Jon Stewart: Trump is the Child of both Dems and GOP

Source: Jon Stewart Pops Up To Deliver Epic Anti-Trump Rant | GOOD

Fascinating. Stewart does offer some amusing and pointed vignettes that summarize the infantilism of Trump. Pointedly, though, he notes that the blame for the emergence of Trumpism cannot be laid at the feet of the GOP alone: the Democrats share a degree of culpability.

The real fun begins at around the 36 minute mark, when Stewart starts truth-telling about the Democrats and the Obama administration, and David Axelrod offers a remarkably lame defense of his former boss and his record.

When historians begin to delve beyond the poisonous rhetoric of the past eight years, past the spew of birthers, the racists and the obstructionists on the one hand and the starry-eyed apologists on the other to try and reveal the reality of this administration and the man at its center, David Axelrod, Ben Rhodes, and John Kerry will offer the most compelling points of entry.

The Closing of the Collegiate Mind

Perhaps the most nerve-racking duty of a senior class president at Scripps College in Claremont is securing a speaker for commencement. And Jennie Xu thought she had nailed it by booking Madeleine Albright , the first woman to serve as U.S. secretary of State.

Source: War criminal or role model? Madeline Albright as Scripps College commencement speaker hits a nerve – LA Times

I am sorry to say that I have lost whatever respect I had for Scripps, a once-outstanding example of what makes higher education in California so special. Today, it appears that their students are utterly incapable of entertaining – or even hearing – a political viewpoint that strays even a bit from their narrow band of correctness, whether from Madeline Albright or George Will.

What is so wrong with Madeline Albright? Whatever is wrong with George Will? Or Noam Chomsky? Or any controversial figure with a point of view? In my time in school – as not only a conservative but an officer of my College Republicans chapter – I paid to go see Angela Davis, Hunter Thompson, and a host of other somewhat lesser lights who held views I found objectionable, misguided, or repugnant, but who forced me to question my cherished values. There is nothing that all of us – scholars especially – need more than a regular forced excursion outside of one’s cloistered political echo-chamber.

If the students and faculty of Scripps are trying to send a message, the only message that is getting through is that they would prefer willful ignorance over the specter of cognitive dissonance. As a result, Scripps is in danger of downgrading itself from a respected tertiary institution to a finishing school with books, and the students and faculty will share the blame if that happens.

Louis Farrakahn Likes What He Sees in Trump

“Not that I’m for Mr. Trump, but I like what I’m looking at,” the Nation of Islam leader said.

Source: Farrakhan praises Trump for rejecting ‘Jewish’ money | TheHill

The quote that speaks volumes. First David Duke, now Louis Farrakhan. It seems that Mr. Drumpf strikes a chord with racists of all persuasions.

By the way, please tell me that I’m not the only one to notice distinct similarities between the uniform of the Fruit of Islam and that of the Nazi Brownshirts.

The Progressive Debate

The ugly truth is that you can be a progressive and be from nearly any point on the American political spectrum – see both Roosevelts, Truman, Ike, Earl Warren, etc.

Of course, if you accept the rhetorical construct promulgated by the far Left – that “progressive” is just a euphemism for “radical” in the way that the far Right uses “conservative” as a euphemism for “reactionary,” then this all falls apart.

In the name of truth and clarity, however, we must reject these political inexactitudes and name things for what they are.

Bernie Sanders is not a progressive. He is a radical. Hillary Clinton is a liberal.

Ted Cruz is not a conservative. He is a reactionary. John Kasich represents something far closer to a conservative. John Huntsman is a conservative with progressive leanings.

And Donald Trump is a power-hungry opportunist who takes on whatever political shadings he thinks will rouse the nearest rabble and get him one more delegate close to election.

We can argue definitions, but let us do so in the quest for accurate descriptions, not for the sake of political spin.

The End? Good.

Screenshot 2016-02-17 11.27.07

This is an Ending of some sort for conservatism as we’ve known it, and, depending on outcomes, probably liberalism as well. For better or worse – and I’m just enough of a political Pollyanna to think “better,” I’d say it is time for a major re-alignment in American politics and for a questioning of some of the assumptions we’re all making.

I don’t much care for the idea of either a narcissistic blowhard capitalist or an idealistic septuagenarian sitting in the White House, but I’ll freely admit that the system needed the combined jab-to-the-face/punch-to-the-gut these two represent.

When the Left Denies Science

Galileo’s Middle Finger is one of the most important social-science books of 2015 because of how thoroughly it punctures liberal smugness about science.

Jesse Singal
When Liberals Attack Social Science
The New Yorker
December 30, 2015

I spare no virtual ink in this forum excoriating those who would deny science in the name of political ideology, and am studiously non-partisan about this: the conservatives who still refuse to consider the possibility of climate change, end stem-cell research, or keep evolution out of textbooks come under as much fire as the liberals engaged in a jihad against GMOs, who deny the role of evolution in the human brain, and who in the words of Michael Shermer, maintain that “everything natural is good, and everything non-natural is bad.”

So it is encouraging to come across Jesse Singal’s moving review of Galileo’s Middle FingerAlice Dreger’s new book about what happens when science clashes with activist liberal dogma. In the book, Dreger documents in meticulous detail two specific cases of when this happens, and the results are disturbing. I won’t go into specifics, but suffice to say that both researchers collected evidence that pointed in a direction that challenged liberal dogma, and as a result, faced baseless academic and popular witch hunts aimed at ruining their lives and their careers, not simply challenging their conclusions.

That this is reprehensible is axiomatic. As Singal notes:

We should want researchers to poke around at the edges of “respectable” beliefs about gender and race and religion and sex and identity and trauma, and other issues that make us squirm. That’s why the scientific method was invented in the first place. If activists — any activists, regardless of their political orientation or the rightness of their cause — get to decide by fiat what is and isn’t an acceptable interpretation of the world, then science is pointless, and we should just throw the whole damn thing out.

These accusations are not being flung by some right-wing PAC. Not only is The New Yorker somewhere to the left of center in its own editorial policies, Dr. Dreger is a genuine progressive who has spent years working with the transgendered. Her conclusions are thus animated by a desire to rid science of politics rather than score points on the opposition.

Read the entire review, and then do what I did: pick up Dregel’s book. This nonsense has to end, and we, by being informed, can help end it.

The Limits of “Mansplaining”

 

It is a fact universally acknowledged that a woman in possession of an opinion must be in want of a correction. Well, actually, no it isn’t, but who doesn’t love riffing on Jane Austen? The answer is: lots of people, because we’re all different and some of us haven’t even read Pride and Prejudice dozens of times, but the main point is that I’ve been performing interesting experiments in proffering my opinions and finding that some of the men out there respond on the grounds that my opinion is wrong, while theirs is right because they are convinced that their opinion is a fact, while mine is a delusion. Sometimes they also seem to think that they are in charge, of me as well of facts.

Source: “Men Explain Lolita to Me,” Rebecca Solnit, Literary Hub

I can understand Rebecca Solnit’s frustration. Even in these “modern” times, there is no shortage of men who will discount the opinion of a woman because of her gender, sometimes without even realizing that they’re doing it. Neither men nor women should hesitate to raise a flag when it happens.

At the same time, it should be apparent to the wise reader that not everything that might feel like “mansplaining” is actually a manifestation of paternalist condescension. At the risk of appearing to be “mansplaining” myself, a few commonsense points to keep in mind ere using that term:

  1. There are people – men and women – who believe they are right and you are wrong and with undisguised condescension will tell you so in no uncertain terms, even when they are so wrong that it beggars belief. 
  2. Those people can and will do so without respect to your gender, race, creed, color.
  3. The behavior pattern described above is not limited to white men. Indeed, I have been the victim of such behavior from men and women of caucasian, Asian, and African-American derivation. I have dated women – one Asian woman in particular – who treated every word that came out of my mouth as wrong, and felt the compulsion to enlighten me, the ignorant barbarian. I know for a fact that she has behaved in a like fashion to men who were older, wiser, and wealthier than I.
  4. In many cases, such behavior is rooted in arrogance. But often when we encounter such pushback, it is because we ourselves are actually wrong, and we refuse to see it.
  5. The real universal truth – apologies to Jane Austen – is that a person in public possession of an opinion must be in want of correction. To have an opinion and state it publicly is a prima facie invitation for people to either agree or disagree with you. (For proof, spend a morning looking at Facebook or Tumblr.) That they don’t agree doesn’t make them bad. It simply means they take issue with your opinion, which, however sincerely held, is probably not universal. In the words of Sergeant Hackler, “opinions are like assholes: everyone’s got one, and they all stink.” This is why blogs have comment sections.
  6. All of us need to get over the sanctity of our opinions. The beauty of free speech is that we can have our own opinions. The ugliness of free speech is that we grow so attached to them that we cling to them even when the preponderance of facts proves us wrong.
  7. Opinions may at times be supported by facts, but we confuse the two far too often.

I will grant that all of the above is apocrypha and opinion. You are cordially invited to disagree. Ms. Solnit, for her part, might well take the above as a “mansplain,” prima facie evidence that I am an anti-feminist, and then dismiss me out of hand.

“Mansplaining” happens, and when it takes place in the context of an individual rejecting the opinion of a woman out of hand, it is wrong. Yet we must acknowledge that this is a negative behavior for which white straight men cannot claim anything approaching a monopoly.

What is more, the implicit danger of a term like “mansplaining” is that it is so vague and haphazardly applied that they can undermine debate, compelling some people (straight white males) to self-censor for fear of appearing sexist, and others to dismiss out of hand the opinions of people with that same gender, race, and orientation. The indiscriminate condemnation of a white male rebuttal to the opinion of a woman or person of color “mansplaining” only serves to label every straight male opinion as illegitimate, irrelevant, or worse.

Finally, you do not win the war for civility and tolerance by fostering more incivility and discrimination. That is the line Ms. Solnit and others like her must tread with care, lest it serve only to replace old hurts with new ones.