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.



Friday, October 20, 2017

The Dark Triad

While the therapy world gnashes its teeth over who is feeling whose feelings, social psychologists are hard at work identifying what it takes to succeed in the real world.

Sometimes they sound like moral philosophers. At other times, they seem to be culture warriors. If you think that capitalists are evil and venal you will accept the theory that people who succeed in business are evil and venal. To put a finer point on it, the social psychologists have previously declared that success in the business world would befall those who possessed the “dark triad,” who were Machiavellian narcissistic psychopaths.

For my part, I find the term “dark triad” to be inspired. It could easily be the title of a horror movie. We should be happy to recognize creativity, regardless of where it comes from.

Anyway, those who think that capitalists are fundamentally bad people, or that you cannot succeed in the dog-eat-dog world of business without being a dog yourself were happy to embrace the dark triad. Some people found it reassuring that their own obnoxious and repellent personality traits had destined them for success. I trust that the same people also love horoscopes.

Now… fanfare, please… researchers have discovered that people who possess the dark triad are less capable and weaker performers. When it comes to running hedge funds, being a narcissist or a psychopath or even manipulative will, in the long run work against you.

The Daily Mail reports the story:

From The Wolf of Wall Street to The Big Short, many films about the financial sector feature people with the 'dark triad' of personality traits - psychopathy, narcissism and Machiavellianism.

But a new study suggests that people with these traits may not necessarily make the best investment decisions compared with 'nice guys'.

This is because they are often overconfident and reckless - causing them to stick with bad investment decisions longer than they should.  

The findings add to a growing body of evidence suggesting that Dark Triad personality traits are not desirable in leaders.

This suggests another slogan: Nice guys finish first. It may not be intuitively obvious, and the research primarily involves investment decisions, but it is good news for those who are working to develop their good character. Who knew that getting along with other people, showing respect and courtesy would make you more successful than seducing and manipulating people in order to pursue a goal more ruthlessly.

The Daily Mail explains the results of the most recent study:

Previous studies have suggested that people with the 'dark triad' of personality traits  make the best managers.

But in a new study, researchers from the University of Denver suggest that this isn't the case.

Dr Leanne ten Brinke, lead author of the study, said: 'We should re-think our assumptions that might favour ruthlessness or callousness in an investment manager.

'Not only do these personality traits not improve performance, our data suggest that they many hinder it.'

One suspects, in passing, that what counts as callous indifference was in many cases a sign of competitive focus, and therefore an absence of empathy for one’s opponents. Such an attitude does not bespeak a personality defect. It is a sign of a competitive personality. It does not matter when you feel empathy for your opponent. What matters is that you display sportsmanship. This coincides with a more cooperative attitude—you cannot compete effectively if you are not a trustworthy teammate.

I am sure you want to know what counts as psychopathy. The newspaper explains:

Psychopaths display different traits depending on their disorder.

Common signs include superficial charm, a grandiose notion of self-worth, the need for stimulation and impulsiveness, pathological lying, the ability to manipulate others and a lack of remorse and empathy.

Of course, getting other people to do what needs to be done because they want to do it, as Eisenhower suggested, is not necessarily manipulative. When you seduce people into doing  your bidding because you want it done you are being manipulative. When you are getting them to do what needs to be done you are leading them. Is it about the leader's personality or the good of the company... the distinction is worth underscoring.

Bloomberg News reports on the same research. It emphasizes the fact that a good investor does not go it alone. He works with other people, shares ideas and respects differences of opinion. He does not try to impose himself on the world:

However, some psychologists have shown that the quality of work exhibited by people with such tendencies [the dark triad] can fall short. “More psychopathic individuals tend to be able to talk the talk, but not walk the walk,” ten Brinke said. Over time—and measured by an objective standard such as investment returns—their shortcomings can become glaringly obvious.

Psychopaths are also very difficult to work with, as one could probably surmise. Investing, like other fields, can require collaboration, listening to the ideas of colleagues, and hiring specialists to execute your strategies.

It concludes with a cautionary note:

“There’s good research to suggest psychopaths are poor leaders,” ten Brinke said. “If you put someone with psychopathic traits [in charge] of a group, they’re more likely to divide the group.”

A Pen Pal with Benefits

I’m happy to say that New York Magazine’s resident therapist gets it right today. It’s nice to be able to say so, since it does not happen all that often. 

Lori Gottlieb is responding to a letter from a woman who calls herself, Rock and a Hard Place. At issue is a relationship. The relationship, the best RHP has ever had, has failed because her inamorato is doing an executive training program and has been relocated to Paris, for four months.

The relationship was great fun, but not very solid before the move. It has not survived the move.

Anyway, for your edification, here are some choice parts of RHP’s letter:

Then, last September, I was visiting friends in New York (I live in Chicago) and one of my friends was having a party, and he happened to be there. We got to talking and he asked if I still lived in Chicago, as he was moving to Milwaukee for work that week. We exchanged numbers and I told him to let me know if he ever wanted to come down to Chicago and check out the city. About a month later, he did, and that was the first time I realized I was interested. He walked in and I saw him in an entirely different light. We ended up hooking up and then started dating a couple of months later, with him coming down to Chicago or me going up to Milwaukee on weekends.

His job, however, made it hard for us. He works for a large corporation in an executive-training program and so he moves around the world every four months, likely not knowing where he’ll be until two to three weeks before he leaves. He moved to Paris in early February for four months and by May, our relationship had gone downhill. I was gripped by anxiety about where he would be moving to next, how often we should be talking and FaceTiming, and when the next time we’d see each other would be.

We broke up a few weeks ago and I have absolutely no idea how to handle it. He initiated the conversation, but I agreed with everything he was saying.

We didn’t have enough of a foundation to build off of when he moved to Paris and were putting so much pressure on ourselves to make it work that it ultimately did not.

The thing is, we both acknowledged how absolutely fantastic we are together. When we are together, it is incredible. The best relationship I have ever had by far. We have a blast, we are always laughing, and we are so crazily compatible that it’s slightly scary for me. A main point he kept bringing up as we were breaking up was the possibility of us being together once this program is over — which could be in one year or in four years, he doesn’t know.

I want to keep that door open because of how much I care about him and how compatible we are, but also know and understand that I need to focus on moving forward at the same time. We were talking back and forth after we broke up, but I finally asked him to give me space as it was making it impossible for me to even begin to heal and move on. Now I don’t know if that’s the right choice.

I have no idea what to do and, truthfully, right now, I just feel like I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t.

So far, so good. RHP might think it was true love, but she would have done better not to hookup so quickly and so soon. When a woman hooks up quickly, even effortlessly, she gives definition to the relationship and states her intention. She has told him that she is not in it for the long term. Of course, it might become long term, but she has gotten off on the wrong foot.

Be that as it may, Gottlieb gets to the right point. That is, that “Joe” has made no commitment. When he left, he did not offer a commitment and did not state an intention to forge a future relationship, no less a marriage. It is not a good idea to pretend that an offer exists when it doesn't. Instead he broke up… and, if I say so, this probably means that he is prowling the Parisian nightlife for other hookups. Some young women do not understand that one hookup is not that different from another.

Be that as it may, Gottlieb writes:

As I read your letter, though, I took away a very different “main point.” To me, the main point is that Joe did not say, “I care deeply about you and don’t want to lose you. How can we make this work?” The main point is that he did not say, “Please hang in there with me because I believe we have something special here.” The main point is that Joe did not seem to be “gripped with anxiety about where he would be moving to next, how often we should be talking and FaceTiming, and when the next time we’d see each other would be.” The main point is that Joe broke up with you. The main point is that this “happy-go-lucky” guy is being happy-go-lucky with your romantic future — maybe we’ll get back together in some undetermined number of years — a sentiment in which your best interests are nowhere to be found.

To which Gottlieb correctly adds that Joe was never a real possibility. He was a lot of fun for RHP. For him she was a lot of fun. That was all it was… no matter how much fun they had and how good the sex was.

Then, Gottlieb becomes harsher, but correctly. RHP did not really have a relationship. She was a friend with benefits:

If you hooked up in September, started dating in November, and he left for Paris in February, you were in an in-person relationship for a mere three months — weekends only. You spent approximately 12 weekends or 24 days together. That’s less than one consecutive month. You two know what it’s like to have romantic weekends together, to laugh and have sex and miss each other when you’re apart. You know what it’s like to talk and text and FaceTime, but that’s not a relationship. That’s a pen pal with benefits.

What was missing, Gottlieb continues, was what she calls the dailiness of a constituted relationship. An excellent point. As I have put it, true love, no matter how true it is, needs to be socialized and domesticated. Otherwise it will have a very short shelf life.

In Gottlieb’s words:

You learn about compatibility, on the other hand, through shared dailiness, and you two haven’t experienced the dailiness of each other. It’s like the difference between color and black and white, or three dimensions and two. Long-distance is “always laughing together.” It’s not, “who’s doing the dishes and picking up towels from the bathroom floor.” It’s not, “I need my space” — or, “I need a smile when I walk in the door at the end of the day, even if you just had a fight with your mom.” It’s not experiencing bad days, bad moods, or annoying habits that you can hide to a degree in a weekends-only situation. It’s not about the richness and texture of logging regular hours together. Compatibility is all of that, and it’s also knowing what it’s like to integrate your lives into your larger worlds — friends, family, acquaintances, and colleagues. You and Joe didn’t have a community around you as you communed. You were an island of two in your blissed-out universe during the 48 hours you had together.

She continues with another salient point. A relationship is never just about two people. It’s about merging two social worlds, creating an alliance between groups:

A relationship may seem like it’s just about two people, but it’s about the confluence of your respective worlds as well. How do your larger worlds mesh? How do they add context to the person you see only through your own lens? The long-distance romance is a rarefied experience, and I can see why it felt like “the best relationship by far.” Despite its loneliness, it protects you from the messier parts of courtship and dating. It’s not surprising that you and Joe are “fantastic” together, because though all new relationships are rooted partly in “fantasy,” a relationship that exists only on weekends is rooted even more deeply in illusion. (It’s possible that you and Joe didn’t have a substantive conversation about the reality of your logistics until Joe broke up with you because neither one of you wanted to puncture the illusion.)

Gottlieb concludes that Joe is not part of the equation. Thus that RHP  should move on. 

Good advice.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Lindy West Unhinged

Hollywood, you might have noticed, is not the epicenter of the vast right wing conspiracy. Hollywood, even Hollywood in Tribeca, is a politically correct thoroughly enlightened feminist paradise. Even before they proclaimed themselves leaders of the Resistance against Donald Trump movie industry moguls and actors were true believers in the leftist, feminist cause.

We used to think that the only way anyone could lose a role in Hollywood was to be outed as a Republican. Now, we know that the other way, for women, was to refuse the ham-handed advances of Harvey Weinstein. In some cases, such women were not even allowed to refuse.... 

Obviously, other women in other industries have suffered sexual harassment and sexual assault. You may have been up in arms against what Clarence Thomas supposedly said to Anita Hill, but the charges against Thomas pale in comparison to the assaults and rapes that Harvey Weinstein is accused of having committed.

So, we have had nearly five decades of feminist consciousness raising. We have had two and a half decades of intense conversation about workplace sexual harassment. What did we get from it? We got Harvey Weinstein. Somehow it turned the feminist paradise of the movie industry into a fever swamp of sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape.

Keep in mind, Hollywood is not filled with Tea Party patriots. It is not chockablock with Republicans or Bible-thumpers or holy rollers. It is not even filled with alt-right fanatics and wingnuts. It is filled with people who are probably atheists, but who religiously fill the coffers of every Democratic candidate and who proudly support every liberal and progressive cause. Hollywood bigwigs pretend to superior moral character and superior insight. And yet, from this fever swamp has arisen, not respectful behavior toward women, but Harvey Weinstein.

People overlook the fact, so let’s emphasize that all of these self-righteously sanctimonious empty-headed moralists voted to give an Oscar to a man who had raped a 13 year old child. Led by luminaries like Meryl Streep, Martin Scorsese, and Harvey Weinstein they cheered lustily when Roman Polanski won his Oscar. What message was people supposed to learn from that, except that the community would forgive any man anything as long as he made great movies.

Allow me to repeat the obvious. The feminist men who abused, harassed and raped women were given the greenlight by none other than Hillary Clinton. Remember that our enabler in chief defended her sexual predator husband by attacking the women who dared accuse him. When Weinstein stated that he would do penance for his perfidy by supporting leftist causes, he was simply stating the obvious. Feminists happily excused predatory men if they supported the feminist cause. Be a feminist, support the cause, and a man can do what he pleases to women.

Even now, Clinton friend and satrap, Linda Bloodworth Thomason, in a column about what she knew about Weinstein, cannot bring herself to denounce Bill Clinton:

One of the best friends I will ever have and a man I love dearly, former President Bill Clinton, has certainly taxed my feminist conscience, but always without diminishing my affection. I even helped write his apology to the nation for his own sexual misconduct, was sitting next to him when he delivered it, and believe to this day it was based on something that was none of our business.

Not-so-famous feminist ranter Lindy West has declared war on men. As though she needed the recent events to be at war against men. In truth, many feminists have been at war against boys and men for decades now. How is that one working out?

Any time you want to declare war on someone make sure that you have the fire power to win. And keep in mind that when you make war against a large group, indiscriminately attacking the guilty and the innocent, you are going to stoke animosity. And you are going to discover that some of those you are warring against will fight back.

There’s an old moral precept: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. It’s not the same as: Do unto others as they have done unto you.

Unable to accept any responsibility for the state of affairs to which she and the sisterhood contributed West denounces “powerful men.” You see, even in a world that has had its feminist consciousness raised, it’s always the patriarchy. By powerful men you can read capitalist warmongers. And you can read West's column as a veiled effort to enlist women in the revolutionary cause. Isn't she therefore trying to use the Weinstein victims as recruiting tools for her leftist caues.

But, you cannot put the patriarchy on trial. West is exonerating the men who committed sexual malfeasance by blaming all men… as though there is something about men that makes them into predators.

West ignores the fact that men are normally inclined to protect and defend women. As we know, feminists reject all such protection because they say it makes them feel weak. And yet, as one commetator remarked, one of Hollywood’s problems is that—with a couple of notable exceptions, like Brad Pitt—there weren’t any men around to protect and defend young women. Lest we forget, none of the strong empowered feminists in Hollywood were willing to denounce it either.

West is fuming against men, against:

… the smothering, delusional, galactic entitlement of powerful men.

She especially attacks Donald Trump—not Bill Clinton, of course—and his followers. Why miss the chance to make a cheap political point.

In her white hot rage West forgot that the men in Hollywood who have been preying on aspiring actresses were not Trump supporters. Heck, most of them were not even Republicans. She adds a bit of nonsensical psychobabble, presumably to show how bright she thinks she is:

Donald Trump, our predator in chief, seems to view the election of Barack Obama as a white man being fired. He and his supporters are willing to burn the world in revenge. This whole catastrophic cultural moment was born of that same entitlement, of Trump’s paws and Weinstein’s unbelted bathrobe, of the ancient cycles of abuse that ghostwrote the Trump campaign’s real slogan: If I can’t have you, no one will.

By West’s reasoning, the fault lies with the system. One cannot but agree. In a just system Weinstein would have been called out and ruined for his behavior. But, the system that, as she puts it, tolerated Weinstein for years, was not a bunch of church-going folks in Kansas. It was the entertainment industry, in Hollywood and downtown Manhattan. In small town America if someone tries to rape your daughter or your sister, he will not be seeing the next sunrise.

Unless you are sufficiently mindless to believe that all men are bad to the bone, and that all men do the same thing, the crime wave West is inveighing about was committed by card-carrying feminist men, men who have been financing the Democratic Party for decades now. If you ask who let Weinstein get away with it, the answer is: the power brokers in the film industry. It's not so much that they were cowed; I suspect that they did not care:

In a just system, Weinstein would have faced career-ruining social and professional consequences the first time he changed into a bathrobe and begged a horrified woman for a massage. In a just system, the abuse wouldn’t have stayed an open secret for decades while he was left free to chew through generation after generation of starlets. Weinstein’s life, like Cosby’s, isn’t the story of some tragic, pitiable downfall. It’s the story of someone who got away with it.

West is happy to show the world what some already suspected, that she is a witch. But, her wild-eyed harangue at all men, one that has been widely praised, demonstrates that emotional extremes often blind one to the obvious, and even to the self-evident.

Erasing the Obama Foreign Policy Legacy

Among the non-arguments proposed by the unhappy few we have this: Trump’s animosity toward Obama is causing him to undo the Obama legacy, brick by brick, piece by piece. The only reason for Trump's actions, these mindless mavens suggest, is that Obama did it.

By their poor excuse for reasoning, we should keep all elements of the Obama legacy intact… because Obama did them. Keep in mind, the American people, in casting their votes in hundreds of elections, repudiated the Obama legacy throughout the Obama presidency.

Uri Friedman addresses the question in The Atlantic, though he relies far too much on noted Obamaphile flack Ben Rhodes.

He summarizes the Trump wrecking crew:

When Donald Trump last week opted to decertify the nuclear agreement that Barack Obama forged with Iran, it appeared to fit a pattern in the president’s emerging foreign policy. In withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and the Paris climate-change accord, in announcing that he was “canceling” the U.S. opening to Cuba, Trump seemed similarly determined to dismantle Obama’s achievements in international affairs. 

But, it’s not just Trump, Friedman continues. Many Obama policy initiatives were wagers … like the wager on Iranian moderation. Reality has proved these to be bad bets:

But to the extent that Obama’s foreign-policy legacy is under threat, it’s not only Trump that’s doing the threatening. Some accomplishments are fraying for reasons that have nothing to do with the 45th president’s apparent contempt for the 44th. Obama’s legacy partially depends on his bets that certain countries—Cuba, Iran, Burma—would, with time, respond positively to diplomacy, which the former president once described to The Atlantic as “the element of American power that the rest of the world appreciates unambiguously.”

Strangely enough, Friedman suggests that the Trump war against ISIS is just a continuation of the Obama war against ISIS. He does not seem to recall that ISIS arose and prospered under the Obama presidency and that the former president exhibited his signature cowardice when confronting it.

On Monday the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa fell. Clearly, it was yet another Trumpian effort to undo the Obama legacy. Obama’s flacks and flunkies were not running around explaining that Trump had wanted to destroy ISIS because he held Obama in contempt. They preferred, in the media, to portray it as a defeat. After all, we cannot have it that Trump might look like he was succeeding, can we?

It took special talents with spin to make victory in Raqqa look like a defeat, but the New York Times was up to the challenge in its news analysis (via Maggie’sFarm):

Its de facto capital is falling. Its territory has shriveled from the size of Portugal to a handful of outposts. Its surviving leaders are on the run.

But rather than declare the Islamic State and its virulent ideology conquered, many Western and Arab counterterrorism officials are bracing for a new, lethal incarnation of the jihadist group.

The organization has a proven track record as an insurgency able to withstand major military onslaughts, while still recruiting adherents around the world ready to kill in its name.

Islamic State leaders signaled more than a year ago that they had drawn up contingency plans to revert to their roots as a guerrilla force after the loss of their territory in Iraq and Syria. Nor does the group need to govern cities to inspire so-called lone wolf terrorist attacks abroad, a strategy it has already adopted to devastating effect in Manchester, England, and Orlando, Fla.

I do not quite see how it happened, but the Times neglected to mention that jihadis far and wide were drawn to ISIS because it looked like it was winning, winning in Mosul, winning in Syria. Obama’s pusillanimous withdrawal from the region empowered ISIS and inspired jihadis in Europe and America.

The Associated Press echoes the Times worry that defeat is really a victory:

Over several nights in September, some 10,000 men, women and children fled areas under Islamic State control, hurrying through fields in northern Syria and risking fire from government troops to reach a province held by an al-Qaida-linked group.

For an untold number of battle-hardened jihadis fleeing with the civilians, the escape to Idlib province marked a homecoming of sorts, an opportunity to continue waging war alongside an extremist group that shares much of the Islamic State's ideology — and has benefited from its prolonged downfall.

While the U.S.-led coalition and Russian-backed Syrian troops have been focused on driving IS from the country's east, an al-Qaida-linked insurgent coalition known as the Levant Liberation Committee has consolidated its control over Idlib, and may be looking to return to Osama bin Laden's strategy of attacking the West.

For those bemoaning the erasure of the Obama foreign policy, it’s yet another occasion for anguish and anger.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Management Skills

On his Marginal Revolution blog Tyler Cowen brings us some good advice about corporate management… from venture capitalist Ben Horowitz. (via Maggie’s Farm)

First, Horowitz says:

People always ask me, “What’s the secret to being a successful CEO?”  Sadly, there is no secret, but if there is one skill that stands out, it’s the ability to focus and make the best move when there are no good moves.  It’s the moments where you feel most like hiding or dying that you can make the biggest difference as a CEO.

Naturally, we tend to divide the world into good and bad. We know the right thing to do and we know the wrong thing to do. We admire those who do the right thing and assume that those who do the wrong thing could have done the right thing. Since we have been trained to think critically, we can find fault with any move.

As I see it, Horowitz is right. There are times when there is no right decision. That is, there are no good moves. But you have to do something. It's your job. As the saying goes… its now your move.

As for the psycho angle, Horowitz has a useful comment that feels like it came from Peter Drucker’s pamphlet: "Managing Oneself."

Horowitz said:

By far the most difficult skill I learned as CEO was the ability to manage my own psychology.

It does not just mean that you should control your emotions, but that is certainly part of it. It means that you should be able to step back from a problem and think about the company’s best interest, not your own best interest. And it also means evaluating proposals objectively, regardless of how charming or convinced the person who promoted the proposal was. Think about the policy, not the person.

Of course, you will then need to persuade the person whose idea you just rejected to be on board with the decision.

Cue the Moral Outrage

It’s a rhetorical strategy like another. Call it the “cue the outrage” strategy. You will see it at work week after week, especially from the people who whine about facts and reason.

The pattern should be familiar by now. President Trump says something that it dubious or false or both. Before you know it, the Obamaphile outrage machine is up and running. Its members, many of whom worked for the previous president, are out there fulminating about Trump’s stupidity, his ignorance, his incompetence, his worthlessness, his lack of patriotism, his defamation of his predecessors.

Before you know it the nation is consumed in a grand discussion about how bad Trump really is, what a horrible mistake he made, how he is unfit for office, how he should immediately be impeached or removed, how he is making Hitler look good.

Case in point: at a press conference on Monday when asked whether he had called the families of the victims of the terrorist attack in Niger, Trump said that he was writing letters, and that, besides, previous presidents did not call all of the families of deceased service members. It is not exactly a pure falsehood, but it is certainly an exaggeration. In truth, George W. Bush called the families of many fallen servicemen, as did Barack Obama. Apparently, Obama did not call Gen. John Kelly, currently the White House chief of staff when his son was killed in action.

Since Trump has a habit of playing fast and loose with the truth the press corps and his political enemies were at the ready to pounce on the misstatement. One day he might learn not to shoot his mouth off without having been thoroughly briefed, but that day seems not to be dawning, just yet.

Cue the outrage. From the Washington Post:

Near midnight Monday, former U.S. attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr., who in 2009 accompanied Obama to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to witness the return of 18 Americans killed in Afghanistan, tweeted for Trump to “stop the damn lying.” He added, “I went to Dover AFB with 44 and saw him comfort the families of both the fallen military & DEA.”

And, of course, Ben Rhodes, Obama’s foreign policy consigliere chimed in:

Ben Rhodes, who served as Obama’s deputy national security adviser, called the statement “an outrageous and disrespectful lie even by Trump standards.”

Rhodes was instrumental in the foreign policy debacles of the Obama administration, leading up to the brilliant deal that gave Iran legitimate access to nuclear weapons and enough cash to fund all the terrorism they want. Good to hear from Ben on Trump’s language.

Also writing in the Washington Post David van Drehle declared that Trump had shown himself to be unpatriotic. Keep in mind, refusing to stand for the National Anthem or to pledge allegiance to the flag are now patriotic actions. Don't believe me... ask that great patriot Hillary Clinton.

Anyway, something else happened Monday that showed the true patriotism and sound judgement of a great commander in chief. You remember the time when Barack Obama was commander in chief. You remember when he snatched defeat out of the jaws of victory in Iraq? You remember when he opened the floodgates to ISIS, in both Iraq and Syria. You remember when he walked away from his red line in Syria, contributing to a bloodbath of mammoth proportions, coupled with a refugee crisis that is overwhelming Europe.

I am sure you remember those examples of a truly competent, truly patriotic commander in chief. Clearly, it all pales in comparison with the unmitigated horror that we must assign to a misstatement by Donald Trump. If, perchance you can flood the news cycle with your statements of outrage on the day that American forces, not led by the pusillanimous Barack Obama, liberated the ISIS capital of Raqqa, then no one will notice that you are basically using your moral outrage as a tool to distort the news coverage of important events.

Better yet, your gales of the insincere outrage have also served to cover up another story, a story that also occurred on Monday. If you are reasonably sentient you know it well. On that day Bowe Bergdahl pleaded guilty to the charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy during the war in Afghanistan. You remember Bowe Bergdahl. You remember when Barack Obama held a welcome home ceremony with his parents at the White House. You recall when Obama declared Bergdahl to be a great patriot, a great soldier, a man who fought for his country. You remember all the lies, lie after lie after lie, that Obama used to justify his having made a deal… and traded a deserter for five Taliban commanders. How patriotic can you get?

Marta Hernandez wrote on the Victory Girls blog:

 In an interview aired by Good Morning America today, Bergdahl sniveled that it was “insulting” that he’s being portrayed as a traitor. You got that, boys and girls? The traitorous little prick is offended that after walking away from his duty station, hooking up with the enemy, causing the deaths of and grave injuries to several fellow service members, and finally being exchanged for five terrorist Taliban scum, who are running around, no doubt planning more attacks on Americans, poor little Bowe is offended at the “traitor” moniker!

She continues:

Eyewitness accounts recount Bergdahl had at some point decided he was going to be a warrior for Islam, whose captors even allowed him to carry a gun at times. Emails he sent to his parents prior to his desertion say he was ashamed to be an American. If this is true, punishment for misbehavior before the enemy should be the least of the charges against him! I vote wood chipper. Feet first.

Additionally he admitted to a fellow troop that if the deployment wasn’t badass enough for his standards, he would just walk, and that’s exactly what he did, resulting in years of rescue efforts, American casualties, and the release of five high-value Taliban prisoners in exchange for his worthless ass. This wasn’t about trying to draw attention to leadership failures. This wasn’t about a gnawing conscience about his mission in Afghanistan. This was about a narcissistic dick weasel, who was rejected by the French Foreign Legion, probably because his ego was writing checks his body couldn’t cash.

As for Obama’s gushing praise of the deserter, Scott Johnson recalls it on the Powerline blog:

National Security Adviser Susan Rice was President Obama’s designated liar. Her shamelessness must have been her foremost qualification for the high office she disgraced.

Obama sent her out to the Sunday gabfests to have her declare that Bergdahl had served “with honor and distinction.” And that’s not all. “Sergeant Bergdahl wasn’t simply a hostage,” she asserted, “he was an American prisoner of war captured on the battlefield.” And further: “We have a sacred obligation that we have upheld since the founding of our republic to do our utmost to bring back our men and women who are taken in battle, and we did that in this instance.” 

Johnson continued:

Obama’s statement foregoes outright lies in favor of falsehood by implication. In retrospect, we can see the calculated duplicity in it.

We have Obama’s fake bonhomie with the Bergdahls. We have the portrayal of Bergdahl as a heroic prisoner of war. Unlike Susan Rice, Obama omitted any assertion fact regarding Bergdahl’s capture. The heroic portrayal is implied in the depiction of Bergdahl’s deprivations. We have Obama’s negotiation with terrorists and exchange of a deserter for five-high ranking Taliban terrorists as a triumph of martial valor, fidelity to military tradition and brilliant diplomacy, all in the service of American ideals.

When undermining the United States, Obama frequently resorted to the refrain: “That’s who we are as Americans.” He didn’t give us the facts. He didn’t give us an argument to support what he had done. He gave us his refrain. Don’t play it again, Barry.

The Taliban treated Bergdahl as a high-value hostage. Obama accorded Bergdahl a similarly high value as a pawn to be used in his project of closing Guantanamo and getting out of Afghanistan. Here are brief profiles of the five Taliban butchers Obama offloaded for Bergdahl.

In today’s New York Post Paul Sperry revisits the deal. Sperry reports: “The Pentagon itself refused to list Bergdahl as a POW. That’s because an internal 2009 Army report found he had a history of walking off his post and more than likely deserted. It also found he shipped his laptop back home to Idaho, and left a note expressing his disillusionment with the war, before ending up in the arms of the Taliban.”

So, we have fervent moral outrage over Donald Trump’s misstatement. But, with a few exceptions, we hear no outrage over the lies that Obama told, openly and shamefacedly, about Bowe Bergdahl. After all, Obama knew that the media would never hold him to account for any of his lies, so he was free to say whatever he wanted. Sending five Taliban commanders back to the battlefield where they could fight against and kill American and Afghani forces… not a problem. Certainly not unpatriotic. If you say that it was an appallingly bad decision... then the thought police will descend on you like a band of locusts.

It is fairly obvious that we are living in the era of the big lie and where lies cannot be challenged when they are told by Democrats. We are living in a time when emotion has drowned out reason.