A matched set about the PC train wreck that is California’s higher education system

California used to have the finest public education system in America.  It wasn’t lack of funding that killed it; it was Leftist corruption and insanity.  Don’t believe me?  Read these two articles.

From Bruce Kesler:  Important Report On The Sinkhole That Is Higher Education

From Donald Douglas: California State Colleges and Universities May Screen for Sexual Orientation in Admissions Applications

Moderating the sexual revolution

Yesterday, I riffed on James Taranto’s post regarding whether the sexual revolution bell can be un-rung.  I don’t think we can go back to the way things were before — time does, after all, run forward, not backwards — but I do think we are still in a position to moderate its worst excesses.  With that in mind, I looked to the way the staid, even repressive, Victorian era followed upon, and was a reaction to the licentious rapacity of the Georgian period.

Taranto provided more food for thought, because he published an interview with Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who spoke not only about ObamaCare but also about the sexual revolution.  I think Dolan’s thoughts are a nice complement to my ideas about re-elevating sexual morality to a public virtue (emphasis mine):

What about the argument that vast numbers of Catholics ignore the church’s teachings about sexuality? Doesn’t the church have a problem conveying its moral principles to its own flock? “Do we ever!” the archbishop replies with a hearty laugh. “I’m not afraid to admit that we have an internal catechetical challenge—a towering one—in convincing our own people of the moral beauty and coherence of what we teach. That’s a biggie.”

For this he faults the church leadership. “We have gotten gun-shy . . . in speaking with any amount of cogency on chastity and sexual morality.” He dates this diffidence to “the mid- and late ’60s, when the whole world seemed to be caving in, and where Catholics in general got the impression that what the Second Vatican Council taught, first and foremost, is that we should be chums with the world, and that the best thing the church can do is become more and more like everybody else.”

The “flash point,” the archbishop says, was “Humanae Vitae,” Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical reasserting the church’s teachings on sex, marriage and reproduction, including its opposition to artificial contraception. It “brought such a tsunami of dissent, departure, disapproval of the church, that I think most of us—and I’m using the first-person plural intentionally, including myself—kind of subconsciously said, ‘Whoa. We’d better never talk about that, because it’s just too hot to handle.’ We forfeited the chance to be a coherent moral voice when it comes to one of the more burning issues of the day.”

Without my having raised the subject, he adds that the church’s sex-abuse scandal “intensified our laryngitis over speaking about issues of chastity and sexual morality, because we almost thought, ‘I’ll blush if I do. . . . After what some priests and some bishops, albeit a tiny minority, have done, how will I have any credibility in speaking on that?’”

Yet the archbishop says he sees a hunger, especially among young adults, for a more authoritative church voice on sexuality. “They will be quick to say, ‘By the way, we want you to know that we might not be able to obey it. . . . But we want to hear it. And in justice, you as our pastors need to tell us, and you need to challenge us.’”

That hunger is the beginning of the Victorian revival.

Barack Obama to supporters: Give me the money, dammit!

Those of us conservatives who are signed up to Barack Obama’s mailing list enjoy the emails we get requesting campaign contributions.  Up until today, each email has had a “hook” justifying yet another request for $3.  For example, a couple of days ago, Michelle Obama said people should pony up $3 because Obama stays up late working for the American people:

Every night in the White House, I see Barack up late poring over briefings, reading your letters, and writing notes to people he’s met.

He’s doing that for you — working hard every day to make sure we can finish what we all started together.

(I wish people would send me $3 for every night I’ve stayed up late working.  Mostly, I just get serenades played on the world’s smallest violin.)

When Obama picked a fight with the Catholic Church by insisting that Catholic institutions pay for birth control, sterilization, and abortifacients, the Obama campaign sent out innumerable emails that insisted that a $3 donation would protect “women’s health”:

As we count down to another critical fundraising deadline for this campaign, it’s important to remember this:

We always knew this election would be about two competing economic plans — whether we get to build on our progress or see it taken away.

But we had no idea we’d also be up against a social agenda that would roll back decades of progress, particularly for women’s health.

That means the consequences of this election will be felt in more ways than we’d counted on — and what you do this week will help decide what they are.

Will you donate $3 or more right now?

For those who were unmoved by the plight of women in Obama’s America, self-serving, fame-seeking Obama supporters were offered the opportunity to have their name in lights:

You deserve some recognition. And we can’t carve your name into the wall of this thing that we’re building — it’s bigger than that.

Here’s what we want to do:

Make a donation of $3 or more before March 31st, and we’ll put your name in the credits of Davis Guggenheim’s documentary, “The Road We’ve Traveled.”

This film is being used at field offices across the country to fire people up — because we know it’s one of the best tools we have. But grassroots supporters like you are the ones making sure our field offices have the resources they need to get the film out there.

And then, of course, there were the ubiquitous “meal with Barack” lotteries, the price of which has dropped to a meager $2:

Tonight at midnight, we’ll draw the first guest for Dinner with Barack.

If you enter today, you could be that person — and if not, you’ll be eligible for each of the other three spots as well.

That means your chances to win are never going to be better than they are right now.

If you’ve ever entered or considered entering this contest, now’s the best time to do it.

Donate $2 or whatever you can before midnight tonight to be automatically eligible to win that first seat.

Each plea has a talking point, one often tied to the headlines, whether the headline is a Romney speech, a Catholic Church statement, or a Supreme Court decision.  Sometimes the plea just boils down to emotions, as with Michelle’s heart-rending image of a tired Obama, bowed over his desk late at night, answering letters.  (An image interestingly at odds with a detailed New Yorker profile that depicts Obama as a rushed box-checker.)

As of yesterday, though, someone — the president or his campaign people — got tired.  Someone just didn’t have the energy or imagination to create yet another reason to justify demanding $3 from Americans buffeted by rising fuel prices, a contracting labor market, astroturfed racial strife, hot mic revelations about backdoor deals with Russians, etc.  So someone decided to cut to the chase.  The heck with justifications, excuses, and heart-rending stories.  Just give Obama the money, dammit!

Friend –

The last time I sent you a note like this, we were closing out 2011.

Today’s our first big political test of 2012.

If you can, please donate $3 or more before midnight tonight:

https://donate.barackobama.com/Today

Thank you.

Barack

To Hell with that 3/4 gallon of gas you were planning on buying for your broken-down rattle trap of a gas-guzzling car. Obama needs cash and he needs it now!

I have to give the Obama’s credit.  Every time you think that they can’t sink any lower, that they can’t degrade the august White House any further . . . they do.

Naomi Wolf, by castigating Katy Perry for her “shameless” Marine music video, shows that you can be the smartest person in the room and still be stupid.

Two people sent me a link to stories about Naomi Wolf castigating singer Katy Perry for making a “shameless” piece of video “propaganda” celebrating the U.S. Marines.  One sent me the link because he knows that, I went to school with Naomi.  The other sent me the link because he knows that I like the Marines.  Before I got to my opinion about this, both as someone who celebrates the Marines and who doesn’t celebrate Naomi, a little background about this story.  Let’s start with Katy’s video:

Me, personally?  I think it’s nice.  Perry’s not a major talent by any means, but she’s a rock-solid pop singer.  This is a catchy, generic pop song, presented as a genuinely respectful look at Marines and their training.  It’s good for the Marines to have this out there. My only complaint is that Katy turns the Marines into the American version of the French Foreign Legion.  (For those who find this reference obscure, the French Foreign Legion used to be known as a place for men who were either escaping from a shady past or a broken heart.)  I hate to see the Marines painted as a sort of Lonely Hearts Club.

And now the Naomi Wolf interlude:

Feminist Naomi Wolf, author of “The Beauty Myth,” is calling Katy Perry’s new video a propaganda piece for the Marine Corps and has suggested her fans boycott the singer.

More specifically, Naomi said:

It’s a total piece of propaganda for the Marines . . . I really want to find out if she was paid by them for making it . . . it is truly shameful.  I would suggest a boycott of this singer whom I really liked — if you are as offended at this glorification of violence as I am.

(As an aside, Naomi’s writing is execrable.  She seems to have abandoned entirely the basic grammar we learned with such effort in high school.  Our English teachers, who were quite good back in the day, would be horrified.)

Before I dive too deeply into this, you have to know that I’m not personally fond of Naomi.  At school, she hung with the “artsy intellectual” crowd and made a point of letting people know that she functioned on a higher intellectual plane than they did. I’ve since learned, from her own writing in fact, that she was a deeply unhappy young woman.  With hindsight, I realize that, typically for an unhappy person, she was trying to make herself feel better by spreading her unhappiness around.  I can now view her with some degree of compassion, but it doesn’t make me like her any better.

Okay, that was my full disclosure.  Back to more substantive issues.

Naomi’s statement about Katy Perry’s video shows that you can be the smartest person in the room (and Naomi is undoubtedly intelligent on the IQ scale) and still be stupid.  Katy Perry is a private citizen and is free to make any type of video she wants, including one that praises the U.S. Marines.  There’s no doubt that the Marines supported Perry’s effort — they did, after all, give her access to Camp Pendleton and forty of the women who live and train there — but there’s no indication whatsoever that they paid for Perry’s services.  Absent that proof, to call a private citizen’s homage to the United States Marine’s a piece of “shameless” “propaganda” is just embittered foolishness.

Wolf’s manifest hostility to the Marines (a hostility that exists despite her later attempts to say that she really admires them for being pathetic cannon fodder) demonstrates how divorced Naomi is from reality.  Naomi enjoys her fame, wealth, and free speech platform because of Marines, men and women both, who are willing to do the dirty work.

In war after war, the United States Marines have willingly, and at great cost, protected America’s national security.  Without the Marines, we might be living in a world with a powerful Bushido Japan controlling the Pacific.  Alternatively, Japan’s control over the Pacific might have been displaced by the Chinese Communists who would have overrun the Pacific Rim in the 1950s and 1960s.  Today, by engaging the Islamists in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Marines (and, of course, America’s other military forces) have kept the battle on the battlefield and away from the home front.

For Naomi to pitch a hissy-fit because an American pop singer lauds an America institution (one that pre-dates America itself) is just so . . . Naomi:  arrogant, foolish, and deeply unhappy, with the kind of unhappiness that just has to spread itself around.

(As another aside, I find it amusing that Perry did this video, because I seem to recall that her soon-to-be ex-husband Russell Brand was famed for spouting anti-American nonsense. To the extent that this is a highly patriotic video, I wonder if it isn’t meant as a slap at him.)

Putting the sexual revolution genie back in the bottle — it can be done

James Taranto says that the Left has ceased to be a revolutionary movement.  Instead, it is a monolithic institution that spends its time trying to preserve the changes it has already wrought in society.  The two big changes Taranto mentions are the New Deal of the 1930s and 1940s, and the sexual revolution of the 1970s and 1980s.  With regard to the latter, he points to Ann Patchett’s defense of the modern sexual status quo in America.  Patchett contends that a revolution, once done, cannot be undone.  Says Patchett:

Here’s the thing about revolutions–there is no taking them back. . . . If you feel that the sexual revolution destroyed the American family by giving women power over their reproductive choices, and that power turned daughters and wives, by and large, into a bunch of wanton hussies, well, stew over your feelings all you want, but you might as well give up thinking that it is possible to herd us up and drive us back into the kitchen. . . .

For those who remain bitter about the revolution and wish it had never happened, join hands with the likes of me, who see the rights and freedoms of women as the only possible outcome for a thinking society.

Taranto points out the obvious fallacy in Patchett’s rather naive belief that you cannot put the genie back in the bottle (or, more prosaically, reverse historic trends):

The presumption that history inevitably moves in one ideological direction is reminiscent of Marx, just as the determination to defend decades-old revolutionary gains echoes the Brezhnev doctrine.

In one sense, of course, Patchett is right. Time moves only in one direction, and events that have happened cannot unhappen. The consequences of the sexual revolution will always be with us, just as the consequences of the Russian Revolution still are. But just as in the Soviet Union, that does not preclude the possibility of some sort of counterrevolution. The intellectual frailty of today’s defenses of the sexual revolution is one reason we think a sexual counterrevolution may be in the offing in the coming decades.

Apropos the sexual revolution, and the fact that sexual mores are anything but irrevocable, think about this:  The Victorian era, one of the most sexually staid periods in modern Western history, followed swiftly upon the heels of the extraordinary licentiousness that characterized the late 18th and early 19th centuries.  (For more on that pre-Victorian sexual revolution, check out The Origins of Sex: A History of the First Sexual Revolution, by Faramerz Dabhiowala. I haven’t read it yet, so I don’t know if I’ll agree with its ultimate conclusions, but I do know that it provides detailed evidence about the social debauchery that existed side-by-side with Jane Austen’s refined world.)

It was no coincidence that the restrained Victorians immediately followed the Georgian rakes.  The Victorian era was a direct response to the social decay and upheaval of that earlier sexual revolution.  It was, to use Taranto’s word, a Counter-Revolution, one that took place, not in the streets, but in drawing rooms, parlors, and bedrooms.  As much as anything, a social revolution can result from a sense of repugnance.  Society may feel that it has reached a point of almost no return, and withdraw, much as a snail does when it senses a killing amount of salt in its environment.

I do not believe that our society will revert to barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen, just as the Victorians didn’t revert to wimples and witch-burning.  I do believe, however, that an increasing number of American people feel that they are staring into a moral abyss, and that they need to draw back before they (and their children) are pitched into the darkness below.

What happens when Progressives are too dumb to understand how phones operate

The Kochs received an interesting phone call from Jesse Lava, someone who affiliated with Brave New Foundation, a Progressive organization that is peculiarly obsessed with the Koch brothers.  Jesse ostensibly called to ask for some information from the Kochs to include in a “documentary” that Brave New Foundation is putting together.  After having made his guileless, sweet, emotional request, Jesse forgot to hang up the phone.  Hilarity — the peculiar hilarity unique to Progressives — ensues:

Hat tip: Red State

Obama’s seriously bad, worse than awful, completely dreadful week *UPDATED*

After providing amusingly snarky details, Charles Hurt summarizes:

So, in one week, Mr. Obama got caught whispering promises to our enemy, incited a race war, raised serious questions about his understanding of the Constitution, and then got smacked down over his proposed budget that was so wildly reckless that even Democrats in Congress could not support it.

It was as if you lumped Hurricane Katrina and the Abu Ghraib abuses into one week for George W. Bush. And added on top of that the time he oddly groped German Chancellor Angela Merkel and got caught cursing on a hot mic.

Even then, it wouldn’t be as bad as Mr. Obama’s week. You would probably also have to toss in the time Mr. Bush’s father threw up into the lap of Japan’s prime minister. Only then might we be approaching how bad a week it was for Mr. Obama.

UPDATE: Abe Greenwald provides the perfect coda to Bolt’s summary:

For Obama detractors, this week was the mother of all “told-ya-so’s”: the disaster predictions of his presidency made manifest; all the contents of 2008’s dire prophecies conjured into the real world. The brazen courting of international bad actors, the constitutionally unfeasible leftism, and the political illiteracy have been summoned at last in the space of a few days. You no longer need conservative pundits to paint a worrisome picture when you can just go to the videotape.

Worst of all is the clear, bright line connecting the health-care showdown and the Putin pander: Barack Obama’s casual indifference to democratic principle. That the healthcare overhaul was a federally enforced protection racket is no more relevant to him than Vladimir Putin’s aggressive anti-freedom agenda. Expedience means the state compels the people to do what’s in their best interest. No one said change is easy.

It isn’t the Supreme Court’s job to re-write a Congressional bill that’s had its unconstitutional heart cut out

In one of his more delightful articles, Jonah Goldberg tackles Justice Ginsburg’s disingenuous claim that the most “conservative” thing the Supreme Court can do is to pick its way through all 2,700 pages of the ObamaCare bill and save all the good bits.  After politely decimating Ginsburg’s word choice, Goldberg has this to say:

The conservative thing to do — and I don’t mean politically conservative — is to send the whole thing back to Congress and have it done right. Leaving aside the fact that Obamacare largely falls apart if you remove the mandate, it’s not the Supreme Court’s job to design our health-care system from the scraps Congress dumps in its lap. What Ginsburg proposes is akin to a student handing in a sloppy, error-filled term paper, and the professor rewriting it so as to give the student an A.

Goldberg’s charming analogy reminded me of something a friend told me.  Although a conservative, she’s a strong, brave woman, and still listens to NPR.  (I don’t, because I find myself screaming at the radio too much, especially with NPR’s Israel coverage.)  During a call-in show, she said that several of the callers were deeply offended that the conservative justices used analogies, such as questions about broccoli and cell phones, to discuss ObamaCare’s provisions.  The tone seemed to be “How dare those evil conservatives dumb down a sophisticated act to appeal to the rubes in America in order to justify destroying the best legislation ever.”

I was actually reminded of someone who used analogies with incredible grace to simplify (not destroy, but make accessible) challenging ideas:

Behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

He said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?”

He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind [Deuteronomy 6:5]; and your neighbour as yourself [Leviticus 19:18].”

He said to him, “You have answered correctly. Do this, and you will live.”

But he, desiring to justify himself, asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbour?”

Jesus answered, “A certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who both stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. By chance a certain priest was going down that way. When he saw him, he passed by on the other side. In the same way a Levite also, when he came to the place, and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he traveled, came where he was. When he saw him, he was moved with compassion, came to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. He set him on his own animal, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, and gave them to the host, and said to him, ‘Take care of him. Whatever you spend beyond that, I will repay you when I return.’ Now which of these three do you think seemed to be a neighbour to him who fell among the robbers?”

He said, “He who showed mercy on him.”

Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” — Luke 10:25–37, World English Bible

****

He told them this parable. “Which of you men, if you had one hundred sheep, and lost one of them, wouldn’t leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one that was lost, until he found it? When he has found it, he carries it on his shoulders, rejoicing. When he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I tell you that even so there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine righteous people who need no repentance.” — Luke 15:3-7, World English Bible

I don’t call this dumbing things down.  I call it the wisdom to drill down into something’s essential element and the skill then to communicate those core principles (whether they are good, as with the parables, or bad, as with ObamaCare) to others.

P.S.  I am not likening the conservative Supreme Court justices to Jesus Christ.  I’m just saying that smart analogies are a staple of intelligent communication, and should be admired, not denigrated.

 

Obama’s promised “flexibility” with Russia

Leave it to Charles Krauthammer to explain in nice, clear language precisely why Obama’s open mic statements justify voters booting him out of office without regard to any other issues.

Incidentally, Peggy Noonan has been taking heat for writing an article expressing surprise that Obama isn’t trustworthy.  I am now not a Peggy Noonan fan.  I’ve long thought she’s overrated both as a writer and as a thinker (where she often comes across as a RINO).  However, I’m inclined to cut her some slack here, because I wonder if she isn’t taking a page out of Jim Geraghty’s book.  It was Geraghty, after all, who suggested (somewhere that I can’t find now) that, while people are slow to change their minds if that means they have to admit that the were wrong in the first place, they’ll be remarkably quick to turn on someone if they think they’ve been conned.  That means that the best way to convince overly optimistic RINO’s and lukewarm Dems that they should vote against Obama in November, after having voted for Obama in 2008, is to sympathize with the fact that someone lied to them, rather than to castigate them for being fools.

UPDATE:  Thanks to Ymarsakar for catching my typo.  I’m definitely not a Peggy Noonan fan, and I apologize for misleading people into thinking the opposite.

The usual wonderful stuff from my friends at the Watcher’s Council

Come along and read wonderful things with me:

Council Submissions

Honorable Mentions

Non-Council Submissions

ObamaCare isn’t free!

One of the more perplexing yet insightful arguments made in support of Obamacare was made by none other than Nancy Pelosi. It is interesting, because it exposes such a fundamental shallowness in the Progressive-Left world view.

Here is what she said:

““A healthier life, the liberty to pursue happiness, free of the constraints that lack of healthcare might provide to a family,” she said. “If you want to be photographer, a writer, an artist, a musician, you can do so. If you what to start a business, if you want to change jobs, under the Affordable Care Act, you have that liberty to pursue your happiness.” (h/t The Hill)

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/pelosi-defends-obamacare-using-declaration-of-independence/

By this reasoning, Government grants liberties by taking adult responsibilities off the shoulders of its citizens. I’m talking about the responsibility of each citizen to create and contribute value to society at-least equivalent to the value of the goods and services that citizen wishes to take from society. Such entitlement rights as referenced by Ms. Pelosi are the so-called “positive” rights about which Progressive-Leftists like to carp.

Of course, this same argument could be taken further than just health care. Food, for example, or transportation, toothpaste, toilet paper. The more the government buys for you, the less you have to worry about actually earning a living to justify what you take from society.

In this Progressive-Left “no worries” universe, this works just swell, because goods and services are created out of thin air by government decree. However, in the real world, goods and services must necessarily come from somewhere and that somewhere is the product of human capital, sweat and labor. Someone must provide those medical products and services and the ability to provide for such services, barring slave labor, must come at some expense. Progressive-Leftists, however, seldom think this deep.

So, for the recipients of government largesse, there may not be any worries about getting “free” stuff, but for the creators and funders of those goods and services, it means that they will be compelled to work to provide government-mandated goods and service at prices and under conditions mandated by said government.

Except for the government-anointed elite recipients of such goods and services, this hardly provides a compelling vision of “freedom”, does it?!

Very funny: drunk guy sings a capella “Bohemian Rhapsody” in the back of a police car (link fixed)

Hollywood tries to write comedies this funny, but nothing is as good as the real thing — and the real thing in this case is the drunk in the back seat of a police car who belts out a word-perfect but, sadly, not pitch perfect version of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, complete with instrumental interludes. Keep in mind that those high notes, especially beginning at 3:50, are hard even for sober people:

Don’t abandon the video when he stops singing. This guy reaches new heights in the last five seconds, when he politely expresses dismay at the fact that he’ll have to be handcuffed.

Second guesses and theories about the Supreme Court decision and its aftermath

In the days and weeks preceding oral argument before the Supreme Court on ObamaCare, all Democrat (politicians and pundits) and a surprising number of conservatives were convinced that the Supreme Court would sustain ObamaCare.  After two and a half days of argument, the conventional wisdom has suddenly shifted.  Democrats are sure they’ll lose, and conservatives are cautiously optimistic.

With this radical shift, something else has happened:  Democrats are boasting, and conservatives are worrying, that a Supreme Court loss is the best thing that could happen to the Democrats.  Both claim that if the mandate alone goes, the remainder of ObamaCare will survive and be better than ever; and both also claim that if the entire bill goes down, ObamaCare’s loss will reinvigorate the base in November, while possible ensuing chaos in the health care world will so frighten ordinary Americans that they’ll demand a big government solution.

The Democrats’ spin make sense.  It’s all they can do.  The conservatives’ spin is less easy to understand.  Are conservatives guarding against hubris?  Is this a case of “hope for the worst, but plan for the best”?  Our we overestimating the Obama-ite’s tactical brilliance?  The last is intriguing, actually.  The theory goes that Obama and Co. decided that they could make more hay out of a loss than a victory, so they actually encouraged the Solicitor General to humiliate himself and basically appear like an articulate idiot.  They want to lose, because it sets them up for some even more nefarious plan.

There is such a thing as over-thinking things.  Under the above world view, it is impossible for conservatives to win.  If we lose before the Supreme Court, we lose.  If we win before the Supreme Court, we lose.  This is an unsustainable mindset.  You have to fight your battles as they come.  It is possible to win most of the battles and lose the war, but it’s more likely that the party with the greatest number of victories in separate battles also wins the war.  The one thing that’s certain is that, if you lose all the battles, you also lose the war.

I have been over-thinking something myself.  As jj noted in his comment to an earlier post, it is unconscionable that Elena Kagan is one of the sitting justices for this ObamaCare decision.  She was an important part of its passage, not to mention an ardent cheerleader.  Each of these facts creates an overwhelming appearance of bias and impropriety that, with nothing more, should force a judge’s recusal.  Yet Kagan didn’t recuse herself and, it seems, Chief Justice Roberts didn’t push the issue.

I’m wondering if they struck a deal….

Roberts must have realized that Obama’s base would become something close to insane, and probably violently so, if Kagan was knocked off this panel.  Perhaps he said to her something along the lines of, “You can stay, and you can help them out in oral argument, but you vote with me when the time comes.”  His role as Chief Justice means that he has considerable power to make Kagan’s Supreme Court tenure pleasant or unpleasant.  I can imagine him using a little polite blackmail.

Speaking Roberts, in my humble estimation, he has been the best Chief Justice in my remembered lifetime.  I have a great deal of faith in his management skills and, if he believes ObamaCare should be struck down in its entirety, I can see him making it happen — especially when it comes to encouraging Justice Kennedy to make the right decision.  (And jj, you’re right about that too, which is that it’s unconscionable that a man of very weak principles, although he does seem to side with individual liberties, is the one who seems to bear the whole burden of upholding the Constitution’s integrity.)

Watcher’s Council winners for March 23, 2012

Time flies.  Another week, another wonderful world of winners:

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

Green Beans Coffee: Patriotic coffee in Marin County

I don’t drink coffee, so I cannot speak to the quality of Green Beans Coffee.  I can, however, speak to to decency of this company, which has as its motto “Honor First, Coffee Second.”  It turns out that this coffee company, which is headquartered in Marin County of all places (I’ll have to take a quick peek next time I grab a sandwich at Togo’s), exists to make sure our military gets its coffee.  Thus, unlike the Starbucks that’s in a nearby suburban mall or a sophisticated European city, Green Beans Coffee has some more exotic store locations:

  • Afghanistan
  • Djibouti
  • Iraq
  • Kuwait
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Oman
  • Qatar
  • United Arab Emirates

It turns out that, on military bases throughout the Middle East, this Marin County company is the go-to place for Java.  What this means, too, is that if you buy a gift card for the troops through Green Beans Coffee, the guys and gals can actually use the card while serving, rather than hanging onto it until they get leave or return home.

Green Beans Coffee also donates a percentage of its sales to organizations that support the troops.  It counts amongst its friends, and asks for help supporting, groups such as Soldier’s Angels, Children of Fallen Soldiers, and Sewport our Troops.

Pretty cool for a hot beverage, huh?

Hat tip:  MacG

“Alien Encounters” — The subtle propaganda of a pseudo-documentary

The Science Channel’s Alien Encounters is a two-part pseudo-documentary that interweaves footage of real scientists and novelists talking about possible alien encounters, with faux footage of the world dealing with an actual alien encounter.  Alien Encounters has gotten decent press from the usual suspects.

I disagree.  As a science show, it’s not impressive.  The children, who are sophisticated media consumers, were perpetually confused about what was real and what was faux, and eventually walked out on the show in frustration.  We grown-ups didn’t fare much better, as we kept falling asleep.  A show that induces narcolepsy probably isn’t a very good show.

I did stay awake long enough, though, to be concerned about those children and those adults who stuck it out despite the show’s muddled story line and sleep-inducing presentation.  In addition to having some vaguely scientific content (Cue Twilight Zone music and repeat after me — “We are not alone”), the show has a very strong Progressive tone.  This is stealth politics. A rumination about aliens contacting earth should be about space and science.  As is typical, though, for anything Progressives touch, their politics and biases  just kind of ooze out.

In pertinent part, the plot goes as follows:  The SETI Institute, which was established to monitor the cosmos for other life forms, picks up a signal from space that is quite obviously meant to communicate with earth.  It proves, as the SETI people have long realized, that we here on earth are not the pinnacle of evolution — someone else (or something else) obviously is, because that other culture can communicate with us.

At least, that’s what Jill Tarter, who’s head of the SETI Institution and one of the show’s writers, says.  She also says that we’re not ready for alien contact because we have pollution or wars, or something like that.  (She was a bit muddled there.)  Tarter’s fascination with outer space may have come about because she obviously doesn’t like us here on planet earth.

Tarter’s statements about war and pollution, and her general disdain for humanity, have the virtue of being explicit.  Tucked into the show were other messages, however, ranging from silly to mean.

The first more subtle political message showed itself in the usual “global warming” stuff that is by now par for the course for any non-conservative production.  Indeed, bows to global warming appear in shows with the same frequency as Obama’s “ums” and “uhs” and “ers” when he’s speaking off teleprompter — which is to say, way too often.

In Alien Encounters, we learn that the alien beings have included in their message a code sequence that is light years (pardon the pun) more sophisticated than any computer code ever devised here on earth.  The hip young things paying attention to this cool alien invasion immediately appreciate the ramifications of this code.  The words “reverse global warming” are flashed across the screen at least twice.  (I may have slept through subsequent iterations.)  Yes, the secret to resolving global warming is . . . wait for it . . . an alien invasion.  Woo-hoo!

That’s the obvious propaganda.  It’s heavy-handed, but probably harmless, because it’s just another piece of white noise in the Progressive universe.  Although I must say I find rather amusing that an ostensibly scientific institution (that would be the SETI Institute) so blindly accepts global warming, despite the burgeoning body of evidence to the contrary.  But that’s another story….

The less obvious propaganda is what really irked me.  In an obvious effort to stretch a thin one-hour show into a two-hour show, the writers repeat themes, images and words over and over and over again.  Thus, we hear repeatedly that some people will be excited and open-minded about this invasion, while some will be scared and hostile.

“Scared and hostile” is represented by a moustachioed old white man who sits alone, drinking, and writing “end of the world?” and “danger” on reports about the alien encounter.  Later, he is shown stockpiling booze and weapons for his survivalist retreat.  And still later, the show finally reveals the hitherto cryptic writing on his baseball cap:  “82nd Airborne.”

Yup — the only ones who might be somewhat worried that a vastly more intelligent life form is heading towards our seriously imperfect (and overheated) world are the crazy, drunken, old militarists .  The show hints, although it’s too tactful to say, that drunken old survivalists are the scarier of the two invaders.

I haven’t actually seen the aliens land yet.  When I finally succumbed completely to sleep, they were still making their way to planet earth.  I’ll watch the last half hour tonight on my TiVo and get back to you on whether or not we survive our contact with this fine alien culture.  I do wonder, though, whether these aliens, who clearly have the potential to bring about the “moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal,” will bear an uncanny resemblance to Barack Obama.  After all, there are those who have posited that, based upon his fixed smile in official state photos, he might not be of this earth:

Barack Obama’s amazingly consistent smile from Eric Spiegelman on Vimeo.

Obama’s election, like Harding’s, is one where we remember the voters as much as we remember the one for whom they voted

In 1920, for the first time, American women had the right to vote in a federal election.  Warren G. Harding won that election by a landslide and, rightly or wrongly, he went down as the president whose dashing good looks and insouciance so charmed American women that they put him in the White House.  Here is the dashing, insouciant Harding:

Harding’s good looks and charm have not worn well.  Neither has his reputation.  His administration is remembered as one of the most corrupt in history — and, sadly, that first batch of women voters is remembered for having put him in the White House.

Almost one hundred years later, Tina Korbe has identified a new group of voters who may well be remembered for their role in placing one of the most corrupt presidents ever into the White House.  It seems that the millennials (those young ‘uns who come of age politically in the new millennium) are no more.  Our President has given them a new name, one that, unsurprisingly, is tied closely to his own presidency:

President Barack Obama has rebranded us. To him, we’re “Gen44.” Expanded, that means we’re the generation that elected him as the nation’s 44th president. Can you say, “hubris,” anyone? It’s almost like pleading to restart the calendar with 2008 as 1 Anno Obama.

In addition to the overwhelming narcissism this re-branding displays, Korbe points out that there is a certain truth to this horrible appellation:

What’s particularly galling about this is that he’s right. To date, our record participation in his election is our defining achievement.

What women were to Warren G. Harding, Gen44 will be to Barack Obama.  Let us just hope that Obama’s administration will be almost as short-lived as Harding’s (only Obama, God willing, will be booted out via the ballot box, rather than congestive heart failure).

 

Why both of Obama’s hot mic moments matter

Seth Mandel compares Obama’s hot mic moments (insulting Netanyahu; cutting private deals with the Russians) to George Bush’s single hot mic moment:

[W]hen the microphones were off, Bush was–to no one’s surprise–just as supportive of our allies and as tough on our adversaries as he was in public. These moments might seem insignificant, but they reveal why some presidents are able to win the trust of our allies, and others are not. Our most candid moments will always play an outsized role in others’ approximations of our moral compass. This is even more so when they confirm a pattern of behavior.