Friday, August 31, 2012

Ban Youthful Hijinx

From the AP, via

Penn State Riot Ends Aspiring Army Officer's Dream

Perhaps none have learned a harder lesson than Justin Strine, a young man from central Pennsylvania whose planned career as an Army officer is over before it began -- the casualty of his own split-second decision to put his hands on a news van, and a judicial system that considered him as guilty as classmates who did far worse that dark night in State College.

An estimated 4,000 to 5,000 people poured into downtown State College on Nov. 9 after the Penn State board of trustees abruptly and unexpectedly fired Paterno -- the beloved football coach who led Penn State for nearly 46 seasons -- and removed President Graham Spanier over the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse scandal.

What began as a peaceful protest of Paterno's unceremonious dismissal quickly turned ugly as a "riotous mob," as State College police would later call it, threw bottles and rocks, damaged cars, and tore down light posts and street signs.

I was a student auxillary with our university campus' police department in the early '90s, and was on duty the night a significant fraction of the student body rioted, building a bonfire in the middle of an intersection, destroying a traffic light, a police car, and the football field goalposts. Word was that our football team had won a game. An away game.

No one was arrested.

Now, on the one hand, I'm inclined to hope that young Justin's ROTC career will ultimately be rehabilitated, assuming that the AP article above is telling the full story. But I am also grateful that the legal system is sending a significant reminder that there is nothing about being a college student that puts him above the laws the rest of us are expected to live by. For too long, students at all levels have been given a pass for illegal, not to mention boorish and offensive, behavior. It seems the proliferation of cell phone camcorders combined with YouTube and Facebook have made it a lot easier for the police to build cases against individual rioters, and I am frankly glad for it.

Nothing brings out the worst in undergraduates and their coatholders like intercollegiate athletics. Now, based on my recollection of the timeline, the full details of Paterno's coverup of Sandusky's behavior had not yet made the press at the time of his resignation. So I am prepared to allow that the student body's support of Paterno might not be as indicatve of quite the level of moral obtuseness as it would appear in retrospect. But having said that, some level of moral obtuseness is pretty baked in. College football fanaticism has corrupted universities in all sorts of ways, from lowered admissions and retention standards to a see-no-evil attitude towards crimes commiitted by athletes. The Penn State scandal is symptomatic of that larger cause, and I'd just as soon see the whole thing shut down.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Snow White and the Huntsman

Mrs. Φ and I went to see our first theater movie together in years:  Snow White and the HuntsmanKMac pretty much nailed the racial allegory, and while I would like to recommend the film on that basis alone, I regret to say that it fails at basic storytelling in several critical ways.


In an early scene, Snow White (Kristen Stewart), held captive by her step-mother, recites the Lord’s Prayer, revealing herself to be an observant Christian; at the end, her coronation is superintended by what I take to be Roman Catholic prelates.  So far, so good.

The problem is that the intervening movie is filled with magical creatures like dwarves, fairies, and trolls, and paranormal activities like the life-force-sucking, shape-shifting witch dissolving into a flock of ravens.  Thus the filmmakers’ fundamental confusion about what kind of movie they were actually making.  Is it an allegory?  Is it an other-worldly fantasy?  Or is it real-life good-versus-evil set in the Middle Ages?

I don’t think these mix especially well.  Snow White is identified as the one who destined to “heal the land,” and her death and resurrection makes her kind of a Christ figure.  Which is fine in an allegory, but problematic in a movie in which Christianity is made explicitly present.

The confusion isn’t just about theological hair-splitting.  It undermines the unfolding of the story.  Snow White, escorted by the dwarves, the huntsman, and the prince, passes through the “sanctuary forest”, home to the fairies.  The fairies awaken her and lead her before a white moose-looking creature with a large rack of tree branches for antlers.  The dwarves explain to us that the magical moose is “blessing” her as it mutely tosses its head at her.

Then the moose gets shot.  And dissolves into a flock of doves.

None of this makes any sense.  We aren’t told who the moose is, nor were there any references to moose prior to the scene.  We’re given no idea as to the relationship between the moose and the witch, although there must be one because of the whole turning-into-birds connection.  We never see the moose again (or the doves, for that matter), nor is there any indication that the blessing has endued her with anything worthwhile.  And the magical forest doesn’t seem to be worth much either, considering that the bad guys can operate pretty freely there.

Contrast this with, say, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.  Granted that C.S. Lewis (or any movie based on widely read books that build anticipation around a specific story) is a tough act to follow, but . . . Aslan is given a substantial build-up during the children’s journey to his camp.  So when we finally see him, his significance doesn’t have to be narrated by a dwarf in real time.

And while I’m on it, recall the LW&W journey itself.  We meet the beavers, who explain the story.  We have a flight seen and a dramatic escape on an ice floe.  And we see Father Christmas, who gives the children the weapons they will use in the series.  All significant , well-paced events.

In Snow White, the journey is overlong and tedious.  The protagonist and her followers have to escape the witch’s henchmen several times, none of them particularly suspenseful.  They encounter a troll, which beats up on the huntsman for a while before Snow White stares him down.  Now, a competent film would have the troll, obviously impressed with Snow White’s specialness, show up later to fight the bad guys or something.  Here, we never see the troll again.

The plucky travellers get taken into an all-female village whose inhabitants have disfigured themselves so as not to have their life-force sucked out by the witch.  The bad guys show up and burn the village, and we don’t see the inhabitants again except as observers at the coronation.  The whole sequence does nothing to advance the plot.

Then we meet magic-moose (I may have these events in the wrong order, but the truth is that the order is pretty irrelevant, a bad sign), but that’s just an accident:  their actual destination is the fortress from whence the prince’s father and his band of insurgents carry out guerilla attacks against the witch.

There are other loose ends.  Somewhere along the way the prince shows up.  Now, at this point the huntsman vs. prince competition is framed, and a competent film would have the two of them hash it out.  But these two guys start traveling together and never have so much as an exchange of words, about Snow White or anything else.  Again, contrast this with, say, Prince Caspian, where King Peter’s return frames a leadership conflict with Caspian, a conflict that the movies deals with.  Here’s the conflict, no less painfully obvious, is not even addressed.

The writing was an embarrassment.  This isn’t a problem in most of the movie, since nobody has much of anything to say to anybody else anyway.  But Snow White’s resurrection should have been dramatic – it wasn’t – and her “Crispin’s Day” speech wouldn’t have inspired a little league team, let alone an assault on the witch’s castle.  It didn’t help that Kristen Stewart – quite good in the Twilight series at standing around looking vulnerable while various factions of vampires and werewolves fought over her – is out of her acting depth in this role.  (OTOH, can anybody think of a movie in which a female leader didn’t look ridiculous trying to rally troops?  Maybe Mila Jovovich . . . .)

Things to like:  the racial angle, plus the fact that the witch is openly portrayed as a man-hating feminist.  The revelation that the talking mirror was a product of the witch’s hallucination was an interesting twist.  The the movie got its money’s worth from the special effects department.  But considering the budget, couldn’t they have spent some of it on a script doctor to make the thing coherent?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Platform Planks: Where Policy Goes to Die

From, for instance, American Renaissance

The Republican Party has officially endorsed its backing for Arizona-style state immigration laws, adding into its platform language that such laws should be “encouraged, not attacked” and calling for the federal government to drop its lawsuits against the laws.

Uh, huh. Like how the Republicans put a pro-life plank in the platform in 1980, secured the Evangelical vote, and then proceded to nominate and confirm three pro-choice supreme court justices in the next five tries.

On the positive note, it's the politest "go to hell" we were likely to get.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Who changed the rules?

From the AP, via

Special Operators to Anti-Obama Groups: Zip It

WASHINGTON -- A group of retired special operations and CIA officers who claim President Barack Obama revealed secret missions and turned the killing of Osama bin Laden into a campaign centerpiece are coming under criticism from some of their own.
Some special operations officers say the activist veterans are breaking a sacred military creed: respect for the commander in chief.

"This is an unprofessional, shameful action on the part of the operators that appear in the video, period," U.S. Army Special Forces Maj. Fernando Lujan wrote on his Facebook page, to a chorus of approval from colleagues.

A Green Beret who returned last year from Afghanistan, Lujan says that attaching the title of special operator with any political campaign is "in violation of everything we've been taught, and the opposite of what we should be doing, which is being quiet professionals."

Correct me if I am wrong, but what violates everything they've been taught is for active duty soldiers to shamelessly flack for the president in the middle of a campaign. The idea that former soldiers have a duty to stay out of politics would come as a suprise to . . . well, everyone from George Washington to Wesley Clark. If there is some special rule for "special" forces, then I've never heard about it.

But this doesn't look good:

"I don't take these folks too seriously," President Barack Obama told the newspaper The Virginian-Pilot on Monday. "One of their members is a birther who denies I was born here, despite evidence to the contrary." Special Ops OPSEC member ret. Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely, who appears in the group's film, has publicly questioned Obama's birth in Hawaii.

Note to Republicans: be careful about recycling your key personnel. If one of your attacking points winds up discredited, then it's best not to have that set of activists headline your other causes.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

'Legitimate' Sh!tstorm

It was immediately apparent to me that the aspiring senator Todd Akin was attempting to make three points:

  • Rape induced preganacy is a small percentage of pregnancies even weighted for the frequency of rape;

  • they are a small percentage of induced abortions; and

  • forcible rape is not the same thing as stat rape, or morning-after regret.

Of these, only the first appears to be false, and candidly, I didn't know it was false until researching this post. I had heard the rape-seldom-causes-pregnancy factoid 25 years ago and probably from the same place Akin did. I had never heard it contested, and never thought to contest it myself. While I once was quite passionate on the subject of abortion, my interest waned as I realized how thoroughly gamed out the issue had become, and I no longer regard a Republican politician's prolife protestations to be worth especially much, in and of themselves. But for Akin, a genuine partisan on the issue, to be so mis-informed in the age of the internet speaks ill of him.

As does his artlessness:

First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

The initial reaction from his oppoents was to harp on "legitimate", which indicates that they didn't really know the stats either. It was only later that jokes about "sperm goalies" started up.

As Ann Coulter put it:

Akin wasn’t asked some out of the blue question no Republican candidate has ever been asked: He was asked the most jejune, obvious question every Republican is asked in any race for any office. How can a Republican not have an answer for: “What about abortion in the case of rape and incest?”

The point I believe Akin was ultimately driving at was that this is a teeny-tiny percentage of all abortions, so why are we spending all our time taking about it? How about saying: “Yes, it’s still a life, but more people are killed in drive-by shootings in Chicago every year. You give us the 2 million abortions that aren’t a result of rape and incest and we’ll give you the few thousand that are.”

Instead, Akin rambled about “legitimate rape” – violating an ironclad rule of politicians that the word “legitimate” should never appear within 15 yards of the word “rape.” And he talked about the medical possibility of becoming pregnant from a single traumatizing rape.

He’s not a talk radio host. He’s not sitting around shooting the breeze in a college dorm room. This is a politician who should have a clear, nonthreatening answer at the ready for the most cliched question in the MSM’s playbook.

Well said. But remember this incident, those of you with IQ above 115, who wonder why candidates always sound perfectly scripted and always spout the same talking points no matter what the spin of the question. That's the only kind of answer we seem to tolerate.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

It's only "McCarthyism" when it targets Democrats . . .

When it targets Republicans, it's just law enforcement. From Politico:


The FBI probed a late-night swim in the Sea of Galilee that involved drinking, numerous GOP freshmen lawmakers, top leadership staff — and one nude member of Congress, according to more than a dozen sources, including eyewitnesses.

The FBI looked into whether any inappropriate behavior occurred, but the interviews do not appear to have resulted in any formal allegations of wrongdoing.

Wait a sec . . . .

Look, Congressional skinny dipping at the end of a busy day "factfinding" abroad kinda strikes me as fratboy behavior, but what bothers me here is that the FBI seems to have launched its "probe" without even an accusation of any laws being broken. Isn't that backwards? I thought that somebody had to make the allegation first, or the FBI had to come across some evidence of illegality, and then "launch and investigation".

And what is this business about "inappropriate behavior"? Is our country just a big fundamentalist boarding school where everybody is a child whose character needs careful molding? Since when is it the FBI's business to enforce "propriety", rather than, you know, the law.

Or perhaps the whole point of the investigation was to generate this particular headline.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Red Lobster Heads Downmarket

From The Blaze:


The witness said that as the waitress walked away, one of the customers threw a water glass at her, striking her in the back of the head. When the victim turned around, the witness said the customer picked up a menu and hit her in the face with it.

I can't upload the article image to Blogger from my iPad, but . . . yeah, your suspicions are correct.

When I was a kid, and even as late as the late '90s, I thought Red Lobster was fairly upmarket as chain restaurants go. I didn't eat there very often, but my impression was that it strove to be just a cut above, say, Applebees and other family bar-and-grill chains. But I took the family there a few months ago, and was disappointed. The service struck me mediocre, and the restaurant seemed to be attracting a demographic not dissimilar to the one appearing in the article, and this is a nice part of town.

This article on Darden Restaurants, Inc., which owns Red Lobster, confirmed this observation about the company's targeted customer base, but does anyone know when and why this changed, or was it always thus and I have only become more sensitive.

Monday, August 20, 2012


I took my girls to see the movie ParaNorman last weekend. I hated it in just about every way it is possible to hate a movie.


Norman Babcock, the protagonist, lives in a small town with a Puritan ancestory, and a curent population of the most unsympathetic prolish characters imaginable. Incredibly, the town proudly embraces its history of having burned a witch some 300 years earlier, even going so far as to represent it in an annual school play. The witch's specific crime in life turns out to be talking with the dead, but upon her conviction she cursed the town, promising to zombiefy her accusers at some future opportunity. Borrowing from The Sixth Sense, Norman, the protagonist, has atavistically inherited the ability of talking with ghosts, of which there are a fair number. Shunned as a weirdo by everyone, Normal eventually saves the town from the zombies and the witch's shost.

The town isn't actually Salem, MA, so the writers could construct a tendentious history of the witch trials in which the witches were just misunderstood little girls who needed someone to love them. In reality (as I understand it), the Salem witches were accused of specific crimes like making other people sick, or crazy, or having their crops or livestock die. Now, I believe these trials were a travesty -- because I don't believe in witchcraft. But the Puritan judges did believe in witchcraft, which makes them superstitious and ignorant, but not, I think, evil, given that if someone actually did the things the witches were accused of, they would in fact be guilty of a capital crime in the context of a subsistence agricultural society. But in the movie's telling, the town is guilty of an offense against multicultural diversity. The witches were real, but the town was afraid of what it didn't understand.

The town's Puritan heritage is retailed by the school's obnoxious drama director as she hector's her charges to put more oompf in their performances. So Puritanism itself, rather than Salem's dysfunctional political and social life, takes the full blame for the victim's death.

The obvious anti-Puritan propaganda isn't my only objection. The movie was made using CGI, but it's style evokes the Claymation technology of a half century ago, to little artistic merit. The movie also has extraordinarily intense scenes, some more appropriate to an adult horror film than a children's animation. (So far, my daughters have not admitted to any nightmares.)

To give credit where it is due, the pacing was kept taut. I didn't enjoy the film, but I was never bored. Several of the ancillary characters where laugh-out-loud funny; Norman's older sister, in particular, was the perfect sendup of a high school girl, with her petty status games, obnoxious irritation with her little brother, and unsuccessful attempts to flirt with his best friend's muscle-headed older brother. (It was all for naught; he reveals himself to be homosexual at the end of the movie. What a lovely thing to have to explain to your children.)

Friday, August 17, 2012

Policemen are Cowards

New York’s Finest:


Apparently there was a man having a seizure on the ground, shaking and twitching as passers by watched in horror. However, no one could help the man during his medical emergency because the man’s dog — a pit bull — was being quite protective. In fact, in the video you’re about to see, the dog can even be seen lashing out at one lady who gets to close, biting her pants leg.

Quick, shoot the dog!  No time to wait for animal control or even find a baton!

Except once the dog is down, do the police then rush to the aid of his stricken owner?  No, the man gets to lay there without anyone so much as kneeling next to him while the police proceed to harass the onlookers.  They do this for another five minutes (according to the original Blaze video, which has since been pulled on copyright grounds).

Seriously, why do we even have these people, and get taxed for the privilege?

Rules of the Road

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

Off-duty copy shoots, kills angry dad after wipeout

An off-duty Chicago Police officer whose motorcycle struck a 4-year-old girl in Maywood, shot and killed the girl’s father after the father and another man attacked the officer after the accident, officials said.

The officer — a 43-year-old, eight-year veteran of the force — was headed home about Saturday evening when the incident began, Fraternal Order of Police Spokesman Pat Camden said.

He was riding northbound on First Avenue in Maywood near Madison Street when he saw a girl suddenly dart into the street. To avoid striking the girl, the officer purposely ditched his motorcycle, putting it down on its side on the pavement, according to a statement from Maywood village spokesman Larry Shapiro.

But it skidded and flipped, striking the girl as well as her 18-year-old cousin, John Passley, who had run into the street to help her. When the officer tried to help the girl, her father, Christopher Middleton, 26, came out of a nearby restaurant and approached the officer angrily, shouting, according to authorities.

The officer told Middleton he was a police officer, but Middleton struck the officer in the face, knocked him to the ground and continued to hit him, according to Shapiro.

Passley joined in and kicked the officer, Shapiro said. The officer then drew his gun and shot Middleton once.

“He was about to lose consciousness to people beating him,” said Camden, defending the actions of the officer, who works in a West Side police district. “He fired in defense of his life.”

A few thoughts:

  • Although this incident invites comparison to the Trayvon Martin shooting, I actually have a lot of sympathy for the father here.  If I saw someone flip a motorcycle into my little girl, I’d be pretty pissed, too.
  • That notwithstanding, I expect that no charges will be filed against the officer.  Policemen take care of their own, starting with control of the narrative.  Notice several things about this article.  The officer’s name is not released, but his credentials – an “eight-year veteran” – are.  The events are described from his perspective, from how the accident happened (“a girl dart[ed] into the street”) to the assault (“‘he was about to lose consciousness to people beating him’”).  Our allegedly independent press apparently didn’t even attempt to interview the cousin for a competing narrative.
  • It is better to be a police officer running over a little black girl than to be a citizen calling the police about an adult black man.
  • The ubiquity of firearms makes physical escalation of conflict a bad bet for anybody not actually in law enforcement, regardless of provocation.  You run a substantial risk of getting shot.  Unless you are armed yourself, better to call the police and hope for the best.  (If you are armed yourself, then you had better make sure you don’t start whatever happens.)
  • Blacks as a class seem especially slow to internalize this observation.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Remove the mote from thine own eye.

From ABC:

Top State Department officials including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have been working behind the scenes to assuage Indian anger following the attack on a Sikh temple in Wisconsin over the weekend by an Army veteran and alleged former white supremacist.

Indian government officials and Sikh leaders across India were outraged by the attack that left 6 dead, including 4 Indian nationals, at a Sikh temple near Milwaukee and called on the U.S. to do more to protect Sikhs living in the United Sates. Clinton called Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna from her stop in South Africa Monday after Krishna criticized the U.S. for failed policies and a growing trend of violent incidents against religious minorities.

A trend. Based on a single data point? I'm not sure "trend" means what Indians think it means.

Here is what a trend looks like:

In India, where a national election, next year [2009], will pit a Hindu nationalist-led party against a more secular incumbent government, led by the Congress Party, there have been a spate of assaults on Christians. Disturbing photographs and amateur videos show ransacked Christian churches in Orissa state in eastern India, where terrified Christian families have fled to shelters to avoid the cruel choice between conversion to Hinduism or death. Bibles and prayer books have been found burned among the ruins of Christian homes.

For more than two decades, minority religious groups in India have felt mounting tensions and suffered attacks, often politically motivated. Several thousand Sikhs were slaughtered in Delhi and across northern India in 1984, after the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by Sikh bodyguards. She had sent the army into Sikhdom's holiest sanctuary, the Golden Temple in Amritsar, in search of a rebel politician, leaving the shrine a severely damaged and desecrated place.

The violent deaths of Sikhs went on, into the 1990s, through a spasm of "illegal cremations," in which security forces tortured and killed thousands more in Punjab state and burned their bodies to hide evidence, denying families knowledge of their relatives' fate. India's Human Rights Commission and its Central Bureau of Investigation have documented these atrocities, which have largely gone unpunished. (A US-based organization, Ensaaf, has compiled information about this tragic history on its website,

In Gujarat in 2002, as many as 2,000 Muslims were assaulted, viciously tortured and killed as their neighborhoods were marked for destruction by Hindu mobs, according to neutral diplomatic reports and on-site investigations by Indian human rights activists. There is wide agreement that local Hindu nationalist politicians condoned, if not actually directed, the pogrom, which occurred after Hindu pilgrims died in a train fire of still disputed origins. A former chief justice of India's Supreme Court, J.S. Verma, says that in Gujarat (Mahatma Gandhi's birthplace), as in other states, the police are often implicated in acts of violence at the behest of political leaders, who are almost never tried or convicted.

Christians account for only 2 or 3 percent of India's population of more than 1.1 billion. Many of them are extremely poor tribal people or former outcastes known as Dalits, who abandoned Hinduism to escape their "untouchable" status. They have been under attack for years, most often in areas where Hindu nationalists are strong. Many have died. In Orissa, the most recent assaults on Christians began after the murder of a local Hindu holy man, Swami Lakshmananda. Although Maoist rebels in the region claimed responsibility for his death, Hindus ignored that as they went on a rampage. Some Christians have been arrested.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Most lawless administration in history, Part MMCLXVI


WASHINGTON -- Senate Democrats rejected a Republican effort to force defense contractors to send out notices of possible job layoffs four days before the election, calling the move politically driven and purely speculative based on looming spending cuts.

Bad ol' Republicans doing something politically driven!

The Senate Appropriations Committee voted 17-13 against an amendment by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. The provision would have overturned Labor Department guidance this week to federal contractors that they do not have to warn their employees about potential layoffs from the automatic, across-the-board cuts that kick in Jan. 2.

Sounds bad. But finally the context:

A 1980s law, known as the WARN Act, says those notices would have to go out 60 days in advance of the cuts, which would put them in workers' mailboxes four days before the Nov. 6 election.

So basically, back when a Republican occupied the White House, Congress passed a law requiring these notices to be sent under exactly the circumstances in which we now find ourselves. But like so many other laws, the Obama administration has simply decided to . . . ignore it.

Frankly, when you have to pass laws that say, "follow the law," you know you have a problem.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Burying the Lede . . .


Retired Four-Star Gives Presidential Pick

Retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark said Thursday he wants the American public to understand what a "great commander in chief" President Barack Obama is.

Sounds a lot more interesting than "Former Democrat presidential candidate endorses current Democrat presidential candidate," doesn't it?

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Faggotry Ruins Everything

I see USAFA now has a sodomy club.

I was watching the John Wayne movie The Green Berets.  There is a scene in which Sgt Petersen (Jim Hutton) is adopted as surrogate father by a little Vietnamese boy running around the Montagnard camp.  When Sgt. Petersen realizes the boy doesn’t have a place to sleep, he pulls him into the cot with him.

Ray Kellogg obviously felt completely confortable in 1968 directing this scene without a hint of impropriety or sexual overtones.  It’s kind of jarring to see the scene today, and thought provoking how jarring it has become.  I would be shocked to see such a scene, directed in this way in this context, appear in a movie today.  I think that fact is pretty hateful.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Are We at War with . . . Iceland?

All the evidence of which I am aware points to Brad Manning having mishandled classified information when he provided it to the website Wikileaks.  But he is being charged with “aiding the enemy,” which sounds, I dunno, worse.

It would seem that the government ought to be required to show evidence that the enemy was, you know, aided by the leaked information.  But not only is the prosecution not doing that, but the judge in the case, Col. Denise Lind, has ruled that the defense will not be allowed to introduce the government’s own assessment that no such aid actually occurred.

I would also think the government should have to show evidence of intent to harm the national security, as opposed to merely reveal the myriad government collusions against the interests of the people.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

“Aspiring Actress”

I remember reading about Claudia Hidic, before we knew she was an accomplice in her own death, and thinking that “aspiring actress” was kind of a weird characterization for a Bosnian immigrant to Texas by way of Germany.  Seriously, shouldn’t a seventeen year old have to accomplish something a little more affirmative than just telling people she wants to be an actress in order to qualify as “aspiring”?  Or perhaps they thought “Bosnian immigrant” might be . . . misunderstood?

Monday, August 06, 2012

Here Come the Trannies.

Transsexuals are now a federally protected class under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.  The link is to the OPM hiring guidance, but since the guidance is driven by an EEOC ruling, it impacts private businesses as well.

It’s difficult to imagine Romney appointees making fundamental weirdness a protected class for employment purposes.  It’s also difficult to imagine them reversing the decision.  Without a pre-existing prejudice in favor of freedom of contract in hiring, or in favor of normal sexual behavior, then reversing the policy gets framed as approving of discrimination against transsexuals.  And who wants to do that?

Thus liberalism gets ratcheted up another notch.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Sleep with dogs . . .

. . . wake up with fleas:

WASHINGTON -- The American general who led NATO's training mission in Afghanistan opposed an inspector general's investigation into "Auschwitz-like conditions" and corruption at the main Afghan army military hospital, two retired U.S. military officers are telling Congress.

The retired officers, in testimony prepared for a House hearing Tuesday, said Lt. Gen. William Caldwell IV admonished subordinates for contacting the Defense Department's inspector general about Dawood National Military Hospital . . . .

Retired Army Col. Gerald Carozza Jr., who was chief of legal development assisting the Afghan Army and defense ministry, said Caldwell at one point expressed concern that the request was too close to the 2010 congressional elections. But Carozza added that in his view, Caldwell "did not want the request to go to the DOD IG (Department of Defense inspector general) at all . . . ."

In September 2011, The Wall Street Journal reported from Kabul that U.S. officers found that patients at the hospital were routinely dying of simple infections and starving to death, while corrupt doctors and nurses demanded bribes for food and basic care.

I missed this story last year, but nothing bad written about that country will much surprise me.  As I reported over a year ago, it is well known both in ISAF and among the Afghan people that a large fraction of the billions in “aid” we send that country wind up pocketed by corrupt officials, and a large fraction of that winds up going to the Taliban.

The allegation that Gen. Caldwell thwarted the investigation into the hospital for partisan political purposes, if true, surprises even a hard-bitten cynic like me.  I assume, of course, that all flag officers are hacks, but I’m pretty sure this would be a new low.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

What Price Victory?

Petrarch writes:

Scott Walker's gutting of Wisconsin's public-sector unions represents the very first actual, substantive, conservative offensive victory in nearly one hundred years.

Actually, no.  For one thing, I can think of two other substantive victories:

  • The momentum behind gun control has been turned back.  In twenty years, liberals have gone from passing actual gun control legislation to pursuing deeply fanciful meta-perception shaping like Fast & Furious.  Meanwhile, the nation has seen a proliferation of liberalized concealed carry laws, the Castle Doctrine, and Stand-Your-Ground.
  • Bilingual education has been sharply curtailed.  Once the wave of the future in our rapidly Hispanicizing nation, first California’s Proposition 227, then the NCLB, cut the legs out from under it.

But . . . yeah, I will concede that substantive conservative victories are pretty thin on the ground.  But this brings me to my second point, which is that what happened in Wisconsin isn’t one.

Don’t misunderstand me.  Considering that labor unions are a key component in the Democrat coalition, then restraining them as an electoral force is a Republican victory.  But it is a conservative one only to the extent you believe Republicans actually advance conservative priorities rather than merely slow the rate of surrender.

More compelling is the salutary impact Scott Walker’s success is having on Wisconsin’s public fisc.  The public’s relationship with its public sector unions is structurally untenable in an era of declining tax revenues and shrinking real economic output.  It’s reform therefore needed doing for that reason alone.

But make a mistake:  the reason it needed doing, and the reason we are in such dire fiscal straits, is precisely because of the Left’s more substantive victories – or rather, the victory of the priorities of America’s bifactional ruling class at the expense of middle-class whites.  Revenues are drying up because the elite have imported tens of millions of immigrants, most of them illiterate Mexican peasants whose claims on social services exceed their tax contributions, and all of whom have driven down the wage levels from which those contributions are extracted and driven up the cost of housing in key areas of the country.  Simultaneously, the elite has nearly obliterated small domestic manufacturing with its trade policies.

Had conservatives achieved actual substantive victories on these issues back in the 1990s, then our public revenues would be high enough to pay the wages and benefits “promised” to the unions.  But we didn’t, so they aren’t.

Ace notices that Obama avoided the Walker recall like the plague, and writes:

As a result of Obama's abandonment of Barrett, Wisconsin Democrats have realized something that we could have told them years ago: Obama is in it for himself and he doesn't really care about anyone else.

I will be more specific than that:  Obama realized that the union members affected by this are mostly middle-class whites.  Now, Obama is happy to take their money and votes, and he probably appreciates their efforts at intimidating his opponents.  But he doesn’t care about them as a class.  They aren’t rich.  They aren’t cool.  And they certainly aren’t “diverse”.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Nerd Fantasy II

Hard on the heels of Alex Goot’s fantasy song about wooing the office princess, I bring you the 12-webisode series Blue, with Julia Stiles pulling out all the stops to warm the cockles of our precious beta-provider hearts.  I’ll reserve the plot summary for the comments; this is one you’ll have to see to believe.

[WARNING:  Strong sexual content in the first four and a half minutes, but still YouTube friendly.  Borderline NSFW.]

Blue, Episode 1