Bookworm Beat 12/6/16 — the “there’s nothing usual about politics” edition

Surrender by General Cornwallis to the American commander at Yorktown, Virginia on 19 October 1781One of the categories I long ago set up for articles I’m saving to include in a round-up was called “politics as usual.” I’ve since changed it to “there’s nothing usual about politics.” The fusion of the Trump presidency, the collective Progressive mental breakdown, and the culture wars means that just about everything I read lately comes as a surprise. I’m pretty sure I’ve gotten no Christmas cards yet this year (a variation from the norm) because my Progressive friends are too depressed. They’re feeling like that gay couple in LA that canceled their celebratory Christmas party.

I am feeling celebratory — for the first time in eight years. I feel like the Americans at Yorktown when the British surrendered in 1781, as their band played The World Turned Upside Down. There’s still a lot of fighting to be done, as the links below show, but we’re gaining traction.

No, you don’t get to change the rules after you lose the game. The Lefties are desperately trying to undo the Electoral College (or, indeed, to do anything else they can think of to undermine a fair election the outcome of which they dislike). What Lefties don’t understand is that, had there been no Electoral College, Trump would simply have run a different campaign, getting more votes out in red states. What Lefties do understand is that the Electoral College stands in the way of the entire United States becoming a colony of California, which Michael Barone explains marches to the beat of a different drummer:

[F]or the first time in the nation’s history the most populous state was a political outlier, voting at one extreme in the national political spectrum.


The trend is recent — and clear. California was 14 points more Democratic than the nation this year, versus 10 points in 2012, 9 points in 2008, 6 points in 2004 and 2000. In the nine elections before that and after California passed New York to become the most populous state in 1963, the average of California’s Democratic and Republican percentages was never more than 5 points off the national figures. In four of the five elections between 1964 and 1980 (the exception was the McGovern year, 1972) it actually voted more Republican than the nation as a whole.


The case against abolition is one suggested by the Framers’ fears that voters in one large but highly atypical state could impose their will on a contrary-minded nation. That largest state in 1787 was Virginia, home of four of the first five presidents. New York and California, by remaining closely in line with national opinion up through 1996, made the issue moot.

California’s 21st century veer to the left makes it a live issue again. In a popular vote system, the voters of this geographically distant and culturally distinct state, whose contempt for heartland Christians resembles imperial London’s disdain for the “lesser breeds” it governed, could impose something like colonial rule over the rest of the nation. Sounds exactly like what the Framers strove to prevent.

Barone’s is an interesting, but somewhat abstract, analysis. A look at how the votes played out in real time in New York helps explain in concrete terms how doing away with the Electoral College means that the United States will be governed by the hard-Left coastal cities, plus Chicago:

There are 3,141 counties in the United States.

Trump won 3,084 of them.
Clinton won 57.

There are 62 counties in New York State.

Trump won 46 of them.
Clinton won 16.

Clinton won the popular vote by approx. 1.5 million votes.

In the 5 counties that encompass NYC, (Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Richmond & Queens) Clinton received well over 2 million more votes than Trump. (Clinton only won 4 of these counties; Trump won Richmond)

Therefore these 5 counties alone, more than accounted for Clinton winning the popular vote of the entire country.

These 5 counties comprise 319 square miles.
The United States is comprised of 3, 797,000 square miles.

When you have a country that encompasses almost 4 million square miles of territory, it would be ludicrous to even suggest that the vote of those who inhabit a mere 319 square miles should dictate the outcome of a national election.

Large, densely populated Democrat cities (NYC, Chicago, LA, etc) don’t and shouldn’t speak for the rest of our country.

And California’s arrogance to the contrary, while it would probably be fine for America if California left (as many are now threatening to do), it’s doubtful whether it would be good for California.

Bernie has a rare moment of insight. Despite having sold out in a huge way to Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders still sees himself as an iconoclast who is separate from the mainstream Democrat party. So it was that, when he spoke in San Rafael, he was able to break away from the Progressives’ obsessive efforts to shift blame away from themselves and place it on climate change, the Electoral College, racism, bigotry, cheating, and anything that strikes their fancy. Bernie “the sellout” Sanders, however, called it:

He said he doesn’t believe that all of the people who voted for Trump are racists or sexists or homophobes.

“I don’t believe that at all,” Sanders said. “I think a lot of people ended up holding their noses and voting for Trump because they are in pain.”


“There are a lot of people in our country who are hurting and they are hurting very, very badly,” Sanders said.” The political establishment is not hearing their pain; the financial and economic establishment could care less about their lives; and the media establishment is not dealing with the reality of their lives; and along comes Mr. Trump.”

Sadly, Bernie, being the blockhead he is, doesn’t understand that his prescription of more government is like adding strychnine to the medicine of someone already suffering from arsenic poisoning. If you want to weaken the elites’ hold, disentangle them from government and start giving everyone, not just the cronies, a fair chance.

Daniel Greenfield draws the right lessons from the election. Daniel Greenfield is blessedly unlike Blockhead Bernie. He’s taken a good, hard look at Trump’s victory and come up with five lessons future conservative candidates would do well to learn. I’ll quote here the first lesson. You’ll have to go to Greenfield’s website to learn the others:

1. Find Your Natural Base

The GOP is ashamed of its base. It doesn’t like being associated with the very voters who made 2016 happen. Its autopsy last time around searched for ways to leave the white working class behind.

There’s a party that did that. Their symbol is a jackass. They just lost big because they ran out of working class white voters.

The Democrats have tried to manufacture their base using immigration, victimhood politics and identity politics. The GOP has wasted far too much time trying to compete on the same playing field while neglecting its base. Trump won by doing what the GOP could have done all along if its leadership hadn’t been too ashamed to talk to people it considered low class because they shop at WalMart.

The GOP wanted a better image. It cringed at Trump’s red caps and his rallies. And they worked.

Trump won because he found the neglected base of working class white voters who had been left behind. He didn’t care about looking uncool by courting them. Instead he threw himself into it.

That’s why McCain and Romney lost. It’s why Bush and Trump won.

The GOP is not the cool party. It’s never going to be. It’s the party of the people who have been shut out, stepped on and kicked around by the cool people. Trump understood that. The GOP didn’t.

The GOP’s urban elites would like to create an imaginary cool party that would be just like the Democrats, but with fiscally conservative principles. That party can’t and won’t exist.

You can run with the base you have. Or you can lose.

Trump’s tweets blow up the palace guard. I realized after the Taiwan phone call that Trump’s tweets are not just the outbursts of a hypersensitive narcissist. They are, instead, a very carefully calculated effort to get his message directly to the voters without having a hostile media misquote them, take them out of context, or ignore them.

In this way, Americans can make their own decisions about Jimmy Carter’s decision in 1979 to dance to China’s tune, following Nixon’s lead in favoring a totalitarian state over a free democracy. I’m with Walter Russell Mead that Trump’s on the right track. Oh, and I’m also with Marc Thiessen, who thinks as Mead and I do.

The media, of course, thinks that anything Trump does that doesn’t follow in Obama’s footsteps is a terrible, stupid, dangerous idea. To this end, the media actually helps Trump by reprinting the tweets in their entirety, thereby reaching those Americans who, for whatever reason, don’t tweet. Hermetically-sealed “journalists” think the tweets reveal that Trump is stupid but ordinary people, those who don’t live in the Progressive bubble, read the tweets and think it’s the journalists who are stupid.

I’m not the only one thinking this. So is Dick Cheney:

I think one of the reasons people get so concerned about the tweets is it is sort of a way around the press. He doesn’t have to rely upon, uh, rely upon — this is the modern era, modern technology. He’s at the point where we don’t need you guys anymore.

And for the people in the media who don’t understand the Constitution (that would be almost everyone), let me explain: As long as Trump doesn’t pass laws shutting down the media, or engage in acts that deprive reporters of their civil rights, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with him treating the American media with the contempt it deserves.

Anderson Cooper has a journalistic moment. I don’t know if Cooper is changing because there’s a new sheriff in town or if Elizabeth Warren’s blatant lies were too much for the small sliver of journalism that still resides somewhere in his soul. What I do know is that Cooper took Warren strongly to task for accusing Stephen Bannon of being a white supremacist. As he pointed out, there is no evidence to support this.

Kudos to Cooper and haven’t I been telling you for years that Warren is as dumb as a post? It’s fitting that she and Bernie, two antiquated, stupid Leftists, both lusting for power, are the face of the modern Democrat party.

Even Victor Davis Hanson can get muddled sometimes, this time about fascism. There are few political writers I honor and respect more than Victor Davis Hanson. His mastery of facts and his ability to synthesis vastly different bodies of information into compelling, coherent wholes makes him one of the best conservatives spokesmen around. But even brilliant thinkers can err and I think VDH did when he made an argument that Hitler was right-wing while Stalin was left-wing. The problem, of course, is that he’s relying upon out-dated, meaningless terms.

“Right wing” and “Left wing” refer to France, back in 1789, when Louis XVI’s supporters in the National Assembly sat on the president’s right and the revolutionaries to his left. We are not in France in 1789. Moreover, that archaic division ignores the fact that both the left and the right in France were totalitarian in nature. Both wanted complete control; they just had different visions about the nature of that control.

There are in this world only two types of political systems: Those that vest more power in the state (statists) and those that vest less power in the state (individualists). Everything, no matter the name given, falls along that continuum.

Both Hitler and Stalin were on the statist side . . . far, far on the statist side. The fundamental difference between the two was that Stalin explicitly nationalized all private ownership, while Hitler retained private ownership provided that the state exercised final control over it.

Although the poster below refers to Communism versus Democratic Socialism, it could just as easily describe the difference between Communism and Fascism (or, as I call it when we see it in America, Crony Fascism):


On the hardcore statist side, two bad things invariably merge: the governments’ inability to view its citizens as individuals with hopes, dreams, loves, hates, and souls, and the statist leadership’s increasing grandiose delusions and paranoia. Hitler and Stalin both went after their own people vigorously.

The only reason Hitler got the headlines is that he tried to bring all of Europe under his control. Had he been more discreet, as Stalin was in the Ukraine or in the gulags (or as Mao was in his closed kingdom) his fascist state could have still been going well into the 1980s.

Trump is a grandiose person, but so far he’s shown no signs of statism. Yes, he bullied Carrier a bit, but I see that as an opening salvo in a nationwide push for tax reductions — and do keep in mind that the ultimate sign of a free citizenry is freedom from onerous taxes.

Statists believe all the money is theirs and that they just let you borrow it until they demand it back at the point of a gun. Individualists understand that the money is yours and that they have to prove that they’re taking it for your benefit, not theirs, and that they won’t waste or abuse it when they have it.

Most importantly (to me, at least), as long as Trump supports the Second Amendment, I’m not worried. Statists disarm the people, whom they invariably view as a hostile force intent on re-taking the power the statist stole from people. Individualists do not fear their people and allow them to be armed. I could write more, but this is a round-up, so I’ll give it a rest.

Leftists just refuse to believe that money belongs to people, not government. A perfect illustration of my point about the Leftist belief that the government just loans money to people comes from Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), who thinks it’s just like, you know, totally unfair that people who receive welfare should be getting drug-tested. I happen to think it’s completely fair because I know, from my friend who lives amongst the welfare classes, that the people she knows have no intention of working (or working much) and often use their welfare benefits to barter for drugs. Frankly, I don’t think my hard-earned tax money should be used to support someone’s recreational drug habit.

That’s not what Moore thinks:

Her “Top 1% Accountability Act” would require anyone claiming itemized tax deductions of over $150,000 in a given year to submit a clean drug test. If a filer doesn’t submit a clean test within three months of filing, he won’t be able to take advantage of tax deductions like the mortgage interest deduction or health insurance tax breaks. Instead he would have to make use of the standard deduction.

The only way that Moore can analogize someone getting something for nothing to someone being allowed to keep earned money without having the government use its police power to take it away is if she fundamentally doesn’t believe in private ownership. To her, it’s fascism all the way down:  Just as was true in Italy, Spain, and Germany, she believes that all money is government money, and it’s just because America’s a nice (or, she probably thinks, stupid) place that certain people get the pretense of controlling the product of their own labor or ingenuity (or good fortune).

Deracinating Jews. There is a bizarre and very fierce debate going on amongst the Left asking whether Jews are white or not. It started at HuffPo (of course), when Sarah Ruiz-Grossman, a HuffPo Associate Editor, published an article insisting that “White Jews Have A Duty To Stand With Muslims And People Of Color.”

White Jews? Is that like George Zimmerman, the “white Hispanic?” You know that once the Left starts throwing around words such as “black” or “white,” especially with hyphens involved, that someone is eventually going to get killed. Ruiz-Grossman also pretends that antisemitism in America is new and that the only way to beat it back is for white (i.e., “privileged” and “racist”) Jews to show obeisance to Muslims and skin-color designated victim groups.

Micha Danzig, writing at Forward, a Leftist Jewish magazine, properly takes her to task for her pretense that antisemitism in America is new (and her implication that it’s the Jews’ fault for not bowing low enough to their religious and racial superiors):

Anti-Semitism in the United States, however, did not begin with the start of the 2016 presidential campaign. Incredibly, it appears that despite Ruiz-Grossman’s apparent concern about anti-Semitism in America, she has been unaware that since the FBI began tracking hate crime data in 1992, far more than 60% of all hate crimes based on religious affiliation in the USA targeted Jews. Between 2003 and 2014 (well before the relatively recent rise in prominence of the odious alt-right), 65% of all violent hate crimes in the USA were committed against Jews, who constitute less than 2% of the population.

While much of the American press may suddenly be interested in anti-Semitism, Jews have sadly been the most targeted religious group in America for over two decades (at least). While Ruiz-Grossman asserts that Jews have been skating by on their “privilege” for years (apparently), during the decade following 9/11, 66% of all attacks based on religious affiliation were committed against Jews, while hate crimes against Muslims during that same time period averaged 12.1%. Incredibly, in the same paragraph where she claims that Jews are protected from hate by their “skin privilege,” Ruiz-Grossman clearly makes allowances (as she should) for Muslim women who “choose to wear the hijab” while she is seemingly being oblivious to the fact that approximately a million Jews in America also “choose” to wear religious garb.

Ruiz-Grossman’s self-described “call to arms” also apparently disregards the long history of Jews in America standing with the victims of racism and bigotry and against those who attack people on the basis of their race, religion or ethnicity.

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Danzig then tackles the question of whether Jews are “white.” His is a scholarly analysis and, indeed, a historically interesting one. It’s also disgusting that he engages in it. Only Leftists would still be mucking about with the whole one drop of blood or quadroon and mulatto theories of race.

Sadly, Danzig is not alone. The Atlantic, another Leftist publication, has jumped into the fray. Emma Green tries to examine whether Jews are white, not by looking at what Jews need to do for Muslims and “People of Color,” but by seeing whether the Alt-Right is for or against Jews. (I know, I know. It gets crazy when you have Leftists trying to analyze how many different racial characterizations can be stuck onto the head of a pin.) Again, as with Danzig, Green offers a nice history lesson, but I still find it disgusting that Democrats are as color obsessed today as they were in 1859 or 1955.

Here’s the deal: I am an American of Jewish descent and with a strong Jewish cultural identity. I’m also an American of Polish, Russian, Hungarian, Ashkenazi, Sephardic, Scandinavian, German, French, and God alone knows what else descent. I happen to have a very low melanin content in my skin. I’m usually kind of ivory, but when I get sick I turn yellow or green, and when I get sunburned, I’m a pretty bright red. I never define myself by my color especially because, with those color changes, I’d be like the gender warriors, constantly making it up as I go along.

When asked my race, I say American. When asked my culture, I might say American, Jewish, vaguely European, Upper Middle Class, Conservative, Californian, Texan — all the things that have integrated themselves into the person I am.

I am a fully integrated person and proud to be an American. I am not a skin color.

If you’re wondering how people grow up to be racist Progressives, obsessed by skin color and victimhood. . . . looking no further than this slim volume: Nursery Rhymes for Social Good: Alternative Poems for Future Activists. Honestly, this kind of stuff is as bad as the grim, didactic Evangelical fodder that characterized learning in the early Victorian era (think Charlotte Bronte):

Little Bo Peep is losing her sleep.
She can’t afford to live well.
It’s oft’ not enough to work ‘n be tough.
That’s a myth that we all must dispel.

If giv’n a chance, she can advance.
Please let her buy some land.
With options and rights and access to lights,
On her own two feet, she’ll stand.

The real question is whether it’s child abuse to read this to your little ones.

Boycott companies that boycott you first. Kellogg’s isn’t the only company boycotting half of America; it’s just the biggest and most famous. There’s a whole (and growing) list of them. As of now, there are a 144 businesses that are making it clear that they don’t want your business. You can keep track of that list here, and make your shopping decisions accordingly.

In a deservedly lauded post, Virgil tells you everything you want to know about how hard Left corporate America is (the leaders come out of the colleges that are propaganda mills for Leftism) and how the boycott technique is old hat to these Leftists. It’s a long article, but you won’t regret the time you spend reading it.

When you’re finished reading Virgil’s treatise, you’ll know exactly what corporate America is trying to do. You will then enthusiastically walk away from corporations perverting the marketplace by putting their hard Left ideology between themselves and the average American. They need to be destroyed and a strong customer boycott (i.e., “boycotting the boycotters”) is the way to do it.

Speaking of the propaganda mills rejoicing under the misnomer of “university” . . . a Canadian professor has done a long interview about the way in which these anti-universal institutions lie to their students, using the whole gender theory madness as his starting point:

Part of the reason I got embroiled in this [gender identity] controversy was because of what I know about how things went wrong in the Soviet Union. Many of the doctrines that underlie the legislation that I’ve been objecting to share structural similarities with the Marxist ideas that drove Soviet Communism. The thing I object to the most was the insistence that people use these made up words like ‘xe’ and ‘xer’ that are the construction of authoritarians. There isn’t a hope in hell that I’m going to use their language, because I know where that leads.

There have been lots of cases where free speech has come under attack, why did you choose this particular issue?

This is very compelled speech. The Supreme Court in the United States has held that compelled speech is unacceptable for two reasons. One is to protect the rights of the speaker, the other is to protect the rights of the listener. The listener has the right to be informed and instructed without being unduly influenced by hidden sources. If your speech is compelled, it isn’t YOU who is talking, it’s some other entity that’s compelling your speech. So I actually think that Bill C-16 is unconstitutional. I’m using American case law, but the principles apply. It just hasn’t been pushed to our Supreme Court yet.

For me this became an issue because there is not a chance I’ll use radical, authoritarian language. I’ve studied this psychologically, and I know what it does.

I continue to hope that the second thing Trump does is withdraw all federal money from universities and colleges — or that he at least starts with those colleges and universities refusing to comply with America’s long-time immigration laws. (The first thing I want him to do is reverse Kennedy’s executive order creating public sector unions.)

To the extent American colleges and universities are becoming PC prisons, in which behavior is ruthlessly controlled, perhaps the college kids will finally rebel. So far, though, they’re just sheep.

It doesn’t help these poor little sheep, of course, that their classes and their culture are compounded of lies and out-and-out brainwashing. A rebellion means you recognize you’re being abused and see an alternative that’s better for you. These kids are force-fed so much Kool-Aid that most of them have no idea that there’s another, much better, way to view the world.

Is the faux Gaines controversy a bridge too far? Chip and Joanna Gaines have an HGTV show about fixing up houses. Their show is completely non-religious. The problem for the Left is that the Gaines’ are religious. And while they’ve never mentioned their religion or gays, their pastor doesn’t believe in gay marriage. So the Left is out to destroy them.

Megan McArdle thinks that the Progressives’ efforts to coerce conservatives will ultimately fail. I think so too, although innumerable lives will be ruined along the way. McArdle also recognizes that this all-out war against faith and conservativism as one of the reasons that Trump won:

Buzzfeed had no evidence that the Gaines family was discriminating. (It is true that they have not featured any gay couples on their show, but they live in Waco, Texas; how many gay couples had applied?) They had not, as Mozilla’s Brendan Eich did, donated to an anti-gay-marriage campaign. The entire substance of the article is: “They attend a church where the pastor espouses something I find reprehensible.”

What message does this send? “Sure, the government won’t actually shut your church down. But the left will use its positions of institutional power to try to hound anyone who attends that church from public life. You can believe whatever you want — but if we catch you, or if we even catch you in proximity to people who believe it, we will threaten your livelihood.”

I’ve heard from a number of evangelicals who, despite their reservations about the man, ended up voting for Donald Trump because they fear that the left is out to build a world where it will not be possible to hold any prominent job while holding onto their church’s beliefs about sexuality. Discussions I’ve had in recent days with nice, well-meaning progressives suggest that this is not a paranoid fantasy. An online publisher’s witch hunt against two television personalities — because of the church they attend — validates the fears of these Christians.

It would all be so much better if the Left could learn to argue as C.S. Lewis did, without personal attacks. But of course, if they argued that way, they wouldn’t be Leftists.

Stop breaking the damn laws!!!  In Rochester, New York, Mayor Lovely Warren wants to do away with red light cameras, even though there’s statistical data showing that they do save lives. The reason is that “People of More Melanin” trigger those color-blind cameras more often than do “People of Less Melanin.”  Because the “People of More Melanin” tend to be poorer than “People of Less Melanin”, Warren thinks it’s unfair to charge the former for their (excessive) moving violations.

You know what I think? I think Warren should tell the red-light runners that, if they obeyed the law, they’d save money. And maybe they could use that saved money, not to mention the discipline that comes with being law abiding, to elevate themselves into a better economic class. That’s what I think.

Of course, it’s hard to preach lawful behavior when the lawlessness goes all the way up. Heartened by Obama’s blatant disregard for immigration laws, Progressive cities have doubled down on their insistence that they can be sanctuary cities, flouting immigration laws without consequence.  I dearly hope that Trump reams them with some good old-fashioned consequence.

I’d like Trump to withdraw all federal funds from those cities and then arrest the mayors, supervisors, town councils, police chiefs, sheriffs, and anyone else involved in flagrantly violating constitutional laws. Bankruptcy would be a lovely thing for arrogant scofflaw cities such as San Francisco and New York.

Something always fills the vacuum that morality once occupiedProgressives are determined to turn America into a post-moral country. You know what happens to post-moral countries? This:

Incest is still society’s deepest-rooted sexual taboo, mainly because the word is so often associated with rape and inbreeding. But consensual incest exists, and cases like Melissa’s — who discovered Lisa, a personal trainer, was her biological mother only after the West Coasters had started dating — pose their own host of ethical dilemmas, including some we may finally be ready to discuss.

It wasn’t that long ago when homosexuality and sadomasochism were also considered taboo. These days, though, Hollywood’s offerings are packed with homoerotic imagery and commuters are happy to crack open a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey on the morning train to the office. So if pop culture is anything to go by (and when isn’t it?), there are some signs that romantic love between family members is slowly becoming less socially outrageous. Look no further than HBO’s Game of Thrones — which explicitly portrays sex between a brother and sister — or scenes of a mother and son going at it in Boardwalk Empire.