Thursday, December 28, 2017

#NeverTrump Double-think

Columnist Michael Gerson recently wrote a column about President Trump's successful first year. Gerson is a double-#NeverTrump. He writes for the Washington Post which is as hostile to Trump as any newsroom in the country and he has close relations with the Bush family. But Gerson is also a conservative so he was in the difficult position of having to acknowledge Trump's successes while downplaying them and something any Republican president could have done. This involves a lot of double-think. He also throws in a lot of petty character assassination. The crux of Gerson's argument is that Trump did very little except take credit for the work of others.

Gerson starts with Trump's nomination and the confirmation of Justice Gorsuch which he points out came from a list provided to him by the Federalist Society. So? All presidents choose from lists of qualified jurists. It should be pointed out that the judges appointed by the Bushes have a mixed record as conservatives. Chief Justice Roberts in particular was a disappointment in his legal gymnastics to justify Obamacare.

He goes on to the defeat of ISIS and counts that as a continuation of President Obama's policies. While it's true that the ISIS policies under Obama and Trump involved the use of weapons and air strikes, the actual on-the-ground effort was very different. Obama policy might be described as "do what you have to as long as you don't make them mad." He was convinced that killing ISIS members would bring new fighters to the cause. Battles for cities involved pushing the ISIS fighters from block to block with minimum casualties. This allowed the ISIS fighters to retreat until the battle moved to a different area then they'd move make and the area would have to be cleared again. The rules of engagement meant that often permission to kill someone had to come from the White House. Trump changed all of that. He beefed up the effort and changed the rules of engagement to allow killing ISI casualties. The result was that an effort that Obama said would take years was over in months.

Gerson also complains about anti-Muslim bigotry but, to lots of conservatives, the effort to separate Islam from terrorism was misguided.

Gerson gives Trump and Congress credit for the overhaul of the tax system but then dismisses it by saying that any other Republican president would have accomplished the same thing and passed an overhaul of Obamacare as well. That's pretty speculative. The main reason that the Obamacare repeal/replace effort failed is that Trump's victory caught Congress by surprise. The Republicans talked about replacing Obamacare with something better for years but never got around to drafting one until well into 2017. What they came up with was too hard to sell. It's hard to see how a different president could have saved that mess.

Gerson complains about Trump's disparagement of the FBI, the CIA and other intelligence organizations. While Bush (41) led the CIA at one point, they had little love for Bush (43). The CIA seemed to be gagging a covert operation against Bush (43) during the 2004 election when they leaked a constant stream of information that was critical of Bush. The FBI appears to have gone to lengths to clear Hillary Clinton of charges related to her private email server and at the same time pursued the Trump/Russia connection based on shaky evidence.

And Gerson also points out that Trump hasn't cut regulations. He simply ordered government employees to cut them. Newsflash, Micheal. That's how presidents do everything. The important thing here is that Trump did order cuts to regulations. He's the first president since Reagan to try to slow the growth of government. Regulations under both Bushes grew enormously. And we won't talk about what happened under Clinton and Obama.

Gerson complains about the reaction of foreign states to Trump. Again, he needs to look back at Bush (43) who was very poorly regarded overseas. That's how Republicans are treated.

Gerson is setting up a perfect Republican as a straw man argument.If only some other Republican had been elected then he'd have accomplished everything Trump did but without all the anger.The truth is that Trump is acting as the most conservative president since Reagan. He is more conservative than most of the other candidates, particularly Jeb!. He is hated by the Left but so was Reagan and the Bushes. The term Bush-derangement-syndrome was invented to explain how much the left hated W. Most of the things the Left says about Trump were also said about Reagan.

Trump was the strongest candidate and he is turning out to be a reliable conservative. Gerson should swallow his pride and accept that.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Hillary's Worst excuse Ever

I refuse to give Hillary Clinton any of my money in order to read her bundle of lies... ahem... newest book so I'm seeing excerpts second-hand from others. Here's one on her emails.

Hillary begins with (sort of) taking responsibility:

Right off the bat, let me say again that, yes, the decision to use personal email instead of an official government account was mine and mine alone. I own that. I never meant to mislead anyone, never kept my email use a secret, and always took classified information seriously. (pf 291)

That's great but we already knew that. The big question is why did she do it? Was she trying to shield her emails from FOIA requests? Was she afraid of someone going through her emails like she had with her staffers after her 2008 loss? Was she thinking even further back to the Iran/Contra scandal of the Reagan White House which came to light because staffers didn't realize that the White House email system was backed up regularly and their attempts to delete incriminating emails were useless? No, here's what she says:

A lot of young people today are used to carrying around multiple devices and having both a personal phone and one provided by their work. But I'm not a digital native. . . I didn't send a single email while I was in the White House as First Lady or during most of my first term in the U.S. Senate. I've never used a computer at home or at work. It wasn't until about 2006 that I began sending and receiving emails on a BlackBerry phone (pg 292-293)

So she used a private server because she's too old and technically ignorant to use an official account? Seriously? The woman who claims to be the best-qualified candidate for president in history says that she couldn't grasp this modern technology? And that she spent most of her time in the Senate without ever using email?

This is a fall-back on her original excuse - that she wasn't savvy enough to use multiple devices. But that was disproven. There are photographs showing her with multiple devices. Further, she could have used her Blackberry with an official account.

For someone who never sent an email before 2006, she sure caught on fast. Remember that there were more than 60,000 emails on her server from her time as Secretary of State. More than 30,000 were personal business (or so she claims since her staff went to heroic efforts to be sure that no one recovered her emails about yoga and her daughter's wedding).

Hillary imagines students looking at their history books and wondering how someone as terrible as Donald Trump could have been elected? The answer is that people didn't trust Hillary because of her chronic inability to tell the truth.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

#MeToo and Opportunism

The #MeToo movement has been big the last few weeks and Democrats have jumped on board, even going so far as to distance themselves from Bill Clinton, John Conyers and Al Franken. Unfortunately, the Democrats change of heart on women has more to do with political opportunism than real conviction.

Before making my case I'm going to divide the #MeToo cases up. The first group is the "open secret" group. There is no question about their guilt. Everyone around them knew that they forced themselves on women. Jokes were made about it in public. Multiple suits had been settled. This describes Bill Clinton, Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer and John Conyers. They were unceremoniously fired as soon as their sordid activities became known as an effort at damage control. Because they had been turning a blind eye, their respective employers (and Congress) were complicit.

The second group is the "out of thin air" group. These are accusations that came as a surprise to people. The most important of these was Roy Moore and it came as a godsend to the Democrats. They hate Moore's overt religion and they saw a way to keep him out of the Senate and pick up a seat. Even better, if Moore won they could tie him and President Trump together and ride a wave of anger by women into a congressional majority. But this meant playing a long game which requires sacrificing pieces along the way.

The accusations against Al Franken are of the "out of the blue" variety. If he hadn't had his brother take a picture of him groping a sleeping woman (or playing at groping her) then the accusations would have been ignored completely. But the Democrats couldn't take the high moral ground with that picture in the news so Franken was pressured to resign. Eventually he gave in and promised that he would resign at some point in the future.

But then Moore lost his senate race. Half of the Moore/Trump connection is gone and Trump was elected after the accusations were made against him. Suddenly the long game doesn't seem so wise.

This is the decision point for the Democrats. If they really have had a change of heart about the treatment of women then they will stick to their guns. They will insist that Franken follow through on his resignation and distance themselves from Bill Clinton. On the other hand, if this was just political opportunism and faux outrage then they will forgive these two and downplay the other accusations against congressmen (mainly Democrats).

Things don't look good for the Democrats moral principles. Some Senators are asking Franken to reconsider his resignation and Bill Clinton is being welcomed back on the fund-raising trail.

Certainly some Democrats are legitimately concerned with women's rights. The question is how deep this runs? Is the Democratic leadership willing to sacrifice members for inappropriate behavior or will they go back to overlooking assaults against women in the pursuit of power?

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Note to Democrats: Not Everything is About Trump

Republican Roy Moore lost a senate race in deeply Republican Alabama. Is this a sure sign that the populous is rising up against President Trump? Hardly. Moore wasn't even Trump's first choice. He supported the acting senator in the primaries but Moore beat him with the help of former Trump advisor Steve Bannon.

Moore was always a flawed candidate. His views on religion and gay rights seem stuck in the 50s or 60s. Establishment Republicans such as George Will disowned Moore from the start and that was before the sexual allegations started.

Personally, I think that these were overstated. What they boil down to was that nearly 40 years ago when Moore was in his early 30s he was attracted to women in their mid-teens. This is creepy but legal. It was not pedophilia - that's having sex with someone 13 or under. The youngest of these accusers was 14 and claimed that he wanted sex but didn't actually have it.

The important thing is that all of these accusations were from before Moore was married. No one claims that he cheated on his wife or otherwise engaged in any questionable activities with women since he married. Not that it matters. We were told constantly about what a terrible person Moore is. The Republicans in general and President Trump in particular kept Moore at arm's length through much of the campaign.

This attack served its purpose. Many people who would have voted for Moore lost their enthusiasm. The exit polls show this. Democrats had a high turn-out and Republicans had a low turn-out.

Then there was the protest vote. Jones beat Moore by 49.9% to 48.4% but 1.7% were write-in votes. I think it's safe to assume that the majority of these were Republicans who made protest votes. If they had voted for Moore then he'd be senator.

So a controversial candidate with a major sex-scandal lost by a small percentage in a heavily Republican state. Whatever affect Trump had on the vote is drowned out. This is not much of a sign for the future.

The Republicans are now down one seat in the Senate (which they can possibly pick up again in 2020). That makes it a bit easier for the Democrats to take the Senate in 2018 but it's still a long-shot. To do it they will have to win several races in states that Trump carried plus two states that currently have Republican senators. Every Democratic incumbent won in a year that Obama was on top of the ballot and every Republican incumbent managed to keep his seat with Obama at the top. Trump will not be on the 2018 ballot although the Democrats will try to make the election a referendum on him and whatever the anti-Trump outrage of the day is. It's unlikely that multiple women will appear to denounce multiple Republicans or that this will still have the same shock value that it had in the Moore/Jones special election.

There's also a good chance that the economy will be booming. There are early signs of it including (anti-Trump) economists warning that booms are bad. Wave elections seldom happen in good times. People tend to vote their wallet.

To sum it up, don't look at this election as a barometer for 2018.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Why Americans Don't Trust the News

I have a simple piece of advice to the news media: you can be a trusted source of news or you can be part of the Resistance but you can't be both at once. Currently too many news organizations are siding with the Resistance and it's kill their credibility. Two recent examples involve the investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 election. First ABC News reported that General Flynn was going to testify that candidate Trump had directed him to meet with the Russian government. Except they got the timeline wrong and Trump was President-elect at the time and the meetings were perfectly legal. Then CNN reported that Donald Trump jr was given an advanced peek at a Wikileak dump (with the implication that Wikileak might be affiliated with Russia). But, like ABC, CNN got the timeline wrong. The email in question was dated September 14 instead of September 4. The Wikileak dump in question had been made on the 13th so this was just a heads-up about information that was already public.

Both of these mistakes happened because the respective newsrooms are full of people who are positive that Trump needed Russian help in order to win the election. They are in a bubble with no dissenters to question their findings or make sure that they double-checked their sources. Instead they are in a competition to see who will report Trump's fall first. This leads them to make critical errors and causes the public to question anything they say.

It must be pointed out that the actual effect of Russian influence on the election is highly questionable. They bought more ads outside of the election cycle than during it and they supported numerous causes. Many analysts think that the Russians were trying to sew general confusion rather than help a specific candidate. Even if they were trying to help Trump that does not mean that they were working with the Trump campaign. After the overthrow of Libya, Putin was convinced that he would be targeted next for overthrow and specifically blamed Secretary Clinton for this.

To date, the case that there was a quid pro quo agreement with the Trump campaign relies mainly on wishful thinking rather than any facts. But Hillary Clinton continues to push the narrative that she lost because of the Russians and newsrooms are still full of Hillary supporters.

The various newsrooms need to take a lesson from the 2004 presidential election and 60 Minutes. A 60 Minutes producer named Marla Mapes was convinced that President Bush had avoided the draft during Viet Nam by taking a slot in the Texas Air National Guard that was only available for the rich and well-connected. She was told flat-out that the TANG always had openings because it required more time and was more dangerous than normal National Guard service but she refused to believe it. While she was researching the story, an anonymous source offered her some memos that Bush's commander had typed up but kept secret. She took these and ran with the story without bothering to do any real fact-checking. But, as with most things that are too good to be true, these were fakes, and not even very good ones. They had numerous problems with the format and terminology and appeared to have been written with Microsoft Word. The story blew up taking the career of Mapes and Dan Rather with it. To this day, Mapes refuses to admit that the documents were poorly-done forgeries.

What happened to CBS and 60 Minutes in 2004 is threatening to happen to the entire news industry now. No one stops to question the basic assumption that Trump colluded with the Russians. This spills over into other reporting on national issues. There are two sides to every story but the only one that gets reported is the anti-Trump side. When President Trump rescinds one of President Obama's executive orders, the focus of the news is on the people who will be hurt without mentioning that the order was probably illegal in the first place. I could go on but that could take an entire post by itself. The point is that the more one-sided the news reporting becomes the less it will be trusted. 


Why Hillary Lost and Why She Blames Everyone Else

I'm not about to give Hillary Clinton money for her book "What happened" so I'm depending on others who have read it for the details. I just read an account of the "Commander in Chief Debate" which wasn't exactly a debate. Matt Lauer interviewed both candidates separately then the interviews were aired back to back. In Hillary's book and in several recent interviews she complains that she started out talking about judgement but then he asked her about the emails. She was annoyed. She had already been cleared of any crimes by the FBI. She felt it was an unfair question. She expected a powder puff interview. So she gave a pat answer. Later a Republican veteran asked about them again, this time about the fact that no charges were filed which gave the impression that the investigation was fixed. She was really upset that such a person would be allowed to ask such a question.

That that's why she lost. The emails were a big issue. They showed lack of judgement that she compounded several times over, first by deleting over 30,000 emails then by having the server scrubbed (and not like with a towel). Several felonies were committed including scrubbing the server while there was an active subpoena and simply being in possession of some highly-classified emails but no one from her team was ever charged.

This was a big deal. Simply repeating that the FBI declined to recommend charges does not convince people that her judgement is sound. If anything, it doubles down on bad judgement. She never has gone beyond the "I'm sorry I got caught and I wouldn't have done it if I'd known how much trouble it would cause me" that she coughed up instead of a real apology.

And now, over a year later, she's still railing because Matt Lauer had the nerve to ask her about a major issue. And she acts as if Trump cruised to victory without a single scandal.

Does "Billy Bush tape" ring a bell? It should. Hillary was playing excerpt from it six times an hour for weeks in swing states. That was just the biggest issue that came up. Every week or two the press uncovered something about Trump. But Hillary forgot all about that.

What really comes through is Hillary's sense of entitlement. She's outraged that anyone did anything to prevent her from having a cake-walk into the White House. How date Bernie run against her and how dare he make popular promises? How dare Matt Lauer and NBC bring up the emails? And how dare the FBI investigate them? Or re-open the investigation after discovering that her assistant Huma was forwarding emails to her husband Anthony Wiener to print? And how dare anyone, especially women vote for anyone but her?

Sunday, November 26, 2017

The Divisiveness of Hillary Clinton

I've been called divisive more times than I can count, and for the life of me, I can't understand why. Politics is a divisive business, it's true, and out country has gotten more polarized with every passing year. . . Why am I seen as such a divisive figure and, say, Joe Biden and John Kerry aren't? . . . I'm really asking. I'm at a loss. - Hillary Clinton in What Happened

Is this woman so self-unaware that she doesn't see the differences between her own actions and other politicians? I can give a few quick examples of her divisiveness:

Let's start with the news that her husband had been having an affair with a White House intern in the late 1990s. When Bill ran in 1992 he and Hillary did an interview where he seemed to say "I've had affairs in the past but I won't have any if I'm elected president". Hillary knew of her husband's long history with other women better than anyone. She employed a staff just to quash these women from speaking out. So she had no reason to doubt that Bill had indeed been having an affair. But that's not how she reacted. She denied everything and (this is the relevant part) blamed a "vast right-wing conspiracy". To no one's surprise, the affair was real but Hillary never went back and admitted that she'd been wrong to claim that Republicans made it up.

But that's ancient history. Just two years ago there was this exchange at a Democratic debate:

ANDERSON  COOPER: Which enemy that you made during your political career are you most proud of?

CLINTON: Well, in addition to the NRA, the health insurance companies, the drug companies, the Iranians; probably the Republicans

So Hillary named Republicans as enemies that she was proud to have. She refused to back away from that statement when asked about it later.

In July She tweeted: The Republican Party platform is so hateful, you'd think Donald Trump wrote it himself.

Then at a public fundraiser Hillary said some things that she'd previously been only saying to small, private groups: If I were to be grossly generalistic, I would say you can take Trump supporters and put them in two big baskets," Clinton said. "There are what I call the deplorables -- the racists, you know, the haters, and the people who are drawn because they think somehow he's going to restore an America that no longer exists. So just eliminate them from your thinking, because we've always had an annoying prejudicial element within our politics.

She later backed away from using "half" but it was too little, too late. Republicans knew that she really thought of all of us as deplorable.

All of this is very divisive. Hillary sees the world as us vs. them with "them" being the Republicans. You don't see Biden or Kerry doing things like these.

Then there is her book tour. I can remember losing candidates going back to Humphrey in 1968. They all took their loss fairly gracefully. Humphrey and Gore tough college for a while. McGovern, McCain and Kerry returned to Congress. Gore eventually reinvented himself as an environmental profit and Nobel Peace Prize winner. Mondale, Dole, Romney and Dukakis pretty much bowed out of politics. Carter reinvented himself helping to build houses for Habitat for Humanity.

Absolutely none of these losing presidential candidates wrote a book complaining about how they deserved to win then went on a speaking tour contesting the election. Hillary is unique in being the worst loser in modern history. And that makes her divisive.


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Inevitability of the Current Sex Scandals

The past year or so seems to be a reversion to New England in the 1690s when the Puritans ruled. The Puritans divided the colony into the elect and the reprobate. The elect were already saved. They were guaranteed their place in heaven. The reprobate would go to hell. The problem was telling who was in which group. Unfortunately, when God saved someone, he did not leave a visible mark so the only hint was that the elect could do no wrong. I mean that literally - it would never occur to one of the elect to sin. So everyone was examining everyone else's behavior to see who sinned and who didn't. All of this lead to the Salem Witch Trials, among other things. Of course, it is impossible for anyone to be completely without sin so this lead to a very nasty environment.

The modern version has its own version of the elect and the reprobates - The minorities and their woke allies vs everyone else. And, as with the Puritans, no one can ever be woke enough.

During late Summer and early Fall it was historic figures who where being examined. Naturally, the slave holders were judged as inadequate but it goes further than that. Presidents Lincoln and Grant were also found wanting. Lincoln allowed some Indians to be executed after a major uprising and Grant owned a slave for a while (with no points given for Grant freeing the slave in 1850).

Now the witch hysteria has moved on to sexual harassment. This began with the airing of then-candidate Trump talking about being able to inappropriately touch women without repercussion. That died down for a while but started up again with 40-year old accusations against Harvey Weinstein. That mushroomed into accusations about many actors, directors, etc. Then it spread to politicians - first a Senate candidate who was  accused of being creepy 40 years ago and now sitting Senator Al Franken.

Personally I'd love for Franken to be forced to leave the Senate and live a life of obscurity but this would never have come up if we weren't in a sexual exploitation hysteria.

One beneficial result of the current hysteria is a reexamination of President Clinton's record of sexual abuse. That's long-overdue. And it may prevent Hillary from making another run for President. After all, she spent decades covering for Bill.

But in general, the current hysteria has gone too far. People's careers are being ruined on the basis of accusations, often with no corroboration. We have the Obama administration and the feminists to thank for that. They insisted that there be no presumption of innocence for sexual harassment. Ironically, most of the people hurt so far are from the left.

Hysteria is never a good public policy. There are reasons that we have presumption of innocence, statute of limitations and all the other things in our justice system. All of that's gone out the window along with any sense of proportion. Is a squeeze on the butt or being touched through your clothes the same as being beaten and raped? It shouldn't be and we should wait for some sort of corroboration before  ruining people.

But this is just the current phase of a general hysteria. Something new will come up in a few weeks and all the sexual allegations will be forgotten.

The real question is how long the general hysteria will last.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

The Day that Trump Won

A year ago we woke up knowing that it was the day Hillary Clinton would become the first woman president. She had bragged more than a week before that she wasn't even thinking about Donald Trump anymore. Her campaign insisted that she'd run up enough of a lead in early voting in Florida to make it impossible for Trump to win that state.

But Florida went for Trump. So did Pennsylvania and several other states that Trump wasn't supposed to have a chance in. What happened?

For me, the election was s surprise but not a shock. I'd been watching the electoral vote carefully and I knew that Trump had a decent chance. All you had to do was make the assumption that the polling models favored Clinton. There were several states that "leaned Clinton" meaning that polls showed her ahead but within the margin of error. If you assumed that the turn-out would match the last two presidential elections then Clinton was ahead. But if you assumed that the minorities who turned out in record numbers for the first black candidate would not turn out for a rich, white woman who oozed entitlement then Trump would win. It was as simple as that.

Of course, the Democratic elite had no idea it was coming. They saw Trump as a clown who somehow managed to get on the ticket. They ignored the fact that he had already beaten the other political dynasty, the Bush family. Jeb was supposed to be the more accomplished version of George W. but Trump easily defeated him along with other governors and well-known senators.

After Clinton's loss in the 2008 primaries it was assumed that she would be Obama's successor. Her stint as Secretary of State was meant to flesh out her resume which was actually fairly weak (She had no real accomplishments in the Senate and she was the first woman to argue that being married to the President qualified her to replace him).

The primaries should have signaled the Democrats that Clinton was a weak candidate. Even with the DNC being under her control she had problems running against an ancient socialist who wasn't even a Democrat. She was well-known to the nation and at least half the population had a firmly-fixed dislike of her. To top it off, she spent all of her time courting minorities and ignoring the working-class whites who traditionally supported the Democrats.She also refuses to admit mistakes or take responsibility for her actions. This trait continues  as Clinton blames the Russians and the FBI for her loss rather than her own mistakes.

Every time she opens her mouth to deliver a rehearsed excuse I thank the voters that she's not our president.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Pro-Abortion Mind Game

A Harvard philosopher named Michael Sandel came up with a "thought exercise" to prove that we don't really believe that life begins at conception. It goes like this:

You are in a fertility clinic and there's a fire. On your way out you hear a noise and check in a room. You find a five year old child and a container marked "1,000 embryos". The fire and smoke are getting bad and you can only save one. Do you save the child or the container of embryos? Naturally you will save the child which means that you don't really believe the embryos are people which, in turn, means that you've been lying in order to contain control of women's bodies.

I cleaned it up a bit but that's what he says. You can see the whole thing laid out here if you really want along with a separate take-down.

So, does this thought exercise do what it claims to? Not really. It was contrived to make you choose the desired outcome. There are several reasons that the average person would choose the child. Here are some of them:

1) We don't handle abstracts well in a crisis. Most people wouldn't even stop to read the containers. They'd grab the child and run.

2) We are hard-wired to choose the concrete over the abstract. We see this constantly in movies and TV shows - someone is given a choice to save a hostage knowing that it could mean the death of many others. Given the choice between a live child and a container, people will choose the child, even if they know that the container represents more children. What's more, we don't actually know what the contents of the container are. Just because it has a label does not mean that it is currently full or even in use.

3) We know more than we are told. Anyone who knows how in-vitro fertilization works knows that we are already in squishy grounds. Only a fraction of the embryos will actually be successfully implanted so it is not a 1000 vs 1 choice. Most of these embryos will be discarded or die in failed implantations (which is why the whole process is morally squishy). The catholic Church debated allowing this process for this very reason.

4) This is an impossible situation. Embryos are not freeze-dried, ready to add water to reconstitute. They are kept frozen at near absolute zero. So the container in question would actually be a larger freezer. Disconnecting it would lead to the death of the embryos within minutes. To put this in perspective, let's take an alternate thought exercise. You are in a maternity ward and a fire breaks out. You see a five year old and two premature infants in incubators. Do you save the child or do you save the two infants, even knowing that they will die unless they can quickly be put back in incubators? And, if you choose the child does this mean that you do not think that the infants are actual people until they can breath unassisted?

It's one thing to propose a thought exercise to make people clarify and justify their reasoning. But that is not what Sandel did. He is playing a mind game to enforce his point of view. And he's not doing a very good job of it. He needed to propose it in neutral terms so that people's defenses were not raised. But he is really just performing for the people inside the bubble. He's not expecting anyone with dissenting views to really examine his exercise.

 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Weinstein, Trump, Clinton and Thomas

The big news right now is that movie producer Harvey Weinstein has been preying on women for decades. The real news is that this was widely known within certain circles but suppressed. Even the story that finally broke the news was killed by NBC News and the reporter had to go elsewhere to get it published.

Weinstein is highly connected. He is a major donor to Democrats. He consulted Hillary Clinton's campaign and President Obama's daughter interned with his production company. Given all of the Hollywood connections the Clintons and Obamas have, it's hard to believe that no one took them aside and whispered a warning in their ear. The truth is that they probably didn't care until a string of flops meant that he was no longer as powerful. Newer revelations show that this may be the tip of an avalanche. Left-leaning Hollywood may be full of sexual predators and no one cared.

A year ago the big news was a 1990s hot mic tape catching Donald Trump bragging to Billy Bush that being rich and famous allowed him to touch women (through their clothing) and no one complained. While several women came forward after that to accuse Trump of improperly touching them, these accusations smelled of an opportunistic chance to derail the Trump campaign.

Going back 26 years, we have the confirmation hearings for Clarence Thomas. Thomas was on track to sail through the confirmation when Teddy Kennedy broke precedent and revealed secret testimony given to the FBI. Anita Hill, one of Thomas's former employees, claimed that Thomas had made inappropriate comments in her presence. There was a minor uproar over this, even though a large group of women who had worked with Thomas said that he'd never behaved in an inappropriate manner in their presence. Thomas was confirmed but female outrage made 1992 the "year of the woman" in elections.

In-between we have Bill Clinton who had multiple affairs including one in the White House and has been accused of violently raping two other women while president. When this news came out, conservatives wanted to know where was the outrage? Several feminist leaders answered that they didn't really care what Clinton did in his private life as long as he supported their agenda. The progressive organization MoveOn was founded to convince the county to "move on" after Clinton's impeachment.

The implication here is that the left only cares about sexual harassment (or worse) when it's to their advantage. They are willing to ignore abuse as long as the abusers support the right causes and as long as the victims stay quiet.

So, why is the left surprised that President Trump's supporters act the same way - ignoring Trump's personal indiscretions because they need him to undo the damage of the Obama presidency?

There's a larger issue here, one that the left will come to regret. You have to be consistent in how you apply standards or they cease to be meaningful. For the past few years the left has pushed the idea that free speech is an outdated concept. Eventually they will miss the protections they currently take for granted but threw away for short-term political gain.  

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Cold War III

We are in a conflict that I'm calling Cold War III. Before I explain it, I'll backtrack a bit to cover the first two cold wars.

The term "cold war" was invented to describe the conflict between the old guard of capitalist/democratic countries and the revolutionary communist/dictatorships typified by the USSR and, later, Red China. This was a war of ideologies although it did erupt into some shooting proxy wars. Viet Nam, Korea, The Seven Day War between Israel and it's neighbors, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and numerous conflicts in Africa and South America were all part of this ideological war. The United States was eventually declared the winner although Communist ideology is on the rise again.

While it's seldom called this, the Second Cold War is between militant Islam and the rest of the world. Again, this is a proxy war with Iran, Saudi Arabia and others financing extremist groups. Note that it is not necessary for one side to be cohesive. Iran and the Saudis are enemies just as Russia and Red China were. Militant Islam has not been as successful in controlling entire nations as communism was but it has managed to use asymmetrical warfare in the form of terrorist attacks to kill thousands in the US and Europe, something that never happened in the first Cold War.

So, what about the Third Cold War? This is a cold civil war. So far, few shots have been fired but there is conflict. Again, on one side is traditional America with it's capitalist/democratic system. The other side is sort of a hydra with many heads but all of its components share a single goal - to change America beyond recognition by attacking every possible institution. The terms "social justice" and "income inequality" are often used and most of these groups are explicitly against capitalism. A number of other fundamental American institutions are also under attack. Free speech is the most obvious. People at all levels on the left have declared that "hate speech" is not protected where "hate speech" is loosely defined as anything they disagree with. College students have equated having speakers they disagree with to physical pain in order to justify violent protests. Our legal system is threatened on college campuses where the presumption of innocence has been replaced by a presumption of guilt in rape complaints. While these actions take place outside of the legal system, they go on a student's permanent record and can make him unemployable for decades. Former Attorney General Eric Holder has suggested that the rules for evidence should also be changed in civil rights cases.

Rather than accept the results of the 2016 Presidential election, the Hydra came up with plan after plan for ways to alter the results. They are still hoping that somehow the investigation on Russian influence will expand far enough to find something to force Trump from office.

Virtually every aspect of American life is being challenged at some level, especially on campuses. Statues are being removed. Colleges are being renamed. This is not limited to Confederates. Abraham Lincoln, the Great Emancipator, is now offensive because of his Indian policies. Just a few years ago Democrats were pointing to Teddy Roosevelt's Progressive policies as a model for the Republican party. Now he's reviled as a colonialist.

Science itself is under attack. White males are over-represented among scientists and mathematicians so some feminists have condemned it as an artifact of the patriarchy.

Science says that there are two sexes determined by X and Y chromosomes but the Hydra says that there are multiple genders, as many as 32. And they want to make it punishable to use the wrong gender.

I'm calling this a war because of the way the Hydra acts. They use the language of war. They call themselves "The Resistance" and vow to resist President Trump and to fight the patriarchy. Once you start digging deeper into the demands of the different groups, Black Lives Matter, Antifa, Black Bloc, etc., you find that they are committed to ending capitalism.

Any attempts at reasonable compromise are simply treated as gained ground. An example was removing Confederate flags from state property. Rather than being accepted as a compromise, this was a beginning point where all Confederate flags were to be removed, even from toy soldiers and the Dukes of Hazard TV show suddenly because a symbol of white supremacy. This escalated into demands for removing statues of Confederate generals which moved on to grave memorials and statues unrelated to the Civil War.

There is also a total lack of remorse. After a BLM-inspired cop-killing in Texas, you might expect a bit of moderation. Instead they continues to call for more dead cops, even before the funeral. When one of their number attempted to assassinate Republican members of Congress, they took to social media to insist that the Republicans had brought it on themselves and probably deserved to be executed.  

So far it has stayed a low-level civil war but it has been marked by violence. Besides the attempt to assassinate congressional Republicans and several cop killings, they have also help several violent demonstrations and caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages.

I was looking for parallels and came up with one, the English Civil War. That was fought in the 1640s between the establishment led by King Charles and the Puritans. The King's side represented the establishment. The Puritans have several similarities to the modern Hydra. The Social Justus Warriors draw a lot of their support from campuses. The Puritans drew heavily from apprentices who were in the same age range. In fact, the term "Round Heads" given to the Puritan army came from the short-cropped hair that the apprentices wore. In addition to the apprentices, the Puritans drew a great deal of support from the urban centers while the rest of the countryside was for the King. Look at the 2016 election map by county and you see that the Democrats are all clustered in the cities.

After the end of the English Civil War, a number of veterans felt that the reforms instituted by the Puritan-controlled parliament did not go far enough. They wanted a complete leveling of society to eliminate the rich. They were known as Levellers (along with an even harder-line group called the Diggers). essentially, these were proto-marxists.

The Puritans' approach to religion was very similar to being "woke" today. You were not born to either. Both required an epiphany and there was always the chance that you were not truly converted so you were constantly searching your own conscience and that of those around you for any hints that you were not fully converted.

The English Civil War did not suddenly erupt. The tensions leading to it had been building for a generation or more. Similarly, I expect our current state to continue as a low-level civil war, although a Soros-funded Communist front group announced that the revolution will begin November 4th.

Some of the current hysteria will die down soon. Revolutionary chic is affecting the bottom line of some of the businesses that support it. The NFL and ESPN have seen a major drop in viewership and are reacting. The NFL is considering requiring players to stand for the national anthem and ESPN suspended one of their people who called for a boycott of NFL sponsors over the kneeling protests.

Others are seeing a hit in their bottom line but have not yet taken action. Marvel Comics (which, like ESPN is owned by Disney) has seen a major drop in sales since they replaced most of their long-time characters with women and minorities. Award show ratings are at a major low, probably due to the politics the winners and presenters bring to the show. Late night comics are all fighting over the anti-Trump audience but their ratings are a fraction of what Jay Leno was pulling just a few years ago. Colleges like Missouri and Evergreen which have seen well-publicized protests have had huge drops in enrollment.

Will this be enough? It's impossible to say at this point. The Hydra had a major set-back with the election of Donald Trump. Of all of the candidates, he was the least likely to try to compromise with them. But the next Democratic candidate will be well to the left of Hillary Clinton. The Democratic Party has also rid itself of any moderates and now insists on a rigid conformity to the far-left party line. If they win the next few elections then we will see an erosion of civil liberties that will make us nostalgic for President Obama's pen and phone.

But, it's hard to hold on to red-hot rage. Passions are cooling and people are accepting that the status-quo is not going to be overthrown. We went through some of this in the 1960s including calls for violent revolution but it all blew over after a few years.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Columbus Day, NFL Protests and the Unraveling of American Society

Around two hundred years ago a group of influential Americans including Washington Irving decided that we, as a new nation, needed a set of American heroes distinct from the English ones we had inherited. They settled on three illustrious men without whom, America would not have existed: Christopher Columbus, George Washington and Ben Franklin. A few others were added into the mix. Longfellow elevated Paul Revere as well as three of his Pilgrim ancestors but Columbus Washington and Franklin were the big three. Washington and Franklin were well known but Columbus was a much more remote figure. Irving remedied this by writing a biography of Columbus but, despite having access to the largest collection of Columbus-related documents in the world (at that time), he invented most of his history. To Irving, the truth was not as important as having a figure worthy of admiration to unite the country.

Now, 200 years later, the semi-terrorist group Antifa has declared war on Columbus with plans to deface Columbus statues across the country because Columbus is a symbol of white supremacy. Again, the symbolism is more important than the history. This is part of a general campaign from the left to declare symbols of American history to be offensive. This began with the removal of Confederate flags from statehouse grounds because the racist killer Dylan Roof posed with a Confederate flag in some pictures he posted on social media. Things got a little crazy from there with gift shops removing plastic soldiers from gift shops because the gray ones carried a Confederate flag. It moved from that to protests over statues of Confederate generals and went into overdrive after a counter-protestor was killed in August. In the aftermath of that, nearly every statue of a white man has suddenly become suspect.

Then there are the protests at the NFL. This began with a single player refusing to stand for the National Anthem. A few other players followed his lead and more were kneeling during the anthem this year.

The original protest was over the perception that police kill a disproportionate number of blacks but since then it has expanded to include institutional racism, inequality and President Trump. Regardless, the message is that America isn't worth showing respect for. The result is that watching football is now a political action.

All of this is part of a long-term strategy to de-legitimize America. There is to be no shared space that unites us as Americans. Our heroes have been redefined as racists, our institutions have been politicized. Where Washington Irving and his companions tried to unite us, there is now a movement to separate us as much as possible. Some of this is planned, a lot of it is people who are simply following the example of politicizing everything.

Even national tragedies no longer join us. Hillary Clinton didn't wait for the bodies to be identified before tweeting out how we need gun control. When a Bernie supporter started shooting at Republican Congressmen at a basketball practice, the left used it to attack Republican policy.

There is no reasonable accommodation with this movement. It is meant to constantly push. And ground ceded simply becomes the new starting point for the next push.

So we have to hold our ground and continue to celebrate Columbus Day and stand for the National  Anthem.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Clueless Hillary

I've only read small excerpts from Hillary Clinton's book, "What Happened" but something popped out from two of those excerpts: Hillary is completely clueless about popular culture. She drops some references without realizing how backwards she got the reference.

"Crowds at Trump rallies called for my imprisonment more times than I can count," she wrote. "They shouted, 'Guilty! Guilty!' like the religious zealots in Game of Thrones chanting 'Shame! Shame!' while Cersei Lannister walked back to the Red Keep."

In Game of Thrones, Cersie Lannister is one of the least sympathetic characters. Early in the first book of the series a young boy catches her having sex with her twin brother so the two of them throw the boy out a high window. She indulges her sociopath son and is generally cruel herself. There are two reason that Hillary should never want her name associated with Cersie. The first is that Cersie's only claim to power was that she married the king. Does Hillary really want us to remember that she'd never have been taken seriously as a candidate if she hadn't been First Lady?

The second problem for Hillary is that Cersie was guilty. The crowd knew it. The viewers knew it. She was atoning for crimes that she really committed. How far should we take this analogy?

"Attempting to define reality is a core feature of authoritarianism," Mrs. Clinton writes. "This is what the Soviets did when they erased political dissidents from historical photos. This is what happens in George Orwell's classic novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, when a torturer holds up four fingers and delivers electric shocks until his prisoner sees five fingers as ordered.

"The goal is to make you question logic and reason and to sow mistrust towards exactly the people we need to rely on: our leaders, the press, experts who seek to guide public policy based on evidence, ourselves," she continues.


 1984 is a dystopian novel where an oppressive government controls every aspect of daily life. The populous is constantly monitored and people who do not believe what the government, the press, and the leaders tell them are arrested and tortured until they can no longer separate reality from government-directed propaganda - even when the government is constantly rewriting history. But Hillary's take-away from the novel is that we should trust in the people who, in the novel, are the fabricators.

Just how much chardonnay had Hillary been drinking when she came up with this stuff? And why didn't her ghost writers clean it up?

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Trump Saved Congressional Republicans From Themselves

In the (muted) furor over President Trump making a deal with the Congressional Democrats to make a three-month extension to the debt ceiling, people forget what the alternative would have been. Reportedly the Republicans were holding out for a long-term deal on the deficit and were willing to shut down government to get it. If they had done that the top story of the week would have been "Republicans shut down the government as hurricanes wreck multiple states and leave thousands homeless."

The Republicans would be portrayed as heartless. This would have followed them into the next election cycle. Instead, Trump got a deal for quick relief money and postponed the budget showdown until after hurricane season.

Yes, the Democrats are patting themselves on the back over how they got the better of the deal but if they really believe that then they are fooling themselves. They lost a huge public relations opportunity and got nothing of consequence in return.

The real losers are the Congressional Republican leaders who haven't figured out how to pick their battle.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Disappointed with the Republicans

This should have been a banner year for Republicans. With control of the White House, both houses of Congress and a conservative majority on the Supreme Court, they should have had at least a few major victories by now. But they don't. All of the important work is being done by the executive branch. Granted, a lot of the executive overreach of the Obama years is best handled from the executive branch but we should have seen some progress by now.

"Repeal and replace Obamacare" was a battle cry for the Republicans since the day President Obama signed it. What the House passed was shoddy work and no one was willing to spend any political capitol pushing it. The Senate was even more hapless, unable to pass anything. The excuse was that they didn't expect Trump to win so their plans consisted of nothing more than another 4-8 years of symbolic votes.

They don't even seem to have had a workable plan involving subsidized high-risk pools filed away in a back room, just in case.

Corporate tax reform should have been a priority, too. We have the world's highest corporate tax rate but it's riddled with breaks that mainly benefit companies large enough to pay for lobbying. This puts smaller companies at a disadvantage and hurts the overall economy.

Immigration reform and border security should have been high on their to-do list. Those are issues that put Trump into the White House.

It appears that the Congressional Republicans prefer to keep their heads down and avoid doing anything controversial.

President Trump was correct in his actions this week. He made a deal with some Democrats to keep government funded for another three months while providing federal funding for hurricane relief. Trump signaled that he does not need the Republicans which is only fair since they have expressed a clear distaste for him.

The other action was the announcement that DACA, the program that allowed illegal immigrants who came here at a young age, will be phased out in six months. This program was the worst example of Obama's executive overreach. There was an excellent chance that it would not survive the Supreme Court. Simply eliminating it would put the onus on Trump, but by phasing it out, he gave the Republicans a chance to weigh in on it. If they pass a replacement then it will be legal. If they fail to then it is on them. 

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Why Identity Politics Are Immoral

These days the left in obsessed with Identity Politics - the idea that your identity as a person is mainly shaped by your race, gender, religion and sexual orientation. The Democrats have embraced this as their ticket to permanent majority status. But the most virulent strain of this is found in colleges. There are several problems with Identity Politics. These put them at odds with the very concept of what it means to be American.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. Martin Luther King jr.

Identity politics turns this on its head. Individuals no longer matter, only groups. Whites in general do better than most minorities therefore all whites have white privilege and all people of color are oppressed. It doesn't matter if the white in question is poor and stuck in a low-paying job or long-term employment or the person of color is a university employee making more in a year than most people make in a decade. The white has power and the POC does not.

This leads to inherited guilt. All whites are guilty of slavery, Jim Crow, etc. Even if none of your ancestors owned slaves, you are guilty.

The same is true about sexism. All men are part of the patriarchy and all women are oppressed by it. Look at the most vocal victim of sexism, Hillary Clinton. An outside observer might point out that she has enjoyed more power and influence than all but a handful of people and that despite a history of bad judgement and questionable ethics, she still came within a hairsbreadth of becoming president - something that only a half-dozen people in a country of 350 million can say. Still, she lost, not because she made terrible choices as a candidate, but because she's a woman.

Part of Identity Politics is the expectation that you will behave properly. Remember the outrage from the Left when white women failed to vote for Hillary?

And there's where Identity Politics clashes with the American ideal. We (or used to) pride ourselves as a nation of individuals. Now that is being beaten out of us. We are expected to act based on our identity rather than our convictions.

Identity Politics is inherently divisive. It teaches that you have to be true to your group and that you are not to think for yourself. It also has to have an "other". It teaches that everything is a zero-sum game. In order for women and people of color to rise, white men have to be dragged down.

Everything has to have a racial angle. When an eclipse crossed the nation for the first time in 99 years, one writer pointed out that it was mainly visible in white areas. Income inequality can be traced to single-parent families, poor education and other issues but it is usually blamed on racism and nothing useful is done.

Racism and sexism are assumed to be everywhere, but only practiced by white men. That's because the definitions have been changed to include group identity. Since white men, as a group, are the only ones with power, they are the only ones who can be racist or sexist. This is a convenient double standard that allows for a shocking amount of hatred against white men. Colleges across the country are offering classes on "eliminating whiteness" and the term "toxic masculinity" has become so common that I see it in movie reviews. No one thinks twice about this but imagine the reverse.

All of this has consequences. White nationalism is on the rise. This is nothing but more Identity Politics. It is inevitable that powerless young guys will side with the people who tell them that they are inherently superior.

It is very difficult to tell just how prevalent white supremacy actually is. The mid-August protest in Charlottesville was supposed to be the largest such gathering in a generation. Hard numbers are impossible to find. None of the major news services gave any estimates. The best I could come up with was that the white supremacist side had 200-300 people. I haven't seen any numbers about the counter-protest but previous events there had over 1,000 counter-protestors so it is safe to assume around 1,000. That means that the protestors were outnumbered between 3-1 to 5-1. I suspect that these numbers were suppressed by reporters sympathetic to the counter-protestors to give the impression of equal numbers. In addition, the protestors came from multiple states. The one who killed a woman by ramming a car was from Ohio. News reports said that most of the counter-protestors were from the general area, at most coming from Richmond and DC.

A week later, there were no white supremacists in Berkley but there were still thousands of counter protestors and the reports failed to make it clear that the original event was anti-communist and pro-free speech. That's another bit of reporting where the news services buried inconvenient details.

As the events of August showed, if allowed to continue, Identity Politics threaten to pull the nation into a cold civil war. As the rescue activities for Hurricane Harvey showed, we are not a nation of bigots and sexists. We are a nation of decent people who will help each other when not separated by artificial identities.

Friday, August 25, 2017

The "He followed me lie"

In her upcoming book, Hillary Clinton talks about her second debate with Donald Trump. She claims that he followed her around the stage and that he "literally breathing down [her] neck.".

I went back and watched the debate and took screen shots. Here's an example of Trump "looming over Clinton".



Except he wasn't . Here's a capture from a different angle.



This was not a single occurrence. She did it again and again. She would walk past Trump and address the audience while standing on his side of the stage.





​ 

​This went on for around the middle third of the debate. After the second time, Trump began standing behind his chair, eeding his space to Hillary.



The whole "looming over" thing was an artifact of camera angles and zoom lenses. The cameras were above the audience and they used zoom lenses for close-ups. You can see that in the pictures above. They were all taken from the same cameras. Zoom lenses distort distances and make things look closer than they are. Here's one of Hillary looking disapprovingly over Trump's shoulder.



She's not looming, partly because Trump is nearly a foot taller and partly because she was sitting. That brings up an interesting piece of body language. Trump never sat. He moved around constantly unless he was holding on to his chair or podium. He gave the impression of someone with a lot of energy. In contrast, Hillary sat whenever Trump was talking. Considering the issues about her health a month earlier, this may or may not be significant. Here's an example.



A few weeks ago I saw someone questioning Trump's fitness to serve on the basis of his health. He sits and ride golf carts a lot. This is a reminder that the choice was between two of the oldest individuals to run for the office and Clinton's health was an issue.

So, what to make of this? I can thing of three possible reasons why Clinton kept invading Trump's side of the stage. She may have just been moving closer to the person who asked the question. It was difficult to tell where the person was in the footage and the debate organizers may have clustered the people so that all of the questions during the middle came from Trump's side and all of them during the final third came from Clinton's side. Or she may have been addressing the camera directly since she was really playing to the TV audience.

The second possibility is that she was trying to rattle Trump. It was publicized before the second debate that Clinton had worked with psychologists for ways to anger Trump. Or she may have been trying to project dominance to the audience by invading Trump's space. She certainly got him to retreat. Rather than following her, he usually backed away.

The final possibility is that she was posing for the "disapproving man looming over a successful woman" meme. According to "Shattered" she rehearsed on a circular stage that President Obama lent to her. Was she practicing placing herself between the camera and Trump? Maybe. She managed to do it, even when she stayed on her own side of the stage.



Again, Trump was standing in front of his podium and Hillary left hers to stand in front of the camera.

Regardless of why Hillary moved around the stage the way that she did, it is clear that Trump was not following her and was never breathing down her neck. That's an outright lie.

If you want to be generous, you can attribute that to being a false memory. Possibly Hillary never went back and watched the debate so the photos that her campaign distributed of Trump "looming over her" replaced the actual memories of the event.

Or maybe she's just lying to sell her book.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

What Happened to Russia?

For over a year we've had countless stories in the news about Candidate/President Trump's ties to Russia in general and Putin in particular. Keith Olberman declared that we had a bloodless coup and that Russia now controls the US. Colbert made some comments that I won't even describe. The Washington Post's Daily 202 news summary had a daily section entitled "There's a bear in the woods" that recounted the newest developments in the Russian investigation.

More important, a special council was appointed to investigate the President's ties to Russia and Congress passed new sanctions against Russia for interfering with the election.

But the daily news on Russia suddenly went silent. What happened?

Certainly a part of it was the uproar over Confederate statues. That's drowned out a lot of other news. The terrorist attack in Spain was barely mentioned in order to give more time to stories about the protests. But that can't be all of it. There have been other big events but they never silenced the Russian story so completely.

I think that three things happened to quash the story. The first is members of the Trump campaign complaining, "Collude with the Russians? We couldn't even collude with ourselves!" For anyone who remembers who chaotic the Trump campaign was, this is a strong argument against collusion.

Next was a story that got very little attention: a low-ranking member of the Trump campaign said that he repeatedly tried to arrange for a meeting between Trump and the Russians to describe what relations would be like under Trump but there was no interest on either side. It's hard to reconcile this with a bloodless coup.

Finally, there's a report that received almost no coverage at all that the Russian "hack" never happened. This says that the DNC emails were copied to a thumb drive from within the DNC network The experts saying this say that header information in the files shows a transfer rate consistent with that and impossible to achieve with an overseas connection. This would explain why the DNC refused to allow the FBI to examine their servers.

So, has the story fallen apart so completely that no one wants to report on it? It's possible that, after investing so many resources on the story that the various media is reluctant to admit that there was never any story to begin with.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Punching Nazis?

The meme of the moment is that "It's ok to punch a Nazi". This is often accompanied with the cover of Captain America #1 punching Hitler or something similar. But there's the thing.

It's not World War II and you are not a comic book hero.

When people talk about punching a Nazi, they mean that they want to assault someone for holding views that they don't agree with. Yes, I know what the Nazis did in the 1930s and 1940s and yes, it's shocking to see Americans carrying Nazi symbols and praising Hitler. But that does not justify taking the law into your own hands and taking it upon yourself to punish the Nazi.

And who counts as a Nazi? Yes, it's easy to point to the idiots carrying swastikas but they don't carry them every day. Are you planning on hunting them down? Then will you go after Nazi sympathizers? A friend of mine was recently named in a Facebook posting as a Nazi-enabler for making the same points I'm making. This post called for violence against several people. I know other people who insist that anyone who didn't vote for Hillary Clinton is an Nazi-enabler. Where does this end?

Last weekend an engineer was fired from Google after sharing a complaint about Google's diversity programs. He was not against diversity but he did suggest that, possibly, women are less likely to be attracted to engineering as a career. He even backed this up with solid figures (although the links were all removed when his document was made public). After his firing he complained that he has been labeled a Nazi and received death threats.

This also seems to expect that the Nazis won't hit back. They will. Violence leads to more violence.

Monday, August 07, 2017

It's Time to Normalize Trump

The Democrats flipped out when Donal Trump won the election. The weeks between election night and inauguration day were full of plots and schemes to prevent Trump from taking office. When he did, people embedded in federal agencies vowed to "resist", using official twitter channels and leaks to embarrass the President. At the same time, celebrities vowed that they would never "normalize" Trump by treating him as a normal president. President Trump is unwelcome on late night talk shows. Hosts who fawned on Barack Obama now compete to see who can be the most anti-Trump.

The MSM has been particularly harsh, often framing events in an unflattering light then referring back to their interpretation instead of what actually happened. An example of this was Trump's first meeting with his full cabinet. He had each member introduce himself. Several, around half, thanked the President for the chance to server the country in their new role. This was reported as Trump calling his cabinet together and ordering them to praise him and is still being referred to as "bizarre" even though it is typical of such introductions.

Last week things went even further. The Washington Post published transcripts of President Trump's first phone calls to the presidents of Mexico and Australia. Although a few bits have been published, there has been little discussion of the main text - probably because it reflects well on Trump. But the content of the phone calls is not the point.

By publishing these transcripts, the Post has shown that it will do anything it can to harm Trump, even if it will cause long-term damage to the United States going beyond the Trump administration.

Every leader in the world now knows that he cannot count on his conversation with the President of the United States being kept confidential. This will hurt Trump for the rest of his presidency but there is no reason to believe that it will stop there.

Civilization can be a fragile thing. It depends on mutual acceptance of a set of rules of conduct. The "resistance" and the attempts to "de-normalize" Trump assume that these rules can be unilaterally ignored without repercussion. The Democrats made the same assumption when they controlled Congress, particularly the Senate. They exercised the "nuclear option" and did away with the filibuster on presidential Non-Supreme Court appointments. When the Republicans regained control there was a short debate about reinstating the old rules but the general feeling was that the Republicans should not be expected to play by a different set of rules than the Democrats. And, when President Trump nominated a well-qualified candidate to the Supreme Court, the nuclear option was extended to include those nominees as well.

If a Democrat wins the 202 election, then you can count on the Republicans de-normalizing that president the same way that the Democrats have treated Trump. The new rules have been set and it is ridiculous to assume that the Republicans will abode by the old rules.

That's why it is imperative for the left to back off and normalize Trump. They are the only ones who can defuse the current situation. They need to admit that they have gone too far and start according Trump the respect that they will expect to be given the next Democratic president.

That goes for the Republicans, too. They might disagree with Trump but they need to accept him for the good of the nation.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Racist Walking?

In a recent NYT column, a black man described his experiences with white women on the sidewalks.

There are many times in a day when a person is walking toward me and in my path. In these situations, we both generally make minor adjustments upon our approach. Sometimes, and especially with pedestrians who are black, as I am, there's eye contact or even a nod. Almost always, we shift our bodyweight or otherwise detour to make the pass easier for the other. Walking courteously doesn't take much, just soup├žons of spatial awareness, foresight and empathy. In seven years of living and walking here, I've found that most people walk courteously — but that white women, at least when I'm in their path, do not.

Sometimes they're buried in their phones. Other times, they're in pairs and groups, and in conversation. But often, they're looking ahead, through me, if not quite at me. When white women are in my path, they almost always continue straight, forcing me to one side without changing their course. This happens several times a day; and a couple of times a week, white women force me off the sidewalk completely. In these instances, when I'm standing in the street or in the dirt as a white woman strides past, broad-shouldered and blissful, I turn furious.

So white women are racist.

Or... maybe the author sees racism where it doesn't exist. He goes on to say that he asked other black men and one Asian man about it. The black men said that it had happened to them, the Asian man said that white women made way for him but white men didn't.

There's one group that was omitted from that small sample - white men. Being a white man, I'll take the liberty of offering an answer. Yes, it happens to us, too. I've had it happen several times.

I'm going out on a limb here but I'm going to take a wild guess that he didn't ask any white men because he didn't want to know the answer. He's part of a culture that ways that anything that he dislikes must be from racism. But it it happens to white men, too then that blows up his main point.

So, why would women refuse to recognize the men around her? Three years ago a video showed a woman walking through the streets of NYC and getting constant catcalls. Granted this was 10 hours of walking condensed down to a few minutes but it shows that even a woman who refuses to recognize the men around her gets hit on.

So, maybe, what the author saw as racism was a defense mechanism. But that draws all the wrong conclusions. It places the blame on men. Instead of being part of an oppressed group, he becomes one of the oppressor class. And what fun is that?



Friday, July 28, 2017

What Happened or What "Happened"

Hillary Clinton's new book on the 2016 election will be out September 12. It was just announced that the title will be "What Happened" and will feature Hillary letting her guard down.

The release date of the book is ironic because the date is the anniversary of when she lost the campaign. Two events - her "basket of deplorables" speeches coming to light and her collapse at the 9/11 memorial and subsequent conflicting stories about its cause stopped her campaign dead in its tracks.

Clinton has a long history of self-serving books. This one promises to be different but it also promises to connect the dots between Russia and Donald Trump. So, will it be an honest account of the Clinton campaign including all of the missteps at the top or will it be a justification for everything that Hillary did, full of conspiracy theories. Here's some things to watch for:

The email server. Nothing hurt Clinton's campaign more than her decision to use a private email server rather than the official one at the State Department. She has previously given questionable justification for that. Will she finally admit that she wanted total control over her correspondence, even if it meant making it less secure? In a related question, will she mention that her emails got onto the laptop of Anthony Weiner because her aid,Huma Abedin, was forwarding them to Weiner to print? Previously Hillary has blamed the FBI's reopening of the email investigation for her loss. Will she admit that there would have been no investigation without these decisions?

Her collapse and her health. Her collapse at the 9/11 memorial capped weeks of speculation about her health. Even after her collapse it took days before her campaign admitted that she was suffering from pneumonia. Until the news release went out, most of her staff had no idea that she was sick. How will she explain that? And how healthy is she really?

Russia Hackers released two troves of emails, the first from the DNC server and the second from one of her top campaign officials. There is evidence to indicate that Russian hackers were involved. There is a much weaker case that the Russian government was involved. Assuming that Putin was personally involved in this, he might have done it out of spite because he dislikes Hilary and feared that as president she would try to force him out of office. Will Hillary admit this or will she push the theory that Trump colluded with Putin in exchange for future favors?

Her campaign. The book Shattered paints a picture of a campaign in disarray with no clear lines of authority and an ever-expanding set of people at the top. Hillary herself became increasingly distant from the campaign, seldom meeting face to face and using speaker phone for important meetings. What will she have to say about this? What of the decision that it was too difficult and expensive to try to convert Trump supporters? Instead of trying to persuade Republicans, the Clinton campaign ran negative ads for months to try to suppress Trump voters and relied on get-out-the-vote efforts to reassemble the Obama coalition. Will she admit that this was her strategy and that it was a mistake?

Trump looming over her. During the second debate, Hillary executed a practiced move, leaving her seat and walking across the stage to position herself between a camera and Trump. Her press released a statement about how women have to face angry men "looming" over their shoulder and Hillary talked about how Trump was following her around the stage when he never left his seat. Will she admit what really happened or will she continue to talk about Trump looming over her? This is a small point but I already saw it mentioned in a Huffington Post article on Hillary's book.

In short, will Clinton admit to the many mistakes and missteps that she and her campaign made or will she use this new book to justify everything she did and place the blame everywhere else? Personally, I don't think that there's a chance in the world that Hillary will write an honest account of the election. She will justify every decision, skirt over the inconvenient parts and blame everyone but herself.

 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

How to Condescend While Saying Not To

In a recent column in USA, card-carrying member of the resistance, Andrew Redlawsk suggests that liberal should listen and not condescend when talking with Trump Voters. He then manages to be amazingly condescending.

My typical response to conservatives who see me as a smug, elitist hypocrite for not being tolerant of their beliefs is that I'm "intolerant of intolerance," but I've realized that that mistake is the issue. No, we don't have to accept and respect others' bigotry or ignorance, but it's incredibly important that we understand where it comes from and why it exists.
With this sweeping statement, he tars everyone in the opposition as ignorant bigots.

The folks who voted for Trump are by and large people who see progressivism, and specifically concepts like political correctness and intersectionalism, as an attack on all of those deeply held feelings of what America "is." To them, our movement is an assault on their Field of Dreams. They're afraid of losing their (yes, white and Christian) America in the tidal wave of cultural shifts that have occurred over recent decades.

Is calling them racist going to change that? Is calling them bigots going to do it? Hateful? Monsters? Ignorant? Uneducated? Privileged? We don't have to agree with it, but we have to attempt to understand it.

And yet, he's already called us bigots.

The only way The Resistance succeeds is if we fundamentally change our tactics. We must realize that the way into these hearts is to respectfully suggest that the causes we fight for actually align with their deeply held patriotism and love for America. That yes, our marginalized communities may look different and speak a different language, but they want all the same things you do, and they want to have them in this incredible country we've built together. They also want to have their Field of Dreams. That's why they came here in the first place! And isn't it the American Way to do everything we can to give them that opportunity?

Actually, most progressives equate patriotism with nationalism and then lump it in with fascism. American flags are seen as micro-agressions. To progressives, America is a racist patriarchy. And he's still assuming that conservatives are anti-foreigner. He made the typical mistake of equating positions against illegal immigrants with being anti-foreigner.

But what this also means is that we as progressives need to stop getting so offended by everything and learn to put ourselves in others' shoes. All of our experiences — conservatives and progressives alike — give us unique perspectives, and it is absolutely unhelpful to say things like "it's not our job to teach you" when someone comes to us with questions.

Actually, it is our job.

This sounds good but he doesn't actually want to see things from a conservative point of view. He wants us to see things from his point of view. He wants to teach us the error of our ways.

To summarize: Progressives, stop insulting, stop shaming, and stop condescending. Start listening. Start teaching.

Good advice. Too bad he's not taking it.









Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Left's Hamburger Problem

Business Insider has an observation on a big problem that the Democrats have - their judgementalism. The point is this is that most Americans agree with the Democrats on specific policies but are repelled by the constant judgement from the left.

The Business Insider article is approaching the subject from the left. I'll address it from the right.

The Obama years were very good for the left. They achieved their main goals, then, emboldened by their victories, they moved the goalposts. A lot. They also doubled down on their gains.

The LGBT alliance is an example. When Obama ran in 2008, he felt that he could not win if he supported gay marriage. Not long after his election and while gay marriage was still not recognized in several states, the left decided to use the power of the government to force a consensus. If a baker or photographer refused service because of religious convictions then that person was publicly pilloried and run out of business. The message was that this is the new order and no dissent will be allowed. Even people like me who have supported gay marriage since before it was fashionable were shocked by the vindictiveness of this.

The the LGBT lobby moved the goalposts some more. Trans rights came out of nowhere and suddenly became the law of the land. Not only are we to accept transsexuals but suddenly the whole concept of gender binary is being questioned. We're being scolded for announcing the sex of babies instead of letting them grow up as gender neutral beings until they can decide for themselves. We're even being scolded for "forcing" gender onto our pets.

This is a huge social leap and the left is totally unforgiving of anyone who was left behind. It's also moving ahead of science and anyone who questions this on medical grounds is browbeaten.

Then there's Intersectional feminism. This holds that our culture is inherently racists and sexist. Straight, white, cicgenered males are considered the worst of the lot. No one likes to be told that they are irredeemably racists/sexist/etc. Or that their race/sex/orientation/religion make their views irrelevant. This is a movement that eats itself. Just today black, queer protestors marched on the local Stonewall Union.

It's hard to get people to vote with you when you are telling them that they are terrible people. Just ask Hillary Clinton and her basket of deplorables.

The list goes on. The left is constantly worrying about global warming but, as the Business Insider points out, their remedies tend to match their lifestyle. This is particularly true of the rich elite who emit more carbon than a family of four in order to fly half-way around to world to preach carbon reduction.

The left holds a great deal of the country in contempt while counting on them for ever-further march to the left.

If they want to stop the hemorrhaging, the left needs to start being more tolerant.  

Monday, July 17, 2017

Trump Jr - three possibilities

Given the known facts about Donald Trump, Jr's meeting with a Russian attorney, I can think of three possibilities. I'll list them below but first I want to make a few observations.

First, the term "ties to the Kremlin" is kind of like "degrees of Kevin Bacon". Virtually every highly-placed person from Russia will have some sort of ties with the Kremlin. This is part of doing business. The lawyer also has ties to the group hired to do opposition research on Trump, Sr, for rival Republicans and later the DNC.

Simply trying to get background information, even information acquired by the Kremlin, is not unusual. The "Trump dossier" that was publicized shortly after Trump was inaugurated was supposed to contain KGB information and no one blinked an eye at the DNC being involved with that. No one was bothered by the DNC doing opposition research with the help of Estonia, either.

So, what are the possibilities?

1) The lawyer lied about having dirt on Hillary Clinton in order to get an appointment to talk about her pet cause, adoption of Russian children. This is Trump, Jr's story.

2) The lawyer made an agreement to release DNC emails in exchange for some concessions. That's a lot of negotiations in a single 20-minute meeting with no known follow-ups or face-to-face with Trump, Sr. Still, this is the story that the Left and the press believe. The closest to proof for this is that Grucifer 2 released the DNC emails shortly after the meeting.

3) The meeting was a set-up by the group doing opposition research on the Trumps in order to provide an excuse for the Obama administration to monitor the Trump campaign. The Lawyer claimed to have dirt on Clinton then changed to the adoption story once she'd gotten her meeting. As I mentioned before, the lawyer has as many ties to the opposition research group as to the Kremlin. Also, she was allowed into the country after her visa had been rejected. The timing of the requests to monitor the Trump campaign match this scenario as well as the release of the emails matches the second one.

Personally, I think the first one is the most likely. It fits the known events the best. The Left is grasping at any contact with anyone from Russia as proof of collusion. Some people on the Right are doing the same thing with the Obama administration's tapping of Trump communications.

My main point is that we don't know for certain what happened in the meeting. It's silly to insist that the second possibility is the only one and shows Trump Derangement Syndrome.