Friday, May 25, 2018

Trump Cancels North Korean Summit


Did you ever get the impression that you are living in a confederacy of dunces? Did you ever get the feeling that the #GetTrump crowd does not care about success or failure. No matter what Trump does they will always find fault.

Their greatest fear of late has been that Trump might negotiate a deal for North Korean denuclearization. Thus, when Trump pulled out of a June 12 meeting in Singapore, the #GetTrump group was elated.They could not restrain themselves from declaring Trump to be an incompetent negotiator and a general all-around failure.

It was a pathetic spectacle. It signaled an absence of patriotism, a failure to understand that Trump, like him or not, is the president of the United States. Rooting for a president to fail because you believe it gives you political advantage is ignoble. End of story.

One thing we do know, canceling the meeting was a move in a game. We do not know the outcome of the game. We do not know how it will proceed and we certainly do not know how it will end. Thus, all speculation about whether it was right or wrong, good or bad is fatuous. If our own dunces are honorable they will admit that there is more to life than their own propaganda and that, if they do not know the outcome, they should not jump to conclusions.

One other thing we know is that North Korea had not responded to administration efforts to negotiate the framework for a meeting. Secretary of State Pompeo said so yesterday in front of a Senate committee. As opposed to some other administration officials,  Pompeo seems to be in charge of his mouth. In truth, if you cannot reach your prospective negotiating partner, you are receiving a clear signal. And that is: he is more interested in the theatrics of the ceremony than any substantive agreements.

You have no other choice but to postpone the meeting. If Trump had not done so his detractors would have been rushing to the microphones to explain that he had been had.

In addition, you will note that Trump, diplomatically, had been speaking of Kim in very respectful tones. And Trump has expressed great admiration an gratitude for Chinese president Xi Jinping. His rhetoric has been exemplary. 

And yet, National Security Adviser John Bolton declared that he was looking for a Libya-like solution… which brings to mind the fact that after Libya gave up its nuclear weapons, the Obama administration rewarded Col Qaddhafi with a bayonet up his butt. I prefer to think of Bolton as having made a rookie mistake. Trump quickly walked back the remark. But then, Vice President Pence—another rookie?—repeated the same analogy to Libya, apparently not knowing how this would sound to Kim Jong-un.

The North Koreans reacted with insults and invective against Mike Pence… which also made it impossible for Trump to continue. I cannot speculate about Pence's tactics, but he is not covering himself in glory here. If he is speaking for the administration it is, within the White House, incoherent and unnecessarily provocative. A bad move.

And then there is the China angle. Readers of this blog know my theory—namely that Trump and Xi made a deal. By the terms of the deal Xi would corral his ally in North Korea and Trump would reciprocate. We did not know what the precise terms of the quid pro quo would be. We suspected that it had something to do with the American government’s sanctions against Chinese telecom firm, ZTE. When Xi asked Trump to intervene in the matter, Trump instructed his Commerce Department to solve the problem.

But then, Congress got in the act and both Republicans and Democrats decided that it was time to get tough on China. Led by famed grandstander Marco Rubio, the Senate Banking Committee passed a resolution that will make it far more difficult, if not impossible, for Trump to fulfill his end of the bargain.

Some have argued that President Xi never wanted North Korea to be denuclearized anyway. And yet, if we assume that he was pursuing his national interest, he would certainly have wanted to receive signals from the United States that he would receive something in return. If not, the chances are that he will not allow the summit to go on.

An alternate theory would have it that the world was starting to see Kim as Xi’s puppet. This would have caused Kim to lose face. And, to save face he needed to assert himself… to make it appear that he was in charge. As of now, he seems not to have reckoned with the possibility that Trump would withdraw from the summit and has stated that he will meet with Trump anywhere anyhow.

The Case of the Childless 40-Year-Old Single Woman


It’s a good example of how a seasoned therapist misses the point. A 40-year-old single woman writes to therapist Lori Gottlieb. Her problem, according to her is that she cannot get her ex- out of her mind. He seems to have been her one and only true love. She wanted a home with children. He did not. 

She doesn’t quite say it but she has clung to the hope that he would come around. She broke up with him. She hooked up with him a few times. It did not work out. She is alone and bereft and she asks a therapist how to stop thinking about him.

Here is the letter:

I’m a 40-year-old single woman. Never married, no children, and I’ve been struggling for years to get over my ex. He was my first love and we met when I was in my early 20s. It was a very immature relationship that culminated in me breaking up with him finally (for about the third or fourth time), mostly because of a growing fear that I knew I would want kids and was worried that I was wasting my time with someone who wasn’t willing to work on a future with me.

This was more than 10 years ago, and although my ex and I have occasionally stayed in touch, been intimate, and reconnected after a few years of separation, we have not been able to have a healthy relationship. I’ve tried to be honest about my wanting a different type of relationship with him, but he doesn’t seem to want that. I have tried moving on by ignoring my feelings for him, ignoring him when he has reached out to me, and repeatedly reminding myself that ours is not the kind of relationship that I want. But it all feels like a lie.

The truth is, here I am, thinking about the last person I had the strongest romantic relationship and potential with. And I feel like a fool. I tried blocking him on my phone, but I still saw his calls. I have avoided his social media since it just triggers sadness instead of happiness and joy. I need some practical help to get him out of my mind.

Anonymous

Therapist Gottlieb responds reasonably that the woman will need to give up her hopes for a future with this man and move on. It is self-evident. She correctly points out that most therapists want their patients to live in the past, not the future. And that Anonymous is living in the lost past.

If she moves on and develops new dating habits, Gottlieb continues, perhaps she will find true love.

It sounds unobjectionable. And yet, I am happy to offer an obvious objection. At age 40 Anonymous has a much bigger problem than finding true love. Her problem is: to have or not to have a child.

Since we know nothing about Anonymous’s living conditions, her family, her career or any other relevant details about her life, we cannot evaluate her options realistically. I have often remarked that letters written to advice givers rarely give anything close to the amount of detail that you would need to offer decent advice. They seem to be suffering from too much therapy; they see themselves as a bundle of mental or emotional processes.

And yet, in this case we do know one salient fact. We know, because it has been widely publicized, that Gottlieb herself had a child at age 39 through the aid of a sperm donor. Now, we do not expect that Gottlieb will go all Ask Polly here and fill up an endless stream of pages by oversharing about her own very personal experience. It would not be very professional.

And yet, as long as the information is public record, it would have been more constructive to say a word about single parenthood, to address this woman’s manifest desire for a child, before droning on about Freud’s idea of the repetition compulsion. The truth is, the time that it takes to find a new man, to develop a relationship, to marry and to start a family will probably decide the issue.

Having a fatherless child is certainly the exception. Naturally, a woman who is contemplating such a move would want to know how it has worked out for someone who has done it. And she would ask a woman who has undergone the experience, who knows what it's like to be pregnant and alone, to have or not to have family support, to explain the situation to the child... who it is working out.

Unless of course Anonymous has simply given up on the prospect of having a child of her own. I suspect that she has not. But, at the least, a savvy therapist should raise the issue and discuss the different options. A therapist who had undergone the experience would have some direct personal knowledge of the issue.

On this score, therapist Gottlieb misses the point completely. For all the fancy psycho theories about repression, this therapist has a rather large and obvious blind spot.

James Clapper Loses Face

Not to be overly literal about it, but losing face has a very specific real-world correlate. When you lose face you lose your self-respect because you become unrecognizable. It's a bad sign, a sign of a lack of dignity and a lack of integrity. Among the ways to lose face: to become so emotional that your emotions make it nearly impossible for anyone to identity you.

Case in point, today, James Clapper, former Director of National Intelligence, on The View. Doug Ross @ Journal collected these images (via American Digest.)

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Tomi Lahren Attacked in Minneapolis


Here’s one for the annals of incivility. The thought police have bled out of universities and have taken up residence in your local eatery. At Sunday brunch, no less.

You have heard all about it by now. Fox News commentator and former Blaze talk show host, Tomi Lahren, a young woman who is a bit of a provocatrice—though certainly not at the Milo level—was having brunch with her mother in Minneapolis, Minnesota. For having done nothing to provoke anyone she was assaulted, verbally and physically by a group of young women who felt very, very strongly about immigration issues. I might be wrong, but I believe that throwing things at people is an assault. In England, you know, they do not just throw water. They throw acid.

Anyway, by their reasoning Lahren does not have the right to have brunch with her mother because she holds wrong opinions and has said what they consider hateful things. There you have it, Congress can pass no law restricting the freedom of speech but the thought police can harass and assault you in public if you disagree with them.

Even Kathy Griffin thought that they had gone too far.

In the world of democratic norms, the kind that the left is constantly denouncing Donald Trump for violating, allowing someone to have brunch in peace has to count among the most basic. Promiscuously denouncing a differing  opinion to be “hate speech” violates the norms of civility. The reason we have these norms is simple: what goes around comes around. Those who proudly proclaim themselves to be policing thought will eventually be subjected to the same incivility.

The Daily Mail has the story:

One of the two young women involved in a brunch scuffle with Tomi Lahren spoke out on Wednesday to say that she stands by the incident and ‘doesn’t care’ that President Trump disapproves of her friend throwing water at the Fox News pundit.

Twenty-three-year-old college graduate Libby, 23, was at a table with eight girlfriends at UNION rooftop bar and restaurant in Minneapolis when her friend threw water at Lahren as she walked by.

After throwing the water, the girl under the screenname Jasmine Kohler shared photographs of it on her Snapchat story and wrote: 'Thanks for the screenshots. I did it lol'. Earlier in the day, she appeared to goad followers by telling them in post: 'Tomi Lahren at union (sic). 5 screenshots and we dump a drink on her.'

After being hit with the water, Lahren turned to engage the group but it was Libby, not Jasmine, who launched a foul-mouthed tirade at her which was also captured on another video which later emerged.

What did she say?

She called Lahren, who is her age, a 'racist piece of s***’ and a ‘f****** piece of human garbage trash.’ 

She went on to tell Lahren’s 55-year-old mother Trudy that she worked with immigrants ‘every day of her life’, didn't want to hear what her daughter had to say and told the Lahren family: ‘You’re done, you can go.’

Remember when women were ladies. Remember when women and even men thought it indecorous to use foul language. Now, women feel compelled, not just permitted, to spew out a string of vulgar invectives... because they feel strongly about it.

If you don’t want to hear something, don’t listen. If you feel compelling to punish those who think differently, you are out of order and out of line:

Speaking to DailyMail.com on Wednesday, Libby said that while she did not throw the water, her friend was quite right to do so because Lahren is ‘racist’ and was ‘not welcome’ Minneapolis. 

‘When you use your platform to spread hate speech, you have lost your privilege to have a peaceful discourse,' she said.

'Especially when you come into our city, Minneapolis, which is a huge city for people of color and immigrants. She is not welcome here. Have you heard anything she says? She equated the Black Lives Matters movement to the KKK. 

So, disagreeing with the principles and tactics of BLM gives people the right to shut you up, shut you down and assault you in public.

Who is Libby:

Libby is a liberal arts graduate who volunteers for a non-profit organization which helps immigrants seeking asylum. She hopes to attend law school in the fall and wants to become an immigration attorney. 

On Sunday, she said she watched as Lahren was accosted by other patrons on the rooftop bar where drag performances had been going on all day.

‘Tomi was there at the brunch and everyone at the restaurant figured it out people were walking by her table and calling her names. We were going to do a chant, “like go home Tomi,” but it didn't happen.

‘[As Lahren was leaving], she walked by and the girl in the video tossed the water and it barely hit her,' she said. 

So, people believed that they had the right to assault Lahren and her mother verbally. Were they all immigration activists? Were they cosmopolitan citizens of the world who believe in open borders? We know that President Trump expressed his solidarity with Tomi Lahren. How about asking President Open-Borders-Citizen-of-the-World himself, Barack Obama what he thinks about what he has spawned.

Another Sexual Predator Arrested


You can breathe a sigh of relief. Another sexual predator has been arrested and taken out of circulation. This time, it’s not a teacher; it’s an assistant principal in Ste. Genevieve, Wisconsin.

Image result for elizabeth giesler
Ste. Gen assistant principal arrested
Ste. Gen assistant principal arrested
Ste. Gen assistant principal arrested
Her name is Elizabeth Giesler. Read about the horrors she inflicted on a poor, innocent sixteen year old boy:

Elizabeth "Beth" Giesler, an assistant principal for Ste. Genevieve Schools, is being charged with three counts of Class E felony sexual contact with a student, three counts of a Class D felony of statutory sodomy in the second degree and two counts of statutory rape in the second degree….

According to a probable cause statement signed by Trooper T.S. Craig, on May 18 the student told Craig that Giesler performed a sexual act on him at her residence in Ste. Genevieve County between April 7-8 during the Riverdog Tourney.

He also said that they engaged in sexual intercourse and sexual acts twice between April and May. These incidents also allegedly occurred at her residence.

Apparently, the boy’s parents thought that she would be a good influence on him. Plaintively, they exclaimed said that they trusted her. 

“She talked to us about my son and stuff like this, what she can do for him through life, you know, give him a better life ... so she was going to try to make sure he got on the right path," the father said in an interview with the television station.

I guess it all depends on what you mean by the right path.

Generation Snowflake Is Mentally Ill


Generation Snowflake is real. Today’s college students are so stressed out that more and more of them are suffering from mental illness. They are so anxious and depressed that they cannot take exams in the allotted time. They need extra time, calmer rooms, better lighting… what have you. Otherwise many of them would flunk out.

How many students require extra coddling at exam time? Upwards of 25%. The Wall Street Journal has the story:

As many as one in four students at some elite U.S. colleges are now classified as disabled, largely because of mental-health issues, entitling them to a widening array of special accommodations like longer time to take exams.

Under federal law, students can be considered disabled if they have a note from a doctor. That label requires schools to offer accommodations depending on the student’s needs. A blind student, for example, would have access to specialized software or a reader for an exam.

The rise in disability notes for mental-health issues such as depression and anxiety has led to a surge in the number of students who take their exams in low-distraction testing centers, are allowed to get up and walk around during class or bring a comfort animal to school, among other measures.

You read that right. Some of these students need to bring a comfort animal with them to school. You might find this slightly puzzling. Haven't we all been told by our psycho professionals that we possess wondrous medications that can treat all manner of mental health conditions... beginning with depression and anxiety? Something is wrong somewhere.

It’s become something of an epidemic:

At Pomona, 22% of students were considered disabled this year, up from 5% in 2014. Other elite schools have also seen a startling jump in disabilities, according to data from the federal government and from the schools. At Hampshire, Amherst and Smith colleges in Massachusetts and Yeshiva University in New York, one in five students are classified as disabled. At Oberlin College in Ohio, it is one in four. At Marlboro College in Vermont, it is one in three.

Is it fair? Of course, it isn’t. Other students resent those who get extra special consideration.

The most common accommodations come during testing. Students who receive extended time may get twice as long as their classmates to take an exam.

Some professors question how this affects the fairness of exams.

“If you grade on a curve, does it disadvantage the rest of the class?” asks Ari Trachtenberg, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Boston University who is critical of the rise in accommodations. “There’s no calibration between how much extra time they want me to give and any sense how that would actually affect the exam.”

It’s not just professors?

Miriam Kurtzig Freedman, an attorney who has represented public schools in special-education and disability law and has written several books about accommodations, said that giving some test takers extended time on the SAT is “like lowering the basket from 10 feet to 8 feet; you’re changing the game.”

“The reason we pay all this money for the test is so that we can compare someone from South Dakota to someone from California,” she says. “If the test is no longer standardized, then what are we paying for?”

But, why does Generation Snowflake suffer from so much mental illness?

Psychologists have many theories to explain the rise in mental-health diagnoses among college-age students, from social-media habits to less stigma around mental illness.

Could it be that their mental health was seriously compromised by a school system that doles out unearned praise, the better to raise their self-esteem? Have they been undermined by permissive parenting and a teenage culture that introduces them to too much sex and drugs before they can handle it? Have their minds be so completely warped by the politically correct thought police that they live in a constant state of anxiety over saying the wrong thing? Or are they depressed because they are no longer allowed to express pride in their country, given as they have been taught that America is a vast criminal conspiracy and thus that they must feel guilty for white privilege all the time?

I know what you are thinking. Once Generation Snowflake hits the job market reality will bite. And it will bite hard. They will discover that their managers are not going to disorganize the work flow because one or two people feel that they are special and require special considerations and accommodations. They will learn that they have to leave their pet llamas at home and that their comfort goats cannot accompany them on business trips.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Boomerang Children


Apparently, the problem is not unique to the United States. A survey of families in Europe—minus Great Britain—finds that more and more adult children are moving back home to live with Mom and Dad. The problem has a name: boomerang children. The study has discovered that the situation negatively effects the emotional well being of parents. See also today's post about Pajama boy Michael Rotondo.

It’s called intergenerational co-residence. The paper was reported by the BBC, via Maggie’s Farm:

The research paper, published in the journal Social Science & Medicine, says: "Over the past half century, intergenerational co-residence has declined dramatically in Western countries.

"However, this pattern has recently altered, and in some countries multigenerational co-residence has increased; a shift interpreted as a family response to high unemployment rates, poor job prospects and financial hardship among young adults."

The paper explores the effects of different reasons for returning home, such as unemployment and partnership breakdown, saying these are, in themselves, distressing to parents.

But after controlling for this, the researchers found the return of a child still caused a significant decline in parents' wellbeing.

One understands that parents are distressed when their children’s relationships break down and when their children are not gainfully employed. Surely, these events cause parents to feel that they have failed to bring up children who will become responsible adults.

Researchers believe that boomerang children disrupt the rhythm of an empty nest, by undermining the new routines that couples create after their children leave.

Study author Dr Marco Tosi said: "Our work shows that in contexts where family orientations and welfare institutions foster individuals' independence, returns home by adult children have negative implications for parents' well-being….

"When children leave the parental home, marital relationships improve and parents find a new equilibrium.

"They enjoy this stage in life, finding new hobbies and activities. When adult children move back, it is a violation of that equilibrium."