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.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Brexit Solution: Let Britain Become a Province of Canada (then it could have its kayak and heat it too)

Looking through a couple of old Economist issues, I cam upon a pair of articles called Is Brexit unavoidable? and the Special report on the future of the European Union, to which readers (some of them witty) responded as follows:

On Brexit and the European Union
* Surely the solution to the Brexit negotiations is very simple. My squash club has a membership fee of £25 ($31) per month for unlimited access, but non-members have to pay £10 per hour to play, which is good value for people who only want to play once a month. Britain will save £10bn by giving up membership of the EU, but it wants to continue to use some of the facilities. Why should the EU not welcome Britain to whatever facilities it wishes to be part of, at, say, £1bn per shot, for example: £1bn to be in the open-skies agreement; £1bn for visa-free travel; £1bn for Interpol? This could even form the basis of the multi-tier Europe so eloquently laid out in your special report. If non-members were willing to cough up to access the good parts of the EU, there would be more money available to improve the less good parts.
Greenville, South Carolina

There is a simple solution to the Brexit conundrum, one that will allow Britain to have its trade cake and eat it too: the UK need only become the 11th province of Canada. Canada and the EU recently concluded a trade agreement and the UK would accede to it as a Canadian province. It would also join NAFTA and enjoy liberal trade terms with the United States.
Adjustments would be few and easy. Canada’s provinces have wide powers and by treaty the UK’s could be even broader. The queen would remain head of state. As a provincial flag, the Union flag would still be flown, with the Canadian flag a discreet presence on government buildings. As Hong Kong and Macau kept the dollar and pataca, so Britain could keep the pound. English would be an official language (though so would French). Such a move wouldn’t be unprecedented. Newfoundland left the UK and joined Canada in 1949. Time to think outside the box.
San Jose, California

Britain left out in the cold

Ted Stroll suggested that Britain should become a new province of Canada after Brexit (Letters, April 6th). There are additional benefits to doing this. Britain would have access both to the boat-building technology of the Inuits and to the oil sands in Alberta. In this way it could have its kayak and heat it.
Montivilliers, France

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Do Not Mock AOC's Global Warming Predictions; After All, Scores of VIPs, from Al Gore to UN Officials through MSM Outlets, Agree with Her Whole-Heartedly

Less than a year after frigid temperatures in Europe made parts of the continent colder than the North Pole, brutal Arctic cold is to send temperatures plunging in parts of America's Midwest, with wind chills at "life-threatening" levels (as low as -40 degrees in many locations).

But still, we must beware of global warming of climate change. Indeed, thanks to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), we now know that
we’re like, the world is gonna end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change
Quoting a "landmark" report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) at a Martin Luther King forum in New York City ("Urgent changes needed to cut risk of extreme heat, drought, floods and poverty," is the The Guardian's subhead), the New York Democrat went on to speak of "that fierce urgency of now" and compare the Social Justice Warriors' gallant calling and the SJWs' valient fight to the most murderous conflict in world history:
like this is the war, this is our World War II
In case you don't get it: the whiny Social Justice Warrior deserves as much respect and as much deference as the GI who landed on Omaha Beach and as the Marine who stormed Iwo Jima. 

That was before explaining why teen-agers and college students are in the possession of more wisdom than those clueless parents of theirs:
… it’s … a generational difference. Young people understand that climate change is an existential threat
Doesn't AOC's bitterness sound like she can barely stand to be around old(er) Republicans? It's true that Mark Twain is alleged (ages vary) to have said that
When I was a boy of 17, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 24, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years
It is true that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is now 29. Still, do not be too harsh on any of our younger citizens, in view of the fact that the leftist culture has been pushing childhood ever forward (remember Obamacare's age 27 for "kids" being on their parents' health insurance?) and, indeed, its seeming desire to extend it to a person's entire lifetime.

In any case, please refrain from making fun of AOC. (Here's looking at you, Ed Driscoll!)  ;)

After all, there are many important people, many of our betters, many VIPs, not least in the above-mentioned United Nation, who happen to agree with AOC.

Al Gore, for one, has made the call for AOC's "fierce urgency of now", predicting that the Earth's ice caps will have melted within five years. (When did the former vice president make that prediction? That would be, uh, in the year… 2008…)

ABC has predicted that within seven years, climate change would lead to the flooding of New York City. (When did they say that?  That was also in… 2008…)

NASA's climate change guru, Jim Hansen, has also made the call for AOC's "fierce urgency of now", warning that the President of the United States has only four years to save the earth. (When did Hansen say that, and to whom? That would be, er, to… Barack Obama in… 2009…)

United Nations scientists and other climatistas have also made the call for AOC's "fierce urgency of now", warning that "There could be as little as eight years left to avoid a dangerous global average rise of 2C or more." (When did they issue this warning? That would, uh, be in… 2007…)

The New York Times and the Independent have also made the call for AOC's "fierce urgency of now", predicting that global warming is so serious that very soon, snowfalls will be nothing but a thing of the past (see also the Washington Post). (When did that prediction come? Uh, that would be in the year… 2000…; while Le Monde predicted in 2016 that soon cinema will be the only thing left to perpetuate the memory of snow, CNN reported that NYC hasn't seen snow like [that of March 2018] in 130 years, marking "the fifth consecutive season that at least 30 inches of snow have fallen in New York City.")

Meanwhile, year after year after year, Britain's winters have proven to be among the coldest in a century.

• Time and again, the United Nations has made the call for AOC's "fierce urgency of now", issuing a dire warning that within 10 years, "entire nations could be wiped off the face of the earth by rising sea levels." (When did
a senior environmental official of the UN tell us that an "exodus of 'Eco-refugees'" would threaten political chaos? Noel Brown made the comment in… 1989… "if global warming is not reversed by the year 2000"…)

• Awareness of the dreadful calamity that awaits humanity led to the annual Earth Day event, where the call for AOC's "fierce urgency of now" has been echoed year after year since 1970. (What exactly did the drama queens warning us about during
the very first Earth Day? It was global cooling, with the very first Earth Day devoted to… the coming… ice age!)

Related: 13 Most Ridiculous Predictions Made on Earth Day, 1970 and
18 spectacularly wrong predictions made around the time of first Earth Day
in 1970, expect more this year
(via Sarah Hoyt and Ed Driscoll, who asks:
How can you continually believe the world is coming to end for a half century?)

As for the rising sea levels that we keep being warned about, I addressed that in a post a few years ago:

think of New York City, of Miami, of Galveston, of San Francisco, of Tokyo, of Sydney, of Goa, of Alexandria, of Saint Tropez, of Copenhagen.

Correct me if I am wrong, but [in the past 5 weeks, in the past 5 months,] in the past 5 years, in the past 50 years, even offhand in the past 500 years (?), has the sea level in any of those places risen by even one inch, by even one centimeter?
Stories of California's unending drought, along with the above examples, may help explain distrust of the government and the establishment of such theories as Betteridge's Law of Headlines along with the reason why conservatives are wont to pen columns with titles such as 5 Reasons It's Dumb To Panic Over Global Warming.

(Related: Secret Science Vs. the Devil's Work: According to environmentalists, if members of the EPA can’t hide their data and refuse to show their calculations they’ll be “crippled”)

A common (a deliberate?) misconception on the left is that rightists are dogmatic (and greedy) extremists who fly in the face of reality by cherry-picking their date to advance false and, indeed, deceitful and harmful narratives.

But ain't it true that conservatives are anything but activists, let alone extremists? They are simply regular folks who don't want to pressure any of their neighbors into doing anything but simply want to be left alone and who, on the contrary, keep their eyes, their ears, and indeed their brains, open? (Such as remembering that climate change used to be called global warming…)

It is a fair bet that many conservatives have good reason to predict that 2030 will bring just as little corroboration to AOC's forecasts as did the years 2015, 2013, 2000,
etc, etc, etc, to those of her predecessors…

Let Larry Kummer have the last word:

Remember all those predictions of a “permanent drought” in California? Those were examples of why three decades of climate alarmism has not convinced the American people to take severe measures to fight anthropogenic climate change: alarmists exaggerate the science, and are proven wrong — repeatedly. 
Update: Understanding climate means understanding maths, physics, and statistics:
Those who ascribe the word ‘denier’ to people not in agreement with consensus
climate science are trivializing the suffering and deaths of millions of people 

Update 2: Fox News:
President Donald Trump on Monday mocked climate scientists as he jokingly pleaded for global warming to “come back fast, we need you!” while warning the Midwest of impending freezing temperatures.

“In the beautiful Midwest, windchill temperatures are reaching minus 60 degrees, the coldest ever recorded. In coming days, expected to get even colder,” Trump tweeted on January 2019. “People can’t last outside even for minutes. What the hell is going on with Global Waming? Please come back fast, we need you!”

Update 3: Is “climate change” going to follow “global warming” out the window? asks Benjamin Arie:
 … Scientists are supposed to be apolitical, unbiased, and soberly committed to facts over agendas. But to almost nobody’s surprise, they seem to have been purposely manipulating the language used to talk about the climate — and as Politico reported, that’s happening again right now.
“Scientists and meteorologists on the front lines of the climate wars are testing a new strategy to get through to the skeptics and outright deniers,” 
declared the subtitle of journalist Bryan Bender’s latest piece for [Politico Magazine].

 … Nobody knows for sure what the next “narrative” in the climate debate will be, but reporter P.J. Gladnick has a hunch. The next phrase to be rolled out, he suggested for the Media Research Center, is one you might have already heard on television: “Extreme Weather.”
 So there you have it, kids: from “the coming ice age” to “global warming” to “climate change” to “Extreme Weather.” It's been quite a ride…