Sunday, May 31, 2015

The utter madness of a Western civilization in its death throes

Case study number gazzilion and thirty-seven why I instinctively assume that any organization with the term "human rights" in its name is up to no good:

 . . . the elected representatives of the good people in British Columbia have apparently heard the plaintive cries of the oppressed and are set to consider removing gender classifications from birth certificates. 
The Human Rights Tribunal in British Columbia will consider completely eliminating gender designations from birth certificates in response to complaints from the Trans Alliance Society (TAS) and other transgender individuals, according to an article in the National Post. 
According to the complainants, we need to stop acting as if doctors can tell the sex of a baby just by looking at the baby’s genitals: 
Birth certificates [may] give false information about people and characterize them in a way that is actually wrong, that assumes to be right, and causes people . . . actual harm,” said transgender woman and TAS chair Morgane Oger.
According to attorney barbara findlay (who insists we not use capital letters in her name) the antiquated and unfair practice of nosy government busybodies assigning gender on a government document when you’re only a baby is wrong because:
1. Those are not the only two genders, and
2. A person’s “gender develops” over time.

This Findlay person (yeah, Barbara, I am capitalizing the first letters of your name) expects to be taken seriously as a grown-up human being.

How many will oblige her?

We gave him the know-how, and now he's a jihadist

It's guys like Colonel Gulmurod Khalimov, who has received Russian and American special-forces training, guys with detailed knowledge of not only elite military tactics but Western ways of thinking and their attendant vulnerabilities, who make for one of jihad's most formidable weapons:

He disappeared in April after he “told his wife he was going on a business trip,” but he appeared on Wednesday in an ISIS video, vowing to bring jihad and “slaughter” to the caliphate’s adversaries.
It’s not clear where the video was recorded, although the BBC theorizes it might have been shot at a Syrian camp. Khalimov, sporting a black turban and cradling a sniper rifle, is flanked by several other Islamic State fighters.
“Listen, you dogs, the president and ministers, if only you knew how many boys, our brothers are here, waiting and yearning to return to Tajikistan to re-establish sharia law there,” Khalimov snarled in Russian at his own country’s government in the video, accusing them of becoming “the slaves of infidels.”
“We are coming to you with slaughter, inshallah, we are coming to you with slaughter,” he promised, using the Islamic phrase for “as God wills.” Jihad Watch notes, as few mainstream media outlets appear willing to do, that Khalimov is paraphrasing Mohammed’s address to his enemies, the Quraysh, as recorded in Islamic texts.
His threat to the United States was an original composition, however. “Listen, you American pigs, I’ve been three times to America, and I saw how you train fighters to kill Muslims,” Khalimov said, brandishing his rifle. “God willing, I will come with this weapon to your cities, your homes, and we will kill you.”
The UK Telegraph notes Khalimov is considered an expert marksman, “and at the end of the 12-minute video he shows off his skills by shooting a tomato.”
Khalimov’s defection will put a disturbing amount of top-shelf Russian and American military training at the disposal of ISIS, along with useful intelligence gathered during the former security chief’s years of working with NATO. It is a troubling sign of the Islamic State’s expanding reach through Afghanistan into neighboring Central Asian states like Tajikistan.

You could call him a trend-setter, but the trend has already been underway for some time.  Some 4,000 such guys from Central Asia have already joined ISIS.

800 years old next month

That gem of clarity and principle, Daniel Hannan, the UK's Conservative representative in the European Parliament, has written an important and beautifully crafted reflection on the signing of the Magna Carta by King John at Runnymede on June 15, 1215.

I hesitate to chop excerpts from it and comment on them, thereby breaking up his continuity.  So let me say at the outset that you really owe it to yourself to read it in its entirety.

He makes some points, though, that do indeed merit emphasizing.  The most basic of these is that the Magna Carta established the premise that the entire matter of human beings engaging in the activity of crafting law is properly undertaken to maximize human liberty.

Hannan covers the historical differences in the significance Brits and Americans have recognized the document as having.

The meadow where the abominable King John put his royal seal to the parchment lies in my electoral district in the county of Surrey. It went unmarked until 1957, when a memorial stone was finally raised there—by the American Bar Association. 
Only now, for the anniversary, is a British monument being erected at the place where freedom was born. After some frantic fundraising by me and a handful of local councilors, a large bronze statue of Queen Elizabeth II will gaze out across the slow, green waters of the Thames, marking 800 years of the Crown’s acceptance of the rule of law. 
Eight hundred years is a long wait. We British have, by any measure, been slow to recognize what we have. Americans, by contrast, have always been keenly aware of the document, referring to it respectfully as the Magna Carta.
Why? Largely because of who the first Americans were. Magna Carta was reissued several times throughout the 14th and 15th centuries, as successive Parliaments asserted their prerogatives, but it receded from public consciousness under the Tudors, whose dynasty ended with the death of Elizabeth I in 1603.
In the early 17th century, members of Parliament revived Magna Carta as a weapon in their quarrels with the autocratic Stuart monarchs. Opposition to the Crown was led by the brilliant lawyer Edward Coke (pronounced Cook), who drafted the first Virginia Charter in 1606. Coke’s argument was that the king was sidelining Parliament, and so unbalancing the “ancient constitution” of which Magna Carta was the supreme expression.
The early settlers arrived while these rows were at their height and carried the mania for Magna Carta to their new homes. As early as 1637, Maryland sought permission to incorporate Magna Carta into its basic law, and the first edition of the Great Charter was published on American soil in 1687 by William Penn, who explained that it was what made Englishmen unique: “In France, and other nations, the mere will of the Prince is Law, his word takes off any man’s head, imposeth taxes, or seizes any man’s estate, when, how and as often as he lists; But in England, each man hath a fixed Fundamental Right born with him, as to freedom of his person and property in his estate, which he cannot be deprived of, but either by his consent, or some crime, for which the law has imposed such a penalty or forfeiture.”
There was a divergence between English and American conceptions of Magna Carta. In the Old World, it was thought of, above all, as a guarantor of parliamentary supremacy; in the New World, it was already coming to be seen as something that stood above both Crown and Parliament. This difference was to have vast consequences in the 1770s. 

Hannan maintains that what those fighting for American independence were actually doing was asserting their British-ness in the deepest sense of that concept.  They saw George III as a deviation from that.

And then he sheds important light on what we who love freedom mean by the exceptionalism of our tradition.  He also makes clear the need, ever with us, to defend that freedom:

I recount these facts to make an important, if unfashionable, point. The rights we now take for granted—freedom of speech, religion, assembly and so on—are not the natural condition of an advanced society. They were developed overwhelmingly in the language in which you are reading these words.
When we call them universal rights, we are being polite. Suppose World War II or the Cold War had ended differently: There would have been nothing universal about them then. If they are universal rights today, it is because of a series of military victories by the English-speaking peoples.
He also notes that foremost among actual rights is the right to keep what is yours, and do with it as you wish:

The idea of the law coming up from the people, rather than down from the government, is a peculiar feature of the Anglosphere. Common law is an anomaly, a beautiful, miraculous anomaly. In the rest of the world, laws are written down from first principles and then applied to specific disputes, but the common law grows like a coral, case by case, each judgment serving as the starting point for the next dispute. In consequence, it is an ally of freedom rather than an instrument of state control. It implicitly assumes residual rights.
And indeed, Magna Carta conceives rights in negative terms, as guarantees against state coercion. No one can put you in prison or seize your property or mistreat you other than by due process. This essentially negative conception of freedom is worth clinging to in an age that likes to redefine rights as entitlements—the right to affordable health care, the right to be forgotten and so on.
It is worth stressing, too, that Magna Carta conceived freedom and property as two expressions of the same principle. The whole document can be read as a lengthy promise that the goods of a free citizen will not be arbitrarily confiscated by someone higher up the social scale. Even the clauses that seem most remote from modern experience generally turn out, in reality, to be about security of ownership.

Well, I have indeed proceeded to carve it up and remark upon what I've carved.

Don't let this trailer-style presentation of it suffice, though.  You'll see the essay taken as a whole  as a labor of love - love not just for an inestimably valuable document, but for the one condition essential to human well-being: freedom.

Detroit starts shutting off water again

This is so ridiculous.

To repeat, the very first law of economics, no matter what school of that social science you adhere to, is that the money has to come from somewhere.

It seems that in six short months the city of Detroit has once again lost sight of this basic truth.

The City of Detroit began shutting off water access to residents behind on payments Tuesday, with thousands at risk of losing access.
According to the Detroit Free Press, 64,769 delinquent residential customers owe the city’s water department a combined $48.9 million.
That figure tops the estimated 41,000 individuals who Food and Water Watch (FWW), an advocacy group, says lacked any water as of January (there is likely overlap between the groups).
The city started sending out shut-off warnings May 11. According to theFree Press, Mayor Mike Duggan is proceeding with the shutoff orders over the wishes of city council members, who voted on May 12 to freeze the shutoff until an assistance plan to help affected residents was enacted.
FWW’s Lynna Kaucheck says Duggan tried implementing one last year that gave discounts to qualified residents, but that program proved too expensive for most residents.

Well, then, they don't get any water.

Oh, you right-wingers, will come the rejoinder, always making it seem like everyone in always in charge of his or her destiny, and that forces beyond an individual's control never enter into the picture. 

That's right, and we stand by our case.  Look, does anybody want to place a bet on how many of those having water-bill problems have voted Democrat whenever they've bothered to vote?  How many come from broken families?  What is the highest educational level in any of these households? How closely has violent crime impacted the person ostensibly responsible for paying the water bill?  In how many of these households will one find dope present?

The city council is looking at a plan that would "tier pricing to people's ability to pay."  Ain't that nice?

Here's the problem:

 . . . it would cause water prices for other users to increase.
Bingo.  You're back to that basic tool for imposing tyranny that the Freedom-Hater party relies on everywhere and always: redistribution.

The money has to come from somewhere.

And this deepens the richness of the whole scenario exquisitely. Guess which other hellhole of murder and economic stagnation is up against a similar problem?

Detroit residents are not the only ones facing water shut-offs: In March, Baltimore residents began receiving turn-off notices; according to the Baltimore Sun, 25,000 water customers are delinquent.
This is what we get when an insufficient number of citizens have lost all clarity about what is and is not a right.  Water is not a human right.  The opportunity to obtain water is a right.

At least this is true for human beings.  It seems it works a bit differently for creatures with all the physical attributes of human beings, but whose minds have been degraded by the statist overlords to the level of functioning like cattle.

The line for the pen forms over here.  Look for the bucket of water.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The relentless march of the post-American jackboots

The EPA is one of the Freedom-Hater regime's chief instruments for turning what was once the United States of America into North Korea.

Its latest move ought to chill your bones:

Now it is extending federal control over just about any creek, pond, prairie pothole or muddy farm field that EPA says has a “significant nexus” to a navigable waterway. 
The agency defines waters as “significant” if they are “located in whole or in part within 100 feet of the ordinary high water mark,” or, alternatively, within the 100-year floodplain and 1,500 feet of the high water mark of waters already under the government’s jurisdiction. That’s already a lot of water, but there’s more. 
The EPA acknowledges that the “science available today does not establish that waters beyond those defined as ‘adjacent’” to these “significant” waters should be regulated. But forget science. The agency says its “experience and expertise” show there are “many” other waters that could have a significant downstream effect. Thus the EPA establishes an additional standard for significance that covers just about anything that’s wet.

This whole situation brings into sharp relief the peril that swing-vote SCOTUS justices pose to post-America:

The sad irony is that the EPA is exploiting an opening created by a Supreme Court case that overturned a federal regulatory abuse. In its 4-1-4 split ruling in Rapanos v. U.S. in 2006, the Army Corps of Engineers had sought to throw a Michigan landowner in prison because he didn’t obtain permits to move dirt on a sometimes-saturated piece of land, which was connected to a drain, which ran into a shallow creek, which flowed into the Kawkawlin River, which emptied into Saginaw Bay and Lake Huron.
In a sharp rebuke, Justice Antonin Scalia, joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito,explained that “waters of the United States” could not possibly apply to the man’s land that was 11 to 20 miles away from the nearest “navigable” waterway. 
The waggish Justice Scalia noted that the Corps’s expansive reading of “waters of the United States” could extend to “the entire land area of the United States,” which “lies in some drainage basin, and an endless network of visible channels furrows the entire surface, containing water ephemerally wherever the rain falls.” He shouldn’t have suggested the idea. 
Loath to set a limiting principle, Justice Anthony Kennedy argued that federal agencies could regulate wetlands on a “case-by-case basis” with a “significant nexus” to navigable waterways. That is, wetlands which “either alone or in combination with similarly situated lands in the region, significantly affect the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of other covered waters more readily understood as ‘navigable.’”
Justice Kennedy’s muddled opinion deprived lower courts and property owners of clarity to navigate the Clean Water Act, but it gave the EPA an opening as wide as the Mississippi to regulate. The EPA notes that under “current regulations and practice following these recent decisions, almost all waters and wetlands across the country theoretically could be subject to a case-specific jurisdictional determination.” 
As Justice Scalia predicted, Justice Kennedy’s opinion tipped “a wink at the agency, inviting it to try its same expansive reading again.” And so EPA has, though now with Justice Kennedy’s opinion as legal cover. This will make it harder for property owners to challenge the government in court. 

Looks like the only possible recourse is going to be legislation that puts the kibosh on this tyranny.

Do we have a Congress with the stones to rise to the task?

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Today I met a great man

When I was a smart-ass young countercultural type, inclined toward a vaguely Eastern all-is-one model of spirituality (and eschewing the Judeo-Christian model of individual accountability before a sovereign Lord), I was always on the lookout for "enlightened beings."  Not just relatively serene and content types, but the embodiment of ultimate cosmic understanding.

Of course, I've abandoned such a preoccupation, but in its place, my radar is now attuned to examples of human beings exuding character and wisdom born of humility.  I met one such person today in the most unlikely of settings: a dynamometer factory.

One of my long-standing gigs as a freelance writer is the cover story and other local feature article for each issue of a quarterly business magazine.  My current assignment is a profile of a dynamometer company in our area.  Today I went there to interview the CEO and take a plant tour.

It's about as technical an environment as you'll find.   There is a machine shop, where the faces of castings get smoothed off to stringent specifications.  There's a paint booth.  Boring and milling equipment. Test cells to measure torque and speed.  An area where electronic controls are made.

My conversation with the owner, an unassuming fellow with an easy smile, followed the usual arc: his background, the circumstances of his buying the business, square footage of the facility, number of employees, customers, marketing efforts, quality standards applicable to his field.  I found him articulate and in possession of a wealth of knowledge.

It when I got to my two customary conclusion-of-interview questions - from what does he derived his greatest satisfaction, and what does he see as his greatest challenge - that I began to take his full measure as a good and great man.

Regarding satisfaction, he said that it was being able to assure customers of a solution to their problems.  He said that for all the arcane details of the dynamometer field, he considered himself to be in a people business. He then volunteered - in fact, strongly hinted that he'd like mentioned in my article - that he was a man of faith.  He stated plainly, following with a pause, that his faith was more important than his business, and that he tried to operate on principles derived from his faith.

Which led us into a conversation about the folly of thinking our species had all the answers.  He said that much of our current predicament as a society stemmed from an attempt to usurp the powers of the Divine.

His greatest challenge? Government regulations.  Environment, safety, health insurance, taxation.  "There was a time when government's relationship with business was more positive," he noted.  "Now I probably spend 25 percent of my time figuring out what regulations are coming down the pike and how to adapt to them while remaining profitable."

He flatly characterized the course of our nation as the path to socialism.  "Government is going to continue to impose policies that consolidate businesses into ever-larger bureaucratic entities that are easier to regulate.  Unless there is a sharp reversal soon, I fully anticipate that companies like this will no longer exist at some point."

This is a guy who grew up on a farm in Kentucky, studied business administration in college, and then embarked on a career in the dynamometer business.  The breadth and depth of his understanding of the relationship between the individual and the state - and between God and the human being - just comes from a particular set of experiences and accomplishments, not any kind of specialized immersion in philosophy, science or esoteric regimen.

If America has a chance at a future that's not grim and characterized by decline and meaninglessness, it's because of individuals like this man.

Giants among us aren't always before a camera.  Sometimes they're roaming the shop floor, quietly advancing the lot of our species in spite of the obstacles set forth by a fallen world.

About that Robert Pear column on the four words on which King v Burwell hinges

Okay, so the final version of the subsidies-for-state-exchanges-only provision of Freedom-Hater-care was an amalgam of the wording in two prior bills, known as the Finance bill and the HELP bill.

Pear, among others, tries to deflect attention from the wording in the HELP bill.  It's time to revisit that wording:

The NY Times piece by Robert Pear quotes several sources who argue the four words in question (“established by the state”) were a mistake, a drafting error that resulted from the imperfect combination of two previous bills. Pear quotes former Senator Olympia Snowe saying, “I don’t ever recall any distinction between federal and state exchanges in terms of the availability of subsidies.” Snowe goes on to say, “Why would we have wanted to deny people subsidies? It was not their fault if their state did not set up an exchange.”
As the article states, Senator Snowe was one of the authors of the Finance bill, one of the two that were combined to create the bill that would become the ACA. So if the Finance bill had no such element restricting subsidies, what about the other bill? Did the so-called HELP bill envision any distinction between federal and state exchanges in terms of subsidies?
According to the NY Times, “Both bills called for insurance exchanges and provided subsidies to lower-income people, but the health committee measure clearly allowed subsidies in all states.” And just like that, Robert Pear has skipped over a rather significant fact about the HELP bill that is relevant to the discussion.
As Breitbart News outlined nearly a year ago, the language of the HELP bill explicitly restricted subsidies to states which had become “participating states” for up to four years. Eventually, if the state refused to set up an exchange, the federal government would step in, but for the first four years “the residents of that state will not be eligible for premium credits, an expanded Medicaid match, or small business credits.”
This seems to directly contradict the sense of Senator Snowe’s statement that no such distinction was ever envisioned. Perhaps Snowe’s comments were limited to the Finance committee bill, but if so, why didn’t the author of the NY Times‘ article mention that such a distinction was made in the competing bill? (Breitbart News contacted Robert Pear Tuesday afternoon with a question about the omission. Pear did not respond in time to be included in this article.)

In fact, the Finance bill doesn't say what Pear thinks it says, either:

Jonathan Adler, one of the architects of the lawsuit now before the Supreme Court, made this point in his response to the Times‘ piece:
As Pear recounts, there was language in the HELP bill clearly authorizing subsidies in federal exchanges, but no such language in the Finance Committee bill.  What Pear fails to mention is that the HELP bill also expressly withheld subsidies in states that failed to adopt specified reforms. The staff members Pear interviewed may insist there was never any discussion of withholding subsidies, it is beyond dispute that this is precisely what the HELP bill did.
Adler concludes, “anyone who claims that the Senate never considered withholding subsidies in recalcitrant states is either a) dishonest, or b) doesn’t know what they’re talking about.”
There are some sharp minds on the SCOTUS bench.  It's a good bet that they're aware of this.


Another meaningless deadline in the patty-cake with Iran

We've heard this song before:

An Iran nuclear deal is not likely by June 30 because technical details will remain to defined and Iran will not get sanctions relief before the end of the year in the best of cases, western ambassadors said on Tuesday.
Six major powers are seeking to negotiate an agreement under which Iran would limit its nuclear program in exchange for the easing of economic sanctions that have crippled its economy.
Envoys to Washington from Britain, France and Germany, three of the P5+1 group that also includes China, Russia and the United States, sketched out their expectations for the end game as a self-imposed June 30 deadline approaches.
"It’s very likely that we won’t have an agreement before the end of June or even (right) after," French ambassador Gerard Araud said in an appearance at the Atlantic Council think tank.
The Iranians want to force the six powers' ministers to decide the issues, rather than lower-level officials, Araud said, saying he expected some melodrama toward the end with late nights and doors slammed as both sides jockey for a deal.
"Even if we get the best deal ... afterwards, you will have to translate it into the technical annexes, so it may be ... we could have a sort of fuzzy end to the negotiation," he said.
Speaking after the event, Araud said it could take a few weeks of July to complete the technical annexes envisaged under an agreement, if one can be reached.
Memo to the P5+1: Give it up and defend Western civilization instead.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

They smell weakness - today's edition

Our chief adversary and our number-one enemy have sealed a deal that ratchets up the peril level to us considerably:

Moscow and Tehran have concluded negotiations on the delivery of the Russia's long-range S-300 surface-to-air missile system to Iran, which should take place "within a short period," said Iranian Deputy Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian, on a visit in Moscow on Monday. 

And we're going to let Iran build the nukes to put on them.

Monday, May 25, 2015

E.J. Dionne tries to guilt-trip conservatives for their fealty to absolutes

Spoken like a true Beltway pointy-head.  The WaPo columnist starts from the particular, discussing Scott Walker's mover from suggestions that he was cool with illegal-alien amnesty to a more the-law-is-the-law position, and moves to a conclusion about the Pub electorate:

The shortage of philosophical adventure and the eagerness of GOP hopefuls to alter their positions to make them more conservative have the same cause: a Republican primary electorate that has moved so far right that it brooks no deviation. What makes it even harder for the candidates to break new ground is that the imperatives of orthodoxy are constraining even the thinkers who are trying to create a “reform conservatism.”
Ah, yes.  "Philosophical adventure."  That's just what a world descending into relativism-caused chaos needs.

And it should come as no surprise that he has a fondness for "reform conservatism."

Where, for example, is the candidate willing to acknowledge that, like it or not, there’s no way that anywhere close to all Americans will be able to get health insurance unless government plays a very large role? Where is the Republican who will admit that if the party had its way on further tax cuts, many programs Americans like would fall by the wayside?
The reform conservatives were supposed to remedy this shortcoming, and they have issued some detailed proposals. But their efforts remain largely reactive. Last week, Yuval Levin, the intellectual leader of the movement, joined a symposium in Reason, the sprightly libertarian magazine, to reassure others on the right that reform conservatives are — honest and true! — no less committed than they are to “limited government,” to rolling back “the liberal welfare state ” and to reducing government’s “size and scope.”
It’s not surprising that Levin’s fervently anti-statist Reason interlocutors were not fully persuaded. What’s disappointing to those outside conservatism’s ranks is that the reformicons are so often defensive. 
With occasional exceptions, they have been far more interested in proving their faithfulness to today’s hard-line right than in declaring, as conservatives  in so many other democracies have been willing to do, that sprawling market economies need a rather large dose of government. Conservatives, Levin says, are “eager to build on the longstanding institutions of our society to improve things.” Good idea. But somehow, the successes of decades-old governmental institutions in areas such as retirement security, health-care provision and environmental protection are rarely acknowledged.
Some successes.  "Retirement security," gummint style, is going to go broke in about a decade, and has a rate of return that would get any investment advisor canned by his clients.  "Health-care provision" is likewise awash in unfunded liabilities, the sheer interest on which is going to consume all the tax revenue the government takes in very shortly.  And "environmental protection" has proven to amount to the rankest kind of tyranny, as per the posts here on the EPA.

Robert Tracinski at The Federalist  has the number of this "reform conservatism" that E.J. would have us think he admires:

The key premise of this non-reforming “reform conservatism” is the idea that it’s impossible to really touch the welfare state. We might be able to alter its incentives and improve its clanking machinery, but only if we loudly assure everyone that we love it and want to keep it forever.
And there’s the problem. Not only is this defeatist at its core, abandoning the cause of small government at the outset, but it fails to address the most important problem facing the country.
“Reform conservatism” is an answer to the question: how can we promote the goal of freedom and small government—without posing any outright challenge to the welfare state? The answer: you can’t. All you can do is tinker around the edges of Leviathan. And ultimately, it won’t make much difference, because it will all be overwelmed in the coming disaster.

We're not taking the bait, Mr. Dionne.  If there were three of us left in post-America who did not think government should mitigate such conditions of human life as sickness and old age, the principle that it shouldn't would be no less immutable.

The ridiculous and poisonous extent to which identity politics has metastasized

Naomi Schaefer Riley at the NY Post understands that you don't let an article like that by Lisa Miller in New York Magazine go unremarked upon.

Miller thinks it's quite intriguing and groundbreaking that a hoity-toity private school called the Fieldston Lower School is taking the goofy-ass concept of the "affinity group" to the next level and clustering the student body according to demographics.  In short, segregating the blacks, Hispanics, "Asians," whites, Jews and so forth from each other for much of their classroom experience and impressing upon them the "importance" of pondering their racial or ethnic identities.

It's enough to make you hurl.  Miller just has to bring in all the fabricated racial premises for the recent round of urban unrest:

It was not lost on anyone that this program was being rolled out against a national backdrop of explosive racial drama — or that, both within Fieldston and without, the central racial story is still white and black. Mariama Richards, the director of progressive and multicultural education at all Fieldston schools and the lead architect of the program, is herself black — an “equity practitioner,” her Twitter bio says, in public and private schools. In 2013, she had been wooed away from Georgetown Day, where she had done similar work for nearly a decade. The following summer, she and colleagues had developed what has come to be known as the affinity-group program while the people of Ferguson, Missouri, were raging over the shooting, by a white police officer, of an unarmed black man named Michael Brown. So when parents say the new race program has an activist agenda, they are entirely right. In January, after a grand jury failed to indict the police officer responsible for the choking death of Eric Garner in Staten Island, more than a hundred members of the Fieldston faculty signed a letter expressing solidarity with #blacklivesmatter: “This is an occasion when, as citizens and as educators, remaining silent is not a viable option.”
And then it gets ludicrous.  Jewish, Hispanic and "Asian" kids feeling like blacks are hogging all the attention:

“It’s so fricking boring,” said a fifth-grader in the Asian group. “We do the same thing every week. The conversations we have are mostly about the tensions between whites and blacks, and never about Asians or Hispanic people. It annoys me sometimes that people are like, ‘Oh my God, people are so segregated.’ But we are never mentioned. It’s just frustrating, I would say.”
And there are quotes from teachers and administrators about "authentic voices" and "privilege" and the rest of the jargon the jackboots insist that we pollute our skulls with.

And plenty of coverage of similar undertakings at other schools around the country.

You ought to read the whole thing, but be forewarned that you might blow chunks before you finish it.

Anyway, back to Riley's takedown of it:

At least some of the parents at the school are thrilled with this program and seem to feel it will help prepare their students for life after Fieldston.
One mother describes the sense of exhaustion and frustration she felt being a black student at Exeter coming from the Bronx.
When she saw all the white people, she asked her mother if she could come home. What really “broke” her, she says, was a class called “Black Experience in White America,” in which she was consistently asked to explain black perspective to her white classmates.
She thinks an “affinity group” will help prepare her daughter for this experience.
Perhaps. But this is not a problem that happened in math class or English lit. The demands that a black student represent his or her race in class comes from courses that focus on race and teachers who think a teenager’s personal experience is worthy of academic study.
Like so much of education from kindergarten all the way through a doctorate these days, the affinity groups are really just another way to encourage narcissism.
Because what matters most for the future of this country — for justice, for equality, for racial harmony — is how you feel.

Exactly.  And a society of self-absorbed dweebs puking all over themselves is ripe for conquest by jihaidsts.  Don't think that's going unnoticed.

The EPA should be dismantled yet this morning - today's edition

Remember my post from a few days ago about EPA chief Gina McCarthy telling a Senate committee of overwhelmingly favorable response to new drinking-water regs, and how it was found that the agency had ginned that support up, thereby flouting nearly three decades' worth of DoJ legal opinions determining that such grass-roots lobbying was partisan lobbying?

Well, it's at it again, on the mining-permit front:

Government agencies have a certain descending order of excuses they employ as a scandal grows. When they reach the point of quibbling over semantics and blaming low-level employees, it’s clear they know they’ve got a problem.
The EPA has a problem: its pre-emptive veto of the Pebble Mine, a proposed project in southwest Alaska. The law says that Pebble gets to apply for permits, and the Army Corps of Engineers gets to give thumbs up or down. The EPA, a law unto itself, instead last year blocked the proposal before applications were even filed. The agency claims it got involved because of petitions from Native American tribes in 2010, and that its veto is based on “science”—a watershed assessment that purportedly shows the mine would cause environmental harm.
This column reported a week ago on EPA documents that tell a very different story. They reveal the existence of an internal EPA “options paper” that make clear the agency opposed the mine on ideological grounds and had already decided to veto it in the spring of 2010—well before it did any “science.” Emails showed an EPA biologist, Phil North, working in the same time frame with an outside green activist to gin up the petitions. It’s not much of a leap to suggest that the EPA encouraged the petitions so that it would have an excuse to intervene, run its science as cover, and block a project it already opposed.
None of this looks good, and in a nearby letter EPA Region 10 Administrator Dennis McLerran is already bringing up semantics. According to the EPA—and other environmental groups now picking up the same line—the agency didn’t “veto” the project, but simply put “restrictions” on it. Indeed. The “restrictions” are that Pebble can’t build its mine, or for that matter even a significantly smaller one. Veto, restrictions, it’s all the same thing. The EPA killed the project. 
In a conversation with me last week, Mr. McLerran also turned to the “underlings did it” excuse. Asked about the options paper that shows the EPA’s early determination to veto the mine, Mr. McLerran told me: “I have never seen that options paper. None of the key decision makers have seen that options paper. It came out in this disclosure process. It is a preliminary document, done by lower level staff.” 

Doesn't wash, Mr. McLerran:

 . . the list of EPA employees who make up the core group discussing the options paper are not a bunch of low-level chemists and permit writers. Most have real titles: Mike Bussell,then the director of the EPA’s Office of Water and Watersheds in Seattle; David Allnutt, then acting regional counsel; Linda Anderson-Carnahan, then acting associate director of environmental cleanup; Tami Fordham, then policy adviser. Mr. McLerran says no “key decision makers” saw the options paper. It must depend on what the definition of a key decision maker is. 
Several of those included in these email chains would go on to take active roles in performing the EPA’s “watershed assessment” of the mine project. Ms. Fordham is listed as a contributor, as is an EPA officer named Richard Parkin. Mr. North, deeply involved in both the options paper and in getting the tribes to file their petitions, is one of the report’s primary authors. Emails show he actively lobbied his co-authors and report contributors on the merits of a veto. Mr. McLerran says “key decision makers” decided to perform three years of “science” on Pebble. But it turns out those doing the science were those who had already decided to block the mine. 

An inspector general is set to look into this.

Is anybody else getting annoyed at the way the Left trots out the word "science" in conversation as some kind of tactical tool for asserting superiority and shutting down further discussion?

Science is nothing more than rigorous inquiry into whether natural phenomena can predictably produce quantifiable results.  It's not fraught with nobility, like "justice" would be in a sane world.  It's an approach to the world we live in, not a set of conclusion.

The EPA has no redeeming value.  It exists for no other reason than to impose totalitarianism.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Why we call them jackboots - today's edition

ESPN commentator Will Cain was a guest on Bill Maher's TV show and Maher attempted to bully him about "climate change." Cain held his own quite well:

‘Isn’t lying about blowjobs,’ Bill Maher asked, ‘way less important than lying about the things Republicans lie about? Like global warming isn’t real? Do you think Ted Cruz—who has degrees from Princeton and Harvard–do you really think he thinks global warming is a hoax, or does he know it’s true but he tells that to the rubes who vote for him? Because they believe it. Which is a worse lie?’

‘I genuinely like debating you,’ Cain responded, through audience applause. ‘One of your great failings is your inability to see the intellectual response in the global warming debate. The response which is: you can’t predict the future.’

Ah, that’s the good shit. The pure uncut. The Peruvian flake. Chop it up, Will.

‘Thousands and millions of variables dictating what the climate will be 100 years from now,’ Cain went on, ‘and you’re gonna give me Celsius it will be? That is intellectually dishonest.’

A sports-and-humor website called Deadspin then called for Cain to be fired from ESPN for this deviation from the promote-the-fiction orthodoxy, as David Harsanyi at The Federalist recounts:

Here is how one of the site’s intellectually incurious writers put it:
A quick trip down the Will Cain rabbit hole shows that before ESPN, he rarely spoke about sports. More often, though, Cain has carved out a role as a shill who works to further the interests and ambitions of oil corporations, Republican political candidates who attempt to hoodwink and/or energize their base, and those who vilify women and/or minorities while denying their agency.
This is dumb in that unique way that dumb people who think they’re smart are often dumb. Each platitude in the paragraph sounds like it was mined from some long-lost Debbie Wasserman Schultz appearance on Current TV. Though, to be fair, the author makes the unintentionally persuasive case that some people shouldn’t wander too far from their chosen field of expertise.
But since we’re on the topic of denying people their agency; what kind of McCarthyite wants to banish a person they disagree with from a job that has nothing to do with politics? So while Cain may be kinda smart and he may have a knack for tracking down interesting stories and people, because he’s skeptical about the nature of predictive science his coverage of the Biloxi Shuckers is no longer interesting or valid?
A few observations of my own:  Why is vulgar language, such as that used by Maher as well as the author of the Deadspin piece, so much more prevalent on the Left side of polemical exchanges?  It's not like I have never employed such rhetorical tools, but it has to be in a very particular type of circumstances.  On the other hand, I can't count the number of times I've had potty-mouth invective hurled at me in tangles with Freedom-Haters on social media.  Speaking of which, I also know a thing or two about threats of getting a gig taken away.  After my last column for the local paper, there was a call in a comment thread about it for people to call the paper and tell the editors they were "playing with fire" if they didn't can me.  And, yes, one of the particulars that so incensed them was my assertion that the global climate is not in any kind of trouble.  This is the ultimate sin for these goose-steppers.

Two great smackdowns of Most Equal Comrade's climate claims

Joe Bastardi here.

And Christopher Monkton here.  I like this one, because it's a point-by-point refutation of each claim the MEC made in that vulgar address to the Coast Guard Academy.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

They know good and well they're not some kind of champions of the downtrodden

John F. DiLeo at the Illinois Review has a great piece on the minimum-wage demonstration a handful of bussed-in protestors staged at the McDonald's shareholders meeting in Oak Brook.  He looks at a sampling of three demonstrators (they must have been quoted in the Chicago Tribune article that inspired him to write the piece): a 35-year-old minimum-wage employee at a McDonald's store in Kansas (where did he get the bread for the bus fare and lodging?), a lady who strives mightily to find a racial angle to the issue, and a SEIU agitator.

He then makes the point that should be front and center in discussions of fast-food wages: the fact that the minimum wage is for entry-level positions, and people generally advance from those pretty quickly, sometimes, if they like that company and field, rising to management level, and maybe even becoming a franchise owner.

But the part I'd like to share here is DiLeo's summary of what this kind of hissy fit is really all about:

  • It’s a campaign to help the dying anachronistic trade union movement to come back from the dead. 
  • It’s a campaign to crush the American franchise system by regulating small businesses exactly like we regulate deep-pocketed big businesses.
  • It’s a campaign to keep the poor where they are, dependent on government for their housing and food and education. 
  • It’s a campaign to stop upward mobility in the private sector. 
  • It’s a campaign to rob our nation, once and for all, from any claim to the wonderful benefits of a free market economy.
The vanguard and the useful idiots: the two main elements revolutionaries need to take a crowbar to the normal-people economy.

Dismantling our civilization to appease 2.6 percent of the population

The Pope's newly appointed consulter for the ePontifical Council for Justice and Peace is one weird dude:

Father Radcliffe, an Englishman, author and speaker, was Master of the Dominican order from 1992 to 2001, and is an outspoken proponent of homosexuality.
"We must accompany [gay people] as they discern what this means, letting our images be stretched open,” he said in a 2006 religious education lecture in Los Angeles. “This means watching 'Brokeback Mountain,' reading gay novels, living with our gay friends and listening with them as they listen to the Lord."
In 2005, as the Vatican deliberated the admission of men with homosexual tendencies to study for the priesthood in the wake of the Church sex abuse scandal, Father Radcliffe said that homosexuality should not bar men from the priesthood, and rather, those who oppose it should be banned.
As a contributor to the 2013 Anglican Pilling Report on human sexual ethics Father Radcliffe said of homosexuality:
How does all of this bear on the question of gay sexuality? We cannot begin with the question of whether it is permitted or forbidden! We must ask what it means, and how far it is Eucharistic. Certainly it can be generous, vulnerable, tender, mutual and non-violent. So in many ways, I would think that it can be expressive of Christ’s self-gift. We can also see how it can be expressive of mutual fidelity, a covenantal relationship in which two people bind themselves to each other for ever.

"Expressive of Christ's self-gift."  That's some of the richest gobbledy-gook I've heard in quite some time.

Then there's the pronouncement by former Defense Secretary and now prez of the Boy Scouts of America (the group that has banned water-balloon and squirt-gun fights):

The president of the Boy Scouts of America on Thursday called for an end to the group’s blanket ban on gay adult leaders, warning Scout executives that “we must deal with the world as it is, not as we might wish it to be,” and that “any other alternative will be the end of us as a national movement.”
At the same time, religious organizations that sponsor a majority of local Scout troops, including the Mormons and Roman Catholics, should remain free to set their own policies for leaders, said the president, Robert M. Gates, the former director of the C.I.A. and the former secretary of defense.
Mr. Gates called for the changes at an annual national meeting of the group, in Atlanta. He said that he was not yet making a formal proposal but that the Scouts’ governing body should take up the issue formally at a future meeting. 

This is called succumbing to blackmail.  He says it's lights out for the organization if they don't do this.  This guy used to be in charge of defending our nation and now he's going to blatantly capitulate to a tiny segment of the population?

It is so very late in the day.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Expanding the caliphate - today's edition

ISIS has nearly full control of Palmyra, a Syrian city full of irreplaceable ancient ruins.

Jihadists from the Islamic State group were in almost full control of Syria's historic city of Palmyra on Wednesday night after the withdrawal of government forces, a monitor said. 
"IS controls almost all of Palmyra" following the withdrawal of government troops from all sectors except for a prison in the east and military intelligence headquarters in the west, said Rami Abdel Rahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Look at the remains of the historic temples interspersed throughout the cityscape. Do you think that after what these goons did to the museum artifacts in Mosul there's any chance these pillars and walls won't be obliterated?

Midweek round-up

A smattering of developments from the four corners of humanity's reach that, in sum or individually, are sure to uplift and delight the most long-faced observer of the species' foibles:

North Korea announces the ability to miniaturize nuclear weapons, which means they can be fitted onto missiles.

The Ayatollah Khameini tells the P5+1 that it can forget about any nuclear inspections at military sites.

The Most Equal Comrade tells the Coast Guard Academy that "climate change" is one of post-America's primary security threats.

The ridiculous and discredited Columbia University mattress girl hauls her mattress onstage while receiving her diploma at commencement despite being asked not to.

The 2015 edition of the Boy Scout Handbook says to never point a squirt gun at another person.

Trey Gowdy subpoenas Sidney Blumenthal - who in 2012 had triple roles as an informal advisor to then-Secretary of State Hillionaire, a "message guidance" guy at the Clinton Foundation, and advisor to outfits brimming with capital looking for business opportunities in post-Ghaddafi Libya - to give a deposition to the House Select Committee on Benghazi.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The EPA should be dismantled yet this afternoon - today's edition

Progressivism gave us the notion that modern American life was too complex for a government confined to Constitutionally specified functions.  Croly, Dewey, Wilson et al called for a panoply of new executive-branch departments and agencies specializing in the various aspects of that life, each to be staffed with experts in determining what was needed to effectively deal with such matters previously outside government's purview as prices for farm products, or retirement - or the air and water.

But these "experts," by virtue of the entity by which they were employed, would tend to be statists, and therefore not exactly neutral agents with regard to policy.  And they'd therefore increasingly encroach upon the legislative branch's policy-making function - by instituting "regulations" that would be de facto laws.

Some would perfect the creepy art of joining with groups advocating a specific policy position to rally public opinion to their zeal to regulate.  The EPA is the poster child for this type of mischief:

When the Environmental Protection Agency proposed a major new rule intended to protect the nation’s drinking water last year, regulators solicited opinions from the public. The purpose of the “public comment” period was to objectively gauge Americans’ sentiment before changing a policy that could profoundly affect their lives.
Gina McCarthy, the agency’s administrator, told a Senate committee in March that the agency had received more than one million comments, and nearly 90 percent favored the agency’s proposal. Ms. McCarthy is expected to cite those comments to justify the final rule, which the agency plans to unveil this week.
But critics say there is a reason for the overwhelming result: The E.P.A. had a hand in manufacturing it.
In a campaign that tests the limits of federal lobbying law, the agency orchestrated a drive to counter political opposition from Republicans and enlist public support in concert with liberal environmental groups and a grass-roots organization aligned with President Obama.

The Obama administration is the first to give the E.P.A. a mandate to create broad public outreach campaigns, using the tactics of elections, in support of federal environmental regulations before they are final.
The E.P.A.’s campaign highlights the tension between exploiting emerging technologies while trying to abide by laws written for another age.
Federal law permits the president and political appointees, like the E.P.A. administrator, to promote government policy, or to support or oppose pending legislation.
But the Justice Department, in a series of legal opinions going back nearly three decades, has told federal agencies that they should not engage in substantial “grass-roots” lobbying, defined as “communications by executive officials directed to members of the public at large, or particular segments of the general public, intended to persuade them in turn to communicate with their elected representatives on some issue of concern to the executive.”
Late last year, the E.P.A. sponsored a drive on Facebook and Twitter to promote its proposed clean water rule in conjunction with the Sierra Club. At the same time, Organizing for Action, a grass-roots group with deep ties to Mr. Obama, was also pushing the rule. They urged the public to flood the agency with positive comments to counter opposition from farming and industry groups. 

It's not going unnoticed:

At minimum, the actions of the agency are highly unusual. “The agency is supposed to be more of an honest broker, not a partisan advocate in this process,” said Jeffrey W. Lubbers, a professor of practice in administrative law at the American University Washington College of Law and the author of the book “A Guide to Federal Agency Rulemaking.”
“I have not seen before from a federal agency this stark of an effort to generate endorsements of a proposal during the open comment period,” he said.
Senator James M. Inhofe, Republican of Oklahoma and chairman of the environment committee, is holding a hearing on Tuesday to examine the proposed rule. “There is clear collusion between extreme environmental groups and the Obama administration in both developing and promoting a host of new regulations,” he said.
So when Comandante Gina McCarthy crows about 87.1 percent of the public being cool with these new regs, she's not telling the whole story.

Post-America is one creepy place.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Christianity's role in the world can't be figured out from the outside

Ross Douthat at NYT takes on claim by the Most Equal Comrade and Harvard social scientist Robert Putnam that American churches focus on sexual morality at the expense of focusing on the poor.

Take it, Ross:

It would be too kind to call these comments wrong; they were ridiculous. Not only because (as Putnam acknowledged) believers personally give abundantly to charity, but because institutionally the churches of America use “all their resources” in ways that completely belie the idea that they’re obsessed with culture war. 
As Mark Hemingway of The Weekly Standard pointed out, “Even the most generous estimates of the resources devoted to pro-life causes and organizations defending traditional marriage are just a few hundred million dollars.” Whereas the budgets of American religious charities and schools and hospitals and other nonprofits are tabulated in the tens of billions. (Indeed, as Bloomberg View’s Megan McArdle noted, some of that money — from Catholic sources — paid Obama’s first community-organizer salary.)
This reality is reflected in the atmosphere of most churches and the public statements of their leaders. Anyone who tells you that America’s pastors are obsessed with homosexuality or abortion only hears them through a media filter. You can attend Masses or megachurches for months without having those issues intrude; you can bore yourself to tears reading denominational statements and bishops’ documents (true long before Pope Francis) with a similar result. The belief that organized religion is organized around culture war is largely a conceit of the irreligious.
Is there a version of the Obama-Putnam critique that makes any sense? Maybe they just meant to criticize religious leaders who make opposition to abortion more of a political priority than publicly-funded antipoverty efforts. But even this critique essentially erases black and Latino churches (who reliably support social programs), ignores decades worth of pro-welfare-state talk from Catholic bishops, and treats the liberal Protestant mainline as dead already.
He points out that a church that didn't pray with the poor as well as come to their material aid would look like any other NGO.

Churches have a specific purpose: preaching the Gospel.  Whatever secularists hear that sounds like lopsided activism cannot be understood apart from this central mission.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Sunday round-up

Ayatollah Khameini says that the US is the main sponsor of terrorism.  Talk about a difference in perspectives.

George Stephanopolous, in addition to contributing $75K to the Clinton Foundation, has had Clinton Global Initiative stints going back to 2005 including featured attendee, panelist and panel moderator at its events.

Before you get too excited about the Marines killing, take into account the final conquest of all of Ramadi by ISIS.

Former CIA Deputy Director Mike Morell says that you can count on Hillionaire's emails being in the hands of foreign countries.

The podcast of the latest edition of the Barney Quick Show is available here.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Yet another foreign policy fail for the Most Equal Comrade

Saudi Arabia gives the MEC a double dose of humiliation:

First, King Salman of Saudi Arabia embarrassed the Obama administration when he backed out of the summit after the White House announced he was going to attend.
The last-minute move was widely perceived as a deliberate snub, and the Saudis offered only a vague excuse for King Salman's absence.
Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Nayef and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz attended the talks in Salman's place.
Obama then incorrectly introduced the deputy crown prince and misnamed the founder of the kingdom.
Then came today's big news: The New York Times reported that Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries intend to match Iran's nuclear capacity if the US reaches a deal that allows some aspects of the country's nuclear program, including uranium enrichment and ballistic missiles research, to continue.
One unnamed Arab leader who is participating in the talks told the Times that Sunni Arab countries "can't sit back and be nowhere as Iran [a Shiite regime] is allowed to retain much of its capability and amass its research."
David Rothkopf, CEO and editor of the group that publishes Foreign Policy magazine, weighed in on the implications of this, saying that Saudi Arabia's expression of intent to match Iran's nuclear development is a bigger blow to Obama's summit than King Salman's absence.
Every observer of the Middle East worth taking seriously has said for years that a bad deal with Iran would spark an arms race in the region.  Still, our overlords push on in their mad quest.