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Friday, December 23, 2016

Merry Christmas

For your holiday entertainment (I hope), here is my barbershop quartet (I'm on the far left) singing the humorous song "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" at a recent Holiday Show. It was video'd by someone in the audience and was posted via her facebook page.

Update: Apparently the above link only works for facebook members. If so, try this one.

Dilbert Cartoonist Calls It

I don't find Scott Adams, the Dilbert comic strip cartoonist, particularly funny (as far as comics go), but I have found a lot of his writings insightful. It turns out that he wrote the following comic strip 26 years ago:

It's official now! And he somehow worked the whole Russian thing into it as well!

Stunningly prescient? Or unbelievably lucky?

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Shark Jumped

Since the election, the NYT seems to have gone off its meds, and gone on a bender. My browser is getting swamped with staggering inanities that pass for journalism at that once august, and now expiring, institution.

Yet even that standard, such as it is, is nothing compared to its latest revel in blinkered foolishness: A Cruel Test for Germany, and Europe:

The populist right has wasted no time waiting for facts to emerge about the identity of the attacker in Berlin or a motive to slam Chancellor Angela Merkel for her humane asylum policy and to push its xenophobic agenda. This dangerous — if predictable — reaction plays directly into the hands of the Islamic State, which would like nothing better than to start a war between Christians and Muslims in Europe.

Shortly after the attack on Monday, Marcus Pretzell, a member of the far-right Alternative for Germany party, viciously tweeted, “These are Merkel’s dead!” On Tuesday, Geert Wilders, the leader of the Netherlands’ Party for Freedom, tweeted an image of Ms. Merkel spattered with blood; Nigel Farage, of Britain’s U.K. Independence Party, tweeted that such events “will be the Merkel legacy”; and Marine Le Pen, the French nationalist, issued a statement on the “Islamist” attack in Berlin and called for reinforcing Europe’s national borders there.

It is worth remembering that the NYT has in the past wasted no time waiting for facts. While that comes with a nose-wrinkling stench of hypocrisy, that was then. This is now.

Without bothering to make any affirmative argument, it simply jumps to more vocabulary abuse. Pro-tip, thinking that essentially unrestricted Muslim immigration might not, after all, be a very good idea isn't a "phobia" of any kind. Resorting to "xenophobic" is, just like its nasty relations "homophobic", "islamophobic" and "racist", is nothing more than demonization en route to ostracism: shut-up, the NYT explained.

The problem lurks within the loaded term "humane". As a first order effect, letting in nearly a million Muslim immigrants is humane; after all, it is near as certain that many would have died had they been forced to remain in Syria and Libya. But the reason they would have died is the second order effect. Among the refugees are bound to be a number who deeply hope to wreak as much havoc in Europe as they can possibly manage.

This is the argument that the NYT -- evincing what is thoroughly rotten about progressivism -- avoids by resorting to language abuse instead. Let's take it as read that many refugees are alive that wouldn't have been otherwise. How many refugee lives saved balance the European dead, maimed, and traumatized? Having not offered that bargain up to its citizens, or that argument to its readers, Merkel and the NYT are claiming a moral superiority they haven't demonstrated, or earned.

There is a joke with the punchline "I know what you are; now we are haggling over the price." That applies just as well here. The NYT considers Pretzell's tweet vicious. Perhaps, but it can hardly be considered fake, can it? Letting in 800,000+ refugees is humane; to oppose it xenophobic. I have heard that conditions in Mosul are quite bad, and lots of people there will die as a result.

So why doesn't Merkel let the remaining 5,000 or so Mosulians in to Germany? Why doesn't the NYT advocate doing so? Because to do so, by haggling over price, would reveal the rottenness at their core.

Beyond this is a broader question. Western civilization is built, in large part, upon freedom of conscience, which is another way of saying putting up with others' patently ridiculous notions, particularly in the realm of religion. But that raises a conundrum: tolerating the intolerant. At some point, failing to return the favor cancels any obligation to offer it. Islam is epically intolerant, and absolutist. What obligation do we in the West have to people who won't disavow Islam? If it is greater than that owed to communists a generation ago, it seems an explanation of why would be in order.

Interestingly, the comments section, ordinarily an echo chamber for leftist shibboleths, largely excoriates the NYT for their vapid nonsense. Perhaps this might serve as a lesson, as if the election wasn't already lesson enough, that relying on insults in place of an argument is a danger sign the argument itself is bankrupt.

As something of a postscript, it seems that waiting for the self evident would indeed have been a waste of time, ignoring for the moment that reality is even worse:

Amri [the name of the suspect], who is variously reported to be 23 or 24, arrived in Germany in July 2015 as an asylum-seeker. He was able to remain because of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s suicidal open-door policy for refugees from the Muslim Middle East and North Africa. Prosecutors in Berlin attempted to deport Amri back in June, after learning three months earlier that he was planning “a serious act of violent subversion.” He is reportedly a follower of Abu Walaa, an Iraqi sharia-supremacist firebrand who was recently arrested on suspicion of being a top ISIS leader and recruiter in Germany.

His terrorist activities aside, Amri has also been involved in narcotics trafficking, theft, and the torching of a school. That last felony occurred in Italy, where the “refugee” was sentenced to five years [of which he served 17 months] in prison before being welcomed into Deutschland. All that baggage, and still the Germans allowed him to remain. Reportedly, officials felt they could not deport him because he did not have a passport and the Tunisian government would not acknowledge him (despite the fact that the Tunisian government had convicted him in absentia of a violent robbery). That might explain a brief delay in repatriating him; it does not explain a legal system that permits a suspect with a lengthy, violent criminal record to remain at liberty while he is suspected of plotting mass-murder attacks.

Also, I seem to remember some brou ha ha over assertions there are "no-go" zones in Europe: only deplorables think such deplorable things.

Considering where I live, reading that isn't exactly heartwarming entertainment.

So, NYT editorial board, any chance you will rethink that whole xenophobia thing?

Thursday, December 08, 2016

I Wonder If This Is Fake News?

Le jour où Donald Trump a sauvé ma fille

It says something nice about Trump, which means at minimum that no mainstream media outlet will print it, even if true. I'm not sure it's even been translated to English yet (use google translate if your French is as bad as mine).

And that's one of the biggest problems with the bias in the media. Since we know they wouldn't print this, even if true, we can't know what's fake and what's not. Since I can't think of a reason this French paper would make this story up (and/or not fact check it adequately), I think there's at least some chance that it's true.

Enjoy! Even if not true it makes a good story.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Where I get an NYT Honorable Mention

Last week, the NYT's Sunday Review section ran an explanatory article, What the Alt-Right Really Means. Clearly, the point of the exercise is to educate bien pensants about the strange folkways of their moral and intellectual inferiors.

As these things go, it isn't horrible, but in places, it is easily bad enough. It starts off relating the — clearly dodgy — atmosphere at a white nationalist meeting several weeks ago.

Not even those most depressed about Donald J. Trump’s election and what it might portend could have envisioned the scene that took place just before Thanksgiving in a meeting room a few blocks from the White House. The white nationalist Richard B. Spencer was rallying about 200 kindred spirits.

“We are not meant to live in shame and weakness and disgrace,” he said. “We were not meant to beg for moral validation from some of the most despicable creatures to ever populate the planet.” When Mr. Spencer shouted, “Hail, Trump! Hail, our people! Hail, victory!” a scattered half-dozen men stood and raised their arms in Nazi salutes.

Mr. Spencer is a self-described member of the "alt-right", which has become an umbrella term to cover every group and opinion that might cause the Gray Lady to retire to her fainting couch, pearls clutched every step of the way.

Having thus poisoned the well, the author finally gets around to the "but" para:

Last summer “alt-right,” though it carried overtones of extremism, was not an outright synonym for ideologies like Mr. Spencer’s. But in late August, Hillary Clinton devoted a speech to the alt-right, calling it simply a new label for an old kind of white supremacy that Mr. Trump was shamelessly exploiting.

The question implicitly raised, but never answered, is whether distorting the existing meaning of a term, in the quest to tar those who don't bow to leftist shibboleths, serves only to throw oxygen and gasoline on some barely smoldering embers. This is the, by now, to her, regrettable "deplorables" moment by another name. While the piece fails to question NYT reporting and editorials that routinely, and without evidence, label Trump and some of his appointments in ways that place them firmly amongst the truly , it does bow in the direction of reality:

There is no good evidence that Mr. Trump or Mr. Bannon think in terms like these. Not even the former Breitbart editor at large Ben Shapiro, who has become an energetic critic of Mr. Bannon and his agenda, says that Mr. Bannon is himself a racist or an anti-Semite. Mr. Shapiro considers fears that Mr. Bannon will bring white nationalism to the White House “overstated, at the very least.”

Ultimately, though, this article seems to make rather more of something than its numbers warrant. Hence the comment I submitted which, surprisingly, was an NYT Pick:

Recently there was a white nationalist convention in DC that drew 200 people.

The last Bronycon -- for My Little Pony enthusiasts -- drew more than 30 times as many.

Maybe it isn't time for the NYT to freak out just yet.

It got a lot of recommends, and a more than the average number of replies. Most of whom seemed single-mindedly dedicated to missing the point, and the rest determined to set the the all world, indoor/outdoor record for Godwin's Law affirmations per column inch.

And many of whom might, just might, have a much more mild case of Trump Derangement syndrome if they (or reporters) did things like, oh, I don't, know, go to Trump's campaign website so they can find out just how much of a virulent racist he is.

It is my highest and greatest hope that the Republican Party can be the home in the future and forevermore for African-Americans and the African-American vote because I will produce, and I will get others to produce, and we know for a fact it doesn’t work with the Democrats and it certainly doesn’t work with Hillary.

When I am President, I will work to ensure that all of our kids are treated equally, and protected equally. Every action I take, I will ask myself: does this make life better for young Americans in Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, Ferguson who have as much of a right to live out their dreams as any other child in America?

Just awful, innit?