Sunday, October 31, 2021

The Migrant Invasion of American Schools

No one seems to care and no one seems to be covering the story. No one except the New York Post, that is.

As though Democratic politicians and teachers unions had not done enough damage to the growing minds of children with their lockdowns, now the Biden administration has found a new way to destroy public education. Way to go, Joe.

The problem is simple. The Biden administration, having opened America’s Southern border to hordes of invading migrants, including large numbers of children, has now taken to throwing those children into public schools. This has, the Post reports, created a classroom crisis.

Need we say, the children do not know English. Most do not even know Spanish. They are likely to be illiterate and innumerate. Placing them in classrooms with children who are functioning at grade level disrupts everything and makes it nearly impossible for any child to learn anything.

America’s crisis at the border is now a crisis in New York public schools.

The Biden Administration is flooding New York City and Long Island communities with thousands of unaccompanied immigrant minors captured crossing the Mexico-US border, often arriving here, as The Post recently reported, via clandestine flights in the middle of the night.

The arrival of these children, mostly teenage boys, in local schools is creating a classroom crisis that is strapping educational resources, costing taxpayers millions in un-budgeted dollars, and aiding gang-recruiting efforts, argue parents, teachers and immigration experts.

“We’re at maxed capacity for kids with special needs, but they’ll keep sending them,” lamented one high school teacher in Queens, among the communities hardest hit by the illegal-immigrant student dump.

New York City and Long Island are hotspots for shipping children rounded up illegally crossing the border without guardians, according to recent US Department of Health and Human Services data.

Fifteen counties nationwide have received more than 1,000 unaccompanied children caught at the border over the past year, reported HHS. The top five counties on the list are all in Texas, California and south Florida.

But four of those 15 counties are right here in New York: Suffolk (1,528), Queens (1,314), Nassau (1,064) and Brooklyn (1,046). The Bronx nearly made the list, with 461 unaccompanied students. New York is the only state in America with four counties receiving more than 1,000 unaccompanied minors, despite its 1,700-mile distance from the southern border.

The 1,528 children released into Suffolk County is sixth most of any county in the nation. The HHS list includes only those counties that received 50 or more minors for the 11-month period from Oct. 1, 2020 through Aug. 31, 2021. Manhattan and Staten Island were not on the list.

These numbers are on top of the legal and illegal immigrant children arriving, or who already live here, with parents or a guardian. An estimated 504,000 undocumented immigrants live in New York City, according to a 2020 report by the city’s Department of Education.

The surge in migrant crossings during the Biden Administration has included a reported 125,000 unaccompanied minors.

The resulting influx of unaccompanied children into local schools becomes “a giant unfunded mandate and enormously unfair to the communities that are forced to accommodate these kids,” said Jessica Vaughan, the director of policy for the Center for Immigration Studies. “It causes enormous challenges for the schools, a disruption in the quality of education for all and sometimes even a crime problem that wasn’t there before.”

One Brooklyn teacher said his ninth-grade English language arts class this year has 13 children from Ecuador alone, noting that educators are not privy to a child’s legal status.

And also, parents feel under siege. Yet, there is no national movement to rectify the situation and to save the educations of American children:

But unaccompanied immigrant children often surprise administrators, teachers, students and parents when they show up suddenly at local schools, many with special education needs, minimal school time at home, and unable to speak English. Some of these children, from indigenous Central American cultures, don’t speak Spanish either, notes Vaughan.

“Most parents are not even aware this is going on,” said Sam Pirozzolo, former president of the Community Education Council on Staten Island, while those aware of potential problems are afraid to raise politically incorrect concerns amid an angry cancel culture that forbids dissent.

“Parents are under assault, period,” he said. “They’re already called domestic terrorists for standing up for their children. It’s difficult enough worrying about your own children, your own families and your local neighborhood politics but then have to worry about another issue. Parents are under siege as it is.”

And let’s not forget the cost:

Concerns about failing education, strained school resources and children falling prey to gangs come on top of the crushing financial burden new students place on taxpayers.

New York City and Long Island schools spend an average of about $28,000 per student, per year. The addition of nearly 6,000 students means $156 million in added tax burden because the feds shoved immigrant students into local communities.

And you were wondering why American children are lagging their peers on all measures of standardized testing. Apparently, the Biden administration, following an example set by the Obama administration, is actively trying to dumb down the population.

The British Police Ban Dick Jokes

At times it feels as though the authorities in Great Britain are trying to outstupid our own civil authorities. This is especially the case when they all rise up in righteous outrage over some linguistic offense. That is, against a thought crime.

In America, the left wing commentariat has thrown a hissy fit because an airline pilot, launched the totally offensive locution-- Let’s Go Brandon-- over his plane’s loudspeaker system. 

One does not imagine how the Republic can stand when pilots are allowed to get away with saying such things. What would have happened if he had piously intoned-- Fuck Joe Biden-- as fans of football games and Nascar races have been doing? Why, before you finished your morning coffee, he would have been denounced as a Nazi and convicted of genocide.

Anyway, the issue in Great Britain involved a murder. A police officer by name of Wayne Couzens raped and murdered a woman named Sarah Everard. For his crime, he has been convicted and will spend the rest of his life in jail. 

But, that is not good enough for the head of the Police Federation, a man named John Apter. He called for the outright banning of sexually offensive language.

Police need to call time on elements of canteen culture where 'sexist nicknames and derogatory remarks are made', the National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales said.

John Apter, head of the organisation which represents more than 130,000 officers from the rank of constable to chief inspector, wrote in the Sunday Times of the need for culture change in the wake of the Sarah Everard murder.

Wayne Couzens, who was a serving Metropolitan police officer, was handed a whole-life tariff in September after kidnapping, raping and murdering the 33-year-old Ms Everard.

Mr Apter said the 'horrific' murder had impacted the public's relationship with the police, writing: 'It's not enough to just say that this was the action of one evil man who deserves to rot in jail.'

It’s the culture, stupid. It’s the white supremacist culture, made manifest in derogatory terms, that caused the crime.

Before you know it, the police federation will ban any officer from calling the Metropolitan London Police Commissioner by her name. That name is: Cressida Dick. No more dick jokes, please.

And yet, if we look a bit beyond London, we will recall that constables in Rotherham allowed Muslim grooming gangs to rape and to sex traffic high school girls with impunity, for years. The constables knew what was happening. They knew who was doing it. But, they let it happen because they did not want to be accused of being racist. Right. It’s called human sacrifice, sacrificing girls on the altar of wokeness. Dare I mention that British feminists had nothing to say about this.

Now, if we want to be more serious than the authorities in Britain and America, we should ask ourselves whether certain people belonging to certain groups are more likely to engage in rape. If we did we would discover that these groups are not necessarily those who exchange the most dick jokes. These groups, notably in Sweden and other parts of Western Europe, turn out to belong to one specific ethnic group. They are invariably Muslim migrants.

In the meantime, consider this. Two weeks ago a conservative member of Parliament, Sir David Amess was murdered in public by a Muslim terrorist.

And yet, as Brendan O’Neill points out on Spiked, the British nation is fully engaged in covering up the fact that this was an act of Islamist terror:

We seem to be witnessing the cranking into action of the Islamist terror amnesia industry. This is the means through which, subtly and sometimes imperceptibly, memorialisation of lives lost to suspected Islamist terror is discouraged. Where the politics is drained from such outrages and we are pressured to view them less as violent expressions of a particular ideology and more as sad, unpleasant events. As occasions for grief, not anger; for fleeting reflection, not societal interrogation. This happens after every suspected Islamist attack. The elite’s fear of what would happen if we had an honest, collective confrontation with the problem of radical Islam comes to outweigh everything else, even the act of remembering.’

Feel free to read the rest at your leisure. The point is clear-- some crimes are taken to reflect on a community and its culture, while some are not. As of now, given the dominant narrative, crimes committed in England by Muslims are taken to be revolts against injustice, while anything a white person does wrong is taken to be incontrovertible evidence of a white supremacist conspiracy. 

Saturday, October 30, 2021

The World According to Brene Brown

Everyone has heard of Brene Brown. The major purveyor of psychobabble and empty platitudes just received the star treatment-- a profile in The New Yorker. It makes you regret that Janet Malcolm is not around to puncture the bubble that has become Brown’s reputation.

Anyway, as I read the drooling profile I recalled a phrase we owe to one Nathan Robinson. The phrase: we get the intellectuals we deserve.

Now, Robinson was using the phrase in a magisterial review of one Jordan Peterson. Since Brown and Peterson are both denizens of the psycho world, it seems apt to compare the two. As for Robinson himself, he is a very bright young man who suffers from an adolescent infatuation with socialism. We can only wish that he will outgrow it. 

Unfortunately, some people will dismiss his views of Peterson on they rounds that he is a self-proclaimed leftist radical. Personally, I prefer a leftist who is honest enough to call himself a blooming radical than one who declares himself, in defiance of logic and of the English language, a progressive. One suspects that the Congresspeople who call themselves progressives do not know what the term means, anyway.

I will mention in passing that I have not read Peterson’s books. You might think that this does not qualify me to comment on a slightly off-kilter Jungian-- for the record, all Jungians are slightly off-kilter-- but, in truth, anyone who cannot see past Carl Jung does not deserve to be taken seriously. Aside from Jung’s flirtations with Nazism and his forays into anti-Semitism, the Swiss psychoanalyst was effectively selling pagan idolatry. If pagan idolatry is your thing, Jung is your man. If you want to undermine the moral basis of Western civilization, turn to Jung and imbibe his musings about pagan mythology, astrology, alchemy, witchcraft and Tarot cards.

For my part life is too short to waste time on the mental meanderings of a born again Jungian. You might say that if I had seen any indication that Peterson knew how to think, I would have read him. 

Anyway, Robinson’s description of Peterson can easily apply to one Brene Brown. That is a good reason to introduce it here:

If you want to appear very profound and convince people to take you seriously, but have nothing of value to say, there is a tried and tested method. First, take some extremely obvious platitude or truism. Make sure it actually does contain some insight, though it can be rather vague. Something like “if you’re too conciliatory, you will sometimes get taken advantage of” or “many moral values are similar across human societies.” 

Then, try to restate your platitude using as many words as possible, as unintelligibly as possible, while never repeating yourself exactly. Use highly technical language drawn from many different academic disciplines, so that no one person will ever have adequate training to fully evaluate your work. 

That’s not all: 

Never say anything too specific, and if you do, qualify it heavily so that you can always insist you meant the opposite. Then evangelize: speak as confidently as possible, as if you are sharing God’s own truth. Accept no criticisms: insist that any skeptic has either misinterpreted you or has actually already admitted that you are correct. Talk as much as possible and listen as little as possible. Follow these steps, and your success will be assured. (It does help if you are male and Caucasian.)

On the latter score, Robinson is clearly wrong. Part of the appeal of Brene Brown must be that she is a woman. One wonders whether a man could ever have gotten away with serving up such pabulum.

Like Peterson, Brene Brown is a symptom of a moment where Western civilization is falling apart. Robinson continues:

If Jordan Peterson is the most influential intellectual in the Western world, the Western world has lost its damn mind. And since Jordan Peterson does indeed have a good claim to being the most influential intellectual in the Western world, we need to think seriously about what has gone wrong. What have we done to end up with this man? His success is our failure, and while it’s easy to scoff at him, it’s more important to inquire into how we got to this point. He is a symptom. He shows a culture bereft of ideas, a politics without inspiration or principle. Jordan Peterson may not be the intellectual we want. But he is probably the intellectual we deserve.

One might well say that Brene Brown is what people who have imbibed the swill that constitutes therapy culture deserve. Besides, I have already remarked on her theoretical deficiencies. Link here.

Brown applies the virtues of confessional literature in order to make it appear that she has received something like divine inspiration:

Connection, Brown goes on, is the essence of human experience. When she studied it, she found that what impeded connection was shame—the feeling that some quality prevented us from being worthy of love. 

Transcending that shame involved vulnerability: the “excruciating” act of allowing ourselves to be truly known. “I hate vulnerability,” Brown continues. But the happiest people in her research had embraced it; they accepted their imperfections, risked saying “I love you” first. Once Brown had this realization, it led to a “breakdown”—a year in therapy, not unlike a “street fight,” during which she was forced to confront her dread of exposure. “I lost the fight, but probably won my life back,” she says.

Now let us praise vulnerability. Yes, indeed, this is all a pile of girltalk. It almost goes without saying that it will make you dysfunctional in the workplace. The worst part is that showing off your vulnerability in the workplace invites the wrong kind of attention. If we are at all serious about reducing the colossal amount of harassment and abuse that women, in particular, suffer in the workplace, we should put vulnerability back where it belongs-- and that is not in the workplace.

What was the #MeToo movement doing if not flooding the zone with stories about women’s vulnerability. Do you really believe that this advanced professional and business opportunities for women? In truth, as everyone with a barely functioning mind understands full well, it caused more than a few men to avoid personal contact with female subordinates, and even colleagues. 

Of course, connection matters. Human contact matters. Human relationships matter. And they all depend on your having a sense of shame. That means, for those who are not seduced by Brown’s drivel, keeping your pants on, keeping your private parts out of the public square, reserving your intimate feelings for your intimates. Making a public spectacle of your shamelessness, which seems to be what Brown is recommending, will turn your life into endless drama, but will not connect you with anyone.

Brown believes that shaming people does not change behavior. This means, if I may, that shaming people is the only way that people will ever change behaviors. If you have no sense that you have done something wrong, why would you ever correct yourself.

The New Yorker reported:

While working at a residential treatment facility for children, she had encountered a striking idea during a staff meeting. “You cannot shame or belittle people into changing their behaviors,” a clinical director told the group.

As it happens, Brown is taken to be something of an expert on the topic of shame. Of course, she does not understand it, but she does understand that she prefers guilt. This is inane. Consider the reasoning, or lack of same.

Again and again, Brown encountered the destructive power of shame (“I am bad”), which seemed to corrode the self, unlike guilt (“I did something bad”), which held it accountable. 

Of course, shame does not say that you are bad. It says that you dropped the ball. It says that you used the wrong fork. It says that your marketing plan failed. It says that you made a mistake. By expressing your shame through an apology you are saying that the mistake does not define you. Just because you dropped the ball, you are not going to drop every ball. You are going to work hard to overcome your failure to focus.

Whereas shame involves failures to adhere to social norms-- point that seems to have escaped Brown’s mini-mind-- guilt, for those who understand it, refers to criminal activity, that is to breaking laws, to transgressing prohibitions. Dropping the ball or making a public spectacle of your vulnerability-- both of which ought to provoke feelings of shame-- is not the same as sticking up a bodega or assaulting someone on the street. The latter will incite guilt, not necessarily because the perpetrator will feel guilty-- what does it mean to be a psychopath except to be exempt from guilt. In truth, guilt, for those who have considered the issue for more than a nanosecond, is ascribed by a court of law. You can be pronounced guilty and held to account regardless of whether you feel guilt.

The rest of the article explains Brown’s work with corporate clients. Of course, a large part of it is explaining that she does not mean what she says and that when she says that everyone should advertise their vulnerability, thus compromising their career prospects by making themselves look weak and pathetic, she does not exactly mean what she says. 

Apparently, Brown wants corporate honchos to reckon with their humanity and the humanity of their staff. This is also silly thinking, the kind that produces a radical girlification of the workplace. In business it is never about your humanity. It is about your role in the company and your defined relationship with people who have different roles. With your role comes certain responsibilities. None of them have anything to do with your being a fully fledged human organism:

In her corporate work, Brown is essentially putting that mantra into practice: getting leaders and workers to reckon with one another’s humanity. This includes addressing problems directly rather than back-channelling, creating the psychological safety for openness, and helping all workers feel like they belong. “I didn’t invent that,” Brown told me in Austin, in a small conference room at U.T. “You read every article in H.B.R. over the last twenty years, and it’s got all these great things to do”—take risks, accept the possibility of failure, truly listen. “But not one person is talking about the vulnerability that it takes to do it.”

On the last score, we can sorta agree. Surely, great leaders take great risks. When one thinks of someone like Elon Musk one understands that he is not averse to taking risks. And yet, one takes risks because one has courage, not because one feels vulnerable. It might well be that those who take the greatest risks feel invulnerable.

In truth, risk taking is more consonant with people who feel less vulnerable. That would be the male of the species. As it happens, women, who remain more vulnerable, for being physiologically weaker, are more risk averse than men. Everyone should know this. Apparently, everyone does not.

The training emphasizes that vulnerability doesn’t mean heedlessly sharing information or emotions. “Sometimes I’ll hear someone say something like ‘How often should I cry in front of my team?’ ” Brown told an interviewer on “60 Minutes.” “That’s not what I’m saying. Vulnerability is not about self-disclosure. I’m not saying you have to weep uncontrollably to show how human you are. I’m saying, Try to be aware of your armor, and when you feel vulnerable try not to Transformer up. . . . Very different things.”

Obviously, this is gibberish. What is vulnerability if not self-disclosure. What could make you feel more vulnerable than sexting, for instance. Naturally, Brown is not proposing that people sext. Yet, her advice, for those who take it seriously, does not tell you not to do so. How else can you show how well you have overcome your sense of shame?

For those who want to see Brown’s ideas in action, one need only look at the group that has now been called Gen Z. Emma Goldberg wrote a fascinating piece about it in The New York Times. As a ground level look at the culture, it deserves all of the positive attention it has been receiving.

Gen Z, for those who care, comes after the notably dysfunctional millennial group. Gen Z, by Goldberg’s calculation, is the cohort that is too young to recall 9/11. That is, young adults born after 1997.

As this group enters the workforce, their bad habits and dysfunctional behaviors are wreaking corporate havoc. These young people are thin-skinned, easily triggered, seriously vulnerable and complain constantly. They do not understand their roles, do not understand the rules and refuse to respect their managers. They were brought up in a therapy culture and this has turned their lives into non-stop therapy. That are that brittle and are that weak and vulnerable. The last thing they will do is take risks.

Goldberg explains:

At a retail business based in New York, managers were distressed to encounter young employees who wanted paid time off when coping with anxiety or period cramps. At a supplement company, a Gen Z worker questioned why she would be expected to clock in for a standard eight-hour day when she might get through her to-do list by the afternoon. 

At a biotech venture, entry-level staff members delegated tasks to the founder. And spanning sectors and start-ups, the youngest members of the work force have demanded what they see as a long overdue shift away from corporate neutrality toward a more open expression of values, whether through executives displaying their pronouns on Slack or putting out statements in support of the protests for Black Lives Matter.

Time off for period cramps-- now that gives you a true glimpse of today’s strong, empowered women. And, dare I mention, perhaps employees should keep some of their private experiences to themselves.

When it comes to exposing their vulnerability, thus making them more thin-skinned, and more likely to receive the pity of their co-workers, Gen Z has the Brown program down pat.

Brene Brown might not approve, but her theorizing is sufficiently lame, her inability to think perfectly manifest, that her pabulum easily leads to the following scenes. Note well, exposing vulnerability breaks the bounds of professional conversation, of the kind of respect for colleagues that will surely tamp down the current tendency to harass and abuse one’s colleagues.

Goldberg explains:

At many businesses, Gen Z employees are given increasing leeway to drive internal culture, too. Emily Fletcher, 42, who runs Ziva Meditation, noticed that at her company retreat the junior people were the ones who were most comfortable stretching the bounds of what is considered professional conversation.

This became apparent when the staff participated in an exercise she calls the “Suffie Awards”: sitting around a campfire and sharing personal sources of suffering from last year, trying to one-up one another as corny award show music played in the background. It was the Gen Zers, Ms. Fletcher said, getting the most vulnerable by speaking about partners cheating on them or the loneliness of a solo quarantine.

“They celebrate human emotion, instead of having an outdated framework of what corporate should be,” Ms. Fletcher said.

Corporate America, as the saying goes, has gone completely woke. One feels some sympathy for the managers who are obliged to deal with these young fools. But, they made their own beds. They took Brene Brown’s silly and mindless ramblings seriously. Now they are paying the corporate price. If you think that these people are going to compete against companies in Asia you are living in an unreal world. This explains why Facebook prefers to hire young software engineers who were educated in Shanghai. Anything but Gen Z.

Friday, October 29, 2021

Israel Today

I will spare you Tom Friedman’s deranged notion to the effect that Joe Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan and the connivance of Mother Nature are improving conditions in the Middle East.

Everyone but Friedman knows that Biden’s surrender of Afghanistan was a catastrophe. Relying on Mother Nature is simply a way to deny the Trump administration any credit for the Abraham Accords. Not strangely, Friedman does not see the Abraham Accords as having contributed to the construction of a new Middle East.

Keep in mind, a decade or so ago Friedman was camping out in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, celebrating the downfall of the Mubarak regime and awaiting the arrival of the democratically empowered Muslim Brotherhood. In fact, the hapless and hopeless Hillary Clinton was the first foreign leader to greet the newly elected Brotherhood candidate, Mohamed Morsi. She was doubtless rewarding his party’s support for female genital mutilation. 

Anyway, a more serious journalist in a more serious newspaper, Gideon Rachman in the Financial Times, reports from a recent trip to Israel. We all love our geopolitics, but it is good to take a look at what is happening on the ground.

Visit Israel, as I did last week, and you still hear regular dark warnings about Iran and terrorism. But what is far more striking is the mood of buoyant optimism among the country’s political and business leaders.

Israel has enjoyed more than a decade of rising prosperity and relative peace. Its per capita income is now higher than that of Britain. The country’s booming tech industry boasts more than 70 unicorns (tech start-up companies valued at $1bn or more), which is about 10 per cent of the global total. Venture capital is pouring into the country. Israel is also a world leader in the fight against Covid-19, vaccinating its population faster than any other country.

A country is known by its economic and social progress. This being given, it is clear that it is in the interest of Israel’s Muslim neighbors to develop economic and commercial ties. And then, Rachman credits the Abraham Accords:

Most intoxicatingly of all, Israelis feel that they are breaking out of the international isolation that has long threatened the country with pariah status. The immediate cause for this is the Abraham Accords, which have normalised Israel’s relations with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain and, more tepidly, Morocco and Sudan.

Issawi Frej, Israel’s minister for regional co-operation, enthuses that the accords offer the country huge opportunities for economic growth. Frej, who is an Arab-Israeli, recently attended a meeting in Abu Dhabi with the Abraham accord countries, Egypt and Jordan. He predicts that more countries in the region will join the accords soon.

Relations with the United Arab Emirates are moving forward at a good pace:

Despite the pandemic, it feels like every prominent Israeli has recently visited the UAE. They come back enthusing about the novelty of flying over Saudi airspace and the warmth of their reception in Dubai.

And then there are the commercial ties. The parties to the Abraham Accords are doing business together.

There are also more tangible pay-offs. Many Israeli companies are doing deals in the UAE. Israel Aerospace Industries, a leading tech exporter closely linked to the military, has established a facility in Abu Dhabi. Like other Israeli companies, it sees the Gulf as a jumping off point for new global markets.

The Abraham Accords broke the longstanding linkage between the Palestinian issue and Middle East peace. Clearly, the Biden administration is still mired in the past, and still wants to empower Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. It seems to be playing a losing hand:

One senior western diplomat in Israel says that 15 years ago diplomacy with Israel was “80 per cent Palestine, 20 per cent other things. Now it is 20 per cent Palestine, 80 per cent other things.” Israel’s technological prowess is key to changing its relationship with the outside world. As the diplomat puts it: “The world wants what Israel is selling.”

And then there is the fact that China, India and Russia are more interested in commercial ties and scientific exchanges than in wasting themselves and their people on the lost Palestinian cause.

For the current generation, other issues are more pressing. In Washington, the growing rivalry between the US and China is the defining issue. The governments of China, India and Russia see Israel primarily as a tech partner and a geopolitical actor. In the Middle East, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States are more worried by the threat from Iran than the fate of the Palestinians. The shared fear of Iran, in Israel and the Gulf, underpinned the Abraham Accords.

If Hamas thought that firing rockets into Israel and inciting an Israeli counterattack that killed Palestinian children would derail the Abraham Accords, it was wrong. True, the New York Times ran a front page blood libel against Israel, picturing dead Palestinian children under the headline: They Were Only Children. True enough, liberal Jewish Times readers did not notice.

And yet, the American left and the Biden administration had backed the wrong team. Rachman concludes:

An outbreak of fighting with Hamas in May saw at least 260 Palestinians killed by Israeli strikes on Gaza; with 13 people killed in Israel, mainly by Hamas rockets. But international condemnation of Israel subsided quickly. The Abraham Accords were not derailed and neither was the decision of Ra’am, an Arab-Israeli party, to participate in the new coalition government.

The implications for the Palestinians are bleak. Their cause remains high on the agenda of the left in the West. But with weakening support in the Arab world, the Palestinian ability to put pressure on Israel is weakening.

The pessimistic view is that an increasingly confident Israel will now feel free to press ahead with further colonisation of the West Bank. But there is an alternative path. Support for the peace process in Israel collapsed after the terror attacks of the second intifada from 2000-2005. A more secure and optimistic Israel could also be a more generous country.

To this we will add that an Israeli source, called Globes, reported today that Israel and Saudi Arabia are in advanced talks to establish diplomatic ties.

Senior US sources have confirmed that there are advanced talks between Israel and Saudi Arabia on establishing diplomatic relations. The sources said that it was not clear if Saudi Arabia would join the Abraham Accords and establish full normalization, or make do with lower level economic trade ties.

This would probably involve representative offices to deal with economic and trade matters and other topics, like handling the Covid pandemic. Israeli sources told "Globes" yesterday that diplomatic talks have intensified recently between Israel and some Arab states, including Saudi Arabia, as part of the Abraham Accords.

Serious people are involved in serious and delicate diplomacy. Serious journalists are writing serious articles about the situation on the ground. Tom Friedman, when he is not baying at the moon, is writing decidedly unserious drivel about how we should just leave it all to Mother Nature.

Thursday, October 28, 2021

The Biden Presidency in Freefall

New York Times columnist Bret Stephens has skillfully catalogued the serial failures of the Biden presidency. I will happily share his analysis.

And he asserts that America needs Biden to succeed. In truth, and in the larger scheme of things, we all need our president to succeed. I will mention, in passing, that no one on the left or even in the center ever dared say that America needed the Trump presidency to succeed.

After listing Biden’s failures, noting that good old Joe has been wrong on just about every foreign policy issue since the beginning of time and that even Barack Obama had no confidence in Biden’s competence, Stephens suggests that Biden has been ill advised. And that he can solve the problem by bringing back Robert Gates. 


In truth, the people Biden hired are people he hired. From the inept Antony Blinken to the absurd Lloyd Austin to the corrupt Jake Sullivan, these are Biden’s people. If you voted for Joe you voted for this crew. 

Besides, not to be overly obvious, but the buck stops with the president. We need a new president, if anything, and we are not going to get one for a few years now, especially given that the alternative to Biden is the thoroughly incompetent Kamala Harris.

Anyway, for your edification, and just in case you do not subscribe to the Times, here is some of the Stephens analysis:

In other words, on one of the central foreign policy challenges of our time, the president can’t get his facts straight. On another, he can’t seem to get his message across. On the third, it’s unclear whether there’s any coherent policy at all.

America’s position in the world as a credible ally to embattled friends and a serious foe to adventurist enemies is visibly crumbling.

Biden is bringing about an American decline. It's going to take more than a change of personnel to solve this.

So, let’s take it from the top, beginning with the recent Iranian attack on American troops in Syria:

A “complex, coordinated and deliberate attack,” was how John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, on Monday described a recent drone assault on a U.S. military outpost in Syria that helps train local allies to fight ISIS. It was carried out with as many as five Iranian drones, launched by Iranian proxies, and conducted with Iran’s aid and blessing.

We’ll see if there’s any kind of U.S. response. The Biden administration is still desperate to get Iran back to the negotiating table to sign a nuclear deal that would free up billions of dollars in funding that Tehran can use to conduct more such attacks.

Of course, letting Iran have nuclear weapons is more important than defending America. As for whether we will respond, don’t bet on it.

And then there are Russian cyberattacks against America. You recall that Biden warned the Russians against such attacks. Now we know how seriously Vladimir Putin takes the words of Joe Biden:

Also on Monday, The Times’s David Sanger reported that a Russian intelligence agency, the S.V.R., is once again engaged in a campaign “to pierce thousands of U.S. government, corporate and think-tank computer networks,” according to Microsoft cybersecurity experts. This comes just a few months after President Biden personally warned Vladimir Putin against renewing such attacks — while also going easy on the penalties the U.S. imposed for previous intrusions.

Around the same time, Biden announced that “now is the time to de-escalate.” It would seem his Russian counterpart doesn’t agree.

And then there is Taiwan. Stephens wrote this before the government of Taiwan announced that American troops are stationed there:

Then there is the sharp and worrying uptick of Chinese military flights approaching Taiwan’s airspace. The idea that Beijing may seek to seize the island democracy by force has moved, in a matter of weeks, from a remote prospect to a distinct possibility.

Biden has claimed repeatedly that the United States has a treaty obligation to come to Taiwan’s defense in the event of an attack, most recently at his CNN town hall last week. Subsequent clarifications from the White House have acknowledged that the United States is obligated by the Taiwan Relations Act only to provide sufficiently for Taiwan’s self-defense, without an explicit guarantee of U.S. military intervention.

Either Biden doesn’t know what the policy is or he is suffering from some serious cognitive decline. It will take more than Robert Gates to pull him from his decline.

It gets better, or worse, depending on your perspective.

Stephens continues to indict the president on a number of other issues. He begins with the absurd notion that people elected Biden because he promised, wisdom, experience and competence:

But Biden was elected on a promise of wisdom, experience and competence. Can anyone seriously say that we’ve gotten that?

The more pertinent question is, did anyone really believe that? Or did they need to prop up a scarecrow of a man because they were willing to do anything to destroy the big, bad Trump.

What was the Biden promise? Stephens lists the components:

The administration entered office with a sense of where it thought the world was heading. Donald Trump’s exit would dramatically improve relations with our allies and at least facilitate diplomacy with our adversaries. A more humane policy on the southern border would ease the humanitarian crisis. The burden of the pandemic would substantially ease by the Fourth of July. We would make a safe and popular exit from Afghanistan by Sept. 11. The economy would prosper.

How is that working out, bunky? Apparently not very well. Stephens explains:

Now every expectation has gone sideways, with little indication that the administration did any thinking about what might go wrong, much less any planning in case it did.

Serial incompetence-- as though you were expecting something else.

Beginning with the Afghanistan withdrawal:

Afghanistan? “There’s going to be no circumstance where you see people being lifted off the roof of a embassy,” the president said in July, barely a month before the world saw thousands of Afghans begging to be airlifted from a country surrendering to fanatics.

How are our relations with our allies. Biden says they are great, but he is obviously either oblivious or lying or both:

Relations with allies? “President Biden says he hears no criticism from America’s allies about the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan and the collapse of the government,” The Times’s Steven Erlanger reported in August. “But the criticism in Europe, at least, is loud and persistent.”

As for the immigration problem, placed in the incapable hands of Vice President Kamala Harris:

The border? In March, Biden assured the country that the surge in migration was merely seasonal, and that it “happens every single solitary year.” Instead, Border Patrol encounters with migrants reached a record high in the last year.

And, what about inflation:

The economy? In July, the president dismissed price increases as “expected, and expected to be temporary.” Current headline in The Times: “Rising Prices, Once Seen as Temporary, Threaten Biden’s Agenda.”

True enough, the Biden did accomplish one thing. It signed a nuclear submarine deal with Great Britain and Australia. Unfortunately, this ruined relations with our French ally:

Even the administration’s one genuine strategic accomplishment — the U.S.-British-Australian nuclear submarine deal, signed at France’s expense — was botched. Expect Paris to serve its diplomatic revenge cold the next time we need its help.

This is not a very good report card. It does not tell us that the administration needs some seasoned advice from Robert Gates. It tells us that the Biden presidency is off to an awful start, and that things are likely to get worse before they get better.

And Stephens does not even mention the appalling conduct of Attorney General Merrick Garland. Even Robert Gates will not be able to clean up that mess. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

But, Is It Rape?

Is it merely a reductio ad absurdum of the utter nonsense about gender? 

Let’s see. A boy with a skirt rapes two high school girls in Virginia. School. Administrators, upon being informed of the crimes, decide to cover it up-- because they want to advance their trans agenda. By their feeble thinking, gender is all in the mind. Right?

And then Barack Obama comes forth to say that it’s all a bunch of ginned up outrage by the right wing.

Anyway, the boy with a skirt was just found guilty of the rapes-- so much for Barack Hussein’s foray into gender politics.

Now, the latest in rape culture dawns in Great Britain. We learn about it through the BBC. The issue is this: if a trans woman, that is, a self-proclaimed woman with a penis wants to have sex with a lesbian, and the lesbian refuses, is the lesbian

transphobic? And if the lesbian in question is coerced into having sexual relations that she does not want because if she says No she will be exposing her bigotry, is it rape?

You think I am making this up?

Apparently, trans activists are not kinder and gentler. They are monstrous bullies, especially those who are boys wearing skirts, or better, girls with penises.

This comes to us from the BBC, that is, not from the vast right wing conspiracy:

"I've had someone saying they would rather kill me than Hitler," says 24-year-old Jennie*.

"They said they would strangle me with a belt if they were in a room with me and Hitler. That was so bizarrely violent, just because I won't have sex with trans women.”

Jennie is a lesbian woman. She says she is only sexually attracted to women who are biologically female and have vaginas. She therefore only has sex and relationships with women who are biologically female.

Jennie doesn't think this should be controversial, but not everyone agrees. She has been described as transphobic, a genital fetishist, a pervert and a "terf" - a trans exclusionary radical feminist.

"There's a common argument that they try and use that goes 'What if you met a woman in a bar and she's really beautiful and you got on really well and you went home and you discovered that she has a penis? Would you just not be interested?'" says Jennie, who lives in London and works in fashion.

"Yes, because even if someone seems attractive at first you can go off them. I just don't possess the capacity to be sexually attracted to people who are biologically male, regardless of how they identify."

Would you call this rape? If not, why not? 

So, now lesbians are becoming victimized by trans women, that is, women with penises. 

Several people got in touch with me to say there was a "huge problem" for lesbians, who were being pressured to "accept the idea that a penis can be a female sex organ".

I knew this would be a hugely divisive subject, but I wanted to find out how widespread the issue was.

Ultimately, it has been difficult to determine the true scale of the problem because there has been little research on this topic - only one survey to my knowledge. However, those affected have told me the pressure comes from a minority of trans women, as well as activists who are not necessarily trans themselves.

They described being harassed and silenced if they tried to discuss the issue openly. I received online abuse myself when I tried to find interviewees using social media.

Some extra anecdotes, about the case of Amy:

When Amy explained her reasons for not wanting to, her girlfriend became angry.

"The first thing she called me was transphobic," Amy said. "She immediately jumped to make me feel guilty about not wanting to sleep with someone."

She said the trans woman in question had not undergone genital surgery, so still had a penis.

And that’s not all, folks. As Amy makes clear, trans females still retain many male characteristics, characteristics that are unappealing to a lesbian. One remarks that no one discusses this aspect of transitioning, that is, that there’s more to gender than genitalia. Of course, you knew that. But the trans movement has forced everyone to deny reality:

"I know there is zero possibility for me to be attracted to this person," said Amy, who lives in the south west of England and works in a small print and design studio.

"I can hear their male vocal cords. I can see their male jawline. I know, under their clothes, there is male genitalia. These are physical realities, that, as a woman who likes women, you can't just ignore."

Amy said she would feel this way even if a trans woman had undergone genital surgery - which some opt for, while many don't.

Soon afterwards Amy and her girlfriend split up.

"I remember she was extremely shocked and angry, and claimed my views were extremist propaganda and inciting violence towards the trans community, as well as comparing me to far-right groups," she said.

Without going into the sordid details, removing male genitalia does not grant a trans women female genitalia.

Again, is the following example an instance of rape? Was she consenting?

Another lesbian woman, 26-year-old Chloe*, said she felt so pressured she ended up having penetrative sex with a trans woman at university after repeatedly explaining she was not interested.

They lived near each other in halls of residence. Chloe had been drinking alcohol and does not think she could have given proper consent.

"I felt very bad for hating every moment, because the idea is we are attracted to gender rather than sex, and I did not feel that, and I felt bad for feeling like that," she said.

Ashamed and embarrassed, she decided not to tell anyone.

"The language at the time was very much 'trans women are women, they are always women, lesbians should date them'. And I was like, that's the reason I rejected this person. Does that make me bad? Am I not going to be allowed to be in the LGBT community anymore? Am I going to face repercussions for that instead?' So I didn't actually tell anyone."

Mind games, I would call them. But, is it rape?

One compared going on dates with trans women to so-called conversion therapy - the controversial practice of trying to change someone's sexual orientation.

"I knew I wasn't attracted to them but internalised the idea that it was because of my 'transmisogyny' and that if I dated them for long enough I could start to be attracted to them. It was DIY conversion therapy," she wrote.

Another reported a trans woman physically forcing her to have sex after they went on a date.

Apparently, she was brainwashed by queer theory-- theory that that eminent nitwit Judith Butler has said is perfectly harmless:

"[They] threatened to out me as a terf and risk my job if I refused to sleep with [them]," she wrote. "I was too young to argue and had been brainwashed by queer theory so [they were] a 'woman' even if every fibre of my being was screaming throughout so I agreed to go home with [them]. [They] used physical force when I changed my mind upon seeing [their] penis and raped me."

While welcomed by some in the LGBT community, Angela's report was described as transphobic by others.

"[People said] we are worse than rapists because we [supposedly] try to frame every trans woman as a rapist," said Angela.

"This is not the point. The point is that if it happens we need to speak about it. If it happens to one woman it's wrong. As it turns out it happens to more than one woman."

As it happens, the biology of sexual attraction seems to be at work as these women with penises seek female sex partners:

Although there is currently little data on the sexual orientation of trans women, she believes most are female-attracted because they are biologically male and most males are attracted to women.

"So when they [trans women] are trying to find partners, when lesbian women say 'we want women', and heterosexual women say they want a heterosexual man, that leaves trans women isolated from relationships, and possibly feeling very let down by society, angry, upset and feeling that the world is out to get them," she said.

Debbie thinks it's fine if a lesbian woman does not want to date a trans woman, but is concerned some are being pressured to do so.

"The way that shaming is used is just horrific; it's emotional manipulation and warfare going on," she said.

"These women who want to form relationships with other biological women are feeling bad about that. How did we get here?"

Exactly the right question? How did we get here? Well, to venture a guess, it has happened because legions of the woke have imposed ridiculous unscientific dogmas on the population. We have also gotten here because trans people, suffering the aftereffects of their treatment, have decided that if they are miserable the only reason can be that someone called them the wrong pronoun.