Everything you needed to know about the Dems, run through the Kagan filter

Kim Priestap, who blogs at Up North Mommy, got an impassioned email from the Democratic Party, raving about Elena Kagan.  Does it rave about her brains?  No (although it mentions as an aside that she’s “among the best legal minds this country has to offer,” which is a depressing comment about legal minds in America).  Her legal expertise?  No.  Her judicial experience?  No (because there is none, no matter how one puffs up her limited management experience and some government work).  Her looks?  No, no and no.

Instead, the email is very clear about Kagan’s single most important virtue, along with a little subsidiary fillip to add to the Progressive excitement:  She’s a woman and, even better, she’s almost black because she once worked for a black man.

Read the following and tell me if the whole point of the Democratic euphoria isn’t that, after being the first female Harvard Law School dean, and the first female Solicitor General, she’s poised to become the third female Supreme Court justice sitting on the court, and one who is black by association, thereby raising both the female and black liberal quota on the Supreme Court:

Have you been watching the hearings? The nomination of a Supreme Court justice is a special time in Washington, DC. The air tastes different — it buzzes with an electricity even the humidity can’t conquer — and even more so this time.

Elena Kagan’s nomination is special. It took us almost 200 years as a country to get the first woman on the Supreme Court, but now we’re on a roll! If Elena Kagan is confirmed, for the first time, we’ll have three women serving together. We’re still a far cry from parity, but we cannot allow the perfect to become the enemy of the good. We’re making progress, and Elena Kagan is great progress.

Over the past three days of hearings, she has conducted herself with poise, grace, rigor, and humor. She has won praise from liberals and conservatives — prior to her nomination and since. It’s no easy feat to become the first female dean of Harvard Law School and the first female to serve as solicitor general. Her illustrious resume also includes periods as associate White House counsel and deputy policy director under President Bill Clinton, as a teacher at the University of Chicago Law School, and as a law clerk for Justice Thurgood Marshall.

Lend your name to help us show that the American people back Elena Kagan’s nomination.

Let there be no doubt: She earned this nomination. It’s not simply because she’s a woman, or because she’s among the best legal minds this country has to offer. I know firsthand the strength of Elena’s character and am certain she is the best choice.

The Supreme Court nomination process, like almost any political contest, is like a food fight where the nominee does his or her best to stay clean and dry while everyone else in the room slings Sloppy Joes. I’ve watched this before (recently) and there’s nothing the Republicans won’t do to take down a nominee chosen by a president they’ve vowed to obstruct at all costs.

Republicans are attacking her credibility, her credentials, and her character. They’ve become particularly focused on her work as a clerk for Justice Marshall, seemingly maligning his long and respected service to our country. As chief counsel to the NAACP, Justice Marshall argued the case of Brown v Board of Education. Later he would become the first African American to serve as solicitor general and the first African American to serve as a justice of the Supreme Court. We would be better off with more justices like Marshall, and Kagan’s work for him should be a feather in her cap, not a thorn in her side right now.

The other side is grabbing at straws, with nothing to support their groundless accusations, but it doesn’t stop the attacks. The Democratic Party is pushing back to ensure that this incredible woman gets a fair hearing, but we must also show that public support for Kagan is overwhelming.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony are rolling in their graves.  I think Martin Luther King is also starting to wiggle around in there.  This is not what they envisioned when they campaigned for equal rights for women, or demanded that people be measured, not by the color of their skin or bra size, but by the content of their character.  These trailblazers wanted women and blacks to enjoy full inalienable, constitutional, and legal rights in America.  For women and minorities to be valued just as numbers on some quota list is heartbreaking and as dehumanizing in its own way as the ancient status quo.

I have nothing more to say.

Color me stupid, but I don’t know why legal immigrants support illegal immigration

Turns out that Hispanics, who are probably as misinformed as Eric Holder about the actual contents of the Arizona immigration law, are opposed to it in vast numbers.  I don’t get it.  When the illegal immigrants pour into American communities, bringing with them all their pathologies (gangs, drugs, alcoholism, violence, and poverty), they’re not coming to my neighborhood.  Nope.  Instead, these nightmare neighbors are moving into established Hispanic neighborhoods.

If American could control the flow of immigrants, she would be able to say no to gang bangers and drug runners.  But since political correctness disallows our nation a voice into the immigration process, which has become completely self-selecting, every Hispanic community in America gets as its new residents a whole bunch of bad guys.

This, of course, is the insanity of identity politics.  It’s the same insanity that sees gays saying, “Because I’m gay, I must be politically Left, and if I’m politically Left, it must mean I support the beleaguered Palestinians, and I do so despite the fact that Palestinians kills gays, and Palestinian gays are trying to immigrate to the safe haven of Israel.”  (An alternative version of this identity politics line of thinking goes, “Because I’m gay, I must be politically Left, and that means I complain about America bullying poor Iran, despite the fact that Iran is able to boast about the absence of homosexuals only because it routinely kills them.”)

This same identity politics insanity shows up in the black community.  There, you get blacks saying that, “Because I’m black, I have to hate cops, who are all racist pigs, including all the black cops in my community — who, incidentally, are putting their lives on the line to protect me against the number one risk I face:  fellow blacks.”

I’ve also blogged here about the fact that pro-illegal immigration groups, including the same Hispanics who are welcoming predators to their own community, are doing a profound disservice to those Hispanics (the vast majority, really) who remain behind in Latin America, especially in Mexico.  As long as these governments have America as a safety valve to which they can send their criminals and poorest people, and from which they can get vast sums of money that illegal immigrants (who are not emotionally invested in America) send home, these governments, especially Mexico, have no interest in changing their feckless and corrupt ways.  And as long as they continue to be feckless and corrupt, their citizens continue to suffer.

So color me stupid, or perplexed, or maybe just unfettered by identity politics, but it makes absolutely no sense to me that American Hispanics oppose a law that will improve the quality of their own lives, as well as the lives of Hispanics remaining behind in their countries of origin.

Lowering the bar on incitements to violence *UPDATED*

Unless you’ve been visiting some other planet somewhere in the universe, you already know about Comedy Central’s South Park debacle.  That’s the one, of course, that saw Comedy Central, the oh-so-hip-and-edgy (meaning often offensive) television station brutally censoring a South Park episode that implied that Mohamed was walking around wearing a bear suit — when it turned out to have been Santa in the suit all along.

Comedy Central made this censorship decision when a New York Muslim suggested that airing the show as written might result in a Theo Van Gogh moment.  That would mean that someone associated with the show would soon be appearing on the streets of New York with multiple stab wounds, a partially severed head, and a wildly hostile-to-Western-culture letter impaled on his chest.

There are a couple of points I want to make about this whole embarrassing debacle — embarrassing for Comedy Central, which shows that it’s offensive only when it’s safe; and a debacle, because it’s one more nail in the coffin of the free speech that has always been an integral part of America’s political and social culture.

My first point riffs off something David Hazony said in a Commentary blog post about the South Park episode (emphasis mine):

The core of liberal society is the belief that every new thought, every iconoclasm, every “dangerous” idea, can be uttered somewhere, by someone, as long as it doesn’t openly incite violence — and that every sacred cow is ultimately just a cow.

(I urge you to read the whole post, but the above sentence is the one that intrigued me.)

In the old days, the notion of incitement to violence examined whether the speaker literally incited violence.  For example, the speaker might say to the crowd “Kill the President” or “Kill the Congress person” or “Kill all the meter maids” or something equally incendiary.  The threat of violence wasn’t implicit in the speech; it was explicit.  No civilized society could countenance speech that simply and directly inflamed blood lust.  We in America have always been willing to trade in the world of ideas, but the civil contract demands that we stop short of demanding someone’s head on a pike.

We’ve now entered a brave new world that redefines “incitement to violence” away from its traditional meaning of explicit demands for blood, death or revolution.  Now, “incitement to violence” includes speech or images that hurt someone’s feelings or offend their sensibilities.  As a society, we used to say that it was just tough if someone’s sensitivities were roughed up by speech that falls far short of calling for that person’s (or someone else’s) blood.  We recognized that our civil contract — our constitutional contract — requires for its health resilient people who can deal with hurt feelings.

Now, however, we see our media and political outlets repeatedly defining as incitement speech that lacks any calls for violence but that merely makes the crazy man angry.  Where we would once police the crazy man, we now police ourselves.  Everything we say must be run through the filter of “will it make the crazy man angry?”

Except of course, we’re not talking about any random crazy man.  We’re talking about the sharia-obsessed Muslim crazy man.  And by making that man — that sharia man — the standard by which incitement must be judged, we’re veering sharply away from a constitutional standard of free speech, and placing ourselves squarely within that man’s sharia code.  Which really means that the second American Revolution, the one that sees us forever part ways with our current system of government, will begin, and end, not with flaring muskets and brave midnight battles, but with a whimper and a bowed head.

What’s even worse (I’m at my second point, now), is that we’re out-sharia-ing sharia, and caving, not to the demands of the moderates, but to the extremists.  (Frankly, we’ve become such a PC, identity-politics obsessed culture that we’d cave to moderates too if we felt it would spare the feelings of someone defined as a victim in the PC lexicon.)  The wholesale ban on any Mohamed images whatsoever is an extremist ban.  Take for example this truly beautiful medieval painting, which I got from a pre-911 book:

babymohammed0002

Isn’t that exquisite (despite the scanning flaws arising from the picture’s spread across two pages)?

Not only is it beautiful, it’s also a picture of Mohamed.  The swaddled little baby in the far left corner, with his face fully revealed, cradled in the arms of two loving angels, is Mohamed himself.  Some medieval Muslim, inspired by Christian iconography surrounding the birth of Christ, painted this reverential scene of Mohamed’s birth.

Admittedly, the above painting seems to be a rarity.  Other medieval Muslims painted Mohamed too, but they carefully veiled his face, to avoid something that could be considered a blasphemous or inaccurate image.  (Considering that there are no contemporary images of Mohamed, just as there are no contemporary images of Jesus Christ, the fact is that all images are inaccurate, reflecting the artist’s faith and skill, rather than a carefully limned image of known features.)  The medieval era, therefore, produced myriad pictures, such as this one, portraying Mohamed’s marriage to one of his wives:

bridegroommohammed0001

Mohamed, on the left, has a veil neatly drawn across his face.  The artist has reverentially drawn a scene without exposing himself to the inevitable risk of erroneously portraying the prophet’s face.  Incidentally, if you’re really thinking this through, as the radicals seem not to have done, you might conclude that, although a bear costume isn’t a neat, curtain-like little veil, the effect is identical:  Mohamed is hidden from view.

All of the above, of course, is art historian persnickety-ness.  The real issue is that fact that we, a free society that has never let government dictate to us the terms of our religious worship, are meekly allowing a religion to which we do not subscribe to dictate the terms of our social, political, artistic, ideological and intellectual behavior.  The proscription against potentially blasphemous images of Mohamed should apply only to Muslims.  The fact that Muslims wish to apply it to all of us tells us volumes about their jihad mentality (a world at war, with a winning Islam and a losing everyone else) and our self-abasing victim approach to those chest-thumpers in the Islamist camp who want to make now the time, and this the place, for their world conquest.

Sadly, Comedy Central isn’t an anomaly.  Instead, it seems to be a harbinger of things to come.  It’s conduct is the thin of edge of the wedge when it comes to a cultural decision to give in and, by giving in, give away the constitutional freedoms that generations of our forebearers fought bravely to defend.

UPDATE:  A friend reminded me that Zombie created a full post with exquisite Islamic iconography showing Mohamed’s face.  Please check it out, as the images are better than anything I’ve included here.

The problem with identity politics is that humans defy simple classifications

I wrote yesterday about the softball players who were accused of being “not gay enough.”  I appreciate that the league in question has its rules — you must be gay — but the story still got me thinking about what constitutes being gay.  From there, of course, I started thinking about identity politics.  Let me walk you through my train of thought.

The day before this news story broke, a woman with whom I was speaking told me she believes her grandson is gay.  He’s only eight but, according to her, his movements are effeminate.  I know what she means.  I’ve known children like that.  I stumped her with a question, though:  “What if, when he grows up, he still likes girls?  Does that mean he’s gay because of his decidedly effeminate body language or straight because he wants to sleep with women?”  She was stumped.  Her labeling didn’t extent that far.

Humans like labels.  Without our innate ability to organize and categorize, because of the overwhelming amount of data we receive from the world around us, we would be dysfunctional.  You can imagine some distant hunter/gatherer ancestor standing paralyzed before a brown thing, unable to classify it as plant or animal, safe or dangerous, edible or poisonous.  That perplexed hunter/gatherer did not survive to pass down his genes.  The one who was able to classify the object correctly as a bush waving in the wind, a sleeping bear, or the entrance to a cave was the one who was able to be fruitful and multiply.  We are that well-organized person’s descendants.

Having an inherent ability, however, doesn’t mean that we have to let that ability control.  We are all capable of killing but, if we’re moral, we don’t unless we have to.  We’re hardwired for sex, but the vast majority of us can control our libidos.  We tamp down on our fight and flight instincts, too, insofar as we’ve figured out that a stressful meeting with the boss isn’t license to hit him or run away.

In the same way, I do believe we can control the rampant categorization that constitutes identity politics.  People are not labels.  They are the giant sum of their parts, their interests, and their values.  I have good friends who are gay conservatives, and I even know some Jewish conservatives.  I know Asians who are slackers.  These people are who they are, not what they are.

For a generation that was raised to shake off all the old stereotypes (and I still came into the world on the tail-end of the “Poles are stupid,” “Jews are greedy,” “Scots are frugal,” “Irish are shiftless,” “Asians are sneaky” tropes that were endemic in American society for so many decades), we seem awfully anxious to embrace stereotypes all over again.  It’s just that we’re embracing entirely new stereotypes that still manage to lock people into straight jackets just as tightly as the old ones did.

I’ll close this post with a story — a true story — just to remind us that humans, in their beautiful variety, regularly deny even their own attempts to lock themselves into neatly labeled boxes.

One of my friends was estranged from his father.  After many years, he made an effort to visit Dad, who was still living in the same old apartment.  What was new was the label over the buzzer.  Instead of saying “John Doe,” it read “Jane Doe.”  That was peculiar.  What was even more peculiar was the fact that Dad answered the door decked out in his deceased wife’s old clothes.  It turned out that Dad had spent his entire married (and parenting) life hiding the fact that he was a transvestite.  With his wife gone, he had come to terms with that fact, as well as with the fact that he was a woman trapped in a man’s body.  He was about to begin the long road of hormonal treatments for a sex change operation.  My friend, who is an open-minded man, was glad that his father was finally going to find some peace, and they had a friendly parting.

The long estrangement, though, made it so that it was some time before my friend again visited his father.  To his surprise, the label over the buzzer now read “John Doe.”  And even more surprising was the fact that his Dad answered the door attired in ordinary guy wear — jeans and a t-shirt.  You see, Dad had had another epiphany.  He was not a woman trapped in a man’s body; he was a lesbian trapped in a man’s body.  He’d also figured out that he had infinitely more success romancing the women he craved when he looked like man, than he did when he looked like a woman.

Clearly, John/Jane Doe was a person who suffered profoundly from a mind-body disconnect.  I’m grateful that he lives in a society that allows him (her?) to try to find some happiness.  It can’t be easy living that way.

Aside from it’s comedy-tragedy elements, though, this story reminds us that, when it comes to trying to slot human behavior into neat little boxes, it just can’t be done.  And to try to create vast social policies based upon those impossible and unreasonable boxes is an even sillier idea. That’s the beauty of a libertarian/capitalist system.  Subject to some government policing against fraud and abuse, and within the framework of a government fulfilling its basic health, safety, transportation, etc., functions, people are free, whether this means they’re free to live in City A as opposed to City B, to be a plumber or a professor, or to figure out whether someone else is trying to share their body with them.

Identity politics once again runs amok, this time with athletes who aren’t “gay enough”

In my previous post, I talked about the way in which the Left desperately tries to cubby-hole people, events and ideas, without any real understanding of what lies beneath those labels.  Seconds after I finished writing that post, I read this newspaper article, which sounds like a parody, but isn’t:

All Steven Apilado, LaRon Charles and Jon Russ wanted to do was to win the championship game at the Gay Softball World Series for their amateur San Francisco team.

Instead, they were marched one by one into a conference room at the tournament in suburban Seattle and asked about their “private sexual attractions and desires,” and their team was stripped of its second-place finish after the men were determined to be “non-gay,” they said in a lawsuit accusing a national gay sports organization of discrimination.

The suit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Seattle, pits the National Center for Lesbian Rights, a San Francisco group backing the men, against the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance, which prides itself on barring discrimination based on sexual orientation.

At issue is whether the gay sports alliance violated Washington state’s public accommodations laws by enforcing a rule limiting to two the number of heterosexuals who can play on a team.

Apilado, Charles and Russ were members of D2, a team that was part of the San Francisco Gay Softball League. The squad made it to the championship game at the August 2008 tournament in Kent, Wash.

But another team, the Atlanta Mudcats, which had lost to D2 in a semifinal game, complained that the San Francisco team had too many straights.

Read the rest here.  This is the kind of article that has you giggling madly at the insanity of it all, even though the saner part of your brain is wondering how our society got to the point where people are being denied athletic opportunities because they not “gay enough.”

Identity politics is the antithesis of the individualism that was always the bedrock of the American identity.  I am the sum of my many, many parts, large numbers of which are, and should be, invisible to the public eye.  I refuse to have one of those parts be held as so overwhelmingly important that society forces me into certain belief systems and behaviors antithetical to the whole me.

A writer who understands how the Left operates

I’m reading a very enjoyable novel right now that is completely on point about the way in which the Left operates, especially when it comes to the media and academia.

The writer is tuned into the name calling that substitutes for informed debate. For example, when the book’s protagonist, Paul, learns that Leftists started submitted articles to a magazine that contained misstatements of facts in an effort to shift political sentiment (a la Climategate, although this book predates that effort), the following dialog ensues between Paul and Bill Weider, the magazine’s editor:

“But – Bill, why don’t you publish the story you told me? Just as you’ve told it to me? Let your readers know. Let the public see what is happening.”

Weidler’s frown came back. “You know what will happen? There will be a campaign against us. We’ll be called fascists, war-mongers, American imperialists, witch-hunters.”

“You’ve forgotten to add ‘hysteria-inciters,’” Paul said, smiling. “Strange how often they’ve been using hysteria recently – almost hysterically, in fact.”

On the subject of claims about hysteria, my sister, much impressed, sent me this Glenn Greenwald article deriding American hysteria about the Flaming Panties bomber.  I wrote her back that Americans would be less inclined to be hysterical if the administration would identify and focus upon an enemy – that would be radical Islam, by the way. As long as the Administration (and this goes for the past Administration too) refuses to identify the enemy, all Americans are suspect, and all must be exposed to searches, stupid restrictions, and other limitations on civil liberties.

In a charming aside, the book tackles the root cause question. When the book’s heroine, Rona, and her sister, Peggy, talk about an unpleasant acquaintance, they have this to say:

“She isn’t a friend of yours, is she?” Peggy was now very much the elder sister.

“Not particularly,” Rona said, which was a miracle of understatement. “Scott says she’s a product of her environment,” she added.

“Strange how we never use that phrase when we are describing pleasant people,” Peggy said….

Do I need to remind you that one of the first things Obama did after the Flaming Panties bombing was to emphasize the poverty in Yemen? Yes, it’s true that poor, corrupt countries are great hosts for radical Islamists, but there is no doubt that the bombers, whether they’re the fabulously wealthy founder of Al Qaeda, young dilettantes flying airplanes into the World Trade Center, ordinary Yorkshire youths blowing up British subways, educated psychiatrists shooting soldiers at Fort Hood, or fabulously wealthy Nigerians setting their underwear on fire are products of only one environment, one that the Left never dares to acknowledge: Islam.

Using a conversation between Paul and his friend, Jon, a professor, the writer has a long riff on the way in which the Left deliberately targets universities and newspapers – indeed, all media of mass communication – as a way in which to manipulate the public:

“You’re in education, Jon. Do you think propaganda is a powerful force? Could it be dangerous? Supposing an enemy of this country had its sympathizers carefully planted here? Supposing these propagandists were trying to infiltrate such businesses and professions as radio, the press, films, schools and colleges, the theater, publishing?”

“That’s a damned silly question,” Jon said almost angrily. “You ask how dangerous it might be?” He looked at Paul, unbelievingly, but Paul kept silent. “This is the twentieth century, with communication easier and more powerful than it’s ever been. The trouble with those who see no danger, who think we are perfectly safe if only we invent more hideous bombs is that they are still living with a nineteenth century idea of peace. Wars haven’t changed much except in bigger and better holocausts. But peace, as we are going to see it in this century, is something quite altered. A lot of new dangers are going to stay with us permanently just because we’ve invented a lot of peacetime conveniences that make life so interesting. It isn’t only armies we have to fear today: it’s words, words abused and corrupted and twisted.”

Still Paul said nothing.

“You see,” Jon went on patiently, “a hundred years ago, fewer people could read, fewer people were educated, and fewer people thought they could argue about international conditions. Also, in those days, propaganda spread more slowly and less widely. But now we’ve got a vast public who read their papers, discuss books and articles, go to the movies and the theater, listen to their radio, watch television, and send their children to schools and colleges.”

“And a public,” Paul interposed, “who have enough to do with arranging their own lives without analyzing all the things they read or hear. They’ve got to trust the honesty of those men who deal with the written or spoken word. Just as the journalist, or the movie director, or the teacher, has got to trust the honesty of the businessmen and workers whenever he buys a refrigerator or a car or a shirt. Isn’t that right?”

The above was written before the 2008 election – before the media completely abandoned its role of reporting and became an institution devoted to advocating a single party in an election. And, as Paul predicted, the public bought it hook, line and sinker, trusting as they did in the honesty of the written and spoken word pouring out over the airwaves. Nowadays, big lies get promulgated with warp speed, in myriad media outlets, and they live forever, corrupting political discourse.

The author recognizes the way in which the Left is hostile to any wars that might conceivably advance American interests. In speaking of a college campus, she says:

“The colleges and universities were full of pickets with placards saying it was all an imperialist war. The students and faculties were deluged with leaflets denouncing war-mongers and reactionaries. Speakers were appearing on the campus, haranguing us all not to fight.”

There’s a universality to that description, since it aptly describes the Left’s anti-War tactics in 1940, 1968, 1991, 2003, and today. To the Left, the possibility of a good war, a war to maintain the line against totalitarianism and preserve freedom, is always impossible to imagine – and the easiest targets for that failure of imagination are colleges students, since it is they who must be convinced that they are fighting for something worth defending.

Speaking of fighting for something worth defending, the writer has no truck with the Leftist habit of moral relativism. Here are Rona and her boyfriend Scott having a debate about a guest at a party who Rona believes has a tiresome habit of painting everything in Left of center politics:

“His line is so old! Two years ago, or three, he could manage to get away with it. But not now.”

“What do you mean?” Scott looked across the room.

“Just that he wasn’t the least little bit the original talker he likes to imagine he is. He only succeeded in annoying most of our guests.”

“Because he thinks differently from them? Se we must all talk the same way, think the same things?”

“No, darling!” She rose and came over to him. “I don’t believe two of us in the room echoed any point of view, except in a general way – well, of believing that right is right and wrong is wrong.”

“That’s all relative,” Scott said. “Depends on each man’s frame of reference.”

“I don’t believe that,” she said, “except for the small things in life. You can find them as relative as you like. But in the big things, you’ve got to decide what is right, what is wrong. Or else you’ve no moral judgment, at all. Like Murray. He’s just a parrot, that’s all he is.”

Moral relativism, of course, is a chronic talking point for the Left, and a chronic problem for those educated and controlled by the Left. In the War against Islamists, for example, moral relativism is tightly entwined with the whole “root cause” that both the author and I mentioned above. After all, as Michael Moore said, one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist. The Left never seems to understand that, while the act of fighting may be the same, the reason one fights determines whether one is morally right or wrong. Fighting for individual liberty is a good reason to fight; fighting to subjugate the world to a misogynist, homophobic, antisemitic, anti-Christian, completely totalitarian religion – well, not so good.

In the last section of the book from which I’ll quote, the writer also tackles the Left’s habit of targeting individuals by appealing to their sense of victim hood. Multiculturalism isn’t a means of preserving what’s special about a group’s ethnicity. Instead, it’s a political tool aimed at dividing Americans from each other, and making them dependent on the Left as their only savior.

While today’s victims are mostly blacks, Hispanics, gays, lesbians, women (when it’s still useful), Muslims, etc., in the book, the man targeted to be a victim who can be saved only by the Left is a Jew:

“I’ve a battle on my hands right now. They want us to keep different, and I’m telling them the hell with that, we’re Americans. That’s what we are. Stop building a wall around us, stop emphasizing differences, that’s what I keep trying to tell them. And they look at me as if I were some kind of traitor.” He looked at Jon Tyson. “But I’m building no wall, and no one is going to persuade me to do it.”

Obviously, I’ve been playing coy with you, keeping secret the book’s author, title and date of publication. Those of you who know my weakness for Helen MacInnes’ Cold War novels might already have figured out that I’m quoting from one of her books. The book in question is Neither Five Nor Three, published in 1951. It focuses on the Left’s infiltration of the media world and college campuses.

This was the beginning of the Cold War, of course, so Helen MacInnes couldn’t look ahead and realize how that infiltration would be completely successful. While we were challenging the Soviet Union abroad, it was taking over our institutions at home. And now, as Leftist Professor Ward Churchill would say, “The chickens have come home to roost.” All of the nascent tactics MacInnes described then – the moral relativism, the victim-based multiculturalism, the name-calling, the anti-Americanism – have become permanently entrenched in America’s media and education cultures. In those days, people saw these things and remarked upon them. In these days, people believe in the message and approve of the messengers.

Just a quick thought about the UC tuition hike

The UC regents voted for a steep increase in tuition.   Some have pointed to the unedifying spectacle of whining middle class students taking to the streets to protest the tuition increase, since they prefer to have California’s working class, most of whom will not attend the school, bear the financial burden.  Although I agree in principle about California’s spoiled brats, I’m not sure that’s the right argument for the UC problem.  The point of public education is that everyone pays so that some may benefit — on the theory that those who benefit will contribute to society for the benefit of all.  Of course, what we actually have in California is a punitive tax system that means that those who actually benefit, if they’re smart, promptly leave the state, taking their skills, education and tax dollars with them.  But still, the theory is that the tax payers get a secondary benefit from having an educated class within their midst.

The real problem, I think, is the UC system itself.  I’ll freely admit that I last attended a UC college more than two decades ago, but I’m assuming the situation then has gotten worse, not better.  With the exception of three hugely talented teachers who brought their subjects alive, my Berkeley professors could easily be lumped into a single descriptive class:  Except for the three mentioned, none could teach worth a damn — that is, those who bothered teaching at all, as opposed to handing the task off to grossly underpaid graduate students, many of whom had only a limited grasp of the English language.  The professors would read from yellowed notes, or waffle on in monotones, sucking the life out of everything.  Despite their manifest limitations, because they published (remember:  publish or perish), they were tenured, and their pathetic inability to teach was irrelevant.

The beauty of tenure was that they were paid sooooo well.  Professors didn’t live middle class lives — they lived upper middle class lives.  They had houses in the Berkeley hills with expansive views of the San Francisco Bay.  Their kitchens were cleaned by the Hispanic help and their gardens groomed by the Japanese.  The fact that so many of these professors were Marxists was irrelevant to these delightful living arrangements.

If one queried the lavish way in which these state employees lived, one was told that Berkeley, to keep its world standing, needed to compete with such private facilities as Harvard or Yale.  I don’t know about that, but I do know that many professors at City College in San Francisco were doing a much better job teaching.  At the same time I took a mind-numbing art history class at Berkeley, my mom took the identical class (at least in terms of subject matter) at City College.  My teacher was a mumbling, boring drag.  Her teacher was a dynamo, who brought the class to life.  Whenever I had time, I’d go to his class, not my own.  He wasn’t at a world class institution, but he was a world class teacher — and there were so many like him.  Unburdened by the cachet of Berkeley, and the “publish or perish” imperative, these people simply got down to the job of actually teaching.

Another problem with Berkeley and tuition is the absolute garbage being taught.  Should anybody be paid to teach, on the taxpayer’s dime, the politically correct effluvia that flows from the Gender Women’s Studies department:

The Department of Gender and Women’s Studies offers interdisciplinary perspectives on the formation of gender and its intersections with other relations of power, such as sexuality, race, class, nationality, religion, and age. Questions are addressed within the context of a transnational world and from perspectives as diverse as history, sociology, literary and cultural studies, postcolonial theory, science, new technology, and art.

The undergraduate program is designed to introduce students to women’s studies, focusing on gender as a category of analysis and on the workings of power in social and historical life. The department offers an introduction to feminist theory as well as more advanced courses that seek to expand capacities for critical reflection and analysis and to engage students with varied approaches to feminist scholarship. The curriculum draws students into interdisciplinary analysis of specific gender practices in areas such as feminism in a transnational world, the politics of representation, feminist science studies, women and work, women and film, gender and health, and the politics of childhood.

The department offers an undergraduate major and minor. It also houses an undergraduate minor in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender studies, a program whose courses overlap productively with feminist and gender studies. Faculty in the department collaborate with an extensive group of extended faculty through the Designated Emphasis in Women, Gender and Sexuality, which provides graduate students across campus with a site for transdisciplinary learning and teaching. The department is now in the process of developing a Ph.D. Program in Transnational Studies of Women and Gender, which will involve faculty from a range of departments. The department fosters connections with scholars in feminist and sexuality studies throughout the campus by cross-listing courses, collaborating in research, and participating in the Gender Consortium, which links research and teaching units that focus on gender.

African Studies is equally bogus, functioning, not as a way for African-Americans to learn about their culture, but as an umbrella for Marxist theory. You don’t have to believe me.  You can convince yourself with a visit to the UC Berkeley African-Studies Events link.  Scroll down and click on “Robert Allen Celebrated: A 40th Anniversary Tribute to Black Awakening in Capitalist America.” I optimistically thought this would be a program about the benefits of capitalism for African-Americans (because I believe capitalism benefits all people, just as a rising tide lifts all boats). Silly me. At that link, you can hear audio files from the celebration. I know you’re hungering to hear about:

“Malcolm X and Robert Allen on Domestic (Neo-)Colonialism and Revolutionary Nationalism, and Black Awakenings as a seminal bridge between the ‘organic’ and ‘traditional’ intellectual traditions of activist-scholarship.”

or perhaps

“Colony Over-the-Rhine: Gentrification and Econocide.”

or even

“Social Justice and state crisis: Lessons for the future from the 1960s Black Liberation movement.”

This scholarship isn’t about enabling blacks, at taxpayer’s expense I might add, to advance in American society. Instead, it’s firmly intended s to keep blacks locked in the perpetual victim servitude of identity politics.

This kind of “academic material,” if I can dignify it with that title, is for hobbyists and obsessives, not for people nominally being educated for the benefit of (and at the expense of) the people of the State of California.  It’s equally easy to attack the other “politically correct” departments that populate the school, all providing the “mick” classes (i.e., Mickey Mouse or easy classes) that people with a high tolerance for BS will take, and that have absolutely nothing to do with a classical education of great thought, science, languages, history and, perhaps, world culture.

Students and taxpayers alike would benefit substantially if the UC system, rather than repeatedly imposing an ever greater burden on students and taxpayers alike, would actually examine its own flaws.  It should purge those who can’t teach (or at least stop pretending they’re teachers), and it should peel away the politically correct classes that weigh down the curriculum (at great expense) and focus on core education that benefits, not just the students, but the long-suffering people of California.

Here’s the way I would do it:  I would create a two tier UC system.  The bottom tier, primarily funded by taxpayers, would offer the same core curriculum that existed before the free speech movement, before Marxism and before political correctness ate away like a canker at the heart of the system.  This tier would focus on science, mathematics, history, languages, etc.  It would pretty much resurrect the 1958 (or thereabouts) catalog.  In this way, the state would still get the benefit of an educated class that, in theory, would then raise the whole tone of the state.

All other classes at UC would be a la carte, with students interested in them paying extra for the privilege of learning something outside of the core curriculum.  Those who want a basic education would get it.  Those who want more, would pay, either out of their parents pockets or, if they approached college as I did, by getting a job.  This approach would bring the marketplace into the mix, and allow the Regents, the state and the taxpayers see just how many people are actually willing to dig into their own pocket for “womyn’s studies” and Afro-centric Marxist victim classes.

Somehow, though, I think both taxpayers and students are going to be gouged in perpetuity in order to fund a significantly large group of Marxist professors intent on teaching identity politics papulum to our poor, vulnerable youth.

Even the Muslims are mad at Britain’s most recent attack of dhimmitude

We’re getting near the tail-end of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month that requires dawn to dusk fasting.  Now, I’m a gal who enjoys noshing during the day, so I’m not thrilled about abstaining from food and drink for 10 hours.  I’d be especially unhappy if it was a hot day, ’cause any type of drink would look awfully enticing.  Nevertheless, it is not the end of the world to hold off on eating for a few hours, especially with the promise of a nice meal to come at the end of the day.  Also, assuming I’m a devout Muslim, I’m not fasting as a punishment, but as as a religious obligation.  It is my gift to God and my faith.

The British Home Office, however, was terribly, terribly worried about those Muslims amongst it who might have rumbly tummies and dry mouths.  It therefore sent around a 5 page document informing all the bone-headed ordinary Brits in its employ about all the sensitivity steps they’d need to talk to make their hungry colleagues happy until night fell:

Home Office staff were officially warned not to eat in front of their fasting Muslim colleagues during Ramadan – in case it made them feel hungry.

The advice came in a taxpayer-funded internal document listing do’s and don’ts during the Muslim holy month, which ends this weekend.

[snip]

The Home Office Islamic Network produced the five-page information sheet which says: ‘In practical terms, please be sensitive when eating lunch near a Muslim colleague who is fasting.

This can make an individual feel hungrier and make it more challenging to observe the fast.’

[snip]

It says: ‘The most likely need Muslim staff may present to managers during this period is for flexibility around working hours and break times as those fasting will have a slightly different routine from usual. Managers and Muslim staff should discuss what their needs are and be responsive and sensitive.’

Managers were also told: ‘Muslim staff who are fasting and whose environment allows it may wish to set out for work earlier than usual and finish their working day correspondingly early…in line with flexi-time arrangements.’

[snip]

The spokeswoman added that the Islamic Network was one of a number of staff faith and equality groups within the Home Office and was paid for by the taxpayer.

What’s so incredibly funny about all this is that the British, who have completely accepted that there home culture must always be subordinate to another culture, have not protested.  Instead, the protests came from Muslim groups, who felt as if they’d had a big target painted on them:

The Muslim Public Affairs Committee, which claims to be fighting a ‘political jihad against Islamophobia’, attacked the document.

It said: ‘It is designed to create more hatred in the hearts of non-Muslims.

‘We don’t care how much non-Muslims eat in front of us.

‘It’s never been an issue and never will be and we have never asked for any special treatment or sensitivity from non-Muslims whilst fasting.’

What’s sad is that we no longer live in a society where the bottom line is simply a party of human decency:  If possible, as a good human being and a member of a pluralist society, be nice to people and make reasonable accommodations to their needs — something that should be true irrespective of your or their race, religion, creed, national origin, sex, sexual preferences, etc.

Identity politics devolves into a joke

Here’s a bad, almost cruel, joke, but nevertheless a pointed and important one:

Two men met on the street.  One looked very angry.

“What’s the problem?” asked the first man of his friend.

“I’m r-r-really a-a-ngry,” he stuttered.  “I app-ap-applied for a j-j-job as an an-an-announcer at the-the-the r-r-r-radio s-s-station and they t-t-turned me-me-me d-d-d-own.”

This statement was followed by a long pause, after which the stutter reached his own conclusions about what had happened:

“D-d-d-damned an-an-antisemites!”

With this joke in mind, please read Dennis Prager’s column today.  He talks about the racial identity politics that led to Biden’s presence at the WH beerfest.  Contrary to what you and I might have thought (I thought that the ever congenial Joe wasn’t going to be left out of a party), his presence there was a deliberate effort to ensure that the white guy (Crowley) was not unbalanced photographically by two black guys.  Joe was a prop.  (As an aside, that’s probably Joe’s best role.)

From there, Prager riffs into the liberal obsession with prejudice that it believes permeates every aspect of American.  He then relates an anecdote he tells black callers who assure him that chronic racism exists, yet are unable to provide examples of its appearance in their own lives.  Prager’s true story uncannily tracks my 50 year old joke:

Years ago driving home from synagogue, both my sons and I were wearing yarmulkes, or skull caps. A convertible car filled with young boys sped past me and yelled into the car “F— you” and called my wife a “b—ch.”

I then said to my family, “I have finally experienced anti-Semitism in America.”

I decided to follow the car and, to my shock, they screamed the same obscenities at other cars, none of whose occupants were discernibly Jewish.

It turned out that the event was not what I was certain, and had every reason to believe, was an example of anti-Semitism, but just an example of young thugs acting thuggish.

So here’s the teachable moment: Harvard historian Louis Gates talked back to a police officer because he was treated as a suspect when he felt he should not be, given his fame as a Harvard professor. The professor was certain that the only possible explanation for such treatment was that he, Gates, was a black and the officer just another racist white policeman. The professor was wrong. The president was wrong. The press is wrong. Liberals are wrong. Even most blacks are wrong.

Willie Brown on the Gates kerfuffle

Willie Brown is one of the smartest politicians out there.  He’s been in the business since the 1960s and, not coincidentally, has broken a whole lot of color barriers.  While he is a die-hard Democrat, he’s also nobody’s fool.  Here’s his take on the Gates kerfuffle.

America got a good look at the Chicago side of Barack Obama last week, and boy did it set off fireworks.

I don’t want to second-guess Obama, and Lord knows I’m not one to criticize someone for shooting from the lip. But I think saying that the white cop in Cambridge, Mass., who arrested Harvard black studies scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. “acted stupidly” was a bit over the top.

Normally, the president is far more diplomatic than that. But in this case, Obama was outraged that Gates was treated as a suspected criminal at his own home, and diplomacy went right out the window.

I know Skip Gates well. He’s a small person physically, less than 150 pounds wet, but he is very big when it comes to militancy.

For many years, Gates has been one of the strongest academic voices on the black experience in this country. But, like many academics, Skip may not have had a lot of personal experience when it comes to dealing with cops.

Now he can write about the subject forever, having met up with them full force in his own living room.

I have no doubt that he used his intellect to humiliate the hell out of that cop.

The only thing that surprised me about the incident was that he didn’t have a video camera going.

I agree completely with the way in which Brown characterizes Gates’ response as a combination of ingrained identity politics militancy and academic arrogance. The same is true, of course, of Obama’s response, although Brown is too tactful (deferential?) to say so.

The easy attack on the 32 words

You can’t read a blog, attend a press conference, read a paper, or even think about Sotomayor without those 32 words popping into your head:

“I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”

Because the remark makes statements about people based on their race and sex, many have reached the obvious conclusion that Sotomayor was being racist and sexist.  Democratic partisans have rushed to her defense by contending that only racists and sexists would find a remark defining people by race and attribute to be, in fact, racist and sexist.  (Clearly, these people have been studying at the Humpty Dumpty school of English:  `When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’)

But isn’t there a much more obvious, less racially and sexually charged way to read that language, and one that reflects equally poorly on Sotomayor?  Let’s look at the context of her 32 words, as Jake Tapper did:

The larger context of the sentence is Sotomayor addressing former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s famous quote that “a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases.”

“I am also not so sure that I agree with the statement,” Sotomayor says. “First, as Professor Martha Minnow has noted, there can never be a universal definition of wise. Second, I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”

“Let us not forget that wise men like Oliver Wendell Holmes and Justice Cardozo voted on cases which upheld both sex and race discrimination in our society,” she said. “Until 1972, no Supreme Court case ever upheld the claim of a woman in a gender discrimination case. I, like Professor Carter, believe that we should not be so myopic as to believe that others of different experiences or backgrounds are incapable of understanding the values and needs of people from a different group. Many are so capable. As Judge Cedarbaum pointed out to me, nine white men on the Supreme Court in the past have done so on many occasions and on many issues including Brown.”

“However, to understand takes time and effort, something that not all people are willing to give,” she continued. “For others, their experiences limit their ability to understand the experiences of others. Other simply do not care. Hence, one must accept the proposition that a difference there will be by the presence of women and people of color on the bench. Personal experiences affect the facts that judges choose to see. My hope is that I will take the good from my experiences and extrapolate them further into areas with which I am unfamiliar. I simply do not know exactly what that difference will be in my judging. But I accept there will be some based on my gender and my Latina heritage.”

She went on to say that “each day on the bench I learn something new about the judicial process and about being a professional Latina woman in a world that sometimes looks at me with suspicion. I am reminded each day that I render decisions that affect people concretely and that I owe them constant and complete vigilance in checking my assumptions, presumptions and perspectives and ensuring that to the extent that my limited abilities and capabilities permit me, that I reevaluate them and change as circumstances and cases before me requires. I can and do aspire to be greater than the sum total of my experiences but I accept my limitations. I willingly accept that we who judge must not deny the differences resulting from experience and heritage but attempt, as the Supreme Court suggests, continuously to judge when those opinions, sympathies and prejudices are appropriate.”

As you can see, the starting point for this discussion was O’Connor’s race and sex blind statement that “a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases.”  (One could argue that this is ageist but, considering that we all hope to attain some degree of age, it’s hard to put a lot of weight behind that argument.)

Sotomayor’s approach to challenging this argument was to wander a little bit through selective judicial  history, and then to launch into discussion about her own race and sex, and her own life and experiences.  Her reference to that incredibly wise Latina woman must be seen in that context.  I’m therefore willing to bet that Sotomayor had not a thought in her head for the Latina saleswoman working in Macys, scrubbing someone’s floors, or doing duty as middle level management in a major American corporation.  This is all about Sotomayor.  In her estimation, she is that wise Latina woman.

In other words, Sotomayor has stumbled across the ultimate in identity politics:  she’s put herself into a victim class of ONE — herself.

As for me, the thought of having someone so self-centered sit in judgment on my case, or on legal issues that will affect me, is terrifying — almost more terrifying than if she was the racist and sexist her detractors claim her to be.

Do we dare vote against the first Hispanic justice? *UPDATE*

I keep seeing headlines all over the place to the effect that Republican Senators will be afraid to vote against the first proposed Hispanic justice.  This may certainly be true for Senators, who are a weaselly, unprincipled bunch, I suspect, though, that for many voters Obama himself is causing the bloom to depart the identity politics rose.

I believe that many voters rushed to the polls to vote for Obama because they were caught up in the rapture of a historic first:  “The first black President.”  These moments are exciting.  Heck, I desperately wanted Michael Phelps to be the first person to get 10 gold medals in one Olympics.  I’d never heard of Phelps a few months before and suddenly, there I was, screaming hysterically in front of my TV.

In the political arena, the November rapture is now over, and the first black President is proving to be something of a problem.  In national security ways, he’s following the path of the last white president (and, for that, I am grateful).  In other ways, he’s proving to be indecisive, ineffectual, and suspiciously corrupt.  In other words, not withstanding his exciting skin color, he’s just your usual unprepared, inexperienced, Leftist, Chicago-style political hack.

Obama, therefore, is an object lesson in the superficiality of identity politics.  The fact that someone is the right color for the job doesn’t mean that he’s the right person for the job.  Voters — including Hispanic voters who trend conservative on social issues — may finally be willing to look at the candidate and not the color.

UPDATEThe Anchoress has a good post on the reality of how that race/identity card works.

The inevitable result of identity politics

Identity politics turns people into one dimensional characters, who must act out a set script.  If you’re black or Hispanic, you must be a Democrat, even if you oppose abortion, take a jaundiced view of gay marriage, and want school choice.  If you’re a woman, you must support equal pay for comparable work, even if that will destroy the economy and dramatically lessen the total number of jobs available.  If you’re a white male, you must be the epitome of all things regressive and evil.  Oh, and if you’re gay, you cannot be a principled conservative and must, instead, be humiliated and destroyed:

California GOP Rep. David Dreier and a number of other politicians are the unwilling stars of a controversial new documentary with an explosive premise – it’s time to blow open the closet door on prominent politicians who have hidden their homosexuality while actively working against gay causes.

The film “Outrage,” which opens today at the Embarcadero Center Cinema in San Francisco, presents interviews and documentation charging that a number of prominent legislators – including Dreier, the U.S. representative from San Dimas (Los Angeles County), GOPFlorida Gov. Charlie Crist and former Democratic New York Mayor Ed Koch – have remained closeted while publicly opposing legislation on issues such as same-sex marriage, HIV/AIDS funding, and gays in the military.

Liberals frequently confuse their compulsive need to typecast with hypocrisy.  Let me set the record straight.  Hypocrisy means to advocate one course of conduct or belief for others (usually with a sacrifice to them), while espousing another for yourself (usually to your benefit).

Thus, it’s hypocrisy when Al Gore goes around demanding that we all drive in cars made out of tissue paper, and live in houses that are freezing cold in winter and furnace hot in summer, all the time driving himself in a safe and comfortable SUV, and living in a series of energy-hog mansions.  It’s hypocrisy when Michael Moore demands that we all divest from Halliburton, but invests in it himself.  It’s out and out lying when Bill Clinton says “I did not have sex with that woman” or John Edwards assures the American people he never had an affair.

It is neither hypocrisy or lying, however, when gay men and women have a principled opposition to same-sex marriage, HIV/AIDS funding or gays in the military.  These same gay people, after all, are not being accused of sneaking off to Holland to get married, while denying those rights to American gays; of funneling money to those of their friends ill with HIV/AIDS while denying it to others; or whatever would be hypocritical behavior with regard to gays in the military.

Without any hypocrisy, it is perfectly possible to be gay, but believe that marriage is a specific institution unique to men and women.  You can hold to that position and still colorably demand full civil rights for gay unions that are then recognized nationwide.  Likewise, without hypocrisy, you can be gay, but recognize that cancer or heart disease or some other disease deserves equal access, not just to funding, but to fund raising.  And of course, you can be gay and believe that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is a workable compromise that allows gays to serve in the military without offending the heterosexual sensibilities that currently prevail in “this man’s Army” — all without being a hypocrite who voices one view and acts upon another.

The film “Outrage,” however, typecasts gays, and denies them the right to examine issues through a lens other than their own sexuality.  I say this without knowing or caring whether the men and women named in the movie are actually gay.  What I care about, deeply, is the pressure the gay community imposes upon its members to abjure independent thought, and to march lockstep through a series of complicated and contentious issues.

For a community that, a mere 40 years ago, broke free of the shackles imposed against it, it’s a real tragedy that it now insists upon imposing similar shackles upon itself.

Enjoying Blago

Is it only me, or is there a wonderful lunatic charm to Blago?  I adored the way in which he appointed a megalomaniac black man to the Senate, forcing Reid either to seat someone he normally wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole, or risk opprobrium as a racist.  Likewise, I really enjoyed Blago’s press conference today, in which he asserted his white knight status (and that despite the audio tapes), all the while castigating everyone else in Illinois politics.  If he’s going down, he’s going to take everyone with him — and since I have little respect for the Chicago political machine, including our president-to-be, I’m enjoying the spectacle tremendously.

Speaking of race relations, you may or may not have heard that, two nights ago, there was a big race riot in Oakland, California, stemming from the fact that a black man was shot to death by a policeman working for the Bay Area Rapid Transit district.  The real tragedy appears to be that the policeman simply got left and right hand confused.  He had a taser on one side of his belt and a gun on the other.  In the adrenalin rush of taking down a bad guy, he meant to tase and ended up shooting.  As someone who periodically puts dirty plates in the refrigerator and food in the dishwasher, I completely understand how those circuits can be crossed.

Accidental shooting or not, the grievance mongers were out in force in Oakland on Wednesday night, in full fledged riot mode.  What I found naively charming about the whole thing was that, this morning, Mr. Bookworm expressed surprise to me about the riot:  “I thought that, with Obama as the incoming president, we wouldn’t have these race riots any more.”  Yet another bill of goods the Democrats sold the voters, right?  Of course, you and I knew all along that the grievance mongers have too much invested in the anger of identity politics to give it up just because a vaguely black man got placed above his pay grade in the White House.

Identity politics run amok *UPDATED*

I hate identity politics.

I hate the fact that currently powerful identity groups are lining up to tap into the goods flowing from the Obama administration.

I hate the fact that Jews fail to recognize that there is a delightful secular element to American Christmas and that their little dears are not going to be psychologically scarred forever if they sing “Rudolph” or even, God forbid, “Joy to the World.”

I hate the fact that gay activists are driving a little old lady to a nervous breakdown (and destroying a thriving business during a recession) because the lady believes in traditional marriage.

I hate the fact that Barack Obama is going to allow more black and Hispanic wolves to victimize black and Hispanic sheep (who are those wolves’ primary targets) by trying to impose unnautral constraints on the criminal justice system.

And as you know, I hate the fact that Americans, in their constant selfish search for warm and tingly feelings in their own psyches, elected a know-nothing just to feel proud about voting for a black person.

Everyone member of those smug self-interest groups should be required to read Dennis Prager’s latest post, asking them to stop with the unbridled self-esteem, and to start feeling a little bit of shame about the frequent excesses their identity peers commit.  As for me, I’d remind them that identity politics become meaningless when societal cohesion has collapsed entirely and anarchy reigns supreme.

UPDATE:  Because it seems to fit in well here, I offer you the Young America’s Foundation’s 2008 top ten list of free speech infringements on college campuses, many of which pivot on identity politics.

Some uncomfortable watching

I’ve said before that I am not a racist — I’m a classist or values-ist.  Always have been.  I don’t care about your external color or sexuality or whatever; I do care about the beliefs you bring to the table.

What this means is that I’m pretty hostile to identity politics.  I never felt compelled to like Hillary just because she and I are both female; and I admire Joe Lieberman, although not always his political positions, because he’s a brave man, not because he’s a Jew (although I think it’s nice that he’s a brave Jew).  I definitely associate with my Jewishness when I feel people are under attack merely for being Jewish, which is the Holocaust all over again, but that’s entirely different from giving someone a pass just because he or she is a Jew.

And as I explained to my children, one doesn’t vote for Obama just because he’s black, which is as racist as voting against Obama just because he’s black.

All of this is a lead-in to a very uncomfortable video that’s making the rounds.  I caught it on both American Thinker and Wizbang (which also has a chart showing how many Democrats benefited from Fannie and Freddie).  Here’s the video.  It’s long, fascinating, boring and important:

There are two take away messages.  The first we already know:  Republicans were trying back in 2004 to reform Fannie and Freddie, with some of them accurately predicting precisely what started happening last year, with the subprime meltdown, and this year, with the bank implosions; and Democrats were blocking these efforts.

The second take away is a new message and a very disturbing one.  While it’s true that the video seems cut to highlight the point, it is still plain that black House members rallied around Fannie and Freddie because Franklin Raines is black.  They were protecting one of their own and to Hell with the nation.  That’s a peculiar kind of 21st Century identity politics that I find horrifying and that, for America, proved to be devastating.

Bitterness and anti-immigrant attitudes

It turns out that Barack Obama might have been on to something with his bitterness speech. In case you’ve forgotten, he said:

You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, a lot of them — like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And they’ve gone through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. So it’s not surprising then that they get bitter, and they cling to guns, or religion, or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them, or anti-immigrant sentiment, or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

Where Obama got it wrong was that he focused on the wrong bitter people.  Down in Los Angeles, in the gun-ridden, crime-ridden, gang-ridden communities that taught that sprawling City, people are indeed getting increasingly bitter, although it’s a liberal government’s refusal to enforce the law that’s raising their ire:

When Jamiel Shaw Sr. stood up last week to call for a change in Special Order 40, it touched an already raw nerve in the black community. Shaw’s son, 17-year-old star football player Jamiel Shaw II, was gunned down within shouting distance of his house. The suspect, 19-year-old Pedro Espinoza, is an alleged gang member and an illegal immigrant. Special Order 40 has prevented law enforcement from probing the immigration status of some suspects and deporting criminals with dispatch. Even if Special Order 40 were modified, there’s no guarantee that Jamiel would still be alive, but to a community convinced that Latino-on-black racial violence is on the upswing, it’s still a matter of simple justice.

And that’s true despite the statistics Police Chief William Bratton (seconded by the Los Angeles Times) piled on the public table in recent weeks, numbers that back up the claim that, with the exception of young Shaw and a handful of other cases, the majority of the killings of blacks are by other blacks, not Latinos. That won’t ease black fears that some Latino gangs are bent on wiping them out.

The author of the above op-ed goes on to say that African-Americans are right to feel that this is all a racist thing, with the Hispanics trying to kill them because they’re black and the City government ignoring them because they’re black.  As to the first point, when one considers that gang warfare has been a fixture of American urban life practically since there were American urbs, I doubt that’s the case.  That is, the Hispanic gang members are gunning blacks down, not because they’re black, but simply because they’re the other gang, and this is a pure turf battle.

I also doubt that there is racism in the City’s response.  Instead, I suspect the City’s unwillingness to acknowledge black concerns this has more to do with a City wedded to a stupid liberal policy that makes it a haven for illegal immigrants (because liberals know that “no person is illegal.”)  To me, this snotty liberal attitude is evidenced by the fact that Bratton assured blacks that the policy is not a problem, since blacks are killing each other faster than Hispanics can.  In other words, what you’re seeing here isn’t racism run amok; it’s liberal politics and identity politics run amok.

In any event, I think the African-Americans in LA have the perfect right to be bitter that the City of Los Angeles does nothing about an influx of criminals into their communities, criminals who should be deported instantly before they get guns in their hands and victims in their sights.

The racial candidate

At American Thinker, James Edmund Pennington definitively explodes the myth that Obama is a “post-racial” candidate. In other words, Geraldine Ferraro had it absolutely right when she said, without any of Pennington’s careful analysis, that Obama ascended as quickly as he did solely because of his race. And as Pennington points out, that ascension must now be enshrined, solely because of his race:

The current agony of the Democratic Party, which grows more acute every day, is laden with an unspoken truth. As the unending Clinton-Obama struggle drags on, the core unutterable reality for Democrats is simply this: because of the composition of the Party’s domestic coalition, its continued electoral viability makes absolutely necessary perpetual capture of 90+% of the black vote.

Because of this grim fact — of the Party’s own making — the Clinton/Obama fight is over. Obama has won, and every leading Democrat knows it. In short, because of his race, Obama must be awarded the Democratic nomination. So much for the myth of America’s first major post-racial candidate.

Under no reasonably foreseeable set of future developments, including the possibility Obama’s exposure as a fatally compromised candidate, can Obama be denied the nomination. Doing so would subject the Democratic Party to the unacceptable risk that it would alienate its most dependably monolithic voter bloc. Hence, the daily gnashing of teeth by Party elders and the demand, which grows more hysterical each day, that Clinton concede a contest that at present is nothing more than a hard fought stalemate.

Without keeping focused on the Democrats’ self-chosen demographic cul-de-sac, the growing demands for Clinton’s withdrawal would be inexplicable, indeed, outrageous.

You can read the rest — and you’ll be happy you did — here.

The reductio ad absurdum of identity politics

What do you do when the person who matches you in the external identity calculus — say, she’s a woman and you’re a woman — proves not to be the women’s champion you hoped? Even worse, what do you do when the person who is the champion you hoped, doesn’t match you in external identity — for example, he’s male and you’re female? Turns out there’s a very simple answer: You redefine the identity of the person who matches your political goals. That’s what a PBS show host has done, after finding Hillary a disappointment.

Young women have rushed to latch onto Obama’s comet coattails. A friend of mine who is fundraising mightily for him says “Obama is a woman” because he’s more pro-choice than Clinton. After all, on that most stereotypical of women’s issues, Clinton refers to the “tragedy of abortion.” She loses progressives as she attempts to navigate the non-existent common ground on this most divisive of issues. Obama, on the other hand, talks about the tragedy of unwanted pregnancies. In what seems to be the sunset of the era of the religious right, that’s quite the courageous stand to take.

If Clinton loses the nomination, do women lose? Rights? Power? Visibility? Clout? Are they not taken as seriously by the political establishment? A month ago I would have told you yes. Now I believe the answer is no. Why? Because metrosexual, pro-choice, pro-health care, anti-poverty Obama is, in every political sense at least, more of a woman than Clinton. (Emphasis mine.)

I hope you got all that. Women were supposed to vote for Clinton because Clinton is a woman. Now that Clinton is failing (and flailing), the question for them is how they can justify taking their vote from her. A little abracadabra and the answer presents itself: Women declare that the next best candidate, all external and biological signs to the contrary, is in fact a woman. It is to laugh, as a friend of mine would say, but for the fact that the consequences of this type of insane “political” analysis have the potential to be so deadly serious for us all.

Hat tip: American Thinker

But we stood by them in Selma!

My post title imagines what I bet a lot of the older generation of Jewish Americans will think when they learn about the latest campaign tactics from the party that knows how to do identity politics. Steve Cohen, whose name is a giveaway as to his Jewishness, is running for reelection in Tennessee’s 9th District. His opponent is Nikki Tinker, whose name is not a dead giveaway but who is in fact black. An African-American minister who does not reside in the 9th District has decided to become involved in the campaign. Here’s his campaign poster, a copy of which ended up mailed to Cohen himself:

Truly, I don’t think either Hitler or Torquemada or the Mufti of Jerusalem or Father Coughlin could have done any better than that in terms of sheer, old-fashioned appeals to antisemitism as a way to manipulate the masses. It is a disgusting piece of work. More than that, Tinker, who is clearly no belle, isn’t lifting a finger to disassociate herself from this vile garbage:

What does Nikki Tinker think about anti-Semitic literature being circulated that might help her unseat 9th District Congressman Steve Cohen in the Democratic primary next August?

A fair question, which Tinker declined to answer this week after a flier stating that “Steve Cohen and the Jews Hate Jesus” began circulating in Memphis.

The question goes to the character of the woman who wants to represent the 9th District, and 9th District voters deserve an answer. But Tinker declined to return a phone call about the flier.

“Of course we wouldn’t have anything to do with that,” said Tinker spokesman Cornell Belcher, referring to a flier that has been denounced by the Anti-Defamation League.

” … We’d be interested in denouncing this sort of nonsense as well but, again, we haven’t seen it.”

That’s a great excuse, isn’t it? “I can’t comment on antisemitism as a tool in the political race because I haven’t actually touched the piece of paper on which the antisemitic sentiments are written.” Clearly, this is a woman who takes personal responsibility seriously (and that was meant to be snide, not straight).

This same editorial notes that this is not the first time that Cohen’s not-blackness has been used against him, although it is the first time the antisemitic card has been played in this way:

Inciting tension between African-Americans and Cohen was the aim of several members of the Black Baptist Ministerial Association who took Cohen to task last summer for his support of federal hate crimes legislation. The real motive behind the attack was revealed in later comments by at least one of those involved.

“He’s not black,” said Rev. Robert Poindexter of Mt. Moriah Baptist Church, “and he can’t represent me, that’s just the bottom line.”

My first thought when reading this, which is reflected in my post’s title, is that when I was growing up, Jews took very personally the antisemitic sentiments that, I am sorry to say, have long permeated large segments of the African-American community. And they take it very personally for a specific reason, and it’s not because all of us (blacks and Jews alike) are minorities together. It’s because Jews feel that, when blacks began to agitate against Jim Crow, once one got outside of the black Christian communities, it was Jews who took up that banner just about as aggressively as anyone could. Jews threw themselves into the Civil Rights movement and it pains them beyond belief that those whom they view as the beneficiaries of their efforts and sacrifices have turned on them in such an exceptionally nasty way.

Aside from being visible evidence of the black/Jewish schism in American, one that continues to mystify Jews, the flyer also shows the reductio ad absurdem of identity politics. Although we do not live in a theocracy or a race-ocracy, that’s precisely how this Democratic race is being played out. If you’re black, don’t bother your pretty little head with difficult thoughts about Tinker’s politics, beliefs and capabilities, as opposed to Cohen’s. Instead, rest easy and vote for Tinker because she’s black and Christian and against Cohen because he’s white and Jewish.

This type of electioneering tactic is not only disgusting, it’s demeaning to the African-Americans who are the intended recipients of this type of garbage, since it circumvents any appeals to their higher reasoning. It’s also unsurprising and, in that regard, the Captain sums it up about as well as can be said:

Once again, the Democrats find themselves in the position of playing racial, ethnic, and now anti-Semitic politics. We have seen it at the grassroots level now, and at the highest levels of the party, especially from the Clinton campaign. Small wonder that a relatively low-level officeseeker feels comfortable in using these tactics in 2008, given the example Bill Clinton has provided already this year.

We’ve [meaning “conservatives” listened to insults from Democrats for years for far less than this.

What I have to say is that, if you select chickens solely by the color of their feathers, and without regard to their egg-laying capabilities, when those chickens come home to roost, you’re going to end up with a visually impressive coop that produces nothing but chicken poop.

Philip’s Complaint, or Liberal political thinking in a nutshell

I’ve never been able to read Philip Roth’s novels because I cannot stand his navel gazing (or should I say penis-gazing?) characters. They are, for me, profoundly uninteresting — I find them infantile and narcissistic in their concerns. Perhaps my the problem with his writing is his thinking. Why do I say this? Because Roth unloads about politics in Spiegel interview, and pretty much highlights everything that’s infantile and narcissistic about liberal thinking with regard to the Bush administration and the upcoming elections:

Roth: Unfortunately, yeah. I didn’t, until about two weeks ago — until then it wasn’t real. Then I watched the New Hampshire primary debates, and the Republicans are so unbelievably impossible. I watched the Democratic ones and became interested in Obama. I think I’ll vote for him.

SPIEGEL: What made you interested in Obama?

Roth: I’m interested in the fact that he’s black. I feel the race issue in this country is more important than the feminist issue. I think that the importance to blacks would be tremendous. He’s an attractive man, he’s smart, he happens to be tremendously articulate. His position in the Democratic Party is more or less okay with me. And I think it would be important to American blacks if he became president.

SPIEGEL: It could change society, couldn’t it?

Roth: Yes, it could. It would say something about this country, and it would be a marvelous thing. I don’t know whether it’s going to happen. I rarely vote for anybody who wins. It’s going to be the kiss of death if you write in your magazine that I’m going to vote for Barack Obama. Then he’s finished!

[snip]

SPIEGEL: Do you actually believe that Obama could change Washington or could change politics?

Roth: I’m interested in what merely his presence would be. You know, who he is, where he comes from, that is the change. That is the same thing with Hillary Clinton, just who she is would create a gigantic change. As for all that other rhetoric about change, change, change — it’s pure semantics, it doesn’t mean a thing. They’ll respond to particular situations as they arise.

You got that? Republicans should lose because they’re “so unbelievably impossible,” as fatuous a statement about national politics as I’ve ever heard. And Obama should win solely because he’s black and “articulate,” the favorite liberal code word for a black who isn’t an embarrassing representative of his race. Incidentally, my last, italicized phrase is deliberate, and harks back to the acceptance speech Hattie McDaniel made, at the studio’s urging, when she accepted her Oscar for her performance in Gone With The Wind, the first Oscar ever awarded to a black actress:

“Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, fellow members of the motion picture industry and honored guests: This is one of the happiest moments of my life, and I want to thank each one of you who had a part in selecting for one of the awards, for your kindness. It has made me feel very, very humble; and I shall always hold it as a beacon for anything that I may be able to do in the future. I sincerely hope I shall always be a credit to my race and to the motion picture industry. My heart is too full to tell you just how I feel, and may I say thank you and God bless you.” (Emphasis mine.)

You do appreciate, don’t you, the fact that Roth is completely uninterested in Obama’s abilities, background, politic beliefs, political experience, associates, ideology, indeed anything of substance? All that matters to Roth is that Obama is a credit to his race. How utterly embarrassing that our great tradition of democracy should be reduced to this kind of inane banality.

That same absence of deep thinking colors Roth’s commentary about Bush. Keep in mind that Roth, via his “profound” (but humorous) books, is considered one of the great social thinkers of the Baby Boomer generation. That “intellectualism,” however, assuming it actually exists, abandons him when it comes to describing why Bush is bad. He throws in a few conclusory statements about the war and global warming, but he just can’t get a handle on substance. (As an aside, we’ll assume, just to be nice, that this interview was recorded before recent news that the Greenies’ purported remedies are actually speeding global warming. Of course, that may not be a problem, because we’re possibly entering a period of solar induced global cooling. But let me undigress.) What you really have to do is just take Roth’s word for it that Bush is bad, really, really, really bad. Really bad.

SPIEGEL: What will remain of the current president, George W. Bush? Could he be forgotten once he leaves office?

Roth: He was too horrendous to be forgotten. There will be an awful lot written about this. And there’s a lot to be written about the war. There’s a lot to be written about what he did with Reaganism, since he went much further than Reagan. So he won’t be forgotten. Someone has said he’s the worst American president we’ve ever had. I think that’s true.

SPIEGEL: Why?

Roth: Well, the biggest thing would be the war, the deceptions surrounding the entrance into the war. The absolute cynicism that surrounds the deception. The cost of the war, the Treasury and the lives of the Americans. It’s hideous. There is nothing quite like it. The next thing would be the attitude towards global warming, which is a global crisis, and they were utterly indifferent, if not hostile, to any attempt to address it. And so on and so on and so on and so on. So he’s done a lot of harm.

Of course, it’s not all Bush’s fault he’s so appalling. It’s your fault and my fault too. That’s because we’re brutal. Did you know that?

SPIEGEL: Since your book is set in that week during the 2004 elections, can you explain why Americans voted for Bush once again?

Roth: I suspect it was the business of being in a war and not wanting to change, and political stupidity. Why does anybody elect anybody? I thought highly of John Kerry when he began, but he couldn’t stand up against Bush. The Democrats aren’t brutes, which is too bad, because the Republicans are brutes. Brutes win.

Funnily enough, a lot of the brutal behavior, lately, seems to be coming from the rank and file Democrats, not the Republicans. An easy example is the fact that Democratic speakers on the circuit don’t need to hire bodyguards. Republicans do. That’s because Republicans get physicall attacked when they speak on college campuses. Ann Coulter was attacked. College Republican student organizations are attacked. Condi Rice was threatened by a Code Pink loony tunes who got within inches of her. The list goes on and on and on. You can add your own, but you’ll be hard put to find corollaries on the other side; that is, conservatives attacking liberals. But back to Roth….

“Brutes.” “Hideous.” “There is nothing quite like it.” This man, this spokesman for a generation, clearly hasn’t thought beyond the Democratic parties’ last list of talking points. He’s got all the nasty conclusions of the kindergarten set, but with a more sophisticated vocabulary:

“Mommy, I hate Tommy.”

“Why, darling?”

“Because he’s a meanie.”

“But what makes him a meanie?”

“He does mean things.”

“What mean things does he do, darling?”

“He’s mean to me.”

And so on, ad nauseum. It’s tolerable in a child because you know they’ll attain reason and leave that phrase behind. It’s intolerable in a literary lion, a spokesman for his generation, who has never been able to emerge from his prolonged and clearly debilitating adolescence.

I’ve vented my spleen, so I’m going to leave the last words to that great philosopher, Bugs Bunny: “What a maroon. What a nincowpoop.”

UPDATE:  Just to keep things on the up and up, I edited the first paragraph to reflect some accurate criticism a reader made in a comment at my old blog site, regarding an ambiguity in my writing.

Philip’s Complaint, or Liberal political thinking in a nutshell

I’ve never been able to read Philip Roth’s novels because I cannot stand his navel gazing (or should I say penis-gazing?) characters. They are, for me, profoundly uninteresting — I find them infantile and narcissistic in their concerns. Perhaps my the problem with his writing is his thinking. Why do I say this? Because Roth unloads about politics in Spiegel interview, and pretty much highlights everything that’s infantile and narcissistic about liberal thinking with regard to the Bush administration and the upcoming elections:

Roth: Unfortunately, yeah. I didn’t, until about two weeks ago — until then it wasn’t real. Then I watched the New Hampshire primary debates, and the Republicans are so unbelievably impossible. I watched the Democratic ones and became interested in Obama. I think I’ll vote for him.

SPIEGEL: What made you interested in Obama?

Roth: I’m interested in the fact that he’s black. I feel the race issue in this country is more important than the feminist issue. I think that the importance to blacks would be tremendous. He’s an attractive man, he’s smart, he happens to be tremendously articulate. His position in the Democratic Party is more or less okay with me. And I think it would be important to American blacks if he became president.

SPIEGEL: It could change society, couldn’t it?

Roth: Yes, it could. It would say something about this country, and it would be a marvelous thing. I don’t know whether it’s going to happen. I rarely vote for anybody who wins. It’s going to be the kiss of death if you write in your magazine that I’m going to vote for Barack Obama. Then he’s finished!

[snip]

SPIEGEL: Do you actually believe that Obama could change Washington or could change politics?

Roth: I’m interested in what merely his presence would be. You know, who he is, where he comes from, that is the change. That is the same thing with Hillary Clinton, just who she is would create a gigantic change. As for all that other rhetoric about change, change, change — it’s pure semantics, it doesn’t mean a thing. They’ll respond to particular situations as they arise.

You got that? Republicans should lose because they’re “so unbelievably impossible,” as fatuous a statement about national politics as I’ve ever heard. And Obama should win solely because he’s black and “articulate,” the favorite liberal code word for a black who isn’t an embarrassing representative of his race. Incidentally, my last, italicized phrase is deliberate, and harks back to the acceptance speech Hattie McDaniel made, at the studio’s urging, when she accepted her Oscar for her performance in Gone With The Wind, the first Oscar ever awarded to a black actress:

“Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, fellow members of the motion picture industry and honored guests: This is one of the happiest moments of my life, and I want to thank each one of you who had a part in selecting for one of the awards, for your kindness. It has made me feel very, very humble; and I shall always hold it as a beacon for anything that I may be able to do in the future. I sincerely hope I shall always be a credit to my race and to the motion picture industry. My heart is too full to tell you just how I feel, and may I say thank you and God bless you.” (Emphasis mine.)

You do appreciate, don’t you, the fact that Roth is completely uninterested in Obama’s abilities, background, politic beliefs, political experience, associates, ideology, indeed anything of substance? All that matters to Roth is that Obama is a credit to his race. How utterly embarrassing that our great tradition of democracy should be reduced to this kind of inane banality.

That same absence of deep thinking colors Roth’s commentary about Bush. Keep in mind that Roth, via his “profound” (but humorous) books, is considered one of the great social thinkers of the Baby Boomer generation. That “intellectualism,” however, assuming it actually exists, abandons him when it comes to describing why Bush is bad. He throws in a few conclusory statements about the war and global warming, but he just can’t get a handle on substance. (As an aside, we’ll assume, just to be nice, that this interview was recorded before recent news that the Greenies’ purported remedies are actually speeding global warming. Of course, that may not be a problem, because we’re possibly entering a period of solar induced global cooling. But let me undigress.) What you really have to do is just take Roth’s word for it that Bush is bad, really, really, really bad. Really bad.

SPIEGEL: What will remain of the current president, George W. Bush? Could he be forgotten once he leaves office?

Roth: He was too horrendous to be forgotten. There will be an awful lot written about this. And there’s a lot to be written about the war. There’s a lot to be written about what he did with Reaganism, since he went much further than Reagan. So he won’t be forgotten. Someone has said he’s the worst American president we’ve ever had. I think that’s true.

SPIEGEL: Why?

Roth: Well, the biggest thing would be the war, the deceptions surrounding the entrance into the war. The absolute cynicism that surrounds the deception. The cost of the war, the Treasury and the lives of the Americans. It’s hideous. There is nothing quite like it. The next thing would be the attitude towards global warming, which is a global crisis, and they were utterly indifferent, if not hostile, to any attempt to address it. And so on and so on and so on and so on. So he’s done a lot of harm.

Of course, it’s not all Bush’s fault he’s so appalling. It’s your fault and my fault too. That’s because we’re brutal. Did you know that?

SPIEGEL: Since your book is set in that week during the 2004 elections, can you explain why Americans voted for Bush once again?

Roth: I suspect it was the business of being in a war and not wanting to change, and political stupidity. Why does anybody elect anybody? I thought highly of John Kerry when he began, but he couldn’t stand up against Bush. The Democrats aren’t brutes, which is too bad, because the Republicans are brutes. Brutes win.

Funnily enough, a lot of the brutal behavior, lately, seems to be coming from the rank and file Democrats, not the Republicans. An easy example is the fact that Democratic speakers on the circuit don’t need to hire bodyguards. Republicans do. That’s because Republicans get physicall attacked when they speak on college campuses. Ann Coulter was attacked. College Republican student organizations are attacked. Condi Rice was threatened by a Code Pink loony tunes who got within inches of her. The list goes on and on and on. You can add your own, but you’ll be hard put to find corollaries on the other side; that is, conservatives attacking liberals. But back to Roth….

“Brutes.” “Hideous.” “There is nothing quite like it.” This man, this spokesman for a generation, clearly hasn’t thought beyond the Democratic parties’ last list of talking points. He’s got all the nasty conclusions of the kindergarten set, but with a more sophisticated vocabulary:

“Mommy, I hate Tommy.”

“Why, darling?”

“Because he’s a meanie.”

“But what makes him a meanie?”

“He does mean things.”

“What mean things does he do, darling?”

“He’s mean to me.”

And so on, ad nauseum. It’s tolerable in a child because you know they’ll attain reason and leave that phrase behind. It’s intolerable in a literary lion, a spokesman for his generation, who has never been able to emerge from his prolonged and clearly debilitating adolescence.

I’ve vented my spleen, so I’m going to leave the last words to that great philosopher, Bugs Bunny: “What a maroon. What a nincowpoop.”

UPDATE: I’ve switched to a new server, so you can feel free to look around here or check out my new site, which not only has the old stuff, but also will move forward into the future with all my new material.

UPDATE II:  I rejiggered the first paragraph of this post to reflect a point Boran made which, when I finally understood it, was a good one.

Idle thought about a McCain v. Obama race

John McWhorter, who supports Obama, has pointed out what he sees as a profound problem with the Obama campaign, which is the way identity politics has made it impossible to treat Obama as an adult, rather than a child, for fear of being called “racist”:

Yet there is an element of surprise, a tincture of dismay, in how many view the sliming of Mr. Obama. If Grover Cleveland or John Kerry got slimed, what do you expect? But if Mr. Obama gets slimed, well.

There is a tacit sense that decent people would make an exception for him. Otherwise, why would so many think of it as news that the Clintons or anyone else would get nasty in trying to push past him?

Let’s face facts: People see this commonplace phenomenon as news because of a tacit idea that as a black man, Mr. Obama should be treated with kid gloves.

Lawrence Bobo, professor of sociology at Harvard, gives it away comparing the Clintons’ attacks on Mr. Obama to, specifically, the Willie Horton ad and the 2000 vote count. That is, events traditionally classified as “racist” — as if Republicans have not sought to best Democrats in ways disconnected to race. Upon which the Swift-boat thing is germane. Mr. Bobo appends that to his list, too — but misses that the guiding theme is not racism but hardball.

Welcome to reality: being judged by the content of our character means that we black people will not be exempt from hardball. We should not be seduced by the fantasy that we must pretend to be fragile.

Well, yes. This is what I’ve been saying all along. I recently wrote a post saying that one of my fears about Obama as a candidate is that it would be impossible to run against him in the ordinary rough and tumble way we’ve come to expect in a Democracy. Any negative comment would be deemed “racist,” and the Republican candidates, all carefully groomed and controlled by their handlers, wouldn’t even want to get near that.

It did occur to me, though, that McCain might be the candidate who would stand up to Obama, who would not fear being called a racist. He is a man confident and feisty enough to get into a fight on its merits, and not pull his punches for fear of collateral damage. I don’t know how well those qualities would serve in the increasingly surreal world of the White House, but it might be just what is needed to level the playing field against America’s first black presidential candidate (something that would be more fair to Obama, too, since it would treat him like an adult and not a child or a half wit).

UPDATE: I’ve switched to a new server, so you can feel free to look around here or check out my new site, which not only has the old stuff, but also will move forward into the future with all my new material.

It all depends how you look at it

JL tipped me off to a Time Magazine web page about Super Tuesday which inadvertently distills in a nutshell the difference between how Republicans and Democrats approach the election.  Here is how Time reports the Fox News National Exit Poll results:

GOP Results
Republicans: McCain 40, Romney 36, Huckabee 18
Evangelicals: Huckabee 33, McCain 31, Romney 30
Conservatives: Romney 42, McCain 31, Huckabee 20

Those most concerned about:

Immigration: Romney 48, McCain 25, Huckabee 15
Economy: McCain 40, Romney 32, Huck 18
Iraq:
McCain 51, Romney 20, Huckabee 15

Democrats

Blacks: Obama 81, Clinton 17
Whites: Clinton 50, Obama 44
Hispanics: Clinton 62, Obama 36
White women: Clinton 57, Obama 45
Young whites: Obama 64, Clinton 35

Since I’m a bit slower thinking than JL is, it took me a second to figure out what’s bizarre about that information.  The way Time reports it, the breakdown between the votes on Republican candidates revolved around profound issues affecting American today:  National Security (which is coyly stated merely as “Iraq”), Immigration and the Economy.  Apparently all the Democrats care about, however, is sex and race.

I’m willing to bet that the pollsters didn’t even bother to ask the Democratic voters about substantive issues because the pollsters understand that such voters truly don’t care about those things.  Their Bush Derangement Syndrome, after eating away at them for the last 8 years, will instantly be relieved by Bush’s inevitable and automatic departure from the White House (and inevitably that we can trace back to George Washington, when such concepts were not at all inevitable).  And as to anything else, it seems apparent that, in choosing their candidate, the voters have figured out that the Democratic candidates have indistinguishable political positions, and they’re only fighting about which Democrat will enter the history books as a “first” — that is “the first woman President” or “the first black President.”  I don’t know about you, but I continue to find it terrifying that, in a time of substantial upheaval, both in terms of American security and the American economy, about half the voters couldn’t care less.

Eating our own *UPDATED*

I caught a minute of Mike Gallagher today, and he was talking about the fact that Republicans are more critical of Republican candidates than Democrats are critical of Democratic candidates. It occurred to me that, at least in this election cycle, that may be because there are real, substantive differences between the Republican candidates. We’ve got Ron Paul, who is a pure libertarian and possible white supremacist; John McCain, who is strong on defense, but weak on free speech, and spineless to environmental extremists; Mitt Romney, who has positioned himself as a traditional conservative who is for strong borders, a strong national defense, pro-life, etc., with a sound grasp of economic issues; Mike Huckabee, who is loudly Christian, a social conservative, and a big government liberal; and Rudy Giuliani, who is a social liberal and a hawk. With the exception of Ron Paul, all have had leadership experience, but of a very different type: McCain was in the military; Romney ran businesses and the Massachusetts government; Huckabee governed Arkansas; and Giuliani ran huge criminal prosecutions and New York. So, just as there are differences in their approach to conservative politics (and all are more conservative than not), there are also significant differences in their practical experience. Republicans have a real choice, and real choice begets real debate.

It’s different with the Dems. For one thing, none of them have any managerial experience. They’ve all been Senators, which means working with a group of 99 other people. None have them has taken the lead in the Senate, so they can’t even point to leadership experience in those august chambers. John Edwards has a bit more private sector experience than the other two but I can tell you that even the most successful lawyer cannot be compared to a manager. Managing a case is not the same as manager a system — whether that system is a business or a government. Obama was an academic, which is the antithesis of management, and Hillary was, well, Hillary managed Bill, I guess. They’re all good at manipulating people, Edwards because he’s a trial lawyer, and Obama and Hillary because they’re Alinsky disciples, but that’s not leadership or management. So, they’re pretty much the same looked at from that point of view.

In terms of politics, they’re peas in a pod: they want out of Iraq, they deny that Islamists pose a threat to America, they like open borders, and they want more government involvement in everything (parenting, health care, education, managing people’s money, controlling businesses, etc), which means more taxes on people they decide are “rich.”

The fact that Edwards, Obama and Hillary are virtually indistinguishable on paper may explain why identity politics has become so important. It’s not just Hillary’s dirty politics and it’s not just that the “identity politics” chickens are coming home to roost. The preeminence of racial or sexual identity in this race has become the only way you can tell one Democratic candidate from another. And poor Edwards, distinguished by being white and male, is precluded by political correctness from trumpeting that fact. In other words, identity, by being the only difference between the candidates, is also the only area of debate left for the Democrats. And it’s no surprise that it is in this area — the substance-free area that will have absolutely nothing to do with the way in which a Democrat, if victorious, will govern — that the Democratic debate has become most heated.

So, I guess I’m happy that Republicans are focused on substance, and using their free speech rights to hammer out important issues that will have a lasting effect on America (if a Republican wins). And I’m desperately sad that the cookie-cutter Democrats, in order to have a debate and distinguish themselves in the eyes of the voters, have almost completely backed off from any substantive issues (as to which they have no meaningful differences), and devolved into childish racial and gender name calling. If Americans elect one of them, the Country will deserve what it gets.

UPDATE: Regarding the enthusiasm gap the media professes to find between Dems and Republicans, if one does indeed exist, I suspect that has more to do with the enthusiasm Democratic voters have for a shot at the White House than with anything else. That is, I think that, even more than feeling excitement about their own candidates, Democrats are simply excited about a possible chance to defeat Republicans.

UPDATE II: For another reason why there might be an “enthusiasm gap,” keep in mind that, while Bush’s presidency is almost over, Bush Derangement Syndrome continues in full force. Indeed, with the inevitable end of his presidency drawing near, Bush haters seem to be drawing on after burners for some new energy.

Slogans for Democrats *UPDATED*

Okay, this is my third try at this post, because WordPress has eaten the previous two attempts (which accounts for the low level of blogging this morning).

I was listening to Dennis Prager yesterday, and he was fulminating about the calls for “unity” that are echoing through the Democratic side of the spectrum, especially with reference to Obama. As Prager has pointed out before, and as I have blogged about before, “unity” is Democratic code for “agree with me or else.” There is no evidence that the Democrats have any desire to find common ground, and it’s questionable whether there is common ground on such contentious issues as Iraq and abortion. Likewise, the hope that Democrats will “end dogma” is equally laughable. Do the Dems and their sycophants in the media really want to end all fixed doctrine? Fine, I guess we no longer have to hew to such dogmatic ideas as “all people are created equal,” “equal pay for equal work,” or “no taxation without representation.”

Listening to these vapid platitudes, it occurred to me that I could do better — or come up with something at least as good as what’s currently emanating from the Dems. You too should feel free to join in:

“Now more than ever!”

“Peace through harmony!”

“Prosperity through wealth!”

And as you think about those slogans, take a minute to read this Spiegel article proposing a Clinton-Obama ticket for ’08. The author thinks it would be a fantastic ticket, not because of any harmony of ideas or style, but because it would neatly tag all identity politic demographics. It envisions the perfect election cycle for Democrats, where they don’t have to address the issues at all — they can just stand there and be. (What’s really scary is I heard precisely this idea voiced with great approval at my bus stop a couple of months ago. The neighborhood consensus was that this was a ticket they could go for.)

UPDATE:  And here’s an article that perfectly describes the world behind the Democratic slogans.

When identity politics attack *UPDATED*

Noemie Emery perfectly summarizes the nightmare the Dems have created for themselves:

Sometime back in the 1990s, when the culture wars were the only ones we thought we had going, a cartoon showed three coworkers viewing each other with narrowed and questioning eyes. “Those whites don’t know how to deal with a competent black man,” the black man is thinking. “Those guys don’t know how to deal with a powerful woman,” the woman is thinking. And what could the only white male have been thinking? “They don’t like me. They know that I’m gay.”

So far as we know, there are no gays in the mixture today, but the cartoon nicely captures what the Democrats face as they try to wage a political war in the age of correctness, which is, they are finding, an impossibility. The Democrats are the party of self-conscious inclusion, of identity politics, of sensitivity training, of hate crimes, hate speech, and of rules to control them. A presidential campaign, on the other hand, is nothing but “hate speech,” as opponents dive deep into opposition research, fling charges true, half-true, and simply made up against one another in an attempt to present their rivals as slimy, dishonest, disreputable, dangerous, and possibly the worst human beings who ever drew breath.

This has been true of this country’s politics since at least 1800, when John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were vilified roundly, and has gone on ever since–an accepted and even a much-loved tradition. Until recently, it went on without murmur, as all the main contestants for president were white Anglo-Saxon Protestant males, with the exception of Michael Dukakis and three Roman Catholics, two of whom looked like WASPs. Now, however, in its campaign season from hell, the party of sensitivity has found itself in a head-banging brawl between a black man and white woman, each of them visibly loathing the other, in a situation in which anything said in opposing one of the candidates can be defined as hateful, insensitive, hurtful, demeaning, not to say bigoted, and, worst of all, mean. Looking ahead to the general election, Democrats were prepared to describe any critique made of Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton as an example of the racism and sexism that they like to believe permeates the Republican universe. But this was before their own race became quite so close, and so spirited. They never seem to have stopped to think what might occur if they turned their sensitivity bludgeons against one another. They are now finding out.

You’ll want to read the whole thing, which you can find here.

UPDATE: And here is precisely what Emery and I predicted, which is that the give and take of politics is dead, because you’re not allowed to attack Obama (just as you weren’t allowed to attack Hillary and make her cry):

The bitter back-and-forth between former President Bill Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama has led a prominent black lawmaker to tell the former president Monday to “chill a little bit.”

The two Democratic front-runners, Illinois Sen. Obama and New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, are locked in a battle for the key South Carolina primary this Saturday.

As their campaign sparring continues, the Illinois senator seems to be spending almost as much time responding to Hillary Clinton’s husband as he does to the candidate herself.

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, one of the most powerful African-Americans in Congress, weighed in on the feud Monday, saying it was time for Bill Clinton to watch his words.

Hillary will be a better opponent for the Republican candidate because she is so strident and disliked, it will be okay to attack her in the ordinary rough and tumble of an election. Obama will be a disaster for the Republican candidate, because he’ll be untouchable.

The problem with Obama’s race

The problem with Obama’s race is that you’re not allowed to dislike him simply because you don’t like him. From my point of view, irrespective of skin color, I find Obama boring and platitudinous, I dislike and distrust his friends, I find appalling his lack of practical experience, and I disagree with him from top to bottom when it comes to his political positions. He is, to me, an utterly undesirable candidate. However, in the world of identity politics, all of this is clearly a front for my unspoken racism. It is impossible for those on the Left to believe that, if someone is in a politically correct minority, he can be disliked for reasons other than his minority status. Cynthia Tucker, a liberal columnist, is upfront about this belief:

After a recent column describing Barack Obama as “a presidential candidate who happens to be black — not a black presidential candidate,” I received countless responses from readers, a handful of them odd. That odd handful declared they take no notice of superficial traits such as skin color, and they took me to task for making any reference to Obama’s race.

“I thought of (Obama) as a person. I did not see black or white or Hispanic or that he was a man — I saw a person! If people really, truly want racial equality, then the first step has to be to STOP looking at skin color,” wrote one reader.

“When I look at a person, the last thing I think about is skin color or heritage,” wrote another.

Sorry, but I’m not buying it. While I am sympathetic to any desire to get past dated and useless habits of mind — especially the contentious politics of the color line — that’s just nonsense. None of us, black, white or brown, is colorblind.  (Emphasis mine.)

Sorry, Cynthia, but I’m not buying that. I refuse to be denied the right to dislike someone based upon the content of their character. More to the point, given Obama’s church, his verbal vapidity, and what’s emerging about his somewhat checkered Chicago political past, I’m not even sure precisely how much character the man has. And that is entirely separate, of course, from my disliking his political positions.

Nor do I think I’m deluding myself about my innate racism. The fact is, I’ve never seen Obama speak. I get my news through the written word. Or, if I’m getting my news through the spoken word, I hear it on the radio. I never watch the candidates on TV, ever. That is, my impressions of Obama are purely cerebral. And I still don’t like him.

Hillary, interestingly, doesn’t have quite the same protection Obama does. People have gotten so used over the years to finding her entirely dislikeable that it’s pretty darn hard to attribute negative feelings to her sex, rather than her personality. With Obama, though, we don’t have a past history with him to justify broad dislike. That is, while Obama has a personal history (which I don’t think holds up to scrutiny), there hasn’t been a long-term relationship between the man and the American public that could lay the groundwork for disliking him without a concurrent charge of racism. For example, we don’t hear too many cries of racism if we dislike Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton, both of whom have shown themselves to be completely disreputable personally and politically for too many years to be entirely immune from attack (although we may well be accused of being racists for not supporting their race-based political agenda). That is, most people, left or right, seem to concede that the guys lack broad personal appeal.

It will be interesting, assuming Obama continues in politics for a while (whether as a 2008 presidential candidate or a 2012 candidate), to see if we’re allowed to dislike him without being tarred with the racist brush. It will also be interesting if, God forbid, he wins the 2008 presidential primaries, to see if the press will be able to make itself write anything even slightly negative about him. And considering the horror with which Hillary’s attacks against him are being greeted, will the Republican candidate be able to say anything negative, no matter how substantive, without being tarred with the racist brush?  The one thing I can promise you is that, if Obama loses, it won’t be because he’s boring, antisemitic (or, at least, his friends are), uninformed, unexperienced and a leftist. In the eyes of the MSM, whose opinion will be disseminated around the world, he can lose only because he’s black. And that’s the problem with Obama’s race.

The problem with Obama’s race

The problem with Obama’s race is that you’re not allowed to dislike him simply because you don’t like him. From my point of view, irrespective of skin color, I find Obama boring and platitudinous, I dislike and distrust his friends, I find appalling his lack of practical experience, and I disagree with him from top to bottom when it comes to his political positions. He is, to me, an utterly undesirable candidate. However, in the world of identity politics, all of this is clearly a front for my unspoken racism. It is impossible for those on the Left to believe that, if someone is in a politically correct minority, he can be disliked for reasons other than his minority status. Cynthia Tucker, a liberal columnist, is upfront about this belief:

After a recent column describing Barack Obama as “a presidential candidate who happens to be black — not a black presidential candidate,” I received countless responses from readers, a handful of them odd. That odd handful declared they take no notice of superficial traits such as skin color, and they took me to task for making any reference to Obama’s race.

“I thought of (Obama) as a person. I did not see black or white or Hispanic or that he was a man — I saw a person! If people really, truly want racial equality, then the first step has to be to STOP looking at skin color,” wrote one reader.

“When I look at a person, the last thing I think about is skin color or heritage,” wrote another.

Sorry, but I’m not buying it. While I am sympathetic to any desire to get past dated and useless habits of mind — especially the contentious politics of the color line — that’s just nonsense. None of us, black, white or brown, is colorblind.  (Emphasis mine.)

Sorry, Cynthia, but I’m not buying that. I refuse to be denied the right to dislike someone based upon the content of their character. More to the point, given Obama’s church, his verbal vapidity, and what’s emerging about his somewhat checkered Chicago political past, I’m not even sure precisely how much character the man has. And that is entirely separate, of course, from my disliking his political positions.

Nor do I think I’m deluding myself about my innate racism. The fact is, I’ve never seen Obama speak. I get my news through the written word. Or, if I’m getting my news through the spoken word, I hear it on the radio. I never watch the candidates on TV, ever. That is, my impressions of Obama are purely cerebral. And I still don’t like him.

Hillary, interestingly, doesn’t have quite the same protection Obama does. People have gotten so used over the years to finding her entirely dislikeable that it’s pretty darn hard to attribute negative feelings to her sex, rather than her personality. With Obama, though, we don’t have a past history with him to justify broad dislike. That is, while Obama has a personal history (which I don’t think holds up to scrutiny), there hasn’t been a long-term relationship between the man and the American public that could lay the groundwork for disliking him without a concurrent charge of racism. For example, we don’t hear too many cries of racism if we dislike Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton, both of whom have shown themselves to be completely disreputable personally and politically for too many years to be entirely immune from attack (although we may well be accused of being racists for not supporting their race-based political agenda). That is, most people, left or right, seem to concede that the guys lack broad personal appeal.

It will be interesting, assuming Obama continues in politics for a while (whether as a 2008 presidential candidate or a 2012 candidate), to see if we’re allowed to dislike him without being tarred with the racist brush. It will also be interesting if, God forbid, he wins the 2008 presidential primaries, to see if the press will be able to make itself write anything even slightly negative about him. And considering the horror with which Hillary’s attacks against him are being greeted, will the Republican candidate be able to say anything negative, no matter how substantive, without being tarred with the racist brush?  The one thing I can promise you is that, if Obama loses, it won’t be because he’s boring, antisemitic (or, at least, his friends are), uninformed, unexperienced and a leftist. In the eyes of the MSM, whose opinion will be disseminated around the world, he can lose only because he’s black. And that’s the problem with Obama’s race.

More gold in Goldberg *UPDATED*

I’m still enjoying every page of Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning, and I thought I’d share with you a few more points that I thought either summed up perfectly something most of us have already figured out or explained why I’d been suffering from cognitive dissonance for so long trying to understand the liberal historic paradigms offered up in college and beyond.

I think Goldberg has summed up as well as anyone can the liberal view of race, and the liberal view of conservatives vis a vis race. Here is his summary of liberals and race:

Even on the liberal left [as opposed to the black supremacist left, which speaks in terms surprisingly reminiscent of Nazi racial ideology], where the poisonous notions are far more diluted, it is axiomatic that there is something inherently and distinctly good about blacks. How so? Well, it must be so. If you buy into the various doctrines of multiculturalism and identity politics you already believe that blackness is distinct, immutable, and unchanging. Once you accept this logic — and the left obviously does — you are then left with a fairly simple choice. If race is not neutral, if “race matters,” as Cornell West says, then how does it matter? Given the choice between assigning a positive value or a negative value, liberals opt for the positive. (p. 278.)

Conservatives, on the other hand, tend to believe race is a matter of skin color. They keep in mind two important historic phrases: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…” and “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” This is what Goldberg calls “race neutrality.” How is it that an outlook that says race doesn’t matter routinely gets transformed into cries of “racist”? Jonah answers that question too:

There are only three basic positions. There is the racism of the left, which seeks to use the state to help favored minorities that it regards as morally superior. There is racial neutrality, which is, or has become, the conservative position. And then there is some form of “classical racism” — that is, seeing blacks as inferior in some way. According to the left, only one of these positions isn’t racist. Race neutrality is racist. Racism is racist. So what’s left? Nothing except liberalism. In other words, agree with liberals and you’re not racist. Of course, if you adopt color blindness as a policy, many fair-minded liberals will tell you that while you’re not personally racist, your views “perpetuate” racism. And some liberals will stand by the fascist motto: if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. Either way, there are no safe harbors from liberal ideology. Hence, when it comes to race, liberalism has become a kind of soft totalitarianism and multiculturalism the mechanism for a liberal Gleichschaltung. If you fall outside the liberal consensus, you are either evil or an abettor of evil. This is the logic of the Volksgemeinschaft in politicaly correct jargon. (p. 283.)

Goldberg also explains why I’ve always suffered from cognitive dissonance when being told that the Nazis were capitalist fat cats, so that people who believe in capitalism, and don’t view corporations as enemies, are fascists. This clashed head on with a few things I knew about Nazis: they hated capitalism, which is part of why they loathed Jews; they were socialists; they semi-nationalized most industries; and they were a populist movement that started with the Volk in Munich. As to this last, they were very hostile to aristocrats (who created the group that came up with the plot to assassinate Hitler) and industrialists. Those aristos and industrialists who became ardent Nazis did so because they shared its antisemitism and its Aryan racism, or because they saw that the Nazi nation was a profitable entity, with a good government trough. All that being the case, why did Nazism, and therefore “fascism,” get tied up with capitalism? Here’s why:

Doctrinaire Marxism-Leninism defined fascism as “the most reactionary and openly terrorist form of the dictatorship of finance capital, established by the imperialistic bourgeoisie to break the resistance of the working class and all the progressive elements of society.” Trotsky, an admirer of Mussolini’s, conceded that fascism was a “plebian movement in origin” but that it was always “directed and financed by big capitalist powers.” This interpretation was foreordained because by the 1920s communists were convinced that they were witnessing capitalism’s long overdue collapse. Marxist prophecy held that the capitalists would fight back to protect their interests rather than face extinction in the new socialist era. [The Marxist version of the “left behind” theory, I guess.] When fascism succeeded in Italy, communist seers simply declared, “This is it!” At the Fourth Congress of the Communist International in 1922, less than a month after the March on Rome — long before Mussolini consolidated power — the assembled communists settled on this interpretation with little debate over the actual facts on the ground. (p. 286-287.)

In other words, because Marxism assumed that there would be a last gasp of capitalism before the inevitable communist take-over, and because fascism appeared when the Marxist chronology had dictated that this last gasp would occur, therefore fascism was the last gasp of capitalism — a false syllogism if I ever heard one. It sure does explain, though, why I never could make head nor tail of the line taught me at Berkeley — namely, that fascism is simply capitalism carried to the extreme.

And my last Goldberg point for now has to do with a rather charming irony. Do you remember liberal outrage that Cheney sat down with industry leaders to draft rules governing the industry? (And for the life of me, sitting here this morning, I can’t remember which industry it was that Cheney had the termerity to meet with.) It turns out that the close relationship between big industry and government is a long and honorable progressive tradition, one that began even before Wilson’s ultimate progressive WWI government. Goldberg explains that big industry originally encouraged government regulation for an anticompetitive purpose — it knew that small players couldn’t afford to keep up with government requirements. For example, when Upton Sinclair wrote his famous 1906 muckraking book The Jungle, about the meatpacking industry, he was being just a bit disingenuous:

The problem is that it’s [the liberal myth that progressive government forced unwilling corporations to become humane] totally untrue, a fact Sinclair freely acknowledged. “The Federal inspection of meat was, historically, established at the packers’ request,” Sinclair wrote in 1906. “It is maintained and paid for by the people of the United States for the benefit of the packers.” (p. 291.)

Originally, government was hostile to this kind of thing, because it was meant for anti-competitive purposes. However, when Wilson, the first progressive took the White House and was able to use WWI to begin his experiments, he immediately set about controlling big business — and big business went along with it, believing that it would drive out competition and increase profits:

Big business and the Wilson administration formed the Council of National Defense, or CND, according to Wilson, for the purpose of redesigning “the whole industrial mechanism . . . in the most effective way.” “It is our hope,” Hudson Motor Car Company’s Howard Coffin explained in a letter to the Du Ponts “that we may lay the foundation for that closely knit structure, industrial, civil, and military, which every thinking American has come to realize is vital to the future life of this country, in peace and in commence, no less than in possible war.”

When the war broke out, the CND was largely folded into the War Industries Board, or WIB. Run by the “dollar-a-year-men” from the world of finance and business, the WIB set prices, trade quotas, wages, and, of course, profits. Trade associations were formed along vaguely syndicalist lines. “Business willed its own domination, forged its bonds, and policed its own subjection,” wrote Grosvenor Clarkson, a WIBer and historian of the effort. The aim was for the “concentration of commerce, industry and all the powers of government.” “Historians have generally concluded,” writes Robert Higgs, “that these businessmen-turned-bureaucrats used their positions to establish and enforce what amounted to cartel arrangements for the various industries.” (p. 293.)

As Goldberg repeatedly states throughout his book, when Roosevelt’s New Deal came along, there was nothing “new” about it. Almost without exception, its policies simply resurrected the policies that Wilson had put into place during WWI. One of these policies should remind you of the infamous Cheney/industry meeting:

The propaganda of the New Deal — “malefactors of great wealth” and all that — to the contrary, FDR simply endeavored to re-create the corporatism of the last war. The New Dealers invited one industry after another to wrote the codes under which they would be regulated (as they had been begging to do in many case). (p. 293; emphasis mine.)

In other words, Cheney was doing nothing more or less than aping the Left’s idol — FDR.

If you can get a hold of a copy of Goldberg’s book, I really urge you to read it. As I noted before, it will explain how liberals ended up where they are, and why it’s the conservatives who wrongly get the pejorative label “fascist.”

UPDATE: It seemed appropriate to include in this post three links to good discussions about Obama and the race card, since it seems very likely that, if Obama is the Democratic candidate, anyone who does not vote for him will be castigated as a racist and, if he loses, the entire nation will be called to account for that “shame.” Article 1 is at Cheat-Seeking Missiles, Article 2 is at Commentary Magazine’s blog, and Article 3 is Charles Sykes, writing at American Thinker.

In the same vein, I had an interesting conversation with my mother, who gets her news solely from MSM television. She agreed with me that Obama lacks any meaningful experience, that he’s untried, and that he’s basically an empty shirt. She also agreed that his political positions do not represent the view of all Americans — and possibly represent the views of fewer than half of all Americans. Nevertheless, she then announced that if Obama loses, it will be because Middle America is racist and will not vote for a black. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a map of the US with me, because I think she forgot where Iowa is. My Mom is an intelligent, humane woman with a lot of common sense. Her take on Barack Obama, though, shows how even the best mind can start showing signs of cognitive dissonance if it is exposed to nothing more than the MSM.

UPDATE II: I read the Charles Sykes (American Thinker) article after I’d had the conversation with my mother and after I’d written about the conversation, above. I think Sykes must have been eavesdropping on my conversation, though, or looking over my shoulder as I blogged:

A central tenet of modern liberalism, after all, is the unshakeable conviction that white American is deeply and irredeemably racist. For three decades, America’s white liberals have invested in the belief that American is so incapable of racial fairness that society needs a panoply of laws, preferences, quotas, set-asides, and remedial programs to ensure that black people are treated fairly.

All of those policies are fundamentally based on the belief that America is deeply racist, that their fellow Americans are personally biased and institutionally prejudiced — consciously and unconsciously, intentionally and structurally; racist in history and practice.

It follows that many race-holding liberals will be among the last to believe that America will ever elect an African-American as president.

White liberals face this cognitive dissonance: if they decide that America is ready for a black president and back Obama they would also be forced to surrender or at least modify decades of convictions about American bias.

Identity politics then and now

I have been incredibly embarrassed by the fact that so many women (a) are voting for Hillary just because she’s a woman and (b) were more likely to vote for her because she cried.  It makes me want to hand in my gender identity card.  Are women really so stupid that they can’t rise above their self-involved narcissism and look at the candidates’ actual qualities — his or her experiences, policy beliefs, abilities, etc?  Apparently they are.  It’s just humiliating to share the same chromosomes with these females.

What’s interesting about this narrow, anti-intellectual, anti-knowledge mindset, a political approach that actually confers no practical benefit on the person holding it, is that it tends to parallel the identity politics viewpoint that German fascism took (as distinguished from Italian Fascism, which did not have a racial natural outgrowth of fascism).  I was lucky enough yesterday to get hold of Goldberg’s book Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning, and the subject of identity politics keeps cropping up over and over again as he looks at the politics of the Left.  He’s very careful not to call today’s Leftists Nazis — and he means it when he says it — but he does note points of congruence between American identity politics and Nazi-style fascism:

For most of his career, Mussolini considered anti-Semitism a silly distraction and, later, a necessary sop to his overbearing German patron.  Jews could be good socialists or fascists if they thought and behaved like good socialists or fascists.  Because Hitler thought explicitly in terms of what we would today call identity politics, Jews were irredeemably Jews, no matter how well they spoke German.  His allegiance, like that of all practitioners of identity politics, was to the iron cage of immutable identity.  (p. 62.)

The same can, of course, be said for the way in which liberals approach identity — and it goes a long way to explaining the current explosion or racial and sexist argument emanating from the Left right now.  To people on the Left, blacks are nothing more than black — it is the prism through which everything is filtered.  Women are solely women, although it becomes problematic when women also happen to be black.  Gays are defined by their sexuality, and nothing more (which is why, once they’ve figured out their sexuality, it becomes imperative to teach them how to live like good little gays).  Once you’re gay or black or female, you can never again be a doctor or a lawyer or a truck driver or a manager.  You are a gay lawyer, or a female truck driver, or a black manager.   So what are you to do, as a good liberal, when you’ve got two oppressed people vying for the Presidency?

On the Right, we ask what is their experience?   What are their skills?  What policies do they advocate?  Are they effective people?  Are they reasonably honest?  Will they advance American interests in security and economic matters?  Who are their associates?  On the Left they ask, is he black enough?  Is she female enough?  Is he black but the wrong type of black (Sidney Poitier instead of Malcolm X or Martin Luther King)?  Is she female, but not sufficiently in touch with her femininity?  Interesting questions all to the racist or feminist, BUT WHAT DO THEY HAVE TO DO WITH GOVERNING THE COUNTY?

Incidentally, as regards labels, Goldberg discusses one other aspect of labeling that emanates from the Left and that has always bewildered me.   Now I finally get it.  Some history first — my own history, I mean.  I grew up as a good Democrat, reviling the right.  The only thing is, I wasn’t really sure what right wing ideas were, other than hatred of blacks and poor people.  As I got more sophisticated, I got more confused.  I figured out that Democratic welfare policies tended to keep people mired in poverty, which can be an “I like the poor” platform only if you add “I like them so much that I aim to keep them that way in perpetuity.”  I also learned that it was the Democrats (and aren’t they the Left?) who hated blacks, at least during the seminal civil rights era.  I also figured out that famous figures labeled as right wing fascists, such as Father Coughlin, the famous radio priest, spouted socialists ideas, including the end of capitalism and private property.  These ideas are, of course, Marxist, and I don’t think anyone argues Marx’s Leftist qualifications.  Goldberg explains it all.  He begins by giving a bit of Coughlin’s history, as well as his relationship to the White House, which ended with the White House fearfully sloughing him off when he went too far:

So how did Coughlin [whose Leftist bona fides Goldberg spent pages establishing] suddenly become a right-winger?  When did he become persona non grata in the eyes of liberal intellectuals?  On this the historical record is abundantly clear:  liberals started to call Coughlin a right-winger when he moved further to the left.

This isn’t nearly as contradictory as it sounds.  Coughlin became a villian in late 1934 almost solely because he had decided that FDR wasn’t radical enough.  FDR’s less than fully national-socialist policies sapped Couglin’s patience — as didhis reluctance to make the priest his personal Rasputin.  (p. 141.)

The liberals’ treatment of Coughlin (and Huey Long) set the template for liberal name calling ever after.  Thus, after describing Coughlin’s fall from liberal grace, Goldberg adds:

This returns us to one of the most infuriating distortions of American political debate.  In the 1930s, what defined a “right-winter” was almost exclusively opposition to Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal.  The muckraking journalist J.T. Flynn, for example, is often labeled a leading light of the Old Right for no other reason than that he was a relentless FDR critic and a member of American First (indeed, he was one of the most articulate voices decrying the incipient fascism of the New Deal).  But Flynn was no classical liberal.  He had been a left-leaning columnist for the New Republic for much of the 1930s, and he denounced Roosevelt of moving in what he considered a rightward direction.  As for his isolationism, he considered himself a fellow traveler with Norman Thomas, head of the American Socialist Party, Charles Beard, and John Dewey.  (p. 143.)

In other words, beginning in the 1930s, the pejorative label “right wing” didn’t describe a person’s position on the political spectrum at all.  Instead, it simply meant that the person was advocating policies that New Dealers, Socialists, and Liberal Fascists* didn’t like.  And, in the same spirit of name calling, “fascist” is whatever  these same people really don’t like, wherever it falls on the political spectrum.  Now I get it.

__________________________________

*Please read Goldberg’s book to understand why “Liberal Fascist” is not a smear term a la Bushitler or Hitllary, but is instead a historically accurate term (which H.G. Wells coined) to describe a specific nationalist, totalitarian approach to socialist politics.

Hillary and identity politics

Day by Day says it all:

UPDATE:  I just read at the Captain’s Quarters that people think the above cartoon, which uses blackface, crossed the line.  That’s a rather interesting point, because I’ve been one of those to pile onto Democratic bloggers and cartoonists who have used blackface to insult political opponents — a peculiar thing to do by the party that claims, not only to best represent African-Americans, but also to appreciate and understand them.  In fact, I think that difference in attitude about the races also shapes the difference between what Chris Muir is doing, and what’s going on when Democrats paint Condi as an Aunt Jemima, or color up Republican candidates in blackface.

In other words, unlike the Democrats, one of the things Republicans fairly consistently do not do, is play to racial or sexual identities, preferring instead to play to issues.   This differs from the race politics on the Left, and from the extreme race behavior Hillary routinely shows.  One can’t get away from the fact that Hillary morphs into an African-American every time she steps before a black crowd, a behavioral change so obvious and bizarre as to be newsworthy.  It’s manifest to any observer that, were she to have a mirror in front of herself during those speeches, she would expect to see herself precisely as Chris Muir portrayed her — America’s first female, black President.

Hillary’s chameleon quality isn’t limited to blacks.  When she’s in front of Jewish groups, this woman who’s backpeddling from America’s war as fast as she possibly can, suddenly turns into a rabid hawk, ready to spill Iranian blood at the first provocation.  Hillary wants to be all things to all people, and I’m sure envisions herself davening in a yarmulkah during these speeches.

Hillary’s lust for power denies her a firm self-image, and has her constantly recreating herself in the image of the audience before her.  In other words, I don’t see Chris’ attack as a racist attack, so much as a very, very narrow — and accurate — attack on Hillary’s repeated acts of shape shifting.

The problem with identity politics

I admit that it’s not fair to pick on Elton John. Although he is a truly talented musician, I don’t think anyone has ever accused him of being a deep thinker or a well-informed man. Nevertheless, something he said a few days ago caught my eye, because I think it exposes just about everything that’s wrong with identity politics. Here’s the money quote:

Sir Elton John wants religion banned completely — because he believes it promotes hatred of gays.

Speaking to the Observer Music Monthly Magazine the singer said religion lacked compassion and turned people into “hateful lemmings”.

The PRESS ASSOCIATION reports: In a candid interview for a dedicated Gay issue of the magazine he shared his views on topics as varied as being a pop icon to Tony Blair’s stance on the war in Iraq.

He said there was a lack of religious leadership, particularly in world politics, and complained that people do not take to the streets to protest any more.

Sir Elton said: “I think religion has always tried to turn hatred towards gay people. Religion promotes the hatred and spite against gays.

“But there are so many people I know who are gay and love their religion. From my point of view I would ban religion completely.

“Organised religion doesn’t seem to work. It turns people into really hateful lemmings and it’s not really compassionate.”

That’s it. That’s his entire take on religion: it’s not gay friendly. There’s no room at all in this world view for the fact that the Judeo-Christian religions have had a profoundly moralizing influence on the Western world. There’s no thought for the Old Testament’s focus on justice and and moral behavior; no care for Jesus’ ceaseless preaching about love and generosity. Instead, there’s a simple two-step analysis: Religion doesn’t like gays, therefore it should go.

I remember once having an argument with a friend of mine who had just come out of the closet. I always knew he was gay, so his confession was no surprise. What did surprise me was the speed with which he’d ghettoized himself. He’d moved into gay housing, joined a gay student organization and, instead of introducing himself as a student majoring in chemistry, introduced himself as a gay man. I questioned whether it was a good thing for him to define himself solely by his bedroom conduct, so that all other aspects of himself were swept into that shadow. Frankly, at this distance in time, I can’t remember his defense. I just remember that I wasn’t convinced, but instead felt strongly that he was limiting himself by placing his sexuality front and center.

But that, of course, is always the problem with identity politics. You’re not the sum total of your parts, you’re a one-trick pony, a stereotype. You’re not a brilliant man with an amazing gift for building computers, a wife and two loving children. You’re a black man and, by default setting, oppressed. You’re not a physician, a poet and a musician, you’re a gay man who is a doctor and has some hobbies. You’re not a much sought after computer program, you’re a handicapped woman in a wheel chair who got a job programming computers. The identity comes first nowadays. Everything else is a subset.

And if the identity comes first, everything that impinges on that identity has to go, regardless of whether that impinging thing has any independent merit. Religion? To heck with its civilizing influence and social controls. It offends gays so it’s got to go. Thomas Jefferson? Who cares about his remarkable intellectual contributions to the then-nascent ideas of freedom and democracy. He had slaves, so his ideas must be derided. And on and on. An identity ridden generation can’t separate the wheat from the chaff. I just hope identity politics doesn’t see too many valuable babies tossed away with the offending bathwater. (Sorry for the mixed metaphors, but I liked ’em both and kept ’em.)