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: ). 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.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

A RANT: I'm losing patience with the Trump Derangement crowd

A RANT: I'm losing patience with the Trump Derangement crowd

Given my increasingly lower tolerance for the Trump Derangement crowd that inhabits Facebook, I really need to get off of Facebook entirely or I’m going to be run out of the San Francisco Bay Area before I’ve had the chance to make the move on my own terms. It’s just that, as I’ve so often said, “The stupid . . . it burns!” And the Progressives on my Facebook feed are on fire!

Irritation the First: A friend put up a post bemoaning the horrors of the ICE raids against people who snuck into our country, completely bypassing our legislatively passed immigration laws. Never mind that, if you come here illegally, “you pays your money and you takes your chances.” If you don’t get caught, you’re lucky; if you do get caught, you need to be summarily evicted. That’s especially true when it turns out most of them have committed crimes in addition to their entering our country illegally.

So, in light of her mourning, I posed a straightforward question: “Do you distinguish between legal and illegal immigrants?”

She came back coyly: “Do you mean ‘undocumented’ immigrants?”

“No,” I answered, “I mean illegal immigrants, i.e., people who have completely bypassed American immigration laws to sneak into this country, so that they are are criminals from the moment they step foot on American soil. That kind of illegal.” And moreover, I raged (or peevishly whined), I am sick of euphemisms. If we’re going down that path, let’s start calling rapists “unauthorized sex partners.” Anodyne phrases shouldn’t be allowed to erase the fundamental illegality of what’s going on here.

I await being unfriended.

Irritation the Second: The people who try to liken Trump’s Executive Order putting a three-month ban on immigration by non-citizens coming from dangerous countries that the Obama administration identified to the infamous Roosevelt order summarily rounding up American citizens and imprisoning them. The Supreme Court, in Korematsu, put its imprimatur on that case, and it was wrong to do so.

However, there is no relationship between a Democrat depriving American citizens (sometimes second or third generation) of life, liberty, and property without due process, and a Republican president’s order, entered after escalating mass murders, putting a three-month hold on immigrants from terror supporting countries. None. Nada. No. Nicht. Nil. Nothing. Non.

Moreover, the district court and the Ninth Circuit both gave the game away when they appealed to their Leftists navels for legal authority rather than to either the statute under which Trump acted (as did other presidents before him) or the Constitution that grants him this authority. And yes, I was intemperate in explaining these principles to someone who ought to have known better.

Irritation the Third: Stupid Leftists with Trump Derangement Syndrome who stop reading after the headlines and think they know something. Once I’ve successfully (and, until today, politely) beaten back the factual, legal, and constitutional idiocies behind their opposition to Trump’s Executive Order, they invariably claim that Trump illegally exempted from the order immigrants from countries with which he has business ties. One person had an even more sophisticated argument, which was that, “Sure, Trump followed the list, but he trimmed it to protect his business partners.

No. No. No and no. First of all, they’re obviously confusing Trump with Secretary of State Hillary and potential-President Hillary, who lived by pay for play. Second, it’s just factually untrue:

In December 2015, President Barack Obama signed into law a measure placing limited restrictions on certain travelers who had visited Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria on or after March 1, 2011. Two months later, the Obama administration added Libya, Somalia, and Yemen to the list, in an effort, the administration said, to address “the growing threat from foreign terrorist fighters.”

The restrictions specifically limited what is known as visa-waiver travel by those who had visited one of the seven countries within the specified time period. People who previously could have entered the United States without a visa were instead required to apply for one if they had traveled to one of the seven countries.

Under the law, dual citizens of visa-waiver countries and Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria could no longer travel to the U.S. without a visa. Dual citizens of Libya, Somalia, and Yemen could, however, still use the visa-waiver program if they hadn’t traveled to any of the seven countries after March 2011.

Sure, the same article goes on to say that Trump’s ban is broader, but that’s within his unique constitutional prerogative. Having concluded that Obama made a good start in identifying countries possessed of citizens who expose America to unaccepted risks, incoming President Trump could also have concluded that Obama reacted with pitiful inadequacy to that risk. As Obama himself remarked, “Elections have consequences.” Obama got to try it his way (and it sucked) and the new president gets to try it his way (and I hope it works).

I’m sorry (well, not very sorry, but a little sorry) to admit that, after that those three irritations, I went into full bitch mode against the gal who claimed Trump was using the ban to benefit his business empire. I accused the writer, who normally is very open-minded, of falling prey to propaganda and encouraged him to do what I do: Read everything from both sides of the political aisle. I assured him that he’d quickly discover that reputable conservatives sites are (a) better written; (b) more analytical; (c) possessed of more accurate facts; (d) less vulgar; and (e) less racist (much less racist because they’re not obsessed with race). I’m waiting now to be unfriended.

It was one thing to put up with Progressives’ stupid Obama gloats. It was all about feelings anyway.

It’s another thing entirely to see the mindless zombie attacks from those infected with Trump Derangement Syndrome against a president who is (a) keeping his campaign promises; (b) more concerned with being a citizen of America than a citizen of the world; (c) not living in denial about Islam’s toxic reach; and (d) functioning within his constitutionally and legislatively defined spheres of influence, something Obama did not do.

For those enumerated reasons, I can put up with Trump’s eccentricities, his grating speech patterns, and his boastfulness. I’m focused on what the man is doing and not on (a) the savage, unfounded media attacks against him and (b) his sometimes random, and definitely self-centered, communication style.

I am getting increasingly fed up to here and beyond having to live with little people obsessed with plastics bags and computer predictions that are consistently proved wrong. Worse, these are the same people who gain “intellectual sustenance” from reporters whom Ben Rhodes, Obama’s 30-something English-major Iran minion, accurately described as “27 years old,” whose “only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That’s a sea change. They literally know nothing.” I guess, Ben, it takes one to know one.

Beginning with the French Revolution, the most damaging people haven’t been the mindless masses. The dangerous ones are the intellectuals who have a smattering of knowledge and are smart enough to convince themselves of anything — especially to convince themselves that there is no god and that they are the ultimate arbiters of morality. They’re the ones who inflame the masses, which is why the first thing a good revolutionary does is slaughter all of the up-and-coming “thinkers.” He knows how dangerous they are. The good ones reveal truth; the stupid thinkers and intellectuals simply insist on their different (and, they argue, better) form of tyranny. Sultan Knish nailed it:

The people in my world know little, but they have degrees up the yin-yang and are easily able to talk themselves into all sorts of stupid things that bear no relationship to facts, history, or basic human behavior (and biology). Then, having talked themselves into nonsense, they take to the streets in vulva costumes screaming that men are sexist pigs because they view women as the sum total of the sex organs.

A few months ago, a doctor (a doctor!) earnestly told me that there are more than two genders, adding that he wasn’t just talking about the rare hermaphrodite. Instead, he said, gender is a construct. Pardon me while I barf — preferably barf on him, as a reasonable punishment for allowing his undoubted brainpower to be harnessed not to truth, but to an ideology that is entirely committed to aggregating all power in a government consisting of people just like this doctor: so smart that they no longer feel constrained by reason or facts.

I think I need some ice cream. Sometimes that’s the only thing you can do when Trump Derangement Syndrome gets you down.

Rant part II begins here:

I posted a rant yesterday about how I lost a little bit of control over myself on Facebook when a Progressive friend got hysterical about ICE going after illegal immigrants with additional felonies on their records. I started off with a delicate inquiry about whether she distinguished between legal and illegal immigration. She responded by asking coyly if I meant undocumented immigrants. My rant is here, if you’re interested.

As this post title warned you, this is an update to that rant. One of her Progressive friends replied to my comments about illegal immigrants being . . . well, illegal, bu going into generic Leftist shtick. I mean, it was right off the template: “I know good people who are undocumented and the children suffer and you’re no Christian if you want to kick them out.”

Aside from the fact that I am, indeed, no Christian (being Jewish myself), I suddenly saw a red haze when I got that accusatory, “you’re a bad person” Leftist boilerplate. It was at that point . . . and I’m sort of proud to admit this . . . that I went full Alinsky right back at him.

I haven’t been inclined to sign onto Facebook and see what kind of sh*t rained down upon me after I went full Alinsky about illegal immigration, so can’t quote myself verbatim. I did, however, make three points, complete with in-your-face shaming language aimed at the guy who tried, with no success whatsoever, to shame me.

My first point was that, behind all that compassion, he is actually complicit in a moral evil when he supports corrupt Latin American governments — the ones that prey on their people — who use illegal immigration as a safety valve. The system he supports means that decent people in Latin America who are devastated because of government corruption and its related economic devastation are actively encouraged to trek through dangerous deserts and sneak into America just so that they can send home billions of American dollars that keep those rotten systems afloat. With the funds illegal immigration brings to Latin America, those governments don’t have to improve. I finished by telling the man he ought to be ashamed of himself, and was quite racist, for being complicit with tyrants.

My second point was that the rule of law is the only thing that ensures the greatest good for the greatest number of people. In banana republics, which is what a nation ends up becoming without a rule of law, people fare very badly. To the extent this weeping Lefty is actively undermining the rule of law, the result will be that across the spectrum, Americans will see the end of their quality of life and economic well-being. And again, I told the guy that his position is immoral that he should be ashamed.

My third and final point addressed his “it’s for the children claim.” He, like every other Progressive in the land, he knows a woman who entered America through illegal immigration (he said “without documents”) with her young children, so that the children have spent their whole lives here. (And these, children, of course, aren’t gangbangers, but credits to their race and parentage.) Given these facts (which I don’t believe are personal to him, but that he picked up from Daily Kos), it would be wrong to send the family back to its native country. My answer was that what’s wrong is that a terrible mother gambled with her children’s lives as she did. Don’t blame me.

What I forgot to add is that, perhaps, when those children who have received the benefit of an American upbringing return to their natal country, they can use that same taxpayer-funded upbringing to improve lives down south. That will be a bigger blessing to poverty in Latin America than giving all those corrupto-crats a constant pass and a flow of cash.

So, again, shame, shame, shame — but not shame on me. I’m the good gal here. I’m the one that wants Latin American countries to stop having a way to avoid addressing their own serious problems. I’m the one who wants to keep America from turning into a banana republic. We all know that once the rule of law vanishes and we’re reduced to being like those Latin American countries, there’s nowhere to which we can escape. And lastly, I’m the one who thinks we ought to point the finger of shame at those despicable people who turn their own children in criminals and potential fugitives from the law — not to mention making these same children strangers in their own (their Latin American “own”) lands.

And that, my friends, is how you go full Alinsky on the Left when it comes to illegal immigration.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Georgetown Professor Jonathan Brown Defends Slavery as Moral and Rape as Normal in Virginia Lecture

Georgetown Professor Jonathan Brown Defends Slavery as Moral and Rape as Normal in Virginia Lecture

By Umar Lee

Last night I attended a lecture by Georgetown Islamic Studies professor Jonathan Brown at the International Institute of Islamic Thought in Herndon, Virginia. I’d never met Brown and don’t know really much about him other than a brother was amused he scheduled a recent lecture during the Super Bowl.

Not knowing what to expect from Brown I was shocked when he basically went into a 90 minute defense of slavery which included an explicit endorsement of non-consensual sex.

While the lecture was supposed to be about slavery in Islam Brown spent the majority of the lecture talking about slavery in the United States, the United Kingdom and China. When discussing slavery in these societies Brown painted slavery as brutal and violent (which it certainly was). When the conversation would briefly flip to historic slavery in the Arab and Turkish World slavery was described by Brown in glowing terms. Indeed, according to Brown, slaves in the Muslim World lived a pretty good life.
I thought the Muslim community was done with this dishonest North Korean style of propaganda. Obviously not. Brown went on to discuss the injustices of prison labor in America and a myriad of other social-ills. Absent from his talk (until challenged) was any recognition of the rampant abuse of workers in the Gulf, the thousands of workers in the Gulf dying on construction sites, the South Asian child camel-jockeys imported into the United Arab Emirates to race camels under harsh conditions, or the horrific conditions of prisoners in the Muslim World (the latest news being 13,000 prisoners executed in Syria).

Brown constructs a world where the wrongs of the West excuse any wrongs (if he believes there are any) in the Muslim World.

“Slavery wasn’t racialized” in Muslim societies, Brown stated. That would be believable if it weren’t well-known black people in the Arab World and African-Americans in this country weren’t constantly referred to as abeed (slaves) simply because the color of the skin.

Brown described slavery in the Muslim World as kinder and gentler. The Arab poet who wrote “before you buy the slave buy the stick… for he is nejas (impure)” is perhaps a better description of Arab slavery than what Brown offered.

“Slaves were protected by shariah (Islamic Law)” Brown stated with no recognition of the idealized legal version of slavery and slavery as it was practiced. In this version of slavery there is an omission of kidnappings, harems, armies of eunuchs, and other atrocities.
The above argument is similar to the arguments previously defeated by Muslim bloggers and activists that racism and misogyny didn’t exist in the Muslim community because there was no textual support when in fact both are rampant.

“It’s not immoral for one human to own another human” Brown stated in his clearest defense of slavery. Brown went onto state that being an employee is basically the same as being a slave and painting himself as a real romantic Brown told me his marriage was akin to slavery because his wife held rights over him. The fact that both of these arrangements can be terminated and are consensual seemed lost on the aloof academic.

“Consent isn’t necessary for lawful sex” said Professor Jonathan Brown of Georgetown University.
Shortly after I asked Brown my questions about his defense of slavery a woman seated in front of me asked about the permissibility of sex with slaves. Brown emphatically stated consent is a modern Western concept and only recently had come to be seen as necessary (perhaps around the time feminism began to take root and women decided they wanted autonomy over their bodies). Brown went on to elaborate consent wasn’t necessary to moral and ethical sex and that the morality of sex is dependent on the lawfulness of the sex-partner and not consent upholding the verdict that marital-rape is an invalid concept in Islam.

I left this lecture deeply troubled this man had been given a platform to defend slavery and rape. I also left knowing that a Catholic Priest at Georgetown would be fired immediately if he defended the brutality of Catholic-led slavery in Latin America or defended rape. The same would be true of a rabbi at Yeshiva University. So, why as Muslims should we tolerate and invite someone like Brown to speak and why is Brown hideously exploiting Georgetown’s commitment to be inclusive?

Useful Links
Note: The full lecture was recorded by IIIT and should be available soon if not already.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

The Shameful War on Betsy DeVos

National Review Online | Print

The Shameful War on Betsy DeVos
Betsy DeVos is seeing firsthand that no good deed goes unpunished.
By Rich Lowry — January 18, 2017

Betsy DeVos

Thomas Sowell speaks up to defend Betsy DeVos and to point out that the opposition to her is being generated by teachers unions objecting to her support of charter schools.
My daughter works for KIPP schools in Washington, D.C. and the stories of the dedicated work of the teachers and administration to help students who otherwise would be condemned to failing regular public schools is truly inspiring. I work at a charter school for which we regularly have over 1000 applications for about 80 spots in the entering class. Like KIPP, we are a public school, a fact often ignored in the overwrought rhetoric against charters. We have to educate students with the same per-student allotment that the regular public schools get. The difference is that we have to pay all our capital expenses out of that amount as well as teachers' health insurance and pensions. And still our students regularly achieve at the highest level in our state. No wonder the teachers' unions see the threat.

The Real Democratic Party - WSJ

The Real Democratic Party - WSJ

The Senate made history Tuesday when Mike Pence became the first Vice President to cast the deciding vote for a cabinet nominee.

The nominee is now Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. The vote came after an all-night Senate debate in a futile effort by Democrats to turn the third Republican vote they needed to scuttle the nomination on claims that the long-time education reformer isn’t qualified. Republicans Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins had already caved, so Mr. Pence had to cast the 51st vote to confirm Mrs. DeVos.

She can now get on with her work, but this episode shouldn’t pass without noting what it says about the modern Democratic Party. Why would the entire party apparatus devote weeks of phone calls, emails and advocacy to defeating an education secretary? This isn’t Treasury or Defense. It’s not even a federal department that controls all that much education money, most of which is spent by states and local school districts. Why is Betsy DeVos the one nominee Democrats go all out to defeat?

The answer is the cold-blooded reality of union power and money. The National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers are, along with environmentalists, the most powerful forces in today’s Democratic Party. They elect Democrats, who provide them more jobs and money, which they spend to elect more Democrats, and so on. To keep this political machine going, they need to maintain their monopoly control over public education.

Mrs. DeVos isn’t a product of that monopoly system. Instead she looked at this system’s results—its student failures and lives doomed to underachievement—and has tried to change it by offering all parents the choice of charter schools and vouchers. Above all, she has exposed that unions and Democrats don’t really believe in their high-minded rhetoric about equal opportunity. They believe in lifetime tenure and getting paid.

This sorry politics means that no Democrat could dare support Mrs. DeVos, even if it meant a humiliating about-face like the one performed by New Jersey Senator Cory Booker. As the mayor of Newark, Mr. Booker supported more school choice and he even sat on the board of an organization that would become the American Federation for Children (AFC), the school reform outfit chaired by Mrs. DeVos.

As recently as May 2016, Mr. Booker delivered an impassioned speech at the AFC’s annual policy summit in Washington. He boasted about how Newark had been named by the Brookings Institution “the number four city in the country for offering parents real school choice.”

He described the school-choice cause this way: “We are the last generation, fighting the last big battle to make true on that—that a child born anywhere in America, from any parents, a child no matter what their race or religion or socio-economic status should have that pathway, should have that equal opportunity, and there is nothing more fundamental to that than education. That is the great liberation.”

Some liberator. On Tuesday Mr. Booker voted no on Mrs. DeVos.

His calculation is simple. Mr. Booker is angling to run for President in 2020, and to have any chance at the Democratic nomination he needs the unions’ blessing. He knows that a large chunk of both the party’s delegates and campaign funding comes from the teachers unions, and so he had to repent his school-choice apostasy.

The unions can’t even tolerate a debate on the subject lest their monopoly power be threatened. All that chatter about “the children” is so much moral humbug.

Mrs. DeVos is a wealthy woman who could do almost anything with her time and money. She has devoted it to philanthropy for the public good, in particular working to ensure that children born without her advantages can still have an equal shot at the American dream. She knows education should be about learning for children and not jobs for adults.

All you need to know about today’s Democratic Party is that this is precisely the reason the party went to such extraordinary lengths to destroy her. We trust she realizes that her best revenge will be to use every resource of her new job to press the campaign for charter schools and vouchers from coast to coast.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Them Dem Kickers

Them Dem Kickers

How 'bout Them Dem Kickers,
Ain't they fun?
Kickin' them Dems,
Right in they buns.
Kickin' them snowflakes,
Kickin' them sluts,
Kickin' them feminists,
In they butts
Look at Them Dem Kickers,
Ain't they cute?
Some use a shower-shoe,
Some use a boot.
Kickin' them yuuge
Kickin' them tiny
Kickin' them hipsters
In they hiney
Them dadgum Dem Kickers,
Ain't they a scream?
Runnin' 'round kickin',
Ever Dem what's seen.
How to be a Dem Kicker?
Don't need a ticket.
Find a dirty old hippie,
Haul off and kick it!

More (real) "them poems" here

Brave (web browser) - Wikipedia

Brave (web browser) - Wikipedia

Erratum to “Correlation not Causation: The Relationship between Personality Traits and Political Ideologies” American Journal of Political Science 56 (1), 34–51 - Verhulst - 2015 - American Journal of Political Science - Wiley Online Library

Erratum to “Correlation not Causation: The Relationship between Personality Traits and Political Ideologies” American Journal of Political Science 56 (1), 34–51 - Verhulst - 2015 - American Journal of Political Science - Wiley Online Library

The authors regret that there is an error in the published version of “Correlation not Causation: The Relationship between Personality Traits and Political Ideologies” American Journal of Political Science 56 (1), 34–51. The interpretation of the coding of the political attitude items in the descriptive and preliminary analyses portion of the manuscript was exactly reversed. Thus, where we indicated that higher scores in Table 1 (page 40) reflect a more conservative response, they actually reflect a more liberal response. Specifically, in the original manuscript, the descriptive analyses report that those higher in Eysenck's psychoticism are more conservative, but they are actually more liberal; and where the original manuscript reports those higher in neuroticism and social desirability are more liberal, they are, in fact, more conservative. We highlight the specific errors and corrections by page number below:

Pg. 39

Consistent with our conceptualization of ideology as a set of interrelated attitudes, we specified a confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) to capture three latent attitudinal dimensions from a Wilson-Patterson (1968) inventory: social attitudes (e.g., Gay Rights, Abortion), economic attitudes (e.g., Foreign Aid, Federal Housing), and defense/military attitudes (e.g., The Draft, Military Drill; see online Appendix 1), with higher scores indicating the more liberal response.

Pgs. 40–41

First, opposite our expectations, higher Ρ scores correlate with more liberal military attitudes and more socially liberal beliefs for both females and males.

…Further, we find a positive relationship between Neuroticism and economic conservatism (rfemales = −0.242, rmales = −0.239). People higher in Neuroticism tend to be more economically conservative. What is intriguing about this relationship is that it is in the direction of what past theories would predict (Fromm 1947; Wilson 1973), but opposite with more recent evidence (Gerber et al. 2010; Van Hiél, Pandelaere, and Duriez 2004). That is, neurotic people are less likely to support public policies that provide aid to the economically disadvantaged (public housing, foreign aid, immigration, etc). Moreover, Neuroticism is unrelated to social ideology (rfemale = −0.016, rmale = −0.050). This finding suggests that neurotic individuals cope with their anxiety by supporting more “conservative” economic policies rather than “conservative” social policies.

…Thus, it appears that people who are motivated to present themselves in a socially desirable light also present themselves as socially conservative.

…The analysis above extends the existing personality and politics literature in several important ways. Opposite our expectations, Ρ (positively related to tough mindedness and authoritarianism) is associated with social liberalism and liberal military attitudes.

Intriguingly, the strength of the relationship between Ρ and political ideology differs across sexes. We also find individuals higher in Neuroticism are more likely to be economically conservative. Furthermore, Neuroticism is completely unrelated to social ideology, which has been the focus of many in the field. Finally, those higher in Social Desirability are also more likely to express socially conservative attitudes.

Pg. 46

…Ρ is substantially correlated with liberal military and social attitudes, while Social Desirability is related to conservative social attitudes, and Neuroticism is related to conservative economic attitudes.

The error is important for descriptive purposes, but the main thesis of the paper, analyses, findings and theoretical contribution remain unchanged. The goal of the paper was to explore the nature of the covariance between personality and attitudes, and to test whether the relationship between several personality traits and political attitude dimensions was causal or correlational. The analyses rely on the magnitude of the cross-twin cross-trait covariation, and second moment of data, and are agnostic as to whether liberals or conservatives are higher or lower in any given personality trait. Thus, the direction of the correlation between the personality traits and attitudes was not relevant for our research question and subsequent analyses. As such, the main conclusions of the paper are unaffected. Specifically we find a pattern of relationships that implies a non-causal relationship between personality traits and political attitudes.

Friday, February 03, 2017

Most claims about Trump’s visa Executive Order are false or misleading

Most claims about Trump’s visa Executive Order are false or misleading

Yesterday Donald Trump signed an Executive Order on refugees and visa entry procedures.

You should read the actual EO, because most of the media and leftist pundits either have not or are lying if they have.

There are some stark policy differences about immigration and refugees over which people can disagree — those were argued at length during the election season. But the hyperbole and frenzy being exhibited in the media and by leftist pundits is hyperbole at best, fakery and lying at worst.


I’ll go over key features of the EO and address the main accusations being peddled.

“Muslim Ban”

There is no Muslim Ban, even though the Twitter hashtag #MuslimBan is being used by opponents of the EO.


There is a postponement of entry from 7 countries (Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen) previously identified by the Obama administration as posing extraordinary risks. That they are 7 majority Muslim countries does not mean there is a Muslim ban, as most of the countries with the largest Muslim populations are not on the list (e.g., Egypt, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Turkey, Nigeria and more).

Thus, the overwhelming majority of the Muslim world is not affected.

Moreover, the “ban” is only for four months 90 days while procedures are reviewed, with the exception of Syria for which there is no time limit.

There is a logic to the 7 countries. Six are failed states known to have large ISIS activity, and one, Iran, is a sworn enemy of the U.S. and worldwide sponsor of terrorism.

And, the 7 countries on the list were not even so-designated by Trump. Rather, they were selected last year by the Obama administration as posing special risks for visa entry, as even CNN concedes in passing:

The order bars all people hailing from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. Those countries were named in a 2016 law concerning immigration visas as “countries of concern.”

The executive order also bans entry of those fleeing from war-torn Syria indefinitely.

Seth Frantzman has an excellent analysis of this Obama administration background to the list. Please read the whole thing. The short version is that the Obama administration selected those countries — whose names are not mentioned in Trump’s EO.


Frantzman notes that no one complained when the Obama administration selected these countries:

What? So there was a Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015 two years before Trump? There was a kind of “Muslim ban” before the Muslim ban? But almost no one critiqued it in 2015 because it was Obama’s administration overseeing it.

So for more than a year it has been US policy to discriminate against, target and even begin to ban people from the seven countries that Trump is accused of banning immigrants and visitors from. CNN even hinted at this by noting “those countries were named in a 2016 law concerning immigration visas as ‘countries of concern.’” But why didn’t CNN note that the seven countries were not named and that in fact they are only on the list because of Obama’s policy? …

Because mainstream media has been purposely lying, either due to ignorance or because of unwillingness to read the document and ask questions and because they are too ready to accept “facts” without investigating. They want to blame Trump for a “Muslim ban” because they were ready with that script since last year.

Trump Business Connections

An offshoot of the “Muslim ban” claim is the claim that Trump deliberately excluded countries in which he does business.

This argument is made in order to claim Muslims are targeted even though most of the Muslim world is not affected.


The problem, of course, is that Trump worked off of the Obama administration’s list of particularly risky countries for visa entry. To lay the blame on Trump’s business interests is a lie, or as Frantzman puts it, fake news:

Most disingenuous, truly bordering on fake news, are the reports that claimed the seven countries were connected to Trump business interests, as if Obama’s DHS picked them because of Trump?

It’s an Absolute Ban

The “ban” is not without exceptions. There are categories of visa holders who still may enter even from those 7 countries:

Sec. 3(c) To temporarily reduce investigative burdens on relevant agencies during the review period described in subsection (a) of this section, to ensure the proper review and maximum utilization of available resources for the screening of foreign nationals, and to ensure that adequate standards are established to prevent infiltration by foreign terrorists or criminals, pursuant to section 212(f) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1182(f), I hereby proclaim that the immigrant and nonimmigrant entry into the United States of aliens from countries referred to in section 217(a)(12) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1187(a)(12), would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, and I hereby suspend entry into the United States, as immigrants and nonimmigrants, of such persons for 90 days from the date of this order (excluding those foreign nationals traveling on diplomatic visas, North Atlantic Treaty Organization visas, C-2 visas for travel to the United Nations, and G-1, G-2, G-3, and G-4 visas).

Also, the EO allows exceptions on a case by case basis from those 7 countries:

Sec.3(g) Notwithstanding a suspension pursuant to subsection (c) of this section or pursuant to a Presidential proclamation described in subsection (e) of this section, the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security may, on a case-by-case basis, and when in the national interest, issue visas or other immigration benefits to nationals of countries for which visas and benefits are otherwise blocked.

This Ends Refugees Coming to the U.S.

There is a halt to refugee processing, but it is temporary, for 120 days. Moreover, for people already going through the process, this is merely a delay not an ending, because they can resume processing once the system restarts in 120 days:

Sec. 5. Realignment of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for Fiscal Year 2017. (a) The Secretary of State shall suspend the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for 120 days. During the 120-day period, the Secretary of State, in conjunction with the Secretary of Homeland Security and in consultation with the Director of National Intelligence, shall review the USRAP application and adjudication process to determine what additional procedures should be taken to ensure that those approved for refugee admission do not pose a threat to the security and welfare of the United States, and shall implement such additional procedures. Refugee applicants who are already in the USRAP process may be admitted upon the initiation and completion of these revised procedures. Upon the date that is 120 days after the date of this order, the Secretary of State shall resume USRAP admissions only for nationals of countries for which the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and the Director of National Intelligence have jointly determined that such additional procedures are adequate to ensure the security and welfare of the United States.

Anti-Muslim Discrimination

There are accusations that one particular provision discriminates. It gives preference to those fleeing religious persecution in countries in which they are a religious minority:

Sec. 5(b) Upon the resumption of USRAP admissions, the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, is further directed to make changes, to the extent permitted by law, to prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality. Where necessary and appropriate, the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security shall recommend legislation to the President that would assist with such prioritization.

This is being referred to as a de facto discrimination against Muslims because it mostly applies to Christians.

Well, that’s because Christians are the most persecuted religion in the Middle East, by Muslims. If there were a country in which Muslims were persecuted by another majority religion, they would get preference.

In fact, this religious persecution test has long been the case in refugee cases, but has been twisted to discriminate against Christians, as this September 2016 column by Eliott Abrams explained:

The headline for this column—The U.S. Bars Christian, Not Muslim, Refugees From Syria—will strike many readers as ridiculous.

But the numbers tell a different story: The United States has accepted 10,801 Syrian refugees, of whom 56 are Christian. Not 56 percent; 56 total, out of 10,801. That is to say, one-half of 1 percent.

The BBC says that 10 percent of all Syrians are Christian, which would mean 2.2 million Christians. It is quite obvious, and President Barack Obama and Secretary John Kerry have acknowledged it, that Middle Eastern Christians are an especially persecuted group.

So how is it that one-half of 1 percent of the Syrian refugees we’ve admitted are Christian, or 56, instead of about 1,000 out of 10,801—or far more, given that they certainly meet the legal definition?

The definition: someone who “is located outside of the United States; is of special humanitarian concern to the United States; demonstrates that they were persecuted or fear persecution due to race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.”

Somewhere between a half million and a million Syrian Christians have fled Syria, and the United States has accepted 56. Why?

“This is de facto discrimination and a gross injustice,” Nina Shea, director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom, told Fox News. Fox notes another theory: The United States takes refugee referrals from the U.N. refugee camps in Jordan, and there are no Christians there.
Dual Nationals

The EO does apply to dual nationals, but not in the way people imply, suggesting U.S. citizens would be barred from reentry.

Dual nationals who are U.S. citizens are not affected. The EO only applies to dual nationals from the 7 countries who travel on the passport of another (non-U.S.) country. The Wall Street Journal explains:

It also applies to people who originally hail from those countries but are traveling on a passport issued by any other nation, the statement [by the State Department] notes. That means Iraqis seeking to enter the U.S. on a British passport, for instance, will be barred, according to a U.S. official. British citizens don’t normally require a visa to enter the U.S.

“Travelers who have nationality or dual nationality of one of these countries will not be permitted for 90 days to enter the United States or be issued an immigrant or nonimmigrant visa,” the statement said. “Those nationals or dual nationals holding valid immigrant or nonimmigrant visas will not be permitted to enter the United States during this period. Visa interviews will generally not be scheduled for nationals of these countries during this period.”

Green Card Holders

There are reports that holders of Green Cards from those 7 countries may not enter the U.S. This is partially true, but it will be handled on a case-by-case basis, according to CBS News:

Senior administration officials told CBS News Saturday that for permanent American residents — those holding green cards — from the listed countries, their readmittance to the U.S. will be done on a “case by case exemption process.”

[Update: On Sunday morning, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus stated that the EO temporary preclusion for the 7 countries “doesn’t include green card holders going forward” but “you’re going to be subjected to further screening.”]

Detentions, ETC.

There are anecdotal reports of people being detained while trying to enter the U.S., or pulled off planes, or not allowed to board. It’s hard to know whether these reports — if true — are the result of policy or confusion. As with any large bureaucratic endeavor, there seems to be administrative confusion, as the NY Times reported in a story recounting some of these reports:

But the week old administration appeared to be implementing the order chaotically, with agencies and officials around the globe interpreting it in different ways.

Syrian Refugees

It is true that Syrians seeking refugee status are barred entry, and that there is no current time limit on that. Rather, resumption will take place only after security assurance are in place:

Sec. 5(c) Pursuant to section 212(f) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1182(f), I hereby proclaim that the entry of nationals of Syria as refugees is detrimental to the interests of the United States and thus suspend any such entry until such time as I have determined that sufficient changes have been made to the USRAP to ensure that admission of Syrian refugees is consistent with the national interest.

This is consistent with what Trump said during the campaign.

Conclusion: Policy Differences Don’t Justify Fake News

It is possible to criticize the EO and Trump visa/refugee policy without hyperbole and fakery. That opponents feel the need to make false and misleading accusations is a signal that they fear losing the policy argument on its merits.