If you read one thing today . . . read about the Democrats’ new totalitarianism

Democrats totalitariansIf you have time today to read only one thing, you must read Kevin Williamson’s The Democrats’ Theme for 2016 Is Totalitarianism. I’ll get you started, and then you have to click on the link to finish:

At the beginning of December, Rolling Stone writer Jeff Goodell asked Secretary of State John Kerry whether Charles and David Koch, two libertarian political activists, should be considered — his remarkable words — “an enemy of the state.” He posed the same question about Exxon, and John Kerry, who could have been president of these United States, said that he looked forward to the seizure of Exxon’s assets for the crime of “proselytizing” impermissibly about the question of global warming.

An enemy of the state? That’s the Democrats’ theme for the New Year: totalitarianism.

Donald Trump may talk like a brownshirt, but the Democrats mean business. For those of you keeping track, the Democrats and their allies on the left have now: voted in the Senate to repeal the First Amendment, proposed imprisoning people for holding the wrong views on global warming, sought to prohibit the showing of a film critical of Hillary Rodham Clinton, proposed banning politically unpopular academic research, demanded that funding politically unpopular organizations and causes be made a crime and that the RICO organized-crime statute be used as a weapon against targeted political groups. They have filed felony charges against a Republican governor for vetoing a piece of legislation, engaged in naked political persecutions of members of Congress, and used the IRS and the ATF as weapons against political critics.

On the college campuses, they shout down unpopular ideas or simply forbid nonconforming views from being heard there in the first place. They have declared academic freedom an “outdated concept” and have gone the full Orwell, declaring that freedom is oppressive and that they should not be expected to tolerate ideas that they do not share. They are demanding mandatory ideological indoctrination sessions for nonconforming students. They have violently assaulted students studying in libraries and assaulted student journalists documenting their activities. They have staged dozens of phony hate crimes and sexual assaults as a pretext for persecuting unpopular organizations and people.

What they cannot achieve by legislation or litigation, they seek to achieve by simple violence, left-wing activists having smashed, looted, and burned portions of Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore, where Koreans and other Asian minorities were specifically targeted. As on college campuses, they have made a point of assaulting journalists documenting their violence. They have rioted in Philadelphia and in other cities.

They are not backing away from that. Hillary Rodham Clinton may do her vice-principal shtick, but Bernie Sanders is calling for “revolution,” and by “revolution” he means crushing the economic and political rights of opponents in order to prevent them from having a say in political debate. Sounding oddly like Henry Ford, he seethes as he talks about scheming foreigners and international bankers working nefariously behind the scenes to undermine American interests, while his admirers brandish such traditional symbols of totalitarianism as the hammer-and-sickle flag.

Read the rest here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Bookworm Beat 12-7-15 — Pearl Harbor edition and open thread

It’s ironic that on the eve of the 74th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, our President announced that the only thing that is infamous is (a) the Constitution (with primary focus on the 1st and 2nd Amendments) and (b) the apparently boundless (but surprisingly never acted upon) racism, Islamophobia, and gun-loving violence of the American people. Honestly, if this were December 7, 1941, he’d be telling us that Pearl Harbor had nothing to do with Japan and that we need to examine our consciences to understand why an unaffiliated group of Japanese people in Japanese military aircraft would attack our arrogant, imperialist military. And on that note, here are the posters:

Pearl Harbor

Loretta Lynch free speech

Loretta Lynch will prosecute anti-Muslim speech

Loretta Lynch and free speech

Loretta Lynch grinch kills free speech

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

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

Only conservatives are paying attention

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

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

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

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[VIDEO] Alleged Campaign Finance Reform Stifles Free Speech

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Should anyone in America ever be too big to jail?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Woman-writing-300x265

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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[VIDEO] American universities continue their crackdown on free speech

Liberals Conservatives censorship

Censorship is strong and growing on American campuses.  It’s disguised by words and phrases such as “microaggressions,” “trigger warnings,” and “political correctness,” but it all boils down to the same thing:  Telling people with whom the Left disagrees to “shut up,” but hiding that dictatorial ukase behind Orwellian phrases implying kindness and sensitivity.

Incidentally, this video is the perfect companion to a video I posted earlier today, which shows how the line between satire and reality has almost vanished completely on America’s college campuses.

We have just a sliver of time within which to preserve our constitutional rights

Man with mouth taped shutMy news feed, lately, seems to be overwhelmed by two primary stories: the Left’s increasingly shrill control over public discourse and ISIS’s depredations in the Middle East. Both stories, believe it or not, have led me to rethink the role, or perhaps “plight,” of ordinary Germans during World War II — and to realize that we are much closer to those ordinary Germans than we would like to believe, both in terms of our behavior and the risks we face.

Growing up, of course, I had nothing but disdain for every reasonably sentient German alive during the years from 1933 through 1945. They were all complicit and therefore they were all evil. I considered myself emotionally generous in that I did not believe that the post-War generation of Germans carried with them the sins of their fathers. (Indeed, I’ve long held that it’s a very dangerous mistake to make people live with a guilt they haven’t earned.) But the actual World War II generation . . . well, they were all guilty, guilty, guilty!

But I’ve learned and seen a few things of late that have made me aware that ordinary citizens in an evil nation, even if they never actively fought against that evil and seemed to enjoy the benefits of cooperation, may nevertheless be victims.

One of the things I’ve learned is that in the 1933 election that brought the Nazis to power they only had 33% of the popular vote. People may bemoan our two-party, winner take all system, but it actually serves as a bulwark against a minority power grab. As it was, once the Nazis controlled the Reichstag, they consolidated power very quickly, at which point votes became irrelevant.

The Germans consolidated power in two ways: The first was the campus Leftist way, which was thought control through speech control.  This took the form of both censorship and those hysterical mass rallies. The second way was the ISIS way, which was brute force.  While the rest of Europe and America, caught up in their own Depressions, turned a blind eye, this brute force was something very public for German citizens:  It consisted of murder, torture, and other forms of both physical and psychological intimidation. Those who tried to stand up for the victims (whether Jews or communists or gays or other targets) were very swiftly brought to realize that their efforts would result in the Nazis destroying them and, perhaps even worse, using the most painful methods to destroy their loved ones.

We all like to think that, if we were living in Germany in the 1930s, we would have stood up to the Nazis. But here’s the truth: most people aren’t that courageous. They want to live their lives free from pain and fear. They want their children to be safe. And if the bad guys come into town and conspicuously arrest, beat, shoot, behead, or throw of buildings a few human examples of people the bad guys dislike, everyone else is going to fall into line. This isn’t because they’re evil, it’s because they lack moral and physical courage — something that, when push comes to bloody shove, most of us lack.

I know that much as I’m aware of right and wrong, and freedom and tyranny, the first time someone puts a knife to my or my children’s throats, I’m going to back down.  I can’t pretend otherwise.  I’d like to be brave, but I doubt that I am.

What this means is that, when the bad guys start to move in, there is an achingly small window of time within which the ordinary people, the ones who just want to live their lives and lack the fortitude to face down raw evil, can speak and act to stop the bad guys in their tracks. Just keep in mind that, percentage-wise, the Bolsheviks, the Nazis, ISIS — every totalitarian group, didn’t traffic in numbers. They trafficked in fear when they had tested the population and the power structure and discovered that, even when the bad guys started their first tentative probes at these societies, things that could easily have been countered, no one would fight back.

With American Leftists on the move, we are getting very close to the last chance for ordinary people — the one who will yield to brutality — to have their say. This is our time to be as brave as we can be. Once a totalitarian group gets the bit in its mouth, it will not hesitate to use force to cow the majority. I understand now that most ordinary Germans were not bad people. They were people who didn’t speak out before 1933 and, because of their ordinary-people limitations, couldn’t speak out after 1933.

What we need to do now is stand up firmly to the Left’s increasingly strident (and scarily successful) efforts at thought and speech control.  When our guns are gone and theirs come out, we’ve lost.

We must ridicule the insane university speech codes; call out Progressives on their refusal to allow people to express dissenting opinions; constantly remind all of the people in our world that ISIS and Boko Haram and all these other fanatic groups are entirely in keeping with Mohamed’s dictates; and, among other things, get people to acknowledge that you, as a non-Muslim, are allowed to draw a picture of Mohamed — although you can make it clear that, as someone who respects religion, you would not gratuitously draw a deliberately offensive picture of Mohamed.

By the way, here’s a nice, and quite respectful, picture of Mohamed:

17th century French picture of Mohamed

(Incidentally, let me just point out that, because we have no images from life of either Jesus or Mohamed, none of the pictures we draw are actually of those two men. Jesus is typically drawn as a 14th century Northern European man, while the picture above demonstrates that, over the centuries, Mohamed was drawn as some sort of Ottoman potentate. We know these men through their words, not their visages. I prefer Jesus’s words.)

Again, let me repeat my message: we are very quickly losing the window of time within which we can push back against a totalitarian movement. The Left’s attacks on Christian bakers is a warning shot over the bow. Obama’s endless efforts to politicize every madman’s act in order to destroy the 2nd Amendment is another shot over the bow. The insanity of speech codes in universities — more preliminary missiles.

We are being silenced, softened up, and threatened. If we ordinary Americans, the ones who have passively valued our constitutional rights, don’t push back now — and all that we need to do push back now is to speak up, politely, firmly, logically, and freely — the Left will bring out its big guns, secure in its minority victory over a cowed American majority.