Saturday, October 10, 2015

Film Review: 'Sicario'

Action thriller ‘Sicario’ is a must-see knockout

By Kyle Smith

September 17, 2015

In the superb drug thriller “Sicario,” a rugged FBI field agent (Emily Blunt) asks her new boss (Josh Brolin) what exactly his plans are as he convenes a task force of several federal agencies to take on Mexican drug lords. He smiles. “To dramatically overreact,” he says cheerfully. It’s a line to file next to “Terminate . . . with extreme prejudice.” Cue hellfire.

“Sicario,” which combines dizzying action scenes with a taut script, ravishing photography and an otherwordly musical score, is a knockout film from Quebecois director Denis Villeneuve, who propelled himself into the front rank of directors with the harrowing 2013 kidnapping drama “Prisoners.”

“Sicario,” which begins with a helicopter inviting itself into a house, is equal parts an action saga and a tough-minded drama about power — ultimately, the indefatigable force that is drug addiction.
Kate (Blunt), who busts down doors in Arizona for the FBI, is casually recruited by Brolin’s Matt, a “DoD adviser,” which is what you call yourself when you’re CIA.

She is a superfluous presence on his all-star team of grizzled operatives, plus he won’t even tell her what her new colleagues are up to. A mission in “the El Paso area” turns out to mean a sojourn to Mexico to kidnap the brother of a drug lord so he can be tortured into giving up the location of a secret tunnel across the border. Matt’s top aide (Benicio del Toro) describes himself as a former Mexican prosecutor who also has ties to Medellín, Colombia. “Nothing will make sense to your American eyes, and you will doubt everything we do,” he advises her. “But in the end, you will understand.”

Villeneuve, cinematographer Roger Deakins and composer Jóhann Jóhannsson combine to make the action scenes gorgeous, scary and exciting, while the script by Taylor Sheridan is mordant and smart, with not a wasted word. It’s unfortunate that Blunt’s character — by-the-books, married to her job — is underdeveloped, but she is such a determined presence that you may not notice. Great as she is, though, Del Toro, coiled as a cobra, is even better, while Brolin — merry and lethal, a warrior in flipflops — is my favorite of the lot.
“Sicario” (“hit man” in Spanish) is like a fixed-up version of 2013’s “The Counselor,” a film with both merits and flaws galore, and it, like “Traffic” and “Chinatown,” elegantly carries the grim burden of knowing that in its world there is no triumph, no solution, no redemption. As Del Toro puts it, “This is a land of wolves now.”

The 97 Percent Solution

By Ian Tuttle — October 8, 2015

Unable to address Texas senator Ted Cruz’s questions about “the Pause” — the apparent global-warming standstill, now almost 19 years long — at Tuesday’s meeting of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Oversight, Sierra Club president AaronMair, after an uncomfortable pause of his own, appealed to authority: “Ninety-seven percent of scientists concur and agree that there is global warming and anthropogenic impact,” he stated multiple times.

The relevant exchange begins at 1:39 (though the whole segment is worth watching):

The myth of an almost-unanimous climate-change consensus is pervasive. Last May, the White House tweeted: “Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree: #climate change is real, man-made and dangerous.” A few days later, Secretary of State John Kerry announced, “Ninety-seven percent of the world’s scientists tell us this is urgent.”

“Ninety-seven percent of the world’s scientists” say no such thing.

There are multiple relevant questions: (1) Has the earth generally warmed since 1800? (An overwhelming majority of scientists assent to this.) (2) Has that warming been caused primarily by human activity? And, if (1) and (2), is anthropogenic global warming a problem so significant that we ought to take action?

In 2004, University of California-San Diego professor Naomi Oreskes reported that, of 928 scientific abstracts from papers published by refereed scientific journals between 1993 and 2003, “75% . . . either explicitly or implicitly accept[ed] the consensus view; 25% dealt with methods or paleoclimate, taking no position on current anthropogenic climate change. 
Remarkably, none of the papers disagreed with the consensus position.” Also remarkably, the papers chosen excluded several written by prominent scientists skeptical of that consensus. Furthermore, the claims made in abstracts — short summaries of academic papers — often differ from those made in the papers themselves. And Oreskes’s analysis did not take up whether scientists who subscribe to anthropogenic global warming think the phenomenon merits changes in public policy.

The “97 percent” statistic first appeared prominently in a 2009 study by University of Illinois master’s student Kendall Zimmerman and her adviser, Peter Doran. Based on a two-question online survey, Zimmerman and Doran concluded that “the debate on the authenticity of global warming and the role played by human activity is largely nonexistent among those who understand the nuances and scientific bases of long-term climate processes” — even though only 5 percent of respondents, or about 160 scientists, were climate scientists. In fact, the “97 percent” statistic was drawn from an even smaller subset: the 79 respondents who were both self-reported climate scientists and had “published more than 50% of their recent peer-reviewed papers on the subject of climate change.” These 77 scientists agreed that global temperatures had generally risen since 1800, and that human activity is a “significant contributing factor.”

A year later, William R. Love Anderegg, a student at Stanford University, used Google Scholar to determine that “97–98% of the climate researchers most actively publishing in the field surveyed here support the tenets of ACC [anthropogenic climate change] outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.” The sample size did not much improve on Zimmerman and Doran’s: Anderegg surveyed about 200 scientists.

#share#Surely the most suspicious “97 percent” study was conducted in 2013 by Australian scientist John Cook — author of the 2011 book Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand and creator of the blog Skeptical Science (subtitle: “Getting skeptical about global warming skepticism.”). In an analysis of 12,000 abstracts, he found “a 97% consensus among papers taking a position on the cause of global warming in the peer-reviewed literature that humans are responsible.” “Among papers taking a position” is a significant qualifier: Only 34 percent of the papers Cook examined expressed any opinion about anthropogenic climate change at all. Since 33 percent appeared to endorse anthropogenic climate change, he divided 33 by 34 and —voilà — 97 percent! When David Legates, a University of Delaware professor who formerly headed the university’s Center for Climatic Research, recreated Cook’s study, he found that “only 41 papers — 0.3 percent of all 11,944 abstracts or 1.0 percent of the 4,014 expressing an opinion, and not 97.1 percent,” endorsed what Cook claimed. Several scientists whose papers were included in Cook’s initial sample also protested that they had been misinterpreted. “Significant questions about anthropogenic influences on climate remain,” Legates concluded.

Studies showing a wider range of opinion often go unremarked. A 2008 survey by two German scientists, Dennis Bray and Hans von Storch, found that a significant number of scientists were skeptical of the ability of existing global climate models to accurately predict global temperatures, precipitation, sea-level changes, or extreme weather events even over a decade; they were far more skeptical as the time horizon increased. Most did express concerns about global warming and a desire for “immediate action to mitigate climate change” — but not 97 percent.

A 2012 poll of American Meteorological Society members also reported a diversity of opinion. Of the 1,862 members who responded (a quarter of the organization), 59 percent stated that human activity was the primary cause of global warming, and 11 percent attributed the phenomenon to human activity and natural causes in about equal measure, while just under a quarter (23 percent) said enough is not yet known to make any determination. Seventy-six percent said that warming over the next century would be “very” or “somewhat” harmful, but of those, only 22 percent thought that “all” or a “large” amount of the harm could be prevented “through mitigation and adaptation measures.”

And according to a study of 1,868 scientists working in climate-related fields, conducted just this year by the PBL Netherlands Environment Assessment Agency, three in ten respondents said that less than half of global warming since 1951 could be attributed to human activity, or that they did not know.

Given the politics of modern academia and the scientific community, it’s not unlikely that most scientists involved in climate-related studies believe in anthropogenic global warming, and likely believe, too, that it presents a problem. However, there is no consensus approaching 97 percent. A vigorous, vocal minority exists. The science is far from settled.

– Ian Tuttle is a William F. Buckley Jr. Fellow in Political Journalism at the National Review Institute.

At a Monastery in Sight of Islamic State

‘Our lives and hearts are in the hands of God,’ says one of the four remaining monks.

By Bernard-Henri Levy
October 8, 2015

The Mar Mattai monastery in northern Iraq.
The Mar Mattai monastery in northern Iraq. PHOTO: ZUMAPRESS.COM ? DAVID HONL/ZUMA PRESS/CORBIS
On a mountainside in Iraq’s Kurdish region, at the end of a road that winds through sparse olive trees, stands the fourth-century Mar Mattai monastery. It is Iraq’s oldest monastery, named for the hermit monk who retired here at the dawn of Christianity. The forces of Islamic State are a little more than two miles away. When the weather is clear on the plain of Nineveh, you can see the Islamic State front lines defending Mosul about a dozen miles in the distance.
The vast monastery perched high on Mount Alfaf is hewed from stone, its passages, stairways and terraces exposed to the sun and weather. In the courtyard on the ground level live two families who fled Mosul and the persecution of Christians there.
Four monks live at Mar Mattai. There should be several dozen to judge by the empty rooms along the esplanade. But only these four remain, clad in their black robes and caps embroidered with white crosses. In the Eastern Rite church on the upper level, the monks are standing in the crypt at the far end, their eyes closed, intoning one of the “chants of the Greek church” described by Chateaubriand in his 1811 “Record of a Journey From Paris to Jerusalem and Back.” He admired the Kyrie eleison (Lord, have mercy) with its notes “held by different voices, some bass, others treble, executing andante and mezza voce, the octave, fifth, and third.” Its beauty, he said, was enough to cure him of a fever.
I am with a documentary-film crew that records this moment, and am reminded of the “sadness and majesty” that Chateaubriand found in the “remnant of the ancient singing of the primitive church.”
When the monks finish, they indicate that they are ready to talk. In an adjacent room, we discuss the Syrian Orthodox rite, so distinctive and affecting.
Their prayer books, open on a repository, translated from Greek to Arabic and transcribed in Syriac characters.
Their friendly relations with the Jews who, like them, have felt at home in the region since the Babylonian exile.
And then we speak of Islamic State and its mystifying savagery.
“Of course we had problems with the Persians, Mongols, Arabs and Ottomans,” says Raban Yousiff, a cheerful monk of about 40, acting as spokesman for the bishop, whom we recognize by his purple sash and who says nothing. “But never has this region seen such perversity as these men who, while claiming to be fighting in the name of God, are killing him.”
The monk tells us about the fall of Mosul in June 2014. About the “Nazarenes” who were given a few hours to choose between conversion and death by the sword. About the 300 families who flocked here in panic. Two months later, after the barbarians took Qaraqosh and everyone feared that the monastery would be destroyed by the jihadists—as they had wrecked Mar Behnam, south of Mosul—the families fled again.
“Do you think,” I asked the monk, “that these savages can win and that this land might become not only Judenfrei but also cleansed of the Christians who are the last in the world still speaking the language of Jesus?”
He doesn’t hesitate: “Yes, barring a miracle, yes. What sort of miracle? That your countries come in to reinforce the brave Kurdish fighters who are protecting us but who will not be able, by themselves, to liberate the plain of Nineveh.”
I ask him what he tells those of the faithful who have remained but are considering leaving. This time he pauses for a moment.
“I try to enlighten them. But I leave the choice to them. Didn’t our Lord Jesus Christ say that we would be persecuted to the end because of his name?”
Then I ask him if, under the circumstances, he and his companions foresee joining the exodus. He answers before I finish the question.
“No, because we are shepherds. As long as there remains a single member of the flock lost in these villages where, as in the Bible, it is no longer possible to tell right from left, we will be there to guide.”
And if, God forbid, Islamic State breaks through the Kurdish lines and reaches the monastery? He had shown us only moments earlier a tunnel dug into the mountain rock. Would he take it? He smiles.
“I don’t know. Our lives and hearts are in the hands of God. For now we are here. And we, too, are his sentinels.”
As if to clarify the “we, too,” he gestures toward the armed escort who had followed us into the monastery. To my mind comes the philosopher’s phrase, “ultimi barbarorum”—along with a sickening apprehension that we might be in the company of a handful of the ultimi christianorum, whose dispersal after so many centuries would carry fateful portents for the region, for civilization, for the world.
Mr. Lévy’s books include “Left in Dark Times: A Stand Against the New Barbarism” (Random House, 2008). This op-ed was translated from the French by Steven B. Kennedy.Excerpts from Chateaubriand translated by A.S. Kline.

The Real Benghazi Investigation

The Clinton-McCarthy spat is a shame. Trey Gowdy has led a model search for the truth.

By Kimberly A. Strassel
October 8, 2015

Trey Gowdy (R., S.C.), the House Benghazi committee chairman, and other committee members at a Capitol Hill news conference, Sept. 10.
Trey Gowdy (R., S.C.), the House Benghazi committee chairman, and other committee members at a Capitol Hill news conference, Sept. 10. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG NEWS

Kevin McCarthy unexpectedly withdrew from the House speaker’s race on Thursday, a casualty of a fractured Republican conference. The Californian didn’t do much to inspire confidence last week when he suggested that the House Benghazi committee had been designed to attack Hillary Clinton.

One pity of the McCarthy comments is that they tainted the committee’s work with politics. The bigger pity is that they are dead wrong. South Carolina Republican Trey Gowdy is 18 months into the committee that the House purpose-built to investigate the 2012 terrorist assault in Libya that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens. His Benghazi investigation has been a model of seriousness, professionalism and discreetness.

The statistics alone bear this out. The committee has so far reviewed 50,000 new pages of documents. Less than 5% have anything to do with Mrs. Clinton’s work as secretary of state. It has interviewed 51 witnesses. Forty-one of those were brand-new—no committee had bothered to speak with them before, though seven were eyewitnesses to the attack.

Not that you will have seen any of this testimony. Congress generally loves public hearings—members relish parading in front of cameras, grilling and humiliating witnesses. But Mr. Gowdy, a former prosecutor, is more interested in getting information. All 51 of the committee’s interviews have been done in private, attended by committee members or staff from both parties. In a public hearing, the majority Republicans get more time than Democrats to speak. In private interviews, time is divided equally. Mr. Gowdy is fine with that.

If Republican Rep. Darrell Issa were running this committee, is there any doubt that he would have put Clinton fixer Sidney Blumenthal in the public hot seat? Mr. Gowdy’s committee interviewed him privately. When Mr. Blumenthal’s lawyer said he would be out of the country on the proposed interview date, Mr. Gowdy rescheduled; he wanted the Democratic operative to have competent counsel. Former Clinton chief of staffCheryl Mills’s private interview concluded with the remarkable sight of her, Mr. Gowdy and ranking Democrat Elijah Cummings together at a post-interview press availability, where she thanked the committee for its “professionalism” and “respect.”

The House Select Committee on Benghazi has held three public hearings. Mr. Gowdy allowed Democratic members to choose the first two topics. They predictably focused on the work of the State Department’s Benghazi Accountability Review Board, which they like to claim has already settled what happened in Libya. Mr. Gowdy nonetheless committed to thorough hearings. When Washington Democrat Adam Smith looked likely to miss a hearing because of hip surgery, Mr. Gowdy set up a Skype connection so that he could ask his questions. Mr. Gowdy made the same offer to Illinois’s Tammy Duckworth, who’d just had a child. When she politely declined, he allotted her question time to Mr. Cummings—a fair-play move rarely seen in D.C.

Washington lawmakers love their powers, and Mr. Gowdy has plenty. He has exercised them prudently. The Benghazi committee has issued only threes subpoenas. One to Mr. Blumenthal, whom the committee had trouble tracking down. One to the State Department for a specific batch of emails. And one to Mrs. Clinton, when the news first broke that she had maintained a private server for her email. When Mrs. Clinton later claimed that she was not under subpoena, Mr. Gowdy didn’t complain, he simply released the subpoena to set the record straight. He has declined to answer questions about whether he thinks she has committed any crimes.

Mr. Gowdy hasn’t needed to use subpoenas because agencies are willingly giving him documents. He has obtained materials from the CIA and Defense Department that those agencies refused to give to other committees. The White House has also agreed to give him material. Mr. Gowdy inspires confidence that, unlike most congressional committees, his group isn’t going to leak information to sabotage political targets.
That’s because Mr. Gowdy handpicked a staff of 16 professionals, many recruited from law-enforcement and legal backgrounds, headed up by retired Lt. Gen. Dana Chipman,who was an Obama-appointed Army judge advocate general. Mr. Gowdy told every hire on day one that leaking was a firing offense.

Keeping the Benghazi committee on the straight and narrow hasn’t been fun. Democrats work with Mr. Gowdy in private but then berate his committee in public. Conservative activists and talk-radio hosts blast him for depriving them of the drama they crave—for not running a get-Hillary committee. The State Department blocks him. And now his own side has made his job that much harder.

Don’t expect Mr. Gowdy to give up. He has run his committee with one goal in mind: finding answers for the families of four dead Americans. Mrs. Clinton flatters herself if she thinks it’s all about her.

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Friday, October 09, 2015

How Putin Is Winning And Losing Syria

No one is in Syria because of ISIS.

October 8, 2015
Russian President Vladimir Putin stands with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, right, during a meeting in the UN Headquarters on Sept. 28, 2015, in New York City.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov have increased Russia's presence in the Middle East. (Getty Images)
The Russian line is that they’re in Syria to fight ISIS. But the Russians, like the Turks, Iranians and Europeans, don’t care about ISIS. By declaring itself a Caliphate, ISIS made itself non-aligned. The fighting in Syria isn’t about ISIS. It predated the rise of ISIS as a major player. It’s about Syria.
ISIS has become a convenient excuse for converging on Syria. But no one is there because of ISIS.
The Turks are bombing Syria for their old hobby of killing Kurds. Turkey will occasionally bomb supposed ISIS targets for propaganda purposes, but mostly its air force bombs the Kurdish enemies of ISIS. Russia will do the same thing, hitting ISIS for propaganda purposes, but focusing on Sunni anti-Assad groups.
Turkey and Russia are bombing so many of ISIS’ enemies, that they might as well be backing ISIS.
Putin and Erdogan aren’t there to fight ISIS, but neither is Obama. Obama’s campaign to “degrade” ISIS is another failure and no amount of cooked intel to make it seem like he’s winning can change that. 
Obama got into Syria to back Sunni Islamist coalitions. Russia is in Syria to back a Shiite Islamist coalition. We never got around to bombing the Shiites because Obama’s red line wavered and broke, but the Russians are making up for it by bombing the Sunni Islamists that Obama was backing.
Obama is protesting to Putin on weak grounds. Granted, Moscow is lying about its agenda in Syria. It isn’t there to fight ISIS. It’s there to fight other Sunni Jihadists, some of whom are linked to Al Qaeda, which ISIS is also fighting. But then again Obama has lied just as much about Syria as Putin has.
The US, Europe and Russia are fighting over which bunch of Islamic terrorists to support. It’s a lot like the Cold War. There are no good guys. Just bad guys that we support and bad guys they support.
Putin is there to support Iran’s Shiite terrorists. Obama is there to support Saudi Sunni terrorists. No one is there to support ISIS which is why bombing it is not a major priority for either side in this contest.
We’re the only ones bombing ISIS full-time, but that’s because Obama was caught shorthanded by ISIS genocide being televised and couldn’t think of anything else to do. His new alliance with Iran and his old alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood make it hard for him to bomb or not bomb Assad. Bombing ISIS is a compromise since both his new Iranian friends and his old Brotherhood friends oppose the group. 
Bombing ISIS allows Obama to pander to both Shiite and non-ISIS Sunni Jihadists and their backers. 
But Putin is thinking strategically. He wants to reduce Western influence by backing a Shiite axis. Obama has no coherent plan anymore. The original Arab Spring plan of backing the Muslim Brotherhood that caused the Syrian Civil War fell apart ages ago. Obama supports the Sunni Jihadists on paper, but has been hesitant about providing them with weapons or air support. Meanwhile he’s backing their Shiite Jihadist rivals in Iraq. 
While Putin acts as the Shiite air force in Syria, Obama acts as the Shiite air force in Iraq. It’s a good deal for Iran and less work for Putin, but it does nothing coherent for American national interests.
The Shiite axis lets Russia expand its power in the region at bargain basement prices. Moscow can’t afford even those prices, but Putin has given up on economic development and is basing his entire regime on restarting the Cold War. Russian streets are full of angry old Communists holding up signs reading, “We are ready to perish to help Putin.”
And the war has all sorts of interesting fringe benefits.
The Muslim migrant invasion of Europe may not have been a calculated Russian strategy, but then again it just might be. Hungary is already talking about moving away from the EU and toward Russia. Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic feel betrayed by the EU. 
Non-EU members who might have seen the EU as a defense against a Russian invasion now feel they have to choose between a Russian invasion and a Muslim invasion.
Unexpectedly, Syria has proven to be a major asset for Putin’s Eurasian expansion program. It has probably done more to help him get the old WarPac gang back together again than invading Ukraine. 
The more chaos Russia creates in the Middle East, the more Muslims flood into Europe, the shakier the European Union becomes. If Putin achieves nothing else in Syria, he can keep the flow of Muslim migrants going long enough to bring down the rest of Europe.
And if Europe is in bad enough shape, his Eurasian Union becomes more viable. 
The Soviet Union became a major threat once the rest of Europe has been ruined by WW2. The Muslim migration isn’t quite WW2, but then Putin’s plans for the Eurasian Union are just a poor mashup of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union which will somehow uphold Russian power while being majority Muslim. It’s hard to imagine a worse and more unstable entity than the USSR, but a Eurasian Union with Russian ex-KGB rulers and Muslim armies subjugating Slavic countries might just be the ticket.
Back in Syria, Putin has made Russian airpower into the protector of Assad and Hezbollah. The US will be expected to coordinate its moves with Russia. Israel has already worked out an arrangement under which it may have to coordinate air strikes against Russia’s Hezbollah terror allies with… Russia. 
It’s a dangerous game for Russia. Russian air power is no match for either the US or Israel. Quite a few Russian pilots were shot down and captured by the Israelis during major wars. But Putin is gambling that Obama won’t have the guts to push him and that Netanyahu has too many other things on his mind.
He’s probably right about Obama, but he may be wrong about Netanyahu.
Stopping Iranian weapons shipments to terrorists has been a primary goal of Israeli operations abroad. Israel has pursued that goal by hitting targets from Dubai to Sudan to Syria. If Putin expects to extend his umbrella over Shiite terror groups targeting Israel, he won’t be able to do that without a fight.
Israel views Iranian aid to Hamas and Hezbollah as an existential threat. The ability of both groups to strike deep within Israel in ways that disrupt life in major cities has become a major crisis. If the situation escalates, Israel may be forced to go back to the territorial strategy of holding security zones.
But Israel is one of the few players in this game that puts the terror threat first because it strikes close to home. For Obama and Putin, for Turkey and Iran, it’s all about geopolitical strategy and power blocs.
Russia, Turkey and Iran want to rebuild old empires. Obama wants to undo colonialism by backing Islamists. The only common denominator in their goals is that they will all lead to more terrorism.
The bigger question is how much water does Putin intend to carry for the Shiite axis.
The Ayatollah Khomeini may have called America the “Great Satan”, but he called Russia the “Lesser Satan”. On the year of his death, he did send a letter urging Gorbachev to abandon Communism and study Islam. Gorbachev’s face reportedly turned redder than usual, but the letter served as the basis for a growing relationship between the Islamic Republic and the Lesser Russian Satan. 
Putin’s Eurasian Empire depends on seizing or controlling a lot of territories that were originally controlled by Iran. These include parts of Azerbaijan, Dagestan, Georgia and Armenia. Those may not be Iran’s major focus now, but a collision course between these two wannabe empires is inevitable.  
Russia and America are both playing an old disastrous Cold War game of building up Muslim terrorists and terror states. Russia helped innovate moderate Muslim terror tactics only to fall victim to them. The United States has backed a Muslim Brotherhood that intends to conquer the United States.
Putin may be winning now in Syria, but it’s a victory that belongs to Iran. Its Shiite terrorists will strike at America and Israel, but they will eventually also strike at Russia. 
Putin is thinking longer term than Obama. But not by that much.
 Tags: IranISISPutinRussiaSyria

Thursday, October 08, 2015

‘Hypermasculinity’ and You: The Problem with Your Biceps

College students get a warning: weak means strong, unhealthy means healthy, and men with muscles might rape.

by Mark Rippetoe
October 6, 2015

(Pictured: Unhealthy male) 

An article by JR Ridley in the October 5 issue of The College Fix highlights a new type of masculinity criticism: our muscles can be too big for “healthy masculinity,” which apparently involves emotional vulnerability and sensitivity.
According to one Jackson Katz, the first male to minor in Women’s Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, sexual violence and domestic abuse are men’s issues, and he feels they are linked to the size of our muscles and our guns in popular culture.
Citing an increase in the size of G.I. Joe’s biceps and of action heroes’ pistols over the course of 60 years — while ignoring (or more probably ignorant of) the fact that better physical training and firearms technology has made these obviously desirable developments possible — Katz concludes that being perceived as menacing is a necessary and increasingly more customary part of masculinity.
He prefers the emotionally vulnerable, sensitive form of masculinity (the estrogen variety?) to the standard American testosterone version: competitive, stoic, and aggressive.
Does this imply that women, too, should be emotionally vulnerable? Why should anyone be emotionally vulnerable?
Eve Ensler, the author of The Vagina Monologues and sponsor of a panel discussion on “The Male Code” of rape and violence in one of the linked videos in the piece, states that she became so depressed while contemplating the events surrounding the situation in Steubenville, Ohio, that “I got so depressed that I literally got into bed and cried for a few hours.” This is preferable to stoicism and competitiveness?
I suppose that Katz’s background as an academic and gender violence consultant has prepared him to question the traditional roles of men and women. Since the beginnings of human culture, normal human sexual dimorphism — the physical differences between the sexes — assigned roles to men and woman based on the realities of the differences in physical capacity between them. Many societies and cultures throughout the world, even today, require men and women to pursue different tasks as vocations. The sexual ramifications of physical work, child-rearing, personal and family defense, and their carryover to social identity have inevitably produced roles defined by sex.
As technology has progressed, these distinctions have blurred, but try as we might, we have been unable to reduce the human species into an androgynous gray smear. Sexual dimorphism persists, even if the roles previously assigned on its basis have become less important to liberal arts majors.
And some of us still occupy positions within society that are more physical and elemental than those occupied by tenured academics. Some of us even like it that way, choosing to split our own wood and clean our own houses.
As a strength coach, I believe everybody needs bigger muscles. Everybody.
You, your dad, your mom, and your sister need bigger stronger muscles, because you’re healthier and you live longer and more productively when your physical existence is optimized by more muscle mass. Nothing within the stark reality of sexual dimorphism requires women to be weak, even though many of you have convinced yourselves that it’s okay.
In my opinion, it’s everyone’s responsibility to be physically strong.
And why would you buy a K-frame .38 like Humphrey Bogart pointed at bad guys when you can own an N-frame .44 like Harry Callahan used? I understand that people with smaller hands — most women, for example — can’t safely handle a big pistol. These days, they make smaller ones that will still kill you.
I also think I understand that Dr. Katz sees no reason for a woman to need a handgun — he’d rather shove the rhetoric in the other direction, placing the responsibility on me and you to not rape.
We weren’t going to rape anyway, but that’s apparently beside the point. Since the process of getting big and strong obviously leads us to also desire power over women that don’t want to have sex with us, we probably will just rape them. Big strong men are sorry bastards that way. But we shouldn’t be. Then again, since we’re all bulked up and hypermasculine, and since hypermasculinity leads inexorably to rape, and since we have these big guns, we probably will.
Jax, ol’ buddy, that’s what her handgun is for.

New York Times Says ‘Modern Man’ ‘Has No Use for a Gun,’ ‘Cries Often’

Mark Rippetoe is the author of Starting Strength: Basic Barbell TrainingPractical Programming for Strength TrainingStrong Enough?Mean Ol' Mr. Gravity, and numerous journal, magazine and internet articles. Rip was a competitive powerlifter for ten years, has coached many lifters and athletes, and has given seminars to thousands around the country.

The ‘Legacy of Slavery’ Is an Excuse for Social Degeneration

By Thomas Sowell — October 7, 2015

Getty Images By: Hulton Archive

One of the secrets of successful magicians on stage is directing the audience’s attention to something that is attractive or distracting, but irrelevant to what is actually being done. That is also the secret of successful political charlatans.

Consider the message directed at business owners by Senator Elizabeth Warren and President Barack Obama — “You didn’t build that!”

Assuming for the sake of argument that a man who owns a business simply inherited it from his father, what follows? That politicians can use the inherited resources better than the heir? Such a sweeping assumption has neither logic nor evidence behind it — but rhetoric doesn’t have to have logic or evidence to be politically effective.

The conclusion is insinuated, rather than spelled out, so it is less likely to be scrutinized. Moreover, attention is directed toward the undeserved good fortune of the heir, and away from the crucial question as to whether society will in fact be better off if politicians take over more of either the management or the earnings of the business.

The question of politicians’ track record in managing economic activities vanishes into thin air, just as other things vanish into thin air by a magician’s sleight of hand on stage.

Another of the magic feats of political rhetoric in our time is to blame “a legacy of slavery” for problems in the black community today. The repulsiveness of slavery immediately seizes our attention, just as effectively as the attractiveness of a magician’s scantily clad female assistant or the distraction of a flash of light or a loud noise on stage.

Here again, rhetoric distracts attention from questions about logic or evidence. The “legacy of slavery” argument is not just a convenient excuse for bad behavior, it allows politicians to escape responsibility for the consequences of the government policies they imposed.

Although the Left likes to argue as if there was a stagnant world to which they added the magic ingredient of “change” in the 1960s, in reality there were many positive trends in the 1950s, which reversed and became negative trends in the 1960s.

Not only was the poverty rate going down, so was the rate of dependence on government to stay out of poverty. Teenage pregnancy rates were falling, and so were rates of venereal diseases like syphilis and gonorrhea. Homicide rates among non-white males fell 22 percent in the 1950s.

In the wake of the massive expansion of the welfare state in the 1960s “war on poverty” program — with the repeatedly announced goal of enabling people to become self-supporting and end their dependence on government — in fact dependence on government increased and is today far higher than when the 1960s began.

The declining rates of teenage pregnancy and venereal diseases in the 1950s both reversed and rose sharply in the wake of the 1960s “sexual revolution” ideas, introduced into schools under the guise of “sex education,” which claimed to be able to reduce teenage pregnancy and venereal diseases.

Black labor-force participation rates, which had been higher than white labor-force participation rates in every census from 1890 to 1960, fell below white labor-force participation rates by 1972, and the gap has widened since then. Homicide rates among non-white males reversed their decline in the 1950s and soared by 75 percent during the 1960s.

None of this was a “legacy of slavery,” which ended a century earlier. But slavery became the rhetorical distraction for the political magicians’ trick of making their own responsibility for social degeneration vanish into thin air by sleight of hand.

Political charlatans are not the whole story of our social degeneracy on many fronts. “We the people” must accept our own share of the blame because we voted these charlatans into office and went along with their ever-increasing power over our lives.

When it came to charlatans taking ever-larger amounts of our own money to finance ever more big-government programs, we stood still like sheep waiting to be sheared. We remained as meek as sheep when they turned schools into places to propagandize our children to grow up accepting more of the same.

All the while we had the power to vote them out. But we couldn’t be bothered to look beyond their magic words. Even now, many are too absorbed in their electronic devices to know or care.

— Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. His website is © 2015 Creators Syndicate Inc.

The Problem Isn't Guns Or White Men

Ann Coulter | Oct 07, 2015

Photo of Chris Harper-Mercer holding a gun from his Myspace page
Chris Harper-Mercer posted a photograph of himself holding a gun online (PA)

The media act as if they're performing a public service by refusing to release details about the perpetrator of the recent mass shooting at a community college in Oregon. But we were given plenty of information about Dylan Roof, Adam Lanza, James Holmes and Jared Loughner. 
Now, quick: Name the mass shooters at the Chattanooga military recruitment center; the Washington Navy Yard; the high school in Washington state; Fort Hood (the second time) and the Christian college in California. All those shootings also occurred during the last three years.

The answers are: Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez, Kuwaiti; Aaron Alexis, black, possibly Barbadian-American; Jaylen Ray Fryberg, Indian; Ivan Antonio Lopez, Hispanic; and One L. Goh, Korean immigrant. (While I'm here: Why are we bringing in immigrants who are mentally unstable?)

There's a rigid formula in media accounts of mass shootings: If possible, blame it on angry white men; when that won't work, blame it on guns.

The perpetrator of the latest massacre, Chris Harper-Mercer, was a half-black immigrant, so the media are refusing to get too specific about him. They don't want to reward the fiend with publicity!

But as people hear details the media are not anxious to provide, they realize that, once again: It's a crazy person. How long is this going to go on?

When will the public rise up and demand that the therapeutic community stop loosing these nuts on the public? After the fact, scores of psychiatrists are always lining up to testify that the defendant was legally insane, unable to control his actions. That information would be a lot more helpful before the wanton slaughter.
Product manufacturers are required by law to anticipate that some idiot might try to dry his cat in the microwave. But a person whose job it is to evaluate mental illness can't be required to ascertain whether the person sitting in his office might be unstable enough to kill?

Maybe at their next convention, psychiatrists could take up a resolution demanding an end to our absurd patient privacy and involuntary commitment laws.

True, America has more privately owned guns than most other countries, and mass shootings are, by definition, committed with guns. But we also make it a lot more difficult than any other country to involuntarily commit crazy people.

Since the deinstitutionalization movement of the 1960s, civil commitment in the United States almost always requires a finding of dangerousness -- both imminent and physical -- as determined by a judge. Most of the rest of the world has more reasonable standards -- you might almost call them "common sense" -- allowing family, friends and even acquaintances to petition for involuntarily commitment, with the final decision made by doctors.

The result of our laissez-faire approach to dangerous psychotics is visible in the swarms of homeless people on our streets, crazy people in our prison populations and the prevalence of mass shootings.

According to a 2002 report by Central Institute of Mental Health for the European Union, the number of involuntarily detained mental patients, per 100,000 people, in other countries looks like this:

-- Austria, 175

-- Finland, 218

-- Germany, 175

-- Sweden, 114

-- England, 93

The absolute maximum number of mental patients per 100,000 people who could possibly be institutionalized by the state in the U.S. -- voluntarily or involuntarily -- is: 17. Yes, according to the Treatment Advocacy Center, there are a grand total of 17 psychiatric beds even available, not necessarily being used. In 1955, there were 340.

After every mass shooting, the left has a lot of fun forcing Republicans to defend guns. Here's an idea: Why not force Democrats to defend the right of the dangerous mentally ill not to take their medicine?

Liberals will howl about "stigmatizing" the mentally ill, but they sure don't mind stigmatizing white men or gun owners. About a third of the population consists of white men. Between a third and half of all Americans have guns in the home. If either white men or guns were the main cause of mass murder, no one would be left in the country.

But I notice that every mass murder is committed by someone who is mentally ill. When the common denominator is a characteristic found in about 0.1 percent of the population -- I think we've found the crucial ingredient!

Democrats won't be able to help themselves, but to instantly close ranks and defend dangerous psychotics, hauling out the usual meaningless statistics:

-- Most mentally ill are not violent!

Undoubtedly true. BUT WE'RE NOT TALKING ABOUT ANOREXICS, AGORAPHOBICS OR OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVES. We were thinking of paranoid schizophrenics.

-- The mentally ill are more likely to be victims than perpetrators of violence!

I'll wager that the percentage of the nation's 310 million guns that are ever used in a crime is quite a bit lower than the percentage of mentally ill to ever engage in violence.

As with the "most Muslims are peaceful" canard, while a tiny percentage of mentally ill are violent, a gigantic percentage of mass shooters are mentally ill.

How can these heartless Democrats look the parents of dead children in the eye and defend the right of the mentally deranged to store their feces in a shoebox, menace library patrons -- and, every now and then, commit mass murder?