Archive for the 'Religion' Category

Victims, yes, but of whom?

Sunday, December 21st, 2014

Check out this depressing piece on the cop assassinations by Tom Maguire, along with the YouTube video it links to. No doubt Uncle Murda feels he is expressing justified outrage. However, the statistics in the video are a version of lying with numbers, as this study from Columbia tediously makes clear. Yes, the subjects of Uncle Murda’s video are victims, but they are the victims of fatherless homes; read the rare and honest exchange between Larry Elder and Kweisi Mfume in this long piece. Such honesty is never heard these days, bad for business for the Sharptons of the world, anathema to the media because they viscerally can’t stand to look at the real problem either. And so a culture of victocracy is enabled, with utterly predictable results when the wingnuts act out. Similarly, if you are taught that one book, over a thousand years old, is not only necessary but sufficient for life, you’re a victim — just not the victim of modernizers and kafirs that you’ve been taught. (Gosh we’ve been at this a long time, but the establishment still is silent or worse.) Sadly, in both the cases of race and religion, there really are a lot of victims in these self-perpetuating tragedies, which will go on and on until the core falsehoods are confronted.

Trifecta, etc.

Saturday, December 20th, 2014

Conrad Black:

a Saudi move on this scale, with the resulting self-inflicted reduction in their income, makes no sense for the marginal impact it will have on American future production and imports; it is a geopolitical move targeted much closer to home.

Al-Badri’s flimflam, for which there is much precedent in the history of OPEC (essentially, the cartel is a perpetual quarrel among thieves pretending to be price-fixing), naturally seeks to disguise the fact that Saudi Arabia is trying to discourage the use of Iranian and Russian oil revenues to prop up the blood-stained and beleaguered Assad regime in Damascus, to finance Iran’s nuclear military program, and to incite the continuing outrages of Hezbollah and Hamas in Lebanon and the Palestinian Territories against Israel. The exotic community of interest that has suddenly arisen between the historically Jew-baiting Saudis and the Jewish state is because the countries in the area fear, with good reason as far as can be discerned, that the UN Security Council members, plus Germany, may be on the verge of acquiescing in Iran’s arrival as a threshold nuclear military power. The oil-price weapon, in the face of the terminal enfeeblement of the US administration, is the last recourse before the Saudis and Turks, whatever their autocues of racist rhetoric, invite Israel to smash the Iranian nuclear program from the air.

It is perfectly indicative of the scramble that ensues when a mighty power like the United States withdraws, fatigued but undefeated, from much of the world, that Saudi Arabia, a joint venture between the nomadic and medieval House of Saud and the Wahhabi establishment that propagates jihadism with Saudi oil revenues, makes common cause with Israel in a way that inadvertently relieves much of the Russian pressure on Ukraine, which was not an objective in Saudi calculations at all. From the Western standpoint, this is a lucky bounce of the political football. But it is Saudi judgment of its self-interest opposite the contending factions in Syria and the hideous prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran that is discommoding the Saudi leaders, not the ineluctable exploitation by the United States of its own oil resources

It’s commonest for people to see ambiguous things through an internal prism that shapes the picture into something to which their internal, unconscious, self-regard can relate. (In the two examples linked here, for example, the first self-relating was to victimhood, and the second self-relating was the desire to be adored by hundreds of millions; in that regard the stories are not at all contradictory.) Anyway, back on planet earth, E&P CEO’s see the oil price plunge as about shale, and some geopolitical pundits see Iran as the prime target. As for us, we’ve always thought that shale, Iran and Russia were all in the mix, and that it must have seemed elegant to the price plungers that launching the only weapon Saudi Arabia has in its arsenal could produce a trifecta.

Bonus fun: we saw the Decatur plant of Caterpillar on CNBC yesterday, and is that a hoot! Reminds us of our favorite TV series, Industry on Parade, writ very very large. A GMW of 1.4 MM lb? Are you kidding? Man, we’d love to visit that place!

Yes, but what’s the timing?

Friday, December 19th, 2014

Spengler hits the nail on the head; can’t say it better, so let him say it. JOM pokes fun at the misplaced hauteur of the bien-pensants. WRM adds to the mix, as does Harvey Mansfield. As for us, we see things coming to a head too, but what about the timing of some new preference cascade? Hard to say, since we were totally surprised when oil went to $147 a barrel, and were just as surprised that it’s now down to $50 or so. Suffice it to say that we will probably be shocked by the particulars of some nasty events that make the “micro-aggression” meme a crumbling thing, but we won’t be surprised if it happens in the next 24 months or so…

Promotion, flagellation — lather, rinse, repeat

Monday, December 15th, 2014

SMH:

How should we feel for the perpetrator so far witnessed and his family? While we do not know his story or his motivation, we know he was once someone just like those people whose lives he has now treated with such disdain. He must have loved ones, too. Forgiving him will be very difficult, and it will take time. Without forgiveness, though, we have to live with destructive hate. The next test is to ensure we see this sad event for what it is – and what it is not. While there were a number of instances on Monday when Sydneysiders and the media jumped to conclusions about the link between this event and other incidents around the city, in most cases people were rightfully reluctant to jump to conclusions about the motivations of the gunman or the extent of his plans. Nonetheless, a temptation lingers in the community to catastrophise about such criminal behaviour; to believe that because we have endured one siege from at least one deranged individual, we are at risk of many more. Rationally, that is highly unlikely. The Martin Place siege may well be an isolated criminal action in a city whose crime rate has fallen for the first time in decades. A very small minority of people feel compelled to commit acts of deplorable violence, whether they be linked to terrorist groups or drugs syndicates

We wondered what was up with the instantaneous worldwide promotion of a criminal event in far away Sydney. The answer of course is that the gaudy coverage is good for ratings, but in our unprecedented Age of Foolishness, you have to be seen as pretending that things are not as obvious as they really are.

Time for a new Great Awakening?

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

Hoya:

Last weekend, my housemate and I were mugged at gunpoint while walking home from Dupont Circle…Washington, D.C., is ranked among the most unequal cities in the country, with the wealthiest 5 percent earning an estimated 54 times more than the poorest 20 percent. According to the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute, just under 20 percent of D.C. residents live below the poverty line.

What has been most startling to me, even more so than the incident itself, have been the reactions I’ve gotten. I kept hearing “thugs,” “criminals” and “bad people.” While I understand why one might jump to that conclusion, I don’t think this is fair.

Not once did I consider our attackers to be “bad people.” I trust that they weren’t trying to hurt me. In fact, if they knew me, I bet they’d think I was okay. They wanted my stuff, not me. While I don’t know what exactly they needed the money for, I do know that I’ve never once had to think about going out on a Saturday night to mug people. I had never before seen a gun, let alone known where to get one. The fact that these two kids, who appeared younger than I, have even had to entertain these questions suggests their universes are light years away from mine…

Who am I to stand from my perch of privilege, surrounded by million-dollar homes and paying for a $60,000 education, to condemn these young men as “thugs?” It’s precisely this kind of “otherization” that fuels the problem…I’ve never had to decide whether or not to steal from people. We’re all capable of good and bad, but it’s a whole lot easier for me to choose good than it may be for them

Note the condescension of the last sentence; it empowers this egregious display. Roger Simon notes a similar parallelism here. In the America we were born into, the illegitimacy rate was 4%. Now it’s as high as 40-80% among different groups. A society that does not condemn the regular practice of children being born out of wedlock is doomed; it’s as simple as that.

No fathers at home translates into gangs and violence in the male teens, and other dysfunctions in the girls. (Worst part: the people affected may not even know that their views and behavior are aberrant.) As for going backwards to create a better tomorrow — whether such a thing is possible in the Age of Vulgarity and Twitter and PC Insanity is not known at this time.

That’s a nice country you’ve got there

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014

Wretchard et al, with some minor edits:

No one knows if the administration will manage in the next five weeks to strike what many in the White House consider the most important foreign policy deal of all time: an accord with Iran that would forestall its ability to make a nuclear weapon. But the administration has made one significant decision: If agreement is reached, it will do everything in his power to avoid letting Congress vote on it. Sneak it in the back door and declare victory. Nothing warms the cockles of his heart more than “it is so ordered”. But that has been the pattern for the administration. It claimed al-Qaeda decimated, maintained the attack on the Benghazi consulate was caused by a video, swore that the mandates were not taxes, that you could keep your doctor or health plan; it celebrated the fresh wind of an Arab spring that blew through Libya, Egypt and Syria. It claimed the doorman Putin has been put in his place. Which of these is true? But there are many who still believe. Unfortunately they may be surprised one day when all the dreams of grand bargains, resets, pivots, springs and a World Without Nuclear Weapons don’t actually come true. The disappointment may be a bitter one.

That’s a nice country you’ve got there; be a pity if anything happened to it. Also, Roger Kimball is upset for some reason.

Everything old is new again

Monday, November 17th, 2014

So poor Peter Kassig apparently changed his name to Abdul Rahman, which did him no good in remaining capitated. Bizarro World immediately said that “ISIL’s actions represent no faith, least of all the Muslim faith which Abdul Rahman adopted as his own.” Well, what’s in a name? There was another Abdul Rahman a decade ago, and lo and behold, guess who was calling for him to be sent to the great beyond? BTW, even the NYT reported back than that our fine allies in Saudi Arabia did 100 or more cranial liberations a year for many offenses, particularly apostasy. We forget what apostasy means, something about getting a speeding ticket perhaps…

More chaos

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

France’s foreign minister in the WaPo:

Syria’s second-largest city and part of humanity’s ancient heritage, Aleppo is the martyred center of the resistance to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, having been under constant bombardment by his forces since 2012. Now Aleppo is caught between the regime’s “barrel bombs” and Daesh’s cutthroats.

The city is almost entirely encircled, connected to the outside world by a single road to Turkey. The regime is seeking to destroy the resistance through cold and hunger. While 1 million people have left to join the flood of Syrian refugees, some 300,000 Aleppans are holding on, threatened with the same death and destruction that the regime has inflicted on Homs and the suburbs of Damascus.

The dictator prefers to deliver Aleppo to terrorist atrocities, even if that means allowing Daesh to flourish…the terrorist group known in the Arab world as Daesh — we do not use Islamic State, because the group is neither truly Islamic nor a state — is dispatching its murderers to…Aleppo

(Politically correct flourish as usual.) Meanwhile, one report says the oil business for ISIS is good: “ISIS can make over $1 million a day from the trade” on the Turkish-Syrian border.

What’s up (or down) with oil?

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

BI:

advances in hydraulic fracturing have fueled what some call the Great American Shale Boom. Oil and natural gas extracted from shale basins have left the US flush with energy. It’s been a boon for US energy-related jobs and equipment suppliers. But it’s not cheap to tap these so-called unconventional plays. In other words, crashing oil prices will soon make many of these energy sources money-losing projects. Morgan Stanley estimates the average breakeven oil price for these US plays to be about $76 to $77 per barrel. Goldman Sachs puts that number at closer to $75. If the price of oil can’t cover production expenses and these companies are forced to idle their operations, then you could expect spending to drop, jobs to get cut, and delinquencies and defaults to rise. To make matters more complicated, many of these energy companies are financing their operations by borrowing in the junk-bond market

Oil closed at below $79 today. We certainly remember the bad old days when oil was twice that price. It’s hard to believe that the recent plunge in oil prices is an considered attack on US fracking, but these are strange times and the strangest things have become unsurprising.

Truth and Consequences

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

VDH:

Do bothersome facts matter anymore? Not really. This is an age when Americans were assured that the Affordable Care Act lowered our premiums. It…allowed us to keep our doctors and health plans, and lowered the deficit. Those fantasies were both demonstrably untrue and did not matter, given the supposedly noble aims of health care reform. The Islamic State is at times dubbed jayvee, a manageable problem, and a dangerous enemy — or anything the administration wishes it to be, depending on the political climate of any given week.

Some days Americans are told there is no reason to restrict connecting flights from Ebola-ravaged countries. Then, suddenly, entry from those countries is curtailed to five designated U.S. airports. Quarantines are both necessary and not so critical, as the administration weighs public concern versus politically correct worries over isolating a Third World African country. Ebola is so hard to catch that there is no reason to worry about causal exposures to those without clear symptoms. But then why do health authorities still try to hunt down anyone who had even a brief encounter with supposedly asymptomatic carriers?

The deaths of four Americans in Benghazi were caused by a video that sparked a riot, and then apparently not. Various narratives about corruption and incompetence at the VA, IRS, NSA, GSA and Secret Service are raised and then dropped. The larger truth is that these scandals must be quarantined from infecting the president’s progressive agenda…The Tawana Brawley case, the Duke men’s lacrosse team accusations, and the O. J. Simpson verdict were constructed fantasies. No one cared much about the inconvenient facts or the lies that destroyed people’s lives — given that myths were deemed useful facts for achieving larger racial justice.

It no longer really matters much what the grand jury will find in the Michael Brown fatal-shooting case. Whether he had just robbed a store, was high on drugs, was walking down the middle of the road and prompted a violent confrontation with a police officer, or whether the officer was the aggressor in the confrontation, these have become mere competing narratives. The facts pale in comparison with the higher truth that Brown was black and unarmed, while Officer Darren Wilson white and armed. The latter scenario is all that matters.

Language is useful for inventing new realities. “Illegal alien” is a time-tested noun denoting foreign citizens who crossed a national border contrary to law. “Undocumented immigrant” is now used to diminish the bothersome fact that millions have broken and continue to break the law. To play down the dangers of radical Islam, an entire array of circumlocutions — “workplace violence” (in the case of the Fort Hood shooting) “overseas contingency operations” and “man-caused disasters” — were the euphemisms evoked by members of the Obama administration to construct an alternate reality in which radical jihadists are no more dangerous than disgruntled office workers or gale-force winds.

Many of the current campus poster icons are abject myths. Che Guevara, for all his hipster appearance, was no revolutionary hero, but a murderer who enjoyed personally executing his political opponents. Communist leader Angela Davis was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize by the totalitarian Soviet Union.

We keep wondering how much energy it takes to live in this fantasy world where made-up things are real enough as long as they are politically useful. Can it be that these people believe the things they say at the moment they say them, or they just don’t care?

Bonus fun: let’s ban argon! What a world, what a government…

What could possibly go wrong?

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

WSJ:

The administration and Iran, engaged in direct nuclear negotiations and facing a common threat from Islamic State militants, have moved into an effective state of détente over the past year, according to senior U.S. and Arab officials.

The shift could drastically alter the balance of power in the region, and risks alienating key U.S. allies such as Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates who are central to the coalition fighting Islamic State. Sunni Arab leaders view the threat posed by Shiite Iran as equal to or greater than that posed by the Sunni radical group Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

Israel contends the U.S. has weakened the terms of its negotiations with Iran and played down Tehran’s destabilizing role in the region.

Over the past decade, Washington and Tehran have engaged in fierce battles for influence and power in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Afghanistan…But recent months have ushered in a change as the two countries have grown into alignment on a spectrum of causes, chief among them promoting peaceful political transitions in Baghdad and Kabul and pursuing military operations against Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria, according to these officials.

The administration also has markedly softened its confrontational stance toward Iran’s most important nonstate allies, the Palestinian militant group Hamas and the Lebanese militant and political organization, Hezbollah. American diplomats, including Secretary of State John Kerry , negotiated with Hamas leaders through Turkish and Qatari intermediaries during cease-fire talks in July that were aimed at ending the Palestinian group’s rocket attacks on Israel, according to senior U.S. officials. U.S. intelligence agencies have repeatedly tipped off Lebanese law-enforcement bodies close to Hezbollah about threats

Progress in getting close to the Supreme Leader! What could possibly go wrong?

Quoth the raven

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

JG in the Atlantic:

I was talking to a senior administration official about the foreign leader who seems to frustrate the White House and the State Department the most. “The thing about Bibi is, he’s a chickenshit,” this official said, referring to the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, by his nickname.

This comment is representative of the gloves-off manner in which American and Israeli officials now talk about each other behind closed doors, and is yet another sign that relations between the US and Netanyahu governments have moved toward a full-blown crisis. The relationship between these two administrations — dual guarantors of the putatively “unbreakable” bond between the U.S. and Israel — is now the worst it’s ever been, and it stands to get significantly worse after the November midterm elections. By next year, the administration may actually withdraw diplomatic cover for Israel at the United Nations, but even before that, both sides are expecting a showdown over Iran, should an agreement be reached about the future of its nuclear program.

The fault for this breakdown in relations can be assigned in good part to the junior partner in the relationship, Netanyahu, and in particular, to the behavior of his cabinet. Netanyahu has told several people I’ve spoken to in recent days that he has “written off” the administration, and plans to speak directly to Congress and to the American people should an Iran nuclear deal be reached. For their part, administration officials express, in the words of one official, a “red-hot anger” at Netanyahu for pursuing settlement policies on the West Bank, and building policies in Jerusalem, that they believe have fatally undermined Secretary of State John Kerry’s peace process.

Over the years, administration officials have described Netanyahu to me as recalcitrant, myopic, reactionary, obtuse, blustering, pompous, and “Aspergery.” (These are verbatim descriptions; I keep a running list.) But I had not previously heard Netanyahu described as a “chickenshit.” I thought I appreciated the implication of this description, but it turns out I didn’t have a full understanding. From time to time, current and former administration officials have described Netanyahu as a national leader who acts as though he is mayor of Jerusalem, which is to say, a no-vision small-timer who worries mainly about pleasing the hardest core of his political constituency…

“The good thing about Netanyahu is that he’s scared to launch wars,” the administration official said, expanding the definition of what a chickenshit Israeli prime minister looks like. “The bad thing about him is that he won’t do anything to reach an accommodation with the Palestinians or with the Sunni Arab states. The only thing he’s interested in is protecting himself from political defeat. He’s not Rabin, he’s not Sharon, he’s certainly no Begin. He’s got no guts.”

I ran this notion by another senior official who deals with the Israel file regularly. This official agreed that Netanyahu is a “chickenshit” on matters related to the comatose peace process, but added that he’s also a “coward” on the issue of Iran’s nuclear threat. The official said the administration no longer believes that Netanyahu would launch a preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities in order to keep the regime in Tehran from building an atomic arsenal. “It’s too late for him to do anything. Two, three years ago, this was a possibility. But ultimately he couldn’t bring himself to pull the trigger. It was a combination of our pressure and his own unwillingness to do anything dramatic. Now it’s too late.”

Nevermore. And for fun, here’s the ASA’s meeting. Nevermore. HT: PL

Smile, you’re on Candid Camera

Monday, October 27th, 2014

Well, Sharyl Attkisson, whom we mentioned the other day, certainly is not smiling for Candid Camera, though Candid Camera might be less fitting a description than some other instruments. In case you’re still in a good mood, we bring you Ralph Peters and Robert Lopez. What a world!

More of the same

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

The latest from Canada shows another non-religious act of killing. Of course the same has been going on in England, but you know that it’s not Terrorism — most probably standard neighborhood beheadings of unknown origin. And of course what went on in Iraq lo those many years ago was similar, whether the beheading or baking of children. And we must note also the workplace violence nature of Hasan’s crimes; hey, it was validated by the Guardian. That’s what we’ve got from the media and establishment of today. (Indeed!)

Paradigms that exist apart from reality break, often badly. Discontinuities emerging in these breaks are often radical. We go back to some thoughts from Thomas Kuhn on this. The US of Utopian sensibilities will probably suffer reversals that we can’t contemplate when the big reversals come. Not a pleasant prospect.

Horrible miscellany

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

Roger Simon, Thomas Sowell, VDH of course, today’s Ebola news; and finally, did you know ISIS publishes a magazine?

First ISIS, now this

Monday, September 29th, 2014

HuffPo:

The intruder who climbed a fence made it farther inside the White House than the Secret Service has publicly acknowledged, a Republican congressman said Monday. The disclosures came on the eve of a congressional oversight hearing with the director of the embattled agency assigned to protect the president’s life.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, said Monday night that whistleblowers told his committee that the intruder ran through the White House, into the East Room and near the doors to the Green Room before being apprehended. They also told the committee that the intruder made it past a female guard stationed inside the White House, Chaffetz said.

In the hours after the Sept. 19 fence-jumper incident, Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan told The Associated Press that the suspect had been apprehended just inside the North Portico doors of the White House. The Secret Service also said that night that the suspect had been unarmed — an assertion that was revealed to be false the next day when officials acknowledged that Omar J. Gonzalez had a knife with him when he was apprehended.

Also, CAGW has jumped the shark. What’s next?

Wars and rumors of wars

Sunday, September 28th, 2014

Today’s reads are Clarice Feldman and Andy McCarthy. It ought to be pretty hard to keep believing the fantasies, but the fantasists persist. Spengler explains some reasons that make fantasy attractive.

In the nick of time

Saturday, September 27th, 2014

LA Times:

The Justice Department is expected to issue a broad new policy in the coming two to three weeks banning religious and other forms of profiling by federal law enforcement officers, department sources said Friday. The long-awaited policy will not include an exemption for national security investigations

Just in the nick of time. Of course that nick might be an Alton Nolen starting to saw your head off.

Back to the future?

Friday, September 26th, 2014

The West should lament the “secularist” plus “male = female” (in all aspects) society it has created in the last 50 years or so. Testosterone plus religion often equals violence — see the definition of Jihad if you care. Holy War can be a beautiful thing to young men seeking both meaning for their lives and soldiering. This has been obvious since the dawn of time and the book of Genesis. But now Jihad is merely workplace violence to some. That guy in London was not doing Jihad. It’s not terrorism. So too that guy in Oklahoma. They’re just mentally disturbed. Of course that is true, but there’s a reason 16-30 year olds are drawn to the Islamic State. The West’s conjoining of secularism and no male-female differences is a toxic brew. Headless Body in Topless Bar has taken on a new meaning. We ignore this at our peril, but soon it may well be impossible to ignore, try the cognoscenti though they will…

Roger Simon has more thoughts on this, as does Steyn on random workplace beheadings. Move along, nothing to see here.

Incoherence

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

Michael J. Totten:

The Islamic State drove a convoy of stolen Humvees into an Iraqi army base named Camp Saqlawiya just north of Fallujah and exploded themselves. Hundreds of Iraqi soldiers are dead or missing. I paid a visit to Saqlawiya six years ago. “That’s where you’ll want to go,” an American Marine told me, “if you want to say you get shot at once a week.” Nobody shot at me. Saqlawiya was relatively “quiet” back then because the American military was occupying the area.

The American military is no longer occupying the area. And since the Iraqi army is effectively useless, despite years of American training, the Islamic State can wage its scorched earth campaign of murder and mayhem almost with impunity.

I say “almost” because air strikes by the US-led coalition are putting a crimp in their plans, but IS rules a huge area straddling two large countries and somebody will need to go in there, clear ground, and hold it if anything substantial is going to change.

Likewise in Syria. The US and several Arab governments are now bombing the Islamic State on the Syrian side of the border, including its “capital” in Raqqa and several oil refineries in order to keep cash out of the terror group’s pockets. Again, though, somebody will have to go in there and clear and hold ground if anything substantial is going to change.

No one we like will be able do that anytime soon. If the Iraqi army can’t handle it at this late date it might never be able to handle it. As for Syria, according to David Ignatius in the Washington Post, “the U.S. military will…lead the training of Syrian forces, but this will take longer because the opposition there starts from a low base of readiness. The hope is that by sometime next year, a well-vetted force of at least 5,000 Syrians, trained in Saudi Arabia and other countries, will be ready.”

Nobody really knows how many fighters the Islamic State has, but estimates are in the tens of thousands. And those 5,000 American proxies in Syria don’t even exist yet. So in the meantime, any ground cleared of IS fighters will be open to the Syrian and Iranian regimes and their terrorist proxies such as Lebanese and Iraqi Hezbollah. Washington may be coordinating with Bashar al-Assad indirectly through the Iraqis and admits that it’s coordinating with Iranian-backed militias through the Iraqis.

We suspect that few know the history that in part informs the current crisis, and worse yet, the establishment still says that it’s unacceptable to address the basic issue honestly. Hence, you’re reduced to saying flapdoodle. An incoherent war can’t be won.

BTW, the last time we caught up with the peripatetic Mr. Totten, he was in Cuba.