Monday, March 29, 2021

21st Century Cancel Culture: Robespierre Meets Mr. Potato Head

In high school I had a girlfriend whose parents were distributors for Amway, a multi level marketing company that sold lots of consumer products.  I don’t know if it was part of the company mission, but they wouldn’t sell Proctor & Gamble products.  Apparently her parents thought the company’s logo — a crescent man-in-moon and 13 stars — was a symbol of Satanism.  The “boycott” was toothless but the company eventually changed their logo to letters but later brought the moon back and won a lawsuit against some Amway distributors along the way.    

In college I met some demonstrators in the student union urging a boycott of Campbell’s Soup for the unfair treatment of farm workers in Central America.  After watching their movie I jumped onboard for a few weeks until I decided I probably wasn’t having much impact. 

Years later I remember reading about teachers down in Georgia wanting to ban Harry Potter from schools because of the witchcraft!

All of this came to mind recently after I read a few pieces suggesting that conservatives were hypocrites for decrying “cancel culture”.  They’re not entirely wrong.  Cancel culture is nothing new, and conservatives have engaged in it too…

But here’s the thing, it’s actually different now.  Much different.  For two reasons. 

The first reason today’s cancel culture is different is because with technology, nothing ever dies. When I was a young adult I did lots of things that were stupid, some of which I’m not proud of and others that simply demonstrated how it’s possible to have a brain without actually using it.  But none of those foibles or follies follows me around because there is no record of them other than in my head.  In earlier times people could learn from their own foolishness, learn from their mistakes and go on to be model citizens or at least strive to be, knowing that a broken promise here or an unkind word there wouldn’t haunt them forever.  Today that’s no longer true.  Today, because of the ubiquity of cell phones and the Internet, nothing stays hidden and nothing ever dies.

Today, there is no forgiveness nor forgetting.  From this day forward not only will every American have to live a pristine life, they will have to do so not only while navigating the rapidly changing currents of today’s mores, they will at the same time have to anticipate what will be acceptable in the future and live accordingly.  And it’s not just people.  It’s books, pancake syrup, children’s games, Halloween costumes and more.  Things that have been part of Americana for a century are now deemed racist, sexist or somehow otherwise unacceptable because they don’t comport with today’s values.  That’s simply an impossible standard for anyone to live up to whoever they are. 

The second reason cancel culture is different today is because of social media platforms. For good or (mostly) bad, social media is where a majority of Americans get their information.  Between YouTube, Facebook and Twitter Americans get far more of their information / news from social media sources than they do from traditional news sources.  The social media platforms have become America’s public square.  They grew and found extraordinary success and riches by pitching themselves as a place for Americans to express themselves, share ideas and communicated with one another. 

But once they vanquished all foes, once they became exactly what they purported to want to become, America’s public square, they started shutting down the speech of those with whom they disagreed.  So now that there are relatively few effective alternative communication vehicles available, Twitter, Facebook, Google and Amazon have decided that if you don’t agree with them, you’re off their platforms.  Sure, you still have free speech, but you have to wonder how many people you’ll be able to reach via skywriting, holding a cardboard on a streetcorner sign or shouting from your back porch.

Together, over the last decade and a half, these two developments have transformed the country, including the nature of the cancel culture.  They have turned what used to be largely ineffective fringe boycotts into extraordinarily effective main street shakedowns and takedowns… but with very selective enforcement. 

Dr. Seuss, whose books have brought joy to hundreds of millions of kids for decades are suddenly verboten but misogynistic and or vulgar rap videos are celebrated.  Gina Carano is fired for comparing the treatment of conservatives today to that of the Jews in 1930’s Germany while virulent anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan can be found in hundreds of videos on YouTube.  Donald Trump is kicked off Facebook and Twitter for the fiction of inciting a riot while Chuck Schumer, who threatened two Supreme Court justices, continues Tweeting unfettered. 

Comparing the boycotts of the past with the cancel culture of today is like equating your house cat with a lion in the Serengeti, both are cats, but the damage one does is largely limited to waking you up in the middle of the night by knocking makeup off your dresser while the other will stalk you night or day then rip you to shreds and eat you piece by piece once they catch you.

America’s founding fathers were indeed flawed men, but in the late 18th century they were at the bleeding edge of society.  They were forward thinking men and revolutionary in their pursuit of freedom.  It’s one thing to be righteous standing in a 21st century America built on the ideas that brought us here, but think back to 250 years ago and what the world looked like. Imagine standing in Independence Hall or Parliament or in front of the Russian Czar and making the argument that there are more than two genders, that gay marriage is normal, or that African civilizations are equal to European civilizations. Try convincing King Louis or Pope Pius that women are equal to men and that they should get equal treatment in the army.

Now do all of that in the middle of near constant war, not only between the European powers, but between the native tribes across Africa, the Middle East and The Americas, and all of the above as they encountered one another at the intersections of civilizations. They were flawed men, but if they are personae non gratae in American schools then no one is safe. 

Applying today’s mores to the actions or words or thoughts of people who lived 2,000 or 200 or even 20 years ago is absurd, and made more so when it’s done selectively.  At the same time, if a handful of private companies are allowed to manipulate the public square for their own purposes then no ideas are safe. 

Cancel culture is real and it is largely an animal of the left.  It is tyranny for the sake of power.  But the not so funny thing about tyrants is that they always need a new set of enemies.  Once everything conservative has been canceled, who do they expect will be the next targets?  Once America is fully mulatto or Hispanic or no longer pigment challenged, who will be the next group targeted?  Once Christianity has become fully neutered in America as it has been in most of Europe, which deities will be targeted next? 

Cancel culture in 21st century America very much resembles the late 18th century… in France.  The revolution started out targeting the monarchy and ended up eating its own. By the time Robespierre and his fellow agitators realized what they had unleashed, the Reign of Terror was in full swing and it was their own heads that were in the basket.  At least Mr. Potato Head will have company…

Friday, March 19, 2021

Joe Biden Transforms the Pentagon From a Strong Horse to a Weak Woke Horse, Just When It Counts Most...

Back in 2003 a Muslim woman sued the Florida DMV because she wanted her driver’s license photo to be taken while she was wearing a niqab, or veil, which would have covered her entire face other than her eyes.  I remember thinking how absurd such a request was.  Not that the veil was absurd, but rather the idea of taking a picture specifically intended to identify someone with all of their identifying features covered. The request obviated the basic reason of why the picture was being taken in the first place. 

A year later, again out of Florida, the North Miami police department dropped its requirement that police officers know how to swim.  Apparently because they were having a hard time finding qualified black applicants who could swim, rather than teach otherwise qualified black applicants to swim, the police did away with the requirement.

The purpose of the DMV issuing drivers’ licenses is to make it possible to identify someone by looking at them and the purpose of a police force is to protect and defend the people within a particular jurisdiction, and in cities surrounded by water that might require swimming.  Anything that defeats the very purpose of an organization is probably a bad idea from the perspective of accomplishing that organization’s mission.   

Which brings us to Joe Biden’s Pentagon.  Building on Barack Obama’s turning NASA into a Muslim outreach program, Joe Biden has decided to turn the Pentagon into a monument to wokeness.  While the Pentagon has been moving in the woke direction for years (as demonstrated by a deadly political correctness, the repeal of DADT, women in combat and picking up the tab for sex change operations) Joe Biden has turned the military into a full fledged social program.

So how can Joe Biden beat Obama’s deadly despicable modifications to the Rules of Engagement?  How about pregnant women in military cockpits?  Yes, you read that right.  Joe Biden has the American military “Designing body armor that fits women properly, tailoring combat uniforms for women, creating maternity flight suits and updating requirements for their hairstyles… It will take an intensity of purpose and mission to really change the culture and habits that cause women to leave the military.” 

If the legion of stumbles Joe Biden has already made in his short time in office haven’t convinced you of such, that sentiment alone should demonstrate clearly that he is not a serious man.

The role of the military is to protect and defend the nation and its allies as well as enforce treaties the United States has entered into, whether that’s ensuring safe passage of shipping in domestic and international waters or making preemptive strikes against terrorists planning on striking American or allied targets.  All of those things and more involve training to kill, and possibly actually killing enemies.  Military is deadly business as large numbers of lives are at stake.  Not only are there hundreds of thousands of Americans under arms who actively or potentially put their lives in danger to protect the nation on a daily basis, but there are millions of people at home and abroad whose lives are impacted by the success or failure or American military operations.

And so, in this universe where the Chinese are willing to operate the open secret of concentration camps filled with their own citizens, are claiming sovereignty over virtually the entire South China Sea, are building outposts around the world, cornering the market on strategically critical rare earth minerals and turbo charging the world’s largest military, Joe Biden wants to make sure pregnant pilots have uniforms that fit.  In a world where nuclear weapons are in more, and more unstable hands than ever before, where bioweapons like the Coronavirus can kill millions and terrorism can strike anywhere anytime, one of Joe Biden’s first acts was to lift the ban on transgender enlistments.  Joe Biden is an unserious man who has no place as Commander in Chief and in any rational world he wouldn’t be allowed within a thousand miles of the nuclear football.  But there he is sitting in the White House – sadly as the result of Democrat fraud – and turning our military into a woke petri dish.

And there’s a reason he can do it…  Most people think of the military as jets in dogfights, solders storming a den of bad guys or ships bombing a coastline.  It is all of those things and more, but the reality is the military spends an overwhelming majority of its time preparing, planning and training rather than actually fighting… which is why leftists think they can turn it into a series of social experiments.  It’s easy to measure quotas and enforce the latest politically correct policies when no one is actually shooting at or trying to kill you. Importantly, that work is where troops learn the skills necessary to survive actual combat and lay the groundwork for success in actual war.  But to the left in America doesn’t care about that. They’re more interested in the optics of diversity and inclusiveness than they are in mission success and are willing to sacrifice the latter for the former. And to the degree the military focuses on those social issues, counts pigments or genders or tries to manipulate political allegiances, the less effective the training is and at the end of the day, the less capable the military is to accomplish its primary mission.  

Osama Bid Laden said:  "When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature they will like the strong horse." Joe Biden is signaling to the world the American military is anything but a strong horse and he’s leaving no ambiguity about it.  The world sees this, our allies see this, and most importantly our enemies see this.  People around the world recognize that the United States has been the vanguard of freedom for a century and ushered in a period of economic prosperity unprecedented in human history.  But at the same time, most rational people recognize that nothing good lasts forever.  If the United States is literally telling the world that our military is focused on maternity flight suits and trans enlistments while the borg of China is expanding and strengthening its military and economic reach to unprecedented levels, we shouldn’t be surprised to see American influence deflate like a week old balloon animal as allies and friends turn their allegiances toward the strong horse.  When the left’s dream of diminished American influence comes to pass the irony will be that the tag on the boot standing on their necks will read “Made in woke America”. 

Monday, March 15, 2021

Wokeness jumps the shark with Meghan Markle, Oprah Interview

Rare is it when you have one person so perfectly embody a moment in history as you do Meghan Markle in 21st century America.

Meghan Markle is gorgeous. She’s well spoken. She’s famous. She’s rich. She’s literally married to a prince and has a beautiful child. She’s got it all… And yet she’s an insufferable crybaby and perpetual victim.

By any measure, Meghan Markle is living a princess’s life. From a broken, mixed race home, Meghan grew up in southern California before she went on to earn degrees in Theater and International Studies from Northwestern University. From there she spent years with bit parts in Hollywood until her big break at 30 when she landed a major role in the USA Network show Suits. After spending six years on the hit show Markle decided it was time to leave as she had literally found her prince. And they lived happily ever after…

Not so much. Despite having a life that 99.999% of the people on the planet might exchange their own for – at least the women – Meghan Markle wants us to know that she's a victim. She’s been forced out of the British Royal Family as she and her husband and her baby have been disrespected because she’s American, because she’s half black and because they’re jealous of her.

As a result of being booted from the Royal Family – despite the fact that it was she and her prince who chose to leave – Meghan has been forced to drag her family around the world, first staying in an exclusive home in Canada, later renting Tyler Perry’s estate in California and finally settling for the purchase of an $11 million California mansion of her own. In their often mentioned efforts to find “privacy” Meghan and the Harry sat down for an interview with one of the world’s most high profile journalists. In addition, the pair of outcasts will be forced to scrape by on just under $100 million a year in income via production deals with Netflix and Spotify.

If all of this sounds a bit surreal, it should. If it sounds familiar too, it should. Why? Because just as Meghan Markle, one of the world’s richest and most famous women spends her time whining that she’s a victim, the American left, home of some of the most pampered people to ever live in human history, spends its time lamenting the victimhood of its various constituencies.

And the victim groups are legion… blacks, Hispanics, Asians, gays, transgenders, women, Muslims, the poor, single mothers, teachers, the handicapped, illegal aliens and more… America’s left never met a group – other than perhaps the oppressive straight white Christian males – that they didn’t see as a victim group to be exploited for power and money. America is racist, sexist, homophobic or whatever else turns the group of choice into a victim of hate at the hands of those aforementioned oppressors.

But the thing is, America is in reality one of the least racist, sexist, homophobic etc. countries in the world, indeed Americans share far more with one another than we differ. Rare is the instance where someone can’t find success in America because of the characteristics the left champions. While America is not perfect, it in fact provides more opportunity to more people from more backgrounds than any nation on earth. Not sure? The dirty little secret the left will never let you know is that the poorest Americans are economically better off than the average European and exponentially so relative to the average person living in Asia, Africa or South America. Most Americans enjoy a standard of living better than virtually every person who’s ever lived on planet earth, including kings. The left won’t tell you that Americans enjoy a level of individual freedom unprecedented in human history. The reality is, despite what you hear on television and social media platforms, black Americans are not being hunted and killed by police and, according to the FBI, black and white interactions with police are actually quite similar overall.

Sadly, the fact that the reality of Meghan Markle’s lavish lifestyle does nothing to diminish her claim of victimhood is not unique. In 21st century America victimhood has become the coin of the realm. The left discards the reality of the egalitarian nature of the United States, the freedom of opportunity shared by almost every American and a standard of living that most people on earth would die for, all in the name of dividing Americans, turning them against one another and most importantly, accumulating wealth and power.

If America is lucky the Meghan Markle / Oprah interview might just jump the shark.  Perhaps Americans will finally come to recognize that if wealth, fame, beauty and influence can’t satiate the woke need for pity and victimization, then nothing can. Maybe after seeing the vapid blatherings of a prince and princess with a staggering lack of self awareness and frame of reference Americans will finally get back to the business of living their lives and seeking to interact with one another based on their content of character rather than viewing each another through a prism of glass fractured by the fabricated divisions of the left.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

HR 1 and Why Election Integrity Matters…

 If you’ve ever read Lord of the Flies, The Rise and the Fall of the Third Reich or 1984, you understand the threat to life and limb that unrestrained power can be.  Lord Acton distilled the danger down to a simple phrase:  “Absolute power corrupts absolutely”.

Our Founding Fathers knew that, which is why they crafted for us the greatest document ever written by men.  The Constitution they gave us had built into it a variety of checks and balances on government or any branch of government accumulating too much power.  They gave us the Connecticut Compromise, which balanced representation between large and small states, with two Senators elected from each state and Congressmen being elected based on population.  They gave us the Legislature which passes laws and the Executive which implements them.  And most of all, they gave us the Massachusetts Compromise, which created the ultimate check on government power, the Bill of Rights, an explicit articulation of individual rights that could not be infringed upon by government.  Finally, in what was likely the most groundbreaking element of any constitution ever written, the Founding Fathers explicitly limited the powers of the government with the 9th and 10th Amendments, the former stating that the enumeration of certain rights did not preclude the existence of others not addressed, while the latter stated that the federal government had only those powers given and any not given to it were reserved for states or the people.

Extraordinary students of history and men, Madison, Adams, Franklin, et. al. understood the nature of man and built a Constitution specifically crafted to counter that nature. It wasn’t a perfect document – and had a tool for addressing imperfections built into it – but it largely worked well for 233 years and allowed the United States to develop into the strongest and most powerful nation in the history of mankind.

Specifically their Constitution worked because it was – by design – insulated from the passions of men.  The staggered six year terms of the Senate was to balance out the biennial elections in the House – and Senators were appointed by states while Congressmen were elected by the people.  Presidents were elected every four years and Justices were appointed for life.  And the government was explicitly limited to what they could do.

Incredibly, while they knew nothing about cars or televisions or mobile phones or the Internet, the mechanisms they put in place largely survived as the march of time progressed. But for all of their familiarity with the dark sides of man’s nature, even the Founding Fathers, possibly the greatest assembly of men to ever come together in history, couldn’t foresee the darkness that lay ahead with the Democrat party of the 21st century. 

Today America sits and watches as Democrats essentially send the Constitution through the shredder.  Emboldened by a pusillanimous Supreme Court, Democrats today – with HR 1 – seek to undermine the very foundation upon which that Constitution is based:  voting integrity by the governed.  They seek to codify arrangements that are by their very nature intended to eviscerate the notion of vote integrity.  Voter ID:  Eliminated.  Mail in voting:  Mandated.  Maintenance of accurate voter rolls:  Outlawed.  Same day registration:  Required.  Ballot harvesting:  Allowed.  These and much more are to be codified by HR 1, with the goal of giving Democrats end to end control over voting in the United States.  Once in control of voting they will control every branch and every element of the federal government in perpetuity.  And given that they back a regulatory state that never met a freedom it didn’t want to regulate, they will control every aspect of the lives of formerly free Americans. 

And that will be the end of America as we know it.  Entrepreneurial innovation?  Gone unless the mission furthers the green or “justice” themes of Democrats.  Educational freedom? Access to and success within will be predicated on a willingness to muzzle any thoughts or words that fall outside of whatever is currently deemed as acceptable.  Virtually everything, from sports to medicine to science to literature to media to the Internet to your very job, will become nothing more than vehicles for establishing one’s acquiescence to the left’s diktats, whether as regulated by Democrats or enforced by their fellow travelers seemingly everywhere from academia, the media and increasingly, big business.  

For more than two centuries Americans suffered through periods of government overreach, incompetence, malice and outright failure because they understood that they had the ultimate hand in dictating how government is run and that they would have the opportunity to make a change for the better via the voting booth.  Voting and elections were chaotic, exasperating and sometimes frustrating, but we largely accepted them because they were seen as a legitimate reflection of the public’s voice.

With HR 1 the Democrats are disemboweling election integrity, sullying the sanctity of the voting booth and most importantly, undermining Americans’ confidence that they control their own government and by extension, their own destinies.  The Constitution works only because people have confidence in its workings and their role in it.  Sadly, Democrats may find out too late that a citizenry who no longer have confidence that their government answers to them may decide to defy that government and seek to establish their own order.  It would be apropos – albeit sad for the world – if the very schemes Democrats put in place to try and guarantee their grip on power over a citizenry they disdain were the very schemes that caused that same citizenry to overthrow the system Democrats perverted to control them in the first place and replaced it with something one might see on an unnamed island in the South Pacific… My guess is the party worried about mean tweets, racist pancake syrup and offensive children’s books won’t thrive under the new system. 

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Secession Is A Radical Solution That Sadly Doesn’t Seem So Radical Any More

Some things in life are constant. My entire life America has been one of those things.  Despite Vietnam, Watergate, Iran Contra, the Dot Com bubble, 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, the Great Recession and more, the United States has been constant.  America, rife with internal conflicts, differing opinions and more than a few lying politicians was always the land of freedom, the land of opportunity, and the land of endless possibilities.  America and freedom were like the earth below us and the sun and the stars above… constants.    

But constant is relative…  Wait long enough and the earth will be gone. Wait long enough and the sun and the stars will be gone. So too with nations. Ronald Reagan knew this.  He said:  Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.  That generation is upon us and we are most certainly watching in real time as American freedom is extinguished, and with it America.

America was fundamentally built on freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution.  Freedom of speech, religion, the right to peaceably to assemble and to petition the Government.  But it’s not just the Constitution itself that makes America.  It’s ideas that flow from it and our history.  Free markets, private property, entrepreneurship, 4th of July, baseball, high school debate team, cars, suburbs, bake sales, Thanksgiving dinner, spelling bees, Pledge of Allegiance, Christmas antlers,  the National Anthem and more.    

All of that, both the actual rights and the ideas beyond them all are under attack in America of 2021.  Whether petty tyrants using the Covid hysteria to eviscerate our freedoms of religion and assembly and to crush our businesses or social media oligarchs shutting down debate in the 21st century town square or education departments causing Martin Luther King to spin in his grave as they abandon his dream, the America of Norman Rockwell paintings is being torn apart idea by idea by idea.

This past summer Americans were helpless as cities from coast to coast burned in response to the killing of George Floyd and they were told the violence was understandable and “mostly peaceful protests”.  This past year many Americans saw their lives upended as their jobs or businesses were destroyed, their families turned into strangers and churches and schools turned into ghost towns as a result of a disease with a 99.99% survival rate, but we were told that America was facing the gravest public health threat in history.  Now we’re watching as children are taught that math is racist, that hard work is racist, and there is no difference between boys and girls and we’re told that all of this is healthy and reasonable.

At the same time, we’ve watched our history upended as we see monuments to our heroes, from Columbus to Washington to Grant and Lincoln to Booker T. Washington to Reagan toppled in the name of racism!  We’ve watched the indoctrination of grievance as the defining characteristic of American life.  We’ve witnessed the politicization of every single aspect of American society, where everything from sitcoms to sports to sex no longer have intrinsic value on their own, but rather have become mere Rorschach tests for measuring one’s degree of submission to the new normal. 

America has become a nation where objective reality no longer matters, where the free exchange of ideas is no longer allowed and where the exercise of an individual’s rights are tolerated only to the degree that they do not hurt the feelings of some aggrieved victim class.  America has become a bizzarro world where everything from science to math and history to law are no longer constants upon which society rests but rather malleable frameworks for the destruction of everything that does not comport with todays’ woke mores. 

And so it is thorough this looking glass one wonders what is the solution?  In 2016 Americans went to the ballot box and said they’d had enough of the perversion of everything ostensibly American into a cancer on the history of the world and elected a leader who was unabashedly patriotic.  After four years of constant, relentless lies about said leader they returned to the ballot box and reelected the man who was seeking to upend the demonization of America, only to have the election stolen under the cover of the night.  That theft was enabled by the fiction of an existential threat to life on earth posed by a novel virus. Americans went to the ballot box and their will was thwarted.

Rather than set the nation afire, jilted voters looked to the courts for a Constitutional remedy.  A split Supreme Court had demurred from solving the problem before the election but after the election had the opportunity to revisit the question before the votes were certified.  Again they demurred. Once the fraudulent administration was in place the Court had one last opportunity to address the fraud once and for all, and again chose not to act.

So we have a circumstance where citizens go to the polls only to watch those votes stolen.  They then petition the nation’s highest court for redress and are rebuffed.  As they watch the cabal who perpetrated the theft work to institutionalize the very tools with which they purloined the election in the first place, what are citizens who revere the Constitution and love liberty supposed to do?

Do they stand by and watch as what’s left of their country is taken over by those for whom freedom and rule of law are simply obstacles to the permanent domination over the nation?  Become slaves on a modern day plantation where Silicon Valley, Wall Street and Washington are the masters and the woke anarchists are the overseers who keep everyone in line?  Riot in the streets like BLM and Antifa have done so often?

Or they could pursue secession, where the woke are welcome to the coasts while the heartland and the south choose freedom and the Constitution…  It is indeed a radical notion, but the constant of the free America most of us knew is gone so perhaps the time has come...  When all conventional Constitutional avenues have been impeded, when opponents seek to eliminate citizens’ Constitutional rights and thwart the language of the document itself, what other choice is left?  We can accept the slow death of the Republic as the gangrene of wokness starves the body politic of the blood of freedom, or amputate the cancerous limbs and allow freedom to flow once again through the veins of a nation defined by liberty.  The left has made the radical normal.  Secession is a radical solution that sadly doesn’t seem so radical any more.