"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

President "Plausible Deniability"

Girls of the Day - Greer Garson and Deborah Kerr

I happened to glimpse two minutes of an old movie this morning while I was waiting for a man to come to our house to give us a quote on tree removal.   The movie starred Spencer Tracy, apparently as a very wealthy financier with a troublemaker son, who appeared in the two minute scene I saw to be paying off the headmaster of his son's school to keep him on.   Anyway, the next scene, only a fifteen second thing, featured his wife, whom I believed was played by a very young and very beautiful Greer Garson.   Which would put the movie in the late 1930s.

And now... the miracle of the Internet... I've figured out that the movie was called Edward, My Son, and it wasn't Greer Garson, it was a very young Deborah Kerr, and it wasn't the late 1930s, it was the late 1940s.    Hmmmm... the mind plays tricks.  

Anyway, that error permits me a two-for-one Girl of the Day.

Golfing and Watching ESPN

That's apparently what President Obama has been doing while ISIS has taken over 35,000 square miles of Syria and Iraq, an area about the size of Indiana.   What else can we conclude from this report, via Breitbart, of a Government Accountability Institute report that Obama has missed more than half of his daily intelligence briefings during his Presidency:

This is not the first time questions have been raised about Obama’s lack of engagement and interest in receiving in-person daily intelligence briefings. On September 10, 2012, the GAI released a similar report showing that Obama had attended less than half (43.8%) of his daily intelligence briefings up to that point. When Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen mentioned the GAI’s findings in his column, then-White House Press Secretary Jay Carney dubbed the findings “hilarious.” The very next day, U.S. Libyan Ambassador Chris Stevens and three American staff members were murdered in Benghazi. As Breitbart News reported at the time, the White House’s very own presidential calendar revealed Obama had not received his daily intel briefing in the five consecutive days leading up to the Benghazi attacks.

You know what we've got... we've got President Bartelby.  

AIDE:   Mr. President, it's time for your daily intelligence briefing.

OBAMA:   I would prefer not to.


UPDATE:   Supposedly from a national security staffer via the Daily Mail:

'It's pretty well-known that the president hasn’t taken in-person intelligence briefings with any regularity since the early days of 2009,' the aide said. 'He gets them in writing.'
'And it's well-understood why. No one sits and watches him read them, and no one can come back later and tell Congress in a closed session that "I told the president this specific thing was likely to happen".'

If accurate, that's unbelievably damning.  

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Birthday Today - The Boss Turns 65!

Still the greatest live act ever:

Who Do They Make Excuses For, and Who Do They Always Suspect?

Victor Davis Hanson, as is his wont, today speaks a good deal of truth about both the Obama administration and radical Islamists in the Middle East:

We see this [gullibility] in the administration’s fashionable collective denial that the Islamic State has anything to do with Islam — as if foreign tourists visited Mecca as freely as they do the Vatican; as if Muslim apostates picked and chose their new religions as easily and safely as do Protestants; as if beheadings and stonings were as frequent in Paris and Houston as they are in Riyadh and Teheran; as if Bibles were brought into Iran and Saudi Arabia as freely as Korans are into America; as if churches sprouted up in Turkey, Iran, and Gaza as do mosques in Britain and Michigan; and as if women and gays were as equal in the Middle East as they are in the West.

Hanson is honest and courageous in an age of euphemism.... the truth is that no sane person is afraid to walk into any Catholic Church anywhere in the world, but everyone who isn't Muslim would rationally be terrified to walk into any number of mosques in London or Paris or Amsterdam, much less in Mosul.   And shouldn't that be the test of whether Islam really is a "religion of peace," as Obama tries to tell us?

But what interests me is the impulse of liberals to make excuses for Islam and reject tarring the entire religion because of the sins of some of its adherents.    It interests me because it is the exact opposite of what liberals do with Christians.   In America, our liberal elites in the media and academia never excuse Christians, never check themselves from generalizing from the actions of a few to the beliefs of the many.   You can see it in the products of Hollywood most clearly -- how many times in TV shows has the villain been a Christian, Catholic or Evangelical?

It tells you a lot to observe who liberals will make excuses for, and who they always hold in suspicion.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Actual Journalism on What the Climate Change Movement Wants

By Reason magazine:

The Media and the "Rape on Campus" Hysteria

I've been paying some mild attention lately to the oddity of liberal politicians (including President Obama) spending a good deal of effort to highlight what they allege to be an "epidemic" of sexual assaults on the predominantly liberal campuses of America's elite universities.   Many have touted the supposed statistic that one in five young women undergraduates will be sexually assaulted on campuses, including in the article in the Washington Post linked above, which cites how "studies" have reached that conclusion.  

Hmmm... pro tip to the media... here are two easy methods to determine whether this claim is fact or fiction.

First, you might just check the incidence of sexual assault in the United States as a whole.   This information is available with about fifteen seconds of clicking on the Internet through the FBI's data bases here.   The answer:   the rate of forcible rape in the United States in 2012 was 26.7 per 100,000 inhabitants.   Let's assume that all of the rapes were of women (note:  they weren't), and let's assume that there is roughly one woman to every man.   So 26.7 per 50,000 women would be about 1 in a little under 2000.  

In East St. Louis, Illinois, the incidence of rape is 60 per 100,000.   So a little more than double the national average, but still you're looking at only a little more than 1 in a thousand women getting raped in one of the historically and famously worst cities for crime in the nation.

That's a little different than 1 in 5, isn't it?

But, hey Mr. Reporter, if arithmetic and casual research is too much for you, how about just doing about five seconds of hard THINKING.   Consider this logic:

  • Any one of your Ivy League liberal friends in your nice liberal enclaves in nice suburbs in New Jersey or Massachusetts or Maryland or northern Virginia would absolutely be horrified if their 18 year-old daughter was required to spend even a single night in a hotel in East St. Louis.   (And rightly so.)
  • But the same exact people will celebrate the admission of the same daughter to Princeton or Harvard or Yale, even though, according to the statistics cited by Obama and WaPo, the likelihood of them being raped at those august institutions is about two hundred times greater!

Look, I'd say Q.E.D., but I suspect that our educational system has failed to teach Americans any Latin either.   But here's the gist... the "rape epidemic on campus" story cannot possibly be true, because if it were true, the applications to Princeton and Harvard and Yale, etc., would plummet.   The same parents who won't let their kids ride their bikes without helmets aren't going to send their daughters to rape factories.  


P.S. The fact that this campaign against rape is coming out in September before a November mid-term in which the Democratic Party is facing a big uphill climb leads me to two conclusions:

1. The Dems are really worried about voter turnout among young women and particularly young college women, who voted heavily for Obama in 2008 and 2012.   So they are going to try to gin up a not-so-subliminal campaign theme that, if you oppose Obama and the Democrats, you are pro-rape.

2. Look for reporters to ask "gotcha" questions of Republican candidates for Senate about campus rape.    Can you imagine what will happen to a Republican who has the audacity to suggest that the statistics are bogus or that the so-called "epidemic" is hysteria, or, worse, has the audacity to suggest that maybe we should be teaching young women to avoid drinking too much and/or to practice abstinence sexually?  

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Mark Cuban on the NFL

Dallas Mavericks mark cuban

Mark Cuban, the billionaire Internet entrepreneur and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, is a very very smart fellow.   So when he talks about anything having to do with the business of sports, he's worth listening to.   But this is amazing... from six months ago, Cuban wrote on Facebook about problems facing the NFL:

2. Player Behavior.
The NBA learned this lesson. Fans don’t like to see players acting the fool. While fans may forgive players over time, advertisers have long memories.
It is hard to ask players to be warriors on the field and perfect citizens off. Across a population of more than 1500 players under the age of 30, you can bet that they will have continuing issues. With the unquenchable thirst the online and media world have for HEADLINE PORN, and the ever growing availability of pictures of those mistakes appearing online, it is not inconceivable that over the next ten years something could impact the perception of the game enough to impact attendance and viewership.

The Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson stories are perfect examples of bad behavior by players, captured on video or photographs, generating "headline porn" for the 24/7 media machine.   Will advertisers turn away?   Maybe.   Will fans?   Probably not.   What will affect fans over time is another point Cuban makes:

1. I wouldn’t want my son playing football, would you?
I’m sure helmet technology will improve over the next 10 years, but why risk it? There are plenty of sports to play. Plenty of ways to get exercise and if my son decided to do anything outside of sports and never pick up any ball of any kind, I’m fine with that. I can think of 1k things I would prefer him to get excited about doing.
As far as watching, I good with that.
I don’t think I’m alone. If we start to see a decline of popularity at the high school and then college level because kids choose other sports, it will hurt the interest in watching the NFL

Like I said... he's a very smart fellow.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Here's How to Stop Intolerance by Islamists

This sort of story is becoming too commonplace:

Islamist police in Saudi Arabia have stormed a Christian prayer meeting and arrested its entire congregation, including women and children, and confiscated their bibles, it has been reported. 
The raid was the latest incident of a swingeing crackdown on religious minorities in Saudi Arabia by the country's hard-line Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.  
The 28 Christians were said to be worshipping at the home of an Indian national in the eastern city of Khafji, when the police entered the building and took them into custody. They have not been seen or heard from since, raising concerns among human rights groups as to their whereabouts.

It has to stop.   Religious tolerance is the sine qua non of modern civilization.   Christians must be permitted to worship wherever they live in the world -- and this goes for Saudi Arabia and Iran and Egypt and every other Islamic country where Christians are persecuted.   Israel's right to exist must be respected by the same Islamic countries.   If they choose not to live in peace with Jews and Christians, if they choose to be in a perpetual holy war against Jews and Christians, then it's time we start obliging them.  

King Abdullah (pictured above) ought to be getting a stern message through back channels and off the record... if Christians are harmed in your country simply because they are worshipping, you are a dead man.   If the 28 Christians your government has taken into custody are harmed in any way, a drone will be sent to rain destruction on you and your family.   Period.  End of story.  

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Atlanta Hawks' Owner and Pseudo-Racism

We have gotten to the point in this country where you don't have to yell the "N" word at an innocent black child, or refuse to rent to a black family or to serve a black man at a restaurant to be labelled "Racist."   Now, apparently, if a white man talks about race at all, he can be accused of racism.

Witness Bruce Levenson, the soon-to-be-gone Atlanta Hawks owner.   Two years ago he writes an email wondering how the team can attract more fans and, specifically, affluent white fans.   To my ear, the email isn't racist at all, but simply a thoughtful analysis based on data and demographics and some conjecture about what different audiences might prefer for their entertainment dollar:

Regarding game ops, i need to start with some background. for the first couple of years we owned the team, i didn’t much focus on game ops. then one day a light bulb went off. when digging into why our season ticket base is so small, i was told it is because we can’t get 35-55 white males and corporations to buy season tixs and they are the primary demo for season tickets around the league. when i pushed further, folks generally shrugged their shoulders. then i start looking around our arena during games and notice the following:
— it’s 70 pct black 
— the cheerleaders are black 
— the music is hip hop 
— at the bars it’s 90 pct black 
— there are few fathers and sons at the games 
— we are doing after game concerts to attract more fans and the concerts are either hip hop or gospel.
My theory is that the black crowd scared away the whites and there are simply not enough affluent black fans to build a signficant season ticket base. Please dont get me wrong. There was nothing threatening going on in the arean back then. i never felt uncomfortable, but i think southern whites simply were not comfortable being in an arena or at a bar where they were in the minority. On fan sites i would read comments about how dangerous it is around philips yet in our 9 years, i don’t know of a mugging or even a pick pocket incident. This was just racist garbage. When I hear some people saying the arena is in the wrong place I think it is code for there are too many blacks at the games.
Again, to my ear that sounds like  a man who is anti-racist but who is sensitive to the fact that some out there in Atlanta might still harbor some racist stereotypes.

But to see even more clearly why this isn't racist, let's play the substitution game.   Imagine that a black owner, say, Magic Johnson, wrote an email saying that he had noticed that the crowds at Dodgers games (he's a part-owner) are predomimantly white, and that they have all white ball-girls and play classic 70s rock between innings and had an Eddie and the Cruisers reunion concert after the game to attract more fans, and then wondered whether black patrons feel uncomfortable in that circumstance and stay away, and then asked his subordinates what they can do to attract more black patrons.   Maybe play some hip-hop in one of the stadium bars?   Maybe have a few more black ball-girls?    Would anyone say he was being racist?   Or would they say he was a businessman trying to diversify and expand his clientele?

Sheesh!   And yet Levenson himself, presumably so indoctrinated by the culture of white liberal guilt that he feels the need to confess to a crime he didn't commit, has pledged to sell the team.

By the way, Kareen Abdul-Jabbar agrees with me.   Jabbar is fast becoming my go-to pundit for all issues having to do with race, because, for whatever reason -- maybe it's just because he's really smart -- he seems to make sense and think outside-of-the-box.  

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Le Deluge

A colleague asked me why I haven't been blogging as much lately, and I told him that most of my usual topics -- basically centered around politics -- feel crushingly boring to me.   I told him that it was difficult to get interested in writing anything about Obama, because there is nothing new to be said... in my view he's so obviously a no-talent, all-hat-no-cattle narcissist whom the media has promoted and then protected for the past decade or so, that reiterating that conclusion seems pointless.   If any conscious adult would come to the same conclusion... why write about it?

As evidence for this position, I submit today's article from Victor Davis Hanson.  It certainly feels like nearly every other article he's written for the past five years and while he's right in his damning indictment of Obama, it's also basically a catalogue of things we already know:

We can usefully view the Obama administration’s chronic untruthfulness as a sort of multifaceted corporation of untruth, with all sorts of subsidiaries. 
Remember the al-Qaeda-is-on-the-run 2012-election talking point? It was mostly a lie. The administration deliberately released to sympathetic journalists only those documents from the so-called Osama bin Laden trove that revealed worry and dissension among the terrorists. Then it nourished essays by pet journalists trumpeting the decline of al-Qaeda. Disturbing memos that confounded that narrative, as Weekly Standard journalist Steven F. Hayes recently noted, were kept back. “On the run” was dropped after the 2012 election, when events on the ground made such an assertion absurd. 
Recent disclosures by some of the combatants about the night of the Benghazi attack remind us that almost everything Jay Carney, Susan Rice, Hillary Clinton, and President Obama swore in the aftermath of the debacle was knowingly false. A video did not cause the attack. The rioting was not spontaneous. A video-maker, an American resident, was soon jailed, while one of the suspected killers was giving taped interviews at a coffee house in Benghazi. There were ways of securing the consulate and the annex that were not explored, both before and during the assault. Talking points were altered. Again, the catalyst for untruth was reelection worries by an administration that believes its exalted ends of social justice allow any means necessary for reaching them. 
Has anything the administration said about pulling our troops out of Iraq proven true? Was it really the Iraqis’ fault or George Bush’s? Was our leaving proof that Iraq might be one of the administration’s “great achievements”? Was the Iraq that we left without any peacekeepers really “stable”? On more than ten occasions the president bragged on the campaign trail that he alone had ended American involvement in Iraq. When Iraq predictably blew up after our departure, he snarled to reporters that he was angry that anyone would dare accuse him alone of being responsible for our precipitate departure.