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.

Valerie Jarrett — scapegoat

I hold no brief for Valerie Jarrett, because I find her a singular unlikable person, whether its her limousine liberalism, hostility to Israel and the military, or the Svengali-like control she has over Obama, regardless of whether she knows what she’s talking about or not. (Why, oh why, couldn’t Obama have had Rush Limbaugh as his Svengali?) No wonder, then, that I’ve been enjoying the Leftist pile-up against Jarrett in the wake of the 2014 elections — at least, I think you can call two articles a “pile-up” when they appear in The New Republic, which is the oldest explicitly Progressive publication in America, and Politico, which is the internet’s Democrat political mouthpiece. (If you don’t want to read both, The Federalist summarizes them.)

Both articles attack Jarrett at every level: She’s mean, they say; she’s controlling, they say; she sticks her nose in where it doesn’t belong, they say; she has insufficient fealty to Progressive politics, they say; and she’s a corporate shill, they say. All of these things, they say, explain why Obama has failed to achieve his destiny as the president who turned America into a Progressive wonderland, rather than into a nation that saw a Progressive rout at the polls.

What neither article will acknowledge, of course, is that Jarrett isn’t the problem, Obama is. After all, it’s he who has voluntarily turned both his brain and soul over to this woman — and he’s done so because he likes what he gets from her, whether we’re talking ego stroking or political outcomes. Noah Rothman explains more about the Obama, rather than the Jarrett, problem.

Obama is a feral duck, not a lame one

I was speaking with friends today about the next two years of an Obama presidency. It’s true that, ordinarily, a president’s last two years are a lame duck period, because he’s the setting sun, not the rising sun.

This is ordinarily true, however, only because it concerns ordinary presidents. Obama is different, because he doesn’t believe that the Constitution constrains his conduct. As Obama established in his press conference, he’s assuming that the 2/3 of Americans who stayed home last Tuesday did so, not because of apathy, but because they agree with Obama so strongly they were certain that the power of their silence would support him. (Who cares that post-election polls show that this assumption is wrong?) To that end, Obama has publicly stood up and said “Congress? I don’t need no stinkin’ Congress.  I’ve acted in illegal unilateral ways before, and I’ll do it again, only on a bigger scale than any American has ever imagined.”

Or as Rich Lowry describes it:

In a fit of postelection modesty, President Barack Obama is offering not to take executive action to amnesty millions of illegal immigrants — provided Republicans do his bidding on immigration.

It is extortion as conciliation. New Jersey governor Chris Christie often invites comparisons to The Sopranos, but it is President Obama who is making a tactic taken out of the HBO mob drama his major postelection initiative. His bipartisan outreach now ends with a pointed “Or else . . . ”

This offer Republicans can’t refuse includes the stipulation that the president will revoke his executive action in the event they pass legislation to his liking. How generous of him. We should all be pleased that he isn’t threatening Republican leaders with the release of compromising photos — yet.

Moreover, as Thomas Sowell explains, the president understands that there’s no possible way Congress can get an amnesty bill passed even if it wanted to:

The very idea of Congress rushing a bill into law in less than two months, on a subject as complex as immigration, and with such irreversible long-run consequences, is staggering. But there is already a precedent for such hasty action, without congressional hearings to bring out facts or air different views. That is how Obamacare was passed. And we see how that has turned out.

Obama’s a realist, insofar as he knows there’s pretty much nothing that Congress can do to stop him.  After all, once he’s shaken off those constitutional chains, what’s left?

Congress can’t pass a law against Obama’s planned amnesty, or planned anything else, because, absent a Republican super-majority, Obama will just veto the law. Republicans can sue Obama, but the Holder years showed that, if the administration doesn’t like a judicial outcome, it ignores it.  Nor can Congress hope that administrative employees, not the ones in the White House, but the workers scattered throughout the United States, will refuse to carry out unconstitutional orders. Thanks to Kennedy’s decision to allow public sector unions, the majority of America’s federal workers will do anything to advance the Democrat party interests (see, e.g., the IRS scandal). Moreover, Obama’s skin color insulates him against impeachment. Impeachment is the constitutionally available option when a president gorssly violates the law, but the Republican party understands that the media will savage it so badly should it impeach the first black-white president that Republicans may simply bleed out politically.

Perhaps the smartest thing Republicans can do is fan out throughout the Hispanic community across the United States and convince them that, in the long run, they will be better served by conservativism than by Leftism. Right now, they’re being turned into welfare junkies. Like the dope peddler who gives the first hit for free, they get “free” money when they cross the border and quickly become addicted. How much nicer to take a hit of welfare and forget the travails of the world around them, than to face the specter of poverty and hard work. But like the drug user, they quickly become addicted and dependent. They need to understand that the greatest honor we can give to the Hispanic culture’s history of hard work and old-fashioned values is to protect them from the government and enable them to put their skills and values to work to benefit themselves, rather than political fat cats.

Another hope is that the majority of Americans, who have been sheepling along for the past six years, will finally take umbrage at Obama’s imperial stylings.  I wouldn’t have suggested that outcome on November 3, but after November 4, I’m  a little more optimistic.

Am I congratulating myself too soon for being prescient about Pope Francis?

The big news out of the Vatican is that Pope Francis essentially fired Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, who was the Church’s Chief Justice, which was a position of real power, and who is now cardinal protector of the Sovereign Order of Malta, a charitable Catholic organization, with a deep, broad, reach and very wealthy, well-placed participants. The reason for the demotion is that Burke was pushing back against the Pope’s liberalizing agenda.  It’s accepted that the Pope relocated Burke because the Sovereign Order of Malta position is considered a sinecure.  Benedict Kiely, though, thinks that the Pope may in fact have given Cardinal Burke a bully pulpit from which to challenge the Pope’s “reforms” in areas ranging from abortion to gay rights to capitalism.

Kiely’s idea is an interesting one and may well prove to be true. I, of course, am much more interested in whether an old idea of mine has already proven to be true. You see, almost a year ago, I said that Pope Francis, who had issued an apostolic exhortation attacking capitalism, is a product of Latin American “liberation theology”:

So the Pope went full Marxist. Why did he do that? I think the answer is a simple one: he’s from Latin America. The Latin American Catholic Church went Leftist in the 1950s and 1960s, when it developed “liberation theology.” This time line coincides perfectly with Pope Francis’s coming-of-age as a Catholic priest.

“Liberation theology” is a pure Leftist doctrine tacked onto Catholicism:

Liberation theology proposes to fight poverty by addressing its alleged source: sin. In so doing, it explores the relationship between Christian theology — especially Roman Catholic theology — and political activism, especially in relation to social justice, poverty, and human rights. The principal methodological innovation is seeing theology from the perspective of the poor and the oppressed. For example Jon Sobrino, S.J., argues that the poor are a privileged channel of God’s grace.

Some liberation theologians base their social action upon the Bible scriptures describing the mission of Jesus Christ, as bringing a sword (social unrest), e.g. Isaiah 61:1, Matthew 10:34, Luke 22:35–38 — and not as bringing peace (social order)[better source needed]. This Biblical interpretation is a call to action against poverty, and the sin engendering it, to effect Jesus Christ’s mission of justice in this world.

Gustavo Gutiérrez gave the movement its name with his book A Theology of Liberation (1971). In this book, Gutierrez combined populist ideas with the social teachings of the Catholic Church. He was influenced by an existing socialist current in the Church which included organizations such as the Catholic Worker Movement and the French Christian youth worker organization, “Jeunesse Ouvrière Chrétienne”. He was also influenced by Paul Gauthier’s “The Poor, Jesus and the Church” (1965). Gutierrez’s book is based on an understanding of history in which the human being is seen as assuming conscious responsibility for human destiny, and yet Christ the Savior liberates the human race from sin, which is the root of all disruption of friendship and of all injustice and oppression.

Gutierrez also popularized the phrase “preferential option for the poor”, which became a slogan of liberation theology and later appeared in addresses of the Pope. Drawing from the biblical motif on the poor, Gutierrez asserts that God is revealed as having a preference for those people who are “insignificant,” “marginalized,” “unimportant,” “needy,” “despised” and “defenseless.” Moreover, he makes clear that terminology of “the poor” in scripture has social and economic connotations that etymologically go back to the Greek word, ptōchos. To be sure, as to not misinterpret Gutierrez’s definition of the term “preferential option,” he stresses, “Preference implies the universality of God’s love, which excludes no one. It is only within the framework of this universality that we can understand the preference, that is, ‘what comes first.'”


So no, you’re not imagining that Pope Francis is preaching Marxism to the flock. He is a product of his time and place: namely the Catholic Church in Latin America from the 1950s through to the present. The Church there is a Marxist institution and he has absorbed those teachings.

What we are seeing is simply another example of the Left’s march through institutions. The Quakers, once pacifists, now promote the Palestinian’s genocidal ambitions against Israel. The Girl Scouts of America, once a youth organization promoting wholesome values for children, now sponsors pro-abortion speakers and is basically run by a far-Left drag queen who made anti-woman, pseudo-snuff videos.  The Boy Scouts of America now allows gays (showing that, on the Left, its okay if troop leaders or older scouts molest little boys into the future, but it’s not okay if priests in the 1960s once molested little boys).  Notre Dame, once a bastion of Catholic education in America, now invites Barack Obama to give pro-abortion speeches on its campus.  Hollywood, which once was run by patriotic Republicans, now promotes anti-American Leftism throughout the world.  And of course, there’s the pervasive Leftism that now permeates America’s public schools and all of its universities.

My conclusion about the Pope’s politics doesn’t address whether, at an individual level, he’s a decent human being. He seems to be so, although Kiely’s article suggests that he is in fact a very vindictive person, something more consistent with Marxism, than with Christian charity and humility.

I hope too that I’ve made it clear that I’m not attacking the Catholic Church as a whole. I have a great deal of respect for the Catholic Church in the modern era. I see it as one of the few reliable, but fragile, barriers existing that protects the last remnants of a moral and just world from the red tide of socialism and the green tide of Islamism. My beef is with the Marxism that has insinuated the Church, permeating that barrier and rendering it less resilient when facing those red and green attacks against the Church itself and against Western culture generally.

I haven’t forgotten Jonathan Gruber’s ruminations about American stupidity

Gruber on the lies told to pass Obamacare

I’ve been busy for the past few days, but not so busy that I missed Jonathan Gruber’s wonderful statement about Obamacare’s deliberate impenetrability to ensure that stupid American voters would miss the whole bit about redistribution:

[T]his bill [the Affordable Care Act] was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO [the Congressional Budget Office] did not score the mandate as taxes. If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies. Okay, so it’s written to do that. In terms of risk-rated subsidies, if you had a law which said that healthy people are going to pay in — you made explicit healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it would not have passed. . . . Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical for the thing to pass. . . . Look, I wish . . . that we could make it all transparent, but I’d rather have this law than not.

Ouch! As an America voter, I resent that remark. Carried along by that resentment, I was all set to write about arrogance and Leftism and dishonesty . . . and then I read Ian Tuttle’s article about Gruber and saw that he already did it. Here’s a snippet, but you should read the whole thing:

[D]espite its pragmatic, do-what-works rhetoric, the progressive Left is convinced not only of its own intellectual superiority but of its accompanying moral superiority. Among progressives, stupidity is sin.

Gruber’s comments are a perfect illustration of this belief. The “stupidity of the American voter,” of which he is obviously disdainful, is not an ignorance of facts. If Obamacare proponents had believed that was the case, they would simply have sought to explain the legislation, trusting that more information would be persuasive. The obfuscation in which they engaged would not have been necessary.

No, Obamacare proponents were certain that Americans could not be persuaded, no matter how much information they absorbed. The voters were incapable of recognizing that Obamacare was in their own best interests — or, to put it another way, they were (and remain) morally deficient, a failing impervious to reasoned argument. Their stupidity was a sin, against themselves and each other. Gruber and company were the messiahs they did not know they needed.

If you’re interested in information about the man who unearthed all these delicious unforced mistakes from Gruber, you can read about Rich Weinstein here.  Also, you can see another video that’s emerged in which Gruber against calls American voters stupid.  I’ll just say, having listened to Gruber, that American voters may be as stupid as he thinks, but that he’s a terrible, tortured, confusing speaker.  In other words, aside from his mean-spirited, dishonest, Leftist content, he speaks so badly he sounds like the real moron in all of this.

Rand Paul 2016?

My friends and I were talking about potential conservative presidential candidates for 2016. Rand Paul’s name came up. Our consensus was that, on his own, Paul has the potential to be a powerful candidate, one who can bring in the young and old alike, and who can slough off a lot of controversial issues, such as abortion and gay marriage, by saying these are state issues, not federal ones. The problem I have with Paul is his father who takes isolationism to scary and antisemitic levels. Indeed, John Yoo thinks Rand Paul, even without Ron, is too much of a loose cannon on foreign policy issues.

Jonathan Tobin suggests that Paul may also have a problem with his father’s followers: To the extent he’s separating himself from his father to go mainstream, is Paul alienating a necessary base?

Paul’s deliberate shift to the conservative center may herald another problem we need to worry about: Is Paul pulling an Obama by campaigning as a moderate, with the full intent to govern as an extremist?  In other words, do his father’s followers understand, as Obama’s radical base did in 2008, that the moderation is all for show?

A Veterans’ Day homage

I’m a day late, but it’s actually never too late to pass something like this along: At Ace of Spades, Weird Dave has written a beautiful post honoring America’s men and women who serve.

London on Armistice Day


Once again, I’ve got a nice bolus of posters from Caped Crusader, to whom I am deeply indebted:

Joe Biden like a rock only dumber

Black conservatives drinking fountain

Taxpayer owns the government

Bergdahl v Tahmooressi release press conference

Bloomberg not criticized the way Koch brothers are

Guns protect house

Basement full of liberals equals whine cellar

Mia Love on being a Republican and a conservative

Chart showing Muslims killed by Israel and killed by fellow Muslims

Quick chart about gun rights laws across America

The liberal mind is unicorns, free stuff and responsible government

Obama and Harvard law have no time for constitution

Gunny on Republicans to oppose Democrats

Beatings and violent crime in Ferguson

Obama hates military ebola workers

Mary Landrieu fail regarding Bill Cassidy

The reality of Obamacare

Liberals are fun