Sunday, April 05, 2015

Are American young men nogoodniks?

In 2011 Kay Hymowitz wrote an article for the WSJ under the heading "Where Have The Good Men Gone?", which basically said that college-educated American  men in their 20s are nogoodniks.  They still behave like adolescents and are no good to young women -- who are far more mature.  And she put forward a number of reasons why that should be so.

Hymowitz herself is a broadly conservative and married New York Jewish lady born in 1948.  So it would not be inaccurate to refer to her as an old lady.  So is she just lost in the era of her youth (which is roughly also mine) or is there something in what she said?

The article has got a lot of attention.  Google has over 17,000 references to it, and most that I have read agreed with it to some degree -- with feminism getting a lot of blame for the problem.  I am not an American and my stays in America were not long enough to allow me to make any judgments about that particular demographic category.  I think however there are two things I can say about the debate that need to be said:

1). "The men are no good" is an old cry.  Women who have not paired up by age 30 have been singing that song for a long time. The men they met in their 20s were not good enough for them and they somehow think the men they meet in their 30s should be better!  One example from my own life I always find amusing:  I was at a singles party and knew an attractive lady there.  We were chatting and she said to me:  "Where are all the men?".  I pointed out that there were in fact a slight preponderance of men in the room.  She replied: "Not THOSE men".  She had standards much higher than what was available.  So it may be that Hymowitz too has unrealistically high standards when she evaluates young American men.

2).  Value judgments aside, it is incontrovertible that young people these days are not marrying nearly as much as they used to.   Why is that?   I think all the reasons advanced by Hymowitz and others have a part to play but who can doubt that young men have noticed the traumatic divorce cases that regularly feature in the papers?  So often a divorce is reported as disastrous for the man financially and sometimes disastrous in other ways too.  Who would wish that on themselves? And the sure way of avoiding such damage is not to marry in the first place.  Feminism has turned many women into women of easy virtue so sexual deprivation is not a problem.  So if any woman complains that the men she meets "won't commit", just refer her  to the divorce laws in her State.  A man has to be slightly insane to marry these days.  The laws are largely feminist inspired but conspire heavily against what many women want.  Feminists are good at conspiring against the interests of normal women.



For Christians, six or so weeks of penance, atonement and self-denial come to a close this weekend. Time to hang up those horse-hair undergarments, unlock the fridge and indulge. Or at least that used to be what happened with the end of Lent.

But several high-powered Anglican bishops, who are urging the Church of England to prove its commitment to battling climate change, want the spirit of Lent to be extended indefinitely. And they are not alone. From lifestyle cops obsessed with our waistlines to the greens obessessed with the contents of our bin liners, too many seem to think life-long self-denial is the way forward. So, here’s an alternative Easter message: buck the miserablism and enjoy yourselves!


Free Fall in the Middle East

As bombs fall on Yemen and a sectarian war between the Middle East’s leading powers becomes more likely by the day, the Obama Administration seems to feel it might have some spinning to do about the success of its Middle East policy. But as President Ahab glances around his deck, few of his shipmates are manning their posts—in fact, most seem to be scrambling for the lifeboats. Oh well, there’s always that trusty tar, Unnamed State Department Official, to rely on for a friendly quote in Politico:

“There’s a sense that the only view worth having on the Middle East is the long view. […] We’ve painfully seen that good can turn to bad and bad can turn to good in an instant, which might be a sobriety worth holding on to at moments like this. The truth is, you can dwell on Yemen, or you can recognize that we’re one agreement away from a game-changing, legacy-setting nuclear accord on Iran that tackles what every one agrees is the biggest threat to the region.”

But among those who are willing to give their names, there is less philosophizing. James Jeffrey, Obama’s former Ambassador to Iraq, cuts through the commentary on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East with a certain pithiness:

“We’re in a goddamn free fall here.”

Meanwhile, over at the New York Times, writers are doing their tortured best to say something other than that a catastrophic breakdown of the President’s foreign policy is taking place in the Middle East—but the defense is less than effective. What can you do, the world is just a mess, seems to be their take:

"Few disagree that the continuing tumult in the Middle East has scrambled American priorities there. This has led many to argue that the Obama administration’s policy for the region is adrift — without core principles to anchor it.

But amid the confusion, some experts said that there cannot be an overarching American policy in the Middle East at the moment. The best the White House can do, they said, is tailor policies according to individual crises as they flare up."

If we had a Republican President and the Middle East were in this much of a mess, and the Administration had been repeatedly exposed as having fundamentally misjudged major developments (calling ISIS the “jayvee team,” Yemen a success, Erdogan a reliable partner, etc. etc.), the NYT would be calling for impeachment and howling about the end of the world. As it is, the newspaper of record reflects philosophically on the complexity of the world, and suggests that nobody could really do anything given the problems around us.

Nobody should be surprised by this, but nobody should miss the most important point here: even the President’s ideological fellow travelers can no longer mount a cogent defense of his Middle East policy. The MSM will still do all it can to avoid connecting the dots or drawing attention to the stark isolation in which the White House now finds itself as ally after ally drops away. It still doesn’t want to admit that the “smart diplomacy” crowd has been about as effective at making a foreign policy as the famous emperor’s smooth-talking tailors were at making a new suit of clothes. But it’s getting harder and harder to find anybody willing to gush about how snazzy the President looks in the sharp foreign policy outfit that he’s sporting around town. The shocked silence of the foreign policy establishment, the absence of any statements of support from European or Asian allies about our Middle East course, the evidence that the President and the “senior officials” whom he trusts continue to be blindsided by major developments they didn’t expect and haven’t provided for: all of this tells us that our Middle East policy is indeed in free fall.



The Tricks Obama Is Trying to Play with the Iran Announcement

If you look at what happened today between the U.S. and Iran through the lens of domestic American politics, Barack Obama has made a very clever play here—because what might be called “the agreement of the framework of the possibility of a potential deal” gives him new leverage in his ongoing battle with the Senate to limit its ability to play a role in the most critical foreign-policy matter of the decade.

The “framework” codifies the Obama administration’s cave-ins but casts them as thrilling reductions in Iran’s capacities rather than what they are—a pie-in-the-sky effort to use inspections as the means by which the West can “manage” the speed with which Iran becomes a nuclear power.

Obama’s tone of triumph this afternoon was mixed with sharp reminders that the deal is actually not yet done—and that is entirely the point of this exercise from a domestic standpoint. the triumph signals his troops and apologists that the time has come for them to stand with him, praise the deal sheet and pretend it’s a deal, declare it historic, and generally act as though the world has been delivered from a dreadful confrontation by Obama and Kerry.

But since the deal is not yet done, it could still be derailed. And that is where Obama’s truly Machiavellian play here comes in: He may have found a way to put the Senate in a box and keep Democrats from melting away from him on Iran and voting not only for legislation he doesn’t want but also to override the veto he has promised.

The Senate has two provisions at the ready with which it could go ahead any time. One, called Kirk-Menendez, imposes new sanctions on Iran. Obama promised a veto of this bill should it pass, and after today, one ought to presume that it’s dead.

The other, Corker-Menendez, requires the administration to submit any deal to the Senate within 60 days of its signing. This is a key provision because, of course, what the Iranians want—and what they said today they got—was the lifting of all sanctions. The president, in his statement, vowed to lift the “nuclear” sanctions (there are others involving human rights) if the Iranians comply by the terms of the deal.

Existing sanctions legislation features waivers the president can arguably use to do that. But those sanctions were put into place specifically to make it incredibly painful for Iran to retain any nuclear-weapons capability—not as a means of acceding to Iran’s retention of a nuclear capability.

For this reason, and for the reason that the president is essentially negotiating an arms-control treaty with Iran, the Senate should approve any final deal. Obama disagrees and claims this is merely a nuclear-agreement, not a treaty, and therefore Congress has no role.

That’s a very nervy argument. It is not only disrespectful of the Senate but it misrepresents the nature of what’s being negotiated. And that’s why it’s an argument it appeared the president would lose—that senators would not only vote for Corker-Menendez but would override his veto of it.

Which is why the deal-that’s-not-yet-a-deal works in his favor. Talks are now to continue until the end of June. Obama can and will argue to Democrats that they owe it to him, to their base, and to their governing ideology to give him all the room he needs to get to June 30.

Of course, if the legislation does not pass by June 30 and Obama signs a final deal, the game is up; the Senate can’t retroactively insist in July he bring it to them for a vote.

Will there be a deal by June 30? Maybe, maybe not; maybe they’ll finish, maybe they won’t; maybe the Iranians will say they didn’t agree to this or that and blow up the whole thing; who knows. Probably the total collapse, after all this, would bring the Kirk-Menendez sanctions back to life. Which is why there will never be a total collapse—because these talks can simply go on….



Sanctions against Russia backfire

Boost Russian exports; depress Australian and Indonesian exports

Russia is starting to erode the dominance of Australia and Indonesia in the Pacific thermal coal market thanks to the steep depreciation of the rouble over the past 12 months, according to energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie.

Coal exports from Russia to the Pacific have already increased by about 8 million tonnes and the country is making inroads into the market share of the leading suppliers, said Kiah Wei Giam, senior Asia-Pacific region analyst for the firm.

Under cost conditions of 12 months ago, Russian production would have made up about 17 per cent of the first 200 million tonnes of supply to Pacific buyers. But with the depreciation of the rouble, combined with the impact of lower prices, its share jumps to 35 per cent.

"With even closer proximity to the north Asian market, which are typically heavy coal consumers, Russian coal can potentially displace the Australian and Indonesian tonnes," Mr Giam said in a media briefing.

"It is Russia which tops the list of benefactors" with the rouble falling 70 per cent against the US dollar, Mr Giam said.



Some Indiana Interrogatories

The whole Indiana RFRA controversy prompts a few interrogatories.  Such as:

 *  If a member of the Westboro Baptist Church asks for a bakery to create a cake with their motto “God hates fags,” will the baker be charged with discrimination if she refuses?

 *  If a baker agrees to bake a cake for a gay wedding, but as matter of practice includes the slogan “God hates fags” in, say, Aramaic script on the side of the cake, wouldn’t this be protected speech and/or “expression” under the First Amendment?

 *  Just curious: why hasn’t anyone been to a Muslim bakery to press this newfound frontier of anti-discrimination?  Ah—Steven Crowder has.  Will the Human Rights Campaign Fund descend upon Dearborn, Michigan, tomorrow about this outrageous injustice?  I’m not holding my breath. Short video at link.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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