Monday, January 12, 2015

Cruising the Web

I know it's all symbolic, but symbolism still matters. Just think about the subject of the Selma movie that came out this week. And since when has this administration eschewed purely symbolic actions? Couldn't Obama or Biden have gone to march in Paris Sunday? Look at the photographs of world leaders with linked arms and there is no American there. Eric Holder was in Paris, but he didn't show up. The tone deafness of the Obama administration is rather startling.

Jake Tapper expresses the views of many when he writes that he was "personally ashamed" that the administration didn't send someone higher ranking than our ambassador to the rally yesterday.
I certainly understand the security concerns when it comes to sending President Barack Obama, though I can't imagine they're necessarily any greater than sending the lineup of other world leaders, especially in aggregate.

But I find it hard to believe that collectively President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and Attorney General Eric Holder -- who was actually in France that day for a conference on counterterrorism -- just had no time in their schedules on Sunday. Holder had time to do the Sunday shows via satellite but not to show the world that he stood with the people of France?

There was higher-level Obama administration representation on this season's episodes of "The Good Wife" on CBS.
Tapper also points out the missed opportunity from John Boehner and Mitch McConnell in not going as well as other potential GOP candidates for the presidency. And wonders if Bill and Hillary Clinton are kicking themselves for not getting themselves over to Paris to march.

So the White House is going to have a Summit on Countering Violent Extremism. I guess Islamic jihadist violence is the Extremism that Dare Not Speak Its Name. Victor Davis Hanson has some fun imagining the agenda of the meeting.

Once the Muslims have driven the Jews out of France, will they go after Christians next?

Carl Cannon expresses what the West should do to demonstrate true support for free speech.
One way those in the West can make this clear to our enemies is to put our own house in order. That means several things, starting with the mainstream U.S. media dispensing with the fiction that they didn’t run the Danish cartoons—and won’t run the Charlie Hebdo cartoons even now—because they are loath to offend their readers. They offend readers all the time, and happily. They aren’t running them because they’re afraid to do so, a quite rational fear. In addition, it’s long past time to dismantle the witless university speech codes championed by feminists, gay right advocates, identity-politics mavens—and even the Obama administration.

It also means, and this is counterintuitive given the anti-Semitism embedded in modern Islamic society, dismantling Europe’s “hate speech” laws. These statutes were enacted with Nazi Holocaust-denial in mind, a noble goal. But they undermine the principle that free speech should be inviolate and that all other freedoms flow out of it. Certainly, the enemies of free thinking know this.

In his book, “Tyranny of Silence,” Danish editor Flemming Rose quotes a Saudi cleric and TV preacher Muhammad Al-Munajid—a man who has said Mickey Mouse should be killed—who revealed candidly what radical Muslim clerics and their violent followers really fear. They fear that people think about their own faith instead of being told what they must believe.

“The problem is that they want to open a debate on whether Islam is true or not, and on whether Judaism and Christianity are false or not,” Al-Munajid said on Al-Jazeera. “In other words, they want to open up everything for debate. That’s it. It begins with freedom of thought, it continues with freedom of speech, and it ends up with freedom of belief.”
Quite so.

Yes, indeedy. Ladies should stop getting their panties in a knot over "manspreading."
Or we could deal with it the old-fashioned way. When some clod has his leg splayed in front of the seat you want to sit in, you say, “Excuse me,” and sit down. Give his leg a little nudge if he doesn’t respond. That usually works. In most cases, the underlying problem isn’t hostility but cluelessness.

We need to stop monsterizing men. We also need to stop encouraging women to believe they are as helpless as kittens with the vapours.

Women are not weaker vessels. That is the fundamental premise of feminism, as I recall. We have discarded that belief as discriminatory and patriarchal. We’ve tried to raise our daughters to be strong and independent, confident and secure – resilient, resourceful, tough-minded, able to deal with what the world throws at them. That is the road to equality.

So where did we go wrong? Instead of lionesses, we’ve turned turned our brave and fearless daughters into neurotic, quivering piles of jelly.

How did that happen? How did we create an entire class of highly privileged, mostly affluent young women who feel unsafe on campus, microaggressed at every turn, utterly unable to cope with the garden-variety misdemeanours of boys and men, who have been behaving badly since time began despite our many efforts (most quite successful) to civilize them?

Well, you know the answer. The universities are hothouses for a grievance culture that sees racism, sexism and misogyny under every rug. Many of the faculty derive their livelihoods from it. These institutions have constructed increasingly elaborate codes of conduct and large administrative apparatuses to detect and uproot these evils, however subtle and invisible they may be to ordinary people.
When did the modern female go from "I am woman; hear me roar" to being too hesitant to ask a guy to make room on the subway?

And now Boko Haram controls its own country in Nigeria while killing thousands and using young girls as human bombs. Clearly, hashtag diplomacy did not work.

Valerie Jarrett - the Éminence Grise of the Obama White House, just no one there is as competent as Cardinal Richelieu.

Mollie Hemingway ridicules the NYT's attempt to explain why they're not publishing the Charlie HEbdo pictures of Mohammed because of their policy of not publishing gratuitously offensive images.
This is not true. It’s absolutely not true that the New York Times cares one whit about the religious (or otherwise) sentiments of peaceful families in Brooklyn. If they did, they wouldn’t run so many depictions of anti-semitic caricatures in stories about anti-semitic caricatures. Or of blasphemous anti-Christian art in stories about blasphemous anti-Christian art. Or of gross ethnic and racial stereotypes in stories about gross ethnic and racial stereotypes. When the New York Times wrote about Catholic outrage over an art exhibit that featured a “black Madonna with a clump of elephant dung on breast & cutouts of genitalia,” that story featured a color photo of the art in question. Heck, it still does. Right there on the web site.

I’ll go further. If the New York Times’ deep respect for the religious sentiments of its readers affected its news judgment, it would know what Easter is. And it would have condemned Bill Keller, not promoted him and published his bizarre bigoted rants over the years.

It’s one thing for [NYT executive editor] Dean Baquet to micturate on us. But it’s entirely another for him to tell us it’s raining. (See original for links)
This isn't about respect, bur fear. And that's understandable. But don't lie to us about your motives. And, as Hemingway writes, none of this should have surprised us.
As horrific as the Charlie Hebdo bloodbath is, no journalist working today should be surprised by it. No journalist is surprised by it. We have the burgeoning ISIS caliphate beheading journalists who have done nothing to offend Islam so why would anyone be surprised that mockers of Islam might also be killed? Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was murdered nearly 13 years ago. Salman Rushdie’s Japanese translator was killed, following the order of the Ayatollah Khomeini, in 1991. That same year the Italian translator survived a brutal stabbing. Two years later the Norwegian publisher survived being shot three times in an assassination attempt. Actually, I’ll stop listing all the brave journalists and publishers who have lost their lives or had their lives threatened by Islamist extremists as it would take far too long. But the point is, none of this is surprising. And Islam alone among the world’s major religions includes this large minority devoted to or supportive of such acts of terror.

Which is why cartoons like the ones above are cowardice masquerading as courage. The Methodists might hate your stupid cartoon, but there is no movement to assassinate you for it. Mormons might light up your switchboard when you make your 28th joke about something they hold sacred, but they’re not going to firebomb your offices. And even if the progressive or conservative activist group du jour threatens an advertiser boycott if you don’t fire your cartoonist, that’s not really the equivalent of marching into your newsroom, calling out staff by name and shooting them in the head. It’s not “extremists” you’re worried about and it’s not courageous to claim so. It’s cowardly.

After every one of these gruesome attacks, journalists quickly push out stories that express concern about a violent backlash against Muslims, or that praise candlelight vigils or other gestures of solidarity, or that provide nuanced explanations — of how to understand the attackers, of why people shouldn’t jump to conclusions about the meaning of such violent attacks, of how there’s no larger narrative in play....

There’s an old joke about how a journalist counts to three: “one, two, trend.” But no matter how many acts of crazed terror we see, from a newspaper in Paris to a cafe in Sydney to a school in Peshawar to parliament buildings in Ottowa, to the underground in London, to the street killing of soldier Lee Rigby in London, to ethnic cleansing in Nigeria to a mall in Nairobi to a caliphate in Iraq and Syria, for some reason we are not supposed to see a trend or have anything coalesce into a narrative.

That’s not journalism. That’s a media ignoring the reality of how scared they are. That’s a media completely unable to address how the worldviews they’ve helped peddle might not be up to the task of confronting the problems we face.

Ah, will term limits come to the House Democrats?
A growing faction of House Democrats wants to bring back term limits for the crew of party leaders who sit atop the chamber’s most influential committees.

The effort follows a series of bruising fights among Democrats over seniority, a split that pits younger lawmakers who feel shut out from decision-making versus powerful voting blocs like the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. The latter groups have long favored seniority as the surest way for their members to rise in the ranks, while term-limit supporters lament that Republicans are outflanking Democrats in promoting young leaders to carry their message.
The House Republicans have term limits. What are the Democratic old guard afraid of? Losing their clout while keeping the younger generation down? Or having their members look at changing more than just the committee chairs?

Meanwhile, more Democrats are worried about their party's leftward movement. I'm sure we'll be seeing lots of coverage of the civil wars within the Democratic Party. Maybe, we'll see a new incarnation of the Democratic Leadership Council. Remember that that was how Bill Clinton rose to prominence. It's basically defunct now, its demise personified in the defeat of Joe Lieberman from the Democratic Party. But don't look for Hillary Clinton to be the voice of such New Democrats as she is now trying to co-opt the Elizabeth Warren wing of the party.

The WSJ explains the emptiness of President Obama's proposal to provide two years of free tuition at community colleges.
White House officials are whispering to reporters that all of this will cost federal taxpayers $60 billion over 10 years, and another $20 billion by the states, if you choose to believe them. The White House predicted in 2010 that expanding its income-based repayment (i.e., student loan forgiveness) plans would cost $1.7 billion that year and $7.4 billion over the following decade. By 2014 the Administration’s estimate had ballooned to $7.6 billion for 2015 alone.
Meanwhile, the new entitlement is unnecessary since the federal government already offers more in Pell grants to low-income students than the average cost of tuition.
But by nationalizing the program, the feds are likely to make community colleges more expensive and bureaucratic. States would have an incentive to cut their own direct funding for community colleges and redirect spending to student grants. For every dollar states spend on student aid, they would reel in three more from Washington. Community colleges would then raise tuition to pocket more federal cash.

The new entitlement is best understood as an extension of the Administration’s ideological project to add higher education to the list of entitlements that keep the federal government in charge of American life from cradle to grave. First Mr. Obama nationalized the student-loan market, adding $1 trillion in taxpayer liabilities. Then he made forgiving those loans easier. This year he plans to propose a new rating system for colleges that the feds will eventually use to determine which schools receive federal aid.

Meantime, the Administration has spent years harassing for-profit colleges by trying to impose a “gainful employment” rule that ties federal aid to student debt and incomes. The rule could shut down nearly 1,400 for-profit programs educating 840,000 students if it survives another legal challenge, but the Administration won’t apply the rule to community colleges or nonprofit schools.

Yet according to the National Center for Education Statistics, the three-year college completion rate at community colleges is 21%, compared to 62% at two-year nonprofits and 63% at for-profits. The reason for the disparity is that many community colleges do a poor job of meeting the needs of non-traditional students who tend to be older and work while attending school. Enrollment at for-profit colleges soared over the last decade in part because students and employers could see that many community colleges weren’t providing the skills they require.

And now the Administration is proposing to give inferior community colleges another competitive advantage with this new entitlement that bribes students with “free” tuition. So: Punish private schools, subsidize often inferior public schools, snatch regulatory control from states, and add tens of billions in new taxpayer obligations: The ObamaCollege plan is everything we’ve come to expect from this White House.