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Friday, April 21, 2006

SHIRT HITS FAN: Now I can claim to be "injured" if you wear a T-shirt bearing a message that offends me. Having to read the message on your shirt that offends me "intrudes upon my rights." So proclaims a ludicrous 2-1 ruling of the inevitably wacky Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Dissenting Judge Alex Kozinski mocked the Court's embrace of pop psychology to create the feel-good right not to be offended:
"I have considerable difficult with giving school authorities the power to decide that only one side of a controversial topic may be discussed in the school environment because the opposing point of view is too extreme or demeaning."
Invariably the people who claim to be "offended" by messages they disagree with also claim to be advocates of pluralism: a condition or system in which two or more principles or worldviews coexist. It's clear that the pluralism of the left goes like this: You're expected to agree with all of the things we hold dear. If you express opposing opinions, you'll be declared "judgmental" and we'll do everything we can to destroy you — in the name of diversity and inclusion — especially if you're a Christian, male, white, conservative, patriotic, etc. That's the situation here. A high school student wore a T-shirt expressing his disapproval of a school policy celebrating homosexuality. The great irony is that cultural leftists who favor every kind of diversity except opinions that diverge from theirs typically complain that they're "disempowered" in contemporary America. These kinds of court decisions only serve to confirm their marginal status in the eyes of most of their neighbors. What a joke: the right not to be offended. Being a grown-up means developing enough emotional sobriety — it doesn't take very much — to realize that the moment I condemn you for your "offensive" statement is the moment I give you the power to offend me. The Court's ruling is a victory for those who can't summon the honesty to simply declare: Despite our rhetoric of seeking empowerment, we are actually committed to staying weak and dependent and mired in narcissism. Thus we get to hug our cherished oppressed status. Thus we feign moral superiority to people of whose autonomy we envy and resent. Thus we celebrate failing at living. Thus we remain deeply, proudly pathetic. Not that there's anything wrong with being pathetic. Just stop dressing it up as a virtue.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

JESSE TO THE RESCUE: The Reverend Jackson arrives on the scene to express his deep dismay that the media's coverage of the Duke University controvery "put race and class in the center of the story." That's rich. Jesse Jackson has spent his career putting race and class at the center of every story he touches. Insisting it's time to rise "above the hatreds, the fears and the fantasies that still plague our society," he coyly reminds us of "the history of white men and black women," a history that "evokes too many bad memories." Speaking of remembering: What about the time Jesse's colleague in demagoguery Al Sharpton accused a white male prosecutor of complicity in the raping of a black female named Tawana Brawley? Brawley's rape charges turned out to be fabricated, and Sharpton ended up with a slander conviction. Does that incident make it onto Jackson's short list of dangerous "racial and sexual stereotypes ... the myths that entrap so many"? Probably not. Columnist Stephen Smith asks Why is Jackson pushing his way into Duke situation? Here's why: because it (the "situation") is there; it's the raw material of the race and gender hustling for which Jackson has become infamous.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

CARL BERNSTEIN'S DILEMMA: He used to be famous. Three decades ago, for about two years. He and his journalist partner Bob Woodward made history with their unprecedented coverage of the Watergate scandal in the Washington Post. Together they wrote an excellent book, All the President's Men. The years, alas, haven't been very good to Bernstein. He later co-authored an unremarkable book about Pope John Paul, then wrote a memoir about his parents. (Mom was a big advocate for the notorious American traitor Ethel Rosenberg.) Bernstein's no traitor, he just misses the limelight. So as Bush's poll numbers drop, Bernstein can't help thinking about the good old days when he helped unseat a president. Golly gee whiz, Carl'd love to give it a second shot. You see, he wants George W. Bush investigated — with an eye to, you know, removing him from office. Won't you join me in a gaping yawn.
APARTHEID, HOOSIER STYLE: A. U.S. district judge has upheld Indiana's right to impose harsh, severe, harsh, excessive burdens on potential voters.
If you're planning to vote in the May 2 primary, you'll have to show a state or federally issued photo ID.
A photo ID, do you hear me? Oh, the horror. Indiana's Democratic Party had claimed that the ID law would keep many people (elderly, minorities and people with disabilities) from casting ballots. For one thing, there's the exorbitant cost of obtaining documents such as birth certificates needed to receive the card! Hey, what about people who were born at home? I'm not kidding — that's actually the question raised by plaintiffs who fought the requirement. Shades of the oppressive Jim Crow regime of the deep south! It's almost funny — except brave civil rights workers actually lost their lives fighting racist voting restrictions. The comparison, besides being insulting, is incredibly stupid. Get ready. Here are the Olympic-level hoops through which oppressed Indianans must now jump. An ID must:
• Display the voter's photo. • Display the voter's name. The name must agree with the voter registration record. • Have an expiration date and either be current or have expired sometime after the date of the last general election on Nov. 2, 2004. • Be issued by the Indiana or U.S. government.
Oh, the thousands who will be disenfranchised, the thousands who can rally in the streets to voice this, their most recent achievement of victim status simply because the name on the ID doesn't match the voter record. Never mind that it takes more than a valid photo ID to open a Target account. Barker wrote in her 126-page opinion: "Despite apocalyptic assertions of wholesale voter disenfranchisement, plaintiffs have produced not a single piece of evidence of any identifiable registered voter who would be prevented from voting" because of the statute. How uncaring, how lacking in compassion. Jesse Jackson was nowhere to be seen, so Howard Dean rushed to played the fool this time. "I applaud the Indiana Democratic Party's decision to appeal this ruling," Dean proclaimed. "As part of our Party's commitment to doing whatever we can to ensure that all Americans have the opportunity to participate in our democracy, the DNC will assist the Indiana Democratic Party's legal challenge to this unfair law and continue our fight to make it easier for all Americans to exercise their right to vote." Sure. In the name of "opportunity," Democrats are entitled to commit unrestricted voter fraud. I love it. The vaulted decline of the Roman empire was a measly slouch compared to this kind of cultural debris.
FONDA-SHEEHAN WATCH: Jane Fonda says she wanted to do an American tour against the Iraq war but can't because her past rooting for America's enemies leaves her with ''too much baggage.'' I think this means she understands that she would be met at each stop by throngs of Americans who are rooting not for America's enemies. Besides, Jane says Cindy Sheehan's filling the gap nicely. "She is better at this than I am," confides Fonda, who has just returned from Argentina with Ted Turner ("my favorite ex-husband") for a just-friends fishing trip. How could a woman of Jane Fonda's obvious depth worry that her cheering of U.S. defeat in Iraq would be received less than kindly by her fellow Americans? (Photo credit: KSFO)

Sunday, April 16, 2006

DUH: The Republicans are in trouble.
"I think they're in very serious danger of having a very bad election this fall," [Newt] Gingrich said on Fox News Sunday.... "We were sent here to reform Washington, not to be co-opted by Washington," he said... "Are they going to learn some lessons and get their act together?" Gingrich asked.
Dear Fellow Americans: We're the Republicans and we've been running Congress since 1995. We came here to reform Washington, and darn it, we ended up getting co-opted, go figure! Good news: We've realized the error of our ways, and we want you to know we're back to reforming Washington. First and foremost, Tom Delay's gone. Not that there's anything wrong with Tom, but let's not talk about him, let's talk about the issues you care about. Okay, so we're still defending marriage. Abortion? We're still against that, too. Faith? We're against persecution of Christians, yes we are. Spending? Um, er, we're gonna tighten up, just you watch. Immigration? We hear you and ... we're leaving town for vacation. But we'll be back, and you can be sure ... you can be sure ... you can be sure ... you can be sure. That's for darn sure. Politics are cyclical. Even though it's clear that the American people as a whole do not look to the Democrats with enthusiasm, it's equally clear that the GOP base looks at the Republican Congress and feels depressed. Meanwhile, the Democrats are getting a whiff of blood in the water and they will spend mightily to get their voters to the polls — as many times as necessary. This time it's not going to be enough for the GOP to rely on the usual hot-button social issues: gays, abortion, school prayer. The Republicans have 90 days max to make the larger case for why they deserve to remain in charge. Otherwise, the cycle's gonna change. Not because the country has "moved left" but because the Congress fell prey to the oldest political temptation: believing they're giants, and hugging power. The GOP majority in Congress needs to remember why they came to power in the first place. For decades, the Democrat majority had gotten into the bad habit of explaining Washington to the rest of the country. Newt Gingrich figured out that the trick was to convey to Americans that their needs were being heard in Washington — explaining America to Washington, as it were. Now the GOP finds itself explaining Washington to America, and that's a really bad position to be in. So what needs to happen? Speaker Denny Hastert needs to come across to the American people as an agent of fundamental change. Thus the depths of the GOp problem becomes clear. This guy was chosen precisely because he lacks anything resembling leadership ability. Selected because he would stay out of Delay's way. Hastert, who looks like he's gained 20 pounds during his tenure, has all the gravitas of a middle school assistant principal whose primary job is to issue hall passes. Nancy Pelosi, for her part, comes across as the prim head mistress of a private girl's school who spends her days dispensing clichés about "the marvelous challenges facing the next generation." So it's looking like a choice between GOP bloat and Democrat bromides. Bets?
LIBERALS, HYPOCRISY & GUILT: An aquaintance of mine — who never misses a chance to rail against "greedy capitalists who destroy the environment for their own gain," and for whom this particular complaint is only part of a far more encompassing critique of Everything American — has taken to investing in real estate, specifically two vacation houses. I teasingly pointed out that this acquisitive behavior of his seems to border dangerously on capitalism. Well, the only reason I bought the houses is because a ski slope is planned for the vicinity, which will make the properties much more valuable. That's definitely capitalist thinking, I replied. Well, I would prefer that they not build the ski slope. But it's going to be an ecologically-friendly resort, which is good. Since the project is unstoppable, I see no problem in realizing some of the benefits personally.
Festive, yes? I didn't start the enterprise, I was just standing there. Some fat cat wants to assume the risk, why should I refuse to pocket some of the resulting value? Here's the clincher. My friend regularly admits to being irritated by the fact that one of his brothers holds stock in Halliburton! He finds this unconscionable, because, you see, Halliburton is an evil corporate entity that rapes the Earth. Let us tackle these conundrums one by one, shall we? (First, by way of personal disclosure: I do not own any investment properties, nor do I own Halliburton stock.) 1. If it is morally wrong to build this ski slope (you choose the ethical criteria), the developers themselves are not the only Bad Guys involved. People who buy property with the intent of making profit are also morally deficient, yes? Conversely, if this is a "good" ski slope to build, then the goodness extends from the original investors to land speculators busy buying up adjacent properties. Can I get a yes to this, too? Analogy: Replace "ski slopes" with "gas ovens in Germany" and run the moral software. 2. "Ecologically-friendly resort." Are we talking about the world's first ski slope conceived and managed as a public charity? No. The ski slope is being created by a corporation. You know: CEO, board of directors, quarterly statements. Goal: generate wealth. 2. Halliburton. Is it a "bad" company? The answer is yes, or no, or maybe - again depending on your criteria. Now of course many leftists think Halliburton is a decidedly evil outfit. Filmmaker Michael Moore thinks so, for sure. Money quote by Moore:
Halliburton is not a "company" doing business in Iraq. It is a WAR PROFITEER, bilking millions from the pockets of average Americans. In past wars they would have been arrested -- or worse.
Well, guess what? Michael Moore bought and sold shares in Halliburton stock! Wait, it gets better. Moore also bought and sold stock in such evil corporate entities as Pfizer, Mercks, Sunoco, and General Electric. No, wait. It gets a lot better. You've heard of Noam Chomsky? Arguably the most prominent and looniest propagandist for the prominently loony left, Chomsky stands second to nobody in his hatred of corporate America (or America, more generally). Famous for declaring the Pentagon “the most hideous institution on this earth,” how ironic to learn that Chomsky worked for the Research Laboratory of Electronics, funded entirely by the Pentagon and multinational corporations. Socialist Chomsky’s vacation home in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, is today valued in excess of $1.2 million! Oh, such fun to hate capitalism, while profiting from capitalism on the side. Nothing wrong from getting rich from the system you're committed to destroying, I always say. But I digress. My capitalism-depising friend, who opposes the idea of the ski slope but means to benefit from its development, might just as well buy a few shares of Halliburton stock, too. He'll be in good company, given that he finds both Moore and Chomsky to be, um, men of integrity. Admirable, to boot. Scratch the surface of the left's hatred of all things American and it begins starts to look like the depths of the left's self-loathing might just be limitless. But of course self-hatred never feels really good; best to keep sending the bile outward. Psychologists call this "projection." But let's not get fancy. "Spewing" comes closer. Evil Halliburton! Vile ski slope! Bad Dick Cheney! Stupid George W. Bush! I hate my dad even though he's the one who made all the money that gave me the trust fund that allows me to send money to MoveOn.org to express my contempt for capitalism! And so on.
THE SENSIBLE LEFT SPEAKS: "Can There Be a Decent Left?" This was Michael Walzer's 2002 question about the mixed bag of remaining “progressives" who viewed September 11 as yet another opportunity to blame America. Long-time leftist Walzer said he'd had enough of "the favorite posture of many American leftists: standing as a righteous minority, brave and determined, among the timid, the corrupt, and the wicked. A posture like that ensures at once the moral superiority of the left and its political failure." Turns out Walzer's got some company. The Euston Manifesto is a newly drafted statement of principles by a community of leftists who've come to terms with the
disastrous history of left apologetics over the crimes of Stalinism and Maoism, as well as more recent exercises in the same vein (some of the reaction to the crimes of 9/11, the excuse-making for suicide-terrorism, the disgraceful alliances lately set up inside the "anti-war" movement with illiberal theocrats).
The signers of the manifesto also
reject without qualification the anti-Americanism now infecting so much left-liberal (and some conservative) thinking. This is not a case of seeing the US as a model society. We are aware of its problems and failings. But these are shared in some degree with all of the developed world. The United States of America is a great country and nation. It is the home of a strong democracy with a noble tradition behind it and lasting constitutional and social achievements to its name.
Now let's sit back and watch as the hate-America left proceeds to malign and slander those who signed this manifesto. It's what they're now doing to David Horowitz for revealing the 101 most dangerous academics in America, and to Kate O'Beirne for chronicling the pathology that today goes by the name of feminism — a movement that made sense when its focus was legal and civic equality between the sexes rather than the villification of men and the denial of any significant differences between males and females. Attacking people rather than ideas is also how the Klan attempted to keep the Jim Crow regime in place, once upon a time. Different players all, but the very same mindset.
ORWELL'S IMMIGRANTS: Derived from the totalitarian system depicted in the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, the adjective "Orwellian" now refers to any euphemistic and misleading language intended to mask a political purpose. George Orwell would have to smile at how the immigration debate is being covered by the mainstream media. No, make that the open-borders media. That's Michelle Malkin's phrase, and here's her coverage of the latest immigration doublespeak.