America’s values have turned upside down
It’s a time-honored custom for older people to look at changes in the world since their youth and to bemoan those changes. I’d like to think I’m neither that rigid nor that old. There are so many things in the modern world to love, especially when it comes to technology.
What does seem extremely unlovable, though, is that we are living through a time in which moral values aren’t merely being loosened (a la the rising hems of the flappers) but are being turned completely upside down. In one of the best articles I’ve seen in forever at National Review, Quin Hillyer focuses on the sea change in our moral and political values. If you’ve already read it, read it again and share it with your friends; if you haven’t read it, by all means do . . . and then share it with your friends:
Think about it. What’s the bigger story, the one that involves the more venal behavior while potentially harming the lives of more Americans: 1) a few goobers rifling through the office of the opposing political party and then having the president’s men try to cover up the petty hanky-panky; or 2) a former president and husband of the then-current secretary of state making hundreds of thousands of dollars while the couple’s foundation gets millions, in a deal approved by the former first lady’s own State Department, which results in about half of this nation’s uranium falling under the effective control of the proto-fascist, anti-American leader of the nation with the world’s second biggest store of nuclear weapons?
The Clintons aren’t mere grifters. They are in their own level of grifter superstardom while putting all the rest of us at substantially greater risk of annihilation.
Yet much of the media covers this story with the enthusiasm of a six-year-old swallowing castor oil, and much of the public still thinks Hillary is a minor deity. A goodly number of Americans apparently are aware of the scandal yet still fall at her feet.
We’re now told that we can’t spank a misbehaving child; that we can’t read Huckleberry Finn because it features the “n” word; that we can’t name sports teams in honor of Indians; that syllogistic or “linear” logic is culturally oppressive; that it’s offensive if we pray in public or say “Merry Christmas”; and that we can’t allow our own 20-year-olds to drink a glass of wine with us in our own homes as a civilizing part of a holiday meal, but that we’re disastrously prudish if we don’t give them condoms for the sex we should be glad they are engaging in as a necessary form of self-expression.
In short, we’re told that so much of what we know is good and normal is actually bad, while so much that’s objectively awful is actually no big deal or even something worth admiring.
Read the rest here.
Victor Davis Hanson reminds us that Obama hasn’t left us much to value
As a friend of mine says, you know that you’re about to read bad news when an article starts by quoting Yeats. Such is the case with VDH’s analysis of the incalculable damage Obama has managed to inflict upon America, both at home and abroad, in a mere seven and a half years:
What is unique about American foreign policy today is not just that it is rudderless, but how quickly and completely the 70-year postwar order seems to have disintegrated — and how little interest the American people take in the collapse, thanks to the administration’s apparent redeeming message, which translates, “It’s their misfortune and none of our own.”
As long as we are not involved at the center of foreign affairs and there is no perceptible short-term danger to our security, few seem to care much that western North Africa is a no-man’s-land. Hillary Clinton’s “lead from behind” created a replay of Somalia in Libya. The problem with Turkey’s Recep Erdogan is not that he is no longer Obama’s “special friend,” but that he was ever considered a friend at all, as he pressed forward with his plan to destroy Turkish democracy in the long march to theocracy.
There was never much American good will for the often duplicitous Gulf monarchies, so the general public does not seem to be worried that they are now spurned allies. That estrangement became possible because of growing U.S. self-sufficiency in oil and gas (thanks to fracking, which Obama largely opposed). Still, let us hope the Gulf States remain neutral rather than becoming enemies — given their financial clout and the availability of Pakistani bombs for Sunni petrodollars. Meanwhile, the Obama administration has it in for Israel. Why, no one quite knows, given that the Jewish state is the only democratic and liberal society in the Middle East. Perhaps it resembles the United States too closely, and thus earns the reflected hypercriticism that so many leftists cultivate for their own civilization.
Read the rest here.
A greenie tries to challenge the GMO narrative
Nathanael Johnson is a Leftist who is slowly beginning to figure out that the Leftist narrative on Genetically Modified Organisms is just that — a narrative. There’s nothing black and white about GMOs. There is, instead, a trade-off, and one that has potential benefits:
Let’s start off with a thought experiment: Imagine two alternate futures, one in which genetically modified food has been utterly banned, and another in which all resistance to genetic engineering has ceased. In other words, imagine what would happen if either side “won” the debate.
In the GMO-free future, farming still looks pretty much the same. Without insect-resistant crops, farmers spray more broad-spectrum insecticides, which do some collateral damage to surrounding food webs. Without herbicide-resistant crops, farmers spray less glyphosate, which slows the spread of glyphosate-resistant weeds and perhaps leads to healthier soil biota. Farmers also till their fields more often, which kills soil biota, and releases a lot more greenhouse gases. The banning of GMOs hasn’t led to a transformation of agriculture because GM seed was never a linchpin supporting the conventional food system: Farmers could always do fine without it. Eaters no longer worry about the small potential threat of GMO health hazards, but they are subject to new risks: GMOs were neither the first, nor have they been the last, agricultural innovation, and each of these technologies comes with its own potential hazards. Plant scientists will have increased their use of mutagenesis and epigenetic manipulation, perhaps. We no longer have biotech patents, but we still have traditional seed-breeding patents. Life goes on.
In the other alternate future, where the pro-GMO side wins, we see less insecticide, more herbicide, and less tillage. In this world, with regulations lifted, a surge of small business and garage-biotechnologists got to work on creative solutions for the problems of agriculture. Perhaps these tinkerers would come up with some fresh ideas to usher out the era of petroleum-dependent food. But the odds are low, I think, that any of their inventions would prove transformative. Genetic engineering is just one tool in the tinkerer’s belt. Newer tools are already available, and scientists continue to make breakthroughs with traditional breeding. So in this future, a few more genetically engineered plants and animals get their chance to compete. Some make the world a little better, while others cause unexpected problems. But the science has moved beyond basic genetic engineering, and most of the risks and benefits of progress are coming from other technologies. Life goes on.
The point is that even if you win, the payoff is relatively small in the broad scheme of things. Really, why do so many people care?
Read the rest here.
What Johnson hasn’t yet figured out is that the anti-GMO narrative isn’t just fear of GMOs but is, instead, part of a larger, sustained attack on free-market capitalism. He’s working his way there, though, and I’ll never sneer at someone who has taken the first step on the journey that I made.
Even more interesting than the article’s content, though, is the way in which I found it: One of my uber-Progressive friends posted it approvingly on her Facebook page. She won’t be voting conservative any time soon, but any crack in the unthinking, knee-jerk dam that is modern Leftism is a good thing.
Obama’s jayvee team wages war on women and children
ISIS has gone on its usual rampage now that it’s taken over Palmyra. And of course, ISIS fighters have made sure to slaughter as many innocents — i.e., children and helpless women — as possible. There’s nothing that makes a jihadist feel more manly, and more potently ready for those virgins in the afterlife, than to slaughter children and, of course, to rape, enslave, and slaughter women. Talk about Islamist aphrodisiacs.
I’m rubbing in here just how awful ISIS is because I want to make it very, very clear that ISIS is an Obama creation. He created it by failing to act firmly in Syria at the very beginning, he created it by drooling all over his imaginary red line, and he created it by doing the worst thing anyone can ever do in an unstable region: withdrawing troops from Iraq, leaving behind a vacuum. The blood of every one of those murdered civilians is on Obama’s hands. God knows, I just hope that’s not his idea of an aphrodisiac.
New York federal court judge says “Choose Life” is a patently offensive phrase
Although the number of self-identified Christians in America keeps dropping, the fact remains that more than 70% of Americans still call themselves Christians. (I wish it were a higher number; Christian America was good for the world and good for the Jews.) Another possibly 2% of Americans identify as Jews. This means that around 72% of Americans look to the Bible as their Holy book.
This matters because the Bible has a very specific phrase, direct from God, that I’ve used more than once in this blog: “Choose life.” These words resonate, whether in their pagan world in which they were first voiced, one filled with human sacrifice, or in our modern world filled with ISIS massacres, mindless abortions, disposable children throughout the Third World, and all sorts of other disregard for the sanctity of each individual’s worth. The Bible stands out: CHOOSE LIFE.
In theory, 72% of Americans give spiritual allegiance to this phase. In fact, of course, the Leftist Christian denominations and all the Reform Jews couldn’t care less about that injunction, other than to repeat it to themselves as their “ohm” mantra as they sit in their meditation pose and focus their minds on their upcoming sustainably-harvested latte and organic bagel.
Why am I blathering on about this important phrase to which the vast majority of Americans theoretically pay homage, although too many disregard? Because a New York federal court judge has announced that this timeless phrase is “patently offensive”:
A new decision by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals holds that New York’s state government has the right to ban “Choose Life” license plates on the grounds that such a statement is “patently offensive.”
The dispute stems from a now-suspended program offered by New York’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) which allowed private organizations to create custom license plates. If drivers purchased the plates, the purchasing price was split between the DMV and the non-profit.
The Children First Foundation (CFF), an organization promoting adoption as an alternative to abortion, submitted a design for a “Choose Life” license plate, which featured a drawing of two children’s faces in front of a yellow sun.
The proposed plate was rejected, with the DMV citing a policy that allows it to ban “patently offensive” plates in order to prevent incidents of road rage. The “patently offensive” category in U.S. speech is typically related to public obscenity laws, and allows for limitations on things like the public display of pornography or other materials that blatantly violate community standards.
Later, during the lawsuit, the DMV claimed it was simply carrying out a general ban on plates concerning politically divisive topics, since government-issued license plates could be perceived as government-sponsored speech. However, in the past the DMV has approved pro-union and pro-environmental plates.
Judge Rosemary Pooler, a Clinton appointee, agreed with New York’s position in her majority opinion. She took this view even though she also ruled that license plates are private speech subject to First Amendment protections. Despite these protections, however, she said that so many New Yorkers could find a plate advocating an anti-abortion position ”patently offensive” that the DMV was justified in suppressing the speech.
I think we need to contemplate for a few minutes what just happened in New York. You don’t have to be anti-abortion to find offensive a ruling suppressing a mandate to embrace life. You just have to be human — as long as you’re not either a member of ISIS or Kermit Gosnell.
Does it help conservatives if Hillary stays or Hillary goes?
Before I dive into my title topic, please note that, in my little caption above, I used the phrase “conservatives” not “Republicans.” To say that I am disgusted with Republicans is putting it mildly. The fact that a Republican majority Congress collapses supine before Barack Obama’s unconstitutional demands tells us everything we need to know about the state of the GOP. Still, the GOP has infrastructure, so the best way to deal with it isn’t to destroy it but is, instead, to co-opt it (which is precisely what the Left did with the old-fashioned, anti-Communist, anti-amnesty Democrat party).
My preferred candidate for co-opting the Republican party as the next presidential candidate is Ted Cruz, perhaps with Carly Fiorina as his VP sidekick. Why them? Because he’s brilliant, a true constitutionalist, a brave man, and a patriot; while she has a knack for communication, which is always the conservative Achilles’ heel.
Because the media anoints Democrats, while destroying Republicans, no election can take place solely by focusing on the virtues of the Republican ticket. One also has to figure out which Democrat candidate is least likely to excite the voters no matter how hard the media sells him or her. In this case, of course, the question is whether the voters will ignore media shilling more if Hillary tops the ticket or if someone else does. I’m ambivalent. Every Progressive I know has announced that he or she will vote for Hillary because “Hillary is a woman” and because “she’s earned it.”
By the way, if you want to amuse yourself, whenever your Progressive friends announce that Hillary has earned her spot on the ticket, do ask them to note her accomplishments — that is, it’s amusing if you don’t mind them turning on you and saying that you’re mean and your candidate is evil. Ad hominem attacks, of course, are always the last refuge of the Leftist sans Argument.
In other words, stupid or not, Hillary has a built-in constituency. On the other hand, Hillary is awful. Really, truly awful. Not only does she lack positive accomplishments, she’s got a long resume of horrible, damning negative ones. Moreover, she’s a mean, clunky candidate who may well be suffering from brain damage, not to mention alcoholism.
Given these givens, I honestly can’t decide whether the Republican ticket is better off with Hillary or without her. What do you think?
John Bolton underestimates Obama
I have to agree with Carol Brown, who says that John Bolton underestimates Obama when he says essentially that, if Obama could, he would defeat ISIS, but that his ideology handicaps his conduct of any war. With all due respect to Bolton, of whom I have a very high opinion, Brown speaks for me:
Bolton is underestimating the very real possibility that is even more horrifying than a president in denial, which is this: Obama’s actions and inactions are all by design. And while Obama is indeed driven by his ideology, the ideology is one that is simpatico with Islam. As a result, of course, we are losing to ISIS, to Islamic terror, to jihad, to the growing caliphate, to a Middle East spiraling out of control, and to Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon.
What we see unfolding is not because Obama is unwilling to understand the reality on the ground or because he’s paralyzed as to what to do. Quite the opposite. I would suggest that Obama understands the situation quite well. And he’s all on board.
The man-child sitting in the Oval Office spent his formative years in Indonesia, finds the Muslim call to prayer the sweetest sound, decided that the mission of NASA was Muslim outreach, gave his first interview as president to an Arab news station, jetted off to Cairo to give a speech, and gave the Muslim Brotherhood front-row seats as he pandered and apologized, made his first call as president to the leader of the Palestinian Authority, proclaimed on the world stage that we must not slander Islam, labeled blatant acts of jihad terror as “workplace violence,” has consistently tipped the scales in the Middle East against our allies and in favor jihadists, is importing Muslims to the United States from places like Syria at an alarming rate, is openly hostile to Israel, and is negotiating with Iran.
Religion on its own terms
I grew up in a home that wasn’t observant, except for one thing: we did Passover. My goodness, but did we do Passover. The entire seder was done in both English and Hebrew, and we didn’t miss a bit. In addition, all the songs got sung twice, first the way my Dad had learned them as a child, and then the way my Mom had learned them.|
When I was off in the world, a friend invited me to her family’s Passover seder. I knew that they were conservative Jews, so I assumed that the seder would be even more lengthy and complete than my family’s. To my surprise, though, the family rushed through the seder, with one person mumbling through this or that prayer or recital, while everyone else engaged in ordinary dinner table conversation.
As a child, I had imagined that this would be a great way to observe Passover — swift and friendly. In fact, I found it very disturbing. The question that presented itself to me was this: “Why bother to go through the motions of an important historic and religious ritual if your behavior leeches it of any meaning?”
To make an obvious tautology, religion without meaningful observation is meaningless. It does not draw us out of our ordinary life into a spiritual world. Instead, it’s just another item in the laundry list of things we do.
I regret to say that I have never overcome my childhood and am not an observant Jew. But I will say this: On the rare occasions I participate in a religious activity, whether a Jewish one or, because of friends, a Christian one, I want that participation to be complete in every respect so that I am fully aware that I am taking a moment out of my life to dedicate myself to God.
Why this little trip down memory lane? Because of Patrick O’Hannigan’s beautiful post about the risk that those returning to the church destroy its gifts by trying to translate its doctrine and ritual into the language of political correctness.