A lively Bookworm Beat covering gun control and suicides, Marianne Williamson (the Proggie Id), Justice Kavanaugh, free speech on campus and much more.
(If you prefer listening over reading, the companion podcast to this post is embedded below, or you can listen to it at Libsyn or at Apple podcasts. I’m trying to make a go of my podcasting so, if you like the podcasts, please share them with your friends and on social media. Giving my podcast good ratings helps too.)
Longtime readers know that I periodically do “everything and the kitchen sink” posts that I call “The Bookworm Beat.” This is the audio version of my latest Bookworm Beat.
Before I begin, though, I want to talk about my development as a podcaster – or, at least, the hope that I am developing as a podcaster. People who know me in real life know that I’m an incredibly fluent conversationalist. I don’t say this as a boast. It’s just a fact. And of course, fluent doesn’t mean interesting. It only means that, when I’m comfortable, I go – I have facts at my fingertips, I make witty remarks (or, at least, I think they’re witty), and I’m able to put together an interesting factual narrative or a compelling argument on the fly.
The thing is, though, although I’m not the least bit shy, I’ve always had stage fright. That’s what stopped my litigation career in its tracks. I froze in court and, after four years, it wasn’t getting better. Part of why I never got better was that I never much liked being a litigator. Considering how boring I found it, I really had no incentive to force myself to get comfortable in the courtroom.
When it comes to podcasting, I also have stage fright, or I guess I should call it microphone fright. My mouth gets dry, my hands tremble, and my voice gets shrill and shaky. However, because I am rapidly becoming as compulsive about podcasting as I am about blogging, I’m sticking with it.
My growth as a podcaster reminded me of a scene from Singing In The Rain. For those of you unfamiliar with this best of all possible movies, it’s a musical comedy revolving around Hollywood’s transition from silent to sound. In other words, a lot of people had to overcome microphone fear.
In the scene I want to share, Gene Kelly (as Don Lockwood) and Jean Hagen (as Lina Lamont) are filming their very first talkie scene, a very romantic scene. The producer has hidden the bulky microphone in a bush next to the actors. Lina not only has a terrible voice, she’s also a dim bulb and cannot remember where the microphone is, so 70% of her dialogue vanishes. Here’s what happens when the producer remonstrates with her.
I don’t have to learn to make love to a bush but I am working on learning to view the microphone as friend, not foe. I just hope I have a faster learning curve than Lina Lamont did.
The Second Amendment and suicide. In a recent Facebook post, a Progressive friend noted that gun deaths are catching up to automobile deaths. She’s honest, however, so she also noted that most gun deaths – 60% — are suicides. What this means is that, of the approximately 40,000 gun deaths in the last year counted, roughly 24,000 of those deaths were suicides.
Before I go any further, I’d better say up front that I have nothing but compassion for those who contemplate suicide, those who commit suicide, and those who are left behind after a suicide. I cannot imagine the despair that leads a person to give up on life and I cannot imagine the pain of those left behind trying to put together the pieces after someone they love ends it all.
Although no one close to me has committed suicide, several acquaintances have, and I’ve seen the devastation left in their wake. Please understand, then, that what I’m about to say is in no way intended to insult or belittle the horrible pain that drives suicide, a pain that transfers itself to the survivors long after the suicide has taken place.
Having said that, it seems to me that those raising suicide as a justification for gun control are saying that a person’s desire to use the most efficient option to kill himself overrides my Constitutional right to self-defense. I can’t accept that. My sympathy for that person’s overwhelming psychic pain does not override my equally overwhelming need to be able to defend myself and my family should the need arise.
Nor does it change my mind if someone says that guns are used for impulse suicides and, absent a gun, people might not kill themselves. Likewise, guns are used for efficient suicide and, absent a gun, people who use less efficient methods might survive and get the mental health treatment they need to embrace life.
I accept both of those facts as true, but I still don’t believe that the fact that around 24,000 people a year will kill themselves (with each of those 24,000 being a tragedy I wish wouldn’t occur) justifies depriving all 330,000,000 Americans of their right to bear arms to defend themselves against bad guys and bad government. After all, 24,000 is still only .007 percent of the total American population.
Am I being callous? Where do you stand on this?
Marianne Williamson is the Progressive truthteller. As I’ve written before and podcast before, behind all the airy-fairy nonsense, Williamson is a stone-cold Progressive who wants to enact every Progressive agenda item straight down the line. It would be a disaster were she to become president. (Not that there’s a snowball’s chance in Hell, but still….)
Nevertheless, Williamson’s virtue is that she’s completely unfiltered. I’d call her the Democrat party’s id. That’s how we got the wonderful sound byte of Williamson expressing complete bewilderment that Republicans are less vicious than Democrats (not that she’ll change her politics or her party affiliation over that insight).
.@marwilliamson: “What does it say that the conservatives are nicer to me? I’m a serious lefty but they are so — I understand why people on the right called them godless — I mean, it’s like, I didn’t think the left was as mean as the right, they are.” pic.twitter.com/0iXkWPRdAW
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) September 12, 2019
Showing her fear of those mean Lefties, Williamson then immediately walked back what were remarkably clear, unambiguous words.
The above was amusing and illuminating, but where Williamson really drilled deep into the Progressive psyche was when, in response to a question from a college student at the MSNBC climate change town hall, she urged Americans to “just say no” to nuclear power, never mind that Generation IV nuclear power, when it gets off the ground, is apparently extremely safe. Moreover, if Proggies really fear climate change but still want their smart phones, nuclear power is the only way to go. It’s not that Williamson is opposed to nuclear power that’s so striking; it’s the reason for her opposition:
Marianne Williamson on nuclear energy: go beyond “hard data” and “think about this with your hearts”pic.twitter.com/DSHcyUqLCw
— Tommy Pigott (@TCPigott) September 19, 2019
Isn’t that Leftism brought down to its purest essence? Ignore the facts; go with feelz. That’s what they do with everything.
You only need to remember Liz Warren and her “people will die” hysteria over the proposed GOP healthcare bill back in 2017 or the way in which the Proggies assure us that every one of their initiatives is “for the children.” Even abortion is “for the children” – those who survive – because they’ll be so much better off not having to fight for space with the others, the ones who didn’t make it. I hope Williamson stays on the political scene for a while because we need her naïve honesty.
One more fishy thing about the latest attack on Kavanaugh. Up until now, I haven’t commented on the Left’s latest attack on Justice Kavanaugh because I’ve had nothing to add. Those better acquainted with the facts than I have shown that the allegations are garbage. They constitute hearsay on hearsay on hearsay, not to mention the fact that the people most closely involved with both Christine Blowsy-Fraud’s claims and the latest claim out of Yale have disavowed the allegations. If Kavanaugh were a private citizen rather than a public figure, he’d be in the catbird seat for the greatest defamation lawsuit every filed.
There’s one point, though, that I haven’t heard anyone else make and it involves the latest accusation against Kavanaugh, the one about a party at Yale. The two vicious gossips, Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly, contend that they heard from someone who heard from a guy named Max Stier that he heard from someone else that Kavanaugh, while drunk at a party, got manhandled by his frat brothers, who alleged grabbed Kavanaugh’s penis and tried to thrust it into a girl’s hand. (This sounds as if it’s Kavanaugh who’s a victim, doesn’t it?) The girl to whom this allegedly happened denies any memory of the event, which ought to put the whole thing to rest, separate from all the hearsay garbage.
What the harpies forgot to mention is that Stier was one of Bill Clinton’s lawyers back in the 1990s while Kavanaugh was one of Ken Starr’s assistants. That is, a mere ten years after college, Stier and Kavanaugh were already opposing each other. Moreover, their oppositional relationship revolved around Kavanaugh’s side accusing Clinton of inappropriate sexual conduct and Stier’s side defending Clinton. Wouldn’t that clash have been the appropriate time to discuss Kavanaugh’s allegedly inappropriate behavior a mere decade before? After all, as I said, it was a lot fresher in people’s memories then. It would also have been a devastating blow to the anti-Trump forces to learn that one of the people arrayed against him had his own improprieties. And yet . . . nothing.
Just something to think about, that’s all.
Boston University squelches conservative speech. A year and a half ago, I wrote about a speech that a Berkeley conservative student gave. Naweed Tahmas was at Berkeley when both Milo Yiannopolous and Ben Shapiro tried to give talks and, instead, Antifa rioted, beat people with clubs, and even tried to set fire to buildings with conservatives in them.
Tahmas made clear that the Progressive thugs weren’t the only problem or even the worst problem. The real problem was the Berkeley administration, which played games with the conservative groups that were intended to make it impossible for any conservative speakers to come to campus:
When the college Republicans invite speakers to campus, the university imposes huge fees for hosting, something not demanded for any other campus speakers; insists that the talks must be given before 3 p.m., meaning that students cannot attend because of classes; refuses on-campus venues, requiring instead that speakers appear at sites far off campus; and limits the audience to students, with no alumni or members of the public allowed. All of these, of course, are impermissible preconditions on speech, entirely out of sync with the precedent from the Free Speech Movement.
As an aside, the hosting fees are ostensibly intended for security. The riots for the Yiannopoulos and Shapiro talks show that this is a lie. Indeed, Tahmas said that, when the slavering mob surrounded the Student Union building and set a fire to smoke everyone out, the police refused to provide an escort for the College Republicans. Tahmas escaped uninjured only because he ran faster than the mob chasing him.
In addition, the administration has taken to using intimidation to try to silence conservative speakers on American campuses. When the College Republicans invited Ann Coulter, Tahmas was called into a discussion with the administrators. He was told that he would be meeting with just one or two people, so he should come alone. When he entered the room, he found himself facing 15 members of the college administration. (It’s a fair fight, when you think about it: one intelligent young Republican versus 15 campus Leftists.) Throughout the meeting, they demeaned him, insulted the speakers, and were so obstructive that the College Republicans eventually had to cancel Coulter’s appearance.
To add insult to injury, just the other day, the Student Union announced that, for the first time in the history of the Berkeley College Republicans (a branch of a national group going back to the 1890s), it was refusing to give it any funds — never mind that the group’s members have a percentage of their tuition fees routed to the Student Union for the express purpose of funding student groups.
Keep that in mind as I tell you what happened at Boston University, a private school, just the other day. The Daily Wire reports what the university did when conservative students invited Ben Shapiro to speak:
Citing security concerns, Boston University has cut by half the potential audience for a scheduled Ben Shapiro campus speaking event and is demanding an exorbitant security fee from the conservative group hosting the event.
Boston University Young Americans for Freedom (BU YAF) told The Daily Wire Wednesday that they were informed in an email this week from Boston University’s Assistant Dean of Students, John Battaglino, that they must move the planned speaking event with the Daily Wire editor-in-chief to a location that can accommodate only about half the audience the previous location could hold. The university is also requiring the student organization to pay more than $12,000 in security fees administrators insist are necessary to make sure the community is safe during the event.
Among the stipulations presented in the list is the requirement that the event be relocated from a 1,500-person venue to one that only seats 700, the limitation of potential participants to members of the BU community who reserve tickets — rather than the event being free and open to the public, as originally proposed — and security fees totaling $12,720 the university expects YAF to cover.
The conservative student organization notes that in the university’s explanation for the exorbitant security charges, administrators cite the need to “provide security for protestors,” but notably do not cite the need to protect YAF or Shapiro.
This story allows me to harp on one of the bees in my bonnet, which is the need to get all taxpayer money out of America’s institutions of higher “education.” I wrote a whole post about this back in February, which you can find here (completely with citations to authority), but I’ll sum up just the high points here. Briefly, some of the worst ideas in America were incubated in academia:
- social justice,
- political correctness,
- trigger warnings,
- virtue signaling,
- queer studies,
- womyn’s studies,
- gender studies,
- rampant antisemitism,
- cultural appropriation,
- moral relativism,
- gender fluidity,
- victim status,
- rape culture,
- toxic masculinity,
- toxic whiteness,
- anthropogenic climate change,
- allegedly violent Islamophobia,
- aggressive atheism (usually anti-Christian)
That would be bad enough, but what’s utterly appalling is that these ideas don’t stay in academia. Instead, like toxic little dandelion seeds, they are dispersed throughout American society, always landing in places in which they can force cultural change. The highest concentration of college graduates is probably in Silicon Valley, and that’s given us a hard Left hi tech culture that’s using its overwhelming power to silence conservatives, force Progressive political outcomes, and change our American culture from the ground up.
Corporate America is changing too. That virtue signaling isn’t driven by market forces. It’s driven by the fact that all corporations now demand college degrees in order to hold even the lowest management position. These college grads are the ones who think it’s a great idea for 145 American corporations to demand gun control, for Nike to give star status to knee groveler Colin Kaepernick, for Gillette to malign men in order to sell razors, for Target to urge men into women’s restrooms, for Dicks and Walmart to stop selling legal guns and ammunition, and for all the other P.C. garbage that now infuses our marketplace.
Then there’s education. Between my two kids, I experienced 15 years of public school in a good school district. Those 15 years gave me illiterate English teachers who nevertheless felt called upon to hand out gun control literature; science teachers who babbled endlessly about end-of-the-world anthropogenic climate change; and administrators who routinely introduced the kids to every kind of victim ideology designed to make young people hostile to each other and paranoid about their own status.
And do I really need to say anything at all about the media and Hollywood? Everyone given a voice in media is a college grad, with the worst culprits coming from hard Left journalism departments. Meanwhile, in Hollywood, you have a slightly different phenomenon, which is a bunch of actors who never made it to college and have an inferiority complex about that fact, trying to give themselves academic chops by aping academic Leftism. It’s pathetic, but it’s also a powerful cultural force.
And you know who’s funding all this craziness? You are! We are pouring free money into these decadent institutions that indoctrinate, rather than teach. According to a 2018 FEE article, $183 billion in federal taxpayer money poured into these institutions of Leftist indoctrination – and believe it or not, that doesn’t even include student loans.
The ridiculous thing is that all this money, which costs you and me a very pretty penny, but which is essentially free to the colleges and universities, doesn’t make these places more affordable. It makes them less affordable, because free money always drives up costs. Institutions keep padding their budgets with more administrators, more Leftist departments, more boondoggles, and more fancy dorms and gourmet dining halls, rather than expanding their faculty and lowering tuition costs.
Let me say what I say at least once a week on Twitter, not that anyone listens to me there: If we want to return America to stability, sanity and, most importantly, her Constitutional roots, the fastest and best way to do that is to withdraw every single penny of federal taxpayer money from America’s colleges and universities, and let them sink or swim in the free market. I might make an exception for university research into national security projects, but I’m not even sure I’d do that. The best thing is just to turn off the spigot.
The Supernatural TV show and hints of anti-P.C. snark. We know that there are conservatives in California, for Trump collected $15 million in one day while in that arch-progressive state. There are even conservatives in Hollywood.
Some, like James Woods, Dean Cain, and Tim Allen, are outspoken; others stay low to protect their careers. As someone who still blogs and podcasts under a nom de cyber, I’m not going to speak ill of those who have concluded that paying the bills beats telling people what you really think.
Still, even those under cover sometimes can’t help leaking out what they really believe. Take the case of the often-funny fantasy horror show Supernatural, which follows two brothers, Sam and Dean, who hunt ghasties and ghoulies and things that go bump in the night. I’m pretty sure that, at least back in 2014, there was someone with conservative leanings on the writing staff.
In the episode entitled Hibbing 911, the two brothers are looking through the lore to find a way to rid one of the brothers of the mark of Cain. (Long story.) The setting for what you’re about to hear has Sam asking Dean how the research is going. Dean has this to say:
Keep in mind that this was 5 years before the cultural convulsions we’re now seeing about transgenderism.
In the same season, in the episode entitled The Hunter Games, the King of Hell is fighting (again) with his mother, the witch Rowena, who abandoned him hundreds of years before. You’ll get a kick out of how she explains away her decision to dump him:
Kudos to whomever wrote those bits of dialogue. They’re funny and snarky, and show that the writers are willing to take pot shots wherever they feel – you know, the way the world used to be before SJW, hysterical, feelz cancel culture came along.
How I spend my time when I’m not blogging. I actually do a lot of things when I’m not blogging, but I’m particularly pleased with my latest knitting efforts. If you go to my blog, you can see a picture of the first batch of hats I’m sending to my daughter and her friends at college.