A different explanation

George Whittman, at the American Spectator, has a suggestion to Bill Clinton: Stay Home.  Apparently, Clinton makes for accommodationist foreign policy with Muslims. Clinton opined that Islamic terrorism in Northern Nigeria was caused by economic troubles, and he suggested economic development of the North as a means of reducing the trouble. Whittman rebuts Clinton:

Clinton must have known that his statement was a direct attack on Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan who had earlier responded sharply to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour when she suggested poverty and corruption were behind the rise in Nigerian terrorism. President Jonathan had vigorously replied that Boko Haram was “definitely not a result of poverty.…Boko Haram is a local terrorist group.”

Note, by the way, that the form of that explanation is as follows:  q does not explain p, because p.  Apparently, being an Islamic terrorist is causa sui.  Silly Clinton.

How not not to be a cynic

Inside Higher Education ran an advice post for newly hired academics in the StratEDgy blog section.  They then posted the high points on the front page last week.  Most advice was just fine, ranging from get tenure quickly, before they take that away to focus on the teaching and find ways to enjoy it.  Then there was this gem:

Avoid cynicism by recognizing early that academe is just as fraught with petty squabbles, mean-spirited colleagues, and irrational rules as any other area of endeavor – but no more so than any other.

As far as I can take it, this advice is that one avoids cynicism by being a cynic.  That’s simply not how you avoid being a cynic.  I suppose the more charitable reading is that one can avoid the disappointment of realizing the truth of the cynical worldview (especially in the vaunted halls of academe) if one is antecedently cynical.  But that’s a different thing, and, by the way, not very effective — expecting others to be small-minded and mean doesn’t decrease decrease disappointment when they invariably are so.

Classic Krugman

Check out this video on Bloomberg.

The story goes something like this.  In the remark shown on the screen, Paul Krugman cautioned that he is not calling someone a name (via a Monty Python reference lost on the speaker), but rather questioning the evidence for his view.  The stunningly clueless commentator remarks that this is “classic Krugman” for “going after a person,” which is greeted with all sorts of agreement from the assembled panel brainless commentators.  She then refers to Niall Ferguson, who in his turn says Paul Krugman uses ad hominem arguments because he must have been abused as a child.  That, of course, is an actual ad hominem; Krugman’s is not.  You just cannot be this dumb.

Reduce, reuse, recyle

Fig.1: Conservativism

Here is a post for those who think that pointing out the inconsistency between a party’s name and its alleged position on an issue constitutes a decisive refutation of their view.  That “conservatives” fail to “conserve” or “preserve” or anything else along those lines does not mean they embody some kind of contradiction.  George Will has used this line on “progressives,” or his army of hollow men in years pastHere he is the other day:

Progressives are remarkably uninterested in progress. Social Security is 78 years old, and myriad social improvements have added 17 years to life expectancy since 1935, yet progressives insist the program remain frozen, like a fly in amber. Medicare is 48 years old, and the competence and role of medicine have been transformed since 1965, yet progressives cling to Medicare “as we know it.” And they say that the Voting Rights Act, another 48-year-old, must remain unchanged, despite dramatic improvements in race relations.

What kind of move is this?  I think it’s an equivocation–a rather textbook variety.  Clearly “progressive” means something different to “Progressives” (the name a half-hearted attempt at rebranding “liberal,” by the way).  Will’s thought goes something like this:

your name implies you like progress, but here is progress which you don’t like, so you’re not “progressive.”  Your self-understanding therefore is laughably contradictory.

The problem with this is that “progress” (1)–things getting better, more just, etc–and “progress” (2)–things changing–mean different things to alleged “progressives”.  Besides, what is at issue with voting rights is an empirical question: has progress been made on voting rights?  Progressives say, pointing to the recent election, no; (some) conservatives say yes.

*minor edit for clarity.

Opinions for hire

However much we berate the conservative commentariat, we usually presume their opinions are actually their opinions.  Turns out we might have been wrong.  Turns out some of them, a crew of ten or so, were on the payroll of the anti-democratic government of Malaysia.  I wonder if Malaysia got what they wanted.  I also wonder who else is paying these jokers.  An interesting graph:

According to Trevino’s belated federal filing, the interests paying Trevino were in fact the government of Malaysia, “its ruling party, or interests closely aligned with either.” The Malaysian government has been accused of multiple human rights abuses and restricting the press and personal freedoms. Anwar, the opposition leader, has faced prosecution for sodomy, a prosecution widely denounced in the West, which Trevino defended as more “nuanced” than American observers realized. The government for which Trevino worked also attacked Anwar for saying positive things about Israel; Trevino has argued that Anwar is not the pro-democracy figure he appears.

I’m sure it was very nuanced.  In total they received over 400k.  Nice work, if you can get it.

Can’t tell if troll part the millionth

fry-can-t-tell-meme-generator-can-t-tell-if-satire-or-just-troll-1e7d86It turns out the military rape (of women) is a problem.  The National Review Online responds, as you might imagine, by blaming the victims and by changing the subject.

In an epic move that should be satire, but isn’t, Heather Mac Donald argues thusly:

But let’s say that for these homeless female vets, it really was their sexual experiences in the military that caused their downward spiral into, as the Times puts it, “alcohol and substance abuse, depression and domestic violence.” Why then have those same feminists who are now lamenting the life-destroying effects of “MST” insisted on putting women into combat units? Arguably, coming under enemy fire or falling into enemy hands is as traumatic as the behavior one may experience while binge-drinking with one’s fellow soldiers or as scarring as being “bullied and ostracized” by a female superior. Are women on average going to be more able to emotionally handle the former than the latter? Isn’t there a contradiction in expecting the military to “protect” you while it also sends you out to face mortal risk? And do the feminists believe that there will be fewer of these alleged rapes in combat training and duty? Perhaps they think that with enough multi-million-dollar gender-equity training contracts showered on the gender-industrial complex, the problem will go away. Or perhaps they think that keeping before us proof that the patriarchy is alive and well is more important than protecting women from “MST,” especially if that image can serve as grounds for remaking the military.

The point is that if you cannot protect yourself from rape, or you cannot deal with the consequences of rape, then you have no place in the combat zone.  To suggest otherwise is some kind of inconsistency: how can women sustain the rigors of combat?  They can’t even deal with being raped.