The Bookworm Beat 5-26-15 — the “mad, mad, mad, mad world” edition and open thread

Woman-writing-300x265No time for chit-chat. I’ve got stuff to share:

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:

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The Bookworm Beat 5-8-15 — the “packing it up” edition and open thread

Woman writingThis weekend there’s a wedding that I’m very happy I’ll be able to attend. There are only two downsides: (1) The dogs have to go to the kennel and (2) I have to pack. Both those things make me sad. The posts to which I link are an equally mixed bag: They’re all wonderfully written but, considering that we live in Obama’s America, they’re depressing too.

Mike Huckabee is a moron

I don’t like Mike Huckabee. He’s got charisma and is quick with the quip, but his “conservativism” stops with social issues. In all other ways, he seems to be just another garden-variety southern demagogue with a penchant for big government. A Power Line reader caught Huckabee in a big lie about Medicare and Social Security:

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The difference between being responsible and taking responsibility

Responsibility1I know someone who is a very responsible person.  She holds a job, pays her bills on time, drives safely, and otherwise lives life according to the standards Americans have come to expect from their middle class.  As I said, she is a very responsible person.

However, it’s no contradiction if I add that she never takes responsibility for anything.  The things I’ve described above are things she does for her own benefit.  Her job gives her money and standing in her community, paying her bills protects her from late fees and the reputation as a dead-beat, driving safely keeps her alive, etc.  However, when anything in her life goes wrong, or when people ask something of her that doesn’t redound to her immediate benefit, she is nowhere to be found.  Well, that’s not quite true.  If you see an accusing finger pointing at you, or someone else, and placing the blame as far away as possible from this gal, I can guarantee you that she’s the one pointing that finger.

Just in case you’re wonder, I haven’t just described someone I know very well, I’ve described a Leftist.  And it’s not just that the gal I know is a Progressive Democrat; it’s that the entire ideology functions in the same way she does.  For 50 years, Democrats have owned Baltimore.  They’ve gotten the perks of government, in the form of power and glory.  They have been responsible people insofar as they sat in the mayor’s chair or held other government positions and they’ve done their job while holding those positions.

But now that something’s gone badly wrong in Baltimore, do they have ownership for those problems despite fifty years of “responsible” behavior?  Of course, not.  They are responsible, but they will never take responsibility for anything.  And the worse things are on their “responsible” watch, the more they frantically seek to cast blame elsewhere, totally disassociating themselves from the fruits of the oh-so-responsible labors.

It’s interesting how often the micro presages the macro.  Look at the pathologies of a Progressive you know, expand it outwards and — boom! — you’ve got the whole party.

[VIDEO] Bill Whittle’s “Progressivism : Empire of Lies.”

It’s always such a long wait between Bill Whittle videos, and then when he publishes a video, you realize why there was a long wait:  getting things this intelligent, informative, and entertaining cannot be rushed.  Please sit back and enjoy as Bill Whittle decimates the lies that underpin Progressives’ attacks on Americans:

I’ll try to be back to blogging later today. It’s been a life maintenance day, which translated means that I had to do legal work and work on my household accounting.

“American Sniper” — a Rorschach test separating the wheat from the chaff

308555id1i_TheJudge_FinalRated_27x40_1Sheet.inddI haven’t yet seen the movie American Sniper, but I have read Chris Kyle’s autobiography, on which it is based. I therefore believe that I am qualified to write on the topic.

Although, come to think of it, I’m not really going to write about American Sniper at all. Instead, I’m going to write about some of the reactions to American Sniper, which function as a Rorschach test of American (and, dare I say, un-American?) values.

I have to begin with the fundamental premise, one that drives the Left nuts, which is that Clint Eastwood, with help from a superb Bradley Cooper, has directed an incredibly good movie, one that doesn’t shy away from war’s ugliness, but that acknowledges, not just the physical bravery of our men, but also their moral decency.  As I try endlessly to explain to anybody who can listen, both good guys and bad guys kill. After all, no one will deny that a woman has acted bravely and honorably if she shoots to death the man trying to kill her child. Likewise, only sadistic psychopaths will applaud the broken bodies of Christians, Jews, women, children, gays, blacks, and the “wrong” kind of Muslims that ISIS, Boko Haram, al Qaeda, and other Islamic Jihad organizations leave in their wake.

Let me fall back here on my already wordy poster, one that’s targeted at the buffoonish Seth Rogen, but that addresses the larger issue, which is that why one kills matters as much as the fact that one does kill:

Seth Rogen and history 1

(I also won’t waste time in this post correcting the innumerable personal slurs the Left is now hurling at Chris Kyle, most of which are based upon a failure either to see the movie or read the book. Ian Tuttle, thankfully, takes care of setting that record straight.)

Mentioning Seth Rogen, though, leads me nicely back to the point I want to make in this post, which is an observation I first made to my friends on the Watcher’s Council: namely, that American Sniper has been remarkably effective at flushing weasels out from under cover, proving that good art frequently has multiple virtues.  For example, one of my neighbors, a nice, but rather brittle, angry woman, whose life has not treated her with the generosity she was raised to expect, posted the following image on Facebook:

Stupid Leftists don't understand heroes

Doesn’t that ugly, mean-spirited poster sum up just about everything that’s wrong with the Leftist view of the world? The wrongness of it all begins with the terrible slur against Kyle and all the other American troops who have fought against the same type of men who are now crucifying, raping, beheading, and generally rampaging their way across the Middle East, with occasional detours into Europe.  I know those men.  My Dad was one.

Really, there’s no sugar-coating it.  For five years of his life, my Dad was a hate-filled killer.  He poured  his energy, brains, skill, and courage into slaughtering as many people as he possibly could.  If he could have killed more, he would have.

In case you’re wondering, Daddy wasn’t Dexter or Charles Manson or Stalin.  Instead, he was an ordinary foot soldier in WWII, fighting with the RAF and ANZAC in the Mediterranean theater.

During all those years of fighting, mostly in North Africa with detours into Greece and Crete, Daddy wasn’t glorying in slaughter for the thrill of it.  He didn’t kill to slake blood lust or because he was a racist.  In fact, quite the opposite.  He was killing because he understood the stakes, which was to stop the spread of genocidal racism:  If he didn’t do his bit to halt the Nazis in North Africa, those same Nazis would descend on Palestine, and with the help of the enthusiastic ancestors of today’s ISIS, have slaughtered where they stood every Jewish man, woman, and child in the British Mandate of Palestine.

Chris Kyle and his comrades, as Kyle made clear in his book, didn’t kill Iraqis because they took a sadistic glee in a human turkey shoot.  They killed specific Iraqis who were bound and determined to kill the Americans (which is ground enough to want to kill the Iraqis first) and, moreover, who were equally bound and determined to put into place precisely the ideological governance we now see in the Middle East with ISIS and in Nigeria with Boko Haram.

Ultimately, Kyle and his comrades were killing humans fatally infected with a deadly ideological disease.  These men understood (and, wherever they still fight, understand) that people infected with genocidal, imperialist, tyrannical values need to be exterminated just as surely as we kill a rabid dog or, 70 years ago, as we killed rabid Nazis.  Unfortunately, the reality of war is that, when we kill the guilty, we sometimes kill the innocent.  My Dad knew that, amongst the Nazis he was fighting were ordinary Germans who were forced by circumstances to fight for those same rabid Nazis.

Knowing that didn’t stop Daddy, or any of the other Allied troops.  They understood that this is how the world works.  (For more of my thoughts on that specific topic, you can check out my annual Passover post.)  As Daddy once said, you cannot fight a war if you don’t hate your enemy — by which he meant if you don’t hate the values your enemy seeks to advance.

So, clearly, one level of Leftist stupidity is its members’ complete inability to understand that soldiers can hate the ideology without doing the Leftist thing and turning everything into some agonized Greek tragedy about racism, sexism, homophobia, and third world victimization.  Smart people are able to winnow out good from bad, and they know in which directions to aim their guns.

But there’s a second level of stupidity at work in that ugly, mean-spirited poster, and that’s the stupidity that is unable to comprehend that, without the sheepdogs, the sheep aren’t able to go around sweetly and smugly ministering to the less fortunate among them.  Please believe me that I don’t intend to be snide about charity.  I think charity is a wonderful thing, provided that it’s not forced upon people through government coercion.  It’s one thing for me, while exercising my values, to donate my time, money, and labor to aid those less fortunate than I.  It’s another thing entirely when the government, with a gun aimed at my head, announces that I’ve volunteered to donate 50% of my annual income to help those that the government deems should be recipients of government beneficence.

Putting aside my irritation at a government that denies me the opportunity to redistribute my own wealth, let me get to the real issue and the real stupidity behind that poster:  There is no charity when there is no civil society.  Charity works when society is sufficiently stable, free, and predictable that people can actually earn and keep money — and then give it away if they want to.  A strong, infrastructure underlying a free, market-based society creates both extra time and extra wealth, not to mention a capacity for empathy that is utterly lacking when people are suffering under either complete anarchy or sadistic, malevolent totalitarian rule.

You, my dear, smug Leftists, are able to boast in self-aggrandizing tones about your ability to shake down hard-working citizens only because men like Chris Kyle are willing to do the dirty work of keeping both tyrants and anarchy at bay.  You’re like the person who dines in style on the steak, but sneeringly describes as a hillbilly the rancher who raised that cow and as a murderer the butcher who got that lovely filet mignon to your table.

Great art not only opens our minds, but it enable us to see with clarity those minds that cannot and will not open.  People who value freedom understand that there’s a price to pay for freedom’s blessings and we are appropriately and eternally grateful to those who are willing to do the dirty work that goes with paying that price.

Radical, jihadist, fundamentalist Islam (or whatever other nouns and adjectives you wish to apply to the 10% of the world’s Muslims who seek only to destroy) must be destroyed, lest we are all destroyed.  My problem is that I’m a tiny middle-aged Jewish woman, who is a great target, but a lousy fighter.  I live because Chris Kyle, and the SEALS, and the Marines, and the Navy, and the Army, and the Air Force put themselves in front of me, as a living barrier protecting me from the abyss.

I pity those people who don’t appreciate the gift they’ve been given, and do nothing more than set themselves up as the socialist twins to those murderous Islamists that the Kyle’s of this world fight.  Because, really, once you strip away those smug words about the personal virtues of government funded charity, you discover that the Left and the Islamists are pretty much the same people.  It’s just that the Islamists have gone further down the path necessary to achieve their ultimate ends:

Radical Islamists and Leftists have identical beliefs

A “Letter of Solidarity” from Cal. State University, Northridge reads like a parody of Leftist anti-Americanism

Cal_State_University_NorthridgeI received in my email a copy of a “letter of solidarity” circulating amongst employees in the Masters of Social Work Department at California State University, Northridge (“CSUN”), a California taxpayer-funded institution that also receives federal tax dollars. In this solidarity letter, department members indict the entire American system for the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, as well as for the death and suffering of all other victim classes in America.

This apocalyptic, anti-American mindset begins with the cover letter accompanying the email:

From: Chavez, Naomi [XXXX@XXXX]
Sent: Friday, December 19, 2014 11:29 AM
To: Chavez, Naomi
Subject: IPT and Letter of Solidarity

Please reply directly to Jose Paez [XXXX@XXXX]

Attached please find the CSUN MSW Department Letter of Solidarity. Our attempt was to adequately capture the feelings of outrage, frustration, humiliation, shame and pain experienced by so many communities for so many generations without access to true justice or healing. Our letter builds from the work of Portland State University, Simmons College, and Smith College; joins the growing number of schools/departments that have made a public statement; and upholds our obligation as social workers to speak out against social injustices.

Our letter uses settler colonialism as a main lens and framework of analysis to interpret the current state of affairs within a historical context. We have addressed the historical traumas and provided evidence/examples of the intersecting oppressive forces which create the space for the persistent forms of state sanctioned violence we see today. We have created a brief yet thorough list of action items to hold us accountable.

If you have a chance, please take a moment to read this letter. We would like to gather and add as many signatures to this letter as possible. We are posting the letter to our Dept. website today–Friday (12/19). We also plan to email this document to President Harrison, as well as to our students. If you’d like your name to be added to this letter, please email José Paez (XXXX@XXXX) directly today (12/19) and he’ll add your name. If you miss the deadline, but would still like to be added, please email José and he’ll make sure you get added to the letter. Please let us know if you have any questions.

José Miguel Paez, LCSW
CSUN MSW Department
18111 Nordhoff Street
Northridge, Ca. 91330-8226
818 [XXX-XXXX]

That cant-filled email is just a mild prelude.  To fully appreciate how an American university can write in language that, barring 21st century updates for gays and transgenders, almost perfectly replicates anti-American tirades emanating from Moscow during the height of the Cold War, you have to read the actual “Letter of Solidarity” (click on images to enlarge):

CSUN MSW Dept Letter of Solidarity_Page_1

CSUN MSW Dept Letter of Solidarity_Page_2

Not only does the letter consist entirely of turgid, Marxist academic writing (which sees the authors expressing solidarity with “Victims of interlocking forms of oppression including racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and classism”), it refers to a factual universe unrelated to any reality outside of the fevered halls of academia.  For example, I strongly suspect that both Garner and Brown would have been surprised to find themselves lumped in with gays, women, transsexuals, and Hispanic immigrants responsible for taking jobs blacks once held. To their minds — and, no doubt, to the minds of the black communities running riot all over America — there is no comparison between black oppression and any oppression visited on all the other people on that list.  That’s especially true for those victims of sex and gender-related “isms.” American blacks are, after all, profoundly homophobic.

After this preliminary throat-clearing about all the victims of this cruel, cruel American world, the letter gets to its main point:  It is a sweeping indictment of an irreparably tainted political, social, and legal system that has its origins in white patriarchal colonialism:

We acknowledge that the above-­‐mentioned cases illustrate the evolution of our legal institutions to uphold racial, gender, class, and sexual orientation hierarchies. We recognize that our legal system was designed within the context of settler colonialism; that it continues to disempower, segregate, and eradicate specific communities and people, while retaining privilege for white, middle class, heteronormative, Christian families.

To support this scathing ideological charge against America, the letter proceeds to specifics.  These specifics sound like facts, but are in fact so twisted and perverted that they have all the reality of a fun-house mirror.  I’ve set forth each “fact,” followed by a note about inaccuracies or irrational lines of thinking:

[1] This is evidenced by the epidemics of mass incarceration and deportation [Note: It's unclear what "epidemics of mass incarcertation" exercise the letter's signatories. What's certain is that Obama's administration has tried to halt deportations despite the fact that it is obligated by law to remove people who are in the country illegally, and that deportation numbers have dropped dramatically.];

[2] the overrepresentation of youth of color and LGBTQ youth within child welfare and juvenile justice systems [Note: This is tragic and true -- and no doubt arises from the fact that children of color come disproportionately from single mother homes, with the absence of a father a clear indicator of both child poverty and criminality.  LGBTQ youth belong to a demographic that consistently rates higher in drug use and alcoholism (despite record acceptance of homosexuality amongst the peers of gay youth), two activities that often result in imprisoned young people. In other words, the high incarceration rates arise not because the criminal system is cruel but because the social systems in which these young people live are cruel.];

[3] disparate health outcomes and accessibility to healthcare [Note: As just one article from the thousands available on the internet indicates, while it's tempting to blame a discriminatory system for different health outcomes, the problems of disparate outcomes run deeper, touching upon lifestyle choices (e.g., unprotected sex, cigarette smoking, unhealthy diets due to cultural mores); employment options (e.g., more dangerous construction jobs for young Hispanic men); cultural dependence on non-effective faux-medical options; language barriers; etc.];

[4] Stop and Frisk and other policing tactics used to intimidate and harass [Note: Stop and Frisk, by stopping petty crime before it becomes major crime, has probably saved more minority lives than just about any other program in America. It is a sad truth that those getting stopped and frisked are themselves minorities, but at least they're not preying on their own community.];

[5] racial and religious profiling at borders and within communities of color [Note: Without digging up citations for this, I can state with some certainty that, at our Southern border, we're not getting a lot of blonde, blue-eyed Swedish youth trying to cross into this country illegally. Instead, those sneaking across our borders are darker-skinned Hispanics and the occasional fanatical Muslim. In the real world, as opposed to the magical Marxist world, profiling for fair-skinned Christians or Jews would be delusional, not practical.];

[6] murder of transgender people, especially those of color [Note: It appears that transgender people have a horrifically high murder rate, and this is a tragedy. People with insufficiently controlled lizard brains (you know, the primitive part of the brain that behaves atavistically) react very badly to transgender people. I'm not sure how this works as an indictment of the police or even of our government and social systems, given that our government, our social systems, and our police all work to prevent these murders, not encourage them.];

[7] heightened rates of sexual assault and racialized forms of sexual harassment perpetrated against women of color [Note: Contrary to what's implied in this clause, which lacks a subject noun, black women are not raped by those "white, middle class, heteronormative, Christian" men that the Letter's signatories hate so much. They are overwhelmingly raped by black men.];

[8] normalization of militarized police forces specifically in the lowest income neighborhoods [Note: I'm not happy with our increasingly militarized police either, since it has the tendency to create in police the mindset that, rather than being the public's servants, they are its masters. On the other hand, of late police have had good reason to go into some neighborhoods armed for battle]; and

[9] failure to indict police officers who are captured on video killing unarmed persons [Note: This is probably a reference to Garner, a morbidly obese man who was videotaped in a non-fatal headlock, as opposed to a "chokehold," and who died later because of a heart attack.  In other words, facts and hysteria do not match.].

The people who view American through this grim, factually twisted prism are utterly blind to the fact that, in principle since its founding and in practice for much of the 20th century, America has been a country predicated on individual freedom. When those freedoms have been denied, that denial has come about because of too much government control — as in the antebellum and Jim Crow south, for example, both of which represented the foul apex of American state control over individual liberties — not because of too little government control. Individuals can behave stupidly and meanly, but the real problems begin when government takes sides — and government always takes sides because, no matter the action it takes, some will benefit and some will not.

Worse than sad, though, is the fact that this unwholesome, perverse world view is internalized by and emanates from people who have significant control over young minds. After all, the signatories to this document are teachers in CSUN’s Department of Social Work. Whether they teach students who take a casual class to fulfill some sort of requirement or students who are majoring in social work, the department has at some time access to a large percentage of a student body numbering about 38,000 students annually.

Of those 38,000 students, each one who comes through the doors of the Department of Social Work is exposed to this unfiltered anti-American, anti-white, anti-male, anti-Christian doctrine. Each student’s grades is dependent upon his or her ability to remember and regurgitate this toxic Leftist ideology.  Once credentialed, these students then spread throughout America’s schools and social institutions, carrying this dark, hate-filled, self-victimized vision with them wherever they go. They are carriers of a deadly social worldview, just as surely as Typhoid Mary was a carrier of a deadly disease.

The moral lessons that Jonathan Gruber could have learned from a brain-damaged man

Jonathan Gruber Health Care Obamacare for DummiesTrey Gowdy conduct a masterful examination of MIT Prof. Jonathan “Stupid Americans” Gruber.  What made it so good was that he had Gruber repeatedly offer the canned defense that he (Gruber) was arrogant, stupid, and ill-informed.  That defense might have flown once but, when a formerly boastful MIT professor said it over and over again, it quickly appeared insincere:

The incredible sweet spot in this examination comes right after Gruber robotically repeats again that he isn’t a politician, and he was just trying to make himself look smarter. Gowdy, in that slow, Southern drawl (the kind that makes Northeastern leftists mistakenly assume that Southerners are stupid), then says, “And again your defense is that you’re not a politician. The lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. Well, what is a non-politician doing talking about political advantages?”

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[VIDEO] Ben Shapiro exposes both the lies — and the reason for the lies — about Ferguson

The two Michael BrownsThe longer I’ve lived as a conservative — which still doesn’t equal the number of years I spent as a younger person on the Left — the more I’ve come to realize that one of the gaping chasms between conservatives and the Left is truth or the absence of truth. Conservatives construct their narratives around facts. Leftists eschew facts and focus entirely on the narrative. And really, if you don’t have any fealty to the truth, it’s a smart thing to do: Unfettered narrative is always going to be the more entertaining and accessible, because it’s expressly created to capture the audience’s interest.

As Ben Shapiro explains, the Left’s Ferguson narrative perfectly illustrates the fact v. narrative divide between conservatives and the Left:

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Leftists are toddlers at heart — which is a very, very bad thing

Toddler having temper tantrumI’ve been thinking a lot about Leftists and toddlers. I should start with my biases: I absolutely hated it when my kids were toddlers. On the one hand, they were cute and it was exciting to see them develop as little people, soaking in the world like a sponge. After all, these were my little progeny.

On the other hand, dealing with a toddler’s greed, frustration, anger, impatience, resistance to toilet training, and temper-tantrums got old really quickly. The only useful thing about the whole experience was that it left me thinking that the Catholic Church is correct — we are born in sin and it takes an enormous amount of parental and societal effort and pressure to subordinate our innate wickedness and to replace it with civilized behavior.

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America’s morality vacuum — if you’re the right victim class, if it feels good, do it

Moses receives the ten commandmentsSince the day I started blogging, I’ve returned repeatedly to an issue I find fascinating: America’s retreat from a God-derived, externally driven moral system in favor of an alleged moral system that is, in fact, a peculiar amalgam of emotion (“if it feels good, do it”), arrogance (“I’m Ivy League educated, which enables me to understand the real moral issues here”), and Marxist-based (social or economically oppressed people always behave morally if their transgressions are against “the man”). I’m returning to this issue today because Jonah Goldberg has a new article — actually, an excerpt from his contribution to a new book — that also examines this phenomenon, although at a deeper level and with greater style than I could ever achieve.

Because I’m a firm believer in eating dessert last and in writing my posts so that they build up to a stirring crescendo, I’m going to begin this post with my own meager offerings on the subject of America’s new morality before getting to Goldberg’s article and the ideas it raises.

To explain my fascination with America’s tremendous moral shift, I credit a news story I heard and a movie I watched during my long years as a generic Democrat.  They made me realize that we are in a time when our popular culture encourages every man and women to be his own god — at least if that man and that woman include in their doctrine the basic premise that men are bad, white men are really bad, and that everyone else lives in a hierarchy of victimhood that determines their moral-status.

It was an NPR report I heard in the 1990s (and that I cannot locate in the NPR archives) that first alerted me that America was well on its way to abandoning traditional moral notions, especially those predicated on the Ten Commandments. As best as I can remember, the report was about an American high school that was trying to deal with an escalation of student-against-student crime, most of which, I think, involved theft. The school instituted special classes during which a counselor would talk with groups of students in an effort to get them to change their habits. The NPR reporter attended one of those classes.

During the class, the counselor had the students imagine a scenario in which they’d left their wallet behind and someone walked off with it. Once the students had that picture firmly in mind, the counselor asked them to discuss their feelings. The students readily did so, describing anger, frustration, sadness, perhaps empathy (if they imagined the thief needing stolen money to buy food), a desire for revenge, etc. After all the student had talked about their feelings, the counselor suggested that, if they stole something, their victim might also experience those same feelings. The implication was that it’s not nice to inflict negative feelings on others.

This being the 1990s, when the journey from garden-variety Democrat to hard-core Progressive was still a work in progress, the reporter was taken aback, something that I doubt would happen today. I remember his wrap-up, during which he noted that the counselor never once mentioned that, as a moral matter, stealing was wrong. Empathy was the name of the game.

The reporter may have been perplexed by this omission, but even then, despite my Democrat identification, I wasn’t. If the students had been so bold as to ask the counselor why stealing is wrong, the counselor would have been at a loss for words. His answer would have boiled down to “because it is.” The reality is that, because religion is banned from schools, the counselor had no higher authority to justify the claim that stealing is wrong. The only thing he could do was point to feelings — which are definitely real for the person experiencing them — and to hope that teenagers, who are collectively the most narcissistic beings on earth, would have a sudden burst of empathy that would override their selfish, and presumably irresistible, urge to make someone else’s possessions their own.

A few years later, in 2000 (when I was still thinking of myself as a liberal Democrat), I watched The Contender, a movie in which Joan Allen played a candidate for Vice President who was the victim of appalling sexual slanders put about by Republican villains so dastardly that they made Snidely Whiplash look staid and restrained.  During her darkest hour, Allen goes an empty basketball court where, while shooting basket after basket, she breathlessly recites the doctrinal beliefs of what she calls a church based in “this very chapel of democracy” (i.e., Congress).

Here’s the video, followed by a transcript:

Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentleman of the Committee.  Remarkably enough, it seems that I have some explaining to do.  So, let me be absolutely clear.

I stand for a woman’s right to choose.

I stand for the elimination of the death penalty.

I stand for a strong and growing armed forces because we must stamp out genocide on this planet, and I believe that that is a cause worth dying for.

I stand for seeing every gun taken out of every home.  Period.

I stand for making the selling cigarettes to our youth a federal offense.

I stand for term limits and campaign reform.

And, Mr. Chairman, I stand for the separation of Church and State, and the reason that I stand for that is the same reason that I believe our forefathers did. It is not there to protect religion from the grasp of government but to protect our government from the grasp of religious fanaticism.

Now, I may be an atheist, but that does not mean I do not go to church. I do go to church. The church I go to is the one that emancipated the slaves, that gave women the right to vote, that gave us every freedom that we hold dear. My church is this very Chapel of Democracy that we sit in together, and I do not need God to tell me what are my moral absolutes. I need my heart, my brain, and this church.

(A decade after watching The Contender, and being rather stunned by its navel-gazing in lieu of traditional morality I wrote a post explaining how Allen’s monologue sounds remarkably like something Barack Obama would say. A couple of months after that post, I again had occasion to note that Hollywood movies conflate the Progressive platform with an absolute moral code.)

By 2006, when I’d finally crossed the Rubicon and become a full-blown constitutional conservative, my sense about the politicization of morality, and its alliance with Marxist political doctrine, was well-enough developed to become a post at American Thinker. The catalyst for that article was yet another movie — Maria Full of Grace — from 2004.  Maria Full of Grace follows the sordid picaresque adventures of a small-town Latin American girl who comes to America as a drug mule. I disliked the character’s narcissism and amorality, but didn’t really get steamed about it until I somehow wandered across the reviews written when the movie was first released.

What horrified me was that the MSM’s movie critics, all of whom hew left, were raving about Maria’s moral righteousness — and this despite her many traditionally immoral acts.  For example, when Maria found she was pregnant, she refused to marry the father of her child.  Once having dumped her boyfriend, she became a drug mule and then, when the drug lords were after her, she deliberately placed innocent people (including children) in danger in order to protect herself. As far as the critics were concerned, the fact that Maria lived a dead-end life in Mexico (“Maria is a victim of economic pressures,” said Roger Ebert), her choices were all righteous. She was a victim and, just as blacks cannot be racist (never mind the slurs they direct at other races or creeds), it appears that, in the Marxist economic hierarchy, poor people cannot be immoral.

Given my ongoing thoughts about America’s changing definition of morality, you can imagine how excited I was today when I read Jonah Goldberg’s Empty Integrity, an essay he wrote for The Seven Deadly Virtues: 18 Conservative Writers on Why the Virtuous Life is Funny as Hell. Using pop culture as a springboard, Goldberg examines way in which Americans are being encouraged to abandon traditional morality in favor of feelings.  Goldberg describes a pop culture in which interesting people with whom we are made to empathize are viewed as morally superior to boring, unpleasant people, regardless of the fact that the former have utterly abandoned traditional morality (e.g., criminal mastermind Walter White, from Breaking Bad), while the latter are still trying to conform to that same traditional moral behavior (e.g., Walter White’s wife).

With his trademark humor, Goldberg cites to one hugely popular show after another, in which audiences are encouraged to identify with, or at least root for, the villain, rather than the good guy. This is an inversion of pretty much all Western popular culture going back thousands of years. To help constrain human conduct, Western cultures have defined what is “good” (the Judeo-Christian culture uses the Bible to provide this definition) and has then shaped its popular culture to elevate and make this good accessible. Now, though, with Hollywood in thrall to a worldview that denigrates faith, and believes that morality is the same as feelings — provided, of course — that those feelings are being felt by a member of the victim class — there simply is no room in entertainment for the traditionally moral guy to be either interesting or successful.

Or, as Goldberg says:

The truth is, it’s hard to find a children’s cartoon or movie that doesn’t tell kids that they need to look inside themselves for moral guidance. Indeed, there’s a riot of Rousseauian claptrap out there that says children are born with rightly ordered consciences. And why not? As Mr. Rogers told us, “You are the most important person in the whole wide world and you hardly even know you.” Hillary Clinton is even worse. In her book It Takes a Village, she claims that some of the best theologians she’s ever met have been five-year-olds (which might be true when compared with a certain homicidal Ukrainian priest).

Such saccharine codswallop overturns millennia of moral teaching. It takes the idea that we must apply reason to nature and our consciences in order to discover what is moral and replaces it with the idea that if it feels right, just do it, baby. Which, by the by, is exactly how Lex Luthor sees the world. Übermenschy passion is now everyone’s lodestar. As Reese Witherspoon says in Legally Blonde, “On our very first day at Harvard, a very wise professor quoted Aristotle: ‘The law is reason free from passion.’ Well, no offense to Aristotle, but in my three years at Harvard I have come to find that passion is a key ingredient to the study and practice of law — and of life.” Well, that solves that. Nietzsche-Witherspoon 1, Aristotle 0.

The above two paragraphs, while amusing and informative on their own, don’t do justice to Goldberg’s carefully (and amusingly) developed thesis about the death of traditional morality in America. I urge you to read the whole thing.

Because the intellectual universe often harmonizes nicely once I get an idea my head, just an hour or so ago, a friend sent me an article showing that Jonah Goldberg and I aren’t the only ones thinking about the way in which morals are becoming de-valued in America, especially because of Marxist thought. Larry Correia, who earned well-deserved internet fame for his Second Amendment defense after the Sandy Hook shooting, has written a sterling post about the peculiar “morality” amongst self-styled Social Justice Warriors (“SJWs”).

Social Justice, as you’ll recall, is a movement predicated upon dressing the tenets of Progressivism up as moral imperatives. Leftist churches that don’t have time for Christ’s teachings, as well as Leftist synagogues that find the Torah old-fashioned, are big on social justice teachings which fill the gap created when House’s of Worship cling to their religious status despite having actually abandoned their religion.

The occasion for Correia’s post was a breaking story from SJW-land about the fact that one of its members, using a variety of alias’s, used the SJW’s crude tactics of insults, threats, intimidation, etc., against his fellow SJWs. Horrors! After absolutely savaging the SJW’s hypocrisy because of the way it accuses mild-mannered conservatives of oppression, intimidation, etc. — and then uses precisely those tactics to destroy the conservative — Correia gets down to the whole privilege hierarchy that the SJWs use to justify their hypocrisy:

If you really want to see just how stupid people can get, read the comments, where SJWs argue about “privilege”, where a bunch of white, liberal suburbanites excuse attacks on people who disagree with them, because they probably possess some nebulous concept of privilege. Like me for example, I grew up with Portuguese Dairy Farmer Privilege, where all that back breaking manual labor, knee deep in cow shit, at 3:00 in the morning, in order to scrape by in near poverty all those years, somehow turned me white and made it so that it was okay for SJWs to lie about me.

Privilege sounds awesome. You guys should totally get some of it.

Please read the rest here. It’s that good.

Reading the above, I’m reminded of that old joke that “everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.” Any person who has even a vestigal sense that traditional morality serves society well because it demands that people behave well towards others (and then enforces that demand by reminding people that running afoul of these rules could cause eternal damnation), is going to be worried about the fact that we’re dangerously deep into “do-it-yourself morality” territory. ”  Do-it-yourself morality is sold as a paradise in which people’s innate innocence, empathy, and good sense (something everyone who has ever cared for a toddler knows is a fantasy concept) inevitably lead them to do the right thing, resulting in a pastoral wonderland where the lion lies down with the lamb.

When this particular fantasy fails — which is always a surprise to the useful idiots — the new moralists tell the public that there is, in fact, original sin.  Unlike that stodgy Catholic teaching about original sin, however, true original sin doesn’t occur in all people.  Instead, it’s only to be found in oppressors. Oppressors are guilty of everything; the oppressed are guilty of nothing. Under this paradigm, morality is what the oppressed do to relieve themselves of the weight of oppression. Interestingly enough (at least to the ever credulous useful idiots), this so-called morality doesn’t work either. Indeed, it has an uncanny knack of leading first to riots (think: Ferguson) and then to rebellion and revolution.

Once rebellion and revolution are on the menu, the likelihood of a freedom-based constitution emerging is close to nil. (If you want an analogy, try to imagine how many monkeys, on how many keyboards, for how many years, would be able to come up with that doctrine. Can’t imagine that?  Neither can I.  The Founding Fathers were not the norm; they were a complete anomaly, and their like will probably never been seen again.) What inevitably emerges from the chaos is faith in the strongman, whether that strongman is big government or big dictator.

Our Man Obama of the Blessed Pen and Phone is working hard to merge these two bigs, with a Big Man heading a Big Government.  “Mess on the border? Don’t worry, with a stroke of the pen, I’ll erase the whole problem of illegal aliens by redefining them as legal.” “Concerns about two-tier pricing for broadband internet access?  No fear. With the stroke of a pen, I’ll bring the internet in the government fold, along with one of my solid-gold, time-tested promises that this act is to free the internet from businesses, rather than to subordinate it to government.”

When it comes to America’s fall from a traditional morality that is premised on externally imposed values of justice, respect, and grace, and enforced by the hand of God, it’s frightfully easy to talk about the problem, and to describe its various manifestations in great detail, . What to do about the problem, though, remains the big question. As Jonah Goldberg’s article makes clear, even those of us who decry this bizarre societal fall from grace are avid consumers of the same Hollywood and Madison Avenue fare that drives the fall.

So, having written this nice, very long post, I have a question for you: What steps can we, as ordinary individuals take, to try to resurrect the notion of a morality that transcends human emotions and politics, and that must be enforced if a society is to survive and thrive?