Friday, June 22, 2018

A Word from Charles Krauthammer

A word from Charles Krauthammer (via American Digest):

Gender Deformity and the LSATs

If you were wondering why half of the country seems to have lost its mind, take a gander at this. It's from the form you have to fill out to take the LSATs. It makes the new madness about gender identity settled law. Aspiring lawyers must buy into the nation's gender deformity-- it's part of the price of admissions.

The Decline and Fall of Merkel

Given its importance for geopolitics, we have been covering the decline and fall of Angela Merkel for some time now. After all, Merkel is a remnant of what is called the liberal world order. But she was also a practitioner of the Obama-led univeralist open borders policy. I have mentioned it before, but will repeat now, those who are whining about Donald Trump’s failure to maintain good relations with the weak sisters of Western Europe and Canada do not  see that these nations have largely abrogated their claims to world leadership. With them, it's more about nostalgia than Realpolitik.

When Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal, Germany, France and England objected. They did not care about whether Iran went nuclear or was supporting terrorism. They wanted to do business with Iran. As a result, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia told Germany that it had to choose, trade with Saudi Arabia or trade with Iran. The Crown Prince proceeded to cancel contracts with Germany.

Today we read Josef Joffe, an editor at Die Zeit, in the Washington Post:

But even if Merkel makes it through this precarious summer and endures to the end of her fourth term, in 2021, she is damaged goods. Her existential problem goes far beyond the intramural political warfare. The European stage she has dominated for so long is collapsing beneath her.

The liberal world order is an Enlightenment ideal, derived, one supposes, from Immanuel Kant. It promised world government based on warm humane feelings. It stood in defiance of balance-of-powers government. It has failed over and over again and is now on life support.

Nations that seek to lead the world are not following the example set by Angela Merkel.

Nor is it just the migrants who are battering the European construction. Merkel, this benign monarch, is being shouldered aside by a new cast of leaders: Donald Trump, Russia’s Vladi­mir Putin, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan and, farther afield, China’s Xi Jinping. These characters prefer national advantage to world-order politics.

As for the European Union, it is collapsing under the weight of its own contradictions:

Closer to home, Britain is on the way out. In Italy, the anti-European populists of the left and right have grabbed power in a free election. Strongmen are running Poland and Hungary. In Austria, the far-right Freedom Party has muscled its way into the government. In much of the E.U., populist parties are scoring double-digit percentages of the vote.

One reason is that the Union has been coasting under the American defense umbrella. Now that Trump has called the bluff, alliances are starting to shift:

Europe’s cozy life under America’s strategic umbrella is turning nasty as Trump keeps growling: Pay up, or we ship out.

Of course, Merkel is doomed by her own absurd error, opening her nation to migrants, in a type of moral promiscuity:

Still, the deadliest threat to Merkel’s tenure preceded the advent of Trump. It began to close in on her in the early fall of 2015 when she opened her heart and her country to almost 1 million Muslim migrants. Determined to show Germany’s friendly face to the world, she refused to set limits. Her fans sported “Refugees Welcome” buttons.

It was virtue signaling, but it failed:

The welcome waned as the flow continued. Merkel’s fabled “Wir schaffen das” — “we can do it” — turned into the greatest miscalculation of her career. 

Nations across Europe are rejecting the Merkel model. And they are unwilling to bail her out by taking the refugee overflows:

Never has so much goodness spawned so much misfortune. Normally, embattled leaders seek refuge in foreign policy. But Merkel is running out of partners. Paris and Rome, Warsaw, Vienna and Budapest have opposed her “European solution” for three years. Sweden and Denmark reinstated border controls in 2016. In a new tripolar world, Trump would rather play with the big boys in Moscow and Beijing.

Joffe’s concludes, on a note that I have been sounding:

As the United States, Russia and China are recasting global politics, Europe, with an economy as large as America’s, has been demoted to a two-bit player. “Defensive nationalism” — keep them out — is sweeping the E.U. and the rest of the West. Merkel is frantically trying to stem the tide. Europe should hope that she can do better than King Canute.

"Obama Administration Handed Child Migrants Over to Human Traffickers"

The information did not cause every deadhead celebrity to lose his mind, but it is certainly worth noting. And, consider the source, Eric Levitz of New York Magazine, hardly a member of the vast right wing conspiracy. The story was published in January, 2016.

How quickly we forget, especially when remembering gets in the way of our most fanatical beliefs.

Levitz reported on the result of a Senate investigation of Obama administration policy toward child migrants. Apparently, it was handing some of them over to human traffickers:

The United States government placed an unknown number of Central American migrant children into the custody of human traffickers after neglecting to run the most basic checks on these so-called “caregivers,” according to a Senate report released on Thursday.

In the fall of 2013, tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors traveled to the U.S. southern border, in flight from poverty and gang violence in Central America. At least six of those children were eventually resettled on an egg farm in Marion, Ohio, where their sponsors forced them to work 12 hours a day under threats of death. Local law enforcement uncovered the operation last year, prompting the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations to open an inquiry into the federal government’s handling of migrants.

As it happened, the images of tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors crossing the border with impunity, reinforced by similar images from Germany less than two years later, gave is the Trump presidency.
Is this anecdotal or indicative?

“It is intolerable that human trafficking — modern-day slavery — could occur in our own backyard,” Senator Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio and the chairman of the subcommittee, told the New York Times. “But what makes the Marion cases even more alarming is that a U.S. government agency was responsible for delivering some of the victims into the hands of their abusers.”

It need not have been intentional. It could merely have been an example of basic, fundamental government incompetence:

As detention centers became incapable of housing the massive influx of migrants, the Department of Health and Human Services started placing children into the care of sponsors who would oversee the minors until their bids for refugee status could be reviewed. But in many cases, officials failed to confirm whether the adults volunteering for this task were actually relatives or good Samaritans — and not unscrupulous egg farmers or child molesters. The department performed check-in visits at caretakers’ homes in only 5 percent of cases between 2013 and 2015, according to the report.

And finally,

The agency placed 90,000 migrant children into sponsor care between 2013 and 2015. Exactly how many of those fell prey to traffickers is unknown, because the agency does not keep track.

Have We Reached Peak Insanity?

Over at the Powerline blog John Hinderaker writes that we have reached peak political insanity. One would be hard put to disagree:

Over the last few days we have reached peak insanity, especially on Twitter. I can’t begin to recount all of the outrages. Apart from the whole nonsense at the Southern border that dominated the news, we had Peter Fonda, a former actor who was washed up decades ago, threatening Barron Trump to the extent that Melania Trump referred him to the Secret Service. We had a gang of socialists accosting Homeland Security Security Kirstjen Nielsen while she was eating dinner in a restaurant, and much more.

One member of the gang of socialists works at the Justice Department. Why does she still have her job? As long as these new Brown Shirts and Red Guards go unpunished, they will believe that their cause is righteous. Be clear that theirs are the tactics perfected by the Nazi Storm Troopers and Mao’s Red Guards.

These demonstrators and defamers are not liberals. They are radical zealots, the sort that are perfectly well described as fascists. They are running a domestic insurgency, like the French Resistance. As you know, the French Resistance was essentially a disloyal opposition.

Why are they fighting against Trump? They are continuing the Obama legacy of turning America's power against Americans, of refusing to fight Islamist terrorism but to tear the country apart over thought crimes. The Obama policy agenda might have turned to dust, but the Obama cultural legacy is alive and well.

They defy the most basic democratic norm, that being, respecting the winner of a fair election. And they will do everything in their power who supports the Incarnate Devil that is Donald Trump.

Liberals try to rule any support for President Trump out of bounds. Anyone who expresses even the mildest support for Trump is read out of polite society. He is shunned; he should be fired from his job; if he writes anything, it shouldn’t be printed; he is publicly denounced and inundated with hate; his home, in some instances, is besieged and his children terrorized. If he ventures out into public, he is harassed by bullies.

They do not care that Perhaps Trump won the election. These new fascists will do everything in their power—beginning by destroying the lives of those who work for him—to ensure that he cannot govern. As always, the press does not care.

And it is evil. It is incompatible with democracy or any kind of civil society. And, above all, it is completely crazy. After all, Donald Trump won the election. Donald Trump is the President of the United States. Liberals are trying to dictate, through mob rule and control over the press, that any support for the President of the United States is unacceptable and, if at all possible, career ending.

Hinderaker suggests that conservatives employ the same tactics on these radical zealots. It is not very kind of suggest it, but, in truth, it is inevitable that people on the political adopt the same tactics. After all, the leftist attack on conservatives does not date to yesterday. Many conservatives voted for Donald Trump precisely because they believed that he could match the left's bullying tactics.

Is Caffeine a Wonder Drug?

Time and experience have taught us to be skeptical over the latest news from the world of healthy eating. Remember when eggs and butter were going to kill you? Remember when a diet of grass and twigs was going to save your life.

So, the following news, deriving from a study of mouse circulatory systems, should be taken with a grain of skepticism. I post if for the amusement value.

It’s good news for coffee drinkers. It turns out that drinking four cups of coffee a day will protect and repair heart muscles, especially for retirees.

Naturally, we find this news in The Daily Mail.

Pensioners should drink four cups of coffee a day to protect and repair their heart muscle, research suggests.

Levels of caffeine, equivalent to drinking four cups of coffee, could help to protect healthy blood vessels and repair the heart after a heart attack, a study claims.

The stimulant boosts a protein known to be important in regenerating heart cells, and which could also protect them from damage.

Caffeine is thought to lower the risk for diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and stroke, but the reasons for this are not well understood.

German researchers now think caffeine may make cells which line the arteries and veins healthier, improving their ability to resist or recover from damage.

The scientists say their findings 'should lead to better strategies for protecting heart muscle', and another expert called the results 'very interesting'.

They suggest caffeine could particularly benefit elderly people, whose hearts may be naturally weaker and more at risk of damage.

It turns out that caffeine is a wonder drug:

Research by Heinrich-Heine-University and the IUF-Leibniz Research Institute for Environmental Medicine in Dusseldorf, Germany, discovered the health-boosting effects of caffeine on heart cells.

They found the drug – which is also found in tea and soft drinks like Coca Cola – improves the function of cells lining the heart and blood vessels.

It does this by encouraging the movement of a vital protein – called p27 – into the cells. 

Caffeine also strengthens mitochondria, which give cells their energy, so they are more able to keep cells healthy and protect them, the study says.

Caffeine protects the hearts of ageing, pre-diabetic and obese mice.

The research, done on mice, showed caffeine protected the hearts of pre-diabetic, obese and old mice.

The researchers suggest it could offer the same benefits to elderly people, whose hearts are more at risk of damage and may have weaker cells. 

Thursday, June 21, 2018

How Are Things at Starbucks?

Now that it has touted itself as a leader in the social justice wars against white supremacy, Starbucks is having problems. We will refrain from defining cause and effect, but Starbucks stock tanked yesterday when it announced that it was closing 150 stores next year. Retrenchment must be the correct word.

The other correct term is: the price of virtue signaling. The Washington Times has the story:

Starbucks may have appeased progressives with its social-justice workshops and open-bathroom policy, but such moves have failed to caffeinate the company’s bottom line.

The coffee giant’s stock took a tumble Wednesday after CEO Kevin Johnson announced that Starbucks would close 150 company-owned stores next year instead of the expected 50, with an emphasis on underperforming shops in densely populated urban areas, and lowered growth projections.

Did the company’s open embrace of social justice lead to the shutdowns? Apparently, it did.

The Wash Times explains:

Mr. Johnson acknowledged that the decision to shut down 8,000 U.S. stores on May 29 for anti-bias training, driven by the high-profile arrests of two black men in Philadelphia, played a role in the company’s sluggish second-quarter performance.

“In this current quarter, certainly we had an unplanned initiative driven out of the Philadelphia incident, we closed all our stores for training, we had to delay some marketing, but none of that is an excuse,” Mr. Johnson told CNBC. “The fact is the way I think about a growth company at scale is we’ve got to deliver consistent growth, month after month, quarter after quarter, and year after year. And we have not done that.”

In response, Starbucks announced steps to streamline the company and increase its agility by “accelerating product innovation,” “leveraging the growing tea and refreshment category,” and responding to trends toward “health and wellness.”

Now the company is adding a tea business to its coffee business. Surely, that will do the trick. After all, tea is made from leaves. Thus it is greener that coffee. Frankly, I recommend that people cease doing business with a company that thinks its goal in life is to promote social justice. As for shareholders, forewarned is forearmed.