Monday, November 30, 2020

Annual Fundraising Campaign

It’s that time of the year. As has become a tradition in these parts, I have chosen to celebrate Cyber Monday by beginning my annual fundraising campaign.

I have been putting up daily posts on this blog for more than twelve  years now. I trust that you consider that to be praiseworthy. Obviously, it takes time and work to do the job, and I could not have done it without the financial support of you, the readers.

So, allow me to thank you for your past and future generosity. It is much appreciated.

In principle, this blog attempts to keep you informed of the latest from the psycho world. It has tracked the influence of therapy culture, its effects on individuals and its political and social fallout.

I have expanded the coverage to include questions involving political psychology, social psychology, organizational psychology and so on.

Precious few writers are doing this job, but surely it needs to be done. It is important that we recognize the way therapy has come to define our culture, direct our actions and  influence our thoughts.

Anyway, if you believe that the project merits financial support, you can contribute by clicking on the orange Donate button, on the left side of this page. Then, the folks at Paypal will help you to contribute as much as you would like. You can make a one time holiday contribution or a monthly contribution.

And, you can also support the blog by doing your Christmas shopping at Amazon. If you enter the Amazon site by clicking the Amazon ad at the left of this page, a percentage of each purchase price will be credited to your humble blogger. Thus, you can support the blog-- at no extra cost.

If you do not wish to use Paypal, I gratefully accept checks or cash sent to my address:

               310 East 46th St. 24H

               New York, NY   10017

 Since this is a week-long fundraising campaign, I will be repeating this post several other times throughout the week. Be prepared.

 Thank you in advance.

Undoing "The Undoing"

Warning: this post contains spoilers, a lot of spoilers. If you want to watch David Kelley’s latest foray into television miniseries, that being “The Undoing” with fresh eyes, wait until you have seen it all to read this post.

Obviously, to me at least, I felt morally obligated to watch a television series whose central character was a high toned, high fashioned therapist on New York’s Upper East Side. I know that world better than most, and I was curious to see how Kelley portrayed it-- following the lead of a novel by the same name.

Generally speaking, the show fails on multiple levels. Among them, and perhaps not the most compelling, is that the characters were presented as caricatures. It may be because Nicole Kidman can’t act. It may be because the story was a feminist morality tale. It may be because the authors, the novelist and the screenwriter can’t write. It may be that they both hold such people in total contempt and lack the talent required to mask their ill feelings.

No matter the reason, the show’s characters were not very interesting. Take the character no one seems to mention, Grace Fraser’s (Nicole Kidman) father, played by Donald Sutherland. We see the old geezer living in a palatial Fifth Avenue apartment. We know that he is mega-wealthy and that he is obviously retired. In his dotage he has become an aesthete-- he plays piano and seems to spend all his afternoons looking at one painting in one gallery-- I assumed that it was the Frick Collection.

And yet, we do not know how he earned his money, what his business was. No, he is merely the doting father of psychologist Grace Fraser, the doting grandfather of the twelve year old Henry Fraser. 

We are also told that when his son-in-law, the accused murderer Jonathan Fraser asked him for a cool half a million dollar loan, he just handed it over, without saying a word to his daughter. It’s an absurd misjudgment on the author’s part-- because people with that kind of money do not throw it around like chump change. And it is highly unlikely that he would not wonder what the money was for. And surely, he would say something to his daughter.

Anyway, the story has a slightly classist tinge. Pediatric oncologist Jonathan Fraser, played fairly well by Hugh Grant-- had an affair with the mother of one of his patients. The doctor performed a medical miracle and saved the woman’s son. The mother was Elena Alves. 

In addition, in order to make the story even more implausible the Alves son attends the toney Reardon school, on a scholarship of course. As a result Elena is invited into the meeting where the school mothers organize a fundraiser. Being the mother of an infant, she is breastfeeding, and manages to shock the assembled mothers by whipping out her left breast in order to feed the baby-- in the midst of the meeting.

It is patently absurd, and slightly derogatory.

In addition, Elena also belongs to the same fitness center as does Grace Fraser. You wonder whether she was going there on a scholarship-- the detail is not plausible on its face.

After a Pilates class one day Elena, fully frontally naked, walks up to a seated Grace and seems defiantly to be showing off her assets. 

She knows what Grace does not know-- namely that her baby was fathered by Grace’s husband, Jonathan. In truth, no one knows less about Grace's life than Grace. She was presented as a serious therapist-- she seems to know nothing about human psychology.

And Grace also does not know that, as a result of the affair, Jonathan has been fired from his hospital position. Eventually, she finds out, but you have to wonder how obtuse a human being can be. One suspects that the loan Jonathan sought from his father-in-law was a stop-gap to hide the absence of income. 

Not to be too obvious, but it is inconceivable that the sacking of a famous pediatric oncologist for having had an affair with the mother of a patient would almost not have made the news. Effectively, it is a public, not a private event. And, it would certainly have been choice gossip among the smarter set on the Upper East Side.

Making Grace ignorant is simply bad writing. But then, does Elena know that her paramour, the father of her child has lost his job. If so, she will most surely not be overly avid to become his new wife or even to merge their families, as she seems to have suggested on the night she was murdered.

In any event, shortly after Elena goes full frontal on us and immediately after she shows up at a school fundraiser, she is murdered. You might think that her cuckold husband is a good suspect, given that he is now bringing up the child his wife had with Jonathan. Surely, he had good reason to feel anger. And yet, the husband is a person of color, so that cannot be the case. 

You might consider Grace to be a good suspect, as she, an older woman, might feel more than a little anger at being flashed by a much younger woman.

Consider this. Grace has developed the habit of taking nighttime strolls through Manhattan’s more unsavory neighborhoods, in robe and nightgown. Again, these perambulations make no sense-- if she did it in reality, without security, she would not have survived very long. Also, the story, filled with misdirection, tells us that, on the night that Elena was murdered, Grace was seen on the street leading up to Elena’s studio-- the place where the murder took place.

Of course, Grace is a therapist, and apparently not a very good one, and she is a woman, so she could not have committed the crime.

The criminal is, you guessed it, the straight white male, Jonathan Fraser, the unemployed pediatric oncologist.

The difference between Jonathan and the other possible suspects is quite simply that Jonathan has no real reason for killing a woman he says he loves. According to the story, Elena wanted to meet his son or some such, which caused Jonathan to fly into a rage and hit her. You see, he lacks the milk of human empathy-- as Grace's courtroom testimony makes abundantly clear-- so therefore he is a homicidal maniac.

The psychology that produced this conclusion is lame.,

So, Jonathan rejected Elena and unceremoniously tossed her aside. She came back at him with a mallet. He grabbed the mallet and smashed her face. In death, her face was unrecognizable. Surely, other suspects might be threatened by her youthful beauty-- but Jonathan was not one of them.

In other words, you are watching a novelist and a screenwriter selling out art to propaganda.

I have not and do not intend to read the novel, but apparently it was about female self-empowerment. The story, as presented on the television screen shows a barely competent therapist who is completely oblivious to what is going on in her life, but who manages to exact revenge by destroying her husband from the witness stand.

This is not about self-empowerment. It is feminist propaganda masquerading as art. Sadly.

Among the show's flaws, aptly described by Rachel Cooke in The New Statesman, is Kidman’s bad acting. Not only bad acting, but, given how much work she has had done on her face-- that would be the correct phasing on the Upper East Side-- the fact that she has no facial expressions. She is as bad as Gretchen Whitmer.

Cooke sees it clearly:

I realise now that you can only laugh so many times at someone who, on receiving the worst possible news (your husband might have committed a murder!), simply stares into the middle distance like some poor coeliac vaguely wondering if it might be possible to get a gluten-free bagel.

Kidman’s expressions, whether sad or happy, calm or terrified, are now so weirdly similar I sometimes struggle to understand the inference of her lines. “I’m having a hard time functioning,” her character, Grace Fraser, told her plutocrat father (Sutherland) as the scale of the crisis she was facing became apparent. But since, at this moment, she looked exactly the same as when the pudendum pounced, when she was making a peanut butter sandwich, when she was having sex and when she was advising a distressed patient, I wondered for a moment if this was merely sarcasm. If she’d broken into a robot voice and shouted, “This does not compute, this does not compute!” I wouldn’t have been surprised.

One will not pretend to understand the psychology of flashing another woman in the locker room, but Cooke has a good understanding. It is more threatening than seductive:

Elena was also – until she was found dead – the owner of both the passive aggressive breasts, whipped out to feed her baby at a school fundraising committee meeting, and of the eye-level pudendum, flashed post-Pilates at the gym while Grace blinked away furiously. (I momentarily wondered if Elena’s wax job was not up to snuff, this being Manhattan, but then I remembered Grace is a therapist: vulvas are fascinating, but Brazilians are not.) Jonathan’s story is that Elena became obsessed with his life, and his wife, but that, although he confronted her about this, he did not kill her.

The flaw, as Cooke sees it, lies in the simple fact that the relationship between Grace and Jonathan makes no sense:

It’s that I simply don’t believe in Grace and Jonathan as a couple, whether they’re rolling around in their 400 thread count sheets, or sitting opposite each other on little plastic chairs in the visiting room of a state penitentiary. 

Roxana Hadadi has a similar critique-- noting that after showing us a couple of therapy sessions in the first episode, Grace’s professional life vanished from the screen:

For weeks now, I’ve wondered about Grace’s motivations and why she, a very respected psychologist with a Ph.D. from Harvard and what seemed to be a thriving practice until Kelley just became disinterested in maintaining that subplot, would just seem to throw up her hands and let Jonathan around their son. The man is a murder suspect! Who lied about his infidelity and his firing and his stealing money from your father and his plans to flee the city! And yet Grace was so passive for so long that I honestly cannot really tell if we were supposed to believe the character when she said she didn’t think Jonathan was capable of this crime—in past episodes, at least.

The show is filled with implausibilities, some of which I have mentioned. Hadadi describes those that occurred at the end of the story, when Jonathan, realizing that he is going to be found guilty, takes off in his Range Rover, with his frightened son by his side. It is supposed to be suspenseful-- will he or will he not crash the car? Will he or will he not jump off a bridge?

Hadadi describes the flaws in the chase scene:

Jonathan Fraser was exactly who we thought him to be, while it took Grace Fraser far too long to do anything about it, and Henry Fraser’s choices stayed making no sense at all. And once all those narrative fake-outs collapsed upon themselves, The Undoing felt quite hollow, didn’t it? 

… the [last] episode really swerves after Grace’s “bombshell” of a testimony. Why weren’t police stationed outside of Jonathan’s apartment to ensure that he didn’t try to flee? Why didn’t Grace personally walk Henry to school that morning, or have Franklin drop him off? (IN THE HELICOPTER, LIKE AN ENVIRONMENTALLY DESTRUCTIVE BALLER.) Why wasn’t Grace monitoring Henry’s phone? Why would Henry, after overhearing his father trying to frame him for murder, agree to go to breakfast with him without cluing in his mother or grandfather first? The Henry from last week, who so desperately wanted his parents to stay together over plates of prosciutto and cantaloupe (thank you, commenters!), probably would have done all this. But the Henry from this week, after realizing how unbelievably selfish and depraved his father is? Why would that Henry do this!

In the end, it is a banal story, a feminist fairy tale, one that lacks narrative cohesion, dramatic interest or competent performances. If all you get out of it is that the white male did it, because white males always do it-- you are witnessing artistic malpractice.

Hadadi concludes:

No, The Undoing was about the everyday evils, the very mundane depravity, conducted by men. It was about Jonathan Fraser’s sneer, and his shout, and his self-importance, and his sex drive, and his death wish. The petty narcissism of rich white men? It’s a tale as old as time, and I wish The Undoing had said anything new about it.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

French Intellectuals Reject Critical Race Theory

Several years ago, before America was ruled by the big bad Trump, France suffered a series of horrific terrorist attacks. As was his wont, our woke president at the time, one Barack Obama, refused to condemn the Islamist terrorism that had provoked the attacks. Better yet, when asked about the terrorists who murdered people in a kosher supermarket, the woke Obama refused to denounce the anti-Semitism involved. He also refused to send a senior government official to attend a protest march against Islamist terrorism.

For that he has received limitless plaudits from the idiot wing of the American Jewish community.

Anyway, critical race theory, currently infecting the minds of American schoolchildren, did not just emerge fully grown during the Black Lives Matter insurrection. It was alive and well, marinating during the Obama presidency, a time when the president’s actions, his successes and failures were ignored because-- of who he was, not for anything he accomplished. Surely, he is the only human being ever to receive a Nobel Peace Prize, not for doing anything, but for being who he was.

Anyway, the theoretical foundation for such actions lies in what is called Critical Race Theory. It is a variant on the Black Liberation Theology preached by one Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Apparently, Barack Obama sat in Wright’s pews for twenty years and did not notice what was being preached.

Now, American schoolchildren are being indoctrinated in this very same theory, which teaches that America was founded to promote and sustain slavery. See the New York Times historical distortion called the 1619 Project. It also teaches that white people are responsible for all of he world’s evil and that black people and people of color must join together to overthrow the white supremacist hegemony.

It is a piece of theoretical stupidity, the kind of nonsense that arrives when you discard objective standards for validating ideas and substitute identity-- meaning that the race or gender of the person who promotes the ideas makes them correct or incorrect. This means that anti-racist morons like Robin diAngelo and Ibram X. Kendi are praised as great minds, regardless of the quality of their work.

While America strolls merrily down the path of self-deconstruction-- destroy the minds of America’s children and you are on the road to destitution and desolation-- the French government of Emmanuel Macron has taken a stand against Islamist terrorism-- the kind that Barack Obama refused to name-- and also against American Critical Race Theory.

One notes that Macron is a center left politician. He is not part of the vast right wing conspiracy. 

One notes that the Trump administration had already banned American government agencies from promulgating Critical Race Theory. And that the presumably incoming Biden administration, more woke than thou and certainly more diverse, is certain to bring it back.

If you were feeling optimistic about the state of the American mind, give it a good rethink.

Anyway, the Macron government in France, reeling over recent terrorist attacks, has openly denounced American Critical Race theory. It is warning the French school system against adopting this mindless and useless and dangerous theoretical aberration.

In addition, 100 important French academics also denounced Critical Race Theory as a danger to republican government and to rational thought. Maybe we can bring a few of them over here, for some serious anti-anti racism training.

The Unz Review has the story:

Earlier in the month, Macron’s Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer railed against the alien infiltration of American “Critical Race Theory” in the French social sciences. This is in the context of Black Lives Matter style violence that engulfed France over the summer, which surprised and angered the population.

100 prominent French academics signed a letter affirming Blanquer’s statement, and calling for the French people to defeat an “American” ideology that preaches hatred of “whites” (a word that, unlike Trump, they explicitly used) and the indigenous Gallo-Romans of France. While the academics and Blanquer primarily blame Saudi-funded Islamist preachers for the death of Samuel Paty, they also believe US influence on their intellectuals has made it socially acceptable to murder white people.

In an interview with a French journal, Blanquer reiterated this sentiment, “There is a fight to be waged against an intellectual matrix coming from American universities and intersectional theses that want to essentialize communities and identities, at the antipodes of the Republican model, which postulates the equality between human beings, independently of their characteristics of origin, sex, religion. It is the breeding ground for a fragmentation of societies that converges with the Islamic model.”

For some strange reason it took left-of-center French politicians to see that Critical Race Theory teaches people to hate white people. If you or your children are white, it teaches self-loathing. But this also makes it more acceptable to kill white people, to attack the police with Molotov cocktails and lasers, to burn and loot their businesses.

Of course, journalists are saying that Macron is merely asserting his bona fides as a terrorist fighter. How better to prepare to run against Marine Le Pen in 2022. We would do better to put our cynicism aside and imagine that he is addressing a real problem, with a courage that our 44th president could never muster.

Considering that France is some 9% Muslim, that Muslims live in No-Go zones, and that Muslim cultural values, the ones that allow one to decapitate a schoolteacher for showing a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed, he is showing a level of political courage that is alien to America’s Democratic Party.

One trusts that Americans do not believe that their new foray into anti-racism is going to earn them plaudits among our traditional allies. Remember that the American left has been whining in their crying towels over how much Donald Trump alienated America’s traditional allies. In truth, it appears that Critical Race Theory has made America look like a band of imbeciles, a nation whose cultural aberrations ought not to be emulated.


Saturday, November 28, 2020

The Presidential Pardon in Action

One might well ask, with Matt Margolis, whose side are they on? (via Maggie’s Farm) When President Trump pardoned Lt. General Michael Flynn the armies of the American left rose up to denounce the abuse of presidential pardon power. Of course, there was no abuse, Alan Dershowitz remarked clearly. But it does not really matter. Democrats can say anything they want, distorting the facts and the law as they please, and the supine American media will simply fall in line-- with cheers.

Then again, Flynn was a general in the United States Army. For his service he was set up by the Obama FBI and harassed judicially by the Mueller commission and rogue judges. Clearly, in the culture war between soldiers and lawyers, the lawyers won several rounds. They destroyed Flynn’s life. Only Trump’s pardon began to set things straight.

Margolis reminds us:

President Trump granted a full pardon to former National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn. If there was ever a case where there was a miscarriage of justice, it was this one, and the pardon was a long time coming. Flynn was set up by the Obama administration and railroaded by the FBI. Simply put, they went after him for something that was not a crime, then set up a perjury trap for him in order to get him fired as Trump’s national security advisor. Obama officials also withheld exculpatory evidence, launched and carried out a bogus investigation over claims of Russian collusion where there was no empirical evidence.

Pardoning a general who had his life destroyed because he did not support the Iran nuclear deal-- because that was the issue-- is a crime against whatever the left considers holy. 

And yet, Barack Obama issued more pardons and commutations than any other president in modern times. If you ask who he pardoned, it turns out that he was not only pardoning criminal drug dealers, but was happy to commute sentences of terrorists and traitors. Obviously, the Democratic Party is not the party of patriotism:

Remember when Barack Obama commuted the sentence of Bradley Manning (you may also know him as Chelsea), who leaked hundreds of thousands of sensitive government documents to WikiLeaks? He was convicted in 2013 and sentenced to 35 years in prison. Manning was a traitor in every sense, but became a hero of the political left for declaring himself to be transgender, and Obama made his controversial commutation just days before leaving office. Manning maintains hero status amongst the left today.

Obama also commuted the sentence of convicted terrorist Oscar Lopez Rivera, the leader of the Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional Puertorriqueña (FALN), a Puerto Rican terrorist group. FALN was responsible for 130 attacks in the United States, and at least six deaths. An unrepentant Lopez-Rivera was serving a 70-year sentence when Obama set him free. The Congressional Black Caucus had repeatedly lobbied for Lopez’s release during the Obama years, and the commutation was met with praise from Democrats like Bill de Blasio, Congressman Luis Gutiérrez, Bernie Sanders, and others.

Obama also granted clemency to hundreds of drug offenders he claimed were non-violent and deserved a second chance, because of racism or something. It later came out that many of the people he released were actually violent offenders guilty of gun crimes. Obama granted more acts of clemency than any president since Truman, though he saved much of that executive use of power for the latter months and days of his presidency.

Biden's Middle East Policy

Yesterday, the lead scientist in Iran’s nuclear weapons program was assassinated on a street in Tehran. No one mourned the death of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, except perhaps for Barack Obama’s CIA director, John Brennan, a man who clearly sides with the mullahs against American interests.

Brennan was terrified that the awesomely powerful Iranian regime will retaliate before the Biden administration has a chance to undo the progress that the Trump administration has made in the Middle East.

Yet, even before it takes power, the Biden foreign policy team has already stepped in to undermine a potential detente between Israel and Saudi Arabia.

No significant agreements came from the recent meeting between the Israeli prime minister and the Saudi crown prince. Clearly, the Trump administration had wanted something, but just as clearly, the Saudi crown prince needed to respect the wishes of the incoming administration.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flew into Saudi Arabia last weekend for a secret nighttime rendezvous with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, he and his allies in Washington hoped to win assurances that a normalization deal between the two longtime Middle East rivals was in reach, Saudi advisers and U.S. officials said.

Instead, after the meeting the Israeli leader returned home empty-handed and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in Saudi Arabia at the time as well, watched as a potential capstone to the Trump administration’s efforts to reorder the politics of the region and build a bulwark against Iran slipped from his grasp, the advisers and officials said.

U.S. officials had hoped to build on the momentum of the so-called Abraham Accords, which formalized ties between Israel and two other Gulf Arab states, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, and remove the biggest remaining barrier to Israel’s diplomatic integration into the region—a central part of President Trump’s effort to contain Tehran.

But Prince Mohammed pulled back from a deal, according to the Saudi advisors and U.S. officials, largely because of the U.S. election result. Saudi aides said the prince, eager to build ties with the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden, was reluctant to take the step now, when he could use a deal later to help cement relations with the new American leader.

Obviously, the Saudi leader needed to take the measure of the incoming administration. And the incoming administration did not want any more alliances between Israel and Gulf Arab states. It was Biden’s gift to his many Jewish supporters.

As a further gift to said supporters, the Biden administration will now do everything in its power to save the mullahs.

The Journal editorializes about the success that the Trump administration’s maximum pressure campaign has had:

The sanctions have succeeded in weakening the rogue regime. Today Tehran exports about a quarter of the 2.5 million barrels of oil a day it shipped when the U.S. was still in the deal. This deprives the government of $50 billion in annual revenue. The economy has shrunk, while the Iranian rial has lost 80% of its value against the dollar.

Of course, pusillanimous European nations have maintained their adherence to the deal. The Iranians, not so much. In truth, the Iranians have never lived according to the deal. Only brain dead America liberals believe that they have done so.

Iran has responded by increasing its violations of the nuclear deal. It now has 12 times the limit of enriched uranium allowed under the accord, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said this month. It also is enriching uranium to 4.5% purity, above the 3.67% allowed under the deal but far from the 90% concentration needed for a bomb.

Of course, the original deal allows Iran to build nuclear weapons within a few years. It also gave Iran cash to promote terrorism. Another great victory for the Obama presidency-- one that clearly undermined Israel and Sunni Arab states.

The original nuclear deal makes it easy for Iran to break out as its provisions sunset over the next decade. Meanwhile, it provided cash for Iran to expand its regional influence and terrorism. After signing the 2015 deal, Iran increased its military budget more than 30% between 2016 and 2018, and its proxies in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen benefited.

So, Biden might well want to return to the nuclear deal, because he considers it a crowning achievement of the Obama presidency:

The Middle East has also changed for the better since Democrats were last in charge. Israel and the Sunni Arab states are normalizing relations after decades of conflict, and one reason is their shared worry about Iran. The Arab-Israeli conflict over Palestine is no longer the dominant issue.

President Trump gave both sides assurance that the U.S. is on their side, in contrast to Barack Obama’s loud disdain and his strategic embrace of Iran. If Mr. Biden rushes head-long back into the nuclear deal, he runs the risk of blowing up that regional progress.

Why would Mr. Biden want to throw that away? We understand the emotional attachment that Mr. Sullivan and other Biden advisers have for the 2015 nuclear deal. But time and Iranian behavior have exposed that deal as even worse than it looked at the time. Mr. Biden’s foreign-policy team should be thankful for the stronger hand Mr. Trump is leaving them.

Time will tell, but the indications do not look good today.

Friday, November 27, 2020

Today's Dating Scene

Many of you will read this letter and exclaim: Thank God I’m not dating. Sent to Carolyn Hax the letter describes what must be a fairly common situation. Two people meet over a dating app. They exchange text messages. They do not talk on the phone. They have never seen each other, even for a cup of coffee.

It is somewhat reminiscent of a story called “Cat Person,” published last year to much fanfare in The New Yorker. Link to my comments here.

While the characters in the Roupenian story did actually meet once or twice, the single mother who is texting her prospective paramour did not meet at all. They communicate through writing.

I understand that certain philosophers, especially those who tout the virtue of deconstruction-- a fancy term for pogrom-- believe that Western civilization is a vast conspiracy designed to repress writing in favor of speech. Apparently, if you only communicate through writing you are more likely to be a sociopath. And thus a recruit for the Storm Troopers. And besides, not to belabor the obvious, but if you only communicate through writing you do not really know who you are talking to. If you do not communicate face-to-face you are not communicating.

Anyway, the letter writer here is a single mother. We do not know how old she is. We do not know how old her fellow texter was. She does not tell us the words that she found especially offensive, assuming that we all know what they were. For my part I do not, but, then again, I do not text.

The important part of the letter involved her sense that the man was dangerous. To which Carolyn Hax responds that if she thinks he is dangerous the chances are very good that he is. She has made no commitments to him and owes him nothing. Hax offers the best advice, namely to get out while she can.

Anyway, here is the letter:

I gave my phone number to a man I've been messaging on a dating app. The pace of messages picked up considerably after that. He asked to talk on the phone, but I declined because my kids were home and they're very nosy.

Anyway, over the course of the "conversation" — about two hours of intermittent texting — he sent things like, "I hope you give me an opportunity to show you who I am," and, "Will you open up your soul to me?" in addition to a few other references to wanting to get to know me, show me he's a great guy, etc. We had made plans to meet for coffee in a few days. He signed off with a certain affectation, an identifiable term, so I'm not using it here.

I'm a little … uncomfortable. Like, too much too soon. One "let me show you I'm a good guy" is okay, especially if someone seems hesitant or nervous. But this felt like too much, especially with his sign-off.

Earlier I told him (honestly) that I'm not dating any one guy right now, and that when I am, I stop searching on the site. This is one of those dating sites where you can see that someone is online. He texted this morning to wish me a good day.

I mentioned I was uncomfortable with the term he used before, and that we haven't even met yet. He didn't acknowledge this. Since then he's texted again, asking if there's any chance we could meet sooner.

 Should I even keep a date with this guy? To me, the warning flags are waving that he doesn't have appropriate expectations. I'm a people-pleaser and have a history of giving people what they want because it's expected of me. But I've also been accused of being too picky or too judgmental, though perhaps not by people with a history of healthy relationships.

— Uncomfortable

Hax responds thusly, and correctly:

You’re uncomfortable, so cancel the date now. It’s not even a close call. You don’t need this person, this date, this information on whether your suspicions are founded or not. The benefit of your doubt isn’t a debt that strangers have any right to collect.

Don’t explain why you’re canceling, either. If you give nice-sounding “reasons,” then you’ll open the door to his countering or refuting your reasons. 

American Liberals and Their Discontent

If you want something to be really concerned about, how about shedding some worry on the mental health of American liberals. We do not know whether it is correlation or causation, whether people with mental health issues are drawn to leftist politics or whether buying into the current leftist dogmas makes you mentally ill. Either way, the correlation is clear.

Of course, we should also note that most of today’s so-called liberals are anything but liberal. In the past, liberal used to mean that one is liberal minded, thus, open minded, strongly in favor of free and open deliberative debate. Liberals favored free markets and free trade.

If such is the definition of liberalism, most of today’s liberals are really radical leftists. We recall during the Russian collusion hysteria that some true liberals, from Steven Cohen to Matt Taibbi to Glenn Greenwald to Alan Dershowitz stood tall to defend liberal principles. For most of the rest, including the mainstream media, it was all propaganda all the time. The goal of getting Trump far superseded the liberal goal of engaging in a free and open discussion and debate. We can hardly be surprised to see that this mania undermined their mental health.

Besides, today’s American left has long since gone off on its very own guilt trip. For those who are white, feeling guilty about being white, being willing to engage in manifold acts of self-chastisement has produced an orgy of moral self-flagellation.

We will also add, before reporting the Pew poll results, that the responses did not quite measure mental health. They represented the people who had consulted a physician for mental health concerns or who had been told by a physician that they had mental health issues. Link here.

Considering that the mental health field has been infested with leftist politics, one might imagine that those who consult mental health professionals might be more likely to lean toward the political left. Then again, given the absurd interest that such people have in “leaning in” one is not surprised that many of them have leaned too far and have fallen over.

The first statistics involve white liberals and white conservatives-- and whether they have ever consulted for a mental health issue.

Nearly half of self-identifying white liberals between the ages of 18 and 29 reported telling a doctor or a healthcare provider that they have a mental health condition.

Only 20.9% of white conservatives in the same category reported as such.

Caveats aside, the difference between 50% and 20% is stark, indeed.

As for which group of white liberals was most likely to report mental health issues, the answer is: female white liberals. We recall that feminism was sold by Betty Friedan, among others, as a solution to the problem that had no name. Said problem involved mental illness. Now, nearly six decades after Friedan launched a revolution, liberal women, those most likely to be on board with feminism, show up with the worst mental health outcomes.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Pardoning Gen. Michael Flynn

Yesterday, President Trump undid three years of judicial persecution. The object of Justice Department, FBI and judicial persecution was one Michael Flynn, a lieutenant general in the United States Army.

People do not often note the point, but in the Flynn case we saw a chapter in the culture war, between the legal profession and the military. The legal profession won many of the battles, but now has lost the war.

The Wall Street Journal editorialized this morning:

The FBI and Justice pursued him though they knew there was no basis for an investigation. They coerced a plea of lying to the FBI though the interviewing agents thought he was telling the truth. A later re-examination ordered by Attorney General Bill Barr found that Justice and the FBI had withheld exculpatory evidence. Former FBI director James Comey crowed about how the bureau took advantage of the unsuspecting Mr. Flynn and a trusting White House to have his agents interview him without courtesies normally extended to criminals.

When the Trump Justice Department moved to have the case dismissed, by saying that it would not prosecute, a rogue judge, in a disgrace to his office, did everything in his power, and even went beyond his power, to punish Flynn.

Justice finally moved to dismiss the charges this year, but then federal Judge Emmet Sullivan opted for political revenge by refusing to agree to the dismissal. He even tried to investigate the case himself—an extraordinary intrusion by a court into the executive branch’s prosecutorial power. His obvious goal was to stall long enough for a Biden Administration to take power and reinstate the charges. What a disgraceful performance.

Most news stories are emphasizing that Flynn pled guilty to lying to the FBI. They did not mention that he had been coerced into the plea and had withdrawn it.

As might be expected the Congressional Jewish Council, led by Adam Schiff, Jerry Nadler and Richard Blumenthal was outraged. Even a Trump election defeat has not diminished their will to destroy.

The Supreme Court Slaps Down Gov. Cuomo

Just in time to brighten up Thanksgiving, the United States Supreme Court offered a stinging rebuke to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Nothing in this world is more pathetic than the praise that has been heaped on Cuomo for presiding over the state that has led the nation in coronavirus deaths, largely because of his decisions.

The case before the Court involved the Cuomo edict limiting the number of participants in religious services. Cuomo has especially targeted the orthodox Jewish community for holding events where masks were rarely in evidence.

The Wall Street Journal reported:

The Supreme Court blocked New York from imposing strict limits on attendance at religious services to combat Covid-19, with new Justice Amy Coney Barrett casting the pivotal vote to depart from past cases that deferred to state authorities on public-health measures.

In orders issued shortly before midnight Wednesday, the court, in a 5-4 vote, set aside attendance limits that Gov. Andrew Cuomo imposed on houses of worship in areas most severely affected by the coronavirus: 10 people in red zones and 25 in orange zones. Chief Justice John Roberts and three liberal justices dissented.

Why did the Court decide as it did:

The court found it troubling that businesses the state considered “essential” weren’t subject to the same occupancy limits. Those included “things such as acupuncture facilities, campgrounds, garages, as well as many whose services are not limited to those that can be regarded as essential, such as all plants manufacturing chemicals and microelectronics and all transportation facilities,” the court said.

“Members of this Court are not public health experts, and we should respect the judgment of those with special expertise and responsibility in this area,” the opinion said. But New York’s restrictions “strike at the very heart of the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious liberty.”

And Justice Neil Gorsuch offered this:

“It is time—past time—to make plain that, while the pandemic poses many grave challenges, there is no world in which the Constitution tolerates color-coded executive edicts that reopen liquor stores and bike shops but shutter churches, synagogues, and mosques,” he wrote.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

What about the Children?

We have, on several occasions, drawn attention to the fact that closing schools is bad for children. It is also bad for their mothers. The teachers’ unions do not care. The Democrat mayors and governors do not care. They want to show themselves to be intrepid warriors against the coronavirus. This is the empathy party, keep it in mind.

We note that America has closed more schools for longer periods of time than have any other countries.

Yesterday, Lisa Miller wrote an excellent article about the damage that these policies are doing. She tells a grim story, well researched and comprehensive. Obviously, she is not promoting a political agenda. She is simply asking: What about the children?

Researchers asked parents to record their children’s regressions. The parents’ reports were alarming:

They observed their kids’ sudden regressions and general nervousness as novelties. Toilet-trained children were wetting their beds, and kids who once went to sleep easily became hard to soothe, waking at night or crawling in with their parents. “My son is suddenly scared of everything,” one Ohio parent wrote in the first week of June. An Arizona parent corroborated: “Our 2-year-old has had a very sudden increase in separation anxiety. She doesn’t like it when we leave the room, and at night she takes a long time to fall asleep because she doesn’t want us to go.”

By summer, the cabin fever and separation from friends, as well as the disruption of routine, were taking a toll. At week 12, 79 percent of parents of kids under 5 said their children were more fussy and defiant than before, and 41 percent of their children were more fearful or anxious. Harried parents reported frequent tantrums and incessant, escalating sibling fights. One young boy in New York mourned the loss of his day care, shuttered for more than two months, and chanted the name of each child in his class every night in an incantation of grief. Just after the Fourth of July, a mother in Missouri noted that her daughter had gotten more demanding, wanting extra attention especially when she was on video calls. That same week, a young mother in Pennsylvania worried that four months of isolation had been “devastating” to her daughter’s mental health. “She really needs to get back in counseling, but we’re concerned about exposure.”

Miller calls it a “global experiment in child psychology:”

A recent study in JAMA Pediatrics found that in Hubei province, where COVID-19 raged during the winter months of 2020, school-age children who quarantined for just 30 days reported measurably more depression and anxiety than similar pre-pandemic cohorts. A small Harvard study on the effects of the pandemic has found that caregiver-reported depression, anxiety, and misbehavior among American kids in the general population to have reached levels typically seen only in those previously diagnosed with a form of mental disorder. According to a literature review out of the University of Bath, persistent loneliness and isolation among children of the kind that has become quite widespread during the pandemic can lead to suicidal ideation and self-harm and to significant depression. “The kids will carry these experiences through life,” Fisher told me. “And it’s not going to be good.”

We know and have known that children best in the presence of a responsive caregiver. This means that screen time and day care cannot compensate for an absent or distracted mother:

Decades of research has definitively shown that the presence of a responsive caregiver, especially during early childhood, when the brain is extremely plastic, is the crucial ingredient in healthy development. This stable adult attention is exponentially more meaningful when children are growing up in persistent adversity: environments of neglect, abuse, deprivation, or poverty that medical and psychological professionals call “toxic stress.”

Children are being abandoned. Miller distributes the blame, but ought we not to notice that the school shutdowns have been imposed by Democratic politicians, people like Bill de Blasio and Eric Garcetti and Gavin Newsom. As noted here and elsewhere the children suffering the most are inner city minority children:

There are 74 million kids under 18 in the U.S., which is to say more children in America than there are Trump voters, a greater number than the population of France. And the collective shrug of big business, policy-makers, and government with regard to the fates of these children amounts to wholesale abandonment. (“I’m kind of discouraged, frankly, right now,” Senator John Cornyn said weakly of the congressional impasse holding up additional relief funds.) In September, Fisher’s research showed that 60 percent of Black, Latinx, and single-parent families were facing at least one material hardship: difficulty paying for rent, food, utilities, or health care. It also showed that 40 percent of all American families were facing these hardships. “There’s an erosion of well-being that’s directly tied to money and the ability to pay for basic needs,” Fisher said. “There’s no reason to think people are going to be able to engage in nurturing ways with their kids when they’re worrying about food. This is a perfect storm of toxic stress. With what we know about how vulnerable kids are to stress early in life, it’s just shocking to me the way that it’s all adding up. We’re all going over the edge together.”

And, of course, with the schools shut down, women are necessarily removing themselves from the workforce.

Nine months since the country’s schools shut down, nearly 60 percent of American kids are still learning entirely online and someone needs to look after them. Women flooded the workplace over the past 30 years, but as they did, no one — not employers, governments, or, for the most part, spouses — picked up in any meaningful or systemic way the main job they left behind: the day-to-day business of caring for children. “Other countries have social safety nets. The U.S. has women,” the sociologist Jessica Calarco recently said.

Miller is slightly disingenuous here. Is it really possible to replace mothers? And, lest we forget, America is leading the world in single-parent households. 

And why is it a government responsibility to provide childcare? Most other countries are sending children to school The CDC in America says that the safest place for children is school. 

A child at home is an irrefutable priority, putting too many mothers in an impossible bind, especially if their income contributes significantly (or exclusively) to the family’s bottom line. More than 15 million American children are raised by single mothers; if that mother quits work, who’s paying the rent?