Displaying posts categorized under

OPINION

Captain the Illiterate! by Mark Steyn

The fallout from the presidential s***hole continues. On the one hand, Republican senator Lindsay Graham pushes back against Trump:

I’ve always believed that America is an idea, not defined by its people but by its ideals.

On the other hand, most of us don’t get to live in an “idea”, but in something rather less abstract called “reality”, which is for better or worse “defined by its people”:

Not far from where I’m writing this, the kosher butcher shop is long gone; across the street, the church that once stood tall is now boarded up.

But next to it stands a mosque newly built and freshly painted. English in the neighborhood is a foreign tongue and nobody knows Frank Sinatra.

The boys don’t play stickball. The girls in their veils don’t play hopscotch and all the cabs are driven by men from Somalia and Afghanistan.

Strangers are not greeted warmly.

That’s a snapshot of what troubles President Trump…not the mosque, but the culture shift.

The novelist Martin Amis once described me as “a great sayer of the unsayable”. Since then, a lot more has gotten unsayable. So saying it becomes a revolutionary act: That’s what Donald Trump did in June 2015 when he came down the escalator and started talking about Mexico “not sending us their best”. “S***hole countries” is going down better with his supporters than almost anything he’s said since. At this stage, there would be disappointment if it turned out he hadn’t said it; the lack of s**t would hit the fans, badly.

The soft totalitarianism of our time – as manifested by CNN, Lindsay Graham et al having the vapors over Trump – requires that ever more should go unsaid other than the self-flattering sentimentalism of the Official Lie. When you discuss immigration, you’re supposed to say, “Well, my Guatemalan pool-boy is the hardest-working fellow I know” – or start yakking about your Moldovan grandfather. That’s it, that’s all. The notion that it’s public policy, not a heartwarming Hallmark Channel movie of the week, and that those public-policy needs might have changed since the days of Tsarist pogroms, must never be allowed to take hold.

The great question is whether the romance of Senator Graham’s “idea’ is so seductive it will utterly overwhelm reality – as it has in the scene from Paris at top right. The City of Light is becoming, as an Irish Trump would say, the City of Sh*te.

~Some countries are full of s**t, other countries are full of shorts. From The Derby Telegraph:

Derby terrorist Munir Mohammed was strict Muslim who told his neighbour off for wearing shorts

The neighbor pushed back:

There is nothing wrong with shorts.

Mr Mohammed is “a Sudanese asylum seeker who arrived in the back of a lorry in February 2014”, having been misinformed as to the prevalence of shorts in the United Kingdom. Seeking an accomplice to help him blow up his adopted but short-ridden country, he went to the online dating website SingleMuslim.com and was instantly smitten by Rowaida el-Hassan:

He sent her gory videos of IS executions, including some carried out by children.

She asked him to “send more” and helped guide him to the right chemicals for his bomb.

That’s some serious sexual chemistry.

The Humanitarian Hoax of Common Core: Killing America With Kindness – hoax 19 by Linda Goudsmit

The Humanitarian Hoax is a deliberate and deceitful tactic of presenting a destructive policy as altruistic. The humanitarian huckster presents himself as a compassionate advocate when in fact he is the disguised enemy.

Obama, the humanitarian huckster-in-chief, weakened the United States for eight years presenting his crippling Common Core advocacy as altruistic when in fact it was designed for destruction. His legacy, the Leftist Democrat Party with its “Resistance” movement, is the party of the Humanitarian Hoax attempting to destroy the capitalist infrastructure of American democracy and replace it with socialism.

Common Core is a deliberate information war targeting American children. It is a deceitful campaign to undermine established American Judeo-Christian cultural norms celebrating patriotism, the meritocracy, and American sovereignty. The Leftist/Islamist axis is promoting collectivism in preparation for one-world government. This is how it works.

Serious educational reform enacted by the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001 was designed to provide high standards and measurable goals to improve individual outcomes in education. Federal funding was correlated to test performance. Rather than improving education the net effect of NCLB was education reformatted to teach to the tests. Education critic Alfie Kohn argued that the “NCLB law is ‘unredeemable’ and should be scrapped – its main effect has been to sentence poor children to an endless regimen of test-preparation drills.” There were loud calls for reform.

Enter Common Core State Standards (CCSS) launched under Obama in 2009 deceptively marketed by a propaganda campaign emphasizing the positive benefits of national standards and uniformity in curriculum guidelines with measurable effectiveness for American public education K-12. Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are mistakenly understood to be a derivative of the No Child Left Behind Act – they aren’t.

Obama’s 2009 Race To The Top program was introduced as a competitive grant program that awarded points to states for satisfying performance-based evaluations of teachers and principals based on measures of educator effectiveness. Sound familiar? It should because measurable effectiveness = student test scores. Even though Race to the Top did not mandate adoption of Common Core, to receive federal stimulus money states had to “commit” to adopting Common Core standards. Forty-two states now operate public and private education under the Common Core program.

Of Sellouts, Sepoys and Superheroes by Mark Steyn

There was almost too much news these last 24 hours:

~As listeners to yesterday’s Q&A well know, my view is that mass transformative immigration is an existential threat to western civilization. That’s why Trump caught my eye two-and-a-half years ago, and that’s why I re-emphasized the point a week-and-a-half ago: his presidency will stand or fall on immigration. There’s no market for a Trump who suddenly decides, whaddayaknow, Mexico is sending us its best.

Was yesterday the Humpty-Trumpty Falls Off The Wall moment? The soi-disant immigration hardliners at VDare are oddly relaxed about it; Ann Coulter (the “lowest day” of Trump’s presidency) and Tucker Carlson (“What was the point of running for president?”) are not. As an unassimilated foreigner, I’m not sure I’m 100 per cent on top of Tucker’s Chicago Cubs/World Series analogy, but, if I get the gist of it, I think it’s a sportier version of my immigration-is-all point. That said, I spent much of yesterday talking about the subject in a European context, so I’ll save my extended thoughts for later in the week.

Nonetheless, in the scheme of things, President Trump’s ability to crush Steve Bannon like a bug and piss all over a three-day teacup-storm like Michael Wolff is less important than whether or not he still has the determination or inclination to crush like a bug the open-borders loons in both parties and extinguish apparently indestructible bipartisan euphemisms like “comprehensive immigration reform”. That last evasion leads to the Californication of the entire electoral map. In 2016, a Republican year, the supposed GOP bastion of Orange County voted for the Democrat presidential candidate for the first time since 1936. Why do you think such healthy middle-aged Republican congressmen as Darrell Issa are deciding to “retire”?

~No man is a superhero to his valet: The latest sex-fiend swept up in the ongoing Pervnado is Marvel Comics supremo Stan Lee, who, unlike his creations, likes to get out of the long underwear. I met the great man when I was covering the Democrat Convention in 2000, so yes, put another one in the Dem column. For those of us a-wearying of Spider-Man reboots every fortnight (see my closing paragraph here), the question is:

a) Will they simply do as they’ve done to Garrison Keillor on NPR, Charlie Rose on PBS and Jonathan Schwartz on WNYC and vaporize the guy’s entire oeuvre, including all those godawful Reboot-Man vs the Fantastic Franchisers post-origin pre-sequels? In which case, there’ll be nothing at the multiplex except The Emoji Movie, The Lego Movie, The Lego Emoji Movie and The Lego Darkest Hour in 3D.

Of Home Truths and Shitholes By Roger Kimball

It is curious how close certain seemingly contrary emotions can be. Consider, to take just one example, the feelings of glee and outrage. At first blush, they seem very different. Glee occupies a positive register in the metabolism of human emotions. There is such thing as malicious glee, of course—the German word schadenfreude captures that perfectly. But by and large, I believe, glee is a sunny, allegro emotion.

Outrage, on the contrary, is a dour beast. It glowers. It fulminates. It glories in moral indignation, which it eagerly manufactures whenever it is in short supply.

And it is there, in the manufacture, affectation, the pretense, of moral indignation that that outrage shades in smarmy gleefulness. You can see this in operation right now, today, by the simple expedient of turning to CNN and watching commentator after commentator explode in gleeful outrage over Donald Trump’s alleged comments about the relative desirability of immigrants from countries like Norway, on the one hand, and countries like Haiti, El Salvador, and various apparently unnamed African countries on the other. (I say “alleged” not because I doubt the substance of the report, but simply because the president has disputed some details of the reporting.)

Two questions: Were all those commentators at CNN (and the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other purveyors of sanctimony)—were they more delighted or unhappy about the president’s comment? Think carefully before answering.

Sometimes, the experience of outrage, and its accompanying moral indignation, is essentially a feeling of displeasure—at a wrong done or suffered, an injustice or cruelty observed, etc.

But sometimes, outrage is but a patina of indignation whose chief motive is incontinent delight. Which is it for the talking heads at CNN? Are they genuinely morally offended by the president’s comments? Or are they really absolutely delighted by the opportunity he has given them to say “shithole” over and over again while also running endless chyrons reminding viewers that the president referred to (if he did refer to) Haiti, El Salvador, etc., as “shithole countries” from which we should not seek immigrants?

Why Have We Let Actors Become Our Moral Guides? Those in what was once a disreputable profession have come to be worshiped by the public at large. By Jonah Goldberg

There’s a great scene in the wonderful 1982 movie My Favorite Year, which is set in 1954. Peter O’Toole plays a semi-washed-up actor named Alan Swann, famous for swashbuckling roles. For reasons too complicated to explain here, Swann tries to shimmy down the side of a building using a fire hose. He ends up dangling just below a cocktail party on a balcony. Two stockbrokers are chatting when one of them notices Swann swinging below them. “I think Alan Swann is beneath us!” he exclaims.

The second stockbroker replies: “Of course he’s beneath us. He’s an actor.”

It may be hard for some people to get the joke these days, but for most of human history, actors were considered low-class. They were akin to carnies, grifters, hookers, and other riffraff.

In ancient Rome, actors were often slaves. In feudal Japan, Kabuki actors were sometimes available to the theatergoers as prostitutes — a practice not uncommon among theater troupes in the American Wild West. In 17th century England, France, and America, theaters were widely considered dens of iniquity, turpitude, and crapulence. Under Oliver Cromwell’s Puritan dictatorship, the theaters were forced to close to improve moral hygiene. The Puritans of New England did likewise. A ban on theaters in Connecticut imposed in 1800 stayed on the books until 1952.

Partly out of a desire develop a wartime economy, partly out of disdain for the grubbiness of the stage, the first Continental Congress in 1774 proclaimed, “We will, in our several stations, . . . discountenance and discourage every species of extravagance and dissipation, especially all horse-racing, and all kinds of gaming, cock-fighting, exhibitions of shews [sic], plays, and other expensive diversions and entertainments.”

Needless to say, times have changed. And I suppose I have to say they’ve changed for the better. But that’s a pretty low bar. I don’t think acting is a dishonorable profession, and I’m steadfastly opposed to banning plays, musicals, movies, and TV shows.

But in our collective effort to correct the social stigmas of the past, can anyone deny that we’ve overshot the mark?

Watch the TV series Inside the Actors Studio sometime. It’s an almost religious spectacle of ecstatic obsequiousness and shameless sycophancy. Host James Lipton acts like some ancient Greek priest given an audience with Zeus, coming up just shy of washing the feet of actors with tears of orgiastic joy. I mean, I like Tom Hanks, too. But I’m not sure starring in Turner & Hooch (one of my favorite movies) bestows oracular moral authority.

Sex vs. Political Correctness? By Angelo Codevilla

The Left has some reason to worry that the newfound solicitude for sexual propriety spread by #MeToo might overflow the traditional bounds of political-correctness-as-weapon.

No different from demands regarding race and identity politics generally, the strictures of political correctness concerning sex do not define rights and wrongs. Rather, they claim authority to suppress such evils as the powerful may impute to their enemies. They also serve the ruling class’s war against Western Civilization. But current demands for “sensitivity” for women’s sense of sexual self-worth, rather than merely enhancing the power of better-connected people over less-connected ones, might actually lead America to consider what proper or improper sexual behavior is.

Neither P.C.’s partisan nature nor its corrosion of our civilization are in doubt. Elsewhere, I showed that Communists originated the term to distinguish between the “correctness” of what serves the Party’s interest from that which is factually correct—and that the Party’s paramount long-term interest lies in overcoming the reality that human beings perceive through the senses and reason with the Party’s “correct” version thereof.

Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937), the most durably influential of Communist theoreticians, had argued that re-orienting the popular mind away from the cultural icons of Western Civilization would anchor the Party’s power to a cultural hegemony impossible to break. Gramsci’s argument is all too well rooted in modern thought since Machiavelli, and cultural destruction has been part of every revolutionary movement at least since the French Revolution.

The fundamental problem with cultural revolution is that it is easier to destroy cultures than to replace them. The end-states sought are inherently undefinable. Each and every revolutionary will have his own ideas of what is proper and improper. Since those ideas must be bound up with the struggles of each for his own power. As the revolutionaries clash, incoherence is guaranteed. Beyond that, No matter what the revolutionaries do to disorient people, human nature’s magnetic needles always end up pointing people away from that which is merely politically correct.

Of all human nature’s aspects, sex is among the most intractable to political power. Soviet teaching (see Marx and Engels’ “The Origins of the Family”) and policy reflected the Marxist notion that humans are animals, and the sexes are equally self-interested. As Soviet family policy see-sawed, natural families were wrecked. Powerful males lorded over females, as it is in the animal world, and females then acted defensively or manipulatively toward men. Russia is not a happy place, and its population is declining.

Here and now, a New York Times op-ed by Daphne Merkin reflects the sense growing among erstwhile P.C. revolutionaries of the feminist kind that they have been on the wrong path. Their most immediate concern is ordinary partisanship. Merkin and her friends find it “troubling” that men such as “Garrison Keillor, Jonathan Schwartz, Ryan Lizza and Al Franken” have been hurt by accusations they regard as unspecific and unproven. OK. But logic then leads to asking what behavior it should take to disqualify even such worthy people. Political correctness has no answers. “Scattershot, life-destroying denunciations” are not enough. “Due process is nowhere to be found.”

Hold the Fire, Hold the Fury People can’t stop talking about Donald Trump. Imagine how pleasant lunch would be if they did. By Joseph Epstein

I met a friend last week for a 90-minute lunch and, mirabile dictu, the name Donald Trump did not come up. I say that this was miraculous because it is rare to go more than an hour without Mr. Trump’s name cropping up in conversation, just about any conversation. In the lobby of my building, in our elevators, neighbors bring it up. The news—television, print, internet—is riddled with it. In front of the Whole Foods where I sometimes shop, a man in baroque sunglasses wearing a blue-and-white striped cape collects money he claims is for anti-Trump rallies.

Every Friday I meet for lunch with three or four friends from high-school days. Some while ago I instituted at these lunches what I called the No Trump Rule: “No” not in the sense of being against Mr. Trump’s politics but against talking about him at all, for doing so seems to get everyone worked up unduly. The rule, I have to report, has been broken more than the Ten Commandments. No one, apparently, can stop talking about our president.

The problem, for me, is that most of the talk isn’t highly intelligent. Instead it is vituperative, though cloaked in astonishment. Many sentences begin, “Can you believe . . .” Liberals wish to demonstrate their superior virtue by attacking Mr. Trump; conservatives wish to show their strong sense of reality in defending him. Neither are very convincing. Meanwhile the conversation, like flies in the soup, tends to spoil the lunch. CONTINUE AT SITE

Previous presidents have attracted mockery, disgust, hatred. At a brief meeting more than 50 years ago, Mort Sahl joked to me that a planned meeting between President Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson had to be canceled because the translator didn’t show up. I’ve known people who loathed Jimmy Carter, others who have long thought the Clintons irrevocably tainted by scandal. I was once at a dinner party of 12 where everyone at the table had something derisive to say about George W. Bush, until the woman seated at my right remarked that it seemed to her a sadness that the country couldn’t come up with more impressive people than the Clintons and the Bushes to lead the country. CONTINUE AT SITE

JOAN SWIRSKY: MOURNING IN AMERICA

LIBERAL GRAVE JUMPERS

Not long after the November 2016 presidential election, I was at a luncheon surrounded by a large group of powerful, sophisticated, and formidably wealthy women, actually full-bore capitalists––dripping in diamonds and wearing pricey designer outfits––who all voted for the Socialist Hillary for president and twice for the Marxist poseur “president” Barack Obama.

At casual glance, you would think this gathering was a lavishly catered fundraiser for a good cause, with gorgeous flowers on display and wine flowing. But in truth it more resembled a wake.

“It’s not fair,” one woman lamented, echoing the age-old mantra of the left, and completely oblivious to the fact that most Hillary voters would consider it “not fair” to be wearing a seven-carat diamond ring and driving to a fancy luncheon in a Bentley when this privileged woman could––progressives believe actually should––be “sharing her wealth” with the deserving masses!

“Everything we worked for is lost,” another diva announced––“what will happen to choice?”––again referring to the Holy Grail of the left, i.e. ending the lives of living fetuses who simply need a few more months of in-utero development to become vibrant human beings, babies who would be adored by millions of would-be adoptive parents throughout the world.

Significantly, none of the leftist women I encountered at the luncheon has defected to Cuba or Russia or China to prove how ideologically pure they are or how genuine their belief is in socialism or communism. Au contraire…all of them keep living the high life while they keep telling the rest of us not to wear fur coats, not to drive gas-guzzling cars, not to send our kids to private schools, on and on, while, to a person, they do exactly the opposite of what they pretend to stand for!

This luncheon was held a couple of weeks before the National Day of Mourning on January 21, 2017––also known as the Women’s March on Washington––in which thousands of women gathered to express their shock and fury at Hillary’s loss of the presidency.

Peter Smith A Glass Half-Full of Delusion

As a pessimist, I’m part of that small but vitally important segment of humanity congenitally disposed to anticipate the worst. Yes, we live in an age of ‘progress’, but how much comfort can be drawn from our age of marvels when youths of African appearance are kicking in your granny’s door?

Our parents’ generation, inferior to that of our grandparents, brought forth ourselves who are more worthless still and are destined to have children yet more corrupt
— Horace, 65 – 8 BC

Clearly Horace was pessimistic about progress. So was Malcolm Muggeridge, who Paul Phillips in Contesting the Moral High Ground quotes from an address to a Catholic assembly. Muggeridge, he wrote, went on, rightly or wrongly, to assume that “no notion of such a ridiculous thing as progress has ever been put in your heads. If it has, dismiss it at once. There are various things that human beings can do; but there is one thing they can’t do, and that is progress.”

Let me put Tom Switzer in this exalted company. Writing in the SMH (“Gloom, doom and optimism,” 26 December) he expressed an exuberance of positivity. Prominent in his mixed bag of auspicious happenings were declining world poverty, the collapse of the Soviet Union, medical advances, and increased life expectancy. Surprisingly, for a conservative, he trotted out the canard that even when ISIS was in its pomp “you were more likely to drown in the bath than die in terrorist violence.” At least he avoided scary falling fridges. But that is by the way.

Let us go back to 1928, with economic collapse imminent and Hitler, Tojo and human misery on a vast scale only a decade or so away. Economies were booming, Alexander Fleming had just discovered antibiotics, the Ottoman Empire had collapsed, you were more likely to drown in your bath than be killed by an anarchist bomb. My point: potted accounts of progress are seriously deficient in informing us about the state of play and, more particularly, about the near and not-so-near future.

You can look at today and find promise. Equally (more than equally), you can find omens of gloom and doom without looking too hard. Think of the threats.

North Korea, and probably soon enough Iran, with nuclear arsenals. The inundation of Europe with Muslim refugees and the rise of Islam more generally in and outside the West. Chinese expansionism. Russian imperialism. According to the UN (July 2015) the world’s population will have grown by 2.4 billion as of 2050, of which half will come out of Africa. And ‘come out’ a lot of them will, seeking refuge in the West. Anyone who finds any of this promising is definitionally a cock-eyed optimist.

And if this isn’t enough, we have Christianity, the foundation of our civilisation, falling away. We have self-loathing leftists running schools, universities and most of the media. Our politicians, apart from Trump and a few others, have a fetish for putting their citizens second to whatever is the international cause du jour (e.g., global warming or accommodating the never-ending hordes of refugees). Children are being presented with untoward sexual material as part of their “education”. The list goes on. Optimism doesn’t cut it for me; though I see it around me unaccountably. Why? Well, perhaps, because it is part of human nature.

There is evidently a predisposition to optimism among the human race. This might be an evolutionary personality trait which allows us to deal better with life’s difficulties. Psychologists Charles Carver and Michael Scheier, who have written widely on the subject, suggest in the Handbook of Positive Psychology (Oxford, 2002) that “optimists are less distressed when times are tough, cope in ways that foster better outcomes, and are better at taking steps to ensure that their futures continue to be bright.” However, beware: “Too much optimism might lead people to ignore a threat until it is too late … optimists may fail to protect themselves against threats…” This is backed by author Kai Erikson in Everything in its Path, which tells the human story of a West Virginia town devastated by a flash flood and its aftermath:

“One of the bargains men make with one another in order to maintain their sanity is to share an illusion that they are safe, even when the physical evidence in the world around them does not seem to warrant that conclusion.”

The Fractal Wrongness of Leftist Ideology by Linda Goudsmit

What is fractal wrongness? Let’s begin with a fractal. A fractal is a geometric pattern that repeats itself at every level of magnification. Mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot introduced fractal geometry in 1975 and defined a fractal as “a geometric shape that can be separated into parts, each of which is a reduced-scale version of the whole.” This means that a fractal is a self-similar never-ending pattern that repeats itself at different scales.

The famous Menger sponge is a fractal in math. Fractals in nature are trees, rivers, lightning bolts, and crystals. Russian nesting dolls are fractals. In computer science fractals are images that are the same at any level of scale which means that it is impossible to determine how much the image is zoomed by simply looking at it.

Fractal wrongness is the state of being wrong at every conceivable scale of resolution – the person’s entire worldview is wrong. The political Left has decided that anyone who disagrees with their platform of political correctness, moral relativism, and historical revisionism is fractally wrong. Fractal wrongness explains why the Left views the entire worldview of conservatives as wrong, deplorable, and contemptible.

Leftism, like any orthodoxy, has embraced its tenets with religious zealotry and a tyrannical demand for conformity that ignores obvious contradictions in its own narrative. Leftists, who pride themselves on being tolerant, are hypocritically intolerant of anyone who embraces a world view that differs from their own. Leftist faux tolerance only tolerates those who look different – it does not tolerate those who think differently. This presents a philosophical inconsistency that Leftism solves with Leftist Newspeak, the official language of the Left.

Newspeak is the language of George Orwell’s dystopian city Oceania described in his classic novel 1984. Newspeak is the language of official propaganda in Oceania that was created to replace Oldspeak – standard English. Newspeak replaces the meaning of a familiar word with its unfamiliar opposite. The key to translating Newspeak is thinking in opposites.

Leftist Newspeak is the language of opposites that imitates taqiyyah – deliberately lying or obfuscating to further Islam. The Islamic world understands the word peace to mean when all the world is Islamic. The Western world understands the word peace to mean pluralism, tolerance, and the absence of conflict. Leftist Newspeak interprets peace as manifest when all the Western world embraces Leftism. Taqiyyah and Leftist Newspeak share an intentional replacement of one set of meanings for another. Leftist Newspeak is the language of contronyms.