Free Markets, Free People

Culture

Chauncey De Vega doubles down on “stupid”

First, I have no idea who “Chauncey De Vega” is.  But I do know his type. So when the story broke about his post on AlterNet calling Herman Cain a “monkey” and a “minstrel”, I thought it something that others could handle quite well, thank you very much.

And, deservedly, De Vega was roundly criticized – not only for the language he used, but for the stereotypical and foundationless characterizations he used in his absurd commentary.  Just another in a long line of clueless, historically ignorant and confused “commenters” on racial issues who feel the need to use inflammatory language to be noticed.  Another race obsessed jerk who cannot fathom that others of his race may, through their own experiences in life, see things of a political nature different than he does.  Apparently he is “the one” that decides what is proper and acceptable for blacks to believe and anyone who doesn’t toe that line is a “race traitor”.  In his post, Herman Cain was the race traitor of the day.

Today De Vega doubled down on his stupid rant.  AlterNet, where the original was posted, made it clear that his first post was in the “Speak Easy” which is a forum provided by AlterNet for “unedited” pieces.  This follow up was in a different area which means, one assumes, that De Vega was edited and the inflammatory name calling was deleted prior to publication.  Of course that doesn’t change the substance, and the substance, such that it is, isn’t much more acceptable, intellectually, than was the original post.

Why?  Because it is an exercise is attempting to justify being an ignorant jerk.  It sheds no new light on anything except the writer’s prejudices – which he willingly exposes.  One assumes he thinks he’s being convincing, but a quick read through the piece leaves you with the understanding that this is simply “stereotypes are us” on steroids.  There’s really nothing thought provoking or even particularly interesting about De Vega’s words.   It is the work of a man whose mind was made up years ago and who now proudly wears the blinders of ignorance for all to see.

As most race-baiters realize, the absence of racism within today’s society would be a disaster for them.  They’ve built a cottage industry around the word and are seeing their bread and butter slip away.  De Vega is reduced to mischaracterizing the speech of another black man (I heard the speech), denigrating him and his beliefs and thereby indicting the crowd that listened and cheered his words as “white masters” to keep the hate alive.

Peddling racial hate is a much tougher job today as witnessed by the fact that he and others feel it necessary to attack any black who strays from what they consider the only way blacks should think.  Those sorts of successful blacks give lie to their race-baiting rhetoric.  The Chauncey De Vegas of this world deserve the all the condemnation and derision they earn through their vile and hateful rhetoric.  They belong in a past era of this country’s racial history and are no more acceptable today than is the KKK.  Ironically, both, as it turns out, are in the business of trying to sell the very same thing.

~McQ

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Well here’s a surprise–UK’s Cameron says state multiculturalism has failed

Multiculturalism posits that it is possible for immigrants to eschew the dominant culture and live within their own culture in a foreign land and everything will be hunky-dory.  Except reality hasn’t supported the premise  – anywhere. 

One of the strengths of the US is it was a melting pot, not a mixing  bowl.  That means that those coming to the country were assimilated into the dominant culture, not that they set up “little India” or “little Mexico” or “little Somalia” and eschewed the culture of the US.  And in fact, during that assimilation, the positive aspects of the imported culture may also be assimilated and become a part of the dominant culture.

But the left found that, well, non-egalitarian I guess.  Instead, they decided, in their own morally relative way, that all cultures were equal and that instead of assimilation, the non-dominant cultures should establish themselves as a whole, with the goal of treating them as equally valid and thus allowing immigrants to cling to the cultural roots while still enjoying the benefits of the dominant culture.

Boy has that been a bust.   And finally a politician of note has decided the emperor has no clothes and declared it to be so.  David Cameron, the UK’s PM, while speaking about certain groups who are subsidized by the UK’s government to fight extremism among Muslims there but do little in reality, said:

"Frankly, we need a lot less of the passive tolerance of recent years and much more active, muscular liberalism," the prime minister said.

"Let’s properly judge these organisations: Do they believe in universal human rights – including for women and people of other faiths? Do they believe in equality of all before the law? Do they believe in democracy and the right of people to elect their own government? Do they encourage integration or separatism?

"These are the sorts of questions we need to ask. Fail these tests and the presumption should be not to engage with organisations," he added.

Oh my goodness … heresy among the multiculturalatti.  This is a serious challenge to the basic belief that all cultures are equal and coexist.  And, of course, they have reacted as such:

Luton Labour MEP Richard Howitt, a keynote speaker at the counter-rally to the EDL demo in Luton, added: "The attack on multiculturalism surrenders to the far-right ideology that moderate and fundamentalist ideas cannot be distinguished from each other, and actually undermines respect and co-operation between peoples of different faith.

"The phrase ‘muscular liberalism’ in particular sadly endorses the climate of threat, fear and violence which is present on the streets of Luton today."

Does it really?  Or does it address the reality of multiculturalism’s failure.  What is a the dominant culture supposed to do when it’s very existence is challenged by a perniciously different culture that this so-called “tolerance” has allowed to get a foothold and attempts to subvert?  Why is it the dominant culture must endure that challenge in silence and with inaction?  Why must one culture be “tolerant” while the other remains “intolerant” and bent on the destruction of the former?

It certainly doesn’t take a rocket scientist to view and assess the aim of the challenging culture.  It’s a bit like the zebra muscle – once native to Russian lakes, it has somehow been introduced to the Great Lakes.  They are an invasive species.   Left unchallenged and untreated, they will indeed take over the habitat of native species.  Would anyone argue that the problem they pose shouldn’t be addressed in light of the possible outcome? 

Muslim extremism is based in an invasive religious ideology that calls for dominance world-wide by any means necessary to include violence.  The UK has experienced that violence.   Yet the response has been to tap-dance around the real problem and pretend that the culture that supports and funds this sort of religious ideology (which exists right there in the UK) is somehow a minority not worth worrying about.   And if you worry, well, you’re the bigot.

A genuinely liberal country "believes in certain values and actively promotes them", Mr Cameron said. "Freedom of speech. Freedom of worship. Democracy. The rule of law. Equal rights, regardless of race, sex or sexuality. "It says to its citizens: This is what defines us as a society. To belong here is to believe these things."

Indeed. And if you don’t believe that’s worth fighting for, then the side that does believe in doing exactly that will eventually assimilate the other culture.

Anyway, I’d like to see this sort of challenge to the god of multiculturalism made more often with prominent people who have the guts to say such things as Cameron said, and stand behind it when the expected heat rounds come flying their way.  It is a pernicious and false premise based in moral relativism and cloaked in the hide of “egalitarianism”.  Another “wolf in sheep’s clothing” that needs to be killed (oh, forgive my violent rhetoric /sarc) and killed as quickly as possible.

~McQ

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Egypt roundup

Protests turned violent yesterday as "pro-Mubarak" forces clashed with "anti-Mubarak" forces (descriptions used by various media outlets) in Cairo.

The violence, though not really unexpected, is unfortunate but a fairly routine part of these sorts of confrontations. The question is – and I think we probably know the answer – were the "pro-Mubarak" forces real or recruited? I.e. was it a spontaneous grouping that finally came out in the streets to counter the other side, or was it an orchestrated "spontaneous" uprising on the "pro-Mubarak" side? I’m pretty sure most feel it is the former rather than the latter. If so, then Mubarak, et al, have decided to fight to stay on.

Speaking of orchestration, Robert Springborg is of the opinion that there has been some careful orchestration in the response by the Mubarak government, all aimed at seeing the military take control of the government when everything has run its course – thereby pretty much preserving the status quo with different leaders.  While the administration has finally come out publicly saying Mubarak should step down, the best “realpolitik” foreign policy ending for the US could be such an outcome.  But that means the death of any possibility of Egyptian democracy and the perpetuation of the autocratic “strongman” state under which Egypt has suffered for decades.

Meanwhile, given the fact that President Obama has finally and publicly said Mubarak should step down – and the sooner the better – the expected response has been made by the Mubarak regime:

Egypt’s government hit back swiftly. The Foreign Ministry released a defiant statement saying the calls from “foreign parties” had been “rejected and aimed to incite the internal situation in Egypt.” And Egyptian officials reached out to reporters to make clear how angry they were at their onetime friend.

Separately, in an interview, a senior Egyptian government official took aim at President Obama’s call on Tuesday night for a political transition to begin “now” — a call that infuriated Cairo.

Not particularly surprising or unexpected.  I’m not sure why Washington continues to fear this argument as it appears it does.  It is going to happen at sometime during any event like this in the Middle East whether we sit on our hands or not.  Even if its not true the US is going to be blamed.  So we need to get over worrying about it and have our say.

Speaking of having his say, George Soros is out with a op/ed about how well Obama has handled all of this:

Revolutions usually start with enthusiasm and end in tears. In the case of the Middle East, the tears could be avoided if President Obama stands firmly by the values that got him elected. Although American power and influence in the world have declined, our allies and their armies look to us for direction. These armies are strong enough to maintain law and order as long as they stay out of politics; thus the revolutions can remain peaceful. That is what the United States should insist on while encouraging corrupt and repressive rulers who are no longer tolerated by their people to step aside and allow new leaders to be elected in free and fair elections.

About an mile wide and inch deep analysis Soros is trying to pretend that the army is a benign agent in Egypt and is claiming the Egyptian army is looking to us for leadership, which Soros claims Obama is providing.   The alternate scenario, and the one that seems much more likely, is that one Springborg describes.  IOW, look for an eventual government to emerge peopled by the military.    And, of course, Soros buys into the charade involving ElBaradei and the Muslim Brotherhood:

The Muslim Brotherhood’s cooperation with Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel laureate who is seeking to run for president, is a hopeful sign that it intends to play a constructive role in a democratic political system.  But despite his claims to the contrary, ElBaradei is not as popular as he’d like to believe and is seen as almost an outsider who has spent very little time in Egypt in recent years.  He is, however, a convenient front man for the Muslim Brotherhood – at least for the moment.

The main problem ala Soros?  The Joooos:

The main stumbling block is Israel. In reality, Israel has as much to gain from the spread of democracy in the Middle East as the United States has. But Israel is unlikely to recognize its own best interests because the change is too sudden and carries too many risks. And some U.S. supporters of Israel are more rigid and ideological than Israelis themselves. Fortunately, Obama is not beholden to the religious right, which has carried on a veritable vendetta against him. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee is no longer monolithic or the sole representative of the Jewish community. The main danger is that the Obama administration will not adjust its policies quickly enough to the suddenly changed reality.

Soros concludes that he’s very hopeful and enthusiastic about the probability of democracy and freedom breaking out in Egypt. 

Speaking of ElBaradei, he’s now demanding Mubarak step down in 48 hours or else.

Egyptian uprising idol Mohammed ElBaradei has ordered Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to leave the country by Friday – or he will be a “dead man walking” and not just a lame-duck president.

Nice – peaceful, civil discourse with a threat he has no way of backing up with action.   Not something that aspiring leaders should be throwing out there if they want to be taken seriously.

And, as Springbork suggests in his piece, all of this orchestration of events and postures assumed have been done for a purpose, one of which is to get the factions and groups to want normalcy again and be willing to negotiate a “peace”.   Not so our friends in the Muslim Brotherhood:

The radical Muslim Brotherhood has become more vocal in its calls for Mubarak’s resignation, drowning out several opposition groups that have accepted an offer by newly-appointed vice president Omar Suleiman to negotiate.

It is not in the best interest of the Muslim Brotherhood for there to be peace, negotiation and accommodation (the NYT still buys into the “benevolent Muslim Brotherhood” nonsense).  But it appears the regime, via the newly appointed VP and the Army, are attempting the old “divide and conquer” tactic.  The “pro-Mubarak” faction’s (thugs) violence have tempered the fervor of some of the members of the populist portions of the uprising.  Negotiations begin to steal the momentum from the protesters by peeling them away.  Splitting off the “fair weather” protesters allows the regime (via the security forces that Suleiman ran for years) to begin to identify the hard-core extremist factions involved and deal with them.  The army, of course, remains above the fray (and seemingly neutral) and positions itself to be the choice of most of the people as the moderate successor to the Mubarak regime.  

Result?  Pretty much the same set-up as now (except with uniforms – the VP and PM are Army or former Army) but possibly more anti-American than before.  Of course George Soros won’t tell you that.

~McQ

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College students not being taught critical thinking skills–does that surprise you?

A recently published study has found that many college and university students aren’t taught critical thinking skills while enrolled in their course of study. The study "followed 2,322 traditional-age students from the fall of 2005 to the spring of 2009 and examined testing data and student surveys at a broad range of 24 U.S. colleges and universities, from the highly selective to the less selective."

What they found was that about 45% of those students showed no significant improvement in their critical thinking skills during the first two years of enrollment.  After 4 years, 35% showed no significant improvement.

The study is unique in that it is the first time a group of students was followed through their college careers to determine if they learned specific skills.  As might be expected, academia is not at all pleased with the results.

"These findings are extremely valuable for those of us deeply concerned about the state of undergraduate learning and student intellectual engagement," said Brian D. Casey, the president of DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind. "They will surely shape discussions about curriculum and campus life for years to come."

The students involved in the study were tested using a standard test used to measure critical thinking ability:

The study used data from the Collegiate Learning Assessment, a 90-minute essay-type test that attempts to measure what liberal arts colleges teach and that more than 400 colleges and universities have used since 2002. The test is voluntary and includes real world problem-solving tasks, such as determining the cause of an airplane crash, that require reading and analyzing documents from newspaper articles to government reports.

As noted a significant number of students were unable to break out fact from opinion, make a clear written argument or "objectively review conflicting reports of a situation or event", the study found. In fact those students who fell into this category had a tendency to be swayed by emotion and political spin.

An interesting finding of the study was that students majored in liberal arts courses of study were more likely to develop critical thinking skills than were those that majored in courses of study such as business, education, social work and communications.

Other findings were that students who study alone, rather than in groups, tend to develop critical thinking skills and that courses (such as the liberal arts) which require heavy loads of reading and writing also help develop those skills.

Obviously the answer, if the study is to be believed, is to increase the reading and writing workload of all students. The study found some obvious problems as it is today in many of the universities and colleges included:

The study’s authors also found that large numbers of students didn’t enroll in courses requiring substantial work. In a typical semester, a third of students took no courses with more than 40 pages of reading per week. Half didn’t take a single course in which they wrote more than 20 pages over the semester.

While it would be easy to fob this off on students seeking the easiest path to graduation, it is the school that puts the curriculum together and designs and approves the classes taught. The bottom line is the school is being paid handsomely to turn out graduates that can indeed think critically – a skill in high demand everywhere. Failing in that area at the percentages noted isn’t a student problem – it is a problem of academia.

The findings shot that colleges need to be acutely aware of how instruction relates to the learning of critical-thinking and related skills, said Daniel J. Bradley, the president of Indiana State University and one of 71 college presidents who recently signed a pledge to improve student learning.

"We haven’t spent enough time making sure we are indeed teaching — and students are learning — these skills," Bradley said.

Indeed.  And it appears a "back to basics" approach would be most appropriate to bring the students not being taught those skills up to the level they need to be when they graduate. That means tough courses which test those skills routinely. That also means more work for those teaching the courses.  The question is will colleges and universities take these findings seriously and do the work for which they are being paid? Or will it, despite the rhetoric to the contrary, remain as it is today, with universities and colleges turning out a high percentage of graduates for whom critical thinking is still an unknown skill?

~McQ

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Giffords shooting prompts proposed limits to freedom and hypocritical recriminations

Well, as you can imagine, the Giffords shooting has sucked all the oxygen out of just about every other subject. And, as you can probably further imagine, the "let’s make a law" crowd is busily at work trying to again limit our freedoms in the name of "security".

We have a representative from PA who wants to outlaw "crosshairs" in political advertising. I have to wonder what part of "Congress shall make no law" in the 1st Amendment and political speech he doesn’t understand? Perhaps the word "no" as in none, zip, zero, nada?

The typical overreaction is underway.   As is the inevitable.  Gun control pops its ugly head up again as a New York Congresswoman prepares to introduce legislation banning high-capacity ammunition clips. 

And then there’s Paul Krugman.  The historically blind and deaf Paul Krugman.  Check out these opening two paragraphs in a piece entitled “Climate of Hate”:

When you heard the terrible news from Arizona, were you completely surprised? Or were you, at some level, expecting something like this atrocity to happen?

Put me in the latter category. I’ve had a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach ever since the final stages of the 2008 campaign. I remembered the upsurge in political hatred after Bill Clinton’s election in 1992 — an upsurge that culminated in the Oklahoma City bombing. And you could see, just by watching the crowds at McCain-Palin rallies, that it was ready to happen again. The Department of Homeland Security reached the same conclusion: in April 2009 an internal report warned that right-wing extremism was on the rise, with a growing potential for violence.

Notice anything missing in his trip down memory lane?  Yeah, 8 years of inflammatory rhetoric and what he now labels as “hate” directed at George Bush and the right.  I’m sure you’re not surprised – this sort of memory loss is endemic on the left.  The memory hole, which they seem unable to acknowledge, is why most on the right take the likes of Paul Krugman and their hate claims with the grain of salt they deserve.  When their rhetoric was pointed out to them, their retort was “dissention is patriotism”.

Note too that the economist turned political hack continues to insist, in the face of almost conclusive evidence to the contrary, that the violence visited on Rep. Giffords was the result of the “hatred” from the right.  And he uses the discredited Southern Poverty Law Center’s report (hidden in the just as discredited Homeland Security report) as “proof” of his claims.

Krugman must have sensed he’s on thin ice because a few paragraphs in he throws this out:

It’s true that the shooter in Arizona appears to have been mentally troubled. But that doesn’t mean that his act can or should be treated as an isolated event, having nothing to do with the national climate.

Holy Mars and Venus, Batman – is this guy living on the same planet we’re living on?  Of course it can be an “isolated event” and it certainly can have nothing to do with the so-called “national climate”.  The guy was a loon.  A nutcase.  He has serious mental problems.  He’s a yahoo who became fixated on Rep. Giffords for no apparent logical reason other than she was a local politician.  Trying to warp this into something it isn’t, however, is suddenly becoming the pastime of the left.  Well, much of it anyway (there are indeed islands of sanity out there, but they’re becoming less prevalent).

Krugman then attempts to whitewash the left’s very recent past by claiming you’ll mostly hear only caustic remarks and mocking at worst. Michelle Malkin neatly disposes of that myth.

He concludes:

So will the Arizona massacre make our discourse less toxic? It’s really up to G.O.P. leaders. Will they accept the reality of what’s happening to America, and take a stand against eliminationist rhetoric? Or will they try to dismiss the massacre as the mere act of a deranged individual, and go on as before?

If Arizona promotes some real soul-searching, it could prove a turning point. If it doesn’t, Saturday’s atrocity will be just the beginning.

What then, as evidence continues to mount supporting it, if it was indeed a “mere act of a deranged individual” Mr. Krugman.  Will we get an Emily Litella like “never mind” from you?

This is the latest in a long line of efforts by the left to shut its opposition up.  Political correctness has finally begun to wear thin as most have now recognized it for what it is – an attempt to control speech.  This effort is nothing less than that.  It is the claim that speech must be modified because others who are deranged might act on it, even out of context. But that lack of memory about their own toxic speech and their spirited defense of it (again, see Malkin’s listing of the left’s happy talk about George Bush) smacks of such hypocrisy that the word is almost insufficient to define them at this point.

Freedom and democracy demand risk to work.  They must not be held prisoner to speech codes and “security”.  We must not let the priorities that underpin freedom be chipped away or removed by a bunch of scared rabbits.  If Congress wants to beef up security around its members, I can understand that.  However, that’s as far as I’m willing to go.  Restricting the freedoms of the rest of us because of some nut is just flat unacceptable.

And by the way, Mr. Krugman – go see a doctor.  I’m told the  type of memory loss you’re suffering is the first sign of senile dementia.  Have it checked out, will you?

~McQ

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Fools rush in to define Giffords tragedy politically

Even before the blood had dried in the Safeway parking lot in Tucson, both sides and the media were attempting to paint the tragedy of the shooting of Rep. Giffords and other innocent bystanders in a way that boosted (or defended) whatever agenda talking point they wished to advance.

Politicization of an event – any event – that political advocates, activists or politicians see as useful is almost instant anymore. And make no mistake about it – what has been done from the beginning is to politicize this shooting (and that includes the Sheriff of Pima County AZ). Doing so has almost become standard operating procedure. Well that and demanding the event not be politicized. And then, in the post mortem, arguing about which side politicized it first.

Any long time observer of politics, especially in this day of mass communication, knows the speed by which information and opinion move. They also know that those who try to shape opinion have learned they must move quickly in order to see information shaped as they’d prefer to see it.

Of course, in the case of Rep. Giffords, one meme immediately surfaced – "vitriol" as a generic reason was cited as the cause – as in "political vitriol". The unstated (for the most part, at least immediately) source of that vitriol was supposed to be understood by knowing the political party of the victim. Reports were sure to stress "Democratic" Representative Giffords as the one shot.

This before the shooter had even been identified. And I can promise you, cold-blooded political strategists were sizing up the "opportunity" to see how much political throw-weight it had for their issue, agenda or politician.

For example:

One veteran Democratic operative, who blames overheated rhetoric for the shooting, said President Barack Obama should carefully but forcefully do what his predecessor did.

“They need to deftly pin this on the tea partiers,” said the Democrat. “Just like the Clinton White House deftly pinned the Oklahoma City bombing on the militia and anti-government people.”

Note that this operative couldn’t care less if it really was "overheated rhetoric" or the fault of the Tea Party. That’s the farthest thing from his mind. It is a political opportunity to take advantage of a tragedy to "deftly pin" something outrageous on a political enemy.  He, or she, obviously counsels taking advantage of the opportunity.

And:

Another Democratic strategist said the similarity is that Tucson and Oklahoma City both “take place in a climate of bitter and virulent rhetoric against the government and Democrats.”

This Democrat said that the time had come to insist that Republicans stand up when, for example, a figure such as Fox News commentator Glenn Beck says something incendiary.

So very quickly, without any proof, this became the equivalent of the Oklahoma City tragedy (something which has yet to be proven to have anything to do with virulent rhetoric – McVeigh said it was because of Waco) and it is the job of Republicans to stop it.  Just as Rush Limbaugh was named as a cause of Oklahoma City, the new bête noir of the left, Glenn Beck, is automatically fingered as the reason for this tragedy.  Right out of the playbook.

Finally:

“Today we have seen the results” of “irresponsible and dangerous rhetoric,” former Democratic senator and presidential candidate Gary Hart wrote on Huffington Post. “Those with a megaphone, whether provided by public office or a media outlet, have responsibilities. They cannot avoid the consequences of their blatant efforts to inflame, anger, and outrage.”

Nonsense.  There was absolutely no proof at the time Hart wrote his piece that the shooter was motivated by “irresponsible and dangerous rhetoric”.  In fact, I’d suggest the most irresponsible rhetoric I saw was from those such as Gary Hart who immediately jumped to that conclusion without knowing much at all about the shooter.  Obviously there are responsibilities for those “with a megaphone.”  Ironically Hart most expertly demonstrates how not to fulfill those responsibilities and be exactly what he denounced – irresponsible.

Everyone needs to calm down and quit trying to pin the blame on the other side and take the time to find out the real motivation of the shooter before going off half cocked.  To paraphrase a famous quote about cigars, sometimes a nut is just a nut.  In the future I’d like to see us take a moment, let the information develop and then make conclusions based in fact vs. this new and continuing tendency to jump into something driven by ideology and immediately try to shape the argument to fit the agenda.

It makes those  who do that look like the fools they are.

~McQ

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The usual "self-absorbed baby-boomers" article

I do get tired of these sorts of articles – this one in the New York Times. It is entitled "Boomers Hit New Self-Absorption Milestone: Age 65". The word I object too is "self-absorbed" as a description for an entire generation. It’s nonsense. My generation is no more self-absorbed than any other. Are there factions of it which fit the bill? Yeah, but they exist in every other generation as well.

The Times notes that today marks the first of my generation turning 65. Whoop freakin’ wee. The only one absorbed by that are the authors of the article.

Though other generations, from the Greatest to the Millennial, may mutter that it’s time to get over yourselves, this birthday actually matters. According to the Pew Research Center, for the next 19 years, about 10,000 people “will cross that threshold” every day — and many of them, whether through exercise or Botox, have no intention of ceding to others what they consider rightfully theirs: youth.

This means that the 79 million baby boomers, about 26 percent of this country’s population, will be redefining what it means to be older, and placing greater demands on the social safety net. They are living longer, working longer and, researchers say, nursing some disappointment about how their lives have turned out. The self-aware, or self-absorbed, feel less self-fulfilled, and thus are racked with self-pity.

Really? So "some researchers say" we’re "nursing disappointment about how their lives have turned out?"

That certainly doesn’t include me.  Heck, I’m in the middle of starting a new venture and I’m excited about life.  And self-pity is for losers.  Life is life – you deal with it as it comes along.  But do I feel less "self-fulfilled”?  Uh, no.  Have I had some set backs in life.  Hasn’t everyone?  I’ve also had some wonderful and unexpected successes as well.  But I’m damn sure not to the point where I’m assessing my life – I’ll probably be working at something until I die.

And by the way, folks, I don’t chase “youth”.  I chase “health”.  Youth is fleeting and can’t be recaptured and I don’t see more of an “absorption” by baby boomers with “youth” than I saw with the so-called “Greatest generation” or with those now in middle age. 

As for the “social safety net”, who the heck put it in place for the most part?  It wasn’t Baby Boomers.  And no one has mentioned any of the Greatest Generation turning up their noses at the net or not feeling some sense of “entitlement”.  It was they and the previous generation who are mostly responsible for its existence, not Boomers.

The Times seems to realize it is in deep water with its attempt at generalization:

Ascribing personality traits to a bloc of 79 million people is a fool’s endeavor. For one thing, people born in 1964 wouldn’t know the once-ubiquitous television hero Sky King if he landed his trusty Songbird on their front lawns, just as people born in 1946 wouldn’t quite know what to make of one of Sky King’s successors, the big-headed H. R. Pufnstuf.

Yeah, I remember Sky King (and many others).  But I also remember Vietnam and a large contingent who fought there because they were trying to live up to what the previous generation had done as a “duty”.  And the reason I find these sorts of generalizations of my generation offensive is found in the NYT’s very next paragraph:

For another, the never-ending celebration of the hippie contingent of boomers tends to overshadow the Young Americans for Freedom contingent. After all, while some boomers were trying to “levitate” the Pentagon to protest the Vietnam War, other boomers were fighting in that war.

That’s correct.  And those same Boomers are responsible in large part for building the finest volunteer military the nation has ever fielded bar none.   And some Boomers are still on active duty today.  But this single paragraph best explains the problem I have – the Bill Ayers contingent of my generation does not represent me or the huge majority of my peers.  What happened is the “never-ending celebration” of the “hippie contingent” – again something the Greatest Generation was responsible for – forever tainted my generation with the stereotype of the “self-absorbed” Baby Boomer (just as it did with any number of cruel myths about Vietnam and Vietnam vets).   

Here’s another generalization:

Previous generations were raised to speak only when spoken to, and to endure in self-denying silence. But baby boomers were raised on the more nurturing, child-as-individual teachings of Dr. Benjamin Spock, and then placed under the spell of television, whose advertisers marketed their wares directly to children. Parents were cut out of the sale — except, of course, for the actual purchase of that coonskin cap or Barbie doll.

“It created a sense of entitlement that had not existed before,” Mr. Gillon said. “We became more concerned with our own emotional well-being, whereas to older generations that was considered soft and fluffy.”

Well much of this skipped my household. I was raised in a "speak only when spoken too" home. And while Benjamin Spock’s (another of the Greatest Generation) works were read and applied in some ways, my upbringing wasn’t at all like this generalization would like to pretend it was. And that goes with my peers – of course I was raised in and around the Army, so I can also say my upbringing might have been somewhat more "traditional" than that of others. But I’d never generalize about it.

And I never have had a "sense of entitlement" about much of anything – but to pretend it never “existed before" is to deny the existence of Social Security prior to the Baby Boom generation. It was created in 1935 for heaven sake and it established as much a sense of entitlement as has anything since. My generation had nothing to do with its beginnings nor have they been the first to demand this "entitlement".

But there’s a basis for the "sense of entitlement" as it pertains to Social Security or Medicare – government has been taking my money for both programs for decades. And while other, later generations may believe that neither will be available when they reach the age to benefit from them, don’t you even begin to believe they won’t have a "sense of entitlement" if they do.

As for the “soft and fluffy” nonsense, I’ll again point to the war in Vietnam.  Not soft, not fluffy, 246 Medals of Honor awarded primarily to Baby Boomers in a 10 year war. 

Every generation that I know of thinks the following generation is softer and more self-absorbed than they were.  They all worry about “what will happen to the country” when the next generation takes over, yet somehow, we manage to find the grit, determination, leadership, and ability to see it all through.

And lord save us from the sociologists:

A study by two sociologists, Julie Phillips of Rutgers University and Ellen Idler of Emory University, indicates that the suicide rate for middle-aged people, notably baby boomers without college degrees, rose from 1999 to 2005. And Paul Taylor, the executive vice president of the Pew Center, summed up a recent survey of his generation this way:

“We’re pretty glum.”

This gloominess appears to be linked to the struggling economy, the demands of middle age and a general sense of lofty goals not met by the generation that once sang of teaching the world to sing in perfect harmony, and then buying it a Coke.

Bull squat.  A paean to a tiny fraction of a generation that believed in unicorns and moon ponies.  Most of the rest of us were and are pretty darn grounded in reality and aren’t’ glum at all.  In fact, I’m elated each day when I open my eyes and am still among the living.  It’s the start to what I hope will be a good day.  Ok, I’m kidding about that, but you know what, I resent the hell out of some academic characterizing me as “glum” because I happen to have been born in a particular time period – like a characterization such as “glum” can be applied because we appeared in a particular span of time.  That just a crock of academic crap. 

My guess, given the “struggling economy” and how it has impacted lives all over the nation, we’d find parts of many generations “glum”.

So on this first day of the new year, let me start it out right – stick up you fundament, New York Times.  Your article is BS and you know it – not that I’m particularly surprised.  You’re in the middle of trying to perpetuate another myth. That three layers of editors sure are earning their pay, aren’t they?

~McQ

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Atheists whine about not being included in religious event

I get tired of this sort of nonsense:

Atheists, agnostics, humanists, and other nontheistic Washington, D.C. residents will have no representation at Mayor-Elect Vincent Gray’s first official inaugural event—an ecumenical prayer service entitled “One City … Praying Together” at 8 a.m. Sunday, January 2, 2011.

“We would prefer that a government function such as an inauguration not be entwined with religion,” said Amanda Knief, a Humanist Celebrant and government relations manager for the Secular Coalition for America (SCA). “However, we find it overtly discriminatory when we request to be part of an ecumenical prayer service that is supposed to unite the entire city and are told there is no place for nontheists.”

How can a prayer service unite an entire city if atheists don’t believe in prayer or a deity?  Obviously, the word “prayer” is key to the phrase as it refers to those who both believe in prayer and a deity. Just as obviously, the prayer service is aimed a those in the city who do.  And why would an atheist want to go to a prayer service in the first place?

Oh, I know – “inclusion”.

Well, in reality,  they wouldn’t want to attend – “inclusion” is a false flag.  And they’re not “left out” of anything – atheism is their choice.  With that choice comes consequences – like not being invited to attend prayer meetings.

Instead this is really about banishing such services altogether.  And their assumed leverage here is it is a government event – a city government holding an “ecumenical” service, i.e. not touting a single religion and in perfect conformance with the 1st Amendment (which, btw, doesn’t apply below federal level, but I thought I’d point it out anyway).  But it isn’t “inclusive”.

Love the line, “we would prefer that a government function such a an inauguration not be entwined with religion.”

Cool.  Go out and win an election and then you can run the inauguration any way you wish.   That’s the basic message here.  Freedom is choice – and you can choose to not have such an inauguration if you win.  But if you won’t make the attempt or lose, tough nuts – the winner gets to “choose”, note the word,  how he or she will run the inauguration within the confines of the law.

A prayer meeting isn’t about anything in particular which will effect an atheist that I know of.  It’s a meeting of like minded people to ask for help and guidance of their deity of choice.   How that is “overtly discriminatory” against those who don’t believe in prayer or a deity is beyond me.

Oh, and in case you were wondering:

A Humanist Celebrant is the nonreligious equivalent of a clergyperson. He or she may receive national certification from several organizations, including The Humanist Society, the American Ethical Union, and the Society for Humanistic Judaism; and may conduct marriages, civil unions, memorial services, funerals, and other life ceremonies.

So they were supposed to invite a “nonreligious equivalent” of a “clergyperson” to a religious event?  What is a “nonreligious equivalent” to a clergyperson?   There is no equivalency in terms of belief.  The fact that the Humanist Celebrant can conduct marriages, civil unions, (so can a justice of the peace) etc.  doesn’t make them equivalent where it counts (and no one would argue a JP is the “equivalent” of a priest).

Look whether you believe in a deity or not, this is just nonsense on a stick.  Religion is a personal choice.  And nothing that I know of precludes government officials from conducting “ecumenical” prayer meetings if it is their desire. 

My guess is had the atheists – or Humanist Celebrant – shown up at the meeting he or she would have been graciously included.   Then what?

This is just more whining by the militant atheists of the country.  If you don’t want to participate in religion, don’t.  Don’t demand your “equivalency” be accepted by the religious or that they must include you in something, that in reality, you have no real desire to be included in at all.  The religious are not welcome in your camp and it shouldn’t surprise or upset you that you’re not particularly welcome in theirs. 

Such is life.  Grow up, drop the false “inclusion” argument and quit whining, for goodness sake.

~McQ

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Irony: Michael Moore’s "Sicko" was banned in Cuba

And why was the Oscar nominated 2007 “documentary” film banned?

Authorities feared footage of gleaming hospital in Michael Moore’s Oscar-nominated film would provoke a popular backlash.

Or said another way, it was propaganda that even those who were made to look good found so dishonest they refused to show it. A communist regime. One steeped in propaganda designed to make them look good.

Yup, Michael Moore’s work in a nutshell.

More irony?  This info was contained in a confidential cable released by Wikileaks and Moore just helped bail Wikileaks founder Julian Assange out of jail.

~McQ

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Communism kills–always has, always will

I know – once again I’ve managed to shock you haven’t I?

Not.

All that’s really happened is there is now proof that is hard to ignore or deny. Communism (simply a brand of "totalitarianism") kills and China is – I was going to say "living proof" but that would be inappropriate – is proof.

Remember the Mao inspired "Great Leap Forward" launched in 1958 Communist China? It was the forced "communization" of the population which had resisted it up until then. I.e. the people were pushed into communes where, they were told, life would be infinitely better because, well, because Mao said so.

Now it appears some initial estimates may have been a little low about the number of lives that forced move cost.

Historians have known for some time that the Great Leap Forward resulted in one of the world’s worst famines. Demographers have used official census figures to estimate that some 20 to 30 million people died. But inside the archives is an abundance of evidence, from the minutes of emergency committees to secret police reports and public security investigations, that show these estimates to be woefully inadequate.

Yes, I agree, that’s criminal. It is monstrously criminal.  Why?  Well obviously the force used to make people do what the state decided to do makes it criminal.  What makes it monstrously criminal?  Well the number of people that died from it and this:

In all, the records I studied suggest that the Great Leap Forward was responsible for at least 45 million deaths.

Between 2 and 3 million of these victims were tortured to death or summarily executed, often for the slightest infraction. People accused of not working hard enough were hung and beaten; sometimes they were bound and thrown into ponds. Punishments for the least violations included mutilation and forcing people to eat excrement.

They were tortured to death or summarily executed because they disagreed with who should run their lives or for doing something that those who had assumed control of their lives (by force) decided was deserving of capital punishment.

Like these:

One report dated Nov. 30, 1960, and circulated to the top leadership — most likely including Mao — tells how a man named Wang Ziyou had one of his ears chopped off, his legs tied up with iron wire and a 10-kilo stone dropped on his back before he was branded with a sizzling tool. His crime: digging up a potato.

When a boy stole a handful of grain in a Hunan village, the local boss, Xiong Dechang, forced his father to bury his son alive on the spot. The report of the investigative team sent by the provincial leadership in 1969 to interview survivors of the famine records that the man died of grief three weeks later.

Yes, these are the brutal and criminal acts of a ideology that holds the “rights” of the state far above any rights for individuals.  An ideology that many collectivist fellow travelers right here in the US used to defend as the humane answer to capitalism and the “cult” of the individual.  And make no mistake the USSR was no better.  It too resorted to forced collectivization.  In the Ukraine alone, it is estimated that 3.1 to 7 million died from the famine the forced collectivization induced.  In the Soviet Union, almost 2 million kulaks – probably what we would describe as “middle class farmers” were transported to the Gulags or executed.  All their land was confiscated and collectivized.  It wasn’t hard to become an “enemy of the people” just by being born to the wrong people or having worked hard to get ahead.

And as the artificial shortage they call “famine” worsened, what do you suppose those who represented the state did in China (and most likely the USSR)?  They used it to continue the oppression of the people and extend their control.  It became of tool of dominance and it cost many, many people their lives:

Starvation was the punishment of first resort. As report after report shows, food was distributed by the spoonful according to merit and used to force people to obey the party. One inspector in Sichuan wrote that “commune members too sick to work are deprived of food. It hastens their death.”

Imagine that – purposely starving people to death if they wouldn’t cooperate or were too sick to work.   Any guess as to what that drove some too?

One police investigation from Feb. 25, 1960, details some 50 cases in Yaohejia village in Gansu: “Name of culprit: Yang Zhongsheng. Name of victim: Yang Ecshun. Relationship with Culprit: Younger Brother. Manner of Crime: Killed and Eaten. Reason: Livelihood Issues.”

‘”Livelihood issues?  Good lord.  And what did the icon of the collectivist fellow travelers have to say about all of this?

At a secret meeting in Shanghai on March 25, 1959, he ordered the party to procure up to one-third of all the available grain — much more than ever before. The minutes of the meeting reveal a chairman [Mao] insensitive to human loss: “When there is not enough to eat people starve to death. It is better to let half of the people die so that the other half can eat their fill.”

Freakin’ amazing.  For those who continue to wear their Mao T’s there’s your hero and his accomplishments in spades.  And he’s absolutely no different than Che or Fidel or any of the rest of the murdering scum that brought the collectivist, murderous totalitarian socialism known as communism to power.

They should forever be relegated to the same status as Adolf Hitler because in every way they were as bad, if not worse, than he was.

~McQ

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