If You Drink That, My Feelings Will Be Hurt

James Greiff at Bloomberg View wants you to know:

A refresher course in the work of Louis Pasteur should be mandatory for advocates of so-called raw milk.

Gee, thanks, teacher. The disdainful, supercilious opinion of every anti-raw-milk crusader is that we unscientific 19th-century throwback Luddites must have simply ignored the “science” telling us that pasteurized milk is “safer” than its raw variant. If only we had paid attention in biology class, then people like James Greiff wouldn’t have to worry about us drinking something he doesn’t want us to drink.

[A]n alliance has formed to advance legislation requiring state and federal regulators to end many of the restrictions on unpasteurized milk sales. It’s an unlikely marriage at that, combining the more ardent foes of industrialized farming with the anti-government wing of the political right.

Those promoting raw milk claim — in the face of scientific evidence to the contrary — that pasteurizing milk destroys proteins, enzymes and vitamins that prevent allergies, asthma, even cancer. Of course, there is no proof of this, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, raw and pasteurized milk are nutritionally indistinguishable.

I’ve long ago stopped trying to debate the scientific merits of raw milk with opponents of the stuff; there’s far more stock in telling the nation’s food busybodies to just butt out of our business. Nevertheless, there is a great deal of empirical proof—or scientific evidence, if you’d prefer—that proves raw milk’s superior nutritional content and enzymatic profile as compared to its ridiculous pasteurized cousin; advocates like Ron Schmid and the kooky-but-earnest William Campbell Douglass have been showing this for years. In any event, it’s not “science” that anti-raw-milk people are interested in, but a sneering, preening technological supremacy: “Well, we always get our milk pasteurized—we read our Pasteur, after all.”

There’s no point in debating the merits of legalizing a ten-thousand-year-old food when your debater can only muster the intellectual wherewithal to view the crusade as a “marriage” between “foes of industrialized farming [and] the anti-government wing of the political right,” and whose primary appeal to authority appears to be “foodsafety.gov,” also known as “Your Gateway to Federal Food Safety Information.” As the FDA points out, between 1987 and 2010 there were “at least 133 outbreaks due to the consumption of raw milk and raw milk products.  These outbreaks caused 2,659 cases of illnesses, 269 hospitalizations, 3 deaths, 6 stillbirths and 2 miscarriages.” That’s right: the FDA has determined that raw milk caused .10 deaths per year over a twenty-three-year period, and a grand total of roughly 115 illnesses per year during that period as well. At this rate, it would take around 275 years for the number of deaths associated with raw milk to equal the number of dog attacks in 2012 alone. Who needs a “refresher course” in this case—the people who want to take their chances with raw milk based on its good odds, or the guy who’s so scared of it that he simply can’t bear the thought of anyone else consuming it, and wants to make it illegal for them to do so?

This Time I Know I’m Right!

Remember when all those foreboding climate change doomsday predictions came true over the last forty years or so? Well, unless we act soon, we may have to remember all over again:

Finally, let’s stop thinking that, well, there’s nothing to be done since these changes operate on such a monumental scale. Human beings survived Ice Ages and previous warmings, this thinking goes. They’ll survive this one. Yes, but at what cost? People will die from the impacts. Others will be uprooted. Conflicts are likely. (New research published recently at Smithsonian.com suggests Genghis Khan was aided in his 13th-century predations by a warmer, rainier climate that promoted the growth of steppe grasses that kept his warriors’ horses fed.) And there is the potential for less likely but potentially catastrophic climate-change events, such as the sudden collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheets.

That’s right: one of the justifications for “acting” on climate change is that Genghis Khan’s army of horses was well-fed by warm weather. Global warming apologia increasingly resembles a bad parody of global warming apologia written by unintelligent anti-science evolution-denying right-wing “climate change denialists.”

Anyway, assuming climate change is as real a threat as they say it is, it certainly is worth it to wonder “at what cost” humans would survive it. It’s equally worthwhile–perhaps more so–to investigate “at what cost” humans would have to stop global warming from occurring, such as that proposed by the IPCC:

The recommended solution is a 75 percent reduction in meat and dairy product consumption.

Of course it is: the environmentalist solution to everything is to eat less animal products. The problem, of course, is not the amount of meat and dairy we eat but the ways in which the meat and dairy are produced—a fact that always seems to elude the diehard veggie lobby; the report cited by the IPCC appears to make no distinction between the numerous systems of agriculture one can find in any given country. Hey, why attempt a rigorous examination of the differences between certain modes of agricultural production? Eat less meat, eat more wheatgrass and soybeans.

Meanwhile, the climate continues to send mixed signals to its global warming acolytes:

The calendar says April, but the skies will say snowstorm in northern Wisconsin on Wednesday.

Growing up, I was told by wild-eyed pundits and environmentally-minded peers that global warming meant we’d never see snow again. It turns out that global warming means just about whatever they want it to mean. It must be nice to be in possession of an unfalsifiable ideology, but you shouldn’t be surprised when fewer and fewer people take your ceaseless, frequently-incorrect apocalyptic warnings to heart.

Abolish Self-Reliance!

The United States Department of Agriculture, which may qualify as the most meddlesome and irritating bureaucracy in United States history, has announced plans to ban junk food from all United States high schools:

The USDA said in a statement that “the new standards preserve flexibility for time-honored traditions like fundraisers and bake sales, and provide ample transition time for schools. USDA is committed to working closely with students, parents, school stakeholders and the food and beverage industries to implement the new guidelines, and make the healthy choice the easy choice for America’s young people.”

That’s awful nice of them to “preserve flexibility for time-honored traditions,” though one notices that they apparently can’t be bothered to preserve flexibility for the time-honored American tradition of, you know, self-government. In any event, it always begins with making “the healthy choice the easy choice;” eventually the “healthy choice” will become the mandatory choice when the USDA extends its junk-food-banning oversight to the larger civil society. That sounds far-fetched until you consider that, a few generations ago, it would have likely seemed absurd to suggest that the USDA had the authority to ban junk foods in schools, or ban it anywhere, for that matter.

Here’s another interesting part of the report:

The regulations, which kick in this July, say vending machines are only allowed to sell fruit, dairy products, whole-grain foods, lean-protein products or vegetable items that are less than 200 calories for “snacks” and 350 calories for “entrees…”

Evidently vending machines are capable of dispensing “entrees” now. What boneheaded school official allowed such machines onto school property? What inept parents allow their children to purchase “entrees” from machines in the hallway? The USDA may be a pointless and pernicious bureaucracy that’s fostering a culture of dependency in the upcoming generation, but it is merely the tip of the iceberg in modern society’s widespread failure to do right by our school-aged children.

Don’t Open Your Mouth

Yesterday I wrote about the decrepit and shameful state of Richmond Public Schools, the rotting buildings of RPS proving once again that public education is often run by either unrepentant crooks or incompetent morons. Up in the higher echelons of the American education complex, in contrast, the problems are usually not so staggering in their brazenness, but they are often no less dismaying:

The sorority sisters hung a banner outside their house that referenced the school’s former “Fighting Sioux” nickname and logo; it stated: “You can take away our mascot but you can’t take away our pride – Mens 2014 NCAA Frozen Four” – in support of the school’s hockey team in the NCAA Frozen Four in Philadelphia this week.

But some on the campus quickly dubbed the banner “insensitive,” including UND President Robert Kelley, who chided the young women for putting it up during the university’s “Time Out Week,” a campus-wide celebration of Native American culture and history. Making matters worse, the Gamma Phi Beta sorority house is next to the American Indian Student Services building.

I yield to no man in my sympathy for the Native Americans, who were cheated, defrauded, murdered and abused countless times by British colonial authorities and the subsequent United States government. I also must confess to a certain antipathy towards Native American “appropriation” or whatever they’re calling it these days—in any event, I’m not entirely comfortable with team names like “Braves” or “Redskins.” And yet this latest debacle is simply laughable. It’s now considered insensitive not only to “appropriate” a Native American tribe name, but to express your displeasure when it is taken away. The delicate sensibilities of UND cannot even deal with a divergent opinion, let alone political incorrectness.

What’s the remedy for such intolerant free speech?

In a statement released Tuesday, the national Gamma Phi Beta organization condemned the banner and apologized to the UND community, promising to “provide sensitivity training … on the importance of cultural appreciation,” and adding they may impose sanctions on the UND chapter.

That will show those dastardly sorority girls what’s what. There are few things more braindead and interminable than “sensitivity training.” A few years ago, while working at a university, I was forced to attend a three-hour “living our values” sensitivity “workshop.” The word “diversity” was used more times than I thought possible in such a short period, and was used in such a slapdash and slack-jawed manner that I didn’t even really grasp what it meant after, oh, the first ninety minutes. The moderator of the event even implied that it “wasn’t okay” if someone uttered an “offensive remark” in a private conversation. Sensitivity training is more often than not designed to make its participants entirely insensitive to a culture of robust debate and frankness of opinion. For their inexcusable transgression, the Gamma Phi Beta sisters will have to be taught this. “You can’t take away our pride,” they claimed, to which their thin-skinned overlords replied, “Oh yeah? Watch.”

Public School and Other Running Gags

There’s a great article in the latest edition of Richmond’s Style Weekly investigating the rotten state of many buildings occupied by Richmond Public Schools. Longtime residents of Richmond will be unsurprised to learn that RPS has let many of its buildings fall into shocking squalor, yet still, some of the details are jaw-dropping:

Never mind dead rodents — Armstrong fights live ones. It got so bad, she says, that snakes became a problem as well. Led around by an administrator who also doesn’t want to be named, Gray looks at the locker rooms. The girls’ is dominated by peeling paint, rust and a white residue that looks like it should wash off, but doesn’t. The boys’ is faring a little better since the last time she saw it. Shower floors are covered in cigarette butts, but the hardware is newer.

“Armstrong fights live rodents.” How about that? The average teacher’s salary in Richmond rests at over $43,000 (an income over which they no doubt complain bitterly), which is to say that the average teacher in Richmond makes more than most of the planet—and yet our schools are indicative not of a city in a first-world powerhouse but of a slum in a third-world banana republic. There is something distinctly chilling—not merely enraging, but actually unnerving—about an institution that is entrusted to take care of our kids and instead places them in run-down, putrid cesspools for seven hours of the day. The brazen incompetence of the Richmond Public School system should be a source of deep shame for every resident of Richmond, if only because the blundering idiots at RPS likely have no capacity for shame.

Of course, public schools are frequently if not usually the failures of left-liberalism writ large, as one sees in the repeated sentiment found in the paragraph above and the one below:

None of the school staff members accompanying Gray, Larson and Style on the school tours are willing to be identified by name.

Of course they’re not. If the top brass got word that some of the foot soldiers of the Glorious Public School Project were dissatisfied with the filth and the insanity in which they are forced to work—well, heads would have to roll. You can’t have people stepping out of line. Public education in these instances reminds one less of an enterprise for the “common good” and more of a paranoid Communist state, both in the fearful timidity of its victims and the wretched living conditions it inevitably creates. Forward, comrades!

A Middle Ground of No Proof

In one of those seasonal calls for a “moderate” approach to solving a vexing problem, Mike Bacior over at PennLive asks us to consider a “sensible” approach to gun control:

Middle ground. Regulation that will maintain the constitutional rights of the majority of citizens while keeping assault weapons (and any weapons for that matter) out of the hands of people who will be most likely to place others in danger.

So what happens when someone wants to buy an AR-15 in Pennsylvania? Well, he or she almost always does. In Pennsylvania, background checks are in place that prevent felons, illegal immigrants, and those declared mentally impaired from buying handguns from both licensed dealers and private sellers. 

But guess what? Those same background checks do not apply to private sales of “long guns,” a category generally consisting of shotguns and longer barreled rifles…

An AR-15 falls into this category of “long gun,” meaning just about anyone can get his or her hands on one. Neither a convicted felon, an illegal immigrant, nor a person declared mentally unfit by a mental health professional should be able to purchase a weapon as dangerous as an AR-15, and as of now there is little to stop them from doing so.

“There is little to stop them from doing so.” Yet missing from Bacior’s entire argument are any data related to “private sales” (as if purchasing a gun from an FFL is not a private sale in and of itself), specifically how many “private sales” have contributed to gun violence in, say, Pennsylvania’s recent history. There are no data in his piece relevant to this incredibly vital question—and in fact, if you listen to most arguments that propose to enforce background checks on “private sales,” you will almost certainly hear no compelling evidence, or even any evidence whatsoever, that such background checks will save anything. So why on Earth would we pass such a law? Gun controllers may have their reasons, but we would be wise to resist such legislation, if only because it would undoubtedly lead to further, more restrictive gun control.

Organize for Incomprehensibility and Fear!

Yesterday I wrote about a dimwitted pro-choice candidate for Congress who gave a clear example of how “a great many progressives and leftists…are unable to differentiate between plants and human beings.” As it turns out, I was rather tame in my characterization of lefty political asininity:

“From Abortion Rights to Social Justice: Building the Movement for Reproductive Freedom,” organized for the 28th year by the Civil Liberties and Public Policy program of Hampshire College, takes place April 11 through April 13 at the college.

The conference links reproductive health and rights to a range of social issues, including racial, economic, and disability justice; LGBTQ rights; and environmental justice. More than 12,000 people have participated in the conferences to date.

Far from being unable to differentiate between taxonomic kingdoms, the Civil Liberties and Public Policy program is unable to differentiate between…well, anything, apparently. Is there a connection between “environmental justice” and “LGBTQ rights?” You would think not, but to engage in a political crusade of this ilk, you don’t really need to prove an actual link between your causes, you just need to be fervent about them:

“The conference’s ability to inspire young people towards activism can’t be understated,” said Zoë Boyle, student group coordinator, in the release.

It “can’t be understated?” I feel certain I could at least give it a shot. Elsewhere, at another conference, a group of activists were busy inspiring young people to stay the hell away from feminism:

Timpf attempted to ask students’ their opinions on feminism, but conference organizers made an announcement advising participants not to talk to Campus Reform because it was a “conservative” outlet.

The organizers also followed Timpf around the conference to interrupt her conversations with students to tell them the same thing.

“They’re a group that’s conservative, so what we are fighting for is not something…” one organizer told a student who was talking with Timpf, prompting the student to walk away.

Modern feminism is increasingly becoming a caricature of a caricature of modern feminism. Actually, come to think of it, the National Young Feminist Leadership Conference is more a caricature of Victorian feminine weakness: the conference’s attendees are so terrified of a “conservative group” that they must usher each other away from the poisonous influence of someone with which they’ve never spoken, lest they, I don’t know, faint, or get the vapors, or something like that. There are many things you could say about such self-imposed frailty, and most of them assuredly could not be understated.

Pro-Choice vs. Pro-Tree

A while ago I wrote a “Twitter psychological profile” on Mike Dickinson, a Democratic candidate for Congress hoping to unseat Eric Cantor in the House of Representatives. I claimed that Dickinson’s campaign may have been,”for all appearances, the best performance art we’ve seen in a long time.” I’m still not convinced that Dickinson isn’t running a fake satire campaign meant to discredit Democrats generally, in which case he’s doing a fabulous job. If he is a serious candidate, however, his campaign can only be described as nothing short of horrifying and baffling, comprised as it is of tweets like this pro-choice gem:

But what does this even mean? Unquestionably, an unborn child will one day be able to “sustain life on its own;” a leaf, on the other hand, will always die when it is disconnected from the tree on which it originated. It would be more appropriate to say that a “fetus” is like an acorn, except not all acorns will one day grow into trees—and more importantly, a given acorn will only eventually be a tree, while an unborn baby is already a human.

Of course, the metaphor breaks down on an even deeper level. Trees and leaves are part of the plant kingdom, and so are not given anything resembling the kind of consideration we extend to human beings. Put another way, it’s perfectly legal (barring some exceptions) to cut down a tree—but it is never legal to murder a woman, and if you murder a pregnant woman you may get charged with murdering her unborn child, as well. There’s no murder statute for oaks or magnolias or pines.

All this proves is that Dickinson, like a great many progressives and leftists, are unable to differentiate between plants and human beings. Modern American liberalism is an often-humorous set of political and philosophical beliefs, but as Dickinson shows it can sometimes veer over into the monstrous and grotesque.

The Disarmed Forces

In response to the (most recent) Fort Hood shooting, a number of sensible commentators and pundits have suggested that perhaps soldiers should be allowed to, you know, carry firearms while on base—a seemingly-uncontroversial proposal given that soldiers are, you know, trained extensively in handling firearms. If ever there is a modest proposal to potentially solve a terrible problem, though, an MSNBC commentator almost certainly opposes it:

“The situation that existed at Fort Hood the other day, in a circumstance in which everybody has weapons, could very easily result and probably would have resulted in an enormous mass fratricide, and you would have this all the time,” said Jacobs. “Arming everybody in a civilian situation like at Fort Hood would result in a terrible, terrible tragedy, larger than this one…”

Jacobs concluded: “No responsible commander would ever agree to arm all of his soldiers on post, that’s all there is to it, and I know, I’ve commanded lots of troops in and out of combat.”

The Fort Hood victims could not be reached for comment on Jacobs’s self-referential appeal to authority. The hack second-rate gun control group CSGV boldly proclaimed (twice, even) that the Colonel had “put John Lott, Jr. in his place,” as if Lott, Jr. were a mouthy broad who stepped out of line and needed to be corrected by a domineering husband. In any event, that’s how pathetically desperate the anti-armament response to this type of tragedy has become: they’re arguing that United States soldiers are unfit to carry weapons and use them when need be!

We gun nuts are often accused of being obstinate about our Second Amendment rights, which is a perfectly legitimate characterization, but our determination pales in comparison to intransigence like this. “The situation that existed at Fort Hood the other day,” as Jacobs delicately put it, in fact existed there five years ago when another lone gunman shot up a base of unarmed men and women and killed multiple people. And still there is a large contingency of people stamping their feet and claiming that we should continue to widely disarm soldiers on military bases, even as such policy has arguably proven twice-fatal. Hey, who needs damning evidence in the face of a smug opinion?