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Friday, 24 October 2014
The Rest of the Story
Topic: The Media

It was all over the news the other day: Fox News Hosts Tell Young Women Not To Vote, Go Back To Tinder And Match.com. There was only one small problem with this story, which originated with Media Matters, the leftie “media watchdog” group whose attention is almost totally focused on FNC: It’s isn’t true. Here’s what actually happened

During a discussion of the midterm elections on The Five, it was asked why younger women tend to vote Democratic. Greg Gutfeld opined that people tend to become more conservative with age. Kimberly Guilfoyle, a former prosecutor and Court TV anchor, responded with the observation that some lawyers don’t like young women on juries: “The same reason why young women on juries is not a good idea. They don’t get it. They’re not in that same life experience of paying the bills, doing the mortgage, kids, community, crime, education, healthcare…” To this Bob Beckel responded that young women have every right to be on juries. Guilfoyle agreed and closed with a quip about going back onto Tinder or Match.com. 

In short, neither Guilfoyle nor anyone else suggested that young women should not vote in the upcoming elections. Not to put too fine a point on it, Media Matters broadcast a blatant lie that was picked up and spread all over the place by leftie media outlets such as the Huffington Post, who were too lazy and credulous to look into the matter themselves. Bob Beckel, who occupies the left-liberal chair on The Five, excoriated Media Matters and its claque on last night’s show.

The Left’s obsession with FNC is becoming truly creepy, if not positively Orwellian. It’s a good thing we still have freedom of speech in this country…despite the Democratic-controlled Senate’s efforts to shred the First Amendment…


Posted by tmg110 at 11:34 AM EDT
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Thursday, 23 October 2014
Aren't They Smart?
Topic: Liberal Fascism

There are studies purporting to show that liberals, as a group, are more intelligent than conservatives. Leaving aside the general dubiety of the social sciences, from whence such studies emanate, one wonders why anybody bothered to conduct them at all. There is, after all, a much simpler way of settling the question: just take a look around.

Down in Washington DC a man by the name of Barack Obama is sitting in the Oval Office. He’s been president for almost six years now and the best that one can say of him is that he’s been a pretty mediocre chief executive. So why is he there? Because in 2007-08 our liberal elites swooned over the guy. Remember what they said about him? Here’s a sample: “Obama’s finest speeches do not excite. They do not inform. They don't even really inspire. They elevate. He is not the Word made flesh, but the triumph of word over flesh. Obama is, at his best, able to call us back to our highest selves.” That was Wonkmeister Ezra Klein, late of the Washington Post, emoting over candidate Obama. Saccharine as it is, I could have quoted far worse. Supposedly intelligent people, graduates of prestige universities trailing strings of post-nominal initials after their names, academics, journalists, pundits and politicians canonized Barack Obama as a kind of secular saint (an judgment with which The One himself did not disagree). No one was cooler, smarter—no one had a better grasp of the issues—no one had evertouched the soul of America in a finer way!

Then it turned out that Barack Obama was a narcissistic, rather lazy half-stepper who, when he found that oracular pronouncements could not halt the oceans’ rise or cut $2,500 annually from the average American family’s healthcare bill, lost interest in the nuts and bolts of governing. So how did all those highly intelligent liberal elites get it so wrong? How was it that they saw in the sharpness of Obama’s trouser creases the signs and portents of greatness?

It’s tempting to conclude that they’re all as dumb as a box of rocks and undoubtedly some are. But Ezra Klein (quoted above) is probably more typical of the breed: a smart guy who’s so impressed with his high IQ that it clouds his judgment. The besetting sin of such people is intellectual vanity: they’re all too easily convinced that their intelligence validates their preferences. In 2007-08, the liberal elite knew what it preferred: the first black president. And they were all too willing to reinforce Obama’s already formidable self-regard.

And of course, there’s the additional problem that the orthodoxies of liberalism often require intelligent people to behave like fools. To be liberal (or if you prefer, progressive) is to believe in things that simply aren’t so, e.g. that there’s no essential difference between men and women. So Barack Obama benefited from an already well-established mental habit. His vacuous rhetoric—“We are the ones we’ve been waiting for”—they received as if it was Part Two of the Sermon on the Mount. I think of this and smile every time I see a forlorn OBAMA 2008 bumper sticker.

Liberals say they’re smarter than conservatives and have the studies to prove it. What they don’t have is a real-world track record to back up that claim. Instead they have, among other unfortunate things, the failed presidency of Barack Obama.

 


Posted by tmg110 at 11:30 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 21 October 2014
Another Test of Leadership--Failed
Topic: Politics & Elections

There have been no new cases of Ebola diagnosed in the United States over the past few days, which is good news generally and good news for President Obama in particular. He has to be greatly relieved to see this little episode receding in the rear-view mirror. What a fiasco! To watch his fumbling response to the Ebola threat has been painful even for me—and I’m no fan of our community organizer-in-chief.

Obama doesn’t seem to understand the president’s role at the center of such a crisis. He acts as if playing it cool, attending a fundraiser or two, playing some golf, showing that he’s not worried, is what the rubes want. (Or maybe he just doesn’t care what the rubes want; that’s certainly a possibility.) And when public concern crystallizes into a specific demand—in this case that commercial air traffic from affected West African countries be suspended—he thinks it’s his job to argue the American public out of such a stupid idea.

Well, maybe suspending commercial air traffic is a bad idea, though it must be said that the arguments against it trotted out by Obama and his team were loess than compelling. Anyhow, it would have done little harm to impose such a ban—and to impose it would have demonstrated that the President was listening to the American people.

No doubt we can all agree that in a crisis situation one of a president’s most important tasks is to calm people’s fears. But to do that you have to take those fears seriously. Even if you know they’re overblown, based on media hysteria, etc., you can’t simply pooh-pooh them. No, you say something along the lines of: “I understand and share your concerns. This is a serious problem but let me assure you that we have the resources to contain Ebola and prevent it from spreading.” This is Leadership 101.

But what did we get instead? In the early going the President and his people did nothing to address people’s understandable fears. When there were mistakes and missteps, understandable in the circumstances, we got bureaucratic doubletalk from a parade of functionaries. Meanwhile, the media were fanning the flames of fear and uncertainty, with much hand-wringing and heavy breathing over the supposed incompetence of the CDC, etc. and so forth. What was needed was a presidential response. But we didn’t get one until the White House realized that Ebola was becoming a serious political problem. Hence the emergency cabinet meetings and the belated appointment of a (probably unnecessary) Ebola czar.

You may say that a public-health emergency goes beyond politics. However desirable such an attitude may be, it’s utopian. If the government is involved it’s political—and that’s particularly true when the person in the Oval Office is a proponent and champion of government. Barack Obama has told us more than once that government is the solution. But actions speak louder than words and in this case, they scream. The incompetence—administrative, political, personal—of the President and his administration have severely damaged the big-government brand.


Posted by tmg110 at 9:32 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 21 October 2014 10:20 AM EDT
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Sunday, 19 October 2014
The Mask Drops
Topic: Liberal Fascism

Liberals, progressives and leftists make a practice of slandering their political foes by equating them with Nazis, Holocaust deniers, serial killers, rapists, etc., etc. But they become positively livid when their own totalitarian proclivities are pointed out. Because, you see, when the Left barges into people’s bedrooms or suppresses speech, that’s okay! It’s being done in the name of inclusion, tolerance, sensitivity—so just shut up!

Take the gay major of Houston, Annise Parker. She got her knickers into a twist over criticism of the city’s gay/transgender-focused Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO). Parker championed this measure, which was enacted last May. Among other things, HERO permits transgender people to use either a male or female restroom. Who knew that free access to the toilet facilities of one’s choice is a burning civil rights issue? Anyhow, this provision of HERO did not receive a cordial reception. It was mocked and derided as the “bathroom bill” and a campaign was launched to get the whole silly thing repealed via referendum. But the city attorney ruled that many of the signatures on the referendum petition were invalid, the question didn’t make it to the ballot. Referendum supporters, arguing that the city attorney’s action was illegal are suing the city. Mayor Parker has promised not to enforce HERO until there’s a court ruling.

But Her Honor was displeased with the opposition, much of which emanated from Houston’s large and influential evangelical community. So guess what Parker did? Pursuant to the court case, she subpoenaed the sermons of several pastors who’ve been particularly outspoken about HERO!

Now you may well wonder how stupid a politician has to be to convince herself that subpoenaing sermons is a good idea. But Parker is a progressive, remember. Moreover she’s gay and therefore can do no wrong. So anyone who criticizes or opposes her must be a homophobe—and homophobes, as every good progressive knows, cannot claim the protection of the First Amendment. Thus Parker’s undoubted stupidity is privileged. No doubt I could be subpoenaed for pointing out her stupidity. And her malice. And her totalitarian mind-set. Not to mention her pusillanimity.

When the predictable storm of protest broke, Parker ducked and covered. She denied knowledge of the subpoenas (supposedly they’d been requested by a couple of pro bono attorneys working for the city) and of course officials denied that they were attempting to intimidate the pastors and other opponents of the HERO. No, all they wanted was information pertaining to the gathering of signatures for the referendum petition. But judge for yourself. Here’s the information the city was seeking: “all speeches, presentations, or sermons related to HERO, the Petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by you or in your possession.”

Annise Parker and her city hall cabal can deny it all they want, but it’s obvious what they were up to: attempting to intimidate and silence their opponents. Nor did they hesitate one second to use—or rather misuse—the authority entrusted to them by the people of Houston. But in their narrow-minded self-righteousness they let the mask drop, exposing the granite visage of the Thought Police.


Posted by tmg110 at 1:13 PM EDT
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Thursday, 16 October 2014
Rachel Nails It
Topic: Politics & Elections

If you’re wondering how next month’s elections are going to go, permit me to sponge away the uncertainty: Republicans are going to expand their majority in the House and take control of the Senate. How do I know this? Because MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow is whining that the GOP is plotting to steal the election. In other words—let the excuse-making begin!

Yes, yes, I’m sure than in their saner moments Maddow and other leftie nosebleeds know that the Democrats’ impending electoral rout is due mainly to the public’s perception of Barack Obama’s incompetence, an image problem fully and justly shared by his party. But though Maddow & Co. would rather sacrifice a limb than admit it, the problem goes deeper. “Answer: raise taxes! Now what was the question?” That pretty much sums up the Democratic governing philosophy in the Age of the Lightbringer. As for campaign strategy, bombast about “inequality” and the “war on women” falls flat at the feet of Mr. & Ms. Flyover America, who’d just like to see the economy performing as it did when Ronald Reagan and even Bill Clinton were hanging out in the Oval Office.

But whine on, Rachel. Your lament is music to my ears…


Posted by tmg110 at 9:37 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 14 October 2014
End Times Update
Topic: Decline of the West

To look at the Drudge Report recently you’d think that the world is coming to an end in the style of Stephen King’s The Stand. Ebola! It’s here! Be afraid, America! Be very afraid! This in reaction to a single new case in Dallas,  Texas: a nurse who was closely involved in the treatment of Thomas Duncan, the Liberian who brought Ebola to the United States. The fact that the nurse became infected despite wearing “full protective gear” has caused much hand-wringing on TV and the Web.

So should we press the panic button? Well, no. In a nation of 300,000,000+ people, one single case of Ebola is not catastrophic. This disease is deadly but not particularly contagious; to contract it requires close contact with bodily fluids: blood, saliva, vomit, etc. For that very reason it was always to be expected that a doctor or nurse, closely involved in Duncan’s care, might become infected. Nor are protective measures proof against accident or human error—a “breach in protocol” as CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden put it.

While the Obama Administration’s hesitant and fumbling response to the Ebola crisis needlessly alarmed the public and created a major public-relations problem, the CDC’s response seems to have been reasonably competent. And really, the possibility of a major Ebola epidemic in the United States is close to zero. There may be more cases but fortunately we live in a modern nation with a sophisticated public health infrastructure. So calm down, America! The End of the World has not yet arrived.


Posted by tmg110 at 9:53 PM EDT
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Thursday, 9 October 2014
Palestinian Dreaming
Topic: Decline of the West

There’s no denying that Israel has a serious public-relations problem.

Over the past thirty years or so Jewish state’s image as a small, heroic nation of pioneers and warriors has faded out. The postmodern colonialist narrative of people like the late Edward Said combined with traditional Arab anti-Semitism to produce a new and far less flattering image: the ugly caricature of an imperialist, racist colonial overlord. Things have gone so far that people who think themselves progressive and enlightened do not blush to compare Israel to Nazi Germany, the plight of the Palestinian people to the Holocaust.

The long-range aim of these people—Western progressives and Jew-hating Arabs—is to delegitimize Israel and demoralize its people. Eventually, its enemies, the Jews will lose heart and give up their dream of a Jewish state. And if the end of Israel is accompanied by pogroms and perhaps even genocide…oh well, the Jews will have only themselves to blame.

It’s certainly plausible to suppose that the unremitting hostility of the “world community” will eventually have that effect. Are not the people of Israel sick and tired of their quasi-fascist government? Are not they clamoring for peace at any price? Well, no. As Jonathan Tobin explains in this post on the Commentary “Contentions” blog, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to win a third consecutive term, this time with a solidly right-wing majority. His current centrist allies are expected to fare poorly in the elections probably to take place next year, while the peace-at-any-price Israeli Left has lost all credibility. This is so despite Netanyahu’s lack of personal popularity both at home and abroad. How is it possible?

The short answer is that Netanyahu’s policies reflect Israeli public opinion, which has given up all hope of concluding a peace agreement with the Palestinians. As Tobin notes, most Israelis would be happy to be rid of responsibility for the West Bank. They see, however, that the Palestinian Authority has no intention of negotiating a peace settlement that recognizes Israel’s right to exist and its legitimate security concerns. The recent Gaza crisis only reinforced these views. Until the Palestinians have a change of heart, until they give up their fantasies of the destruction of the Jewish state, Israeli public opinion is content to let the peace process stagnate.

This explains why the Obama Administration’s confrontational policy toward Israel has failed to bear fruit. It was based on the idea that by brow-beating Israel, Obama & Co. could turn Israeli public opinion against Netanyahu and produce a government more amenable to the President’s views. In fact, though, Obama’s bullying has had the opposite effect, convincing a strong majority of Israelis that he’s no friend of their country. The credibility thus lost by the US president has been credited to the political account of the Israeli prime minister.

The ultimate losers are, of course, the wretched Palestinian people. Their leaders will never agree to a peace settlement that might spell the end of their own power. Their supporters in Europe and America merely encourage the delusion of a Jew-free Palestine that makes a genuine peace agreement possible. The American president has spent the past five years alienating the Israeli people and destroying their faith in the peace process. When one’s great friends are more of a threat than one’s deadly enemies, an agonizing reappraisal is in order. But it does seem that the Palestinian people are prepared to pay a high price for the maintenance of their dream world.


Posted by tmg110 at 8:39 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 9 October 2014 12:02 PM EDT
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Wednesday, 8 October 2014
What's for Lunch? Don't Ask!
Topic: Liberal Fascism

Back in 2008-09 there were fears on the Right that Michelle Obama would prove to be her husband’s éminence grise, operating behind the curtain to impose Hyde Park-style socialism on Flyover America. Then Michelle turned out to be pretty much of a diva and we all relaxed. Sure, I have no doubt that she whispers her opinions into Barry’s ear from time to time but the man has too much self-regard to take anybody’s advice, even his wife’s. What the President wants is what he gets from Valerie Jarrett above all: unqualified hero worship.

Like all modern First Ladies, Michelle Obama looked around for a cause in whose service she could labor: in her case, child nutrition. Sounds pretty innocuous, eh? But somehow the whole thing has blown up in the First Lady’s face. It’s not hard to see why. As a good progressive Michelle adopted the authoritarian top-down approach: If they’re eating cake let them cut that out and eat their veggies instead. Her campaign focused on school lunch programs which since they’re heavily subsidized by the federal government are vulnerable to bureaucratic shoe-squeezing. Out with the bad (sweets, soda pop, salt, fat, etc.) and in with the good (fruits, veggies, portion control).

Whatever the nutritional virtues of School Lunch by Michelle, it takes little account of human psychology; the assumption seems to be that the kids will eat what’s put in front of them. That Michelle Obama, a mother of two, assumed so is rather hilarious. Now the inevitable has happened: From coast to coast kids (and their parents and even some schools) are rising in revolt against the skimpy, unappetizing fare being slapped on their trays by bureaucratic fiat. They simply refuse to eat what’s put in front of them.

Yes, yes, I know—the First Lady’s intentions were of the best. The same is true of many projects of progressivism, large and small. That they produce results similar to Michelle Obama’s school lunch fiasco should teach the Left something but somehow never does…


Posted by tmg110 at 2:42 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 9 October 2014 7:39 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 7 October 2014
The End of Naomi?
Topic: Liberal Fascism

It’s pleasant to recall that I excoriated Naomi Wolf and her zany anti-Bush screed, The End of America, back in 2008—very appropriately, on April Fool’s Day. Not the least delicious morsel of this memory is the chorus of praise that The End of America attracted from the leftie fever swamps, e.g. this prize piece of idiocy: “At once a brilliant indictment of the Bush administration, The End of America, explains in blunt terms how the last 7 years have paralleled the same steps taken during the 20th century that led to the dictatorships of Italy, Russia, China, Germany, and Chile.” Yeah, blunt. And thoroughly demented.

At the time I took Wolf for an extreme exemplar of Bush Derangement Syndrome but it appears that her problems go deeper than that. For in the years since Chimpy McBushitler disappeared into retirement, Wolf’s paranoia and craziness have only grown. In fact, as Charles C.W. Cook recounts in this item for National Review Online, the demented diva of doom is still warning of an American fascist apocalypse—in the Age of Barry! For example, she’s running around shrieking that the US government is using the Ebola crisis as a convenient pretext for the imposition of martial law. You can read all about this and more on Wolf’s Facebook page.

Progressives and lefties like to make fun of the Right’s occasional obsessions: Obama’s supposedly suspect citizenship status, Second Amendment fundamentalism, etc. But if anything, the obsessions of the Left are far more unhinged. Thinking of Wolf, I’m reminded also of Andrew Sullivan’s weird fixation on Sarah Palin’s gynecological history and of Al Gore’s fantasy map of drowned Florida. Moreover it seems that once you develop a taste for such hyperbole it rapidly develops into an addiction. If her Facebook page is any indication, Naomi Wolf sees fascists, agents of SPECTRE, vampires, zombies and Little Green Men everywhere. She’s even retailing the claim that shadowy royalist forces suppressed the pro-independence vote in the recent Scottish referendum. Check out her extended analysis of the bogus ballot barcodes!

Even many on the Left have finally had enough of Wolf; see this disdainful January 2013 article by Mark Nucklos in the Atlantic. Well, better late than never. But Wolf, like Noam Chomsky, will no doubt drive on, her path strewn with palm branches, the hosannas of her loyal fan base ringing in her ears—but no attendant in the chariot with her to deliver the occasional whispered admonition, “Remember, thou art as loony as a junkyard rat.”


Posted by tmg110 at 8:37 AM EDT
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Friday, 3 October 2014
A Prophet Deserving No Honor
Topic: Liberal Fascism

Via another Web venue I was directed to this review of the first volume of Richard Dawkins’ memoirs, An Appetite for Wonder: The Makings of a Scientist. The reviewer, John Gray is emeritus professor of European thought at the London School of Economics.

Dawkins has become famous—some would say notorious—as the scientific face of militant atheism. Trained as a scientist, he gave up active research in the 1970s, embarking on a career as a…what? Enemy of religion? Prophet of scientific rationalism? In numerous books, Dawkins has not only criticized but mocked and caricatured religion and its practitioners. His is the most forceful voice preaching the doctrine of the (self-described) reality-based community: that “good science” provides the only organizing principle that humanity needs. Darwin good, God bad.

This notion—one hesitates to call it an idea—is widely held in progressive circles and so has thus become a factor in politics. Climate change activists embrace it with fervor, pointing to a “scientific consensus” that in their minds forecloses all debate. For many people, few of them scientifically trained, the imprimatur of “Science” (the capital S reverberates) trumps every ace. 

A certain phrase came irresistibly to mind comes as I contemplated Dawkins’ scientism—in Gray’s formulation “the positivistic creed according to which science is the only source of knowledge and the key to human liberation.” That phrase is “modern scientific religion” and I hasten to add that I can’t claim credit for coining it. It’s to be found it in Olaf Stapledon’s Last and First Men (1930), a novel of ideas far beyond the grasp of Richard Dawkins’ narrowly circumscribed imagination.

Last and First Men, a fictional future history of humanity, begins with an account of the decline and fall of the first human species—H. sapiens. The chief symptom of that fall is the degeneration of science. Stapledon describes how the “once fluid doctrines of science” crystallize into a kind of scientific fundamentalism—“modern scientific religion”—that tyrannizes over the collective consciousness of the race for 4,000 years. When the terminal crisis—an energy crisis—arrives, humanity lacks the mental agility to cope and civilization falls to pieces. Scientific positivism, in short, is the death warrant of the intellect.

All this constitutes a powerful if indirect critique of Dawkins’ scientism. Stapledon thought that humanity’s spiritual cravings could not be eliminated, but only suppressed and corrupted, by a narrow rationalism. The history of socialism, supposedly a scientific ideology based on facts and analysis, bears out the truth of this insight. The spiritual impulses that underpin religion can just as easily be channeled into politics. And the True Believer—in socialism, fascism, science—usually turns out to be no less doctrinaire, no less intolerant, than the most fanatical Islamist.

In his review of Dawkins’ memoir Professor Gray touches on many of these chords. On the whole his tone is moderate but from time to time a certain disdain breaks through: “One might wager a decent sum of money that it has never occurred to Dawkins that to many people he appears as a comic figure. His default mode is one of rational indignation—a stance of withering patrician disdain for the untutored mind of a kind one might expect in a schoolmaster in a minor public school sometime in the 1930s.” A touch there—a distinct touch.

As a postmodern public intellectual Richard Dawkins displays traits typical of the breed: intellectual snobbery, inveterate bigotry, narrow-minded dogmatism. One could call him, indeed, the Barack Obama of scientism.


Posted by tmg110 at 8:35 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 3 October 2014 9:08 AM EDT
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