Tuesday, January 28, 2020

My Biggest Pet Peeve

So about that CNN clip that's lighting up Twitter...

I'm not surprised that Lemon and his guests thought it was appropriate to mock Trump supporters in the way that they did. I've been encountering that sort of arrogance from the left for years -- an arrogance that's thoroughly unjustified.

Leftists often point to the port-side tilt of folks with advanced degrees as proof - proof, I say! - that leftism in general is S-M-R-T. But of course, we all know that our post-secondary education system is profoundly biased -- that, in fact, there are whole departments at many schools that boast not a single conservative faculty member. Do you really think that much ideological uniformity ultimately leads to fair outcomes for right-leaning students who are thinking of pursuing graduate studies? Do you really think right-leaning students aren't, in fact, self-selecting out of academia precisely because of how hostile universities are for anyone who doesn't hew to a certain sort of leftist groupthink?

I have also had leftists swear to me that the better average test scores of blue states like Massachusetts are an indication that leftism is more intelligent. But of course, this only betrays their inability to understand how statistics and comparable populations work. Yes, the southern states have lower average scores -- but if you take into account the greater economic and ethnic diversity of those southern states, the picture completely flips. Years ago, I took a look at how Virginia was doing group-by-group on the NAEP compared to Wisconsin (because, at the time, the leftists I knew were all fired up and ready to defend the antics of Wisconsin's teachers union), and I discovered that Virginia outperformed Wisconsin when it came to educating black students, Hispanic students, students who spoke English as a second language, etc. -- but because we had more of those students, our overall average was lower. The upshot? Whole-state comparisons are utterly useless. But guys, guys: leftists are so smart!

But let's say we grant that, as a group, leftists have a higher mean IQ. That turns out not to mean much either if you look at the relevant research. In reality, our political opinions are generally influenced more by our personality profiles and our lizard brains than by our conscious minds. Jonathan Haidt, for instance, has accurately described human beings as little riders (our rational selves) who refuse to recognize that they're sitting on massive elephants (our irrational instincts) -- elephants that, in actuality, drive most of the decision-making. So if some humans have higher IQ's, that only means that they are better able to articulate persuasive rationalizations for their elephants' snap judgments -- not that their decisions are inherently better.

Additionally, a greater facility for book larnin' does not translate into greater wisdom -- the thing you really need in a country's leaders. In order to rule, you have to understand your fellow man at a fundamental level. What makes him healthy? What makes him happy? How do we maximize his flourishing? As clever as Lemon and his ilk think they are, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that they do not know the correct answers to any of these questions. They know lots of trivia, perhaps, but they simply don't grok how people really work. (If they did, would they have felt free to be dickheads on national television? Would they have failed to recognize that giggling at the supposedly ignorant commoners would give excellent ad fodder to the Trump campaign?)

Leftists' tendency to view their opponents as dummies is my biggest pet peeve. I went to two top-tier universities, I have a genius IQ, and I have mentored students who have gone on to top-tier universities themselves thanks in part to my instruction. I, however, do no believe my book smarts and credentials make me well-suited to control others. No: I think The Simpsons had it right many years ago in that episode in which all the brainy Springfield residents turn out to suck ass at being in charge.

So simmer the hell down, Mr. Lemon, and learn some freakin' humility. Otherwise, you'll make Trump's reelection just that much easier to achieve.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Let's Hear It for This Hero Dad

It's not that I don't feel sorry for the kids who were scammed into going to college despite their manifest lack of academic preparation or clear career goals -- but college loan forgiveness is a terrible idea. As the dad in the clip above points out, such a plan would punish those who made sound financial choices for the sake of those who didn't. And yes, as the Fox commentators point out, it's also deeply regressive in general; essentially, loan forgiveness takes money from working class folks who didn't go to college and funnels it to bourgie schools with (in many cases) multi-million dollar endowments. No: Ms. Warren and her ideological compatriots are completely wrong on this issue, and I'm glad someone had the balls to make that plain.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

The Most Peaceful Riot Ever

BLUF - Second Amendment defenders didn't deserve to be smeared ahead of Virginia's Lobby Day. Governor Blackface owes us an apology.

Prior to yesterday's pro-gun rights demonstration in Richmond, the usual suspects in the media were spreading feverish, delusional rumors that our state capital was about to be overrun by white supremacist militias. Clearly, these so-called "journalists" were laying the groundwork for a Charlottesville 2.0 narrative -- paranoia the governor quickly legitimized by announcing a "state of emergency" designed to disarm any protester who made an appearance.

Oops. Turns out the "riot" was a giant nothingburger. Roughly 22,000 people showed up, and based on the reporting of those on the ground, there were no Nazis and no violent altercations -- despite the fact that, yes, many demonstrators were armed. Indeed, these supposedly dangerous protesters came with - brace for it - assault trash bags to pick up after themselves at the end of the rally. The horror! 

As it turns out, we lawful gun owners are generally peaceful and compassionate citizens who simply value our ability to protect others when the police cannot. All memes aside, we don't actually want a boogaloo. We hope that the oft-stated theoretical reason for the Second Amendment - to protect our natural rights when we are denied recourse via the soap box and the ballot box - will never become relevant. And it won't so long as our state legislators listen to the concerns expressed by the dozens of county governments that have passed gun sanctuary resolutions in the past few months.

(Oh, and by the way: Folks of all sorts turned out to defend the 2A. Gun rights as a white supremacist dog whistle? Oh, please! Tell that to the guys wearing the "Black Guns Matter" shirts -- or the people waving the rainbow flags. Many who aren't "straight, white cis-men" understand that a gun is an excellent equalizing tool; I have a Facebook connection with a trans woman who offers gun education to members of the LGBT+ community for precisely this reason. No matter who you are, if you have a gun, you're less likely to be a victim.)

The party lean of our statehouse might've flipped, but that doesn't mean Virginia Democrats have a mandate to radicalize. No: we are still a southern state. I live in urbanized Northern Virginia currently, but I can get in my car right now, drive to my south or southwest, and within an hour, I'll find open countryside. And wherever there's open countryside, there's an established gun culture. If your goal is to govern the whole state, you can't discount those who live outside the urban clusters -- or, at the very least, you can't do so without generating a groundswell of potentially damaging resentment. New York and California should not be the examples Virginia follows. 

BLATE - Don't believe the media lies about the gun rights movement. The governor had no justification for calling a "state of emergency" -- and if he wishes to regain even a little respect, he should call for moderation within his own party and can the threats.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

What Happened to WWIII?

BLUF - The panic over Iran appears to have been overblown.

When the Trump administration ordered the strike on Quasem Solemaini a million years ago in internet time, Twitter lit up with terrified leftists screaming that Bad Orange Man was starting WWIII and they were all about to be forcibly drafted.

So quick question: What happened to WWIII? What I've seen so far is some impotent, incompetent saber rattling on the part of our Persian opponent and not much else.

Perhaps it's too soon to declare Trump's measured, proportional response to Iran's sponsorship of terrorism a complete success, but the signs are certainly encouraging. Protesters are turning out on Iran's streets to voice their longstanding displeasure with the current theocracy, and Iranians are taking to Twitter to inform ignorant Americans that Solemaini was a bad dude who wasn't much liked in his own country either. Could there be regime change without our getting involved in another costly quagmire? What a foreign policy coup that would be!

Trump may in fact be right once again. Time will tell. Of course, his opposition is utterly unprepared to accept that possibility -- to the point that they've been making excuses for the Iranian government. "Of course they shot down that civilian airplane! Bad Orange Man provoked them!" Because naturally, history started the day Trump took office, making Trump, therefore, the prime mover for everything that happens in the world. It's not possible that Iran is the actual guilty party in this tit-for-tat.

And hilariously, International ANSWER has returned. When Obama was ordering drone strikes in South Asia, that outfit mysteriously disappeared -- but now, magically, they're back! How strange! It's almost like those folks have no principles whatsoever. But given that they're documented unapologetic Stalinists who love North Korea, maybe I shouldn't be surprised. Anything to support America's enemies, right?

BLATE - Trump's policy on Iran has yet to result in disaster. Maybe we should calm the hell down and resist the urge to side with bad actors just to prove our anti-Trump bona fides.

Friday, January 10, 2020

This Blog's Author Has Passed Away

Just after Christmas, the original writer of this blog passed away peacefully in his sleep due to complications of neurosarcoidosis. Below is the text of the eulogy that was delivered by his son at his viewing:

We’re gathered here to celebrate the life of love and service of my father, Robert (or "Spike"). His career was as a Navy Submariner, but his vocation was at home with his wife of 41 years, Charlotte, and his two children, Stooch and Mooch. His family was always his north star, even as a child.

You see, Spike had the benefit of two loving parents, two sisters, a brother, and countless cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents – a close-knit band of mainly working-class Irish Catholics. Multiple generations of [his family] grew up in the row houses of Ambler, PA, and played by the asbestos slag piles across the railroad tracks. He told us stories of licking the sugar-lined waste pipe behind a candy factory, doing 65 mph around a blind downhill curve on his bike with his cousins, orienteering and camping as an Eagle Scout, and blurting out, “You see, Penny…” in the middle of reading time in school.

He was a fierce protector of the innocent and the vulnerable. Penny remembers him defending her from bullies during their summers at Mermaid Lake. BJ tells stories about Spike sitting with his brother Brad for hours when he was ill. And I will always remember him going to war with doctors who weren’t taking Mom’s care seriously and going to bat for us in the PTA.

So strong was his love of family that, when Spike enrolled at the Navy Academy – class of ’77 – he was on a mission. He was looking for a wife, not merely a good time or a job. And find her, he did. God gifted him with a chance to find his soulmate when the Naval Academy welcomed its first class of women in 1976 and Charlotte joined the Masqueraders to get out of afternoon PT.

My Dad always used to say, “The key to a happy marriage is to marry a saint.” But I think his life proves that isn’t enough. He embodied the true meaning of Catholic romantic love. As Paul said to the Ephesians, he loved his wife just as Christ loved the Church. He imparted his view of marriage on both me and my sister whenever he got the chance. He had a dozen colorful sayings he repeated again and again. He often said, “whatever Mom wants,” when we were making a family decision. When I got in a fight with my wife Juliet, he’d say, “Matt, when you argue with your wife and it turns out you’re right, apologize at once.” He echoed Robert Heinlein’s sentiment when he advised us to have a budget, but budget for luxuries first. Mom has the jewelry and Lladro collection to prove he meant it – and I have the memories of a dozen family vacations to hold onto now that he’s gone.

He was devoted to family, but he was also devoted to country and to God. He served for over twenty years in the nuclear Navy and, though it took him away from home for months at a time, he was proud to keep America safe. He was a patriot to the end and spent his later years battling the decline of American values in the culture. His extensive network of friends from sci-fi [fandom] and Liberty Con can attest to that.

Spike loved real life, but he also loved the worlds he found on the pages of the endless piles of books he read. He cut his teeth on Perry Mason and the Hardy Boys and came to love Sue Grafton, but his first love was golden-age science fiction and fantasy. He was formed in his philosophy by Heinlein, Niven, Pournelle, Asimov, Clarke, Tolkien, and Card -- among others. He passed his love of the genre to both of his kids and it has filled our hearts with a hope for our future and a love of man’s potential.

When my Dad was ten years old, he helped his father build a family home in Blue Bell, PA. That house still stands, strong as ever. Spike dreamed of building his own family home someday. His final gift to Charlotte and her children now stands nearly complete in Amissville, VA, at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains. When I look ahead to move-in day, his absence is almost unbearable.

Dad, you were taken from us too soon. You used to joke that you raised a couple of good kids but had no idea how. I can tell you how – the Holy Spirit came with you, brought you back to the Church, filled you with an undying love for your family, and, we pray, is now taking you home to be with your brother, mother, and father. We’ll miss you.

Now allow me to introduce myself: I'm Stephanie, this gentleman's daughter. I intend to take up Dad's baton and continue this blog's conservative political commentary. Currently, I maintain a blog here that is primarily devoted to fannish, geeky stuff -- but if you check out the posts here and here, you'll get a good sense of my worldview. I hope I can continue to entertain the readers of this blog!