President Obama correctly chastised Sony for not releasing ‘The Interview’, its comedy critical of the North Korean tyranny and its idiot dictator. And the FBI has now formally identified North Korea as the hacker that initially embarrassed Sony by releasing its internal memos to the world. And now it has again embarrassed the electronics and entertainment giant by scaring it into withdrawing the film. This is not a good precedent for the world’s liberal societies.
The press is full of chastisements of Hollywood for being gutless, and recommendations abound for alternative of releasing the movie. One of the more attractive ones for me is for Sony to release it on the internet and really make it available worldwide. Another is to also make a Korean subtitle version of it and put it on reproducible DVDs. But whatever is done, its release should go forward.
Perhaps our own Congress can even step in and pass a law that limits lawsuits against theaters, distributors, networks, and media producers who may be subsequently attacked by terrorists launched by countries or organizations opposing the ideas expressed in productions they don’t like. No country or cabal should be able to stop the dissemination of ideas in our society by just threatening to whump us.
This also brings up the entire notion of online publishing, and who gets to control what is made available on the internet. My own strong feeling is that the US should henceforth maintain all the modes of control that it still has on every aspect of internet operations. The last thing we need is to have some international commission (with questionable membership and agenda) start dictating internet protocols, access, and content.
On a related note, while the President was all for Hollywood maintaining its first amendment rights, a reader (here) pointed out that the same administration was not so supportive of the producer of the anti-Islamic video that Team Obama initially claimed caused the Benghazi attack that killed four Americans. That filmmaker was jailed.
And segueing from that to another reader who points out (here) how the Common Core curriculum standards incorporate Islamic concepts and syntax, but remain anathema to anything relating to Judeo-Christian practices.
[This is the addended transcript of my regular KVMR commentary broadcast on 3 December 2014.]
I intended this to be a wrap-up on the Ferguson riots, but sadly there is no wrap possible, because Ferguson is just the latest chapter in the marathon effort to fundamentally transform America. So all we can do is pause here and take stock of recent happenings with the Michael Brown shooting by Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri on 9 August last.
Michael Brown was a product of our broken black culture. He was an underachiever with an attitude, a racist, and on that day, a criminal. He met his end by having the audacity to walk down the center of a trafficked street and challenge a policeman on patrol responding to a 911 about a convenience store robbery in the neighborhood. It turned out the robbery was committed by Brown, a fact then not known by Wilson. The criminal grand jury was presented all the evidence about the shooting, which it considered for over 12 weeks before concluding that Officer Wilson shot Brown in the line of duty, and the case required no indictment for a subsequent trial.
RR has reported on the many studies that show people of conservative bent vastly outspend liberals in contributions to private charities (and that, dollar for dollar, private charities are enormously more effective in helping the poor and disadvantaged than are government programs). The intuitive reasons for that are easy to grasp, at least for many of us, and they are backed by an analysis of the data.
The 2013 report - ‘Who Really Gives? Partisanship and Charitable Giving in the United States’ - from MIT by Michele F. Margolis and Michael W. Sances attempts to recover from this embarrassment by arguing that if you control for certain factors, then we can see both the Left and Right in a more equitable light, even though the Right still gives more than the Left. (H/T to a reader working on a related report for the link to this one.)
For those recently arrived on Earth, the proximal reason for the disparate giving is that liberals, who are mostly secular humanists, look to an all-encompassing and providing government to take care of the needy, while conservatives are taught and practice that it is an individual responsibility to fill that gap. The interesting corollary is that most of the tax dollars for such ‘government giving’ then also comes from the conservatives as implied by Margolis and Sances. (BTW, to see where in the country who gives how much, here is an interesting website by Chronicle of Philanthropy.)
In any event, the Margolis and Sances report turns out to be a secular humanist bamboozle of the kind in which the Left is a demonstrated and practiced expert (cf. most recently MIT’s Jonathan Gruber’s apologetics for lying about the construct and operation of Obamacare to the “stupid American voters”). They use a lot of statistical mumbo-jumbo to paper over their revealing introductory admission that the results come about by having ‘controlled’ for disparities in income/wealth and religiosity between the two ideological cohorts.
Well yes, in the aggregate conservatives have life philosophies that to a greater degree promote individual initiatives and risk taking enterprises that garner more income and wealth, all which then allows them to give a larger dollar amount to the charities of their choice. And yes, conservatives are more religious, therefore they do a lot of their giving through faith-based organizations like churches and synagogues. And, of course, they do not trust wealth redistribution through government or lackey NGOs, so they don’t direct their monies to the needy through those channels – that’s what makes them conservatives in the first place.
But what the non-technical reader (let alone the nation’s innumerates) don’t catch in such reports is the statistical bamboozle of ‘factoring out’ or ‘controlling for’ to achieve support for your desired conclusion. These processes have the panache of rigorous science that the layman seldom questions. You should know that it is always possible to factor out the main causal variables in a dataset so that you can essentially wind up with a blob of scattered noise equally distributed between contending cohorts that then appears to give any level of desired parity – in the present case that there’s not much difference in the giving behaviors of conservatives and liberals.
The conclusion is so much bovine scat as any tally of sourced monies going to the poor and needy through (secular or religious) private charities demonstrates. And this conclusion is even visible in the contorted presentation by Margolis and Sances. ‘Touche Monsieur le Puuzy Kat!’ (Remember the famous musketeer Tom & Jerry cartoon?)
Random thoughts on a Saturday morning. The beautiful fall foliage on our trees is now on the back side of the power curve, but still saying ‘look at me’ as the last leaves drift to the ground. At our house I make a big breakfast on Saturday morning. It is always a panful of vegetables sautéed in spices and olive oil, and then my piece de resistance Eggs Rebane. The latter is a multi-layered frittata that has all kinds of goodies in it of different kinds of meats, cheeses, spices, layered squashes in season, etc. During the summers starting about the end of June, Jo Ann’s ‘farm’ starts pumping out veggies of marvelous varieties that overwhelm our table and larder, and become a steady supply to friends who are similarly addicted. Sunday was the last harvest of late tomatoes and squashes. Now the farm will be readied for the long winter with just a few ‘perennials’ like chard and parsley left to weather the weather.
This morning was double duty for me since it was also Bread Day at our house. When Jo Ann decides we need more bread, she takes out my two jars of sourdough starter from the bottom drawer of the frig, and sets them on the counter. That tells me that the next day I make bread, a process that begins with recharging the starters in the evening and letting them bubble up overnight. First thing in the morning I start my process of making two to four loaves of the requested breads, usually of two types. I am now into my 17th year of being the family’s baker of literally all the bread we have eaten. I use only my own natural leaveners and make the whole thing by hand, not even the KitchenAid mixer gets to play. Our neighbor has also caught the baking bug, and we often ‘talk bread’. Some day I threaten to make an outdoor baking oven that I can pump up to 700+F for that awesome oven spring.
We eat breakfast with our print copies of The Union, the WSJ, and the everpresent iPad for online news, commentary, and answers to reference questions served up by the very responsive Siri, Ms Google, and WolframAlpha. This morning’s WSJ front page had the nearby picture of Germany’s Angela rubbing noses with a Maori dancer during her New Zealand visit. I thought it wonderful how a European head-of-state (OK, Chancellor) can easily pay her respects to a foreign culture through such ceremonies and observing other local customs while on their travels.
Our presidents and diplomats have also shown such deference in similar situations – I always note how our guys and gals awkwardly keep both feet flat on the floor when sitting with Arabs and other Muslim notables. Showing the soles of your shoes communicates disrespect in the world of Islam.
But these thoughts always remind me how asymmetrical are such international displays of cultural sensitivity. On our part, we don’t ask or even expect our foreign guests to reciprocate our American customs. From less developed countries their diplomats almost always arrive wearing some trappings of national or ethnic dress. And when we feed, entertain, lace their palms with cash, or sit with them, we continue to defer to their sensitivities. There is no reciprocal ‘When in Rome …’ behaviors required of or extended by our visitors (save wearing the odd cowboy hat at a ranch BBQ). It is as if we were ashamed of our own cultural customs both overseas and at home. For some reason we have to be the ever-sensitive ones while they bear no such burdens. I don’t much cotton to such kow-towing because it brings us no profit here or around the world.
You are spared more because my bread dinger-ding just went off.
[This is the addended transcript of my regular KVMR commentary broadcast on 3 October 2014.]
The upcoming vote on Measure S, the medical marijuana initiative, is raising many questions about enforcement as they affect private property rights. Measure S, if passed, would replace Nevada County’s existing Ordinance 2349 that prescribes how medical marijuana or MMJ may be grown and consumed in the county. To be clear, proponents of S are made up almost entirely of the county’s Democrat voting, leftwing or progressive contingent, and the anti-S people are primarily conservative and vote Republican.
As the election nears we hear of all kinds of charges and counter charges claiming misrepresentation of this or that provision of S or the existing 2349. In this brief commentary I’d like to focus on the county’s MMJ enforcement provisions as they affect property rights. First, we must understand that according to county counsel Alison Barratt-Green, both S and the existing 2349 are subject to identical enforcement provisions. In other words, enforcement policy and actions by the county will be affected by the outcome of the election only to the extent that their specific provisions prescribing MMJ grows and related nuisance factors differ.
Currently 2349 provides a number of civil protections to the cultivator and county that are not present in Measure S. These include the service of a legal notice, the right to appeal, and the right to a hearing. In turn the county is protected in so far as the county’s abatement costs may be recovered from the property owner/tenant if the violation is not brought into compliance by the MMJ cultivator.
Overall, according to County Counsel, the sheriff is guided by the 4th Amendment, and the further interpretation that to the extent that a violation can be seen from a location of public access – like a street or the sidewalk – then an ordinance inspection officer may enter the property with the same permission as is extended to the US Postal Service, PG&E or the UPS driver. If thereupon an ordinance violation is confirmed, then the inspection officer/sheriff is not precluded from making a full compliance check. Depending on the subsequent findings, the inspector will then leave because the medical marijuana grow is ‘in compliance’, or he informs the resident that the grow is ‘not in compliance’, and must be remediated to bring it into compliance. Such remediation may involve abatement or removing the marijuana plants. In every such case of non-compliance, the property owner/tenant is issued a Notice to Abate Unlawful Marijuana Cultivation.
As we await this week’s vote for Scotland’s independence, my thoughts again turn to culture and its role in shaping a people and structuring a society. Reviewing some of these notions with you at this time might even pique some discussion. The basic idea here is that what a society can/will or cannot/will not do is constrained and guided by its culture. Today Scotland is not alone in the desire for its culturally cohesive population to have a country where Scots can work and live according to their own laws and traditions, and according to their own values and mores, speaking their own language. This is an ancient desire shared by all people around the world who have grown up in strong culture-defined communities. Such life has given rise to powerful sentiments expressed in art and literature, and sentiments that have also led to revolutions, wars, and migrations.
Today, perhaps more than ever before, we see such movements of people wanting to relearn their heritage and band together with those like-minded to see if they too could improve their lot by mutually embracing their roots and working together in closer harmony. The Scots are not alone. Since the Treaty of Versailles (end of WW1), and again since the Cold War ended, we have seen dozens of culturally cohesive peoples gather together to work toward their ultimate mono-cultural independence. Here the Scots are joined by the Catalans, Basques, Flemish, Kurds, Shias, Sunnis, …, and cohorts of USSR transplanted Russian speakers living in Russia’s ‘near abroad’.
From the opposite perspective, one of the lures of collectivism (especially in its Marxist-Leninist form) was the gathering of all peoples into one peaceful and productive global society to create an undifferentiated amalgam of humanity. This would be achieved by the shedding of multitudes of discriminating and chafing cultures, and in their place adopting one common social contract that would be dictated by the over-arching state and imposed equally on all. But again it has turned out that this is not how the realworld works.
It is obvious to all but the ideologically blindered that the form and function of multi-culturalism as promoted by progressives is grossly in error, and a stifling of all societies that have attempted to implement it. Penning in different cultures on the same land mass, and then keeping them ‘peacefully’ in line by the government gun has satisfied no one. Instead such autocratic cum tyrannical governance has exacerbated the cultural and ethnic divisions in these forcefully amalgamated populations. As Chancellor Angela Merkel said, after years of Germany’s heroic attempts to assimilate its recently imported ethnicities from Eastern Europe, the Mideast, and Africa, “Multi-kulti does not work.”
[This is the addended transcript of my regular KVMR commentary broadcast on 30 August 2014.]
It is now twelve years since WSJ Asia bureau chief Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and beheaded by Muslim terrorists. Since then countless thousands of Muslims and non-Muslims have been murdered by Muslims in the name of their ‘religion of peace’. A couple of weeks ago we were reminded by journalist James Foley’s gruesome execution that nothing has changed. He was killed by the new emergent Islamic State or ISIS that seeks to re-establish an Islamic caliphate in the Mideast, and eventually raise its flag over the White House.
When seeking solutions to society's problems, always hold government guilty until proven innocent.
Modern progressivism is the most cynically named socio-political ideology since the world of Orwell’s 1984. Evidence abounds that there is literally nothing progressive for organizing human society in the (niggardly revealed) tenets and expanding practice of progressivism – it gives rise to arguably the most regressive politics in the so-called free world. Thomas Sowell, celebrated social theorist, economist, political philosopher, and senior fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institute, argues convincingly that “growing evidence suggests that we are living in a post-thinking era.”
He joins many learned observers of the human condition to conclude that in America we are wallowing in a rising mire of dumbth in which main street is no longer capable of thinking through even the most basic concepts that ultimately impact their lives. This deficit is the visible preamble to not being able to reason about simple decisions from what they read, see, and experience. Progressives throughout the land are uniformly blind to that state of affairs and continue promoting programs and public policies guaranteed to remove the last vestiges of independent and critical thought from the public forum. (In this context consider the online outpourings of local progressives.)
Dr Sowell gives examples to underline his assertion in ‘If people would just think things through …’. When we focus on the particulars presented it is simply mind boggling that an advanced society like ours can be induced to regress as rapidly as we have witnessed in the past decades of impeccably regulated politically correct thought, speech, and conduct. None of this should be a surprise for RR readers; we review it here because the speed of our downward spiral is picking up.
To underline this trail of tears for those who still can and do think, I draw your attention again to the Common Core education standard much covered and discussed in these pages. UC Berkeley professor emerita and honored mathematician Dr Marina Ratner recently examined Common Core’s math standards and the curricula that it has inspired across the land. She presents a summary of her analysis and professional conclusions in ‘Making Math Education Even Worse’.
There she begins by joining many of us in amazement that we have ignored the successful instruction methodologies and texts used in advanced countries that regularly beat America's youth in international math ratings, and instead have spent almost $16B in devising a new standard that is “several years behind old standards, especially in the higher grades”, and specifically “vastly inferior to the old California standards in rigor, depth and the scope of topics.”
Common Core is so flawed that even one of its authors, Jason Zimba, admits “that the new standards wouldn’t prepare students for colleges to which ‘most parents aspire’ to send their children.” To this the good professor gives sufficient examples and details to make your eyes roll and heads spin (assuming you are not among the sad cohort described by Thomas Sowell).
Dr Ratner concludes that “American students are already struggling against the competition. The Common Core won’t help them succeed”, but instead “will move the US even closer to the bottom in international ranking.”
My point here is that this may well be the progressives’ long sought coup de grace to take America down from its position of world greatness and leadership. As pointed out here and by noted national thinkers over the last years, there is a definite agenda being followed by collectivists to bring the US to heel in the community of nations. Dinesh D’souza takes his readers through an expanded trail of evidence for this assertion in his recent America: Imagine a World without her. Saddened I continue to observe how willingly and without whimper we travel this path to oblivion from the pages of post-tipping point history now being written. And yes, it is all due to the spread of the stifling and diseased memes of progressive thought already metastisized in America. We should think about it while we still can.
Immigration has again become a national wedge issue in this midterm election year. It doesn’t look like any new immigration laws will come out of Congress before this November, but that doesn’t mean that bamboozling voters over alternative immigration policies is not effective for garnering their votes. Recent posts (here) and related comment streams have discussed topics that relate to immigration, and interest in the topic and its related factors – e.g. governance, national security, economics – remains high. To continue the conversations, I offer a series of loosely related points that represent my take on the matter. In this view, the national debate on immigration has been badly and purposefully misguided, taking full advantage of our national dumbth. There is no indication that clarity will strike any time soon to provide a basis for the much sought after ‘immigration reform’.
1. The public understands and appreciates surprisingly little about emigration and immigration as terms that define the movement of people. Emigration denotes the departure from or exiting a jurisdiction (e.g. a country). Immigration denotes the intent to become a permanent legal resident of a welcoming jurisdiction. (This longstanding ignorance is evident in the names of trails and landmarks in America’s west. Trails and roads coming into California historically were used overwhelmingly by immigrants. And routes from St Louis and St Joseph were overwhelmingly established for and used by emigrants departing the eastern part of the country.)
2. Emigration may or not be a two-way bargain between a jurisdiction and the departing émigré – i.e. the émigré may escape a jurisdiction instead of applying for an exit visa. But immigration requires a mutual agreement between the immigrant and the conditionally welcoming jurisdiction. Depending on the jurisdiction, the contract is usually explicit, but may even be implicit (see below). The minimal part of every immigration ‘contract’ is that the immigrant comes to the welcoming country to make a life within its established culture while adopting its existing ways. Were the new arrivals from another culture intent on changing the nature of their new home, they would be called colonists rather than immigrants.