Barrel Strength

Over-Proof Opinion, Smoothly Aged Insight

George Friedman says something fundamental

George Friedman is the head of Stratfor, a strategic foreign policy thinker and writer. If you have not read his many books, you ought to. In this video, he speaks in a different way. He speaks first of the experience of his father as a Hungarian Jew, who survived a Hungarian labour battalion in the German-allied Hungarian army at Stalingrad, escaped, got back to Budapest, then escaped the Nazi round up of Jews in 1945, and then escaped the round up of Social Democrats by the Communists in 1947, got to Israel, and then to the United States.

Clearly his father was a man who was happy that there was no gunfire aimed at him on any particular day.

This is a clearly important testimony to what Europe is, and what it ever could be. As he says, any civilization that could invent a Mozart, he is ready to extent some slack to. But he says, as many have, that the Europeans destroyed themselves from 1914 to 1945, with over 100 million dead. He is persuaded they will do something catastrophic again.

This was published on February 12, 2015. It is still highly relevant, and a moving personal testament. “Who will die to save the European Union?” No one. The guns we hear in the Ukraine, he says, are the precursor to a larger split.

 

 

Why now?

 

This frenzy of denunciation is no accident. The current stream of denunciations of males for actions they have committed towards women, some of them thirty years or more ago, is not a sudden explosion of moral rectitude. It is a deliberate campaign, and has been in the works for some time, possibly predating the Trump election. Later in this article I will expose the flimsy evidence for why I think the purge has been planned for some time.

It needs to be clear that the likes of Harvey Weinstein are odious. But people have observed that Weinstein got away with bad behaviour for decades. Why now? Some have speculated that, with the failure of the Clinton campaign, the cover of the Clintons has been withdrawn. The Enabler in Chief and her oversexed husband are no longer able to help Weinstein or anyone else. Their pay-for-play foreign policy gig is now over. The details are coming out, and will not stop, about how US foreign policy was simply bought by donations to the Clinton Foundation. 90% of the $2 billion raised by the Foundation has not been spent on charitable objects.

Even so, despite the rich targets the Clintons present, I do not see this sudden sexual Inquisition, this wave of denunciations of nearly every male celebrity, as being part of a Deep State plot or something concocted by Trump to get even with the Clintons. I have no doubt that the Clintons’ collective record present any journalist with a target-rich environment.
As always, the material has been evident to any reasonably diligent investigator. But it is my contention that though the Clintons may at last be caught in public odium, this frenzy of exposure of male misbehaviour has other motives.

Is this a sudden moral awakening? Is this like Harriet Beecher Stowe and her anti-slavery Uncle Tom’s Cabin? Abraham Lincoln, when introduced to Stowe, said to her: “So here’s the little lady who started the civil war”. Maybe. Moral awakenings cannot ever be ruled out.

I am suspicious of this explanation, and not for the usual cynicism of age and experience. A couple of years ago, a Washington insider lawyer was advising a board of directors I used to sit on that there would soon be a stepping up of vigilance in relation to male-female behaviour. He said, in effect, that touching of any kind, fraternization, compliments, even gentlemanly behaviour as it has been understood, would come under suspicion. At the time I wondered where he was getting this message, because he was talking as if he knew something that we did not. It turns out that he did.

At the risk of adding two and two and getting five, I have had enough experience with this particular lawyer and with life in general to trust my inference that this purge was premeditated. If it was aimed at Trump, it is clearly failing. If it was aimed at the Clintons, possibly by dissident Democrats who feel that they must be removed from influence, it will probably result in their disgrace. (About time!)

If occult powers were aiming to put men even more on their guard than they have been, this campaign will succeed for a while. I do not doubt that proper behaviour between men and women is desirable, and that sex should be consensual. All well and true, but we seem to have abandoned the social arrangements that were used to constrain sex to marriage and courtship. The social arrangements that prevailed before the Pill are not coming back without conversions to illiberal patriarchal religions, or changes of that magnitude. Male relatives will have to be recognized as having an interest in the reproductive activities of their daughters and sisters for this to come about. The feminists and most women would oppose this reversion.

Here is another truth we do not tell the kids: the inescapable fact is that sexual activity, by nature and definition, is improper, messy, biological, and lust-driven, and that consent is nuanced and situational. Men get stiff and women get wet; women desire sex in the right circumstances, and men try to persuade women that the circumstances are right.

I feel that some forces in society seem to think sex itself is a problem that can be solved with more militant social policing and shaming. I will be accused of an obtuse misunderstanding of the issue, of conflating sexual harassment with normal courtship and wooing. Yet, given the current propensity to carry everything to extremes (ref. the campaign against Jordan Peterson) this is the direction we will go in.

Who stands to gain from making sexual relations between people even more fraught and neurotic than they are?

 

We interrupt this blog to bring you something important

A friend came over today and mentioned the late Eva Cassidy, who died in 1996 when she was 33 years old,  of cancer. She is being discovered nowadays massively, thanks to the Internet. I rarely watch a singer who brings tears to my eyes. I warn you to be prepared for artistic greatness. Spread the word; it will improve your day  and everyone who hears her will be touched.

A biography of her life is here.

 

 

Nicholas Carr: a man of substance

Nicholas Carr has been writing about technology for some time. He is the author of several interesting books and blogs at Rough Type.

He is concerned with how the hand-held computer is messing with our capacity to think. In a recent posting, “How Smartphones Hijack our Minds”, he shows scientists studying the matter now believe that smartphones are damaging to us in subtle ways. I turn over this entry to Nicholas Carr. These are extracts from his posting.

Scientists have begun exploring that question — and what they’re discovering is both fascinating and troubling. Not only do our phones shape our thoughts in deep and complicated ways, but the effects persist even when we aren’t using the devices. As the brain grows dependent on the technology, the research suggests, the intellect weakens….

The results were striking. In both tests, the subjects whose phones were in view posted the worst scores, while those who left their phones in a different room did the best. The students who kept their phones in their pockets or bags came out in the middle. As the phone’s proximity increased, brainpower decreased.

In subsequent interviews, nearly all the participants said that their phones hadn’t been a distraction—that they hadn’t even thought about the devices during the experiment. They remained oblivious even as the phones disrupted their focus and thinking.

A second experiment conducted by the researchers produced similar results, while also revealing that the more heavily students relied on their phones in their everyday lives, the greater the cognitive penalty they suffered.

In an April article in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research, Dr. Ward and his colleagues wrote that the “integration of smartphones into daily life” appears to cause a “brain drain” that can diminish such vital mental skills as “learning, logical reasoning, abstract thought, problem solving, and creativity.” Smartphones have become so entangled with our existence that, even when we’re not peering or pawing at them, they tug at our attention, diverting precious cognitive resources. Just suppressing the desire to check our phone, which we do routinely and subconsciously throughout the day, can debilitate our thinking. The fact that most of us now habitually keep our phones “nearby and in sight,” the researchers noted, only magnifies the mental toll.

Dr. Ward’s findings are consistent with other recently published research. In a similar but smaller 2014 study in the journal Social Psychology, psychologists at the University of Southern Maine found that people who had their phones in view, albeit turned off, during two demanding tests of attention and cognition made significantly more errors than did a control group whose phones remained out of sight. (The two groups performed about the same on a set of easier tests.)

In another study, published in Applied Cognitive Psychology this year, researchers examined how smartphones affected learning in a lecture class with 160 students at the University of Arkansas at Monticello. They found that students who didn’t bring their phones to the classroom scored a full letter-grade higher on a test of the material presented than those who brought their phones. It didn’t matter whether the students who had their phones used them or not: All of them scored equally poorly. A study of nearly a hundred secondary schools in the U.K., published last year in the journal Labour Economics, found that when schools ban smartphones, students’ examination scores go up substantially, with the weakest students benefiting the most.

Imagine combining a mailbox, a newspaper, a TV,
a radio, a photo album, a public library
and a boisterous party attended by
everyone you know, and then compressing them all
into a single, small, radiant object.
That is what a smartphone represents to us.

It isn’t just our reasoning that takes a hit when phones are around. Social skills and relationships seem to suffer as well. Because smartphones serve as constant reminders of all the friends we could be chatting with electronically, they pull at our minds when we’re talking with people in person, leaving our conversations shallower and less satisfying. In a 2013 study conducted at the University of Essex in England, 142 participants were divided into pairs and asked to converse in private for ten minutes. Half talked with a phone in the room, half without a phone present. The subjects were then given tests of affinity, trust and empathy. “The mere presence of mobile phones,” the researchers reported in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, “inhibited the development of interpersonal closeness and trust” and diminished “the extent to which individuals felt empathy and understanding from their partners.” The downsides were strongest when “a personally meaningful topic” was being discussed. The experiment’s results were validated in a subsequent study by Virginia Tech researchers, published in 2016 in the journal Environment and Behavior.

 

This is Nathan Rambukkana: Obey him!

 

Meet your new overlord. This is Nathan Rambukkana.  As an Assistant Professor at Wilfrid Laurier University, he came to public attention this weekend by confirming in the most clear manner that Jordan Peterson is right. In an article that Christie Blatchford can do so well, it appears that he was part of a board of three that grilled a teaching assistant under his supervision for daring to show a youtube clip of Jordan Peterson, who was debating Nicholas Matte on whether  Bill C-16 would compel speech, that is, cause people to use the pronouns that a transgendered person requires his/her/zir’s interlocutor to use.

 

“She was told that after she showed the five-minute video clip, “one student/many students” — the group refused to say how many students were unhappy because that information is deemed confidential — complained that she had created “a toxic climate.”

Spunkily, she asked if she was supposed to shelter students from controversial ideas. “Am I supposed to comfort them?” she asked at one point, bewildered, and said it was antithetical to the spirit of a university.

Rambukkana then informed her that since Bill C-16 was passed, even making such “arguments run(s) counter” to the law.

I will leave that provocation aside for a moment in order to let Prof.Rambukkana identify his work:

Specifically, my research addresses topics such as digital intimacies, the relationship of intimacy and privilege, hybridity and mixed-race identities, the social and cultural aspects new media forms, and non/monogamy in the public sphere. It is situated disciplinarily at the nexus of communication and cultural studies; methodologically within discourse analysis; and draws theoretical energy from a wide range of sources such as feminist, queer, postcolonial, and critical race theories; semiotics, affect theory, event theory and psychoanalysis.

I invite the curious to pursue Prof. Rambukkana’s utterances further on his professional website. His personal musings are found at Complexsingularities.net

The issue I dwell upon is not the outrageous nature of the affront to free speech and liberal values that is constituted by the behaviour by Rambukkana and his two colleagues.

The question is: is he right? Have entire lines of thought been criminalized in Canada by C-16?  The answer is no, not yet, but the practical effect of Bill C-16, which deals with gender identity and gender expression is already seen in the assertions of Professor Rambukkana.

________________________________________

Does the effect of Bill C-16 criminalize the use of a pronoun a person does not favour? According to Brenda Cossman, of  the Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies, it does not. What this argument appears to rest on is an ambiguity in the use of “criminal”. Something may not attract criminal procedures and penalties (think about the Alberta Human Rights  Commission, Ezra Levant and the Islamic speech issue)  and yet involve years of punishing process and compulsion though not be, in strict terms, a “criminal” prosecution.

Says Brenda Cossman:

“Non-discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression may very well be interpreted by the courts in the future to include the right to be identified by a person’s self identified pronoun. The Ontario Human Rights Commission, for example, in their Policy on Preventing Discrimination Because of Gender Identity and Expression states that gender harassment should include “ Refusing to refer to a person by their self-identified name and proper personal pronoun”. In other words, pronoun misuse may become actionable, though the Human Rights Tribunals and courts. And the remedies? Monetary damages, non-financial remedies (for example, ceasing the discriminatory practice or reinstatement to job) and public interest remedies (for example, changing hiring practices or developing non-discriminatory policies and procedures). Jail time is not one of them.

The second thing that the Bill does is add the words “gender identity or expression” to two sections of the Criminal Code….

It will add the words “gender identity and expression” to section 318(4) of the Code, which defines an identifiable group for the purposes of “advocating genocide” and “the public incitement hatred” It joins colour, race, religion, national or ethnic origin, age, sex, sexual orientation or mental or physical disability.

Finally, Bill C-16 also adds “gender identity and expression” to section 718.2(a)(i) of the Criminal Code dealing with sentencing for hate crimes. The provision provides that evidence that an offence is motivated by bias, prejudice or hate can be taken into account by courts in sentencing. The list already includes race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation or any other similar factor.”

At this point I need to point out that, although Cossman carefully describes the effect of C-16 on freedom of expression, the Act is already taken to mean, by the like of Prof. Rambukkana,  that a point shall not be argued – not just the use of a pronoun, but an entire train of thought on how students need to be exposed to debate about whether transgendered rights might result in compelled speech.

Those who argue in recondite legal articles about the limits of free speech need to carefully consider what happens to laws when they are interpreted in daily life by faculty committees and other sources of authority, especially those who have an interest in suppressing discussion.

Jared Brown, in another interpretation of C-16, from a point of view more favourable to the principle of free speech, takes a different view.  The text of the federal act on this matter was copied from earlier Ontario legislation to the same effect. Hence what Ontario’s Human Rights Commission says about the wording is relevant.

Thereafter, the [Ontario Human Rights Commission] OHRC clarified its policy by creating a Question and Answer on gender identity and gender expression which seeks to define these terms, and to set out that the refusal of a person to use the chosen/personal/preferred pronoun, or deliberately misgendering, will likely be discrimination.

What this means is that if you encounter a person in a sphere of human activity covered by the Code, and you address that person by a pronoun that is not the chosen/personal/or preferred pronoun of that person, that your action can constitute discrimination.

Further, in the event that your personal or religious beliefs do not recognize genders beyond simply male and female (ie. does not recognize non-binary, gender neutral, or other identities), you must still utilize the non-binary, gender neutral, or other pronouns required by non-binary or gender neutral persons, lest you be found to be discriminatory.

It is the OHRC policy requirement that persons must use the pronouns required by the portion of transgendered individuals making that demand that constitutes compelled speech.

Brown also points out that failure to comply with a finding of the Ontario Human Rights Commission could entail

– requirements to communicate or publish an apology or a publication of the facts of the case and the resulting order;

-non-defamation or gag orders (to refrain from making further offending statements);

-non-defamation publication bans (to refrain from printing further offending statements);

– orders to undertake sensitivity or anti-bias training.

As Brown points out, you can go to jail for contempt of one of these orders, indefinitely.

Rule 60.11(5) of the Rules of Civil Procedure (Ontario) confirms that where the court finds a person in contempt, they can order imprisonment for an indefinite period, in addition to fines and other remedies.  Further a judge can issue a warrant for the arrest of any person against whom a contempt order is sought.

 

Thus while C-16 does not deal with criminal law as its central point, its provisions affect the interpretation of hate crimes, which are criminal in nature. Moreover, if the offence is tried under provincial Human Rights laws, going to jail for refusal to use some person’s desired pronouns for their particular sexual status, and facing years of litigation, a fines, constitutes compulsion.

The Bill also creates the atmosphere of ideas wherein the not too clever can assert that entire avenues of discourse are now illegal. As has Professor Rambukkana.

________________________________________________________

The incipient totalitarian nature of the views being propagated at our universities ought to concern those who endorse a liberal education. You may seek to convey your views to Professor Rambukkana. Be polite.

nrambukkana@wlu.ca

T: 519.884.0710 x4346

The iron mask is coming down. This debate is not, as the left asserts, about respect, dignity and equality. This is about causing masses of people not to speak what is on their minds, and that is the iron mask. It is the hallmark of the totalitarian regime, and it is here now.

Saul Alinsky: Rule for Radicals #4 – “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules”

If you haven’t followed Star Trek actor George Takei on Twitter, then you are to be congratulated because you haven’t wasted time following his idiotic fulminations. If one is a “celebrity” and “gay”, like Takei, it seems one can say anything with impunity. Now it seems the centre-right has learned the lesson as well, as this latest news shows.

A former model and actor is accusing Star Trek icon George Takei of sexual assault in 1981. The accuser, Scott R. Brunton, who was 23 at the time of the alleged incident, claims that Takei took advantage of him when he was most vulnerable.

“This happened a long time ago, but I have never forgotten it,” Brunton tells The Hollywood Reporter in an interview. “It is one of those stories you tell with a group of people when people are recounting bizarre instances in their lives, this always comes up. I have been telling it for years, but I am suddenly very nervous telling it.”

Isn’t 1981 before the Statute of Limitations of some kind? Who cares about “due process“?!

This past Wednesday, college presidents and Title IX coordinators met on Capitol Hill to discuss the issue of campus sexual assault and what to do under the new Trump administration.

Under the Obama administration, colleges were required to adjudicate accusations of sexual assault in a way that denied due process and the presumption of innocence. While President Donald Trump hasn’t spoken on the issue, the media has stoked fears that his administration will roll back protections for accusers, who are always labeled as “victims.”

2016 US election and polls

One thing that went totally awry in the 2016 US election was the polling. For a campaign like Clinton’,s which was entirely data oriented, this was a death knell. In this campaign it wasn’t just the earlier polls that were wrong, but exit polls as well. Was it media malpractice or something else?

An article in Esquire shares some untold behind-the-scenes stories from the campaign including these about the exit polls.

Bret Baier, Fox News chief political anchor: We got the exit polls at 5 p.m. in a big office on the executive floor. Rupert Murdoch and all the staff were there. It looked like we were going to call the race for Hillary Clinton at 10:30 or 11 p.m.

Steve Bannon: The exit polls were horrific. It was brutal. I think we were close in Iowa and Ohio and everything else was just brutal. Losing everywhere. Florida, Pennsylvania. I mean, it looked like a landslide.

Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University, Trump’s religious adviser: I called Sean Hannity and said, “I really think he’s going to win tonight.” Sean said, “Well, I’m glad you do, because the exit polls don’t look good.” I found out later that Trump was very pessimistic, too.

Steve Bannon: Jared [Kushner] and I were out on this balcony in Trump Tower. We looked at it on Jared’s iPhone. And the numbers were so bad that we regrouped inside. We look at each other and we go, “This can’t be right. It just can’t.” And Jared goes, “I got an idea, let’s call Drudge.” And Drudge says, “The corporate media—they’ve always been wrong the entire time—these numbers are wrong.” Drudge snapped us out of it, saying, “You guys are a couple of jamokes. Wait until the second exit polls come out, or later.” We called the candidate and told him what the numbers were and what Drudge had said. And then we said, “Hey, ya know, we left it all on the field. Did everything we can do. Let’s just see how it turns out.”

Media malpractice might account for some of the problems, but this survey by CATO Institute highlights how people with center-right political orientation are less willing to share their political opinion and more likely to self-censor. It probably explains why Brexit polling was also wrong.

 

The Confessions of Richard Warnica

Richard Warnica published a confession in the Post this morning, subtitled “We’re still trying to figure out how Donald Trump won.”

These are the confessions of an honest man. I could have published the same about my reaction to Obama beating Romney; I was stupefied that the US public fell for that communoid flake, that sly, anti-white, feckless pseud.  Consequently, I make no claims of moral superiority or political perspicacity. But I do claim that I got Trump right, and bet $100 on Trump winning in December 2015.

On the basis of that slight authority, I analyzed Warnica’s article. It is broken into fivethematic sections:

  1. I was ideologically blind/I missed the importance of Steven Bannon
  2. Facebook allowed the fringe to become the mainstsream
  3. Trump reaped the “unfettered cash” released by the Citizen’s United decision of the Supreme Court.
  4. The timely intervention of James Comey into Hillary Clinton’s emails
  5. I was ideologically blind/ I dismissed the enthusiasm of the enormous crowds

Judging by what Mr. Warnica writes, he is till ideologically blind. He is not alone. So are most of the people I hear on the subject of Trump.

  1. Let us start with his description of Steve Bannon.

“He trafficked, and still does traffic, in views about Islam and race and other issues that would have been disqualifying for a major political figure in an earlier era. His political ideas were drawn from such oddball sources as online gaming and apocalyptic clash-of-civilizations philosophy.”

The primary political division in western civilization at the moment is whether people are aware that Islam is not the friend of liberal civilization. I find that secular humanists (atheists) are particularly blind on this subject. Seeing that all metaphysical beliefs are ipso facto  in error, indeed delusional, apparently it makes no difference to them that some religions are conducive to rational inquiry and others not, that some favour the equality of the sexes, and others do not, and that some believe that all questions have been answered in one exclusive truth and others think the paths to redemption are many.

Ordinary people are crying out for a major politician to link Islamic jihad with Islam. Please could someone make a connection between Karl Marx and Lenin? Between what the Koran says and what believers int he Koran feel justified to do? Thus, if Richard Warnica still thinks that the impeccably liberal Samuel Huntingdon’s “Clash of Civilizations” is beyond the pale, he remains stuck in ignorance and denial. The borders of Islam in every direction are bloody. It is a world conquering faith of enforced submission and slavery. Whether it might be different in six centuries is a problem for the future. At the moment it is the principal enemy of liberal civilization. People want to hear someone in power who is at least cognizant of the problem.

2. “Facebook allowed the fringe to become mainstream”.

This assumes what needs to be demonstrated. Who is the fringe, and who the mainstream? In short, who is defining reality here anyway? The Internet has allowed people to gather, disseminate, and read information outside of the filters of the MSM.

3. Trump reaped the “unfettered cash” released by the Citizen’s United decision of the Supreme Court.

Any mention of  Trump raising unlimited cash relative to the Clinton money machine is ludicrous. We need not discuss this further.

4. The timely intervention of James Comey into Hillary Clinton’s emails

I have not been running US foreign policy out of my home computer either, but it is likely that many people had their views of Hillary solidified by this event.

5. I was ideologically blind/ I dismissed the enthusiasm of the enormous crowds

I am reminded by George Orwell’s comment that it is difficult but necessary to see what is in front of one’s nose.

“To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle. One thing that helps toward it is to keep a diary, or, at any rate, to keep some kind of record of one’s opinions about important events. Otherwise, when some particularly absurd belief is exploded by events, one may simply forget that one ever held it. Political predictions are usually wrong. But even when one makes a correct one, to discover why one was right can be very illuminating. In general, one is only right when either wish or fear coincides with reality. If one recognizes this, one cannot, of course, get rid of one’s subjective feelings, but one can to some extent insulate them from one’s thinking and make predictions cold-bloodedly, by the book of arithmetic. In private life most people are fairly realistic. When one is making out one’s weekly budget, two and two invariably make four. Politics, on the other hand, is a sort of sub-atomic or non-Euclidean word where it is quite easy for the part to be greater than the whole or for two objects to be in the same place simultaneously. Hence the contradictions and absurdities I have chronicled above, all finally traceable to a secret belief that one’s political opinions, unlike the weekly budget, will not have to be tested against solid reality.”

I suggest a course in humility for Richard Warnica of the kind George Orwell proposed. I have had to take it a few times myself.

 

 

 

The very model of a Governor General

 

I was sitting on the plane this morning when I heard a voice behind me talking to his colleague. It had something of Don Cherry tone to it: assured, a little truculent, a tinge of redneck even, assertive, a little loud. I turned around and saw David Johnston, our former Governor General. Not believing my eyes, I turned around once more and he interrupted his talking to a colleague to say hello to me.

You have to understand my shock. I have known David Johnson peripherally for many years. He is the smoothest man of policy I have ever met. Not merely clever, but wise. Ambitious. The kind of man who, in my belief, learned very early always to say the right thing without once being deceived by his own talk or anyone else’s.  Social smarts coming out the ears. Scholar, law professor, chancellor of the best universities.

When the plane stopped we had a brief chat. He was in fine form. He spoke about his wife getting him out of the house as many a retired man must. He said he had never had a “real job” in his life, and I know what he means, because I have never had one either. The kind that can be measured with a stop watch or a calculator.

The amazing transformation before me was of a man who seemed to have thrown off his smooth persona to  have achieved a kind of thinking man’s Don Cherry-hood. Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty I am free at last. That is what he seemed to be saying, through all the practised jokes and badinage.

Good luck to you, brother, live long and prosper.

And when you really succeed, maybe you can take over Don Cherry’s job as the second culmination of your career. After being Her Majesty’s Canadian representative, what higher honour can your country give you? Apotheosis?