Saturday, August 03, 2019



Former U.S. Navy SEAL Jack Carr came out of the shadows after many years in the special operations community to release his debut novel “The Terminal List,” which features fictional former Navy SEAL James Reece going on the warpath after his family is murdered to help cover up a deeper conspiracy. The book was a fan favorite, and even No. 1 New York Times bestselling author Brad Thor said that it was “absolutely awesome! […]  rarely do you read a debut novel this damn good.”

Coming off those rave reviews, Carr is now set to release the second book in his Reece series, “True Believer,” in July. We sat down with Carr for an interview over a cup of coffee for Coffee or Die’s latest installment of 11 Questions.
COD: How do you take your coffee?
JC: I don’t just take it strong and black. I take it the same way that James Reece does in “The Terminal List” and “True Believer.” I wanted to humanize that character a bit. I like a light roast. Silencer Smooth. I put a little honey in there and a bit of half-and-half.
COD: How do you make your coffee?
JC: In Iraq, I loved the French press. The human intelligence guys had coffee sent from home. When I did my rounds as a Troop Commander, we would grind the coffee right there, put it in the French Press, boil the water, pour it in, let it sit for a little while, and press that thing down.
But with kids running around, the dog barking, my wife packing bags for school, making lunches — I don’t do that at home. As much as I’d like to do the French Press, we have one of the big machines that grinds it up and does everything for you.
COD: What’s the most bizarre/extreme place you’ve ever drank (or made) a cup of coffee?
JC: With mortars coming in while in the intel shop in Iraq.
COD: What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done (physical or mental)?
JC: The toughest thing I’ve ever done is raise a child with severe special needs. Our middle child has a mutation of the NR2F1 gene, which is a gene that helps form the brain. It manifests itself as a global development disability, meaning he needs 24/7 full-time care for life. The additional stress that it puts on our family is difficult to describe.
My wife dealt with it all alone while I was deployed and continues to deal with it today when I am on the road and when I am home writing. We hope that our situation is making our family more loving, compassionate people. Our next mission in life is helping him reach his full potential, whatever that may be.
COD: What motivates you to do what you do?
JC: I’ve always wanted to do this since I was a little kid. I love reading, writing, and learning. My mother was a librarian. So, I naturally gravitated toward it.
COD: What do you think is the most misunderstood thing about you or the work you do?
JC: We were just guys who did a job. That job just happened to be special operations. The misconception may be that we are a lot stronger, tougher, and smarter than we actually are.
COD: How do you define success?
JC: In my case, I think success is looking back and seeing how your kids turn out. That they are good, compassionate people and citizens of this country. That they want to turn this country over to their kids with the same freedoms that they enjoyed.

COD: Mountain view or ocean view?

JC: I did the ocean-view thing for quite some time, so now it’s time for the mountain view.
COD: If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
JC: Going back in time would be a pretty cool superpower. I’d go back to 1873 as an 18-year-old when the Colt Single Action Revolver came out, so I could be quick on the draw.
COD: What are your hobbies, outside of what you are known for?
JC: I don’t consider myself a “hobbyist.” Everything I’ve done and everything I do defines my lifestyle. These days I ays think about being with my kids. It’s not a hobby, but that’s what I think about a lot. I love spending time with them.
COD: On a scale of 1-10, how confident are you in youralw ability to survive in a post-apocalyptic world (1= I’m dead on day one, 10 = king of the new world order).
JC: (Laughs) Let’s just say I’m prepared for the latter.

Friday, August 02, 2019

Finally, a Democrat worth supporting

By Brendan O'Neill
2 August 2019

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Tulsi Gabbard (AFP/Getty Images)
The liberal establishment is so scared of Tulsi Gabbard that they’ve convinced themselves she’s an unwitting stooge of Russia, being pushed by Putin’s evil online robots to destroy America from within.
Yes, in the febrile, conspiracist, Russian-bot-obsessed brains of the increasingly unhinged liberal elite, Ms Gabbard, the Democratic congresswoman for Hawaii and easily the most impressive 2020 presidential candidate, is the fave of those dastardly bots whose ultimate aim is to screw over the USA. Following this week’s Democratic candidates’ debate in Detroit, in which Gabbard made mincemeat of the California Democrat Kamala Harris on the issue of judicial authoritarianism, an actual New York Times writer said: ‘Beware the Russian bots and their promotion of Tulsi Gabbard and sowing racial discord, especially around Kamala Harris.’
This idea that Gabbard – the most principled critic of military interventionism to have emerged in the US mainstream in decades – is in the ascendant because Russian bots and other evil online forces are doing her bidding is becoming widespread among centrists.Newsweek columnist Seth Abramson says ‘there’s a concerted far-right effort (possibly involving foreign actors) to bolster Tulsi Gabbard’. He based this nuts claim on the fact that, during the Detroit debate, Ms Gabbard was the most-searched name online in every state in the US. Erm, isn’t it possible that viewers who weren’t entirely sure who Ms Gabbard is, but who were impressed by her articulate takedown of Harris and other candidates, took to the web to find out more? Surely that’s a more rational explanation than the idea that a Russian troll army and loads of fascists are on the web promoting Gabbard as chief wrecker of the United States.
It’s ceaseless. ‘Russia’s propaganda machine discovers 2020 Democratic candidate Tulsi Gabbard’, declares NBC News. What all this nonsense reveals is that Russophobic conspiracy theories play a really important role for dazed Hillary-era centrists. They are now the main means through which these people try to make sense of a political world that no longer conforms to their tastes or their ideology. So just as they used the Russian-bots rubbish to explain why Trump beat Hillary, now they use it to explain why a candidate who, horror of horrors, is opposed to US military intervention overseas is proving popular with viewers and voters. Given that Gabbard’s worldview runs so counter to theirs – on war, on free speech, even on identity politics – the only way they can explain her presence in politics is as a result of foreign, fascistic meddling. That tells us far more about their own political arrogance than it does about Gabbard’s Russian fanbase.
In a sense, they’re right to be scared of Gabbard. She feels like a genuinely fresh force in Democratic politics. A former soldier who served in Iraq, and now the Democratic member of the House of Representatives for the 2nd congressional district of Hawaii, she represents a challenge both to the old militaristic US establishment and to the newer, more woke wing of the establishment.

She is best known for her principled opposition to American militarism in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. ‘We were all lied to’, she said of the Iraq War in the Detroit debate. She described the spun stories about Saddam Hussein’s WMD and connections with al-Qaeda as a ‘betrayal of the American people’. Even more stingingly, she argues that far from defeating al-Qaeda in the post-9/11 period, the US has ended up backing al-Qaeda-derived forces, especially through its support for so-called ‘rebels’ in Syria who, as Gabbard rightly says, are in fact dangerous Islamist groups.
She gets a huge amount of flak for her anti-war stance. Establishment figures denounce her as an ‘Assad apologist’. She met with Bashar al-Assad during a fact-finding mission to Syria in 2017, and ever since she’s been called a friend of dictators by pro-militarist elements in the US. Kamala Harris, reeling from Gabbard’s attack on her authoritarian record as attorney general of California during this week’s debate, raised the Assad thing when the debate was over. And yet, as Gabbard has explained numerous times, she met Assad only because she wants to gather as much information as possible, from as many sources as possible, on how destructive the West’s ‘regime-change wars’ can be. Establishment stiffs simply fear the prospect of a president who would refuse to wage war overseas. ‘Tulsi Gabbard’s Syria record shows why she can’t be president’, sniffs the Washington Post.
If Gabbard horrifies the old warmongering elites, she worries, at least, the new woke elites. It is notable that unlike other young female political representatives, most notably the so-called ‘squad’, Gabbard is rarely cheered for her background. She was the first-ever Hindu and Samoan America to enter Congress. She’s the first Hindu to run for president. But you’ll be waiting a long time for the kind of people who never stop going on about the fact Ilhan Omar was one of the first two Muslim women to be elected to Congress to congratulate Gabbard on her identity achievements.
Not that Gabbard would want praise on that basis. Indeed, she’s a critic of both identity politics and political correctness, which is precisely why the woke are so iffy about her. She lists political correctness alongside overreaching government and Big Tech as one of the great threats to freedom of speech in 21st-century America. And she says of identity politics that it is ‘being used to kind of tear people apart’ when we should be ‘remembering and recognising what unites us’.
Her commitment to challenging PC and its strangling of open debate extends to criticising then president Barack Obama for his refusal to use the phrase ‘radical Islamic terrorism’. We should never cower from using the word Islamic in relation to Islamic terrorismbecause ‘it is important that you identify your enemy, you know who they are, you call them by their name, and you understand the ideology that’s driving them’, she said. Such moral clarity is rare in a time when politicians lamely insist that Islamist terrorism ‘has nothing to do with Islam’, as if such clipped, self-censoring utterances are ever going to solve anything.
Gabbard also dislikes Big Tech’s enforcement of PC speech codes online. Social-media giants have become a ‘threat to our freedom of speech’, she says. Their drowning-out, or outright banning, of both radical right and radical left voices is a threat to open debate, she says, and even ‘controversial’ and ‘distasteful’ views should enjoy freedom of expression.
Her anti-authoritarianism was on full display in her showdown with Kamala Harris this week. She dragged Harris for her record as Californian attorney general from 2011 to 2017. During that time, thousands of people were incarcerated for marijuana possession (and yet Harris effectively admitted that she herself has smoked dope), numerous people were kept in prison for unnecessarily long periods of time, and Harris withheld evidence that would have freed someone from death row. Gabbard’s confrontation with Harris won her many new fans and also helped to puncture the shallow identitarian cheering of Harris that has been happening on Twitter and elsewhere for the past few weeks.
Gabbard is a candidate worth supporting. She wants the US to reject identitarian division and ‘reclaim patriotism’, she wants an end to American wars, she likes freedom of speech, and she’s not afraid to call Islamist terrorism by its name. If I was American, I’d vote for her.

Thursday, August 01, 2019

Book Review: “Symbol or Substance?: A Dialogue on the Eucharist”

By Kaitlyn Facista
April 16, 2019

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Peter Kreeft’s The Philosophy of J.R.R. Tolkien has been one of my favorite resources in understanding the role Tolkien’s Catholic faith played in the shaping of Middle-earth, so I was incredibly pumped to learn of Kreeft’s latest book, Symbol or Substance?: A Dialogue on the Eucharist with C.S. Lewis, Billy Graham, and J.R.R. Tolkien. And it was incredible. 10/10 recommend.
Kreeft is the author of over a hundred books on Christian philosophy, apologetics, and theology. He’s written extensively on J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, and has taken great care in accurately recreating the voices and beliefs of each of the men represented in this book. If there’s anyone I trust to write this sort of dialogue, it’s Peter Kreeft.
Rather than presenting it as a scholarly work, Kreeft introduces the book as a “supposed” dialogue between Lewis, Graham, and Tolkien which focuses on the Eucharist but also addresses several other aspects of Christian belief and the differences between their traditions. The book addresses the question:What are the differences between these theologies, and do they matter? (Yes, they do.)
Kreeft explains in the introduction, “The following conversation is fictional. It never happened, at least not in this world. However, it very well could have… So the literary genre of this book is neither simply fiction or simply nonfiction. It is what C.S. Lewis called a “supposal"…”
So that’s the whole idea of it; it’s a style Kreeft is quite good with, and I thoroughly enjoyed it as a reader. I couldn’t help but imagine these three meeting for a pint in heaven as I read along.  
Drawing from various writings and a deep understanding of each viewpoint, Kreeft presents a dialogue which represents each of these men quite well, allowing readers to be a fly on the wall for this imagined conversation. The topic at hand is the question of the Eucharist: What is it? Is it truly the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ as Catholics claim? Is it merely a symbol? Or something in between?
While Kreeft himself is Catholic and mentions this in the introduction, I felt that he fairly represents the Anglican and Evangelical perspective expressed by Lewis and Graham. Having been raised in an Evangelical church and later converting to Catholicism, I was the least familiar with the Anglican perspective and I enjoyed learning about Lewis’ understanding of their theology.
This charitable conversation is not meant to be a debate and no one “wins” in the end, which felt incredibly refreshing when compared to the way most people speak to one another these days (particularly online). This sort of dialogue can serve as an example for all of us, in my opinion.
Apart from the Eucharist, Kreeft also briefly brings up the issues of Apostolic Succession, Sola Scriptura, Confession, infant baptism, the role of both faith and works in salvation; I thought these made nice additions to the conversation as a whole.
Their conversation flows well and there are bits of humor sprinkled in throughout, which made the book a light-hearted yet practical read. Tolkien also drags Lewis quite a bit for not converting all the way to Catholicism while also trying not to press the issue too hard, which felt very on-brand for their friendship.
The focus of this conversation leans more toward the purpose of understanding what one another believe, rather than trying to force their beliefs on each other—since, of course, that wouldn’t make any sense at all in the context of a supposed conversation.
In the end, readers will finish the book with a deeper understanding of the differences and similarities of these three branches of Christianity and feel well-equipped to go out and have conversations of their own. This is the sort of book I’d consider giving my Evangelical family members as well as my Catholic friends because of its charitable tone, well-researched talking points, and its connection to Tolkien and Lewis (and Graham, of course).

Why Didn't Anyone Tell Me, a Loathsome Millennial, That 'Frasier' Was So Good?

By Shane Ryan
July 29, 2019
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I’m 36 years old, which means I was 10 when Frasier first came on the air and 21 when it ended in 2004. I spent those formative years doing Millennial-type things, such as eating avocado toast, sneering, and skateboarding while neon lights sizzled in the air around me. And sure, I caught the odd Frasier episode on syndication here and there, but I had no concept of what the show was really like. My impression, vaguely held, was that at least half of the episodes revolved around Frasier having two dates at the same time in the same restaurant, and excusing himself to go to the “bathroom” frequently as he rushed back and forth between tables, trying to keep the women from suspecting that anything was amiss. That, no joke, is what I thought Frasier was all about. I would have called it “wacky.”
Why did I think this? Did I actually see that scene play out, at some point? Did I dream it?
No clue.
Turns out, I was very wrong. I have now watched the entire first season of Frasier on Netflix, 24 episodes strong, and I can tell you that the restaurant caper of my imagination is not the plot of a single episode. Maybe it comes up later, but I doubt it. The truth of this show has been revealed to me, and I am furious: Why didn’t any of you tell me it was so staggeringly good? You people, who are supposed to be my friends and family, let me go almost half of a standard male American lifetime completely IGNORANT of a comedic masterpiece.
Because that’s what is! Frasier is an absolute gem, the jokes are stingers, and the storytelling is mind-blowing when you consider the limitations of the 22-minute laugh track sitcom. The writers were clearly virtuosos, to the point that they even manage to tug at my frayed Millennial heartstrings. Point is, holy shit, Frasier really holds up.

I’ll get to the funny stuff, but first I want to talk about the heartstrings. One thing I absolutely hate about old sitcoms is the cheeseball morality you have to sit through, which is presented with all the subtlety of an After School Special written by Aaron Sorkin. That’s why Seinfeld was so great—it didn’t bother trying to uplift anyone. It was the kingdom of the selfish. But Frasier sometimes does bother with it, and what’s wild is that it’s actually good and meaningful.
Let me give you an example: In the Season One finale, called “My Coffee with Niles,” most of the drama hinges on a question Niles presents to Frasier early in the episode: “Are you happy?” It takes Frasier by surprise, and he turns it around on his younger brother, who’s ready with a quick response: “No, but we’re not talking about me.” Frasier won’t let it go, presses Niles as to why. The speech that follows doesn’t seem to belong in a 1990s sitcom:
“I was watching PBS the other night in my study and they were showing this documentary on the Great Depression. Vintage Steinbeck – desperately poor people escaping the Dust Bowl, their meager possessions strapped to rickety old trucks heading to what they thought was their salvation. Then there was this scene with this scruffy boy being handed a brand-new pair of shoes by the Salvation Army. Frasier, if you saw the look on that boy’s face…it was a look of pure and utter happiness. I have never experienced that kind of happiness, not in my whole life.”
Shit, man!
That one really got to me, and while they tried to take the air out of the moment with a joke about Niles’ $400 shoes in the next line, it wasn’t possible—Niles’ words were profound in a way that I’ve never seen in that format before, and they express so much about modern life and the nature of struggle with so few words. It was heartbreaking, actually, and a good reminder that David Hyde Pierce is more than just a brilliant comedic actor.
I’ve thought about that monologue ever since, but it’s not the only example. Throughout the first season, Frasier is constantly at odds with his father Martin, a retired cop who lives with him after a bullet to the hip ended his career. Niles is in a loveless marriage with his hypersensitive waif Maris (who, as Paste’s Keri Lumm pointed out, is the most inexpensive character of all-time, since we never see her), and is falling in love with Daphne, Martin’s live-in caretaker. Frasier’s radio producer, Roz, can’t find love, and his co-worker Bulldog is a wannabe alpha male whose insecurities are all the more painful when they shine through. And yes, everyone takes their shots at each other, and in some cases they are extremely hard shots, but these characters are more than two-dimensional punchline vehicles. Their problems and neuroses and heartaches are always treated with respect, and—warning, this will sound like some 20-year-old discovering jazz for the first time—it changed my opinion about exactly how profound a laugh track sitcom can be, at its best.
Oh, and it’s funny as hell. I also didn’t expect that. I have to admit, my own personal prejudice was that really funny TV shows, by which I mean the kind that can make a depraved idiot like me laugh out loud, started with Seinfeld but mostly came after the turn of the century. This is a kind of blind snobbery, I get that, and I invite you to judge away. But I’m saying, I did not expect Frasier.
I’m about to hit you with a couple examples now, though I would issue the disclaimer that nothing looks quite as funny on paper, and a lot of the humor is wrapped up in the performances.
Anyway, the line I found the funniest came when Niles joined Frasier on his radio show to speak on the theme of siblings. A woman called in and remembered the time she got a terrible haircut, was forced to shave her head, and expected her sisters to mock her ruthlessly. Instead, they shaved their own heads in solidarity. The Crane brothers are moved, and it leads to this exchange:
Frasier: Niles, I would shave my head for you.
Niles: A gesture which becomes less significant with each passing year.
Have you ever heard a better bald joke??!! Have you???
At another point, after Frasier agrees to go on a motor home road trip with Martin, he begins to have regrets. Niles tells him to back out, but Frasier knows he can’t:
Frasier: Oh, I can’t do that. He’s counting on this trip too much. It was his dream. He was going to go on this trip with mom.
Niles: Yes, but she lucked out and died.
There are great one-liners too, emerging in particular each time Niles refers to one of the therapy groups he runs. For instance:
“I’m conducting a seminar on multiple personalities and it takes forever to fill out the name tags.”
“I’m due at my sexual addiction group, and I don’t like to leave them alone too long.”
“I have my ‘fear of abandonment’ workshop today and I’ve already been a no-show twice.”
Frasier: I filled in for you when you were too sick to meet with your “Fear of Intimacy” group!
Niles: I wasn’t sick. They were just getting too close.
And the performances! They’re all top-notch, but I didn’t quite realize how obscenely funny both Kelsey Grammer and David Hyde Pierce were. Grammer alone is one of those men who can convey six emotions at once using only a single facial expression, and all of them end up being hilarious. And Pierce—who, as you see above, gets many of the best lines—is just magnificent as the prissy, perpetually wounded Niles. That’s not to throw shade on any of the supporting actors, but those two, together, are just a walking (mincing?) tour de force.
Even the conceit of the show is a well-placed joke. Frasier, in my unprofessional opinion, is a godawful shrink. Psychotherapy by radio is already a fraught concept—Niles correctly calls it “psychiatry’s answer to the drive-through window”—but even by that standard, his advice to callers is either dismissive or glib. If you were a fictional character with mental health problems, the only worse shrink you could find is Dr. Hannibal Lecter. And the writers know it, to an extent. Sure, they give Frasier his moments, but they never go easy on the idea that he plies his trade on the radio and cares more about celebrity and status than helping his “patients.”
And, he and Niles are inveterate snobs. One of the most painful episodes came when they took Martin to one of his favorite restaurants, a homey steak joint, and proceeded to mock everything around them until their father left in disgust. It’s not that they lack heart, but unless someone calls them out, they’re totally blind to their own pretensions in ways that can be galling or hysterical, depending on the situation. With Frasier, especially, I found myself going back and forth between wanting to be his friend and wanting to see him get punched.
But it works! Their flaws are not just hinted at, but often exposed, and the process of trying to be good people is not easy for them. There, too, the show excels in its honest treatment of middle-aged, nearly modern men.
There’s also a mandatory warning to convey, re: the era—to enjoy this, you’re going to have look past some problematic material. Niles is always leering at Daphne, or trying to touch her, or trying to get her to touch him. Frasier forces Roz to hug him against her will at one point; Roz also gets slut-shamed by everyone, all the time. The worst moment, though, came when Frasier was deliberating about whether to do a promo for a Chinese restaurant—would it destroy his integrity?—and Bulldog steps in to do the job. He uses the most racist accent ever, and finishes by hitting a gong, all of which could be a commentary on Bulldog himself, at a stretch…except that the laugh track people choose that moment to employ the “breathless laughter followed by ecstatic applause” button. So, you know…judge it for its time, and all that.
For the most part, though, Frasier was well ahead of its time, and that’s why it still hits so hard today. It’s the humor, yes, but it’s also the humanity. There aren’t many shows that can pull them off simultaneously, as in this moment when Frasier recalls waking up on his couch to find his father rubbing his head in a rare gesture of affection:
Niles: Dad?! Did he say anything?
Frasier: Well, he said, “don’t you think it’s time you got a hair cut, you’re starting to look like bozo!” I know he was only covering though. But what do you think?
Niles: Probably wouldn’t hurt to get a trim.
And while the writers clearly mastered the humor, it’s their patience and comfort in the humanity that really makes the show timeless. And ask yourself this: How many sitcoms, for their first ever season finale, would have the courage to hinge the entire episode on that singular, fundamental, and awful question: “Are you happy?”
Shane Ryan is the Politics editor at Paste. Follow him on Twitter here:””.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Donald Trump at the Overton Window

July 30, 2019

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President Donald Trump and Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland)

I shall leave it to the theologians to decide whether it is providential or merely coincidental that it was this very week in 1729, on Tuesday in fact, that the city of Baltimore was founded. I think we can say that, for the genus rattus, the city has been providential, at least since 1967. That was the year Thomas D’Alesandro III—the brother of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (and son of Thomas D’Alesandro, Jr., a former mayor of Baltimore)—began the city’s 50-plus years of uninterrupted Democratic Party rule. (If you except the younger Mr. D’Alesandro’s immediate predecessor, you can push the run of Democratic mayors of Baltimore all the way back to 1947.)
Things have been good for the rats in Baltimore. For homo sapiens sapiens? Not so good. Drugs. Violence. Poverty. Squalor. “The Wire” was more documentary than fiction.
But rats have, as the book of Genesis recommended, been fruitful. Also, they have multiplied. Quoth Catherine Pugh, mayor of Baltimore until just a couple of months ago, when she stepped down because of charges of corruption, rats were so plentiful in Baltimore that “you could smell them.”
But that was in September of last year, before Donald Trump turned his gimlet eye on Baltimore, a city that has suffered not only from more than half a century of local Democratic control but also from nearly 25 years of representation by Elijah Cummings, a race-hustling confidence man right out of central casting.
Over the weekend, the president opened up on “King Elijah” in a series of tweets. “Baltimore, under the leadership of Elijah Cummings,” he wrote in one, “has the worst Crime Statistics in the Nation. 25 years of all talk, no action! So tired of listening to the same old Bull . . . Next, Reverend Al will show up to complain & protest. Nothing will get done for the people in need. Sad.”
The president continued: “Baltimore’s numbers are the worst in the United States on Crime and the Economy. Billions of dollars have been pumped in over the years, but to no avail. The money was stolen or wasted. Ask Elijah Cummings where it went. He should investigate himself with his Oversight Committee!”
In short, Baltimore was “a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess.”
It was one thing when Christine Pugh dilated on the rodent theme in 2018.
It is quite another when Donald Trump does it in 2019.
The cries of “racism” came fast and furious against the president, from, among many others, the Rev. Al Sharpton. (I always love writing “the Rev. Al Sharpton”: the incongruity is positively giggle-making.)
That did not faze the president, who promptly repeated and broadened his attack. “There is nothing racist in stating plainly what most people already know,” he wrote, “that Elijah Cummings has done a terrible job for the people of his district, and of Baltimore itself. Dems always play the race card when they are unable to win with facts. Shame!” And then there was this on Sharpton: “I have known Al for 25 years. Went to fights with him & Don King, always got along well. He ‘loved Trump!’ He would ask me for favors often. Al is a con man, a troublemaker, always looking for a score. Just doing his thing. Must have intimidated Comcast/NBC. Hates Whites & Cops!”
Politico, along with the rest of the virtue-signaling, chest-less media, sobbed in impotent disbelief. “President Donald Trump on Monday opened new fronts in the bitter tirade he launched over the weekend against Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings and the city of Baltimore, lobbing insults at civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.”
You know that the president’s observation was impermissible because Politico called it “bitter,” which ever since Obama’s “bitter clingers” remark has been code for “right-wing redneck.” But the best thing aboutPolitico’s little melodrama was its description of Sharpton as a “civil rights leader.”
What Al Sharpton really is, as the president noted, is a “con man,” a race-hustling mountebank. Thomas Sowell was less polite but more accurate when he said that Sharpton headed “a trail of slime going back more than a quarter of a century, during which he has whipped up mobs and fomented race hatred from the days of the Tawana Brawley ‘rape’ hoax of 1987 to the Duke ‘rape’ hoax of 2006 and the Ferguson riots of 2014.”
Exactly so.
I suspect that those who see an element of calculation in the president’s tweets about Baltimore, Cummings, and Sharpton are correct. As Monica Showalter noted at The American Thinker, the president has just dramatized a real problem and made the Democrats, and their enablers in the media, defend the indefensible, just as he did with his comments a couple of weeks ago about the racist, anti-Semitic, and anti-American tetrarchy of “the squad.” President Trump, Showalter noted, is “now forcing Democrats to own the urban shambles and filth that characterize one-party blue-city rule, putting all Democrats on their backfoot. That’s what’s behind his surprise Twitter assault that began with Rep. Elijah Cummings and his rat-infested Baltimore district, which pretty much came out of the blue.”
I think that’s probably correct. But there are a few larger issues at play in this episode.
One was articulated several decades ago by the philosopher Sidney Hook, who, writing about the danger of spurious charges of “racism” and kindred epithets, noted
as morally offensive as is the expression of racism wherever it is found, a false charge of racism is equally offensive, perhaps even more so, because the consequences of a false charge of racism enable an authentic racist to conceal his racism by exploiting the loose way the term is used to cover up his actions. The same is true of a false charge of sexism or anti-Semitism. This is the lesson we should all have learned from the days of Senator Joseph McCarthy. Because of his false and irresponsible charges of communism against liberals, socialists, and others among his critics, many communists and agents of communist influence sought to pass themselves off as Jeffersonian democrats or merely idealistic reformers. They would all complain they were victims of red-baiting to prevent criticism and exposure. [Emphasis added.]
You see the dynamic Hook outlined at work everywhere today, not least in the ridiculous charges that Donald Trump is racist because he attacks people who do bad things who also happen to be black.
Their color has nothing to do with his criticisms. Trump attacks “the squad” not because they are female or “people of color,” but because the are anti-American fanatics. He attacks Elijah Cummings not because he is black but because he is a corrupt pol who has done ill by his district. He attacks Sharpton not because he is black but because he is a race-baiting con-man.
Donald Trump is an equal opportunity scourge. He doesn’t care if you are black or white, male or female, if you behave badly and violate the public trust, he will call you out, baldly. And note this above all: If you attack him, he will attack you back. As Brit Hume pointed out recently, “People discerning a racist motive for Trump’s attack on Elijah Cummings are missing a key point: Trump attacks those who criticize him and his administration, black or white.” Hume follows up with an amusing and color-coordinated list of people Trump has put in their place (Bernie Sanders: crazy, Elizabeth Warren: total fraud, Justin Amash: loser, Joe Biden: low IQ, Harry Reid: insane, etc., etc.).
Beyond the elements of political calculation and polemical style, however, Donald Trump’s recent tweet fests suggest that he may be on the threshold of shifting the Overton Window on race.
Named for the policy analyst Joseph Overton, the famous fenestration describes the range of ideas and rhetoric that are acceptable in public discourse, from the unthinkable and radical at one end to popular ideas and settled policy at the other.
Public discourse in America has long been held hostage to a species of racist moral blackmail that has made it almost impossible to tell the truth about many central social realities. Trump opened the window on that paralyzing darkness when he dared to violate the taboo against criticizing failure when it happened to be presided over by blacks. But to do so is not racist. In fact, it is anti-racist, because it dares to hold everyone, blacks as well as whites, to the same standard.
The ethic of one-sided discriminatory intimidation has been the Democrats’ meal ticket from Jim Crow through the comically misnamed “Great Society” right down to our current crop of race hustlers like Elijah Cummings, Al Sharpton, Maxine Waters, not to mention the hundreds of academics who have based their entire careers on race, not scholarship.
Trump was elected partly because he was “politically incorrect”: he dared to bring the engine of common sense to bear against the malodorous carapace of left-wing ideology.
The president has a long way to go. But he has been the first chief executive in a very long time to have the rough courage to challenge the entrenched, sclerotic establishment that promulgates an agenda of dependency in order to protect its power and perquisites, surrounding the whole with the sleepless sentinels of politically correct interdiction.
It is a rotten, and a deeply un-American, spirit that has risen up among us. Donald Trump will not vanquish it single-handedly. But simply by tearing the scab off this festering infection, revealing it to all in its hideous profusion, he has earned the gratitude of everyone who values liberty and the boundless opportunities of what we used to be able to call, without embarrassment, the American way.

Equality Act could create major problems for women’s sports

By John Steigerwald
July 28, 2019

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Andraya Yearwood claimed gold in the 100m and 200m in the 2017 Connecticut state championships

Do you have a daughter, granddaughter or niece who plays a sport in high school or college?
If so, you might want to think about contacting your congressperson and ask about the Equality Act. Especially if that congressperson is a Democrat. That party voted unanimously to pass the Equality Act in May. Only eight Republicans voted for it.
The law would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other civil rights laws to include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected characteristics.
That means public schools would be forced to allow biological males, who identify as females, to play for female sports teams.
That’s dumb enough, but the people who voted for the bill, when asked about its affect on women in sports, dismissed it as an issue.
Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar said, “The myth that trans women have a direct competitive advantage is not supported by science, and it continues to stoke fear and violence at one of the most at-risk communities in the world.”
You would think nobody with a brain or who has ever paid attention to sports would believe that, but here’s Jerry Nadler from New York: “Arguments about transgender athletes participating in sports in accordance with their gender identity having competitive advantages have not been borne out.”
You’ve probably heard about the many cases of biological males breaking women’s records in high school and college track and other sports.
No honest person who knows anything about sports would deny biological males have an advantage.
And you wouldn’t think it would take a scientific study to prove it to any honest person, but a pretty impressive one was just published by The Journal of Medical Ethics.
“Trans women in Elite Sport: Scientific and Ethical Considerations” didn’t just conclude that biological males, who identify as women, have an advantage over females. It says they have an “intolerable” advantage.
Kind of interesting that the Equality Act, which is supposed to be all about tolerance, would create something intolerable for women, isn’t it?
And suppressing the testosterone in the men doesn’t help.
The NCAA and the International Olympic Committee have rules in place to allow biological males to compete against women if they suppress their testosterone levels through hormone therapy over a period of time.
The study says nice try.
“… Hormone therapy will not alter bone structure, lung volume or heart size of the trans woman athlete, especially if she transitions post puberty, so natural advantages including joint articulation, stroke volume and maximal oxygen uptake will be maintained.”
In other words, what has always been a dumb idea has now been declared a dumb idea, and it won’t be made any smarter by enforcing the stupidity with a law.
I’ve tried repeatedly to contact local Democrat Congressmen Conor Lamb and Mike Doyle to get them to justify their support of a law that would force the daughters of their constituents to compete against men. Neither would agree to an interview.
When I asked for a written statement on the issue, there was no response from Lamb. Doyle’s assistant responded by saying Doyle has no statement.
Gutsy, eh?
You know what’s scary?
The study, which was conducted by two bioethics professors and a physiology professor — all women — concluded the solution is to eliminate the concept of men’s and women’s sports instead of excluding biological males who identify as women.
That, of course, would lead to what many, who have acknowledged the insanity of men competing against women from the beginning, have warned against: the ruination, if not the end of women’s sports.
So was the idea of men competing against women, not that long ago.
John Steigerwald is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.