Saturday, March 25, 2017

When Jack Becomes Jill

If there’s any consolation, the story comes to us from Great Britain, from the BBC. A television documentary entitled: “Young, Trans and Looking for Love” has discovered the brutal reality: when a young boy who thinks he is a girl goes out to try to pick up boys, he quickly discovers that when a boy learns that the boy who thinks he is a girl has boy parts he ceases to manifest any romantic interest.

Apparently, it never crosses anyone’s mind that these boys who think they are girls might try to pick up gay guys. I am confident that a gay male will not be put off by their boy parts.

There you have it. Problem solved. Sort of….

The producers of the documentary are puzzled. How does it happen in our enlightened age that these lotharios refuse to accept these boys who think they are girls for whoever they think they are? How dare they care about anatomy or even chromosomes?

The Mirror reports:

Claire has also begun making social media diaries of her transition, sharing her experiences with transgender teens across the world.

Hoping on finding a boyfriend, she reveals that she doesn't like telling people the truth and is desperate for an operation.

She says: "In a lot of ways, I don't like telling a guy. Once I tell him all respect goes out of the window.

"Straight guys just can't get over you having the male parts.

"Once I've had or get the surgery, I think it will change a lot for me because right now if I meet a straight guy and he doesn't know - we can't get physical if I don't tell him.

"And then if he finds out, things just get so complicated, I can't even begin to explain."

Are these young people born that way or are they being induced to choose to believe they are transgendered. The medical profession in the US, for example, approves fully of this mass delusion. Of course, there are still a few recalcitrant outliers who think it’s all a delusion, but they are being drowned out… in the name of scientific fact. Link here.

But, the medical profession has failed to explain to Claire that no surgery can turn male genitalia into female genitalia. Surgeons can produce a reasonable facsimile, but they cannot produce the real thing. I will spare you the details. Of course, other aspects of female anatomy will obviously be lacking. All the hormones in the world are not going to cause him to grow a uterus and ovaries.

Of course, the BBC presents this all as something akin to growing pains. And yet, despite what the cowed medical professionals think, we are still dealing with … a belief. People who could not bring themselves to believe in God, are happy to believe that a child is whatever gender he or she chooses to be. People who proclaim their allegiance to science imagine that some people have been given the wrong bodies and are really members of the opposite sex.

No one seems to care that these young people have XY chromosomes and that this is unalterable. As Camille Paglia famously said, this is a sign of cultural collapse.

Worse yet, when the media presents this as just another lifestyle choice it risks manipulating children into believing that they are transgendered. If it’s all about belief, it is possible to manipulate belief. A boy who finds that he is attracted to boys might very well think that he may choose between being gay or being transgendered. The media and the medical profession has given him an option: to mutilate himself and to allow his body to be invaded by hormones... without anyone really knowing the long term effects of said treatments. One does well to consult Ethan Watters’ book: Crazy Like Us… which tells us about media induced psycho epidemics.

If a boy lives in Iran, apparently the nation leading the world in gender reassignment surgery, he has a very good reason to choose to be transgendered. If he announces that he is gay he will be hanged.

How much of this condition is being produced by the media frenzy that presents it as just another way to correct God’s mistake? The great proponents of political correctness and equal rights ought to ask themselves how much responsibility they bear for producing new cases of transgenderism.

Rationing Health Care in England

Will there be socialized medicine in our future? Who knows? As of now it seems more likely than not.

Faced with the difficult choice between opining on the debacle of Ryancare or was it Trumpcare, I prefer to offer yet another example from the wondrous British National Health System. You know, the one that looks to be coming closer by the day.

As we all know, and in despite of what Paul Krugman thinks, the NHS rations health care. If we want universal, high quality, affordable health care, the trouble, as a wise man once said, is that you can only have two. So, choose which two you prefer and you can have them: if it’s universal and high quality it will be unaffordable. If it’s affordable it will be low quality universal or high quality non-universal. Pick your poison. Just don't think that you can have it all. 

Anyway, over in England, where they even ration bariatric surgery for the morbidly obese, the word now is that if you want to jump to the front of the line for such surgery you need to become even more obese. Yes, indeed, the NHS rationing system promotes ill health… because that’s the way to get treatment when treatment is rationed.

The Daily Mail has the compelling story. One notes with some chagrin that the DM uses the utterly and totally incorrect term: "fat people." Of course, we deplore the use of such language, though we are comforted that it is gender neutered.

Anyway, the Daily Mail reports:

Rationing of surgery to treat clinically obese people means that some need to become 'super-obese' before they are allowed a weight loss operation, a new report suggests.

Some regions in England are demanding that patients must have a body mass index score of over 50 before they qualify for bariatric surgery.

Health experts are concerned that the message sent to obese patients is to get fatter so they can access surgery.

Those who have a BMI [Body Mass Index] score of over 30 are classed as obese, while those who surpass a 50 reading are clinically classed as super-obese.

The new report from the British Obesity and Metabolic Surgery Society and the Royal College of Surgeons is based on Freedom of Information requests to all clinical commissioning groups  across England.

These groups have now taken to lobbying for an end to the rationing. Which is surely a good idea. And yet, unless the government of Great Britain has limitless funds, when it stops rationing in one place it will soon be rationing somewhere else.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Stop Complaining! Do Your Work!

Vindication is sweet. Often have I counseled a no-drama approach to the workplace. And to everyday life too. I have often suggested that it is better to see life as a game than as a drama. It's better to see yourself as a player than as a thespian.

Now, a  study from the European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology has demonstrated that I was correct. It tells us that it is best not to complain and not to dramatize issues that arise in the workplace. Instead of complaining you should show what the authors call sportsmanship. Yes, indeed.

Their abstract tells the story; with apologies for quoting academese:

We explicitly focused on good sportsmanship or abstaining from unnecessary complaints and criticism as a possible moderator of the effects of daily negative work events on daily work engagement and positive affect. 

We tested this possibility with a 3-day diary study among 112 employees. As expected, we found that daily negative events lowered daily engagement and momentary positive affect for two consecutive days. However, this effect only held on days that people exhibited low sportsmanship. For days that people exhibited high sportsmanship, there were no significant effects. Creating a resource rich work environment that enhances individuals’ sportsmanship behaviour can help to minimize the unfavourable impact of daily negative events.

Negative work events are inevitable. How you handle them is not. If you follow the lame advice offered by the denizens of the therapy culture you will feel compelled to confront the person who offended you or even the person who did not do his job very. You might want to vent your deepest feelings, because you have been told that bottling them up will give you cancer. And you might even choose to lean in, the better to show them how tough and strong and assertive you are. The research suggests that such is a bad approach. It is posturing, not gamesmanship.

You should not see yourself as a human monad trying to regulate the pressure of your emotional gasses but as a team member whose goal should be to advance the best interests of the team.

Alex Fradera explains the research in the Research Digest of the British Psychological Society:

But when sportsmanship was high – meaning that participants hadn’t complained, escalated minor issues, or stewed over things too much – bad events, even if rated as severe, didn’t impact mood or work engagement, that day or the next. Demeroutia and Cropanzano think there may be two reasons for this. Firstly, revisiting the event gives it a second wind, further reinforcing the association between it and the normally transient negative emotions that were initially provoked, turning a bad experience into That Bad Experience. Secondly, if complaints are poorly expressed or directed at the wrong person, they can exacerbate the situation, and that’s all too possible when you are still caught up in a drama.

As for a better alternative when problems need to be solved, Fradera offers this advice, from the research:

When a problem keeps manifesting in an organisation or relationship you need to resolve it, and that begins by putting it into words. But purposeless complaining can just as easily be a way to avoid moving on, the out-loud version of mental rumination keeping us in its undertow. Demeroutia and Cropanzano point to more constructive methods like expressive writing, which have an evidence base showing success in making sense of negative experience. This form of reflection, or attentive conversation focused on straightening out a knotty problem, are vastly preferred to unconstructive venting.

Negotiate your differences. Don't dramatize them. The first can solve a problem. The second cannot. One is amused to note that the out-loud version of mental rumination corresponds well to what used to be called Freudian free association.

The moral of the story comes from director Lee Daniels. In his words: “Stop complaining.” “Do your work.”

Immigrant Children in Public Schools

The authors of the report do not consider the effect it’s having on American education, but an influx of poor uneducated non-English speaking immigrant children is surely not improving anyone’s academic prospects.

When we were discussing the gang rape of a fourteen year old in Rockville High School we raised the question of what happens to a child’s education when too many classmates do not speak English. How much learning can take place? How much classroom time is consumed by the need to discipline children who do not understand what is being said?

Steven Camerota has analyzed the statistics. He has discovered that the number of immigrant children has exploded over the past years. Surely this poses a problem.

He writes in the Daily Signal:

We find that nationally, nearly one in four students in public schools is now from an immigrant household (legal or illegal). The number of children from immigrant households in schools is now so high in some areas that it raises profound questions about assimilation.

What’s more, immigration has added enormously to the number of students who are in poverty or speak a foreign language.

All of this has occurred with little debate over the capacity of our schools to educate and integrate these students into our culture.

As recently as 1980, just seven percent of public school students were from immigrant households, compared to 23 percent today.

High-immigration states have seen even more dramatic increases: eight percent to 35 percent in Nevada, 11 percent to 34 percent in New Jersey, and 10 percent to 31 percent in Texas. Even in states that are not traditional immigrant destinations, such as Minnesota, Alaska, and Kansas, one in seven students are now from an immigrant household.

How well will these children be able to assimilate? Not very well, if at all. The issue is statistical. The higher the concentration of immigrant children in one area the more likely the community will retain the customs and the language of the old country.

On the one side, it is something of a saving grace that immigrant children live together. This means that there are fewer places like Rockville where a third of the students do not speak English and where students speak over a dozen different languages. (One notes, in passing, that this cacophonous Tower of Babel fulfills the great multicultural wish.) And yet, if immigrant communities are more homogeneous their children are less likely to assimilate. We are not at the point that Europe has reached with Muslim no-go zones in major cities-- we are a much larger nation-- but still the problem is there.

Camerota reports:

Immigrant households are very concentrated: Just 700 of the nation’s 2,351 Public Use Micro Areas account for two-thirds of students from immigrant households, but only one-third of the total public school enrollment.

There are many Public Use Micro Areas in which the overwhelming majority of students are from immigrant households—for example, 93 percent of students in North Central Hialeah City, Florida are from immigrant households, as are 91 percent in the Jackson Heights and North Corona parts of New York City, 85 percent in the Westpark Tollway neighborhood of Houston, and 78 percent in Annandale, Virginia.

As for the use of English in the home, the numbers look like this:

Immigration has also added enormously to the population of students who speak a foreign language. In 2015, nearly one in five students in the country spoke a language other than English at home.

As the old saying goes: Houston, we have a problem! We all know that this problem will cause more and more parents to withdraw their children from the public schools. Otherwise they would be sacrificing their children to the gods of multiculturalism.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Case of Whiny McWhinerson

I am not going to strain your mercy today so I will not share Ask Polly’s thoughts about her newest letter writer. You know already that, whatever the woman’s problems, Polly is going to share some irrelevant and uninteresting information about her own life , then to tell the woman to feel her feelings.

As might be expected, women who write to Polly are often whiners. Today’s letter writer is different, because she has a wee bit of perspective on her habit of complaining about her good life. She dubs herself: “Whiny McWhinerson.” I am not sure why she had to tack a “son” on to it, but she gets extra credit for her self-deprecating humor.

In any case, Whiny McWhinerson is seriously upset about the lack of justice in the world. She is not going to storm the barricades and burn down the White House. She is not going to protest for women’s rights behind a leader who thinks that women have it great in Saudi Arabia and she is not going on strike behind a female terrorist who was convicted of murdering Jews.

Whiny’s problem is not really about her life. It is about her ex-boyfriend’s life. You see, Whiny has it pretty good. She has the baby she wanted, she has a wonderful boyfriend and she lives in a nice house, etc. She is not sick and she is not crazy. She has it pretty good. She says nothing about wanting or not wanting to be married, so we will ignore that question.

In this luminous paragraph Whiny describes her ex and recounts in some details the horrors he subjected her to. Gruesome does not begin to do it justice:

I sometimes feel consumed with thoughts about my narcissistic ex-boyfriend. I by no means want to get back together with him, as he is a glistening turd of a human being. He treated me like shit for the three years we were together, like straight-up emotional abuse. He was often very cruel to me, and there were times when I feared him. He would criticize my every move, refuse to pick up his phone for days on end, humiliate me in front of our friends, blame any- and everything on me … the works. He had no empathy, and I’m certain he has some kind of personality disorder. When he eventually dumped me after three exhausting years, I was devastated. 

But, Whiny recovered:

A year later, I met my current boyfriend, who is a lovely, kind, and loyal person. I got my happy ending, however cheesy that may sound. So why am I not … happier?

You will readily agree that Whiny has a way with images. Think of it—better yet, try not to think of it—a relationship between a glistening turd and a piece of shit. It sounds like an assholistic relationship.

You are also thinking to  yourself: why did she allow it to go on for three years? Admittedly, she was crushed by being dumped, but-- Heaven help us—why did she not do the dumping? If he was as bad as she thought, what was she waiting around for—a metamorphosis that would turn him from a glistening turd into a prince?

If it was as bad as she says—I do not doubt her word—and she stuck around for three years, refusing to disengage, what was she thinking? She does not tell us, so we will not speculate.

Anyway, Whiny is completely unhappy to see that her glistening turd of an ex-boyfriend has moved on and is doing very, very well, indeed. Alchemy has turned him into a golden boy.

My ex has a new girlfriend, and they seem to be in love. Whenever I run into him (we have the same circle of friends), he goes out of his way to convince me that he’s redeemed himself and his life is an assembly of highlights. Today, when I checked his Instagram (ugh … I know, I know), I saw he bought a huge house with her. He is a film director and makes shitloads of money. He flies business class all over the world. When I saw the picture of their house, my heart sank, and it is NOT because I am still attracted to him or wish I were in his girlfriend’s shoes. It’s not even jealousy (I think). I’ve mulled it over, and I’m pretty sure my question is this: Why does this complete and utter shit-stain get to have everything after the way he treated me?

Of course, if he treated her so badly why did she not dump him? As for the transmogrification of a glistening turd into a “shit-stain” it seems clear that Whiny is trying to tell us something about someone’s bathroom habits or sexual predilections. But we will not indulge in further coprophilic speculations.

Anyway, his newfound success feels to Whiny like a cosmic injustice. She is beginning to doubt God or Zeus or whomever:

I know I’m not God or Zeus or whatever and I don’t get to say who gets to have what, but COME. ON. I’m certainly not a saint and have made my share of mistakes. But I think I can say that I’m a good and sincere person who has always tried to do right by the people around me. I’ve never hurt someone deliberately or been cruel like he has. And now it feels like that all means nothing. Like there’s no point in trying to do and be “good.” I know this must seem very childish, like I’m on the floor throwing a temper tantrum right now and whining “It’s not faaaaiiiir.” I know nothing in life is fucking fair. I see bad things happen to far better people than me every day. And there are FAR, FAR worse problems to have. My thought process is probably flawed in that I think in terms of: good person + hard work = “success,” love, happiness … whatever. I know life isn’t a candy machine, in which you put a coin and get out what you want. I know all that. Then why do I feel so shitty?

In a world defined by her conception of justice, her ex-boyfriend would be suffering the guilt of the damned. He would not be a famous director—when did it happen that film directors became paragons of propriety?—but a grunt pushing around klieg lights on a movie set. He would have no money and would certainly not make more money than her new boyfriend, father of her child. Yes, I understand that she says nothing about comparing the two men, but still, the question does arise.

As for why she feels so shitty… maybe she misses the anal sex?

Of course, I did not really mean that. One notes a couple of salient points. First, that she has told us nothing about what attracted her to her ex. She has made the relationship seem like it belonged in the fifth circle of Dante’s Inferno and then tells us that she did not have the courage or the gumption or the good moral sense to debark from it. One suspects that there was something good about it. Otherwise she is making herself look like the perfect victim and an utter fool.

Nonetheless the question remains intriguing. Allow me a speculation. If she imagines that X was involved in a very bad and abusive relationships with her shittiness but has found a warm loving relationship with another woman, she might conclude that she was part of the problem. If she recalls him being a mediocre aspiring filmmaker when he was with her, what other conclusion could she draw from his current great success and his “shitload” of money?

Naturally, Polly does not have a clue. So, I will tell you. She seems clearly to be questioning whether the problem was not him, but was her. Did she manage to bring out his worst? Did she provoke it? Did he need a different kind of woman to be happy and loving and caring? Did a different woman provide what he needed from a woman, something that she, good social justice warrior, did not or could not or did not know how to provide?

This makes it sound as though she might be blaming herself. And yet, she has only provided one side of what was happening between them, so we are reduced to speculation. For all we know the Strurm und Drang excited her and turned her on. If she understood clearly that she did not deserved to be mistreated and had done nothing to provoke it, why did she stay?

Can We Be Saved by Art?

Back in the day a distinguished professor of literature named George Steiner tried to shed the light of reason on a secular dogma. He suggested that there is nothing magical about great art, that great art does not purify your soul and fill it with the correct opinions. In truth, he noted, the concentration camp guards at Auschwitz spent their leisure time listening to classical music, to Schubert, I believe.

I recalled this thought when reading an article— probably in the New York Times—to the effect that if George W. Bush had developed his artistic talent before he became president he would not have invaded Iraq. Or some such thing.

People who despised W. in their marrow have been trying to explain how it was possible that he seems to have mastered the art of making art, that is, of painting pictures that are not bad at all. In a better world these same people, who did nothing but excoriate and vilify Bush from the onset of his presidency, might reconstruct their own views of Bush, recognizing the good as well as the bad. Alas, it is not going to happen. They do not make mistakes. And they never say they are sorry. They prefer to invoke a counterfactual—if only he had discovered his creativity he would have been a better president.

One understands that Bush himself remained nonplussed by all the criticism directed against him. He played rope-a-dope with the press, much to the chagrin of his supporters. He did not exhaust them and did not start throwing punches at them. One reason why our current president has taken out after the media on Twitter—damaging himself and his presidency in the process—is that he refuses to have happen to him what happened to W. Trump has chosen to fight back against the media. For now he does not seem to be doing very well. But, if Trump has declared war on the media, one reason is that the media demonized George W. Bush and that Trump wanted to return the favor.

Now, Ross Douthat has penned an intriguing column about Jane Austen, of all people. In it he responded to a new panic on the radical left. The alt-left is terrified that the alt-right will appropriate Jane Austen and make her something other than a propagandist for global warming. Or something. Apparently the alt-left cannot imagine that a great artist can have less than the most politically correct opinions. One assumes that these same alt-leftists believe that art achieves its highest purpose when it disseminates politically correct dogmas… which only means that they have no understanding of art or its purpose.

One hastens to point out that art has occasionally been relegated to just such a function… in totalitarian dictatorships. You will recall Nazism and Communism and you will certainly recall the art police who were afoot during Chairman Mao’s Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. During the latter great pogrom Mao’s wife, a leader of the revolution, had dictated that the only opera worth watching was opera that conformed to Mao’s thought. And, of course, the only thoughts worth thinking were those of Mao himself. People were not allowed to read anything else anyway.

Today’s alt-leftists have created their own totalitarian enclaves on college campuses. And they want to bring their favorite authors along with them. If they thrilled to reading Jane Austen, then Jane must be politically correct. They would hate to have to burn all Jane’s books, so they must protect her from the alt-right.

Of course, there’s nothing liberal about this. Yet, Douthat, in a gracious moment, calls them all liberals. In his words:

This is an idea with a powerful hold on the liberal mind — that great literature and art inoculate against illiberalism, that high culture properly interpreted offers a natural rebuke to all that is cruel, hierarchical and unwoke. The idea that if Mike Pence really listened to “Hamilton” he would stand up to Donald Trump … that Barack Obama’s humanistic reading list was somehow in deep tension with his drone strikes … that had George W. Bush only discovered his talent for painting earlier he might not have invaded Iraq … these are conceits that can be rebutted (with Wagner or Céline or Nazis-at-the-symphony references) but always seem to rise again.

Obviously, there’s method in this madness. They are working to create a new religion, a religion of culture, a religion that will form the basis for a new human community, one that is dedicated to the pursuit of justice. It was the great Communist hope; it was even the great Nazi hope. Replacing religion with a new culture is the ultimate goal of the alt-left.

Douthat offers his reasoning:

In part they endure because contemporary liberalism has substituted aestheticism for religion, dreaming of a universal empathy sealed through reading rather than revelation. But they are also powerful because the last few generations have produced very few major artists or movements that are not liberal or left-wing. The defeat and moral disgrace of fascism, the eclipse of traditional religion, the philistinism of American conservatism and the narrowing of post-1989 political debates have all helped forge a political monoculture in the arts and the academy, making the link between literature and liberalism seem natural, inevitable, permanent.

The moral of the story: perhaps the National Endowment for the Arts is not as much about the arts as it is about cultural indoctrination. And perhaps the National Endowment for the Humanities is less about promoting the humanities than about running an indoctrination mill.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Solving the Illegal Immigration Problem

The alt-left narrative tells us that illegal immigrants are fine and wonderful people who have come to America seeking an opportunity to better themselves. Every day you can find a heart-wrenching story about a valedictorian “dreamer” who is terrified that he will be sent back to Central America.

The narrative was recently upset by an event that occurred in Rockville, Maryland. One of those fine young immigrant men, caught and released seven months ago by the Obama administration, joined with another illegal immigrant to rape a fourteen year old girl in the boys room at Rockville High School.

Suddenly, the meme of the tired and hungry refugee yearning to be free crashed on the shoals of reality. If immigrants are here to exploit the system and to abuse Americans the narrative shifts. The Obama administration never said so but it acted as thought the refugees were victims of American imperialism, that they had been oppressed by free enterprise capitalism and that they had a right to come her and take back what had been taken from them. Besides, they were likely to vote Democratic... which signaled their moral superiority.

You probably know that Rockville was about to make itself yet another sanctuary city. Now, that is in serious doubt. Some community do-gooders have just discovered that certain members of the immigrant population are not seeking sanctuary.

Those who believe in opening the doors to anyone, regardless, see these events as tests of their faith. Parents are rightly outraged, but those who see more votes for a waning Democratic Party retain their faith in the goodness of human nature and whatever else.

Of course, the Obama administration had chosen to ship illegals around the country, in order to distribute the pain equally across America. While it does not rise to the level of raping a child, the presence of large numbers of non-English speaking children in public schools effectively ruins everyone else's educational opportunity. If you were wondering why American children cannot compete against their peers in academic scores, you might ask how many of the American children do not speak English or are incapable of learning. If a third of the children in a class do not speak English no one is going to learn very much. If you have a school like Rockville High where children speak nineteen different languages there is not going to be very much education. Until the rape no one was paying attention to this fact.

One understands that the children are in these schools because the Supreme Court ruled that they had to be accepted into school. And yet, at what price for the other children? The pervasive of the problem was produced by an Obama administration policy that allowed a large number of illegals into the country, especially unaccompanied children, and then spread them out around the country.

One also understands that the current state of affairs will cause more and more parents either to send their children to private schools or to homeschool them. Sacrificing your child’s education to a malicious idea ought to be unacceptable.

As it happens very little of this problem will be solved by E-verify, but still, a New York Times editorial (via Maggie’s Farm) makes a salient point. Simply put, it argues that the Trump administration ought to spend some time and money cracking down on employers who are hiring illegal immigrants. Strangely, it says, the Trump budget spends next to nothing on E-verify while spending a ton of money on the wall. It suspects, probably with reason, that the business lobby prevailed on the administration not to take away its cheap labor.

To give the Times the podium:

His administration has been largely silent, however, about the strongest magnet that has drawn millions of immigrants, legal and not, to the United States for generations: jobs.

American employers continue to assume relatively little risk by hiring undocumented immigrants to perform menial, backbreaking work, often for little pay. Meanwhile, as Mr. Trump’s deportation crackdown accelerates, families are being ripped apart, and communities of hard-working immigrants with deep roots in this country are gripped by fear and uncertainty. As long as employers remain off the hook, a border wall and an expanded dragnet can only make temporary dents in the flows of undocumented immigrants.

Of course, the Times could not resist tugging at your heart and exploiting your well-developed capacity for empathy. But it is correct to point out that a strict E-verify system would limit the entries of those who are looking for work.

The idea would have no real effect on the unaccompanied minors, because they are not here to work. If the same policy had been implemented in Germany when Angela Merkel opened the country to over a million immigrants, it would not have worked either. According to the German government, as reported in this blog, the unemployment rate of the million or so refugees Merkel welcomed last year is around 97%. Either they do not want to work, do not care to work, do not know how to work or want to convert all Germans to Islam.

Moreover, the wall and the new enforcement posture make a statement. And perhaps the statement is as important as the physical barrier. The wall tells people that they are not welcome here. Clearly many prospective fence jumpers have gotten the message.

Evidently, this contrasts sharply with the open arms policy of Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau—or is it Justin Bieber—which has attracted migrants from America and from the Middle East. A recent poll, however, suggested that Canadians are beginning to turn against the policy.

Anyway, if employers adopt E-Verify it will certainly help the situation. It will not solve the problem, but something is better than nothing.

The Times does not want to say so, but some of the illegals are here for the benefits. They are in Germany and other European nations to live off of the welfare system. They also go there because they believe that they deserve to be sustained and supported by Western governments. They believe that the West is responsible for their misery and that the West owes them a living.

Now we read that some American illegals are not taking food stamps for fear that they will be deported. But if they are so hard working and contribute so much, why are they on food stamps. And ought we not to ask ourselves whether people who are working off the books and thus are not paying taxes are profiting from America’s welfare benefits… like food stamps.

Keep in mind that the Mexican government strongly supports illegal immigration—to America but certainly not to Mexico—because the funds that are sent back to Mexico sustain its own economy. Doubtless the same applies to other Central American nations. Apparently they are not investing in America or spending money in American malls.

One likes to think that people who come to America want to better themselves. But if they want to exploit America in order to support their home countries, doesn’t that change the narrative? And if they believe that they have a right to abuse Americans for forcing them to do menial labor, then perhaps we ought to consider our attitudes and to revise our narrative.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Is Trump Making People Crazy?

Just when you thought we could stop offering wild diagnoses of Donald Trumpism a New York psychoanalyst named Joel Whitebook explains that Trump is leading the nation into a mass psychosis. And he does it in the New York Times, which should know better than to publish such silliness.

Whitebook is not just your everyday garden variety psychoanalyst. He runs the Psychoanalytic Studies Program at Columbia University. So, he does not just embarrass himself. He embarrasses Columbia, too. Since he suggests that the Trump administration has been producing a mass psychosis in the nation, he will suffer no adverse consequences.

I do not need to mention it, but Trump’s detractors seem to have been competing to see who is more emotionally overwrought, who is more unhinged, who can present more conspiracy theories. One might say that those who oppose Trump have taken leave of their rational faculties and have descended into the fever swamps of mass hysteria. After all, they think that it’s World War II in France and that they are part of the Resistance. Who’s detached from reality now?

Anyway, Whitebook opens with this apercu into his clinical practice:

Sometimes, when psychoanalysts begin treatment with a new patient, they quickly find themselves feeling that they can’t make sense of what is going on. The patient’s statements and behavior simply don’t add up, and the flurry of dissociated statements and actions can quickly begin to produce something like a disorienting fog.

Most seasoned clinicians will have learned that they shouldn’t attribute this confusion, which is typically accompanied by a distinct form of anxiety, to their lack of skill. Instead, adept clinicians take the experience itself and the accompanying anxiety as significant data, indicating that they are dealing with, if not psychosis in the strict diagnostic sense, at the very least something in the vicinity of psychotic-like phenomena.

Aside from the salient fact that psychoanalysts insist that their patients free associate, and thus produce a series of disconnected fragments that are supposed to give access to the unconscious mind, why has it never crossed this psychoanalyst's mind to step in, to ask some questions, to engage in a conversation, to try to make sense of it all? What was it about his training that made him so inert?

For all of the proposed advances that psychoanalysts have made, apparently they have not gotten to the point of engaging with their patients. Whitebook keeps his distance and thinks to himself that the word salad he is hearing is clinically significant, a sign of anxiety if not psychosis.

One cannot fail to note that, according to Whitebook, some analysts think that the dissociational flurry is a sign of their own incompetence. Freud might have said that they are in denial, or better denegation, and that their mute status as dummy has perhaps contributed to what they are hearing.

Does it all spell psychosis? I have no idea. I do know that psychosis is a serious psychiatric condition, one that most contemporary psychiatrists believe to be a brain disease. Surely, Whitebook knows better than to offer up a diagnosis based on some dissociated ramblings. I trust that the average psychiatrist would want to much more about the patient before concluding that his condition was so dire.

A competent psychiatrist would not do as Whitebook does, and imagine that Sigmund Freud offered the last word, or even the first word, about psychosis. After all, Freud was not a psychiatrist, and his views about psychosis and neurosis are no longer taken seriously by any serious psychiatrist.

Thus, Whitebook offers up one side of Freud’s theory of psychosis, ignoring the possibility of a neurological condition. He ignores the last century’s work on this illness, illness that responds to some medical treatments but that does not respond to psychotherapy and psychoanalysis.

Back in the day—the mid 1970s-- when I was working at a psychiatric clinic in France, a clinic that was directed by students of Jacques Lacan, the clinic did not allow anyone to psychoanalyze a psychotic. Medication and group activities were considered to be the best approach. Of course, Lacan et al. did theorize about psychosis, but they did not cry out about mass psychosis.

To imagine that Freudian analysis would tell us something cogent or interesting about psychosis is… dare I say… crazy. Of course, Whitebook, like Freud was involved in storytelling, not in scientific diagnosis.

In Whitebook’s words:

In contrast, because psychotic individuals tend to find reality as a whole too painful to bear, they break with it globally, and construct an alternative, delusional, “magical” reality of their own. This alternate relation to reality, manifesting itself in the initial meetings with the patient, is at the root of the clinician’s confusion.

Feel some pity for poor Joel Whitebook. He feels anxiety over the election of Donald Trump:

Now many of us throughout American society at large, after an interminable electoral campaign and transitional phase into the presidency of Donald J. Trump, have experienced a form of disorientation and anxiety that bears a striking resemblance to the clinical situation I have described. And recent events indicate that this feeling is not going to abate any time soon.

Disorientation and anxiety… it suggests that they are off their meds, or that some of the meds are not quite as effective as they think. Being unable or unwilling to accept that you lost, that the world as you knew it was a bubble having little to do with the real world… these are not psychiatric conditions. They are not signs of psychosis or even neurosis. Aside from the fact that Whitebook, like nearly every therapist who writes about these topics, is trying to gin up his business… it makes no real sense to tell people that their feelings, such as they are, constitute a grave mental illness. You do not have to be a psychiatrist to know that psychosis—as in schizophrenia and paranoia—is not to be taken lightly.

Anyway Whitebook jumps the shark here:

Just as disorientation and bewilderment tell analysts something significant about what they are experiencing in the clinical setting, so too our confusion and anxiety in the face of Trumpism can tell us something important about ours. I am suggesting, in other words, that Trumpism as a social experience can be understood as a psychotic-like phenomenon.

One understands that it’s trendy for psychoanalysts to consult their emotions to learn about their patients. It’s a genuinely bad idea, suggesting a very high level of self-absorption. Perhaps they ought to do a serious interview and try to converse with their patients. Perhaps they ought to attune themselves to the reality of the patient’s life situation before drawing very serious conclusions. Without having probed sufficiently to know what is going on in a patient’s life you really do not know very much about the patient’s emotional state.

As for “our” confusion and anxiety, perhaps this derives from the fact that psychoanalysts like Whitebook know so little about what is going on in the real world. Perhaps it signals their lack of knowledge of the facts of the situation on the ground. Perhaps it means that they are living in their own fantasies and have been blindsided by reality. It’s a possibility, don’t you think?

Now, Whitebook suggests that Trump is conspiring to detach him and his buddies from reality, thus to render them all psychotic. In truth, Whitebook has demonstrated nothing more than his own ignorance of what is going on. Many psychoanalysts, when they do not know what is happening, retreat into storytelling.

Whitebook continues:

The point is, rather, that Trumpism as a social-psychological phenomenon has aspects reminiscent of psychosis, in that it entails a systematic — and it seems likely intentional — attack on our relation to reality.

Which reality would that be, Joel? He says that this new attack is not the same as the criticism of the sacred dogma of climate change, dogma that Whitebook accepts as a scientific fact. I will not repeat that distinguished climate scientists like Richard Lindzen of MIT have seriously disputed the science behind the climate change… hysteria. Note that I did not say climate change psychosis.

What has Whitebook most agitated is the word of that famous “witch” Kellyanne Conway about alternative facts. Freudian analysis has a great affinity with witch hunts, but I have already discussed it and will leave it for another day. Whitebook is saying that a woman’s off-hand and somewhat ironic remark is like a witch casting a spell.

In his words:

Armed with the weaponized resources of social media, Trump has radicalized this strategy in a way that aims to subvert our relation to reality in general. To assert that there are “alternative facts,” as his adviser Kellyanne Conway did, is to assert that there is an alternative, delusional, reality in which those “facts” and opinions most convenient in supporting Trump’s policies and worldview hold sway. Whether we accept the reality that Trump and his supporters seek to impose on us, or reject it, it is an important and ever-present source of the specific confusion and anxiety that Trumpism evokes.

Lest we forget, alternative realities might also be fictional worlds. After all, the Obama administration, like most other administrations cherry picked facts that support its narrative. In the Obama world you could keep your doctor and your plan… remember that, Joel? And in the alternative universe concocted by the fans of the presidential messiah he never did anything wrong, never made a mistake, never erred. One of the reasons that the intelligentsia cannot grasp the Trump phenomena is that their sense of reality was so totally distorted by their mania about defending Obama that they lost touch with reality and with facts.

While we are talking about Freud and facts, it’s a good time to recall what philosopher Karl Popper said about the famed Viennese neurologist. Popper said, some seven or so decades ago, that Freudian theory had nothing to do with science… because it refused to accept that any facts could refute its theoretical premises. It lacked falsifiability. Whitbook’s use of Freud’s tarnished authority and widely discredited storytelling to dismiss anyone’s use of facts is risible, on its face. After all Freudian theory resides on literary characters who exist in literary fictions: Oedipus and Narcissus.

If you want to get in touch with reality, forget psychoanalysis. If you want to show that you care about reality do not pretend that the primary evidence for a diagnosis is your own emotion.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Blind to the True Threat

The Nazis are coming! The Nazis are coming! The Nazis are coming!

If you thought that was bad, the Nazis are now here. They are in the Trump White House. They are invading the EPA and the Pentagon and ICE. They are on the steps of the Supreme Court. Rush out to the barricades. Fight to the last person. We must resist. We must resist. We must resist.

These days the bien pensant left is fully engaged in the war against Nazis. People who believe themselves to be intellectual sophisticates  have become mindless ranters, indulging their impotent rage, showing what happens when you allow you emotions to run amok. They have entered a time warp and are fighting the last war.

In the meantime, the Democratic Party has been aligning itself with the true heirs to Nazism-- the groups that are hell bent on murdering Jews, on finishing what Hitler started. That is, with radical Islamic terrorists. About that group of neo-Nazis, the American left has little say. It has followed the Obama appeasement policy and will fight to the death to bring more Muslims into America. And it has turned the Democratic Party against Israel. Most American Jews thrilled to the prospect of putting Jeremiah Wright’s protégé in the White House and have not noticed that the Vice Chairman of today’s Democratic National Committee is a Louis Farrakhan protégé.

Of course, it hasn’t registered. Good liberals and progressives have been duped into fighting against a Nazi invasion led by white supremists and Steve Bannon. They know in the core of their being that Bannon, having led a web media company that systematically defended Israel, is really a Nazi.

Let’s not forget feminism. The new feminism has been organizing to fight against the Nazis in the White House. No one much cares but one of its leaders is a Palestinian activist who wants to bring Shariah Law to America. More women in headscarves. Now, that’s a great feminist idea. Let’s emulate the way Saudi Arabia treats women. Another great feminist idea.

Another new feminist leader is a Palestinian terrorist convicted of murdering Jews in a terrorist attack in Jerusalem. No one notices. No one cares. American leftists and Jews are mobilized to fight the last war.

I have already written about Linda Sarsour and about Rasmea Odeh, but today I report Alan Dershowitz’s comments on these new feminist leaders.

Speaking of the International Women’s Strike for Peace, Dershowitz remarked on its anti-Semitic manifesto:

It is a tragedy that this women’s movement — which has done so much good in refocusing attention on important women’s issues in the United States; from gender violence, to reproductive rights and equal-pay — has now moved away from its central mission and gone out of its way to single out one foreign nation by calling for the "decolonization of Palestine." Not of Tibet. Not of Kurdistan. Not of Ukraine. Not of Cyprus. Only Palestine.

The platform, which is published on IWS’ website under the headline "Antiracist and Anti-imperialist Feminism" also says, "we want to dismantle all walls, from prison walls to border walls, from Mexico to Palestine." No mention is made of the walls that imprison gays in Iran, dissidents in China, feminists in Gaza or Kurds in Turkey. Only the walls erected by Israel.

Linda Sarsour, a Palestinian activist who was a lead organizer of the post-inauguration Women’s March declared in The Nation that no good feminist could support Israel:

“When you talk about feminism you’re talking about the rights of all women and their families to live in dignity, peace, and security. It’s about giving women access to health care and other basic rights. And Israel is a country that continues to occupy territories in Palestine, has people under siege at checkpoints — we have women who have babies on checkpoints because they’re not able to get to hospitals [in time]. It just doesn’t make any sense for someone to say, ‘Is there room for people who support the state of Israel and do not criticize it in the movement?’ There can’t be in feminism. You either stand up for the rights of all women, including Palestinians, or none. There’s just no way around it."

Of course, everyone on the left is burning up over the Nazis in the White House. So they are ignoring what is happening in their own midst:

The real choice to be made now by all those who care about the feminist cause is whether to allow Sarsour and her radical anti-Israel allies to hijack the movement in support of their own bigoted views. The alternative is to maintain feminism’s focus on key issues that pertain to women and to call out countries and movements according to how seriously they violate women’s rights, rather than singling out the one Jewish democracy — Israel.

The feminist movement is being hijacked. So too, Andrew Stein and Douglas Schoen argue in the Wall Street Journal this morning, is the Democratic Party.

They explain how it happened:

President Obama created an atmosphere of outright hostility between the U.S. and Israel. He made a nuclear deal with Iran and refused to veto the United Nations Security Council resolution in December that condemned settlements in the disputed West Bank.

Hillary Clinton might have been an improvement, but her commitment to Israel has long been questioned. As secretary of state, she referred to Israeli settlements as “illegitimate.” In 2015 she had to reassure donors to her presidential campaign that she still supported Israel. Even during Bill Clinton’s administration, pro-Israel Democrats worried that Mrs. Clinton would influence her husband in the wrong direction.

It ought to be well known that the radical European left has long supported the Palestinian cause. You cannot belong to a radical leftist political party or political movement in Europe unless you are willing to do everything in your power to delegitimize the state of Israel.

The great conundrum in all this is simple: why have American Jews continued to support the Democratic Party? Barack Obama stabbed Israel in the back at the UN, as Dershowitz put it, and Jews voted for Hillary Clinton en masse. They continue to support the Democratic Party.

Jewish Americans have accepted the Democratic Party’s turn against Israel. Stein and Schoen explain:

One reason Democrats have continued the move away from Israel is that Jewish voters haven’t exacted a price for it. Exit polls in 2016 found they supported Mrs. Clinton over Mr. Trump, 71% to 23%, in line with their historic levels of Democratic support.

Are Jewish Democrats sufficiently enlightened to turn toward the Republican Party? Stein and Schoen believe that the Trump administration can make the way easier:

There’s still an opportunity here for the GOP. Especially if Mr. Trump delivers on his promise to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, the Jewish vote could start trending Republican. Unless Democrats reaffirm their support for Israel, many lifelong party members—ourselves included—may decide that the time has come to find new political affiliations.

Right now, of course, they are so blinded by their hatred of Nazis and are so involved in fighting against the Vichy government that they are very easy to manipulate.

Muslim Children in Australian Schools

It’s not only happening in Germany, Sweden and France. The Muslim invasion has arrived in Australia. You recall that Australia has some of the strictest immigration policies on the planet. You also recall that Barack Obama agreed to accept some of the Muslim refugees that Australia had refused to take.

Even when these refugees are not committing murder, mayhem and rape—events that happen on a daily basis in tolerant Europe—they are disrupting the lives of other people. As I have often mentioned, they  are not really seeking refuge. They see themselves as the first wave of an invading army. Its purpose is to Islamify these Western countries.

One understands that the presence of Muslim students in French public schools has created intolerable conditions for Jewish and Chinese students. Many Jewish families have moved to Israel because of it.

In Australia, Muslim students are hard at work trying to destroy the educational experience of their classmates by threatening and intimidating their teachers and fellow students. I am sure that Justin Trudeau will happily welcome them into Canada.

Heat St. blog reports on the behavior of 5th graders in an elementary school in Sydney:

Teachers at a primary school in Sydney, Australia have been threatened with beheading and other violence from young Islamic students, prompting one of them to quit her job.

Students as young as those in Year 5, according to the Daily Telegraph, are making the violent threats and pressuring others to read the Koran at Punchbowl Public School in Sydney.

Documents given to the newspaper allege that three staff members have taken a leave of absence owing to stress, received counselling and been awarded compensation after bullying from Islamic students.

One female teacher reportedly quit her job after it got too much for her. She claims she quit after receiving death threats to her family from her year 5 and 6 students, with some saying they would behead her.

And that’s not all:

… she was abused by students after she stopped them from hanging a Syrian flag in the classroom.

In another example, she claimed she was pushed into a corner by students who began marching around her chanting the Koran.

The bullying wasn’t restricted to teachers. The woman also reported an incident where children bullied other students by saying that someone had “betrayed his religion” by “not going to Muslim scripture”. In another incident, she said a “group of boys had stood around a girl and called her horrible names like dog”.

And you were thinking that there was no downside to allowing a nation to be invaded even by small numbers of Muslim refugees!  

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Nationalists vs. Internationalists

Somehow or other we have been lulled into thinking that we must all become idealists and that our idealism should trump our patriotism.

We have been told, by thinkers on the left and right, that America is an idea and that belief in this idea is essential to becoming a citizen. I have variously offered my view that a nation is not an idea. A nation has borders and it has citizens. Some people belong. Others do not. Belonging has to mean something more than sharing a state of mind or believing in a bunch of dogmas. You cannot belong a nation while identifying yourself as a citizen of the world.

In two columns George Friedman—the only Friedman worth reading these days—has used slightly different terms. By his lights liberal democracy cannot exist outside of a defined nation. But, he does not see liberal democracy as an ideal. He sees it correctly as a set of practices. Historically, liberal democracies replaced monarchies. They could not have done so, Friedman argues, without a strong sense of nationalism, that is a sense of belonging to a nation.

Be that as it may, he argues that group cohesion must be established before the group can govern itself:

A nation is a group of people who share history, culture, language and other attributes. It is the existence of a common identity, a coherent sense of self and nationhood that make self-government possible, because it is that sense of self that permits self-government. A random collection of people without a core set of shared values cannot form a coherent regime, because nothing would hold the regime together or prevent internal chaos. The principle of the right to national self-determination can be universalized, but the practice of national self-determination must be rooted in the nation. Without this commonality, a nation could tear itself apart. We saw this happen in Yugoslavia and when Czechs and Slovaks gracefully divorced. We saw the chaos of the former European empires as nations once divided from each other by imperial borders and forced to live together with strangers were enveloped in constant turmoil. Without people who have self-identity, the right to self-determination cannot exist. Without the democracy that flows from it, liberal democracy cannot exist.

Friedman defines liberal democracy in his own way:

Liberal democracy makes two core assertions. First, there is a right to national self-determination. Second, this self-determination must manifest in a type of popular rule, and the people, in ruling themselves, have the right to select and approve the form and substance of government. The important point is that democracy is comprehensible only through the prism of the nation.

In a liberal democracy people practice political freedom. They choose their leaders and the policies that will define their nation. Citizens should manifest loyalty to their nation and should feel pride in their nation, especially in its achievements.

In a true democracy, people should be loyal to their nation even when their candidate loses an election. When a significant number of people insist that the only legitimate leader is the one they voted for they are undermining national cohesion and national pride. And they are abrogating a moral obligation to act as loyal members of the body politic. Dissent is not the same as resistance. And disloyalty is not dissent.

In another essay Friedman addressed these points. He took on the liberal elites who dismiss patriotism as a reactionary vestige:

Liberals in Europe and America did not deny that, but they simply could not grasp that the nation cannot exist unless the people feel a common bond that makes them distinct. The claim was that it was legitimate to have a nation, but not legitimate to love it inordinately, to love it more than other nations, to value the things that made it different, and above all, to insist that the differences be preserved, not diluted.

I have some reservations about the notion that nationalism has something to do with the “deep structure of the human soul,” but clearly Friedman is saying that being an American is essential, not incidental to who you are.

I add that being a proud American requires participation in certain rituals and practices. When a Colin Kaepernick refused to respect the American flag he was not merely dissenting. He was being disloyal and unpatriotic. As of now, he is out of a job and, if the latest reports are to be believed, he is not likely to find one on a professional football team.

In Friedman’s words:

Nationalism is not based on minor idiosyncrasies of food and holidays. It is the deep structure of the human soul, something acquired from mothers, families, priests and teachers. It is the thing that you are before you even understand that there are others. It tells you about the nature of the world, the meaning of justice, the deities we bow to and the obligations we have to each other. It is not all we are, but it is the root of what we are.

Being a citizen of a nation means that having moral obligations to that nation. Friedman dismisses the notion of citizen of the world because it does not confer a moral obligation… except perhaps the duty to hold certain dogmatic beliefs. Worse yet is the notion that we should identify as members of the human species. Such an identity does not require you to perform any actions. Good, bad or indifferent, you are always a human being:

I owe obligations to America and Americans that I do not owe to others, and others owe the same to their nations. It is easy to declare yourself a citizen of the world. It is much harder to be one. Citizenship requires a land, a community and the distinctions that are so precious in human life.

Finally, Friedman addresses the immigration conundrum. He notes astutely that the wealthy and privileged Americans who identify as internationalists tend to support unlimited immigration. But they have little contact with immigrants beyond those who mow their laws and clean up their kitchens. The hyperrich live in impregnable fortresses which shield them from the negative effects of the policy they support. The rest of the nation, especially those who are less fortunate, suffer the consequences of unlimited immigration, especially when the new immigrants, having no interest or intention of assimilating, threaten their identities as citizens of the nation. The problem is not as dire in America as it is in Angela Merkel’s Germany or as it is in Sweden, but it is certainly on the way to becoming so.

As for the situation in Sweden, I recommend this interview on Zero Hedge.

Friedman sees the nation dividing into two classes, the rich internationalists and the poorer nationalists. While the internationalists show no gratitude toward the nation that helped them become who they are, the more nationalistic classes now see their patriotism mocked by stand-up comedians who are not funny and by Hollywood actors who can barely act:

This class struggle is emerging in Euro-American society. It is between the well-to-do, who retain the internationalist principles of 1945 reinforced by a life lived in the wider world, and the poor. For this second group, internationalism has brought economic pain and has made pride in who they are and a desire to remain that way a variety of pathology.

The elite, well-to-do, internationalists, technocrats – call them what you’d like – demonize poorer members of society as ignorant and parochial. The poor see the elite as contemptuous of them and abandoning the principles to which they were born, in favor of wealth and the world that the poor cannot access.

As always, Friedman offers a cogent analysis:

In other words, the nationalism issue has become a football in a growing class struggle between those who praise tolerance but do not face the pain of being tolerant, and those who see tolerance as the abandonment of all they learned as a child.