Monday morning round-up and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesI’m still clearing out the inbox, but I’ve also got some current stuff in here, so I consider this a round-up. I’ll just dive in, with the stuff presented here in pretty random order:

Last Sunday, a New York Times op-ed addressed “Why People Don’t Donate Their Kidneys.” Sally Satel, the author, recognized that we don’t want to pay people for body parts, but thinks that she’s figured out a clever way around it by giving them non-cash rewards. Frankly, that strikes me as the same immorality, just wearing different clothes.

I suspect people don’t donate their kidneys for the same reason I haven’t: People like having a back-up system. They like knowing that, if one kidney fails, they’ve got another one available, instead of having to depend on the kindness of strangers. That investment in a back-up changes when the kidney donation becomes personal.  That happens when the kidney donee is a family member, close friend, or even a stranger who touched a chord in the donor. Without that personal touch, people kind of like to hang on to the spare.

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Have you heard of Archbishop John Joseph Hughes, aka “Dagger” John, aka the first Catholic Archbishop of New York?  I hadn’t, so I found absolutely fascinating this City Journal article about the way in which he brought discipline and purpose to the vast cadre of lawless, self-destructive Irish immigrants who had been so deeply traumatized by the horrors of the famine in Ireland and the societal disintegration that followed in its wake:

Hughes’s solution for his flock’s social ills was to re-spiritualize them. He wanted to bring about an inner, moral transformation in them, which he believed would solve their social problems in the end. He put the ultimate blame for their condition squarely on the historical oppression they had suffered at the hands of the English, which he said had caused them “to pass away from the faith of their ancestors,” robbing them of the cultural heritage that should have guided their behavior. But that was in the past: now it was time for them to regain what they had lost. So he bought abandoned Protestant church buildings in Irish wards, formed parish churches, and sent in parish priests on a mission of urban evangelization aimed at giving the immigrants a faith-based system of values.

With unerring psychological insight, Hughes had his priests emphasize religious teachings perfectly attuned to re-socializing the Irish and helping them succeed in their new lives. It was a religion of personal responsibility that they taught, stressing the importance of confession, a sacrament not widely popular today—and unknown to many of the Irish who emigrated during the famine, most of whom had never received any religious education. The practice had powerful psychological consequences. You cannot send a friend to confess for you, nor can you bring an advocate into the confessional. Once inside the confessional, you cannot discuss what others have done to you but must clearly state what you yourself have done wrong. It is the ultimate taking of responsibility for one’s actions; and it taught the Irish to focus on their own role in creating their misfortune.

How do we respiritualize a society that seems, lately, to concern itself solely with sexual license? It can be done, you know. Hughes did it with the Irish immigrants. The Victorians (especially the Evangelical movement) did it as a response to the worst excesses of the Georgian and Regency eras. Presumably, we can do it too.

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The Daily Mail’s profile of Lt. John Randall, the first member of the Allied troops to enter Bergen Belsen is a useful reminder that “Holocaust denial” means denying the reality of the past, one that was experienced by millions, witnessed by thousands, and proudly documented by its perpetrators. In this regard, it differs from “climate change denial,” which involves rejecting a predictive theory that, so far, has been wrong approximately 90% of the time.

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Apropos that whole climate change thing, you can get a good insight here into the hoax that serial liar Michael Mann perpetrated with his famed hockey stick graph, a graph to which the Left still clings to “prove” that climate change is real.

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When Hillary came to the Bay Area in early April, John, of The City Square, was there to record the protests. Should Hillary run in 2016, she will face a lot of opposition, based upon a long history of dubious, frequently immoral, and possibly criminal behavior. Benghazi is just the exclamation point to a long, unsavory career.

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The reliably Leftist, tax-payer funded NPR just hired a new, reliably Leftist CEO. What I found so amusing was the WaPo’s article about his hiring, which expressed surprise and dismay that NPR had problems sticking to its budget (emphasis mine):

[Jarl] Mohn, who has a reputation as a turnaround specialist, will inherit an organization that has been battling persistent operating deficits. It is projecting a deficit of $6.1 million in its current fiscal year, or a little more than 3 percent of its projected revenue of $178 million. The gap between revenue and expenses led NPR to offer buyouts to its 840 employees in September, in an effort to pare about 10 percent of its staff.

Could it be that NPR has operating deficits because it knows that, unlike an actual business, its deficits are meaningless? A real business goes under when it has chronic deficits. A government-funded business simply gets more money from the government. And yes, NPR likes to point out that it gets a large part of its budget from corporate and individual donations, but the fact is, it knows that the government will always be there to bail it out.

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The Left is all about its fealty to science . . . until that fealty clashes with political correctness. When that happens, it’s under the bus for you. In this case, the sinner is long-time New York Times science writer Nicholas Wade, who looks at differing genetic data in sub-Saharan Africans and reaches non-PC conclusions. His conclusions could be entirely wrong, of course, but Leftists won’t debate him, they’ll just erase him.  (Remember, on the Left, the debate is always over.)

As someone who believes in evolution, I’ve also assumed that certain tribes have, over the centuries, encouraged certain traits. For example, in societies where hunting prey (and running fast so as not to become prey) are necessary for survival, those who successfully passed their DNA down would have been the fast runners, not the slow. With the DNA inheritance, you would soon have a tribe composed of very fast people. Jews, when viewed as a tribe, have always centered their lives around the Bible.  It therefore makes sense that those with a certain academic bent would be most successful in passing on their DNA. The result would be that Jews would excel at tasks requiring an academic bent.  Even Hollywood is an example of genetic selection. For decades, starting in the 1920s, many of the most attractive people in America poured into that city. Most never ended up in pictures. Instead, they married each other and created generations of good-looking Southern California kids with straight noses, good jaw lines, and great figures.

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In case you didn’t know, Ambassador Christopher Stevens wasn’t “murdered.” Nope. According to “journalist” and Democrat party shill Eleanor Clift, he died of smoke inhalation after a movie review ran amok. You and I are now thinking, “How can anyone still parrot that line after the revelation about the Ben Rhodes Benghazi email? She must be really stupid.” She’s not. We’re stupid. Clift understands the whole concept of the Big Lie, and recognizes that it will still work if you’re the party that controls the media.

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I know nothing about football, but I posited yesterday that Michael Sam was going to be trouble for the Rams. Jazz Shaw, who does know something about football, agrees. Moreover, he does so for the same reason I gave: unless the Rams treat Sam like the crown prince of the game, they’re going to get raked over the coals in the media (which, after all, is their conduit to the money people pay).  As it is, the “re-education” has already started.

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Ruth Wisse, one of the few conservative professors at Harvard, writes a powerful opinion piece about the closing of the academic mind. Today’s students will not speak out. They’ve been taught that they’re worthless (“check your privilege at the door”), and their professors are impenetrably wrapped up in their self-righteous and invariably vindictive Leftism.

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I’ve stated repeatedly that one of the things that turned me away from my staunch pro-choice position was the pro-death attitude that permeates the abortion rights movement. Andrew Klavan, another former pro-abortion person, comments on the same thing, but more powerfully than I could.

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My friend Gary Buslik has written two hysterically funny books: Akhmed and the Atomic Matzo Balls: A Novel of International Intrigue, Pork-Crazed Termites, and Motherhood and A Rotten Person Travels the Caribbean: A Grump in Paradise Discovers that Anyplace it’s Legal to Carry a Machete is Comedy Just Waiting to Happen. He recently got interviewed over at “Divorced Girl Smiling” and, as you can probably guess, the interview is laugh out loud funny. I found especially amusing the bit about cats and high heels, in part because of this picture, which has been making the rounds on Facebook:

Dog in heels

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And finally, from Prager University, a short lesson about forgiveness. There was nothing new in it for me, but I liked how well-organized it was, and I especially liked the reminder that forgiveness is psychology important, not just for the person seeking forgiveness but, in certain circumstances, for the one doing the forgiving:

Indoctrination at schools focuses on fantasy ills, while simultaneously denying reality

GaslandAmerica’s educational institutions aren’t taking antisemitism seriously — despite the mount of proof (often from the killers themselves) showing that tens of millions have died from antisemitism over the centuries.

Meanwhile, as antisemitism surges unchecked on America’s campuses, schools are taking very seriously fracking, even in the absence of any proof that it’s killed any one, ever.

It’s possible that schools aren’t taking antisemitism seriously because, at least in some schools, denying it is part of their curriculum: Witness the now-infamous Common Core assignment in the Rialto Unified School District directing all 8th graders to read Holocaust denial literature and than write essays denying the Holocaust.

And here’s an interesting tidbit: this Common Core assignment took place on the watch of an Interim Superintendent named Mohammad Z. Islam. The District’s story is that Islam knew nothing about the assignment and was appropriately shocked when he learned what had happened. There’s no reason at this point to disbelieve that assertion.

Islam, 57, grew up in Bangladash, where he saw the damage done by denying people access to education. He’s a finance guy, and worked as the CFO in the San Bernardino school district. He was then invited to step into the Rialto district after the former superintendent “retired” following the district accountant’s arrest for embezzling $1.8 million. Islam was seen as the antidote to chaos and corruption. Islam could well be a stand-up kind of guy. In that case, it’s very unfortunate that he has a name that many people consider consistent with a belief system that denies that the Holocaust happened.

What’s quite obvious is that more and more American public schools are abandoning classical education — when that looks to facts and analysis — in favor of a Leftist hodge podge of propaganda on everything from climate to the Holocaust.

Saturday afternoon round-up and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesSaturdays just slip away from me. Now you see ‘em, now you don’t. Suddenly, it’s 1:30, and I’ve accomplished nothing more than making another batch of haroset, which I’m trying to eat in lieu of ice cream. There are things, though, that I’d like to share with you:

The first thing is a plea from the Media Research Center asking for funds to help offset the invaluable assist the Obama administration is getting from a complicit media.  As you know, but too many Americans don’t, the media pretends to the American people that it’s independent, even as it shills and covers for the President. The deadline for this particular fundraiser is tonight, which is why MRC gets top billing here.

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Speaking of valuable organizations asking for money, the NRA is taking very seriously Michael Bloomberg’s promise to spend $50 million to undermine the Second Amendment in America. The NRA has put together a great fundraising video (see below), and you can donate here if you feel so inclined:

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Andrew C. McCarthy is one of those guys who has a binary effect on me. Either I love what he writes or I hate it. This time it’s love, as he talks about the way in which Obama is using his pardoning power to nullify drug control legislation. It’s a typical Leftist move, of course. If you’re a Leftist and don’t like legislation or constitutional rights, you don’t go through Congress to repeal or amend them; instead, you simply announce that you’re the Magic Negro, the man who defines what sin is (“being out of alignment with my own values”), the new messiah . . . and you avoid implementing the law and, if so inclined, actually undo its effects.

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It’s not often that you read in just one article a straightforward, commonsensical, easy-to-understand, comprehensive take-down of the global warming scam. You especially don’t expect to see that kind of thing from a world-renowned emeritus professor and former NASA scientist talking to the Yorkshire Evening Post (a paper I read a lot back in the days when I lived in England).

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I’ve mentioned before that I had Elizabeth Warren as a professor back in the day. I went into her class ignorant, and came out still ignorant, but also frustrated and confused. Whatever else she was, she was a very poor communicator, which is why I find it so peculiar that the Left considers her a spokesman for their Progressive economic causes. Back in the day, speaking in her breathy, elliptical, somewhat telegraphic way, she managed to say nothing at length.

With those memories in my mind, my metrics say Warren would be a dreadful presidential candidate, so I can understand puckish conservatives urging her to run. Of course, should she run, what will actually happen is that she’ll still be better than Hillary, whom people dislike, and she’ll win the primary.  As the first female Democrat presidential candidate, the press will anoint her and that will be the end of it for any Republican opponent. (On that point, please see again my first item, above, regarding the MRC’s plea for funds to de-fang the press.)

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Peter Wehner has disturbing RINO tendencies, not to mention the arrogance of his class when it comes to Palin. Nevertheless, he’s an extremely lucid commentator when it comes to honing in on Obama’s failings. I both enjoyed reading and was depressed by Wehner’s elegant laundry list of Obama’a serial failings in every area of presidential endeavor.

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You know that I’ve got a bee in my bonnet about narcissists. One of the most dangerous things about them is the way their emotional armor means that they are incapable of acknowledging themselves at fault but must, instead, always deflect blame onto others. This tendency is especially destructive when it exists, not at an individual level, but at a societal level.

Take, for example, Islam: No matter where one looks around the world, once Islam is in charge, the economy collapses, violence increases, freedom disappears, and women, Jews, Christians, gays, and other Islamically disfavored groups are attacked, enslaved, and destroyed. This is a society that is ripe for introspection but, because it’s predicated on narcissism, the only thing it can do when it confronts its disastrous existence is . . . blame the Jews.

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We’ve already talked here about the fact that those environmentally friendly wind farms puree birds, while the solar farms barbecue them. That’s not why I’m linking to this PowerLine article. I’m linking because I love the title: MICROWAVES OF THE DESERT; CUISINARTS OF THE SKY.

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Cliven Bundy, a private citizen, makes an inarticulate, but arguably valid point that American blacks are as enslaved by the Democrat party now as they were in the antebellum South. The media mangles his argument, and destroys him as a “racist,” making toxic his entirely valid argument that past due monies owed to the government do not justify the Bureau of Land Management showing up at his farm with full military force, slaughtering his cattle, destroying his water lines, and aiming snipers at his home.  Think about it.  If Bundy were an IRS employee (lots of back taxes there), he would have gotten a bonus, and if he were Al Sharpton (even more back taxes), he’d be palling around with Obama and Holder.

No matter the government’s “right” to the land (which is separate from the justice of its claiming that right), Bundy stands for the increased tyranny of the federal government, one that sees it viewing itself as master, not servant.  Indeed, one can argue that, although the government is acting according to the laws it’s made, its laws and procedures have become so fundamentally flawed that, per the Declaration of Independence, our government has invalidated itself:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

But I digress. I actually just wanted to talk about Bundy now being toxic, thereby invalidating ideas unrelated to the subject matter that made him toxic.  It’s different if you’re on the Left.

If you’re on the Left, no matter what you do outside of politics, you’re never toxic. Take Paula Poundstone, for example, a convicted child molester. That fact isn’t preventing the Marin Jewish Community Center from opening its arms to her. I don’t know whether Poundstone has reformed or repented, something that makes a difference to me, because I’m a big believer in both. I just know that, if Poundstone was a conservative, not a Progressive, she’d never be forgiven for her sins, and would be persona non grata in perpetuity, as to all matters.

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And finally, maybe we are at last seeing small cracks in the damned dam that is political correctness:

Monday morning round-up and Open Thread *UPDATED*

Victorian posy of pansiesSpring break is over and real life resumes. The kids weren’t thrilled to return to school, but I’m pretty pleased to have my life back on schedule. As you could probably tell from last week’s lethargic blogging, I don’t do well without some boundaries to my days. I’m off to exercise soon (Yay, me!), but first a few quick links:

One of my running themes since Obama started to run for President is that he lies, and lies, and lies some more. The rest of America is finally — finally! — figuring this out for itself.

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I love Commentary Magazine, which helped me transition from Democrat to conservative. Nevertheless, I’ve been consistently dismayed by its East Coast, Ivy League, snotty attitude towards Sarah Palin. In that, it perfectly echoes the liberals who surround me who, when unable to challenge Palin’s accomplishments in 2008, especially when compared to Obama’s much lesser list of accomplishments in the same year, fell back on the line “She’s not one of us.” It’s painful to see that Obama’s failures (and he is “one of them”) still haven’t changed the classist mindset over at Commentary.

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Political advertisers (i.e., heavily funded Leftist interest groups) own the content at Politico. And Soros’ own Media Matters out-and-out wrote content at CBS. The problem is that, while you and I care about this confluence between news that sold as “objective” and hard-line Leftist partisan organizations, ordinary people cannot be made to care. Instead of reacting with outrage and a desire for “clean” information, they continue to respond to dishonest emotional appeals from the Left.  No wonder John Fund can credibly suggest that Democrats will tell any lies, no matter how inflammatory and slanderous (and, therefore, destructive of the American political and social scene) in order to get out that vote.

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I wrote about the outrage on the Left because the Koch brothers have the temerity to donate to libertarian political causes. How dare rich people buy political influence? Funnily enough (sarcasm), they’ve been completely silent about Tom Steyer’s massive payment for political influence. After my work-out, I think I’ll write up a petition, paralleling the MoveOn one, asking people to “denounce” Steyer.

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Thomas Piketty, an economist, is the newest darling among the Leftist intelligentsia and faux intelligentsia (but I repeat myself), because he claims that capitalism is inherently unfair since it’s entirely predicated on income inequality. Clive Crook explains that even the meanest intelligence should see that Piketty’s conclusions don’t match his data. I’ll add something that Crook didn’t say and that I’m sure Piketty ignored: Capitalism is not a still photograph; it’s a moving picture. In any specific frame, there will be rich people and poor people who are separated by a wide gap. However, the dynamic of capitalism is that the poor in one still photo are not the same as the poor in the next.  Socialism, by contrast, is a still photograph: Except for the coddled nomenklatura, everyone else stays firmly mired at the bottom forever.

UPDATE: Of all sources, the New York Times backs up my statement that the problem with socialist economists is that they understand the economy in static, not dynamic terms:

It turns out that 12 percent of the population will find themselves in the top 1 percent of the income distribution for at least one year. What’s more, 39 percent of Americans will spend a year in the top 5 percent of the income distribution, 56 percent will find themselves in the top 10 percent, and a whopping 73 percent will spend a year in the top 20 percent of the income distribution.

Yet while many Americans will experience some level of affluence during their lives, a much smaller percentage of them will do so for an extended period of time. Although 12 percent of the population will experience a year in which they find themselves in the top 1 percent of the income distribution, a mere 0.6 percent will do so in 10 consecutive years.

It is clear that the image of a static 1 and 99 percent is largely incorrect. The majority of Americans will experience at least one year of affluence at some point during their working careers. (This is just as true at the bottom of the income distribution scale, where 54 percent of Americans will experience poverty or near poverty at least once between the ages of 25 and 60).

Hat tip: Tom Elia

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Anthropogenic climate change is a con. Even if one assumes solely for the sake of argument that our carbon output exceeds the sun’s control over the earth’s atmosphere, science, history, and common sense all show that a minimal rise in CO2 levels provides more food and water around the world, not less.

Saturday mid-day roundup (and Open Thread)

Victorian posy of pansiesI have learned something about myself over the past 5.5 weeks:  I will never master crutches.  After all this time, I still fall going up the stairs, get vertigo going down the stairs, topple over when trying to reach light switches, get abrasions on my skin, and exhaust my injured shoulder.  My big hope for this coming week is that the doctor tells me I can ditch the crutches and use a cane or go unaided on my own two feet.  In the meantime, though, I’ve got stuff I want to share with you:

In 2008, Obama won in significant part by hooking up with pop culture and making himself “cool.”  The implication was exactly what it is in high school:  if you hang with the cool kids, you’ll be cool too.  Obama was cool because he hung with Hollywood . . . and young voters were cool because they wore Obama t-shirts.  Obama is trying to reprise that cool factor with his current campaign to get healthy young people to sign up for Obamacare.  Now that actually money is involved, I suspect he’ll have less success than in 2008, when all you needed to be cool was a t-shirt and a vote.

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When it comes to understanding how the media functions as the PR arm for the Democrat party, you can’t do better than to read John Hinderaker’s article describing the downstream fallout from the Washington Post‘s cheap and false attack on the Koch brothers. (Hinderaker’s challenge to the original WaPo article is here.) Not only does Hinderaker strip bare the ugliness behind the Post’s defense of its own bad reporting, he also analyzes why the Left is so obsessed with the Koch Brothers, the problems Democrats are starting to have with the “green” worldview, and the money behind the Democrats’ attacks on the Kochs.

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Two Democrat politicians, one in Arkansas and one in Alaska, have rather foolishly chosen to attack their Republican opponents for having been in the military. The GOP has done an ad highlighting these attacks and focusing on the fact that there is something honorable about having served in the military. I agree, but for me there’s more than that going on.  When I think about military service, what I think about is competence and responsibility. In a society where young people avoid both — and, indeed, are encouraged by law to remain infantile until their 26 — the military forces young people to step up. I know that there are shirkers in the military, but the statistical likelihood is that someone who spent many years in the military is probably a can-do and will-do kind of person.

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Over the years, I’ve written about the fact that people who support abortion use a very dishonest debate tactic when they pretend that the world is the same as it was before Roe v. Wade. The implication is that, if abortion again becomes limited to life-of-the-mother (and perhaps rape and incest) cases, young girls will be thrown starving into the streets and children will be raised with the stigma of bastardy. In a world in which single mothers are one of the fastest growing demographics, this is ludicrous. The Left also pretends that women will once again return to back alley abortions, complete with unsanitary coat hangers. Indeed, one pro-Abortion outlet is giving “cute” little coat hanger necklaces to those who donate money to the cause.

Here’s something interesting, though: Just as the pro-abortion crowd lies about the world as it is, implying that unwed pregnant women will once again be driven into the snow (barefoot, of course), so too is it lying about the world as it was. Kevin Williamson finds contemporaneous evidence from Planned Parenthood itself saying that, back in the 1960s, while abortion was illegal, it was also safe — indeed, probably safer than at places like Kermit Gosnell’s House of Abortion Horror.

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J. Christian Adams asks a good question: Why does Michelle Obama’s mother live rent-free in the White House? It might have made sense when the Obama’s first arrived in D.C. with two fairly young daughters, but it makes no sense now. I guess, though, that Michelle loves her Mommy and wants to make sure that Mrs. Robinson also gets to enjoy the pleasures of staying in $8,000 per night suites in Beijing (taxpayer-funded, of course).

“White Trash” is not a skin color, it’s a state of mind. One aspect of the WT state of mind is the person who, when he knows someone else is paying the restaurant bill, orders the most expensive thing on the menu. The Obamas are quite definitely White Trash.

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In my real-me Facebook world, my friends still cling to the Anthropogenic Climate Change theory. In the real world, actual scientists (as opposed to PhD-holding crusaders looking for large government grants) are finally waking up and smelling the con-job coffee. It remains to be seen whether the climate-change generation is going to be able to walk away from this false God.

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A couple of weeks ago, I said that the hate-crime hoaxes coming from the Left meant that I didn’t believe a gay guy who claimed (without corroboration) that his aged Baptist minister grandfather, who had been married for 65 years, confessed on his deathbed that he was gay. Maybe grandpa did; maybe he didn’t. It’s just that, as I said, absent ample evidence, I don’t believe the Left. In that vein, I point out that yet another hate-crime has proven to be a hoax.

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Last week, I showed a picture of a school workbook telling students that the Second Amendment gives citizens the right to bear arms provided that the government first gives them permission to do so. Someone asked for the provenance of that image. It turns out that (surprise! surprise!) it comes from an Illinois Middle School.

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Reading travel tips that Chinese give those of their compatriots heading to America I thought to myself, “What a nice country we have.”

Wednesday afternoon quick hits (and Open Thread)

Victorian posy of pansiesIt’s raining!!!  In California, that’s cause for celebration.  Rain in Marin doesn’t mean it’s raining elsewhere, but it certainly matters to use Marin-ites — we have our own reservoir system, so we’re wholly dependent on local rainfall.  Ironically, the rain is slowing down our major yard renovation, and we have to get that renovation down before April 1, when rationing kicks in (and rationing will happen unless we get enormous amounts of rain).  Sigh.  To ever silver lining, there seems to be a cloud.

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Since I’m on the subject of weather, here’s a two-fer about the grand hoax that is climate change. The first, from American Thinker, provides compelling evidence that every single carbon centered computer model about the climate has proven to be wrong. Not just sort of wrong, mind you, but absolutely, completely, super-duper wrong. Climate theorists are now blaming volcanoes for the warming failure, but they’ll blame anything, won’t they? If you have a non-falsifiable doctrine, you can always blame external forces for your doctrine’s inevitable failure.

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I’ve also got three great articles about Israel. The first looks as all the wonderful things going on in Israel despite the world’s efforts to squash that tiny, brilliant nation. The second looks at the grotesque hypocrisy that sees gay rights advocates champion Palestinians at the expense of Israel. The third looks as the fact that Israel stands poised to save Syrians, the rest of the Middle East, and perhaps the whole world, from the unfathomable danger of a nuclear Syria.

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Traditionally in America, a state attorney general is sworn to uphold the laws of the state. After all, if the AG doesn’t do that, what’s his purpose? He’s there to represent and ensure the stability, reliability, and credibility of the law.  If he doesn’t carry out that task, he just becomes another functionary in a banana republic. And that banana republic status is precisely what U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder dreams of, for he has instructed state AG’s to ignore any law that supports traditional marriage.

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I’ve written here frequently about the lunacy that is the modern American college or university. This is a subject that exercises me a great deal because I have two children heading towards college in the next few years. As many Americans do, I’m deeply offended by the cost of college, especially the cost of the once prestigious liberal arts colleges back East. It’s insane to spend or borrow $250,000 so that your child can move into your basement and become a barista. In a changing world, colleges have actually changed in the wrong direction.  They’ve turned away entirely from educating young people to become useful and productive citizens.

What colleges have done, instead, is train youngsters to become lunatics, which is my second reason for being upset about modern American higher education. Last week, Bruce Bawer warned about a lunatic Leftist at Harvard. This week, Chicks on the Right warns about a whole cadre of potentially violent lunatic Leftists as Dartmouth. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that this collection of young people expensively unmoored from reality comes from deep within the fever swamps of the gay rights movement.

I’ll say here what I always say: I believe that the government should stay out of people’s bedrooms. I believe that gay people should be free from discrimination, harassment, violence, etc. I believe that the heart loves where it will. But let’s get real here: These loony-toonz aren’t about gay rights.  They are about using the gay agenda as a wedge issue to destroy America as a free-market, individual-centered society, and to replace it with a hard-core centralized government and a socialized economy. I wonder if these “idealists” have any inkling that, when/if they’ve finally achieved their agenda they’ll meet the same fate that leading-edge revolutionaries always experience, whether in 18th Century France, or Russia, or China:  The new statist government identifies them as troublemakers and kills them first.

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My sister lives in Oregon, a state that has as its primary goal the creation of happiness. We’ve talked before about the fact that a state can impose “happiness” only if it first has the right to define “happiness.”  The reality, is that there’s only a slender likelihood that the state bureaucrat’s idea of what constitutes “happiness” is the same as your idea.  Moreover, if not everyone is happy — and no one can ever be — the situation is ripe for constant revolution. Still, Oregon tries. The libertarians on the Eastern side are constantly besieged by the statists on the Western, coastal side, who have turned Oregon into one of the most heavily regulated, and least economically successful, states in America. (For more on happiness, at a deep, philosophical level, rather than at a pop-culture, “everything is free” level, check out Happiness Is a Serious Problem: A Human Nature Repair Manual.)

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And finally, knowledge that I gleaned in my youth catches up with the present. I’ve written before about my years at Berkeley, when I socialized with ultra-Leftist professors who lived in lavish houses in the Berkeley hillside, all of which seemed to be tended by Hispanic maids and Japanese gardeners. These effete, armchair revolutionaries enjoyed their Marxism because they lived on the straining back of the servant class.

That was a long time ago, but one modern-day Leftist has finally admitted that, yes, needing servants is precisely why the Leftist idle rich are so gung-ho about illegal immigrants:

As a friend of mine said after watching that, “If a conservative of any stripe were to insinuate undocumented workers were all gardeners, landscapers, and hotel workers the race card would have been played before he could even finish the sentence.”

Helping Mark Steyn’s epic battle to defend freedom of speech

mark-steyn-photo-600x345I’ve written before about Mark Steyn’s epic battle and equally epic Answer and Counterclaim in the suit that discredited “Hockey Stick” artiste, Michael Mann filed against him and the National Review.   What I forgot to tell you is that there is a way you can help Mark Steyn, who is not sharing his defense with National Review, pay the costs of this suit.  (Steyn’s currently representing himself, although I do not know whether he parted ways with his lawyer because they had a substantive disagreement or because Steyn could no longer afford him/her.)

Click here to learn about buying a Mark Steyn gift certificate.  You can choose not to redeem the gift certificate, leaving all the money in his hands, or you can redeem it for actual merchandise, which still leaves him with the profit margin.  It’s a good deal all around.

Friday morning thoughts (and Open Thread)

The other day, Victorian posy of pansiesI wasn’t able to get to my desktop computer, which is where I write with ease and fluidity.  I was also was quite depressed that day.  Thinking about it, I told my sister that I wasn’t depressed because life is temporarily inconvenient.  I was depressed, instead, because I didn’t get my “writer’s high.”  For many years, I’ve kept myself buoyant through two endorphin-releasing activities:  martial arts and writing.  For the past six months, I’ve been unable to do martial arts, but I still had my writing.  When writing is also denied me, my endorphins vanish, and I get into a funk.  Just an hour at the computer is equal to several bowls of chocolate ice cream — without the calories.

And now to a variety of quick links that have come my way:

An artist in South Florida deliberately destroyed a 7,000 year old Chinese vase to protest the fact that the arts community in Miami isn’t paying enough attention to local artists.  If you’re like me, your first thought upon reading that story was “That man is just crazy.”  Well, if he’s crazy, so is Prince William.  Little Willy has announced that he wants to destroy the monarchy’s priceless 1,200 piece ivory collection to protest the illegal ivory trade.  He’s apparently unimpressed by the fact that these ivories span the centuries, meaning that they come from times long-predating modern environmentalism.  The combination of an appropriately Progressive education and a credulous, rather stupid father clearly has had its effect on the Prince’s reasoning skills and values.

One of my friends, upon hearing about Prince William’s proposal, had the perfect response:  “Perhaps he should also dismantle the monarchy since it has caused so many wars, slavery, and other human suffering. While he’s at it, why not return all the Egyptian treasures spread throughout London the monarchy looted?”

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Mark Steyn is representing himself in the case that Michael Mann — creator of the completely discredited hockey stick graph — has brought against him and against the National ReviewOne can argue that Steyn will find that there’s truth to the saying that “the man who represents himself has a fool for a lawyer.”  I’m not so sure.  In my experience, judges give an enormous amount of leeway to parties who appear on their own behalf.  The smart man representing himself may well be in a better position than the smart man trapped behind a mediocre attorney whose only virtue is that he’s affordable.

If Steyn’s answer and counter-claim is anything to go by, Steyn’s doing just fine.  He understands that the law is on his side.  This is a pure First Amendment case and doesn’t require complex legal analysis.  The only way to win is to make the facts come alive and to reveal Michael Mann for what he is:  a discredited scientist who has used shoddy research and false reports to make himself famous, and who now tries to cling to his dishonestly-won fame by bullying people through the legal system.

Not only does Steyn understand the necessary strategy, he’s taken advantage of his pro per status to write one of the most delightful pleadings I’ve ever seen.  My first drafts usually have the same puckish quality (although I lack Steyn’s wit, erudition, flair, and musicality), but I always take those bits out for fear the judge will think I’m making sport of him.  Steyn, however, is clearly, and deftly, making sport of Mann:

69. Denies the allegations in Paragraph Sixty-Nine of the Amended Complaint, and thinks we’re going round in circles here.

[snip]

111. Denies the allegations in Paragraph One-Hundred-And-Eleven of the Amended Complaint, and feels Plaintiff is going round like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a
wheel, like the circles that you find in the tree-rings of your mind.

[snip]

129. Plaintiff Michael Mann is a widely known figure in the scientific and public policy spheres of global warming research who has thrust himself into the politics of the
global warming debate by appearing in TV commercials for political candidates, writing newspaper columns regularly for The Guardian, The New York Times and others, serving as scientific advisor to and appearing in a climate-change TV series starring climate experts Matt Damon and Jessica Alba, and is therefore a public figure. In March 2012, Plaintiff published a book called The Hockey Stick And The Climate Wars: Dispatches From The Front Lines, the “front lines” presumably referring to his media appearances with Miss Alba et al.

[snip]

131. At the other end of the spectrum, Plaintiff and his counsel have issued demands that have no basis in law, as they well know – including the preposterous assertion, in response to a parody video by “Minnesotans for Global Warming”, that “Professor Mann’s likeness” is protected from parody and satire. (See attached letter from Plaintiff’s counsel.) Plaintiff has engaged in serial misrepresentation and false claims to authority, including (in his original Complaint against Defendant Steyn) purporting to be a Nobel Laureate and (in his current Complaint and elsewhere) purporting to have been exonerated by multiple investigations and by fellow scientists who have, in fact, pronounced Mann and his work “inappropriate”, “exaggerated”, “non-robust” and his defense of it “incorrect”. There is a smell to the hockey stick that, in Lady Macbeth’s words, “all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten” – nor all the investigations. And so Dr Mann has determined to sue it into respectability.

Speaking as a well-seasoned litigator, I wish I’d written that.

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At African-American Conservatives on Facebook, a picture that perfectly illustrates why I’ve had a problem with electric cars — and with the fact that Obama is using my money to fund them, all under the umbrella of “anthropogenic climate change”:

Dirty electrical cars

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The more I know about Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, the more I like him. And the more the Left knows about Walker, the more it fears him. I have a feeling all the fishing expeditions will come up empty. After the recall vote, all the dirt that can be dug probably has been dug.

allen-west-20101Speaking of presidential candidates, even my apolitical sister asked me, “Who’s going to be the Democrat nominee? Hillary? I don’t think she can win, and there doesn’t seem to be anyone else.” Exactly. I told her to keep an eye on Walker. I also really, really like Allen West, and I think he could make an Eisenhower-esque claim to having executive experience notwithstanding his lack of a governorship. He and Walker could be a very exciting President/Vice President package. I also have to admit to something of a girlish crush on West. I think he’s just amazingly good-looking. He looks so crisp and fresh.

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Proof that not all news anchors are just talking heads. These two, stuck without any audio, are really funny.

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Do we need to say again that true science is never settled? Or that stifling dissent is unscientific? Probably we do. We need to say it again and again and again until we are like the horns bringing down the walls of Jericho. And if someone’s going to be your trumpet, Charles Krauthammer is the Louis Armstrong of intelligent dissent.

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Every year in Laredo, something amazing happens:  on both sides of the border, people gather together to celebrate George Washington, but they do so with an exquisite Tejano twist.  As with the last Independent Lens documentary I wrote about, the documentary maker isn’t very good, but the subject matter transcends the production.

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Do you remember this creepy video, with elementary school children singing about the glories of the imagined hope that the Messiah Obama would bring to America? Well, someone’s updated it (h/t Sadie):

A high school dissident takes on global warming

Burning earthBack in October, I wrote about one of my children’s classmates at high school.  This kid is handsome, athletic, and extremely popular.  He also made disparaging remarks about Obamacare and illegal aliens without getting push-back from either students or teachers.  Such is the power of popularity.

That kid’s at it again.  For his English class, he wrote an essay calling out anthropogenic climate change as a hoax.  I wonder whether his popularity will be sufficient to survive this dissident act, both socially and academically.

The young man’s brave stance got me thinking about the whole notion of unfalsifiable theories. As I explained to my own children, the normal way science works is that, if all your hypotheses prove to be false, you’ve established that your underlying theory is wrong.  Only in the world of climate change do a series of failed predictions and hypotheses serve as proof that your underlying theory isn’t merely true, it’s even more true!

Since I had climate change on the brain, when my daughter later pointed out that our little mutt, who had curled up in her lap, had buried his nose in her armpit, I exclaimed, “That’s because of climate change.”

Having said that, it occurred to me that it may be time to resurrect a college game with a twist.  Back in the day, whenever friends and I dined at a Chinese restaurant, when we opened the cookies and read aloud our fortunes, we’d add the phrase “in bed.” So, for example, a fortune that said “You will meet an interesting stranger” would be read as “You will meet an interesting stranger in bed.”  It was juvenile, but funny.

Nowadays, a variation of the game would be to response to any observation by saying, “that’s because of global warming (or climate change).”  So, someone might say, “Look, there’s a hawk circling your yard.”  And your answer would be “That’s because of climate change.”

“The furniture delivery man is running late.”  “That’s because of climate change.”

“My hair looks terrible today.”  “That’s because of climate change.”

“Does this dress make me look fat?”  “Honey, thanks to climate change, everything looks fat.”

NPR offers a perfect example of how an unfalsifiable, infallible theory works

Burning earthNPR didn’t mean to offer a perfect example of how an unfalsifiable, infallible theory works.  It’s stated goal was to have people better understand what a polar vortex is.  However, when it chose to interview “Andrew Freedman, senior science writer for Climate Central, an independent non-profit organization that researches and reports on the science and impact of climate change,” Mr. Freedman, true to his climate change beliefs, came up with a good one.

Before I get to Mr. Freedman’s words, let me make sure we’re all on the same page about an unfalsifiable, infallible theory.  Mike McDaniel has an easy-to-understand, elegantly stated explanation.  An unfalsifiable theory “requires no proof, for like religious dogma, it is rooted in faith.  One either believes or not; proof is not necessary and opposing proof may therefore be disregarded.  Such beliefs are, in the language of science, non-falsifiable.”  Non-falsifiable theories do not stand alone.  Because they cannot be proved wrong they are, by definition, infallible.  Like God, they are what they are, with no actual explanations required.

With that in mind, please enjoy Mr. Freedman’s response to the NPR interviewer’s question about the current polar vortex and climate change:

GREENE: I mean, is climate change playing some sort of role here in the cold we’re seeing this week?

FREEDMAN: We actually have these possible connections between the Arctic – which is warming rapidly, and which is losing sea ice – and these perturbations, these shifts in the jet stream over North America and over Europe. And many scientists are convinced that there’s enough circumstantial evidence to potentially convince a jury that there is this link, and that the weather patterns are becoming more and more suspicious as being influenced by human activities. But the physical connections, the actual smoking gun that would link Arctic warming to weather patterns that we see right now – like this one – isn’t quite there yet. It hasn’t quite been proven. So whether or not it would convince a jury of scientific peers in this case is unclear. And I think in the next few years, we’ll know a lot more. But certainly, climate change is influencing every weather pattern that occurs today, in some ways large and small.

Without all the unnecessary prevarication, what Mr. Freedman said is “We have no actual evidence that anthropogenic global warming has anything to do with this. That doesn’t worry us, though, because our operating, unchallengeable baseline is that anthropogenic global warming (which we now call “climate change” so as to be more encompassing) is behind every weather phenomenon that has ever happened since we decided that there’s something called anthropogenic global war. . . . er, climate change.”  This is unsurprising.  Mr. Freedman’s paycheck comes from an “independent non-profit organization that researches and reports on the science and impact of climate change.”  No climate change means no non-profit organization, which means Mr. Freedman and his cohorts are out of a job.

Just to demonstrate further that Mr. Freedman is operating within a closed, unfalsifiable system, let’s scoot over to Time Magazine for a minute.  As Ed Driscoll reports (in a post beautifully titled Time Magazine Swings Both Ways), the United States experienced a whopper of a polar vortex in 1974. Back then, Time breathlessly informed its readers that the problem was global cooling and that we trembled on the verge of another ice age.  This time around, of course, the pathetic shadow that was the once might Time, now reports equally breathlessly that global warming caused the big chill.

Faith is a wonderful — and dangerous — thing.

Back to School Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesWinter break this year was very pleasant.  As I may have written before, while I’m not a big fan of small children, I really like teenagers, especially the teenagers my kids bring home.  We live in a tight-knit community and my house is often a gathering spot for the kids in the neighborhood.  When our pool is non-operational (as it is every winter), the kids swarm my living room for old-fashioned parlor games and new-fangled board games.  (My favorites are Telestrations, the Telephone Game Sketched Out!, The Resistance, and Quelf Board Game, all of which make me laugh.)  Nicely, the kids always ask me to play, and genuinely seem to want my participation.  Playing board games turns out to be one of the few things I’d rather do than blog.

Still, the kids are back in school, and Mr. Bookworm is almost back at work, so the house is almost back to me.  Since I’m a person who enjoys solitude, despite being quite gregarious, I can’t wait until it’s just me and the dogs (and the computer, of course).  When I’m alone, I can think.  I haven’t had any thoughts yet, but I’ve saved up other people’s thoughts for you:

The DiploMad is just like me, only smarter, more articulate, and with more real world experience.  But other than that, I would have written this post about the state of the world as we enter 2014.  (Hat tip:  Tom Elia.)

Mike McDaniel is always kind enough to say that I gave him the idea for a post.  Reading his post about non-falsifiable and infallible theories (such as guns and global warming), it’s quite clear that he didn’t need me.  He’s brilliant enough on his own.

Speaking of non-falsifiable theories, fellow Watcher’s Council member Simply Jews has a scathing indictment about the BBC’s approach to reporting on climate change — and even located its Ground Zero for scientific ignorance.

Those Americans who still think feminism is about equal pay for equal work need to understand that, nowadays, it’s about postcolonial milk.  This is the horror that academia has wrought on a legitimate demand, one stretching back centuries, that women not be denied education and opportunities on the sole ground that they are women.

I’m beginning to understand Obama’s approach to Obamacare.  Because it bears his name, it’s his law, and he can therefore do whatever the heck he wants with it.  Constitutional rules about the separation of powers — especially lawmaking versus executive — are for the little people.  A man of Roman columns and control over the oceans is not (in his own mind at least) a little person.  (I bet if you ask him, he explain that he brought about the polar vortex to impress upon Americans that global warming means climate change that freezes 90% of the U.S.)

If Pope Francis doesn’t make Asa Bibi a worldwide cause célèbre, he may well be the Leftist shill the Leftist shills think he is.

I may not be financially savvy, but when I’ve seen articles about Obama policies once again forcing banks to make bad loans so that poor risk people can buy real estate, I think “Hey, we’re heading for another housing market crash.”  I’m not the only one thinking that.  Add to that the Feds’ money printing, which has created a stock market bubble based not on value but on paper money, and I foresee a recession that will make 2008 look cute by comparison.

The War on Poverty is over . . . and poverty won.  This fifty year failure is an indictment of government market management, but nobody’s paying attention.

Okay, I’ve now depressed myself.  I’m going to walk the dogs.

 

Work day round-up

Victorian posy of pansiesWork and family call, but that doesn’t mean I’m not sneaking quick peeks at articles that I can then share with you.

Is the global warming tipping point nearing?  It will inevitably happen, but far too late to save the billions of dollars wasted, the lives lost in revolutions it fomented (e.g., Egypt’s tumultuous years were caused, in significant part, by rising food prices attributed to shortages as Egypt’s food was diverted to America’s biofuel), and the generation of children raised in apocalyptic fear.

My bet is that New York’s going to revert to savagery very quickly under Mayor de Blasio, and I have no sympathy for the more than 70% of New Yorkers who voted for him.  I have the deepest sympathy for the small remainder who are about to face Progressive Armageddon.  The Clintons, however, are banking on the hard-Left’s success in New York.

Speaking of de Blasio, he’s auditioning for the role of “bad guy” in a remake of Bless the Beasts and Children, since his first policy initiative means killing off animals (in this case, horses).

It’s Obama versus the Church, with Obama claiming to know more about Church doctrine than the Church does itself.  Hubris plays out in interesting ways.

The disaster that is America’s adoption system.  The dreadful numbers — hundreds of thousands of children languishing in foster care — are directly attributable to the Democrat’s racial agenda, which bars adoption “miscegenation” (meaning that whites are barred from adopting non-whites).

Lebanon is getting sucked into Syria’s civil war.  Expect human casualties on a massive, hitherto unseen-in-the-Middle-East scale.  Obama will wring his hands and then side with whichever strongman he can find to give him cover.  Currently, those strong men reside in Moscow and Tehran.  This will not end well — although it may give Israel something of a respite as Muslims take a break from trying to kill Jews — ultimately these internecine battles between Sunni and Shia spill over all sorts of borders.

I’m with Jonathan Last:  2014 will be the year Obama’s chickens come home to roost.  Or as another Illinois politician once said, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.”

Keith Koffler is always interesting, so I enjoyed his analysis of the Duck Dynasty versus GLAAD match-up.

And if you were wondering where Bloomberg played Nanny in New York, here’s the list.