The Bookworm Beat (11/12/14) — The “trigger warning” edition (and Open Thread)

Woman writingIf I’ve written this post correctly, it should trigger discomfort in sensitive Leftists.  “Trigger warnings,” for those of you fortunate enough not to move in circles that use them, are warnings at the beginning of any information presentation, be it fact or fiction, written or oral, aural or visual. They tell people with certain sensitivities that the material following the warning might upset them. For example, The Cat In The Hat might be preceded by a trigger warning stating “Trigger Warning: This book contains references to cats, which may be triggering to people suffering from Ailurophobia; references to boys, which may be triggering to people suffering from Misanthropy; references to girls, which may be triggering to people suffering from Misogyny; and references to Things, which may be triggering to people suffering from fear of Things.”

These trigger warnings started amongst the feminists, who manage to hold simultaneously conflicting thoughts, the first being that they are roaring women (and you’d better hear them), and the second that they are such fragile flowers that anything can permanently damage them. I’m not so sure anymore that trigger warnings are just a malicious feminist virus.  Instead, to the extent that trigger warnings are taking over American college campuses, I think that they’re actually part of a fiendish plot that transcends lunatic feminists in Herstory Departments across America.

Think about it: For decades, the Left has carefully controlled the material available to college students. Just when young people’s minds should be in their most receptive, inquiring mode, these youngsters are shut off in an institution that spoon feeds them carefully vetted material pointing to a single world view. As a conservative I met today told me, his grandson, a UC student, proudly boasted that everyone at his college voted Democrat in the last election. That may be an exaggeration, but it’s close enough to the truth to disturb all of us.

The problem for Leftist control freaks is the fact that they only get the students for 4-7 years, and that even during that time there’s the chance that the students, during visits home, or while picking up a random magazine abandoned at a Starbucks might accidentally be exposed to facts or analysis challenging the Leftist paradigm. Even the most zealous Leftist academic can’t police students all the time. Moreover, there’s always the problem that an insufficiently indoctrinated student might be embarrassed at the sheeple-ness of it all (is there no rebellion left amongst the young?) and foment an intellectual revolution.  What’s an academic to do?

What the enterprising academic will do is vaccinate the students so that they develop antibodies that make them permanently resistant to any new information whatsoever. That’s what the “trigger warning” is. It inoculates brains against all ideas but for Leftist ones.  Mention preprogrammed words, phrases, or ideas — e.g., liberty, Founding Fathers, Constitution, decent men, rape fallacy, conservatives, Republicans, etc. — and the students are so sensitized that they instantly, and without any higher brain function, start screaming “It’s a trigger!” after which they fall on the floor in a sobbing heap, inconsolable until someone comes along and whispers in their ears restorative words such as Social Justice, right side of history, racism, sexism, etc.

As long as our young people are not just taught Leftism, but are taught to panic at anything that challenges Leftism, they are unreachable. They have been vaccinated against ideas about individual liberty, constitutionalism, morality, etc. Sad, but true….

But if you’re made of stronger stuff, if you can read ideas that might not mesh with yours, I probably have something to offer you in this little grab bag of links and pictures.

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Idiot leaves Ron Paul coalition; finds natural home in Democrat Party

Ron Paul yard signA liberal friend who despairs of my decision to turn my back on the Democrat Party and declare myself a conservative, sent me an article from Salon.  In it, the author smugly explains that he was a life-long libertarian, went to a Ron Paul convention, saw that a lot of the people there were conspiracy theorists, and then joined the Democrat Party.

Here’s the gist of it:  the guy grew up in Nevada, in a town that valued guns.  He was told that he was a libertarian, so he was.  Without showing any actual understanding of the principle’s behind small government and individual freedom, he liked that Ron Paul libertarians want to make pot legal and hate Wars for Oil.  In 2008, he went to a Ron Paul convention and was shocked that people there espoused conspiracy views (which Ron Paul followers are famous for doing) and believed that welfare is a bad thing.  Then, when the financial meltdown happened in 2008, he opposed the bank bailout (which libertarians opposed), but approved of greatly increasing the welfare state (something libertarians also opposed).  Oh, and he “wept with joy” when Obama was inaugurated.  As for the Tea Partiers, they were “monsters” who made him want to “puke.”  You see, there are “racists” amongst the Tea Partiers, as well as 9/11 conspiracy theorists and Birthers.  He then went to a Progressive college to get a degree in creative writing and married a liberal Canadian.  And then, pretty much badda-boom, badda-bing, there he was, a happy Democrat.

What this guy utterly fails to see is that he started out with hard-core Leftist ideology — free pot, no War for Oil, don’t give money to evil bankers, government is the solution, Tea Partiers are racist, Obama is a God who causes tears of joy — but by an accident of birth, ended up thinking he was a libertarian.  Then, when he figured out that he was a moonbat, he headed for his real political party.  It’s not so much a case of conversion as of mistaken identity.  “You mean I’m not really Lord Ambrose Wafflepoof-Chilteningham?  I am, instead, plain old Comrade John Brown?  At last, the world makes sense!”

As for his attacks against the Ron Paul group, I have to agree that I don’t like Ron Paul or his followers either.  Their isolationism (which the proto-Democrat convert loved) is dangerous, and their affinity for neo-Nazis and other immoral, bad actors is awful.  Paul is too dumb to realize that the neo-Nazis are statists who hide in his Libertarian enclave because they believe it’s the best incubator for people too dumb to realize that the libertarian’s totally laissez faire attitude to everything allows evil to grow as well as good.

The two main problems with the guy’s post are that he (a) never understood true conservativism and (b) conflates Ron Paul libertarians with conservatives.  Conservatives embrace constitutional government, not no government.  Most conservatives are not conspiracy theorists, although the Birther meme is out there — in part because Obama has withheld evidence (birth certificates and transcripts), either to stir up conspiracy controversy (“Hey, look!  I can make my dog crazy by hiding his bone”) or because there really is something to hide (I believe he might be hiding a pretense that he was a foreign national to help him get college admission/aid).

If you want serious conspiracy mavens, look Left.  That’s where the Truthers live, that’s were the antisemites who subscribe to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion live, and that’s where the people who focus obsessively on the Koch brothers live.  The fact that there is no evidence whatsoever that the Koch brothers did anything more than fund the Heartland Institute is irrelevant:

"The Nation" uses its Koch brother paranoia to fuel a fundraising drive

“The Nation” uses its Koch brother paranoia to fuel a fundraising drive

Funnily enough, all these Lefties never seem that exercised about George Soros’ funding of just about everything to the Left, which is as much an exercise of free speech as is the Koch’s funding of the Heartland Institute.

Another conspiracy meme on the Left, one that helped propel Obama back into the White House in 2012 was the spurious war on women. The Left convinced credulous women and metrosexuals that a vote for Romney was a vote to put women barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen, as forced sex-slaves to slobbering, fat, white Bible-toting Christian males. (In other words, The Handmaid’s Tale.)  That this dark vision had no reality outside the pages of a bad 1980s feminist novel is irrelevant.

And of course, there’s the “Tea Party is racist” meme that the guy, studying at his Progressive university, totally accepted.  He seems unaware that Andrew Breitbart’s $100,000 reward for anyone spotting racism at an Obamacare protest is still out there, unclaimed.  If you want racism, look Left.

The guy who wrote the Salon article was never a conservative.  He was always a hardcore, big state Leftist who had accidentally wandered into the wrong party.  His little post isn’t an indictment of conservativism.  It is, instead, a confession of his own lack of self-awareness and facile embrace of the party of the moment.

Your opinions about Rand Paul, please

I was listening to a few seconds of Rand Paul on Sean Hannity’s radio show today.  I haven’t been following his recent drone kerfuffle very closely, but his explanation of his drone statement the other day sounded reasonable.  According to Rand, he’s never said that drones cannot be used to stop a violent crime or dangerous situation as it’s happening.  To him, the drones  can appropriately be used as just another weapon in the policeman’s arsenal when dealing with an imminent crisis — as, for example, the shoot-out with the Tsarnaevs.  He still believes that drones should not be used to spy on American soil, nor should they be used for exterminating people who are not imminent threats.

Often (not always,  but often), I find that Paul makes sense.  When I mentioned this to a very politically knowledgeable friend of mine, he said “Don’t be fooled.  He’s still is father’s son.”

In other word, rather than Rand being the reasonable evolution of his father, eschewing the anti-Israel/antisemitism/Trutherism/etc. that characterizes Ron and having a better understanding generally of the real world, Rand is a Trojan Horse.  His beliefs are identical to his father’s, says my friend, only they’re being carefully hidden as he lays the groundwork for the White House.  Certainly, Rand has shown that he has a real flair for the theatrics necessary to make a noise in modern politics. He’s also articulate, which is a refreshing change after the verbal stumbles that seemed to characterize both McCain and Romney, neither of whom was a good speaker, whether on TelePrompter or off.

If Rand Paul can allay the concerns of mainstream Republicans, the Tea Party, and his father’s fans, he will be a formidable political presence in a few years. That’s why it’s very important to know what he stands for:  is a more moderate version of his Dad, or is he just hiding his true colors because it suits his purposes to do so?

Do you have any knowledge about Rand Paul or any opinions about his politics?  I’d be very interested in hearing what you have to say.

Bill Whittle’s appeal to those who intend to stand on principle and vote for a third party or not vote at all

Bill Whittle explains very clearly why it’s a mistake in this election for those who dislike Obama to a protest vote for a third party, or not vote at all, in order to protest the fact that Republicans are so far from perfect.  It’s a principled stand, certainly, but it is also one that denies the dangerous reality associated with a second Obama term:

If you are thinking of sitting out this election, or casting a protest vote for Gary Johnson or Ron Paul, please watch this video and think very seriously about whether this particular election is the one on which to take a stand.  And if you know someone who is thinking of sitting this one out, or throwing away a vote, please suggest that they watch this video.

Is Ron Paul correct that the U.S. is at fault when it comes to Iran’s intransigent hatred for our country?

According to Barry Rubin, who has forgotten more about the Middle East than most people (including State Department employees) will know in a lifetime, Ron Paul is Wrong Paul when it comes to Iran.  First, what’s happened in the last decade is irrelevant, since Iran hatred long preceded that.  The real issue is whether the U.S. decision in 1953 to put the Shah in power was the trigger that deserved the animus that now comes our way.  Rubin, with access to key contemporary documents, says it is not.  Not only was it a rational and reasonable decision at the time, the mullahs wanted it:

What is especially interesting in retrospect is that one of the main supporters of the move were the Iranian Muslim clerics, including Ayatollah Kashani, the man who would be a role model for Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. I saw how he and his colleagues met with U.S. officials and urged a coup, since they also feared a Communist regime. It is ironic for Islamists to complain about a U.S. policy that they actively backed at the time.

Read the whole thing, which succinctly summarizes decades of Iran policy. It’s fascinating.

And while you’re at it, you might want to check out Barry Rubin’s new book, which got a great review in the latest edition of Commentary Magazine:

Breaking the Obama party hold on America’s political system

I’ve been corresponding with a group of conservatives who are very strongly divided between Romney and Gingrich.  I’m pleased to say that, while the debate is substantively heated, it also never veers away from common decency and civility.  My latest contribution to the email string, right after mention of a brokered convention, was as follows:

“Allen West!  Allen West!  Allen West!  A proven leader.”

(I can dream, can’t I?)

For all the doom and gloom predictions right now, with various factions in the conservative movement unable to envision themselves voting for the other guy come next November, I continue to believe that, as is usually the case once the fecal matter stops spraying off the fan, that conservatives will coalesce around the Republican candidate.  I’ve said from the beginning, sitting here in California where primaries are really over by the time they get to my state, that my candidate is the guy named ABO (Anybody But Obama).  It’ll be a tough call if the ABO candidate is Ron Paul, who is as awful in foreign policy as Obama, but I still think it’s important to break the Obama political infrastructure before it becomes an inextricable part of the American body politic.

In politics, the crazies on either side tend to meet up *UPDATED*

There is a tendency to imagine politics as a straight line, going from Left to Right, or statist to individualist.  I think, though, that it would be more accurate to imagine it as a curve, with the two ends sometimes straining to meet each other.  Ron Paul’s libertarianism, which includes a Truther strain, deep hostility to Israel and Jews, support for Cynthia McKinney, and a healthy dollop of paranoia, is closer in tone to the far Left than it is to the Republican Party with which he’s allied himself.

There’s no doubt but that Ron Paul has good ideas.  Up to a certain point, his libertarianism is appealing, insofar as he talks about small government and greater individual freedom.  And then he veers into crazy land, and ends up sounding exactly like Van Jones or some other paranoid anti-American guy on the opposite end of the political spectrum.

Nevertheless, crazy or not, he’s got fans in Iowa.  Before Paul starts congratulating himself on his compelling message and amazing traction, he might want to look at Iowa’s political legacy, which goes back to a radical Progressive who held views remarkably similar to those that Paul spouts now.  In other words, when it comes to Iowa, this ground’s already been fertilized.

UPDATE:  For a more detailed analysis about the myriad problems with Ron Paul, check out this Dorothy Rabinowitz article (which may or may not be behind a pay wall).  As I’ve said, Paul has some good ideas about small government and they shouldn’t be discounted.  Those ideas, however, are inextricably intertwined with an often amoral world view that must be considered in discounting Paul as a serious candidate.

Ron Paul in Iowa

Ron Paul’s doing well in Iowa, so well that there are some who project a win for him there.  Interestingly, despite his frontrunner, or near frontrunner, status, the MSM is remarkably quiet.  Some think it’s because the MSM knows he can’t possibly win, so why bother.  Others wonder the MSM is lusting after a Republican presidential nominee who can be destroyed, ensuring an Obama victory.

With regard to the latter theory, cast your eye over this post and this post, both of which explain why, in a civilized, decent nation, Ron Paul will be unelectable.

As of today, who’s your conservative candidate choice?

A friend sent me a link to a post at Whatever, a blog that John Scalzi runs.  Scalzi, who describes himself as a “pinko commie socialist,” is interested — truly, not snarkily, interested — in the views Republicans/conservatives/libertarians currently hold when looking at the Republican primary field.  Having the luxury of my own blog, I thought that, rather than weigh in there, I’d weigh in here, and ask you all to chime in as well.  I’ll stick to Scalzi’s rules, which I think are very good ones for this question:

1. This comment thread is for people who are US potential primary voters who identify as Republican and/or conservative (libertarian is also fine, if you see your libertarianism more aligned with general Republican/conservative principles and/or intend to vote in the GOP primaries). If you’re not any of these things, don’t comment, please. Seriously. We have enough politics back and forth on other threads; this one is not about that.

To amplify this point I will also stay out of the thread except in my capacity as site moderator.

2. For the purposes of this thread, please take as given that you likely believe the policies and practices of the Obama administration to be varying levels of bad, so it’s not on point to go on about that. I’m interested on your take on the actual candidates running for the GOP nomination and your thoughts on their individual pluses and minuses as well as on the group as a whole.

[snip]

4. Commenting between the people in the thread (who have already identified themselves as Republicans/conservatives) is of course fine but in general I’m more interested in people’s individual opinions regarding the candidates/group than I am in people trying to argue to others in the thread for their favorite candidate. So if you’d keep campaigning to a minimum and focus on the actual question, I’d be appreciative.

As a Californian, of course, none of my votes count.  My primaries are too late to matter and the state is so Blue, it’s kind of like a corpse when it comes to the actual election itself.  So, while I care deeply, my caring is sort of academic.

Having said that, I’ve been enjoying Newt.  Considering that all the candidates just yak away like crazy, it’s a kind of rare, delicious, almost illicit pleasure to hear someone who can string multiple sentences together, who has a rare depth and breadth of knowledge, and who often says what all of us have been thinking.  I have serious doubts about his abilities as an executive (I do think Romney wins in that category), but he’s like chocolate for the conservative political brain — and that’s despite the baggage, the loopiness, the history of random statements, the FDR worship, and whatever else one can say about Newt.

When it comes to thinking seriously about a primary candidate, I don’t know and, as I noted above, for me the question is academic (especially since California now has open primaries).  What I’ve said for months is that my candidate is NOT OBAMA.  Of course, I have to ask myself, what if the NOT OBAMA candidate is Ron Paul?  I think he’d be better for America on the home front than Obama is, but I think he’d manage to be even worse than Obama when it comes to America’s national security interests, both at home and abroad.  I don’t want to have to make an Obama versus Paul choice.

My current plan is to vote for the person with the “R” after his/her name.  I’m not going to teach anyone a lesson by withholding a vote, thereby weakening the NOT OBAMA Party, of which I am a member in good standing.

Newt: a Hollywood anti-hero *UPDATED*

Why, oh why, oh why can’t I get more excited about Mitt?  On paper, he’s a very good candidate.  Yes, there have been flips and flops, but it’s naive to expect perfect political purity from any candidate.  Aside from that, he’s straight out of Hollywood’s central casting, circa 1944:  well-educated, handsome, wholesome, loyal, intelligent, efficient, effective, reliable, fiscally savvy, and, apparently, quite nice to have around the office.  (Either that, or he’s a German Shepherd, a breed that shares many of those traits.)  He should be a dream candidate, but for so many he isn’t.

It’s the Hollywood reference that got me thinking.  Pardon me for sounding like Maureen Dowd here, but isn’t Newt the quintessential bad boy from the Hollywood movie?  You know, the one who runs around in the leather jacket, with his hair slicked back, but who is actually the hero of the movie, while the clean-cut good guy turns out to have feet of clay?

Yes, I know that it’s hard to see this man

in the role of this man

but I am here to assure you that Mitt’s problem, and Newt’s saving grace (so far) is that, poor Mitt, creature of the 1950s that he is, has wandered into the wrong 1950s movie, the one in which the anti-hero, not the hero, saves the day.

UPDATED:  I feel a little embarrassed looking at the above post, a very fluffy post, as Keith Koffler makes plain that the upcoming election is a pivotal one, when that will definitely determine the direction the United States takes in the foreseeable future.

I’ll say here what I’ve said before and that’s that I will vote for whichever candidate is not Obama.  That’s the bottom line for all of us.  We have to support ferociously whomever gets the Republican nomination.  (And that will be a bitter pill for me if Ron Paul does.)

How far is too far when it comes to attacking primary candidates? *UPDATED*

As the primary season heats up, here’s a good question to ask:  If we want to end the primary season with a viable political candidate to face off against Barack Obama, are there limits limits to the nature of the attacks that bloggers launch against the Republican candidates during this primary season?

My take is that it is very important for us to learn as many facts as possible about the candidates, whether we’re learning good things or bad.  However, I’m not yet ready to leap up and castigate any candidate as the devil incarnate.  (Even Ron Paul, whom I would not like to see win, can be challenged through facts, not hyperbolic insults.)

As we learned in 2008, there are no perfect Republican candidates.  Unfortunately, the other lesson we’ve learned in the last 2.5 years is that Obama is a perfectly scary Democrat president/candidate.  This means that, when the Republican primary ends, we need the last Republican candidate still standing to have the strength to face off against Obama.  If we inflict too many wounds against our own people, the primary winner may be so weakened, s/he cannot win the final, presidential battle.  Further, if s/he’s bleeding badly from the ideological wounds we inflict, Independents will shy away, as they will almost certainly be incapable of discerning between the wounds inflicted during internecine conflict from the type of fatal flaws that spell death at the presidential polls.

As of today, I can easily say yucky things about every one of the Republicans now seeking office (especially Ron Paul):

(1) Michele Bachmann has no more executive experience than Obama did at this stage in the game, and we all rightly predicted that he was grossly unprepared for high executive office;

(2) Paul Ryan, should he weigh in, will also lack that experience, plus he’s got a geeky quality that might not play well in the media;

(3) Mitt Romney has the RomneyCare albatross and all the charm (and good looks) of a Ken doll;

(4) Ron Paul takes libertarianism to an inhuman extreme that includes jettisoning the nation of Israel and supporting Iran’s quest for nuclear arms;

(5) Rick Perry tried to strong-arm Gardasil, whether because of fear of cancer, ties with Merck, power lust, or something else, plus he’s kind of smarmy;

(6) Chris Christie, should he weigh in, has sharia ties, offends people with his outspokeness, and will have to fight the fat-taboo that governs in America.

And on and on and on.  (Please note that, with the exception of Ron Paul, who seriously rubs me the wrong way, I can just as easily say a whole lot of good things about the candidates and potential candidates listed above.)

The fact is, nobody makes it very far in political office without chutzpah, arrogance, a touch of insanity, and a whole lot of compromising.  The only people who don’t make mistakes are those who don’t do anything at all.  Being an inert lump doesn’t get one far, especially politically.

My current candidate of choice is the William Buckley candidate — the one who can win.  There is no Churchill on the horizon and even Churchill, a politician I admire with something approaching ferocity, had his disastrous qualities and made horrible decisions that resulted in uncounted deaths.  He was, nevertheless, a leader, and his core values were the right ones, especially during a time when those values were so desperately important to the survival of the Western world.

Let’s definitely get all the facts on the table.  Good, bad, in-between, whatever.  If you have opinions, by all means advance them.  But sheath the long knives.  The last candidate standing has to be in sufficiently good health to take on a sitting president with a war chest that’s reached historic proportions.  Too much blood-letting in the lead-up to the big campaign will leave him (or her) supine and helpless.  (Not to mention that the MSM will happily recycle, only with longer knives, the worst arguments made against the Republican who makes it through the primary gauntlet.)

Having blathered on here, let me say something about conservatives in the main:  As the cheerful, neat, polite Tea Party rallies showed, ours is a surprisingly congenial political party.  While we may disagree with each other, we do so with civility and respect.  Our core values revolve around personal integrity and love for country.  Debate enriches, rather than demeans.  It is within that spirit that conservatives should be analyzing, challenging and supporting the Republican candidates.  If we bring out the long knives now, we run the risk of presenting the nation with a bleeding carcass as the official Republican candidate.

UPDATE:  Rob Miller, at JoshuaPundit, expands on my point.  As always, when I read something I writes, I smack my forehead and think “I wish I’d said that.”

UPDATE II:  The Razor weighs in too.  He opens with the excellent point that we’d better get everything out on the table now, before the MSM does it for us.  I agree with that entirely.  My only suggestion is that our tone should be one of inquiry, not one of long-knives attack.