Sunday, October 22, 2017

Male Feminists Who Sexually Abuse Women

Twas always thus. Harvey Weinstein should not feel so all alone. He is certainly not the first male feminist, beacon of leftist and gender woke thinking, to be exposed as an abusive misogynist, an accused rapist.

James Kirchick explains it all in The Daily Beast:

Ever since second-wave feminism became part of the political left, there have been men who, ostensibly enlightened in the realm of gender relations, are in fact deeply misogynist and believe that their progressive street cred somehow obviates their attitudes about women, attitudes as regressive as those held by the Mad Men-era males who ruled the earth just before the sexual revolution. 

Male feminists are often hypocrites who think that their adherence to the cause protects them from charges of sexual abuse. And, women, including feminists, have allowed them to get away with it... seemingly forever.

Harvey Weinstein got the memo. Right now one expects that, as he completes a week of rehab, he cannot understand why everyone is picking on him… what happened to his feminist get-out-of-jail-free card:

What unites 60’s-era revolutionaries with Ted Kennedy, Bill Clinton, Julian Assange, earnest “male feminists” and vulgar Brooklyn podcasters is not political ideology per se (Assange and Clinton have little in common politically, never mind the former’s contempt for the latter’s wife), but rather the belief that commitment to particular progressive causes — whether economic redistribution, abortion rights, an “anti-imperialist” foreign policy, or exposing governmental surveillance — insulates then from being misogynist pigs. In this view, anything – beginning with basic propriety and respect for women and ending with fundamental individual rights like freedom of speech and private property — can be excused if one has the “right” politics. 

Kirchick also regales us with stories about Andreas Baader, Eldridge Cleaver, Huey Newton, Gerry Healey, George Galloway, Jamey Kilstein, Hugo Schwyzer, Mark Ames and Sam Kriss. 

Some of these people you have heard of. Some you have not. They are all sympathetic to the feminist cause. And they all treated women appallinglyKirchick’s indictment is informative and well-presented. It is well worth a read.

The Case of the Whining Millennial

More often than not the people who write to advice columnists are of the female persuasion. Occasionally one has the chance to read the heart felt and gut wrenching thoughts of a letter write of the male persuasion. One would happily have foregone the experience.

Whenever you find yourself feeling unsympathetic to a female letter writer, this letter will give you an idea of the millennial men they have to deal with. This man sounds like he attended the Pajama School of manly behavior.

It’s from Carolyn Hax in the Washington Post:

My girlfriend and I have been together for almost a year and are moving in together at the end of the month. She’s not perfect but neither am I, and she’s awesome at understanding and supporting me. She’s younger (27 to my 33), but because she’s A LOT more mature than I was at 27, I’ve overlooked it — until now.

We started the move-in process at the end of summer, after I was stressed because of repeated family visits. She understood, but instead of offering to wait a few weeks, kept pushing to look at apartments. I wonder if she did that because she’s really eager to move on to the next stage of her life — move out of the rowhouse she hates, get a dog, keep developing a social network beyond loser, alcoholic roommates. That’s all great! But I worry that she’s so eager that she’ll ignore my needs in doing so.

And now I’m still stressed and slated to move in with her. ARGH!!!! All I want is a few weeks of hikes on the weekend and eating right during the week, not scrambling to pack and find movers. I worry that once we move, we’ll have to unpack, decorate the new house, and then the holidays! She’s generally good at compromise, but if we got this far with me being stressed 24/7, can I trust future compromises? And if I can’t trust her and am so nervous about this move, should I be in this relationship at all?
To her credit or discredit, as you wish, Hax is sensitive to this man’s concerns. I find him to be a pathetic whiner, a modern version of the man who is fully in touch with his sensitive side. She recommends that he communicate better with his girlfriend. Apparently, those who worship at the altar of the god Hermes believe that communication will solve all problems.

And yet, you ask yourself, what are the problems here? The letter writer, who calls himself  “Butterflies or Warning Signs?” has agreed with his girlfriend to find a new apartment and to move in together. Fine and good. Apparently, said girlfriend has been moving the process forward. She has taken charge and shows no consideration for his whining ways. In truth, she is doing him a favor. Most women prefer to take charge of their homes. They prefer to choose the home that feels right to them and to decorate at according to their taste. One understands that most women are not supposed to want to be homemakers, but most women still have a nesting instinct. A man ignores it at his peril.

I hate to have to mention it, but this man thinks that his girlfriend should be more sensitive to his moodiness, to his weakness, to his decided lack of manliness. She should not. He should get over it. He should shut the fuck up and let her arrange things as she wishes. If he cannot live with a woman who is acting like a woman… and not like a therapist or his mother… then it is time for him to suck it up and let his wonderful girlfriend do as she wishes.

He understands that she might want to move out of a row house she hates, row house she shares with alcoholic roommates. But he seems not to think that that matters. In the kind of pathetic whine you expect from people who have done too much therapy, he is worrying that she is insensitive to his needs. Imagine a 33 year old man mewling: What about my needs? Sorry, I know that that will ruin your appetite for the day.

If he cannot suck it up he should move back home with his mother. Case closed.

The Coming Bond Market Collapse

Savvy investors have been crying wolf for so long that one is tempted to ignore their warnings. Whereas Robert Rubin once told Bill Clinton that he could not just do as he pleased, because he had to answer to the bond market, today’s politicians do not seem to have the same worry. 

Apparently, central bankers have taken charge of the bond market… which means that the market is effectively being rigged… in order to keep interest rates low, to keep mortgage rates low, to keep real estate prices high and to flood the system with money that moves the stock market higher and higher. The bond market has, in its terms, mispriced risk.

Of course, it does not make a great deal of sense to speak of an advanced free market economy when the biggest market of them all, the bond market, is rigged.

As you know, I am not even close to being able to explain it all. William Cohan offers some seemingly sage advice in Vanity Fair. I pass it along for your edification.

He begins by emphasizing the importance of the bond market.

The stock markets get most of the attention from the media, but the bond market, four times the size of the stock market, helps set the price of money. The bond market determines how much you pay to borrow money to buy a home, a car, or when you use your credit cards.

What does a rigged market look like? Cohan explains:

… the yield on European “junk” bonds is about the same—between 2 percent and 3 percent—as the yield on U.S. Treasuries, even though the risk profile of the two could not be more different. He correctly pointed out that this phenomenon has been caused by “manipulated behavior”—his code for the European Central Bank’s version of the so-called “quantitative easing” program that Ben Bernanke, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, initiated in 2008 and that Mario Draghi, the head of the E.C.B., has taken to heart.

Bernanke’s idea was to have the Federal Reserve buy up trillions of dollars of bonds, increasing their price and lowering their yields. He figured lower interest rates would help jump-start an economy in recession. Whereas Janet Yellen, Bernanke’s successor, ended the Fed’s Q.E. program in 2014, Draghi’s version of it is still going, which has led to the “manipulation” that so concerns Gundlach. European interest rates “should be much higher than they are today,” he said, “. . . [and] once Draghi realizes this, the order of the financial system will be turned upside down and it won’t be a good thing. It will mean the liquidity that has been pumping up the markets will be drying up in 2018 . . . Things go down. We’ve been in an artificially inflated market for stocks and bonds largely around the world.”

The Gundlach in question is first named Jeffrey. He manages so much money invested bonds that people around Wall Street call him the Bond King.

Cohan ends on a sober note. Forewarned is forearmed:

But the major propellants of the stock market these days are the economy Trump inherited, the tax cuts that may turn out to be a chimera, and an overinflated bond market that misprices risk every day. When it all comes crashing down, will Trump take credit for that too?

To which we are tempted to ask whether Barack Obama really deserves credit for an economic recovery that was engineered by the Federal Reserve. Unless, of course, you want to credit him for having set up policies that made that recovery the most anemic in recent history. As I often noted during the Obama administration, he looked to me like an "apres moi le deluge" president.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Freed from Responsibility

From Maggie's Farm, a thought for today:

Fake News about the Opioid Epidemic

Recently, the Washington Post and CBS touted a blockbuster story about the opioid epidemic that is ravishing our nation. As might be expected, the paper wants the story to pin blame for the problem on Republicans, especially on Congressional Republicans. If you are a propaganda organ of the Democratic Party your role in life is to fight Republicans. No more and no less.

As it happens, no one doubts that responsibility for the opioid crisis lies with pharmaceutical manufacturers, physicians who prescribe the drugs, and the government agencies that approved the new drugs. But, Congress... not so much. Anyway, there is a lot of blame to go around.

Unfortunately, the Post’s breathless expose about the Republican-led Congress suffers from a notable defect in reasoning. Writing in the Wall Street Journal Holman Jenkins identifies it:

Unless the Washington Post and CBS ’s “60 Minutes” have discovered a new, physics-defying form of quantum action at a distance, their splashy exposé last weekend identified neither the cause nor any solution.

I’ll admit I didn’t read the Post’s 7,800-word opus on first pass. To the credit of some merciful editor, the lead sentence told me I needn’t bother. The piece begins: “In April 2016, at the height of the deadliest drug epidemic in U.S. history, Congress effectively stripped the Drug Enforcement Administration of its most potent weapon against large drug companies suspected of spilling prescription narcotics onto the nation’s streets.

In other words, whatever the sorry tale of the sausage factory to follow, the abuse epidemic was already in full swing when Congress acted barely a year ago, so the DEA’s “potent” weapon perhaps wasn’t so potent.

Get it. By the time Congress got around to passing its bill, the “most potent weapon” that the DEA had had against the drug companies had been failing. And had been failing badly. It’s nice to see such a blatantly dishonest lead in a news article. Surely, it deserves attention.

The tool in question was “immediate suspension orders” against drug distributors. Yet, as Jenkins points out, these orders were already being reduced, well before Congress got into the act:

Moreover, the Post hardly bothers to substantiate the central pinion of its story—its claim that the DEA has been deprived of a vital tool, known as “immediate suspension orders” against drug distributors. Such orders peaked at 65 in 2011 and have fallen to single digits. But is this a meaningful gauge?

A federal survey finds misuse of prescription opioids peaked in 2012 and has returned to 2002 levels. Suspension orders were already being dialed back—41 in 2012, 16 in 2013—before Congress intervened. Maybe the message got through to drug distributors via a tactic that didn’t lend itself to being repeated or accelerated.

The article wants mostly to blame the Republican Congress. And yet, the vote on the bill was unanimous. All Democrats voted for it. The legislation was supported by the Justice Department and signed by Barack Obama. It was one bill among many. And yet, why miss an opportunity to bash Republicans:

In an accompanying editorial, the Post fulminates that “Congress alongside the pharmaceutical industry helped fuel the opioid crisis,” but fails to mention the bill in question was one of 18 that the Associated Press called a “mountain of bills addressing the nation’s opioid abuse crisis.”

The measure in question, which rewrote the legal standard for suspension orders, was approved by the Obama White House, DEA and Justice Department. It was unanimously supported by Congress. It reflected, as the New York Times noted, a Congress under pressure from drug lobbyists to show an interest in “ensuring access to narcotic painkillers” for patients even while “addressing the addiction epidemic linked to those drugs.”

Finally, we get to the real target of this totally dishonest investigative report: one of the bill’s authors, Rep. Tom Marino, a man who was being nominated to be the Trump administration drug czar. But then, you need to ask yourself how important the drug czar really is.

Jenkins has the answer:

I got around to reading the rest of the Post piece after it prompted one of the law’s many authors, Rep. Tom Marino (R., Pa.), to drop out of consideration for Trump drug czar. Don’t worry. I am not about to overplay the significance of this consequence. The drug czar is a largely powerless office whose value is symbolic at best.

Fake news, anyone?

Schadenfreude for Megyn Kelly

It’s time for a little more of that special Schadenfreude that we reserve for Megyn Kelly… a woman who had it all, who leaned in, and now seems to have thrown it all away. Keep that in mind the next time you think that leaning in is such a good thing. Keep that in mind the next time you use your career to make a political statement.

Anyway, Kelly’s new morning show on NBC has been a bust. For those who hired her and for Kelly herself, the news keeps getting bad. The Washington Post has the story:

Last year, Kelly was a rising star on Fox News, earning national headlines for her dogged questioning of presidential candidate Donald Trump. But her short tenure on NBC’s “Megyn Kelly Today” continues to be challenging both for her and the network.

The show premiered on Sept. 25, and its ratings continue to tank.

The fallout is so worrisome to the network that other “Today” hosts have begun visiting Kelly’s show as if on a rescue mission, according to the trade publications. Matt Lauer, Al Roker and Savannah Guthrie all recently appeared. It could be “a strategic way to familiarize viewers with faces they already know and boost viewership,” according to Variety.

How do Kelly’s ratings rate with those of her predecessors? Rather poorly, as it happens:

Her ratings aren’t even close to those of her predecessors, Tamron Hall and Al Roker, compared to their show during the same time-slot last year. During her debut week, Kelly’s show was down 12 percent in total viewership from that time slot last year. The second week brought in 24 percent fewer viewers, and the third week saw a 23 percent smaller audience, according to Nielsen data obtained by Variety.

How is Kelly doing against the competition? Not very well there, either:

Meanwhile, the show’s biggest direct competitor, ABC’s “Live With Kelly and Ryan,” has a healthy lead over Megyn Kelly. The ABC program drew 14 percent more viewers than Kelly during her first week and a robust 34 percent more during her second, according to Nielsen data obtained by BuzzFeed News.

For all her caterwauling about wanting to spend more time with her children, Kelly seemed to wanted to stick it to Fox News… and thus to become a feminist heroine.

Unfortunately for her, it seems to have boomeranged. Anyone who thought that Kelly would be a great fit for 9:00 a.m. should find another line of work.

When It Comes to Crime, London Beats New York

It’s so hard to believe that no one is reporting it. Even the American media, so quick to attack Donald Trump for anything and everything, has missed the story.

The news, from the London Telegraph, tells us that London has surpassed New York in crime. The British capital is more dangerous than my city:

London is now more crime ridden and dangerous than New York City, with rape, robbery and violent offences far higher on this side of the Atlantic.

President Trump tweeted that the root cause of the crime wave was the lax British attitude toward Muslim immigrants. British Labour Party leaders were sorely discommoded by the thought. 

One might say that it has something to do with the notoriously weak-kneed London mayor, Sadiq Khan. Then again, Bill de Blasio is not exactly a stickler for law and order. And yet, de Blasio’s police commissioner Bill Bratton held the same job under Mayor Giuliani, when the city tried a new way to attack crime, a way that worked very well.

The Telegraph reports that New Yorkers can take a small consolation from the fact that their city is still leading London in homicides:

Criminal justice experts insisted rising crime in the UK, and particularly London, was more to do with the way the city was policed and blamed the reduction in neighbourhood patrols across the capital.

While both London and New York have populations of around 8 million, figures suggest you are almost six times more likely to be burgled in the British capital than in the US city, and one and a half times more likely to fall victim to a robbery.

London has almost three times the number of reported rapes and while the murder rate in New York remains higher, the gap is narrowing dramatically.

Now, the British are studying New York policing methods, to see what they can do to improve their city. That idea contains its own special irony:

But in the mid-1990s spiralling crime rates in New York - sparked by the crack cocaine epidemic - resulted in radical a new approach being adopted by the city's police department.

Under the leadership of Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and police commissioner, Bill Bratton, the NYPD introduced a zero tolerance approach to low level crime and flooded problem areas with patrols.

The force also put a huge amount of emphasis on community policing in order to build bridges between the police and members of the public.

As a result the murder plummeted from a high in 1990 of over 2,000 to a record low of 335 last year.

London’s Metropolitan Police took an opposite tack. They decided to ignore small infractions and to focus on more heinous crimes. They ended up with more of both:

But the last decade has seen the Metropolitan Police move away from the neighbourhood policing model and low level in favour of pursuing more serious offences.

Last week it emerged that Scotland Yard would not even bother investigating a large number of low level offences as part of a major cost cutting drive.

In addition a huge amount of police resources have been poured into high profile and politically sensitive cases, such as a the flawed VIP child abuse inquiry and the phone hacking inquiry.

At the same time crime rates in London have been creeping up and the latest statistics are likely to increase pressure of Met bosses to reassess their policing priorities.