Sunday, February 26, 2017

Sunday roundup

The Coptic Christians of Egypt comprise the Middle East's largest community of Christians. ISIS is ruthlessly targeting them and driving them out of Sinai.

Tom Perez edged out Keith Ellison to be the new DNC chair. They get the latter's identity-politics obsession, but with an Establishment face.

A young woman in Texas gets an athletic title she doesn't deserve.  The Chicago Tribune's story about it has a glaring inaccuracy six words into the first sentence:

A 17-year-old transgender boy completed an undefeated season Saturday by winning a controversial Texas state girls wrestling title in an event clouded by criticism from those who believe the testosterone he's taking as he transitions from female to male created an unfair advantage.
The family of Mack Beggs has said he would rather be wrestling boys, but state policy calls for students to wrestle against the gender listed on their birth certificates. So the junior from Euless Trinity beat Chelsea Sanchez 12-2 in the 110-pound weight class to improve to 56-0 and earn the championship.
Speaking of people deeply confused about who they are, Rachel Dolezal's fortunes are not exactly on the uptick:

Former NAACP branch president Rachel Dolezal, who lied about being black but still identifies as black, is now jobless, living on food stamps and expects to lose her home next month.
“There’s no protected class for me,” the former NAACP branch president told The Guardian. “I’m this generic, ambiguous scapegoat for white people to call me a race traitor and take out their hostility on. And I’m a target for anger and pain about white people from the black community. It’s like I am the worst of all these worlds.”
Dolezal has applied for over 100 jobs, but has received no offers, even from a supermarket. She has, however, been offered work in porn and reality TV. While a friend helped pay her rent for February, Dolezal expects she’ll lose her home next month.

Chicago names a section of roadway after FALN terrorist Oscar Lopez-Rivera.




When the Right no longer expects people to behave like grownups

I generally don't have a lot of use for Pete Wehner. His brand of punditry has tended to support that political mindset I call Reasonable Gentleman Syndrome - which gave us such tepid recent presidential candidates as John McCain (who thought it was important to stress that Democrats "are not our enemies") and Mitt Romney (who was fine with the minimum wage, swallowed the hooey about the global climate being in some kind of trouble, and of course, injected socialism into the Massachusetts health-care system).

So I'm in a position of being surprised at myself for resonating as I do with what he has to say in a column today about Trump's impact on conservatism.

And, granted, there's a valid case to be made along the lines of, "Well, Pete, it's a little rich that you are just now so concerned about the health of the movement."

But he is correct about this:

I understand that the pull of partisanship is strong. But such justifications ultimately underscore the moral and intellectual decay that has spread as a result of Trump and Trumpism. Many people on the right, in choosing to support Trump over Hillary Clinton, began to accommodate themselves to their decision. They began the process of normalizing Trump, and normalization is now giving way to loyalty. They are now following his lead. What they once found unacceptable is increasingly tolerable. Donald Trump is now steering this ship, so why not relax and come along for the wild ride?
A redefinition of the Republican Party and conservatism, then, is well underway. That was clear from CPAC, where Trump and Bannon were dominant and even celebrated figures. (Arguing that Trump’s effort to refashion conservatism is a worrisome thing doesn’t mean that he won’t make good selections and do good things from time to time. Both can happen at once; and he knows the latter will help him achieve the former.)
Events, including the new administration's own ratio of competence to incompetence, will ultimately determine how successful Trump and his aides, including Steve Bannon and Steve Miller, are in realizing their ambitions. In the meantime, some of us will continue to resist their efforts to transform conservatism into an ethno-nationalist, blood-and-soil movement, one animated by grievances and a Nietzschean ethic. And those on the right who are making their accommodation with Trump might reflect for a moment on the words of Edmund Burke, who wrote that certain means, once tolerated, are soon preferred.
This is something I've given a great deal of thought to lately. In addition to the three pillars that constitute conservatism's principles, it is - or has been, anyway - the ideology that venerates decorum.  It has assumed that serious people are going to comport themselves with dignity, and that they are going to respect themselves enough to strive for clarity and consistency in their words and actions.

And the glossing-over of Trump's extremely problematic traits - and those of his core supporters (the all-caps crowd) - has been the most disturbing aspect of the Trump phenomenon for me.

And per Burke, I don't see how we put the genie back in the bottle. That is why this is still post-America and it is still late in the day.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Spontaneous outbursts of outrage?

More like highly orchestrated strategy:

A group serving as a central hub of information for congressional town halls was founded by a former Hillary Clinton campaign staffer and its parent company is located at the same address as an organization funded by liberal billionaire George Soros.
Democrats have insisted that recent town hall outbursts against Republican politicians occurred organically, likening them to the Tea Party, while President Donald Trump yesterday tweeted that the "so-called angry crowds in home districts of some Republicans are actually, in numerous occasions, planned out by liberal activists. Sad!"
The Town Hall Project, a group that serves as a one-stop shop of information for town hall protests across the country, is connected to a former Clinton staffer and is also closely affiliated with a number of liberal groups.
The group, which has been referenced by media outlets on numerous occasions, bills itself as a "volunteer-powered, grassroots effort that empowers constituents across the country to have face-to-face conversations with their elected representatives."

Jimmy Dahman, a former field organizer for the Clinton campaign in Iowa, founded the Town Hall Project. Dahman claimed on CNN that the town hall events are "all organic and happening at the grassroots level."

Dahman's group is closely involved with MoveOn.org, a major progressive activist group that recently launched a website, called ResistanceRecess.com, to encourage activists to attend town hall events.

The Town Hall Project's parent company is The Action Network, which was involved in demonstrations against Walmart and the protests in Ferguson.
The Action Network's board of directors includes Mark Fleischman, a former vice president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU); Brian Young, who worked on campaigns for Howard Dean and John Kerry; Jeffrey Dugas, who worked for John Podesta's Center for American Progress and Elizabeth Warren's 2012 Senate campaign; and Rich Clayton, who worked for the SEIU and the shareholder activism arm of Change to Win, a labor group that describes itself as a "strategic organizing center."

The Action Network is located at the same Washington, D.C., address as United We Dream, the "largest immigrant youth-led organization in the nation." United We Dream has received funding from liberal billionaire George Soros. It began organizing "sanctuary campus" anti-Trump protests shortly after the election.

The Action Network also shares the same address as Change to Win, the labor organizing group.

Change to Win's leadership council is chaired by James P. Hoffa, president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Its secretary is Mary Kay Henry, president of the SEIU.

The Town Hall Project's website refers readers to the Indivisible Guide, a "practical guide for resisting the Trump agenda." The guide includes information on how to "organize local groups to fight for your congressional district" and "four local advocacy tactics that actually work."
A Town Hall Project spokesman told the Washington Free Beacon that the Action Network is a service used to manage their list of volunteers and supporters and that the group would never pay any person to attend a town hall. They added that anyone is free to use their services. 
Of course, it does get the artsy feminists and climate-change Kool-Aid-guzzling barista types all flush with throbs of solidarity, but these tactics do not originate with them.


The relentless goose-step of the faith-hating jackboots - today's edition

Behold the other side in the war for America's soul:

Liberal protesters became enraged when a Louisiana town hall with Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy opened with a prayer earlier this week, screaming at the chaplain as he tried to lead the crowd in prayer.
The protesters, who were there with a local chapter of anti-Trump group Indivisible, can be heard groaning and shouting as the chaplain says, “In God we trust.” One man can be heard saying, “Pray on your own time!” Others shouted incredulously, “Prayer? Prayer?”
Video of the event, first reported by The Washington Free Beacon, reveals one woman shouting the name “Lucifer” while the chaplain invokes God’s name. Other, non-protesting attendees can be heard trying to shush the protesters.
Protesters can be heard shouting about “separation of church and state” throughout the prayer. They became especially furious when the chaplain closed the prayer “in Jesus’s name.”


Let's pray real hard for them. I can't think of anyone who needs it more.

And this just in from Ohio:

An LGBT organization in Ohio has announced plans to target churches if they refuse to offer their property to be used in a homosexual wedding. In opposing the Ohio Pastors Protection Act (HB-36), the group Equality Ohio announced that they would target churches, forcing them to rent church facilities to groups which oppose that church's beliefs. This despite the fact that all the Roman Catholic bishops in Ohio support the bill, and Catholics make up approximately 20 percent of the state's population.
When asked "if a church community has a church hall that they rent to couples who want to have that wedding reception in that hall ... should that church hall and church community be forced to rent that to someone who wants to use that building for something that's against that church community's belief system," an Equality Ohio spokeswoman said, "Sure, I would say that if that space is open and generally available to the public for a fee, yes that should be available to everyone."
This statement may seem innocent enough, but to Representative Nino Vitale (R-Urbana), the author of HB-36, it is a declaration of war. "If you have property rights and religious freedom, shouldn't you have religious freedom, at least on your own property?" Vitale asked in an interview with PJ Media.
Specifically, Vitale suggested that the ACLU of Ohio, which he described as "a large cash cow organization that exists to sue people," and which opposed the Ohio Pastors Protection Act last year, would target churches if HB-36 does not pass. "That's what they aim to do," he explained.
It is that late in the day.


Friday, February 24, 2017

This is a cool move

Why didn't somebody think of this before?

President Donald Trump has signed an executive order to put regulatory watchdogs in each federal agency.
The order, titled "Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda," will require that all regulations be examined and evaluated to determine if they are actually necessary. The goal is to change and eliminate any overbearing regulations. The regulations will be examined by a task force created by the agency.
Well, we know why it didn't happen during the eight years in which the Most Equal Comrade had his grip on the nation's throat, but it was needed even years before that.
 

What's really involved in repealing and replacing the "A"CA

I'm well aware of the growing frustration on the Right concerning the fact that there's no real action yet in Congress regarding repeal-and-replace. While I understand the challenges - only Medicaid expansion, subsidies and the law's taxation component and be dealt with via reconciliation, while the matter of who gets what kind of coverage will require 60 votes in the Senate - they are not insurmountable and the majority of the public that loathes the "A"CA knows that.

Are vulnerable centrist Democrat Senators from red states being targeted with appropriately strong persuasion? Is requisite leverage being brought to bear on Lisa Murkowski, the Alaska "Republican" who says she'll give a thumbs down to any plan that does not keep Medicaid expansion and funding for Planned Parenthood?

More basically, do Republicans on Capitol Hill understand that this is probably the best issue on which to assert itself as a co-equal branch of government? The Trump administration is well aware of how much it can do via executive order and is poised to seize the initiative if Congress doesn't act soon.

In short, where's the sense of being fired up?

This is probably the peak moment of goodwill and unity on the Right. It's not a very big window of opportunity, and the mood can quickly devolve into cynicism and bitterness. This has been item number one on the conservative wish list since 2009, and excuses at a time of majorities in both houses and a Republican administration will rightly be seen as illegitimate and cowardly.


UPDATE: This is encouraging:

A leaked draft of a House bill to repeal and replace Obamacare fills in important new details of how Republicans would remake the healthcare law.
The discussion draft envisions phasing out big parts of the Affordable Care Act by 2020, including rolling back its Medicaid expansion and switching its insurance subsidies from income-based to age-based.
It also seeks to ease regulations on insurers, eliminating the federal list of essential health benefits they must cover and directing states to write the rules instead. It allows insurers to charge older people up to five times what they charge younger people, instead of just three times. And while it gets rid of the law's mandates to buy coverage, it says insurers may charge consumers 30 percent more in premiums if they don't maintain continuous coverage.
Republicans already had outlined many of the draft's main provisions, including its expansion of tax-free health savings accounts, restrictions on subsidies for plans covering abortion services and repeal of the healthcare law's taxes.
Now, get out there and sell it.


Talk about playing for keeps . . .

If they'll do this  . . .

Just how badly did Kim Jong-un want to kill his older half-brother? So badly, Malaysia police now say, that he was willing to kill a whole lot more people in a busy international airport to get it done. Authorities now have to decontaminate their main airport in Kuala Lampur after the toxicology on Kim Jong-nam’s body indicated that assassins used the deadly — and generally banned — nerve agent VX to kill him nearly two weeks ago . . . 

This wasn't a BB gun attack.

It’s one of the deadliest poisons known to man, if not the deadliest. It is considered a weapon of mass destruction, and its manufacture is outlawed by the Chemical Weapons Convention — a treaty that North Korea has never signed. Pyongyang insists it has no chemical weapons, but this pretty clearly shows they do. Estimates of their stockpiles run into the thousands of tons, including VX, and it didn’t take much to pull off this assassination. Seoul believes the rest of it might be intended to put in missiles to rain down on their heads if the war starts up again.
So how did the assassins escape its ill effects? According to the police chief, one of them didn’t; she began vomiting at some point, either in custody or before her capture. VX has an antidote too, an injectable that US troops carry on the battlefield when the threat of chemical warfare exists, and it’s possible that the two assassins took the antidote at the same time they put the agent on their hands or immediately afterward. 
This is quickly moving to the fore among threats to basic world order.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Big donors to university programs: notice what they don't fund

Naomi Schaefer Riley has a piece today at The Weekly Standard in which she says that the country's really big donors to higher-learning insitutions - Nike co-founder Phil Knight, Michael Bloomberg, Larry Ellison, Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen - tend to target scientific-research programs within those institutions.

Why?

Such largesse isn't necessarily an endorsement of the broader university. Philanthropists may see great potential for academic scientific research, but that doesn't translate into support for undergraduate teaching or liberal arts education.
There are reasons it is more attractive to give to scientific research endeavors, reasons beyond just that they are noble and interesting pursuits. For one, money spent on science and technology is more likely to produce measurable results than money spent on improving undergraduate education.
Consider the fate of philanthropists who try to change college curricula to include a more substantive core or more exposure to free-market economics, efforts that have regularly been met with backlash on campus. Who wants to get grief—as Lee Bass famously did with his grant to Yale—trying to figure out whether one's gift to support education in Western civilization is actually being used the way it was intended? Rare is the donor who is willing to take abuse, as the Koch brothers did in 2014 for giving money to the United Negro College Fund, and then make similar donations directed to historically black colleges, as Charles Koch did this January.
Most donors, even if they believe such efforts are useful, lack the stomach to get mired in university politics and bureaucracy. Giving their money to science-focused research centers, as opposed to a general fund or to nonscience faculty appointments, suggests that they know the rest of the university can be a sinkhole of ideology and mediocrity.
The hard-science laboratories and research centers, by contrast, are hotbeds of meritocracy. The cream rises to the top, and though the rest of the faculty and administration would like to drag them into the world of politics and protests, for the most part these researchers remain above the fray. But the faculty and staff of these research labs at universities are no more connected to the educational experience of undergraduates than are most schools' football teams.
Universities are eager to tout the large gifts they receive; it burnishes their brands. Indeed, when young people apply to college, prestige is often a consideration. The easiest way to measure prestige is often by looking at the success of advanced research in the hard sciences. Some college rankings include factors like the number of Nobel Prize winners a particular school employs. But how many of them are teaching Introduction to Chemistry, let alone French Lit 101?
It's not that most universities are starving when it comes to money for scholarships and general operating expenses. Charles Munger, vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway and number 7 on the Philanthropy 50, believes that housing is very important to the student experience, and so has pledged a small fortune to the University of California, Santa Barbara and the University of Michigan for dormitories. Austin Marxe is supporting scholarships to the City University of New York, his alma mater. But very few donors are interested in supporting race and gender studies or in funding social activism on campus.
Most philanthropists would rather say they helped to fund a cure for cancer. And who can blame them? ¨ 
And I suspect that they know that even by supporting disciplines that ostensibly uphold the foundations of  our civilization, such as the study of the English language and the literature crafted therefrom, they wind up supporting the identity-politics poison.

Who wants to think their money went for the likes of this?

The Writing Center at the University of Washington is telling students that expecting Americans to use proper grammar perpetuates racism.
A press release put out by the University of Washington’s Writing Center argues that “there is no inherent ‘standard’ of English,” and that pressure to conform to proper American grammar standards perpetuate systems of racism.
“Linguistic and writing research has shown clearly for many decades that there is no inherent ‘standard’ of English,” claims the writing center’s statement. “Language is constantly changing. These two facts make it very difficult to justify placing people in hierarchies or restricting opportunities and privileges because of the way people communicate in particular versions of English.”
The university’s Writing Center Director, Dr. Asoa Inoue, suggests that racism has produced certain unfair standards in education.
“It is a founding assumption that, if believed, one must act differently than we, the institution and its agents, have up to this point,” Inoue claimed. While overt racism is usually easily identified, more elusive are microaggressions, forms of degradation which manifest on a subconscious and casual level. As the statement reads “Racism is pervasive. It is in the systems, structures, rules, languages, expectations, and guidelines that make up our classes, school, and society.”
The university’s Vice Chancellor, Jill Purdy, claimed that the Writing Center’s new statement is a great example of how academia can fight back against racism. “Language is the bridge between ideas and action,” she claimed. “So how we use words has a lot of influence on what we think and do.” 
One could argue that, given their far lower level of funding, and the gradual realization among students that lefty preoccupations don't pave the way to solid career paths, such programs as writing centers and gender-studies departments will wither away. But two things about that:

One, the students who are attracted to such rot are clearly the ones driving administrative policy, as expressed by what goes on at campus student-life centers, such as the imposition of speech codes and sexual-consent training, and

Two, the passing along of the great canon of the works that have made the West what it is becomes a lost enterprise, and our society becomes even more juvenile, brittle, and vulnerable to collapse.


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Post-American snowflakes are just plain afraid of divine truth and the plainly apparent design of the universe around them - today's edition

Needing a safe space because a speaker came to campus to assert what was commonly acknowledged reality a mere ten years ago:

In response to a pastor invited to speak on campus about traditional marriage, progressive students opened a safe space for LGBT students to protect them from the “hate-mongering” going on in another room behind closed doors.
According to The College Fix, Rev. Jonathan Fisk was invited to the private Washington University in St. Louis on Monday evening by the Lutheran Student Fellowship to give a talk titled “The Original Diversity: Man & Woman in Christ.” Fisk’s speech covers the “goodness and importance of procreation and marriage between a man and a woman.” This prompted College Democrats to host counter protest titled “Nothing But Love: A Demonstration of Inclusion” which was “only open to LGBTQIA-identified and questioning Wash U students.” Fisk was also labeled “an unabashedly homophobic, ultra-conservative, transphobic, anti-choice fear monger” in a campus newspaper op-ed.
However, Rev. Fisk assured he wasn’t there to discuss homosexuality, but to stress the importance of traditional marriage and the dangers of its decline around the world. Fisk gave his speech in a closed room above the protests. While no one in the hall below could hear what the reverend was saying, the Lutheran students could certainly hear the singing and clapping from the protests below. 
It is so very late in the day.

Wednesday roundup

The new DoJ is going to do a 180 on the top-down-ism of the previous administration, and defer to states as to how to deal with young people whose mental problems consist of deep confusion about the equipment between their legs:


Justice Department officials plan to issue new guidance on protections for transgender students that will effectively reverse Obama-era recommendations and ensure those issues are decided at the state level going forward.
"That's an issue that the Department of Justice the Department of Education are addressing, and I think there will be further guidance coming from [Justice Department] in particular, with respect to not just the executive order but the case that's in front of the Supreme Court," White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Tuesday.
The Supreme Court is slated to hear oral arguments late next month on a case involving a transgender teen from Virginia who sued the local school board for the right to use the men's bathroom on campus despite being born a female. The debate over transgender "bathroom bills" gained increasing attention late last year after the Obama administration sent guidance to public schools saying they should allow transgender students to use whichever bathroom matches their gender identity.
"The president has maintained for a long time that this is a state's right issue and not one for the federal government," Spicer said when asked for Trump's position on the hot-button issue. "So while there will be further guidance coming out this, I think that all you need to do is look at what the president's view has been for a long time."
Nikki Haley continues to demonstrate that her current position is where she was destined to fully blossom as a beacon of world-affairs clarity:

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley ripped into the international body's "anti-Israel bias" last week, specifically denouncing the U.N. Security Council for criticizing the Jewish state while ignoring security threats in the Middle East.
"It is the U.N.'s anti-Israel bias that is long overdue for change," Haley said Thursday after her first Security Council meeting, which she described as "a bit strange." The meeting focused on Israel, Haley said, rather than on issues like Iran funding terrorists and how to defeat the Islamic State.
Haley reaffirmed the United States' support for the Jewish state and said Washington would not "turn a blind eye" to the U.N.'s "anti-Israel bias."
"I'm here to emphasize the United States is determined to stand up to the U.N.'s anti-Israel bias," Haley said before singling out Security Council resolutions focused on Israel as "outrageously biased."
"The double standards are breathtaking," Haley said. She then described how the Security Council blocked a statement condemning a terrorist attack in Israel during which terrorists shot and stabbed innocent people.
"That's downright shameful," she said of the council's inaction.
"The Security Council would not hesitate to condemn an attack like that in any other country," Haley said, "but not for Israel."
Today is the National Guard's deadline for the Dakota Pipeline protesters to clear out. The response: protestors torching their campsites.  Lots of pics at the Daily Mail link, including a dismaying shot of an expanse of debris over the rolling countryside.

Malaysia's list of suspects in the assassination of Kim Jong-nam, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un's estranged half-brother, continues to grow. So far, the Malaysian government is stopping short of a flat-out accusation of a plot by the Kim regime.

And bear in mind that a significant missile test occurred around the same time as the elder Kim's death:

On February 12, the day before Brother Nam's demise, Dictator Un put on another display. His regime launched a new missile, the Pukgukson-2 (Polaris-2). The technical specifics make this very bad news. Solid fuel propels the missile, which means it can be launched on short notice. A tracked transporter erector-launcher (TEL) fired the missile. This means the new missile is mobile. North Korea has few paved roads; a tracked TEL isn't road bound.
Moreover, it was cold-launched -- expelled from the TEL before main booster ignition. That indicates a submarine can fire the Polaris-2.
The Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance (MDAA) said the technical advances mean Kim Jong Un now possesses a highly capable ballistic missile.
Great Daily Wire post by the indispensable Ben Shapiro on how the theory held by some on the Left that Squirrel-Hair is playing 4-D chess is implausible:

What if there's no master plan?
What if Trump is finding his way, one step at a time, along a path that 43 other men have traveled, some more slowly than others? What if Trump isn't an ideologue or a philosopher -- and what if nobody around him is either? What if it's all just haphazard and chaotic, and what if we don't yet know what this administration will look like?
Is it possible that Trump is simply doing some good things and some bad things, and that he's saying silly things because that's what he does? Is it at all plausible that Trump is the president, not Steve Bannon or Kellyanne Conway or chief of staff Reince Priebus or anybody else, and that because Trump's an amateur at government he's unsure which way to step? Could it be that Trump isn't playing 4-D chess, that he's just a Wookie threatening to upend the board and rip his opponents' arms out of their sockets? He has been known to do that.
All of this is to say, let's all take a deep breath.
Here's the thing: Trump may not have a plan. He probably doesn't. Those around him probably have their own plans, but they're not the president. But you know who did have a plan? The people who constructed our constitutional system, placed checks and balances in that system and ensured that no one person could wield all power in American government. That means that even the presidency that begins most chaotically can find its sea legs, and even the presidencies that remain chaotic can't do too much damage.
So let's not panic. Everything's not chaos, even if it feels like it. 

Love those survey-of-the-current-landscape pieces with the optimistic endings.






Tuesday, February 21, 2017

And what we knew was going to happen is indeed happening

What Squirrel-Hair hath wrought is exactly what was foreseen by those of us who implored the general Right to keep sight of its basic three pillars, as well as the value of dignified bearing and clarity of thinking.

The general Right did not keep sight of these things, and now we are at our current juncture.

Nicole Hemmer at Politico, observing the phenomenon from the outside, I'm pretty sure, nonetheless nails it, in the course of an article on CPAC disinviting Milo Yiannopoulos:

With Trump in the White House and Republicans in control of Congress, conservatives have more political power today than they have had in a decade. Still, conservatism as a political movement is disintegrating, held together not by a shared commitment to ideas like democratic governance, stability or a distinct moral vision, but rather a desire for power. That makes for a movement whose boundaries are blurred beyond recognition and whose standards are impossible to detect. And that is a problem that no disinvitation can fix. 
Caleb Howe at RedState says that, while the rescinded invitation is not the stuff of America's dinner-table or cocktail-party conversations, it has reverberations that will indeed work their way into those environments:

 The CPAC fiasco is a sign of the times, and that sign says “Fractures Behind and Ahead.” The divisions in the conservative movement matter, and eventually they will affect things that do affect dinner table conversations across America where currently the keynote speakers at CPAC never come up. Where the conference itself is relatively obscure. Because this is only a symptom.
Yes, it can be frustrating reading blogs and social media and seeing people talking and fretting about the splits on “our”side, seeing former allies in opposition, and seeing the Republican party fail to come together (although you should note Trump’s historically high support among Republican voters). It’s tempting to scold people who lament or otherwise highlight the divisions and disharmony, or to blame their observations on insularity or bubbles or a million other things that are really just a way to dismiss the discord as unimportant or trivial, and be done with it. But you’re fooling yourself if you do.

I do like the optimistic tone with which he ends his post:

CPAC showed us all something this week that maybe they didn’t intend. It showed us that the lines haven’t been all the way crossed. They haven’t been entirely redrawn. The populists and the disruptors made their way in, but they didn’t take over. When someone is vile, we can reject them, even over the chorus of internet toughs crying about political correctness.
So even though it’s hard and even though the big break in conservative politics is still there and will still have to be faced, there are bright spots. I know a lot of RedState readers and community members see a bleak landscape when they look out the virtual window into the political world, but civilization remains. 
Just keep telling the truth. Just keep advocating for what is right and what you believe. Don’t be worn down. And don’t retreat. Go to CPAC. Be part of the conservative contingent at the event. It’s maybe not the loudest, maybe doesn’t get the camera time, but the group obviously still matters, and still has a voice. There is a future for the conservative movement.
Take heart. 

But it's going to take clarity and resolve. And the courage to call out former allies whose intake of Kool-Aid have clouded their vision.

A national security advisor ought to be an erudite warrior

So what do you all think of Lt. General H.R. MCMaster as the pick to be national security advisor?

Looks solid to me, at least at this point:

McMaster, 54, is the smartest and most capable military officer of his generation, one who has not only led American victories on the battlefields of the 1991 Gulf War and of the Iraq War, but also holds a Ph.D. in history. 
McMaster is, in short, both an accomplished doer and a deep thinker, a combination that should serve him well in the complex job of national security adviser.
When he was 34, he demonstrated a through understanding of the dynamics of the Johnson administration with regard to the Vietnam War:

A key to McMaster's thinking is his 1997 book, "Dereliction of Duty: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Lies that Led to Vietnam." Published two decades ago when McMaster was only a major, "Dereliction of Duty" caused something of a sensation in the US military because it took US military leaders to task for their dereliction of duty during the Vietnam War. 
McMaster painted a devastating picture of the Joint Chiefs, who told President Lyndon Johnson what he wanted to hear about how the Vietnam War was going. He described how they went along with Johnson's ill-considered attempt to find a middle ground between withdrawing from Vietnam and fighting a conventional war there that — divorced from on-the-ground realities -- had no chance of success. 
The Joint Chiefs never provided Johnson with useful military advice about what it might take to win the war, according to McMaster. 
Instead, they accepted Johnson's preference for what the President termed "graduated pressure" against the North Vietnamese. This took the form of a gradually escalating bombing campaign that did not bend the North Vietnamese to American will, and instead confused activity — bombing raids and body counts -- with progress on the battlefield.
The major problem Johnson and his military advisers had, McMaster found, is that they went to war in Vietnam without a strategy. He explained: "The war in Vietnam was not lost in the field, nor was it lost on the front pages of The New York Times or the college campuses. It was lost in Washington, D.C."
Later, in a 2013 New York Times piece, he brought that degree of insight to the faltering of US aims in Afghanistan and Iraq:

in his view the United States has too often believed its technological superiority will prevail on the battlefield when, in fact, it is political and human factors that often blunt American power.
McMaster wrote in his Times article "... in the years preceding our last two wars, thinking about defense undervalued the human as well as the political aspects of war. Although combat operations unseated the Taliban and the Saddam Hussein regime, a poor understanding of the recent histories of the Afghan and Iraqi peoples undermined efforts to consolidate early battlefield gains into lasting security."
This is an important lesson to remember as the United States and its allies continue to increase pressure on ISIS. The Sunni militants that make up ISIS are not the underlying problem in Syria and Iraq, but rather they are a symptom of other deeper problems. McMaster knows that there surely will be a "son of ISIS" and a "grandson of ISIS" if there is not some kind of political solution to the wars in Syria and Iraq that produced ISIS in the first place.
He also has a track record of getting results on the battlefield:

In the Gulf War then-Capt. McMaster led a US tank troop in the Battle of 73 Easting on February 26 1991. McMaster's armored forces, acting as scouts, suddenly encountered a large force of the Iraqi army. In a 2014 interview with National Geographic Television, McMaster recalled, "I can see the enemy with the naked eye. I mean, they're at very close range."
In a battle that lasted only 23 minutes, McMaster's force destroyed an astonishing 28 Iraqi tanks, 16 personnel carriers and more than 30 trucks. 
In this age in which any and all information about someone is instantly available, we shall no doubt learn more about him soon. While the remote possibility that something glaringly inconsistent with the above portrait may merge exists, it seems more likely that he'll still be shown to be the kind of guy who will ensure that this position is in good hands.


 
 


Monday, February 20, 2017

Two diametrically opposite views of Milo - from the Right

I'm getting a little concerned about Bookworm lately. When I first discovered her, I became an immediate enthusiast. Great writer, someone who thoroughly thought through anything she chose to blog about, compelling personal story (lifelong Bay Area resident and lifelong left-leaner until a conversion experience some time in the early part of this century, secular Jew increasingly drawn to specifically scriptural principles, parents with World War II experiences that are worthy of cinematic treatment). She championed what ought to be championed, and lit into the Left with appropriate ire.

And during last year's primaries, she was forthrightly for Ted Cruz, which was my stance.

But, after that fateful May night in Indianapolis, something happened. She went full-in for the it's-now-a-bninary-choice position. Per se, that was a position with lots of validity, as long as one did not waver from an unqualified acknowledgement of just what an unfit mess Donald Trump was. This was not how she proceeded. She actually warmed to the guy, began to find laudable traits.

And since his election victory, she has similarly warmed to those in his camp.

I don't get it. Not at all.

Especially given the fact that she went on the post-election National Review cruise and attended panel discussions, speeches and receptions featuring writers who remained unsold on Squirrel-Hair.

Now that the pro-S-H Milo Yiannopoulos has become such a lightning rod, it's not surprising that those who are passionately either pro- or anti-S-H would weigh in on the nature of his impact. Bookworm has done so.

You know what? I'm going to wait until I give the opposing view to offer her view, because hers is the dead-wrong perspective on his upcoming appearance at this year's CPAC.

The editors at National Review have the right perspective:

Over the weekend, CPAC invited Milo Yiannopoulos to speak at this year’s event, happening later this week in Maryland. Of late, Yiannopoulos, a “tech editor” for Breitbart News, has been a regular guest on college campuses and a constant source of irritation to campus liberals. Recently, the University of California–Berkeley greeted his arrival with riots. Despite the fact that Yiannopoulos holds a number of noxious opinions, we have defended his right to air them against those who would shout him down or worse.
CPAC is different. The annual event helps to define and broadcast the priorities of grassroots conservatives. Whatever Yiannopoulos’s politics, they are not conservative in any meaningful sense. Indeed, Yiannopoulos has said so himself. Appearing on HBO’s Bill Maher Show just last week, Yiannopoulos said that he was not sure he would call himself conservative.
What Yiannopoulos has called himself is a “chronicler of, and occasional fellow traveler with, the alt-right,” that various group of “reactionaries,” ethno-nationalists, white supremacists, and others, who have set themselves against Reagan-style conservatism and who have developed a robust online presence over the last year. The latter is in no small part thanks to Yiannopoulos, who wrote an essay largely praising the alt-right last spring; according to him, the alt-right is generally composed of “dangerously bright” “intellectuals” and “mischievous” “rebels.” While Yiannopoulos has tried to distance himself from Richard Spencer and other, more unabashed white nationalists, he has had no qualms making common cause with the hordes of Twitter users who photoshop Jewish conservative writers into ovens. Yiannopoulos — who has himself hurled anti-Semitic slurs (he recently described a Jewish BuzzFeed reporter as “a typical example of a sort of thick-as-pig s**t media Jew”), and who helped to popularize the term “cuckservative” — defends himself against charges of bigotry by reminding everyone that he has Jewish ancestry and is gay. The latter is part of his excuse for defending pederasty on a podcast in September 2015, then again during an interview in January 2016. Recordings of those statements were unearthed this weekend, shortly after CPAC’s announcement.
On Monday morning, the ACU cited those recordings as its reason for rescinding Yiannopoulos’s invitation. But that Yiannopoulos did not have a place at CPAC, or at any forum that describes itself as “conservative,” should have been obvious from the start. Instead, the ACU put conservatives in a no-win situation. Had they permitted him to speak, it would have been considered a tacit endorsement of his opinions. Now, having rescinded his invitation, CPAC will be portrayed by Yiannopoulos’s many fans as one more organ of leftist-style speech-policing. Whatever happens later this week, CPAC has diminished true conservatism’s appeal.
It has become fashionable in conservative circles to cheer every apparently right-leaning gadfly. But “trolling” is not conservatism, and there is no virtue merely in upsetting campus Democrats. There are many conservatives who do regular battle with left-wing agitators — but who also are of high character, and advance conservative arguments and defend conservative principles with poise, wit, and good cheer. If CPAC wants to highlight the challenges for conservatives on campus, there are dozens of respectable options. 
Now, for the dead-wrong view on this:

I hope you see what I see: A young man in complete command of the facts, debating at a high intellectual level using arguments familiar to most conservatives, and politely, completely, and matter-of-factly destroying the feminist mantra. Without being in any way offensive, he left those two women looking foolish and uninformed.
Here was a young, hip, edgy, gay, Jewish/Greek/Catholic guy attacking the Leftist shibboleths that so irritated my son. Without my putting any pressure on him, my son regularly hunted down both Milo’s and Crowder’s videos. (Incidentally, my focus on Milo here is not meant to denigrate Crowder’s virtues. It’s simply that he’s a less controversial figure, so I don’t feel compelled to go to his defense.) No wonder, then, that my son, unusually for a kid his age in my “true Blue” county was remarkably sanguine when Trump won.
My son’s Milo discovery happened over a year ago. I still held off on feeling the love for Milo. I was a Cruz supporter during the primaries, and didn’t appreciate Breitbart’s over-the-top Trump support. The fact that Milo was part of the Breitbart machine and appeared to green-light the small number of despicable racist bottom feeders who attached themselves to the Trump train was not endearing.  And then things changed.
What changed was that Trump emerged from the primaries triumphant and I, a nice Jewish girl, had to have a “come to Jesus” moment with myself: Trump or Hillary. Actually, that exaggerates the situation. It was a no-brainer. I was always a #NeverHillary.
The actual “come to Jesus” moment was deciding whether I merely supported Trump because he wasn’tHillary or if I could support him on his own terms. As readers of this blog know, the more I cut through Trump’s incredibly irritating speaking style (which still makes me crazy), the more I came away impressed that Trump is a man who, while not a doctrinaire conservative, truly loves America and Americans. Moreover, his Democrat past notwithstanding, I saw that Trump instinctively understands that borders mean something, that radical Islam is scary and aimed at America’s heart, that the climate has always changed, that a runaway administrative state destroys prosperity and freedom, that the press is not sacred, and that we Americans are one people, not a bunch of whiny little victim classes.
Re-framing Trump to appreciate his virtues meant re-visiting Milo to decide if he, too, is virtuous. He is.
Talk about binary choices. Either one or the other of the above perspectives has it right.

This is a crystal-clear lesson in the essentiality of fealty to immutable principles. They can be a challenge to see clearly in the buzz-saw frenzy of a time like ours, when snark, trolling, and worse characterize most polemical exchanges in any venue.

Publicly losing one's head as a result of even momentarily losing one's ability to see those principles is a sad spectacle to behold, especially given what's at stake.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Sunday morning roundup

Jazz Shaw at Hot Air says the broad contours of the first DJT-era budget are becoming visible, and that they likely spell curtains for the Export Import Bank, as well as cuts to a lot of arts-and-humanities fluff. Go Mulvaney!

The new thing among feminists is making menstruation into some kind of badge of honor. There was Ashley Judd's speech about blood-stained sheets at the pussy-hat march, and then the gal who ran a 26-milke marathon freely gushing down her legs. Now a yoga instructor attired in white has put out a video prominently displaying the red spot on her crotch.

Publishers are hiring "sensitivity readers" to alert editors to "potentially offensive" content in books:

Sensitivity readers have emerged in a climate - fueled in part by social media - in which writers are under increased scrutiny for their portrayals of people from marginalized groups, especially when the author is not a part of that group.
Should I have enlisted such a person when I wrote my novel High C at the Sunset Terrace?

Two opposing views on whether Squirrel-Hair's Florida rally yesterday was a good thing or not:

Salena Zito at the New York Post:

In the White House, President Donald J. Trump is like a lion in the zoo, a sort of sad, caged creature.
“But if you let him out of the zoo and into his natural habitat, he feels like the guy who actually won the election and is President of the United States,” said Bruce Haynes, a communications expert and founding partner of Purple Strategies, a bipartisan political consulting firm.
As Trump prepared to take the stage Saturday in Florida to address a crowd of enthusiastic supporters, it was instantly clear that his decision to escape Washington — and the past week’s drama — was exactly the right move at the right moment for him.
Susan Wright at RedState:

he’s campaigning a month after taking office, rather than dealing with the nightmare he’s got going on in Washington (and saying, “But Obama did it…” is not an excuse. If you didn’t like it from BHO, it doesn’t get better coming from DJT).
To draw from the transcript found at The Hill, I’ll break some of this down, line by line.
“I want to speak to you without the filter of the fake news,” Trump said to huge cheers.
Translation: I want to ladle raw sewage directly into your ears.
“The dishonest media, which has published one false story after another with no sources, even though they pretend they have them – they make them up in many cases. They just don’t want to report the truth.”
Almost as dishonest and false as promoting a story of a political opponent’s multiple affairs, with no sources. Or that part about all but directly accusing that same opponent’s father of being involved with the murder of a U.S. president. Also dishonest, false, and meant to harm a man’s family and their reputation.
Salena, I generally dig your stuff, but Susan has this one right.

Vice President Pence was in Germany yesterday as were Secretaries Mattis and Tillerson, and the reaction from their European audiences was interesting.:

US politicians in attending the conference in Munich pointed to a chasm between what Trump's envoys and the president himself said.
"Looks like we have 2 governments," Democrat Senator Chris Murphy said in a tweet.
Pence spoke about "shared values between the US and Europe (but Trump) openly wages war on those values".
German Chancellor Angela Merkel made no direct mention of Trump in her address in Munich.
Speaking of Tillerson, he's cleaning house at State, rooting out the career bureaucrats who had become accustomed to doing things their own way - and their expense accounts.






Friday, February 17, 2017

Friday afternoon roundup

This is beautiful and glorious: Senate confirms Scott Pruitt to head the EPA . . .

 . . . although the agency's employees who worked the phones trying to convince the Senate not to confirm the guy that is now their boss probably don't see it that way.

In the fevered imagination of the Associated Press, the government was about to call out 100,000 National Guard troops to round up illegal aliens. But in the real world, that's not the case. As of 4:08, though, it was still the top trending story on Twitter.

One of the towering intellects of the last century, Michael Novak, who for years held the George Frederick Jewett Chair in Religion, Philosophy and Public Policy at the American Enterprise Institute, and who wrote such magnificent books as The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism, Will It Liberate? (an examination of liberation theology, written during the 1980s, when that school of thought was at peak prominence throughout Latin America) and No One Sees God, an unflinching look at the challenges presented by a life of faith, has passed away at age 83.


David Marcus at The Federalist looks at a phenomenon that speaks volumes about one side in the post-American civil war: The Left regarding Teen Vogue as a viable - indeed, valuable - news source.

Dem activists are none too happy with Organizing For America:

It is difficult to overstate just how enraged state Democratic activists and leaders are with Organizing for Action (OFA), the political and community-organizing army that grew out of Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns.
The nonprofit, which functions as a sort of parallel-Democratic National Committee, was founded to mobilize Democratic voters and supporters in defense of President Obama’s, and the Democratic Party’s, agenda. Instead, the organization has drawn the intense ire, both public and private, of grassroots organizers and state parties that are convinced that OFA inadvertently helped decimate Democrats at the state and local level, while Republicans cemented historic levels of power and Donald J. Trump actually became leader of the free world.
These intra-party tensions aren’t going away, especially now that OFA “relaunched” itself last week to protect the Affordable Care Act, boost turnout at congressional townhalls, and train grassroots organizers gearing up for the Trump era.
“This is some GRADE A Bullshit right here,” Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party, wrote in a private Democratic-listserv email obtained by The Daily Beast. Handwerk was reacting to news of OFA’s post-election retooling, which was shared “without comment” to the group of state-level Dems by Crystal Kay Perkins, executive director for Texas Democrats.

“It also to me seems TONE DEAF—we have lost over 1,000 seats in the past 8 years… all because of this crap,” Handwerk continued. “Let’s get through the next two weeks—but then we gotta figure this out and keep the pressure on. WOW.”
Speaking of the Freedom-Hater party, post-America's largest teachers' union, the National Education Association, endorses Keith Ellison to head the FHer National Committee


The difference between patriotism and nationalism

Mona Charen has an important Townhall column today that makes a clear distinction between these two concepts, and in the process reiterates one of the most important things for us to keep in mind concerning Donald Trump: He has no developed understanding of real American greatness, of the philosophical underpinnings of its founding documents.

Demagogues of the right -- or nationalists -- argue that our troubles are the result of immigrants taking our jobs or foreigners stealing our factories. This is not natural love of home and hearth or reverence for America's founding ideals. It is scapegoating.
Which brings us to the proximate cause of this debate [on whether nationalism is a laudable sentiment]: President Trump. Far from deepening our appreciation of our history or institutions, he embodies the reasons to be wary of demagoguery in the name of country. In him we see strutting nationalism ("America first!") but little true patriotism. He claims to pursue America's interests, yet has shockingly little respect for the nation he heads. He doesn't love the country enough to have familiarized himself with the basics of our system. In one debate, he said judges "sign bills," and in a Capitol Hill meeting with congressmen, he praised Article XII of the Constitution. What patriot can claim that we lack the moral authority to criticize Turkey's crackdown on independent journalists, or impugn this country as no better than Russia when it comes to political assassination? As Trump demonstrates, nationalism is not patriotism in a hurry; it is resentment draped in the flag. 

This is why the dichotomy held up by his devotees - the man of action vs. the pointy-headed theorists - makes my teeth grind.

There are immutable principles that a Republican president ought to be guided by.

Presidential leadership ought not to be situational. That leads to chaos, as we are seeing in real time.