Archive for Culture

Big Surprise

Cuban agents recruiting academics in the US

This is from an internal FBI report:

The academic world—primarily defined as schools, colleges, universities, and research institutes— provides a fertile environment in which foreign intelligence services can operate. Consequently, the Cuban intelligence services (CuIS) are known to actively target the US academic world for the purposes of recruiting agents, in order to both obtain useful information and conduct influence activities.

More at the link. And I won’t even bother to rant; do it yourself. But do go to the link to read about how agents are identified, recruited, possibly blackmailed, etc.

– Aggie

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Bat-Shit Crazy

Listen to this:

Wednesday at a ceremony to appoint Texas lawyer Shaarik Zafar to be special representative to Muslim communities, Secretary of State John Kerry said it was the United States’ Biblical “responsibility” to “confront climate change,” including to protect “vulnerable Muslim majority counties.”
Kerry said Scripture, in particular the Book of Genesis, make clear it is our “duty” to protect the planet and we should look at Muslim countries “with a sense of stewardship of earth,” adding, “That responsibility comes from God.”

Seriously, you must go to the link to see this astounding video. We have always claimed that Global Warming is a religion, but who knew that it was Judaism.. or Christianity.. or even Islam? Did you know that?

One serious comment: The Obama administration would not be doing this if they didn’t assume that we are so stupid that our national IQ is undetectable.

– Aggie

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Captain Obvious To The Rescue

We’ve all been made aware of the social science research which claims that conservatives are stuck in rigid ways of thinking, always support authority, blah, blah, blah, whereas liberals are oh-so-open-minded, right?.

Those of us who are conservative, but reside in very liberal parts of the country, know this to be nonsense. Just attend a single cook-out in Cambridge, MA and see if you can express yourself when the conversation turns to: Obama, Health Care, Bush, Israel, the economy, school choice, conservatives, the Tea Party, Christians, Muslims, hate speech, etc. You can compliment the host on the food, though.

Anyway, now there is research that highlights the obvious:

Conservatives are conservative because they’re authoritarian and resistant to new ideas. Everyone knows that, right? There’s a bunch of social-science research that even proves it. If only conservatives were more open and less dogmatically attached to their tribe and their traditions, the world would be a much better place.

A lot of smart people endorse some version of this story. And yes, research surveys show that conservatives do express a much stronger affinity for obedience, authority and in-group loyalty than do liberals.

But there’s a question those surveys can’t answer: How does what people say translate into what people actually do? Jonathan Haidt, one of my favorite social scientists, studies morality by presenting people with scenarios and asking whether what happened was wrong. Conservatives and liberals give strikingly different answers, with extreme liberals claiming to place virtually no value at all on things like group loyalty or sexual purity.

One of Haidt’s most memorable questions involves a man who has sex with a frozen chicken, then cooks the chicken and eats it for dinner. Is this wrong? he asks. Philosophy-class enlightenment values pretty much give one answer: No one was harmed, so it can’t be wrong. And yet: I’m willing to bet that most of the folks who say that it’s A-OK would still be weirded out if they found out this is what their spouse had prepared for a special anniversary feast. Or that this is how a co-worker spends every Monday night.

In the ultra-liberal enclave I grew up in, the liberals were at least as fiercely tribal as any small-town Republican, though to be sure, the targets were different. Many of them knew no more about the nuts and bolts of evolution and other hot-button issues than your average creationist; they believed it on authority. And when it threatened to conflict with some sacred value, such as their beliefs about gender differences, many found evolutionary principles as easy to ignore as those creationists did. It is clearly true that liberals profess a moral code that excludes concerns about loyalty, honor, purity and obedience — but over the millennia, man has professed many ideals that are mostly honored in the breach.

Apparently, I’m not the only one who had questions about the prevalence of conformity on both sides of the political spectrum:

The way I saw it, this slavish obedience to authority and tradition on the part of conservatives was the true source of the culture war between liberals and conservatives over foreign war, abortion, same-sex marriage, gun control, and racial inequality. They way I saw it, conservatives clung to old, near-sighted ways of thinking and fell in line with the dictates of the “man in charge.” If only conservatives would think for themselves — like liberals do — the war would be over and we could get on with life, governance, and progress. Or so I thought.

Then, in 2012, I went on a cycling trip around Cuba.

Jeremy Frimer, the author of the piece, noticed that socialists seemed unable to tolerate even mild questioning of Che Guevara’s eminently questionable legacy. Frimer is a researcher at the University of Winnipeg, and he decided to investigate. What he found is that liberals are actually very comfortable with authority and obedience — as long as the authorities are liberals (“should you obey an environmentalist?”). And that conservatives then became much less willing to go along with “the man in charge.”

Frimer argues that conservatives tend to support authority because they think authority is conservative; liberals tend to oppose it for the same reason. Liberal or conservative, it seems, we’re all still human under the skin.

Here’s a question: Can the average liberal bumbling through Harvard Square even understand the nuance here?

– Aggie

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Getting Testy

Obama calls criticism of Syrian policy “horse shit”.

That’s Presidential. That’s Harvard-speak for “I disagree with that perspective. My perspective is the correct one.”

Hillary Clinton and congressmen alike have called on Obama to arm Syria’s rebels. But the president fumed at lawmakers in a private meeting for suggesting he should’ve done more.
President Obama got angry at lawmakers who suggested in a private meeting that he should have armed the Syrian rebels, calling the criticism “horseshit.”

The argument that America should have done more in Syria, made for years by foreign policy leaders in both parties and several members of Obama’s senior national security team, was brought back to the fore this past weekend. Obama and Hillary Clinton gave dueling interviews in which they publicly split on whether the security and humanitarian catastrophe in Syria could have been avoided if the United States had played a larger role. Obama’s outburst on July 31, one week prior, reveals the criticism was already getting to him, even before the White House tried to deflect Clinton’s remarks as pre-presidential political posturing.

Hmm. Next time your kid lies about something, just say: “That’s horse shit, Johnny!” (if the kid’s name is Johnny, naturally). And if your boss is aggravating, say: “Cut the horse shit, dude.” I think that we all need to practice using “horse shit” to its best advantage.

– Aggie

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Darwin Award

Man shoots self while posing for Selfie.

A young Mexican man has died after accidentally shooting himself in the head while posing for a “selfie” with a loaded gun.

Oscar Otero Aguilar, who worked in a pet shop, is said to have been drinking with friends in Medero, in the north of the capital, Mexico City, when the accident happened.
A follower of the “selfie” craze – in which people pose for photographs they take of themselves – Otero Aguilar frequently posted pictures of himself on social media sites.

Aggie, why did you post this? Because BTL and I want our readers to be well-informed.

– Aggie

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Tartaned and Feathered

It’s almost too lame to be outrageous:

Dozens of world-renowned artists have called on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe to cancel the participation of a show staged by the Jerusalem-based Incubator Theater, due to the Israeli operation in Gaza.

The production, “The City,” is a film noir-style hip-hop opera. It was invited to perform at the Underbelly venue in the Scottish capital from July 30 till August 25.

The petition was signed by 50 leading arts figures, including national poet Liz Lochhead, writer Alasdair Gray, playwright David Greig and theater directors Ben Harrison, Scottish media reported over the weekend.

“We the undersigned … write to you to protest against your programming of a show entitled ‘The City,’ by the Israeli company Incubator Theater, during the forthcoming Edinburgh Festival Fringe,” reads the letter, which was organized by theater critic and writer Mark Brown.

“The current, brutal assault by Israel upon the people of Gaza, which is an appalling collective punishment, underlines the seriousness of your error in cooperating with a company which is funded by the Ministry of Culture of the State of Israel.”

Cancel it for being a “film noir-style hip-hop opera”, by all means. But for being Jewish?

And to describe the effort to end Arab terror from Gaza as a “brutal assault” and a “collective punishment” is a stretch not even Roger Waters and Alice Walker could limber themselves up to make. Not even a sniff of the three murdered Jewish teens or the hundreds of missiles fired?

“The State of Israel uses the international ventures of its artists to attempt to lend itself a sense of cultural legitimacy and to distract attention from the brutality of its illegal occupation.

How sneaky of them! So like the Jews, don’t you think? But what “illegal occupation” do they speak of? Israel left Gaza nine years ago, and persistent shelling since is how they’ve been repaid.

It’s almost unfair to let these dimwits speak for themselves. I’d much rather quote the Israelis:

Incubator Theater’s founder and director, Arik Eshet, said in response: “We have nothing to be ashamed of. We are Israelis, and whether we like it or not, it puts us in the position of ambassadors. But treating Israeli artists as government agents is ridiculous.

“Israel is a censorship-free democratic state, and one cannot say that the Israeli theater and art represent the government. This is nonsense which at best stems from ignorance. I have invited the letter’s initiator to engage in a dialogue, but they are not interested because they are convinced they hold the absolute truth.

“This letter was signed by artists and intellectuals who claim to sanctify human rights, but what does that mean when, in practice, they won’t give us the opportunity to fulfill the right to freedom of expression? It’s outrageous and infuriating. Artistic work should be a place for exchanging opinions, but is seems that they don’t believe in that.

“We are proud of who we are and what we do. It’s their right to boycott us, but they are missing a wonderful show.”

You have nothing to be ashamed of because your nation is defending itself from an existential threat to the Jewish people. The “artists and intellectuals” who condemn Israel for that inherently agree with Hamas’ annihilist aims.

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Fun Book

Hey guys, I’m out of here for a couple of weeks, but wanted to alert people looking for a silly summer read to The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters. Great fun. And a metaphor for the Obama years if ever there was one.

– Aggie

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Democrats Among Us

I couldn’t get past the first few sentences.

Democratic Florida Rep. Joe Garcia — fresh off being caught eating his own earwax on camera — was caught red-handed (or is it yellow-fingered?) in another gaffe this week, claiming that low crime rates in border cities with lots of federal immigration workers is proof that “Communism works.”

To find out how it works, go to the link.

– Aggie

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The Left Continues To March Leftward

This would be a dog-bites-man story if it weren’t so Orwellian

In the U.S., the politics of the left versus the right rolls on with the predictability of traffic jams at the George Washington Bridge. It’s a lot of honking. Until now. All of a sudden, the left has hit ramming speed across a broad swath of American life—in the universities, in politics and in government. People fingered as out of line with the far left’s increasingly bizarre claims are being hit and hit hard.

Commencement-speaker bans are obligatory. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice withdrew as Rutgers’s speaker after two months of protests over Iraq, the left’s long-sought replacement for the Vietnam War. Brandeis terminated its invitation to Somali writer Hirsi Ali, whose criticisms of radical Islam violated the school’s “core values.”

Azusa Pacific University “postponed” an April speech by political scientist Charles Murray to avoid “hurting our faculty and students of color.” Come again? It will “hurt” them? Oh yes. In a recent New Republic essay, Jennie Jarvie described the rise of “trigger warnings” that professors are expected to post with their courses to avoid “traumatizing” students.

Oberlin College earlier this year proposed that its teachers “be aware of racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, cissexism, ableism, and other issues of privilege and oppression.” The co-chair of Oberlin’s Sexual Offense Policy Task Force said last month that this part of the guide is now under revision.

I think it’s fair to say something has snapped.

Mozilla co-founder Brendan Eich was driven out as CEO for donating money to support California’s Prop. 8. An online protest tried to kill Condi Rice’s appointment to the Dropbox board of directors over Internet surveillance. Incredibly, Dropbox CEO Drew Houston didn’t cave.

Earlier this year, faculty and students held a meeting at Vassar College to discuss a particularly bitter internal battle over the school’s boycott-Israel movement. Before the meeting, an English professor announced the dialogue “would not be guided by cardboard notions of civility.”

This gets worse and worse. Go to the link and read about the Harvard undergrad who published an article in The Crimson suggesting that we drop academic freedom in favor of social justice. And that we stop all research that doesn’t comply with her idea of social justice. And then read about the agreement that the Obama administration… never mind – I’ll post it:

It’s obvious that the far left has decided there are no longer constraints on what it can do to anyone who disagrees with it. How did this happen? Who let the dogs out?

The answer is not university presidents. The answer is that the Obama administration let the dogs out.

The trigger event was an agreement signed last May between the federal government and the University of Montana to resolve a Title IX dispute over a sexual-assault case.

Every college administrator in the U.S. knows about this agreement. Indeed, there are three separate, detailed “Montana” documents that were signed jointly—and this is unusual—by the civil-rights divisions of the Justice and Education Departments. Remarked DoJ’s Joceyln Samuels, “The government is stronger when we speak with one voice.”

That’s real muscle. But read the agreement. It is Orwellian.

The agreement orders the school to retain an “Equity Consultant” (yes, there is such a thing) to advise it indefinitely on compliance. The school must, with the equity consultant, conduct “annual climate surveys.” It will submit the results “to the United States.”

The agreement describes compliance in mind-numbing detail, but in fact the actual definitional world it creates is vague. It says: “The term ‘sexual harassment’ means unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature.” But there are also definitions for sexual assault and gender-based harassment. All of this detailed writ is called “guidance.” As in missile.

No constitutional lawyer could read this agreement and not see in it the mind of the Queen of Hearts: “Sentence first, verdict afterwards!” Indeed, the U.S. Education Department felt obliged to assert that the agreement is “entirely consistent with the First Amendment.”

First Amendment? It’s more like a fatwa. The Obama administration has issued a federal hunting license to deputize fanatics at any university in America. They will define who gets accused, and on what basis.

The White House enabled these forces again last week, releasing an Education Department list of 55 colleges that are “under investigation” for possible Title IX violations. Not formally cited but “under investigation.” The list includes such notorious Animal Houses as Catholic University, Swarthmore, Knox College, Carnegie Mellon and Harvard Law School. In truth, every school in America is effectively on the list.

And there’s more at the link. The really unfortunate thing for all of us that just want to be left alone is that there probably is no country left on earth where that can happen. If Texas secedes from the Union, I’ll join them. If they’ll have me…

– Aggie

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Amusing, True.

– Aggie

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This Is Fun

– Aggie

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Let’s Talk About 50 Years Of Welfare

George Will points out the tragedy of liberal policies

itics of Rep. Paul Ryan’s remarks about cultural factors in the persistence of poverty are simultaneously shrill and boring. Their predictable minuet of synthetic indignation demonstrates how little liberals have learned about poverty or changed their rhetorical repertoire in the last 49 years.

Ryan spoke of a “tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work,” adding: “There’s a real culture problem here.” This brought down upon Ryan the usual acid rain of accusations — racism, blaming the victims, etc. He had sauntered into the minefield that a more experienced Daniel Patrick Moynihan — a liberal scholar who knew the taboos of his tribe — had tiptoed into five years before Ryan was born.

Moynihan wrote this

A year from now, there surely will be conferences marking the 50th anniversary of what is now known as the Moynihan Report, a.k.a. “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action.” In March 1965, Moynihan, then 37 and assistant secretary of labor, wrote that “the center of the tangle of pathology” in inner cities — this was five months before the Watts riots — was the fact that 23.6 percent of black children were born to single women, compared to just 3.07 percent of white children. He was accused of racism, blaming the victims, etc.

Forty-nine years later, 41 percent of all American children are born out of wedlock; almost half of all first births are to unmarried women, as are 54 percent and 72 percent of all Hispanic and black births, respectively. Is there anyone not blinkered by ideology or invincibly ignorant of social science who disagrees with this:

The family is the primary transmitter of social capital — the values and character traits that enable people to seize opportunities. Family structure is a primary predictor of an individual’s life chances, and family disintegration is the principal cause of the intergenerational transmission of poverty.
In the 1960s, as the civil-rights movement dismantled barriers to opportunity, there began a social regression driven by the explosive growth of the number of children in single-parent families. This meant a continually renewed cohort of adolescent males from homes without fathers; this produced turbulent neighborhoods and schools where the task of maintaining discipline eclipsed that of instruction.

In the mid-1960s, Moynihan noted something ominous that came to be called “Moynihan’s scissors.” Two lines on a graph crossed, replicating a scissors’ blades. The descending line depicted the decline in the minority — then overwhelmingly black — male unemployment rate. The ascending line depicted the simultaneous rise of new welfare cases.

Hmm, let’s see if we can find Moynihan’s scissors:

3moynihanscissors

Believe it or not, that image comes from PBS. Times have truly changed.

Will’s point is that it isn’t racism – and certainly not race – that creates the dependency class, but rather a culture where this is accepted. I agree. He is also very down on single parent homes. Although I raised kids in a marriage, happily, I sure know a lot of young adults who grew up in a single parent household and did just fine. I believe that it is easier to raise kids in a two-parent environment, but I think that the collapse we’re seeing in cities like Detroit is more complex than the absence of a father in the home. I get the point that boys need male role models, but in communities where men work and behave reasonably, whether they reside with their kids or not, you don’t see that spike in criminal behavior and drug dependence. Maybe I’m just splitting hairs?

– Aggie

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