Monday, May 29, 2017

Don’t Blame Hillary - WSJ


Friday’s commencement address at Wellesley—an attack on the man who defeated her—is only the latest outburst from a failed candidate, who has now vowed to take a leading position in the anti-Trump “resistance.” On the right these things provoke new headlines about sore loserhood. Far more interesting is the irritation Mrs. Clinton’s refusal to fade away is causing among fellow Democrats who blame her for the loss against what should have been an easily defeatable Republican nominee.
This is supremely unfair to Mrs. Clinton. As flawed a candidate as she might have been, the truth is almost certainly the reverse. It is today’s Democratic Party that gave us Mrs. Clinton, as well as the thumping in November.
Yes, the Clintons have always been flexible about principles, a big reason for the appeal of the more purist Bernie Sanders. Back when her husband was running for president as a “New Democrat” in 1992, the idea was that the party had shed its McGovernite past and moved to the center, so that it could now be trusted on values, the economy and national security. At the time Mr. Clinton advertised his wife as “two for the price of one.”
Once they got in, Mrs. Clinton reverted to type by pushing, unsuccessfully, for universal health care. But after that belly-flop and the 1994 GOP takeover of Congress, they dialed it back, and by 1996 her husband was telling the American people “the era of big government is over.”
As New York’s junior senator, Mrs. Clinton was firmly ensconced within her party. “On the 1,390 votes she cast in which most senators from one party voted differently from most senators across the aisle,” notes an April 2016 piece from Roll Call, “Clinton went against the Democratic grain only 49 times.”
Even on the single issue that came to be used against her in last year’s Democratic presidential primary—her 2002 vote to authorize the use of force in Iraq—Mrs. Clinton was squarely with her party. We’ve forgotten it today, but more Democrats voted with Mrs. Clinton on that one than against, including Harry Reid, John Edwards, Chuck Schumer, Joe Biden and John Kerry. Only a few years later she, again like them, opposed the surge.
So which is she, hawk or dove? The truth is that she is both—and neither. In a notable section in the memoirs of fellow Obama cabinet member Bob Gates, he relates a conversation in which she admits her opposition to the surge in Iraq “had been political because she was facing [Barack Obama] in the Iowa primary.” Again this only puts her within the mainstream of her party: Most of the other Democrats who had voted for the war in 2002 would also oppose the surge in 2007.
It has been a consistent pattern for Mrs. Clinton. On almost any issue that energizes her party—from same-sex marriage to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal—Mrs. Clinton has gone where the party has pulled her even if it meant going against where she had been. This is what Hollywood actress Rosario Dawson meant last summer when she asked a group of Sanders delegates at the convention to understand that Mrs. Clinton “is not a leader, she’s a follower.”
But on what became the single overriding theme of her campaign, Mrs. Clinton was truly in sync with her party. This is the idea that she should be elected because she’s a woman, and that a coalition of millennials, minorities and women would come together to make it happen. So where Donald Trump had “Make America Great Again,” Mrs. Clinton had the identity project par excellence: “I’m with her.”
After all, who could be more deserving to succeed the first African-American president than the first woman president?
It didn’t turn out that way. And if you take the Trump blinders off for some perspective, there’s another dynamic that had little to do with Mrs. Clinton: the hemorrhaging of Democratic seats over the Obama years—from the governorships to state legislatures to Capitol Hill—to the point where the Democratic Party is now at its lowest levels in a century.
By the time Mrs. Clinton had secured the nomination for president, she had embraced everything a far more progressive party wanted her to embrace. But she also inherited a party that was losing elections all across the country.
So maybe it wasn’t only a flawed messenger that led Democrats to defeat in 2016. Maybe there’s a problem with the message, too.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Presidential Payback For Media Hubris | Hoover Institution

Presidential Payback For Media Hubris | Hoover Institution

Sadly, the contemporary mainstream media—the major networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN), the traditional blue-chip newspapers (Washington Post, New York Times), and the public affiliates (NPR, PBS)—have lost credibility. They are no more reliable critics of President Trump’s excesses than they were believable cheerleaders for Barack Obama’s policies.

Trump may have a habit of exaggeration and gratuitous feuding that could cause problems with his presidency. But we would never quite know that from the media. In just his first month in office, reporters have already peddled dozens of fake news stories designed to discredit the President—to such a degree that little they now write or say can be taken at face value.

No, Trump did not have any plans to invade Mexico, as Buzzfeed and the Associated Press alleged.

No, Trump’s father did not run for Mayor of New York by peddling racist television ads, as reported by Sidney Blumenthal.

No, there were not mass resignations at the State Department in protest of its new leaders, as was reported by the Washington Post.

No, Trump’s attorney did not cut a deal with the Russians in Prague. Nor did Trump indulge in sexual escapades in Moscow. Buzzfeed again peddled those fake news stories.

No, a supposedly racist Trump did not remove the bust of Martin Luther King Jr. from the White House, as a Time Magazine reporter claimed.

No, election results in three states were not altered by hackers or computer criminals to give Trump the election, as implied by New York Magazine.

No, Michael Flynn did not tweet that he was a scapegoat. That was a media fantasy endorsed by Nancy Pelosi.

In fact, Daniel Payne of the Federalist has compiled a lengthy list of sensational stories about Trump’s supposed buffooneries, mistakes, and crudities that all proved either outright lies or were gross exaggerations and distortions.

We would like to believe writers for the New York Times or Washington Post when they warn us about the new president’s overreach. But how can we do so when they have lost all credibility—either by colluding with the Obama presidency and the Hillary Clinton campaign, or by creating false narratives to ensure that Trump fails?

Ezra Klein at Vox just wrote a warning about the autocratic tendencies of Donald Trump. Should we believe him? Perhaps not. Klein was the originator of Journolist, a “left-leaning” private online chat room of journalists that was designed to coordinate media narratives that would enhance Democratic politicians and in particular Barack Obama. Such past collusion begs the question of whether Klein is really disinterested now in the fashion that he certainly was not during the Obama administration.

Recently, New York Times White House correspondent Glenn Thrush coauthored a report

about initial chaos among the Trump White House staff, replete with unidentified sources. Should we believe Thrush’s largely negative story?

Perhaps. But then again, Thrush not so long ago turned up in the Wikileaks troves as sending a story to Hillary Clinton aide John Podesta for prepublication audit. Thrush was his own honest critic, admitting to Podesta: “Because I have become a hack I will send u the whole section that pertains to u. Please don’t share or tell anyone I did this Tell me if I f**ked up anything.”

Dana Milbank of the Washington Post has become a fierce critic of President Trump. Are his writs accurate? Milbank also appeared in Wikileaks, asking the Democratic National Committee to provide him with free opposition research for a negative column he was writing about candidate Trump. Are Milbank’s latest attacks his own—or once again coordinated with Democratic researchers?

The Washington Post censor Glenn Kessler posted the yarn about Trump’s father’s racist campaign for New York mayor—until he finally fact-checked his own fake news and deleted his tweet.

Sometimes the line between journalism and politicians is no line at all. Recently, former Obama deputy National Security advisor Ben Rhodes (brother of CBS news president David Rhodes) took to Twitter to blast the Trump administration’s opposition to the Iran Deal, brokered in large part by Rhodes himself. “Everything Trump says here,” Rhodes stormed, “is false.”

Should we believe Rhodes’s charges that Trump is now lying about the details of the Iran Deal?

Who knows, given that Rhodes himself not long ago bragged to the New York Times of his role in massaging reporters to reverberate an administration narrative: “We created an echo chamber They were saying things that validated what we had given them to say.” Rhodes also had no respect for the very journalists that he had manipulated: “The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That’s a sea change. They literally know nothing.”

Is Rhodes now being disinterested or once again creating an “echo chamber”?

His boss, former UN Ambassador and National Security Advisor in the Obama administration, Susan Rice (married to Ian Cameron, a former producer at ABC news), likewise went on Twitter to blast the Trump administration’s decision to include presidential advisor Steven Bannon in meetings of the National Security Council: “This is stone cold crazy,” Rice asserted, “After a week of crazy.”

Is Rice (who has no military experience) correct that the former naval officer Bannon has no business participating in such high strategy meetings?

In September 2012, Rice went on television on five separate occasions to insist falsely to the nation that the attacks on the Benghazi consulate were the work of spontaneous rioters and not a preplanned hit by an al Qaeda franchise. Her own quite crazy stories proved a convenient administration reelection narrative of Al Qaeda on the run, but there were already sufficient sources available to Rice to contradict her false news talking points.

There are various explanations for the loss of media credibility.

First, the world of New York and Washington DC journalism is incestuous. Reporters share a number of social connections, marriages, and kin relationships with liberal politicians, making independence nearly culturally impossible.

More importantly, the election in 2008 of Barack Obama marked a watershed, when a traditionally liberal media abandoned prior pretenses of objectivity and actively promoted the candidacy and presidency of their preferred candidate. The media practically pronounced him god, the smartest man ever to enter the presidency, and capable of creating electric sensations down the legs of reporters. The supposedly hard-hitting press corps asked Obama questions such as, “During these first 100 days, what has …enchanted you the most from serving in this office? Humbled you the most…?”

Obama, as the first African-American president—along with his progressive politics that were to the left of traditional Democratic policies—enraptured reporters who felt disinterested coverage might endanger what otherwise was a rare and perhaps not-to-be-repeated moment.

We are now in a media arena where there are no rules. The New York Times is no longer any more credible than talk radio; CNN—whose reporters have compared Trump to Hitler and gleefully joked about his plane crashing—should be no more believed than a blogger’s website. Buzzfeed has become like the National Inquirer.

Trump now communicates, often raucously and unfiltered, directly with the American people, to ensure his message is not distorted and massaged by reporters who have a history of doing just that. Unfortunately, it is up to the American people now to audit their own president’s assertions. The problem is not just that the media is often not reliable, but that it is predictably unreliable. It has ceased to exist as an auditor of government. Ironically the media that sacrificed its reputation to glorify Obama and demonize Trump has empowered the new President in a way never quite seen before. At least for now, Trump can say or do almost anything he wishes without media scrutiny—given that reporters have far less credibility than does Trump.

Trump is the media’s Nemesis—payback for its own hubris.


16 Fake News Stories Reporters Have Run Since Trump Won


Journalists, media types, reporters, you have two choices: you can fix these problems, or you can watch your profession go down in flames.
By Daniel Payne
FEBRUARY 6, 2017
Since at least Donald Trump’s election, our media have been in the grip of an astonishing, self-inflicted crisis. Despite Trump’s constant railing against the American press, there is no greater enemy of the American media than the American media. They did this to themselves.

We are in the midst of an epidemic of fake news. There is no better word to describe it than “epidemic,” insofar as it fits the epidemiological model from the Centers for Disease Control: this phenomenon occurs when “an agent and susceptible hosts are present in adequate numbers, and the agent can be effectively conveyed from a source to the susceptible hosts.”

The “agent” in this case is hysteria over Trump’s presidency, and the “susceptible hosts” are a slipshod, reckless, and breathtakingly gullible media class that spread the hysteria around like—well, like a virus.

It is difficult to adequately sum up the breadth of this epidemic, chiefly because it keeps growing: day after day, even hour after hour, the media continue to broadcast, spread, promulgate, publicize, and promote fake news on an industrial scale. It has become a regular part of our news cycle, not distinct from or extraneous to it but a part of it, embedded within the news apparatus as a spoke is embedded in a bicycle wheel.

Whenever you turn on a news station, visit a news website, or check in on a journalist or media personality on Twitter or Facebook, there is an excellent chance you will be exposed to fake news. It is rapidly becoming an accepted part of the way the American media are run.

How we will get out of this is anyone’s guess. We might not get out of it, not so long as Trump is president of these United States. We may be up for four—maybe eight!—long years of authentic fake news media hysteria. It is worth cataloging at least a small sampling of the hysteria so far. Only when we fully assess the extent of the media’s collapse into ignominious ineptitude can we truly begin to reckon with it.

Since Trump’s election, here’s just a small sampling of fake news that our media and our journalist class have propagated.

Early November: Spike in Transgender Suicide Rates
After Trump’s electoral victory on November 8, rumors began circulating that multiple transgender teenagers had killed themselves in response to the election results. There was no basis to these rumors. Nobody was able to confirm them at the time, and nobody has been able to confirm in the three months since Trump was elected.

Nevertheless, the claim spread far and wide: Guardian writer and editor-at-large of Out Zach Stafford tweeted the rumor, which was retweeted more than 13,000 times before he deleted it. He later posted a tweet explaining why he deleted his original viral tweet; his explanatory tweet was shared a total of seven times. Meanwhile, PinkNews writer Dominic Preston wrote a report on the rumors, which garnered more than 12,000 shares on Facebook.

At Mic, Matthew Rodriguez wrote about the unsubstantiated allegations. His article was shared more than 55,000 times on Facebook. Urban legend debunker website Snopes wrote a report on the rumors and listed them as “unconfirmed” (rather than “false”). Snopes’s sources were two Facebook posts, since deleted, that offered no helpful information regarding the location, identity, or circumstances of any of the suicides. The Snopes report was shared 19,000 times.

At Reason, writer Elizabeth Nolan Brown searched multiple online databases to try to determine the identities or even the existence of the allegedly suicidal youth. She found nothing. As she put it: “[T]eenagers in 2016 don’t just die without anyone who knew them so much as mentioning their death online for days afterward.”

She is right. Just the same, the stories hyping this idea garnered at least nearly 100,000 shares on Facebook alone, contributing to the fear and hysteria surrounding Trump’s win.

November 22: The Tri-State Election Hacking Conspiracy Theory
On November 22, Gabriel Sherman posted a bombshell report at New York Magazine claiming that “a group of prominent computer scientists and election lawyers” were demanding a recount in three separate states because of “persuasive evidence that [the election] results in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania may have been manipulated or hacked.” The evidence? Apparently, “in Wisconsin, Clinton received 7 percent fewer votes in counties that relied on electronic-voting machines compared with counties that used optical scanners and paper ballots.”

The story went stratospherically viral. It was shared more than 145,000 times on Facebook alone. Sherman shared it on his Twitter feed several times, and people retweeted his links to the story nearly 9,000 times. Politico’s Eric Geller shared the story on Twitter as well. His tweet was retweeted just under 8,000 times. Dustin Volz from Reuters shared the link; he was retweeted nearly 2,000 times. MSNBC’s Joy Reid shared the story and was retweeted more than 4,000 times. New York Times opinion columnist Paul Krugman also shared the story and was retweeted about 1,600 times.

It wasn’t until the next day, November 23, that someone threw a little water on the fire. At FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver explained that it was “demographics, not hacking” that explained the curious voting numbers. “Anyone making allegations of a possible massive electoral hack should provide proof,” he wrote, “and we can’t find any.” Additionally, Silver pointed out that the New York Magazine article had misrepresented the argument of one of the computer scientists in question.

At that point, however, the damage had already been done: Sherman, along with his credulous tweeters and retweeters, had done a great deal to delegitimize the election results. Nobody was even listening to Silver, anyway: his post was shared a mere 380 times on Facebook, or about one-quarter of 1 percent as much as Sherman’s. This is how fake news works: the fake story always goes viral, while nobody reads or even hears about the correction.

December 1: The 27-Cent Foreclosure
At Politico on December 1, Lorraine Woellert published a shocking essay claiming that Trump’s pick for secretary of the Treasury, Steve Mnuchin, had overseen a company that “foreclosed on a 90-year-old woman after a 27-cent payment error.” According to Woellert: “After confusion over insurance coverage, a OneWest subsidiary sent [Ossie] Lofton a bill for $423.30. She sent a check for $423. The bank sent another bill, for 30 cents. Lofton, 90, sent a check for three cents. In November 2014, the bank foreclosed.”

The story received widespread coverage, being shared nearly 17,000 times on Facebook. The New York Times’s Steven Rattner shared it on Twitter (1,300 retweets), as did NBC News’s Brad Jaffy (1,200 retweets), the AP’s David Beard (1,900 retweets) and many others.

The problem? The central scandalous claims of Woellert’s article were simply untrue. As the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Ted Frank pointed out, the woman in question was never foreclosed on, and never lost her home. Moreover, “It wasn’t Mnuchin’s bank that brought the suit.”

Politico eventually corrected these serious and glaring errors. But the damage was done: the story had been repeated by numerous media outlets including Huffington Post (shared 25,000 times on Facebook), the New York Post, Vanity Fair, and many others.

January 20: Nancy Sinatra’s Complaints about the Inaugural Ball
On the day of Trump’s inauguration, CNN claimed Nancy Sinatra was “not happy” with the fact that the president and first lady’s inaugural dance would be to the tune of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.” The problem? Nancy Sinatra had never said any such thing. CNN later updated the article without explaining the mistake they had made.

January 20: The Nonexistent Climate Change Website ‘Purge’
Also on the day of the inauguration, New York Times writer Coral Davenport published an article on the Times’s website whose headline claimed that the Trump administration had “purged” any “climate change references” from the White House website. Within the article, Davenport acknowledged that the “purge” (or what she also called “online deletions”) was “not unexpected” but rather part of a routine turnover of digital authority between administrations.

To call this action a “purge” was thus at the height of intellectual dishonesty: Davenport was styling the whole thing as a kind of digital book-burn rather than a routine part of American government. But of course that was almost surely the point. The inflammatory headline was probably the only thing that most people read of the article, doubtlessly leading many readers (the article was shared nearly 50,000 times on Facebook) to believe something that simply wasn’t true.

January 20: The Great MLK Jr. Bust Controversy
On January 20, Time reporter Zeke Miller wrote that a bust of Martin Luther King Jr. had been removed from the White House. This caused a flurry of controversy on social media until Miller issued a correction. As Time put it, Miller had apparently not even asked anyone in the White House if the bust had been removed. He simply assumed it had been because “he had looked for it and had not seen it.”

January 20: Betsy DeVos, Grizzly Fighter
During her confirmation hearing, education secretary nominee Betsy DeVos was asked whether schools should be able to have guns on their campuses. As NBC News reported, DeVos felt it was “best left to locales and states to decide.” She pointed out that one school in Wyoming had a fence around it to protect the students from wildlife. “I would imagine,” she said, “that there’s probably a gun in the school to protect from potential grizzlies.”

This was an utterly noncontroversial stance to take. DeVos was simply pointing out that different states and localities have different needs, and attempting to mandate a nationwide one-size-fits-all policy for every American school is imprudent.

How did the media run with it? By lying through their teeth. “Betsy DeVos Says Guns Should Be Allowed in Schools. They Might Be Needed to Shoot Grizzlies” (Slate). “Betsy DeVos: Schools May Need Guns to Fight Off Bears” (The Daily Beast). “Citing grizzlies, education nominee says states should determine school gun policies” (CNN). “Betsy DeVos says guns in schools may be necessary to protect students from grizzly bears” (ThinkProgress.) “Betsy DeVos says guns shouldn’t be banned in schools … because grizzly bears” (Vox). “Betsy DeVos tells Senate hearing she supports guns in schools because of grizzly bears” (The Week). “Trump’s Education Pick Cites ‘Potential Grizzlies’ As A Reason To Have Guns In Schools” (BuzzFeed).

The intellectual dishonesty at play here is hard to overstate. DeVos never said or even intimated that every American school or even very many of them might need to shoot bears. She merely used one school as an example of the necessity of federalism and as-local-as-possible control of the education system.

Rather than report accurately on her stance, these media outlets created a fake news event to smear a reasonable woman’s perfectly reasonable opinion.

January 26: The ‘Resignations’ At the State Department
On January 26, the Washington Post’s Josh Rogin published what seemed to be a bombshell report declaring that “the State Department’s entire senior management team just resigned.” This resignation, according to Rogin, was “part of an ongoing mass exodus of senior Foreign Service officers who don’t want to stick around for the Trump era.” These resignations happened “suddenly” and “unexpectedly.” He styled it as a shocking shake-up of administrative protocol in the State Department, a kind of ad-hoc protest of the Trump administration.

The story immediately went sky-high viral. It was shared nearly 60,000 times on Facebook. Rogin himself tweeted the story out and was retweeted a staggering 11,000 times. Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum had it retweeted nearly 2,000 times; journalists and writers from Wired, The Guardian, the Washington Post, Bloomberg, ABC, Foreign Policy, and other publications tweeted the story out in shock.

There was just one problem: the story was more a load of bunk. As Vox pointed out, the headline of the piece was highly misleading: “the word ‘management’ strongly implied that all of America’s top diplomats were resigning, which was not the case.” (The Post later changed the word “management” to “administrative” without noting the change, although it left the “management” language intact in the article itself).

More importantly, Mark Toner, the acting spokesman for the State Department, put out a press release noting that “As is standard with every transition, the outgoing administration, in coordination with the incoming one, requested all politically appointed officers submit letters of resignation.” According to CNN, the officials were actually asked to leave by the Trump administration rather than stay on for the customary transitional few months. The entire premise of Rogin’s article was essentially nonexistent.

As always, the correction received far less attention than the fake news itself: Vox’s article, for instance, was shared around 9,500 times on Facebook, less than one-sixth the rate of Rogin’s piece. To this day, Rogin’s piece remains uncorrected regarding its faulty presumptions.

January 27: The Photoshopped Hands Affair
On January 27, Observer writer Dana Schwartz tweeted out a screenshot of Trump that, in her eyes, proved President Trump had “photoshopped his hands bigger” for a White House photograph. Her tweet immediately went viral, being shared upwards of 25,000 times. A similar tweet by Disney animator Joaquin Baldwin was shared nearly 9,000 times as well.

The conspiracy theory was eventually debunked, but not before it had been shared thousands upon thousands of times. Meanwhile, Schwartz tweeted that she did “not know for sure whether or not the hands were shopped.” Her correction tweet was shared a grand total of…11 times.

January 29: The Reuters Account Hoax
Following the Quebec City mosque massacre, the Daily Beast published a story that purported to identify the two shooters who had perpetrated the crime. The problem? The story’s source was a Reuters parody account on Twitter. Incredibly, nobody at the Daily Beast thought to check the source to any appreciable degree.

January 31: The White House-SCOTUS Twitter Mistake
Leading up to Trump announcing his first Supreme Court nomination, CNN Senior White House Correspondent Jeff Zeleny announced that the White House was “setting up [the] Supreme Court announcement as a prime-time contest.” He pointed to a pair of recently created “identical Twitter pages” for a theoretical justices Neil Gorsuch and Thomas Hardiman, the two likeliest nominees for the court vacancy.

Zeleny’s sneering tweet—clearly meant to cast the Trump administration in an unflattering, circus-like light—was shared more than 1,100 times on Twitter. About 30 minutes later, however, he tweeted: “The Twitter accounts…were not set up by the White House, I’ve been told.” As always, the admission of mistake was shared far less than the original fake news: Zeleny’s correction was retweeted a paltry 159 times.

January 31: The Big Travel Ban Lie
On January 31, a Fox affiliate station out of Detroit reported that “A local business owner who flew to Iraq to bring his mother back home to the US for medical treatment said she was blocked from returning home under President Trump’s ban on immigration and travel from seven predominately Muslim nations. He said that while she was waiting for approval to fly home, she died from an illness.”

Like most other sensational news incidents, this one took off, big-time: it was shared countless times on Facebook, not just from the original article itself (123,000 shares) but via secondary reporting outlets such as the Huffington Post (nearly 9,000 shares). Credulous reporters and media personalities shared the story on Twitter to the tune of thousands and thousands of retweets, including: Christopher Hooks, Gideon Resnick, Daniel Dale, Sarah Silverman, Blake Hounshell, Brian Beutler, Garance Franke-Ruta, Keith Olbermann (he got 3,600 retweets on that one!), Matthew Yglesias, and Farhad Manjoo.

The story spread so far because it gratified all the biases of the liberal media elite: it proved that Trump’s “Muslim ban” was an evil, racist Hitler-esque mother-killer of an executive order.

There was just one problem: it was a lie. The man had lied about when his mother died. The Fox affiliate hadn’t bothered to do the necessary research to confirm or disprove the man’s account. The news station quietly corrected the story after giving rise to such wild, industrial-scale hysteria.

February 1: POTUS Threatens to Invade Mexico
On February 1, Yahoo News published an Associated Press report about a phone call President Trump shared with Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto. The report strongly implied that President Trump was considering “send[ing] U.S. troops” to curb Mexico’s “bad hombre” problem, although it acknowledged that the Mexican government disagreed with that interpretation. The White House later re-affirmed that Trump did not have any plan to “invade Mexico.”

Nevertheless, Jon Passantino, the deputy news director of BuzzFeed, shared this story on Twitter with the exclamation “WOW.” He was retweeted 2,700 times. Jon Favreau, a former speechwriter for Barack Obama, also shared the story, declaring: “I’m sorry, did our president just threaten to invade Mexico today??” Favreau was retweeted more than 8,000 times.

Meanwhile, the Yahoo News AP post was shared more than 17,000 times on Facebook; Time’s post of the misleading report was shared more than 66,000 times; ABC News posted the story and it was shared more than 20,000 times. On Twitter, the report—with the false implication that Trump’s comment was serious—was shared by media types such as ThinkProgress’s Judd Legum, the BBC’s Anthony Zurcher, Vox’s Matt Yglesias, Politico’s Shane Goldmacher, comedian Michael Ian Black, and many others.

February 2: Easing the Russian Sanctions
Last week, NBC News national correspondent Peter Alexander tweeted out the following: “BREAKING: US Treasury Dept easing Obama admin sanctions to allow companies to do transactions with Russia’s FSB, successor org to KGB.” His tweet immediately went viral, as it implied that the Trump administration was cozying up to Russia.

A short while later, Alexander posted another tweet: “Source familiar [with] sanctions says it’s a technical fix, planned under Obama, to avoid unintended consequences of cybersanctions.” As of this writing, Alexander’s fake news tweet has approximately 6,500 retweets; his clarifying tweet has fewer than 250.

At CNBC, Jacob Pramuk styled the change this way: “Trump administration modifies sanctions against Russian intelligence service.” The article makes it clear that, per Alexander’s source, “the change was a technical fix that was planned under Obama.” Nonetheless, the impetus was placed on the Trump adminsitration. CBS News wrote the story up in the same way. So did the New York Daily News.

In the end, unable to pin this (rather unremarkable) policy tweak on the Trump administration, the media have mostly moved on. As the Chicago Tribune put it, the whole affair was yet again an example of how “in the hyperactive Age of Trump, something that initially appeared to be a major change in policy turned into a nothing-burger.”

February 2: Renaming Black History Month
At the start of February, which is Black History Month in the United States, Trump proclaimed the month “National African American History Month.” Many outlets tried to spin the story in a bizarre way: TMZ claimed that a “senior administration official” said that Trump believed the term “black” to be outdated. “Every U.S. president since 1976 has designated February as Black History Month,” wrote TMZ. BET wrote the same thing.

The problem? It’s just not true. President Obama, for example, declared February “National African American History Month” as well. TMZ quickly updated their piece to fix their embarrassing error.

February 2: The House of Representatives’ Gun Control Measures
On February 2, the Associated Press touched off a political and media firestorm by tweeting: “BREAKING: House votes to roll back Obama rule on background checks for gun ownership.” The AP was retweeted a staggering 12,000 times.

The headlines that followed were legion: “House votes to rescind Obama gun background check rule” (Kyle Cheney, Politico); “House GOP aims to scrap Obama rule on gun background checks” (CNBC); “House scraps background check regulation” (Yahoo News); “House rolls back Obama gun background check rule” (CNN); “House votes to roll back Obama rule on background checks for gun ownership” (Washington Post).

Some headlines were more specific about the actual House vote but no less misleading; “House votes to end rule that prevents people with mental illness from buying guns” (the Independent); “Congress ends background checks for some gun buyers with mental illness” (the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette); “House Votes to Overturn Obama Rule Restricting Gun Sales to the Severely Mentally Ill” (NPR).

The hysteria was far-reaching and frenetic. As you might have guessed, all of it was baseless. The House was actually voting to repeal a narrowly tailored rule from the Obama era. This rule mandated that the names of certain individuals who receive Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income and who use a representative to help manage these benefits due to a mental impairment be forwarded to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

If that sounds confusing, it essentially means that if someone who receives SSDI or SSI needs a third party to manage these benefits due to some sort of mental handicap, then—under the Obama rule—they may have been barred from purchasing a firearm. (It is thus incredibly misleading to suggest that the rule applied in some specific way to the “severely mentally ill.”)

As National Review’s Charlie Cooke pointed out, the Obama rule was opposed by the American Association of People With Disabilities; the ACLU; the Arc of the United States; the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network; the Consortium of Citizens With Disabilities; the National Coalition of Mental Health Recovery; and many, many other disability advocacy organizations and networks.

The media hysteria surrounding the repeal of this rule—the wildly misleading and deceitful headlines, the confused outrage over a vote that nobody understood—was a public disservice.

As Cooke wrote: “It is a rare day indeed on which the NRA, the GOP, the ACLU, and America’s mental health groups find themselves in agreement on a question of public policy, but when it happens it should at the very least prompt Americans to ask, ‘Why?’ That so many mainstream outlets tried to cheat them of the opportunity does not bode well for the future.”

Maybe It’s Time to Stop Reading Fake News
Surely more incidents have happened since Trump was elected; doubtlessly there are many more to come. To be sure, some of these incidents are larger and more shameful than others, and some are smaller and more mundane.

But all of them, taken as a group, raise a pressing and important question: why is this happening? Why are our media so regularly and so profoundly debasing and beclowning themselves, lying to the public and sullying our national discourse—sometimes on a daily basis? How has it come to this point?

Perhaps the answer is: “We’ve let it.” The media will not stop behaving in so reckless a manner unless and until we demand they stop.

That being said, there are two possible outcomes to this fake news crisis: our media can get better, or they can get worse. If they get better, we might actually see our press begin to hold the Trump administration (and government in general) genuinely accountable for its many admitted faults. If they refuse to fix these serial problems of gullibility, credulity, outrage, and outright lying, then we will be in for a rough four years, if not more.

No one single person can fix this problem. It has to be a cultural change, a kind of shifting of priorities industry-wide. Journalists, media types, reporters, you have two choices: you can fix these problems, or you can watch your profession go down in flames.

Most of us are hoping devoutly for the former. But not even a month into the presidency of Donald J. Trump, the outlook is dim.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Race And Racism | According To Hoyt

Race And Racism | According To Hoyt

There is one thing in which liberal activists are right: everyone is racist. There is one thing in which they’re wrong: everyone is racist.

Racism is not confined to white people — and the idea that it equals prejudice plus power is an interesting (and stupid, as usual) Marxist distortion we’ll deal with later — it’s a characteristic of being human.

Why? Oh, like most other things because it was evolutionarily sound. I.e. those who had it survived and had more kids.

The thing is it’s not so much “racism” as in discriminating against another race. It’s “Fear of the stranger.”

And even if it involves just-so stories, it really doesn’t take much to figure out why people who have a fear of the stranger survive and have more children more than those who don’t. Even in modern society, the teen who will hitchhike and get in the car with just anyone has a higher chance of ending up dead. But long before that, the little kid who approaches panel vans driven by strangers, has a good chance of ending up dead. (NOT as high was our media makes it out to be, but high enough their scares are justified.)

In pre-human times, with many bands and tribelets living close enough for kids to stray, the name for a kid who thought that his family or strangers were equivalent was — at least if we go by how our closest relatives, the chimps, treat young from other bands — “dinner.”

Oh sure, in times of stress and famine, the chances that your own band would tuck in were fairly high, but still the chances that dear old mom would eat you were not nearly as high as that a stranger would eat you.

The thing is, this fear of the stranger activates more the more the stranger looks like you and your family. No, seriously. When is the last time anyone was accused of racism towards another species (Okay, fine, Harambe, but that’s an exception and also liberals be cray.) This makes perfect sense, because even toddlers (at least those not desensitized by stuffed animals and parents’ being idiots) understand that large animals are dangerous.

Okay, so being afraid of cows might be a new one, and I sort of invented it (I have no idea why as a child I thought cows and horses were both man-eaters. None. But then I thought there were sharks with chainsaws under my bed ready to lop off any limb that extended over the edge, so we might as well admit as a proto-writer I was already rather Odd) but most kids are afraid of anything large and furry that charges towards them. This is not racism, it’s survival.

The fear of the stranger that goes under “racism” in our society is the fear of people like us and yet not like us.

And it’s not racism in the sense that the media and liberals (who be cray) portray it. If you believe racism as they portray it, then you believe paler people are born with an instinctive fear of African features and dark skin. For the party that claims to be for “science” this is odder than believing in chainsaw sharks. What is their evolutionary reason for it, precisely? Is it the sort of fear as that of the Aliens in Arthur C. Clark’s Childhood’s end? Are people of African descent thought to bring about the apocalypse and does time run in a circular fashion?

Oh, I know, they say we all internalize racism and self-racism. Both those things are stupid. We absorb all sorts of prejudices from the society we live in, but for the last several decades we’ve been pounded with anti-racism. It works too. I was reading a mystery from the eighties where the teen wishes she were black, because you know, black people are so much cooler and don’t oppose other people. Yep, the book was written in the eighties. (And I thought “Rachel Dolezal, we hardly knew ya”) and the writer thought this was a perfectly sane character to sketch. And who knows, it might be, given the barrage of anti-racist propaganda. (More on that later, too.) But racism, true racism, is “fear of the stranger.” The myths and attacks come from THAT and it’s one of the basic instincts of humans. BTW it also makes “internalized racism” even dumber. You don’t fear yourself as a stranger, unless you’ve had one of those strokes that make it impossible to recognize yourself in the mirror.

So if the fear isn’t of dark skin or African features, what is it a fear of? “People who are not like my family/tribe/village to whom I’m accustomed” is a better way to describe it.

When I was a little girl, living in Portugal, I saw all kind of distinctions when I first entered elementary school. Some of my classmates were much darker than I, some were blond. Some were tall, some were short. Being sort of medium, I never had that trigger fear of the “stranger” or at least not towards appearance.

It took going back after 30 years here to realize as a child I’d seen differences that weren’t there. For one, Portuguese “blond” is a medium brown hair (unless enhanced with dye.) I myself was often called “ruiva” by guys calling from street corners, because my dark brown hair threw off red highlights in the full sun. Oh, sure there was a Viking in the wood pile there, and if I’d been in the sun a lot, my hair would look flame red when fully lit (acutally bozo-red. My kids make fun of those pictures.) BUT in the shade hair was dark brown (now it is whatever I feel like coloring it, being a rather ugly iron-grey since I was 28.)

It took my going back after 30 years here and getting stuck watching some sort of multi-school gymnastics competition to have the stunning realization of “Heavens, all these kids look like cousins.”

This is because the human brain in a highly homogeneous population will find the most minor differences to attach “stranger danger” to.

As for big differences… I was six the first time I saw a blond man. I mean REALLY blond. He must have been a tourist. In those days there weren’t many tourists in the north of Portugal, and at any rate, I was only taken to the city when I needed to buy shoes or something else my parents couldn’t find in the village.

So I’d never seen a blond. As I remember, I screamed, and tried to run. I also had nightmares for days. In my mind, I decided he was one of those molded plastic dolls, hair and skin the same color, that had come to life. But that came after for the nightmares. The first reaction was pure fear of the stranger.

The thing about that? Fear of the stranger — duh — goes away with familiarity. I had a blond friend in college (real blond, even if dark blond. Her parents were not from around there. At least her dad wasn’t.) My husband’s best friend for twenty years, whose kids were raised with ours as “cousins” was blond. His kids are blond. I don’t run screaming from them.

If kids are raised together in a great variety of skin colors and hair colors, they don’t even notice them. My kids who attended an urban school, rarely remembered to tell me the race of their friends. Which really wasn’t an issue, except when the friends did the same and their parents did have an issue with friendships between races.

Because again, it is fear of the stranger. Take an American kid who was raised with all skin colors, though, and introduce someone who dresses funny and the fear of the stranger activates. Which is why we’re now using (and fostering) “racism” for things that have bloody nothing to do with race.

I’ve become a different race before my very eyes, for instance. Worst, my family, abroad, has internalized/believes this. Oh, not a different race from them, but that we’re all a minority and despised.

Look, I grew up thinking of myself as “White.” This is a broad church in Portugal. I have a cousin who looks considerably more African than Obama’s Reverend Wright, but was also considered “White.” You’d really need to look pretty dark not to be considered “white.”

Yes, there were hints that some people already considered Portuguese “Latin” when I came here thirty years ago. Like, my first boss in the US thought Portugal was a city in Mexico (and he didn’t like Mexicans.) Someone (at a Mensa meeting for Bob’s sake,) was so sold on me as “Hispanic” that he heard my accent as that of Ricky Ricardo’s. Those of you who heard me (or search sings the blues in this blog, where there is a reading) should be jaw-dropped. Portuguese LOOKS like Spanish written, but sounds nothing like Spanish, so the accent is markedly different. Oh, and when I got my social security card they tried to put “Hispanic” in the field. I’d have taken Latin, but there was no such classification and Spanish I’m NOT.

The Hispanic/Latin classification in governmental things isn’t STRICTLY a race. There are Hispanic whites (one of our friends was an exchange student from argentina, whose family were first generation immigrants from Italy. If they’d immigrated here they’d be “white” but they hadn’t, so she was “Hispanic.”) and black Hispanics and everything in between.

At least that was the idea. BUT the problem when you paint a target and say “this is different” you’re going to activate the human instinct for “fear of the stranger.” And remember that this fear of the stranger can and does pick up minute differences.

So, over the last thirty years, I’ve watched Latin become a race. I’m still not 100 percent sure what people are picking up on, and sometimes what they do pick/don’t pick is bewildering. I’ve more than once been in a line/situation where my two kids are picked as “Latin” but I’m not. Given they’re a mix of me and their very white anglo-saxon looking father, this is somewhat bewildering. Though I’m happy — ???– to report as times go on, I too am picked out as Latin by strangers who don’t even ask before writing “Latin” in the form or saying “Hey, you’re Latin.” (To be fair, whatever the heck the marker is might have been there from the beginning, witness first boss, and social security lady.But it’s now more prevalent. People are more alert to the signs.)

It’s more prevalent now, though. People used to mistake me for Russian (this sometimes still happens, if they hear me before taking a good look at me), Greek, Italian, or Arab. But now, nine times out of ten it’s “Latin.”

Sure there are manners, there is a culture. I can laugh at “you’re so Cuban” jokes because they’re remarkably similar to what “you’re so Portuguese” jokes would be. And maybe what people are picking up on is gestures, a way of standing, but it’s all getting both highlighted by saying “look at this minority here” (seriously, guys, we could do this with redheads or people who have freckles by deciding they were an oppressed minority) and made “racial” instead of cultural. (Part of this is the liberal — liberals be cray — confusion between race and culture. They have come to think these are the same and culture can’t be changed, which is why making someone learn/speak English is racist. As someone who learned English at 14 I’m here to tell you calling Harambe’s death the result of racism is SANER.)

Because of that there is a tendency to consider “white” only blond and blue eyed, which frankly excludes even my husband.

The justification for this is the delightful Marxist illusion that racism= prejudice + power. Have I mentioned I thought Marx — who at any rate is not the originator of this illusion. That’s his followers trying to make his crazy cakes theory work — and his followers are all some form of Aspergers, and unable to see things outside what they’re classified as?

They seem to think — be honest, most sf writers do too — that power equals institutional/economic/government power.

Power in human societies is a matter of one on one interactions. Even if all black people in the US were held in menial positions, do you know how much power those can have? Yep, a cook can spit in your food. But more than that, a daycare worker can wreak havoc among her charges and mess with their self-image for years, even though she’s ultimately a low paid drone. But of course, because of various affirmatives, black people are disproportionately represented in the machinery of our government, both local and federal. And if you think that a DMV worker has no power over you, you don’t drive.

Even if racism REALLY were a thing of power and prejudice, it would apply to every “race” of human, ever. But it’s not. Racism is a fear of the stranger.

And our industrial-education-entertainment complex has the ability to cut out entire groups of people, point them out as different and thereby CREATE racism against them, which then requires intervention to make them “non discriminated against.”

It’s as old a game as any. “Divide and conquer.” If people are dependent on the government to keep them from each other’s throats, then they won’t notice the government is planting a foot more and more firmly on their necks. And if they do, they won’t unite to topple that government.

Sure, you’ll always experience “stranger danger” when you meet someone who is truly different. But stranger danger doesn’t shove people into groups and then train them to fear every other group. By rights, Reverend Wright should be part of the great indistinct majority of people who can be “Whatever” if everyone, himself included, hadn’t been trained to think of african features as meaning “different race.” (Older son gets considered black as often as Latin. It’s the features.)

Stranger danger is not racism as the ideologues proclaim it, but it’s the only form of non-government-induced racism, and the basis of what they use to try to claim that everyone is racist (like that heinous experiment with infants.) Stranger danger is a leftover instinct, not particularly useful in our society except to keep children from panel vans.

Fortunately it can be defeated by living in a varied society with people of all sizes and colors. After a while the alarm stops ringing.

Of course, you’ll still react to someone who ACTS weird comes to town. But seriously, would you want to stop that? Often it is a sign of danger, in fact, as often “acting weird” has to do with mental illness.

More importantly, when that leftist activist comes to town, do you want to think of her as just another human being, even as she lectures you on your “toxic whiteness”? Think of the lost opportunities to point and laugh.

Snowflakes Melting: Huge Rise in Personality Disorders Among Millennials

Ace of Spades HQ

Saturday, March 04, 2017

When Dogs Are Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Have Dogs - Watcher of Weasels

When Dogs Are Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Have Dogs - Watcher of Weasels

Presidential Payback For Media Hubris | Hoover Institution

Presidential Payback For Media Hubris | Hoover Institution

Kidnapping and Torture of White Male by 4 Black Gang Bangers is Savage and Racist (UPDATED) | PUMABydesign001's Blog

Kidnapping and Torture of White Male by 4 Black Gang Bangers is Savage and Racist (UPDATED) | PUMABydesign001's Blog

Where Liberals Go Wrong on 'Discrimination'

Where Liberals Go Wrong on 'Discrimination'

"Privilege" again

JJR-PC Watch


A major obsession on the Left at the moment -- particularly in the universities -- is "white privilege" It is alleged that just being born white gives you privileges not available to others. And whites are supposed to feel shamed and humbled about that and -- ideally -- give all their money to non-whites. It is part of the general and quite deranged attack on mainstream people that caused many Americans to become totally disgusted with the Obama/Clinton Left. They were ready to vote for ANYBODY who would stop the rot. So Donald Trump got the job, despite his hair and many other faults.

I pointed out recently that the "white privilege" concept is racist -- very similar to Hitler's thinking about Jews. In both cases we see hostility to people purely on the basis of their race.

So let me relate a true story about a privileged person I know. L. is an elderly Jewish man who recently had a bad turn. An ambulance was called to take him to hospital. When they were loading him on board, they asked him which hospital he wanted to go to. Brisbane has some big centrally located government hospitals plus a lot of excellent private hospitals scattered about. L. said to take him to WXY, a highly regarded private hospital with about 500 beds.

But after about 15 minutes the ambulance had still not driven off. The ambulancemen said that it was a very busy time with a lot of hospitals "on bypass" (full up) -- and WXY was one of those on bypass. So the ambulancemen had been ringing around to find a hospital with an available bed. L. said not to bother with that. Just ring hospital WXY and tell them whom you have got on board. The ambulancemen did that and L. was promptly whisked to his preferred hospital. He was taken in where others were not.

So was that Jewish privilege? Many people would leap to that conclusion. And Jews are often generous donors to all sorts of charitable causes. So that could have been it. It might have reflected gratitude to a donor. But that was not it at all.

Even though he is in his '80s and has had a stroke, L. has that restless energy we so often see in Ashkenazi (Western) Jews. After his stroke he could have just stayed at home all day and watched TV. He likes watching football on TV so that would have had some appeal.

But that was just alien to him. He wanted to be active and to contribute something to others. So he became a hospital visitor. With his own recent experience of stroke he felt sympathy for people lying in bed all day waiting to get better. So, by arrangement with the WXY hospital, he would spend days just walking around the wards and looking for people who felt like a chat. He is himself a cheery, flexible, positive person who is a good listener so he brightened the days of many.

So you see why everybody at the WXY hospital knew him, appreciated him and leapt to help him when he needed it. The "privilege" he had is the privilege of being a good man. He EARNED his privilege. He is just a good natured conservative man who likes to contribute to the society in which he lives.

And so it is with most privilege. What you do to earn privilege can vary greatly. You can even inherit it. But privilege is not random and is not assigned just by something as incidental as the color of your skin. There are many trailer park denizens -- poor people -- who just get by from week to week even though they are white. Where is their privilege? It doesn't exist because they have done nothing to earn it. Just being white earns you nothing -- JR

Sorry Envious Left, 'Trickle-Down' Economics Is Real, And It's Everywhere

Sorry Envious Left, 'Trickle-Down' Economics Is Real, And It's Everywhere

The late, great Cuban immigrant Roberto Goizueta was named CEO of the Coca-Cola Company in August of 1980, and ran it until his untimely death from cancer in October of 1997. During that time, and according to a 1997 essay about him by the Wall Street Journal’s Nikhil Deogun, the market value of Coca-Cola surged from $4 billion all the way to $145 billion. Thanks to the ongoing globalization of the company’s brand on his watch, Goizueta died nearly a billionaire due to the rise in the value of Coke shares.

Deogun also noted that Goizueta had little time for civic affairs in Atlanta (where Coke is based), or around the world. The alleged “social justice” measures that excite the left plainly didn’t spark excitement within Goizueta. Deogun reported that the CEO focused his energies almost singularly on enriching the shareholders he served. Thank goodness for Goizueta.

Indeed, thanks to the stupendous rise in the value of Coke shares, Atlanta’s Emory University now has one of the largest endowments in the world that has made it possible for the school to give out plentiful scholarships to needy applicants, not to mention all the buildings and professorships Coca-Cola wealth has funded. Atlanta’s Robert Woodruff Foundation, massively enriched by its Coke holdings, has given out many hundreds of millions with an eye toward “investing in health, education, economic opportunity, and community vitality” in Georgia. Maybe most appealing of all from a human interest standpoint, is the story relayed by Deogun about retired Atlanta pediatrician Bill Warren. Warren inherited Coca-Cola shares, and during Goizueta’s time as CEO saw the value his inheritance soar. Enriched by the stratospheric rise in Coke shares, Warren closed his pediatric practice in order to devote his time to helping inner-city Atlanta families with their medical struggles.

This story always springs to mind when pundits and/or politicians attack “tax cuts for the rich.” When they do, the alleged lie that is “trickle-down economics” is trotted out to pour cold water on more economic freedom for the economically productive and/or the prosperously born. And while anecdote should never be confused with fact, the story of Coca-Cola helps disprove the emotional arguments against trickle down. With Coke we see how an immigrant rose to near billionaire status in concert with voluminous job creation, staggering amounts of educational and charitable opportunity, and even more giving by the inheritors of great wealth.

Importantly, the story hardly ends with Coke and Goizueta. If anyone doubts this, they need only walk the streets of American cities, along with the campuses of American universities. Cities are rich with hospitals and hospital wings named after rich donors, along with museums and all manner of other cultural enhancements. A look at society pages in newspapers and magazines reveals splashy parties for the rich that lead to huge charitable donations directed toward those who aren’t. As for universities, visitors are quite simply overrun with evidence of rich donors (earned and inherited) funding countless buildings, chairs, stadiums, scholarships, athletic scholarships, gymnasiums, etc.

Considering a city like Seattle, while prosperous today, in the early 1970s it was essentially left for dead. Formerly a manufacturing locale, the departure of the factory work of the past (are you listening, Donald Trump?) rendered the Emerald City the 70s version of Detroit. But then Bill Gates and Paul Allen, Seattle natives both, relocated what was then called Micro-Soft from Albuquerque, NM to their hometown. A city once on its back soon enough became a destination for the talented. The economy in Seattle rages to this day (success begets success and talent, including Jeff Bezos’s decision to locate Amazon in Seattle), and individuals of varied skills find abundant work opportunities. And while some may disagree with his decision to pull so much of his wealth out of economy, living standard and life-enhancing production, Gates, the richest man in the world, is a prominent player in The Giving Pledge whereby billionaires promise to give away at least half of their wealth to charity.

Notable about Gates is that his software innovations helped lead a surge in personal computer ownership. While IBM’s first mainframe computer retailed for over $1 million in the 1960s, thanks to Gates and other billionaires like Michael Dell, exponentially more powerful computers can be had today for under $200. Considering automobiles, before Henry Ford they were as rare as millionaires; meaning near non-existent. Ford grew rich transforming the unimaginable-to-own auto into a common good; his cars powered by gasoline brought to market by the arguably the richest man in history: John D. Rockefeller. Notable about Rockefeller is an earlier fortune for him sprung from his having made kerosene broadly affordable. Days that used to end at night were soon extended by light. Nowadays the superrich arouse our envy since they fly private jets while we suffer the indignity of the TSA. Ok, but readers can rest assured that there’s a billionaire in our not-too-distant future who will get that way by virtue of creating airplanes for the masses. Bank on it.

Trickle-down is a hoax? Let’s be serious. If by trickle-down we mean that all of our lives get better the more that individuals grow exceedingly rich, then it must be said that trickle-down quite simply is. To deny its reality amounts to willful blindness. And it's more than trickle down. It's realistically a flood. As the definition of rich surges into the stratosphere, the lives of everyone improve markedly. Life would be unrelentingly cruel without the rich, whether earned or inherited.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Bill Nye’s Embarrassing Face-off with Tucker Carlson on Climate Change

Since the premiere of his new nighttime show, Carlson has frequently confronted the dogma of man-made global warming, pushing “experts” to cite data and evidence to back up their claims rather than allowing them to repeat well-worn platitudes about a scientific consensus and the planet’s impending doom. In January, Tucker took on California State University professor Joseph Palermo, who wrote, “If President Trump and his cohort believe the science of global warming is bogus, then they shouldn’t be allowed to use the science of the Internet for their Twitter accounts” based on the commonly accepted factoid that “98 percent of all scientists” believe the climate is changing because of human activity. When Carlson repeatedly asked Palermo to give the source of that figure, which Carlson correctly said was unknowable, the professor couldn’t do it. Climate fail.

But it was Carlson’s takedown of Bill Nye the Science Guy, a television personality and celebrity climate promoter, that exposes the intellectual chicanery behind this crusade. During an interview on Carlson’s show on February 27, Nye goofily claimed that people who question claims about global warming suffer from cognitive dissonance: “We in the science community are looking for information why climate change deniers, or extreme skeptics, do not accept the overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change.” Nye went on to say that denial is denial, the evidence is overwhelming, and the question of whether humans are causing climate change is “not an open question, it’s a settled question.”

Now usually when these charges are made by someone who purports to possess expertise in climate science (Nye has a degree in mechanical engineering), the interviewer acquiesces, immediately surrendering the debate to the climate activist. But Carlson wouldn’t back down: “To what degree is climate change caused by human activity? . . . Is it 100 percent, is it 74.3 percent? If it’s settled science, please tell us to what degree human activity is responsible.”

Nye started to get uncomfortable, well aware he had no certain answer to this so-called settled question, since climate scientists cannot agree how much human activity contributes to climate change. (Even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is suitably vague on this issue; the IPCC’s 2013 report states that it is “extremely likely that more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010 was caused by the anthropogenic increase in greenhouse gas concentrations and other anthropogenic forcings together. The best estimate of the human-induced contribution to warming is similar to the observed warming over this period.”)

This is when Nye went off the rails, refusing to specify the degree to which people cause climate change and instead blaming us for the speed that climate change is happening: “Instead of happening at time scales of millions of years or let’s say 15,000 years, it’s happening on a time scale of decades and now years.” Or, you know, whatever. He went on to tell Carlson humans are “100 percent” responsible for the rate of climate change and it’s happening catastrophically fast. This spun him into a really weird (and unscientific) spot where he started lamenting the fact that global warming has caused us to avoid another Ice Age — perhaps unaware that most people would consider freezing to death a horrible fate — and told Carlson another Ice Age “ain’t gonna happen because of you and me.” Yay CO2!

Sensing he was getting cornered by Carlson, Nye pivoted to the next tactic often used by uninformed and misleading climate activists: the personal attack. “Let me ask you this. Why aren’t you concerned about it? Don’t you have four children? Why aren’t you concerned about climate change?” Because if you don’t care about climate change, you don’t care about your children.

Then right before my eyes, Nye turned into my old college political-science professor, who — no matter what the subject was at the time — would end his lecture by ranting about the Vietnam War. Nye babbled about the weather back in 1750, grape growers in Europe, pesticides in the Midwest, and something about pine-bark beetles in Wyoming. (This is another common tactic of climate alarmists, they talk over you while throwing out unverifiable factoids that make them sound informed when they’re usually just making stuff up.)

While it’s easy to dismiss Nye’s interview as a kooky one-off appearance from an unprepared celebrity scientist, he sadly represents the lack of integrity by most climate-change pushers. They move goalposts, manufacture facts, resist honest debate, and resort to smear tactics when confronted with specific questions they cannot answer. As Carlson said to Nye, “You really don’t know, and you bully people who ask questions.” Good thing Carlson is there to bully back for once.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Blackballed from Baycon

From The Writings of Jon Del Arroz

A couple of weeks ago, I found out that I had been blackballed from speaking at my own home convention, a place I’ve loved and cherished for almost a decade. This was a wanton act of discrimination, and perhaps more importantly, a show of utter disinterest in promoting prominent local science fiction authors. With a supposed emphasis on diversity, this act done to a Hispanic author casts an even darker shadow. It’s about as disturbing as it gets to see folk that you considered friends for years treat you with that level of disregard, while in the same stripe ignoring attendees who deliver me death threats.

Most shockingly, the event organizers (of whom I know very well and very personally) in question did not respond personally, but delivered a form letter to explain the ostracization. It’s disingenuous and displays a dismissal and dehumanization of which I could hardly conceive.

From a global health of fandom perspective, it leads me to the question: if an organization such as the Bay Area Science Fiction Convention doesn’t stand for Bay Area authors, and doesn’t care about Science Fiction first and foremost, what is the point of the organization? If other cons across the country are operating similarly, does a change need to occur?

I’ll get to the answers in a moment, but first, a little background on who I am, if you are a first-time reader. I’ve spoken, between Baycon (as it is called in the vernacular) and sister convention Con-Volution, at Bay Area Sci-Fi programming every year since 2012, which culminated in getting me stints at San Diego Comic-Con to present on panels for back to back years. My speaking has garnered me much positive feedback, actual quotes from attendees facebook messages: “great job moderating, I know that one was hard” and “that was the most fun panel of my life!” I’m a high energy person, and can be the life of the party, beloved by a large contingent of the local community. So what happened? Is my work less relevant this year than in years past?

Last November, four short months ago, after having worked hard for the Doomtown: Reloaded card game with their story and flavor for two years, I finally released my first novel. It’s science fiction, space opera to be precise, and has stirred a lot of the sci-fi and gaming community readerships alike, met with these sorts of accolades:

Big Name Authors:
“This game-related novel is a lively, action-filled tale that should appeal to those who want a space adventure romp with intrigue and a touch of romance.” – Elizabeth Moon, Heris Serrano and Paksenarrion novels

“A classic space opera with all of the trappings, plus an engaging story and characters you can root for; have fun!”

– S.D. Perry, author of Star Trek: Avatar and the Resident Evil novelizations

“Jon Del Arroz is a promising new writer with a knack for story and an interesting voice.”
—Jody Lynn Nye, author of the Wolfe Pack series

“Jon Del Arroz has a novel I’m eager to take a look at…” – Deadlands and Savage Worlds creator, Shane Hensley

“A ripping good space thriller!” – Nebula Award Winner Elizabeth Ann Scarborough

Reader Reviews (35 so far with a 4.7/5 star rating on Amazon):
“This book has everything a science fiction love would want”

“Great read!!!!”

“This is really deep stuff. I feel like I can go into your book for hours. Reminds me of Ender’s Game.”

“An excellent sci-fi adventure story that builds an intriguing vision of the future.”

Never heard of Star Realms until this book was given as a suggested read, so I had no background to draw upon. Stands alone easily! Well thought out plot and very engaging characters.


All pretty amazing feedback for the book (which you can vote for for Dragon Award Best Military Science Fiction and Fantasy here: http://application.dragoncon.org/dc_fan_awards_signup.php ). Exciting stuff, and with a popular app-game attached to it, one would think that a local science fiction convention would be clamoring to make sure I attend, especially if I’ve provided them with hours of hard work in the past. The book should merit a legendary party in its honor, up in the hotel that goes til the wee hours of the morning.

But the convention, despite their namesake, has changed so it’s no longer about Bay Area authors. It’s not about Science Fiction either. One only has to go back to their last few years of programming to see what matters to the powers that be who have taken it over: it’s a place where politics transcend everything. You’re just as wont to find panels about “Combating Creationism”, “Climate Change Scenarios”, or “Diversity and Women”, and even on the appropriately themed programming, you’ll see guests like David Gerrold ranting about evil conservatives and hijacking innocuous topics. Looking at the Twitter feed of this year’s guest of honor, 95% of his posts are political attacks, so we can expect more of the same. What’s lacking is energetic talks about fun of Science Fiction. Ironically, when I first came to the scene, organizers saw my name as Hispanic and knowing little about me, placed me on programming that amounted to an hour and a half of complaining about how hard it is for minorities in fiction.

Believe me, I know how hard it is as the target of soft-blackballing like this.

The reason I was disinvited was because it is well known that I support the President of the United States, duly elected and all, and that I’m happy about the way the country is being run. You know, like most normal people are. That’s the only thing that’s changed between then and now. It’s the same dangerous rhetoric out there that many of these folk who run the convention post on such a consistent basis that has turned Facebook from a “fun catching up with friends” website to a hellhole of fear, anger and hate (which as Master Yoda taught us, leads to suffering!). It’s impossible to communicate anymore, and as such, there is a small but vocal power structure of people in the convention scene and publishing that can’t tolerate the concept of seeing my pretty face. I am a minority that’s been discriminated against, not because of my race, but because of my ideas. In Science Fiction, ideas are everything, and it’s frightening to think about those being shut down as a consequence. These people want my career to fail, and they believe they can accomplish that by silencing me and giving me the cold shoulder.

What they didn’t count on is this: they picked on someone who’s not the type to go down quietly and let them win with this kind of behavior. I don’t care about the odds and I don’t care about social pressure. I’m going to fight my hardest, even if I’m down 28-9 in the middle of the third quarter, when the commentators relentlessly tell me there’s no path to victory. Some things are worth fighting for, even in conditions like those. And I know how to win.



Baycon and its sister convention Con-Volution have been headed down this path for years, and I have heard stories about how local cons across the nation are facing similar problems. When conventions stop being about fun, and start being about grievance and hate, less and less people attend. They’ve been seeing this trend go on for years without a clear solution, as local comic-cons, anime cons, gaming cons and the like have skyrocketed in membership. Each year I keep seeing the same people ask why, and the answer is right in front of their faces. Each year, they double down with hyper-charged political programming, presenting only one side.

When you turn something that is fun, something that people pay good money to come connect and enjoy into something, only to be faced with a browbeating, angry, and exclusive situation, you lose people. Here in California, the splits seem so extreme perhaps they think they can get away with it, but by disinviting rising prominent local authors like myself, they’re still sending a message to 40% of people that they’re not welcome. They’ll also find themselves losing the elusive “middle” as they see this and figure they would rather spend time at one of those other cons where they can just have fun and not get preached to. With a theme this year of “Utopia/Dystopia”, and the guest mentioned above, I can only imagine how bad the political ranting and preaching is going to get. Why can’t we return to the the sense of wonder of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert Heinlein, or Orson Scott Card that used to be brought to us in rich tradition? Those alternative voices would be shouted down in today’s environment.

It’s my policy to not complain about something unless I am working toward and presenting a solution. So do I have one? Absolutely. It’s simple, and can be applied across the field. Focus on Science Fiction. Support local authors. Reach out, don’t turn away. You’re not in a movie “fighting nazis” and doing good for the world by making a politically charged anger-fest and ignoring anyone who’s not on board with that. You’re just attempting to hurt people who disagree with you, and failing at it. Removing that element is simple, and we can all find commonality together pretty easily like we did in years past, and leave grievances behind. We can work together to create smiling loyal friends instead of sad, kicked puppies. Together, we can make Science Fiction smart again, make Science Fiction fun again, make Science Fiction great again!

According To Hoyt

According To Hoyt

No, I’m not going to rehash the problem that raising minimum wage means fewer entry jobs, which over time make for fewer people who even have the (timeliness, work) habits to hold a job, which, over time, impoverishes a society and leads to more welfare. This is a classic “kindness can be cruel” paradox, impenetrable to do gooders who operate on feels.

Being the world’s worst-ever person (but I have to share the trophy with Kate) I’m not even going to rehash the whole “but people can’t live on minimum wage” controversy. It’s true in most states of the Union (but not all) most single people can barely squeak by on minimum wage. It’s also true that you can’t raise a family on it (but then why should minimum wage earners be sole-earners when no one else can afford to be?) though this is somewhat mitigated by earned income credits, or at least it was the year when that was about our income. Being the world’s worst person I’m just going to say “Good, it’s an incentive to move up the ladder.” I’m also going to note that even in the current economy and for struggling millenials, everyone I know who got a minimum wage level job was making more within a year.

I’m going to admit there are cases of people trying to raise a family on minimum wage. There are also cases of people trying to raise a family on nothing. The problem of poverty and/or lack of ambition is not an easy one to solve, and hard cases make bad law. Lousy social programs, too. Minimum wage is one such, having far more horrible than good consequences.

Having a minimum wage at all is a left-hand policy, one that believes individuals, left on their own, will mercilessly exploit other humans beings, who, left on their own, have no recourse but taking it.

Like most such policies, and outside certain places and times, it is daft and more than a little presumptuous. It assumes that one side is needlessly villainous, and the other side is completely helpless, BUT the bureaucrat, without the slightest knowledge of the business of one or the skills of the other has the right information to set “minimum wages.”

Sure men try to make as great a profit as they can on their business, which includes paying employees as little as they can get away with. This means in practicality that they pay as little as they can to ensure a valuable worker isn’t poached by the next guy over.

This means when you start out, unless you have extensive preparation (and sometimes even then. I’ve heard beginning engineers are a net DRAIN) you aren’t worth much and you get paid very little indeed. (I worked for two years for just over $2 an hour.) But, as your skill increases, and particularly your skill at your particular employment, your wage is raised, to prevent you finding someone who will pay you more. Somewhere there, it will find its equilibrium, aka, what you’re worth.

This works for writers, who as contract workers have no minimum wage, for instance, and our advance often gets raised when we hit a new sales milestone, just so we won’t wander off to house B and say “Hey, do you need a novel?”

Yes, again, there are those people who will be exploited. (There are people who ARE helpless and absent a kind-hearted boss will make next to nothing.) But I submit it would be easier to have a more robust earned income supplementation than to distort our economy with A minimum wage law of any kind. (Yeah, I’m a libertarian. A man can seduce me by whispering in my ear “Taxation is theft.” BUT I’m also aware that some evils will always be with us, and that we’re not getting rid of redistribution. Envy and its effects are a monkey-sin. I’d just be happy if government meddling did LESS harm.)

As I’ve said before, economics is a science. Trying to legislate it makes as much sense as legislating the law of gravity or the rate of rain fall. It might make you feel good, but it doesn’t work that way.

The way it works is by seeking other channels, which include being paid “under the table”, forcing other employees to work unpaid hours (trust me, it can be done, particularly in a bad economy) and firing the dead weight, and … hiring illegal labor.

The US doesn’t have an illegal immigration problem. The US has a minimum wage problem.

Given our large and unguarded border (yes, wall, but how much will be built and how much will it stop armed coyotes and drug smugglers) with a country where the cost of living and wages are MUCH lower, paying $10 an hour (let alone $15) means you’ve built an attractive nuisance. This is like having a pool without a fence or any barriers that might attract neighborhood children who can’t swim.

The minimum wage will attract otherwise honest people, cause them to risk their lives, feed illegal businesses and break the law. People will break every law to get here, because at that rate, and living 20 men to an apartment, they can send home enough to keep their wife and children in luxury. You can’t stop men from coming over and trying to do that, particularly when the pay is for illegal work. You just can’t. It’s a biological imperative for a father to take care of his brood.

On top of that there’s the corruption of the employer. Oh, sure, if you’re hiring them with fake social security numbers, you’re paying minimum wage. Probably. Only they’re illegal, and it’s easy to make them work double time. Or you know you don’t have to declare exactly how much they worked and pay benefits. They’re not going to file for taxes. A lot of employers will also hire under the table and pay less than minimum wage.

We also can’t stop the employer doing that, not even if the employer is otherwise an honest man and devoted to the nation. Why not?

Because in many cases we’d be requiring them to kill off their business. I understand many agricultural businesses simply can’t afford to pay minimum wage and stay in business. At any rate, the attractive nuisance law applies again. All it takes is some employers not being too scrupulous and hiring illegal workers. Then the illegal workers allow these employers to lower the price of their product.

The end result is forcing everyone in that field to hire illegal workers. Rumors that Toni Weisskopf drove by a home depot and said “I need to people to write novels” and Larry and I jumped in the back of the truck are somewhat exaggerated, but a similar effect is seen in my field, not from illegal laborers but from academicians moving into writing. When someone starts writing science fiction to pad her university resume, she’ll take an absurdly low advance, now down to something like 3k per novel. This is not her income, or even a decent part of her income, it’s just a satisfaction to “publish and perish.” The ability to pay that low an advances forces down all the advances across the field. It is not the sole explanation for why advances declined from a living wage in the forties and fifties to “money for some pizzas” now, but it is a portion of it. What it did to the field wasn’t pretty in terms of quality either.

What illegal labor does to the fields it takes over is not pretty either. There is a lot less investment into working at very low wages in a foreign land, as a worker who will move around a lot, and who doesn’t care what his record is, than in building a career. There is a reason we joke about things built by “Manuel labor” and their inherent shoddiness.

And the way to get rid of it is not a wall, nor enhanced verification. When you have an attractive nuisance of this magnitude, the neighbors will be attracted, and man is a clever ape. Humans will find a way.

The way to get rid of illegal immigration is to get rid of minimum wage and supplement the income of the truly needy in other ways.

What are the chances of getting rid of this bad idea whose time should never have come, but which has been with us for over a hundred years?

So. About that wall. How much do you think it will cost to build and guard?

Friday, February 24, 2017

How the ctrl-Left drove me away from American liberalism | Brad R. Torgersen

How the ctrl-Left drove me away from American liberalism | Brad R. Torgersen

A good friend of mine, who also happens to be an outstanding author, once quipped, “If I am forced to choose a side, I choose the side which is not forcing me to choose sides.”

Seldom have I ever encountered phrasing more apt. Because that’s precisely how I feel. I’ve been feeling that way, for years now. It was not a sudden thing. It was a gradual realization. The slow clarity of an underlying sentiment, incrementally surfacing.

To make the picture more specific, let me lay out some background details. This is a bit wordy, so bear with me:

When I first met my wife in 1992, we were both volunteering at community radio station KRCL-FM in Salt Lake City, Utah. Back then, KRCL was something of a tentpole organization for folk who styled themselves as counter-culture. It was staffed with an oddball assortment of old-school Hippies, new-school progressives, the occasional play-anarchist, plenty of environmentalists, a few gays and lesbians, a tiny handful of non-caucasians (my future wife among them) as well as one or two small-c conservatives and small-l libertarians who worked very hard to keep their political cards held close to their chests; at least around the other staff. George Carlin was arguably my favorite comedian. I was attending the University of Utah, having turned down an Army recruiter the year before.

In other words, I was the proverbial sapling, with his roots sunk into decidedly progressive soil.

By the end of 1996, my wife and I had moved to the Puget Sound in Washington State, we were again involved with a public radio station — I was student program director of KSVR-FM from 1995 to 1998 — and I had just voted in my second U.S. Presidential election, selecting Bill Clinton for a second term. I didn’t think Bob Dole was a bad guy, but I tended to pick Democrats in most categories. Why not? Nothing in my life had convinced me that the Democrats weren’t “my” party. And I was surrounded by men and women who all felt the same way. New Dimensions was my favorite weekly talk program, and I was an avid Carl Sagan fan. Being in an interracial marriage practically made me a Democrat by default, though I did not ever sign up with the party, because I liked to be able to keep my options open — and not feel like I “owed” my vote to anybody. I was (and remain) pro-choice, as well as pro-legalization (rec drugs) even though I am an LDS teetotaler of same.

For the year 2000 I voted Al Gore — and was quite upset about Bush 43’s win, as some of my friends from the old incarnation of the ESPN Utah Jazz message forum may recall.

All of which is to say, I may not have been a card-carrier, but I was as reliable a constituent as any Democratic Party planner could have hoped for — a liberal by any reasonable definition of the period. Living in a liberal part of the country, too.

But . . . things had already begun to shift, even if I myself did not yet realize it.

Again, let me lay out some background details:

I’d watched the unfolding of the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, and could not understand why so many determined liberals and especially feminists, were so willing to give Bill Clinton a pass. Yeah, sure, I voted for the guy too, but voting for a guy and lending him blind license to ill, are not the same thing. I was pretty sure (then, as well as now) if Bob Dole had been in Clinton’s place, everyone defending Clinton, would have crucified Dole. Bill Clinton (and his ardent defenders) let me down as a result.

Likewise, I’d had a front-row seat for the WTO riots in Seattle. Beyond the disruption those riots caused — at the time, I was working at One Union Square — I couldn’t understand what the rioters hoped to accomplish. They seemed to be protesting anything and everything. There was no coherency. Likewise, there was no discipline. Window-smashers assaulted downtown businesses, while anarchists baited the police into overreacting. Crowds pushed up the ramps near the convention center, trying to block I-5. Public transportation was blocked and vandalized too. It seemed to me I was witnessing, not a dedicated movement for change, but a kind of ritualistic cultural event — for all those who felt like the need to express themselves outweighed actually trying to accomplish a goal with measurable metrics. I was very turned off by the whole episode.

Of course, then came the morning when some nice Middle Eastern gentlemen of a certain religious affiliation converted four full airliners into cruise missiles aimed at U.S. targets on U.S. soil. I’ll never forget that day. Even though I was on the other side of the country. It was the moment when many of my conventional wisdoms — about how people, and the world, work — began to spectacularly unravel.

Because none of the Left-wing reactions to September 11, 2001, made any sense to me.

College professors called for solidarity with the terrorists. Liberals were openly self-blaming the United States for the event. Conspiracy theorists said it was an inside job by Bush, to fool us into going to war. People once again lamented the fact Gore had had the Presidency “stolen” from him — because what was needed most of all, was a President who could go to the United Nations and repent before the world; on account of America’s long history of sordid capitalistic colonialist nationalist imperialism. Or something along those lines.

My reaction to it all was to openly say, “What the f***?!”

The United States — indeed, the liberal West as a whole — had been brutally attacked! Thousands died!

Yet the Left blamed us for the thing? We were the bad guys??!

Clearly, there was a major malfunction happening — at the ideological level.

And the more I began to openly criticise these Left-wing reactions — including my adamant insistence that Gore would have been compelled to go into Afghanistan, just as Bush had been — the more hostility I encountered. And not just theoretically, either. I mean from people I worked with, went to school with, and also had become friends with. The culture of King County was going in one direction about the whole event, and I was going in a different direction. The more time went on, the wider the gap between these two trajectories became.



By the end of 2002, I was signed up with the Army Reserve. Me, they guy who’d been talked out of joining ten years prior, because my Dad knew I was an easy-going fellow who liked to take it easy, and Dad was convinced I’d hate military life.

Dad was right, too. I am not a natural serviceman. It’s an existence quite foreign to my sensibilities. But I signed up anyway, because 9/11 felt to me like my generation’s version of Pearl Harbor. To arms, young men! Do not be caught standing on the sideliness of history! Take up the flag of your country, right or wrong! That sort of thing. I had no illusion I’d be any kind of Rambo. When I joined, I had bad eyes, a bad knee, was very sedentary, and did not possess any talent for tactical training like the Army employs. I wouldn’t be an infantry rock star. I just wanted to help out, in whatever capacity they’d have me. Because that’s my general instinct in most crises: I simply want to assist, in tangible ways that count, versus merely being somebody who gets pissed off on the internet.

Trajectories, continuing to diverge. The ground lurches beneath the tree?

Seattle Democrats took an election away from Dino Rossi. Who won fairly — if narrowly — in the Washington race for governor. The Democrats of King County demanded a recount, then set about inventing ballots for Rossi’s competitor all along the way, and once they put Christine Gregoire over the top, magically the results became legit.

These Democrats didn’t even try to hide what they were doing. They crowed about it, exclaiming, “We’re just getting revenge for what Bush did in 2000!”

There was the woman on the street who said, “Go Army, rape those Iraqis!” when she saw me wearing my Army sweatshirt outside my apartment complex on Lake City Way. This somewhat startling comment would be reminded to me a couple of years later, when a classmate at Seattle Central Commun(ist) College told me it was a shame I signed up with the Reserve, because my job was to kill people. Uhhhh, what? Since when does being an HR Specialist at a Garrison Support Unit involve killing people? It got even worse when the students at SCCC began throwing water bottles at Army recruiters, as well as destroying Army recruiter literature. The students ran the recruiters off campus — and cheered themselves doing it!

Those of us who were military, and attending, wondered how long it would be before we ourselves became targets.

This was about the time a one-man protest operation named ReplacementsNeeded! was covering every light and utility pole in the First Hill and Capitol Hill area, with quasi-anarchist, anti-military agit prop posters. They were vulgar, ghastly, and inflammatory, and they stretched from the sidewalk to seven feet above the pavement. Every. Single. Pole. Within about a two mile radius, give or take. He never cleaned up after himself. He fled Seattle with $10,000.00 in fines on his head, unpaid, then bitched on-line about how Evergreen State College wasn’t progressive enough for him. I think he’s since left the States altogether? I am not sure. I know he never took down any of his signs, despite the city ordnance.

Anyway, anti-military and anti-Bush protest marches were also routinely sprouting from the Capitol Hill district, usually kicking off at SCCC and meandering their way through downtown streets, leaving a wake of debris and sometimes damage to public and private property.

Like when they defended Clinton in 1998, I was severely let down by the liberal behavior I witnessed and experienced, after I joined the military. Nobody seemed to care if it was organized, or not. Nobody seemed to question the sense of attacking soldiers because the attackers hated the President. Feelings mattered more than facts. The ends justified the means. They were proud of it, too.

The tree finds itself standing still, as the sod runs like a river to the left . . .

Needless to say, I voted Bush for his second term. First time ever for me, selecting a Republican in a Presidential race. Even I was surprised. I had been unhappy with the Bush win four years earlier. But the nation was at war. I’d always thought that failing to remove Saddam Hussein — in 1990/1991 — was a mistake. The 2003 Iraq invasion seemed like the U.S. was simply taking care of long-unfinished business. And Kerry? Goodness, how in he world was I supposed to take that man seriously? He seemed to embody everything that had been going haywire (in my opinion) with American politics, in the wake of 9/11. He’d thrown his medals over the White House fence when it was politically expedient, and now he was “reporting for duty” and saluting at the DNC, when it was politically expedient.

I did not trust John Kerry to lead the country any better than Bush had. So, while I did not think Bush was flawless — he wasn’t — I thought he was the better option. Just as I’d thought Clinton was the better option, years before.

But, to be an “outted” Bush voter in Seattle, was to be an unwanted alien — living and working in the Puget Sound I-5 corridor.

I had betrayed the zeitgeist of the region.

Eventually, my wife and I moved back to Utah. Not because of the politics, but because of the cost of living. For an area that prides itself on being merciful to people who don’t have a lot of money, the Puget Sound I-5 corridor is a wickedly expensive place to try to function on a single income; when you’ve got a wife and child to house and feed. Plus, we knew my Mom and Dad would be needing some assistance soon, and it was far easier for us to go to them, than for them to come to us.

But when the Obama election rolled around later that same year, even being in Utah was not sufficient to insulate me from the same attitudes I used to face routinely in the Puget Sound. Because suddenly, if you weren’t fainting to the ground with love and adoration for Saint Obama, you weren’t just called stupid, you were declared evil. You were RACIST! Because nobody could not vote for Obama, without being a RACIST! could they? Of course not. Both the media and the Obama voters let all of us — in poor dumb hick fly-over country — know just what kind of reprobates we were. For not being on board the Obama bandwagon.

And I didn’t even vote for McCain. He seemed like a dud to me. Nor was I impressed with Obama, who seemed like he was all flash, but little substance. I wrote in Mitt Romney for (P) and Condi Rice for (VP) knowing I was “throwing away” my vote. It had not been the first time, nor would it be the last.

Didn’t matter to the Obama zealots, of course. Nor did my marriage. Everybody who was not 110% pro-Obama, was magically painted with the RACIST! brush. This was a fact, the zealots said. We were all RACIST! It was declared over, and over, and over again. Apparently this made my wife a RACIST! too, against her own “kind” — because she voted third party in 2008, as she has often done over the years (she’s just an independent gal like that, and was not impressed with Obama either.)

So, did Obama eventually win me over, the way Clinton and Bush had won me over?

No. Obama cut arbitrary deals with Wall Street and the banks. The economy — already headed into the hole — crashed and burned. He paid lip service to promises made on the campaign trail — closing Guantanamo bay, removing U.S. troops entirely from places like Iraq — while courting the favor of vocal elites in academia, the media, and the entertainment industry. He loved being treated like a rock star, because in reality he was still just that nerdy, underachieving, culturally-white black kid; who had to affect a ghetto accent when politically touring dilapidated inner-city streets he never lived on.

But damn if Obama didn’t make his Leftist white voters feel spectacular about themselves, for having voted for him!

Apparently this was the sole great benefit of re-voting for Obama again in 2012: being able to proclaim your awesomeness as a human being, for having re-elected Teh Furst Black Presadent.

I am sounding mighty cynical at this point, am I not? But wait, there’s more.

By late 2015, I was overseas with a Joint Task Force designed to confront ISIS. We watched Obama effectively yank the cord on our mission. We also watched as Hillary Clinton — recently of Benghazi disaster fame — wiped the walls with Bernie Sanders. She would face Trump for the Presidency in 2016. It was a certainty that she would win. No way would Trump make it. He was an absurd candidate. Hillary was inevitable. Very few of us in that Task Force trusted her. But Trump? The reality TV star with bronze hair and orange skin? What?

My UK counterpart in the Task Force, a 30+ year British Army veteran, was cannier than I was. “Mate, get ready for President Trump,” he said. I told him it was impossible. After watching Romney lose in 2012 — the only Presidential election in which I’d ever felt truly and deeply invested — I had no faith in any kind of resistance to someone like Hillary. She would cake walk her way into the Oval Office.

My Brit friend turned out to be right.

But not before all of us who could not stomach Hillary’s lying and duplicity in Washington D.C., got to be labeled SEXISTS!

Failure to be full-blown enthusiastic about Hillary was SEXIST! We were woman-haters, all of us. Even other women, who clearly detested their own vaginas, by not supporting Hillary.

Many of us would have happily voted Democrat in that race, if someone like Joe Lieberman or Jim Webb had run. I myself would have cheered a Lieberman or a Webb candidacy. I would have been all in. Hell, I was half-serious when I said I’d vote Sanders before I’d vote Trump. Remember what I said, about not wanting to “owe” a vote to anyone? The Republicans had not captured me. I was in play. And so were many other people. I know. I talked to them. It was the easiest crossover bet for the Democrats since Clinton in 1996. Surely. Because . . . Trump?! Seriously??!

But no. Hillary railroaded the DNC and PWN3D the Dem primary process, tossing Bernie out on his ear. As had been the case for a long time, what Hillary wanted, Hillary got. And it didn’t matter who stood in her way.

Meanwhile, the Left applauded, and applauded, and applauded some more.

If you weren’t “With Her!” you were deplorable. Everybody who was anybody, was going out of his or her way, to wave the Hillary flag. It was wall-to-wall virtue signalling, dialed to eleven.

Then came the evening of November 8, 2016. Oh my.

I was as shocked by the Trump win as any other non-Trumper. Outrageous. And yet, it was nice to see an ideological inevitability — “I’m with Her!” — overturned by a republican (note the small r) process still healthy enough to stand up to a vainglorious technocrat of Hillary’s raw ambition. I mean, she did everything right. She courted celebrity opinion. She raked in the endorsements. She had corporations in her hip pocket, and billions of dollars behind her, plus a friendly media who ate out of both her hands. Academics loved her. All the Obama faithful loved her.

Not loving her, was a sure sign of misogyny. Nobody wants to be a woman-hater, right? How does she not win?

Apparently, by being the one candidate 63 million voters disliked even more than Donald Trump.

Which of course has touched off close to 90 days of destructive political pandemonium in these United States. Denunciations. Riots. Beatings. Calls for the White House to be bombed, and for the military to rise up and overthrow the government. All from liberals. All by liberals. A righteous junta! Nevermind that the military vote went to Trump at a 3 to 1 ratio, with a large percentage of the remaining military vote going to 3rd parties. I was in the latter category.

And I have been reminded every single day, just how far I’ve been pushed away — by so-called progressives in this country.

Sure, some of that is me walking my talk. I am not exactly the same guy I was 25 years ago. And not because I don’t think some of the idealism of liberal thought is not worthy, or even evocatively beautiful.

It is.

Liberalism — the kind I was attracted to in my teens, and early twenties — mostly focuses on brighter futures with better choices.

Yet at many points over the past quarter century, that shining picture of what the Left supposedly stands for, has been undermined again, and again, and again, and again, by the behavior of self-styled Leftists.

Maybe it all comes down to the fact that I decided Alinsky’s ballyhooed rules are pernicious. Not once do they involve self-reflection, nor questions of higher moral obligation to a power or a need beyond simple political expediency. Like with the 2004 Washington State governors race, the ends justify the means. If you’re a Leftist and you have to lie to get what you want, then lie. If you’re a Leftist and you have to cheat to get what you want, then cheat. If you’re a Leftist and you have to hurt people to get what you want, or if you have to frighten people into not opposing you, then hurt and frighten people.

Never doubt that everything you — the Leftist — says or does, is done justifiably.

Everyone and everything is a fair target. Lash out. Incriminate. Slander. Punish. Make them quake in their boots. They deserve it, the jerks. “If you’re not with us, you’re with the terrorists!” Oops, Leftists excoriated Bush 43 for saying that. Now they themselves live it every day. “If you didn’t vote for Hillary, you’re with the KKK and the Nazis!”

Leftists now give all of us a political litmus test, without exception. Wrong-thinkers will be singled out for eviction from the human equation.

I certainly experienced plenty of this crap during the Sad Puppies campaign, wherein us rowdy sci-fi nonconformists from Delta Tau Chi crashed the Faber homecoming parade, and all hell broke loose with the people from Omega Theta Pi.

And if you’re wondering how in the world an Animal House analogy works in all of this, consider the fact that Senator Blutarsky undoubtedly switched to the Republicans after 9/11/2001. Donald Trump rallies were the toga parties of the election. The Electoral College smashed Hillary Clinton’s guitar against the stairwell wall.

I don’t feel like I’ve stopped being the liberal I was at age 19 — still married to the same amazing lady, still enjoying public radio, still pro-choice, still pro-legalization, still about people having brighter futures — as much as I feel left behind.

The cultural shift that’s masqueraded beneath a banner of liberalism, kicked me out. Or I walked away. Whichever.

Like Hermey the elf, from Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer. “You can’t fire me, I quit!”

Naturally, my liberal friends reading this will shake their heads from side to side, with pained expressions on their faces. “He’s got it all wrong. The Right is so much worse. They are always worse.”

Hey folks, I never said the Right was perfect. Nor are the people of the Right immune to being hypocrites about a lot of things.

But here’s the shocker. There is far, far more true liberalism on the American Right, in this 21st century, than inhabits the American Left.

I’ll say it again: there is far more real, actual, tangible liberalism, on the American Right, at this point in time, than on the American Left. By a significant margin.

This is not my opinion based on Fox News, Limbaugh, or Breitbart. I don’t watch Fox News, nor do I listen to Limbaugh, nor do I follow Breitbart. This is my opinion based on a quarter century of cumulative experience and analysis. I have reached this point, having felt the spectrum of American political discourse being dragged beneath my feet, such that many of the old-style liberal heroes of yore would be called dangerously extreme Republicans today.

Doubt me? Hell, JFK was a recklessly warmongering one-percenter. Like Bush 43 and Romney rolled into one! He could not hope to win the Democratic ticket in 2017. He’d be compared to Trump, and lambasted in a similar manner. Meanwhile, Martin Luther King would be called a race traitor, for failing to embrace intersectional identity theories and their attendant anti-caucasian, anti-male, anti-straight, anti-cis hatreds — which place Victimhood (caps v) above content of character.

Even the original Suffragettes would be kicked out of the Good Guy club, for their traditional opposition to abortion.

In other words, there is almost nothing about the 21st century American Left, which can be accurately called liberal. No way in hell.

The 21st century American Left is instead a cultural and political enforcer of both dogma, and uniformity. Which preens in the mirror each morning, celebrating its eminent superiority, and talking down to, attacking, or otherwise throwing out anyone and everyone who steps out of line.

It doesn’t take much to get put on the “bad people” list. Witness all the proper progressives forever being witch-burned on our campuses, by the intersectional crybabies (in grown bodies) who demand to never be disagreed with, otherwise they’re triggered — and need to run to their safe spaces.

I can’t ride in that dysfunctional clown car. It is anti-intellectual, and anti-reason. It proposes to elevate feelings above all else, and has turned victimization — both real and imagined — into a bizarre form of morally-elevated celebrity.

Being a victim is now chic!

Failure to abide by the dogma, gets you attacked. You can’t even criticize the dogma from a friendly standpoint, without being ejected from the tribe of propriety. You are kicked to the curb. Shamed. Shunned. Called names. They attack your friends, your family, try to get you fired from your job, and worse.

I mean, good Lord, they attacked Lady Gaga’s Super Bowl halftime show, because she didn’t get up on stage and pull a Madonna or an Ashley Judd.

Thus Lady Gaga “failed” the movement. She is a traitor. Yes, Lady Gaga.

Meanwhile, you can apparently beat a woman to the ground on the campus of U.C. Berkeley, and it’s no-harm no-foul — so long as you can call that woman a “fascist” just because you feel like she’s bad, for having a different opinion.

My gentle suggestion would be: the first step in fighting fascism, involves not being a fascist.

“But isn’t the American Right crackers too?” Sometimes, sure. Delta Tau Chi is hardly a monolith of coherency.

It’s just that, I think the ass-paddlers of Omega Theta Pi can have their black robes and their rituals of humiliation — cough, “check your privilege,” cough — while I will be over at the slum fraternity, having fun with the other deplorables. Delta Tau Chi never tells me I have to prove I am a good “ally” by debasing myself endlessly, then going on the attack against others. They also don’t demand that I model and emulate an increasingly strident and narrow form of ideological purity. They further do not believe in throwing friends to the wolves — when the torches and pitch forks of the Left arrive at the door.

Omega Theta Pi — the modern American Left — are control freaks by comparison. They are in love with banning things. Outlawing words. Ideas. People. Making it a punishable offense to disagree. All while taking selfies and giving themselves squishy hugs for being such wonderful, proper, altogether forward-thinking and forward-believing human beings.

And if you believe otherwise, then f*** you, you’re a RACIST! and a SEXIST! and a HOMOPHOBE! and an ISLAMOPHOBE!

Which reminds me: every LDS person in good standing has become painfully aware of just how big the double-standard is, when the Left talks about religion, and religious cultures. Islam and Muslims are a protected, sacrosanct class. Mormons? F*** ’em. Racist, sexist, inbred, fanatical morons. The LDS leadership in Salt Lake City cannot utter a single peep about church policy, without it becoming an excuse for breathless Left-wing tabloid hyperventilation — about the “problem” of Mormonism. Meanwhile, Islamic radicals continue to murder on just about every continent, and violate every sacred belief in the progressive playbook, but we as a nation are piously reminded to never hold Islam or Muslims accountable. Never, ever, ever, ever. If you say otherwise, you are ISLAMOPHOBIC!

And being ISLAMOPHOBIC! is almost as bad as being TRANSPHOBIC! Even though getting caught being gay or trans in many Isamic countries, is a death sentence. Or worse.

But then, the modern American Left is not great at logical consistency. Thoughts don’t count. It’s the feelz.

Skeptical? Check this out.

Want to be a woman today, even if you’re genetically and anatomically male? Shazam! You’re a woman! Here is your golden Victim crown of identity! Nobody is allowed to say otherwise! Oh wait, women who are actually women — with lady parts and everything — cease to be women the instant they run for office as Republicans. They magically lose their melanin too. Just ask Mia Love if she’s still allowed to be black.

The American Left will confiscate your gender and your ethnicity, if they catch you playing for the wrong team.

Again, the pattern emerges: taking away, taking away, taking away. The modern American Left is obsessed with removing things. I don’t know how or why it came to this, but it has. They want to take away your single-occupancy vehicle. They want to take away your ability to operate your private business according to your religious convictions — except Muslims, who will get a pass. They want to take away your right to choose where your kids are schooled, and how. They want to take away your furnace, and your air conditioner — global warming, cough, climate change, cough, reasons, cough. They want to take away your options at restaurants, and also at the grocery store — you will no longer be allowed to have “bad” things in “bad” quantities. They want to take away your right to own firearms and defend yourself, your family, and your property — because only the police should have guns. Even though the same mouths claims the police are out of control and kill black people for sport.

This is not liberalism. It’s contradictory, nonsensical tyranny, which dresses itself up in a ghastly pink-fuzzy bunny suit of false benevolence. Like Ralphie from Christmas Story, except he’s been zombified, and he’s going to eat you.

You know what I say to that?

In the immortal words of Ned and Uncle Jimbo, from South Park: IT’S COMING RIGHT FOR US!

Speaking of South Park, if you need any further proof that the American Left has dragged the spectrum beneath us, consider the Comedy Central fixture which went from being the prime amusement of adolescent liberals, to one of the few entertainment weapons left in the arsenal of adult conservatives (I know, I know, we’re often the same people; just two decades older.)

Matt and Trey are among the few vocal entertainment pairs left, who will openly make fun of progressives and progressive gospel.

Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein being another pair. I have seldom laughed harder, than while watching Portlandia.

(Satire is Kryptonite to the 21st century liberal moral majority, just as it was Kryptonite to the 20th century conservative moral majority.)

My bottom-line analysis? American liberalism abandoned American liberalism.

I watched and felt it happen, right before my own eyes. The Left became power-drunk on their ascendant ride through our culture, and now it’s morphed into the very kind of petty, thin-skinned, tin-pot authoritarianism which the Left claims to oppose. It rejects all questioning, and seeks to revile and hurt the questioner. Look at how scientists who criticize climate change alarmism, become pariahs in their own profession — called “denialist” in an almost ritualistic fashion, by the keepers of the gnostic doctrine of the Church of Global Warming. See how women and ethnic minorities and gays and lesbians, who “come out” as conservative, or Republican, are treated as traitors. Witness business owners and executives who resign in humiliation, when they are “outed” for supporting religiously-based political initiatives that run contra to the Left-wing agenda. (Unless they’re Muslim — free pass!)

Folks, I can’t truck with this. I can’t be with the authoritarian control freaks — people who fight the so-called alt-Right, by inventing an even more problematic ctrl-Left. Not even if the ctrl-Left are the heirs to history, like they always claim they are.

My personal suspicion — as someone who recognizes that history is not a straight-line ramp of destiny, but rather a variable waveform of deliberate action twined with chance — is that nobody owns the future. The more hotly and adamantly somebody claims to own the future, like Khrushchev slamming his shoe at the United Nations, the more sure I am this person (or this movement) is writing its own epitaph. Authoritarians always fail. Always. If not sooner, then later. Because human beings are unruly. We seldom do as we’re told. Not even when it’s the cuddly cudgel of compassionate dictatorship banging down across our skulls.

Yes, yes, I know, the American Right has had plenty of moments in that unkind spotlight too. They’re not immune to overreaching.

The American Right just seems to better understand the way people and the world actually work, versus how we might wish for them to work. Thus the American Right spends a lot of its intellectual and emotional capital on concepts like individual liberty and limited government, according to the wishes of the U.S. Founders.

The American Left, meanwhile, is obsessed with perfecting the human condition, using the ideas of theorists like Marx. They seek a total reformation of society, as well as the state. They are anti-Enlightenment, believing that empirical science and objective analysis are somehow RACIST! as well as SEXIST! Facts which refute the reformative theory, are to be suppressed, and the fact-finders walled out of polite discussion.

The ghosts of the gulags and the killing fields tell us which of these two paradigms is sustainable, and which is not.

I choose to listen to the ghosts.