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April 24, 2014

Boehner Mocks Republican Congressmen on Immigration Reform

—Ace

Ah, so.

MADISON TOWNSHIP House Speaker John Boehner theatrically mocked his fellow Republican Congressmen for being afraid to reform immigration policy when he spoke Thursday before the Middletown Rotary Club in his home district.

"Here's the attitude. Ohhhh. Don't make me do this. Ohhhh. This is too hard," Boehner whined before a luncheon crowd at Brown's Run County Club in Madison Township.

"We get elected to make choices. We get elected to solve problems and it's remarkable to me how many of my colleagues just don't want to ... They'll take the path of least resistance."

Boehner said he's been working for 16 or 17 months trying to push Congress to deal with immigration reform.

"I've had every brick and bat and arrow shot at me over this issue just because I wanted to deal with it. I didn't say it was going to be easy," he said.

There is a line that separates one species from another. Inside that line, you're part of the same species. Different variety, sure, but same species.

Outside of it, and you're a different species and can't interbreed.

I think in politics we might say that that line which divides one political species from another is disparagement.

Disagreement makes you another variety of the same species. But sneering dismissal? That puts you in the category of a different species.

This is especially a problem as politicians, well, evolve as they say (continuing my taxonomic/biological analogy), to the left, because the Left is really quite terribly good at labeling people to the right as being beneath contempt and beyond the parameters of polite debate.

Thus, as someone takes more leftward positions, he hears the applause from the Leftist Chattering Classes, and begins to play to the home crowd, and that home crowd is now more and more made up of leftist agitators and other members of the media, and begins to hate his opponents, and evolves even faster.

The end point of this evolution is of course John McCain.

Posted by Ace at 07:48 PM Comments



Now Here's Some Stupid Girl Saying What I Just Said

—Ace

I did not know -- swearsies -- that Mollie Hemingway had covered this earlier, contrasting the problems faced by the upper-middle-class American white girls who make up the ranks of the Post-Feminist left with the problems faced by girls in other, harder parts of the world.

I seem to notice the Post-Feminists promote the sillier sorts of stories and not only don't discuss the harsher, more important stories, but take active steps to suppress discussion of them.

Posted by Ace at 06:02 PM Comments



Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Western Feminists Life Safe, Soft Decadent Lives, and Focus on the Trivial at the Expense of the Profoundly Important

—Ace

My words, not hers, but that's her point.

"The white man is held to a moral standard that, in the West, men [who have immigrated] from other cultures are not held to," she told the Herald. ''If a white man sold his daughter into marriage, most people would be appalled and there'd be an outrage in any national context in any country in the West. But when it's a man from Pakistan or Somalia or Yemen or India, then what you see is this: 'Oh yes, but …'"

...

Hirsi Ali, who lives in the US, believes women in developed countries are distracted by issues like work-life balance when they should focus on big-picture issues, such as women's safety. She says it is the responsibility of Western feminists to push these issues onto the public agenda - but only if the movement returns to its original values.

This is a several-weeks-old story, but I'm revisiting it on my way to discussing a newer story.

The letter demanding that Hirsi Ali be dis-invited from speaking at Brandeis was, get this, largely signed by women in the Women and Gender Studies program, and more-or-less-explicitly stated that Ali's focus on genuine repression of women took the focus off the trivial microagressions they prefer to gab about.

The Brandeis professors who demanded that Ayaan Hirsi Ali be "immediately" dis-invited wrote that "we are filled with shame at the suggestion that (Hirsi Ali's) above-quoted sentiments express Brandeis's values." The professors also castigated Hirsi Ali for her "core belief of the cultural backwardness of non-western peoples" and for her suggestion that "violence toward girls and women is particular to Islam." The professors note that such a view "obscure(s) such violence in our midst among non-Muslims, including on our own campus."

Well, they're not practicing forced clitorectomies at Brandeis, nor are they practicing forced marriage (which is essentially family-arranged rape for life), so I take their complaint to mean this:

Hirsi Ali's own story of genuine oppression, and her agitation about important, fundamental rights of, and dignities owed, to women, makes our own neurotic prattlings seem rather silly and fluffy by comparison.

One of the most important ideas in Post-Feminist philosophy (it's post-feminist now; this is just a degenerate, decadent, silly thing) is the concept of "rape culture."

"Rape culture" is crucial because it is the means by which the trivial is transmogrified into the profound. The fact that a man might commit a "microaggression" against a woman by opening the door for her is, in a series of logical steps, rapidly connected to something serious -- rape -- and thus invested with seriousness itself.

Even though it is by no means serious itself.

But the quick silly skipping "logical" steps go like this:

1. A man commits a "microaggression" against a woman by holding a door open for her, "Otherizing" her and suggesting she is infantile and unable to accomplish small tasks on her own.

2. This is a microaggressive power play which reifies the assumptions of the Patriarchy, about woman's role in society as essentially that of Object or Ornament even Trade Good.

3. This dehumanization of women -- the conscious microaggressive stripping of dignity, agency, and autonomy from women -- makes it more easy for a member of the Patriarchy to treat them as inhuman things.

4. This increases the likelihood of rape and in fact reinforces a "rape culture."

That's the reasoning, such as it is, and this reasoning is assumed (rarely spelled out for the listener) whenever a Post-Feminist attempts to invest some absolutely trivial, bubble-headed cultural complaint (such as Tina Fey's character on 30 Rock not being a real feminist) with some imaginary weightiness.

No one can argue that rape isn't a crime of great weight, and so whenever a Post-Feminist senses she's saying something so absurd and trivial it may make her look absurd and trivial, she knows to go through the "Rape Culture" Algorithm to insist that what she's saying isn't absurd and trivial at all, but Very, Very Important.

But of course I can play the same game with any subject and connect it to rape, murder, or Hitler, as you like.

I can connect, if I wanted, a movie I didn't like to Hitler in four steps or fewer; that would not make my whining about The Hobbit 2 any less trivial or any more "political." (But seriously, it was the worst movie I've seen in years. I literally said aloud, "I hate this f***ing movie" about halfway through. I think it might be worst than the Holocaust, but I'm not sure.)

This is a silly game, indulged by silly people.

Hirsi Ali's story is a threat to this version of Post-Feminist trivial pursuits, as that letter readily admits. Hirsi Ali is speaking of real rape -- not "rape culture" -- and real, physical aggressions, clitorectomies, daylight murders, all of which have the inevitable effect of making the pet obsessions of the Brandeis Women and Gender Studies Department seem rather more ridiculous than they already might appear.

Charles C.W. Cooke discussed this some weeks back:

Prepossessed as he was with the all-encompassing wars of his era, George Orwell complained that political language was “designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” Unlike Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the culture warriors of America’s pampered campuses are unlikely to be dealing in murder or in warfare or, for that matter, in anything of much consequence at all. Nevertheless, they enjoy playing assassin, painting glowing targets onto the backs of any idea that threatens their power and, one by one, seeking the bullseyes.

So, here's my point. Slate is a magazine much-devoted to the trivial and silly -- until recently, they were the proud (?) publisher of the mindthoughts of Matt Yglesias, now of Chuckleheadz.com -- and never is Slate more trivial and silly than its embarrassing, woman-shaming "XX Factor" column, aka "Politicz for Grrls."

And so here's he latest masterpiece from the XX Factor brain trust.

It comes -- appropriately enough -- from a junior in high school.

This is what Post-Feminists would rather talk about than Ayaan Hirsi Ali's first-hand encounters with real-world oppression of women.

McDonald's Gave Me the “Girl's Toy” With My Happy Meal. So I Went to the CEO.

By Antonia Ayres-Brown

We found that 92.9 percent of the time, the store simply gave each child the toy that McDonald’s had designated for that child’s gender.


In the fall of 2008, when I was 11 years old, I wrote to the CEO of McDonald’s and asked him to change the way his stores sold Happy Meals. I expressed my frustration that McDonald’s always asked if my family preferred a “girl toy” or a “boy toy” when we ordered a Happy Meal at the drive-through. My letter asked if it would be legal for McDonald’s “to ask at a job interview whether someone wanted a man’s job or a woman’s job?”

A few weeks later, I received a short response from a McDonald’s customer satisfaction representative claiming that McDonald’s doesn’t train their employees to ask whether Happy Meal customers want boys’ or girls’ toys, and my experiences were not the norm.

This response was unsatisfying, so I began visiting more than a dozen local McDonald’s locations with my father to collect data. Ultimately, we brought a complaint to the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities against McDonald’s for discriminating on the basis of sex. Despite our evidence showing that, in our test, McDonald’s employees described the toys in gendered terms more than 79 percent of the time, the commission dismissed our allegations as “absurd” and solely for the purposes of “titilation [sic] and sociological experimentation.”All in all, this was a pretty humiliating defeat.

When a Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities tells you you're being absurd, you're probably doing something wrong.

But I still couldn’t let it go.... So this past summer, we decided to test this assertion.

In a series of 30 visits, we sent boys and girls, ages 7-11, into 15 McDonald’s stores to independently order a Happy Meal at the counter. We found that 92.9 percent of the time, the store, without asking, simply gave each child the toy that McDonald’s had designated for that child’s gender...

In the most egregious instance, a McDonald’s employee asked a girl, “Would you like the girl's toy?” The girl responded, “No, could I have the boy's toy?” When the girl opened the container a moment later, she learned that notwithstanding her explicit request, a McDonald’s employee had given her the girl’s toy. This girl went back to the counter with the unopened toy and requested, “May I have a boy's toy, please?” The same McDonald’s employee replied, “There are only girl's toys.” We then sent an adult male into the store who immediately was given a boy’s toy.

"The most egregious incident" involving cisnormative distribution of Happy Meal toys, she means. I suppose, within that particular set, this might indeed be "the most egregious incident."

Oh by the way, Ayaan Hirsi Ali is not permitted to discuss her own experiences of genital mutilation and attempted forced marriage because that might "distract" from the important agenda items being pushed by Post-Feminists.

I will say one thing for this Junior Member of the Women and Gender Studies Social Justice Committee -- she is a more lucid writer than Matt Yglesias, and her piece actually contains information.

Not important information, but still, better than Yglesias.

By the way...

The precocious inquiry yielded a series of communications between Ayres-Brown and the fast-food chain. It also led to some serious data collecting by the girl and her dad Ian Ayres — who is, unsurprisingly, a heavy-hitting Yale law professor and economist who has previously collaborated with his daughter on research — about McDonald’s employees and the Happy Meal gender bias.

Sounds like maybe someone is acting Paternalistically in helping someone get their Ivy League application essay together.

Yay feminism, I guess...?

Posted by Ace at 05:10 PM Comments

Incredible: Group Objects to Mentioning "Islam" or "Jihad" in Film Explaining 9/11 To Be Shown at the 9/11 Museum

—Ace

The future belongs to those who control the past.

AllahPundit doesn't think this group will win out in its Outrage Trolling Initiative. Too many leftists in good standing would have to own up to their own Politically Incorrect mentions of Islam and Jihad in connection to 9/11 were this to become the New Stupid Standard of Socially-Approved Ignorance.

In fact, Brian Williams, face of the Democratic Communications Unit called "NBC Nightly News," narrates the film and speaks the Forbidden Words himself.

I think this is more serious than he does, maybe.

The other day I was talking about the claim often made about Social Censorship -- that it's only "censorship" if the government does it.

Well, that's not true. It's true that the First Amendment only restrains the government, but the spirit of the First Amendment could and should restrain everyone.

Whenever someone wants to use social or economic coercion to shut someone up -- defeating them not with better ideas, but better political mobilization and better utilization of levers of coercion -- they should ask if they're acting as friends or enemies of free expression.

But that wasn't my point. My point is that politics is just downstream of culture.

And if the culture supports punishing people like Brendan Eich for committing a Thoughtcrime, then it will not be terribly long until our government does as well.

If the public demands censorship by mob justice, the government -- which is not a principled institution, but a favor-for-favor system of legal quid pro quos -- will eventually see the benefit of censorship by mob as well.

Which is why I find this current folly more worrisome than AllahPundit. He may be right that this attempt at rewriting history For Social Justice will fail, as it's simply too ludicrous to win the day.

But even if it doesn't win the day, it is apparently now a proposition that People Must Take Seriously.

People are not expected, I guess, to seriously entertain the proposition that the government should rewrite history in response to a particular pressure-constituency's demands that history be rewritten.

Perhaps history won't be rewritten here.

But how scary is it that we'll take a vote on it, and that vote will probably be pretty close?

A people gets the government they deserve. And as the American people become stupider, more juvenile, more mob-like, and more hostile to not just free thought but virtually any sort of thought at all, we will, ultimately, get just the sort of government a Majority of Imbeciles and Lunatics demand.

Counterpoint:

I don't see how Muslims could have pulled off a controlled demolition like that in addition to controlling the video feeds news services were using to make it appear the targets were hit by planes.

Sounds like the museum is in the wrong here.

Dr. Spank is available to speak at college graduation ceremonies and also lunatic asylum orientation days.


Indeed: Copybook Wabblings Redux says--

Unfortunately, fire really can’t burn stupid.
Posted by Ace at 03:39 PM Comments

Man Reveals Secret of Success: Do Nothing But Drink, Party, and Bicep Curls, Then Get Into a Pointless Barfight Where You're Conked on the Head From Behind, and You Too May Become a Mathematical Intuitive Genius

—Ace

So, supposedly, this guy is one of only 40 -- forty! -- people in the entire world with "acquired savant syndrome," in which one suddenly gains a savant-like effortless, innate skill at art, math, or science after an brain injury or brain disease.

He became a mathematical savant -- after previously showing no talent or interest in any higher-thinking pursuit -- after suffering a "profound concussion" in a barfight.

“If it could happen to me, it could happen to anyone," he says in his new book, thus promising readers a surefire pathway to success -- careless living and drunken brawls.

So guys, go out there, get a load on, start throwing elbows and ethnic slurs, and maybe change the world.

And bring your protractor and compass -- you might need them later.

Padgett’s world is bursting with mathematical patterns. He is one of a few people in the world who can draw approximations of fractals, the repeating geometric patterns that are building blocks of everything in the known universe, by hand. Tree leaves outside his window are evidence of Pythagoras’ theorem. The arc that light makes when it bounces off his car proves the power of pi.

He sees the parts that make up the whole. And his world is never boring, never without amazement. Even his dreams are made up of geometry.

...

Flash back 12 years: Padgett had dropped out of Tacoma (Wash.) Community College, and was a self-described “goof” with zero interest in academics, let alone math. The only time he dealt in numbers was to track the hours until his shift ended at his father’s furniture store, tally up his bar tab, or count bicep curls at the gym.
With his mullet, leather vest open to a bare chest, and skintight pants, he was more like a high-school student stuck in the 1980s — even though it was 2002, and he was a 31-year-old with a daughter.

He would race his buddies in a freshly painted red Camaro. His life was one adrenaline rush after another: cliff-jumping, sky-diving, bar-hopping. He was the “life of the party.” The guy who would funnel a beer before going out and would slip a bottle of Southern Comfort in his jacket pocket to avoid paying $6 for mixed drinks.

...

Party time came to end the night of Friday, Sept. 13, 2002, at a karaoke bar near his home. There, two men attacked him from behind, punching him in the back of the head, knocking him unconscious.

...

The next morning, while running the water in the bathroom, he noticed “lines emanating out perpendicularly from the flow. At first, I was startled, and worried for myself, but it was so beautiful that I just stood in my slippers and stared.”

...

Days went by, but the visuals remained.

...

During one of his meditations, he came to the conclusion that “circles don’t exist.”

“It was like a bomb went off in my mind. In a matter of minutes, I was no longer just a receiver of geometric imagery or a researcher; I was a theorist,” he writes.

It's pretty neat, and while I've excerpted quite a bit, there's more of his story -- essentially a superhero story, when you think about it, as he acquires Strange New Powers without any satisfying rational explanation for it -- at the link.

You should know that he wasn't entirely unprepared for sudden genius. He had always scored high on IQ tests, though he never had any interest in academics or doing much besides getting his liquor on and getting his weenie squeezed.

So, you know: A hero for us all.

When they make the movie, "Circles don't exist, baby," will be his pick-up line.

Continue reading


Posted by Ace at 02:17 PM Comments

Ride-Along News and the Drive-By Media

—Ace

Here's the insidious thing about the "Girls Make Less in Allowance Than Boys, #WarOnWomen" story and others like it.

When the media has decided something is Big News, they do a series of related (or barely-related) stories about it. The Media has obviously decided that the #WarOnWomen #FightPayInequality hashtags are Big News (because Obama told them they were).

I'll call these sorts of stories "Ride-Along News." These stories would not be reported, except that they are riding along with a bigger story.

In most cases they're either not stories at all, or they are microstories.

The purpose of these Ride-Along Stories is simply to keep the Big Story, vaguely, in the news, by frequently mentioning the basic theme of it in other contexts. You can't report on the #WarOnWomen #FightPayInequality hashtags when there's no new news; these sorts of Ride-Along micro-stories allow the media to indulge its biases and continue hitting the same themes and pushing the same political line without the effort of actually doing any new reporting on the actual story itself.

And of course which stories get selected for this Ride-Along coverage is shot through with ideological bias and, increasingly, simple partisan bias. The Democrats have decided the #WarOnWomen is one of the few cards they can play this election cycle; the media eagerly snaps to attention, understanding that Orders Have Been Given, and begins looking around for micro-stories to reinforce and propagate the Democrats' fall campaign themes.

Obviously, the media could choose to do Ride-Along reportage of stories that the Republicans are pushing. They could report on the continuing grim state of the economy; they could report on the economy as they would were it the responsibility of a Republican president, offering up heartbreaking slice-of-life stories about individual victims of the Great Recession.

Given that Clive Bundy is in the news, they could do a series of reports on federal land management, and how much land is under federal control, and the tensions this creates with locals, and so on.

Given that GM, while under the ownership of the Obama White House, pumped out a series of defective cars and concealed these defects from the public, the media could have done a series of Ride-Along stories about previous "government-private" partnerships -- like Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Solyndra -- and reported on how all of those worked out for the taxpaying citizen.

But they don't, of course.

The media's idea of "neutrality" is to cover both parties' stated lines, briefly (though with Democrats' lines getting the majority of coverage).

And then they fill up the news with Ride-Along stories reinforcing the Democrats' favored campaign themes, with no coverage at all -- no oxygen, no human interest, no Weird and Wacky stories -- for Republican themes.

Matt Lauer and Natalie Morales will swear on a stack of Bibles that it Just So Happens that this #WarOnGirlsAllowances just happened to become news at the same moment the president was pushing his #WarOnWomensPay campaign theme.

Of course, that's a lie. They chose the story -- a micro-story which isn't even a story; it's a poll by someone we never heard of before ("Junior Achievement"?), typed up by the leftwing Think Progress blog -- because it reinforces their political agenda.

Natalie Morales confesses exactly that in the piece linked below: "So basically, girls are doing more for less. This sounds kind of familiar right?""

Note if they were just casting about for any story on #WarOnWomen, whether it reinforced Democrat campaign themes or undermined them, they could have discussed that much-more rigorous and serious news that even in Pay-Equity-Crazy Sweden, women still work fewer hours, and still work more frequently in part-time jobs, and still favor the occupations imposed on women by the Oppressive Male Patriarchy, the so-called "caring" professions.

That's also an important data point in this alleged American #WarOnWomen, no? That's almost as important on this single poll by "Junior Achievement" on children's allowances, no?

But of course they didn't do that. No, they chose the silly, Buzzfeed-y non-story that not only kept the #WarOnWomen meme in the public consciousness, but also furthered the Democrats' preferred political line on the #WarOnWomen.

That story didn't agree with their Democratic worldview. (Not liberal ideologically, mind you, but straight-up partisan Democratic.)

I guess it's not true that the media will never do Ride Along stories on Republican attack lines. If a Republican attack line becomes powerful, they will of course begin doing Ride-Along stories to undermine it, check it, and refute it.

I trust everyone remembers the gangbusters business the media did in the "Everyone Lies, At Least Sometimes" stories when it became obvious that Bill Clinton had perjured himself under oath and then directly wagged his finger at the American public.

I ask again rhetorically: For how much longer does the childish media insist on maintaining this risible fiction that they are not Democratic propagandists?

And how can it be that an institution allegedly concerned with "reporting the truth" places such a critical importance on an official corporate position requiring lying about their political agenda?


From the Junior Achievement Website:

This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of Junior Achievement USA from February 12-24, 2014 among 1,234 youths ages 8-18. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

So it's not really a poll.

Gee, I guess Think Progress just forgot to report that, and NBC forgot to look into it.

But this story achieved its purpose: It got the #WarOnWomen story into the mainstream media another day.

It got into the mindspace of a few thousand low-information voters. This factoid will persist in their minds and influence their voting behavior.

That was Think Progress' goal, and that was NBC's goal.

Mission Accomplished.

thanks to @tsrblke.

Update: Commenters are telling me that Junior Achievement is an organization that sends corporate higher-ups to classrooms to, I guess, sell them on the idea of going into business, or excelling in whatever field they choose.

They say it's not partisan at all.

That may be true. And maybe they just did this non-poll as a fun-fact sort of thing.

But the Left has its paid professional meme generators at Think Progress, and they of course promoted the poll, and then NBC -- with apparently no fact-checking whatsoever -- put the Ride-Along News-Like Substitute on the airwaves a single day later.

The transmission from hard-left-wing/paid professional partisan propaganda outfit to the "mainstream" NBC took exactly 24 hours.

As Natalie Morales might say: "That sounds kind of familiar, right?"

Posted by Ace at 01:23 PM Comments

#WarOnWomen: NBC Now Claims That "Pay Gap" Even Extends to Girls' Allowances

—Ace

Shockingly enough, this microaggression started out on the leftwing blog Think Progress and made it to NBC's airwaves in nothing flat.

A day after the liberal website Think Progress wrote a piece complaining “There’s Even A Gender Gap In Children’s Allowances” the folks over at NBC rushed to tie the issue to the “pay gap” between men and women.

On Thursday, April 24, Today show co-host Matt Lauer hyped “We all know about a pay gap that exists for adult men and women in the work world, but there are surprising new numbers this morning revealing that that gap actually begins during childhood with the allowances we pay our kids. In a new survey, 70% of boys say they get an allowance. That’s compared to just 60% of girls.”


Co-host Natalie Morales expressed shock at the so-called “pay gap” exists among children and complained “It’s true. Even though another study finds that girls spend more time doing chores. So basically, girls are doing more for less. This sounds kind of familiar right?"

This is based on a single survey by a group called "Junior Achievement."

By the way, NBC can't accurately report the numbers of this silly single poll. 59% of girls say they get an allowance, and 67% of boys. The differential (according to this silly poll) is 8%, not 10%, as they claim.

Shouldn't they sort of get simple numbers right?

Meanwhile, not only has socialist Sweden joined the #WarOnWomen, but they've been fighting it for years.

Consider Sweden, a country where the goal of gender parity is close to a national religion...

The results are not what anyone could call revolutionary.... [T]he difference in labor force participation is not dramatic, and in most respects, Swedish women behave much as sisters do in the U.S.

Like Americans, Swedish women work substantially fewer hours than men; they are 2 times as likely to be part timers. They are the vast majority of social workers, teachers, and child care workers and a small minority of scientists (PDF) and CEO’s (PDF). In fact, Sweden’s labor market is among the most sex segregated (PDF) in the world and their wage gap shows it. Mothers take in only about 20% as men, much the same as in the United States.

The results in other countries committed to gender role busting are much the same. Iceland has been crowned the most gender equal country in the world by the World Economic Forum (PDF) every year since 2009. They provide many of the same supports as Sweden. So does Norway, third on the WEF list and famous as the first country to institute a 40% female quota in corporate boardrooms. Women in both countries are well represented in parliament—about 40%. Yet the ladies still work fewer hours than their male counterparts and they are two times as likely to be part timers. They remain segregated in more traditionally “female” occupations. Their mommy wage gap? About the same as Sweden and the U.S.

Posted by Ace at 12:37 PM Comments

We Are All In The "Let It Burn" Camp

—DrewM.

We got an interesting question for the mailbag this week that I'm going to steal for this post. I'm not entirely sure it's theft since it was directed to me and I may not make this week's recording so I'll give it a go here.

For Drew: When are you going to go join Red State w/ the let-it-burn crowd?-Jumble

First, thanks for writing in Jumble.

Second, there's no need to leave for Red State or anywhere else to join the "Let-it-burn crowd" because it's everywhere.

Note the actual phrase begins with "let". It's a passive word. No one is saying "Start a fire and burn it down". It is burning already.

Out of control entitlement spending, zero political will to control discretionary spending and an unchecked debt is the fuel that is feeding this fire.

You want to know who is actively fanning the flames of this fire? Mainstream Republican candidates and office holders, not tea party fanatics or people who simply have lost interest in trying to stop the conflagration.

In fact, it's these "grown ups" who are so darn "electable" that are actively doing something....putting more fuel on the fire.

The Budget Control Act which led to the sequester was imperfect to say the least but it actually worked to cut spending. Who forced the Republicans to give that up and hike spending again? It wasn't the so-called "let it burn crowd". Nope, it was the mainstream of the Republican party.

Was it the so-called "let it burn crowd" that forced the GOP to cut a deal with Maxine Waters to give back modest but real reforms and cuts to the national flood insurance program? Nope. That was the House GOP leadership going around conservatives.

Was it the so-called "let it burn crowd" who resorting to anti-democratic means on the floor of the House to increase Medicare spending? Again, no.

Obviously I could go on and on with examples of this but I think we all agree we're in a mess that predates the "tea party" or "let it burn".

I know there are people who think if you vote for enough Republicans things will get better because, um, er, the Democrats are worse! A vote for more "mainstream" Republicans isn't a vote against the "let it burn crowd" it's a vote to control how much faster you want it to burn.

Until people realize that with the GOP as presently constituted stopping the increase in the rate of burning, let alone putting the fire out isn't on the menu and nothing will change.

So don't look at those of us who have washed our hands of this mess as the ones unwilling to stop the burning. We tried and were told to shut up. You guys who insist on voting for the GOP which will add more fuel to the fire are the ones who are grunting "fire good!", not us.


Added: An enlightening but wrong view from a commenter.

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Posted by DrewM. at 11:02 AM Comments

Top Headline Comments (4-24-2014)

—Andy

Gasp! We'll have no grabass in the ready room, gentlemen.

A former commanding officer of the famed Blue Angels aerial demonstration team was relieved of duty amid allegations of "lewd speech, inappropriate comments, and sexually explicit humor" and pornography, the Navy said Wednesday.

...

McWherter allowed "and in some cases encouraged" the sexually inappropriate misconduct in the workplace, according to Wednesday's statement.

I, for one, am shocked to find such conduct in the Navy.

In similarly shocking news, the New York Yankees cheat.


AoSHQ Weekly Podcast rss.png itunes_modern.png | Stream | Download | Ask The Blog | Archives

Posted by Andy at 07:27 AM Comments

Overnight Open Thread (4-23-2014)

—Maetenloch

Because I'm kinda tired and sick tonight. And because sometimes words suck.

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Posted by Maetenloch at 09:50 PM Comments

Elizabeth Warren's New Book Rehashes Her Past Vague Claims About Her Alleged Native American Ethnicity, But Fails to Address Any of the Important Questions Asked of Her

—Ace

Good recap at US News & World report.

First, what’s perhaps most notable about Warren’s book is that she even includes a section called “Native American,” in which she reportedly writes, “Everyone on our mother’s side — aunts, uncles, and grandparents — talked openly about their Native American ancestry. My brothers and I grew up on stories about our grandfather building one-room schoolhouses and about our grandparents’ courtship and their early lives together in Indian Territory.”

This is ironic because, until the Boston Herald first broke the news in April 2012 that Harvard Law School had repeatedly promoted Warren as a Native American faculty member, Warren never once mentioned these stories of her upbringing in a single press interview, speech, class lecture or testimony at any point, ever, in her decades-long career. What's more, Warren was not listed as a minority on her transcript from George Washington University where she began her undergraduate education, nor did she list herself as a minority when applying to Rutgers University Law School in 1973.

In fact, it was not until she was in her 30s and focused on climbing the highly competitive ladder of law school academia that Warren apparently rediscovered her Native American heritage. It’s important to note that entrance and advancement in the law school profession is governed by the Association of American Law Schools, which requires registrants interested in teaching at law schools to fill out a questionnaire detailing their education, experience, bar passage and, yes, ethnicity. This information is then disseminated to law schools around the country that, as Warren surely knew, are always on the lookout to add to the diversity of their faculty.

A copy of Warren's questionnaire currently resides in the Association of American Law Schools archives at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. However, only Warren herself has the authority to release the complete copy of her questionnaire and to date, she has refused to do so.

Her opposition to such transparency can perhaps be understood in the documented fact that in the years thereafter, starting in 1986, Warren began self-reporting herself as a "minority professor" in the Association of American Law Schools staff directory that lists all law school professors around the country. As the former association chairman told the Boston Herald, the directory once served a tip sheet for law school administrators, in the pre-Internet days, who were looking to identify and recruit minority professors.

Remarkably, Warren's explanation to the Boston Herald was that she listed herself as a minority in the hopes that she would be invited to a luncheon so she could meet "people who are like I am" and she stopped checking the box when that didn't happen. Perhaps it "didn't happen" because at no point, at any of the schools she attended or worked at, is there any evidence that Warren ever joined any Native American organizations on campus or in any way interacted with anyone in the Native American community.

The left's claims on this are, as usual, atrocious. They defend Warren (to the extent they'll even address the issue) by claiming that Warren honestly thought she was 1/64th (or was it 1/128th?) Cherokee.

But our "diversity" regime was not set up simply to act as a racial spoils system. The idea behind it is that minorities had themselves likely been harmed in some way by their race in the past -- whether victims of actual racism or not having many advantages in life due to, for example, one's great-great-grandparents being slaves and therefore having started out with almost no money whatsoever and sharply limited earning capacity.

For Elizabeth Warren to Play Indian when it suited her purposes is disgustingly self-serving. She is obviously one of two things:

100% White,

or, by her claim, merely 99.2% white.

Either way, she is White, and her parents were White, and her grandparents were White, and even her great-grandparents were White. I think you have to go to her great-great-grandparents before you find the one (1!) nonwhite contributor to her racial legacy.

In no way has Elizabeth Warren ever suffered the sting of racial animus from White People due her race (which is White), nor have missed out on job opportunities due to her race (which is White), nor does her family start out in a Racial Ditch due to discrimination against its race (which, in case I didn't mention this, is White).

Elizabeth Warren took advantage of racial set-aside employment opportunities for disadvantaged minorities despite never for one second in her entire life being disadvantaged by her race (which is White).

Has she ever been a victim of racism? How would a racist even know to discriminate against her, unless she busted out her "family lore" and showed pictures of her grandmother with her "high cheekbones" and convinced the skeptical racist that she was anything other than a White Person In Good Standing?

Her one "story" (I love how all of this is about "stories" and "feelings" and "narratives") of discrimination is her claim that her great-great-great-grandparents had to elope due to the extreme racial hostility her distant ancestor once allegedly experienced.

And yet those same great-great-great-grandparents had their wedding party right in their home town.

I guess somehow the town got over its extreme hatred of mixed Indian marriages in the few hours between the ceremony and the party.

She could disprove that she took advantages of programs designed to help minorities who are identifiable as such -- you know, people you could actually discriminate against based on appearance because they're, unlike Elizabeth Warren, not Completely, Blindingly, Albino's-Ass-in-Winter White -- but of course she refuses to release her "personal records."

No, she won't release the facts to you.

But she will keep offering up her "stories."

Posted by Ace at 07:51 PM Comments

Jeb Bush Says He's Thinking About Running for President

—Ace

I haven't seen this much buzz and hype about a product America had no particular desire for since Cop Rock.

But, as Steve Jobs said, how does the customer even know what he wants? I guess that's the theory of a Jeb Bush bid.

From Politico, via @drewmtips:

Jeb Bush on Wednesday was the most vocal he’s been about considering a run for the White House in 2016.

The Republican told a crowd of about 200 people at a Catholic Charities fundraiser in New York that he is “thinking about running for president,” according to an attendee.

The response came to one of the first questions posed to Bush at the Union League luncheon. After his answer, the room went wild, and then someone [who I will speculate is Jen Rubin-- ace] said they hoped he would take the step.

I don't get this, I just don't. Larry Kudlow was ecstatic.

Bush was praised by Kudlow for his focus on immigration reform and urged not to back down.

“Why would I back down from it? It’s the right thing to do…we’ve got to be an inclusive party,” Bush said, according to the attendee.

On his support of Common Core educational standards, Bush noted, “I’m getting hit from both sides on this one.”

I dunno. Jeb seems to be one of those politicians who has a set of ideas he's not willing to compromise with the base on, nor is he willing to make basic efforts at persuading him of his ideas. "Act of Love" isn't persuasion. It's a very weak effort at emotional shaming, which is (rightly) perceived as a hostile form of communication.

So this is what the Establishment has cooking, huh?

Meanwhile, Rand Paul states the obvious -- the law on abortion won't be changed until the public's consensus opinion on abortion has changed -- but that sort of concession probably won't be well-received by those for whom the pro-life cause is of paramount importance.

This sort of "Pro-Choice in my heart but not as a practical governing platform" may read as centrist to some, and will gain some votes and lose others.

AllahPundit notes Paul has similarly made centrist noises on gay marriage...

[Q:] Right. But it seems what they’re saying is that the Republican Party should stay out of issues like gay marriage.

[A:] I think that the Republican Party, in order to get bigger, will have to agree to disagree on social issues. The Republican Party is not going to give up on having quite a few people who do believe in traditional marriage. But the Republican Party also has to find a place for young people and others who don’t want to be festooned by those issues.

This may be a good thing, and this may be a bad thing: But the Republican Party is currently so divided on so many things I'm not really sure what the Republican Party is any more.

That isn't necessarily bad. Maybe it's a sign of openness and adaptability.

But all of my instincts are in favor of someone that "unites the base," and I'm not sure who the hell can even do that any longer.

Is such a thing possible?

Maybe my basic notion that we need a candidate who "unites the base" (and hence papers over deep philosophical differences) is just wrong, and such a thing is impossible, and we actually cannot avoid an actual intramural war to decide what this party actually is. Maybe we will have to have Losers and Winners.

Posted by Ace at 06:59 PM Comments

Stephen Colbert Appears On Letterman Promising To Continue Doing the Same Show Letterman Did, Awkward and Unfunny

—Ace

Yeah, guys, I dunno.

Is there any way we can get him to do a new "character" where he plays someone who's comfortable on camera and occasionally funny?

By the way, I can't help but see the Corporate Messaging Strategy here. Colbert talks a lot about his family (and Dave obligingly asks about it), which is probably all with the design of "humanizing" the new expensive hire and making him palatable to viewers.

At 10:10, he reads the top ten list he and his writing partner submitted when they applied to be writers on the show 17 years ago.

Yeah, it's not good. When he realizes it's bombing, he says "17 years ago," to remind people it's dated comedy, as if America has made quantum leaps since then in the technology of the Top Ten List.

Continue reading


Posted by Ace at 05:28 PM Comments

What Does the Allegedly Neutral and/or "Moderate" Media's Embrace of the Hard-Left Marxist Theories of Piketty Tell Us About Their True Politics?

—Ace

I see a lot of hands shooting up quickly.

Yeah, I know, it's kind of obvious.

As I write this, Thomas Piketty’s book “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” is #1 on Amazon....

The book, as you probably know, has also sparked nonstop conversation in political and media circles. Though it’s best to let economists debunk Piketty’s methodology and data, it is worth pointing out that liberal pundits and writers have not only enthusiastically and unconditionally embraced a book on economics, or even a run-of-the-mill leftist polemic, but a hard-left manifesto.

Now, I realize we’re all supposed to accept the fact that conservatives are alone in embracing fringe economic ideas. But how does a book that evokes Marx and talks about tweaking the Soviet experiment find so much love from people who consider themselves rational, evidence-driven moderates?

...

Piketty also advocates for a 60-percent tax rate on those making $200,000 and an additional worldwide tax on wealth...

Fact is, the tax hikes offered by even the most progressive elected Democrats wouldn’t alter the dynamics of “fairness” in a society with a $16 trillion GDP. To put it into perspective, ending Bush-era cuts may net the treasury $80 billion yearly. If Piketty’s clairvoyance is to be trusted, and I’m assured it can — we will need to transfer trillions of dollars from one class to another just save our society from disaster. And none of this, according to the author, will destroy economic growth.

...

[P]iketty’s utopian notions and authoritarian inclinations — ones that I’m pretty sure most Americans (and probably most Democrats) would still find off-putting — do not seem to rattle the left-wing press one bit....

So if his popularity tells us anything, it’s that many liberal “thought leaders” have taken a far more radical position on economic policy than we’re giving them credit for.

"We're not Marxists, and it is paranoid (and perhaps prosecutable) for you to call us Marxists," said the Marxist, then he went back to masturbating righteously over his Marxist manifesto.

Our politics is corrupted and retarded at every step by lies the dominant class requires us to tell.

And the Middle Class. Well, the Middle Class won't be helped by any of these schemes, of course.

Neither will the poor, for the matter.



I am not disputing that something unhappy is going on in the global economy. Nor am I disputing that this unhappiness is unequally distributed. But the proportion of this unhappiness due to income inequality is actually relatively small -- and moreover, concentrated not among the poor, but among the upper middle class, which competes with the very rich for status goods and elite opportunities.

If we look at the middle three quintiles, very few of their worst problems come from the gap between their income and the incomes of some random Facebook squillionaire. Here, in a nutshell, are their biggest problems:

Finding a job that allows them to work at least 40 hours a week on a relatively consistent schedule and will not abruptly terminate them.

Finding a partner who is also able to work at least 40 hours a week on a relatively consistent schedule and will not be abruptly terminated.

Maintaining a satisfying relationship with that partner over a period of years.

Having children who are able to enjoy more stuff and economic security than they have.

Finding a community of friends, family and activities that will provide enjoyment and support over the decades.

This is where things are breaking down -- where things have actually, and fairly indisputably, gotten worse since the 1970s. Crime is better, lifespans are longer, our material conditions have greatly improved -- yes, even among the lower middle class. What hasn’t improved is the sense that you can plan for a decent life filled with love and joy and friendship, then send your children on to a life at least as secure and well-provisioned as your own.

...

I suspect that Piketty’s plan would actually work best for the pretty well off. It would knock the consumption of the ultrawealthy down to the consumption of a professional near the top of his field, who earns a large income but has comparatively little wealth. Because those people are being priced out of top schools and delightful real estate by people who can afford to have a nice apartment in five different world cities, they would strongly benefit from this plan.


This is an interesting idea I've written about before: That the "solutions" proposed by wealthy-but-not-actually-rich "mindworkers" of the upper-middle to middle-upper classes are not for the benefit of the lower classes, but for themselves.

We talked about this on the podcast with Matthew Continetti -- there is a class struggle going on here, to be sure, but the class struggle is between the upper-middle-to-middle-upper income levels against the upper-upper income levels.

Those in the mere middle-upper-to-upper-middle income ranges feel a bit down because they're being outpaced by their competitors -- the upper-uppers -- and so propose laws to take away the upper-uppers' income advantage.

Someone observed -- wryly but accurately --that the media/academic class thinks the highest income one should be able to earn just so happens to coincide with their maximum yearly salary at their job, in their industry.

If they could earn $300,000 per year, why then $300,001 per year constitutes the threshhold at which we must begin confiscating estates.

Tom Brokaw probably earned, who knows, $2 million per year. So what's his idea of the ultra-rich, the filthy rich the grand rentiers? Why $2 million and one dollars per year.

This is a squabble between the Marxist members of one pampered class which looks longingly at all the Stuff possessed by a somewhat more pampered class.

Posted by Ace at 04:12 PM Comments

Supreme Court Hears Case on Government Asserting Power to Decide What the Political Truth Is, and There's Nothing At All Scary About That

—Ace

Maybe one of the most important cases in a long time.

Rep. Steve Driehaus voted for Obamacare. The Susan B. Anthony List wanted to put up billboards that said, “Shame on Steve Driehaus! Driehaus voted FOR taxpayer-funded abortion," and ran a similar radio campaign.

The billboard was never put up, because Dreihaus had threatened to sue -- not the SBA List, but the company managing the billboard.

Dreihaus claimed the message was false, and Ohio forbids "false" claims about a politicians' voting record.

The Ohio Elections Commission found, in a preliminary vote, that the message was indeed "false," but ultimately a full prosecution never went forward, because Dreihaus was defeated for reelection and the point became moot.

Note that Dreihaus claims that this message was "false" because he claimed refuge in Obama's completely-fake claim that Obamacare would not mandate abortion coverage by employers who were conscious objectors to the practice.

We now know that Dreihaus' claim was in fact the false one -- Obama's alleged guarantee on this score was worth as much as his claim that if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.

And yet here was -- is -- a government organization purporting to declare the truth to be false and a falsehood to be true, chilling citizens' right to speak the truth.

A federal judge dismissed the case in such a way that made it impossible, essentially, to challenge Ohio's law in advance of an actual prosecution. Apparently they didn't consider that threats of prosecution have a chilling effect, and that the factual record in this case includes, in fact, a real case of a citizen censoring himself for fear of prosecuction.

Consider, for a moment, how dangerous this is. In this case, you have Dreihaus making a claim which is supported by the government -- a claim which is false. And you have citizens making a claim which is disfavored by the government -- their claim being true.

Dreihaus wished to rely on the president's promise that Obamacare would never be interpreted this way; SBA List looked at these same facts and came to a contrary conclusion -- that Dreihaus was, no matter what he or Obama claimed, actually voting for the proposition that the government should mandate that employers provide birth control coverage to employees (and some of those can be characterized as abortifacients) and even coverage for abortion, no matter what the employers' honestly-felt religious or philosophical beliefs on the matter.

Dreihaus had the whole of the government on his side, and surely, a majority of the government bureaucracy, which we are lately discovering to our chagrin has its own political agenda and is not shy about promoting that agenda in their day-jobs.

But government wishes the power to say what is true and what is false -- even on hotly disputed points, where people are arguing, basically, whether a promise will be observed in the future. Something that can't actually be determined in the present.

And, as events would have it, it turned out the SBA was right.

But the fact that the SBA was right shouldn't control the issue here. Rather, it should illustrate how dangerous it is to have agents of the government deciding what is True and what is False on behalf of citizens, with prosecutions and other legal consequences flowing from their decisions.

George Will discusses the case here.

Driehaus says insurance companies must collect a “separate payment” from enrollees and segregate this money from federal funds. The SBA List says money is fungible, so this accounting sleight-of-hand changes nothing.

Yes, and they're right.

...


The Ohio Elections Commission has pondered the truth or falsity of saying that a school board “turned control of the district over to the union,” and that a city councilor had “a habit of telling voters one thing, then doing another.” Fortunately, the Supreme Court, citing George Orwell’s 1984, has held that even false statements receive First Amendment protection: “Our constitutional tradition stands against the idea that we need Oceania’s Ministry of Truth.”

This case, which comes from Cincinnati, where the regional IRS office was especially active in suppressing the political speech of conservative groups, involves the intersection of two ominous developments. One is the inevitable, and inevitably abrasive, government intrusions into sensitive moral issues that come with government’s comprehensive and minute regulation of health care with taxes, mandates, and other coercions. The Supreme Court will soon rule on one such controversy, the ACA requirement that employer-provided health-care plans must cover the cost of abortifacients. The other development is government’s growing attempts to regulate political speech, as illustrated by the Obama administration’s unapologetic politicization of the IRS to target conservative groups.

These developments are not coincidental. Government’s increasing reach and pretensions necessarily become increasingly indiscriminate.

There's a politico-economic theory with a very anodyne name that greatly undersells the theory itself: Public choice theory.

The standard way of thinking about political outcomes before public choice theory was to imagine the government as a disinterested referee, a neutral judge, hearing this or that claim from this or that constituency.

Public Choice Theory posits instead that the government itself -- its bureaucrats, its politicians -- is in fact an interested party with its own economic and political agenda for the country, and makes decisions on that basis, just like anyone else.

This is certainly the correct theory of government behavior.

What the hell is the government doing claiming to have the power to use force and deprivation of liberty in deciding political disputes in which the government itself has an unacknowledged selfish interest ?

It's critical that this ugly law be voided as unconstitutional. Otherwise, the progressives have their foot in the door for deciding what is True on behalf of the country, with prosecutors and cops and wardens as their enforcement agents.

Posted by Ace at 02:28 PM Comments

Camille Paglia: Get Rid of the National Drinking Age

—Ace

I guess so.

This is one of those things that a lot of people oppose -- whether because of the affront to federalism, or the juvenilzation of adults, or on basic liberty grounds -- but such people suspect there is too strong a lobby for the other side, or, maybe, too much inertia about it, and so while people may agree this is kinda bullshit, they won't actually take any action to change it.

Paglia makes most of her case on culture -- that drinking is part of it.

Learning how to drink responsibly is a basic lesson in growing up — as it is in wine-drinking France or in Germany, with its family-oriented beer gardens and festivals. Wine was built into my own Italian-American upbringing, where children were given sips of my grandfather’s home-made wine. This civilized practice descends from antiquity. Beer was a nourishing food in Egypt and Mesopotamia, and wine was identified with the life force in Greece and Rome: In vino veritas (in wine, truth). Wine as a sacred symbol of unity and regeneration remains in the Christian Communion service. Virginia Woolf wrote that wine with a fine meal lights a “subtle and subterranean glow, which is the rich yellow flame of rational intercourse.”

What this cruel 1984 law did is deprive young people of safe spaces where they could happily drink cheap beer, socialize, chat, and flirt in a free but controlled public environment. Hence in the 1980s we immediately got the scourge of crude binge drinking at campus fraternity keg parties, cut off from the adult world. Women in that boorish free-for-all were suddenly fighting off date rape. Club drugs — Ecstasy, methamphetamine, ketamine (a veterinary tranquilizer) — surged at raves for teenagers and on the gay male circuit scene.

...

As a libertarian, I support the decriminalization of marijuana, but there are many problems with pot. From my observation, pot may be great for jazz musicians and Beat poets, but it saps energy and will-power and can produce physiological feminization in men.

I like her point that there are limits to the degree can actually control what it deems "Bad Behavior." Forbid 18 year olds from drinking, and they'll turn to more easily portable, more easily concealable mind-altering substances like pot, pills, or worse.

Posted by Ace at 01:44 PM Comments

Report: Al Qaeda Affiliated Terrorist Now Running US Training Base In Libya

—DrewM.

Smart power!

In the summer of 2012, American Green Berets began refurbishing a Libyan military base 27 kilometers west of Tripoli in order to hone the skills of Libya’s first Western-trained special operations counter-terrorism fighters. Less than two years later, that training camp is now being used by groups with direct links to al Qaeda to foment chaos in post-Qaddafi Libya.

Last week, the Libyan press reported that the camp (named “27” for the kilometer marker on the road between Tripoli and Tunis) was now under the command of Ibrahim Ali Abu Bakr Tantoush, a veteran associate of Osama bin Laden who was first designated as part of al Qaeda’s support network in 2002 by the United States and the United Nations. The report said he was heading a group of Salifist fighters from the former Libyan base.

That probably wasn't the original plan, huh?

This is why I'm so down on the interventionist wing of the GOP. They never seem to think through what happens after they get what they want. We simply don't understand enough about the internal realities of these countries, especially the ethnic and tribal relationships and loyalties (remember the State Department was counting on local militias to help protect the Benghazi compound? And how did that work out?).

It's this bomb first, "figure out what comes next....never" attitude that had me down on Syria. I'm not saying there's never a time for the US to use military power, I'm saying let's not pretend the domestic fissures of other countries are always solvable or even improved by the application of American firepower.

I admit non-action can carry as much risk as action in the long run but a little humility about lessons learned in the last decade or so seems to be in order.

By the way, speaking of Syria....

Secretary of State John Kerry touted on Tuesday the fact that Syria had given up almost all its declared chemical weapons and would finish the process by the end-of-April deadline.

“We now have the majority percentage of chemical weapons moved out of Syria, and we’re moving on schedule to try to complete that task,” he said at a State Department event.

But events in Syria paint a more complicated picture of Assad’s continued ability to kill civilians with chemical weapons.

Earlier this month, the Assad regime allegedly used chlorine gas — a weapon Syria is not required to relinquish — against civilians in the town of Kafr Zita, causing victims to suffocate, choke, vomit, foam at the mouth and develop hypertension, according to a letter from the head of the Syrian Coalition, a Western-approved opposition group, to the United Nations Security Council.

Oops.

It's almost as if when faced with existential threats to their regimes and their own lives, ruthless dictators will do whatever it takes to win and international agreements be damned.

The only way you are going to get Assad to stop using chemical weapons or killing people is to topple his regime. And if you topple his regime, well, see the story above about Libya.

There are no good answers in these hellholes. We should ruthlessly pursue our interests and security and that means keeping them fighting as long as possible.

Posted by DrewM. at 11:35 AM Comments

Braying Jackasses Open Thread - [Niedermeyer's Dead Horse]

—Open Blogger

A concise portrait of every debate you've ever held with a Liberal.



Facts do not persuade.

Posted by Open Blogger at 10:58 AM Comments

Top Headline Comments 4-23-14

—Gabriel Malor

Happy Wednesday.

Wow, I don't think anyone expected Vox to be quite so unprofessional. Partisan, yes, but even partisan hacks on the left like to preserve their illusions of professionalism.

Here's a good recap of the Supreme Court action yesterday in the political campaign false statements case. "A serious First Amendment concern with a state law that requires you to come before a commission to justify what you are going to say," said Justice Kennedy.

Oh, and the self-proclaimed "perfect affirmative action baby" on the high court wrote a strident dissent in the college affirmative action case in which she equated supporters of ending racial preferences in college admissions with supporters of Jim Crow. She also attacked the Chief Justice for his 2007 statement "The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race." In response, he chides her: "People can disagree in good faith on this issue, but it similarly does more harm than good to question the openness and candor of those on either side of the debate."

Prominent same-sex marriage advocates sign open letter rejecting the mob-mindedness that claimed Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich.


AoSHQ Weekly Podcast rss.png itunes_modern.png | Stream | Download | Ask The Blog | Archives

Posted by Gabriel Malor at 06:50 AM Comments

Overnight Open Thread (4-22-2014)

—Maetenloch

Mark Steyn: Happy Erf Day

burntire223

Yuval Levin on Confirmation Bias and Human Nature

A longish but worthwhile read.

American progressives have long contended that as social science enables us to overcome some of the limits of what we know, it should also be permitted to overcome the constitutional limits on what government may do. They take themselves to be an exception to the rule that all parties see only parts of the whole, and therefore an exception also to the ubiquity of confirmation bias, and so they demand an exception to the rule that no party should have too much raw power.

...But understanding human limitations does not mean we can overcome them. It only means we can't pretend they don't exist. It should point us toward humility, not hubris. And in politics and policy, understanding the limitation that Klein highlights should point us away from technocratic overconfidence and toward an idea of a government that enables society to address its problems through incremental, local, trial-and-error learning processes rather than centrally managed wholesale transformations of large systems.

The New Progressive Aristocracy

At least the old aristocracy had actual titles and were bound by rules and legal obligations.

chelsea-clintonsddf

Continue reading


Posted by Maetenloch at 10:21 PM Comments

Open Thread

—rdbrewer

Posted by rdbrewer at 09:33 PM Comments

Environmental Weenies Slam EPA for Wasteful, Carbon-Producing Travel on Earth Day of All Days

—Ace

Even weenies can have a point on occasion.

The Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility says the greenhouse gases generated by EPA administrator Gina McCarthy's week-long, five-city tour will "far exceed" any concrete action on climate change from her travels.

...

Ruch noted that some events on McCarthy’s itinerary have questionable ties to promoting climate action, such as joining Energy Secretary Moniz to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at Tuesday's Red Sox vs. Yankees baseball game at Boston's Fenway Park.

Ruch said McCarthy is a frequent air traveler and has been criticized for commuting frequently back to her home in Boston. An agency official told The Daily Caller earlier this month that McCarthy sometimes drives home to Boston on the weekends, but the official did not specify how many times or the vehicle she uses.

Posted by Ace at 06:37 PM Comments

Income Instability: An Astonishing 12 Percent of All Americans Will Achieve At Least One Year of Earnings in the Top 1% in Their Lives

—Ace

The left likes talking about the "richest 1%" as if they are an easily-defined, permanently-existing superclass. They're not.

Professor Mark R. Rank of Washington University, co-author of Chasing the American Dream: Understanding What Shapes Our Fortunes, tells a different story in a review of his own and others’ research in last Sunday’s New York Times. Far from having the 21st-century equivalent of an Edwardian class system, the United States is characterized by a great deal of variation in income: More than half of all adult Americans will be at or near the poverty line at some point over the course of their lives; 73 percent will also find themselves in the top 20 percent, and 39 percent will make it into the top 5 percent for at least one year. Perhaps most remarkable, 12 percent of Americans will be in the top 1 percent for at least one year of their working lives.

The top 1 percent, as I have noted here before, is such an unstable group that it makes no sense to write, as so many progressives do, about what has happened to its income over the past ten year or twenty years, because it does not contain the same group of people from year to year. Citing tax scholar Robert Carroll’s examination of IRS records, Professor Rank notes that the turnover among the super-rich (the top 400 taxpayers in any given year) is 98 percent over a decade — that is, just 2 percent of that elusive group remain there for ten years in a row. Among those earning more than $1 million a year, most earned that much for only one year of the nine-year period studied, and only 6 percent earned that much for the entire period.

The New York Times article by Professor Rank was published this Sunday. In addition to the eye-popping stats recapitulated by Williamson, he notes

Yet while many Americans will experience some level of affluence during their lives, a much smaller percentage of them will do so for an extended period of time. Although 12 percent of the population will experience a year in which they find themselves in the top 1 percent of the income distribution, a mere 0.6 percent will do so in 10 consecutive years.

Note that's a little different from Williamson's "six percent" in all ten years, which was taken from a different study, and applies to millionaires. Rank's figure of 0.6 percent applies to the category of "top one percent," which is different from "millionaire."

Likewise, data analyzed by the I.R.S. showed similar findings with respect to the top 400 taxpayers between 1992 and 2009. While 73 percent of people who made the list did so once during this period, only 2 percent of them were on the list for 10 or more years. These analyses further demonstrate the sizable amount of turnover and movement within the top levels of the income distribution.

...

Ultimately, this information casts serious doubt on the notion of a rigid class structure in the United States based upon income. It suggests that the United States is indeed a land of opportunity, that the American dream is still possible — but that it is also a land of widespread poverty. And rather than being a place of static, income-based social tiers, America is a place where a large majority of people will experience either wealth or poverty — or both — during their lifetimes.

But, Income Inequality!

Posted by Ace at 05:31 PM Comments

Is Media Matters Helping "Produce" Stories for the Allegedly Mainstream Media?

—Ace

Sharyl Attkisson said that the "independent," non-partisan organization had helped "produce" stories for her, while at CBS, in the past -- but of course turned on her when she turned her investigative eye from George W. Bush to Barack H. Obama.

Media Matters issues a non-denial denial on this point -- they deny some things (which I'm not sure Attkisson even claimed) but not that they "help" to "produce" stories in the alleged mainstream media.

n the immediate wake of Attikson’s Sunday appearance, Media Matters elected only to respond to the assertion by Attkinson that she had been targeted by the organization:


Sharyl Attkisson is continuing a pattern of evidence-free speculation that started at the end of her tenure at CBS. We have never taken contributions to target her or any other reporter. Our decision to post any research on Attkisson is based only on her shoddy reporting.

Did Attkisson even make that claim in bold? I don't remember seeing it.

At any rate, while they deny something I'm not certain was even alleged, they fail to address whether this obviously-partisan organization is helping the networks with their narratives.

Yesterday, Media Matters doubled down on their repudiation of Attkisson’s suggestion they might have have targeted her, calling the claims “false.” Again, however, Media Matters failed to address the whole of Attkisson’s assertions.

In explaining away the targeting claims as baseless, Media Matters neglected to respond to the more subtle assertion by Attkisson that it worked with her, as she phrased it, “to help me produce my stories.”

I'm not sure if it's actually a big story that Media Matters "helps" reporters with their stories. Every advocacy organization under the sun does that.

But it Media Matters' refusal to even comment on this is interesting. Why the secrecy and evasiveness from an organization supposedly devoted to get the media to report the "real truth"?

Posted by Ace at 04:49 PM Comments

Shockingly, a Pro-Marxism Book by a Leftwing French Economist Has Taken America's Don't-Call-Them-Socialist Progressive Establishment By Storm

—Ace

I haven't read the book and don't plan to. I further don't believe I'd be able to critique it as I did-- while the book is written in layman's language, one would still need an advanced understanding of economics and statistical analysis to say it's right or wrong.

But it's a huge thing now, especially on the We're Not Socialists But Boy Do We Love Socialism left, so I thought I should at least post about it.

It's almost entirely about -- wait for it...! -- income inequality, and why that's bad, and why it will get worse unless we Do Something About It.

Robert J. Samuelson wrote about it, more or less approvingly, if a little skeptically in the end:

Piketty presents Scandinavian countries in the 1970s and ’80s as examples of “low inequality.” Still, the richest 10 percent commanded about 25 percent of national income and the poorest 50 percent got only 30 percent; the “middle class” — the 40 percent below the top 10 percent — received 45 percent of income. These days, the distribution in the United States is far more unequal. In 2010, the top 10 percent received about 50 percent of national income, and the bottom 50 percent got 20 percent; the middle 40 percent got 30 percent. European nations are typically in between, with the top 10 percent taking 35 percent of income.

What Piketty also shows is that in the last 30 years, inequality has exploded almost everywhere, especially in the United States and the United Kingdom. This finding disproves the so-called Kuznets Curve. In 1954, American economist Simon Kuznets (1901-85) argued that income inequality would fall as societies modernized. Workers would move from low-paid farm jobs to better-paid industrial jobs. Gaps would narrow.

This seemed to have happened in the United States. From the 1920s to the 1950s, the income share of the richest 10 percent fell from around 50 percent to about 35 percent. But now it’s rebounded to the late 1920s’ level. This stunning fact, published previously in academic journals, helped make inequality a big political issue.

Piketty's big suggestion (more about this later) is that we tax yearly incomes of $500,000 (or $1,000,000; I guess he isn't sure on the threshold) at an 80% rate, and tax accumulated wealth at similar rates.

He is ideologically opposed to gaining wealth by investment -- he uses the word "rentier" as a derogatory term for such people.

Though Piketty is an economist, his book is essentially a work of political science. He objects to extreme economic inequality because it offends democracy: Too much power is conferred on too few. His economic analysis sometimes seems skewed to fit his political agenda.

Sameulson quibbles with some of Piketty's claims, such as (wait for it...!) that confiscatory tax rates on high incomes and accumulated capital won't reduce growth rates, but, as you can see, he's largely impressed with the work.

Now for some people who aren't so impressed.

Clive Cook headlines "The Most Important Book Ever Is All Wrong."

It's hard to think of another book on economics published in the past several decades that's been praised as lavishly as Thomas Piketty's "Capital in the Twenty-First Century."

...

So what's the problem?

Quite a few things, but this to start with: There's a persistent tension between the limits of the data he presents and the grandiosity of the conclusions he draws. At times this borders on schizophrenia. In introducing each set of data, he's all caution and modesty, as he should be, because measurement problems arise at every stage. Almost in the next paragraph, he states a conclusion that goes beyond what the data would support even if it were unimpeachable.

This tendency is apparent all through the book, but most marked at the end, when he sums up his findings about "the central contradiction of capitalism":

The inequality r>g [the rate of return on capital is greater than the rate of economic growth] implies that wealth accumulated in the past grows more rapidly than output and wages. This inequality expresses a fundamental logical contradiction. The entrepreneur inevitably tends to become a rentier, more and more dominant over those who own nothing but their labor. Once constituted, capital reproduces itself faster than output increases. The past devours the future. The consequences for the long-term dynamics of the wealth distribution are potentially terrifying ...

Every claim in that dramatic summing up is either unsupported or contradicted by Piketty's own data and analysis. (I'm not counting the unintelligible. The past devours the future?)

Cook goes on to note that Piketty's own findings contradict his central hypothesis. Piketty argues that when r (rate of return on investment) is significantly higher than g (economic growth rate), it results in a sort of Climate Change-like feedback loop in which r grows more and more outsized compared to g. The system becomes unstable; more and more money flows to the "rentiers."

But that's not what his data shows, at least not in some very important cases:

The trouble is, he also shows that capital-to-output ratios in Britain and France in the 18th and 19th centuries, when r exceeded g by very wide margins, were stable, not rising inexorably.

Cook also notes what Samuelson did-- that this is more of a political tract than an economic text:

As I worked through the book, I became preoccupied with another gap: the one between the findings Piketty explains cautiously and statements such as, "The consequences for the long-term dynamics of the wealth distribution are potentially terrifying."

Piketty's terror at rising inequality is an important data point for the reader. It has perhaps influenced his judgment and his tendentious reading of his own evidence. It could also explain why the book has been greeted with such erotic intensity....

At the WSJ, Daniel Schuman focuses on that "80% tax rate" business.

He notes Piketty shares the idea with Barack Obama that confiscatory tax rates are not primarily about bringing in money to the state, but rather about simply destroying other people's wealth. For Justice, you understand.

A professor at the Paris School of Economics, Mr. Piketty believes that only the productivity of low-wage workers can be measured objectively. He posits that when a job is replicable, like an "assembly line worker or fast-food server," it is relatively easy to measure the value contributed by each worker. These workers are therefore entitled to what they earn. He finds the productivity of high-income earners harder to measure and believes their wages are in the end "largely arbitrary." They reflect an "ideological construct" more than merit.

...

While America's corporate executives are his special bête noire, Mr. Piketty is also deeply troubled by the tens of millions of working people—a group he disparagingly calls "petits rentiers"—whose income puts them nowhere near the "one percent" but who still have savings, retirement accounts and other assets. That this very large demographic group will get larger, grow wealthier and pass on assets via inheritance is "a fairly disturbing form of inequality." He laments that it is difficult to "correct" because it involves a broad segment of the population, not a small elite that is easily demonized.

But that won't stop them from trying.

So what is to be done? Mr. Piketty urges an 80% tax rate on incomes starting at "$500,000 or $1 million." This is not to raise money for education or to increase unemployment benefits. Quite the contrary, he does not expect such a tax to bring in much revenue, because its purpose is simply "to put an end to such incomes." It will also be necessary to impose a 50%-60% tax rate on incomes as low as $200,000 to develop "the meager US social state." There must be an annual wealth tax as high as 10% on the largest fortunes and a one-time assessment as high as 20% on much lower levels of existing wealth. He breezily assures us that none of this would reduce economic growth, productivity, entrepreneurship or innovation.

Schuman has a couple of funny barbs in there, like Piketty's use of Jane Austen's "Sense and Sensibility" as an economic text (proving something about the mad scramble to marry rich) and about his distinction between those who don't really earn their outsized fortunes -- CEO's -- and those who just might possibly actually earn their fortunes, such as entrepreneurs and, as luck would have it, academics who write best-selling Marxist economics texts.

Incidentally, and I'm sure this is entirely coincidental, but as socialism is on the rise in America, middle-class after-tax incomes are falling.

The American middle class, long the most affluent in the world, has lost that distinction.

While the wealthiest Americans are outpacing many of their global peers, a New York Times analysis shows that across the lower- and middle-income tiers, citizens of other advanced countries have received considerably larger raises over the last three decades.

After-tax middle-class incomes in Canada — substantially behind in 2000 — now appear to be higher than in the United States. The poor in much of Europe earn more than poor Americans.

Instapundit suggests that there is a top-and-bottom coalition against the middle class.

The bottom wants to take the middle class' stuff because they just want stuff. The top earners want to take the middle class' stuff because the middle class threatens their status.

And this is all going on as America partially embraces Piketty's prescriptions.


Posted by Ace at 03:28 PM Comments

NBC Devotes 39 Paragraphs Reporting that Temp Workers Are At An All-Time High; Does Not Mention Obamacare Once As a Contributing Factor

—Ace

She almost mentions it, though.

If there's a prize for most words spent in Obamacare avoidance, NBC News's Martha C. White is definitely in the running.

White managed to burn through almost 40 paragraphs and nearly 1,600 words in a report carried at CNBC on the all-time record number of workers employed by temporary help services. But she somehow managed to completely avoid mentioning Obamacare, which used to be known as the Affordable Care Act until President Obama and his Health and Human Services regulators made 40 changes to the law originally passed by Congress, some of which directly contradict the original law's language. The closest she came was noting that using temps "lets companies avoid the cost of providing benefits like health insurance" — which has always been the case, except that health insurance is and will continue to be a lot more expensive, giving companies even more incentive to avoid adding to their own payrolls.

Obama pronounced that the "debate is over," and NBC scribbled it down furiously.

The media is definitely running their new reality-show TV arc called "Obamacare is Back!!!," and they're not going to let these little minor stories step on that very satisfying storyline.

Posted by Ace at 02:31 PM Comments

Open Thread

—DrewM.

Conservatives don't trust Boehner on immigration.

Liberals are brave and smart, just don't say anything that might scare them or hurt their feelings.

Modern feminism...enforced silence on genital mutilation, loud and proud on sexist Happy Meal toys.

Posted by DrewM. at 12:45 PM Comments

Supreme Court Rules It's Ok For States To Not Discriminate Based On Race In College Admissions

—DrewM.

It's amazing that self-anointed "leaders" of the civil rights movement in this country had actually twisted themselves to the point where they were arguing there was a constitutional mandate to discriminate based on race in college admissions. But we were.

The Supreme Court didn't rule that race based admission factors were unconstitutional. The 6-2 majority simply says that states once having created such preferences could legally remove them.

The justices said in a 6-2 ruling Tuesday that Michigan voters had the right to change their state constitution to prohibit public colleges and universities from taking account of race in admissions decisions. The justices said that a lower federal court was wrong to set aside the change as discriminatory.

Justice Anthony Kennedy said voters chose to eliminate racial preferences because they deemed them unwise.

Kennedy said nothing in the Constitution or the court’s prior cases gives judges the authority to undermine the election results.

I for one am gladdened and amused by Kennedy's new found respect for the people's right to amend their state constitution. I'm sure he'll lose it the next time his magic coin comes up the other way.

I'm having trouble downloading the opinion but I'm guessing Kagan recused herself from the case because of her work a Solicitor General. Ruth Bader Ginsberg joined Wise Latina Sonya Sotomayor's dissent which she read it from the bench (something justices do to show they have a sad over a decision).

I guess that means Steven Breyer joined with the majority which is...weird.

Added: This story has more background and the local view of the case.

University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman and admissions director Ted Spencer have decried the affirmative action ban, saying outright that the school cannot achieve a fully diverse student body with it in place.

"It's impossible," Spencer said in a recent interview, "to achieve diversity on a regular basis if race cannot be used as one of many factors."

Fifty-eight percent of Michigan voters in 2006 passed Proposal 2, a ballot initiative that amended the state constitution and made it illegal for state entities to consider race in admissions and hiring. With the Supreme Court's ruling, the only way left to nullify Proposal 2 is to mount a long, expensive and uncertain campaign to overturn it.

You want to fix the racial diversity issues in colleges? Ok, start with elementary and high schools. Start turning out students from places like Detroit that are ready to compete for slots at schools like U of M. If that means blowing up the public education system and the teacher's unions and replacing them with voucher programs and charter schools, so be it. It's "for the children" after all.

Posted by DrewM. at 10:43 AM Comments

Top Headline Comments 4-22-14

—Gabriel Malor

Happy Tuesday.


AoSHQ Weekly Podcast rss.png itunes_modern.png | Stream | Download | Ask The Blog | Archives

Posted by Gabriel Malor at 06:58 AM Comments

Overnight Open Thread (4-21-2014)

—Maetenloch

Pixy on the Democrats and Their Love for Totalitarian Iconography

The Hillary poster in particular seems to come from some weird alternate universe in which Eva Peron was an admiral of the Imperial Japanese navy.

icondailypoll

"Shut Up Culture" Takes on Dissent Over Campus "Rape Culture"

So Cornell student Julius Kairey wrote a thoughtful, reasoned column in the campus newspaper pointing out how the movement to end 'rape culture' on campus has seriously eroded the due process rights of students.

But the belief that rape must be prevented by "any means necessary" has been used to justify the elimination of key protections for students accused of rape in campus judicial systems. Some want the claims of the alleged victims of rape to be accepted as true, and not scrutinized in a fair legal proceeding. Just two years ago, Cornell stripped those accused of sexual offenses of the right to retain an attorney in University proceedings and the right to cross-examine their accusers. A student accused of a sexual offense at Cornell is now not able to directly ask the person who is making a potentially life-ruining accusation a single question about the incident. This is an inexcusable erasure of the fundamental right to confront one's accuser, a right that has existed for all of our country's history. Such rights are not superfluous. They protect us against arbitrary action by those who hold the levers of power.

And outrage!! from the usual campus suspects ensued blaming Kairey for fomenting sexual assault as well as the newspaper for disrespecting rape survivors by having the temerity to even publish his trigger of a column:

We disagree with the decision to publish "The Truth About 'Rape Culture,'" by Julius Kairey '15. Kairey blatantly disrespected a sensitive subject by reducing and delegitimizing the scarring experiences of survivors. This newspaper erred in publishing this article and should now also take responsibility for the harmful, triggering effects that articles like these cause.

...Those, like Kairey, who have the power to create change by advocating for survivors instead choose to ignore their voices, erase their rights and refuse to hold perpetrators accountable..

Now to even disagree with those obsessed with 'rape culture' makes you a cheerleader for sexual assault as well as a common thought criminal.

Continue reading


Posted by Maetenloch at 10:31 PM Comments

My Definition of a Boombastic Open Thread

—Ace

An American man wins the Boston Marathon for the first time since 1983.

The Blaze reports that a $28 billion Army software system for organizing intelligence on the battlefield just doesn't work very well-- and the Army is refusing officers' request to implement a much cheaper ($3 million) system developed by a private software company, a system preferred by the Marines.

The Marine Corps, Air Force and special forces, through their own procurement process, had implemented Palantir [the privately developed alternative software] as an additional war-fighting tool to be utilized with their own DCGS platform. U.S. special forces, including the Navy SEALs and other elite teams, along with the Marine Corps noted in a June 2013 U.S. Government Accountability Office report that their troops thought Palantir was “easy to use” and “effective” on their recent missions in Afghanistan.

“Users indicated it was a highly effective system for conducting intelligence information analysis and supporting operations,” the GAO report said. “The software had gained a reputation for being intuitive and easy to use, while also providing effective tools to link and visualize data.”

But for the Army ,”Palantir was like a thorn in their side — they didn’t want to cut into their own research and funding — if they added the software program to their DCGS platform, it would eliminate their ability to keep lining their own pockets,” a military intelligence analyst with knowledge of the program told TheBlaze.

When a student videotaped bullies absuing him and presented that proof to school authorities, that student was quickly charged with illegally wiretapping other people and prosecuted. He was ultimately convicted on a disorderly persons charge.

Now that charge is being vacated -- but what the hell?

I think this is an example of Your Government At Work, and government's interest is always in protecting itself and the phoney-baloney jobs of its workers. If a kid presents evidence of serious bullying, that reflects poorly on the school's discipline.

So how do you solve that problem? Well, there are two ways: One is to crack down on bullying, which may be difficult and may take a long time.

The other is to prosecute the whistleblower.

Either way, it's out of your In Box. So go with the easier one.

This is pretty neat, though I don't understand the principle behind it -- French scientists say they've created a gel embedded with nanoparticles that will close a wound as if it were glue even in soft organs like the liver and lungs.

The article explains how the nanoparticles bond with each other and with the gel they're in... but I don't understand how the gel sticks to the flesh. I mean, if the gel itself is just glue, then how is this different than plain old glue?

So I don't understand it. But it seems important. Maybe one of y'all can figure out how it works from the paper submitted on the process.

Charlie Crist announces that he hasn't changed his position on abortion -- that he's always been pro-life, by which he means pro-choice.

His statement is confusing and nonsensical, as it's meant to be.

Continue reading


Posted by Ace at 07:51 PM Comments

Of Course: California Moves to Bar Boy Scouts From Serving as Judges, Due to Boy Scouts' Private Organizational Beliefs on Gay Scoutleaders

—Ace

Fascism is forever descending upon the rightwing but landing upon the left.*

In a move with major legal implications, The California Supreme Court Advisory Committee on The Code of Judicial Ethics has proposed to classify the Boy Scouts as practicing “invidious discrimination” against gays, which would end the group’s exemption to anti-discriminatory ethics rules and would prohibit judges from being affiliated with the group.

“The Committee’s invitation ignores the fact that the change also encompasses other youth organizations whose membership is limited on the basis of gender, e.g., the Girl Scouts, as well as the military, which continues to practice ‘discrimination’ on the basis of gender,” wrote Catherine Short, legal director of the pro-life group Life Legal Defense Foundation, in a letter to the Committee obtained by TheDC that predicts possible implications for pro-life judges in the future.

“Perhaps this is not an unintended consequence,” wrote Short.

Perhaps we should just make it official that, in order to qualify for a paying job of any kind, one must submit proofs that one has voted Democratic at least 75% of the time.

* Just in case people don't know this quote: The original quote is, "Fascism is forever descending upon America but landing in Europe." The idea is that while people are forever shouting that fascism is coming to America -- because they view America as crude and susceptible to that sort of thing -- they completely miss the fact that genuine fascism convulses Europe frequently.

Similarly, many on the left -- or those who consider themselves the "center," but who are really on the left -- are always worrying about the fascist impulse in rightwing politics. Conveniently missing their own fascist impulses.

Posted by Ace at 06:03 PM Comments

Long-Rumored Clinton White House Memo Pushing Idea of the Internet as an Incubator for Right-Wing "Conspiracies" Finally Released to Public

—Ace

Via Althouse, the document that probably served as the basis for Hillary Clinton's "vast right-wing conspiracy" remark.

The actual document is here. There's not much to it. It's a fairly crude political blast-fax type thing (from the age of the blast-fax -- the emails of yesteryear).

Interesting, it uses the term "conspiracy theory" to apply not just to what would typically be termed conspiracy theories (the various theories about Vince Foster's death) but also to any derogatory story the Clinton White House wished to delegitimize. Thus, the Paula Jones and Gennifer Flower accusations -- which were not "conspiracy theories" in any sense, but just accusations that Clinton (falsely) denied -- are termed "conspiracy theories" pushed by the "right-wing."

Whitewater also gets namechecked as a "conspiracy theory."

The document is especially paranoid itself* about the powers of this newfangled "Internet" machine:

The right wing has seized upon the internet as a means of communicating its ideas to people.

Moreover, evidence exists that Republican staffers surf the internet, interacting with extremists in order to exchange ideas and information.

Egads!

Other interesting points:

The memo is much-concerned on partisans' ability to transmit memes via this "Internet" and then get them into "mainstream" news coverage. Note that the left has spent the last twenty years building up a serious and well-funded infrastructure of professional agitators whose only goal is to just that, but for the left.

Media Matters and all the rest are frequently able to get their stories picked up by the "mainstream" media, and, per Sheryl Attkisson, are also active in coordinating email/phone call/whisper campaigns to "controversialize" news stories they don't like and get them pulled from "mainstream" media broadcasts and articles.

The other interesting thing, of course, is that the names "Richard Mellon Scaife" and "Joseph Farah" litter the document like mentions of the devil in a medieval treatise on the plague.

Twenty years later, and they're still working off the exact same playbook. It's just that the Koch Brothers are the Devils of the Day.

* Note how establishment players are often extremely paranoid about "the fringe" (that is, anyone who's non-establishment).

This 2009 article describes "the paranoia of the center" (or the putative center -- certainly They think they're the center) and how their hateful suspicions about anyone Not Like Them can lead to deligitimization campaigns and suppression of vital debate.

We've heard ample warnings about extremist paranoia in the months since Barack Obama became president, and we're sure to hear many more throughout his term. But we've heard almost nothing about the paranoia of the political center. When mainstream commentators treat a small group of unconnected crimes as a grand, malevolent movement, they unwittingly echo the very conspiracy theories they denounce. Both brands of connect-the-dots fantasy reflect the tellers' anxieties much more than any order actually emerging in the world.

When such a story is directed at those who oppose the politicians in power, it has an additional effect. The list of dangerous forces that need to be marginalized inevitably expands to include peaceful, legitimate critics.

The Paranoid Style in Center-Left Politics

This isn't the first time the establishment has been overrun with paranoia about paranoiacs. The classic account of American conspiratology is Richard Hofstadter's "The Paranoid Style in American Politics," a 1964 survey of political fear from the founding generation through the Cold War. A flawed and uneven essay, Hofstadter's article nonetheless includes several perceptive passages. The most astute one might be this:

"It is hard to resist the conclusion that this enemy is on many counts the projection of the self; both the ideal and the unacceptable aspects of the self are attributed to him. The enemy may be the cosmopolitan intellectual, but the paranoid will outdo him in the apparatus of scholarship, even of pedantry. Secret organizations set up to combat secret organizations give the same flattery. The Ku Klux Klan imitated Catholicism to the point of donning priestly vestments, developing an elaborate ritual and an equally elaborate hierarchy. The John Birch Society emulates Communist cells and quasi-secret operation through 'front' groups, and preaches a ruthless prosecution of the ideological war along lines very similar to those it finds in the Communist enemy."

Hofstadter didn't acknowledge it, but his argument applied to much of his audience as well. His article begins with a reference to "extreme right-wingers," a lead that reflected the times. In the early 1960s, America was experiencing a wave of alarm about the radical right. This had been building throughout the Kennedy years and then exploded after the president's assassination, which many people either blamed directly on the far right or attributed to an atmosphere of fear and division fed by right-wing rhetoric. By the time Hofstadter's essay appeared, the "projection of the self" he described was in full effect. Just as anti-communists had mimicked the communists, anti-anti-communists were emulating the red hunters.

It's an important piece, worth reading again every year.

So, it appears that the Democrats became paranoid about these "right wing extremists" using the Internet to "spread [their] ideas" to the mainstream media, and then spent the next twenty years diligently creating a virtual media paramilitary militia army to transmit their own memes and enforce their community-based narratives.

Posted by Ace at 05:17 PM Comments

Tom Cotton Ad Blasts Mark Pryor's Claim That Service in the Military Gave Him a "Sense of Entitlement"

—Ace

Cotton already had big advantages over Pryor, but this ad just adds to those.

Oh, and Dick Blumenthal sort of cut an ad, too. Inadvertently. See below.

Continue reading


Posted by Ace at 04:31 PM Comments

Troll So Hard: Daily Beast Writer Calls US Military a Socialist Paradise

—Ace

He may just be trolling (so I'm not linking him, but Jonah Goldberg's discussion of the troll-posts), but he may be partly serious.

We were just discussing this idea of Socialists on the podcast, with Jonah Goldberg, as a matter of fact.

Socialists actually crave the non-fighting aspects of the military life -- the collectivization of people into a single body with one shared purpose. (This feeling of a shared purpose is often craved by those with a religious impulse but who reject actual religion.)

Socialists long to be corporatized -- turned into a single cell of a much larger, much grander, much more transcendent body.

They are frequently pretty casual about admitting that they would like a military-like society, regimented and hierarchized, with orders flowing down from those of superior rank.

Indeed, the military does have these attributes, as it must. But people in the military are largely conservative-leaning, and opposed to collectivization generally.

The Daily Beast writer implies this is somehow a contradiction. It's really not. A soldier might accept that he will give up certain rights of expression and choice for purposes of an undeniably grand purpose (defending the country) and only for that purpose.

The fact that a solider accepts that he is not permitted to bad mouth his superior officers or civilian leaders while acting as a soldier does not suggest he believes that such forbiddances should attach to an ordinary citizen.

Including himself, when he musters out -- most soldiers aren't lifelong soldiers, after all. A soldier may accept some aspects of collectivism (including obedience to superior officers) in his life as a soldier, and yet be completely averse to such a situation in his civilian life.

As most do, of course.

But the left does seem to imagine that if it works for the military, why then it really ought to work for society in general.

It's a creepy idea. It's a totalitarian idea. The military is exceptional in many ways, and foremost among those ways is that the military obeys rules that regular civilians are not required to obey, nor even to recognize.

But the left does see a well-functioning society as resembling the military, minus some aspects -- such as a patriotic temperament, willingness to use force to defend a nation, etc.

But otherwise: March in formation, act as a single unit, sublimate individuality into shared purpose decided upon by your superiors, and so forth.

And so they'll keep on insisting on this point, claiming it reveals something about conservatives, without realizing it reveals far more about themselves.

Posted by Ace at 03:29 PM Comments

Geraghty: Left's Overpraise of Chelsea Clinton Gives Away Their True Feelings About Aristocracy

—Ace

Via @rdbrewer4, a really good piece.

Chelsea assures us that her past workplaces were “incredibly, fiercely meritocratic.” Sometimes in past interviews, the interviewer inadvertently expresses surprise at the seemingly high-level jobs Chelsea Clinton gets handed...

Chelsea took that “Assistant Vice Provost” position [at an NYU school] in 2010, at age 30.

Now Chelsea’s “making her move”, which warranted that Fast Company cover piece:

Now, finally, she has decided to join the Clinton family business. As vice chair of the recently rebranded Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation, she is helping one of the world’s most notable philanthropies grow up.

She must have been extraordinarily talented to be named vice chair of an organization that has her name in its title, huh? What are the odds?

...

Dear friends on the Left: You can’t bemoan the death of opportunity in America, and rail against the richest one percent, and then devour puff pieces on how exceptionally talented and wonderful the offspring of our super-wealthy political leaders are, earning plaudits just by showing up with their famous last names.

The New York Times' public editor (ombudsmen) Arthur Brisbane described exactly how the media covers their favorite causes in 2012:

I also noted two years ago that I had taken up the public editor duties believing “there is no conspiracy” and that The Times’s output was too vast and complex to be dictated by any Wizard of Oz-like individual or cabal. I still believe that, but also see that the hive on Eighth Avenue is powerfully shaped by a culture of like minds — a phenomenon, I believe, that is more easily recognized from without than from within.

When The Times covers a national presidential campaign, I have found that the lead editors and reporters are disciplined about enforcing fairness and balance, and usually succeed in doing so. Across the paper’s many departments, though, so many share a kind of political and cultural progressivism — for lack of a better term — that this worldview virtually bleeds through the fabric of The Times.

As a result, developments like the Occupy movement and gay marriage seem almost to erupt in The Times, overloved and undermanaged, more like causes than news subjects.

Posted by Ace at 01:52 PM Comments

Is NBC'S David Gregory Crazy Or Just An Unlikable Jackass?

—DrewM.

I've worked for myself for most of my adult life and don't have any real experience with working in a cooperate environment, so maybe this is totally normal. Or maybe it's a sign of something far more troubling.

NBC News last year hired a "psychological consultant" to interview David Gregory's friends and family, part of an effort to get greater insight into the "Meet the Press" host's personality, according to a new report.

The point of hiring the consultant, NBC spokeswoman Meghan Pianta said, was to "to get perspective and insight from people who know him best."

...

"Gregory’s job does not appear to be in any immediate jeopardy, but there are plenty of signs of concern,” [The Washington Post's Paul] Farhi wrote.

You have to wonder if perhaps NBC is just worried about Gregory's state of mind. I mean taking over the number one Sunday talk-show and running it into the ground has to be a heavy burden anyone.

Still, it makes this image, and the DC prosecutor's decision not to try this obvious violation of the law, all the more troubling.

gregory.PNG

Naturally all of us here at the HQ wish Mr. Gregory the best in this difficult time.

Posted by DrewM. at 12:17 PM Comments

Everything You Need To Know About Liberals In One Blog Post: They Are Dumb

—DrewM.

From the, "I can't beieve Jeff Bezos didn't give Ezra Klein $10 million dollars" file, behold this gem.

First of all let me say how asinine it is for someone who claims to be engaged in deep wonkery to keep pitching stories as "Everything you need to know about X in one chart/graph/interpretative dance performance".

If complex subjects can be fully covered and explained in a single anything, it's probably not that complex of a subject and you don't need experts, let alone a bunch of arrogant children without any discernible accomplishments to explain it to you.

But enough about the staff of Vox.com. Let's look at some of the "297 words" that constitute Ezra Klein's vision of all you need to know about economics. Mind you, these aren't Klein's words but the words of an actual expert in economics, Thomas Sargent a Nobel Laureate in the field.

1. Many things that are desirable are not feasible.

2. Individuals and communities face trade-offs.

3. Other people have more information about their abilities, their efforts,
and their preferences than you do.

4. Everyone responds to incentives, including people you want to help. That is why social safety nets don't always end up working as intended.

I'm going to stop here, 74 words into the 297 (my version of Word says it's actually 308 but let's not quibble).

How can you think these are essential truths about economics and still be a big government liberal? Imagine thinking, as Klein does, that these are four essential parts (there's 12 in total) of understanding economics while simultaneously thinking that ObamaCare doesn't go far enough and we should have "a more nationalized health-care system".

If your entire worldview is based on greater concentration of political power over the economy and the incentives under which individuals operate, wouldn't you look at those 4 points alone and either say, "What an idiot this guy is!" or "Hmmm....I may need to evaluate my thinking on everything."?

How can you read those words and think, "Yes! This guy nails it and oh by the way, society should be organized in such a way as to ignore everything he just said"?

There's more of this, approximately 223 words worth, at the link and all of it damning to the liberal project of confiscatory taxation providing central government planners with more money and power to control the lives of hundreds of millions of people.

And yet, Klein and his merry band of know-it-alls want you to trust them to explain everything to you.

I really feel there should be a word that means "smart person who is actually quite stupid". Preferably it would be in German.

Posted by DrewM. at 10:53 AM Comments



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GE: We Bring Bad Karma to Life
GE is telling investors Obamacare is to blame for recent losses. "But who went all in from 2009 until it divested itself of its television division last year to promote Obamacare? Why…GE, which co-owned NBC, CNBC, and MSNBC, the latter of which went out of its way — and is still going out of its way — to smear any opponent of Obamcare as racist." [rdbrewer]

WaPo: DHS watchdog cozy with officials, altered reports as he sought top job
"The top watchdog for the Department of Homeland Security altered and delayed investigations at the request of senior administration officials, compromising his independent role as an inspector general, according to a new report from a Senate oversight panel." [rdbrewer]


Milwaukee Brewers to honor Bob Uecker with statue [rdbrewer]

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So embarrassing. [rdbrewer]

Video: Bad Lip Reading, Twilight III
Their latest. [rdbrewer]


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Jonathan Rauch, The Daily Beast: Opposing Gay Marriage Doesn’t Make You a Crypto-Racist [rdbrewer]

WaPo Editorial: Keystone XL’s continued delay is absurd
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Krauthammer hails ‘towering’ affirmative action decision: ‘Exactly the way you want to do it in a democracy’
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The Editors: Half a Win on Racial Discrimination
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Entertainment Weekly: Aaron Sorkin apologizes for 'The Newsroom': 'I feel like I'm just now starting to learn how to write it'
(Thanks for the links, Drudge.) [rdbrewer]


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Peggy Noonan: Mrs. Clinton’s New Memoir
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Ted Cruz invites Sriracha company to Texas
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Study: Fuels from corn waste not better than gas
But it makes progressives feel good about themselves. That's the important thing. [rdbrewer]


M.G. Oprea: The Closing of the Academic Mind
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Interview: James Delingpole on The Little Green Book of Eco-Fascism
"'I’m not a scientist and actually given what I’ve seen of scientists in my experiences following the global warming scam, I’m glad I’m not a scientist because a lot of these guys are basically shysters and crooks. They’re not some kind of white-coated elite with a special hotline to the truth. In fact, they’re just ordinary guys and girls trying to earn a living like the rest of us but slightly more dodgily....'" [rdbrewer]
NYT: In Cold War Echo, Obama Strategy Writes Off Putin
"Strategy" gives Obama too much credit. "Reaction" might be a better word. [rdbrewer]

Frontpage: Obama Praises Muslims in Easter Message
Nice touch, Slick. [rdbrewer]

Victor Davis Hanson, PJM: Cliven Bundy and The Rural Way
"[T]his administration has a long record of not following the law — picking and choosing when and how to enforce immigration statutes, depending on the particular dynamics of the next election; picking and choosing which elements of Obamacare to enforce, again depending on perceived political advantage; and picking and choosing when to go after coal companies.... In other words, the Obama administration regularly breaks the law as it sees fit. " [rdbrewer]

The Telegraph: China on course to become 'world's most Christian nation' within 15 years
"The number of Christians in Communist China is growing so steadily that it by 2030 it could have more churchgoers than America." [rdbrewer]
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