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.

Should Revenge Porn Be Outlawed?


You would think that the issue is not controversial. After all, who among us can possibly favor revenge porn? Who among us would not like to see those who share compromising photos of former loves be punished?

In truth, the major opponent of New York State’s revenge porn bill was none other than Google? Perhaps it wanted to strike a blow for gender equity. Perhaps it does not care about the young women who are public humiliated by these photos?

When the NY state legislature readied itself to consider an anti-revenge porn bill, Google stepped in and lobbied against it. On the grounds that such laws would restrict its ability to monitor content. Of course, revenge porn constitutes an assault, so we can only wonder how Google made it a corporate freedom issue.

The Daily Beast explained:

New York state’s revenge-porn bill—which would have made nonconsensual sharing of sexual images punishable by jail time—died early Thursday morning following a last-ditch campaign by Google. The state senate adjourned for the year and took no action on the proposal, which was introduced in 2013 and recently taken up again after a campaign by the New York Post. The bill would have made it possible to give those found guilty of the crime as much as a year in prison and would have helped victims force internet hosts into removing the images. Google staged a late effort against the bill, saying it was opposed to government oversight on how it regulates content. 

Winners and Losers in the Singapore Summit


Apparently, the Trump-Kim Singapore summit was a success. Otherwise, why would the media be filled with horrifying images of refugee children. The derangement and the hysteria are palpable. For those simpletons who cannot think past the argumentum ad Hitlerum, the Trump policy of dividing families that entered the country illegally smacks of concentration camps and crematoria. 

Naturally, Trump’s detractors do not accept that the president accomplished anything significant in Singapore. Over 80% of the people of South Korea think that he did. Since they have skin in the game, we should take their view seriously. On this side of the world, the hatred of Trump is so completely over the top that the vast majority of comments, whether from legislators, political leaders, columnists and even corporate chieftains has been decidedly negative.

Thus, for your edification, I draw attention to an article in the highly esteemed journal Foreign Affairs. Chung-in Moon explains that the Singapore summit was a success for all involved. For the record he is a South Korean foreign policy expert who works with president Moon Jae-in. I will not detail all the arguments, but will limit myself to a salient quotation:

In a war there are losers and winners but in diplomacy there are rarely black-and-white outcomes. Rather than keeping score, the goal is to find acceptable compromises for both sides. Although there might be differences in relative gains, diplomatic negotiation usually entails an imperfect win-win outcome. That was the case with the Singapore summit. The United States was assured that North Korea is committed to complete denuclearization, while the North was assured of a new relationship with the United States and a security guarantee. South Korea was also a beneficiary of the summit, because the Singapore declaration explicitly reaffirmed the April 2018 Panmunjom Declaration between Seoul and Pyongyang regarding denuclearization and the building of a peace regime. So, too, was China a winner, because its proposal for a “double suspension” of both North Korea’s nuclear and missile activities and U.S. military exercises with South Korea, and the dual-track approach to denuclearization and a peace regime, were all reflected in the signed statement and post-summit announcements. In short, there were no losers in Singapore, which is quite an accomplishment.

Quite an accomplishment….

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The Case of the Bad Friend


As often happens in Ask Polly columns we do not know enough about the letter writer to offer an intelligent, well-reasoned response. This never deters Polly herself, because she prefers running off at length about herself… about which she thinks she knows a great deal.

Today’s letter writer, Bad Friend, is wondering whether she is an asshole. She has many friends and seems to be likeable and outgoing. Yet, she does not to make plans to see her friends. She wants to be alone. Apparently, she has a Greta Garbo complex and wants to be left alone.

As it happens, she is married to a woman, with whom she presumably lives. Whether her spouse, who plays the extrovert to her introvert, leaves her alone… we do not know. Extroverts are not known for leaving you alone.

The writer merely wants to do her work, but we do not know what her work is. All we know is that she does not like to make plans.

We would love to know whether she has always avoided making plans or whether she used to make plans, only to have people cancel on her. Obviously, the point is relevant. We do not know anything about it. Bad Friend seems to think that she possesses a character flaw. She ends her letter by saying that maybe she is just an asshole.

Here are some excerpts from the letter:

I love my friends. I know I’m fortunate to have people in my life whom I care about. Most of the time when we hang out, it’s fun. My secret is: I never want to see them.

Here’s how it goes: A friend texts me “Dinner Tuesday?” but Tuesday doesn’t work for me, so it turns into a spiral of scheduling that slowly sucks my lifeblood away, takes me to a dark and twisty GCal hell, and makes me wish I never met this person in the first place. I wish there were a way to say “I like you, but I do not want to make a plan with you. I don’t want to do it Tuesday, I don’t want to do it a week from Tuesday or a month from Tuesday. I want to continue to be friends and not make plans with you.”

When I get a text or an email from a friend asking me to get together my stomach drops. Not because I hate them, but because I don’t want to make a plan. Once someone suggests a Plan, you’re hooked: I can’t say “No” without suggesting another date, I can’t suggest another date without triggering a scheduling vortex, then I look ahead at my calendar and it’s all booked up with Plans with people I don’t even really want to see, and I can’t do my favorite thing, which is to be alone….

I don’t want to lose friendships. I just don’t want to have to be watering them, constantly making plans, in a state of constant social activity. I just want to exist without disappointing anybody. I want to love people but not contort myself to satisfy their arbitrary and inflated expectations of what a “social life” is.

Am I an awful person? How do I manage others’ expectations of me? Most important: How do I say no to drinks without offering an alternate date for drinks? How do I say “Can we not make this plan?” without sounding like an asshole? Or am I an asshole? Should I just accept that I’m an asshole?

Actually, she is an awful person. Or, at least, she is acting like one. We will consider her an awful person until we know more about how reliable her friends are. Conducting friendships and having a social life inevitably involves making plans and coordinating schedules. So does doing a job. Living with another human involves developing couples routines, a division of household labor, and extensive cooperation. If you are living with another person and are marching to  your own drum, you have a problem. And your relationship is in trouble.

Naturally, Polly feels oodles of empathy for Bad Friend. It beats analyzing the issue and groping toward a solution. Polly’s non solution is to be open and honest with her friends, to tell them that she hates to make plans, because they are far less important than her personal solipsistic Self. As Bad Friend knows, and as Polly does not seem to know, if she follows this course of action she will quickly find herself with fewer friends.

I have no real sympathy with someone who is likeable, who is friendly with other people, and who consistently disappoints them by refusing to make plans. 

Yet, you might have noticed that she is living in a one-directional world, where people reach out to her and she refuses to reach back. That is, she rejects their advances. One imagines that some kind of trauma is involved, because refusing to make plans is not normal.

How can she solve this problem, which is an extreme form of social anxiety? How about reaching out to some of these people, becoming the person who is initiating contact rather than the person who feels put upon by people who want to spend some time with her. It beats her current solution: serendipity and a throw of the dice. Someone who does not  want to make places to see friends is, properly speaking, a bad friend.

Today's Gender Neutral Navy


One is not sure what to make of this, so I will report it as written. An anonymous individual wrote to Robert Stacy McCain, author of a blog called The Other McCain to explain what happened when the U.S.S. Fitzgerald was hit by a Philippine container ship in June, 2017. (Via Instapundit) Seven sailors lost their lives in the accident.

The captain and two admirals were held responsible, but press reports failed to remark on the officers in charge at the time of the accident. Why do you suppose that that is?

Well, here are some excerpts from the letter:

… it was noteworthy that the captain and a couple of admirals were publically named, but not the actual officer in charge, the officer of the deck. (OOD) The other person who should have kept the Fitz out of trouble is the person in charge of the combat information center, the Tactical Action Officer. That individual is supposed to be monitoring the combat radar, which can detect a swimmer at a distance of two miles. 

Why were the OOD and the TAO not named?

The OOD was named Sarah, and the Tactical Action Officer was named Natalie, and they weren’t speaking to each other!!! The Tactical Action Officer would normally be in near constant communication with the OOD, but there is no record of any communication between them that entire shift! 

Another fun fact: In the Navy that won WWII, the damage control officers were usually some of the biggest and strongest men aboard, able to close hatches, shore up damaged areas with timbers, etc. The Fitz’s damage control officer was also a woman, and she never left the bridge. She handled the aftermath of the accident remotely, without lifting a finger herself! 

Look it up: The OOD was Sarah Coppock, Tactical Action Officer was Natalie Combs.

What did the Navy investigation conclude?


In an 11-hour hearing, prosecutors painted a picture of Lt. Irian Woodley, the ship’s surface warfare coordinator, and Lt. Natalie Combs, the tactical action officer, as failing at their jobs, not using the tools at their disposal properly and not communicating adequately. They became complacent with faulty equipment and did not seek to get it fixed, and they failed to communicate with the bridge, the prosecution argued. Had they done those things, the government contended, they would have been able to avert the collision.

Is there a deeper meaning? Does it have anything to do with diversity quotas?

That three of the officers — Coppock, Combs and Woodley — involved in this incident were all female suggests that discipline and training standards have been lowered for the sake of “gender integration,” which was a major policy push at the Pentagon during the Obama administration. It may be that senior officers, knowing their promotions may hinge on tenthusiastic support for “gender integration,” are reluctant to enforce standards for the women under their command.

Now that we know what happened and why it happened, we would also like to know whether the Navy has changed policy. Don’t count on it.

We note that the story has been carefully covered up by all media outlets.

A Blow for Human Rights


The big secret about the United Nations Human Rights Council is that it does not care about human rights. Those who are bemoaning America’s exit from the council are so simple minded that they believe America is no longer interested in promoting human rights.

What is the UN Human Rights Council? It’s a cabal containing some of the world’s worst human rights abusers. It is mostly concerned with attacking Israel and, by proxy, the United States. If you believe that American should continue to be part of the council, you are countenancing an organization that promotes worldwide anti-Semitism.

Imagining that the UN HRC promotes or advances human rights is absurd to the point of being risible.

Yesterday, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley announced America’s withdrawal at the State Department, in the company of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. For those who care about symbolism and the like, the structure of the announcement showed that Haley was not a lone ranger: she was acting in accord with State Department policy.

Pompeo had a few choice words of his own:

Mr. Pompeo said the Council had a poor record of defending human rights and criticized it for allowing some of the world’s worst offenders, including Iran and Venezuela, to remain as members.

“The Council has failed in its stated objective,” Mr. Pompeo said, calling it an “exercise in shameless hypocrisy.”

And also:

On Tuesday, Mr. Pompeo used the same terms to criticize the U.N. body. “The Council’s continued and well documented bias against Israel is unconscionable,” he said.

As for Nikki Haley, she said:

Ms. Haley called it a “hypocritical and self-serving” organization that protects rights abusers, and a “cesspool of political bias.”

She continued:

Ms. Haley has spoken out frequently against the U.N. Human Rights Council and on Tuesday denounced what she called its “chronic bias against Israel.” Ms. Haley complained that the Council has issued more resolutions condemning Israel than North Korea, Iran and Syria combined.

The New York Times offered this in a news story:

It was the first time a member has voluntarily left the United Nations Human Rights Council. The United States now joins Iran, North Korea and Eritrea as the only countries that refuse to participate in the council’s meetings and deliberations.

Thereby it is suggesting that the United States is joining tyrants and despots in rejecting the noble cause of human rights. In truth, as the Times also noticed, the Trump administration is refusing to collude with and to legitimate an organization that systematically persecutes Israel, that holds it up to opprobrium for no reason other than pure bigotry.

One might say that the United States just struck a blow against the oldest of bigotries. Naturally, those who pretend to support human rights are appalled.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The End of the ACLU


In a recent article Alan Dershowitz, former board member of the American Civil Liberties Union decries the radicalization of that organization. No longer willing to promote civil liberties, it has transformed itself into a political advocacy group, promoting leftist policies and candidates.

Dershowitz writes:

The director of the American Civil Liberties Union has now acknowledged what should have been obvious to everybody over the past several years: that the ACLU is no longer a neutral defender of everyone’s civil liberties; it has morphed into a hyper-partisan, hard-left political advocacy group. The final nail in its coffin was the announcement that for the first time in its history the ACLU would become involved in partisan electoral politics, supporting candidates, referenda and other agenda-driven political goals.

Why has it happened?

If you want to know the reason for this shift, just follow the money. ACLU contributors, including some of its most generous contributors, are strong anti-Trump zealots who believe that the end (getting rid of Trump) justifies any means (including denying Trump and his associates core civil liberties and due process).

When the Trump administration seems to deny civil liberties the ACLU ought rightly to criticize it Yet, the ACLU has become an extremist organization whose purpose is to end the Trump presidency.

Trump himself has denied fundamental civil liberties by his immigration policies, his attitude and actions regarding the press, and his calls for criminal investigations of his political enemies. The ACLU will criticize those actions as it should. But the Trump presidency has also pushed the ACLU further to the left and into partisan politics. President Trump is so despised by contributors to the ACLU that they have increased their contributions, but also demanded that the ACLU be on the forefront of ending the Trump presidency, either through impeachment, criminal prosecution or electoral defeat.

One cannot help but be amused and horrified by the notion that the ACLU wants to overturn the results of a fair election… in the name of liberty and democracy.