Best of the End of April

1.Yale grad students go on a hunger strike. After earlier efforts to get Yale to start collective bargaining proved unsuccessful, eight hardy souls took the brave step of going on a hunger strike. But this isn’t just a regular hunger strike — it’s a “symbolic” hunger strike! Do you know what that means, outside of the cloistered walls of Yale?

It means that they can eat. Yes, they’re on a hunger strike that doesn’t actually involve getting hungry. Because they can freaking eat! During a hunger strike!!

In a slick video – it’s in black and white, and is underlaid with a poignant piano accompaniment, so you know that these noble folks are SERIOUS – one English major (can you believe it?) named Lukas Moe says, “I hope that the fast will convey the urgency of the situation.” Oh, I’m sure it will, Moe. (And feel free to insert your own Curly and Larry jokes here.) Because nothing conveys earth-shaking urgency like near martyrs standing up for what they believe in, By Any Means Necessary… until they get slightly peckish.

I know that we live in a cynical age, but my hat’s off to those Ivy League Nelson Mandelas; they’ve learned that simply by sticking the word “symbolic” in front of another word, you can accrue all of the moral rewards with absolutely no sacrifice. I picture a bunch of undergrads on the quad, one-upping each other:

“I’ve taken a vow of symbolic poverty, you know.”
“But don’t you have a trust fund?”
“Yes, I’m rolling in dough. But I’m symbolically poor.”

“Did I mention that I’ve take a vow of symbolic chastity?”
“You’ve really sworn off women?”
“What? No! I mean, most women won’t have anything to do with me, because I’ve got less testosterone than a post-surgery Caitlyn Jenner. But whenever I can find one who isn’t totally repulsed by the sight of me, I’m all over her like a cheap suit.”
“But you’re still symbolically chaste, right? Sweet!”

“Guys, did I mention I’m a symbolic vegetarian?”
“Isn’t that barbecue sauce on your chin?”
“Yes it is. Why?”

It’s true what they say: those Yale kids are smart!
But you know who’s even smarter? That’s right: me.

Because I am a free market capitalist, and all of this has given me a brilliant idea for a new business. I’m going to buy a fleet of food trucks, and I’m going to dispatch them from Stately Simpson Manor to every Ivy League campus in the nation, where they’ll earn me millions of dollars… wait for it… catering all-you-can-eat hunger strikes!

I’ve already got my corporate logo: it’s a raised fist, holding a hot dog, over the motto, “Have a little relish with your Resistance!”

2. Speaking of precious, morally preening goofballs, you’ve probably read that ex-President Obama – and oh, the joy that that tiny prefix “ex-“ gives me – is going to take $400K to give a speech. Now some might accuse the famous class warrior of hypocrisy, citing his off-teleprompter gaffe (i.e. a time when he accidentally told the truth about his world view), “I mean, I do think at a certain point, you’ve made enough money.” But to be fair to him, he did say that at some point YOU’VE made enough money – he didn’t say that HE’S made enough money. Because he obviously hasn’t, yet.

But let’s give the guy a break. I mean, if he wants to take a ton of cash for speaking to some morally admirable group, like the Shriners, or St. Jude’s, or–

What’s that, you say? He’s not speaking to one of those groups, but to a Wall Street group?

Well, that must be one of those selfless, non-profit Wall Street groups that funds old folks’ homes and orphanages, right?

What? Cantor Fitzgerald? Huh. I’ll bet he’s really going to give those fat cats hell. And then he’s going to hammer than $400K check. He’s symbolically morally consistent, isn’t he?

3. The feel-good story of the spring, which CO in his wisdom has
already linked to: murderous ISIS scumbags are preparing to ambush more innocent people. For their hiding place, they’ve chosen a reedy area in Iraq. Also sharing that reedy area: a small herd of wild boars.

Now apparently the word had gotten around in the porcine community about how jihadis believe that all pigs and pig-adjacent animals are filthy, unclean creatures. Anyway, the smelly animals are surprised by the stampeding wild boars (HA!), who kill 3 jihadis and badly injure 5 others.

Would you think less of me if I admitted that I like to imagine the boars catching the jihadis from behind in a full gallop, their sharp tusks leading the way into what I like to call a “Mesopotamian Deliverance” move? (In the video, which I imagine in black and white, a lonesome banjo begins to play in the distance, as Uday and Qusay look back over their shoulders, then at each other in confusion, and then terror.)

4. In a bid for “Worst Broadcast Presentation Ever” – move over, Amy Schumer’s“Let Me Tell You How Physically Repulsive I Am” comedy special, and Rachel Maddow’s “Donald Trump’s Non-Scandalous Tax Returns” comedy special — Bill Nye, the alleged science guy, inexplicably has a new series on Netflix. And that series is gouge-your-eyes-out awful.

Is it rude of me to point out that Bill Nye is not actually a scientist? He got a BA in mechanical engineering decades ago, and he wore a lab coat and handled beakers on a kid’s show. So that makes him a scientist.

By comparison, I don’t like to brag, but I took eighth grade science twice, and thus I can go on and on about how nanoplankton and phytoplankton are mortal enemies. And if you’ll look at the second page of my CV, you’ll see that I spent a lot of lab time in high school working on inventing either an invisibility formula or X-ray glasses. And yet no one ever called me “Martin, the Science Guy.” They just said, “Get away from the girls’ locker room, you Clinton-esque creep.”

Anyway, if you can watch just one segment of Bill Nye’s horrible program – and believe me, if you value your sanity, that is the MOST you can watch of it – google a little ditty called, “My Sex Junk.” And prepare to be dazzled by what we can only pray is meant to be funny.

The “song” starts out with the immortal line, “This one goes out to all my bipeds who identify as ladies,” and then – in a feat of lyrical gymnastics that I would not have believed possible – goes downhill from there.

You’ve got to see it to believe it, because no description can do it justice. Would it help if I told you that it has an Asian lady dressed like a seahorse playing keyboards? Or lyrics that mention French dirigible Gerard Depardieu? Or suggestive imagery that will make you want to Caitlyn yourself? It’s all of that and more. But don’t say that you weren’t warned.

On the other hand, for those of you who remember when rap music was all “n” words and misogyny, this video will make you pine for those golden days of yore.

And on behalf of modern Western culture, let me address the emperors of Rome’s late decadent period: You remember when we used to condemn you for your decadence – for the drunken orgies, and having relations with your siblings, and making your horse the Pope? Never mind.

5. Finally, new DNC head Tom Perez is turning out to be quite the little slice of sweetness and light, isn’t he? Winning his position mostly because his main competition was a Farrakhan-loving anti-semite loon, getting booed by those who should be his base in favor of a 128-year old socialist, constantly swearing in public.

Then comes his latest “big tent” masterstroke of telling all pro-life Democrats that they’re not welcome in the party.

Because nothing will help the Dems reach out to those God-fearing blue collar types in the middle of the country – where Hillary got stomped like a fat guy at Altamonte (hat tip to Dennis Miller) – like excommunicating everyone who’s not down with the Gosnell approach to population control.

The best thing he has going for him is that almost no one in the country other than politics geeks know who he is. So I would like to be the first to make a contribution to the “Perez for Prez in 2020” campaign. Sure, it’s going to be a symbolic contribution – you know, the kind that doesn’t involve giving him any actual money. But I will humbly offer him two potential slogans, both of which are definitely better than “I’m with Her!”:

“We hate you, rest of the Country.” Or “Vote for us, you deplorable bigots!”

Best of Mid-April

1.I always appreciate a lampooning of someone who deserves it, and this month I read just such a written mauling. The author was someone called T.A. Frank, the article was, “Please God, Stop Chelsea Clinton from Whatever She is Doing,” and the publication was (mirabile dictu) Vanity Fair. If you like good snark, well delivered, you should read that article.

I can only add a few other thoughts:

First, I generally like to blame Chelsea for nothing, because she had a horrible childhood at the hands of absolutely terrible parents. But she’s 37 now, so c’mon.

Second, how bad must Chelsea be, to drive a leftist writer in Vanity Fair to openly invoke the Deity in the title of an article about her? I know that it’s used ironically, but still.

Third, Mr. Frank, you’ve got to cut out the T.A thing, and just use your name. You must not have heard of Simpson’s Law of Initials (which I am just now making up), which states that people who use their initials usually have terrible names.

Great writer C.S. Lewis’s parents stuck him with “Clive Staples.” The Cummings family – not satisfied with the surname that their son was already going to suffer with – nailed him with “Edward Estlin.” (He was so badly beaten up throughout grade school that even as an adult, he never regained the ability to use capital letters. True story.) I knew an old guy who went by A.M, and that made perfect sense when I later learned that his name was Ambrose Marvin. Ouch.

On the other side of the ledger: Oklahoma quarterback and later GOP politician J.C. Watts? Julius (freaking) Caesar – I am not making that up. He should have never used those initials, because nothing could be cooler than answering your kindergarten roll call with a hearty “Here!” when your teacher called out a Roman emperor’s name. If my parents had blessed me with “Marcus Aurelius Simpson,” do you think I would be going by M.A.? I would not.

Anyway, T.A., if you use those initials, you are risking that we’re all distracted, imagining terrible names that are probably worse than your real name. Like Theodore Aloysius.

Ugh! I couldn’t help myself, and I tried to Google his name, and can’t find it anywhere. Now I’m going to obsess over it. Tenuous Alvin? Thelonius Asperger? (Although “Thelonius” is now eternally cool, since Monk.)

Anyway, Thaddeus Acclimate writes a hell of an article, and you should read it.

My favorite part was a small bit from Chelsea’s book It’s Your World, in which she is quoted thusly: “My mom wouldn’t let me have sugary cereal growing up (more on that later)…” Have you ever read a less enticing use of parentheses? Can you picture anyone reading that line and screaming in frustration, “Later? How can I wait?! You don’t just toss out a tease like that and then leave us hanging!”

On the other hand, if she had said, “My mom wouldn’t let me have my girlfriends over for slumber parties when dad was in town (more on that later)…?” Now I’m hooked. I’m flipping through pages in a blur like the meth just kicked in, scanning random pages before I desperately tear into the appendix, looking for “slumber party.”

2. Laughable MSM bias, exhibit # 11 million. When a racist terrorist murders three random bystanders in Fresno CA, the AP story quoted him as shouting “God is great,” before the killings. But he didn’t say that. What he said was, “Allahu akbar.” Can you detect the subtle difference there? No? Then you might have the makings of a MSM reporter.

Obligatory caveat: I know that most Muslims are fine people, and very few of them go on killing sprees in the name of their religion. But does anyone think we are doing anybody any long-term good by pretending to not notice which group has a killing spree problem?

If I were in charge of students in J-school and at the police academy – and I think we can all agree that I should be – I’d make a condition of graduation taking a one-question common sense quiz:

You get a call to a violent attack in your town. The attacker is said to have driven a truck into pedestrians, or used a pipe bomb or an AK 47 or a machete in his attack, and early reports are that he was screaming something at the top of his lungs while he did so. Is it more likely that he was screaming:

A. Jesus loves me, THIS I KNOW!
B. Dreidel, dreidel, dreidel, I MADE IT OUT OF CLAY!
C. That government is best which GOVERNS LEAST!
D. ALLAHU AKBAR!

Anybody who ponders the question for more than 2 seconds fails. (And takes an executive position with the AP, sadly.)

3. Speaking of the media, a Washington Post/ABC poll shows that if the last presidential election were held today, Trump would beat Hillary, including in the popular vote. I’m not sure how much stock to put in such a poll – it’s a hypothetical, and election losers always lose support in the aftermath – but it certainly undercuts the MSM narrative that Trump is plummeting in the polls, he’s disappointed his base, his defeat in 2020 is a foregone conclusion, etc.

But I love the poll just because it makes me think about all of those lefties sitting around the Post, realizing that they’d commissioned this poll, and they were going to have to publish it. If ever a situation cried out for the Hitler-screaming-at-his-generals from Downfall meme, this one is it!

4. Ossoff doesn’t quite win. Pajama Boy is all grown up – or as grown up as he’s going to get, anyway — and he’s running for congress. The Dems pony up over $8 million, a bunch of celebrities throw in their support – because that always works! – but the empty suit wunderkind comes up short of the majority he needed, which means that he’ll likely lose to the GOP nominee in June.

The best part of the story? When Ossoff talked to the press, he called his almost-not-losing – and I am not making this quote up – “A victory for the ages!”

Call me crazy, but that phrase makes me think of many events — Cannae (Hannibal vs. the Romans), Austerlitz (Napoleon versus everybody else), Vienna (Christian Europe v. Muslim Ottomans), or Gettysburg (Lincoln’s Republicans vs. slaveholding Democrats).

You know what battle I DON’T think of? Unknown metrosexual vs. a dozen unknown Republicans that results in a run-off for a Georgia House seat. But I guess the Dems need to take their victories where they can get them. Which is somewhere other than Georgia, apparently. Cue the sad trombone.

5. The UN votes Saudi Arabia onto the Women’s Rights Commission. Ugh. I think we all know what should happen next, right? Nikki Haley marches into their chambers, her stilettos echoing on the marble floors, cracking a whip over her head as her dark eyes flash angrily… Um, that is what we were all thinking, right? No? It’s just me? Fine.

So let’s just get straight to The Simpson Method of Determining Membership on a Women’s Rights Commission (copyright now, by me) which involves asking the applicants three wickedly subtle questions:

1. Are the women in your country not allowed to drive a car?
2. Are gay women in your country stoned to death?
3. Are women who are raped in your country then stoned to death?

Anyone who answers “yes” to any of those questions does NOT get onto the Women’s Rights Commission. Problem solved, and you’re welcome.

6. When it comes to Trump’s Wall, I thought I’d heard every possible leftist objection: it’s racist, it’s Not Who We Are, it’s expensive, it’s not gluten free, etc.

But this month, some “scientists” pointed out a new problem, which the MSM then picked up with gusto: it will harm various migratory animal species. I have to admit that I hadn’t thought about that, and at first blush it certainly seemed plausible, and as an animal lover, that bothered me. Until I read that those soon-to-be-devastated creatures included “108 species of migratory birds.”

Now it’s been a long time since I won that Nobel Prize in Ornithology – bilingual ornithology, if I can be allowed to toot my own horn — and I haven’t kept up on recent developments in the field. But if I remember correctly, many birds can fly.

Sure, a few can’t. You’ve got your chickens, your ostriches, your emi. (Not many non-ornithologists know that the proper Latin plural of “emu” is “emi.” Again, you’re welcome.)

But are those leftist Chicken Littles (HA!) really expecting us to believe that there are hundreds of bird species out there who migrate ON FOOT?

They will stop at nothing to tug at our heartstrings, and I’ve got to admit that that PSA almost writes itself: Sarah McLaughlin sings softly in the background, while endless hordes of bedraggled birds trudge along through scorching sand, wincing at every step, until they bonk into a big black wall that looks like Sauron built it. Then they stack up like cordwood at the base, quacking and bleating and making whatever other sounds they make (I didn’t really get a Nobel in Ornithology), while Trump and Ryan laugh from atop the wall as they start to tip over huge cauldrons of boiling oil onto the hapless birds.

And not for the first time do I wish that Sam Kinison was still with us, because you know that he’d bust into the middle of that PSA and start berating the birds: “Have you been WALKING across this freaking desert? Really?! Your feet have either tiny claws or webs on them – doesn’t that tell you something? I’ve got an idea: how about you USE YOUR WINGS!! They’re right there on your backs. FLAP THEM! OH! OOOHHHH!”

We miss you, Sam. We don’t miss Harry Reid, or Obama, or Hillary. But we miss you.

First 3 Months of Trump

It’s traditional by now to make a big deal out of a new president’s first 100 days. To get a 10 day jump on those other pundits, I’m going to pick an equally arbitrary number – today marks his first 3 months in office – to give Trump an early grade.

I’m breaking down my take to the Good, the Bad and the Ugly (copyright 50 years ago, by Sergio Leone). (And if you haven’t seen that movie, what’s wrong with you? Men a-bed in America tonight should hold their manhoods cheap if they haven’t seen that Eastwood gem. In fact, you could do worse – manhood-wise – than to spend a chunk of your life immersed in all things Shakespeare and Eastwood, with some Walter Payton and Johnny Cash thrown in.)

Where was I? Oh yeah. In reverse order:

Trump: the Ugly

Put aside the obvious jokes about the hair – that’s beneath us all.

One of the two main things about Trump that continually grate on me involves his style: his unserious, immature vulgarity and semi-vulgarity. The Access Hollywood interview is probably the archetypal example, but others are sadly easy to find, on an almost daily basis.

The latest example: when he recounted his decision to fire the missiles at Syria, he described how he was having dinner with Chinese leader Xi (and by the way, China, nice going with the names. You do realize you’ve chosen the Roman numeral for “eleven” as your top guy, right?), he spent more time on how great the chocolate cake was (It was beautiful, the best chocolate cake ever, believe me.) than on the fact that he ordered a missile strike.

At least once a week he says something that’s crudely phrased enough that I face palm myself; at this pace, if he wins a second term, I’m going to finish 2024 looking like I just lost a cage match.

The Bad
The second Trump quality that bothers me is that he’s not a conservative, and that was the main reason I didn’t vote for him in the primary. He is a lifelong Democrat who joined the GOP 10 minutes before his presidential run, and the malleability of his political convictions is a constant source of concern.

While some of his positions are conservative – he knows that high taxes hurt the economy, he knows the MSM are corrupt leftists, he loves America and is no globalist – others are leftist — he doesn’t seem to see any problems with protectionism, and doesn’t hesitate to bully companies or others with whom he disagrees – while others are just idiosyncratic and ego-driven: he likes people who like him and doesn’t like those who don’t.

The low point of his first three months was watching him push a first attempt at health care “reform” that enshrined most of the disastrous big-government controls of Obamacare, and then to be most incensed at the principled conservatives in the Freedom Caucus for opposing that mess.

The Good
All of that being said, I’m still pretty happy with the first three months, for a lot of reasons:

1.Gorsuch.

2. Trump’s vulgar style strikes me as a venial sin rather than a mortal one, and is counter-balanced by his willingness to fight back. While most people think of me as a sophisticated polymathic high-brow gentleman (stop laughing), I’ve got a vulgar streak of my own, and appreciate crudity when it is aimed at a deserving target. My favorite debate moment was when Hillary finished bloviating about how she is glad that someone like Trump was not in the Oval Office, and he got in a verbal rib-kick: “Because you’d be in jail.”

One of my other favorite moments was when he defended himself against false charges that he’d paid Russian hookers to urinate on him by saying, “I’m also very much of a germaphobe, by the way. Believe me.” (First item on the list “Things Mitt Romney would Never Say in a Million Years”: “Probably the most convincing reason to believe that I’ve never paid foreign prostitutes to pee on me is that that is just gross.”) The Fake News chant is sophomoric. But it’s mostly true.

The bottom line is that after a string of GOP players who saw it as beneath them to fight the Left (Bushes 41 and 43, McCain, Romney), Trump is willing to throw a punch, and for me, that covers a multitude of his sins.

3. I’d rather have a president acting on consistent ideological principles, rather than changeable instincts. But his instincts are often better than many of us expected: illegal immigrants are a problem, America is exceptional, the problem in the Middle East is not Israel, you don’t give Iran nukes.

These should not be tough issues, but our last president couldn’t grasp such subtleties.

4. His appointments have been surprisingly good: T-Rex at state, Mad Dog Mattis, Sessions is giving the right people hell, Mnuchin knows a bit about the economy, a physician (Price) in charge of Health, Nikki “joy of man’s desiring” Haley at the UN. Education sec De Vos is no genius, but she knows enough to push educational choice and resist public ed unions, and EPA head Pruitt knows that the EPA has wildly over-reached.

Of course there have been a few mis-steps (I’m looking at you, Flynn), as there always are.

But consider this: dopey Trump picked the Murderer’s Row listed above, and put Gorzilla on the Supreme Court. Who did world-renowned Nobel Peace Prize Winner Sophocles Obama appoint?

Whitey-haters like Van Jones and Eric Holder, “tax cheat Timmy” Geithner (at Treasury!), Oklahoma strong safety Janet Napolitano at Homeland Security (after which she went to Berkley, which tells you all you need to know), “Lurch” Kerry and Hillary as SecState (quick, name an accomplishment, other than “Most Miles Traveled,” which is the equivalent of a participation trophy).

And that’s not mentioning the aptly named Loretta Lynch! (How bad does your judgment have to be when Eric Holder is arguably NOT your worst Attorney General pick?!)

5. In what is probably the most back-handed compliment possible, I’m happier with Trump because the other options are so much worse.

The Dems are beyond awful, in so many ways that no argument is necessary beyond listing their recent accomplishments: almost doubling 230+ years of national debt in 8 years, you can keep your plan and doctor, Benghazi, Harry Reid, “tell Vlad I’ll have more flexibility after this election,” Lois Lerner, private server, “you have to pass the bill to learn what’s in it,” creepy Chuck Schumer, creepier Jonathan Gruber, one 128-year-old socialist candidate who’s never done an honest day’s work in his life, another who enabled her hideous husband’s repeated sexual assaults and who couldn’t beat Donald Trump in an election, et freaking cetera.

But the GOP establishment is no prize either: they promise for 7 years to repeal and replace Obamacare and then shrink from it; they promise to cut taxes and then shrink from it; they gain power in Congress because of their conservative base and then attack that base far more vociferously than they ever attacked the far left jerks who have fought dirty against them for decades.

Even on issues where the public is solidly behind them – stop illegal immigration! – they have to be dragged into taking action against their will.

If I had to grade Trump on his first 3 months:
For style and words: C –
For substance and actions: high B.

If I’m grading on a curve, and the other class members are Obama, Hillary, Congressional Dems, GOP establishment: easy A.

A Meditation on How Lucky We Are to Live in the 21st Century

One overarching sign that life today is better than ever is that — for those living in America, at least — to a greater extent than ever before in human history, today you have to volunteer for bad things to happen to you.

Throughout the long march of human history, you only had to do one thing to flirt with disaster: be born. In fact, even managing to be born in the first place meant that you had already overcome dozens of potential dangers that struck a great number of your fetal peers. If you managed to enter the world without you or your mother dying in the process, you were looking at a crucial first five or seven years during which the odds of surviving were against you.

Global life expectancy of 30-some years didn’t happen because lots of 35 year olds were dying, but because those who made it into their 60s were more than counterbalanced by all of the dead children littering the landscape.

But say you make it out of adolescence. Now you’re cool, right? You’re eating organic, pesticide-free foods, working out in the fresh air with docile, non-internal- combustion-engine-equipped animals, blissfully unaffected by polluting industries and micro-aggressions and Kardashians.

Actually, no. You faced an everyday existence fraught with peril.

Plague struck randomly. You got diseases from your animals, or floods washed your animals into your house, and then your animals and your house away. When floods weren’t drowning you, fires were roasting you alive. If you read the average big city newspaper from the 19th or early 20th century, you read about fire after fire, with only an epidemic or two to break the monotony.

And the fires weren’t modern little, “By the time firefighters got the blaze under control Joe lost his garage and part of the living room” mini-blazes; they were entire-block conflagrations, as rows of wooden buildings went up together, stopped only by a wide street at the end of the block. Today in the aftermath of a routine fire, one family has smoke and water damage to the kitchen and an adjoining bedroom.

In the 19th century, we lost Chicago.

The worst thing about all of this was our helplessness in the face of calamity. Say plague strikes your village. Do you pray and try to make a deal with God to spare your family? Move to the next village over? Cover yourself with leeches and hope for the best? It was all a big crap shoot, and everyone had similar lousy chances at surviving.

The contrast with our modern life is nowhere clearer than in statistics surrounding mortality. Look at what killed people a hundred years ago: fever, small pox, polio, the flu. Today you treat fevers with something over the counter. Small pox is gone, and so is polio. Unless you are very, very old, or have an already seriously compromised immune system, the flu just means a missed week of work.

Today’s big killers are all signs of our civilization’s extraordinary success. The leading causes of death are related to either very old age (in which case you already beat the odds and had a full run) or voluntarily stupid and/or self-destructive behavior (smoking, alcohol or drug abuse, obesity, a sedentary lifestyle or horrible diet).

Look at the list again. If you smoke in the 21st century, you’ve got no one to blame but yourself. The dominant motif on the packaging is a skull and bones, and by the time most of us hit puberty we’ve seen more anti-smoking PSAs than we have witless sitcoms. Ditto for alcohol and drugs. And obesity? It’s epidemic, we’re told.

C’mon. The Black Death – THAT was an epidemic. Ebola, okay. Hemorragic fever, malaria, I’m with you.

But obesity? I remind you of an old Sam Kinison bit, when he heard someone mourning Karen Carpenter’s death from anorexia and saying that there’s no cure: “No cure? No cure! Karen, have a sandwich!! You’re cured.”

We’ve got it so good that we could prevent thousands of deaths by a simple first graders’ lunch swap: the anorexics trade their bag lunches (two carrots and a celery stick) for the richly laden trays of the obese folks, and we’ve cured two birds with one dietary stone, as it were.

It’s not just deaths from health problems, either.  Read a week’s worth of stories recounting traffic fatalities in your local paper and add up the death toll.

Now subtract the deaths of those who were drunk or high at the time. Next subtract those who were speeding at least 20 miles over posted limits. Check off the motorcyclist who decided to ride without a helmet. Note the 4’6” 94 year old peering from underneath the steering wheel with 20/1000 vision who never saw what hit her. Finally, look for that “the deceased was not wearing a seatbelt” tag line.

In the final analysis, about the only non-voluntary way you die in a traffic accident today is by having the bad luck to be hit by a speeding drunk driver, or by a flying, unbelted passenger ejected from that jackass’ car.

Of course I’m not saying that someone who rides without a seat belt deserves to die, or that a speeder’s death isn’t tragic. But they are essentially voluntary. If you can’t take 30 seconds to buckle up, or you choose to ride a motorcycle with only your eggshell-fragile skull to protect your brain, you can’t be shocked at the unfairness of the universe when the entirely predictable happens.

Similarly, my heart breaks for people who are stricken with leukemia, or multiple sclerosis, or mysterious tumors. But 30-year smokers with lung cancer, or 40-year drinkers with cirrhosis of the liver? Still sad, and a great loss to their loved ones. But an unfair tragedy? Not so much.

Finally, it’s not just health-related problems or mortality that we can usually voluntarily avoid. We can also avoid the vast majority of economic hardships. (Okay, there is one huge caveat here: the assumption that you’ve got the great good fortune to be living in a semi-free market, capitalist economy.) Leaving aside the fact that living in “poverty” in America is still living in relative luxury by world and/or historical standards, many people are firmly convinced that poverty is a real possibility — almost a default trajectory — for much if not most of the population.

To the contrary, lots of demographic research suggests that voluntary behaviors are far and away the biggest factors in determining economic destiny. In fact, if you manage to do three things in your life, you have only a tiny chance of ever living below the poverty line as an adult: 1. Graduate high school, 2. Don’t get married or have kids until you are 21 years old, 3. Get a full-time job. (See this piece from Brookings Institution for one among many sources on this issue: https://www.brookings.edu/…/three-simple-rules-poor-teens-…/)

These are not exactly accomplishments that come along with extra points for high difficulty.

Yes, I know, many readers are probably objecting right now, because they know that poverty is convincingly correlated with non-voluntary factors such as geographic location (there is more poverty in the south), race (minorities are harder hit) and gender (so are women), etc. But let’s consider these objections one at a time.

It’s true that geographic location is a factor, which I well know, having come from the Midwestern rust belt, where many good-paying manufacturing jobs were lost between my parent’s generation and mine. But location is finally voluntary, too. People leave depressed areas for jobs in thriving areas all the time, and it is no longer a Joad-like tramp from one economic dust bowl to another.

It’s true that some individuals have urgent reasons to stay in a depressed area – usually family ties or emotional connections – but those motivations are not coercion. Such people are choosing to pay an economic price to satisfy an emotional need, and who’s to say that they are wrong?

But race and gender are clearly not voluntary, and a mountain of studies demonstrate statistical connections between race, gender and poverty, right?

Well, no. Look at such studies carefully, and you always find faulty (and often intentionally misleading) use of statistics. For example, we all “know” that “women earn 75% (or 63% or 82%) of what men do,” or that “minorities are much more likely to be poor than are whites.” In fact, these kind of claims can be easily disproven by correcting for other causal factors.

The gender claims are meant to give the impression that equally experienced and qualified men and women working side-by-side in identical jobs are being differently paid because of their gender. But once you correct for voluntary factors – women choose lower paying fields, and are much more likely to take long sabbaticals from work for child-raising, etc. – pay differentials disappear.

Of course, I just skipped over some huge political arguments that deal with the biological differences and societal pressures that “push” women toward leaving the workplace to raise children, and toward certain “helping” professions fields that pay less well. And for the sake of argument I’ll grant that: biology imposes different child care imperatives on the sexes, and for centuries and more, society has added to such disparities by gender-coding much lower-paying work as “feminine.”

But the fact remains that for the last 40 years and more, huge numbers of women have resisted such societal pressures, and carved out places for themselves in every profession and at all levels of prestige and income. It’s relatively unusual for women to pursue engineering, or accounting or computer science. But when they do, they earn the same money as their equally experienced, qualified and experienced male counterparts. When you control for such obviously relevant factors, gender-based salary disparities disappear, in socially coded “female” and “male” work fields alike.

The same principle applies to racial and ethnic differences. When we control for the voluntary choices that individuals make (to drop out of high school, to bear children out of wedlock, to commit crimes), racial differences in economic outcome virtually disappear.

That’s not to say that historical racism didn’t exist, or that many people don’t hold ethnic prejudices today. But those ugly factors don’t determine your destiny, and the evidence for that is everywhere: blacks and Hispanics who graduate high school, get married at 25 and postpone having children until they are married are as economically successful as their white counterparts, just as whites who drop out and have out of wedlock children are as economically unsuccessful as their minority counterparts. Regardless of the admitted disparities attached to racial and gender discrimination, the determinative factor isn’t race or gender, but behavior.

And therein lies an uncomfortable but ultimately liberating truth.

While it may be psychologically comforting in the short run to see yourself as a victim of forces beyond your control, you are deceiving yourself, and selling yourself short. Even if you’ve gotten yourself into a jam now, the glass is still half full. If you want to avoid most health-related and economic problems, the answer is deceptively simple: do your best to avoid volunteering for them.

Best of April 1-8 2017

I don’t usually write a “Best of the Month” column until the end of a month. (Go figure.) But April has gotten off to such an amazing start that I cannot wait. So I give you, “The Best of the first 8 Days of April.”

1.Stanford admits future colossal pain-in-the-butt minority Muslim kid whose application essay consisted of “#BlackLivesMatter” written 100 times. You can google the story for the details, but you can also probably predict the broad outlines without doing so: entitled little jerk, posts picture of himself with duct tape over his mouth to symbolize how oppressed he is, lots of vacuous statements to the effect that America is horribly racist and Islamophobic, etc.

Somehow, in only 18 years this kid has turned himself into almost everything that’s obnoxious in our culture right now. (The only trope he misses: doesn’t “identify as” another gender. So he’s got that going for him.) But the crucial question is not what’s wrong with this kid — it’s what’s wrong with Stanford!

I grew up with guys who might make jokes like this on a homework assignment: the directions on an Algebra quiz say, “Find X…” and we circle the X in the formula and draw an arrow to it, writing, “Here it is.” But that was on a math quiz. That counted for less than a tiny percentage of a high school grade. In a midwestern farm community high school where we weren’t particularly concerned with our high school GPA during high school, let alone afterwards. Not on an application for admission into one of America’s formerly great institutions of higher learning!

On a more serious note, I can’t help but think of the thousands of kids across the country who spend many hours writing and re-writing their application essays, sweating over the details as they try to anticipate what to include and exactly how to phrase every sentence. And this little creep spends 28 seconds copy-and-pasting the most hackneyed, idiotic phrase you can think of, and he gets a spot at Stanford.

Note to the Stanford admissions committee: Please watch the “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” scene from The Shining. Do you see the look of growing horror in Shelly Duvall’s eyes as she realizes what her husband has been writing? THAT’S how you’re supposed to react when you receive a document made up of mindlessly repeated, banal scrawling.

You DON’T give Jack Nicholson’s character an endowed professorship! (Quick cut to mid August, in a dorm at Stanford. Some kid with a genius IQ who spent 3 weeks agonizing over his application essay is unpacking his stuff, when the door bursts open and a wild-eyed snowflake bounds through screaming, “Heeeeeerrrreee’s Ahmed!!”) Great job, Stanford!

2. Nikki Haley being a boss at the UN. Not since I first saw an early 1980s Nena (and if you’re just joining us, drop everything and watch the Germanic adorableness that is the 99 Luft Balloons video on Youtube right this minute), have I been as smitten as I am by 2017 Nikki Haley giving speeches at the UN.

In her first months on the job, she’s already lambasted the daily knee-jerk condemnations of Israel while overlooking human rights abuses everywhere else, slapped down Bolivia’s attempt to discuss Syria’s child-gassing behind closed doors (“Any country that chooses to defend the atrocities of the Syrian regime will have to do so in full public view, for all the world to hear.”), among many other rhetorical “drop the mike” moments.

Almost all coverage of her, even by our reflexively hostile leftist press, has noted that she minces no words. And after two terms of the Obama administration and their 8 consecutive gold medals in Greco-Roman Word Mincing, she’s a breath of fresh air, to say the least.

In fact, I’m not sure whether I now consider Nikki Haley more of a brilliant Indian-American Nena, or if I consider 1983 Nena as more of an irresistibly cute German Nikki Haley. The point is, I can’t get enough Nikki Haley. The only way I think her next speech could be better than her last several would be if she came out in skinny jeans and a black leather jacket, kicking red balloons out into the annoyed faces of the wretched hive of scum and villainy that make up the human-rights-trampling kleptocrats of the UN.

3. Elizabeth Warren screws her female staffers on pay. Several media outlets revealed – oh, the delicious combination of irony and hypocrisy – that Faux-cohantas Warren (the judges would also have accepted “Lie-awatha”) pays her female staffers between 29-31% less than their male counterparts, depending on how you count. (Details here, among other places: http://www.washingtontimes.com/…/elizabeth-warrens-office-…/)

Even sweeter than the scandal is the immediate leftist response throughout the media, which in addition to ad hominem attacks and quibbling over various ways to slice and dice the data, point out that we must go apples-to-apples: it’s not fair to compare the salaries of part-time or less-experienced or low-level employees to the salaries of the more experienced and highly skilled.

What?! You mean to say that it is wrong to lump all females and all males into two groups, and simplistically compare their pay without considering the glaring differences among them — males overwhelmingly take the most dangerous jobs, work more hours over more years with less time out of the workforce, etc.? Why, wouldn’t doing that completely eviscerate the infuriatingly persistent myth that women are paid less than men for the same work?

Yes. Yes it would. It would do exactly that. So put that in your peace pipe and smoke it, Senator Speaks-with-Forked-Tongue.

4. Heather MacDonald shouted down by mob of campus idiots. MacDonald, a cogent and persuasive thinker – if you don’t read City Journal, to which she regularly contributes, you should – quixotically decided to give a thoughtful talk on a modern college campus. Dealing with the harsh realities of policing in our BLM-infested society (if you haven’t read her 2016 book The War on Cops, you should), her talk was received with respectful attention, followed by a spirited but reasonable back-and-forth dialogue. A few protestors outside also expressed themselves, delighting a large audience with thought-provoking poetic chants that evoked the wry wit of Shakespeare and Keats.

HA! Of course, I kid. In fact, the drooling mob of infantile Philistines prevented students who wanted to hear MacDonald from getting in. When she decided to live stream her talk from an empty room, and started early to thwart some of the idiots outside, she was soon drowned out by screams of “Shut it down!” Cowardly campus officials caved, and gave her a police escort to leave the campus. All the while, tolerant leftist social justice warriors roughed up and harassed reporters and reasonable students outside, while chanting doggerel like, “From Oakland to Greece, f*** the police.” (When contacted for comment, the people of Greece said, “Whoa, whoa, leave us out of this, you childish morons.”)

One of the most telling indictments of the left is the state of intolerance and hostility to intellectual challenge that they’ve established on the campuses over which they have almost total control. Fortunately, these chanting goofballs reliably serve as an apt warning of the disasters that will befall us if we give them similar power over society at large.

5. The nuclear option is invoked, and the Gorsuch-ian kraken is released! I want to write more later about how the Gorsuch nomination struggle was the latest object lesson in how the Dems and the GOP treat their respective political bases. But for now, suffice it to say that the Dems could not have done a more perfect job of snatching a monumental defeat out of the jaws of what might have been just a regular old defeat by essentially forcing the GOP to exercise the nuclear option.

Gorsuch looked great, the Dems made themselves look small, stubborn and delusional, and because the 60-vote supermajority has been done away with, it’s going to be much easier to replace either Kennedy or the next octogenarian leftist SC judge with (hopefully) another Scalia-like originalist. I never thought I’d say this, but, “Thank you, Harry Reid!”

Cue the happiness montage, featuring Jimmy Stewart at the end of It’s a Wonderful Life — “Yeaaahhh! Merry Christmas, movie house! Merry Christmas constitution lovers! Yyyeeeaaahhhh!”

Best of March 2017

Spring is in the air and it’s time to look back on the best of March.

But first, a brief note on the worst of March: nearly all factions of the right get together to repeal and replace the worst piece of legislation since the “Segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever” platform that Democrats ran on every year for the first 60 years of the 20th century, and they find a way to botch it. Then they blame the one GOP group (the Freedom Caucus) who is least responsible for the debacle. I think it will still get done, and I think passing that bill would have been worse than killing it. (Even allowing for the corrupt MSM headwinds against it, it polled at 17%, which is down in the neighborhood of Obamacare, the mainstream media, and dengue fever.)

Leaving O-care in place temporarily might actually work out better, because when the new rates come out in the fall – huge increases in payments, continuing murderously high deductibles, and insurers fleeing like they just saw Hillary break out of a nearby upstate New York treeline, ravenous from months of feeding on beetles and grubs, bellowing with pent-up Hulkian fury and charging straight at them – people will not be happy. If the GOP can competently drive home that these are the predictable (and predicted!) results of Obamacare, the 100% Democrat-owned disaster, they should have enough room to get rid of it and replace it with something much more free-market-
oriented.

Anyway, let’s turn to happier news:

1.March 6th – Carson’s stumble. In a speech, Ben Carson referred to slaves as “immigrants who came to America in the bottoms of slave ships.” Not a smart quote, certainly. But the MSM, solicitous of the feelings of a prominent African-American, barely mentioned it at all, and then only in the context of “everyone makes mistakes.” Right? Not exactly. In fact, not even a little bit.

The left went on a days-long orgy of Ben Carson bashing. Moral paragons such as Cher, Whoopi Goldberg and Samuel L. Jackson called him various uncomplimentary names. Star Jones noted that Carson was an “[excrement] for brains Uncle Tom.” Chelsea Clinton (who I blame for nothing, because she had a horrible childhood at the hands of absolutely terrible parents) chimed in, “This can’t be real. Slaves were not & are not immigrants.”

The Anne Frank Center (whatever that is) excreted a calm little press release headed “TRAGIC, SHOCKING AND UNACCEPTABLE,” (because you’re not really outraged if you don’t roll out the all caps, dammit!), featuring lines like, “You do not get a pass because you’re African American.”

Then, because God exists, and He loves us, a video turned up of President Obama in a 2015 naturalization speech saying, “Certainly, it wasn’t easy for those of African heritage who had not come here voluntarily and yet in their own way were immigrants themselves.” Cher, Whoopi, Sam, Star and Chelsea were unavailable for comment. The Anne Frank Center issued a press release (in a tiny font) headed, “Not tragic, not shocking, and completely acceptable,” and noting that “President Obama gets a pass because he’s African American.”

2. March 14th — Maddow’s folly. I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for Rachel Maddow. Sure, she’s a leftist hack with a mean streak, and she’s got the haircut I had from grades 2-4 (post-buzz cut, pre-horrible quasi-mullet – those were dark days, my friends). But she can be witty, and she’s not stupid. On the other hand, she willingly works at MSNBC, so I could be wrong on that last point.

Anyway, on March 14 she put on an exhibition of comically exaggerated hype that could not have been more over the top if it had been emceed by Don King and that “Let’s get ready to rrrrrummbllle!!!” guy who announces fights in Vegas. She breathlessly announced that she had obtained Trump’s top secret tax returns, and would reveal them to the world that very evening!

The MSM went into a frenzy. For months leftists had been salivating over what Trump’s taxes would reveal. Some said he hadn’t paid a dime on his ill-gotten millions. Some said his net worth was really $28 and a box full of gold-embossed MAGA hats. Some said he’d written off repeated payments to a large dance troupe of urinating Russian hookers.

Then her show started, and she went into her tease. Then a commercial break, then more tease, then one more commercial break. And then, it was like she started wandering around in a room filled with rakes, and she stepped on one after another, with each rake handle smacking her right in her smirking face with a comical Batman-the-tv-show sound effect.

“In 2005, Trump earned $150 million.” (THWACK!) “He paid $36 million in taxes (POW!), amounting to a tax rate of 25% (CRUNCH!). Which is 6% higher than the rate paid by Obama (BAM!), and almost twice the rate paid by cartoon socialist Bernie Sanders (THWACK! POW! CRUNCH! SAD TROMBONE!) (I know, Batman never featured a sad trombone. And you can’t really put an exclamation mark after the words “sad trombone.” But how else could you audibly end Rachel’s big night?)

The obvious analogy cited by many commentators was to Geraldo Rivera’s flaming Hindenberg of a tv special revealing that Al Capone’s vault held several old bottles and the dessicated corpse of a squirrel who had once been a Democrat Alderman. But that comparison is not fair to Geraldo. At least he DIDN’T KNOW that the vault was empty. Maddow knew that Trump’s returns showed that he had paid a ton of taxes on a ton of income, and she still hyped and stalled for what felt like forever.

She received a much-deserved lambasting from all sides in the aftermath, and if we lived in a sane world, she would have had to slink off into obscurity in disgrace. Instead, she’s getting the best ratings of her career. On MSNBC. Which feels like another way of saying, “she has slunk off into obscurity in disgrace.”

3.The beautiful dawn of socialist triumph heralds a new day in Venezuela. Or not. I give you this headline, from March 14th: “Venezuela seizes bakeries amid bread shortage.” The subhead: “Arrests brownie and croissant makers.”

I’d tell you details, but do I need to? It’s pretty much the old socialist story: Leftist geniuses take power, take control over businesses, businesses collapse, lefties blame businesses. If it weren’t so tragic, it’d be funny: devious brownie makers team up with a shadowy croissant cabal, then join forces with – you guessed it – pastry kingpins, and all stick it to the little guy, satisfying their insatiable greed by… not having any bread to sell?

Milton Friedman (peace be upon him) said it best: “If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years you’d have a shortage of sand.”

4. On March 28th, Hillary re-emerges to give a speech. This was a highlight for two reasons: 1. It reminded us all that she is not the president. 2. She wore an outfit consisting of a pantsuit bottom, floral shirt and big gold medallion pendant, and a leather jacket. One unbiased media outlet (HA!) referred to this as “an edgy makeover,” for the former first lady, and approved of the way she “rocked… a leather blazer.” (Remember a young Marlon Brando in The Wild Ones? And how young women everywhere fell in love with his leather motorcycle “blazer?”)

In other news, Bishop Don Magic Juan (google him) called Hillary to ask for his clothes back. (Actually, her outfit wasn’t that bad. But I can’t resist the chance to sneak in a Bishop Don Magic Juan joke, and you’d be surprised at how rarely that chance comes along. But I really did like being reminded that Hillary is not the president.)

5. Second half of March: Gorsuch marches through the Senate like Sherman through Georgia, or Godzilla through Tokyo. (Wait… I just went online and registered a trademark on “Gorzilla.” Look for the t-shirts soon, featuring Gorsuch’s head on Godzilla’s body, crushing a tiny Schumer under his feet.) The Dems tried their same old smears – extremist, hates the poor, yada yada – and Gorsuch swatted them away effortlessly. Scalia is dead – long live Scalia.

Next up (I hope and pray): Anthony Kennedy announces he’s going to retire, and Gorsuch’s younger brother – Antonin Gorsuch – appears on the horizon…

Democrats and the 5 Stages of Grief

As we approach the four-month anniversary of the election, I’ve realized that along with screwing up the economy, foreign policy, health care and being able to declare a Best Picture winner at the Oscars, the left has also screwed up the stages of grief.

I was a young man when I first heard of the Kubler-Ross grief cycle. I was riding a lousy little Yamaha 400 then, with aspirations to move up to a Harley, but you can imagine my excitement that I could end up on a Kubler-Ross! I wasn’t sure exactly what it was, but it had to be German. And a “grief cycle!?” Can you imagine the reactions of the young women in my small Midwestern town when I cruised by in a leather jacket on one of those? I sure could. I figured I’d put some loud pipes on mine, and paint some flames on the gas tank.

Imagine my disappointment when I found out that Kubler-Ross was an academic, and the cycle of grief had to do with how we deal with loss. You know the process: first denial, then anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance.

Not that I was thinking about any of that on election night. I went into the evening thinking that Hillary would win, mostly because my fellow citizens had broken my heart in 2012 when they re-elected Obama. (I could see voting for him in ’08, when he was young and new and biracial, and McCain was old and cranky and bipartisan. But after those 4 years, and $6 trillion in new debt with nothing to show for it, and against the manifestly decent and competent Mittster? Ugh.)

But then the glass ceiling fell on Hillary like the house falling on the Wicked Witch of the East, and I shifted into the Simpson-Bailey giddiness cycle.

Named after me and Jimmy Stewart’s character in It’s a Wonderful Life, the stages are as follows:

1. scotch

2. dawning euphoria,

3. running through downtown in the snow screaming maniacally (“Yeah! Merry Christmas movie house! Merry Christmas red states! Yyyeeeaaahhhh!”)

4. Conan’s “What is best in life?” meditation (“To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, to hear the lamentations of their metrosexuals in the Javits Center.”), and then

5. a schadenfreude-induced reaction about which you are supposed to call your doctor if it lasts more than 4 hours.

Good times.

Anyway, that night I saw the Dems head into their cycle. Their denial lasted for days, after which even the most die-hard, true believers had to admit that the Trump-ocalypse was upon them. Then their strong suit: anger. All Trump voters are racists, the electoral college is an abomination, break out the vaginal headgear and let slip the dogs of war, etc.

Then bargaining: a dozen empty-headed celebrities make a video pleading with the electoral college members to go faithless, and vote for Hillary. Depression was there too, but was hard to detect, since it is pretty much a default setting for many leftists. (If you believed that the climate is going to kill you, and so are guns, and so is our health care system, and free market capitalism and red meat and Steve Bannon and micro-aggressions and almost literally everything else… You’d be depressed too.)

But here’s where the Dems get stuck: they never get to acceptance. They keep spinning their wheels in the anger phase, and that’s not good for anyone except professional politicians (who make their living and perpetually fund raise off of it).

I was initially inclined to cut my Democrat and leftist friends a lot of slack when it comes to their Trump hatred, because I think he ran as an unusually acerbic and insulting candidate. His tweets often sound like something from a high schooler, he speaks without a filter more than any president should, he’s almost as narcissistic as Obama or Hillary, etc.

But as I’ve watched Trump make some good decisions and good appointments and a great SCOTUS nomination, and the Dems go into an ever-escalating cycle of anger since the election, I realized something I should have always known: it doesn’t matter who the Republican/conservative is. The left is going to smear and attack and spew bile at any conservative who runs for office, and any decision he or she makes. Their anger has nothing to do with its object.

Consider that they’ve not just tried to eviscerate more abrasive conservatives like Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich or Ted Cruz; they’ve reacted the same way toward mushy moderates like John McCain and Jeb Bush. They’ve driven the Hitler comparison into the ground, applying it to every Republican president and presidential candidate in my lifetime. (Another pet peeve of mine: Hitler heads a socialist workers party, creates an all-powerful government and exalts the collective, and the left calls him a right-winger! See Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism for a detailed run-down of how idiotic that smear is.) They ran tv ads showing a Paul Ryan imitator pushing a grandma off a cliff in a wheelchair!

In 2012, Joe Biden warned black Americans that Mitt Romney’s Republicans “probably want to put ya’ll back in chains.” Mitt Romney! Maybe the best example was their pre-printed signs before Trump picked Gorsuch for SCOTUS. If you’re holding a sign that says “I oppose” with a blank after it, into which you are going to print whichever name Trump chooses, you’ve lost your mind.

That’s how I think of the professional protesting left: they’re like Will Farrell’s dimwitted anchorman. They’ll say anything that comes across their teleprompter. If the Koch brothers were anything like they are cracked up to be, they could have hacked into a DNC conference call with instructions, and a small army of far-left dopes would have been standing on the steps outside the Supreme Court holding signs over their heads which read, “Go f**k yourself, San Diego!”

I don’t think the left realizes how self-defeating their knee-jerk smears and fury are, and how much they turn off all but the farthest left fringe. On the other hand, maybe they do – but they’re just so darned angry that they can’t help themselves.

Either way, they’ve got to get a handle on their emotions, or it’s going to be an even longer four years for them. And if they keep up this level of outrage every day from now until November of 2020, the predictable result will be their worst nightmare — Trump II: the re-Trumpening.

On the Narcissism of Presidents: Trump v. Obama

Last week CO posted a piece I wrote about how the left has been responding to Trump. When I pointed out Obama’s narcissism, several lefty posters somehow took that to mean that I didn’t think Trump is narcissistic. They argued the point vigorously, and one poor soul took the time to look up and source a dozen egotistical Trump quotes, to prove the point. Although some of their posts were troll-y (trollish? troll-esque?), they did make me think more about that topic:

1.Some degree of narcissism is inherent in running for president. Not many people ever look in the mirror and think, “You know what I’d probably be a good leader of? The entire free world!” By definition, all of our presidents have had that moment in their lives, and that strikes me as very weird, and more than a little off-putting. On the other hand, if I had to choose one type of narcissism over another, I’d rather see Trump’s cartoonish, often juvenile style – slapping his name on everything in sight, going on about how terrific each of his actions is going to be – than Obama’s style of deadly serious pomposity that led him to think that he could do anything he deigned to put his hand to, including replacing our health care system and our immigration laws, and taking it upon himself to “fundamentally transform” our society.

2.Just to be clear, I know that Trump is a narcissist. CO knows that Trump is a narcissist. Single-celled organisms living in the lightless depths of the Marianas Trench know that Trump is a narcissist. The point is that Obama is also a colossal narcissist, and somehow the left and the MSM (but I repeat myself) failed to notice that for the last 8 years, only seeming to begin objecting to narcissism on 1/20/17.
If any lefties would dispute the point, let me throw out a little evidence off the top of my head:

  • Obama wrote 2 autobiographies by the time he was 45, at which time the sum total of his accomplishments was a law degree, a nebulous community organizing gig, and 20 minutes spent in the IL state senate and then the US senate.
  • He suggested a causal link between his election and the slowing of the oceans’ rise and the healing of the planet. (Insert your own King Canute joke here.) (Then give yourself an extra point for getting the tricky-to-pull-off relevant King Canute reference.)
  • His favorite words in almost all of his speeches were “I” and “me.”
  • He had fake Greek columns built in the Denver football stadium for him to stand in front of as he gave a speech. (To his credit, he did not wear a toga with a laurel wreath, though both were implied.)
  • At a state meeting with the Queen of England, instead of the traditionally thoughtful gifts that are exchanged on such occasions, he gave her an ipod loaded with HIS OWN SPEECHES!

And how about that Nobel Peace Prize? Nominations for the award in 2009 closed 11 days after Obama was inaugurated, which means that some unbalanced European sycophants thought that Obama had done something worthy of that award during his first 11 days.

For comparison, a fast food manager or rental car employee is on probation for at least 30 days, and they’ve likely had to deal with at least one drunk vomiting in the salad bar or returning a massively damaged Ford Focus by day 11. And yet, to date, no probationary Shoney’s managers or Avis employees have ever won even a single Nobel Peace prize! Not one! (I looked it up, so feel free to fact check yourself.)

By the way, here’s the text of the letter that an even marginally self-aware non-narcissist would have written if a bunch of fawning Scandanavian dopes tried to give him a manifestly unwarranted Nobel prize for work done in his first 11 days in office:

“Dear Sven and Hrothgar et al,

You have got to be shi**ing me. I know you hated the Bushie, and you and I are sympatico on the whole ‘America is not exceptional’ thing. But you’ve got to give me a chance to do something first. What kind of colossal douche would I look like if I accepted this award now?! You’re making us all look bad.

Now go find some double amputee who has spent the last 10 years defusing landmines in a battle zone or something, and give him the award, you freaking tundra monkeys.

Sincerely,

Psychologically Well-Balanced New President.”

To his credit, Obama did give a pretty humble acceptance speech, but how do you accept that award at all, after 11 days?!

Finally, I’m sure you remember that during the campaign, Trump said that he knows more about ISIS than the generals do. We all agree that that is an absurdly self-important quote, right?

I give you His Eminence, Barack Hussein O, who said in the fall of 2008 (that is, before he had won the White House, and began the 11 Days that Shook the World): “I think that I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters…. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m going to think I’m a better political director than my political director.”

3. I would argue that leftist ideology tends to exacerbate and weaponize the narcissism that all presidents are prey to. Small government, free market conservatism teaches humility, stressing that no bureaucrat in Washington knows as much about any area of the economy or society as those who specialize in those areas. (Hence, “That government is best which governs least.”) Yes, I know, very few pols live up to that ideal, we are all flawed and etc. But at least a conservative pol who begins to over-reach has an ideology that will serve as a check, if s/he’ll try to be true to it. (I’ll grant you that Trump has not so far been… how should I say this? … particularly dissuaded by that check.)

Not so, leftism. An ideology that sees a huge role for a centralized, omnivorous governmental bureaucracy cannot help but tempt already egotistical pols into ever greater power grabs.

You say you don’t know a redwood from a crape myrtle? Doesn’t matter. You’re in the Interior Department, so you are WAY more qualified to set logging policies than those idiot families of little people who have only been in the logging business for 3 generations.

You’ve never had a job in the private sector? By all means, set fiscal policy for 330 million people.

You’ve never been a security guard, or touched a real gun, or done anything more than watching a couple of seasons of NYPD Blue? Please tell our nation’s police forces exactly how they should be doing their job.

You wouldn’t know a pancreas from a uvula? (which sounds like something dirty, but disappointingly, is not) Feel free to take over 1/6 of the US economy, and give doctors and nurses a helpful little 9600-page, rule-filled tome dictating how health care should work, down to the last mammogram and tongue depressor.

Look, I’m concerned about Trump’s ego, too, and I hope that the responsibilities of his office will temper that. On the other hand, if all he does is appoint Gorsuch, replace Obamacare with something workable, find a way to discourage illegal immigration, and cut taxes and regulations, I’ll gladly overlook 4 years of his yammering about the size of his crowds and how amazing his next deeds are going to be.

And if you just spent 8 years raising no objections while King Hussein Canute and his merry band of Lerners and Grubers ran roughshod over our laws and checks and balances, we hope you will forgive us for not losing any sleep over your objections now.

Best of February 2017

Another month has passed, so it’s time to list my 5 favorite thing that happened in February:

1.Favorite writer’s name of the month: While listening to Andrew Klavan’s excellent podcast, I learned about a feminist writer who contributes to the unintentionally hilarious Everyday Feminism (I would give the site two thumbs up, except that I’m sure for some reason that I cannot articulate that that would be really offensive in this context). The writer’s name, Klavan said, was “Tori Truscheit.” So I immediately went to the site, and flipped through several stories looking for Ms. Truscheit, hoping and praying that her last name was spelled as it should be. Only to be disappointed by “Truscheit.” Still, the homonym is pretty sweet. (And if there were ever a movie called “Looking for Ms. Truscheit,” I would not see it, even if it were on cable for free.)

By the way, during my brief search for the “Truscheit” (ha!), I learned a lot. For example, I saw an article entitled, “No, trans women are not ‘biologically male’.” (Invoking my invention, on the spot, of Simpson’s First Law of Grammar: if you find it necessary to deploy scare quotes around a phrase like “biologically male,” something has gone horribly wrong in your thinking and writing.)

I also learned that there is a numbered list for every occasion. For example, you probably didn’t know that there are “3 Harmful Ways Ableism Shows up in our Everyday Language.” (I didn’t read the article, but if it doesn’t include Joe Biden telling wheel-chair bound Missouri State Senator Chuck Graham to “Stand up [and] let ‘em see ya,” at a rally, I’d be severely disappointed.) (If you haven’t seen that video, you owe it to yourself to drop everything and watch it right now.)

And there are “9 Things Not to Say to a Non-Binary Person.” (But, I guess maybe those could be 9 things TO say to a binary person, if I remember my double-negatives rule correctly? Ugh, grammar!) And by the way, Everyday Feminism editors, if you’ve got an extra set of scare quotes lying around the office, how about rolling them out when you are discussing “non-binary” folks? I’ve got no idea what that means, but it’s got to be scarier than “biologically male,” doesn’t it?

2. Trump dress upends the charts: Joy Villa – which, though it sounds like a dandy little retirement community, is actually a singer whose latest release was sitting somewhere around 530,000 on Amazon. Then she wore a Trump-themed dress to the Grammys. I am not a fashion critic – I’m just a humble “biological male,” and a “binary” one at that, I think – but I know what I hate. And I hated that dress.

However, I love that after wearing it, her album (or release, or cd, or glip glorp, or whatever the kids these days call what we used to call “records”) went to #1. Beautiful! I almost went online and purchased a copy of her glip glorp myself, before I remembered that I have no idea how to do that. Also, that I haven’t liked anything recorded since Johnny Cash died. (Except for some stuff from Kings of Leon. Those guys are good. And I haven’t heard CO’s band, but I’d make an exception for them, too.)

Where was I? Oh yeah, Joy Villa. From 530,000 to #1 after wearing a Trump dress. Stick it, the rest of you marginally talented doofuses (doofi? Grammar!) who feel compelled to use your award acceptance speeches to virtue signal about politics. I hope you pass Joy Villa on your way down into the 530,000 rankings.

3. Terrorist Creep Dies: Original Twin Towers bombing planner and all-around terrorist scumbag Omar Abdul-Rahman — known primarily for his hate-filled jihadist screeds and for his much-loved imitation of Ray Charles in a Santa Claus hat (see his pic on Wikipedia) – died on 2/18.

I know that we traditionally have a moment of silence to mourn the passing of good and honorable people. So can we have a moment of raucous noise to commemorate the passing of this hateful, milky-eyed weird beard? I suggest that we make a recording of a jet engine, overlaid with the guitar open from the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage,” overlaid with wolf howling, overlaid with one of Yoko Ono’s (“She’s history’s greatest monster!”) hideous vocalizations. (On the other hand, let’s replace Yoko’s sample with a recording of two mountain lions in coitus, just to make sure that Yoko doesn’t somehow get a royalty out of this brilliant idea.)

4. A Day without Immigrants: In what parents throughout the saner precincts of the nation celebrated as the most teachable moment that their kids could ever have, the “Day without Immigrants” (2/16) was followed immediately in many areas (starting 2/17) with “A Future without Employment,” created when many employers decided that they could do without employees who don’t appreciate being employed. I know that many immigrants who participated aren’t here illegally, but many are – I mean, that’s the point, right? To show us how much we need all of the many workers who are living and working here illegally?

So leave it to the reliably thick-headed Atlantic magazine to publish an article on the topic, with the subtitle, “Around 100 workers were reportedly fired for participating in last week’s strike. Whether that’s legal remains to be seen.“ Yep. We’re not sure that it’s legal to fire people who are working here ILLEGALLY. Yikes. You keep doing you, brilliant leftist magazines.

While I don’t usually enjoy seeing people lose their jobs, I certainly used this example to give a little “this is how the world works” life lesson to my two now-teenaged daughters. Not that they needed it, however. When my second daughter was born, my oldest was 4, and I had the talk with her that I’m sure all good dads have with their kids: “Honey, we now have an auxiliary daughter. Should you be unable to carry out the duties of the primary daughter, your mother and I are going to move her up to the gold medal stand. Now get back to your pre-K homework, because those state capitals and days of the week are not going to memorize themselves.”

I can only hope and pray that soon we will see a “Day without Lawyers,” followed by “A Day without Federal Bureaucrats.” I would wish for “A Day without smarmy leftist Air America hosts,” or “A Day without President Hillary Clinton,” but then I remember that EVERY day is a day without those. And I can’t stop giggling.

5. Sweden proves Trump right: After Trump made a mis-statement on the troubles “last night” in Sweden on Saturday, 18 February, a bunch of nice folks in a few Swedish “migrant suburbs” (and yes, I think those scare quotes are justified!) start rioting, burning things and assaulting people. The beauty of that schadenfreude-tastic (word copyrighted by me, right now) turn of events was in the timing. Because the cherubic immigrants didn’t start rampaging for 36 hours, which gave the US leftist media just enough time to work themselves up into a frothing lather of sweet, sweet Trump-hatred, before having the (Persian) rug pulled out from under them. I love the image of a couple of smirking leftist commentators interrupted mid-bloviation:

Leftist Hack 1: “I’m sure that the few adult Republicans in DC are mortified by President Cheetoh’s latest delusional statement about non-existent social tensions in the earthly paradise that is Sweden.”

Leftist Hack 2: “You’re absolutely right. How much longer can we endure the world’s well-justified contempt for our Islamophobe-in-Chief before saner heads prevail, and we get on with the inevitable impeachment proceedings?”

Hack 1: “I know, right? How dare he suggest that uncontrolled immigration from unstable Islamic theocratic states would produce anything other than an Edenic multi-cultural social tapestry of joy and—“

Hack 2: “Our producer is telling me we have a breaking story. Apparently, Malmo is in flames.”

Hack 1: “Oh my God! The red puppet character beloved by children everywhere has been burned?”

Hack 2: “No. That’s Elmo. This is Malmo.”

Hack 1: (pause) “What’s a Malmo?”

Hack 2: (fiddling with his earpiece) “I’m told that it’s a city.” (much more quietly) “In Sweden.”

Hack 1: “Oh s—t!” (slaps the desk in disgust, then composes herself) “Well, it’s probably happening in a hotbed of tall, blond, white, neo-Nazi right wingers, right? All wound up by Trump’s hate speech until they started to—“

Hack 2: (swallowing) “I’m told that the rioting and violence is taking place in a ‘migrant suburb.’”

Hack 1: (shuffling some papers, then coughing) “Migrants from Norway?”

Hack 2: “Migrants from Syria, and several of the other countries mentioned in Trump’s evil and unconstitutional executive order.”

Hack 1: “Son of a– ! Come on!”

And, scene.

Advice for my Lefty Friends: How to React to Donald Trump

No, none of my lefty friends has asked my opinion on this topic. But should that stop me from giving it?

After all, no sentient being anywhere has ever asked, “I wonder what Ashley Judd thinks about this political issue?” or “Why won’t alleged funnyman Al Franken give us his criteria for a successful cabinet pick?” or “How long must we wait for Meryl Streep’s next condescending lecture?”

Yet those savants have shared with us their deathless wisdom. So why shouldn’t I do the same? Here goes:

Tip 1: If you start with the outrage meter pegged to 11 for every garden-variety bonehead comment that Trump makes, you’re going to lose your voice, burst a blood vessel, and be thoroughly ignored when Trump does something truly egregious. One of my favorite Simpson’s moments was when the mayor unveiled a presidential statue; the townspeople expected Abraham Lincoln, but Springfield could only afford Jimmy Carter. When the statue is revealed, one character points and says, “He’s history’s greatest monster!”

Trump is likely to be an inconsistent president, but he’s not going to be a Stalin, or a Mao, or an Asmodeus, Destroyer of Men. Don’t be the boy who cried Carter.

Tip 2: Stop calling yourself The Resistance. It’s creepy, and self-dramatizing, and it makes you sound like a 15-year old. (And not a popular, well-adjusted 15-year old.) Trump is not a Star Wars villain or a dictator, and he didn’t come to power by force. He’s there largely because the right track/wrong track numbers last year were upside down, and you ran a shrieking harpy with the personal warmth of a dyspeptic time-share saleswoman and a plan to double-down on the policies that had produced the afore-mentioned ballooning wrong track numbers.

Look in the mirror. Wait, first pull off your ski mask, and then look in the mirror. Doesn’t that black trench coat look ridiculous? The Resistance? Really? C’mon.

Tip 3: Don’t think you are going to get any mileage with most Americans by pointing out how badly Trump is treating the press. Do you not know how despised the press is? Their approval rating is just above ISIS, and below testicular cancer. (The internals are even worse: CNN is only ahead of chlamydia because of Jake Tapper, and his numbers are eroding, so…) Work on improving the accuracy of press coverage, and you might eventually earn a public hearing again.

Until then, the press is the anti-Sally Field: We don’t like them. We really don’t like them.

Tip 4: Consider not insulting everyone you are trying to persuade. Most people voted for Trump not BECAUSE he made crude comments or verbal gaffes or behaved boorishly, but DESPITE those qualities. He promised to reverse the direction of the last 8 years, and you need to come to grips with why so many people found that prospect enticing enough that they would vote for someone with Trump’s flaws, as the first step to a mature reconsideration of your own past actions and positions.

Or, you can just scream that we’re all racist/sexist/bigoted moronic evil-doers, and see how that works. (Spoiler alert: President Trump.)

Tip 5: We remember Obama. And we remember that you spent the last 8 years getting him his pipe and his fuzzy slippers, and giving him a soothing tongue-bath each time he said something like, “I’m going to stop the rise of the oceans,” and “I don’t know the difference between a rectal thermometer and the other kind, but I’ve come up with the best health plan ever,” and “I don’t know what makes a rifle a semi-automatic, or which end goes in the rectum, but I know exactly how many guns you should have,” and “Thank you for this well-deserved Nobel Peace Prize.”

If you now complain that Trump is a narcissist, we are just going to laugh at you.