Seattle’s Socialist Experiment: When it Comes to the Impacts of a High Minimum Wage, a Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

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Erin ShannonErin-S-web-103cropw writes: This sign in a Seattle nail salon is a perfect illustration of the unintended consequences of forcing employers to pay an aritificially high minimum wage.

Contrary to the claim that employers can afford to pay their workers more and will just absorb the higher labor costs, Madison Avenue Nail Spa shows what really happens–employers find ways to mitigate those costs.  This business owner has decided to pass the extra costs to consumers.

“All of these employers are doing what they must in order to deal with a mandated wage that is higher than the value of the job.”

They aren’t alone. Ivars Salmon House is also raising prices.  Ivars is also implementing a 17% service charge in lieu of tips.  The Icon Grill in Seattle is taking a different strategy; they aren’t increasing prices, but instead eliminating three weeks of paid vacation. All employees will now only earn one week of paid vacation time; before Seattle’s new minimum wage law went into effect on April 1, some long-time employees of the restaurant received four weeks of paid vacation per year.

From the dustbin of history, the zombie socialists

From the dustbin of history, the zombie socialists

“All employees will now only earn one week of paid vacation time; before Seattle’s new minimum wage law went into effect on April 1, some long-time employees of the restaurant received four weeks of paid vacation per year.”

Then there is Z Pizza–that business is closing in August, leaving 12 workers without jobs.  And long-time Seattle manufacturer Cascade Designs will move 100 of its lowest-skilled manufacturing jobs from Seattle to Nevada. Read the rest of this entry »


Dept. of Unpopular Reality: ‘George W. Bush Didn’t Create ISIS; Islam Did’, by David French

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David French, National ReviewRead more…


In Praise of the Dying Art of Civil Disagreement

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Carl R. Trueman writes: I spent the first half of last week at a seminar at an Ivy League divinity school, where a friend and I gave a presentation on ministry and media. I had resolved before speaking that I would refer early on in my presentation to the fact that I belong to a denomination which does not ordain women. My discussion of ministry would be incomplete if I didn’t mention this subject, though I knew my comment would draw fire at a seminar with ordained women present.

“If we no longer have a university system which models ways of civil engagement on such matters, then the kind of civic virtues upon which a healthy democracy depends are truly a thing of the past.”

Sure enough, one of the women ministers present challenged me with some vigor on my position. For a few minutes we exchanged trenchant but civil remarks on the subject.We each spoke our minds, neither persuaded the other, and then we moved on to the larger matter in hand: The use of modern media in the church. The matter of my opposition to women’s ordination never came up again in the remaining two days of the seminar.

[Read the full text here, at First Things]

Later that evening, a young research student commented to me that it was amazing to see such a trenchant but respectful disagreement on an issue that typically arouses visceral passions. He added that he and those of his generation had “no idea” (his phrase, if I recall) how such things should be done. Later in the week, my youngest son confirmed that he too had never seen civil disagreement on a matter of importance in the university classroom. This is an ominous, if fascinating, indictment, for I had simply done what I had seen modeled when I was an undergraduate: Vigorous disagreement in the classroom followed by friendly conversation in the pub. Read the rest of this entry »


EXCLUSIVE: Leaked List of Osama Bin Ladin’s Top-Secret Conservative Book Collection

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Bin Laden’s Right-Wing Reading List Goes Viral

editor-commen-deskThe list includes an archive of radical right wing books, history books, humor texts, and conservative philosophy belonging to the former al-Qaeda chief, some of which are still being withheld by the U.S. government, but leaked online this afternoon.

Among the volumes of books on law and military strategy that were publicly released this week, are a not-yet-declassified list of books by popular conservative authors such as Ann Coulter, Jonah Goldberg, and Andrew Breitbart, as well as scholarly texts by Ludwig von Mises, Milton Friedman, and Friedrich von Hayek. The collection includes:

The End Is Near and It’s Going to Be Awesome by Kevin D. Williamson

Ideas Have Consequences by Richard M. Weaver

Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Change by Jonah Goldberg

Mugged: Racial Demagoguery from the Seventies to Obama by Ann Coulter

The Road to Serfdom by Friedrich von Hayek

Capitalism and Freedom by Milton Friedman

God and Man at Yale: The Superstitions of ‘Academic Freedom by William F. Buckley, Jr.

Righteous Indignation: Excuse Me While I Save the World! by Andrew Breitbart

On Liberty by John Stuart Mill

Human Action, The Scholar’s Edition by Ludwig von Mises

The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945 by George Nash

Witness by Whittaker Chambers

The Conservative Mind: From Burke to Eliot by Russell Kirk

Ethnic America: A History by Thomas Sowell

Natural Right and History by Leo Strauss

The leak comes shortly after the fourth anniversary of Bin Laden’s death at the hands of US special forces…

developing…


[VIDEO] Ian McEwan 2015 Commencement Speech at Dickinson College

Ian McEwan, the award-winning author of more than 20 novels and short stories, including Atonement, delivered Dickinson’s Commencement address on Sunday, May 17.


GAS UP, BUTTERCUP: Data Geeks Calculate What the Ultimate U.S. Road Trip Looks Like

Road Trip

Who needs an atlas when you have an algorithm? Data tinkerer Randy Olson, who is now known across the internet for developing the optimum search path for Where’s Waldo books, has used this same algorithm to compute the optimal American road trip.

At the urging of Tracy Staedter from Discovery News, Olson set out to find the quickest driving route that would stop at a national natural landmark, national historic site, national park or national monument in all of the lower 48 states. He also included Washington, D.C. and added another stop in California to get to a total of 50 stops. Read the rest of this entry »


Does Artificial Intelligence Pose a Threat?

AI-WSJ

A panel of experts discusses the prospect of machines capable of autonomous reasoning

Ted Greenwald writes: After decades as a sci-fi staple, artificial intelligence has leapt into the mainstream. Between Apple ’s Siri and Amazon ’s Alexa, IBM ’s Watson and Google Brain, machines that understand the world and respond productively suddenly seem imminent.

The combination of immense Internet-connected networks and machine-learning algorithms has yielded dramatic advances in machines’ ability to understand spoken and visual communications, capabilities that fall under the heading “narrow” artificial intelligence. Can machines capable of autonomous reasoning—so-called general AI—be far behind? And at that point, what’s to keep them from improving themselves until they have no need for humanity?

Meka's M1 robot is one of the systems that has been acquired by Google

The prospect has unleashed a wave of anxiety. “I think the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race,” astrophysicist Stephen Hawking told the BBC. Tesla founder Elon Musk called AI “our biggest existential threat.” Former Microsoft Chief Executive Bill Gates has voiced his agreement.

How realistic are such concerns? And how urgent? We assembled a panel of experts from industry, research and policy-making to consider the dangers—if any—that lie ahead. Read the rest of this entry »


Michael Morell: Separating Fact From Seymour Hersh’s Fiction About bin Laden

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Osama’s body was chopped up and dropped from a helicopter? That’s odd. I saw video of his burial at sea

Michael Morell writes: As a career intelligence officer, I learned that there are few things in life of which you can be absolutely certain. But I am positive that a lengthy new article by journalist Seymour Hersh, which is getting widespread attention with a whole new tale about how Osama bin Laden was brought to justice, is wrong in almost every significant respect.

I can be certain because I was deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency when senior officials from our Counterterrorism Center first brought to CIA Director Leon Panetta and me the news that they had trailed an individual whom they believed was a bin Laden courier to a compound in Abbottabad, morellPakistan. And I was there for every meeting that followed as we worked through the evidence that led our analysts to conclude that the most-wanted man in the world was hiding at the compound.

[Order Michael Morell’s book “The Great War of Our Time: The CIA’s Fight Against Terrorism–From al Qa’ida to ISIS” from Amazon.com]

So I had good reason to know that Mr. Hersh’s 10,000-word story in the London Review of Books was filled with falsehoods. But here’s something I got wrong: I was certain that Mr. Hersh’s allegations would be quickly dismissed. After all, there was a public record about the raid in statements by the White House, Pentagon and CIA, and in books by former officials such as Mr. Panetta, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and others. Then there were the media appearances by the Navy SEAL who says he personally shot bin Laden. It should have been clear that either Mr. Hersh’s version of the truth was bogus or that we all had participated in one of the most successful and complex conspiracies in modern history.

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Despite the many and obvious holes in Mr. Hersh’s story, his allegations gained some traction. A number of respected news organizations ranging from the New York Times to NBC News picked up slivers of information in Mr. Hersh’s account and essentially said, “Yeah, we heard something like that too.” Almost all of these accounts were attributed to anonymous former officials—many of whom admitted having at best secondhand information. Incredibly, these “I know a guy, who knows a guy who swears that . . .” accounts were given credence over on-the-record statements made in the past four years by people who were in the room—or on the scene.

[Read the full text here, at WSJ]

Mr. Hersh has appeared in the media in recent days saying that when I and others asserted that his report was wrong, we were offering “non-denial denials” because our objections lacked specificity. All right, let me specifically address his major allegations.

The house where Osama bin Laden was finally hunted down. SAEED SHAH — MCT Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/12/20/212378/zero-dark-thirty-leak-investigators.html#storylink=cpy

The house where Osama bin Laden was finally hunted down. SAEED SHAH — MCT

• Mr. Hersh says the White House lied when it asserted that the bin Laden raid was, as he puts it, an “all-American affair and that senior generals of Pakistan’s army and Inter-Services agency (ISI) were not told in advance.” The truth is that the decision not to tell the Pakistanis was made early in the discussions of our options. We would have liked to have made the raid a joint operation with the Pakistanis—what better way to strengthen the bilateral relationship?—but we simply couldn’t trust that someone in the Pakistani system would not tip off bin Laden. I was present during all of these discussions when it was resolved that we wouldn’t inform Pakistan until after the fact. Read the rest of this entry »


What if the World’s Most Expensive Fighter Planes Can’t Defeat Our Enemies?


[VIDEO] Charles Krauthammer on the Iraq War at the NRI Summit, May 2015

National Review’s Rich Lowry talks with columnist, author Charles Krauthammer

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London, We Have A Problem: Why British Pollsters Were So Dreadfully, Terribly Wrong

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Michael Barone writes: “The world may have a polling problem.” That’s the headline on a blogpost by Nate Silver, the wunderkind founder of the fivethirthyeight.com website. It was posted on 9:54 Eastern Time the night of May 7, as the counting in the British election was continuing in the small hours of May 8 UK Time.

“Polling provides useful information, but information whose reliability is often ephemeral and increasingly, it seems, limited.” 

That was an hour after the result in the constituency of Nuneaton made it clear that all the pre-election polls were wrong. Nuneaton, in the Midlands just east of Birmingham, was number 28 on a list of 42 marginal two-party contests. Projections based on pre-election polls were that Labour would win 35 of these 42 seats. Instead Conservatives won 34 of them.

Nationally, the pre-election polls predicted that Conservatives would win about 280 seats, barely ahead of Labour and far short of a 326-seat majority. The exit poll pegged them at 316. They ended up winning 331.

NYTvsAmerica

“Readers may have noticed that all these errors seem to come from one ideological direction. In nations where the dominant media lean left–the New York Times and the old-line TV networks here, the BBC in Britain, Ha’aretz in Israel–opinion on the right has been understated in the polls.”

Something similar happened in 1992, when pre-election polls showed the two parties tied but Conservatives won by a 7.5-point margin. The most common explanation, advanced by Conservative analyst Rob Hayward: “shy Tories” were unwilling to tell pollsters they favored the Conservative party.

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“Evidently, some people don’t want to identify themselves as troglodytes to telephone interviewers or even on robocalls.”

British pollsters made adjustments then but, as Hayward notes, they didn’t work this year. Internal party polls apparently did better. American pollster Stanley Greenberg, working for Labour and using a longer questionnaire, found the party’s numbers sagging. Australian consultant Lynton Crosby, running Conservatives’ campaign, assured party leaders they would win 300 seats. Read the rest of this entry »


Are Conservatives a Little Paranoid? The Obama Administration has ‘Richly Earned Citizens’ Distrust’, says David French

US President Barack Obama attends a military briefing with US Ambassador to Afghanistan James Cunningham (L) at Bagram Air Field, north of Kabul, in Afghanistan, May 25, 2014. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

No, the Obama administration isn’t going to invade Texas 

David French writes:

…Let’s not forget that more than half of Democrat voters thought it was “very” or “somewhat” likely that the Bush       administration either “assisted in the 9/11 attacks or took no action to stop the attacks because they wanted the United States to go to war in the Middle East.” Let that sink in: panic-manFor all the elite’s disdain of allegedly gullible conservatives, a majority of the Left believed that an American president was complicit in mass murder.

[Disagreement as Mental Illness]

[Cultural Conservatives Have Barely Begun to Fight]

[The P.C. Thought Police Aren’t Fragile; They’re Vengeful and Malicious]

But extreme paranoia wasn’t limited to the Democratic rank and file. As National Review’s own Rich Lowry pointed out, Naomi Wolf (former campaign consultant to Bill Clinton and Al Gore) actually wrote a book explaining how the Bush administration was mirroring the early actions of dictatorships like those in Germany, Russia, and China. Harper’s Magazine published breathless stories about a barely averted Bush administration “coup” or “military dictatorship.” Even as recently as 2013, the National Journal published an article claiming that military officers were considering “staging a coup” against President Obama — the basis for the claim was a series of statements by a retired non-stop-panic-pearlsgeneral who specifically declared that no coup was being contemplated.

[Democrats Push to Criminalize Dissent]

[The War on the Private Mind]

[The Burdens of Thought Policing]

In this atmosphere of earned distrust, it is appropriate for elected officials to ask questions about even benign and well-meaning military exercises. No, the Obama administration isn’t going to invade Texas or Utah. Yes, there are some bottom-dwelling, opportunistic conspiracy-mongers who’ve done their best to whip up public concern. Read the rest of this entry »


Kirsten Powers: The Age Of Un-Enlightenment

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When people are afraid to express their opinions because they’ve seen other people treated as deviants deserving of public shaming or worse, they will be less likely to speak freely

The following is an edited excerpt from Kirsten Powers’ new book, The Silencing.

The illiberal left isn’t just ruining reputations and lives with their campaigns of delegitimization and disparagement. They are harming all of society by silencing important debates, denying people the right to draw their own conclusions, and derailing reporting and research that is important to our understanding of the world. They are robbing culture of the diversity of thought that is so central to learning and discovery.

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“Open-minded inquiry into the problems of the Black family was shut down for decades, precisely the decades in which it was most urgently needed,” Haidt said. “Only in the last few years have sociologists begun to acknowledge that Moynihan was right all along.”

 — Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt

It’s sadly ironic that so many of the illiberal left view themselves as rational, intellectual, fact-based thinkers and yet have fully embraced a dogmatic form of un-enlightenment. Deviating from lefty ideology is equated to heresy and academic inquiry is too often secondary to ideological agendas.

[Jason L. Riley: Will Liberals Ever Forgive Daniel Patrick Moynihan for Being Right?]

The illiberal left insert ideologically driven statistics into the media and academic bloodstream and then accuse anyone who questions them of silencingdiabolical motives. When researchers make discoveries supporting the wrong ideological conclusion, the character assassination and intimidation begin.

[Order Kirsten Powers book The Silencing: How the Left is Killing Free Speech” from Amazon.com]

In a 2011 speech, then-University of Virginia social psychologist Jonathan Haidt, who describes himself politically as a “liberal turned centrist,” explained, “If a group circles around sacred values, they’ll evolve into a tribal-moral community. They’ll embrace science whenever it supports their sacred values, but they’ll ditch it or distort it as soon as it threatens a sacred value.”

“Sacralizing distorts thinking. Sacred values bind teams together, and then blind them to the truth. That’s fine if you are a religious community… but this is not fine for scientists.”

The illiberal left likes to accuse conservatives and religious people of doing this, but ignores the central role it plays in their own determination to reinforce their ideological beliefs. Haidt pointed to Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who was labeled a racist for a 1965 report he produced as assistant secretary of Labor in the Kennedy administration.

[Read more here, at The Daily Caller]

The report rang alarm bells about the rise of unmarried parenthood among African Americans, and called for government policies to address the issue. “Open-minded inquiry into the problems of the Black family was shut down for decades, precisely the decades in which it was most urgently needed,” Haidt said. “Only in the last few years have sociologists begun to acknowledge that Moynihan was right all along. Sacralizing distorts thinking. Sacred values bind teams together, and then blind them to the truth. That’s fine if you are a religious community… but this is not fine for scientists.”

“We are hurting ourselves when we deprive ourselves of critics, of people who are as committed to science as we are, but who ask different questions, and make different background assumptions.”

Haidt believes that the fact that conservatives are underrepresented by “a ratio of two or three hundred to one” in social psychology “is evidence that we are a tribal moral community that actively discourages conservatives from entering.” Allowing for more diversity of ideological thought would lead to “better science and freer thinking,” concluded Haidt. This argument doesn’t just apply to academia. It applies to any facet of society where non-liberal views are deemed out of bounds. Read the rest of this entry »


The Left’s Crusade Against Free Speech

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Peter Berkowitz writes: In October 2009, the Obama White House launched a concerted attack against critical press coverage, one unparalleled since the days of the Nixon White House. In one respect, Barack Obama and Richard Nixon were in agreement: both perceived a distinctly liberal bias in the media. Nixon denounced the press for its leftism, Obama objected to the press’s deviation from it. So Obama and his senior staff singled out for condemnation Fox News, the lone television network that did not serve up the fawning coverage the president and his team had come to expect.

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In “The Silencing: How the Left is Killing Free Speech,” Kirsten Powers recounts that in the space of a few days, White House communications director Anita Dunn, her deputy Dan Pfeiffer, White House Senior Adviser David Axelrod, and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel openly asserted that the administration properly excluded Fox reporters from press briefings because Fox was not a legitimate news organization. When asked for comment by NBC News, President Obama stood behind his team.

hammer-censored

Grousing about criticism is only human, and presidential displeasure with the press is nothing new. But wielding the presidential bully pulpit to decree what counts as legitimate news coverage represented an ominous turn in American politics.

“The smearing of opponents of the progressive party line as purveyors of hatred; the denigration of critics of left-liberal public policy as racists, sexists, and homophobes; and the ostracism of advocates of faith, tradition, and the virtues of America’s experiment in self-government as minions of sinister forces—these have become routine features of intellectual life at our leading universities.”

Separation of press and state is as essential to the American constitutional order as separation of church and state. In one respect, religious freedom depends on press freedom: a press that is answerable to, or in the pocket of, the government will be unwilling to report, or incapable of reporting accurately, when government exceeds its lawfully prescribed boundaries.

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What could the president and his advisers have been thinking in orchestrating an assault on Fox News? Where could our president, a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School and a former lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School, silencinghave gotten the idea that it was government’s prerogative to determine who properly reports the news and to supervise the flow of opinion in the country?

[Order Kirsten Powers book The Silencing: How the Left is Killing Free Speech” from Amazon.com]

Sad to say, they could have been thinking they were faithfully implementing the ideas about the need to regulate speech that they had learned in college. The smearing of opponents of the progressive party line as purveyors of hatred; the denigration of critics of left-liberal public policy as racists, sexists, and homophobes; and the ostracism of advocates of faith, tradition, and the virtues of America’s experiment in self-government as minions of sinister forces—these have become routine features of intellectual life at our leading universities. The development of doctrines designed to curtail nonconforming speech was already well under way by the time Obama attended college in the early1980s and law school in the early 1990s. Read the rest of this entry »


Erik Wemple: The Week That Cable News Failed Free Expression

duck-and-cover-top

“There’s no justification for violence. But…”

“I’m a First Amendment absolutist. But…”

“You have every right to do what you did. But…”

imrs-1.phpErik Wemple writes: Though perhaps not verbatim, those are the sentiments that have spilled from cable airwaves — and, for that matter, non-cable airwaves — in the days since Sunday’s violent incident in Garland, Texas. Two gunmen were shot dead by a police officer as they attempted to mount a terrorist attack on a “Draw Muhammad” cartoon contest — an event whose by-product is offensive to many Muslims. The Islamic State terrorist group claimed responsibility for targeting the contest, which was organized by Pamela Geller of the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI).

“And who’s being treated as the public enemy on cable? The woman who organized a cartoon contest.”

Authorities are investigating ISIS’s claim of responsibility; they’re checking the electronic communication histories of the attackers, Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi; the White House has called the episode an “attempted terrorist attack.

(Photo by Earl Gibson III/Getty Images)

(Photo by Earl Gibson III/Getty Images)

“This is problematic to me, because I wonder whether this group that held this event down there to basically disparage and make fun of the prophet Mohammed doesn’t in some way cause these events.”

— MSNBC’s Chris Matthews

And who’s being treated as the public enemy on cable? The woman who organized a cartoon contest.

[Read the full text here, at The Washington Post]

MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, in speaking with a guest: “This is problematic to me, because I wonder whether this group that held this event down there to basically disparage and make fun of the prophet Mohammed doesn’t in some way cause these events. Well, not the word ‘causing’ — how about provoking, how about taunting, how about daring? How do you see the causality factor here?” (Taunting is a form of expression)

Kelly reading a tweet from punditfromanotherplanet right before she goes on the air.

Kelly reading a tweet from punditfromanotherplanet right before she goes on the air.

“To her enduring credit, Fox News’s Megyn Kelly has been screaming all week about the folly of the ‘too-provocative’ crowd.”

Donald Trump on Fox & Friends: “What is she doing drawing Mohammed?…What are they doing drawing Muhammad. Isn’t there something else they can draw?…I’m the one who believes in free speech probably more than she does, but what’s the purpose of this?” (Must protected speech have a Trump-approved purpose?)

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“The American media folded into a crouch of cowardice and rationalization. The Associated Press’s statement said it would ‘refrain from moving deliberately provocative images.’”

Comedy Central’s Larry Wilmore: “You know another thing that’s horrific, Pamela Geller? Intentionally putting innocent, unarmed security guards in danger so you can make some bull[—-] free speech argument.” (A bad moment: When comedians are rating others’ free-speech arguments)

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“Nothing justifies the attack, the violent attack. There is no
justification, but…”

— CNN’s Jake Tapper to Geller

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“It’s one thing for someone to stand up for the First Amendment and put his own you-know-what on the line, but…”

— Fox News’s Greta Van Susteren

Fox News host Martha MacCallum to Geller: “I absolutely get where you’re coming street-girlsfrom. I’m not sure you went about it the right way.” (Let the government decide on the “right way”!)

“A judgment has emerged that preaches compliance with the notion that this particular form of expression means you’re asking for it.”

CNN host Alisyn Camerota to Geller: “And nobody is saying that this warrants the violence that you saw. I mean I haven’t heard anyone in the media saying that it’s okay for gunmen to show up at an event like this. Read the rest of this entry »


U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit Declares NSA’s Telephone Dragnet Unlawful

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In a ruling certain to profoundly shape the ongoing debate over surveillance reform in Congress, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has ruled that the National Security Agency’s indiscriminate collection of Americans’ telephone calling records exceeds the legal authority granted by the Patriot Act’s controversial section 215, which is set to expire at the end of this month.

Comments Cato scholar Julian Sanchez, “While the court didn’t reach the crucial question of whether the program violates the Fourth Amendment, the ruling gives civil libertarians good reason to hope that a massive and egregious violation of every American’s privacy will finally come to an end.”

[CATO]


[VIDEO] TRIFECTA Post Texas Shooting: Is Free Speech a ‘Mousetrap’ for Terrorism?

“There’s a fine line? There’s NO line. There’s NO LINE you IDIOT! It’s free speech or it isn’t, there’s NO LINE.”

— Bill Whittle

Chris Matthews said that the Texas incident was a mousetrap for terrorism, and that event organizers crossed a line. The Trifecta Gang rips this apart.

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“Chris Matthews, you miserable lowlife COWARD, you have the audacity to make a living giving your opinion on American television and now you’re gonna say that these people deserved this, the same way Gary Trudeau said that the people at Charlie Hebdo deserved to be butchered in their chairs because they drew cartoons just like he did?”

chris-matthews

“You have got a lot of nerve, you don’t deserve to live in this country, none of you deserve to live in this country, and if you want to know what the basis of this is, you’ve got it exactly right, Scott, it’s COWARDICE, it’s FEAR, these WEASELS, these LOWLIFES, these TRAITORS, in the media…”

— Bill Whittle, just getting warmed up

Mr-Crab

Mr. Whittle was remarkably restrained, considering. I was going to make a statement, but how can you follow that?

Trifecta – PJ Media


Victor Davis Hanson: ‘When Law Becomes Negotiable, Civilization Collapses’

 

Who will police the tax police?

Why did Rome and Byzantium fall apart after centuries of success? What causes civilizations to collapse, from a dysfunctional fourth-century-B.C. Athens to contemporary bankrupt Greece?

The answer is usually not enemies at the gates, but the pathologies inside them.

What ruins societies is well known: too much consumption and not enough production, a debased currency, and endemic corruption.

Americans currently deal with all those symptoms. But two more fundamental causes for decline are even more frightening: an unwillingness to pay taxes and the end of the rule of law.

sharpton-podium

Al Sharpton is again prominently in the news, blaming various groups for the Baltimore unrest. But Sharpton currently owes the U.S. government more than $3 million in back taxes, according to reports. His excuses have ranged from insufficient funds to pay them to sloppy record-keeping and mysterious fires.

Sharpton, a frequent White House guest, apparently assumes that his community-organizing provides him political exemption from federal tax law. He seems to be right, at least as long as the current administration is in power.

CGI-Clintons-1

The Clinton Foundation is expected to refile its tax returns for 2010, 2011, and 2012 after failing to separate government grants from donations. If an average citizen tried to amend his taxes for such huge sums and from that long ago, he would probably be under indictment.

[Read the full text here, at VictorHanson.com]

News reports of undocumented donations from foreign governments caught the foundation underreporting its income. The well-connected Clinton clan apparently had assumed that their political status ensured them immunity. Read the rest of this entry »


Adieu la Liberté d’Expression: Western Writers Abandon their Support for Free Speech

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Sorry, Charlie Hebdo

Je suis Charlie. French for “I am Charlie,” the phrase became a global expression of solidarity and resolve after Islamist gunmen murdered 12 people at the Paris offices of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.

 “The terrorists who attacked cartoonists in Paris and in Texas hoped that murder would intimidate them—and others—into silence. As such theirs was not merely an attack on a publication; it was an attack on the foundations of liberal democracy.”

In a terrifying copycat attack Sunday in Garland, Texas, two men with assault rifles attempted to gun down people attending an event satirizing Muhammad with cartoons. A single police officer managed to shoot and kill both gunmen before they got inside the event. With some 200 people in the building, the potential for another politicized mass murder was great.

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“Trumpeting the list of petition signers was no less than Glenn Greenwald, last seen lionizing Edward Snowden’s right to go public with information stolen from the National Security Agency’s efforts to track the people who committed the Paris murders and tried to do it again in Texas this week.”

On Monday authorities said one of the gunman, Elton Simpson of Phoenix, had been under surveillance for years because of interest he’d shown in joining jihadist groups overseas. He was found guilty of making false statements to the FBI, but a federal judge ruled there wasn’t enough evidence that Mr. Simpson’s activities were “sufficiently ‘related’ to international terrorism.”

SORRY-CHARLIE

Against this backdrop we have the extraordinary—almost comical—irony of some of America’s bien pensant intellectuals boycotting a ceremony Tuesday by the PEN American Center to confer its annual courage award for freedom of expression on Charlie Hebdo. PEN is an association of writers, and six prominent novelists—Peter Carey,Michael Ondaatje,Francine Prose,Teju Cole,Rachel Kushner and Taiye Selasi—have been trying to repeal the award for Charlie Hebdo.

Against this backdrop we have the extraordinary—almost comical—irony of some of America’s bien pensant intellectuals boycotting a ceremony Tuesday by the PEN American Center to confer its annual courage award for freedom of expression on Charlie Hebdo.

Ms. Kusher said she was uncomfortable with the “forced secular view” and “cultural intolerance” represented by Charlie Hebdo, whose signature attacks were on organized religion. Read the rest of this entry »


The Saudis Think Obama Is Weak


May Day Proposal: Celebrate Anti-Capitalist Activism? No, May Day Should Honor the Millions of Victims of Communism

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The authoritative Black Book of Communism estimates the total at 80 to 100 million dead, greater than that caused by all other twentieth century tyrannies combined

Ilya Somin writes:

…Since 2007, I have defended the idea of using this date as an international Victims of Communism Day. I outlined the rationale for this proposal (which is not my original idea) in my very first post on the subject:

May Day began as a holiday for socialists and labor union activists, not just communists. But over time, the date was taken over by the Soviet Union and other communist regimes and used as a propaganda communism-100
tool to prop up their [authority]. I suggest that we instead use it as a day to commemorate those regimes’ millions of victims. The authoritative Black Book of Communism estimates the total at 80 to 100 million dead, greater than that caused by all other twentieth century tyrannies combined. We appropriately have a Holocaust Memorial Day. It is equally appropriate to commemorate the victims of the twentieth century’s other great totalitarian tyranny. And May Day is the most fitting day to do so….

[Read the full text here, at The Washington Post]

The main alternative to May 1 is November 7, the anniversary of the communist coup in Russia. However, choosing that date might be interpreted as focusing exclusively on the Soviet Union, while ignoring the equally horrendous communist mass murders in China, Cambodia, and elsewhere. So May 1 is the best choice.

Soviet Five-Year Plan propaganda poster.

Soviet Five-Year Plan propaganda poster.

Our relative neglect of communist crimes carries a real cost. Victims of Communism Day can serve the dual purpose of appropriately commemorating the millions of victims, and diminishing the likelihood that such atrocities will recur. Just as Holocaust Memorial Day and other such commemorations help sensitize us to the dangers of racism, anti-Semitism, and radical nationalism, so Victims of Communism Day can increase awareness of the dangers of far left forms of totalitarianism, and extreme government control of the economy and civil society.

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In a 2012 post, I explained why May 1 is a better date for Victims of Communism Day than the available alternatives, such as November 7 (the anniversary of the Bolshevik seizure of power in Russia) and August 23 (the anniversary of the Nazi-Soviet Pact). I also addressed the objection that it would be wrong to take May Day away from non-communist socialists and trade union activists. Read the rest of this entry »


#Baltimore, a Great Society Failure

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Rich Lowry writes:

…President Obama doesn’t have the slightest idea how to fix Baltimore. His solutions fall back on liberal bromides going back 50 years. Dating back to the Kerner Commission after the riots of the 1960s, the Left’s go-to solution to urban problems has been more social programs. Since then, we’ve gotten more social programs — and just as many urban problems.

“Officials raised property taxes 21 times between 1950 and 1985, channeling the proceeds to favored voting blocs and causing many homeowners and entrepreneurs — disproportionately Republicans — to flee. It was brilliant politics, as Democrats now enjoy an eight-to-one voter registration advantage.”

— Steve Hanke and Stephen Walters of Johns Hopkins University, in the Wall Street Journal

Exhibit A is Baltimore itself. The city hasn’t been “neglected.” It has been misgoverned into the ground. It is a Great Society city that bought fully into the big-government vision of the 1960s, and the bitter fruit has been corruption, violence, and despair.

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“To counterbalance the taxes, they note, developers need to be lured to the city with subsidies, and the developers, in turn, contribute to politicians to stay in their good graces. This makes for fertile ground for the city’s traditional corruption.”

[Read the full text here, at National Review Online]

We don’t know all the facts surrounding Freddie Gray’s tragic death. But as a general matter, it is easy to believe that the Baltimore police are corrupt, dysfunctional, and unaccountable — because most of the Baltimore government is that way.

[Also see – Riot-Plagued Baltimore Is a Catastrophe Entirely of the Democratic Party’s Own Making]

This is a failure exclusively of Democrats, unless the root causes of Baltimore’s troubles are to be traced to its last Republican mayor, Theodore Roosevelt McKeldin, who left office in 1967. And it is an indictment of a failed model of government.

The city has been shedding jobs and people for decades, including in the 1990s when the rest of the country was booming. Read the rest of this entry »


How Have We Depicted Madness Throughout History?

Nebuchadnezzar

Even in an age of science, we cannot escape lunacy’s long history of frippery and superstition

 Modern psychiatry seems determined to rob madness of its meanings, insisting that its depredations can be reduced to biology and nothing but biology. One must doubt it. The social and cultural dimensions of mental disorders, so indispensable a part of the story of madness and civilization over the centuries, are unlikely to melt away, or to prove no more than an 61uJxeANx6L._SL250_epiphenomenal feature of so universal a feature of human existence. Madness indeed has its meanings, elusive and evanescent as our attempts to capture them have been.

[Check out ‘s book “Madness in Civilization: A Cultural History of Insanity, from the Bible to Freud, from the Madhouse to Modern Medicine at Amazon.com]

Western culture throughout its long and tangled history provides us with a rich array of images, a remarkable set of windows into both popular and latterly professional beliefs about insanity. The sacred books of the Judeo-Christian tradition are shot through with stories of madness caused by possession by devils or divine displeasure. From Saul, the first king of the Israelites (made mad by Yahweh for failing to carry out to the letter the Lord’s command to slay every man, woman, and child of the Amalekite tribe, and all their animals, too), to the man in the country of the Gaderenes “with an unclean spirit” (maddened, naked, and violent, whose demons Christ casts out and causes to enter a herd of swine, who forthwith rush over a cliff into the sea to drown), here are stories recited for centuries by believers, and often transformed into pictorial form. None proved more fascinating than the story of Nebuchadnezzar, the mighty king of Babylon, the man who captured Jerusalem and destroyed its Temple, carrying the Jews off into captivity all apparently without incurring divine wrath. Swollen with pride, however, he impiously boasts of “the might of my power,” and a savage and jealous God has had enough: driven mad, he “did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagle’s feathers, and his nails like bird’s claws.” The description has proved irresistible to many an artist: above, an unknown German artist working in early fifteenth-century Regensburg provides a portrait of the changes madness wrought upon the sane.

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Disease was rife in the ancient, medieval, and early modern world. It was often interpreted through a religious lens, and the spread of Christian belief through pagan Europe was often facilitated by the use of miracles and wonders to demonstrate the power of the Christian God. The ability to cure sick and tortured souls was increasingly brought about by the intercession of saints and martyrs, whose relics were believed to have miraculous power to heal the sick, reanimate the halt and the lame, and restore sight to the blind. The tombs of saints like St. Margaret of Antioch and St. Dymphna of Geel, who had both been beheaded, were popular choices for those seeking relief from mental distress, as was the shrine of St. Thomas à Becket, whose murder in Canterbury Cathedral is here shown in a mid-thirteenth-century codex. The saint’s blood was thought to cure insanity, blindness, leprosy, and deafness, not to mention a host of other ailments.

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Naturalistic accounts of madness, those that saw its roots in the body, had an ancient lineage as well. Though many in classical Greece and Rome still embraced supernatural accounts of mental disturbance and had recourse to the temple medicine of the god Asclepius, with its purification rites, charms, and spells, others were attracted to the humoral model of disease embraced by the followers of Hippocrates and later systematized by the Graseco-Roman physician Galen—a model of illness, both mental and physical, that would survive in Europe into the nineteenth century. Hieronymus Bosch’s satirical painting of The Cure of Folly: The Extraction of the Stone of Folly, which dates from c. 1494, suggests that skepticism about medical claims remained widespread despite physicians’ best efforts. A doctor dressed in a dunce’s cap uses a scalpel to draw forth the supposed cause of madness from the scalp of a patient.

L0077037 Advert for the psychiatric drug Thorazine

Though religious interpretations of mental disturbance persisted in both polite and popular circles well into the eighteenth century (and among hoi polloi even longer than that), medical models of mental disorder gradually became the dominant and then almost the only legitimate interpretation of the sources of mental distress. The eighteenth century saw the rise in England, the first consumer society, of a private trade in lunacy. Mad-doctors, as they were then called (the double entendre would later cause specialists in the management of lunacy to search for a more respectable name), marketed their madhouses as ways to save affluent families from the travails and potential disgrace of keeping a lunatic at home, and over time began to claim the ability to cure as well as immure the insane.

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The technological inventiveness of the Industrial Revolution was soon extended to devices intended to shock and startle the mad back to their senses. Erasmus Darwin, Charles Darwin’s grandfather, suggested a swinging chair, and soon a variety of such devices were marketed, one promising that by “increasing the velocity of the swing, the motion be[ing] suddenly reversed every six or eight minutes … the consequence is, an instant discharge of the stomach, bowels, and bladder, in quick succession.” Others promoted a variety of devices designed to simulate drowning—though sometimes, unfortunately, the drowning proved all too real. And the American mad-doctor, Benjamin Rush, created a special chair, one that “binds and confines every part of the body … Its effects have been truly delightful to me. It acts as a sedative to the tongue and temper as well as to the blood vessels. I have called it a Tranquillizer.”

ranz Joseph Gall examining the head of a pretty young girl, Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Franz Joseph Gall examining the head of a pretty young girl, while three gentlemen wait in line. Coloured lithograph by E.H., 1825. 1825 By: E. H.Published: 1825

Franz Joseph Gall examining the head of a pretty young girl, while three gentlemen wait in line. Coloured lithograph.  By: E. H.Published: 1825

Aristotle had seen the heart as the seat of the emotions and the intellect. By contrast, the Hippocratics saw the brain as their center. The anatomical investigations of the late seventeenth-century Oxford physician Thomas Willis (the man who coined the term neurologie) had given new impetus to the study of the role of the brain and the nervous system, and by the early nineteenth century, few medical men doubted that the etiology of insanity could be traced to disorders of the nerves and the brain. Among the most talented early nineteenth-century anatomists of these organs were the Austrian physicians Franz Gall and J.G. Spurzheim, who viewed the brain as a congeries of organs, each region corresponding to particular psychological functions. They asserted that the relative size of a particular organ was indicative of the strength of a particular mental function and that its size could be increased or decreased through mental exercise, rather as muscles can be developed or can atrophy. As the cranial bones developed, they allegedly conformed to the underlying comparative development of the brain’s different parts. Thus, a person’s mental capacities could be deduced from the confirmation of the head. Phrenological claims to provide a guide to human capacities and a somatic account of the origins of insanity soon became the butt of ridicule (as can be seen in this caricature, where Gall himself examines the head of an attractive young woman, while three gentlemen wait their turns to have their own characters read). Yet Gall’s underlying doctrine of cerebral localization enjoyed a long half life in neurology.

V0016653 Seven vignettes of people suffering from different types of

The handful of profit-making madhouses that emerged in the eighteenth century were dwarfed by the Great Confinement of the insane that marked the nineteenth. States all across Europe and North America embraced the asylum solution, prompted in part by the assurances of the medical men who soon monopolized the running of these places that they were architectural contrivances uniquely suited to the management and cure of the mentally disturbed. Read the rest of this entry »


Modern Sin: Holding On to Your Belief

nonconformist-bakers

Trying to put florists, bakers and others out of work for unapproved ideas about marriage

Charlotte AllenCharlotte Allen writes: On Tuesday the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges, the case that asks whether the Constitution requires states to allow same-sex couples to marry. Four days before the hearing, in Oregon, an administrative-law judge proposed a $135,000 fine against Aaron and Melissa Klein, proprietors of the Sweet Cakes bakery in Gresham, for the “emotional distress” suffered by a lesbian couple for whom the Kleins, citing their Christian belief that marriage is between a man and a woman, had declined to bake a wedding cake in 2013.

anti-gay-headlines-huffpo-wsj

“Media sympathy for the Kleins’ claim that being forced to participate in a same-sex wedding would violate their consciences ranged from nonexistent to…nonexistent. A CNN headline dubbed the Kleins’ since-closed business the ‘anti-gay bakery'; the Huffington Post prefers ‘anti-gay baker.’”

Same-sex marriage wasn’t legal in Oregon when the Kleins made their decision. But the couple was found to have violated a 2008 Oregon law forbidding discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation.

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“The victors have dropped their conciliatory stance. Bubonic plague-level hysteria surged through the media, academia and mega-corporate America in March after Indiana passed a law—modeled on the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993—that would enable religious believers to opt out of universally applicable laws under some circumstances.”

Media sympathy for the Kleins’ claim that being forced to participate in a same-sex wedding would violate their consciences ranged from nonexistent to . . . nonexistent. A CNN headline dubbed the Kleins’ since-closed business the “anti-gay bakery”; the Huffington Post prefers “anti-gay baker.”

[Read the full text here, at WSJ]

[Also see Bake Me a Cake — Or Else by Mark Hemingway]

Supporters of the Kleins—who have five children and operated the bakery out of their home—quickly went on the crowdfunding website GoFundMe to try to raise money to help the family pay legal fees and the fine, which still requires approval by the state labor commissioner. The effort managed to raise more than $100,000 in a few hours. human-christ-bookBut then, on Saturday night, GoFundMe abruptly shut down the online appeal because the Kleins’ case involved “formal charges.”

[Check out Charlotte Allen’s book “The Human Christ: The Search for the Historical Jesus at Amazon.com]

The Kleins join a small number of bakers, florists and photographers around the country, most of whom say they serve and even employ gays in their over-the-counter operations but who also insist that their Christian beliefs in man-woman marriage preclude their providing services to same-sex weddings. Those numbers will probably dwindle further: Many states are treating those acts of conscience as ordinary bigotry and, by levying or threatening fines, forcing those small business owners into costly and potentially ruinous litigation. Read the rest of this entry »


Nick Gillespie on College Kids Today: ‘Human Veal That Cannot Even Stand On Their Own Legs Or Face The Sunlight Without Having Their Eyeballs Burned Out’

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…So when ’60s-radical-turned-Reagan-fanboy David Horowitz shows up at University of North Carolina to equate Islam with terrorism for the thousandth time, the student body gets the vapors, tries to shut him down, and creates the hashtag #notsafeUNC.

“But really, what the fuck is wrong with kids these days and, more important, the supposed adults who look after them?”

When a student publication prints a story called “So You Want to Date a Teaching Assistant?” in a special satirical issue, the whole run gets pulped.

“They act as if they are raising human veal that cannot even stand on their own legs or face the sunlight without having their eyeballs burned out and their hearts broken by a single deep breath or uncomfortable moment.”

When Laura Kipnis, a feminist professor at Northwestern, publishes an essay in The Chronicle of Higher Education extolling her experiences sleeping with professors while a student, two current undergrads lodge complaints with the university’s Title IX office.

What does it say about the state of the campus today that comedian Chris Rock says he skips college tours now because today’s students are too “conservative”? He doesn’t mean that in a political sense. He means “in their social views and their willingness not to offend anybody.” Read the rest of this entry »


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