Monday, July 31, 2023

An Impoverished Europe

Only the Wall Street Journal is reporting the story. While we are questioning America’s economic fortunes and while we are anxiously watching the signs of economic sluggishness in China, Europe has entered a period of economic decline. We are fully confident that Europe is fighting the good fight against Russia in Ukraine, but we are ignoring the fact that Europeans are becoming poorer. 

The Journal reports:


Europeans are facing a new economic reality, one they haven’t experienced in decades. They are becoming poorer.

Life on a continent long envied by outsiders for its art de vivre is rapidly losing its shine as Europeans see their purchasing power melt away. 


The French are eating less foie gras and drinking less red wine. Spaniards are stinting on olive oil. Finns are being urged to use saunas on windy days when energy is less expensive. Across Germany, meat and milk consumption has fallen to the lowest level in three decades and the once-booming market for organic food has tanked. Italy’s economic development minister, Adolfo Urso, convened a crisis meeting in May over prices for pasta, the country’s favorite staple, after they jumped by more than double the national inflation rate.


With consumption spending in free fall, Europe tipped into recession at the start of the year, reinforcing a sense of relative economic, political and military decline that kicked in at the start of the century. 


Naturally, we all want to know what has caused the decline. According to the Journal, the causes are multiple. Part of it is cultural. Europeans no longer want to work very hard. Part of it is political. The war in Ukraine is producing inflation. Part of it is geopolitical. China is suffering an economic slump and is not buying as many European goods as it used to. 


An aging population with a preference for free time and job security over earnings ushered in years of lackluster economic and productivity growth. Then came the one-two punch of the Covid-19 pandemic and Russia’s protracted war in Ukraine. By upending global supply chains and sending the prices of energy and food rocketing, the crises aggravated ailments that had been festering for decades….


In the past, the continent’s formidable export industry might have come to the rescue. But a sluggish recovery in China, a critical market for Europe, is undermining that growth pillar. High energy costs and rampant inflation at a level not seen since the 1970s are dulling manufacturers’ price advantage in international markets and smashing the continent’s once-harmonious labor relations. As global trade cools, Europe’s heavy reliance on exports—which account for about 50% of eurozone GDP versus 10% for the U.S.—is becoming a weakness. 


And now Europeans who want higher priced foods, like meat, are often obliged to look to charities:


In Brussels, one of Europe’s richest cities, teachers and nurses stood in line on a recent evening to collect half-price groceries from the back of a truck. The vendor, Happy Hours Market, collects food close to its expiration date from supermarkets and advertises it through an app. Customers can order in the early afternoon and collect their cut-price groceries in the evening. 


And also,


TooGoodToGo, a company founded in Denmark in 2015 that sells leftover food from retailers and restaurants, has 76 million registered users across Europe, roughly three times the number at the end of 2020. In Germany, Sirplus, a startup created in 2017, offers “rescued” food, including products past their sell-by date, on its online store. So does Motatos, created in Sweden in 2014 and now present in Finland, Germany, Denmark and the U.K.


Now, the generous European welfare states are running out of money. They have just discovered the truth of Margaret Thatcher’s dictum, that socialism fails when it eventually runs out of other people’s money. Failing to produce enough wealth, it eventually causes impoverishment.


Weak growth and rising interest rates are straining Europe’s generous welfare states, which provide popular healthcare services and pensions. European governments find the old recipes for fixing the problem are either becoming unaffordable or have stopped working. Three-quarters of a trillion euros in subsidies, tax breaks and other forms of relief have gone to consumers and businesses to offset higher energy costs—something economists say is now itself fueling inflation, defeating the subsidies’ purpose. 


Of course, this drives workers to join labor unions. And yet, they do not merely seek higher wages. European workers want to work less. They are looking for better work/life balance. Apparently, putting this trendy concept into practice damages economies.


Almost half of employees in Germany’s health industry choose to work around 30 hours per week rather than full time, reflecting tough working conditions, said Frank Werneke, chairman of the country’s United Services Trade Union, which has added about 110,000 new members in recent months, the biggest increase in 22 years. 


Kristian Kallio, a games developer in northern Finland, recently decided to reduce his working week by one-fifth to 30 hours in exchange for a 10% pay cut. He now makes about €2,500 per month. “Who wouldn’t want to work shorter hours?” Kallio said. About one-third of his colleagues took the same deal, although leaders work full-time, said Kallio’s boss, Jaakko Kylm√§oja.


That gives you a sketch of the Journal article. It seems to be a cautionary tale, the risks inherent in the socialism lite economic policies that Europeans have been touting for decades now. 


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Sunday, July 30, 2023

Yes, We Ruined Sex

The Wall Street Journal has asked a ponderous question: “Have we ruined sex?” To address the issue, it called on five adults, people who presumably have had first hand experience of sex, and who enjoy theorizing about the issue.

The team includes Katie Roiphe, Andrew Sullivan, Mary Harrington, Coleman Hughes and Agnes Callard. The group is suitably diverse, and naturally it gets it all wrong. 


Before I started reading the replies I thought to myself that these distinguished intellectuals will most assuredly fail to connect sex with reproduction. In truth, I was slightly wrong. One author Mary Harrington does mention procreation in passing, before moving on to more erotic matters. For the record, no one mentions STDs.


And yet, at a time when everyone is rushing out to see a movie about a doll named Barbie, several commentators have sagely pointed out that while Barbie can be anything she wants to be, there is one exception. Barbie can never get pregnant. She can never have babies, or even baby dolls.


Call it a gesture toward liberation; it frees young girls from the notion that they might want to grow up to become wives and mothers. For some this is a good thing; for others, not so much.


As for the question itself, my first thoughtwas quite simply that we have ruined sex, by talking it to death. Upon reading the columns in question, I added a slight qualification-- we have not just talked it to death. We have thought it to death. 


Better yet, we have exposed sex to the light of day. We forgot that St. Augustine, the eminent bishop of Hippo, explained that sex is better in the dark. 


This means, we have forced sex, whatever it is, to submit to our philosophical and psychological musings and meanderings. And we got lost in the labyrinth. 


Examine one serious thinker and watch how her deep reflections lead her astray. Philosopher Agnes Callard explains that sexual activities are a ritual. For some people they might be a ritual. For others, not so much. To avoid the temptation to distort her thinking, I quote her:


A ritual is a sequence of behaviors that symbolically enacts an idea. A handshake or a bow enacts the idea of mutual acknowledgment; a wedding enacts the coming into existence of a commitment.


For example, we have trouble with the idea of death, to the point of sometimes saying of a loved one, “I can’t believe she’s dead.” The funeral enacts the idea that “she’s not just not missing on this or that occasion; she is permanently gone.” A bedtime ritual, such as a story and a kiss good night, enacts the idea “I still care about you, even though I’m leaving you alone in the dark with nothing to do”—and it does so better than simply saying those words.


The idea that sex enacts is one of the trickiest: thoroughly reciprocal desire.


I appreciate childlike naivete as much as the next man, but if you think that conjugal coitus always involves thoroughly reciprocal desire, you are missing the obvious. If conjugal and other forms of coitus required thoroughly reciprocal desire, the human species would have long since died out. 


As for her other point, namely, that desire is satisfied when it is reciprocated, the point seems blazingly absurd. You can certainly desire someone who does not want you. It happens all the time. 


Besides, desire is akin to appetite. You can feel a burning hunger for some vanilla flan without your desire being reciprocated.


As for the satisfaction of desire, you probably know that desire is satisfied when it reaches what people gingerly call climax. To imagine that people whose conjugal and non-conjugal coitus is approaching climax are thinking that they will not feel satisfied unless their desire is reciprocated, is a step into a theoretical void.


You might find this intriguing. Sad to say, I do not. But what is this thing called ritual?


When you participate in a family dinner you are not enacting an idea. You are following a multitude of rules that constitute good table manners. The goal is social harmony, not enacting an idea. When you are getting married you are not enacting an idea of commitment. You are making a commitment.


As everyone knows by now, the theory of performative utterances, hatched by a British philosopher named J. L. Austin, proposes that certain words do something, as in, when the preacher declares you man and wife, you then become man and wife. The commitment precedes the performative.


And yet, things are slightly less complicated than they appear. Within the marital context, one specific sex act, the act of conjugal coitus, consummates a verbal and public commitment. And we note, perhaps with some chagrin, that conjugal coitus is defined as a duty, not as a desire. That’s why it is called a conjugal duty not a conjugal desire. The two are not the same.


Surely, this does not preclude that you might want to do something that you are duty bound to do. Yet conjugal coitus is a duty for reasons that have more to do with procreation than with desire.


One appreciates the charm in thinking that conjugal coitus accompanies or even expresses desire, but one feels obliged to notice that most marriages, in the history of the human species, have been arrangements. True love and burning desire have mostly been the province of extra-marital sexual relations.


In truth, if you define sex in terms of desire, and if you let your desire be your guide, you might arrive at the point where you feel obliged to act on your most intensely passionate desires. And that often involves breaking your marriage vows.


Now, most human societies frown on such antics. They see sex in terms of conjugal duties and ban adultery. When sex involves conjugal coitus, the future of the family and of the society is in play. Why did human societies attempt to socialize sex thusly? Simply put, and this has been known forever, they wanted to ensure that people know whose child belongs to which father. 


The rules do not preclude desire, but they do not enact desire or even ideas. They produce social cohesion, that being a more important value than acting on the stirrings in your loins.


Of course, we need to mention certain sexual acts-- we will not name them-- that constitute foolproof contraception. Regardless of whether your desire is reciprocal, some sex acts cannot involve reproduction, and some can. 


Societies differentiate between them strictly. Heck, even Freud did. In principle, society does not care about sex acts that constitute foolproof contraception. But, this often depends on demographic considerations. If a small social group is facing extinction, foolproof contraception is a threat to group survival. If a large social group is overpopulated, it will be far more tolerant of foolproof contraception. 


More largely, as the authors make clear, sexual desire is a feminist issue. If women, as the Barbie movie makes clear, are no longer allowed to define themselves by a role like “wife” they might end up engendering a hookup culture. 


The result has been, less sex for everyone. Fostering random sex acts with people you do not know and who have not made a commitment to you turns people off to sex. And this is true, regardless of whether or not women feel that they are being liberated, either from conventional mores or from their clothes.


As Coleman Hughes suggested, the moral panic over sexual assault on campuses derived in some part from women’s dissatisfaction with hookup culture.


The real issue was a culture that not only sanctioned but encouraged young people to have sex without any expectation of courtesy, follow-through or commitment——particularly from the male side. While they couldn’t get mad at young men for participating in hookup culture, which was supposedly a feminist and progressive innovation, women could direct their anger at young men on the issue of sexual assault.


So, immodesty ruined sex. Way to go, girls!


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Saturday, July 29, 2023

Saturday Miscellany

First, thanks be to Maureen Dowd. Joe Biden has finally acknowledged his seventh grandchild, named Navy Roberts. Having been shamed by Maureen Dowd, Biden finally did right by the little girl. Now we know what it takes for Joe Biden to do the right thing-- bad press, especially in the New York Times.

Second, during a Senate committee hearing on extraterrestrial beings, the issue apparently arose, that if such beings exist, why have they not communicated with us. A burning issue, you will agree, one worthy of the United States Senate.


Louisiana Senator John Kennedy put the matter to rest:


In Washington, D.C., common sense is illegal. I swear to God and all the angels that’s true. You know, I remember when the kitchen table issues mattered more than pronouns, when boys weren’t allowed to compete in girls’ sports, when truth mattered a lot more than political correctness…. Maybe that’s why the aliens won’t talk to us.


Dare we mention, the cultural markers that Kennedy highlights are not only visible to aliens. They are visible to people around the world. Do you really think that nations observe the current madness of American culture and conclude that they need more liberal democracy? If you wonder why countries are not buying what we are selling, consider these points.


Third, on the Bud Light death watch. The marketing team thought it would be a good idea to promote the beer using trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney. The result, sales of the beer have declined by nearly 25%; they do not look like they are coming back. 


Now, the parent company Anheuser-Busch has been forced to lay off 2% of its workforce, around 400 executives. One hopes that the marketing executives who produced the debacle are on the list.


Fourth, said Dylan Mulvaney is now charging $40k to give lectures on women’s empowerment. As I just said, when the nations of the world look at this, do you think that they want to emulate America?


Fifth, when someone has achieved gargantuan success we often ask what his secret has been. When it comes to Elon Musk, one Esther Crawford, a woman who used to work for Musk, told us why Musk is so successful. He has a singular lack of empathy.


Obviously, all of the people who are out and about telling you to develop your capacity for empathy are leading you down the wrong path.


Sixth, one Elise Jordan, a woman who served in the George W. Bush White House, declared on national television that President Trump was being charged with “inciting an erection.” 


You can’t make it up.


Seventh, the country is in the best of hands. We are currently lacking in 32,000 pilots, mechanics and air traffic controllers. But, fear not, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is on the case. He wants the airlines to solve the problem by scheduling fewer flights.


Eighth, in a prior post I opined briefly on the fact that the decisions concerning the atomic bomb were made by American presidents, like Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman. They were not made by J. Robert Oppenheimer.


I could not opine further on the matter, because I had not seen the movie. Happily for us all, Financial Times columnist Janan Ganesh emphasized the point in his Wednesday column:


The fact that J Robert Oppen­heimer agon­ised over his part in the cre­ation of the atomic bomb is not inter­est­ing. Was he meant to whistle to work? Harry Tru­man, to whom it fell to use the “gad­get”, is the more dra­matic fig­ure, pre­cisely because he made what might be the most his­tory-alter­ing exec­ut­ive decision since Pon­tius Pil­ate without much in the way of out­ward qualms.


Chris­topher Nolan’s biopic of Oppen­heimer gives the 33rd US pres­id­ent just one scene, in which he shambles around as a pro­vin­cial buf­foon who can’t say Naga­saki right. Apart from its over-reli­ance on dia­logue for expos­i­tion, and its naiv­ete about the chances of total Axis sur­render, this account of the father of Nato is the most jar­ring thing in a fine film whose three hours sel­dom drag.


Ninth, on the transgender front, recent studies have shown that those who have undergone surgical reconstruction, which has appallingly been labeled gender-affirming, are suffering from very high rates of  post-op pain, especially during intercourse, and bladder problems.  


The Daily Mail has the story:


A huge majority - 81 percent - of those who had surgery on their genitals in the past five years said they endured pain simply from moving around in the weeks and months after going under the knife.


Researchers from the University of Florida and Brooks Rehabilitation, a health non-profit, showed that more than half of trans surgery patients endured pain during sex, and nearly a third could not control their bladders.


Tenth, a sad coda from Canada, via Twitter:


Lois Cardinal, a First Nations transgender woman, has expressed severe disappointment with Canada's healthcare system for refusing his euthanasia request due to his persistent pain from a constructed vagina.


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Friday, July 28, 2023

Down with Bidenomics

When addressing partisan political issues, we prefer to avoid the views of political partisans. Unfortunately, we are not remotely qualified to opine on economic matters, so we are obliged to find someone, somewhere to present the issues and to lead our reflections.

And that means, we need to identify someone who not only knows the field but who has integrity. We do not want to be played by a political partisan disguising himself as an objective analyst.


For that, among other reasons, we have occasionally reported the views of Harvard economics professor and former member of two Democratic administrations, Lawrence Summers. We recall, wistfully, in early 2021, that Summers predicted that the Biden stimulus bill would produce inflation.


Not only was Summers right, evidently, but he showed exemplary integrity in breaking from Democratic Party talking points. I was going to say, consensus, but  politicians are more likely to promote partisan talking points.


One suspects that Summers is not looking to join another Democratic administration. Given his advanced age he is probably more concerned with maintaining his reputation than becoming yet another Democratic Party hack.


One is not surprised to see that his more recent remarks have not been covered by the mainstream press.


Just the other day, Summers expressed his fear that the Biden program of onshoring manufacturing was going to produce more inflation. True enough, everyone is touting the virtues of onshoring, and everyone has decided that we should not rely on the big, bad Chinese. And yet, some of us have pointed out that our country does not have the human capital, for example, to build advanced semiconductor manufacturing facilities. Besides, if a foreign country can produce goods more cheaply than we can, the result will be higher prices. It stands to reason.


Besides, we have labor unions and their contracts will necessarily increase the cost of goods.


Summers expressed it thusly:


I am profoundly concerned by the doctrine of manufacturing-centered economic nationalism that is increasingly put forth as a general principle to guide policy.


Onshoring feels good, and will continue to feel good, until the bill comes due.


Taking issue with a basic tenet of Bidenomics, he said:


It is wrong to suppose that manufacturing-based economic nationalism is a route to higher incomes or better standards of living for the middle class.


As it happens, Summers prefers the free market to excessive government regulation. He disapproves of the Federal Trade Commission’s efforts to block corporate mergers. He suggested that the FTC, under chairwoman Lina Khan, seems to believe that all corporate mergers and takeovers should be prevented.


And yet, Summers suggests, what if said mergers, like Microsoft’s purchase of Activision, end up producing more efficiency and lower prices?


Summers prefers marketplace efficiencies over government regulations. Evidently, the Biden administration has disputed Summers’ remarks, but it is certainly refreshing to see a Democrat with integrity offer a sane and sober analysis of the current Democratic administration.


At a time when mercantilism is all the rage, it is not such a bad thing for an economist to recall Adam Smith. And it is not such a bad thing for him to explain why inflation has been so stubbornly high.


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Thursday, July 27, 2023

Taylor Swift, Feminist Heroine and Human Idol

Back in the day, in a time before time, young girls swooned over heartthrob male entertainers. They formed cults to Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and the Beatles. They professed undying love to the objects of their adolescent lust, but eventually outgrew their infatuations. It has something to do with putting away the toys of childhood.

Today’s young women, however, no longer become hysterical at the feet of guitar heroes. They are going positively berserk over a young woman named Taylor Swift. The phenomenon has even generated a huge amount of economic activity, from ticket sales, hotel rooms and other assorted merchandise. 


If you thought that today’s American girls were disempowered and oppressed, they are flexing their wallets over Taylor Swift.


New York Times feminist Michelle Goldberg thrills to it all-- and especially to a world without men. She sees it as the triumph of the revolution. She comments on Swift's Eras tour:


Eras is set to become the highest-grossing musical tour in history, boosting the economy of the cities in which Swift alights. More than just a series of concerts, it’s become, like Barbie, a major cultural event, with fans also showing up in carefully curated outfits and then making TikToks of their ecstatic tears. 


As you doubtless know, Swift defines a girls’ world, a world where men are an unnecessary encumbrance. This means that I, for one, do not belong to the demographic that tunes in to Taylor Swift. She represents a woman who does not need men to define her. She is independent, autonomous, authentic and rich. As best I can tell, her music is undistinguished. Bob Dylan she is not.


It's more about what she is than about what she does. By the terms of feminist ideology, she is what women would become if they had not been trying to please men, and if they had not been not been defining themselves in relation to men. 


Swifties are not mooning over men in the high school corridors. They are not worrying about getting a date for the prom. They do not need men, except for the occasional hookup. 


Taylor Swift is a human icon, an idol, supremely wealthy and manifestly cool. The only problem is that she is most often alone. That is, she is unattached, lacking in male companionship.


True enough, she has often been linked to various men, most of whom never stayed around for very long. She has been writing music about her breakups, about rejecting or being rejected. It is almost her signature. Girls love these songs, because if you are a budding feminist, being alone and unattached is very likely going to be your destiny.


Fair enough, if a 33 year-old Taylor Swift wants to hook up, more than a few young men will volunteer for duty. Then again, we ought all to know that it is no great challenge to find a man who is willing to hook up with a comely young lass. Developing a relationship, getting married, having a stable home life-- when young men think in those terms they do not think of Taylor Swift.


Whereas Michelle Goldberg continues to denounce the patriarchy and foment the revolution, nothing really spells female empowerment than the Taylor Swift phenomenon. 


But, Swift also spells the failure of boys and girls to get along, to develop relationships, to settle down. Feminism has won, you might say, and Taylor Swift is the face of victorious feminism. 


We can say the same of Greta Gerwig’s enormously successful film about Barbie. 


One suspects that in the feminist mind, Taylor Swift cannot sustain a relationship with a boy or even a man because the patriarchy thinks ill of her independent autonomous spirit.


And yet, we live in a world where women are increasingly empowered. More and more television shows have turned into feminist fairy tales. You need but look through the Netflix catalog. To choose a show at random, check out the new British detective show, Karen Pirie. 


It is no longer possible to find a show that does not promote feminist ideology-- strong women, women in charge, women committing crimes, women underestimated by men, women solving problems. In nearly all of these shows the strong empowered female characters are also irresistible to men, regardless of their age or their appearance. If feminists told young women that the cost of joining the vanguard of the revolution is loneliness, they would have a more difficult time selling their ideology.


The age of the strong male lead seems to have ended. One does not want to make too much of it, but J. Robert Oppenheimer counts as a male lead whose work does not involve women. Whatever he did in his private life, Oppenheimer did not recruit females for the Manhattan Project.


Naturally, as a new age of female empowerment dawns, the Michelle Goldberg’s are still suffering from chronic discontent. They are awaiting the Revolution, mindlessly, one must say, since the twentieth century-- it was not too long ago-- saw a sustained effort to translate leftist ideology into governance and political economy. The result was one of the most colossal failures in human history. Communism only excelled in producing mass starvation.


For all its talk about political economy feminism seems more dedicated to producing a world where men will not want to marry women who might be good wives, but where they will want to marry women like Taylor Swift.


As of now, the net consequence of the feminist rebellion against traditional marital customs has been far too many broken and fatherless homes.


Women have learned to seek independence and autonomy, but they will especially fulfill a longstanding feminist wish, articulated by none other than Friedrich Engels, in his book The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State.


The Engels goal is a woman who has her own fortune, who does not depend on a man financially and thus who will be loved for herself alone. In reality, men are often happy to hook up with such women-- the hook-up culture is an unfortunate excrescence of feminist agitation. Very few men will turn down free love.


But, very few men are looking to marry a human idol, a woman who has become the role model for independence and autonomy, who does not need a man for much of anything beyond the occasional hookup. To the male mind, a woman who does not need a man to protect and provide for her is not wife material.


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Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Wednesday Potpourri

First, leading the march toward incoherent thinking, we have the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU opposes using Lupron to castrate sex offenders chemically, but supports using the drug on underage children who have been brainwashed into thinking that the drug will change their sex. Evidently, the ACLU is no longer a serious organization... but you knew that.

Second, in the world of what is dishonestly called gender-affirming surgery, things are not going well. 


The Daily Mail explains:


One of the first studies into the side effects of transgender surgeries has revealed alarmingly high rates of post-op pain, aching during intercourse, and bladder problems, raising troubling questions for this new frontier of medicine.  


A huge majority - 81 percent - of those who had surgery on their genitals in the past five years said they endured pain simply from moving around in the weeks and months after going under the knife.


Researchers from the University of Florida and Brooks Rehabilitation, a health non-profit, showed that more than half of trans surgery patients endured pain during sex, and nearly a third could not control their bladders.


Of course, you knew all this already. And yet, how long will it take before our news media and politicians stop calling it gender affirming care. Surely, it is a big lie.


Fourth, in the matter of J. Robert Oppenheimer. First, I will qualify that I have not seen the new movie. Since everyone likes it, I assume that it is worth seeing. 


As for Oppenheimer’s importance, we note that the order to establish the Manhattan Project was given by Franklin Roosevelt. And the order to drop the bombs on Japan was given by Harry Truman. Credit to JRO for leading the team that produced the bomb, but he did not bear the ultimate responsibility.


When Oppenheimer met with President Truman, the latter offered this reaction. After calling the great physicist a “cry baby scientist” Truman responded to JRO’s plaints by saying that it was… “no time for pretentious melodramatic Indian mysticism.”  


Oppenheimer said: “I have blood on my hands.” Truman told Secretary of State Dean Acheson-- “Never bring that fucking cretin in here again. He didn’t drop the bomb. I did. That kind of weepiness makes me sick.”


Another era, another species of American president. 


Fifth, the migrant riots in France seem to have calmed down. Yet, French citizens have drawn the correct conclusion.  


Polls show that three-quarters of French men and women believe that those with dual nationality who participated in the riotous insurrection should be stripped of their citizenship.


At the least….


Sixth, meanwhile in Germany, the Angela Merkel open borders policy has produced some unintended consequences. Take public swimming pools.


During the heatwave, migrants have gravitated to those facilities. They have provoked violent confrontations and sexual assaults. 


Migrants precipitated a mass brawl in June in Mannheim. A group in Karlsruhe attacked a pool attendant and put him in the hospital.


For some reason, the American press has ignored the story.


Seventh, this happens so often that it has become banal. Many members of the American women’s soccer team failed to sing the national anthem at the ceremony before their match with Vietnam. 


What does it mean?

 

Megan Kelly explained:


I really do believe their version of what a feminist is, what it means to be an empowered woman, at least as an American woman, means you need to hate your country. It means to go out on the national stage and embarrass yourself and your country by not singing the national anthem. 


Eighth, a woman from Houston, named Fan-Pei Koung, usually works as an influencer, whatever that is. Now, however she has cast herself as an “emotional support stripper” for the Ukrainian military.


The New York Post has the story:


The 33-year-old bombshell, whose content includes videos of stripteases as air raids sirens blare and shirtless photos with rocket launchers, does everything from “free emotional breastfeeding to soldiers and volunteers” to distributing cash donations to Ukrainians and volunteers, according to her OnlyFans profile, which states proceeds go toward her humanitarian efforts. 


“I’m the sexy girl in Ukraine who wants to volunteer, and will probably put out,” she told The Daily Beast.


Also, from Ukraine, the New York Times just reported that Ukraine is undergoing an epidemic of divorce. You see, forcing able-bodied males to stay in the country while shipping women and children out of the country produced involuntary separations. The result, women, in particular found new lovers in their new home countries, or some such.


Think of it this way: if they find new lovers, even new husbands, they do not have to go back to Ukraine.


The Times reported:


The number of marriages ending in Ukraine this past year was twice or even three times higher than before the war, according to the estimations of Ukrainian mental health professionals, divorce lawyers, dating gurus, court clerks and judges. The experts claim that what’s driving Ukraine’s divorce rate, which has always been high compared with that of other countries, is not so much war-related stress, though there’s plenty of that, but the enormous scale of separation.


 Much of your country is being turned to rubble. Your wife just ran off with a Finn. So, an emotional support stripper is the consolation prize.


Ninth, on the Joe Biden dementia watch, yesterday our president made this claim:


I said I'd cure cancer they looked at me like, why cancer? Because we can. We ended cancer as we know it.


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Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Burn some Witches; Save the Planet

It seems like it was only yesterday, but, in truth, it was the day before yesterday.


In my Sunday post, entitled, “Climate Apocalypse Now” I took serious issue with New Yorker author, Jia Tolentino. Normally sane and sober, Tolentino shared with us her nervous breakdown over climate change. The end is nigh, she suggested, doom is fast approaching, and she, miserable sinner that she is, is doing nothing to forestall the pending doom. She might even be contributing to it. Horror of horrors.


In the course of her mental perambulations Tolentino quoted a Washington based therapist, by name of Leslie Davenport, a woman who had an epiphany one day wherein she learned that human beings were causing the climate catastrophe, and that we could solve it by offering something like therapy for said reprobate humans.


So, imagine how interested I was to discover, via a reading of a chapter from a new book by Brendan O’Neill, that this theory was not new. It was, as they say, old hat. It dated at least to an Ice Age that descended on Europe during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. When good Europeans did not know what had produced the horrific wave of cold weather, they too decided, like Davenport, that human beings had caused it. Only they, the people of Europe, led by their clergy, called those responsible, witches.


So, witch hunts, witch trials, persecution of (mostly) women, one of the most appalling incidents of Western misogyny-- and now today’s liberated women, today’s climate change hysterics, today’s climate therapists, have taken us back to the times when people persecuted those who did not believe the right beliefs. That is, who denied that witches had caused the little Ice Age. One is tempted to trot out a statement-- by George Santayana-- that has become something of a cliche-- those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. 


The least we can say is that the leaders of today’s intellectual debate and discussion are impervious to fact, are ignorant of history, and are very easily manipulated.


O’Neill explains the historical background:


The women of North Berwick can be seen as among the earliest victims of climate-change hysteria, of that urge to pin the blame for anomalous weather on wicked human beings. And they weren’t alone. In Europe between the 1500s and 1700s, climate change was often the charge made against witches. In his 1584 book, The Discoverie of Witchcraft, Reginald Scot, an English MP and author, outlined the common view of witches as climate changers. Many believe witches can ‘raise haile, tempests, and hurtfull weather’, he said, as well as being able to ‘inhibit the sunne, and staie both daye and night, changing the one into the other’. Scot was a witch-sceptic. He called for calm during witch-hunts. His view was that weather was a natural, or heavenly, phenomenon, not the plaything of allegedly evil people. ‘[It] is neither a witch, nor a devil, but glorious God that maketh the thunder’, he wrote. ‘God maketh the blustering tempests and whirlwinds’ as well, he continued. But his plea for reason fell on deaf ears. Too many people were far more enamoured of the view, soon to be promoted by James VI, no less, that a witch could ‘rayse stormes and tempestes in the aire’ (1).


For the record, the Little Ice Age overlapped the arrival of the bubonic plague, which dated to the mid fourteenth century. Clearly, the plague elicited persecution, and not just of witches.


Also, the greatest book about witchcraft, the inquisitor’s manual about witchcraft, the Malleus Maleficarum, written by a couple of Dominican monks, published in 1497, emphasized the way that witches caused sexual dysfunction and how they compromised what it called the generative purpose of the sex act. One might, and some people surely have, connected this book to Freudian theory.


Back to the witch hunts and their connection to climate change hysteria, consider this, from O’Neill:


Witch-hunts in mid-millennial Europe were inextricably linked with concerns over climate change. This was the era of the Little Ice Age, the period that roughly spanned from 1300 to 1850 during which the Northern Hemisphere experienced exceptionally cold winters. The impact of the Little Ice Age was devastating. The frigid weather violently disrupted harvests in Europe, especially the grain harvest. Following particularly cold periods in the 1500s, it took 180 years for grain harvests to return to their previous levels.


How many witch trials were there?


It is no coincidence that around 110,000 witch trials took place in Europe during those most climatically unstable of centuries, with around half of those trials ending in conviction and execution. As the cold, starving peoples of northern Europe knew from the Bible, ‘Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live’, especially a witch with such power that she can conjure storms in which ‘sea and sky became one’.


Today, we no  longer use terms like witch. As O’Neill says, we speak of “climate criminals.”


As I have often remarked, and as others have also noted, climate change hysteria involves a religious experience. It has nothing to do with science. It rejects skepticism and declares that the science is settled. And yet, as everyone knows, science is never settled. Settled science is dogma.


The issue has been moralized and placed within a guilt/punishment narrative. Bad weather has been caused by the Industrial Revolution. It is our just punishment. We must do penance, by shutting down the electrical grid, discarding our gas stoves and turning off the air conditioners. We must return to the state of nature as soon as possible.


Mark Lynas has also described weather anomalies as god-like chastisements of industrious mankind. He said of floods that Poseidon is clearly ‘angered by arrogant affronts from mere mortals like us’: ‘We have woken him from a thousand-year slumber and this time his wrath will know no bounds.’ 


Scary stuff. Time to go out and round up a few witches, because that will surely solve the problem. If you ask what is so thoroughly agitating Jia Tolentino, you might say that she has lost her mind over the thought that she might just be one of the witches who is contributing to the pending climate apocalypse. 


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