Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Jeremy Corbyn has made Labour unelectable

Jeremy Corbyn is seen as an unpopular leader across almost all demographic groups and leads a party whose voters are increasingly out of step with majority opinion in the country.

Since the election, Labour has attracted voters from two main sources: the Liberal Democrats and the Greens, many of whom hold views on immigration, defence, welfare and patriotism that are at odds with public opinion.

At the same time, Labour has retained only two-thirds of its own voters, according to a YouGov poll...

Mysterious Corpse-Filled 'Ghost Ships' Found Drifting Off Japan

Nearly a dozen wooden boats carrying decomposing bodies have been found in the waters off the coast of Japan over the past two months.

Inside the 11 vessels were at least 25 bodies, according to Japanese broadcaster NHK. Two bodies were headless, and one boat contained six skulls, Singapore's Straits Times newspaper reported, citing the Japanese Coast Guard. The poor condition of the remains suggested that the boats had been adrift for some time, the paper said.

One of the boats had a tattered banner that looked like it could have been part of a North Korean flag. The boat also had a board with Hangul words that said "Korean People's Army," which is the name of the armed forces in North Korea.

A maritime expert said the ships looked like those used by defectors from North Korea...

Ted Cruz: Most violent felons are Democrats

Washington (CNN)Texas Sen. Ted Cruz claimed Monday during a radio appearance that "the overwhelming majority of violent criminals are Democrats."
The Republican presidential contender told radio host Hugh Hewitt that Democrats -- aided by a "salivating" media -- attempt to use mass killings to damage conservatives politically.
    His comments came as Cruz discussed the shootings at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado -- which Democrats have followed with calls for the GOP to stop denouncing the organization and pushing for its defunding on Capitol Hill.
    "Every time you have some sort of violent crime or mass killing, you could almost see the media salivating, hoping desperately that the murderer happens to be a Republican so they can use it to try to paint their political enemies," Cruz said.
    He continued: "Now, listen, here's the simple and undeniable facts: The overwhelming majority of violent criminals are Democrats. The media doesn't report that."...

    Monday, November 30, 2015

    Toronto's notorious "Islamophobia" case turns out to be something else entirely

    It's not Islamophobia when two hijab-wearing women get called terrorists after they call a couple of black kids "monkeys." But Toronto is a city filled with people anxious to signal how "progressive" and virtuous they are, as long as it doesn't involve thinking, or any more real work than posting on social media. So it's little wonder that they lapped up an opportunity to be manipulated.

    Insulting Muslims for who they are is vile. But there are some activists within the Islamic community who want the religion of Jihad to be perceived as a perpetual victim, even when it initiates violence and oppression. So little PR stunts like the one we saw in Toronto are not totally uncommon.

    Despite all we hear about the dire state of Islamophobia, it is a vastly exaggerated phenomenon in Canada. Statistics Canada indicates that blacks are more than five times as likely to be the victims of hate crimes than Arabs, and that hate crimes against Jews are three times the number of hate crimes against Muslims. That statistic is all the more striking considering there are almost four times as many Muslims in Canada as there are Jews.  Odd how we never hear about these figures in the media.

    Considering that Muslim-majority countries in the middle east are notoriously anti-Semitic and racist towards blacks, we may see these trends increase along with Canada's new cultural dynamic.

    Funny how reality and the media narrative frequently don't line up, isn't it?

    Charts from Statistics Canada

    Sunday, November 29, 2015

    Oh, Henry! Kissinger finds his chronicler

    This attentive, magnificently written, and profoundly researched biography of Henry Kissinger before he took office is stunningly good, and stuns as much for what it does not say as what it does. Earlier Kissinger biographers have tried to comprehend him, not quite in order to forgive his crimes but to share with others—usually Adolf Hitler—the blame for them. Hitler stung Kissinger at a tender age into his amoral realism, and caused him to lure us into a foreign policy that history has proved was unnecessary. Walter Isaacson’s 1992 biography ends with the triumph of the West in the Cold War in spite of realpolitik. Kissinger’s machinations came to naught because the Cold War was more like a TED conference than a life-and-death struggle: Victory came to us because our values “eventually proved more attractive.”...
    Niall Ferguson is 15 years younger than the midcentury baby boomers like Isaacson, Christopher Hitchens, and me, whose fathers were Kissinger’s contemporaries. Facing not an effortless Cold War victory but a victory squandered, Ferguson is free of the presupposition that both he and his reader are Kissinger’s moral superiors. Instead, using Kissinger’s thought and early career as his vantage point, Ferguson writes a marvelously capacious and dramatic history of American foreign policy during the Cold War’s first generation...

    Pompeo, Cotton Poke More Holes in Iran Nuke Deal

    Rep. Mike Pompeo (R – Kan.) and Sen. Tom Cotton (R – Ark.) have a lot in common. Both are army veterans and both are graduates of Harvard Law School. And both have been doing a great job of exposing aspects of the nuclear deal with Iran that the administration would rather keep quiet.

    This week it was reported that an inquiry from Pompeo got the State Department to admit that the nuclear deal was never signed and is not “legally binding.”...

    Saturday, November 28, 2015

    Not Criminally Responsible: The case for forensic psychiatry in reintegrating people with mental illnesses

                         My new piece for The Walrus:

    IN SEPTEMBER, a forensic-psychiatry patient at Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health absconded during a scheduled outing. Thomas Brailsford had been found not criminally responsible for cutting off his mother’s head in 2010, so the news of his escape created, to put it mildly, some apprehension among the public.

    During the twenty-four hours or so Brailsford was on the loose, media sensationalizing transformed Toronto into a modern-day Sleepy Hollow, with panicked Ichabod Cranes trying to evade a ghoulish headhunter. Quite naturally, many people wondered why Brailsford was left in a position where he could so easily vanish—it was the second time he’d gone AWOL from the centre within twelve months.

    In the decade I worked at CAMH and its predecessor, the Queen Street Mental Health Centre, up until 2004, I saw some of the workings and causes of this type of dilemma...

    Thursday, November 26, 2015

    The New York Times has it wrong - there are plenty of powerful women in Hollywood and it's not sexism that's keeping them out

    Maureen Dowd's "The Women in Hollywood Speak Out" article in The New York Times asserts that pervasive sexism is preventing women from directing blockbusters and running studios.

    There may be a very small element of truth in that, but the crux of the article suggests both a lack of understanding about how Hollywood works and a pretty large heap of sour grapes.

    In the first place, there are lots of women in powerful positions in Hollywood. Sherry Lansing ran Paramount for years, there are big time women producers cluttering Hollywood. I know some of these women, and they are very good at what they do, which is why they were able to be in a position to do it.

    The main thing to remember about Hollywood is that despite the not entirely unfair caricature of Hollywood being filled with horny old men who get into show business to bed sexy young actresses, these days, that's mostly a sleazy fringe of a major industry. Hollywood's movie business is a business. Like any other business, money and good PR drive it. Studios are actually looking for more women directors because they know it reflects well on the organization. But, despite Hollywood's big players liking to look like they're vanguard of progressivism,  they're actually quite conservative when it comes to their business ledgers. No studio head is going to hand a $300 million budget to a director unless there's a high level of confidence that the investment will turn into a profit.

    And the fact is, there aren't few women directors who have demonstrated that they can generate those kinds of revenues with their films. Hollywood is also not a place where a lot of original thought occurs on the whole. There are some brilliant visionaries there, and many of them are women. But as in any other field, most people have average capabilities and follow trends. When I worked at a major Hollywood production company, people occasionally asked me whether the lack of female directors was due to sexism. My response was to say that if a duckbill platypus directed a movie that had an $80 Million box office weekend, you can bet your life that on Monday, there would be planeloads of Hollywood executives flying to Australia to try to sign the first duckbill platypus they see to a directing contract.

    Women tend to make movies that appeal to women's sensibilities. That's great, but the money is in watching aliens from outer space trying to annihilate the Earth and having comic book superheroes save us from certain death.

    Indicative of Dowd's article, and demonstrative of my point, is this complaint from Leslye Headland:
    Headland made this fall’s ‘‘Sleeping With Other People,’’ a raunchy rom-com starring Jason Sudeikis and Alison Brie, in 25 days for $5 million from a script she drafted in two weeks, chronicling her obsession with a ‘‘lame’’ ex-boyfriend. ‘‘Quentin Tarantino can make ‘Pulp Fiction’ for $8 million and you can slap him on any magazine,’’ Headland said. ‘‘He’s the poster boy. He was for me. I want to be that guy even though he looks like a foot. God bless him, and he can do whatever he wants to my feet. But with a female director, you’re just not celebrated the same way.’’
    Pulp Fiction was a huge hit that revitalized the careers of Bruce Willis and John Travolta, made stars out of Samuel L. Jackson and Uma Thurman, and inspired dozens of imitations and iconic cultural touchstones, like Jackson and Travolta's conversation about "the Royale with Cheese, " and "bring up the Gimp." Most people have never heard of Sleeping With Other People, and fewer still have seen it or could name anything memorable about it.

    Pulp Fiction grossed $213 million dollars on an $8 million dollar budget in 1994. Sleeping With Other People grossed $814 thousand on a $5 million budget in 2015. You don't have to have to be an expert in either economics or gender studies to figure out that the reason Pulp Fiction's director Quentin Tarantino is celebrated and Sleeping With Other People's director Leslye Headland is not has nothing to do with sexism.

    Track record matters in Hollywood. You don't just get to walk into a studio and have them hand you the next Spiderman or Star Wars. You have to show them you could make a successful action movie on a much smaller scale. And the idea of men being able to walk in and be handed a big budget project by mere virtue of their sex is preposterous. It's not a competition between men and women. It's a competition between a director and every other director in the business, male or female. If women want to have more power in Hollywood, then they're going to have to do it the old fashioned way, by working their way up and showing they can do the job. Those women who can make money for a studio will have no trouble getting more responsibility and power in a town that only loves winners.