Friday, March 01, 2019

Trans Through A Teacher’s Eyes

March 1, 2019

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A teacher who reads this blog comments:
I would be sued and lose my job for what I’m about to reveal here, if my identity were known.
I am a teacher at a very socially liberal arts school in a major American city. I have seen the entire gay marriage fight play out over the decades, from cultural fringe to Supreme Court victory. I have also been watching the transgender revolution in recent years, and it terrifies me. The gay kids and the gay rights kids were generally the same as their peers–maybe more politically extreme, but their lives were usually stable. Not the trans kids, though. They’re in desperately bad shape.
Kids started to come out as trans in significant numbers about four years ago, around the time of Obergefell. At my school, being gay had long since lost any stigma, and has even passed the stage of dignified rebellion, to becoming a boring commonplace. At such an artsy school, everyone always knew that a big portion of the student body was gay.
Four years ago, I had my first student who was publicly trans. He was growing out his hair and asked to be called by a girl’s name, but didn’t make a big deal about it. His mother was a prominent professional figure in the community, and I asked her what name she wanted me to call her son. She said she was confused by all this and didn’t know what to do, but wanted to support her son.
The year after that, I had a young woman who made a bigger deal out of being trans. She wore a shirt that said, “I may be a sissy, but at least I’m not a cissy.” That’s where I learned the word cisgender, and how it is used as a pejorative by leftists. That student was moody and unstable, and was withdrawn from school for mental health reasons in the middle of the year.
The year after that, I had two trans students. One was generally stable, but the other was not. Guess which one wore a button declaring preferred pronouns. The other one graduated and soon dropped the whole trans identity and started living as a lesbian.
The button-wearer mysteriously wasn’t in our school anymore at the start of the next year. I asked her friends about it, but they could only shrug. Nobody ever heard from her again.
Last year I also had two trans kids–maybe more, since by then it was already not such a big deal to their peers anymore, and they just did their thing. When each year begins, I ask students to fill out an information card so I can get to know them. One of these two answered “What’s something interesting about you?” with “I’m trans!” and the question “What do I need to know about you to help you succeed?” was answered with “I’m super mentally ill.” Like the girl the year before (also a female-to-male trans), this kid ended up being pulled out of our school for her serious mental health needs.
That brings us to this year, where I have several trans students, at various degrees of militancy about it. By far the most serious is a young man who has *fully* transitioned physically to a female, and who also (surprise!) has a host of major mental health problems. This poor young man (and yes, I will aver that he is still a young man) had the same crippling anxiety issues that the other students I’ve mentioned here had, plus verbal tics.
Throughout the year, his mother and school counselor have kept us updated on the side effects of new medications the child is “trying,” plus the drama of switching doctors when treatments backfire (for some reason!). Just this week we were told that he is being withdrawn from school (again, surprise!) to continue school at home, for medical reasons.
Here’s the scariest part: this young man’s mom is an evangelical pastor. He was gay in middle school, then trans, and is now a doped up basket case so dysfunctional that he has to be removed from an incredibly tolerant, liberal school where he was literally celebrated for being a “she.” NONE of these kids have been bullied in any way–many students cheer on what they’re doing. The minority of religious/conservative kids keep their heads down about it. In fact, two years ago, in a class discussion, one Christian boy referred to a trans classmate by the wrong pronoun, and the class immediately tensed up, but he quickly backtracked, “corrected” his mistake, and apologized, saying that he “didn’t want to offend anyone.” All this kabuki theater in the space of three seconds.
The elephant in the room that nobody wants to talk about is that, over and over for years now, these trans children are clearly suffering from massive mental and emotional problems, and all their pronouns and transitioning do nothing to heal that. Their fellow students, indoctrinated by this kind of ideology for their whole lives, uncritically foster it. The few adults–like me–who would like to point out that the emperor has no clothes, are prohibited by fiat from doing so. (For example, the trans student with the pastor mom has a 504 plan–a kind of mild special education accommodation–that requires teachers to use the preferred pronoun in class. These documents are legally binding on teachers.)
I haven’t seen any kind of fad that’s this profoundly damaging in my entire 20 year career. Nothing else comes close to being so clearly and needlessly tragic. As with hate crime hoaxes, I’ve started wondering how many more cases of broken youth we’ll all have to turn a blind eye from before we can look away no more, and finally stare truth in the face.
Being gay may have become old fashioned, but being transgender never will because it never can–the dangers associated with it are just too great. The circumstantial evidence is already clear. The moral and intellectual evidence has always been solid. Sooner or later, this farcical trend must stop, because that which cannot go on forever, won’t.

The Devastating Anti-Communism of ‘Cold War’
March 1, 2019

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The best narrative art eschews didacticism in favor of subtlety and nuance and moral reflection. The Polish film Cold War, released last year and directed by Pawel Pawlikowski, is no exception. It tells the story, inspired by Pawlikowski's parents, of Wiktor Warski (Tomasz Kot) and Zula Lichón (Joanna Kulig), whose amour fou burns against the backdrop of postwar Europe.
Wiktor's passion for Zula consumes him. It haunts him for years after he flees Poland, and drives him to return despite the certainty of imprisonment. Zula herself is a beautiful, broken creature, the victim of abuse, talented but insecure, flirtatious, charming, impetuous, melancholy, who dulls her anxieties with alcohol. This passionate and doomed romance also has a political dimension. Which is why Cold War is not just melodrama. It's a masterpiece.
The film is a subtle but devastating critique of the socialist phenomenon. Wiktor and Zula meet shortly after the end of World War II, when Wiktor is tasked with assembling a musical troupe that will perform folk music for the nomenklatura of the Soviet client government. With his partner, choreographer Irena Bielecka (Agata Kulesza), Wiktor tours the countryside, recording ancient melodies. They occupy what looks to be an old estate—a ruin of the ancien régime—where they hold auditions. Among the aspiring dancers and singers is Zula, to whom Wiktor is immediately drawn. Irena doesn't share Wiktor's enthusiasm, especially after Zula performs a song from a Soviet movie. But she relents. Zula joins the group.
Its fate is intertwined with the conformism, corruption, and coercion of socialism. Near the expropriated property where Wiktor, Irena, and Zula reside is a devastated church. The art on its walls has been blotted out. Of one painting only Jesus' eyes remain. They gaze silently and sadly on the human folly before them. During a tryst in the field beyond the church, Zula confesses to Wiktor that she has been informing on him to Lech Kaczmarek (Borys Szyc), a sort of commissar assigned to Wiktor and Irena. Kaczmarek wants to know if Wiktor is politically correct, if he believes in God. "Do you? I do," Zula says. It's a belief that can be admitted only in confidence. Wiktor, who doesn't answer, is furious Zula has been spying on him. But he can't remain angry for long. Not at her.
Kaczmarek is ambitious. After the group makes its debut, he accompanies Wiktor and Irena to a meeting with a party official. The peasant songs and dances are wonderful, this apparatchik says, but perhaps you could add a few numbers on the glories of land reform and revolution. Irena blanches at the idea. Kaczmarek interjects and says they would be happy to make the change. Wiktor, while noticeably uncomfortable, is silent. He seems ambivalent about the world around him, focusing instead on his artistic and emotional life. He conducts the chorus, whose eclectic and intricate folk costumes have been replaced by drab uniforms, in a tribute to the leader of the global proletariat as Stalin's glowering portrait is raised in the background. Irena looks on in disgust from the audience before leaving her seat and exiting the frame. She's never seen again.
Some critics dislike the episodic mode of storytelling in Cold War, which jumps from year to year. What they miss is that these glimpses into an increasingly remote past illustrate the creeping, insidious nature of socialist authoritarianism. Wiktor makes his escape to the West during a visit to East Berlin in the early 1950s. He waits for Zula to join him—she never arrives—before crossing alone into the French Sector. I admit I was somewhat surprised at the ease with which Wiktor defects. Then I remembered the Berlin Wall wasn't built until 1961. Communist subjects lucky enough to wind up in East Berlin before that time had a decent chance of reaching freedom. Before the Soviets locked them in.
Wiktor ends up in Paris, where he plays piano at a jazz club and scores films. It is here that the contrast between socialism and democracy is most explicit. The music in Poland alternates between ethnography and propaganda, while France is alive with the improvisations of jazz and the boisterousness of rock ‘n' roll. The audiences in Warsaw Pact nations are drab, monotone, devoid of eccentricity or novelty in favor of an ethnicized socialist ideal. In Paris, the music venues are filled with bohemians and servicemen, with men and women of European, American, African, and Japanese descent. However, the uncertainty and turbulence to life in democratic capitalist nations can be both invigorating and unsettling.
When Zula joins Wiktor—she leaves Poland legally by marrying an Italian who she summarily abandoned—she is ill at ease. Zula is the type of person who, prone to extremes of temperament and comportment, would not fit fully in any community. But she is especially unhappy amidst the whirl of Paris. Pawlikowski perfectly captures the clash of Zula's psychology with Western freedoms in a sequence where she drunkenly dances to "Rock Around the Clock," swinging from partner to partner until, having climbed up on the bar to dance alone, she falls into Wiktor's arms. Not long afterward, she leaves him once again.
When Wiktor learns that Zula has returned to Poland, he visits his homeland's embassy and expresses a desire to follow her. The consular officer can't believe his ears. "Why would you want to go back?" he asks. Why, indeed. Wiktor can't help it. He isn't thinking straight. He is fixated on Zula. The paradox of Cold War is this: The imperatives of private life lead Wiktor to sneak back into a land whose politics make private life impossible. Wiktor does not learn this lesson until too late. But it is not too late for us.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

California’s Rendezvous With Reality

February 27, 2019
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One of the elevated sections of the high-speed rail under construction in Fresno, Calif., Dec. 6, 2017.(AP)
Californians brag that their state is the world’s fifth-largest economy. They talk as reverentially of Silicon Valley companies Apple, Facebook and Google as the ancient Greeks did of their Olympian gods.
Hollywood and universities such as Caltech, Stanford and Berkeley are cited as permanent proof of the intellectual, aesthetic and technological dominance of West Coast culture.
Californians also see their progressive, one-party state as a neo-socialist model for a nation moving hard to the left.
But how long will they retain such confidence?
California’s 40 million residents depend on less than 1 percent of the state’s taxpayers to pay nearly half of the state income tax, which for California’s highest tier of earners tops out at the nation’s highest rate of 13.3 percent.
In other words, California cannot afford to lose even a few thousand of its wealthiest individual taxpayers. But a new federal tax law now caps deductions for state and local taxes at $10,000—a radical change that promises to cost many high-earning taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars.
If even a few thousand of the state’s 1 percent flee to nearby no-tax states such as Nevada or Texas, California could face a devastating shortfall in annual income.
During the 2011-16 California drought, politicians and experts claimed that global warming had permanently altered the climate, and that snow and rain would become increasingly rare in California. As a result, long-planned low-elevation reservoirs, designed to store water during exceptionally wet years, were considered all but useless and thus were never built.
Then, in 2016 and 2017, California received record snow and rainfall—and the windfall of millions of acre-feet of runoff was mostly let out to sea. Nothing since has been learned.
California has again been experiencing rain and cold that could approach seasonal records. The state has been soaked by some 18 trillion gallons of rain in February alone. With still no effort to expand California’s water-storage capacity, millions of acre-feet of runoff are once again cascading out to sea (and may be sorely missed next year).
The inability to build reservoirs is especially tragic given that the state’s high-speed-rail project has gobbled up more than $5 billion in funds without a single foot of track laid. The total cost soared from an original $40 billion promise to a projected $77 billion. To his credit, newly elected Gov. Gavin Newsom, fearing a budget catastrophe, canceled the statewide project while allowing a few miles of the quarter-built Central Valley “track to nowhere” to be finished.
For years, high-speed rail has drained the state budget of transportation funds that might have easily updated nightmarish stretches of the Central Valley’s Highway 99, or ensured that the nearby ossified Amtrak line became a modern two-track line.
California politicians vie with each other to prove their open-borders bona fides in an effort to appeal to the estimated 27 percent of Californians who were not born in the United States.
But the health, educational and legal costs associated with massive illegal immigration are squeezing the budget. About a third of the California budget goes to the state’s Medicare program, Medi-Cal. Half the state’s births are funded by Medi-Cal, and in nearly a third of those state-funded births, the mother is an undocumented immigrant.
California is facing a perfect storm of homelessness. Its labyrinth of zoning and building regulations discourages low-cost housing. Its generous welfare benefits, non-enforcement of vagrancy and public health laws, and moderate climate draw in the homeless. Nearly one-third of the nation’s welfare recipients live in the state, and nearly one in five live below the poverty line.
The result is that tens of thousands of people live on the streets and sidewalks of the state’s major cities, where primeval diseases such as typhus have reappeared.
California’s progressive government seems clueless how to deal with these issues, given that solutions such as low-cost housing and strict enforcement of health codes are seen as either too expensive or politically incorrect.
In sum, California has no margin for error.
Spiraling entitlements, unwieldy pension costs, money wasted on high-speed rail, inadequate water storage and delivery, and lax immigration policies were formerly tolerable only because about 150,000 Californians paid huge but federally deductible state income taxes.
No more. Californians may have once derided the state’s 1 percent as selfish rich people. Now, they are praying that these heavily burdened taxpayers stay put and are willing to pay far more than what they had paid before.
That is the only way California can continue to spend money on projects that have not led to safe roads, plentiful water, good schools and safe streets.
A California reckoning is on the horizon, and it may not be pretty.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

'Becoming Mrs. Lewis' Book Talk with Patti Callahan

Book Review: Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan

By Cynthia A. Graham
October 2018

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In the improbable love story of Bronx native Joy Davidman and beloved Christian author, C. S. Lewis, Patti Callahan gives voice to historical figures often overlooked. Becoming Mrs. Lewis,written in first person from the viewpoint of Joy Davidman Lewis paints a vivid, realistic portrayal of a woman’s struggle to break through society’s narrow confines of womanhood in the 1950s. When Joy finally does, she finds the love she has always craved and, more importantly, becomes the person she was meant to be.
In the opening section we are introduced to Joy, a young mother bound to an abusive spouse. When her husband, Bill, calls on the phone once again threatening suicide, something within Joy breaks and she falls to her knees. And it is in that moment that she has an encounter with grace so strong that it will define the rest of her life. This experience causes her to reach out for answers, and the answers she finds come from corresponding with C. S. Lewis.
A writer, Joy’s career has been put on the back burner as marriage and motherhood become her expected priority. In spite of her great love for her children, she feels conflicted, putting her true self aside to try and be the woman her husband demands.
As she tells her cousin, “We were taught to dim our light so the men might shine, or at the very least look good. We were trained to appease, to please, to dance to the tune of their needs. We were . . . always scared to be who we were, to be ourselves.” But Joy cannot please her husband and feels there must be something more.
As Joy’s marriage continues to deteriorate, her friendship with Lewis grows. He becomes her mentor, her confidante, and her closest friend. When illness sidelines Joy and almost takes her life, she leaves her family to visit England to recuperate where she is finally able to meet Lewis. While she is gone, her husband begins an affair with her cousin which eventually leads to their divorce.
Joy returns home to the chaos of this impending divorce, but her heart remains in England. As soon as she is able, she returns there with her two sons in tow. Once she is settled, she and Lewis begin a collaboration that will last the rest of her life.
Callahan’s portrayal of the complexities of Joy Davidman’s nature and idealism is stunning. The truth in Davidman’s feelings and desires is a testimony to the many hours that went in to researching this novel. In portraying Davidman as a passionate and realistic individual, there are some instances when she comes across as adolescent and needy. In a novel that highlights the philosophical and theological companionship between Davidman and Lewis, lines like, “I felt his undeniable hard desire against my body” seem out of place and overdone.
The descriptions of the countryside around Oxford and the Kilns (the bachelors’ residence shared by Lewis and his brother Warnie) are wonderfully drawn. The many references to fairy stories come to life in the picturesque and lovely landscape created in the reader’s mind by Patti Callahan.
But where the author really shines is in her understanding of the politics and complexities of the English intellectual society. The story draws you in as Callahan describes both Cambridge and Oxford and the rules and decorum of these institutions. In spite of Davidman’s great intellect as a woman she is always on the outside looking in. Characters like J. R. R. Tolkien seem pedantic and snobbish, in particular in their attitudes toward the opposite sex. In spite of the prevailing attitude that women should be in the kitchen and not the university, Joy Davidman is able to create and enjoy a fulfilling, intellectual life.
Joy Davidman Lewis was a woman able to forge a life of her own choice—a life of books, stories, beautiful friendships, and, finally the deep and abiding love she always desired. Patti Callahan took a character on the periphery, one who has historically taken a back seat to her male counterpart, and given her a fierce, passionate voice. For those fans of Lewis curious about the woman who inspired A Grief Observed this book offers a convincing, fascinating glimpse into the private lives of two very remarkable individuals.

Cynthia A. Graham's most recent book is Between the Lies: A Novel (Blank Slate Press, 2018). Her novels have won 2015 and 2016 Midwest Book Awards for Mystery and a 2016 Independent Publisher's Gold Medal for Mystery/Cozy/Noir. Her historical novel Beulah's House of Prayer was a finalist for the Oklahoma Book Award.


Interview: Patti Callahan -

In Defense of Women’s Sports

By Madeleine Kearns
February 27, 2019

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Martina Navratilova, nine-time Wimbledon singles champion and longtime LGBT advocate, caused controversy last week when she wrote for the Sunday Times of London that it’s “insane” and “cheating” to permit biological males who declare themselves to be trans women to compete against women in women’s sports. She wrote:
A man can decide to be female, take hormones if required by whatever sporting organisation is concerned, win everything in sight and perhaps earn a small fortune, and then reverse his decision and go back to making babies.
Navratilova added that, as a lesbian, she is sensitive to feelings of sexual minorities and has no issue with addressing a transgender woman according to preference. Nevertheless, she draws a “critical distinction” between transsexualism and transgenderism. Indeed, she herself had a transsexual coach and friend — Renee Richards — and Richards now shares Navratilova’s concerns about transgenderism as it relates to women’s sports.
Navratilova also drew an even more critical distinction: intersex conditions. In her article, she pledged support for Caster Semenya, the Olympic 800-meter champion, who is female but has a rare condition that results in naturally high testosterone levels, and who is challenging the International Association of Athletics Federations at the Court of Arbitration for Sport after they introduced a rule requiring her to take hormone therapy.
So far, so uncontroversial — one would think. But apparently not.
Within days of the article’s publication, Athlete Ally, a New York–based LGBT-rights organization, expelled Navratilova on the grounds that her “recent comments on trans athletes are transphobic, based on a false understanding of science and data, and perpetuate dangerous myths.” Chase Strangio of the ACLU, a trans activist, told The Nation that “Athlete Ally’s decision was absolutely, 100 percent correct.” The chief sportswriter of the U.K.’s Independent cited “the flimsy and poorly-understood relationship between testosterone and elite performance” and added a rather whoppingly sexist digression besides:
Let’s say the floodgates do open. Let’s say transgender athletes pour into women’s sport, and let’s say . . . they dominate everything they touch. They sweep up Grand Slam tennis titles and cycling world championships. They monopolise the Olympics. They fill our football and cricket and netball teams. Why would that be bad? Really? Imagine the power of a trans child or teenager seeing a trans athlete on the top step of the Olympic podium. In a way, it would be inspiring.
I’m imagining . . . Transgender athlete breaks record on women’s sprint . . . Transgender boxer breaks woman’s jaw . . . Nope, still not inspired. And, at any rate, testosterone is only part of the matter.
Other well-documented physical advantages men have over women include height, weight, broader shoulders, greater circulating blood volume, greater resistance to dehydration, larger lung capacity, thicker skin, faster sensory frame shifting, more hemoglobin in the blood, greater upper-body strength, faster reaction times, greater bone density in the arms, larger sweat capacity, higher systolic blood pressure, higher muscle-to-fat ratio, and larger hearts — as Tia Ghose of Live Science details:
Men are physically stronger than women, on average. A study in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that men had an average of 26 lbs. (12 kilograms) more skeletal muscle mass than women. Women also exhibited about 40 percent less upper-body strength and 33 percent less lower-body strength, on average, the study found.
The researchers found that height and weight differences between men and women could explain only about half of the difference in strength. Researchers reporting in 1993 in the European Journal of Applied Physiology found that men’s brawn could also be attributed to a larger cross-section in individual muscle fibers.
And a 2006 study in the same journal revealed that men had much stronger grips than women — the difference was so big that 90 percent of the women scored lower than 95 percent of the men. The team also looked at highly trained female athletes who excelled at sports requiring a strong grip, such as judo or handball. Though these women did have a stronger grip compared with other women, they still performed worse than 75 percent of the men on this task.
In general, men are also faster than women. The fastest woman in the world, Florence Griffith Joyner, ran the 100-meter dash in just 10.49 seconds in 1988, and that record remains unbroken. Yet her fastest time wouldn’t have even qualified her for the men’s 2016 Olympic competition, which requires competitors to finish the 100-meter sprint in 10.16 seconds or less.
All this is obvious, of course, to those of us with eyes that see and minds capable of critical thought. But the effect of ideology on eyes and minds should not be underestimated.
Take Representative Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.), for instance, who called on Minnesota attorney general Keith Ellison to investigate USA Powerlifting for its ban on transgender women (biological males) competing against biological females. Omar asserted that the belief in a “direct competitive advantage” of these males was a “myth.”
Really Ms. Omar, is that so? Again, from the Times of London:
Lauren Jeska, a transgender woman, won four English and British fell running championships. After officials asked to test her hormone levels, she attacked three with a knife and is serving 18 years for attempted murder.
Laurel Hubbard, a New Zealand weightlifter, set junior male records before transitioning at 35. She won 2017’s Australian Open and was expected to take Commonwealth Games gold last year, until injury made her withdraw.
Hannah Mouncey played 22 times for Australia’s male handball team before transitioning in 2015–16 and joining the women’s side. She also plays Australian rules football but was banned from the women’s league.
Transgender athletes finished first and second at the Connecticut girls’ indoor track championships. I wonder how the girl who finished third felt?
Most likely she felt similar to the bronze medalist in the cycling world title, Jen Wagner-Assali, who lost to Rachel McKinnon — a male who identified as such until the age of 29. Wagner-Assali wrote on Twitter that McKinnon winning first place was “not fair.” But after sustained pressure from McKinnon, she apologized.
In December, Navratilova tweeted: “You can’t just proclaim yourself a female and be able to compete against women. There must be some standards and having a penis and competing as a woman would not fit that standard.”
McKinnon was not pleased by this and began a tirade against Navratilova. In her Sunday Times essay, Navratilova describes this behavior as bullyish and argues that, while she feels able to take a stand, she worries that other women will be “cowed into silence or submission.”
Likewise, when a spokesperson for the organization Fair Play for Women (FPFW) was invited by the BBC to discuss Navratilova’s comments about trans participation in female sport, McKinnon wrote on Twitter: “I will not participate in a discussion panel that takes them [FPFW] seriously and gives them a platform.”
FPFW were then disinvited by the BBC, and McKinnon boasted about having the platform to himself. Dr. Nicola Williams, director of FPFW and a research scientist specializing in human biology, told National Review:
Slurs [like “transphobia”] get in the way of the collective good and the public are not hearing the full range of views. Sensible media outlets are backing away. Sensible people are fearful of discussing the issues. Bully-boy tactics like this must be called out and not allowed to stifle the calm and rational discussion that’s needed to find a resolution.

Martina, Heretic -

Why Ocasio-Cortez Isn’t Amusing

February 26, 2019

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Hardly a day goes by without the new face of the Democratic Party, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), unconsciously giving the Right more ammunition to ridicule her so-called “policies.”

The latest was an SNL-like video she made in her kitchen cooking chili during which she berated America for the impending environmental apocalypse.
The inanity of her comments is stupefying enough. For example, she actually pauses to look at the camera and says: “If we do not act there is no hope. The only time we can hope is when we act.” But her Miss World contestant soundbites, are outdone by the shear irony of the whole film. Rush Limbaugh commented, as only he can:
And in this cooking video, everything she’s using is powered by fossil fuels! From her stove to her refrigerator. The food that she is making arrived in her kitchen after having been delivered for part of the route by fossil fuels.
Those would be the same fossils fuels Ocasio-Cortez wants to ban in America under her Green New Deal.
While theses gaffes and the memes to which they give rise are truly amusing, the humor of it all shouldn’t give the Right a sense of security. The New Green Deal is a socialist plan for the largest redistribution of wealth the world has ever seen, and it will cost you $93 trillion .
The GND is “watermelon policy”—green on the outside and deep red on the inside. It’s socialism under the cloak of environmentalism. What’s more, the proposal isn’t merely the collected ravings of a fringe freshman congresswoman. The Green New Deal has been endorsed by a slew of Democrat representatives and senators, including some who think they have a shot at being the next president, such as Kamala Harris (D-Calif.).
As a result, now more than ever, we must tell the truth about socialism—the socialism of today and the socialism of the past. We must remind people how in Venezuela, the otherwise ardent left-wing reporter, Jorge Ramos, caused the dictator Maduro to storm out of an interview and was arrested when he showed footage of Venezuelans eating discarded food out of a dumpster truck. And we must talk about what socialism actually wrought throughout the 20th century.
I have lived a blessed life, born into freedom in the United Kingdom and now a proud American living in the freest and greatest nation in the world. But for me socialism is not some theory. It’s not a policy paper written under the name of a former bartender from the Bronx. Socialism, and its final evolution, Communism, were realities that my family experienced. The consequences of that reality changed my life forever one sunny day at the beach when I was a child.
We lived in England when I was a child but our family would vacation in France. One summer, I must have been 8 or 9, we were at the seaside in southern France. I was playing on the shore and my father was swimming in the sea. When he came out, I recognized something I hadn’t seen before. On both of his wrists there were deep white lines yet he wasn’t old enough to be wrinkled there. Innocently, I asked him: “Dad what’s that?” Without any hesitation or emotion he answered: “That’s where the secret police bound my wrists together with wire behind my back and hanged me from the ceiling of the torture chamber.” That moment my life changed. That moment history became real for me and the struggle for freedom took physical form.
My father’s story of persecution under a left-wing regime is not unique. But how many Americans know these stories? How many could tell you that the ideas of Karl Marx killed more than 100 million people in just a little more than a century? From Russia to Cambodia, from Poland to North Korea, the story is the same.
When almost half of Millennials polled say they prefer socialism to free-market democracy, we understand where the 29-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez comes from and we know the threat her ideas pose to freedom in America.
The 2020 presidential election will not be about GOP versus DNC. It won’t even be about Donald Trump versus the Establishment. Our next election, and all elections for at least a generation, will have to undo the brainwashing of a generation. These elections are going to be about one thing: freedom versus oppression.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Today's Tune: Johnny Cash - Ain't No Grave

You've Come a Long Way, Baby — or Have You?

February 25, 2019

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The Navy destroyer USS Fitzgerald, which was involved in an early Saturday collision with a merchant ship, is seen at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan, Sunday, June 17, 2017.

Given the Leftist drive to annihilate the differences (and there are many) between the sexes, this was inevitable. But what's amusing about it is the latest blow for "equality" came not from the harpies and the Furies but from a group of men who just might be doing a signal service for the women of America:
Even though America hasn’t had a military draft since 1973, men — but not women — are required to register with the Selective Service. A federal judge Friday said that must change — calling the system unconstitutional but not requiring women 18-25 to register. 
U.S. District Judge Gray H. Miller in Houston agreed with the San Diego-based National Coalition for Men and granted its request for summary judgment in a class action suit. “The male-only registration requirement of the Military Selective Service Act, 50 U.S.C. § 3802(a), violates the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution,” says Miller’s “final judgment.” 
“Women are now allowed in combat, so this decision is long overdue,” said Marc Angelucci, attorney for NCFM. “After decades of sex discrimination against men in the Selective Service, the courts have finally found it unconstitutional to force only men to register.”
What's interesting about this decision is that it was decided on "discrimination" grounds. For decades, even a century, American women have pushed to be allowed within formerly male-only precincts: at the ballot box, in the Yankees' locker room, in sex-restricted clubs and even in the Boy Scouts. They haven't made it into the NFL, the NBA or Major League Baseball just yet, but no doubt one of these teams is just itching to do something "historic" and break the gender line.

They've been allowed into the Navy, into combat roles in the Army and, alas, even the Marine Corps. Naturally, physical standards have had to be effectively lowered, and female officers promoted beyond their physical and emotional capacities. Many female sailors return home pregnant, but who cares? The only thing worth caring about these days is "equality" -- a slogan one might have thought died on the guillotine along with Robespierre during the French Revolution, but here we are.

In a long and harrowingly detailed takeout on the wreck of the USS Fitzgerald, which was T-boned by a giant cargo ship off the coast of Japan in 2017, ProPublica reports:
Sarah Coppock, lieutenant junior grade, was the officer of the deck, responsible for the safety and navigation of the ship while [Captain] Benson slept.
Sixteen minutes after the collision, at 1:46 a.m., Benson staggered onto the bridge. Adrenaline, fear and anger shot through him. The ship was listing, wheeling in the dark uncontrolled. The electricity was out. The screens were off. Only emergency lanterns and moonlight illuminated the bridge. Benson found the officer who had been in charge of the ship sobbing. “Captain, I fucked up,” she told him.
It turns out that the ship was largely under the control of a group of young female officers at the time of the collision, which took place in the middle of the night in one of the busiest waterways in the Orient.
At 1:25 a.m., the Fitzgerald was 6,000 yards from the Crystal, 5,000 yards from the Wan Hai 266 and on a collision course with the Maersk Evora, approaching from 14,000 yards away. There was still time for the highly maneuverable Fitzgerald to get out of the way. 
But Coppock disobeyed Benson’s standing orders. Rather than call Benson for help, she decided to continue on her own. Coppock didn’t call down to the combat room to ask for help, either. “I decided to try and handle it,” she said. At around 1:30 a.m., time had run out.... 
To avoid the Crystal, Coppock decided to order a hard turn to the right, the standard action for an evasive maneuver under international navigation rules. She shouted the command to [Ensign Francis] Womack to pass on to the helmsman. But Womack did not immediately understand her order. After Womack hesitated, Coppock decided that she was not going to clear the Crystal by going toward the right. Such a turn would put her on a possible collision with the Wan Hai 266.
“Oh shit, I’m so fucked! I’m so fucked!" she screamed.
Still, this very junior officer could have saved the ship. But she panicked:
Coppock could have ordered the Fitzgerald into reverse; there was still time to stop... Instead, Coppock ordered a move that disregarded the very basics of her training.  She commanded the helmsman to gun the destroyer’s powerful engines to full speed and duck in front of the Crystal by heading left. “All ahead flank,” she ordered. “Hard left rudder.” 
Helmsman-in-training Simona Nelson had taken the wheel of a destroyer at sea for the first time in her life 25 minutes earlier. Nelson froze, unsure of how to respond. Petty Officer 1st Class Samuel Williams noticed Nelson struggling. He took control of the helm and did as Coppock ordered: He pushed the throttle to full and turned the rudder hard left. The ship’s engines revved to full power. 
The move put the Fitzgerald directly into the path of the oncoming Crystal. Coppock did not sound the collision alarm to warn sailors of the impending risk. “I just got so wrapped up in trying to do anything that I had to just drop the ball on everything else that I needed to do,” she said.
Seven male sailors died in the wreck. The captain was relieved of command and faces serious charges. Coppock is still in the Navy.

To the riposte that a man, especially another Lt. j.g., might not have done any better, the only proper response is that a young woman should not have been in charge of a Navy destroyer in the first place. But she was, with fatal results. What's worse, the Navy under Clinton, Bush, and Obama embarked on a conscious policy to promote female officers as quickly as possible in order to satisfy the lust on the Left for weakening the military in the name of "progress" and "equality." Conservatives, unable to effectively stand on the side of history and tradition and articulate a moral defense against the coarsening of women as a matter of national policy, instead just rolled over.

The result has been a victory for "inclusiveness" in warfighting -- odd that no one ever asks why, like "diversity," that should be a factor -- at the expense of standards, unit cohesion, effectiveness, and readiness. The argument is made that differences in physical strength, bellicosity, and stamina are less important than they once were. It is impossible to imagine female centurions in the Roman army, or women in the trenches during World War I. On the battlefield, every woman sees in her enemy a symbolic son; every man sees an actual son of a bitch.

Today's remote-controlled drones and satellites mean that some battles take place in cyberspace, or on a computer screen. The vast majority of them, however, are in the air, on the ground, or on the high seas, at the tip of the spear. And in this, we are no different than the Greek hoplites, the legions, the Army of the Potomac, or Patton's Third Army. We may never again witness the clash of giant hosts on the field of battle, as there have been since Alexander, but there is no way to know that. Should that day come, is an army of women likely to defeat and overwhelm an army of men? When your women are forced into hand-to-hand fighting in the streets, and slaughtered like men, you've lost the war.

And yet, what the National Coalition of Men has done is a very good thing, because it's forced us to take a good long gander at the law of at least semi-intended consequences. Forcing the young women of America to register for the draft is now inevitable; the only thing that had prevented it was their exclusion from combat, in part for physical reasons but in larger part for moral and cultural reasons: women, as the bearers of future generations, needed to be protected and sheltered from the violence of war. It was no accident that a lost battle or war would result in widespread rapine, as a revenge and a humiliation upon an enemy literally not man enough to prevent it. Just ask the Sabines.

Jacques Stella, The Rape of the Sabines (Princeton University Art Museum)

What started the push for women in the military and then later (something they assured us would never happen) in combat was the profoundly anti-female "feminist" notion that the Platonic Form of a woman is a man: a gorgeous 120-pound kick-ass lethal weapon that can take out a score of hombres with practically her bare hands, and then look great that evening in a cocktail dress, high heels, and a diamond choker. Nobody really believes in such a creature, of course, but such is the power of the Narrative (what ought to be) over human nature (what really is) that Hollywood has swallowed the fantasy whole; then again, fantasy is Hollywood's stock-in-trade.

The "feminist" war is not with men, but with God. And yet we will go on indulging this fantasy until it becomes impossible to maintain, in which case it will quickly become a luxury we can no longer afford. As long as we have women playing at being soldiers while the U.S. plays at being at war in such places as Afghanistan (17 years and counting), not wishing to lose but not wishing to win, either. Grant, Sherman, or Patton would have disposed of our famously cowardly foes in the Middle East in a few horrifically punitive yet dispositive months with nary a woman at arms among them. This is not to denigrate the fighting abilities of our troops, nor their courage, commitment, or patriotism. No doubt some women have fought valiantly, and yes, the Israeli girls do their part; still, war is not a woman's game, and never has been.

In Virgil's Aeneid, there appears the lovely and brave warrior, Camilla. As I wrote in my most recent book, The Fiery Angel, Camilla takes up arms against the invading Trojans. "What an entrance she makes, and how powerfully the poet draws her, in some of the most beautiful and descriptive verses in any literature. In an epic that features the lives and deaths of countless warriors, Camilla stands out for her beauty, her bravery – and her femininity. Leading a cohort of Amazons, she is, in fact, the original wonder woman."

Ah, but the poet's famous opening incantation goes, Arma virumque cano. "I sing of the arms and the man." Not the woman.
Last, from the Volscians fair Camilla came, 
And led her warlike troops, a warrior dame; 
Unbred to spinning, in the loom unskill’d, 
She chose the nobler Pallas of the field. 
Mix’d with the first, the fierce virago fought, 
Sustain’d the toils of arms, the danger sought, 
Outstripp’d the winds in speed upon the plain, 
Flew o’er the fields, nor hurt the bearded grain: 
She swept the seas, and, as she skimm’d along, 
Her flying feet unbath’d on billows hung, 
Men, boys, and women, stupid with surprise, 
Where’er she passes, fix their wond’ring eyes: 
Longing they look, and, gaping at the sight, 
Devour her o’er and o’er with vast delight; 
Her purple habit sits with such a grace 
On her smooth shoulders, and so suits her face; 
Her head with ringlets of her hair is crown’d, 
And in a golden caul the curls are bound. 
She shakes her myrtle jav’lin; and, behind, 
Her Lycian quiver dances in the wind.
Alas, Camilla is soon killed in battle; the Trojans are bound to win the day and found the Eternal City of Rome, and there's nothing a girl can do to stop them. She is also... entirely mythological.

Maybe, baby, you haven't come such a long way after all.