Tag Archives: I Only Have One Question

Today’s example of passive-voice propaganda

Don’t they teach you in Journalism 101 to use passive voice sparingly?  Even Fleet Street tabloids are supposed to know this.  From an article in the U.K. Mirror, “Fury over rare white lion being auctioned off ‘to be shot by trophy hunters'”:

The majestic animal, named Mufasa, was confiscated three years ago when he was a cub, along with another baby lion called Soraya.

Named by whom?  Confiscated by whom, from whom?

This is a case not just of bad writing, but rather of the typical journalistic practice of obscuring facts to shape the reader’s opinion, i.e., propaganda.

The article goes on to say that the government department with custody of the animal, the Ministry of Environmental Affairs, will auction it to raise money for, presumably, environmental affairs.  (Of course, this is South Africa, so who knows where  the money will go.)  Various celebrities and busybodies are crying foul and using their usual tactics—courts, petitions, and the media—t0 force the lion into a wildlife sanctuary.

We are shocked that the obvious market solution has apparently not occurred to the campaigners:  if they are so passionate about the animal’s welfare, why not raise money themselves to win the auction and then donate their prize to the sanctuary?

 

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Postmortem on Jeb Bush: Donald Trump was the perfect foil

James Kirkpatrick in the Unz Review, citing Peter Beinart in The Atlantic and Michael Warren in the Weekly Standard, makes that point that we raised back in September:  Donald Trump was the perfect foil to Jeb Bush, due to the contrast in their personalities and Trump’s masterstroke to raise the immigration issue.

We agree with him that the Republican establishment will likely learn nothing from this history.  Will their reflection consist of:  See, We Told You So.  Trump was wrong on temperament and wrong on the issues.  Now how do I get an invitation to the ceremony where President Clinton signs the Gang of Eight Law?  Or:  Well, we lost with our best shot.  Now let’s take to heart the concerns raised by the majority of Republicans who voted to nominate Trump and fight President Clinton on these issues.  (Yes, it’s a rhetorical question.)

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Imagine if the races were reversed: Cleveland Cavaliers fire successful white coach, citing need for black former player to “refine the habits and culture”

The NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, under first-year head coach Dave Blatt, won the Eastern Conference title last season (losing to the Golden State Warriors in the finals).  They entered the season as the betting favorites to win in all this year, and have hardly disappointed in amassing a 30-11 record halfway through the season, the best in the East.

None of this stopped Cleveland from firing Blatt yesterday, reports ESPN, and replacing him with former player and assistant coach Tyronn Lue.  No coach had ever been fired during the season with a better record.

Sports Illustrated answers the first question on everyone’s mind:  “Already there are credible reports insisting that James was not directly consulted in the decision to fire Blatt”—note the intriguing use of the word “directly,” also mentioned in the same verbiage in the ESPN article—in an article headlined “LeBron James’s imprint on Cavaliers evident in firing of David Blatt,” referring to the Cavs’ superstar and face of the league.

It seems that Cavaliers’ general manager David Griffin doth protest a lot:  “I didn’t talk to any of the players before this decision” and “LeBron doesn’t run this organization.”  And the media was also quick to pick up the spin.  “A team source told ESPN’s Dave McMenamin that Blatt’s firing means ‘everyone is in the crosshairs right now.'”  ESPN published various sympathetic pieces about the firing.

Even with the absurd turnover in the NBA coaching ranks, this seems surprising on its face.  There were vague rumblings about Blatt’s cultural fit (this was his first NBA job after spending most of his playing and coaching career in Israel, though he was born in Boston and graduated from Princeton):

“What I see is that we need to build a collective spirit, a strength of spirit, a collective will,” Griffin said. “Elite teams always have that, and you see it everywhere. To be truly elite, we have to buy into a set of values and principles that we believe in. That becomes our identity.”

“I am more than confident that [Lue] has the pulse of our team and that he can generate the buy-in required to start to refine the habits and culture that we’ve yet to build,” Griffin told ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.”

Perhaps the money quote:  “James fondness for Lue and his desire to be coached by a former player were well-known throughout Cleveland’s organization. . .”

We don’t pretend to be qualified to understand the dynamics involved in basketball coaching.  Like any business, leadership and the culture created by management are no doubt as important or more important than employees’ sheer talent.

But this episode strikes us as a bit ugly.  We have one question.  If a team of white players, say in Major League Baseball, were grumbling that their short-tenured, winning black coach was unable to relate to them, or unable to bring out their best “collective spirit” or “principles” or “identity” or “habits and culture” or “buy-in,” and they needed a white former player with no head-coaching experience to instill these values, wouldn’t the likes of ESPN and Sports Illustrated be screaming racism!?  The media is already saturated with complaints that black coaches don’t get a fair chance due to, of course, management’s racism that overrides their desire to win.  They would likely call the bit about needing a “former player” a dog whistle alluding to all of the racist narrative about black coaches’ inability to lead.

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Restricting Muslim immigration is impractical, harms freedom, and is legally dubious, and therefore not worthy of considering even if it improves our safety. Restricting gun ownership, on the other hand. . .

All right-thinking people seem to think that, even if it were practical, banning Muslims from visiting the United States would be at best an ineffective overreaction and at worst, a violation of human rights and abdication of America’s standing as a beacon of liberty in the world.

We—and Donald Trump—concede that banning all foreign Muslims would ensnare some innocent people who only want to visit the U.S. and have no terrorist sympathies at all.  But we are apparently not allowed to consider such trade-offs in debating how best to promote Americans’ safety when it comes to deciding which foreigners to allow the privilege of entering the country.

Meanwhile, President Obama has gone ahead in unveiling various actions to restrict Americans’ access to guns.  “We understand there are some constraints on our freedom in order to protect innocent people,” the President said, while claiming to support the Second Amendment.  “Our unalienable right to life, and liberty, and the pursuit of happiness — those rights were stripped from college students in Blacksburg and Santa Barbara, and from high schoolers at Columbine, and from first-graders in Newtown.”

We understand there are some constraints on our [sic] freedom in order to protect innocent people.  Our unalienable right to life, and liberty, and the pursuit of happiness — those rights were stripped from Americans serving their country at Fort Hood and in Chattanooga , police officers serving their communities in Philadelphia and New York, and innocent civilians attending a holiday party in San Bernardino, the president did not say.

Banning foreign Muslims from entering the U.S. would create unforeseen problems in our foreign policy, would be difficult to implement, and might entail some legal challenges—so we should not even think about how to overcome these barriers.

Obama’s executive actions on gun control would “present new and unforeseen enforcement problems,” “create untold logistical . . . difficulties,” and be “subject to legal challenge,” according to a White House staffer.  But it’s worth it.

Banning foreign Muslims from the U.S. enjoys majority support in polls, but that is not reason to consider it, according to mainstream media editorialists (most of whom supported the president’s proposals on guns).  According to the Washington Post, majority support is a good reason for Obama to act:  “Obama said gun owners would support his new restrictions. He was right.”

Banning Muslims from entering the U.S. would affect some innocent people, who just want to enjoy their vague “right” to visit the U.S. and are no threat to our safety.  Making it harder to purchase a firearm would affect mostly innocent people, who just want to enjoy their constitutionally-protected right to own a gun and are no threat to our safety.

So are we to conclude that personal freedom, implementation challenges, and public opinion are relevant factors in considering measures to improve public safety only when it comes to some issues?

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Does Obama’s “indecisiveness” on foreign policy imply “weakness”?

In a Fox News poll about foreign policy in October, 52% of voters said that President Obama is a “weak and indecisive leader,” compared to 32% who rate him “strong and decisive.”

This is a false dichotomy.  Obama, as Dinesh D’Souza aptly illustrates, is not always indecisive when it comes to the issues that are true to his heart.  There are plenty of stories of the faculty-style dithering that goes on in his administration, and it’s easy to see him as feckless, but it is important to understand that the president has a clear ideology related to American’s strength in the world—he despises it—and we read his foreign-policy agenda more as aggressively in pursuit of that ideology than as being overcome by events.

Donald Trump remarked, in the words of The Hill, that the deal was “so bad it’s suspicious”:

“It’s almost like there has to be something else going on.  I don’t think there is, I just don’t think they’re competent.”

As usual, Trump is at least partially correct in getting right to the heart of the matter.  Obama is the first ’60s radical to become president.  Anyone who attended an American university in the past half-century is very familiar the leftist discourse that holds (with a complete lack of irony as they owe their livelihoods entirely to the luxuries made possible only by western civilization and especially American values) that America is responsible for all of the ills of the world.  From “hey-hey, ho-ho, western civ has got to go” to multiculturalism to postmodern identity politics, these academics’ main premise is that imperialist west has subjugated the noble brown peoples of the world via colonialism, cultural domination, capitalism, and various other forms of oppression.

This is the worldview to which Obama gravitated at least since his university years, carried with him to community organizing and urban politics, and reinforced daily by mentors such as his wife, Bill Ayers, and Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

President Obama subscribes to an ideology in which anything that brings America’s global leadership down a peg is good, and anything that uplifts regimes of which America is perceived to have gotten the better over the years is fantastic.  Just as he removed a bust of Winston Churchill from the White House as one of the first acts of his presidency, and he conspicuously refuses to ascribe terrorists’ motivation to Islam—that quintessential antithesis of American values—he felt compelled to push through the aggrandizement of two of the most ideologically anti-Western regimes in the world.

It’s hard to see his unilateral attempts to appease Iran and Cuba as indecisiveness:  they were principled gambits to fulfill his ambition to make America weaker.  Ditto for his insistence to release Islamic terrorists from Guantanamo at all costs.  Thus Donald Trump is right in observing that the deal with Iran doesn’t really seem to have been much of a negotiation, though we would argue that it was “competent” in that it achieved his objective.  It’s clear that he and Secretary Kerry—who no doubt shares his passion to uplift those who  have been so aggrieved by the United States—were committed to give a victory to the Iranians.  The mullahs on the other side of the table knew that they weren’t required to give much in return, as evidenced by their actions afterward.

The Americans would have begun any serious give-and-take with Iran with something to the effect of, “The requirement that you release the Americans you are holding as political prisoners is not part of this negotiation.  It is a precondition of it; call us when they have left Iranian soil and then we’ll talk.”

Similarly, the Castros have also utterly refused t0 change their behavior after their gift from Obama.  One wonders if Obama and Kerry, as well as the deep pro-Castro contingent among the Democratic caucuses in Congress, feels silly at the aftermath.  (That’s a rhetorical question.)  One can imagine how Obama must have been fantasizing for decades about the prospect of talking politics on the Castros’ veranda in Havana.  It would make Bill Ayers proud.

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Where are the citizens with pitchforks?

We were sitting recently with some neighbors on the stoop in a sleepy central California beach town.  Like most of the state’s coast, this area continues to gentrify; the community combines the long-time eccentrics typical of a California beach town with upscale Californians who live within driving distance buying weekend or retirement homes.  This particular street runs perpendicular to the beach, with great views of the surfers and the whales, and increasing prices as the modest properties proceed down the block from Highway 1 to the ocean.  There are not many better places to live in the world.

One homeowner just completed an arduous years-long process to secure planning permission to build an extension of his back deck on his own property.  The neighbor next door took a long time to secure the necessary permits to knock down the junk house that was there when he bought it and build a new one on a prime lot on a bluff over the ocean.  The neighbor on the other side said, we would like to do the same, but will perhaps remodel instead if we can’t get permission, due to either the whims of some bureaucrat or simply government inertia.  The city has delayed getting back to him for six months, he shrugged, and continued with his drink.

Across the street, a house is completely gutted to the rafters; when we asked why the owner took this approach instead of demolition, we already knew the answer:  it’s easier to get permits for a renovation than for a new construction.

In addition to the myriad levels of local government and numerous departments to navigate for permission to modify one’s own property, one needs to secure permission from the California Coastal Commission even to repaint one’s own house.

We sat astonished as these various property owners—all affluent, civic-minded, taxpaying citizens who are certainly capable of comprehending how government works—shrugged with mild perturbation, yet resignation, at the gauntlets before them.

How can we tolerate this encroachment on property rights?

California is certainly one of the world’s leading lights on NIMBY-ism, also known as, I have secured my comfortable place, and now I am going to pull up the drawbridge in front of everyone else.  And you’re lucky to live here so shut up.  But this is a town of several thousand people; perhaps a concerted effort could replace the entire city council, or county board, although there would always be more bureaucrats standing beyond the reach of accountability and more vested interests that know how to work the system—if for no other reasons than envy, petty power-grubbing, or a vague sense of sentimentality for the status quo.  Many municipalities in the state have layer-upon-layer of restrictions, ranging from days (most days, as it turns out) in which homeowners are not allowed to use the fireplaces in their own homes, to limiting the square footage that a house can expand based on the size of the garage.

We remain astonished at the complacency with which citizens accept the lazy, irrational, often corrupt, machinations of the state.

This is the same California that, due to profligacy and mismanagement, had to issue IOUs in lieu of payments in 2009, including for tax refunds.  That’s right, citizens were compelled to loan the government their money interest-free by over-withholding throughout the year, then when it was time to repay, the state said, don’t worry, we’ll catch you later.  We remember thinking at the time, where are the citizens descending upon Sacramento with pitchforks?  Moreover, nothing has changed via the ballot box since then.

Illinois recently paid lottery winnings with IOUs.  Again, we wondered, where are the citizens with pitchforks?  The lottery is a supposedly self-financing fund; how is it acceptable that the government confiscates the pot and shrugs when beneficiaries come to collect?

In Greece—i.e., the California and Illinois of the future—the government last summer not only refused to let people withdraw their own money from banks, but also didn’t allow them to remove cash and precious metals from their own safe deposit boxes.  Despite media reports of widespread suffering and outrage (usually directed by Greeks at Germany), nothing has really changed in Greece; the voters returned the left-wing government to office and virtually ensured that this crisis will recur in a couple of years.

The western world is in a sickly decadent stupor.  We mentioned earlier that this particular coastal California city is indeed one of the best places one could hope to live; but it does not follow that we should consider residing there a privilege, granted at the pleasure of the state, and we should just pipe down and accept infringements of our liberty.  These examples of what citizens will accept from their supposed “representatives” certainly constitute leading indicators of complete societal collapse.

We know, you’re saying, these are first-world problems compared to what governments in most of the world do to their citizens.  But anyone who has worked hard and participated honestly in society cannot take much comfort in that.

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Live by the cynical lie, die by the cynical lie

The media was duly aflutter when Maureen Dowd broke the “news” in her August 1 column that Beau Biden had, on his deathbed, implored his father to run for president.  This tidbit could obviously only have been leaked to Dowd by Vice President Biden either directly or indirectly.

However, the media has been quiet about an astonishing revelation from last night’s softball 60 Minutes interview with the vice president:  he claimed that “nothing like that ever, ever happened.”

Does Maureen Dowd feel ashamed at being used so cynically by Biden, uncritically lapping up his spin?  It’s ghoulish enough that she would serve as the mouthpiece for a cunning politician whose only possible motive for reporting such an anecdote could have been to gain political points from his family tragedy.

Is she now wallowing in the ignominy of being sold out when Biden decided it would be in his interest to shift the narrative?  Does she feel foolish at all?  Will she think twice the next time an unseemly liberal requests to exploit her influence to do his own bidding?  Kudos to Biden for playing the pliant liberal media like a fiddle; shame on Maureen Dowd for serving as his sycophant.

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