Saturday, October 1, 2016

Martin Heidegger: Everyone's Favorite Nazi

How did it happen that one of the greatest philosophers of the twentieth century was a Nazi? And how did it happen that seriously leftist  philosophers continue to pretend that it did not matter? Why, in the case of Martin Heidegger, did so many of his fellow philosophers willingly ignore his service to National Socialism and his lifelong failure to recant his views?

If it was not a will-to-power, perhaps it was a will-to-ignore… to ignore the fact that, in extolling Heidegger’s thought, they were teaching people how to think like Nazis.

It becomes that more complicated when we reflect that Heidegger’s work is borderline unreadable. Even before he joined the Nazi Party, Heidegger was writing some of the most impenetrable prose anyone had ever seen. For a language that gave us Kant and Hegel, that’s a considerable achievement in its own right.

So, very, very few people really understand what Heidegger was talking about. They do understand what Nazism was, but they cannot make the connection.

Considering how much time and effort it takes to figure out what Heidegger was about, they are not about to admit that they were duped by a Nazi. Academic thinkers like to think that they are impervious to demagoguery. When it comes to Heidegger they should think again. Surely, they do not agree with any of the tenets of Hitler’s thought, but they have become what medical science would call “carriers.” They transmit the disease without suffering its symptoms themselves.

Now, Adam Kirsch, in an exceptionally clear exposition of the Heidegger problem explains the internal contradictions that have beset those who continue to defend the great Nazi:

… no matter how much we find out about Heidegger’s Nazism, it still seems like a contradiction in terms. After all, we think we know what Nazis are like and what philosophers are like, and the two identities simply don’t match. Thinkers are supposed to be idealistic, moral defenders of the highest values of civilization; fascists are brutal, barbaric, appealing to humanity’s lowest instincts. Nazis burn books; philosophers write them. But Heidegger did both. In 1927, he published one of the most influential books in the history of philosophy, Being and Time; six years later, as rector of Freiburg University, he presided over a public bonfire of “un-German” books, proclaiming, “Flame, announce to us, light up for us, show us the path from which there is no turning back.” Like the famous optical illusion in which the same figure is both a duck and a rabbit, then, we keep twisting and turning our image of Heidegger, trying to see in him both the Nazi and the philosopher at the same time.

Could it be that those who have devoted their lives to disseminating the Heidegger’s thought have misunderstood it?

When I asked a young college graduate about this contradiction one day many years ago, he offered up what he had been taught in a college philosophy course. He suggested that, perhaps, Heidegger did not understand his own philosophy. To which I replied: And you do?

But, why should anyone care?

For one, as I explained in my book The Last Psychoanalyst, Heidegger’s thinking seems to have been perfectly consonant with Freudian theory.

For another, Heidegger was the progenitor of what is now called the practice of deconstruction. College students often thrill to this new method. They love deconstructing texts to expose the way Western, that is Judeo-Christian civilization contaminates our minds and destroys our authentic individuality.

And yet, precious few of those who practice deconstruction understand that it is just a fancy philosophical terms for “pogrom.” Deconstruction does to texts what the SS and the Gestapo did to the cities, towns and villages that were conquered by the Wehrmacht. If you do not understand that these are fundamentally the same thing, you do not understand deconstruction.

And, how smart do you have to be to understand that the assault on Judeo-Christian culture would naturally lead to the destruction (or deconstruction) of Jewish culture, Jewish customs, Jewish learning and Jewish people?

To repeat a point that I made in my book, Heidegger’s thought was designed to create a form of human being that was perfectly amoral, and thus, that was exempt from responsibility for personal behavior or even political actions.

Kirsch explains it in terms that place Heidegger firmly within Nietzsche’s orbit:

That is largely because Heidegger is not very interested in the central problem of ethics (and of politics), which is how to live with other people. For him, the key experiences and challenges of existence are individual: Alone we suffer, alone we die, and alone we must make meaning out of our fate. The highest value, then, is not goodness but authenticity; above all, authenticity in the face of death. To accept one’s actual condition of mortality and thrownness, not to flee from these difficult facts into consoling illusions and abstractions, is for Heidegger the ultimate moral achievement.

Could it be that philosophers who drunk too deeply of this philosophy found that their moral judgment was numbed to the point that they could not hold Heidegger accountable for his grotesque moral failings?

Kirsch continues:

What Heidegger does here is to pluck a kind of meaning from the midst of nihilism. It is precisely because life is meaningless, because it has no value or purpose imposed on it from above or outside, that the individual human being must endow it with meaning by deciding on an authentic existence. But authenticity and decision are fundamentally anti-ethical concepts, because they deny the existence of any established values, such as justice, equality, or sympathy. Why be a “good” person rather than a “bad” person, if terms like good and bad are mere conventions? If life has the meaning we decide to give it, what’s to stop us from finding that meaning in arbitrary violence, domination, or irrationality? What if we choose to find meaning in serving a Volk or a F├╝hrer?

Don’t these ideas have a ring of familiarity? We are not born as we are, but we can make ourselves over, recreate ourselves in order to have an authentically anti-social existence. Wasn’t Heidegger merely doubling down on anomie?

If we follow this program we will overcome all established values and will transvalue, as Nietzsche put it, values like good and bad, which to Heideggereans are, as Kirsch says, mere conventions, or better, social constructs.

And what could be a better sign of our ability to transcend custom and convention than to take actions that any civilized human would consider to be evil and then declaring them to be good. It is any wonder that Heidegger thrilled to the pogroms carried out by the SA and that he was not especially moved by the Holocaust.

In the hermetic world of Heidegger’s thought, our lives are meaningful because we give them meaning. They do not gain meaning by our values, our actions, or our membership in groups. Trying to get along with other people is a waste of time. Trying to be a good person is to fall prey to an illusion.

In Kirsch’s words:

This hope is expressed again and again in the “Black Notebooks” for 1933, the year Hitler took power and Heidegger became rector of his university. “A marvelously awakening communal will is penetrating the great darkness of the world,” Heidegger writes. Nazism, with its rhetoric of destiny and rebirth, was going to define new coordinates for human life, simply by the authenticity and confidence of its self-assertion. These coordinates might be upside-down, from the perspective of conventional morality; Nazism might call murder, conquest, racism and dictatorship good, where the old Judeo-Christian morality thought them bad. But because values are determined by conviction, not vice versa, the Nazis could succeed in bringing into being a new world in which evil actually was good. “The mission—if precisely this were the mission: the full imposing and first proposing of the new essence of truth?” Heidegger asks, thrilled at the prospect that truth itself can be transformed.

Of course, Heidegger’s minions have been fighting to remove the taint of anti-Semitism from their guru’s reputation. And yet, Kirsch explains, the recent publication of Heidegger’s Black Notebooks shows that they are fighting in a losing cause:

In his published work, Heidegger traces it all the way back to Plato and Aristotle, suggesting that it was the fate of Western civilization to turn against itself in this way. But in the “Black Notebooks,” he finds a much simpler and more familiar scapegoat: the Jews. “World Jewry,” Weltjudentum, with its overtones of hostile conspiracy, was a common Nazi phrase that the philosopher had no qualms about embracing, using it several times in the privacy of the notebooks. Thus in 1941 Heidegger writes: “World Jewry, spurred on by the emigrant that Germany let out, remains elusive everywhere. Despite its increased display of power, it never has to take part in the practice of war, whereas we are reduced to sacrificing the best blood of the best of our own people.” This is a breathtaking example of how Nazi anti-Semitism precisely inverted reality: At just the moment when the Holocaust was killing millions of helpless Jews, Heidegger suggests that it was “elusive” World Jewry that was killing Germans.

Following Heidegger, Jacques Derrida also traced the beginning of Western civilization to the time of Socrates and Plato. Derrida, who seems have believed that the civilization was founded on the repression of the activity of writing—Socrates did not write—did not see that putting his theories into practice would produce a multitude of anonymous internet trolls.

And Derrida did not seem to know that Alfred Rosenberg, a great Nazi ideologue and member of the Nazi Party high command—high enough to be tried at Nuremberg and summarily executed for his crimes—had once said that Plato and Socrates had ruined it all because they had suffered the influence of Judaic thought. Jewish ideas—ideas like free will—had contaminated the Being that had been extolled by pre-Socratic philosophers.

It is true that very few people really have anything like an understanding of Heidegger’s project. Conservative thinkers tend not to be familiar with it at all. And yet, great ideas trickle down through the academy and the media. Before you know it, students are acting like Brown Shirts, asserting their authentic being and working to destroy anyone who does not accept their own self-creation.

Even on a more mundane level, a current debate over the value of small talk seems to reflect Heidegger’s critique of what he called idle chatter. When a behavioral economist like Dan Ariely declares that small talk is a waste of time because it does not produce authentic connections and because it does not engage meaningful topics of conversation, he is communicating, without knowing it, a basic tenet of Heidegger’s philosophy.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Sheryl Sandberg's Lament

It is a truth rarely acknowledged, but a woman who knows how to manage people does not necessarily know how to teach others how to manage people The same applies to negotiation. Knowing how to negotiate does not mean that you know how to teach people how to negotiate. The required skill sets are different. No one can be all things to all people.

Yet, we again have Sheryl Sandberg telling women how to conduct themselves in complex business negotiations. We will stipulate that Sandberg herself is very good at running a business. She manages a very large and wildly successful company.

Apparently, she believes that her success has given her the right to tell other women what to do. And she believes that when her advice leads to undesirable results, the fault lies with male sexism. In other words, she thinks like zealot, one who has very little sense of reality.

One recalls that Sandberg’s friend, former New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson decided one day to lean in. She strode confidently into her boss’s office and told him that he was underpaying her because she was a woman. Her boss, Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. fired her on the spot.

One would have imagined that Abramson was a competent manager and negotiator. Apparently, she grossly overestimated her value to the company and did not know that her news room was in open rebellion against her, largely because of her incompetent management skills.

Her more capital mistake was driven by ideology: she decided that she should lay a guilt trip on her boss, thereby to extort a raise. By implication, she was saying that if he did not give her more money she would expose him as a sexist. He called the bluff and she was out of a job.

Proponents of leaning in do not use this case to show why leaning in is very bad advice. Instead, in recent Wall Street Journal column, Sandberg explains that leaning in works perfectly.

She writes:

A freelance film director recently described walking into a negotiation. She was ready: She had armed herself with stats and evidence and had practiced her pitch. But instead of diving into why she deserved the project—and the money that came along with it—she began with the following: “I just want to say up front that I’m going to negotiate, and the research shows that you’re going to like me less when I do.”

She could see the wheels turning in the minds of her colleagues. But she was right. When women ask for what they deserve, they often face social pushback—and are viewed as “bossy” or “aggressive” simply for asking. So she came up with a solution: Call out the bias before it could surface. It worked.

As I said, Sandberg should stick to her day job and stop trying to help women.

Limiting ourselves to the evidence she gives, this story is riddled with problems.

First, the good news. The director had armed herself with evidence of her competence and her merit. In the best cases, when you are applying for a job you should allow your track record to speak for itself. When you are selling a product you should let the product sell itself. If you are too aggressive most people will understand that your track record is deficient or that the product cannot sell itself.

Second, the not-so-good news. No one “deserves” to direct a movie. It is not a question of getting what one deserves. The woman was competing against other directors, who may or may not have been right for the job. She might have had the right sensibility. The other directors might have been incompetent. Why would you say that any of the other candidates were less deserving?

Third, the bad news. Anyone who walks into a meeting and announces that she is going to negotiate does not know how to negotiate. The woman sounds like a child playing with a new toy. Even if she gets the job, she will almost certainly not get as good a deal as she would have if she knew what she was doing.

I am sure that Sandberg knows how to do it herself, but the example she offers is simply bad negotiation tactics. The woman was abrupt and confrontational, aggressive to the point of being hostile. Apparently, she had learned a new trick from the behavioral economists—saying that they are not going to like it. This might work on some occasions. Almost anything works sometimes. But, it certainly does not work on all occasions. It is a bluff. It is posturing. As soon as the world learns to recognize it for what it is, it will fail.

We do not know whether the woman got the job because she was the best director available, because she obnoxious and assertive or whether she got the job despite her evident character flaws. One emphasizes that getting the job is not the same as doing the job. One wonders how these character traits will help or hurt her ability to do the job.

Fourth, Sandberg believes that when women ask what they deserve, they often face pushback. Again, the concept of what women deserve is a conceptual mistake. Since Sandberg has no control of her concept she does not understand that leaning in is, literally, posturing. It is macho posturing. It is bad enough when men do it but it is absurd when women do it. You do not bluff when your opponent can see your hand.

Asking for what you deserve is not the same as showing what you have done and what you can do. It seems like a demand. Sometimes it works; sometimes it does not work. If you are going to make demands, you do better to have some leverage. But even if your services are in high demand you do well to present your producers with an option and to allow them to feel that they are not being asked to bend over and to submit to your demands.

If you make someone feel that he has to submit to you, he will also feel that he needs to retaliate. It does not create a congenial work environment.

Sandberg does not understand the most elementary reason why women tend not to be confrontational, tend not to get in peoples’ faces, and prefer not to lean in. It has nothing to do with sexism but is instinctive behavior that has been hard wired into the female brain by evolution. It would not have taken too much intelligence to have figured out that over the millennia, certain behaviors lead to lower survival rates. Women who were more confrontational were less likely to survive.

This means that leaning is does not come naturally to women. It will always seem forced and fake. It is a bad negotiating tactic. It is just setting women up for failure. Of course, it produces pushback. Any time anyone gets in your face you are going to push pack. A woman will be lucky if that’s all it produces.

As a general rule, women, more than men, are likely to feel that they are not masters of the game of business. Often they simply need some guidance about how the game is played and how they can best function within the game. They need to learn how to gain the best advantage by using the talents and skills that they do have. Pretending to be a man simply does not cut it. It makes women look fake, like they are posturing.

Finally, women often have complex lives. They have more to do than to sabotage their careers by living out feminist psychodramas in the workplace. They have homes and families and want to continue to have homes and families. If they adopt a more assertive pose in the workplace they are more likely to use it in their personal relationships. And, as far as most men are concerned, a woman who leans in is not a woman they want to marry. A woman who leans in is not going to receive pushback. She will be ignored.

As a tactic, leaning in is bad for women. It is bad on the job and is bad in their private lives. Tell me why so many women think it’s such a good idea.

As for Sandberg’s constant complaint about how women do not have as many executive positions as men, has it ever crossed her brain that many women do not want to have such positions. They do not want to become like men or to pretend to be men. They might not want to do what is necessary to climb the corporate ladder. They know that career success is not good for their marriages. They might want to spend more time with their children. If Sandberg does not, that’s her choice. But, she has no right to play Pied Piper and to lead women toward a life that will not be anything like what they want.

With any luck women will assert their own good judgment by pushing back at Sheryl Sandberg.

Obama's Pusillanimous Fecklessness

President Obama is using his last months in office to take a few victory laps. He is confident that he has won the war he wanted to fight: the war against Republicans. And he has martialed his troops to fight the good fight against racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, transphobia, white privilege and white police officers.

As for defending America’s interests in the world, Obama has been AWOL. He seems to believe that surrender is more noble than victory or engagement. As for standing up to an increasingly emboldened and aggressive Vladimir Putin, Obama has never had the stomach for the fight.

The Daily Beast reports on the administration policy: pusillanimous fecklessness:

There is an unspoken understanding within the administration that despite the many provocations Russia has carried out in Syria, there will be no major American response, a position that increasingly is drawing the ire of top national security officials, three U.S. officials told The Daily Beast.

And also:

Adding to these officials’ frustration is that Russia’s aggression isn’t just contained to Syria. There is mounting evidence that Russia has been behind aseries of computer hacks that intelligence officials believe are designed to meddle with U.S. elections in November.

Officials said they feared that the White House’s inaction could devolve into acquiescence in Syria, in Ukraine, and in cyberspace. On Wednesday, Syria’s ambassador to the United Nations reportedly laughed when asked about the hospital attack.

Obama has systematically diminished America’s standing in the world. He has weakened the nation and empowered its opponents and its enemies:

“Of course we are concerned about how far Russia will go,” one U.S. official explained to The Daily Beast. “And just as worrisome is what this is doing to U.S. credibility.”

Obviously, no one believed that John Kerry had negotiated a real ceasefire in Syria. The Russians were playing with him. Putin has been treating him and the president he works for as wind-up dolls:

In the last 10 days, since the collapse of the latest ceasefire in Syria, Russia and Syria have mounted what residents call their most aggressive air campaign to date to reclaim Aleppo from opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Should the regime, with Russian help, take the city, it would be a major psychological and tactical victory for the Assad regime.

Members of the U.S. intelligence community are concerned about the implications of seemingly abandoning the opposition forces it backed in Syria, these officials said.

Call it the Obama legacy. We have not yet begun to pay the real price for this failure

Apocalypse Pending

In a new and brilliant essay “After the Republic” Angelo Codevilla (via Maggie's Farm) offers up some signs of what Camille Paglia called cultural collapse. Or, are they omens foretelling the pending Apocalypse?

For all I know it might just be the Age of Obama.

We have gone beyond what Allan Bloom called “the closing of the American mind.” Today, the American mind is completely shut down.

Codevilla writes:

Who, a generation ago, could have guessed that careers and social standing could be ruined by stating the fact that the paramount influence on the earth’s climate is the sun, that its output of energy varies and with it the climate? Who, a decade ago, could have predicted that stating that marriage is the union of a man and a woman would be treated as a culpable sociopathy, or just yesterday that refusing to let certifiably biological men into women’s bathrooms would disqualify you from mainstream society? Or that saying that the lives of white people “matter” as much as those of blacks is evidence of racism? These strictures came about quite simply because some sectors of the ruling class felt like inflicting them on the rest of America. Insulting presumed inferiors proved to be even more important to the ruling class than the inflictions’ substance.

As I have often argued, the fault lies at the top, with the man in charge. Codevilla explains that a nation’s character can be transformed if you grant power to the wrong leader:

All ruling classes are what Shakespeare called the “makers of manners.” Plato, in The Republic, and Aristotle, in his Politics, teach that polities reflect the persons who rise to prominence within them, whose habits the people imitate, and who set the tone of life in them. Thus a polity can change as thoroughly as a chorus changes from comedy to tragedy depending on the lyrics and music. Obviously, the standards and tone of life that came from Abraham Lincoln’s Oval Office is quite opposite from what came from the same place when Bill Clinton used it. Germany under Kaiser Wilhelm was arguably the world’s most polite society. Under Hitler, it became the most murderous.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Trying to Repeal Human Nature

Speaking of obscenely wealthy executives, Sheryl Sandberg is continuing her crusade to abolish the difference between the sexes. Like her boss Mark Zuckerberg, Sandberg is an extraordinary executive. She has accomplished great things in business. Now she is using her wealth and her influence to try to repeal human nature.

Good luck with that.

And she is enormously influential. She is even advising the Department of Defense on how to make the military more gender inclusive. That the military would do better to address the question of how to win wars does not seem to have penetrated her mind. One could see her influence in a recent speech by Vice President Biden at West Point. Biden suggested that our gender diverse military had become a more fearsome fighting force… for being gender diverse.

By Biden’s cockeyed reasoning, when countries and communities throughout the history of the world sent all-male armies onto the battlefield, they were sending out inferior forces… because were afraid of the power of women. If diversity makes an army stronger, then all of those armies that resisted diversity were purposefully sending weaker forces into battle.

If you believe that, you need to be examined. That Biden and Sandberg have allowed ideology to blind them to the implications of their arguments gives us pause.

Apparently, this week is “lean in” week. The Wall Street Journal has run a number of stories about women at work. They are all trying to show how to make the workplace more gender inclusive and how to have more women in more executive positions… whether these women want to or not. I emphasize the point that not one of these studies very much cares about what women want. The gender diversity crowd wants to force women to live their lives in a way that will please feminists.

For example, the CEO of GM, Mary Barra, wants to ban after-work dinners because women with families find it difficult to attend. One notes that the people who want to impose diversity are always trying to figure out ways to run people’s businesses and lives. That these dinners might have an important work function escapes people. That the purpose of a company is to make a profit seems not to be very high on their radar. And there is no real way to prevent men from working longer and harder or from banning them from having business dinners.When do you know that a dinner is a business dinner? And how much of a tyranny to you have to impose in order to implement this absurd idea?

Of course, the leaders, and especially Sandberg, all say that a more diverse company is a more profitable company. And they have the studies to prove it. If that is true, then clearly the marketplace will solve the problem. Companies that discriminate against women and minorities will fall by the wayside when they compete against companies that are more diverse. One needs no government intervention when the marketplace will take care of the problem. Assuming, of course, that there is a problem.

John Tamny explained the issue in more cogent terms:

… if in fact women are underpaid relative to their skills just because they're women, smart owners will snap them up only to reveal through success in the marketplace why women are underpaid.

He continues:

In the real world, no truly talented person would seek coerced higher pay; instead, the skilled would reveal in the marketplace just why their pay isn't high enough through performance proving just that. In short, if women really feel they're underpaid relative to their male peers, they should express this truth in the free market.

Of course, no one pays any attention to differences between the sexes. In particular, differences in mathematical aptitude. Which might have some influence on who gets hired at Facebook.

Mark Perry reports on the aptitude gap, as manifested in SAT scores:

1. Continuing an uninterrupted trend that dates back to at least 1972, high school boys outperformed girls on the 2016 SAT math test with an average score of 524 points compared to the average score of 494 for females, see chart above. The statistically significant 30-point male advantage this year on the SAT math test is slightly below the 31-point difference last year. Compared to the average math test score of 508 for all test-takers, high school boys scored 16 points above average while girls scored 14 points below average.

2. For the 117,067 students with SAT math scores in the highest 700-800 point range, high school boys represented 61.5% of those students (71,999) and the 45,068 girls in that group were 38.5% of the total. Stated differently, there were nearly 160 boys with SAT math scores between 700-800 points for every 100 girls with scores in that range. For the next highest 100-point range between 600-700 points for the 2016 SAT math test, there were about 120.4 boys with scores in that range for every 100 high school girls (54.6% boys vs. 45.4% girls).

And this before we even consider that many women simply do not want to become the CEO or the COO. Do any of these studies even consider what women want, the way they want to conduct their lives and their understanding of the price of great career success? In the first place, all women know that the more powerful a woman is in the business world the less attractive she is to men. With men the opposite pertains: the more powerful a man is in business the more attractive he is to women.

None of the seminars on diversity considers the possibility that the habits a woman develops to rise up the corporate ladder will be a detriment in the world of relationships. And let’s not forget that working long hours will often make it more difficult for young women to have children. Ask some of the hard-charging women in Silicon Valley if you don't believe me.

Moreover, being a good mother requires a considerable amount of time and effort and energy. Some women choose to be less than good mothers because they want to work all the time. Many women choose to fulfill their responsibilities to their children, even if that means a less stellar career.

Besides, you certainly know by now that the high tech firms in Silicon Valley are anything but models for diversity. They are largely run by white and Asian males.  Recently, Facebook decided it was going to do something about this gross injustice. Led by Sandberg the company offered its recruiters bonuses for finding more diverse new hires.

The initiative failed. The overlooked talent did not exist. The notion that they had been discriminating against women and minorities was a mirage.

The spate of new studies, led by McKinsey, seems to be reinventing the wheel. It has discovered that men and women are different, that they have different experiences of the workplace. Fancy that.

Men and women work side by side, tackling the same business problems, sitting through the same meetings and walking the same hallways.

But a new study on working women suggests that the common ground ends there. Men and women experience very different workplaces, ones in which the odds for advancement vary widely and corporate careers come in two flavors: his and hers.

Data show that men win more promotions, more challenging assignments and more access to top leaders than women do. Men are more likely than women to feel confident they are en route to an executive role, and feel more strongly that their employer rewards merit.

Women, meanwhile, perceive a steeper trek to the top. Less than half feel that promotions are awarded fairly or that the best opportunities go to the most-deserving employees. A significant share of women say that gender has been a factor in missed raises and promotions. Even more believe that their gender will make it harder for them to advance in the future—a sentiment most strongly felt by women at senior levels.

You might call this sexism. You might call this discrimination. Or you might call it human nature and consider all of the other factors that enter the equation.

One thing is certain. If you think that the difference between the sexes is caused by sexism you are going to create a hostile work environment and a hostile cultural environment. You will be declaring war against human nature. That is one war you are not going to win.

[Addendum: Yesterday at a Town Hall meeting in Virginia a woman officer posed this question of her Commander in Chief:

CAPTAIN LAUREN SERRANO:   Good afternoon, Mr. President.  A study by the Marine Corps revealed that mixed gender combat units performed notably worse and that women suffered staggeringly higher rates of injury.  Just one of those statistics showed that mixed gender units took up to 159 percent longer to evacuate a casualty than all-male units. As the wife of a Marine who deploys to combat often, that added time can mean the difference between my husband living or dying. Why were these tangible negative consequences disregarded and how does the integration of women positively enhance the infantry mission and make me and my husband safer?]

Zuckerberg's God Delusion

Limitless wealth is not very good for your mind. Especially, if you earned that wealth at Facebook.

Precisely why people who have achieved such great success should want to look like fools defies reason.

Facebook CEO Zuckerberg, fresh off of his maternity leave, has announced that he and his wife will now use his wealth to rid the world of disease. As the poet said: “Death, thou shalt die.”

Katie Hopkins had the story at the Daily Mail:

Looking like two humanoids from a snazzy Artificial Intelligence launch, Zuckerberg and Chan announced their plan to 'cure, prevent or manage all human disease by the end of the century'.

She continues:

All these tech geeks, from whatever their starting point on the autistic spectrum, are competing to see who is the greatest of them all. Who will defeat their ultimate adversary, death, by being remembered for all time.

Getting down to earth Hopkins notes that the Zuckerberg-Chan contribution of $3,000,000,000 (over ten years) is merely one tenth of what the National Institutes of Health spends in ONE year.

Vanity anyone?

Call it the wages of guilt, but, however admirable the sentiment, it’s a minor contribution to a major effort, one that is being undertaken throughout the world by physicians, pharmaceutical companies and foundations. The money expended on this effort positively dwarfs the Zuckerberg contribution.

Hopkins says that Zuckerberg and several tech oligarchs have a God delusion. Having conquered cyberspace they are looking for new worlds to conquer. Or else they are trying to do penance for their outsized fortunes. Better to give it away before someone decides to take it away. We are assured that they are voting for the people who would be most apt to try to take it away.

They might consider that pride goeth before a fall. A little bit of humility would do them all very well.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Case Against Hillary

In Monday’s presidential debate Hillary Clinton touted her record as Secretary of State. Apparently, she accumulated large numbers of frequent flier miles.

If Donald Trump had prepared for the debate or even for the election campaign he would have known enough to attack the Clinton foreign policy record. To the evident dismay of his supporters, he did not. Clinton got a pass from tough guy Donald. In effect, he made her look competent and in charge. It was not his finest hour.

You cannot attack the Clinton record without having a command of the details. And you cannot have a command of the details by simply doing what the Donald recommended in The Art of the Deal: going with your gut.

Today, Betsy McCaughey lays out the case against Hillary in a newspaper column. For all her bravado and posturing on the international stage, Hillary has nothing to show but worldwide calamity. Is the world better off now than it was when Hillary assumed power in the state department. As for her ability to manage the department, all reports suggest that she was incompetent. And let's note that Hillary was not the only woman in charge. She tends to surround herself with women. Some will say that this does not matter. Others will note that it probably does.

McCaughey opens with some of the Obama-Clinton team’s more salient failures:

Her failures go beyond leaving four Americans to die in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012, the ridiculous Russian “reset” and the carnage in Syria that she and President Obama idly watched unfold — and that gets more horrific daily.

She might have added the invasion of Libya, the inability to do anything about China’s advances in the South China Sea, the handling of the Arab Spring, supporting the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. And naturally, the refugee crisis that has engulfed Europe and that will eventually arrive on our shores.

For bringing more death, destruction, destitution and chaos to the world, Hillary Clinton ranks among the most incompetent American Secretaries of State.

Benghazi was obviously not an isolated case. Hillary was responsible for the security of her ambassadors. Either did not know what to do or did not care, but she outsourced security around the world. Those who were providing security were not qualified to do the job. And we did not know who they were anyway. In Benghazi, when the attack began, they simply ran away.

McCaughey writes:

Clinton’s State Department repeatedly rebuffed requests for additional security for the vulnerable compound at Benghazi, Libya. The result? Heavily armed terrorists were able to storm the compound and kill Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

But Benghazi wasn’t an isolated case. Clinton failed to secure diplomatic posts in Pakistan, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and other global hot spots. Internal State Department reports show the posts lacked emergency plans in case of attack. Guards assigned to them had no training in chemical or biological threats and, amazingly, some hadn’t undergone background checks.

When it came to cybersecurity, Hillary ignored the problem. No one should be surprised, but her gross carelessness undoubtedly compromised American security and must have cost the lives of American intelligence resources.

In McCaughey’s words:

Investigators also point to Clinton’s total neglect of cybersecurity. The Bush administration — reeling from the attack on the World Trade Center — had made it a top priority to protect information flow among embassies, the CIA and the FBI.

But Clinton dropped the ball, creating what the department’s inspector general called “undue risk in the management of information.”

In November 2013, the IG issued an alert to the State Department’s top executives about the urgent “recurring weaknesses” in cybersecurity that had been red-flagged in six previous reports between 2011 and 2013, almost all on Clinton’s watch. The “recurring weaknesses” had still not been addressed, including vulnerabilities to hackers.

One of those previous reports — from July 2013 (shortly after Clinton’s departure) — described how much of the cybersecurity work was actually being done by contractors rather than department staff, contrary to government policy.

She continues:

Rudy Giuliani said on Saturday Clinton’s use of a private e-mail service for official business was like taking “all our top-secret material and throwing it out on Fifth Avenue.”

Outrageous, but still a lesser offense than Clinton’s neglect of the entire department’s digital security — exposing communications between thousands of agents and diplomats across the globe. Even after WikiLeaks released 250,000 confidential State Department documents in 2010, Clinton didn’t plug the obvious holes in State’s cyber set-up.

When it came to managing department finances, Hillary and her team were anything but competent.

McCaughey writes:

Hillary’s management of finances at State was also slipshod, according to inspector-general reports that point to a whopping $6 billion unaccounted for during her tenure. Clinton’s chaotic mismanagement created “conditions conducive to fraud,” the IG warned, and made it harder “to punish and deter criminal behavior.” She must have felt right at home.

And, of course, Hillary remained true to form in failing to investigate sexual misconduct:

True to Clinton’s instinct to cover up problems rather than fix them, she thwarted several investigations of sexual misconduct and prostitution at State. Investigators complained of “an appearance of undue influence and favoritism.”

Surely, McCaughey is right. Clinton’s manifest incompetence at State disqualifies her for the presidency. But, someone has to make the case against her, and Donald Trump does not seem to know enough to do so.