Iceland abortions, compiled by Wm. Robert Johnston

“They used to say that a child conceived in love has a greater chance of happiness. They don’t say that anymore.”

-Vincent (Gattaca, 1997)

This week in the commissary I passed a mother and daughter in the frozen seafood section. Her daughter was probably 9, and by her facial structure I guessed she had Down Syndrome. I made sure to smile at her and wave (if I hadn’t had three kids in tow, I would have stopped to chat). You would think it normal to smile at people, but CBS reminded us that kids like the one I passed by are being murdered at an extraordinary rate.

Continue reading “Lacking in love”

This video turned up on my Facebook feed, where a beautiful young girl makes the point, “Black people have scarier things on the horizon than the almost endangered species of white supremacy.”

So do people of every color.

As she points out, the media are still carrying on about what Pres. Trump said/didn’t say at a press conference three days ago.

Harry Stein states What Trump got right in the press conference:

Objecting to the tearing down of these monuments does not make one a Nazi, or a racist, or even passingly unreasonable, much as Trump’s adversaries wish it were so.

I was a student at the University of Georgia in the early 1970s. Jimmy Carter was governor and segregationist Lester Maddox his lieutenant governor.

I had transferred from the University of Puerto Rico with sketchy knowledge of the history of the South, but even then I realized that the Civil War, which caused 620,000 deaths on both sides, was America’s defining moment. The Civil War is worthy of study and reflection, and trying to wipe out unpleasantness by destroying any amount of public monuments will not erase that: “Our history doesn’t change when a monument is removed.”

The young girl in the video posits that the media is creating a narrative. I’m not sure who originated the narrative at this point, but I agree with her that the media is simulating a reality of sorts. Hours, days, of sundry talking heads opining about a press conference have priority over news such as

  1. Mike Pence’s official visits to Colombia, Argentina, Chile and Panama, the latter being cut short over the North Korea situation
  2. Colombia’s FARC official disarmament day while dissenting FARC factions fight government forces
  3. Russia arming Venezuela’s government in exchange for oil
  4. al-Qaeda taking territorial control in Syria
  5. and of course, yesterday’s terrorist attack in Spain.

The Guardian has the latest on item #4:

Hours after van killed 13 people and injured 100 in Las Ramblas, seaside town of Cambrils hit by second vehicle attack, leaving one dead and six wounded

Predictably, there’s a Trump-associated headline on this.

Journalism used to go by “if it bleeds, it leads.” Now so-called journalists are the ones deciding what bleeds where, and they’re bleeding Trump from every one of their pores.

Attention: See Da Tech Guy’s pinned post!

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog

An Ivy League professor, a Google engineer, and a writer for a leftist publication walked into a bar…

Even though they didn’t actually join one another over a round of drinks, the group provided an interesting cocktail of ideas that provided some inconvenient truths and interrupted the annoying noise of news in recent days.

Amy Wax, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania, and Larry Alexander, a law professor at the University of San Diego, have offered insights into the role of diversity and today’s culture. It is not a pretty picture.

In a recent column in philly.com, they wrote: “A combination of factors — prosperity, the Pill, the expansion of higher education, and the doubts surrounding the Vietnam War — encouraged an antiauthoritarian, adolescent, wish-fulfillment ideal — sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll — that was unworthy of, and unworkable for, a mature, prosperous adult society.

“All cultures are not equal. Or at least they are not equal in preparing people to be productive in an advanced economy,” they continued. “If the bourgeois cultural script — which the upper-middle class still largely observes but now hesitates to preach — cannot be widely reinstated, things are likely to get worse for us all.”

Professors Wax and Alexander obviously did not swallow the academic pill that promotes diversity over everything else and sees all cultures as equal.

“Would the re-embrace of bourgeois norms by the ordinary Americans who have abandoned them significantly reduce society’s pathologies? There is every reason to believe so. Among those who currently follow the old precepts, regardless of their level of education or affluence, the homicide rate is tiny, opioid addiction is rare, and poverty rates are low. Those who live by the simple rules that most people used to accept may not end up rich or hold elite jobs, but their lives will go far better than they do now. All schools and neighborhoods would be much safer and more pleasant. More students from all walks of life would be educated for constructive employment and democratic participation,” they said.

Read the entire column at http://www.philly.com/philly/opinion/commentary/paying-the-price-for-breakdown-of-the-countrys-bourgeois-culture-20170809.html

But Professors Wax and Alexander are not alone. James Damore, a software engineer, wrote the now-famous treatise: Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber.

“At Google, we talk so much about unconscious bias as it applies to race and gender, but we rarely discuss our moral biases. Political orientation is actually a result of deep moral preferences and thus biases. Considering that the overwhelming majority of the social sciences, media, and Google lean left, we should critically examine these prejudices,” he wrote in the 10-page memo.

Damore, who lost his job after the document went viral, described himself as a “classic liberal.” His argument that some women may be less temperamentally suited to work as engineers than men got him into hot water. Here is the entire memo: https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/evzjww/here-are-the-citations-for-the-anti-diversity-manifesto-circulating-at-google

But there’s more. The Nation, a historically left-leaning magazine, published an article arguing that Russia may not have been behind the hack of the computers at the Democratic National Committee. Instead, the hack may have been the work of a DNC insider, The Nation reported. Here is the article: https://www.thenation.com/article/a-new-report-raises-big-questions-about-last-years-dnc-hack/

Not surprisingly, the left attacked each of these individuals who failed to conform with today’s overarching memes. Nevertheless, it was refreshing to see alternative viewpoints as part of an actual debate about important issues that run against the grain of conventional wisdom, particularly in light of the continuing screeds after the events in Charlottesville.

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT —  In the wake of last week’s flooding in New Orleans and the epic fallout of blame that has deluged us in the media, it is worth noting that the mayor of the city, Mitch Landrieu, has taken no blame whatsoever for the disaster that left many city residents and businesses all wet.

Saturday, August 5, New Orleans took on large amounts of rainfall in a short period – in some areas up to nine inches of rain – more than city pumps could keep up with:

New Orleans is prone to large rainfall events during the spring and throughout hurricane season. The city sits below sea level and is protected by a complex system of drainage pumps operated by the Sewerage and Water Board. After Hurricane Katrina battered New Orleans in 2005, the federal government sent billions of dollars to New Orleans for improved flood protection, better drainage systems and enhanced levees. In the aftermath of the flood Saturday, there needs to be an accounting of how all of those dollars have been spent.

After the disaster, through the week, the blame game heated up. Heads rolled. People were fired or resigned.  Landrieu tried to stay unscathed.

It’s important to note that Mitch wasn’t even in the city. He was at a conference in Aspen, CO for the purpose of beefing up his presidential credentials.   He didn’t address the people of the city for two days:

[When the flooding began], Landrieu was attending a “security conference” at the Aspen Institute and did not bother to address the people of New Orleans until two days after the storm.

In effect, Landrieu placed his Aspen Institute conference above the citizens of New Orleans. Any true leader would have taken the next flight back to New Orleans to direct the city government’s response to the flood. Instead, Mitch Landrieu hid behind his administration officials and when they failed to meet expectations, he blamed them, fired them and tried to convey to the citizens a false image of engaged leadership.

As it turns out, after a series of false numbers, 16 of the city’s pumps were offline or undergoing maintenance when the storm hit.  Sixteen pumps not working during hurricane season.

As of Saturday, seven days after the storm, Landrieu has still not reviewed Water & Sewerage Board log to assess the problem:

“I have not looked at the logs personally,” Landrieu said during a Saturday morning press conference called to give an update on the status of a turbine that generates electricity for many of the city’s pumps.

The Times-Picayune is calling for Landrieu’s head:

Landrieu must carry a lion’s share of responsibility here. He appointed public works director Mark Jernigan, who apparently never got around to using $3 million earmarked for catch basin repair and maintenance. The mayor also maneuvered Cedric Grant into his role of executive director of the Sewerage & Water Board as a way to overhaul an agency that has been described “as a den for contract-peddling and sweetheart deals for those with the right connections.”

And while Landrieu claims he had no idea things were this bad, his own people cry foul:

But the mayor’s version took a hit late Thursday (Aug. 10) when Sewerage & Water Board president pro-tem Scott Jacobs announced his resignation and criticized Landrieu for blaming employees when the mayor was well aware of all the problems before the storms hit.

If the public is angry with anyone, Jacobs said it should be at the Landrieu administration “for not saying years ago, ‘You are at risk.’ This is not the first time we’ve had turbines down. This time, we got caught.”

Perhaps this will be the event that finally forces Landrieu’s supporters to see him for the career politician that he is and shut down Landrieu’s presidential aspirations.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

The ad I’m now seeing off I-95 in Connecticut, found on this blog

For anyone who has to travel on I-95 in the western portion of Connecticut, you know there is always traffic, and often it is at a standstill. Well placed ads on the side of the freeway make sense there, and I started to see black and white ads (like the one above) rabidly promoting veganism as a way to prevent animal cruelty.

Normally I don’t care much about veganism or other fad diets in general, but what I’m starting to notice is that a lot of really smart people my age (the Xenials if you will) are pushing veganism in various forms for their families. They think it’s healthier, gets back to our “agrarian roots,” and that if we only just stopped killing animals and eating processed food, world peace would rain down like manna from heaven.

OK, I made the manna part up, but it’s not far off the vegan ideal. Continue reading “Angry Vegans and Light Beer”

The Rolling Stones famously sang,

Oh, a storm is threat’ning
My very life today
If I don’t get some shelter
Oh yeah, I’m gonna fade away.

Over in Argentina, former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who came to power when her husband Néstor Kirchner died suddenly of a heart condition, sees a storm is threat’ning: She has been charged with money laundering for the fourth time.

Fernandez already faces trial in a separate case for alleged financial mismanagement in office and pending charges for allegedly ordering Argentina’s central bank to illegally trade derivatives, which cost the country $5.5 billion.

And let’s not forget the fourteen houses she “never declared” to the anti-corruption or the tax authorities.

So where does a grieving widow seek shelter from the upcoming storm?

She runs for Senate in the country’s most populous province, of course!

It so happens that, if elected, the seat (emphasis added)

would give her congressional immunity from federal prosecution for alleged money laundering and racketeering during her presidency.

As I was planning this post this morning, I was looking at the list of categories under which to file it. I opted for “are you kidding me.” Why? Because she’s ahead in the polls.

After Argentinians elected Mauricio Macri president, foreign investors hoped his administration would pass reforms to undo Fernandez’s chaotic economic policies, interventionist strategies and trade restrictions. Cristina’s campaign does not bode well:

The peso currency has lost 9 percent of its value since Fernandez declared her candidacy on June 24. The central bank has sold more than $1 billion in reserves in the past two weeks to stop the currency’s slide, including a $298.2 million intervention on Thursday.

Argentina may, once again, slip back into its old storms.

Attention: See Da Tech Guy’s pinned post!

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT —  New Orleans flooded this weekend.  Again.

A heavy deluge of eight to ten inches fell on the city in a short time Saturday flooding homes, cars, businesses and creating havoc throughout the city.  People in New Orleans realize that their city is basically a below-sea-level bowl and flooding is always an issue, but there is also an extensive system of pumps, drainage, and catch basins that work to keep what happened this weekend from happening.

Last year the New Orleans City Council approved $3 million to work on drainage infrastructure and repairs, however the Landrieu administration has not yet started repairs because they’ve been waiting on an environmental review…for over a year.

The Department of Public Works contends that just because the $3 million hasn’t been tapped, they have not been ignoring daily repairs and cleaning of catch basins.

Obviously drainage was not a Landrieu priority last year; Mitch was much more focused on monuments and equity circles.

In a press conference Saturday, Cedric Grant, head of the Sewerage and Water Board attributed much of the problem to climate change, saying this type of flooding will happen more often.

As their city flooded once again, many residents took to social media to deride Landrieu for spending money on monument removal rather than drainage.

For his part, Landrieu suggested citizens clean out their own catch basins:

“These no-notice rain and flooding events can be very dangerous, but luckily, there was no loss of life,” Landrieu said. “Today, we begin the hard work of assisting those who flooded and getting our streets passable for regular traffic. With additional rain expected today and the rest of this week, I would encourage all of our residents to clean in front of their catch basins.”

It’s admirable and expected that citizens to take responsibility for their own safety of course. There are over 68,000 catch basins in the city:

The Department of Public Works’ maintenance department is responsible for cleaning and clearing catch basins of debris. There are 68,092 catch basins in the City. Each year the City budgets resources to clean approximately 3,500 catch basins.

The broken and clogged catch basins have been a source of conflict for over a year as some members of the City Council question the lack of maintenance from the Department of Public Works. In April, a dead body was found in one catch basin and workers had to dig out clogs and termites to get to the body of Joseph Consonery who had been murdered.

New Orleans, after Hurricane Katrina, supposedly put drainage and the pump system as top priority:

Sewerage & Water Board officials have said city’s drainage pumping system is designed to handle an inch of rainfall during the first hour of an event and a half-inch each hour thereafter. Officials said all 24 pumping stations were on and working on Saturday. The temporary pumping stations at the ends of the 17th Street, London Avenue and Orleans Avenue canals only operate when the floodgates blocking water from Lake Pontchartrain are closed, and thus are not operated during a rainfall event. The three permanent pumping stations under construction at the ends of those canals are not yet complete, but will operate in the same way.

Officials said the city’s public safety agencies, including police, fire and emergency medical services, responded to more than 200 emergency calls related to flooding.

City residents are not satisfied with their capacity, however, as the social media outrage reflects. Even the French Quarter, and Bourbon Street, which seldom floods, was inundated and several beloved restaurants took in up to three inches of water.

Once again it seems that Mayor Landrieu’s priorities are askew. We can’t fault him for a significant rain event (can we?) but certainly it is under his leadership and responsibility that the pumps and drainage system are properly maintained.  And to send his minions out to blame the mess simply on climate change and tell people to clean out their own drains is, well, just typical of him.

If what’s in my catch basins are termites and dead bodies, I’m probably not going to be too excited about that project.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

I spent the last two weeks in the process of moving, and, while that was stressful and tiring, I was blissfully away from the news cycle.

Nothing like spending the entire day chipping away at the myriad tasks that come from A Big Move to bring you down to earth – along with a lot of boxes containing every thing you own.

By evening, you are so exhausted the last thing you want to do is listen to the news, IF you have cable. The only cable I watched was at the motel (since the furniture was coming the next day) on Sunday, when I was flipping channels and came across a segment of Game of Thrones were the blonde had the dragon incinerate a bunch of guys while the big guy from Black Sails watched on.

Which brings me to the subject of North Korea.

Since I’m now at home but the cable has not been connected, I read on my Facebook feed that North Korea is threatening attack. Facebook has, of course, sprouted ersatz expertise on Korea (North and South) overnight.

Certainly whatever the North Korean dictator wants to unchain will make the fictional dragon look like a Game, but there was another item in the news that I find more alarming: the Google censorship story.

Google fired James Damore, an engineer who wrote a memo dissenting on the company’s affirmative action policy, all in the name of diversity and inclusion.

The memo used to be online. Not anymore.

Considering the large reach Google has on how and what news is conveyed, the company’s actions may, in the long term, have as deleterious effect as North Korean dragons because we may never know whether Google’s newsfeed is conveying facts or PC pabulum.

The information age may be no more.

Attention: See Da Tech Guy’s pinned post!


Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog

The leading organization of journalism educators has invited a representative from one of the most troublesome publications as the keynote speaker for its annual convention.

Craig Silverman, the media editor of BuzzFeed, will be featured this week at the convention of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.

AEJMC describes Silverman as an “internationally renowned expert on verification and fake news.” His big story was locating pro-Trump websites in Macedonia that produced fake news. Trump has nothing to do with the websites. But I guess if you can get Trump and fake news in the same paragraph, you get a lot of page views and a lot of buzz.

What AEJMC fails to mention is the problematic role BuzzFeed plays in today’s media landscape. Moreover, it is one of the least-trusted news organizations, according to a recent survey by the University of Missouri. BuzzFeed’s credibility is less than Breitbart, Donald Trump, Rush Limbaugh, and The Blaze. In fact, Occupy Democrats, which really isn’t a source of news and information, is the only website in the survey that ranks lower than BuzzFeed.

But back to Silverman. Just a few weeks after he joined the “news” organization, BuzzFeed published the memo that alleged Russia had a dossier with which it could blackmail President Trump.

BuzzFeed published the document without any attempt to verify its claims, which have led to the continuing onslaught of Russia nonsense. I don’t intend to repeat the scandalous and unverified claims from the 35-page document.

Ironically, Silverman ignored whether his own publication dealt in fake news. Editor Ben Smith defended the January release of the salacious document. “We thought that it was important when you have a blanket claim like he was compromised by Russian intelligence to share the details,” Smith said. “I think we are trying to best inform our audience, to be true to our audience, to treat our audience with respect.”

Having spent many years doing investigative reporting, I was appalled by this statement. To simply put information into the public space—irrespective of whether it was true or false—does not qualify as journalism to me. The actions of BuzzFeed demonstrated its role as a gossip monger.

But such is the niche of BuzzFeed in today’s journalism environment. The organization is best known for its animal memes, lists, and quizzes. It is a media darling because it makes money, mainly because the organization closely monitors what people want to know rather than what people should know.

Recently, BuzzFeed has been trying to gain some credibility by expanding bureaus throughout the country and the world, including the creation of an “investigative” team.

Nevertheless, I am nonplussed and embarrassed that a group of journalism educators–an organization of which I have been a member for more than 20 years–would bless BuzzFeed and its antics. I have decided to skip the convention this year rather than give MY blessing to such “journalism.”

Senator Rock? Hmm … could be. I Kid you not.

Political buffs are salivating over the possibility that Kid Rock will put his music career on hold next year for a run against Debbie Stabenow, one of the two Democrats representing Michigan in the Senate. The rock star has been happily stoking the grassroots fire by setting up a new website, www.kidrockforsenate.com.

Several polls have put Rock ahead of Stabenow, a die-hard liberal, although polls are meaningless 15 months before the election. Recent stories have downplayed his chances especially since he’ll probably have to use his real name, Robert Ritchie, on the ballot.

That shouldn’t be an issue — millions of campaign dollars will tip off the least informed voter that Ritchie is really Rock. If things get truly desperate, there’s nothing to stop him from legally changing his name to his stage handle.

What might stop the Rock juggernaut is a serious effort by a mainstream Republican polico. Several GOP veterans have hinted at taking a stab at Stabenow’s seat, and Bob Young, former chief justice of the Michigan Supreme Court has declared his candidacy.

By most standards, Young would be a formidable candidate. A smart, rock-ribbed black conservative, he’s beloved by party regulars. But he’s 65 (Rock is 45), which is an advanced age to begin a new career. And despite his years of outstanding service on the state’s highest court, his name is about as recognizable as the local register of deeds. His best shot in the general election could be tricking people into thinking he’s Robert Young of “Father Knows Best” and “Marcus Welby” fame.

A potential problem for Rock is we have no idea where he stands on today’s issues, and probably neither does he. We know he’s vaguely conservative and isn’t afraid to associate with Republicans, which makes him a rarity among showbiz types. The only clue to his thoughts on his candidacy at his website is “The democrats (sic) are ‘shattin’ in their pantaloons’ right now… and rightfully so!”

One thing to keep in mind: Michigan politics is the strangest kettle of fish ever dragged out of the Great Lakes. I had an e-mail argument with a couple of National Review writers years ago after they insisted on calling on calling Michigan a Blue state. A state with a Republican governor (John Engler), Republican Legislature and Republican-dominated Supreme Court is hardly Blue, I contended. They replied that the state hadn’t voted for a GOP presidential nominee since Bush 41 in 1988. No consensus was reached.

Michigan has had plenty of recent Republican governors — George Romney and William Milliken (1963-83), Engler (1991-2003) and Rick Snyder (2011-present) — but the party has had a difficult time sending someone to the Senate. Arthur Vandenberg won respect and an international reputation as a senator from 1928 to 1951, but the well has been awfully dry since then.

The only GOP senator is the past 39 years was Spencer Abraham, who had a single term before Stabenow bumped him off in November 2000.

Sometimes the party picked bad candidates. In 1970, at George Romney’s behest, party bosses picked his wife, Leonore, to run against two-term Senator Philip Hart. She was crushed, winning about one-third of the vote.

Sometimes the party made bad decisions. In 1984, astronaut Jack Lousma ran against first-term Senator Carl Levin. The early polls looked bad, so the GOP cut off funding for Lousma in August. Party leaders kicked themselves on election night after Lousma had collected 47% of the vote, giving Levin the stiffest challenge of his career.

So what will Republicans do in 2018: Select a bad candidate or make a stupid decision? At this point, anything is possible.

But one thing is certain if Kid Rock is in the race. It will be very, very interesting.