Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Bad Analogies: Border Fence = Berlin Wall

   I don't have an actual position on the question of a fence to stop illegal immigration on the southern border. I've sometimes leaned in favor of it largely because I'm contrarian, and I have such a strong reaction to the terrible analogy that was so central to the anti- position early in the debate. That is: the border fence = Berlin Wall analogy.
   It's amazing how shitty people's reasoning can become when political passions get engaged. (Which, I hope, is not to suggest that I think that what's needed is Spock-like frigidity.) The analogy is so awful that I think I've always refused to even state why it's awful. It's an insult to say it--an insult to anyone making even a minimal effort to be rational, that is.
   So I'm still not going to say it.
   So there.
   I thought that the quasi-open-borders left--the sanctuary cities/no-border-fence/no deportations crowd--might have quietly abandoned the analogy...but I guess not.
   I don't know whether a fence is a good idea. It's a cost-benefit question. Assertions that it's the "symbolism" that's the problem are crappy because, again, the analogy is crappy. But fences can. e.g., disrupt wildlife migration patterns, for example. Anyway, laying out the costs and benefits is for the experts. Don't look at me... I suppose one might respond that a fence could end up playing a Berlin-Wall-type-function if the U.S. government were to go bad...but that doesn't immediately strike me as a very weighty argument.
   My point is pretty minimal: we can't let an obviously bad analogy carry any weight in the discussion.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Kristol Says Independent Candidate Will Run

More Than 50 People Shot Across Chicago Memorial Day Weekend

And the long weekend isn't even over.
A lot of these will have been gangsters shooting each other, which shootings deserve a different category in my (and many other people's) opinion. But a lot will not have been.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Transgender Bathroom Debate In A Nutshell

   God help us, even RedState is getting things right... Surely a sign of the apocalypse....
   Crazy intellectual life-forms evolve in the absence of predation. By meeting any effort to evaluate the aspiring left-wing orthodoxy on transgenderism with accusations of bigotry, "progressives" and the PC left have no one to blame but themselves. They've insisted on a doctrine that is obviously false, and they've shouted down efforts to point out even its most obvious absurdities. Now they're in too deep, and committed to the absurd claim that reasoning about the proto-orthodoxy is equivalent to bigotry.
   So now even RedState is kicking their asses, philosophically speaking.
  The chorus of brain-free left-dittoheads agreeing with Lofgren makes the whole thing even more repulsive.
  Thinking is bigotry
   Fictions are facts
   Oppression is emancipation

Trump = Hitler Watch: A Very Misleading Article By Anne Frank's Stepsister

   I saw a reference to this, and scurried over to read it. Damn, I thought. I've been deriding the assertions that Trump = LiterallyHitler...but...here's someone who's basically an authority on the subject...here's someone with expertise. This is something like actual data... also sounds like I've been wrong about this...
   Instead, the article seems to be bullshit.
   Ms. Schloss doesn't give us anything similar to expert testimony (e.g. I lived through both times; Trump has clear and identifiable similarities to Hitler). She's just mouthing the standard current assertions of the farther left: we should take in more Syrian refugees, Trump incites racism. Oh and my personal favorite: a border fence is like the Berlin Wall. She asserts that she thinks that Trump is acting like Hitler by inciting racism...which means she seems to believe what a large number of Trump critics believe...and, more importantly, she believes it on the same type of grounds. She is not telling us that she saw Hitler and Trump is like Hitler...nothing of the kind. (After all, she was just a kid at the beginning of WWII...so any hope that we'd be getting something like expert testimony was silly.) And, of course: anyone who's ever incited racism is like Hitler in that respect. So, again, the headline here is not: person with personal experience of 1930's Germany judges there to be striking similarity between Trump and Hitler. The headline is: popular anti-Trump arguments accepted by person who survived Holocaust as a child/teen. I mean it's not nothing...but it's not much either.
   In all honestly, Ms. Schloss's article, as it turns out, adds nothing to the discussion.
   Should we take in more Syrian refugees? Well...I think so...but let's be clear that we're talking about refugees, not the economic immigrants mixed in with them. I've long argued that the U.S. should grant asylum and admission to more political refugees and victims of mass violence from across the world. That's one reason we should be more concerned about illegal immigration driven by economics: we have to start building down the population sometime, and that means that we can't allow unchecked floods of immigrants legal or illegal. It's extremely un-PC to be concerned about the population these days, but that's idiotic. Population is a major problem. (It's weird, isn't it, that global warming panic hasn't undermined the PC dogma that one mustn't worry about population?) We don't have to solve that problem immediately--and we can't. But the sooner we start doing something the better. The more illegal economic immigration we allow, the fewer asylum-seekers we can take in. I favor a fairly liberal policy with respect to asylum and acceptance of refugees. But, unlike everybody else, I haven't stuck my head in the sand about the population. And I don't expect us to radically reduce the birth rate any time soon...  So...some choices have to be made. Not necessarily this instant. But not never either.
   Is Trump a racist? Well...that's not clear. I have my concerns...but what we mostly have is Trump flinging around his characteristic half-baked bullshit, some of which makes bigotry hypotheses pretty tempting... (Though much of what's being called racism isn't clearly about race. Muslim, for example, is not a race.) On the other side, you've got liberals and leftists doing their thing--flinging charges of racism everywhere at every opportunity against anyone to the right of Noam Chomsky... (And also just making shit up, e.g. "Trump said Mexicans are rapists!") So...I don't know what to say on that score.
   Would a border fence be in any significant respect similar to the Berlin Wall? That question is so embarrassingly facepalmerific that I'm not even going to dignify it with a response.
   Anyway, I was all ready to change my mind on this one...but...false alarm.

Protesters At DePaul Shut Down Milo Talk, Shake A Fist In His Face, Expensive DePaul Security Detail Just Watches

   Whelp, there's really nothing more that can be said about this sort of thing. It speaks for itself. There's no need to highlight the anti-liberal outlines nor shine any light on obscure features that need to be brought out. The probability that something similar would be tolerated were the tables turned and right wing students were harassing and shutting down a left-wing even is exactly zero. Imagine the media coverage if a conservative white male had stuck his fist in the face of a left-wing black female as part of an effort to prevent her from speaking.
   The real problem, however, IMO, is not so much this particular event. It's that campuses are sympathetic to the anti-liberal left in a deep, wide, and long-term way. What's going on is not so much the main problem as it is a symptom of the main problem: that campuses lean hard to the left. That's not only bad in itself, it means that it seems inevitable that they will continue to move leftward. It's as if they are governed by an array of one-way valves: leftward movement is easy, rightward movement is virtually impossible. That, of course, is a blueprint for disaster.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Drum: Cell Phones Cause Brain Cancer*

Saying So Makes It So: Trump / "There Is No Drought" Edition

Friday, May 27, 2016

The Anti-Liberal Left Helps Out Trump

Keep it up, you fucking assholes.
You're on the way to getting that jackass elected.

Friedersdorf: Dialog With A 22-Year-Old Donald Trump Supporter

This is really worth a read.
   Some quick points:
   Trump Voter is right: political correctness is very important and very bad. It's worth taking opposition to PC into account when you vote. This is something that poses a genuine threat to genuine liberalism.
   You're not really opposing PC by [supporting!] Trump. Trump mindlessly flings the PC charge here and there, and the only real effect a Trump presidency will have on that score is driving more liberals into the arms of the illiberal left.
   If you want to oppose PC, then your best bet is probably HRC. I say this not because I'm already inclined toward HRC, but because I think she's basically cut from the same stuff as her husband and Obama. I think there's a decent chance she can be trusted to stand up to the left wing of her party, and those left of it. The Big Dog had his "Sister Soulja moment"...Obama has denounced PC madness several times. (Though he's not reigned in the madness of the DoE OCR and the DoJ with respect to transanity, unfortunately...) HRC is similarly centrist. She might do the right thing...she might not...she's a gamble...she's our best chance. IMO.
   But one thing there's little doubt of: A Trump presidency will just invigorate the anti-liberal left and drive liberals (or "progressives") farther in that direction.
   My fondest hope is that Obama keeps up his defense of liberalism and perhaps...dare I hope?...even steps it up a bit after he's out of office.

The "White Privilege" Nonsense, Plus Some Other Nonsense

   But also a tiny fragment of non-nonsense...that I can't believe has to be discussed. Specifically: yeah, everybody should be concerned about injustice, regardless of who it's against and what color they and you are. I thought that was one of the main goddamned points of the civil right movement why has everybody gone so insane????? When was that all forgotten? Never is when. Or, at least, not by anyone I know. Justice is color-blind...oh...but wait...references to color-blindness are "microaggressions" now, right?
   Anyway...I'm not sure why the "SURJ" idea is supposed to be new. But anyway, the idea is right. But...Michael Brown...not a good example. See...caring about races equally...just not all that rare. Not rare enough to write an article about it, anyway... But...there's also a lot of going overboard about cases that simply don't constitute injustice. Like the case of Michael Brown. Or, basically, anything the campus left is whining about. When you get shit wrong and make shit up, you can't expect reasonable people to jump in on your side.
   It's important not to ignore injustice because it happens to other races. It's also important not to fabricate injustice.
   Anyway: ditch the "white privilege" crap. It's not accurate, it's dumb, and all it does is annoy cranky liberals like me. What you're talking about is discrimination against blacks.

[Also: it's the PC left that wants to colorize everything. Identity politics does tribalize political issues. So I suppose this "SURJ" thing is a step in the right direction for them...i.e. back towards ordinary, normal conceptions of actual justice that isn't somehow racialized. So...uh...good job?]

Michelle Cottle: If The U.S. Made People Do Good, Would That Be Bad?

It's not even a tough question.

Princeton Protesters Want Faculty With Learning Disabilities

Not making this up.

Transgenderism: Liberalism's Patch Adams Moment

This is really good, IMO, by our own Mystic.
I haven't seen the movie, actually, but the analogy seems right on target.

Jeannie Suk: The Transgender Bathroom Debate And The Looming Title IX Crisis

This is good.
   I'm frankly surprised that The New Yorker printed something less-than-completely slanted toward the transgender activist position...but it does include some anti-male stuff...so maybe that did it...
   Or maybe I underestimate The New Yorker.
   And, actually, the "anti-male" stuff to which I refer is...well...true. Contemporary feminism is loaded with anti-male sexism...but it seems to me that there's not much discussion of the fact that it's males who are by far the biggest source of violence. Like, crazy biggest. There's definitely just something wrong with a lot of dudes. You know it, I know it...feminists know it too...so why it doesn't get more play over there I'm not sure... Writers who spend innumerable column-inches decrying "mansplaining" and "manspreading" and everything else man-related...don't really seem to spend much time talking about the biggest, weirdest, worst, most characteristically male vice: the propensity for irrational, unjust violence. This has puzzled me for a long time...
   Anyway...that's one of the big problems here: we've got to be concerned about violence against men who appear to be women ("transwomen" in the PC vernacular) using men's restrooms.
   Anyway, Suk writes:
In chastising North Carolina, the Justice Department explained that if non-transgender people may use bathrooms consistent with their gender identity, then denying transgender people access consistent with their gender identity constitutes discrimination on the basis of sex. Similarly, the Dear Colleague letter states that the federal government “treats a student’s gender identity as a student’s sex for the purposes of Title IX.” These interpretations of federal anti-discrimination law are new and surprising. It is not at all obvious that the “sex” in sex-discrimination law means not sex but gender, let alone “an internal sense of gender,” as the Letter says. But it is also reasonable to interpret sex-discrimination law to prohibit discrimination against transgender people. Given that single-sex bathrooms have never been seen as constituting sex discrimination, the tricky question is whether limiting them based on biological sex, rather than gender, does indeed discriminate on the basis of sex. [my emphasis]
   Yep, that's what I was just saying. Except I'd put it more forcefully: those arguments/positions are completely nuts. I mean...majority opinion in Bush v. Gore-level nuts. Worse than the arguments of the majority in Bush v. Gore, actually... They're bad arguments/positions even by the denigrated standards of academia. If they can succeed in the courts...I will basically lose the last of my faith in the law. That such arguments survive in (as Nagel refers to them) "the weaker regions of the humanities and social sciences" is one thing...that they can survive where getting things right matters is something else entirely.
   In effect, what the DoJ is doing here is taking a rather difficult-to-justify institution (sex-segregation of public restrooms) and an entirely incoherent theory of sex, and using them together to argue for a position according to which people like me are legally obligated to use the men's room...but someone exactly like me but who claims to feel as if he's a woman can use the women's room...or, I suppose, must use the women's room...right?
   Both of the competing positions seem to make more sense: (a) segregate public restrooms by (actual) sex. Period. Like we've been doing; (b) don't segregate public restrooms by sex. What doesn't make sense is: segregate public restrooms by sex...then decide you don't like that...so make up an incoherent theory of sex in order to make exceptions in order to get the outcome you do like...and pretend it's segregation by sex.
   Look: I'm not wild about such arguments, because they're close to counterproductivity arguents...but: one reason to think philosophically is to force consistency on ourselves so that we don't whimsically commit ourselves to some dumbass ad hoc theory that causes trouble elsewhere in our theory of the world. So. Even if you aren't interested in admitting that the positions and theories being deployed by the DoJ make no damn sense, you might at least reflect on the fact that we have not yet begun to recognize what else we are committing ourselves to if we commit ourselves to this obviously false theory of sex. (For one thing, it would force revisions in biology. We'll now need a new term to mean what 'sex' has always meant, since 'sex' will have been hijacked to mean something that it has never meant.)
   Anyway, back to the policy options: OTOH, one might argue: what we need here is a messy compromise: people should use whichever restroom is least disruptive, given their appearance. I think this might end up being the least-bad alternative...but no one should have much confidence in that. We really do seem to be opening the door to a (possibly) more dangerous country for women if we do that.  And another good point by Suk: the left has just spent the last several years arguing that women are already in near-constant danger of sexual assault...  But, then, the effort to force the far left (or the far right) toward consistency has never been successful...

Why Is The DoJ Pushing A Radical, False, Indefensible Theory of Sex?

   Even extremist feminists rarely try to argue that sex is a so-called "social construct," nor that it's constituted (in whole or in part) by "gender identity" (a term so protean that it's virtually useless trying to pin anyone down on it). Normally the tactic is to insist on some vague appeal to the sex/gender distinction. The DoJ's line up to this point has been that "gender identity" trumps sex (i.e. maleness/femaleness) with respect to the relevant issues. The DoJ, however, is now taking the much more radical line that "gender identity" is partially constitutive of sex. (This is part of what the term 'gender' does for the PC left in these contexts: it facilitates equivocation. If you need to blur the sex/gender distinction, you use 'gender' to mean sex. If you need them to be different, you indignantly declare that sex and gender are utterly different, and never the twain shall meet. )
   My guess: the statutes they're citing as the legal foundation of their case are all about sex discrimination--e.g. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964: 
As set forth below, Defendants’ compliance with and implementation of Part I of North Carolina Session Law 2016-3, House Bill 2 (“H.B. 2”), which was enacted and became effective on March 23, 2016, constitutes a pattern or practice of employment discrimination on the basis of sex in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
   However, as I've noted before, North Carolina in no way seems to be discriminating against anyone with respect to sex. As long as sex-segregation of public restrooms is permissible, then the NC law is fine--it merely says: you've got to use the restroom associated with your sex...just like everyone else. The relevant people at DoJ probably realize that they can't win by arguing, as they have been, that the law must make an exception for "gender identity." "Gender identity," after all, isn't even an actual concept. It's not flat-out incoherent...but it's an ad hoc, highly theory-dependent concept made up in the activist sectors of academia specifically for the purpose of facilitating equivocation to win arguments like the one in question.  I'd be pretty surprised if the terminology "gender identity" were used in any federal legislation. 
   So, with no statute to point to, what are activists at the DoJ to do? The answer is: drop the line that NC is committing "gender identity" discrimination, argue that it's committing sex discrimination, and argue that "gender identity" is part of sex. 
   This is an argument so hopelessly and transparently unsound that it boggles the mind. It makes no sense, and it doesn't come close to making sense. And it's chilling to me to watch this all unfold. DoJ either doesn't at all understand what it's arguing, or it understands and it's willfully using radically defective reasoning to push a preordained conclusion. Or, as is common in such cases, it's the time-tested combination of a little from column A and a little from column B. That combination would allow them plausible deniability against cognitive dissonance.
   DoJ is simply wrong about this. Perhaps there are good arguments for their position, but these are not them.

Mathematicians Bridge The Finite-Infinite Gap

Definitely worth a read.

Pinker et al. Oppose Harvard's Anti-Single-Sex Organization Initiative

   Again I say: I'm not wild about single-sex organizations...but, then, nobody's asking me to join one... Heck, girls just naturally stayed away from me without me even needing to join a club to keep 'em away! Guess I've just got a gift.
   What's needed here is opposition to the creeping soft-totalitarianism of the PC left. Later, after these jackasses have been beaten back--if they are--which is hardly a foregone conclusion, actually--we can discuss the pros and cons of such organizations. Currently, we should seek victories against illiberal leftist micromanaging of our lives and the lives of others.

Clinton, E-mails

Should POTUS Have Discussed Trump While Overseas?

Shrieking Illiberal Leftists Win Again: Christakises To Retire From Yale

One more small step down the left-hand path to perdition.

Obama at Hiroshima

The moral Kobayashi Maru.
What a godawful thing.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Donald Trump Is Not A Bully; Stop Calling Him One

   Donald Trump is a buffoon. Donald Trump is a moron. Donald Trump is a loudmouth, a bullshitter, an empty suit, a comb-over with nothing beneath it. He's an embarrassment to the country who has no right to be spoken of in the same breath as the office of the president. He's a goddamned piece of shit.
   But Donald Trump is not a bully.
   Or, at least, he hasn't bullied anyone that I've ever heard of. And currently he's not in a position to physically harm anyone, including any of his political opponents...and there's no reason to think that he would if he could.
   And, as for supporters, the vast majority of the violence thus far has been by anti-Trump protesters, not Trump supporters.
   Calling Trump a bully is inaccurate...but what concerns me is that it's making liberals look whiny and weak. And that's absolute death for liberals. Those are two of liberals' characteristic flaws. They're repulsive character flaws. And basically the worst thing liberalism can do is be those things. Because that will remind people what they hate about liberalism. Insults alone aren't bullying, and by erroneously characterizing them as such, liberals sound like they're so pusillanimous that a bit of rude language is all it takes to make them start whimpering.
   So...call him what he is. He's a rude, crude, idiotic clown with a big mouth. And he was born with a silver spoon in it to boot. But stop whinging about him being a "bully."

"Ecosexual" Students "Marry" The Pacific Ocean

Women Can Produce Godawful Clickbaity Pseudojournalism JUST As Well As Men

The Department of Justice Doesn't Know what Sex Is

Here's the most astonishing part:
An individual’s “sex” consists of multiple factors, which may not always be in alignment. Among those factors are hormones, external genitalia, internal reproductive organs, chromosomes, and gender identity, which is an individual’s internal sense of being male or female. [my emphasis]
[I should have quoted this too:
For individuals who have aspects of their sex that are not in alignment, the person’s gender identity is the primary factor in terms of establishing that person’s sex. External genitalia are, therefore, but one component of sex and not always determinative of a person’s sex.]
   This, of course, is not true in any way, shape or form. It is nowhere in the vicinity of the truth. Not to harp on this again, but: sex is a biological matter. Male and female are the sexes. (And there are a few intermediate--intersex--cases, as, again, is common with natural kinds.) Sex has nothing whatsoever to do with "gender identity."
   This is a move to an even more radical, confused position than we've seen from the administration recently. Before we were getting: (a) "gender identity" is more important than sex; now we're getting (b) "gender identity" is part of sex.
   It's appalling to see the DoJ rocketing forward to force a position onto the country...and beyond appalling to see it appeal to confused concepts produced by activists and the kind of activists pretending to be scholars that one finds in the average gender studies / women's studies department. Honestly...these are not experts. They do not understand the issues better than the average intelligent person. They are not scholars seeking to understand the truth, they are activists seeking to push politically-determined conclusions.
   Furthermore, the DoJ seems on the verge of suggesting that, since the sexes are composed of clusters of properties, hell, you can just throw whatever property you want in there.
   This is all facilitated by the strategic obfuscation that has been promoted by gender studies activist/scholars. 'Gender' was introduced by old-school feminists to be a very clear term to do a very important job: distinguish between biology and behavior. It was introduced in order to make a simple and important point: your biology need not match your behavior. The genders are masculine and feminine (and you could also count androgynous as a third gender if you want. Doesn't really matter.) So: males need not be masculine, and females need not be feminine. There's nothing defective about you if your gender fails to match your sex in the statistically normal way. That's an important point, even if it's familiar to us now.
   But this point has been lost--or intentionally obscured--in the pursuit of ever more outlandish, radical, and philosophically ambitious points about the alleged "social construction"* of gender. Currently the term 'gender' is used so indiscriminately that it's basically invoked to obfuscate rather than clarify. The term that was specifically introduced to identify a characteristic that contrasts with sex is now being used to constitute part of sex. (Of course 'identity' is now often tacked onto gender to add yet another layer of confusion...but I'm not going to sort that out too.)
   Look: the DoJ is 100% wrong here. It's not a little wrong, it's completely wrong. There may be a different way to push the case, but this way is not right. The crucial paragraph above, though consistent with the kind of nonsense currently fashionable on the left, is just plain wrong. In fact, it's even worse than I've made it out to be here, but I'm going running, and I'm tired of this bullshit. What we've got here are arguments that are so bad, and misunderstandings so profound, and legislative overreach so...so...overreachy...that there is simply no explanation other than this one: the relevant parts of the DoJ, like the relevant parts of DoE OCR, have made up their minds, and they are cobbling together shitty arguments composed of largely incoherent concepts to rationalize a position they are committed to on non-rational grounds.
   If the DoJ were pushing a right-wing policy on the basis of such patent philosophical confusions, philosophers would be crawling out of the woodwork to shriek about it. But that obviously isn't going to happen here.)
   Of course, you can be right for the wrong reasons...though I doubt that they're right in this case. And it'd be an accident if they were. But everyone should be outraged that these decisions are being made as they are, and these policies are being pushed on the basis of patently confused and fallacious reasons. 

* "Socially constructed" is itself a term that's so ambiguous, vague, and otherwise unclear that it's almost guaranteed to destroy any conversation it's introduced into...  So that's not helping.

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Leiter on Pogge and the Presumption of Innocence

   The problem of sexual harassment in academic philosophy is exaggerated. This isn't surprising given that there are a lot of feminists and identity politics types who are passionately obsessed with the usual passionate obsessions of those groups. They're very vocal, and operating in a strongly left-leaning environment that's structured to give them rhetorical and other tactical advantages. And they relentlessly push the various agendas that such folks push. They're passionate advocates of the hypothesis that professional philosophy is unusually--perhaps uniquely--hostile to women, and they often accept the same kinds of confused theories, persuasive definitions, and bad arguments that are popular with the PC left for advancing such positions. In fact, in true philosophical fashion, they've thought of all sorts of new confused theories, persuasive definitions, and bad arguments...
   None of that, of course, alters the fact that sexual harassment is a problem, and academia is no exception, and philosophy in particular is no exception. And it doesn't alter the fact that it's an extremely important problem--even though there's little evidence that it's worse in philosophy than anywhere else. So we've actually got two problems: a sexual harassment problem and an exaggeration-of-the-problem-of-sexual-harassment problem. So that makes it particularly difficult to get a clear picture of what the hell's going on...
   As I've said before, I've got irrefutable knowledge of one clear and unequivocal case of sexual harassment. In that case, the department in question worked hard to avert its eyes so that it didn't have to deal with it. It was never even swept under the rug because it simply wasn't acknowledged. (Despite three separate credible accusations coming to light at more-or-less the same time.) The guilty party even confessed to the most crucial fact in the case to an uninvolved graduate student while drunk. It was an open and shut case...but it was simply never opened. It was an absolutely unbelievable instance of injustice, and an absolute paradigm of the type of case that we worry about when we worry about academic sexual harassment.
   However, I've also seen clearly bogus accusations of sexual harassment, and been directly involved in one case in which a largely puerile snarkfest between feminist and non-feminist (actually: radical feminist and ordinary, liberal feminist) graduate students was dishonestly represented by the former as as "hostile environment sexual harassment." It was an intellectually and morally inexcusable accusation driven by politically-induced irrationality. It, too was a paradigm--but a paradigm of what we worry about when we worry about such policies being used illegitimately to suppress discussion and disagreement in an attempt to win battles of ideas by other means.
   So all this shit goes on in philosophy.
   And--insert my standard expression of derision for counterproductivity arguments here--among the many other reasons that the latter crap is bad: it makes it harder to fix the former problem.
   Anyway...oh yeah...Leiter on the Pogge case.
   Is there a moral analog of the presumption of innocence? Seems plausible. Maybe it's a special instance of something about the burden of proof. If we suppose there's a burden of disproof, then if you merely assert p I've got to either accept it or refute it. (Come to think of it...I'm not even sure you have to assert it...but let that pass...) But I could refute it simply asserting that I have evidence against it...but operating in accordance with the BoD rather than the BoP, you have the burden of showing that I don't have such evidence. And then you can pull the same trick against me, and so on and so on. Anyway, it doesn't make much sense to say that you should be considered guilty of anything I accuse you of...especially since you could then simply accuse me of being an inveterate liar, thus neutralizing my accusation. And so on. Of course a third alternative is the no presumption option...    Which I don't feel like thinking about right now...
   Anyway, Leiter is at least right about the following: it is insane to accept a presumption of guilt (for the limited domain of accusations of sexual harassment). And I'll add: (see all that stuff above) it is especially insane in an environment in which there is a subpopulation passionately dedicated to exaggerating the problem of sexual harassment, and committed to a theory according to which many instances of non-harassment are harassment.
   Leiter's also right, however, that in the Pogge case, there's a history of harassment and multiple credible accusations. Enough, one might reasonably claim, to overcome any presumption of innocence. (That is: presumptions are needed before the evidence is in. But some evidence is already in...) So there's no need to (roughly) alter the logic of accusations in order to get the right outcome in this case. And I'd add: part of the problem with the PC left is that they are way, way, way too eager to do that sort of thing--that is, argue that big, important, well-established principles and theories are false because they don't accord with some relatively minor specific conclusion they prefer. (That's the same kind of mistake that we find in the discussion of race, in which they enjoin us to accept arguments that presuppose the truth of full-blown nominalism (one of the most consequential (and disastrous) metaphysical theories known to humans) in order to get the desired result that races are not natural kinds.)
   So anyway that's my take off the top of my head and FWIW.
   The line currently being pushed by the vanguard of feminism, that all accusations of rape and other sexual harassment should be regarded as true, is nuts. In fact, if it weren't nuts, what they'd probably say is: all accusations of rape and other sexual harassment are true. But that's false. If it were true, then it'd make sense to regard all such accusations as true. But it doesn't, because they aren't. It especially doesn't make sense given the fact that contemporary extremist feminism has undoubtedly increased the percentage of false accusations, at least on campuses, by promulgating false definitions of rape and sexual harassment, and by advancing positions that encourage women to make false accusations.
   But none of that really matters much in the Pogge case, because the guy is a known scumbag, and there's enough evidence that we don't have to rely on mere presumptions.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Trump And The Anti-Trump Protesters Deserve Each Other

   Nauseating on all counts. At least the stupid adolescents have the excuse of being stupid adolescents... It's harder to find excuses on the other side.
   And HRC's got to get rid of that "bully pulpit" line...that's not gonna work. That's about a half-step up from we are out on the hustings...but that doesn't mean we should listen to the hot air gustings from Mr. Trump.! LOL amirite?

Violent Anti-Trump Protests in Albuquerque

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Gary Johnson at 10%?

If it's a foregone conclusion, I can absolutely see myself voting for a generic libertarian. Nobody'd be able to dismantle the welfare state in two terms, and a healthy shot of libertarianism would, I think, be good for the country.

Artist Films Herself Having Consensual Sex With Stranger. Pretends It's Rape. Pretends It's Art.

Whelp, this just about pegs the ol' bullshittometer...
   In amidst all the nonsense about patriarchy and whatnot, there is a decent point that gets hinted at, though. And that point is: emphasizing/insisting on the awfulness of rape doesn't necessarily help all rape survivors. I've been told by at least one such person that the constant mantra that rape is the most horrible thing possible prevented her from getting over it and getting on with her life. I think that point is worth thinking about, though I'm obviously in no position to evaluate its veracity.
   I don't see any reason to dwell on the obvious, but I find it pretty goddamn angrifying that someone would pretend that something like this was rape. That seems pretty damned disrespectful of actual rape survivors if you ask me... Though, again, I'm not the best person to make the judgment.
   As the revered J. Carthensis was saying to me the other day while we were collectively in a drunken stupor: if modern art were any good, they wouldn't have to explain it all the time.

Sam Wang: May-ish Presidential Polls The Most Inaccurate


Transgenderism Again; The Case of "Jake," And A Heart-Warming Story With A Bunch Of False Presuppositions

   So, stripped of the bad theory, delusion-mongering and cultural railroading, this would be a heart-warming story. I mean, look, let's put aside the political delusions for a second: Mr. Ralston's daughter did not become his son. (You could say that his daughter became his "son"--but there's all the difference in the world between being an x and being an "x.") Not a big deal, really...or it wouldn't be if it weren't, in effect, a bit of brainwashing. Keep saying this sort of thing over and over with a straight face, and eventually people will believe it I supposed.
   Look: Jake should live the life Jake wants to live. I'm happy that Jake's happy. (Though I'm skeptical that this sort of thing will bring happiness with the frequency that's being advertised by its enthusiasts.) None of that stuff is at issue, so far as I'm concerned.
   It is, however, too bad that this is yet another in the Post's popular new series Covertly Convince/Pressure Everyone To Accept The Postpostmodern Theory Of Transgenderism Without Thinking About It Much.
   Alright. I sincerely want to stop all this short of being a kook, so I'm just going to mention some points and then I'm out for now. Philosophy--inter alia--is supposed to fulfill a kind of hey, wait a minute...function. So I'm going to quickly fulfill my duty and then go do something productive.
   The most salient point here is the business about changing birth certificates.
   Look, make-believe has its costs. You can legally allow people to change their birth certificates in this way, of course. It's legal to add and subtract incorrectly, to think that the Earth is 6,000 years old, and to think that the Battle of Hastings was in 1055. Thank God or whatever that we don't try to ban such things. This is, of course, different, though. This is not just having a non-totalitarian state...this is the state intentionally falsifying official records on the basis of a bad and nutty theory pushed by activists and activist academicians. Jake is not male. If technology advances a lot in the next century-ish, Jake might possibly die male...but Jake was born female, and nothing can change the past. Here are our options:
(1)  We can maintain birth certificates as sincere efforts to record facts about births and, therefore, not allow people to change them because they wish those facts had been different.
(2)  We can allow people to change their birth certificates because they wish those facts had been different, and, therefore, not maintain birth certificates as documents constituting sincere efforts to record facts about births.
But it is impossible to do both (1) and (2).
(Those aren't formulated all that well, but I slept bad(ly?) and don't feel like fiddling with them.)
   By allowing Jake et al. to change their birth certificates, we're opting for (2), rather than (1). (This is similar, in a way, to the stuff about calling men women. Nothing much prevents us from doing so, since word-use is a matter of convention. However, such changes to usage necessarily change the meaning. Calling men women won't make men women--but doing so with great enough frequency will change the meaning of 'man', and it will come to mean (as we'd put it in actual current English): either a man or a woman who has undergone certain procedures to emulate maleness. Men can't become women by decree, and they can't do so with current technology. The attempt to force it to be so by fiat is doomed to fail, as the tension is just released somewhere else. The meaning of the words are changed, or the status and purpose of birth certificates changes. There's nothing that can be done to change this fact. Logical pressure must be relieved somehow.)
   One of the many weird things about all this is that logic and facts make it all into kabuki. Jake wants not just to look and act in certain ways, but wants others to think of her as male. That's ok too, so long as there's no substantial dishonesty involved--for example, Jake's going to have to fess up to any clueless sex partners before things get intimate. But everyone involved has to realize that erasing 'F' and writing in 'M' on the certificate changes nothing substantial about the world. Jake was born female and, even if technology might end up allowing Jake to die male, Jake will die having been born female.
   There's a bad theory of gender, and bad theory of sex, and bad theory of the relation between the two, and bad theory of how to make people feel comfortable in their skin, and a lot of other bad theories, too, running around in there. But worst of all, from a philosophical perspective, is that there is a strong link between all these bad theories and a more general, even worse, much more general theory that the facts are whatever we deem them to be. That's a disastrously shitty metaphysics, and it's the metaphysics that floats in the background of all this.
   Again, just focus on the obvious options. Either but not both of these could be true:
(A) We aren't talking about facts here at all. It's just very elaborate, state-sponsored play-acting.
(B) Thinking/saying that things are so makes them so
(A) is bad. (B) is false (which is worse). So which is it? Do we think we're making Jake a male at birth by erasing 'F' and writing 'M'? Or do we think this is all just for show, and for Jake's peace of mind? (There are a few other confusions we might have instead, but I'm tired of typing.)
   Me believing that I was born female doesn't make it so. The state asserting that I was born female doesn't make it so. So the only real option here is (A). And that's...well...not a great thing for the state to be engaged in. Is there any other domain in which we officially and intentionally declare falsehoods to be true in order to make individuals feel better? (Maybe annulment of marriage? Is that supposed to mean the marriage never actually happened? I'm not sure.)
   Jake's feelings aren't relevant to the question What sex was baby b when b was born? Not for any value of b; not even for b=Jake. Feelings do not affect sex, a purely physical/biological characteristic.
   Then there are the higher-level issues: the fact that none of this is being discussed, the fact that discussion has been declared verboten by the powers that be, the fact that the Post runs poignant story after poignant story with the goal of advancing a certain cultural/political view on this matter...  Those are more worrisome things to me, actually.
   Even though, yeah, I did find Jake's story poignant when I focused on just the emotional part of it.
   Ok, that's it. I'm probably wrong about some of this stuff--but I'm pretty sure I'm not wrong about all of it.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Venn Diagrams Are Hard

Trump Didn't "Call Mexicans Rapists": Simon Moya-Smith Edition

   He also did not "call Mexicans...anchor babies."
   Asserting that some people from Mexico enter the country illegally in order to have "anchor babies" is completely different from "calling Mexicans anchor babies." This is a junior-high-level distinction. There's no excuse for this kind of dishonesty and/or crap writing.
   This bullshit just has to stop. Racism is bad. Ergo false accusations of racism are bad. Trump's a jackass...but the truth matters even when criticizing jackasses. The assertion that many illegal immigrants from Mexico are rapists seems, incidentally, to be false. So what Trump said was apparently false. But he didn't say--and he didn't come close to saying--that Mexicans are rapists.
   It's as if the left simply can't help itself anymore...flinging false accusations of racism has just become second nature. I continue to think that the closer one gets to the center, the lest of a problem this is... But even relatively centrist liberals seem to tolerate it from their more extremist fellows.

The National Organization for Women Is Still Defending Rolling Stone's Rape Hoaxer "Jackie"

   I think that Young is stretching with most of the other examples here. Some of them are old, the police have to remain circumspect, etc...  But there's no excuse for NOW continuing to pretend that "Jackie" isn't lying. And giving an award to Emma Sulkowicz (aka mattress girl)???  Appalling. It would be better if more feminists came out and unequivocally disavowed at least "Jackie"... But extremism means never having to admit you were wrong, and the contemporary vanguard of feminism is nothing if not extreme. They mostly seem to have dropped the case and moved on...not optimal, and indicative of how irrational the feminist vanguard has become...but not really surprising to anyone who's been paying attention.
   It's kinda too bad what happened to feminism, but at least it accomplished most of the important things before it went over the edge--and the average feminist in the street is probably still pretty reasonable.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Black Feminist Calculus

NYT: "Transgender Americans" See Their Personal Battle Become A National Showdown

   This is all really bad IMO.
   Standard disclaimer: it's impossible to be taken seriously the the cultural powers that be without anteing up with your liberal credentials... So: I'm mostly a liberal. I also think that the public restroom question raises genuine questions. My mind isn't make up about the practical question of public restroom sex-segregation...but I'm inclined to be against a precipitous change in public policy on this score (in either direction).
   I've just been reading Gallileo's Middle Finger, in which Alice Dreger--a historian and philosopher of science and activist for the intersexed--recounts the campaign of personal destruction led by transgender activists against a psychologist who formulated a theory they didn't like. The author describes the tactics she herself used as an activist for intersex causes, and the transgender activists used against Bailey. Bits of the NYT story hint at similar tactics, especially this part:
   The sweeping directive to public schools seemed to come out of nowhere. In fact, it was the product of years of study inside the government and a highly orchestrated campaign by advocates for gay and transgender people. Mindful of the role “Whites Only’’ bathrooms played in the civil rights battles of more than half a century ago, they have been maneuvering behind the scenes to press federal agencies, and ultimately Mr. Obama, to address a question that has roiled many school districts: Should those with differing anatomies share the same bathrooms?
   The lobbying came to a head, according to people who were involved, in a hastily called April 1 meeting between top White House officials — led by Valerie Jarrett, Mr. Obama’s senior adviser and one of his closest confidantes — and national leaders of the gay and transgender rights movement. North Carolina had just become the first state to explicitly bar transgender people from using the bathrooms of their choice.
   “Transgender students are under attack in this country,” said Chad Griffin, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, a Washington-based advocacy group that is active on the issue, summing up the message he sought to convey to Ms. Jarrett that day. “They need their federal government to stand up for them.”
Ms. Jarrett and her team, he said, listened politely, but “did not reveal much,” including the fact that a legal directive on transgender rights that had been in the works for months was about to be released.
   When — or precisely how — Mr. Obama personally weighed in is not clear; the White House would not provide specifics. But two days before that meeting, scores of advocacy groups sent Mr. Obama a private letter, appealing to his sense of history as he nears the end of his presidency, in which he has already advanced gay and transgender rights on multiple fronts.
   The picture here is one of prolonged behind-the-scenes maneuvering by one side in the dispute, and then an apparently sudden decision by the government. The idea wasn't floated ahead of time for public discussion, no time was allowed for national deliberation. Hell, even I wasn't aware that this issue was being pushed seriously by anyone until about two years ago.
   These are similar to the non-rational rhetorical tactics described by Dreger: blanket the internet with the arguments for your own position, push your arguments to liberal/sympathetic journalists, set the terms of the debate, etc. In this case, pushing "gender identity" and "social construction" as pivotal concepts has been crucial. And, as Dreger notes, relentlessly pushing the (questionable, ideologically-motivated) theory that the transgenderism is a matter of "males being trapped in female bodies" (or vice-versa), as opposed to Bailey's theory that a large percentage of men who categorize themselves as transgendered ("trans women") are actually motivated by a sexual fetish for thinking of themselves with female bodies. Incidentally, Dreger's points about tactics predict that Wikipedia would be a prime place to push the transgender activists' preferred theory--and it is. I can't find a single mention of Bailey in the article--which reads like something written by an activist, not a dispassionate observer/encyclopedist.
   This is all bad, bad, bad. There are reasonably important questions here, and we're being pushed toward a pre-ordained conclusion advocated by a small group of activists and others. We're being asked to overturn a long-standing and reasonable aspect of the culture without discussion, with the politically correct preference of the far left being imposed from on high. Perhaps they're pushing the right solution...but I certainly wouldn't bet any money on that. And even if the policy proposals--or, rather, diktats--accidentally happen to be right, this way of creating and implementing policy is contrary to fundamental principles of liberal democracy. Merely declaring the existence of obscure and implausible new rights does not change that.

(And a big fat facepalm at the phrase "transgender Americans")

Lots Of 5-4 Decisions By SCOTUS Are A Problem, In Part Because Ideologically-Motivated Decisions Are A Problem

   Here's a related something at the Atlantic.
   5-4 decisions are a problem because they are evidence that the answer to the relevant legal question is not clear. Consistently ruling on questions without clear answers would be bad by itself...but the justices tend to line up according to liberal/conservative preferences/presuppositions about the conclusion. And that is evidence that it is political orientation rather than legal reasoning that is driving the decisions.
   And that seems to mean that the branch of government that is supposed to be most isolated from and immune to mere majority preference is, in fact, largely just another expression of majority preference...if, (perhaps!) a slightly less direct one.
   On the face of it, this should concern everyone a lot...shouldn't it?
   And this should be an avoidable problem. It's very difficult to believe that over and over again an honest, rational, legal evaluation of the legal arguments somehow leads to four justices on each side consistently ruling in accordance with their personal political orientations. This sort of thing should be avoidable in part were justices to just abstain when they think that there's no clear legal conclusion to be drawn. Or is there some official "not clear" ruling? If the answer isn't clear, shouldn't that mean that the...what...complainant? Prosecution? Anyway...whoever has the burden of proof has failed to carry it?
   Anyway...all this is worrying me a lot.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Postpostmodern Pseudoscholarship: Spa Studies Edition

The utterest horseshit:
This study outlines the self-positioning of skin and spa therapy students. More specifically, it focuses how they position themselves as professionals in terms of knowledge, and how gender is at play throughout this process. Drawing on a poststructural approach, inspired by Foucault and feminist theory, regularities of description and self-description were analysed. This approach provides analytical tools for analysing how people engage with discourse in this micro-context of education and training, and feminist theory enables an understanding of how gender relations of power emerge. The material consists of interview transcripts derived from interviews with 20 skin and spa therapy students. The study shows how a scientific and caring professional emerges, producing gender relations as effects of power. Furthermore, a caring discourse is ultimately mobilised and a stereotyped image of the beauty industry is shown to govern students’ self-positioning, reproducing norms of gender and consumption.
   This sort of nonsense has metastasized way, way beyond its original home in literary theory. Of course lots of stuff sounds like bullshit but isn't...but this sort of thing sounds like bullshit and is. It's popular because you can write or say pretty much whatever you want, it has the trappings of intellectual and scholarly sophistication, and by using the right words and dropping the right names, you broadcast to readers, publishers and tenure committees that you're on the right side of things, politically and culturally.
   It's actually not going to surprise me a lot if spa studies departments start popping up. Can't be a lot worse than crap we've already got... Could start off as an "intersectional" area straddling hotel/restaurant management and gender studies...

Trump at the NRA (And: What Up With HRC on Guns?)

   Watched some of it...but had to turn it off.
   Trumpo is a dangerous moron. He emits chaotic stream-of-consciousness nonsense about half the time. This guy just can't come anywhere near the goddamn presidency of the United States.
   Jebus, he didn't even have any idea what he was talking about. Had a liberal said some of the stuff he was saying up there, the NRA folk would still be shrieking about it ten years from now.
   As for Hillary magically abolishing the Second Amendment...well...every four years, the NRA somehow manages to convince its members that if the Dems win, the UN is going to be invited in to the country to go house to house shooting our dogs and taking our guns.
   The NRA is a weird, delusional place.
   Um...that having been said, however...HRC's alleged opposition to DC v. Heller is probably pretty damn close to a desire to eviscerate the Second Amendment, and HRC needs to drop that nonsense right now. Perhaps she just opposes the ruling with respect to federal enclaves...I'm really not sure. But to deny that the Second Amendment protects the rights of individuals to be armed (as four liberal justices did, to the shame of liberalism...) is more-or-less tantamount to opposing the Second Amendment itself.
   This is a case in which we've got an unqualified moron spouting random sentences on one side...and a reasonable, experienced candidate speaking mostly sensibly on the other...and yet the latter is on a trajectory that could end in much greater harm to the country than the former. HRC is smart and sensible...and yet some of the things she is saying would, on some reasonable interpretations, be likely to destroy one of the fundamental ideas on which the country is built.
   Sometimes HRC seems to just want additional, reasonable restrictions on firearms. Other times, as when she has spoken against Heller, and when she has spoken favorably about the Australian gun buy-back, she sounds very dangerous indeed.
   That doesn't mean Trump is better, of course. Just because ten percent of the random sentences he emits are better than the most unreasonable five percent of the things HRC says doesn't mean he's the less-dangerous candidate... I'm just saying that it's understandable that someone might think that, on this issue, the worst thing Trumpo might do is less-bad than the worst thing HRC might do.

"High-Impact Philosophy"


Sometimes, you don't even know where to begin.
So I'm just not going to

Friday, May 20, 2016

I Hold It To Be The Inalienable Right Of Anybody To Go To Hell In His Own Way

-- Robert Frost

Camille Paglia On The NYT On Trump's Girlfriends

Well, Paglia is...Paglia...so there's some pretty incoherent stuff in here...but I think she's also making similar points to those I made. She does it with more verve and pizzazz, and even more real insight I think...but I do think we're in the same ballpark. She writes:
 The drums had been beating for weeks about a major New York Times expose in the works that would demolish Trump once and for all by revealing his sordid lifetime of misogyny. When it finally appeared as a splashy front-page story this past Sunday (originally titled “Crossing the Line: Trump’s Private Conduct with Women”)...[annoying self-aggrandizement by Paglia redacted]. On Monday, after seeing countless exultant references to this virtuoso takedown, I finally read the article—and laughed out loud throughout. Can there be any finer demonstration of the insularity and mediocrity of today’s Manhattan prestige media? Wow, millionaire workaholic Donald Trump chased young, beautiful, willing women and liked to boast about it. Jail him now! Meanwhile, the New York Times remains mute about Bill Clinton’s long record of crude groping and grosser assaults—not one example of which could be found to taint Trump. 
Blame for this fiasco falls squarely upon the New York Times editors who delegated to two far too young journalists, Michael Barbaro and Megan Twohey, the complex task of probing the glitzy, exhibitionistic world of late-twentieth-century beauty pageants, gambling casinos, strip clubs, and luxury resorts. Neither Barbaro, a 2002 graduate of Yale, nor Twohey, a 1998 graduate of Georgetown University, had any frame of reference for sexual analysis aside from the rote political correctness that has saturated elite American campuses for nearly 40 years. Their prim, priggish formulations in this awkwardly disconnected article demonstrate the embarrassing lack of sophistication that passes for theoretical expertise among their over-paid and under-educated professors.
 When I saw the reporters’ defensive interview on Monday with CNN anchors Kate Bolduan and John Berman, I felt sorry for the earnest, owlish Barbaro, who seems like a nice fellow who has simply wandered out of his depth. But Twohey, with her snippy, bright and shiny careerism, took a page from the slippery Hillary playbook in the way she blatheringly evaded any direct answer to a pointed question about how Rowanne Brewer Lane’s pleasantly flirtatious first meeting with Trump at a crowded 1990 pool party at Mar-a-Lago ended up being called “a debasing face-to-face encounter” in the Times. The hidden agenda of advocacy journalism has rarely been caught so red-handed.
I didn't have anything to say about the reporters themselves, of course, and don't have any opinion on Paglia's conclusions about them.

Rolling Stone UVa Gang Rape Hoax Is Hoax

   In case anyone anywhere still has any doubts about that.
   But nobody does...right?
   Shakesville still does...  In fact, at one point, they declared that no matter what your reasons, if you doubted "Jackie" you were a misogynistic, rape-apologistic, rapey, rapey, rapist.
   Even Amanda Marcotte eventually, grudgingly gestured at a recognition that it was all lies, didn't she? Or am I misremembering?
   Lots of people got mad at me for pointing out early on that Jackie's story was false. So I'm just going to take another victory lap and point out one more time that I was right and they were wrong. In fact, the lesson of all of this is that rape crisis hysteria is a huge problem on campuses and in many sectors of the internet. Which is, for the love of God, in no way to deny that rape itself is also an enormous problem. It's not to mention rape nor say anything about it at all.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

OK Legislature Passes Bill Making It A Felony To Perform An Abortion

Well...what now?
Freedom's not exactly on the rise these days...

9 in 10 American Indians Not Offended by 'Redskins'

Which of the following do you think will happen?:
(a) The liberalish folk who have been pushing this issue admit they were wrong, drop the issue, and move on
(b) The liberalish folk who have been pushing this issue conclude/insist that they are better judges of what's offensive to American Indians than American Indians are, and continue to whine about it?
Wonder which it'll be?

Volokh On NYC Pronoun Totalitarianism

He's right.
   I was just complaining about this recently.
   There's more I meant to say, but I don't think I ever got around to it. It's along the same lines as what Volokh is saying. Using feminine pronouns to refer to x presupposes that x is female. Thus forcing you to use feminine pronouns to refer to x is tantamount to demanding that you say that x is female, thus demanding (in some cases) that you say something false, and something you don't believe. It's also to demand that you indirectly affirm certain theories of sex and gender, and it's damn close to demanding that you accept an antirealist/constructionist metaphysics...
   In my book, honestly, this is no better than a law demanding that people make certain religious affirmations.

TX Board of Education Accidentally Bans Children's Book _Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?_

Oh man...  The TX Education Board is something that I'd almost managed to purge from my memory banks. Like I need one more thing to be pissed off about.
Apparently they mistakenly thought the author was a commie.

Rasmussen: Trump 42%-Clinton 37%

It's Rasmussen...but it's still worrisome...

Politifact: Sanders Campaign's Accusations of Shenanigans In Nevada

Politifact concludes the accusations are false.
I've barely been following it all, but if their summary is accurate, then their conclusion seems right.

Open Letter on Free Speech, Sexual Harassment, and DoE OCR's Misuse of Title IX

   OCR is out of control and is using the power of the government to impose extremely implausible, illiberal, far-left theories on universities and primary and secondary schools.
   I'm happy to have a public conversation about, say, the appropriate burden of proof in sexual harassment cases, transgenderism and public restrooms, and all the rest. But I'm extremely concerned--more than extremely concerned--that government bureaucrats can so easily decree PC policies the law of the land. And with no public discussion...and without the consent of the governed. If the system of sex-segregated restrooms and locker rooms is permissible at all, then demanding that everyone abide by the system is permissible. You cannot simply gesture at a half-baked, highly-theoretical concept formulated in the depths of the women's studies department ("gender identity") and declare that there's suddenly a right for men to use the women's bathroom so long as they "identify as" (i.e. declare themselves) women.
   Look, let's have the discussion. I'm not exactly the world's biggest fan of enforced heterosociality... But the way all this is going down should be of great concern to everyone.
   This is, I'm afraid, another case of liberals being so open-minded their brains have fallen out.

The Literally Hitler Chronicles: Kagan on Trump Edition

Yeah, still not buying the Trump = Hitler thing.
It's not enough that he's an unqualified buffoon who, by even being mentioned as a possible candidate for president, denigrates the office?
We gotta go the full Godwin, do we?

"Body Culture Studies"

In case the plague of academic pseudoscholarship hasn't quite been bullshitty enough for you up to this point.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

RCP: 1996: Bill Clinton Talking Like Donald Trump About (Illegal) Immigration

"We are a nation of laws"
   There are legitimate criticisms of Trump's assertions about immigration. For example, it's obviously nuts to suggest a ban of any kind on people because of their religion. Even if Trump were qualified otherwise, IMO that assertion comes pretty close to disqualifying him.
   OTOH, there are lots of illegitimate criticisms of Trump on the topic. For example, he did not say that "Mexicans are rapists," contrary to what many have said. For another, he is not "anti-immigration." Almost no conservatives are anti-immigration, but they are described thusly more commonly than they are described accurately, i.e. as anti-illegal-immigration. There is all the difference in the world between those two things. The fact that "anti-immigration" is the formulation that's most common seems to indicate either that those using the term can't understand the simple distinction, or they're intentionally being dishonest.
   At any rate, here's the video.
   Clinton is being reasonable, and Trump has said many similar things. So...same, right?
   I take it that this is supposed to constitute a consistency ad hominem against Democrats.
   But it doesn't work.
   Only the extremely uninformed or dogmatic think that Trump hasn't said anything reasonable about immigration. The problem is that he's said at least one entirely unreasonable thing about it as well.
   Some sectors of the left have moved fairly far from Clinton's '96 position. The PC left basically wants open borders (which would likely constitute the end of the U.S. as a viable political entity), and many liberals aren't all that far from the same position. After all, "sanctuary cities" are basically predicated on the idea that it is wrong to enforce immigration laws.
   Anyway, though Trump's Muslim comment was crazy, in general, conservatives are saner than the PC left. As a wise web pundit who shall remain nameless once said to me: there is no alternative to the humane enforcement of just immigration laws.
   A lot of anti-Trump sentiment also seems to have been generated by his advocacy of a border fence. Early liberal opposition to a fence often cited an objection to the "imagery," and made reference to the Berlin Wall. That's a really stupid argument. The Berlin Wall was/is a symbol of oppression because East Germany built it to keep its own citizens from leaving, not to keep non-citizens out. I'm in favor of a fence if it's sufficiently cost-effective and doesn't interfere with important wildlife migration patterns. If someone is dim enough to think it recalls the Berlin Wall, that's their problem, not ours. If you see that the symbolism argument is dopey, and you recognize that we have to have immigration laws, and you think that a fence would be cost-effective, I don't see how you can be against it... And if you recognize all those things and still think we need more immigration from south of the border, I'd suggest that you lobby for increased legal immigration. That'd be perfectly reasonable. As I always add: I'd like to see us get serious about the population problem some day. It'd be better if that happened sooner, but it needn't happen immediately. (Of course all concern about overpopulation has itself been decreed racist...but I'm done shredding dumb points for one night.)

Just Avoid The Dumbest / Most Obvious Mistakes

If we could just do that we'd be so much better off

The Next (Transgender) Frontier: Changing Birth Certificates

   While I was reading the article, the title was changed from the title I use for this post to "How Easy Is It To Change Your Birth Certificate?"*
   I don't want to sound like a kook,** but this stuff just keeps getting crazier and crazier. We're already being told that we must accept that obvious falsehoods are true (e.g. Caitlyn Jenner is a woman). And we're being told that to deny or even question or even discuss this in any way is "transphobia". Now we're being told something very much like: the past can be changed. If Smith is born male, but decides in adulthood (or childhood?) that he prefers to be thought of (by himself and others) as female, we are now being told that Smith should be able to change public records about his birth. In fact, the European Court of Human Rights has decreed that to deny this is a violation of a person's human rights. Honestly, we've really stepped through the looking-glass at this point. Even if we were to allow such changes, it's utter lunacy to pretend that this is some kind of human right. (Funny how human rights tend to proliferate in accordance with leftist demands, eh? My God, I'm starting to sound like my conservative friends... Could it be that they've been right all along??? The horror...the horror...)
   Of course we currently don't have the technology to change someone's sex. And changing the past is, so far as we can tell, entirely impossible. So this inconsistency has to be resolved in some other way. The demand that birth records be both (i) accurate and (ii) changeable at will is incoherent. This is, in effect, a demand that we cease to keep birth records, and replace them instead with statements of the relevant individuals' beliefs/preferences about his or her characteristics. If the Ministry of Truth tells us that the past has to be mutable with respect to sex, then it would be inconsistent to deny its malleability with respect to all other properties at birth--race, parentage, weight, length, place of birth, and whatever else is recorded.
   One of the culprits here is the term 'gender,' which is used in so many different ways by feminists and gender studies types that it can be used in almost any way they like depending on the context. Since 'gender' is often used as a synonym for 'sex,' they can pretend that what's being changed is gender. Add to this that gender is some super-internal matter of private declaration...and voila! sex is a super-internal matter of private declaration.
   American liberalism is going down a very, very bad road. It's being led into utter incoherence by the illiberal left, and by liberalism's own transformation from a reality-based view that sought to maximize freedom to a feelings-based progressivism that nearly trips over itself to defend and agree with the anti-liberal and anti-reality postpostmodern left. This newest insanity about birth certificates is not exactly the view that we can change the past via feelings...but it's not exactly not that view, either...
   I expect that it will not be possible to talk sense to liberals about this. The cultural left is, I guess, too powerful, and the vanguard of the culture is too influential to turn this all back. The trick is to push these things through while the culture is still off-balance and cowed into silence. But an incoherent metaphysics is strongly implicated in all this. Best-case scenario: that incoherent metaphysics is incoherently contained in this realm. We make up some bullshit story about how sex (oh...sorry!...gender...) is different than everything else. We carve out an unprincipled exception for sex and contain the madness. Worst-case scenario: we are more consistent, and "opinion-makers" start pushing to expand the incoherent metaphysics beyond the realm of sex. We push for consistency by concluding that every feature of every person and every thing is open to change by fiat... More likely than either of those two options is the third option: the left continues to push for a constructionist metaphysics wherever the facts are inconvenient for them. The wacky quasi-metaphysical claims are invoked only on an ad hoc basis, as needed, and only where things can be obfuscated enough to make that crazy view seem plausible. And that will usually mean: with respect to people's declarations about themselves.
   Some day I expect that the scales will fall from people's eyes, and they will look back on all this as we look back on the Satanic Panic, or the Astrology craze... But I'm not sure I'd put much money on that.

* Why the change? Could it be because the original title is...well...a bit too honest about the expansionist goals of this movement?
** Too late...

Bloomberg and Koch: Why Free Speech Matters On Campus

Nothing new here, but they're right, of course.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Dumbest Article You Will Ever Read: Christin Scarlett Milloy, "Don't Let The Doctor Do This To Your Newborn"

   Right. Well, it doesn't make any sense to argue with thermonuclear asshattery like that.
   But...that's never stopped me before...
   Here's the short version:
   The URL of the piece is somewhat instructive, and constitutes a more accurate title. The relevant bits:
   But: there is no such thing at "gender assignment."
   Doctors, at the birth of a baby, do not "assign" things. And they for damn sure don't assign gender. The genders are masculine and feminine (and maybe androgynous). Those are behavioral categories. They are not assigned. They are descriptions of behaviors. And behaviors that babies don't exhibit. Doctors don't "assign" sex, either. They discover/discern and describe the baby's sex. "Gender assignment" is a fictional phenomenon. Like most of the obsessions of the PC left, it's just made up. It doesn't exist.
   Thing is, there's a much less crazy route to a sane position that's been with us for a long time. Your sex is a biological fact about you. Gender tends to match up with sex in the familiar ways: male: masculine; female: feminine. If it doesn't--if you're a feminine boy or man, or a masculine girl or woman, there's nothing wrong with that.
   See how easy that was?
   There's no need for PC fantasies about gender "assignment"...or sex "assignment" either. There's no need for fables about how Caitlyn Jenner is "really" a woman, nor theories of transgenderism, nor any of that stuff. All those things are confused complications of what's actually a fairly simple set of insights about, well, being yourself. It was apparently revolutionary back in the day--the late '60's or early '70's or whenever. I suppose it's revolutionary again, given the wacky instant orthodoxy about transgenderism that's being pushed on us all now. My hypothesis is that this is mostly a result of the fact that many feminist academicians aren't satisfied with the fact that the insights and intellectual task of feminism were/was fairly simple and straightforward. In a nutshell, women and men are moral equals, and people have historically been oppressed on the basis of their being female. This is, perhaps, what feminists have in mind when they insist that feminism is (just) the radical idea that women are people.  Thing is, of course, that's not all feminism is. Feminism has its old-school, simple, undeniable, egalitarian aspect--the one that I just described. Feminism also has it's post-post-modern, expansionist/imperialist, "totalizing," totally crazy aspect. That's the one that's popular in academia and on the web. According to that version of feminism, feminism is first philosophy. It is the root of all thought, and it permeates everything. It is the foundational discipline, and the key to all mythologies. It's that version of feminism that isn't interested in solid, straightforward, clear, liberal insights like your sex need not determine your gender. New feminism has become mixed in with the worst pseudophilosophy and crackpot social science and literary theory of the last fifty years. It's committed to the craziest of all principles, that saying so makes things so. It is perhaps the most intellectually bankrupt force on the contemporary intellectual scene.
   And it's largely responsible for the bullshit in that article linked to above.

Donald Trump: The Opposite Of Stupid

   If you find yourself in a position to assert "I'm not stupid," things haven't gone well for you...
   And "...just the opposite."...well...that's the approximate rhetorical equivalent of "I'm rubber and you're glue."

If You Don't Unquestioningly Accept The Leftist Insta-Orthodoxy Re: Transgenderism, You're A Bigot, Jack

  This attitude is everywhere on the left, but here's Brian Leiter expressing it.
   Leiter's wrong a lot, but he's been mostly right about the PC takeover of philosophy (what he calls "the new infantilism"), and he's been treated very unfairly as a result. He himself is apparently rather a jackass--but, again (as illustrated by the Trump case) even jackasses can be treated unfairly.
   Thinking that transgendered individuals should abide by the same sex-segregation rules as everyone else is not overtly bigoted. It's the most natural and consistent application of a handy and popular (though theoretically somewhat difficult-to-justify) policy of sex-segregation.
   There are somewhat interesting and somewhat difficult discussions to be had about the topic, and I'm not sure how the question should be decided. Nobody ought to be sure about that at this point...because we haven't had an intelligent, open discussion about it. This is part of the left's strategy: make sure the theories/policies are not discussed. They're implemented by fiat, and all dissent--and even all questioning--is deemed bigotry. Thus the well is immediately poisoned against any possible opposition. Even if you support the specific lefty policies in question, you should be opposed to this strategy of squelching public discussions and implementing them via fiat and a strategy of pseudo-moral "shaming."
   Well, I've gone on and on about this before. The theoretical proposition that (for example) Caitlyn (nee Bruce) Jenner is a woman is indefensible. The practical question about restroom use is more complicated, IMO, and, again, I don't know the answer. I do know that dissenting from the Instant Orthodoxy isn't necessarily and obviously bigotry, however. It's also pretty clear that Title IX is being radically misused to implement lefty policies in schools and universities. DoE OCR has become an organ for implementing leftist dogma, and something desperately needs to be done about it.

The (Liberal?) Media Is Often Unfair To Trump: NYT Girlfriends Edition

   Right, so among the many ways in which liberalism is going crazy is this one: you've got to ante up with your liberal bona fides to get them to listen. Normally, I refuse. But I'll make an exception this time: yes, I loathe Trump. Yes, he deserves most of the derision being heaped upon him. Yes, it's a terrifying embarrassment that he might get anywhere near the Presidency...
   Also, he's being treated unfairly. Even jackasses, you know, can be treated badly.
   Here's just one hot-off-the-press example...one in which the perpetrator was actually busted: the NYT's story on Trump's former girlfriends. (Link to the Politico story.) [Oh and: the NYT story is titled: "Crossing the Line: How Dona'd Trump Behaved With Women In Private."]
   OMG the left-puritan gnashing of teeth over this on CNN last night! Objectification!!! (Another nonsense pseudo-concept cooked up in women's/gender studies alongside the even less coherent "gender identity"...) What utter nonsense. Brewer Lane herself says that the experience was positive and in no way negative, that Trump was respectful, and that they went on to have a relationship.
   Watching lefties--not lunatic PC far lefties, either...just the ordinary liberal type--sputtering angrily and inarticulately about this outrage was surreal.
   Trump's sin? He seems to have offered Brewer Lane a swimsuit relatively soon after meeting her, and after the two had hit it off. It was, FYI, a pool party. Brewer Lane had come from work and didn't have one with her. (Her job? Model. You can't make that up...) According to the NYT, this was "degrading." The image they try to instill in the reader is one of Trump parading Brewer Lane around in a disrespectful manner. This is not what happened according to Brewer Lane.
"Actually, [reading the story] was very upsetting. I was not happy to read it at all," Brewer Lane said. "Well, because The New York Times told us several times that they would make sure that my story that I was telling came across. They promised several times that they would do it accurately. They told me several times and my manager several times that it would not be a hit piece and that my story would come across the way that I was telling it and honestly, and it absolutely was not."
Asked what the reporters got wrong, Brewer Lane said they took her quotes and "put a negative connotation on it." 
"They spun it to where it appeared negative. I did not have a negative experience with Donald Trump, and I don't appreciate them making it look like that I was saying that it was a negative experience because it was not," Brewer Lane said.
   So the sputtering CNN types...mostly liberals...didn't seem to be puritans. I'm sure that if the topic were homosexuality or transexuality, or some other protected type of sex, they'd not have said a word. But in the face of a bit of slightly edgy flirtation between Trump and Brewer Lane, they lost their minds. How these people manage to get laid I'll never know. As lurid and tawdry as so much of mass culture has become, there's still this crazy puritanism mixed in with it...it's like the worse of both worlds.
   Look: Brewer Lane was a model. She was a swimsuit model. She was at a pool party for models. You can find pix of her on the web if you want. So here's a woman--she is very attractive; she has a very nice body; she is probably understandably proud of these things... She makes her living with her attractiveness. No one complains about this--no on should. She meets Trump, they hit it off, he gives her an opportunity to strut her stuff and she is happy to comply. There's little chance that either party was unaware that this was a slightly edgy bit of flirtation. Two consenting adults... A guy relying--to some extent--on his accomplishments to catch the attention of a girl; a girl relying--to some extent--on her looks to catch the attention of a guy...ZOMG STOP THE PRESSES!!!!!!111 Objectification! Misogyny! Dogs and cats, living together...  Mass hysteria!  
   Note for the left-puritans out there: they went on to have a relationship! Whew! Thank GOD! It wasn't just sex...because...because...what? I DON'T EVEN KNOW!!!! CAN YOU EVEN DO THAT?
   It's like these morons absorb every little bit of insane programming you throw their way...but they're completely incapable of figuring out even minor things on their own. Boys going through the head-spinning insanity of puberty think they might be girls? They're girls then! So it has been decreed, so the talking heads have dutifully accepted. No one who actually thinks about it for two seconds can dodge the cognitive dissonance...but since actually thinking about such decrees is verboten, nobody does. Two adults engaging in exactly the kind of consensual courtship that humans have engaged in ever since we've been genuinely human? Totally fucking evil, jack.
   And now for the obligatory, ritualized anti-Trump quasi-conclusion to bookend the anti-Trump opening. Yes, I throw myself on the carpet and profess my deep and passionate aversion to Trumpo the Clown! I do, I do!... I'll grant that some of the talking heads did manage to make a good point: Trump has said disrespectful things about women in public--e.g. the Megan Kelly menstruation comment. The jackass. The story about Brewer Lane, for example, adds nothing to that. It can be spun in a sinister direction by someone sufficiently dedicated to the task, or by someone who isn't familiar with actual human flirtation and sexual attraction, or by someone sufficiently imbued with gender feminist nonsense... (Come to think of it, those classes of people overlap a good bit...). But really, there's nothing in that bit of the story to trouble sane people. 
   Perhaps the  NYT writers might defend themselves by saying: we already know what kind of person Trump is from his public statements; thus we're warranted in interpreting accounts of his private actions in light of them. Meh. That's not a weightless response, but it's not a terribly strong one, either. 
   In case liberals don't care about the truth--and fewer and fewer of them seem to--then maybe they'll at least be interested in the relevant counterproductivity argument: there's plenty of legitimate ammunition against Trump. But if somehow that's not enough for you and you keep insisting on making shit up, you're going to generate sympathy for the guy. JQ...extremely intelligent and well-educated, a woman, a careful observer of the political scene and--despite my repeated disapproval--a feminist (but a sane, egalitarian one, not a crazy one (so really my "disapproval" is tongue-in-cheek, for the record))...well, she's the one that initially pointed out the media's unfairness to Trump to me. She started as anti-Trump as you can get, and now she's developed a kind of grudging respect for the guy in certain ways...and she's infected me with it. Confabulating liberals, take note. If you don't care about the truth, and you don't care about fairness, you might at least care that you're helping the guy out.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Drum: Does Trumpo Really Have a 30% Chance Of Winning?


Saturday, May 14, 2016

Title IX Rape Crisis Hysteria: University Declares Student A Rapist Because A Third Party Notices His GF Has A Hickey

George F. Will is on the case.
   So when will American liberalism put its collective foot down about this kafkaesque insanity?
For a long time it was conservatives complaining and liberals making excuses...I seem to see fewer excuses these days...but most of the criticism of this madness still seems to be coming mostly from conservative and libertarian sectors. It's hard to gauge though, of course. 
   One good thing about this though: it can, once we're through this lunacy, give us a kind of objective measure of how badly off-target liberalism is. Here's something obviously insane that all reasonable people should object to immediately, loudly, and en masse. The liberalism that attracted me in my youth would have objected immediately and unequivocally. Contemporary liberalism has not done so. However long it takes liberalism to recognize the obvious will constitute a kind of measurement of how out of whack contemporary liberalism's injustice/insanity metric is. 
   This latest case, discussed by Will, is utter madness. A case of consensual sex as both parties agree. A third party sees that the woman has a hickey and informs the campus sex Stasi. Despite the woman's testimony that the sex was consensual, the university expels the guy. This is egregious state intrusion into private matters on the order of, say, anti-sodomy laws--were they actually enforced. The fact that so many liberals are silent on--or worse, supportive of--this insanity is appalling. The fact that contemporary feminism spawned this lunacy and continues to defend it...well, obviously that's even worse. 

Friday, May 13, 2016

Trump's Taxes

1. He keeps saying that he doesn't have to release them. That's true. In other news: we don't have to stop talking about the fact that he won't release them. Let the voters decide whether they care.
But they should care, because:
2. The best explanation for not releasing them is that he's hiding something.
My own guess is that he isn't so much worried about the revelation of dirty dealings...he'd get busted for that whether he released them or not. Rather:
3. He doesn't want to reveal that he isn't worth nearly as much as he says he is.
Trump isn't so much a businessman, he's a celebrity huckster. He's the Shamwow! guy writ large. But there's no product there. It's just a brand name.

Et Tu, Lindsey Graham?

Change.orgwatch: Deadly Milo Edition

I guess he doesn't call himself the dangerous faggot for nothing...

52-Year-Old Father "Identifies As" 6-Year-Old Girl

Um...see how this doesn't make any sense?

DoE OCR Demands That Schools Accommodate "Transgendered" Students

This should concern everyone, IMO.
   It's not that there's no problem here worthy of thought.
(a) It's not clear that "transgenderism" (if that term even picks out a real phenomenon) is what the new left-wing and left-liberal insta-orthodoxy says it is.
(b) This is more evidence that OCR is basically pushing incoherent, highly-politicized, far-left theories current in women's and gender studies on the country via controversial interpretations of law. Remember: it's OCR that gave us the interpretation of Title IX according to which universities are not only permitted but required to employ a preponderance of evidence standard in the case of rape accusations (rather than some more demanding standard).
(c) This new diktat apparently turns on incoherent pseudo-concepts like gender identity and gender assigned at birth.
   Look. It's fine to address these issues. They should not be taking up this much public debate...but there is something there to discuss. Most importantly, however: the cluster of concepts and arguments offered up by the postpostmodern left gets just about everything wrong so far as I can tell. I don't think that there's any way to get the illiberal left and the illiberal fringe of liberalism to re-think their views. Dogmatism is, IMO, almost the defining characteristic of extremism. But that doesn't mean that the rest of us have to just nod and go along with it all.
   And, by the way, whence the tsunami of transgenderism? How is it that this alleged condition--"socially constructed" and yet totally biological!--is suddenly afflicting so many people? How is it that we've all survived this long without this causing any insurmountable problems? Nobody thinks it's cause for reflection that suddenly, as this becomes a cause celebre--and is heroified by the far left--"transgenderism" is so important and so common that we have to start mandating that freaking elementary schools make policy on the basis of made-up concepts like "gender identity"? Does no one realize that there are fake diseases and factitious disorders that become trendy?
   Look, this is exactly the kind of thing that conservatives fear. Instead of allowing the culture to evolve naturally over longer periods of time, we have policy enacted by fiat by un-elected bureaucrats. And, in this case, policy driven by a fad, and created by activists pretending to be scholars.
   There really is a problem at the root of all of this, but the leftist orthodoxy being imposed on the country gets it almost entirely wrong. The real problem is that it's hard to justify segregating so many things--including restrooms--by sex. It's one of those well-functioning institutions that is difficult to justify theoretically. Add to this that it is usually easy to identify someone's sex at a glance. And add to this that males and females tend to dress and groom themselves differently in ways that tend to exaggerate their natural differences in appearance. Now add that some people don't want to buy into the latter. They not only don't care to dress and groom themselves in traditional ways; in fact, they want to dress and groom themselves in ways the other sex traditionally does. (In fact: some even like to think of themselves as the sex they aren't.) So now we have the system of sex-segregation of restrooms + our expectation that we can discern sex at a glance + people explicitly defying stuff about sex-specific ways of dressing and grooming. Now add: we have some people who react violently to those who violate such traditions...  The theoretically elegant and practically stupid way to solve the problem is to give up on the sex-segregation of restrooms. The theoretically stupid and practically ok-but-not-great way to solve the problem is the way preferred by the leftist insta-orthodoxy: pretend that men who deviate from traditions about appearance literally are women, and women who deviate from the traditions literally are men.
   I don't know what the solution is. But I'm fairly sure: it's not the incoherent leftist insta-orthodoxy.
   Perhaps worse: I'm concerned about the fact that we as a country seem to be just accepting all this. The only people objecting are cultural conservatives...and nobody listens to them anymore. Even dedicated lefties ought to worry about this mindless, passive acquiescence.