If You Call a Calf’s Tail a Leg

How many legs would a calf have?  This was a rhetorical question put to his cabinet by Abraham Lincoln during a discussion that seemed to be running in circles.  They all answered, “Five,” at which point Lincoln corrected them.  Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.

Nor can you credibly claim that fossil fuels are being “subsidized” by re-defining “subsidy” into meaninglessness, as a several authors affiliated with the International Monetary Fund seems to have done.  According to those sages, world-wide energy costs — by which they overwhelmingly mean fossil fuel energy costs — are being “subsidized” to the tune of $5.3 trillion annually.  The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung has the articleHere’s the blog post.  The blog post relies heavily on an IMF working paper, “How Large are Global Energy Subsidies?,” available in .pdf here. The reader doesn’t get past the headline without tripping across the writers’ leftist bias splashed across the screen:  “Act Local, Solve Global: The $5.3 Trillion Energy Subsidy Problem”.  Isn’t $5.3 trillion a rather large number?  How did they get there?  Did they add up governmental hand-outs, direct or indirect, to energy producers or consumers?  Well no, no they didn’t.  What they did was define a calf’s tail so that now it’s a leg:

“We define energy subsidies as the difference between what consumers pay for energy and its ‘true costs,’ plus a country’s normal value added or sales  tax rate. These ‘true costs’ of energy consumption include its supply costs and the damage that energy consumption inflicts on people and the environment. These damages, in turn, come from carbon emissions and hence global warming; the health effects of air pollution; and the effects on traffic congestion, traffic accidents, and road damage. Most of these externalities are borne by local populations, with the global warming component of energy subsidies  only a fourth of the total.”

“Externalities.”  “True costs.”  And of course, “global warming.” The latter of which hasn’t been occurring for the past 15-plus years, and the extent to which it is anthropogenic is the subject of massive debate, despite what the acolytes of The Economist, The New York Times, The Washington Post, the television talking heads, and the rest of the left-extremist media repeatedly assure us is “consensus” scientific opinion.  Even on the assumption that, long-term, the earth overall is in fact warming up, as of right now there is little robust (in other words, non-manipulated) data to indicate that human activity is the dominant cause of it.  Looked at slightly differently, for the past 15 years, during which time everyone now agrees there has been a “hiatus” in warming, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has been steadily climbing.  By every one of the climate alarmists’ models the world should be cooking.  But it’s not.  Why not?  Well, there are a bunch of theories out there, all of which — hardly surprisingly — rely on naturally-occurring phenomena to explain “where the heat is being hidden.”  But what does that tell us?  What it tells us is that naturally-occurring phenomena can very easily overwhelm the anthropogenic component of warming trends, and that assumes that the computer models which are the source of our estimates of the magnitude of that component are accurate in the first place.  Which may or may not be the case.

These IMF writers are perfectly comfortable not only assuming that the world is warming and will continue to warm, but that it’s human carbon emissions that are the cause of it.  And then they pull a number out of thin air to slap a price tag on it, and call it an “externality” which must be accounted for in calculating the “true” cost of energy.

The health effects of air pollution are a genuine external cost of the use of fossil fuels.  And it’s not hard to put some pretty robust numbers on that cost.  Most countries keep pretty good track of mortality and morbidity, and the range of illnesses and diseases reliably connected to ambient air pollution is pretty well-settled.  So when they authors write, “In China alone, the World Health Organization estimates there are over one million premature deaths per year due to outdoor air pollution, caused by the burning of polluting fuels, particularly coal, and other sources,” that’s a number I can take at close to face value (ignoring the extent to which international NGOs have joyfully prostituted themselves to various left-extremist causes).

That million-premature-deaths-per-year data point really doesn’t take full account to the full consequences of China’s fuel consumption, does it?  Let’s look back a few decades to see what life in Red China was like before its economy took off.  China was a land of — in many provinces still is — dirt-poor peasants, without clean drinking water, transportation to keep the villages fed, reliable modern or semi-modern healthcare, or most of the other advantages of modern economies.  They died like flies.  What has happened to overall life expectancy in China as a result of its economic modernization?  Here are the charts: overall life expectancy went from 68.31 years in 1985 to 73.27 years in 2010.  These IMF folks are counting only one side of the equation.  If I increase life expectancy across several hundred million people by five years through generalized, wide-spread economic development — a development which would be utterly impossible without cheap, for which read “fossil” energy — but out of those hundreds of millions, 1 million annually die prematurely, then I’m not only still to the good, I’m massively to the good.  In India, one of the other major “sinners” in fossil fuel consumption, the increase is even more stark.  We see life expectancy going from 62.5 to 67.14 years between 2000 and 2012, five years’ increase over just twelve years.

By the way, despite the obviously Marxist leanings of these IMF wonks, general economic development and prosperity inures to everyone’s advantage.  Everyone’s.  If air pollution is an external cost, then general economic advancement is an external benefit, and it’s asinine — and dishonest — to include the one without accounting for the other.

“The effects on traffic congestion, traffic accidents, and road damage”:  These are likewise “external costs” that amount to “subsidies” of energy.    I’d love to see someone demonstrate that “too-cheap” energy prices result in traffic congestion and accidents.  What produces traffic congestion and road accidents are too many people trying to fit their vehicles onto a given surface of road at the same time.  And what produces that is geographically concentrated economic opportunity that grows faster than government’s ability to respond to it.  Unemployed people don’t drive to work, to put it bluntly.  Businesses that go out of business don’t run their trucks.  So if we just tamped down productive economic activity our roads would be safer and less congested.  Which appears to be the objective of these authors.

The kind of economic advancement which produces crowded (and dangerous) traffic condition arises from, and only from, relatively inexpensive transportation, and that requires relatively inexpensive energy.  By “relatively,” I mean, incidentally, relative to other mechanized and non-mechanized forms of transportation.  When you had to own and maintain a horse and wagon in order to “drive” anywhere, that was both highly inefficient and very restrictive.  As Paul Johnson describes travel in pre-railroad England in The Birth of the Modern, the vast majority of people walked wherever they went, because they couldn’t afford to ride, not because they wanted to stop and smell the flowers.  That’s still true elsewhere in the world.  Despite all the picturesque photographs in The National Geographic of swarms of passengers so covering rail cars that you can’t see the rail car beneath them, most people in the less developed world walk, and not from choice.

Non-mechanized travel is slow, it’s inefficient (how many horse-drawn wagons would it take to deliver the lumber and brick to build a single house? how many guys driving flat-bed trucks?), and it is, relative to fossil-fueled mechanized travel, horribly, horribly expensive.  Among forms of mechanized transportation, railroads are phenomenally inefficient in any sense of how much energy it takes to move X people or weight of objects Y distance, from any given Point A to Point B.  Those who extol the virtues of rail conveniently pay attention to the first component X over Y, forgetting that niggling little issue of where it’s being transported from and to: which Point A to which Point B.  There is not money enough in all the world to build and run railroads to everywhere that needs cheap transportation.  If I’m 30 miles from the nearest railroad point of embarkation (and many, many places, even in the Easter U.S., are), then it doesn’t really do me much good to ponder how much weight a train can pull per unit of energy, does it?

Once more, the “too-cheap energy” hand-wringers need to answer the question of precisely how they account for the overall benefit, in length and quality of life, provided by modern capitalistic economies operating through the inter-connectedness of inter-continental markets for everyday goods (and even services, although to a lesser extent).  These authors’ outlook assumes a pre-lapsarian paradise where an increasing population somehow has jobs that somehow enable its individuals to pay the bills and somehow live long, relatively-healthy lives, without a relatively inexpensive way to move people and goods, to heat, cool, and light houses and businesses, and to operate the machines which make the physical objects that make it all possible.

How do our authors propose to impose on consumers the “true cost” of energy?  Why, through taxation, of course.

“The fiscal gains from subsidy reform are sizeable and could be a game changer for fiscal policy in many countries.  This would give room, for example, for governments to reduce some types of taxes (such as those imposed on labor) that weigh down growth;  raise growth-enhancing public expenditure (e.g. for infrastructure, health  and education); and finance targeted cash transfers for the poor.  Furthermore, there would be appropriate incentives for investment in green technology because dirty energy would no longer be artificially cheap.”

In the working paper linked above you get a better idea of just how purely theoretical all these wonderful “savings” actually are.  Reducing a tax on labor sounds nice, but it really doesn’t answer the question where you are going to replace the money from all the income tax revenue lost from jobs destroyed or more importantly jobs never created.  Moreover, if you just read the above paragraph you’ll notice a curious contradiction:  Increasing energy costs will reduce energy consumption, and we’re going to use all that money flowing in to . . . build and repair more roads and bridges for all the cars and trucks that aren’t being driven any more.  It also assumes an infinitely linear relationship between economic growth and government expenditure on “education” (no such relationship has ever been shown above a certain level; if that were the case the United States would be a nation of Einsteins) or “health” (ditto).  And finally we get to the nub:  more money to hand out to our pet constituencies and “green energy” cronies.

On a more practical level, when has there even been a sustained pattern of government taking one tax revenue source and using it to reduce another?  That is a supposition that defies uniform experience of government since the days of the pharaohs.  For that matter, it seems to me that if most of the externalities of energy consumption are experienced locally, then paying a whacking great chunk of money to a centralized bureaucracy to siphon 40-80% of it off the top in “administration” costs and then dole the balance out to its favored constituents is precisely the wrong way to match externalities with those who must experience them in the actual lives.  I’ll give you a hint:  There aren’t a whole lot of “green energy” mooches in Atlanta, and yet there’s a boat-load of externalities to experience there (as anyone who’s tried to drive further than three blocks around there can tell you).  So the solution is to impose a tax on all those who live and work in Atlanta, so some firm in Silicon Valley can be handed $535 million in taxpayers’ money to get behind the major-political-donors’ equity position when the firm, which was already irretrievably broke when the money was paid, files its bankruptcy petition?  Color me uninterested.

Finally, other than using less energy, what do the authors’ suggested uses of this tax revenue actually do to reduce the externalities of energy consumption?  China could burn 17% less coal and it would still have lousy air quality in its large cities.  New Yorkers could burn 17% less automotive fuels and mid-town would still be a parking lot for most of the day.  Where the change would occur would be at the margin and in truth would largely occur in the form of lack of economic activity.  In any single year that might not be a terribly large number, but once you slice 0.5% off your annual rate of growth over several decades because energy is now so damned expensive, and suddenly the difference in overall societal condition is the difference between the American Midwest and rural India.

Also noteworthy is the authors’ pointing out that the “externalities” of “too-cheap” energy are very predominantly local.  Even assuming all the climate alarmist chatter to be true in every detail [It’s not; all these models and projections trace themselves to data held by the University of East Anglia, data so thoroughly corrupted by manipulation that the man they hired to recreate their original measurements gave up after about three years of trying; the source data has been so monkeyed with that it is unusable for any other than propaganda purposes . . . which coincidentally is what it’s being used for; useful entry points to understand what’s been going on here, here, and especially here.], something like half the total is accounted for by local air pollution.  Local.  All of which is to say that there are enormous swathes of every country on the face of the earth where the air simply isn’t all that bad.  Yet the taxes proposed will hit everyone in the country.  Seems like what they’re proposing is to shift the externalities from one subset of people (residents of dense urban pockets) to another subset (everyone else).  I’d also note that non-residents of dense urban areas tend to use — at least in their personal existence — more energy for things like transportation than their urban cousins.  Ditto businesses.  If you live or work out in the sticks, you’ve got further to move yourself and your stuff than if your customer base all lives within 25 miles of you or your business.

In fairness to the authors of the linked paper, they do come right out and admit that their conclusions rely on enormous assumptions that may or may not be true, especially on the benefit end of things.  This is significant, because we do know a great deal about the cost of suppressing growth.  Take a look at the life expectancies as of 1960 in — China: 43.47 years; India:  41.38 years; Brazil: 54.69 years.  Those truncated lives are the “externality” of allowing a bunch of coastal elites to feel good about themselves by taxing the rest of us into oblivion so they can have more of our money to play with.

I humbly suggest that willfully knocking the creation and aggregation of wealth back to an era when we didn’t have a million Chinese dying “prematurely” each year, but rather hundreds of millions of Chinese with over 20 years’ less life expectancy at birth, all based on pie-in-the-sky assumptions about all this magical government revenue that will roll in from a shrunken economy, is a suggestion that does not deserve to be taken seriously.

And those assumptions sure as hell are no basis to claim that energy is being sold at $5.3 trillion below its “true cost” annually.

California Goes to India

And from the Dept. of You Can’t Make This Up, we have a report from The Times of India of a judgment rendered by a court in Delhi, identified as the Delhi High Court.

Some Indian analogue to PETA had freed a bunch of birds from the cages in which a bird merchant was keeping them.  Legal proceedings ensued (the report doesn’t make very clear whether civil or criminal, and by whom initiated and against whom).  A trial court had directed that at least some of the birds be released  back to the merchant from whom “liberated,” and the animal rights folks had sought an injunction barring that release.  [I’m curious how the birds, who had after all been freed from their cages, were re-captured so as to be released back to the merchant in the first place.  I mean, if I’m a bird kept locked up and someone comes along and pops open the door to my cage, my country ass it outta there.  You couldn’t, as an old judge friend of mine says, find me with a search warrant.]

The animal rights group appealed that portion of the trial court’s action, and the appellate court bit down on their argument in toto, in language that seems alarmingly over-broad for a society which has some difficulty feeding itself.   Justice Manmohan Singh allowed:  “I am clear in mind that all the birds have fundamental rights to fly in the sky and all human beings have no right to keep them in small cages for the purposes of their business or otherwise.”  Really?  “All birds” have a “fundamental right” to fly “in the sky” and humans have “no right” to keep them for any “purpose” (how else can you read the “otherwise” in that sentence?).  “This court is of the view that running the trade of birds is in violation of the rights of the birds. They deserve sympathy. Nobody is caring as to whether they have been inflicted cruelty or not despite a settled law that birds have a fundamental right to fly and cannot be caged and will have to be set free in the sky.”

The breadth of that statement would sweep in chickens, geese, ducks, or any other bird raised for food or for their eggs.  According to Justice Singh, even keeping your chickens in a hen-house with an outdoor run enclosed by fencing would violate the birds’ “fundamental right” to fly “in the sky.”  The full opinion isn’t quoted in the article, but if the decision had turned on a law proscribing the birds’ being in the possession of the merchant — such as American federal law which criminalizes such private possession or trade (and I actually had a client once who’d recently been enlarged from Club Fed for precisely that offense) — you’d think the court would have mentioned it and the article likewise.  But there’s none of that, but rather only the categorical announcement of a “settled law” establishing a “fundamental right” to fly in the unrestricted “sky.”  The specific source for the right is not cited in the article, so I wonder whether it’s in India’s constitution or some statute somewhere, although the judge’s invocation of a “settled law” is a pretty strong clue that he’s just making it up as he goes along, the South Asian variant of black robe fever being presumably indistinguishable from its American strain.

Wow.  I mean, just wow.  Eating beef is severely constrained in India by reason of religious scruple.  Pork is considered by a sizable proportion of the population to be unclean, likewise on religious grounds.  And now an appellate court has decided that the only practicable way to keep domestic birds for eggs or food is as a proposition of “fundamental right” impermissible?  I guess the population living near the ocean or near rivers can fish, if the water’s not too polluted.  But what are the rest of India’s one billion-plus population to do for animal protein in their diet?

I guess it shouldn’t surprise us that Indian judges are just as susceptible to silliness as our own.

Because Impartial

Instapundit I think it was who formulated a very helpful rule:  In trying to make sense of what gets or doesn’t get reported in the U.S. mainstream media, and how is reported what does see the light of day, if you simply proceed from the notion that the reporter and the organization are Democrat Party operatives then you won’t go far wrong.

Notwithstanding we see the wisdom of that rule confirmed time and again, we are forever assured that there is no lamestream media bias in favor of the left.  Oh noes!  You can, of course, regularly and with depressing uniformity of result play “Name that Party,” in which reports of egregious wrong-doing by prominent Democrats either never mention party affiliation, or bury it in the third-from-last paragraph of a 25-paragraph story, over on page B-15 of the Saturday morning paper, while Republicans will have their affiliation mentioned in the lead sentence of the first paragraph, if not the headline as well.  You can read the whole sordid history of Journolist, the conspiracy hatched and run from The Washington Post’s offices by Ezra Klein during the 2008 presidential campaign, and the intent and effect of which was to coordinate among roughly 400 reporters and Democrat operatives what and how they were going to report in connection with that campaign.  You can go back and watch Candy Crowley (I think it was) jump into Mitt Romney’s shellacking of Dear Leader during their debate, to buttress a fraudulent claim by Dear Leader that he had correctly identified the Benghazi attacks as being of terroristic origin, when in fact he did no such thing for weeks afterward.  And so forth and so on.

Or you can follow the story of George Stephanopoulos, the Clinton operative who now masquerades as a “journalist” on ABC, and who interviewed the author who has described in detail the patterns of cash flowing from various unsavory foreign governments and operations to the Clinton family’s slush fund, while Hillary Clinton was U.S. Secretary of State, and which — coincidentally, we’re assured — achieved favorable results in the discussions they just happened to be having with the U.S. government and its agencies at the time.  Ol’ Georgie-boy kept asserting during his interview that the author had “no evidence” of any quid pro quo arrangements.  No “smoking gun.”  No evidence.  No evidence.  No evidence.  Well, of course not:  Hillary destroyed any evidence that might have existed after cherry-picking what e-mails to surrender to the U.S. government.  [N.b.  When the images of her private server’s hard drive are finally leaked, however, then we’ll see the evidence.  I am perfectly comfortable that those images exist in the hands of multiple parties hostile to the U.S. . . . and that their existence has been made known to Hillary, very quietly of course.]

The problem for George is that at no time before or after that interview did Stephanopoulos disclose that over three years — 2012, 2013, and 2014 — he had made annual $25,000 contributions to the Clinton Foundation or that he was an active participant in several of its functions.  When confronted, he first dismissed annually giving over half the annual median income of a household of four as chump change, and nothing we ought to worry about.  Moreover, it was just part of his larger charitable giving program, dontcha know, and he’s just such charitable guy and all that stuff.

There’s only one problem:  At the end of 2010, the Clinton Foundation spun off the vast bulk of its charitable activities and since then has concentrated on activities more properly characterized as Clinton campaign networking.  By 2013 the foundation spent less than 15% of its revenue on charitable grants; in contrast, over 60% of its expenses are characterized as just “other.”  So whatever else George Stephanopoulos’s $75,000 in chump change was paying for, it sure as hell wasn’t much charity at all.

ABC has already doubled down, vigorously defending their standard-bearer and declining to do anything more than promise he won’t “moderate” a GOP presidential debate.

If the GOP has a lick of sense about it, they’ll categorically refuse to permit this hack to come anywhere near a 2016 presidential debate.  Which means he’ll do ’em all, of course.

All the Old Nonsense is New Again

Twenty-odd years ago someone came up with the assertion that it was impossible for someone from a “minority” to be racist, because racism is by definition an aspect of a unidirectional power relationship, and not a mind-set, a frame of reference, or even a visceral animosity.  If I can exercise no power over you, then necessarily I am incapable of racism towards you.  “You,” by the way, is defined by group affiliation (an affiliation which I claim the right to assign, incidentally).  It thus follows that even though I can treat the guy bringing me my lunch at the restaurant like shit, if he’s a member of a group over which I deny the ability to exercise “power” (or “privilege,” the new and ill-defined term used in its place), then I can lord it over you to my heart’s content based on your skin color and all with a clean conscience.

I cannot recall if it was Leonard Jeffries, enjoying his taxpayer-funded gig at CUNY, who came up with that precise formulation of the idea, but if he didn’t he should have.  He peddles, among other notions, that of whites as “ice people,” who are genetically violent and oppressive, and blacks as “sun people” who are genetically peaceful and compassionate.  This is  one excrescence of something going by the name “melanin theory.”  Wikipedia describes it as a “pseudo-science,” and it gets the “pseudo-” part only because there is one tiny little grain of truth in it:  “white,” by which is meant “Caucasian” hued skin is in fact the result of a genetic mutation which seems, as I understand, to have occurred after the first humans left Africa.  All humans once had skin much closer in color to today’s sub-Saharan Africans.  And then at some point in the DNA history up cropped the “white” mutation.  Since having very dark skin was not a particularly helpful trait for those humans living outside of sub-Saharan Africa (and let’s recall for a moment that humans didn’t evolve all over Africa, but rather in that part of it comparatively near the equator, where the sun is at its most intense), the mutant strain didn’t select out of the population.  By the way, humans aren’t the only ones to evidence the dropping of a gene that is no longer of assistance; there is (I read this years ago in The Economist) a species of wild dog on New Guinea which used to be domesticated.  The gene for tail-wagging has sifted out of that species after it went wild again, and so they, like other wild canids, do not wag their tails as does your labradoodle.

I have to wonder how Jeffries accounts for, say, the Japanese, or the Amish . . . or the Hutu and Tutsi.  Imagine that:  In 1994 over the course of 100 days or so an entire genetically peaceful and compassionate ethnic group so revolted against its genetic coding as to slaughter 900,000 of its neighbors, whose skin is nearly precisely the same color as theirs.

Suffice it to say that Jeffries is enjoying his taxpayer-funded (and that’s New York City, state, and federal funds, since CUNY receives funding from all three sources and one dollar is fungible with all others) position to put out a load of “Afrocentric” clap-trap that is doing no one any favors but himself.

Demonstrating that one of the hallmarks of idiocy and fraud is recrudescence, we now have a point-blank statement of the principle from Great Britain.  Some weeks ago the student union at Goldsmiths University in London sponsored a function.  The university’s “diversity officer” (alas, that title is genuine; there really does appear to be such a person), perhaps not understanding the word “diversity,” posted on the union’s Facebook page a curious appendix to the event announcement:  If you’re male, or white, do not come to this event.  This is for “BME” (whatever the hell that means) and “non-binary” people (what-really-ever the hell that means) only.  Because diversity, you know.  Notice, by the way, that white women are also specifically uninvited; that’s important to recall in light of the quotation I’m about to share with you.

As anyone with enough to sense to make anything of his/her life other than become a “diversity officer” could have foreseen, the rational world exploded at this — well, frankly racist exclusion based upon skin color, and sexist exclusion based upon genitals.  Even the WaPo picked the story up.  The diversity officer in question then proceeds to dig her hole even deeper:

“I want to explain why this [people pointing out that her actions betray both racism and sexism] is false. I, an ethnic minority woman, cannot be racist or sexist towards white men, because racism and sexism describes structures of privilege based on race and gender.  And therefore women of colour and minority genders cannot be racist or sexist because we do not stand to benefit from such a system.”

She really said that.  She really used the expression “minority genders.”  Presumably she wasn’t talking about females, since they’re not quite 51% of the gross human population.  And we know that she’s not talking about males, since she hates them based upon their genitals.  Presumably there are multiple genders out there which are “minority”.  Now, she identifies as an “ethnic minority woman,” and based on that she’s on the wrong end of at least one “structure[] of privilege based on . . . gender.”  Of course, white women are also on the wrong end of any such “structures of privilege based on . . . gender,” but she specifically disinvited them as well.  On what could that disinvitation be based if not racism?  Oh, but they’re white, and so they cannot be victims of “structures of privilege based on race.”  I guess white women are to be left to sort things out for themselves in respect of the structures of privilege based on gender.  Notice that she only claims that she cannot be racist or sexist towards white men; do I sense an admission that she can be racist towards white women?

Oh dear, how does a human mind get so confused?  We cannot say for sure, but whatever the cause if you try to wade through her self-description you realize the rot has gone deep:  “I am particularly interested in looking at the gendered body in Japanese pornographic anime and horror through a Foucauldian framework in order to analyse the West’s gaze upon a world it attempts to categorize.  My politics are intersectional, queer, feminist, anti-racist . . . I am a working class, Turkish Cypriot, queer, disabled woman and activist.”  If by “disabled” she means “gibbering lunatic,” then I suppose that may explain some of it.

I guess it’s a good thing that no one outside the West — oh, say, for example, the Wahabis in Saudi Arabia or the Taliban in Afghanistan or the Hindu in India — attempt to “categorize” the “gendered body.”  No, in Saudi Arabia they just won’t let people wearing a vagina drive a car or hold a job.  In Afghanistan they’ll throw acid in the “gendered” face for the crime of exposing it to God’s sunshine and fresh air.  And in India entire gangs of men will enjoy themselves on some teenage “gendered body” before hanging her by the neck in a tree.  And in Southeast Asia they’ll sell pre-pubescent “gendered bodies” to brothels to be whored out to bus-loads of middle-aged Southeast Asian men (and Europeans and Americans who also travel to those places for precisely those purposes; at least in That Awful West we try to arrest them on their return if we can catch them at it).

Maybe Miss Mustafa can move to New York City and shack up with Leonard Jeffries.  They can “categorize” each other’s “gendered bodies” and condole each other that it’s all Whitey’s fault.

[Update 20 May 15]:  Apparently using Twitter hashtags like #killallwhitemen does not constitute racism, under Comrade Mustafa’s rules.  Problem for her is that the students at her university might not agree.  They’re gathering signatures for a vote of no confidence in her.

It’s Why You Don’t Paint in Primary Colors Only

The world does not come and never has come in exclusively primary colors.  Fact.  If you try to paint the world, either as it now exists, as it used to exist, or as it may in the future exist, solely in primary colors, you’re simply not going to produce a useful depiction of reality.

Thinking in a manner similar to painting in primary colors likewise does not permit you to form a usefully accurate understanding of the world.  I say “usefully accurate” because the world is just too complicated a place for anyone fully to comprehend everything important about it.  Not going to happen, not in terms of the present, the past, or the future.  Fact.  Every level of cognitive engagement with the world is a simplification.  Pretty much every last one of us uses — whether consciously or not — sorting mechanisms, decisional algorithms, categories of perception that are both under- and over-inclusive.  You can easily recognize the guy who doesn’t use those mental tools to navigate reality:  He’s the guy standing on the street corner who doesn’t know whether to shit or go blind, because every last impression he takes in, every last decision he makes, requires him to start from scratch.

So much for my daily statement of the obvious.  I’m pretty good at it, wouldn’t you say?

Race.  It’s like sniffing glue for the thoughtful and law-abiding.  We know that the preoccupation with race, the endless agonizing and hashing over its meaning, its history, its sociological, economic, and political implications, it is little more than poisonous to both our society and our polity, no matter what group the person contemplating or yammering on about it happens to be from.  And yet — that street thug, gun-running, perjurious criminal Eric Holder to the contrary notwithstanding — we can’t stop talking about it.  You’d think that race, either in the abstract or in its concrete setting here in the U.S., where the public discussion has dated at least since the 1780s, when the Quakers were presenting petitions to the Confederation Congress and that Congress was outlawing slavery in the Northwest Ordinance, is something about which there is bugger all new left to say.  For myself, I cannot recall the last time I heard anything said about race that was both interesting and true that I hadn’t heard countless times before.

This article strikes me as just another installment.  “What a Truly Honest Discussion of Race Would Look Like,” over at Townhall.com, is a good reminder that the subject of human bondage is much greater than the story of sub-Saharan Africans who got scooped up and carted off (so to speak) to the English colonies in North America.  Those who would pretend that it is are painting in primary colors.

I ought not disparage the article’s author for pointing out what most any person with the least understanding of world history already long since knows.  I shouldn’t do it because there are so few people who have any curiosity to acquire the least understanding of that history.  So when the author points out that the very word “slave” derives from precisely the same word as “Slav,” and that that’s no accident because for so many centuries that’s what Slavs were viewed as, it might enlighten no small number of people.  I wish he’d mentioned that the slave markets of Constantinople were very much going concerns as late as 1867, when Mark Twain visited the city.  He cites to several studies (presumably scholarly) about the institution of slavery in North Africa.  There the slave-masters were not sub-Saharan Africans but the mish-mash of Arabs and other ethnic groups spread along the littoral, all of them having more or less two things in common: (i) they were fanatical Muslims, and (ii) they made their living from piracy and plunder.  I’m not sure, though, that slavery in that area of the world has much to teach simply because you could escape slavery by turning Muslim.  The status of slave was not an inherited condition; in fact, I’m not sure that slaves there were even really permitted to reproduce to any marked extent (I’d be fascinated to see more on that subject).

The article’s author cites to that tiresome professor of grievance studies, Henry Louis Gates, for the observations that most of the actual enslavement — that is, the forcible conversion of free men and women into permanent captives held to involuntary labor — was the work of sub-Saharan Africans.  The pitiful survivors of the Middle Passage, in other words, were slaves well before they ever reached the coast and saw their first slave ship.  Our author also quotes the figure of 388,000 who “were shipped to America.”  Wait a minute:  Is he talking about the colonies that later became the U.S?  If so then I can perhaps accept that 388,000 number.  But I mean, really, what does it matter whether it was 388,000 or 388,000,000?  They and their descendants were in fact held in bondage and that bondage was in fact in the form of chattel slavery (as opposed to serfdom; the African slaves were never glebae adscripti).  I’m not aware of any context in which the Meaning of African Slavery in North America can be a function of the precise or even imprecise number of Africans shipped here.  By like token what can it possibly matter that free Africans voluntarily came to North America as early at 1513?  Or that, in Central America and Florida, at least, thousands of slaves escaped to become Cimaroons?  If the point is that not all of black experience is captured in the arc of chattel slavery, then . . . well, not all of British experience during World War II is captured during the weeks of the London Blitz.  So what’s your point?

More interesting, because it undercuts the primary-color palette of white-people-bad-black-people-good (the sort of horse shit trafficked in by that charlatan Leonard Jeffries), is the mention of the black slave owners of the American South.  Yes, there were some.  It that connection, however, it’s important to bear in mind that a large number, if not nearly all — of them would have been free blacks who bought their wives and children out of bondage (and if the particular state’s laws forbade manumission, then the wife’s and children’s legal status as slave would not have changed).  There were some very large-scale black slave-owners, however, mostly in South Carolina and New Orleans.  Way back in college I wrote a term paper on, among others, a biography of one of them, a William Ellison, who started life as a slave, learned the trade of cotton gin manufacture and repair, bought his own freedom, and by his death was in the 95th percentile of all slave owners.  Black Masters: A Free Family of Color in the Old South is a very interesting read, not only for just the main story, but also as a cross-bearing on the rest of the slave system.

The article also talks about the unfree white laborers who until the later 1600s formed the bulk of the unfree population of Virginia (South Carolina wasn’t settled until the late 1660s-70s; Charleston was founded in 1670 and Boone Hall, the famous avenue-of-oaks joint, dates only to 1682).  As related in Edmund S. Morgan’s American Slavery, American Freedom, the transition from predominately white to eventually-exclusively black unfree labor was gradual and had a great deal to do with economics, health, and land settlement laws.  Not to put too fine a point on it, but until a newly-arrived unfree laborer could be expected to survive what they euphemistically called “seasoning,” there was no reason to pay fee simple prices for a slave when you could take a seven-year lease on an Irish girl who’d be dead long before you had to give her her freedom and enough goods to set up housekeeping.  You also got “headrights” — 50 acres of land — for each indentured servant you brought over (it was your land, though, and not the servant’s).  Until 1699 in Virginia you also got headrights for slaves imported; but by that time slavery had thoroughly established itself as the overwhelmingly dominant labor system.

Indentured servants were in fact subject to many if not most of the awful conditions the slaves experienced.  You could in most colonies legally maim an indentured servant — chop off a toe or a finger — for minor transgressions.  I’m not aware that you could legally kill an indentured servant, while on the other there was little if any practical limitation on killing a slave.  I’m sure that technically killing a slave was illegal homicide, but I’d be surprised to find out it was enforced in any but the most sickeningly egregious cases.

All in all, this article reminds me more than a little of the discussion of the history of slavery in North America set out in The Redneck Manifesto, a book that would be a great deal more interesting if the author understood some very basic facts about economics.  His early chapters on the joint experience of poor whites and black slaves in 17th Century Virginia are worth a read (even though his later unhinged rants about fiscal and economic policy and law suggests a grain of salt be taken with those earlier chapters as well).  In Goad’s telling, it was Bacon’s Rebellion (1676), pitting the unfree and downtrodden against the planter elite, which awoke that elite to the necessity of dividing the blacks and the whites from each other.  According to him, the laws penalizing what we can generically describe as “fraternization” between the groups date from the aftermath of the rebellion, and the history of race relations since has been the systematic and basically fraudulent effort to prevent poor whites and poor blacks from combining, either economically or politically, to threaten the elites’ hegemony.  That may be the case; it’s been 30 years since I last read Morgan in detail, and the better part of 15 years since I read Goad.  And certainly more than one author has described very well how one of the side effects of slavery was the creation and perpetuation of an entire class of absolutely dirt-poor, un-landed, prospect-less whites (the expression “white trash” originated in the slave quarters to describe them).  But on one point Goad is entirely correct:  The plantation elite had every intention of dominating Virginia’s society and economy, and they had no intention at all of sharing that power with anyone of any color or condition of servitude.

But for all the tu quoque in this article, what is the point?  You just can’t get around the fact that the experience of sub-Saharan Africans and their descendants in North America has been qualitatively different from that of any other group, and that the implications of that history are still playing themselves out.  I disagree with most of the left-extremists on just how those implications are playing out.  But just as the experiences of aboriginal Americans today would be unthinkable without the history of the reservation system, so also the present-day experiences of the Africans’ descendants would be unthinkable had their ancestors come here and lived here as free men.  Wherever else we would be, it wouldn’t be where we are.

So while it’s good to remind people occasionally that you can’t paint in primary colors, what does that tell me about how to understand a painting?

We’ve Arrived at the Ad Absurdum

The other day a television-and-internet talking head named Mark Halperin, who has his own web-based show and regularly appears on Joe Scarborough’s morning television talking-head gab-fest, interviewed a Republic presidential candidate.

Before we continue, I understand Comrade Halperin is Jewish.  Under normal circumstances that would be utterly irrelevant, even less so than whether he sits down to pee.

But circumstances aren’t normal, and that blaring of the irony alarm, as the needle roars past the red line, will suggest to the astute that, yes, it’s precisely Comrade Halperin who’s joyfully participated in making them not normal.

Identity politics.

It’s how we got Dear Leader as our president, twice.  It’s why we have to fear a President Hillary Clinton.  It’s why, for that matter, we never had a President Al Smith.  It’s why, year after year, election after election, Black America votes Democrat at 90%+ margins.  It’s how we got Point No. 4 of the National Socialist German Worker’s Party platform of 1920.  It’s how the Scottish National Party now owns all but two of the Scottish seats in Parliament.  It’s why there was a Dixiecrat Party in 1948.  It’s why the British had Test Acts for hundreds of years.

The central tenet of identity politics is that who you are dictates — and ought to dictate — how you exercise whatever political rights you have.

The rise of explicit identity politics in the United States represents a subtle shift in the system of political organization that FDR left as his most pernicious legacy.  It was FDR, Gentle Reader will recall, who realized that if you promise enough Stuff to enough divergent groups, you can put together a coalition that will, notwithstanding none of them come anywhere close to representing a working majority, nonetheless together be able to seize and maintain power.  And the beauty is that each group need have no other tie of interest or sentiment to the others.  Unions?  Hand ’em the Wagner Act and Davis-Bacon.  The industry the unions are busy wrecking?  Throw up enough barriers to entry and other anti-competitive regulation (think of it as an internal tariff wall) and they can pass the increased costs of unionization along to their customers.  “The Poor”?  Hello, welfare state (and by the way, the Cloward-Piven Strategy is nothing more than a formal proposal for logical pursuit of the FDR Doctrine to its conclusion).  Atheistic people of such internal emptiness that they’re searching for a faith, any faith, to latch onto?  Here’s your very own federal agency, the EPA.  Agro-industry?  Try farm policy that strongly suggests it was the Soviets who won the Cold War.

For many years, in fact until the 1990s, the FDR Coalition held together and worked, at least if you mean by “worked” that it retained power at the federal level.  It not only for decades at a time held onto the reins of legislative political power, it permeated the academy, the courts, the entertainment business, and the mainstream media.  Since 1932, even when the other party has managed to grab hold of power, it’s only been in Congress and only for incredibly brief moments — 1954 to 1958, I think, and from 1994 to 2000, and then from 2002 to 2006; it’s never made any notable inroads into the other main theaters of political expression.

It is a legitimate question whether the FDR Coalition’s days are numbered.  The first reason is that, as Margaret Thatcher observed about socialism in general, eventually you run out of other people’s money.  For decades the federal government could and did tirelessly spend more than it made.  It could always borrow more, always run the printing presses.  As Inspector Clouseau would say, not any more.  With over $16 trillion in debt, and spending levels — expressed in terms of percentage of GDP — not seen since the immediate post-World War II era, the money’s just not there any more.  When, as Mitt Romney had the impudence to point out, 94% of your new sovereign debt is being “bought” by your central bank, “At that point you’re just making it up.”  Romney was right.  We are just making it up, and you can’t run an economy forever with a currency that is imaginary.

The second reason that the FDR Coalition’s continued viability may be questioned is the rise of identity politics.  Note the interest groups which FDR cobbled together:  With two exceptions they weren’t groups of who people were, but rather what they did.  You’re not born a union member; your identity as a farmer is a function of . . . you know, farming.  Stop farming and you’re not a farmer any more.  All those industries protected from competition by hedgerows of regulation aren’t in those industries by any sort of predestination.  The tree-huggers aren’t born that way; you choose to join the NRDC.  The two exceptions to the above pattern are blacks and Jews.  The former because they are used to being exploited and the power brokers of the Democrat party were Southerners more than happy to ride them like a rented mule; the latter because again you have the cultural legacy of allowing yourself to be plundered for others’ benefit.

Today’s identity politics are much less about what you do, and much more about who you are.  The groupings span areas of political and economic activity in a way the old ones didn’t, which means they compete against each other in ways that they didn’t.  Back in the day General Motors really didn’t concern itself with agricultural policy, except to the extent that it did or didn’t expand its market for its products.  Different groups with nominally opposed interests could achieve a cynical symbiosis, in the fashion of Baptists and bootleggers:  Heavy industry and the tree-huggers have more than a bit of that in their relationship:  Throw up enormously costly regulatory burdens which everyone in the industry has to comply with, and the existing players can (in fact, must) then pass on all the costs, which means no single player is penalized relative to the others, but new entrants will effectively be barred because there’s no way they can both survive the lean years of start-up and conform to all these regulations.  But (at least to the extent you accept all these “identities” as legitimate) a black is a black is a black will never be East Asian will never be Mexican will never be South Asian, no matter how that specific individual makes his living.  Under the new identity politics, a black farmer is not a farmer who is black, he’s a black who just happens to farm.  He will evaluate any particular policy X not in terms of whether it’s good for all farmers, or even black farmers, but rather whether it’s good for blacks, whether or not they farm.

All of which is to say that the new identity politics assumes, almost necessarily so, a much more viciously zero-sum dynamic of the world.  If South Asians are to flourish, it can only be at the expense of some other group(s) X, Y, and/or Z.  Notice also that the zero-sum aspect of life spreads like a cancer.  Just by way of example, now, instead contenting itself with merely setting up regulatory barriers to market entrants, the green zealot crowd wants to know why it can’t just go ahead and destroy Industry X outright.

One outgrowth of modern identity politics is the resurgence of the trial for heresy, although this time around (at least for the time being) it’s not a government-sponsored proceeding.  It’s not enough simply to show that you are, by whatever criteria, a “member” of Group X.  No, nowadays you must be “authentically” a member of Group X, and it’s the self-appointed gate-keepers who determine whether you are.  If you fail to satisfy them, you are cast into outer darkness, rejected by your identity-group but unable to be accepted into anyone else’s because from birth you lack that identity trait.  Just ask Tim Scott, Mia Love, Thomas Sowell, Ben Carson, or Allen West what it’s like to be tried for group heresy.  [I’ll note that the insistence that government pigeon-hole all of us into specific identity groupings is at the least a precursor to group heresy becoming a matter with which government concerns itself.  Remind me how that worked out last time.  Anyone remember Hermann Goering’s statement when he concocted a new lineage for Field Marshal Erhard Milch (whose father was Jewish)?  “I decide who is a Jew.”]

And of course, once you begin whacking the population up into groups, there’s no logical place to stop.  The groups get more and more finely sorted, each demanding that policies be put in place which advance its members, or which the (invariably self-appointed) “leadership” of that group alleges will advance its members.  And if not advancement, then the suppression of the competing groups.

The natural tendency of this is toward societal entropy and political anarchy.

And absurdity.  As we now see on university campuses, the mere presence on campus of someone from the Out Group is taken as the equivalent of  actual physical violence.  Thank God at least some college students aren’t having it.  A few days ago, as mentioned above, we enjoyed the spectacle of a Jewish talking head interviewing Ted Cruz, whose father was born in Cuba, and demanding that Cruz “prove” he’s “really Cuban.”  For starts, huh?  I wasn’t aware that Cruz was running for Castro’s job.  I thought he was running for U.S. President.  But Halperin — the talking head in question — goes, as one Twitter feed has observed, “full racist” on the subject, interviewing Ted Cruz and expecting Ricky Ricardo.  Needless to say, this has not resonated at all well with any number of people, on both ends of the ideology spectrum.  Twitter is collecting people’s suggestions for questions that Halperin can ask of the other candidates to prove up their identity bona fides.  Among my favorites are the one for Sen. Warren, asking how she applies her war paint, or for Dr. Carson, asking whether he prefers watermelon or fried chicken.  Or for Halperin himself, asking where he hides his Jew gold (hell’s bells, we might as well go full blood-libel on him and ask if he’s recently used the blood of any Christian children while desecrating the Host).

Of course, this descent into identity madness offers the Republican party an enormous opportunity, if it’s collectively smart enough to seize it.  Its challenge is so to conduct itself, and so to present itself, that it can demonstrate to the voters at large — and especially those who are put off by all this my-ass-is-blackest demagoguery — that it genuinely takes seriously the motto “E pluribus Unum.”  What it cannot credibly do is play the identity game with the left-extremists.  Cruz, I think, gets that much:  He politely declined Halperin’s invitation to welcome Bernie Sanders to the race in Spanish.

Exit bonus question:  Does anyone really expect Mark Halperin to suffer any consequences for what would have already got him fired and ostracized, had he done the same to Dear Leader or any other Democrat?

I Wonder if the Supreme Court Heard These Arguments

When the parties were arguing for or against the notion of homosexual “marriage.”

Via Instapundit, we have a contribution from Breibart.com’s British site.  “Attack of the Killer Dykes!” doesn’t really sound like much more than click-bait as a headline, but what caught my attention was the squib:  “Lesbian violence is poorly understood because it is poorly researched, and poorly researched because it makes the gay lobby deeply uncomfortable. We’re not supposed to admit that any kind of gay relationship might have a dark side. It’s all unicorns and Mariah Carey, as far as charities, politicians and the media are concerned.”

So I clicked through and read the article.  While reading it I realized it was written by a British author (references to “mum” and English spellings like “colour” were give-aways) before I noticed the Union Jack on which the Breitbart logo was superimposed.  In truth, even had the URL not contained “London” and had there been no conspicuous non-Americanisms in the text, I think I’d have figured out it was a Brit just by the unapologetic tone of the piece, its willingness to call things by their correct names, its vinegar-laced humor, and its playful use of cacophemism.


“If you’ve ever heard of a gruesome murder in your neighbourhood in which the short-haired victim was beaten savagely with a rolled-up copy of Saga magazine and then strangled with a jock strap, it’s probably not some terrifying new sadistic white male serial killer, but rather another dyke domestic that got out of hand.”

“We know, for instance, that black women experience intimate partner violence at rates 35 per cent higher than white women. And those girls know how to swing! So the real figure for lesbian batterings is much higher than we know.”

“It’s not like they’re in it for the sex. Maybe it’s the faint whiff of cat sick, maybe the chafing of polyester bedsheets, but it’s well known that lesbians stop having sex after the first few months and retreat into hobbies like softball, vegetarianism, penis envy and Twitter.”

“Who knows. Perhaps these women don’t know what they’re getting themselves into, and imagine that lesbian relationships are a blissful domestic idyll, rather than the hellish reality of being kicked to death by someone in sensible shoes.”

Maybe it’s because as an American I’ve just been brain-washed into thinking in terms of identity politics, but reading the article I was thinking this guy’s laying into the homosexuals with perhaps excessive vigor.  Got me to thinking just who he is.  So I clicked through on his byline link at the top of the article.  Milo Yiannapoulos is his name, and he seems to be regular Breitbart.com contributor.  He’s got some hilariously truthful articles there, like his “A Lexicon of Social Justice“.  Some favorite entries from which:

Dominant culture
The stuff people actually like. Not to be confused with taxpayer-funded lesbian performance art, which would surely break all Box Office records if only more people got to see it.”

Glass ceiling
My career isn’t doing as well as I think it should be, because I’m an insufferable, hateful, jealous bore, and I am looking for someone to blame.”

A psychiatric disorder reimagined as a ‘civil rights issue’ because we’ve literally run out of things to complain about.”

Read, as Instapundit frequently encourages, the whole thing.

But what really caught my eye were two other of his articles that also showed up:  “I’m Sooo Bored of Being Gay” and “Kids Need a Mum and a Dad,” in the latter of which he describes himself as a “party-hard homosexual.”  Do what?  Having read both of them it seems to be the case:  His piece on lesbian (and to a lesser extent, male homosexual) domestic violence isn’t just some hit-piece content “sponsored” by the Westboro Baptist Church.  Whatever his stated reasons for his homosexuality may be (in his “Sooo Bored” he makes a joking reference to having decided to be homosexual in order to offend his parents), and whatever his thoughts may be about the implications his life choices (I’m willing to accept that homosexual inclination is something you may be born with, but living as a “practicing” homosexual, just like living as a “practicing” heterosexual, is very much an affirmative choice) for his personal existence, he goes out of his way not to wear blinders about that part of the world he lives in.

I like someone who makes an effort not to entertain illusions about himself and those things he chooses to be a part of.  I’m in large measure something of a redneck.  I’m also an introvert, a P. G. Wodehouse fan, and something of a school snob.  At least as to that last, I know I ought not be, and I know that school snobbery is more than a little bit like people who manage to work into every damned conversation the fact that 35 years ago they set their high school’s single-season passing yardage record.  Pathetic, in other words.  I freely acknowledge the underside of redneckery; I admit my inclinations, to the extent that I have them, in those directions; and I likewise confess myself not always having the moral strength of character to resist them.  And so forth.  With Wodehouse there arises within one the warm glow of the Initiate.  One goes through life feeling alternately pity and scorn for those who have never heard of The Great Sermon Handicap, or drunk with The Oldest Member, or who have never gone into a bar, looking for a brass foot rail with a silent prayer to St. Galahad Threepwood in their heart.

[You can’t grow up reciting the General Confession from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer and still cherish an unblemished self-image:

“Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Maker of all things, Judge of all men; We acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness, Which we, from time to time, most grievously have committed, By thought, word, and deed, Against thy Divine Majesty, Provoking most justly thy wrath and indignation against us. We do earnestly repent, And are heartily sorry for these our misdoings; The remembrance of them is grievous unto us; The burden of them is intolerable. Have mercy upon us, Have mercy upon us, most merciful Father; For thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, Forgive us all that is past; And grant that we may ever hereafter Serve and please thee In newness of life, To the honour and glory of thy Name; Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”]

So I went back and re-read the article on lesbian domestic violence.  I even clicked through on the link to the Puffington Host article cited.  “Shocking” statistics on domestic (or what now seems to be called “intimate partner” violence, presumably to cover as well those couples who beat, torment, and kill each other without ever actually shacking up together) are paraded before us.  [Aside:  Any headline which contains the word “shocking” is to be treated as presumptively heralding an out-pouring of mountebankery until proven otherwise.  The Weather Channel’s website is especially offensive in this particular, and the only reason I still patronize them is because I haven’t found one that’s easier to use and not just as bad or worse.]

The PH’s article starts off, predictably enough, with some nice context-free false equivalence:  “The number of American troops killed in Afghanistan and Iraq between 2001 and 2012 was 6,488. The number of American women who were murdered by current or ex male partners during that time was 11,766. That’s nearly double the amount of casualties lost during war.”  How many different individual American servicemembers were in Iraq and Afghanistan during those twelve years, in places where they were realistically exposed to combat operations?  Maybe a few hundred thousand?  And how many different American women during that same period were in adult (in other words, post-high-school) relationships with men during that period?  Maybe 100,000,000 or more (a girl ten years old in 2001 would have been 22 in 2012, so you’ve got the better part of an entire generation of female Americans added to the population pool during that time)?  Also overlooked is the fact that American troops are, you know, armed to the teeth to protect themselves, while tens of millions of women were denied their most basic civil and human right — self-defense — by the sorts of anti-gun demagoguery pumped up by precisely outfits like the Puffington Host.  Whatever.

Then we get to the statistics.  I am entirely comfortable each and every one of those numbers quoted by the PH is valid, in the sense that it is a usefully accurate quantitative measure of the sociological phenomenon described.  On the other hand, you have to pay very close attention when left-extremists begin citing statistics.  Thomas Sowell years ago drew attention to the archetypal technique employed to confuse the discussion of X of Y per unit of Z.  When attempting to extract money from the productive classes in order — allegedly — to fight black poverty, the figure of black income-per-household is cited to paint a picture of continuously unfolding disaster; when what is desired is to show the effectiveness of various “affirmative action” and racial preferences and thereby extract money from the productive classes to hand it over to what Sowell helpfully describes as the “pet constituencies,” the figure of black income-per-capita is given.  And never is highlighted the distinction between the two.

The PH’s statistics are mostly strictly American numbers (there are a couple which are expressly world-wide figures, and several that specifically reference the U.S., but most are silent).  But let’s put some context underneath it all.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, on Census Day in 2010 the gross U.S. population was 308,745,538.  Their age-and-sex data shows that 156,964,212, or 50.8% of the total, were female.  Of those women, 16,322,308, or 10.4%, were born in 1940 or earlier.  That’s helpful to keep in mind, because I’m going to suggest that, whether better or worse, the world inhabited by adult women before 1960 was qualitatively different from that developing and existing after 1960.  Not to put too fine a point on it, but there was a lot of shit doled out to women back in the day which is now recognized much more widely, and sincerely, as just unacceptable than it used to be.

A further note on the PH’s numbers.  You’ll observe that not many reflect the data on heterosexual “intimate partner violence” experienced by men, although there is quite a bit of data out there on the subject.  It shows that men experience it at rates very similar to women, although the injuries suffered by women tend to be more severe (as you’d expect, given the physiological differences between the sexes).  Just by way of example, the U.S. Secretary of Defense the other day announced the annual sexual assault data for the U.S. Armed Forces.  More men reported unwanted sexual contact during the previous year than did women.  Huh?  Further, when you factor in the personal violence experienced by men of all sorts, you begin to realize that American women, even when you include their personal physical risk from their “intimate partners,” are overall safer in their persons than men are by several orders of magnitude.

38,028,000 women have experienced some form of “intimate partner” violence at any point in their lives.  That makes 24.2% of all women who have experienced it, ever.  I’d be interested to know the age break-down of that 38 million.  If it’s concentrated in the upper age ranges, what that tells me is that the problem is getting better instead of worse.  If the other way around, then we need to be asking ourselves why, in a post-1960s world, when overall violence of all types is going down, this one subset of it should be getting more, rather than less, prevalent.

1,509 women were killed in 2011 by men they knew, of whom 926 were killed by an intimate partner (who was, we are invited to assume, male).  That’s 926 women killed in one year, out of roughly 157 million women, or 59 ten-thousandths of one percent of the female population.  During 2002-2009, there were an average of 3,533 non-boating drowning deaths per year, 80% of whom were age 15 or over, and 80% of all of whom were male, meaning an average of 565 or so women ages 15 or over in the U.S. died each year by drowning.  In fact, women overall have a higher risk of death by drowning than men.  Booze, the by the way, figures in 70% of all drowning deaths (no sex-correlation is given for that data point).  The FBI shows 2,813 total female homicide victims for 2011, so familiar killers accounted for 53.6% of the total, and intimate partners for 32.9%, or almost exactly one-third.  But this is why the PH really should have put some context around it:  In 2011, there were 9,829 male homicide victims, almost 3.5 times as many.

And now we get to see some subtle presto-chango from the PH:  Every minute 20 “people” are the victim of intimate partner violence.  Well, how many of those 20 are female and how many male?

4,774,000 women will “experience intimate partner violence” during the course of a year.  Let’s couple that with 1 in 4 women will experience “severe” domestic partner violence, and 1 in 7 men will experience “severe” domestic partner violence.  “Severe” is not defined, but I’m going to assume that it is, well, severe enough to require medical attention.  Thus, a scratched male face would not be severe, but a spiral fracture of a woman’s forearm, or a female shoulder wrenched from the socket would be.  What I’d like to see is a male counterpart to that 4,774,000 figure.  Why the “severe” comparison but no gross-numbers comparison?  Well, the latter comparison is meant to suggest that men are overall exposed to less domestic violence, when all it really does is highlight the entirely expectable result of the overall physical strength imbalance between the sexes.  Including the male-victim gross numbers would make that plain.  And left-extremists are never, ever about being plain.

40-45% of women in “physically abusive” relationships are raped and/or sexually assaulted during the course of the relationship.  What does “physically abusive” mean?  Does it mean a relationship in which there has ever been a manifestation of physical violence, ever, or does it mean more than X instances of physical violence total or at least X instances during any particular period?  By the way, note that over half of physically abusive relationships don’t result in a sexual offense.  Does that throw any light on the feminist claim that rape is not a sexual offense but a power-relationship offense?  I mean, trying to think my way into the head of a man who’d make a habit of beating his woman — surely about as crude an expression of power-exploitation as you can imagine? — if rape is just one more aspect of power-exploitation rather than an expression of perverted sexual lust, would I not have frequent recourse to it?

And then we get to Yiannapoulos’s cited figures:  2 in 5 — that’s 40% — of male homosexuals will experience intimate partner violence during their lives.  That’s a two-thirds greater statistical likelihood for them than for all women as a group.  Among lesbians, fully 50% will experience “domestic violence” (which the PH goes out of its way to assure us may not be “intimate partner” violence . . . why tell us that, and why not just give the “intimate partner” data?) during their lives, exactly double the overall female population expectation.

Perhaps inadvertently, the PH then provides some context to that 38,028,000 figure, although they shove it in way at the bottom of the column so as to discourage the comparison.  World-wide, not 24.2% of the female population can expect to experience intimate partner violence, but full 70%.  Suddenly all us Awful Americans don’t look so bad.  I have just one question for the pro-al-Qaeda left-extremists:  Does female genital mutilation of small girls count as “domestic violence”?

Another article linked by Yiannopoulos contains some alarming data points.  Somewhere between 17% and 45% of all lesbians report being the victim of at least one act of violence perpetrated by a female partner.  That’s from somewhat less than to almost double the rate of “intimate partner violence” — 24.2% — reported with respect to the gross U.S. female population.  Here’s another: 30% of all lesbians report being the victim of an act specifically of sexual violence by a female partner.  Here we’d better remind ourselves that how the surveyor defines things like “sexual assault” can produce any number desired by the study.  It’s how, for example, we get that 25% of college women will be the victim of sexual assault or worse during their time in college (which is the same as to say that a college woman experiences the same risk of sexual assault during a four-year period that all U.S. women experience of intimate partner violence over their entire lives).  I’d like to see the number of heterosexual women who would report positive according to the same criteria; how would that compare?

The long and short of Yiannapoulos’s article and the others he links to is that homosexual relationships are much more prone to violence than heterosexual relationships.  Period.  That situation seems hard to reconcile with the notion that they are functionally and therefore morally indistinguishable from heterosexual relationships.  That in turn suggests that maybe, just maybe, a state’s refusing to give homosexual relationships equal legal stature by calling a homosexual couple “married” is not just an exercise in bigotry, but may well be very concretely supported by specific physical data.  If the numbers Yiannopoulos cites are good numbers, then I think any constitutional argument about homosexual “marriage” must ask whether it is a legitimate state objective to refuse to encourage domestic relationships so markedly more violent than traditional arrangements.  The state cannot effectively forbid those or any other sort of human relationships; not even the Nazis with the death penalty for “racial defiling” could do that.  But does the fact that the state cannot as a practical matter, and ought not as a legal matter prevent them from arising necessarily command the result that therefore the state must encourage them by granting them a privileged legal status (which is what marriage in fact is)?

That’s not a bigoted question to ask, any more than it is unreasonable to ask whether terminating a biological parent’s rights in respect of his or her minor child by reason of the parent’s drug abuse, or running with violent felons, or other behaviors demonstrably hazardous to small children is a lawful exercise of the state’s protective function in respect of its citizens.

Somehow I don’t reckon any the Supreme Court is going to pay much attention to those data.

When Brilliant People Say Silly Things

Don’t get me wrong.  Stacy Chou, featured in this article in the most recent edition of Wired, has not only an undergraduate degree but also a master’s in computer science, with a specialty in artificial intelligence.  Her day job is coding for Pinterest, and she interned at Google and Facebook before signing on as one of the first 15 employees at Pinterest.  She’s got chops, in other words.  I’m quite satisfied she’s brilliant in ways I don’t even suspect a human can be brilliant.

I’m just some ol’ redneck.

But Comrade Chou is also an “activist.”  And how, whom, or what does she activate?  Well, she’s trying to increase the number of women employed as engineers in Silicon Valley.  Among the 200-odd smaller tech firms who voluntarily responded to a survey she’s organized, she found — just to what extent can this have been news to her or anyone else? — that only a tiny number of the engineers were women.  Sound the diversity klaxon!

She’s also trying to recruit more women directly into her company.  This summer, 21 of 57 interns scheduled to work for Pinterest are women.  And she trots out:  “It’s still not enough.”  Enough?  For someone as hyper-intelligent as she is, she seems to understand very little about either basic human nature or the demographics of the world in which she works and moves.

For starts, specific humans are not random events.  Each of us in the product, to a greater or lesser extent, of everything that has happened to us, every decision we’ve made over the course of our entire lives up through today, starting with the family we were born into and continuing on until this morning.

Secondly, Pinterest and its peers aren’t just hiring people to work the loading dock.  Their hiring criteria are painfully exacting.  Not to put too fine a point on it, but there aren’t a whole lot of Stacy Chous out there to hire, of either sex, of any race, of any age, of any ethnic or national background.  Period.  With folks like Mlle Chou, you’re talking three standard deviations above the mean just in raw mental horsepower, and that’s before you even get to the questions of talent and inclination.  Yes, it’s possible today for people in that field to work closely together from all over the world (a cousin of mine works from home outside San Francisco and his immediate boss works in London; the rest of his team is similarly scattered about the globe), but you still have to find them first, and that takes proximity.  The world is a huge place and the gross number of humans with the requisite mental capacity is finite.  A half-percent of seven billion humans (gross population isn’t at that level yet), which is actually a bit more than the proportion of the gross population at 3+ standard deviations above mean IQ, is 35 million (that same proportion of the U.S. population shakes out to roughly 1.65 million), and those people are scattered everywhere from villages in sub-Saharan Africa to Central Asia to Polynesia to Scandanavia to Dothan, Alabama.  The likelihood of any single one of them finding his or her way to Silicon Valley and even scoring an interview at a top-level tech firm is dauntingly, vanishingly remote.

Thirdly, no one at Pinterest or anywhere else in Silicon Valley is going to hire someone to learn computer engineering on the job.  That’s called learning how to shave on someone else’s face and Silicon Valley has no more money for that sort of indulgence than any other industry.  Nor are they likely to hire someone who’s just a pretty skilled engineer.  They’re looking for the very top layer of the very upper-most crust of the most talented people in the industry.  They’re looking for people who can strap themselves in and immediately launch down the catapult.  Those people don’t just coalesce from thin air sometime during their senior year at college.  Those are the people who’ve already been doing this sort of stuff, not only at school but also as a hobby, in clubs, on their own, for years before they ever darken a door in Silicon Valley.  They’re the kind of people for whom computers and programming are not just a field, but a vocation.  I’d bet that if Mlle Chou polls this summer’s interns, she’ll not only find out that most if not all of those 57 have — just for giggles — written multiple apps of their own, but that a large portion of them wrote their first apps before their junior year in high school.  It takes a long, long time for the talents and drive Pinterest and its peers are looking for to grow within any person.

All of which is to say that the pool of eligible hires for any serious firm in Silicon Valley is not only going to be minuscule, but it will be, even more so than in any other industry, incredibly self-selected.

And here we get to ordinary human nature.  It is neither more nor less an undeniable fact that girls, beginning right at the point in life when that sort of fanatic devotion to an activity begins to manifest itself (my hobby — my consuming passion — from the time I was in 7th grade was designing ships; had I been able to do calculus I’d have majored in naval architecture and this blog wouldn’t exist), girls self-select out of the STEM fields.  They just do.  Sure, some of it’s cultural, but unless Mlle Chou’s got plans she’s not sharing with us, neither she nor anyone else in Silicon Valley is going to be able to change the cultural forces to which 6th grade girls are exposed, either here in the U.S. or in any other country.  Some of it’s not cultural; a few years ago Larry Summers posed the question why there are so many fewer women at the very top of the field of (I think it was) mathematics than there are men.  He posed the question of whether there might be a sex-correlated difference in talent at that level.  Notice he did not say, “women can’t do math” or anything of that nature.  He merely speculated that — at that very highest level of achievement — there may be some physiological sex-correlated achievement differential.  He was crucified for even asking the question; lost his job, if Gentle Reader will recall.  You don’t, however, have to do a whole lot of digging to find credible support for the notion that female and male brains are adapted to different modes of thought and reasoning, that these adaptations lend themselves at different levels to different fields of human endeavor, and that these adaptations express themselves in the differing frequency of the voluntary pursuits of women versus men.  It’s just that simple.

So for Mlle Chou to say that X out of Y engineers’ being female is “not enough” is to assume any number of facts that not only aren’t in evidence, but rather are directly contradicted by some of the most basic facts which are.  Additionally, how the hell can you tell when the number of people exhibiting any arbitrarily selected characteristic is “enough,” when you’re talking about recruiting from a tiny talent pool for an incredibly demanding job?  You know when you have “enough” women, or “enough” blacks, or “enough” Jews, or “enough” left-handed people, or “enough” Pacific islanders?  You have “enough” when your team has sufficient talent to get the job done, right, on time, and within budget.  Then and only then can you say you’ve got “enough” of anyone.  If you can do all that, then, irrespective of what it is you’re looking for, you have enough of it; if you can’t do that, you need more talent and more dedication, not more women.

But then again if Comrade Chou had said that, she wouldn’t be featured in Wired, would she?

If Comrade Chou wants to recruit more women (or more of any arbitrary and largely irrelevant characteristic) into her job field, bully for her.  If her employer is OK with her doing that on the company’s dime, that’s fine too.  It’s their money to squander.  If I were the company’s general counsel I’d jolly well see to it that any such recruitment effort gets assayed over a Bunsen burner to make sure the company doesn’t get itself sued into oblivion by someone not wearing Mlle Chou’s favorite sort of genitals (this is California we’re talking about; if Comrade Chou fails to hire a man who’s had himself surgically mutilated into resembling a “woman” because he’s, you know, still a man, then God help her and her employer).  But to say that some X specimens of anything out of Y total employees is “enough” or “too many” or “woefully inadequate” is nothing more than silly.

Once again we see demonstrated that awe-inspiring levels of intelligence and garden-variety silliness are not mutually exclusive traits.

This Scarcely Required Clairvoyance, But Still . . .

Back at the end of February I linked to an article in The Washington Post about the failure of the Clinton Foundation to disclose some pretty hefty contributions from foreign governments and other foreign affiliates to the Clinton family’s slush fund charitable foundation, all at a time when Hillary Clinton was U.S. Secretary of State and those foreign governments or nationals were actively engaged in discussions with the United States, through the latter’s Department of State, for various sorts of things, generally involving trade concessions, greasing the skids for foreign business interests to do business in the U.S. or with U.S. companies, and so forth.

In my post on that article I lamented that the sleuths had followed the money trail only part of the way.  Specifically I noted that asking where the money came from is only part of the question, and that equally important is the issue of where the money has gone, since “charitable foundations” so easily lend themselves to what ordinary speakers of English would describe as money-laundering.

Some of that sleuthing has now been done, as well as additional digging on the sources of funds.  At the risk of understatement, what has come to light thus far is several orders of magnitude worse than what I’d have imagined back in February.

For starts there’s the Canadian mega-donor, who was flying Bill Clinton around on his private McDonnell-Douglas MD-87.  Frank Giustra first met the former president in 2005 and they quickly became buddies.  Over the years Giustra’s committed in the neighborhood of $100 million to the foundation, placing him firmly among the largest individual donors.  Since 2005 the plane has been used 26 times for foundation business, frequently ferrying Clinton around the world.  None of those trips, each of which is a contribution by a foreign donor, has previously been reported, by the way.  The Washington Post has a nice write-up on the plane and the connections between the Clintons and Giustra.

It’s about well more than an airplane, however.  It seems that Comrade Giustra set up his own “charity” in Canada.  That “charity” has donated quite a bit of money to the Clintons’ slush fund charitable foundation.  There was a 2008 written agreement between Hillary Clinton, the Clintons’ foundation, and the incoming administration of Dear Leader, in which Hillary was to serve as secretary of state, to disclose all foreign donations to the Clintons’ foundation.  Well . . . its seems that while the donations from Giustra’s foundation are disclosed, the identities of over 1,100 foreign donors to Giustra’s foundation remain secret.  Which is to say that without popping open the lid on the Canadian’s foundation we have no way of knowing on which foreign governments’ or actors’ payroll our former U.S. Secretary of State is.

But it gets better.  Ol’ Comrade Giustra owned huge uranium mining interests, including mines in Kazakhstan he acquired in 2005 in a $500 million deal . . . a deal finalized within days after he personally visited with the Kazakh president . . . in the company of one Wm. Jeff’n Clinton, erstwhile U.S. President.  Now, let’s not overlook that in 2005 Clinton was just a former president and his wife a junior senator from New York.  On the other hand, everyone and his cousin knew Hillary was running in 2008 and already three years earlier had been anointed with the mantle of “inevitability” (Dear Leader, of course, hadn’t got that memo).  The Kazakh deal made Giustra a major world-wide player in the uranium mining industry.  The next year Giustra made a $32.7 million donation to the Clintons’ foundation.  But of course Giustra and Clinton both deny Bill had anything to do with getting the deal closed.

Oh, but it gets better.  Let’s follow the thread some more.  In 2007, Giustra merged his uranium mining company — UrAsia — with a company called Uranium One.  Uranium One also happens to control about 20% of America’s domestic production of uranium, a strategic mineral.  Uranium One was headed by a buddy of Giustra’s.  During Hillary’s tenure as U.S. Secretary, Uranium One decided to sell itself to the Russian government in a series of transactions running from 2009 to 2013.  The sale of a company that controlled that much of American uranium required the approval of the U.S. Department of State.  While this deal was being reviewed by State, the chairman of Uranium One donated some $2.35 million to the Clintons’ slush fund foundation, and one of the Russian bankers working that end of it engaged Bill Clinton to deliver a speech in Moscow.  For a nice $500,000 fee, among the largest he ever got.  The State Department approved the deal.  During the deal, Comrade Giustra — remember him? — arranged for senior officials from Kazatomprom (it was involved in the deal from the Kazakh end of things) to visit with the former president at his house in New York.  Confronted with questions about the visit, the Clinton Foundation reflexively lied and said the visit had never occurred . . . until the reporter from The New York Times observed there existed a photograph taken at the meeting, at which point the story changed.  Yes, the meeting had taken place.

That same NYT reporter is the author of a pretty damning report . . . in The Grey Lady, of all places.  “Cash Flowed to Clinton Foundation Amid Russian Uranium Deal” is the headline, which pretty much sums it up.  Recall that this wasn’t a one-off thing.  It was sequence of transactions and during the entire period the cash kept flowing.  Moreover, the State Department was involved in substantially more than just signing off as Russia acquired control over 20% of U.S. production.  Remember those mines in Kazakhstan that Giustra had bought right after a visit from Bill Clinton to the Kazakh president?  Well, those mines were the crown jewels for Uranium One.  Rosatom (the Russian government’s entity) was only interested in the deal if it knew that it could get clear title to those mines.  There was only one problem, however:  In June, 2009, “Mr. Dzhakishev, the head of Kazatomprom, had just been arrested on charges that he illegally sold uranium deposits to foreign companies, including at least some of those won by Mr. Giustra’s UrAsia and now owned by Uranium One.”  Uranium One’s stock value dropped precipitously on the news.  Oopsies.  It turns out, by the way, as we now know from Wikileaks revelations, that the arrest was all part of a Russian move to force acquisition of those Kazakh assets.

So what do you do if you’re Uranium One?  Right:  You call up the U.S. embassy in Kazakhstan and pressure it to get involved.  From the NYT:  “It was against this backdrop that the Vancouver-based Uranium One pressed the American Embassy in Kazakhstan, as well as Canadian diplomats, to take up its cause with Kazakh officials, according to the American cables.  ‘We want more than a statement to the press,’ Paul Clarke, a Uranium One executive vice president, told the embassy’s energy officer on June 10, the officer reported in a cable. ‘That is simply chitchat.’ What the company needed, Mr. Clarke said, was official written confirmation that the licenses were valid.”  Remind me again why the United States embassy to a foreign country is being asked to vouch for the validity of mineral concessions in that foreign country, granted by that country to a corporation that is from yet another foreign country.  On June 10 and 11, 2009, those U.S. embassy officials met with the Kazakh government, and three days later Rosatom closed its first acquisition, of a 17% interest.

And who was the U.S. Secretary of State during this period?  Oh, right:  Hillary Clinton.

Less than a year later, Rosatom made an offer that would give it a 51% stake in Uranium One.  That created some waves in Washington.  There is, it seems, an outfit called the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.  This not some toothless haven for people to whom the president owes the odd political favor.  The members of this committee include the U.S. Attorney General, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Director of Homeland Security, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Commerce, the Secretary of Energy . . . and the Secretary of State.  And they certainly take their jobs seriously.  From that same NYT article:  “When a company controlled by the Chinese government sought a 51 percent stake in a tiny Nevada gold mining operation in 2009, it set off a secretive review process in Washington, where officials raised concerns primarily about the mine’s proximity to a military installation, but also about the potential for minerals at the site, including uranium, to come under Chinese control. The officials killed the deal.”

The Russian deal sailed through, at a time when the Clintons were raking in millions of dollars from people directly interested in the transactions.
“Amid this influx of Uranium One-connected money, Mr. Clinton was invited to speak in Moscow in June 2010, the same month Rosatom struck its deal for a majority stake in Uranium One.”  That would be the $500,000 speaking fee.  But not to worry:  From the NYT, we learn that, “In a statement, Brian Fallon, a spokesman for Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign, said no one ‘has ever produced a shred of evidence supporting the theory that Hillary Clinton ever took action as secretary of state to support the interests of donors to the Clinton Foundation.’”  Well, that’s reassuring.  Notice, by the way, that he does not say it didn’t happen; he says no one has “produced a shred of evidence” that it happened.  You really do have to parse these people’s words carefully.

If we want to find out if there is any evidence of such goings-on, I guess all we need to do is examine in detail the written record of Hillary’s tenure at State, including specifically all of her e-mails (given the amount of time she spent on the road while in office, she must have spent a phenomenal amount of time communicating by e-mail), and then maybe we’ll get a better feel for whether or not basic human nature and simple calendar-reading is misleading us here.  Oh, I forgot:  Hillary has destroyed all original evidence of her electronic correspondence while Secretary of State.  It was stored on a private computer server in a closet in her personal residence.  She has now wiped the hard drive, after having her personal staff — not even representatives from State — determine what to turn over and what not to.  As someone recently observed, not even Nixon physically destroyed the tapes.

[As an aside:  This computer server in the closet of one of the Clintons’ unused bedrooms (or wherever it was) was most emphatically not secured to the level required for cabinet-level correspondence.  As a practical matter what this means is that there are, in places like Russia, China, very likely India, and elsewhere complete images of that entire drive in the hands of people who are no friends to the United States.  Were — God forbid — Hillary to be elected president as she believes herself entitled, we would have the U.S. President subject to blackmail by any of several implacably hostile foreign countries (and that ignores the near-certainty that it’s not just those governments who have possession of the incriminating evidence, but also private criminal organizations).]

And the above is just one of the stories of where the money has come from.  Where is it going?

Well, damn little of it is going to charitable grants (“programmatic grants” in the language of the foundation’s Internal Revenue Form 990s) to third parties.  To be precise, from 2008 to 2012 inclusive, the foundation’s own disclosure show $500 million raised (and remember that number is dishonestly low, because they didn’t disclose many millions of dollars from foreign governments and others with business before Hillary’s State Department), and of that a whacking $75 million, or 15%, going to charitable grants.  Some $290 million, or roughly 60%, isn’t even categorized on the returns, it seems; it’s just listed as “other expenses.”  Really?  You have a charitable foundation that wants to toot its own horn for doing good — and they all do that, every last stinkin’ one of them — and yet it modestly declines to describe the charitable operations or purposes for 60% of its gross expenditures over a five-year period?  Please do not insult my intelligence.  Right at $110 million went to employee salary and benefits.  Color me skeptical, but I have a hard time accepting as reasonable that 20+% in wages, salaries, and benefits for an organization that does not produce or market anything of its own.

Well, don’t they do a huge amount in-house?  Must a charity implement its charitable purposes by giving money to other organizations?  Cannot it get down in the bilges and (in the words of the late Fleet Admiral Fisher) “stoop to oil their hands”?  Let’s take a look.  From the same author as the above-linked article in The Federalist, we have this article as well.  By the numbers:

“While some may claim that the Clinton Foundation does its charity by itself, rather than outsourcing to other organizations in the form of grants, there appears to be little evidence of that activity in 2013. In 2008, for example, the Clinton Foundation spent nearly $100 million purchasing and distributing medicine and working with its care partners. In 2009, the organization spent $126 million on pharmaceutical and care partner expenses. By 2011, those activities were virtually non-existent. The group spent nothing on pharmaceutical expenses and only $1.2 million on care partner expenses. In 2012 and 2013, the Clinton Foundation spent $0. In just a few short years, the Clinton’s primary philanthropic project transitioned from a massive player in global pharmaceutical distribution to a bloated travel agency and conference organizing business that just happened to be tax-exempt.”

Now, there was some reorganization behind the changes in those numbers.  In 2010, the Global Health Access Initiative, which had previously been within the umbrella of the Clinton Foundation and which had been the vehicle through which most of that pharmaceutical and care partner expenses were run, was spun off into its own entity.  The above numbers, showing those expenses going from $126 million in 2009 to $1.2 million in 2011, reflect that.

What was left?  Well, the Clinton Global Initiative, most of whose expenses are planning and staging the annual do of the . . . Clinton Global Initiative.  Then there is the Clinton Presidential Center, which is mostly the presidential library in Little Rock.  The other main programmatic expense is the Clinton Climate Initiative.  And what is its charitable function?  Well, the problem is that according to its CEO, Ira Magaziner (we first heard his name back in the early 1990s as one of the architects of Hillarycare), it’s not charitable at all.  Do what, you say?  Let’s let Ira tell it for himself.  From an article in The Atlantic in October, 2007:

“The climate initiative, in typical Magaziner style, has many moving parts, including technical assistance to cities, networks for sharing best practices, software to measure progress, financial support, and a full-time foundation staff member assigned to each city. But the make-or-break component is a plan to re-equilibrate the market for energy conservation. ‘What we’re doing is jump-starting— accelerating—market forces,’ Magaziner told me.


That would be step one. Step two, in Magaziner’s vision, is to channel a Niagara of private capital into the effort. Energy-saving technologies typically cost more up front but less over time. ‘So what we’re going to be doing is setting up a financing mechanism,’ he told me. The foundation would help cities borrow in the securities markets against future energy savings. ‘The whole thing is bankable,’ Magaziner said. ‘It’s a commercial proposition. This is not charity. The whole concept of this is that the market itself over some period of time is going to deploy all these energy-saving things. The problem is it will happen slowly and gradually.’ The foundation hopes to reduce decades to years, and years to months.”

OK then.  Can anyone say, “unrelated business taxable income”?  Now, with the Clintons, as with all politicians, you have to ask yourself who is to benefit from the deal.  The Clintons are accepting all kinds of money from all manner of unsavory foreign donors.  They are turning it around and pumping it into — what? — his presidential library, an annual piss-up and meet-up, and some spectrum of “green technology” firms about which we know really nothing.  Where does it go from there?  Well, we have some idea of what may well be happening.  Our template is the Solyndra fiasco.  That was the one where the U.S. government subordinated $535 million in “loans” to the equity position of major donors to Dear Leader’s campaign and related supports.  Solyndra was a “green technology” start-up.  Or little Bobby Kennedy’s outfit (the name escapes me at the moment), the public filings of which indicate that its entire business plan is to live off government grants.

How much money goes to which firms, upon what terms, and what are the political donation patterns of the principals and senior management of these operations?  That will need to be the next step, drilling down to find out how much of this cash gets recycled back to the Clintons, either in “speaking fees” for Bill, or contributions to Hillary’s presidential bid.

The 10th Amendment Revisited

Via Instapundit, we have news that the governor of Tennessee (Instapundit’s home state) has signed a bill — SB 1110 is the bill designation — which prohibits use of state assets or personnel in the enforcement of certain federal firearms laws.  Over at Breitbart.com’s Big Government, we have a brief write-up on the Tennessee bill, as well as a similar measure recently enacted in Indiana (the Indiana law relates only to regulation of sawed-off shotguns).

The comments to the Breitbart.com article seem to fall into two camps, those who view such laws as attempted “nullification” of federal statutes, and those who see such laws as a state standing up to the federal government’s over-reach.  Among the former we have —

“These nullification laws are sedition and you people commenting on this story are encouraging insurrection. There is no 10th Amendment because the supremacy clause can be used at any time to nullify any law passed by a state. State laws designed to defeat Federal Law is nothing more than a throwback to when Confederate Traitors tried to destroy our nation. Like those traitors in the past, Union Blue will put you in the ground in order to save the Union. There are far more people who still love this nation and will not tolerate a collection of stupid America haters.”

And among the latter we have . . . well, we have just about the balance of the commenters on that post.

For reference purposes, the text of the 10th Amendment reads, in its entirety:  “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”  The commenter quoted above seems to misunderstand the functioning of amendments in general in relation to the base document.  To the extent that the 10th Amendment and the Supremacy Clause conflict on an issue, the amendment trumps.  Were that not the case then the following provisions of Article IV Section 2 would still be the law, notwithstanding the 13th Amendment:  “No person held to service or labour in one state, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labour, but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or labour may be due.”

Also beyond the comprehension of the above-quoted commenter is the operation of the Supremacy Clause.  That clause only operates within the scope of the powers “delegated to the United States by the Constitution”; it is not an independent source of federal authority.  It is why the federal government cannot prescribe the qualifications of voters in individual states, except to the extent that a state’s voter qualification law violates the due process or equal protection provisions of the 14th Amendment, or effectively denies voting rights based upon “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”  Thus, a state may disqualify felons from voting, and a federal statute attempting simply to over-ride that proscription would not trump based on the Supremacy Clause (depending on how it was crafted it might stand a chance under the 14th Amendment, however).

I’ll also point out that the text of the 10th Amendment, drafted by, debated, voted upon in Congress, and ratified at the same time and by the same people as those who produced and ratified the 2nd Amendment, sort of puts the lie to the notion that when the 2nd Amendment protects the right “of the people” to keep and bear arms, what was really meant was the right of the states to create a militia.  No; those drafters understood the distinction between “the people” and “the states.”  In fact the rights of “the people” (and that’s always how it’s referred to, never as “individual persons” or “persons” or “individuals”) are mentioned something like eight or nine times in the Bill of Rights, such as the 4th Amendment, which provides, in full, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”  If you want to read the 4th Amendment in the same manner as the anti-gunners want to read the 2nd, you would have to conclude that only those “persons, houses, papers, and effects” at the time in the custody and control of the states are secure against unreasonable searches and seizures.  So presumably my birth certificate would be so secure, or the possessions of a prisoner would be secure.  The rest of us are on our own, because the expression “of the people” refers only to collective actions exercised by and through the intermediation of a state.

Errrmmmmm . . . . not.

But I digress.  Let’s look at specifically what the new Tennessee statute prohibits and what it does not affect.  As an initial matter, I’ll note it’s poorly drafted.  The bill’s two substantive subsections are both single sentences, and they both share a common verb:  “shall be allocated.”  Huh?  A quick search on Westlaw for variants of the verb “allocate” in Tennessee’s constitution turns up one hit from the text, in Article 11 Section 5, relating to lotteries (apparently it took an amendment to that state’s constitution to permit a lottery).  There’s also an attorney general’s opinion that turns up as a citation to that section, to the effect that lottery proceeds have been “allocated” within the meaning of the text when they are placed in a separate fund for the purposes referenced.  That still tells me not a whole lot.  So you can appropriate and expend state assets for “the implementation, regulation, or enforcement” of federal statutes and regulations regarding certain aspects of gun ownership, so long as you do not assign those assets to a specific fund?  Moreover, how in God’s name does a state “allocate” funds to the “regulation” of “any federal law, executive order, rule, or regulation” regarding gun ownership?  And for that matter, what if we’re talking about a court order?  Under the text of SB 1110, the State of Tennessee could appropriate and expend state funds for the implementation of a federal court order regarding gun ownership.

This bill has all the earmarks of something put together by an amateur draftsman who then found a sponsor to slap his name on it.

So much for the poor grammar and drafting.  What sorts of “federal laws, executive orders, rules, or regulations” may Tennessee not “allocate” either its “public funds” (subsection (a)) or “personnel or property” (subsection (b)) to “implement, regulate, or enforce”?  These:  “regulating the ownership, use, or possession of firearms, ammunition, or firearm accessories.”  What’s not on that list?  Design; manufacture; sale, trade, or other commerce (whether intrastate or interstate); transportation (again, either intra- or interstate); taxation.  Those are some pretty sizable areas within which the State of Tennessee is not refusing its cooperation with the federal government.  In fact, if you think about it, those areas of gun rights with respect to which Tennessee is declining to serve as the federal government’s errand-boy are precisely those rights guaranteed to Tennessee’s individual citizens by the 2nd Amendment; they are more or less the components of “keep and bear arms”.

Strange as it might be to realize it, but whoever wrote this bill, while not being a very competent draftsman, nonetheless displays a very fine constitutional sensibility.  The state is refusing to participate in federal attempts to circumscribe citizens’ constitutionally protected rights.

Our commenter quoted above also seems to labor under some confusion about what precisely is a “nullification statute.”  A true nullification statute states that a law of another jurisdiction (in this case, federal) is ineffective within the boundaries of the state.  Thus, a federal employee who attempts within the state to enforce the nullified law does so at his own risk.  He is nothing more than a thief, an assailant, a trespasser, and is liable for civil and/or criminal prosecution as such in the courts of the state.  At the risk of pointing out the obvious, this new Tennessee law does nothing of the kind.  It would, for example, prohibit Tennessee from turning over any gun-ownership data on its citizens to any federal database.  It would prohibit federal access to its database of concealed carry registration.  It would prohibit a local police department from seizing firearms or accessories based upon a violation of federal law (or a conviction of a federal offense, even a firearms-related offense, although it could deny voting rights to that same convicted federal felon).

All of which is to say that this bill does and will create some interesting outcomes in law enforcement, but I’m just not seeing how this is treasonous or “anti-American” or somehow usurpatory of any lawful claim of federal supremacy.  I guess you can reasonably debate whether it’s a good idea or not, but then that’s why we have a 1st Amendment, isn’t it?