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  • Archive for the 'Civil Liberties' Category

    Feminism and Victimhood Culture.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 8th April 2016 (All posts by )

    We are living an age when any reference to women runs the risk of violating the “victimhood” rights of feminist women.

    What is “Victimhood?” It was explained by two sociologists in 2014.

    We’re beginning a second transition of moral cultures. The first major transition happened in the 18th and 19th centuries when most Western societies moved away from cultures of honor (where people must earn honor and must therefore avenge insults on their own) to cultures of dignity in which people are assumed to have dignity and don’t need to earn it. They foreswear violence, turn to courts or administrative bodies to respond to major transgressions, and for minor transgressions they either ignore them or attempt to resolve them by social means. There’s no more dueling.

    The “Honor Culture” requires that one avenge insults to preserve honor. The law and third parties are avoided and this culture is typical of areas where law and authority is mostly absent. A classic example is the American West in the Age of the Frontier. As law and authority became available, the culture gradually changed to one of The Culture of Dignity in which people are assumed to have dignity and don’t need to earn it. They foreswear violence, turn to courts or administrative bodies to respond to major transgressions, and for minor transgressions they either ignore them or attempt to resolve them by social means. There’s no more dueling. Lawyers have made this culture ubiquitous, even in war.

    Now, we have a new phenomenon.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Culture, Feminism, Morality and Philosphy, Personal Narrative, Philosophy, Politics | 14 Comments »

    The Things That We Are Asked To Give Up

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 30th March 2016 (All posts by )

    So, as I am devoting all my energy and time to finishing the first draft of another book, I have been following – with lashings of sorrow, pity, dread and the merest splash of schadenfreude – developments in Europe. Germany, which seems to be cracking under the weight of a full load of so-called refugees, Sweden, ditto, Brussels, where the concerned citizens appear to be too frightened to continue with a protest march against fear, and the governing authorities appear to be more concerned about the legendary anti-Muslim backlash than the certainty of Islamic terror unleashed in some European or English city. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Britain, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Current Events, France, Germany, Holidays, International Affairs, Islam, Predictions, Religion | 23 Comments »

    “The Two Discourses: How Non-Originalists Popularize Originalism and What that Means”

    Posted by Jonathan on 28th March 2016 (All posts by )

    Seth Barrett Tillman:

    Non-originalists communicate in two different discourses.
     
    One discourse is the mode of truth: it is the mode they reserve for their sophisticated clients and legal briefs, for their colleagues and students. In this discourse, non-originalists critique originalism as …

    1. Wrongheaded or false because the Constitution is not prolix, it is only an outline, and the gaps must be filled in by each generation;
    2. Wrongheaded because the Framers’ and Ratifiers’ intent is not discoverable;
    3. Wrongheaded because different Framers’ and Ratifiers’ intent, although discoverable, was not unified;
    4. Wrongheaded because original public meaning is not (now) discoverable (e.g., the Constitution is too old);
    5. Wrongheaded because during the framing era and during ratification there were a multiplicity of original public meanings;
    6. Wrongheaded because judicial rulings and precedent are the superior means through which to determine the meaning of the Constitution;
    7. Wrongheaded because judges, academic lawyers, and lawyers are not good historians;
    8. Wrongheaded because the Framing-era and ratification lacked democratic bona fidés by modern standards;
    9. Wrongheaded because we should not be ruled by the moral norms or the dead hand of the past; and,
    10. Wrongheaded because originalism gets the wrong (e.g., conservative or libertarian) results.

    The problem is that non-originalists have an entirely different discourse, a second discourse, when they communicate with the public. When non-originalists communicate with the public … non-originalists transform themselves and their discourse into naked, unabashed originalism. It is really quite astounding.

    Lexington Green adds:

    You are restrained in your condemnation of this despicable dishonesty.

    The public has very little understanding of law, the Constitution, the legal system, lawyers, courts or anything else that people like us think about all day long.

    There is nonetheless a vague, inchoate sense that there something called a constitution, and it is in writing, and most people who think they know anything about it mistakenly believe that it says that all men are created equal, and that it protects our rights, whatever those happen to be, and that the government has to do what The Constitution says.

    If you were to tell these people, well, actually, we law professors and judges and lawyers have figured out that you don’t actually have to do what the Constitution says, because … it won’t matter what the “because” is. The typical American will respond with something along the lines of “are you fucking kidding me?”

    My seat of the pants guess is that between between 1% and 5% of the people in this country have any idea what has been going on with the U.S. Constitution in the courts in the last 50 years.

    These guys are being smart not publicizing the reality. If Joe and Jane American voter knew what was going on they would cut the funding for these people.

    Read the whole thing.

    (See also this post by Lex from 2008.)

    Posted in Academia, Civil Liberties, Law, Leftism, Political Philosophy | 20 Comments »

    Who is giving Apple legal advice?

    Posted by Mrs. Davis on 27th February 2016 (All posts by )

    The government is asking Apple to give it the password to Syed Rizwan Farook’s iPhone and iCloud account. Apple is refusing to do so based on its First Amendment rights. This seems to me to be a very weak argument. Just ask Judith Miller. And there really is very little difference. Apple will have to spend $100,000 to comply and all Judith Miller needed to do was name a source. But Apple’s case involves a national security threat to each and every American whereas Judith Miller’s involved only an implausible threat to Valerie Plame who chose to garner all kinds of media attention thereafter. If there were a safe deposit box the government wanted opened, it would go to a court and get an order for the bank to drill the locks out so that the box could be removed. The bank would comply. Apple will lose.

    And if Apple does not lose, the matter will go, as its pleading requests and as it may, even if it loses, now that Apple has made such a ruckus, from the fairly rational precincts of the judiciary to the fully irrational floor of the Congress. Let’s suppose that before legislation is completed there is another domestic terror incident in the US and the terrorist used an Apple iPhone. What kind of legislation would Apple get after that? While not yet widely known, Apple has likely put a back door into every Chinese iPhone via a Chinese designed chip added to the iPhone at China’s insistence for phones sold in the PRC. If this is confirmed, Congress would go even more non-linear.

    And what other things might the government do if Apple were to prevail? Well, in the extreme it could ask GCHQ or some other foreign service to crack the iPhone in general. No device is uncrackable. It could also signal the Chinese that it would not be aggressive in pursuing IP violations by China in the case of Apple products. Apple is refusing to cooperate with its government in the first responsibility of that government, to protect its citizens. There would be consequences. Is it really good legal advice to let your client take such risks?

    Apple should have quietly cut a deal with the government that would offer its customers the maximum security and quietly complied with court orders until a truly offensive order was received. Barring that, Apple would have a far better argument saying that ordering it to break its phones would lower their value to customers, lowering Apple’s revenues, and lowering Apple’s market cap. This would constitute an uncompensated taking by the Federal government of enormous monetary value from every Apple shareholder for which Apple should be compensated.

    With existing technology, you have no privacy. Products are in development that will allow retailers to know how long you look at an item on a shelf, if you pick it up, if you return it to the shelf, how long you look at it and if you buy it. And if you wear an iWatch or other wearable, it will know how much your pulse and bp increased at each step of engagement. If you use gmail, as almost everyone seems to, Google knows the content of every email you send and receive. Who is more likely to release or resell your email, Google or the FBI? The Silicon Valley forces lining up against the government are the most probable threat to what you think is your privacy. It’s been almost 20 years since Scott McNealy said “You’ve got no privacy. Get over it.”

    Apple will be made out to be protecting the ability of terrorists to communicate in secret. We are at war with these terrorists. They will kill any of us where ever they can. Article III, section 3 of the Constitution states,”Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.” That sounds a lot like what Apple is seeking to do under protection of the first amendment’s emanations and penumbras.

    Tim Cook is engaging in the same kind of magical thinking that has dominated the boomer elite and led to so many tragedies for the last 24 years. Losing wars has consequences.

    Posted in Advertising, China, Civil Liberties, Current Events, Miscellaneous, Politics, Privacy, Tech | 60 Comments »

    A Transition of Moral Cultures?

    Posted by David Foster on 20th February 2016 (All posts by )

    Jonathan Haidt summarizes a paper (by Bradley Campbell and Jason Manning) which may help explain some of the dynamics now manifesting themselves on college campuses and even in the larger society.  In brief:  prior to the 18th and 19th century, most Western societies were cultures of honor, in which people were expected to avenge insults on their own–and would lose social respect and position should they fail to do so.  The West then transitioned to cultures of dignity, in which “people are assumed to have dignity and don’t need to earn it.  They foreswear violence, turn to courts or administrative bodies to respond to major transitions, and for minor transgressions they either ignore them or attempt to resolve them by social means.  There’s no more dueling.”  The spirit of this type of culture could be summarized by the saying “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”

    Campbell and Manning assert that this culture of dignity is now giving way to a new culture of victimhood in which people are encouraged to respond to even the slightest unintentional offense, as in an honor culture. But the difference, Haidt explains is this:

    “But they must not obtain redress on their own; they must appeal for help to powerful others or administrative bodies, to whom they must make the case that they have been victimized.”  Campbell and Manning distinguish the three culture types as follows:

    “Public complaints that advertise or even exaggerate one’s own victimization and need for sympathy would be anathema to a person of honor – tantamount to showing that one had no honor at all. Members of a dignity culture, on the other hand, would see no shame in appealing to third parties, but they would not approve of such appeals for minor and merely verbal offenses. Instead they would likely counsel either confronting the offender directly to discuss the issue, or better yet, ignoring the remarks altogether.”

    I had read something about this model a couple of months ago, and was reminded of it by a discussion at Bookworm Room.  She described a scene of insanity at Rutgers “university,” in which students were so traumatized by a speech given by Milo Yiannopoulos that “students and faculty members held a wound-licking gathering at a cultural center on campus, where students described “feeling scared, hurt, and discriminated against.”

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Academia, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Deep Thoughts, Education, Human Behavior, Leftism, Miscellaneous, USA | 15 Comments »

    The Pursuit of Freedom

    Posted by Nathaniel T. Lauterbach on 17th February 2016 (All posts by )

    Greetings, all.

    I’ve posted on Chicago Boyz and other blogs before, but it was a long time ago. Most of it was my work on the Clausewitz Roundtable. I’ve commented here and there, too. I’m happy to count Zen Pundit and Lexington Green as close blog-friends of many years.

    I’m back. Some has changed, but not much. I’m still an active-duty US Marine Corps Officer. I’m a major now, not a captain. I’ve been to the sand box a few more times since I last posted an actual blog here. I’ve deployed more than most for my time in service, but less than some. I’m not complaining, just saying.

    One thing did happen on my last deployment, in the end of 2014. Toward the end of deployments it’s not uncommon for things to slow down–lots of waiting for things to happen. So you have time to think. In that thinking I started to really question what the hell it is that I’m doing. Why am I fighting? What is it for? I suppose it’s connected to the fact that I was rounding out my fourth deployment to Afghanistan, and doing my small part to assist the Marine Corps with the turnover of Helmand Province to the Afghan National Army 215th Corps. I had deployed to Afghanistan in 2004, 2010, 2012-2013, and then 2014. Throw in an Iraq deployment, some time at sea with the Navy, and some other exercises, and you start to see the makings of a military career in early 21st century America. In any case, I was leading a unit and had a good amount of responsibility. But why? Why had the US come here, made the decisions it did, and why was it now trying to leave? And likewise, why was my Marine Corps doing the same thing? And me? Why was I a part of that?

    I have no real regrets about the service rendered for my country. The cost has certainly been steep, personally, though. The family, with each deployment, goes through a great deal of stress, and after about three such deployments, they get harder, not easier, for the family and the soldier to handle. I’ve also lost more friends than I care to count (I can count them out for you, I just don’t want to). There are other costs which are borne, too. But the remuneration has been decent, I suppose. We always managed to be somewhat comfortable. Maybe that was the problem…the comfort?

    Part of the expression of gratitude the country has for its military is the pay. For an officer, especially, the pay is quite good. I’m not going to tell you the amount of pay and allowances–that’s publicly available elsewhere. But suffice to say that the military has been quite shielded from the fears and losses of the great recession. Enlisted men and women do well, too, and can occasionally do very well when it comes times for reenlistment in specific occupational fields. Expenses have always been reasonably less than income, on average. There’s been no pressure from the economic environment to really think about my family’s financial situation today, let along 10 or 20 years from now. Yet something just wasn’t right. I didn’t feel out of control, but I didn’t feel like I was in charge, either. I had a bit of a feeling of being adrift. The military side of things was very much in control of the situation–I always knew precisely how many people were under my charge, their individual strengths and weaknesses, their state of training and discipline, and their morale. I knew the capabilities of my equipment. I always strove to understand the mission, to lead with vigor, and to “own” my position. I was good at that. But personally and financially? I barely had a financial or a personal life. That had to change.

    So I decided to get a handle on things. I started to track every penny–even the pennies I don’t see because they’re “pre-tax” and given to the government for safe keeping until I claim my share back at tax time. I located all of my accounts. I found all of the debts, the interest rates, the amount of interest I was paying. I started tracking expenses, and then cutting them. I’ll be honest–the wife wasn’t exactly thrilled by me looking at things with such magnification. I started to read up on personal finance, investing, and life-planning in general. I read blogs and books, listened to podcasts, and talked with others about how to really order finances these days. And I began to radically alter our financial course. We paid all our debts, we bought a house (so, in actuality, we have one mortgage now). We’ve rented out our basement to a tenant. And we now save about 40% of all our pre-tax income. We’re not where I want to be yet, but we’re getting there. I’m not leaving anything to chance any longer, unless it’s a calculated chance intentionally taken. Every expense is now deliberately taken.

    I also decided to look for some hobbies. Being a military man has a way of becoming an all-encompassing experience. Your friends are basically military colleagues. Your work is military work. Military people know about “mandatory fun”–those obligatory nights spent with comrades and often with superiors. Your wardrobe is decided for you. Where you live is decided. My task was to carve out a bit of this life and make it mine. I had to get new friends and do new things with different groups of people. That would add richness to my life. I’ve done that, and I’m still doing that.

    I’ve been working on the above things–redirecting our financial life and reordering how I spend time–for a bit over a year now. The changes have been pretty dramatic. Looking back, I realize that up until I took command of my life I was living in a bit of a fog. With all of the turmoil of military life, the American people do much to make finances reasonably tranquil. This financial tranquility is both a blessing and a curse. You’re never really forced to grapple with the default decisions the consumerist economy makes for you. Nor are you forced to grapple with the reality that politics is not really national. It’s local. Your political power begins with you and those you immediately affect. You need to reclaim that power for yourself. Take charge of the fruits of your labor. Own your day to the extent you can. If you want to descend into the cesspool of national politics, fine–but do it intentionally. In fact, live your life intentionally. A life, intentionally lived, taken to the logical extreme, is the very definition of freedom. That is why I fight, happily, for my country.

    I’ll be blogging about my financial journey here, as well as on other things as I see fit.

    Cross-posted at Warrior In the Garden (my personal blog, which is in its infancy. Bare with me as I get it set up.) I also maintain a ham radio blog at the N0PCL Radio Site.

    Posted in Afghanistan/Pakistan, Blogging, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Commiserations, Deep Thoughts, Economics & Finance, Entrepreneurship, Iraq, Military Affairs, Morality and Philosphy, National Security, Personal Finance, Personal Narrative, Politics | 16 Comments »

    Greg Abbot’s Constitutional Convention

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 18th January 2016 (All posts by )

    Texas Governor Greg Abbot has called for a Constitutional convention of states.

    UPDATE: Conservative Wahoo is in favor.

    Why do I support it? A few reasons:
    1) I am a political junkie. I’ve seen two impeachments proceedings in the House and one Trial in the Senate. I’ve never seen a convention of the states.
    2) I think there are some places where the Constitution could be improved (see below), but I prefer that those improvements be WITHIN the Constitutional process rather than by Executive fiat (see, Obama, B.)
    3) I believe it would energize people in this country to a great degree–equaled only maybe by war–to really think hard about what this country means to them.

    He has a summary of the Mark Levin proposed amendments from his book.

    A convention is one of two ways that the U.S. Constitution can be amended, and it’s described in Article V. One way is that Congress can propose amendments approved by two-thirds of the members of both chambers. The other method allows two-thirds of the state legislatures to call for a convention to propose amendments. Republicans backing the idea are confident that because they control state government in a majority of states, their ideas would prevail.

    Democrats are horrified. The Huffington Post first ran this post with a headline that he wanted Texas to secede! I guess they thought better of the scare tactic.

    Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Friday proposed a series of amendments to the U.S. constitution that would permit states to override the Supreme Court and ignore federal laws.

    One of the proposed measures would allow a two-thirds majority of the states to override federal regulations, while another sets the same threshold for overturning decisions by the Supreme Court. The governor also wants to change the Constitution to block Congress from “regulating activity that occurs wholly within one state,” and to require a supermajority of seven Supreme Court votes before a “democratically enacted law” can be overturned.

    OK. That’s fair enough.

    The plan lays out nine specific proposed amendments that would:

    Prohibit congress from regulating activity that occurs wholly within one state.
    Require Congress to balance its budget.
    Prohibit administrative agencies from creating federal law.
    Prohibit administrative agencies from pre-empting state law.
    Allow a two-thirds majority of the states to override a U.S. Supreme Court decision.
    Require a seven-justice super-majority vote for U.S. Supreme Court decisions that invalidate a democratically enacted law
    Restore the balance of power between the federal and state governments by limiting the former to the powers expressly delegated to it in the Constitution.
    Give state officials the power to sue in federal court when federal officials overstep their bounds.
    Allow a two-thirds majority of the states to override a federal law or regulation.

    Balancing the budget is probably pie-in-the-sky but the others sound reasonable to me.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Conservatism, Elections, History, Leftism, Political Philosophy, Politics | 22 Comments »

    A Conservative Case for the Militia Clause in the 2nd Amendment

    Posted by TM Lutas on 14th January 2016 (All posts by )

    The traditional modern conservative opinion on the 2nd Amendment diminishes and almost entirely dismisses the opening clause, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State”. I believe this to be an error that leaves leftists an opening to prolong the Second Amendment assault forever. That opening needs to be closed. A substantive construction of this clause that makes sense to the general public is necessary to put down the gun control movement permanently.

    But first, a little Latin. Crimes can be generally divided into the categories “malum prohibitum” and “malum in se”. Malum in se are crimes that are universally considered wrong or immoral that all just societies prohibit. Malum prohibitum are crimes that a legislature creates and are only crimes because they told us so. Tyrannies thrive by multiplying malum prohibitum crimes and turning honest citizens into fearful subjects that can be seized by the law at any time. Militias only go after malum in se crimes and are thus useful to the people who want a just society but useless to any sort of tyrant.

    The militia’s uselessness to tyrants is its greatest selling point and one that the colonists implicitly understood because none of the abuses of King George were ever enforced by the militia (if there are examples where this actually happened, please share in comments). With that understanding, the introductory clause makes perfect sense to us all and gives us a common sense reason why even today, it’s important to have a strong militia so that our security is, as much as feasible, in the hands of people who will not sweat the small stuff. In fact, it’s truly necessary for the security of a free state.

    The alternative is to entirely rely on paid agents of the state for our security, whether military or police. Is there ever a case where governments who are hard up for cash don’t make petty rules to extract fines and hem in the people’s liberty? Is there a government out there that does not favor its supporters and disfavor its opponents? Controlling these agents’ salaries is a powerful inducement for them to do the wrong thing if the government asks them. Over time and across a large number of governments, there will always be cases where they will be asked and there will always be agents who are willing to be tin pot tyrants. They have households to maintain after all.

    Posted in Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Law, Political Philosophy, RKBA | 54 Comments »

    Worthwhile Reading–Annotated Edition

    Posted by David Foster on 12th January 2016 (All posts by )

    The Diplomad observes that “‘Progressives’, of course, are greatly influenced by movies. In fact…the majority of what passes for “Progressive thought” is derived from the Hollywood version of history that they have running in an endless video loop in their heads. Listen to them talk about the economy, race relations, education, “gender equality,” US history, etc., and it all forms part of some giant Hollywood script.”  Indeed—shortly after 9/11, when the idea of arming airline pilots was first mooted,  critics of the idea referred to “gunfights at 35,000 feet” as something “out of a Tom Clancy movie”. Hadn’t they thought that deliberately crashing airplanes into buildings might be something out of a Tom Clancy movie, too? And whether or not something might appear in a movie is obviously irrelevant to its validity from a policy standpoint.

    This topic relates closely to my earlier post about metaphors, interfaces, and thought processes, in which I discuss the consequences of the “iconic” versus the “textual” modes of presenting information.

    David Warren writes about the conspiracy of German elites, in both media and government, to suppress knowledge of the New Year’s atrocities in Cologne and other cities.  Indeed, one might conclude that the whole idea of free speech hasn’t taken hold very well in Germany over the last 70 years, at least among the writing and political classes.  Unfortunately, the problem is not limited to Germany: Mark Zuckerberg, the ringmaster of the Facebook circus, was apparently all too eager to co-conspire with Merkel to delete strong criticisms of her immigration policies.

    A society cannot thrive or even survive if its decision-making organs are disconnected from knowledge of what is actually happening, any more than your furnace can keep your house at the right temperature if the wires connecting it to the thermostat are cut.  In a democracy, the ultimate decision-making organ is supposed to be the people of the country.

    Don Sensing writes about totalism, and how it is reflected in the behavior of the Obama administration and the attitudes of the “progressive” Left.  He quotes Mussolini’s definition of Fascism:

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Liberties, Deep Thoughts, Europe, Film, Germany, History, Islam, Leftism, Political Philosophy, Religion, Society | 6 Comments »

    The Western Spring

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 10th January 2016 (All posts by )

    migrants

    Belmont Club and Richard Fernandez have come up with a good term to describe what is happening now.

    It’s on, the long awaited fight against PC orthodoxy is finally on. Trump is unlikely to apologize, CAIR even more unlikely to back down. With 3 million Middle Eastern and African refugees due to arrive in Europe this year the clashes between German protesters are only likely to intensify.

    The commotion you hear is not going to stop, it will only get worse. The Western Spring is finally here, and before it’s done it threatens to change everything.

    The “Arab Spring” has proved a disaster for the Middle East. Much of that disaster was midwifed by Obama and Hillary. Obama helped The Muslim Brotherhood overthrow our ally, Mubarak. The Washington Post was very optimistic.

    CAIRO – It was sparked on social-networking sites, and inspired by a revolution in Tunisia. In 18 days, it grew into something astounding – a leaderless people’s movement that at every turn outsmarted a government with an almost unblemished 30-year record of suppressing dissent.

    Of course, it didn’t turn out the way they expected.

    Despite the government’s efforts to sow violence that could be pinned on the demonstrators, the vast majority did not take the bait.

    In the first days of the protests, they were attacked with high-pressure water hoses, tear gas, birdshot, rubber bullets and live ammunition. Protesters responded with rocks, but also with pamphlets instructing demonstrators to appeal to the police as fellow Egyptians.

    When police withdrew from the streets and prisoners were released from their cells, Egyptians formed security committees to protect their neighborhoods. And when pro-Mubarak forces – many of them thought to be paid thugs and undercover police – attacked anti-government demonstrators, the protesters fought back but did not escalate the violence.

    More than 300 people were killed over the past 18 days, with each death giving the movement more momentum. In Tahrir Square, posters of the dead grace every corner. A curly haired girl named Sally, a man named Hassan, a boy named Mohammed.

    There is no mention of what happened to Lara Logan in Tahrir Square during the “innocent demonstrations.”

    Lara Logan thought she was going to die in Tahrir Square when she was sexually assaulted by a mob on the night that Hosni Mubarak’s government fell in Cairo.

    Ms. Logan, a CBS News correspondent, was in the square preparing a report for “60 Minutes” on Feb. 11 when the celebratory mood suddenly turned threatening. She was ripped away from her producer and bodyguard by a group of men who tore at her clothes and groped and beat her body. “For an extended period of time, they raped me with their hands,” Ms. Logan said in an interview with The New York Times. She estimated that the attack involved 200 to 300 men. Sounds like a preview, doesn’t it ?

    The leftist innocence drips from the WaPo article.

    Mubarak believed that the US conspired to bring him down. Knowing Obama, he was probably correct. Of course, we should follow Napoleon’s rule, “Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by incompetence.”

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Liberties, Culture, Current Events, Europe, Germany, Immigration, Leftism, Middle East, Terrorism | 8 Comments »

    Trouble in Worker’s Paradise – South American Edition

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 15th December 2015 (All posts by )

    Nicolas Maduro threatened Venezuelans before the recent elections. Asked how he would respond to an opposition victory in Parliament, he responded,

    “Venezuela would go through the most shady and poignant times of its political history, and we would defend the revolution, we wouldn’t surrender and the revolution would move into a new stage. Whoever has ears to hear, let them understand. Whoever has eyes to see, let them see the history clearly. The revolution will never surrender.”

    “You should start praying, oligarch from the right, because the revolution will win on Dec 6th. Start Praying from now. For peace and tranquility, so you have no responsibility. And if not, we will take to the streets, and in the streets we are very dangerous, ok? It’s better if we stay here governing for the people. Everybody happy.”

    The first thing that strikes me about all this is how much his rhetoric, albeit a little more plainly stated, resembles the rhetoric and riots of the American left. Give us what we want or there will be violence.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, Civil Liberties, Economics & Finance, Elections | 11 Comments »

    The Attrition Mill Speeds Up

    Posted by David Foster on 17th November 2015 (All posts by )

    In one of my posts on the aftermath of 9/11, I introduced the metaphor of the Attrition Mill.  An attrition mill consists of two steel disks, rotating at high speed in opposite directions and crushing the substance to be milled between them.  Metaphorically, I see America, and western civilization in general, as being caught in a gigantic attrition mill, with one rotating disk being the Islamofascist enemy and the other disk representing certain tendencies within our own societies…most notably, the focus on group identities, the growing hostility toward free speech, and the sharp decline of civilizational-self confidence.

    The combination of the upper and lower disks of the metaphorical Attrition Mill is far more dangerous than either by itself would be.  For example, the student government at the University of Minnesota has rejected a resolution calling for annual commemorations of the 9/11 atrocity.  Why?  It was argued that such a resolution would make Muslim students feel “unsafe.” The “Students for Justice for Palestine” said that being reminded of 9/11 on its anniversary would lead to increased “Islamaphobia.”

    It seems pretty clear that this sort of ridiculously deferential “sensitivity” does not make immigrants, or children and grandchildren of immigrants, more likely to assimilate.  Contrarily, it reinforces group identifies and intergroup hostilities.  And in doing so, it creates a social environment in which it is much more likely that actual terrorists–representing the upper disk of the Attrition Mill–will go unreported or even be actively supported in their ethnic/religious communities. And that, in turn, greatly increases the risks inherent in large-scale migration.

    Hillary Clinton reacted to the Benghazi murders by blaming a video, going so far as to tell a grieving father that  he would have his revenge–not on the killers, oh, no, but rather we are going to have that filmmaker arrested Here, we see the threat and actuality of Islamist violence being used as an excuse for interfering with the free-speech rights of Americans…and you can bet that if that precedent is successfully established, it will be applied with plenty of other justifications, too.

    (On a related note,  John Kerry came very close to saying that the attacks on Charlie Hebdo were in some manner justified.)

    And both disks of the Attrition Mill are revolving with increasing speed. The attacks on Charlie Hebdo, the Paris kosher grocery store, and the Russian airliner were followed by the large-scale attack that just happened in Paris.  The lower disk of the Mill is turning faster as well:  Amherst students are demanding restrictions on free speech, with compulsory “reeducation” for offenders.  We have seen insane behavior at Yale, with students raging at a couple of professors who dared to suggest that people not go overboard about the issue of  Halloween costumes.  Here is Alan Dershowitz on what is happening to our colleges:  “the fog of Fascism is descending

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Academia, Civil Liberties, History, Islam, Leftism, Terrorism, USA | 29 Comments »

    There Once Was a Time …

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 8th November 2015 (All posts by )

    … when I used to be a feminist, and proud to think of myself as such. This was back at the time that I was a teenager, and being a feminist meant you earnestly believed that women ought to have the same opportunities for education, professional advancement, credit for personal and business purposes, and perhaps to be seen by a female ob-gyn, and generally have a wider range of choices when it came to what you wanted to do with your life. Even then the bra-burning drama and other minor theatrics seemed kind of pointless. Back in the day, as now, bras were expensive … and unless one had prepubescent-sized breasts, it was uncomfortable to go without!

    Seriously – when I was a teenager and looking at my prospective life, – the feminism of that day appeared to be about having interesting and fulfilling alternatives in life. Believe me, Granny Dodie was shoving me energetically in the traditional direction of inevitable marriage to some nice guy I met in college or *shudder* high school, since she and her contemporaries had bragging rights over the quantity and accomplishments of their respective great-grandchildren and she and Grandpa Alf weren’t getting any younger, and the little girl across the street whom I used to play with when I came to visit them, why she got married at 18 and had a baby already! It was the lockstep nature of it all, that put me off, more than anything. Because I wanted some adventure, first. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Feminism | 11 Comments »

    Worthwhile Reading & Viewing

    Posted by David Foster on 22nd October 2015 (All posts by )

    Bookworm attended an awards dinner for Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and reports at length on the honoree’s speech.  For those not familiar with Hirsi Ali:  raised as a Muslim in Somalia, she eventually moved to Holland, where she became of member of Parliament and collaborated on a film about Islam with Theo van Gogh, who was murdered.  Although she has been the target of many death threats, Ayaan Hirsi Ali has refused to be silenced.  Be sure to read Book’s well-written post.

    BBC has a new documentary about Ada, countess of Lovelace…computer pioneer of the 1840s, daughter of the “mad, bad, and dangerous to know” poet, Lord Byron, and aficionado of gambling on the horses.

    Once, there was an unpleasant political movement called the “Know-Nothings.”  Today, we have the Know-Betters,

    Claire Berlinski writes about the growing phenomenon of ritual humiliations and denunciations.

    Related to the above, a very interesting analysis of the evolution of society from Cultures of Honor–in which the individual must personally avenge wrongs and insults…to Cultures of Dignity–in which people are assumed to have dignity, foreswear individual violence, rely on the judicial system to to respond to major transgressions and sometime simply ignore minor transgressions (there’s no more dueling)…and now to a Culture of Victimhood, in which people are encouraged to respond to even the slightest unintentional offense, as in an honor culture–but they must not obtain redress on their own, rather, they must appeal to powerful others or administrative bodies.

    Renowned physicist Freeman Dyson says that Obama “chose the wrong side” on the climate-change debate.  His thoughts on the psychology behind apocalyptic climate thinking are interesting,

    Posted in Civil Liberties, Energy & Power Generation, Environment, History, Human Behavior, Miscellaneous, Tech | 11 Comments »

    Celebrating the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act by Leaving it Alone

    Posted by David McFadden on 20th August 2015 (All posts by )

    The fiftieth anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, signed by President Lyndon Johnson August 6, 1965, has revived proposals to fill a much-needed gap in the Act, to borrow one of Hanna Gray’s favorite expressions.

    The gap is thanks to the felicitous 2013 Supreme Court case of Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder, which I discussed last year in these pages. The Court held unconstitutional the Act’s archaic test for determining which states must get preclearance from the Justice Department or from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to change their election laws. The preclearance requirement–Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act–was supposed to be a temporary, emergency provision expiring five years after the Voting Rights Act became effective. But as Milton Friedman said, “Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program.” Congress renewed Section 5 four times, most recently in 2006, when Congress renewed it for another 25 years.

    Writing for the Court in Shelby County v. Holder, Chief Justice Roberts said that preclearance sharply departs from basic constitutional principles by allowing the federal government to veto state laws before they go into effect, reversing the burden of proof, and forcing an oddly selected group of the states to beseech the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department or a distant court to allow them to implement a new election law.

    The Court held that this onerous regime can no longer be based on a coverage formula that sweeps in states because in the 1960s or 1970s they had low voter turnout or a literacy test. Striking down the coverage formula left Section 2 of the Act still in effect. Under Section 2, state voting laws can still be challenged in court. Section 2 does not reverse the burden of proof but leaves it where it normally is in the law—on the challenger.

    Nonetheless, the party line still compels liberals to recite, in nearly every article in which they mention the subject, that in Shelby County the Supreme Court “gutted” the Voting Rights Act–or better yet committed an “Historic Gutting.” Substituting a synonym for “gutted” seems to be frowned upon and may even require a trigger warning.

    “Congress must restore the Voting Rights Act,” wrote the President in a letter to the editor of the New York Times last week. He and others on left remain under the misconception that in striking down the coverage formula for preclearance, the Supreme Court invited Congress to write a new one and now Congress just needs to get about the business of accepting his invitation. There was no invitation, just a warning that a new preclearance formula based on current conditions would raise the question of whether the preclearance requirement itself is unconstitutional.

    Republicans in Congress do not need to help set the stage for that controversy. Instead, they should take the offensive and counter that as the states ought not to be treated like vassals, it’s time to consider repealing Section 5 altogether. Short of that, they should leave to languish in committee proposals to rehabilitate an anachronistic affront to federalism.

    Posted in Civil Liberties, Elections, Law, Leftism | 7 Comments »

    Healthy Lifestyle 24/7

    Posted by Mrs. Davis on 18th August 2015 (All posts by )

    The Wall Street Journal had a fascinating, to me, article on A Simple Fix for Drunken Driving called Sobriety 24/7 now implemented in North and South Dakota, and Montana.

    (DUI) Offenders in 24/7 Sobriety can drive all they want to, but they are under a court order not to drink. Every morning and evening, for an average of five months, they visit a police facility to take a breathalyzer test. Unlike most consequences imposed by the criminal justice system, the penalties for noncompliance are swift, certain and modest. Drinking results in mandatory arrest, with a night or two in jail as the typical penalty.
     
    The benefits of the program aren’t just confined to road safety; counties using 24/7 Sobriety experienced not only a 12% drop in repeat drunken-driving arrests but also a 9% drop in domestic-violence arrests. Unlike interventions that only constrain drinking while driving, the removal of alcohol from an offender’s life also reduces the incidence of other alcohol-related crimes.
     
    Why do repeat offenders change their behavior in response to relatively modest incentives? Patients continue using cocaine in the face of great harm to their families, livelihoods and physical health, yet they could still be induced to refrain from it when promised a small reward, like $10 for a negative urine test. The reward was relatively trivial, but it was unlike other potential consequences because it was both certain and immediate.
     
    It turns out that people with drug and alcohol problems are just like the rest of us. Their behavior is affected much more by what is definitely going to happen today than by what might or might not happen far in the future, even if the potential future consequences are more serious.

    Today we were talking to a big data company that can extract enormous amounts of information from your cell phone and make even more incredible inferences about your life style. How long will it be before your wearable will have a bluetooth connection to your phone to transmit all kinds of information on your biologic state? Certainly within two decades, possibly less. It will be able to monitor your body function and relate it to the unhealthy lifestyle choices you made in the last 24 hours.

    At least half of our medical costs are the result of behavior that will not happen today and might or might not happen far in the future. Let’s assume that insurance costs $5,000 per person, probably not far off. Would you sign up for a policy that cost only $2,500 but required you to wear the monitor system and took $10 from your checking account and told you what you did the day before to warrant it any time you engaged in sufficiently unhealthy life style? It’s coming within years to auto insurance. I can’t imagine living in that world. That’s why it’s good we are mortal. One can only take a limited amount of change. And progress requires change.

    Somewhere Mary Baker Eddy and BF Skinner are smiling.

    Posted in Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Current Events, Human Behavior, Law Enforcement, Leftism, Political Philosophy | 27 Comments »

    Elite Failure and Populist Trump It

    Posted by Zenpundit on 5th August 2015 (All posts by )

    Cross-posted at Zenpundit.com

    Donald_Trump_March_2015

    GOP Front Runner, Donald J. Trump (Image: Michael Vadon)

    A friend sent an essay by the prolific IR scholar, Professor Angelo Codevilla that had been posted at Powerline Blog.  It was good.

    For the unfamiliar, Codevilla often writes on national security and intelligence matters and some readers may be familiar with his (with Paul Seabury) book,  War: Ends and Means; but in recent years Codevilla has, like Walter Russell Mead and a number of other intellectuals, turned his attention to the shoddy performance, ethical deficiencies and arrogant demands of the new American “ruling class”, writing a biting critique of their “meritocratic regime”.

    In his essay for Powerline, Codevilla turns his attention to the political phenomenon of the improbable GOP presidential front runner, billionaire and reality TV star, Donald Trump.  Unsurprisingly, Dr. Codevilla is not a huge fan of the bombastic Mr. Trump, but his analysis of why Trump has captured the moment so easily has some astute insights about the decaying state of our political system and the seething anger of the electorate:

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Book Notes, Civil Liberties, Crony Capitalism, Current Events, Elections, Leftism, Media, National Security, Politics, Society, Tea Party, The Press, USA | 15 Comments »

    King Philip of Spain

    Posted by David Foster on 22nd July 2015 (All posts by )

    …and his Portuguese subjects.

    A political and social analogy from Sarah Hoyt:

    Yesterday I was talking to my mom and she said the news from the States and the things “your funny critters” (pretty much how mom refers to governments in general!) are doing remind her of the Spanish occupation of Portugal.

    Read the whole thing.

    Posted in Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Current Events, Europe, History, Obama, USA | 6 Comments »

    Is the corporate wing of the GOP leading the party to disaster ?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 11th July 2015 (All posts by )

    SF killing

    There are a number of national stories recently that seem to resonate with voters. A big one is the killing of a San Francisco woman by an illegal alien with seven felony arrests who was deported five times.

    The fatal shooting of a woman in San Francisco last week, allegedly by an illegal immigrant man convicted of seven felonies and previously deported to Mexico, has sparked a debate about the extent to which local law enforcement and federal immigration authorities should cooperate.

    At issue is the Department of Homeland Security’s practice of seeking to identify potentially deportable individuals in jails or prisons nationwide by issuing a “detainer,” a request rather than an order to extend the individual’s detention.

    San Francisco is a “Sanctuary City” which has pledged to resist efforts by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to deport illegal aliens.

    On March 26, Mr. Sanchez was booked into the San Francisco County Jail on a local drug-related warrant after serving a federal prison term, the city’s sheriff’s office said. The next day, Mr. Sanchez appeared in San Francisco Superior Court and the drug charges were dismissed.

    After San Francisco officials confirmed that Mr. Sanchez’s federal prison term had been completed and that he had no active warrants, he was released from jail on April 15. He was freed despite a request from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a division of DHS, to the city’s sheriff’s department that would have enabled the federal agency to take him into custody.

    This is routine, plus of course, the fact that the Obama Administration has chosen to facilitate illegal immigration and resist deportation.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Elections, Immigration, Law Enforcement | 77 Comments »

    “Tillman on Values and Dignity”

    Posted by Jonathan on 7th July 2015 (All posts by )

    Seth Barrett Tillman (posting also at The New Reform Club):

    I think many do not quite follow Justice Thomas.
    This might help.
    Seth

    The corollary of that principle is that human dignity cannot be taken away by the government. Slaves did not lose their dignity (any more than they lost their humanity) because the government allowed them to be enslaved. Those held in internment camps did not lose their dignity because the government confined them. And those denied governmental benefits certainly do not lose their dignity because the government denies them those benefits. The government cannot bestow dignity, and it cannot take it away.

    Justice Thomas in Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. ____, at *17 (2015) (dissenting) [pdf]

    ——————————

    Mrs Thatcher came only twice [to the Conservative Philosophy Group], once as prime minister. That was the occasion for a notable non-meeting of minds. Edward Norman (then Dean of Peterhouse) had attempted to mount a Christian argument for nuclear weapons. The discussion moved on to ‘Western values’. Mrs Thatcher said (in effect) that Norman had shown that the Bomb was necessary for the defence of our values. [Enoch] Powell: ‘No, we do not fight for values. I would fight for this country even if it had a communist government.’ Thatcher (it was just before the Argentinian invasion of the Falklands): ‘Nonsense, Enoch. If I send British troops abroad, it will be to defend our values.’ ‘No, Prime Minister, values exist in a transcendental realm, beyond space and time. They can neither be fought for, nor destroyed.’ Mrs Thatcher looked utterly baffled. She had just been presented with the difference between Toryism and American Republicanism. (Mr Blair would have been equally baffled.)

    The Right Honourable Enoch Powell quoted in John Casey, The revival of Tory philosophy, The Spectator, March 17, 2007 (emphasis added)

    Posted in Anglosphere, Britain, Civil Liberties, Conservatism, Current Events, Law, Morality and Philosphy, Political Philosophy, USA | 10 Comments »

    Whiteness Privilege

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 2nd July 2015 (All posts by )

    microaggression

    The subject of “white privilege” is very much in the news there days.

    Administration officials at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University have reached an agreement with student activists to force “mandatory power and privilege training” on incoming students during orientation.

    The group, which calls itself “HKS Speaks Out,” will have a meeting this week with the dean of the Kennedy School, David T. Ellwood, to discuss the funding for the compulsory training and to “make sure this training is institutionalized” throughout the school, reports Campus Reform.

    Who is this group behind the “white privilege” training session ? Well, they are disgruntled students.

    The movement, called HKS Speaks Out, began in October after students expressed having “really negative classroom experiences,” according to Reetu D. Mody, a first year Master in Public Policy student and an organizer of the movement. She said the group has amassed about 300 student signatures, or about a fourth of the school’s student population, on a petition that calls for mandatory privilege and power training.

    Reetu

    She can’t breathe. She is a Congressional staffer but I can’t find out whose staff. Democrat if not Bernie Sanders.

    Steve Sailor is not impressed.

    Harvard U. is full of people who clawed their way into Harvard, so it’s not surprising that they often can’t stand each other. Fortunately, 21st Century Harvard students have a vocabulary of whom to blame for any and all frustrations they feel. From the Harvard Crimson:

    Kennedy School Students Call for Training To Combat Privilege in Classroom

    Whiteness !

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Book Notes, Civil Liberties, Conservatism, Crime and Punishment, Current Events, Education, Human Behavior, Leftism, Morality and Philosphy, Urban Issues | 13 Comments »

    Reset

    Posted by David Foster on 28th June 2015 (All posts by )

    RESET

    That’s what Hillary Clinton thought was inscribed, in English and in Russian, on the button that she gave to Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov in early 2009…actually she got the translation wrong…(why on earth, with all the linguistic resources that were available to her?…but that’s a subject for another day.)

    I don’t think I need to provide a slew of links to prove that the reset didn’t work very well.  Russia-US national relations are currently pretty bad, and Russia is now perceived as a threat to many other countries in a way that would have seemed unbelievable back in 2008.  Resetting institutional and societal things…complicated, intertwined, human things…is generally much harder than rebooting a computer or flipping a circuit breaker back to ON.

    Yet the RESET button is a good metaphor for the entire worldview of the Obama administration, and of the “progressive” movement generally.  Remember that line about “fundamentally transforming” the United States?

    One tactic employed by modern-era leaders who wish to “fundamentally transform” their societies is to transform the use of language and other symbols.  The French revolutionaries pioneered in this:  even the names of the months of the year were changed.  The Nazis required that the traditional greeting “gruess gott” (roughly, “God bless you”) be replaced with “Heil Hitler.”  It was part of their version of what I have called the politicization of absolutely everything.

    In the US today, the politicized transformation of language has largely originated in universities, especially in their various “studies” departments, and is now being transmitted and amplified by certain corporations.

    For example, it is credibly reported that JP Morgan  now discourages its employees from using terms such as “wife” and “boyfriend.”  According to the internal memo, not referring to your wife as your wife “offers up the opportunity for more inclusive conversations.”

    Presumably, the idea is that those who lack wives or boyfriends…on account of being gay or transgender…will be hurt and offended by the use of the terms.  Which makes about as much sense as the idea that religious people shouldn’t refer to their “minister” or their “rabbi” because to do so might be painful to the non-religious.  Or that people with children shouldn’t refer to their “child” or their “kid” because it might be painful to those who only have cats…maybe a more neutral term like “dependent companion creature” might be used.

    What this is really all about, of course, is sucking up to what somebody at JPM thinks the zeitgeist is among those who may have power over its future.

    Apple Computer, also, is following a similar course.  They have banned the use of the Confederate flag even  as a marker for units in Civil War simulation games sold on the App Store.  (Specifically, they have banned any such marker appearing on a screenshot of the game which will appear in the store.)

    Several days ago, I linked an article arguing that modern “liberalism,” or “progressivism,” or whatever they call themselves, is now almost purely a symbolic project.  The Apple policy that I described about represents symbol-obsession taken to a level that is truly insane.

    While banning the use of the Confederate flag even for purposes of unit-identification icons, Apple has apparently not restricted the use of the Nazi swastika for similar purposes in WWII simulation games. I don’t conclude from this that Apple is a group of Nazi sympathizers, rather, that they are a group of herd-followers and enforcers of the “progressive” herd’s current direction, whatever that direction may be.  (Apple once used the slogan “Think Different”…now, it seems, their slogan should be “think like you are supposed to!)

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Human Behavior, Leftism, USA | 10 Comments »

    Rebel Blood

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 24th June 2015 (All posts by )

    You know, as an unreconstructed Unionist descended (on the maternal side) from a sternly Abolitionist Pennsylvania Quaker who (family legend has it) maintained his house as an alternate safe station on the Underground Railway and was thrown out of the local Quaker meeting for his unseemly enthusiasm for Mr. Lincoln’s war – my affection for the Confederate battle flag, AKA the Stars and Bars – is right down there between fried liver and onions and anaesthetized root canal work. Or at least it was until this morning, when the news broke upon us. It seems that our betters, in the shape of the so-called intellectual, media, political and business elite have decided that no, we ought not to fly any version of the Confederate flag, buy any version of it embossed on various souvenir tat – or even a model of the General Lee car from a dimwitted 1980s television series, The Dukes of Hazzard – a show I don’t think I ever watched, since a merciful deity in the shape of the Air Force Personnel Center saw that I was stationed overseas for most of the years that it was on the air. And no, I don’t think I ever watched an episode of it on AFRTS. My toleration for idiot plots is low.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Anti-Americanism, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Conservatism, Diversions | 38 Comments »

    “Seven Liberal Pieties Only the Right Still Believes”

    Posted by David Foster on 23rd June 2015 (All posts by )

    …an interesting piece by Robert Tracinski

    Posted in Big Government, Business, Civil Liberties, Education, History, Human Behavior, Israel, Leftism, Society, USA | 7 Comments »

    Worthwhile Reading & Viewing

    Posted by David Foster on 14th June 2015 (All posts by )

    Jerry Seinfeld and the Progressive Comedy Pause

    Do political beliefs drive partisanship, or does partisanship drive political beliefs?

    Blackboards, report cards, and newspaper clippings from 1917 discovered behind walls of an Oklahoma City school

    What overparenting looks like from a Stanford dean’s perspective

    The conservatory under a lake

    Some pictures of Japan

    The rise of the new Groupthink, and the power of working alone

    The coming of the Cry-bullies

    Girlwithadragonflytattoo visits an art museum

    Marco Rubio’s boat versus John Kerry’s boat. The NYT is making much of Rubio having spent $80K on a boat.

    There has been much talk of late about the influence of money in politics.  Rarely mentioned is the power of in-kind contributions, such as that represented by the NYT’s predictable favorable coverage of Democratic versus Republican candidates.

    How much would it cost to buy the advertising equivalent of NYT’s support for, say, Hillary Clinton?  The answer has to be at least in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

    Posted in Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Education, Human Behavior, Humor, Japan, Photos, That's NOT Funny | 12 Comments »