Saturday, July 4, 2020

America on the Fourth of July

In a better world we would today be celebrating American independence, happily. Unfortunately, we do not live in a better world. We live in the world we live in. How's that for profound. In our current world, where America seems to be disintegrating before our eyes, we can be forgiven if our festivities are less than whole- hearted.

In a moment of uncommon lucidity Bret Stephens explains that the problem is not Donald Trump. America’s problems are the legacy of the political left, the elite liberals, the ones who do not know how to think, who have decided to do a hostile takeover of the American mind:

The more serious problem today comes from the left: from liberal elites who, when tested, lack the courage of their liberal convictions; from so-called progressives whose core convictions were never liberal to begin with; from administrative types at nonprofits and corporations who, with only vague convictions of their own, don’t want to be on the wrong side of a P.R. headache.

Considering that I have long since pointed out that today’s American liberals are not liberal and that today’s progressives are really a radical left, it’s good to see Stephens joining the crew.

The American left has become tyrannical and despotic. We are not talking about internet trolls or unhinged college students. We are talking about the mainstream corporate media:

This has been the great cultural story of the last few years. It is typified by incidents such as The New Yorker’s David Remnick thinking it would be a good idea to interview Steve Bannon for the magazine’s annual festival — until a Twitter mob and some members of his own staff decided otherwise. Or by The Washington Post devoting 3,000 words to destroying the life of a private person of no particular note because in 2018 she wore blackface, with ironic intent, at a Halloween party. Or by big corporations pulling ads from Facebook while demanding the company do more to censor forms of speech they deem impermissible.

Of course, if the idiots are allowed to control the public conversation, people will no longer be able to think clearly, if at all. Have you considered that the war against proper syntax, the war against grammatically correct pronouns, is designed to confuse and confound, to turn your brains into mush:

These stories matter because an idea is at risk. That’s the idea that people who cannot speak freely will not be able to think clearly, and that no society can long flourish when contrarians are treated as heretics.

As noted, today’s radical left wants monopoly control over the marketplace of ideas:

But those defenders are, on account of one excuse or another, capitulating to people who claim free speech for themselves (but not for others), who believe all the old patriarchal hierarchies must go (so that new “intersectional” hierarchies may arise), who are in a perpetual fervor to rewrite the past (all the better to control the future), and who demand cringing public apologies from those who have sinned against an ever-more radical ideological standard (while those apologies won’t save them from being fired).

Stephens concludes:

Right now, all the Twitter furors, the angry rows over publication decisions, the canceled speeches and books, the semantic battles about which words take an uppercase and which don’t, may seem remote to those who care about more tangible issues: depression, disease, police abuse, urban decline. Yet the issue that counts the most is whether the institutions that are supposed to champion liberal ideals will muster the moral confidence to survive. On this July 4, it’s very much in doubt.

Her Boyfriend's Best Friend Is a Woman

Carolyn Hax is enjoying a vacation somewhere, so she has brought back some of her oldies but goodies. Her column of March 15, 2006 is sane and sensible. She tactfully avoids the central issue and offers some advice that the letter writer, named K, might be able to use.

The situation is not good. It seems to be flashing warning lights on K's relationship. And yet, she has tolerated it for two years, so our own understanding that she has made a mistake must be balanced against the fact that she has a considerable investment in it already.

The problem is: her boyfriend’s best friend is a female, Apparently, they communicate constantly, regardless of whether K is present. K does not live with boyfriend, but when she visits, boyfriend and his best friend are in close contact vis instant messaging. All the time.

K explains that the relationship between boyfriend and his best friend has always been platonic, though she should have said: to the best of her knowledge.

So, you will be thinking that, regardless of whether the best friendship has always been platonic, and regardless of boyfriend’s intentions, female best friend might have a different intention. Boyfriend is fairly obviously being seduced by his best friend. His female best friend is obviously unconcerned about what the steady diet of communication is doing to boyfriend’s relationship. This tells us that, no matter what boyfriend thinks, his best friend has something else in mind.

Here is the letter:

Hi, Carolyn: My boyfriend of two years has a female best friend (they met in college) who lives a couple of hours away. Their relationship is and always has been completely platonic, but my issue is this: My boyfriend spends a lot of time on the computer and they are constantly instant-messaging each other. I'm not talking a few times a week; more like two or three times a day. He often chats online with her while I am visiting for the weekend, and I find this behavior rude and annoying.

When I try to talk to him about it, he just tells me he has never had feelings for her and they are just friends … but he doesn't ever understand that the real issue is that his "best friend" is taking time away from our being together. I think that in a healthy relationship, your significant other should be your best friend.

How can I get him to understand how disrespectful this is to me, and how much it hurts our relationship?

Of course, it matters that the best friend is a girl. In truth, no male worth his XY chromosomes would ever engage in this level of communication with a best male friend.

So, Hax makes the first salient point: boyfriend is monumentally rude to detach from K when she is present.

The first is that it’s rude and annoying for him to chat online two or three times a day on the weekends you’ve traveled to see him. If this is your real point, then it’s a good one — one that has nothing to do with the sex of his friend. All you want is a little courtesy; he can chat with his friend when you leave.

Obviously, it is extremely discourteous, though some of the responsibility must devolve on the female best friend.

The second point is also correct. Boyfriend is sharing intimacy with his best female friend. That means, I will put a finer point on it, he is being unfaithful. It doesn’t matter whether or not the couple are doing the beast with two backs. They are emotionally intimate, at a very high level.

The second point is that you feel the intimacy he shares with this female friend takes away from the intimacy you share with him — and as his girlfriend, you feel you’re entitled to it.

Hax veers briefly into nonsense when she starts asking whether K would feel the same if her boyfriend was being emotionally intimate with a male friend. The point is off the mark, because, as noted above, male friends do not maintain such constant connections. 

If this is what you really mean to say, then I think you also have a good point, but a complicated one. Were this best friend male, would you be feeling so threatened? And if it isn’t about sex but instead about best-friendship, then does it even make sense to ask to be someone’s best friend? And if it is her sex that makes his attentions to her seem “disrespectful,” are you ready to say that a man in a relationship shouldn’t have close female friends?

Most females understand that a male friend’s priority must be his relationship, and not with a friend. So, it is her sex that makes it all suspect, and one should be clear about it.

Hax, like yours truly, tends to prefer that people avoid confrontations and ulimata, so she asks this:

It’s an opinion you’re certainly entitled to have, but it’s also an opinion best thought through fully before dropped on a boyfriend’s lap. It’s got that whiff of “Take it or leave it,” for both of you, and you should know that before you go in.

It’s not a question of whether or not boyfriend can have female friends. The question is: should he be having an emotional affair with a woman while he is presumably having a real relationship with K.

We would feel more enlightened if we knew more about this throuple, but, at the end of the day, K should not lay down an ultimatum-- she should simply walk away.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Anger or Hate?

Are you angry yet?

Apparently, we are all very, very angry. And we could use some serious anger management skills. Elizabeth Bernstein has explained it in the Wall Street Journal and Elizabeth Chang has done the same in the Washington Post.

I will not summarize their excellent presentations, because I want to deviate from the general idea: first, that we can mitigate national anger with therapy; and second, that what people are feeling is really anger.

In truth, I would say that we are being consumed by hatred more than by anger. When you are angry with someone you attempt to reconcile. When you hate someone, you want to destroy him.

As for why we feel anger or hatred, the reason is simple: we have been told that these feelings are morally correct. If we are not enraged by racism and sexism we are moral eunuchs. If we do not hate those who brought us those evils, we are worse than moral eunuchs.

Group hatred differs significantly from the hatred you feel over the fact that someone stole your bicycle and you cannot get it back.

Since there is only one object of the hatred, President Donald Trump, the notion that those who despise him want to do anything but destroy him is risible. From the beginning of his presidency, Trump’s detractors have had only one object in mind: to destroy him, to destroy his presidency, to destroy all of those who supported him or voted for him.

While inveighing against hate they have been trafficking in hate. At the least, they are not very bright. The same applies to anyone who follows their lead.

It began with the #MeToo movement, organized in the name of the nation’s leading enabler of sexual harassment, organized by people who did not just hate men, but who also hated America and Jews, organized by people who were happy to give Bill Clinton a pass on sexual harassment and rape charges, but refused to do the same for any other white male.

Intellectually incoherent, the anger at white men quickly became hatred-- designed to destroy men, to destroy careers, to destroy families and lives. It did not even solve the problem it intended to solve. Male managers across America learned that they should not mentor young women, should not spend time alone with young women and so on. As for men mistreating women, relations between the sexes outside of the office were hardly suffused with respect and affection. Tinder dates were certainly consensual, but women who imagined that these dates would lead to something more were enraged when their hopes were not fulfilled.

And then American politics were all about hatred of Trump. From the Russian collusion hoax to the impeachment fiasco, it was all about hating Trump. It worked well enough in the 2018 presidential elections, so the media is trotting it out for the 2020 elections. It would be nice to think that our elite intellectuals have suddenly discovered that racism is wrong, but it is probably closer to the truth to say that they are working to gin up Black voter turnout.

Again, the George Floyd protests, led by a crypto-Marxist gang called Black Lives Matter, fully supported by America-hating bigots like Al Sharpton and Louis Farrakhan, will almost certainly set back the cause of civil rights. As we witness the witless attacks on American business and American institutions, do you feel a grain of respect for the people who are perpetrating these outrages? Do you want to hire them? Do you want to do business with them?

It would be good if someone would ask how it happened that the condition of Black America had improved under the Trump presidency. It would be good if someone would ask why the Obama obsession with social justice had not benefited Black people as much as Trumpian deregulation had.

Of course, no one is asking these questions. The goal, for today, is to destroy, and to pretend that one is destroying racism. In fact those who are leading the protests are working to elect Joe Biden and a Democratic Congress. Nothing more and nothing less.

As of now, they are clearly winning their bet. Of course, when they wake up to find out that they have won, they will also face the fallout from their absurd expressions of hate. They might find that the prize they sought is a poisoned gift. They might discover that with power comes responsibility. And they might discover that the skills required to gin up national hysteria, to give expression to hatred, and to destroy peoples's lives are of little use when it comes time to govern.

The Summer of Love in San Francisco

Here are some more fun facts about San Francisco. After all, when you think of the summer of love, you naturally think of San Francisco. While the media attention is focused on the pandemic in red states, blue states are doing an awful job keeping their citizens healthy and alive. After all, most coronavirus deaths have been occurring in places like New York, New Jersey and Michigan. They have been occurring because Democratic governors sent recovering coronavirus patients to nursing homes, where they infected the elderly.

Since the story does not make Trump look bad, the media has ignored it. 

As for San Francisco, the Wall Street Journal editorializes about its handling of the coronavirus. It locked down and enforced social distancing, except for the homeless:

San Francisco was the first U.S. city to lock down and strictly enforce its shelter-in-place order—at least against law-abiding citizens. Meanwhile, public officials and police let hundreds of the homeless crowd streets and use drugs in the downtown Tenderloin district, according to two new lawsuits against the city.

San Francisco’s homeless population increased by 20% between 2015 and 2019 but has surged since the city locked down in March. “The number of tents and makeshift shelters on Tenderloin sidewalks grew from 158 on March 3, 2020, to 391 on May 1, 2020,” one lawsuit notes. “However, the San Francisco Police Department has been directed not to remove or disturb those tents” even though “they block the sidewalks and shield criminals.”

The lawsuit includes pictures of people camping out and crowding sidewalks this spring. One worker deemed essential by the city claims she had to walk in street traffic because sidewalks were strewn with tents, human feces and trash. Businesses in the neighborhood say they have been vandalized.

The city has been filling luxury hotels with the homeless, and has been affording them access to drugs and alcohol:

Meanwhile, as a recent article in City Journal notes, San Francisco is “surreptitiously placing homeless people in luxury hotels by designating them as emergency front-line workers” and has spent $3,795.98 to buy guests alcohol, ostensibly to encourage them to shelter in place. The city has also provided complimentary cigarettes and marijuana.

Selective enforcement of the shelter-in-place order has ignored George Floyd protesters but has cracked down on anyone protesting Planned Parenthood:

Crime and drug use have increased around the hotels. Perhaps these entrepreneurs have discovered they can make a handsome profit reselling taxpayer-funded goods. Meantime, San Francisco police have cited ordinary citizens for violating the shelter-in-place order, including an 86-year-old protesting outside a Planned Parenthood clinic. George Floyd protesters have been exempt from enforcement.

So far 50 people in San Francisco have died of Covid-19. During the first six months of last year, 182 people died of drug overdoses. The lawsuits claim that San Francisco has created a public nuisance, taken private property without just compensation, and violated the equal protection of the law owed to businesses. They are asking for a court injunction to force the city to clean up the streets.

Good luck with that.

Seattle Mayor Comes to her Senses

Remember when Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan defended the rape of her city as: a “summer of love.”

As everyone but Durkan had predicted, the CHAZ/CHOP occupied zone turned violent, nasty and ugly.

So, Durkan was forced to end the occupation, via an executive order that she could have issued weeks ago.

Tyler O’Neil reports on the order, which offers a sobering glimpse of the CHOP dystopia: 

Durkan, in justifying her executive order finally clearing out the occupation, made some rather harsh admissions.

“After significant national attention, many protesters have left the area but the conditions in the Cal Anderson Park Area have deteriorated to the point where public health, life, and safety are threatened by activities in and around this area,” Durkan’s order states. The order lists a few key facts, including the three tragic shootings on June 20, 22, and 29, which claimed the lives of two black teenagers and left more wounded.

During the first of these shootings, the order notes that “first responders from the Seattle Fire Department and Seattle Police Department were denied safe access to the area by hostile crowds, including armed individuals, and obstructions.”

While these shootings represent the worst of the tragedies, they fail to capture the horrifying CHOP crime spike.

“In addition, SPD has received numerous reports of narcotics use and violent crime, including rape, robbery, assault, and increased gang activity,” Durkan’s order states. “An increase of 525%, 22 additional incidents, in person-related crime in the area, to include two additional homicides, 6 additional robberies, and 16 additional aggravated assaults (to include 2 additional non-fatal shootings) between June 2nd and June 30th, 2020, compared to the same period of time in 2019.”

That’s not all, folks:

“Residential [sic] and businesses in the area have documented incidents of harassment, graffiti, noise disturbances, and obstruction of vehicular traffic to residences and places of business, and multiple lawsuits and claims have been filed against the City by residents and businesses impacted by the activities in this area,” the order adds, referencing recent lawsuits. “Significant damage has been caused by those remaining unlawfully in the area to City property, including Cal Anderson Park and the East Precinct facility.”

And naturally, coronavirus cases spiked in the area, as they have throughout the nation after the George Floyd protests:

“An alarming recent rise in COVID-19 numbers across the region, coupled with a lack of social distancing in this area, and the daily attraction to this area of outside individuals place the neighborhood at opening businesses at increased risk for outbreaks,” Durkan’s order states.

If that is not enough:

Ongoing violations of the Seattle Parks and Recreation’s Code of Conduct have been observed, including camping and parking in the park, conduct that unreasonably deprives others of the use of parks, disrupting Seattle Parks and Recreation business, dumping trash and/or creating unsanitary conditions or health hazards that violate public health rules, behaviors that impede restroom use; urinating or defecating, except in designated restroom fixtures, blocking entrances, exits, fire exits, disabled access areas, public walkways; conduct that creates an unreasonable and substantial risk of harm to any person or property, and abusive and harassing behavior.

And so on and so on and so on.

Summer of love, you say. It was on the way to becoming San Francisco.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Our Unintelligent Intelligentsia

Any good Marxist can tell you that the lumpen proletariat is constituted of workers who do not join the revolutionary struggle because they cannot recognize their own class interests. Lacking class consciousness, this group tends to side with its oppressors. True revolutionaries treat the lumpen proletariat with contempt.

But then, is George Will correct to call our elite intellectuals a lumpen intelligentsia? In fact, these thought leaders, comprising media figures, academic intellectuals, schoolteachers, lawyers and bureaucrats is not exactly devoid of revolutionary fervor. They are leading the current cultural revolution. However clever his term, lumpen intelligentsia, appears Will seems to have undermined his very good analysis by mislabeling the group in question.

Surely he is right to say that today’s intelligentsia is filled with nitwits and fools. It is anything but intelligent.

A nation’s gravest problems are those it cannot discuss because it dare not state them. This nation’s principal problem, which makes other serious problems intractable, is that much of today’s intelligentsia is not intelligent.

It does not understand American history, does not profess any love for country and cannot offer any reasoned analysis of America’s current condition:

Today’s most serious problem, which annihilates thoughtfulness about all others, is that a significant portion of the intelligentsia — the lumpen intelligentsia — cannot think. Its torrent of talk is an ever-intensifying hurricane of hysteria about the endemic sickness of the nation since its founding in 1619 (don’t ask). And the iniquities of historic figures mistakenly admired.

It is not just that our intelligentsia cannot protect us from mob thinking. It itself has become a mob:

An admirable intelligentsia, inoculated by education against fashions and fads, would … would be society’s ballast against mob mentalities. Instead, much of America’s intelligentsia has become a mob.

Will is too kind to mention it, but our intelligentsia has been selected, not by merit, but for diversity. Knowing how to think was not a requirement. Filling diversity quotas was far more important.

Will suggests that this group feels compelled to impose ideological conformity. One thing they do not want is any indication that they are not really up to the credentials they possess::

Seeking to impose on others the conformity it enforces in its ranks, articulate only in a boilerplate of ritualized cant, today’s lumpen intelligentsia consists of persons for whom a little learning is delightful. They consider themselves educated because they are credentialed, stamped with the approval of institutions of higher education that gave them three things: a smattering of historical information just sufficient to make the past seem depraved; a vocabulary of indignation about the failure of all previous historic actors, from Washington to Lincoln to Churchill, to match the virtues of the lumpen intelligentsia; and the belief that America’s grossest injustice is the insufficient obeisance accorded to this intelligentsia.

He continues:

Its expansion tracks the expansion of colleges and universities — most have, effectively, open admissions — that have become intellectually monochrome purveyors of groupthink. Faculty are outnumbered by administrators, many of whom exist to administer uniformity concerning “sustainability,” “diversity,” “toxic masculinity” and the threat free speech poses to favored groups’ entitlements to serenity.

Of course, the greatest threat to their self-esteem and to their august credentials would be the boy who shouts out that they are like the emperor who believes that he is dressed in the finest of imperial finery, but who is not wearing any clothes. In today's intellectual environment, anyone who dares suggest it this will immediately be canceled.

Another Russian Collusion Hoax

One thing about the Trump-hating media. They never give up. The Russian collusion story turned out to be a hoax. The Ukraine impeachment scandal went up in smoke.

Fear not, the New York Times and other media outlets have been breathlessly reporting that the Trump administration knew that Russia had put out a bounty on the lives of American soldiers in Afghanistan, and did nothing about it.

It seems that the story was fabricated, perhaps by a Trump hating whistleblower. History repeats itself....

It does not matter. Cue the outrage. Also, cue the double standard. Mollie Hemingway (via Maggie's Farm) remarks that the Obama administration was informed about a bounty placed by Iran on American troops in Afghanistan. Was Obama a profile in courage? Did he retaliate against the Iranian regime?

Hemingway reports:

One goal seems to be to paint Trump as someone who does not care about American soldiers. This talking point is odd. Iran reportedly offered the Taliban $1,000 bounties in 2010 for American soldiers’ deaths in Afghanistan. Not only was no action taken by President Obama at the time, six years later, he authorized the payment of $1.7 billion to the regime.

By contrast, President Trump authorized the killing of Iran’s Qasem Soleimani, responsible for the deaths of more than 600 U.S. service members. When that happened, based on what the Trump administration said was responsibility for those deaths and intelligence that further attacks were planned, many in the media questioned the strength of that intelligence analysis.

Speaking of the Obama administration’s many derelictions, how about this one. It had repeatedly been informed about the rise of ISIS. But it did nothing about it. Keep in mind, before Obama, there was no caliphate. During Obama, there was a caliphate. After Obama, there was no caliphate. You don't need a triple-digit IQ to figure it out.

Matt Margolis reports:

A national security staffer in the Obama-Biden administration told the Daily Mail in 2014 that Barack Obama was getting “highly accurate predictions” about the rise of the ISIS “before the 2012 election.” The intelligence was described as “actionable.”

Rather than accept responsibility for his failure, Obama publicly faulted his Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, for underestimating ISIS.

A former Pentagon official also told then-Fox News national security correspondent Catherine Herridge that Obama received “specific intelligence” about the rise of ISIS in his presidential daily briefings for at least a year:

A former Pentagon official confirms to Fox News that detailed and specific intelligence about the rise of ISIS was included in the PDB, or the President’s Daily Brief, for at least a year before the group took large swaths of territory beginning in June.

The official, who asked not to be identified because the PDB is considered the most authoritative, classified intelligence community product providing the President with analysis of sensitive international events, said the data was strong, and “granular” in detail, adding a policy maker “… could not come away with any other impression: This is getting bad.” 

The official who has close knowledge of the process said the President, who reads the PDB unlike his predecessors who traditionally had the document briefed to them, was not known to come back to the intelligence community with further questions or “taskings.” Asked to describe the frequency, the former Pentagon official said “not generally.”

After suggestions that the administration may have been blindsided by the rise of ISIS, and that poor intelligence was to blame, the former Pentagon official said some of the intelligence was so good it was described as “exquisite”.

According to Lt. General Michael Flynn, who was Obama’s former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Obama White House ignored reports warning about the rise of ISIS in 2011 and 2012 because they did not fit Obama’s reelection narrative that al Qaeda was on the run and that we were winning the war on terror.

The best part of the Trump Russia story is that it elicited a comment from the nation’s greatest sore loser, the nation’s leading enabler of sexual harassment. That would be HIllary Clinton, herself, in person. Keep in mind that, in 2010, when Iran was putting a bounty on American lives, the dowager duchess of Chappaqua was Secretary of State. Do you remember her full-throated outrage? Neither do I.

Naturally, she bought the story about Trump. Once an idiot, always an idiot. And she tweeted out her own view:

“Either he knew and chose to do nothing, or he didn't know because he couldn't be bothered to do his job.” 

Well stated from the woman who bore responsibility for the security of American ambassadors, and who did not merely fall down on the job when it came to Benghazi, but who refused to take any responsibility for what happened.

In an exchange with one Barbra Streisand-- someone whose knowledge of foreign policy ranks with Hillary’s-- the former Secretary had this to say about the fabricated story about Trump:

I would have read my damn briefs, Barbra, that's for sure.

Just as she read and took action on the 600 or so emails that late Ambassador Christopher Stevens sent her asking for better security in Libya.

Yes, indeed, being a Clinton means never having to say you’re sorry.