An Eagle Scout on the Boy/Girl Scouts

Eagle Scout Mike Rowe:

In 1974, I was a painfully shy twelve-year-old kid with an annoying stammer and a deep fear of trying anything new. I was also very awkward around girls. I dreamed of being near them, but in real life, their proximity made me sweaty and nauseous. So one evening, my father dragged me to the basement of Kenwood Presbyterian Church, where the boys of Troop 16 were in the midst of an organized brawl called British Bulldog. The rules were simple.

One kid stood alone in the middle of the room. On the far end, 25 boys waited for the scoutmaster to blow a whistle, at which point they’d bolt to the other end. During the charge, the kid in the middle would attempt to tackle somebody and lift him in the air long enough to yell, “1,2,3, British Bulldog!” That kid, if successfully lifted, would join the other kid in the middle of the room, and together, they’d go about the business of tackling and lifting other kids during each subsequent charge. In the end, the last one to be lifted was declared the winner – the British Bulldog.

I was immediately thrust into this pandemonium and hoisted into the air, despite my best efforts to remain grounded. Somewhere along the way I got a bloody nose. Others sustained busted lips, black eyes, and sprained fingers. Happily, the game was followed by a course in First Aid, taught by a local paramedic who showed us how to apply a tourniquet and administer CPR. It was awesome.

In the coming weeks, I learned how to tie a sheepshank, throw a boomerang, build a fire, and make a lean-to. I was given a Boy Scout Handbook, and told to memorize the Scout Law and The Scout Oath. I did, and a week later, after another round of organized violence and hands on learning, I was summoned to the stage in the basement. There, I stood by the flag, raised my right hand, and promised to “do my duty to God and my country, obey the Scout Law, help other people at all times, and to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.”

The Scout Oath was the first promise I ever made, and I tried my best to keep it. I also got busy earning Skill Awards and Merit Badges, a consistently frustrating pursuit that always seemed to highlight my chronic incompetence. The Scoutmaster, a retired Army Colonel named Mr. Huntington – often said, “I know you’re uncomfortable, Mike. Might as well find a way to enjoy it.”

In Troop 16, merit badges reflected merit. There was a boxing ring, where differences were often settled, monthly camping trips, frequent visits to the shooting range, weekly fitness tests, poetry readings from memory, and many other activities tailor-made to pull every kid out of his particular comfort zone. It was often humbling, but never humiliating. Failure was simply viewed as the most common symptom of trying. Consequently, the more I tried, the more I failed. The more I failed, the more I succeeded. The more I succeeded, the more confident I became. My grades improved in school. My stammer vanished, as did my awkwardness around girls.

One year at summer camp, I was called upon to sing a song of my choice at the evening campfire. It was parent’s night, and several hundred people from multiple troops were on hand. None were expecting me to belt out a tune from Tom Lehrer called “Be Prepared,” but that’s precisely what I did.

If you’re not familiar with this little gem, give it a listen. It is without question the most inappropriate song a Boy Scout could ever sing in public, but I thought it was hysterical, and packed with excellent advice. Afterward, Mr. Huntington offered a general apology to the parents in attendance, and gave me latrine duty for the duration of the encampment. Later though, he pulled me aside and said, “Mike, that was the funniest damn thing I’ve ever heard. Great job!”

Six years and two-dozen merit badges later, I was an Eagle Scout. Thirty-five years after that, I became a “Distinguished” Eagle Scout. I’m still not sure what I did to “distinguish” myself, but I accepted the award with gratitude, and I’ve tried ever since to give something back to the organization that gave me so much. Which brings us to what you’ve called “the tragic death” of The Boy Scouts, and the frightful prospects of “forced co-ed camping.”

According to their official statement, https://cnn.it/2HOv7gY, the Boy Scouts are welcoming girls because that’s what the overwhelming majority of parents want. From what I can tell, no one is being “forced” to do anything. Nothing in their statement talks about “co-ed” camping or even co-ed Troop Meetings.

As I read it, The Boy Scouts are launching a separate program that serves girls. Yes, The Girl Scouts are pissed, and the reason is clear – they don’t want the competition. https://theatln.tc/2l0pq4f. But respectfully, is that argument even remotely persuasive? Competition is good, even among organizations that have similar goals. Especially now, with 90 million kids in this country unaffiliated with any youth-based organization. So I’m not opposed to building a program within Scouting for girls. But I am very worried about the future of Scouting in general.

When I left the organization in 1979, there were 5 million active members. Today, there are 2.3 million. With the recent departure of the Mormon community, that number will soon drop to under two million. Clearly, something is wrong. The question is what? Is it the past sexual scandals? Is it the more recent admission of gay and transgender members? I would imagine those are factors. But a 60% decline? That seems very unlikely. Besides, the drop-off started long before all that. Likewise, girls have always been excluded from The Boy Scouts, so I’m skeptical that welcoming them now, will fix whatever’s broken.

In my opinion, this kind of attrition can only explained by an increasing lack of relevance, or, the perception of irrelevance. Unfortunately, in situations like this, there’s no difference between perception and reality. And right now, there’s a perception that The Boy Scouts have gone soft. That’s the real tragedy, Sharon, because I can’t think of anything more needed in our country today, than a youth organization that offers kids the same experience I underwent in the basement of Kenwood Church. Why? Because our country’s current obsession with “safe spaces” is destroying character faster than the Boy Scouts of today can build it.

Obviously, we want our kids protected from the hazards of a dangerous world. And clearly, the world we live it is a dangerous place. But safety is not the purpose of our existence, and this whole idea that kids need to be protected from fear, distress, discomfort, and disappointment is far more dangerous to the future of our country than anything I ever encountered in Scouting. You can’t build character in a “safe space.” You can only build dependence and entitlement, and you don’t have to look very far to see the results. Pardon my rant, but the stakes are high.

Too many kids are graduating from high school with no sense of who they are. Too many kids are leaving college with no marketable skill. Too many kids have never pondered a code to live by, or considered the importance of anything beyond the pursuit of their own comfort. It’s easy to call these kids “snowflakes,” but where do you suppose they came from?

We are the clouds from which the snowflakes fell. We are the ones who gave them trophies just for showing up. We’re the ones who told them that their feelings were more important than their actions, and that their dreams would come true if they simply followed them. Now, we are confronted with millions of dissatisfied young adults with no tolerance for beliefs that conflict with their own, and no realistic understanding of how life actually works.

I know I’m generalizing. I know there are many hardworking, conscientious millennials out there. I employ several. But I also know the “safe space movement” is real, and I can think of no better way to push back than to expose more kids to the brand of Scouting that I was lucky enough to encounter four decades ago. If by some miracle the dynamic I experienced in Troop 16 were available to everyone today – if Scouting could somehow recapture that combination of risk and wonder and pride and personal accountability – I believe their ranks would swell with the sons and daughters of millions of anxious parents, desperate to expose their kids to a program that prepares them for the real world.

I worry about The Boy Scouts for the same reasons I worry about The Girl Scouts and The Future Farmers of America and Skills USA and The 4-H Club and every other group that tries to elevate virtues like hard work, delayed gratification, and personal responsibility. I worry, because those ideas are wildly out of fashion, and organizations that have traditionally celebrated them are under enormous pressure to “evolve.” And so they do. But to what end? A 60% drop in membership?

If the Boy Scouts want to attract a new generation of members, they’ll need to stand for something more than inclusion. Because being inclusive doesn’t make you relevant. If I were calling the shots, I’d take a stand against the safe space movement and everything it embodies. And I’d do it in the most public way possible. But of course, that might also require a level of risk completely inconsistent with current orthodoxy.

As we all know, in 1974, a chipped tooth or a black eye didn’t lead to lawsuit, and today, I’m pretty sure a boxing ring and a trip to the shooting range would make a lot of parents…uncomfortable. But that’s exactly the point. In a world that values safety above everything else, discomfort is never welcome. Neither is risk. And yet, discomfort and risk are precisely why my time in Scouting was so valuable, and why Troop 16 was the polar opposite of a safe space.

Anyway … that’s a very long way of saying that girls are not the enemy. The enemy is bad ideology, and the inability to effectively confront it. Do I favor co-ed Scouting? Hell no. I can’t think of a single good reason to put girls and boys in the same troop, the same tent, the same boxing ring, or the same game of British Bulldog. But I can think of many good reasons to include them in a unified effort to confront the siren song of “safe spaces.”

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Bad economics from the pulpit

Dan Mitchell won’t be preaching on Pentecost Sunday today, but maybe he should:

I almost feel guilty when I criticize the garbled economic thoughts of Pope Francis. After all, he was influenced by Peronist ideology as a youngster, so he was probably a lost cause from the beginning.

Moreover, Walter Williams and Thomas Sowell have already dissected his irrational ramblings on economics and explained that free markets are better for the poor. Especially when compared to government dependency.

But since Pope Francis just attacked tax havens, and I consider myself the world’s foremost defender of these low-tax jurisdictions, I can’t resist adding my two cents. Here’s what the Wall Street Journal just reported about the Pope’s ideological opposition to market-friendly tax systems.

The Vatican denounced the use of offshore tax havens… The document, which was released jointly by the Vatican’s offices for Catholic doctrine and social justice, echoed past warnings by Pope Francis over the dangers of unbridled capitalism. …The teaching document, which was personally approved by the pope, suggested that greater regulation of the world’s financial markets was necessary to contain “predatory and speculative” practices and economic inequality.

He even embraced global regulation, not understanding that this increases systemic risk.

“The supranational dimension of the economic system makes it easy to bypass the regulations established by individual countries,” the Vatican said. “The current globalization of the financial system requires a stable, clear and effective coordination among various national regulatory authorities.”

And he said that governments should have more money to spend.

A section of the document was dedicated to criticizing offshore tax havens, which it said contribute to the “creation of economic systems founded on inequality,” by depriving nations of legitimate revenue.

Wow, it’s like the Pope is applying for a job at the IMF or OECD. Or even with the scam charity Oxfam.

In any event, he’s definitely wrong on how to generate more prosperity. Maybe he should watch this video.

Or read Marian Tupy.

Or see what Nobel Prize winners have to say.

P.S. And if the all that doesn’t work, methinks Pope Francis should have a conversation with Libertarian Jesus. He could start here, here, and here.

Libertarian Jesus?

Some with leftist economic views would quote Acts 4:32, “And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.” Those were, of course, voluntary associations. Jesus Christ never forced anyone to follow him. Using the Acts rationale, every family is socialist.

Theft and coveting are prohibited by two of the Ten Commandments.

 

This is how you get more Trump

University of Virginia Prof. Gerard Alexander:

I know many liberals, and two of them really are my best friends. Liberals make good movies and television shows. Their idealism has been an inspiration for me and many others. Many liberals are very smart. But they are not as smart, or as persuasive, as they think.

And a backlash against liberals — a backlash that most liberals don’t seem to realize they’re causing — is going to get President Trump re-elected.

People often vote against things instead of voting for them: against ideas, candidates and parties. Democrats, like Republicans, appreciate this whenever they portray their opponents as negatively as possible. But members of political tribes seem to have trouble recognizing that they, too, can push people away and energize them to vote for the other side. Nowhere is this more on display today than in liberal control of the commanding heights of American culture.

Take the past few weeks. At the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner in Washington, the comedian Michelle Wolf landed some punch lines that were funny and some that weren’t. But people reacted less to her talent and more to the liberal politics that she personified. For every viewer who loved her Trump bashing, there seemed to be at least one other put off by the one-sidedness of her routine. Then, when Kanye West publicly rethought his ideological commitments, prominent liberals criticized him for speaking on the topic at all. Maxine Waters, a Democratic congresswoman from California, remarked that “sometimes Kanye West talks out of turn” and should “maybe not have so much to say.”

Liberals dominate the entertainment industry, many of the most influential news sources and America’s universities. This means that people with progressive leanings are everywhere in the public eye — and are also on the college campuses attended by many people’s children or grandkids. These platforms come with a lot of power to express values, confer credibility and celebrity and start national conversations that others really can’t ignore.

But this makes liberals feel more powerful than they are. Or, more accurately, this kind of power is double-edged. Liberals often don’t realize how provocative or inflammatory they can be. In exercising their power, they regularly not only persuade and attract but also annoy and repel.

In fact, liberals may be more effective at causing resentment than in getting people to come their way. I’m not talking about the possibility that jokes at the 2011 correspondents’ association dinner may have pushed Mr. Trump to run for president to begin with. I mean that the “army of comedy” that Michael Moore thought would bring Mr. Trump down will instead be what builds him up in the minds of millions of voters.

Consider some ways liberals have used their cultural prominence in recent years. They have rightly become more sensitive to racism and sexism in American society. News reports, academic commentary and movies now regularly relate accounts of racism in American history and condemn racial bigotry. These exercises in consciousness-raising and criticism have surely nudged some Americans to rethink their views, and to reflect more deeply on the status and experience of women and members of minority groups in this country.

But accusers can paint with very wide brushes. Racist is pretty much the most damning label that can be slapped on anyone in America today, which means it should be applied firmly and carefully. Yet some people have cavalierly leveled the charge against huge numbers of Americans — specifically, the more than 60 million people who voted for Mr. Trump.

In their ranks are people who sincerely consider themselves not bigoted, who might be open to reconsidering ways they have done things for years, but who are likely to be put off if they feel smeared before that conversation even takes place.

It doesn’t help that our cultural mores are changing rapidly, and we rarely stop to consider this. Some liberals have gotten far out ahead of their fellow Americans but are nonetheless quick to criticize those who haven’t caught up with them.

Within just a few years, many liberals went from starting to talk about microaggressions to suggesting that it is racist even to question whether microaggressions are that important. “Gender identity disorder” was considered a form of mental illness until recently, but today anyone hesitant about transgender women using the ladies’ room is labeled a bigot. Liberals denounce “cultural appropriation” without, in many cases, doing the work of persuading people that there is anything wrong with, say, a teenager not of Chinese descent wearing a Chinese-style dress to prom or eating at a burrito cart run by two non-Latino women.

Pressing a political view from the Oscar stage, declaring a conservative campus speaker unacceptable, flatly categorizing huge segments of the country as misguided — these reveal a tremendous intellectual and moral self-confidence that smacks of superiority. It’s one thing to police your own language and a very different one to police other people’s. The former can set an example. The latter is domineering.

This judgmental tendency became stronger during the administration of President Barack Obama, though not necessarily because of anything Mr. Obama did. Feeling increasingly emboldened, liberals were more convinced than ever that conservatives were their intellectual and even moral inferiors. Discourses and theories once confined to academia were transmitted into workaday liberal political thinking, and college campuses — which many take to be what a world run by liberals would look like — seemed increasingly intolerant of free inquiry.

It was during these years that the University of California included the phrase “America is the land of opportunity” on a list of discouraged microaggressions. Liberal politicians portrayed conservative positions on immigration reform as presumptively racist; Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader, once dubiously claimed that she had heard Republicans tell Irish visitors that “if it was you,” then immigration reform “would be easy.”

When Mr. Obama remarked, behind closed doors, during the presidential campaign in 2008, that Rust Belt voters “get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them,” it mattered not so much because he said it but because so many listeners figured that he was only saying what liberals were really thinking.

These are the sorts of events conservatives think of when they sometimes say, “Obama caused Trump.” Many liberals might interpret that phrase to mean that America’s first black president brought out the worst in some people. In this view, not only might liberals be unable to avoid provoking bigots, it’s not clear they should even try. After all, should they not have nominated and elected Mr. Obama? Should they regret doing the right thing just because it provoked the worst instincts in some people?

This is a limited view of the situation. Even if liberals think their opponents are backward, they don’t have to gratuitously drive people away, including voters who cast ballots once or even twice for Mr. Obama before supporting Mr. Trump in 2016.

Champions of inclusion can watch what they say and explain what they’re doing without presuming to regulate what words come out of other people’s mouths. Campus activists can allow invited visitors to speak and then, after that event, hold a teach-in discussing what they disagree with. After the Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that states had to allow same-sex marriage, the fight, in some quarters, turned to pizza places unwilling to cater such weddings. Maybe don’t pick that fight?

People determined to stand against racism can raise concerns about groups that espouse hate and problems like the racial achievement gap in schools without smearing huge numbers of Americans, many of whom might otherwise be Democrats by temperament.

Liberals can act as if they’re not so certain — and maybe actually not be so certain — that bigotry motivates people who disagree with them on issues like immigration. Without sacrificing their principles, liberals can come across as more respectful of others. Self-righteousness is rarely attractive, and even more rarely rewarded.

Self-righteousness can also get things wrong. Especially with the possibility of Mr. Trump’s re-election, many liberals seem primed to write off nearly half the country as irredeemable. Admittedly, the president doesn’t make it easy. As a candidate, Mr. Trump made derogatory comments about Mexicans, and as president described some African countries with a vulgar epithet. But it is an unjustified leap to conclude that anyone who supports him in any way is racist, just as it would be a leap to say that anyone who supported Hillary Clinton was racist because she once made veiled references to “superpredators.”

Liberals are trapped in a self-reinforcing cycle. When they use their positions in American culture to lecture, judge and disdain, they push more people into an opposing coalition that liberals are increasingly prone to think of as deplorable. That only validates their own worst prejudices about the other America.

Those prejudices will be validated even more if Mr. Trump wins re-election in 2020, especially if he wins a popular majority. That’s not impossible: The president’s current approval ratings are at 42 percent, up from just a few months ago.

Liberals are inadvertently making that outcome more likely. It’s not too late to stop.

Shorter version: Stop trying to be cool

J.J. McCullough:

Watching the Sean Hannity show the other day, I heard four giddy words I can’t say I expected: “Up next, Piers Morgan!” Only a few days prior, after all, Morgan had been involved in one of his trademark Twitter spats — with Hannity mainstay Sebastian Gorka, no less — and it had ended with Morgan declaring America’s contribution to World War II overrated and unhelpful.

“Where would Britain be without you & your massive GUNS?!” Morgan had snippily tweeted at an American. “Speaking German,” replied Ben Shapiro, retweeted by Gorka. Morgan’s comeback? “It was really good of America to join WW2 two years later, after millions had died. Many thanks.”

That tasteful comment did not come up during the Hannity interview, which was instead a chummy exchange of shared disgust at the Mueller investigation, James Comey, and the latest dumb thing Joy Behar had said.

Morgan would have made a curious guest for a conservative talk show even without his recent foray into historical revisionism. To the extent he’s made any political brand for himself in America, it’s been as a hectoring anti-gun fanatic and generally condescending anti-American scold. Yet because Morgan has had some mildly sympathetic things to say about Donald Trump as of late (or at least hates some of the same people as the president) all is forgiven, and he’s now understood as “one of us” to some corners of the conservative base.

It was the same phenomenon that saw Kanye West’s remarkable rebranding last week. A tweet or two in the president’s favor and the man previously best known for calling George W. Bush a racist sociopath on live television and contributing such immortal lines to the canon of American music as “eatin’ Asian p***y / all I need was sweet and sour sauce” was reborn as a conservative folk hero. Perhaps West was taking his cue from Roseanne Barr, whom many on the right have given a similar mulligan for decades of far-left lunacy on the grounds she kinda likes Trump.

Conservatives are at their worst when they obsessively internalize leftist critiques, and no criticism has proven a greater font of conservative insecurity than liberal teasing that the Right is crotchety, backwards, and unhip. Much anxious effort has been exerted to prove these critics wrong, yet desperation rarely produces flattering results. The hurried search for conservatives with some progressive cachet — black, gay, famous, young, etc. — often manifests as low standards and embarrassing self-delusion, as the intellectual talents of various B-rate minds are inflated to heroic status the moment their public rhetoric drifts even the teensiest bit rightward.

It’s even worse than usual these days, given the very definition of “rightward” has become hazier than ever amid the rise of a fairly unideological Republican president and an increasingly visible fanatic far Left.

Since Trump plays his partisan role awkwardly, and is on the receiving end of a hysteria that often has little to do with politics, the president can come off a sympathetic figure, even if — perhaps especially if — one’s understanding of politics is fairly shallow. People who imagine themselves to be outspoken or uncouth outsiders with stylistic similarities to Trump can easily empathize with him, regardless of their policy opinions. This makes Trump a celebrity president who is often judged on celebrity terms, where arguments like “I just can’t stand him!” or “Show those haters!” are considered sufficiently full opinions.

Meanwhile, the cultural crusades of the far Left have become more conspicuous than ever through endless media coverage of language and thought policing at college campuses, newsrooms, and elsewhere. Again, regardless of the politics involved, this sort of thing is quite easy to engage with at a cultural level alone. Americans don’t like being told what to do or what to say, and there will always be a great deal of contempt leveled at anyone who affects the personality of a scold or busybody — and support for those who resist.

Conservatives can claim some degree of common cause with anyone who feels that Trump is being given a hard time and thinks the colleges are going nuts, but this isn’t much. Identifying political allies exclusively on such thin criteria will invariably require turning a blind eye to all sorts of other deranged opinions, and redefining conservatism into a temperament of shallow irritation with some characteristics of American political culture circa 2018, as opposed to anything resembling a timeless or coherent philosophy.

An obsession with building up superficially cool but intellectually preposterous right-wing celebrities has already led to disasters such as Milo Yiannopoulos, and one can’t help but feel a grim sense of déjà vu as an ever-growing parade of semi-coherent supposed conservatives from Hollywood, pop music, and YouTube are hyped by conservative media outlets desperate for validation by young, hip audiences.

That said, critics do run the risk of snobbery. Conservatives have to be open to newcomers, and ideological newbies — particularly those who were on the left until five minutes ago — will inevitably spout opinions that are one-dimensional, badly articulated, or half-formed.

The key is sizing up the motive animating the alleged new right-wing personality. Does the rhetoric of the nouveau-conservative appear to be coming from a place of genuine political interest? Do his opinions reflect a desire to engage in arguments beyond the present moment? Or has he simply discovered a new way to get in front of the cameras and exploit the wishful thinking of a uniquely desperate audience?

One of the few benefits of growing older is the realization that you longer need to follow pop culture, or often care what other people think. I can express that with a sentence, or two words.

 

Just in case, don’t go to work Monday

London’s Express reports, if that’s what you want to call it:

Scores of conspiracists led by self-titled Christian numerologist David Meade are certain the world will end as we know it on April 23.

The Nibiru theory, also known as the Planet X or Wormwood conspiracy, is a hoax doomsday claim which flares up online every few months.

Purveyors of the theory believe a rogue planetary system from beyond the fringes of our solar system is barrelling towards Earth.

The supposed arrival of Nibiru is meant to herald the imminent apocalypse and seal humanity’s doomed fate.

But the  has been circulated online hundreds of times before, and so far none of the predicted end of the world dates have come true. So why is April 23 a definite date?According to Mr Meade the apocalypse was meant to begin on October 15 last year, marking the start of a series of cataclysmic events.

Fast forward several months and a planetary alignment on the night of April 23 will allegedly fulfil a prophecy from the Biblical book of Revelation 12:1-2.

The Bible passage in question reads: “A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head.

Democrats’ hate speech, aka Walker Derangement Syndrome

The Associated Press reports the latest Democrat verbal diarrhea:

Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker is accusing Democrats of being driven by “anger and hatred,” a line of attack the two-term incumbent began emphasizing last week that his opponents say more accurately reflects the tactics of President Donald Trump.

Walker, who is up for a third term in November, made the charge against Democrats on Twitter the night a liberal-backed candidate for Wisconsin Supreme Court trounced her conservative opponent. Walker has repeated it many times in the week since, as he also sounds an alarm about Wisconsin being hit by a “blue wave” in November.

“Their rhetoric is increasingly not just liberal, but filled with hatred and anger towards me, towards the president, towards Republicans in general,” Walker said on the “Fox and Friends” show broadcast nationwide Monday.

Democrats said the new line of attack is desperate.

“For all his boasting about being unintimidated, it is clear Scott Walker is panicked, and he should be,” said Mahlon Mitchell, one of more than a dozen Democratic gubernatorial candidates.

Walker said Democrats running against him were once “mild-mannered, low-key people” but “to win that primary they’re going to have to show that they can match the rhetoric of hate and anger.”

When asked for specific examples of what Walker was referring to, the Wisconsin Republican Party pointed to a January story in the Hudson Star-Observer newspaper in River Falls, Wis., where Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tony Evers called Walker an “idiot” for rejecting federal Medicaid matching funds.

The state GOP also mentioned a radio interview where challenger Matt Flynn called Walker “too stupid to be governor.” The party also produced a sampling of profane comments posted on Twitter in reaction to Walker that came from random people, not Democratic candidates for office.

Walker has long been the subject of vitriol from some political opponents after he effectively ended collective bargaining for public workers shortly after taking office in 2011. That anger fueled the ultimately failed attempt to recall him in 2012.

But Democrats running against Walker this year reject the claim they’re fueled by hate and anger, and say Walker’s accusation ignores Trump’s behavior.

“Hate and anger — he must be reading the president’s 3 a.m. tweets!” said Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andy Gronik.

Another Democratic gubernatorial candidate — state Rep. Dana Wachs, of Eau Claire — called Walker’s claims “ridiculous and disingenuous.” Wachs said Walker and Republicans “accuse Democrats of being hateful while practicing the politics of hate — it’s classic smoke and mirrors.” …

Walker is urging Republicans to spread an optimistic and positive message, something Democrats say their own candidates and party are already doing.

“We reject the politics of anger, hatred, and division that have turned neighbor against neighbor over the past eight years,” said candidate Kelda Roys.

Mike McCabe, a longtime political activist, said his campaign isn’t even focused on criticizing Walker.

“I challenge anyone to find anger and hate in what I say as I’m traveling the state or in any of our campaign videos,” McCabe said. “We have to focus on what we love, not what we hate. We have to focus on what we’re for, not what we’re against. I say that everywhere I go.”

McCabe’s comments notwithstanding, I suppose, none of the Democrats quoted here would dare say any of this to Walker’s own face, or the face of anyone who could provide physical repercussions for their verbal hatred. That, of course, is a major reason why social media has become such a cancer on our society — people feel perfectly free to write things they would never say to someone in person. (Or say things to reporters they’d never say to someone close enough to respond with a punch to the face.)

Well, two can play that game. The 1988 Democratic presidential field was known derisively as the Seven Dwarfs. This year’s Democratic gubernatorial field could well be called the 17 Dwarfs, or whatever number of Democrats have decided to run for reasons known only to themselves. Comrade Soglin persists under the delusion that the People’s Republic of Madison’s Mayor for Life has created Madison’s prosperity instead of having the state capital and a world-class university there, neither of which Soglin has anything to do with. Tony Evers keeps sending out news releases announcing himself as “State Superintendent,” as if he has more power than he actually as. I wonder why a successful business person (Gronik, according to himself) would run for office. I wonder why a former political party head (Flynn) who has never been elected to public office thinks he’s qualified to be governor. For that matter, on what planet is a firefighter union head qualified to run anything other than a public employee union? Who is Wachs? Who is Roys?

There is a difference between them and me. I would say exactly what I wrote one paragraph ago to their faces if they had the guts to show up. As you know, I hate politicians. I hate the politicians I vote for slightly less than the politicians I oppose.

Yesterday I posted the opinion that one reason why most school referenda passed April 3 was because the state had finally corraled, in the opinion of voters, sky-high school property taxes. The comment a regular reader made it appear that he believes that the responsibility of taxpayers is to (1) provide schools with as much money as they want and teachers unlimited autonomy and then (2) shut up. That, of course, is not how it works. Any government service gets the money and authority the Legislature authorizes, and not one cent more.

The thing voters who voted for Walker in 2010, 2012 and 2016 should remember is these and other Democratic dirtbags are not merely insulting Walker — they are personally insulting everyone who voted for Walker. (In the same way that Hillary Clinton and other Democrats continue to insult people who voted for Trump in 2016.) That seems like a strange way to attract voters to yourself, unless their interest, beyond demonstrating their low character, is to wind up Democratic-leaning voters. That says a lot about Democratic-leaning voters.

Libertarians will point out, correctly, that this is the logical result of government that has grown far too large and taxes and controls too much, which has led to increasing the stakes in elections, made the zero-sum-game aspect of politics far worse, and thus requires winning at all costs.

I continue to read these comments from Democrats, both nationally and in this state, and conclude that Democrats’ number one goal is to exact revenge on Republicans following the Nov. 6 elections. I also wonder how in the world we haven’t had assassinations of politicians and/or their supporters in this country and this state in this decade. Yet.

 

This blog is rated somewhere between PG-13 and X

Apparently on CBS-TV’s “60 Minutes,” porn actor Stormy Daniels detailed the extramarital relationship she claimed to have had with Donald Trump.

The first observation is that Trump is a piker on the adultery front compared with previous presidents, including, in the 21st century, Warren Harding, Franklin Roosevelt and …

At the time of Slick Willie’s “bimbo eruptions” (his campaign’s term, not mine) we were all lectured by his supporters that sex is a private matter. (From people who supported Clinton because of his position on abortion rights, which in turn was perhaps a matter of convenience to avoid lifelong consequences of his dalliances.) An entire liberal organization, MoveOn.org, was created that strangely didn’t go away after Clinton left office.

Trump’s most ardent supporters counter with arguments like this:

In my previous life as a business magazine editor I wrote that if someone — say, Bubba — were willing to violate the vows he makes to his spouse, in front of God and public, on what else could he be trusted? (Republicans may find that out if November’s elections go badly.) The question is as valid today as 20 years ago. It is a question of trustworthiness as well as character, or lack thereof.

There is hypocrisy all over the place, of course. A Los Angeles Times contributor wrote about JFK’s dalliances and then excused them on the grounds of Kennedy’s being (in his opinion) a better president. My favorite Founding Father, Ben Franklin, could be claimed to be a Founding Father in more ways than one.

Some of Trump’s most ardent supporters have been voters who consider themselves evangelicals. Their support can best be summarized in the imperative for political power, in contrast with Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, who along with his apparatchiks quite clearly hated (and hates) conservatives. The phrase “by any means necessary” comes to mind.

There is a difference between what a president does before the White House (Trump) and what a president does in the White House (Kennedy and Clinton). But no parent should want his or her male or female children to think cheating on their spouses is OK.

This issue would matter less if Americans did not treat presidents and other politicians as celebrities and exemplars. Trump is the anti-Obama and the counter-Obama. Worshiping politicians is a moral failure.

Meanwhile, to prove that life is stranger than fiction, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports:

Stormy Daniels is headed to Wisconsin as part of a national tour that has expanded in the wake of allegations she had a 2006 affair with President Donald Trump.

The porn star, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, announced a string of new dates Monday, including June 8 at Silk Exotic in the Madison area and June 9 at Silk Exotic in Milwaukee.

“We’ve had her before in the past and, obviously, with all the controversy we decided to bring her back,” said Jon Ferraro, president and chief executive officer of Silk Exotic.

“It will be interesting,” Ferraro added. “It will be packed, I think.”

Ferraro said Daniels is booked for two shows nightly at both locations at 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. There will be a cover charge.

Ferraro said he doesn’t know how much Daniels will be able to discuss about her alleged connection to Trump. But normally, after she performs she signs autographs for patrons.

One wonders how closely Madison and Milwaukee media plan to cover this in June.

The real risks of another, and after, Parkland

David Ropeik:

The first recorded school shooting in the United States took place in 1840, when a law student shot and killed his professor at the University of Virginia. But the modern fear dawned on April 20, 1999, when Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris killed 12 classmates and a teacher, and then themselves, at Colorado’s Columbine High. Since then, the murder of children in their classrooms has come to seem common, a regular feature of modern American life, and our fears so strong that we are certain the next horror is sure to come not long after the last.

The Education Department reports that  roughly 50 million children attend public schools for roughly 180 days per year. Since Columbine, approximately 200 public school students have been shot to death while school was in session, including the recent slaughter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. (and a shooting in Birmingham, Ala., on Wednesday that police called accidental that left one student dead). That means the statistical likelihood of any given public school student being killed by a gun, in school, on any given day since 1999 was roughly 1 in 614,000,000. And since the 1990s, shootings at schools have been getting less common.

The chance of a child being shot and killed in a public school is extraordinarily low. Not zero — no risk is. But it’s far lower than many people assume, especially in the glare of heart-wrenching news coverage after an event like Parkland. And it’s far lower than almost any other mortality risk a kid faces, including traveling to and from school, catching a potentially deadly disease while in school or suffering a life-threatening injury playing interscholastic sports.

We sometimes seek protection from our fears in ways that put us in greater peril. In responding to the Parkland shooting, we may be doing just that to our kids.

Statistics seem cold and irrelevant compared with how the evil of a school shooting makes us feel. The victims are children, and research on the psychology of risk has found that few risks worry us more than threats to kids. Parents who send their precious children to school each morning are relinquishing control over their safety; that same research has found that lack of control makes any risk feel more threatening. The parents at Columbine and Sandy Hook and Stoneman Douglas placed their faith in the school systems, trust that was cruelly violated — and mistrust fuels fear, too, for the parents and all of us.

We don’t really think about risk in terms of 1 in 10, or 1 in 100, or 1 in 1 million in the first place. And when we do see such numbers, the only thing we think is, “My kid could be the one,” so even the tiniest risk appears unacceptably high. That powerful combination of psychological characteristics moots any suggestion that fear of a certain risk is irrationally excessive. Numerically, maybe. Emotionally, not at all.

That’s the thing about risk. We assess it less on the likelihood of the outcome and more on the emotional nature of the experience involved in getting to that outcome. The probability of dying doesn’t matter as much as the way you die. That’s why the infinitesimally low risk of being eaten by a shark scares millions of people out of the ocean, and why vanishingly rare plane crashes scare travelers into their cars and trucks (a statistically riskier way to get around). School shootings also trigger powerful emotions that swamp the odds.

And the more frightening a risk feels to you and me, the more coverage it usually gets in the news media, which focuses on things most likely to get our attention. Rare events with high emotional valence often get coverage disproportionate to their likelihood, further magnifying our fears. As a result of what the cognitive sciences call “the awareness heuristic” — a mental shortcut we use to quickly assess the likely frequency of things we don’t know much about — the more readily an event leaps to mind from our memory, or the more persistently it’s in the news, the more emotionally powerful and probable it feels. School shootings and the debate about gun control are prime examples. A threat feels more threatening if it’s getting a lot of attention.   …

Fear also leads us to do things in pursuit of safety that may do more harm than what we’re afraid of in the first place. Think about the psychological effects on kids from all those lessons about when to run, how to hide, directions from their parents to call home if a shooting occurs. A few children have even brought guns to school, saying they wanted to protect their classmates . What happens to children’s ability to learn if they spend their time in the classroom wondering, even if only occasionally, who’s going to burst in and open fire? What does the chronic stress of such worry do to their health? What do constant messages of potential danger in a place that’s supposed to be safe do to their sense of security in the world? Across the population of public school children in the United States, fear of this extraordinarily rare risk is almost certainly doing far more overall harm than have the shootings themselves, horrendous as they are.

Robby Soave might argue we’re already at maximum worrywarting:

Students across the country plan[ned] to walk out of class at 10:00 a.m. [Wednesday] to protest the government’s failure to prevent crimes like the massacre at Parkland by tightening gun laws.

In doing so, the students are providing more evidence that increased safety is indeed the paramount goal of modern millennial and Gen Z political activism. They want to feel comfortable and protected, and they are willing to curtail other people’s rights to achieve this.

“It’s not Republican or Democrat; it’s about keeping people safe,” Arielle Geismar, a 16-year-old student from Manhattan, told Vox.

Another student activist, 18-year-old Fiorina Talaba, said, “We know what we want from our society: to have less guns and, at some point, no guns at all.”*

Perhaps ironically, the administrators at Geismar’s school also cited public safety as their top concern, and used it to justify their reticence about the planned walkout:

Arielle Geismar, a 16-year-old junior at the Beacon School in Manhattan, said her school administrators were primarily focused on student safety. “There definitely was pushback in terms of disrupting classes,” she said. “But we’re going to be loud, and we’re not going to apologize for that. I think that’s also the point of the walkout. We’re going to make ourselves heard whether you want to hear it or not.”

Of course Geismar and her fellow activists shouldn’t apologize for making themselves heard, being loud, or walking out of class. Nor should their First Amendment rights be curtailed because some overly cautious administrators are concerned about safety. Public safety is frequently used as a pretext for trampling the civil rights of some group or another. Think of racist stop-and-frisk policies, the anti-Muslim bigotry of domestic War on Terror paranoia, or the immigrant purges of the Trump era. Such measures are often justified on grounds of safety, security, and comfort.

Young people would therefore be justified in treating any safety-related abridgments of their rights with skepticism. Yet this post-Parkland student activism seems grounded in the exact same thinking: that we should sacrifice the rights of one group—gun owners—in order to make everybody else feel safer.

Whether doing this would actually make anyone safer is of course the subject of considerable policy debate. But just feeling safe is incredibly important to the current crop of high school and college students, who came of age during a time of increasingly paranoid parenting and hypersensitivity toward harm. Students certainly do deserve literal safety from violence. In many ways, they already do: Schools are safer than they used to be, and mass shootings are no more common. Unfortunately, these actual, dramatic social gains might seem counterintuitive to kids who live at a time of constant media coverage of murder, terror, and death. And the right caters to these fears by pushing airport-style security, more cops in schools, and metal detectors as reasonable solutions to school shootings, even though there’s little reason to believe these ideas work.

One of the main goals of this movement is to raise the legal age to purchase an AR-15 from 18 to 21, so these young activists are sometimes clearly willing to impose limits on their own freedoms as well as other people’s. Whatever you think of the gun issue, there’s reason to be concerned about just how much freedom the fragile generation would happily give away in order to feel safer—even when they’re getting safer already.

If today’s children favor safety over freedom, their parents have failed them.

 

When protesters are wrong

Richard Kelsey has nothing good to say about yesterday’s National Walkout Day walker-outers:

If your child has cut class today to join a left-wing national walkout movement in protest of the Bill of Rights, you have failed as a parent.  You are either Constitutionally ignorant or you are a partisan zealot who has misinformed the same kid you can’t trust to make his or her bed.

Most American adults are so misinformed about the Constitution, it is frightening. Now, we are to believe their kids are the policy wonks and Bill of Rights experts this country has been missing for a few hundred years.

The only net positive about the walkout today is that in many areas, kids are leaving failed government schools that ration to them misinformation. Gleeful parents are posting on social media their pride for their kids standing up to be heard.

Here’s a surprise … I might think the kids silly and the parents stupid, but I do support the right of people to be silly and stupid. That doesn’t mean I support the right of kids to break the rules.  Nor do I support school districts improperly endorsing an anti-Bill of Rights protest by letting kids off the hook for cutting class.

It means that if protesting your own Second Amendment, Bill of Rights is so important to you, then I support you doing it.  And, I support the schools enforcing their disciplinary rules against every student.

Yes … this should go on your permanent record.

The best lesson of the day isn’t that Americans are ill-informed about the Second Amendment and the causes of gun violence by broken humans raised in broken homes generated by a decaying, left-wing society. The best lesson is that actions have consequences.

If you want to “make a stand,” and “stick it to the man,” then your stand is meaningless if no price is to be paid.

Government schools have no right to endorse or excuse kids engaged in political dissent that breaks the rules, no matter the popularity of the event. Indeed, public schools have an obligation to enforce their rules scrupulously without regard to the political message or intent.

You think this is harsh? You probably think the Second Amendment is for the police and military too.  My guess is, like your kids in the street, you are wholly ignorant of the Second Amendment and you have bought into the myths and false explanations of it.

Inform yourselves. While you are at it, inform your kids. Someone must since they cut school today.

America … the enemy of your children is you. An uninformed populace incapable of critical thought, desperate to cede to the government its most important fundamental right, is a danger to liberty and the civil society.

If you want to stop mass shootings and gun violence, raise kids in stable, educated, loving homes with two compassionate, informed, unselfish parents.

Guns don’t have anger issues, mental health issues, suicidal tendencies, psychotic breaks, or sociopathic tendencies … people do.  And they grow worse in a decaying culture of immorality, indecency, divorce, and fatherlessness.

Get out and protest the culture you built.

On root causes

Maybe instead of protesting the deaths of 17 in Parkland, Fla. (as if someone actually favors killing high school students and staff) today or the method of their deaths (as if someone bent on killing someone wouldn’t come up with another method were guns to magically disappear), perhaps today should be taken up thinking about this:

On a related theme: