Obama to the 2020 Dems: “Don’t be radical loons.”

Okay, I’m paraphrasing just a bit. But the last Democratic POTUS did provide a similar nugget of advice to the individuals hoping to become the next Democratic POTUS. 

It looks like Obama’s message got a mixed response: Continue reading “Obama to the 2020 Dems: “Don’t be radical loons.””

Why the John Bel Edwards victory is meaningless for 2020

CNN is crowing because incumbent Democratic Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards narrowly beat a Trump-backed candidate this past week.

Trump himself won Louisiana by 20 percentage points in 2016.

I can understand why CNN (which is now the media arm of the Democratic Party, more or less) is excited. But this outcome in the Pelican State has little significance for the 2020 presidential contest. Continue reading “Why the John Bel Edwards victory is meaningless for 2020”

Seattle police captain busted in prostitution sting

A Seattle police captain, Randal Woolery, fell for a textbook honey trap this past week. Captain Woolery was one of five men who offered money for sex to an undercover cop. He got nabbed.

Woolery reportedly offered $40.

The 53 year-old has served in law enforcement for more than three decades with distinction.

This raises some questions.

First of all, wouldn’t a police captain, with 30 years of service, know the tell-tale signs of sting?

And $40??? (Geez, he was cheap.)

But it also raises the question of whether sexual activity among consenting adults is any of the state’s business–including paid sexual activities.

I don’t see the logic here: You can give sex away, but you can’t sell it. You can accept it gratis, but you can’t buy it.

Woolery was by all indications a good cop. I’d rather see him out catching real criminals, versus getting caught up in something silly like this.

I’d also question whether or not this was a good use of the police resources of Seattle in the first place. Are they that bored out there?

The dirty little secret behind Elizabeth Warren’s “Billionaire Tears” mug

If you’re eager to give Elizabeth Warren some of your hard-earned money, you can invest $25 in an official “Billionaire Tears” mug to support the Warren 2020 campaign.

But be aware: You’ll be benefitting a billionaire in the process.

Warren is selling the mugs through Shopify, which is owned by Tobias Lütke. The German-born Canadian businessman is worth a cool $2.8 billion. So, Lütke is at least one billionaire who won’t be crying.

Oh, and Elizabeth Warren: She’s no pauper, either. She and her husband have a combined $12 million in cash and assets.

I don’t begrudge people their wealth. But I do have nothing but disdain for limousine socialists.

If Warren feels so strongly about sharing the wealth, why is she holding on to a $12 million fortune?

Why not give away $10 million of that money?She would, after all, still be a millionaire.

Every socialist should lead by example. That’s only fair.

The ideological war on ‘Friends’

I was recently nostalgic for 1990s television, and so I decided to rewatch a few episodes of the 1990s’ favorite sitcom, Friends. Although the last new Friends episode aired 15 years ago, Friends is all over my cable directory in reruns, on channels like TV Land and Nickelodeon.

As most of you will know, Friends was incredibly successful—and profitable—during its ten-year primetime run, from 1994 to 2004. I recall reading that at the height of the show’s popularity, the six lead actors—Jennifer Aniston, Courtney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matthew Perry, Matt LeBlanc, and David Schwimmer—were being paid $650,000 per episode. 

It might seem to you that a few of them have been resting on their laurels since Friends ended. David Schwimmer, who might have been the next Tom Cruise or Will Smith, has barely done anything in the intervening years. And when was the last time you went to see a Jennifer Aniston movie?

There might be a reason for that. They’ve all got tons of money. (Aniston has a reported net worth of $240 million.) 

And there might be yet another reason: Friends was so popular in its day, that all of the show’s actors have become irrevocably associated with their Friends roles. You can’t see any of them today without automatically thinking of Friends

Sometimes decades-old television doesn’t age well. Not long ago I watched a rerun of Family Ties, which aired on primetime from 1982 to 1989. I liked Family Ties in the 1980s. By 2019, however, the show’s Reagan-era jokes simply weren’t funny anymore.  

But what about Friends?

I was only about ten minutes into the first episode of Friends that I’d stored on my DVR, when I realized why the sitcom was such a hit.

The setup of Friends—six twentysomethings making their way through professional and romantic challenges in fin de siècle New York—is instantly accessible. The main characters are mostly likable (though Phoebe and Joey can both be annoying). 

The jokes, moreover, pass the test of time. I found myself laughing out loud at least once during each episode I watched. 

This is because the humor is built into the characters themselves. Ross and Chandler are funny in awkward situations because of their insecurities. Rachel, the pretty princess, is funny when she copes with smackdowns—because she’s the pretty princess. Phoebe’s rendition of the “smelly cat” song is funny because she’s just flaky enough to take the song seriously, to consider it art.

Friends is one of those cultural artifacts that I enjoyed in the moment and then mostly forgot about. I never would have considered Friends to be the least bit controversial or offensive—even by the hyper-woke, endlessly offended standards of the twenty-first century. 

I was wrong. 

There is an episode in which one of Ross’s paleontology students describes him as a “hottie” on the end-of-semester class evaluation form. This will evolve into a storyline in which the thirtyish Ross will date a twentysomething former student, a problematic enough idea in the era of #MeToo. But that’s just for starters. 

As Ross is sitting around speculating which girl in his class called him a hottie, Rachel asks, with a wry look in her eye, “How do you know it’s a girl?” 

There is a pregnant pause, as Ross considers this possibility—which would have been awkward for most twentysomething heterosexual men in the late 1990s. 

After a few more beats, Ross says, dismissively, “It was a girl.” Cue laugh track. 

This was a fairly innocuous comedic setup in 1995, or even 2000. By the standards of 2019 it is borderline hate speech. As a properly woke young man, Ross should be indifferent about the gender of his admirer. And if he has the gall to explicitly prefer women, then he should at least be open to women who have male anatomical features. 

The characters of Friends are like a lot of white, suburban twentysomethings I knew in the 1990s. They aren’t exactly puritanical, but they are plain vanilla and predictable in their lifestyle and romantic choices. This clashes with today’s identity politics. 

There is no episode in which Rachel dates an African American man who is infinitely cooler and more accomplished than all the white guys on the show. There is no episode in which Joey questions his sexuality, and goes bi for a while.

And what about the episode where Monica is involved in a polyamorous three-way relationship? That one is missing, too.

Above all this, there’s the show’s overweening whiteness. In 1995, the idea of six white Friends was no big deal. In 2019, it must be a conspiracy. They must be closet racists. 

Friends, when you think about it, is problematic on so many levels: The show is completely white, completely cisgendered, and across-the-board heteronormative. 

There is a storyline in Friends in which Chandler’s father, Charles, comes out as a transgender woman. In one memorable scene, the newly christened Helena Handbasket dresses in drag and sings “It’s Raining Men” at a gay cabaret. Suffice it to say that Chandler, rather than being pleased at his father’s awakening, is horrified and embarrassed by the whole thing. 

This may be a realistic reaction, but it doesn’t conform to the ideological orthodoxies of our present times. This is one Friends episode that would never see the light of day in 2019—not without Twitter mobs, advertiser boycotts, and no end of finger-wagging from CNN columnists.

I thought to myself: I can’t be the only one who sees this. I’m not even woke, and these problematic aspects of Friends were apparent even to me. 

So I did a bit of googling, and I discovered that Friends has already raised the eyebrows of the culture police:

“All the reasons why ‘Friends’ is problematic”Film Daily

“Millennials watching ‘Friends’ on Netflix shocked by storylines”The Independent

That’s just a sample. There are scores of articles like this throughout the Internet. 

And you thought there were still a few guiltless pleasures left, that the ideological killjoys hadn’t yet excreted on absolutely everything. Well, guess again, comrade.

A recent article in Cosmopolitan is entitled, “11 actually pretty shocking things Friends couldn’t get away with today”. The author of this piece, one Dusty Baxter-Wright, mentioned all the “problematic” elements that I identified, but she didn’t stop there, adding a few of her own:

Gendered children’s toys: Late in the show, Ross becomes a father, and that damned troglodyte objects to the fact that his son, Ben, plays with girls’ toys. Hate crime!

Fat-shaming: The character of Monica is played by the rail-thin Courtney Cox, but part of the show’s backstory depicts her as being obese in college. Baxter-Wright is shocked at the “fat-shaming” and “size-ism” on display here. 

Sexism: “Joey Tribbiani objectifies women.” I should have caught this one, really. Joey is consistently depicted as a not-too-bright-but-good-looking Italian stallion. He does indeed “objectify women”. 

So she’s right about Joey. Baxter-Wright, with the typical dour humorlessness of the ideologue, misses the bigger joke here, though: Joey is also depicted as a deeply flawed character throughout the show. When Joey constantly makes leering references to women, the show’s scriptwriters are making fun of Joey

But such subtleties are lost on culture warriors. Likewise, Baxter-Wright goes into her tsk-tsk virtue-signaling routine over a Friends episode in which Ross assumes that a male nanny must be gay. 

This episode is funny—not because it makes fun of gay men, or male nannies—but because it pokes fun at Ross’s conformity and insecurities.

Baxter-Wright observes, “Joey and Ross can’t seem to share a hug without saying ‘no homo’ or questioning their sexuality.” She’s largely right about this, too, but she misses the point, and who is actually the butt of the joke.

Young heterosexual Gen X men (I was one of them) did have contradictory attitudes about sex and sexuality. Let’s be forthright about that. Most of us considered ourselves open-minded…to a point. 

We knew that Freddie Mercury was gay, and we suspected as much about the lead singer of Judas Priest (who would come out in 1998). If explicitly asked, in 1988 or 1995, the vast majority of us would have said that being gay was perfectly okay…for other people. At the same time, though, we all went out of our way— whenever any hint of the question arose—to let you know that we weren’t gay. “No homo”, in other words.

This insecurity was symptomatic of coming of age between the freewheeling 1960s and the conservative 1980s. Gen Xers (again, I am one) were raised in a cultural environment of mixed messages—about everything from gender roles and virginity, to same-sex relationships. (Admittedly, few of us thought much about transgenderism back then.) 

Mixed messages lead to insecurities, because you’re torn between competing ideas. Those insecurities provide endless comedic fodder, and Friends capitalized on this. 

Yes, sometimes making fun of homophobia means depicting homophobia. And not only in the frowning tone of a scold. It’s called satire. Satire, by its very nature, is designed to probe areas that make us uncomfortable.

The tendency of woke young Millennials, though, is to see a naughty word, or an uncomfortable scenario, and immediately reach for the censor’s pen. 

I wish I didn’t have to be so hard on Millennials about this, but I can’t help doing so. Millennials will eventually be running our society, after all. That makes me wonder about the future of free expression in the West. 

And finally, Baxter-Wright notes: “Joey and Chandler are grossed out by breast milk.”

I don’t know quite what to do with that one. But again, I ask: Is the joke here on breast milk, or is the joke on two young adult men who can’t keep their cool when confronted by a perfectly normal aspect of human biology?

Dusty Baxter-Wright wraps up with the following assessment:

“Come the end of the programme, four of the six main characters were ‘coupled-with-children’, the fifth was ‘coupled up’ and the sixth character acknowledged that ‘coupled-with-children’ was the end goal. Considering the breath of opportunities and differences there are between six real human beings, this seems ridiculous and narrow minded.”

Egads—and you thought I was engaging in shrill, farfetched sarcasm in some of the preceding paragraphs. Most twentysomethings in the 1990s did seek to be coupled with children. What the heck is wrong with that?

Fellow Gen X-ers: Consider this fair warning: Friends is still airing on cable in reruns only because legions of woke young Millennials and Zoomers haven’t yet learned what it contains. Their older ideological allies, meanwhile, have forgotten, or they’re busy protesting Trump.

But they’ll get back to Friends, in due time.

If you’re still enjoying Friends in reruns, you’d better hoard those episodes on a secure hard drive somewhere. It’s only a matter of time before watching Friends becomes yet another form of thoughtcrime, in this brave, new, woke world of ours. 

What if impeachment fails?

CNN has been leading with pro-impeachment stories every day. Today’s grandiose headline:

“Trump impeachment hearings will echo through the ages”

Can you tell they’re excited? Can’t you practically hear the orchestra music playing in the background?

To people of a certain mindset, this is D-Day, Woodstock, and the release day of the latest iPhone, all rolled into one.

And they’ve been working on this for a long time—literally since before Trump took office. (Does anyone still remember that Unite for America video, in which a bunch of fading celebrities publicly asked the Electoral College to overturn the 2016 election?)

Then there were all the conspiracy theories: Trump, the porn star, and the campaign funds. Trump the Manchurian candidate, who takes orders from the Kremlin, via a secret transmitter in Trump Tower.

They’ve basically been going with the kitchen sink approach. Put it all out there. Be creative. Throw enough spaghetti at the wall, and some of it is bound to stick.

And finally, they’ve found some spaghetti that will stick—sorta. This Ukraine business.

Or maybe not. I’ve also read some reports suggesting that impeachment will be “dead on arrival” in the Senate.

There are millions of voters who don’t particularly like President Trump. (I’ll be honest with you: Trump was far from my first choice; and I’m a Republican.)

But for a certain kind of voter, the removal of Donald Trump, the Resistance, is an obsession. Like John Hinckley Jr.’s obsession with Jodie Foster, in 1981.

What’s going to happen, then, if it doesn’t work this time? And what will happen—brace yourself—if Donald Trump is reelected in 2020?

We’re going to have a national mental health crisis on our hands. That’s what. I have no doubt that some of those people on Twitter will literally self-combust on November 4, 2020, if Donald Trump wins reelection.

But then, what will they do with themselves if he loses? If you’ve spent the last four years tweeting anti-Trump messages for four or five hours per day, what do you do with yourself when suddenly, Trump is gone?

Spend more time on your hobbies? These people have no other hobbies.

I suspect that they’ll continue to tweet about President Trump even after he’s gone. Some of them will still be resisting Trump in 2024 and 2028.

Obsessions can be difficult to break—or to resist, to use their language. Just ask John Hinckley Jr.

Children’s songs and the culture police

Writing in the Gen subsection of Medium.com, progressive finger-wagger Dr. Katya Ermolaeva bemoans “blackface minstrel songs” like “Jimmy Crack Corn” and “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” as racist

“The removal of racist songs from school music programs is long overdue,” Dr. Ermolaeva goes on to declare. “The Camptown Races” is turning white American children into aspiring Nazis and Klansmen, apparently. The argument seems to be that at one point (in the 1800s) some of these songs may have been employed by minstrel singers. 

This is part of a larger progressive project to go over our culture with a fine-tooth comb, and look for pretexts for offense. Their method is to constantly ratchet up the bar of sensitivity, so that you can never really be sure if you’re in violation of their latest cultural diktats.

This isn’t limited to children’s music. Earlier this year, Nike nixed the planned release of a Betsy Ross shoe because Colin Kaepernick denounced the Betsy Ross flag  as (you guessed it) racist. That same flag appeared at Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009.

The “wokeness” of the privileged on display

In almost every case, kerfuffles like this are more about virtue-signaling “wokeness” than any material harm done to African Americans, or anyone else. This sort of cultural nitpicking is invariably the concern of the privileged. Dr. Ermolaeva is a white music educator. Colin Kaepernick is wealthy NFL player. 

Obviously, no one is oppressed by the Betsy Ross Flag. No one is oppressed by “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad”, either. 

Intention and context

When judging whether or not something is “racist”, intention and context count.

If someone is standing on the corner waving a Confederate flag and shouting racist slogans, then clearly there are racist intentions behind the Confederate flag. The flag is being displayed in a racist context.

If the Confederate flag appears on the cover of a book about the Civil War, however, then the intentions probably aren’t racist. Nor is the context.

(Speaking of context: “Jimmy Crack Corn” is a slave’s cryptic celebration of the master’s death. It can arguably be construed as a song of liberation, of striking back at the oppressor.)

But those concerns are for ideological adults–not children. I remember singing most of the songs Ermolaeva condemns in kindergarten, or during my early primary school years. They were just songs, and there was nothing racial about the context in which they were performed.

The end game of the culture police

Leftwing ideologues like Ermolaeva and Kaepernick aren’t concerned with intention and context. The immediate goal of these self-appointed culture nannies is to ding you on a technicality. They want you to be constantly on edge, to constantly wonder if you’re being racist, or sexist, or ableist, or homophobic, or whatever.

And guess who will be the judge of that? They will. Their ultimate goal is to subject every aspect of our culture and history to a revolutionary dialectic.  

There is something oddly Soviet about their methods. (Ermolaeva, I might note, specializes in Soviet music; and Kaepernick has expressed admiration for Castroite Cuba. )  As was the case in Soviet Russia, in their universe, everything is political–even “Jimmy Crack Corn”.

Just say: NO

We need to tell them that we’re having none of it. Tell them “NO”, clearly and firmly. And without shame.  Do not apologize. 

Or, as the refrain goes, “Jimmy crack corn, and I don’t care.”

Linux and leftwing ideology

The programmer Charles Max Wood has been officially disinvited from all future Linux Foundation events. 

The reason? There is a public photo of him in front of the Trump Tower in NYC, wearing  a MAGA hat.

The chief instigator behind Wood’s banning was programmer/ professional race-baiter Kim Crayton. Crayton’s tweets indicate that she is a militant hater:

The leadership of the Linux Foundation is aware of Kim Crayton’s hateful rhetoric, of course. How could they not be?

But just as leftwing media outlets rushed to the defense of the emotionally unstable Sarah Jeong last year, Kim Crayton is now getting a pass, too. The Linux Foundation is not judging her by anything close to the yardstick they have applied to Charles Max Wood. 

The Linux Foundation has now established two irreconcilable and contradictory precedents: On one hand, you can be banned from their group for being a Republican, but on the other hand, you can refer to entire demographic as “shit” with their blessing.

The obvious difference here, of course, is that Kim Crayton (like Sarah Jeong) is a woman of color. Charles Max Wood is a white guy. 

Linux Foundation president Linus Torvalds is, of course, a white guy himself. While politics is not his primary concern, Torvalds is also a self-styled progressive.

There is a certain kind of progressive who simply won’t challenge a woman of color (especially an African American woman) under any circumstances. Agreeing with all African American women–no matter what–is among their primary methods of virtue–signaling. 

We see that dynamic at work here. The Linux Foundation is giving Crayton a pass for her hate speech because she’s black and female. Is there another reason? You’re going to have to get pretty creative to make that case. 

Double standards of this kind obviously harm white males like Charles Max Wood. But this also does African American women no favor. Just as contemporary white men are now taking the rap for racism that occurred decades before they were born, Kim Crayton’s conduct will, in the minds of some, reflect poorly on African American women as a whole.

And that would be a shame. Most black women aren’t racist assholes like Kim Crayton. She speaks for herself, and no one else. 

OK, Boomer

The media has been doing somersaults of glee (as have the folks on Twitter) over 25 year-old Chlöe Swarbrick’s retort in a New Zealand parliamentary session (“Ok, Boomer”). Ms. Swarbrick was advocating a Zero Carbon Bill, when an older politician expressed strong and vocal disagreement. The phrase “OK, Boomer” has since become an Internet meme.

There is a lot wrapped up in this: climate change, generational conflict, and more. I won’t attempt to untangle it all here, but I do have a few quick remarks/observations:

  1. It seems to me that young climate activists conveniently ignore the pollution that occurs on a truly epic scale in places like India, China, and Iran. I mean, seriously: When is Greta Thunberg going to lecture the people of New Delhi about “stealing her future”? What young climate activists mostly want to do is shame Western restaurant patrons about plastic sporks. That’s why I don’t take them seriously.
  2. “Baby Boomer” is not a synonym for “conservative”. The Baby Boomers were the original moonbat lefties, otherwise known as the hippies.
  3. It was, though, the Baby Boomers who coined the phrase, “Don’t trust anyone over 30” back in the 1960s. So perhaps this is a form of cosmic justice at work. Bad ideas often come back to bite you.
  4. Millennials and Zoomers frequently lump everyone who is “kinda old” into the Baby Boomer category. In many cases, they’re actually addressing a member of Generation X, born between 1965 and 1979.

The Bloomberg factor

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is hinting that he may join the 2020 Democratic fray.

Bloomberg’s reasoning? Read the CNN article. The ex-mayor doesn’t want to see another Trump administration, but he realizes that the current Democratic lineup is a pack of losers (and that’s putting it kindly).

I’m inclined to think that Bloomberg could give Trump a run for his money in the 2020 general election.

Before that, though, we must ask: Would Bloomberg be moonbat radical enough for the Democratic Party of 2019?

I’m inclined to think not…

The whistleblower should testify

Donald Trump has demanded that the whistleblower behind the Ukraine allegations be identified and required to testify, if the impeachment proceedings are to move forward.

Trump is not alone. Rand Paul has made the same demands

This is something you should want, regardless of whether you love Trump or hate him.

I’m going to tell you why.

At least half the country believes that the impeachment process is a scam, a nakedly partisan attempt to remove Trump from office by non-electoral means. 

This belief is not entirely unfounded. The progressive project of overturning the results of Election Day 2016 began before Trump even took office.

Remember that Unite For America video, in which a group of leftwing celebrities basically asked the Electoral College to check the stupidity of all the simpletons living in the Red States? Trump hadn’t yet been sworn in, and they were already trying to “impeach” him.

Then the Democrats attempted to sink Trump with the allegations of an aging porn star. That didn’t work. 

Then the long and expensive Russia hearings. The Democrats failed to prove that Donald Trump was the Manchurian candidate of the Kremlin.

Now they’re hoping that this Ukraine thing will stick. Well, we’ll see. 

But given the “kitchen sink approach” that the Democrats and other leftwing elements have taken since the 2016 election, you can forgive us all for being a little skeptical. 

Name the whistleblower. Let the whistleblower testify. Make everyone believe the truth–if that is indeed what this is. 

“But what about…??!!”

But what about the dangers to the whistleblower’s safety?

The government has ways of protecting people. The government protects people who testify against the mafia, for goodness sake. If there is a credible threat against the safety of the whistleblower (and there may indeed be, in the current political environment), then the government can protect him or her until things quiet down.

“But the whistleblower’s life will never be the same again!”

Perhaps. But what about the “normal life” of John Dean, who testified in the Watergate hearings in the mid-1970s?

Or, to pick a more recent impeachment process: What about Monica Lewinksy, Linda Tripp, and Paula Jones? They were all identified in the Clinton impeachment process of 1998.

Monica Lewinsky is one of the most widely recognized people in the world, as a result of her part in the Clinton impeachment process, more than 20 years ago now. Almost anyone who was old enough to remember all that would instantly recognize her in public. 

But notoriety–both good and bad–is often the price of participation in historic events. 

A whistleblower whose life was forever changed…

No secret trials

Clinton deserved his day in court, with full transparency. So did Nixon.

So does President Trump.

America is not (or at least, America should not be) a country of secret trials and hearings. Every American–including the President of the United States–has the right to face his or her accuser.

Let the whistleblower be named. Let the whistleblower testify.

And let the chips fall where they may.

Healthcare and the general election

We are one year out from the 2020 US presidential election. (So now would be a good time to visit Alpha Centauri, in advance of all that.) 

Writing in New York Magazine, Jonathan Chait reveals how the Democratic Party is determined to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory:  

Almost two-thirds of the people who supported Trump in 2016, and then a Democrat in the 2018 midterms, plan to vote for Trump again in 2020.


Perhaps some of that movement represents a desire by voters to check Trump’s power and restore divided government. But the poll contains substantial evidence that Trump’s party lost the midterms for the hoary yet true reason that Republicans took unpopular positions, especially on health care, and ceded the center. Rather than learn the lesson, Democrats instead appear intent on ceding it right back to them.

Jonathan Chait, NYMag

This is shaping up like 1988 all over again. In 1988 the Democrats ran a leftwing ideologue (Michael Dukakis) and got creamed in the general election.

The Democrats have genuine opportunities to make a centrist appeal in 2020. But the Democratic Party of 2019 isn’t much interested in the sensible center.

Take healthcare, for example…

Many Americans (myself included) fault the GOP for failing to do anything—after three years in power— to make health care more affordable. (The GOP too often takes the position that until a problem affects a substantial number of millionaires, it isn’t really a problem.) 

In my county in Ohio, there are two insurance providers in the private, individual healthcare plan market. There should be a dozen—given that everyone needs health insurance. 

Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, the two leading candidates of the Democratic Party, have both proposed a government takeover of private health insurance.

This is Soviet-style central planning. The “Medicare for all” proposal amounts to little more than a redux of policies that were tried unsuccessfully throughout the twentieth century, in various places. 

Our healthcare system sucks today. It will really suck if we turn it over to the federal government. 

So what do we need?

What we need is something akin to the federal government’s breakup of the Bell System in the early 1980s. 

Prior to 1982, there was a widespread recognition that a market failure had occurred in the long distance telephone service market. The government responded by restructuring the market to make it more competitive. 

The government didn’t try to take over phone service. Very important!

Our health insurance ills could be fixed by either a Democrat or a Republican with a knowledge of economics. But the Republicans aren’t practicing economics nowadays, and the Democrats don’t seem to grasp the basics of that dismal science.

The impeachment endgame

Trump’s removal may backfire on the Democrats

 

If we can believe even half of the news surrounding the impeachment proceedings, there is a 50-50 chance that the Democrats will succeed in removing Donald Trump from the White House, long before Election Day 2020.

This has been a long time in coming. The progressive project to defeat Donald Trump by means outside the electoral process began in the weeks after Election Day 2016. 

You might remember that December 2016 video from Unite for America—a pretentious name for a band of leftwing celebrities that included Martin Sheen, Mike Farrell, Loretta Swit, and others. (The video was notably posted on YouTube with both comments and user ratings disabled.) 

Basically, the celebs tried to convince the members of the Electoral College to use their power to overturn the results of the 2016 Election. 

That didn’t work, of course.

After President Trump took office, the focus switched to building a case for impeachment. The left floated various conspiracy theories. They adopted a kitchen sink approach—relying at one point on the testimony of an aging porn star from the 1990s. 

The most persistent of these boondoggles was the ruse that Donald Trump was a twenty-first century Manchurian candidate, secretly controlled by the Kremlin. The current impeachment scheme also hinges on a country of the former USSR—Ukraine, this time.

But perhaps the Ukraine narrative will succeed where the Russia narrative failed. 

What happens then? Well, what happens then may not necessarily benefit the Democratic Party in 2020.

Opposition to the person of Donald Trump has become an all-consuming obsession on the left. If there is anything that can bring out the Democratic voters on Election Day 2020, it won’t be enthusiasm for Elizabeth Warren or Joe Biden. But the frothing hatred of Donald Trump has real motive force, for a certain kind of American.

If that goes away, then the Democrats have to run against…Mike Pence, in all likelihood. Running against Mike Pence would be like running against potato salad.

Sure, potato salad is boring; but how are you going to rally the troops around an opposition to potato salad?

On the other hand, it is unlikely that the Democratic Party will be able to choose a candidate that unites any real plurality of their party’s base.

The comparatively moderate Joe Biden represents what the Democratic Party was a generation ago. Also, he’s prone to public gaffes. Biden has already gotten himself in hot water over off-the-cuff remarks about race; and this is even before the 2020 contest begins in earnest. 

For a while Pete Buttigieg, a married gay man who served with the United States Navy in Afghanistan, seemed like the progressives’ wet dream. Then it was discovered that Buttigieg, for all his gayness, is insufficiently woke in regard to race. (As mayor of South Bend, Buttigieg fired an African American police chief.) 

What about Elizabeth Warren? Warren has repeatedly tried to talk like a socialist, without actually embracing the term, as Bernie Sanders does. That is sure to inflame the radical left fringe of her party. And that radical fringe is increasingly vocal and influential.

Warren’s cynical, apocryphal claims of Native American heritage are also sure to be contentious. This, combined with her privileged background in Ivy League academia, would cast her as a carpetbagger within the Democratic Party if she were to become the eventual nominee. Think about all the more qualified candidates of color she pushed aside in order to get there, her opponents will say.

These differences can possibly be overlooked by the Democratic base, so long as Donald Trump remains installed in the White House as Sauron, the Dark Lord of Mordor. But take away Donald Trump, and you’ll remove what is the Democrats’ greatest (and perhaps only) real source of unity.

But Donald Trump is a real source of disunity within the GOP. The “never Trump” faction of the Republican Party never really went away. There are millions of GOP voters who would like to see the slate wiped clean with the removal of Donald Trump in 2020. Then, they figure, they can start fresh in 2024 with a more conventional Republican candidate.

But a premature removal of Donald Trump through an impeachment process will likely bring the GOP together. It will appear to most Republicans that the Democrats removed Donald Trump from office by what amounts to a coup. That won’t be too far from the mark. 

And while Mike Pence may be potato salad, there are virtually no Republicans who will find him  objectionable. With Trump out of the picture and Pence at the helm, Republican voters will then be able to unite against the prospect of an Elizabeth Warren or a Kamala Harris presidency.

Progressives have a way of overlooking the Law of Unintended Consequences. We see this most often in the field of economics, the prime example being rent controls that make housing unaffordable in cities like San Francisco. 

The Law of Unintended Consequences applies in politics, too. By railroading Donald Trump out of office without a fair fight, the Democratic Party may be setting itself up for an Election Day debacle. 

Sometimes it really is possible to win the battle and lose the war. The Democrats may learn this the hard way next November. 

Why President Trump was booed at the World Series

It should have been a moment to bring us together: the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on October 26. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was behind multiple terrorist attacks in the West, and immeasurable human suffering in the Muslim Middle East.

But the world will thankfully hear no more from him. When cornered by U.S. forces, al-Baghdadi self-detonated his suicide vest.

Ding, dong, the witch is dead. Right? 

Well, not quite. These are crazy times we’re living in.

President and First Lady Trump attended a World Series game over the weekend. At one point during the game, the audience was asked to acknowledge the bravery and success of the U.S. military. They had, after all, just taken out our worst enemy since Osama Bin Laden.

The reaction from the crowd was…mixed.

The crowd did applaud the soldiers (for the most part); but when an image of President Trump appeared on the video screen, much of the crowd booed.

Then there were shouts of “Lock him up!” from the stands. This was a reference to the partisan impeachment campaign, which has proceeded, in one form or another, since before Trump even took office.

What the heck is wrong with this picture? Can’t people let go of politics for the span of a World Series game? Can’t they put partisan rancor aside so we can do a collective victory lap around the corpse of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi?

Apparently not.

Our current situation is bizarre, from the perspective of anyone old enough to remember saner times in America. But the reasons for the boos and the angry chants—in what should have been a moment of unity—aren’t hard to assess:

Why hatred of Trump trumped the death of al-Baghdadi

1.) The culture war 

Most Americans are now more suspicious of other Americans than any enemies abroad. The culture war is now our primary war.

The right believes that the left wants to destroy America. The left believes that the right wants to turn America into a fascist state.

2.) War on Terror fatigue

Most Americans genuinely believe that ISIS and other Islamic radicals are awful folks. But Americans have a notoriously short attention span.

9/11, moreover, was 18 years ago. Americans under the age of 30 have only dim memories of the day  the World Trade Center towers fell.

Americans under the age of 25 don’t really remember it at all.

An entire generation has now grown up with the War on Terror as a constant reality. They see it as a bad thing, surely, but also a bad thing that they’ve taken for granted all their lives.

I can understand their apathy—to a point. By the time I was born in 1968, the threat of nuclear annihilation was already a constant. I thought about it; but I probably didn’t think about it nearly as much as that first generation of Baby Boomers, who were forced to undergo the duck-and-cover drills in the early 1950s. (These drills had long since been discontinued by the time I started school in the mid-1970s.)

3.) Opposition to President Trump is the only thing that truly unites the political left

Watch the Democratic debates, and you’ll see that there is little that unites the Democratic Party—except a loathing of Trump.

The Democrats aren’t united on economics. Some Democrats want to be Bernie Sanders-style socialists. They want Marxism now.

Other Democrats want to follow the moderate and historically successful model of Bill Clinton and the New Democrats. They want Joe Biden.

The Democratic Party is hopelessly divided by identity politics, too: Notice that Cory Booker, whose campaign is flailing, has attempted to exploit gender politics by promising to look to “women first” for his running mate.

It really is all about checking boxes with this crowd. The problem is: There is little to unite the squabbling parties represented by those boxes. The interests of Ilhan Omar’s radical Islamic allies obviously collide with the interests of LGBTQ Americans. Many traditional Muslims want gender-segregated swimming pools. (This has already become a major source of contention in Sweden and Germany.) Some LGBTQ activists, on the other hand, want genderless restrooms.

Like those two agendas are compatible.

Low-wage whites and African Americans are not served in the labor market by the open borders ideology of La Raza—now rebranded as UnidosUS. And older white Democrats are already learning where they stand in the young, hip, militantly diverse Democratic Party of 2020.

But what do they all agree on?

They can all agree that they despise Donald Trump. Whether they support Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, or Kamala Harris, everyone left of John Kasich agrees on this point.

Ironically, Donald Trump is more of a unifying force for the Democrats than he is for the Republicans. For the GOP, he’s long been a source of intraparty division: the MAGA crowd vs the never-Trumpers.

For the Democrats, Trump is what brings the party together.

It’s 1861 all over again

We should therefore not be completely surprised that President Trump was booed by a portion of the World Series crowd. Imagine if Abraham Lincoln had attended a World Series game in 1861, on the eve of the Civil War. He would have been booed by a portion of the crowd, too.

(I’m not suggesting that Trump is the second coming of Lincoln, by the way; but our nation seems almost as divided now as it was in 1861.)

At least we can be grateful that the crowd cheered the U.S. service personnel who voluntarily put themselves in harm’s way to track down awful men like Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

But who knows when even that grudging degree of unity will become a casualty of America’s culture wars?

Technology and the voluntary loss of privacy

This is bigger than Katie Hill…

A certain politician from California has been in the hot seat of late because of embarrassing revelations of a highly personal nature. 

Katie Hill, a freshman representative from California, has recently seen her private life aired on the Internet, from The Daily Mail to Twitter… 

And what a colorful private life it is, apparently. Say what you will about Representative Hill and her politics, but she isn’t boring and she isn’t a prude. 

This naturally raises a lot of questions: Should a politician’s sex life be an issue, so long as they aren’t breaking any laws or violating anyone’s rights? Can a politician who leads an unconventional sex life govern effectively?

Politics tends to attract horndogs of both sexes, irrespective of ideology: Consider the examples of Bill Clinton, JFK, and Donald Trump.

Further back in history, consider Catherine the Great and King David. 

That isn’t the angle I want to consider, though. 

I grew up in the 1980s. Back then, unless you were a famous person, most of what you said and did simply wasn’t documented.

Photographs existed, obviously. But individual photos had to be developed, usually at a Fotomat. And since they also had to be printed out on paper, there was a cost associated with them. 

“Instant cameras”, with self-developing film, enjoyed a period of popularity in the 1970s and 1980s. But the film was expensive, and the photo quality wasn’t very good. 

Because of such negative cost and convenience factors, people tended to take photos only when it was an “event”: a birthday celebration, a school play, a family portrait, etc. I won’t go so far as to say that having your photo taken was a big deal in the 1980s, but yes…it was kind of a big deal. It didn’t happen every day, for the average person. 

As a result, most of what you said and did died in the moment. There wasn’t this minute-by-minute record of your life that we have now. 

Those technologically primitive times had their benefits. Suppose that you said something dumb, or you did something that pushed a few boundaries. Unless it was really over the top, it was quickly forgotten. 

Which is, I would suggest, the way it should be.

Katie Hill certainly didn’t want her private photos published on the Internet. Her reasonable expectations of privacy were violated. Let’s be unequivocal about that. 

But the vast majority of the photos which came to light were clearly posed. This strongly implies that she consented to them being taken. 

This, in itself, represents a major lapse in judgment. Why, pray tell, would anyone consent to a naked photo of oneself, smoking from a bong, with an iron cross tattoo plainly visible near one’s pubic region?

We’ve bought into the notion that every moment of our lives needs to be Instagrammed, Facebooked, and selfied. Perhaps this is mass vanity, or perhaps this has just become a habit. Either way, it’s what we’re all doing. 

And this isn’t just the Millennials and the GenZers. I have friends in their forties and fifties who seemingly can’t go out to dinner without taking a half-dozen photos of themselves and uploading them to Facebook. 

Look at us, and what a happy couple we are, having a fancy meal out on the town!

More of our lives needs to remain private. But our private lives especially need to remain private. 

How do you define “private”? Here’s a rule of thumb: Don’t consent to any photo of yourself that you wouldn’t want posted on the homepage of The Daily Mail. Because as Katie Hill now knows, that may very well happen. 

Was Katie Hill a victim of “revenge porn”?

Despite yesterday’s admittedly tongue-in-cheek post about Representative Katie Hill’s troubles, serious questions remain. Among these is: Was Representative Hill the victim of “revenge porn”?

The compromising photos of Hill were originally published by Redstate, a rightwing news website. (Katie Hill is a liberal Democrat who is involved in the partisan impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump.) Although the details are murky, there is some evidence that Hill’s estranged husband leaked the photos.

I’m not an attorney, but there are commonsense standards about these things. I would say that Representative Hill’s reasonable expectations of privacy have certainly been violated.

I would also say that Hill is a politician, and to be involved in politics at any time has meant that your personal life will be subjected to intense scrutiny. It comes with the territory.

And no—this doesn’t only apply to politically liberal Millennial women who enter politics. Grover Cleveland’s bid for the White House was almost sunk by a sexual scandal in 1884. Cleveland was accused of fathering a child out of wedlock, no small matter in those times. Cleveland’s Republican opponents used to chant, “Ma, Ma, where’s my Pa? Gone to the White House, hah, hah, hah!”

Even monarchs are not exempt. George IV, the profligate son of George III (the one who lost the American colonies—sorry about that, British readers) was a notorious womanizer and glutton. He was often lampooned by the press, and satirized by political cartoonists of his day. 

So while we can argue that Katie Hill’s reasonable expectations of privacy were violated, this is really nothing new for a politician. Politics in the modern era have always been rough-and-tumble. 

And as we all know, these are very political times. Katie Hill defeated a Republican incumbent in 2018. Republicans are thin on the ground in California—and even scarcer in government. Are you shocked that some right-leaning media outlets would utilize compromising photos of Hill in order to potentially unseat her? You shouldn’t be, if you’re aware of the history of these things.

That said, it doesn’t appear (at present, anyway), that Katie Hill violated any laws. I’m not sure what the implications are of her having a sexual relationship with a staffer. But it would  be no worse than Bill Clinton’s peccadillos with Monica Lewinsky during the 1990s. 

As for the menage-a-trois and (apparent) wife-swapping stuff: This is  unconventional, but I’m not sure it’s completely unprecedented.

I was raised Roman Catholic during the 1970s and 1980s, with strong Irish influences. I therefore grew up with the image of John F. Kennedy as a saintlike figure. Kennedy used to go skinny-dipping with two White House interns, nicknamed Fiddle and Faddle. (And this is only one example of many.)

This knowledge of Kennedy’s excesses doesn’t change my view of him as a great president…though it does make me a trifle jealous.

Catherine the Great, one of the most successful and progressive rulers of czarist Russia, had a very colorful sex life. For one thing, Catherine had an eye for younger men. And as Catherine grew older, her male lovers became younger and younger. Make of that what you will. 

Katie Hill’s real problem is that she allowed so much of her private life to be documented in electronic form. Most of the surfaced photos are posed, which suggests that Hill consented to them, or at least acquiesced to them.

I’ve railed against social media at length in this space, and I need not repeat that entire spiel yet again. But here we see another downside of the obsession with Instagramming and selfie-ing every moment of one’s life. Why would anyone (regardless of their political aspirations, or lack thereof) consent to a nude photo of themselves, toking from a bong? To have an unconventional sex life might merely make one interesting. To record it in pixels is just stupid. 

As a rule of thumb, you should never submit to any photo of yourself that you wouldn’t want published on the homepage of the Daily Mail. Because—as Katie Hill now knows—this may very well happen someday.

Likewise, be careful what you text: Always discuss sensitive matters verbally, never in writing. While voice calls can be recorded, this requires more effort and preplanning. Texting and email, on the other hand, leave electronic records by default. 

And if you really want to be careful, restrict your discussions of private matters to face-to-face discussions. People do still communicate without the aid of electronics, you know. 

Never assume that anything said or done via  a computer, a cell phone, or the Internet is private. As we see yet again, nothing is truly private when these wonderful new technologies are involved.

Kinky Katie

Never let it be said that Rep. Katie Hill (Dem-CA) is boring. She’s been engaging in a throuple relationship with her hubby and a staffer, and she’s been involved in some wife-swapping stuff, too… and there’s a Nazi Iron Cross tattoo near her pubic region, and she smokes funny brown stuff in some kind of a bong….

Whew! There is simply too much to catalogue here. I only have so much space on the server.  I refer the reader to the full story on The Daily Mail.

(While you’re looking at that, I’m going to fan myself and have a sip of iced tea. )

Hill, 32, reportedly ran “the most Millennial campaign ever” when elected in 2018. (Translation: She relied heavily on social media.) A Millennial governing style, as well, I see!

Hill is involved in the impeachment investigations of Donald Trump. I have full confidence in Representative Hill’s role in this important Constitutional process. Thus far, she has shown the utmost maturity and sound judgment. 

Life’s a bitch…and then you die and go to Massachusetts

Politicians in Massachusetts are hotly debating a bill that would officially ban the word “bitch” in the Bay State, with prison time for repeated offenders:

The legislation titled “An Act regarding the use of offensive words,” states: “A person who uses the word ‘bitch’ directed at another person to accost, annoy, degrade or demean the other person shall be considered to be a disorderly person.” Penalties for a disorderly conduct conviction include a $150 fine for a first offense and $200 or 6 months in prison for subsequent offenses.

The Boston Herald

That 1993 movie Demolition Man was more prophetic than we thought at the time. Remember the film’s famous “verbal morality code”? 

21st century reality imitating 1990s science fiction…and not in a good way.

Victoria’s Secret, Men’s Health, and liking what we like

The Victoria’s Secret brand is under fire. In an era of dogmatic gender neutrality, expressions of the overtly feminine or the explicitly masculine now “problematic”. 

The annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, which had been held for years, has been cancelled this time around amid various “controversies”, including—most curiously—“allegations of cultural appropriation”. 

So Victoria’s Secret has made a concerted effort to become more “woke” as a brand. To walk in the footsteps of Nike, one supposes. 

Among other changes, the company has recently hired plus-size and transgender models. 

But this may be too little, too late. The mere acknowledgment of gender has become synonymous with hate speech in some quarters. So the acknowledgement of the specifically beautiful or the specifically feminine must be hate speech, too.

Men’s Health and idealized masculinity

But wait a minute…I’m just a guy! Who am I to even be talking about this in the first place?

Okay, fair enough. Let’s not talk about Victoria’s Secret. Let’s talk about….Men’s Health

Men’s Health was launched in 1987. It has the widest circulation of any magazine brand produced for a specifically male readership. 

Men’s Health is a bit like Cosmopolitan for guys. Topics covered in Men’s Health include fitness, nutrition, career advancement, and sexuality. 

You’ve no doubt seen those Men’s Health covers in the supermarket. Those guys with the washboard abs, those rippling “six-packs”.

Why put incredibly fit guys on the cover a fitness magazine aimed at men?

Because Men’s Health is selling aspirations, that’s why. 

I’ll never be a Men’s Health cover model.

It’s true. I’ve been working out for more than 30 years. I’m not obese. I’m actually in pretty good shape. But that’s a relative term. I definitely do not have that much sought-after six-pack. 

I realize, furthermore, that I’ll probably never have a six-pack. 

Would it be impossible for me? Who knows? I suspect, however, that my genes and my endomorphic body type are conspiring against me. No matter how many sit-ups I do, or how meticulously I count my carbs, I have my limits. 

Sylvester Stallone—literally my dad’s age—still has a better body at seventy-three than I do at fifty-one. What’s up with that?

Here’s the hard truth: I’m never going to fulfill the Men’s Health ideal. 

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Welcome to CANNES!

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Old enough to be my dad…still in better shape than me….

So why don’t I protest?

Nevertheless, you won’t find me protesting outside the magazine’s headquarters, badgering Men’s Health to be more “inclusive”. 

I understand (as anyone with common sense would) that men who don’t meet the Men’s Health ideal aren’t banned from reading the magazine. In fact, I would suspect that the majority of Men’s Health readers don’t meet the Men’s Health ideal.

Just look at those guys on the cover. Now ask yourself: Does the average man in the suburbs look like that with his shirt off?

I sure don’t.

The purpose of benchmarks is to inspire.

Ideals—or benchmarks—exist for a reason: They give us something to aspire to. When I’m working out in the gym, I prefer to be surrounded by guys who are more fit than I am. They give me a standard to compete against. 

Men’s Health would experience a dramatic drop in sales if men like me were featured on the cover. This bothers me not at all. I’m not exactly chopped liver, but I’m not some idealized adonis of an alpha male, either. 

So what?

Cosmopolitan and feminine aspiration

If men have their aspirational masculinity, well, women have long pursued a version of aspirational femininity, too.

Let’s revisit Cosmopolitan. The magazine has pretty much always been under female management. When Helen Gurley Brown became chief editor of Cosmopolitan in 1965, it was a boring, indistinguishable copycat of Reader’s Digest. Brown refocused the magazine on single career women and their concerns. 

You probably don’t know any men who read Cosmopolitan. But your husband or your boyfriend almost certainly notices the covers when he’s in the grocery store buying shaving supplies or a pound of sirloin. The women on Cosmopolitan covers are predictably beautiful, and often scantily clad. Most men would like to sleep with a Cosmopolitan cover model.

And ladies, you aren’t exempt from this sort of thing: I would be willing to bet that there are also a few women out there who have favorably noticed the models on Men’s Health, even if they have no interest in articles with titles like, “Perfect steaks, pool sex + energy drinks explained.”

We aspire to the ideal of the opposite sex.

Is it “patriarchal” for Cosmopolitan—a magazine run by women, targeted at women, to promote an image of femininity that men find attractive? 

When Men’s Health promotes an image of the masculine that women find attractive, are they openly discriminating against the “average” guy?

No—and no. Both magazines are giving their readers exactly what they want. 

Here’s a politically incorrect, but unavoidable truth: Most of us seek to meet the ideals of the opposite sex. Very early in life, we identify the attributes that the opposite sex finds attractive, and we say, “I want to be like that! I want attention from the opposite sex! Gimme that!”

Yes, I realize that there are exceptions. Some of us are gay—or transgendered. Nothing wrong with that, if that’s the way you’re wired up.

But most of us aren’t wired up that way. The vast majority of us are heterosexual and cisgendered. 

And so what do we aspire to, for our own self-image? We aspire to what the opposite sex finds attractive. 

This is why Men’s Health, a magazine for straight men, has photos of hunky guys on its covers. This is why Cosmopolitan covers feature women who could have stepped out of the pages of Playboy.

We like what we like. 

Let’s break this down to brass tacks: Most women are more attracted to tall guys with muscles over short guys with beer guts. Most men are more attracted to traditional lingerie models than women who are obese…or women who possess male genitalia. 

That’s just the way it is. 

Why should this be controversial? This is normal human sexuality. Everyone grasps this. It’s common sense. But political correctness specializes in subverting common sense.

The limits of inclusion

Here’s another politically incorrect truth: Not everything in our culture has to celebrate everyone. Not everything is going to be completely “inclusive”. 

Not all of us are model material. As I’ve already admitted, putting a shirtless photo of me on the cover of Men’s Health wouldn’t be a great marketing strategy for the magazine.

Victoria’s Secret isn’t “the patriarchy”.

Victoria’s Secret isn’t an expression of “patriarchy”, any more than Men’s Health is an expression of “feminism”. 

Victoria’s Secret is another female-managed, female-centric brand, much like Cosmopolitan. The Victoria’s Secret brand was founded in 1977 by a husband and wife team. For much of its history, the company has had a female CEO, Sharen Jester Turney.

Victoria’s Secret markets its products to women. The brand’s fashion shows aren’t put on for the benefit of horny dudes. Over 70% of the attendees at the shows are women.

Similarly, walk by any Victoria’s Secret store at your local mall, and you’ll find that the shoppers are 90% female. There is a Victoria’s Secret store at the mall near my house. I have yet to walk by and see the store packed with a crowd of hooting and hollering males, slobbering over the latest Zebra Lace Teddy.

Some brands sell aspirational benchmarks. Nothing wrong with that.

Idealized forms of the masculine and the feminine exist. They always have. So what?

The recent move to include plus size and transgender models in Victoria’s Secret marketing campaigns wasn’t a marketing decision. It was a bow to the diktats of political correctness.

Victoria’s Secret has thrived by selling an idealized image of femininity. Men’s Health has thrived by selling an idealized version of the masculine.

These brands wouldn’t have become so successful if millions of consumers didn’t identify with such aspirations. 

Aspirational benchmarks are inevitable outcomes in any competitive environment. And nothing is more competitive than sexual selection. This goes all the way back to Darwin…and your first junior high dance. 

By definition, aspirational benchmarks are exceptional. Aspirational benchmarks do not and cannot represent the specific realities of every one of us, all the time. Nor should they be shamed for refusing to try. 

1972 = 2020

In the spring semester of 1988, one of my college political science professors memorably told the class that the Democratic Party needs to run moderates in order to win national elections. 

That assessment has held true over the past 30 years. Later in 1988, the Dems ran the likable but ideological Dukakis. Bush 41 creamed him in the general election. 

Then the Dems ran Bill Clinton, a moderate “new Democrat” in 1992, and Clinton won–twice (although we could argue about how much Ross Perot helped him the first time around). 

The Democrats began the 2020 race with plenty of moderate choices, but the Democratic rank-and-file seems to prefer the ideologues. 

This will likely lead to a repeat of 1972, and a landslide for Donald Trump:

More seasoned leaders who have seen Democrats lose big have tended to prefer a safer, middle-road candidate more palatable to a wide range of voters. Those newer to the process are attracted to the vibrant and passionate candidates who can excite the base.


The push for liberal purity is one that raises warning flags for Rev. Joseph Darby Jr., an influential black pastor in South Carolina. He said he fears a repeat of the “McGovern situation,” referring to the 1972 presidential election that pitted liberal Sen. George McGovern against incumbent Republican Richard Nixon.


“The senator was the great white hope,” Darby said. “He was the one that everyone went with because he was so wonderfully progressive, and he got his butt beat at the polls. I don’t want to see a repeat of that.”

Stamford Advocate

What the Democratic Party needs to win in 2020 is another Bill Clinton. But they seem to determined to run–and lose–with another George McGovern. 

The Confucius Institute in the era of Xi Jinping

I’m a tireless advocate of foreign language study. (I listen to the news in at least three languages daily–usually English, Japanese, and Spanish.) 

Mandarin is one of the most important languages for Americans to learn, along with Spanish, Arabic, Russian, and several others–for obvious reasons.

There has long been a dearth of trained Mandarin instructors in the US. American foreign language instruction has traditionally been tilted toward Western European languages (French, Spanish, German). 

The Confucius Institute is an arm of the Chinese government that promotes the study of Mandarin outside China’s borders. 

There is nothing inherently sinister about this. Other countries, including the United States, Japan, and Germany, have similar programs.

But where the Beijing government is concerned–especially in the age of Xi Jinping–Mandarin instruction often comes with a heavy dose of political propaganda, as Andreas Fulda describes in Foreign Policy Magazine

Confucius Institutes have been critiqued for repeatedly straying from their publicly declared key task of providing Mandarin Chinese language training and for venturing into deep ideological territory. There is mounting evidence that the institutes’ learning materials distort contemporary Chinese history and omit party-induced humanitarian catastrophes such as the Great Leap Forward (1958-1961) and the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) entirely. At Confucius Institute events, politically sensitive issues like Taiwan, Tibet, and Tiananmen cannot be publicly discussed either. In 2014, a conference in Braga, Portugal, that involved both the Confucius Institute headquarters and the Taiwan-based Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange as co-sponsors was unceremoniously interrupted by Confucius Institute headquarters chief Xu Lin. And under the conditions of the Seven Don’t Speak directive, mainland Chinese education workers are barred from talking about universal values, freedom of speech, civil society, civil rights, the historical errors of the CCP, official bourgeoisie, and judicial independence—even when overseas.

Chinese Propaganda Has No Place on Campus

By all means, study Mandarin. But as I’ve pointed out before: Americans have been waiting for China to become a “normal”, open, democratic country for at least 30 years now. The wait continues. 

Warren’s war on Big Tech

Elizabeth Warren has declared her intention to break up Google, Amazon, and Facebook.

But what exactly does that mean?

Google

You already have plenty of other choices. There’s Bing, Yahoo! and many others.

Here’s a list of at least 14 search engines that you can use instead of Google, right now….no action from Elizabeth Warren or the federal government required.

Amazon

You already have plenty of other choices here, too .

Did you know that you can order stuff from Walmart online? You can!

Nor is Walmart your only non-Amazon choice. Take just about any product that you would ordinarily purchase on Amazon and Google it. Excuse me!– Bing it!–and you’ll find alternative sources.

No action from Elizabeth Warren or the federal government required!

Why do you purchase so much stuff from Amazon? Admit it: It’s because Amazon provides excellent customer service and competitive prices. Shopping on Amazon is a pretty seamless, and overall pleasant, experience.

What’s to stop other retailers from doing the same?

More to the point…What the heck is Elizabeth Warren going to do about any of it? Is she going to make Barnes & Noble more competitive?

Oh, give me a break. I’m in the book business, folks. And I can tell you that Barnes & Noble has screwed the pooch with every opportunity they’ve gotten since the dawn of the e-commerce era. B&N is still stuck in 1995. And they were great in 1995. Today–not so much.

Facebook

My general loathing for social media is documented throughout this site. I don’t only despise Facebook. I also detest Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Reddit, and Snapchat.

But here’s the thing: Facebook is a freakin’ website. How is Elizabeth Warren going to break up a website?

No one forces anyone to go to Facebook, or any other social media site. Nor is what social media provides in any way essential to daily life.

But as long as you’ve got millions of people who will go bonkers over the prospect of following a Clinton-era actress on Instagram, social media has a market. Never underestimate the stupidity of the masses.

***

In summary: 

1.) There are already at least 14 alternatives to Google.

2.) People use Amazon because Amazon makes buying stuff online cheap and convenient.

3.) Social media is idiotic, but so are lots of the people who are obsessed with it.

I don’t love Big Tech. The very sight of Mark Zuckerberg makes me cringe. But the government can’t change the consumer preferences that led to the dominance of Google, Amazon, or Facebook.

Our preferences created these monopolies, to the extent that they exist.

Do you want Elizabeth Warren telling you where you can buy lawn furniture?….Or where you get to see photos of Jennifer Aniston?

That’s what the Warren War on Big Tech is all about, at the end of the day: the government (i.e., a future President Warren) picking winners and losers.

“Eat the babies!” troll tells AOC

Poor AOC…

At a public meeting earlier this month, a young woman stood up and went full Greta Thunberg on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, working herself into a fit about climate change projections. 

Then the woman (with apparent seriousness) suggested that AOC should adopt the slogan “eat the babies!” as a way of reducing CO2 emissions. 

AOC’s reaction

AOC was taken aback. As some wags on the Internet have pointed out, she didn’t say no to the proposal, or express outright disapproval. 

This doesn’t mean, of course, that AOC secretly longs to eat children. In her defense, AOC was probably baffled by the woman (who was later exposed to be playacting, and thereby trolling Ocasio-Cortez)

Crazy times

For me, the most interesting part about this story is what it says about our political and cultural life. Things have become so insane, so over-the-top, that a false-flag sham like this can appear convincing, in the context of 2019.

After all, it wasn’t so long ago that Robert DeNiro, the esteemed actor, took a microphone and repeatedly shouted “Fuck Trump!” at an awards gala. 

And yes, Trump says some whacky things, too. I acknowledge that. 

***

Maybe I’m just getting older, but the world seemed to be a lot saner a few decades ago. 

When people ask me where I’d like to live–if I had unlimited choices–my standard response is: “1985”.