Archive for Culture

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– Aggie


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– Aggie


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:


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


¿Quien es Mas Macho?

I wrote recently about conservatives looking beyond politics to the culture of the country for impact and change. I cited Glenn Beck’s recent comments, as well as Mark Steyn’s.

Rush Limbaugh, too, has recently published two children’s books on American history to correct the corrosive effect of liberalism on young skulls full of mush.

Keep writing, Rush.


In a very competitive field, Seth Meyers is making a strong case that he is the most liberal host in the late night game.

Like a little girl having Justin Bieber over for a tea party, Meyers slobbered over MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow during her appearance on his “Late Night with Seth Meyers” Wednesday morning.

“You’re like basically my dream woman,” the NBC host gushed at one point.

Doesn’t a “dream woman” have to be, you know, a woman?

Isn’t that Pajama Boy (aka Ethan Krupp)?

Of course, the next time I watch Seth Myers will be the first. I’ll get right to it—right after I watch every Seth Rogen film and every Family Guy (Seth MacFarlane) episode.

PS: And purchased a Seth Aaron Henderson design.

PPS: And reset every Seth Thomas clock.


Culture Wars Again

When I read Glenn Beck said this:

“I said when I left Fox that this half of my career is going to be shaped more by Walt Disney than anything else,” he says.

His interest in Disney is symbolic of the shift in his attention and efforts toward culture and away from politics. He had a realization: “Culture is the lead. That’s the dog. The news is the tail.”

He pulls out a piece of early publicity on Disneyland, points to a paragraph, and reads aloud. “Disneyland will be based upon and dedicated to the ideals, the dreams, and the hard facts that have created America and it will be uniquely equipped to dramatize these dreams and facts and send them forth as a source of courage and inspiration to all the world.” Beck, known to burst into tears at a moment’s notice, looks like he might do so right now. “That’s what we’re gonna do,” he declares. “That’s how I intend on impacting culture. To do that.”

And then Mark Steyn wrote this:

You can’t have conservative government in a liberal culture, and that’s the position the Republican party is in. After the last election, I said that the billion dollars spent by the Romney campaign on robocalls and TV ads and whatnot had been entirely wasted, and the Electoral College breakdown would have been pretty much the same if they’d just tossed the dough into the Potomac and let it float out to sea. But imagine the use all that money and time could have been put to out there in the wider world. Liberals expend tremendous effort changing the culture. Conservatives expend tremendous effort changing elected officials every other November — and then are surprised that it doesn’t make much difference. Culture trumps politics — which is why, once the question’s been settled culturally, conservatives are reduced to playing catch-up, twisting themselves into pretzels to explain (including in the pages of this magazine) why gay marriage is really conservative after all, or why 30 million unskilled immigrants with a majority of births out of wedlock are “natural allies” of the Republican party.

I am compelled to pause and think.

I don’t necessarily buy into everything Steyn says—I think gay marriage can be conservative, for example, in that two adults of the same sex committing to each other before God and man, often to raise children, fits the conservative model of the family more than a single woman who tries to go it alone (or aborts her unborn child). Conservatism can change with the times, and the times are significantly less hostile to gay people, and even gay marriage, than just a few years ago.

But I do buy the larger part. How can the Right win elections (except as a reaction to failures on the Left—see 2010 and 2014, I hope) when its vision of a healthy society is so at odds with what popular culture is selling? Cutting the budget may be fiscally prudent (necessary, even), but what about school breakfasts? We no longer expect parents in some districts to give breakfast to their kids (lunch was lost long ago), so are they supposed to go to school hungry? What about unemployment insurance? Even liberal economists (even Paul Krugman!) acknowledge that paying people not to work discourages them from working. But do you want them to starve? Black women may be slaughtering their unborn children at genocidal rates (in the case of “Dr.” Keith Gosnell, literal slaughtering), but do you expect them to have babies they can’t care for?

The culture weighs the pros and cons and makes its decisions. We live in a culture that prefers dead black babies to ones born to unfit mothers; that would rather not insist people work even when they can; that would rather schools play mommy and daddy, rather than, you know, mommy and daddy. Like a parallel universe, it’s hard to picture the world any different.

Yet this is at odds with one of Rush’s observations: that Obama remains more popular than any of his policies. He preaches “immigration reform” (amnesty) when few people care, and most of those who do oppose it. He wants to elevate “climate change” from the last place finish it ranks in polls of national concerns. He won’t get off the pot on the Keystone pipeline, when most people see the benefit. And he force-fed us ObamaCare. At least on some political issues, Obama, not conservatives, is at odds with the culture. Once Obama is gone, things may look more balanced (if it’s not too late).

I am more drawn to the Tea Party end of the Republican Party than its mainstream—give me more Ted Cruz, less John Boehner. Not because I believe everything Cruz believes, but because he believes in something. Whatever the Left believes in is diseased and corrupt. That has to made manifest to a nation of “low information voters”.


It Happened In Oregon, But It Could Have Happened In Many Other Places

All the ingredients of a horror movie: teenagers, box cutter, crow bar, swastika…

Three Portland, Oregon, teens are accused of luring a classmate into a shed, hitting him in the head with a crowbar, shooting him with a BB gun — and then using a box cutter to carve a swastika into his forehead.
“There is no understanding what they did,” Kelli Murrain, the victim’s mother, told CNN affiliate KPTV. “Roll it around in your head and you just go, ‘Oh my God.’ For the grace of God I could have lost my youngest son.”
The incident took place February 10, police say.
On Wednesday, authorities charged the teens with kidnapping, robbery, assault and menacing.
The suspects — Jenna Montgomery, 15, Blue Christian Kalmbach, 15, and Jess Taylor, 17 — have been charged as adults and were being held on nearly $3 million bail each.
A 14-year-old, also accused of taking part, will be tried as a juvenile.
According to court documents, Montgomery told police detectives that she was the “bait” to lure the 16-year-old victim, Dustyn Murrain, to the shed where the alleged assault took place.
The teens were after the victim’s skateboard and cash, according to a probable cause affidavit.
All of them are students at David Douglas High School.

If you want to see the perpetrators, go to the link.

I have to say, Portland is an odd place. They are foodies there – some of the best food you’ll ever taste. Great coffee. Very, very pretty. But Moonbatty? Oh Lord, Yes! The most incompetent computer-dooters in the world, evidently. And strange violence too. Still, the title of this post is true. It could have happened in other places, I suppose.


Poland Is Nothing But A Graveyard

“We are a graveyard for the Jews!” they chant

Is Poland doing enough to combat overt displays of anti-Semitism by rabid soccer spectators? A major American Jewish organization doesn’t think so.

The Anti-Defamation League on Wednesday called on the Polish authorities to reverse a decision by prosecutors not to bring forth charges against fans of the Lech Poznan soccer club who were heard making anti-Semitic chants during a September match against Widzew Lodz.

The ADL cited local media reports which claimed fans chanted “Move on, Jews!” and “Your home is at Auschwitz!” among other incendiary remarks.

Polish prosecutors declined to pursue criminal charges after determining that the chants were directed at Lodz players in the heat of a sporting battle, and were not intended to harm Jews in general.

“[Poznan municipal prosecutor Monika Rutkowska’s] twisted reasoning cannot stand,” said ADL chief Abe Foxman. “Anti-Semitic incitement is illegal in Poland, and these chants are clearly anti-Semitic.”

What a cesspool.

– Aggie


You Tell ‘Em, Camille!

On gender differences, life, and the effete academy.

This is funny and so true. The only thing that ruins it for me is in the midst of making one logical and oh-so-true point after another, she casually admits voting for Obama! What?! That proves that the level of rot in our culture is so pervasive that even people who absolutely see it for what it is still jump into the cesspool.

‘What you’re seeing is how a civilization commits suicide,” says Camille Paglia. This self-described “notorious Amazon feminist” isn’t telling anyone to Lean In or asking Why Women Still Can’t Have It All. No, her indictment may be as surprising as it is wide-ranging: The military is out of fashion, Americans undervalue manual labor, schools neuter male students, opinion makers deny the biological differences between men and women, and sexiness is dead. And that’s just 20 minutes of our three-hour conversation.

It give you a taste of her comments on education:

Ms. Paglia argues that the softening of modern American society begins as early as kindergarten. “Primary-school education is a crock, basically. It’s oppressive to anyone with physical energy, especially guys,” she says, pointing to the most obvious example: the way many schools have cut recess. “They’re making a toxic environment for boys. Primary education does everything in its power to turn boys into neuters.”

A key part of the remedy, she believes, is a “revalorization” of traditional male trades—the ones that allow women’s studies professors to drive to work (roads), take the elevator to their office (construction), read in the library (electricity), and go to gender-neutral restrooms (plumbing).

She proudly recounts her battle, while a graduate student at Yale in the late 1960s and early ’70s, with the New Haven Women’s Liberation Rock Band over the Rolling Stones: Ms. Paglia loved “Under My Thumb,” a song the others regarded as chauvinist. Then there was the time she “barely got through the dinner” with a group of women’s studies professors at Bennington College, where she had her first teaching job, who insisted that there is no hormonal difference between men and women. “I left before dessert.”

BTL, this one’s for you:

Politically correct, inadequate education, along with the decline of America’s brawny industrial base, leaves many men with “no models of manhood,” she says. “Masculinity is just becoming something that is imitated from the movies. There’s nothing left. There’s no room for anything manly right now.” The only place you can hear what men really feel these days, she claims, is on sports radio. No surprise, she is an avid listener. The energy and enthusiasm “inspires me as a writer,” she says, adding: “If we had to go to war,” the callers “are the men that would save the nation.”

Everyone should read this at the link. She’s just great.

– Aggie

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Why Was Martin Bashir Permitted To Resign?

Why didn’t MSNBC fire him?

Just over two weeks ago, MSNBC host Martin Bashir delivered a harsh piece of commentary that culminated in the suggestion that someone should “s-h-i-t” in former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin‘s (R-AK) mouth. Bashir offered an abject apology on his next broadcast, but a chorus of critics continued to demand action against the host. After a reported “vacation” for the host earlier this week, Bashir announced, in a statement to Mediaite Wednesday afternoon, that MSNBC and Martin Bashir are parting ways.

Here’s the statement to Mediaite, from Martin Bashir, via email:

After making an on-air apology, I asked for permission to take some additional time out around the Thanksgiving holiday.
Upon further reflection, and after meeting with the President of MSNBC, I have tendered my resignation. It is my sincere hope that all of my colleagues, at this special network, will be allowed to focus on the issues that matter without the distraction of myself or my ill-judged comments.
I deeply regret what was said, will endeavor to work hard at making constructive contributions in the future and will always have a deep appreciation for our viewers – who are the smartest, most compassionate and discerning of all television audiences. I would also wish to express deepest gratitude to my immediate colleagues, and our contributors, all of whom have given so much of themselves to our broadcast.’

MSNBC released Bashir’s statement, plus the following statement from MSNBC President Phil Griffin:

“Martin Bashir resigned today, effective immediately. I understand his decision and I thank him for three great years with msnbc. Martin is a good man and respected colleague – we wish him only the best.”

Seriously, why is it ok to suggest that someone piss and shit into a woman’s mouth, just because she has the gall to be a conservative woman? Why is this ok? Why did it take this long for him to go, and why was he allowed to resign?

– Aggie

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Nice Kid Kills Teacher, Wounds Two Students

He was a good kid.

No one knows why he picked this day, this time, these victims.

It was the first day back from fall break at Sparks Middle School. Students milled about, waiting to hear the morning bell.
Within moments, two 12-year-old students were wounded. A beloved teacher and military veteran lay dead. And the young shooter — armed with his parents’ gun — took his own life, silencing any way of understanding what he was thinking.

Before Monday morning, the gunman seemed like the antithesis of a school shooter.
“He was really a nice kid,” schoolmate Amaya Newton said. “He would make you smile when you were having bad day.”

Yes, dear, but what happens when he has a bad day? Hmm?

I don’t know about our readers, but I experienced bullying from time to time. As did my kids. And I’ll be you and yours. Because it is part of life. And guess what? We didn’t pick up guns and kill people. What restraint!! We all deserve medals, clearly. Clearly. What in the heck is wrong with this culture? We are barking mad. First, because there is so much media violence, and so little parental involvement, that kids can’t figure out the difference between angry fantasies and permanent reality, and second because we then claim he was “a nice kid” – just like the Boston Bomber, who was apparently delightful and popular and never bullied – and don’t forget that it is all the fault of outside, unseen characters – Dick Cheney will do. The gun lobby. Whatever.

We need to look in the mirror. We need to take responsibility for our own behavior.

And that is the rant of the morning.

– Aggie


Airport Security, ObamaCare And YOU

I recently had the opportunity to attend a great wedding in New Orleans. Fabulous city, we should all just drop everything and hang out in New Orleans. Seriously. Why spend time in the Somber North when you can listen to great music and eat wonderful food? Think about it.

But that’s not the reason I’m writing this post, not at all. Instead I wanted to share a realization I had in the airport returning home. The security line stretched to Mobile, Alabama, and our flight was leaving in an hour. I asked someone working there if we were going to miss it. “I don’t know,” she said with a perky smile. They are very, very nice in the South, and somehow even bad news is ok. But then, through our blurry eyes, my husband and I noticed that we were somehow “preferred” or somehow very special people. I sought out the same perky lady and showed her the tickets, the very special tickets. “Oh, you just move along beside the line, up to the front, then.” So we did. And had a leisurely cup of coffee and boarded the plane in the first or second batch. We sat in the cattle car section, but we made it.

So, here’s my advice. Become Special. Make enough money, contribute some to political thugs, use the right credit card, attend the right political event… whatever it is. And you too can move to the front of the line. Because missing a plane is no big deal, but you do want a good doctor when you need one.

Do you like the clarinet?

– Aggie


People Are Not Always Rational?

Say it ain’t so!

This is a topic near and dear to my heart. Most of us grew up assuming that the world would be a better place as education, medical advances, and economies grew, as our generation took over and introduced more compassion, darn it all!

Nina Munk admired him, too. In 2006, she was commissioned by Vanity Fair to write a profile of him. She shadowed him for months as he launched the Millennium Villages Project, a bold experiment that would use a handful of African villages as his test cases. She was so inspired that she even thought of giving up journalism to join the cause. Instead she decided to write a book. “I wanted to write about Africans who live in extreme poverty,” she explains. “I wanted their stories to be heard.” Above all, she told her publisher, she wanted to write a story of hope.

The story she wound up writing is quite different. The Idealist: Jeffrey Sachs and the Quest to End Poverty is a devastating takedown of Mr. Sachs’s technocratic fantasies. It is essential reading for anyone who thinks that brilliant people with the right interventions can save the world.

The Millennium Villages Project was pitched as the most promising idea to come along in years. The aim was to smother the selected villages with help and jump-start them into self-sufficiency. The villages wouldn’t get just schools and health clinics. They’d get schools, health clinics, fertilizer, bed nets, water, food, roads, and instruction in agriculture and entrepreneurship. Mr. Sachs hoped to have 1,000 villages by 2009. He was convinced the models would be so successful that the world would be morally forced to fund the expansion of his plan throughout Africa. He was fuelled by the profound conviction that the world can be changed for the better – and that he was right and everybody else was wrong.

What he forgot was the human factor. It turns out that people are not always rational. They don’t always do what’s in their own best interests, even when the benefits are completely clear to a development economist.

Take bed nets. The greatest plague in Africa is malaria, which is spread by mosquitoes, and bed nets treated with insecticide are a great way to tackle the scourge of malaria – theoretically. But there are big logistical problems, including distribution, looting, and costs. And even if you solve those, there’s no guarantee that people will use them for the purposes intended. Sometimes they use them to protect their goats, or to catch fish. The trouble is that malaria is so prevalent that a lot of people treat it as an inevitable fact of life. Years of social marketing campaigns to promote the use of bed nets have scarcely made a difference.

I could be snarky here, but I won’t. I completely understand why Sachs thought he could help and why so many people tried. What else is there to do? It is very difficult, at any age, to observe suffering and to just shrug it off. But unfortunately, for reasons we might never understand, some people, some entire cultures, just don’t want our “help”. What we see as horror – high childhood mortality rates, disease, extreme poverty – they apparently see as just normal life.

At every turn, Mr. Sachs’s master plan was undermined by culture. In the remote Kenyan village of Dertu, which is located in a vast and arid borderland dominated by Somali camel-herders, the planners decided to set up a local livestock market so that the herders wouldn’t have to travel to a far more distant market. The market flopped. Why? Because Somali nomadic pastoralists don’t think like us. To them, time isn’t money, and spending three or four days trekking to the distant market was no big deal. Also, as Ms. Munk writes, the whole concept of selling their livestock is antithetical to Somali values. The more camels they have, the richer they feel. “Somalis hoard camels, even when it makes no good economic sense to do so.”

In Dertu, Jeffrey Sachs was revered as the Great Professor. But gradually it became clear that even he didn’t have all the answers. As Ahmed Mohamed, the local Millennium Fund project manager, sighed, “What can we do? We cannot enforce. We try to explain. We want to empower. But no one can come and change them if they do not want to change themselves.”

Does that sound like your grandfather or what?

Ok, a teeny, tiny bit of snark. I have a friend from South Sudan who explained to me that in his village culture, cattle = wealth. The more cattle, the wealthier. If little ‘ol me understood it within the past few years, why can’t the professors of the world get it? There is a listening problem, perhaps. Because they know that they are “right” on almost any metric, they assume that people will jump at the opportunity to join modernity. But there are powerful forces preventing that. Think gravity.

– Aggie

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