Friday, August 18, 2017

Weekly Finale: (I Never Promised You A) Rose Garden

After this week's mass hysteria, I decided a more positive song was needed for this week's musical finale.

Lynn Anderson's "(I Never Promised You A) Rose Garden" is just what the doctor ordered:

Released in 1970, this version reached #1 on the country music charts and #3 on the Billboard charts.

Although the song has been covered multiple times, the covers really don't stray far from Lynn Anderson's version. However, the version by the song's writer, Joe South, is arguably the worst:

So now you know why you have heard of Lynn Anderson, but not Joe South.

As for the song itself, even though it seems to be a mild romantic criticism, it actually has one of the most positive lines in all of music:
So smile for a while and let's be jolly love shouldn't be so melancholy
Come along and share the good times while we can
That may be the best advice going into a weekend. Enjoy the good times while you can, and I will return with more blogging on Monday.

Cats and Dogs Living Together: Today's News for August 18th

Mass hysteria? Scott Adams nails it today with his blog post, "How To Know You’re In a Mass Hysteria Bubble". 

And for a more rational discussion of why this hysteria is wrong, try David Harsanyi's "If The Left Won’t Acknowledge Leftist Violence, It’s No Better Than Trump".

But you know the hysteria is bad when even terrorists can barely get onto the front page of Fox News or CNN. But this website's policy is to ignore all but the most heinous of terrorist attacks (think 9/11), so if you really need to see the latest news on it, and give terrorists a voice, here it is.

But back to the mass hysteria...

After corporate CEOs abandoned President Donald Trump, markets are worried Trump's key advisors and Cabinet members will be the next to leave him, threatening his economic agenda.

But political strategists doubt the key financial advisors like Gary Cohn, director of the National Economic Council or Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are close to resigning. The two former Wall Street executives have high credibility in the markets and are viewed as key drivers of the Trump economic agenda, particularly tax reform.

...Stocks slumped Thursday morning as rumors circulated that Cohn was leaving the White House. They recovered slightly after it was denied by the White House, but selling again accelerated and the Dow closed off 274 points at 21,750, its worst day in three months.
If that isn't enough, CNN's lede story has become political commentator Stephen Collinson's personal anti-Trump screed:

Donald Trump was never part of the Washington in-crowd.

Yet the President is fast losing the few friends he did have in the capital, following a wild period in which he offered cover to white supremacists and ignited a war of words with North Korea, leaving GOP allies in the crossfire.
Translation: Things haven't changed much for Trump. This is what CNN calls "news", or even "news analysis". This could be part of why Trump calls them "fake news".

On the Fox side...

Fox News:
Jason Kessler, who organized the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., told Fox News late Thursday he's in hiding after getting a string of death threats.

Last Saturday, a car rammed into a crowd of counter-protesters in Charlottesville, killing one woman and injuring some 19 other people. The next day, protesters chased Kessler from a press conference he was trying to hold.

The nationalist blogger maintains his group is not a collection of white supremacists, but rather a “civil rights group.” He said he graduated from the University of Virginia, voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and once attended an Occupy Wall Street rally in Charlottesville.
His grievances are rooted in what he calls the identity politics of today. “Some are the discriminatory policies of affirmative action, college admissions, history books being rewritten, blaming American whites for slavery,” when it was a worldwide institution.

“Every culture had slavery,” he said.
While Kessler himself might be a reasonable person, he loses sympathy by associating himself with the white supremacist groups. Admittedly, he cannot stop white supremacists from showing up at his public demonstration, but he needs to take a stronger stand against them.

Then again, Kessler did vote for Obama. The guy is clearly a nut case.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Two Directions: Today's News for August 17th

America may soon face a question of leadership.

If a president is judged by a growing slice of the population to have abdicated his office's traditional imperative to provide steady, moral and unifying authority, where does the nation turn next?
This is the lede story on CNN's website. While news analysis can take the lede, this drops down into the realm of personal editorial.

The irony in this analysis is that Trump is arguably the person trying hardest to lead all Americans, and he gets rejected by both sides for his attempts, mainly because leading America is impossible. The middle ground from where recent presidents have led has disappeared.

Making things even more difficult:

Chicago Tribune:
Silicon Valley significantly escalated its war on white supremacy this week, choking off the ability of hate groups to raise money online, removing them from Internet search engines, and preventing some sites from registering at all.

The new moves go beyond censoring individual stories or posts. Tech companies such as Google, GoDaddy and PayPal are now reversing their hands-off approach about content supported by their services and making it much more difficult for "alt-right" organizations to reach mass audiences.

But the actions are also heightening concerns over how tech companies are becoming the arbiters of free speech in America. And in response, right-wing technologists are building parallel digital services that cater to their own movement., a social network for promoting free speech, was founded in August 2016 by Silicon Valley engineers alienated by the region's liberalism. Other conservatives have founded Infogalactic, a Wikipedia for the alt-right, as well as crowdfunding tools Hatreon and WeSearchr. The latter was used to raise money for James Damore, a white engineer who was fired after criticizing Google's diversity policy.

"If there needs to be two versions of the Internet so be it," tweeted Wednesday morning. The company's spokesman, Utsav Sanduja, later warned of a "revolt" in Silicon Valley against the way tech companies are trying control the national debate.

"There will be another type of Internet who is run by people politically incorrect, populist, and conservative," Sanduja said.
The Left is making a lot of white supremacist martyrs by attacking their free speech rights.

In other news...

Fox News:
Oregon has passed the nation’s most progressive abortion bill, requiring state insurers to provide free abortions for all, including illegal immigrants.

Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, signed the historic health bill Tuesday, after the Legislature approved it in July. It would require Oregon insurance companies to cover reproductive procedures, all on the taxpayers' dime.

The $10.2 million bill takes effect immediately, allocating $500,000 for abortions for the estimated 22,873 women eligible under the Oregon health plan, the Washington Times reported. This will include abortions for immigrants who are otherwise ineligible under the state’s Medicaid program.
Congratulations Oregon! Not only will the genocide of unborn humans continue, but you will pay for it too! Which side of the political divide is the Nazis again?

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Wednesday Wisdom: Martin Luther King Jr.

(hat tip to Biography for the pic)

"How do you go about loving your enemies? I think the first thing is this: In order to love your enemies, you must begin by analyzing self. And I’m sure that seems strange to you, that I start out telling you this morning that you love your enemies by beginning with a look at self. It seems to me that that is the first and foremost way to come to an adequate discovery to the how of this situation. … some people aren’t going to like you. They’re going to dislike you, not because of something that you’ve done to them, but because of various jealous reactions and other reactions that are so prevalent in human nature. But after looking at these things and admitting these things, we must face the fact that an individual might dislike us because of something that we’ve done deep down in the past, some personality attribute that we possess, something that we’ve done deep down in the past and we’ve forgotten about it; but it was that something that aroused the hate response within the individual. That is why I say, begin with yourself. There might be something within you that arouses the tragic hate response in the other individual.

"...A second thing that an individual must do in seeking to love his enemy is to discover the element of good in his enemy, and everytime you begin to hate that person and think of hating that person, realize that there is some good there and look at those good points which will over-balance the bad points.

"...Another way that you love your enemy is this: When the opportunity presents itself for you to defeat your enemy, that is the time which you must not do it. There will come a time, in many instances, when the person who hates you most, the person who has misused you most, the person who has gossiped about you most, the person who has spread false rumors about you most, there will come a time when you will have an opportunity to defeat that person. It might be in terms of a recommendation for a job; it might be in terms of helping that person to make some move in life. That’s the time you must do it. That is the meaning of love. In the final analysis, love is not this sentimental something that we talk about. It’s not merely an emotional something. Love is creative, understanding goodwill for all men. It is the refusal to defeat any individual. When you rise to the level of love, of its great beauty and power, you seek only to defeat evil systems. Individuals who happen to be caught up in that system, you love, but you seek to defeat the system.

"...I think the first reason that we should love our enemies, and I think this was at the very center of Jesus’ thinking, is this: that hate for hate only intensifies the existence of hate and evil in the universe. If I hit you and you hit me and I hit you back and you hit me back and go on, you see, that goes on ad infinitum. It just never ends. Somewhere somebody must have a little sense, and that’s the strong person.

"...Somewhere somebody must have some sense. Men must see that force begets force, hate begets hate, toughness begets toughness. And it is all a descending spiral, ultimately ending in destruction for all and everybody. Somebody must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate and the chain of evil in the universe. And you do that by love.

"...There’s another reason why you should love your enemies, and that is because hate distorts the personality of the hater. We usually think of what hate does for the individual hated or the individuals hated or the groups hated. But it is even more tragic, it is even more ruinous and injurious to the individual who hates. You just begin hating somebody, and you will begin to do irrational things. You can’t see straight when you hate. You can’t walk straight when you hate. You can’t stand upright. Your vision is distorted. There is nothing more tragic than to see an individual whose heart is filled with hate. He comes to the point that he becomes a pathological case. For the person who hates, you can stand up and see a person and that person can be beautiful, and you will call them ugly. For the person who hates, the beautiful becomes ugly and the ugly becomes beautiful. For the person who hates, the good becomes bad and the bad becomes good. For the person who hates, the true becomes false and the false becomes true. That’s what hate does. You can’t see right. The symbol of objectivity is lost. Hate destroys the very structure of the personality of the hater. [...] when you start hating anybody, it destroys the very center of your creative response to life and the universe; so love everybody. Hate at any point is a cancer that gnaws away at the very vital center of your life and your existence. It is like eroding acid that eats away the best and the objective center of your life. So Jesus says love, because hate destroys the hater as well as the hated."

--Martin Luther King Jr., from "Loving Your Enemies" in 1957

The Ghost of Trayvon Martin: Today's News for August 16th

When Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman came together, it was a case of two people looking for trouble and finding each other. Nothing good ever comes from that.

The Charlottesville protest on Saturday was similar, with a bunch of racists and anti-racists looking for trouble, and finding each other. 

Fights broke out at the protest, and yet only one side, the racists, is called out for the violence. This isn't a defense of racism, but a statement of fact: It takes two people to have a fight, and multiple fights means a lot more than two people. It is easy to point to the racists and say, "Yes, but the only person to die was killed by a racist." But the punches thrown and countered created an environment of violence, where escalation becomes more likely.  

Which leads us to President Trump...

Yahoo News:
US President Donald Trump sparked another political firestorm Tuesday when he doubled down on his initial response to the violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville that ended in bloodshed, saying there was "blame on both sides."

The Republican president -- who one day ago solemnly denounced racism and singled out the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis as "criminals and thugs" -- also hit out at what he called the "alt-left" over the weekend melee.

Trump has faced days of criticism from across the political spectrum over his reaction to Saturday's unrest in the Virginia college town, where a rally by neo-Nazis and white supremacists over the removal of a Confederate statue erupted in clashes with counter-demonstrators.

The violent fracas ended in bloodshed when a 20-year-old suspected Nazi sympathizer, James Fields, plowed his car into a crowd of anti-racism protesters, leaving one woman dead and 19 others injured.

In a rowdy exchange with journalists at Trump Tower in New York, Trump made clear on Tuesday that he was fed up with continued questioning about the issue.

"I think there is blame on both sides," Trump said.

As he spoke, his new White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, a former Marine general, appeared displeased during the president's long tirade, standing rigidly.

"You had a group on one side that was bad, and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. And nobody wants to say that, but I'll say it right now," Trump continued.

"What about the alt-left that came charging... at the, as you say, the alt-right? Do they have any semblance of guilt? (...) There are two sides to a story."

"What about the fact they came charging with clubs in their hands, swinging clubs? Do they have any problem? I think they do. As far as I am concerned, that was a horrible, horrible day,” Trump said.
The response from the Right-wing media:

Fox News:
The White House told allies Tuesday that President Trump was “entirely correct” to blame “both sides” for the protest violence in Charlottesville, fighting back at critics of his response, Fox News has learned.

A memo of talking points obtained by Fox News stated that during his remarks in the lobby of Trump Tower on Tuesday, the president was “entirely correct – both sides of the violence in Charlottesville acted inappropriately, and bear some responsibility.”

The memo also stated that Trump “with no ambiguity” condemned the hate groups that descended upon Charlottesville for the “Unite the Right” rally, and added the president has been “a voice for unity and calm,” and that he’s “taking swift action to hold violent hate groups accountable.”

It ended by saying both leaders and the media “should join the president in trying to unite and heal our country rather than incite more division.” The memo was distributed to allies of the White House in an effort to try to get conservatives on board to defend Trump.
And the other side:

It took President Donald Trump two days to condemn by name neo-Nazis, the Klu Klux Klan and white supremacist groups involved in this weekend's bloody clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia.

It took him about half that time to reverse course.

"I think there's blame on both sides. And I have no doubt about it," Trump told reporters Tuesday during a terse, highly combative exchange about the deadly clashes Saturday at the "Unite the Right" rally.

"You had a group on one side that was bad and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent," the President said. "No one wants to say that, but I'll say it right now. You had a group on the other side that came charging in without a permit and they were very, very violent."

It was a moment that the President both seemed to want and to relish.
Actually, Trump's comments didn't "reverse course". It was more of a 45 degree move than a 180 degree. Instead of just blaming the far Right, he is bringing in the far Left for consideration in his condemnation.

Amid his hyperbole, Trump is right here. "Hating the haters" is not a valid counter-response to racism. Martin Luther King Jr. would have told you that.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Tuesday Thoughts: Thomas Sowell

"If you have always believed that everyone should play by the same rules and be judged by the same standards, that would have gotten you labeled a radical 50 years ago, a liberal 25 years ago and a racist today."--Thomas Sowell (in 1998)

Trump Gets the Shaft: Today's News for August 15th

Let me preface this post by saying I am against Donald Trump.

He was not my first choice for president (I voted for Gary Johnson), nor was he my second choice (I would have skipped voting if not for the Libertarian option).

I consider Trump a poor businessman, although good at PR, which is how he managed to get elected president.

I consider Trump's political ideology as "whichever way the wind blows".

I have yet to see any signs of blatant racism from Trump, although he is clearly a misogynist (but he was elected by the American people knowing this about him). Being a "birther" doesn't make Trump a racist, just an idiot.

I consider Trump a petty man, who is second-generation money trying to live up to his father's legacy.

And yet, I find myself in the awkward position of having to defend him.

It seems the Left-wing media has decided to tar and feather him for his response to the Charlottesville incident over the weekend:

President Donald Trump's examination on race is not over, not by a long shot.

Trump finally bent to intense pressure and called out white supremacist groups on Monday, as the fallout from rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia, that led to a woman's death rocked his administration.

But the real Donald Trump is not typically revealed in the Diplomatic Room of the White House, where he made a formal, scripted statement that attempted to manufacture the political space required to move on from the controversy.

Given that Trump's natural habitat is on Twitter or in ad-libbed sparring with reporters, the true measure of his sincerity over Charlottesville will come only when the next racial uproar erupts and the President fires off his heat-of-the-moment response.

That instinctive reflex was what got him into trouble Saturday, when he condemned violence on "many sides," appearing to draw a moral equivalence between neo-Nazis and opponents who showed up to protest their rally.
First, the "opponents" include Antifa, a radical Leftist group that promotes violence at demonstrations, and was there at Charlottesville. Giving the haters on the Left a free pass for what happened Saturday only encourages them, and CNN should be ashamed. There is moral equivalence between anyone who would promote violence in a civilized society, regardless of ideology.

As for what Trump said then, roll the tweet:

According to CNN, this was not good enough. He didn't specify racism, or maybe it was because he didn't say "Nazi", so he gets dinged.

But it isn't just the media turning on Trump:

Fox News:
Brian Krzanich, the CEO of Intel, is leaving President Trump’s manufacturing council, becoming the third high-profile executive to leave the council in an apparent protest over the administration’s response to the deadly Charlottesville violence.

Krzanich made the announcement Monday in an Intel blog post. He said his intention is to "call attention to the serious harm our divided political climate is causing to critical issues, including the serious need to address the decline of American manufacturing. Politics and political agendas have sidelined the important mission of rebuilding America’s manufacturing base.”
Is Trump to blame for this? Our political divide has been around for decades, and has only been made worse in recent years, with the Left getting plenty of blame for this too.

Krzanich’s announcement came after Merck’s CEO Kenneth Frazier and Under Armour’s Kevin Plank also announced that they were leaving the council.

“America’s leaders must honor our fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy, which run counter to the American ideal that all people are created equal,” Frazier said.
What we have here is a very narrow interpretation of what must be said. Condemnation of hatred is not enough. It must also be blessed by the anti-racist powers that be, whoever they are.

Meanwhile, as everyone is watching Trump's torture by the media, this little story slipped past:

Wall Street Journal:
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has decided not to launch a threatened missile attack on Guam, Pyongyang’s state media reported on Tuesday, but warned that he could change his mind “if the Yankees persist in their extremely dangerous reckless actions.”  
...The report, published early Tuesday, could help dial back tensions that had spiraled last week following an exchange of threats between North Korea and U.S. President Donald Trump.

Mr. Trump warned Pyongyang last week that the U.S. military was “locked and loaded” and could engulf the North in “fire and fury,” while North Korea, through its state media, had threatened to fire four missiles in a bid to surround the U.S. territory of Guam in “enveloping fire.”

North Korean state media said in its report Tuesday that Mr. Kim had made his decision not to fire on Guam after visiting a military command post and examining a military plan presented to him by his senior officers.
That report basically stated "we'll get no help from China and we get turned into a parking lot".