking papers barely 2 days after his successor (a French finance minister with a Chicago law firm pedigree) was picked?”

Here’s more on Christine Lagarde.

AFRICAN VILLAGE uses DIY guns to fight rapists.

More here: “The Obo scouts represent a phenomenon found in many conflict zones. When government or occupying armies fail to provide security, vulnerable communities often organize their own forces. It has happened in northern Iraq’s besieged Christian communities, across Afghanistan and, most famously, in Sunni-dominated north-central Iraq, where volunteer ‘Sons of Iraq’ groups helped turn the tide against Iraqi insurgents. . . . The implications of Obo’s self-defense efforts are huge for vulnerable communities across Africa, for the rebel groups that threaten them, and for the central governments whose legitimacy erodes by the day, as everyday people build their own armies and intelligence apparatuses from scratch.” When governments fail to provide basic security, people resort to self-help. The results aren’t always pretty, but even the ugly ones are an indictment of authorities’ incompetence or unconcern. Note the comments on that last link . . .

WELCOME TO THE 21ST CENTURY, WHERE “A good wife is a good sex worker.”

“Disobedient wives are the cause for upheaval in this world,” the club’s vice president and co-founder, Dr. Rohayah Mohamad, told told the Associated Press. She blames the country’s rising divorce rate—as well as incidents of prostitution, rape, and even incest—on wives who have neglected to keep their husbands satisfied in bed.

Isn’t that what Chris Matthews was saying about the Weiner affair?

THE LAW IN JAPAN: Waltzing Into Bedrooms And Brothels.

Judges may also go far beyond their brief to comment on social mores, In one instance, in 1991, a judge decided that modern appliances are partly responsible for failed marriages because they “give women time to contemplate”. In that particular case the judge rejected a wife’s request for divorce after years of physical abuse, living separately and even a suicide attempt because her husband did not cheat or gamble, and looked so forlorn in court. “They should search together for the bluebird they were unable to find before,” the judge ruled. The reference to a “bluebird” is as jarring in Japanese as it is in English.

Judges use a multi-part test, that does not include love, to approve a contested divorce. Yet love plays a part in cases where it is perhaps less relevant. For instance, sexual relations with a minor is sometimes excused if the court rules there is love. Judges set out to decide whether the defendant is “earnest”, which means either in love or contemplating marriage.

In the case of rape, Japanese courts consider factors that American and European ones would not. Being drunk is a valid defence. One 1992 ruling suspended the sentences of two men out of compassion for what they “must have faced when the victim told them no”. A 1994 trial led to an acquittal in part because the victim’s “chastity is questionable”: she had slept with her boyfriend after a second date.

It’s a review of Mark West’s Lovesick Japan: Sex, Marriage, Romance, Law.

IT’S OBVIOUSLY THE MUCH WIDER AVAILABILITY OF PORN. DUH. Rapes Have Dropped More than 80% Since 1979.

FASTER, PLEASE: Lymphoma vaccine extends survival in late-stage study. “In a study published in the online version of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, researchers at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center say a Phase III trial of the therapeutic vaccine BioVaxID for follicular lymphoma increased disease-free survival by 14 months.”

I THOUGHT THIS NEVER HAPPENED, BUT IT KEEPS HAPPENING: Woman pleads guilty to lying about rape.

Rodney Peters knew Kimberly St. Charles just four hours before she told police he raped her.

After intense interrogations over two days and following a polygraph test, his bosses suspended him and Peters feared he would be jailed. But because his story was so convincing, police asked more questions of his accuser.

That’s when St. Charles admitted she lied, police said.

“She didn’t know me,” Peters said Tuesday after St. Charles pleaded guilty to making a false alarm, a felony. “She was essentially a stranger.”

She should get more than a slap on the wrist.

BRITISH HEALTH SYSTEM NOT INSPIRING DEVOTION: Why aren’t the masses joining the protests to ‘Save our NHS’? Perhaps because the NHS treats them with utter contempt. “The most striking thing about the ‘Save our NHS’ protests is how small they are. From the handful of professional activists who stormed a branch of NatWest at the weekend, symbolically draped in bloodied bandages, to the various ‘die-ins’ staged by anti-cuts protesters who claim that ‘the poor’ (a horrible Dickensian phrase) will kick the bucket if the Lib-Cons trim anything related to health, the protests have been noisy and headline-grabbing, yes, but tiny in terms of turnout. It isn’t hard to see why. The NHS might be of profound symbolic importance to left-wing activists, but to the general public, to the masses who make up its clientele, it is a patronising, snooping and increasingly politically motivated institution. Save it? Why, exactly?”

READER DAVID WHIDDEN DECLARES VICTORY: “When all the New York Times can complain about is the color of buildings in Baghdad, can we officially say that the war was a success? Oh the horrors of tackiness! If only we had left Saddam in power!”

Well, we’d have been spared this: “In downtown Baghdad, a police headquarters has been painted two shades of purple: lilac and grape. The central bank, a staid building in many countries, is coated in bright red candy cane stripes. . . . Baghdad has weathered invasion, occupation, sectarian warfare and suicide bombers. But the latest scourge, tastelessness, may prove the toughest to overcome.”

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: Demagoguery 101. “The El Paso speech is notable not for breaking any new ground on immigration but for perfectly illustrating Obama’s political style: the professorial, almost therapeutic, invitation to civil discourse, wrapped around the basest of rhetorical devices — charges of malice compounded with accusations of bad faith. . . . This impugning of motives is an Obama constant.”

SO THANKS TO ALL THE GUESTBLOGGERS, WHO DID A GREAT JOB. Meanwhile, I was scuba diving again — with my friend Nat Robb’s dive operation — and taking some Internet-free time to clear my brain. I love the Internet, but time away from it can be therapeutic. . . .

I also read Charles Stross’s new book — not out yet — Rule 34. It’s like the perfect InstaPundit novel — there’s a burst higher-education bubble, talk of the Singularity and artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, and even home-based fab/maker technology. What’s not to like?

I’ll be ramping up back to normal as the day goes on. I’m tanned, rested, and ready!

PEACE CORPS ACCUSED OF BLAMING THE RAPE VICTIM.

ABOUT THAT CHEERLEADER WHO WOULDN’T CHEER for the player she’d accused of rape. Let’s talk about the free speech and other legal issues, but you’ve got to get the timeline right.

ANN ALTHOUSE: Why did Caitlin Flanagan write such a poorly supported article on fraternities and rape? As I said yesterday, this column is an embarrassment.

CAITLIN FLANAGAN engages in stereotyping and collective guilt. Because if you have a few bad anecdotes about a group, it justifies acting against every member of the group. So long as . . . well, you can guess the rest.

UPDATE: From the comments: “I had a bad date in college one time. I think that sororities should be shut down.” Let me just say: Caitlin Flanagan should be ashamed to have put this out under her name. It’s a joke. She’ll never again have the credibility that she had before this sad piece of work was published. Not only is it sexist. It’s dumb.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Mr. Bingley emails:

I was a student at UVa during those exact years (82-86). What happened to poor Ms. Securro was disgusting, horrific and inexcusable and I’m glad that there is justice being served, however belatedly and yet I’m fully aware that it can in no way right the wrong that was committed. I also should point out that I did not belong to a fraternity and never attempted to join one; hell, I think that in my 4 years at Virginia I maybe went to three fraternity parties (I hated how they spilled so much beer over the floors of those gorgeous houses they had and they were too noisy and loud for my taste). Also, as only about 1/3 of students belonged to fraternities, one could quite easily have a wonderful and social four years at UVa and basically never step into one.

But this article isn’t at all about Ms. Securro, is it? It’s about the demons that inhabit dear fragile Miss Flanagan’s mind. The key sentences (“They are built of the same Jeffersonian architecture as the rest of the campus. At once august and moldering, they seemed sinister, to stand for male power at its most malevolent and institutionally condoned.”) speak of that same sort of Andrea Dworkin mindset that was all too prevalent in that era: “Every! Telephone! Pole! Is! A! Penis! And! Wants! To! Rape! Me!”

Virginia is currently 56% women and 44% male. If someone is being “robbed” of a chance at an education I would politely suggest it isn’t the young ladies.

I write this as the father of a rising HS senior Daughter who just completed a week of visiting colleges, including Virginia, and I have no out-of-the-ordinary qualms about her attending there or any of the other fine institutions we visited last week (sadly, UT was not on her list).

Yes, the whole piece had a rather musty quality, in addition to its other flaws.

UPDATE: More criticism from Ann Althouse. “Why don’t women claim the power they have instead of running to Daddy (i.e., the government)?”

CATHY YOUNG: Duke accuser’s murder arrest shows domestic violence isn’t one-way.

The tragic latest chapter in Mangum’s story has two particularly ironic aspects. First, this reminder of the Duke rape hoax comes just as the Obama administration is leading a push for a more aggressive pursuit of sexual assault charges on college campuses, including policy changes that would strip important protections from the accused. . . .

No less striking, while the Duke case sparked intense debates on feminism and rape, the new charges against Mangum spotlight another major feminist controversy: gender and domestic violence. While advocates often portray domestic abuse as a male “war against women” — an assumption reflected in the federal Violence Against Women Act championed by now-Vice President Joe Biden in the 1990s — many such assaults have female perpetrators and male victims. In particular, FBI statistics from recent years show that about 20 percent of victims of murder by spouses or partners are male.

Many feminists claim that women regarded as domestic abusers are usually victims fighting back (a claim some of Mangum’s supporters are already making). Yet the handling of Mangum’s previous domestic violence case lends more credence to the assertions of men’s rights activists that domestic assaults by women tend to be treated with extra leniency.

Read the whole thing.

EDUCATION: “Pseudoscience is insinuating itself into our medical schools across the nation, going by the name ‘Integrative Medicine.’” Is it?

UPDATE: Reader Joel Pomerantz writes: “We have been teaching integrative medicine for years, and it’s important to know. Nearly half our patients are using some kind of herbal supplements, and if we don’t know what side effects or drug interactions those have, we can get into big trouble.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader William Stoddard writes:

I’ve gone to two practitioners of integrative medicine in a row for primary care, and I take my cats to a veterinary practice with a somewhat similar approach (they describe some of their treatments as “homeopathic,” for example). I don’t necessarily believe that their nonstandard methods are effective or scientifically valid (though at least one recommended herbal treatment has given me sustained symptomatic benefits). But they have one important quality that I value highly: They’re willing to talk with me! My sample of integrative practitioners seem to have a bit more time for communication, explanation, and emotional support. And I count that as part of quality of care. American health care has tended increasingly toward big, impersonal, institutionalized care delivery systems in which it’s all too easy for patient needs to get lost; I prefer to avoid them as long as I can.

It would be different if they relied entirely on “alternative” methods. But as long as they have the technological options available, and respect my right to choose a therapeutic approach that meets my needs, I’m not concerned.

Willing to talk. Yeah, there’s a doctor here in Knoxville who’s a great diagnostician, and his secret seems to be that he listens to you, and then he thinks about what you tell him. Shockingly, it makes a big difference.

SO I GOT AN EMAIL FROM YALE PRESIDENT RICHARD LEVIN LAST NIGHT about the “sexual harassment” claims involving Yale. Here’s the key bit:

As you may know, Yale was recently informed by the Office of Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education that it will be investigating a complaint made by a group of current students and graduates alleging that the University is in violation of Title IX of the Higher Education Act. Title IX mandates that no one be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any federally supported education program on the basis of sex. We have not yet received a copy of the complaint, and the notification from the Office of Civil Rights does not provide details. We believe that the investigation will focus on Yale’s policies and practices concerning sexual harassment and misconduct.

It is imperative that the climate at Yale be free of sexual harassment and misconduct of any kind. The well being of our students and the entire community requires this. Should transgressions occur, they must be addressed expeditiously and appropriately.
We will cooperate fully with the Office of Civil Rights in their investigation, but the Officers, the Dean of Yale College, and I believe that we should not await the investigation before asking ourselves how we might improve the policies, practices, and procedures intended to protect members of our community. I write to describe some of the measures we are taking immediately.

I have appointed an external Advisory Committee on Campus Climate, chaired by Margaret H. Marshall ‘76JD, the former Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts and a former Fellow of the Yale Corporation. The other members of the Committee are Seth P. Waxman ‘77JD, former Solicitor General of the United States and a partner at WilmerHale LLP; Kimberly Goff-Crews ‘83BA, ‘86JD, Vice President for Campus Life and Dean of Students at the University of Chicago; and Elizabeth (Libby) Smiley ’02BA, former president of the Yale College Council and a director at Barbary Coast Consulting in San Francisco.
I have asked the Committee for advice about how sexual harassment, violence or misconduct may be more effectively combated at Yale, and what additional steps the University might take to create a culture and community in which all of our students are safe and feel well supported. The Committee will spend time listening to members of our community about the situation as they live it and will make its own assessments. We have policies in place, and a number of recommendations developed during the last year are being implemented. Nevertheless, I am confident that there is more that we can do, and I am grateful to the members of the panel for contributing their time and wise counsel.

It’s worth noting that — as Wendy Kaminer pointed out in The Atlantic last week — this is a claim based almost entirely on free expression that some don’t like:

What accounts for such feminine timidity, this instinctive unwillingness or inability to talk or taunt back, without seeking the protection of university or government bureaucrats? Talking is apparently beside the point. “I just want to be able to walk back to my dorm at night without hearing all this crazy stuff from these guys,” one student complains. I sympathize (I was a young woman once, too), but “hearing crazy stuff” from people in public is part of life in a free society, a society in which you enjoy equal rights to say crazy stuff.

Putatively progressive feminists might agree, if only they regarded women as equal to the task of talking back, if only they distinguished between men who “say stuff” about women and men who “do stuff” to women. In the feminist view reflected in the Yale draft complaint, the misogynist rants of some undergraduate men (perhaps a relatively small percentage of them) is not speech. It’s a series of “dangerous,” “sex-discriminatory threats” that “intimidate” and “terrorize” women, constituting a hostile environment (or “rape culture”) that causes sexual violence.

See, you used to be able to punish the sort of behavior complained of here on the ground that it violated general principles of decency and acceptable public behavior. But after a half-century or so of attacking even the notion of general principles of decency and acceptable public behavior — especially where sex is concerned! — that doesn’t work.

Universities have long told the larger culture that it must simply put up with whatever is said, however offensive, in the interest of free expression. Now we see more evidence that that was always a lie, a self-serving cover story that was really meant simply to protect speech that the larger culture didn’t want to hear, with no intention to protect speech that people at universities don’t want to hear. Universities, meanwhile, have become some of the most hostile environments for free speech anywhere in America.

That repression, of course, merely empowers such antics — or, if one wishes to play the usual leftist game, it could be argued that their very crudity is evidence of authenticity in response to repression. At any rate, at a time where the nation is rethinking the value of higher education generally in the face of straitened financial circumstances, this hypocrisy will not go unnoticed.

Meanwhile, I note that the investigating committee is stacked 3-1 women against men. Though this is probably meant as a signal to the complainants — and to the Obama Administration educrats — that the complaint is taken seriously, it also sends a signal that satisfying the complainants is more important than fairness. Bad move, Yale.

But Peter Berkowitz says that Yale is all about the Benjamins here.

UPDATE: Mischievous sorts may wind up piling on, arguing to the Department of Education educrats that Yale’s decision to host an unrepentant Taliban is further evidence of hostility to women on campus.

THIS SEEMS FAIR: Woman Who Made Up Rape Claim Sent To Prison.

STOPPING PRISON RAPE, with all deliberate speed: “Almost eight years after Congress unanimously approved the first-ever federal law to crack down on prison rape and nine months after the Department of Justice missed its initial deadline for issuing anti-prison rape policies, the new federal guidelines remain in limbo.”

AFTER HER 9/11 AND HOUSING DEBACLE BACKGROUND who better for FBI Director than Jamie Gorelick?

Gorelick served as vice chairman of the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) when the government-sponsored enterprise began bundling subprime loans into securitized financial instruments. Prior to that, she served as deputy attorney general in the Clinton Justice Department under then-Attorney General Janet Reno from 1994 to 1997. . . . But Gorelick is perhaps best known for her 1995 memo, written when she was deputy attorney general, that later became known as “Gorelick’s Wall,” a policy prescription limiting the flow of information between intelligence gatherers and criminal investigators that some believe helped allow the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center to go unchallenged.

Gorelick also got sweetheart loans from Countrywide. Hey, who better to be in charge of law enforcement for this administration? Did I mention her views on the Duke lacrosse false-rape accusations?

UPDATE: A reader emails: “The story here in Chicagoland is: Patrick Fitzgerald is on the short list. Fitzgerald stepped in and stopped Blago from incriminating too many Obama people. I highly doubt Jamie Gorelick could get appointed to anything, it’s a miracle she isn’t in jail.”

It’s a miracle, but a promotion would be in keeping with her entire career.

ANOTHER UPDATE: “No.”

EXPLOSION ROCKS EARTHQUAKE-DAMAGED NUCLEAR PLANT in Japan. Unclear whether containment has failed.

Meanwhile the earthquake death toll is now believed to be greater than 1,700.

UPDATE: Much more at BlackFive.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Chris Matthews on the tsunami: “Was this sort of a good opportunity for the president to remind everybody that he grew up in the United States and Hawaii?” Isn’t it time for him to go?

MORE: A reader sends this from Tokyo:

Hi Glenn,

The global-warming axe-grinders and anti-nuclear luddites are coming out of the woodwork to use the nuclear crisis in Japan as an excuse to climb on their hobby-horses.

I was in the center of Tokyo during the earthquake and was one of those “roaming the streets” last night. Translate that as walked home cause the trains stopped. The earthquake was 8000 times more powerful than the New Zealand quake. Skyscrapers in Tokyo were swaying, the streets were vibrating and shaking and everyone was scared absolutely shitless. I’ve been here for twenty years and these things don’t scare me. So I don’t mind saying I was terrified and figured this was it.

And you know what? Not one building in Tokyo collapsed. Not even one. Part of roof caved in during a graduation ceremony. The devastation from the tsunami and from the tremors in Miyagi and Sendai is real. But Japan isn’t quaking in its boots and, yes, we are all alarmed at the nuclear crisis unfolding in Fukushima.

Here’s what’s not happening, however, from the Wapo right now:

“The explosion at the reactor is certain to rattle confidence in nuclear power in Japan, victim of the only nuclear weapons explosions and where people have long been sensitized to the dangers of radioactive releases. In the United States, it will deal a severe blow to advocates of a nuclear power renaissance.”

The US has been uncharacteristically shy about embracing technology the rest of the world relies on. I haven’t heard or read one adult questioning the wisdom of relying on nuclear energy in Japan. In fact, it takes something like a combination of a massive earthquake and a tsunami together to attack the integrity of the system. The systems largely worked.

Any other city in the world would have seen buildings flattened and the deaths of tens of thousands. To the best of my knowledge not one person in Tokyo died, although I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that some poor soul fell off a ladder.

Sound engineering, preparation, precaution, and technology saved the day. I could walk home last night secure in the knowledge that my kids, wife, and mother-in-law were completely safe despite experiencing the worst earthquake in Japanese history and the fifth-worst in the world ever.

So let’s not trash nuclear energy and Japanese engineering, please. The links to charities are much appreciated. The best thing the US can do is start learning from Japan about how to build buildings that can withstand these kinds of events and nuclear power systems that can survive earthquakes and the odd tsunami. The system worked. Trains are running again.

Please keep my name out of this should you choose to use this.

As I’ve said before, the Japanese do disaster-prep better than we do.

UPDATE: Reader Jack Lillywhite emails: “That commenter who was in Tokyo stated this EQ was 8,000 times greater than Christchurch is way off the mark. If Christchurch was 6.8 and Japan was 8.9 then it was only 1,100 times greater on the Richter scale. You may want to note the correction since this has gone viral on the internet.” Well, I’m about to get on a plane and can’t double-check, but “only” 1,100 times is still a lot.

ANOTHER UPDATE: And now several readers say that Lillywhite is wrong, and it is 8000 times. Either way, it’s big.

WHERE’S NOW WHEN YOU NEED THEM? Texas: New Black Panther Leader Justifies Gang Rape of 11-Year-Old Hispanic Girl.

UPDATE: A reader emails:

I’m a Houstonian, and familiar with Quannell X. He is many things, not many of which I would admire. My sense of fairness and modesty requires me to defend him against the charges in your headline.

I had the opportunity to hear X on the radio yesterday. One of our conservative radio hosts, Michael Berry, had the man on to explain himself. The TRUE story is, as usual, more complex than the headline. Here is what I heard:

X believes that of the men arrested for the crime, a few are actually innocent, and weren’t even in the town on the days in question. X believes that there are others, not black men, who are also guilty of having victimized this girl over a longer period of time. He bases that accusation on things he has read from and about the girl.

He wants to make sure that ALL guilty parties are found, and brought to justice. He wants to make sure that any innocent men are released, and he wants to hold the community at large and the girl’s family a bit more up to public shame and questioning for not protecting this child. He wants to make law enforcement look BEYOND “gang of black boys raped Mexican girl” and see that a young girl was a victim of MANY men of different races, over a longer period of time.

He is IN NO WAY blaming the girl, or excusing the rapes, he wants the rapists prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Kinda odd for me to defend X, but truth is truth.

Well, I watched the video and read the story, but it wouldn’t be the first time a news account failed to capture the entire truth.

RADLEY BALKO: Prison Rape: Still a Problem. Government: Still Not All That Concerned About It.

A 21ST CENTURY WATERGATE?”

At 3:00, we see the use of fingernails to scrape off the stickers that have been moistened with something from a spray bottle that is referred to as “fresh water” (at 5:06) but produces foam.

Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

WILL THIS BE the week of iPad 2? I’m actually thinking of buying one for a friend of the family who’s stuck in a nursing home. They don’t have in-room internet, so a 3G iPad might be the way to go. It’s pretty boring there. . . .

UPDATE: Reader Doug Orr emails:

Got my iPad last July, and since then have been in the hospital twice for 3 days and 8 days. I would have gone stir crazy without the iPad. Nurses loved asking about it, all the doctors said their wives had one already. Ha!

Also, i got to avoid the dreaded daytime television shows. Those things will kill you.

Yeah.

And reader John Williams writes:

My father in law had a stroke about two years ago and is living in an assisted care facility. We bought him a first generation iPad about 6 months ago and it is a huge hit. He carries it with him wherever he goes almost like a kid with a security blanked.

He struggles with email a bit but is able to communicate far more with his family than any other medium. He manages his investments, keeps up on the news, reads Instapundit, and plays Yahtzee.

Technical support for him using the device has been pretty easy as well. You just can’t get into the kinds of trouble you can with a “real” computer.

Good point. And reading InstaPundit is bound to be therapeutic. Another reader says that I’ll be able to pick up an original model iPad for $100 less once the new one comes out. Maybe I’ll pick up one of those; it should be entirely adequate for nursing-home amusement purposes.

And reader Barry Dauphin emails:

Maybe you’ve hit on to a bigger idea. Nursing homes should try to get them in bulk for their residents. Learning how to use them would be very stimulating and there’s all kinds of things you can do with them. Apple could cut deals, the way they do with schools and computers.

That sounds like a really good idea. Maybe Apple should donate some of the first-gen iPad stock to a nursing home or two as an experiment.

MORE: Reader Trent Kelso emails:

Adding to the in praise of the iPad chorus…

I got an iPad in Sept when my dad was set for brain surgery and knew I’d have a week with him at UCLA Med Ctr with nothing to do. I decided to splurge on the iPad because my laptop was waaaaay too clunky to lug around conveniently, gets real hot, and is just too bulky to use all day long. Unfortunately, mom & I were cooped up in the hospital with dad for 9 weeks and the iPad kept us sane. We downloaded and played games, watched Netflix, read our favorite blogs, read books (via the Kindle app), took notes on dad’s treatment and had our questions immediately handy when the docs walked in. We were able to instantly access medical info on the net via the hospital’s free wifi to help us understand dad’s condition and why the docs were doing what they were doing. The iPad made us formidable medical consumers; it armed us with information almost instantaneously.

Like your other reader, when docs saw my iPad, they said things like “Don’t you love it?” or “I need to get one on my next day off.” When RNs or CNAs saw it, they’d say “Is that an iPad?” or, “Do you think it’s worth it?”. Naturally, I told the RNs & CNAs that it was the best thing since beer, and that it was worth every penny. An amazing device, which, incidentally, I’m using to write this e-mail.

Oh, one more noteworthy feature is that the user interface is extremely intuitive. My mom is 78 and took to the iPad like a duck to water. Try that with a PC laptop.

Good point. And reader Joe Jackson emails:

After an 18 month stretch in a nursing home my wife died last May. During those final months her lifeline to the world was a MacBook. An iPad would have been better and I was just about to buy her one when she died. Anything than can be done to relieve the boredom in a nursing home – and keep the residents mentally engaged – is worth doing. And yes, that includes Apple discounting the iPad to extended care facilities (I say this as an Apple stockholder).

The crushing boredom and isolation of those places is one of the worst things about them — and even someone with a big family that visits as much as it can is going to have a lot of downtime.

STUDY: Staring At Breasts Increases Heart Health. I’m pretty sure this is just the same bogus report that resurfaces every couple of years. But why take chances?

And in that vein, Stacy McCain takes a strong interest in preventive medicine. “The staff of the Collins-McCain Institute for Therapeutic Breast-Staring would like to thank Christina Hendricks and Anne Hathaway for their heroic efforts to improve America’s cardiovascular health.” Plus, from the comments: “Consensus has been reached. The science is settled.”

LATEST ZERO TOLERANCE IDIOCY: A Virginia middle school student has been suspended for . . . opening the door for a woman whose hands were full. Really, why not just abolish public education, if this is what it has come to?

UPDATE: Reader Christopher Bell writes:

I was struck by the juxtaposition within a few of your posts highlighting ridiculous ‘zero tolerance’ policies where no sense seems evident and prison rape where officialdom is quite content to look the other way. My less optimistic friends would suggest this is a sure sign of a society in self-obsessed decline, but could it be that it’s just driven by a growing bureaucratic class used to operating in the dark with an unearned benefit of the doubt from too many citizens busy trying to get by?

Following the Porkbusters model, we need not just an Army of Davids, but Armies of Davids to tackle more and more of these issues and expose more of this to light.

Yes, we need a zero-tolerance approach to bureaucratic idiocy and self-dealing.

PRISON RAPE and the government. Shockingly, the Justice Department is not doing everything it can to address this problem, but rather seems to be trying to minimize attention.

PHOTOS FROM WISCONSIN: How much respect did the demonstrators show for the State Capitol grounds?

“‘If I’m a GREAT worker WHY are you treating me THIS WAY?’ — an abandoned sign pleads.” More pics of trash at the link.

Plus this: “I attended the Tea Party rally at the Wisconsin State Capitol last year on April 15th, and I did not see a scrap of litter left behind. Participants not only took care to leave no trash of their own, they looked around and made sure no one else did.”

It’s the difference between acting like civilized people, and looters.

UPDATE: Reader Ronnie Schreiber writes:

Who but someone infused with the therapeutic self-esteem culture prevalent in our schools today would say of themselves, “I am a great worker”? Does Bob Dylan call himself a “great songwriter”? I hear people describing themselves as competent or skilled or that they work hard but I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone that was good at their job describe themselves in such lofty terms as “great”. Sure, I’ve done some great embroideries and the stuff that I write for pay can be pretty good as well, but I make far too many mistakes to say that I’m “great”. Yes, sometimes I’ll tell a customer that an embroidery is beautiful, but then I also will tell them when it’s not perfect as well. That’s just being honest. But characterizing myself as “great”? I’m far too familiar with my own flaws to do that.

Obviously, you need a union. And reader C.J. Burch emails: “Funny, the people that expect the state to pay their way act like this. The people that don’t, don’t. A sense of entitlement is an ugly thing.”

RICHARD FERNANDEZ: Reality Hurts: “Carol Hanisch’s dictum that the “personal is political” got it wrong. In reality, when something becomes personal it stops being political. A Guantanamo detainee living in America is political. The same detainee living next door is personal. The masses taking their revenge on the imperialist West is political; Lara Logan being raped is personal. When somebody else is being beheaded one can examine which political attitude to take. When it happens to you, then you just want it to stop. . . . Those who still haven’t caught on, soon will.”

I WAS TALKING TO A COLLEAGUE ABOUT this article on “nonconsensual insemination,” and it reminded me of this, er, seminal piece on pregnancy deception by Tracy Quan: Conception by deception: Why do women get away with “accidentally” getting pregnant — when if a man tried to pull the same manipulative stunt, he’d be Bobbitted?

In fact, in today’s New York Times, male efforts to sabotage birth control are called abuse. Women, on the other hand, are just making use of a “gift.” All those people deploying “scope of consent” arguments in the Julian Assange rape case need to address this double standard.

Then there’s the whole needing a wife’s consent for a vasectomy thing. What are these “reproductive rights” I keep hearing about?

UPDATE: Reader Shelly North writes:

I am the oldest of four children and my mother did not want to talk to my two younger brothers about sex and so she asked me (their older sister) to handle things. This was in the 80′s in a small town in west Texas. I believe that my conversation with them went something like this.

“I am a girl and I know this to be true, Girls LIE about birth control. You have to take responsibility for yourself. I also know the girls in your class who are putting out (an advantage of a small town) and I know for a fact that none of them are on birth control. No Glove No Love. If you are too embarrassed to buy them I will buy them for you.”

I didn’t have any nieces or nephews until after my brother was married. I knew too many girls who planned their pregnancies around what they wanted. It is a horrible thing to say but it is still true today “Girls lie about birth control.”

Indeed.

PEJMAN YOUSEFZADEH: Stop the Blogosphere! I Actually Agree With Andrew Sullivan!

Meanwhile, I’m not sure if Andrew Sullivan thinks otherwise or not, but I’m quite explicitly on record as favoring across-the-board cuts that include entitlements and defense. And the GOP’s proposed defense cuts are getting criticized by Hillary Clinton, no less, which seems worthy of note. [Later: It would be worthy of note if it were true, but either I misread that story completely this morning or it's changed a lot. Either is possible, as I was on my first cup of coffee, but I know the headline has changed.]

Still, there’s no “axe” being wielded at the moment. Maybe a grapefruit spoon, coupled with a promise to really start dieting tomorrow. . . .

“MEDIA PSYCHIATRIST” CAN’T PRODUCE ACTUAL EVIDENCE to support claim that videogames cause rape. “Despite the seriousness of Lieberman’s allegations, when Wired.com asked her multiple times to clarify her comments, she failed to cite a single study, statistic or piece of evidence that proved her point. ”

I, on the other hand, have produced evidence that they do not.

THE IMPORTANCE OF drawing the line between “rape” and “bad sex.”

And some related thoughts here, from after the Hofstra bogus rape allegations. Not to be confused with the Duke bogus rape allegations. “We’re told that such situations are rare, but nobody really knows. . . . I’ll note that — as in this case — many of those innocent men in jail are probably black, and they’re there in part because white feminists have made even the notion of skepticism unacceptable in the discussion of rape allegations.”

UPDATE: False Rape Accusations Are Not Rare.

ONE GURKHA VS. 40 THUGS: He had them outnumbered.

UPDATE: Jim Bennett emails: “How foolish of the thugs.”

It’s okay to bring a knife to a gunfight — if you’re a Gurkha.

ROBERT REDFORD, ENVIRONMENTAL HYPOCRITE? Well, on the environmental front, “celebrity” pretty much always equals “hypocrite,” unless your name is Ed Begley, Jr. Who, to be blunt, isn’t much of a celebrity these days anyway.

UPDATE: Reader Matthew Moss writes:

Is Robert Redford still a celebrity? Not according to my children, who have no idea who Robert Redford is or ever was. Likewise Warren Beatty, though my oldest thought he might be the fat guy who was raped by hillbillies in Deliverance. ‘That was Ned dear, not Warren.’ ‘No idea then, Dad.’

Strangely, all three knew Clint Eastwood.

Doesn’t seem so strange to me.

HEALTH ADVICE FROM AN EXPERT: “Go on, have a glass of wine with dinner. What is wine, anyway? Pure grapes. A glass of wine is much better for you than a Coke.”

A NEW CAVE DISCOVERED IN VIETNAM: “There’s a jungle inside Vietnam’s mammoth cavern. A skyscraper could fit too. And the end is out of sight.”

JULIAN ASSANGE DEFENSE: It’s not rape-rape. “… just because he’s a rapist doesn’t mean I’m saying he’s some some sort of violent… It’s such a loaded term….”

TAINTED LOVE: Lockyer, Chiang Got Campaign Money From Fraud-Tainted Developer. “Two high-level state officials have frozen nearly $150,000 in campaign contributions raised for them by a low-income housing developer now accused of bilking government agencies. State Treasurer Bill Lockyer and state Controller John Chiang said they have put the money into separate accounts while they await the outcome of a federal probe into Advanced Development and Investment Inc. The company has built dozens of subsidized apartment complexes up and down the state with taxpayer money. . . . Spokesmen for Lockyer and Chiang said that if the company is found to have committed wrongdoing, the two men will give the money back.”

Note that they’re not returning the money. Just, you know, freezing it. Somehow, though, this makes me think of Rep. William Jefferson, which I’m sure was not their hope . . . .

UPDATE: Dodd Harris emails:

What? No mention of escorting Bill Lockyer to an 8-by-10 cell that he could share with a tattooed dude who says, “Hi, my name is Spike, honey.”?!?

I’m shocked — shocked!

Unlike Lockyer, I don’t regard prison rape as a political tool. Though if I were to make an exception, he’d be at the top of the list.

CATHY YOUNG ON Julian Assange, Feminism, and Rape. “Once, feminist reformers rightly fought against laws that required a rape victim to fight her attacker ‘to the utmost.’ But removing any element of actual or threatened force from the crime of rape makes it too easy to criminalize miscommunications and morning-after regrets.” If morning-after regrets are a ground for rape charges, many, many women can expect to be targeted in the future. . . .

Plus this:

Earlier generations of feminists argued that rape should be treated the same as any other violent crime: The victim should not be subjected to special standards of resistance or chastity. These days, the demand for special treatment is so blatant that some activists openly support abolishing the presumption of innocence for rape cases and requiring the accused to prove consent (a proposal Valenti cites with obvious approval). In an ironic twist, these activists actually seem to hold women in very little esteem: in their world, women are too timid to push a man away if he won’t take no for an answer and too addled to know that they have been raped.

It’s as if the whole thing is some sort of political shell game with no concern for justice or equality at all.

MIKE HUCKABEE sides with Michelle Obama in Food Fight: “Well, he’s not running for President against Michelle Obama. He’s running (potentially) against Sarah Palin. Ironically, Sarah Palin is the one who’s thin. . . . I just want to note that this bill seems to be about telling people what to eat and forcing the government’s desires on people. (Forcing the government’s desires on people? That sounds weirdly rape-y.)”

DUKE LACROSSE RAPE HOAXER convicted of child abuse.

The university took action against the team, all on the word of this woman. DA Mike Nifong took action, ignoring evidence that might exonerate the team members. The purported victim was black and female, so evidence was superfluous to the forces of PC.

It all fell apart, thank goodness, or otherwise innocent young men might have suffered even further merely because they were white, male, affluent, and jocks — and that alone is a crime in the minds of many on the left.

Now the woman who made the false accusations, Crystal Mangum (whose name was kept from the public while the lacrosse players were publicly identified and pilloried on campus and in the press), has been convicted of child abuse, injury of personal property, and resisting arrest in Durham, NC.

The Gang Of 88 was unavailable for comment.

KEITH OLBERMANN TURNS CHICKEN. Well, not turns, exactly . . . .

FALSE RAPE REPORT: Meteorologist Heidi Jones Charged With Filing False Rape Report. “WABC’s Heidi Jones, who anchors the station’s weekend evening weather coverage and fills in on “Good Morning America,” was charged Monday with filing a false report, a Class A misdemeanor. If convicted, she could face up to a year in jail or a $1,000 fine. Jones, 37, told cops she was jogging in the park the afternoon of Sept. 24 when a Hispanic man in his 30s or 40s grabbed her from behind, dragged her into a wooded area and attempted to rape her. . . . After being confronted with the discrepancies, Jones admitted that she pulled the story out of thin air, a source said. Jones said she concocted the tale in a plea for sympathy to counter some unknown setback she was experiencing in her personal life, the source added.” (Via Chris Kobus).

WENDY MURPHY: Bogus Assange Rape Case Hurts Real Women.

DOUG MATACONIS: The Julian Assange Case, Consent, And Rape. “There is a real danger that the ‘withdrawal of consent’ standard that Valenti and others like her would like to see implemented in the United States would result in laws that are so vague that it would be impossible for a reasonable person to know that they’re committing a crime, especially when the question of whether or not a crime was committed boils down to a ‘he said/she said’ scenario.”

That’s okay, we’ll only prosecute people who are unpopular, or that the authorities don’t like.

Related: “If Assange is convicted of rape, then we are all rapists now.”

And I’m claiming complete vindication regarding my statement about that woman who went around poking holes in condoms. Can I call ‘em, or what?

THE RECLUSIVE LEFTIST on the sexual politics of “supposedly liberal doods.”

UPDATE: Reader Tom Kennedy writes, “But was it rape-rape?”

CHANGE? Muslim Columnist: U.K. Rape Gang Case Exposes ‘Disgusting Cultural Beliefs.’

SHOCKER: Report: ‘Issues of Culture, Ethnicity and Identity’ Raised in U.K. Rape-Gang Case.

TSA WORKERS COMPLAIN OF ABUSE: “Molester, pervert, disgusting, an embarrassment, creep. These are all words I have heard today at work describing me. …These comments are painful and demoralizing.”

Plus this:

Guy Winch, an expert on the psychology of complaining and customer service and the author of a forthcoming book, “The Squeaky Wheel,” is concerned with the stress levels TSA employees may be experiencing this week on the job.

He explains that the “emotional labor” TSA workers must do — “processing people regardless of hostile exchanges … and looking for explosives and weapons” — makes the stakes for performing their duties correctly “as high as they get.” Winch says the best thing TSA administrators can do for employees doing enhanced pat-downs is to provide an extra layer of managerial and supervisory support. “They need to convey the message that superiors are aware of the stresses the employees are under and are there to support them.”

Winch says having a mental health professional on staff or available as a referral “can be crucial in helping the people who did not make these rules but are charged with enforcing and implementing them nonetheless.” . . .

“Instead of making this Wednesday National Opt-Out Day in which a bunch of self-appointed guardians of liberty slow down the line for everyone by asking for pat-downs,” said Baker, “maybe what we need is a day when everyone who goes through the line says, ‘Thanks for what you do.’

I don’t think that’s going to happen when they touch people’s junk. And it’s likely to be alarming to be told “thanks for what you do” then . . . .

Related: “Gate rape.” Grope and change!

UPDATE: The TSA Screening Line Is The New Town Hall. “Obama is completely tone deaf on this issue.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Bob Gleason writes:

We need fewer “experts on the psychology of complaining” and more people who understand that a) TSA has not intercepted one terrorist in the last 9 years that I know of. I hope I’m wrong but I doubt it; b) thanking people for further violating our Constitutional right against unlawful search and seizure does not seem to be an “expert” response; c) I’d be much more concerned about the 10s of thousands of people who are subjected to this kind of search every day…if all they choose to do it opt out of an electronic screening I’d say we got off easy. History shows that large groups of pissed off people, herded into small areas, subjected to treatment that is grindingly invasive and at the same time unnecessary, often react badly. I hope we don’t hear from a self styled “expert on the psychology of mob violence” in a few days…but it wouldn’t surprise me.

Hmm. That would be Pauline Maier.

MORE: Reader Roland Mar writes:

Two thoughts: one I recommend the Maier book wholeheartedly. There is every appearance of parallels that can be drawn. Second, if the TSA were to offer psychologists to offer support to TSA staff, it would be the first time that TSA agents have been looked at by the shrinks. According to an interview with the TSA Human Resources office, there is NO psychological testing of applicants.

Indeed.

MORE STILL: A reader who asks anonymity writes:

I found your note from Guy Winch very upsetting. My wife and I are the guardians of a girl who came from a home where we believe she may have been sexually abused or witnessed sexual abuse of her mother. Her father had abandoned their family and the mother had struggled to survive and eventually turned to prostitution with the child in the house. This all happened when she was a preschooler. She did the most disturbing things when she was taken from her mother and placed in our custody. For example, she had the habit of walking up to any random male who paid any fleeting attention to her, such as a pizza deliveryman, hug him, and say “I love you.” We, along with child therapists have worked with her since we’ve had her, and now, 5 years later, she is a very normal middle grade schooler. She is successful in school, has close friends, and is good at sports and music We are protective. We keep an eye on her, especially the adults she interacts with.

At this point I will not take her to an airport. How could I? I am unable to justify the risk of exposing her to a situation where not only would she would be forced to submit to a stranger fondling her genitals, but my wife and I would be forced, under threat of a multi-thousand dollar fine, to “force” our child to comply. I can’t imagine anything more threatening to her mental well being, and the fine we would have to pay to refuse might cost us our house. This means that until the situation changes, she will not travel by air. Fortunately, we have no plans to travel by air anytime in the near future. We did earlier in the summer, ,and so it was only by sheer luck that we did not have to eat three plane tickets.

So when I read Guy Winch suggest that airports have “a mental health professional on staff or available as a referral ” for the poor TSA agents who have to grope people day in and day out, all I can think of is that if anything, the airports should have a mental health professional on staff to handle the inevitable situation where a prior victim of sexual abuse is singled out, groped, and melts down right there in the airport security area. The TSA agents are not the people most endangered by this outrageous policy, and when I see videos of TSA agents strip searching children, it is obvious that the TSA has never considered the potential of what they might be doing or have already done to both child and adult victims of sexual abuse, some of whom may not be known to their parents or guardians.

I think this is far from over.

MORE STILL: Reader Jerry Bledsoe disagrees with the above:

As an admirer, libertarian and long-time reader, I’m amazed that you would present this and allow people to think it might be true.

“I am unable to justify the risk of exposing her to a situation where not only would she would be forced to submit to a stranger fondling her genitals, but my wife and I would be forced, under threat of a multi-thousand dollar fine, to “force” our child to comply. ”

That is utterly outrageous and you know it. Anybody who fondled a child’s genitals should be in prison and would be.

Is this true? I suppose the word “fondled” is an out, but the videos I’ve seen have shown clear butt-touching, and there was the 4-year-old boy forced to remove his shirt. It’s true, of course, that if the kid goes through the scanner and has no problems necessitating secondary screening, nothing will happen. But we’ve seen plenty of videos where that’s not the case. I don’t think it’s at all “outrageous” to worry about that sort of thing, though I confess it never occurred to me before the above email.

Meanwhile, reader DeDe Bright emails:

As a former manager long time ago … and also just being on this earth for 61 years, the way the TSA, the President and whoever else has implemented the new TSA standards is just awful!! These people are supposed to be smart — I question their basic common sense.

Obama complains that the reason no one likes the Health Care bill is because it wasn’t messaged right — no one did the job of “selling it to the people”. Of course that is so wrong, the people figured it out.

And then, I presume because of information they have received, a decision was made to go forward with very a very intrusive style of bodily searching. How many days has it been since they started??? And NOW they say it’s because they have information terrorists may be hiding explosives in various forms of prosthetics. Oh.

Well, they are a little late to be forthcoming with that information. At this point it doesn’t matter because just the mind frame of thinking they would suddenly and drastically change the format of these patdowns and not think it would cause a problem … or not care about how people would feel about it??? This shows a pathetic lack of understanding to the basic humanity of the American people.

Any good company knows when some new policy is coming down the pipeline the first thing that needs to happen is the educate the employees as to what is going on, describe the gravity of the situation and help them “buy into” the new procedures. In this case the “employees” are the American people.

If they thought they could get away with these procedures and the complaints not make it to the media (and therefore “sneak up on the terrorists with the new procedures”) they were not working with a full deck.

I really am not moved by TSA workers feeling bad about this. Somewhere along the line of all of this someone had to have said, “the people are going to go nuts over this” and they probably did. It was the tone deaf Obama administration that didn’t stage this in a way that would have been understood.

These are the kinds of actions that set up the failure of a company … and of an administration.

Yes, it’s funny that this was supposed to be an administration full of super-smart Great Communicators. Not so much, as it turns out.

That said, I wouldn’t be too hard on the TSA’s front-line grunts. They didn’t make the policy, and I very much doubt they were consulted on it any more than the American people were. You have a right to expect them to do their best to act professionally, but beyond that it’s — to coin a phrase — above their pay grade.

And the final question goes to reader John MacDonald: “if a lot of women showed up at the airports wearing Burkas…what kind of searches would they be doing on them?”

A lot of Americans, I suspect, think they know the answer to this question, and that’s one reason why they’re mad.

FINALLY: Reader Tim Maguire writes:

I have one comment I have to make about these TSA “front-line grunts” who are “just doing their jobs.” The upper level administrators who make who make these terrible decisions wouldn’t be able to if it weren’t for the legions of low-level staffers who are willing to just do their jobs. They are decision makers too–they decide their own limits and they have decided that sexual assault is within those limits; they are the cogs that keep the wheels of oppression churning.

Hmm. What do others think? Should I do a poll?

THE RAPE OF the blog.

MURKOWSKI LEADS PORK REVOLT. I hope the Alaska Tea Party folks will give her the Ben Nelson treatment whenever she returns to Alaska. Though I’m sure she’s more comfortable in D.C. anyway. But she should henceforth be referred to as Lisa “Porkowski” wherever she appears.

Meanwhile, reader Don Killmer writes to say that turnabout is fair play:

One (sad) result of the Bork confirmation hearings back during the Stone Age of American politics is the descriptive verbing of the proper noun Bork. This concept morphed into “Borking” to refer to the use of political hit teams to derail senate confirmations.

Maybe its time for a new verb, as in: “Lets Murkowski him/her…” This would refer to tactic of forcing a candidate to spend the time and money on a primary race in their own party, and then run against them anyway in the general election as a write-in or independent candidate. The irony is that this tactic would work better for Tea Party candidates than main stream republicans like Murkowski. Her situation is a fluke, but who’s to say this can’t become a legit tactic of slash and burn politics.

What really sucks here is that the Tea Party candidates could have run as independents and third party candidates. This would have split the tickets and then who knows how the election may have turned out. Instead, most of the Tea Party people played within the two-party system rules and won legitimate victories in their local primaries, and then party hacks like Murkowski turn around and run a sour grapes campaign as a write-in candidate.

At the very least, Murkowski should have her name associated with sore loser tactics by the verbing of her name in the same spirit as getting Borked.

Well, they said before that it would be the Tea Party candidates who would act like spoiled babies. But as Charlie Crist, Lisa Murkowski, Mike Castle, etc. demonstrate, it’s the establishment that thinks of itself first. No big surprise there, but keep reminding them. These folks live for ego as much as for power. Deny them those rewards at least.

I’M PRETTY SURE THAT IF A MAN WENT AROUND secretly poking holes in condoms, many feminists would regard it as tantamount to rape.

THINGS YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED THIS WEEKEND, if you were out, you know, having a life:

My Sunday Washington Examiner column: It’s not about compromise or confrontation — it’s about clarity.

I talk with Scott Rasmussen about what the Tea Party movement should do next.

Barney Frank: The Mockery Has Only Just Begun. Plus, The Madness of King Barney.

The Don Draper Presidency?

ThinkProgress festoons itself with updates of shame.

Geographically-challenged Gentry: New York, Arkansas…You Know, the Midwest.

Fatty Fish Protects Against Prostate Cancer.

Beware the radioactive rabbits. “That’s no ordinary rabbit, man — it’s a killer!”

Is the Kindle killing independent bookstores?

Your tax dollars at work: While warning about fat, U.S. Government pushes sales of cheese.

ED DRISCOLL called the “Don Draper Presidency” first.

THE DON DRAPER PRESIDENCY?

Peggy Noonan: “Not knowing how to feel humility or therefore show humility he decided to announce humility.”

It reminded me of Heather Havrilesky: “The move is classic Don Draper. He announces abruptly that he has evolved — instead of actually evolving.”

Plus, this conclusion from Noonan:

Here is an old tradition badly in need of return: You have to earn your way into politics. You should go have a life, build a string of accomplishments, then enter public service. And you need actual talent: You have to be able to bring people in and along. You can’t just bully them, you can’t just assert and taunt, you have to be able to persuade.

Americans don’t want, as their representatives, people who seem empty or crazy. They’ll vote no on that.

Indeed. Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Numerous readers are still blaming Noonan for her earlier Obamamania. Reader Barry Dauphin writes: “So why did she fall all over him two years ago? He had even fewer accomplishments then.”

Like Draper, he can be seductive on short exposure. And reader Lawrence Loretoni writes:

I’m glad to see that Ms. Noonan’s eyes seem to be open at last. But she, like so many other Republican “moderates,” spent several months in 2008 lecturing the rest of us lower-class knuckle draggers about how Obama’s “superior temperament” and other star qualities made him a better choice than McCain for President. It would be nice if at least one of these pundits had the common decency to admit they were wrong. But I’m not going to hold my breath.

Indeed.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Dodd Harris says the comparison is unfair — to Don Draper:

I don’t think that analogy is entirely fair – to Don Draper. This last season was about the harrowing of Don Draper, just as this political season was the harrowing of Obama. But Don at least *experienced* it before not really changing. He was tortured, pushed to his limits, and forced to at least acknowledge his past failures. In the end, he chose the easy fix, but he at least plumbed the depths of his own manufactured past before doing so.

I’ve seen no sign Obama has done any of that. He’s still blaming everyone but himself.

Well, that’s the difference between real life and fiction, I guess . . . .

MORE: The Anchoress emails:

That Don Draper/ Obama comparison was brilliantly insightful. It squares well with this piece by Santiago Ramos who examines the shallow emptiness that is being revealed in Draper, and his confusion, but it also rings with Hiawatha Bray’s comments at the bottom of the piece. Bray mentions that Draper is bothered by women who are actual adults…I would argue that Obama too is bothered by adults…he wants the voters to be childlike, chanting three-word catchphrases and buying the product. he does not want adults who actually question, dare to oppose or wish to peer below the surface. Don Draper, indeed. A grad student could write a thesis on it!

And probably will!

VIDEO: Michele Bachmann To MSNBC’s Chris Matthews: That Thrill Isn’t Tingly Anymore.

And reader Allen S. Thorpe writes:

You and Ann must be driving a lot of viewers to MSNBC. I’m watching with the sound off and their faces and body language are saying even more than their words: sour grapes, snarling and what ever the opposite of schadenfreude is. They all look like bullies who were just pounded by Ralphy, the kid in “A Christmas Story,” licking their wounds.

I’m reminded of how the Fox News team looked in the 2004 election when they had gotten all the early exit polls and thought Bush was losing, but the Fox people looked grave, not snarling.

Don’t watch MSNBC, watch PJTV. Wouldn’t you rather see Bill Whittle and Brandi Milloy than Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann?

“TEDIOUSLY GRIM:” Ann Althouse takes a close look at Obama’s “evolving” views on gay rights.

Are you trying to say you’d have joined Justice Scalia’s dissent in Lawrence v. Texas? Here’s Scalia: “What Texas has chosen to do is well within the range of traditional democratic action, and its hand should not be stayed through the invention of a brand-new ‘constitutional right’ by a Court that is impatient of democratic change. It is indeed true that ‘later generations can see that laws once thought necessary and proper in fact serve only to oppress,’; and when that happens, later generations can repeal those laws. But it is the premise of our system that those judgments are to be made by the people, and not imposed by a governing caste that knows best.” Hello? That’s what Obama is saying about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Read the whole thing, which is an exercise in patient deconstruction. But somehow it reminded me of this: “The move is classic Don Draper. He announces abruptly that he has evolved — instead of actually evolving.”

Related: Devolution. (Bumped).

VIRGINIA POSTREL: There’s No Free Locavore Lunch: “Patronizing local farmers who produce in small batches tends to cost more. You may find some peak-season bargains at the farmers’ market, but there’s no such thing as a free locavore lunch. Getting fruits and vegetables only from local farms necessarily limits variety—few crops are available everywhere all the time—and it doesn’t come cheap. . . . The real problem with his prescriptions isn’t economic elitism but produce xenophobia. The locavore ideal is a world without trade, not only beyond national borders but even from the next state: no Florida oranges in Colorado or California grapes in New Mexico, no Vidalia onions in New York or summer spinach in Georgia. Fully realized, that ideal would eliminate one of the great culinary advances of the past half century.”

HAZARDS OF TRAVEL: Road Warriors vs. The Bed Bugs. “By knowing what to look for and taking a few easy precautions when you travel, you can easily reduce the probability of bringing home one of these nasty bugs — or kill them before they have a chance to infest your house. . . . Use the luggage rack for your suitcase, and keep the suitcase off the floor or an extra bed. Don’t put clothes in the hotel dresser or drape them on hotel furniture. Consider setting your suitcase on the bathroom counter, where it’s less likely bugs will be. Inspect the entire bed area.”

Not the sorts of concerns I expected in the 21st Century. . . .

HEH: Boehner as Don Draper.

CAROLINE MAY: College campus rape rate 10 times higher than Detroit’s? Don’t believe everything the Justice Department tells you.

PROGRESS: Novel ‘antisense’ therapies protect primates from lethal Ebola and Marburg viruses. “New studies show that treatments targeting specific viral genes protected monkeys infected with deadly Ebola or Marburg viruses. Furthermore, the animals were protected even when therapeutics were administered one hour after exposure — suggesting the approach holds promise for treating accidental infections in laboratory or hospital settings.”

THOUGHTS ON Prison Rape, Dehumanization, and Punishment.

COP: “Guys in jail are going to rape you.” “An undercover New York City cop threatens a man taking cell phone video with arrest for being disrespectful. He then explains that an arrest means a weekend in jail, where he’ll probably be raped.”

UPDATE: “You don’t understand the power of the Internet, man.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Redikop writes:

If there is one thing about your political views that drives me nuts, it’s your seeming animosity towards law enforcement. I understand that much of what you highlight are honest to God abuses of power, some of a very serious nature. (Some are just bad mistakes.) But I think you ignore one salient fact – cops basically deal with dangerous assholes. You and I don’t, typically, deal with such people on a regular basis, so we have to be careful how we judge policemen. Maybe the officer was wrong to mention rape, but how many self-righteous (and guilty) jerks whip out their cell phones and start giving cops shit? A lot, I’ll bet. They can’t afford to take a kumbaya approach to dealing with people, you know? Perhaps you should cut them some slack.

Well, I’m happy to cut people slack in cases of, say, mistaken self-defense where it’s an honest mistake. But the things I flag are abuses of power, pure and simple. We don’t have titles of nobility in this country, and when you have a badge and a gun you should behave better than the average schmuck, rather than having a license to be a jerk. I’m always surprised that people find this controversial.

MORE: NYPD Claims He’s Not A Cop. Bizarre. Not clear yet, though:

Teichberg continues to believe the man was a police officer, claiming that another, uniformed officer had introduced him as such, and that “the fact that he was threatening to arrest me and saying he was a police officer in front of other police officers” is proof that the guy was in fact a cop.

So who is he?

THE WHOLE “WHY AREN’T TODAY’S CONSERVATIVES LIKE WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY” KERFUFFLE doesn’t interest me very much, but here’s one observation: Buckley was charming because he had to be. He got a lot of attention because it was a time when liberalism was at its zenith, and so was its control of the media. Liberals were secure enough to let guys like Buckley on, but only guys like Buckley, whose I’m-a-member-of-the-club aristocratic credentials made him seem safe. And only so long as he was sufficiently nonthreatening.

Times are different now, and the Buckley approach, exquisitely adapted to the 1950s and 1960s, wouldn’t work today. Miss it if you want, but it’s like missing Elvis. And a Buckley impersonator wouldn’t be Buckley any more than an Elvis impersonator is Elvis . . . .

UPDATE: Reader Stephanie Lynch emails: “This is similar to the question I ponder every Sunday night: ‘Why aren’t today’s men like Don Draper?”’

KATHA POLLITT’S SECRET FEMINIST PAIN: “Ah! How Katha suffered for Bill Clinton! She would prefer to have a more pleasurable life, full of the fun of being true to the principles of the feminist movement, but there were more important things to be done at the time. Caring about rape, sexual harassment, male privilege, and female subordination — that was a self-indulgence brave Katha rose above.”

JAILED FOR A FALSE RAPE CHARGE:

A lying mother-of-one who claimed she had been raped because she wanted to get rid of her husband has been jailed for 18 months.

Bernadett Kore, 29, told police she had been brutally attacked by two thugs in an alleyway in October.

But it transpired that the woman made the whole story up – leaving the two men she accused devastated by their terrifying ordeal.

Jail seems fair.

ANN ALTHOUSE ON THE LATEST GORE DEVELOPMENT: “What is the evidentiary weight of a contemporaneous statement like this? It was taken very seriously when aimed at a notable conservative.” Well, sure, one of them.

UPDATE: Reader Rich Reilly writes: “When will we hear from the poodle anti-defamation league?”

In the past, Professor Reynolds has mentioned his support for ending qualified immunity, the special protection from liability afforded to government employees. I agree with him. If anything, public employees should be held to a higher standard than the rest of us.

The story of Michelle Ortiz is an unfortunate example of qualified immunity in action. Ortiz was molested by a prison guard while serving a one-year sentence at a correctional facility in Ohio. When she reported the assault, prison officials did nothing. Later the same evening, the same guard raped her. When Ortiz reported the rape, prison officials ordered her to solitary confinement, and did nothing to punish the guard. A jury awarded Ortiz $625,000. But a panel for the US 6th Circuit Court of Appeals threw out the verdict, finding that as state employees, the prison officials were protected by qualified immunity.

The Supreme Court will hear the case in the fall. The argument for qualified immunity is that we don’t want state employees hampered by fear of lawsuits when they’re making important decisions–be they policy decisions, or in the case of law enforcement, split-second decisions in emergency situations. The flip side of that, and what I find to be the more compelling argument, is that removing the possibility of liability (or at least making it very difficult for victims to win a lawsuit) is going to affect those decisions too. People tend to act differently when there’s less chance that they’ll be held accountable for their actions. That’s not a knock on government employees. It’s human nature.

Prison rape is another issue Instapundit has spoken out about. The current corrections culture that accepts prison rape as an inevitable part of hard time would change pretty quickly if we were to start holding prison guards, administrators, and wardens financially accountable for their negligence in allowing these rapes to continue.

WHAT WENT WRONG in the Christmas Day bombing?  The Senate Intelligence Committee report identifies fourteen “points of failure.”  Failure No. 2 is the decision not to put Abdulmutallab on the “no fly” list, which the intel committee attributes to “the language of the watchlisting standard, the manner in which it was being interpreted at the time, or both.”

Hang on.  The intel committee is saying that the Bush Administration had made it too hard to put people on the watchlist?  Was that the result of some previously unnoticed, late-breaking wave of Bush Administration squishiness on terrorism?  Not exactly.  What the intel committee doesn’t mention is a concerted 2008 campaign, led by the ACLU, that was intended to make the watchlisting standard more rigid, and did.  Here’s what I said in Skating on Stilts about the Christmas Day errors:

Imagine for a minute that you were a security official watching the ACLU press conference in 2008. You see that the organization got the number of names on the list wrong, trashed TSA for a problem they’d created themselves, and received fawning coverage for it. Do you really want to stick your head over the parapet and suggest a substantial expansion of lists that the ACLU says are already “out of control” and are victimizing tens of millions of Americans? Nope, in those circumstances, there wasn’t much chance that standards for getting on the lists would be eased, or that TSA would soon get operational access to the other 95 percent of the database.

In the end when all is said and done, the investigations of the incident will find errors in how the agencies handled the lists and the screening. But when they do, for once we should skip the football analogies.

The errors weren’t “fumbles” or “dropped balls.” Instead, the most apt analogy comes from tennis.

Because if ever there were a “forced error” in policy making, this is it.

And as in tennis, full credit should go to the privacy advocates that forced it.

Well, the unclassified report is out.  And it says pretty much what I expected, except that the authors, who fearlessly trashed the State Department, NCTC, NSA, the CIA, and the FBI, couldn’t muster the courage to  credit the privacy lobby for its dubious achievement.

It appears that temptation has brought down another family values crusader. I blame gay marriage!

Rep. Mark Souder (R-Ind.) will reportedly resign over an alleged affair with a staffer. Souder has long championed abstinence-only education, opposed gay marriage (because that would, you know, ruin the sanctity of hetero marriage), and has been one of the most vocal proponents of sending federal SWAT teams in to raid medical marijuana clinics in states that have legalized the drug for treatment. In fact, Souder once said merely discussing the idea of legalizing medical marijuana is akin to debating the legalization of rape.

Souder’s website sums his political phiolosophy as one that’s “committed to fighting the assault on American values.”

I wish my fellow Hoosiers had had the good sense to oust Souder on his record. But this will work.

Good riddance.

UPDATE:  Here’s a video produced by Souder’s office in which the congressman explains his passion for abstinence-only education. The woman interviewing him in the video . . . is his mistress.

You really can’t make this stuff up.

WITHOUT MURDER, it’s cruel and unusual punishment to sentence a juvenile to life in prison without parole, writes Justice Kennedy for a 6-3 Court. Dissenting, Justice Thomas criticizes the majority for imposing “an exacting constraint on democratic sentencing choices based on … such an untestable philosophical conclusion”: “that a 17-year-old who pulls the trigger on a firearm can demonstrate sufficient depravity and irredeemability to be denied reentry into society, but… a 17-year-old who rapes an 8- year-old and leaves her for dead does not.”

A CREATIVE PROPOSAL for reducing prison rape.

RADLEY BALKO: DNA Exonerations.

Freddie Peacock of Rochester, New York, was convicted of rape in 1976. This year he became the 250th person to be exonerated by DNA testing since the technique was first used in 1989. According to a new report by the Innocence Project, those 250 prisoners served a total of 3,160 years; 17 spent time on death row. Remarkably, 67 percent of them were convicted after 2000, a decade after the onset of modern DNA testing. The glaring question: How many more are there?

A lot, is my guess.

LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE: At least they’re not in Arizona! “Amnesty International called the abuse of migrants in Mexico a major human rights crisis Wednesday, and accused some officials of turning a blind eye or even participating in the kidnapping, rape and murder of migrants. . . . Central American migrants are frequently pulled off trains, kidnapped en masse, held at gang hideouts and forced to call relatives in the U.S. to pay off the kidnappers. Such kidnappings affect thousands of migrants each year in Mexico, the report says. Many are beaten, raped or killed in the process.”

RATS WHO EAT GRAPES have better blood chemistry.

AFRICA’S FOREVER WARS:

What we are seeing is the decline of the classic African liberation movement and the proliferation of something else — something wilder, messier, more violent, and harder to wrap our heads around. If you’d like to call this war, fine. But what is spreading across Africa like a viral pandemic is actually just opportunistic, heavily armed banditry. My job as the New York Times’ East Africa bureau chief is to cover news and feature stories in 12 countries. But most of my time is spent immersed in these un-wars.

I’ve witnessed up close — often way too close — how combat has morphed from soldier vs. soldier (now a rarity in Africa) to soldier vs. civilian. Most of today’s African fighters are not rebels with a cause; they’re predators. That’s why we see stunning atrocities like eastern Congo’s rape epidemic, where armed groups in recent years have sexually assaulted hundreds of thousands of women, often so sadistically that the victims are left incontinent for life. What is the military or political objective of ramming an assault rifle inside a woman and pulling the trigger? Terror has become an end, not just a means.

Though presented as a departure, this is in fact the norm — the way people act in the absence of civilizational restraints. It’s the state of nature. During the cold war, there was some structure left over from colonialism — and, more significantly, pressure from sponsor powers to avoid too much bad PR. That’s all gone now.

JOANNE JACOBS: DUKE BLUE DEVILS CAN’T HAVE SEX:

The Duke Blue Devils had better remain chaste. As national champions, they are unable to have consensual sex with other students under Duke’s new “sexual misconduct” policy, warns the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). A person seen as “powerful” — such as a varsity athlete — may “create an unintentional atmosphere of coercion,” the policy states. For the “powerful,” it’s not just that “no” means no and silence means no. “Yes” means no too.

In addition, sex with someone who’s been drinking — not like that ever happens — is considered a form of rape because the policy considers any level of intoxication makes a student unable to consent to sex.

Duke just descends deeper into self-parody. Why would anyone send a kid to college there? From the comments here: “Duke is $53,000 per year. That’s a lot of money to pay to be treated like a prole on 1984.”

SITTING BY THE WINDOW: And looking out, from the Tea Party Express bus.

There is, by the way, a double Moby Grape reference in this post. But how many will get both?

CNN: Disgruntled Democrats Join The Tea Party. “I should’ve listened a lot closer when he talked about ‘spreading the wealth.’ . . . I feel lied to, cheated and raped.” Well, the Tea Party movement is now mainstream politics.

LISTEN MY FRIENDS: A Tea Party report from Omaha. “It is telling that the organizers expected hundreds and instead got thousands.”

UPDATE: Reader Ernest Gudath writes: “No problem. The media, seeing thousands, will report dozens.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Eric S. McErlain applauds the Golden Palominos reference. But it was really a Moby Grape reference, though the Palominos’ cover is a creditable one.

FROM IOWAHAWK: Journo-politico Violence: Deadly Threat or Menacing Trend?

At the Media Violence Project, our charter is to protect public safety by researching, documenting and raising awareness about the ever-increasing wave of violent, disgusting crimes perpetrated by members of the American news media. It is a largely thankless task — often requiring a cast iron stomach — but if our work has prevented one more American child from falling victim to a criminally insane anchorman or newspaper reporter, it will all have been worth it. . . .

In the two years since the MVP issued our first report, another tidal wave of media-related bizarre or violent crimes has come to light, each more shocking than the last. Like CNN reporter Richard Quest, arrested in New York’s Central Park in 2008 brandishing a noose or ABC Miami reporter Jeffrey Weinsier, charged with entering a school with a firearm. Or New Hampshire Union Leader sports writer Kevin Provencher, charged with operating a prostitution ring. It is unknown whether Provencher’s alleged activities were related to WABC New York sports anchor Marvell Scott, who was arrested earlier this year for allegedly raping a 14-year old prostitute. It is also unclear whether this Granite State “mack daddy” used a “strong pimp hand” with his “bitches,” but he might have shared tips and techniques with fellow journalists like Jason Scott Kidd, charged in 2009 with hitting a woman in the face at a Mexican restaurant, Gawker editor Richard “Date Rape Tips” Blakely, arrested for domestic violence, or Boise anchorman and alleged wife beater David Tester.

Shocking as they are, these incidents scarcely scratch the surface of the global crime wave caused by rampaging journalists. Our in-depth biennial 30 minute Google search uncovered a seemingly endless catalog of journalist-related crimes, astonishing as much for their depravity as their number.

I sleep better knowing IowaHawk is on the job.

AN IMPLAUSIBLE REPORT IN THE SEATTLE TIMES: “A rock was thrown through the window of Driehaus’ Cincinnati office Sunday.”

Justin Binik-Thomas emails from Cincinnati that Rep. Driehaus’ office “is on the 30th floor of a skyscraper downtown.” He also says that he spoke to Driehaus’ office today and they said this never happened. Which is too bad, in a way, as the Reds could use a guy with an arm like that . . . .

The Seattle Times should run a correction.

UPDATE: Heh. Josh Marshall and the Democrats are Rubber. We’re Glue. Except For Our 30 Story Tall Rock Throwing Giant. “If the left burns down their own straw men, can we have them arrested for arson? That seems to be where we are headed.”

CALIFORNIA UPDATE: California unemployment and Oklahoma’s growth – it’s the ‘Grapes of Wrath’ in reverse.

UPDATE: Reader Clifford Grout writes: “Wouldn’t that be the ‘Arugula of Wrath’?”

WHATEVER HAPPENED to crazy? “Lasch’s insight about the connection between culpability and competence, and the way in which ‘therapeutic morality’ undermines self-sufficiency by negating personal responsibility, is essential to understanding the impact of a culture that fosters narcissistic personality traits. . . . Attempting to comfort people by flattering their sense of blamelessness — ‘It’s not your fault’ — therapeutic morality ultimately undermines the vital sense of agency, in effect telling people that they are neither culpable nor competent. It promotes the notion of innocent victimhood, the blameless self, and encourages people to avoid responsibility for their failures by wallowing in self-pitying rationalizations.”

RAY KURZWEIL SENDS THIS ESSAY ON AVATAR.

Reflections on Avatar

Ray Kurzweil
March 5, 2010

I recently watched James Cameron’s Avatar in 3D. It was an enjoyable experience in some ways, but overall I left dismayed on a number of levels.

It was enjoyable to watch the lush three-dimensional animation and motion capture controlled graphics. I’m not sure that 3D will take over – as many now expect – until we get rid of the glasses (and there are emerging technologies to do that albeit, the 3D effect is not yet quite as good), but it was visually pleasing.

While I’m being positive, I was pleased to see Cameron’s positive view of science in that the scientists are “good” guys (or at least one good gal) with noble intentions on learning the wisdom of the Na’vi natives and on negotiating a diplomatic solution.

The Na’vi were not completely technology-free. They basically used the type of technology that Native Americans used hundreds of years ago – same clothing, domesticated animals, natural medicine, and bows and arrows.

They were in fact exactly like Native Americans. How likely is that? Life on this distant moon in another star system has evolved creatures that look essentially the same as earthly creatures, with very minor differences (dogs, horses, birds, rhinoceros-like animals, and so on), not to mention humanoids that are virtually the same as humans here on Earth. That’s quite a coincidence.

Cameron’s conception of technology a hundred years from now was incredibly unimaginative, even by Hollywood standards. For example, the munitions that were supposed to blow up the tree of life looked like they were used in World War II (maybe even World War I). Most of the technology looked primitive, even by today’s standards. The wearable exoskeleton robotic devices were supposed to be futuristic, but these already exist, and are beginning to be deployed. The one advanced technology was the avatar technology itself. But in that sense, Avatar is like the world of the movie AI, where they had human-level cyborgs, but nothing else had changed: AI featured 1980′s cars and coffee makers. As for Avatar, are people still going to use computer screens in a hundred years? Are they going to drive vehicles?

I thought the story and script was unimaginative, one-dimensional, and derivative. The basic theme was “evil corporation rapes noble natives.” And while that is a valid theme, it was done without the least bit of subtlety, complexity, or human ambiguity. The basic story was taken right from Dances with Wolves. And how many (thousands of) times have we seen a final battle scene that comes down to a battle between the hero and the anti-hero that goes through various incredible stages — fighting on a flying airplane, in the trees, on the ground, etc? And (spoiler alert) how predictable was it that the heroine would pull herself free at the last second and save the day?

None of the creatures were especially creative. The flying battles were like Harry Potter’s Quidditch, and the flying birds were derivative of Potter creatures, including mastering flying on the back of big bird creatures. There was some concept of networked intelligence but it was not especially coherent. The philosophy was the basic Hollywood religion about the noble cycle of life.

The movie was fundamentally anti-technology. Yes, it is true, as I pointed out above, that the natives use tools, but these are not the tools we associate with modern technology. And it is true that the Sigourney Weaver character and her band of scientists intend to help the Na’vi with their human technology (much like international aid workers might do today in developing nations), but we never actually see that happen. I got the sense that Cameron was loath to show modern technology doing anything useful. So even when Weaver’s scientist becomes ill, the Na’vi attempt to heal her only with the magical life force of the tree of life.

In Cameron’s world, Nature is always wise and noble, which indeed it can be, but he fails to show its brutal side. The only thing that was brutal, crude, and immoral in the movie was the “advanced” technology. Of course, one could say that it was the user of the technology that was immoral (the evil corporation), but that is the only role for technology in the world of Avatar.

In addition to being evil, the technology of the Avatar world of over 100 years from now is also weaker than nature, so the rhinoceros-like creatures are able to defeat the tanks circa 2100. It was perhaps a satisfying spectacle to watch, but how realistic is that? The movie shows the natural creatures communicating with each other with some kind of inter-species messaging and also showed the tree of life able to remember voices. But it is actually real-world technology that can do those things right now. In the Luddite world of this movie, the natural world should and does conquer the brutish world of technology.

In my view, there is indeed a crudeness to first-industrial-revolution technology. The technology that will emerge in the decades ahead will be altogether different. It will enhance the natural world while it transcends its limitations. Indeed, it is only through the powers of exponentially growing info, bio, and nano technologies that we will be able to overcome the problems created by first-industrial-revolution technologies such as fossil fuels. This idea of technology transcending natural limitations was entirely lost in Cameron’s vision. Technology was just something crude and immoral, something to be overcome, something that Nature does succeed in overcoming.

It was visually pleasing; although even here I thought it could have been better. Some of the movement of the blue natives was not quite right and looked like the unrealistic movement one sees of characters in video games, with jumps that show poor modeling of gravity.

The ending (spoiler alert) was a complete throwaway. The Na’vi defeat the immoral machines and their masters in a big battle, but if this mineral the evil corporation was mining is indeed worth a fortune per ounce, they would presumably come back with a more capable commander. Yet we hear Jake’s voice at the end saying that the mineral is no longer needed. If that’s true, then what was the point of the entire battle?

The Na’vi are presented as the ideal society, but consider how they treat their women. The men get to “pick” their women, and Jake is offered to take his choice once he earns his place in the society. Jake makes the heroine his wife, knowing full well that his life as a Na’vi could be cut off at any moment. And what kind of child would they have? Well, perhaps these complications are too subtle for the simplistic Avatar plot.

By the way, I highly recommend Kurzweil’s The Singularity Is Near, which I reviewed for the Wall Street Journal here.

JUSTICE: “A young mother who falsely cried rape, sending an innocent man to prison for nearly four years, will experience firsthand what he suffered — she’ll spend one to three years behind bars for perjury.”