Thursday, November 14, 2013

How liberalism corrodes a smart brain

In his critique of conservatism, David Simon commits one of the informal fallacies of logic -- something you learn even in High School logic classes:  The "ad hominem" fallacy  -- the fallacy that the truth of a proposition can be determined from the character of the person proposing it. How can a smart man be so infantile? -- JR


Let me first praise David Simon for his terrific book, Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets which spawned one of the greatest American TV series in history, Homicide: Life on the Street. I also hear The Wire is great.

Praise complete. Now I’ll bury this Hollywood liberal bully.

Simon presses the liberal agenda of White American Guilt in his oh-so-noble praise of the new film 12 Years a Slave, which also demonstrates how yet another Hollywood know-it-all has absolutely no understanding of our Constitution. This is particularly galling because Simon is an accomplished journalist, and his work on Homicide demonstrated equal compassion for all human beings.

Simon praises Slave's emotional honesty and narrative fairness, saying, “for once, the escapism, bluster and simple provocation that marks a good 95 percent of our film output has been somehow flanked, and subversively so.” This alone is enough to get me to consider seeing the film, though the words of a Jewish college pal regarding Holocaust films echoes in my mind: “I don’t need Hollywood to revivify the Holocaust for me.”

I feel the same way about slavery. I’ve written before that capturing evil on film is likely impossible in narrative form. That somehow a movie is going to elevate my understanding of slavery seems unlikely.

However, Simon goes off the rails when he presents the tired argument that because the Founding Fathers had slaves, the Constitution itself is fruit of the poisonous tree. Therefore, if you support “original intent” when interpreting the Constitution, you are a racist.

"If original intent included the sadism and degradation of human slavery, then original intent is a legal and moral standard that can be consigned to the ash heap of human history. Hardcore conservatives and libertarians who continue to parse the origins of the Constitutions under the guise of returning to a more perfect American union are on a fool’s journey to decay and dishonor."

Except Simon has constructed a straw man “if-then” proposition, because that’s not what “original intent” means. One such definition is, “…"original intent" can be ascertained by review of the historical context of the issue being addressed and goals that must have been in the minds of the framers of the Constitution as they wrote the words. Usually the authors and signers of a Constitution will have written privately and/or publicly about the document or the various issued addressed within.”

Originalism itself has many definitions and subsets, with many legal analyses littering the internet. Yet Simon claims that because the Founders were not perfect, and some (12 of the 55 at the Constitutional Convention) owned slaves, the goals in the minds of the framers are racist, invalidating the entire document or original intent reading thereof, making them morally abhorrent. It’s typical Alinsky, by the way--frame your opponent as a racist, call him a racist--now he’ll be seen as a racist.

However, if you ask most conservatives and libertarians what “original intent” means to them in just a few words, they repeat the words of Patrick Henry: "The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government." In other words, Mr. Simon, “original intent” means “limited government,” and not having liberal justices treat the Constitution as a “living, breathing document” whose interpretation changes with whomever is on the judicial bench at the time.

To be more specific, Simon and all his liberal pals would benefit by viewing Bill Whittle’s outstanding series “What We Believe” and maybe take a class in the Federalist papers, for no sane person equates slavery with a “perfect union” or “original intent.” The Founding Fathers were not perfect. America was not perfect. That’s exactly why the Constitution created a mechanism for amending the document. What’s troubling is that Simon--a smart and accomplished individual--is either ignorant regarding what Conservatism is really about, or (more likely) he’s being a typical liberal bully.

Here’s why I assert Simon is a bully. His own words reveal him to be a petty, nasty, mean-spirited guy.   “…anything I've ever accomplished as a writer, as somebody doing TV, anything I've ever done in life, down to, like, cleaning up my room, has been accomplished because I was going to show people that they were [bleeped] up, wrong, and that I was the [bleeping] center of the universe and the sooner they got hip to that, the happier they would all be."

This petulant, childish Leftist can’t even clean up his room without showing people he’s the [bleeping] center of the universe. Yet, we’re expected to take his word as to what “original intent” means? It certainly does not include “sadism and degradation of human slavery.” What it means to liberals like Simon is yet another excuse to tear up the Constitution, force big government onto the people, and have liberal ideology rule the day. In other words, make us all slaves to government.

How ironic.



The Unbearable Blindness of David Simon

by Andrew Klavan

I have been traveling and so this comes a little late, but it’s still worth saying. Lawrence Meyers at the wonderful Breitbart site Big Hollywood had an excellent takedown of David Simon last week. Simon, author of the brilliant book Homicide and creator of the excellent television show The Wire, is also, according to the book Difficult Men, a self-obsessed and bullying leftist. Recently, he attacked conservatives and, indeed, the U.S. Constitution they are trying to defend. Simon says:

"If original intent included the sadism and degradation of human slavery, then original intent is a legal and moral standard that can be consigned to the ash heap of human history. Hardcore conservatives and libertarians who continue to parse the origins of the Constitutions under the guise of returning to a more perfect American union are on a fool’s journey to decay and dishonor."

I leave it to Meyers’s strong piece to take down this nonsense, as indeed he does.

But here’s what bugs me. The Wire (which is, to some extent, based on the year Simon spent with the Baltimore Homicide Squad while researching Homicide) takes place in a city without conservatives, even without Republicans. There has not been a Republican mayor of Baltimore since 1967. And much of the show’s genius lies in its depiction of the brutalized life of black people in the city’s ghetto.

So we have a writer who has seen for himself, and who has shown us, the effects of Democrat governance on a city, the dehumanization of the poor that is the direct result of leftism and the corruption that inevitably springs from it. And yet Simon blames conservatives!

I understand why too, as I’ll explain:

I was a liberal once. I knew that liberal policy was wrong — but I also knew that conservatives were evil. Racist, sexist, uncaring, one step from Nazis. This was a religious truth to me. Well, of course it was. All leftists are taught this. That’s how the left keeps you in the fold despite the evidence of your own eyes. Leftists do to their followers what the townspeople did to Jim Carrey’s character in that movie The Truman Show. They teach them to fear and hate the unknown so much that they won’t test alternative ideas no matter how bad things get. “Life in Liberal World may be a mess, Truman,” they tell you, “but oh the horrors that wait for you out there in Conservative Land!”

David Simon’s intelligence is being thwarted by this superstitious fear. Cowering inside the virtuous feeling of his leftism, he does not know what he does not know. If he wants to see up close the horrors that left-wing policies visit on the lives of the poor, he ought to try watching The Wire. It’s all in there.



College Students Assess the Terms “Conservative” and “Progressive”

MRCTV’s Dan Joseph recently walked around American University asking students how they defined the terms “conservative” and “progressive.” It didn’t go so well:

In fairness, I suspect the responses would have been very different if the interviews were conducted at an institution like, say, Hillsdale College -- and not American University. But generally speaking, these reactions -- remarkable for their uniformity of opinion -- are probably typical of how students think at institutions of higher learning in the United States today.

The general consensus? Conservatives want America to be a 1950s-esque patriarchal society where power is concentrated in the hands of the “one percent,” whereas progressives have “open views” and want to make things better for everyone. The implication, of course, as Joseph pointed out, is that conservatives are therefore actively not trying to make things better for everyone -- a complete distortion of American conservatism and what it stands for. Students repeatedly used the term “status quo,” avowing that conservatism, as an intellectual movement, is fundamentally "against moving the country forward." To back up their claims, students cited a number of hot-button issues -- gay marriage, abortion, and climate change, to name a few -- as evidence that conservatives really do subscribe to a “backwards” ideology. None of this is surprising, fair, or, for that matter, even true.

Students who attend decidedly liberal colleges are presumably going to view conservatives in a negative light. This caricature is reinforced by their professors and the content of their classes. In time, they will come to see conservatism as a powerful yet misguided movement that is inherently racist, bigoted, and “for the rich.” Not until conservatives seriously engage this audience of Americans -- by first and foremost visiting their colleges and universities -- will the status quo ever change.

Time to get to work.



EMP threat:  Ostrich response?

Few public policy issues are of greater import to the future security of the United States and its people than whether the nation’s electric grid is sufficiently resilient to withstand serious, and possibly enduring, disruption from man-caused or naturally occurring events.

Yesterday, however, a congressional warning was sounded that the needed, honest evaluation of that question may be hindered – not advanced – by a test slated for 13-14 November that is billed by its chief sponsor as a “biennial international grid security exercise” designed to evaluate “crisis response plans and identify actionable improvement recommendations for plans, security programs, and skills” in the face of cyber and physical attacks on the grid.

In the attached letter to the leaders of the electric industry’s trade association/regulator, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), Representative Trent Franks (R-AZ) expressed concern about the public response of a Florida utility, the Kissimmee Utility Authority, to a National Geographic feature film entitled, “American Blackout” that aired on 27 October 2013.

“[The docudrama] showed what our countrymen and nation would experience in the event of a cyber attack on the U.S. bulk power distribution system that shut down the grid for ten days.  If anything, the serious hardships, dislocation, physical destruction, deaths and societal breakdown portrayed in this docudrama are likely understated.

“Yet…the Kissimmee Utility Authority saw fit to issue a press release after ‘American Blackout’ was broadcast that downplayed the dangers associated with the sort of disruption portrayed in the film.  It was headlined, ‘No Need for Panic.’”

Mr. Franks, the Co-Chairman of the House Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Caucus, observed:  “We note that the industry has often issued such casual assurances when confronted with evidence – including that contained in no fewer than five different federal government studies in recent years – that a sustained blackout would be catastrophic.

Rather than address this conclusion forthrightly and ensure that corrective actions are taken to prevent such an event, or at least minimize its likelihood, NERC and many of the utilities it represents have historically tried to deflect attention and trivialize the threat.”

Rep. Franks, who introduced last week with Rep. Pete Sessions, the chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee, H.R. 3410, the Critical Infrastructure Protection Act, asked the electric industry leaders pointedly:  “In light of these dangers, we want to establish whether you and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation share the view of the utility in Kissimmee?  Or do you believe the public should be concerned that the grid may be offline for extended periods?”

In conclusion, Rep. Franks served notice on those responsible for GridEx II:  “If…NERC and others involved in planning and executing GridEx II are dismissive of those who believe such vulnerabilities exist – and if the planners are intent on using the exercise to hide, rather than expose, these shortcomings – GridEx may actually be a grave disservice to the consumer, to the public more generally and perhaps to America’s vital national security.”

A new video (“The Real American Blackout” at was unveiled last week by the EMP Coalition – an ad hoc group made up of many of the nation’s leading experts and organizations committed to protecting the bulk power distribution grid and the critical infrastructures that depends upon it from the terrible consequences of a long-duration loss of power, raises similar concerns.



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