Thursday, December 14, 2017

A Steaming Pile of Human Garbage

Apparently, she does not have very high self-esteem. A letter writer who dubs herself Anxious and Lost writes to New York Magazine’s advice column, Ask Polly, to confess that she feels like a “steaming pile of human garbage.” She feels like she is a bullshitter and that she might just be bullshit. At least she feels her feelings.

Since Polly herself has mastered the art of bullshit, AL has come to the right place. Clearly, if AL had wanted to get over her tendency to bullshit and especially to whine and complain she would not have written to Polly… a kindred spirit if ever there was one.

At first glance, AL is suffering from a distinctly modern condition. It does not take too much imagination to figure out where she ever got the idea, but she believes that without a career her life is worthless. Does she need career counseling? The last time she sought it out she found it in the words of a psychic. Naturally, she followed the psychic’s advice and, would you believe, it worked out badly.

It turns out that AL has a boyfriend. She has friends and family. She says that she whines to them all the time. Might it not be better for her to stop whining to her sweet boyfriend so that perhaps he might want to marry her? Then, she might find her true calling as a wife and mother. Yes, I understand that such thoughts are anathema, but what are blogs for if not to speak the unspeakable.

Anyway, her priorities are out of whack. And she feels even worse since she has a twin sister who is an overachiever and who apparently does not spend her days and nights complaining about everything that is wrong with her life.

Want to hear AL’s version of her tale of woe? Here it is:

For most of my 20s, I dreamed about doing my Ph.D. I worked a couple of well-paying, practical office jobs that I hated, and I was miserable. I paid off my loans. I saved. Every few months, I would have an existential crisis where I would try to think of the career paths that might lead me to happiness, and every time I was convinced that doing a Ph.D. was the only way to go. I wanted someone to tell me what to do, or to give me permission to do what seemed crazy but felt right. On my 28th birthday, my wish came true. I saw a psychic who told me that I was a teacher, and I burst out laughing with relief. Finally, someone who saw me! She told me that I would be accepted to two schools to do my Ph.D. I applied to two schools and got into both.

Before proceeding, note the phrase: she is looking to find a career path that will lead her to happiness. 

In any case, I recommend that AL go easier on the scatology. It isn’t ladylike.

I do think it was important for me to try grad school for myself and realize that I hated it. But, Polly, I feel like a steaming pile of human garbage, and when I look into the future, it just feels bleak. I can’t stop comparing myself to other people my age. It feels like everyone has their shit figured out, or at least enough that they are doing jobs that don’t make them want to kill themselves and are making enough money that they can afford to pay rent, save a bit, take vacations, and do nice things for the people they love. I know comparing yourself to others is a recipe for disaster, but it’s impossible for me not to, considering I have an identical twin sister (whom I love and am very close to) who has never been unemployed, never made a wrong career move, and makes more money than I can ever imagine earning. I’ve gone back to work part time at a service-industry job, but I’m only getting two shifts a week and I’m terrified of what the next few months will look like. I feel like an infant. I had no backup plan. I had grad school on a pedestal for so long that I don’t know how to imagine anything else.

As one reads this, one gets the impression that AL is out there on her own, detached from other people, living a solitary life. As it happens, she has a boyfriend… so we are puzzled to hear her whining about how she seems to want to do it all by herself.

I don’t know how to get rid of this belief that other people can see me better than I see myself. My whole life I’ve just wanted people to tell me who I am and what I should do. I just want to be at the part where I don’t have to worry anymore. I want the career that feels life-affirming. I want to be financially comfortable. I want to have disposable income again so I can take piano lessons or a writing class. I want to love myself and be healed from my stupid traumatic upbringing. I want to settle down. Going through the mess of figuring it all out just feels exhausting and unfair. I thought I would have had it all sorted out by now. I don’t know how much more uncertainty my self-esteem can endure.

This paragraph tells us that she has done too much therapy. In truth, as research, especially that of Tasha Eurich, has pointed out, other people always see us more clearly than we see ourselves.

One can question precisely how traumatic her upbringing was, since her twin sister does not seem to have suffered from it. Anyway, the paragraph is pure psychobabble. One suspects that her anguish and despair have been fostered, if not produced, by a dumbass therapist.

Naturally, AL’s friends are trying to help her out. They recommend that she regress to her girlhood and ask what she liked doing at the time. It feels like good advice, but it’s really bad advice. Still, Polly lights on it and sees AL as a creative, emotional person who loves beauty. AL does not know what to do with her love of beauty, and Polly will tell her to become an artist or something. In truth, if you love beauty you can also go to work in a flower shop, but I digress.

Anyway, here’s the rest of the letter:

Recently someone close to me asked me what I liked doing when I was a kid. The things that really mattered to me then still really matter to me now: books, music, and art. I think I’m obsessed with beauty, and I think there’s something there. But how do I turn that into … well, anything? My résumé is a fucking mess. I have no experience being paid to do the things I care about. I don’t even make time for them as hobbies anymore, not even with all the free time I have since dropping out of school. Lately, I’ve been considering going back to school to become a therapist, but the thought of spending more money on school makes me feel queasy. And the question of which jobs to work while I save up to be able to do that just makes me feel like crawling into bed and sleeping for six months. I feel bad for still not having my shit together. I feel bad for my sweet boyfriend, who has to put up with me, and for my family and friends, who have listened to me whine incessantly for YEARS about how every job sucks and then had to listen to me gush for a year about how grad school was going to save me, only to have to watch me go through the crisis of realizing that that was also bullshit. What do I do now that everything feels like bullshit? What if all of this means that I’m bullshit?

Telling this woman to enter into a creative field is genuinely bad advice. It’s what you would expect from Polly. The therapy world has persuaded far too many people that they should become artists. It is extremely difficult to have a career as an artist. Better to work in a flower shop.

Yet, the one question that AL is not asking is the only real question that she should be asking. You may recall, or perhaps you do not, that famed management consultant Peter Drucker wrote a pamphlet called Managing Oneself. It offers serious guidance to young people who are looking for career success.  In many corners of the therapy world it should be required reading.

What does Drucker say? He does not tell people to agonize over finding their passion. He does not tell them to find out what they really, really want to do. As AL points out so clearly, that approach leads nowhere. Instead, Drucker recommends that people ask themselves what they are good at, where their talent lies. Good question that. You gain more satisfaction from having greater success. And you achieve greater success if you are pursuing a career in something that you are good at.

Interestingly, if you want to find out what you are good at, you should not search your soul. You should look at your relative performance, on different activities. You should ask yourself what other people have told you about what you are good at. You see, it’s all in other people. They see you more clearly than you see yourself. And they know what you are really good at better than you do.

Rationing Health Care in Great Britain

One recalls the evening of November 8, 2016 when famed prognosticator Paul Krugman assured us that the stock market, which had reacted to the Trump election victory by falling precipitously, would never recover.

Being a Nobel prize-winning economist means never having to admit you are wrong.

I probably do not need to remind you that the same Krugman assured us, during the Obamacare debate in 2010 that we should all adopt the British National Health Service model… and that the horror stories about it were all lies.

Well, here we go again. The Times of London reports that the head of Britain’s NHS has announced that there will be more rationing of health care and further delays before receiving non-emergency surgery. In fact, physicians will refuse to treat many conditions that they consider minor… like indigestion. Apparently, funds are so tight that the NHS bureaucrats failed to notice that sometimes indigestion can be a sign of something worse. And, it will no longer treat hearing loss… which again can signal something worse. And the NHS will no longer treat coughs… which, but I do not want to keep repeating myself.

The Times reports:

The health service will curb treatment for conditions such as hearing loss and dementia after its head set out the first explicit limits on what patients should expect.
Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England, effectively ripped up waiting-time targets for routine surgery, rebuffing demands from ministers as he said that cancer, mental health and GP care should take priority.

Patients were told to stop expecting the NHS to treat coughs, indigestion and other minor conditions, with GPs encouraged to send people away without prescriptions for medicines they could buy over the counter.

If you are British and have a sore throat, you are on your own. And if it’s strep… then what?

As for non-urgent surgery, you’re pretty much out of luck:

The goal of treating 92 per cent of patients waiting for non-urgent surgery within 18 weeks has not been met for more than a year and internal NHS calculations suggest that it will cost £2.5 billion to clear waiting lists. Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, said there were “serious questions about the legality of effectively abandoning a standard of care enshrined in the NHS constitution”.

For your edification, here’s the list of ailments that will no longer be treated by the NHS:

Aches and sprains such as headaches and period pains
Cold sores
Colic in babies
Constipation
Coughs, colds and blocked noses
Dandruff
Diarrhoea
Earwax
Haemorrhoids
Indigestion
Insect bites
Mild acne
Mild to moderate hay fever
Mouth ulcers
Sore throat
Sunburn
Travel sickness
Warts and verrucas

You do not need to be a physician to find this concerning. No longer treat insect bites… have they ever heard about Lyme disease?

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Kirsten Gillibrand's Lament

True, Trump’s tweet about New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand was demeaning. It did not befit a gentleman. It disrespected and dishonored a lady. In a better world, a world where we actually had gentlemen and ladies, it would not have happened.

You know which tweet I am talking about. After Gillibrand said that Trump should resign because he was accused of sexual harassment, Trump shot back with a tweet saying that she was a lightweight—no arguing with that—and that she had begged him for campaign contributions. And then he added: “she would do anything for them.”

Gillibrand shot back that it was a sexist smear, which it wasn’t. Then Elizabeth Warren chimed in that Trump was “slut-shaming” the senator, as though Gillibrand had engaged in behavior that some retrograde moralists would have called slutty. Clearly, Warren did not know what she was saying. In any case, we have no evidence that Gillibrand did or did not do what Trump accused her of doing. 

Trump's tweet was more suggestive than explicit, but we all know precisely what he meant.

Now, the political/media outrage machine is doing its darndest to blind us to the obvious question: Was Trump telling the truth? Did KG beg for a campaign donation and did she offer to provide a sexual service in return? 

We do not know the truth. KG has not said that it did not happen. She just said that it was a sexist smear. These are not the same thing.

So we are back with the same consideration that we evoked when judging the charges against Roy Moore. Given what we know about the senator, is the charge plausible? At the least, we know that KG has accomplished nothing of consequence in her time in the senate. Were it not for her rants against sexism and for transgender restrooms, we would not even know who she is. As a proud New Yorker, I am persuaded that she is simply wasting a senate seat.

True enough, KG has taken positions on all sides of most issues. She is looking to advance her career, possibly even the first female president from New York. For my part, I don’t think she will make it. Because there is no there there. There is no substance behind the carefully made-up bleach-blonde persona.

Had Trump leveled the same ungentlemanly charge against Elizabeth Warren or Hillary Clinton or Susan Collins, we would all have laughed it off. In those cases, it is completely implausible. Yet, with Kirsten Gillibrand it is far more difficult to dismiss out of hand. Which is why her supporters are out screaming and yelling and ranting and raving about the sexism of it all.

The standard is not truth, but plausibility. Unfortunately for KG Trump's charge meets that standard.

More, Better Jobs for Minorities

Naturally, African-American and Hispanic Americans hate Donald Trump. Perhaps not as much as their Alabama brethren hated Roy Moore, but they are loyal Democrats, no matter what.

And yet, the Trump presidency has actually been good for minority employment. Who knew? The economy is expanding and it is lifting the fortunes of minority populations.

As it happens, the American media is far too preoccupied with sex scandals to report the facts:

The Daily Signal has the story:

More black and Hispanic Americans are getting jobs on President Donald Trump’s watch, the latest employment numbers show, although critics accuse him of ignoring such minority populations.

The White House, not surprisingly, is happy to tout the results.

Unemployment among blacks declined from 8 percent one year ago to 7.3 percent in November, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Blacks’ labor force participation rate rose slightly over the past year, from 61.9 percent in November 2016 to 62.2 percent last month.

Unemployment among Hispanics fell by a percentage point, from 5.7 percent to 4.7 percent, over the year. Hispanics’ labor force participation rate held steady, dipping from 65.7 percent to 65.6 percent.

The labor force participation rate reflects the percentage of Americans working or actively looking for work, while the unemployment rate is the percentage of jobless Americans still looking for work, as opposed to having given up.

Good news for America’s minority communities. Good news for America. Bad news for the American media and its all consuming narrative. Go figure.

Alabama's Biggest Loser

Post-mortems aren’t always fun. Yet, one can excuse those Republicans who rejoice over Steve Bannon’s humiliating defeat in yesterday’s Alabama senate race. It takes strategic political genius for a Republican to lose a senate seat in Alabama, but Roy Moore did it. And, he did it under the aegis of that great political strategist, Steve Bannon.

Roger Simon has this to say:

The big loser in Tuesday's Alabama's special Senate election was not the Republican Party. They had already lost weeks ago, the moment the Washington Post wrote their (carefully vetted, in this instance) exposé of the thirty-year-old sexual proclivities of Judge Roy Moore.

It was checkmate from the start.  In this #MeToo era with politicians flying out the window as fast as you can say Conyers and Franken, the Republicans were damned if they did and damned if they didn't -- support Moore, that is.  And Moore didn't do himself any favors with an execrable performance during an interview with Sean Hannity shortly after the allegations. He was, to put it mildly, not ready for prime time. To be honest, Moore sounded pretty dopey, even if he was innocent, which he didn't come close to proving.

In many ways, the Republicans are lucky not to have Moore to deal with in Congress.  They can face obvious White House aspirant Kirsten Gillibrand and her merry band of hypocrites with a straight face.

No, the big loser Tuesday is Steve Bannon, the sometime movie producer cum finance expert cum political strategist that some claim put Donald Trump in office and then left the White House to better support the president from without, or so he said. In this instance -- purportedly to do that, I guess -- he went against Trump, who originally backed the more establishment candidate Luther Strange, to back one of Bannon's own, Judge Moore.

The only real difference between Luther Strange and Roy Moore was that Strange would surely have won. And, Strange appeared to be a decent human being.

One understands that Moore and Bannon supporters will be out in force blaming it all on the Washington Post, but, as Simon explains, some of the charges against Moore were highly credible. Besides, for all his Bible talk, Roy Moore did not strike very many people as a moral individual. Accusations were not proved in court, but people get an impression of a man and that impression counts. Roy Moore seemed sleazy and indecent. Keep in mind, Sen. Richard Shelby said he could not vote for Roy Moore. He knows the man better than most of the rest of us.

In fact, if Roy Moore had been as moral as he claimed, he would have known that: Pride goeth before destruction. His refusal to drop out of the race was prideful. A little humility, taking one for the party, would have shown him to be a man of character. He wasn’t. And he lost.

The Daily Caller piled on:

“This is a brutal reminder that candidate quality matters regardless of where you are running,” Steve Law, president of the Senate Leadership Fund, a Republican super PAC, said in a statement. “Not only did Steve Bannon cost us a critical Senate seat in one of the most Republican states in the country, but he also dragged the President of the United States into his fiasco,” Law said.

It quoted a number of conservative commentators.

Ben Shapiro:

Bannon’s sure showing those establishment cucks a thing or two right now.

Rich Lowry:

Steve Bannon's campaign to depose Mitch McConnell takes a big step forward, by throwing away a seat in a ruby red state.

Josh Holmes:

Before we get the results, I'd just like to thank Steve Bannon for showing us how to lose the reddest state in the union and Governor Ivey for the opportunity to make this national embarrassment a reality.

Dana Loesch:

Next time maybe Bannon will won’t fight Trump’s primary endorsement out of ego and cost the GOP a senate seat.

Roy Moore lost. No one is crying for Roy Moore. As of now Steve Bannon looks to be the biggest loser. That might turn out to be a blessing for the Republican Party.

If you want to take the measure of Bannon, see whether he can show any humility at his loss or whether he tries to scapegoat someone else for his failure. 


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Save the Polar Bears

We have all seen the pictures of the dying polar bear. Shot by National Geographic the image has been presented as irrefutable proof that climate change is killing off the polar bears. Never mind that we only see one lonely bear. Never mind that we do not know why the bear was dying. It doesn’t matter. To true believers, the polar bear instantly became a totem, a symbol of the horrors that Donald Trump was causing to the pristine natural world.


If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Even Slate, no right wing organ of incorrect opinion, has explained that, in the words of an expert, polar bears die all the time. You will admit that the idea is astonishing.  Even more amazing, we often do not know why. For all we know the bear in question was dying from bone cancer. It would be difficult to blame that one on Republicans, but perhaps the bear would have been saved by Obamacare. Hey, you never know.

Slate reports:

For one thing, [wildlife biologist Jeff Higdon] says, during summertime, part of the Arctic is often ice-free. That’s due to seasonal changes, not climatic shifts. And while it can be hard to stomach never mind witness, animals starve to death all the time, for a million different reasons. “We may start to see more [climate-caused starvation] over time, but at this point, there’s no evidence I’m aware of that we’re seeing that,” Higdon adds.

Not wanting to disappoint its readers Slate adds that climate change is killing the polar bears, though not necessarily the one we see dying before our eyes.

Still, we can ask whether or not Slate is right? Are the polar bears doomed because Trump walked away from the Paris Climate Accord? Enquiring minds want to know.

The NoTricksZone blog (via Moonbattery and via Maggie’s Farm) summarizes the latest in peer reviewed science:

Most of the world’s polar bears live in Canada.  Hunters and elders from northern Canada’s native communities have been immersed in studying polar bear ecology for centuries.

In two new peer-reviewed papers published in the journals Ecology and Evolution and Polar Record, scientists record the observations and experiences of Canada’s polar bear “experts” — the community members who live side-by-side with these “sea bears” (Ursus maritimus).

According to scientists, no study has indicated that there is reason to presume that the perspectives of community observers are either suspect or incorrect.  In fact, there have been multiple occasions when traditional ecological knowledge gleaned from local populations accurately identified polar bear subpopulation trends before new scientific studies could be conducted to corroborate them (York et al., 2016).

The overwhelming conclusion from years of accumulated conversations with native populations about polar bears is that there is almost no connection between the long-term observations of polar bear ecology and the more recent claims that polar bears as a species are in grave danger due to climate change and thinning sea ice.

In fact, the long-term observations suggest that polar bear subpopulations are currently faring quite well, with 92% of  the subpopulations studied either remaining stable or growing in recent years.

According to Inuit observers, there may even be “too many” bears now.

Now we can all rejoice because the polar bears are thriving. Right?

Where Is the Arab Street?

Viscerally opposed to anything that Donald Trump does, the elite that has been in charge of American foreign policy for decades now declared last week that the world, and in particular the “Arab street” would erupt in rage at Trump’s declaration that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.

It makes some sense. These great minds had refused to recognize Jerusalem because they feared the might wrath of the Arab Street. Don’t say that terrorism doesn’t work? Besides, in America today, if you do not erupt in rage at anything Trump says or does, you will be shunned from polite liberal society. Just ask Alan Dershowitz.

I have already offered my views on the matter. On the response of the Arab street Lt. Col. Ralph Peters has it right. It was yet another occasion where the bien pensant progressives and the cowardly Europeans got it wrong. Why did they get it wrong? For one simple reason: their own residual anti-Semitism:

In the wake of President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last week, the “experts” crowding the media predicted strategic calamity: Vast, violent protests and a wave of terror would sweep the Muslim world in the coming days.

Instead, the largest demonstration anywhere this weekend was the funeral procession for Johnny Hallyday, the “French Elvis.” Nothing in the Middle East came close.

We have witnessed, yet again, the carefully phrased anti-Semitism of the pristinely educated; the global left’s fanatical pro-Palestinian bias; and the media’s yearning for career-making disasters.

Rather than waves of protest, the waiting world got tepid statements of disapproval from otherwise-occupied Arab governments; demonstrations in the West Bank and the Gaza strip that, combined, barely put a thousand activists in the streets; and yes, four deaths: two demonstrators and two Hamas terrorists hit by an Israeli airstrike.

One suspects that Western leftists hate Israel because they are trying to appease the millions of Muslim immigrants they allowed into their countries and who are now wreaking havoc.

As I have been reporting on this blog, things have changed in the Middle East.

Peters explains:

Once upon a time, the Palestinians were the only game at the propaganda casino, a marvelous tool for Arab leaders to divert attention from domestic failures. Then came al Qaeda. And Iraq. Iranian empire-building. The Arab Spring. The oil-price collapse and the rise of ISIS, with its butcher-shop caliphate. The civil war in Syria, with half a million dead. And, not least, the region-wide confrontation between decaying Sunni power and rising Shia might.

Thus, geopolitical realities have caused the Middle East to see Israel, as I have often noted, as the solution, not the problem. I would add that Israel has far more to offer modernizing Arab nations than do the parasitic Palestinians.

But by far the most-significant factor is that Israel has become an indispensable, if quiet, ally of Sunni states against Iran. Although well-armed, Saudi Arabia remains inept on the battlefield, bogged down in Yemen and terrified of Iranian gains in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. Israel doesn’t need Saudi Arabia, but Saudi Arabia definitely needs Israel.

As for the Palestinians they never wanted to negotiate peace anyway. They wanted and they still want to destroy Israel. They use peace negotiations as a means to that end. Had they wanted a state, Peters argues, they could have had it, many times over.

Since the failed 1948 Arab assault on newly reborn Israel, the Palestinians have had literally dozens of opportunities for an advantageous peace. Yet, even Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton — no friends to the blue-and-white flag — ended up frustrated as Palestinian leaders, on the cusp of peace time and again, decided that three-quarters of the pie was insufficient.

Inevitably, the pie got smaller over time — but the Palestinian leadership continued to profit from “occupied” status. Now it’s too late for anything that looks like a viable Palestinian state. It’s time we all faced that reality.

If you will, the Palestinians claimed “occupied” status to receive the support and admiration of Western liberals… happy as they were to consider Israel  a hegemonic, imperialist, colonialist power. If the Palestinians were incapable of building a functioning modern economy they could step forth and claim the status as vanguard of the next Marxist revolution. Obviously, this appeals to unreconstructed Western leftists.

So, perhaps the world has turned a page. Perhaps the rage of today’s Arab street is more show than substance. Once Saudi Arabia turned its back on the Palestinian madness, the party effectively was over. It was time to learn the lesson of World War II—appeasement does not work:

A Central-Asian proverb runs that “The dog may bark, but the caravan moves on.” The hounds of appeasement have barked for generations, but the Israeli caravan kept going, arriving at the only admirable (or even livable) state in the Middle East, an island of civilization amid vast deserts of barbarism.

The analogy is apt. And, let’s not forget, the grand mufti of Jerusalem during World War II, uncle of Yasser Arafat, strongly supported Hitler’s final solution for the Jewish people. Could it be that the Palestinian resistance has merely kept the Nazi hope alive? Could it be that the call for revolution was also a call for a return to the days of Nazi persecution of Jews?

To modify a poet's words: This is the way the Palestinian cause ends; not with a bang, but with a whimper.

Monday, December 11, 2017

The Night Riders of the Thought Police

You may or may not know it, but Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe has been attacking his former colleague, emeritus professor Alan Dershowitz because the latter had the temerity to declare that Robert Mueller could not indict President Trump for obstruction of justice. Dershowitz declared that the president could not be indicted for exercising his constitutional authority… which allows him to fire any of those who work for him in the executive branch, for any reason.

Dershowitz continued that if Trump had encouraged someone to lie or to bribe, then surely he could be indicted. An interesting legal issue, one that we might well want to debate... since the collusion argument seems to have blow up for now.

Are the nation’s great legal minds debating this constitutional issue? Not at all. They are horrified that Dershowitz, a true liberal Democrat, would say anything that would detract from the left wing derangement over Trump. Eminent legal scholar like Laurence Tribe want Trump to be impeached. He does not care how. Any means are apparently acceptable as long as the proper result is achieved. He and his cohorts refuse to allow anything, not rational argument, not constitutional law, not due process stand in their way.

Now, what does Tribe have to say about this? What does the law professor contribute to deliberative debate on the topic? Well, he offers this tweet about Dershowitz:

My retired former colleague seems proud of playing devil’s advocate here. But this is no game. I think he should be deeply ashamed of helping legitimate the closest thing we have to the Devil Incarnate with so absurd and dangerous an argument.

Note the rhetorical flourish: the closest thing we have to the Devil Incarnate. (In caps, out of respect, I imagine). Might we ask where in the Constitution he found that reference to the Antichrist? Might we ask whether it belongs to the Common Law? 

The truth is, Tribe has lost his mind, he is flailing, he is acting like someone who is deranged, he has girded his loins and declared war on Donald Trump. Having lost his mind he has lost all sense of reality. At that point, nothing really matters. Due process be damned. Criminal procedure must be ignored. The only question for one of America’s great legal minds—or, should I say, for someone who used to possess one of America’s great legal minds—is to get Trump. By any means, using any methods, regardless of the damage to the constitution or the legal system.

Someone who is supposed to have dedicated his life to the law, is trafficking in Biblical prophecy. Immanentize the eschaton, as they say in the vernacular. Tribe has taken up residence in the Book of Revelation and awaits the Second Coming of Christ to rid the world of the Antichrist, aka, the Beast. Ought he not to feel a slight twinge of shame for compromising his life’s work in order to lead the disloyal opposition, an opposition so disloyal that it no longer cares about facts or the law? Ought he not to avoid such incendiary nonsense, in the interest of fostering rational debate?

Apparently not. America’s intellectual culture, its national conversation has been so completely corrupted that an Alan Dershowitz, a titan of modern liberal thought, a former board member of the American Civil Liberties Union has not earned enough credit to have his views respected by his erstwhile colleagues.

For a Laurence Tribe it no longer matters whether you are right or wrong. It no longer matters that you have spent your life defending civil liberties and teaching constitutional law. It no longer matters that you have raised substantive legal issues that deserve a hearing. Not at all. the only thing that matters is whether you belong to the army that is willing to sacrifice principle and rational thought in the effort to impeach Donald Trump. If Tribe thinks he is fighting Nazis this only adds to our sense of his derangement.

If you were wondering how America’s universities became cesspools of political correctness, if you were wondering why the night riders of the thought police are harassing anyone who disputes the current orthodoxy, you do not need to look any further than the Dershowitz/Tribe conflict.

It’s not as though Tribe and his legions of maniacal anti-Trumpers can harm Dershowitz. The 79-year-old retired professor is retired from the halls of academia, where he taught for five decades. We might say that he has been liberated. More important is the message that the diatribes against him, the efforts to shun him from polite liberal society, are sending to anyone else who would dare say a word that disputes the anti-Trump orthodoxy.

We saw it in the case of one Stephen Cohen, retired professor of Russia Studies, eminent authority on Russian politics, contributor to The Nation—not a right wing magazine, that—who has been excoriated by his colleagues on the left for daring to suggest that Trump’s Russia policy is reasonable and correct. And also for saying that, among the unwelcome side effects of the Russian collusion mania has been the damage done to Russian and American relationship. To Cohen, American and Russia should try to work together on numerous international crises. With the attacks on Trump’s supposed Russian collusion, the task has become increasingly difficult.

For having uttered these thoughts Cohen has been attacked by his colleagues. Because, if your expertise and your rational thought leads you to a conclusion that might make Trump look good, you are a traitor to the cause and deserve to be taken out and shot... in a manner of speaking.

Dershowitz has been more prominent, so he has received the lion’s share of opprobrium. The Washington Post told the story:
  
As a result, Dershowitz told The Washington Post on Wednesday, he is being shunned by many of his old political allies. His motives are being questioned. And people who used to be his friends just don’t want to hear from him.

“None of my liberal friends invite me to dinner anymore,” he said. “Thanks to Donald Trump, I’ve lost seven pounds. I call it the Donald Trump diet,” he joked.

Even so, Dershowitz says that he’s the same fiery, uncompromising civil libertarian that he has always been.

The effect of the threats and intimidation is to stifle debate and discussion. The Post reported:

He says a number of lawyers and scholars privately accept his argument but are unwilling to say so publicly because they don’t want to do anything that helps Trump. “I would say that 25 times people have either written me, called me, or told me in person and said, ‘You’re right. You’re 100 percent right. Your arguments are solid, but why do you have to say it? Just keep quiet. Don’t help them.’ ”

Aside from being ostracized, his motives are being attacked and his character is being defamed:

“People have accused me of everything,” Dershowitz told The Post. “Of taking money. … A guy on MSNBC asked me if I was being paid by Trump. Others have asked me if I’m writing a book about it,” he said. “The answer to both is no and no.”

“Everybody’s questioning motive,” he said, with some suggesting he’s jockeying for a seat on the Supreme Court (“I’m 79 years old”) or that he wants to be Trump’s lawyer. None of this is true, he said. “People can’t just accept that I’m saying what I believe and I would be saying the same thing if Hillary Clinton were president.”

His viewpoint “has affected my friendships,” Dershowitz said. “I have a nephew who is just furious at me. He wants to do anything to have this guy impeached or removed from office and he says I’m stopping that. There are people who think — and I’ve been accused of this in print — that I’m the one who put this obstruction argument into the head of Trump and his lawyers, especially since Trump tweeted that he liked my argument.”

Dershowitz said he “got an email today from a very prominent friend — I’m not going to disclose his name because it was a private email — admitting that I’m right and saying ‘My hatred toward Trump blinds me to your truths.’ That was his email. ‘My hatred for Trump blinds me to your truths. Please stop.’

Think about it. These are supposed to be enlightened souls. They have fought against hatred all of their lives. And now they are so consumed by hate that they cannot even see. They ought to recognize that when you are blinded by hate you are not going to be a very good soldier. Blindness makes far more difficult to aim. You might even end up attacking people who are on your side.

Again, the salient point is that the best and the brightest, the pillars of the American legal establishment, are so completely deranged by Trump that they can no longer see. Worse yet, they can no longer think. They are not even trying. Those who are not retired and untouchable will receive a chilling message. Take the right side of this war on Trump or your life will be over.

Whatever you think of Donald Trump, this anti-intellectual emotionally overwrought attitude, fostered by the nation's best legal minds, will damage the nation and our democracy. They are a disgrace to their profession.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Incendiary Feminist Rage

Nearly five decades of feminism and what do we get: Harvey Weinstein and Charley Rose and Louis CK and Bret Ratner and Kevin Spacey. Does this mean that we need more feminism or that feminism has failed?

Now, radical feminists are taking up arms to advance their war against predatory men. But, what if feminism is as much the problem as the solution? After all, most of the men who are accused of egregious sexual harassment and assaults are good progressive feminists. They are merely doing what Bill Clinton got away with doing. And they have been offered absolution by the Dowager Duchess of Chappaqua herself. As for the women who feared speaking out, they saw what the Dowager Duchess did to women who accused her husband of sexual predations. Until now, they chose to keep quiet.

Of course, today’s feminists, at least those who do not know how to think, believe that the Trump election has provoked the #MeToo movement. It might also be that disempowering one of America’s biggest frauds, HRC herself, has freed women from the threat her power represented. Ding, dong… the witch is dead. Or at least, the witch no longer wields political power. Ergo, women are now free to speak out against media and Hollywood men, Hillary’s army of predators. Think about it.

Today the New York Times showcases two interesting reactions to the current wave of denunciations and accusations. On one side, Lucinda Franks, a woman who began her journalistic career in the 1970s, at a time when second-wave feminism had just started washing up on the shores. Franks is cogent and intelligent, solid and sensible. 

On the other side, Michelle Goldberg, a raging contemporary feminist, a generation younger than Franks, who wants to direct her “incendiary rage” against Donald Trump… whom she, in an especially mindless rant, considers responsible for all of it. She is promoting a form of ritual sacrifice—of Trump the Antichrist—and is so blinded by her rage that she fails to see the prominent role that the Clintons and their ilk played in the current crisis.

Anyway, Franks considers the possibility that feminism and the sexual revolution might very well have contributed to the harassment problem:

Had the sexualization of American popular culture in the 1990s and 2000s taken the restraints off the male id, freeing men to pursue their most absurd fantasies — holding professional interviews at their homes, parading around naked under open bathrobes in front of job applicants? Had feminism, with its promotion of sexual freedom, combined with these cultural changes, paradoxically poured gas on the fires of these workplace assaults? Or had this stomach-turning type of aggression simply evaded the rumor mill but been happening all along?

As it happened Franks was the youngest woman ever to win the Pulitzer Prize. It did not produce any sexual harassment, but it did get her shunned in the newsroom:

Two years after I joined the news service, I won the Pulitzer Prize. I suffered for it mightily. That I was the first woman to win for national reporting — I had been brought to New York to do a five-part series on the violent antiwar Weatherman group — made it only worse. I could see it in their bowed heads: We’ve been striving for years to win that coveted prize and a 24-year-old walks away with it! The entire bureau of men refused to speak to me that day and the days after.

I was haunted by the creeping conviction that I didn’t deserve the prize — I should give it back. For at least the next 10 years, I was too ashamed to tell people I’d won.

But, isn’t that the point? To be more precise, when men who have been working their way up the prestige ladder in the newsroom for many years do not receive a reward but saw it given to a woman who had been there for twenty minutes, they might believe that sexual politics, as it was called back then, or affirmative action or diversity quotas have entered into the equation. And have rigged the system against them. This would provoke no small amount of hostility.

Shelby Steele has remarked, and the point has not been taken seriously enough, that when college admissions and corporate hiring practices are skewed to favor minority candidates—he could have added, women—then people will assume that any minority candidate or woman has gotten the job for reasons that have nothing to do with merit. If said candidate wins an award people will naturally assume that it is unearned… better yet, that it was unjustly taken from them. This produces resentment. Affirmative action and diversity quotas are a poisoned gift.

Sexual politics appears to rig the system, to rig it against men. Add to this another factor, one that applies to female candidates but not to racial minorities. Has is ever happened that a woman has advanced her career by offering sexual favors to a male superior? Perish the thought. 

When you stop laughing, consider this variation on Steele’s argument: when women are promoted beyond their accomplishments, men will assume that the game has been rigged. But they will also assume that the women are either fulfilling a diversity quota or have traded sexual favors for career advancement. Has this simple fact contributed to the wave of sexual harassment? It is worth thinking about it.

Of course, to be fair, no one ever accused Hillary Clinton of sleeping her way to the top. She did, however, marry her way to the top. How better to become a partner in the Rose Law Firm than to marry a leading political figure in the state? How better to become a United States Senator, the Secretary of State and a presidential candidate, than to be married to a former president. 

Hillary Clinton is the poster child for women who have not advanced because of their competence, but who married their way to the top. Again, this rigs the system. Feminists fall all over themselves saying that HRC was eminently qualified, but, as we have often noticed, they are simply exposing the fact that they are consumed by ideological zeal.

Speaking of ideological zeal, consider the rant that Michelle Goldberg wrote for the Times this morning.

Quite explicitly, she wants to weaponize the #MeToo movement and to turn it against Republicans. She is slightly discommoded by the fact that most of the men who are being accused travel in liberal and progressive circles, support feminism and fund Planned Parenthood.

But the revolution is smaller than it first appears. So far, it has been mostly confined to liberal-leaning sectors like entertainment, the media, academia, Silicon Valley and the Democratic Party. It hasn’t rocked the Republicans, corporate America or Wall Street — with some exceptions— because these realms are less responsive to feminist pressure.

She assumes that the sexual harassers in Republican precincts like Wall Street are simply doing better at hiding. For the record Goldberg does not recognize that Wall Street and Silicon Valley—the bastions of corporate America—are not filled with Republicans. They are Democratic Party redoubts. Wall Street bankers funded the Obama election campaigns very generously. As for Silicon Valley, at many of the biggers firms you will be fired if you are a Republican. But... don't let the facts get in the way of an ideologically driven narrative.

If you are consumed with burning hot ideological zeal, the first thing to go is the ability to think straight. As for Goldberg's insistence on the Revolution, how blind do you have to be to understand that the ideology of revolution, the kind that was going to overthrow the capitalist order and install a Worker’s Paradise, has been tried and has failed? It failed miserably. Those who suffered the horrors inflicted by Marxists revolutionaries will look at a Goldberg and think that she is no longer living in the real world.

Note this also. The feminist movement, in stark opposition to Martin Luther King’s civil rights movement, brought radical leftist ideology into the workplace. The civil rights movement sought integration. The feminist movement, in its radical incarnations, wanted to overthrow the patriarchy and to rebel against the capitalist order.

If this is the express intention of the feminist movement, an employee might think twice about hiring or trusting a female employee? Now, as we among many others have pointed out, the #MeToo wave will undoubtedly make it far more difficult for women to be hired or to be mentored by men.

Goldberg thinks that this is all going to be solved by giving women political power. She explains:

For doing something, she and all the others who have exposed the sexual degradation that mars so many professional lives deserve our gratitude and admiration. They’ve made things tangibly better for the women in their industries. But ultimately, the cultural currency of the #MeToo movement is not a substitute for political power. The incendiary rage unleashed by Trump’s election needs to be directed back at him. Otherwise, only those who already advocate women’s equality will be forced to grant it.

Of course, the poisoned gift of #MeToo will probably not make things better for women in business. They might suffer less sexual harassment, but that does not mean that women will be respected. They might just be avoided, as though they are radioactive. 

If the feminist movement, in its less radical incarnation, wanted to ensure that women be respected in the workplace and have the same career opportunities as men, then clearly #MeToo tells us that feminism failed. A zealot like Goldberg will react as all radical ideologues—by craving more and more radicalism. As she says, men must be forced to do what women tell them to do. Or better, what the feminist program prescribes. If you do not understand that this is going to produce blow back, push back and outright hostility you are living an ideological fairy tale.

Goldberg is current consumed by her “incendiary rage.” Apparently, she sees herself as a blowtorch. Of course, that is more the problem than the solution. Why would you want to hire women who are consumed by incendiary rage? Do you want a female blowtorch roaming around the office pretending to be strong and empowered? Do you want to do business with a woman who suffers from incendiary rage, who threatens to burn you, to blow you up, to destroy your life? Do you want to marry a woman who is burning up with rage against men? 

Goldberg gives herself an out when she says that she is really directing her blowtorch at Donald Trump, and when she allows that Democrats are generally to be excused their predations because they are moral paragons. Still, it does not take too many little gray cells to see that she has skewed the argument against Republicans because she wants to keep in touch with the Democrat men in her life. Being oblivious to the role the Clintons played in the current wave of harassment allegations might mask an effort, not just to gain political power, but to divide men against each other and to offer absolution to men who agree with her politics.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Good-bye Pajama Boy; Hello, Mad Dog

If Barack Obama had been president reporters would be falling over themselves singing his praises. Since Donald Trump—a man recently called the Devil Incarnate by famed Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Tribe—is president, the story gets filed away under curiosities. Good to see a Harvard Law Professor contributing to our deliberative democracy.

Anyway, the news is, that the Islamic State, ISIS has been thoroughly defeated in Iraq and is almost completely defeated in Syria. Good news, don’t you think?

Why did it happen? For one thing, we no longer have Pajama Boy running the war. In his place, we have Mad Dog. I was going to say that Donald Trump is in leading the charge, but, in truth Trump’s best decision was to delegate authority to Defense Secretary James Mattis and to the generals. They knew what to do and knew how to do it. Within a year, the Caliphate—a product of Obama administration policy in Iraq and Syria—was defeated.

It’s all about rules of engagement. The Obama administration called off military strikes for fear of having anyone get hurt. Unwilling to engage the fight, the Obama team cowered in the corner. Doesn’t that sound like what supposedly happened in Benghazi?

Hollie McKay reports from Baghdad:

Hundreds of ISIS fighters had just been chased out of a northern Syrian city and were fleeing through the desert in long convoys, presenting an easy target to U.S. A-10 "warthogs."

But the orders to bomb the black-clad jihadists never came, and the terrorists melted into their caliphate -- living to fight another day. The events came in August 2016, even as then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump was vowing on the campaign trail to let generals in his administration crush the organization that, under President Obama, had grown from the “jayvee team” to the world’s most feared terrorist organization.

McKay reports the extent of the American victory:

Just over a year later, ISIS has been routed from Iraq and Syria with an ease and speed that's surprised even the men and women who carried out the mission. Experts say it's a prime example of a campaign promise kept. President Trump scrapped his predecessor’s rules of engagement, which critics say hamstrung the military, and let battlefield decisions be made by the generals in the theater, and not bureaucrats in Washington.

At its peak, ISIS held land in Iraq and Syria that equaled the size of West Virginia, ruled over as many as 8 million people, controlled oilfields and refineries, agriculture, smuggling routes and vast arsenals. It ran a brutal, oppressive government, even printing its own currency.

This does not mean that ISIS has been completely defeated. But, it does mean that the military side of the conflict has been won.

But the military’s job -- to take back the land ISIS claimed as its caliphate and liberate cities like Mosul, in Iraq, and Raqqa, in Syria, as well as countless smaller cities and villages, is largely done. And it has taken less than a year.

“The leadership team that is in place right now has certainly enabled us to succeed,” Brig. Gen. Andrew Croft, the ranking U.S. Air Force officer in Iraq, told Fox News. “I couldn’t ask for a better leadership team to work for, to enable the military to do what it does best.”

President Trump gave a free hand to Mattis, who in May stressed military commanders were no longer being slowed by Washington “decision cycles,” or by the White House micromanaging that existed President Obama. As a result of the new approach, the fall of ISIS in Iraq came even more swiftly than hardened U.S. military leaders expected.

“It moved more quickly than at least I had anticipated,” Croft said. “We and the Iraqi Security Forces were able to hunt down and target ISIS leadership, target their command and control.”

Of course, we still live in a nation of whiners. Those who are not ignoring what is happening in Iraq are expressing their chagrin over the civilian casualties. The never expressed the same chagrin when the caliphate was running wild, destroying lives, raping women, looting and pillaging. The Obamphile left does not like rules of engagement that allow America to win, but prefers rules of engagement that display cowardly weakness and allow the caliphate to flourish.

And, while we are here, ask yourself this: how much of the changes that are happening in the Middle East, from Saudi Arabia to Jerusalem, would not have happened without a firm and resolute American military presence in Iraq and Syria?

Fornicating with Ghosts

If you are a woman and are fed up with men, here’s a solution. Instead of trying or even wanting to have sex with one of those appalling creatures, why not hook up with ghosts. That’s what Amethyst Realm—apparently her real name—did. Don't you think that with a name like that, ghosts would find you especially attractive?

But, Amethyst managed to have sex with 20—count ‘em—ghosts… and therefore was slut-shamed by a judgmental male. One imagines that women would have also slut-shamed her... for keeping all of the ghosts to herself. Don’t we live in the age of oversharing.

Of course, it all sounds like a hoax, but, since in days of yore women—aka witches—were fornicating with devils-- don't ask he how I know-- why not ghosts? Besides, we do not want to be judgmental.

Amethyst Realm, a 27-year-old Brit, is getting slut-shamed for claiming to have had sex with at least 20 ghosts — whom she purportedly prefers to living men.

Realm, from Bristol, England, went on the British TV show “ITV This Morning” on Thursday to discuss her out-of-body-on-body experiences. She says it all began in 2005, when she moved into a haunted home with her then-fiancé.

“It started as an energy, then became physical,” she says. “There was pressure on my thighs and breath on my neck. I just always felt safe. I had sex with the ghost. You can feel it. It’s difficult to explain,” she says.

Realm continued this supernatural affair for three years, but had to end it when she got caught by her husband (she claims he saw a shadowy shape of a man on top of her).

Since that first steamy supernatural encounter, Realm says she’s hooked up with at least 20 ghosts.

When she told her story on television, the host suggested that it was a bit of a slutty thing to do. The Huffington Post called him out for slut-shaming her. What would we do without the HuffPost.

And yet, an astute commentator pointed out that, if it started 12 years ago and if she is now 27, well that means that she was engaged to marry and also her first ghost when she was 15:

“She had a fiancé at 15?” writes one HuffPost commentator. “Is she originally from Alabama?”

Obviously, she needs to sue the ghosts for pedophilia, if not sexual harassment:

“Tune in next week [when] she accuses them of sexual harassment and sues them. #shewantsachecktoo,” writes another.

The licensed, credentialed therapist declared that the woman was hallucinating. One can only wonder how she knows.

Really Bad Therapy

Hats off to New York Magazine. The magazine that balances  the psychobabble of Ask Polly with excellent reports about the latest in social psychology—in its Science of Us rubric—has caught on to the fact that certain therapists are not doing their jobs. Many of those who are doing their jobs are not doing them very well. Some of them are positively appalling. All of the patients are women.

And yet, therapists have power in the media. Many stories about therapy seem to have been written by the therapists’ own PR firms.  The horror stories seem to have been filed away as anomalous.

Now, New York Magazine has collected some stories about bad things that happen in therapy. We are brimming with gratitude and happily report a few of them… for your edification.

The first therapist kept talking about herself. I suspect that she was Polly’s therapist:

I swear my therapist was only there to talk about herself. Every time I visited her, she would tell me about her ‘friend.’ It was obviously about her. And then there was the time that she was inspired by my silly fashion and bought the same sweater I always wore to our sessions. Of course, I never would have known this if she hadn’t shown up to our meeting wearing it — while I had mine on, too!”

Another tried to play matchmaker. She set up one patient with another patient—generally a very bad idea. But, the male patient in question seems to have learned courtship by Harvey Weinstein.  Somehow the therapist did not know. Or else, she did not care:

My therapist set me up with another one of her patients, who was a writer. He wrote about the porn industry and lived, literally, in a closet. For our first date, he met me at work. I had to swing by my place to change before we went out. So I went to the bathroom to freshen up, and when I came out, he was lying naked on my bed. I had known him for five minutes. At first, I was confused as to why my therapist would set me up with such a schmuck, so I confronted her about it. She laughed it off, and then she immediately wanted me to pay my bill.

Another therapist was a Hillary Clinton supporter who was obsessed with Donald Trump. That’s all she wanted to talk about:

Around the election last year, my old therapist asked me every session if I was a Republican. When I reminded her that I was not, she would go on to talk to me about all her clients who she thinks supports Trump. Obsessed with Trump all day, all night. That is all she talked about. One day, we got into it. I went to her to talk about my stress at home, but she kept asking me about Hillary. I was a huge Hillary fan. So was she. Then she made the biggest mistake. She told me that an educated, rich, white politician (Hillary) had suffered more than any woman in the world. She said Hillary had endured the most as a woman … ever! I said, ‘More than enslaved black women?’ She said yes. I was like, Girl, bye. My next session was scheduled for the day after the election. Hillary lost. I was upset, but knew I couldn’t listen to her whine about Donald Trump for the next four to eight years. So I rescheduled my appointment. She fired me as a patient, saying I no-showed. Whatever.

And then there’s the therapist who should be sued or prosecuted—I am not sure which:

I sent him an email that I had to quit him out of the interest of time. He responded with the most threatening letter a mother could imagine; using all my personal secrets against me and even threatening to have my kids taken away from me because, he said, this decision to quit him made me seem very unstable to him. It felt like he was holding me hostage. I was nervous every day for months that someone was going to come to my house and take my kids. It’s been about a year now and he’s never done anything — but even talking about the situation freaks me out immensely.

As for the notion that therapists, for having themselves undergone therapy, are of superior mental health and emotional stability… what can I say that would make them look worse than they make themselves look?