Archive for May, 2018
31 May 2018

“Sad Ben Rhodes” Has “Der Untergang” Hitler Rant Parody Potential

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HT: Carpe Donktum via Althouse.

31 May 2018

“The Permanent Adolescence of the American Left”

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Steve McCann has really got the American left nailed.

Donald Trump’s remarkable and unpredicted victory in 2016 unleashed perhaps the pinnacle of all unintended consequences. By their ongoing nonsensical reaction to the Trump victory, the American left has exposed and validated their irrationality, obliviousness, and immaturity. As an immigrant to the United States, and thus a sideline spectator of the panorama that is American society, and someone who has spent most of his adult life in the field of international finance, I have been fascinated by the characteristics of the American left as compared to its counterparts in the rest of the world – and why the vast majority of Americans, who are essentially conservative or moderate, not only tolerate, but acquiesce to the left’s temper tantrums and manipulation of the culture.

On the surface, there may appear to be similarities to the left in other nations; however, when it comes to the motivation and personality quirks, it is only the left in Britain that bears any resemblance to the American left. In fact, the American version consistently denigrates “old white guys” as the scourge of humanity while ostensibly promoting the philosophy of “old white guys” such as Hobbes, Hegel, and Marx. In reality, American leftism is a unique amalgamation of socialism, Darwinism, and oligarchism requiring an army of foot soldiers who dwell in a state of permanent adolescence.

Among the traits of those in their adolescent years is the conviction that they are always right and the rest of the world is wrong – that they are, in fact, much smarter than those silly and inane adults around them. However, being part of the in crowd is really, really important, thus they must look for guidance to the cool guys to establish what they are supposed to believe in. And, as in the fairy tales relayed to them while in childhood as well as their current enthrallment with movies based on comic book heroes, there will always be some monolithic entity to rescue them and ensure joy and happiness. Therein are the basic personality parameters of the rank and file of the modern American left.

Read the whole thing.

31 May 2018

Trump to Give Full Pardon to Dinesh D’Souza

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Fox News:

President Trump announced Thursday he will pardon conservative filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza, who was convicted of making an illegal campaign contribution in 2014.

“Will be giving a Full Pardon to Dinesh D’Souza today. He was treated very unfairly by our government!” the president tweeted Thursday morning.

D’Souza pleaded guilty in 2014 for donating $20,000 to New York politician Wendy Long, allegedly going over the limit by directing other donors to give to her. He was sentenced to five years of probation and eight months in a halfway house, and paid a $30,000 fine.

Despite his guilty plea, D’Souza and his allies have claimed for years that he was unfairly singled out for prosecution, and unfairly treated by the Obama administration.

The conservative filmmaker in 2012 made a hit anti-Obama documentary called “2016: Obama’s America.” The film examined then-President Obama’s past and early influences that may have shaped his political ideology.

D’Souza’s 2014 indictment was announced by then-U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who was appointed by Obama, and fired in 2017 by Trump. The indictment stated that D’Souza was charged with one count of illegally donating to a Senate campaign and one count of causing false statements to be made to authorities in connection with the contributions.

I did not vote for Trump in 2016. But, if he runs for re-election in 2020, he definitely has my vote.

Trump has the guts to stand up and call a partisan prosecution unfair and then use his presidential power to undo it. He pardoned Scooter Libby and he’s going to pardon Dinesh D’Souza. In my book, that makes Trump a lot better president than George W. Bush whose deferential attitude toward the operations of government, even when democrats were using the system corruptly, made him into a passive patsy.

Trump’s willingness to pardon victims of partisan bogus prosecutions is actually a very important application of the constitutional principle of Checks and Balances, and on the level of practical politics will tend to suppress use of that cruel and nefarious tactic in the future. If democrats are obliged to recognize that the next Republican president will call them out, and simply cancel what they did with a stroke of the pen, the game will be seen to be not worth the candle. Good going, Trump!

31 May 2018

Swedish Nyckelharpa

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HT: Karen L. Myers.

31 May 2018

“This Sand is Your Sand” (Even Though George Over There Pays Taxes On It!)

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Sunbathing on a beach at Bohemian Grove.

Collectivist ideological entitlement hilariously meets Get-Off-My-Lawn entitlement on Northern California’s Russian River in Outside magazine.

For neighbors in Harreld’s quiet river community, 90 minutes northwest of San Francisco, the image of the then 43-year-old starting his day in the sand had become a regular, if provocative, sight. Several times a week, he’d plant himself in a folding chair overlooking a gentle bend in the mellow Russian River. Sometimes a buddy joined him; other times he sat alone. The job was simple: Enjoy the beach. Sip coffee. Maybe spot an otter slithering up the lazy current. Most of all, do these things in clear view of the camera hidden in the trees.

The man who’d hung the camera believed that Harreld was trespassing. Harreld believed he was reclaiming land that belonged to the people. On a literal level, that’s all the two were fighting about: just 20 feet of gravelly beach.

But at the heart of the fight swirled bigger and fundamentally contradictory ideas. Remarkably basic questions about America itself were woven through their dispute. There would be no bloodshed—the same could not be said elsewhere—but the level of fury would nevertheless become shocking for the once friendly neighbors.

Harreld and his wife, Judith, live in a one-story home a short stroll from the river, with sunflowers and a tomato garden out front. …

On this June day, as he walked down the dirt path to the beach for morning sentry duty, he was pursuing his newest hobby: being the Rosa Parks of obscure riparian law.

Fifty yards or so above this quiet stretch of the river is a vacation home owned by Mark O’Flynn, a lawyer from San Francisco. Nearly four years ago, O’Flynn posted his first NO TRESPASSING sign. Like many property owners, he had come to equate public access with broken glass, poop in the bushes, and bad music blaring from drunk strangers’ speakers.

The problem, as Harreld saw it: the sign stood in flagrant violation of federal law. As he would explain to anyone who’d listen, the beach was subject to a public easement below a line called the ordinary high-water mark—a calculation roughly analogous to the average high tide. In 1981, the U.S. Supreme Court confirmed in Montana v. United States that this easement trumps private ownership in navigable rivers.

Navigability, in turn, is established by proving that the river has qualified as a “highway of commerce,” used by ferries carrying tourists, say, or loggers floating felled trees downstream, both of which happened on the Russian River.

In other words, Harreld believed, that gravelly beach was everyone’s to enjoy, regardless of what signs were posted.

Harreld had known O’Flynn socially. His house is a minute’s walk away, and Harreld and his wife had been over for dinner. When he saw the sign, he e-mailed Mark to ask if it was his. Indeed, Mark replied.

There would be no more neighborly meals. Over the years that followed, a full-on cold war blossomed. Someone would run a shin-high line of wire across the path. One of Harreld’s allies would remove it. O’Flynn would hang cameras in the trees. Someone would paint over the latest NO TRESPASSING sign.

And now, on this Thursday morning in 2015, Harreld and some friends approached the beach only to find the path blocked by “cut bamboo, tree branches and matts of algae,” according to the June 18 entry in a detailed journal he’s been keeping since the conflict started. The next day, the group began removing the makeshift barricade, and O’Flynn ran out of his house.

What ensued borders on slapstick, with O’Flynn, according to Harreld, “pulling the bamboo out of my hands, then dashing over to pull some out of my friend’s hands, then dashing back to me.” (I don’t have O’Flynn’s account; he won’t discuss the dispute in detail.) Soon two sheriff’s deputies arrived, but they declined to take action.

Perhaps at this point you’re marveling at the amount of free time that middle-aged white men have. I marveled, too. But as I got deeper into the dispute, I came to see that this picayune squabble wasn’t all that it seemed. Behind the folly of turf wars and the arcana of river law, a larger conflict was playing out, one rooted in a profound disagreement over how we think about nature and how we divide it.

RTWT

Personally, I find it easy to detest both sides: the city jerks who purchase a quarter acre in the country, and then right up go the No Trespassing signs! are just about as objectionable as the ideologically-driven busy-bodies patting themselves on the back for pushing their way onto people’s backyards to prove a petty legal point and to assert a collective right over private property.

30 May 2018

Tweet of the Week

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30 May 2018

Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling & Wake

30 May 2018

After All, Hawaii is Full of Liberal Democrats

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30 May 2018

Roseanne Wasn’t the First

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Mark Dice demonstrates that you can compare some people to apes without getting fired.

30 May 2018

Probably Russia

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29 May 2018

David Brooks on the Errors of the Meritocracy

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Today’s older meritocrats at college in the late 1960s.

David Brooks is dead wrong on the character of the ancien regime, falling like a sap for the fantasy stereotypes of the left-wing imagination. There were always plenty of ordinary middle class guys not rich at all, and even some poor, working-their-way-through-college fellows at Yale from humble backgrounds, long before the pedophile from Horace Mann took over Yale admissions, probably really back to the Class of 1705. But he is otherwise basically right this time. And the older Ivy League graduate would conspicuously differ from today’s “meritocrat” in, despite some higher education, recognizing that he, too, just like the working class chap living on the other side of town, still puts his trousers on one leg at a time, and in remaining aware that his automobile mechanic and his hunting guide are just as human as himself and may even be, in some departments, better men.

The older establishment won World War II and built the American Century. We, on the other hand, led to Donald Trump. The chief accomplishment of the current educated elite is that it has produced a bipartisan revolt against itself. …

The real problem with the modern meritocracy can be found in the ideology of meritocracy itself. Meritocracy is a system built on the maximization of individual talent, and that system unwittingly encourages several ruinous beliefs:

Exaggerated faith in intelligence. Today’s educated establishment is still basically selected on the basis of I.Q. High I.Q. correlates with career success but is not the crucial quality required for civic leadership. Many of the great failures of the last 50 years, from Vietnam to Watergate to the financial crisis, were caused by extremely intelligent people who didn’t care about the civic consequences of their actions.

Misplaced faith in autonomy. The meritocracy is based on the metaphor that life is a journey. On graduation days, members for the educated class give their young Dr. Seuss’ “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” which shows a main character, “you,” who goes on a solitary, unencumbered journey through life toward success. If you build a society upon this metaphor you will wind up with a society high in narcissism and low in social connection. Life is not really an individual journey. Life is more like settling a sequence of villages. You help build a community at home, at work, in your town and then you go off and settle more villages.

Misplaced notion of the self. Instead of seeing the self as the seat of the soul, the meritocracy sees the self as a vessel of human capital, a series of talents to be cultivated and accomplishments to be celebrated. If you base a society on a conception of self that is about achievement, not character, you will wind up with a society that is demoralized; that puts little emphasis on the sorts of moral systems that create harmony within people, harmony between people and harmony between people and their ultimate purpose.

Inability to think institutionally. Previous elites poured themselves into institutions and were pretty good at maintaining existing institutions, like the U.S. Congress, and building new ones, like the postwar global order. The current generation sees institutions as things they pass through on the way to individual success. Some institutions, like Congress and the political parties, have decayed to the point of uselessness, while others, like corporations, lose their generational consciousness and become obsessed with the short term.

Misplaced idolization of diversity. The great achievement of the meritocracy is that it has widened opportunities to those who were formerly oppressed. But diversity is a midpoint, not an endpoint. Just as a mind has to be opened so that it can close on something, an organization has to be diverse so that different perspectives can serve some end. Diversity for its own sake, without a common telos, is infinitely centrifugal, and leads to social fragmentation.

The essential point is this: Those dimwitted, stuck up blue bloods in the old establishment had something we meritocrats lack — a civic consciousness, a sense that we live life embedded in community and nation, that we owe a debt to community and nation and that the essence of the admirable life is community before self.

RTWT

If Brooks read his university alumni notes from earlier 20th Century classes over the years, he would have noticed how commonly “those dimwitted, stuck up blue bloods” enormously excelled in personal accomplishment, lifetime adventure, and public service just about all the grand meritocrats of our later generations.

29 May 2018

No Free Speech, No Freedom of the Press, in Today’s Britain Under a Tory Government, No Less

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It’s only funny when the loser geeks at a provincial Sci Fi Convention have a hissy fit and ban somebody, but, as is happening in Europe today, even in Britain, both Free Speech and Freedom of the Press are becoming dead letters in the face of legally-enforced political correctness.

Bruce Bawer reports on a truly frightening example of PC tyranny that happened in Britain just a few days ago.

On Friday, British free-speech activist and Islam critic Tommy Robinson was acting as a responsible citizen journalist — reporting live on camera from outside a Leeds courtroom where several Muslims were being tried for child rape — when he was set upon by several police officers. In the space of the next few hours, a judge tried, convicted, and sentenced him to 13 months in jail — and also issued a gag order, demanding a total news blackout on the case in the British news media. Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, was immediately taken to Hull Prison.

Hull Prison, in Kingston upon Hull, England, where Tommy Robinson was taken to serve a 13-month prison sentence just hours after his arrest on Friday, May 25.

Most media outlets were remarkably compliant. News stories that had already been posted online after Robinson’s arrest at the Scottish Daily Record, Birmingham Live, The Mirror, RT, and Breitbart News were promptly pulled down, although, curiously, a report remained up at the Independent, a left-wing broadsheet that can be counted on to view Robinson as a hooligan. Indeed, the Independent’s article described Robinson as “far-right” and, in explaining what he was doing outside the courthouse, used scare quotes around the word “reporting”; it then summed up the least appealing episodes in his career and blamed him for an attack on the Finsbury Park Mosque last January. Somehow, the Independent also got away with publishing a report on London’s Saturday rally in support of Robinson.

Also on Saturday, Breitbart UK posted a copy of the gag order, but redacted it as required. The resulting document proved to be a perfect illustration of Western Europe’s encroaching tyranny.

Were all the articles in the British media pulled down “voluntarily”? There is no way to know for sure. On Sunday, at about noon Central European Time, one of my Facebook friends posted a link to what was apparently a new story at Breitbart UK, about Robinson’s imprisonment in Hull. Three hours later, however, the story was no longer there. Shortly afterward, I clicked on a link to an article at the Hull Daily Mail that Google summed up as follows: “Supporters of former EDL leader Tommy Robinson are urging people to write to him in Hull Prison — where they say he is in ‘grave danger.’” When I clicked on the link, however, the story had been pulled.

Carl Benjamin, who produces video commentary under the name “Sargon of Akkad,” is a popular British YouTuber who has somewhere around a million subscribers, and who routinely criticizes Islam, identity politics, and political correctness with wit and panache. He is generally a lively, free-wheeling, sardonic fellow, but in the two-hour-plus video he posted on Saturday about the Robinson case, he was uncharacteristically sober, exceedingly cautious, and at times even sounded mournful.

“I did tell you that Britain isn’t a free country, didn’t I?” he said a minute or so into his video. “I’ve been saying it for ages… and nobody listens.” He made it clear he was not about to violate the gag order — not, as he put it, about to “blunder into the jaws of the beast, in much the same way as I guess Tommy has,” and thus “deliberately put myself in the line of fire with the UK government, giving them just cause to arrest me.”

Benjamin is a gutsy guy, so it was unsettling to hear him speak this way. The look on his face somehow brought home the dark reality underlying Robinson’s fast-track arrest, trial, conviction and incarceration. Benjamin emphasized that the most “sensible” thing for someone like himself [Benjamin] to do right now — he used that word, “sensible,” repeatedly — is to do his best to stay out of jail so that he can continue to speak up. “I am in a country that is not free,” he repeated gravely. “My options are limited… I feel jealous as hell of you guys in America. You don’t know how lucky you are.”

The upside — and the irony — of this case is that the gag order, while silencing the British news media, has caused people around the world to take notice. To be sure, a quick tour of major mainstream newspaper websites in Western Europe, North America and around the Anglosphere turned up nothing. But on alternative news sites around Europe, the story was front and center.

RTWT

Imagine what it will be like if Corbyn ever wins.

29 May 2018

Trauma at WisCon42

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What would a world be like run by ordinary, not necessarily all-that-elite, college-educated Americans? You can find a pretty good demonstration just by looking at what things are like at a current Sci Fi fan convention.

Last Sunday, for instance, there was trouble with a capital-T at the 42nd WISCON convention.

Today’s geeks and nerds are a sensitive and Woke lot, prone to devote serious thought to important moral questions and to consider the plight of unpopular minorities, minorities like J.R.R. Tolkien’s orcs and Robert A. Heinlein’s bugs.

So a chin-stroking panel was scheduled with some serious scrutiny of certain guilty Living & Dead White Authors on the agenda. Its mission was described, thusly:

In SFF with an action element there’s a desire for cool giant battle scenes, heroes who spin, twirl, slice off heads, and general melee violence. This is an old background trope: the killable mook, guard, or minion whose life can be taken in a cool or funny way is familiar from traditional action films. But many SFF stories take this trope further with a killable race or non-sentient army: the Orcs in Lord of the Rings, the Chitauri in Avengers, and the many robot armies that we see represented solely so that heroes can create cool violent carnage without having to answer difficult moral questions. What happens when SFF comes to rely on this trope? If we’re going to have violent action in SFF, is this better than the alternative? Is it ever not just super racist?”

Apparently, however, all the Social Justice was marred by the intrusion of (the horror! the horror!) a dissenter who triggered the panelists and caused harm to these sensitive souls through vocal thought crime.

As we all know, saying things people don’t like constitutes harassment.

The WISCON 42 blog has the details:

During the Killable Bodies In SFF panel at WisCon this morning (Sunday), a panelist engaged in Nazi and Confederate apologia and also appeared to posit that disabled or injured people sometimes “have to be sacrificed.”

They continued this behavior even after the audience and other panel members expressed the harm this was causing them.

WisCon rejects these ideas. They are in conflict with our Code of Conduct. The panelist in question will be banned and asked to immediately leave convention spaces.

The relevant passage from the Code of Conduct is here:

    Harassment includes: Verbal or written comments or displayed images that harmfully reinforce structures of oppression (related to gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, age, religion, geographic origin, or class); deliberate intimidation; stalking; body policing (including gender policing in all bathrooms); unwelcome photography or recording; sustained disruption of talks or other events; inappropriate physical contact; and unwelcome sexual attention.

Please read the full Code of Conduct here.

If you or anyone you know are in need of any support following this experience, please contact us. We will be working to find folks who can provide emotional support to you.

ETA: This particular individual has been banned for WisCon 42. The decision as to whether this ban will be extended in the future will be determined by our Anti Abuse Team post-con. Should you have information to contribute, you are welcome to email safety@wiscon.net.

29 May 2018

The Gunfighter

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