Search Results

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.”


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 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.


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.


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.


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.”


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.


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.


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.”


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.”

CREDIT CARD NEWS: “A new era in the vexed relationships between colleges, credit cards and students begins Monday, when most of the new provisions of the Credit CARD Act of 2009 take effect. The law provides new protections to students and imposes new requirements on colleges and alumni groups that offer credit cards.”

UPDATE: From the comments: “Why is it OK for students to have thousands of dollars of debt from college, but it is not OK for it to be credit card debt? I guess it is OK for the university system in this country to rape you.”

JULES CRITTENDEN ON Amy Bishop and the Massachusetts justice system. “It all sounds bizarre … the circumstances in this case maybe a little more bizarre than usual, but not by much. That kind of thing actually happens a lot around here. Killers and rapists being let off, and going to to kill or rape again. It’s our special gift to the nation.”

MICHAEL YON SENDS THIS DISPATCH TO INSTAPUNDIT READERS. I don’t usually run things this long on InstaPundit, but although domestic politics have eclipsed war coverage in a lot of places, what’s going on in Afghanistan is still important, and Michael is providing the best coverage out there. Note that he’s supported by reader donations, so if you like his work, hit his tipjar. He needs more support if he is to go back.


Arghandab, Afghanistan

Written 19 December 2009

Published 13 February 2010 (Instapundit)

This is a story of warfighting and technology, and what life is like on the ground for our troops, as they do their best in war.

Last night a soldier from the 82nd Airborne Division was killed. The attack occurred just hours before the 82nd was to relieve 1-17th Infantry from duties in portions of the Arghandab River Valley near Kandahar.

Earlier that morning, soldiers from 1st Platoon, B-company (1-17th) had taken me on a short, easy mission out to a micro-base called “Brick 1.” The Platoon leader was 1st Lieutenant Ryan Fadden, while SFC Dimico was the platoon sergeant. The platoon was ready. Despite the filthy environment, weapons were clean, the gear was sorted and the men were in good spirits and a businesslike frame of mind. They seemed confident. It looked like Lieutenant Fadden and SFC Dimico were on their jobs. The battalion had lost 21 men KIA during the first several months of combat—the Brigade lost 31. An article was about to be published in the Army Times which might lead one to believe that the 1-17th is not combat-ready. The author, Sean Naylor, is as highly respected as he is experienced, and so his words are taken seriously. Yet during my first week, despite serious stresses in some places, the men seemed ready.

And so 1st Platoon drove in their Strykers from COP Jelawur, stopping a couple kilometers away from a small ANA (Afghan National Army) base just on the edge of the Green Zone of the Arghandab River near Kandahar. The heavy Stryker ramps hissed and dropped with a dull thump. The soldiers piled from the backs of the four machines. Two white dogs with wagging tails greeted the men, and the men greeted the dogs as if they were old buddies.

Chaplain Gary Lewis said a prayer, then 1st Platoon left the Gate heading to “Brick 1″

The soldiers checked weapons yet again and adjusted gear, and we walked out the gate, keeping intervals so that a single bomb couldn’t get many of us at once. Sometimes enemies “daisy chain” bombs together like a trotline, killing or wounding many soldiers simultaneously.

The morning was cool, bright and dry, and so the fine dust left perfect boot prints. This was to be the final mission for 1st Platoon in the area before the 82nd Airborne would take over responsibilities at around midnight.

As we walked out the gate, the older female dog which, by her looks, apparently had nursed dozens of suckling puppies in her years, decided to stay behind. The younger white dog trotted out the gate with us.

We walked on the road for a short distance under the direct view of a machine gunner on the perimeter. The roads, trails, and any places that are easy to walk are dangerous. Some bombs have been planted for months and the rains and winds have erased visible signs. The enemy will fire rifles or machine guns, trying to use American aggressiveness against our troops by luring young leaders into traps. The enemy has frequently succeeded in planting bombs very close to American and British bases, and so the minute you step out that gate, watch out. Some of the most dangerous places are closest to the bases where movements are most predictable. In Sangin, a guy tried to plant a bomb in clear view of a British guard tower, so close that the sentry could have killed him with a bow and arrow. Some people believe the Taliban are cowards, but in fact they are audacious and brave.

We moved off the road and patrolled across a freshly ploughed field of rich brown soil, soft as cotton. A shovel lay in the field. The brown boots of soldiers ahead raised dust puffs that caught in the gentle breeze. To attempt to mimic steps of the soldier ahead would glue eyes to ground, away from potential firing points. And besides, the bombs often kill someone far back in the patrol, even in places where others clearly have stepped. British and American soldiers have seen men killed after others had walked directly on a bomb maybe twenty times, until finally a friend disappears on what seemed safe ground. The enemy plants bombs at obvious choke points, but also in random places such as the middle of fields. Planting bombs in covered places drives us into the open, making it easier to ambush with rifles and machine guns. In war, this is fair play.

No matter how hard soldiers try to vary their routes, patterns are set that transcend particular units. The 5/2 SBCT is using an interesting method to avoid making patterns called the “Honesty Trace.”

Our vehicles carry various tracking gear, one of which is the “BFT,” or Blue Forces Tracker. We are the Blue Forces. A “blue on blue” incident usually means we accidentally attacked our own people or allies, which we try hard to avoid. The BFT has many functions, but the prime function is to track the friendly vehicles, representing each with a circular blue icon on the screens.

Soldiers in 5/2 also use something called “Land Warrior,” which includes a small backpack with GPS, radio and soldier-worn computer, similar to a BlackBerry but not as sophisticated. The entire system with batteries weighs about nine pounds. The Land Warrior (LW) is potentially an incredible system, but it “breaks a lot,” according to one soldier. Major Doug Copeland, the Assistant Product Manager for Land Warrior, said we have over 800 LW systems in the field, which have experienced a 3% component failure rate during about seven months of combat. Soldiers report the systems are not yet fully waterproofed, and they’re too heavy for comfort. (Infantrymen think in terms of bullets, and nine pounds equals about 270 bullets.) As the system matures, it should greatly increase our effectiveness.

An eyepiece fits on the helmet with a tiny computer screen that replicates a 17” monitor. The soldier uses the display when he needs to view friendly and enemy forces, which can be populated by the user, HQ, or other units. In other words, a Predator or helicopter could spot and report enemy forces and those enemy forces would appear on the “common operating picture.” The user can navigate, and send/receive digital orders and messages. Importantly, the user can send/receive graphics and images. Images are important. I recall a case in Mosul, Iraq in which a key figure was detained and released even though a soldier thought he recognized the man. Had the soldier been able to quickly send an image to HQ, the terrorist would have been arrested. Instead, he was released.

When viewing the display, the soldier wearing Land Warrior looks like a cyborg. The eyepiece displays his exact location, and that of other Land Warrior equipped soldiers and vehicles, including Strykers. Lieutenant Ryan Fadden, leading the patrol, keeps all the previous IED strikes programmed into his Land Warrior, and so he can see the exact location on the screen, and HQ can see the precise location of each Land Warrior-equipped soldier, as can our A-10C and F-16B30 pilots, though most aircraft cannot see the Land Warrior or BFT.

The Land Warrior and BFT can be coupled with current, already-installed communications systems. This is largely the baby of Captain Jared Cox, who as a lieutenant made a connection that aircraft should be able to track the BFT and Land Warrior. Captain Cox had been the unfortunate victim of a U.S. airstrike during a training mission at home. An American jet destroyed the car that he and an NCO were driving in. It’s a wonder they survived with only scratches. Captain Cox and some A-10C pilots answered my questions about this new system. I wondered how Captain Cox, as a young lieutenant, got enough leash to run with such a wild idea without the Pentagon first spending millions on a feasibility study. His answer was simple: Colonel Harry Tunnell, the Brigade Commander at 5/2 SBCT, thought he was on to something, and so let him try, but with specified goals and conditions. Result: we are using it in combat right here, right now.

Why is this important? Many reasons. We frequently use airpower to help level the extreme terrain advantages the enemy enjoys. In addition to trying to avoid civilian casualties, we try to avoid blue on blue, which, despite precautions, still occur. For instance, a British unit that I was with in Helmand was aggressively pursuing the enemy during a firefight. The British soldiers had located the enemy and pinned them, and were assaulting in. Meanwhile, an Apache helicopter strike was called. During the interim minutes, the ground forces had closed on the enemy, and they had gotten so close so quickly that the pilot thought they were the enemy. The British Apache wounded British soldiers while the enemy got away.

Below are the first unclassified images, released to me by the Air Force and Army, of this system at work in combat.

American A-10C spots British vehicles that were not seen by naked eye. In fact, the British probably do not realize that our A-10Cs have spotted them using the British BFT. Result: the British ground commander can bring our A-10C aircraft to bear with less delay.

Again, through the haze and difficulty, British vehicles can be spotted, allowing for faster, safer airstrikes when British call in American aircraft. It’s important to note that the British don’t have to invest a dime. Most British and American forces don’t know about this emerging capability—just make sure to keep your BFT on and the A-10C and F-16B30 can see you. Apaches and other aircraft cannot as of this writing. When soldiers are dismounted and using the Land Warrior (LW) system, the LW can relay through the vehicles to the A-10C/F-16B30, so the pilots can also see our dismounts, and the vehicles, on their HUDs (Heads Up Displays).

In Afghanistan, we continue to have “DUSTWUN” calls. DUSTWUN means Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown. These have happened especially near rivers, and in the mountains. We lose soldiers, especially after bombings. If the soldier was wearing a LW, we would either know his location, or his last known location. The LW also has a “call for medic” feature. The soldier can push a button that reports location and need for a medic. If he or she is good to type or talk, details can be transmitted.

American A-10Cs and F-16B30s can now track many vehicles from Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Italy, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, Spain, United Kingdom and the United States.

An A-10C commander told me about an instance where American forces had called him in. The man on the ground insisted they were at point “A,” but the A-10C had picked up his LW, and said, “No, that’s not where you are,” and they quickly figured it out and kept working.

Between data from BFT and LW, headquarters can track just about every step soldiers take, and they can see stigmergic “ant patterns” develop. And so the Army hired a civilian expert who creates a pattern analysis to work at 5/2 HQ, and his reports warn unit leaders when they are setting patterns. This applies over time.

Just because 1st Platoon didn’t repeat a certain route doesn’t mean 2nd Platoon or 4th Platoon didn’t already set that same route. A unit that was there two years ago will have already created a pattern, and if the enemy paid attention—this enemy pays very close attention—they don’t need to wait until we draw a map with our boots. The enemy will predict how we move based on previous units. (Emergent patterns transcend particular persons or units.)

Explosives for sale in market in Sangin, Helmand. Ammonium nitrate is used as fertilizer but was recently outlawed in Afghanistan. Ammonium nitrate was used in the Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people.

The enemy sets patterns. The primary indicator that an IED is present is that an IED was there before. In this war, lightning strikes the same places repeatedly. Explosives are cheap. To avoid bombs, instead of going through doors, soldiers blast holes. They avoid paths, avoid bridges that are not observed, avoid the obvious. Some choke points are unavoidable, and so often the best course of action is to spend extra effort on nearby families, trying to develop relationships so they will give tips. By far, the number one counter-IED strategy is cultivating local people. If the local people don’t want you to get blown up, there is a strong chance you won’t get blown up, so long as they feel safe in passing the information. We saw this landslide of support occur in Anbar Province, Iraq, in late 2006, then spread through much of Iraq during 2007. As we pushed more troops into neighborhoods and lived with the people, the people flooded us with information.

There were farmers and kids in the immediate area.

This morning, we crossed the first field, and an irrigation canal. “White Dog” stepped daintily stepped across the stones. Our soldiers have been killed at canal crossings. When there are bridges, the explosives often are just off the bridge, apparently because the enemy doesn’t want to blow up the bridge.

Farmers worked close by—and so we kept going through a hole in a wall, but only because there were farmers right there beside it, who smiled as we stepped through.

The next fields were vineyards, but unlike American vineyards where vines often are trained on wires, these vines are trained on low mud walls that would easily stop cannon fire from an Apache or A-10.

When the Soviets attacked in this same area, Mujahedeen recounted hiding under garlands of grapevines. They waited until soldiers got close and shot them. A 5/2 soldier was shot from up close in the area. The bullet nailed his front plate and knocked him flat but he was okay. Later, an IED took him out of the fight, though comrades say he is doing fine. During winter, the vines are dormant and so there is little cover.

Moving through the vineyards, we walked single file on a hump between rows. The soil was hard as cinderblock. A few hundred meters later we came to Brick 1, the patrol base that had been set up in an abandoned farm compound.

At Brick 1, soldiers had cut down the pomegranate trees inside the compound walls, saying the owner was living in Kandahar and he knew we had occupied his compound and that he would be compensated. Nobody knew the price per tree. During 2008, when I was with British 2 Para in Helmand, a farmer was shooting at us nearly every day. SIGINT (voice intercept) was clear that he was shooting because the British cut down his trees but offered meager compensation. Shortly after I left, a soldier was shot in the head but I do not know if the death stemmed from the trees.

The Stryker soldiers said they typically stay at Brick 1 for about two weeks with no showers, though there is a foreign-built well. They didn’t have a Stryker, just an MRAP, and all their supplies get humped in by foot. They tried to drive in resupply but got blown up, they said. They eat MREs, and there is little going on other than attacks and missions. Inside the compound were bullet holes and marks where RPGs had come in.

Soldiers had collected the expended white casings from mortar illumination; the enemy uses the cases for bombs.

Soldiers can be seen in the field moving closer to the IED.

At Brick 1, everything seemed fine; soldiers were cutting up, saying Perez the sniper couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn.

We walked to the roof of Brick 1 where Perez had his calculator out, doing the math for a long shot, and I wondered who he was going to shoot. Turns out he was only preparing to fire at an IED that had recently been placed within direct sight of patrol base. A patrol had moved out to get a closer look at the bomb.

Though December is dry and brown, the micro-terrain in the valley is like a Harry Potter invisibility cloak. The enemy can still sneak around. And so the area immediately outside the perimeter is likely to have a bomb that wasn’t there the day before.

A couple of helicopters could be seen in the far distance, doing who knows what.

A fat puppy slept on the roof near one of the machine guns, while a brown sheep was running around in the courtyard below. Keeping dogs on base has been against regs since at least World War II, yet I have never been to a single base in Afghanistan or Iraq that doesn’t have at least one. It’s highly doubtful that Secretary Gates or Admiral Mullen really cares about the dogs. At these isolated, small posts, dogs have probably saved a lot of American lives, but mostly they just make good pals. Families send puppy chow through the mail and it’s common to see soldiers with bags of dog food and puppy chow.

On the roof were two interpreters. One “terp” wore the nametag “Tarzan,” saying an American captain had given him the name and he liked it. Afghan men tend to be fanatics for professional wrestling, so there was little doubt he tried to live up to his appellation. He seemed very proud to be called Tarzan.

The soldiers and terps were joking, despite the new bomb nearby which indicated that someone in the neighborhood wanted to kill them. Only the lone sheep seemed unhappy in his loneliness. There was an explosion in the far distance. There were no birds in the air, other than helicopters in the distance. The day before, the Dutch had come in with a giant helicopter to FOB Frontenac and picked up one of their helicopters that had come back from a mission with bullet holes. The Dutch took off the rotors, drained fluids, and flew it away.

Roof of Brick 1: Kandahar Airfield, and Pizza Hut is only about 10 minutes away by helicopter, though these soldiers go weeks eating MREs. Everyone’s war is a snowflake; no two wars are the same. One of Mullah Omar’s wives came from just a few minutes away.

Soldiers at Brick 1 said a mortar strike made this hole in their roof but that fight happened before they arrived. There is the saying that war consists of long periods of sheer boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror. Here there’s something pretty much always going on, though often we don’t know what it is. You can hear explosions or firing, or see the helicopters or jets up to something, but you don’t know what.

1st Platoon prepared to depart Brick 1, leaving the current inhabitants nearby.

We moved through fields and four men were searched but mostly the soldiers just smiled and kept moving.

We didn’t see girls or women during this part of the walk.

This soldier noticed that the wall on the left had been patched since the last time he was there. The enemy often plants bombs in walls.

We walked for maybe another half-mile through a small village that Lieutenant Fadden said previously had been abandoned, but after soldiers had moved into Brick 1 and began regular patrols, families starting coming back. This is a good effect of our work. Creating safety for the local population is the basis of an effective counterinsurgency strategy. LT Fadden’s statements are consistent with observations I’ve made elsewhere in Afghanistan, and also what we saw in Iraq in 2007. Despite much grim news from Afghanistan, there is clear progress in some areas.

This same confusion was evident nearly every step of the way in Iraq between 2004 and mid 2007: clear progress in some respects with clear backsliding in others. This is the nature of progress in the face of opposition. It’s like a ship whose engines are pushing one way, while the currents are flowing another, while the changing winds are blowing yet another, and it’s all happening at night, and there is no GPS. You just have to wait for clear nights to check the stars, and, as it has been said, smooth seas never made a successful sailor. This military has weathered ferocious storms over the past eight years, more than even they can remember, often enduring setbacks and tragedies, sometimes blown off course. Over that time, there has been movement toward our goals, but not enough, and the enemy is strengthening.

Along the way, young boys wanted their photos taken, but girls were nowhere to be seen.

This village had water wells similar in form to what can be seen in many villages in Afghanistan.

The base of this water well indicates the Danish installed it back in 2003, when the world seemed to know that the Taliban were whipped and we decided to attack Iraq.

Elsewhere in Arghandab are plentiful signs, apparently erected by us, which today mock our “progress.” People say that Americans, British and others are losing patience with our progress here. It’s reasonable that citizens at home expect demonstrable progress in 2010, after 8 full years. People at home have a right to know how we are spending the lives of our people, and our money.

We walked back to the ANA base without incident. Some 82nd Airborne soldiers were preparing for a mission. They had no way of knowing that an earthquake was brewing in Haiti and other 82nd soldiers would soon be swooping in there to save lives.

Tonight, 18 December 2009, their unit would take command of the area, and the 1-17th would go out to FOB Frontenac to take a different area. Stryker soldiers from the 1-17th talked quietly about the Humvees, sadly predicting the loss of 82nd brethren, and then changed the subject to more lighthearted matters.

A few minutes later, I joined a different Stryker convoy for the several-hour journey back to FOB Frontenac. We would travel through the area where five Canadians—four soldiers and a journalist—would soon be killed. This was shortly before the suicide bombing at a base that attacked CIA officers, killing eight people. The CIA is out here working hard but they don’t get much credit. That’s the way it must be.

As we crossed dangerous terrain, a helicopter from some unknown country swooped over the convoy a couple times. The Strykers are bad about getting stuck in the desert, but are better than the heavy humvees, and so we crossed some wadis at 90 degrees. Over my headset, soldiers talked about the high danger of this area. Later that night, we got back to FOB Frontenac and learned that an 82nd Airborne Convoy had been hit in a wadi that we had crossed. The humvees cannot cross wadis like Strykers can. A ranking soldier explained that the humvee had driven in the wadi and been hit. Two soldiers were wounded. Sergeant Albert Ware, an 82nd Airborne soldier from Chicago, had been killed. Albert was originally from Liberia and on his second tour in Afghanistan. A story in Chicago would say the following:

“Tragically, the war monument in the Pullman neighborhood will soon bear another name, after a 27-year-old father of three was killed this week by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan.

Sgt. Albert Ware died after his Humvee was blown up while he was on a secret mission…When Ware told his parents he’d joined the military after the Sept 11 terror attacks, they were angry that he voluntarily chose to go to war.

‘I was afraid,’ said his father, Thomas Ware.”

Sergeant Albert Ware died in service to the United States. He is an American hero. Since this mission, the Coalition has lost about a hundred more. The war goes on.


As I mentioned, Michael Yon is supported by reader donations, so if you like his work, please give generously.

RAPE VICTIMS VS. PRISON-RAPE VICTIMS. Bill Lockyer was unavailable for comment.

THOSE GRAPES were sour anyway.

ANN ALTHOUSE DISSECTS THE COAKLEY MESSAGE: Oh, no! It’s men in trucks! Plowing in from Texas! Running down all the women! Rape! “See how that article — by Jonathan Martin in Politico — tried to flip you? First, nonentities were presented as prejudiced against a woman, ready to vote against Coakley because she’s a woman, and then, suddenly, liberals are supposed pushed to feel that they ought to vote for her because she’s a woman.”

COAKLEY CAMPAIGN getting desperate. Also, busing in SEIU folks.

UPDATE: More thoughts from Dan Riehl and William Jacobson. [LATER: From the comments at Jacobson's: "Realistically speaking, though, most 23-month-olds who've been raped with a hot curling iron don't require the morning after pill."]

ANOTHER UPDATE: Busing in those SEIU folks just might backfire. Or maybe this explains why they’ve got to bring ‘em in from out of state, when there ought to be plenty of SEIU folks right there in Massachusetts.

MARTHA AND SCOTT: Was it “Rape-Rape?”

MARTHA COAKLEY: “In deep trouble.”

Related: Does Coakley Oppose Care For Rape Victims?

UPDATE: Pushing around reporters? That’s smart.

ANOTHER UPDATE: MA Union Guy: Sshhhh, Lady! I’m Voting for Brown, OK? Just Doing My Job Here. Now Beat It!.

MORE: Grassroots revolt.

WILL COLLIER has a bone to pick with David Brooks. “What Brooks, with his touching faith in ‘pragmatic federal leaders with professional expertise’ doesn’t want to talk about, of course, is just how badly the Ivy League class has failed over the past couple of decades. All those rows of degrees from Harvard didn’t keep a pack of Brooksian elites–mostly members of the Democratic Party–from running Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac straight into the toilet, and taking the private economy with them. Hiring out of the Ivies also didn’t save Lehman Brothers or AIG from doing remarkably stupid things with other people’s money. And as for ‘professional expertise…’ just what profession does the Obama cabinet posses expertise in, other than hardball politics?” And George W. Bush went to Yale and had a graduate degree from Harvard — though, somehow, that didn’t seem to qualify him for membership in the educated classes.

UPDATE: More on Brooks: “Curiously absent from the Brooks column is any sense of what caused all of this. Primarily, it is caused by the real and perceived failures of the educated class, from Wall Street to Pennsylvania Avenue and Capitol Hill. There has never been much political momentum on the issue of global warming (the Senate pre-emptively rejected the Kyoto treaty on a 95-0 vote) because of economic concerns. Thus, it is not surprising that the public becomes less interested in such action amid a serious recession. If the public has become more pro-life, it may be that the now commonplace technology of sonography has graphically brought the reality of the issue into more and more families, while the supposedly educated class adheres to old dogma. If the public is more concerned about their Second Amendment rights, it may be a reaction to the fact the party in power tends to infringe on them. Indeed, the public reaction on all of these issues may be seen as a reaction against an agenda that lacks a mandate (more on that below).”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Okay, I went and reread that Brooks column. When I posted a link this morning, I didn’t see it as being as objectionable as these responses suggest, and on rereading I still don’t. Yes, there’s the air of Brooksian condescenscion toward the great unwashed, but that’s practically required for the NYT columnist gig, and remember, he’s trying to explain this stuff to the Upper West Side crowd. And I’m not so sure he’s using “educated class” in a positive way. See, e.g., “The tea party movement is a large, fractious confederation of Americans who are defined by what they are against. They are against the concentrated power of the educated class. They believe big government, big business, big media and the affluent professionals are merging to form self-serving oligarchy — with bloated government, unsustainable deficits, high taxes and intrusive regulation.” So cut Brooks at least a little slack, here.

And reader David Marcus writes: “When Brooks refers to the educated class, which your other commentators equated with Ivy League, I think he really is referring to the New Class as set out by Herman Kahn in the late 1970’s.” Yes, the New Class idea originally appeared as a critique of the Soviet nomenklatura apparatchiks by Milovan Djilas, but Kahn noted that it applies elsewhere, too. I believe that John Kenneth Galbraith noted this, too, only with approval.

MORE: Prof. Kenneth Anderson writes:

New Class analysis needs to be reset into an American context – once place that does that is the great social theory journal Telos. And I try to do that in a law review essay on lawyers, therapeutic authoritarianism, and the New Class, in the Columbia Law Review.

Here’s a bit from the conclusion:

The old elites wanted to be the top of the communities in which they had grown up; whether to lead or dominate, to serve communities or exploit them, at least they understood themselves as having a place in them. The new elites, by contrast, want no connection; they understand that power is elsewhere, money is elsewhere, and mobility is everything; if indeed they have to live somewhere, it will be if at all possible in a wholly private, gated community. Yet simultaneously they want to dominate.

The New Class pushes its mobility to absolute limits, launching itself into what it imagines is a global society conducted in the jet stream, made weightless by the complete mobility of capital, but with devastating consequences for those left behind on the ground. For those who cannot fly, there is first, the administration of life by these same elites and their hirelings, the authoritarian, bureaucratic formations which, to be sure, express themselves alternately in soothingly therapeutic psycho-babble or communitarian slogans of the common good or assertions of new and endless rights and, second, economic insecurity in the midst of being urged to greater self-esteem …

In this unforgiving light, the unhappiness of lawyers looks rather less like professionals experiencing the loss of fulfillment that accompanies losing “ownership” of the social ends of the legal profession and rather more like the unhappiness of experts who, having established to their own satisfaction the certainty of ends not open for argument by non-experts, wonder why they are not also loved.

The issue of the New Class and its lawyers is authoritarianism. In an age when the therapeutic has appropriated rights talk, and with it lawyers, turning it and them into agents of New Class authoritarianism and social control, the real question that needs to be answered is why there exists the continued “hegemony within the public culture of an essentially indeterminate and at the same time absolutist discourse of rights.” It predominates because, far from being merely a language of individual liberty or even unbridled individual license (as, for example, the communitarians would have us believe) it is today a language of state authority, a language of therapeutic paternalism; those who actually dream of being “liberals” will not reclaim rights talk any time soon. Its appropriation is at the core of the process by which the state today controls, as Christopher Lasch wrote, “not merely [the individual's] . . . outer but his inner life as well; not merely the public realm but the darkest corners of private life, formerly inaccessible to political domination.”

Lawyers are deeply complicit in this colonization of the language of rights by the culture of therapy. They participate because it serves the agenda of a class that, unfamiliar with democracy except as an impediment to its social engineering, is incapable of any form of discourse that is not directed from the top to the bottom. Expertise, particularly in the social sciences, is a language of hierarchy and social control, and lawyers today, as a professional formation within the New Class, deploy the language of rights to the end of making the therapeutic coercive in the public sphere.

It is not a glorious profession because it is not a glorious class, and lawyers are right to be unhappy.

Gosh, I feel kinda guilty for enjoying life so much now.

RELATED: Bad sociology.

MORE: Reader Joe Jackson writes: “You’ve probably already posted all of the give and take that you intend to post concerning the David Brooks column. But I can’t resist relating this: Back in the early 90s someone gave me an autobiography by Ben Bradlee. It was a lousy book, poorly written, in fact an embarrassment. But one little anecdote has stayed with me. When he first arrived at the Washington Post, retired Executive Editor Leonard Downie’s nickname, according to Bradlee, was ‘Land Grant Len’. Seems that Downie, unlike most of the other hot-shots at the Post, including Bradlee himself, was not an Ivy Leaguer but rather a graduate of Ohio State, a Land Grant institution. David Brooks fits right into this mind-set.”

AGAIN: DNA Clears Man Of Rape After 35 Years.

STUART TAYLOR: FRESH ROT AT DUKE: “You might think that a university whose students were victims of the most notorious fraudulent rape claim in recent history, and whose professors — 88 of them — signed an ad implicitly presuming guilt, and whose president came close to doing the same would have learned some lessons. The facts are otherwise. They also suggest that Duke University’s ugly abuse in 2006 and 2007 of its now-exonerated lacrosse players — white males accused by a black stripper and hounded by a mob hewing to political correctness — reflects a disregard of due process and a bias against white males that infect much of academia.”

THIS KIND OF THING JUST KEEPS HAPPENING: DNA clears man jailed 25 years for rape, murder.

WHICH IS WORSE? Rape or cuckoldry?

YEARS AGO, the FDA shut down sales of a product called Jogging In A Jug. “By law, the product–a mixture of grape and apple juices and vinegar called Jogging in a Jug–was considered an unapproved new drug due to claims McWilliams, 64, made for it.”

But now we learn that vinegar can affect blood sugar levels, which makes me wonder about triglycerides, too. Maybe McWilliams was just too far ahead of the curve. . . .

UPDATE: Reader Jeffrey Jackson notes that my triglyceride intuition seems to be correct.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Christopher Brandt writes: “I’m curious to see how much vinegar was consumed by people 50-100 years ago, and our ancestors who used it as a primary food preservative. Pickles anyone?” I wonder if the switch to refrigeration led to lower levels of vinegar in the diet, and hence to the midcentury jump in heart disease? Purely speculative, of course, but interesting.

CLOSE CALL: “Although no one noticed at the time, the Earth was almost hit by an asteroid last Friday. The previously undiscovered asteroid came within 8,700miles of Earth but astronomers noticed it only 15 hours before it made its closest approach. Its orbit brought it 30 times nearer than the Moon, which is 250,000 miles away.”

VIDEO: Moby Grape live, on the Mike Douglas show.

ANNIE JACOBSEN: Federal Air Marshal on Trial for Rape in UK.

CHRISTIAN / NEWSOM UPDATE: Lemaricus Davidson gets death for his role in the torture-rape-murder.

ARE DATE-RAPE DRUGS an urban myth?


UPDATE: What do Barack Obama and Yassir Arafat have in common?

Plus, Mickey Kaus: Turn It Down. “Say he’s honored but he hasn’t had the time yet to accomplish what he wants to accomplish.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Doug Mataconis on Facebook: “Teddy Roosevelt wins Peace Prize for stopping a war. Carter wins Peace Prize for a lifetime of work. Obama wins Peace prize for breathing.”

MORE: Heh.

I say, not bad for a guy who’s been acting like Bambi caught in the headlights of history.

STILL MORE: London Times: Absurd decision on Obama makes a mockery of the Nobel peace prize. Oh, it was already a mockery.

Meanwhile, Mataconis is on a roll on Facebook: “How can Obama win the Nobel Peace Prize on the same day that he’s becoming the first POTUS to bomb the Moon?”

It’s Frank J. Fleming’s world. The rest of us just live in it.

MORE STILL: Various reader comments:

“It’s a peace prize, not a peace peace prize.”

“How do you say ‘jumped the shark’ in Norwegian?”

“Today the Nobel Committee announced a posthumous Peace Prize for Neville Chamberlain.”

“Why not the Cy Young Award, too?”

“Let’s be fair . . . he did pull off the Beer Summit.”

Plus, Jacob T. Levy on Facebook: “The US border agent in Toronto– the armed representative of the state who was holding my passport– asked me what I thought of the Nobel, got angry when I was anything less than celebratory, and didn’t want to give my passport back– wanted to keep arguing.”

“Americans want to be loved.”

“The subprime Peace Prize.”

Salena Zito: “Well, this makes his meeting with his war team today awkward.”

HuffPo: Whatever Happened to Awarding For Deeds Actually Done?

Richard Cohen:

In a stunning announcement, Millard Fillmore Senior High School chose Shawn Rabinowitz, an incoming junior, as next year’s valedictorian. The award was made, the valedictorian committee announced from Norway of all places, on the basis of “Mr. Rabinowitz’s intention to ace every course and graduate number one in class.” In a prepared statement, young Shawn called the unprecedented award, “f—ing awesome.”

At the same time, and amazingly enough, the Pulitzer Prize for Literature went to Sarah Palin for her stated intention “to read a book someday.” The former Alaska governor was described as “floored” by the award, announced in Stockholm by nude Swedes beating themselves with birch branches, and insisted that while she was very busy right now, someday she would make good on her vow to read a book. “You’ll see,” she said from her winter home in San Diego.

And again in a stunning coincidence, the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences announced the Oscar for best picture will be given this year to the Vince Vaughn vehicle “Guys Weekend to Burp,” which is being story-boarded at the moment but looks very good indeed. Mr. Vaughn, speaking through his publicist, said was “touched and moved” by the award and would do everything in his power to see that the picture lives up to expectation and opens big sometime next March.


DON DRAPER: Most influential guy of 2009? And he’s fictional. That must mean something . . . .

RESVERATROL UPDATE: “Resveratrol, a molecule found in red grapes, has been shown to improve diabetes when delivered orally to rodents. Until now, however, little has been known about how these beneficial changes are mediated in the body. A new study accepted for publication in Endocrinology, a journal of The Endocrine Society, shows that the brain plays a key role in mediating resveratrol’s anti-diabetic actions, potentially paving the way for future orally-delivered diabetes medications that target the brain.” Of course, the usual cautions about mice vs. people apply . . . .

NOT “RAPE-RAPE” OF A “NOT KID-KID”: Tom Shales: I’m Shocked To Be Told I Minimized Roman Polanski’s Crime. Here, Let Me Do It Again! “In Hollywood I am not sure a 13-year-old is really a 13-year-old.”

UPDATE: Shales defends Letterman, too: Let’s Remember That Letterman’s a Clown, Not a Cleric or Congressman. And a Democrat, not a Republican . . . .

Transparent weasels.

MARK STEYN on Hollywood’s Moral Compass.

WHOOPI GOLDBERG, Child Advocate.

Well, not an advocate advocate. . . .

YOU DON’T SAY: “Whoopi Goldberg is facing a fierce backlash after saying that film director Roman Polanski didn’t commit ‘rape-rape’ when he had unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl.”

NOTING THE HUFFINGTON POST’S DIFFERING TREATMENT of Roman Polanski and Mark Foley. “But unlike Foley, Polanski is not a Republican. He’s simply wanted in L.A. on a child rape charge.”

Related: Applebaum blames the victim for the rape. Plus, an interesting development: “The vast majority of French people feel the same way about Polanski as the vast majority of Americans. In both countries, sympathy for a child rapist seems isolated to the entertainment elite and the media sycophants who love them.” And the tax-and-financial advisors at ACORN, I suppose . . . .

UPDATE: Related thoughts here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: From Ann Althouse, a shred of sympathy for dumb celebrities:

I think these people are not really very politically savvy, though they want to look engaged and good. They’re surrounded by people who tell them what views to reflect and they got a clear message that made them think this was another easy one. And now, the backlash comes. Oh, poor celebrities! They just tried to say what their all-encompassing environment made them was good to say. Have a little compassion. It’s not like they raped a kid.

Nope, just excused it. Which tells us a lot about that “all-encompassing environment.”

JIM LINDGREN: Good artists are not necessarily good people and bad people are not necessarily bad artists. “When Orwell says that even a reborn Shakespeare couldn’t get away with ‘raping little girls,’ he was either reflecting the mores of the times (1944) — or he forgot about Hollywood.”

UPDATE: Whoopi Goldberg disgraces herself.

MORE ON THE Anne Applebaum / Roman Polanski conflict. You can tell a lot about a governing class from who it’s willing to cover for.

UPDATE: Col. Douglas Mortimer writes:

Well, let’s remember that in the book “Less than Zero,” the children of the Hollywood elite watch a 12 year old girl be bound, raped, and murdered at a party. That little nugget of joy didn’t make the movie, but the author obviously knew these people.

Our tastemakers.


If Polanski was an ordinary Roman, and not an award-winning film director, we wouldn’t be having this debate. There is sympathy for him because he’s considered a great artiste. The Hollywood elite wouldn’t give Polanski the plumber the time of day if he had sexually assaulted an underage girl. And that suggests to me a stunning double standard.


MEGAN MCARDLE ON ROMAN POLANSKI: “You would think we’d busted him for unpaid parking tickets. The guy drugged a thirteen year old girl in order to rape her. Perhaps the French have some sophisticated, European point of view on these things that I, with my puritan ancestry, simply cannot rise to.”

Or they could just be miserable shitheels. Related item here: “Let’s keep in mind that Roman Polanski gave a 13-year-old girl a Quaalude and champagne, then raped her.” Just remember: If he weren’t a member of the politico-artistic elite, he’d have done hard time already.

But, since he is, we get this: Hollywood Unites To Defend Polanski. “If his unspeakable deed doesn’t meet the standard, what exactly would Roman Polanski have to do in order to become a pariah in this town … I mean, besides vote for Sarah Palin?”

UPDATE: Reader Michael McElwee smells a rat:

Isn’t it obvious this arrest – out of nowhere – is a political move by Obama’s minders?

What better to keep Greta and America distracted for a week or so?

Don’t be silly. That would suggest that the justice system was entirely politicized.

THE HOFSTRA FAKE-RAPE BROUHAHA reminds me of this post from when InstaPundit was young. Also this one.

I THOUGHT THAT OBAMA’S ELECTION WOULD MEAN THEY WOULDN’T HATE US ANYMORE: FBI arrests Jordanian citizen for attempting to bomb skyscraper in downtown Dallas. (Via JWF).

ANN ALTHOUSE AND EMILY BAZELON: Lessons from the Hofstra Gang Rape Hoax.

UPDATE: Had the wrong link before. Fixed now. Sorry!

“A SMALL — IF FAIRLY MEANINGLESS — SHRED OF COMPASSION.” Emily Bazelon responds to me on the Hofstra fake-rape case.

UPDATE: Sort-of-related: One in 20 UK women has never had sex while sober. “Almost half of those questioned said they preferred sex while under the influence of alcohol because it helped them to lose their inhibitions and be more adventurous. Researchers, who surveyed 3,000 women aged between 18 and 50, found the average woman has slept with eight men, but was drunk with at least five of them. On two of these occasions they couldn’t even remember the man’s name the next day.”

EMILY BAZELON: The lesson we’re not learning from the Hofstra date rape that wasn’t. “The weird lesson for men who have group sex in bathrooms: Film it on your cell phone.” And a question: why doesn’t she publish the accuser’s name, now that the rape is admittedly fake? You’re not protecting a victim now, Emily, you’re protecting a perpetrator. Her name is Danmell Ndonye.

How many innocent men are in jail because of similar false accusations? We’re told that such situations are rare, but nobody really knows. And in your piece, Emily, you’re still making excuses for her. 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.

Ann Althouse adds: “I think, on the whole, women would be better off if they stepped up to the adult work of taking responsibility for themselves. The men in this incident were awful too, but ladies, say no to awful men. Don’t let men define what good sex is. And certainly don’t let them act out their idea of good sex and then decide that you wanted something nicer.” Though apparently what triggered this false charge wasn’t so much regret for an insufficiently nice sexual experience as a desire to keep people from thinking she was a “slut.”

“As I was about to leave, she comes up and she has no shoes on, she is holding them in her hands. She looked like she just finished hot sex,” he said. “I said, ‘Where were you? What were you doing?’ She told me, ‘Nothing.’ I said, ‘What do you mean, nothing?’ ”

Ndonye then dropped a bombshell.

“I said, ‘Don’t lie to me, what’s going on?’ And she said, ‘Oh, I just got raped,’ ” he said.

“It didn’t seem real to me. She was calm,” he continued. “Then she started crying and saying, ‘I was raped.’ She lied to me. I think she was embarrassed. I said to her, ‘You have to call public safety.’ She hesitated. It seemed like she didn’t want to.”

She then tried to backpedal.

“Oh, you know, no, it’s OK,” she told him, but he was incredulous.

“How could it be OK that you just got raped?” the boyfriend said.

So she relented — and a four-day nightmare began for four innocent men. . . . “She probably felt like, ‘They’ll think I’m a slut,’ ” her boyfriend, who asked not to be identified, told The Post.

Nothing wrong with being a slut — it’s one of those personal sexual choices we’re supposed to celebrate, right? — but there’s a lot wrong with making false rape charges.

And shouldn’t Hofstra apologize for suspending these guys and banning them from campus on the strength of an unsubstantiated allegation? It seems to me that there are a lot of lessons to be learned here.

UPDATE: A reader says that false rape allegations are not rare.