Government/Media Lying about Syria?

Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson suffered embarrassment recently when he couldn’t answer a question about “Aleppo,” a place of conflict in Syria. But maybe Johnson should be cut some slack, because it seems that very few Americans understand the issues in Syria’s civil war. Moreover, that lack of understanding is attributable in large part to misleading reports put out by the government and its myrmidons in the news media. The American media, argues Stephen Kinzer, paints an image of Syria almost diametrically opposed to the facts on the ground.

COVERAGE OF the Syrian war will be remembered as one of the most shameful episodes in the history of the American press.

Washington-based reporters tell us that one potent force in Syria, al-Nusra, is made up of “rebels” or “moderates,” not that it is the local al-Qaeda franchise. Saudi Arabia is portrayed as aiding freedom fighters when in fact it is a prime sponsor of ISIS. Turkey has for years been running a “rat line” for foreign fighters wanting to join terror groups in Syria, but because the United States wants to stay on Turkey’s good side, we hear little about it. Nor are we often reminded that although we want to support the secular and battle-hardened Kurds, Turkey wants to kill them. Everything Russia and Iran do in Syria is described as negative and destabilizing, simply because it is they who are doing it — and because that is the official line in Washington.

The U.S. government supports the rebels and depicts them as the good guys, but in reality they act more like the bad guys, particularly in Aleppo.

For three years, violent militants have run Aleppo. Their rule began with a wave of repression. They posted notices warning residents: “Don’t send your children to school. If you do, we will get the backpack and you will get the coffin.” Then they destroyed factories, hoping that unemployed workers would have no recourse other than to become fighters. They trucked looted machinery to Turkey and sold it.

This month, people in Aleppo have finally seen glimmers of hope. The Syrian army and its allies have been pushing militants out of the city. Last week they reclaimed the main power plant. Regular electricity may soon be restored. The militants’ hold on the city could be ending.

This does not fit with Washington’s narrative. As a result, much of the American press is reporting the opposite of what is actually happening. Many news reports suggest that Aleppo has been a “liberated zone” for three years but is now being pulled back into misery.

Kinzer attributes the media’s distorted reporting to “financial pressure.”

Under intense financial pressure, most American newspapers, magazines, and broadcast networks have drastically reduced their corps of foreign correspondents. Much important news about the world now comes from reporters based in Washington. In that environment, access and credibility depend on acceptance of official paradigms. Reporters who cover Syria check with the Pentagon, the State Department, the White House, and think tank “experts.” After a spin on that soiled carousel, they feel they have covered all sides of the story. This form of stenography produces the pabulum that passes for news about Syria.

Kinzer fails to note, however, another source of financial pressure on the media. The media is today owned by large corporations that depend on government for regulatory favors, thus creating an incentive for the media to curry favor by serving as the government’s stenographers.

So it would seem we’re being lied to. But don’t worry about it. Just go back to talking about the important issues, like Tom Brady’s deflategate suspension, or how Donald Tump ‘fat-shamed’ a beauty contestant 20 years ago.

The Malevolent Sexism of Madame Hillary

Several people at school today asked me if I watched the presidential debate last night. I had to tell them that I did not, because I could not bear to watch. Then I noticed the following meme floating around the internet, and thought the part in quotes could not be a real quote.

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I had to check to see of the quote was real and, sure enough, there it was on the website of CNN, the Clinton News Network.

Let’s analyze the implications of this statement, while it’s still legal under the emerging matriarchy to do so.

Suppose person A does a better job than person B.

According to Hillary Defarge, if A is a man and B is a woman, it is wrong to pay A more than B.

But what if we reverse the sexes, so that A, who does the better job, is a woman, and B is a man? Is it still wrong to pay A more than B? If so, then Madame Bihn’s position is that everybody should be paid the same regardless of how good a job they do. But that makes no fucking sense.

The only remaining alternative is that Empty Pantsuit believes it’s ok to pay somebody more for doing a better job only if that person is a woman. The implication is that, in a given job, at least some women could be paid more than all the other men, but no man could be paid more than even one woman, regardless of how hard the man worked. The most productive man couldn’t be paid more than the least productive woman.

In other words, she believes in a labor market that actively privileges women and discriminates against men.

And if men because of this discrimination can’t earn enough to support a family, well then, the women can just support themselves or they and their children can just be supported by the state, right? Men are obsolete.

I haven’t seen anybody calling out Candidate Cronyism on her statement, and news sites report the quote as if it’s just normal political rhetoric. Maybe it’s normal in the current post-America, but I’m old enough to remember that such rhetoric wasn’t normal in America.

The feminization of what’s left of this country is getting way out of hand. American men have got to pry their eyes away from Sportsball and wake the fuck up.

Krugman is Always Wrong, An Endless Series

Paul Krugman, Nobel prizewinner, and Hero of the Republic, July 23, 2016.

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The Guardian, September 26, 2016.

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Murders in the US rose 10.8% last year, the biggest single-year percentage jump since 1971, according to data released Monday by the FBI.

The rising violence was driven by an increase in the murders of black men, and by an increase in the number of gun murders. At least 900 more black men were killed in 2015 than in 2014, according to FBI data.

There were roughly 1,500 additional firearm murders in 2015.

“chart ends in 2013, but no significant change since”

A Tale of Two Universities

A welcome display of academic integrity occurred recently at the University of Chicago, where the Dean sent all incoming students a letter in defense of free speech.

The University of Chicago won’t condone so-called safe spaces or trigger warnings on campus, the dean informed incoming freshmen this week amid a growing national conversation about free expression at colleges and universities.

“Once here you will discover that one of the University of Chicago’s defining characteristics is our commitment to freedom of inquiry and expression,” read the letter from Dean of Students John “Jay” Ellison, sent Wednesday as part of the Class of 2020’s welcome package. “Members of our community are encouraged to speak, write, listen, challenge and learn, without fear of censorship.”

As a result, Ellison wrote, “we do not support so-called ‘trigger warnings,’ we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual ‘safe spaces’ where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own.”

Ellison told incoming freshmen the university expects its students to debate and disagree, even if “at times this may challenge you and even cause discomfort.”

Hear, hear.

Unfortunately, however, not everyone in academia agrees with Dean Ellison’s support of free speech. In fact, at U. Chicago’s crosstown rival Northwestern University, the president of the university called people who share Dean Ellison’s viewpoint “idiots” and “lunatics.”

During a speech to new students Monday, University President Morton Schapiro blasted critics of safe spaces and trigger warnings on college campuses.

“The people who decry safe spaces do it from their segregated housing places, from their jobs without diversity — they do it from their country clubs,” Schapiro said. “It just drives me nuts.”

What the heck do country clubs have to do with the issue of campus speech? Sounds like an ad hominem argument, which educated people know to be a logical fallacy.

Schapiro acknowledged the ongoing debate about college students being “coddled” and not resilient enough. Calling people who deny the existence of microaggressions “idiots,” Schapiro said he clearly remembers every microaggression he has experienced.

Microaggressions “cut you to the core” and aren’t easily forgotten, he said.

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Schapiro also criticized those who “conflate” the use of trigger warnings with undermining the First Amendment, saying students should be warned about potentially traumatic content, such as the Holocaust or lynching of black people.

“If they say that … you shouldn’t be warned to prepare yourself psychologically for that, that somehow that’s coddling, those people are lunatics,” Schapiro said.

Isn’t there a certain irony in President Schapiro arguing that we all have to walk on eggshells and avoid even looking at someone for two seconds too long lest we commit a ‘microaggression,’ while at the same time he freely hurls epithets like ‘idiot’ and ‘lunatic’ at those who disagree with him?

And by the way, besides Chicago’s dean, guess who else has been critical of trigger warnings.

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So according to Schapiro, Obama must be a lunatic.

Who’s the real lunatic, I wonder.

May Chicago and Northwestern each recruit the students they deserve.

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Ithaca Students Make Demands, Then Don’t Show Up

Last fall, Ithaca College was rocked by student protests demanding that the school do more about–what else?–“diversity.” So in response, Ithaca created Diversity and Inclusion Discussion Circles, scheduled to meet periodically this fall. The problem, however, is that only faculty and staff have been showing up to these shindigs–no students.

The goal was to create a space for individuals from different backgrounds at the college to come together and discuss issues of race and inclusion…However, a lack of participation from the student body has disappointed those involved. Virgilio Pinto, Interlibrary Loan lending coordinator, is a more recent regular attendee of these meetings and said he has also noticed the absence of students.

“The group is open to students, faculty and staff,” said Pinto. “But unfortunately, we haven’t seen many students at these meetings.”

And by ‘not many’ he means ‘zero.’

At the Sept. 4 meeting, out of approximately 30 participants, none were students. The following week at the Sept. 11 meeting, there were fewer members present and still no students.

Seems that sitting around talking is not as exciting to students as marching around outside and yelling and issuing demands. But we know they are VERY SERIOUS people.

Gotta love also the euphemistic terms the staff use to describe the sessions.

“This group cares about making the college better,” Voorhees said. “I think one of the more important ways it is doing that is taking the taboo out of talking about race.”

“It is a space for learning and sharing and growing, for whoever attends,” Pinto said. “There is a rewarding frankness that comes out in such spaces where people can be open about their learning journeys.”

Sure, open up. No taboos. Say whatever you want! About race. At a college. Let a thousand flowers bloom!

And if anyone was a professor, student, doctor, Angkor needs you. Angkor has forgiven all the past.

 

Homeless 1, Homeland Security 0

The Department of Homeland Security employs tens of thousands of highly-paid bureaucrats whose job is allegedly to protect the American people from terrorism. All those fancy-pants employees with defined-benefit pensions, however, couldn’t manage to stop the recent bombings in New Jersey and New York, even though the suspected terrorist’s father warned the FBI two years ago. “Keep an eye on him,” the father says he told the FBI. But instead of keeping an eye on him, the bureaucrats did what bureaucrats do: conducted a perfunctory investigation, then dropped the matter.

On Sept. 12, 2014, the F.B.I. returned and told the father that his son had been cleared of any connection to terrorism, and on Sept. 19, the review was formally closed.

The FBI closed the investigation, even though the father’s warning was not the first time the feds had been alerted to the suspect’s suspicious activities.

Five months earlier, in March 2014, when he returned from a nearly yearlong trip to Pakistan, Mr. Rahami was flagged by customs officials, who pulled him aside for a secondary screening. Still concerned about his travel, officials notified the National Targeting Center, a federal agency that assesses potential threats, two law enforcement officials said.

And so Rahami is accused of having planted several bombs, one of which injured 31 people. There might have been many more casualties if two homeless men hadn’t found one of the bombs and wisely alerted authorities.

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So there you have it. The homeless did more to protect Americans than did all the fancy-pants time-servers at the Department of Homeland Security.

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The Country’s in the Best of Hands

John Hinderaker of Power Line had a post yesterday lamenting the deporable quality of America’s contemporary ruling class. Hinderaker’s motivating example was the recent news that former congressman Anthony Weiner was caught sexting a girl he knew to be just 15 years old. Weiner is not just a former congressman, he is married and has a child with Huma Abedin, who is Madame Hillary’s closest confidante. Weiner’s sordidness caused Hinderaker to draw some generalizations about the state of the country’s ruling class.

The political class is not superior to the rest of us, morally or intellectually. Their pretensions are bogus. Therefore, we should give them less money and less power over our lives.

Personally, I had more or less the same feeling today when I read a report that America’s current CIA Director, John Brennan, in 1976 voted for America’s mortal enemy.

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CIA Director John Brennan voted for the Communist Party candidate in the 1976 presidential election.

Brennan told a congressional panel last week that he “froze” while taking a CIA polygraph test four years later when the questioner asked him if he had ever worked with or for a group that was “dedicated to overthrowing the U.S.,” CNN reported.

“This was back in 1980, and I thought back to a previous election where I voted, and I voted for the Communist Party candidate,” Brennan said at a panel discussion regarding diversity in the intelligence community during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s annual conference.

Someone had asked whether experience in political activism could harm someone who later attempts to obtain a security clearance. Brennan said the CIA is committed to upholding the values of the Constitution.

“We’ve all had indiscretions in our past,” he said. “I would not be up here if that was disqualifying.”

Brennan said he decided to acknowledge his vote for Communist Gus Hall, the Communist Party USA’s four-time presidential candidate, when undergoing the lie detector test.

Well, 1976 was a very long time ago, and Brennan at the time was a very young man. But if you’re old enough to cast a legal ballot, you’re old enough to know what you’re voting for. At that time, the U.S. was engaged in a multi-decade, life-and-death, twilight struggle with the Soviet Union to determine the fate of the world. Gus Hall was an agent of the Soviet Union who received funding from Moscow. Hall was a thug who, if he had his way, would have subverted the U.S. Constitution, and extinguished American freedom and the rule of law. In short, Hall was the enemy, and Brennan voted for him.

Brennan and the media are dismissing this news as merely a youthful indiscretion. But I was old enough to vote for Hall when he ran again in 1988, and I didn’t know anybody my age or otherwise who would have entertained the thought of voting for him. In fact, a guy I knew who was in the College Republicans got a black eye in a fight with one of Gus Hall’s bodyguards. That guy was a little bit crazy, but I can identify with him more than I can with John Brennan. Where the hell do these people in government come from?

At PJ Media, Ron Radosh, who has written several books on communists and communism, argues that “in a sane world” Brennan would not have been hired at CIA. But after all, Brennan is not nearly the highest official in DC with a dubious past.

Consider America’s current Secretary of State, John Kerry. Back during the Vietnam war, Kerry traveled to Paris and without the knowledge or consent of the U.S. government, met with Madame Binh, a top representative of America’s communist enemy. Kerry then returned to the U.S. and argued publicly that America should adopt Madame Binh’s “peace plan,” which would have essentially amounted to an American surrender in the war.

Then there’s the case of America’s current Commander in Chief, a man whose early political mentor was an unrepentant domestic terrorist.  The terrorist held a fundraiser at his home in order to help the young Barack Obama launch his political career. Another mentor of Obama’s was the notorious communist poet, Frank Marshall Davis.

In his 1995 book, Dreams from My Father, Barack Obama never discussed the identity of the mysterious “Frank” who had given him important advice on growing up black in what was described as a white racist world. We learned in 2008 that “Frank” was Frank Marshall Davis, a member of the Communist Party who was the subject of a 600-page FBI file.

If Obama weren’t elected by the American people, he probably could never have gotten a security clearance to work in the federal government.

Hoping to follow in Obama’s footsteps is Madame Hillary. Her reckless and willful mishandling of classified documents probably should have resulted in a criminal indictment, but at the very least, it makes her utterly unworthy of a security clearance. But the American people might elect her anyway.

Security clearances, apparently, are only for the little people.

Truly, America is in the best of hands.

The Smug Idiocy of Juicebox Journalists

So Donald Trump Jr. put out a tweet that caused a lot of people to feign outrage. In particular, the juicebox journalists at Vox saw an opportunity to mock Trump Jr. and make him look like an idiot. Now, I don’t worship at the altar of Donald Trump Jr., or Donald Trump Sr. for that matter. But I’m not impressed with Vox’s attempted take down.

Here’s what Trump Jr. tweeted.

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And here’s Vox’s response:

A report released last week by the Cato Institute measured the risk to Americans posed by refugees. The report found that an American’s chances of being killed by a refugee in a terrorist attack in any given year are 1 in 3.64 billion. America’s murder rate — at 4.5 per 100,000 capita — is about 163,800 times higher.

As the Washington Post’s Philip Bump points out, adhering to Trump’s analogy, a bowl with three deadly Skittles (refugees) in it would need to contain 10.93 billion Skittles. Bump calculated this to be the equivalent of 1.5 Olympic-size swimming pools full of the candy. This would equate to a bowl of Skittles roughly 246 feet long, 123 feet high, and 9 feet deep.

Below, Vox graphics editor Javier Zarracina has depicted what that bowl would look like. Donald Trump Jr. (6-foot-1) is included for scale, along with the original bowl in his tweet.

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Trump Jr.’s bowl is a metaphor. Everybody knows that metaphors are not to be taken literally. That’s why they’re called ‘metaphors’ and not ‘statistics.’ To pretend that somebody’s metaphor was intended to serve as a statistic is not intellectually honest and just plain bad sport.

But in any event, Vox in its attempt at literalism has misinterpreted Trump Jr.’s analogy. The bowl is intended to represent a population of Syrians (or people claiming to be Syrian refugees), the three deadly skittles are the terrorists among that population, and the handful taken from the bowl are the Syrians granted entry to the U.S. as refugees. The three skittles in a bowl therefore, represent the proportion (not to be taken literally) of terrorists in the population from which refugee migrants are drawn.

The ‘1 in 3.64 billion’ figure that Vox imposes on the analogy, however, represents something completely different. That figure is not the proportion of terrorists in a specific population but rather the probability that a typical American, in a year, will be killed in a terrorist attack carried out by a refugee. ‘Three in a bowl’ and ‘1 in 3.64 billion’ are ratios of different things; one refers to terrorists among a population of refugees or potential refugees, the other deaths among a population of Americans. In attempting to use literalism to show that Trump Jr. is “completely wrong,” Vox has literally gotten their own analogy wrong.

Furthermore, Cato’s ‘1 in 3.64 billion’ statistic is fatuous. Cato arrived at this figure by looking at how many Americans were killed by foreign born terrorists who entered the United States with a refugee visa. Over the last 41 years, they found only 3 Americans killed. The reason why the figure is so low is because most terrorists in the past have used means other than refugee visas to enter the country. So the nearly 3,000 killed on 9/11/2001 don’t enter the figures, because the terrorists who carried out that attack entered the United States with student visas, not refugee visas.

The fact is that for most of those 41 years, the U.S. did not take in very many refugees, and those that did come were mostly not from parts of the world plagued by terrorism. So yes, Vietnamese boat people who arrived in the 1970s did not engage in terrorism against Americans. What Cato is assuming is that since the Vietnamese didn’t engage in terrorism, Syrians and Afghans and Somalis won’t either. That’s a pretty heroic assumption.

The 3 deaths in the entire Cato database occurred in the bombing of the Boston Marathon. That bombing was carried out by refugees from Chechnya. Now, the number of Chechens in the U.S. is very small. But bringing in even a relatively tiny number of Chechen refugees got the Boston Marathon blown up. If Cato computed a rate of terrorism for specifically Chechen refugees, the rate would look pretty high.

Cato found only the three Americans killed, but they didn’t count killings by second-generation refugees who were born in the U.S. As a result, they didn’t count this summer’s Orlando nightclub shooting that killed 49 people. But by all means, Vox, let’s continue to take literally that figure based on just three deaths.

Cato confined its focus to just those three deaths in the U.S., but Europe would provide more examples of refugee terrorism.

Loose screening of refugees, lax counter-terrorism policies and lenient treatment of those with terrorist links or sympathies has led to a spate of attacks by terrorists already flagged by authorities. Tuesday’s attack in France, where a jihadist already under house arrest slit a priest’s throat, came just two days after a suicide bombing in Germany by a terrorist who a medical expert had predicted would “commit suicide in a spectacular fashion.” Critics say such cases are piling up.

Germany is reeling from a fresh wave of terrorism this month, including the Ansbach attack and another July 18, in which Mohammed Riyad took an ax to passengers on a Bavarian train, yelling “Alahu Akbar” as he injured five. Riyad claimed to be from Afghanistan, but authorities now believe he may be from Pakistan, and lied to have a better chance at asylum.

There are currently 59 ongoing investigations of refugees because of the “suspicion that they are involved in terrorist structures,” according to Germany’s interior ministry.

The Cato figure of 1 death in 3.64 billion is absurd on its face. The figure implies that a country of 310 million people would experience only .085 deaths per year, or one death every 11.7 years. That’s the sort of estimate you obtain when you assume that 3 deaths in 41 years represents a rate that can be projected into the future.

In the U.S., just this past weekend we saw a Somali refugee go on a knifing spree at a Minnesota shopping mall, and an Afghan refugee arrested on suspicion of planting a series of bombs in New Jersey and New York City. It’s very fortunate that no one was killed in those attacks, but dozens were sent to the hospital.

Does anybody really believe that the U.S. can take in hundreds of thousands of additional refugees from the Middle East, with ISIS actively seeking to infiltrate Western countries, and expect only one death from terrorism every 11.7 years?

I’m willing to put up $10,000 of my own money that, if the refugee flow continues, we’ll see more than one death in the next 11 years. Any takers? Cato? Vox? I officially challenge them to take up the bet.

Exit question: At what point do the Voxers stop pretending to be journalists and decide what they’re going to be when they grow up?

Guns Don’t Kill People…

…people kill people. The correlation across countries between gun ownership and homicides is actually negative; more guns, fewer homicides, on average. See the world map below.

One exception to the rule is the U.K., where the homicide rate is low and a virtual ban on handguns means that gun ownership is also low.

But is the U.K.’s gun ban responsible for the low homicide rate? History suggests not, because the U.K. already had a low homicide rate well before the gun ban.

Prior to recent decades, Britons actually enjoyed relatively free access to guns. In fact, during the Victorian era, guns, drugs, and prostitutes were all perfectly legal and readily available. This is known as Peak Civilization.

One hundred years ago, New York actually had stricter gun laws, known as Sullivan Laws, than London did. But despite New York’s strict laws and London’s loose laws, the homicide rate was much higher in New York than in London. In fact, following the enactment of the Sullivan Laws in 1911, New York’s homicide rate increased by 18 percent.

As John Lott likes to point out, there is no recorded instance in world history of a nation decreasing its homicide rate by imposing gun control.

An example that gun control advocates often cite is Australia, which implemented a massive gun buyback in 1996, and then saw its homicide rate decline for years afterward.

It’s not clear, however, that we can ascribe the decline in Australia’s homicide rate to gun control, because even before the buyback, the country’s homicide rate was already declining. Furthermore, during the same time period, the homicide rate in the United States experienced a decline similar to Australia’s, despite the fact that U.S. gun laws during this period were liberalized, with ‘shall issue’ permits for concealed carry becoming available in nearly every U.S. state.

There are two major reasons why gun control does not reduce homicide. First, gun laws tend to disarm only the law-abiding people, while leaving the thugs armed.

Second, if people really want to kill, they’ll find a way even without guns. During the Rwandan genocide of 1994, the Hutu majority murdered over 500,000 of the Tutsi minority using mostly machetes and clubs. A lot of those Tutsies might have been saved if only they’d had some guns.

When guns were scarce in South Korea and gangsters wanted to take out a guy with a hit job, they would use a samurai sword.

The only people who benefit from gun control are criminals and politicians (but then I repeat myself).

Criminals like gun control because it disarms their victims.

Politicians like gun control for the same reason.

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