Monday, July 15, 2013

Amusingly ...

A publisher recently asked me to write a blurb for the dustjacket of a book they are bringing out.  They will probably use only a small part of my blurb so I thought I might present the whole thing here.

I know it is quite strange but I am going to present the review without mentioning the name of the book or the name of the author.  When you read the review I think you will see why.  If they get wind of the book, the Left are highly likely to move heaven and earth to get it canned.  Chris Brand's book on IQ was withdrawn even after distribution of it had started.

My reaction to this careful and thorough book was a good chuckle.  X has in effect caught the political left with their pants down.  Leftist pretensions of tolerance and good will rapidly fall by the wayside when they are dealing with conservative Christians.  We know that from the outpouring of hate speech towards Christians we regularly see in the media.  X verifies that by way of careful survey research.  Progressives seem to have more fear and loathing towards Christians than Christians have fear and loathing towards the Devil!

X is primarily interested in the concept of authoritarianism so he looks at how people want to treat members of other groups.  Do they want to use force to suppress members of groups that they disagree with?  Given the way progressives froth at the mouth about Christians, one would expect that all sorts of suppressive  actions towards Christians would be supported by progressives.  And they are. The old Voltairian attitude "I disagree with what you say but I will fight to the death for your right to say it" is conspicuously absent.  It is clear that, given their way, progressives would treat Christians as harshly as Stalin did the kulaks.

No observer of history should be surprised by any of that.  From the French revolution on,  the political left has always striven to gain control over other people and impose on other people what the Leftist thinks is a good thing.  Obamacare, for instance,  imposes a vast regulatory and bureaucratic apparatus on American healthcare that will undoubtedly  reduce services and increase costs but "It's for your own good" we are told.  Or for the good of somebody anyway.

Where X innovates is that he has highlighted Leftist hate by using the conventional methods of psychological research.  Psychologists such as Altemeyer use questionnaire surveys to "prove" that conservatives are a bad lot.  X returns the compliment by using the same methods to show that progressives are a bad lot.  After 20 years of doing such research myself, I don't think it proves much either way but X's demonstration that it can just as easily be used to shoot down progressives is at least amusing.

I will of course notify readers when the book becomes available for sale.  Worth waiting for


Hate Thought

Victor Davis Hanson

When do insensitive words destroy reputations?

It all depends. Celebrity chef Paula Deen was dropped by her TV network, her publisher and many of her corporate partners after she testified in a legal deposition that she used the N-word some 30 years ago. The deposition was filed in a lawsuit against Deen and her brother over allegations of sexual and racial harassment.

Actor Alec Baldwin just recently let loose with a slur of homophobic crudities. Unlike Deen, Baldwin spewed his epithets in the present. He tweeted them publicly, along with threats of physical violence. So far he has avoided Paula Dean's ignominious fate.

Does race determine whether a perceived slur is an actual slur?

It depends.

Some blacks use the N-word in ways supposedly different from those of ill-intentioned white racists. Testimony revealed that the late Trayvon Martin had used the N-word in reference to George Zimmerman and had also referred to Zimmerman as a "creepy-ass cracker" who was following him.

Some members of the media have suggested that we should ignore such inflammatory words and instead focus on whether Zimmerman, who has been described as a "white Hispanic," used coded racist language during his 911 call.

Actor Jamie Foxx offers nonstop racialist speech of the sort that a white counterpart would not dare. At the recent NAACP Image Awards (of all places), Foxx gushed: "Black people are the most talented people in the world." Earlier, on Saturday Night Live, Foxx had joked of his recent role in a Quentin Tarantino movie: "I kill all the white people in the movie. How great is that?"

Foxx has not suffered the fate of Paula Deen. He certainly has not incurred the odium accorded comedian Michael Richards, who crudely used the N-word in 2006 toward two African-American hecklers of his stand-up routine.

Yet whites at times seem exempt from any fallout over the slurring of blacks. Democratic Minnesota state representative Ryan Winkler recently tweeted of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas's vote to update the Voting Rights Act: "VRA majority is four accomplices to race discrimination and one Uncle Thomas." Winkler's implication was that four of the jurists were veritable racists, while Thomas was a sellout. After a meek apology, nothing much happened to Winkler.

Winkler's "Uncle Thomas" racial slur was mild in comparison to the smear of Justice Thomas by MSNBC talking head and African-American professor Michael Eric Dyson, who made incendiary on-air comments invoking Hitler and the holocaust.

Does profanity against women destroy celebrity careers?

Not really.

TV talk-show host Bill Maher used two vulgar female slang terms to reference Sarah Palin, without any major consequences.

Those Palin slurs were mild in comparison to late-night television icon David Letterman's crude riff that Palin's then-14-year old daughter was impregnated by baseball star Alex Rodriguez.

In contrast, when talk-show host Rush Limbaugh demeaned activist Sandra Fluke as a "slut," outrage followed. Sponsors were pressured to drop Limbaugh. Some did. Unlike the targeted Palin, Fluke became a national icon of popular feminist resistance.

So how do we sort out all these slurs and the contradictory consequences that follow them?

Apparently, racist, sexist or homophobic words themselves do not necessarily earn any rebuke. Nor is the race or gender of the speaker always a clue to the degree of outrage that follows.

Instead, the perceived ideology of the perpetrator is what matters most. Maher and Letterman, being good liberals, could hardly be crude sexists. But when the conservative Limbaugh uses similar terms, it must be a window into his dark heart.

It's apparently OK for whites or blacks to slur conservative Clarence Thomas in racist terms. Saying anything similar of the late liberal Justice Thurgood Marshall would have been blasphemous.

In short, we are dealing not with actual word crimes, but with supposed thought crimes.

The liberal media and popular culture have become our self-appointed thought police. Politics determines whether hate speech is a reflection of real hate or just an inadvertent slip, a risqué joke or an anguished reaction to years of oppression.

Poor Paula Deen. She may protest accusations of racism by noting that she supported Barack Obama's presidential campaigns. But the media instead fixates on her deep Southern accent and demeanor, which supposedly prove her speech was racist in a way that left-wing and cool Jamie Foxx purportedly could never be.

We cannot forgive conservative Mel Gibson for his despicable, drunken anti-Semitic rants. But it appears we can pardon liberal Alec Baldwin for his vicious homophobic outbursts. The former smears are judged by the thought police to be typical, but the latter slurs are surely aberrant.

The crime is not hate speech, but hate thought -- a state of mind that apparently only self-appointed liberal referees can sort out.



Obamacare Is Coming Undone

Obamacare is coming undone. You can see it happening day by day, provision by provision, as the administration postpones or scales back key parts of the law, and other signs continue to suggest that the law as written simply won’t work.

Last Tuesday, in what was apparently intended to be a pre-July 4 holiday news dump, the administration made the embarrassing announcement that it would delay by a year the health law’s requirement that employers with 50 or more workers offer health coverage or pay a penalty. The administration also said it would delay the law’s reporting requirements for employers who offer health coverage.

That raised a major operational question about the law’s health insurance exchanges. How would those exchanges be able to determine whether someone applying for subsidies to buy individual coverage on an exchange already had access to employer coverage? The law says that people whose employers provide coverage aren’t allowed to get subsidies.

Late on Friday, we get another news dump—and an answer. The 16 exchanges run by states won’t have to verify an individual’s health insurance status at all. Nor will the state-run exchanges have to verify an individual’s income level.

Instead, they’ll rely on “self-reported” information. And then subsidies will be available to anyone who simply attests that they do not get qualifying, affordable health insurance from work, and that their household income is low enough to be eligible for subsidies.

As Ben Domenech writes in this morning’s Transom, what this means is that “the most significant entitlement increase since the Great Society will be operating on the honor system.” And as Yuval Levin says, it may turn out to be “an open invitation to fraud.” Even if outright fraud does not become a major issue, the combination of the delays may increase the cost of the law relative to what it would have been: No employer penalty, and no health status or income verification, means that more people will end up on the exchanges, receiving subsidies. And more subsidies means a more expensive law. The deficit reduction it was supposed to have achieved, already significantly reduced, is almost certainly reduced further—and perhaps gone entirely.

The delays also constitute an admission that the administration simply could not make the law’s verification technology—the infrastructure that is arguably the core functionality for the exchanges—work properly before the October 2013 launch of the exchanges. Doing so, according to the rule issued by the Department of Health and Human Services last Friday, “would involve a large amount of systems development on both the state and federal side, which cannot occur in time for October 1, 2013.”

The postponements were unexpected—even, apparently, to the officials running the exchanges at the state level. But trouble with the verification technology should not have come as a surprise. Obamacare's critics have warned about the potential difficulties practically since the law was passed. In my October 2010 feature on implementating the law, for example, I noted that “fast, accurate income verification presents a particularly serious difficulty,” and spoke to several health policy experts who warned of difficulties ahead. Nor were critics the only ones seeing trouble. It’s been clear from the reporting for over a year now that officials in charge of implementing the law were having serious problems making the exchange technology work. By the time that the official in charge of the exchange technology told insurers that he was “pretty nervous” and had resorted to working to “make sure it’s not a third-world experience,” it was pretty clear that the project was a mess.

The delays aren’t only recent sign that Obamacare is struggling.

Just a few days before the employer mandate was postponed, Bloomberg News reported that a third of the hospitals involved in a high-level test of the law’s most vaunted health care savings programs—its Accountable Care Organization (ACO) program—are threatening to cease participation. The 16 hospitals were part of the ACO “pioneer” program, which was intended to show off how some of the law’s most ambitious health care payment reforms would work. Right now, however, it looks suspiciously like they aren’t.

The same goes for a lot of Obamacare. Earlier this year, officials in charge of the law delayed the essential functionality of the law’s small business exchanges. The law’s early retirement program ran out of money and shut down early. The law’s high-risk pool program signed up far fewer people than anyone predicted—and yet, thanks to unexpectedly high per-beneficiary costs—still had to cut payments to providers and cease enrollment in order to stay afloat. The availability of national health plans that were supposed to be part of the exchanges is in doubt, probably because of insurer reticence. Large swaths of rural, low-income Mississipi may end up with no insurers at all to choose from in the exchange. Officials in states that are building their own exchanges continue to say they are struggling to meet deadlines. The list goes on.

None of this means that Obamacare will collapse under its own weight. The most likely scenario at this point (though not the only one) is that the exchanges will still open on time, enrolling all who claim eligibility in subsidies. But the law’s rocky implementation continues to reveal the significant flaws in both the law’s legislative design and management. There’s still much that’s unclear about the inner workings of the exchange-creation process, but the fact that the administration is jettisoning key provisions this late in the implementation calendar suggests that it is not going well, and it is reasonable to suspect that the bad news for the law will continue. The big question, then, is which piece of the law will come undone next?



A hollow victory for Zimmerman

As predicted, many blacks are not satisfied with the acquittal of George Zimmerman.  He will be pursued by black racists for the rest of his life.  He may have to emigrate to achieve any degree of personal safety.  It is no wonder that he looked only barely pleased by the verdict.  He is now under a life sentence, just not one in jail.


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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