Monthly Archives: July 2011

The Penis-Centered Society

The National Institute of Health (NIH) puts your money to work:

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) subsidized a study attempting to find out if a gay man’s penis size has any correlation with his sexual health.

The research, titled “The Association between Penis Size and Sexual Health among Men Who Have Sex with Men,” began in 2006 and surveyed 1,065 gay men. Among its key findings: Those gay men who felt they had small or inadequate penis sizes were more likely to become “bottoms,” or anal receptive, while gay men with larger penises were more likely to identify themselves as “tops,” or anal insertive.

Another discovery from the research: men with smaller penises were more likely to be psychologically troubled than those with larger genitalia. The goal of the study was to understand the “real individual-level consequences of living in a penis-centered society.”…

I guess that’s what they meant by “stimulus.” I sure hope they don’t “cut” it.

Fox, You Ignorant Slut!

Janet Daley, columnist for Britain’s Telegraph newspaper, reveals what is really behind the News of the World scandal and also defines the nature of left wing self-righteousness:

… the power of the BBC – and its historical hatred for the “Murdoch empire” – is just one aspect of a larger battle which has now leapt across the Atlantic, where the target is not newspapers which can be legitimately charged with having committed unconscionable acts, but Fox News. Its offence is to have filled such a huge gap in the market for television news and current affairs that it has swept all before it. Its raucous Right-wing orientation is, in fact, matched by an equally raucous Left-wing equivalent in the cable news channel MSNBC, so why should anyone who believes in open and free debate among news providers object to this?
The problem is that Fox’s audience share is enormous, by far the largest of any cable news channel, whereas MSNBC’s is tiny, the smallest of any cable news channel. People are voting with their remotes for the kind of opinions they want to hear and the result is infuriating for the Left-liberal axis – and particularly for the Obama White House, which has made no secret of its desire to shut Fox News down.

There is, incidentally – contrary to the conjectures of some excitable commentators – no possibility of the “Murdoch empire” spawning a British version of Fox News. By law, broadcast news in Britain must be impartial. That is why all television news organisations in this country subscribe to pretty much the same soft-Left rendition of neutral reporting (in which Euroscepticism was, until very recently, treated as a lunatic fringe irrelevance, etc). And just the sort of liberal received opinion that now dominates television news because the tight regulation of licensed broadcasters demands it, could prevail in newspapers if the press were regulated (which is to say, licensed to operate) “in the same way that broadcasting is” – a suggestion which is being uttered in precisely those words even by Conservative politicians.

In fact, a similar rule of enforced neutrality applies in the US on network news programming: all news which is transmitted “over the airwaves” must be impartial (which there, too, means Left-liberal). It is only by the technical fluke of their being relayed by cable that the newer news channels such as Fox and MSNBC can show partisanship. Result: network news in the US is haemorrhaging viewers and cable news is hugely influential.

The cable news channels now play roughly the role in American politics that politically aligned newspapers do in Britain. To start regulating (licensing) the press would mean that we would have no frankly, vividly, politically potent news medium to counter whatever conventional wisdom was ordained by the self-appointed “enlightened” class of the day.

It is worth asking in both the British and American contexts why people who regard themselves as believers in free speech and liberal democracy can be so openly eager to close off – silence, kill, extinguish – different political views from their own. This is the question that is at the heart of the matter and which will remain long after every News International executive who may possibly be incriminated in the current scandal has been purged.

There is scarcely any outfit on the Right – be it political party, or media outlet – which demands the outright abolition of a Left-wing voice, as opposed to simply recommending restraint on its dominance (as I am with the BBC). That is because those of us on the Right are inclined to believe that our antagonists on the Left are simply wrong-headed – sometimes well-intentioned, sometimes malevolent but basically just mistaken. Whereas the Left believes that we are evil incarnate. Their demonic view of people who express even mildly Right-of-centre opinions (that lower taxes or less state control might be desirable, for example) would be risible if it were not so pernicious.

The Left does not want a debate or an open market in ideas. It wants to extirpate its opponents – to remove them from the field. It actually seems to believe that it is justified in snuffing out any possibility of our arguments reaching the impressionable masses – and bizarrely, it defends this stance in the name of fairness.

You Don’t Need That!

Amazingly, to me at least, nothing much has been made of the following words uttered by Barack Obama at a recent press conference:

“And I do not want, and I will not accept, a deal in which I am asked to do nothing, in fact, I’m able to keep hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional income that I don’t need, while a parent out there who is struggling to figure out how to send their kid to college suddenly finds
that they’ve got a couple thousand dollars less in grants or student

It’s clever, perhaps too clever by half, for Obama to talk about the hundreds of thousands of dollars he, as opposed to the rest of us, don’t need. Of course there is no evidence that the president has tried personally to help college kids in need of more money in grants or student loans.

Obviously, Obama is implying that, as a presidential role model, the rest of us ought to follow his example and think about the money we spend on stuff we don’t “need” and then declare we are giving up these unneeded luxuries and “donating” in the form of higher taxes the money we paid for them to some needy college kids.

So here’s my list of things I really don’t “need”: my premium cable tv movie package, my HD DVR that allows me to watch programs whenever I want and to avoid commercials, my iphone and ipad without which I survived for more than 60 years, central air conditioning (I survived my childhood with nothing more than electric fans, so obviously I don’t need AC), 2 automobiles (I grew up in a one car family and we got along fine), vacations (Again, my parents never took vacations, although they did send me to overnight camp which I really didn’t “need” either), a relatively large house which, since my kids are grown, is more than my wife and I really “need.”

I am sure that the above list of things I “don’t need” just scratches the surface. What about the money that I have already “wasted” which could have gone to needy folks? I could have sent my son to a relatively cheap state university rather than the expensive Ivy League institution he attended and I could have donated the difference to yet another needy child.

Of course people who don’t own private jets feel very comfortable proclaiming that those who do don’t “need” them. But these people ought to ask themselves where such proclamations end.

Most of the stuff we possess we really don’t need. We acquire these possessions because we enjoy them or because they make our lives easier.

But we currently have a president who feels free to lecture us about “unneeded money” that could be better spent on the “needy.”

It’s time for us all to start thinking about all the things we don’t need and are willing to give up to help the less fortunate.

Really though, what we need is none of Obama’s business. His business is what the government needs to meet its obligations. It is his business to present a budget (He did recently, but it was voted down in the Democratically controlled Senate 97 to 0). Then it is Congress’s business to pass a budget, and money bills need to originate in the House of Representatives, the members of which are kept on a very short leash by the voters who must pay the taxes.

So Obama and his wealthy supporters should do the following: write a personal check to needy people they know and stop lecturing others about their alleged selfishness.

Fear of Fox

The Commentator on the plot of the left wing media in Britain to consolidate their stranglehold on the news and public opinion:

The Murdochs

“Murdoch’s malign influence must die with the News of the World.” That is the headline chosen by the Sunday edition of the Guardian for its leader column on the demise of Britain’s best-selling Sunday tabloid: an explicit call for the end of Rupert Murdoch as a meaningful force in British public life.

Nothing new there of course. Borderline racism – repeated in Sunday’s article — about Murdoch’s Australian origins and, worse, his domicile in the United States, has been a staple of Leftist discourse for years. They want to finish him. They don’t care how. And, like vultures circling over a rotting corpse, they sense that the time to swoop is near.

But it is vital to see what lies behind all this, and to understand that if it wasn’t Murdoch it would be (and one day will be) someone else.

To be sure, for the Left, Rupert Murdoch is a hate figure. But he also serves as a proxy for an emerging world of media plurality that fills them with fear.

Of course, that is an inversion of the charge the Guardian itself makes against Murdoch due to his control over several of Britain’s top newspapers.

And once upon a time that argument might have held some force, though a good deal less than was claimed for it. But the rise of the internet has largely put paid to all that.

Most newspapers are loss makers; many will be gone in under a decade; and with the emergence of a multiplicity of online platforms a genuinely pluralistic, text-media environment (including outlets such as The Commentator) cannot now be stopped.

Which is why attention in this debate has so quickly turned to television.

Right now, the issue of the day is Newscorp’s attempt to take over BSKYb. The Labour Party is tabling a motion in parliament calling for the bid to be suspended. The Guardian editorial thundered today that:

“…it is essential that Murdoch’s control of BSkyB is rejected, as we have argued consistently in these pages. The spectre of the old Murdoch, whose demise was signalled last week – voracious and threatening – must not rise again from the ashes of the News of the World.”

What exactly do the Guardian and the Labour Party fear so much from this proposed deal? It can’t be media plurality, as they claim, since they’re die hard supporters of the BBC, the state-funded media monolith that dominates international, national, regional and even local broadcasting.

What they fear, of course, is that that left-leaning monolith might get some serious competition. Not right now: Britain’s incredibly rigid broadcasting regulations prevent proprietors from mounting an ideological challenge to BBC bias.

But the fear is that once Murdoch (or someone like him) can establish a major beachhead in the UK television market, it will only be a matter of time before the regulatory environment changes. At which point, the emergence of a British equivalent of the wildly popular FOX News channel will be a foregone conclusion.

That is what this is all about. The Guardian and the Labour Party have a stranglehold over the dominant media outlet influencing the terms of national debate. They don’t have the Sun, they don’t have the Mail, but in the BBC they have something vastly more powerful.

They see a straight line from a successful BSKYb takeover to the emergence of a truly pluralistic television media environment. And that vision terrifies them.

Make no mistake about it. The Left’s agenda is about censorship and control. Nothing more, nothing less.

The “British Spring”

Once again, Mark Steyn gets to the heart of leftish hypocrisy in the News of the World scandal currently rocking Britain and inspiring so much faux outrage among the liberal media:

Murdoch and Pinch

[From a New York Times editorial:]
“In truth, a kind of British Spring is under way, now that the News Corporation’s tidy system of punishment and reward has crumbled. Members of Parliament, no longer fearful of retribution in Mr. Murdoch’s tabloids, are speaking their minds and giving voice to the anger of their constituents. Meanwhile, social media has roamed wild and free across the story, punching a hole in the tiny clubhouse that had been running the country. Democracy, aided by sunlight, has broken out in Britain.”

“British Spring” as in Arab Spring? Ruthless tyrant Rupsi Murdaroch forced into exile at Sharm al-Sheila back in Oz? British MPs, no longer “fearful of retribution,” are transformed overnight: Yesterday, they were Claude Rains in Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, corrupt toadies doing the bidding of Boss Murdoch. Today, they’re getting in touch with their inner Jimmy Stewart.

As with the Arab Spring, the British Spring can more or less be guaranteed to turn out the opposite of the Times’s sunny predictions. On the whole, I prefer an unrespectable reptilian press sticking its foot in the grieving widow’s doorway to, say, a media of portentous over-credentialed unreadable drones with no greater ambition than to serve as court eunuchs to the Obama administration. If the National Enquirer operated to the high-minded standards of the New York Times, John Edwards might now be vice president or attorney general. If Murdoch’s tabloids “destroy lives,” as the Times airily claims, they’re at least equal-opportunity destroyers, as willing to plaster a Tory rent-boy over the front page as a Labour one.

By contrast, the New York Times happily colluded in the destruction of the Duke lacrosse players’ lives for no reason other than ideological predisposition to a politically correct narrative. I would say that, whether through malice or intellectual torpor, that kind of bias is far more damaging to public discourse. And it’s the one Britain’s likely to end up with more of if the Times’ kindred spirits in London get their way. The actor (and phone-hacking target) Hugh Grant has become, somewhat improbably, a spokesperson for the anti-Murdoch forces. Here’s what he said on the BBC:

I’m not for regulating the proper press, the broadsheet press. But we need regulation of the tabloid press.

Ah, right. The papers you read are fine. It’s the papers those ghastly oiks read that need regulating because the great unwashed can’t be trusted to evaluate this stuff properly anymore than they can be trusted to choose their own light bulbs.

Does Hugh Grant’s statement sound like any credo of democracy? Or does it sound more like a smug, patrician elite that would find things more convenient if it could only narrow the parameters of public discourse? “All the news that’s fit to print,” as someone once said. “A tiny clubhouse running the country,” in the Times’s more recent words. And they should know.

Close ‘Em Down!

As usual, Mark Steyn entertainingly reveals the hypocrisy behind the liberal media’s gleeful coverage of the Rupert Murdoch/News of the World scandal:

News of the World employees, now unemployed

…I confess to feeling a little queasy at the sight of bien pensant liberal opinion gloating at having deprived four million people of their preferred reading matter. If one were so inclined, one might be heartened by the swift responsiveness to pressure of the allegedly all-powerful bogeyman Murdoch. But you can’t help but notice that this supposed public shaming is awfully selective. In the week of the News Of The World revelations, it was reported that the Atlanta Public Schools system has spent the last decade systemically cheating on its tests. Not the students, but the Superintendent, and the union, and 38 principals, and at least 178 teachers – whoops, pardon me, “educators,” and some 44 of the 56 school districts. Teachers held “changing parties” at their homes at which they sat around with extra supplies of erasers correcting their students’ test answers in order to improve overall scores and qualify for “No Child Left Behind” federal funding that could be sluiced into maintaining their lavish remuneration. Let’s face it, it’s easier than teaching, right?

The APS Human Resources honcho Millicent Few had an early report into test-tampering illegally destroyed. So APS not only got the federal gravy but was also held up to the nation at large as a heartwarming, inspirational example of how large urban school districts can reform themselves and improve educational opportunities for their children.

And its fake test scores got its leader, Beverly Hall, garlanded with the National Superintendent of the Year Award, the Administrator of the Year Award, the Distinguished Public Service Award, the Keystone Award for Leadership in Education, the Concerned Black Clergy Education Award, the American Association of School Administrators Effie H. Jones Humanitarian Award and a zillion other phony-baloney baubles with which the American edu-fraud cartel scratches its own back.

In reality, Beverly Hall’s Atlanta Public Schools system was in the child-abuse business: It violated the education of its students to improve its employees’ cozy sinecures.

The whole rotten stinking school system is systemically corrupt from the superintendent down. But what are the chances of APS being closed down? How many of those fraudulent non-teachers will waft on within the system until their lucrative retirements?

Or consider “Operation Fast and Furious,” about which nothing is happening terribly fast and over which Americans should be furious.

The official explanation is that the federal government used stimulus funding to buy guns from Arizona gun shops for known criminals to funnel to Mexican drug cartels. As I said, that’s the official explanation: As soon as your head stops spinning, we’ll resume the narrative. Supposedly, United States taxpayers were picking up the tab for Mexican drug lords’ weaponry in order that the ATF could identify high-up gun-traffickers. But, as it turns out, these high-up gun-traffickers were already known to other agencies – FBI, DEA and other big-spending acronyms in the great fetid ooze of federal alphabet soup in which this republic is drowning. And, indeed, some of those high-ups are said to have been paid informants for those various federal agencies. So, in case you’re wondering why Obama’s second annual Recovery Summer is a wee bit sluggish at your end, relax: Stimulus dollars went to fund one federal agency to buy guns for the paid informants of another federal agency to funnel to foreign criminals in order that the first federal agency might identify the paid informants of the second federal agency.

Meanwhile, what did the drug cartels, the recipients of the guns, do with them? Well, they used them to kill at least one member of a third federal agency: Brian Terry of the United States Border Patrol. If that doesn’t bother you, well, they also killed not insignificant numbers of Mexican civilians.

If, by this stage, you’re wondering why U.S. stimulus dollars are being used to stimulate the Mexican coffin industry, consider the dark suspicion of many American gun owners – that the real reason the feds embarked on this murderous scheme was to plant the evidence that the increasing lawlessness on the southern border is the fault of the gun industry and the Second Amendment, and thereby advance its ideological agenda of ever greater gun control.

We’re not talking about hacking a schoolgirl’s cellphone here. Real people are dead. Yet nobody’s going to close down any wing of the vast spendaholic DEATFBI hydra-headed security-state turf-war. And while Eric Holder, the buccaneering attorney general at the center of this wilderness of mirrors, doesn’t yet have as many Distinguished Public Servant of the Year awards as Beverly Hall, judging from his cheerfully upfront obstruction of the congressional investigation, he’s not planning on going anywhere soon.

Eric Holder: still employed

So, at The News Of The World, every single employee is clearing out his desk. But, at the Atlantic Public Schools, at the DEATFBI, life goes on. A curious contrast. The striking feature of big government, from Athens to Sacramento, is its imperviousness to any kind of accountability – legal, fiscal, electoral, popular…

Another Miracle Worker Bites The Dust

Atlanta public schools’ superintendant Beverly Hall joins the ranks of disgraced educational miracle workers:

Dr. Beverly Hall and her medal

…Longtime Atlanta schools chief Beverly Hall has been lauded nationally as a top leader for turning around struggling urban districts, but she retires this week amid allegations of widespread cheating and accusations that she ordered a cover-up of test tampering.

It’s not quite the ending Hall’s supporters imagined for her nearly 12-year career as the superintendent of the 50,000-student district – where nearly three-fourths of students live at or below the poverty line.

The 64-year-old Jamaica native won the national Superintendent of the Year award in 2009 and landed on short lists for U.S. Department of Education jobs. Even her long tenure in Atlanta stands out nationally: few urban school superintendents stay in one district longer than four years.

But now Hall’s actions are among those being scrutinized as part of yearlong criminal investigation into the cheating allegations, which stem from a state report showing high numbers of erasures on standardized tests given to Atlanta students in 2009. And the district faces losing accreditation after school board squabbles over the scandal led to the system being put on probation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools…

Hall’s tenure reminds me of that of Philadelphia schools’ superintendent Constance Clayton. Like Hall, the credulous local media declared her to be the one the city had been waiting for. She too was declared destined for higher office, in her case, mayor and U.S. Secretary of Education.

After a while, it became clear, even to many of those who had worshiped her, that the claims of skyrocketing test scores were another pipe dream, and she left with none of the fanfare that greeted her arrival as the first black woman schools’ chief.

Hall’s case is also similar to former D.C. schools’ head Michelle Rhee. There teachers and principals were accused of test tampering, but for some reason the media have not gone after Rhee, probably because they have invested so much of their own credibility in her “achievements.”

This ought to be cause for skepticism when it comes to educational miracle workers, but I suspect the naive media will fall for the next one just as hard as they did for the last ones.

The Eternal Adolescence of Higher Education

Mark Steyn on higher education, America’s “biggest structural deformity”:

…Passing a leisurely half-decade toying with a mélange of pseudo-disciplines is a very expensive way to acquire a piece of paper assuring U.S. businesses you’re safe for white-collar employment.

The “education” system is one of the biggest structural deformities in America today. It leads to later workforce participation and later family formation, both of which factor into our existentially catastrophic entitlement liabilities. And yet Obama wants every American child to go to college. What sort of “education” do you think they’ll be getting once that happens? And what value do you think that sheepskin will hold in the wider world?

The justification for this absurd prolongation of adolescence is that it opens up opportunities for the disadvantaged. But credential-fetishization has the opposite effect. Remember Ronald Reagan, alumnus of Eureka College, Illinois? Since then, for the first time in its history, America has lived under continuous rule by Ivy League — Yale (Bush I), Yale Law (Clinton), Harvard Business (Bush II), Harvard Law (Obama). In 2009, over a quarter of Obama’s political appointees had ties to Harvard; over 90 percent had “advanced degrees.” How’s that working out for you? In my soon to be imminently forthcomingly imminent book, I point out that once upon a time America was the land where guys without degrees (Truman) or only 18 months of formal education (Lincoln) or no schooling at all (Zachary Taylor) could become president. Credentialization is shrinking what was America’s advantage — a far greater social mobility than Europe. We’re decaying into a society where 40 percent of the population do minimal-skill service jobs and the rest run up a trillion dollars of debt in order to avoid that fate, and ne’er the twain shall meet, except for perfunctory social pleasantries in the drive-thru lane…

The Feminist/Race Hustlers Lose One

The Dominique Strauss-Kahn case is one of competing political narratives. I liked the narrative of the hypocritical “socialist” big shot who lives like an aristocrat and who thinks he can have his way with any woman he wants being brought down by the “penniless,” African hotel maid.

In retrospect, I and all the others who bought that narrative should have realized from the start that it was just too good to be true.

So it now appears that the perfect victim in this case is actually a perfect liar and very possibly a criminal, which makes the feminist/race hustler community very uncomfortable. How will they respond?

They could simply admit their mistake, and as they say, move on. Or they could do what they often do: claim that she is still a victim of rape, regardless of the “discrepancies” in her story and her questionable past, and that to deny her her day in court is just adding to her victimization. Or finally, they could ignore the story as if it never happened. We will see.

New York District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.

Meantime, the Wall Street Journal’s Dorothy Rabinowitz praises New York District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. for behaving responsibly in admitting his mistake rather than following the politically correct path trod by most ambitious prosecutors who typically pander to the above-mentioned feminist/race hustlers:

…The district attorney’s critics charge that Mr. Vance, who has lost a few cases recently, didn’t want another failure—that he publicized his doubts and blew his case up rather than take that risk. Perhaps. But everything about this accuser and her complaint also suggests the very good chance that the DA could have won the case. Mr. Vance surely knew this, as well.

A zealous prosecutor could have—would have—exploited the racial element here, and the enormous status difference between the wealthy and powerful foreigner and the poor hotel worker. He could have counted on the weeks of vilification by the media, which had helped make Mr. Strauss-Kahn so hated a figure he could find no Manhattan apartment building whose upscale residents were willing to breathe the same air as this (now former) head of the IMF. A prosecutor could count on finding a jury so hostile to the accused, so sympathetic to the accuser, that they could understand—with the help of explanations—all her lies and her involvement with a drug dealer.

That prosecutor would have delivered a familiar message to the jury: Believe the accuser, however incredible, or be guilty of betraying the war against sex abusers and of violating the victim anew. Critics of the DA’s decision to remove the case from the Special Victims Unit indeed point out that the unit’s prosecutors would have had the expertise to deal with an accuser who was, like this one, “not perfect.”

That the man now in charge of the Manhattan DA’s office knows—and has shown that he knows—that the duty of a prosecutor is first and foremost to do justice, not to win cases, is something for which citizens can be grateful. They’ve not had a chance to witness such behavior terribly often.