We’ve met the enemy and… he is “us”!

Not militant Islam, not a resurgent Russia or China, not North Korea, not Iran….us! Conservatives, independents, and anyone else that disagrees with his agenda. Or, so says President Barack Hussein Obama.

Why is it that Barack Hussein Obama and other Lefty presidents and presidential wannabees (Kerry, Gore, Clinton, Carter) feel compelled to rouse their base by saying “I will fight for you…against…[insert name of individual or group]” when it is clear that whom they plan to fight against are other Americans that disagree with them? With Obama and Clinton, these attacks became personal against specific individual American citizens (Rush Limbaugh comes to mind).

What ever happened to the idea of the President as our leader? Isn’t he /she supposed to be “our” leader, as in the leader of us all? Instead, these Lefty Presidents position themselves as the great dividers, exhorting groups of Americans to fight each other.

Please help me remember. Did Reagan talk this way? Nixon? Bush I? Bush II? I remember George W. Bush, for example, being gracious toward even his most vituperative opponents (e.g., Cindy Sheehan) and making a point of standing up for the rights of other Americans to disagree with him.

If only Barack Hussein Obama could muster as much indignation toward our country’s real enemies instead of trying to pit Americans against one another.

Obama has publicly labeled me the “enemy” on the basis of my beliefs and values. He has publicly exhorted his followers to fight against me. Sadly, I have to say, Barack Hussein Obama is not my President. He told me so.

Everything you needed to know about the Dems, run through the Kagan filter

Kim Priestap, who blogs at Up North Mommy, got an impassioned email from the Democratic Party, raving about Elena Kagan.  Does it rave about her brains?  No (although it mentions as an aside that she’s “among the best legal minds this country has to offer,” which is a depressing comment about legal minds in America).  Her legal expertise?  No.  Her judicial experience?  No (because there is none, no matter how one puffs up her limited management experience and some government work).  Her looks?  No, no and no.

Instead, the email is very clear about Kagan’s single most important virtue, along with a little subsidiary fillip to add to the Progressive excitement:  She’s a woman and, even better, she’s almost black because she once worked for a black man.

Read the following and tell me if the whole point of the Democratic euphoria isn’t that, after being the first female Harvard Law School dean, and the first female Solicitor General, she’s poised to become the third female Supreme Court justice sitting on the court, and one who is black by association, thereby raising both the female and black liberal quota on the Supreme Court:

Have you been watching the hearings? The nomination of a Supreme Court justice is a special time in Washington, DC. The air tastes different — it buzzes with an electricity even the humidity can’t conquer — and even more so this time.

Elena Kagan’s nomination is special. It took us almost 200 years as a country to get the first woman on the Supreme Court, but now we’re on a roll! If Elena Kagan is confirmed, for the first time, we’ll have three women serving together. We’re still a far cry from parity, but we cannot allow the perfect to become the enemy of the good. We’re making progress, and Elena Kagan is great progress.

Over the past three days of hearings, she has conducted herself with poise, grace, rigor, and humor. She has won praise from liberals and conservatives — prior to her nomination and since. It’s no easy feat to become the first female dean of Harvard Law School and the first female to serve as solicitor general. Her illustrious resume also includes periods as associate White House counsel and deputy policy director under President Bill Clinton, as a teacher at the University of Chicago Law School, and as a law clerk for Justice Thurgood Marshall.

Lend your name to help us show that the American people back Elena Kagan’s nomination.

Let there be no doubt: She earned this nomination. It’s not simply because she’s a woman, or because she’s among the best legal minds this country has to offer. I know firsthand the strength of Elena’s character and am certain she is the best choice.

The Supreme Court nomination process, like almost any political contest, is like a food fight where the nominee does his or her best to stay clean and dry while everyone else in the room slings Sloppy Joes. I’ve watched this before (recently) and there’s nothing the Republicans won’t do to take down a nominee chosen by a president they’ve vowed to obstruct at all costs.

Republicans are attacking her credibility, her credentials, and her character. They’ve become particularly focused on her work as a clerk for Justice Marshall, seemingly maligning his long and respected service to our country. As chief counsel to the NAACP, Justice Marshall argued the case of Brown v Board of Education. Later he would become the first African American to serve as solicitor general and the first African American to serve as a justice of the Supreme Court. We would be better off with more justices like Marshall, and Kagan’s work for him should be a feather in her cap, not a thorn in her side right now.

The other side is grabbing at straws, with nothing to support their groundless accusations, but it doesn’t stop the attacks. The Democratic Party is pushing back to ensure that this incredible woman gets a fair hearing, but we must also show that public support for Kagan is overwhelming.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony are rolling in their graves.  I think Martin Luther King is also starting to wiggle around in there.  This is not what they envisioned when they campaigned for equal rights for women, or demanded that people be measured, not by the color of their skin or bra size, but by the content of their character.  These trailblazers wanted women and blacks to enjoy full inalienable, constitutional, and legal rights in America.  For women and minorities to be valued just as numbers on some quota list is heartbreaking and as dehumanizing in its own way as the ancient status quo.

I have nothing more to say.

Pyramid schemes — so simple even a child can understand them

Today, I told my children, who are 11 and 12, about pyramid schemes.  Since it’s always easiest for me to focus on people, I started my story with the first famous American pyramid schemer:  Charles Ponzi, who gave his name to the whole racket.

I explained the Ponzi scheme to the kids in the simplest of terms, using very easy math:  I told them that Ponzi promised his first investors that, if they gave him their money, he would give them double that amount back.  (I actually don’t know if he promised to double the money, but it was an easy concept for the kids to grasp.)  Excited by the prospective of money for nothing, these people readily handed their money to Ponzi.  They were the first tier of investors.

Ponzi then went out and found a larger number of investors, who also gave him their money.  These were the second tier of investors.  He took the money he received from the second tier, and gave it to the first tier.  The first tier was very happy.  Having done nothing, they nevertheless doubled their investment.  Many of them came back for more, reinvesting their money, and joining the third tier of investors.  With the money from that third tier, Ponzi paid off, big time, to the second tier.

This went on quite happily for a while, I told the kids, but then something inevitable happened:  Ponzi stopped finding a sufficient number of new investors whose fresh funds could pay off his old investors.  Since Ponzi was just moving money around — he was not providing a service or creating goods — the only thing that kept the money flowing was fresh blood.

So, I asked my attentive little audience, what happened then?  My 12 year old was quick with a reply:  “The whole system collapsed.”  Smart child.

Before I was even able to go on from them, my 11 year old, eyes suddenly widening, announced, “That’s like what the government does.  It takes money from people who work, and gives it to people who don’t work.”   Really smart child.

(By the way, I am absolutely not making this up.  That’s the story I told, and that is verbatim how my children responded, no editing, no augmenting.)

I leave you with a replay of Chris Christie, who speaks about the Day of Reckoning that will be inevitable unless we sharply turn away from the Progressive government’s giant Ponzi scheme:

Oh, I have one more “by the way,” apropos Gov. Chris Christie.  As you know, I believe lots of uninformed Americans voted for Obama, not because of his qualifications, but because they were swept away by the rapture of voting for the first black president.  I also read somewhere that a candidate in Texas is running, not on her actual qualifications for the job, but on her promise to the voters that, if they vote for her, she’ll be the first transgendered whatever it is she’s running for.

I mean, honestly, the way the media frames elections lately, the most important thing is to push the identity politics side of someone’s candidacy as the primary consideration, trumping all other matters.  So how about all of us starting a campaign for Chris Christie, promising Americans that, if he wins, he’ll be the first rotund president in the 21st Century, and the first since William Howard Taft?

After all, considering how badly people of weight are treated in America, it seems to me that Christie is already well on his way to wearing the victim moniker so beloved of the press.  The only problem, of course, is that Christie might, just might, be offended by victim/identity politics status, and might actually want to run on issues and competency.

Sit back and watch as America enters “The Twilight Zone”

In the early television era, one of the most innovative and imaginative shows around was Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone.  Certain episodes were so compelling that they entered the popular imagination, and are familiar to anyone over 30.  One of the most brilliant episodes, shown in 1961, was It’s a Good Life, based upon a Jerome Bixby short story.  I’ll let Rod Serling himself explain the episode’s premise:

‘Tonight’s story on The Twilight Zone is somewhat unique and calls for a different kind of introduction.

This, as you may recognize, is a map of the United States, and there’s a little town there called Peaksville. On a given morning not too long ago, the rest of the world disappeared and Peaksville was left all alone. Its inhabitants were never sure whether the world was destroyed and only Peaksville left untouched or whether the village had somehow been taken away. They were, on the other hand, sure of one thing: the cause. A monster had arrived in the village. Just by using his mind, he took away the automobiles, the electricity, the machines – because they displeased him – and he moved an entire community back into the dark ages – just by using his mind.

Now I’d like to introduce you to some of the people in Peaksville, Ohio. This is Mr. Fremont. It’s in his farmhouse that the monster resides. This is Mrs. Fremont. And this is Aunt Amy, who probably had more control over the monster in the beginning than almost anyone. But one day she forgot. She began to sing aloud. Now, the monster doesn’t like singing, so his mind snapped at her, turned her into the smiling, vacant thing you’re looking at now. She sings no more. And you’ll note that the people in Peaksville, Ohio, have to smile. They have to think happy thoughts and say happy things because once displeased, the monster can wish them into a cornfield or change them into a grotesque, walking horror. This particular monster can read minds, you see. He knows every thought, he can feel every emotion.

Oh yes, I did forget something, didn’t I? I forgot to introduce you to the monster. This is the monster. His name is Anthony Fremont. He’s six years old, with a cute little-boy face and blue, guileless eyes. But when those eyes look at you, you’d better start thinking happy thoughts, because the mind behind them is absolutely in charge. This is the Twilight Zone.’

The episode walks viewers through the horrors little Anthony inflicts on the town’s residents if they think negative thoughts or engage in behaviors that irk him.  By show’s end, when one of the town’s citizens, having imbibed enough to have some dutch courage, calls Anthony both a monster and a murderer, Anthony turns him into a jack-in-the-box.  Not content with that act of personal destruction, Anthony also causes snow to fall, destroying crops and ensuring the town’s demise.

Even as their destruction stares them in the face, the town’s residents still try to placate the monster in their midst, with the last scripted words spoken being “…but it’s a real good thing you did. A real good thing. And tomorrow….tomorrow’s gonna be a… real good day!”

Rod Serling, of course, provides the perfect coda to Anthony’s reign of terror (emphasis mine):

‘No comment here, no comment at all. We only wanted to introduce you to one of our very special citizens, little Anthony Fremont, age 6, who lives in a village called Peaksville in a place that used to be Ohio. And if by some strange chance you should run across him, you had best think only good thoughts. Anything less than that is handled at your own risk, because if you do meet Anthony you can be sure of one thing: you have entered the Twilight Zone.

The show’s first audience was composed in part of the World War II generation, and entirely of the Cold War generation.  These were people who had seen first hand totalitarian regimes that demanded their citizens’ total obedience.

To enforce that obedience, the spy network for each of these totalitarian governments measured people’s allegiance by closely examining their behavior.  The wrong word, a mis-timed blink or twitch, an unfortunate handshake in the street, and ordinary people would suddenly find themselves in the gulag or the gas chamber.  The regimes surely regretted that they lacked Anthony’s mind reading skills, but with a frightened population, spies in every family, and draconian punishments for even the slightest deviation from total devotion, they were surprisingly effective at creating a Stepford citizenry that, even as the world crumbled, repeated that every government initiative was “a real good thing.”

For decades, Americans assumed that “it can’t happen here.”  American strength and American freedom would inevitably overwhelm any efforts to turn the thought police lose on the American public.  But of course, it has happened here, although not with the bloodshed and torture that characterizes most totalitarian regimes.  Instead, through the medium of political correctness, which preys on Americans’ innate desire to be a good and decent people, we are constantly pushed into “correct” modes of thought.  Deviate from that line of thinking and you will find yourself publicly pilloried as an “-ist” (e.g., racist or sexist), or a “phobe” (e.g., Islamophobe), appellations that have become the ultimate insult that can be visited upon any good American.

Have you given any hint that you think unfettered illegal immigration is deleterious to America’s economy and the security of her citizens?  You’re a racist.

Have you muttered that it’s wrong to destroy collegiate men’s sports programs so that there is numerical parity with women’s sports programs, even though the latter are historically less likely to desire such programs?  You’re a sexist pig.

Have you mentioned that it’s more than coincidence that the common denominator in the vast majority of terrorism attacks around the world is the perpetrator’s devotion to Islam?  You’re a racist Islamophobe.

Did you perhaps contribute a few dollars to the campaign to maintain traditional marriage in America?  You’re a homophobe.

Have you criticized Barack Obama’s policies?  You’re a racist.

Have you criticized Michelle Obama’s arms?  You’re a racist and a sexist.

And so it goes, from matters major to minor:  any deviation from the politically correct norm is subject to withering, soul-destroying insults.  It’s not a physical gulag, but an emotional one.

What’s sad is that, as with Al Gore’s famous boiling frog, we’ve slowly acclimated to this creeping deprivation of the quintessentially American liberty of freedom of speech.  We’ve therefore willingly tried to conform our thoughts to the “right” way of thinking, so that it’s always a “real good day” in America — at least as “good” is defined by the race-obsessed, sex-obsessed, statists among us.

Bad as all this is, I think the worst is yet to come.  Right now, average Americans are censoring their speech, but they’re still thinking the thoughts.  Polls and votes show that people don’t like illegal (as opposed to legal) immigration; that they recognize that Islam is a breeding ground for terrorism (although not all Muslims are terrorists); that traditional marriage is an institution that should be carefully considered before being thoughtlessly overthrown; and that Barack Obama’s policies are disastrous, at home and abroad.  We’re cowed, but our brains our still active.

The New York City bombing attempt may change all that.  Although initial reports were conflicting a couple of things are now perfectly clear about that bombing attempt:  (1) the target was Viacom and (2) the perpetrator was a Muslim (Shahzad Faisal, according to a recent bip on my iPhone).

Viacom, of course, is the parent company of Comedy Central — and Comedy Central is the company that thought better of airing a South Park episode that poked fun at the Islamic obsession, not just with observing its own blackout of Mohamed’s image, but with forcing everyone else in the world to abide by that same religious mandate.  (As an aside, this obsession, while it has a long history in Islam, has never been universally observed.  There are significant numbers of Islam representations of Mohamed.  The current screaming mania is as much a manifestation of jihad as it is of a genuine religious impulse amongst the Islamists.)

So what we have here is a company that self-censored, but still ended up on the receiving end of a bomb.  Viacom’s dhimmi behavior was inadequate to placate the Islamic radicals.  Unlike past totalitarian regimes, which accepted conforming behavior as adequate to deflect the thought police, the new Islamic regime wants to ensure that we don’t even have the thoughts anymore.  Just like little Anthony, Islamists want to make sure that, when it comes to their faith and their prophet, we “had best think only good thoughts.” Entertaining the possibility of any other ideas relative to Islam is likely to be deadly.

In another era, of course, an era that hasn’t been bleached of strength by the PC police, by identity politics, and by increasing statism (and, therefore, decreasing individualism), Americans would have given the Islamists the one-fingered salute they deserve.  Historically, when America, with its size, strength and freedoms, stood up to tyranny, America won.  But we no longer can boast those virtues.

Sure we’re big, but we’re not a strong melting pot.  Instead, we’re a fractious “salad bowl” (the politically correct metaphor for an identity riven nation).

Yes, we’re strong, but we’re weakening all the time, as we give away our energy independence, our economic power, and our weapons.

And lastly, we’re increasingly less free as we willingly hand our lives and our thoughts over to the statists.  As the good people of New Orleans demonstrated in Hurricane Katrina’s wake, when you consign yourself entirely to government care, your ability to care for yourself (and the courage such care requires) rapidly atrophies.

Put simply:  we don’t have the moral or physical strength any more, as a citizenry, to take a stand against threats to our fundamental freedoms.  TV shows will be ever more bland and careful.  Newspapers, echoing the BBC, may well start proactively appending “pbuh” to stories the reference Mohamed.  And ordinary citizens, increasingly cowed by accusations of “isms” (e.g., racism) and phobias (e.g., Islamophobia), will not only keep their mouths shut, but will also keep their thoughts pure.

Welcome to the new American Twilight Zone.

The problem with identity politics is that humans defy simple classifications

I wrote yesterday about the softball players who were accused of being “not gay enough.”  I appreciate that the league in question has its rules — you must be gay — but the story still got me thinking about what constitutes being gay.  From there, of course, I started thinking about identity politics.  Let me walk you through my train of thought.

The day before this news story broke, a woman with whom I was speaking told me she believes her grandson is gay.  He’s only eight but, according to her, his movements are effeminate.  I know what she means.  I’ve known children like that.  I stumped her with a question, though:  “What if, when he grows up, he still likes girls?  Does that mean he’s gay because of his decidedly effeminate body language or straight because he wants to sleep with women?”  She was stumped.  Her labeling didn’t extent that far.

Humans like labels.  Without our innate ability to organize and categorize, because of the overwhelming amount of data we receive from the world around us, we would be dysfunctional.  You can imagine some distant hunter/gatherer ancestor standing paralyzed before a brown thing, unable to classify it as plant or animal, safe or dangerous, edible or poisonous.  That perplexed hunter/gatherer did not survive to pass down his genes.  The one who was able to classify the object correctly as a bush waving in the wind, a sleeping bear, or the entrance to a cave was the one who was able to be fruitful and multiply.  We are that well-organized person’s descendants.

Having an inherent ability, however, doesn’t mean that we have to let that ability control.  We are all capable of killing but, if we’re moral, we don’t unless we have to.  We’re hardwired for sex, but the vast majority of us can control our libidos.  We tamp down on our fight and flight instincts, too, insofar as we’ve figured out that a stressful meeting with the boss isn’t license to hit him or run away.

In the same way, I do believe we can control the rampant categorization that constitutes identity politics.  People are not labels.  They are the giant sum of their parts, their interests, and their values.  I have good friends who are gay conservatives, and I even know some Jewish conservatives.  I know Asians who are slackers.  These people are who they are, not what they are.

For a generation that was raised to shake off all the old stereotypes (and I still came into the world on the tail-end of the “Poles are stupid,” “Jews are greedy,” “Scots are frugal,” “Irish are shiftless,” “Asians are sneaky” tropes that were endemic in American society for so many decades), we seem awfully anxious to embrace stereotypes all over again.  It’s just that we’re embracing entirely new stereotypes that still manage to lock people into straight jackets just as tightly as the old ones did.

I’ll close this post with a story — a true story — just to remind us that humans, in their beautiful variety, regularly deny even their own attempts to lock themselves into neatly labeled boxes.

One of my friends was estranged from his father.  After many years, he made an effort to visit Dad, who was still living in the same old apartment.  What was new was the label over the buzzer.  Instead of saying “John Doe,” it read “Jane Doe.”  That was peculiar.  What was even more peculiar was the fact that Dad answered the door decked out in his deceased wife’s old clothes.  It turned out that Dad had spent his entire married (and parenting) life hiding the fact that he was a transvestite.  With his wife gone, he had come to terms with that fact, as well as with the fact that he was a woman trapped in a man’s body.  He was about to begin the long road of hormonal treatments for a sex change operation.  My friend, who is an open-minded man, was glad that his father was finally going to find some peace, and they had a friendly parting.

The long estrangement, though, made it so that it was some time before my friend again visited his father.  To his surprise, the label over the buzzer now read “John Doe.”  And even more surprising was the fact that his Dad answered the door attired in ordinary guy wear — jeans and a t-shirt.  You see, Dad had had another epiphany.  He was not a woman trapped in a man’s body; he was a lesbian trapped in a man’s body.  He’d also figured out that he had infinitely more success romancing the women he craved when he looked like man, than he did when he looked like a woman.

Clearly, John/Jane Doe was a person who suffered profoundly from a mind-body disconnect.  I’m grateful that he lives in a society that allows him (her?) to try to find some happiness.  It can’t be easy living that way.

Aside from it’s comedy-tragedy elements, though, this story reminds us that, when it comes to trying to slot human behavior into neat little boxes, it just can’t be done.  And to try to create vast social policies based upon those impossible and unreasonable boxes is an even sillier idea. That’s the beauty of a libertarian/capitalist system.  Subject to some government policing against fraud and abuse, and within the framework of a government fulfilling its basic health, safety, transportation, etc., functions, people are free, whether this means they’re free to live in City A as opposed to City B, to be a plumber or a professor, or to figure out whether someone else is trying to share their body with them.

Identity politics once again runs amok, this time with athletes who aren’t “gay enough”

In my previous post, I talked about the way in which the Left desperately tries to cubby-hole people, events and ideas, without any real understanding of what lies beneath those labels.  Seconds after I finished writing that post, I read this newspaper article, which sounds like a parody, but isn’t:

All Steven Apilado, LaRon Charles and Jon Russ wanted to do was to win the championship game at the Gay Softball World Series for their amateur San Francisco team.

Instead, they were marched one by one into a conference room at the tournament in suburban Seattle and asked about their “private sexual attractions and desires,” and their team was stripped of its second-place finish after the men were determined to be “non-gay,” they said in a lawsuit accusing a national gay sports organization of discrimination.

The suit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Seattle, pits the National Center for Lesbian Rights, a San Francisco group backing the men, against the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance, which prides itself on barring discrimination based on sexual orientation.

At issue is whether the gay sports alliance violated Washington state’s public accommodations laws by enforcing a rule limiting to two the number of heterosexuals who can play on a team.

Apilado, Charles and Russ were members of D2, a team that was part of the San Francisco Gay Softball League. The squad made it to the championship game at the August 2008 tournament in Kent, Wash.

But another team, the Atlanta Mudcats, which had lost to D2 in a semifinal game, complained that the San Francisco team had too many straights.

Read the rest here.  This is the kind of article that has you giggling madly at the insanity of it all, even though the saner part of your brain is wondering how our society got to the point where people are being denied athletic opportunities because they not “gay enough.”

Identity politics is the antithesis of the individualism that was always the bedrock of the American identity.  I am the sum of my many, many parts, large numbers of which are, and should be, invisible to the public eye.  I refuse to have one of those parts be held as so overwhelmingly important that society forces me into certain belief systems and behaviors antithetical to the whole me.

Affirmative action and PC ideology smite the military

I remain absolutely convinced that Obama, the boy genius of the left, is a product of affirmative action who is hiding his academic record because it is dismal.  If it weren’t dismal, he’d be showing it off.  Frankly, though, after thirty years of affirmative action, we expected nothing more from our academic institutions.  That’s a shame, too, because it means that, for most Americans, a Harvard degree in the hands of a black or hispanic person is written off as a gift from a beneficent liberal bureaucracy, while a Harvard degree in the hands of a white or asian person means that person is damn smart.   The presumption is that a minority couldn’t have made it on his (or her) own.  Affirmative action, rather than removing hurdles, created an insuperable one, which is the virtually immovable assumption that all minorities are below average, and obtained their degrees with help.

For a long time, it seemed as if the military was the last bastion of quality in America:  a place in which race, color, creed, religion or place of origin were irrelevant.  What mattered in the military, we were told, was ability and commitment.  It was the most successfully integrated institution in America because it was color blind.  Turns out that is a lie.

The whole Hasan debacle revealed the PC horror of the military to a shocked America.  Here was a ticking jihadist time bomb within the heart of our military, and no one did anything for fear of offending PC sensibilities.  Then, in the wake of his massacre, the powers that be in the Obama administration and the military itself rushed out speeches, not to assure Americans that they were keeping us safe from jihadists, but to ensure jihadists that they were going to be kept safe from us.

That is a big, bloody story, but the PC corruption of a formerly egalitarian institution turns out to exist at all levels in the military.  CDR Salamander let the cat out of the bag when he blogged about the way in which the Navy Color Guard put together for the World Series was jiggered and rejiggered so that it would look “good” (read, victim identity appropriate) for television.  I was under the impression that Color Guard status was an assigned position based upon skills.  It turns out, however, that what matters is that the Guard’s appearance appeals to identity politic sensibilities.  I urge you to read Phibian’s original post (linked above), as well as his follow-up to that post.

Academic corruption is bad.  It means that, in the marketplace, I’m going to place substantially less value on a black or hispanic person, than I will on a white person.  If I were lawyer shopping, I’d pick the white Baylor grad over the black Harvard grad.  At least with the former, I actually know what product I’m buying.  With the military, though, because this is all about chain of command without any market freedom, the consequences are much worse than the devaluation of any specific diploma.  Instead, troops in the military stand to die (as they did in Fort Hood), and we Americans stand to lose our freedoms as our military becomes ever less efficient and increasingly in thrall to the destructive forces of Political Correctness.

I’d like to add here that I am not racist, in that I do not believe that any specific race is inherently better or worse than any other race.  Instead, I’m a smart shopper.  If I know that a factory is cheating to turn out a product, I won’t buy from that factor.  And it’s a damn shame that it’s minorities in America who are the ones being cheated.

Identity politics devolves into a joke

Here’s a bad, almost cruel, joke, but nevertheless a pointed and important one:

Two men met on the street.  One looked very angry.

“What’s the problem?” asked the first man of his friend.

“I’m r-r-really a-a-ngry,” he stuttered.  “I app-ap-applied for a j-j-job as an an-an-announcer at the-the-the r-r-r-radio s-s-station and they t-t-turned me-me-me d-d-d-own.”

This statement was followed by a long pause, after which the stutter reached his own conclusions about what had happened:

“D-d-d-damned an-an-antisemites!”

With this joke in mind, please read Dennis Prager’s column today.  He talks about the racial identity politics that led to Biden’s presence at the WH beerfest.  Contrary to what you and I might have thought (I thought that the ever congenial Joe wasn’t going to be left out of a party), his presence there was a deliberate effort to ensure that the white guy (Crowley) was not unbalanced photographically by two black guys.  Joe was a prop.  (As an aside, that’s probably Joe’s best role.)

From there, Prager riffs into the liberal obsession with prejudice that it believes permeates every aspect of American.  He then relates an anecdote he tells black callers who assure him that chronic racism exists, yet are unable to provide examples of its appearance in their own lives.  Prager’s true story uncannily tracks my 50 year old joke:

Years ago driving home from synagogue, both my sons and I were wearing yarmulkes, or skull caps. A convertible car filled with young boys sped past me and yelled into the car “F— you” and called my wife a “b—ch.”

I then said to my family, “I have finally experienced anti-Semitism in America.”

I decided to follow the car and, to my shock, they screamed the same obscenities at other cars, none of whose occupants were discernibly Jewish.

It turned out that the event was not what I was certain, and had every reason to believe, was an example of anti-Semitism, but just an example of young thugs acting thuggish.

So here’s the teachable moment: Harvard historian Louis Gates talked back to a police officer because he was treated as a suspect when he felt he should not be, given his fame as a Harvard professor. The professor was certain that the only possible explanation for such treatment was that he, Gates, was a black and the officer just another racist white policeman. The professor was wrong. The president was wrong. The press is wrong. Liberals are wrong. Even most blacks are wrong.

Willie Brown on the Gates kerfuffle

Willie Brown is one of the smartest politicians out there.  He’s been in the business since the 1960s and, not coincidentally, has broken a whole lot of color barriers.  While he is a die-hard Democrat, he’s also nobody’s fool.  Here’s his take on the Gates kerfuffle.

America got a good look at the Chicago side of Barack Obama last week, and boy did it set off fireworks.

I don’t want to second-guess Obama, and Lord knows I’m not one to criticize someone for shooting from the lip. But I think saying that the white cop in Cambridge, Mass., who arrested Harvard black studies scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. “acted stupidly” was a bit over the top.

Normally, the president is far more diplomatic than that. But in this case, Obama was outraged that Gates was treated as a suspected criminal at his own home, and diplomacy went right out the window.

I know Skip Gates well. He’s a small person physically, less than 150 pounds wet, but he is very big when it comes to militancy.

For many years, Gates has been one of the strongest academic voices on the black experience in this country. But, like many academics, Skip may not have had a lot of personal experience when it comes to dealing with cops.

Now he can write about the subject forever, having met up with them full force in his own living room.

I have no doubt that he used his intellect to humiliate the hell out of that cop.

The only thing that surprised me about the incident was that he didn’t have a video camera going.

I agree completely with the way in which Brown characterizes Gates’ response as a combination of ingrained identity politics militancy and academic arrogance. The same is true, of course, of Obama’s response, although Brown is too tactful (deferential?) to say so.

The easy attack on the 32 words

You can’t read a blog, attend a press conference, read a paper, or even think about Sotomayor without those 32 words popping into your head:

“I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”

Because the remark makes statements about people based on their race and sex, many have reached the obvious conclusion that Sotomayor was being racist and sexist.  Democratic partisans have rushed to her defense by contending that only racists and sexists would find a remark defining people by race and attribute to be, in fact, racist and sexist.  (Clearly, these people have been studying at the Humpty Dumpty school of English:  `When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’)

But isn’t there a much more obvious, less racially and sexually charged way to read that language, and one that reflects equally poorly on Sotomayor?  Let’s look at the context of her 32 words, as Jake Tapper did:

The larger context of the sentence is Sotomayor addressing former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s famous quote that “a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases.”

“I am also not so sure that I agree with the statement,” Sotomayor says. “First, as Professor Martha Minnow has noted, there can never be a universal definition of wise. Second, I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”

“Let us not forget that wise men like Oliver Wendell Holmes and Justice Cardozo voted on cases which upheld both sex and race discrimination in our society,” she said. “Until 1972, no Supreme Court case ever upheld the claim of a woman in a gender discrimination case. I, like Professor Carter, believe that we should not be so myopic as to believe that others of different experiences or backgrounds are incapable of understanding the values and needs of people from a different group. Many are so capable. As Judge Cedarbaum pointed out to me, nine white men on the Supreme Court in the past have done so on many occasions and on many issues including Brown.”

“However, to understand takes time and effort, something that not all people are willing to give,” she continued. “For others, their experiences limit their ability to understand the experiences of others. Other simply do not care. Hence, one must accept the proposition that a difference there will be by the presence of women and people of color on the bench. Personal experiences affect the facts that judges choose to see. My hope is that I will take the good from my experiences and extrapolate them further into areas with which I am unfamiliar. I simply do not know exactly what that difference will be in my judging. But I accept there will be some based on my gender and my Latina heritage.”

She went on to say that “each day on the bench I learn something new about the judicial process and about being a professional Latina woman in a world that sometimes looks at me with suspicion. I am reminded each day that I render decisions that affect people concretely and that I owe them constant and complete vigilance in checking my assumptions, presumptions and perspectives and ensuring that to the extent that my limited abilities and capabilities permit me, that I reevaluate them and change as circumstances and cases before me requires. I can and do aspire to be greater than the sum total of my experiences but I accept my limitations. I willingly accept that we who judge must not deny the differences resulting from experience and heritage but attempt, as the Supreme Court suggests, continuously to judge when those opinions, sympathies and prejudices are appropriate.”

As you can see, the starting point for this discussion was O’Connor’s race and sex blind statement that “a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases.”  (One could argue that this is ageist but, considering that we all hope to attain some degree of age, it’s hard to put a lot of weight behind that argument.)

Sotomayor’s approach to challenging this argument was to wander a little bit through selective judicial  history, and then to launch into discussion about her own race and sex, and her own life and experiences.  Her reference to that incredibly wise Latina woman must be seen in that context.  I’m therefore willing to bet that Sotomayor had not a thought in her head for the Latina saleswoman working in Macys, scrubbing someone’s floors, or doing duty as middle level management in a major American corporation.  This is all about Sotomayor.  In her estimation, she is that wise Latina woman.

In other words, Sotomayor has stumbled across the ultimate in identity politics:  she’s put herself into a victim class of ONE — herself.

As for me, the thought of having someone so self-centered sit in judgment on my case, or on legal issues that will affect me, is terrifying — almost more terrifying than if she was the racist and sexist her detractors claim her to be.

Do we dare vote against the first Hispanic justice? *UPDATE*

I keep seeing headlines all over the place to the effect that Republican Senators will be afraid to vote against the first proposed Hispanic justice.  This may certainly be true for Senators, who are a weaselly, unprincipled bunch, I suspect, though, that for many voters Obama himself is causing the bloom to depart the identity politics rose.

I believe that many voters rushed to the polls to vote for Obama because they were caught up in the rapture of a historic first:  “The first black President.”  These moments are exciting.  Heck, I desperately wanted Michael Phelps to be the first person to get 10 gold medals in one Olympics.  I’d never heard of Phelps a few months before and suddenly, there I was, screaming hysterically in front of my TV.

In the political arena, the November rapture is now over, and the first black President is proving to be something of a problem.  In national security ways, he’s following the path of the last white president (and, for that, I am grateful).  In other ways, he’s proving to be indecisive, ineffectual, and suspiciously corrupt.  In other words, not withstanding his exciting skin color, he’s just your usual unprepared, inexperienced, Leftist, Chicago-style political hack.

Obama, therefore, is an object lesson in the superficiality of identity politics.  The fact that someone is the right color for the job doesn’t mean that he’s the right person for the job.  Voters — including Hispanic voters who trend conservative on social issues — may finally be willing to look at the candidate and not the color.

UPDATEThe Anchoress has a good post on the reality of how that race/identity card works.

The inevitable result of identity politics

Identity politics turns people into one dimensional characters, who must act out a set script.  If you’re black or Hispanic, you must be a Democrat, even if you oppose abortion, take a jaundiced view of gay marriage, and want school choice.  If you’re a woman, you must support equal pay for comparable work, even if that will destroy the economy and dramatically lessen the total number of jobs available.  If you’re a white male, you must be the epitome of all things regressive and evil.  Oh, and if you’re gay, you cannot be a principled conservative and must, instead, be humiliated and destroyed:

California GOP Rep. David Dreier and a number of other politicians are the unwilling stars of a controversial new documentary with an explosive premise – it’s time to blow open the closet door on prominent politicians who have hidden their homosexuality while actively working against gay causes.

The film “Outrage,” which opens today at the Embarcadero Center Cinema in San Francisco, presents interviews and documentation charging that a number of prominent legislators – including Dreier, the U.S. representative from San Dimas (Los Angeles County), GOPFlorida Gov. Charlie Crist and former Democratic New York Mayor Ed Koch – have remained closeted while publicly opposing legislation on issues such as same-sex marriage, HIV/AIDS funding, and gays in the military.

Liberals frequently confuse their compulsive need to typecast with hypocrisy.  Let me set the record straight.  Hypocrisy means to advocate one course of conduct or belief for others (usually with a sacrifice to them), while espousing another for yourself (usually to your benefit).

Thus, it’s hypocrisy when Al Gore goes around demanding that we all drive in cars made out of tissue paper, and live in houses that are freezing cold in winter and furnace hot in summer, all the time driving himself in a safe and comfortable SUV, and living in a series of energy-hog mansions.  It’s hypocrisy when Michael Moore demands that we all divest from Halliburton, but invests in it himself.  It’s out and out lying when Bill Clinton says “I did not have sex with that woman” or John Edwards assures the American people he never had an affair.

It is neither hypocrisy or lying, however, when gay men and women have a principled opposition to same-sex marriage, HIV/AIDS funding or gays in the military.  These same gay people, after all, are not being accused of sneaking off to Holland to get married, while denying those rights to American gays; of funneling money to those of their friends ill with HIV/AIDS while denying it to others; or whatever would be hypocritical behavior with regard to gays in the military.

Without any hypocrisy, it is perfectly possible to be gay, but believe that marriage is a specific institution unique to men and women.  You can hold to that position and still colorably demand full civil rights for gay unions that are then recognized nationwide.  Likewise, without hypocrisy, you can be gay, but recognize that cancer or heart disease or some other disease deserves equal access, not just to funding, but to fund raising.  And of course, you can be gay and believe that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is a workable compromise that allows gays to serve in the military without offending the heterosexual sensibilities that currently prevail in “this man’s Army” — all without being a hypocrite who voices one view and acts upon another.

The film “Outrage,” however, typecasts gays, and denies them the right to examine issues through a lens other than their own sexuality.  I say this without knowing or caring whether the men and women named in the movie are actually gay.  What I care about, deeply, is the pressure the gay community imposes upon its members to abjure independent thought, and to march lockstep through a series of complicated and contentious issues.

For a community that, a mere 40 years ago, broke free of the shackles imposed against it, it’s a real tragedy that it now insists upon imposing similar shackles upon itself.