Friday, February 23, 2018

Justin Trudeau's Indian Fiasco

As a public service, I have been following Canadian Prime Minister Justin Bieber’s calamity-ridden trip to India.

For your interest, here are some remarks from an Indian journalist, one who had previously had warm feelings for the PM.

Barkha Dutt writes in the Washington Post:

How did Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the world’s favorite liberal mascot — a feminist man, with movie-star good looks, a 50 percent female cabinet and a political lexicon that has replaced “mankind” with “peoplekind” (making millions swoon) — end up looking silly, diminished and desperate on his trip to India this week?

Trudeau’s eight-day India expedition has been an absolute fiasco.

I will spare you the details. Dutt explains them at length in her excellent article. Let’s move ahead to her conclusion:

I confess, from afar, I used to be a Trudeau fan-girl. But after this trip, I’ve changed my mind. Trudeau has come across as flighty and facetious. His orchestrated dance moves and multiple costume changes in heavily embroidered kurtas and sherwanis make him look more like an actor on a movie set or a guest at a wedding than a politician who is here to talk business. Suddenly, all that charisma and cuteness seem constructed, manufactured and, above all, not serious.

Yes, indeed.  The PM was not there to do business. It’s all posturing and show. Be careful of liberal mascots masquerading as heads of state.

Jeffrey Immelt, Incorrigible Optimist

I don’t know what to make of this, but I imagine that some readers will have better information than I do. The other day Thomas Gryta did an extended analysis on Jeffrey Immelt’s failure as CEO of General Electric. The stock price tells the tale of an implosion, even though some of the carnage occurred after Immelt had abandoned ship.

You know that the psycho world has become infested with positivity. Cognitive psychologists did well to resurrect positive thinking from the bleak tragic vision bequeathed them by Freud. And yet, their relentless emphasis on happiness and good feeling comported certain risks. Among them, the current mania over Steven Pinker’s assertion that you have never had it so good, that the world is getting better and better… and that it’s all because we have overcome religious faith and are practicing the art of rational thought.

Pinker is a starry-eyed optimist, and, you will ask yourself, what could possibly be wrong with that.

Well, examine Gryta’s presentation of Immelt’s failure at GE. Could it all have been produced by an optimism that purposefully blinded itself to company problems? Was it produced by a relentless positivity that resembles the mindlessly absurd self-esteem movement? Or did Immelt lead his ship straight into an iceberg because he thought it was all theatre?

Gryta explains:

GE’s precipitous fall, following years of treading water while the overall economy grew, was exacerbated, some insiders say, by what they call “success theater.” Mr. Immelt and his top deputies projected an optimism about GE’s business and its future that didn’t always match the reality of its operations or its markets, according to more than a dozen current and former executives, investors and people close to the company.

This culture of confidence trickled down the ranks and even affected how those gunning to succeed Mr. Immelt ran their business units, some of these people said, with consequences that included unreachable financial targets, mistimed bets on markets and sometimes poor decisions on how to deploy cash.

The history of GE is to selectively only provide positive information,” said Deutsche Bank analyst John Inch, who has a “sell” rating on the stock. “There is a credibility gap between what they say and the reality of what is to come.”

Of course, Immelt has his defenders. And yet, Grypta notes, excessive optimism caused him to overpay for shares of GE stock:

… Mr. Immelt didn’t like hearing bad news, said several executives who worked with him, and didn’t like delivering bad news, either. He wanted people to make their sales and financial targets and thought he could make the numbers, too, they said.

The optimism was evident in how Mr. Immelt and the board used the company’s cash. Over the past three years, GE spent more than $29 billion on share repurchases, at an average price of almost $30, about twice the current level. That included billions of dollars spent less than a year before GE suddenly found itself strapped for cash last fall.

How did the stock do during his tenure?

Instead, at Mr. Immelt’s retirement in August the stock was below its level when he took over 16 years earlier. Including dividends, GE gained 8% with Mr. Immelt at the helm, while the S&P 500 rose 214%. Since he stepped down, the stock has lost about 43%, erasing almost $94 billion in market value. 

As I said, I am hardly an expert on GE or on the Immelt management style. Yet, is seems to embody the kind of Panglossian positive psychology that drowns the world in optimism and blinds us to dangers and risks.

America's Real Competition

America seems to have lost its mind. Its rational faculties have gone to seed and it is running around headless exclaiming that the Russians are coming, the Russians are coming.

It was all collusion. If it wasn’t collusion, it was treason. It was worse than Pearl Harbor, worse than the attack on the World Trade Center. We would call it Armageddon, but we need to reserve that one for the Trump tax reform bill.

Anyway, the intellectual elites are out there trying to overturn the result of a fair election in the name of defending democracy. Why do we think that these people are so smart?

Anyway, if you worship at the Church of the Liberal Pieties you must believe that the Russians colluded with the Trump campaign to defeat Hillary Clinton. How else could Hillary have lost?

Roger Kimball explains:

All of a sudden it was Russia, morning, noon, and night. Donald Trump must have ‘colluded’ with the Ruskies. It was the only answer to the otherwise imponderable question: how could Hillary Clinton lose? Every-one knew that she was a shoo-in, just as everyone knew that Donald Trump was a vulgar buffoon whose candidacy was a bad joke.

The only fly in this ointment was that no one could find any evidence that Trump had colluded with the Russians. This was not for lack of looking. The Democrats managed to saddle the Trump administration with a special counsel to investigate the charge.

A few sensible souls, possessing integrity, have offered that this is nonsense. One of the best, Stephen Cohen at The Nation has been saying that the current hysteria about Russia is making it far more difficult for the two nations to address any international issues together. A sensible point, well worth noting.

Kimball adds another salient point, namely that America’s real competitor on the world stage is not Russia, but China:

The second irony is that even as the media are running around skirling about the Russians, China is methodically extending its web of influence and power. We have all read about its encroachments in the South China Sea. This vast and weaponised manmade archipelago is a brazen attempt to extend China’s territorial claims and secure its hegemony in that part of the world.

Hardly a day goes by without another news story about China’s military and technological advances. As I write, a prominent tech website warns that the US is no longer guaranteed military technology dominance. ‘China is rapidly growing its fighter plane and stealth fighter capabilities,’ it warns. ‘China has developed competitive air-to-air missile capabilities.’

China has also become expert at projecting soft power. Consider the Confucius Institutes, Chinese government-sponsored cultural centres, that have sprung up at universities across the US. Not only are they potential havens for spies, they are mouthpieces for the Chinese government to disseminate the party line. As Peter Mattis, a former US intelligence analyst, noted, the institutes ‘are an instrument of the party’s power, not a support for independent scholarship’. Senator Rubio made the same point. ‘It’s a long-term, patient approach,’ he said. But then the Chinese are known for patience. Zhou Enlai, the first premier of the People’s Republic of China, was once asked whether the French Revolution was a success. ‘It is too soon to say,’ he replied.

Politically correct elites in America are screaming about Russian interference. Meanwhile, a grave, multifaceted threat is coalescing just beyond the horizon of their consciousness. When will they wake up?

Now, you might see China as a threat. Or you might consider it a competitor. You might note that China’s expanding military presence in the South China Sea happened during the Obama administration. At the time, no one paid it much attention.

But, you will also note, as we have reported on this blog, that China wants very much to compete against the United States in the worlds of business, technology and commerce. It is building up its military technology at a rapid pace, too. 

And you will also note, that the American left does not want to engage in that kind of competition, in the marketplace, the playing field, the battlefield or the arena.

It is fighting supposed Russian election collusion because it wants to fight about minds and ideas. The American left had thought that it had fully and completely occupied the American mind… to the point where it was in complete control. After all, what with its monopoly control over the media and the educational establishment it had submitted American children and adults to constant indoctrination for decades now. How could Americans fail to vote the way their philosopher kings wanted them to vote?

The struggle against imaginary Russian collusion bespeaks another monumental failure. The struggle over democracy is a fight over an idea. The idealist faction of the American intelligentsia believes, as an article of faith, that the nation's success or failure will depend on whether it lives up to its ideals. Democracy is one; social justice is another.

Our Asian competitors are more pragmatic and more empirically minded. They are competing in industry, commerce, technology and the military. They care whether it works, not how it feels. They do not care, as Deng Xiaoping famously said, whether the cat is white or black. They care about whether it catches mice. 

We are masking our fear of competition with China with a hue and cry over our precious, sacred democracy— one that only succeeds when the people do what their overlords tell them to do.

Time for Scott Israel to Resign

If he had any self-respect Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel would resign his position. His department failed to act when it was informed, over and over again, that Nikolas Cruz was dangerous. Its deputy, Scott Peterson, stationed at M. S. Douglas High School during the massacre, stayed out of the way, leaving the children unprotected. And the first police officers on the scene were not from Broward County, but from Cold Springs. See Instapundit for the details.

Instead of resigning, Sheriff Israel, a proud Hillary Clinton supporter, is out and around on television promoting gun control. He is providing us with a portrait in cowardice.

And then there is this. You knew that this was part of the problem, didn’t you? But you, as I, refrained from saying anything… because we await the evidence.

Were you to ask why local authorities, from school officials to the sheriff’s office let Nikolas Cruz to run free, the answer seems to have something to do with an Obama era policy—keep minority children in school. The policy required everyone to overlook delinquent youths from minority groups, the better to keep the minority crime statistics down.

Jack Cashill reports for The American Thinker:

"We're not compromising school safety. We're really saving the lives of kids," boasted Michaelle Valbrun-Pope, executive director of Student Support Initiatives for Broward County Public Schools, in August 2017.

Valbrun-Pope was referring to what an article by Jeffrey Benzing in Public Source calls the "Broward County Solution." As Benzing relates, Broward County used to lead the state of Florida in sending students to the state's juvenile justice system. County leaders responded with a perfectly progressive solution: "lower arrests by not making arrests."

Authorities agreed to treat twelve different misdemeanor offenses as school-related issues, not criminal ones. The results impressed the people who initiated the program. Arrests dropped from more than a thousand in 2011-2012 to less than four hundred just four years later.

One particular motivation behind programs like Broward County's was the pressure from multiple sources to reduce the statistical disparity between black and Hispanic student arrests on one hand and white and Asian student arrests on the other. Benzing writes, for instance, how a Denver organization called "Padres & Jóvenes Unidos" successfully advocated for a program like Broward's to help achieve "racial and education equity" in Denver schools.

By virtue of his name alone, Nikolas de Jesús Cruz, the adopted son of Lynda and Roger Cruz, became a statistical Hispanic. As such, authorities at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland had every reason not to report his troubling and likely criminal behavior to the police.

There you have it.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Life in Feminist Multicultural Paradise

It's always fun to examine the track record of Sweden, the Western world's first Feminist Paradise, haven for multiculturalists and rapists. So, here's how Sweden is dealing with the problems created by its willingness to accept far too many Muslim migrants. Hint, it's not the crimes, it's the coverup. (via Maggie's Farm)

Justin Trudeau Does India

Today’s comic relief comes to us from the Daily Mail. What would we do without the Daily Mail. You recall that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, aka Justin Bieber has been touring India. It's more like a vacation than a state visit, so this gives him extra opportunities to look like a fool.

You will also recall that the prime minister of India sent a junior agriculture minister to greet Justin upon his arrival. Since Narendra Modi normally welcomes visiting dignitaries, everyone noticed the insult.

Now, the Western world’s more politically correct, ideologically sensitive, woke proponent of diversity has managed to act the perfect buffoon. Somehow someone told him that it would be a good idea to dress as an Indian… the better to show his respect for local customs. It was charming for a bit, but eventually became a national joke.

The Indian press is having a ball with young Justin. The Daily Mail has the compelling story:

Justin Trudeau has been ridiculed on social media by Indians for his 'tacky' and over the top outfit choices while on his first visit to their nation as Prime Minister.   

While many praised his clothing during the first two days of his trip, patience was wearing thin by the time he attended a Bollywood gala on Tuesday night, before the tide turned against him on Wednesday.

Ministers, authors, journalists and ordinary Indians lined up to mock him on Wednesday, saying his wardrobe was 'fake and annoying'. 

Perhaps taking note of the criticism, the Canadian leader donned a suit on Thursday as he visited Jama Masjid, one of India's largest mosques.

Among those who took to Twitter to comment, Omar Abdullah called it “choreographed cuteness.” Baahvna Arora found “Justin Bieber’s fancy dress display fake and annoying.” Shunali Kuhlar Shroff inquired: “Who advised Justin Trudeau to dress like a bridegroom at the Bombay event? Only a horse and a sehra seemed to be missing.”

Many observers suggested that it seemed Trudeau was attending a wedding from the way he was dressed (pictured here at one of Ghandi's former homes on Monday)

When he visited Bollywood, he exceeded all expectations. 

The Daily Mail explained:

But while the actors dressed down for the occasion, opting largely for black suits and shirts, Trudeau went all-out with a gaudy golden number.

India Today described the choice of clothing as 'tacky', suggesting it was insulting to his guests.

The paper wrote: 'We understand that the Trudeaus do not understand Indian clothing as well as Indian dignitaries do, but for someone who's been fond of wearing Indian kurtas even back home, it's not wrong to expect a touch of class.'

Now you know what it means to be a citizen of the world? Feeling edified yet?

Psychiatrist Says: Don't Blame Us for Nikolas Cruz

Don’t blame us? So says psychiatrist Amy Barnhorst in a New York Times op-ed. Don’t blame us for failing to appreciate the danger posed by a Nikolas Cruz… or a James Holmes or an Adam Lanza. We could not tell that they were dangers. When we ran our checklist of psychotic traits they passed with flying colors. Our profession, and the society’s concern with civil liberties, has tied our hands. We should not change our laws about involuntary hospitalization. We should not change the way that psychiatrists diagnose mental illness. We should take away their guns.

Considering that everyone who knew Nikolas Cruz,--everyone but the professionals charged with protecting the community-- knew that he was dangerous. The police had visited the Cruz home nearly forty times. He had announced to the world that he wanted to be a school shooter. The FBI had been informed. Social services had visited him. It seems to some of us that these government agencies failed miserably in their task of evaluating Cruz’s homicidal mania. This tells us either that they were all incompetent—don’t eliminate that possibility—or that psychiatry is sorely deficient when it comes to diagnosing certain cases. Why might it by so deficient? Perhaps it has been infected with its own variety of political correctness, contaminated by an excessive concern for civil liberties.

Can there be too much concern for civil liberties? Of course, there can. And yet, the anguished parents and children who have been filling our television screens with their outrage do not take aim at the failures of the system. They blame it all on the NRA and on guns. In truth, Barnhurst does too. She begins her essay by minimizing and trivializing Cruz's symptoms:

Shouldn’t psychiatrists be able to identify as dangerous someone like Nikolas Cruz, the young man charged in the school shooting last week in Florida, who scared his classmates, hurt animals and left menacing online posts?

Mr. Cruz had suffered from depression and was getting counseling at one point. He was also evaluated by emergency mental health workers in 2016, but they decided not to hospitalize him. Why, some critics are demanding, didn’t he receive proper treatment? And can’t we just stop angry, unstable young men like him from buying firearms?

As mentioned, Cruz was far more than an angry young man. He was shouting as loud as he could that he was homicidal. No one believed him. We note that a James Holmes, who shot up a movie theatre in Aurora, CO was consulting with a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist had diagnosed him as a paranoid schizophrenic. She wanted him to be committed. The system would not allow her to do it… because Colorado laws would not permit it. The same holds true of Adam Lanza, whose mother wanted to have him committed. Connecticut’s involuntary commitment laws did not allow it. The state legislature had voted down tougher laws a couple of months before Lanza opened fire at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Barnhorst is correct to note that many of these psychotics and psychopaths do not present for treatment. And she notes correctly that the state interest in protecting civil liberties restricts what psychiatrists can do. And yet, in the Cruz case, the signs were everywhere. He was shouting them every chance he got. Only a deaf, dumb and blind band of bureaucrats could have missed it.

She wrote:

The mental health system doesn’t identify most of these people because they don’t come in to get care. And even if they do, laws designed to preserve the civil liberties of people with mental illness place limits on what treatments can be imposed against a person’s will.

Yet, when making their diagnoses, psychiatrists and judges rely on the word of the patient. They take it at face value. Of course, the prospective patients can look up the signs of psychosis on the internet and then lie to the judges and the psychiatrists. This leaves us with only the most extreme cases:

Here in California, as in most states, patients must be a danger to themselves or others because of mental illness before they can be involuntarily admitted to a psychiatric hospital. This is a mechanism for getting people into treatment when they are too deep in the throes of their illness to understand that they need it. It allowed me to hospitalize a woman who tried to choke her mother because she was convinced her family had been replaced with impostors, and a man who had sent threatening letters to his boss because he believed she had implanted a microchip in his brain.

A young man who had been threatening to kill people was brought in by his parents to consult with Dr. Barnhorst. She describes his demeanor:

But the young man who had written about shooting his classmates was calm, cooperative and polite. The posts, he insisted, were nothing more than online braggadocio. He denied being suicidal or homicidal; he had never heard voices or gotten strange messages from the television. He admitted to having been bullied and was resentful of classmates who seemed to have more thriving social and romantic lives. But he adamantly denied he would be violent toward them.

What options did I have? It was clear to me that he did not have a psychiatric illness that would justify an involuntary hospitalization, but I was reluctant to release this man whose story echoed that of so many mass shooters.

It may well be the case that the young man was not psychotic or psychopathic. He might have been putting on a show to get attention. And yet, Barnhorst took the path of caution and had him committed. Whatever point she makes about the non-treatment of Cruz, Barnhorst herself took the path of good judgment. She erred on the side of caution:

I ended up admitting this patient, and he was released by the hearing officer two days later. He never took any medication, never reached the threshold for a federal firearm prohibition and left the hospital in the same state he arrived in. Like so many of his peers, he will not seek out therapy for the longstanding personality traits that seem to predispose him to violence and rage, and there is no way to impose treatment upon him.

As it happens, we do not know what effect the commitment had on him. We do not know what would have happened if his parents and the authorities had simply ignored him. Perhaps the minimal intervention, performed by parents and Dr. Barnhorst, accompanied by a couple of days in the hospital had helped him. We do not know. We cannot say that it had no effect or that doing nothing would have had the same effect.

By committing him to the hospital, Barnhorst made it impossible for him to buy a gun from a federally licensed gun dealer. Since we are all wondering how Nikolas Cruz was allowed to purchase a gun, this is not necessarily a bad thing.

Barnhorst continues:

The one concrete benefit of officially committing him would be that he could be prohibited from buying a gun from any federally licensed retailer. Of course, this would do nothing about any guns and ammunition he may already have amassed. Nor would it deter him from getting guns from private-party sales, which are exempt from background checks in many states.

And yet, if  you believe, as she does, that the problem is more the availability of guns than government failures to intervene, she undermines her argument by suggesting, correctly, that guns are everywhere. As one has often mentioned, there are now 300 million guns in private hands. Will new gun control laws reduce their number and make it impossible for people who want to acquire them from acquiring them.... from friends or family?

We might agree that we should toughen up the laws involving gun purchases. And yet, if the psychiatric profession is unable to identify people who pose potential risk, what good would such laws serve?

Even if all potential mass shooters did get psychiatric care, there is no reliable cure for angry young men who harbor violent fantasies. And the laws intended to stop the mentally ill from buying guns are too narrow and easily sidestepped; people like Nikolas Cruz and my patient are unlikely to qualify.

Some of the mass shooters are angry young men. Some are Islamist terrorists. (When they are Islamists, the hue and cry tells us not to be Islamophobic.) But, Nikolas Cruz was far more deranged that Barnhorst suggests. Thus, the problem was a psychiatric profession that was incapable of seeing what so many of those around Cruz had seen clearly for years. If Cruz had been committed, he would not have been able to buy a gun. If Cruz had consulted with Dr. Barnhorst, she would have done the responsible thing and erred toward caution. She would have had him committed. The real story here is that no one did.