Free Markets, Free People

Bruce McQuain

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Love, inclusion and diversity in academia

In reality the left is everything it condemns and is apparently not bright enough to know it:

A University of Michigan department chairwoman has published an article titled, “It’s Okay To Hate Republicans,” which will probably make all of her conservative students feel really comfortable and totally certain that they’re being graded fairly.

“I hate Republicans,” communications department chairwoman and professor Susan J. Douglas boldly declares in the opening of the piece. “I can’t stand the thought of having to spend the next two years watching Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Ted Cruz, Darrell Issa or any of the legions of other blowhards denying climate change, thwarting immigration reform or championing fetal ‘personhood.’”

She writes that although the fact that her “tendency is to blame the Republicans . . . may seem biased,” historical and psychological research back her up, and so it’s basically actually a fact that Republicans are bad! . . .

Republicans now, she writes, are focused on the “determined vilification” of others, and have “crafted a political identity that rests on a complete repudiation of the idea that the opposing party and its followers have any legitimacy.

Wow … irony anyone?

~McQ

I continue to find this sad, pathetic and hilarious

No not Obama’s decision to improve relations with Cuba – that’s pretty par for this president.  If anyone is surprised, you shouldn’t be.   As one person noted, he has to be among the worst negotiators in the world – although Bowe Bergdahl might disagree (btw, what was the finding of that Army investigation?).

Instead I’m talking about this absurdity going on in academia where poor traumatized students expect their professors to delay or cancel their finals because, you know, there’s injustice in the world.  Another way to define “injustice” for these special snowflakes is any decision that goes against the narrative they prefer.

So, we have students demanding that their colleges and universities heed their trauma and give them what they want – delayed exams.

Of course there have been the usual capitulations – Harvard, Columbia.   But not, surprisingly, at liberal Oberlin College.  In fact, when a particular student wrote to a professor to ask that the school do what Harvard and Columbia have done, she got a very short, terse and to the point reply.  One word.  “No.”  I admit, I laughed.

The student then put the email on her Facebook account and issued a “trigger warning”.  No, seriously, a trigger warning.

“TRIGGER WARNING: Violent language regarding an extremely dismissive response from a professor. This is an email exchange I had with my professor this evening. … We are obviously not preaching to the choir. Professors and administration at Oberlin need to be held accountable for their words and actions and have a responsibility to their students.”

Yes, I laughed again.  She’s a Freshman and has decided she runs the place.  You can read her email and the prof’s reply here.

Speaking of “triggers”, this is what’s going on at Harvard in that regard:

Students seem more anxious about classroom discussion, and about approaching the law of sexual violence in particular, than they have ever been in my eight years as a law professor. Student organizations representing women’s interests now routinely advise students that they should not feel pressured to attend or participate in class sessions that focus on the law of sexual violence, and which might therefore be traumatic. These organizations also ask criminal-law teachers to warn their classes that the rape-law unit might “trigger” traumatic memories. Individual students often ask teachers not to include the law of rape on exams for fear that the material would cause them to perform less well. One teacher I know was recently asked by a student not to use the word “violate” in class—as in “Does this conduct violate the law?”—because the word was triggering. Some students have even suggested that rape law should not be taught because of its potential to cause distress.

You know, I thought academia was supposed to prepare students for the real world.  Instead, it appears it is all about letting them build their own fantasy world.  How in the world, given this line of “reasoning”, does someone who is a victim of this sort of crime hope to get competent representation from a bunch of pansies who are afraid to talk about it?

Robby Soave brings it home:

It’s time to admit that appeasing students’ seemingly unlimited senses of personal victimhood entitlement, unenlightened views about public discourse, and thinly-veiled laziness is not merely wrong, but actively dangerous. Colleges are supposed to prepare young people to succeed in the real world; they do students no favors by infantilizing them. But worse than that, by bending over backwards to satisfy the illiberal mob, colleges are doling out diplomas to people who are prepared for neither real life nor their eventual professions. Should medical colleges abdicate their responsibility to instruct students on how to administer a rape kit to a victim, or ask a victim difficult questions about her trauma, because that discussion is triggering to some of the students?

It would be better for professors to instruct students on how to confront their uncomfortable emotions and grow beyond them, but alas, that seems less and less common.

Ya think?!  However, what we have here is a bunch of academics hoist on their own petard.  They helped build this absurd world and now they’re stuck living with their creation.

~McQ

Interesting, but not surprising

The first shoe drops on the President’s executive amnesty order:

According to the opinion by Judge Arthur Schwab, the president’s policy goes “beyond prosecutorial discretion” in that it provides a relatively rigid framework for considering applications for deferred action, thus obviating any meaningful case-by-case determination as prosecutorial discretion requires, and provides substantive rights to applicable individuals.  As a consequence,  Schwab concluded, the action exceeds the scope of executive authority.

Ya think?  So, now what?  Will this proceed up the line to the Supreme Court?  And if it does, will the “ObamaCare is a tax” court manage to actually rule as this judge has, that the executive has unconstitutionally exceeded his power?

Anymore, you never know.

~McQ

Journalism – kingdom of fools

I’m sure you’ve been at least keeping tabs on the drama in Sidney, Australia (now thankfully concluded).  When you watch some of what passes for reporting these days, you sometimes get an indication of how poor the journalism of today is:

Despite the Sydney, Australia hostage-taker displaying a flag reading in Arabic, ”There is no God but God and Mohammed is the prophet of God,” despite his being a self-proclaimed sheikh and despite his demand that police give him an ISIS flag, MSNBC “The Rundown” host José Diaz-Balart wondered if Iranian-born Man Haron Monis is motivated by Islam at all. (VIDEO: NBC Journo: Islamic Lone Wolf Terrorism ‘Not A Religious Issue’)

“Could very well be he’s hiding behind the flag of Islam to just deal with his own criminal past,” Diaz-Balart said. “It may have very little to do with it. It’s still too early to tell.”

Yet, when it comes to lynch mobs on little other than here-say evidence, we get the full narrative treatment – take the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case, or better yet, Ferguson.  In both cases, the media played judge, jury and lynch mob with hysteria driven reports that had no real basis in fact.   In fact, precisely what all the talking heads and other experts claimed came to be absolutely false.

Meanwhile, Islam gets the benefit of the doubt even when it appears that perpetrator in this case had a history of religious fueled violence.  Like the shootings at Ft. Hood were a simple matter of “workplace violence”, this is just some guy using Islam as front to hide his “criminal past”.

The simple question I wish someone would put to the reporter is “why?”  If he’s simply a criminal, why would he care about his past?

Oh, I know – too early to tell.

~McQ

Another AGW myth … gone with the wind

We’ve seen it any number of times.  Whenever there is a weather event, well, the true believers come out of the woodwork to declare it to be the “worst” in umpteen thousand years and, of course, caused by man.  The “Chicken Little” contingent never looks for a more reasonable or scientific explanation, they’ve got their models and their junk science and that’s all they need.  So when California went into a state of extreme drought, what was the claim?  Yup, it was caused by man and his emissions.

One problem with the claim – it’s just not true:

Natural weather patterns, not man-made global warming, are causing the historic drought parching California, says a study out Monday from federal scientists.

“It’s important to note that California’s drought, while extreme, is not an uncommon occurrence for the state,” said Richard Seager, the report’s lead author and professor with Columbia University’s Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory. The report was sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The report did not appear in a peer-reviewed journal but was reviewed by other NOAA scientists.

“In fact, multiyear droughts appear regularly in the state’s climate record, and it’s a safe bet that a similar event will happen again,” he said.

History!  Go figure. “Not uncommon”.

Not only that, but this important point:

The persistent weather pattern over the past several years has featured a warm, dry ridge of high pressure over the eastern north Pacific Ocean and western North America. Such high-pressure ridges prevent clouds from forming and precipitation from falling.

The study notes that this ridge — which has resulted in decreased rain and snowfall since 2011 — is almost opposite to what computer models predict would result from human-caused climate change.

 

“Almost the opposite of what the computer models predict.”  There’s a surprise.

And the dissenters?

“The authors of the new report would really have us believe that is merely a coincidence and has nothing to do with the impact of human-caused climate change?” Penn State meteorologist Michael Mann wrote Monday in The Huffington Post. “Frankly, I don’t find that even remotely plausible.”

This, coming from the discredited author of the hockey stick effect and a false claim of a Nobel prize is something we should even consider?  His dissent is more “plausible” than the findings of the study? Yeah, not really.  Weather is weather.  Someone should clue Mann into how it works.

While the NOAA study easily refutes the alarmist claim, NOAA, being a government agency, isn’t immune to pushing the AGW myth itself, at least a little:

The NOAA report says midwinter precipitation is projected to increase because of human-caused climate change over most of the state. Seager said a low-pressure system, not a high-pressure system, would probably form off the California coast because of climate change.

Low pressure creates clouds and precipitation.

Yes, you see, “human-caused climate change” is now regional … er, global.  Tell me again how that high pressure ridge came to be there?  Oh, nevermind.  And note, even if you want to believe in AGW, in this case, it would actually be a “good thing”.  Oh, bother.

~McQ

Politics at its worst (update)

First I’d like to say that my position on torture is well known and not what this post is about.  It’s about intent and timing.  The subject just happens to be torture, or enhanced interrogation techniques, if you prefer.

Secondly, I’d like to point out that we’ve been through this before – this is truly old news.  This has been investigated.  It’s been commented upon and debated.  It is something that anyone who follows the news and politics has been aware of for years.

So why, then, in a lame duck session after which Senate Democrats lose their majority, does an idiot like Sen. Diane Feinstein decide that this is something that must be released now.  What is the utility of this report?  What is the intent of releasing it now?  What positive does a biased report that only casts America in a bad light in the middle of a war bring to the table?

Biased, you say?  How do you know that?  Well here’s a clue:

The outgoing Democratic leadership of the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report on C.I.A. rendition, detention and interrogation of terrorists in the years following the 9/11 attacks. But here’s a red flag: Not one person who managed or ran the interrogation program was interviewed.

Not one?  So what sort of “report” was it then?  What sort of “investigation” took place?  Again, regardless of your views on “torture” this is pure politics.  And bad politics at that.  It is a smear dressed up as something to take seriously.

Why does it matter? Because the way this “report” was generated colors the notional facts it professes to share. Many of the “revelations” of C.I.A. techniques and black sites are old hat to most. Some approve; others don’t. Fair enough, and in a democracy, such a debate is worthy. The larger challenge comes in determining the efficacy of these techniques. Opponents insist (fueled less by fact and more by their sense of righteousness) that enhanced interrogation doesn’t work. So claims the outgoing chairman, of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein.

Here is the problem: Her claim is false. And taken in conjunction with the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s unwillingness to interview the targets of their critique, one can only assume that much of the rest of the document is also tainted.

When you dig down to the very bottom of it, you realize its written to support a narrative.  It is the same sort of garbage we have seen in the Rolling Stone story about the rape at U Va.  As with this report, the “journalist” involved never interviewed anyone who might shed a different sort of light on the rape story. She never verified much of anything.  It was all about supporting a narrative.

Rape is bad.  Yes, it is.  We all accept and understand that.  But false and embellished accusations are bad too.  That’s what no one ever seems to say on the “rape is bad” narrative side of the house.  Additionally, there are two sides to every story – and if you want to report factually, you include both sides.  If you’re interested in pushing a narrative, then you don’t.

Hiawatha Bray sums up today’s journalism rather nicely and it applies to this biased piece of garbage Feinstein’s committee produced as well.

What’s wrong with journalism? Lots of stuff. But this is one of the worst features of our industry. All too many of us approach stories with preconceived “narratives.” What matters is not what’s actually going on; it’s whether a particular event gives us the chance to tell some story we already want to tell. If the story is that frat boys are incorrigible rapists, that’s how the story gets spun. What actually happened is of secondary importance. And that’s how we can get a student journalist–contra an earlier draft, I’m not sure she’s actually a journalism major–who can say without embarrassment that the facts of a story are not all that important. This is scary stuff. The only thing we have to offer as journalists–the only thing that’s worth a twopenny damn–is accurate, trustworthy information. If the facts in our stories can’t be relied upon, then those stories are worthless, regardless of what “noble cause” they’re designed to advance. To me it seems horrifying that it’s necessary to explain this.

It is the same story with this report that Feinstein, et. al, have decided must be published now.  Old news, repackaged, biased to come to a particular conclusion and intended, apparently, to embarrass the US.  Not to mention it is something which will further endanger our military in a time of war. And, of course, provide wonderful propaganda and recruiting material for our enemies (who, per some reports, are already using it).  And then there are the useful idiots who will revel in this diminishing of the country’s image.

How this helps the US is beyond my comprehension I guess.  It is something we’ve confronted and dealt with years ago.  The country is divided over the use of certain “techniques”.  And, we’ve seen a Democratic majority in government for 6 years who had the ability to ensure that whatever they believed about such use of these techniques was curtailed or eliminated.  What was the utility of this report except, as a friend of mine said, a willful “eff you” by the outgoing Senate majority?

Just when you think this sort of politics can’t get any worse … it does.

UPDATE:  Well, of course.  Feinstein’s “mission accomplished”:

A United Nations human rights official is calling for individuals who carried out, planned or authorized abusive practices against al-Qaeda detainees in the aftermath of 9/11 to be put on trial, saying the U.S. was obliged under international law to bring those responsible to justice.”

He also warned Tuesday that perpetrators could be prosecuted anywhere in the world, noting that “torture is a crime of universal jurisdiction.”

Meanwhile the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said the Senate Intelligence Committee’s release of a declassified portion of a report on CIA interrogation and detention programs was insufficient, calling for the full 6,000 page report to be released, and for “accountability” for those who overstepped the mark.

~McQ

Like I said … the “stupid party”

They can always find a way to turn an advantage into a disadvantage.

The GOP’s draft 2015 “omnibus” spending bill reportedly includes $948 million to help poor and unskilled Central American migrants establish themselves in the United States, but includes no effective restrictions on President Barack Obama’s plan to provide work permits and tax payments to millions of resident illegal immigrants.

That new spending works out to $16,928 for each of the 56,000 youths, young adults and children who crossed the border during the 12 months up to October 2014.

Another apt adjective is “spineless”.

The GOP leadership has given merely lip service to supporting the opposition among GOP legislators and much of the public to Obama’s welcome for foreign migrants, and is now refusing to direct the Department of Homeland Security not to spend any funds on implementing the Obama amnesty.

Instead, the leadership, led by House Speaker John Boehner, drafted a bill imposing a 60-day spending limit for Obama’s immigration agencies.

The planned 60-day spending limit is largely symbolic, because the most important immigration agency can operate on fees paid by the illegals.

“Leadership is basically giving in to every facet of Obama’s amnesty. We’re giving up an astonishing amount of leverage on every issue imaginable,” said one Hill aide.

Useless, ineffective, spineless and stupid.  That’s no way to go through life, for most.  Wonder how the GOP faithful, who pretty forcefully made their desires known, feel about this group now?

~McQ

Special snowflake students pwn Columbia into postponing law finals

In this era of absolutely absurd stories there’s this … frankly, it should be an Onion story, but it’s not – it’s real:

Columbia University has allowed law school students who feel they suffered trauma from two high-profile grand jury decisions to postpone taking their final exams, the school’s interim dean Robert Scott wrote in a message to students this weekend.

“The law school has a policy and set of procedures for students who experience trauma during exam period,” reads Scott’s message, according to the blog PowerLine.

“In accordance with these procedures and policy, students who feel that their performance on examinations will be sufficiently impaired due to the effects of these recent events may petition Dean Alice Rigas to have an examination rescheduled,” Scott continued, citing a St. Louis County grand jury’s decision not to indict Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson for fatally shooting 18-year-old Michael Brown in August as well as a Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo for using a chokehold which killed 43-year-old Eric Garner in July.

Both cases have sparked heavy protests, as both officers are white while both Brown and Garner are black.

“The grand juries’ determinations to return non-indictments in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases have shaken the faith of some in the integrity of the grand jury system and in the law more generally,” the message says.

“For some law students, particularly, though not only, students of color, this chain of events is all the more profound as it threatens to undermine a sense that the law is a fundamental pillar of society designed to protect fairness, due process and equality.”

Oh my goodness.  This is just freakin’ sad.  These little special snowflakes are traumatized by these events.  So, Columbia makes concessions to them because they’ve set up a policy that likely pertains to family situations and that has been used to claim trauma in general.  What’s next claims of PTSD?  And what do you suppose the percentage of students allegedly traumatized vs. students who will claim anything to postpone an exam?  Pwned.

Consider this though, what will the real world do when one of these duffuses claims trauma when he or she loses a law suit?  Well certainly not this:

The school will be holding special sessions next week with trauma specialist Dr. Shirley Matthews, Scott announced. Several faculty members have also agreed to hold special office hours to discuss the implications of the grand juries’ decisions.

The school will set up a reading group, speaker series and teach-ins next semester to “formulate a response to the implications, including racial meanings, of these non-indictments.”

And here these folks thought the legal and judicial systems were perfect.  How will they ever cope?  In the real world they’d hear “suck it up, buttercup, and grow up!”  But of course, academia has set itself up for years for stupidity like this … and now they have it.

Nauseating.  Btw, if they’re this fragile make sure you don’t hire a Columbia law school grad for your lawyer.  He or she will likely have to undergo trauma care if they take your case, and you’ll likely be billed for it.

~McQ

 

They don’t call them the “Stupid Party” for nothing

Senator Jeff Sessions points out:

“Polling shows voters believe that Americans should get preference for available jobs by almost a 10–1 margin,” Sessions said.  “Republicans should not be timid or apologetic, but mount a bold defense of struggling Americans.”

Remember what I said about framing the illegal alien amnesty as being about jobs?  Remember I said they could own this politically.  Remember I also said “of course we’re talking about the Republicans here”?

Yeah, well like I said:

Senator Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.) suggested that House Republicans are on the verge of breaking their campaign promise to fight President Obama’s administrative amnesty, judging by the legislative text currently being circulated.

Sessions said that the proposed language “fails to meet [the] test” established by Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus, who promised earlier this year that the GOP would do everything possible to thwart Obama’s executive orders.

“The executive amnesty language is substantially weaker than the language the House adopted this summer, and does not reject the central tenets of the President’s plan: work permits, Social Security and Medicare to 5 million illegal immigrants — reducing wages, jobs and benefits for Americans,” Sessions said in the statement expressing his dissatisfaction with the results of a House Republican conference meeting today.

Yes, yes, the usual nonsense from the stupid party.

Look they’re getting ready to vote on a continuing resolution to fund government for next year – so this can’t wait till then.  It’s time to do this now.

Sessions wants Congress to attach a rider to the government-funding bill that prohibits Obama from implementing the orders; his office released a list yesterday, compiled with the assistance the Congressional Research Service, of instances in which Congress did just that on a variety of issues last year.

“Congress must respond to the president’s unlawful action by funding the government but not funding illegal amnesty,” Sessions said. “This is a perfectly sound and routine application of Congressional authority. In fact, the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service reports that last year’s omnibus spending bill included 16 such funding restrictions on fee-based programs.”

To those inclined to worry that using the spending power would backfire on Republicans, Sessions suggested that economic populism would lead to a GOP victory.

Yes it would.  But that’s if they had a collective spine and actually meant all the fire and brimstone rhetoric they spouted while they were trying to get elected/reelected.

But we’re talking the GOP here – always snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

~McQ

In many cases, the media’s narrative has little to do with truth or facts

Lately, for whatever reason, I’ve been getting bombarded with pro-Palestinian, anti-Israeli emails.  We’ve all realized over the years that the pro-Palestinian side has successfully built a narrative that has little bearing on the truth, but has a number of abettors.  Among them the media.  And it is a real problem when “news” ends up being slanted to one side or another because, well, because it fits a narrative the media prefers, because we remain poorly and incompletely informed.   Funny how when that’s the case, flaky “facts” go unexamined, while real facts are downplayed, ignored or dismissed if they don’t fit that narrative.

Of course we’ve also been told, by the usual players, that there is no media bias and that the story is “true”.    Of course, that’s using the post-modern definition of true.  However, now an AP correspondent very familiar with the area, the coverage and the narrative, lays it all out in a couple of articles:

Most consumers of the Israel story don’t understand how the story is manufactured. But Hamas does. Since assuming power in Gaza in 2007, the Islamic Resistance Movement has come to understand that many reporters are committed to a narrative wherein Israelis are oppressors and Palestinians passive victims with reasonable goals, and are uninterested in contradictory information. Recognizing this, certain Hamas spokesmen have taken to confiding to Western journalists, including some I know personally, that the group is in fact a secretly pragmatic outfit with bellicose rhetoric, and journalists—eager to believe the confession, and sometimes unwilling to credit locals with the smarts necessary to deceive them—have taken it as a scoop instead of as spin.

During my time at the AP, we helped Hamas get this point across with a school of reporting that might be classified as “Surprising Signs of Moderation” (a direct precursor to the “Muslim Brotherhood Is Actually Liberal” school that enjoyed a brief vogue in Egypt). In one of my favorite stories, “More Tolerant Hamas” (December 11, 2011), reporters quoted a Hamas spokesman informing readers that the movement’s policy was that “we are not going to dictate anything to anyone,” and another Hamas leader saying the movement had “learned it needs to be more tolerant of others.” Around the same time, I was informed by the bureau’s senior editors that our Palestinian reporter in Gaza couldn’t possibly provide critical coverage of Hamas because doing so would put him in danger.

There are a couple of things to take away from this.  One the uber-sophisticated press is being spun by those they tend to look-down upon.  Apparently there’s such a thing as being “willingly spun” and we’ve been getting a whole heaping helping of it for years. The irony, if it wasn’t so damaging, is delicious.  Two, this is how you get Ferguson’s.  This is the same recipe on a domestic level.  Facts, be damned, the narrative is what is important and so it is the narrative you get.

How does that serve the consumers of news?

~McQ

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