Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Monday, April 15, 2019

Fire Engulfs Notre Dame Cathedral; "No Guarantee that the Paris Building Can Be Saved"

Terrible news from Paris, as gigantic flames keep leaping from the Notre Dame cathedral, and it doesn't look like it will be ending any time soon.

An assistant to the Interior minister has just tweeted (9:50 pm) that there is no guarantee that the cathedral can be saved (le sauvetage du cathédrale n'est pas acquis) while the fire chief has stated that he is pessimistic about containing the fire, which may spread to the north tower…

Just a few minutes ago, French firefighters responded to Donald Trump's tweet ("Perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put [the massive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral] out. Must act quickly!") by saying that using Canadair planes is not an option: dropping tons of water on the building could cause the entire structure to collapse.

Fox News's Lucia I. Suarez Sang:
The famed Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, France was engulfed in flames on Monday leading to the collapse of the structure's main spire. The intense flames leaped out from two of its bell towers minutes before the spire collapsed, and later spread to one of the cathedral's iconic rectangular towers.
A church spokesman told French media that all of Notre Dame cathedral's frame is burning after the spire collapsed.
"Everything is burning, nothing will remain from the frame," Notre Dame spokesman Andre Finot told local outlets.

 … Paris emergency services said they were trying to salvage the artwork stored in the cathedral.
The French capital's police department said no deaths have been reported but didn't say anything about injuries.

 … Sources told Fox News that it appears the fire, which comes one day after Psalm Sunday, was related to recent construction done at the cathedral.
Now is not the time to go into polemics, but at the same time, I cannot refrain from calling out the wife of the elderly French couple interviewed on TF1 (no, it wasn't Ilhan Omar) who said that when the church's spire collapsed (see above), it reminded her of New York in 2001 when the Twin Towers caved in. Again, now is not the time to revive old polemics, but if there are good news from the Île de la Cité, it is that there has (thankfully) not been a single victim…

Update — from Instapundit: “Nothing will remain from the fire,” spokesman says


Monday, April 08, 2019

“The Conceptual Penis” was such an obvious gag that no one could have taken the ludicrous paper seriously — no one except a gender studies scholar


Starting in June of 2017, three academics — James Lindsay, Helen Pluckrose, and Peter Boghossian — began writing intentionally ludicrous papers under false names and submitting them to peer-reviewed academic journals. The authors mimicked the catchphrases and buzzwords of the “grievance studies” fields they sought to expose — the language of intersectionality, privilege, and feminism.
writes Benny Huang on Liberty Unyielding.
Though the papers were fake, the experiment was very real. The hoaxers wanted to see if the hallowed journals’ peer reviewers could discern twaddle from real scholarship. In short: the reviewers couldn’t, at least not when it appealed to their prejudices.

The experiment was interrupted in October 2018 when a Wall Street Journal reporter, Jillian Kay Melchior, exposed the project. Melchior had noticed one of the papers, “Dog Park,” which focused on “dog rape culture,” and found it just too ridiculous to be believed. She apparently had more sense than the staff of Gender, Place & Culture, which gladly published the confabulated paper.

By the time the Wall Street Journal blew the whistle, twenty papers had been submitted in total. Seven papers had been accepted, though only four had been published; seven others were at various stages of review and only six had been rejected.

Gender, Place & Culture even recognized “Dog Park” as “excellent scholarship,” and no wonder — its subtitle was “Human reactions to rape culture and queer performativity at urban dog parks in Portland, Oregon.” I’m sure they lapped that up with a spoon.

The paper’s pseudonymous author, “Helen Wilson,” claimed to have based her findings on a data set consisting of just fewer than ten thousand canine genital inspections. This was so crazy that “Wilson” — who is actually James Lindsay — expected some much-deserved incredulity.

But it never came. Not only did the journal fail to question the data set; it didn’t lift a finger to determine the identity of “Helen Wilson,” much less to verify her credentials as an expert. They simply accepted Dr. Wilson as an authority in doggie sexuality.

“We flattered what they wanted to hear and then they told us it was an important contribution to feminist geography,” said James Lindsay.

As a college grad myself, I can tell you that this is exactly how academia works. Students learn early on that the key to academic success is to emulate the style, tone, and above all the message of their professors. If the profs are talking endlessly about the “social construction of whiteness” — or maleness, or heteronormativity — they should too. That’s how to get an A, how to get recommended for grad school, and how to get hired as an adjunct professor.

An environment like this is fertile ground for farcical “scholarship.”

And it’s been this way for years. 

[Alan Sokal's 1996 paper about the social construction of gravity], and later Lindsay’s, Pluckrose’s, and Boghossian’s papers, stand as shining examples of Poe’s Law. For the uninitiated, Poe’s Law states simply that it is impossible to parody extremist views because the parody will inevitably be mistaken as a genuine expression — even by people who hold those extremist views.

 … Two of the more recent pranksters, Peter Boghossian and James Lindsay, had already scored a stand-alone hoax paper “The Conceptual Penis As A Social Construct,” which was published in Cogent Social Sciences, a misnamed journal if ever there was one. The paper appeared in May 2017, which appears to be right before they undertook the more audacious twenty papers project the following month.

“The Conceptual Penis” was such an obvious gag that no one could have taken it seriously — no one except a gender studies scholar, which tells us a lot about gender studies as a field. The thrust of the paper is that penises “conceptually” cause global warming and all sorts of other really bad stuff, an obvious attempt to suck up to their reviewers’ biases.

The paper drips with misandry. Penises are bad because men are bad.

 … The rush to publish anything that sounds sufficiently “woke” has an equal but opposite counterpart — the reluctance to publish anything considered reactionary.

 … No paper, no matter how carefully researched and written, would ever be published if it came to the “wrong” conclusions. Conversely, no paper, no matter how sloppily written, would be rejected if it came to the “right” conclusions. Conclusions drive the research, not the other way around. …

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Ventriloquist Journalism: Most MSM journalists already have their story written and are looking for a specific quote that fits their narrative


Scott [Johnson’s] two posts on his and Victor Davis Hanson’s treatment by The New Yorker calls to mind one of the first and most important lessons I learned from my mentor in journalism, the great M. Stanton Evans
writes Powerline's Steven Hayward (thanks to Instapundit):

Most “mainstream” journalists are not merely biased, but have a narrative story line in mind when they begin “reporting,”  so that when they call you on the phone, they aren’t looking for actual information and perspective—they are looking for a specific quote to drop in their story that fits their narrative. The point is: when you deal with the media, it is not just their innate liberalism you need to be on guard for—you need to keep in mind that they already have their story written.

There’s nothing Scott could have done to alter the Wallace-Wells attack on him since it is obvious that he had his story line already done. There’s another especially egregious example of ventriloquist journalism going on right now besides Scott and Victor’s experience that I’ll come to in a moment.

Stan Evans had a typically great label for this—he called it “ventriloquist journalism.” Reporters have in mind a specific quote they’d like to have from you, and have developed great skill in teasing it out of people. Think of it as just one aspect of fake news. I had quite a bit of first-hand experience with this during my years in Washington, and I got good at spotting the technique and having the discipline not to give in to the usual reporter’s tricks.

Often I’d get a call from a reporter wanting my comment on something the Bush Administration was doing, and the question, in substance, was usually: “Don’t you think the Bush Administration is doing the wrong thing?” (Though always more artfully put than that.) And when I didn’t give the answer the “reporter” was looking for, they’d keep asking the same question over and over again in different forms, because what they needed for their story was a way to say something like, “But even a conservative at the American Enterprise Institute thinks Bush is making a mistake. ‘Bush is making a mistake,’ said Steven Hayward. . .”

Sometimes a reporter would keep me on the phone for 30 minutes or more, hoping I’d give in. I learned the discipline of never giving in to this trick, and what do you know? I was never quoted in any of the stories that “reporters” like this filed. Nor did any of the information or analysis I had about the issue make it into the story, because background information and perspective was not what the reporter was looking for.

 … You need to do your due diligence about any reporter who contacts you. I try to look up stories by any reporter who contacts me to see if I can divine their slant or predominant practices.

There is one other piece of advice I give to everyone: always run your own complete audio and/or video recording of any interview you do with a reporter. Then you have your own complete record to use in follow ups with editors, or if you want to do you own story about how it really went down.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

15th Anniversary of My First Post for No Pasarán

A few weeks after the founding of No Pasarán, 15 years ago, I was invited to join as the blog's fourth blogger (after Douglas, Jonathan, and Liminal aka U*2, and prior to N Joe).

The blog's inaugural pledge was that we
 "will commentate on current events with all the psychotic calm and serenity of a Palestinian father who explains that he can't wait for his 2 surviving sons to become martyrs"
Of the more than 13,000 posts that have been written since 2004 (13,362, to be exact, as of today), I consider the following couple of posts to be two of the most important:
The Era of the Drama Queens: Every Crisis Is a Triumph
The Leftist Worldview in a Nutshell: A world of Deserving Dreamers Vs. Despicable Deplorables
Today is the anniversary of my first contribution (thanks to Ed for the Instapundit link), which related how I attended a conference in Normandy (at a museum linked to the D-Day landings, no less!) with some of France's best-known journalist VIPs and how I rose to challenge the group on the French media's coverage of the Iraq conflict.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004


Growling for Colombani

Any of you who have seen me over the past 10 days knows how furious I get anytime I read or hear the French media trying to stuff down our throats their self-serving lying charges (those against Aznar, Bush, and Blair, i.e., anybody whom they don't feel any sympathy with).

So when I read that the Mémorial de Caen was organizing a conference with Jean-Marie Colombani, among others ("QUELLE LIBERTÉ POUR L'INFORMATION DANS UN MONDE INQUIÉTANT ?" [What freedom for information in a distressing world?], organized in tandem with Les Amis de l'hebdomadaire La Vie and Reporters sans Frontières), I knew I had to attend. I wanted to give Le Monde's director a piece of my mind (in a diplomatic manner, natch). Three hours before it started at 7 pm on March 23, 2004, I jumped into my trusty jalopy, and drove the 260 km to Caen, arriving just in the nick of time.

And sure enough, the first thing any of the five intervenants did (with a constant wry smile on his face) was to attack the lies of politicians, ridicule the partisanship of the media, and bemoan the jingoism of the population (meaning those of the US, the UK, and Aznar's Spain exclusively, bien sûr). It was Jean-Marie Charon, "Sociologue des médias" (whatever that means), who opened the débat — the others being (left to right on the admittedly unclear photo) Colombani, Walter Wells, Directeur de l'International Herald Tribune (beard), Jean-Jacques Lerosier, Grand reporter à Ouest-France, and Jacqueline Papet, Rédactrice-en-chef de RFI, with the moderators answering to the names of Daniel Junqua, Journaliste et Vice-président de RSF, and Jean-Claude Escaffit, Journaliste à La Vie et Directeur des Amis de La Vie.

Before I left Paris, I'd reviewed and written down (in telegraph-style) a handful of arguments: these ranged from the Iraqis quoted in Reason, on Iraq the Model, and in Le Monde itself, to Doug's post on Le Monde's partisan mistranslation of Michael Ignatieff's piece in the New York Times.

The only problem was a rather big one, I learned as a I headed for my seat: questions would not be permitted, except in written form on small pieces of paper handed over to one of the animators. So I knew I had to pay close attention if I wanted to find an appropriate moment when to jump in. And I would obviously not have time to develop any of the arguments (especially since Eskaffit seemed to be a control freak).

It happened towards the end. There was a brief lull as Wells was about to make his last extensive remarks. Suddenly everybody turned to me as I let out : "Je pense que nous devons tous remercier les médias français pour leur admirable abilité à détecter les mensonges. Mais je ne comprends pas pourquoi ces spécialistes en la matière ignorent des sujets qui ont été traités dans le Herald Tribune, par exemple." (This was punctuated by Eskaffit's protests on his mike, you realize.) "Nous avons pu y lire des articles détaillant ce qu'on pourrait taxer de mensonges dans le camp de la paix, comme le fait que les Allemands, les Russes, et les Français avaient pas mal d'affaires avec les autorités baasistes, et que Total devait avoir un contrat exclusif avec Saddam Hussein. Pourquoi les médias français n'en font-ils pas autant état que de ce qui concerne les Ricains, les Rosbifs, et les Espagnols?"
[Translation: "I think we should all be grateful to the French media for their admirable ability to detect lies. But I do not understand why these experts in the field are ignorant of topics that have been covered in the Herald Tribune, for example." (This was punctuated by Eskaffit's protests on his mike, you realize.) "We have read articles detailing what could be taxed as lies from the peace camp, such as the fact that the Germans, the Russians, and the French had quite a lot of business dealings with the Baathist authorities, and that Total had an exclusive contract with Saddam Hussein. Why don't the French media make as much fuss about that as about the Yanks, the Limeys, and the Spaniards?"]
Eskaffit was growing increasingly more vocal in asking/telling me to keep quiet (shades of Chirac?) — he claimed that "de toutes façons", nobody could hear me — so seeing the end approaching (and having a hard time competing against a microphone), I pulled out my final ace — the final ace being a book, which I held above my head. (Yes, there did seem to be a somewhat theatrical element to this scene; why do you ask?) "Et en matière de mensonges, il y a ce livre d'un rédacteur de La Croix, qui a été licencié pour l'avoir publié, qui s'appelle Comment la presse nous a désinformés sur l'Irak. Et qui raconte les partis pris des Français pour diaboliser Bush, pour sanctifier Chirac, et pour communier avec les partis de la 'paix'."
[Translation: "And in terms of lies, there is this book by an editor of La Croix, which is called How the Press Disinformed Us on Iraq, and who indeed was fired for publishing it. And who details the bias of the French to demonize Bush, to sanctify Chirac, and to commune with the 'peace' parties."]
Even a few audience members had by now started to tell me to keep quiet, but that seemed an appropriate place to end anyway, so with that I sat down.

As for Eskaffit, he went on talking to the intervenants… ignoring completely what I had said. (While a couple of people behind me asked to see the book.) Well, I felt I had done my blogger's duty, so to speak, so I sat back, pretty content with myself.

Then, as Junqua made his last remarks, I understood that some people had heard me; the RSF moderator surprised me by pulling out his own copy of Alain Hertoghe's book (which he had in his briefcase), and explained that it provided a negative view of the French media during the Iraq war. But then he added that there was another book, detailing the French press's doings during the first Gulf war, with a positive slant, and that one could not read the first book without comparing it to the second. He tried to conclude that Hertoghe's book was a partisan "brûlot" that was not very friendly to his colleagues. (This from a colloque which had just declared that, happily, the old tradition in the press of refusing to criticize one's colleagues had now become "caduc"!)

I wasn't going to let him get away with that as the final word, so I let out another comment: "Les médias ont complètement censuré ce livre!" (But Eskaffit immediately started interrupting again.)
 [Translation: "The media thoroughly censored this book!"]
Afterwards, I went up to speak to some of the intervenants. Wells asked to see Hertoghe's book, which he wanted to check out. As for Junqua, he admitted it was news to him that the La Croix editor had been fired as a result of the book's publication.

So, all in all, a satisfying 10 minutes. (But hardly worth doing again, not at that distance. At least not without a couple of chums to have a drink with, afterwards.)

P.S. This is my first post for ¡No Pasarán! Muchas gracias, amigos, for inviting me to participar.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Har Donald Trump ikke ret om socialismen?


    I sin tale om nationens tilstand (the State of the Union) sagde Donald Trump, manden som er beskrevet i hele Europa som en værre – og farlig – tåbe, at »Vi må … beslutte os for, at Amerika aldrig bliver et socialistisk land«

    Den generale holdning i Vesteuropa, samt blandt USAs demokrater, er det kan kun være en dyd at oprette et velfærdssystem.

    Men er Venezuela ikke blot et eksempel (og kun, desværre, det allerseneste) på at det – tydeligt – er forkert?

    Efter 20 år af Hugo Chávez og Nicolás Maduros socialistiske Revolution, kan borgerne i hvad var engang Sydamerikas rigeste land nu nyde manglen på mad, medicin og toiletpapir, samt strømafbrydelser, hyperinflation, og generelt en økonomi i frit fald, mens millioner af folk søger at flygte til nabolandene (google BBC's "How Venezuela's crisis developed and drove out millions of people").

    Som så mange andre, både i USA og andetsteds i verden (ikke mindst Danmark), var Michael Moore fuld af begejstring og beundring over den Bolvarianske revolution da Hugo Chávez kom til magten for 20 år siden.  Så sent som i 2013 skrev filminstruktøren f.eks. at "Chavez har erklæret at olien tilhører folket.  Han brugte olie dollars til at eliminere 75% af ondartet fattigdom, og til at forsyne alle med et gratis sundhedssystem og uddannelse."

    Hvad er det, at en Michael Moore, en Oliver Stone, en Bernie Sanders, en Michael Tackett og en Dan Jørgensen, samt millioner af danskere, ikke forstår, at i Venezuela er socialismen ikke blot mislykket, det har bragt borgerne i Latinamerikas allerrigeste land til fattigdommens rand?

    I deres iver efter at vise hvor overlegen resten af verden – eller i hvert fald Europa – er i forhold til USA glemmer de at omtale de (mange) lande hvor det har vist sig at "tåberne" (udtrykket – som de fleste danskere er givetvis enige med – stammer fra Niels Jespersen i Berlingske vedrørende sådanne folk som Ronald Reagan, Sarah Palin, og Donald Trump) som er skeptiske overfor indførelsen af et nationalt velfærdssamfund har utvivlsomt haft ret.

     Fordi det ikke har et sundhedssystem som "alle andre lande" bliver Kapitalismens hjemland regelmæssigt beskrevet som et "mareridt".  Skulle ordet ikke hellere anvendes om Venezuela, en nation med tomme supermarkedhylder der lider en 85% mangel på medicin og hvor millioner prøver at udvandre?

    Donald Trumps udtryk for sådan nogle lande skulle være "shitholes" (hvis det virkeligt passer at præsidenten har brugt det ord), et udtryk der er blevet ganske vist kritiseret over hele kloden.

    Nu taler vi om lande med tomme supermarkedhylder hvor man skal bruge flere timer hver dag til at købe et stykke brød eller en rulle toiletpapir (hvadenten det er i Leningrad – for en generation siden var det Sovjetunionen – eller Caracas) – hvis sådanne varer overhovedet kan findes.

    Er det virkelig taktløs at kalde sådan nogle lande for "shitholes"?

    Hvad ellers skal man kalde et land hvor en væsentlig del af befolkningen – hvadenten der er fra Latinamerika (i Venezuela er det en sjettedel) eller Syrien – er udvandret til udlandet i de sidste ti år?!

    Betyder det så ikke at emigranterne selv siger —  i så mange ord – at deres egne lande kan de facto beskrives som et shithole

"THE BLIND SPOT" I FOX NEWS KONTROVERSET

    I dette sammenhæng har der været meget humor over at en Fox News journalist har sammenlignet Venezuela med Danmark.  Der har utvivlsomt været overdrivelse i Trish Regans reportage, men kan det ikke virke lidt indskrænkende at den eneste lektie, som danskerne synes at have taget fra kontroverset er (igen) at de konservative amerikanere er ikke andet end nogle uvidende tumper som burde kende mere til verdenen?  (Samt selvfølgelig den stedsegrønne drøm om at USA burde efterligne Skandinavien og – endelig – få et socialistisk samfund.)

    Sig mig:  Passer det virkelig at danskerne bare kan lay back and relax?  Har danskerne ikke egentlig også en lektie at lære?  Som måske er vigtigere…  At når "tosserne" er betænkelige om lande (eller rettere om revolutionernes ledere) der har valgt socialismen, har de ofte haft… god grund til det?  Er Chavez's Venezuela (efter bl.a. Lenins USSR, Ceausescus Rumænien, og Maos Kina) ikke et godt bevis på det?

    Har alle lande (eller rettere, alle revolutionernes ledere) ikke lovet samme fremtid i skandinavisk stil?

    Hvem kan forudse med sikkerhed, om en venstreorienteret regime vil følge Denmarks eksempel eller Venezuelas?  Er der nogen (Michael Moore?  Bernie Sanders?  Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?  Dan Jørgensen?), der har svar på det spørgsmål?

    Da Donald Trump gav sin første tale i FN i 2017, fokuserede medierne (det, som han kalder for "fake news") på det kontroversielle – hans kommentarer om Nordkorea og "Rocketman"; både i USA og i udlandet undlod de for det meste at berette om, hvad præsidenten havde at sige om socialismen.

    “The problem in Venezuela, is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented.  From the Soviet Union to Cuba to Venezuela, wherever true socialism or communism has been adopted, it has delivered anguish and devastation and failure.”  Følgende år sagde Trump at “Today, socialism has bankrupted the oil-rich nation and driven its people into abject poverty.”

    Vedrørende Trumps State of the Union: i Information griner en George Blecher af "talens gammeldags præg – og selv dens 1950'er-agtige udfald imod socialismens røde fare", men sandheden er, at socialismen synes at være den eneste ideologi som man skal bedømme på alene deres (sjældne) "succeser." Aldrig skal følgende lande nævnes: Albanien, Algeriet, Angola, Burma, Congo, Cuba, Ethiopien, Laos, Somalien, Vietnam, Yemen, osv osv osv…

    Næh, kun de skandinaviske lande og/eller Vesteuropa skal nævnes – selv om vi her i Skandinvien protesterer (med rette) at udtrykket Socialisme er langtfra en tilpassende beskrivelse om vore lande.

    I The Daily Signal forklarer David Harsanyi at "nutidens socialister [amerikanske såvel som udenlandske] klukker højt ved at lade som om kollektivistiske politik ikke fører til andet end uskadelige resultater som lokale biblioteker. Men i mange år priste de også diktatorerne i Cuba, Nicaragua og Venezuela" (for ikke at nævne Sovjetunionen og Kina).

    Det er ikke kun det danske system som danskernes yndlingspolitiker i USA, Bernie Sanders, har hyldet. "For ikke særlig længe siden," fortsætter David Harsanyi, roste Vermont Senatoren "Hugo Chavez som arkitekten af the American Dream, endnu mere end selveste USA." (!)

    Socialister i udlandet og i USA, som Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), "kan lide at bebrejde enhver ulighed, enhver glubsk forbryders handling, enhver nedtur og enhver social sygdom på kapitalismens uretfærdighed. Men ingen af dem indrømmer, at kapitalismen har været den mest effektive måde i historien til at afskaffe fattigdom."  Samt den mest effektive måde i historien til at financiere… det enkelte lands hele velfærdssystem.

NOGLE PINLIGE SPØRGSMÅL OM DET DANSKE VELFÆRDSSYSTEM

     Det siges at hvis socialismen har været en katastrofe i visse lande der fører til elendighed og fattigdom, så kan det ikke nægtes at det været en succes i en del andre lande.

    Det bringer os til adskillige pinlige spørgsmål:

    Passer det ikke, at de fleste lande hvor velfærdssamfundet blev oprettet nogenlunde godt efter Anden Verdenskrig – hovedsageligt Japan og Vesteuropa – er netop de lande som fik kæmpe injectioner af penge fra udlandet efter krigen; dvs milliarder af dollars fra – who else? – Amerika (i Europa, via Marshall-planen)?

    Udover det, har man lov til at sige at danskernes stolthed over deres sociale system nogengange undlader nogle betydningsfulde detaljer?

    To af de ting, man mest beskylder USA for er dels, at amerikanerne ikke bruger nok på det sociale og dels, at deres "krigsgale" generaler bruger (alt) for meget på militæret – mens de peger på deres egne landes fredelige, og gavmilde, brug af deres BNP (dvs af deres skatteyderes skattepenge).

    Men hov! passer det ikke, at hvis lande i Vesteuropa bruger lidet på deres egen militær medens de har penge til råde til at bruge penge på det sociale, er det ikke fordi – et det ikke netop fordi – Uncle Sam bruger så meget på Amerikas forsvar; som også fungerer som forsvar for hele Vesten?

    Forklarer det ikke samtidig amerikanske presidenters regelmæssige bønfald til Europa at bidrage mere til forsvaret, senest Donald Trumps vrede i Brussel over NATO i 2018?

    Det korte af det lange er følgende:  Europæerne kan gå rundt og prale over deres status som alhellige fredsstiftere i kontrast til de afskyelige amerikanske tumper præcis fordi deres regninger bliver betalt af og deres forsvar bliver garanteret af samme afskyelige amerikanske tumper.

    Hvorom alting er, så gentager vi danskere, hvor stolte vi er, at vi har dette sundhedssystem som vi allesammen har gavn af.

    Må nogle flere spørgsmål blive stillet?

    Var vi ikke lige så stolte af vores sundhedssystem for 10 år siden?  For 20 år siden?  For 40 år siden?  For dem som var i live dengang kan svaret næppe være andet end et helt sikkert ja.

    Ligeledes med andre emner, som vore kørefartøjer, eller vore telefoner.  Er vi ikke tilfredse med vore telefoner nu?  Var vi, eller vore forældre, ikke lige så tilfredse med vore telefoner for ti àr siden?  For 40 år siden?  Var vore forfædre ikke lige så tilfredse med vore telefoner for 100 år siden?  Med vore kommunikationsmidler i det 16. århundrede?  I det 11.?

    Men I dag ville vi ikke være tilfredse med vore kommunikationsmidler for 1000, eller 500, år siden.  Vi ville ikke være tilfredse med telefonerne fra 1930erne, eller fra 1970erne, eller fra 1990erne.  Faktisk ville vi den dag idag næppe være tilfredse med vore telefoner for blot 3-4 år siden.

    I mellemtiden er der nemlig kommet fremskridt.  Og hvor kommer den fremgang fra?  Kommer det ikke primært fra Nordamerika?

    Det er der ikke mange der tror på (fordi der ikke er mange der tænker over emnet?).  Find en liste på nobelpriserne i medecin (samt andre videnskabelige emner): Det er ikke altid amerikanere der vinder.  Men det er det oftest.  Og mange af de englændere og andre udlænginge der vinder har ofte arbejdet på… amerikanske instituter.

    For eksempel blev den franske presse stolt, da en franskmand var blandt Nobel vinderne i medecin i 2008 for forskninger om AIDS. Men dengang var Luc Montagnier ikke længere til at findes på l'Institut Pasteur; han var blevet tvunget ud af sit arbejde på grund af hans pensionsalder (social retfærdighed, forstås) og arbejdede i… USA.  (Den dag idag findes han forresten i Kina.)

    De seneste udviklinger der hjælper medicinens fremgang er personal computers og smartphones, opfindelser der var helt utænkelige da jeg blev født, og som ikke engang fandtes i science fiction historier.

    For et par år siden sad jeg ganske fredeligt på en café i Paris og nød en drink da jeg pludselig begyndte at se uhyggelige brune pletter der dansede foran det ene øje.  Jeg ringede til en venindes far som var pensioneret øjenlæge, og han sagde at jeg måtte øjeblikkeligt (hvis jeg må have lov til at bruge udtrykket) tage til l'Hôpital des Quinze-Vingts.  Det viste sig at være begyndelsen af en retinal løsrivelse.

    Næste gang vi mødtes, spurgte jeg ham hvordan det ville være gået da han var øjenlæge for 30 år siden.  Jo, jeg ville have fået en aftale med en specialist, og efter en tretimers operation ville jeg have overnattet i en hospitalsseng.  Men i 2016?  Der fik jeg laserbehandling fra en medicinsk pratikant, en pige 23 eller 24 år gammel, og efter 20 minutter var det slut og jeg fik lov til at gå hjem (givet, efter to-tre timer i ventesalen).

    Igen:  Ville danskerne (eller franskmændende) være tilfredse den dag idag for den velfærdssystem Danmark (eller Frankrig) havde for 50 år, eller 20 år, eller blot 5 år, siden?

    Nu ønsker man inderligt, at amerikanerne efterligner Europa — gid de der yankees kunne, ligesom os, bare ingen bekymringer have og fokusere på at have det sjovt og more sig — uden at det påvirker landets "can do" spirit.

    Da langt de fleste opfindelser der i de sidste 200 år – hvadenten det er i Nordamerika eller andetsteds i verden, hvadenten det er dampskibe eller jernbaner, hvadenten det er personal computers eller smartphones – er kommet fra eller er blevet forbedret i USA, burde alle forsøg på at ødelægge eller hæmme fornyelser (også kaldet: killing the goose that lays the golden eggs) ikke afværges?

    Som Stanford "policy expert" Lanhee Chen fortæller i en Prager University video (What's Wrong with Government-Run Healthcare?), "systemer hvor regeringen kontrollerer sundhedsvæsenet, nedtrykker på søgen efter nye botemidler og innovation … [og] medicinske gennembrud kommer sjældent fra sådanne lande. De kommer fra USA, hvor regeringen holder sig fra. … Biomedicinske forskningsudgifter i USA overstiger langt fra ethvert land med nationaliseret sundhedspleje … Løvens andel af de biomedicinske forsknings- og udviklingsudgifter i USA – over 70 milliarder dollar i 2012 – kommer fra den private sektor."  Dermed får amerikanerne innovation, som alle andre folkeslag eventuelt får nytte fra.

    (Men i det hele taget må det siges at danskerne burde holde sig bort fra de circa 200 korte Prager University videoer på internettet; det ville jo være forfærdeligt hvis den almindelige dansker ikke længere kunne overbevises om, hvor tumpet den almindelige yankee var.)

DEN SANDE GRUND HVORFOR USAs DEMOKRATER HYLDER SKANDINAVIEN
(OG HVORFOR EUROPÆERNE HYLDER USAs DEMOKRATER)

    Men lad os droppe Danmark som eksempel, så den almindelige læser ikke bliver forarget.  Lad os tale i stedet for om et af nabolandene.

    I sin bog om de nordiske lande (“The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia”, på dansk “Det er et lykkeligt land”), skriver Michael Booth at i "størstedelen af det 20. århundrede har Sverige de facto været en etpartistat, og partiet hed Socialdemokraterna.  De regulerede alle aspekter af deres pligtopfyldende, føjelige borgeres liv og gjorde deres yderste for at sørge for, at alle overholdt deres moderne, progressive samfundsnormer."

    Når forfatteren (som iøvrigt er venstreorienteret) beskriver Sverige som "en totalitær stat", er det selvfølgelig ikke i samme grad som f.eks. Sovjetunionen, men fordi der "var ikke ret mange aspekter af svenskernes liv, som staten ikke bestræbte sig at kontrollere – fra lønninger til børneopdragelse, drikkevaner, tv-vaner, længden af deres ferier og deres syn på Vietnam-krigen" (cf. Uncle Sams påståede forfærdelige undenrigspolitik).

    Men danskerne, og resten af de nordiske lande (hvis ikke hele verdenen), er overbevist om at intet kunne blive bedre for USA, og for verden selv, end hvis USA blev "fundamentally transformed" (Barack Obamas ord) og endelig fik lige så ekstensiv en administrativ formynderstat (på engelsk: a nanny state) som de europeiske lande har.

    Hvis det er rigtigt at Barack Obama var den vidunderligste amerikanske præsident i verdenshistorien (ligesom, i deres tid, Lenin og Che Guevara, for ikke at glemme Mao og Chávez, etc etc etc…), bliver den eneste logiske konklusion så ikke at det ville være vidunderligt for landet hvis sådan et pragtfuld Übermensch blev livsvarig Leder?

    Hvis det er rigtigt at demokraternes modstandere er så væmmelige som de beskyldes for ("deplorables", kalder Hillary Clinton republikanerne jo), er den logiske konklusion så ikke at disse umenneskelige barbarer burde miste flere rettigeheder, deriblandt deres free speech (ytringsfrihed) samt deres valgrettigeheder?

    Og er den logiske konklusion så ikke at republikanerne faktisk er folkefjender, som burde straffes — hvadenten det er med tab af valgrettigheder, høje(re) skatter og beslaglæggelse af adskillige egendomme?

    Eller måske burde Republikanerne faktisk sættes i genopdragelseslejre, for at blive omskolet?  Så kunne de endelig anerkende hvor vidunderligt det er for et folk at have venstreorienterede politikere, professionnelle funktionærer, og utallige love til dannelse af en nanny state der regerer ethvert aspekt af deres daglige liv?

    Det er jo ganske ufatteligt at amerikanerne ikke kan indse, hvor heldige de ville være, hvis blot Hillary eller Bernie eller AOC (eller Barack, stadig) var i det Hvide Hus.  Det er også ubegribeligt at amerikanerne ikke kan forstå hvor lykkelige de ville være hvis blot de havde lige så høje skatter som i Danmark, hvis blot de havde lige så mange funktionærer som i Danmark, og hvis blot de havde lige så meget bureaukrati som i Danmark.  (Og hermed lukker vi for sarkasmehanen.)

    Husk Booths beskrivelser om Sveriges etpartistat:  er den logiske konklusion ikke at drømmen om USA under demokraterne (hvadenten det er i selveste USA eller i udlandet) bliver et spejlbillede af Sverige under Socialdemokraterna?

    Bliver den logiske konklusion så ikke af den almindelige kritik af USA lyder temmelig meget som et spejlbillede af socialismens/kommunismens drømme?

    (Og forresten, forstår vi nu ikke lidt bedre hvorfor amerikanerne ønsker at skulle holde fast til deres våben og til deres Second Amendment?)

Sunday, March 03, 2019

We "will commentate on current events with all the psychotic calm and serenity of a Palestinian father who explains that he can't wait for his 2 surviving sons to become martyrs": No Pasarán Celebrates 15th Anniversary

Fifteen years ago, after enduring months of unceasing tirades of criticism and venom from Europe (and especially France) linked to George W Bush's 2003 invasion of Saddam Hussein's Iraq, a handful of independent bloggers (Douglas, Jonathan, and Liminal aka U*2) made good on their vow to unite their efforts and create a single, common weblog, one by the name of No Pasarán! (I would join five weeks later, and N Joe a year or two later.)

Of the more than 13,000 posts that have been written since 2004, I consider the following couple of posts to be two of the most important:
The Era of the Drama Queens: Every Crisis Is a Triumph
The Leftist Worldview in a Nutshell: A world of Deserving Dreamers Vs. Despicable Deplorables
Below are the first two days of No Pasarán!

Friday, February 20, 2004


Let's cool off Il faut décompresser
Being a tad worried about my reputation [over at the blog Merde in France] I have decided to not write any controversial posts on this blog. Therefore, I will commentate on France's current events with all the psychotic calm and serenity of a Palestinian father who explains that he can't wait for his two surviving sons to become martyrs. How's that? Etant un tant soit peu soucieux de ma réputation, je tâcherai de me limiter à des postes qui ne provoquent point de polémiques sur ce blog. Donc, je vous relaterai la situation en Fwance avec tout le calme et toute la sérenité psychotiques normalement employés par un père palestinien qui vous explique qu'il a hâte de voir ses deux fils survivants se transformer en martyres. Ça vous va?



United States

Le Monde's website is advertising a "lexicon for better understanding the United States" on the right-hand side of its front page. Although you have to pay in order to access the dictionary that contains over 400 "words of America," the advertisement is telling. If you click on the ad, a slide show opens with the following definitions:

(1) Sex: Sodomy remains illegal in a number of American states, and Bush promotes abstinence.
(2) Botox: 7.4 million Americans spent 7.7 billion euros on plastic surgery in 2000.
(3) Televangelists: The successors of nineteenth century traveling preachers, televangelists are television stars.

It's comforting to know that Le Monde is doing its part to break down misunderstandings and stereotypes between French and Americans. Now we just need Conan O'Brien to come up with a dictionary for Americans to understand France.

International Law:

Last month, the ship, Bugaled Breizh, sunk off of southern England. Five Frenchmen died. The culprit was allegedly a Philippine-registered vessel called the Seattle Trader, which may have collided with the Bugaled Breizh. Although the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea indicates that vessels are under the jurisdiction of the country in which they are registered and therefore any action with respect to the Seattle Trader should be authorized by the Philippine government, France is bringing justice to the alleged culprits and is hunting them down. Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has denounced France's actions as "gun-boat diplomacy."

International Law:

Three years after the Convention was created, France has ratified the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, which restricts production of certain pesticides, industrial chemicals and unintended byproducts of combustion such as DDT, PCBs and dioxin. France was the fiftieth country to ratify the Convention, and "fifty" was the number required for the Convention to enter into force.

The United States is a signatory to the treaty, and President Bush submitted the Convention for ratification to the Senate back in 2002.
And here is the second day of the blog: 

Saturday, February 21, 2004


We have no bananas to-day!

Let's check in on our friend Dieudonné. Where do we find his career?



The stunt he pulled seems to be costing him dearly, according to Le Monde. The paper writes that the show he was supposed to have yesterday at L'Olympia was canceled. The venue's directors issued a press release stating that, after receiving anonymous threats, they were canceling the show due to the "climate of extreme tension we have observed over several days." They say that Olympia would "not have the means to guarantee the security of its audience and employees." Indeed, Olympia claim that on Tuesday they received a letter from police headquarters that "reminded [the director] of his responsibilities" and pointed out "that the staff in private establishments are responsible for safety and security on their premises." Contacted by the AFP, Dieudo's agent said the "funny man" didn't want to "react in anger."

So much for that. Dieudonné decided to hold his show in the street outside the theater.
They came by the hundred to chant the slogan "freedom of speech" and to support Dieudonné, who decided to have his show on a platform erected on the sidewalk opposite Olympia, the venue where he was supposed to have performed on Friday and which canceled this.

The humorist raised his arms, greeted his fans, the "descendants of slaves," the "Arabs," the "blacks" and also the whites of all ages who had massed on the boulevard des Capucines in Paris, surrounded by anti-riot police. "We love you," shouted young girls, waving their cameras.
Libération is writing derisively that now Diedonné "takes himself for a defender of the black cause" and reports that the "comedian" said "400 years of slavery and we don't have the right to speak!"

Alain Finkielkraut is criticizing those who leveled threats against l'Olympia (causing the venue to fear for its safety), as he thinks they are "transforming [Dieudonné] into a martyr for human rights and freedom of speech."

Dieudonné is now claiming that he's been banned from French public television. "I've been banned from the TV... just like Coluche and Bedos once were." This was categorically denied however by France 2. Do you imagine they have any interest in seeing him ever again? Do you think many other venues will want to book him now? Can we now ask, as W. once did, "Dis donc Dieudo, les recettes de ton dernier spectacle, ça achète beaucoup de bananes?"

reconnaissance

Le Monde is also offering a slide show of reconnaissance photos (note that in French reconnaissance means "gratitude") from World War II. Some are from the Imperial War Museum, some from the Aerial Reconnaissance Achives and some from the Public Record Office. They include that now famous photo of Auschwitz-Birkenau ("at its criminal apex") and of Omaha Beach (on D-day).

On décompresse...



Ça se fait comme ça... con nosotros

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Strings attached: Chinese authorities, censors, and consumers influence nearly every aspect of American moviemaking in China


Hollywood has become so entangled with China that the movie industry can’t run without it
writes Erich Schwartzel in the Wall Street Journal.
Chinese investors and more than a billion potential moviegoers have made China indispensable to the film business. The country’s box-office total last year, at $6.6 billion, was the world’s second-largest compared with the first-place U.S., $11.4 billion. In a few years, analysts predict, China will be No. 1.

While the U.S. movie-ticket sales have remained relatively flat, China’s have more than tripled since 2011.

 … Private and state-backed Chinese companies have invested tens of billions of dollars in U.S. film ventures over the past decade. The relationship comes with strings attached. Chinese authorities, censors and consumers influence nearly every aspect of American moviemaking in China, from scripts to casting to greenlighting sequels.

… “We’re in a moment of significant disruption,” said Richard Lovett, president of Creative Artists Agency, which represents such clients as Sandra Bullock and J.J. Abrams. The firm announced Monday it was expanding its footprint in the country with a division called CAA China.

China’s ambition befits the big screen—to compete with the U.S. as a global storyteller and spread its perspective in the same fashion American filmmakers have for a century.

 … Chinese investors bring the support of a Communist Party that under China’s leader, President Xi Jinping, has made cultural influence an important piece of its long-term growth plans.

“We must make patriotism into the main melody of literature and art creation, guide the people to establish and uphold correct views of history, views of the nation, views of the country and views of culture, and strengthen their fortitude and resolve to be Chinese,” said Mr. Xi at the Beijing Forum on Literature and Art in October 2014.

Tensions between China and the White House have accelerated since the presidential election. Mr. Xi is seeking to strike a contrast with President Donald Trump as a champion of globalism, and he appears eager to advance China’s narrative—both by pressuring Hollywood studios to portray the nation favorably and, in the long term, by adopting Western filmmaking techniques for China’s own movie industry.

 … That desire got a push from a Hollywood panda named Po. The animated star of “Kung Fu Panda” was created by DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc., the Glendale, Calif., studio then run by Jeffrey Katzenberg.

Mr. Katzenberg didn’t cook up “Panda” to win over Chinese audiences. He and the DreamWorks team conceived of the movie in 2004, when China sales were barely an afterthought. At its 2008 release, China’s market was small but growing.

Yet “Kung Fu Panda” was a hit in China, grossing $26 million, a surprise to everyone. Members of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Committee—a top political advisory body—debated how a U.S. company could understand Chinese culture well enough to make the movie.

 … Hollywood executives can rattle off the rules for getting a movie approved by Chinese censors: no sex (too unseemly); no ghosts (too spiritual). Among 10 prohibited plot elements are “disrupts the social order” and “jeopardizes social morality.” Time travel is frowned upon because of its premise that individuals can change history.

 … No company has been more aggressive in pursuing Hollywood partnerships than Wanda, a conglomerate run by Wang Jianlin, China’s richest man, that made its name building shopping malls across China in the 1990s.

In 2012, Wanda bought AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc., a Leawood, Kan., exhibitor that is now the largest movie-theater operator in the world. The company’s other entertainment holdings include Legendary Entertainment, the production company behind “Kong: Skull Island.” It recently built Wanda Studios in the coastal city of Qingdao, which houses 50 soundstages, the largest stretching to more than 100,000 square feet.

Check out the ending of Ridley Scott's “The Martian”, to see how a Chinese rocket is instrumental in saving the life of (again) astronaut Matt Damon. Or check out the ending of Roland Emmerich's “2012”, where the first nations to show compassion and allow thousands of commoners on the Arks — built in China, natch — prove to be China, Russia, and Japan; quickly followed — to the American commander-in-chief's dismay — by a handful of nations from Europe…

Related:
Hollywood's Offerings Promise Only to Get More Anti-American

• In an effort to placate China's cultural sensitivities, Hollywood is willing to make all manner of changes to their films

• Hollywood alters film content to satisfy the communist gatekeepers in Beijing

• Is Kung Fu Panda 2 "a Metaphor for the China-US Struggle"?

Further Inroads into Hollywood for China's Communist Party and Its Censors

Chinese Film Studios Are the Planet's Largest, Mass-Producing Films Designed to Build a Positive Image of the Country

In a separate Wall Street Journal article five months earlier, Erich Schwartzel wrote that
Once a blip on studios’ radar, the Chinese box office grew nearly sixty-fold from 2003 to 2015, when its revenue passed $7 billion, and is expected to become the biggest in the world in 2019.
But those sweetened terms come at a cost, beginning with rules that can feel like creative straitjackets and on-set safety requirements that can be looser than in the U.S.

 … Filming [the $150 million historical fantasy “The Great Wall”] in China posed inherent problems, like Beijing’s infamous pollution. “How do I look Matt Damon in the face when he’s the only one not wearing a mask?” one producer asked in a meeting.

Clearer skies and more space were found when the crew started filming in Qingdao, a coastal city 400 miles southeast of the capital where Wanda is constructing a sprawling real-estate development known as Wanda Studios Qingdao. Wanda bought Legendary for $3.5 billion in early 2016.

Monday, February 11, 2019

"Republicans Pounce!" Department: The "Far Right" Sees "Opportunity in Tragedy" and Uses a Muslim Refugee's Murder of a 14-Year-Old Girl as "a Political Weapon"


In the “Republicans Pounce!” School of Journalism (conservatives pouncing, leaping, seizing, etc), we get this German gem from the New Yorker's Yascha Mounk:
How a Teen’s Death Has Become a Political Weapon
When a refugee killed a fourteen-year-old girl,
Germany’s far right saw opportunity in tragedy.
Offhand, before reading the story, one obviously doesn't know much about it, one way or another. For all I know, there may be some, if not a lot of, truth in Mounk's New Yorker piece. But: we still get the narrative that people on the right are hypocritical and treacherous, while their aims are nefarious and their (phony) positions are nothing more than political weapons. (Danke schön für the Instalink.)

Having said that, what are the chances in a piece like this that the murderer's name is Mohammed, Abdul, or Ali?

Incidentally, doesn't the description of towns like Mainz in Germany sounds a bit like the UK's Rotherham?
The eleven-year-old girl allegedly raped by Ali Basha [yes, there is another victim] … had repeatedly hung out with a group of much older refugees, many of them grown men. Far from being an aberration, [Wolfgang Werner of Wiesbaden's department of social affairs] casually acknowledged, the phenomenon of older refugees pursuing an attention-starved young local is part of a wider trend.
Furthermore, when you read about other similar crimes (and the murderers' equally light sentences) and about the ensuing outrage being used by liberals like Yascha Mounk to bewail rightists' propaganda and "fearmongering"(!), you can't help wondering what drugs they are on. Such as the murder of
fifteen-year-old Mia Valentin, from Kandel, a town of ten thousand inhabitants in southwestern Germany, close to the French border. [Mia had] begun a romantic relationship with an Afghan refugee, Abdul Mobin Dawodzai, who had been placed in her class at school. After they broke up, Dawodzai (who had claimed to be a minor but was at least twenty years old, according to authorities) allegedly began to stalk and threaten her. On December 27, 2017, he repeatedly stabbed her with a bread knife in front of a drugstore in the city’s center. She died a few hours later.

Dawodzai was tried for murder at the district court in nearby Landau, and, at the beginning of September, he was sentenced to eight years and six months in prison. Far-right agitators used the shocking details of Mia’s death for full propagandistic effect, just as they did with Der Fall Susanna.
But back to the subject of this post, the “Republicans Pounce!” School of Journalism. Back in the United States, the (cough) impartial and (cough) unbiased Snopes website — given the content of the concluding paragraph, San Francisco's David Emery has never read a book by Jonah Goldberg or seen a video by Dinesh D'Souza — also chooses to depict Republicans as moody, childish, and impulsive (not to mention "leaping").
None of [the media attention garnered by dozens of white-clad women in the House chamber where Trump delivered his address] went down well with Trump’s base of supporters, who leapt to social media to share memes likening the white-clothed Democrats to reviled, oppressive movements such as the Ku Klux Klan and Nazis
Put another way, the “Republicans Pounce!” School of Journalism is symbolic of the leftists' basic worldview in a nutshell, which comes down to Republicans being despicable deplorables while Democrats being deserving dreamers.

Another example is the Washington Post's Republicans seize on liberal positions to paint Democrats as radical. Which leads Stephen Green to line his comment with a touch of irony:
Legalized infanticide, outlawing private insurance, a wealth tax, drastically increasing the income tax, taking control of the entire economy in order to micromanage the climate… nothing radical to see here, nope.
In that perspective, Ed Driscoll links to Charles C W Cooke story in National Review on how the mainstream media operates.
  … the “press” and “the First Amendment” are held to be synonymous when they are no such thing and cannot logically be so.

 … Sometimes consciously, but most often unwittingly, journalists treat Democrats as normal and Republicans as abnormal and proceed accordingly in their coverage. Once one understands the rules, the whole setup becomes rather amusing. When a headline reads “Lawmaker Involved in Scandal,” one can immediately deduce that the lawmaker is a Democrat. Why? Because if he were a Republican, the story would make that clear in the headline. Without fail, stories that begin with “Republicans pounce” are actually about bad things that Democrats have done or said, while stories about bad things that Republicans have done or said begin with “Republican does or says a bad thing” and proceed to a dry recitation of the facts. A variation on this rule is “Republicans say,” which is used when a Republican says something that is so self-evidently true that, had a Democrat said it, it would have been reported straight. For a neat illustration of how farcical things have become, take a look at the Washington Post’s most recent “fact check,” which helpfully informs its readers that the claimed “one thousand burgers” President Trump bought for the Clemson football team were not, in fact, “piled up a mile high” because, “at two inches each, a thousand burgers would not reach one mile high.”

Democracy dies in darkness, indeed.

Selective political interest is disastrous in its own right. But when combined with the catastrophic historical illiteracy that is rife among the journalistic class, its result is what might best be described as the everything-happening-now-is-new fallacy, which leads almost everybody on cable news and the opinion pages to deem every moment of national irritation unprecedented, to cast all political fights as novel crises, and, provided it is being run by Republicans, to determine that the present Congress is “the worst ever.” Turn on the television and you will learn that our language is the “least civil,” our politics is “the most divided,” and our environment is the “most dangerous.” When a Democrat is president, he is “facing opposition of the kind that no president has had to suffer”; when a Republican is president, he is held to be badly unlike the previous ones, who were, in turn, regarded as a departure from their predecessors. Continually, we are held to be on the verge of descending into anarchy or reinstituting Jim Crow or murdering the marginalized or, a particular favorite of mine, establishing the regime outlined in The Handmaid’s Tale. Past is prologue, context, and balm. Without it, all is panic.
 

Saturday, February 02, 2019

Northam at 24 and Kavanaugh at 17: What's the Difference?


Three or four months after Brett Kavanaugh was raked over the coals in the Fall of 2018 for allegedly reprehensible behavior at the age of 17, it emerged that a page dedicated to Ralph Northam in his 1984 yearbook shows two men posing in blackface and in a Ku Klux Klan robe when the medical student was 24 or 25, or about halfway to the age of 30.

Immediately rising to defend the newly-elected governor of Old Dominion — Northam (who had an interesting nickname in college) would eventually break silence to say that he was"deeply sorry" for appearing in the photo — was his fellow Democrat, Virginia state senate minority leader Richard Saslaw:

Northam's “whole life has been about exactly the opposite" said the Democrat from Fairfax, “and that’s what you need to examine, not something that occurred 30 years ago. While it’s in very poor taste, I would think there is [probably] no one in the General Assembly who would like their college conduct examined. I would hate to have to go back and examine my two years in the Army. trust me. I was 18 years old and I was a handful, OK? His life since then has been anything but. It’s been a life of helping people, and many times for free.”

Two comments:

1) Had photos of a Republican posing in blackface or a KKK hood surfaced, there would be nothing but the deepest outrage, followed by demands that he or she resign immediately. In that perspective, notes Ed Driscoll,
Northam appears to be a man of indeterminate party, based on the missing D-word in WTVR article.
2) Beyond that, Richard Saslaw's comments happen to be entirely reasonable.  Of course, in view of the inanity of going after someone in college in his mid-20s for "something that occurred 30 years ago," you wonder why — other than double standards — sensible-sounding Democrats would do the exact same to someone who was a teenager in high school. (Oh, that's right, my bad: in the second case, we are talking about a Republican, i.e., a deplorable.)
But here comes the kicker: if it is true that no one would want their college (or high school) conduct examined too closely, owing to the fact that most people at that age had "poor taste" and were (to say the least) "a handful", why on earth do we allow all these dunderheads go to the voting booth?

The voting age of 18 is so universally accepted, at least in the Western world, that to question it sounds irredeemably passé and unfashionable.

It is likewise held that the systematic lowering of the voting age (it often used to be 25 or so and later 21) is nothing if not concrete proof of the march forward towards an ever-purer state of a democratic society.

And yet, one of the better quotes attributed to Winston Churchill is
If You Are Not a Liberal at 25, You Have No Heart;
If You Are Not a Conservative at 35 You Have No Brain
The question arises:  Why on Earth would a society — any civilized society — want people "without brains" to be part of the voting process to determine the laws under which we (and they) live and the type of politicians and issues that affect us all.

(Unless, of course, they are the drama queens, the chicken littles, the prima donnas, the crybabies, the crybullies, and the other spoiled brats thriving on passion and emotion — here's looking at you, Donkey Party.)

As Michael Walsh ponders repeal of "the first of the so-called 'Progressive Era' amendments" i.e., the 16th Amendment, has it occurred to anybody that there may be plenty of good reasons to have the 26th Amendment revoked as well? 

Friday, February 01, 2019

The Covington story was just too good to check: churning out garbage stories and contrived media creations with disturbing regularity


Dan Levin of the New York Times doesn’t like the suggestion that he’s got an ax to grind with Christian schools
notes Benny Huang wryly.
Levin, who covers the youth beat for the Newspaper of Record™, recently tweeted:
“I’m a New York Times reporter writing about #exposechristianschools. Are you in your 20s or younger who went to a Christian school? I’d like to hear about your experience and its impact on your life. Please DM me.”
Solicitation of this kind is one clue that a reporter has already allowed his agenda to write the story. When a reporter asks his readers to send in material for an upcoming article, you can bet that the article’s tone, slant, and message have already been determined. This is especially true when the journalist doing the solicitation writes for an outlet like the Times. He knows what type of people will respond just as his readers know what kind of material he wants to receive.

Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro translated the tweet well when he tweeted back:
“I’m a reporter seeking lapsed religious people to rip on their religious upbringing. Please contact me!”
 … The #exposechristianschools hashtag [Dan Levin] spoke of recently proliferated when the Washington Post discovered that the Second Lady, Karen Pence, works as a part-time art teacher at a Christian school in Virginia that maintains a code of conduct prohibiting homosexual behavior or homosexual advocacy. Somehow this became a scandal for two or three days until Covingtongate eclipsed it.
This just in — Christian schools have Christian rules!

There’s absolutely nothing scandalous about a Christian school having a code of conduct, nor is there anything scandalous about Mrs. Pence, who is a Christian, choosing to work there. If reporters wanted to write about a real scandal, they might want to cover the youth-targeted homosexual recruitment and indoctrination efforts that are sweeping the nation. For more on that, see drag queen story hour or the Harvey Milk state holiday that California public school students are forced to suffer through, named of course for the homosexual pederast city councilman who supported and defended Reverend Jim “Kool-Aid” Jones and his People’s Temple.

The Covington Catholic media firestorm that displaced “art-teachergate” seemed to be tinged with the same anti-Christian bigotry that had been directed at Karen Pence. We soon learned that Covington Catholic was just brimming with — gasp! — “homophobia.” Whatever that is.

 … It’s therefore quite understandable that media critics would be skeptical of a New York Times reporter who wants to write a story about Christian schools. It smells like a hatchet job. Dan Levin quickly explained that it was not his intention to “expose” Christian schools himself, but merely to write about #exposechristianschools as a trending hashtag.
No agenda here! Just trying to cover a story.

That might be a little more convincing if “art-teachergate,” “Covingtongate,” “valedictoriangate,” and the hashtag in question hadn’t been contrived media creations. Here was a media figure intending to produce yet more media coverage about this month’s media creations. And we’re supposed to believe that he’s merely reporting on a cultural trend from a distance.

My suspicion is that Dan Levin had already written the story in his mind, he just needed quotes to fill in the blanks. “Teachers told me only Christians can go to heaven!” “Someone measured my skirt!” Etc., etc.

Now that Levin has been called out for his agenda, he is working to counteract the impression that he is part of the #exposechristianschools movement he intends to write about.

 … Dan Levin strikes me as a very typical reporter. He seems to have an agenda but is unwilling to admit it even to himself. But who would? The “A” word sounds so sinister.

This is where cognitive dissonance kicks into high gear. Reporters who know darned well that they have agendas must rationalize to themselves why they should be allowed to cover stories that they clearly cannot distance themselves from emotionally. The process of rationalization begins with the assumption that a good agenda shouldn’t really be called an agenda because agendas are, by definition, bad. So, a reporter who merely wants to advance “civil rights” or protect our air and water cannot be guilty of pushing an agenda … can he?

Yes, he can.

The first problem with this rationalization is that agendas are not bad by definition; they are bad by connotation. Good or bad, an agenda is still an agenda and it should still be checked at the newsroom door. Agendas spawn biases, and biases warp stories.

See the Covington Catholic kerfuffle for a good example of that. The story was just too good to check. Young white men from Kentucky, who attend an all-boys Catholic school, wearing MAGA hats, attending a pro-life rally, encounter an American Indian who at least claimed to be a Vietnam veteran. There are just so many reasons for liberal reporters to despise these kids that the story practically writes itself.

Of course the Covington boys acted like louts — and racists too! Reporters who had been conditioned to see American Indians as the ultimate victim group took all of Nathan Phillips’s lies at face value. They checked nothing and they did no legwork to track down other videos that might have provided some much-needed context. If they had, they would have seen that the boys themselves were accosted by not one but two racist groups.

The second problem with this rationalization is that everyone thinks his own agenda is good. If he didn’t, he wouldn’t have adopted it as his own. If only bad agendas can truly be called agendas, then only the other guy can possibly have one.

Consider for a moment the now disgraced Mary Mapes. She is the former “60 Minutes” producer who lost her job over forged National Guard memos that she intended to foist on the American people in the heat of the 2004 election campaign. According to Mapes’s father, Don Mapes, she “went into journalism with an ax to grind, that is, to promote feminism — radical feminism, I might say — and liberalism.”

The way Don Mapes talks about it, “radical feminism” sounds like a very bad thing. I happen to agree. But would Mary Mapes and her journalistic colleagues agree? They might prefer the term women’s rights or choice but I doubt that they would shy away from pushing their agenda under a name of their choosing.

And what about liberalism? To most liberals I’ve ever met, liberalism isn’t a bias or even a political orientation — it’s just common decency. Is that really an “agenda?”

Why yes, it is. And it’s this agenda that got Mary Mapes in so much trouble. Memogate was the crazy but true story of a network news department gone mad with confirmation bias. Mapes & Co. knew in their heart of hearts that Bush had gone AWOL and nothing could change their minds. This was particularly important during the 2004 election campaign when the foremost issue was the Iraq War. They wanted so badly to get the word out, to sway public opinion, and to turn an election, that they didn’t seem to notice that military memoranda that were supposedly written in 1973 were clearly composed using Microsoft Word!

 … Did Mary Mapes have an agenda? Of course she did! She was practically working as an adjunct to the Democratic Party, hence her unscrupulous coordination with John Kerry’s campaign manager, Joe Lockhart. But her agenda was, in her mind at least, the very best that a person could have. So why sully it by calling it an agenda?
The media in this country are basically incorrigible. The root of their problem is their incessant pushing of personal agendas, which they would be loath to admit even having if called by their proper name. So, they churn out garbage stories with disturbing regularity. Rather than informing the public with dispassionate professionalism, they crusade for causes that they hold dear. Until the journalism profession starts upholding some professional standards, I don’t see anything changing.