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.