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Sunday, January 31, 2016

A cross country runner??

A Virginia Tech freshman was charged yesterday with the murder of a 13-year-old girl. Something about the article left me feeling disquieted, and I wasn't sure why at first.

It wasn't because the accused killer was white; there are plenty of white murderers. It was a little surprising that he went to a good school like Virginia Tech; smart kids generally do a better job of staying out of trouble.

Then it hit me: I was shocked because David Eisenhauer was a star cross country runner. You almost never hear of cross country runners getting into trouble like that.


(David Eisenhauer)

Hearing about football or basketball players running afoul of the law is practically an every day occurrence. Maybe there's a racial component there, but even with sports like hockey or golf or car racing, you hear about a fair amount of misbehavior.

Cross country is different. It's a sport that demands intense discipline, a clean lifestyle, and enduring a fair amount of physical pain, all of which tend to attract more introverted personalities.

At the (mostly white) high school in my hometown, the girl's soccer team was known as a "fast" crowd. Ditto for the basketball team. The cross country team was generally composed of "good girls," who studied hard and didn't party as much.

The same applied to the boys' teams, with football substituting for soccer.

And I've heard those same correlations apply at other high schools as well.

So to read about a 4:19 miler (the best time listed for Eisenhauer online) being charged with murder was a shock.

Friday, January 29, 2016

If fashion writers covered the crime beat

As a follow up to the post about how history would read if it were recorded by fashionistas, a few examples of what they might do with the crime beat:


Nothing says trustworthy like a tweed jacket, and Ted knows how to wear one with panache! The tie, the white shirt, and the jacket with structured shoulders all exude a staid respectability. You can tell Ted is a deep thinker from his serious expression, as he sadly reflects on man's inhumanity to man. Or  women. And look at that handsome face: our Ted must be a real lady-killer!


Only a kindhearted soul will set aside his dignity to cheer others up! In the wonderful tradition of Patch Adams, John has made it his life's work to befriend young boys who didn't necessarily have a strong father figure around. The red, white, and blue makeup bespeak a certain patriotism, which is only fitting when you consider that his namesake is John Wayne. Of course, when the occasion calls for it, Mr. Gacy can also dress quite respectably:


Here's John with none other than First Lady Rosalynn Carter herself. That crimson sport jacket with lapel buttons shows that this is a man who will one day make his mark and become famous!


Look at those angelic baby blues: don't you just want to eat Jeffrey up? Jeffrey is the epitome of hipster chic with three days growth and an alternating blue and yellow striped shirt with spread collar. Is that dreamy expression because he's thinking of all the finer things in life that a sophisticated man has a taste for?



Some men love football, some love basketball, and some love the Olympics. Andrei is obviously one of the latter, and he's not ashamed to wear his heart on his sleeve! That shaved head shows that he's ready for action himself -- Mr. Chikatilo is one competitor with a killer instinct!


Just because you're 6'9" and 300 pounds doesn't mean you have to get your fashion sense from the Big 'n Tall stores. Edmund has obviously modeled his look after the Beatles from their Sgt. Pepper phase:


When you're as imposing as Mr. Kemper, all the more reason to project peace and love in order to gain people's trust -- especially when you offer them a ride. Smart move, Edmund -- your mother and grandparents must be proud!


Who's that glamorous man behind those aviator sunglasses? A movie star? No -- it's Richard, looking stylish with his Mick Jagger do and his casual sport jacket! Maybe those specs are for sensitivity to the light -- some people are simply night owls! All we know is, with that sexy look, Mr. Ramirez must have a devil of a time with women stalking him all over Tinseltown!


Son of a gun! David certainly doesn't dog it when it comes to fashionable collars! New York City is the world's capital of fashion, and David loves to roam it all -- even the outer boroughs! Note that David is wearing cotton -- like any true animal-lover, not only does he disapprove of wearing fur, he'll even let animals have their way! In fact, David has such a highly developed moral sense he even disapproves of public displays of affection!


Richard looks quite stylish in a patterned tweed jacket with matching tie. The jacket may be a tad large, but the impression of a boy wearing his father's clothing seems only appropriate once you've looked into those innocent blue eyes. Richard is definitely a nice boy, not the type to nurse a grudge.



Who says that fashionistas have a stranglehold on style?! Even a door to door salesman like Albert wants to look good -- because you never get a second chance to make a first impression! Like any stylish man, Albert wears his tie nice and snug -- but not too snug!



Most people grow more fashionable as they age, but some move beyond fashion. At 14, Charlie was quite the snappy dresser. But eventually, as you can tell from his peacefully ethereal look below, he realized that earthly possessions were no longer important to him:


But even though he's moved beyond fashion, he still pays attention to his grooming, never letting his locks go helter skelter. Why, with those soft, luxuriant tresses, he could model for Clairol! How many guys can claim to be both a family man and a style icon?

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Filial respect, Part VII

We were watching Bone Tomahawk, a gritty Western/horror movie the other night. Towards the end of the movie there's a brutal scene where the "Troglodytes," a renegade cannibal Indian tribe, take one of their captives, strip him, hold him upside down, pull his legs apart, and then one of them, using an oversize tomahawk, cleaves him, bisecting him.

The scene happens at about 10:20 on this Youtube video, but I don't recommend watching it.

As soon as the scene was over, my son said, "Look Dad, there's the prostate surgery team from Sloan Kettering."

Monday, January 25, 2016

Empty threats from the Left

Last Wednesday Whoopi Goldberg said that if Donald Trump were elected, maybe that means it's time for her to move out of the country.

You always know it's an election year when a liberal threatens to move out of the country if the conservative candidate is elected. (I've never heard a conservative say that he would leave the country if the liberal candidate were elected.)

Alec Baldwin famously said he would leave the country if George W. Bush became President.

Yet, somehow, these liberals never leave the country. They threaten, posture, and fulminate, but then….they always end up staying.

I'm not sure exactly why they posture this way. Are they so narcissistic that they think that people will react by thinking, "Oh no! We can't have Alec leave the country! He's a national treasure! I'll have to vote for Al Gore now!!"

Do they feel foolish after the conservative is elected, and they stay put?

What exactly is it about the liberal mentality that makes them think that threatening to leave will have the slightest effect on anybody's voting? Or is it an offshoot of that "I'm really offended by..." stance whereby they are always trying to prove how refined and delicate their sensibilities are?

Whatever the underlying motivation, it's a revealing glimpse into the leftist psyche.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Bloomberg

Michael Bloomberg is evidently "seriously considering" a third party run for President, especially if Bernie Sanders wins the Democratic nomination. My guess, it'll happen either way. I also think he'll do better than most suspect.

If Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump win their party's nominations, the stars will be aligned perfectly for a third party run. There's never been an election with two candidates with such high disapproval ratings.

Hillary is a corrupt, hypocritical opportunist who would have gotten nowhere had she not been married to a President. From the cattle futures trading bribe to the selling of the State Department to Clinton Foundation donors, it's always baksheesh time for the Clintons. Hillary decries Wall Street while taking their money for speeches, and says all rape victims deserve to be believed after having savaged women who accused her husband of abuse.

There are plenty of liberals who despise her.

Trump has said that John McCain was not a war hero, made fun of a New York Times reporter for his physical disability, mocked Carly Fiorina for her appearance, and exhibited plenty of other bullying, un-Presidential behavior. He seems to feel he should be President because he's leading in the polls, will do a great job (without giving any specifics), is rich, and is the author of "The Art of the Deal."

Plenty of traditional conservatives actively dislike Trump.

Third party candidates have always had the ability to influence electoral outcomes. John Anderson may have turned the 1980 election in Reagan's favor. Ross Perot drained support from George H.W. Bush, and allowed Bill Clinton to be elected with a plurality in 1992. Even Ralph Nader may have handed the 2000 election to George W. Bush, since he drew his support mostly from idealistic Democrats.

But none of these third party candidates ever had a realistic shot at winning. It may be different this time. Bloomberg, as he told friends early on, would have been unable to secure either party's nomination. But now the moment seems right.

Bloomberg's got more than enough money to bankroll his campaign, and has evidently told friends he'll spend a billion to do so. As a lifelong Democrat who ran as a Republican for Mayor of New York, and governed as a centrist, he's got crossover appeal.

Who will he get support from? First, the disaffected voters who don't like their own party's candidates. That's a sizable fraction.

Second, independents who like the idea of a genuine centrist. Bloomberg didn't kowtow to the municipal unions in New York, nor did he kowtow to business. The biggest criticisms he incurred were for his nanny state views (like limiting the size of soft drinks), and his three terms were scandal-free.

Third, he'll get the support of all of the voters who want to feel good about themselves. They can tell themselves they're being free thinkers by voting for the independent candidate. They can tell themselves they're being "balanced" by voting for the middle-of-the-road guy. And they can tell themselves they're being broad-minded by voting for the Jewish guy.

It may sound silly to say that some voters vote to feel good about themselves. But realistically, that's human nature. (Think of all the whites who voted for Obama to prove they weren't racist.)

Finally, Bloomberg will have most of the mainstream media on his side. He is, after all, one of them.

Bloomberg isn't charismatic. He's short, nerdy, and has a nasal voice that sounds like a kazoo. And some say he has no influence beyond New York because his national anti-gun movement never gained traction. He's not the type of guy people go crazy about. But, he'll get the better-than-the-alternatives vote, which will be sizable this year. And, his strengths play well against both of the other candidates' strengths and weaknesses.

Hillary seems to think her biggest asset is her vagina; and feminists do thirst for the first woman President. But Bloomberg would be the first Jewish President. And Hillary, who is always embroiled in some scandal or other, is going to make the incorruptible (because he is already rich) Bloomberg look pristine by comparison.

Trump's biggest weakness is that he offends a lot of people; Bloomberg is inoffensive. And a large part of Trump's justification for running has been that he's such a successful businessman; some of that rationale will melt away in the face of Bloomberg's $37 billion.

Anyway, my guess is that it's going to be a three-way race, and a close one. Someone might win with 36% of the vote.

Don't take this as an endorsement of Bloomberg, by the way. He's a bloodless manager who wouldn't change the direction the country is headed in. They used to call Alfonse D'Amato of New York "Senator Pothole," because that's essentially what he was, a guy who went around taking care of all the small problems New Yorkers had.

Bloomberg would be President Pothole.

What we need is an obnoxious, blunt-spoken guy like Trump who understands that we're gradually turning into a Third World nation and wants to stem that tide before it's too late.

"The Wild World of Oppression Studies"

Some day these types of "study" programs will rank up there with the 1971 Stanford prison experiments led by Philip Zimbardo.

Friday, January 22, 2016

What colleges need

An article today on GOPUSA, College prepares to decry impact of white people, described an upcoming event at Portland Community College:

A college in Oregon is preaching against discrimination while illegally discriminating against white people.

April is "Whiteness History Month" at Portland Community College. The project is aimed at exploring how whiteness emerged from “imperialism, conquest, colonialism and American enterprise….”

Event organizers are asking participants to explore ways of dismantling “whiteness...”

Portland Community isn’t the only college or university to conduct such events. The University of Mount St. Mary’s in Maryland (a Catholic college) co-hosted an "Unmasking Whiteness event last summer; and the University of Colorado-Boulder offers a Whiteness Studies course, which “examines the development of whiteness from past white supremacy.”


I honestly believe that this is not enough. We need to go further to dismantle whiteness.

What I propose is this: whenever white freshmen first arrive on campus, they should be herded en masse to a central site on campus, and be forced to run a gauntlet between students of color who will be screaming the following things at them:

"You're the worst people who ever lived!"

"I'm sick of your white privilege!"

"You're a member of the only race which has ever practiced murder and slavery and rape and genocide!"

"You're Hitler! You're Stalin!"

"Stop oppressing me!"

"You're the scum of the earth -- because you're white!"

"Only whites can be racist!"

"Colonialist piece of shit!"

And then, while they're screaming at them, the students of color should be pelting the white freshmen with tomatoes and eggs and the like. 

That should teach those white freshmen their place. 

Snow!

A friend, Dave Moriarty, just pointed out that most of the articles which have come out in the last couple days about the snowstorm which is about to hit the East Coast are treating us as if we've never seen snow before.

He's right. These articles have all been wonderfully informative:

The snow will make travel difficult. Flights will be cancelled. Some businesses will be shut down on Saturday. In the meantime, snow shovels are selling briskly. If you need to stock up on food, do so now.

You don't say.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Cancer

I had a physical in August in which I got a PSA score of 5.5, a little outside the safe range. The second test in November came back at 5.6, so I scheduled a prostate biopsy on January 5th.

I had planned to write a funny post about the nature of the biopsy. Beforehand, I did ask the physician's assistant I made the appointment with, "There's nothing undignified about this procedure, is there?" (She didn't realize I was kidding.)

I had intended to ask the doctor, once the ultrasonic/needle-injecting wand was up my butt, "Say, I hope you don't think me self-indulgent, but does this thing have a vibrate function?" Once actually in that situation, though, I somehow forgot to ask.

On January 8th, I was told I have prostate cancer. Since then, I seem to have lost my sense of humor about it.

The odds are on my side, however. If it's caught early, as mine seems to have been, the survival rates are 99% five years out. It's a slow-growing and relatively easily treatable form of cancer. (Mine is intermediate in terms of aggression.)

My cancer doesn't seem to have spread yet, though I shouldn't waste any more time in dealing with it. I'm getting a second opinion Thursday at Sloan Kettering, and after that I have to make a decision about the course of treatment. At the moment I'm leaning towards radiation, which may have fewer side effects.

It's those potential side effects I'm mostly worried about: impotence, and even incontinence.

(My sex life has always been a tawdry, sporadic thing. But, it was the only one I had, and I would miss it.)

All of this has taken me by surprise. I feel fine physically, and am otherwise healthy. And, I'm in good shape --

(Boasting alert….)

-- The last week of December was a sort of high water mark athletically. On December 24th, an abnormally warm day in the Northeast, I did a 200 meter run in 27.9. On December 26th I did a one arm clean and jerk with a 75 pound dumbbell. And on December 30th I swam a 100 yard butterfly from a pushoff in 1:01.

I challenge any younger guy to hit all three of those marks in the space of one week. (The clean and jerk should be weight-adjusted; I weigh 160.)

I'm lucky to have people who are helping. My brother will have accompanied me to both consultations. My son has made a heroic -- though losing -- effort to cheer me up.

There are a few people who hate read this blog, and I hate to give them the satisfaction of knowing I have cancer. But, I owe the rest of you an explanation for why I won't be blogging as much while I deal with this. I'll continue to post your comments, but won't be as assiduous in responding to them. Don't take it personally.

Speaking of "personally," that is the direction the cancer seems to have taken my thoughts. So far, I'm thinking all the usual cliched thoughts. But if I come up with anything original, I'll let you know. In any case, be forewarned, this blog may be about to get embarrassing.

Then again, some people would say it's always been embarrassing.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Thursday, January 14, 2016

History test

A month ago, when I wrote, If history were recorded by fashion writers, I was a little afraid that people wouldn't get all the semi-hidden references. A couple days ago I asked an Ivy-eduated guy if he'd gotten them all, and it turned out he'd only gotten a few of them.

If you haven't read the post, please do so. Then see how many of the following references you recognized.




Scroll down.




Scroll down.




Attila the Hun:
"The scourge of everyone who finds grunge acceptable" -- Attila was known as "the Scourge of God."

Vlad III of Wallachia (popularly known as Vlad the Impaler):
"The prince's piercing gaze….If fashion were a car race, Vlad would be sitting in the pole position!" -- Vlad was known to kill people by sitting them atop a long pointed stake placed in their anus which would gradually sink into their intestines.

"Count Dracula wouldn't be caught dead in anything less!" The vampire Dracula was said to have been based on Vlad.

Francisco Pizarro:
"Francisco is one macho peach, you can't deny that!" -- a reference to Machu Picchu, the most famous site of the Incas. (This one was a little forced, I admit.)

Benito Mussolini:
"The black shirt reflects Benito's point of view perfectly." -- Mussolini's squads of goons were known as the "Blackshirts."

"The hands of his German Leica sweep around their axis reliably" -- a reference to the Axis powers.

Adolf Hitler:
"Adolf's final solution was pure genius" -- You probably know what Hitler's "final solution" was.

Mao Tse-Tung:
"Political power may come from the barrel of a gun" -- from a well known Mao saying.

The "long march" was what his troops engaged in during their successful revolution.

Manuel Noriega:
Noriega actually did help both Escobar and Castro, and was said to have homosexually sodomized his prisoners during torture.

Idi Amin:
"One does not earn that kind of hardware by cannibalizing others' heroism." -- Amin was widely thought to have eaten some of his enemies.

Muammar Khaddafi:
"Woe to the man who does not let that locker be!" -- a reference to Lockerbie, Scotland, where Libyan terrorists, on Khaddafi's orders, took down a passenger jet.

If you spotted all the references, you get an A in History.

Sicario

Watched Sicario (out on pay-per-view now) two nights ago, and my son and I liked it so much we watched it again last night. It's about an interagency force tasked with disrupting the Mexican drug cartels.

The soundtrack isn't really music, it's more just background noise designed to amplify the intensity of the movie. But it's still one of the greatest soundtracks I've ever heard.

The casting was near perfect. virtually every role was filled by someone who made you think, ah, that person is perfect for that role. The only possible false note was Emily Blunt as the nominal protagonist, a Phoenix FBI agent. But, it always helps to have a beautiful woman onscreen:


Blunt seems to be one of the few women who looks better without makeup (above) than with (shown below, at the Cannes premiere for the film):


I have no idea whether US law enforcement does the types of things they're shown doing; but it all seems plausible. And it certainly captured the destruction wrought by the cartels in Juarez.

As my son pointed out afterward, "This isn't exactly a let's-throw-open-the-borders movie." (He also said the military characters seemed realistic.)

Definitely worth watching.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Sean Penn's visit to El Chapo is reflective of his Leftism


Sean Penn and Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman: the two macho hombres finally meet. (Guzman is reportedly responsible for the deaths of over ten thousand people. Penn beat up Madonna once, and has also roughed up a paparazzi.)

There's been a lot of ink spilled in the past two days over Sean Penn's interview of the fugitive el Chapo. An excerpt from the New York Post article about Penn's visit:

Hollywood blowhard Sean Penn secretly met, interviewed, and posed for grip-and-smirk selfies with murderous druglord Joaquin Guzman Loera — even as the world’s most-wanted fugitive continued to elude authorities in the months after running out of a Mexican prison….to gain access to the kingpin’s secret jungle hideout, Penn agreed that Guzman would have the final edit of the resulting story….[which] shows the killer kingpin — described variously as “serene,” and “a simple man in a simple place,” and “a businessman first” — in an almost worshipful light.

In breathless, first-person prose, Penn marvels over El Chapo’s humble, hardscrabble childhood spent harvesting in the drug fields of Sinaloa state.

Scant mention is made of the river of blood in El Chapo’s wake, and none at all of his alleged assassinations of Mexican officials and police. Guzman is credited with responsibility for tens of thousands of deaths of rivals, informants and officials in Mexico and the US, his biggest market.

“While I was surfing the waves of Malibu at age 9, he was already working in the marijuana and poppy fields of the remote mountains of Sinaloa….Today he runs the biggest international drug cartel the world has ever known, exceeding even that of Pablo Escobar,” Penn says.


If you read the Rolling Stone article itself, you'll see that Penn goes heavy on the moral equivalency:

...are we, the American public, not indeed complicit in what we demonize? We are the consumers, and as such, we are complicit in every murder, and in every corruption of an institution's ability to protect the quality of life for citizens of Mexico and the United States that comes as a result of our insatiable appetite for illicit narcotics.

As much as anything, it's a question of relative morality. What of the tens of thousands of sick and suffering chemically addicted Americans, barbarically imprisoned for the crime of their illness? Locked down in facilities where unspeakable acts of dehumanization and violence are inescapable, and murder a looming threat. Are we saying that what's systemic in our culture, and out of our direct hands and view, shares no moral equivalency to those abominations that may rival narco assassinations in Juarez? Or, is that a distinction for the passive self-righteous?


Okay, it's true that American consumers bear partial blame for the drug trade. But taking an illegal drug and murdering thousands of people to expand your illegal empire are hardly comparable. The US doesn't put people in jail for being "sick," but for possession of illegal drugs. And the "unspeakable acts of…violence" are almost always perpetrated by other inmates -- not by the "American public." These are not "a question of relative morality."

Penn has shown similar reverence for both Hugo Chavez and the Castro brothers in the past, managing to completely ignore all of the less admirable parts of their reigns. Both Chavez and the Castros threw political opponents in jail, squashed free elections, aided and abetted drug dealers, and enriched themselves at public expense. They were, in other words, unsavory dictators.

But Penn manages to overlook all of these faults because of their nominal leftism. And that is essentially what the Left is all about these days: political correctness, i.e., ignoring the obvious.

I understand the appeal of an outlaw who thumbs his nose at the law, accumulates over a billion dollars, and lives like royalty. I even wrote about it here and here, though I never tried to justify El Chapo's crimes.

The real giveaway to Penn's attitudes is his self-importance, which has only been exacerbated in recent years by his steroid use. ('Roid ego seems as real as 'roid rage.) Meeting mano a mano with El Chapo under top secret conditions seems to make Penn feel that he's burnishing his badass credentials. (He's not quite that badass, though: that fawning portrait ensured he would stay in El Chapo's good graces.)

Note the picture above: the actor is trying to look scruffy and tough. Meanwhile El Chapo, as befits an actual tough guy, makes no attempt to look tough, merely clean and presentable.

Willful blindness and political posturing infused with personal narcissism point in one direction: to the left. 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Bill Clinton as campaign fodder

When Hillary recently accused Trump of being sexist for some of his comments, including his offhand remark that she had gotten "schlonged" in the 2008 Presidential primary, the issue then came up of whether she should be held accountable for any of her husband's misbehavior.

The answer is pretty obviously, of course not -- which is why the media phrased it that way. You could say she shouldn't have stay married to a known abuser and probable rapist. But marriages endure and dissolve for all sorts of mysterious reasons that sometimes even the spouses themselves don't fully understand. And, really, it's unfair to criticize anyone for staying married.

But one thing Hillary is definitely responsible for is her own actions when it came to those women. Especially in light of her statement in September: "Today I want to send a message to every survivor of sexual assault. Don't let anyone silence your voice. You have the right to be heard. You have the right to be believed and we're with you.

Clinton also stated the need for "increased prevention effort" to discourage sexual predators.

Those were not exactly her reactions to her hubby's various "bimbo eruptions," as they were called by Bill Clinton's handlers.

When Gennifer Flowers claimed to have had an affair with Bill Clinton in 1992, Hillary disparaged her as "trailer trash."

When Juanita Broaddrick said that Bill Clinton had raped her, Hillary implicitly threatened her and told her to keep quiet.

And Hillary famously dismissed Monica Lewinsky as a "narcissistic loony tune."

(Not a bad description of herself.)

So, no, Hillary shouldn't be held responsible for her husband's actions. Only her own.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Moderate testosterone and trust


While looking at pictures of Barack Obama for the previous post, it occurred to me how much he has benefitted by not being an overly masculine guy. Because he came across nonthreatening, he was a lot more palatable to the white electorate. He had a big smile, could speak the King's English, and was the type of black man whites are generally comfortable with.

In the immortal words of Harry Reid, Obama had Presidential potential because he was a "light-skinned black with no negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one."

Or, as Joe Biden said in 2007 about Obama, "I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy."

Key to both of those impressions was that Obama wasn't physically intimidating. He didn't look in any way like a cartoon style bully. And so people were at ease with him, and thus more inclined to trust him.

Another guy who must have benefitted from that effect is Martin Shkreli. If you hadn't known anything about him, but were introduced to him a few years ago --


-- you'd probably have been positively predisposed toward him, simply because he's not in any way a threatening physical presence. And if you were told that he was a hedge fund manager, you'd likely have thought, "Ah, boy genius!" 

But a lack of male hormones doesn't necessarily equal honesty, or decency. In fact, there's no correlation at all. Shkreli, as we now know, is merely a con man. 

And, frankly, so is the other guy.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Obama's tears


Yesterday Samuel Nock asked me (in the comments section after The vagueness of the Left) what I made of Obama's tears at his news conference announcing his new gun control measures: were they genuine or some cynical ploy?

I answered by saying, basically, that I wasn't sure.

But I've thought about it a little more since, and have come to the conclusion that Obama's tears were neither, and both.

Let me explain. I don't think Obama was crying with spontaneous sadness about the students who died in Roseburg, Oregon, or in Newtown, Connecticut, or at Virginia Tech, or at Columbine (yes, he reached that far back). He has mentioned these mass killings before without breaking down; and if he hadn't cried about them right after they happened, why, after the passage of time, would they affect him this way now? (Shedding tears about, say, the Nepalese earthquake victims might make sense right after the event; but if you didn't know any of the victims personally, would it make sense to start crying about them years later?)

Obama has tried hard not to let any of these mass killings/crises go to waste in recent years. If it's a white killing blacks, as with Dylan Roof in Charleston, he uses the killings as an example of what a horribly racist society we live in. If it's a black killing whites, as in Roseburg, Oregon, he uses it as an example of the destruction caused by those horrible Republicans who won't pass stricter gun control laws. But the point is, Obama has never cried in the past while making such political hay.

At the same time, I also don't think his tears were some cynical ploy, a la Bill Clinton's wiping away of imaginary crocodile tears.

No Drama Obama has never been one to turn on the waterworks in order to appear "caring." And he has certainly never shed any public tears over the more than 300 children he himself has killed -- as "collateral damage" -- through his drone attacks. (That number, by the way, is far more than the combined total of all the mass killings he referenced in his speech on gun control.)

Even when at the funeral of someone you'd think he might actually grieve for -- Nelson Mandela -- Obama spent his time in the gallery taking smiling selfies with the Danish Prime Minister: 


Here's another picture of Obama trying to contain his grief at Mandela's funeral service:


I suggested yesterday that Obama was probably exhausted, or disheartened about some private, personal matter, and the tears just happened to emerge at this opportune moment, and somehow got conflated with sadness for the dead children.

Yesterday afternoon, the picture became a little clearer. News came out that the House of Representatives passed, for the first time, a bill which would repeal Obamacare in its entirety. Obama is certain to veto the bill, but nonetheless, the fact that the bill has now passed both the House and Senate is of huge symbolic significance, and highlights the fact that many consider Obamacare a complete failure. 

Obamacare is, as has been pointed out by many others, the signature achievement of Obama's Presidency. It's the bill he spent the most political capital to get passed, the one most closely associated with him. Obama has been mostly in recusal mode when it comes to foreign policy, and race relations have, not by coincidence, only deteriorated on his watch. But he's always had Obamacare as his legacy-to-be. 

Obama would obviously have been well aware that Congress was about to vote to repeal his signature bill, and he was undoubtedly feeling put upon and depressed about that. Maybe he'd even lost sleep over it, and was exhausted. He undoubtedly felt as if he was being picked on by that mean, bullying Congress.

It was with that emotional backdrop that Obama delivered his speech about gun control. He was feeling weary and dispirited to begin with, so the tears were closer to the surface. When they actually came, the President, of course, ascribed them to his feelings for all those dead children. But if you've witnessed Obama's previous emotional nonreactions to dead children, and are familiar with his narcissism, it was hard not to come to the conclusion that his tears were in fact more closely connected to the impending vote to repeal Obamacare. 

Tears are a funny thing. Sometimes they come at the most inopportune moments, precisely because they're not supposed to. I always thought this was the case with John Boehner, whose frequent crying must have been extremely embarrassing for him. If crying in public is your biggest fear, then you are much more likely to do it. 

Obama's tears came at an opportune moment. The media, of course, put the best possible spin on them: that they were evidence of how much Obama cared about the children. But if you believe that, you also have to believe that John Boehner was nicer, more caring, and more kindhearted than your average politician. The media certainly never put that spin on Boehner, and I don't believe he was, either. 

But I also don't believe it about Obama, who has never cried before in public about any of those dead children, not right after they died, and not even when meeting with their parents in the immediate aftermath. 

His tears on Monday were more closely connected to Obamacare's brush with death. That, after all, has his name on it.  

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Angela

It's rare you see a country's leader go through the kind of 180 degree shift in image that Angela Merkel seems to have undergone.

A year ago, when she was dealing with the Greek debt crisis, she appeared to be a flinty-eyed realist who saw right through Greece's attempts to worm out of responsibility for years of financial profligacy. She was a hard bargainer who insisted until the end that Greece's government put in place a program of austerity -- or else.

Now she looks like a patsy. It's almost as if in the intervening year, someone kidnapped her and brainwashed her, stuffing her head with unrealistic liberal ideals. Now, after the New Year's Eve wilding party by her new guests, she looks like a woman who's just been molested: glassy-eyed, in shock, and unsure about what just happened.

(Not unlike one of those women who were just attacked in Cologne.)

Unfortunately for Angela, it's the latter image that's going to stick.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

The vagueness of the Left

One of the wonderful things about being a liberal is that so many of the concepts you believe in are so nebulous that you can throw them around with abandon, confident that you cannot be proven wrong. The really wonderful thing is, nobody ever asks you to define your terms.

You can complain about "the system" to your heart's content, and nobody will ask you to define exactly what you mean by that. Nobody particularly wants to hear your disjointed, rambling, personal definition of "the system," so when you express a desire to fight it, your statement will go unchallenged.

Likewise, claim you're against "social injustice" and nobody will really question you. Oh, they'll be pretty sure you're not referring to our revolving door criminal justice system, or the lopsided nature of interracial violence. Whenever you use that amorphous phrase, most people will assume you're referring, vaguely, to the uneven social distribution of success. But nobody will ever ask you to provide a precise definition.

"White privilege" is a nebulous and mostly fictitious concept which conveniently explains away all differences in accomplishment between the races. (The Left must have wanted another catch-all term beside "racism.") When someone does try to use statistics to prove the concept, as Nicholas Kristof tried to in November 2014, its flimsy nature is exposed. But again, nobody will ever ask exactly you mean by "white privilege," since nobody wants you to continue your harangue. So, use the phrase as often as you like.

The Granddaddy of all hazy concepts, of course, is "racism," that all-encompassing term used to explain so many of society's ills. Nobody ever dares ask exactly what you mean by this, as they'll be too busy scrambling to prove that they themselves are not guilty of this Original Sin.

"Institutional racism" conveniently explains away all differences that can't be shown to be due to any actual racism. Not as many people of color in the physics department? Must be "institutional racism." Luckily, people have been conditioned by now to know that they must not question such a term. Throw it around with impunity.

"Sexism," racism's spunky little sister, is a hazy concept encompasses so many different things that it, too, is practically indefinable. Does women's liberation mean that feminists want women to be combat soldiers and be at risk of shrapnel shredding their flesh? Or do they want to ban the cracking of off-color jokes in the presence of delicate females? Do they want opportunities for women firefighters who can theoretically hoist someone over their powerful shoulders and carry him to safety? Or do they insist that any consenting woman who has sex was raped if she had one drink? Do they want the right to walk around bare-chested, just like men? Or do they want to criminalize leering at women? That's the utility of imprecise terms: they can refer to anything you want it to.

The "war on women" is an offshoot of sexism. This undeclared war seems to exist only in the overheated imaginations of liberals who see only evil in their political opponents. (It's just a pity that all warfare can't be conducted so bloodlessly.) But it's such a vague, inchoate war that even the battlefields remain shrouded in mist. (When examined closely, it actually appears to be more of a war on Republicans, as in, the best defense is a good offense.)

"Homophobia." I wrote about how misleading this word is here. (A phobia is when you have an unreasoning fear of something, not a mild revulsion for it.) But, of course, by classifying this revulsion as a "phobia," you are implying that those who feel it are somehow mentally ill. If you can define any opposition to your program as stemming from insanity, you're one step ahead.

"Diversity." The wonderful thing about this concept is that it is so, um, diverse: who can argue with such an amorphous notion? But are American students' high school experiences really all that diverse? And once in college, do people of different races really sit around and, in a spirit of friendship and mutual understanding, share their backgrounds and stories with receptive audiences of other races? Or do they just take their courses, play sports, drink, and look for sex the way most college students do?

"Cultural appropriation." Sometimes, just using eight and thirteen letter words will do the trick: you'll sound as if you're talking about something substantial. So what if the concept is a one way street? It sounds good, and that's what counts. (Anyway, aren't all liberal memes pretty much one-sided?)

"Raising awareness." Certainly, increased knowledge about our various problems can't be bad. And very few people are rude enough (like this blogger) to ask if the heightened awareness is actually doing any good. That would be a little like inquiring of someone who had participated in a 10k Race for the Cure, "Well? Did you cure it?"

After looking closely at the way these issues are phrased in such all-encompassing and sometimes misleadingly worded ways, one can't help but come to the conclusion that that is by design.

Having such unclear, hazy, ill-defined concepts comes straight from Obfuscation 101. Just remember, there is only one reason to ever obfuscate: because the plain, unvarnished truth will not pass muster. 

College kids

A friend, Dave Moriarty, sent The Ten Most Ridiculous College Protests of 2015 to me yesterday. 

I hadn't even heard of some of those causes.

But it occurred to me, a big part of the problem is the way the media takes them seriously. Young people have always felt the need to do crazy stuff to blow off steam. Once it was panty raids and seeing how many students could fit inside a Volkswagen Beetle. 

A little later it was protesting the Viet Nam War, then, streaking. 

Now it's all the silly stuff described in the article linked above (plus a lot of racial tension which the author carefully sidestepped). 

But really, some of this should be written off to hormones and youthful stupidity. As in, you know, kids will be kids.

Not all of it, though. Some of the more recent protests -- not the ones listed above -- have taken on a more sinister hue, setting students off against each other on the basis of race. 

Friday, January 1, 2016

Different personalities

In the previous post I mentioned how Austin Shifflett was unrecognizable after he lost all that weight. It appears to go deeper than that: he looks as if he has a different personality in each of the shots:


But what if the three photos actually were of three different people? What would each be like?

The guy in the center looks like a Bubba, a friendly, somewhat slobbish type who'll wrap his arm around you in a friendly gesture (he won't feel awkward about it, but you will). He likes to drink beer and watch football. He actually played football his freshman year, but decided not to go out his sophomore year because he didn't like having to do the wind sprints. He's relaxed, outgoing, and would probably like both the fellow in the left and the one on the right.

The guy on the left looks like the type who'd run for Class President. He's a future businessman, an aggressive go-getter who'll give you a hearty handshake and an insincere smile. He likes to brag about his conquests to his buddies. He has nothing but contempt for the "lardass" and "faggot" (his words) in the other pictures.

The guy on the right is a bit of a fashionista (who else would wear a scarf and semi-matching hat indoors?) He despises the guy on the left, but doesn't say anything because he's afraid of him. He likes the fellow in the center, who seems to accept him for who he is, and has even encouraged him to try to lose weight so he can wear more stylish clothes.

Okay, I've just indulged in a lot of obvious cliches. And I'm obviously not suggesting that there's any truth to these stereotypes, at least as far as Austin is concerned. But I don't think I'd be alone in imputing those personality types to each physique.

What's amazing, of course, is that he looks as if he has a different personality in each picture, even though it can't possibly be true.

But it would be interesting to find out if Austin Shifflett's personality has actually changed at all since his physical transformation. You occasionally hear about the "pretty girl personality" (expects the world on a silver platter, thinks she's more interesting than she is). You never hear of the "handsome boy personality." But it's probably just as real.