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Showing posts from August, 2017

Thoughts on the end of Season Seven of "Game of Thrones"

I'm actually a fan of the Song of Ice and Fire books, rather than the Game of Thrones TV show, although I do follow the episode recaps on YouTube.

In case you haven't followed all this, George R.R. Martin is several years behind schedule in writing the last two books, and the show is now ahead of the books. Macht nichts. The books are the real story. While the showrunners have the general outlines of where the story is going to end up, they're pretty much making it up as they go along. Several characters who are alive in the books are dead in the show (including little Shireen Baratheon, who wasn't burned alive in the books, and Catelyn Stark, who in the books is not really alive, but is at least undead). There have been many YouTube videos on audibles called by the showrunners after they'd clearly prepared the way for things to go in a certain direction and then changed their minds. For example, I won't go into details, but there have been several YouTube vid…

Mayor Arreguin is right. The fascists of the left and right should BOTH be treated like street gangs!

Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin thinks that Antifa- the violent, black clad left-wing outfit that thinks that the best way to counter fascism is to act like fascists themselves- should be classified as a street gang, and treated accordingly.

Not a bad idea. Of course, the same thing should happen with regard to people whose favorite uniforms are bed sheets and brown shirts, too. This is not a question of free speech; of course, the crazy Left and the crazy Right have just as much right to publically express their opinions and beliefs as anyone else. But neither Antifa nor the Klan nor the Nazis are interested in expressing their opinions and beliefs.

The whole idea behind all of them is to terrorize and silence and physically injure those who have contrary opinions and beliefs and to destroy their property. And nobody has a right to do that.

Someone once said that your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins. 'Nuff said.

The sickness infests both sides

Professor Ken Storey of the University of Tampa has at least had the good grace- and the decency- to apologize for having tweeted that Hurricane Harvey seems like "instant karma" for Texas having supported President Trump last November. But that doesn't make the remark itself any the less reprehensible- in fact, downright disgusting. And it just goes to show that the Left has no grounds for sanctimony when it comes to the wave of ugly, irrational hate and malice which Donald John Trump surfed into the Oval Office on.
Nor does it have reason to feel superior because of Mr. Trump's outrageous and oft-repeated claim that there was "blame on both sides" for the weekend of terror Klansmen, Nazis, and other Alt-Right stormtroopers visited upon Charlottesville, Virginia a couple of weeks ago culminating in violence which had been carefully planned for and even practiced and drilled for was initiated by the Klan and the Nazis against Leftist counter-demonstrators.…

Demagogue Trump pardons convict sheriff Arpaio, and joins him in scorning the rule of law

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. --The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States

"I, Donald J. Trump, to solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, so help me God." --Donald J. Trump, January 20, 2017
Abuse of power. Misuse of funds. Failure to investigate sex crimes. Improper clearance of cases. Unlawful enforcement of immigration laws. Election law violations. Illegal racial profiling.

Those are some of the charges which have been leveled against former Arizona Sherriff Joe Arpaio, the self-styled "toughest…

In case you're wondering why people think Donald Trump is a bigot... should know that he's mooted the suggestion that Jews are committing antisemitic hate crimes in order to make him look bad.

That suggestion is so steeped in disturbing garbage that it boggles the mind. First, why on earth would he think that? Secondly, why should antisemitic hate crimes specifically make Donald Trump look bad? Could it be because of all of the haters and anti-Semites who have flocked so eagerly to his banner?

Of course, David Duke- the Klansman Trump discussed and then denied he'd ever heard of during the campaign- recently said something similar.  I wonder if Mr. Trump has never heard of him again.

But the most charitable possible reading of the President's bizarre, hateful statement is in some ways the most disturbing of all. Even if his slander of the Jewish people were true- which of course it is not- why does everything have to be about him?

The fact that the President of the United States is barely on speaking terms with reality is worrisome.…

Our society's REAL conflict: the authoritarians vs. the idea of America

This is a drastically revised version of this post. My earlier version was written before I encountered credible evidence that there were, in fact, isolated incidents of unprovoked violence committed by counter-demonstrators against the white supremacist-dominated protestors in Charlottesville.

I still maintain that since the Nazis and Klan, unlike the counter-demonstrators, came to Charlottesville with the specific intention of committing violence, spent the entire weekend terrorizing the Charlottesville community, had clearly rehearsed and even drilled group maneuvers to facilitate attacks against counter-demonstrators, and were, in fact, the aggressors in Saturday's violence, they bear more responsibility for the disturbance than the counter-protestors who for the most part simply defended themselves.

I also still maintain that in view of the death of one demonstrator and the mayhem inflicted on close to twenty others, to speak of this matter without due weight being given to …

....Aaaaaand now Mr. Trump UNsays most of what he should have said Saturday!

It's getting pretty hard to be charitable in interpreting President Trump's... er.... verbalizations. 

Yesterday he finally got around to blaming the people actually responsible for the Charlottesville violence, the racists, and the alt-right (who just happen to include some of his most loyal and fanatical supporters).

Today, he stepped in it again, blaming "both sides" and creating out of his imagination "very violent" demonstrators against the statue of Robert E. Lee which was already going to be removed!

We have a delusional president. He makes up "facts" on the spot as the fancy takes him. It is very, very hard not to question his mental health.

Look. I happen to agree that the statue of General Lee should not be removed. Unlike other Confederate figures, Lee worked hard after the war to reconcile not only North and South but white Southerners to the reality that their former slaves were now fellow citizens. Yes, he was a slaveholder. As the …

All that spin can make a person dizzy!

The AP has run an interesting story on how the Charlottesville disturbances are being reported in the media.

Let me say that after years as a respectable conservative news source, Breitbart has gone so completely alt-right that its credibility is nil. Fox News is... well, Fox News. And a great many of the attempts to "spin" the story in a Trump-friendly fashion involve conspiracies on the part of government and law-enforcement officials which would require a great deal more evidence than is being provided to avoid being dismissed as paranoia or wishful thinking.

Still, the article is a fascinating insight into the state of journalism these days. As long-time readers of this blog know, I believe very strongly that the social, educational, and cultural uniformity of people who work in the media across the board establishes an echo-chamber which guarantees that the news will be filtered through a leftist worldview. This is not a conspiracy. It's simply a consequence of too…

Finally, Mr. Trump says what he should have said Saturday

It took him 48 hours, but President Trump has finally and explicitly condemned the white supremacist groups primarily responsible for the Charlottesville riot and for killing a counter-protestor.

“Racism is evil,” Mr. Trump said today, “and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”

Good for him. Yet it's disturbing that even after similar incidents in the past he "put his foot in it" by implying a moral equivalence between those groups and their opponents in his initial statement.

I'd like to think that it's just a matter of Mr. Trump not thinking things through. He isn't very good at choosing his words, and it would be well for him to rely on those who are better at that sort of thing to choose them when he is making an official pronouncement about something. In fact, you would think that he would be surrounde…

How dare you, Mr. President?

Imagine that a group of burglars broke into a home and murdered a person who lived there. And now imagine that the mayor held a press conference and condemned violence "on both sides," making no distinction between the murderers and the victim. I suspect that quite a few people on the Right would go bananas, and rightly so.

Well, today white nationalists held rallies on the campus of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. A smaller group counter-picketed. A car plowed into a group of counter-demonstrators. One of them was killed. Two policemen also died in a helicopter crash whose cause is being investigated.

President Trump condemned hate and violence "on many sides." In other words, he suggested an equivalence between the KKK and those committed murder on one hand and the victim and the other people demonstrating against racism on the other.

And as always, he made it about himself. He turned the political murder of American citizens into an opportunity t…

Beware! The market is being flooded with fake eclipse glasses which won't protect your eyes!

I find it impossible to imagine what it must be like to be a psychopath capable of marketing fake eclipse glasses in advance of the August 21 total solar eclipse, but the American Astronomical Society warns that the market is being flooded with them.

People are almost certainly going to go permanently blind as a result.

Here are some ways to check to see whether your eclipse glasses are the genuine article.

Your best bet, if you haven't bought your glasses yet, is to get them from trusted, reputable sources. Here is the AAS's list of approved, reputable vendors. You can trust glasses bought from any of them.

Here is a guide to the very best stuff. But remember how high the odds are. The damage done to your eyes by viewing the sun without adequate protection is permanent. Stories are told about a great scientist who supposedly viewed an eclipse with only one. unprotected eye and thereafter could see only reds and blues through it. If so, he got off lightly; that's a good way…

Three cheers for David Brooks and the New York Times!

Yesterday I had this to say about the Orwellian events at Google, where an engineer was fired for writing a nuanced, carefully documented, and eminently reasonable memo suggesting, among other things,  that while men and women are equally intelligent and that there are individual men and women are every bit as good at just about anything you can think of, science does increasingly conclude that male and female brains are wired differently, that men as a class and women as a class may each tend to have different strengths and weaknesses, and that to some unspecified extent that-not even "rather than" but "as well as-"   discrimination, might explain why there are more men in certain jobs and more women in others.

James Damore also touched on another ideological third rail in his memo. He acknowledged the degree to which his company had become a political and social echo chamber, noted that this has serious consequences for any enterprise in which objectivity was imp…

Misandry's worst nightmare

I blogged about Karen Straughan earlier in the week. I decided to do it again in order to share the video below of a talk she gave in which she says a great many provocative and important things about gender and gender issues.

When I was a child, I had no particular ambition to beat up my little sister. If anything, my attitude toward her since the day she was born was protective and cherishing, as disgusting as feminists may find that.

Yet even then I thought it just a little bit odd not that it was treated as unthinkable that I hit her, but that somehow it was less unthinkable that she hit me. She knew that and realized early on that if she could only provoke me to hit her she could get away with pretty much anything she had done to provoke me with absolute impunity.

Nobody should hit anybody, and I am enough of a male chauvinist, I guess, that the very idea of a man hitting a woman makes me see red. But why should it not also be outrageous that a woman should hit a man, even more …

Good is evil, war is peace, lies are truth- and at Google, homogeneity is diversity

One day in the Spring of 1977,  I decided on a whim to take the 'El' home to my home in Jefferson Park after a journalism class in Uptown.  Tied to a pillar on the platform by a red ribbon was an absolutely adorable Schnauzer puppy. Somebody had abandoned him there.

I couldn't just leave him there. I collected him, left the 'El' platform, and took a taxi home, the dog in tow.

We couldn't keep him. We already had a beloved Sheltie, Bonnie, and the apartment just wasn't big enough for two dogs. Mom- I was living at home at the time- made that clear immediately. "Don't give him a name," she warned, realizing that even after so short an acquaintance it was going to be emotionally wrenching to say goodbye to the little guy when we finally found a no-kill shelter that would take him or some friends willing to adopt him.

We found such a shelter, and he was adopted by a nice family from the suburbs almost immediately. But while I followed the letter …

At least Bernie is listening

Since it hasn't been widely reported, somebody should note that Bernie Sanders has "clarified" his position on Russell Vought. While the senator's position is still problematic, the trouble with what he says now is factual rather than philosophical and is certainly an improvement over what he seemed to be saying at Vought's confirmation hearing.

Sanders now says that he has no objections to someone believing that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation and that what he was reacting to was Vought's defense of Wheaton College for firing a professor who "expressed solidarity" with Muslims. Actually, the professor stated that Christians and Muslims worship the same God, an assertion which can be falsified simply by asking any given Muslim whether Jesus is his or her God. This was a theological position at variance with the beliefs of Wheaton College, a religious school, and Wheaton was well within its rights in terminating the professor.

I say this d…

We've lost an honest politician

I was saddened to hear last night of the death on of Michael S. Holewinski on June 19.

When I first met Mike, he was a law student at John Marshall and, like me, an anti-Machine Democratic activist. In those days the Illinois Constitution had a rather clever feature which only those in the know understood or appreciated. Each legislative district had three members. By tradition, neither party would run more than two candidates in any one district, so every citizen of the state always had one member of the Illinois House of his or her own party from his or her own district.

Those third, minority party members were often the most astute, effective, and widely-respected members of the House. But there was another advantage to the system. Every voter was given three votes. In primaries and general elections alike, he or she could cast one vote for each of three candidates, one and a half for two- or all three for a single candidate. This had the effect of making incumbents extremely vuln…

This is Karen. Hear her roar. She's too logical to ignore.

I was raised as an American male.

I graduated from a college at which even in the 'Eighties the men's sports teams were called the "Cougars," and the women's were called the "Kittens." I went to a seminary where feminism was taken far more seriously than the Bible or the confessions of my theological tradition. I am not comfortable with the attitudes toward gender and toward women reflected in either of those environments.

Nor do I agree with everything which Canadian anti-feminist (masculist?) Karen Straughan says. But I think she has a great deal to say that is valid and that our culture needs to hear. Moreover, her critique of feminism transfers quite readily to the whole Leftist worldview and movement.

Here's some of what she has to say.

Address to a Chicago-Style Hot Dog (With apologies to Robert Burns)

How fair your poppy-seeded face,
Great chieftain of the sandwich race!
Above them all, you take your place
With neon relish!
Your plentitude of savory grace
Words can't embellish.

The mouth with flavors grand you fill,
With every gustatory thrill
Of mustard smear and spear of dill
And celery salt;
Tomato slice and onion hill-
But nary a fault!

Cucumber slices, and, most chief,
A hot dog of Vienna beef
Not grilled or roasted, but, in brief,
Most seemly steamed.
A finer dish, in my belief
Cannot be dreamed.

Though many a crude and vulgar race
To their own deep and dark disgrace
A hot dog's glory may deface
With ketchup's grue,
None from Chicago is so base
As so to do!

Or on poor substitutions feed
With nary a single poppy seed!
The pepper's piquant grace you need
For rapture true.
No condiment of lesser breed
Will ever do!

Benighted heathens miss the thrill
Who fry or boil or roast or grill
Or this ambrosia's flavor kill
With French fry sauce.
True gourmets at su…