The most recent Islamic act of war, in which self-professed Islamic State jihadi Omar Mir Seddique Mateen slaughtered 49 people and injured scores of others at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., should be a game changer. The deadliest attack on U.S. soil since Sept. 11, 2001, should finally convince our leadership that dealing with the Islamic threat must no longer be business as usual.
The presidents were not all men of greatness. The briefest stroll through the Smithsonian National Museum of American History’s exhibit on the presidents confirms that. There was dim party tool Warren G. Harding and crony catspaw Ulysses S. Grant. The feckless and imbecilic James Buchanan and the tragically twisted Richard Nixon.
In a hazardous year for political predictions, I’ll offer one confidently: if the Republicans currently freaking out over Donald Trump can redirect that energy toward beating Hillary Clinton, she’s toast.
In late October 1969, Richard Nixon took out one of his famous yellow legal pads to jot down some thoughts. The new president was faced with serious global and domestic turmoil. The Soviet Union had initiated a nuclear buildup, the Middle East was aflame (some things never change), and the war in Vietnam raged on. At home, the war drove hundreds of thousands of protesters into the streets, convulsing a nation already seething from the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. and a growing countercultural movement.
Some 40 percent of voting-age Americans don’t exercise their right to vote, according to the Pew Research Center. It could be fear–not disenchantment or indifference – that keeps some people away from the polls.
Let’s start with the misguided decision to have famed editor Maxwell Perkins wear a hat indoors in every scene of this film. Undoubtedly it was stimulated by the biography on which this movie is based, but for viewers who haven’t read that book, it becomes a joke to see a cultured intellectual sit at a dinner table with his elegant wife and daughters wearing the hat that he wore with his winter coat when he walked through the front door of his elegant home. You just know that any wife played by Laura Linney would have glared at him and not allowed the meal to commence before the hat was removed. Since the movie never rises to that level of emotional truth, it won’t be a spoiler to reveal that its ultimate removal is meant to signify a larger than life sentiment.
Venezuela was once heralded as the vanguard of a new South America. Today it is a failed state and the only problem is that characterization might be considered unfair to failed states in less dire straights. Rarely has an industrialized country fallen so far, so fast. The country is on the verge of total social collapse, currently experiencing shortages of electricity, foodstuffs, and basic medicines. Even fresh water must be rationed. Infants and mothers die routinely in Venezuelan hospitals. The murder rate in the capital, Caracas, is 120/100,000 people, six times greater than the murder rate in Chicago. Inflation, bribery, and corruption are rampant.
If you ever have the misfortune of stumbling onto a site called Prishtina Insight (a contradiction in terms), spare yourself the agony of reading even a single article. It appears to be a collection of Albanian “thinkers” pondering why things like visa liberalization don’t move faster for Kosovo (never mind that it’s not even a country yet, and was never supposed to be in the first place). A writer named Besa Shahini “analyzes” the “discrimination” against Kosovo on this front, while fellow columnist Gezim Krasniqi cheers “Kosovar sport’s fight for international recognition and glory” — despite international sports bodies generally only accepting membership of actual countries. Like EU membership itself. Yet in both cases, as always, rules are made up special for Kosovo as we go, and it muscles its way into all kinds of memberships, thanks to its Washington enforcers. An excerpt from Krasniqi’s May 11th article:
In the foreign policy and national security field, one way to “eyeball” the seriousness of a potential threat that one country poses to another is to use the formula: Threat = military capabilities + political intent.
If Alice were an 18 year old American college freshman, she would be protected by Title IX from any hint of sexual harassment or molestation. Even if she consented to climb into bed with a guy she had already had sex with many times, voluntarily peeled off all her clothes and had a black belt in karate, if she changed her mind at any time in her romantic encounter, the government would defend her as if she were a hothouse flower outdoors in a hurricane. If she spent her evening getting drunk with her partner, he alone would be held responsible for any advances while she would remain a helpless victim with no agency. Under the same rubric of Title IX, if Alice were a younger girl in elementary or high school, she would be expected to change in a locker room or shower in a communal facility with bi-gender members of the opposite sex. The government now demands that young Alice be cool with seeing boys on hormone therapy with both breasts and penises. How odd that so much more is expected of Alice as a child than when she is actually old enough to be responsible for her own behavior as well as enlist in the army and be killed for her country.
With its shattering of old-school political rules, the dominance of colorful personalities and the raging desire to smash the establishment status quo, the 2016 campaign has been wild. And yet, not everyone is paying as close attention to the race as might be expected. Women, in particular, apparently have better things to do.
Without surcease, the progressive law-givers scold the rest of us about the evils of bullying. Much of it, they say, is the bullying of gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender, questioning and gender fluid children by those ugly, ignorant little monsters who can’t stand change and who are on the wrong side of history.
Certainly the most famous transgender in America is Caitlin Jenner who has graced the cover of many magazines, occupied two slots on reality t.v., received recognition and many awards from the media, the LGBTQ movement and praise from the president of the U.S. Her Woman of the Year award from Glamour magazine for her “courage” in telling her story prompted the return of a similar award issued in 2001 to first responder police officer Moira Smith who rushed into the South Tower to save lives on 9/11, dying at the age of 38. Her husband questioned why this award was now being given to a man when there were so many heroic women in the military, police force, fire bigades or medical teams who put their lives on the line daily. Less forgivable was President Obama’s own use of the word “courage” coming from his position as Commander in Chief with dedicated troops offering their lives in Iraq, Afghanistan and various other global hotspots. That same word simply doesn’t apply to a man squeezing himself into a bustier, hiding his package between his thighs and posing for the cover of a magazine whose title more aptly fits the situation - Vanity Fair.
The university has declared that members of the all-male off-campus eating clubs will no longer be eligible for leadership positions on campus, including captains of sports teams. They will also be refused recommendations for post-graduate scholarships and fellowships. These restrictions will equally apply to all-female clubs and single sex fraternities and sororities. Presumably, the impetus for integrating the all-male clubs came from surveys and interviews with women who felt that an atmosphere of misogyny and sexual misconduct was re-enforced at these venues and since sexual assault is apparently a pandemic threat to women on campus, the obvious remedy is to alter the venue. It seems that Harvard students don’t read the classics anymore or they would have immediately thought of the Lysistrata solution for women to simply not attend gatherings, parties or any other events that take place at the offending clubs. Boycotts are popular at all the Ivies and they don’t require anything more than a signature on a petition and negative attendance - both of which students are good at. The boycott would guarantee zero sexual assault of women if no women showed up and before long, those lame-brained, horny men might figure out the problem and check their privilege without administrative interference.
Although feminists have claimed to seek equality - in education, employment, sexual and civil rights - a curious acceptance of patriarchal condescension still meets with their approval and demands. They won the battle to bare their breasts in public since men are entitled to do the same (see the painted topless ladies of Times Square), but when it comes to accepting equal responsibility for the consequences of drunken excess, they plead special protection. On campuses throughout America, women who claim to have been sexually molested while they were blotto are considered victims of a crime, not cooperating partners. Men, on the other hand, are never excused for molesting a woman (anything from a grope to rape) because they were drunk. Title IX and university administrations give women a pass and they willingly accept it.
Although climate change ranks at or near the bottom of issues most important to the American people, the Obama administration continues to push it like its agenda on radical wealth redistribution depends on it. Because in many ways, it does.
Columnist David P. Goldman (a.k.a. Spengler) had an article in Asia Times this month (”To be kind is to be cruel, to be cruel is to be kind,” Apr. 14), citing a recent migrant incident in Europe, first reported by UK Daily Mail:
“My permanent fight to preserve the peace, prevent the war and decrease the sufferings of everyone regardless of religion were an exemplary effort deserving respect rather than persecution.” –Radovan Karadzic to Balkan Insight, ahead of his March 24, 2016 Guilty verdict
“The Measure of a Man,” a film whose French title translates as “market law,’ is a condemnation of an economic system that treats its workers as disposable objects regardless of how diligently they have performed or how long they have been employed. Thierry, the protagonist played by Vincent Lindon in an award winning tour de force, is an everyman who has lost his job and been put through several retraining programs that were exercises in futility, never leading to an actual job. We see his frustration in dealing with the bureaucracy that sends people jumping through meaningless hoops only to be turned down time and again. We see him interviewed on Skype by a callow employer who whittles him down to the humiliating admission that he would welcome working for less money at a position lower than expected - only to be told that he has less than a 1% chance of getting the job - though it’s not impossible.
In the most moving part of the this film, we see him at home with a severely disabled son who is treated with dignity and acceptance by him and his wife. In one scene, the parents put on music and begin to dance together, eventually including the son and having Thierry step aside and beam as his son dances with his mother. These are scenes showing all three characters accepting their fate and moving on without self-pity as best they can. Thierry undergoes all sorts of duress : a version of group therapy in which his trial interview is critiqued by his peers; a lecture by an employment counselor who urges him to sell his house and buy life insurance; a patronizing speech by his son’s school director who now doubts that the boy can achieve his dream of going to college and a disappointment by a potential buyer of his mobile home who agreed to a price on the phone but tries to bargain him down after he sees it. His life is a series of reality bites which lead to his taking a job as a security officer at a large supermarket.
Forced to confront both shoplifters and workers who have been caught on camera in various petty thefts and offenses, Thierry realizes that he must stand up against the dehumanizing system referred to in the French title. Given the particularly extenuating circumstances of his life - his outstanding loan, his expenses for his disabled son’s care and education and his need to support his family, his heroic gesture struck this reviewer as an idealistic pipe dream, the luxury of people unburdened by the financial vise that has Thierry chained to accepting whatever job he can find. In a movie that has the hero unemployed for almost two previous years, grand gestures seem too expensive a commodity. More realistic and tragic are the everyday compromises people are forced to make when principles become luxuries that filmmakers can entertain while their subjects struggle to survive and make the best of the little that’s available to them.
In its war for America, the left never rests, sometimes falters but rarely allows itself to fail. It works tirelessly to “fundamentally transform the nation” and smashes anyone and anything that gets in its way.