Was Abolitionism a Failure? - NYTimes.com: "Today, we point to abolition as proof that we can improve society by eliminating one glaring evil. This is what unites “new abolitionists” across the political spectrum, whether they’re working to end the death penalty or ban abortion. We like the idea of sweeping change, of an idealistic movement triumphing over something so clearly wrong. The problem is, that’s not really how slavery ended. Those upright, moral, prewar abolitionists did not succeed. Neither did the stiff-necked Southern radicals who ended up destroying the institution they went to war to maintain. It was the flexibility of the Northern moderates, those flip-floppers who voted against abolition before they voted for it, who really ended 250 years of slavery. Abolitionists make better heroes, though, principled and courageous and seemingly in step with 21st century values. But people from the past who espoused beliefs we hold today were usually rejected at the time. We can only wonder which of today’s unpopular causes will, in 150 years, be considered the abolitionism of 2015."
Watch Marshawn Lynch Frustrate Adult Reporters By Not Talking: "Once again, these are grown-ass men who are so upset that a football player won't say things like "I'm excited for the big game" and "Whichever team wants it more is going to win" that they've managed to turn an exasperated running back into America's most effective sports-media critic. "
Texas Cop Suspended for Eight Hours for Mistake That Led to Years of Legal Troubles for Innocent Man, According to Lawsuit - Hit & Run : Reason.com: "Tidwell eventually filed a federal lawsuit. He accepted a settlement [of $110,000], which was paid by the city's insurance and not with city funds, according to city officials. Tidwell’s attorney says he hopes the settlement sent a message to police “to do tip top work.” But the settlement doesn’t affect the police department, and an eight hour suspension is unlikely to send much of a message at all. "
CUNY Tells Profs Not to Say 'Mr.' or 'Ms.' Because That's Offensive and Illegal-ish (It's Not) - Hit & Run : Reason.com: "Taub's definition of political correctness implies that the perpetually offended are "often" correct to feel that way. Fine. Are they justified in having their sensitivity codified and enforced as well? Because that's what has happened on college campuses across the country, where students and professors are not merely chastised for saying the wrong thing, but formally sanctioned. Professors have been fired and students have been suspended for thought-crime and word-crime—for saying something that didn't quite clear the unreasonably high offendedness bar of the modern leftist. This has created a culture of feelings-protection on campuses under which students increasingly feel entitled to emotional comfort; in response, administrators keep introducing rules to give them more of it.
On that note, let's dig into a prime example of something that supposedly doesn't exist. CUNY's Graduate Center now believes the use of gendered salutations like "Mr." and "Mrs." might offend some students. What's more, administrators think federal non-discrimination law requires the university to prevent its faculty from inadvertently giving offense. Therefore, professors have been instructed to wipe the contentious words from their memories and cease using them in any and all forms of communication."
Fred On Everything: "Perhaps a few examples of the sorts of misunderstandings prevalent among commentators would be of use: It is well known that Paul Bremer, the virtual viceroy of Bagdad after the city’s fall in Gulf I, disbanded the Iraqi army. Less known is that he replaced Mohammed al Aksa, the chief of intelligence, with Abdul dhar es Salaam, a known Sufi extremist with ties to Iranian intelligence. In fact he seemed to be on its payroll: The man had palatial residences, widely suspected of having been paid for by Tehran, in Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s home town, in Bangui in the Kurdish north, as well as in the ritzy Sulawesi suburbs of Fallujah (the latter dwelling destroyed by American shell-fire in the siege).
Bremer apparently didn’t know any of this, though it was a commonplace in journalistic hangouts. Dhar es Salaam was instrumental in stirring up resistance to Coalition forces trying to pacify the country—while on the American payroll. As everyone knows, General David Petraeus saved the situation, or at least bought time, by playing off the Awali and Litani sects against each other with the help of Muqtada al Sadr. He did this by simply paying the irregulars of both sides to join the loyalist militias. This was eminently practical, though not lasting.
The Petraean tactics which proved so successful in Iraq, pacifying the provinces of Anbar, Shakti, and particularly the suburbs of Sudra, a notorious Shia stronghold, failed utterly in the barren mountains of Afghanistan’s Anterior Zygopophysis range, through which runs the famous Khyber Pass. Why? A spokesman for the US command in Kabul attempted to pin the blame on Iran in what has become a standard tactic for diverting attention from failure. Extremist groups outside of Afghanistan were responsible, he said: “outside agitators” so to speak.
Allegedly, fanatics of the Falafel Brotherhood were crossing the Afghan-Tajic border with weaponry supplied by Tehran. This view drew support from the later Bush administration and came to be accepted in Congress. It was nonsense, like so much of what is written about the wars. Those more familiar with the region responded that the “Afghans” and “Tajiks” were in fact pastoralists dominated by tribal, not national loyalties, and looked not to the central government in Kabul, but to their own leaders, Ahmed Shah Massoud and Sala al-Din for guidance. (Or Akhmed Shah Massoud: The guttural is transliterated in various ways.) These men were essentially rebranded Mamelukes, having been raised in or around the Janissary madrassas (Koranic schools) of Kandahar before the Russian invasion of1976. Warlords at heart, they were suspected by US intelligence of being interested chiefly in extending their rule beyond the Chagras River into the rich opium lands of the Bekaa Valley. They had no connection to Iran...
The inability of Americans, in and out of Congress, to tell nonsense from truth, the tendency to simplify baffling complexity into slogans, makes US policy easily shoved in directions favored by special interests. Make no mistake: The ignorance is real. A Congressman I once spoke with told me of going to Thailand on a junket with a fellow member of the legislature who constantly referred to the country as “Taiwan.” The Mideast is far more contorted in its politics. Our “leaders” need to learn to know when they are being gulled, to distinguish fact from twaddle. They cannot, and neither can the public. There will be a price."
The Outtakes From The Deflategate Video With Ben Affleck And Matt Damon Are Better Than The Original: "Ben Affleck should just be typecast as a guy with a Boston accent because he is fucking incredible at it. Unlike the others in the video, his delivery seemed completely effortless. So much so, that I hope he used it while filming the new Batman. Christian Bale gave us that ridiculous gravel voice for three installments, the least they could do is make Bruce Wayne talk with a hilarious Boston accent for the next three."
Watching American Sniper in Baghdad - Hit & Run : Reason.com: "As everybody knows, Clint Eastwood’s film has been a box-office smash, praised for its directing and its performances, and attacked as a work of bloodthirsty, racist, militarist propaganda. One of the few things about the film that has received little attention is that it has been playing well in the Middle East, including in Iraq...
“I love watching war movies,” said a satisfied customer, “because especially now they give me the strength to face ISIS.” Asked if he found the movie to be racist or anti-Arab, he said, “No, why? The sniper was killing terrorists, the only thing that bothered me was when he said he didn’t know anything about the Quran!”
...American Sniper has also been playing to packed houses in Iraq’s Kurdish region, right behind Taken 3, including in theaters owned by the same chain that that shied away from opening the film at all in Baghdad. “The Kurds don’t like the Baghdadis that much so they have no big problem seeing them getting shot by an American,” said one film exec who operates theaters in Iraq. “So far, the film is working well for our screens in Kurdistan.”"
Joss gets it.