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An Evening with Karl Marx: In Which “the Moore” agrees to be Interviewed, Postmortem.

In "I only read WOOF for the interviews!" forum on July 18, 2019 at 8:50 pm

Prologue:
Following our embarrassment back in 2013 [viewable here] when he persuaded us to go ahead with a story based on his psychic surety that Obama’s presidency was doomed to collapse that very year, (which our historically adroit readers will recall it did not), we at WOOF severed ties with our long-time official psychic, Dr. Gootensteiner Johannes Walters, resident of beautiful, historic, Zug, Switzerland,(nestled against the breathtaking azure placidity that is Lake Zug) and for quite some time WOOF’s official seer, prophesier and mystic, was banned from these pages, relieved even of his editorship of ODD, WOOF’s fabled Occult Divination Division, now expertly overseen by Grayson Moseley Straith as part of his duties as editor of our Science and the Paranormal forum.

Doctor Walters

Recently, however, Dr. Walters approached us with an exciting proposal. Reminding us of his (admittedly somewhat innervating) skills as a necromancer and a medium par excellence, he offered us exclusive rights to one of the most astonishing interviews ever conducted—and with the interviewee of cur choice. Why, you may ask, (or may not, we don’t pretend to know) would such an interview provoke astonishment? Because, Goot insisted, it could be with anyone we cared to name–so long as the interviewee was dead. As you might surmise, considerable debate ensued in the WOOF Cave as to whether the Doctor’s proposal was too bizarre to pursue, and simultaneously, concerning which dead person should be chosen in the event we proceeded. We agreed to rule out religious figures because Dr. Walters caused us enough trouble with his Obama predictions, and we knew all too well his methods often affronted orthodox sensibilities–ours included. But after bruiting about several possibilities, we settled on a preference–and in so doing, essentially acquiesced to the project.

Given his tremendous influence on nearly every Democrat presidential contender approaching 2020, the faith placed in his teachings by waves of millennials, his pervasive influence on our entertainment industry (rhetorically, that is, although never practically), and his largely unsung but near total dominance of higher education, we decided on Karl Marx. A fortnight elapsed, and we received word from Goot [Dr. Walters] that the interview was arranged, and that only two conditions obtained: We could ask no more than 20 questions, and we could only send one interviewer. We agreed, and prepared to dispatch a staffer to Switzerland.

Beautiful downtown Zug, Switzerland.

Alex arrives in Zug.

Alex arrives in Zug.

We initially chose a Woofette who was fluent in German. But economic expediency took over once Dr. Walters assured us Marx spoke quite understandable English, on which basis we reassigned the interview to junior-assistant Tech-Elf Alex, because he was already booked on a flight to Bern for entirely unrelated purposes. While this proved a budgetary blessing, it meant handing the responsibility for the interview to a callow youth of 20, whose relative inexperience was worrisome. This in mind, we supplied Alex with a list of 20 questions for Marx, although. in the event, this method met with only partial success.

The redoubtable Mrs. Heffelfinger

It is young Alex’s unshakable testimony and firm belief that he witnessed the shade of Karl Marx summoned in the candlelit ambiance of Dr. Walters’s Victorian parlor,snugged in Zug’s Old Town district at the foot of beautiful Mount Zug. There, at twilight, May 1, 2019, Alex insists he interacted with the ghostly presence of “The Moore,” Karl Marx, and addressed him directly, Unhelpfully, Dr. Walters lapsed into a trance (also observed by Alex) and remembers nothing of the event after Marx’s materialization. The only additional witness apart from Dr. Walters’s cats, Rudolf and Helena, was his loyal secretary of several decades, Mrs. Heffelfinger, who confirmed Marx’s appearance—and who dutifully transcribed the dialogue between Alex and the ghostly presence, she being adept at shorthand, and fluent in English.

What follows, then, is what we believe may well constitute a record of a phenomenal event–an interview conducted by Tech Elf Alex. (last name withheld in deference to his WOOF affiliation and consequent anonymity) and the legendary founder of the sociopolitical-cum-historical philosophy generally known as COMMUNISM! We invite you to judge for yourselves. –Editors

Dr. Walters's study in Zug, scene of interview.

Dr. Walters’s study in Zug, scene of interview.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Alex: Doctor Marx, I can see you—at least I guess it’s you—you look kind of like Brahms.

Marx: Young man, I am most definitely not Brahms—I am, as you clearly perceive, Karl Marx: philosopher, economist, historian, sociologist, political theorist, journalist, New York Tribune columnist, author of Das Kapital, and revolutionary. Brahms was a composer, and I cannot possibly discuss aesthetics in fewer than six or seven lectures, except to be dismissive of Wagner. You are not an admirer of his, I hope?

Alex: Uh—not really….

Marx: I should hope not. His romanticism in the service of what amounts to a total falsification of primitive times is intolerable. Also, it’s nationalistic propaganda—which is a betrayal of the potential of the musical arts. Brahms? You said Brahms? I prefer Beethoven, Mozart, and Handel. Engels liked Wagner; can you believe it? I couldn’t cure him of it!

By way of comparison, Johannes Brahms. Maybe Alex had a point, but not much of one.

Alex: Okay.

Marx: You also don’t need to call me “doctor,” I am not reliant on such elitist honorifics.

Alex: Okay. I’m sorry—I thought I read where you were in the Doctors’ club, or…

Marx: The Docktors Club? Ha! That club was for students! I joined while I was convalescing in Stralau—having been diagnosed with a weak chest. It was a good group of young scholars devoted to the philosophy of Hegel—are you familiar with Hegel’s works?

Alex: Well, I….

Marx: They say I plagiarized Hegel—can you plagiarize a man whose thought you amplified to cover the entire span of socioeconomic oppression through the ages, and in greater detail than his philosophies ever touched upon? So did you say you are familiar with Hegel?

Alex: Well, no, ….I…

Marx: No? You must begin at once—pick up his Science of Knowledge, young man—but be warned, his metaphysics are deficient and mystical to a fault—No, it is his pure theory of dialectics you must grasp—because it will assist you in grasping my own theory of dialectical materialism.

Alex: The dialectical part—that’s what they say you sort of stole….

Marx: Liars! That is the part I perfected and trimmed of its gauzy esotericism! It formed the perfect backbone of my thinking—it permitted me to demonstrate the inevitability of the revolution of the proletariat, not to mention….

Hegel–who regardless of the dialectics controversy, doesn’t seem to resemble Brahms at all.

Alex: So I’m sorry, I didn’t know you weren’t really a doctor– and as for the revol–

Marx: Did I say I wasn’t? I said I abjure such bourgeois titles. If you must know, then, I earned a doctorate in philosophy in 1841 from the University of Berlin. Quite an accomplishment, by the way, given that even then the bourgeois state and its functionaries in the academy were set against me—determined as they were to obstruct any scholar who embraced Hegelian dialectics as a revolutionary philosophy! Also, I must admit I was pretty drunk most of the time in those days, which marginally impeded my—

Alex: Drunk? I never thought of you as–

Marx: Well of course, I overcame that defect. Mostly. But at the time I was somewhat prone to the bottle, and prone to getting into quarrels about philosophy, politics, religion, society—yes, I was quite outspoken. One might even say insolent. Back in Bonn I was tossed in jail for drinking and disturbing the peace. That’s also when I fought that duel.

Alex: I didn’t know you were ever in a duel!

Marx: Almost two of them–even three. The first time, I was drunk enough to show up—and the martinet who challenged me nearly killed me—he nicked the side of my eye—so, of course, I missed him completely. The other time was in England—I was supposed to duel someone on behalf of Engels, but I didn’t show up—why risk it, given the importance of my survival to the workers of the world? And just as a point of history, I was challenged also to a third duel by some idiot Prussian named Willich.  I declined, but a friend dueled Willich on my behalf and was wounded for his troubles. Anyway, after the dueling got out of hand, my father enrolled me at the University of Berlin because he wanted me to study law.

Karl Marx, reluctant gunfighter.

Alex: So, I guess you learned about law at that point…

Marx: Law? The law is mask for the enrichment of the holders of the means of production! The invalid erection of statutes serving only to protect bourgeois property…which is improperly called property, but never fear! The very autocracy that creates the chimera of law shall prove the means by which communism advances. It’s dialectically inevitable, but since you don’t understand dialectics, I suppose there’s no point in my continuing. Anyway, yes, I received a degree in law—big deal–a reward from the bourgeoisie for imbibing the juridical pretexts empowering the ruling class!

Alex: But I—I’d like to know about…

Marx: About how I evolved my critique of the bourgeoisie? Of course! It depended a lot on where I was, because I got thrown out of a lot of places. I think one of first breakthroughs was in France—there was this guy, Bruno Bauer, a Hegelian and a mentor to me in the early days—you’ve heard of him?

Alex: Umm…possibly not—

Marx: No matter. Bauer is unimportant, except as a transitional figure whose misconceptions found antithesis in my correct ones. I first noticed he was wrong about Jews—he wrote this completely absurd tract about how Jews could become politically emancipated in Prussia—but he didn’t understand Jews at all—he failed to grasp that Jews are not understandable in a religious context—they can only be understood economically.

Bruno Bauer,–getting Jews all wrong, apparently even Jesus.

Alex:: Really?

Marx: Is that your first question?

Alex: No, no—I just meant, I always thought part of being Jewish was religion—maybe—

Marx: Ach, you’re as hopeless as Bauer! The real Jew is not understood through his religion, but rather by the real secret of his religion!

Alex: You mean, like—the Kabbalah?

Marx: Ach, that is such a stupid question, I won’t count it either. No, of course not—mysticism and transcendence are absurdities—they can never lead to truth—they only distort it in order to make it seem bearable to the masses—they are a principle tool of oppression!! The secret of the Jew, as I wrote in my essay–which you obviously haven’t read–is his practical need, his self-interest. What is the worldly religion of the Jew? Huckstering! What is his worldly God? Money! His god is only an illusory bill of exchange…. The chimerical nationality of the Jew is the nationality of the merchant, of the man of money in general…of capitalism! And then, I ended with this really snappy line, where I explained that in the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism! A little dialectical humor, get it?

Alex: But aren’t you Jewish?

Marx: All right, hold it right there, my young friend! Your inappropriate fixation on my lineage is irrelevant to matters fit for philosophical discussion, but since you’ve introduced the subject, let me just say, for your information, neither of my parents was a Jew!

Alex: Really? I–

Marx: Really! They both converted to Protestantism! And I? I, sir, was baptized Lutheran!

Karl Marx, lifelong Lutheran–nevertheless keeping company here with a well known Jew.

Alex: So–umm–

Marx: I can show you Jews, young man! Take that embarrassment to the socialist cause, that ignoramus Lassalle—

Alex: Who? Or wait—did that count as a question?

Marx: It certainly does not count as a question, for the simple reason that Lassalle doesn’t count as a human being—that repulsive combination of Jewry and negroid substance—that’s what I called him, and rightly so!

Alex:: I’m confused—he was Black, this Lasalle guy….but he was–

Marx: Not entirely, but you could see it in him—not just his simian cranial shape, either! His pushiness was also [N-word deleted]-like…

Ferdinand Lasalle–called “simian” by the Interviewee… not by us!

Alex: Oh! Uh, sir…sir, I think we have a policy against racist terminology, I don’t know if…

Marx: Das ist blödsinn! Your corporate overseers may indulge themselves in all the bourgeois conventions they like, young man, but you will find my remarks on Lasalle quoted in all the most important compendia of history’s great thoughts and thinkers! They wouldn’t dare deny my voice– and I was quite vocal about Lasalle! It was completely clear to me that he, as is proved by his cranial formation and his hair, descended from–very well–let us simply say Negroes, isn’t that the current bourgeois idiom?.

Alex: Uh—not really, but meanwhile, you were telling me how you came up with Communism.

Marx: Well! First, let us define our terms, since philology is essential to intellectual accuracy—that is, once relieved of capitalist distortions and falsities—so, in the interest of linguistic clarity, Communism is the philosophical, social, political, and economic ideology and movement whose ultimate goal is the establishment of the communist society, which is a socioeconomic order structured upon the common ownership of the means of production and the absence of social classes and money.

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Lionesses of the Left: Where are They Today? (The Cindy Sheehan Story)

In "It's witch in the afternoon" forum on June 22, 2019 at 3:54 pm

Who, today, remembers the apogee of Cindy Sheehan–or, for that matter, remembers her at all? No, gentle readers, we have not resorted to annoying you with pop quizzes. Herewith, our first in a series of tributes to legendary ladies of the political Left, presented this time around with the following mnemonic stimulus: Cindy Sheehan occupied the screens of cable newscasts earlier this century as omnipresently as does, say, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez today. After her son Casey was killed in action in Iraq, Sheehan determined to honor his memory by becoming an anti-war activist. She gained immediate fame, mainly for camping out in proximity to wherever George W. Bush happened to be at any given time while reciting increasingly shrill anti-war shibboleths to reporters who clustered about her like flies on a sugar cube. But Sheehan’s sugar cube may have been akin to the variety hippies once called “electric.” Evidence of her divorcement from reality grew in tandem with her media exposure. Her early protests, voiced as reasoned, rationally expressed arguments against the war, quickly deteriorated into radical diatribes, and the more attention these garnered, the more Sheehan’s bombast degenerated.

Despite a pleasant and mutually respectful meeting with President Bush, Sheehan soon began second-guessing the matter, envisioning a rematch in which she promised to overwhelm Bush, challenging him to “tell me, what the noble cause is that my son died for. And if he even starts to say freedom and democracy, I’m gonna say, bullsh*t. You tell me the truth. You tell me that my son died for oil. You tell me that my son died to make your friends rich…. You tell me that, you don’t tell me my son died for freedom and democracy.” Wisely, “W” resisted issuing Cindy a second invitation. Unruffled, she moved on to tax resistance, a form of virtue signaling so rare among liberals that a cynic might have inferred a hint of niggardliness. According to Sheehan, though, her mounting IRS debt symbolized her resolve to end the war. “I feel like I gave my son to this country in an illegal and immoral war,” she told reporters, “And, so, if they can give me my son back, then I’ll pay my taxes.” But the IRS (which remained unresponsive regarding Sheehan’s proposed swap) was not alone in demanding a cut of her stash. Her husband, Patrick, filed for divorce, citing “irreconcilable differences” including differences over Cindy’s decision to cut him out of the government payments disbursed to the family following their son’s death in battle.

The Peace Mom, ascending…

Dubbed “the Peace Mom” by applausive cable-news prattlers, and named “The Rosa Parks of the anti-war movement” by Lennox Yearwood, Jr. (about whom the less said the better), Sheehan founded Gold Star Families for Peace, which in turn funded TV commercials–which in turn featured Sheehan. On Hardball she exchanged flummeries with Chris Matthews. On NPR she was praised in hushed,  pseudo-Brythonic tones. John McCain, never one to give forethought precedence over impulse, invited her into his office for a heart-to-heart, after which “the Peace Mom” denounced McCain as “a warmonger.” Urged to expatiate, she added that President Bush was “the biggest terrorist in the world, worse than Osama Bin Laden,” and declared she would prefer living under Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez—but instead of renouncing her citizenship, she moved to Berkeley, California…we will forego the obvious remarks.

Okay, Bush already met with Cindy, but she wanted him to do it until she got it right.

Arrogance abroad….

Sheehan did, in fact, take her act abroad. In the grand tradition of useful idiot-ism, she visited Caracas and paid her respects to Hugo Chavez, thanking him for “supporting life and peace.” By way of underscoring this support, Chavez put his arm around Sheehan and exhorted activists worldwide to “help bring down the U.S. empire.” Following a private one-on-one with the chubby despot, Cindy revealed Chavez had advised her to run for president in the U.S. “I was impressed with his sincerity,”she added.

With Hugo in Caracas–all about love and peace!.

Nobel prize winning playwright Dario Fo; we have no idea either.

Next, Cindy showed up in London, where she was lauded (in authentically Brythonic tones) by BBC newsreaders, after which she addressed something called the International Peace Conference–a Labourite event that generated no appreciable effects on peace anywhere. From there she was whisked off by chauffeured limousine to attend a performance of “Peace Mom,” a hagiographic stage play about Sheehan, penned by Nobel Laureate Dario Fo (we never heard of him either). Cindy gave “Peace Mom” a rave review, and then hopped a flight across the Irish Sea, stopping at Shannon Airport long enough to harangue Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern (who was kind enough to greet her upon landing). “Your government,” she told Ahern, “even though they didn’t send troops to Iraq, are complicit in the crimes by allowing the planes to land and refuel.” Ahern’s response is lost to history, although Ireland’s criminal complicity continued unabated. Returning home, Sheehan produced not one, but two books (in what seemed preternaturally short order), reprised her D.C. arrest by tying herself to the White House fence, and proceeded, upon release, to the Capitol Building where she was arrested a third time (but for the first time by the Capital Police) for attempting to crash the state-of-the-union address.

Cindy endures martyrdom for the cause–did they take it this well in Selma?

So, what happened to Cindy Sheehan? How did her widely heralded crusade for world peace evanesce into a memory so dim, it requires WOOF to revivify it in this premier entry of our exiting new  Lionesses of the Left series? Explanations are not readily forthcoming, or rather, those available are mainly inadequate, inaccurate, or sophistic in the extreme.  For instance, displaying that magnitude of subliminally-driven avoidance that invariably afflicts the liberal press whenever accurately describing the facts would betray its own accountability, USA Today reported that Sheehan vanished from the scene because “Instead of focusing on issues where an increasing number of Americans agree with her, she disappeared into fringe politics.” But that, dear readers, is abject hooey–and an example of media twistedness we’ll revisit in the conclusion of this article. Suffice it for now that Sheehan immersed herself in fringe politics almost from the beginning and rose to media stardom by raging against the values and sensibilities of “an increasing number of Americans.” It was only once she radicalized her gabble that the media made her a star. Why these same forces ultimately cast her aside will never be detailed in the pages of USA Today, or by any other establishment rag. That, gentle readers, is why our rag is here.

A somewhat retiring figure….

While Sheehan played no conscious role in her downfall, she hastened it unwittingly through a series of markedly imprudent miscalculations. Prey to that form of  impulsivity that is particularly ill-suited to chess and politics, she repeatedly followed her instincts, which repeatedly betrayed her, and for reasons she grasped too late in the game. The first instance came as the dazzlingly acclamatory publicity surrounding her early efforts took a modest downturn–a clearly cyclical diminishment any media-savvy analyst might have predicted.  Sheehan, however, reacted to the dip in coverage like an addict in the throes of withdrawal. Persuaded that only drastic action could avert her movement’s demise, (and restore her flagging notoriety) she  cast about for an attention grabber–something different and newsworthy enough to generate fresh headlines. Drawing on a staple of the entertainment industry, she unleashed the manipulative power of feigned retirement.

Coming out….

To officialize the event in an authoritative venue, Cindy turned to no less a medium of record than the Daily Kos, informing its readers of her resignation as the “face of the American antiwar movement,” in order, she said, to resume domestic life and devote herself to mothering her “surviving children.” This created the desired shockwave, all right, but once that wave swept the establishment’s news crawls, attention once again withered.  After a news cycle spent spotlighting the “Peace Mom’s” ostentatious withdrawal from active activism, the ever-myopic media leviathan lumbered onward, quickly forgetful of the Cindy Sheehan story. So the retirement ploy was a bust, but reversing it presented a challenge. Sinatra, Streisand—even Eminem and Alec Baldwin, enjoyed the option of ascribing their returns to popular demand—but Sheehan wasn’t dealt that card; the masses seemed content to stumble along without her guidance. Absent anything resembling popular outcry, Sheehan intuited (and not un-incisively) that some irresistible provocation was needed to legitimate her reappearance. Some colossal affront—preferably emanating from the Bush administration–a perversion of justice or some militaristic aggression so vile–so fascistic–so arrogant–as to impel the Peace Mom’s return to public life. But if Cindy’s tactical calculations seemed uncharacteristically workable, her patience proved unequal to the task.

The Scooter Infamy

The detestable Libby–look at those beady eyes!

One cannot play the mythic hero absent an equivalently epic challenge. Every Beowulf needs a Grendel, every Cú Cuchulain a Lugaid. In this instance, however, Cindy Sheehan was in too great a hurry to wait around for the ideal nemesis to pop up–and the best she could produce on short notice was the hapless Scooter Libby. Libby, it may (or may not) be remembered, was an official in the Bush White House whose misfortune it was to be Vice President Cheney’s chief of staff during the media-confected Valerie Plame scandal. Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald (an earlier avatar of Robert Mueller) was charged with tracking down whichever un-American rapscallion leaked Valerie Plame’s CIA affiliation (an affiliation known even to her neighbors, and announced by her husband at every upscale Georgetown dinner event) to the press.

The “outed” Valerie Plame: “I’m the victim here!”

After spending part of 2004 and most of 2005 feeding “evidence” to his grand jury, throwing reporters in jail for refusing to testify, and pretending he didn’t know all along  that Richard L. Armitage was the inadvertent leaker, or that Plame’s CIA work was non-clandestine, Fitzgerald caught Libby in a perjury trap–albeit one so feeble it required sending Libby to prison for failing to remember details that Fitzgerald psychically divined Libby did, in fact, remember, and therefore must have lied about forgetting.  Ignoring the probation office’s recommendation that Libby receive home confinement, the prosecution insisted on prison where Libby languished until Bush finally got around to commuting his sentence. (Just recently, Donald Trump fully pardoned him.)

Treachery, left and right!

Et tu, Nancy?

But according to Cindy Sheehan, Bush’s pusillanimous commutation of Libby’s sentence was tantamount to treason, and treason so vile as to necessitate the Peace Mom’s return to the public arena, there to rejoin the battle against the resurgent forces of tyranny. Announcing her return to reporters already struggling to recall her previous exploits, Sheehan fiercely defended her decision , announcing “I believe that when George Bush commuted Scooter Libby’s sentence for a crime that he was complicit in, he committed treason.” Noting, perhaps, that even the most leftward among the assembled newshounds appeared baffled, Cindy drove her point home, explaining, “a president can commute sentences, a president can pardon people, but not when they are involved in the crime.” Feet shuffled–throats cleared–Cindy pressed on: “I believe that Nancy Pelosi committed treason when she took impeachment off the table,” she rasped. “You cannot ignore our constitution. And not only that, they have also been going against the constitution by approving torture, which goes against the Eighth Amendment, by approving spying on us without warrants, which goes against the Fourth Amendment….” and so on.

Like in Venezuela!

Sheehan ally McKinney–helping the U.S. become Venezuela.

Support was meager from the outset. Political backing came chiefly from the infamously addlepated Cynthia McKinney who exited congress to seek the Green Party’s presidential nomination, and failing that, appeared with Sheehan at a San Francisco demonstration, bellowing, “We have an opportunity to learn from countries where people power has stepped up and through the power of the ballot they have changed things, like in Venezuela…”

Hugo goes soft on the Evil Empire….

“I don’t know what the book is yet, Valerie–the man won’t let go of my finger!” 

But even Venezuela was adjusting its rhetoric, sensitive to the imminent departure of “W” and the nearly inevitable ascension of Barack Hussein Obama. In the event, it bears noting, Chavez (who claimed to smell brimstone whenever Bush was in the vicinity) greeted the Bamster with a fraternal embrace and handed him a copy of “The Open Veins of Latin America” a gongoristic denunciation of U.S. imperialism by the Uruguayan communist Eduardo Galeano.  Obama, whose Marxist roots were primarily African, didn’t recognize it. “I thought it was one of Chavez’s books,” he told reporters, “I was going to give him one of mine.” Vintage Bamster, right? But The New Yorker called it “a quip,” and one of the many “good lines” Obama “got in” during his hug fest with the Venezuelan despot.  Point being: nobody was saying anything critical of America’s first Marxist in those early days, except for a handful of contemptible fringe figures–Rush Limbaugh, and his Neanderthal ilk. Cindy Sheehan, however, didn’t get the memo. A flaw peculiar to clinical narcissists is a level of self-absorption that inures them at times to even those rudimentary tactical insights accessible to the average schoolyard bully (like Hugo Chavez, come to think of it). Hitler invaded Russia. Commodus thought he could outfight champion gladiators in the Colosseum.  And Cindy Sheehan decided to attack everyone at once.

Commodus enters the arena! (More gumption than common sense.)

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Keeping up with the Universe (or) Why “Settled Science” needs a “New Physics!”

In "The World Turned Upside Down" forum on May 26, 2019 at 2:08 pm


In which WOOF’s editor in chief, Old Bugler, expresses his up-to-the-minute-if-frustratingly-excursive views on nothing but 100% guaranteed genuine news, mostly in the annoyingly officious third-person, as befits his station!   

 Too apolitical you say? They asked your humble editor to submit a critique of the “Green New Deal,” but he refused. Anyone more intellectually gifted than a hamster can spot the idiocies with which that particular travesty is brimful, so devoting a column to their itemization amounts to shooting fish in the proverbial barrel; unsporting, boresome–a profligate expenditure of spleen. Instead, Old Bugler sets fingers to Woodstock to peck out a review of something famously intelligent: settled science, and its handling of a topic that directly affects all of us—the universe. As every high school student would know if it weren’t for the NEA, CommonCore, and the Department of Education, the consensus among astrophysicists has, for nearly a century now, maintained that our universe started with a Big Bang and has been expanding ever since—settled science at its most immutable–and dull. But recent events have taken a turn for the dramatic.

Apparently, a majority of Americans under 35 identify the Big Bang Theory as a television comedy, rather than as an astrophysical hypothesis. Perhaps the NEA isn’t all bad.

When the universe stood still….

Einstein originally believed the universe was reliably static. In keeping with the commonsense assumption that the mutual gravitation of all matter would naturally cause the universe to contract, he speculated that we were saved from cosmic implosion by some mysterious force that counteracted the compressive impulse, thus creating stasis. In other words, the universe was stable and —pleasantly enough—eternal. Einstein called this “the cosmological constant,” and for a while, this was settled science because—well—Einstein. But Einstein, we are nowadays assured, miscalculated because, as the Encyclopedia Britannica rather snarkily asserts, “he was not well acquainted with recent work in astronomy.”

When the universe started moving…

Vesto-Slipher: discoverer of Einstein’s greatest blunder.

Einstein’s rookie error was uncovered by American astronomer Vesto M. Sliphe, after he more rigorously measured the radial velocities of spiral nebulae. (The lay reader is encouraged to accept the result as decisive–mainly in lieu of the space-consuming complexities otherwise necessary for its confirmation, and particularly because Einstein acknowledged the error, calling it–by most accounts–his “greatest blunder,” or at least the greatest one he knew about.) Many experts ignored the retraction, however, and remained wedded to the cosmological constant, persuaded, in other words, that Einstein was right before he incorrectly decided he was wrong. The universe was supposed to be static, and several astronomers went to considerable lengths to keep it that way. In 1917, the Dutch mathematician Willem de Sitter announced his own proof of a static cosmology, different from Einstein’s, by calculating  a correlation between distance and redshift. Redshift, for the dismally uninformed, refers to a phenomenon whereby electromagnetic radiation (such as light) undergoes an increase in wavelength. There is also blueshift, but most WOOF readers will immediately apprehend that redshift is better.

Willem de Sitter, explaining to Einstein why he was right all along, but for the wrong reasons.

The universe’s legal age….

In 1927 Belgian physicist Georges Lemaitre published his study of Doppler shifts of the spiral nebulae as evidence of cosmic expansion, and first postulated the Big Bang–but everyone ignored him. Lemaitre received his due only once astronomy grew less resistant to the expansionist theory, mainly after 1929 when Edwin Hubble showed a linear relationship between distance and the aforementioned redshift, from which he inferred our cosmic velocity. Hubble’s formulations were soon pronounced “Hubble’s law,” which, among other points inconsequential to this discussion, allowed Hubble to estimate the age of the universe as two billion years. This figure, being lawfully derived, enjoyed the status of settled science until other scientists with different proclivities determined that Earth itself was at least 4.5 billion years old. In that era, before the validity of two clearly contradictory findings could be simultaneously defended by evoking quantum physics, logic seemed to discommend Hubble’s Law– but no one hurried to abandon it. The fault, experts agreed, was not in Hubble’s reliance on the distance-redshift equation, but traceable in all likelihood to some glitch buried deep in his formidable computations. The Law, in other words, was correct, but would be more correct after some minor adjustments.

Georges Lemaitre, Big-Banging before anyone believed Catholic priests could do physics.

Trouble with Hubble….

Walter Baade–rethinking galactic distances.

Fortunately, in the nick of time–as it were–American astronomer Walter Baade discovered Hubble’s trouble, (the silly goose had underestimated galactic distances). Then, In 1948, Ralph Alpher’s landmark dissertation injected nuclear physics into cosmology, one consequence of which was the ascendancy of the previously underappreciated Big Bang Theory. While generative of numerous fresh insights, equations, and derivative postulates, the theory also had the unfortunate effect of requiring scientists to demonstrate how something burst forth out of nothing, which they frankly admitted they couldn’t—although they retained the theory on the premise that sooner or later they’d come up with an explanation. In the meantime, thinkers like Akash Peshin at Science ABC kept the religiomanics at bay by laughing to derision the notion that some deity had preexisted and perhaps even induced the “bang,” explaining in clear, scientific terms that, “The answer, at least right now…is… we simply don’t know. What we can say is, apparently, there is something rather than nothing.” Try to keep up, Christians.

Actual historic photo of the Big Bang, captured just as it created the universe–and they laughed at us for saving all those old LIFE magazines!

Allan Sandage said “Astronomers may have found the first effect, but not… the first cause sought by Anselm and Aquinas.” Obviously, he wasn’t smart like Akash Peshin.

By 1953, Hubble’s former assistant Allan Sandage, embarrassed, perhaps, by his boss’s misidentification of gaseous nebulae as single stars, recalculated Hubble’s formula. His results hiked the age of the universe to 3.6 billion years, still frustratingly short of the earth’s known age, meaning wrong.  Undaunted, Sandage recalculated, this time incorporating an additional (and, some thought, suspiciously-arbitrary) 1.5-fold increase which produced a more satisfactory result of 5.5 billion years. Still, many experts took exception, arguing that Sandage’s figure remained implausibly low. Decades ensued during which astronomers and astrophysicists battled over what, in fact, the “cosmic constant” really was, or ought to be, and how best to apply it to the dimensions of the cosmos. Finally, however, came the arrival of the Lambda-CDM model, ushering in a welcome era of stability during which order was restored to the turbulent cosmos–just as Edwin Hubble envisioned it–well, mutatis mutandis.

One way you can tell Hubble’s Law was correct the whole time is: They put Hubble on a postage stamp! They don’t do that unless you’re correct. For instance, there are no Immanuel Velikovsky postage stamps. Think about it!

Lambda, Lambda, Big Bang!

Highest resolution photo to date of Dark Matter in our galaxy. Did we mention you can’t actually see Dark Matter? That’s because it’s theoretic.

The Lambda CDM model recalibrated the cosmological constant by factoring in such avant-garde concepts as vacuum effects in space, dubbed “dark energy,” and their equally-theoretic counterpart, dark matter—not to mention non-baryonic dark matter (which is colder, supposedly, than garden-variety dark matter). Skipping over the complexities, the findings were summed up nicely by science writer and Chambliss Achievement Award-winning astronomer, R. Jay GaBany, who wrote: “An overwhelming weight of evidence has convinced cosmologists that the Universe came into existence at a definite moment in time, some 13.6 billion years ago, in the form of a…fireball of energetic radiation known as the Big Bang event.” (Actually, the figure more frequently given is 13.7 billion, but why quibble with a man bold enough to go on record asserting our universe began “at a definite moment in time?”) The corresponding velocity of expansion was found to be 44 miles per second per megaparsec (don’t ask), settling the precise value of the long-disputed “constant” to almost everyone’s satisfaction.

Unsettling Science from The Edge

The EDGE newspaper, breaking a cosmic bombshell! (And the “I’m on a Boat!” story looks pretty compelling, too, we think.)

And there the matter rested, or one might say settled, until one of our contributors here at WOOF forgot to bring a book with him to college. This was significant because our contributor was about to administer final exams to several sections of psychology undergrads, meaning he would need something to read while his students pondered and scribbled.  In the cafeteria lounge, he chanced upon a thin, unprepossessing tabloid titled The Edge. Upon returning to the WOOF cave, our compatriot (having by then read the issue in its entirety numerous times) tossed his crumpled copy on the desk of your humble editor, directing his attention to a specific headline. There, all the more arresting juxtaposed to such frivolities as RED SOX REPORT CARD and AVENGERS ENDGAME:THE END OF AN ERA, the headline NEW STUDY SAYS UNIVERSE YOUNGER AND EXPANDING FASTER, demanded attention, if only because it begged the question: “younger and expanding faster” than what?

No nonsense!

Your amazed editor absorbs the cosmic implications!

Readers may well imagine your editor’s amazement upon discovering that what the universe is now scientifically proven to be “faster and younger” than, is, in fact, itself.  The perceptive reader (tautology hereabouts, we think) will readily apprehend with what sense of urgency Old Bugler scanned this report, authored, (to verbify in the interest of brevity) by Seth Borenstein of the Associated Press. Apparently, and, we think admirably, The Edge holds matters of cosmic magnitude too vital to entrust to staff writers already burdened with updating “The Weekly Time Waster,” reviewing the latest production by the Penobscot Theatre Company, and reporting from the scene of Bangor’s city-wide celebration of Independent Bookstore Day—which we applaud despite being unaware (until now) of the tradition.

Congressman Nadler–if you find the close-up disturbing, bear in mind we tastefully cropped out the rest of him.

All this by way of emphasizing, this is no tall tale confected by sensation-mongering yokels to boost circulation. No indeed. This is authentic science hot from the wires, and more  important, one assumes, than the Green New Deal, or even the latest accusations from such congressional luminaries as the rhotacistically amusing Jerry Nadler.  No, my fellow Americans, these are revelations of literally cosmic significance that affect all of us—or at least all of us who don’t anticipate being dead in 12 years from climate change. Brace yourselves for what follows.

What follows….

Adam Riess–the man who totally bollixed the entire universe. Look at those beady eyes!

Either the universe is expanding faster than it used to, as the AP story maintains, or, to inject an insight that seemingly evaded writer Borenstein, it may have been expanding faster all along. Whichever the case, a new study by Nobel Prize laureate and Johns Hopkins Astronomer, Adam Riess, revealed a rate of expansion almost ten percent faster than previously supposed. This, in turn, led Riess to recalculate the universe’s age, which he found to be a billion years younger than it was when settled science believed it was older than it is now.  But if Riess’s study threatened the canonical status of Hubble’s Constant (as currently calculated), it managed to inspire a fresh consensus among astronomers, namely that his findings were unsettling.

When reality fails….

Given the shocking nature of Reiss’s data, one might expect astronomers and physicists long reliant on the Hubble Constant (often called “the most important number in cosmology”) to greet its disconfirmation with fits of introspective angst—but whether in science, or elsewhere in our vast social matrix, cognitive dissonance continues to be resolved the old fashioned way—by applying whichever intellective adjustments seem least damaging to one’s previous beliefs. In this instance, many astronomers who acknowledged the validity of Reiss’s figures, hypothesized, after carefully reviewing the previously established estimates, that while Reiss’s findings seemed unassailable, so did the calculations supporting the Hubble Constant. Amazingly, Riess agreed, telling a collection of perplexed science writers, “It’s looking more and more like we’re going to need something new to explain this.”

Psychologist Leon Festinger invented “cognitive dissonance” in 1957, and it’s been a problem ever since.

Hubble’s proof of cosmic constancy–it’s pretty straightforward, right?

Readers, by now, will have grasped your editor’s fascination with this story. Consider: When our professorial contributor turned off his bedside lamp the night before testing his university classes, the universe was contentedly broadening its circumference at the established rate of 44 miles per second—a fact confirmed only recently by Dr. Wendy Freedman’s widely acclaimed  “Hubble Space Telescope Key Project on the Extragalactic Distance Scale,” which involved a team of 28 top-notch astronomers, possibly just to name it.

As Yale’s Gruber Foundation stated  in 2009, Freedman’s work underscored the validity of “the Hubble constant, one of the most important measurements in astronomy,” because, “after a painstaking decade-long effort, the team determined the best value of the Hubble constant …enabling scientists to more accurately answer some of the most profound questions about the age, evolution, and composition of the universe.” With an air of tangible satisfaction, not to say smugness, the Grubber report concluded that astronomers could “now confidently state that the universe is approximately 14 billion years old—the same age as the oldest stars,” or as a recent article in Cosmos Magazine affirmed, “…the Hubble Constant is, as the name suggests, constant, and…the rate at which the universe is expanding is the same today as it was pretty much 14 billion years ago.” But those were the good old days.

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When Sainthood Fails: The Flawed Apotheosis of John McCain

In "April is the cruelest month" forum on April 28, 2019 at 2:44 pm

Few Americans noticed recently when a movement to rename the oldest Senate office building collapsed.. The effort was the brainchild of Chuck Schumer. Driven by what appeared to be uncontainable grief, he tweeted: “Nothing will overcome the loss of Senator McCain; but so that generations remember him I will be introducing a resolution to rename the Russell building after him.” This was, of course, the same Chuck Schumer who previously raged against McCain’s “Five-hundred dollar shoes,” decried his lack of empathy “with the plight of the average person,” and who, during the congressional bail-out mania of 2007, characterized McCain’s suspension of his presidential campaign to resume his senatorial duties as “nothing more than a prolonged photo op” during which, Schumer grumbled, McCain contributed nothing “except for an occasional, unhelpful statement.” Now, gripped by an anguish too painful, apparently, to conceal, Schumer recalled a different John McCain…the saintly McCain—the incomparable statesman whose tragic loss rendered not only Schumer, but every news anchor, politico, editorialist, and show-business personality in America, utterly bereft.

Renaming the building was genius. Republicans would approve because McCain was, after all, a Republican;, and one whose tendency to break ranks with his party seemed oddly representative of the GOP’s weakness for breaking ranks with its electorate. Democrats would approve because McCain’s style of bipartisanship reliably advanced the progressive agenda. Besides, the building in question—an elegant triangular edifice in the Beaux-Arts style—was ripe for a nomenclatural sandblasting, being named for Democratic icon Richard Russell Jr.–a diehard segregationist whose bigoted legislative record recalls a political lineage Democrats prefer nowadays to conceal.

“Ha! Here I stand, while them idiots is out knockin’ over statues of Kate Smith!”

User sabotage–again!

But the impulse died aborning. Schumer’s resolution never gained traction, probably because he never actually bothered introducing it. Ultimately, the only institution to officialize the name change was Google, which impishly contrived to have all searches for the Russell Building return information about “the McCain Senate Office Building,” until the resultant confusion incurred waves of protest, whereupon Google dropped the effort and blamed the matter on “user sabotage.”

The Russell Senate Office Building–briefly renamed by GOOGLE-invading saboteurs.

The principled conservative…

Schumer’s beau geste fizzled for the same reason McCain’s secular sainthood proved ephemeral: The nation’s brief bout of McCain-o-mania sprang from an unholy alliance of  Democratic Leftists, GOP moderates, and disenfranchised conservatives, bound by a common appreciation of McCain’s postmortem utility as a foil to Donald Trump. In life, McCain’s usefulness to liberals stemmed from his fondness for “going maverick,” or rather, for thumbing his nose at his party’s leadership and swerving leftwards. If death lowered the curtain on his legislative rascality, it afforded the Senator a brief afterlife as a makeshift heirogram–an effigy held aloft to rally the righteous and depose the Great Usurper. Saintly McCain became the Anti-Trump—the “principled conservative”–always poised to spring across the aisle to engineer some new compromise thwarting border security, upholding Obamacare, frustrating the Christian Right, advancing Gay marriage, or combating planetary destruction.

One swampy morning….

Nothing says “kumbaya” like a good funeral!

Put another way, McCain was cast as  Ahura Mazda, Trump as Ahriman. The mythic juxtaposition–light versus darkness–was advanced, implicitly or explicitly, in every media treatment of the Senator’s passing. TIME drove the point home for readers too dimwitted to catch on by themselves, explaining that, “While President Donald Trump had been notably excluded from the [funeral service], it was clear many of the speakers — from both political parties — had him on their minds as they mourned McCain, a political giant who died after a brutal fight with brain cancer.” Just as perceptively, if more giddily, The New Yorker described the funeral as “the biggest resistance meeting yet,” noting it “was all about a rebuke to the pointedly uninvited current President of the United States, which was exactly how McCain had planned it.” Absent, apparently, any awareness of paronomasia, The New Yorker nailed the atmospherics, reporting that McCain’s funeral took place on a “swampy Saturday morning.”

As if…

If death made McCain indispensable in the short term, it also ended his usefulness as a walking, talking media prop.  Democrats had no real interest in pursuing the man’s deification, and Republicans sensed the inadvisability of affronting 623 million Trump voters.  Newscasters pivoted from hagiography to slander, professing disbelief that even so infamous a bunch of haters as the political Right would deny John McCain—statesman, war hero, champion of Senatorial outreach—praise on the event of his passing. Anchors frowned over remarks about the Senator that seemed insufficiently fulsome, wondering aloud if they constituted “hate speech.” Even Leftist Kelly Hayes recoiled at the uniform saccharinity, “As if telling the full, truthful story of his life and career were an insult to the senator and his loved ones.” As if, for that matter, the point even required “as if.”

Gregory Green-Ass, the early years….

Granddad, Dad, and Gregory Greenass.

McCain’s family was naval–his father and grandfather both four-star admirals. In keeping with expectations, he entered the Naval Academy, graduating 894th in a class of 899. Proceeding to the Pensacola Naval Air Station McCain quickly earned a reputation as “a sub-par flier” and a partier. By his own admission he “did not enjoy the reputation of a serious pilot or an up-and-coming junior officer.” Barely passing flight school, he crashed two airplanes after graduating, and damaged a third.  In Spain, he attempted to fly his A-1 fighter-bomber between a pair of electrical pylons, hitting one in the process and knocking out power for thousands. In his autobiography he wrote “My daredevil clowning had cut off electricity to a great many Spanish homes, and created a small international incident.” Reassigned to a cushy diplomatic post, McCain laudably volunteered for combat in Vietnam. Assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Oriskany, he flew 23 combat missions over Vietnam, making him a true war hero by any reasonable standard–but 23 missions were far fewer than most pilots aboard the Oriskany had flown, thus McCain was dubbed “Gregory Green-Ass.”

A true war hero with 23 combat missions.

“Jousting with Charlie and… Triple A?”

With the possible exception of the senior Bush, John McCain is the politician most famous for being shot down. During a bombing raid on a North Vietnamese hydroelectric plant, he deviated from tactical convention on approach. “I knew I should roll out and fly evasive maneuvers,” he wrote, “…but I was just about to release my bombs…and had I started jinking…I would have never had the time nor, probably, the nerve to go back…” at which point, according to McCain, “I released my bombs, then pulled back the stick….in the instant before my plane reacted, a SAM blew my right wing off.” Except, it didn’t. Other pilots flying the mission unanimously reported anti-aircraft fire, not a surface-to-air missile, blew the the wing off McCain’s A-4E Skyhawk. Why McCain always insisted he was hit by a SAM is perhaps an issue best left to psychoanalysts–but the official Navy report is unambiguous; he was hit by “AAA fire,” not a missile.

An A-4 Skyhawk–with both wings.

Hanoi John

Welcome to North Vietnam!

McCain again flouted protocol bailing out. Pilots were taught a specific procedure for ejecting from a stricken A-4E, but McCain ignored it. As a result, he broke both arms and his right leg even before angry North Vietnamese fished him out of Truc Bach Lake.  This later paid unexpected dividends when voters assumed news footage of the imprisoned McCain hobbling on crutches or trussed up in casts amounted to evidence of torture. In fact, as he concedes in his memoirs, McCain immediately offered information to his captors in exchange for hospitalization. Bad form, but of little practical consequence; even the toughest pilots broke at the “Hanoi Hilton,” and there is no doubt McCain was tortured and beaten, although he later wrote his treatment was “less harsh than might be accorded other prisoners,” because of “the propaganda value the Vietnamese placed on possessing me.”

Mostly self-inflicted.

McCain famously rejected an offer of early release–an offer the communists made because his father was a full admiral. TIME concertized McCain’s version of events, marveling at his decision to choose “prison in Hanoi for years rather than accept a release he considered dishonorable.”  But this story, too, is equivocal.  The senior American POW in Hanoi during McCain’s imprisonment adamantly opposed any American accepting early release, and military code required the ranking officer’s permission. McCain, then, had every reason to suppose his request would be denied.  Obviously, he could have sidestepped regulations and accepted the offer unilaterally—but doing so risked censure and even charges of collaboration down the road. Thus, although the story of McCain refusing early release is true, a dearth of workable options probably shaped his decision.

The Reaganite who schooled Goldwater

“Wait a minute, John–what’s with the hand buzzer?”

Released in keeping with the 1973 peace accords following five-and-a-half years of imprisonment, McCain retired from the Navy in 1981. Moving to Arizona, he ran for congress in 1983, campaigning as a dyed-in-the-wool Reaganite. In 1987, he ran for the senate, defeating his Democratic opponent by 20 percentage points. As a freshman senator, McCain resumed his support for the Reagan agenda. He defended “Reaganomics” despite zero grasp of supply-side theory, opposed abortion, voted in defense of school prayer, and appeared every inch the Cold Warrior. Yet, according to McCain, during a private meeting with the retiring Barry Goldwater (whose vacated seat McCain occupied), Goldwater offered, “You know, John, if I’d beaten Lyndon Johnson in ’64, you wouldn’t have spent all those years in a North Vietnamese prison camp.” McCain recalls quipping, “You’re right, Barry. It would have been a Chinese prison camp.” McCain loved telling the story, and true or not, the anecdote was subtly evocative of a deeper truth: John McCain enjoyed kicking members of his own party in the shins–especially those who represented seniority–or, one might go so far as to say, father figures.

“And anyway, John–why would Taiwan put you in a prison camp?”

When Newt Gingrich’s posse of young conservatives swarmed congress in 1992, McCain applauded their arrival but opted out of Gingrich’s “contract with America.” Instead, he gravitated toward several top Democrats, including Tip O’Neill, Paul Simon, and Mo Udall.  He soon began voicing support for various social programs, most notably the Americans with Disabilities Act. The legislation foundered when Republicans, to McCain’s considerable annoyance, took umbrage at several of its zanier entitlements.  Nevertheless, the media praised McCain’s enlightened willingness to join forces with liberals, painting him as a beacon of hope in a GOP too long wedded to grumpy intransigence. The accolades were not lost on McCain.

The reformer….

Nobody at McCain’s farewell service mentioned the Senator’s first association with campaign finance reform, otherwise known as the Keating Hearings. It was 1990, and the Washington Post reported grim news: “The Senate Select Committee on Ethics today will open what are expected to be exhaustive and contentious public hearings in the highly publicized ‘Keating Five’ case…” According to the Post, the hearings promised “a rare tour of the netherworld of campaign fund-raising and its impact on Washington’s official business.” Of the five, the only accused Republican was John McCain, whose earliest associations with campaign finance cast him as a poster child for its abuse. Accused of inappropriately intervening with federal regulators on behalf of Keating, a major campaign donor, McCain took a beating in the press, but avoided more serious consequences by agreeing to confess poor judgement.

Approaching the nominative contest of 2000, McCain recast himself as a campaign reformer par excellence.  Crossing the aisle in search of allies, he found a ready accomplice in Russ Feingold, (D-WI). While McCain thundered demands for action, Feingold’s staff crafted legislation. One telltale indicator of the bill’s toxicity was the selection of its co-sponsors as recipients of the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award. McCain, of course, was the real point of the conferral. The bizarre idea that collaborating with liberals constituted heroism precisely fit the establishment’s long-maintained flimflam that joining it demands guts.

McCain always considered the act among his proudest achievements. In reality, it not only subjected political campaigns to a host of big-government intrusions, but also increased the media’s power to sway elections. The Heritage Foundation called it “wrongheaded and unconstitutional.” Even the Washington Post disapproved, noting that “…perversely, the ban on ‘soft money’ left individual and corporate donors free to direct their funds to outside groups, where donations are concealed from public scrutiny.” In 2010, the Supreme Court struck down the act’s more odoriferous sections, ruling that, “If the First Amendment has any force, it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech.” The Left howled indignantly, as did McCain, as did President Obama, who managed to cram “Big Oil” “Wall Street Banks” and “Health insurers” into a single denunciatory sentence. 

Standing tall against Big Oil!

The environmentalist….

During the ‘90s, McCain voted five times to defund nuclear research and scrap federal loan guarantees for additional plants. In 2005, newly convinced that planetary survival hinged on capping greenhouse gas emissions, McCain reversed himself and called for taxpayer assistance to nuclear developers. In 2007, despite a decade spent stagnating nuclear development, McCain advanced legislation to underwrite 45 new reactors in the United States, amounting to $3.7 billion in subsidies. To his dismay, environmentalists voiced outrage.

Some leading authorities on the threat of nuclear power.

In response, McCain announced senate hearings on “climate science,” (during which Tim Profeta, director of the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University, straight-facedly congratulated him for “speaking truth to power”).  McCain co-sponsored three bills addressing global warming. Naturally, this meant additional regulation of businesses accused of greenhouse gas production, but McCain’s bill, co-sponsored by Al Gore’s former running mate, Joe Lieberman, included cap-and-trade proposals amounting to generous allowances for companies wishing to buy or sell permissions to pollute. Like so many climate activists, McCain and Lieberman obviously considered global apocalypse tolerable, provided substantial revenue could be raised in advance. The bill was defeated, after which its second iteration, relabeled The Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act, was killed by an even larger majority.  Again, McCain found himself at odds with his party’s worldview, his frustrations soothed by accolades from the liberal mainstream. Oddly, during a 2010 radio interview, McCain solemnly denied ever supporting cap-and-trade–an assertion that, although factually dismissable, may have been heartfelt. As so often in such instances, the fine points of his own legislation may have eluded him.


Jake Tapper, pondering the significance of “other technologies.”

As recently as 2017, the Senator appeared on CNN, nodding fervently as Jake Tapper assured viewers that “hurricane Irma was more intense…because of climate change,” and pressed McCain to explain his party’s irrational opposition to what Tapper called “the overwhelming scientific consensus…that [global warming is] real and it’s man made,” McCain shook his head, perfectly conveying his vexation before declaring, in less than perfect syntax, “I don’t know because I can’t divine their motives; but I know this: There are things happening with the climate in the world that is unprecedented.” Tapper wondered aloud what measures might yet preserve life on Earth.  McCain paused, perhaps recalling the legions of incensed environmentalists dunning him for promoting nuclear power. Wiser for the experience, he assured Tapper the problem could be solved with “solar power and other technologies.” Tapper nodded so emphatically, one might have thought McCain just salvaged the unified-field theory.

The reproductive mugwump…

As early as 1999, McCain was softening on abortion, saying of Roe v. Wade, “I’d love to see a point where it is irrelevant, and could be repealed because abortion is no longer necessary. But certainly in the short term, or even the long term, I would not support repeal of Roe v. Wade, which would then force X number of women in America to [undergo] illegal and dangerous operations.”  McCain certainly didn’t invent the sophistry that withdrawing federal funding for abortion would somehow force swarms of women to subject themselves to abortions, but he obviously deemed it persuasive. He offered the identical canard in a San Francisco Chronicle interview, insisting that overturning Roe v. Wade meant forcing untold numbers of women to illegally abort their children. Realizing, however, that he could not wrangle the GOP nomination in 2000 with such rhetoric, McCain repackaged himself for the occasion as emphatically pro-life, even voicing support for South Dakota’s particularly aggressive ban on abortions.

Peerless

“So in other words, John, I am selecting John Edwards as my running mate, because you’re not quite hypocritical and sleazy enough for me!”

In the aftermath of “W’s” election, McCain took especial delight in playing the gleeful obstructionist to Bush as often as circumstances permitted. In the Atlantic, Joshua Greene gushed, “As a reform-minded foe of corporate welfare, Big Tobacco, and the Republican right, he is peerless,” noting that McCain was “Bush’s most vociferous critic, [having] voted against the president’s tax cut, forced his hand on campaign finance reform…[and co-sponsored] “numerous bills with Democrats…” In fact, after his primary defeat in 2000, McCain gave serious consideration to bolting the GOP. He even approached John Kerry, suggesting himself as Kerry’s running mate come 2004.  Challenged about the matter on Good Morning America, McCain sputtered,”John Kerry is a very close friend of mine. We’ve been friends for years. Obviously, I would entertain it. But there’s, I see no scenario, no scenario, no scenario where I, I foresee no scenario where that would happen” (read: Kerry said ‘no’).

The Rainbow Warrior

McCain’s ping-ponging views on homosexuality were dizzying. In 2004, he voiced support for Gay marriage, but shifted in 2005, supporting the proposed federal ban of Gay marriages. In early 2006, his views evolved in a fashion presaging the per saltum conversions later experienced by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.  McCain now waxed eloquent in opposition to the ban, but spoke supportively of it during the nominative campaign. In 2008 he won the endorsement of the Log Cabin Republicans who applauded his recrudescent support of same-sex marriage and “Gay rights.” In 2013, McCain assured Anderson Cooper he had never changed his position on Gays, adding somewhat ambiguously,”I have admired your forward position and stand on this issue!” 

Anderson Cooper–pondering the implications?

The infamous GANG of FOURTEEN

By 2005, “W” wearied of Democrats sandbagging his judicial nominees, and urged Senate Majority Leader Frist to pursue “the nuclear option.” Frist began preparations to circumvent Democrat filibustering against numerous long-overdue judicial appointments. But at the crucial moment, John McCain went—maverick.  He and six of his fellow Republicans huddled in secret with Democrats, devising a “compromise” that would “preserve the filibuster”—or, less disingenuously, preserve the Democrats’ ability to apply it unconstitutionally to blockade Bush’s appointments. But if Republicans felt sucker punched, the media were positively aglow. The New York Times trilled “The bipartisan ‘Gang of 14’ that struck a deal to save the filibuster could start to be a powerful force for centrism…” Centrism, then as now, meaning that impulse–unique to Republicans–to dissemble capitulation as bipartisanship.  For John McCain, it was an annealing moment. He had stumbled upon the perfect formula for stiffing kindred authority figures without risking political damage: Hotfooting the GOP. The media called it “going maverick,” and the GOP didn’t call it anything, because Republicans, then as now, were terrified of the media.

2005: The usual suspects take a bow, the press goes wild!.

Losing gracefully.

That’s right, Sonny–and don’t get up, or I’ll REALLY hit you!”

If the 2008 presidential race had been a boxing match, it would have been the second Clay/Liston fight, except that Liston didn’t punch anyone in his own corner. Candidate McCain’s eruptive oppositional traits often resulted in kidney shots delivered to would-be allies, while Obama and his coterie of Marxian ideologues were spared even glancing blows. During a town-hall meeting, McCain handed the microphone to a supporter who told him, “I can’t trust Obama. I have read about him, and he’s not, he’s not — he’s an Arab.” McCain immediately snatched the microphone back and proceeded to scold her, telling her, “I admire Senator Obama and his accomplishments, I will respect him. I want everyone to be respectful, and let’s make sure we are.” Naturally, the establishment waxed effusive, and just as obviously, the woman misspoke, substituting “Arab” where “Kenyan” was intended.  But many wondered what sort of political campaign permitted nothing ill to be spoken of the opposition candidate.  Pitted against a radical leftist raised by a dedicated communist ideologue, a parishioner for 20 years in Reverend Wright’s rabidly anti-American, antisemitic church, an author whose weird duo biographies brimmed with communist motifs and racial biases, and whose political career was launched by unrepentant terrorists, McCain could only shout his praises. “I have to tell you,” he assured another audience,  “…[Obama] is a decent person and a person you do not have to be scared as [sic] president of the United States.” Distracted, perhaps, by the passion of the moment, McCain neglected to add, “So vote for me!

Mark McKinnon–sending “a great message.”

Meanwhile, McCain’s senior media adviser, Mark McKinnon, informed reporters he would quit the campaign if asked to issue any criticism of  Obama–a departure from his job description alarming enough, one might suppose, to draw McCain’s ire–but no.  Next, despite helming the most phlegmatic presidential bid in American history, McKinnon resigned anyway. Campaigning against Obama, in and of itself, proved too much for his conscience, thus McKinnon bade the McCain camp farewell. As a parting gesture, he paused to remind reporters that Obama’s election “would send a great message to the country and the world.”

The next George Wallace…?

Old Reliable: John Lewis once again grapples with the “seeds of hatred,” sown, this time, by that dog-whistle  segregationist, John McCain.

If McCain was attempting to preserve his romance with the establishment, it was a fool’s errand. His media admirers dumped him the moment he entered the general election, and no wonder: They discovered McCain was a racist. His painfully genteel political advertisements were labeled “racially tinged attacks” by the New York Times. Bill Press of CNN denounced them as “deliberately and deceptively racist,” while Keith Olbermann, whose fulminations issued from MSNBC in those days, explained the perplexing absence of any apparent bigotry in McCain’s ads as evidence of McCain’s diabolic reliance on “almost subliminal racism.” Meanwhile, of course, Georgia Representative John Lewis, always available to affect outrage when nudged by the DNC, traipsed dutifully to the microphones, warning Blacks that McCain was “sowing the seeds of hatred and division.” “There is no need for this hostility in our political discourse,” Lewis moaned. “What I’m seeing reminds me too much of another destructive period in American history.” By way of emphasis, Lewis branded McCain an infamous segregationist, comparing him to Alabama governor George Wallace (who was, in fact, a Democrat, but never mind).

The next Bill Clinton…?

Iseman on CBS–“can you prove you didn’t have the affair you say you didn’t have?”

Worse, McCain turned out to be an adulterer–a trait the Left deplores, if exclusively in Republicans. The New York Times broke the scandal, even then quoting “unnamed sources” detailing McCain’s extramarital fling with lobbyist Vicki L. Iseman. It was fake news of the kind America’s “paper of record” would become synonymous with a decade later, but it must have dumbfounded McCain, who not only discovered he was embroiled in an illicit romance, but one the NYT’s unnamed sources described as so lurid that “some of his top advisers intervened to protect the candidate from himself.”

Why, those pork-rind munching NASCAR watching hayseeds wouldn’t know a true conservative if they had a power lunch with one at Charlie Palmer!

But if groveling to the leftist media proved suddenly ineffective, it also made solidifying McCain’s presumptive base nearly impossible. Ironically, the only politician firing up conservative voters in 2008 was Barack Obama. Belatedly, McCain’s strategists realized that while conservatives would rather vote for McCain than Obama, they didn’t actually have to vote at all. True, McCain made a point of professing his ardent conservatism on talk radio whenever elections neared, showering hosts–whom he privately despised–with folksy accolades on the order of, “Ahhh, your doin’ Godsh work, Sean, yer doin’ Godsh work!” But if placating crackpot radio listeners with a few disingenuous soundbites wasn’t closing the deal, something more was needed.

Palin to insignificance….

Nobody in McCain’s camp wanted Sarah Palin on the ticket. Her inclusion was a means to an end.  Unaware she was viewed as a necessary evil by a staff that considered her values and lifestyle primeval, Palin accepted the invitation to be McCain’s running mate and, as anticipated, provided an immediate boost to the candidate’s anemic poll numbers. She also caught the Left completely off guard. At first, the ex-Miss Wasilla, and runner-up Miss Alaska ignited a national craze. Hair salons teemed with women demanding the Palin hairdo, glitzy magazines and tabloids made her face unmissable at check-out counters, and everyone wanted to hear about Alaska.  An amusing characteristic of the liberal establishment is its endemic cumbersomeness–the price paid for immensity.  Countless sources of influence and persuasion require marshaling before any issue can be caused to appear valid or invalid–or any individual painted as laudable, laughable, or detestable. And because progressivism’s best and brightest cannot be everywhere, it often occurs that certain channels of indoctrination overseen by lesser lights, simply miss the memo.  Palin’s positive reception by unalert elements of the popular press exemplified this systems glitch, but the system moved swiftly to universalize the approved narrative.  When the  counterattack came, every conduit at the establishment’s disposal gushed venom.

Killing Sarah

Late night comedians, the ladies on The View, Charlie Rose, Time and Newsweek, NPR, every “respectable” TV news network, every “reputable” newspaper, plus the usual swarm of glittery Hollywood ninnyhammers, set the record straight. Sarah Palin was a risible clodpoll, completely unsuited to national office, embarrassingly uncultured, frighteningly reactionary, cruel to wildlife, opposed to women’s reproductive rights, recognizably psychotic, and prone to uttering the most bizarre nonsense at the drop of a hat. True, she might be attractive, in a cornball, trailer-trashy way,  but she’d  brazenly capitalized on that genetic happenstance by objectifying herself in patriarchally repugnant beauty pageants, thereby implicitly body-shaming women the world over. Saturday Night Live did  yeoman service, enlisting comedienne Tina Fey–who resembled Palin–to impersonate her each week as a ditsy, inarticulate bumpkin.

Tina Fey–the reason every liberal in America still thinks Palin said she could see Russia from her house.

Then came the CBS interview. Were it not for Katie Couric’s finely honed journalistic skills, Palin might never have been exposed as–well–vague on the details of the Bush administration’s economic bailout plan, and even more appallingly, disinclined to enumerate for Couric what books and periodicals she relied on for information–a question every conservative candidate should expect, and no Democrat need ever fear. Those few observers within the fold brave enough to criticize Couric’s blatantly calculated hatchet job only stirred the anchorette to fits of righteous indignation. The former TODAY hostess shrilly ostended her journalistic integrity, a quality she reiterated on the Tonight Show while guffawing with David Letterman at Palin’s buffoonery. Shortly afterwards, Couric received the USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center’s Walter Cronkite Award, which rather tellingly cited ” the impact the interview had on the election…”

Remember, people: Good journalism just slants the facts, but GREAT journalism wins elections!

Cherchez la femme! 

McCain adviser Wallace–with helpers like her, who needed opponents?

Who marched the freshly arrived vice-presidential candidate into Couric’s minefield? Senior McCain staffer Nicole Wallace did the deed. Overriding Palin’s request to enter the journalistic shark tank by degrees, Wallace insisted on CBS, and lined up Couric for the interview. “Katie really likes you,” Wallace told Palin, “She’s a working mom and admires you as a working mom. She has teenage daughters like you. She just relates to you. … Believe me, I know her very well. I’ve worked with her.” Only the last parts were true. Couric openly despised Palin, mainly because of the Alaskan’s staunch opposition to abortion. Why, then, would a top McCain staffer send her own candidate into an obvious ambush?

With friends like these…

After Palin’s media mauling, McCain said he’d really wanted Democrat Joe Lieberman for his VP; but Lieberman would have driven off Red-State voters–and was no fun to look at.

Nicole Wallace co-hosted The View, and works for MSNBC. She teamed up with Brian Williams (of SEAL Team 6 fame) for MSNBC’s live election coverage in 2016.  She currently serves NBC as a chief political contributor, frequents Morning Joe, and guest-hosts the TODAY show. In 2011 Wallace told MORE magazine, “Katie nurtured and mentored me professionally…our friendship grew out of that.” Sarah Palin, then, was prepped for her interview with Couric by an unregenerate liberal who was Couric’s compatriot and outspoken admirer.  Yet, rather than express outrage at such treachery in his ranks, McCain turned on Palin as soon as her political utility waned. Blaming Palin for the failure of the most willfully self-negating campaign in political history became a team sport among McCain advisers. In post-election interviews McCain made a point of expressing his regret about tapping Palin, grumbling that he wanted Joe Lieberman on the ticket, but was “talked out of it.” When he publicized his regrets in a book, Palin admitted feeling “gut punched,” but withheld criticism. When McCain found himself embroiled in a tougher-than-usual reelection struggle at the height of the Tea Party’s drive to extirpate RINOs, he begged for Palin’s endorsement and she gave it, despite all the cheap shots, and snarls from her own supporters. McCain ultimately repaid the favor by barring her from his funeral.

Palin’s 2016 endorsement of Trump obviously rankled McCain, who probably found it less amusing than depicted here. This once-viral, now conspicuously dated TWITTER meme is surely a contender for the Internet’s “most-embarrassingly-premature-and-awkwardly-unretractable miscalculation” award. Except, do they even have those?

The Obama years…

After winning the Nobel Peace Prize and installing the freshly rehabilitated Hillary Clinton as his secretary of state, Obama set about so thoroughly destabilizing the Middle East that only a shamelessly complicit media could call the result “Arab Spring.” First, Obama focused on radicalizing Egypt. where President Hosni Mubarak, America’s longtime ally, found himself abandoned and all but dragged out of town by Hillary Clinton. Republicans should have demanded explanations, but Obama’s popularity left them dumbstruck. John McCain, on the other hand, spoke out confidently, telling reporters. “The rapidly deteriorating situation in Egypt leads me to the conclusion that President Mubarak needs to step down and relinquish power.”  After Mubarak’s departure a hastily staged election handed the presidency to Mohammed Morsi, a rabidly anti-Semitic, Hamas-affiliated, Muslim Brotherhood terrorist to whom Obama promptly dispatched 400 Abrams tanks and a squadron of F-16 jets as palace-warming gifts.

On to Tripoli!

Having fundamentally transformed Egypt, Clinton and Obama set their sights on neighboring Libya. Citing the Libyan dictator’s terrorist past, Clinton declared Muammar Qaddafi an intolerable menace to civilization. In reality, the Libyan despot was no threat at all, having been pummeled into neutrality by President Reagan, who responded to the dictator’s terrorism in the 1980s by blowing up his air force, sinking his navy, and bombing his palace. Given time to consider, Qaddafi renounced terrorism, normalized Libya’s relationships with the West, and agreed to pay reparations to  victims of his past exploits. In turn, the U.S. dropped Libya’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism. During the second Bush presidency, Qaddafi unilaterally abandoned his nuclear program as further evidence of reform.

Obama was criticized for shaking hands with guest-of-honor Qaddafi at the White House–but he made up for it shortly afterwards by killing him.

Obama acknowledged Libya’s progress by inviting Qaddafi to Washington, making Obama the first American dignitary to shake the Libyan’s hand, and the first to throw him a White House dinner. But no sooner had Obama’s guest returned to Tripoli than he found himself prey to the implacable—if often incomprehensible– wrath of Hillary Clinton, whose profound disapproval was shared, it transpired, by the President.  By way of emphasis, Obama secured a UN resolution authorizing NATO air strikes against Libya, declared a no-fly zone over the country, persuaded the British to impose a naval blockade augmented by the USS Enterprise, and fired no fewer than 110 cruise missiles at the country. For these exertions, the only rationale specified was “to deny the Libyan regime from [sic] using force against its own people.”

With Hillary in Benghazi….

Muammar Qaddafi, just dead after his whirlwind tour of Misrata.

Despite meeting with Qaddafi outside Tripoli in 2009 and promising him military assistance in appreciation of his mended ways, McCain now endorsed bombing him. He applauded Hillary’s no-fly zone, demanded still-tougher sanctions, and urged Obama to arm the local takfiris–bad actors already running amok amid the havoc. Qaddafi ultimately fled the capital in a convoy of military and civilian vehicles, but NATO aircraft attacked, killing 50 Libyans and scattering the rest into the hills.  Captured by the jihadist Misrata militia, Qaddafi was shot in the stomach, stabbed in the anus with a bayonet, dumped in the back of a pickup truck and driven around town while various factions took turns shooting, stabbing, punching, and buggering him. As the AP photos emerged of his mutilated carcass, Hillary famously cackled “we came, we saw, he died!” Libya, of course, dissolved into a cesspool of warring Islamic radicals, human traffickers, and drug cartels. Earlier in the conflict, however, John McCain dropped in on a “fact finding tour” during which he expressed every confidence that deposing Qaddafi would inaugurate an age of peace and tranquility for the region. He then paused for a photo op with a group of area rebels, telling reporters, “They are my heroes!” As it happened, McCain’s heroes that day were armed militants from the obscure eastern-Libyan township he was visiting–a place called Benghazi.

Standing tall in Syria….

“Da, Mr. President, da, your thoughts on geopolitics are endlessly fascinating–is that a Four-in-hand, or a Half Windsor?”

Obama next targeted Syria, already a terrorist state by any rational valuation, led by Bashar Assad, a Jew-hater’s Jew-hater who also despised America and Europe, financed aggression against our forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, tortured or murdered political opponents, and routinely bombed or gassed his own people; but despite such portfolio enhancers, Obama mistrusted the dictator’s western attire, education, sexy, westernized wife, and the crafty alliances by which he assured his survival—so secular–so distinct from the fanaticism of a proper jihadist. Offputtingly, one of Assad’s crafty alliances was with Vladimir Putin, who showered him with advanced Russian antiaircraft missiles as soon as Obama made threatening remarks. Since a major loss of American planes and pilots over Syria would oblige a level of retaliation Putin knew Obama couldn’t stomach, the ploy seemed ironclad. But from Obama’s standpoint, a surrogate ground war against Assad was even better than getting NATO to bomb him; it allowed Obama to arm and train every band of  jihadists in the vicinity and re-brand them “freedom fighters.”

“And now that I’ve mastered the technology, it’s way better than belching or making farting sounds with my armpit!”

Unless one grasped Obama’s worldview, the Syrian action made even less sense than its Libyan antecedent. John McCain, however, thought it was brilliant. His support was instrumental in persuading the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs to approve aid to Obama’s freedom fighters. Only three members of the committee proved obdurate enough to resist McCain’s impassioned call to arms–namely, Tom Udall, Chris Murphy, and Rand Paul. During Paul’s speech enumerating the high risks and inherent illogicality of Obama’s war, McCain took pains to be observed playing poker on his iPhone. Once again, McCain ‘s only complaint was that Obama wasn’t pouring enough money, advisers, and materiel into the region fast enough to supply the “good guys,” who in this instance comprised a hodgepodge of militant Sunni factions variously affiliated with Hamas, ISIS, Iran, Al Qaeda, and Ansar al-Sharia–an Al Qaeda affiliate.

 “…that would be regrettable.”

Freedom fighter update: The jihadists formerly known as Northern Storm recently merged with the larger Islamic Front, whose name pretty much says it all.

Never one to sit idly by when impulsivity beckoned, McCain personally (and in point of fact, illegally) flew to the embattled region to “ascertain the facts on the ground.” Once in country, he managed to press the flesh with more anti-American, anti-Western, and anti-Israeli jihadists than Bashar Assad normally hugged in a fortnight.  The Senator made sure to demonstrate solidarity with the “freedom fighters,” posing with their leaders for several publicity photos.  In doing so, he managed to grin his way through group shots with such notables as Mohammed Nour and Abu Ibrahim, both members of the Sunni “Northern Storm Brigade” just back from kidnapping eleven Lebanese Shia pilgrims after undergoing terror training in Iran.

“Say–none of you guys are, uh, ‘kidnapper terrorists,’ or anything, right?”

Over the news cycle, the Senator’s office produced four disparate (and mutually exclusive) rationalizations for their boss’s unfortunate group shots, none of  which seemed necessary given that  McCain’s communications director, Brian Rogers, clarified matters when the scandal first broke, telling reporters nobody in McCain’s office had any idea whom the Senator met, or with whom he was photographed. McCain had no idea either, Rogers admitted, adding “if he did meet with kidnapper terrorists, that would be regrettable.”

Whacko-birds…

“Two things, Rand! First, I didn’t call you a whackobird this time–and second, I made it perfectly clear there’s a strong possibility your election was legitimate!”

During Barack Obama’s presidency, McCain voted in support of Obama’s policies more than half the time, while his contempt for other Republicans, especially any who questioned his positions, intensified. During Rand Paul’s oracular effort to filibuster the nomination of John Brennan as Obama’s CIA director, McCain (and bff Lindsay Graham) pointedly walked out to enjoy a convivial White House dinner with Obama.  Asked subsequently about the efforts of Paul, Ted Cruz, and Rep. Justin Amash, to block Brennan’s appointment, McCain sneered that his fellow Republicans were “probably legitimately elected,” but were nevertheless “whacko-birds.” Why it took whacko-birds to resist the installation of an Islamophilic, pro-communist, serial prevaricator as top man at Langley, McCain didn’t say. Asked about his whacko-bird status, Paul told reporters, “I treat Senator McCain with respect. I don’t think I always get the same in return.” McCain soon removed any doubt by taking the senate floor to claim Paul was “working for Vladimir Putin,” an accusation that, if dumbfoundingly absurd, was at least less puerile than “whacko-bird.”

First blood…

McCain’s hostility toward Donald Trump dated from January, 2000, when Trump first considered a presidential run.  A media darling in those days whose political aspirations might well prove subversive to GOP interests, Trump enjoyed generous coverage. During an appearance on CBS, the interviewer asked Trump’s opinion of Senator McCain, and Trump, who shot from the lip then as now, mused, “He was captured, Does being captured make you a hero? I don’t know. I’m not sure.” Trump’s Socratic approach did nothing to assuage McCain’s fury, but the Senator bit his tongue manfully. After all, Trump was a clown, undeserving of attention from a man of the Senator’s stature. 

Ask an honest question and it’s the end of the world!

“The, quote, Mexicans….”

A serious candidate!

In 2015, however, Trump invaded McCain’s preserve, officially entering the primaries. Even then, McCain restricted himself to reprimanding Trump for his quote “about the, quote, Mexicans.” The reference was to Trump’s statement that Mexico didn’t send its “best people” across the border. “They’re bringing drugs,” Trump told his audience. “They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” Maladroitly phrased by any standard, the characterization blatantly transgressed the statutes of political correctness. An ebullient press chorused “gotcha!” McCain was content to affect concern–after all, Trump had slit his own throat–the clueless outsider was doomed to weeks of apologizing to notable Mexican Americans, kissing immigrant babies at the border–and even then, he was done for.

The Senator complaining Trump rallies fire up the crazies.

And indeed, a veritable task force of media doyens visited the full wrath of the nation’s elites upon Trump’s miserable brow, deploring his “racially charged comments” by tumult. But Trump’s numbers went up, even as his mouth remained in overdrive.  In Iowa, he further provoked McCain, saying of him, “He’s not a war hero because he was captured.” In response, McCain informed reporters that Trump rallies “fired up the crazies.” Trump, in turn, called McCain a dummy (whacko-bird might have been funnier), and aimed a twitter storm at the Arizonan. Again, decrees issued from the the standard array of incensed experts, reminding everyone that questioning John McCain’s character was prohibited, and tantamount to political suicide.

Detente

McCain, endorsing Trump for president–while looking less enthusiastic than at any time since Truc Bach Lake.

But by April it was clear Trump would slide by Cruz for the nomination. McCain announced he would boycott the Convention. Then he thought he wouldn’t. Then he told reporters he would vote for Trump in November, “because I’m a proud Republican and I support the Republican party.” Trump, true to form, reversed himself on the spot, declaring, “You know, frankly, I like John McCain, and John McCain is a hero.” In October, when Trump mismanaged a point about soldiers with PTSD, journalists seized the opportunity to claim he’d called returning soldiers weaklings. McCain, however, defended the candidate, citing the obvious distortions of his remarks by the press. Trump thanked him. For a moment, it seemed detente might prevail. But two days before Trump’s debate with Hillary Clinton, the Washington Post and NBC simultaneously leaked the infamous “Access Hollywood” video featuring Trump’s porcinely salacious dialogue with Billy Bush. 

Billy Bush–the bush leaguer crucified for Trump’s sins.

Smitten with equal degrees of jubilation and high-mindedness, the punditry unanimously ruled Trump’s candidacy annulled. Commentators immersed themselves in debates over which more suitable Republican should replace Trump on the ticket. Trump, however, apologized, and resumed his campaign. He not only weathered the crisis, he regenerated his mojo and forged ahead without further avertence to the elite’s established protocols. Flummoxed yet again by the cretin from Queens, establishment nabobs resorted to killing him in effigy–turning their wrath on Bush.  A first cousin to “W” and Jeb Bush, Billy was always viewed askance by his media comrades, but now he was toast. Officially aghast by Bush’s abject willingness to listen–eleven years earlier–to Trump ‘s lewd braggadocio, the Today Show’s producers fired him, after which the entire NBC network fired him. The hapless Bush regained visibility only briefly, in 2017, when he was hospitalized after being hit in the head by a golf ball.  In retrospect, the only significant casualty of the Access Hollywood fracas was the McCain/Trump treaty. The Senator un-endorsed Trump, declaring it, “impossible to continue to offer even conditional support for his candidacy.”

“Stronger Together?”

“A very emotional and touching thing…”

McCain told reporters he refused to vote for Donald Trump, suggesting he might write in his “old, good friend,” Lindsay Graham–a gesture so futile it made the effort of voting seem pointless. McCain denied any intention of voting for Hillary, but never made a secret of his admiration for Mrs. Clinton, whom he more than once insisted “would make a good president,” and at least once claimed “would make a good Secretary of Defense.” Producers of an HBO documentary about McCain confessed shock that he and Clinton were so close. “She genuinely loves this guy and thinks the world of him,” gasped producer George Kunhardt. “They both lit up when we discussed them with each other. They…genuinely love each other. It was a very emotional and touching thing from our point of view.” Anyone apart from producer Kunhardt shocked to learn John McCain was outspokenly enamored of Hillary Clinton, has been shockingly inattentive. That Hillary got McCain’s vote in 2016 is unprovable, but highly probable.

A Deep State of delusion?

Fiction author Michael Steele–selling the dossier at least once to everyone.

In his final memoir McCain acknowledges alerting the FBI to the so-called Steele dossier, this century’s most famous work of spy fiction, and responds to his critics with characteristic churlishness, huffing, “I did what duty demanded…I discharged that obligation, and I would do it again. Anyone who doesn’t like it can go to hell.” Of all the conspirators involved in the golden-shower hoax, McCain is probably the the one player who genuinely fell for it. His insistence that a staffer fly to England to purchase a physical copy of Steele’s fantasy, his belief that “duty demanded” handing the FBI leadership a copy (one of which they’d already paid for and obtained), his decision to leak a copy to BuzzFeed with no apparent sense he was passing along hogwash, and his wide-eyed eagerness to supply Hillary Clinton with the document her own campaign commissioned and financed, bespeak an almost touching naivete. Exactly when McCain realized it was all rubbish goes unrecorded, but appearances suggest he was callously diddled into fronting for the same coalition of swamp dwellers that beguiled and exploited him for decades.

The final eye poke….

From its earliest manifestations, Senator McCain vociferously opposed Obamacare. He not only voted against the Affordable Care Act, he voted for repeal in 2011, 2015, and 2017, twice riding pledges of repeal to reelection. During his final campaign in 2016, Politico complained, “John McCain is running for reelection like it’s 2010,” adding, “the Arizona Republican has made his opposition to Obamacare…a central point of his campaign, by all accounts, the toughest reelection fight of his career.” McCain told Politico, “Eight of the counties in my state will now only have one [health insurer]. They’re staring at 65 percent increases in their premiums. They’re very upset.”

But when it really mattered, the principled conservative threw the game. Reporting from the senate floor, Cheryl Chumley of the Washington Times recounted events succinctly: “Just feet from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, McCain stands, extends his arm. The chamber is silent. Suddenly, McCain cups his hand and with a quick flick, turns his thumb downward. Gasps echo and McConnell’s mouth draws tight. McCain lumbers back to his seat, and Obamacare repeal fails, 49-51.” Perhaps McCain’s terminal diagnosis liberated him from catering to voters. After all, his 2008 presidential platform included a government healthcare initiative similar to Obama’s. Perhaps he valued the opportunity to inflict one last spectacular kick to Donald Trump’s shins above keeping faith with his constituents. By any measure, the defense McCain offered for his double-cross (that skinny repeal lacked a replacement plan) is nonsense. The putative necessity of  swapping Obamacare for some bigger, better, socialist plan, is more reminiscent of Trump in his less discerning moments than anything McCain is on record demanding. No, McCain’s grandiose moment of thumbs-down duplicity was his final digitus impudicus in the face of…who? Trump? The GOP? Daddy? The temptation to say McCain’s true motive was interred with his bones is probably unwarranted. He probably wasn’t sure what it was either.

 

 

“You Keep Using that Word…” (In which WOOF takes Exception to Incorrect Political Correctness.)

In Hardcore lexicography forum on March 18, 2019 at 8:57 am

To clarify this screed’s rant, and the particularly annoying variety of left-wing “newspeak” that provoked it, it may help to explain what we aren’t ranting about–this time. The Internet is ablaze with lists of politically correct claptrap compiled by pathologically-officious arbiters of allowable speech. These lexical bullies infest faculty lounges across the land, united in their quest to denude American discourse of expressive scope by restricting it, in the name of social justice, to words they deem inoffensive, or, if offensive, offensive to practices. politics, or persons who are White, Christian, to the philosophical Right of Noam Chomsky, or otherwise deplorable. While we abhor these despots-manque, it is not our purpose here to catalog their verbal impositions. Anyone with a little nerve and a righteous abhorrence of gibberish can spot, list, and mock these lingual contaminants. And while ridicule is an entirely appropriate reaction to such taradiddle, we are pleased to note numerous lexicographic freedom fighters have taken up the work. Our business here involves a more refined grievance.

Our more refined grievance.

In this screed, we cavil about more than the Left’s enthusiasm for paralyzing our common tongue –we are particularly peeved by a substratum of usages so woefully misconstrued or wrongly etymologized as to give offense on two counts: First, as components of the balmy lexicon of tone-deaf PC idioms, and second, (here’s the important part) by adding a layer of fatuity insofar as they imply meanings contrary to or starkly different from the ones intended. To grasp our point precisely, one need only consider the line famously uttered by Mandy Patinkin in the role of Inigo Montoya from the 1987 romantic comedy “The Princess Bride,” since immortalized as a ubiquitous meme: “You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means.” If you’ve seen the movie, you know the context, and if you haven’t, suffice it that for our purposes, the line speaks for itself—(forgive the irresistible anthropomorphism).To illustrate by example, let’s turn to the not-too-distant past, or what we might call the dawn of modern feminism. Many contemporary feminists lack even a basic familiarity  with the movement in that era, recalling it, if at all, with condescension–or consigning it to moth balls as “Second Wave Feminism.” But we recall it vividly, together with the now forsaken term “Fem Lib” (short, of course, for Female Liberation), a term no longer in use, and not currently at issue. Our displeasure is incurred by a different, far more persistent coinage emblematic of those fractious times–although, to be historically exact, as early as the dawn of the 20th century there was similar deviltry afoot.

The slur’s the word!

In 1901, the editors of the Springfield (Massachusetts) Republican, preoccupied with niceties that seem quaint at this remove, fretted that “To call a maiden Mrs. is only a shade worse than to insult a matron with the inferior title Miss. Yet it is not always easy to know the facts…” And in order that no married female be thenceforth addressed as “Miss,” the editors proposed a solution. “The abbreviation Ms is simple, it is easy to write,” they explained, and “for oral use it might be rendered as ‘Mizz,’ which would be a close parallel to the practice long universal in many bucolic regions, where a slurred Mis’ does duty for Miss and Mrs. alike.” Simple enough, one might suppose, but in an era when “progressivism” meant Teddy Roosevelt, the idea went nowhere. Indeed, the editors of the Springfield Republican probably went to their graves lamenting their failure to save married women from the ignominy of being mistaken for single.

For the uninitiated: A character in “Pogo.”

There followed a dark age of indifference to such matters, during which women in every walk of life faced the daily risk of hymeneal mislabeling. Fortunately for humankind, during an otherwise lackluster interview on WBAI-radio in 1969, Feminist Sheila Michaels resurrected “Ms,” recommending it as a means of uniting the entire distaff sex within a single, collectivizing, Mao-jacket-ish sort of honorific, (and causing anyone enunciating it to be instantly remindful of a character from Pogo). Michaels credited the idea to a pamphlet she’d been handed by some Marxist group now lost to time, as might the entire idea have been, had not a friend of Gloria Steinem’s been listening who afterwards mentioned Michaels’s suggestion to Steinem, who pronounced it inspired.

Gloria Steinem–undercover Bunny.

In 1969, Gloria Steinem was the most widely known champion of American feminism, largely—if somewhat ironically—because she was good-looking, a quality conspicuous by its absence among the majority of her confederates. Besides making her a favorite talk-show guest, Steinham’s looks sufficed to win her employment as a Playboy Bunny, a stunt she followed with a widely read exposé in Show magazine detailing the veritable hell on earth endured—apparently—by Playboy Bunnies. Her bunnyhood behind her, Steinem was eager to found a magazine devoted to the feminist cause and thought “Ms.” would make a perfect title—smacking of rebellion, liberation from prosaic sexual roles, and the kind of controversy that drives sales at the newsstands.

The 1970s stood in sharp contrast to the days when a stringent lexical conservatorship consigned silly ideas like “Ms” to the waste basket. The burgeoning influence of the radical Left in American media and higher education meant that Steinem’s advocacy of “Ms” became instantly vogue. If this seems incomprehensible, remind yourself: this was the decade that popularized Disco, earth shoes, mood rings, plaid polyester leisure suits, and Jimmy Carter. Any doubt regarding the continued communist subversion of government and the arts was set to rest as the U.S. Printing Office raced to approve “Ms.” on all official government documents, while Marvel Comics announced a new superhero named Ms. Marvel, billing her as the “first feminist superhero.” Gloria Steinem was really the first one, we think, but she probably refused to wear another costume.

Steinem, bunnyhood behind her, making way for Ms. Marvel..

So, what’s our quibble with Steinham’s epochal choice of magazine titles? Let’s hear from Australia’s ABC News (not to be confused with its execrable American homograph) where contributor James Valentine sums up our objection, writing: “If you choose Ms as your honorific, others may think you mean more than you do…and it may not be a meaning that applies to you or any way related to why you choose to be a Ms.” In other words, Valentine might as well have written, “You keep using that word…”

The very first issue of Manuscript Magazine

Besides its ties to Marxism, which probably bother no one at this point except us, there is the inevitable problem of disambiguation that follows the forced introduction of most nonce-words like a faithful skunk. For example, current polls showing “Ms” on the skids, indicate a sizable population of women believe the term applies exclusively to divorcees, particularly in the United Kingdom; speaking of which, Debrett’s Peerage and Baronetage, disallows “Ms”, insisting that “”The ugly-sounding Ms is problematic. Although many women have assumed this bland epithet, it remains incorrect to use when addressing a social letter.” The Queen’s English Society likewise dismisses Ms as “an abbreviation that is not short for anything,” which would be concerning, if true, which it isn’t, really, which begs an additional remonstrance.

Lacking any pedigree in popular usage. the term often confused even those determined to adopt it. People assumed the letters were separately pronounced, as in “Welcome to your interview, Em Ess Smith!” And the absence of formal standardization saw the term rendered in all caps as often as not. Capitalized, of course, the letters have long denoted Multiple Sclerosis, but in either format, as an exasperated (female) editor famously stormed at the height of the term’s popularity, “Ms means manuscript, look it up!” And so it did, and does, and will continue to—or are we unduly sanguine?

Using MS WORD…

Aside from the improbable existence of some editor at some publishing house, whose extraordinary skills at enhancing and correcting writers’ submissions led to her admiring coworkers calling her “Manuscript” Jones, it is impossible to imagine any woman, no matter her sociopolitical convictions, intentionally describing herself as a manuscript, or, for that matter, as somehow associated with an incurable neurological disease linked to double vision, psychiatric problems, loss of physical coordination, and death.  More recently, we have Bill Gates’s patriarchally insensitive usurpation of the term in his marketing of MS Word, which may seem relatively inconsequential until you review the 2010 census and note 6,177 Americans surnamed Word, assumedly half of whom are liable to being confused with the world’s first and most famous word processor, not to mention numerous iterations of its popular document format, (now available as an Office 365 app, whatever that is).  And if you don’t think this can spell trouble, consider the plight of the comely but demure young lady bearing this surname, obliged to work at a desk proximal to a bulletin board to which some heedless functionary has affixed a promotional poster emblazoned with: “Thank you for using MS WORD!”Very, very top of mind….

Right on, Sister! Err…brother..er…xe…zhe..or…okay, whatever.

But before we leave “Ms” to its fate, or at least Webster’s Third, we should mention another source of mounting dissatisfaction with the embattled abbreviation, namely, contemporary liberalism. The problem with “Ms,” nowadays, is that people who identify with it are women, and people who apply it, apply it to women. Social Justice, meanwhile, has outgrown such callow paradigms, meaning that societal efforts to confine people to restrictive sexual categories or to distinguish between such categories, is highly offensive. The Left’s current obsession with gender-fluidity engenders (sorry!) the corollary dogma that one can pretend one’s gender is whatever one prefers while requiring everyone else to behave as though identically deluded. Given this recent advance in progressive social doctrine, any honorific specifying an individual’s sex, no matter how radically chic in its day, is suddenly archaic and microaggressive.

Jane Solomon: A very very top mind.

“Sociolinguist” and Atlantic editor Ben Zimmer, for one, insists the lack of gender-neutral terminology in English “has caused a lot of headache over the years,” which we at WOOF confess we hadn’t realized. Fortunately, lexicographer Jane Solomon was more alert. “The need for a gender-neutral prefix seems to be very, very top of mind for people,” the language expert assured TIME magazine. To this end, Solomon is confident the uni-sexual prefix “Mx” will prevail where previous efforts like xe, thon, and zhe, inexplicably foundered.

Afire with the vision of Americans everywhere demanding a usable gender-neutral means of address, constituents of “Fourth Wave” feminism saw “Ms” for what it was–just another gender-specific tool of patriarchal oppression no better than Miss or Mrs. The way forward, they realized, entailed everyone using the prefix Mx, which Sociolinguist Zimmer helpfully instructs readers to pronounce “Mix,” rather than “Em Ex,” an emphasis meant, one assumes, to prevent anyone from accidentally self-identifying as a land-based intercontinental ballistic missile.

Blacklisting “Black!”

H. Rap Brown, where are you when we need you??

In a similar vein, the essayist Dallion Rew (himself African by ethnicity) writes that “Black” is now “becoming more and more disagreeable to people who read and study History!” We maintain the opposite. The Black and certifiably-liberal essayist Kimberly Alexander points out that the problem is not history, but rather “whiney sensitive snowflakes [who] chose ‘black’ as something they can no longer say.”  Right! The problem is that Black political perceptions are influenced far more than anyone dares acknowledge by White, “whiney sensitive snowflakes” who are also media mavens, political leaders, and university professors. So we are now beset by a “fourth wave” (more or less) of Black militants protesting the descriptor “Black” as “racist” because a few benighted snowflakes in Birkenstocks miseducated them to believe the term was at some juncture foisted upon them by their White oppressors.  Pamela Oliver, a professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, points out that ballooning numbers of graduates “…educated in predominantly-White schools…have been taught that Black is insulting or that the only correct term is African American.”

Stokely Carmichael: So smart he was hard to debate–so Black he turned into Kwame Ture.

Calling Blacks “Black,” rather than Negroes (the preferred term throughout the ‘50s and early ‘60s, tarnished beyond retrieval by President Lyndon Johnson’s propensity for pronouncing it “Nigras”) is in fact ascribable entirely to Blacks—and radical Blacks, at that. Advocacy for the term ran the gamut from the erudite young SNCC spokesman, Stokely Carmichael, to the barely comprehensible  H. Rap Brown. Malcolm X advocated “Black,” and the Black Panthers insisted on it. (Who, after all, would take militants seriously who styled themselves African American Panthers?) The entire Black Power movement demanded it—yet only a few decades later we find Blacks eschewing it because Whites (who are, after all, the tenants of radical chic) misremember it as an insult.

African Americans from Haiti, and beyond…

Gary Player, African

Which brings us to “African American,” the usage most often invoked in place of the spuriously-maligned “Black.” Jesse Jackson, in fact, began advocating the term in the 1980s, because it de-emphasized color. Today, however, the “woke” custodians of permitted verbiage apply it as synonymous with “Black,” defeating the logic that drove Jackson to recommend it, while conjuring a host of fresh inconsistencies. The decorum impelling us to call any dark-complected individual “African American” is now rampant in our culture—thus students submit essays littered with absurdities like “2.5 billion African Americans currently populate Africa”—or complaining that Haitian refugees are discriminated against because they are “African American.” But Gary Player, the White golfer who hails from Johannesburg, is African. In fact, numerous African American golf stars have gained fame, but with the notable exception of Tiger Woods, who isn’t really from Africa, they are all White.  Someone should look into that.

The late Nelson Mandela, addressing his fellow African Americans.

South African President Nelson Mandela was Black, which may explain why a US News reporter notoriously eulogized him as “a famous African American.” And how does one politely strive to mitigate the outrage expressed by Jamaicans and other citizens of the West Indies who come here to study and find themselves enrolled as African Americans, when, in point of fact, they are neither?

Jesse Jackson exposed!  

Jesse Jackson: secretly pro-Apartheid all along!

The panjandrums of political correctness are hastening even now to elasticize the definition of their clumsy surrogate, rationalizing its application to darkly complected peoples regardless of origin. The ramifications are groan-worthy, but we are pleased to note (excuse our lexicographical Schadenfreude) that “African American” is lately beset by baseless aspersions similar to those that previously overwhelmed “Black.” Take the blog maintained by the feminist “Sabriyya,” who identifies as a “Political Science and Public Policy Studies double major… interning at the Hate Crimes Working Group,” and who learnedly declares that “labels, like ‘African-American’…seek to establish…‘racial’ groups as second class citizens…” adding that “’African-American’ implies that black Americans are not full Americans.” It gets worse, because, “this makes more sense once the term is contextualized in the period of legal slavery in the U.S. These labels are the same mechanism that Apartheid leaders were able to strategically use to create divisions within the black population…and prevent their unification in an attempt to overhaul the oppressive Apartheid regime.” Take that, Jesse Jackson, you cracker! Sabriyya, it seems, would welcome a return to the word Black—placing her in agreement with us, however much in consequence of her erroneous assumptions, and whether she likes it or not.

Check the box, America!

Ward Churchill, showing off his forked tongue.

And now, about Native Americans. We always check the box on this one—just like Elizabeth Warren, who has every right to claim she’s native American, having been born in Oklahoma; or Ward Churchill, whose real sin, beyond serial plagiarism, faking a combat record, and falsely claiming Creek and Cherokee ancestry, was emulating Gloria Steinem’s hair style, to disastrous effect. Ward is certifiably native American, though–he was born in Urbana, Illinois. In every ascertainable context prior to its engineered mutation, the adjective “native” referred to one’s place of birth, as in native Nebraskan, native Englishman, native Bostonian, and so on. Moreover, the distorted application is so painfully ad hoc, no attempt is ever made to extend it in keeping with semantic consistency. Tell any population of liberals–no matter how dogmatically liberal– that you are “a native New Yorker,” and not one–not a single one– will reply, “Oh, so you’re of Lenape descent?” By every standard of usage and precedent, then, those born in the USA are native Americans—including, of course, American Indians, but we see no reason to allow them to monopolize the term–and in point of fact, they don’t seem to want to.

So, is Buffy Sainte-Marie a Native Canadian, or a Canadian Native American?

When last surveyed by the Census Bureau, a majority of American Indians preferred the term Indian to Native American. And don’t look to the activists for support- an outspoken number of them reject “Native American” as an unbidden imposition confected by some hyperactive Ivy-League wasichu. In his essay “I Am An American Indian, Not a Native American!” Russell Means, the Lakota Sioux who founded the radical American Indian Movement (AIM), averred, “I abhor the term ‘Native American’…a generic government term used to describe all the indigenous prisoners of the United States. I prefer the term American Indian because I know its origins.” Right on! WOOF joins Russell Means in denouncing this flagrant offense against his people, not to mention elementary semantics, and encourages all U.S. citizens by birth to “check the box”– and reclaim their native American heritage!

And speaking of chauvinism…

Which reminds us, for no apparent reason, of our second and greater annoyance with feminism.  Granted, one cannot expect a generation of radicalized women who sought to advance female equality by burning their bras, exhorting one another to hirsuteness, smoking Virginia Slims, and otherwise mimicking the rabidly bellicose politics of the (then) New Left, to concern themselves with the derivation of nouns and their attendant adjectives; but that said, the wanton misapplication of “chauvinism,” which today is misapplied almost universally, is particularly bizarre; and more aggravating (to us, at least), than generations of females insisting they are manuscripts or guided missiles.

Historians can’t prove he existed, but Nicolas Chauvin remains the world’s first chauvinist.

Consult any “descriptive” dictionary currently preferred by the “usage-is-king” mob, and you will see pride of place given to the same definition of “chauvinism” blathered by every miseducated college graduate, feminist Androphobe, and Oprah viewer, i.e., “An attitude of superiority toward members of the opposite sex.” The precise point at which chauvinism transmogrified into this current acceptation is lost in the radical murk, but as any dictionary published before 1970 will verify, the word derives from a Napoleonic soldier named Nicolas Chauvin. Reputedly, Chauvin maintained a fanatical loyalty to the Emperor, augmented by a patriotic zeal for all things French. Thus, “chauvinism” has always connoted what the Oxford English Dictionary persists in defining as  “an exaggerated patriotism of a bellicose sort; blind enthusiasm for national glory or military ascendancy.”

To be denounced as a chauvinist pig, in other words, is simply to be called a fanatically patriotic pig—which leaves the porcine implications in limbo, given how few famously patriotic pigs are available to draw inferences from. The feminist application isn’t merely tenuous–it is impossible to justify by any means—there is simply no connotative linkage. The Feminist movement might as logically have re-purposed the word “federalist,” or “oboist,” with no less justification.

Ecce homophobe!

Homophobia (only because of its relative prominence) is the cardinal irritant among an array of artificially manufactured “phobias,” each of which truncates handily into the bumper-sticker-sized “phobe.” “Phobe” is a suffix assigned by Leftists to anyone they feel an impulse to debate, but who, on reflection, they deem it safer to merely label.  Labeling in this context amounts to a sneaky means by which the labeler can resort to the ad hominem attack, dissemble his sneakiness as righteous indignation, and affect moral superiority while sidestepping eristical humiliation. The rule is simple: an offending sentiment is aired and must be countered with a suitable “phobe.” Obviously, selecting phobes pertinent to whatever viewpoint one wishes to suppress is vital. If one’s adversary says, “wall,” for instance, one may counter with “xenophobe!” whereas a viewpoint critical of, say, Sharia Law, can be negated with “Islamophobe!” Meanwhile, sufferers of actual phobias are afflicted with an unreasoning terror of specific objects, entities, or circumstances. Their symptomatology is free of malice or disdain, yet progressivism distorts this diagnosis to connote “bigoted person driven by whichever specific bigotry we are currently accusing him of.” True, “phobe” is the available opposite of “phile,” but it fails miserably as a true antonym. Miso is wanted, but only functions as a prefix, as in “misogynist,” a usage sometimes employed in Liberalese, meaning, e.g., anyone who thought Christine Blasey Ford was making things up. Similarly, Misosodamist might serve where homophobe so conspicuously fails —not that we personally know any misosodomists, nor would we tolerate their company!

More problems arise from the fact that the prefix in homosexual does not derive from Latin, but rather from the Greek word homos, meaning “the same.” To be called homophobic, then, is to be outed for harboring a morbid and irrational fear of sameness by someone attempting to accuse you of hating Gay people. Of course, while we’re in the neighborhood, we might as well point out that Gay actually means lighthearted, vivacious, and carefree…but we’re an open-minded bunch here in the WOOF cave, and we gave up on that one a while back.

Alt what?

Washington Post headline: “Success of Captain Marvel shows us conservatives are ignoring the Alt Right” …okay, we’re baffled too.

Alt-right is an interesting latecomer to the PC lexicon. It bids fair to replace its threadbare predecessor, Neocon, long overdue for retirement. Properly understood, the Alt-right is an anti-Semitic, totalitarian, collectivist, anti-Israeli, and (may we say) misosodomistic, cohort harboring scorn for races and religions it presumes inferior. Designating any conservative personality or website as “Alt Right” is a current fad of the Left. But the “Right” in Alt Right evokes the fascistic European specimen, which resembles strains of conservatism only slightly, and even then, only the European species that Robert Nisbet liked to call “throne and alter.” Aside from a mutual devotion to military preparedness, it bears no resemblance to American conservatism which is anti-throne, anti-establishment, anti-totalitarian, individualistic, and socially Judeo-Christian. As a catchall for right-wingers who annoy left-wingers, however, the term seems to have retired “Neocon,” which has been misapplied by everyone from John McGowan to the conformistically progressive Rolling Stones, (whose political forays always resonate about as compellingly as Mitch McConnell might, if he tried to perform Jumpin’ Jack Flash).

In fact, Neocon derives from “Neoconservative” and means something specific. A Neocon, properly understood, is a recovering liberal who typically renounced the brand during the late ‘70s or early ‘80s, repulsed by the lemming-like pro-disarmament posture that consumed the American Left until the collapse of the Soviet Union consigned the doctrine of accommodation to what Leo Trotsky liked to call the dustbin of history. Many Neocons remained Democrats, inspired by party luminaries like Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson and the sporadically formidable Daniel Patrick Moynihan. It would be decades before Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid hunted the Blue Dogs to extinction, permanently ridding the “party of JFK” of anyone suspected of thinking like—well—like JFK.  By contorting “Neo” into a synonym for “ultra,” the Left conflated the likes of Norman Podhoretz and Irving Kristol with Pat Buchanan and Phyllis Schlafly. In any case, “Neocon” was so ruthlessly commandeered and so contemptuously applied in the final years of liberalism’s media monopoly that by the dawn of the 21st century, no matter who applied the term to whom, it was functionally an epithet.

Let’s beat up some fascists!

Heads collectivism, tails collectivism.

Speaking of Neocons and the Alt-Right, who is more stalwart in opposition to such tyrants, than ANTIFA? True, their acronym sounds like an aid mission to West Africa, or a bad trade deal, but as readers are doubtless aware, ANTIFA is a compression of “Anti-Fascist,” a designation so willfully incongruous, it encroaches on Dadaism.  Of course, the rank and file ANTIFA goon is clueless; he throws urine balloons and feces at Trump supporters and police officers and concusses stragglers with chains or crowbars, insensible of the irony.  He, like his witless media supporters, takes the anti-fascist misnomer seriously—a quick lesson in the deficiencies of the American educational system, and one that explains how brick-hurling ANTIFA thugs can tear into a peaceful “anti-racist march” in Berkeley, while shouting “End fascism!” –all without a moment’s introspection.

So, everybody spread out and look for anybody who looks like a fascist!

Fascism, long cherished by liberals as the obvious antithesis of communism, (a sophistry Ayn Rand once disintegrated by sneering, “heads collectivism, tails, collectivism”) is a phrase with a rich history.  American communists thunderously denounced fascists in the ‘30s until the Hitler/Stalin pact made fascism okay–until Hitler invaded Russia, making fascism horrible again. You can call political opponents fascists and imagine a philosophical kinship with Picasso, Gandhi, or Woody Guthrie. You don’t have to know what you’re saying.  ANTIFA, of course, exemplifies fascism. but the word has morphed into another one of those epithets liberals hurl at anyone whose ideas, if widely circulated, might threaten liberalism–an ideology liberals never hesitate to defend fascistically.

Common Sense Adjective Control?

“Woke” artist Kim Eric Lilot won a Carnegie Museum of Art competition dedicated to increasing public awareness of gun danger with this “Saturday Night Special” entry. We think it says it all!

Gun control is an interesting concept. To many of us it suggests the use of both hands from a sturdy isosceles stance, but to liberals it has always meant the abolition of firearms in civilian hands, except for civilians retained by liberals to protect them.  Overturning an amendment vouchsafing Americans the right to keep and bear arms is hard work–and harder still when one approaches the task fortified by one’s principled resolve to know as little as possible about the disgusting things one is trying to get rid of.  Long before AR-15s became emblematic of the NRA’s satanic grip on the polity, Americans awoke to the threat of “Saturday Night Specials” –cheap, small pistols said to be ubiquitous on our city streets and prone to killing anyone who happened within their limited range. Intent on halting the slaughter, congress banned these infernal engines of death in 1968, without pausing to effectively define them. This resulted in the usual slew of unintended consequences.  For example, James Bond’s expensively crafted Walther PPK became, by congressional decree, a “Saturday Night Special,” having flunked the arbitrary weight standard by one point. Walther promptly removed itself from the Saturday Night Special business by placing the PPK’s slide and barrel on their heavier PP model’s frame, adding enough weight to un-Saturday-Night it, while creating space for an extra round in the magazine, thus making the gun less deadly by congressional standards. But this was long ago, and but a single battle in liberalism’s endless war on guns. A trail of mangled nouns and adjectives marks its advance.

Walther’s PPK/S, not a Saturday Night Special, next to a PPK, a Saturday Night Special. Problem solved!

Assault Rifles” transpired to be even more dangerous than Saturday Night Specials, and capable of dealing out death in greater doses because they were said to be fully automatic machine guns meant for soldiers, placed by mercenary gun store owners in the hands of unpredictable rednecks, homicidal white supremacists, and sadistic hunters intent on slaughtering the nation’s wildlife en masse. Actually, even Wikipedia admits that an assault rifle is “a selective-fire rifle that uses an intermediate cartridge and a detachable magazine.” Selective meaning the weapon can be set to produce fully automatic streams of fire. If you want such a weapon, you should consider joining the military.  Oblivious of such details, the Left became so frantic to make assault rifles illegal, it never paused to notice they already were–and had been since the passage of the National Firearms Act in 1934.  Eventually, at least at the legislative level, liberalism grasped that “assault rifles” were a non-issue.  “Assault weapons,” on the other hand, turned out to be everywhere.

TRUE FACT: Even though Germany’s Sturmgewehr 44 is considered the world’s first “assault rifle,” Hitler was opposed to its manufacture and distribution!

To assure our rights shall not be unlimited….

But what on earth are Assault Weapons? Or, more to the point, what aren’t they? In 2004, the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act of 1994 expired without any discernible effect on shootings or crime in general. The tsunami of mass slayings predicted as a result of the act’s expiration failed to materialize. Never one to take chances, Representative David N. Cicilline (D-RI) and a posse of 123 co-sponsors submitted the Assault Weapons Ban of 2015, which if adopted will ban all semi-automatic guns, including handguns and shotguns, and anything scary-looking that attaches to them, which seems academic since there will be nothing left to attach them to. In a virtuoso display of the “common sense” always said to inhere in such efforts, Cicilline explained that his bill was intended “to regulate assault weapons, to ensure that the right to keep and bear arms is not unlimited, and for other purposes.”

Assault Weapon

Polls from 2018 suggested the public was finally “woke,” or as Wikipedia puts it, “most Americans supported a ban on assault weapons.” We suggest a poll asking “most Americans” what an “assault weapon” is, as opposed to, say, non-assault weapons. The phrase is indefensibly absurd. The Oxford English Dictionary defines a weapon as “A thing designed or used for inflicting bodily harm or physical damage.” In other words, all weapons are assault weapons—not only guns, but also kitchen knives, tasers, pepper spray, rolling pins, bricks, sticks, and vases. Given the ambient nature of this fabricated redundancy, Americans who affirm support for abolishing assault weapons may react negatively to the term, but it doesn’t mean what they think it does.

Weather or not….

But sneakily replacing insupportable phraseology with ridiculously latitudinous substitutes is not unique to gun banners. Consider the weather. As the 1970’s drew to a welcome close, scientists, futurologists, and, of course, political hacks, abandoned their decade-long insistence that earth was doomed owing to the onrushing second ice age, (which followed a decade of insisting it was doomed because of the onrushing population explosion), and agreed that in fact, the opposite was now the case, and earth was doomed because of onrushing planetary warming. Science aside, this was vastly preferable from a political point of view, because warming could be blamed on industry, automobiles, hairspray, air conditioning, and cows–or, in other words, on America’s failure to accept the tenets of centralized regulation and radical environmentalism.

But the validity or invalidity of what Al Gore likes to call “settled science” (except insofar as the phrase itself is unscientific) is not our concern. We are less affrighted by ostensible shifts in climate than shifts in the idioms by which those ostensible shifts are described. Almost everyone noticed the failure of various cataclysmic events and life-threatening transformations to materialize, let alone materialize by their expertly predicted “point(s) of no return.” Add to this a general sense, at least among Americans, that things are getting colder rather than hotter, and the problem becomes one of perceptions. Our complaint relates exclusively to how the climate experts set about managing those perceptions.

More warming = more cold snaps….

Of course, they said, states were experiencing record low temperatures. Of course the Arctic wasn’t melting on schedule and cities remained above water, but this was easily explained. Warming expert Michael Mann took point, declaring that plunging temperatures and record snowfalls were “precisely the sort of extreme winter weather we expect” because, he explained, “As the planet warms, we’ll see more cold snaps.” As expected, then, global warming was raising ocean temperatures off the West Coast, which affected the jet stream, causing a “bulge.” In fact, Jeffrey Dukes director of Climate Change Research at Purdue University, warned that the jet stream now looked “less like a skull cap on the planet and more like a wavy snake,” which, he assured journalists, induced “blobs of cold air to migrate south.”

The Union of Concerned Scientists (whose name is intended, one assumes, to distinguish them from unconcerned scientists) hastened to correct the public misconception that colder winters, more snow, and a lack of discernible warming suggested global warming wasn’t happening. “Such misinformation,” huffed the UCS, “obscures the work scientists are doing to figure out just how climate change is affecting weather patterns year-round.” One thing the scientists definitely figured out was that global warming caused polar vortexes to go rogue, spreading Arctic cold southward, resulting in the record cold winters of 2013/2014 and 2014/2015. Global warming even brought unprecedented snowfall and plunging temperatures as far southward as Texas, Mississippi, and Alabama.                                                                                         

The unfalsifiable Karl Popper

Loathe to leave any detail unattended, scientists also explained average temperatures. Even here, our planetary fever played a hand insofar as weather that seemed perfectly ordinary was really an illusion created when frigid vortexes resulting from global warming collided with warming fronts caused by global warming, cancelling each other out and producing an ironic sense of normality–further evidence of global warming. But settled science here encountered an unanticipated problem: Science.  Some in the scientific community (where critics are usually muted by fears of academic persecution) began to voice dissent. It wasn’t that they necessarily rejected global warming–the unifying objection was entirely procedural. Science demands certain proofs of legitimacy and one of the most basic is “falsifiability,” a simple application of logic first introduced by the Austrian philosopher Karl Popper, now deemed a vital component of any testable theory or hypothesis.

Science deniers… 

Falsifiability is simply the inbuilt capacity of any proposition, statement, theory or hypothesis to be proven wrong. The classic illustration is the black swan. If you hypothesize all swans are white, you have a falsifiable hypothesis, because it only requires the discovery of at least one black (or any other color) swan to disprove your theory. Scientific theories, to qualify as testable, must include falsifiability. If, on the extreme other hand, you insist that absolutely anything that happens somehow substantiates your hypothesis, your approach lacks a falsifiable component—and that’s called pseudoscience. In their desperation to retain popular support, the climatologists rationalized data contradictory to their forecasts, pretended they’d predicted such data, and cited every measurable climate event (or, as in the case of massive serial hurricanes, every non-event) as further proof of their hypothesis. In doing so, they abandoned falsifiability and transformed themselves into the villains they had sworn to oppose: Science deniers.

But “climate change” is real!

Rather than admit their excesses, climatologists got semantical. The problem, it turned out, was not warming, per se, but Climate Change—and it had been, all along. The obedient media chimed in, and one was made to feel dopily unhip if one uttered the laughable misnomer “global warming,” where any intelligent, scientifically educated person would, of course, know to say, “climate change!” Thus, falsifiability was instantly finessed. Changing climate, after all, is glaringly, almost embarrassingly, falsifiable.

index The overcompensation begat efforts to prove “climate” and “weather” distinct categories of inquiry- like, say, gender and sex; but that’s an issue for a different screed. For now, bear in mind: when earnest environmentalists prevail upon you to help fight climate change, they don’t really mean it. Climate change is undeniable, but it is also vital, natural, and desirable. For now, because its very obviousness makes climate change wonderfully falsifiable, it suffices (however awkwardly) as a synonym for imminent global devastation. On the bright side, once climatologists compile unequivocal evidence supporting their original claims, we can all go back to saying “global warming.”  Good science takes time.
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You get the idea—even more than politically-correct babble in general, we’ve grown weary of drivel that gains currency despite its blatant lack of semantic credibility—words that when uttered by cretins affecting sociopolitical urbanity, have so little to do with whatever concept was intended as to conjure the image of Inigo Montoya, intoning, “You keep using that word…I don’t think it means what you think it means.”