Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Save the Polar Bears

We have all seen the pictures of the dying polar bear. Shot by National Geographic the image has been presented as irrefutable proof that climate change is killing off the polar bears. Never mind that we only see one lonely bear. Never mind that we do not know why the bear was dying. It doesn’t matter. To true believers, the polar bear instantly became a totem, a symbol of the horrors that Donald Trump was causing to the pristine natural world.

If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Even Slate, no right wing organ of incorrect opinion, has explained that, in the words of an expert, polar bears die all the time. You will admit that the idea is astonishing.  Even more amazing, we often do not know why. For all we know the bear in question was dying from bone cancer. It would be difficult to blame that one on Republicans, but perhaps the bear would have been saved by Obamacare. Hey, you never know.

Slate reports:

For one thing, [wildlife biologist Jeff Higdon] says, during summertime, part of the Arctic is often ice-free. That’s due to seasonal changes, not climatic shifts. And while it can be hard to stomach never mind witness, animals starve to death all the time, for a million different reasons. “We may start to see more [climate-caused starvation] over time, but at this point, there’s no evidence I’m aware of that we’re seeing that,” Higdon adds.

Not wanting to disappoint its readers Slate adds that climate change is killing the polar bears, though not necessarily the one we see dying before our eyes.

Still, we can ask whether or not Slate is right? Are the polar bears doomed because Trump walked away from the Paris Climate Accord? Enquiring minds want to know.

The NoTricksZone blog (via Moonbattery and via Maggie’s Farm) summarizes the latest in peer reviewed science:

Most of the world’s polar bears live in Canada.  Hunters and elders from northern Canada’s native communities have been immersed in studying polar bear ecology for centuries.

In two new peer-reviewed papers published in the journals Ecology and Evolution and Polar Record, scientists record the observations and experiences of Canada’s polar bear “experts” — the community members who live side-by-side with these “sea bears” (Ursus maritimus).

According to scientists, no study has indicated that there is reason to presume that the perspectives of community observers are either suspect or incorrect.  In fact, there have been multiple occasions when traditional ecological knowledge gleaned from local populations accurately identified polar bear subpopulation trends before new scientific studies could be conducted to corroborate them (York et al., 2016).

The overwhelming conclusion from years of accumulated conversations with native populations about polar bears is that there is almost no connection between the long-term observations of polar bear ecology and the more recent claims that polar bears as a species are in grave danger due to climate change and thinning sea ice.

In fact, the long-term observations suggest that polar bear subpopulations are currently faring quite well, with 92% of  the subpopulations studied either remaining stable or growing in recent years.

According to Inuit observers, there may even be “too many” bears now.

Now we can all rejoice because the polar bears are thriving. Right?

Where Is the Arab Street?

Viscerally opposed to anything that Donald Trump does, the elite that has been in charge of American foreign policy for decades now declared last week that the world, and in particular the “Arab street” would erupt in rage at Trump’s declaration that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.

It makes some sense. These great minds had refused to recognize Jerusalem because they feared the might wrath of the Arab Street. Don’t say that terrorism doesn’t work? Besides, in America today, if you do not erupt in rage at anything Trump says or does, you will be shunned from polite liberal society. Just ask Alan Dershowitz.

I have already offered my views on the matter. On the response of the Arab street Lt. Col. Ralph Peters has it right. It was yet another occasion where the bien pensant progressives and the cowardly Europeans got it wrong. Why did they get it wrong? For one simple reason: their own residual anti-Semitism:

In the wake of President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last week, the “experts” crowding the media predicted strategic calamity: Vast, violent protests and a wave of terror would sweep the Muslim world in the coming days.

Instead, the largest demonstration anywhere this weekend was the funeral procession for Johnny Hallyday, the “French Elvis.” Nothing in the Middle East came close.

We have witnessed, yet again, the carefully phrased anti-Semitism of the pristinely educated; the global left’s fanatical pro-Palestinian bias; and the media’s yearning for career-making disasters.

Rather than waves of protest, the waiting world got tepid statements of disapproval from otherwise-occupied Arab governments; demonstrations in the West Bank and the Gaza strip that, combined, barely put a thousand activists in the streets; and yes, four deaths: two demonstrators and two Hamas terrorists hit by an Israeli airstrike.

One suspects that Western leftists hate Israel because they are trying to appease the millions of Muslim immigrants they allowed into their countries and who are now wreaking havoc.

As I have been reporting on this blog, things have changed in the Middle East.

Peters explains:

Once upon a time, the Palestinians were the only game at the propaganda casino, a marvelous tool for Arab leaders to divert attention from domestic failures. Then came al Qaeda. And Iraq. Iranian empire-building. The Arab Spring. The oil-price collapse and the rise of ISIS, with its butcher-shop caliphate. The civil war in Syria, with half a million dead. And, not least, the region-wide confrontation between decaying Sunni power and rising Shia might.

Thus, geopolitical realities have caused the Middle East to see Israel, as I have often noted, as the solution, not the problem. I would add that Israel has far more to offer modernizing Arab nations than do the parasitic Palestinians.

But by far the most-significant factor is that Israel has become an indispensable, if quiet, ally of Sunni states against Iran. Although well-armed, Saudi Arabia remains inept on the battlefield, bogged down in Yemen and terrified of Iranian gains in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. Israel doesn’t need Saudi Arabia, but Saudi Arabia definitely needs Israel.

As for the Palestinians they never wanted to negotiate peace anyway. They wanted and they still want to destroy Israel. They use peace negotiations as a means to that end. Had they wanted a state, Peters argues, they could have had it, many times over.

Since the failed 1948 Arab assault on newly reborn Israel, the Palestinians have had literally dozens of opportunities for an advantageous peace. Yet, even Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton — no friends to the blue-and-white flag — ended up frustrated as Palestinian leaders, on the cusp of peace time and again, decided that three-quarters of the pie was insufficient.

Inevitably, the pie got smaller over time — but the Palestinian leadership continued to profit from “occupied” status. Now it’s too late for anything that looks like a viable Palestinian state. It’s time we all faced that reality.

If you will, the Palestinians claimed “occupied” status to receive the support and admiration of Western liberals… happy as they were to consider Israel  a hegemonic, imperialist, colonialist power. If the Palestinians were incapable of building a functioning modern economy they could step forth and claim the status as vanguard of the next Marxist revolution. Obviously, this appeals to unreconstructed Western leftists.

So, perhaps the world has turned a page. Perhaps the rage of today’s Arab street is more show than substance. Once Saudi Arabia turned its back on the Palestinian madness, the party effectively was over. It was time to learn the lesson of World War II—appeasement does not work:

A Central-Asian proverb runs that “The dog may bark, but the caravan moves on.” The hounds of appeasement have barked for generations, but the Israeli caravan kept going, arriving at the only admirable (or even livable) state in the Middle East, an island of civilization amid vast deserts of barbarism.

The analogy is apt. And, let’s not forget, the grand mufti of Jerusalem during World War II, uncle of Yasser Arafat, strongly supported Hitler’s final solution for the Jewish people. Could it be that the Palestinian resistance has merely kept the Nazi hope alive? Could it be that the call for revolution was also a call for a return to the days of Nazi persecution of Jews?

To modify a poet's words: This is the way the Palestinian cause ends; not with a bang, but with a whimper.

Monday, December 11, 2017

The Night Riders of the Thought Police

You may or may not know it, but Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe has been attacking his former colleague, emeritus professor Alan Dershowitz because the latter had the temerity to declare that Robert Mueller could not indict President Trump for obstruction of justice. Dershowitz declared that the president could not be indicted for exercising his constitutional authority… which allows him to fire any of those who work for him in the executive branch, for any reason.

Dershowitz continued that if Trump had encouraged someone to lie or to bribe, then surely he could be indicted. An interesting legal issue, one that we might well want to debate... since the collusion argument seems to have blow up for now.

Are the nation’s great legal minds debating this constitutional issue? Not at all. They are horrified that Dershowitz, a true liberal Democrat, would say anything that would detract from the left wing derangement over Trump. Eminent legal scholar like Laurence Tribe want Trump to be impeached. He does not care how. Any means are apparently acceptable as long as the proper result is achieved. He and his cohorts refuse to allow anything, not rational argument, not constitutional law, not due process stand in their way.

Now, what does Tribe have to say about this? What does the law professor contribute to deliberative debate on the topic? Well, he offers this tweet about Dershowitz:

My retired former colleague seems proud of playing devil’s advocate here. But this is no game. I think he should be deeply ashamed of helping legitimate the closest thing we have to the Devil Incarnate with so absurd and dangerous an argument.

Note the rhetorical flourish: the closest thing we have to the Devil Incarnate. (In caps, out of respect, I imagine). Might we ask where in the Constitution he found that reference to the Antichrist? Might we ask whether it belongs to the Common Law? 

The truth is, Tribe has lost his mind, he is flailing, he is acting like someone who is deranged, he has girded his loins and declared war on Donald Trump. Having lost his mind he has lost all sense of reality. At that point, nothing really matters. Due process be damned. Criminal procedure must be ignored. The only question for one of America’s great legal minds—or, should I say, for someone who used to possess one of America’s great legal minds—is to get Trump. By any means, using any methods, regardless of the damage to the constitution or the legal system.

Someone who is supposed to have dedicated his life to the law, is trafficking in Biblical prophecy. Immanentize the eschaton, as they say in the vernacular. Tribe has taken up residence in the Book of Revelation and awaits the Second Coming of Christ to rid the world of the Antichrist, aka, the Beast. Ought he not to feel a slight twinge of shame for compromising his life’s work in order to lead the disloyal opposition, an opposition so disloyal that it no longer cares about facts or the law? Ought he not to avoid such incendiary nonsense, in the interest of fostering rational debate?

Apparently not. America’s intellectual culture, its national conversation has been so completely corrupted that an Alan Dershowitz, a titan of modern liberal thought, a former board member of the American Civil Liberties Union has not earned enough credit to have his views respected by his erstwhile colleagues.

For a Laurence Tribe it no longer matters whether you are right or wrong. It no longer matters that you have spent your life defending civil liberties and teaching constitutional law. It no longer matters that you have raised substantive legal issues that deserve a hearing. Not at all. the only thing that matters is whether you belong to the army that is willing to sacrifice principle and rational thought in the effort to impeach Donald Trump. If Tribe thinks he is fighting Nazis this only adds to our sense of his derangement.

If you were wondering how America’s universities became cesspools of political correctness, if you were wondering why the night riders of the thought police are harassing anyone who disputes the current orthodoxy, you do not need to look any further than the Dershowitz/Tribe conflict.

It’s not as though Tribe and his legions of maniacal anti-Trumpers can harm Dershowitz. The 79-year-old retired professor is retired from the halls of academia, where he taught for five decades. We might say that he has been liberated. More important is the message that the diatribes against him, the efforts to shun him from polite liberal society, are sending to anyone else who would dare say a word that disputes the anti-Trump orthodoxy.

We saw it in the case of one Stephen Cohen, retired professor of Russia Studies, eminent authority on Russian politics, contributor to The Nation—not a right wing magazine, that—who has been excoriated by his colleagues on the left for daring to suggest that Trump’s Russia policy is reasonable and correct. And also for saying that, among the unwelcome side effects of the Russian collusion mania has been the damage done to Russian and American relationship. To Cohen, American and Russia should try to work together on numerous international crises. With the attacks on Trump’s supposed Russian collusion, the task has become increasingly difficult.

For having uttered these thoughts Cohen has been attacked by his colleagues. Because, if your expertise and your rational thought leads you to a conclusion that might make Trump look good, you are a traitor to the cause and deserve to be taken out and shot... in a manner of speaking.

Dershowitz has been more prominent, so he has received the lion’s share of opprobrium. The Washington Post told the story:
As a result, Dershowitz told The Washington Post on Wednesday, he is being shunned by many of his old political allies. His motives are being questioned. And people who used to be his friends just don’t want to hear from him.

“None of my liberal friends invite me to dinner anymore,” he said. “Thanks to Donald Trump, I’ve lost seven pounds. I call it the Donald Trump diet,” he joked.

Even so, Dershowitz says that he’s the same fiery, uncompromising civil libertarian that he has always been.

The effect of the threats and intimidation is to stifle debate and discussion. The Post reported:

He says a number of lawyers and scholars privately accept his argument but are unwilling to say so publicly because they don’t want to do anything that helps Trump. “I would say that 25 times people have either written me, called me, or told me in person and said, ‘You’re right. You’re 100 percent right. Your arguments are solid, but why do you have to say it? Just keep quiet. Don’t help them.’ ”

Aside from being ostracized, his motives are being attacked and his character is being defamed:

“People have accused me of everything,” Dershowitz told The Post. “Of taking money. … A guy on MSNBC asked me if I was being paid by Trump. Others have asked me if I’m writing a book about it,” he said. “The answer to both is no and no.”

“Everybody’s questioning motive,” he said, with some suggesting he’s jockeying for a seat on the Supreme Court (“I’m 79 years old”) or that he wants to be Trump’s lawyer. None of this is true, he said. “People can’t just accept that I’m saying what I believe and I would be saying the same thing if Hillary Clinton were president.”

His viewpoint “has affected my friendships,” Dershowitz said. “I have a nephew who is just furious at me. He wants to do anything to have this guy impeached or removed from office and he says I’m stopping that. There are people who think — and I’ve been accused of this in print — that I’m the one who put this obstruction argument into the head of Trump and his lawyers, especially since Trump tweeted that he liked my argument.”

Dershowitz said he “got an email today from a very prominent friend — I’m not going to disclose his name because it was a private email — admitting that I’m right and saying ‘My hatred toward Trump blinds me to your truths.’ That was his email. ‘My hatred for Trump blinds me to your truths. Please stop.’

Think about it. These are supposed to be enlightened souls. They have fought against hatred all of their lives. And now they are so consumed by hate that they cannot even see. They ought to recognize that when you are blinded by hate you are not going to be a very good soldier. Blindness makes far more difficult to aim. You might even end up attacking people who are on your side.

Again, the salient point is that the best and the brightest, the pillars of the American legal establishment, are so completely deranged by Trump that they can no longer see. Worse yet, they can no longer think. They are not even trying. Those who are not retired and untouchable will receive a chilling message. Take the right side of this war on Trump or your life will be over.

Whatever you think of Donald Trump, this anti-intellectual emotionally overwrought attitude, fostered by the nation's best legal minds, will damage the nation and our democracy. They are a disgrace to their profession.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Incendiary Feminist Rage

Nearly five decades of feminism and what do we get: Harvey Weinstein and Charley Rose and Louis CK and Bret Ratner and Kevin Spacey. Does this mean that we need more feminism or that feminism has failed?

Now, radical feminists are taking up arms to advance their war against predatory men. But, what if feminism is as much the problem as the solution? After all, most of the men who are accused of egregious sexual harassment and assaults are good progressive feminists. They are merely doing what Bill Clinton got away with doing. And they have been offered absolution by the Dowager Duchess of Chappaqua herself. As for the women who feared speaking out, they saw what the Dowager Duchess did to women who accused her husband of sexual predations. Until now, they chose to keep quiet.

Of course, today’s feminists, at least those who do not know how to think, believe that the Trump election has provoked the #MeToo movement. It might also be that disempowering one of America’s biggest frauds, HRC herself, has freed women from the threat her power represented. Ding, dong… the witch is dead. Or at least, the witch no longer wields political power. Ergo, women are now free to speak out against media and Hollywood men, Hillary’s army of predators. Think about it.

Today the New York Times showcases two interesting reactions to the current wave of denunciations and accusations. On one side, Lucinda Franks, a woman who began her journalistic career in the 1970s, at a time when second-wave feminism had just started washing up on the shores. Franks is cogent and intelligent, solid and sensible. 

On the other side, Michelle Goldberg, a raging contemporary feminist, a generation younger than Franks, who wants to direct her “incendiary rage” against Donald Trump… whom she, in an especially mindless rant, considers responsible for all of it. She is promoting a form of ritual sacrifice—of Trump the Antichrist—and is so blinded by her rage that she fails to see the prominent role that the Clintons and their ilk played in the current crisis.

Anyway, Franks considers the possibility that feminism and the sexual revolution might very well have contributed to the harassment problem:

Had the sexualization of American popular culture in the 1990s and 2000s taken the restraints off the male id, freeing men to pursue their most absurd fantasies — holding professional interviews at their homes, parading around naked under open bathrobes in front of job applicants? Had feminism, with its promotion of sexual freedom, combined with these cultural changes, paradoxically poured gas on the fires of these workplace assaults? Or had this stomach-turning type of aggression simply evaded the rumor mill but been happening all along?

As it happened Franks was the youngest woman ever to win the Pulitzer Prize. It did not produce any sexual harassment, but it did get her shunned in the newsroom:

Two years after I joined the news service, I won the Pulitzer Prize. I suffered for it mightily. That I was the first woman to win for national reporting — I had been brought to New York to do a five-part series on the violent antiwar Weatherman group — made it only worse. I could see it in their bowed heads: We’ve been striving for years to win that coveted prize and a 24-year-old walks away with it! The entire bureau of men refused to speak to me that day and the days after.

I was haunted by the creeping conviction that I didn’t deserve the prize — I should give it back. For at least the next 10 years, I was too ashamed to tell people I’d won.

But, isn’t that the point? To be more precise, when men who have been working their way up the prestige ladder in the newsroom for many years do not receive a reward but saw it given to a woman who had been there for twenty minutes, they might believe that sexual politics, as it was called back then, or affirmative action or diversity quotas have entered into the equation. And have rigged the system against them. This would provoke no small amount of hostility.

Shelby Steele has remarked, and the point has not been taken seriously enough, that when college admissions and corporate hiring practices are skewed to favor minority candidates—he could have added, women—then people will assume that any minority candidate or woman has gotten the job for reasons that have nothing to do with merit. If said candidate wins an award people will naturally assume that it is unearned… better yet, that it was unjustly taken from them. This produces resentment. Affirmative action and diversity quotas are a poisoned gift.

Sexual politics appears to rig the system, to rig it against men. Add to this another factor, one that applies to female candidates but not to racial minorities. Has is ever happened that a woman has advanced her career by offering sexual favors to a male superior? Perish the thought. 

When you stop laughing, consider this variation on Steele’s argument: when women are promoted beyond their accomplishments, men will assume that the game has been rigged. But they will also assume that the women are either fulfilling a diversity quota or have traded sexual favors for career advancement. Has this simple fact contributed to the wave of sexual harassment? It is worth thinking about it.

Of course, to be fair, no one ever accused Hillary Clinton of sleeping her way to the top. She did, however, marry her way to the top. How better to become a partner in the Rose Law Firm than to marry a leading political figure in the state? How better to become a United States Senator, the Secretary of State and a presidential candidate, than to be married to a former president. 

Hillary Clinton is the poster child for women who have not advanced because of their competence, but who married their way to the top. Again, this rigs the system. Feminists fall all over themselves saying that HRC was eminently qualified, but, as we have often noticed, they are simply exposing the fact that they are consumed by ideological zeal.

Speaking of ideological zeal, consider the rant that Michelle Goldberg wrote for the Times this morning.

Quite explicitly, she wants to weaponize the #MeToo movement and to turn it against Republicans. She is slightly discommoded by the fact that most of the men who are being accused travel in liberal and progressive circles, support feminism and fund Planned Parenthood.

But the revolution is smaller than it first appears. So far, it has been mostly confined to liberal-leaning sectors like entertainment, the media, academia, Silicon Valley and the Democratic Party. It hasn’t rocked the Republicans, corporate America or Wall Street — with some exceptions— because these realms are less responsive to feminist pressure.

She assumes that the sexual harassers in Republican precincts like Wall Street are simply doing better at hiding. For the record Goldberg does not recognize that Wall Street and Silicon Valley—the bastions of corporate America—are not filled with Republicans. They are Democratic Party redoubts. Wall Street bankers funded the Obama election campaigns very generously. As for Silicon Valley, at many of the biggers firms you will be fired if you are a Republican. But... don't let the facts get in the way of an ideologically driven narrative.

If you are consumed with burning hot ideological zeal, the first thing to go is the ability to think straight. As for Goldberg's insistence on the Revolution, how blind do you have to be to understand that the ideology of revolution, the kind that was going to overthrow the capitalist order and install a Worker’s Paradise, has been tried and has failed? It failed miserably. Those who suffered the horrors inflicted by Marxists revolutionaries will look at a Goldberg and think that she is no longer living in the real world.

Note this also. The feminist movement, in stark opposition to Martin Luther King’s civil rights movement, brought radical leftist ideology into the workplace. The civil rights movement sought integration. The feminist movement, in its radical incarnations, wanted to overthrow the patriarchy and to rebel against the capitalist order.

If this is the express intention of the feminist movement, an employee might think twice about hiring or trusting a female employee? Now, as we among many others have pointed out, the #MeToo wave will undoubtedly make it far more difficult for women to be hired or to be mentored by men.

Goldberg thinks that this is all going to be solved by giving women political power. She explains:

For doing something, she and all the others who have exposed the sexual degradation that mars so many professional lives deserve our gratitude and admiration. They’ve made things tangibly better for the women in their industries. But ultimately, the cultural currency of the #MeToo movement is not a substitute for political power. The incendiary rage unleashed by Trump’s election needs to be directed back at him. Otherwise, only those who already advocate women’s equality will be forced to grant it.

Of course, the poisoned gift of #MeToo will probably not make things better for women in business. They might suffer less sexual harassment, but that does not mean that women will be respected. They might just be avoided, as though they are radioactive. 

If the feminist movement, in its less radical incarnation, wanted to ensure that women be respected in the workplace and have the same career opportunities as men, then clearly #MeToo tells us that feminism failed. A zealot like Goldberg will react as all radical ideologues—by craving more and more radicalism. As she says, men must be forced to do what women tell them to do. Or better, what the feminist program prescribes. If you do not understand that this is going to produce blow back, push back and outright hostility you are living an ideological fairy tale.

Goldberg is current consumed by her “incendiary rage.” Apparently, she sees herself as a blowtorch. Of course, that is more the problem than the solution. Why would you want to hire women who are consumed by incendiary rage? Do you want a female blowtorch roaming around the office pretending to be strong and empowered? Do you want to do business with a woman who suffers from incendiary rage, who threatens to burn you, to blow you up, to destroy your life? Do you want to marry a woman who is burning up with rage against men? 

Goldberg gives herself an out when she says that she is really directing her blowtorch at Donald Trump, and when she allows that Democrats are generally to be excused their predations because they are moral paragons. Still, it does not take too many little gray cells to see that she has skewed the argument against Republicans because she wants to keep in touch with the Democrat men in her life. Being oblivious to the role the Clintons played in the current wave of harassment allegations might mask an effort, not just to gain political power, but to divide men against each other and to offer absolution to men who agree with her politics.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Good-bye Pajama Boy; Hello, Mad Dog

If Barack Obama had been president reporters would be falling over themselves singing his praises. Since Donald Trump—a man recently called the Devil Incarnate by famed Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Tribe—is president, the story gets filed away under curiosities. Good to see a Harvard Law Professor contributing to our deliberative democracy.

Anyway, the news is, that the Islamic State, ISIS has been thoroughly defeated in Iraq and is almost completely defeated in Syria. Good news, don’t you think?

Why did it happen? For one thing, we no longer have Pajama Boy running the war. In his place, we have Mad Dog. I was going to say that Donald Trump is in leading the charge, but, in truth Trump’s best decision was to delegate authority to Defense Secretary James Mattis and to the generals. They knew what to do and knew how to do it. Within a year, the Caliphate—a product of Obama administration policy in Iraq and Syria—was defeated.

It’s all about rules of engagement. The Obama administration called off military strikes for fear of having anyone get hurt. Unwilling to engage the fight, the Obama team cowered in the corner. Doesn’t that sound like what supposedly happened in Benghazi?

Hollie McKay reports from Baghdad:

Hundreds of ISIS fighters had just been chased out of a northern Syrian city and were fleeing through the desert in long convoys, presenting an easy target to U.S. A-10 "warthogs."

But the orders to bomb the black-clad jihadists never came, and the terrorists melted into their caliphate -- living to fight another day. The events came in August 2016, even as then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump was vowing on the campaign trail to let generals in his administration crush the organization that, under President Obama, had grown from the “jayvee team” to the world’s most feared terrorist organization.

McKay reports the extent of the American victory:

Just over a year later, ISIS has been routed from Iraq and Syria with an ease and speed that's surprised even the men and women who carried out the mission. Experts say it's a prime example of a campaign promise kept. President Trump scrapped his predecessor’s rules of engagement, which critics say hamstrung the military, and let battlefield decisions be made by the generals in the theater, and not bureaucrats in Washington.

At its peak, ISIS held land in Iraq and Syria that equaled the size of West Virginia, ruled over as many as 8 million people, controlled oilfields and refineries, agriculture, smuggling routes and vast arsenals. It ran a brutal, oppressive government, even printing its own currency.

This does not mean that ISIS has been completely defeated. But, it does mean that the military side of the conflict has been won.

But the military’s job -- to take back the land ISIS claimed as its caliphate and liberate cities like Mosul, in Iraq, and Raqqa, in Syria, as well as countless smaller cities and villages, is largely done. And it has taken less than a year.

“The leadership team that is in place right now has certainly enabled us to succeed,” Brig. Gen. Andrew Croft, the ranking U.S. Air Force officer in Iraq, told Fox News. “I couldn’t ask for a better leadership team to work for, to enable the military to do what it does best.”

President Trump gave a free hand to Mattis, who in May stressed military commanders were no longer being slowed by Washington “decision cycles,” or by the White House micromanaging that existed President Obama. As a result of the new approach, the fall of ISIS in Iraq came even more swiftly than hardened U.S. military leaders expected.

“It moved more quickly than at least I had anticipated,” Croft said. “We and the Iraqi Security Forces were able to hunt down and target ISIS leadership, target their command and control.”

Of course, we still live in a nation of whiners. Those who are not ignoring what is happening in Iraq are expressing their chagrin over the civilian casualties. The never expressed the same chagrin when the caliphate was running wild, destroying lives, raping women, looting and pillaging. The Obamphile left does not like rules of engagement that allow America to win, but prefers rules of engagement that display cowardly weakness and allow the caliphate to flourish.

And, while we are here, ask yourself this: how much of the changes that are happening in the Middle East, from Saudi Arabia to Jerusalem, would not have happened without a firm and resolute American military presence in Iraq and Syria?

Fornicating with Ghosts

If you are a woman and are fed up with men, here’s a solution. Instead of trying or even wanting to have sex with one of those appalling creatures, why not hook up with ghosts. That’s what Amethyst Realm—apparently her real name—did. Don't you think that with a name like that, ghosts would find you especially attractive?

But, Amethyst managed to have sex with 20—count ‘em—ghosts… and therefore was slut-shamed by a judgmental male. One imagines that women would have also slut-shamed her... for keeping all of the ghosts to herself. Don’t we live in the age of oversharing.

Of course, it all sounds like a hoax, but, since in days of yore women—aka witches—were fornicating with devils-- don't ask he how I know-- why not ghosts? Besides, we do not want to be judgmental.

Amethyst Realm, a 27-year-old Brit, is getting slut-shamed for claiming to have had sex with at least 20 ghosts — whom she purportedly prefers to living men.

Realm, from Bristol, England, went on the British TV show “ITV This Morning” on Thursday to discuss her out-of-body-on-body experiences. She says it all began in 2005, when she moved into a haunted home with her then-fiancĂ©.

“It started as an energy, then became physical,” she says. “There was pressure on my thighs and breath on my neck. I just always felt safe. I had sex with the ghost. You can feel it. It’s difficult to explain,” she says.

Realm continued this supernatural affair for three years, but had to end it when she got caught by her husband (she claims he saw a shadowy shape of a man on top of her).

Since that first steamy supernatural encounter, Realm says she’s hooked up with at least 20 ghosts.

When she told her story on television, the host suggested that it was a bit of a slutty thing to do. The Huffington Post called him out for slut-shaming her. What would we do without the HuffPost.

And yet, an astute commentator pointed out that, if it started 12 years ago and if she is now 27, well that means that she was engaged to marry and also her first ghost when she was 15:

“She had a fiancĂ© at 15?” writes one HuffPost commentator. “Is she originally from Alabama?”

Obviously, she needs to sue the ghosts for pedophilia, if not sexual harassment:

“Tune in next week [when] she accuses them of sexual harassment and sues them. #shewantsachecktoo,” writes another.

The licensed, credentialed therapist declared that the woman was hallucinating. One can only wonder how she knows.

Really Bad Therapy

Hats off to New York Magazine. The magazine that balances  the psychobabble of Ask Polly with excellent reports about the latest in social psychology—in its Science of Us rubric—has caught on to the fact that certain therapists are not doing their jobs. Many of those who are doing their jobs are not doing them very well. Some of them are positively appalling. All of the patients are women.

And yet, therapists have power in the media. Many stories about therapy seem to have been written by the therapists’ own PR firms.  The horror stories seem to have been filed away as anomalous.

Now, New York Magazine has collected some stories about bad things that happen in therapy. We are brimming with gratitude and happily report a few of them… for your edification.

The first therapist kept talking about herself. I suspect that she was Polly’s therapist:

I swear my therapist was only there to talk about herself. Every time I visited her, she would tell me about her ‘friend.’ It was obviously about her. And then there was the time that she was inspired by my silly fashion and bought the same sweater I always wore to our sessions. Of course, I never would have known this if she hadn’t shown up to our meeting wearing it — while I had mine on, too!”

Another tried to play matchmaker. She set up one patient with another patient—generally a very bad idea. But, the male patient in question seems to have learned courtship by Harvey Weinstein.  Somehow the therapist did not know. Or else, she did not care:

My therapist set me up with another one of her patients, who was a writer. He wrote about the porn industry and lived, literally, in a closet. For our first date, he met me at work. I had to swing by my place to change before we went out. So I went to the bathroom to freshen up, and when I came out, he was lying naked on my bed. I had known him for five minutes. At first, I was confused as to why my therapist would set me up with such a schmuck, so I confronted her about it. She laughed it off, and then she immediately wanted me to pay my bill.

Another therapist was a Hillary Clinton supporter who was obsessed with Donald Trump. That’s all she wanted to talk about:

Around the election last year, my old therapist asked me every session if I was a Republican. When I reminded her that I was not, she would go on to talk to me about all her clients who she thinks supports Trump. Obsessed with Trump all day, all night. That is all she talked about. One day, we got into it. I went to her to talk about my stress at home, but she kept asking me about Hillary. I was a huge Hillary fan. So was she. Then she made the biggest mistake. She told me that an educated, rich, white politician (Hillary) had suffered more than any woman in the world. She said Hillary had endured the most as a woman … ever! I said, ‘More than enslaved black women?’ She said yes. I was like, Girl, bye. My next session was scheduled for the day after the election. Hillary lost. I was upset, but knew I couldn’t listen to her whine about Donald Trump for the next four to eight years. So I rescheduled my appointment. She fired me as a patient, saying I no-showed. Whatever.

And then there’s the therapist who should be sued or prosecuted—I am not sure which:

I sent him an email that I had to quit him out of the interest of time. He responded with the most threatening letter a mother could imagine; using all my personal secrets against me and even threatening to have my kids taken away from me because, he said, this decision to quit him made me seem very unstable to him. It felt like he was holding me hostage. I was nervous every day for months that someone was going to come to my house and take my kids. It’s been about a year now and he’s never done anything — but even talking about the situation freaks me out immensely.

As for the notion that therapists, for having themselves undergone therapy, are of superior mental health and emotional stability… what can I say that would make them look worse than they make themselves look?

Friday, December 8, 2017

Shifting Sands in the Middle East

All the teeth-gnashing you hear is coming from the foreign policy grandees who have worked ceaselessly to produce peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. They have done their best to be honest brokers, not taking one side or the other, trying to give equal face to both contenting parties.

As Dr. Phil likes to say: How is that working out?

With a stroke of his pen President Trump has exposed the fatuity of it all. There never was a real peace process. The Palestinians never wanted to live in peace. They wanted to destroy Israel and to kill as many Jews as possible. Legitimating them as participants in a peace process keeps bigotry alive and allows the Palestinians to represent their cause as yet another chapter in the worldwide revolution against capitalist hegemony.

I would like to point out that if you think that the Marxist cause is still alive, you have a sorely deficient view of history.

As Mahmoud Abbas learned from the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, the war is over and the Palestinian cause, initiated by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, a close ally of Adolph Hitler, is finished. The only thing that remains is to negotiate the terms of surrender.

Anyway, for today a couple of interesting and thoughtful articles. In the New York Times, the left leaning Roger Cohen finds solace in the fact that Donald Trump did not perpetuate the peace process nonsense.

He wrote:

It was, at least, not more of the same peace-process blather.

Yet, Cohen did not see the peace process as a way for the Palestinians to fight a war that they could not fight any other way. He saw it as a means for Israel to expand its hegemony.

In his words:

If anything the “process” has been ideal camouflage for the steady growth in the number of Israeli settlers (now more than 600,000), favored by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government. It has given steady Israeli expansionism the international benediction of mythical reversibility. I am not convinced Trump gave a lot away.

One might notice that the Palestinians have been at war with Israel for every day of its existence. And one might note that Israel did evacuate Gaza and give it over the Hamas. How did that one work out, Roger? True enough, as Cohen noted, the Palestinian people live under occupation and feel humiliated by Israel. If they had been willing to call off their war and stop the terrorism they would find themselves living with less humiliation. If not, then perhaps, as I have often suggested, the only way forward is with more humiliation.

As for those who are wringing their crying towels over the fiercely ferocious power of righteous Palestinians, Cohen remarks that Palestinian policy has manifested powerlessness:

Well, Trump has provoked the unswerving ire of the Palestinians (who now refuse to meet with Vice President Mike Pence during his upcoming visit) and destroyed any chance of peace. But there is nothing unswerving about Palestinian policy. It is big on rhetoric, feeble in action, reflecting powerlessness. 

Frankly, it is time that the United States took sides with Israel, as Saudi Arabia apparently has. True enough, it will take time for the Palestinians to throw a few face-saving riots. But, eventually, they will probably come around… what choice do they have?

Trump said his statement did not prejudge “the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem,” but its most damaging aspect was to give strong implicit backing to Israel’s claims, with no mention of Palestine’s. It also put American lives in danger and humiliated a people, the Palestinians, whose lives under a 50-year-old occupation are a daily exercise in humiliation. It flouted United Nations Security Council resolutions, so undermining international law.

As for the situation in Saudi Arabia, key to the current machinations in the Middle East, we turn to Myron Magnet in the City Journal.

Happily, Magnet sees the situation in much the same terms that I have. This explains why I have given the matter so much attention on this blog:

How extraordinary to see a world-historical revolution unfolding before one’s eyes and not know how it will turn out: that’s what’s happening right now in Saudi Arabia. 

At one level it’s an economic story, with Saudi Arabia trying to drag its people into the modern world, to give them opportunities, to advance their economic prospects and to wean themselves from dependence on oil revenue:

Economic modernization and diversification, the prince saw, were essential, and they required social liberalization as the first order of business, beginning with allowing women to drive cars, the royal road to women’s liberation. Already, Saudi women are casting off the hijab and seizing modern social pleasures. The important point is that half the kingdom’s potential workforce will become free to produce, with hugely positive consequences for the economy.

As we all know the Saudi royal family has been funding terrorism around the world. Considering that the family has thousands of members, we do not know which ones are sneaking money to al Qaeda or ISIS and which ones are financing schools that teach radical Islam. We can guess that some of those responsible are now under house arrest in the Ritz Carlton in Riyadh.

Magnet explains:

Crucially, the royal family will find it harder to fund the radical Wahhabi Islam that OPEC has let grow like mushrooms. It’s hard to imagine that this well-established, well-fed worldwide network of terrorist-supporting fanatics, in their opulent mosques and madrassas—and especially in the more Spartan ones in Pakistan—will go quietly; little wonder that the prince has surrounded himself with a repressive security apparatus reminiscent of the Shah of Iran’s. He appears to be a quiet but inexorable foe of Muslim extremism, and consequently it is uncertain that he will emerge from his heroic and visionary remaking of the Saudi order with his head intact on his shoulders. 

The situation is fluid. We do not know how it will work out. We all hope for the best, but we recognize that the course of history never did run smooth:

Recall that the Protestant Reformation ignited three decades of ferocious religious warfare in Europe, laced with massacre, torture, and forced exile. Let’s hope that the Islamic version is short and mild, but conclusive enough to deglamorize the dream of terrorism not only in the Middle East but also in the minds of those Western Muslims whose cultural alienation has sparked so much vile carnage. They, like so many others, have nothing to lose but their ideological chains.

[Addendum: See also Jonah Goldberg's column today in National Review.]

[Addendum 2: See also Bret Stephens in the New York Times. h/t AO]

Thursday, December 7, 2017

The Armies of the Timorous

The armies of the terrorized are mobilizing. Led by Great Britain and France, they are in full chickenshit mode, retreating to their bunkers, the better to weather the otherworldly wrath of the Arab street. They are so worried and so fearful and so timorous about President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital that they are showing that terrorism works… it produces so much fear that the cowards among us are running off to capitulate.

Shadi Hamid offers a useful and sober analysis in The Atlantic. The analysis is made especially salient because it echoes points that I have been making on this blog.

For those who believe that Arab nations will rise up and smite the infidel West, Hamid offers some perspective:

Most Arab countries won’t care much about Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, which might seem counterintuitive. The official announcement, though, comes at an important and peculiar time, when Arab regimes—particularly Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt—find themselves more aligned than ever with Israel on regional priorities. They all share, along with the Trump administration, a near obsession with Iran as the source of the region’s evils; a dislike, and even hatred, of the Muslim Brotherhood; and an opposition to the intent and legacy of the Arab Spring.

As I have been mentioning, Arab nations are forging diplomatic alliances with Israel. This is especially true of Saudi Arabia through the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Again, I have reported extensively on this matter:

The Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, has developed a close relationship with Trump senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner (who recently outlined the administration’s Middle East vision at my institution, Brookings). If Saudi officials, including the crown prince himself, were particularly concerned with Jerusalem’s status, they would presumably have used their privileged status as a top Trump ally and lobbied the administration to hold off on such a needlessly toxic move. As my colleague Shibley Telhami argues, there was little compelling reason, in either foreign policy or domestic political terms, for Trump to do this. This is a gratuitous announcement, if there ever was one, and it’s unlikely Trump would have followed through if the Saudis had drawn something resembling a red line, so to speak.

Hamid is correct to point out that if the Saudis had wanted to stop the Trump announcement, they could have done so. Some representatives of their government did note that they were not happy about it, but clearly they have more influence than that. Apparently, they did not want to use it.

As for Hamid’s argument that there was no compelling reason for Trump to do as he did, perhaps there was a reason and perhaps we do not know it. We do know that MBS has been advancing a reform agenda with all deliberate speed. Part of that agenda involves supporting Israeli efforts to stop Iran’s encroachment in Syria. Israeli forces have recently attacked Iranian positions in Syria and the Prime Minister of Israel told the Syrians and the Lebanese that he would not tolerate an Iranian presence on his borders.

If that describes the state of the game, then the next move, or non-move, was quiet Saudi acquiescence to something that the Israelis wanted.

Hamid also notes that the new Saudi peace plan, reported in the New York Times and on this blog, was far friendlier to Israel than even many Israeli proposals. This fact signaled a diplomatic realignment and an abandonment of the lost Palestinian cause:

Falling short of even what previous Israeli leaders Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert had considered, the Saudi proposal, by the Times’s account, would have asked Palestinians to accept limited sovereignty in the West Bank and forfeit claims on Jerusalem. Whether or not the Saudi crown prince presented this “plan” out of sincerity or as a gambit to lower the bar and pressure Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to make concessions is almost beside the point. That these ideas were even so much as floated suggests a Saudi regime increasingly close to both Israel as well as the Trump administration. 

Hamid is surely correct that Trump’s move yesterday will not harm America’s alliances. He suggests that it might be received less graciously by the Arab street. And yet, we have seen reported in numerous places that the reforms instituted by MBS are wildly popular among everyday Saudi subjects. Evidently, Saudi Arabia is not the only Arab country, but we should keep the point in mind when evaluating Hamid’s argument:

No one, then, should fall under the illusion that declaring Jerusalem Israel’s capital will harm America’s alliances with most, or even many, Arab nations (Jordan being a notable exception). The fact that most Arab countries are autocracies, though, complicates the matter, since unelected, unaccountable regimes do not generally reflect popular sentiment, particularly when it comes to the Palestinian conflict. Arab leaders have been content to use Palestine and Palestinians for rhetorical effect and to absorb or deflect popular anger over their own failures and missteps. But for Arab populations, Palestine still matters, even if primarily on a symbolic level (and if we’ve learned anything in recent years, it’s that symbols matter). 

The Case of Mrs. Fidget

Let’s call her Mrs. Fidget. She is writing to Ask Polly— big mistake, that—to complain about her inability to sit still. She is a millennial woman who has a husband, a home and a dog. She has a great career and even goes to see a therapist. She is seeing the therapist to take care of herself and to control her anxiety.

I share her letter because it shows a young woman who supposedly has it all and who cannot stand being alone with herself. It also shows how well therapy has not been working for her. If this is a good therapy outcome, if therapy is helping her with her problems… well, I leave it to you to decide whether or not it is serving her well.

Here are some excerpts from her letter:

I’m a millennial woman. I’m living the easy life of good finances, with a loving, funny husband, owning a home and a dog, and I have a blooming career at a workplace that I am proud of, and where I feel very supported. I take care of myself with a regular therapist to help my anxiety and by going to the gym. I like the person I’m growing into, and my life has become something I like.

As long as she is on the treadmill, everything is fine. Apparently, work is so satisfying that she cannot bear not to be working. Without knowing any more than what Mrs. Fidget is sharing you might think that she is suffering from a neurological condition or even PMS. We do not know, but between her licensed, credentialed therapist and Polly, no one seems to think that consulting with a physician would be a good idea. Otherwise she seems to have so thoroughly committed herself to an ideology that she cannot think straight.

Anyway, a little time on vacation brings out her worst:

However, whenever life stops for more than two days, without fail, my personality turns into a snarling piece of harebrained shit. Every. Time. I find this happens when I stop having a schedule, work, or anything on my calendar and I’m forced to entertain myself. Stuff starts seeming meaningless, my hobbies like just stupid things to fill the time until I croak. I become more desperate for friends to respond to my texts, and I find myself clawing my phone when they don’t reply within a day to hang out with me. I get lonely in my room I used to love, sobbing, and lash out at my husband as he seems so at ease in the house on day two of wearing only his robe. It’s terrible, vindictive, and yet I don’t know how to stop.

It gets worse:

I try to keep busy, but I start hating things I liked. My knitting projects and my hobbies seem dumb, and every book I read suddenly makes me think “What is the point?” They’re all terrible and purposeless. I don’t want to do anything.

She is easily bored by travel, even when she is traveling with her husband. So much for conjugal bliss:

Traveling is terrible. I love new cities, and new experiences, but without a plan, I suddenly find myself bored in the middle of a bustling city like London. Resorts where you’re lying at a beach every day? Forget it. By day three, I start to fidget and wonder why my husband just wants to lie in total laziness like a sloth. On day six, I start feeling like I don’t love him anymore. Two days after I go back to work, it evaporates.
She describe her less-than-joyful vacation:

So here I am, on day three of a vacation. My husband being sick, and me being up at 8 a.m. crying because I don’t have anything to do except be by myself, and nothing I have here brings me joy. I signed myself up for a shift of volunteering this afternoon, and my stomach is cramping at the thought of those hours until then where I have to sit here, waiting. My husband suggested I go to a coffee shop, and I was a breath away from screaming at him for it. Why would I pay to sit in a room of strangers to do the same thing I’m doing here, sit still and be unhappy? Isn’t he just trying to kick me out of the house so I don’t distract his lazy ass from sinking farther into his computer chair?

You get the picture. She is so completely self-absorbed—from having too much therapy, I surmise—that she is incapable of giving anything of herself to her husband. Or to anything other than her career… where have we heard that before?

Allow me to mention the 800 pound gorilla in the room, the point that Polly, who wastes space solipsistically sharing her own life story— as though anyone cares—ignores completely. Why doesn’t Mrs. Fidget, a married woman of childbearing age—she’s a millennial—have a child or two or three? She does not raise the question. She does not seem to care about the issue. Polly regales us with stories about her children, but cannot bring herself to raise this salient point.

But, could it be that the emptiness Mrs.Fidget feels in her life derives from her having postponed childbearing in favor of a career. Does she refuse to slow down and think about her situation because she might have to reassess her priorities?

Otherwise, she might be suffering from what Pascal famously described as the human condition:

  • J'ai dit souvent que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.
In English: “I have often said that all of men’s miseries comes from only one thing: not knowing how to sit quietly in a room.”

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Catch of the Day

The Daily Mail provides definitive visual proof that size does matter.

Size does matter: Two friends hold up their respective catches of the day - and the difference is significant