Do they even listen to themselves? — the Barack Obama edition

Barack Obama 2016 SOTUDuring his final (thank you God) State of the Union address, during his discussion about Islam, Obama had something to say about those who dare insult Islam:

In a swipe at some Republican presidential candidates, he warned against “voices urging us to fall back into tribes, to scapegoat fellow citizens who don’t look like us or pray like us or vote like we do or share the same background.”

Hinting at recent divisive comments by Republican presidential contender Donald Trump, who called to block Muslims from entering the US, Obama said Americans must “reject any politics that targets people because of race or religion.

“This isn’t a matter of political correctness. It’s a matter of understanding what makes us strong. The world respects us not just for our arsenal; it respects us for our diversity and our openness and the way we respect every faith…When politicians insult Muslims, when a mosque is vandalized, or a kid bullied, that doesn’t make us safer. That’s not telling it like it is. It’s just wrong. It diminishes us in the eyes of the world. It makes it harder to achieve our goals. And it betrays who we are as a country,” he said.

If I were cross-examining him, I’d ask something along these lines (and yes, I’ve been reading way too many transcripts lately):

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Open primaries were meant to combat hardcore candidates, but will they do the opposite?

donald trumpI’ve been open about my contempt for open primaries since they first appeared in California:

Once the votes are counted, the two candidates who got the most votes go on to the November ballot.  Everyone else vanishes from the scene.  In states that have a heavy party majority in one direction or the other (as is the case with Bright Blue California), the practical effect is to banish minority party candidates from the November ballot.

Those who support Open Primaries contend that it is an efficient way to ensure that, when people are really paying attention, the majority of voters get to pick from the two most favored candidates, without having the airwaves — and their brains — cluttered with advertisements and speeches from candidates who don’t have a realistic change of winning.  Those who oppose the Open Primary process — and I am one who does — contend that it effectively shuts the minority parties out of the political debate.

Without regard for such issues as political speech and representation, those people who pushed for open primaries justified the move as a way to shut out extremism by forcing people towards the middle:

Carl Luna, a professor at San Diego Mesa College, said the hope is that the new way of voting will increase voter turnout and will lead to election of more moderate candidates.

“Since anybody can vote for anybody, you might have to appeal more toward moderate candidates, toward independents,” he said. “So you get two Democrats who win in one district, they go to the general election and the Democrat that can get Independents and even moderate Republicans to vote for them has a better chance to win.”

A few months ago, I spoke with one of the driving forces behind the open primary initiative.  He spelled out that point in more detail.  As he saw it, under the old system, parties would use the primaries to elect purist candidates who represented the extremes of their position.  Come the election, there were no moderate candidates on the ballot.  He saw this as the reason that California was such a fiscal disaster:  Because Democrats are the majority, nothing tempered them.  He believed that, open primaries, when financial moderates from either party were on the ballot, ordinary people would be drawn to these candidates, and would even cross party lines to vote for them.  Only moderate and fiscally sound candidates who appeal to the masses in the middle would win the top two spots on the November ballot.

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The Bookworm Beat 12-17-15 — the “speed writing” edition

Woman-writing-300x265Are you familiar with speed chess? I learned about it when I was at Cal. Since I worked at the Bancroft Library, I had access to an employee break room. Every day at lunch, two men would sit there, chess board in front of them, timer at their side, and make lightning swift moves, wrapping up a single game in minutes, not hours. What I’m going for here is speed blogging. I’ve got more than 20 links, and I’m going to try to share them with you in less than half an hour of writing. Here goes….

In 2006, Thomas Lifson wrote what I think is one of the best political articles ever.  In it, he explained that there are two seasons in American politics — Attention Season and Inattention Season.  The former has a remarkable way of concentrating American minds.  Right now, with the election nearing and terrorism within our borders again, Americans are starting to shift from Inattention to Attention.  I suspect this will change the polling dynamics substantially in the next few weeks.

Trump is the bad boy of this political season, by which I mean that he’s the cool guy in the leather jacket that all the girls want to date and to domesticate. Eventually, though, the girls discover that a bad boy may have a James Dean charm about him, but he’s still bad, meaning he’s bad for the girl (and he’s equally bad for the guys who want to run with his pack).  Kurt Schlichter perfectly articulates why  Donald Trump is one of those bad boys, and explains that he’s going to be a heart breaker for those conservatives who think that this lifelong Democrat is someone to hold on to during trying times.  Rubio and Cruz are probably the best choice for the nice steady boys who will come in and save the day.

If you’d like a short but deep run-down of the last Republican debate, and one with which I happen to agree, check out Seraphic Secret’s post about the debate.

Millennials are not the next greatest generation:  they want to see American troops defeat ISIS; they just don’t want to be among the troops doing the defeating.  Having said that, I’m in no position to sneer.  I am an armchair warrior at best and a coward at worst, and have always been incredibly grateful that there are men and women who are willing to do the necessary fighting that I’m scared to do.

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[VIDEO] Pat Condell on the attacks against our First Amendment *UPDATED*

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. It was all the way back in June that Servo1969 sent me the link to Pat Condell’s First Amendment video. (Yes, I fell behind on my emails . . . again.)

Anyway, Condell recorded this before the explosive insanity on American campuses after Halloween. It’s more powerful now than it was in June:

UPDATE: Another friend sent me this article about killing free speech and creating mass delusions. It seems like a good pair-up with Condell’s video.

Still, people can break free and can, and do, change their minds.

The Bookworm Beat 11-18-15 — “the mother of all round-ups” edition and open thread

Woman-writing-300x265I have been collecting links for days and will try to share them all with you. Here goes:

Only conservatives are paying attention

In an attempt to deflect attention of Muslim depredations in Paris, the Left and its foot soldiers (all of whom seem to be my Facebook friends) immediately attacked Americans and other Westerners for failing to pay attention to a bombing the day before in Lebanon (an ISIS v. Hezbollah bombing, so it was Horrible People v. Horrible People). I eventually got tired of commenting on their posts to the effect that I have been paying attention to all of these attacks, primarily because they are all different manifestations of a single radical Islamic entity, and I’ve been trying to get everyone to pay as much attention as I do.

Emma Kelly says what I was too polite to say explicitly to these Leftists: The reason you didn’t know about these other attacks isn’t because the newspapers didn’t report them, it’s because you weren’t paying attention.

I’ll add something that Kelly didn’t, though: You weren’t paying attention because American and European media outlets don’t want you to see that Islam is a problem, so they report on these incidents, but downplay them. Meanwhile you get loud noise about Ben Carson’s alleged lies, Hillary’s brilliance, Republicans’ meanness, Donald Trump’s hair, and Kim Kardashian’s pregnancy.

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[VIDEO] Alleged Campaign Finance Reform Stifles Free Speech

The dirty secret behind campaign finance reformWhen my Leftie friends talk about getting the Big Money out of politics, they’re very explicit about whose money they want out:  Money going to conservative and libertarian causes.  They’re fine with Soros’s and Steyer’s money.  Knowing that, I’m reflexively hostile to the campaign finance reform that Leftists demand is a predicate to freeing American politics from “big money.”  George Will goes into greater depth than that, explaining that campaign finance reform inherently restricts free speech and serves only to prop up incumbent politicians’ hold on office:

Yale madness: A little side note that nobody seems to have mentioned….

Yale-studentsI admit it. I can’t keep my eyes off the spectacle playing out at Yale and UMissouri, with side shows now taking place at campuses across America. I’ve been saying since my Berkeley days that American higher education is sick, sick, sick and, in a sad way, I feel vindicated. The rot that I sensed there in the early 1980s is finally working its way out from the center of the fruit, with the whole thing rupturing and spilling out its disgusting toxin. There are innumerable superb articles on the subject, and I’ll link to them below. I just wanted to point to one thing that I haven’t noticed anyone else mention.

When you read the articles about what happened at Yale, you’ll read that the Yale kerfuffle started when the “Department of Intercultural Affairs” (and God alone knows how much that department contributes to Yale’s hefty tuition) got the ball rolling shortly before Thanksgiving when it sent an email to all Yale students warning about the hidden dangers of Halloween costumes. And no, we’re not talking about costumes that (per elementary school lore) come from the undertakers and are soaked in deadly embalming fluid or costumes that make one blend into the darkness so perfectly that they raise exponentially the risk that a car will unknowingly crash into the wearer. Instead, the email warns about the horrors of costumes that — yikes! — might offend someone.

I believe this administrative email deserves to be quoted at some length, not just because it’s painfully, horribly, victim-centrically stupid, but also because of the Miss Nancy tone that I associate with the old Romper Room show from my childhood:

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The Bookworm Beat 11-1-15 — the Daylight Saving Time edition and open thread

Woman-writing-300x265I like to Fall backwards, since it means I rise with the sun, which is a lot easier than getting up in the deep of night. Still, I’ve been discombobulated today, my computer has been balky, and my brain sluggish. Both the computer and I seem to have Daylight Saving jet lag. Jet lag or not, though, I have articles to share:

Should anyone in America ever be too big to jail?

I was absolutely horrified when a McClatchy article suggested that Hillary is just too darn important to prosecute for her myriad, deliberate, and quite damaging national security violations:

But most who spoke to McClatchy say it’s unlikely the former first lady, senator and Cabinet secretary will face charges because of her high profile and the hurdle to prove she knew the emails contained classified information when she sent them to others.

“She’s too big to jail,” said national security attorney Edward MacMahon Jr., who represented former CIA employee Jeffrey Sterling in 2011 in a leak case that led to an espionage prosecution and 3½-year prison term. He cited a pattern of light punishments for top government officials who have mishandled classified information while lower level whistleblowers such as Sterling have faced harsh prosecutions for revealing sensitive information to expose waste, fraud or abuse in government.

Is this what our democracy has come to — the claim that Hillary Clinton, whose public career has been marked by corruption since her debut at Watergate — gets a pass because she’s just too darn elite and special?

Of course, that’s not the only problem with the McClatchy article. As my friend Wolf Howling wrote me,

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Brave New World — the Pronoun Edition *UPDATED*

cousin itCousin It moved into my brain today when I read Jay Nordlinger’s extended rumination on pronoun insanity at America’s institutions of “higher” education. (And why, precisely, are we sending our children to be indoctrina… er, “educated” at places in which everyone is quite obviously too high to function normally?)  You remember Cousin It, don’t you? A part of the extended Addams Family, Cousin It was a chattering, gender indeterminate mound of hair.

After Nordlinger explains the newest Leftist lunacy, with its savage attack on traditional pronouns, you too will find that Cousin It has taken residence behind your frontal lobe:

Recently, Donna Braquet, the director of the Pride Center at the University of Tennessee–Knoxville, wrote the following on the university’s website: “With the new semester beginning and an influx of new students on campus, it is important to participate in making our campus welcoming and inclusive for all. One way to do that is to use a student’s chosen name and their correct pronouns.”

Obviously, she thinks that “their” goes with “student” — which is very modern.

She had some advice for teachers. “In the first weeks of classes, instead of calling roll, ask everyone to provide their name and pronouns. This ensures you are not singling out transgender or non-binary students.” She also recommended that, at events where name tags are used, pronouns be printed beside names.

What are the optional pronouns, by the way? “There are dozens,” Braquet explained. These include “ze/hir/hirs,” “ze/zir/zirs,” and “xe/xem/xyr.” “These may sound a little funny at first,” said Braquet, “but only because they are new. The she and he pronouns would sound strange too if we had been taught ze when growing up.”

[snip]

What are PGPs, you ask? They’re “preferred gender pronouns.” I’ll let Cornell College, in Mount Vernon, Iowa, elaborate:

A preferred gender pronoun is a consciously chosen set of pronouns that allow a person to accurately represent their gender identity in a way that is comfortable for them. For example, a trans* person may begin using a gender-neutral pronoun prior to transitioning, and a gendered pronoun afterwards, or an agender, bigender or third-gender person may choose to use a neutral or invented pronoun.

Maybe fogeys have said this for millennia, but it’s not merely that I don’t quite understand the culture, I don’t even understand the language. That asterisk after “trans,” incidentally, does not lead to a footnote. That’s the way the word is spelled.

More from Cornell College: “Recognizing and accepting alternative gender pronouns helps gender-non-conforming people feel more comfortable with their gender identities and highlights the problems created by our cultureʼs strict gender binary.”

“Strict gender binary”? I have a feeling that this means men and women. I also have the feeling that it’s not strict enough.

Cornell has some recommendations for “normalizing” the exchange of PGPs. In other words, you give yours, I give mine. This ought to be normalized.

You can do this by “introducing yourself with your pronouns: ‘Hi my name is Dave, Iʼm a visiting professor, and my pronouns are he/him/his.” Then Dave is to “ask students to include their personal pronouns when introducing themselves as well.”

Here is advice for Dave and other professors: “When choosing readings for class try to include articles or examples that use gender neutral language or that feature gender-neutral or gender-ambiguous people.”

Sorry, my dear friends among the consciousness raising warriors on the Left, but it’s just too much to ask of me (a) to remember all those new pronouns (I always was bad at learning new languages) and (b) to know on any given day what pronoun a specific person felt applied upon awakening (and yes, you, the speaker, are supposed to know).

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In the presence of greatness: Ayaan Hirsi Ali *UPDATED*

Hirsi Ali, parlamentaria en La HayaYesterday, I had the very great privilege of attending the Pacific Research Institute’s annual Sir Antony Fisher Freedom Awards dinner. The honoree and keynote speaker was the luminous Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Because it would have been inappropriate to take notes at this posh, Ritz Hotel affair, I’ll try to reconstruct from memory as best I can what Ali said. Everything she said was worth hearing and I hope I can do her justice.

In order to appreciate the impact of Ali’s words, it helps to begin with her presence. She is a tall, slender, poised woman, whose manner is almost, but not quite, self-effacing. She understands her worth, but realizes that she is not the only hero in the never-ending fight to preserve individual liberties. Her voice is quiet, but strong; her accent gentle; and her grasp of the vernacular, while superb, is endearingly imperfect at times (as was the case when she referred to the Europeans’ smug belief that all Americans are fat “potato couches”).

Ali’s presence — quietly powerful and manifestly fulfilled by the role in which she finds herself — exemplifies the two points that underpin her every utterance: each individual’s value and the fact that freedom is necessary to enable individuals to reach their highest and best purpose in life — even if that purpose isn’t elevated in and of itself.

The other thing one needs to know about Ali in order to appreciate the important message she delivers is the event that catapulted her from being a Dutch politician to being a world figure. Ali had been working with Theo van Gogh (Vincent’s great-grand nephew) on Submission, a film exploring how Islam abuses and subjugates women. Mohammed Bouyeri took umbrage at this exercise of free speech and voiced his objection so savagely that, when he slaughtered van Gogh in the street, he left von Gogh almost completely decapitated. He then pinned a note to van Gogh’s body (by stabbing a knife through both the note and van Gogh’s chest) warning that Ali was next.

Others who shall not be named have gone into hiding after learning that sharia-inspired assassins are targeting them. Not so Ali. She went the other way, making it her life’s mission to expose tyranny in all forms, with special emphasis on Islamic tyranny, something she knows all too well.

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The Bookworm Beat 9-27-2015 — the “things that make you think” edition and open thread

Woman-writing-300x265

Boehner was merely an effective manager, rather than an effective conservative

Andrew Klavan is kind enough to point out that Boehner was in some measure a very effective House Majority Leader:

I can’t help but notice that under Boehner — and largely because of Boehner, because Boehner outsmarted President Obama in the 2013 budget negotiations — federal spending has declined over a five year period for the first time since the post World War II cutbacks. And because of this, as the economy has struggled to a sputtering recovery despite Democrat mismanagement, the deficit has been sharply reduced…

Also under Boehner — and also largely because of then-minority leader Boehner (and the likewise much-maligned-by-conservatives Mitch McConnell in the Senate) — the disaster of Obamacare is 100% attributable to the Democrats. It hasn’t got a single Republican fingerprint on it.

As Klavan sees it, Boehner’s fall came about solely because he wouldn’t engage in a head-to-head fight with Obama over Planned Parenthood.  Boehner believed (and still believes) that fight will destroy chances for a Republican victory in 2016.  I have two points to make.

First, if Boehner’s right that the fight will fail it’s in part because he refuses to engage in the fight at the intellectual level.  Carly Fiorina is the first prominent Republican to frame the fight in non-religious terms, and boy did she make the Left squirm when she did so.  In other words, part of why Boehner can’t win the fight is because, even though he’s pro-Life, he has absolutely no idea how to fight against abortion at anything other than a monetary level.

Second, speaking of that monetary level, the fight really boils down to something James Taranto said three years ago, and it’s about the difference between checkbook Republicans and ideologically-driven conservatives.  The context was the fact that Paul Ryan seemed to understand a conservative vision of small, not big, government:
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[VIDEO & POSTERS] The paralyzing effects of Leftist speech codes

censoredShould I apologize for the number of videos about free speech I’m sending your way today?  It’s just that there are so many good ones that friends have sent me that I feel compelled to share them.  Take, for example, Colin Quinn’s short, pungent, hysterically funny riff about the way in the Leftist speech police make ordinary conversation impossible:

I found the video especially relevant today because a friend of mine (nice gal, but very Left) posted two cartoons in the last two days, both of which she thought very meaningful and both of which are intended to shut down speech entirely:

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