Thursday, September 30, 2021

Hating Donald Trump

Robert Kagan has been labeled a neoconservative. Yet, he works at the liberal Brookings, so one wonders how conservative he really is. Now, for your edification, he has written a screed for the Washington Post about the dangers of Donald Trump. Or better, about the dangers of the second coming of Trump.

It reads like a shrieky adolescent throwing a hissy fit. There is no rational thought; no real judgment; no effort to evaluate both sides of the issue. Kagan feels deeply and he feels so deeply that he has dispensed with his rational faculties. In a world defined by therapy it's the emotion that counts.

In a political world, if your emotion counts above all else, then you are on the road to fascism.

Of course, Kagan is describing Trump as the sum of all evils. Obviously, this compromises any claim he has to show rational judgment. Worse yet, it is not an original thought. Recall that Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe called Trump the “the Devil incarnate,” aka the Antichrist, in 2017.

So, Kagan, for all of his stellar intellectual credentials, has dispensed even with the pretense that he is capable of rational thought. He hates Trump; he wants you to know that he hates Trump unambiguously. And this allows him to avoid any judgment of the good, the bad and the ugly about the Trump presidency.

Worse yet, being consumed by his rage and his outrage and his hatred, he makes an absurd mistake at the opening of his screed. Read it and ask yourself which time warp Kagan has gotten caught up in:

The United States is heading into its greatest political and constitutional crisis since the Civil War, with a reasonable chance over the next three to four years of incidents of mass violence, a breakdown of federal authority, and the division of the country into warring red and blue enclaves.

Kagan took a hard look into his foggy crystal ball and just happened to describe the year 2020. Mass violence, check. A breakdown of federal authority, check. A country divided into red and blue enclaves, check.

Kagan is up in arms and up in a self-righteous lather about January 6, but he offers nary a word of condemnation of the BLM and Antifa riots that consumed major American cities for months in 2020. 

He is quite right to say that the basis for republican government is to accept the winner of an election as the winner. He praises Al Gore for accepting the result of the 2000 presidential election.

And yet, he fails to notice that the Democratic Party and the American left never accepted Trump as a legitimate president. Hillary Clinton herself, while she was not denouncing Jill Stein and Tulsi Gabbard as Russian agents, declared that Trump was not a legitimate president.

Democrats and their satraps in the media did everything in their power to prevent Trump from governing effectively. They held a riot on inauguration day in 2017, in Washington, D. C. They impeached him twice and put him on trial in the senate twice.

The truth of the matter, regardless of the bigotry of a Kagan, is that the Trump presidency was characterized, not merely by Trump's faults and failings, but by the unprecedented hostility that his opponents heaped on him. Surely, you do not have to be a Trump loyalist-- no one has accused me of being one-- to open one’s mind and to see that the hostility shown toward Trump, the unhinged irrational attacks by people like Kagan, who is supposed to be an intellectual, are simply being echoed by Trump supporters.

It is, dare I say, empathy. For those who do not understand the concept, as described by Prof. Paul Bloom and even yours truly, people feel empathy for someone who is subjected to irrational attacks and they want to fight back.

I am not in favor of having Republicans use the tactics that the Democrats used against Trump-- if you answer bullying with bullying you are validating the tactics of your opponents-- but we can certainly understand that Trump supporters are responding to the violent hatred against Trump, unprecedented in recent American history.

For the record, both Mark Penn, formerly of the Clinton administration and Andrew Cuomo noted clearly that they had never seen an American president treated as badly as the way the American media and the opposition party had been treating Trump.

So, there are two sides to the story. Trump was certainly imperfect. He was an amateur thrown into a situation where he did not know the players or the game. Some of what he did was not good; some of it was good. 

The challenge, for people more rational than Kagan, is to evaluate the good versus the bad. And the other challenge is to get over the demonization of Trump and of Republicans and to understand that people like Kagan are the problem as much as they are the solution.

True enough, Trump has erred in ranting about the election that he lost. His behavior has served no purpose beyond making him look bad. It cost the Republicans two senate seats in Georgia.

And yet, no one has a right to call him out on his conduct without recognizing that he was merely giving back what had been thrown at him, and what had been thrown at him every hour of his presidency. 

I believe that he has damaged his future prospects by his behavior, but that does not mean that we do not know where it comes from. Those who are so ardently attacking Trump should recognize that they are simply working overtime to obscure the appalling behavior that they and their fellows directed against Trump. 

More importantly, they are refusing to accept responsibility for the riots that descended on blue American cities throughout the spring and summer of 2020. After all, if you take the Kagan rhetoric, add to it the Democratic rhetoric, and translate it into action, you get the 2020 civil insurrection. If Kagan had been willing to talk about it, he would have had to recognize the extent that he and his unhinged cult followers bore some responsibility for what happened. Blaming everything on Trump and Republicans is merely a way to shift the blame.

As long as Kagan and his compatriots fail to accept responsibility for an insurrection that they cheered from the sidelines, they should be dismissed as unhinged adolescent ranters.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

A Vegan Restaurant Bites the Dust

We do not, as a rule, write about food on this blog. First, I am not a gourmet and do not aspire to be one. Second, I do not know much of anything about the topic. And yet, I wrote about food yesterday and today will do it again. Hopefully, you will find it all to be in good taste.

OK, not quite. Today I want to share some of the wonderful prose stylings of the New York Times food critic, by name of Peter Wells. His review yesterday was is tart, acerbic and generally witty. It’s the kind of writing that the British do well, but that our own countrymen and women cannot seem to master. Cheers to the New York Times for publishing something worth reading.

Tom Wolfe’s take down of the pretensions of Leonard and Felicia Bernstein was a classic of the genre. It recounted a time when the dimwitted hyper rich on Park Avenue decided to be politically woke. The Bernsteins threw a party for the Black Panthers, yesterday's version of BLM. As it happened, Wolfe was not invited, but he attended anyway. He skewered the pretension and the ignorance that suffused the Park Avenue Bernstein abode. If it sounds familiar, it should. Still, the article, entitled “Radical Chic” dates to five decades ago. 

Anyway, the object of the Pete Wells wit today was a restaurant called 11 Madison Park. It is very tony and quite expensive-- $335.00 per person. It includes tax and tips. It does not include the wine pairings, which run to $175.00 per person.

The restaurant has received three Michelin stars, which is a lot. I suspect that the good people at Michelin will remove one or two of those stars the next time its ratings come out..

For the record, I once had lunch at 11 Madison Park before it became reincarnated as a vegan joint, and the meal was, dare I say, good but uneventful.

And yes, the use of the word "reincarnated" was intentional.

The interesting point, much noted in the media, about 11 Madison Park is that the chef, one Daniel Humm had some kind of epiphany of wokeness and decided to introduce an all-plant, all-vegetation menu. Not only can diners get fleeced by overprice carrots and broccoli, but they can feel like they are saving the planet. Eat plants; save the planet. Catchy, don't you think.

You see, Humm wanted to show that plants could taste just as good as protein infused chicken, fish and beef. So, one of the most expensive and generally excellent restaurants in the world went all-in for climate change. If you go to Humm’s joint now you can feel all virtuous for saving the cows and the fish and the fowl. Does that improve your appetite?

Then again, the stick thin New York women that Tom Wolfe used to call human x-rays can now feel that when they go to 11 Madison Park they are not larding on the calories. Another blow for virtue.

Anyway, I do not subscribe to the New York Times, so I rely for the review on the portions excerpted in the Daily Mail. What would we do without the Daily Mail?

The story begins with the sad tale of a “dehydrated beetroot dish.” In all honesty I have no idea of what they might entail:

But New York Times critic Pete Wells had little time for a dehydrated beetroot dish served in a clay pot that is broken open at the table, saying that it 'tastes like Lemon Pledge and smells like a burning joint.'

But, Wells was just getting warmed up. The Daily Mail continued:

But on Tuesday, the restaurant critic for The New York Times, Pete Wells, delivered his damning verdict, saying some of the dishes had a 'pumped-up, distorted flavor', while others had a 'cloying heaviness'.

The vegetables, Wells said, were 'doing things no root vegetable should be asked to do', and he accused head chef and owner Daniel Humm of manipulating the ingredients far beyond necessary.

'Some are so obviously standing in for meat or fish that you almost feel sorry for them,' he wrote.

‘The ingredients look normal until  you take a bit and realize that you’ve entered the plant kingdom’s uncanny valley.’

He might have said, unhappy valley-- which would have referred us to Dr. Samuel Johnson-- but, you can’t have everything. I trust that he was consciously trying to avoid the Johnsonian reference.

About a tomato dish, Wells had this to say:

The tomato dish, served alongside a tea with lemon verbena, salad with strawberry and shiso, and a yellow tomato dosa, was described by Wells as having a 'pumped-up, distorted flavor, like tomatoes run through a wah-wah pedal,' a device used by musicians to distort the sound of an electric guitar.

The article continues:

Cucumber with melon and smoked daikon - a dish, which takes two cooks all day to chop and prep, due to the short shelf life of the fresh cucumber - was dismissed by Wells as being 'suffused with an acrid intensity'.

And a roasted eggplant, which used to be flavored with tuna flakes, was said to have a 'cloying heaviness'. 

It led Wells to this recommendation:

 'Maybe he should bring back the celery root steamed in a pig bladder.'

Not wanting to seem entirely negative, Wells heaped praise on the bread:

His highest praise was reserved for something not on the menu - the bread.

'Originally kneaded with cow butter, the laminated dough has been rejiggered with butter made from sunflower seeds, and it's an unqualified success,' he wrote. 

'So is the nonbutter that arrives with the bread, molded into the shape of a sunflower, bright yellow with a dark eye of tangy fermented sunflower seeds in the center.'

And then there is the kicker-- every snide, sarcastic column needs one-- the restaurant does serve meat to those who are really, really rich. It serves it in a private dining room. One suspects that this room functions like a speakeasy, a place where you can go to eat the good stuff while everyone else is munching on the dandelion seeds:

He also noted that there was meat served for the highest-paying clients, at a private dining room, with that policy set to continue until the end of 2021. 

'It's some kind of metaphor for Manhattan, where there's always a higher level of luxury, a secret room where the rich eat roasted tenderloin while everybody else gets an eggplant canoe,' he said. 

Perfect-- tenderloin for the wealthy, an eggplant canoe for the hoi polloi. And yet, in this case, the hoi polloi comes from Park Avenue and is paying an absurd price for food that is obviously lacking.

So, the 11 Madison Park foray into vegan wokeness is a failure. It is very unlikely that the menu will survive the Wells evisceration. Better yet, all the the obscenely wealthy burghers who have been eating there and who have been praising it to the sky will wake up and discover that they have no taste and that they have egg on their faces. And the egg will not be vegan either.

Because, I promise you, wealthy New Yorkers have been dining out on their 11 Madison Park experiences for several months now. They have been drooling over the wondrous beetroot glop. Now, the New York Times-- a publication whose authority compares with that of Scripture-- has told them what to think and they are certainly not going to contradict the New York Times.

Will 11 Madison Park survive in its current form? The jury is still out. And yet, we know that when Tom Wolfe wrote his essay on “Radical Chic” five decades ago, Leonard and Felicia Bernstein suffered mightily, socially speaking. Exposed as self-righteous, pompous fools for sucking up to the Black Panthers, they lost considerable prestige and social standing. And yet, it was only a prelude to the damage that would be inflicted on poor Lenny when it was discovered that he had been seducing his male students at Harvard. The indignity of it all.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

You Are What You Eat

Everyone knows that you are what you eat. We all pronounce this phrase unthinkingly, failing to recognize the moral consequences. In the first place, if you only eat vegetables, the adage implies that you will eventually become a vegetable. Do you want to become a vegetable? I didn’t think so.

And we must add, without providing too much evidence, that vegetarians and vegans are depriving themselves of vital nutrients. To say that they can sop up plenty of protein by having soy lattes ignores the fact that there are a lot of other nutrients in meat, nutrients that do not exist in soy lattes. Like choline.

Nonetheless, vegetarians and vegans feel that it is worth risking becoming human vegetables, because theirs is a moral choice, one that makes them feel so righteous that they would happily impose it on everyone. Free to choose is not a concept that crosses the addled minds of these moralistic scolds.

Obviously their idea of moral choice does not involve getting along with other people in society. It places them at odds with human society, almost as though they believe themselves to be morally superior because they are saving the cows. Does this imply that the cows and other animals are sacred, therefore eating them would offend a deity.

Naturally, in the ambient discourse no one is really allowed to says anything about the vegans in their midst. It would be judgmental. And yet, when researchers do surveys-- what would we do without researchers?-- they find the people who refuse to eat meat or animal products are considered to be asocial preeners.

People who honestly think that forgoing that cheeseburger is going to save the planet are generally believed to be cult followers of the Nature Goddess. And most people seem to believe that cult followers of one or another god or goddess must be social deviants, not to be trusted, not reliable, not worthy of everyday social commerce.

The study comes to us from the vegan left, from a Belgian researcher named Ben De Groeve. He is, as you will see, totally and completely convinced that his vegan ways are contributing to the survival of the Nature Goddess. He is so convinced about the higher moral truth of his beliefs that he does not for an instant consider that he might just be delusional and/or brainwashed.

Eric Dolan reports for PsyPost:

“The high consumption of animal products (e.g., meat, dairy, eggs) in Western countries may be considered one of the most pressing moral problems of our time, because it is entails the exploitation and suffering of billions of sentient animals in factory farms, because it compromises environmental sustainability and because it negatively affects our own health,” explained lead researcher Ben De Groeve, who recently obtained a PhD in communication science from Ghent University.

“Despite strong arguments favoring a shift toward plant-based diets, there is only a minority of people who choose to abstain from meat (vegetarians) or other animal products (vegans), raising the question why shifts toward plant-based diets are often resisted by the meat-eating or ‘omnivorous’ majority.”

Eating cheeseburgers is a moral problem. It’s not just a moral problem, it’s one of the most pressing moral problems of our times. There are, De Groeve suggests, strong arguments to abstain from eating meat and other animal products. He does not recognize that there are strong arguments against his anti-meat hysteria.

As for the great majority of people they consider their health to be more important than making political statements with diet. Obviously, they are not willing to have their diets dictated by moralistic scolds like Ben De Groeve.

When it comes to vegans, we recall, to our chagrin, the stories about parents who refuse to feed infants milk and who therefore seriously damage their children’s health.

Or better, ask the salient point: would you invite this man to dinner? Or even to lunch? Because if you did you would first be obliged to prepare a separate meal for him. If you did not want to prepare a separate meal for him, you would be obliged to serve everyone a meal of grass and twigs-- the twigs would be there for their fiber content. And if you offered him a separate meal, you would still be obliged to listen to him ranting about how everyone else at the dinner table was, by consuming fish and cheese, destroying the planet, unleashing a planetary holocaust that was going to burn up everyone and everything.

Would you invite such a person to a dinner party? And considering that one of the basic ways that we humans have about bonding involves sharing meals, it makes some considerable sense that such people, by refusing to share, are defining themselves as cult followers, not as members of society.

As it happened, when De Groeve surveyed groups of people, asking them whether they would prefer to socialize with omnivores, vegetarians, vegans or flexitarians-- God only knows what that means-- he discovered that people preferred to socialize with omnivores.

Dolan reports the research:

The participants viewed omnivores as the most socially attractive group, followed by vegetarians. In other words, the participants were very willing to be associated with omnivores and slightly less willing to be associated with vegetarians. They were slightly unwilling, however, to be associated with vegans.

Vegetarians, and especially vegans, were seen as more moral but also more eccentric and moralistic (self-righteous and narrow-minded) than omnivores, which in turn predicted lower social attractiveness. Vegetarians and vegans were often described as “eco-friendly” and “considerate” during the free association task, but they were also described as “judgmental” and “preachy.”

“Vegetarians and vegans may evoke both positive and negative impressions. Both groups may be viewed positively for their (perceived) moral commitment and their dietary motivations related to animal welfare, the environment, and health, and this may increase their social attractiveness relative to omnivores,” De Groeve told PsyPost.

“At the same time, vegetarians and vegans are generally seen as less socially attractive because they are seen as less normal, less sociable, but especially because of moralistic stereotypes. Especially vegans may be perceived as less attractive because they are associated with a self-righteous commitment to attain goals. I would encourage people, irrespective of their dietary pattern, to consider each other’s perspective.”

Of course, De Groeve is so convinced he is right that he pays absolutely no heed to the notion that some vegans might be less sociable, less normal and more moralistic. They are self-righteous scolds who refuse to participate in a dinner table ritual and who therefore undermine group cohesion.

Of course, what matters to De Groeve and his fellow travellers is not group cohesion. He does not care and gives no consideration to the simple fact that he is judging people negatively for eating what they were designed to eat. And yet, he is all-in when it comes to defending cows and fish and turkeys. He condemns those who dare to be participating in an activity that hurts animals:

“A lot of evidence also shows that many people typically want to avoid harming animals, despite engaging in dietary habits that harm animals (this has been called the meat paradox in psychological literature). To maintain the illusion that eating animals or their products is both (relatively) harmless and unavoidable, people might engage in motivated reasoning to defend their diet. Moralistic stereotypes may serve as a stigma to silence morally-motivated vegetarians and vegans whose mere existence challenges this illusion.”

Needless to say, such moralistic scolds are isolating themselves from human social commerce. They are not merely content to practice their own deviant behaviors, but they believe that they must impose their views on everyone else. Some want to ban meat and meat products. Some will sit at a dinner table and moralize about what other people are eating.

And yet, when it comes to the choice between advancing social commerce and group cohesion and forcing other people to join your cult to the Nature Goddess, these people have no feeling for human beings, or for what is required for humans to live in society.

Monday, September 27, 2021

Homewreckers Anonymous

As for the multiple causes for the breakdown of the American family, add this one to the list. Modern American women believe that housework should be assigned equally to each marital partner. Especially at a time when more men have been working from home, liberated women, possessed of a bean counter mentality, tally up the chores that their husbands perform and tally up the chores that they perform. When the numbers do not jive, they complain. If they learned anything from therapy, it’s about how to complain.

So, Wall Street Journal reporter Rachel Feintzeig offers some instructions for how to break up your happy home. Oops, she did not recommend breaking up your home; she offered some supposedly constructive suggestions about how to get husbands to do more diaper changes and whatnot.

She does not, of course, consider which spouse is contributing the most to the marital coffers. She does not consider the psychological fallout for a husband who is being harassed by his wife over household chores, and who consequently, works less or works less effectively. She does not consider the fact that mothers are far more effective at being mothers than men are. And she certainly does not consider the possibility that this form of mental harassment will likely bring turmoil and torment, and perhaps even separation to the marriage.

What if the result of this nagging is that said husband moves out. Then the women in question will be doing all of the housework and nearly all of the child care. Then they will not even have time to complain.

For the record, a quick search tells us that Feitzeig herself is the mother of two children-- bless her and her children--and that her husband is a nephrologist. During the pandemic her husband was on call and was travelling to different hospitals. He had an on call schedule. He was not home very much. The same is true, for example, of law firm partners, who are always on call.

In these situations the notion of an equal distribution of household labor is absurd.

The feminist fairy tale about household equality sows dissatisfaction by setting up unrealistic expectations for a marriage. But especially, for home life.

Anyway, Feintzeig calls the problem a chore gap. Happily, it has nothing to do with a thigh gap.

She begins on a whiny note:

Women have long carried more of the domestic load. For some couples, the pandemic—with its endless dirty dishes, cluttered makeshift home offices and classrooms, and plenty of time indoors to notice every speck of dustwidened the gap.

And then she arrives at the injustice of it all. Even when men were spending more time at home, working, one assumes, they still did less housework:

Both men and women ramped up the average time they spent on household activities in 2020, according to the American Time Use Survey, men by 16 minutes a day and women by 11. But overall, women did far more—2.4 hours daily, compared with 1.6 for men. Meanwhile, the percentage of men doing housework and food prep each day decreased from 2019 to 2020, while the percentage of women doing those things increased, according to the survey, from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

And then, as might have been expected, the story gets thrown into an ideological wringer, aka, a narrative, where women gain enhanced feminist consciousness of the oppression of it all. They revolt and rebel, to the point where men gain enhanced consciousness and start doing more housework.

Surely, this does happen some of the time, but the chances are better that such men will start spending more time at the office, will tune out their wives and will start looking for good divorce lawyers. Unfortunately, narratizing a problem requires us all to ignore the real consequences.

The women are burned out, stressed and full of rage about unequal distribution of domestic labor, she says. The men are finally starting to wake up to the problem.

“There’s no denying it anymore,” Ms. Rodsky says. Many male partners have spent much of the past 18 months working from home, with a full view of labor that was formerly invisible.

Obviously, a good feminist is going to blame it all on sexism. Because they is what good feminists do.

Nearly 80% of mothers said they were the one primarily responsible for their family’s housework, according to an April 2020 survey analyzed by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, New York University and the University of Texas at Austin. That is compared with 28% of fathers.

The researchers also found that when mothers were the only parent working remotely, 76% of them reported spending more time on housework. When only dad stayed home, 43% of men said the same.

“There’s this interesting asymmetry,” says Jerry Jacobs, a University of Pennsylvania sociologist and co-author of the study. “Gender’s just so deeply ingrained in so many situations.”

Deeply ingrained, who would have guessed. When it comes to bringing up small children, mothers are invariably the best at the task. The reason has a lot to do with biology, what a quaint notion.

When it comes to supporting the family financially, most men are better at it than most women. So, all of this complaining is going to lead to a situation where the put-upon husband, telling his work buddies that he has to go home early to change diapers and to puree carrots, will hear a lone female voice declare, simply and directly: “If you were my husband, I would never let you change a diaper.”

Now, the supposedly egalitarian marriage is on life support. Congratulations on a job well done.

Climate Change Fanatics

If it’s good enough for the Wall Street Journal, it’s good enough for me. From today’s paper, an excerpt from Christian Whiton’s Substack, Super Macro.

The subject is climate change, and the generalized hysteria about said topic. You would think, from reading the mainstream media and listening to our brain dead political class, that there is complete and total agreement about climate change. After all, it was just a few days ago that the venerable and thoroughly liberal New Yorker seemed to countenance sabotage as a way to save the planet. That means, shutting down the power grid, the means of production, the transportation network, agribusiness and industry. Beware crazed zealots who think that they are the sole possessors of the truth.

If said fanatics, having now received the benediction of The New Yorker, really believe what they believe, I recommend that they first shut down the power grid that sustains said magazine. Next, they should turn out the lights at the editor’s home. It’s easy to rail when someone else is paying the tab.

Anyway, here is Christian Whiton, to shed the light of reason into the darker recess of the minds of the climate change fanatics:

The fake science pushed on the public by the government and media has worked somewhat. A Pew poll last year indicated 62% of adults think climate change is affecting their local community. Gallup, exhibiting the trademark arrogance and refusal to countenance disagreement that mark the climate debate, said that 64% of adults “acknowledge the scientific consensus” that human activities cause climate change. On the other hand, a poll in 2019 revealed that 68% of Americans would not pay $10 more per month on their electricity bill to combat climate change. The same poll showed that if you lower that amount to $1, then 57% of the public would pony up. We see that the American public as usual knows better than the elites. The climate is changing as it always has and carbon emissions are something we should probably curb gradually through nuclear power, natural gas, and renewables, but there is no “crisis.” Certainly raising the cost of energy, which would stunt human progress generally, is not the right answer.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

The Decline and Fall of the American Family

The American family is in serious decline. Millennials, especially, are not forming families. Some are having children out of wedlock. Some are forgoing parenthood. Some, especially those of the female persuasion, miss out because they waited too long. Among those who do get married, a significant number will eventually split up. 

Fewer and fewer children are being brought up in families. And, as a consequence, America’s social fabric is seriously tattered.

Helen Andrews surveys the situation, first, by the numbers:

Nearly 25 percent of Millennial women are now projected to have zero children in their lifetimes. Less than 5 percent of women say when asked that they want no children. That leaves the other 20 percent — millions of women who will die childless, not because they wanted to, but because they couldn’t put the pieces together in time.

One problem, reported here and elsewhere, lies in the fact that more women than men are going on to college. And, as it happens, women with advanced educations are seriously disinclined to marry men who do not have similar credentials:

Women have outnumbered men on college campuses for decades, resulting in an imbalance between the number of college-educated single women and the number of college-educated men available to them as partners. Yet women’s standards for marriageability have remained as high as they were when the imbalance was in men’s favor, wanting a partner who earns more and is at least as educated. This mismatch is one reason the share of American adults who have never married has reached a record high of 35 percent, up from 21 percent twenty years ago and 9 percent in 1970.

The cohort that has never married has reached alarming high numbers. Over the time that America has been bathing in feminism, to say nothing of countercultural trends, marriage has increasingly become a rarity. Could there be a connection?

Of course, one reason for the disjoining lies in the fact that schoolteachers do everything in their power to diminish boys and to enhance girls. We have reported on this for some time now. Andrews identifies the problem:

Women’s preference for having a partner who has at least as much education as they do may not be rational, but it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. If constantly expanding college enrollment is cutting off large segments of the female population from a supply of marriageable men, then that is something to weigh against any attempt to boost college enrollment even further. We can’t just shrug and assume that whatever people end up doing must reflect their preferences.

Unfortunately, these educated women have no real notion of their biological clocks. The information has been suppressed by certain cultural forces who believe that childbearing is bad for women:

Women overestimate their chance of becoming pregnant naturally after 40, guessing a 60 percent chance in a given month when the real likelihood is 5 percent. They also consistently overestimate the odds that a round of in vitro fertilization (IVF) will successfully result in a live birth.

We could try telling them the truth, but lots of people don’t want women better informed on this subject. For some, it is a matter of self-interest. Employers prefer women to focus on their careers without worrying that their window for having children is closing – so much so that firms now pay employees to put their eggs on ice. Companies that sell consumer goods to single women like it when they have plenty of disposable income to spend on themselves.

For others, it is a matter of ideology. Feminists don’t like to hear anyone talk about biological clocks. In 2002, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine wanted to place ads on buses and in movie theatres informing women of various fertility-related facts, to correct precisely the sort of false assumptions that Shanahan and educated women like her often have. One ad, for example, simply stated, “Advancing Age Decreases Your Ability to Have Children.” The National Organization for Women (NOW) organized a successful campaign to get the ads pulled, not because anything in them was false, but on the grounds that they “sent a negative message to women who might want to delay or skip childbearing in favor of career pursuits.”

As for the current notion that we must follow the science and ensure that everyone have the best information available, those who are hawking this deception have long since been ensuring that women not know the facts about their own fertility.

Letting people make their own informed decisions should be the default choice of any conservative political philosophy. But in the matter of family and childbearing, if we simply trust people to make their own individual choices, we may find that people don’t make choices in their own long-term best interests, as they themselves would understand if they were better informed about the facts and better able to predict their own desires later in life.

It is surely an important social problem. Disjointed families, unclear relationship ties produce social disorganization. It is not a good thing:

Declines in fertility and marriage rates can be taken not just as indications that something may be wrong with the economy or housing policy or college debt, but as problems in themselves.

Not everyone wants a white picket fence, two-point-five children, a male breadwinner, and a stay-at-home mom. There’s plenty of room for pluralism. But stable families are good. Marriage is good. Babies are good. Public policy should acknowledge that. If conservatives won’t, who will?

Will Sunni and Kurdish Iraq Join the Abraham Accords?

If you studied Latin in high school-- didn’t we all?-- you surely recall the opening line from Caesar’s Gallic Wars:

Omnia Gallia in tres partes divisa est.

It means that all of Gaul is divided in three parts. As you know, Gaul is what they used to call what is now called France.

What occasioned this recollection from my high school days? Why a proposal from an Iraqi Sunni cleric that the country be divided in three, with Kurdish, Sunni and Shia parts. The cleric also proposed that the Sunni portion join the Abraham Accords and diplomatically recognize Israel. As I have often noted, in the Middle East, Israel is the solution, not the problem.

Happily enough, the Abraham Accords seem to have been embraced in the Middle East, even beyond the signatories.

The story comes to us from Debkafile, an Israeli website apparently run by former intelligence agents. It echoes a Wall Street Journal op-ed written by Wisam al-Hardan:

Calls to establish Iraq as a federation of three states for the Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish communities were issued on Friday, Sept. 24 by 300 prominent leaders from Irbil, capital of semi-autonomous Kurdistan. Since the Kurds of Iraq have achieved self-rule and conduct independent foreign and security policies, and Shiites rule Baghdad – albeit bitterly riven between pro and anti-Iran elements – the campaign launched on Friday focused in fact on the Sunni claim. Their territory ranges across the central and western provinces of Iraq and they have already begun to flex autonomous muscles. Last week, local Sunni leaders initiated the opening of the first land crossing between Iraq and Saudi Arabia in the western province of Anbar.

The Irbil gathering pressed equally for the emergent Sunni State of Iraq to recognize Israel with full diplomatic and economic ties. Although Shiites are a majority, in Iraq, the 10 million Sunnis and 9 million Kurds represent 45 percent of the population. Both have come out strongly in favor of joining the epic Abraham Accords signed by the US, Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain a year ago.

In a keynote speech to the gathering, Sheikh Wissam al-Hardan (see photo) chief of the Shammar tribe, the largest in Iraq with communities in Syria and Jordan, and a close Saudi ally, told the gathering: “We demand full diplomatic relations with the State of Israel, and a new policy of normalization based on people-to-people relations with the citizens of that country.”

Debkafile continued:

These affirmations by a prominent Arab leader in a country under heavy Iranian influence was a striking anomaly. It was moreover echoed by none other than a prominent Shiite military officer.

Maj. Gen. Amir al-Jubouri, an acclaimed figure for leading the Iraqi military forces that drove ISIS out of Iraq, had this to say: “Abraham, peace be upon him, birthed a nation that paved the way for peace. Today, we and all his descendants from the three main religions bear responsibility to complete this path together.”

Stay tuned.

Saturday, September 25, 2021

The Good Ship Biden Is Sinking

Apparently, it’s easier to criticize and complain than it is to govern. Such is the conclusion that mainstream media outlets have reached on the matter of the Biden presidency.

One understands that these outlets manned the barricades and threw their considerable weight behind the effort to replace President Donald Trump. They were true fanatics, willing to do anything whatever to remove Trump from power.

They were so intent on doing so that they chose as a candidate a shell of a man, one who was asleep half the time, who had notable brain deficiencies. They did not care. They did not ask themselves whether Joe could do the job. They did not care about anything else but replacing Trump. One could not offer a clearer picture of raw fanaticism.

One is tempted to trot out the metaphor of rats abandoning a sinking ship, but, whatever image we choose, leftist media outlets have suddenly decided that it’s time to start abandoning the Biden presidency. As they look towards a 2022 electoral wipeout, leading perhaps to a 2024 return to Trump, or perhaps to something worse, they are starting to toss good old Joe overboard, the better to find a suitable replacement, someone who can lead the liberal cause and who might be capable of governing.

Surely, they know that Biden will not be running again in 2024 and they want to clear the field for a new champion. They are also doing their best to dissociate themselves from a calamitously incompetent administration, one that they went to the ends of the earth and sold out their journalistic integrity to put in the White House.

As the press turns against Biden, the highly estimable Daily Mail reports on the media outlets, from The New Yorker to the New York Times to the Washington Post, that have suddenly, in unison, turned against Joe Biden. That they did not know previously that Biden would never be able to do the job of president makes this feel like too little too late. But still, if you want to balance that against another cliche, consider that it’s better late than never.

So, the Daily Mail begins with an article by Susan Glasser, in The New Yorker. You might know, and if you don’t, you should, but Glasser co-authored with her husband Peter Baker an excellent biography of James Baker, entitled: The Man Who Ran Washington. As opposed to certain other books that I write about on this blog, I did read the Baker-Glasser book. It is as good as people say it is. I recommend it.

Anyway, The Daily Mail reports:

The New Yorker published a piece Friday describing the Biden presidency as a 'haze of uncertainty' and a 'jumble of aspirations' that are far from what is politically possible to achieve. 

'The Biden Presidency, on both the foreign and domestic fronts, remains a jumble of aspirations—and retains a haze of uncertainty about how to achieve them,' Susan Glasser writes. 'Much of his political problem, it seems to me, is a vast gap between his articulated goals and what is politically possible.' 

To translate, the Biden people have no idea what they are doing. The reason, there is no one at the top leading the charge. Biden is too enfeebled to know what to do and everyone else spends their time protecting him and hiding his enfeeblement.

Glasser does mention, reasonably, that it isn’t over until it’s over, and that Biden might actually come back from the near dead. In truth, it's more likely that he will not last out the four years. Get ready for President Kamala:

Still, in the editorial entitled 'It's Too Early to Consign Biden to the Ash Heap,' Glasser says that conservatives declaring the Biden presidency 'dead' is as overstated as liberals dubbing him the second coming of FDR. 

'The warning lights are undoubtedly flashing red for Biden right now.' 

'The failed-Presidency crowd sees this as the inevitable outcome of a leader who strayed from the promise of his campaign to oust Donald Trump—to return America to competent, sane governance—and instead embraced a politically impractical vision of a progressive utopia,' the piece continues. 

'The general feeling among Democrats these days: Is it time to panic yet?' 

The true picture of the Biden presidency involves incompetent and mentally defective governance. Surely, one sign is the willingness of formerly centrist Biden to glom on to his party’s radical leftist wing.

'The difficult truth is that, should Congress fail to pass Biden's bills this fall, it would, in fact, be the kind of political blow that few new Presidents can recover from,  the New Yorker piece states. 

Glasser does credit Biden with one thing: he has not yet taken to denouncing members of his own political party. You will recall that President Trump took the occasion of two senate races in Georgia to denounce that state’s Republican Party leadership. Surely, this contributed, a little or a lot, to the loss of said senate seats-- and to the Democrats gaining control of the Senate. If the Republicans had won one seat, the Biden agenda would have been dead in Congress. Think about it.

But, to Biden's credit, Glasser writes: 'He has not, à la Trump, taken to Twitter to denounce the dissenting members of his party as 'dinos,' ... He has not fired anybody or started lining up primary challengers to his own party's members of Congress who have angered him. He has not called up MSNBC hosts in a panic for advice.' 

And, of course, beyond the debacle in Afghanistan and the monstrosities on the Southern border, Biden has notably failed to get the pandemic under control:

Meanwhile, Biden is being squeezed on all sides by a pandemic he promised would be essentially over by this time and is still killing 2,000 per day, a widely-condemned withdrawal from Afghanistan and a surge of migrants at the southern border.   

The New York Times, in the person of Frank Bruni, formerly a restaurant critic, takes issue with the Biden approach to immigration, by comparing it to Trump. It takes a special warp of mind to compare an administration that shut down illegal immigration on the border with one that opened the borders and allowed everyone in.

Bruni also takes Biden to task for the rank incompetence of his withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The Daily Mail reports on Bruni’s take down of Biden:

The kind of border bedlam attributed to Trump’s incompetence and insensitivity has returned and once again dominates the news,' Bruni writes. 

Bruni also notes Biden's decision to withdraw the US military from Afghanistan by August 31 caught allies by surprise. 

'He pulled out of Afghanistan without the degree of consultation, coordination and competence that allies expected, at least of any American president not named Trump,' he writes

With the abandonment of thousands of Afghan allies, Bruni said, Biden also failed to live up to the empathetic image he's crafted to distance himself from the cold, caustic perception of the Trump administration.

On Tuesday the Washington Post, another legacy media organization, also joined in criticizing Biden. 

Trust me, the notion of empathy has largely outlived its usefulness. In the first place Biden has no feeling at all. In the second place the next time I hear someone whining about empathy I am going to throw up.

And then there is the Washington Post, in the person of the White House bureau chief, who has just noticed that Biden never fields press questions--unless they come from carefully preselected reporters and as long as he has the answer written out on cue cards:

White House bureau chief Ashley Parker also invoked Trump on Tuesday night after Biden met with Johnson in DC.

The truth finally dawned when Biden and his staff refused to allow the press to ask any questions while he was appearing with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson:

'Worth noting that Biden ran for office promising to restore democracy after 4 years of Trump. But today it was the British leader, NOT the American one, who spotlighted a key tenet of a flourishing democracy - respect for a free press - by taking questions from his press corps,' Parker tweeted.

Biden did not recognize any American reporters for questions during an Oval Office meeting with Johnson - and his aides cleared out journalists as they tried to query the president.  

White House staff even interrupted Johnson as they pushed to get reporters out of the room, shouting over the British prime minister as he and Biden sat in their chairs, watching the chaotic scene unfold as aides ushered journalists out of the Oval Office.

As reporters were ushered out, CBS White House reporter Ed O'Keefe shouted a question to Biden asked about the situation on the US-Mexico border. The administration is facing backlash and criticism following images of US Border Patrol agents on horseback using whips to round up migrants or prevent them from stepping onto American soil.

The notion that Biden was going to restore democracy-- whatever does that mean?-- while Trump had more direct interaction with the press than Biden the candidate and Biden the president ever have, is risible.

Anyway, Mark Penn, a former Clinton official who has always been fair and balanced, notes that, in comparison with Biden, Trump is now looking like a good president. If there were a most unkindest cut of all in politics, that would be it:

'The mounting issues on all fronts have led to the surprise conclusion that Trump is now seen as being as good a president as Biden, suggesting the honeymoon is being replaced with buyer's remorse,' Mark Penn, co-director of the Harvard/Harris survey told The Times.

The polls are not looking very good for anyone in the Biden orbit:

The Harvard/Harris poll also found that 55 per cent of people believed former Vice-President Mike Pence was a better vice president than his successor, Kamala Harris, and that 63 per cent of people thought Mike Pompeo was a better secretary of state than Anthony Blinken.