Soledad O’Brien’s laughable gauge for determining the “relevancy” of your opinion

Soledad O'Brien

Soledad O’Brien. Screengrab image via

Courtesy of a retweet yesterday, I came across a column journo/author/business woman Soledad O’Brien praised and shared with her audience on Twitter, one that was written by a Facebook executive by the name of Margaret Gould Stewart. Stewart is the Director of Product Design at Facebook and developed a serious case of the vapors over the audacity of questioners at business conferences to ask successful female public figures who also happen to be moms how they manage to juggle it all. More on that in a minute.

Here’s how it all started:

My response:

We continued on for a few tweets, with me letting her know my opinion on how absurd it was to suggest that female executives/moms being asked about how they manage the heavy responsibilities of motherhood and a career was insulting and diminishing. She countered that she didn’t think I “got the point.” At some point in the conversation, I told her I wasn’t a mother. This was what she said in response:

Y’all, this is codespeak in 2015 for: “You’ve been dismissed, your opinion isn’t worth including in this discussion, now STFU. Buhbye.” When I pointed this out to her, she became defensive and said she wasn’t telling me to shut me up, just that I was uninformed – because I’m not a female executive juggling work and child responsibilities at the same time. Because apparently my life experiences and my opinions formed based on reading, talking to, and listening to women who DO meet all the “right” criteria don’t matter.

Not surprisingly, a lot of followers – mine and hers – had much to say in response. But this was the gist of her “point” about the relevancy of opinions:

Got it? So let’s take this train of thought to the next level. If your opinion on whether or not it’s appropriate to ask a female exec on the work/life balance is “irrelevant” because you’re not a female executive with children, then the following also applies in Ms. O’Brien’s world:

– If you’re not gay, your opinion on gay rights is not relevant.

– If you’re not Latino, your opinion on issues impacting the Latino community are not relevant.

– If you’re not a woman, your opinion on so-called “women’s issues” is not relevant.

– If you’re not a gun owner, your opinion on gun rights is not relevant.

– If you’re not black, your opinion on “Black Lives Matter” and other similar protest movements is not relevant.

– If you’ve never had an abortion, your opinion on “the right to choose” is irrelevant.

– If you’re not in the military, your opinion on military matters is not relevant.

– If you’re not a college student, your opinion on college tuition is not relevant.

I could go on and on, but you get the picture. It would be one thing to say that a female executive/mom’s opinion on this carries more weight because she’s “been there.” That I could understand and mostly agree with. But just shoving an opinion off the boat by saying it’s not relevant at all because someone don’t meet the exact criteria doesn’t exactly foster healthy dialogue, does it? What happened to diversity of thought?

It’s fascinating that in the day and age where so-called “feminists” are encouraging other women to stand up and “make your voices be heard!!!”, that we “need to hear from women from all walks of life!!” that someone as (presumably) progressive and successful over the last few decades like Soledad O’Brien would be so dismissive of the opinions of other women who don’t always agree. I think it’s pretty obvious that if I had agreed with Ms. O’Brien on Ms. Stewart’s pearl-clutching opinion piece, then whether or not I was an executive with kids wouldn’t have even factored into the equation, and she wouldn’t have made it an issue, nor given me the “talk to the hand” treatment.

Some people’s egos are too sensitive and fragile to be able to tolerate vast differences in opinions and passionate disagreement, I guess. Not the first time it’s happened with someone who has previously spoken out about the need for people to raise their voices, and I doubt it will be the last.

Oh, and about that ridiculous opinion piece written by Margaret Gould Stewart? Make sure you read it. It goes beyond the typical feminist hysteria you’re used to hearing about. Once you’re done reading that, check out my response to it – written after my back and forth with Ms. O’Brien.

Obama: “Don’t criticize Islam because Christians did terrible things, too!”


**Posted by Phineas

satire does not equal 02

Sigh. While speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast, Obama warned against insulting religions, just because one has the right to do so. In the process, he engaged in some intellectually lazy moral equivalence:

“Humanity’s been grappling with these questions throughout human history, and unless we get on our high horse and think that this is unique to some other place — remember that during the Crusades and Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ,” Obama said.

“…So it is not unique to one group or one religion; there is a tendency in us, a simple tendency that can pervert and distort our faith. In today’s world when hate groups have their own Twitter accounts and bigotry can fester in hidden places in cyberspace, it can be even harder to counteract such intolerance. And God compels us to try.”

Obama advocated starting with “some basic humility.”

First, let’s all take a moment to clean up after the spit-take we all experienced when Barack “I’m the 4th greatest president, ever” Obama advocated some basic humility. Better, now?

The President was speaking in the context of the horrific murder of Jordanian pilot Lt. Mu’adh Yusuf al Kasasibah by burning him alive. And Obama, always supposing himself to be the only reasonable man in the room wanted to warn others, “Hey, Christians have done some nasty things, too, so let’s not go overboard in reaction.”

This is called a tu quoque error, Latin for “you, too,” or arguing the accuser is a hypocrite for being just as guilty as the accused. Not only is this an error of relevancy –what happened centuries ago has no bearing on the atrocities committed by ISIS nor our condemnation of them– in this case Obama is showing an all too common ignorance of both history and the religions he presumes to lecture about.

Put bluntly, when a Christian commits “terrible deeds” while invoking the name of Christ, he is acting against Christ’s teachings. On the other hand, when a Muslim does something similar, he is often acting in accord with the teachings of the Qur’an, the hadiths, and the recorded deeds of the life of Muhammad. Writing at Victor Davis Hanson’s site, Bruce Thornton puts it so when criticizing another example of historical and theological ignorance:

This point makes [Harvard Professor Kevin Madigan’s] argument a false analogy, for there is nothing in traditional Islamic theology that provides a basis for making violence against heretics and non-believers un-Islamic. The professor wants to argue away these inconvenient truths about traditional Islam by arguing that the faith can evolve away from them, just as Christianity did. But again, whereas historical Christian violence could find no scriptural justification, and much to condemn it, Islamic violence and intolerance––and of course slavery and Jew-hatred––are not the result of fringe or extremist misinterpretations. Rather, they are validated in the Koran, the Hadith, and 14 centuries of Islamic theology and jurisprudence, all regularly and copiously cited by today’s jihadists and theologians.

Thus the doctrine of jihad against infidels––the notion that such aggression is a justified form of the defense of Islam and necessary for fulfilling Allah’s will that all people become Muslims––is the collective duty of those dwelling in the House of Islam. The Koran instructs, “Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Messenger have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth.” Nor can there be any “tolerance” or “mutual respect” for those who reject Islam, especially Jews and Christians: “O you who believe! Do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends; they are friends of each other; and whoever amongst you takes them for a friend, then surely he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide the unjust people.” The professor’s dream of a “broad-minded form” of Islam would require an extensive reinterpretation or rejection of some of Islam’s fundamental tenets.

That whole article is worth the time to read.

While I was raised in a Catholic household, I’m not a religious person. And while I have a great deal of respect for (most) religions, I have none for the kind of shallow, intellectually indolent and sanctimonious ignorance Obama displayed in his remarks. The fact is, while Judaism, Christianity, and Islam arose in roughly the same region and have some similarities, what is valued as right and good and a religious duty in Islam is far different than in the former two faiths, as anyone who takes more than a superficial glance at them can see.

If we’re to fight this war successfully, we have to understand accurately the beliefs of those fighting on the other side. Sadly, we’ll have to wait for the next president to have any hope of that in our leadership.

PS: Regarding the Crusades, whatever wrong happened during them, let’s not forget that they originated in a Western counterattack against the Muslim conquest of two-thirds of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, including Christendom’s holiest sites.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

#headdesk Kerry: global warming as great a threat as ISIS and ebola


**Posted by Phineas

We're doomed.

We’re doomed.

I have no words left, I think, to describe what a fatuous buffoon this man is, so I’ll let the Secretary of State of the United States speak for himself:

Secretary of State John Kerry said the threats posed by climate change should be addressed with as much “immediacy” as confronting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and the Ebola outbreak.

During a meeting with foreign ministers on Sunday, Kerry said global warming is creating “climate refugees.”

“We see people fighting over water in some places. There are huge challenges to food security and challenges to the ecosystem, our fisheries and … the acidification of the ocean is a challenge for all of us,” Kerry said.

“And when you accrue all of this, while we are confronting ISIL and we are confronting terrorism and we are confronting Ebola and other things, those are immediate,” he added, using an alternate acronym for the terrorist group.

“This also has an immediacy that people need to come to understand, but it has even greater longer-term consequences that can cost hundreds of billions, trillions of dollars, lives, and the security of the world,” Kerry continued.

Let’s see. Ebola is a hideous hemorrhagic disease that has already killed thousands in West Africa, may well spread further –and beyond Africa– and could become a nightmare if somehow it mutates into an airborne form.

And then we have ISIS/ISIL/The Islamic State, a more virulent form of al Qaeda that has claimed the mantle of the defunct caliphate and a divine mission to force Islam and sharia law on the rest of the world. It has killed thousands of people –men, women, and children– by shooting, beheading, crucifixion, and God knows how else. It has declared that Yazidis must convert or die. It has oppressed, killed, and stolen the property of Christians and Muslims of the “wrong sort.” It has sold women into sex slavery. It has promised to wage war on the West. (All of this is in accordance with Islamic law, btw.) If it obtains nuclear or biological weapons, there is no doubt they will use them wherever they can be deployed, inside or outside the Middle East.

Oh, and don’t forget a newly aggressive Russia, slowly dismembering Ukraine and now rattling sabers at NATO members in Eastern Europe, raising the specter of a continental war that would inevitably involve us.

But Secretary of State Kerry thinks the imaginary monster under the bed, human-caused catastrophic warming that leads to devastating climate change, is as great a threat. A bogeyman warming that has not occurred for over 215 months. Anthropogenic climate change that exists only in computer models that have trouble accurately modeling the past. (1)

Is it any wonder our (former?) allies in the Middle East have written him off as useless? This guy makes Thurston Howell III look like Klemens von Metternich.

We have over two years left of this car-clown administration. I’d better stock up on the Tylenol.

(1) Of course, the Earth’s climate is a dynamic, changing system. A series of natural cycles. It’s the misuse of science to perpetrate a huge fraud, man-caused catastrophic climate change, that I’m objecting to.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

California school district buys $14,000 espresso maker to save jobs. Or something.


**Posted by Phineas

"For the children?"

“For the children?”

No, really.

The break room coffee machine is a staple of many a workplace. Usually though, it tends to fall on the “economical” or “value” side of the java spectrum.

But not in Castro Valley, California, where officials with the Castro Valley Unified School District are taking fire for the purchase of a $14,000 espresso maker.

The outrage was immediate. According to KPIX News in San Francisco, the school board’s facebook page was flooded with angry comments when word of the pricey espresso maker – paid for with taxpayer money – got out.

According to a school board official, buying the espresso machine was “an opportunity” to keep a part-time child nutritionist on staff. If you can’t see that, you must hate the children.

Though how a $14,000 espresso maker for the staff and child nutrition go together is a bit baffling. When I was in fourth grade, we were served chocolate milk, not a double shot.

And for an additional fourteen grand per year, maybe they could have made that nutritionist full-time? Or used it to… Oh, I don’t know. Buy new textbooks and school supplies for the kids?

Silly me. I guess a Mr. Coffee is just too déclassé for the Castro Valley school board.

Can’t wait to see the board members justify this to the voters.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

#KYsen: Allison Grimes, national security sooper-genius


**Posted by Phineas

Perfect against tunnelling jihadis!

Perfect against tunnelling jihadis!

Federal senators deal with issues of national and international importance, including matters of war and peace, and overall national security. You would think, then, that someone wishing to ascend to the Senate would at least know the basics about a game-changing weapon wielded by one of our key allies, who happens to be in a shooting war.

That is, until you meet Kentucky Democrat Allison Lundergan Grimes:

As foreign policy inches its way into a debate that has largely focused on the economy, Grimes was asked about congressional efforts to aid Israel’s missile defense system, known as the Iron Dome.

“Obviously, Israel is one of our strongest allies in the Middle East, and she has the right to defend herself,” Grimes said. “But the loss of life, especially the innocent civilians in Gaza, is a tragedy. The Iron Dome has been a big reason why Israel has been able to withstand the terrorists that have tried to tunnel their way in.

Iron Dome — as normal, intelligent folks such as you, Dear Readers, can probably tell without needing the above highlighting — is a missile-defense system. It is designed to shoot down things flying through the air: incoming tactical rockets with only minutes or seconds to spare, and it does an amazingly good job at it. One thing it does not do is stop things tunneling under the ground, jihadis or even gophers.

Someone should explain these tricky technical details to Ms. Grimes.

Grimes is hoping to defeat Mitch McConnell and capture his seat for the Democrats, and it’s a tight race. While McConnell hasn’t been one of my favorite senators, he also doesn’t give me the gas that he gives many of my fellow Righties. Regardless of one’s opinion of him, though, I think we can agree that it’s important that his seat be kept in Republican hands, for the Republic.

Even against a defense wiz like Allison Lundergan Grimes.

via Jim Geraghty

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Surprisingly not The Onion: John Kerry as the new Winston Churchill


**Posted by Phineas

With apologies to Sir Winston

With apologies to Sir Winston

(Image via Greg Nash / Getty Images)

I realize The Hill leans a bit left, and Budowsky himself is a hardcore liberal, but either he had the “special mushrooms” for dinner last night, or he was laughing uncontrollably while writing this:

Looking across the landscape of world affairs, from sectarian carnage to Middle East instability, from climate change that threatens the earth to a Russian dictator who threatens security in Europe, from the bellicosity of China to nuclear issues with North Korea and Iran, if there is a Winston Churchill of modern times who issues warnings and offers solutions, it is Secretary of State John Kerry.

Since the founding of Israel in 1948, Israel has had no better friend than John Kerry. His aspirations and efforts for Middle East peace might soon be dead, and if they are, historians will long condemn the intransigent and small-minded Israeli and Palestinian leaders who will force young Israelis and Palestinians to pay the price of their pettiness for generations to come.

While commentators grow impatient with Kerry’s Churchillian warnings about the consequences of failure in the Middle East peace process, the world might sadly witness how right Kerry is.
As Vladimir Putin escalates his war against Ukraine, employs lies as an instrument of invasion and subversion, and wages war against the sanctity of sovereignty and borders that has kept the peace in Europe since Hitler fell and the Berlin Wall tumbled, Kerry calls on a timid Europe to demonstrate resolve with the moral force with which Churchill addressed Neville Chamberlain.

Winston Churchill, for all the mistakes he made in World Wars I and II, got one thing, the Big Thing, right: there could be no alternative but absolute, unbending resistance to Hitler and the Nazis, even if it meant war. He knew that diplomacy not backed up by the credible threat to use force would only encourage civilization’s enemies. He was also an eloquent, masterful speaker and writer.

In my opinion, Winston Churchill saved Western Civilization.

John “Christmas in Cambodia” Kerry, on the other hand,  is a fatuous dunderhead who has been serially, perennially wrong about our enemies. Far from having “Churchillian foresight” about the Middle East, Kerry’s obsession with a two-state process is doomed because he refuses to recognize (1) the strength and depth of Islam’s rejection of Israel’s very existence; you can’t negotiate peace with someone who thinks it’s a commandment from God to kill you. As for Ukraine, it’s hard to take Kerry’s moral force seriously when his first reaction is to say “don’t be so 19th century, Vlad.” The fact is that no one in the broader world takes Secretary of State Kerry seriously, because he’s a stuffed shirt who knows nothing except how to spew empty platitudes. As for his speaking and writing… Well, I challenge you to try to get through one of his speeches without laughing or yawning.

This man is like Churchill??

Nah. I must’ve clicked on The Onion.

Like I said this morning on Twitter:

(Thanks to a friend for the idea.)

(1) Or he’s intellectually incapable of it, which is also possible.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

John Kerry focuses the State Department like a laser… On climate change


**Posted by Phineas

We're doomed.

We’re doomed.

Because, as we all know, Man-caused climate change the Dread Demon Carbon Dioxide is the “world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction,” a threat we have to deal with now and with all our efforts. Not nukes in the hands of Iranian mullahs yearning to bring about their version of the Apocalypse. Not jihadist terror groups also jonesing for a few kilotons of their own. Not H-bombs and rockets in the possession of Kim Jong Un, who, when not feeding relatives to the dogs and ordering the execution of Christians, might decide to restart the Korean War. Not Vladimir Putin, who, with thousands of nuclear weapons at his disposal, has decided to start dismembering neighboring states and daring the West to do something, anything about it. Not a rising, hyper-nationalist, aggressive, nuclear-armed China, which is rattling sabers at its island neighbors and looking to challenge American supremacy in the western Pacific.

Nope. Global warming is the greatest threat to America, and so Secretary Kerry has ordered our ambassadors around the world to make that their top priority:

US Secretary of State John Kerry has called on American ambassadors around the world to make the fight against climate change a top priority ahead of new UN talks next year.

In his first department-wide policy guidance statement since taking office a year ago, he told his 70,000 staff: “The environment has been one of the central causes of my life.”

“Protecting our environment and meeting the challenge of global climate change is a critical mission for me as our country’s top diplomat,” Kerry said in the letter issued on Friday to all 275 US embassies and across the State Department.

“It’s also a critical mission for all of you: our brave men and women on the frontlines of direct diplomacy,” he added in the document seen by AFP.

He urged all “chiefs of mission to make climate change a priority for all relevant personnel and to promote concerted action at posts and in host countries to address this problem.”

Note that the environment has been one of the “central causes” of John Kerry’s life, his personal mission. Thus the Department of State, charged with conducting the nation’s diplomacy, is now at the service of John Kerry’s personal tilt at the windmill. Silly me for thinking State’s job is to pursue the nation’s interests, not one dull man’s obsessions.

Of course, Kerry probably thinks his cause is the nation’s. It’s solipsism as foreign policy.

I ask again: Have we ever had a more fatuous, dunderheaded  bore as secretary of state than John Kerry?

Via Doug Powers, who provides illustrative examples of the Kerrys’ “Green lifestyle.”

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Taxpayer-funded Planned Parenthood marketing BDSM to teens?


**Posted by Phineas

Teach the children

Teach the children

I’m pretty open-minded, but this is a bit much, even for me:

Planned Parenthood of Northern New England (PPNNE)–which received more than $2.75 million in government funding in 2012–has produced and posted online a video specifically aimed at teenagers that promotes bondage and sadomasochism (BDSM) and proposes “rules” to follow when engaging in these activities.

“People sometimes think that those who practice BDSM are emotionally scarred or were once abused—not true, it’s a total myth,” the host of the video, Laci Green, informs its intended audience of teens.

“BDSM relies upon and creates trust,” she says.

Lifestyle choices are, of course, within broad boundaries an adult’s private affair. But through the age of 18, teens are the legal responsibility of their parents; I have to wonder how many would be happy to discover Planned Parenthood encouraging their teens to explore “alternative lifestyles” under the guise of “sexual health.” And why is my (hypothetical) child’s sex life, which I should hope he or she didn’t yet have, the business of an abortion mill, anyway?

The other question I have, one that’s not hypothetical at all, is why my tax money is going to support this?

Video at the first link.

RELATED: This isn’t the first time the Left has been caught showing teens how to have safe, alternative sex. Warning, it’s pretty graphic.

via Doug Powers

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

County government crushes little girl’s cupcake business


**Posted by Phineas

Nanny says, no fun for you!

Nanny says, no fun for you!

And you thought the Nanny State’s “war on child entrepreneurs” was over, after the Great Lemonade Stand War of 2010-11. I’m sorry to say, my friends, that the enemy, enterprising children who want to earn a little money, has opened a new front, threatening us all with the horror of unregulated micro-businesses.

Thank God, however, that the Madison County, Illinois, Health Department is there to protect us from the danger of unlicensed cupcakes:

After-school jobs are tougher to keep, apparently, than they used to be.

On Sunday, a Belleville News-Democrat story featured 11-year-old Chloe Stirling of Troy, Ill., a sixth-grader at Triad Middle School who makes about $200 a month selling cupcakes.

According to a report I watched on Megyn Kelly’s show last night, her parents, seeing Chloe was both serious at her new hobby and good at it, made her an offer: if she saves the money she earns through selling cupcakes, they will match it when she’s 16 and help her buy a car. Great idea, right? Chloe learns some skills and responsibility, how to set and meet goals, and, who knows, maybe she goes on to open her own bakery and creates jobs for other people. “Women’s empowerment,” know what I’m saying?

Winning situation all-around, right?

Well, Nanny State is right there to put an end to this nonsense!

“[The county] called and said they were shutting us down,” Heather Stirling, Chloe’s mother, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Officials told Stirling Chloe could continue selling cupcakes on the condition that the family “buy a bakery or build her a kitchen separate from the one we have.”

“Obviously, we can’t do that,” Heather Stirling told reporters. “We’ve already given her a little refrigerator to keep her things in, and her grandparents bought her a stand mixer.”

The elder Stirling said that she was willing to get her daughter any necessary licenses or permits to operate a business, but could not meet the health department’s other demands.

“But a separate kitchen? Who can do that?” asked an astonished Stirling.

When asked why they were curb-stomping an 11-year old’s business, martinets for Madison county started channeling Judge Dredd:

Health department spokeswoman Amy Yeager said they had no choice but to ask Chloe to close Hey Cupcake.

The rules are the rules. It’s for the protection of the public health. The guidelines apply to everyone,’ she said.

Sharon Valentine, environmental health manager at St Clair County (1) Health Department, added: ‘If we let one person do it, how can we tell the person with 30 cats in their home that they can’t do it? A line has to be drawn.’

The local health department had been tipped off to Chloe’s baking business after she appeared on the front page of Belleville News Democrat at the weekend.

Somehow –and you can call me “naive”– but I think the “crazy cat lady” scenario is a bit different than a grade-schooler in her parents’ kitchen.

Now, lest I sound like a foaming at the mouth anarcho-capitalist, I’m not averse to regulating food businesses for public health. Restaurants, commercial bakeries, butcher shops and so forth, sure. There is a legit public health interest.

Still, let’s be reasonable here. This is the equivalent of making little Julie Murphy cry in the name of enforcing regulations really meant for adults and real businesses. Asking the parents to buy an inexpensive license, which they were willing to do, and maybe submit the kitchen to a health inspection should be enough.

But “buy a bakery or build a separate kitchen??” That smacks of a petty bureaucrat being bored and needing some enforcement actions to show for the annual review.

And maybe a little bit of cartelism, too. Reason has written several good articles about how occupational licenses are used to limit competition.

Such as from little girls who are saving for their first car.

License required

License required

(1) Not sure why the Mail reporter called St. Clair county, which is next door to Madison county. I guess from a UK point of view, all those American counties look alike.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Obama issues mind-numbingly contradictory statement on #RoeAt41

Obama confused


Let’s play “spot the contradiction”, shall we?

President Obama issued a statement today on the 41st anniversary of the Roe v Wade decision by expressing his continued commitment to being one of the most radically far leftist Presidents on this issue in American history.  Here’s the statement in full (hat tip):

Today, as we reflect on the 41st anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, we recommit ourselves to the decision’s guiding principle: that every woman should be able to make her own choices about her body and her health.  We reaffirm our steadfast commitment to protecting a woman’s access to safe, affordable health care and her constitutional right to privacy, including the right to reproductive freedom.  And we resolve to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, support maternal and child health, and continue to build safe and healthy communities for all our children.  Because this is a country where everyone deserves the same freedom and opportunities to fulfill their dreams.

Ummm .. did you catch that?  The President “reaffirms” the “right” of a woman to terminate her unborn developing child for any reason she sees fit because … “this is a country where everyone deserves the same freedom and opportunities to fulfill their dreams.”

Except for the innocent unborn apparently.

Honestly, who writes this bleeping garbage? He probably doesn’t even understand it most of the time. His statement actually ended up being one of a pro-life nature, and he probably doesn’t even realize it. Absolutely unreal.