Facebook and the liberal arts curriculum reveal a diminished, reductive America

facebook_gender_optionsFacebook’s decision to add something like 50 new gender identification categories to its “about me” section caused a small flurry of interest in the news and in social media.  Progressives embraced the change because it’s a step towards ending the stultifying limitations of male and female.  Conservatives were upset by the change because they believe that, while human sexuality is variable, those stultifying limitations of male and female are necessary ingredients for a functioning society.  Engineers noted that Facebook put the new system in place primarily to make for more targeted, and therefore more profitable, advertising.

Within a few days of reading about Facebook’s gender re-identification scheme, my daughter asked me what I thought of Bowdoin as a possible college for her.  I’ve never been to Bowdoin and I’ve only met one person who has.  Back in the early 1980s, one of my less-appealing UC Berkeley classmates had transferred out of Bowdoin, saying it was claustrophobic.    Still, when I heard the word “Bowdoin,” I thought to myself, “You know, I was just reading about Bowdoin lately….”

It turns out that I was reading about Bowdoin almost a year ago, when a 355-page report came out detailing exactly what a modern liberal-arts curriculum looks like.  Although the report focuses on Bowdoin, I suspect it would apply equally well to all other high-end American colleges and universities.  It’s decidedly Leftist in outlook, of course, but that was to be expected.  What Bowdoin also is, though, is reductive.  It doesn’t look at big things; it looks at microscopically small things:

The report documents an increasingly fractured academy that has no common curriculum and in which so-called identity studies take priority over a study of the West. It highlights, for example, the 36 freshmen seminars offered at Bowdoin in the fall of 2012. They are designed to teach writing and critical-thinking skills and to introduce students to the various academic departments. Some of the subjects are unsurprising: The Korean War, Great Issues in Science, Political Leadership. Others seem less conducive to critical thinking and fruitful classroom discussion: Queer Gardens, Beyond Pocahontas: Native American Stereotypes; Sexual Life of Colonialism; Modern Western Prostitutes.

Parents who send their kids to expensive colleges thinking that doing so will expand their mental horizons will discover that these $200,000+ investments do just the opposite:  they shrink young people’s view of the world and of their place in the world.  By the time you leave the four year Progressive incubator, you’ve learned that you’re not just “an American” (which is an embarrassing designator in any event).  Instead, you’re an African-Polynesian-Neutrois-with-a-economically-fostered-learning-disability.  Or perhaps you’re a white-male-hegemonic-patriarchal-chauvinist-imperalist.  Or you could be a currently bigender, but questioning, pre-transexual Hispanic from an economically marginal semi-urban upbringing.

Once upon time, the American notion of “e pluribus unum” applied, not just to the states, but to the people in the states.  The metaphor used to illustrate this union was a melting pot, in which each person’s culture and individual qualities blended to form a big, rich, satisfying whole.  By the 1970s, that “we’re all in it together” view had vanished in favor of a “tossed salad” metaphor.  We weren’t one great whole anymore, but we still at least shared the same salad bowl.

Now, however, it’s impossible to think of America in terms of any food metaphor.  Cooking inevitably involves blending and transformation towards a greater (and tasty) whole.  Our young people, however, are being taught that Americans have no relationship to each other.  We’ve been individualized into tiny little pieces, floating alone in space.  Not only is this a very sad worldview, it’s antithetical to man’s basic nature as a social animal.

I thought it was bad when I was at Berkeley, an extraordinarily cliquish school back in my day, and found that the tennis players shunned me because I didn’t play tennis, the science geeks shunned me because I was bad at science, and the dorm dwellers shunned me because I commuted.  Nowadays, though, it’s not enough even to be a tennis player or a science geek or a dorm resident.  Instead, within those subsets, the beleaguered student has to find the right variable races, genders, sexual orientations, political views, and academic interests.

America was always a big country.  The dream around the world was that you could leave behind your boring, impoverished, or even dangerous homeland (or home town), and come to a vast country where you could strive to be anything.  The whole was infinitely greater than the sum of the parts, and each part yearned to belong to that whole.  Now, though, we’re a little country.  We have a little president who exerts vast power to do teeny-weeny little things; we have a huge military that occupies itself figuring out how to be gay and women friendly; we have a Secretary of State who ignores civil wars and violent democratic revolutions in favor of bloviating about car exhaust and factory smoke; and we have an education system that is dedicated to teaching students to think small.

Facebook isn’t causing the end of the world as we know it.  Facebook is reflecting the fact that the world as we once knew it has already ended.

Using social media to defend the Constitution and the Little Sisters of the Poor

Little Sisters of the PoorA caller to the Rush Limbaugh show today asked Rush how to get the media to change its tune. Rush’s response was that this will never happen. The media is an arm of the Democrat Party and that’s the end of it. Conservatives have to make their case outside of the media, he said. It can be done too, Rush added, pointing to Scott Walker’s success in fighting back an attempted recall and in beginning to make changes to Wisconsin’s hard Left culture.

What Rush left unspoken, since his show ended there, are the practical steps that ordinary people can take to expose other people (Leftists and non-political types alike) to facts and ideas that the media refuses to cover or contemplate. I happen to believe that Social Media is a wonderful way, both to learn what ordinary Progressives think (it’s seldom pretty) and to introduce new ideas to people whose world is contained within the four corners of the MSM.

I had a most illuminating Facebook conversation with a Progressive just today regarding the Obama administration’s full throttle effort to force the Little Sisters of the Poor – a Catholic charity staffed by nuns – to fund abortions.

On Facebook, since I’m fully aware of my liberal friends’ biases, I’m always careful to cite to sources that they belief are reliably leftist. After all, events sometimes force even the Washington Post or the New York Times to be honest about the facts.

This time, I linked to the USA Today editorial stating that the Obama administration has gone too far by attacking the nuns. I figured that, even though USA Today lacks the status of the New York Times (New York Times readers think that they’re the most intelligent and informed news consumers in America), it still has liberal street creds.

Oy, was I wrong! A Facebook friend who used to be a real friend decades ago when we were both non-political, went completely ballistic. He first offered a nasty opinion about the Church. When I politely asked him to back up his views with data, he doubled down on his attacks against the Church and stated explicitly destroying religious people’s political reach has to trump the Bill of Rights.

You’ll notice as you read our Facebook conversation that I was relentlessly pleasant, and that was true despite his frequently offensive statements. I also left on the table several issues that he raised as part of his attack on the church and the constitution. That was deliberate.

It quickly became clear to me that nothing I could say would change his mind. (And it will become clear to you too as you read on.) However, I was mindful of the fact that about 150 other people, almost all Progressives (because of the liberal enclaves in which I’ve always lived) would also be reading this back and forth.

Given the invisible audience I could reasonably assume I had, given that many people have told me that they sign on to Facebook solely to read what I post, I stuck to a very narrowly focused goal. I wanted to provide a reasonable intellectual foundation supporting the nuns’ position. I live in hope that Democrats who are beginning to feel uncomfortable about the administration’s decision to bully nuns will think about what I said. I was therefore worried that if I got too confrontational or started following red herrings with a die-hard ideologue, I’d lose my more important, albeit invisible and silent, audience.

The following is a non-verbatim rendering of my Facebook conversation. I’ve carefully retained the gist of what he and I said, but have changed the words to protect his privacy. He was a jerk, but even jerks deserve privacy. He wrote on my Facebook wall assuming that his identity wouldn’t be broadcast far and wide, and I have to honor that.

So, to set the stage, I linked, without comment, to USA Today’s editorial about the Obama regime’s overreach in its demand that nuns fund abortions and birth control. The following written dialogue ensued.

Him: They shouldn’t get any special treatment just because of their beliefs. None of the rest of us do.

Me: I’m not clear what you mean about “special treatment.” This is the first law ever that’s forced religious organizations and people to fund something that’s doctrinally prohibited.

Him: I don’t get why, just because they’re religious Christians attacking birth control, their beliefs trump other strongly held religious beliefs.

Me: I’m still confused. What are some examples of the government forcing people to act in opposition to strongly held religious beliefs or to fund others to commit those same types of acts?

Him: Okay. It’s not fair that religious organizations are tax exempt, which means I have to pay more taxes, essentially funding them. Lots of states won’t allow gay marriage because these tax-exempt churches have campaigned against it. Also, just because the Hobby Lobby owners don’t like birth control, they refuse to provide it to their employees.

Me: Given how political churches have gotten, you’re right about doing away with those tax breaks. [When I wrote those words, I was actually thinking about how political Leftist churches have gotten, but the point is the same.] Still, your other examples seem to me to miss the point. The editorial is talking about the fact that the government is using its taxing authority to force religious groups or individuals (or business owners) to engage in or fund activities that are antithetical to core belief systems. As far as I can tell, that runs directly counter to the 1st Amendment’s promise that the government cannot interfere with Americans’ freedom of worship.

Him: You’re trying to pick and choose your arguments. Religious people aren’t trying to defund that military. After all, don’t a lot of religions prohibit killing?

Me: [I made the decision here to ignore the red herring about religions and killing.] Your argument ignores the Constitution, which expressly contemplates a military as a core government function. There is a way to change that so as to allow conscientious objectors to refuse to pay taxes designated for the military, but you’d need a constitutional amendment. Unlike funding a standing army as part of the government, though, there’s nothing in the Constitution that mandates that private citizens are entitled to contraception and the morning-after pill, or that other citizens must pay for those services. That means the people and groups opposed to the ACA mandate have the stronger constitutional argument.

Him: The Constitution is irrelevant to this. What enrages me is that powerful people use religion to manipulate and control other people.

Me: I’m confused again. The nuns aren’t manipulating or controlling anyone. They’re asking that the government refrain from manipulating and controlling them by forcing them to pay for something that their religion prohibits. The Church has been opposing abortion and birth control for thousands of years, while the ACA’s demand that all Americans pay for all other Americans’ birth control and morning after pills is just four years old. Isn’t it unreasonable to ask the Catholic church to give up two thousand years of faith just because of the ACA, especially when the church as the 1st Amendment on its side?

Him: It’s obvious that the church never cares about death and suffering until it suits them. At that point, nothing stops the church.

Me: You’re entitled to your opinions about the Church, but it seems to me that, no matter how you look at it, the constitutional edge on this question lies with the Little Sisters and with Hobby Lobby.

At which point he gave up.

My point isn’t that I made the best arguments in the world. I know I didn’t. I also know, as I stated before, that I let a lot of his mean-spirited or uninformed statements go by without comment. Looking at what I said, though, I feel that I succeeded in my initial goal, which was to appear reasonable and to present to passive onlookers solid arguments that might give them food for thought if they dislike seeing the President beat up nuns.

Make new friends but keep the old . . . ’cause you’re never sure who you’ll like more when you grow up

I adore Facebook.  In the “real me” Facebook world, I have about 200 friends, reflecting all different phases of my life, from junior high school on up.  I enjoy watching their lives unfold.  I go on their travels with them, see their kids grow up (some of whom friend me themselves), see their homes through their eyes, and get insight into their values and political beliefs.  It’s like reading a great novel.  Sometimes, I learn useful things from them, or they learn useful things from me.

If I have important information to share, Facebook is the way to do it and they do the same.  For example, for my most recent high school reunion (which took place a few years ago), the reunion committee didn’t even bother with paper invitations.  Instead, they did the whole thing on Facebook.

It was at this reunion that I was struck by something interesting — those high school classmates who I find most interesting and to whom I feel most close now were not my friends in high school.  Some were just nodding acquaintances.  The flip side is that the people with whom I spent the most time in high school aren’t people I would want anything to do with now.  I enjoy following them on Facebook, but I do not consider them friends.

Much of this has to do with politics:  my close friends from high school have all become hard-core progressives; my distant acquaintances from high school, the ones I value as Facebook friends, are all conservatives or libertarians.  This doesn’t mark much of a shift from high school.  The hard-core progressives were Democrats; the conservatives and libertarians were Republicans or libertarians.  In other words, my high school classmates haven’t changed much, but I certainly have.  My values have shifted profoundly.

All of which makes me wonder if I would have been less of a social outcast in high school if I’d figured out earlier that I am, by nature, conservative.  My Democrat ideology was merely a shell, imposed from the outside by circumstances.

My thoughts are running along these lines today because I spent a lovely afternoon with my first best friend, whom I met when we both were 3.  We drifted apart by the time we were 10, so much so that we had no contact whatsoever by high school.  We weren’t hostile to each other.  We functioned in entirely separate universes.  Because our parents remained friendly, we’ve never entirely lost touch, but 2013 marks the first year we’ve been in contact since 1994.

She is an absolute delight (showing that I had good taste when I was 3).  More than that, I discovered that she’s very good friends with one of those high school acquaintances whose friendship I’ve grown to value on Facebook.  This guy and I haven’t spoken to each other face to face since 1979, but I hope one day to meet him — and I’m somehow not surprised to learn that those two friends of my dotage are themselves friends.

Meanwhile, the view of the scandals from the Left

I really love Facebook.  It helps me hone my epigrammatic skills, since I believe it demands some brevity; it allows me, in sneaky fashion, to expose my liberal friends to articles and ideas that don’t normally appear on their horizons; and it allows me to get a window into what ordinary liberals (as opposed to internet activist liberals) are thinking.

For the past week, as scandal after scandal emerged — Benghazi, AP, IRS — my friends have been conspicuously silent.  They’re starting to re-group, as the memes beginning to flow.  I’m not seeing the overwhelming deluge of posters that they latched onto after Todd Akin opened his mouth, but they’re definitely headed somewhere.

On the Benghazi scandal, we have this one:

Trying to relitigate Iraq

Who cares that the intelligence leading up to the Iraq War was the best available at the time? Who cares that much of it proved to be true? Who cares that Plame and Wilson were inveterate liars and self-promoters?

For the Left, Bush is the magic inoculation: Because Bush was once president, there is nothing Obama can do wrong because no matter his culpability or wrongdoing, Bush was worse.  Nyah!  The fact that the Benghazi incident reveals politically-motivated failures, lies, and negligence simply doesn’t matter, because Bush was worse.

Even if one accepts, solely for the sake of argument, that Bush indeed was exactly as morally culpable for carelessness and cover-ups, that’s a dreadful standard.  “Hey, I know I killed those two guys, but you can’t arrest or imprison me, because Charles Manson was worse.”  “Yeah, okay, so I killed millions of my own countrymen, but what are you going to do?  Mao killed more.”

The fact is, though, that Bush was never guilty of anything more than relying on bad intelligence — or for making bad decisions based upon good intelligence.  Nothing he did was done behind the scenes, nor did he walk away during the night, leaving Americans to die.  And there’s no evidence whatsoever of a cover-up.  After all, post-Watergate, it’s been received wisdom that it’s not the act, it’s the cover-up that’s the problem.

The other thing my Leftist friends are finally catching up with is the umbrella thing.  This poster is now making the rounds:

Umbrellas and presidents

When one of my Facebook friends posted that image, and repeated the question (“What’s the difference?”) I politely pointed out several differences:  First, the other umbrella holders are not Marines. They’re Army or aides, and they’re clearly along to lend a hand, not stand guard. Second, Marines do not carry umbrellas, and for the Commander in Chief to demand that they violate standing orders is bad. Third, Marines only carry umbrellas for women, which makes the president look wussy in the midst of scandals that have even his acolytes questioning his leadership abilities (because he’s either ineffective or corrupt, so they’ve chose ineffective). And fourth, the President’s own words were dreadful: “They’re going to look good next to us.”

(Incidentally, after Hillary’s famous, dishonest, prevaricating, cover-up question “what difference at this point does it make?” I would suggest that Democrats/Progressives henceforth avoid that question entirely.  It invariably means that it makes a big difference, and not one that looks good for them.)

Those words yield themselves to two interpretations, both dreadful. Either Obama thinks of the Marines as props (which is entirely possible given how Michelle framed herself with troops in dress uniform when she handed out the Best Picture Oscar) or he actually thinks that his overwhelming God-like-ness will make the Marines — the Marines! — look better. Or, as some wit showed in a poster:

Obama the Marines and an umbrella

The one thing that none of my liberal Facebook friends has dared to touch is the IRS scandal. I know why, too. Doing so would force them to admit one of two unpalatable things: (1) either they think it’s okay for the IRS to be used for partisan purposes or (2) they would have to acknowledge that conservatives were right that Obama’s administration is corrupt and that big government is a dangerous infringement on individual liberties. They choose silence.

Pro-Second Amendment supporters dying — conspiracy or coincidence? *UPDATED*

[UPDATE:  The magical Chukker left a comment with a link to this New York Times article, which is precisely the article I meant and that I incorrectly tied to The New Yorker.]

I stopped taking The New Yorker seriously many years ago.  Even before I crossed the political Rubicon, I started finding its articles, especially Toobin’s legal analyses, silly.  Nevertheless, there was one article that stuck in my mind. Unfortunately, I only remember the overarching principles in the article, rather than the salient facts that would allow me to locate it again.

The story began by telling how elderly Finnish twin brothers were killed within an hour of each other, with each having been struck down by a car while riding a bicycle.  The whole thing sounded highly suspicious, until one started looking at further details:  the men always rode bicycles, they were riding during a busy time on a road shared with heavy traffic, and there was a snowstorm taking place, severely affecting visibility.  Rather than it being the unlikely case of twins dying in the same way at the same time, it became the likely case of bicyclists being hit by cars while biking on a main road during a white-out.

The article then switched to the fact that several scientists involved in some controversial project had died within a few months of each other, some of them from natural causes, some from bizarre accidents, and one by suicide.  Rumors started being bandied about to the effect that the scientists were being killed by government forces (I forget which government) to ensure their silence.

The bulk of the article, if I remember correctly, talked about the way in which the human mind is programmed to find patterns in things.  We have to.  Otherwise, we’d be incapable of making sense of all the data that constantly surrounds us.  We filter out a great deal, and what we do see or learn, we try to fit into larger patterns.  Usually, this innate ability helps us out.  Sometimes, though, it causes us to see connections where none actually exist.

You understand this dichotomy if you think about the movie A Beautiful Mind.  When Nash is in genius mode, he finds a legitimate pattern that all have missed.  When he’s in schizophrenic mode, though, he sees patterns where none exist.

This long intro is necessary because a friend sent me a fascinating article about the recent deaths of two people, both of whom were important in the Second Amendment community.  John Noveske manufactured exquisite rifles and was killed in a car accident within days of his having posted a long Facebook article noting a common thread binding all of the mass killers going back to Columbine — they were all taking psychiatric drugs.  Hmmm.

Keith Ratliff was huge popular on YouTube for his gun related videos.  He was recently found dead on a lonely country road, with a bullet in his head.  Hmmm again.

The same article posits that these two men’s deaths are not a coincidence but are, instead, part of a concerted effort to silence those willing to speak out for gun rights:

Sure, a car crash involving John Noveske could be a coincidence. It could also be a coincidence that no video footage has been released from Sandy Hook showing Adam Lanza carrying any rifle whatsoever.

It might also be a coincidence that Dianne Feinstein just happened to have her detailed gun confiscation bill ready to release immediately following the Sandy Hook shooting.

It might also be a total coincidence that according to Google.com, the United Way Sandy Hook donation support page was created on December 11, 2012 — a full three days before the shooting took place.

It could also be a total coincidence that NBC News reported Adam Lanza’s AR-15 rifle was left in his car and was never used in the shooting at all.

I suppose it could be a coincidence that Bank of America slammed home an economic embargo against an online gun parts retailer in the days following the Sandy Hook shooting.

And it could be coincidence that Facebook suspended or shut down the accounts of hundreds of prominent people who advocated the Second Amendment, including our account here at Natural News.

And finally, it could be a total coincidence that police radio recordings seem to indicate there were multiple shooters involved in Sandy Hook.

But what are the odds of ALL of these coincidences existing simultaneously? Those odds are virtually zero.

Something’s fishy with all this. It’s becoming increasingly apparent that an order has come down from the very top to destroy, silence, threaten or execute true American patriots. Steve Quayle has long predicted this would be the very first step before foreign troops are unleashed on American soil to take over the country and deliver it, just as Obama has always planned, into the hands of the globalist crime syndicate.

It all sounds outrageous, I admit, and I’m not even sure what to believe myself. But it’s becoming more difficult by the day to deny actual events happening right before our eyes. Believe what you will, but don’t be surprised if people like Steve Quayle and Alex Jones were right all along. If we see any more mysterious deaths of prominent gun advocates, it going to raise huge red flags across the patriot community.

I’m disinclined to read too much into the events that have come together recently.  As matters stand today, rather than seeing a concerted effort by dark forces, I believe that the Sandy Hook shooting triggered (pardon the pun) certain events, such as the fact that Facebook (run by young Progressives) suspended gun proponents’ accounts or that Bank of America (run by old Progressives) is eying askance those in the gun business.

Additionally, the Sandy Hook shooting, and the Left’s hysteric response, made us aware of individual tragedies, such as Noveske’s and Raliff’s deaths.  Absent Sandy Hook, we almost certainly wouldn’t have connected those two deaths.  They would have been, instead, two stand-alone events, one an accident, and one a murder.

Having cast cold water on the theory that there is a vast anti-gun conspiracy being played out here, let me now argue the other side.  The Obama government is the least transparent administration in modern history.  It’s an administration that’s wedded to covert action, much of which has to do with weapons.  (Fast and Furious and gun-running in the Middle East being the easiest examples for me to bring to mind.)  Given this, why not believe that it summoned black ops to do wet work that will radically weaken American rights?  Too often, after a coup, we discover that those who benefited from the coup had spent a great deal of time to get their ducks (or, perhaps more accurately, their dominoes) in a row, preparatory for the “revolution.”  In other words, it’s possible (although, I think, not probable) that we are watching a conspiracy in action.

Right now, I’m inclined to give coincidence the benefit of the doubt.  As I said at the beginning of the post, our brains are programmed to make connections.  Usually, these serve us well.  Sometimes, though, they lead us down the primrose path.

For now, then, all of this is coincidence.  However, if too many coincidences start to pile up, I’m willing to keep an open mind about covert and concerted action initiated by an administration that has regularly shown itself to be both open to such conduct and hostile to the unalienable rights set out in the Constitution.

 

Found it on Facebook — Socialism versus Capitalism

In an earlier post, I ranted about the nasty vapidity that characterizes the “posters” my liberal friends put up on Facebook whenever an election draws near.  I also mentioned that my conservative friends consistently post more substantive articles and images.  This one, from my brother-in-law, manages to be both pithy and substantive.  It packs a world of ideas into a picture and two sentences:

I don’t know that I’ve ever seen anything before that so clearly distinguishes the fundamental differences in the premises from which socialists and capitalists operate when they make their political arguments.  This poster provides a perfect visual to Winston Churchill’s own epigrammatic statement that “The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.”

Random thoughts of an idle mind — and an Open Thread

Progressives and narcissists share an unpleasant trait:  If you make a mistake, it proves that you and your ideas are inferior; if they make a mistake, it’s just a mistake.  Your mistake is irremediable, because it’s intrinsic to who you are; their mistake is just one of those things, and can be either forcibly forgotten or lied about.

***

I seem to be aging backwards.  I was an extremely self-disciplined young person.  If a task needed doing, I buckled down and did it.  Now, I feel like a teenager.  I’m in perpetual, albeit silent, rebellion against the responsibilities in my life.  Because I’m an adult, I don’t openly rebel, but I do take the route of procrastination and passive-aggressive behavior.

***

When a teenage girl says “I’ll be done in a sec,” resign yourself to a very long wait.

***

My liberal Facebook friends are not just less informed about current events than my conservative Facebook friends, they’re less interested.  All year long, my conservative friends post “content rich” material — newspaper articles, magazine articles, long blog posts — that provide facts and opinion about events in the political and economic scene.  And all year long, my liberal friends put up posts about and pictures of themselves.  Then, when an election rolls around, the liberals suddenly become very active, putting up clever, albeit vapid and still content-free, political posters lauding Democrats and maligning Republicans.  The liberals, however, do not link to longer articles, which indicates either that they don’t read anything beyond posters or bumper stickers, or that they assume that no one else is capable of reading anything longer than a poster or bumper sticker.

***

My mild dyslexia pops up whenever I type the word “bumper.”  I always want to type it “pumber,” because the word “bumper,” more than any other, messes with my ability to distinguish “p” from “b”.  If you ever see me write about a “pumber” sticker, you now know why.

***

Thankfully, here in Marin, we don’t get hurricanes.  Sometimes, though, we get some nice winter storms, complete with wind, torrential rain, and thunder & lightning.  We’re having one now.  I always feel a bit guilty that I enjoy this weather so much.  I’m only able to enjoy it because (a) I have a sturdy home that shelters me from the storm and (b) I don’t have to drive long distances through the rain.  Those facts give me the luxury to enjoy wild winter weather in Marin.

***

The most torrential rains I ever experienced were in Texas and England.  In both cases, the rain fell so hard that drivers had to pull off the road, because their windshields had become impenetrable.  There were no individual drops of rain, just walls of water.

***

Any idle thoughts you would like to add to this list?

 

Found it on Facebook: The only thing worse than a sore loser is a sore winner

My Facebook friends are besides themselves with delight about Obama’s victory.  I get that.  What I don’t appreciate is the “kick ‘em while they’re down” attitude that these enlightened people show.  Herewith, the latest offerings from the sore winners on Facebook.

Progressives conflate truly stupid statements about human biology (that would be Todd Akin) and rape (Roger Rivard), with defensible, humane positions about the sanctity of life.  That is, you don’t have to agree with Mourdock, Walsh, or Ryan, but you should recognize that they’ve taken a morally defensible position.  I look forward to the day when reporters ask Progressive political candidates “Do you believe in third trimester abortion?” or “What would you do with an aborted baby that is born alive?”


The thinking person might look at this chart and, instead of boasting about about college degrees, think about budget deficits, urban ghettos, and bankrupt cities.  Just sayin’:

And this one? Well, it’s just vulgar and offensive — a classic example of an ungracious winner:

Didn’t find it on Facebook: the Navy SEALS’ poster attacking Obama on Benghazi

Usually, I post about what I’ve found on Facebook — the anger, the silliness, and the misinformation from my Liberal friends.  Today, I’m doing something different.  I’m posting about what I didn’t find on Facebook.

You see, Facebook was apparently unwilling to tolerate a poster that suggested that Obama had been less than courageous when it came to protecting the people under his command.  (And although Woods and Doherty were no longer with the SEALS when they died, they worked for the CIA, making the President their CEO on the chain of command.)

We here at Bookworm Room do not share Facebook’s bias, and are happy to make this poster available to you:

Yes, Facebook is a corporation and we agree to abide by its terms of service when we choose to use it. I’m not planning on boycotting Facebook, because I find it useful and interesting. However, those two facts don’t mean that I’m willing to let Facebook get away with censoring appropriate political content. (And by “appropriate” I mean that this poster makes a genuine political point, it is not racist or antisemitic or in any other way hate-filled, it’s not X-rated, etc.) If Facebook won’t allow its users to distribute this image, it’s up to the rest of us to do so.

For more information about the Special Operations community’s unhappiness with the Obama administration (he uses them and abuses them, so to speak), go here.

Found it Facebook: Obama, Romney, and the hired help *UPDATED*

A picture is making the rounds amongst my liberal Facebook friends, complete with the caption that “This says it all to me.”

I’m actually not sure what “all” the picture says. That Romney smiles at people performing a service for him while Obama gives them a fist bump?

If the Obama picture had shown him grabbing the mop from the janitor and himself scrubbing the floors, I might have been more impressed.  But the fact that he fist bumps for the camera really doesn’t tell me anything at all.  Likewise, I’d be interested in know what the tip and salary the tarmac guy helping Romney received versus what the custodian greeting Obama earns.  That information might actually tell us something . . . or not.

The one thing I can assure you is that pairing those two pictures tells me nothing about Obama’s and Romney’s individual merit or their ability to govern the United States of America.  It does, however, tell me a lot about Progressives that they can look at these two out-of-context pictures and seem to find some deep meaning — and what it tells me is that, if these voters prevail again in November — we’re in serious trouble.

UPDATE:  Thanks to Plain ol’ Charles, we now know that Romney wasn’t the effete rich guy having his shoes cleaned, he was getting a pre-flight security check.

Happy July 4th!

With a birthday that falls very close to July 4, I’ve always been quite proprietorial about this holiday.  One small part of my brain, while watching fireworks, always thinks “For me?  Why thank you!”

Fortunately, that’s only a smart part of my brain at work.  The bigger part of my brain has a more noble thought:  the best birthday gift in the world is that I am an American, born into a country that, by its founding charter, maximizes individual freedom and minimizes government control over people’s lives.

This year, we are very much at a crossroads.  In 2008, the American people decided to experiment by granting virtually unlimited political power to a cadre of people who have faith only in government, and who view the American people as infantile ignoramuses who can function only under the direction of self-styled experts.  This experiment has seen these experts abandon the contractual relationship that is supposed to control the various branches of government in their relationship to each other and in their relationship to the people.  I will not do a parade of grievances here (you can readily compile your own), but I will note that it was a parade of grievances resulting from overwhelming government pressure that, in 1776, led the American colonists to part ways with Britain.  Historically, Americans don’t like to be pushed around.

My hope for the coming election is that Americans find their backbone and their maturity.  Both backbone and maturity can be scary.  An adult, looking at a sleeping baby, thinks how delightful it must be to be coddled and bathed and fed and sheltered, all with minimal effort on the baby’s part.

What adults forget is how desperately children seek out and fight for freedom and responsibility as they grow.  From the toddler’s “No,” to the five-year-old’s “I can do this myself,” to the teenager’s “You’re not the boss of me,” our development shows that we are programmed to be self-governing.  To deny us that growth is to arrest our development in ways that can only stunt us, whether we’re viewed as individuals or a nation.

For reasons unique to me, Bookworm will continue to be my nom de cyber in the coming year.  However, on Facebook, which is my main point of intellectual (as opposed to social) contact with my corporeal (as opposed to cyber) friends, I am much more aggressively pursuing a conservative agenda.  When people make some fatuous liberal statement, I politely ask them to develop that thought, and then equally politely point out the holes in their reasoning and their facts.  With increasing frequency, I’m posting articles that challenge liberal paradigms.  I do the same in face-to-face conversations.  Confrontation is not my style, but I continuously strive to following Dennis Prager’s dictum to “prefer clarity to agreement” (keeping in mind that clarity often leads to agreement).

One of the things that will help you catch the holes in liberal arguments is to read Jonah Goldberg’s The Tyranny of Cliches: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas. This book gives operating instructions for spotting the conversational tricks that liberals use to shut down conversations without actually having to touch upon substantive issues.  You can’t fight what you can’t see.  These clichés obscure ideas, leaving hapless conservatives fighting chimeras.  Their use also suggests either that liberals have no idea what they’re talking about (the majority, probably) or that they’re very busy hiding the ball (the dangerous power-brokering minority).

The other thing you can do, and this is just for fun, is to help out my friends at Madison Rising.  I’ve blogged here before about their Star Spangled Banner, which I thought was spine tingling.  The guys have now issued a challenge:

Let’s show Press and Tosh – and everyone else – that we still believe in this country and our National Anthem.

Take the Challenge: Help Madison Rising reach 1 million views & downloads by Election Day (November 6th).

Watch the video NOW. If you like what you see, download the song from one of the sites below. [Go to this link for the download sites.]

Happy Independence Day, Everyone!  It’s a great day to be an American.

Enthusiastic support for gay rights

I mentioned in an earlier post the interesting fact that, on my Facebook page, it is my straight friends, not my gay friends, who are the most enthusiastic supporters of gay marriage.  This is not to say that my gay friends are slacking in their support.  They just lack the enthusiasm.  For every one pro-gay marriage Facebook post from a gay friend, there seem to be two from a straight friend.  As I said, I find this enthusiasm a little surprising.  Usually, when people don’t have a dog in the fight, while they may be passively interested in the outcome, they don’t normally become actively engaged in promoting the fight.

While I was mulling this curiosity over in my mind, one of my Facebook friends (a straight one, of course) posted this image:

 

That sentiment is true, of course, but it also obscures the difference between supporting gay rights and animals rights.  Animals can’t speak for themselves.  If we don’t act as their spokesmen, no one will speak on their behalf.  The same is not true for members of the LGBT community.

Help me out here, please.  I am not seeking comments about the validity of the various causes within the gay rights movement.  Instead, I’m just wondering (a) why members of the LGBT movement are now being analogized to mute animals and (b) why the fever is higher in the audience (so to speak) than amongst the players themselves.

If you’re on Facebook, please take a minute to report a truly vile page

The truly vile page I referenced in my post title is Hundred Million Person Hate Israel.  Thankfully, so far it’s only got 30,000 people (out of a 100,000,000 goal) “liking” this incitement to destructive antisemitism, but cancers like this shouldn’t be allowed to grow.

If you have a Facebook page, you can report the site by clicking the above link, which will take you to the page.  On the far left hand side of the page, near the bottom, you’ll see a link saying “Report Page.”  Click on the link and go for it.  I submitted two reports on the page, one for anti-religious hate speech and one for racial/ethnic hate speech.

Also, if you scroll down the left hand side of the page, you’ll see two more related hate sites, one in French, and one directed against Zionism.  Feel free to zap those too.

Once you’ve reported the page, please ask your friends to do the same.

There’s some interesting stuff out there today

I am buried under laundry, house cleaning, caring for parent and children, organizing photos to be digitized (half price, thanks to a Groupon), getting out Christmas cards created and sent, and paying bills.  Coherent thought eludes me.  Cogent essays are an impossibility.

But, all is not lost!  Even as I moulder intellectually, others are writing smart things, which I hereby share with you:

More and more people are catching on to the fact that Obama is a problem, not a solution.

One of the things that slowed this realization was the mythology the media so relentlessly advanced regarding Obama.

There’s only so long, though, that you can hide $4,000,000 vacations from sight.

Given all the lying and hiding, it’s no wonder that people have been enjoying Newt’s penchant for stating out loud the things that others have been thinking.

Still, there are some qualified people I still wouldn’t want in the job.  Smart and decent, yes, but I just don’t like her.

Of course, some people are stating things that only paranoid crazies are thinking.

There are always those out there who are immune to reality, though, and view themselves as pathetic, but self-righteous, victims no matter their actual circumstances.

Fortunately, there are still good guys, and we’d do well to remember them.

Thankfully, we’re still clinging by our fingernails to a culture that gives everyone a chance.

And finally, an amusing article about a silly pastime.  (P.S.  I still like Facebook.)

 

 

Elizabeth Warren — mob boss *UPDATED*

I woke up this morning to find that my Leftist friends literally plastered Facebook with the above poster.  (Since I grew up and still live in the Bay Area, I have lots of Leftist friends.)  If the text on the image is unclear, this is what it says:

There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own.  Nobody.  You built a factory out there — good for you.

But I want to be clear.  You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for.  You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate.  You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for.  You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory.  [Bookworm note:  Warren must have made this statement before the Gibson Guitar factory raid, when marauding bands of government agents did precisely that to a factory that forgot to pay off the Democrats.]

Now look.  You built a factory and it turned into something terrific or a great idea — God bless!  Keep a big hunk of it.  But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.

There are so many things wrong with Warren’s statement that I really don’t know where to begin.  Tonestaple sent me an email that certainly gets the tone right (which led to my post’s title):

They [meaning the middle class Leftists who applaud the above statement] seem to think it is the ne plus ultra of common sense.  I think it sounds like a gangster saying, “Nice factory you’ve got here – be a shame if anything happened to it.”

As my interlineation about Gibson Guitar shows, Tonestaple perfectly nailed the reality behind Warren’s cutesy, nursery school-esque, “God blessy” statement that everybody should share with everybody else.”  The reality is that, in Obama world, if you don’t make nice with the government, the government is not going to make nice with you.  (The cutesy tone, incidentally, is classic Warren. She was one of my law school profs, and I found her invariably sweet in word, unintelligible in substance, and vaguely vicious in action.)

Tone aside, there are two major problems with Warren’s factory parable.  The first is the assumption that the factory owner contributed nothing to roads, education, police and fire forces, etc.  In Warren’s world, the factory owner is a pure parasite.  Warren conveniently forgets that the factory owner pays taxes (hugely more taxes than all those people whom she posits paying for roads, education, etc.); that the factory owner provides work for and pays the salary of those employees who then pay taxes; and that a successful factory owner makes a product that provides a benefit to people.

The second problem with Warren’s statement is actually a much more profound one than her “forgetting” that it’s the employers who provide the goods, services and salaries that make all those useful taxes possible.  Warren’s statement turns the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and everything else the Founders stood for upside down.

In Warren’s world, a socialist world, the government owns everything.  (And don’t you love it when well paid Harvard professors advocate socialism?)  The Founders would have been horrified by Warren’s pronouncement.  As their writings demonstrate, they believed that natural rights, the rights that ought to govern any righteous nation, mandate that ownership is vested in the individual.  The government is merely a servant of the people.  We, the people, pay its salary (taxes) so that it can provide services for us.  That’s all.

You don’t have to go very far to understand that the Founders wouldn’t have agreed with Warren that the government allows people to own things, provided that they then make nice with the government.  Our seminal document, the Declaration of Independence, spells out the master-servant relationship, and it is the people who are masters and the government the servant, not vice versa:

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.

These were the principles on which our nation was founded, and they provided the guiding paradigm for our Constitution.  When my children ask me what the Constitution is, I have a very simple answer:  It’s a contract under which the federal government promises to provide certain limited services for the American people and, further, promises not to abuse the power that the people hand the government to enable it to carry out those services.  Elizabeth Warren clearly has no use for our nation’s contract.

UPDATEJoshuaPundit comments too on Warren’s dangerous economic ignorance and class warfare.

If you like my writing, you can get more, lots more, by purchasing The Bookworm Turns : A Secret Conservative in Liberal Land, available for $2.99 at AmazonSmashwords or through iTunes.

Sitting on my spindle *UPDATED*

For the past two days, I’ve been gathering links that I’ve meant to use in stand-alone posts.  That’s clearly not going to happen, though, so let me pass the links onto you, in the hope that you find them as interesting as I did.

Here’s something of a public service announcement:  if you post your phone number in Facebook, your phone number has suddenly become public property.  Please be careful.

Has Sarah Palin acquired a stalker or a legitimate journalist?  Inquiring minds want to know.

Elvis Costello joins the ranks of useful idiots to boycott Israel.  One Israeli politely takes him to task for his ignorance and inhumanity.

Much as the press loves Obama, Obama does not love the press.  They’ll never abandon his ship, though.  Even if they have unexpectedly found themselves traveling in steerage, when they thought they’d booked first class accommodations, he’s still taking them to their socialist port of choice.

Have other presidents blown off Memorial Day?  Even if they have, it still isn’t as tacky as Obama’s having done so, because no other president has ever shown such manifest disdain and disrespect for the American military.  This isn’t a one-off.  It’s a package deal of giving the middle finger to the troops he commands.  [UPDATE:  At American Thinker, they get it.]

Heather MacDonald points to the Emperor’s Nakedness:  all the huffing and puffing about the Arizona law hides the fact that Democrats desperately don’t want to enforce border security.  They will willingly watch terrorists sneak into the country, they will watch drug dealers destroy our cities, they will see masses of immigrants ruin our economy — all before they will give up the possibility of millions of new Democratic party-line voters.

If you live in North Carolina’s Second District, you should find interesting this interview with Republican candidate Renee Ellmers, another woman who found politics through the Tea Parties.

Nihilism and, inevitably, anarchy.  Is that the world’s future?  In a post-Judeo-Christian world, Dennis Prager thinks it may well be.  America used to be the single brake against this trend, but Obama’s America has jumped upon the bandwagon.

I have no idea why it’s a surprise to learn that, the more government spends, the more businesses retrench rather than joining the spending party.  Business people understand what liberal policy wonks don’t:  all that spending has to be paid for by taxes; all those taxes suck money out of the economy; and an economy with no money is a perilous business environment.  The fact that it took a scholarly study to figure this one out tells us just how removed from reality the Ivory Tower crowd is.  [UPDATE:  Just wanted to add one more thing.  I'm reading Jaques Barzun's The Culture We Deserve for my (conservative) reading group.  I'm only two essays in, but he's already explained perfectly why I loathed the liberal arts program at UC Berkeley when I was a student there in the very early 1980s.  I've always been a member of the true reality-based community.  I therefore never had the stomach for the artificiality of academia.  People don't live in petri dishes.  They live in the real world, with real problems and, most importantly, real cause and effect.]

Great.  The EPA is planning on managing plants in Texas.  This should go well (see my previous paragraph).

The downside of social networking

We’ve all heard about teenagers who, after posting the details of the parties on a social networking site, found that their parties had turn into riots because of crashers who troll networking sites.  It turns out that, at least if you’re an Israeli, party crashers may be the least of your worries:

Israel’s internal intelligence service, Shin Bet, urged the public to exercise caution when using Facebook, saying Arabs are trying to recruit spies on the popular social networking site.

The agency warned Israelis against answering unsolicited messages or sharing telephone numbers and other sensitive information over the Internet. It said there have been numerous incidents recently in which violent groups tried to recruit Israelis through Facebook and other networking sites.

The Shin Bet said Israelis should be wary of seemingly innocent meetings or dates proposed online by people they don’t know. These messages might be posted by militants with intention to kidnap or kill, it said.