Sol Giggleweed tries to weigh in on Jon Stewart’s pro-Israel bona fides — and fails spectacularly

Palestinians-Sieg-Heil--620x311Two weeks ago, I introduced you to Sol Giggleweed, a representative of DemProg passion in politics and society. I chanced to meet up with Sol today — or, more accurately, with a real human being whose views march in lockstep with Sol’s, but who doesn’t wish to have his name made public.  He’ll therefore be Sol Giggleweed in perpetuity at this blog. The topic of our very real conversation this morning was Jon Stewart and Hamas.

The conversation Sol and I had was a continuation of an earlier Jon Stewart-inspired discussion we had. It all began last week, when Jon Stewart decided to weigh in on the Israel=Hamas conflict. Stewart’s shtick was the usual “disproportionate force” argument that comes from the anti-Israel crowd: He essentially said that Israel’s warnings to civilians in advance of an attack were a fraud, since the Gazans had nowhere to run in their crowded rabbit warren of a city. Poor Gazans.

I explained a few things to Sol:   (a) Hamas routinely instructs civilians to stay in place in order to create more propaganda moments, which is the major weapon in Hamas’s arsenal; (b) Israel’s citizens had survived more than a thousand rockets in the past two weeks because Israel specifically created an infrastructure to protect them, something Hamas purposely did not do; and (c) contrary to Stewart’s implication about a lack of shelters, Gaza is riddled with perfectly good tunnels that are barred to civilians because the tunnels are for the gun-carriers, not the future telegenic dead bodies.

Sol was unimpressed.  When all was said and done, Sol’s primary argument boiled down to this: Jon Stewart is brilliant, so I believe him, not you, and certainly not the mountains of IDF evidence (videos, photographs, military images, Hamas’s own words, etc.) to the contrary.  There’s got to be some equivalency and nuance there.

I’d forgotten about that conversation, but today Sol contacted me, chortling gleefully about the fact that Jon Stewart, “showed them.”

I not unreasonably inquired, “Jon Stewart showed what to whom?”

“He showed the conservatives like you, the ones that think the IDF is the only voice to listen to. He showed them that they’re wrong.”

Sol then told me to check out this video footage, only the first couple of minutes of which are relevant:

“See,” said Sol. “See, Jon Stewart knows what you guys are saying. He’s aware of you.”

“Yeah, Sol, I see. But what’s your argument?”

“Jon Stewart,” he replied, “is showing that there’s nuance there. Because both sides are mad at him, he’s subtly telling the audience that it’s not clear-cut. Both sides have valid arguments.”

“So you’re saying that there’s an equivalence between Israel, the only free, democratic, pluralist society in the Middle East, and Hamas, an anti-Semitic, misogynistic, homophobic, anti-American, anti-Christian entity that’s so bad even Egypt hates it?  And that this equivalence exists because both sides are willing to argue their cause against anyone who isn’t clearly siding with them?”

“No, I’m not saying that at all. After all, I emailed you that Wall Street Journal article about Hamas tactics. But there are other views than just the one the IDF says. You’re so judgmental and narrow-minded that you won’t listen to anything at all. If it doesn’t come from your right-wing blogosphere, you just dismiss it.  Jon Stewart listens to everything and he’s subtle, not dogmatic.”

Being a closed-minded right-wing wacko, I felt free to ignore Sol’s premise about my closed-mindedness.

“Sol, in many cases, there are nuances and sides. But in some cases, there’s just pure evil and you are complicit with evil if you do not reject them entirely. For example, would you argue that, in the fight between the Allies and the Nazis, there was nuance?”

Sol bridled. “Don’t be stupid. Hamas isn’t the Nazis.”

“Okay, tell me one thing that makes Hamas different from the Nazis.”

“Are you kidding?” Sol smirked. “You want me to compare Hamas to the Nazis?”

“I’m not kidding,” I answered. “I want you to tell me how Hamas is different from the Nazis.”

“Really, you want me to tell you how Hamas is different from the Nazis?”

“Yes, that’s what I’m asking you to do. And I’ve got to take something off the stove top, so you can think about it while I’m doing that. I’ll be back in five minutes.”

Five minutes later, I announced, “I’m back. Now you can tell me what’s different between Hamas and the Nazis.”

“This is stupid. You can write pages about things that are different between Hamas and the Nazis,” a now very ruffled Sol told me.

“I’m not asking for pages. Just tell me one thing.”

“Really? Really! You really want me to tell you one thing that’s different between Hamas and the Nazis?”

“Yeah. And let me clarify. It can’t be something like ‘The Nazis were Germans and Hamas is Arab.’ Or ‘Hamas is Muslim and the Nazis weren’t.’ Or ‘Hamas isn’t engaged in a world war’ (although it would certainly like to be). You have to tell me about one thing that differs in the basic values between those two organizations.”

“That’s easy,” Sol finally replied. “Hamas doesn’t have concentration camps and it didn’t start a world war.”

“Not tactics,” Sol, I sighed. “I was talking about values. You know, principles, like anti-Semitism or homophobia or genocidal desires or the lust for world domination. Things like that.”

Sol snapped, “This conversation is stupid.  Jon Stewart is brilliant and you’re just being dogmatic.” And then he hung up on me.

It was only after our little talk had ended that I realized that there was one difference between Hamas and the Nazis, and that it didn’t reflect well on Hamas: the Nazis revered their women.

Let me say again what I tried to impress upon Sol Giggleweed, a smart man who is so in thrall to moral relativism that he has lost his moral compass: While there are many disputes in which both sides are roughly equal, not necessarily on the battlefield, but at the ideological level (e.g., the equally evil sides in Syria), there are some circumstances in which one side is irredeemably and completely evil, while the other is not. In that battle, we should support the less evil side, even if it is only marginally less evil.

Thankfully, that’s not the case with Israel.  That is, we don’t have to choose between evil and somewhat less evil.  Israel, unlike all other nations in history, is struggling to fight an existential war with a moral standard so exquisite it runs the risk of being self-defeating.

It’s easy to support Israel.  All people of true good will should recognize that, in the fight between, on the one hand, an entity that has less going for it even than the Nazis and, on the other hand, a nation that is incomparable in the care it brings to protecting non-combatants (indeed, it cares much more than the U.S. and Barack “I choose who dies” Obama), there is no room for nuance or relativism. Israel wins hands down, and anyone who takes a contrary position is a moron and a moral midget.

John Oliver manages to pack all the Left’s stupid Hobby Lobby arguments into one “comedy” shtick

HobbyLobbyStowOhioBecause my husband is an ardent Jon Stewart fan, he’s also a John Oliver fan and instantly started watching Oliver’s new solo HBO show, Last Week Tonight.  Moreover, because John Oliver appears to be slightly less doctrinaire than Stewart (which means that NPR ludicrously tries to cast him as a centrist), not to mention obviously more intelligent, I occasionally watch too in order to get the view from the Left.

Sometimes, Oliver manages to get it right, as happened last night when he pointed out how ridiculous it is for Obama to announce that the U.S. will invest $500 million in Syria’s “carefully vetted moderate militias.”  Oliver also got deservedly positive press from across the political spectrum for his rant against the FCC’s proposed net neutrality rules.

Most of the time, though, Oliver’s just a garden variety DemProg with a nice British accent.  His most recent show was no exception.  For example, Oliver went on a lengthy attack against Uganda’s anti-gay laws.  I hold no brief for anti-gay laws, but I find the DemProgs’ recent obsession with them disgustingly hypocritical.

For decades, sharia-governed countries such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, etc., have had the harshest anti-gay laws in the world.  In the Palestinian territories, while the laws aren’t officially on the books, they’re routinely carried out, with the result that gay Palestinians are desperate to get to Israel, where they’ll safe.  Why so desperate?  Because in the Muslim world, the punishment for homosexuality is death and Muslim governments and militias aggressively execute those sentences.

Despite the egregious, and well-publicized, human rights offenses against gays in the Muslim world, DemProgs have been absolutely silent.  They may love gays, but not enough to challenge Islam over the issue.  I’ve searched, but cannot find any evidence that either Jon Stewart or John Oliver ever addressed homicidal Islamic homophobia on Jon Stewart’s show.  Please correct me if I’m wrong.

What this means, of course, is that DemProgs will get exercised about homophobia only when it’s safe to do so.  Neither Russians nor Ugandans are going to hunt DemProgs down and decapitate them as the end to any argument.  Moreover, the attack on Ugandan homophobia gives DemProgs a nice double whammy, because it allows them to make blanket condemnations of Christianity while they’re at it — again, knowing that the attacked Christians will pray for their souls, rather than behead them.

Uganda reflects the DemProgs’ usual moral cowardice and hypocrisy.  The attack on the Hobby Lobby decision is worse, because it’s profoundly intellectually dishonest.  You can watch the video and then I’ll address the two worst logical fallacies packed into just a few minutes of Oliver’s mildly amusing and completely wrong rant (Warning: Not Safe For Work):

Oliver’s preliminary attack is made directly against Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood, a closed corporation owned by Mennonites, that makes parts for kitchen cabinets. Oliver acknowledges that Hobby Lobby is a tightly held family corporation, that the owners are open about the integration between their faith and their business, and that their faith leads them to treat their employees exceptionally well, and to be extremely charitable. Of course, Oliver cannot end on that final note, so he then crudely attacks Hobby Lobby for selling products that customers can put to obscene or dangerous uses.

Oliver then accuses the Conestoga Wood owners of hypocrisy because they don’t want to pay for drugs and procedures that take a human life. He makes the nonsensical argument that their products can be used to kill people, so that they should have no standing to argue that the government cannot force to kill.

Both these arguments are red herrings, meant to district the audience from the intellectual failing in his core argument.  That argument, which flows from his direct attacks on Hobby Lobby and Conestoga sounds so reasonable on its face that many will miss how dishonest it is:  Oliver claims that Hobby Lobby’s and Conestoga’s objections to the Obamacare birth control and abortifacient argument indistinguishable from the usual complaints people make about government expenditures:   “What these companies are arguing is that the sincerity of their beliefs should allow them a line-item veto over federal law. But government is not an a la carte system what you can pick and choose based on your beliefs.”

Having said this, Oliver then shows a short montage of people saying “I don’t want to pay for” such things as “Israel policies,” war, and “Mexican prostitutes.”  The audience laughs uproariously, understanding that Hobby Lobby and Conestoga are just more whining taxpayers, indistinguishable from others who object to paying taxes to fund American policies.

Oliver weaves these topics together so skillfully that someone who isn’t paying attention might miss the fact that there’s a difference between tax dollars being pooled together and spent on a variety of things (and more on that later) and a government mandate ordering people to open their wallets and pay directly to the purveyor of something they find religiously objectionable. The two things are entirely different, with the latter being a direct affront on an individual’s sensibilities. (And, although Oliver would prefer to ignore this fact, closely held corporations are a business structure through which individuals operate.)

As an aside, and one that gives even more weight to Hobby Lobby’s and Conestoga’s objections, one can make a very good argument that most of the federal government’s tax dollar expenditures vastly exceed the Fed’s mandate. The Founder’s understanding was that tax dollars would be used for traditional government operations: defense, transportation, a functioning judicial system, public health, etc. Under this reading, those Americans who object to non-traditional government expenditures are correct. But most certainly those who object to being forced to pay for a product that clashes with core doctrinal sensibilities are correct under both the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (which is the law the Supremes used in deciding the case) and the First Amendment.

 

Jon Stewart excuses Obama’s executive overreach by attacking Republicans in Congress

Jon StewartI am watching a lot of television lately.  A lot.  Even I, a truly prodigious reader, find it hard to read every minute of the time I’m hooked up to my continuous passive motion machine.  When I finally tire of reading, I have limited mobility, especially by nightfall, when my balance on crutches seems to take a dive off the cliff.  This means that, when the rest of the family wants to watch TV in the evening, I’m something of a captive audience.

I’m not complaining.  Instead, I’m explaining why it is that I’ve been watching Jon Stewart’s Daily Show these past few days.  Usually I leave the room when he starts, because I find his mixture of genuine and faux stupidity irritating.  It’s not a witty show, which I would be able to watch even though I disagree with the politics.  It’s a witless show, and dishonest to boot.

Few things highlight these abysmal qualities more than a segment Jon Stewart did about Boehner’s announcement that Republicans would not go forward with any immigration reform because they couldn’t trust Obama to enforce it.  For anyone paying attention to the Constitution and the facts on the ground Republican fears are reasonable.  Obama, despite his job description as chief executive officer, tasked with enforcing the laws that Congress passes, has a history of refusing to enforce laws he doesn’t like, especially when it comes to immigration.

More recently, with Obamacare, despite the Lefts’ strident screams in October that Obamacare is the “law of the land” and cannot ever be touched — even by the Congress that passed it — Obama has changed the law almost 30 times.  Indeed, he’s changed the law so often, he’s even riled his supporters.  Boehner may also find it a little difficult to trust Obama since Obama lied knowingly, intentionally, and repeatedly in connection with Obamacare’s passage and implementation.  It was the biggest fraud ever committed by a government official against the American people.

So how does Stewart defend Obama’s lawless actions?  He doesn’t bother to defend Obama.  Instead, he attacks Republicans as hypocrites because they have also tried to change the law.  In other words, how dare Republicans complain about Obama’s changes to Obamacare when they also wanted to change it?

Is it really possible that Stewart is so stupid that he believes that Congress should not change, or attempt to change, a law if the president is not allowed to do so himself?  I find it hard to believe that Stewart is quite that dumb.  And if he’s smart, he and his team are writing shticks deliberately intended to mislead an audience that Stewart presumably knows is dumb enough not to understand that, while the president is constitutionally barred from unilaterally changing or refusing to enforce laws, Congress’s sole function is to pass, edit, and revoke laws.

Anyway, see for yourself the type of fraud Stewart commits against an audience so ignorant and ideological that it elected Barack Obama, not just once but twice:

Found it on Facebook: Jon Stewart and the problem with modern political discourse *UPDATED*

Matthew Continetti garnered some much deserved praise for his article about the way that sarcasm and insult took over the Democrat party, replacing anything of substance.  It all started with the attacks against Bush:

The criticism of Bush, of Bush Republicans, and of the war took on a specific character. The spokesmen of movement progressivism—Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, Jon Stewart, and Stephen Colbert—spoke in tones of irony, sarcasm, knowing disbelief, glibness, and snark. Liberal bloggers and op-ed writers used the same voice. A television clip of a conservative would be played, a quotation cited, and the liberal would mug for his audience, whether on screen or on the page. Their basic attitude was: Can you believe this? These people don’t even believe in science! The fools! Derisive and smug laughter would ensue. The war was not going well, America seemed in decline, and it was obvious to liberals that conservatives and Republicans were to blame. The punch lines were a signal. If you laughed, you differentiated yourself from the fundamentalist prigs running the country. You established your superiority.

Obama brought precisely that attitude to the third debate, with his sarcastic, condescending, and remarkably ignorant statements about the American Navy:

You mention the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets. We have these things called aircraft carriers and planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines. It’s not a game of battleship where we’re counting ships, it’s ‘What are our capabilities?’

Others have debunked the President’s ignorance about the armed forces he commands, so I won’t do it here. Suffice to say that, while Americans appreciate gentle zingers (“There you go again”), the level of disrespect that Obama showed only makes the Jon Stewart acolytes happy. Others (including thoughtful liberals) wonder what happened to the dignity of the presidency.

The problem with snark is that, although it can be amusing, it displaces serious political discussion.  Nowhere is this more obvious than with the way in which abortion has come roaring to the fore at the same time the President is struggling to keep the Benghazi cover-up under wraps.  Even as thoughtful people who pay attention to national security and facts are grappling with the immensity of al Qaeda’s resurgence and the President’s lies, the snark shows are keeping liberals in a state of perpetual outrage about abortion.

I wrote last week that abortion is a defining issue for many people on the Left.  Some of you (very intelligently and politely, of course) disagreed with me.  Politely (and, I hope, intelligently) I have to disagree right back.  The proof of abortion’s centrality is the way in which the snark Left is using the abortion dog whistle to terrify wavering liberals into voting for Obama, regardless of the fact that Obama has put our national security and our economy at serious risk.  The dog whistle is so powerful to liberal ears that they’d rather focus on a woman’s right to abortion than on the fact that al Qaeda would like to commit post-birth abortions against all Americans.

Part of the reason the dog whistle works is because the Left so assiduously avoids any serious discussion about life’s beginnings.  A case in point is a Jon Stewart shtick that made the rounds amongst my liberal friends, all of whom posted it on Facebook along with myriad warnings that Romney will turn back the female clock to 1950 (see the cartoon, above).  Here’s the Jon Stewart shtick, one that is high on hysteria and word play, but low on analysis:

Ooooh! Mourdock is evil because he thinks rape is a gift from God, and Romney is more evil because he supports Mourdock. Never mind that what Mourdock said is thoughtful and logically consistent, even if one doesn’t agree with the premise. The premise is that life begins at conception. The logical corollary is that, once a life begins, and most certainly when that life is helpless, civilized people owe it protection.  It is not the fetus’s fault that it was conceived out of violence, pain, and shame. Mourdock quite obviously doesn’t lack compassion for the rape victim.  It’s just that he recognizes that the life that the act of violence created is an innocent one.  Now, one may not agree with Mourdock, but it is, if you will, an honorable position that starts with a humanistic premise.

While Jon Stewart fears to delve deeply into what Mourdock is saying, and who simply rolls with superficial conclusions, sarcasm and insult, Andrew Klavan, has a very thoughtful take on Mourdock’s words, and one that allows for disagreement:

Let’s do a mind experiment. Pretend you are yourself. Now pretend your mother comes to you and tells you that, even though she and your father raised you as if you were the product of their union, in fact she was horribly, brutally raped and it was in that rape that you were conceived. Painful as it was for her — and only she and God know how painful it was — she decided to go through with the pregnancy and give you life.

Have you now lost your right to live? Can you be legally exterminated because of the way you were conceived?

My point here is not — not — that there should be laws against abortion in cases of rape. My point is only that the question of abortion is essentially the question of whether a fetus is human. If an unborn child is a human being, the fact that it resides within its mother is no more relevant than the fact of where you reside. If (and a person of good will can honorably make this argument) there is some point at which a fetus is not yet a human being, then it seems to me you can morally abort it because it’s sick or annoying or female or has failed to have blond hair and blue eyes.

Now anyone with a mind and heart can see that there are vexed moral questions here, filled with grey areas. No feminist blather and no ruling from the pope in Rome can turn those areas to black and white. For a rape victim to bring a baby to term would be, to my mind, an act of moral heroism equivalent to running into a burning building to save a child. I’m not convinced that laws should be passed requiring that sort of elevated action from people. And yet I do believe the child conceived in that horror story is a child indeed and that a minister, say, could, in good conscience, counsel the mother to strive toward the heroic, if the minister felt she might be able.

As everyone knows (since the media has covered it more often than Fast and Furious and Benghazi-gate put together), Indiana Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock recently answered a debate question about abortion and rape: “I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God. And, I think, even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.” Mourdock later clarified the comment and apologized for his poor phrasing — as was proper — but come on, we all know what he was trying to say. He doesn’t think rape is intended by God. He thinks a baby conceived by rape remains a baby with a right to life.

Please read the rest here.

Klavan’s approach, of course, is the way we should be discussing a fraught issue such as abortion.  It is the embodiment of Dennis Prager’s wise statement that we should prefer clarity to agreement.  Clarity enables us to have meaningful discussions about vexing issues and, quite possibly, to work towards solutions.  Stewart’s piecemeal, shallow, insulting analysis makes intelligent discussion impossible.  If you disagree with Stewart, you support rapists.  End of story.  (Incidentally, the Jon Stewart segment embodies the state of mind Jonah Goldberg describes in The Tyranny of Cliches: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas.)

I feel very strongly that, in my little corner of the world, there are thousands of people who are yearning for Romney’s strength on national security and the economy, but who are being scared away from voting for him because they buy completely into the imaginary War on Women that the Stewarts, Maddows, Colberts, and Obama’s of this world sell as intelligent political discourse.  This is too bad, not just because it bodes poorly for the elections, but also because it bespeaks an America whose educated class can no longer grapple with serious ideas.

UPDATE:  And right on time, Tom Friedman blows hard on the abortion dog whistle.  Here’s the key paragraph:

But judging from the unscientific — borderline crazy — statements opposing abortion that we’re hearing lately, there is reason to believe that this delicate balance could be threatened if Mitt Romney and Representative Paul Ryan, and their even more extreme allies, get elected. So to those who want to protect a woman’s right to control what happens with her own body, let me offer just one piece of advice: to name something is to own it. If you can name an issue, you can own the issue. And we must stop letting Republicans name themselves “pro-life” and Democrats as “pro-choice.” It is a huge distortion.

Get it?  If Romney and Ryan win, women will be dying in back alleys with coat hangers between their legs.

It’s time to acknowledge that we’re not in the 50s anymore:  Single motherhood, though economically foolish, is culturally cool; birth control is freely, and cheaply, available; and pregnancy is relatively risk free.  There are still credible arguments for abortions, but pretending it’s still the 1950s isn’t one of those arguments.

Found on Facebook

What I always notice when (under protest) I watch Jon Stewart is the fact that his humor is incredibly puerile.  Because actual facts in their proper context are usually inconvenient for him, he latches onto context-free snippets, interlacing them with obscenities and jokes lacking both wit and subtlety.  Jon Stewart would therefore have liked what one of my Progressive friends copied onto her Facebook account from MoveOn.org:

Unaware that the image came from MoveOn.org, which would have tipped me off the that search outcome would be political, I bit.  I thought I’d see something cute like a tiny kitten eating out of a huge food bowl, or a puppy and kitten who are best friends.  Instead, I got this (click on thumbnail to enlarge):


This is a great joke . . . if you’re 8 years old. For anyone with a little more maturity, sophistication, and knowledge — eh. It’s just not that amusing.  I fully expect to see it appear on Jon Stewart’s show in the near future.

Here’s a palette cleanser:

Democrats and Republicans do indeed have very differing views of the future

The day after Mitt Romney gave his speech, Jon Stewart went to town. It was a typical Jon Stewart exercise, replete with out-of-context snippets, juvenile sarcasm, and endlessly bleeped obscenities. One part of it, though, the very first part, stayed with me. If you watch just the first couple of minutes of the video below, you’ll see Stewart make fun of Romney’s statement about the way American people have traditionally looked to the future:

Romney:  “We Americans have always felt a special kinship with the future.”

Stewart:  “Yes, yes, yes.  We Americans, uniquely among Earth’s people, move forward in time.”

Nothing could more perfectly illustrate the differing ways the two parties think about the future.

I understood exactly what Romney meant.  Americans feel a special kinship with the future because they believe that their current actions will affect the future and make it better.  And indeed, the American trajectory has proven this believe to be a truism.  Through vigor and innovation, we’ve achieved measurable improvements in food production, health car, mobility, shelter, clothing, entertainment, communications, etc.  And that’s not just comparing us to American life one hundred or two hundred years ago.  You’ll get the same result — continuous quality-of-life improvement — by comparing us to American life just twenty years ago.  We work hard, we think creatively, and we make life better.

This sense of possibilities has been part of the American mental landscape forever, although it wasn’t until modern media that we were able to capture this optimistic sense of the future.  Nothing was unthinkable or un-doable.

Americans imagined a fashion future:

They saw exciting travel possibilities:

And they envisioned clean, comfortable, labor-saving homes:

That last clip was a Disney clip, and this is no coincidence. More than any figure in popular culture, Walt Disney believed that America was on a continued upward trajectory, one that saw our lives getting better and better. He didn’t see rich plutocrats living high on the hog, while the poor provided the necessary Soylent Green. Instead, Disney believed that, in his own lifetime, Everyman’s and Everywoman’s life had improved in a way never before seen in history, and he further believed that the American personality was such that nothing could stop this trend.

Disney put these core beliefs together in his Carousel of Progress — which for me, as a child, was the absolute best part of Disneyland, even better than the rides. I too believed that things could only get better:

And lest you think everyone looks to the future in this way, think again. The Egyptians were perfectly happy to live a relatively unchanged life for 3,000 years: same clothes, same food, same agricultural economy, same housing, same form of worship. There were, of course, small changes over the centuries, but nothing that resembled the changes America has experienced since 1776.

This holds true for large parts of the third world. People live as their ancestors lived for hundreds of years before. We go and, with our modern 21st century digital cameras take pictures — they are so picturesque — and then we return gratefully to our air-conditioned cars and hotel rooms, our hot running water, our washers and dryers, and our clean, healthy food.  Even Europe can be stultifying for the American traveler.  Because it raises money by looking old, nothing can change.

So yes, Mitt is right that Americans have traditionally believed that the future isn’t just the day after tomorrow, and then the day after that, ad infinitum. Instead, to Americans, the future is a real place, one that builds on the past, but that offers infinitely more.

The Democrats also have a vision of the future, but it’s not a greater future, it’s a lesser future. On the one hand, there is the coming Apocalypse, one that will see half of the earth under water and the other half a parched, Sahara-like desert. Billions of the world’s citizens will crowd this desert, choked by filthy air from factories and cigarettes, and desperately trying to force genetically modified Frankenstein-plants to grow in the barren land. That, they believe, is the American trajectory.

The other hand offers the only way to stop this Apocalypse:  Americans must turn their back on the future and revert to the past: a past with limited transportation abilities; primitive food production, free of scientific or mechanical intervention; no air-conditioning; no modern medicine; no defensive weaponry; and, most importantly, no people.

So, while Mitt Romney spoke explicitly to Republicans about the Republican view of the future, Democrats, with their abortion-fest, are offering an implicit vision of their future. It’s one that sees American thriving by subtraction not addition — and the fastest form of subtraction available is abortion.  To Democrats, children aren’t the promise of the future; they are, instead, the promise that the future will be destroyed.

Perhaps I’m irresponsible, but I like the optimism that characterizes the conservative belief in the future.  Looking at the world through Democrat eyes and seeing a future that is a barren rock or primitive hard place, makes life meaningless.  Honestly, the best thing you can do is go out and kill yourself, so that your intellectual superiors can delicately seed an empty land with their own progeny.

Left again allies itself with radical Islam

My husband has, for years, castigated me for refusing to listening to Cat Stevens’ music.  He makes two points, the first of which is valid, the second of which is not.  First, he says, the music predates Stevens’ conversion.  If I hear it on the radio, Stevens isn’t getting any royalties anyway, so there’s no harm, no foul.

This is true.  But I still hate to hear Stevens because he irritates me so much.  And why does he irritate me?  Well, that gets to the second reason my husband scolds me, and as to that reason, my husband is wrong:  “You don’t like him just because he’s a Muslim.”  No, buddy.  I don’t like him because he’s a jihadist who advocates the murder of those who disagree with Islam.

My twenty-year old mini-dispute with my husband (and it really is mini, because how often does Cat Stevens come up in daily life?) has suddenly taken on a bit more resonance for me, as my husband’s favorite comic du0 — Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert — happily and proudly hosted this jihadist at their rally to “restore sanity.”  I know I’m picky, but I don’t consider it sane for Americans, especially Jewish Americans, to cavort with jihadists.  I’m clearly out of step, though, with this “super hip” American zeitgeist.

If you want to know more, lots more, check out Ed Driscoll, who always has good stuff.

Jon Stewart: genuinely ignorant or just hiding the ball when it comes to socialism

I caught a few minutes of last night’s Daily Show with Jon Stewart, during which Stewart amused himself by taking potshots at a very big target:  CPAC.  I haven’t paid much attention to CPAC, so I can’t and therefore won’t comment on whether his shots were righteous or dishonest.  If you’d like to know more about CPAC from a couple of people who were there, I can recommend this and this.  My suspicion is that, unlike a tightly scripted Democratic function, CPAC was a genuine grass roots conservative gathering, representing a wide range of viewpoints, some more pleasing than others.  But, as I said, I don’t know, I’m just guessing.

What I do know is that Stewart had fun with that portion of Beck’s speech in which Beck spoke about two forms of socialism:  revolutionary and evolutionary.  From his grunts, sighs and moans, all of which passes for Stewart’s version of intelligent political commentary, I gather that Stewart found it (a) amusing that a right winger would even mention the word “evolution” and (b) impossible to imagine that, if something happens slowly, it could be akin to a socialist revolution.  By taking that latter position, Stewart either betrayed his historical ignorance or is intentionally trying to fool a credulous audience.

In fact, back at the turn of the last century, there was a very active evolutionary socialist movement called the “Fabian Society,” and the movement remains as a functional backdrop to today’s Labour and Democratic parties.  As is often the case for historic information that isn’t at the center of a political maelstrom, Wikipedia has a solid entry on the subject (emphasis mine):

The Fabian Society is a British intellectual socialist movement, whose purpose is to advance the principles of social democracy via gradualist and reformist, rather than revolutionary, means. It is best known for its initial ground-breaking work beginning late in the 19th century and continuing up to World War I. The society laid many of the foundations of the Labour Party and subsequently affected the policies of states emerging from the decolonisation of the British Empire, especially India. Today, the society is a vanguard “think tank” of the New Labour movement.

[snip]

The group, which favoured gradual incremental change rather than revolutionary change, was named – at the suggestion of Frank Podmore – in honour of the Roman general Quintus Fabius Maximus (nicknamed “Cunctator”, meaning “the Delayer”). His Fabian strategy advocated tactics of harassment and attrition rather than head-on battles against the Carthaginian army under the renowned general Hannibal Barca.

That it was slow-moving didn’t make the Society’s ideas any less hateful:

The Fabian Society in the early 1900s advocated the ideal of a scientifically planned society and supported eugenics by way of sterilisation.

If you’d like to see the charming side of Fabian Socialism, you should read Jean Webster’s two delightful books:  Daddy Long Legs and Dear Enemy.  Both are epistolary novels written in the 1910s.  One is set at a women’s college (Vassar-ish) and the other is set in an orphanage.  The former presents a pretty picture of Fabian Socialism and the latter sweetly and ardently advocates eugenics.  They are the perfect distillation of a Woodrow Wilson style Progressivism, which wanted to purge America of any impure people and then, once America was properly populated with nice, WASP-y people, to impose a wondrous socialist vision upon them.  Jonah Goldberg captures perfectly the time and the vision in Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Change.  In America, this “delicate,” incremental slide to the Left had a friendly, middle-class intellectual gloss.  In other countries, that same driving need to take away individual freedom and invest all power in government was less lovely (Germany, Russia, North Korea, China, etc.).

Whether Socialism is fast or slow moving, it’s still socialism.  And much as Jon Stewart wants to laugh at the labels (having great fun with CPAC pronouncements that variations of Leftism, such as Bolshevism, Communism, Trotskeyism, etc. are the enemy), the fact remains that any movement that seeks to divest individuals of their freedom and place maximum power in the government is the enemy.  Shakespeare understood that labels are useful, but that it is the substance that matters (“That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.”)  When it comes to political ideology, what matters is finding a happy medium between anarchy and totalitarianism — and the sad fact is that, whenever a political movement in a fairly well-functioning society forcefully or politely advocates the transfer of every greater power to the government, no matter that movement’s name, you are looking at a graceful slide into totalitariansim.

“Eff you!” — How Jon Stewart interpreted Obama’s SOTU address *UPDATED*

I’ve never been a big Jon Stewart fan — there’s a lack of good spirit and subtlety that turns me off — but I’ve found interesting watching him deal with Obama.  As Stewart’s pr0nouncements during the course of every show demonstrate, he is a die-hard liberal.  However, he’s also a comedic shark.  This last means that, despite his liberal predilections, he’s going to go after blood in the water.  Right now, much to his manifest distress, the Democrats and President Obama are providing that blood.

Last night’s show was particularly interesting.  After managing a few weak attacks against Gov. McDonnell’s rebuttal, the real chum, for Stewart, was Obama’s SOTU address.  And the way Stewart understood it was as one giant “Eff you” from Obama — to everyone.  He attacked Republicans (natch), Democrats, Supreme Court justices, businesses, Wall Street, voters.  You name it, said Stewart, and Obama was out there giving someone the finger.  (Stewart didn’t mention, of course, that Obama managed to keep his rhetorical fingers neatly hidden away when it came to terrorism, Iran, North Korea, etc.)  I think Stewart was on to something:

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The second half of the show — the interview part — was just as interesting.  Stewart’s guest was Doris Kearns Goodwin, known on the Left as a historian whose book, Team of Rivals, about the Lincoln cabinet, was supposed to be a blue print of how the perfect Obama temperament would create a bipartisan political scene unknown since the Civil War.  (And that is, yes, a very funny sentence because, Lincoln’s cobbled together cabinet notwithstanding, the Civil War era doesn’t stand out as an exemplar of bipartisanship in action.)

To the Right, we know about Goodwin’s book, but we also remember that Goodwin has a little Biden-esque problem with plagarism.  In my mind, plagiarism is a very bad moral crime.  It is the intellectual equivalent of robbing a house.  Most plagiarists, though (unlike house robbers), add a soupcon of arrogance to their crime, since they believe that their greatness entitles them to the fruit of someone else’s labor.  I make this digression about Goodwin’s nasty intellectual habits to explain that I was predisposed to dislike her.

And dislike her I did.  She is, typically for America’s intellectual class, very, very liberal.  She opened her shtick by explaining that Obama’s words are meaningless unless he can match them with action, which is true.  She praised FDR and LBJ for doing just that, and told a rather funny story about Nixon inadvertently predicting his own departure during his last SOTU address.  Those were good historical stories, but she then started out with sheer partisanship, saying Obama should double-down on his policies, etc.

What was interesting about the Goodwin interview was Stewart.  Stewart is troubled.  He kept saying, without using that word, that Obama presented nothing but a dreary laundry list, without vision.  Should Obama, he asked Goodwin, state clearly a few big picture things he wants (and here Stewart digressed by praising Reagan for his skill in doing just that), rather than bogging everything down in the details?  For example, said Stewart, when it comes to health care, shouldn’t Obama identify a few problems, such as preexisting conditions, tort reform, etc., and explain how he’s going to fix them.  “Jon,” I wanted to say, “that’s the Republican plan you’re advancing.”

Goodwin just didn’t get it.  The whole notion of actual vision and problem-solving, as opposed to a simple government takeover, eluded her.  Instead, she rejoiced in the thought of Republicans standing athwart the battlements yelling stop, something she thought would harm the Republicans.  It didn’t seem to occur to her that New Jersey, Virginia, Massachusetts and all the polls show that, should the Republicans do that, ordinary Americans will probably be standing there cheering them on.

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I do wonder whether Stewart is going to reach some intellectual impasse, where his intelligence and aggressiveness crash head-on with his knee jerk ideological beliefs. Will we watch The Daily Show fall apart in a welter of cognitive dissonance?

UPDATE:  Earl’s comment (comment #6) is such a must-read, I’ve elevated it here, into the body of the post:

Something didn’t seem right in DKG’s reference to Strom Thurmond…..so I checked.

Wikipedia (I know, I know) reports that it was the 1957 civil rights bill that Strom Thurmond filibustered (for 24 hours and 18 minutes nonstop), and not the 1964 one.  And, by the way — when Thurmond engaged in that filibuster, he was…..a Democrat!

In 1964, the champion filibusterer (14 hours, 13 minutes) was apparently…..wait for it……Robert Byrd — who was…..a Democrat!

She is an historian, right — surely she should know this stuff…..so, did she simply not want to tell her audience?

Sheesh.