Saturday, February 16, 2019

Andrew Sullivan Tergiversates

In his column this week Andrew Sullivan seems to be speaking out of both side of his mouth. He seems to be contradicting himself. Or better, if you would like to learn a new word, he is tergiversating.

Or better, he is back to being the Andrew Sullivan who declared with full confidence that Sarah Palin had not given birth to her youngest son. Because Sullivan is an expert in such matters.

Today, he is opining about today’s leftist democrats, a group that he likes and does not like at the same time. He extols the transcendent virtue of new Rep. Ilhan Omar, a stone cold anti-Semite before denouncing her for being… you guessed it, an anti-Semite.

He begins with this extraordinary distortion, from someone who ought to know better:

Finally in 2019, we have one of two Muslim women in the U.S. Congress, proudly wearing a hijab, and immediately destroying any stupid stereotypes of Muslim women as subservient or silent. We have a seemingly fearless and often charming woman of color with the temerity to interrogate the overwhelmingly white and male foreign policy blob in the heart of our political system. We have a refugee from Somalia as a young congresswoman, a hard-left analogue to the great Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

This, if you need reminding, is America in 2019. …  this is the most successful, multicultural, multiracial democratic experiment in the history of humankind. Omar is part of it. If her success doesn’t make you proud of America, in this broad and nonideological sense, there’s something critical you don’t understand about this country, and why so many of us immigrants love it so.

Begin with the obvious, the hijab is an instrument of female oppression. It is the most visible instrument of female oppression. Nearly all the women who wear it are forced to wear it. If they take it off, they are beaten or jailed, at best. If, in an Islamic Republic, in a nation ruled by the Sharia Law that Omar loves, a woman refuses to wear the hijab, here is what happens to her, via the Daily Mail:

A woman who removed her headscarf in central Tehran last year, sacrificing her job and her freedom, says she did it for her daughter.

Azam Jangravi felt terrified before she decided to clamber onto the electricity transformer box but says she did it for her eight-year-old daughter Viani.

A crowd formed around her on Revolutionary Street and men shouted at her to come down.

She was arrested, fired from her job at a research institute and sentenced to three years in prison for promoting indecency and wilfully breaking Islamic law.

Perhaps Omar wears her hijab because she wants to do so. The truth is, women in nations run by Islamic Law do not have this freedom. Omar’s gesture makes it appear that they do. She is thereby fostering a lie. She certainly fooled Andrew Sullivan. 

And let’s not forget, Somalia is one of the nations in the world that still systematically practices the barbarous custom of forced female genital mutilation. Of young girls. About her own suffering at the hands of Islamic Law in Somalia Ayaan Hirsi Ali has testified openly. She has fought courageously against those fanatics whose misogyny Omar manifests. For Sullivan to compare a woman who has fought Islamic Law and who has been threatened with murder with a woman who manifests it is disgraceful and appalling.

Sullivan seems to believe that Omar has destroyed stupid stereotypes of Muslim women. In truth, Omar was perpetuating such stereotypes when she launched into a viciously anti-Semitic tirade against a Jewish public official… a man whose name she refused to pronounce correctly. She has submitted to the hijab and to God knows what else. She is carrying water for Islamic anti-Semites. If this makes you proud of America, you have a problem.

Of course, our tergiversating friend Sullivan did see Omar’s display of anti-Semitism in her interrogation of Elliott Abrams:

Now look at Omar. She didn’t just push back on AIPAC’s distortion of American foreign policy, she reiterated a classic anti-Semitic trope that American Jews buy influence, period. She didn’t just confront Elliott Abrams, she refused to let him answer anything but loaded “yes” or “no” responses.

Does this make Andrew Sullivan proud to be an American?

Should She Tell her Boyfriend She Was Raped?

Here’s a modern moral dilemma: should she tell her boyfriend that she was raped? Should she tell him that she put herself in an extremely vulnerable position... and was raped?

You might think that it’s an easy question. You might think that it’s easy to decide. And yet, the woman in question went out drinking by herself with friends at their house. She apparently became seriously drunk, too drunk to go home. She seems to have passed out in the spare room. A man she knew got into bed with her and took off her jeans. This tells us, unless I don’t know something, that she had either passed out or was blackout drunk. It is not self-evident that you can remove someone's jeans without waking her up. He started having sex with her. Clearly, she did not consent. Thus he was raping her. She managed to extricate herself, got up and went home. Her boyfriend was angry that she had not come home earlier. She is suffering the trauma of having been raped and asks Guardian advice columnist, Annalisa Barbieri whether she should tell her boyfriend what happened.

Here is her letter:

I was raped by someone I thought was a friend, and am scared that if I tell my partner he will think I’ve cheated or it was my fault.

I had gone for drinks at a friend’s house and fell asleep in the spare room. I woke up and someone was in the bed. It was dark and I couldn’t see who it was. He had taken off my jeans and put himself inside me. I pushed him away, but he did it again. I hit him and got out of there as quickly as I could. He tried to say sorry and I knew then who it was.

I don’t know how long he was there before I woke up. I had drunk too much. Everyone had left and the friend whose flat it was had passed out in another room. No one was there to tell, so I left. I could hear him shouting after me. When I got home my partner was so angry that I had stayed out late. I couldn’t speak and just cried, but couldn’t bring myself to tell him why.

I’ve stayed out drinking before and it’s become a real issue between us. Part of me feels like this is karma for being a bad girlfriend. I would never have slept with the man who raped me. I have no attraction to him, but thought he was someone I was safe around. I was wrong. I shouldn’t have been so drunk. I should have gone home.

If I tell my partner, will he think I’m a slut? Will he be angry? Will it completely change how he looks at me? I’m hoping I can forget it all and move on, but all I want to do is cry. I feel sick and I can still feel that man in me and smell him on me. I just want to forget.

The problem here is that there are multiple issues. As for the rape question, obviously she was raped. For that, by the laws of Great Britain and most other countries, she does not bear any blame or responsibility. If a woman is walking down the street with her handbag open and exposed, the pickpocket who steals her wallet or iPhone is no less guilty of his crime. 

That is, in the eyes of the law, as Barbieri says:

This absolutely was not your fault. It does not matter how late you stay out, how much you have to drink or, for that matter, what you wear: the responsibility for this lies with the perpetrator alone. You are not a slut: he is a rapist. This is not karma: he is a rapist. You are not to blame: he is.

To be fair, we would add that rape is a felony and that the facts must be decided in a trial by jury. The man in question ought to be indicted on rape charges and that a jury will hopefully find him guilty. We do not believe in lynching, do we? The ambiguity over how he managed to get into bed with her would be a matter for the jury to decide.

But, there is more to it than the jury verdict. Telling the woman that none of it was her fault is slightly disingenuous. She was not responsible for being raped—the phrase makes no sense. But, she was responsible for her own behavior, for going out without her boyfriend, for getting extremely drunk, for choosing to crash at the friend’s place and so on. Clearly, she thought that she was among friends. Clearly, she did not believe that there was any chance that she was in danger. Clearly, she was wrong.

Note that her boyfriend is already angry at her… for the behaviors described in the prior paragraph. None of which are at issue. She showed monumentally poor judgment and she did not act like a girlfriend, like a woman who had some responsibility toward her romantic partner.

And she raises an important issue: will her boyfriend see her differently when she explains what happened to her? The issue dogged the recent torrent of #MeToo descriptions. We recall that Jenny Lumet explained in Variety that she had been raped by Russell Simmons. She had not talked about it because, she said, she did not want other people to envision her in such degrading circumstances. This has nothing to do with whether or not she had consented. Clearly, she had not. And yet, in order to show that she had not consented Lumet had to describe the events in detail. As has the woman who wrote to Barbieri.

Being degraded involuntarily is still degrading. In one sense Barbieri is correct. Her boyfriend, if he finds out, will most assuredly be angry. And he might well choose to confront the alleged rapist… who is apparently a friend of both of them. And yet, if he does, what do you think that the alleged rapist will say? Will he say that she edited the story to absolve herself of responsibility?

And since the rape occurred among friends, and since she and her rapist were not alone in the house, other people are also likely to know about it. But, what do they know and whose side will they take? 

If she chooses not to tell, what is the likelihood that the boyfriend will hear about it from other people. In that case, she would do better to tell him… though the chances are fairly good that he will hold her responsible for her own behavior and walk away from the relationship.

If we were merely dealing with a crime the standard advice would suffice. The case would be remanded to a court of law and decided there. Of course, if it is, that would mean not only that it would be publicized, but that all the other friends would be involved, would be called on to testify, and so on.

I raise these issues to point out that these questions should not merely be reduced to the legal issue, to the issue of criminal responsibility. If that were all that there is, we would not have a problem. And yet, responsibility is not merely a criminal matter. And the woman in question is surely responsible for her own behavior, for putting herself in an extremely vulnerable position, and for failing to honor her commitment to her boyfriend.

In a court of law that in no way reduces the rapist’s criminality. And yet, life is not a courtroom.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Did You Say Coup?

Former FBI official Andrew McCabe needs to make some money... for his defense against probable criminal charges. So, he will go on 60 Minutes to explain how he and his fellow FBIers and Justice Department officials pondered mounting a coup against President Trump. They would have used the 25th amendment and declared him incompetent to conduct his office. And yet, Alan Dershowitz explained to Tucker Carlson last night, the amendment specifically aims at removing presidents who are grievously ill. If anyone believes that Trump committed a high crime or misdemeanor, the proper constitutional remedy is impeachment. Thus, these officials were fomenting a coup. 

Dershowitz is serious agitated about this, as rightly he should be.

Diversity Uber Alles

Clear, concise and to the point. Bob McManus takes the measure of New York Mayor de Blasio’s approach to public education (via Maggie’sFarm). He does not merely find it lacking. He finds the mayor and his henchmen striving to destroy the last vestiges of educational opportunity in New York City.

Then again, New York parents voted for de Blasio and for other Democrats in very large numbers, so we will not feel too sorry for them.

Obviously, to anyone who is sensate, the goal of de Blasio is diversity. Educational achievement does not concern them. Providing educational opportunity to the brightest children does not worry them at all. As long as the school system is more diverse.

Being imbeciles these educrats do not understand that the drive to integrate the schools has sent nearly all white parents to the suburbs or to the private school world. Apparently, a few holdouts have sent their children to New York’s premier high schools… like Stuyvesant, Bronx Science and Brooklyn Tech. Those schools are majority Asian… and we can’t have that.

McManus opens:

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s school-integration task force just dropped its initial report—a multilayer cake of mostly impenetrable social-justice jargon, interspersed with a dangerous idea or two, and with a dismaying lack of emphasis on the enduring value of teaching children to read, write, and do numbers. In fact, the report represents a significant victory of show over substance, establishing “diversity” as the principal goal of public education in New York City while exiling accountability—teacher accountability, parent accountability, student accountability—to the ash heap.

Strikingly, the task force has no interest in whether or not children are being educated. By all indications-- see yesterday’s post Teaching in New York City High Schools-- no one is being educated in these schools. And yet, the task force is concerned about diversity. They simply do not care about educating children. So they are taking aim at the better high schools, the ones you enter by passing a rigorous examination:

Or, as the report itself puts it at one point, “the use of exclusionary admissions screens . . . which judge . . . kids on behavior, test scores, and other biased metrics, is the biggest contributor to . . . segregation.” Get rid of “biased metrics,” in other words, and— presto—the problem is solved. But good luck educating children in an environment where behavior and other quantifiable performance standards are deemed an objective impediment to progress.

To produce more diversity and to produce more people who think that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is smart, the task force wants to dumb down the best schools by eliminating objective performance standards:

With some estimable exceptions, the city’s schools are at best mediocre, many are abject failures, and most of the rest are teetering on the edge. But taking direction from this report would move them in the wrong direction. To adopt as official policy the elimination of objective performance standards, as Gonzales counsels and the report ratifies, would bring an end to formal teacher evaluations. It would eliminate all the other benchmarks that parents, taxpayers, and the general public traditionally use to hold officials accountable for schools that don’t educate.

So, the children lose out. Who wins? The usual suspects:

In this sense, the report represents a significant victory for the United Federation of Teachers, education bureaucrats in New York City and Albany, and the money-now, results-later coalition that has been dictating public-education policy in the Empire State for decades. At the same time, it’s a big win for the racialists and other social-justice disrupters intent on dismantling the city’s internationally famous selective-admissions high schools and the various programs meant to give high-performing pupils a leg up in the lower grades.

If Amazon had built a headquarters in Long Island City, the products of New York City’s public school system would never have been able to compete for the good jobs on offer. As happens with many other cities in America, New York is becoming divided between the rich and the rest.

The News from Warsaw

Maybe it’s an important step. Maybe it isn’t. Certainly, it lacks the drama, the sound and the fury that envelops every step the Trump administration takes.

While Congressional Democrats are up in arms to defend people who are in the country illegally and while the New York media is awash in stories about how Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez drove Amazon out of the city, thus costing it thousands of jobs and gobs of tax revenue, an American delegation in Warsaw, Poland is working quietly to advance the cause of peace in the Middle East.

If a Democratic administration had been doing this, it would be huge news. Fortunately, the Wall Street Journal is reporting the story.

The administration has signaled the importance of the conference by sending Secretary of State Pompeo and Vice president Pence. Yet, when it comes to Middle Eastern peace, the  point man is presidential son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner. No one in the media takes him very seriously, so you can assume that he’s an important and competent player. Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley called him “a hidden genius that no one understands.” She did not have to say it, so we will grant her words some credence.

As for the news from Warsaw, the Journal begins its report thusly:

President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, said that a show of unity among Israeli and Arab officials at a U.S.-backed conference here made him feel “optimistic” about prospects for peace in the Middle East, according to officials who witnessed the presentation behind closed doors on Thursday.

Since the Palestinian Authority and its masters in Tehran were not present, Kushner worked to establish something of a working alliance between Israel and the Gulf Arab states. We note that Israeli prime minister Netanyahu attended the meeting along side representatives of the Arab states:

Mr. Kushner, in his closed-door presentation, focused his appeal for support of his peace efforts on the same group—Israel and the Gulf Arab countries—with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu present in the meeting room.

Mr. Netanyahu congratulated Mr. Kushner in response to the presentation during the session, and for being “crazy enough” to “come up with ideas.”

The “normalization” of relations with the Arab world would help, Mr. Netanyahu continued, adding, “I am happy to say there is progress on that.”

One senior Saudi minister spoke favorably of the Kushner plan:

Saudi Arabia’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Adel al-Jubeir, echoed his assent and offered assistance for Mr. Kushner’s plan. “We strongly believe it’s time to find a solution to this long-running conflict,” Mr. Jubeir told the session, officials said.

Mr. Netanyahu’s meeting with senior Arab officials a day earlier was the first such appearance by an Israeli premier in more than two decades.

“We want this to be collaborative,” Mr. Kushner told participants, according to the officials present, who also said he praised Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel for their cooperation.

Significantly, Dennis Ross, a longtime veteran of similar negotiations, expressed guarded optimism:

Dennis Ross, a veteran U.S. diplomat with expertise in the Middle East who chaired a panel at the conference, said he was hopeful after the direct interaction between Israel and Arab countries in Warsaw. “There were actual exchanges. That was new and different,” Mr. Ross said.

Another Saudi official tried to tamp down enthusiasm:

“From the Israeli point of view, Mr. Netanyahu would like us to have a relationship, and then we can fix the Palestinian issue,” former Saudi intelligence chief and ambassador to Washington Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud said in an interview with Israel’s Channel 13 that aired Wednesday. “From the Saudi point of view, it’s the other way around.”

Mr. Pompeo, however, said the common threat of Iran has brought the two countries closer together.

“It’s undeniable that Iran’s aggression in the region has brought Israel and Arab states closer together,” he said in closing remarks. “What I think was even more remarkable is that it didn’t feel all that historic. It felt right, it felt normal, because we were working on a common problem.”

It is not very dramatic, but the fact that it felt right and normal surely counts for something. And it comes at a time when the Democratic Party is becoming seriously anti-Semitic. Something else to consider.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Amazon Bails on New York City

New York’s idiot left flexed its muscles and showed off its strength. The result: Amazon just canceled its plan to build a new headquarters in New York City. There go Long Island City real estate values. And there go a lot of jobs and a lot of tax revenue.

From the Wall Street Journal:

The company said in a blog post Thursday that its commitment to a new headquarters required supportive elected officials and collaboration.

“While polls show that 70% of New Yorkers support our plans and investment, a number of state and local politicians have made it clear that they oppose our presence and will not work with us to build the type of relationships that are required to go forward with the project we and many others envisioned in Long Island City,” the company said.

The Warsaw Conference

Meanwhile, back in Warsaw the United States and the government of Poland have convened a conference on the Middle East. With sixty nations in attendance America’s Secretary of State and Vice President declared that Iran is their common enemy and that they must form a coalition to stop its advance in the region.

It was not a long conference. It will last for a mere two days. And yet, it's a step in the right direction. The image of the prime minister of Israel meeting in the same conference with Arab leaders from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen sent a message. It advances public diplomacy between these nations. It makes slightly more public good diplomatic ties that have been developing behind the scenes.

Netanyahu declared it an historical turning point. The Washington Post reported:

“Yesterday was a historical turning point,” Netanyahu told reporters. “In a room of some 60 foreign ministers, the Israeli prime minister and foreign ministers of leading Arab countries stood together, and spoke with unusual force, clarity and unity against a common threat of the Iranian state.”

And, Israeli website, Debkafile described the event thusly:

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, while seated next to Yemen’s Foreign Minister Khaled al-Yamani on Feb. 14, hailed the Warsaw conference as “historic” – if only for the unprecedented seating arrangements. The US, which co-hosted the Conference for Middle East Peace and Security as a major vehicle for the Trump administration’s campaign against Iran, most likely engineered those arrangements.  The event targeted the opponents of the anti-Iran campaign, at home and in Europe. It was also intended to boost Saudi Arabia, whose armed forces have been battling Iran-backed Yemeni Houthi insurgents for four years, and the United Arab Emirate, whose army is fighting alongside the Saudis in Yemen.

The only problem was that the weak sisters of Western Europe refused to attend. Tsk. Tsk. Leaders like Theresa May, Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel, joined by European Union official Federika Mogherini prefer to prop up the Iranian regime by rejecting American sanctions. Doubtless, they find comfort in the abuse that the Iranian regime rains down on women.

One suspects that it’s all about ego, all about an inability to accept that history is consigning them to the ranks of the weak and ineffectual. Whatever the reason, Western European nations seem hellbent on defying America. And pretending that it makes them seem to be strong and resolute. In the end, it's posturing... but posturing that puts them in bed with a dangerous ally. 

We note that these nations have the worst problems with the migrants that they generously accepted into their countries. And we add that Eastern European nations, led by Poland and Hungary have no such problems—because they built walls.

Thus, alliances in the Middle East are shifting. And the European Union is coming apart at the seams. It’s not just Brexit. It’s a sharp  European division between East and West. One in which the West seems consigned to defeat.

Teaching in New York City High Schools

I trust that everyone knows it, but, to make the point clear, the vast majority of New York City parents who can afford it send their children to private schools. These good liberal progressives would sell their souls to the devil if it meant that their children would not be subjected to the conditions that pertain in the average New York City school. 

As you also know, there are a handful of superior public institutions in the city. Most of them admit students on the basis of an examination. For now they offer a superior educational experience, but the new schools chancellor and the radical leftist mayor have decided that they are not sufficiently diverse… and thus are doing their darndest to destroy the last sliver of educational opportunity that the city offers in its public school system.

But then, how many of us really know what happens within these institutions? How many of us really care… as long as our own children do not have to attend them. Mary Hudson taught in the New York City public high school system for a number of years. She has recounted her harrowing experiences in a long essay for Quillette (via Maggie’s Farm.) The phrase that pops immediately to mind is: the inmates are running the asylum. Teachers exercise no authority. Students do not respect teachers. Students are defiant, hostile and contemptuous. They have no interest in learning anything and will learn nothing. You would have had to try very hard to make it worse.

Among the schools Hudson taught at was Washington Irving High School. It is located in one of New York City’s most charming neighborhoods, Gramercy Park.

Hudson begins her story by recounting her students’ reaction to the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. Thousands of people were dead or injured. The students at Irving cheered lustily. You would have thought that they had been brought up in the pews of Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s church.

Let’s not call their reaction patriotic:

A plane flew right overhead a mere moment before it blasted into the north tower of the World Trade Center. At break time word was spreading among the staff.  Both towers were hit and one had already come down. When I went to my next class I told the students what had happened. There was an eruption of rejoicing at the news. Many students clapped and whooped their approval, some getting out of their seats to do a sort of victory dance. It was an eye-opener, and indicative of what was to come.

The salient characteristic of this high school was that no one was going to learn anything. It was unthinkable Teachers had to redefine their job in terms of keeping a semblance of order:

As the weeks dragged painfully into months, it became apparent that the students wouldn’t learn anything. It was dumbfounding. It was all I could do to keep them quiet; that is, seated and talking among themselves. Sometimes I had to stop girls from grooming themselves or each other. A few brave souls tried to keep up with instruction. A particularly good history teacher once told me that she interrupted a conversation between two girls, asking them to pay attention to the lesson. One of them looked up at her scornfully and sneered, “I don’t talk to teachers,” turning her back to resume their chat. She told me that the best school she ever worked at was in Texas, where her principal managed not only to suspend the most disruptive students for long periods, he also made sure they were not admitted during that time to any other school in the district. It worked; they got good results.

In Texas teachers could exercise discipline. In New York, it would have been discriminatory. You recall the case of Hektor Cruz. You recall that school administrators could not discipline him… because the Obama education department thought it was discriminatory. Keeping unruly children in school makes it impossible for anyone to learn anything:

This was unthinkable in New York, where “in-house suspension” was the only punitive measure. It would be “discriminatory” to keep the students at home. The appropriate paperwork being filed, the most outrageously disruptive students went for a day or two to a room with other serious offenders. The anti-discrimination laws under which we worked took all power away from the teachers and put it in the hands of the students.

It wasn’t just that the students had no loyalty to their nation. They had already learned how to resist… before it became a national movement. Worse yet, the cultural climate disparaged educational achievement. Anyone who excelled at school was bullied and harassed:

Throughout Washington Irving there was an ethos of hostile resistance. Those who wanted to learn were prevented from doing so. Anyone who “cooperated with the system” was bullied. No homework was done. Students said they couldn’t do it because if textbooks were found in their backpacks, the offending students would be beaten up. This did not appear to be an idle threat. Too many students told their teachers the same thing. There were certainly precious few books being brought home.

Students understood that they could get away with abusing teachers. So they abused teachers. Since discipline was out of the question, teachers learned to absorb the abuse.

The abuse from students never let up. We were trained to absorb it. By the time I left, however, I had a large folder full of the complaint forms I’d filled out documenting the most egregious insults and harassment. There was a long process to go through each time. The student had a parent or other representative to state their case at the eventual hearing and I had my union rep. I lost every case.

The abuse ranged from insults to outright violence, although I myself was never physically attacked. Stories abounded, however, of hard substances like bottles of water being thrown at us, teachers getting smacked on the head from behind, pushed in stairwells, and having doors slammed in our faces. The language students used was consistently obscene. 

Of course, the school handed out diplomas… because, what difference did it make? But the ambient culture so thoroughly disparaged education that the students did not even pretend to have earned their diplomas:

High school diplomas were among the trappings, handed out to countless 12th graders with, from my observation, a 7th grade education. The elementary schools had a better record. But everyone knew that once the kids hit puberty, it became virtually impossible under the laws in force to teach those who were steeped in ghetto and gangster culture, and those—the majority—who were bullied into succumbing to it.

Besides, the students already understood the diversity racket. They knew that they would not be judged by the same standards as anyone else, so why bother to put in extra work:

Astonishingly, they believed that they would do just fine and have great futures once they got to college! They didn’t seem to know that they had very little chance of getting into anything but a community college, if that. Sadly, the kids were convinced of one thing: As one girl put it, “I don’t need an 85 average to get into Hunter; I’m black, I can get in with a 75.” They were actually encouraged to be intellectually lazy.

That isn’t the end of Hudson’s story… but it gives you a taste of what the New York City public educational system is like.

The True Face of Anti-Semitism

If you ever had any doubt about the visceral anti-Semitism of Rep. Ilhan Omar her sneering contempt for Elliott Abrams at a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee should have disabused you of the notion. It must count as one of the most appalling episodes in the American Congress. Few people are so consumed by hatred that they cannot even mask it for a four minute question period. Omar is a hardcore anti-Semite.The Democratic leadership knows it. They put her on the Foreign Affairs Committee anyway.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Can You Choose Your Own Titles?

If you thought the pronoun wars were bad, take a look at this. It shows how zealotry creeps into everyday life. In this case, in a nation where children barely ever respect adults, one woman is on a crusade to undermine parental teaching on respecting authority.

She writes to Carolyn Hax:

I hate honorifics for myself and want to be called by my first name, period. Some kids in my life have parents who say they HAVE to call me Ms. Lastname or at least Ms. Firstname. They insist it's important to them that their kids "show respect." I keep telling them the best way their kids can show respect is by respecting what people want to be called! The parents get really upset when I tell the kids, "Please just call me Firstname." We are at an impasse.

Just as you can’t have your own personal pronouns, so too, you cannot have your own honorifics. In a better world parents of children who seem forced to deal with this malcontent would tell their children that they should address her with an honorific: Mrs. or Ms. In a much better world they should all shun her. Why allow a neighbor woman to chastise children for doing the socially correct thing… and for heeding the lessons their parents taught them?

For her part Hax tries to be more understanding. She tries to be understanding toward those who are on both sides of the issue. She writes:

Both of you have made and stood by valid, well-meaning points that ably express who you are and what you believe in. You are living your truth on individuality, good for you; they are living their truth on responsibility, both parental and societal. Good for them.

We appreciate her balanced viewpoint. And yet, social codes do not function on an individual basis. You cannot have your own table manners. If you do, you will find yourself eating alone. And there is no rule in the social code that grants you the permission to live your truth, especially when your truth confuses and effectively abuses children.

In effect, Hax arrives at the same position, but with far more deference to the neighborhood zealot than I can muster.

The Case for Amazon in New York

It’s about time that someone knowledgeable made the case for Amazon in New York City. Thus far, leading politicians, like Cuomo and de Blasio have been singularly inarticulate in defending their plan to offer Amazon tax breaks to move one of its regional headquarters to Long Island City, Queens. 

A band of imbeciles, led by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have stepped into the void. They do not understand the questions or the issues. As noted in prior posts, AOC has relieved Republicans of being the party of stupid. When it comes to stupidity, she’s in a class of her own.

In yesterday’s New York Times, Columbia University professor Kenneth Jackson laid out the case for Amazon, clearly and persuasively. Jackson is an expert on these matters… as opposed to politicians who know nothing at all.

Jackson began by reminding us that state governments have long offered subsidies to corporations. It’s the way the game is played:

Paying companies to relocate has been the American way since 1936, when Mississippi established the nation’s first state-sponsored economic development plan. Under that plan, since followed by many other jurisdictions, cities and states agreed to pay companies to relocate by promising them new factories and low or nonexistent taxes. With those inducements, numerous businesses relocated in the decades after World War II, usually from the union-dominated Northeast and Midwest to the business-friendly South.

As for New York City, it has suffered important economic losses during the twentieth century. It used to be a manufacturing base and used to be the world’s busiest seaport. No more:

During the 20th century, the city lost its two main economic underpinnings: its manufacturing base and its role as the busiest seaport on earth. In 1955, for example, about a million people worked in New York City’s factories, and in its crowded harbor, tramp steamers, ocean liners and tugboats struggled to avoid one another. New York was the leading industrial city in the world.

Factories were the first to leave:

In 1900, New York had 90 breweries and was the beer capital of the nation. But by 1976, the last brewery in the city was gone, and Milwaukee and St. Louis were competing for beer supremacy. Similarly, in 1950, New York’s 300,000 textile workers made most of the women’s clothes sold in the United States. The city had no serious rival. But by 2017, only about 20,000 such workers remained.

And then, beginning in the 1970s Fortune 500 countries began to relocate away from the Big Apple:

 During the 1970s, the city experienced an exodus of Fortune 500 corporations. Dozens of them moved their headquarters and took their executives with them. Some went to suburbs in Connecticut and New Jersey, but many more decamped for Atlanta, Dallas or Houston. The impact on the city was dramatic. Not only did workers laid off from those companies lose their jobs, but their spouses and children suffered as well. Many of them, as demographic statistics reveal, had to move to other states to make a living. Their departure was hidden by the fact that they were often replaced by millions of newcomers from other countries, but those immigrants could not immediately compensate for all those lost jobs.

So, the need for a major corporation like Amazon is manifest. What would it cost if Amazon were to pull out of the Long Island City deal? Jackson explains:

The loss of Amazon would cost 25,000 jobs directly, and those workers would support up to 82,000 more indirect jobs. The subsidies New York has offered to Amazon would have been given to any company promising so many jobs. And Amazon is expected to pay more than $27 billion in taxes over the next 25 years. Amazon will also build four million square feet of office space in Queens, providing billions more in construction spending.

And then there is the reputational cost. If the city becomes identified by imbeciles like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and one Peter Gianaris, it will cease being a world business hub. Why would any company want to locate to a place run by such people:

If Mr. Gianaris and his supporters have their way, and Amazon retreats to Nashville or Atlanta or some other more welcoming city, the mail order house that Jeff Bezos built will probably suffer little. But New York will lose its reputation as a center of economic opportunity, and the city will sink in status and importance. And its legislators and politicians will solidify their reputation as the most overpaid and incompetent in the nation.

Jackson concludes:

Amazon’s opponents should take a longer-term view. If there is no economic opportunity, there are no jobs. If there are no jobs, there is no tax revenue. And without taxes, jobs and opportunity, New York will no longer be first among cities.

Betraying a Confidence

There is little doubt about right and wrong in this letter. Writing to New York Times columnist Kwame Anthony Appiah, a man wants to know if it was wrong to tell a friend’s girlfriend that the friend cheated on her.

You have to wonder why anyone would arrogate to himself the right to betray a confidence, but the letter writer, an older man, the younger man's mentor seems to think that he did little wrong. Now he is upset that neither member of the young couple is talking to him and that he wife thinks that he's an ass.

So, the issue is: how do these things happen? You were wondering about sexual harassment. Did it ever cross anyone’s mind that bad behavior goes far beyond the more dramatic instances? At a time when serious researchers are claiming that it is bad to keep secrets, how about considering what happens when a man fails to keep a secret? 

Here is the letter:

I am of advanced years but still exercise my profession. Not long ago, after I gave a seminar in my field, a young professional approached me with some questions that I happily answered. We kept in touch, and I became his mentor.

Over time, we became friends: the young man and his live-in partner would come to our house for dinner, and my wife and I would go to theirs.

The relationship between this man and his partner was often bumpy, in large part because of his drinking problem, which also affected him professionally. His partner accused him of infidelity, which he denied. Because of his behavior, his partner moved out for a time; I spent many hours with them on the phone, helping them to work this out, and they got back together.

Not long after, this young man confessed to me that, following their reconciliation, he engaged in sexual activity with several partners during a night of heavy drinking. I was very disturbed, and after several days of agonizing, and mindful that I could not take it back, I decided I needed to speak to his partner and relate what had happened. I did so and then alerted the young man to what I had done.

Since then, we have not spoken, nor have the partner and I spoken, despite my leaving voice mail messages for each. My wife blasted me for destroying the young man’s relationship and for not consulting her before calling his partner. Can you help sort this all out for me?

Not much to sort out here, bunky. You are an ass. You have no sense of propriety. You betray a confidence and violate the trust of a mentee… and you are wondering what you did wrong. By your own admission you are older. Thus, you ought to know better. You don’t. We don't feel sorry for you. We believe that your weak character merits the mess you produced. Worse yet, having seen the calamity you incited, you do not even feel any shame for your own bad behavior. Isn't that the worst part of the letter?

What does Appiah have to say?

In ordinary circumstances — and, alas, that is what these are — when someone tells you something with the implicit expectation that you won’t tell his partner, you shouldn’t contemplate breaking that confidence without first telling him. One reason is that the confidence-sharer has the right to try to dissuade you, especially when, as here, he knows more than you about the disclosure’s possible consequences. It would also have allowed him to pre-empt you by passing on the information himself and so manage the consequences as he thought best.

You also took this important decision without consulting your wife. (Is it because you suspected that she would talk you out of it?) But she, too, has relationships with these younger people, and she might have helped you think through your decision; she might also have been better placed than you to pass on the information if, in the end, you still decided it was right to do so.

Fair enough, and sensible too. After all, Appiah is trying to get through to the dolt… so naturally he needs to use a little nuance.

But then, Appiah becomes slightly judgmental. The fault, he says, lies with the man who betrayed his commitment to his girlfriend. True enough, but not entirely germane to the question at hand.

On the other hand, I don’t entirely agree with your wife that it was you who destroyed the relationship between this young man and his partner. Your young friend did that when he got drunk and cheated. And given that you were friends with both of them, he left you in a quandary when he told you of his misbehavior.

Actually, I don’t think it was a quandary. It was simple. When someone takes you into his confidence you have no right to share the information with someone who is obviously going to be hurt by the disclosure. And you have no business using the information as a weapon against a new friend, sabotaging his relationship for no reason beyond your own need to feel morally superior. The inability to keep a secret is a major character flaw. It is even worse when you are the person's mentor. Let’s not even try to excuse it.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Biased Journalists... Who Would Have Thought It?

You might imagine that the media is increasingly biased against Republicans. We are not talking about editorials or opinion journalism. We are thinking about the way it presents the facts. If former Times editor Jill Abramson could aver that the Times slants news coverage to make Trump look bad, you know that the problem has moved beyond the realm of reasonable doubt.

But, what good is speculation when we can have a research study. Performed by University of British Columbia doctoral candidate Eric Merkley, the new study focuses on the way the mainstream media reported on economic news. News about unemployment, productivity and GDP. 

The story was published in an academic journal, entitled American Politics Research. Eric Dolan provided a summary on PsyPost, a go-to source for psycho news.

What did Merkley find? Dolan reports:

He found that the tone of economic news coverage was more positive during Democratic presidencies, even after controlling for the economic performance.

“Journalists broadly lean to the political left and this has become increasingly true over time. These findings suggest there is a real possibility that journalists subtly frame news content in ways that serve their partisan interests,” Merkley told PsyPost.

“The key word is subtly. This study provides no evidence that mainstream media deliberately manufacturers false or misleading content to harm Republican presidents. Rather, the findings are consistent with confirmation bias. Journalists appropriately reduce tone in economic news in response to worsening economic conditions under Republican presidents, but are problematically more charitable during Democratic administrations.”

“This shouldn’t be a huge surprise. Being objective and impartial is darn near impossible for journalists and all citizens when our cognitive hard-wiring is oriented towards supporting our social group identities when we see and interpret information in the political world.”

Why do journalists report highlight economic news that makes Democrats look good while downplaying economic news that makes Republicans look good? Merkley suggests that confirmation bias plays an important part. That means, for the uninitiated, that people tend to select out facts that confirm their beliefs while ignoring facts that tend to disprove them. And he is correct to add that anyone who belongs to a group that thinks a certain way will tend to think the same way… the better to maintain his standing in the group.

Fair points. They affirm what we had all suspected. And they help us to suppress our tendency to ascribe malevolent motives to those we disagree with.

Portrait of a Failing Subway System

Yesterday, the New York Times performed a valuable public service. It ran an article comparing the New York City subway system to public transportation systems in other parts of the world. It did so by asking people who had experienced the New York system and those of other great cities around the world what they thought. Guess what: New York’s seems inevitably to have been the worst. By a lot.

Guess what: New York subways seemed more to be a relic of the past than a vision of the future. One would be hard put not to conclude that New York City, in many respects the world’s leading city, is in serious decline. If you think that America ought to be leading the world, ask yourself how many cities want to emulate its leading city’s subway system?

The Times does not pull its punches. It opens with these two paragraphs:

What smells like a “nightclub toilet,” evokes the feeling of “an underworld” and resembles a “working museum”?

That would be the New York City subway, according to international readers who have experienced it.

Tokyo inhabitant Yukari Sakamoto offered his experience:

I lived in New York for many years, and two things happened to me on the subway. First, I was held up. There were other riders in the car, and no one did anything to help. Second, I was on a train and a man had a gun. Everyone panicked, and people fled to the ends of the train. This doesn’t happen in Tokyo.

In Tokyo, people are polite, well-mannered, courteous and respectful. Don’t expect it in New York.

Ruth Dreier lives in Amsterdam. She used to live in New York. She compares the two cities’ public transportation systems:

When I moved to Amsterdam after 15 years in New York, I had no idea that transport could actually run on a schedule. All I knew was to schedule extra time.

I still don’t trust the timetables, mainly because I want to keep some of my New Yorker-ness!

It’s not just first world cities. The Istanbul subway is a model of efficiency and cleanliness. Alex Francis Burchard describes it:

The metro is pretty fantastic. The trains can carry a massive number of people. We have mild overcrowding for an hour or two a day, but it’s usually not horrendous. Trains are almost never delayed thanks to good maintenance. My line, the M2, carries about 400,000 people each day without trouble.

The trains have TV screens that play lots of things. My favorites are the cat (and sometimes dog) videos.

The metro sparkles: Trains and stations are shiny clean. What I like most, though, is how fast it’s expanding. There are plans to go from 105 miles of track to about 680 miles in the next decade or so.

Burchard offers his experience of the New York system:

I’ve come to New York for robotics competitions. The subway gets you there. That’s about it. It was slow and broken, with lots of trash and decay. I felt like I was in an underworld.

If you are falling behind Istanbul it’s time to revise your thinking… and stop puffing up your empty self-esteem and start trying to solve the problem.

When Is an Apology Not an Apology?

The Democratic Party is in damage control mode. Now that two of their new Muslim Congresspeople have exposed themselves as virulent anti-Semites, the party has circled the wagons and is pretending to distance itself from Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib. And to do so without offending two of their important constituencies, Jews and African-Americans.

The Party’s Congressional Black Caucus has embraced Rev. Louis Farrakhan. The party standard bearer for eight years was a protégé of Rev. Jeremiah Wright. And, the Obama administration welcomed notable anti-Semite Rev. Al Sharpton to the White House on dozens of occasions. When Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed a joint session of Congress, the CBC boycotted the event. The world leaders of anti-Semitism, Jew hatred are living in Tehran and Gaza and Southern Lebanon. The latter two are being financed by the mullahs in Tehran. Need we mention again that the Iranian regime was propped up and financed by the Obama administration? And that the planeloads of cash that Obama and Kerry sent to Iran has been used to finance anti-Israeli terrorism in Gaza and Southern Lebanon. The association of Democrats with anti-Semitism is only news for those who do not know how to think.

Yesterday, party leaders got together and forced Omar to offer up yet another insincere apology for trafficking in anti-Semitic tropes. In it Omar said that she is being educated about anti-Semitic tropes. Apparently, a member of the Congress, a functioning adult, did not know that her remarks manifested anti-Semitism. She must think that the nation is dumber than she is.

And we will note that her bigotry is costing her nothing. She still sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, an appointment made after she had made other anti-Semitic remarks. If the House leadership is too afraid of the anti-Semites in its midst to remove her, she ought to resign that assignment. An apology that costs you nothing is insincere. By definition.

You have to be beyond stupid to believe such things. The problem is that this is not the first time that Omar has apologized for her anti-Semitism. It is the second time in a little more than a month. To be clear about it, an apology implies a vow not to repeat the same offense. If you apologize and then repeat your dereliction you have gone back on your word and thus rendered your first apology insincere and untrustworthy. At that point no one should believe in your second apology. 

Omar is a bigot. She is an anti-Semite. She represents one of the ugliest of world bigotries, and has exposed the Democratic Party as its new source. If she remains on the House Foreign Affairs Committee the Democratic Party will be throwing its lot in with anti-Semites… and with those who are dedicated to killing Jews.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Democrats for Trump

Just when you thought that Democrats had it in the bag, along comes a new generation of braindead Democrats to make Republicans look good again.

President Trump’s approval numbers remain anemic, but Democrats are doing everything in their power to make it appear that they do not offer an alternative.

Case in point, the Green New Deal promoted by new superstar Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. When asked to comment on it, no less than William Shakespeare pronounced it: “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” The bard always had a way with words.

Unfortunately, as numerous commentators have noted, the Green New Deal reads like a high school paper proposed by a not-very-bright student. Niall Ferguson dubs it  a Green Leap Forward, the better to evoke one of the world’s greatest socialist catastrophes, Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward… a policy agenda that produced mass starvation at a level no one had ever seen before. Thanks to the Great Leap Forward some 35 million Chinese starved to death.

Anyway, the Green New Deal would effectively shut down and destroy the American and the world economies. Don’t say that AOC does not think big? And don’t say that her branch of the Democratic Party is far more concerned with destroying than building? After all, they were spoon fed deconstruction in college and deconstruction, by definition, does not involve building.

This is what happens when you mistake you fantasies for reality. Ferguson outlines the Green New Deal:

The measures proposed in the Green New Deal to “achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions” are breathtaking. More nuclear power stations? Er, no. Comrades, we’re talking about a “10-year national mobilisation” on the scale of the Great Patriotic War . . . sorry, I meant the Second World War. By the end of the Green Leap Forward, 100% of US power demand will be met from “clean, renewable and zero-emission energy sources”, which means geothermal, hydro, solar and wind. Nukes are out, according to the FAQ sheet on the “10-Year Plan” released by AOC’s office.

As noted, this would simply shut down the world economy and return us all to the state of nature. Which is, one supposes, the point. That the state of nature comported its own dangers seems not to have crossed the mind of AOC.

“All existing buildings in the United States” are going to be upgraded “to achieve maximum energy efficiency”. And there is going to be investment in high-speed rail “at a scale where air travel stops becoming necessary”. All this is going to be financed “the same way we paid for the original New Deal, World War II, the bank bailouts, tax cuts for the rich and decades of war — with public money appropriated by Congress”.

We are all in favor of better rail travel, yet California’s efforts to build a high speed railroad from San Francisco to Los Angeles—it make it easier, one supposes, for illegal migrants and other homeless people to move between encampments—are a massive boondoggle, largely over budget and unlikely ever to be finished.

And also, Ferguson continues, the Green New Deal promises to do everything possible and imaginable for everyone. And no one is required to work for it. You can have it all. They will give you everything you want and it won’t cost you a cent. Does it get any dumber?

While they are at it, the people’s commissars are also going to “guarantee a job with a family-sustaining wage, adequate family and medical leave, paid vacations and retirement security to all people of the United States”, not to mention “(i) high-quality healthcare; (ii) affordable, safe and adequate housing; (iii) economic security; and (iv) access to clean water, clean air, healthy and affordable food and nature”.

The highlight of AOC’s FAQ sheet was the pledge of “economic security” for people “unable or unwilling to work”.

And, of course, one cannot but point out that AOC is the perfect imbecile, designed to make Republicans look like the party of genius:

This is what you get when you recruit your legislators more or less directly from college. For this is the language of countless student union resolutions, freighted with the pious verbiage of today’s “intersectionality”, oblivious to the echoes of the totalitarian regimes of the past. And yet this document has been endorsed by (thus far) five of the leading candidates for the Democratic nomination in 2020.

Don’t say that Democrats have not accomplished anything yet.

The Democrat will to self-deconstruct does not stop with the Green New Deal. Recently, we have been regaled with the spectacle of the three most important Democratic officials in Virginia being called out for racism and for sexual assault. You can’t make this stuff up. Since everyone has been happy to note that those who live by identity politics die by identity politics, I will repeat it.

So, the Democratic governor placed a racist picture on his medical school yearbook page. The Democratic lieutenant governor has been accused of sexual assault twice already. And the Democratic attorney general has his own blackface controversy.

Last week all three men were battling for political survival after a) the publication of a photograph from Northam’s medical school yearbook showing two students, one in blackface and the other in a Ku Klux Klan hood (it’s not clear which is Northam); b) the allegation, strongly denied by Fairfax, that he sexually assaulted a woman in 2004; and c) the admission by Herring that he, too, wore blackface in college.

Obviously, this has given media pundits a formidable challenge. How do you go about defending your holier-than-thou calls for the crucifixion of Brett Kavanaugh while turning a blind eye to worse dereliction in the Democratic party. Are they up to the challenge?

You almost think that these Democratic socialists are part of a vast conspiracy designed to give Donald Trump a second term as America’s president:

There are a great many reasons why Trump ought to be a one-term president. Yet the further the Democratic Party lurches to the left under the influence of AOC and her fellow social justice warriors, the higher the probability of his re-election. In American politics, unlike in Europe, those who live by the s-word die by the s-word.