Saturday, December 29, 2012

(Not So) Good Grief, or, Empathy for the Devil

When I heard the news I worried about how it would affect my twelve year old son who is a sensitive child. I did not worry much about my older children until I received a text from my eighteen year old son reading, “turn on the news, I am so shaken.” Everyone is affected by what happened. Everyone needs a hug and to feel loved right now. This happened to the children of our nation and we must come together now to love and heal one another.

-- Blogger Tricia LaVoice

Oh, my.  Now on top of everything else I owe this lady a hug, and I’m morally obliged to sympathize with her poor son, who’s suffered being “shaken.”

At this stage, I’d gladly trade whatever hugs I have coming from the national bleed for a 24-hours moratorium on any sentence containing the words “grief,” “hug,” “heal,” “tragic,” “safe,” and “assault weapon.”

In defiance of all that is sacred, precious, and huggable, I’m proposing here that, while empathy is an admirable capacity when displayed in sensible proportions, in immoderate quantities, like any other emotion gone – frankly -- nuts, it is now only making things worse.  At this stage of our history America simply lacks civilizing norms to tell us when indulging an emotion has reached a healthy boundary, letting us know that any more of it will only be self-indulgence. The same social dictates that used to require a widow to wear black in public for a respectful time after her husband’s death also required that, beyond that point, she needed to stop wearing it, too.

Is there no useful human impulse we don’t manage to corrupt and spoil?   Et tu, empathy?  Alas, having suffered (because I support the Second Amendment) through two weeks of moral bullying over what happened in Newtown, I have to insist you have at maximum a two-degree proximity to the actual victims if you intend to claim my deference to your “need to heal.”  As for hugs – don’t even try it.  The Bible does indeed command that we’re to mourn with those who mourn. But if you expect me to send sympathy cards to all the rest of you who are mourning with those who mourn, I’m going to call a foul.

It’s not even the etiquette of all this that matters to me. It’s that all this boundless emotionalism is taken advantage of and exploited by people in this nation who know exactly how to use it.

Now, in the unlikely event that you are reading this and you actually are a parent or relative or associate of the victims of Sandy Hook, absolutely none of this intended for you. I’m sincerely sorry for your loss, and I have nothing more to add.

But for the rest of you, it’s time to get a grip. (Not a pistol grip, naturally. Those are going to be banned.) Or am I really the only one in America left able to distinguish what Adam Lanza did to 20 kindergartners in Newtown, Connecticut (he massacred them) from what “happened to the children of our nation” (nothing)?

Before six o’clock on Friday the 14th, the media powers-that- be had already decided the entire population of the country were in a state of mourning.  Even Fox News did a Thelma and Louise over the responsible-reporting cliff.  It was Nina Easton on Fox News’ Special Report who referred to the president as the “mourner-in-chief.” (Is there anything that guy’s not the -in-chief of?) Bret Baer spent 100% of that Friday’s newscast on Sandy Hook. 

The national wake – besides being arbitrarily open-ended -- has since been enforced according to the kind of Victorian-era rules of behavior we Americans don’t even bother with when our actual relatives die. In this case, showing a proper respect for the bereaved (none of whom I know, nor do they know me) for some reason means not contradicting the media’s lockstep adoption of this particular mass shooting as qualitatively different, more shocking, and more beneficial to a rational discussion about guns than any other.   A colleague at work told me she took offense at a gun-rights advocate on a panel discussion – not because of his positions on gun rights – but because he said that the Sandy Hook massacre wasn’t “that shocking.” Wasn’t how shocking? Is there a meter that measures these things?

We are now being divided over how bad we feel?  As William Hurt’s character in Broadcast News said to Holly Hunter’s drama-queen response to massive terminations in the office, “I won’t feel bad because I don’t feel worse. This has happened at every station I’ve worked at.”  And no one hugged me when JFK, RFK, or MLK were assassinated and I turned out – well, never mind how I turned out.

But here I’ve just said I didn’t know the bereaved, when I guess I do, because it’s all of us, right? Especially those who feel so deeply that Sandy Hook was caused by Too Many Guns. And we all do know at least enough about bereavement to know it’s just bad form to say anything to upset the bereaved in his, or her, grief.

The problem is that that kind of immunity, enjoyed by the wrong people, can be misused.  Look at what happened with Cindy Sheehan.  Maureen Dowd said the death of Sheehan’s son in Iraq conferred upon her “absolute moral authority,” and on the strength of that stupid comment the Democrats used Sheehan  as a blackjack for a while to clobber supporters of the Iraq War --  right up until they got tired of her and threw her over.

As just one example of the same kind of thing, we have the opinions of Tom Messenger, a St. Louis editor, published in The Detroit News the other day.  This writer is on record elsewhere opposed to permitting “any teacher or principal with a concealed-carry permit to carry a gun while teaching our children.” (“Editorial: More guns in schools? Wrong answer “).  Fine, so he has an opinion.  But he has more than that, or thinks he does; he has the moral authority of a man going through the “five stages of grief,” although he’s currently stuck at “anger.” He describes making full use of it on a radio talk show recently when he took issue with the host’s view that the struggle to protect the Second Amendment as a left vs. right issue, an opinion Messenger denounced as ‘bunk”:

I went straight to anger as I explained my grief over Sandy Hook.

On top of being an American, a human being, a father and grandfather of children the age of the 20 who were shot to death, two days before the tragedy I'd been thinking about what might happen in a real-life school shooting in my community.

Now I won’t spoil the surprise if I tell you all that Messenger turns out not to have experienced an actual real life shooting in his community, beyond thinking about it, and, of course, experiencing Sandy Hook through news reports – which, for some reason I feel it necessary to repeat -- is not the same thing as having it happen to you. Anyway, in his mind he’s one of the bereaved of Sandy Hook

And because he’s one of the bereaved, we have to listen quietly as he bullies us with his opinions (immunized by grief, don’t forget) that “we must do whatever we can to make sure our children are safe, [or else] we have lost our souls.”

But by “whatever we can” he really means the very limited list of things that didn’t work last time, (the assault weapons ban), wouldn’t have stopped Lanza this time (“making high-capacity ammunition magazines illegal”), or costly and impractical solutions (“finding the funding to support existing programs that put police officers — not armed teachers or volunteers — in schools.”).    Why not armed teachers or volunteers?  Messenger doesn’t say.  He only makes clear that he’s opposed to the NRA or “other pro-gun groups,” making  him, it’s fair to say, an anti-gun advocate.  This just happens to fit in nicely with the extremely anti-gun extremism of the party in power in Washington, which is nothing if not adept at exploiting tragedies to achieve its objectives. Messenger’s views, dressed up in widow’s weeds and multiplied by millions, are jet fuel for a crafty politician with a demonstrated record for harnessing emotion to political ends.

And that, my friends, is why we mustn’t humor empathy running wild.


Sunday, December 23, 2012

From Our No One Saw This Coming Department

This from the AP:

ASSIUT, Egypt -- A campaign of intimidation by Islamists left most Christians in this southern Egyptian province too afraid to participate in last week's referendum on an Islamist-drafted constitution they deeply oppose, residents say. The disenfranchisement is hiking Christians' worries over their future under empowered Muslim conservatives.

Around a week before the vote, some 50,000 Islamists marched through the provincial capital, Assiut, chanting that Egypt will be "Islamic, Islamic, despite the Christians." At their head rode several bearded men on horseback with swords in scabbards on their hips, evoking images of early Muslims conquering Christian Egypt in the 7th Century.

They made sure to go through mainly Christian districts of the city, where residents, fearing attacks, shuttered down their stores and stayed in their homes, witnesses said.

The day of the voting itself on Saturday, Christian voting was minimal -- as low as 7 percent in some areas, according to church officials. Some of those who did try to head to polling stations in some villages were pelted by stones, forcing them to turn back without casting ballots, Christian activists and residents told The Associated Press this week.

The activists now see what happened in Assiut as a barometer for what Christians' status will be under a constitution that enshrines a greater role for Shariah, or Islamic law, in government and daily life. Even under the secular regime of autocrat Hosni Mubarak, Egypt's Christians complained of discrimination and government failure to protect them and their rights. They fear it will be worse with the Islamists who have dominated Egypt's political landscape since Mubarak's ouster in February 2011. (“Fear keeps Egypt's Christians away from polls”).

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

More Heat Than Light

From Wednesday’s Detroit Free Press:

With the shock of the mass shooting at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school still fresh on the nation's conscience and protests and vigils by clergy and others closer to home, Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed a bill Tuesday that would have allowed Michigan gun owners with extra training to carry concealed weapons in schools, day care centers, churches and stadiums. (“In light of tragedy, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder vetoes bill that allowed guns in schools”).

This paragraph makes sense under one, and only one, condition: that you accept as true the premise that the Sandy Hook massacre was carried out by a lawful gun owner  permitted to carry a concealed weapon, (which, in a related assumption, is why whole thing can be laid at the feet of “the nations’s conscience.”)

But that isn’t the truth. Adam Lanza was not a lawful gun owner (he stole his mother’s guns), he did not have a CCW, and his murder weapon was not concealed.

The same poor logic is echoed in a statement by State Rep Shanelle Jackson:

“Gov. Rick Snyder made the right call in vetoing a bill that would have allowed concealed weapons into schools, day care centers, hospitals and places of worship,” Jackson's statement said. “In light of the tragic loss of children's lives in Connecticut, this was simply not the time to recklessly advance the expansion of concealed weapons in Michigan.”

Once again, this statement is devoid of a scintilla of sense if you don’t already take as given that Adam Lanza’s rampage – or any part of his plan or execution of it – had anything at all to do with anyone’s freedom to carry a concealed weapon into a school.

And yet both of these statements are meant to explain how Sandy Hook informed Snyder’s decision to veto the bill.

I’m not asking for much here; I never do.

But if anti-gun enthusiasts insist on using expressions like “in the light of the tragic loss of children’s lives” as a moral club to flatten whatever follows, it’s only fair that whatever follows actually have some moral connection to the opportunistically cited tragedy.

Yet not only is there no such connection, but the obverse thing being implied isn’t true either – that no reasonable person could envision how the presence inside Sandy Hook of an armed, trained citizen could have possibly lessened the tragedy of what happened. 

Even Gov Snyder manages to make things worse by protesting how he prefers to consider the concerns raised in the bill he vetoed in a “holistic manner”:  including finding “a way to better incorporate community mental health workers into schools.”

Except Sandy Hook had a mental health worker on the job: the school psychologist, who heroically lost her life, along with the school principal, taking on the killer without assistance of any weapon suited to the threat.

I don’t quite see how vetoing a bill that would have changed that dynamic should a similar scenario ever threaten a Michigan school can truly be said to have been made “in light of the tragedy.”

In fact, I’m stumped if I can understand how, with all the “light” the Newtown massacre is supposed to be shedding on everything, so many people are so much in the dark.


Saturday, December 15, 2012

For Egypt, Not a Hand Out, But a Hand Off

Andrew G. Bostom writes on Friday at American Thinker:

Hadd Times Ahead for Egypt?

Today (12/14/12), the senior Egyptian judges of the so-called "Judges Club" reaffirmed their previously announced abstention from overseeing the two-stage (i.e., December 15th and 22nd) referendum on Egypt’s draft constitution.

A rival judicial club body has announced it would oversee the plebiscite. Zaghloul al-Burshi, head of the council responsible for overseeing the referendum, told Al Arabiya during an interview Monday 12/10/12 that between 7,000 to 9,000 judges, had agreed to oversee the referendum, which he maintained, was "more than enough"

Ahmad al-Zind, Chairman of the Egypt Judges Club, which declined the referendum oversight responsibility, nevertheless opined that all judges seek to protect the country’s national interests despite their differences.

We accept judge’s stances either way. People from here can learn democracy.

Al-Zind’s own recently aired "stance" on Sharia, specifically his condoning the mandatory hadd (plural hudud, or hudood) punishments, is well-worth noting given his prominent position.

What are the so-called hadd punishments condoned by Chairman of the Egypt Judges Club, al-Zind? Defined by the Muslim prophet Muhammad either in the Koran or in the hadith (the canonical collections of Muhammad’s deeds and pronouncements), these draconian punishments include: (lethal) stoning for adultery; death for apostasy; death for highway robbery, when accompanied by murder of the robbery victim; for simple highway robbery, the loss of hands and feet; for simple theft, cutting off of the right hand; for "fornication," a hundred lashes; for drinking wine, eighty lashes. Muhammad Abu Zahra (d. 1974), was a prominent member of Al Azhar’s Academy of Islamic Research, professor of Islamic law at Cairo University, and prolific author. These extracts from Abu Zahra’s "Punishment in Islam," featured in the seminal 935-page Proceedings of the Fourth Conference of the Academy of Islamic Research, September 1968, provide the mainstream institutional Islamic context for the contemporary views expressed by Ahmad al-Zind:

The hadd punishments being prescribed for the protection of society, their execution is tantamount to an act of worship and equivalent to a holy war [jihad] in the cause of Allah. To purge the community of pernicious elements is a sort of holy war to safeguard religion and morals. . . . From the words of Ibn Taymiya [d. 1328, the seminal jurist] it appears that Hudud are prescribed as a divine blessing. This idea is further developed by al-Mawardi in his ‘al-Ahkam al-Sultaniya’. [d. 1058, author of this landmark treatise on the governance of an Islamic state, Mawardi writes] "Hadd punishments are imposed by Allah as [a] deterrent from his prohibitions and the omission of His commandments."

In accord with this mainstream, Sharia-based Islamic jurisprudence across a millennial continuum, the following are excerpts from an interview with Ahmad Al-Zind, which was broadcasted on Egyptian television (Dream 2 TV), November 26, 2012:

The judges have a burning desire to instate shari’a laws regarding Islamic hudud punishments and the diya indemnity. The UAE [United Arab Emirates] has resolved this issue without problems and in a simple way -- the first article of its penal code states that shari’a law will be implemented with regard to the hudud and diya. When shari’a laws are implemented, they leave no room for bargaining. Any country that refrains from implementing these punishments is lacking in many ways. People should not fear the implementation of the hudud punishments, because this could be more lenient to the accused then ta’zir punishment [in which the judge has discretion]... Yet people terrify you with talk about the hudud. There is no backwardness in Islam, and people who claim otherwise are backward themselves. Allah’s mercy towards His servants is evident in the fact that the person administering lashings places a notebook in his armpit, preventing him from inflicting pain by raising his arm too high, lest the notebook should fall.

Unfortunately, Ahmad Al-Zind’s opinion reflects the overwhelming vox populi sentiments of Egypt’s Muslim masses, while providing a respected contemporary jurist’s authoritative Sharia-compliant validation of such views. Dating back to within a few days of their publication in April, 2007, I have repeatedly highlighted data from Egypt indicating that 74% of Egyptians favored "strict" application of the Sharia in general. As recently as December 2010, Pew polling data revealed that with regard to the draconian hadd punishments, 84% of Egyptian Muslims rejected freedom of conscience in the most ugly terms claiming apostates should be killed (i.e., that percentage would likely be well over 90% if less draconian punishments, such as imprisonment and beating till recantation were queried), 82% favor stoning adulterers to death, and 77% approved of mutilating punishments for theft.

Given such widely prevalent attitudes, even Muslim Brotherhood "Spiritual Adviser," and esteemed, prolific commentator Yusuf al-Qaradawi’s cautious admonition to reapply the full panoply of Sharia’s odious regulations "gradually," may not be necessary. With likely passage of Egypt’s Sharia-affirming draft constitution in the offing, "hadd times" may be returning to Egypt sooner than even confirmed Arab Spring pessimists like myself ever imagined.


Sunday, December 02, 2012

No More Phobia?

Charles C. W. Cooke at NRO writes the following:

‘Phobic’ No More

‘In politics,” Coleridge wrote, “what begins in fear usually ends in folly.” In journalism, he might have added, what ends in “-phobia” usually suffers the same fate.

The Associated Press’s November announcement that it will cease conflating “phobia” and “criticism” is a welcome one, and both other news outlets and the general public would do well to follow its example. For a criminally long time now, “-phobe” has been lazily tacked on to other words without reference to its meaning or judgment about its suitability. In the dictionary of modern usage, “-phobe” is to “critic” what “-gate” is to “-scandal.” Oppose gay marriage? You’re a homophobe! Defend the Mohammed cartoonists? You’re an Islamophobe! The word joins others, such as “racist” and “misogynist,” in the twisted arsenals of those who would lob loaded terms into the field of debate in order to kill discussion.

The word “phobia” is derived from the Greek phobos, which translates literally as “panic flight,” and which medical dictionaries tend to translate more loosely as “morbid fear.” In the modern world, the term is most commonly employed by clinical psychologists as a label for a specific form of anxiety disorder in which a person experiences “excessive or unreasonable” — in other words, irrational— fear in response to a given stimulus. The most recent Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders explains that in order for a person to be a “phobic,” “exposure to the phobic stimulus” must “almost invariably provoke an immediate anxiety response.” Among other things, this response can include loss of control, flight, fainting, and panic attacks. And the reaction can be classified as “phobic” only if “the person recognizes that the fear is excessive and unreasonable.”

Here’s the question for those who casually launch the word against their ideological opponents: Is there really no better description of democratic opposition to, say, gay marriage than “phobia”? The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual would certainly suggest that there is. The medical profession, too, which holds that one can diagnose a phobia only if “the anxiety, panic attack, or phobic avoidance associated with the specific object or situation are not better accounted for by another mental disorder.” It helps if those symptoms actually exist, too.

Explaining the AP’s decision, Deputy Standards Editor Dave Minthorn expressed his concern at the way in which “phobia” is being misused.   “‘Homophobia’ especially — it’s just off the mark,” he observed. “It’s ascribing a mental disability to someone, and suggests a knowledge we don’t have. It seems inaccurate.” I’d go one step further than Minthorn. It doesn’t just seem inaccurate, it is inaccurate— and wildly so. Nevertheless, it is easy to see why the “phobia” tag is appealing in political discourse. By insinuating that your opponents are irrational and motivated by primal fear — mentally ill, even — you are free to discount the legitimacy of their position without actually having to debate them. After all, who would bother to argue with a madman?

At this point in any discussion about language, someone usually pops his head above the parapet and says something to the effect of, “Calm down, language changes, and besides, it’s all about communication anyway.” This is true, and far be it for me to discourage lingua Anglica’s virtuous flexibility. But my complaint here is not so much about the changes in words’ meaning and use as it is about language that exists simultaneously in two states. “Phobia” has a clinical definition that is universally understood. It also has a colloquial — primarily political — usage that is not. The trouble is that the two uses do not coexist in separate, hermetically sealed arenas. The colloquial use has not become wholly divorced from the original use.

For Dave Minthorn, this is problematic because it results in copy that is “not quite accurate.” It’s a little more serious that that. We cannot have fruitful political discussions if we don’t know what we’re talking about or if we shut down our interlocutors at the first hurdle. Granted, this is a symptom as much it is a cause. But there are good reasons to remove barriers from our discourse, and I would applaud the Associated Press for recognizing that “phobia” is often an inappropriate descriptor. Perhaps Franklin Delano Roosevelt got it slightly wrong. What we have to fear is less fear itself, and more the prospect of losing the ability to talk about fear.

Presumably, there are some people who are genuinely scared of homosexuals. After all, there are people who are irrationally terrified — phobic, if you will — of garden spiders (arachnophobes), of string (cnidophobes), of chins (geniophobes), of stars (siderophobes), and of everything (panophobes). But homophobia is not a condition that afflicts many — certainly not all of the 44 percent of Americans who oppose gay marriage. As strongly as gay-marriage supporters (and they make up nearly half the population) might feel about the issue, it helps nobody for them to pretend that their fellow citizens are clinically ill.

“Most people who bother with the matter at all would admit that the English language is in a bad way,” George Orwell wrote in his essay “Politics and the English Language,” adding, “It is generally assumed that we cannot by conscious action do anything about it.” In our diffuse and noisy modern world, Orwell’s “we” is made up of billions of autonomous people each jostling for his say, and the temptation is to fall in line and contentedly reassemble those “strips of words which have already been set in order by someone else.” Congratulations to the Associated Press for having the courage to reject this pernicious tendency and demand that if language is to have any purpose at all, it should actually mean something.


Sunday, November 25, 2012

R.I.P. The Detroit News

After many long years as a champion of the pro-life cause, the editorial department of the Detroit News has finally abandoned the cause for good. That leaves the Detroit newspaper audience without a major pro-life voice.

In a Sunday editorial advising Michigan lawmakers on goals for their lame-duck session, the following was included under the “Don’t Pass These” heading:

Abortion restrictions: Nearly 40 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that abortion is constitutional and legal. State lawmakers should stop trying to relitigate that decision. These bills, including one transparently designed to shut down clinics providing abortions, should be allowed to dissolve.

I suspect that Nolan Finley is the author of this unsigned editorial, and the author of the News’s abandonment of the cause of life. During primary season I noticed Finley’s comments were notably pro-choice, crabbing that Republicans were still weighing down the campaign with “social issues.”

When I first started reading editorial and op-ed pages in the early 1970s, Detroit had two distinct editorial voices in the Free Press and the News. Our house subscribed to both, and I devoured both.

As anyone would notice who regularly reads this blog , in recent years I haven’t had a very high opinion of either newspaper , both of which I feel compelled to ridicule for the thoroughgoing PC-ness of how they report the news – or refuse to report the news.

But until recently the News still held onto some of its old sense in its editorial pages. For 40 years we’ve had the Free Press lecturing readers about how the Supreme Court declared that killing the unborn was the law of the land and so we all had to stop talking about it – except to say how great it all was.  The News never admitted that either the moral or the legal subject were closed, as they weren’t, and as they never can be.

Never did until now.

Maybe Obama’s re-election has shaken people that deep.

Regardless, Detroit no more needs two papers babbling the same moral nonsense than the country needs two political parties promising the same moral nonsense. 

Too bad. Too, too bad.


In Detroit ‘Mistakes Were Made’–And They’re Just Getting Started

Here’s a made-in-Detroit story with almost everything in it that makes my hometown so interesting these days: allegations of civil rights violations by the cops, an astoundingly incompetent city department, and an autocrat too busy pretending to defend the city’s sacred honor to care that she single-handedly cost the city $1.1 million dollars from its bankrupt budget.

According to the Detroit Free Press:

The City of Detroit has been ordered to pay $1.1 million to a man who was rousted out of bed as a 14-year-old, charged with murder and held in a violent juvenile lockup for nearly two years before being acquitted of a fatal shooting in his neighborhood.

Caleb Sosa, now 19, claimed that police violated his civil rights by coercing him to put his initials on a confession that he couldn't even read.

The allegations in his lawsuit were never tested, however, because the case ended in an extraordinary way. A judge declared a default when city lawyers failed the most basic procedural step: They never filed a timely answer in court.

"The judge found that mistakes were made," said Krystal Crittendon, the head of Detroit's law department. (“Detroit ordered to pay man $1.1M in botched murder case”).

Now you Detroit watchers, and especially you court watchers, can especially appreciate that the case ending this way wasn’t extraordinary at all -- not for the Detroit Law Department. Detroit’s lawyers have specialized for years – at least going back to the Young administration -- in failing to answer lawsuits or show up in court to handle the most routine legal chores, racking up default judgments resulting in tens of millions of dollars in damages without plaintiffs ever having to prove a thing in court. And yes, that law-department chief offering the ultra-weak “mistakes were made” excuse in this recent case was none other than Krystal Crittendon, the Detroit Corporation Counsel who’s been holding Detroit hostage since June, and whom the Free Press just finished lionizing a few days before as a “fighter” whose only goal is “doing the right thing.” (“Detroit's controversial counsel Krystal Crittendon speaks out on why she won't stop fighting”).

It may be that the plaintiff in this case had a meritorious case and deserved the award. The Detroit police have been under a federal consent decree for years meant to correct a deeply-embedded departmental disregard for civil rights, and things still aren’t what they should be.

But that’s not really the point. The City of Detroit owes it to taxpayers to at least show up in court and defend these cases to insure that frivolous lawsuits aren’t being filed to fleece the city of money it hasn’t got. I have no doubt that the law department’s longtime reputation for negligence about routine lawyering has meant plenty of plaintiffs with phony claims gambled on winning by default and won.

Crittendon obviously doesn’t care. She’s on a mission she likes better, which is exercising co-equal powers with the mayor and the City Council. Thanks to her, not a single reform that was worked out in a consent agreement between Detroit and the State earlier this year has gone into effect. Detroit voters steeped in racist politics and convinced by their leaders that the only motive outsiders have for wanting to take over Detroit’s many failing departments are malevolent ones, voted this month to change the city charter to give Crittendon the power to interpret for herself the meaning of the city charter, and then to take judicial action on her own initiative to force elected officials to comply whenever she believes there’s been a violation.

Aside from the political insanity of this charter language (imagine a solicitor general with the authority to sue the President and the Congress to force them to abide by his interpretation of the Constitution), Crittendon’s talent for interpreting municipal law is limited. She claimed to believe she represented the citizens directly, rather than as counsel for the elected city government, her bosses. Accordingly, she filed a lawsuit on her own (imaginary) authority to stop the consent agreement from going into effect. The judge threw it out upon the obvious ground that only the mayor or the council can file lawsuits on the city’s behalf. (Notably, when the judge made his ruling, “Crittendon was not in court.”). As for the merits of her argument, she speciously determined that the State of Michigan was one of the city’s “debtors,” and so the city charter prohibited the city from making contracts with anyone in default. It remains to be seen if Crittendon’s logic will be applied the next time an agreement between Michigan and Detroit is made involving the transfer of state funds to the city.

I don’t believe for one second that Crittendon is dumb enough to believe any of this.  My guess is she is yet one more in Detroit’s long, long, line of shrewd opportunists who understands exactly where all Detroit voters’ buttons are, and intends to push them.  My own guess is she wants to be mayor.  How far-fetched is it when we just watched as 63% of Detroit voters willingly amended the city charter to make her co-mayor and a one-woman Supreme Court all rolled into one.  Obviously, she’s already grown beyond the mundane duties of running the law department.


Friday, November 23, 2012

The Other 1 Percent

I know one thing I’m thankful for this year: Fox News, several news websites, and every other alternative media outlet reporting news that would never be reported by the mainstream guys.

If it weren’t for them, the small percentage of Americans who have any idea about what’s going on wouldn’t even have that.

Take reporting on Gaza. To borrow a metaphor from Raymond Chandler, what Americans don’t know about Israel would just about fill up the Rose Bowl. Yesterday the Detroit News, without challenge or follow up, ran the following quotation:

[Imad] Hamad, the senior national adviser and regional president of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, said the cease-fire “is only a temporary step that will fail again and again if the root of the conflict is not removed, which is the occupation and lifting the siege."

But there is no occupation of Gaza by Israel. As Israeli President Shimon Peres said, Hamas can’t possibly say it’s firing rockets at Israel because of the occupation. “’It cannot be argued that Gaza is occupied. Israel left Gaza willingly (during the disengagement in 2005 –ed.), yet they target our children as they are leaving for school.’” (“Peres: There is No 'Occupation' in Gaza”).

This isn’t an issue of spin, or of a complex set of facts upon which reasonable minds may differ. Even Hamas doesn’t pretend there’s an occupation. Last January Hamas co-founder Mahmoud Zahar confirmed:

[T]here is no Israeli occupation of Gaza, according to a report published by Ma’an, a Bethlehem- based Palestinian news agency.

Zahar was casting doubt on whether Hamas would organize anti-Israel marches in Gaza in conjunction with similar protests that the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority would organize in the West Bank. 

“Against whom could we demonstrate in the Gaza Strip? When Gaza was occupied, that model was applicable,” Zahar said.

The radical Islamist organization has merely recognized the obvious: that after Israel in 2005 dismantled its military administration in Gaza, forcibly evicted all Israeli residents and withdrew every last soldier, Israel no longer occupies the territory by any legal definition or other sense of the term. (“Hamas says Gaza ‘not occupied’; UN disagrees”).

As noted in the Jerusalem Post, the UN continues to disregard all of that in order to keep defining Gaza as an “occupied” area, a false legal position

that has the effect, if not intent, of justifying Palestinian terrorism as “resistance to occupation,” undermining Israel’s ability to invoke its inherent right of self-defense against deadly rockets fired from Gaza, and, not least, dehumanizing Israelis as the demonic and faceless “occupier.”

This way the Palestinians are never to blame for repeatedly calling down Israeli munitions on their own houses, shops, and children.

Four-and-a-half years after seizing power in Gaza, Hamas runs its own police, courts, jails, schools, media and social services, noted Abraham Bell and Dov Shefi, two international legal experts, in a 2010 research paper for the University of San Diego law school.

Hamas regulates business activities, banks and land registries. It levies taxes, controls its own borders and even imposes a dress code. In sum, wrote Bell and Shefi, Hamas operates “a functioning and fully independent local civil government, buttressed by armed forces.”

In late 2008, the last time Israel had to get tough with Hamas to get them to stop launching rockets, Imad Hamad called Israeli actions against Hamas rocket launchers “a true genocide,” and Arab American News publisher Osama Siblani was quoted in his own newspaper defending Hamas: “The source of the problem is the occupation of Gaza," he said. "They are defending themselves from 60 years of brutal occupation.’" (“Hundreds protest Gaza bombardment in second local demonstration”)

As we noted at the time, Siblani “doesn’t mean Gaza has been occupied for 60 years, he means Israel has existed for 60 years, and that is what's intolerable to him.” (“Dearborn's Jihadist Newspaper”).

The Associated Press, in its article Wednesday giving all the credit for this fragile truce to Egypt’s newest dictator, President Mohammed Morsi, (“[a]n Islamist leader who refuses to talk to Israelis or even say the country’s name”) plays down the Muslim Brotherhood’s intransigence as best it can: “In ideology, the Brotherhood supports the use of force against Israel to liberate ‘Muslim lands.’” Sounds almost reasonable, until you figure out that the Brotherhood interprets “Muslim lands” as every square inch of Israel, no matter which set of borders anyone is talking about.

The Hamas Charter provides that “the land of Palestine has been an Islamic Waqf throughout the generations and until the Day of Resurrection, no one can renounce it or part of it, or abandon it or part of it. . . .” and that “Nothing is loftier or deeper in Nationalism than waging Jihad against the enemy and confronting him when he sets foot on the land of the Muslims.”

Only two months ago, the Brotherhood's supreme leader, Mohammed Badie, proclaimed that regaining Jerusalem can "only come through holy jihad."  Need I point out that Jerusalem is not in Gaza?

With few exceptions, in most reporting I’ve barely heard a word breathed of this fairly relevant sticking point to the diplomats’ grand illusion of a two-state solution.


Lies, Damned Lies, Statistics–and Newspapers

The ever-interesting news on America’s abortion culture includes a recent 5% drop in the abortion rate, “the biggest one-year decrease in at least a decade, perhaps because women are more careful to use birth control when times are tough, researchers say.” (“U.S. abortions fall 5%, biggest drop in a decade”).

The AP says, Some experts theorize that some women believed they couldn't afford to get pregnant. . . . ‘They stick to straight and narrow ... and they are more careful about birth control,’ said Elizabeth Ananat, a Duke University assistant professor of public policy and economics who has researched abortions.”

I’ve stared at these statements for a long time trying to make the logic come clearer, but without success.

Is this meant to say that when times are good women believe they can be careless about birth control because they can more easily afford – which? A baby? -- or an abortion?  Or is the experts’ statement that “some women believed they couldn't afford to get pregnant” meant to imply (because it does imply this whether it’s meant to or not) that “couldn’t afford to get pregnant” actually means “couldn’t afford to use abortion as last-gap birth control”?

And hasn’t the excuse of women who “cannot afford to have another child” been a staple rationalization for cheap and barely regulated abortion ever since forever? Then how is it that when more and more women have less and less money because times are tough, the abortion rate is going up instead of down?

At least the usual trend is still holding of unmarried Hispanic women getting rid of their unborn children at more than twice the rate that white women do, and black women at more than four times the rate.

It’s also still the case that the media makes helpful observations about  such as that the “majority of abortions are performed by the eighth week of pregnancy, when the fetus is about the size of a lima bean.”  The size of a lima bean, perhaps. But an abortion is still not the equivalent of destroying a lima bean.

According to the AP, “While experts estimate there are more than 1 million abortions nationwide each year, the CDC counted about 785,000 in 2009 because of incomplete reporting.” The AP then reports this related scientific anomaly: “The CDC identified 12 abortion-related deaths in 2009.”

While we’re pretty sure that the number of unreported deaths (“because of incomplete reporting”) was vastly larger in 2009 than 12, I see an even bigger problem with the CDC’s arithmetic.

Didn’t the CDC actually identify 785,012 abortion-related deaths in 2009?


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Distinctions Matter As Much as Ever

Caroline Glick has some hard but valuable comments at NRO about the flaws in conservative foreign policy relating to the Muslim world since the days of the Bush administration:

During the Bush years, the so-called neoconservative camp believed it had formulated the means of convincing an American electorate dominated by the leftist media to support the projection of American power in the Islamic world. Claiming, and believing, that the purpose of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan was to liberate otherwise tolerant and liberal-minded Muslims from the yoke of authoritarian governments, neoconservatives promoted an argument that permitted Republicans to avoid making the hard case for victory.

Even more destructively, the neoconservative campaign to make the Islamic world ripe for democracy necessarily ignored the larger pathologies there that rendered the totalitarian dogma of the Muslim Brotherhood the most salient and popular ideology among Sunni Muslims. The neoconservatives’ focus on democratization blinded them to the fact that authoritarian and problematic allies like Mubarak were often the only possible allies available to the United States. Finally, the neoconservatives’ insistence that the urge toward democracy and freedom is universal led to their failure in places such as Iraq and Egypt to use U.S. resources wisely. If everyone is just like us, then there is no reason to cultivate the habits of liberty. There is no reason to empower women. There is no reason to financially and politically support nascent and weak democratic forces or to postpone elections until the scales are properly tipped in the direction of moderate forces congruent with U.S. interests. There is no reason to support Christian minorities. There is no reason to insist on the normalization of relations between countries such as post-Saddam Iraq and Israel. (“The Party of Victory”).

In the intervening Obama term, the Republican Party never seriously reconsidered these policies, resulting in Mitt Romney adopting them as-is in his own campaign. “And as a consequence,” explains Glick,  “his endorsement of Palestinian statehood and of Obama’s abandonment of Mubarak made it impossible for Romney to draw a meaningful distinction between Obama’s foreign policy and the foreign policy Romney himself would follow if elected.”

Glick concludes this way, with my highlighting added:

There are two reasons that it is essential today for the Republican party and the conservative movement to reassess their foreign-policy positions and sharpen the distinctions between their positions and those of the Obama administration. First, while we cannot say exactly how Obama’s policy of appeasing jihadists will play out, its trajectory is clear, inevitable, and dangerous for America. When the dangers become obvious to the American public, the Republicans will have to have a clear, distinct vision and plan for American foreign policy. If they fail to present one, they will not only hurt themselves. They will hurt their nation.

Second, today and in the coming months and years, there will be a lot of soul-searching in the Republican party and the conservative movement over what went wrong in the 2012 elections. And with that soul-searching will come the inevitable temptation to adopt the Democrats’ policy of appeasement in a bid to woo various constituencies — suburban mothers, for example, and perhaps Muslim communities in Michigan, Tennessee, Minnesota, and other states. But Republicans must understand that, while this is tempting, it is a recipe for repeated electoral defeats. Democrats will always and forever be able to out-appease Republicans. And so constituencies that want the American government to appease our enemies will always and forever vote for them. If the Republicans wish to return to power in the foreseeable future, they must boldly draw a distinction between themselves as the party of victory and the Democrats as the party of defeat.


Friday, November 09, 2012

Where In the World Is California San Diego?

geo 2

From the New York Daily News:

Map lays out racist election tweets, most originated from southeast

A flurry of racist tweets that followed President Barack Obama’s re-election came primarily from southern states, according to a map that geographically pinpointed the point of origin of the hate speech. 

Tweets calling the president a “monkey” or using racial epithets prompted a group of geography experts to try and break down whether the hateful language was more prevalent in some areas of the country than others. 

As it turns out, it was.

The bigoted tweets serve as a “useful reminder that technology reflects the society in which it is based, both the good and the bad,” said geography research group Floating Sheep.

The group took 365 tweets and laid them over a color-coded map of the United States to analyze the frequency of hate tweets compared to the frequency of election-related tweets in that state. 

Mississippi and Alabama had the highest ratio of racist tweets. They were followed by Georgia, Louisiana, Tennessee, forming a “fairly distinctive cluster in the southeast” of online hate speech, the research finds.

The accomplishments of this geographical brain trust should comfort those of you who’ve been worried (as I’ve been) about what America’s geographers, no longer employed writing school textbooks for their obsolete and irrelevant subject, have been doing with their time.

Mapping all 365 tweets, a shocking chunk of the 2 million tweets per week Twitter identified as mentioning Romney or Obama in August 2012 (out of 400 million per day on all other topics) may someday rival the Lewis & Clark expedition as a 21st century charting of the nation’s wild and abundant sources of hate. Even if America remains 117th of 193 countries for geographical knowledge , no one comes near the exquisite language skills that enable us to immediately recognize that “pickup truck,” “Chicago,” and “apartment” are code words for “We wanna put y’all back in chains.”   

So what if young voters who turned out for Obama on Tuesday may not be able to name the capitals of all 57 states, or list the chief exports of East Virginia or any of the other Middle Eastern states?  Now they can make informed travel plans knowing that Mississippi, Alabama, North Dakota, Utah, and Missouri are full of hate, but “the west and northwest” states are hate-free, “with the exception of Oregon.”

One anomaly of the map, which I’m confident will soon be explained, is the prevalence of red dots of hate speech in so many non-southern states that turned out for Obama, such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey,  Delaware, and cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco (and Chicago).  And how is it possible that Wyoming, where Dick Cheney is known to lurk patiently in his web of evil for his next victim to become ensnared, is completely dot-free?  

In case anyone is interested, an alternative consortium geo-located a tiny blip of 365,000 internet references to George W. Bush as “Bushitler” and a “chimp” to New York City, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and similarly sophisticated regions that send heavy traffic to Democratic Underground and the Daily Kos.


You Must Be This Tall To Terminate Your Baby

Everything’s suddenly upside down. Bill O’Reilly is talking sense, and Ann Coulter is talking nonsense.

In her most recent column, Ann takes quite a swipe at Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock whom, she charges, “[i]n order to be pro-life badasses,” argued “for abortion positions that less than 1 percent of the nation agrees with.” (“Don’t Blame Romney):

No law is ever going to require a woman to bear the child of her rapist. Yes, it's every bit as much a life as an unborn child that is not the product of rape. But sentient human beings are capable of drawing gradations along a line.

Of course sentient beings are capable of drawing gradations along a line. I’m proudly casuistical myself, never happier than when making fine distinctions and recognizing gradations where appropriate. Spectrums and gradients are particularly suited to questions about civil unions for homosexuals, or the strictness of enforcement is immigrations law, or whether or not the Second Amendment entitles you to mount twin .50-caliber machine guns on the roof of your car.

But where issues of deliberate killing are concerned measuring by degrees is almost never appropriate – if nothing else because death isn’t a thing of degrees, just like there’s no such thing as being a little bit pregnant.

The moral premise that underlies all rational thinking about abortion – namely, that all humans enjoy a right to life -- can’t be defended with a ruler: it requires a wall. In legal parlance, it needs a “bright line,” a flaming demarcation establishing a distinction that no one can claim confusion about. By and large liberals avoid bright lines, vastly preferring continuums and spectrums for being blissfully barrier-free.   A spectrum has no tyrannical borders dictating where blue becomes green, and on a sexual continuum Alex and Alexis can be the same person without the ugly necessity of labels.  Even Harvard grads can be agnostic about when human life begins!

On the other hand, a bright line has no gradations, because its object isn’t to measure points along a continuum, but to divide absolutely what is black from what is white. And while it’s true not every moral issue is black and white, and that not every issue requires a bright-line rule, the right-to-life issue does. Every time we forget to insist that the lives of the unborn are an absolute, ten million more of them get wrapped up as medical waste.

By logical necessity, this bright line excludes the possibility that any unborn children can be stranded, without legal protection, on the far side of the line.  But let that barrier get turned over sideways and painted as a scale – let’s call it the hard-case scale –  and it’s no longer able to guard the sacredness of life.  Instead, it’s only good for assigning a value to a mother’s tragic circumstances. In every single case pro-abortionists will use this scale to measure out woe enough to justify abortion. And that’s exactly how it’s been used, with sickening success, for more than forty years, from those mythical days when trimesters and viability were supposed to measure out protections for unborn lives, all the way to today’s terminations at any time, even after a live birth in cases of botched abortions.

Ann Coulter surely knows the pro-life bright line well; she relies on it to gauge, correctly, that the child of a rapist is “every bit as much a life as an unborn child that is not the product of rape.”  But she inexplicably abandons the sacred line for another one  for “drawing gradations along,” the same kind of ruler the liberals use.  And when you use their ruler, you have to use their rules.

Accordingly, this week of all weeks, we have our pro-life heroine arguing that “[t]he overwhelming majority of people -- including me -- are going to say the law shouldn’t force someone who has been raped to carry the child.”

Which astonishes me for this reason: I can’t find any difference  between this statement of hers and the same old pro-abortion lecture we’ve heard for years that the law shouldn’t force anyone who is pregnant with any unwanted baby to carry the child.  The demonic genius by which pro-abortion doctrine was repackaged  as “pro-choice” -- i.e., the pretense of personally regretting abortions while not wanting to “impose one’s beliefs on others” – has empowered decades of successful redefinitions of every imaginable restriction on abortion, even laws to merely insure a woman is making an informed decision, as “forcing” a woman to bear a child against her will.

Oddly, we know Ann Coulter doesn’t believe that laws restricting most abortions are impermissible force. She says right in this week’s article that, rape being the exception, “abortion should be illegal in most other cases.” But she never explains how she distinguishes between a legally impermissible killing in most other cases and one we’re insane if we don’t accept as legally permissible (and I presume morally permissible) in the case of rape.  What objective standard enables her to determine that, for lack of meeting a minimum criterion of grief and unhappiness, a different mother’s decision to abort her child must be prohibited by law?  The only measurable criterion she’s described is, in cases of  conception of a child by rape, there’s a higher degree of tragedy and suffering involved for the mother.

We’ve had forty years to learn just how liberals apply abortion-metrics without an objective standard: grant liberals their argument that a mile of trouble entitles this woman to destroy her unborn child, and they’ll insist that only a half inch of trouble entitles that woman to the same thing.  If not, why not?  That’s where drawing gradations on a line gets us in this fight.

No one on our side is denying the measure of tragedy implied in a pregnancy caused by rape.   From what I’ve read of it, neither Akin nor Mourdock ever intended to deny, nor did deny, any such thing.  Both men were caught short trying to ad lib debate answers when they stepped in an ethical quicksand that, frankly, only the most morally shallow person could have attempted to cross without sinking. If anything got the two of them off balance, it was their own logical consistency. Didn’t they both hold Ann’s own opinion that the child of a rapist is “every bit as much a life as an unborn child that is not the product of rape”?   Ergo . . .

The difference is, they wrestled with the logic of it under pressure and very publicly stumbled, while she has, at her leisure, now thrown logic aside  in favor of a sliding scale of pathos.


Saturday, November 03, 2012

Don’t Mind the Maggots

I wouldn’t have thought there was enough left of this old apple for anyone to try another bite, but CAIR – Michigan is taking yet one more chomp out of the death of Imam Luqman Abdullah.

CAIR attorney Lena Masri is co-counsel on a federal wrongful-death and civil-rights lawsuit filed last Friday on behalf of Abdullah’s estate. Abdullah, was killed by FBI agents three years ago after opening fire during an FBI raid. Abdullah was leader of a radical mosque in Detroit whose “primary mission is to establish a separate, sovereign Islamic state (“The Ummah”) within the borders of the United States, governed by Shariah law.”  Last Friday’s lawsuit

is based on an affidavit of Muhammad Abdul Salaam, 48, a Detroit man with multiple criminal convictions who was with Abdullah at the time of the shooting. The suit says federal agents used excessive force to take down Abdullah and failed to give him medical attention after they shot him. In the affidavit, Salaam said Abdullah didn't have or use any gun, and was killed by gunshots as he was trying to protect himself from the police dog. The FBI has said the dog was shot dead by Abdullah, which the lawsuit denies. (“Family of Detroit Muslim leader files suit challenging official story”).

Salaam, according to the federal complaint filed against Abdullah in 2009, “is a devout follower and close associate of Luqman Ameen Abdullah . . . [and] had a significant position of authority within the Masjid Al-Haqq, the Detroit mosque that Abdullah led.”

Salaam also has:

 “’at least five prior felony convictions’ from 1977 to 1985, according to the complaint filed by the FBI in October 2009. The convictions included carrying a concealed weapon, larceny and fraudulent activity. He was known as ‘the gun man’ because of his ‘large cache of weapons stored at various residences, including pistols, AK47s, Mini 14s, 45 Commandos, 12-gauge shotguns and other rifles’ the complaint said.”

None of which means he is lying under oath now, of course.  We must be fair.  But there were at least three other people along with Salaam  arrested that day, and none of their affidavits are included, which means Salaam is the best witness CAIR has, and undoubtedly the only one willing  to perjure himself in this way.  As a general matter, key witnesses who have prior fraud convictions don’t usually help win lawsuits.

According to a report prepared by the Michigan Attorney General after all the numerous other investigations had concluded, Abdullah began the fire fight when he shot the FBI
K-9, Freddy, who had been unleashed onto Abdullah only after  Abdullah refused several agent orders to show his hands. Abdullah’s gun that day was a stolen 9mm handgun. The AG reports said:

The 9mm firearm recovered from Abdullah was analyzed by the FBI lab. There were no usable latent prints found on the handgun-a finding not uncommon with firearms. However, the bullet fragments removed from the K-9 were found to be consistent with bullets fired from the handgun and not consistent with those fired from FBI rifles. Further, the three spent handgun casings were positively identified as having been fired from the handgun  recovered from Abdullah. A 17-round clip was in the handgun and had 14 live rounds remaining.

It is noteworthy that the ammunition loaded in the handgun was compatible, by brand and caliber, with ammunition later seized from Abdullah’s residence. This physical evidence is consistent with the statements that Abdullah, not the agents, shot the dog.

The AG report also points out that the FBI team were all armed with .223 rifles. All the FBI rounds that hit Abdullah were .223 rifle rounds, and were all accounted for.  That left only the handgun rounds that killed Freddy.

We’re aware that the skeptical audience at whom this lawsuit is aimed are more than willing to accept that the FBI brought that handgun with them that day for the very purpose of planting it on Abdullah’s corpse. Such things have been known to happen. That would require, if one takes into account the physical evidence, also believing the FBI shot their own K-9 while “assassinating” Abdullah.  That, in turn, requires believing that some sharpshooting agent managed to shoot Freddy with a stolen handgun simultaneously as other agents fired 20 rifle rounds into Abdullah, an event that was established to have lasted not longer than four seconds.   This deadeye agent also had to manage to shoot Freddy without putting any tell-tale handgun rounds into the imam, who was allegedly mauling Abdullah.  And then one has to believe that Salaam and the other eyewitnesses were spared by the 30 ruthless FBI conspirators and agents-provocateurs to live and tell the tale.

Far-fetched as Salaam’s sworn statements are, the purpose of his affidavit is strictly to prevent government lawyers from getting this suit stopped in its tracks as lacking any factual merit. Because Salaam’s statement on the record contradicts the official accounts (and the evidence), the resulting dispute over the facts will force the trial judge to allow the lawsuit to proceed to a jury. Even if CAIR and Abdullah’s survivors ultimately lose, that still means at least a two-year process full of opportunities for publicity, grandstanding, and CAIR mischief -- and Dawa.


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Obama at the Bat

What I hear consistently from media outlets featuring black callers defending President Obama, is that his lack of success can all be blamed on his not having been “given a chance.” Basically, his failures to meet almost all of his promised goals during his first term can’t be counted against him; he needs at least eight years to accomplish what he campaigned on accomplishing in less than four. These comments are invariably followed up with a litany of grievances I can usually chant along with. Congress blocked him. Republicans can’t stand the idea of a black man in the White House. He was left a big mess by George Bush.

An hour ago I heard what sounded like an older black woman, excited about finally getting through on C-SPAN to deliver the message that she hasn’t heard anybody saying. She then proceeded to repeat what I have heard untold scores of black callers, most of them older women like her, say on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal for the past year, at least twice every ten minutes, every weekday morning, no matter what the topic of the program segment. And today the gist of the caller’s never-before-heard message was: How dare they criticize Obama’s failures in office when they did everything they could from the very beginning to force him to fail. She wanted everyone to know that the Republicans got together and did that just because they couldn’t stand to see Obama succeed, because he is a Black Man.

As many weeks as this lady’s been on hold trying to get on C-SPAN, you’d think she would have noticed the other 371 callers who’ve said exactly the same thing.

Now I know this message is nonsense, and most of you know this it’s nonsense, and I’m fairly certain that most of the American people, even those who are planning to vote for Obama, know it’s nonsense, too. But to anyone who happens to believe it’s not nonsense, that it’s all true, I would say this about President Obama not having been given a chance:

Granted he faced serious resistance from the opposing party when he took office. But every single one of his predecessors has faced the same, and the adversarial quality of our political system was well-known to Obama, seeing as he spent his entire career trying to advance in it.

That he would face political opposition was also something he knew perfectly well long before he asked for the job of president, as was the existence of a serious deficit, as well as a faltering economy, the wars, Guantanamo, all of it. Before he was elected Obama claimed he had mastered the details of every one of these things, and told voters that he would fix them all, and then failed to fix any of them. All the things Obama failed at were not things Republicans had just thrown across his path after he got into the Oval Office to deny him success: all the things Obama failed at were all the problems he’d promised to solve from the moment he announced his intention to run, and then didn’t solve.

Proposing a remedial second term for Obama so he has more time to fix what he couldn’t get fixed during his first term is not a serious political viewpoint: it’s affirmative-action thinking imposed on the presidency. The tragedy of it, like the tragedy of most affirmative action thinking, is that it reinforces the racist idea that black progress and success is conditioned upon whites not conspiring to keep blacks back. As Ann Coulter has put it in her latest book, Mugged: Racial Demagoguery from the Seventies to Obama, “The initial lie from which all other lies flow is the idea that black people’s condition in America depends on white people’s beneficence.” And when I say that’s racist thinking, it’s not whites who are being poisoned by it, but blacks.

Even if it the tired and slanderous myth of the racist Republicans weren’t nonsense, (which it is), what should it matter that Obama had opponents who wanted him to fail? Let’s assume that it’s all true, and that all Republicans really do oppose Obama for no other reason than revulsion at sharing Planet Earth with a Successful Black Man. How has Obama performed in the face of it?

There were plenty of Democratic rednecks who wanted Joe Louis to fail, there were plenty of Nazi Aryans who wanted Jesse Owens to fail, and plenty of cracker major-league players who wanted Jackie Robinson to fail. The very greatness of these guys is that they all succeeded in the very face of all that. Joe Louis retained his heavyweight title in 1938 not by arranging for his corrupt attorney general to declare his hanging onto it a civil right, but by beating Max Schmeling in less than two rounds. Robinson excelled on the Brooklyn Dodgers in spite of “racial taunts and slurs, on the field and off, death threats, character assassination, and about anything else a prejudiced person could think of to throw at him.” And in the process, “showed his enemies who was the better person.”

But Obama’s not great that way, and never has been. He fooled a lot of people to get elected (he does excel at that), but most of his supporters know his limits by now, the way lots of us could plainly see them then. A lot of Democrats, like the Clintons, knew he was just an empty suit in 2008, even before he played the race card on them. As late as January 2008 Hillary was still the favorite among black women. Obama wasn’t even lionized by most Democrats until well along into the election. Some criticized him as not really black enough. I can remember when Jesse Jackson talked about wanting “to cut his nuts off,” and then wept openly on Election Night knowing that from that day on the Secret Service would forever deny him the chance to do it.

The tragedy of Obama’s term in office was that America’s first black chief executive turned out to be one of its worst. His chance to prove he could succeed lay solely in succeeding, something he was manifestly not equipped to do. And now that he hasn’t succeeded, supporters whose minds are creased with affirmative-action thinking explain it to one another as just another case of a Black Man cheated of success by being denied a level playing field -- as if any President of the United States ever walked onto a level playing field! I can remember a great line from Fred Barnes to the effect that anything George Bush accomplished had to be done against 60% of the public and 100% of the press.

And when it’s come to treatment by the press, Obama never had to face the ordinary criticism every president before him has. Journalists from New York to LA willing to compromise their own integrity to run interference for him.

The president’s supporters like to talk about him as if he’s the Willie Mays of American politics, but then make excuses that the only reason he went down swinging is that, instead of the Tee-Ball he was prepared to smack, he found himself trying to hit pitches thrown by someone from another team actually trying to strike him out.

And there went my perfect record of six years of blogging without once employing a sports metaphor.


Outlawed in Oregon: Tattoos Announcing, ‘I’m Sterile Now!’

Oregon is that surreal place where you aren't trusted to pump your own gas, but if you'd like to kill yourself, the State is there to assist you.

-- Carl E. Olson, Welcome to Oregon, the State of Teenage Sterilization!"

Whatever else one might say for 15-year-olds, most people would agree it’s not typical of the class to completely think things through. It’s nothing for a 15-year-old to undergo an epiphany of some kind or other, after which she’ll dramatically inform parents and friends that from this day forward she’ll never again eat anything with a face, has realized that she has always been and will always be a lesbian, or has made up her mind that the best thing she can do for her personal appearance is to improve it with tattoos.

While there’s always room in the future to reconsider the first two of these decisions, the people of Oregon realized the sense in throwing up legal safeguards to protect impulsive teenagers marring themselves all over with injected ink. According to the Oregon Health Licensing Agency:

In Oregon, tattooing is prohibited on anyone under the age of 18-regardless of parental or legal guardian consent. In other words, even if you had given your daughter permission, the tattoo artist who gave her the tattoo would be in violation of state law and subject to disciplinary action.

Unfortunately, the wisdom  Oregonians showed in the case of teenage tattooing turned out to be a finite supply.  And combining that with the longstanding influence of Planned Parenthood in the state, supercharged most recently by Obamacare, a 15-year-old’s decision to deprive herself permanently of the capacity for bearing children is both legal, and can be undertaken (of course) without regard for the consent of parent or guardian:

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Forget the milestones of obtaining a driver's license at 16 and being able to legally drink at 21 - getting sterilized at 15 is now the first step in the social maturity process of an American youth. 

The "Required Health Plan Coverage Guidelines" set forth by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services states: "Non-grandfathered plans and issuers are required to provide coverage without cost-sharing consistent with these guidelines in the first plan year that begins on or after August 1, 2012. All [FDA] approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity." 

Under Oregon State Law, the state's revised statutes (ORS) defines "informed consent" for 15-year-olds independently pursuing reproductive sterilization as being "(a) Based upon a full understanding of the nature and consequences of sterilization pursuant to information requirements set forth in ORS 436.225(1); (b) Given by an individual competent to make such a decision; and (c) Wholly voluntary and free from coercion, express or implied." 

So you need parental consent to contract a state-sanctioned marriage under the age of 18 in the U.S., but you, all by yourself, can give full consent to the irreversibility of sterilization at 15? Chances are, you do not even know your future spouse, yet you're already determining his or her fate as well? 

Oregon's consent form, specific for the sterilizations of 15 to 20-year-olds, reads, "I understand that the sterilization must be considered permanent and not reversible. I have decided that I do not want to become pregnant, bear children or father children." In the case that the patient does not speak or read English, an interpreter is permitted to assist the patient "to the best of [his] knowledge and belief" in the signing away of the patient's reproductive capacity. (“Obamacare Begins Child Sterilization, Without Parental Consent”).

A 15-year-old may honestly mean it when she signs a statement that she understands a decision is permanent and not reversible.   That’s not the point.  But she still understands “permanent” within the confines of the limited experience of a teenager. How many young people commit suicide because they can’t gauge that an excruciating, but ultimately temporary, problem tormenting them will pass – if measured from the experience of one much older – by the passage of hardly much more time? For many 15-year-olds, the rest of one’s life simply can’t be brought into focus  much past the end of high school, and then a bit more into the foggy future beyond.

Even Oregon’s atrocious assisted suicide law forbids “death with dignity” to minors.   But then Oregonians probably aren’t as ideologically driven to terminate other Oregonians to the same degree they’re determined to prevent too many of them from being born.


Saturday, October 27, 2012

Sharmeka Moffitt: I’ll Say ‘There’s Something Wrong Here’

muggedNo sooner do I finish reading a thoroughly-researched recounting, by Ann Coulter in her latest book, Mugged: Racial Demagoguery from the Seventies to Obama, of years of hoax racial atrocities staged by black faux victims to exploit the racial guilt of white Americans than yet one more is being reported just this week.

From HuffPo:

UPDATE: 6:19 p.m. -- Tuesday afternoon police reported that they now believe Louisiana woman Sharmeka Moffitt's story about being lit on fire in a race-related attack was fabricated. Police now believe that she wrote "KKK" and "n---er" on her car and lit herself on fire.

The Franklin Sun reports that Moffitt's fingerprints were found on the cigarette lighter and lighter fluid recovered in the wooded area near the crime scene. The writings on the car, written in toothpaste, were linked to female DNA.  (“Sharmeka Moffitt, Louisiana Woman, May Have Set Herself On Fire In Dubious Race-Related Attack”).

During a press conference Winnsboro Police Chief Lester Thomas said, “‘All of the evidence is pointing back to the victim inflicting this upon herself,” Thomas added. “No evidence has shown any other person was involved.’”

On Tuesday Moffitt was still in critical condition and couldn’t be questioned by police.

HuffPo’s previous reporting on the story sounded like this: 

A Louisiana woman was the victim of a horrific attack during which she was reportedly set on fire and had her car defiled with the letters "KKK," police reported Monday.

Sharmeka Moffitt, a 20-year-old African-American woman, made an emergency call to police on Sunday night claiming three men wearing white hoods or hats attacked her, doused her with flammable liquid and set her on fire at a park in Winnsboro, La., CBS News reports. Moffitt, who said she was unable to identify the race of her attackers, was able to extinguish the fire with a water spigot before police arrived.

Was this just one more hoax (that turned out to be more dangerous than Moffitt intended), part of a current surge of “racial mau-mauing” Coulter unleashed by liberals in their desperate goal of winning Obama’s re-election? HuffPo reported that Moffitt’s mother denied initial reports that “her daughter was wearing an Obama T-shirt at the time of the attack.”

This part hasn’t been updated yet to read that Moffitt’s mother denied initial reports that “her daughter was wearing an Obama T-shirt at the time she staged a racial hate crime to get a lot of people really, really angry on false pretenses.” 

Who knows, maybe Sharmeka had somehow gotten hold of Ann’s book herself, and then simply misunderstood that it was a critique, not a how-to guide.  The response of the cops to what they themselves figured out was a complete racial hoax could have been droppedword-for-word  into Ann’s book and fit perfectly: 

Police Chief Lester Thomas said that regardless of the outcome, this tragic event is still a heavy burden, according to The Franklin Sun. Franklin Parish Sheriff Kevin Cobb added: "Although I think what she did was wrong and had major consequences not only for her, but throughout our community and our country, there's something wrong here, and we need to help individuals like this. In the same way our community came to support her as a victim, I still hope the community will support her emotional and physical recovery."

This time, unlike the cases of Tawana Brawley, Rodney KingCrown Heights, and others, the hoax was exposed before anybody, white or black, had to get killed due to violent backlashes against an imaginary KKK attack on Sharmeka.   But that very well could have happened. And, all due deference  to Sharmeka’s current condition (and no more than what’s due) – a condition that is the sole result of her own self-inflicted injuries -- if there had been victims of racial retaliation as a result of this vicious hoax, it would have been insane to ask the community to “support her as a victim.”

[“A would be armed robber of a local convenience store was seriously injured last night when the cheap Saturday Night Special he tried to shoot the unarmed  clerk with blew up in his own hand. Police are appealing to the community that, whatever happened here, the injured man needs to be supported as a victim.”]

If her actions show that Sharmeka is a victim of anything, then she’s a victim of the exact same “racial mau-mauing” that Ann Coulter is talking about.   Whether she burned herself up while wearing an Obama t-shirt or not, it’s obvious enough to me that Sharmeka on some level viewed herself as a warrior doing her part in a non-existent national race war, a lie spoon-fed to her by liberals and race hustlers in her own community her entire life.