Tuesday, August 22, 2017


From Stephan Pastis' cartoon strip Pearls Before Swine, yesterday:

(Click the image for a larger view at the strip's Web page.)


Superstition and murder. Africa strikes again.

In my Foreword to Lawdog's latest book, 'The Lawdog Files:  African Adventures', I noted:

The thing most Westerners fail to realize is that Africa – the real, deep, dark, “bush” Africa, not the faux-touristy Africa so often portrayed in movies or on TV – is... different. It’s so different, it’s almost impossible for one not raised there to comprehend it. Even urbanized, allegedly “modern” Africa is different. To illustrate: until recently, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange was situated on Diagonal Street in that South African city. Every morning, one could watch black stockbrokers on their way to work. Almost all had Bachelors degrees, and many had post-graduate qualifications. They’d stop at the stalls of street sangomas (shamans, witch-doctors) and solemnly buy a little packet of dried herbs and parts of animals’ bodies, called muti (“medicine”), to bring them luck for the day. Sometimes they’d pay a little more for some extra-strong muti, guaranteed to bring bad luck to their rivals. No matter how educated and worldly-wise they had become, the hold exercised over their minds by animist beliefs and tribal culture could not be gainsaid.

I once sat out a severe thunderstorm on the porch of a farmhouse in the Northern Transvaal. With me was a school-teacher from the local town, a man with a Bachelors degree and a post-graduate Diploma in Education. He solemnly informed me that the animist spirits of the trees were at war, and the spirit of that tree – the one that had just been struck by lighting – had lost his battle. He was an educated man, who knew all about, and daily taught, physics and chemistry to school pupils… but he was also a product of his tribe and his culture. He really believed what he’d just said. He absolutely was not joking. When I tried to argue, he told me openly that he pitied me, because I was so blind to the spiritual reality that could be seen, plain as a pikestaff, right in front of my eyes.

I could go on, but you get the idea.  Africa is different. Most of her people are different. They think, behave, and react differently. That’s not a racist statement; it’s just the way it is.

That difference has just been demonstrated yet again in the sleepy South African farming town of Estcourt (or, at least, when I knew it in the 1980's and early 1990's, it was still a sleepy farming town - things may have changed since then).

A rural village in Escourt‚ KwaZulu-Natal‚ is abuzz with allegations of black magic‚ muti and cannibalism after four men‚ one of whom is a traditional healer‚ stand accused of murdering a woman and eating parts of her body.

The group made a brief appearance in the Estcourt Magistrate’s Court on Monday facing charges of murder and conspiracy to commit murder.

Their arrests followed the confession of a man who walked into the Estcourt police station at the weekend‚ declaring to officers that he was tired of eating human flesh.

When officers questioned his outlandish statement‚ the man produced part of a human leg and a human hand.

. . .

Ward councillor Mthembeni Majola said that the community had been shaken after hearing about the macabre discovery by police and held a meeting on Monday morning.

“There was a community meeting because I wanted to find out their position on this and the extent of the involvement of the accused. They came from our ranks. Their families confessed that they knew about the killings ... It cannot only be one body. When the police were following this matter they discovered eight ears in a pot where one man was staying. That means there is much more to this‚” Majola said.

There's more at the link.  Bold, underlined text is my emphasis.

If the report alone doesn't boggle your mind, consider that the families of those committing the murders knew what they were doing, but did nothing to stop them.  That demonstrates the power sangomas, or traditional healers, have over the credulous tribespeople who 'believe' in them.  Furthermore, there must be families in the region who have lost loved ones to these criminals . . . but they did not report their missing loved ones to the police.  Again, they would have been prevented from doing so by the fear that the sangoma(s) in question would have used their spiritual 'powers' to retaliate against them - perhaps even putting them on the menu, so to speak.

I'm sure this mess will turn out to be much worse than it appears from the initial report above.  I have little doubt that the death toll will increase as more evidence is uncovered.  This sort of thing is not new in Africa.  There are many who still believe that muti containing human body parts is particularly powerful and effective.  Some of them can afford to (and do) pay large sums for it.  Where there's a market, someone will satisfy the demand.  That's as good as a law of nature, in economic terms.

Some human bodies, particularly those affected by albinism (and, among them, children in particular, because of their perceived 'innocence') are considered particularly efficacious for muti - so much so that in Tanzania, where that belief is rampant, many albinos have to live in separate villages or 'safe houses' (that aren't always safe enough), guarded for their protection against gangs of criminals seeking to kidnap them for sale to local witch-doctors.

And so the sleepy farming community of Estcourt, that I remember well, has been thrust into the glare of the national and international spotlight, all because of rampant superstition.  I'm sure many of the locals are cursing those responsible . . . but it'll likely happen again.  Tribal culture and animist beliefs are too deeply rooted to be suppressed for more than a short time.  They'll be back.


May the souls of the victims, through the mercy of God, rest in peace;  and may those they leave behind receive what comfort they may.


Monday, August 21, 2017

How about toppling this offensive symbol?

John Kass, writing in the Chicago Tribune, has an interesting suggestion.

History is important, but history can also be quite offensive.

But there's one thing wrong with Sharpton. It's not that he goes too far. It's that he doesn't go far enough.

Because if he and others of the Cultural Revolution were being intellectually honest, they'd demand that along with racist statues, something else would be toppled.

And this, too, represents much of America's racist history:

The Democratic Party.

The Democratic Party historically is the party of slavery. The Democratic Party is the party of Jim Crow laws. The Democratic Party fought civil rights for a century.

And so by rights — or at least by the standards established by the Cultural Revolutionaries of today's American left — we should ban the Democratic Party.

Not only get rid of it in the present, but strike its very name from the history books, and topple all Democratic statues of leaders who benefited, prospered and became wealthy by cleaving to the party. And shame Democrats until they confess the truth of it.

There's more at the link.  Recommended reading.

As a matter of fact, I don't support banning the Democratic Party, or any other (including the Republican Party, the Nazi Party or the Communist Party).  I believe in free speech.  Each and every party should have the opportunity to make its case to the electorate, and let the people express their opinion of its worth with their votes.  If the speech used is intemperate, violent or abusive, by all means let those who find it so sue the offending party(ies) in court - but don't ban or try to prevent their speaking.  Once you go down that rabbit hole, there's no way back.  If you ban one kind of speech, you can ban another kind - which inevitably happens.  Before you know it, free speech as such no longer exists.

That's why I'm so concerned about attempts by private individuals and organizations - Google, Twitter, Facebook, etc. - to impose their own version of censorship on those with whose views they disagree.  They see no problem with 'de-platforming' Nazis, right-wing extremists, etc.:  but they continue to provide a platform to sexual predators, terrorists, jihadists, and other extremists who are infinitely more of a clear and present danger than right-wingers.  There's a disconnect there that's mind-boggling in its ethical and moral blindness.

If you ban one offensive symbol, you have to ask:  offensive to whom?  Are we only to ban what they find offensive, or can we also ban what their opponents find offensive?  If so, we'll end up banning almost everything.  If not . . . then we'll no longer live in a free society - and I'll be damned if I let anybody take away from me the free society for which I literally fought and shed my blood.  That's not going to happen.  No way, no how, no matter what it costs.

It has been said:

"To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize."

One might as well amend that to read:

"To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to censor."

Note, too, who will not allow you to criticize or censor them.  It's not just the government.  It's also Google, Twitter, Facebook and their ilk . . . and that means they're taking upon themselves the role of Big Brother.  Be duly warned - and alarmed.


Erroneous erogenous?

My mind is still boggling at this report.

A man who caused life-changing injuries to the genital area of his female lover after a sexual fantasy went catastrophically wrong, has been jailed for a decade.

David Jeffers, 47, fled from a Manchester hotel leaving his partner dying on a bed after a loaded shotgun, which was inserted into her vagina, was mistakenly fired.

The 46 year-old victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had informed her partner of her sexual desires via text message a few days prior to the incident, which left her with life changing injuries to her bladder and female reproductive organs, with one message saying: "I can't sleep, so excited."

There's more at the link.

I . . . I just can't wrap my mind around this.  I can find nothing exciting whatsoever (erotically, or in any other way) about inserting a firearm (loaded or not) into any bodily orifice whatsoever.  Sex has its purpose.  So do firearms.  Those purposes do not intersect - at least, not in the world in which I live!

The unfortunate lady (?) survived her catastrophic injuries, but has been left forever maimed.  I suppose that in this case, coitus has been permanently interruptus!


That crowd may not show "popular support" at all

I've noted in the past that the left-wing, progressive element in US politics tends to adopt cause after cause, but that basically the same leaders and the same organizers reappear in each new group, while the old one is discarded.  If you look at the organizers of the Occupy movement, Black Lives Matter, and Antifa, I think you'll be surprised at how many are the same people.  (Law enforcement officers with whom I've spoken confirm that facial recognition technology identifies the same leaders at many of the demonstrations of each of those movements.  That may be one of the reasons why activists mask their faces in such demonstrations.  Not only do they want to avoid arrest, they may want to avoid being linked to previous events of the same kind, but under a different banner.)

That's not the only interesting point.  Another angle is the number of so-called "rent-a-mob" protesters who show up at such incidents.  They aren't there because of moral or ethical or political conviction;  they're there because they're being paid to be present.

Two recent articles highlighted this trend.  The first covers a more commercial angle.

Pretend for a moment that you’re walking through your neighborhood and notice a line of people wrapped around the block outside a newly opened restaurant ... There was a time when ... you could trust that a crowd of people was, in fact, a naturally occurring mass of individuals.

But that time may be passing thanks to Surkus, an emerging app that allowed the restaurant to quickly manufacture its ideal crowd and pay the people to stand in place like extras on a movie set. They’ve even been hand-picked by a casting agent of sorts, an algorithmic one that selects each person according to age, location, style and Facebook “likes.”

They may look excited, but that could also be part of the production. Acting disengaged while they idle in line could tarnish their “reputation score,” an identifier that influences whether they’ll be “cast” again. Nobody is forcing the participants to stay, of course, but if they leave, they won’t be paid — their movements are being tracked with geolocation.

Welcome to the new world of “crowdcasting.”

. . .

George said the company has amassed 150,000 members in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Miami and San Francisco. Anyone can download the app. The members are of all ages and backgrounds, George said, noting that people are drawn by the chance to be social and get paid.

After launching two years ago, Surkus members have attended 4,200 events for 750 clients, including big-name brands, hospitality groups, live-ticketed shows, movie castings and everyday people who want to throw a party.

There's more at the link.

So much for "rent-a-mob" in the commercial setting.  The second article gets things very wrong by trying to link an advertisement for Charlotte, NC with events in Charlottesville, VA ten days ago (the cities are 4½ hours apart by road, so I don't see the connection):  but that's secondary to what it uncovers.

... the discovery of a craigslist ad posted last Monday, almost a full week before the Charlottesville protests, is raising new questions over whether paid protesters were sourced by a Los Angeles based "public relations firm specializing in innovative events" to serve as agitators in counterprotests.

The ad was posted by a company called "Crowds on Demand" and offered $25 per hour to "actors and photographers" to participate in events in the "Charlotte, NC area."  While the ad didn't explicitly define a role to be filled by its crowd of "actors and photographers" it did ask applicants to comment on whether they were "ok with participating in peaceful protests."

. . .

The CEO of Crowds on Demand denied to Snopes that his firm was involved in the Charlottesville protests but refused to provide details on the specific purpose of the craigslist ad and/or why it was temporarily removed yesterday before being restored.

Again, more at the link.

Crowds On Demand claims, on its Web site:

At Crowds on Demand, we provide our clients with protests, rallies, flash-mobs, paparazzi events and other inventive PR stunts. These services are available across the country in every major U.S city, every major U.S metro area and even most smaller cities as well. We provide everything including the people, the materials and even the ideas. You can come to us with a specific plan of action and we can make it happen. OR, you can approach us with a general  idea and we can help you plan the strategy then execute it.

We’ve made campaigns involving hundreds of people come to action in just days. We have a proven record of delivering major wins on even the toughest campaigns and delivering phenomenal experiences with even the most logistically challenging events.

Our services are now available throughout the United States, so whether you’re looking at doing a single event or a multi-city campaign, we have the resources available to achieve your goals.

More at the link, and at the section titled 'Protests and Rallies', which claims that:

... we can organize rallies and get media attention for your causes and candidates. We also assist individuals, companies and political organizations with protests and picketing campaigns. We’ve protested governments, corporations and everything in between.

. . .

A foreign government hired Crowds on Demand to help generate a positive reception for its newly elected leader during the UN General Assembly. The concern was ensuring that the leader was well received by a US audience and confident for his work at the UN. We created demonstrations of support with diverse crowds. We also used the media primarily local and national outlets to bring more attention to these demonstrations which led to a mostly positive portrayal. The crowds that we deployed drew in more supporters creating a strong presence for this leader at the UN and an improved perception of him by the American public.

So, here we have two firms (how many more are there?), both offering to provide any sort of crowd you want, for any purpose, for payment.  We also have many reports over the past few years of protesters being bussed from various cities to the site of their protest, then ferried back to their points of origin (often associated with so-called astroturfing).  Here's just one such report, including video footage, to illustrate the point.  Want another?  Try this one.

Putting two and two together, we know that many demonstrations are anything but spontaneous, and we know that many participants are paid - we've seen the advertisements offering them money, particularly those funded by the left wing of US politics.  Now we have evidence that entire corporations are in business to satisfy crowd-sourcing needs.  Therefore, the next time you see a major demonstration, it might be worth asking yourself whether all those in attendance are there as 'true believers' . . . or whether some of them are in it for the money.  I know I shall.

(I must confess, however, to an impish curiosity as to what would happen if a bunch of Trump supporters were to allow themselves to be 'recruited' as paid demonstrators for an anti-Trump rally . . . and brought along banners and placards showing their true feelings.  The resulting chaos might be epic!)


Sunday, August 20, 2017

Sunday morning music

I'm enjoying a musical blast from my family's past.  My parents loved the songs of Kenneth McKellar, the famous Scottish tenor, and had several of his albums, including the family favorite, Roamin' in the Gloamin'.  To my great delight, I recently found that album (along with many others of his) on Amazon, and immediately bought and downloaded the MP3 version.  I've been thoroughly enjoying it.

For those of you new to Scottish music, here's a selection from that tradition.  For those of you new to Kenneth McKellar, this is a great introduction to one of the finest post-World-War-II singers to come out of the Highlands.

Let's begin with a traditional, quirky, fun tune, 'The Cockle Gatherer'.  Lyrics and background information may be found here.

Next, a love song by Robert Burns, 'Bonnie Wee Thing'.  Lyrics may be found here.

Finally, how could any collection of Kenneth McKellar's songs be complete without his rendition of 'Scotland the Brave'?  Lyrics here.

The entire album, plus many others, are available on Amazon.com.


Saturday, August 19, 2017

Doofus Of The Day #971

A tip o' the hat to Alma Boykin for alerting me to a particularly special academic snowflake doofus.  Bold, underlined text is my emphasis.

On August 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse will arrive mid-morning on the coast of Oregon. The moon’s shadow will be about 70 miles wide, and it will race across the country faster than the speed of sound, exiting the eastern seaboard shortly before 3 p.m. local time. It has been dubbed the Great American Eclipse, and along most of its path, there live almost no black people.

Presumably, this is not explained by the implicit bias of the solar system. It is a matter of population density, and more specifically geographic variations in population density by race, for which the sun and the moon cannot be held responsible. Still, an eclipse chaser is always tempted to believe that the skies are relaying a message. At a moment of deep disagreement about the nation’s best path forward, here comes a giant round shadow, drawing a line either to cut the country in two or to unite it as one.

. . .

Oregon, where this begins, is almost entirely white. The 10 percent or so of state residents who do not identify as white are predominantly Latino, American Indian, Alaskan, or Asian. There are very few black Oregonians, and this is not an accident. The land that is now Oregon was not, of course, always inhabited by white people, but as a U.S. territory and then a state, Oregon sought to get and stay white. Among several formal efforts at racial exclusion was a provision in the original state constitution of 1857 that prohibited any “free Negro or Mulatto” from entering and residing in the state.

The American West was not the land of chattel slavery—with some brief exceptions, slavery was illegal in Oregon before and after statehood. But among the dreams of the pioneers there was, at least sometimes, a dream of escaping racial strife by escaping black people altogether. As put by Peter Burnett, the architect of one racially exclusionary law in Oregon, the aim was simply to avoid “that most troublesome class of population. We are in a new world, under most favorable circumstances, and we wish to avoid most of those evils that have so afflicted the United States and other countries.”

. . .

Moving east, the eclipse will pass part of St. Louis, whose overall population is nearly half black. But the black residents are concentrated in the northern half of the metropolitan area, and the total eclipse crosses only the southern half.

There's (unfortunately) a lot more at the link.

That's right.  The entire article (which goes on, and on, and on, ad nauseam) draws all sorts of parallels between the path of the eclipse, and America's racial history and current makeup.  There's just one problem:  there is no logical, scientific, historical or any other connection between a perfectly normal natural occurrence and centuries of US history.  It's all in the mind of the author - and nowhere else.

Eclipses were going on long before the human race evolved out of whatever was crawling around in the primal ooze.  They were scaring the crap out of cavemen before they could even spell 'Neanderthal'.  They were making a lot of money for shamans, fakirs, witch-doctors, fortune-tellers and other charlatans until science finally managed to explain them.  After that (we thought hopefully) there would no longer be any superstition attached to them.  This article makes it clear that we hoped in vain.

The author has gone back several centuries to the mystical, magical mumbo-jumbo of the scientifically illiterate, and tied together two things that have nothing whatsoever to do with each other.  The path of the eclipse is an accident of nature, pure and simple, with no 'message', explicit or implicit, implied.  It did not 'choose' to follow that particular path in any way, shape or form - and therefore no message can be, or is, conveyed through, or by, its course.  It's an accident.  Nothing more.

I'm tempted to nominate the article for an Ig Nobel award, except that it only meets the first half of the criteria for an award - 'to honor achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think'.  Laugh?  Oh, hell, yes - in sheer disbelief!  Thought?  No.  Thought, of the logical, rational, scientific variety, at any rate, doesn't enter into this article at all;  and it isn't so much an achievement as a veritable holocaust - indeed, a total eclipse - of intellectual understanding.

And yet . . . and yet . . . I daresay there will be those among the politically correct and intellectually 'pure' who will hail this article as a masterful insight into the state of race relations in the USA today.  Upon them, as upon its author, today's Doofus Award is wholeheartedly conferred.



Mayhem on the water

Shamelessly borrowed from C. J. Swanson:



Iraq and Iran - changing the balance of power in the Middle East?

Iran has been heavily involved in Iraq since the overthrow of the Saddam Hussein regime.  In recent years, after the US withdrawal of combat forces, its surrogate troops have been the backbone of resistance to ISIS and Kurdish separatists.  It's been widely assumed that Iran would seek to dominate Iraq once the conflict was over:  but, now that it's visibly drawing to a close, another dimension is entering the picture.  Strategy Page reports:

With ISIL no longer a major threat Iraq has surprised Iran (and many others outside the Arab world) by rebuilding relations with Sunni Arab neighbors and telling Iran to back off with any plans it had to dominate Iraqi politics. Senior Shia Arab religious and political leaders have been leaning this way for a long time and Iran thought the war against ISIL was an opportunity to weaken the traditional Shia Arab distrust of Iran. That did not work.

Since 2005, when accurate opinion polls and generally free elections were once again available it became obvious that both in Sunni Arab areas (where there used to be a lot of support for al Qaeda) and Shia areas (where there used to be a lot of support for the kind of religious dictatorship found in Shia Iran) that Iran was seen as the enemy. This was obvious to familiar with Iraqi history. Fear of Indo-European Iran has always been greater than the fact that most Iraqis share their Shia faith with Iranians. Blood is thicker than religion. This is why more there was always so much violence along the ethnic border between Kurds (who are ethnically related to the Iranians) and Arabs, especially in oil rich Kirkuk.

From 2005 on it became increasingly clear that the vast majority of Iraqis, including Kurds and most Shia Arabs, feared increasing Iranian influence. Although most Iraqis are Shia, they are also Arab, and do not want to be ruled by their fellow Shia in Iran. That's because the Iranians are Indo-European people and have long treated their Arab neighbors with disdain and cruelty. Iraqis could now see this happening regularly in western Iran, where the Iranian Arab minority (about two percent of the population) is constantly being persecuted by the Indo-European Iranians. The Iranian Arabs also get it from the Azeri Turk minority (25 percent of all Iranians). Iraqis have bitter memories of centuries of domination by the Ottoman Turks (who now control only Turkey), whose empire once stretched into North Africa and the Balkans.

One reason Saddam Hussein had some support from all groups in Iraq and from his Arab neighbors was his ability to keep the Iranians out. After Saddam was overthrown in 2003 many Iraqis (and most Arabs) feared that, without a badass like Saddam, there would be no one to motivate Iraqis into blocking Iranian moves to occupy Iraq, or control its rulers. But now the Shia Arab Iraqi leaders (political and religious) appear confident that they can stand up to the Iranian threats. The is one thing all Iraqis can unite behind and apparently one of many reasons why Iraq is openly demanding that Iran back off while just as publically establishing economic, political and military links with Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Arab states in the region to oppose Iranian plans for expansion and domination of Arabia.

The new alignment means more technical and economic aid from the Sunni Arab states to the south and more vigorous efforts by those Sunni Arab rulers to ensure their Shia Arab minorities (or, in the case of Bahrain, majority) are treated well and that there is little support for Sunni Arab Iraqis. The Saudi leaders had always tried to maintain good relationships with their Shia minority but that had become more difficult as radical Sunni Islam (as in al Qaeda and ISIL) became more popular. Now that form of religious zeal has become less popular in Arabia, at least for a while. But that’s another problem that is less pressing hat the immediate ones posed by Iran.

There's more at the link.  Interesting reading.

I'll be watching this with great interest.  Basically, Iran's surface link to Syria (where the Assad government only exists because of the military assistance, in equipment and personnel, supplied by Iran) runs through Iraq.  Iran cannot afford to have that link cut, because air and sea resupply could not replace the land route.  Air shipping is much more expensive, and sea transport must go through the Red Sea, where it's vulnerable to search and seizure by Saudi Arabia, and then the Suez Canal, where it's vulnerable to search and seizure by Egypt.

Iran simply cannot afford to have Iraq become too independent, thereby threatening the former's regional hegemony.  Will this lead to a putsch attempt in Iraq, as Iran tries to install its supporters in power?  Will the people of Iraq permit and/or tolerate that?  More to the point, will Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies permit it?  If they don't, how will they intervene to stop it?

This could become 'curiouser and curiouser', as Alice famously said . . . and very bloody.


Friday, August 18, 2017

What voter fraud? THIS voter fraud!

All those who contend that there's no voter fraud problem in the USA should read this report.

According to a new study of U.S. Census data, America has more registered voters than actual live voters. It's a troubling fact that puts our nation's future in peril.

The data come from Judicial Watch's Election Integrity Project. The group looked at data from 2011 to 2015 produced by the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey, along with data from the federal Election Assistance Commission.

As reported by the National Review's Deroy Murdock, who did some numbers-crunching of his own, "some 3.5 million more people are registered to vote in the U.S. than are alive among America's adult citizens. Such staggering inaccuracy is an engraved invitation to voter fraud."

Murdock counted Judicial Watch's state-by-state tally and found that 462 U.S. counties had a registration rate exceeding 100% of all eligible voters. That's 3.552 million people, who Murdock calls "ghost voters." And how many people is that? There are 21 states that don't have that many people.

Nor are these tiny, rural counties or places that don't have the wherewithal to police their voter rolls.

California, for instance, has 11 counties with more registered voters than actual voters. Perhaps not surprisingly — it is deep-Blue State California, after all — 10 of those counties voted heavily for Hillary Clinton.

Los Angeles County, whose more than 10 million people make it the nation's most populous county, had 12% more registered voters than live ones, some 707,475 votes. That's a huge number of possible votes in an election.

But, Murdock notes, "California's San Diego County earns the enchilada grande. Its 138% registration translates into 810,966 ghost voters."

State by state, this is an enormous problem that needs to be dealt with seriously. Having so many bogus voters out there is a temptation to voter fraud.

There's more at the link.

If you expect me to believe that fully three and a half million 'ghost voters' somehow got onto electoral rolls by 'accident' . . . particularly when they're almost exclusively concentrated in districts hewing to the left-wing/progressive side of the electoral divide . . . then I have this bridge in Brooklyn, NYC that I'd like to sell you.  Cash only, please, and in small bills.

Couple that with an earlier report that millions of illegal aliens probably cast ballots in the 2016 election, and you have a recipe for disaster.

I hope and trust that President Trump's Electoral Integrity Commission will find a solution to this problem.  Certainly, it can't be allowed to persist through the 2018 elections.  It needs to be dealt with now - otherwise our democracy will be in serious danger.


North Korea isn't the only danger zone right now

I won't be at all surprised to see Israel do something fairly violent about this.

An Israeli television report said on Tuesday that Iran is building a facility in northwest Syria to manufacture long-range rockets, and showed satellite images it said were of the site under construction.

. . .

The Channel 2 television news report showed images it said were taken by an Israeli satellite showing a site in northwest Syria near the Mediterranean coastal town of Baniyas, saying some of the construction indicated explosives would be stored there.

The images from the Eros B satellite showcase the site's ability to store underground missiles, the reports said.

It compared images of buildings it said were of a rocket factory near Tehran to structures at the Syrian site, and said there was a strong resemblance between them.

There's more at the link, including photographs.

There's no way Israel will permit the manufacture or assembly of such missiles in a location where Hezbollah or Hamas terrorists can get their hands on them.  It's too great a threat to Israel's security.  I've no doubt that warnings have already been dispatched to all concerned, setting a hard deadline for the demolition of the entire site.  If those warnings aren't heeded, I daresay Israel will do the demolition itself.  That won't please Russia, which sees Syria as a client state, but I suspect they'll understand, and probably won't protest too loudly.


The Electronic Frontier Foundation sounds a warning

The widely-respected Electronic Frontier Foundation, a non-partisan group fighting online censorship and working for freedom of expression on the Internet, has sounded a warning over the actions of several Internet companies following the Charlottesville clash last weekend.

In the wake of Charlottesville, both GoDaddy and Google have refused to manage the domain registration for the Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website that, in the words of the Southern Poverty Law Center, is “dedicated to spreading anti-Semitism, neo-Nazism, and white nationalism.” Subsequently Cloudflare, whose service was used to protect the site from denial-of-service attacks, has also dropped them as a customer, with a telling quote from Cloudflare’s CEO: “Literally, I woke up in a bad mood and decided someone shouldn’t be allowed on the Internet. No one should have that power.”

We agree. Even for free speech advocates, this situation is deeply fraught with emotional, logistical, and legal twists and turns. All fair-minded people must stand against the hateful violence and aggression that seems to be growing across our country. But we must also recognize that on the Internet, any tactic used now to silence neo-Nazis will soon be used against others, including people whose opinions we agree with. Those on the left face calls to characterize the Black Lives Matter movement as a hate group. In the Civil Rights Era cases that formed the basis of today’s protections of freedom of speech, the NAACP’s voice was the one attacked.

Protecting free speech is not something we do because we agree with all of the speech that gets protected. We do it because we believe that no one—not the government and not private commercial enterprises—should decide who gets to speak and who doesn’t.

. . .

It might seem unlikely now that Internet companies would turn against sites supporting racial justice or other controversial issues. But if there is a single reason why so many individuals and companies are acting together now to unite against neo-Nazis, it is because a future that seemed unlikely a few years ago—that white nationalists and Nazis now have significant power and influence in our society—now seems possible. We would be making a mistake if we assumed that these sorts of censorship decisions would never turn against causes we love.

Part of the work for all of us now is to push back against such dangerous decisions with our own voices and actions. Another part of our work must be to seek to shore up the weakest parts of the Internet’s infrastructure so it cannot be easily toppled if matters take a turn for the (even) worse. These actions are not in opposition; they are to the same ends.

We can—and we must—do both.

There's more at the link.  Worthwhile reading.

That's the problem, right there.  These companies have taken it upon themselves to act as society's conscience, whether or not all of society agrees with their interpretation of that conscience.  That's the camel's nose, right there.  If we allow them to get away with silencing what they consider to be extreme right-wing voices now, what's to stop anyone redefining what constitutes an 'extreme right-wing voice' in the future, and banning it in the same way?  What's next?
  • Opposition to abortion?
  • Opposition to the admission, much less the legalization, of illegal aliens in the USA?
  • Opposition to excessive entitlement programs?
The progressive wing of US politics would regard all of those positions as 'extreme right-wing';  yet between one-third and two-thirds of Americans (including yours truly) hold one or more of them.

If these Internet companies are allowed to get away with this position today, we're going to face worse problems in the future.  It's as simple as that.  We cannot afford to endanger the freedom of speech, whether by government fiat or commercial diktat, because without it, we lack the freedom of choice that democracy is supposed to provide.


Thursday, August 17, 2017

I hope the silent majority is gathering itself for action . . .

  • Memories Pizza in Indiana?  When its owner declined to cater gay weddings, and the store shut down under a monumental wave of hatred and backlash, a fundraiser collected over $800,000 for the owners.
  • Sweet Cakes by Melissa in Oregon?  Forced by a hostile state agency to pay damages to a lesbian couple for whom the Christian owners refused to bake a wedding cake, the case is now before the Oregon Supreme Court - and likely to head to the Supreme Court in Washington if it doesn't achieve resolution in state courts.  Supporters have so far raised over half a million dollars for the owners' legal expenses.
  • The Chick-Fil-A same-sex marriage controversy?  In a massive show of support, the company's sales reached a new record in the face of propaganda against it from the LGBT community.

Those are only the better-known examples of what happens when the left-wing, progressive community underestimated the strength of feeling among ordinary Americans - and the revulsion against their over-the-top attacks on anyone they regard as unsympathetic to their cause.  The same thing is visible in reaction to the neo-Nazi displays in Charlottesville last weekend.  Naked political propaganda is meeting rejection, and high time, too.

That phenomenon has just been on display again, this time in Santa Monica, California.

A left wing attempt to boycott a performance of the Santa Monica Symphony due to a guest appearance by conservative radio host Dennis Prager backfired on Wednesday night; the event was a sellout.

. . .

Liberals began to call for a boycott of the symphony due to Prager's presence, with the mayor of Santa Monica and a city councilman saying they wouldn't attend.

Musicians in the symphony even refused to perform, two of them penned an open letter saying "Dennis Prager is a right wing radio host who promotes horribly bigoted positions.

Prager is not a trained conductor and there is no musical rationale for his participation. Please urge your friends not to attend this concert, which helps normalize bigotry in our community."

But Prager's supporters showed up in big numbers, and the event was a sellout.

"I think it's a beautiful thing, it's the unintended consequence of stupidity," said Steve Kahn. "It may not have been sold out, but because the attention has now been given on a national platform, people who may have been less inclined to show up, who were either fans of classical al music or fans of freedom of speech, or fans of Dennis, have now decided to come support the concert and support Dennis."

"The people who ginned up the controversy show themselves in the foot," said Endre Balogh, a violinist. "When people mix politics and music for specious reasons, then they get what they get."

There's more at the link.

I'm sincerely hoping that the same effect will be visible in public reaction to the over-the-top displays of vitriol and violence by all sides in Charlottesville last weekend.  I have a feeling that the silent majority is rather larger than people might imagine, and angry enough right now to become a lot less silent.  I hope so, at any rate - because such nonsense must be challenged.  We cannot allow thugs - of either the left or the right wing of US politics - to rule our streets.  They have got to be stopped;  and if the law won't do it, we must.  How, precisely, that is to happen, remains to be seen . . . but I have a feeling that, if idiots carry on behaving like idiots, we may not have to wait very long.


Solve one health care problem, make another worse

It looks as if the law of unintended consequences has caught up with Obamacare.  The Wall Street Journal reports:

Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson presents intriguing evidence that the Medicaid expansion under ObamaCare may be contributing to the rise in opioid abuse. According to a federal Health and Human Services analysis requested by the Senator, overdose deaths per million residents rose twice as fast in the 29 Medicaid expansion states—those that increased eligibility to 138% from 100% of the poverty line—than in the 21 non-expansion states between 2013 and 2015.

There were also marked disparities between neighboring states based on whether they opted into ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion. Deaths increased twice as much in New Hampshire (108%) and Maryland (44%)—expansion states—than in Maine (55%) and Virginia (22%). Drug fatalities shot up by 41% in Ohio while climbing 3% in non-expansion Wisconsin.

Using open source court files and news stories, Mr. Johnson’s office also found 261 cases of people who were recently prosecuted for exploiting Medicaid cards to obtain opioids. Last month an Army veteran was convicted of selling oxycodone pills with forged prescriptions. His co-conspirator paid for the pills with a Medicaid card.

A police detective in Wisconsin told Mr. Johnson’s office that 240 oxycodone pills can be purchased with a Medicaid card for a $1 co-pay and resold for $4,000 on the street. A single Vicodin pill can fetch $50.

In a letter to the Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services, Mr. Johnson last month observed that “it appears that the program has created a perverse incentive for people to use opioids, sell them for large profits and stay hooked.” He’s asked the Inspector General to investigate Medicaid’s controls to prevent such abuses.

There's more at the link.  (The article may disappear behind a paywall.)

Expanding Medicaid seemed like a good idea at the time, to help control runaway medical costs;  but it hasn't been very successful in that.  Now, with this problem on top of cost inflation, one wonders what the powers that be will do to solve the imbroglio.  Karl Denninger offered a simple solution in two steps, but it would involve an immediate recession as prices realigned and stabilized, so it's not likely to be adopted.  However, anything else will probably lead to the same result, further down the road.

It's a mess.  I honestly don't see any solution to the US healthcare crisis in the near term . . . and all of us are going to get caught up in it in due course.


Was the entire Charlottesville imbroglio a setup from start to finish?

I'm beginning to wonder whether the events at Charlottesville, VA last weekend were deliberately set up and allowed to unfold, as a calculated political maneuver to put President Trump in particular, and the Republican Party and conservatives and the alt-right in general, into an impossible position, where anything they might do could be criticized by the massed battalions of the Democratic Party, their lackey news media, and the forces seeking to undermine the US constitution (George Soros, take a bow).

In order to forestall the inevitable idiocy of those who might wish to accuse me of Nazi sympathies, or anything stupid like that, let me state at once that I unequivocally condemn racism in general, and Nazism in particular.  I have literally exchanged gunfire with neo-Nazis in South Africa, about which I wrote some time ago.  That, plus my other articles on racism, xenophobia and discrimination, speak for themselves, IMHO.  However, I also strongly uphold the Constitution of the United States, particularly the Bill of Rights.  I uphold free speech, without restrictions or preconditions or limitations.  If you limit free speech for one, you necessarily limit it for all.  This is completely unacceptable.  (See Lawdog's take on the subject for a very good, balanced perspective.)

That said, consider the following political maneuvers that have been uncovered since the demonstrations:
  • It has been claimed by Fox News that police were ordered not to make any arrests without the specific permission of the Mayor of Charlottesville.  The ACLU has stated bluntly that police did little or nothing to prevent the violence;
  • Virginia Governor McAuliffe claimed that protesters had weapons 'stashed around the city' - a clearly inflammatory remark that was promptly denied by his own State Police.  I get the impression, from this and other reports, that law enforcement agencies and officers in and around Charlottesville were more than a little angered by the restraints imposed on them for political reasons, thereby giving violent demonstrators a relatively free hand.  City Journal called it 'avoidable mayhem'.
  • The 'hot button' issue allegedly driving the Charlottesville clashes was the removal of Confederate monuments in that city.  Since events there, calls to remove other Confederate monuments have redoubled, coming thick and fast from far-left-wing and progressive spokespersons in other major cities, including Chicago, Baltimore (where statues were immediately removed overnight, to forestall protests), and even a call to remove a Confederate memorial carved into the face of Stone Mountain, Georgia.  One can believe that these calls were all made on the spur of the moment by opportunist politicians . . . or one might suspect, as I do, that there was a certain amount of prearrangement and coordination involved.
  • Businesses are either acting on their own accord, or are being pressured by other customers and peers, to cut off services to those held responsible by 'public opinion' (note - NOT the courts or any official source) for the violence in Charlottesville.  As far as I'm aware, that backlash has been exclusively directed against right-wing groups and individuals, even though left-wing groups and individuals have publicly boasted about their own violent actions there.  Legal Insurrection calls the one-sided blame game a 'reversal of reality'.
  • President Trump is being attacked from all sides for failing to unequivocally condemn the right-wing demonstrators in Charlottesville - despite the fact that he has, in fact, done so.  He is being criticized for pointing out that there was violence on all sides - despite the fact that this was, in fact, the case.  This is clearly an orchestrated, organized, deliberate attempt to ignore the facts and paint him into a corner as a neo-Nazi sympathizer - an accusation for which there is no evidence whatsoever.

Putting all these things together, I can only conclude that a shadowy behind-the-scenes organizer (or organizers) is/are pulling the strings, coordinating responses to Charlottesville for the benefit of far-left-wing and progressive elements in this country.  I have a pretty good idea who's to blame, as well.
  • I have little doubt that George Soros, and organizations and individuals funded by him, are heavily involved.
  • I have little doubt that former President Obama's 'Organizing for Action' and its leadership is in this up to its neck.
  • It's very obvious, from their own statements and those of their leaders, that organizations such as Antifa, Black Lives Matter, etc. are behind much of what's going on.
  • I have little doubt that the national news media, so infamously in the tank for former President Obama and so clearly united in opposition to President Trump, are playing this up for all they're worth.

The question thus becomes, where will the next Charlottesville happen?  The left always looks to keep the momentum going, to pile on incident after incident, to build up a mass reaction to what they perceive as an evil or an injustice.  Charlottesville has been grist to their mill . . . but the furore will die down in the not too distant future.  Where will they strike next?  I have no doubt whatsoever that they're already planning the next incident like this, and already lining up publicity, calls for action, and everything else that will inevitably follow it.

Meanwhile, of course, let us not forget Newton's Third Law of Motion, commonly stated as:  "To every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction".  Right-wing reaction to left-wing excesses is building.  Some are already calling this 'Civil War 2.0'.  Even the venerable New Yorker asked, 'Is America Headed for a New Kind of Civil War?'  Even 4Chan is getting in on the act, with proposals to take down statues of Communist figures.  I'm also hearing verbal reactions from individuals in various parts of the country, who are furious that such a sequence of events was allowed to unfold by the Charlottesville city fathers.  The general tone of the comments seems to be, "If they don't stop that sort of thing happening here, I damn well will!"  I fear a backlash from ordinary citizens who've had enough of extremists of every stripe.  So do a number of law enforcement personnel of my acquaintance, who know they're likely to get caught up in it, whether they like it or not.

Individuals whom I know and respect have stated openly to me that they believe some kind of separation is inevitable, with left-wing, liberal states hiving off from right-wing, conservative states, and vice versa.  (The current 'Calexit' movement is a good example.)  My response is that I don't know of a single state that is monolithic in its politics.  It may be predominantly left- or right-wing, but in every case there will be a substantial minority of those from the other side of the political spectrum.  Absent some sort of (forced or voluntary) 'ethnic cleansing' (or, in this case, political cleansing), how is such a separation to be achieved?  I doubt whether it's practical.  If it happens despite being impractical, I fear bloodshed will result, just as it did in the former Yugoslavia a few decades ago.

The irony, of course, is that the two sides are far closer to one another in terms of their philosophical underpinnings than either would ever imagine.  A few days ago, I quoted Brendan O'Neill's comment that the conflict was essentially over 'the narcissism of small differences'.  Donald Sensing points out that Nazism's roots are emphatically and unequivocally in Socialism and Communism, as confirmed by Hitler himself.  One wonders what the neo-Marxists, neo-Trotskyites and neo-Leninists of the far Left would say to that?


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

*Sigh* Such is love . . .

I've been battling with a case of the seasonal crud that's going around at present.  It's no fun, but you know what they say . . . take medicine, and it lasts a week;  don't take medicine, and it lasts seven days.  It's that sort of crud.

Anyway, I knew I had it bad when I said to my wife this afternoon, in passing, "I love you."

She replied, "I love you too, my little plague vector."



The Shadow no longer knows . . . he's become politically correct!

Courtesy of a link at John C. Wright's place, we find this absolutely magnificent - albeit magnificently profane - rant concerning how political correctness has invaded even The Shadow.  Mr. Wright writes:

Dynamite Comics just put out a new version of The Shadow. The Shadow is and has been my most deeply beloved character of my imaginative life.

They turned him into an SJW who lectures villains on their white privilege.

I am not making this up.

While in the middle of gunning down two Virginia Tech style mass murderers, The SJW Shadow tells them that they were born atop a pedistal of privilege, and their loss of power when the minorities lives improve erodes their “empire”, which is what drives them to their crimes.

. . .

... in a comic, the Leftist can reverse the polarity of reality, and have the most proto-Objectivist hardcore vigilante in comicbookdom turn into a morally ambiguous Antifas lefteroon.

The comic also pauses to have the viewpoint character, a Hispanic woman, say that there are no heroes in life, merely violent men. Heroes are merely gangsters in white hats.

Interesting message to put in a story about the most iconic vigilante of all time, the human version of an archangel of merciless wrath-of-heavenly vengeance.

. . .

If Walter Gibson returns from the grave as a ghost in a black hat and cloak, half unseen, heard only as a whisper or a mocking laughter,  armed with .45 automatics, to carry out a divine vengeance against these greasy leftwing harpies, who despoil every feast they cannot eat, it would be only justice.

There's more at the link.

Mr. Wright also embeds the video below, along with a warning that it's not safe for civilized consumption due to language and other issues.  I agree . . . but it's such a magnificent rant about how the PC (politically correct) and SJW (social justice warrior) brigades have ruined comic books, that I simply can't resist posting it.  Watch at your own risk!

Suffice it to say that if the older generation of comic fans - those who took the genre to the heights, back in the '60's, '70's and '80's - had had to endure this sort of crap, the genre would never have taken off as it did.  Instead, it would have been (more or less mercifully) euthanized.


I'm sick of political wreckage. Let's have some other wrecks!

Here's another series of rally accidents.  At least they're relatively bloodless, and everyone (except those in the vehicles) seems to enjoy them!

Yeah.  That'll get the taste of Charlottesville out of our mouths for a while.


Is Antifa the American ISIS?

I've been trying to analyze the behavior of the far left wing in America over the past few weeks.  I speak as one who's been through one national revolution (the transformation of South Africa from apartheid to democracy), and witnessed several others in the continent of Africa.  I know what political extremism means, what terrorism means . . . I've experienced them at first hand.

As a starting point, let's take Peter Beinart's view of 'The Rise of the Violent Left'.  I'll quote extensively from it, but you really should go read the whole article.  It's worth it.

To most left-wing activists during the Clinton, Bush, and Obama years, deregulated global capitalism seemed like a greater threat than fascism.

Trump has changed that. For antifa, the result has been explosive growth. According to NYC Antifa, the group’s Twitter following nearly quadrupled in the first three weeks of January alone. (By summer, it exceeded 15,000.) Trump’s rise has also bred a new sympathy for antifa among some on the mainstream left. “Suddenly,” noted the antifa-aligned journal It’s Going Down, “anarchists and antifa, who have been demonized and sidelined by the wider Left have been hearing from liberals and Leftists, ‘you’ve been right all along.’ ” An article in The Nation argued that “to call Trumpism fascist” is to realize that it is “not well combated or contained by standard liberal appeals to reason.” The radical left, it said, offers “practical and serious responses in this political moment.”

Those responses sometimes spill blood. Since antifa is heavily composed of anarchists, its activists place little faith in the state, which they consider complicit in fascism and racism. They prefer direct action: They pressure venues to deny white supremacists space to meet. They pressure employers to fire them and landlords to evict them. And when people they deem racists and fascists manage to assemble, antifa’s partisans try to break up their gatherings, including by force.

Such tactics have elicited substantial support from the mainstream left.

. . .

Antifascists call such actions defensive. Hate speech against vulnerable minorities, they argue, leads to violence against vulnerable minorities. But Trump supporters and white nationalists see antifa’s attacks as an assault on their right to freely assemble, which they in turn seek to reassert. The result is a level of sustained political street warfare not seen in the U.S. since the 1960s.

. . .

What’s eroding ... is the quality Max Weber considered essential to a functioning state: a monopoly on legitimate violence. As members of a largely anarchist movement, antifascists don’t want the government to stop white supremacists from gathering. They want to do so themselves, rendering the government impotent.

. . .

Antifa believes it is pursuing the opposite of authoritarianism. Many of its activists oppose the very notion of a centralized state. But in the name of protecting the vulnerable, antifascists have granted themselves the authority to decide which Americans may publicly assemble and which may not. That authority rests on no democratic foundation. Unlike the politicians they revile, the men and women of antifa cannot be voted out of office. Generally, they don’t even disclose their names.

. . .

Revulsion, fear, and rage are understandable. But one thing is clear. The people preventing Republicans from safely assembling on the streets ... may consider themselves fierce opponents of the authoritarianism growing on the American right. In truth, however, they are its unlikeliest allies.

There's more at the link.  Bold, underlined text is my emphasis.

Where else have we seen such tactics recently?  Oh, yes . . . ISIS/ISIL!  The fundamentalist Islamic terrorist movement that has plagued Iraq, Syria, Libya and many other countries in recent years appears to follow almost exactly the same principles, albeit from a religious rather than a political perspective - but the results are the same.  ISIS dictates to people how they should and may behave, in moral, political, social and cultural terms.  Dissent is not only not tolerated, it's punished severely, frequently with death or torture.  There is no 'state authority' to whom to appeal:  ISIS is both the religious and secular authority, and makes no distinction between them. Its propaganda and indoctrination reach from the cradle to the grave.

Death sentences for conduct such as homosexuality are immediate and automatic, and there is no appeal.  Conform, or else!

If Antifa and its ilk are like ISIS (and I believe they are, although not [yet] so far sunk into terrorism and depravity), they can be expected to be just as intolerant of doctrines and positions that differ from their own.  Isn't that exactly what we're seeing on the streets of America right now?  It hasn't yet gotten to the point of Antifa throwing dissenters off buildings . . . but they will gather with sticks, stones, clubs and improvised flamethrowers, and attempt to disrupt the gatherings of those with whom they disagree - often violently.

What's more, Antifa's leaders and organizers are simply not prepared to accept that they might be wrong in their interpretation.  They are fanatical in their views, and are not open to discussion.  Take, for example, the views of Yvette Felarca, one of the organizers of the riots in Berkeley last year.

I see in her precisely and exactly the same fanaticism that I see in ISIS spokesmen.  Facts don't matter:  only her interpretation of those facts is relevant.  Her tactics may not be so far gone in violence and bloodshed as those of ISIS, but that may not last.  In pursuit of her ideals, her perspective, I doubt that she would flinch from personally using violence on her opponents.  She may already have done so during the Berkeley riots, for all I know.  Certainly, her Antifa allies don't shrink from the prospect.

(Readers may recall that I linked to the "It's Going Down" web site last Saturday, and provided examples of its propaganda.)

Antifa, Black Lives Matter, Occupy . . . all those movements appear to involve the same organizers, and follow basically the same principles.  They all try to disrupt the existing order and violently oppose it.  They refuse to entertain the idea that there might be another side to the issues they raise, instead insisting that only their views are correct.  In their intolerance, in their political and social obsessiveness (which borders on religious fanaticism), I submit that they have become the equivalent of ISIS in America.

The only question is, can we deal with them more peacefully than we have had to deal with ISIS in the Middle East?  That remains to be seen.


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Two new fun, short reads

Friends in meatspace and cyberspace, Tom Rogneby and Alma Boykin (the links are to their respective blogs), have each put out a new piece of short fiction in the past few days.

Alma's newest is a collection of five short stories titled 'Familiar Tales'.

The title doesn't mean that the stories are familiar;  rather that they're stories about familiars, the spirits (usually in animal form) who are 'assigned' to magicians and other arcane practitioners to help them in their work.  Alma's 'familiars' are sometimes a hindrance, too, due to their somewhat . . . ah . . . eclectic natures.  The collection of stories is a lot of fun, with several sections that had Miss D. and I laughing aloud.

Tom's latest offering is a short story titled 'The Boogeyman'.

It's about a private investigator with paranormal leanings, and a lot of experiences he'd rather not have had - hence his title.  He looks scary, but he's good at his job.  This story tells the tale of one such job, in a way that has you riding right along with the hero.  Good stuff.

Both books carry Miss D.'s and my seal of approval, and they're very reasonably priced.  Recommended reading.


Heh - Google edition

Crisis magazine offers this satirical take on the Google political-correctness imbroglio.

To: All Google Employees
From: Unoi’m Carasee, Vice President of Mutually Exclusive Propositions
Subject: The Recent Outrage

Dear Google Employees:

In light of the horrific assault on Google values recently made by a former employee, we feel it is necessary to add a few further propositions to the official Google List of Mandatory Beliefs. In order to retain their positions, all Google employees must assent to the following two Statements of Fact:

1) For the purposes of employee non-discrimination policy, there is no such thing as a male brain or a female brain. Any suggestion to the contrary is rank bigotry.

2) For the purposes of transgender policy, each person’s brain is either male or female. Any suggestion to the contrary is rank bigotry.

Perhaps the first reaction of some of you will be that the two statements above cannot both be true. That is Western, patriarchal, non-intersectional thinking. Such thinking is merely a sign that your brain has not been fully Googleized. Accepting the truth of what used to be called “mutually exclusive propositions” can be difficult for the uninitiated, who bitterly cling to outdated ideas. But once you internalize contradictions, affirming the logically impossible becomes easier and easier every day. As an exercise in proper thinking, I myself assent to at least three impossible contradictions every day before breakfast.

There's more at the link.  Good for a giggle!

The sad thing about the infamous memo and Google's reaction is that the whole thing shows the insularity of Google management.  They literally seem incapable of recognizing their own failure to comply with the fairness and inclusivity standards they preach.  Their institutional blindness is mind-boggling.


Errr . . . oops?

I've always regarded sex work as a lousy job.  This incident last week appears to prove it's a s***ty one, too!

A popular strip club in Abbotsford, BC has been closed until further notice after several dancers contracted diarrhea last Friday night. The cause of the incident, which remains under investigation, has been initially linked to a contaminated buffet at the venue. While the investigation continues, the venue has not been named.

. . .

Patrons at the venue who were sitting near the stage were the most directly affected by the incident, which occurred close to 11pm. According to a witness at the venue, three dancers were performing on separate poles when the first sign of trouble emerged ... ‘a stream of brown liquid soon gushed over the stage splashing onlookers’, according to the witness. “It was absolutely disgusting,” he told journalists. “A number of guests immediately puked. I personally ran for the exit, I lost all interest in the show.”

The other dancers on stage also suffered from diarrhea soon after and were forced to abandon their performance. “They had a hard time getting off the stage,” said one witness, who stayed to watch the aftermath of the incident. “High heels and diarrhea really don’t mix.”

There's more at the link.

Clearly, this particular strip club is (literally) not for the anal-retentive!


After Charlottesville: some very interesting responses

There have been a large number of comments and developments following last weekend's violence in Charlottesville.  Here are a few that I found particularly interesting.

1.  The ACLU questions whether law enforcement was deliberately trying to provoke a confrontation.
"It is the responsibility of law enforcement to ensure safety of both protesters and counter-protesters. The policing on Saturday was not effective in preventing violence. I was there and brought concerns directly to the secretary of public safety and the head of the Virginia State Police about the way that the barricades in the park limiting access by the arriving demonstrators and the lack of any physical separation of the protesters and counter-protesters on the street were contributing to the potential of violence. They did not respond. In fact, law enforcement was standing passively by, seeming to be waiting for violence to take place, so that they would have grounds to declare an emergency, declare an ‘unlawful assembly’ and clear the area."

2.  It looks very much as if the political leaders of Charlottesville were actively interfering in law enforcement activities.  Fox News reported that "officers were instructed to make no arrests without the explicit approval of the Charlottesville mayor".  Given the politics of that council and its leaders, this should give any objective observer pause for thought.  For more information on that, read the section 'Bonus: Report from the Field' at Stilton Jarlsberg's place (scroll down at the link to find it).

3.  This political interference appears to have stretched all the way to the head of the state government.  City Journal reports:
Almost at first contact, Charlottesville mayor Michael Signer and Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency and cancelled the demonstrators’ permits, whereupon police began funneling the alt-right protestors away from the designated demonstration site—and, some reports have it, toward the counter-protestors. The carnage followed in short order. Whether the breakdown in police protection was purposeful—that is, intended to quash a constitutionally protected demonstration and provoke a violent confrontation—is a question unlikely to be pursued in Virginia’s present political environment. As partisan eye-gougers go, Governor McAuliffe, a Democrat, is near the top of the list; Mayor Signer, also a Democrat, seems to be cut from the same cloth.

But deliberate or not, the effect was the same: when the sun went down over Charlottesville Saturday, the First Amendment was lying in the dust, and the civic ties meant to bind all Americans were just that much weaker.

4.  Brendan O'Neill summed up the situation very well, IMHO.
"It's becoming so clear now why the war of words between SJWs and the new white nationalists is so intense. It isn't because they have huge ideological differences -- it's because they have so much in common. Both are obsessed with race, SJWs demanding white shame, the alt-right responding with white pride. Both view everyday life and culture through a highly racialised filter. SJWs can't even watch a movie without counting how many lines the black actor has in comparison with the white actor so that they can rush home and tumblr about the injustice of it all. Both have a seemingly boundless capacity for self-pity. Both are convinced they're under siege, whether by patriarchy, transphobia and the Daily Mail (SJWs) or by pinkos and blacks (white nationalists). Both have a deep censorious strain. And both crave recognition of their victimhood and flattery of their feelings. This is really what they're fighting over -- not principles or visions but who should get the coveted title of the most hard-done-by identity. They're auditioning for social pity. "My life matters! My pain matters! I matter!" The increasing bitterness and even violence of their feud is not evidence of its substance, but the opposite: it's the narcissism of small differences."

5.  Lawdog summed up the heart of the matter in his usual inimitable way.  Here's an excerpt.

Gentle Readers, free speech is messy.  It is ugly, precisely because free speech that everyone agrees with does not require protections.  Why would you protect speech that upsets no-one?  Why would you need to?

Even worse is the call for the government to declare that certain speech is "hate speech" -- because getting the government involved always works out so well -- and to give the government (and the flawed, flawed humans who make up that government) the power to declare bans on certain speech.

To put it in simple language even a college student can understand:

Do you really want President Mike Pence deciding what is protected speech, and what speech should be banned?

Because that is what you're going to get in the future.

How about President Greg Abbott after Mission Creep gets into the mix?

 How would you feel about President Ted Cruz deciding what speech you should go to jail for?

That, ladies and gentlemen, is exactly what you're setting yourself up for when you start yick-yacking about the government banning speech.

"But, LawDog," I hear you snivelling, "Some speech is an incitement to violence, and should be against the law."

You know what?  Let's look at that.

I have heard folks chanting, "What do we want?  Dead cops!  When do we want it?  Now!" rather recently.  About me, and those like me.

Is that not an incitement to violence?  Ask Dallas PD, and their dead brothers.  Should it not be "against the law"?

No.  It is protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.

I can show any number of YouTube videos of imams calling for jihad, for the slaughter of Westerners, for the genocide of an entire people.

Is this not an incitement to violence?  Ask the dead in San Bernadino, at Ft Hood, at Orlando, at the Boston Marathon.  Should it not be "against the law"?

No.  It is protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.

"But, LawDog, Nazi-related speech is banned in Germany!"

I don't give two hoots in hell about how they do things in Germany.  You like their restriction on free speech -- move.  Delta is ready when you are. Scram.

So.  To break it down Barney-style:  your calls to ban speech -- even Nazi speech -- is un-American.  And once you've begged government to pass that first law banning speech, it's a simple amendment to expand those bans.  Think about the absolute worst politician you can think of in the White House.  Worse than Trump -- because they're out there, and they've got as good a chance at the Oval Office as Donald J. Trump had -- think about that politician being able to amend a law banning speech.

There's much more at the link.  Recommended reading.


Monday, August 14, 2017

Doofus Of The Day #970

A tip o' the hat to an anonymous reader for forwarding the link to today's award, which goes to a couple in Florida.

A Florida couple transporting a propane barbecue grill inside their SUV was injured Sunday after a woman lit a cigarette, sparking an explosion.

The grill was turned on and the propane tank was open in the back of the red Kia Sorento when the couple left a barbecue at the Central Florida Fairgrounds, Orlando police Lt. Cindy Lane told the Orlando Sentinel.

After the explosion, the vehicle kept traveling until it crashed into a pole, according to Lane.

There's more at the link.

Let's see . . . roof ripped open and blown upward . . . windscreen blown out . . . I'd say they're lucky to be alive!  Why the hell didn't someone check to see that the gas was both switched off, and disconnected, before they loaded the grill?


That'll put the cat among the penitential pigeons!

I note that Australia is considering forcing priests to reveal child sexual abuse that might be mentioned in the sacrament of penance, commonly known as Confession.

Australia's Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse recommended in a report on Monday that all states and territories in Australia introduce legislation that would make it a criminal offense for people to fail to report child sexual abuse in an institutional setting. Clergy who find out about sexual abuse during a confidential religious confession would not be exempt from the law.

There's more at the link.  Bold, underlined text is my emphasis.

I can understand why the Commission is proposing this . . . but it's going to produce a head-on clash with the Catholic Church, because priests are required - on pain of instant, automatic excommunication - to keep confidential any sin discussed during the sacrament.  There is no way the Church is going to relax that rule, even if priests may be jailed for refusing to obey secular law(s) to the contrary.

The irresistible force is about to meet the immovable object.  Get the popcorn, folks.  This is going to get heated.