A lively Bookworm Beat covering gun control and suicides, Marianne Williamson (the Proggie Id), Justice Kavanaugh, free speech on campus and much more.
(If you prefer listening over reading, the companion podcast to this post is embedded below, or you can listen to it at Libsyn or at Apple podcasts. I’m trying to make a go of my podcasting so, if you like the podcasts, please share them with your friends and on social media. Giving my podcast good ratings helps too.)
Longtime readers know that I periodically do “everything and the kitchen sink” posts that I call “The Bookworm Beat.” This is the audio version of my latest Bookworm Beat.
Before I begin, though, I want to talk about my development as a podcaster – or, at least, the hope that I am developing as a podcaster. People who know me in real life know that I’m an incredibly fluent conversationalist. I don’t say this as a boast. It’s just a fact. And of course, fluent doesn’t mean interesting. It only means that, when I’m comfortable, I go – I have facts at my fingertips, I make witty remarks (or, at least, I think they’re witty), and I’m able to put together an interesting factual narrative or a compelling argument on the fly.
The thing is, though, although I’m not the least bit shy, I’ve always had stage fright. That’s what stopped my litigation career in its tracks. I froze in court and, after four years, it wasn’t getting better. Part of why I never got better was that I never much liked being a litigator. Considering how boring I found it, I really had no incentive to force myself to get comfortable in the courtroom.
When it comes to podcasting, I also have stage fright, or I guess I should call it microphone fright. My mouth gets dry, my hands tremble, and my voice gets shrill and shaky. However, because I am rapidly becoming as compulsive about podcasting as I am about blogging, I’m sticking with it.
My growth as a podcaster reminded me of a scene from Singing In The Rain. For those of you unfamiliar with this best of all possible movies, it’s a musical comedy revolving around Hollywood’s transition from silent to sound. In other words, a lot of people had to overcome microphone fear.
In the scene I want to share, Gene Kelly (as Don Lockwood) and Jean Hagen (as Lina Lamont) are filming their very first talkie scene, a very romantic scene. The producer has hidden the bulky microphone in a bush next to the actors. Lina not only has a terrible voice, she’s also a dim bulb and cannot remember where the microphone is, so 70% of her dialogue vanishes. Here’s what happens when the producer remonstrates with her.
I don’t have to learn to make love to a bush but I am working on learning to view the microphone as friend, not foe. I just hope I have a faster learning curve than Lina Lamont did.
The Second Amendment and suicide. In a recent Facebook post, a Progressive friend noted that gun deaths are catching up to automobile deaths. She’s honest, however, so she also noted that most gun deaths – 60% — are suicides. What this means is that, of the approximately 40,000 gun deaths in the last year counted, roughly 24,000 of those deaths were suicides.
Before I go any further, I’d better say up front that I have nothing but compassion for those who contemplate suicide, those who commit suicide, and those who are left behind after a suicide. I cannot imagine the despair that leads a person to give up on life and I cannot imagine the pain of those left behind trying to put together the pieces after someone they love ends it all.
Although no one close to me has committed suicide, several acquaintances have, and I’ve seen the devastation left in their wake. Please understand, then, that what I’m about to say is in no way intended to insult or belittle the horrible pain that drives suicide, a pain that transfers itself to the survivors long after the suicide has taken place.
Having said that, it seems to me that those raising suicide as a justification for gun control are saying that a person’s desire to use the most efficient option to kill himself overrides my Constitutional right to self-defense. I can’t accept that. My sympathy for that person’s overwhelming psychic pain does not override my equally overwhelming need to be able to defend myself and my family should the need arise.
Nor does it change my mind if someone says that guns are used for impulse suicides and, absent a gun, people might not kill themselves. Likewise, guns are used for efficient suicide and, absent a gun, people who use less efficient methods might survive and get the mental health treatment they need to embrace life.
I accept both of those facts as true, but I still don’t believe that the fact that around 24,000 people a year will kill themselves (with each of those 24,000 being a tragedy I wish wouldn’t occur) justifies depriving all 330,000,000 Americans of their right to bear arms to defend themselves against bad guys and bad government. After all, 24,000 is still only .007 percent of the total American population.
Am I being callous? Where do you stand on this?
Marianne Williamson is the Progressive truthteller. As I’ve written before and podcast before, behind all the airy-fairy nonsense, Williamson is a stone-cold Progressive who wants to enact every Progressive agenda item straight down the line. It would be a disaster were she to become president. (Not that there’s a snowball’s chance in Hell, but still….)
Nevertheless, Williamson’s virtue is that she’s completely unfiltered. I’d call her the Democrat party’s id. That’s how we got the wonderful sound byte of Williamson expressing complete bewilderment that Republicans are less vicious than Democrats (not that she’ll change her politics or her party affiliation over that insight).
.@marwilliamson: “What does it say that the conservatives are nicer to me? I’m a serious lefty but they are so — I understand why people on the right called them godless — I mean, it’s like, I didn’t think the left was as mean as the right, they are.” pic.twitter.com/0iXkWPRdAW
Showing her fear of those mean Lefties, Williamson then immediately walked back what were remarkably clear, unambiguous words.
The above was amusing and illuminating, but where Williamson really drilled deep into the Progressive psyche was when, in response to a question from a college student at the MSNBC climate change town hall, she urged Americans to “just say no” to nuclear power, never mind that Generation IV nuclear power, when it gets off the ground, is apparently extremely safe. Moreover, if Proggies really fear climate change but still want their smart phones, nuclear power is the only way to go. It’s not that Williamson is opposed to nuclear power that’s so striking; it’s the reason for her opposition:
Isn’t that Leftism brought down to its purest essence? Ignore the facts; go with feelz. That’s what they do with everything.
You only need to remember Liz Warren and her “people will die” hysteria over the proposed GOP healthcare bill back in 2017 or the way in which the Proggies assure us that every one of their initiatives is “for the children.” Even abortion is “for the children” – those who survive – because they’ll be so much better off not having to fight for space with the others, the ones who didn’t make it. I hope Williamson stays on the political scene for a while because we need her naïve honesty.
One more fishy thing about the latest attack on Kavanaugh. Up until now, I haven’t commented on the Left’s latest attack on Justice Kavanaugh because I’ve had nothing to add. Those better acquainted with the facts than I have shown that the allegations are garbage. They constitute hearsay on hearsay on hearsay, not to mention the fact that the people most closely involved with both Christine Blowsy-Fraud’s claims and the latest claim out of Yale have disavowed the allegations. If Kavanaugh were a private citizen rather than a public figure, he’d be in the catbird seat for the greatest defamation lawsuit every filed.
There’s one point, though, that I haven’t heard anyone else make and it involves the latest accusation against Kavanaugh, the one about a party at Yale. The two vicious gossips, Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly, contend that they heard from someone who heard from a guy named Max Stier that he heard from someone else that Kavanaugh, while drunk at a party, got manhandled by his frat brothers, who alleged grabbed Kavanaugh’s penis and tried to thrust it into a girl’s hand. (This sounds as if it’s Kavanaugh who’s a victim, doesn’t it?) The girl to whom this allegedly happened denies any memory of the event, which ought to put the whole thing to rest, separate from all the hearsay garbage.
What the harpies forgot to mention is that Stier was one of Bill Clinton’s lawyers back in the 1990s while Kavanaugh was one of Ken Starr’s assistants. That is, a mere ten years after college, Stier and Kavanaugh were already opposing each other. Moreover, their oppositional relationship revolved around Kavanaugh’s side accusing Clinton of inappropriate sexual conduct and Stier’s side defending Clinton. Wouldn’t that clash have been the appropriate time to discuss Kavanaugh’s allegedly inappropriate behavior a mere decade before? After all, as I said, it was a lot fresher in people’s memories then. It would also have been a devastating blow to the anti-Trump forces to learn that one of the people arrayed against him had his own improprieties. And yet . . . nothing.
Just something to think about, that’s all.
Boston University squelches conservative speech. A year and a half ago, I wrote about a speech that a Berkeley conservative student gave. Naweed Tahmas was at Berkeley when both Milo Yiannopolous and Ben Shapiro tried to give talks and, instead, Antifa rioted, beat people with clubs, and even tried to set fire to buildings with conservatives in them.
Tahmas made clear that the Progressive thugs weren’t the only problem or even the worst problem. The real problem was the Berkeley administration, which played games with the conservative groups that were intended to make it impossible for any conservative speakers to come to campus:
When the college Republicans invite speakers to campus, the university imposes huge fees for hosting, something not demanded for any other campus speakers; insists that the talks must be given before 3 p.m., meaning that students cannot attend because of classes; refuses on-campus venues, requiring instead that speakers appear at sites far off campus; and limits the audience to students, with no alumni or members of the public allowed. All of these, of course, are impermissible preconditions on speech, entirely out of sync with the precedent from the Free Speech Movement.
As an aside, the hosting fees are ostensibly intended for security. The riots for the Yiannopoulos and Shapiro talks show that this is a lie. Indeed, Tahmas said that, when the slavering mob surrounded the Student Union building and set a fire to smoke everyone out, the police refused to provide an escort for the College Republicans. Tahmas escaped uninjured only because he ran faster than the mob chasing him.
In addition, the administration has taken to using intimidation to try to silence conservative speakers on American campuses. When the College Republicans invited Ann Coulter, Tahmas was called into a discussion with the administrators. He was told that he would be meeting with just one or two people, so he should come alone. When he entered the room, he found himself facing 15 members of the college administration. (It’s a fair fight, when you think about it: one intelligent young Republican versus 15 campus Leftists.) Throughout the meeting, they demeaned him, insulted the speakers, and were so obstructive that the College Republicans eventually had to cancel Coulter’s appearance.
To add insult to injury, just the other day, the Student Union announced that, for the first time in the history of the Berkeley College Republicans (a branch of a national group going back to the 1890s), it was refusing to give it any funds — never mind that the group’s members have a percentage of their tuition fees routed to the Student Union for the express purpose of funding student groups.
Keep that in mind as I tell you what happened at Boston University, a private school, just the other day. The Daily Wire reports what the university did when conservative students invited Ben Shapiro to speak:
Citing security concerns, Boston University has cut by half the potential audience for a scheduled Ben Shapiro campus speaking event and is demanding an exorbitant security fee from the conservative group hosting the event.
Boston University Young Americans for Freedom (BU YAF) told The Daily Wire Wednesday that they were informed in an email this week from Boston University’s Assistant Dean of Students, John Battaglino, that they must move the planned speaking event with the Daily Wire editor-in-chief to a location that can accommodate only about half the audience the previous location could hold. The university is also requiring the student organization to pay more than $12,000 in security fees administrators insist are necessary to make sure the community is safe during the event.
Among the stipulations presented in the list is the requirement that the event be relocated from a 1,500-person venue to one that only seats 700, the limitation of potential participants to members of the BU community who reserve tickets — rather than the event being free and open to the public, as originally proposed — and security fees totaling $12,720 the university expects YAF to cover.
The conservative student organization notes that in the university’s explanation for the exorbitant security charges, administrators cite the need to “provide security for protestors,” but notably do not cite the need to protect YAF or Shapiro.
This story allows me to harp on one of the bees in my bonnet, which is the need to get all taxpayer money out of America’s institutions of higher “education.” I wrote a whole post about this back in February, which you can find here (completely with citations to authority), but I’ll sum up just the high points here. Briefly, some of the worst ideas in America were incubated in academia:
anthropogenic climate change,
allegedly violent Islamophobia,
aggressive atheism (usually anti-Christian)
That would be bad enough, but what’s utterly appalling is that these ideas don’t stay in academia. Instead, like toxic little dandelion seeds, they are dispersed throughout American society, always landing in places in which they can force cultural change. The highest concentration of college graduates is probably in Silicon Valley, and that’s given us a hard Left hi tech culture that’s using its overwhelming power to silence conservatives, force Progressive political outcomes, and change our American culture from the ground up.
Corporate America is changing too. That virtue signaling isn’t driven by market forces. It’s driven by the fact that all corporations now demand college degrees in order to hold even the lowest management position. These college grads are the ones who think it’s a great idea for 145 American corporations to demand gun control, for Nike to give star status to knee groveler Colin Kaepernick, for Gillette to malign men in order to sell razors, for Target to urge men into women’s restrooms, for Dicks and Walmart to stop selling legal guns and ammunition, and for all the other P.C. garbage that now infuses our marketplace.
Then there’s education. Between my two kids, I experienced 15 years of public school in a good school district. Those 15 years gave me illiterate English teachers who nevertheless felt called upon to hand out gun control literature; science teachers who babbled endlessly about end-of-the-world anthropogenic climate change; and administrators who routinely introduced the kids to every kind of victim ideology designed to make young people hostile to each other and paranoid about their own status.
And do I really need to say anything at all about the media and Hollywood? Everyone given a voice in media is a college grad, with the worst culprits coming from hard Left journalism departments. Meanwhile, in Hollywood, you have a slightly different phenomenon, which is a bunch of actors who never made it to college and have an inferiority complex about that fact, trying to give themselves academic chops by aping academic Leftism. It’s pathetic, but it’s also a powerful cultural force.
And you know who’s funding all this craziness? You are! We are pouring free money into these decadent institutions that indoctrinate, rather than teach. According to a 2018 FEE article, $183 billion in federal taxpayer money poured into these institutions of Leftist indoctrination – and believe it or not, that doesn’t even include student loans.
The ridiculous thing is that all this money, which costs you and me a very pretty penny, but which is essentially free to the colleges and universities, doesn’t make these places more affordable. It makes them less affordable, because free money always drives up costs. Institutions keep padding their budgets with more administrators, more Leftist departments, more boondoggles, and more fancy dorms and gourmet dining halls, rather than expanding their faculty and lowering tuition costs.
Let me say what I say at least once a week on Twitter, not that anyone listens to me there: If we want to return America to stability, sanity and, most importantly, her Constitutional roots, the fastest and best way to do that is to withdraw every single penny of federal taxpayer money from America’s colleges and universities, and let them sink or swim in the free market. I might make an exception for university research into national security projects, but I’m not even sure I’d do that. The best thing is just to turn off the spigot.
The Supernatural TV show and hints of anti-P.C. snark. We know that there are conservatives in California, for Trump collected $15 million in one day while in that arch-progressive state. There are even conservatives in Hollywood.
Some, like James Woods, Dean Cain, and Tim Allen, are outspoken; others stay low to protect their careers. As someone who still blogs and podcasts under a nom de cyber, I’m not going to speak ill of those who have concluded that paying the bills beats telling people what you really think.
Still, even those under cover sometimes can’t help leaking out what they really believe. Take the case of the often-funny fantasy horror show Supernatural, which follows two brothers, Sam and Dean, who hunt ghasties and ghoulies and things that go bump in the night. I’m pretty sure that, at least back in 2014, there was someone with conservative leanings on the writing staff.
In the episode entitled Hibbing 911, the two brothers are looking through the lore to find a way to rid one of the brothers of the mark of Cain. (Long story.) The setting for what you’re about to hear has Sam asking Dean how the research is going. Dean has this to say:
Keep in mind that this was 5 years before the cultural convulsions we’re now seeing about transgenderism.
In the same season, in the episode entitled The Hunter Games, the King of Hell is fighting (again) with his mother, the witch Rowena, who abandoned him hundreds of years before. You’ll get a kick out of how she explains away her decision to dump him:
Kudos to whomever wrote those bits of dialogue. They’re funny and snarky, and show that the writers are willing to take pot shots wherever they feel – you know, the way the world used to be before SJW, hysterical, feelz cancel culture came along.
How I spend my time when I’m not blogging. I actually do a lot of things when I’m not blogging, but I’m particularly pleased with my latest knitting efforts. If you go to my blog, you can see a picture of the first batch of hats I’m sending to my daughter and her friends at college.
Thinking about Jack Phillips’ martyrdom at the hands of the QueerBorg leads me to a proposal for ending Leftist social media and search engine monopolies.
Jack Phillips, the Colorado baker, is rapidly being forced into martyrdom thanks to rabid Leftists intent upon making him an example of the need to bow down before the LGBTQIYKWIMAITYD+ monolith that has, in merely eleven years, come to dominate America’s politics. Indeed, for those of you familiar with Star Trek : The Next Generation, the LGBTQWYSIWUG+ monolith is the Borg: It’s a collectivist hive that has as its motto “We are the QueerBorg. Lower your shields and surrender your rights. Your culture will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile.”
To me, it’s patently clear that Phillips, one of many bakers in his community, has a First Amendment right to exercise his religion freely and to choose those with whom he wants to associate. Anyone is welcome to come into his store and buy his products without discrimination. The Colorado government, though, is trying to coerce him into hanging with people whose values are antithetical to his (and that’s true even if we’re not talking about religious values) and to force him to use his artistic talents in the service of those same people.
The QueerBorg, to advance its demand that all surrender before it, is trying to frame its battle as a civil rights battle and to liken Phillips’ refusal to bake a cake to the closed doors a black man would face in the Jim Crow South when he tried to rent a room for the night or dine in a restaurant. The way in which Congress broke that monopoly of closed doors was through the notion of “public accommodation,” something it enshrined in Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The relevant language states as follows:
(a) Equal access All persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, as defined in this section, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin.
(b) Establishments affecting interstate commerce or supported in their activities by State action as places of public accommodation; lodgings; facilities principally engaged in selling food for consumption on the premises; gasoline stations; places of exhibition or entertainment; other covered establishments Each of the following establishments which serves the public is a place of public accommodation within the meaning of this subchapter if its operations affect commerce, or if discrimination or segregation by it is supported by State action:
(1) any inn, hotel, motel, or other establishment which provides lodging to transient guests, other than an establishment located within a building which contains not more than five rooms for rent or hire and which is actually occupied by the proprietor of such establishment as his residence;
(2) any restaurant, cafeteria, lunchroom, lunch counter, soda fountain, or other facility principally engaged in selling food for consumption on the premises, including, but not limited to, any such facility located on the premises of any retail establishment; or any gasoline station;
(3) any motion picture house, theater, concert hall, sports arena, stadium or other place of exhibition or entertainment; and
(4) any establishment (A)(i) which is physically located within the premises of any establishment otherwise covered by this subsection, or (ii) within the premises of which is physically located any such covered establishment, and (B) which holds itself out as serving patrons of such covered establishment. (42 U.S.C. § 2000a.)
The most obvious distinction between the LGBYOB+ and African-American situations, of course, is that the statute is directed at “race, color, religion, or national origin.” That’s why there’s such a big push on the Left to enact The Equality Act, which would raise sexual orientation and claims about gender to the same legal level of protection afforded race, color, religion, or national origin. The Equality Act, though, is another post entirely, and not a subject I wish to explore here. Instead, I’m interested in the monopoly of closed doors.
Keep in mind that, as I noted in passing above, the Civil Rights Act did not arise in a vacuum. It was a direct response to a very specific problem: The fact that Jim Crow laws in the South, backed by the personal preferences of bigoted people all over America, meant that places ostensibly held open for walk-in customers could arbitrarily refuse customers based upon the customers’ race (or color, or religion, or national origin). Under this all-encompassing regime, blacks theoretically could travel throughout the South without ever being able to obtain either food or lodging. (As the recent movie Green Book shows, blacks responded to this monopolistic denial of service by identifying hotels, restaurants, and other “open to the public” establishments that would serve them, but it was an imperfect solution and one that was both deeply offensive to human dignity and antithetical to the promise of our Declaration of Independence.)
In other words, that portion of the Civil Rights Act relating to Public Accommodations was intended to break a monopoly that was driven by culture and backed by legislation. The legislation, of course, was the real kicker. As Milton Friedman famously noted, had Jim Crow not been legislated, it likely would have died away as hoteliers, restaurateurs, and the owners of entertainment establishments ended up competing for the only color that mattered: the lovely green of dollar bills. However, legislation, backed by societal prejudice, created an insupportable hurdle to free market sources, and created a monolithic wall that blacks could not breach.
Jack Phillips clearly does not fall into the category of a monolithic monopoly on all institutions open to the public. First, no one can deny that he held his doors open to all customers who walked into his store and sought to buy any of the products on display. He reserved only the right to withhold his services from specific ceremonies (not customers, but ceremonies) that offended his religious sensibilities. Second, Phillips was/is anything but a monopoly. The LGBTQLMAO+ community in Colorado has a lot of choices when it comes to custom baked goods prepared for QueerBorg ceremonies.
While Jack Phillips’ little bakery is manifestly not comparable to the type of public accommodation contemplated under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, once I started thinking about public accommodations, the principles driving the legislation fit today’s social media giants. Within a very short time, these giants have come to monopolize the way in which Americans communicate with each other. They have become the tech equivalent of the old time public square. If you want to get a message out today. You don’t stand in the forum in ancient Rome. You don’t go to the Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park. You don’t stand on a platform on the Boston Commons. You don’t pin a notice to the board outside the General Store.
Instead, in the modern marketplace of ideas, unless you’re a media outlet yourself with control over the means of information dissemination, you place your message on Facebook, on Twitter, and even on Pinterest. In 2019, it should not be open to question that these outlets have a virtual monopoly on the dissemination of information and ideas.
And if people want to find you or your message, they don’t look in the Yellow Pages. They don’t go and gaze on the notice board at the general store. They don’t step over the sleeping homeless people in and around the public library to check dusty volumes and arcane publications. Instead, they conduct their search on Google or Bing or Yahoo. These outlets have a virtual monopoly on locating information and ideas.
That there are several different entities in the world of social media and search engines — Facebook, Twitter, Bing, Google, etc. — does not change their monopolistic nature, because they all pull in the same harness. They are guided by and employ people who have identical cultural and political values, among which is the belief that all ideas that do not harmonize with theirs must be stifled. They are ideological bigots, every bit as hate-filled and narrow-minded as the old-time Jim Crow Southerners who closed their businesses to people because of their skin color.
Think of it this way: Today’s censorious tech giants, rather than being in the business of selling food or lodging, are in the business of selling and re-selling ideas. If they close their doors to classes of people, their monopolistic status means that the targeted class is out in the ideological cold.
The Constitution did not talk about sodas and beds, or movies and bars, although its underlying promises and premises were enough to make legitimate legislation ensuring that all Americans had equal access to sodas and beds, movies and bars. Instead, it was obsessed with the world of ideas. After all, that’s what the First — the very first — Amendment is all about: Ideas. Let me remind you:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Perhaps the most basic premise of the United States is that the free exchange of ideas is essential to a free country. If the government can break up monopolies in oil, in transport, in lodging, and in dining, it’s inconceivable that it cannot break up a monopoly on the most important thing that matters: the free exchange of ideas and information.
Indeed, I would go further and argue that there is no need to create special legislation, as was necessary to break Jim Crow. Because the Constitution is about the spread of ideas, and because the tech giants are impairing the 21st century method of spreading ideas, their behavior is a prima facie violation of the Constitution that can be barred without any legislative acts.
No matter how imperfect Trump is, looking at his record of accomplishments, as to each one I say the Passover word “dayenu” — it would have been enough.
During the Passover dinner, one of the songs Jewish families sing is Dayenu. It is in the nature of a “count your blessings song,” with the song reciting each of God’s miracles during the Exodus and, after every verse reciting “dayenu,” which means “it would have been enough” or “it would have sufficed.” Growing up, I considered this song one of the best parts of the proceedings. I was in good company, for Jews have been singing Dayenu for around one thousand years.
The song consists of three groups of praise for God’s miracles. The first group recites the miracles that challenged Pharaoh, the second recites the miracles that were the Exodus itself, and the third recites the miracles of being with God and getting the Ten Commandants during the forty years in the wilderness. Chabad provides a nice version of the lyrics in both English and Hebrew:
If He had brought us out from Egypt, and had not carried out judgments against them Dayenu, it would have sufficed us!
So you can get a sense of the melody, here is the Maccabeats’ charming version of the song (although when we were kids we perked up rather than collapsing during the song):
The point of the song, obviously, is not to get greedy, but to be grateful for whatever gifts or miracles come your way. God doesn’t need cumulative miracles to prove His greatness and the debt Jews owe Him. Each little thing He did, standing alone, would have been enough.
So what’s this got to do with Trump? Well, let me first assure you that I am not likening Trump to God. He is no God. He is, instead, a very imperfect man, but one who nevertheless has taken a series of steps that, even if each stands alone, is a reminder why a Trump presidency is so much better than the Hillary alternative.
The genesis for this thought came about because I got an email from a very dear friend, one whom I respect more than you can imagine, who is baffled by my fondness for Trump. Before the Mueller report, he saw Trump as a crude buffoon. Since the Mueller report, he sees him as a dangerously corrupt individual. Worse, he sees Trump as way less successful than a good Republican president should be. As readers of this blog know, I’ve come to hold Trump in quite high esteem. Thinking about how to explain my esteem to my friend, I came up with the “dayenu” meter.
To begin with, remember that America’s choice in November 2016 was completely binary: Hillary or Trump. So we’re not measuring Trump against some perfect Republican candidate; we’re measuring Trump against Hillary, who was committed to continuing the Obama administration, although with the addition of the Clintons’ unique brand of financial corruption. It is in that context that I look at what Trump has done. (As an aside, I would argue, as Wolf Howling already has, that Trump is proving to be an extraordinary conservative president who, only halfway through his first term, can measure up even to Ronaldus Magnus.)
Also, regarding what Trump has not done, or not yet done, I never lose track of the fact that, for two-and-a-half years, Trump has been contending with the weight of an entirely false accusation that he entered into a conspiracy with Russia to keep Hillary from the White House. (Incidentally, that’s why Trump said he was “f**ked* when he realized the immensity of this whole Russia collusion hoax. He wasn’t saying, “Oh, my God, the jig is up! I’m going to jail.” He was saying, “Oh, my God, this will paralyze my effectiveness as a president.”)
So here’s my dayenu recital for Trump:
If Trump had merely presided over a booming economy, even if one accepts Leftist talking points that it wasn’t his policies that made the change — Dayenu.
If Trump had merely lowered taxes, even if one accepts Leftists talking points that lower taxes didn’t help the economic boom — Dayenu.
If Trump had merely massively cut regulations, even if one accepts Leftist talking points that lessening the government’s stranglehold over businesses didn’t help the economic boom — Dayenu.
If Trump had merely presided over minorities seeing the best economic years of their lives, even if one accepts Leftist talking points that Trump didn’t help the economic boom — Dayenu.
If Trump had merely appointed two conservative Supreme Court justices, even though the remaining Leftists Supreme Court justices show no sign of vacating their seats — Dayenu.
If Trump had merely put dozens of strict constructionists in federal appellate and district courts, even though enough Leftist judges remain to thwart many of his policies — Dayenu.
If Trump had merely taken seriously and worked hard to address American’s concerns about illegal aliens flooding our southern border security, even though the Democrats’ have successfully hamstrung Trump through Leftists activist judges — Dayenu. (Don’t get me started on Congress’s failure to act on the southern border when Republicans controlled both houses. Just don’t get me started.)
If Trump had merely shifted the long-standing, failed paradigm that saw the US sending no-strings (or almost no-strings) money to North Korea and, instead, offered Kim Jong-un a carrot and stick approach to abandoning North Korea’s nuclear program, even though Kim recently conducted a rocket test and talked to Putin — Dayenu. (I’m not worried about Kim allying with Putin, because he’s always been allied with communist regimes; I think his recent posturing, including that rocket test, is just that — posturing intended to keep his own worst enemies, the ones inside his regime, at bay.)
If Trump had merely defeated ISIS on the battlefield, even though radical Islamism remains a worldwide scourge — Dayenu. (You have to start defeating radical Islamists somewhere, especially because it’s the nature of Islam to respect a strong horse and want to gut and devour a weak one.)
If Trump had merely walked out of the illegal Kyoto Accord, which was set to deplete the American economy while propping up the hyper-polluting Chinese economy, even though his administration is still paying some lip service to the cult of climate change — Dayenu.
If Trump had merely supported a reinvigorated American oil, gas, and coal sector, which will bring employment to vast numbers of people and lower product prices for everyone, even though the climatistas are up in arms — Dayenu. (I have long believed that “renewables” cannot provide First World energy needs. Forcing America onto renewables will return us to a pre-industrial time which, while pastoral, was deadly and uncomfortable. The answer is to use our technology to make cleaner-burning fossil fuels and, if Scott Adams is correct, to turn to Generation IV nuclear reactors, which are completely safe and will burn up existing nuclear waste.)
If Trump had merely withdrawn from the illegal Iran Deal — which propped up the mullahs and funded world-wide terrorism — and instead reimposed economic sanctions on Iran, even though the mullahs are still rattling sabers and making trouble — Dayenu. (Nobody expected the mullahs to collapse the instant Trump undid that vile deal; it’s enough that he undid it and is starting to reapply pressure on a very shaky regime.)
If Trump had merely reinvigorated the American military by pouring more funds into it and by ending the habit of treating it as a social justice experiment, even though doing so hurts the feelings of transgender people — Dayenu. (The military exists to protect our nation, not to make people feel good about themselves.)
If Trump had merely put the screws to China’s predatory trade practices, which have been depleting the American economy for decades, in such a way that China appears to be backing down, even though people on the Left and the Right are now saying all tariffs are bad — Dayenu. (I believe in free trade, but free trade works only if there isn’t cheating. Moreover, while many claim that things will eventually right themselves if left alone, that’s a fine thing to say to one or two generations of Americans who are economically destroyed by China’s unfair trade practices, which include intellectual piracy, slave labor, and government underwriting in the marketplace. This “dayenu,” incidentally, also goes to the new trade deals Trump negotiated with other nations.)
If Trump had merely managed to de-fang most of Obamacare, which was a drag on the economy and which destroyed people’s relationships with their physicians while doing nothing to improve the delivery of medical care in America, even thought the vicious, unprincipled John McCain did everything he could to block Trump’s efforts — Dayenu.
If Trump had merely proved to be the staunchest friend Israel has ever had in the White House, or certainly the staunchest friend since Reagan, and implemented policies that are putting a stop to the Palestinians’ non-stop, bad faith demands, even as the whole Democrat Party is turning increasingly anti-Semitic — Dayenu.
If Trump had merely presided over a Department of Education that withdrew the “Dear Colleague” letter that turned already Leftist campus administrations into fanatically man-hating entities that destroyed young men without due process and on the merest threads of accusations, even though . . . I don’t know what “even though” clause could be used here — DAYENU!
If Trump had merely threatened to withdraw federal funds from institutions of (ostensibly) higher education that squash free speech, even though . . . heck! There is no “even though” here either. DAYENU!
If Trump had merely shown fearlessness in the face of stifling, Leftist political correctness, thereby freeing other Americans to speak honestly, even though . . . what’s the downside here? None. DAYENU!
I could go on all day with this. Trump is rude, crude, bumptious, impulsive, cold-blooded, combative, etc. I see that. I also see that he’s incredibly funny, that he has a wonderful knack for making Leftists reveal their true colors, and that his initiatives, even if imperfect or ultimately ineffective, nevertheless have shifted paradigms at home and abroad in ways that are important to and beneficial for America.
As far as I can tell, the worst thing that Trump has left completely unfixed and unaddressed — and something that is a dangerous time bomb that could destroy America — is the $21 trillion national debt, which skyrocketed under Obama and has continued to rise under Trump. This is unsustainable and we need to work hard and fast to bring government spending down even as we hope that the soaring economy will help increase tax revenues to pay off that debt.
Also, while I’m on the subject, I want to address the Mueller report’s statement that Trump refused to let Mueller interview him and the allegation that Trump played with the idea of dismissing Mueller and, while he eventually did not do so, asked White House counsel to lie about the fact that he even contemplated that dismissal.
First, the undoubted fact that Trump refused to allow Mueller to interview him: No sane attorney would have allowed Mueller anywhere near his client. We saw with General Flynn that the Mueller approach was to trip people up on small, inconsequential details, and then use those trip-ups to prosecute them for perjury in the hope of squeezing more out of them. It was Mueller’s version of the torture Torquemada used during the Spanish inquisition.T
Just think for a moment about the fact that the FBI agents who interviewed Flynn believed he was trying to tell the truth, but that he didn’t remember something they knew only because of their spying. Despite Flynn’s manifestly honest intentions, and the fact that he did not committed any of the crimes for which he was being investigated, Mueller destroyed Flynn professionally and financially, and finally brought Flynn to heel by threatening Flynn’s family.
Imagine what would have happened if Mueller, with all the information available to him through Obama-era spying, had gotten his talons into Trump. The only way to protect Trump was (a) to demand that Trump respond only to written interrogatories that could be carefully reviewed with an attorney and (b) to have Trump in those interrogatory responses denying remembering anything as to which he did not have absolutely perfect recall. To do otherwise would have thrown Trump into the maw of the new American Stasi.
I’m equally unimpressed with the allegation that, according to White House counsel Don McGahn, Trump wanted to fire Mueller, backed down on that desire, and then instructed his attorney to lie. It’s meant to show that Trump had evil in his heart, even though he didn’t fire Mueller, and then he tried to make his attorney complicit in that evil. Let’s unpack this, shall we?
First, we only have Don McGahn’s word for this. Trump was never asked about his side. The due process protections of examination and cross-examination are missing, making this pure hearsay from an attorney who had witnessed how Mueller destroyed the lives of those who didn’t cooperate with him. In that way, his testimony was probably as honest as any testimony coming from one of Torquemada’s victims.
Second, I can tell you as an attorney with decades under my belt that clients, when talking to their attorneys, often ask, “Can we do X?” or “Can we do Y?” with X and Y being either stupid or against the law. By the way, please remember that things can be against the law even if they’re not morally wrong. One of the scary things about today’s over-legislated and over-regulated world is that it’s impossible for us to know what the law is, making us sitting ducks for zealous or biased prosecutors. The fact that Trump didn’t know his suggestion couldn’t fly means nothing.
Once client asks such a question (“can we do X?”), the attorney’s role is to be extra cautious to protect the client. This may mean drawing lines that the attorney recommends the client not cross. When you have a bulldog client such as Trump, you, as the attorney, may have to take a strong stand to show that you’re not joking about the fact that something that seems logical and moral is still illegal: “No, you can’t do that, and if you insist on doing it, I’ll have to quit as your counsel.”
If that thread is indeed what McGahn had to make, Trump then did what 99% of clients do: He backed down and McGahn remained as his attorney. But Trump is in a unique class. Rather than this back-and-forth staying confidential, so that no one knows what ideas a client had before behaving perfectly legally, his attorney spilled the beans, making Trump look uniquely evil rather than completely ordinary.
One more thing about Trump’s query about firing Mueller, if he indeed did make that query: To the extent Trump knew he was being framed, it was quite reasonable for him to wonder if he could stop a baseless witch hunt intended to invalidate an American election.
Third, keep in mind that we’re dealing with exceptionally humorless people here. I sure you remember how, on the campaign trail, Trump said, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Sane people immediately recognized that Trump was making a humorous riff about the fact that Hillary’s blatant, grossly illegal security violations meant that the Russians had almost certainly been in possession of her emails for years.
Insane people — and that means the entire Left — insisted that Trump had the brazen effrontery to demand in public that Putin collude with him to hack Hillary’s already hacked emails. When you remember that Mueller’s attack dogs were all die-hard Democrat establishment members, you start to wonder, as I do, it’s entirely possible that Trump made an obvious joke to McGahn (“Hey, remember not to tell Mueller I wanted to fire his humorless little ass”).
So, yeah, I’m totally unimpressed by Mueller’s obstruction drama. And if you’d like more reasons to be unimpressed, I recommend watching this Mark Levin video on the subject:
Finally, if you’re interested in a stellar analysis of Trump — warts and all — as well as an explanation for why every American should find appalling the behavior of the bureaucratic caste arrayed against him, I highly recommend this Victor Davis Hanson interview, every minute of which is entertaining and informative (hat tip: Maggie’s Farm):
The speech demands that transgender activists and other Leftists make on us exceed the bounds of good manners and enter the realm of pure totalitarianism.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” — United States Constitution, First Amendment (which, through the 14th Amendment, applies to all governments in America, not just Congress).
“The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of Ingsoc, but to make all other modes of thought impossible. Its vocabulary was so constructed as to give exact and often very subtle expression to every meaning that a Party member could properly wish to express, while excluding all other meaning and also the possibility of arriving at them by indirect methods. This was done partly by the invention of new words, but chiefly by eliminating undesirable words and stripping such words as remained of unorthodox meanings, and so far as possible of all secondary meaning whatever.” — George Orwell, 1984.
“Monsieur l’abbé, I detest what you write, but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write.” — Voltaire, letter to M. le Riche, February 6, 1770 (summarized in 1906 by S.G. Tallentyre as “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”). [UPDATE: But see the Babylon Bee’s take on the modern version of Voltaire. It’s satire . . . or is it?]
At this blog, I have written at some length about the lack of science behind the whole transgender movement. My two main posts on the subject are here and here. You can find most of my other posts about the transgender movement here. My point, over and over, is that the claim that someone is “transgender” has no basis in science, but that we are nevertheless being forced to change our language and even our thinking to accommodate a minute percentage of Americans who have severe body dysmorphia.
Speaking in a PragerU video, Abigail Shrier spells out in clear terms the way in which Leftists, through transgender activism, are upending the First Amendment and trying to implement IngSoc in America (AmSoc?).
I would sum up the video by saying that, without losing compassion for transgender people, who I believe suffer either from mental illness or imbalanced hormones (which should by treated by balancing those hormones), we must resist this totalitarian movement. Sympathy should not equal surrender.
Even before I was aware of the video, I added my mite to the debate only this morning when I put up the following tweet (which still lives there because my following is too small for Twitter to care about my challenges to the Leftists’ AmSoc):
It’s also worth pointing out that, until a few years ago, only Queen Victoria (the probably apocryphal “We are not amused”) and those whom people castigated as a-holes referred to themselves in the plural. Moreover, even Queen Victoria and the a-holes, while referring to themselves as “we,” did not insist that others refer to them as “they” or “them.”
In other words, that demand on us pluralizes the a-hole quality of those who insist on being referred to in the plural. The problem for them, of course, is that they can’t acknowledge that the English language has a very specific pronoun for a person or animal that is neither male nor female: “It.”
The news feels stale — I’ve blogged about it all before — but a new video makes a powerful statement about love and hate in Trump’s America.
I’ve been struggling a bit today trying to pick a topic for blogging. I could say that watching the Democrat candidates is like watching a clown car crash in slo-mo, but that’s kind of obvious.
I could say that I don’t think there’s anything wrong with Trump going after McCain because he’s dealing with current information: We only just learned the breadth and depth of McCain’s perfidious behavior in the 2016 election, and that deserves to be spoken of regardless of the fact that the man is dead. It was Shakespeare who said “The evil that men do lives after them,” and he was — as usual — correct. Just because McCain suffered during the Vietnam War, something I will always honor, that doesn’t make him a great or even a good man. He was a panderer to Democrats throughout his political career and, at the end, when he could have exited gracefully, instead he was a selfish, petty little man who was willing to undermine the American electoral process and then, when that failed him, to abandon the American people to the cruel mercies of Obama care. The fact that his chubby, not-so-bright little daughter has his dead back doesn’t make his behavior any better and she shouldn’t have the last word. As I said, I could say that, but it’s a paragraph, and a paragraph doesn’t make a post.
I could say that I’m absolutely kvelling about the fact that Donald Trump recognized that the Golan Heights belong to Israel. I remember staying in a kibbutz in the shadow of the Golan Heights and being incredibly grateful that the Heights were under Israeli, not Lebanese (i.e., Syrian, i.e., Iranian) control. But I’ve already blogged about how amazingly Zionist and philosemitic our president is, so this would just be gilding the lily. I’m also still plugging away with my #DearFellowJews / #Jexit / #Jexodus campaign, so I don’t have more to say about that. The good news is that, on my real-me Facebook, a bunch of Democrat Jews I know who once came up with every excuse in the world for Obama’s hostility to Israel are slowly starting to realize that the Democrats hate them, they really hate them. As one said yesterday about the Democrat party’s behavior (including, most recently, refusing to attend the annual AIPAC gathering), “we’re in deep doodoo.” But again, that’s a paragraph, not a post.
I could say that I’m delighted that Trump is starting to crack down on speech violations on college campuses across America. But I’ve blogged about that a zillion times. Also, Trump has just started the process by saying only “don’t do it.” Until he says, “don’t do it or you’ll never again see a single penny of federal money, including in the form of student loans,” it’s a toothless diktat and the hard-Leftists on America’s campuses will ignore it. I’ll kvell when the teeth come in.
So instead of all those things I could say, I’ll share with you a wonderful video that just came out. It’s wonderful because, within a very short space, it lets you know who the so-called Resistance is and who MAGA people are. Sure, there are exceptions, but this is pretty on-the-nose:
A new thing called cultural appropriation is suddenly in the news lately. Just yesterday, designer Marc Jacobs was in the news because the Social Justice Warriors were appalled that his runway models — mostly white — wore fake, multi-colored dreadlocks. (SJWs have a real problem with white people wearing dreads.) That they said, speaking in English, which is probably not a “heritage tongue” for many of them, was impermissible cultural appropriation. To his credit, Jacobs had a great bitchy comeback and refused to apologize. Jacobs is not the only cultural icon pushing back against the totalitarian impulse behind the SJW’s attacks on so-called “cultural appropriation.”
Lionel Shriver, a well-known American novelist, got invited to give the keynote speech at the Brisbane [Australia] Writer’s Festival. Her speech was entitled “Fiction and Identity Politics.” However, she had a surprise for an audience expecting her to tell them that the only person who can write about American Blacks is an American Black, the only person who can write about gay men is a gay man, etc. Instead, she launched a polite and comprehensive attack against the stifling effect on fiction when an author stands accused of cultural appropriation. For those of us who value free speech, and who fear the totalitarian instincts behind the social justice warrior’s attacks on free speech through the vehicle of identity politics, it was a call to arms:
I hate to disappoint you folks, but unless we stretch the topic to breaking point this address will not be about “community and belonging.” In fact, you have to hand it to this festival’s organisers: inviting a renowned iconoclast to speak about “community and belonging” is like expecting a great white shark to balance a beach ball on its nose.
The topic I had submitted instead was “fiction and identity politics,” which may sound on its face equally dreary.
But I’m afraid the bramble of thorny issues that cluster around “identity politics” has got all too interesting, particularly for people pursuing the occupation I share with many gathered in this hall: fiction writing. Taken to their logical conclusion, ideologies recently come into vogue challenge our right to write fiction at all. Meanwhile, the kind of fiction we are “allowed” to write is in danger of becoming so hedged, so circumscribed, so tippy-toe, that we’d indeed be better off not writing the anodyne drivel to begin with.
A good start to a speech, right? It got better from there. Shriver’s factual starting point was an incident at Bowdoin College, a small, prestigious liberal arts college way up in Maine (annual tuition around $45,000). Bowdoin’s grammatically creative “purpose” statement promises that it offers incoming students an “intellectual challenge and personal growth in the context of an active and engaged learning community closely linked to the social and natural worlds”:
A liberal education cultivates the mind and the imagination; encourages seeking after truth, meaning, and beauty; awakens an appreciation of past traditions and present challenges; fosters joy in learning and sharing that learning with others; supports taking the intellectual risks required to explore the unknown, test new ideas and enter into constructive debate; and builds the foundation for making principled judgments. It hones the capacity for critical and open intellectual inquiry – the interest in asking questions, challenging assumptions, seeking answers, and reaching conclusions supported by logic and evidence. A liberal education rests fundamentally on the free exchange of ideas – on conversation and questioning – that thrives in classrooms, lecture halls, laboratories, studios, dining halls, playing fields, and dormitory rooms.Ultimately, a liberal education promotes independent thinking, individual action,and social responsibility. (Emphasis mine.)
Think of this self-praise when you think of the incident Shriver talks about: Two well-respected Bowdoin students threw a tequila party for a friend and, in keeping with the theme, gave guests little miniature sombreros:
I like free speech. I like to use good ideas to challenge bad ideas. I think the whole point of political correctness is to erase our ability even to entertain thoughts about freedom, justice, and our inherent (not government-given, but inherent) rights as set forth in the Bill of Rights. I therefore have been untroubled by the Alt-Right movement, even though I know some nasty people have slipped in on the fringes.
I’m just grateful that, being a conservative, these racists and antisemites do live only on the fringes of a freedom-based political movement. If you’re on the Left, the racists and antisemites sit dead center.
From their perch at the top of the Democrat political heap, the Leftist racists demean blacks by saying that blacks are so stupid and helpless that they can function only with government support and guidance. From that same perch, they also offer unflinching support for genocidal Palestinians and for the BDS movement that aids the Palestinians in their genocidal goals. Indeed, this antisemitic rage has become a central pillar of the modern Democrat movement.
Meanwhile, even as Hillary was castigating a group that likes to tweak noses and yank chains, and most especially make a mockery of political correctness, she was receiving an endorsement from the Communist Party of the United States. A little historic reminder is useful here: The Communist Party of the United States actively seeks to bring about the same regimes that killed more than a 100 million people in the 20th century, and that are still going strong in various parts of the world.