It's a Funny Old World

No, Wait, It's Not Funny At All

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Jim Geraghty notes that We Are Up against an Axis of the Devils. It's a depressing look at how money flows between and among murderous regimes around the world. Okay, we know that Iran funds Hamas and assists in plotting their terror. But:

China is Iran’s largest trading partner; by itself, that’s not surprising as it was our largest trading partner for a long stretch until Mexico overtook it last month. But Chinese government policies help keep the Iranian economy afloat and minimize the impact of sanctions. China is importing more and more Iranian oil, sending it through Malaysia. The two countries are expanding their military cooperation, and the Russian, Chinese, and Iranian navies conducted joint drills in the Gulf of Oman in March.

Russia and Iran have never been closer; the Russian war effort runs on Iranian-manufactured drones, which gives Tehran more cash to send to its multiple terrorist groups surrounding Israel. As the European Council on Foreign Relations summarized, “Tehran’s military contribution to Russia’s war effort has made an enormous difference to Russia’s ability to persevere in a difficult conflict. Iran, once a secondary player, is now one of Russia’s most significant collaborators in the war in Ukraine.”

Much more at the link, of course, and it seems to be unpaywalled. There's also this interesting observation about Twitter's censorship standards:

In what must have been my most-viewed tweet in a long while, I observed that the decision-making and standards over at Twitter/X make no sense. Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei is allowed to cheer on “the cancer of the usurper Zionist regime will be eradicated at the hands of the Palestinian people and the Resistance forces throughout the region,” while you or I can get our accounts suspended for much more minor and less consequential violations of the (vague) terms of service. A short while after I posted that, Twitter/X added to the Ayatollah’s tweet, “This Post violated the X Rules. However, X has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Post to remain accessible.”

I get the logic — if the supreme ruler of Iran is calling for genocide, that’s news, and there’s value in showcasing just how evil and ruthless the Iranian regime is. But this means Twitter has one, much lower, standard for Iranian rulers and what they’re allowed to post, and another, much higher, standard for what you or I are allowed to post. The most evil bastards on the planet enjoy greater freedom of speech on that platform than you or I do.

Is that irony? I can never tell.

Also of note:

  • A euphemism for murder and terror. Peter Savodnik looks at the gore behind "fancy-sounding academic jargon": This Is What ‘Decolonization’ Looks Like.

    On Saturday, as the raping and murdering and kidnapping were happening in Israel, Najma Sharif, a writer for Soho House magazine and Teen Vogue, posted on X: “What did y’all think decolonization meant? vibes? papers? essays? losers.”

    So far, Sharif’s post has been liked 100,000 times and reposted nearly 23,000 times—by, among others, The Washington Post’s global opinions editor, Karen Attiah.

    The point was: Don’t be squeamish. Never mind the Jewish girl being pulled by her hair with blood streaming between her legs. Never mind the women being raped beside the corpses of their friends at a music festival. Never mind the children and babies snatched from their parents.

    If you can’t handle it, if you condemn it without a preamble or equivocation, you’re an apologist for the Zionist colonizers.

    Teen Vogue. Good God.

    Savodnik also reports on the latest from the "progressive" left:

    “And as you might have seen, there was some sort of rave or desert party where they were having a great time until the resistance came in electrified hang gliders and took at least several dozen hipsters,” a speaker at a Democratic Socialists of America rally in New York proclaimed to whoops and laughter. (DSA members include representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jamaal Bowman, Rashida Tlaib, and Ilhan Omar.)

    And we've already discussed that statement from Harvard students. Larry Summers (a past president of Harvard) is disgusted, not so much with the students, but with the current Harvard administration:

    His entire thread is worth your while, and should have decent people at Harvard squirming. (There must be a few of them left, right?)

  • How do you catch a cloud and pin it down? Kevin D. Williamson should set this to a catchy tune: How to Solve a Problem Like the Problem Solvers Caucus.

    I get why Republicans in the so-called Problem Solvers’ Caucus are big mad at the Democratic caucus members who did not cross party lines to keep Kevin McCarthy from being deposed as speaker of the House by self-serving beady-eyed cretin Rep. Matt Gaetz. Gaetz, as it turned out, had only a handful of Republicans on his side: Of the 216 votes to give McCarthy the boot, only eight came from Republicans, while the remaining 200-odd votes came from Democrats—a very strange way of punishing McCarthy for being too bipartisan, which is what he notionally stood accused of. Gaetz and his brand of performative nonsense politics is a problem that could have been, if not solved, then very much improved by responding to his imbecility with a crushing political rejection. Instead, Democrats gave him a bare victory, ensuring that the problem gets worse rather than better.

    Some “problem solvers.”

    Not that there weren’t good reasons for Democrats to vote against McCarthy. For one thing, there isn’t any pressing reason for Democrats to vote for any Republican for speaker. For another thing, McCarthy has done more than enough to create the very perverse political incentives that brought him down. McCarthy’s individual demerits as speaker—his championing of Donald Trump’s stolen-election nonsense, his hamstringing the January 6 investigation, his elevation of cranks and bigots such as Marjorie Taylor Greene—are surely enough that any self-respecting Republican (if we could imagine the existence of such a creature) would think twice about voting for him for speaker in normal circumstances. Kevin McCarthy is not a victim of the destructive and moronized politics of our era—he is one of the principal architects of those destructive and moronized politics, a leading destroyer and moronizer. If there had been some way for both McCarthy and Gaetz to lose at the same time, that would have been a better outcome—decent people could have just stood on the sideline and cheered for collateral damage.

    But, if you are going to call yourselves a “Problem Solvers’ Caucus” and talk a good game about putting pragmatism over partisanship, then you have to do that from time to time. You cannot promise to put pragmatism over partisanship only when it doesn’t help the other party.

    Just a reminder, if you needed one: my very own CongressCritter, Chris Pappas, is a member of the "Problem Solvers' Caucus". (Would someone solve my problem? It's the fact that Chris Pappas represents me in Congress.)

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    It's a poser. At the College Fix, Daniel Nuccio shares the good news: Scholars to study why $365M DEI investment into STEM failed to diversify engineering.

    Or: "Gosh, we put piles of money into this end, and we got the same old bunch of white males coming out the other end! That wasn't supposed to happen!"

    The National Science Foundation has tapped a set of scholars to study one of its programs that funneled $365 million into diversifying STEM, but appears to have had little effect in the field of engineering.

    The $300,000 grant doled out by the National Science Foundation will investigate factors influencing Broadening Participation Initiatives, or BPIs, which aim to increase the participation of women and other underrepresented groups in STEM.

    The grant was recently awarded to the University at Buffalo’s Matilde Sánchez-Peña, an assistant professor of engineering education.

    One can only hope that, with that $300K, Professor Sánchez-Peña might pick up a copy of Human Diversity by Charles Murray. (Professor, using the Amazon link at your right will only set you back $12.99 for the Kindle version.) Therein, she might find a pretty simple explanation, offered as the third of ten "propositions" supported by ample evidence:

    On average, women worldwide are more attracted to vocations centered on people and men to vocations centered on things.

    I'm guessing, however, that comes out the other end of Professor Sánchez-Peña's well-funded research will be "We shoulda spent more money on those BPIs."

  • He's not a lumberjack, and that's OK too. James Lileks interviews Michael Palin for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, and it's pretty wonderful. And (speaking as someone whose parents grew up only about 33 crow-flies miles from Austin, Minnesota), I especially liked this:

    Say you were going to meet Monty Python's Michael Palin for dinner. What would you bring him?

    I did. And I brought a can of Spam.

    Some English friends of mine know Palin, my favorite member of the brilliant British comedy troupe. When I learned he had a book coming out, I asked if they could arrange a dinner party where I could meet him. It wasn't a potluck, but I couldn't arrive empty-handed. What could I offer?

    Spam, of course, is Minnesota's innovation in the inscrutable-dense-meat category. Spam, thanks to a sketch by Monty Python, is also the word for undesired emails. Palin, as a member of Python, was part of the original skit.

    Mr. Palin's new book is not at all zany: it's the story of his Great-Uncle Harry, who died at the Somme in 1916.

    And since it's my blog, here's one of his bits that had me gasping for breath on the floor:

Last Modified 2024-01-10 5:46 AM EDT