The Left Gives Up on Comedy

 

Four years ago, progressives were riding high. Obama was president, healthcare was fixed forever, and the reset-button Ruskies were our best pals. But even in that golden age, there was a growing sense that comedy was, well, problematic.

The 2014 Netroots Nation conference lectured attendees on the systematic oppression of the Humor Industrial Complex while insisting they were far funnier than those evil conservatives. “When the right says we have no sense of humor,” panelist Katie Halper said, “it’s a great way for racist/sexist/homophobic men to make themselves seem funny.”

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The USS Trump! High Adventures on Rough Seas!

 

To Democrats, Trump is the equivalent of the guy who cheated with, then married, the ex-wife. To anti-Trump Republicans, Trump is the guy who dumped your sister in high school on the day before prom. Just like those loathsome creatures, everything Trump says or does is blackened by familiar dark circumstances; just seeing the man sets off immediate and debilitating fight or flight adrenal surges. There is no other way to explain the animus elicited when the man says or does anything. Trump could be as kind as the Pope, as generous as Santa Claus, as handsome as Robert Redford, as wholesome as Andy of Mayberry, as earnest as Jimmy Stewart, as courageous as Audie Murphy, as thoughtful as Albert Einstein and as funny as Samuel Clemons, and they would still hate his guts.

Of course Donald Trump is imperfect, as is so obsessively pointed out, and he is vain and prone to vindictiveness. Worse yet, he makes it clear every single day that he succeeds despite his determined opposition and the vitriol endlessly heaped upon him. Like the kid who can’t help but poke the neighbor’s mean cat, Trump can’t help but antagonize his detractors. He calls them out, ridicules them, revels in their suffering, and brags on about his own success. For Trump, hyperbole i s a potent weapon. “Lies!” says the opposition, frothy with venom and looking for a camera or a microphone. Their urge to bite is overwhelming.

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Loose Cannons and Nuclear Buttons: Dealing with Russia

 

Every time I see “statesmen” foaming at the mouth about insufficient posturing against Russia, I go back to the basics. There are exactly two countries on this planet capable of reducing any country on the face of the earth to toxic, smoldering ruins in hours. These are the United States of America and the Russian Federation (the latest manifestation of the Russian empire).

President Trump has done an admirable job, like most presidents in the Atomic Age, of keeping the natural tensions between the two megadeath powers inside the safety limits. He has succeeded, so far, despite the worst efforts of his domestic enemies, who are more serious about destroying him than they are about national security.

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Pinning the Bogometer, or Fake but Accurate in Psychology Research

 

The Worm Runners Digest was a journal of the 1950s and 1960s that published both satirical scientific articles and actual science. Wikipedia tells us that:

After complaints that the satirical articles and the scientific publications were not distinguishable, the satirical articles were printed upside down in the back half of the W.R.D. along with a topsy turvy back cover.

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The Gender Non-Conformity Cop-Out

 

I’ve been thinking about this post for a few days, but what prompted me to write it now, rather than this coming weekend, is a delightfully wrong-headed piece by our very own and much-loved Fred Cole. So, while this isn’t a rebuttal to Fred’s piece, I’ll nonetheless dedicate it to him.

To Fred

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A 20th-Century Mindset for a 21st-Century World

 

In the immediate aftermath of the President’s Summit in Singapore, and then again this week with the allegedly “disastrous” joint press conference with Vladimir Putin, I keep reading that one side or another has “won” something and that President Trump, by being on the other side, must have “lost” it. It doesn’t seem to be anything you can physically see or touch. It’s not concessions in a treaty (or non-treaty, if you’re Barack Obama) or something valuable such as real estate. It’s not a trophy or a cup. There seems to be no monetary prize. It’s just something I’ve been assured is real and exists. But does it?

When Russia was more than just Russia, back in the day when it was an amalgamation of subjugated states we called the USSR and the Warsaw Pact, and when we were struggling for the hearts and minds (and natural resources) of former colonial holdings of either defeated or bankrupt European powers, there were real prizes out there. It was a battle between the West and capitalism and the dark, evil forces of Communism.

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Conservatives, Common Courtesy, and the Gender Police

 

Transgender issues seem to be a tricky thing for many conservatives. (And it’s only going to get worse.) For example, a conservative told me the other day that “Misgendering is not a thing.” If you’re not hip to the lingo, misgendering is when you call someone by a gender label other than what they identify as. Like, if you call a lady “sir.” And it can be done accidentally or on purpose. People who care about transgender issues tend to (rightly so) get worked up about it, especially when it is done intentionally.

They also get worked up about “deadnaming.” That’s when you refer to a person who has transitioned by their pre-transition name. I see both misgendering and deadnaming occur here regularly on Ricochet anytime someone brings up Caitlyn Jenner. You may not realize it, but both intentional deadnaming and misgendering are insensitive at best and offensive at worse.

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Maybe the Innovation Boom Is Here, It’s Just Not Evenly Distributed

 

Check out these two charts from a great Wall Street Journal piece, “The Problem With Innovation: The Biggest Companies Are Hogging All the Gains,” on global productivity growth:

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Let’s Talk About “The Expanse”

 

About seven months ago, a kid I work with told me about a science fiction TV show he thought I’d enjoy. It was a little something called “The Expanse.” It had a great premise. The only problem was that it was on the Syfy channel.

If you’re not familiar with Syfy, until they rebranded themselves a few years ago, they were the Sci-Fi Channel, a cable station nominally devoted to science fiction television. The only problem is that … their programming was terrible. If you need an example of their garbage programming, they’re the folks behind Sharknado. The fact that they changed their name to “Syfy” should tell you everything you need to know. But I was assured, by my coworker, that this one series was the shining gem of the network and that it was worth watching. And, boy howdy, was he right.

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Trump and Obama: Form vs. Substance

 

President Trump does a lot of things that disappoint me, and never more than when he speaks ill of my country. I don’t like to hear him explaining how it was “American stupidity” that dampened relations with Russia. Russia is a country full of justifiably cynical subjects ruled by a criminal oligarchy; Putin is a thug and a butcher. Relations are strained because Russia remains in the hands of ruthless people bent on regional domination and personal enrichment.

This isn’t the first time President Trump — or candidate Trump — has run America down. I object to it when I hear it, even though I try not to be too critical of our much-maligned President. He should know better than to say such things, even if he believes them.

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Real Communism

 
Tsar Nicholas II and his family.

Yesterday was the 100th anniversary of the massacre of the Tsar and his family. A sad day, but as Lenin once said: you can’t make an omelette without shooting terrified little girls, then stabbing them repeatedly before shooting them again in the head, to make sure. For the sake of The People. 

We’re always told that the Soviet Union wasn’t really Communism, that it was corrupted by Stalin. Communism is a pure thing, idealistic, with only the best interests of everyone at heart. Well, the murder of the Royal Family seems to have occurred before the “corruption” set in, and I doubt you’d find Communists more pure of heart than the Ural Regional Soviet of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Government. 

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The Day My Life Changed

 

Exactly six months ago tonight I had my last conversation with my wife.

I made a blood donation and planned to go to a meeting but I felt compelled to spend the evening with Faye, my wife, who had been sick with the flu. Ordinarily, I would have gone to the meeting and talked in the morning. But that night I had to go home.

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The Uninformed Economic Views of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, in 2 Charts

 

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the new Democratic darling and self-described democratic socialist, said some odd things in a PBS interview. First, she tried to explain away the current low unemployment rate this way: “Unemployment is low because everyone has two jobs.”

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Christians and Abortion: An Understanding

 
Rachel Held Evans.

Rachel Held Evans is a fairly famous liberal Christian. She recently made a foray into abortion politics by claiming that people who both support Donald Trump and oppose abortion should think again about opposing abortion. This is because, if abortion was stopped, many more African Americans and other minorities would be born.* Therefore, since Donald Trump is racist, as are his supporters, he and his supporters should not want more of these people born. Furthermore, the only way to prove that Trump and his backers want more minority babies is by adopting Progressive social and economic policies.

What she appeared to be saying in her tweets, however, was that abortion killed a lot of minority babies and that was a good thing. If Trump and his supporters realized that, they would join with Ms. Evans in upholding abortion. Ms. Evans deleted her tweets saying that she was misunderstood and pointed interested readers to a blog post of hers from 2016. In the post, she claimed that truly pro-life Christians should vote for pro-abortion candidates without fear and reject pro-life candidates because they are not truly pro-life.

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The Problem of Social Induction

 

Scottish philosopher David Hume — a skeptic’s skeptic, and not exactly a vaunted figure around here — is famous, in part, for his criticism of inductive reasoning. (Induction involves moving from a particular (or a series of particulars) to some general conclusion.) We tend, for instance, to use inductive reasoning when linking cause and effect. If I lift a ball and let go, the ball falls. The ball behaves this way every time I release it. As far as I know, every single human who hoists a ball into the air and drops it notices the same thing. The ball invariably plunges toward the earth. I conclude, therefore, that a causal relationship exists between my letting go and the ball’s descent.

But, according to Hume, my reasoning is faulty.* No matter how many times I observe one phenomenon following another, I can never be certain that the first causes the second. To do so — to achieve certainty — would require knowledge of the principles underlying that causal chain. But I have no such knowledge. I don’t know, and can’t know, whether there is a causal chain.

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The Democrats Can’t Move to the Center

 

On the most recent podcast, one of the hosts asked why the Democrats can’t move their party to the center, and instead seem to be sliding further and further left. The question was tossed off, but there is an answer to it, and the answer affects more than just the Democrats. Political organization is harder than it looks. This will require some explaining.

Parties and Interest Groups Explained

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Trump’s Vindictiveness Is His Greatest Asset … and Vice

 

Recently I read a great book about autism, Steve Silberman’s NeuroTribes. The book got me thinking about autism in an entirely different light. It has been always been around, and just represents one part of the spectrum of neurological diversity. Autistic individuals have been at the forefront of discoveries scientific and technological. They were able to achieve what they did because of their autism, not despite it. Autism cannot be cured; it is not a disease. It represents a different part of the human experience.

I’ve been thinking a great deal about this with regard to the President’s statements in Helsinki yesterday. Please note: I am by no means saying the President is autistic. I do not believe he is and that is not the purpose of this analogy. I am merely referring to how I’ve thought about President Trump for the last year. As my friend Ben Shapiro says, Good Trump and Bad Trump. But according to this NeuroTribes theory, there is no such thing as Good Trump and Bad Trump; they are one and the same. You cannot have Good Trump without the Bad, and vice versa. Bad Trump is what makes Good Trump, and Good Trump is made by Bad Trump.

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For a National Unity Ticket in 2020

 

It should be clear to most people after the fiasco in Helsinki earlier this week, that Donald Trump shouldn’t be President. I don’t know how you can look at that press conference and say, “Yes, that man should be President. America made a good choice.” At the same time, no one reading this wants to turn the government over to the Democratic Party, which is currently at war with itself over whether it wants to be moderately progressive or fully embrace democratic socialism.

We’re approaching a point where the divisiveness of our politics could cause serious long-term damage, or worse still, take a violent turn. Political violence is an aberration in our system, but if the situation continues to deteriorate, it could come to blood.

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Progressives Come After Brett Kavanaugh

 

Two different lines of attack have been launched against the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, now of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, to replace Anthony Kennedy on the United States Supreme Court: one personal and one substantive. On the former I have little to say, except to note Yale Law School Professor Amy Chua’s glowing endorsement of Kavanaugh in the Wall Street Journal. Of far greater importance is the attack on his intellectual orientation, both generally and as it relates to specific issues that have come up already, and that will surely come up again before the Supreme Court.

On these issues, the progressive forces aligned against Kavanaugh have given no quarter. The chief object of their intellectual denunciation is the Federalist Society, with whom I have been actively involved since its formation in the early Reagan years. The great success of that organization, as the New York Times columnist David Brooks has recognized, is its single-minded devotion to a long game in which the study of first principles is the main object of intellectual inquiry. The basic insight is that every political movement needs strong intellectual foundations to insulate it from the passions of the day, and that the free exploration of ideas is the best way to achieve that end. The Federalist Society took off in the early 1980s precisely because the dominant liberal ethos of the time was so sure of its political and moral invincibility that it had not taken the time to develop its own comprehensive view on the fundamental relationship between the individual and the state.

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Restoration Project

 

View original artwork here.

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The Power of Willful Denial

 

Below is an incomplete list of Americans who were confirmed by the Venona Project to have both spied for the Soviets and  worked for the FDR administration. Okay, it’s an incomplete list for two reasons: 1) Only a small percentage of the messages intercepted by the Army Signal Intelligence Service could be successfully decoded and 2) The list was so long that I got tired of adding new names. But you can parse the rest of the list of Venona-Americans, which is available here. This list includes people who had personal access to FDR himself. In fact, FDR’s closest aide Harry Hopkins was a Soviet spy.

This post is not about whataboutism. It’s about perspective. Democrats’ hands are far from clean when it comes to Russia. The next time you hear a liberal call Trump Putin’s puppet, ask them what they think about FDR’s record on Soviet espionage. There is overwhelming evidence that FDR hired scores of Soviet spies, and many liberals to this day either don’t know about it or know but refuse to accept it. Don’t let them lecture you about willful denial.

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My Failures Are What I Remember

 

What’s the deal? How come I remember my failures with more clarity than I remember my victories. That’s not fair. Am I neurotic?

Example Number One: Marie and I were living in Salt Lake City with our beloved cat Scamper. I was walking home from the University of Utah when I discovered Scamper lying dead in the gutter. She was a pretty calico cat, and she had been run over by a car and pretty much squashed. So I scooped up Scamper’s remains and gave them a small burial by the side of the road, saying a few words over the grave. My wife and I loved that cat.

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