Category Archives: MACALESTER

Bookworm Beat 5/14/20: Pent up posting about the current scene

I am exploding with pent-up posts going back two weeks, so I thought a Bookworm Beat might be the best way to do a mental download onto the blog.

A good Obamagate overview. During their Russagate heyday, the leftist media had it easy because they could roll with a single message: “Russia! Russia! Russia!” And failing that, “Climate! Climate! Climate!”

Obamagate is harder because it is, in fact, an actual conspiracy. The nature of conspiracies is that they hide away in the dark, and involve serpentine steps to achieve nefarious goals. When brought to light, the malfeasors scurry away like cockroaches surprised by light. Then, investigators laboriously gather up the Raid and your roach motels to unravel the conspiracy and bring the conspirators before the law.

What I just wrote is a helpful analogy, but the actual facts of Obamagate are a bit harder to explain. That’s why I appreciated John Daniel Davidson’s masterful overview of Obamagate. He carefully avoids getting caught in the weeds of endless dates, actors, and lies, and focuses instead on the broad-brush outlines to reveal “the biggest political scandal of our time.” I actually disagree with that statement. I think that, as far as American politics go, it’s the biggest political scandal ever.

Anyway, if you’re struggling to get a handle on the two different narratives (FISA and Flynn) and the way they dovetail into a single concerted attack on the Trump campaign and then the Trump presidency, Davidson’s article is an excellent way to start.

Matt Taibbi continues his lonely journey as an honest progressive journalist. One of the things I didn’t get to blog about while my site was down was an article two law professors – one from Harvard and one from the University Arizona — wrote for The Atlantic about censorship. If you’re expecting to hear that they wrote a rousing defense of free speech, you’d be wrong. Instead, the professors advocated for abandoning constitutional free speech in favor of Chinese-style censorship, complete with tech giants giving the government the help it needs.

Taibbi does not agree, either with the professors or with other so-called “liberals” advocating for wiping out both the First and Fourth Amendments. While Taibbi doesn’t go back as far as Tom Friedman and his love affair with Chinese-style control, he does round up a few recent examples of how the Wuhan virus has been an opening for “liberals” to let out their inner fascist.

(By the way, I never use the word “liberal” to describe Democrats, progressives, or leftists. It is an obscene misnomer, and I won’t countenance it.)

Taibbi using that leftist drive for censorship as an opening to discuss covers the leftist love for “expertise,” its relentlessly scolding tone (think: Karen), and the severe limitations that hamper even good journalists. It’s a tour de force and deserves a read. Indeed, anyone, especially a progressive, who writes this deserves to be acknowledged, and that’s true even if Taibbi’s leftism still blinds him so that he meekly accepts as accurate the canard that Trump told people to inject over-the-counter disinfectants:

We have a lot of dumb people in this country. But the difference between the stupidities cherished by the Idiocracy set ingesting fish cleaner, and the ones pushed in places like the Atlantic, is that the jackasses among the “expert” class compound their wrongness by being so sure of themselves that they force others to go along. In other words, to combat “ignorance,” the scolders create a new and more virulent species of it: exclusive ignorance, forced ignorance, ignorance with staying power.

The people who want to add a censorship regime to a health crisis are more dangerous and more stupid by leaps and bounds than a president who tells people to inject disinfectant. It’s astonishing that they don’t see this.

Bastiat and the problem with the leftists’ apocalyptic world view. Years ago, I read, and fell in love with, Frédéric Bastiat’s famous economic essay, “What is seen and what is unseen.” In it, he examines the fallacy of those who say that even a broken window is a good thing, for it brings work to the glazier. Bastiat, however, points out that fixing something broken is a dead end. The window’s owner might have spent the same money on something more useful and necessary for him. This lost buying power is the “unseen” part for those who can see only a broken window and a glazier. Or, as Bastiat wrote, “Stop there! Your theory is confined to that which is seen; it takes no account of that which is not seen.”

Leftists have this limited “unseen” thinking about gun violence (they see only those 30,000 who die, not the hundreds of thousands or even millions whose lives guns save). They also have it with abortion, where the focus is on women (who can be seen), rather than on the millions of babies who never got the chance to grow up to be women (or men).

For an example of a “seen” woman’s suffering, think of Michelle Obama, who was very explicit about what a terrible choice it was for her to have children:

“My relationship with Barack was all about our equal partnership,” Obama recalled. “If I was going to have a unique voice with this very opinionated man, I had to get myself up and set myself off to a place where I was going to be his equal.”

[snip]

“The thing that really changed it was the birth of our children. I wasn’t really ready for that. That really made it harder,” the first lady explained. “Something had to give and it was my aspirations and dreams.”

“I made that concession not because he said ‘you have to quit your job,’ but it felt like ‘I can’t do all of this so I have to tone down my aspirations, I have to dial it back,’” she added.

I didn’t particularly want children, but I knew it was a necessary thing to do to further my development as a mature human being. I realized that I’d miss the selfish life (and I did miss it), but that life also frightened me because I saw that it was preventing me from fully growing up. Now that my children are themselves grown, the pay-off for having had them is huge because they are delights to have around. For me, despite the lost sleep, boredom, and frustration, it was a win-win.

But back to Bastiat, progressives, and the Wuhan virus. Actually, I won’t spell out the argument in this post because you can read it here.

San Franciscans are paying the price for subsidizing vice. For a very long time, San Francisco has been subsidizing vice. First, it decriminalized crime. Drug taking, public drunkenness, public excretory functions, stealing (as long as the thief took goods worth less than $950) . . . they’re all allowed in San Francisco. For people who like engaging in those crimes, especially stealing, San Francisco is the place to be.

San Francisco has also been subsidizing substance abuse for quite a long time. Under the banner of decency, it’s made clean needles available to IV drug users and provided them with food, shelter, and other benefits. San Francisco’s progressives say that this is right and proper because drug users are victims too.

It’s true that many homeless people are mentally ill. Of course, it’s a chicken and egg question whether they had pre-existing issues and self-medicated, making themselves worse, or whether the substance abuse itself created the mental health issues. It’s also true that tossing junkies and mentally ill people in jail is not a solution.

These are real problems and require thoughtful approaches. However, you’d also think that someone in San Francisco might have realized that it’s a bad idea to create what is effectively a Utopian environment for disruptive, dangerous, dirty, disease-ridden druggies and other people with anti-social behavior.

Tax-paying, working San Francisco residents have been complaining about the homeless problem for a while now. Still, it’s hard to take their complaints seriously when they elect Chesa Boudin as the town’s DA, the man who promised to decriminalize everything. They also elected London Breed, another hard leftist, to be their mayor.

This is what happens when genuine lifestyle issues (such as being able to walk the streets safely or run a business) crash into virtue signaling. Virtue signaling always wins.

Anyway, the Wuhan virus (or, if you like, the New York virus) has put the whole San Francisco problem on steroids. Daniel Greenfield has a hard-hitting look at what’s happening on the streets of San Francisco:

“People are coming from all over the place, Sacramento, Lake County, Bakersfield,” Jeanine Nicholson, the first lesbian head of the San Francisco Fire Department, grumbled. “People are getting released from jail in other counties and being told to go to San Francisco, where you will get a tent and then you will get housing.”

The people coming to the City by the Bay weren’t wearing flowers in their hair, they were homeless junkies who had heard that they were going to get free hotel rooms, along with pot and booze.

And it was all true. Every word of it.

San Francisco was spending $200 a night to house the homeless, or as the current politically correct euphemism insisted that they be called, the ‘unhoused’, in hotel rooms at a cost of over $100 million.

You have to read his article to believe it and, even after reading it, you might not believe it.

San Francisco always had a wacky edge, but it was an aesthetically beautiful and still functional city. Those days are over. Large parts of San Francisco are sewers with homeless people camped on the streets and affluent citizens hiding in their homes. My old neighborhood, once a working- and middle-class bastion, is the brothel center of San Francisco. The City that Herb Caen always boasted “knew how” is dying.

Go to college; get therapy. Three years ago, I wrote a post about Macalester College, a small and expensive liberal arts college in St. Paul, Minnesota, and its proud boast about having multiple therapy dogs. I was revolted.

If you look at the photo for that post, which is simply the cover of Macalester’s magazine for parents, you’ll see that it shows girls crowding around the therapy dog. That was a familiar sight for me. When I was on a small liberal arts college campus several years ago, one that had a therapy dog, I noticed incoming freshman crowding around the dog, not in a “What a cute dog” way, but in an “I desperately need help way.” I also noticed how highly feminized the boys were, whether they were gay or straight.

Heather MacDonald, who’s a smarter, more knowledgeable, and a better writer than I am, has just written a lengthy article about the therapeutic culture at Yale and other American colleges, something that fuses feminism with mental illness. She describes how students are never told to buck up and embrace their experience. Instead, they are encouraged to revert to toddler-esque panic and equally immature means of relieving that panic. This instruction in helplessness is paired with the bizarre feminization of the therapeutic college culture:

For the last 40 years, men have been an underrepresented minority in higher education, reports American Enterprise Institute scholar Mark Perry. Since 1982, females earned nearly 14 million more college degrees than men. Colleges began a “desperate” search for women faculty in the 1970s that eroded the “intellectual rigor of elite higher education in the U.S.,” says Camille Paglia, the feminist professor and author. “Due to that sudden influx, academe’s entire internal culture changed,” she says. As the female presence has grown, so have claims of a crisis of collegiate mental health.

Nationally, about two-thirds of the students who sought treatment for mental-health disorders in the 2018–19 academic year were female, according to the Center for Collegiate Mental Health. At Yale, therapy use is heavily female and LGBTQ, according to students. “There are few straight men using therapy,” one self-identified “queer” girl in the GLC said. “It’s stigmatized for straight CIS men. Almost all my friends who go to therapy identify as gay or trans.”

I sent my college-attending children links to MacDonald’s article. I think they’ll recognize their classmates, especially their unstable, highly neurotic, angry, and dangerous female classmates, in the article.

You have to read this. Dov Fischer, a lawyer and rabbi, has written an extraordinary article entitled A Time to Hate. He explains how he, like other conservatives during the Obama years, hated Obama’s policies and corruption, while still accepting that Obama was the duly elected president. That is, conservatives understood that Republicans ran lousy candidates and paid the price. It was up to conservatives to step up their game at election time if they wanted something different than the Obama presidency.

Now, however, after three years of unmitigated hysteria, corruption, lies, coups, and other attacks on the core of the Trump presidency (that is, three years of attacks on our constitutional notion of the executive office) Fischer has changed his mind. He has learned to hate.

As I said, the article is extraordinary, and I highly encourage your looking it over.

That’s enough for one day. By the way, as you can see, I’ve changed my “woman writing” picture for a new one that better suits my blog’s format. When you see that image at the head of a post, you’ll know that the post is one that jumbles together a whole lot of things that interest me.