Friday, September 19, 2014

Defense in the age of "Hope and Change"



Notice that you almost never hear the president talk about the armed forces. The need for the U.S. military is not part of the magical thinking that is central to Obamaism.

Clinton's appeal for a new "women's movement"

Once again, proof that the Clintons--duplicitous and tirelessly self-serving though they may be--are nobody's fools:



No, this isn't about defeating the white male who may or may not head the GOP ticket in 2016.

This is about winning the nomination within her own party.

The Democratic Party is the party of identity politics, the party that seeks to divide us into mutually antagonistic groups of hyphenated Americans.

Recall that in 2008, Clinton's big chance was dashed by an African-American candidate, and that contest took on an explicitly racial context. Hillary was derided by the false priest of the Democratic Party, Michael Phleger, as "an entitled white woman".

Having been burned once by the Hobbesian party of us against them, Clinton is attempting to get ahead of the curve this time: She is saying, "2016 will be about feminist identity politics, even if another African-American runs."  

Do we need more uninformed voters?

A CNN op-ed piece proposes:


This piece is hampered by faulty reasoning:


"The trouble is that the main reason most people cite for barring 16- and 17-year-olds from voting looks like an equally good reason to stop most American adults from voting, too. The key argument against letting high school juniors vote is simple: Their choice would affect all of us. 
After all, a voter chooses for everyone, not just him or herself. Many worry that most 16-year-olds lack the wisdom or knowledge to cast smart votes, so we don't let them vote because we want to protect ourselves from their decisions."

Wrong. The main reason is that adulthood brings privileges, as well as responsibilities. 

The argument for allowing 18-year-olds to vote (prior to 1971, the voting age was 21) was that 18 is the minimum age of military service.  This argument is sound enough, as the responsibilities of adulthood should be matched to the privileges of adulthood. 

But 16-year-olds are minors. If a 16-year-old commits a crime, it's a juvenile offense. While one can make a case that the line of the 18th birthday is a somewhat arbitrary standard, it is a standard that cuts both ways (in the direction of responsibility as well as privilege.) 

Now, as for uninformed adults voting, I agree that this is a problem. I think that no one should be allowed to vote unless they can pass a test covering basic American history and civics. (This would be more or less the same as the test that new citizens are required to pass.) 

But that's a separate topic for another day. In the meantime, it is difficult to make the case that American democracy would be improved by extending the vote to even more uninformed voters.

A simple way to end Islamophobia

Dean Obeidallah is lecturing us about "Islamophobia" again:



"As a Muslim American, I didn't think anything could shock me when it comes to anti-Muslim bigotry.
  
But I have to give it up for Oklahoma state Rep. John Bennett, a Republican, who has set a record for the vilest anti-Muslim comments yet. What makes Bennett's comments so alarming is that they weren't directed against Islamic terrorists such as ISIS, but rather against Muslim Americans, people like my family, friends and me. 
 A few weeks ago, Bennett posted on Facebook using his account "State Representative John Bennett" that Christians should be "wary" of Muslim Americans: "The Quran clearly states that non-Muslims should be killed. Arab is the ethnicity, not Muslim or Islam. Be wary of the individuals who claim to be 'Muslim American.' Be especially wary if you are Christian."
I'm willing to admit that Rep. Bennett should have clarified his remarks a bit more carefully. But he wasn't exactly misquoting the Quran--as anyone who is familiar with the book can affirm.

For all those who are concerned about "Islamophobia", there is one simple way to fight it: 

Convince your fellow Muslims, throughout the world, to end the terrorism, the horrific treatment of women, the massacres of Christians and other religious minorities. 

In other words, work to eliminate those aspects of Muslim behavior that scare the hell out of just about everyone else, just about everywhere in the world. Then people won't be afraid of your religion anymore.

See--wasn't that simple?

"No" in Scotland

This was the sensible decision:



Yes, I enjoyed the movie Braveheart too; and as an American with Hibernian roots, I can understand the emotional pull of Celtic nationalism in a wider sense.

But there's nostalgia, and there's the real world. While independence would have pleased a certain crowd in Scotland (and among the global Scottish diaspora), just about everyone who was responsible for running a business or meeting a payroll in Scotland was opposed--and with good reason.

Furthermore, the independence drive was mostly fueled by all the wrong motives: An independent Scotland would have been more socialist, and more left-leaning, as evidenced by the region's traditional allegiance to the Labour Party--which is almost as statist as the Democratic Party in America.

Hail Britannia--and remember: We can still enjoy Braveheart.


Japanese lesson: "When cheated out of money"

The most basic Japanese word for “cheat is 騙すdamasu. But in this entry we’re going to examine a fancier one:

せしめる

This word is used specifically to refer to cheating people out of money:

彼女に5万せしめられた。
Kanojo ni go-man-en seshimerareta.


Hopefully this won’t happen to you in Japan; but now you have a word for it—just in case.

Japanese lesson: A reliance on working mothers

子どもいる米世帯の4割、女性の稼ぎが頼り 過去最高水準

米調査機関ピューリサーチセンターは2日までに、米国で子どもがいる10世帯のうち4世帯で女性が唯一もしくは主要な稼ぎ手となっている現状が判明したとの調査結果を発表した。この比率は過去最高。

Explanation: 

稼ぐ(かせぐ)


The key word of this passage is kasegu. This word means to work/labor. It refers specifically to economic activity, i.e., to working in order to earn money. A person who is a breadwinner is a kasegite: 稼ぎ手

Original Japanese source: CNN. co.jp

Racial demagoguery and redistribution

Politically, race has become part of the Democratic Party’s power grab. Writing shortly after the 2012 election that swept Barack Obama into office for a second time, Democratic National Committee Chairwoman and longtime party insider Donna Brazile wrote:

“As has become obvious in this campaign, the racial and generational divide is driven by the economic divide…In simple terms, the older white population has accumulated more of the wealth.”

Given the Democratic Party’s history of wealth redistribution, and the president’s explicit statement in 1998 “I actually believe in redistribution,” it is easy to see how racial politics and the Left’s long-term strategy of top-down economic control are interconnected. 

As long as our national obsession with race is kept alive, the Left—in the form of the Democratic Party—benefits. The race obsession is a key element in the Democrats’ stranglehold on solid majorities of the Hispanic and black electorate. (In 2012, 75% of Hispanic voters voted for Obama. African-American support of the President was almost unanimous: Obama won about 95% of the black electorate.)

It is also easy to see how the race obsession will become more of a driving factor behind a redistributive government system. America now spends 15% of its GDP on welfare. African-Americans comprise 12.5% of the population, but 37.2% of the ADFC beneficiaries (Aid for Dependent Children). Hispanics comprise about 30% of the ADFC roles, and about 16% of the total population.

Is this the result of racism? More than 70% of African-American children are born out of wedlock, compared to 41% of Hispanic children, and 21.9% of white children. No one—not even those on the Left—dispute the link between out-of-wedlock births and poverty rates. However, there is no political capital to be gained by telling African-Americans and Hispanics to stop having children out of wedlock. There is political capital to be gained by perpetuating the narrative that America is an irredeemably racist nation that actively discriminates against people of color.

If the Democratic majority continues, the consequences for America will be further distribution—followed by inevitable decline. 

The Democratic Party can stay in power by playing the race card and redistributing wealth, but only for so long. Sooner or later the Left will run out of “an older white population” that it can tax. This has been the problem with redistributive schemes since time immemorial. As Margaret Thatcher once said, “The problem with socialism is that sooner or later you run out of other people's money.”

And if present trends continue, the Democrats’ redistributive policies may have even less time than leftwing Democratic party pundits like Brazile might imagine. 

We live in an age in which both people and capital are highly mobile. America’s national language is the global language of business and professional circles. Many of the “old white people” of Brazile’s narrative will have options beyond America’s borders—if the situation here become sufficiently dire.

Would wealthy white Americans—tired of being demonized by the Left—ever decide to leave the United States in significant numbers? History provides many examples of leftwing dictatorships provoking an exodus of the best and brightest. 

Even before the Holocaust, hundreds of thousands of Jews left Hitler’s Germany, many destined for the United States. (And it must be remembered that Hitler was no fan of free-market capitalism. The official name of the Nazi party was the National Socialist German Worker’s Party.) Throughout the rest of the twentieth century, leftist governments in China, Russia, and Vietnam drove millions more out of their own countries.

Moreover, a leftwing, redistributive government need not be a Maoist or Stalinesque nightmare in order to drive its citizens out. Since the United Kingdom embraced Euro-socialism following World War II, British professionals and entrepreneurs have flocked to America’s shores. History shows that people will flee first for the their lives, and then for their money.

But these are all foreign examples. Are there any such precedents in the United States? 

Consider the case of California. The Golden State has not gone for a Republican in a national election since 1988, when George H.W. Bush defeated Michael Dukakis. Long a bastion of leftwing political sentiments and policies, California’s welfare and social benefits programs are among the most generous in the nation. 

Welfare recipients in California receive a monthly welfare check that is almost 70 percent higher than the national average, providing few incentives for those on the dole to seek meaningful employment. Nor are California’s mostly leftwing politicians eager to prompt these loyal Democratic voters to do otherwise. (Only 22 percent of California welfare recipients meet the minimal work hours required by federal law.)

This has shown up in a variety of numbers that presage a diminished future for the once Golden State. In 1996, California had only 21 percent of the nations welfare cases. In 2010 that number soared to 32 percent, even though California had just 12 percent of the overall population.

California also leads the nation in top-down diversity policy. The state’s proximity to Mexico and liberal immigration policies make it a magnet for both legal and illegal immigration. California recently became the first U.S. state in which whites no longer formed a numerical majority. Some 43% of California residents speak a language other than English in their homes—and a large percentage of these speak Spanish. The population of California is 38.1% Hispanic, and a sizeable percentage of these are recent arrivals from Mexico. Immigrants from developing countries use social welfare services at disproportionately high rates; and in California—as elsewhere—this burden falls on the taxpayers.

As a result, both deficits and taxes in the Golden State are climbing. In some California counties, sales tax rates reached 9% in 2013.

Tiger Woods—whose net worth exceeds $600 million—left California in the mid-1990s largely because of  high tax rates in the state. Woods had not necessarily made a secret of this in years past; but the famous golfer’s dissatisfaction with California’s fiscal situation received fresh media attention in 2013, after fellow professional golfer Phil Mickelson noted that new state income tax surcharges on wealthy Californians would result in as much as 63 percent of his annual income going to state, local, and federal taxes.

But Mickelson and Woods are not alone. In recent decades, California has a suffered an exodus of businesses, entrepreneurs and investors. No one is leaving California because of the weather. Those who leave cite the state’s excessive government regulations and high tax rates. (Note: Corporations, such as Toyota most recently, are also leaving California, but that's another essay.)

It is also ironic to note that Woods is African-American. As I've stated elsewhere, political correctness eventually restricts the freedoms of everyone. The proponents of political correctness—like the racial tension mongers of the Democratic Party—are motivated by power, not any real concern for the plight of minorities.

Nevertheless, an economic and political system that integrates redistribution with the politics of racial envy can bring about a variety of untended consequences. In the case of California, this has taken the form not only of millionaire and employer flight—but white flight as well. 

Between 2000 and 2008, the overall white population of California declined by a half a million. In the same time period, the white percentage of the state declined from 47% to 40%. The dramatic change in this percentage was brought about a huge Hispanic influx from Mexico, lower white birth rates—and white migration to nearby states like Nevada, Texas and Arizona.

No one disputes the phenomenon of white flight; but they do disagree about its causes. Is “white flight” a matter of racism? Many on the Left would have you believe that. While researching material for this essay, I strayed across discussions on leftwing websites like Democratic Underground and the Daily Kos. Leftists on these sites typed triumphant messages about how racist white Californians simply couldn’t cope with so much diversity in the Golden State.

These claims simply don’t stand up to logic. California has had a sizeable Hispanic population since its beginnings. The state was originally part of Mexico, after all. Moreover, white Californians are mostly fleeing to states that also have large numbers of Hispanics. No one who is seriously disturbed by the mere presence of Mexican-Americans would move to Arizona or Texas. 

And what about Tiger Woods? Did the half-black, half-Thai professional golfer have an innate aversion to diversity as well? Did Woods leave California so he could spend more time around white people? (By the way, Florida is "very" diverse demographically; but it has far lower tax rates and less government than California.)

The reasons behind white flight have nothing to do with race—and everything to do with money and living conditions. Over the recent decades, California’s free-spending diversity ideologues in state government have turned the state into a welfare refuge for Mexico’s surplus population—and left California taxpayers with the bill. White Californians have no difficulty with legitimate diversity; they do have a problem with wealth redistribution.

Which brings us back to Donna Brazile and the politics of race and redistribution as they might play out on a national scale. As Brazile noted in her op-ed piece about "rich old white people", the U.S. is approaching a radical demographic shift. At present, almost half of Americans under the age of 18 are minorities, and 80% of retirees are white. By 2030, the majority of young Americans will be nonwhite, and by 2042, nonwhites will form a solid majority. These numbers will be driven by lower white birthrates, higher minority birthrates—and immigration, both legal and illegal.

This means that in the coming years, whites will comprise a shrinking, yet simultaneously more prosperous portion of the American population. This, too, has historical precedents: 

During the latter half of the 19th century, America’s older Anglo-Saxon base was numerically overshadowed by influxes of immigrants from Ireland, Germany, and Italy. For several generations, wealth disparities remained between the more established population and the newcomers. 

There were also isolated instances of inter-ethnic violence. During the mid-1800s, an entire political movement called the Know Nothings formed and briefly flourished around anti-immigrant sentiments. In 1855, violence flared between Protestant mobs and mostly Catholic Irish and German immigrants in Louisville, Kentucky. Remembered today as Bloody Monday, the violence took between twenty-five and one hundred lives. A Catholic bishop was among the casualties.

Eventually, though, Irish, German, and Italian immigrants blended into the American fabric without widespread social or economic disruptions. The Know Nothings and Bloody Monday were exceptions to what was an otherwise peaceful transformation of America’s demographic makeup.


But in this century, the demographic transition will be accompanied by racial politics that attempt to justify economic confiscation, and a left-of-center political system that enables it. If present political trends continue, it is not too much of a stretch to imagine large numbers of prosperous Americans leaving a country where racially based redistributionist policies have replaced meritocracy and individual rights. 

Yes, we can expect white Americans to comprise a large share of any such future exodus—but a substantial number of successful minorities will flee as well.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Gaelic and wishful thinking in Scotland



An early broadcast of the results will be spoken first in Gaelic, prior to an English translation.

Gaelic is apparently a major force in Scotland's Western Isles, where it's spoken by 40% of the population (27,400) at home. That is not an insignificant number, as it pertains to the Western Isles.

However, per the article hyperlinked above, a recent census revealed that only 1 percent of Scotland's overall population of 5.3 million spoke "some Gaelic".

Which makes one wonder about the real prospects for a Gaelic language revival in the event of a yes vote on today's referendum.

Obama: Boots on the ground..in Africa

President Obama has now pledged to put American boots on the ground...not in the fight against ISIS, but in the fight against Ebola.



Per the president, the US Defense Department will now "take the lead" in the anti-Ebola effort.

Africa's Ebola epidemic is undeniably a humanitarian disaster. But the purpose of the Defense Department is to protect the US from foreign threats--the human kind that shoot rifles, detonate bombs, and hijack airplanes. 

We certainly have plenty of such threats now--ISIS, al-Qaeda, Iran, Russia, and possibly China at some point in the future. 

Meanwhile, Obama has gutted the US defense budget since taking office.

Ebola is not a direct threat to the US population at this time (nor is it likely to be in the foreseeable future), as its spread is dependent on the poor sanitary conditions and lax healthcare procedures that exist in developing countries. 

Should the US provide assistance? Certainly. Is it appropriate to charge the Defense Department with this task? Doubtful.

One wonders if the president is not attempting to distract the American (and world) public from his poor handling of defense-related issues that involve actual human enemies

The political risks of making Ebola the enemy are far smaller than attempting to craft a credible plan to annihilate ISIS, an effective Russian sanctions policy, or a strategy for removing the Iranian nuclear menace. 

Rape, Islam, and political correctness

The young men in this story are described as members of "Asian gangs". But it isn't Vietnamese and Chinese immigrants who are doing raping British women.

The perpetrators are Pakistani Muslims, but British authorities' fears of "Islamophobia" trumped their desire to protect British women and girls from rape at the hands of these animals.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Punishment, personal responsibility, and political correctness

We've had several recent posts that involve the intersecting issues of crime, misbehavior, punishment, and personal responsibility.

On one hand, Jordan Sargent seems to believe that muggers should be let off scot-free if they're African-American and victimize what he calls "white ladies".

And then there is Mel Robbins, who believes that the swatting of an unruly six-year-old boy constitutes a high crime against humanity.

In the comment thread of the latter post, regular commenter Brian L. weighed in as follows:


"I second corporal punishment. In fact, I think we should be more like Singapore and take up caning. It seems to work pretty darn well over there. People there even think twice before spitting on the street."
To clarify: They don't cane folks Singapore for spitting on the street, but it can happen if you commit a more serious infraction against your fellow citizens.

Which brings us to the case of Michael P. Fay, a then 18-year-old American whom the Singapore authorities caned in 1994 following his participation in some flagrant acts of vandalism. 

Some of the younger readers might not recall this case. (It was twenty years ago, after all.) In the weeks leading up Fay's punishment, representatives of the American nattering class frequently appeared on television, lamenting the barbarity of it all. (Few of them mentioned the fact that Fay had vandalized other people's cars.) Was President Clinton going to intervene??!!!! Were we going to send in the US Navy?

The American government did not meaningfully intervene, and the punishment was carried out as ordered. Fay survived his punishment without any permanent issues. (I recall a news account from the time, which reported that Fay even shook hands with the official who caned him afterward.) Fay is alive today and would now be in early middle age. 

Most Americans (myself included) would not be comfortable with the draconian approach to personal conduct that exists in Singapore. I don't want to give government officials the authority to cane people. (In our present political climate, Brendan Eich would have been publicly caned for his opposition to same-sex marriage.)

What I would like to see is a return to a concept of personal responsibility that doesn't argue for a mugger to be excused because of his race. (Again, read my earlier post about Jordan Sargent's racial nonsense.) And while we acknowledge that society has obligations toward children, we might also remember that children have obligations toward others, as well. Or, to put it more succinctly: Childhood status is not a free pass to disrupt, victimize, or abuse others. 

Only a few decades ago, most Americans possessed the common sense to make such distinctions. Political correctness, however, has degraded our understanding of right and wrong. We used to judge by objective standards--or something like objective standards. Now everything must be considered within the context of class warfare and identity politics.

Scottish independence and book prices

If Scotland becomes independent, readers may suffer. A vote for an independent Scotland is a vote for higher book prices, say booksellers.





Marriage has always been complicated

Even for the Emperor of the French:


Ghost Bride: the movie

No, I'm not talking about the bizarre, cheesy stop-motion animation film by Tim Burton (that was Corpse Bride

Ghost Bride is a new feature film that combines Chinese superstition with a cross-cultural cast and the direction of David Blyth.

It looks interesting (for those who enjoy horror films, of course). 

Sex, money, and the lines of victimization

Is every woman who sells sex still a victim, when Ivy League students are doing it in exchange for credit cards (fifteen of them, no less--watch the video), and large sums of cash?

Oh, and they're also making a documentary about their experiences:



No, I wouldn't want my daughter doing this, but I wouldn't want my daughter working as a volunteer for the Barack Obama reelection campaign, either. (And I would disown her if she campaigned for Elizabeth Warren.)

There are a lot of things that people probably shouldn't do. But there is this little thing called freewill.

The relevant question here is: Is this any of my business? Or the government's, for that matter?

I weigh in on the side of: NO

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Scottish independence and Gaelic

On the subject of Scottish independence: A yes vote might increase the sales of Gaelic-English dictionaries, if nothing else. 

Gaelic will have 'central place' in an independent Scotland


Memo to young teachers: Students aren't prospective dates

Another high school teacher has been charged with having sex with an underage male student.




As is often the case, this involves a young teacher, and the age difference between the student and the teacher is less than ten years.

Furthermore, I'm sure that the 15-year-old boy didn't have to be coerced.

But that isn't the point: There are all sorts of reasons why an absolute prohibition on teacher-student contact of this kind must be enforced.

Moreover, Kalee Warnick is an attractive 22-year-old woman. I'm sure she would have had no trouble garnering attention from men over the age of 18 who weren't her students. 

Teacher-student liaisons have occurred since time immemorial; and in the past, most of them involved male teachers and female students.

In recent years, however, there has been a marked increase in inappropriate relationships between twentysomething female teachers and high school boys. 

There are a number of possible explanations. The sexual precociousness of today's youth, and the inability of (some) twentysomethings to make the psychological transition into adulthood are chief among them.

In any case, if you're a teacher (whether male or female), don't date your students. You will eventually get caught, and the situation will be a lose-lose proposition for everyone involved.

Scottish independence: vote NO



Scotland and England have been joined under the banner of the United Kingdom since 1707. (During the American Revolution, Scottish troops were among the forces that the King and Parliament sent to quell the American rebellion, in fact.) 

That may change within a matter of days (although it would take longer to work out the details, of course.)



I can think of one hundred and one reasons for dissolving the corrupt, internationalist, and dictatorial entity known as the European Union.

But the United Kingdom--not so much. The United Kingdom has long been the source of some of the best ideas in the world: British law, free trade, and limited government (from which the American form of government is directly descended), the spread of British civilization, and the worldwide dominance of the English language.

There will always be England--but the world will be a poorer place if the United Kingdom ceases to exist.

Too bad that we Americans can't vote in the Scottish referendum. This American--who loves what British civilization stands for--would definitely be voting NO.

Spanking and common sense

Common sense, people. 

Just as the right to bear arms does not include giving a fully automatic weapon to a nine-year-old girl, a swat on the butt is not the same as beating a child

But don't confuse the nattering class with commonsense distinctions:


"The only person you can legally hit in the United States is a child.
 
 
Hit your partner, and you'll be arrested for domestic violence. Hit another adult, and you'll be arrested for assault. But hit a 4-year-old, and you can call yourself a "loving father." That's completely screwed up. 
It should be against the law for a fully grown adult to slap, hit, spank, punch, switch, whoop, whip, paddle, kick or belt a defenseless child in the name of discipline. But it is legal, and new research in the Journal of Family Psychology suggests that the average 4-year-old is hit 936 times a year.
 
 
If study after study conclusively proves that hitting your kids doesn't work as a disciplinary method, and worse, it has long-term damaging impact to their psychology and makes your kids more aggressive, why do we as a society allow it?" 
- Mel Robbins, writing on CNN.com
We "allow it" because parents are supposed to have common sense (unlike Adrian Peterson, who would have been a bad parent in any event). 

The abuse of one unfit parent should not be projected onto every parent who swats their 4-year-old. (And Robbins' oblique comparison of swatting to sexual abuse is both insulting to parents and patently absurd.)

Here is what I have observed: When I was growing up, we didn't have busybodies like Ms. Robbins, telling us that a swat on a four-year-old's butt was major human rights violation.

And it was usually possible then to eat in a restaurant without being disturbed by other people's children. 

I'm amazed how all those little Tiffanys and Alexanders in the 21st-century suburb are utterly unimpressed by mommy and daddy's threats of a "time out". These kids correspondingly feel entitled to wail their lungs out. 

It goes without saying that a parent can go too far, and that swatting should not be the sole measure of discipline, nor the first one, in most cases. 

But I can speak from experience here. When I was a kid, I knew that if I crossed too far over the line, my butt would be stinging before long.

And you know what? If you happened to eat in the same restaurant as my parents and me circa 1972, I probably didn't disrupt your dinner with my antics.

Why? Because society was a bit less enlightened by sociologists back then, and there was a general expectation that parents would discipline their children--within commonsense limits, of course.