Category: Guest post

Trump: the Push-Back President

(Today’s guest poster is Andrew Klavan who published this piece on PJ Media. The headline is mine, the Push-Back President. Trump is the first president to reject in public the nincompoop notions of the left, and he makes no bones about it.  He rubs it in their faces and laughs out loud, a fun guy. This is the main cause of the mental illness known as Trump Derangement Syndome.)

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In general, I’m a free speech purist. I think you should be able to say any damn thing you please. But that doesn’t mean you should be able to say it anywhere and anytime.

I think police should be allowed to remove hecklers who prevent an audience from hearing the speaker they came to hear, or haul away a diner who stands up in a restaurant and starts spewing curses at the Martians in his fillings.

I deplore companies that fire or punish employees for expressing their ideas on their own time, even though it’s legal to do so. But I don’t think those companies have to tolerate such speech in the workplace or when it might reasonably appear to be an expression of the company’s point of view.

That’s why I see no free speech violation, even in spirit, in the NFL’s ruling that players should not disrespect the flag during the National Anthem. The players were taking that action on company time, in company uniform, while doing the company’s business, representing the company and, clearly, hurting the company’s bottom line.

And because I see no violation, I have to agree with the tweet of Vice President Mike Pence that the new rule represents “#winning” for the American people. Here’s why.

The NFL anthem controversy is a prime example of how Donald Trump is doing something of yuge importance that conservatives never think to do, and that intellectual conservatives don’t even seem to understand needs doing. He is challenging — and often changing — the left’s narrative.

The narrative is essentially a set of assumptions so pervasive that people are afraid to oppose them. They think they are alone in disagreeing with those assumptions and they fear they will be deemed immoral by the majority.

For a long time, the left has controlled this narrative by dominating and censoring the means of communication: social media, the news networks, Hollywood and the academies.

The left makes outlandish ideas seem mainstream.

They use these instruments to make outlandish ideas seem mainstream. That America is racist and oppressive. That men and women are interchangeable. That abortion is something other than an atrocity. That capitalism is somehow an evil despite its manifest blessings. And so on.

This technique is enormously powerful and has serious repercussions. Look at Starbucks behaving like a broken prisoner at a Stalinist show trial.

The narrative convinced them that they behaved badly simply for behaving like a business. In ejecting two poorly behaved trespassers, they merely claimed their right to use their private property for profit. But it is private property and profit that gives us Starbucks in the first place. And iPhones and computers and movies and all the rest.

Companies do not make these things for fun and they have no obligation to let you use them for free. If Starbucks were not drowning in left-wing assumptions — the left-wing narrative that capitalism is somehow inherently mean and wrong — they would have stood up for their right to eject unpaying trespassers, and they would have won.

Instead, they have to endure the absolutely absurd accusation that they are somehow racist because the trespassers were black — another nonsensical left-wing assumption. Phooey.

This is why it has been so terribly frustrating for many of us that conservatives have for so long allowed these assumptions to go unchallenged and have even seemed to accept them themselves.

Why did the first President Bush promise a “kinder, gentler” America after the Reagan years? Why did W. Bush call his conservatism “compassionate conservatism”? Aren’t the wealth and freedom provided by conservative governance kind and gentle enough, compassionate enough in themselves? Why were they making apologies for good ideas?

They bought the narrative and lost the country.

Those on the right who continue to hammer the president for being a flawed man should instead be asking themselves: Why did it take such a man to finally start pushing conservative ideas again?

It was because the left had been allowed to define the terms of our decency, and it required a man without much regard for decency to stand up to them and begin to govern by the decent, moral, freedom-giving principles of traditional Americanism.

Among those principles is respect for our flag and the liberties and justice it represents. It should not be the accepted norm that you can insult that flag while the rest of the nation is expected to eat the insult and send you fame and money in return.

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Screw that noise. Donald Trump was right to challenge the narrative. It’s not trivial. It’s important. And the fact that he made his point represents, yes, #winning.

The war on wisdom

(Our guest poster today is the incomparable Dennis Prager who often guest posts on The Moon, unbeknownst to him. Were I to have a guru, I would choose Prager although he’s a bit younger than I am, and I don’t know if that’s permissible.)

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THERE IS MORE knowledge available today than ever before in history. But few would argue people are wiser than ever before.

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On the contrary, many of us would argue that we are living in a particularly foolish time — a period that is largely wisdom-free, especially among those with the most knowledge: the best educated.

The fact that one of our two major political parties is advocating lowering the voting age to 16 is a good example of the absence of wisdom among a large segment of the adult population.

What adult deems 16-year-olds capable of making a wise voting decision? The answer is an adult with the wisdom of a 16-year-old — “Hey, I’m no wiser than most 16-year-olds. Why should I have the vote and they not?”

America has been influenced and is now being largely led by members of the baby-boom generation. This is the generation that came up with the motto “Never trust anyone over 30,” making it the first American generation to proclaim contempt for wisdom as a virtue.

Boomers are the first American generation to proclaim contempt for wisdom as a virtue.

The left in America is founded on the rejection of wisdom. It is possible to be on the left and be kind, honest in business, faithful to one’s spouse, etc. But it is not possible to be wise if one subscribes to leftist (as opposed to liberal) ideas.*

Last year, Amy Wax, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, co-authored an opinion piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer with a professor from the University of San Diego School of Law in which they wrote that the “bourgeois culture” and “bourgeois norms” that governed America from the end of World War II until the mid-1960s were good for America, and that their rejection has caused much of the social dysfunction that has characterized this country since the 1960s.

Those values included, in their words: “Get married before you have children and strive to stay married for their sake. Get the education you need for gainful employment, work hard, and avoid idleness. Go the extra mile for your employer or client. Be a patriot, ready to serve the country. Be neighborly, civic-minded, and charitable. Avoid coarse language in public. Be respectful of authority. Eschew substance abuse and crime.”

Rejection of bourgeois norms has caused much of the social dysfunction that has characterized this country since the 1960s.

Recognizing those norms as universally beneficial constitutes wisdom. Rejection of them constitutes a rejection of wisdom — i.e. foolishness.

Yet the left almost universally rejected the Wax piece, deeming it, as the left-wing National Lawyers Guild wrote, “an explicit and implicit endorsement of white supremacy,” and questioning whether professor Wax should be allowed to continue teaching a required first-year course at Penn Law.

To equate getting married before having children, working hard and eschewing substance abuse and crime with “white supremacy” is to betray an absence of wisdom that is as depressing as it breathtaking. It is obvious to anyone with a modicum of common sense that those values benefit anyone who adheres to them; they have nothing to do with race.

But almost every left-wing position (that differs from a liberal or conservative position) is bereft of wisdom.

Is the left-wing belief in the notion of “cultural appropriation” — such as the left’s recent condemnation of a white girl for wearing a Chinese dress to her high school prom — wise? Or is it simply moronic?

Is the left-wing belief that there are more than two genders wise? Or is it objectively false, foolish and nihilistic?

Has the left-wing belief that children need (unearned) self-esteem turned out to be wise, or morally and psychologically destructive? To its credit, last year, the Guardian wrote a scathing exposé on the “lie” — its word — the self-esteem movement is based on and the narcissistic generation it created.

Is it wise to provide college students with “safe spaces” — with their hot chocolate, stuffed animals and puppy videos — in which to hide whenever a conservative speaker comes to their college? Or is it just ridiculous and infantilizing?

Is the left’s rejection of many, if not most, great philosophical, literary and artistic works of wisdom on the grounds that they were written or created by white males wise? One example: The English department of the University of Pennsylvania, half of whose law school professors condemned Amy Wax and almost none of whose law professors defended her piece, removed a portrait of William Shakespeare (replacing it with that of a black lesbian poet).

Is multiculturalism, the idea that no culture is superior to another morally or in any other way wise? Isn’t it the antithesis of wisdom, whose very premise is that certain ideas are morally superior to others, and certain literary or artistic works are superior to others?

And the veneration of feelings over truth, not to mention wisdom, is a cornerstone of leftism.

Here’s one way to test my thesis: Ask left-wing friends what they have done to pass on wisdom to their children. Most will answer with a question: “What do you mean?” Then ask religious Jewish or Christian friends the same question. They won’t answer with a question.

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*”The usurpation of the word ‘liberal’ by the left has been a catastrophe.” — Dennis Prager.

The left’s poisoning of everything

(A quarter of a century ago when I still voted for the notably different Democrat Party, still lived in Houston with my second wife, I enjoyed watching Dennis Prager’s television show. Prager is a conservative Jew, a radio talk-show host, author and columnist. Even back in those days, I always agreed with him, which means I was a conservative at heart. I just had not quite seen the light.

(Prager is the source of one of my favorite quotes, one of those I have in the right sidebar here: “The usurpation of the word ‘liberal’ by the left has been a catastrophe.” The left’s superior skill with words often leaves conservatives coughing in the dust. But without further ado, here’s Dennis Prager.)

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Guest Post

new-image2The only way to save Western civilization is to convince more people that leftism — not liberalism — is a nihilistic force. Quite literally, whatever the left touches it ruins. So, here is a partial listing of the damage done by the left and the Democratic Party:

The most obvious is the near destruction of most American universities as places of learning. In the words of Harvard professor Steven Pinker — an atheist and a liberal — outside of the natural sciences and a few other disciplines (such as mathematics and business) “universities are becoming laughingstocks of intolerance.”

If you send your children to a university, you are endangering both their minds and their characters. There is a real chance they will be more intolerant and more foolish after college than they were when they entered college.

When you attend an American university, you are taught to have contempt for America and its founders, to prefer socialism to capitalism, to divide human beings by race and ethnicity. You are taught to shut down those who differ with you, not to debate them. And you are taught to place feelings over reason — which is a guaranteed route to eventual evil.

The left has ruined most of the arts. The following three examples are chosen because they are scatological, a favorite form of left-wing artistic expression. Before the left poisoned the arts, art was intended to elevate the viewer (or listener). But to the left, “elevate” is a meaningless term; it is far more at home depicting urine, fecal matter and menstrual blood.

In 2011, a lifelike German sculpture depicting a policewoman squatting and urinating — even the puddle is sculpted — received an award from a prestigious German foundation, the Leinemann Foundation for Fine Art.

In 2013, the Orange County Museum of Art in California placed a huge 28-foot sculpture of a dog outside the museum, where it periodically urinates a yellow fluid onto a museum wall.

In 2016, one of the most prestigious art museums in the world, the Guggenheim in New York, featured a pure-gold working toilet bowl, which visitors were invited to use. The name of the exhibit was “America” — so one could literally relieve oneself on America.

Thanks to the left, The Philadelphia Orchestra, one of the greatest orchestras in the world, allowed itself to become a voice of leftist hate last week. It featured the premiere of Philadelphia Voices, “a political rant put to musical garbage,” as some musically knowledgeable Philadelphians described it to me. In the fifth movement, titled “My House Is Full of Black People,” the black teen narrator chants the following lines: “The county is full of black people/ All wanting to be heard/ While old white men draw lines on maps/ To shut all of them up.” Later in the movement, he yells, “If you would all just f—-ing listen!”

Uplifting, no?

On the left, that’s considered art.

And, of course, such politicization of the arts is accepted as the norm.

Indeed, that’s part of the left’s poisoning of everything — its politicization of everything.

The left is increasingly poisoning sports. In most football stadiums this past season, one could not attend an NFL game without being subjected to left-wing contempt for America and its flag.

So, too, one cannot watch late-night television if one desires to simply be entertained before drifting off to sleep. Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert and other hosts have changed late-night TV into left-night TV. Why merely be funny when you can use your monologues to advance your left-wing views?

The left has poisoned mainstream religion. Mainstream Protestantism, non-Orthodox Judaism and much of the Catholic Church — including and especially Pope Francis — are essentially left-wing advocacy groups with religious symbols.

The left is destroying the unique American commitment to free speech. Almost half of incoming college freshmen do not believe in free speech for what they deem “hate speech” (merely taking issue with a left-wing position is, in the left’s view, “hate speech”). They do not understand that the whole point of free speech is allowing the expression of opposing ideas, including what we consider “hate speech.”

The left has poisoned race relations. America is the least racist multiracial society in the world. On a daily basis, Americans of every race and ethnicity get along superbly. But the black left and the white left constantly poison young minds with hate-filled diatribes against whites, “white privilege,” “systemic racism,” black dorms, black graduations, lies about the events in Ferguson, Missouri, and the like.

The left has made innumerable women unhappy, even depressed, with its decades of lying about how female sexual nature and male sexual nature are identical — leading to a “hookup” culture that leaves vast numbers of young women depressed — and its indoctrinating of generations of young women into believing they will be happier through career success than marital success.

And, in some ways scariest of all, the left is poisoning our children with its commitment to ending male and female as distinct categories. One of the great joys of life, celebrating one’s sex, is now deemed nothing more than a hateful idea in many of your children’s schools.

For these and other reasons, if you treasure American and Western civilization, fighting the left — something all liberals and conservatives need to do — is the greatest good you can engage in at this time.

America’s sneaky despotism

(The PanAm Post, where I found this interesting piece, describes the writer, José Azel, as a “scholar and author.” It’s about Democratic Despotism, a phrase that I like and which I think applies not only to the United States now but to most of Western Europe.

(Azel makes the point that in Democratic Despotisms one finds “armed forces, securities agencies or administrative agencies [that evolve] beyond the effective control of the civilian political leadership.” Of these three, I believe it’s administrative agencies that are the biggest peril today to individual freedom in the United States. They constantly grow and spit out endless rules to keep themselves in business and you hog-tied.)

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The idea of democratic despotism appears to be an oxymoron – a contradiction in terms. But, in “Democracy in America” (1835-1840) Alexis de Tocqueville offered a powerful description of democratic despotism as “a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd.”

Under Tocqueville’s democratic or soft despotism, “The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting.”

Democratic despotism “does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flow of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.”

Soft despotism is not as obvious as hard despotism. It gives us the illusion of being in control; it degrades us rather than persecutes us. It often takes the form of a state within a state (imperium in imperio) where an internal organization, such as the armed forces, securities agencies or administrative agencies, evolves beyond the effective control of the civilian political leadership.

Regulatory policy should be viewed with extraordinary suspicion and used frugally.

For example, historically, efforts to separate Church and State were anchored on the perception that the Church could turn into an imperium in imperio undermining civilian leadership. In other examples, in the Soviet Union, the secret police (KGB) was considered a State within a State. The same is true of its successor, The Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB).  And, in the United States, the government’s bureaucracy is often portrayed as a modern-day example of an imperium in imperio.

The modern definition of bureaucracies comes from German sociologist Max Weber who, in the 1920s, defined bureaucracies as any system of administration conducted by trained professionals according to fixed rules. And, although Weber considered bureaucracies necessary in a modern world, he also warned that bureaucratization was a threat to individual freedoms where individuals would be trapped in a soulless “iron cage” of rule-based controls.

Bureaucracies are also characterized by unrelenting growth. In the United States, the original bureaucracy of the federal government consisted of only the employees of three small departments; State, Treasury, and War. Today the federal branch employs nearly 3 million people. The old Soviet KGB employed one officer for every 428 citizens. In today’s “freer” Russia the FSB employs one officer for every 297 citizens.

Tocqueville forewarned, back in 1835, of a degrading despotic democracy of “small complicated rules.” Imagine what he would say today. During the last few years of the George W. Bush administration regulations increased dramatically, and in the first seven years of the Obama Administration over 20,600 new regulations were added for an estimated regulatory cost burden in excess of $100 billion annually.

Conceptually, government regulations represent a way for people to give up managing their own affairs and turn those affairs over to a government agency.

According to Tocqueville, a byproduct of turning over the management of our affairs to a government institution is that we become incompetent to choose good leaders. Thus, government regulations would ruin the American experiment by combining the vices of those who govern with the weaknesses of the governed.

This regulatory paternalism embodies the philosophy that people cannot be trusted to make good decisions, requiring government to impose its judgment over the voluntary decisions that represent our needs and preferences. Yes, some regulations are necessary and inherent to the rule of law. Regulations to protect children and those unable to make reasonable judgments are essential. But regulatory policy should be viewed with extraordinary suspicion and used frugally.

Fortunately, we seem to have finally understood that the soft despotism of regulations undermines the very concept of personal responsibility.

New ImageIn January 2017, President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order requiring government agencies to slash two regulations for every new regulation put in place. The President has now reported a success ratio of 22 regulations eliminated for every new one enacted.

The measure is being touted as an economic success. It is much more than that. It is a restoration of personal freedoms.