Friday, October 20, 2017

Soviets in Democrats' Clothing

How many times, my friends, have you been in a conversation where one of the notions put forth, or an opinion that might take a more-creative mind to pose, is put down with a sneering "You're nuts!", or "You're crazy!" or some variant of the proposition that the speaker is psychotic.  I would certainly like to have a buck for every time I've been responded to that way, or responded myself that way.

Yes, I'd like a buck for every such time.  Or maybe ... a ruble.

It is a sad attribute of dictatorships that their number-one goal is to sustain their power.  Lenin, Stalin, Khaddafi, Saddam, Assad, U.S. congressmen, to some degree their first priority was and is to negate any challenges to their power.

The Soviets, right up until the time of Mikhail Gorbachev, held rock-solid power over the Soviet Union and its satellites.  Uprising in Hungary?  Tanks.  Uprising in Whocareswhereistan?  Tanks.  But there have always been opponents, and the good old Soviet Union has always had a go-to tactic for its internal opposition, particularly political ones.  A very familiar one.

"You're crazy!  Off to the psych ward."

Familiar?  Of course.  The Soviets were famous for their characterization of their dissidents as nuts, and putting them in psychiatric wards and mental hospitals ("psikhushkas").  It was the easiest way to get them out of the public eye without actually killing them -- not that plenty weren't murdered.  I knew they were doing that when I was a kid, we all did.  The Russians were not particularly creative in how they got rid of their opposition.

It is so familiar to me, that when my brother (credit where credit is due) pointed out to me this week that the Democrats were doing the same thing, and that I needed to address it in a column, it rang a loud bell.

Yes, the left is taking a page from their leftist predecessors in the old Soviet Union.  I give you Exhibit A, their treatment of President Trump.

Now, the president is many things.  He is a very different national leader from what we are used to the previous 228 years or so.  He does not suffer fools gladly, and he does not accept as inevitable the intransigence of the Senate in passing actual legislation.  He does not accept the as-is in Washington, the Deep State, the leadership-by-tenure rather than leadership-by-competence mentality.

In other words, he does not accept how power is apportioned in the Government, and particularly the inertia that goes along with that.  That makes him a challenge to the entrenched status quo.  And particularly the Democrats, to whom he is the biggest threat (principally because his victory in 2016 tapped into voter unrest), cannot tolerate his presidency.

So they have taken a page from the Soviets' book, of all people.

Let us look at the Democrats' approach, as exemplified by the whole 25th Amendment nonsense that has roiled the Fake Media this week.  Sure enough, they are calling the president crazy and mentally ill, and are trying to establish that "diagnosis" as the reality by shoving it through their willing accomplices in the media.

Donald Trump is perfectly sane and they know it.  What he is, and they know this too, is a threat to their power.  Now the left has no governmental power except for the Deep State (and that is a big "except").  But they do have the media, and they are willing to do anything, even Soviet-style tactics, to try to weaken their biggest opponent.  So they will continue the mental-illness narrative as long as they can, no matter how silly it may be.

We need to continue to call out the left for their lack of principles and their lack of workable ideas.  But we also need to call them out when they have to resort to mimicking the tactics of the Kremlin.

That is as pathetic as their idea.

Copyright 2017 by Robert Sutton
Like what you read here?  There's a new post from Bob at www.uberthoughtsUSA.com at 10am Eastern time, every weekday, giving new meaning to "prolific essayist."  Appearance, advertising, sponsorship and interview inquiries cheerfully welcomed at bsutton@alum.mit.edu or on Twitter at @rmosutton.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Guest Column: Girls in Boy Scouts

Today's guest column is by invitation.  Ed Fenstermacher, an MIT classmate of mine who has several guest columns to his credit here the past few years, has been a very active leader in scouting activities.  Accordingly, when the news broke of the Boy Scouts' decision to introduce programs for girls, I asked Ed, as an expert in Scouting, to comment.
                                                _ _ _

As a long-time adult leader in the Boy Scouts of America, I was surprised by the news that we would admit girls to the Cub Scouting program in 2018, and older girls to BSA “with a path to Eagle Scout” by 2019.  Unlike every media outlet I have heard from, and certainly unlike GSUSA, for me it was a pleasant surprise.  Let me explain why.

Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are both quality youth programs.  They both have an active outdoor program that promotes camping.  They both promote good moral values, many of which you do not get from, for instance, sports programs.  But Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are structured differently, and have different emphases.  My wife has been active as a Girl Scout leader for even longer than I’ve been a Boy Scout leader, and we contribute to both organizations financially.
 
Boy Scouts has the Cub Scout program for elementary school youth, and the Boy Scout program for middle and high school youth.  In addition, the Boy Scouts has the Exploring program, the Venturing program, and the Sea Scouts program.  All of those programs are open to youth from age 14 up, and all already admit girls.  If memory serves, Exploring was admitting girls when I joined in 1965.  This is nothing new.  Girls have been members of BSA for decades. 
 
Usually, when a boy joins a troop, he will be in the same troop as long as he stays in Boy Scouts, will learn from the older boys as well as adults, and grow to be a leader himself.  A boy progresses from Scout to Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life and Eagle, each building on the one before.  You cannot earn Eagle Scout without earning all the lower ranks.  Also, starting with Star, each rank requires several months of service in one of a list of leadership positions, all of which require planning and working with other scouts, usually younger scouts for whom they are expected to direct, teach, and set an example for.  In an ideal troop, most of the leading is done by boys, not adults.  Each rank promotion requires a Board of Review, where three to six adults sit with the Scout and review his progress.
 
Girl Scouts is organized more along grade-level lines, starting with Daisies (K-1), and moving to Brownies (2-3), Juniors (4-5), Cadettes (6-8), Seniors (9-10), and Ambassadors (11-12).  The programs at each level are distinct; certain awards may be earned only at certain levels.  The highest award, the Gold Award, is earned only by Seniors and Ambassadors, and they are not required to have earned the Silver Award as a Cadette.  Most leadership in Girl Scouts is from the adults, although leadership is required for Silver Award and Gold Award projects.
 
Both the Gold Award and Eagle Scout Rank require a project, but again the requirements are different.  They are both difficult and time-consuming.  Some projects would meet the requirements of either program, but many that would meet the Gold Award requirements would not meet Eagle Scout requirements, and vice-versa.  The Gold Award Project has defined service hour requirements, the Eagle Service Leadership Project does not, but it does require supervision of other persons.  There are other differences in emphasis on the projects.
 
The Eagle Scout Rank has other requirements as well.  In addition to the skills learned for the lower ranks, it requires earning 21 merit badges, 10 required of all Eagle Scouts, and three with a short list of options (e.g., swimming or hiking or cycling).  Merit badges required for Eagle include First Aid, Personal Fitness, Personal Management, Camping, and four involving Citizenship.  Many of the required badges require a significant level of effort.
 
There are many girls who are well served by the Girl Scouts, and for whom that program meets all of their needs.  There are others who may be better off, and get more out of, a program structured like Boy Scouts.  Only the girls and their families can make the decision as to which is best for a given girl, but I think that, in a country of 325 million individuals, we should be free to choose the best program for each child.
 
Let me dispel a couple misconceptions before I close.  It was already announced that for Cub Scouts, each den will be all boys or all girls, and the Cub Scout Packs will be able to choose to be all boys, all girls, or have dens (the smaller groups) of each.  While the announcement did not include details for the program for older girls, it can be expected to follow the same pattern.  I expect there will always be all-boy units, but there may also be mixed and all girl units.  There are already Explorer Posts and Venture Crews that are all female.  In one notable case, the same group of girls was registered both as an Explorer Post and a Girl Scout troop so they could maximize the number of events they could participate in.  For several years, in the winter camping Klondike Derby in our District, that Post won the best unit competition.
 
Also, as a result of the abuse incidents which occurred in the past, BSA has implemented a very strong Youth Protection programs, in which every adult who works with a youth must be trained every two years, and adhere to.  I can say for certain that, however things are implemented, boys and girls will not be sharing tents, etc.  That is a non-starter for all concerned, no matter what you have heard through the media.
 
On a survey I filled out last year about my thoughts as a Boy Scout Leader, I was asked about what I would change.  I thought about the fact that there was no aspect of learning and living by the Scout Oath and Law, no camping skill, no first aid skill, nor merit badge knowledge, that would not be just as valuable in the life of a girl as in the life of a boy, and I wrote, “We should admit girls, and allow them to earn Eagle.”  I believed it then, and still do.
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Ed Fenstermacher has been an adult leader in BSA for over a quarter of a century, serving as a Den Leader, Cubmaster, Scoutmaster, Unit Commissioner, Merit Badge Counselor, and currently as a District Eagle Advisor.  He is the father of a daughter who earned the Girl Scout Gold Award, and two sons who are Eagle Scouts.  A dozen scouts have earned Eagle on his watch as Scoutmaster, and Ed has worked with nearly 200 Boy Scouts who either have earned Eagle, or are well on their way.  He is looking forward to having the opportunity to work with some of the first girls who will earn the Eagle Scout rank.
                                              _ _ _

Copyright 2017 by Robert Sutton
Like what you read here?  There's a new post from Bob at www.uberthoughtsUSA.com at 10am Eastern time, every weekday, giving new meaning to "prolific essayist."  Appearance, advertising, sponsorship and interview inquiries cheerfully welcomed at bsutton@alum.mit.edu or on Twitter at @rmosutton.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Time to Retire, John

I suppose that it is worth the words to go ahead and thank Sen. John McCain for his long service to the USA.  No one, not even someone who steps up to serve his country knowing the risks, should have to suffer years of incarceration as a POW in the heck-hole that was a North Vietnamese prison camp, as the senator did during his military service.

And although there are immense perks that go with the office and length of service, we should thank him as well, or at least the people of the State of Arizona should, for his long tenure as the senator from that great state.  We should thank him for running for president against Barack Obama in 2008, although he failed to expose Obama for what and who he was and, accordingly, lost -- leaving us with Obamacare, the Iran deal, ISIS, a reinvigorated Russia, countless leftist judges and Black Lives Matter, the last of which Obama clearly allowed to happen.

But it is time -- it is SO time -- for Senator McCain to step down gracefully from the national stage and be with his family and take care of the cancer that he is again suffering from.  It is, we can argue, long past that time.

As evidence #455 of that, I give you this excerpt from his speech earlier this week somewhere to some audience.  In a direct message to President Trump , McCain gave us these words:

"To fear the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain 'the last best hope of earth' for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history."

I challenge you to diagram that sentence.  OK, you may be too young to know that in the bygone days of schooling we used to diagram sentences to identify parts of speech, which may be why kids today can't write a coherent sentence.

But I digress.

I'm going to try to extract one of the 17 points McCain was trying to make in that grammatical challenge, so he should forgive me if I don't quote his intent properly.  That point is that, under President Trump, we have, he says, "refused the obligations of international leadership", because we are excessively nationalist Americans who don't want to solve world problems.  That, he said, is unpatriotic.

That, Senator, is just wrong.  Now, you may think you have a better sense of what constitutes "leadership" in the world, and think you have a better sense of the USA's role in the world than I do, but I'm thinking that maybe you don't, and any American's opinion is as valuable as yours.

I have thought for a long time that the United States of America was a grant by God to the world, so that there would always be one nation on earth where people could see what happens when the shackles are taken off the ambition of the individual.  We are not so much the beacon of freedom to attract people to enjoy it here, but the demonstration of the success of freedom so that other lands can enjoy it there.

That more nations have not adopted our Constitution as the foundation of their own republics is not an indictment of its inadequacies.  It is, rather, a triumph of corrupt power unwilling to grant to its people the right to self-determination.

So our role in international leadership, Senator, is a nationalist one.  It is for us to unshackle our people repeatedly, continually and visibly.  A better USA is the great commercial for our way of life everywhere else.

And our role, to a certain extent, includes defending the oppressed in other lands against the internal powers there who would subjugate them.  It is why we have participated in the removal of the Hitlers, the Mussolinis, the Saddams, the Khaddafis.  It is why when we have failed to do so, the Pol Pots and Kims have murdered their people and created repressive dictatorships.  And it is why we must continue to demonstrate to Russia and China (and their people) that our way of life is a way of freedom and success.

This is not "spurious, half-baked nationalism" being practiced in the refreshing new Administration.  It is a clear understanding in this White House that what we do within our borders -- and, of course, that we have borders -- matters as much or more beyond them.

If you don't get that, Senator McCain, if you have let your personal disaffection with this president color your capacity to legislate in the best interest of the people of the State of Arizona and of this nation, then you have no real choice.

Retire tomorrow, Senator, and take care of yourself.

Copyright 2017 by Robert Sutton
Like what you read here?  There's a new post from Bob at www.uberthoughtsUSA.com at 10am Eastern time, every weekday, giving new meaning to "prolific essayist."  Appearance, advertising, sponsorship and interview inquiries cheerfully welcomed at bsutton@alum.mit.edu or on Twitter at @rmosutton.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Antifa in Middletown? Who Knew?

Middletown, Virginia is a very small community at the rural confluence of two interstates in the northeast part of the state.  There is not a great deal there, but it is the home of the Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical site, the location of a battlefield from the War Between the States where a significant battle was indeed fought.

It is a popular site for those folks whose hobby is to reenact battles from that war.  That means that I need to provide the necessary foreword stating that I have never participated in a War reenactment, nor I have I seen one, nor have I been knowingly close to one, despite many decades of living amidst where those things go on.

I trust that those who that sort of thing enjoy themselves, learn a great deal and regard reenacting as harmless fun.  I certainly do not think anything bad of those who do participate, any more than anyone would think ill of me for singing barbershop music for 25 years of my life.

This past Sunday was to have been an annual reenactment of the Battle of Cedar Creek at the site.  This was advertised for a long time prior, and if I read correctly is indeed done every year and many folks come out to see it.

The reenactment, however, was not going to happen.  It was cancelled, you see, at the last day.  This was not related to weather, or lack of expected attendance, or lack of reenactors on one side or the other.

Nope, this was to be cancelled because of a threat received last Wednesday, and provided to the FBI, that there would be bombings on that afternoon, and it is reported that a pipe bomb was actually found at the site on the day of the scheduled event (a device was found; the FBI ultimately determined it to be safe and no one was hurt).

The FBI is investigating and we do not expect them to provide any further news on the matter, unless something very dramatic is uncovered.

Because law enforcement is not talking, we are speculating based on word from some of the disappointed reenactors as to what they have heard.  Primarily, the word is that the bomb scare was the work of the same types who are trying to get statues of Confederate generals taken down (along with Christopher Columbus and, I suppose, George Washington at some point).

The obvious inference is that the Antifa types are at it again, only this time the threat was not to statues of Confederate generals but, rather, innocent Americans pursuing a harmless hobby -- and those watching them do so.  And that, friends, goes over the line in a big way.

The cancellation of this event was news in the Washington, DC media outlets, at least for a day or so.  It is only now starting to get picked up by predominantly conservative outlets beyond the DC area.  That, in itself, is a bit scary.  We had Americans, actual Americans, threatened by a lunatic fringe which apparently cannot be called a terrorist organization because they don't have enough of an organization to identify any leadership -- textbook anarchy.

Do we think that anyone in Chicago or Houston or Los Angeles knows this happened?  Was it on the national media?  This is a real problem.  The next time Antifa strikes, and someone is killed, will anyone in the media bring up Cedar Creek and say that this was brewing?  Or will it be the case that the lack of publicity for what they did at Cedar Creek will mean that we weren't prepared?

There was one bright spot.  The reenactment actually ended up taking place on Sunday morning, by a set of reenactment hobbyists determined not to let Antifa or anyone else stop them.  The public was kept far from the "battle", and it was reported that the Confederate ranks were quite a bit down from last year's event.

If I actually were a reenactor on the Confederate side, I don't know if I would have donned the gray uniform.  But I'm glad that some did, if only to demonstrate that Americans are not going to put up with crap from a bunch of communist anarchists.  At the end of the event, the soldiers chanted "U-S-A, U-S-A" to let everyone know that 153 years later, we're not going to let enemies within or without stop us.

Will CNN say anything?  Not a poop out of them so far.

Copyright 2017 by Robert Sutton
Like what you read here?  There's a new post from Bob at www.uberthoughtsUSA.com at 10am Eastern time, every weekday, giving new meaning to "prolific essayist."  Appearance, advertising, sponsorship and interview inquiries cheerfully welcomed at bsutton@alum.mit.edu or on Twitter at @rmosutton.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Nancy's Constituency

Nancy Pelosi, the geriatric, overly wealthy and entitled minority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, has responded to President Trump's initial immigration proposal, the one with 70 points worth of things he wants to have in a resultant bill.

We all know the president, and we all know that this is his initial posture, hoping to get as much as possible of what is in his points put into a bill that the House and Senate can actually pass and put on his desk.  It's called an initial offer", and lots can get done -- including the border wall -- especially as long as border security is nailed down before going on to dealing with the illegals already here.

That, of course, doesn't seem to faze Mrs. Pelosi.  She and her good friend Chuck Schumer, made a bizarre statement. "The administration can't be serious about compromise or helping the Dreamers if they begin with a list that is anathema to the Dreamers, to the immigrant community and to the vast majority of Americans [sic].  We told the president at our meeting that we were open to reasonable border security measures alongside the DREAM Act, but this list goes so far beyond what is reasonable. This proposal fails to represent any attempt at compromise.  The list includes the wall, which was explicitly ruled out of the negotiations. If the president was serious about protecting the Dreamers, his staff has not made a good faith effort to do so."

So, one has to ask, what exactly is her constituency?

Nancy Pelosi represents a severely leftist district in California, but as minority leader she also has to represent the entire Democrat Party and Democrat voters as well, many of whom are not nearly as leftist as her district.  And lots of those people are not too thrilled with the idea that they have to pay, through their tax dollars, for illegal aliens who get more benefits than they themselves do.

She actually included in her statement that the "vast majority" of Americans saw President Trump's proposal as "anathema."  Who exactly was that?  It's hard to imagine that any of those who voted for him think the proposal is "anathema"; it is the core of what he ran on, and he is now the president (and Nancy Pelosi's party now leads nothing in Washington).  It's also easy to imagine that a lot of Democrat voters also see some things in the proposal that are worthy of discussion, or at least don't see it as "anathema."

But Nancy Pelosi is so frigging out of touch with the country, the one she only flies over, that she likely believes what she said.  I have no idea what the real constituency is that she thinks she has outside her district, but the USA is ready to have actual immigration reform on the table and debated in Congress, something that did not happen when her side had Congress, the White House, and a filibuster-proof Senate.

Look, we know what's up.  She can't possibly allow this president to be seen as leading, let alone to be driving an issue; that would grant him legitimacy.  And it is incredibly disingenuous to try to claim that the "vast majority of America" thinks anything other than that President Trump's proposal is a reasonable start, a start at something she should have led herself in 2009.

But Nancy does not hear what she only flies over.

Copyright 2017 by Robert Sutton
Like what you read here?  There's a new post from Bob at www.uberthoughtsUSA.com at 10am Eastern time, every weekday, giving new meaning to "prolific essayist."  Appearance, advertising, sponsorship and interview inquiries cheerfully welcomed at bsutton@alum.mit.edu or on Twitter at @rmosutton.

Friday, October 13, 2017

It's Not YOUR Money, Hillary

So we're all sort of caught up in that Harvey Weinstein thing, where the apparently powerful movie mogul (I had never really heard of him, but I rarely go to movies, don't typically watch the Oscars and couldn't care less about the moguls who make them) is accused of abusing female actresses.

A bunch of actresses are coming forward to assert that he did this or that to them, and one has to assume simply by (A) their large number, (B) the risk of industry blacklist, and (C) the fact that people are saying they knew all the time he was a louse, that it it is substantively true, and that Weinstein is a serial abuser of women under his employment power.  Classic workplace sexual harassment, casting couch, all that sort of thing.

This story is big in Hollywood, but not so much in the media.  That would be because Weinstein, along with being a serial abuser of women under his employment control, was a big Democrat donor and a very good friend of the Clintons, even having them rent a house in the Hamptons next to him.  Lots of money, many years.  God forbid a Democrat donor's legal issues get into the Democrat media.

So of course there were some calls, at least on the right and from some of the women abused, for Weinstein's campaign donations to be returned, particularly all the money he gave to Hillary Clinton last year.  People have done that before; when donors are problematic and it looks bad, they returned the donations.

It looked pretty bad when she wouldn't say anything about Weinstein for almost a week after the scandal broke.  I guess it took that long for her handlers to come up with the right statement one makes, when one's friend turns out to be a serial abuser and you probably always knew about it, you know, being married to one and all.  Oh, yeah, and you were supposed to be the "friend of women" and all that too.

So Hillary gets on an interview with a butt-kissing leftist host, and gets asked the logical question -- "Will you return his contributions to your campaign?".  What was her answer to that, you might ask?  Well, it was pretty curious, and if I transcribed it right it was this:

"Well, there's no one to return it to ... [then, in regard to returning the donations by giving them to charity,] of course I will do that; I give 10% [of my income] to charity every year.  This will be part of that."

No one seems to have mentioned, however, that those donations from Weinstein are not her money.  OK, I don't exactly know what the campaign finance rules are regarding funds left over after a completed campaign -- I believe they can roll to a subsequent campaign, maybe -- but they're not personal money.

The interviewer, of course, didn't follow up by asking the obvious questions.  "What do you mean 'no one to return it to'; your campaign should send it back to Weinstein, right?" and then the other obvious one, "How does the donation to charity of campaign donations that were given to the Hillary for President campaign, possibly become part of your personal donation to charity?  That money belongs to the campaign, not to you!  You can't claim a charitable deduction on your taxes and you can't claim any moral credit either."

The former question is a sidelight.  The latter is critical, and raises a real issue.  What, we have to ask if she said that, is Hillary Clinton doing with the other money that is left over in her campaign account?  I mean, people can't just give it to charity and then claim some kind of tax deduction against their own income.

So why did she even mention what she personally claims to give to charity each year?  What relevance does that have?  It has nothing to do with campaign finance at all, and to be clear, even if it did, it essentially, as documented, all went to the Clinton Foundation, which is a cesspool of corruption run by her family and select close family friends.  Charity, yeah, right.

So please, will someone in the press raise that?  Her own words, "It will be part of [my personal charitable contributions to the Clinton Foundation]", are frightening, if in her own mind she sees the campaign, the "Foundation" and her own pocketbook as extensions of each other.    

Please, media.  Jump on this.

Copyright 2017 by Robert Sutton
Like what you read here?  There's a new post from Bob at www.uberthoughtsUSA.com at 10am Eastern time, every weekday, giving new meaning to "prolific essayist."  Appearance, advertising, sponsorship and interview inquiries cheerfully welcomed at bsutton@alum.mit.edu or on Twitter at @rmosutton.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

No World Cup for You!

Oh, my God.

What a horrific day for soccer in the USA, and not for why you think it stinks either.  As you may possibly know, but might not have cared enough to have remembered, on Tuesday the USA soccer team lost to the team from the soccer powerhouse of Trinidad and Tobago.  By losing, their record in their group of six countries' teams dropped to where they are now eliminated from qualifying for the 2018 World Cup of Soccer, somewhere in Russia, I think.

Those are the facts.  Here come the opinions.

I have written multiple times about soccer here, none of which have been particularly complimentary.  Soccer, you see, has the problem of being lots of fun to play, but agonizingly dull to watch.  If I watch my Keurig machine making coffee, at least I know that in a minute or two there will be coffee.  Hooray.  If I turn on, God forbid, a soccer "match", I don't even know if there will be a winner -- I'm not even sure there will be any score.

It is an American thing, and probably a human thing, that if you have a reason to root for a team or a performer, and they are participating, you can tolerate more dullness in a sport.  I like watching golf on TV, I suppose, but I certainly watch it more intently if either (A) Phil Mickelson or Tiger Woods is in contention; (B) it is a Ryder Cup or President's Cup where the USA is a team against foreigners; or (C) it is one of the four major tournaments a year, where the result is historic in the same way that a Super Bowl winner is, even if it is Seattle playing Kansas City.

That is why people in this country ever watch soccer, that is, in the every-four-years World Cup when we can root for the USA team against the world.  The other three years and eleven months or so, we don't care and don't watch.  That's important.

Now what I have written here previously has to do not so much with how dull soccer is to watch, but how the left is so intent on making us watch, or at least making us think we are supposed to watch.  I've written about how ESPN, a leftist outlet if ever there was one, runs the scores of soccer matches in Mexico, the UK and perhaps Mars (who knows or cares) on the bottom of the screen.

The left is a globalist entity, and soccer is a global sport.  We don't care who wins in "Bundesliga Deutschland"?  Shame on us for not caring, not on the game for being dull.  No, we will shove scores at you until you start watching, and we will continue to do so forever.  Maybe that will get you to hate America like you're supposed to.

But now, oh, Lordy, they have a problem.  You see, every four years we have to watch soccer, because the USA is in the World Cup and we root for our team and our flag (ironic, right?).  And every four years, there is all this talk about how our temporary fandom will translate into lots and lots of kids taking up soccer.

But it never translates into actually watching the game on TV or being interested in watching it, because as I said, it's fun to play but anesthetic to watch.  So now with no USA team in the World Cup, that means that the left loses us for eight years instead of four, and that is just terrible.

It is ironically terrible for Fox Sports, which paid a ton of cash for the right to broadcast a World Cup that no one will be watching without a USA team. [OK, at this point it probably makes sense to point out that all the above is about the men's team; the women will likely be back in it, but they haven't exactly endeared themselves to America by being flaming leftists themselves, and women's teams mostly don't draw the same.  And the first one of them who takes a knee for our anthem will kill it completely].

But the real loser, along with the USA men's team, is the left.  No USA World Cup team, no World Cup viewers, so no interest in soccer, so eight years of "who cares" for the sport here.  We Americans will stick with our sports, the ones that interest us, although the NFL is sliding down that list a bit.  In fact, it's got to be tough for the left.  Do they try to boost the NFL, because its players are actually doing that kneeling crap, despite the whole violence-and-concussions thing, while Americans are voting with their remotes and not watching?  Whose side do they come down on?  Oh, the torture.

Bummer for them.

Copyright 2017 by Robert Sutton
Like what you read here?  There's a new post from Bob at www.uberthoughtsUSA.com at 10am Eastern time, every weekday, giving new meaning to "prolific essayist."  Appearance, advertising, sponsorship and interview inquiries cheerfully welcomed at bsutton@alum.mit.edu or on Twitter at @rmosutton.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Insulting Obama

The election of Donald Trump in 2016 was a pretty big surprise, possibly to everyone except for the current president.  We'll never know, of course, because he would probably tell you that he knew it all the time.  But one of the curiosities of it being such a surprise is that it was sort of a "before and after" thing.

What I mean is that the reality prior to the election was a different one from that immediately afterwards, in many respects.  Moreover, with some specific exceptions, we tend to have set aside and, perhaps, even forgotten, some things that we just took for granted when they were just superfluous garbage.

And speaking of superfluous garbage, let's look at the words of the immediately former president, Barack H. Obama, Jr.  As I get reminded every once in a while, back in September, Mr. Obama stated loudly that he would regard it as a personal insult if (in this case) black Americans did not vote for Hillary Clinton.

They did not, of course, in one sense -- the turnout was weak, and Hillary got 5% less support (93% to 88%) among black voters who actually did go to the polls.  Actually that's a pretty good "in one sense", and that probably makes some sense.

I suppose that, given the tangible outcome and Mr. Obama's own words, that he should distinctly feel personally insulted.  That voting percentage by which Hillary was lower than Obama, didn't exactly go out and vote for President Trump; his numbers were about the same as Mitt Romney's in 2012.  But they certainly did do what was supposed to be an "insult", and we ought to mention that.

Barack Obama hasn't exactly owned up to the fact that a bunch of "his people", at least on his father's side, insulted him.  He hasn't gone out and waved his finger in a typical Obama-like, professorial lecture and castigated the people who "insulted" him, probably because it is not in keeping with being a leftist to concede that there are people who disagree with your world view, certainly not enough to vote for the other guy.

But he said it.  "If you don't vote for Hillary you are insulting me" (not that he cared about Hillary or her presidency, of course).  And I would really like to have someone in the press -- why do I keep having to suggest stories to them? -- sit down with the mercifully-former president and talk to him about that line.

Why, we might want to know, does he think all those black voters were willing to insult him rather than pull a lever for Hillary Clinton?  He can't even invoke anything Trumpian at all, because those voters didn't vote for Trump either -- they voted for third-party candidates or stayed home.  Donald Trump certainly didn't destroy old "Crooked Hillary" in the mind of those voters; if anything, she did so herself.  Or (gasp) Obama and his failures did.

OK.  Reflecting on what I was saying about "before and after Election Day", Obama said it, and a goodly chunk of the black voters were willing to insult him by not voting for Hillary.  So which of her 1,277 reasons she lost does he think relate to the black voting public who voted for him in '12 but not for Hillary in '16?  James Comey?  Emails? The weather?  Russia? [OK, at this point, I don't even know what "Russia" would refer to, since there is no real indication that anything Russia did either hurt or helped her on Election Day, but she keeps invoking it so I will, too.]

So I really want to have someone ask him that question and make him answer it directly, no mealymouthed, diverting answer.  Was he or was he not insulted by the large number of black voters that didn't vote for Hillary, when he said he would be insulted if they didn't?

If no one asks, well, I will be personally insulted.  Do you care?

Copyright 2017 by Robert Sutton
Like what you read here?  There's a new post from Bob at www.uberthoughtsUSA.com at 10am Eastern time, every weekday, giving new meaning to "prolific essayist."  Appearance, advertising, sponsorship and interview inquiries cheerfully welcomed at bsutton@alum.mit.edu or on Twitter at @rmosutton.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

"Cinderita"

I realize that when you are writing five times a week, even though the subjects can be a bit varied, there is always the likelihood of going back and revisiting a topic -- not always intentionally -- and saying the same thing again.

But I guess if the same topic is raised in the news, or in some recent happening, that causes a revitalization of the topic, it might be worth a revisit regardless.  That's one reason we had several gun-control pieces last week, and why we're talking about ... yes, theatrical casting, yet again.

You might as well go read the first piece on it, which was this one from back in 2015.  The point is that when theater, or TV or movies, are done at a professional level, you need to do everything possible to suspend the disbelief of your audience so that they stay in the story.  And casting people who don't fit the audience's expectation introduces disbelief you don't need.

Television in 2017 is rife with that, of course, particularly in its desire to appear hip and with-it and, God forbid, decidedly not racist.  You would think that 90% of couples today are mixed-race, if you extrapolated from TV depictions.  But at least we know that the producers are not racists, which is all that matters, except when you get to the self-congratulatory award ceremonies and there are not enough non-white nominees.

In that piece, of course, I posed the silly notion that Matt Damon should have auditioned to play Martin Luther King when the movie Selma was done, just to help show that Hollywood is race-blind.  As silly as that notion is, I pointed out back then, the TV show "Once Upon a Time", which is based on the humanization of fairy-tale characters, had seemed to do that far too often to maintain the suspension of disbelief any show requires (my example was the odd casting of a Hispanic-looking Honduran-Canadian actress to play the English fictional character Maid Marian, of the Robin Hood tale).

Well, "Once Upon a Time" has officially done it again, except they went even farther.  This time, the the character was Cinderella, and the performer is the Dominican actress Dania Ramirez.  Now, Dania Ramirez is a perfectly fine actress to play any number of characters.  But not only have the producers decided to have a visibly Latina actress to play the part, she has a Dominican accent as well and does not suppress it.

Now, there probably is not a "right" answer as to what Cinderella (or, in this case, I guess, "Cinderita"), is supposed to look like.  OK, there is no right answer.  She is, after all, fictional.  I get it.  If the whole fairy tale were staged in a Latin environment, it would be perfectly fine.

But the rest of the characters are clearly, for lack of a better term, Anglos.  So not only do the producers get questioned as to why they would mix race and accents in a confined, if fictional, realm, they have made the Latina a stereotypically servile young woman, so they kind of messed up there too, at least from the PC side.

Now, I have already pointed out that the producers have already mixed accents all over the place, from American to many flavors of English and Scots accents, some of which are nearly incomprehensible.  That's pretty distracting on its own.  Why they feel the need to muddy the suspension-of-disbelief waters by adding racially-odd casting to verbally-odd accents is beyond me.

I don't know how this will play out.  I don't know, because we have taken the show off our recording list.  

Astonishingly to those on the left, it has nothing to do with that casting, nothing to do with race, nothing to do with suspension of disbelief.  That was only one story line, and we've watched the show for years with story lines we didn't enjoy (or couldn't follow).

It is simply that, presumably having run out of new realms to explore with the cast this season, they have let half or more of the principal actors go (or the principals got tired and left; don't know and don't care), and have gone off in a strange direction with the plot.  The main character is now the son of the former main female character (the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming), grown up, and since he wasn't even a fairy-tale character in the first place, who cares?

It is no longer interesting enough, nor easy enough to follow, to where it is worth an hour of our time.  It has, in the classic TV parlance, "jumped the shark."

I wish them luck; surely they are all good people trying very hard.

Copyright 2017 by Robert Sutton
Like what you read here?  There's a new post from Bob at www.uberthoughtsUSA.com at 10am Eastern time, every weekday, giving new meaning to "prolific essayist."  Appearance, advertising, sponsorship and interview inquiries cheerfully welcomed at bsutton@alum.mit.edu or on Twitter at @rmosutton.

Monday, October 9, 2017

What Really IS "Fake News"

I had the news on in the background last Thursday while I was working (and waiting for the baseball playoffs to start), and again there was an afternoon press conference at the White House.  The press was in a somewhat more sedate mood, I guess, although every one seemed to say "I have two questions ...", whereupon Sarah Sanders, the press secretary, would answer one of them and then turn to another reporter to try to give everyone a chance.

That didn't stop most of them from trying to shout their second question out after Mrs. Sanders said she was going to another reporter to give everyone a chance -- the CNN guy was particularly obnoxious about it.  But she was diligent about answering one question each, and got questions from a large number of the assembled troops.

So one fellow asked a question about something in the news, a report from NBC that the Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, had referred to the President Trump in a defamatory way.  (The Secretary actually had answered a press question on that a day earlier, saying that he wouldn't dignify the notion with a comment, and that he was staying in his role as long as the president wanted him to.  "I don't come from [Washington]", Tillerson said, meaning that in his career he had never wasted a moment on petty crap like that.)  The president had then referred to the NBC report as "Fake News", meaning that NBC had pretty much made it up, and that it would be appropriate for the press to be subject to investigation when they abuse their First Amendment privileges.

But it was a subsequent question that got me thinking, because I wanted to answer it myself.  That reporter asked if the president thought there to be any difference between fake news as practiced by the American media and the "other" fake news, that is, promulgated by Russia in an attempt to create chaos in the USA, as we are coming to discover.

Mrs. Sanders answered the question, but really without a specific answer -- the press secretary typically comes armed with pre-written statements in regard to certain topics that might come up.  I've no problem with that, of course.  The purpose of the press conferences is to convey the opinions of the White House, and since the press secretary is answering questions about what the president believes, they always find it useful to come armed with statements about what he does believe.

So I was immediately, on hearing the question, conjuring up the answer I would have liked to have heard.  That would have been something like this:

"Thank you for that question.  You raise an interesting point about fake news spread by Russia and fake news spread by the American mainstream media.  The president believes that there is actually very little difference between the two.

"The Russian purpose is quite obvious to all of us.  They want to foment division in our country, as a way to portray the American way of life as somehow not a suitable aspiration for other nations.  They are not particularly interested in who actually wins elections here, as much as they are trying to make the elections themselves contentious.  They want the contention and the divisions, and elections are an ideal target for them.

"How is that any different from NBC, CBS or CNN or ABC putting out false, unsourced or unvalidated reports, knowing that there is no journalistic rationale for doing so, or there is inadequate sourcing?  We know that their reporting is well above 90% biased against this president, so we know that their motivation is divisiveness, the same as the Russians -- except that they are trying to foment division against this Administration, where the Russians really don't care which side wins as long as there is division.

"Fake news to exacerbate divisions is fake news.  The Russians don't have the First Amendment protection that the mainstream media do, so it is simply an act of adversarial aggression on their part to try to spread fake stories.  The American mainstream media are protected, yet they have a responsibility to maintain some level of journalistic integrity because they are protected.

"So perhaps not only is American fake news comparable to the Russians' actions, it is worse because it is protected.  Certainly the motivation is far, far more similar than it is different."

No, I don't want to be press secretary.  But I'll be happy to write this stuff for the White House.

Copyright 2017 by Robert Sutton
Like what you read here?  There's a new post from Bob at www.uberthoughtsUSA.com at 10am Eastern time, every weekday, giving new meaning to "prolific essayist."  Appearance, advertising, sponsorship and interview inquiries cheerfully welcomed at bsutton@alum.mit.edu or on Twitter at @rmosutton.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Guns and the Movies

We can close out the week with a thought that, I suppose, has been in the back of my mind a bit during this week that was begun with an immense assault on civilization in Las Vegas, and has proceeded, even in this column, with much discussion regarding firearms.

So I guess I can characterize that thought as this ... there are two very large aspects to this discussion, and we never hear anyone try to make the distinction.  First, there is the weapon itself and all that goes with it, including the Second Amendment, the regulation, the registration, the ammunition and everything that goes along with the firearm and its possession.

That's one thing.

But then the other is the less-discussed half.  That is the action itself; the person, the motivation, the influences around the use of the weapon.  And we really, really need to talk about that.

I was, I suppose, a fortunate child.  Not in assets, for sure; we were a rather low-income family.  But Dad was a former Army competitive marksman who could, as I've written, put five pistol shots in a quarter-size ring at age 95 though he refused to hunt.  When I was a kid, he taught hunter safety classes even though he did not hunt at all, and taught us firearms safety as any good parent should.

So growing up, my attitude toward firearms was shaped by a very rational approach, that is, by what they were intended to be used for.  I was a competitive target shooter by age 12, and I looked at firearms as the tools you used for target shooting.  Other people hunted, and that was fine, I knew, and for home protection, which was also fine.  Targets, hunting, protection -- that's what firearms were for, and that's how I see them to this day.

And then there is another generation -- maybe two or three of them, actually.  These are the people raised on what they see in movies.  There's very little hunting in the movies any more, and about zero target shooting and not much home protection except maybe in Lifetime movies.

What there is a lot of, though, is violence in every conceivable way.  War movies, sure, but criminal depictions, action films, science fiction, drug-action movies -- they're all out there and attract their own set of followers.  I even remember watching "Blind Side", a fine story of a current NFL lineman who grew up in the drug-infested streets in Memphis, and was taken in by a Caucasian family, learned to play football at a high level, and succeeded.  But there is a scene where he goes back to the streets and his old "friends", and one threatened to "bust a cap" -- to shoot him.  Even in a feel-good movie, you see the depiction.

Firearms violence is a staple of Hollywood and frankly, has been for a long time.  And here's the thing.  If you hand someone a pistol, they will see it for what they believe it to be.  Me?  I will take it, point it downward, ensure it is not loaded but treat it as if it were.  I will regard it as an item to be respected.  But others will see it as Hollywood has portrayed it -- an item of action, practically a toy in that sense, for what it invokes.  That's dangerous as all Hades.

You know, and I know, that Hollywood rakes in tons of cash on action movies (which means "shoot-em-up" flicks, of course).  It practically survives on them.

But where do the left and the anti-gun  folks go for their money and their loud support?  Hmmm ... the same Hollywood types who make their money off those portrayals.  Does anyone think that the proliferation of action movies is not a big factor in the attitudes toward firearms that many killers have today, including mass murderers?  Do we think that Chicago might just be a little safer place if there weren't examples of misuse of guns every 30 seconds in the movies they watch?

But Hollywood is taking no stand on self-policing.  People stand up at the Oscars and Emmys and protest trivia like the percentage of black or Hispanic actors being nominated for awards that they themselves in the industry both cast for and then nominate.  But will not the next actor or actress to stand up there and decry the violence in their own movies and shows, be the first to do so?

Hollywood is a bastion of hypocrisy and always has been.  But darn it, someone has to point out that hypocrisy as it relates to violence with firearms.  You can't make leftist decrials of firearm violence out of one side of your mouth and then make money on movies celebrating the same violence.

The actor who first points that out on stage will be my hero.

Copyright 2017 by Robert Sutton
Like what you read here?  There's a new post from Bob at www.uberthoughtsUSA.com at 10am Eastern time, every weekday, giving new meaning to "prolific essayist."  Appearance, advertising, sponsorship and interview inquiries cheerfully welcomed at bsutton@alum.mit.edu or on Twitter at @rmosutton.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Insurance Fires and Puerto Rico

This is a difficult piece to write, and so I hope it will be taken carefully, and will be read thoroughly and with an open mind.  Please take your time.

There are a number of joking categorizations, some rather insensitive, of a type of insurance fraud that has been used to cover up failing businesses.  A store is failing, and the owner arranges for it to be burned down so he or she can collect the insurance money, dissolve the business and start over again rather than going bankrupt.

In any representation of that scam -- and it is, or was, a pretty common thing -- the problem is where there is failure and debt, no obvious way to recover, and something is staged that allows a destruction of the business covered by insurance, and an owner who walks away made whole again to start over.

Staged.  That's the big thing.

Our universal reaction is that our morality tells us something.  No matter what the status of the business at the time was, if it gets burned down by a lightning strike, or is washed away by a flood, we think the business owner deserves to collect on the insurance.  We don't think the owner's business should be any better than it was before, but if the owner bought insurance, he or she should be paid accordingly to cover the loss.

And our morality also tells us that a staged incident is fraud, and the insurance company should not pay, and the owner should end up in prison.  Right?  We all understand that.

And then there is Puerto Rico, the commonwealth of the USA that just got assaulted by Hurricane Maria.

I am not saying that this was not a horrific storm, not saying that there is anything other than that, as to what happened.  But I am saying that there is a huge prospect for financial decisions that affect a lot of us outside Puerto Rico, and we have to decide what morality applies here.

You see, Puerto Rico was a horrific mess before Maria visited.  The island's power authority was already six billion dollars in debt, and power plants were functioning erratically when they functioned, in places on the island.  I had already written on this problem over a year ago; it wasn't yet imaginable that a hurricane would devastate the island when Congress was already having to look at an imminent bankruptcy of the territory.

If you have indeed read carefully, and not been judgmental, you know where I am going.

The right and moral answer is that the good works of the Federal government can only be to restore the infrastructure of the island to where it was before the storm, or a comparable level of advancement, and to ensure that innocent people who have lost their homes and have no place to sleep and nothing to eat can be housed and fed in an emergency situation for some period of time.

What I do not want to see is that the specific part of our generous and compassionate response as a nation that comes through congressional authorization ends up making the infrastructure better than it was before.

OK, let me clarify.  Please.  I would be happy to see Puerto Rico have a roaring economy and a sound infrastructure, good roads and reliable power and water systems.  I would be happy if their people all had a bed to sleep on and three squares a day.

But they didn't have a roaring economy, good roads or reliable utilities before Maria.  The people of the USA, as represented by their elected representatives, already recognized that corruption and incompetence in the island's government had caused the problem, and refused to fund the same people to fix it.  I totally agreed with them.

And I agree today that, as money starts to pour in to help the island recover, we need to understand a few things.  The same people who caused the problems before the hurricane are in power now, with the exception of the governor, who is new since January.  President Trump has said that the governor is doing a very good job overseeing the recovery and I am willing to believe him.

I want the island to recover and I want it to be better than it was.  But I want that to happen because the people themselves there elect leaders (hopefully starting with this governor) who will plan a recovery that separates them from the corruption of their past.  I don't want Maria to be the "insurance fraud" that wipes out the island for a rebuild that the rest of the USA will have to pay for; I want a clear delineation -- and this is just for taxpayer funds through Congress, not charity -- between humanitarian aid helping people recover from losing homes and livelihoods, and aid that ends up replacing elements that were broken before.

I hope you understand the point.  It will be easy to characterize the above as insensitive.  But as Mick Mulvaney, the OMB director said yesterday, "We will help Puerto Rico rebuild from the storm.  Puerto Rico has got to figure out how to fix the errors that it has made for the last generation, from its own finances."

That's exactly right.  We are a sympathetic and generous country.  We will help with the storm.  But we cannot be expected to replace what was failing before the storm.

Copyright 2017 by Robert Sutton
Like what you read here?  There's a new post from Bob at www.uberthoughtsUSA.com at 10am Eastern time, every weekday, giving new meaning to "prolific essayist."  Appearance, advertising, sponsorship and interview inquiries cheerfully welcomed at bsutton@alum.mit.edu or on Twitter at @rmosutton.