On the edge

Today’s shooting at Republican Congressmen practicing for a baseball game is but the latest (and possibly most worrisome) example of ever-more violent rhetoric leading to more violent action.  Our entire nation needs to take a deep breath and look hard at the road we’ve been traveling to this point.

Nearly a quarter century ago, shortly after Supreme Court Clarence Thomas was confirmed by the Senate, PBS pundit Julianne Malveaux infamously said on air ““You know, I hope his wife feeds him lots of eggs and butter and he dies early like many black men do, of heart disease.”  A number of people on both sides of the aisle considered this sort of statement to be well beyond the pale.

How far we’ve fallen.

Politics has long borrowed military language: campaign, objective, tactic and so forth.  It used to be understood these were metaphors.  Then Sarah Palin put out a campaign graphic putting “crosshair” targets on key districts in the election.  The Left went melodramatically berserk over her “eliminationist” message, trying to pin the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords on Palin’s activity.  (For the record, Gifford’s shooter turned out not to be a ‘right-winger,’ but rather, a mentally unstable person who had a bizarre fixation on her.)

Now the shoe is tied tightly on the other foot, and hopefully it pinches hard.  The militant vocabulary used today is not a metaphor: there are two broad worldviews in competition in the U.S., and both increasingly see the other as a literal enemy (and for many, one that must actually be destroyed, not just voted out of office).  I’m sure many Democrats were greatly disappointed when Wednesday’s shooter turned out to be a Bernie Bro and Rachel Maddow fan, instead of a militia member or such rot.  (That didn’t stop their automatic pleading for more gun control.)  Facebook apparently was quick on the trigger to take down the shooter’s page, but not before some of the wiser denizens of the web captured it all for posterity.

Trump is easily one of the most questionable occupants of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and continuous scrutiny is prudent.  That’s not what the other party offers.  They’re trying to nullify the last election by waging an overheated rhetorical war on two fronts: obstructionism in Congress and the courts, and riling up their base to vandalism and worse with some of the most vile language imaginable.  (Note to the Democrats: increasing the frequency of F-bombs in your public addresses might endear you to some of the college crowd, but for the rest of us it just shows you to be a crass juvenile who feeds on emotion, not careful thought.)

College campuses seem out of control, to the degree that self-appointed vigilante groups of students have to be asked by administrators to stop roaming campus with baseball bats and other instruments.  Attempts by conservatives to speak on a campus are now met frequently with vandalistic temper tantrums.  And protestors on both sides of issues like immigration are now showing up suited for battle, not just to carry signs.

Why write all this?  Because I’m concerned our nation crossed a critical line today, and the path we’re on is leading to disaster.  There are plenty of nuts in both camps, and a continuous backdrop of violent rhetoric (particularly on the internet) only encourages them.  As each side looks warily at the other, the mutual distrust leads many ordinary people to wonder if they need to be making preparations for war.  Thus does the divide get wider and more hostile.

We all need to realize that when ballots no longer settle issues, bullets do.  Is that really how we want to go forward?  Do the posturing online ‘toughs’ really want to see their friends and family caught up in the bloodshed of civil war or anarchy?  I spent 24 years in uniform believing I was helping defend America.  I’ve seen firsthand what a country looks like in a civil war (spoiler: it isn’t pretty).  Now it seems we’re determined to destroy ourselves.  If Wednesday’s any indicator, I have a feeling those who are playing with fire to score political points are going to be among the first to get burned.  But probably not the last.

God help us all.

Discovering two can pull hair

There’s already plenty of commentary about “comedian” Kathy Griffin’s disgraceful photo shoot with a simulated severed Donald Trump head.  What interests me most about this is:

(a) The utter tone deafness such a photo concept conveys in a world where beheadings and general terrorism are becoming ever more commonplace thanks to outfits like ISIS, and

(b) The serious pushback against and rare consequences for a leftist who went too far — to the point Griffin is now complaining that “Trump broke me” and that her career is over.  In other words, “it all started when he hit me back.”

Welcome to the political world your leftist friends created, Kathy.

For years, even decades, individuals running afoul of the misnamed “political correctness” have been harassed, demonized, and in more than a few cases, left unemployed or otherwise financially harmed.  For instance, a rodeo clown lost his job after performing with an Obama mask.  Now to be fair, there were plenty of inappropriate Obama images during his presidency (including suggestions of lynching, assassination and more).  Such excesses rarely failed to gain national attention and condemnation.

So why would Griffin think her stupid idea would be any different?  Because of the insulated world she and her fellow travelers live in, and the double standards they are

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Information overload

It’s good that there’s so much discussion of “fake news,” but the problem is that the discussion isn’t focusing on the problem: a lack of discernment and desire to find truth.  Partisans of every stripe grasp onto every little rumor, leaping to conclusions as recklessly as one would leap over the Grand Canyon.  Meanwhile, there isn’t a single major news outlet that hasn’t sold its political soul to one faction or another.  We’ve developed two hermetically sealed echo chambers in this country and neither has the pursuit of truth as its top priority.  We’re told (incorrectly) the First Amendment has exceptions to defend people from being “uncomfortable” or “triggered.”  This is merely suppression of opposing ideas.  I’m concerned this is the first step in our cultural cold war becoming a hot one.  People are no longer “of a different opinion;” rather, they’re evil opponents.  Hostility is projected, received and internalized.  With all the careless talk about impeachment, or obstruction of Trump’s initiatives (which still have a sizable backing in the nation’s heartland), the ability of our political processes to address the issues is coming apart.

What happens after that step is likely going to be very ugly.  What are you doing to prepare?

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The patience… it runs out

I wonder how much more of this we’ll see in the months ahead:

A Make America Great Again rally that began with a dove release to symbolize peace turned violent when supporters were doused with pepper spray by anti-Trump protesters in Southern California…

In addition to the angry scuffles on Huntington Beach, protesters clashed with MAGA marchers in Philadelphia and in Seaside Heights, New Jersey. There were also rallies across the country in Lansing, Boston, and Providence, Rhode Island.

The pepper-sprayed marchers were seen cringing in pain as other supporters clad in Trump t-shirts helped them. One man in an army green Trump hat angrily chased a protester with an American flag.

Read the entire piece at the link above, and note the many photos of the event.

For decades, traditional Americans have been called racist… and shrugged it off.

For years, openly anti-American groups have hurled insult after insult at our nation’s history and heritage… and were ignored as kooks with nothing better to do.

In recent months, juvenile idiots pretending to be protestors have blocked freeways, vandalized stores belonging to companies that publicly seem to agree with their politics(?!?), and the rest of America looked on and began to ask “what the **** is going on?”

Now we have black-clad, masked “protestors” interfering with the free speech rights of Trump supporters, to the point of open assault (that’s what using pepper spray is — and if not used in self-defense, it’s a crime).  In this case, a few Soros minions learned the hard way the patriots are finally losing their tolerance for this sort of thing.

More of these lessons are needed.

Trump vs. the “slow roll”

These paragraphs are a very true statement:

Not only are there two Americas. There are two governments: one elected and one not, one that alternates between Republicans and Democrats and one that remains, decade after decade, stubbornly liberal, contemptuous of Congress, and resistant to change. It is this second government and its allies in the media and the Democratic Party that are after President Trump, that want him driven from office before his term is complete.

You think I exaggerate. But consider this: When a former Defense official who teaches at Georgetown Law School takes to Foreign Policy to propose “3 Ways to Get Rid of President Trump Before 2020,” and when one of those ways is “a military coup, or at least a refusal by military leaders to obey certain orders,” we are in unknown and extremely unsettling territory.

Up until now, the more powerful of those “two governments” has been the career Civil Service bureaucrats, who more than once have pretended to go along with a reformer’s agenda, all the while throwing logjams in the way.  Trump’s firing of acting Attorney General Sally Yates seems a positive indication he is unwilling to put up with that longtime practice.  The next question is what he will do with the hundreds of State Department employees who are publicly disagreeing with his policy.  They’ve cowered behind a whistleblower system that is meant to protect actual reporting of malpractice, so the House has warned Trump not to retaliate.  Fine, but I’d say the signatories now bear close watching.  If they are not complying with current policy, that’s grounds for firing with cause.

We are long overdue for civil service reform, and I say that from personal experience.  Whether it’s a twenty-year civilian careerist telling a military commander “that’s just not how we do things around here” or senior executives who don’t actually have the credentials they claimed in order to get hired, or longtime employees who are unable to contribute productively and yet are impossible to fire (I’ve seen all these cases, and more), the system is rife with dead wood and personal fiefdoms.  This is part of the “Deep State” that never really changes, no matter who’s in the White House or Congress.

If Trump can shake that up so that the ENTIRE government is responsive to the people, not just the figureheads, he will have accomplished more than most presidents in the past century.  Here’s hoping.

And as for the leftists who’ve lost their mind and are even entertaining the thought of a military coup to remove Trump before the end of his term, such statements are ***already illegal*** and should land you in jail.  Maybe there they would have time to come to their senses.  That’s one genie we don’t want out of the bottle in this country, so be careful what you wish for.  Political violence has already become far too acceptable to the Left, based on all the rioting before and since the election.  What’s sauce for the goose usually becomes sauce for the gander, and as they say: payback’s a *****.  These people don’t realize the forces they’re trying to conjure up and will later greatly regret.

This-n-that

A few scattered thoughts prompted by recent reading…

1)  Seen online: “Next time we have a peaceful transfer of power, can there be less of it to transfer, please?”  Hear, hear!

2)  God continues to have fun with the Goreacle:

Park City is bracing for a slew of snow at Sundance Film Festival.

The festival locale sank to below-freezing temperatures ahead of Thursday’s opening-night film An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, Al Gore’s climate-change follow-up to 2006’s An Inconvenient Truth.

It’s sure “inconvenient” to keep having all those cold-weather events show up every time he tries to peddle global warming (oh, wait: now it’s just called “climate change.” How… convenient.)

3)  The corporate media, led by CNN, continues its increasingly brazen lying in order to imply Trump has less support than he does.  Click this link, then this one.  This is just another petty and underhanded way to try to make Trump’s administration seem illegitimate.  So for the record:

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Hey, CNN: do you want to keep getting ignored at presidential news conferences?  Because this is how you keep getting ignored.  Here’s hoping this administration holds all press outlets accountable for every propaganda twist they try to pull.  This goes for Fox News as well, whose own narrative-pushing I have direct experience with.

4)  Remember when hundreds of protestors were arrested at Obama’s first inaugural, and how conservative activists smashed storefronts and generally made a destructive nuisance of themselves?  Yeah, me neither.  It occurs to me that if these people are so violently unhappy with the country they live in, it would be a simple matter after arresting them to revoke their citizenship and give them a one-way ticket to wherever they believe things are better.  Might be a rude wakeup.  These people are so stupid they don’t realize their antics are pushing many Americans (including me) to farther political extremes than they’d ordinarily go.  Polite society has tolerated this sort of thing for so long that I fear it will take a sustained, violent crackdown to re-establish civic norms.

These antics are a symptom of what got Trump elected.  If they continue, they’re simply helping his reelection campaign from Day One.

Pathos vs. Logos

The full-throated temper tantrum thrown by so many on the Left since the election smacks a little like the Great and Powerful Oz having the curtain drawn back, showing there’s really no there, there.

Which is true.

Progressivism is a blind faith. Instead of believing in revelation, one believes in . . . progress. In this regard, progressivism resembles communism, fascism, and national socialism — all of which presumed that they were on the right side of history. Such a conviction relieves one of the need to think prudentially. Indeed, it relieves one from the need to think at all: one need only surrender to the Zeitgeist and go with the flow — which is why today’s liberalism is essentially, as both columnists imply, brain dead. Ask a progressive why he or she believes in progress, and you will get in return an astonished stare. Things are, you see, getting better all the time, and that is all there is to it.

This conviction also explains why liberals sneer at their opponents, demonize them, denounce them as “deplorables” and “irredeemables,” and refuse to engage their arguments. They descend to insults because they have no real idea why they stand where they stand. They have attitudes but they are bereft of ideas. In consequence, when they discover that they have been digging themselves into a hole, they respond by digging deeper, as they are doing right now.

Meanwhile…

A small but growing number of young conservatives see themselves not only as engaged citizens, but as guardians of an ancient intellectual tradition…

The Hertog course is one of more than a dozen similar seminars sponsored by conservative and libertarian organizations around the country. Some last for months, others just a few days. Some recruit older participants, but most target college students and 20-somethings.

The syllabuses and faculty range from say, the secular Jewish milieu of Hertog to the libertarian Cato Institute to the Christian traditionalism of the John Jay Institute. But all these programs seek to correct the defects they see in mainstream higher education by stressing principles over pluralism, immersing students in the wisdom of old books and encouraging them to apply that wisdom to contemporary politics.

By now, leftist collectivism should be thoroughly discredited in the eyes of anyone who can discern success from failure.  Deep down, many of them know it, too.  That is why their arguments increasing are “because shut up,” hurling the epithet of the week, or going on the personal attack to destroy an opponent’s livelihood.  They stay moving only by the energy of pent-up emotion, not guided by any logic or rational thinking.  By tossing out the classical works that used to be the bedrock of a truly liberal education, they have lost the ability to be challenged and to respond in a civil manner to such challenge.  Thus, the emphasis on “safe spaces,” where the bedrock foundations of Western Civilization are not allowed to intrude on their fairy tale narrative.

The dangers of unchecked pathos – reliance on emotional motivation rather than reasoned thought – are abundant.  Pathos is what fires up a nation to go to war, or give unlimited authority to a popular demagogue; logos is thinking through the cost-benefit analysis of such endeavors.  Indeed, some have seen pathos as a way to reduce the level of critical thinking in a target audience.  So it should be no surprise that a movement like Progressivism, motivated as it is by the same calls for “liberty, equality, fraternity” that motivated the French Revolution (and resulting Reign of Terror) has little in the way of rationally developed arguments with which to win over opponents.

One cannot maintain a civilization when its members can only argue by saying how they feel, rather than what they believe.  There are exceptions to this trend, as the linked article notes.  The problem is that a 2-year-old’s whose thinking is challenged tends to act out (think tantrum and hitting the other kid whose toy you want).  The adult version of that is to attempt to silence… even with violence, if necessary.

Keep that in mind as you hear the calls to regulate “fake news,” and to ban “hate speech.” Those calling for it have every intention of being the arbiters of what is “fake” or “hate,” and thus have available to them the full force and weight of the State to destroy those who do not comply.