Patterico's Pontifications

1/27/2015

The Problem Of Whiteness

Filed under: General — Dana @ 6:56 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Arizona State University is offering a new class titled U.S. Race Theory and the Problem of Whiteness , the goal of which appears to be to to illustrate how white people are the root cause of all social injustices in our country. Like we didn’t already know that.

The required reading materials for the class are also no surprise: “Critical Race Theory: An Introduction” by Richard Delgado, “Everyday Language of White Racism” by Jane Hill, “Alchemy of Race & Rights” by Patricia Williams, and “The Possessive Investment in Whiteness” by George Lipsitz.

ASU released a statement explaining the class:

This course uses literature and rhetoric to look at how stories shape people’s understandings and experiences of race. It encourages students to examine how people talk about – or avoid talking about – race in the contemporary United States. This is an interdisciplinary course, so students will draw on history, literature, speeches and cultural changes – from scholarly texts to humor. The class is designed to empower students to confront the difficult and often thorny issues that surround us today and reach thoughtful conclusions rather than display gut reactions. A university is an academic environment where we discuss and debate a wide array of viewpoints.”

So, for $10,000 a year, you, too, can discover how bad white people are.

–Dana

Jonathan Chait on Political Correctness, Then and Now

Filed under: Education,General,Political Correctness — JVW @ 11:51 am

[guest post by JVW]

In the continuing effort to acknowledge those moments when our ideological opponents have a moment of sanity and allow themselves to see things from our perspective, let me bring to your attention Jonathan Chait’s interesting exploration in New York Magazine of the politically correct mania currently sweeping not just our country but by and large all of Western thought.

Chait begins the article by rehashing the familiar story of Omar Mahmood, the University of Michigan student who was kicked off of the daily campus newspaper after writing a satirical column mocking political correctness and microaggressions for a conservative campus publication. Chait, a Michigan alumnus, ties that story in to a 1992 incident at that very campus in which radical feminists influenced by law professor Catharine MacKinnon attempted to shut down an exhibition by a feminist videographer which aimed to explore the lives of workers in the sex industry. The arguments of the radical feminists 22 years ago will sound familiar to those of us up to date with the current movement to censor ideas that exist outside the narrow canon of tolerance: that being exposed to this material poses “a threat to the safety” of those students which justifies their claiming the mantle of victimhood and the corresponding right to act as censor. As Chait notes in comparing the 1992 and 2014 incidents at UM, “In both cases, the threat was deemed not the angry mobs out to crush opposing ideas, but the ideas themselves. The theory animating both attacks turns out to be a durable one, with deep roots in the political left.”

It’s a long piece and Chait weaves in several different pieces of evidence, from protests against campus speakers to the Obama-Clinton primary battle of 2008 to Charlie Hebdo. He traces the journey of politically correct totalitarianism from the rarefied and dopey mores of academia to the hive-like communities that have developed on social media. Those who are judged to be insufficiently deferential to the oppression suffered by the victim group du jour are routinely hassled, bullied, and threatened on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other platforms popular with a young audience that is susceptible to mindless conformity in the name of social popularity.

But Chait also makes a very keen observation regarding another reason for why we are now hearing of so many instances of the left enforcing PC orthodoxy. As Chait writes, “Every media company knows that stories about race and gender bias draw huge audiences, making identity politics a reliable profit center in a media industry beset by insecurity.” At the same time success breeds imitators, so every interest group that manages to browbeat its critics into submission is an enticement for another interest group to attempt the same. This leads to an unacceptable situation that Chait neatly summarizes:

Political correctness is a term whose meaning has been gradually diluted since it became a flashpoint 25 years ago. People use the phrase to describe politeness (perhaps to excess), or evasion of hard truths, or (as a term of abuse by conservatives) liberalism in general. The confusion has made it more attractive to liberals, who share the goal of combating race and gender bias.

But political correctness is not a rigorous commitment to social equality so much as a system of left-wing ideological repression. Not only is it not a form of liberalism; it is antithetical to liberalism. Indeed, its most frequent victims turn out to be liberals themselves.

Of course, Chait being Chait, he later has to let loose with a paragraph of nonsense designed to remind everyone that hey, he’s a good lefty too, not one of those awful reactionary rightwingers:

Political correctness appeals to liberals because it claims to represent a more authentic and strident opposition to their shared enemy of race and gender bias. And of course liberals are correct not only to oppose racism and sexism but to grasp (in a way conservatives generally do not) that these biases cast a nefarious and continuing shadow over nearly every facet of American life. Since race and gender biases are embedded in our social and familial habits, our economic patterns, and even our subconscious minds, they need to be fought with some level of consciousness. The mere absence of overt discrimination will not do.

Get that? “The mere absence of overt discrimination will not do.” Why shouldn’t we read that to mean that Chait is suggesting that it’s not enough if I am cordial to Al Sharpton and treat him in a way that is honest and fair; unless I eventually come to see things his way I cannot truly be considered to be a “good person.” What else could Chait possibly mean with his blandishments about a nefarious and continuing shadow and biases embedded in our subconscious minds other than the tired claim that unless you vote Democrat you are a racist.

That aside, this is by and large an honest and worthy exploration of a rather illiberal phenomenon that has been cultivated, protected, and advanced for far too long. One can only hope that more thinkers on the left – especially members of those cherished victimized groups – will join him in opposing the mindlessness of enforcing cultural orthodoxy. Again, it’s a long read, but the full article is worth the while. Read the comments too, if only to get your daily allotment of self-regarding leftists who make the “our opinions are the only moral ones, so it is perfectly fine for us to censor your amoral deviations from proper thought” argument that we have all come to know.

- JVW

Can the Government Spy on Your License Plate? And . . . Can You Turn the Tables?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:55 am

At first I wasn’t going to write about the Wall Street Journal story titled U.S. Spies on Millions of Drivers. (It “raises new questions about privacy and the scope of government surveillance”!! Call the Pulitzer committee!!!!) But then I saw another story that provided an ironic little twist that makes this a fun topic.

The Justice Department has been building a national database to track in real time the movement of vehicles around the U.S., a secret domestic intelligence-gathering program that scans and stores hundreds of millions of records about motorists, according to current and former officials and government documents.

I realize it’s more satisfying to be an extremist, always taking a position on the same side, whether it be civil liberties or security. But this really is one of those “on the one hand, on the other hand” type of situations. (Which is why I was lukewarm on writing the post at first. But just wait!)

On the one hand, the central government (I’m going to try to stop using the word “federal” because it’s not really federal) is growing in all sorts of ways that the Founding Fathers never envisioned. It’s hard not to see the truth in the statement of the ACLU spokesguy in the WSJ story when he says: “Any database that collects detailed location information about Americans not suspected of crimes raises very serious privacy questions.” I don’t trust Barack Obama or many of the political hacks working for him not to misuse such information.

On the other hand, the information is collected through plate readers. I know from personal experience that plate readers perform valuable functions. I have used them in a murder trial, to challenge the defendant’s claim that he had sold the car used in the murder before the murder occurred. (Oh yeah? Then why was it seen parked outside your home more than once in the weeks and months after the murder? Oh.) And just this past weekend I spoke to a man whose car was stolen, and was located within 3 days by a plate reader.

I’m not going to go as authoritarian as Jazz Shaw at Hot Air, whose argument is that you abandon all privacy the second you walk out the door. For one thing, Shaw’s premises are not all sound. (Shaw says: “Your movements out of doors are already tracked by numerous security cameras, ATMs and stop light monitors. That information is useful in numerous situations where police are trying to apprehend criminals, though it is somewhat different when the cameras belong to private businesses and citizens. In those cases the government must (and should) obtain a warrant to get hold of the footage.” No. Police almost always get that information through the consent of the camera owner.) Moreover, the “going out in public utterly eliminates your expectation of privacy” argument failed to carry the day in the Supreme Court decision about devices tracking cars (although, to be fair, the argument wasn’t really addressed because the Court said there was an invasion of private property in placing the device on the car).

Shaw also says that this is “precisely what we need given the current climate in the nation.” Well, on the one hand, the “current climate” is always what the government uses to justify further privacy intrusions. But, on the other hand (here goes Patterico again) police need to collect information to protect the public and solve crimes. We already trust the government with a lot of sensitive information (the government knows your license plate number, and look at everything you give to the IRS!) so this hardly seems like a super-scary step.

But here’s another story that puts it all in perspective, at the L.A. Times: Google to police: Waze app can’t ‘track’ officers’ movements:

Real-time traffic app Waze’s police spotting feature is a deterrent for dangerous driving, not a tool that can “track” police officers, Google officials said in response to concerns from the Los Angeles police chief.

In a Dec. 30 letter to Google, which acquired Waze in 2013, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck wrote that by pointing out police locations, the app compromises officer safety, according to a copy of the letter obtained by The Times.

. . . .

The police-spotting feature allows users to drop an icon on a map indicating the rough location an officer was spotted, but it cannot “track” them or give an exact location, she said.

I realize that LAPD is not the central government, and I also think that Beck’s concerns are not entirely misplaced given the recent attacks on officers.

And yet, there is a certain irony here, is there not? In one story, the authorities are saying that law enforcement can use technology to compile information on citizens based on public observations — and in another story, the authorities are trying to prevent citizens from using technology to compile information on law enforcement based on public observations.

I could have made this post a lot punchier by simply noting that irony and foregoing all the nuance, I guess. (Apparently I suck at blogging.)

But I think the juxtaposition shows the true way out for civil libertarians. You’re probably not going to prevent the government from using technology to spy on you. But they’re probably going to have a hard time keeping you from doing the same thing to them.

That is, unless you give them control of the Internet through something like “Net Neutrality.” (We need Net Neutrality “given the current climate in the nation” of out-of-control ISPs! Trust us!!) Then government will able to do anything it wants.

The FCC’s Net Neutrality vote happens next month.

1/26/2015

India Appalled at Obama’s Latest Gum-Chewing Episode

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:42 pm

No class whatsoever.

More here.

Rand Paul on Romney Candidacy: “No, no, no!”

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:59 am

Rand Paul says “no, no, no!” to a Mitt Romney candidacy:

As recently as October, Ann Romney was poo-pooing the notion of a third Mitt Romney candidacy. After two failed presidential bids, in 2008 and 2012, she and her husband had “moved on,” she told ABC News.

Though sources close to Mitt Romney recently announced he’s once again “thinking about” another bid for the White House, at least one of Romney’s GOP colleagues thinks Ann Romney had the right idea.

“I’m with Ann Romney on this one: No, no, no, no, never,” Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., told ABC News’ Jonathan Karl at a forum of three likely 2016 presidential candidates in Palm Springs, California, Sunday night.

Romney “would have made a great president,” added Paul, rumored to be considering his own White House bid. “But to win the presidency you have the reach out and appeal to new constituencies. And I just don’t think it’s possible.”

I’m with Ann Romney and Rand Paul on this one.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post went to a conference on secession in Houston for the purpose of writing a “Ron Paul is still crazy and he’s Rand Paul’s dad!” piece.

I’ll start with the fact that the writing in the piece is atrocious. A sentence just trails off with no punctuation at the end:

At the same time, Ron, 79, has embraced a role as libertarianism’s prophet of doom, telling his supporters that the United States is headed for catastrophes — and might actually need catastrophes to get on the right track

A word is missing from another:

Ron Paul’s solution, it appears, is to invite more calamity so that Americans are forced realize that the system is broken.

Brion McClanahan’s name is misspelled:

“If Texas wanted to secede and they wanted to join Mexico, I think they can do that. There’s nothing stopping them,” said Brion McLanahan, another speaker.

But if you look deeper, the hatchet job premise of the article is also clear. I may disagree with Ron Paul on foreign policy, but he is dead-on when it comes to secession. The states have the right to engage in it, and I made some of the arguments in this post about splitting New York in two, and this one about Scotland’s vote for independence.

One of the benefits of the vote on Scottish independence is that it helps re-establish a common-sense principle: a smaller political unit is allowed to choose whether to break away from a larger one. Nobody really thinks twice about the concept that Scotland was allowed to decide for itself whether to remain part of the United Kingdom. If they wanted to stay (and they did), fine. If they wanted to break away — well, that would have been fine too.

But if anyone suggests that a state should have the right to vote to break away from the United States, that person is necessarily Certifiably Insane.

That’s the premise of the WaPo article, and it’s typical hackery. The press will continue to try to embarrass Paul by misportraying his dad’s positions — just as they did to Ted Cruz. (Debunking the Cruz nonsense is beyond the scope of this post, but I have listened to the actual remarks and they were misreported. Don’t worry; this will come up again, and I’ll blog it then.)

I know, I know. Big Media being hacks. What else is new?

But we have to keep pointing it out. Every time.

State Deptartment: Religion Had Nothing To Do With Execution Of Japanese Citizen By ISIS

Filed under: General — Dana @ 6:47 am

[Guest post by Dana]

As we have already observed, the White House has steadfastly refused to use the “I” word. This in spite of other world leaders citing “radical Islam” as being linked to the current wave of terrorist attacks throughout the world as well as the continuing executions by the Islamic State.

This weekend, in yet another act by a member of the Washington Theater of the Absurd, a top State Dept. official claimed there was “nothing religious” about the execution of a Japanese citizen held hostage by ISIS. Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Rick Stengel made the comment as he condemned the execution of Haruna Yukawa:

Of course Stengel is following the lead of the White House. After the attacks in France, the White House claimed it would be “inaccurate” to use the phrase “radical Islam” with regard to terrorists.

This weekend at Davos, Kerry again pushed the company line, explaining that by using “radical Islam” instead of “violent extremism” the barbarians might get mad at us:

“We have to keep our heads,” Kerry said. “The biggest error we could make would be to blame Muslims for crimes…that their faith utterly rejects,” he added.

“We will certainly not defeat our foes by vilifying potential partners,” the top U.S. diplomat said. “We may very well fuel the very fires that we want to put out.”

Further:

Kerry referred to the terrorists as “nothing more than a form of criminal anarchy–nihilism, which illegitimately claims an ideological and religious foundation.”

Kerry said it is not appropriate to use terminology referring to Islam because the terrorists are ignorant individuals with ulterior motives that distort the religion.

As a counterpoint to the administration’s careful avoidance of certain terminology, former Wall St. Journal reporter and Muslim Asra Q. Nomani, who has faced death threats for criticizing Islam and fighting for reforms, explains why it’s vital to frame the debate correctly. Nomani writes about the “ghairat brigade,” an organized group that powerfully bullies and publicly labels as “Islamophobes” any pundits, journalists, public figures and individuals who dare to criticize or challenge Islam. No one is too big or too small to be a target of this campaign. With a strong online presence and being “coordinated, frightening and persistent,” their goal is to protect the image of Islam before the world as well as force critics to back down and refrain from suggesting or discussing any links between Islam and jihad or terrorism. And it is chillingly effective:


Bullying this intense really works. Observant members of the flock are culturally conditioned to avoid shaming Islam, so publicly citing them for that sin often has the desired effect. Non-Muslims, meanwhile, are wary of being labeled “Islamophobic” bigots. So attacks against both groups succeed in quashing civil discourse. They cause governments, writers and experts to walk on eggshells, avoiding important discussion.

Silencing the critics.

Nomani points to Obama:

Next month, the Obama administration will hold a conference on challenging violent extremism, and President Obama last year called on Muslim communities to “explicitly, forcefully and consistently reject the ideology of al-Qaeda and ISIL.” But his administration isn’t framing extremism as a problem directly tied to Islam. Last month, by contrast, Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi acknowledged that there was an ideology problem in Islam and said, “We need to revolutionize our religion.”

When I heard Sissi’s words, I thought: Finally.

–Dana

1/25/2015

Jessie Gallan, 109: The Secret To A Long Life Is No Men

Filed under: General — Dana @ 5:52 pm

[guest post by Dana]

So, what’s the secret to a long, long life? According to Scotland’s oldest living woman, 109-year old Jessie Gallan, it’s fairly simple:

‘My secret to a long life has been staying away from men. They’re just more trouble than they’re worth.

‘I also made sure that I got plenty of exercise, eat a nice warm bowl of porridge every morning and have never gotten married.

Gallan also has a positive outlook on life:

I’ve never had to depend on anybody. I’ve had my ups and downs, many. But I’m thankful.

I read that news of Gallan’s no-men-allowed code resulted in some fun jabs at misandry:

But of course, that’s not what real misandry looks like. This is:

Screen Shot 2015-01-25 at 5.34.03 PM

And with all due respect, I so disagree with Ms. Gallan’s view on men. Frankly, I think they are more than worth all that trouble!

–Dana

1/24/2015

Young Woman Forced To Undergo Chemotherapy Against Her Will

Filed under: General — Dana @ 2:44 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Cassandra C, as she is known, is a 17-year old girl with cancer. She was given an 85-90% chance of recovery with chemotherapy treatment for Hodgkins lymphoma, one of the most treatable forms of cancer. However, Cassandra did not want chemotherapy, believing it was “poison.” Her mother, Jackie Fortin said Cassandra believed chemo would not just kill her cancer, but “everything in her body” as well. Fortin stood along side Cassandra in her decision not to undergo chemo treatment:

“[These] are her human constitutional rights to not put poison in her body,” Fortin said. “Her rights have been taken away. She has been forced to put chemo in her body.”

After losing an appeal to the Connecticut Supreme Court, Cassandra is now being compelled by the state to undergo chemotherapy:

The state’s highest court reviewed the case under an emergency appeal filed by attorneys representing Cassandra and her mother, taking up an issue previously decided by several other states – whether some minors are mature enough to make decisions about their own bodies.

On Thursday, the judges decided that Cassandra is not mature and will continue to receive chemotherapy. She turns 18 in September, a year after her cancer diagnosis.

“Connecticut Children’s respects the decision provided by the Supreme Court this afternoon. Now that a ruling has been issued, we will continue to work with the Department of Children and Families in providing care for this child,” said Bob Fraleigh, director of corporate communications at Connecticut Children’s.

In an op-ed written by Cassandra, she describes the whole ordeal as “horrifying”:

Words cannot describe what my life has become over the last few months. “Horrifying” seems like an understatement. What I have been going through is traumatizing. Never did it cross my mind that one day I would be diagnosed with cancer. In September, after a stressful summer of blood work, examinations and biopsies, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

My mom and I wanted to make sure my diagnosis was correct, so we agreed to seek a second opinion. We wanted to be 100 percent sure I had cancer. Apparently, going for the second opinion and questioning doctors was considered “wasting time” and “not necessary.” My mom was reported to the Department of Children and Families for medical neglect because we weren’t meeting the doctors’ time standard.

As a result, DCF put Cassandra into foster care. She was permitted to return to her own home after promising authorities that she would begin chemotherapy. She underwent treatment for two days, quit and ran away in order not to be forced to put something into her body that she did not want. Fearing authorities would assume her mother was refusing to disclose her whereabouts (which her mother did not know) and perhaps be jailed, Cassandra returned home. And once again she was picked up by DCF. Her ordeal was not over, far from it:

In December, a decision was made to hospitalize me. I didn’t know what was going to happen, but I did know I wasn’t going down without a fight.

I was admitted to the same room I’m in now, with someone sitting by my door 24/7. I could walk down the hallway as long as security was with me, but otherwise I couldn’t leave my room. I felt trapped.

After a week, they decided to force chemotherapy on me. I should have had the right to say no, but I didn’t. I was strapped to a bed by my wrists and ankles and sedated. I woke up in the recovery room with a port surgically placed in my chest. I was outraged and felt completely violated. My phone was taken away, the hospital phone was removed from my room and even the scissors I used for art were taken.

I have been locked in this hospital for a month, missing time from work, not being able to pay my bills. I couldn’t celebrate Christmas and New Year’s with my friends and family. I miss my cat and I miss fresh air. Having visitors is complicated, seeing my mom is limited, and I’ve not been able to see all of the people I’d like to. My friends are a major support; I need them. Finally, I was given an iPad. I can message my friends on Facebook, but it is nowhere near like calling a friend at night when I can’t sleep or hearing someone’s voice to cheer me up.

This experience has been a continuous nightmare. I want the right to make my medical decisions. It’s disgusting that I’m fighting for a right that I and anyone in my situation should already have. This is my life and my body, not DCF’s and not the state’s. I am a human — I should be able to decide if I do or don’t want chemotherapy. Whether I live 17 years or 100 years should not be anyone’s choice but mine.

How long is a person actually supposed to live, and why? Who determines that? I care about the quality of my life, not just the quantity.

At the heart of the issue is the question of when a minor is mature enough to make medical decisions for themselves. While 17 other states have the “mature minor” doctrine, Connecticut does not. The courts did not believe Cassandra or her mother proved Cassandra capable of making life and death decisions:

The state Supreme Court order argues that Cassandra, along with her mother, had a chance to show that she was a mature minor and did not do so. It also says that even if you presume the mature minor doctrines can be considered in Connecticut, Cassandra and her mother failed to prove she is “capable of acting independently” when it comes to her illness and treatment. (The court cites the fact that Cassandra ran away from home for a time and stopped her treatment as a part of this finding).

And then there is the ambiguity and seeming inconsistency about a set age defining maturity:

The existence of age-related laws and requirements creates a certain gray area. Does a person who is one week shy of turning 21 change dramatically over the ensuing week before being deemed mature enough to drink alcohol? It is tough to argue that a mere matter of days represents enough time for incredible change to occur for each and every person governed by these laws. There are also exceptions to the rules that exist. You typically have to be 25 to rent a car, but in some states younger drivers can rent a car if they are willing to pay an additional fee.

Interestingly, abortion for minors in Connecticut is legal and does not require parental consent or notice. There is, however, a requirement for minors under 16 to receive counseling beforehand, which must include the possibility of informing parents.

–Dana

Bellicheat #Shrinkage

Filed under: General — JD @ 2:25 pm

[guest post by JD]

The Patriots would be better served if they would quit holding press conferences.

Apparently, the atmospheric conditions were unique to their sidelines.

What it seems like is they settled on a position that they don’t think anyone will be able to refute, or that they will be able to offer a narrative that casts a shadow of a doubt on a particular part of the process. And, they think you are stupid.

Let us recap – the rule requires the footballs to be between 12.5-13.5 psi. At halftime, 11/12 of the Patriots balls were at least 2 psi under regulation, 10.5 psi or lower. Brady stated he prefers his at 12.5. It is unquestioned that it is easier to throw, catch, and hold at lower inflations. It was suspect in at least 2 prior games that their footballs were under inflated, the Colts in the regular season and Ravens in the playoffs. Brady, who knows he prefer balls at 12.5 psi would have you believe he couldn’t notice a 16% reduction below regulation.

Whether or not they broke the rule is utterly and completely unrelated to their slaughtering of their opponents. Right now, they would have you believe that the coach, who has a history of cheating, and the QB who has the balls worked to his preferences, had no knowledge whatsoever. None. But something happened to their that did not happen on the other side of the field.

I am not a scientist, but apparently the temp in the room and then the temp outside could effect this? I know it does on bike tires. Could someone figure out what temperature they would have had to been inflated to 12.5 psi at so they would drop to 10.5 psi at 49 degrees, the game temp? I think yo have to convert to Kelvins?

Go!

PS – The more they talk the more convinced I am that they are lying.

—-JD

Flashback: Obama on Patriotism

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:32 am

Obama, 2008:

On the American flag lapel pin, Obama said, “When we start getting into those definitions of patriotism, that’s a debate I’m happy to have, because I will come right after them.”

Obama said he would argue that the GOP is “a party that presided over a war in which our troops did not get the body armor that they needed or [sent] troops over who were untrained because of poor planning, or are not fulfilling the veterans benefits that these troops need when they come home, or [are] undermining our constitution with warrantless wiretaps that are unnecessary.

“That is a debate that I am very happy to have,” Obama added. “We’ll see what the American people think is the true definition of patriotism.”

Obama’s record on providing care for veterans, and on maintaining citizens’ privacy, is unblemished: he has done neither.

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