Mighty Peter has Strzok Out

News item: FBI agent Peter Strzok finally fired by the FBI.

All is as foreseen in the epic poem by Ernest Lawrence Thayer:

A sneer appeared from Peter’s lip, his tongue looked like a snake;
And his head did that funny little shimmy-shudder-shake
But then the deputy stepped up and said the time has come
“You are fired!” he cried, “Out of here, you bum!”

Oh, all about this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing happily, and all our hearts are light,
And Americans are laughing, and little children shout;
But there’s no joy in Progville – mighty Peter has Strzok out.

OK, that’s not quite how the original goes.  I’m in hiding, hopefully safe from the dead poet’s vengeance.

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“Democratic Socialism is a Scam”

This is an annotated summary of Democratic Socialism is a Scam, by Giancarlo Sopa, an article at Quillette.  The Cuban-American starts and ends his essay by declaring that Obama “is no socialist”, which might surprise whatever (if anything) is left of Newsweek, and lauds the Scandinavian-style welfare state.  Not the most endearing start, I grant you.

Be that as it may, his sights are set firmly on Comrade Princess Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and his phaser is set to “kill”.

Sopa’s mother was an immigrant who worked hard and made good, eventually starting her own small business.  “Given our humble immigrant roots, student loan debt, and monthly medical expenses, you’d figure that democratic socialists like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez would appeal to us—but they do not. Instead, they’re eerily reminiscent of the left-wing populists that millions in my community fled,” he writes.  The author was “raised in a community built by the victims of socialism”, and his grandfather “died as a political prisoner for opposing some of the very same ideas being peddled by the socialists du jour,” referencing the usual Hollywood and DNC-state media idiots.

How do they try to put lipstick on this pig?  Comrade Ocasio-Cortez, her Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) colleagues, and her media allies “are hoping that Americans confuse them for Nordic social democrats.”  But…

When I presented a team of Norwegian economists with a summary written by Vox of DSA’s economic ideas, eleven out of the 12 indicated the views would fall on the “far-left/fringe” end of Norway’s political spectrum.

It won’t surprise you that the author finds DSA’s philosophy more in line with Castro’s Cuba and Venezuela under Chavez and Maduro.  Furthermore,

The problem is not, as some say, that “democratic socialism” has not been tried and that only they know how to get it right; it’s that, by design, it makes economies and societies susceptible to totalitarianism. Just like 1959 Castro and 1998 Chavez, U.S. socialists stress their commitment to democracy, but human nature is a stubborn thing. Why should Americans trust that America’s socialists would be any more willing to relinquish power than their ideological brethren in Latin America and across the world? Indeed, it is odd that those who argue President Trump has authoritarian tendencies, are often the same people who want to give the federal government even more power over our economy.

I admit that, during the first half or two-thirds of the Republican primaries, I despised Trump, and saw him as a Mussolini wannabe.  But I have to say that if Trump really wants to be Benito II, he’s been going about it all wrong.


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Alex Jones, unperson

I’m sure you’ve heard about Big Social politically correcting Alex Jones into nonexistence.  I’ve never listened to Jones (a few, brief visits to his website sufficed for me to form a negative opinion of his operation), but he’s the current coal mine canary.  It won’t be long before they come to do violence on better birds than he.

This brings to mind one of my favorite quotes, from one of my very favorite books, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, by Robert A. Heinlein:

“Kerala had a planned famine last year. Did you see it in the news?”

“No.”

“Because it wasn’t in the news.  A managed democracy is a wonderful thing, Manuel, for the managers… and its greatest strength is a ‘free press’ when ‘free’ is defined as ‘responsible’ and the managers define what is ‘irresponsible’.”

There is a rumor afloat that Heinlein was a Russian bot.  It isn’t true, yet.

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A modestly postmodern proposal

The New York Times has seen fit to place an apparent racist, Sarah Jeong, on their editorial board. I describe her as such on the basis of numerous tweets of hers that surfaced immediately after the NYT appointment. One of them reads “it’s kind of sick how much joy I get out of being cruel to old white men.” Another proclaims “Cancel White People”.

These examples are among the least hateful. But, don’t worry, dear readers. We are assured this all of this is actually white peoples’ fault. Subsequent to Ms. Jeong’s hatred being propagated to a wider audience, the NYT informed us that as “a young Asian woman” she has been “a subject of frequent online harassment” and that she was merely “imitating the rhetoric of her harassers”. In other words, the same “Don’t blame me, HE started it!” of any pre-adolescent row. Jeong herself is reported as saying her missives were merely satire, a word that now applies to both everything and nothing [1].

Anyway, in the rush to excuse Ms. Jeong’s toxic effluvia, a fundamental opportunity has been missed. Think about it: why shouldn’t racists be represented on the editorial board? As loathsome as they might be, racists are citizens, too. They pay taxes, they ride the subways, and Lord knows many of them vote for Democrats, even before they’re dead. Aren’t progressives always preaching about inclusivity? What is inclusion without the least and worst of us?

And even if Ms. Jeong isn’t a racist herself (heh), she can certainly represent this constituency faithfully after seeking to imitate them with such vigor and for so long.

So, I wish Sarah Jeong a long and productive stint on the NYT editorial board. Nothing is beyond the pale(face), just as long as she does not sleep with her sources. Oh wait, Ali Watkins has shown that’s acceptable at the Times, too. Ah, the Times, they are a-changin’.

[1] Including this post.  Dime, we need a satire tag.

[Inspiration for the post title here.]


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Voting is a grave responsibility

The NYT has put an “extremely detailed map of the 2016 presidential election” tool online.  Here’s a high-level look at much of the Chicago area.  The map is color-shaded by vote percentages.  As you would expect, the city and some surrounding areas are heavily Democratic.  It looks like Lake Michigan swamped onshore, inundating the coastal plain and a few low-lying places farther inland.

Even in the sea of blue, however, there is a rather odd outlier, the very deep blue rectangle circled in black.  Since I grew up nearby, I immediately knew what was up.

First, let’s zoom into the area.  We see the vote total is 92% Hillary, 6% Trump, much more lopsided than the surrounding precincts.  Note the rectangle is bounded by 111th and 115th streets, and by Cicero Ave on the west and Pulaski Rd on the east.

What’s special about this precinct?  Here’s a hint.  My grandfather lived in Chicago and worked for the city.  He used to declare that he might as well vote Democrat while he was alive, because he certainly was going to do so after death, whether he liked it or not.

A satellite image of the rectangle.  A cemetery!  Although these dearly departed walk among us no longer, they know the exercise of their franchise is a grave responsibility.  So, on election day, get out and vote.  Don’t wait until you are dead!

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Shangri-La

In 1933, James Hilton’s wonderful novel Lost Horizon appeared, introducing the mythical place of Shangri-La to the public’s imagination. The first movie version was released in 1937. The novel’s 1939 reprinting as “Pocket Book #1” eventually sold millions of copies. FDR jokingly said the 1942 Doolittle raid on Tokyo was launched from Shangri-La. That same year, FDR dubbed his Maryland retreat (now known as “Camp David“) “Shangri-La”, and by 1944, the name was attached to an aircraft carrier.

Wikipedia declares with great seriousness that “[a]cademic scholars have debunked the myth of Shangri-La and argued that this has less to do with an unexplored place and is more connected to a fantasy of the Western world.”  (Emphasis added.)  Oh, for Pete’s sake. Hilton wrote a novel, dammit. Others have occupied themselves with making attributions regarding Hilton’s sources and/or explanations regarding his motivations, apparently because a great story by itself apparently does not suffice.

This is the kind of twaddle that makes me embarrassed to be an academic. Please accept my humble apology for their cluelessness, not that I can do anything about that.

In Hilton’s story, a group of Westerners find themselves kidnapped to a remote Tibetan lamasery of Shangri-La, where aging is vastly slowed. There, they are not imprisoned although Nature through its forbidding landscape provides an effective jailer. The lamasery is led by an extremely old French Catholic monk, Perrault, who had happened upon the place in his middle years and who sees his role as preserving knowledge against imminent world catastrophe. The dying monk taps the leader of the kidnapped group, a young but world-weary British diplomat named Conway, to be his successor. Conway quickly found peace in this isolated paradise but is torn by loyalty to his young, impetuous assistant Mallinson and their mutual regard for a beautiful, ostensibly young postulant named Lo-Tsen, both of whom greatly desire to escape from Shangri-La.

Trigger warning: It is suggested in the novel that Asians benefit less from the slowed aging than Westerners. This plot device is, of course, totally racist, and thus all physical copies of the novel must be ritually burned, and digital ones overwritten with a zillion zeroes. If you are politically correct, you are not permitted to enjoy the following short passages, representing some of my favorite parts of this novel, and are instructed to cease and desist from reading now and to flail yourself with any handy object, the sharper the better.  Now for the rest of us…

Chang, a more advanced postulant of the lamasery, explains the philosophy of Shangri-La to the new, involuntary arrivals:

If I were to put it into a very few words, my dear sir, I should say that our prevalent belief is in moderation. We inculcate the virtue of avoiding excess of all kinds—even including, if you will pardon the paradox, excess of virtue itself.

An American in the group starts a conversation with Chang:

‘Many religions are moderately true.’ You fellows up on the mountain must be a lot of wise guys to have thought that out. You’re right, too, I’m dead certain of it.”

“But we,” responded Chang dreamily, “are only moderately certain.”

Miss Brinklow is the sour, humorless puritan of the group, who’d probably vote the Democratic straight ticket if she were American (and just why would that stop her?):

“When I get back,” she said with tightening lips, “I shall ask my society to send a missionary here. And if they grumble at the expense, I shall just bully them until they agree.”

That, clearly, was a much healthier spirit, and even Mallinson, little as he sympathized with foreign missions, could not forbear his admiration. “They ought to send you,” he said. “That is, of course, if you’d like a place like this.”

“It’s hardly a question of liking it,” Miss Brinklow retorted. “One wouldn’t like it, naturally—how could one? It’s a matter of what one feels one ought to do.”

“I think,” said Conway, “if I were a missionary I’d choose this rather than quite a lot of other places.”

“In that case,” snapped Miss Brinklow, “there would be no merit in it, obviously.”

“But I wasn’t thinking of merit.”

“More’s the pity, then. There’s no good in doing a thing because you like doing it. Look at these people here!”

“They all seem very happy.”

Exactly,” she answered with a touch of fierceness.

Father Perrault muses:

The first quarter-century of your life was doubtless lived under the cloud of being too young for things, while the last quarter-century would normally be shadowed by the still darker cloud of being too old for them; and between those two clouds, what small and narrow sunlight illumines a human lifetime!

Conway, to Mallinson, regarding Lo-Tsen:

Her beauty, Mallinson, like all other beauty in the world, lies at the mercy of those who do not know how to value it. It is a fragile thing that can only live where fragile things are loved. Take it away from this valley and you will see it fade like an echo.

Conway muses:

It came to him that a dream had dissolved, like all too lovely things, at the first touch of reality.

A novelist character in the Epilogue opines:

People make mistakes in life through believing too much, but they have a damned dull time if they believe too little.

My favorite passage involves our intrepid puritan, Miss Brinklow, addressing postulant Chang, who illustrates the proper way of addressing the ineducable and unpersuadable:

Miss Brinklow, however, was not yet to be sidetracked. “What do the lamas do?” she continued.

“They devote themselves, madam, to contemplation and to the pursuit of wisdom.”

“But that isn’t doing anything.”

“Then, madam, they do nothing.”


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Genocide and its apologists

At Quilette (a great website), Matthew Blackwell recounts the three-year long genocide in Cambodia perpetrated by Pol Pot and his communist Khmer Rouge.  The Khmer Rouge entered Phnom Penh in 1975, hailed as heroes. However, the cheering lasted but a few hours, cut short by the Khmer Rouge’s order for the city to be evacuated.  The genocide – the infamous killing fields — had commenced immediately.  “The new regime tried to eliminate every vestige of the old government — and every vestige of society they considered a threat, including people who had committed no crime besides wearing reading glasses.”

Blackwell also writes:

Amazingly, even as Cambodia disintegrated, the Khmer Rouge benefitted from unsolicited apologetics from intellectuals at the West’s august universities. Just as Mao, Stalin, and Hitler enjoyed disproportionate popularity among academics and university students, Pol Pot and his promise of a communist utopia in South East Asia elicited sharp defences from many radical Western academics… [T]hese professors downplayed reports of atrocities perpetrated in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, and printed vicious attacks against anyone who disagreed.

Is that really so amazing, though?  One person’s genocide is merely another’s “rationally conceived strategy for dealing with the urgent problems that faced postwar Cambodia.” After all, we had

…a group of bright, erudite people “ready to toler­ate the worst crimes as long as they are committed in the name of the proper doctrines.” According to [Raymond] Aron, those proper doctrines—equality, classlessness, unselfish dedication—were something like pictures in a children’s book; enticing images that seduced the most imaginative among us—our intellectuals.

And, by all means, dismiss any available contrary evidence, such as that offered by the lucky few that managed to escape the genocide.  After all, refugees “naturally tend to report what they believe their interlocutors wish to hear,” according to Noam Chomsky.

Dr. Malcolm Caldwell was a colleague of Chomsky’s who viewed Pol Pot’s experiment so positively (praising its “promise of a better future for all”), he was invited for a carefully stage-managed visit. But that was the last thing the Marxist scholar ever did:

A few hours later [Caldwell] was killed in his hotel room by Pol Pot’s soldiers. Some have speculated that he was murdered because he had confronted Pol Pot with what he had seen in the country. Others suggest that he was killed by rogue soldiers who didn’t want him to return to the West and write supportive things in the media about the brutal regime, as he had done in the past. Elizabeth Becker, one of the other journalists on the trip, hid in her hotel bathroom as she heard the gunshots. Later she stated that, “Caldwell’s death was caused by the madness of the regime he openly admired.”

How can our so-called intellectuals be so incredibly stupid and naive? George Orwell said it best: “There are some ideas so absurd that only an intellectual could believe them.”

My favorite passage from this essay is this:

[T]he scars of the Pol Pot regime lie open; the country wears its past on its sleeve, as if to say to visitors, “After everything we’ve been through, if you can’t look at this, then why are you here?”

Bottom line: real socialism has been tried.


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“Dear Ex-Friends in #TheResistance”

I really enjoyed reading this article, Dear Ex-Friends in #TheResistance, at American Greatness, and I’ll bet many of you will, too.   A small slice to whet your interest:

I think the last civil conversations we had occurred just days before November 8, 2016. You were supremely confident Hillary Clinton would win the presidential election; you voted for her with glee. As a lifelong Republican, I bit down hard and cast my vote for Donald Trump. Then the unimaginable happened. He won.

And you lost your freaking minds.

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