Category Archives: People Who Lack Self-Awareness

Martin Bashir Isn’t Even a Competent Leftist

Everybody on the right is talking about MSNBC Ranting Head Martin Bashir’s enraged Palin-bashing from the other day, but nobody seems to see the key point. ICYMI and don’t want to watch any Martin Bashir clips (smart choice!), here’s the teapot tempest: In a speech explaining the burden our enormous public debt places on future taxpayers, Sarah said that we in the here-and-now were, in a sense, imposing slavery on our children. Bashir went off on a self-righteous rant about how very awful it was (ignorant, too!) for her to trivialize true slavery by comparing it to a heavy tax burden. While righties focus on the nasty things he called for Sarah to be subjected to, and lefties focus on reassuring themselves that they’re so very much smarter than Caribou Barbie, nobody seems to be aware of the fact that this sort of “slavery” simile is practically a verbal tic among far leftists.

Let’s start with the First Lady of Socialism, Emma Goldman, who wrote: The only difference is that you [people who work for wages] are hired slaves instead of block slaves.

Too far in the past? OK, then, how about Noam Chomsky? What they call wage slavery … was not very different from chattel slavery.

Indeed, so great is the readiness of hard-core lefties to deploy the term “wage slavery” that Communpedia* posts this warning in big, bold font: Comrades: be careful with the use of this term because it can be dismissive of the actual experience of slaves. Sadly, polemics aren’t as easy as they used to be in these days of Dangerous Metaphors, not even the ritualistic bashing of greedy capitalists  exploiting their workers by offering them mere money in exchange for their sweaty-browed toil.

Now, the term “wage slavery” truly is dismissive of the actual experience of slaves, for the simple reason that voluntary labor contracts were precisely what slaves aspired to. It’s a hideous inversion of truth and a grotesque offense to the memory of the enslaved to assert an equivalence between the situation they sought to escape and the one they hoped to attain through emancipation. So if Martin Bashir were really as outraged by the use of stupid slavery analogies as he claims to be, he could find enough material from his fellow lefties to fill a week’s worth of air time with denunciations. I’ll be sure to tune in if he decides to do that.

But Sarah Palin deserves no such denunciation for comparing taxation without representation to slavery. Her point was that the people who’ll have to pay off the huge debt burden we keep incurring now are mostly not able to vote on this policy, either because they’re below the voting age or haven’t even been born yet. Palin’s simile forces us to see the common aspect of both actions, namely the taking of wealth from one group of people without their consent. This does not dismiss the evil of slavery; rather, it uses slavery’s universally recognized immorality to get us to recognize the moral aspect of massive public debt.

It turns out that Chomsky has used the “slavery” analogy in this sense, too:

Chomsky went on to add that some people in Germany, who want to have anything of value in Greece, are “imposing conditions of economic slavery and psychological pressure on the Greeks.”

Pretty clearly one of the rules of engagement the left insists on is, All slavery references belong to us. Equally clearly, Sarah Palin is once again using the lefties’ tactics against them, which reliably makes them howl in outrage. Funny stuff, really, when viewed in the proper light.

Of course, Martin Bashir’s rises to the bait so spectacularly that he reveals himself to be a standout idiot even among his fellow idiots on the left. But you probably knew that already, if in fact you’d ever heard of him before.

 

*I have no idea why there’s no “i” between “Commun” and “pedia”. Seriously comrades, is meter just too bourgeois a part of style for you?

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Filed under Freedom, People Who Lack Self-Awareness, Sarah Palin, TV

Jasmine Rand, Social Engineer

During an interview with Greta van Susteren, one of the Trayvon Martin family’s lawyers described herself like this:  “I have a greater duty beyond being an attorney, and that’s to be a social engineer.”

There, in one brief, clear sentence, is both a description of why the US has drifted so far from being a constitutional republic and who’s fundamentally responsible. No, not the near-nullity who is Jasmine Rand, but the legal profession in general and elite law schools in particular, which seem to have the same view of themselves as Ms. Rand. So let’s use her as a case in point.

Jasmine Rand received her undergraduate education at the University of Georgia, where she majored in African American Studies and Political Science. She then attended Florida State, where she got her law degree. Now, I have no doubt that these are both fine programs, but I do not believe that they can possibly provide the educational training necessary to “engineer” a society as complex as the US. In fact, about all that one could really hope to learn about social engineering in the course of four years of college is that it’s impossible at best and fatal to millions at worst.

Consider all the things a minimally competent social engineer must know reasonably well. First of all, she’d have to know lots of actual engineering, just to figure out how to build and maintain roads, bridges, harbors, tunnels, airport control towers, and all the other parts of our infrastructure. She’d also have to figure out how to pay for all that stuff, and so would need to know a lot about the economic effects of taxes–which are much more complicated than the laws written to put them into place. Then, of course, she’d have to know a lot about statistical inference, so that she could read and evaluate all those studies of the impact of guns on crime. Mere scanning of the news, where she’d notice that lots of people get killed by guns, would be grossly insufficient for a social engineer.

And there’s lots more our social engineer has to know. Nutrition (gotta figure out what every kid in America should be eating), physiology (how much should we exercise?), medicine (how many more lives could be saved by getting more people to become doctors?), and on and on. Ethics, too: whose life is worth saving?

This should all be daunting enough to dissuade any reasonable person from even aspiring to be a social engineer, let alone proclaiming to be one. But Jasmine, and I daresay too many other lawyers, are not dissuaded. How did it happen that so many have confused the ability to impose laws with the ability to dictate outcomes? How did they come to acquire this pretense of knowledge about a set of problems that have humbled great scholars who’ve devoted their lives to their study? I don’t claim to know, but I’d like to. I’m guessing it has something to do with a particular interpretation of John Rawls, but I don’t really know.

What I think I do know is that the temptation to engineer a society makes one far too willing to harness the darker forces of human nature in order to achieve the goals the engineer sees as proper. Fear, envy, and hatred seem to have worked pretty well at getting people to do what El Jefé wants them to do. Of course, outright lies are also an important part of the mix. In the Zimmerman case, they’ve been essential to the persecution. On the other hand, the rules of evidence and the presumption of innocence have always been annoyances to angry mobs in possession of the “truth”. So it’s truly frightening to see the forces of the state–from Seminole County to the State of Florida to the US Department of Justice–encouraging an angry and ignorant mob. But it’s probably not frightening at all to those who fancy themselves social engineers.

So in a way that she does not intend, Jasmine Rand is right. She embraces the tactics of a social engineer. Maybe that’s what she learned in school.

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Filed under People Who Lack Self-Awareness, Social Justice

Manti Te’Obama

Serious journalists everywhere are talking about the complete failure of their sportswriter colleagues to verify any aspect of Notre Dame football star Manti Te’o’s heart-rending story of the loss of his lovely girlfriend to leukemia. Only a couple of wannabe reporters at Deadspin bothered to fact-check his claims, and found that the “girlfriend” was an imaginary amalgam of tweets from one of Te’o’s best buds and pics of a woman known to that bud.

As weird as Te’o’s tale is, what’s even weirder is the bafflement of the “news” media over it. Here is  the question that puzzles them: How can it be that professional journalists failed to fact-check the inspirational stories told to them by a charismatic guy from Hawai’i? Why didn’t they try to find the relevant official certification? How could they not have discovered that his “girlfriend” was a composite figure rather than an actual person?

Yeah. Where in the world could sports reporters have possibly gotten the idea that it was unfair, and probably racist, to question the narrative of a person of ethnicity? I hope one of those smart J-school professors can figure this one out.

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Filed under Barack Obama, Media, People Who Lack Self-Awareness

Obama Voter of the Day

Meet Lindsey Stone, a vulgar lardass from Plymouth, Massachusetts.

As an understandably unmarried female under 35 who lives in one of the bluest of blue states, she’s almost certainly one of the idiots who finds meaning in her sad little life by falling in line for Barack Obama.

Among the many concepts she’s clearly unclear on is “speaking truth to power.” Also “gratitude.”

In case you’re wondering how someone gets to be this completely fucked up, I think it may have something to do with having a moron for a father.

Stone’s father, Peter, told NewsCenter 5 Tuesday that she is upset and remorseful and that the photo does not reflect her values.”Lindsey called and told me how full of regret she was that this all went down, it was just a spur of the moment total lapse of judgment. She’s very sorry that she offended anybody,” said Peter Stone.

The only appropriate comment from him would be, “I’m ashamed to have unleashed a stupid bitch like Lindsey on America. I deeply apologize to the widows and orphans of those soldiers who gave their lives so that dipshits like me could marry fools like my wife and breed ungrateful cretins like Lindsey. I am reading up on seppuku and plan to take appropriate action.”

As for me, I will only add that this is one case in which I would be delighted to pay for a strange woman’s birth control.

UPDATE: The HuffPo crowd thinks the outrage at Ms. Stone’s brand of humor has gone too far. Why, people are calling her nasty names!

Here’s what I say to them: Remember how you reacted to that Chik-fil-A guy when he said he supported “traditional marriage”? You went ballistic, and organized boycotts of Chik-fil-A franchises owned by people who had never uttered a word about marriage. I wonder what the response would’ve been if that guy had posted a photo of himself flipping off this.

Remember when Rush Limbaugh made a “bad joke” about Sandra Fluke’s sexual mores? More calls for boycotts of his sponsors. You see, that’s exactly like demanding that Lindsey Stone be fired. The left, having politicized as much of everyday life as it can, now cries “foul” when the rest of the world behaves in exactly the same way.

Too bad.

Your beloved leader ran a campaign based on nothing but demonizing the opposition and whipping up fear and resentment. Now you’re getting the tiniest inkling of the type of society your politics are bringing on.

As far as whether Stone should be fired, that’s of course entirely up to her employer. But she works at a place that helps adults with disabilities live independently. I don’t know how many of them are veterans, but I can’t imagine any vets (or spouses of vets, or children of vets, or friends of vets) are going to be too happy about getting visits from her.

 

UPDATE: Lindsey and her pal who took the infamous pic now have lots of free time to experience the thrill of looking for work in the Obama economy. I hear that Applebee’s may have some 28-hour-a-week positions available. Think of the ironic possibilities!

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Filed under Barack Obama, Freedom, People Who Lack Self-Awareness

Fascism, Harvard Style

A professor of religion (and Indian Studies, and Law) with the Dickensian name of Diana Eck has successfully gotten her colleagues on the Faculty of Arts & Sciences to give the boot* to a summer-school instructor.

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*Technically, the FAS voted to delete from the summer-school catalog the two courses taught by this person, but their sole motive was to prevent the guy from teaching at their fair university. So I say they fired him.

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Before I go on to the substance of this case, I invite you to re-read my opening sentence. Prof. Eck is presumably a very busy person. After all, she’s got to remain up-to-date on the latest developments in three quite different fields of scholarship. On top of that, she’s got the extra burden of serving as co-Master of Lowell House, the most la-di-da of Harvard’s upperclass residence halls**. IOW, Diana Eck has a lot on her plate. So why in the world did such a busy and important person give a shit about who teaches economics in Harvard’s summer school? I mean, the guy she worked hard to get fired was teaching Quantitative Methods in Economics and Business, in addition to a course on Economic Development in India and East Asia. As far as I’m aware, nothing in Diana Eck’s extensive scholarly pursuits involves expertise in either statistical or economic analysis, so it’s amazing that she’s managed to become so well informed in those areas as to be able to evaluate anyone’s competence to teach those two courses. This Diana Eck person is amazing!

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**No doubt by pure happy coincidence, Prof. Eck’s co-Master, Dorothy Austin, who is her Partner, rocketed from the relatively obscure  position of Associate Professor at lowly Drew University to an appointment as a Harvard University Chaplain, Associate Minister at Memorial Church in Harvard Yard, and Lecturer in Psychology and Religion. I am sure that this appointment, which followed Eck’s appointment at Lowell House, had nothing whatsoever to do with lobbying by Professor Eck.

Well, maybe sure isn’t quite the right word here. Or maybe “sure” is fine, and the problem is the “nothing whatsoever” part.

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It turns out that the only amazing thing about Ms. Eck is her resemblance to Harvardians of the 17th Century such as Cotton Mather. But instead of witches, she’s determined to rid Cambridge of anti-jihadists.

This resolute enemy of free expression has no particular complaint about the way Subramanian Swamy has taught economics in the ten years that he’s been a summer-school instructor at Harvard. Indeed, there’s little doubt that she’s utterly incompetent to judge Swamy’s performance. But that doesn’t seem to matter, because she’s not complaining about his teaching; she’s complaining about his political opinions. But she’s not claiming that he’s inflicting his political opinions on his Harvard students. Oh, no. She’s complaining about the opinions he expressed in an opinion column in an Indian newspaper. She finds his opinions simply de trop, because as part of a five-part strategy for fighting back against jihad, he proposed that India announce an eye-for-an-eye policy with respect to the destruction of Hindu temples by radical Islamists. Eck’s outrage reveals her to be either someone so fucking stupid that she doesn’t understand the concept of deterrence in strategic planning (Swamy did not advocate pre-emptive action, but retaliatory action), or someone so far gone in her devotion to “pluralism” that she does not even comprehend the threat India faces from radical Islam. Either way, her opinions in this matter ought to count as much as mine–which is to say, not at all–when it comes to pruning the summer course offerings in economics at Harvard.

Oh, for sure Ms. Eck would rather this had all been done without fanfare. In fact, she actually expressed her disappointment that the Economics Department declined to do the dirty work for her:

“We’re not in the business of trying to publicly shame or disparage Subramanian Swamy,” Eck said in an interview Sunday. “I think many of us imagined that this would be taken up by the Economics Department, and they would quietly drop these courses or find someone else to teach them.”

To their credit, the Economics faculty declined to do Eck’s bidding. But she found a group of willing accomplices in the general faculty. Accomplices, BTW, who are shielded from any criticism of their reprehensible vote by a convenient codicil in the rules they impose upon themselves:

Under FAS rules, faculty members who speak at faculty meetings may not be identified, cited, or quoted without their express permission.

As is true of so many fascists, the thugs who populate Harvard’s faculty are cowards as well as bullies.

They say that every cloud has a silver lining, and that seems true even in this sordid affair. The precedent that the execrable Eck has worked so hard to establish may prove convenient in the future:

Eck was one of forty faculty members who signed a letter to University President Drew G. Faust and Summer School Dean Donald H. Pfister requesting that Harvard reconsider its appointment of teachers who “detract from the reputation of the university.”

Now, Harvard aspires to be known throughout the world as a bastion of free inquiry and speech. The very same body that delisted Mr. Swamy’s classes has promulgated free-speech guidlines that state:

Because we are a community united by a commitment to rational processes, we do not permit censorship of noxious ideas. We are committed to maintaining a climate in which reason and speech provide the correct response to a disagreeable idea. (h/t FIRE)

As a direct result of Prof. Eck’s jihad against Mr. Swamy, Harvard’s reputation as a redoubt of free expression has taken a major hit. Anyone who performs a google search right now with the keywords “Harvard free speech” will encounter critical stories about the Swamy case as the first eight links. Harvard’s faculty may be oblivious to the implications of the Swamy case, but the rest of the world is not.

It follows that Prof. Eck has severely “detract[ed] from the reputation of the university” to a far greater extent than did Mr. Swamy. Indeed, she’s done a double disservice to Harvard, since it is her obsessive pursuit of him that has spread awareness of his views as well as hers. By the very standards she has insisted upon, Prof. Eck’s classes should be excised from the regular course catalog. And then her employment (as well as her bff’s employment) should be terminated.

If that doesn’t happen–or if Harvard doesn’t reverse itself–then I’ll have to conclude that it’s just as dominated by religious zealots whose goal is to oppress the rest of us as it was at its founding. Because this is a complete no-brainer for any institution committed to free inquiry and expression.

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Filed under Freedom, People Who Lack Self-Awareness

Let Us Now Praise Trader Vic

OK, so the high tide of Trader Vic’s was probably back in the first half-dozen years after the end of WWII. And sure, it’s not exactly high on anybody’s list of places to get Thai red curry. And yes, it’s just a franchise operation that wants to sell you “branded limited-edition (sic) mugs.” But there really was a “Trader Vic”, a one-legged gadabout who  imagineered what was once San Francisco’s coolest restaurant–and put it in Oakland. And that paragon of bad taste and absence of self-awareness, Donald Trump, once called Trader Vic’s “tacky“. So if you love Tiki-bar culture like I do, then every once in a while you should pay proper homage to Vic Bergeron, the man who started it all, and drop in to the Trader’s for a couple of mai-tais and a bowl of his fantastic Bongo Bongo soup. (Be careful in LA, though–this delicious concoction isn’t on the menu at Vic’s lounge in the Beverly Hilton. Got to trek downtown for that.)

It’s a sign of something–I don’t know what–that there are almost as many Trader Vic’s outposts in the United Arab Emirates (5) as in the entire U.S. (7). Whatever it is, it speaks well of the emirs, who clearly have better taste than Trump, however low a bar that may be.

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Filed under Mid-20th Century, People Who Lack Self-Awareness