Category: Culture

An old fashioned post

Finally public radio gives us information that is of interest to the public, from Audrey Nowakowski:

The brandy old fashioned, bloody mary with a beer chaser, Tom & Jerrys — Wisconsin has laid claim to many cocktails, or perhaps just made them better. In a state that continuously ranks in the top margins for alcohol consumption, Wisconsin’s drinking traditions aren’t just cherished, they’ve rarely changed.

Freelance writer Jeanette Hurt’s latest book, Wisconsin Cocktails, contains the recipes, history, and traditions surrounding most of the Dairyland’s favorite drinks. But she says perhaps the most important part of this book is setting the record straight on exactly why Wisconsinites drink brandy old fashioneds.

The common story of why Wisconsin drinks so much brandy is credited back to the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. It’s there that Captain Pabst displayed his beer, Aunt Jemima demonstrated her pancake mix, and people tasted the Californian brandy.

Since Chicago was only a train ride away, many Wisconsinites came to the exposition. And it’s been told that German Wisconsinites, in particular, loved the Korbel brothers’ brandy, which then popularized drinking brandy in the state.

“Now that sounds really interesting and that’s the story that I even wrote about at one time,” admits Hurt. “But when I was working on this book, every time I’ve talked to the folks at Korbel they’d say, ‘Well, we can’t confirm that.’ So, I’m like well what is really going on?”

This question led Hurt down a long investigative historical research road, where she looked at more than 200 years worth of newspaper microfiche for every printed reference for “brandy,” “Wisconsin,” and “cocktails.”

Hurt discovered that in 1894 there was a cocktail revolution in Milwaukee among the young German men, and one cocktail that was popular was “the Old Fashioned,” but it’s not the one Wisconsin prefers.

“Once upon a time, we drank old fashioneds like everybody else [with bitters, sugar and whiskey]. So what happened between 1894 and now?” asks Hurt.

She eventually found a Milwaukee Journal article where a reporter, who was asking the same question, discovered a man who had been in the Wisconsin liquor distribution business from post-Prohibition to the ’70s, says Hurt.

This distributor notes that there was a lot of bad booze being served during post-World War II, in part due to distilleries being shut down to send grain to Europe. “But Wisconsin distributors found a cache of something, like 30,000 cases of really good, aged Christian Brothers brandy and they bought it up,” notes Hurt.

“So in Wisconsin, if you could get bad whiskey or good brandy, rotgut rum or good brandy — what were you going to drink? You were going to drink brandy. So, people started drinking their cocktails with brandy,” she adds.

Once we started drinking brandy, brandy makers naturally started marketing to Wisconsin and the rest is bitter and muddled history. So while it’s not as romantic as brandy getting popularized by the Wisconsin Germans who visited the Chicago Exposition, Hurt says it also gives a nod to Midwestern habits of finding a good product and sticking with it.

“It’s hard to figure our the origin of some of our cocktails, but this one I feel very solid about and I feel really good setting the record straight,” Hurt admits.

I come from a long line of brandy drinkers. My grandfather drank brandy and Coke. My father drank brandy and seltzer. (Which to me has no taste.) I started drinking Old Fashioneds once I got to Southwest Wisconsin.

Blasphemy?

Caleb Shumate:

“God is in control.”

“It doesn’t matter who is president because Jesus is King!”

As a Christian who has been heavily involved in the political sphere for many years, I find myself deeply disturbed by these phrases.

Have you ever stopped and pondered the words that come out of your mouth and others’ during the times we struggle in this world? Is God truly in control of the affairs of this world—or is there something more that  Christians are missing?

While I understand that many followers of Christ may mean well when they say phrases like, “God is in control”, the reality of the matter is phrases such as this are not only untrue, but theologically lazy as well as immoral. They create an attitude of apathy in the hearts of individuals concerning the fate of this planet. This frame of mind, if allowed to mature, will give birth to all sorts of morally repugnant theology.

God is not the perpetrator of evil, nor does He even allow it. He never did, nor does He now. To imply that God is in control of all things in this world would mean that He at least allows evil—or worse, causes evil as some part of a divine scheme. I realize some of you just read those words and thought I must have never even read the Bible, because what about all that violent stuff in the Old Testament that the writers say God did, right? Many Christians do not realize that the Old Testament writers believed that Satan was the left hand of God who dealt out fiery wrath, judgment, and condemnation. This can most famously be seen in the Old Testament story of Job, which many modern-day Christians misinterpret through centuries of misguided teaching.

When Jesus came to earth, he taught that Satan is purely evil and does not operate under the guidance or allowance of God, who is a good Father to His core. Satan is the enemy of God as Christ said in Luke 10:18, “While you were ministering, I watched Satan topple until he fell suddenly from heaven like lightning to the ground.” (TPT)  (For more evidence that Satan the author of all evil, see John 8:44,  Hebrews 2:14, and 1 John 2:16)
Richard K. Murray, the author of the book, God Versus Evil: Sculpting An Epic Theology of God’s Heroic Goodness, states it beautifully when he says, “Any evil that is comes from the free wills of angels or men. The misuse of free wills of angels or men, that’s what Augustine believed that’s what the church fathers believed, they did not blame evil on God. They did not say God soveriginly commanded evil events or even destructive events. They instead used something called the rule of character and the rule of character is that no matter what the Bible literally says about God’s judgment or God sending evil, it has to be reinterpreted by the love and nature of Jesus.”

In political application, if government grows due to our allowance of tyrannical elected officials either through our approval or apathy, we can’t turn around and think that God caused or allowed this as some sort of punishment, or that He allowed for tyranny to come to America. That is entirely on us as American Christians. 

That is not to say that God will not hear our prayers or that He will not divinely intervene at times to correct our screwups because He will. But God will not do for us what He has given us as believers the power and authority to do in Him. Jesus said to his disciples in  John 14:12-14 (AMPC),

I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, if anyone steadfastly believes in Me, he will himself be able to do the things that I do; and he will do even greater things than these because I go to the Father.

13 And I will do [I Myself will grant] whatever you ask in My Name [as [a]presenting all that I Am], so that the Father may be glorified and extolled in (through) the Son.

14 [Yes] I will grant [I Myself will do for you] whatever you shall ask in My Name [as [b]presenting all that I Am]. 

We must not forget that as it was in the Book of Genesis, God gave humanity dominion over this world that never changed from the beginning until now. The only thing that has changed is that He sent Jesus to destroy the barrier of sin that humanity placed between ourselves and God. 

Followers of Jesus Christ are the literal hands and feet of Christ; it is high time we put away this demonically-guided theology of apathy and stop blaming God when evil spreads. It is time that we understand that it is our responsibility to purge the evil from this world with the direction and guidance of God so that Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane will be a reality, “on Earth as it is in Heaven”. We must stand against all evil in this world. We must stand against evil in all its forms. We must stand against tyrants who seek to kill, steal, and destroy in the spirit of Satan. 

We can and we must rid the world of evil, and not allow those who wish to turn this world into hell to have their way. Jesus said in Luke 4:18-19 (CSB)

 18 The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. 

We must follow His example and prevail against evil. If we do not, someone else will. The choice is ours. Will we work with Him? Or allow the consequences of apathy to take root? 

For “everyone” who “needs to read this”

On Facebook yesterday someone posted this, with the command “Everyone needs to read this.”

So, for those who slavishly follow dictates from others, here is Mitch Albom, of “Tuesdays with Morrie” fame, who wrote this on Election Day:

To be honest, I am less concerned with what we do Tuesday than what we do Wednesday, Thursday, and every day thereafter. My biggest fear isn’t who sits in the Oval Office come January; if the rest of us keep conducting ourselves the way we have been the last six months, it won’t make a difference.

We have more than taken sides in America. We have tunneled moats. In the name of “our way” we have demeaned, denigrated, destroyed. We’ve lost friends, alienated families, split our communities by lawn signs. We have hurt one another, emotionally and even sometimes physically. Yet far from looking at our guilty hands in regret, we continue to make fists and shake them across the great divide.

Is this who we want to be?

Let me start in my own backyard. The media. I used to be so proud of this business. I would defend it to any critic. I’d point to the need for an independent press as the only thing standing between big power and big money running rampant over the citizenry.

Now it seems we are running alongside them.

Some of us are even carrying their banners.

The partisanship of the news has never been worse. Subtlety is a memory. Asking for balance brings an eye roll, as if asking an adult to finger paint.

Cable news has long been considered slanted, but there used to be an attempt to acknowledge another side. Not anymore. Fox News will regularly begin programs with reminders that you only have so many days left to vote for President Trump and a future, or Joe Biden and earthly destruction. Biden is mocked, referred to with nasty nicknames, and regularly derided for his age and cognitive abilities. In recent days, the Hunter Biden story either leads or is highly featured nightly.

Meanwhile, you can’t find that story on the CNN or MSNBC broadcasts. It doesn’t exist. Instead, Trump gets a daily and nightly skewering on coronavirus, and is the focus and blame for a large percentage of their stories and panels. Even the rare piece of positive data — i.e. last week’s report of record GDP growth for the third quarter — gets the “Yeah, but…” treatment. Snide asides are now woven into the dialogues.

This is bad behavior. It’s also bad, period, because so many Americans get their information from cable news.

The print media used to be different. It used to take pride in standing above such food fights.

Not anymore. In many places, print has abandoned even the pretense of objectivity. It’s very hard, for example, to read the Op-Ed sections of the New York Times or Washington Post and think you’re getting an evenly balanced chorus. (Thursday’s Times featured op-ed pieces with these titles: “How Trump Lowered America’s Standing in the World,” “Trump Killed the Pax Americana,” “Four Wasted Years Thinking About Donald Trump,” “Lies, Damned Lies and Trump Rallies” and, too rich for irony, “Five Great Things Joe Biden Has Already Done.”)

The Wall Street Journal — which leans decidedly in the opposite direction — ran an op-ed last week claiming those in charge of once-traditional newsrooms defend and protect Joe Biden “on the grounds that Donald Trump is a unique threat to democracy and that they have been forced to take commensurately unusual measures.”

If true, that’s the problem. We can’t throw out the rules of journalism because we feel it’s our moral imperative to replace one guy with another. Who put us in charge? Many in our business act as if we’re simply smarter than the common folk who vote, and it is therefore our duty to give those people what’s good for them.

When I watched the recent 60 Minutes interview with Trump — in which he evidenced more bad behavior by walking out before it was done — I took note of one question by the interviewer, Lesley Stahl. She asked, “Can you characterize your supporters?”

It struck me as odd. Would that be asked of Biden? It’s as if those who support the current president are a strange cult, a foreign herd with wacked-out beliefs, instead of nearly half the country based on the 2016 election. Then again, as a Midwesterner, it often seems that many coastal “experts” can’t grasp why anybody out here votes the way they do. That’s not journalistic curiosity. That’s hubris.

And more bad behavior.

Of course, we have plenty of inspiration from the politicians themselves. You can start with the president. There is no question his preening, his prevarication, his fast-and-loose-with-the-facts approach and his infatuation with putting people down is, by any measure, bad behavior. Heck, many of his supporters will admit that. He gathers masses with no COVID-19 concern. He lauds his staff members, then trashes them if they dare speak their mind. The Republican senators, congresspersons and governors behind him often seem to have taken a see-no-evil, hear-no-evil pact.

But if you think that makes his opponents holy, you’re not being fair. Joe Biden brags about his “transparency,” but he barked, “No they don’t,” when a reporter asked if the public had a right to know his stance on Supreme Court packing, and he remains radio silent about his son’s business dealings, carefully avoiding any situations where he might be asked a single question. Is that really being “transparent?”

As for decorum? Nancy Pelosi called the president “morbidly obese” and said he’s like a kid “with doggy doo on his shoes.” Chuck Schumer threatened Supreme Court justices, saying, “You won’t know what hit you.” Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono, instead of casting a simple “nay” vote on Justice Amy Coney Barrett, marched to the table and declared, “Hell, no.” And for adopting two kids from impoverished Haiti, Barrett was likened to a “white colonizer” and her kids as “props” by a celebrated author and professor.

Are we proud to express ourselves that way? Is that admirable behavior?

We’ve attacked one another over the simple act of wearing a mask. People have been shot. A security guard was killed. Over a mask? We die on the hill for that?

The summer of protests saw many good people gathering to be heard. That’s our right, something to preserve. But the looting, burning, destruction and intimidation of innocent citizens was far too often excused or ignored because, once again, certain forces felt bad behavior, even violent behavior, was justified in the current ideological struggle.

Well, here’s some breaking news: the struggle isn’t going away. It won’t magically disappear on Tuesday night. We will eventually have a freshly elected president, but he’ll be presiding over the same nation, the same people, the same Congress, the same media and the same disagreements.

We keep acting as if this is the first time liberal and conservative have clashed, the first time race or police have been issues, the first time we’ve faced a health pandemic. None of that is true. And all of these things will repeat themselves in the future. In fact, they’ll all still be here, smack in our face, come Wednesday morning.

How will we be any different?

A common refrain has been, “If Trump goes away, we’ll all go back to being nicer.” That’s naïve, like a 5-year-old pointing to his kid brother and saying, “He started it!”

The fact is, we’ve gotten quite used to behaving badly. To rude and self-righteous postures. So when do we stop? The Republicans shoved through a Supreme Court justice because they had the power; now the Democrats threaten to pack the court if they have the power. Does that sound like a stop? Twitter and Facebook, who brazenly act as editors of their users’ viewpoints, aren’t getting any smaller. Where’s the stopping there? No matter who wins the White House, half the country will view it as Armageddon and vow to fight the oppressors.

Does that sound like an ending — or a beginning?

A recent poll showed three out of four Americans are concerned about violence on Election Day. City stores are being boarded up. Security is being strengthened near expensive properties. Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills is literally shutting itself down Tuesday and Wednesday. Violence when we vote? Does that sound like America, or a revolution in some small, war-torn country halfway around the world?

We are stressed, locked down, haunted by a common enemy virus that should have united us but instead divided us further. The truth is, our future won’t be determined by who we choose to lead us this week. It will be determined by how we act after we do.

An American president, when he wakes up, doesn’t step off a cloud. He is a representative, nothing more. What will he represent? What will we represent? Think about the friends we’ve lost this election season. The neighbors we’ve alienated. Who will we be on Wednesday, Thursday and beyond?

I know this: If the winners gloat and the losers threaten, we won’t be any better than we’ve been the last six months. And does anyone really want the country of the last six months to be the country of the next four years?

In spite of the admonition that is usually a sign for me to ignore what I have been commanded to read, Albom makes numerous good points here, but ignores the biggest point of all.

The obvious reason things are like this today is that government and therefore politics is too large and therefore too important. The political behavior we see today is the logical result of the overwhelming power government has at every level. When government is as large and powerful as it is, winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing. That means politicians and their supporters will do and say anything to get into power and to stay in power. (How we have not had widespread assassinations so far is beyond my understanding.)

Cases in point: Democratic Assembly candidates Kriss Marion, Erik Brooks, Emily Siegrist, Kristin Lyerly and Sarah Yacoub. Each raised between $390,000 and $540,000, and each spent between $335,000 and $409,000 running for their Assembly seats. Each outspent their Republican opponents. They have one other thing in common: Each of them lost. That’s a hell of a lot of work for a job that pays $60,000 a year.

Why would donors give a collective $14.34 million to the winners and losers of 99 Assembly seats? Why would those candidates spend almost $11.4 million? Because of the power the Legislature has in this state. You want to fix our culture? Take away Madison’s power. And while you’re at it, defang cities, villages, towns and cities as well.

The related thing Albom missed is Americans’ increasing inability to leave each other alone and increasing judgmentalism of others. Increasingly Americans appear to want to force others to do things the way they want, and of course run to government to attain their goals for others.

I would say that Democrats and liberals (but I repeat myself) are the worst offenders. The joke is that conservative atheists just don’t go to church, conservative vegetarians just don’t eat meat, and conservatives who don’t like guns don’t own gun; liberal atheists try to prove that God doesn’t exist and want to ban religion, liberal vegetarians want to prevent you from eating meat, and liberals try to ban guns.

One of the unfortunate trends of the Trump era has been conservatives acting like liberals, not in beliefs, but in, for instance, being as nasty as liberals after liberals lose elections. There is no question that four years of Donald Trump is the result of eight years of Barack Obama because curiously conservatives don’t like being called “bitter clingers” or “deplorables.” And while Trump may have lost the election, the GOP did better than anyone thought likely in large part, I believe, to liberals continuing to underestimate conservatives’ intelligence and belittle conservatives because conservatives don’t agree with liberals on political issues.

 

None so blind as those who will not see

Robby Soave:

When Donald Trump pulled off a stunning upset and won the presidency in 2016, few people were more shocked than the professional take-havers in the mainstream media. Pundits, journalists, and political strategists—who live in Washington, D.C., or New York City but seldom leave their Twitter bubbles—were totally blindsided by the fact that a crass reality TV star had managed to defeat Hillary Clinton, the embodiment of the Democratic establishment.

A healthy media might have learned from its mistakes, engaged in soul-searching, and tried to gain some insights into the working-class coalition that Trump had assembled. Clearly, this didn’t happen, because four years later—in the midst of a nail-bitingly close election—the predictions of the pundit class have proven to be no more accurate than they were in 2016. In fact, by some measures the experts performed even worse than last time: The pre-election polls, which suggested a landslide Biden victory, Democratic control of the Senate, and gains in the House, are so spectacularly wrong it calls the validity of the profession into doubt.

To take just one example, Sen. Susan Collins (R–Maine), for instance, did not lead her Democratic challenger, Sara Gideon, in a single poll of the Maine senate race. She was thought to be losing by 5, 6, or 7 points. (Quinnipiac had her down 12 points in September.) On Wednesday afternoon, Gideon conceded the race, which Collins won easily.

And while Biden currently looks likely to narrowly eke out a presidential victory, he is underperforming the polls in several states. In 2016, pollsters could reasonably claim that the numbers actually showed a very close and ever-tightening race in battleground states like Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania: Trump’s win, though surprising, wasn’t exactly outside the range of possible outcomes. This time, the public was primed for a blowout that never materialized.

This means, of course, that the mainstream media narrative about the “shy,” reluctant, or otherwise undercounted Trump voter—namely, that he does not exist—was completely, utterly, bafflingly wrong: Once again, Trump is more popular than the media thought was possible.

Perhaps more importantly, the media continues to be wrong about why Trump is popular, and about which people like him. Unable to admit that a Democratic Party held hostage by liberal arts graduates who write their preferred pronouns on their name tags might be out of touch with the working class voters who traditionally vote blue, many cable news talking heads settled on any number of alternative explanations: from Russian interference to lingering, perhaps resurgent, racism throughout the U.S. (CNN’s Van Jones called it a “whitelash” in 2016.)

Trump, though appears to have improved—albeit modestly—his totals with minority voters, including and especially Latino voters. The narrative that Trump’s divisive rhetoric about foreigners and immigrants renders him completely toxic to minority voters just doesn’t match the reality. Indeed, the results thus far suggested that the racial gap—at least for Latinos—is shrinking, and class and educational attainment are becoming more salient considerations than race.

It’s unfortunate that many within the media—including and especially the prognosticators—continue to get things so wrong. Massive polling errors are bad for cultivating a well-informed citizenry, as David Graham argues in The Atlantic:

Without reliable sources of information about public opinion, the press, and by extension, the public, should perhaps employ a measure of humility about what we can and can’t know in politics. As wise as this may be—and even if people manage to act on it—that sort of epistemic humility risks falling prey to the same asymmetrical warfare that has characterized much of the Trump era. At the moment, the leader of the Republican Party is an authoritarian populist who claims to represent the “true” will of the people, despite losing the popular vote twice. The president is unlikely to exercise any such humility in claiming, without evidence, that public opinion is with him. He might be wrong, but without reliable polls, who’s to say otherwise?

Given the narrowness of Biden’s presumed victory, it seems unlikely that Trumpism has been dealt anything resembling a death blow. The GOP will have little reason to shun Trump; on the contrary, given the results in 2016, 2018, and now 2020, one could make the case that the Republican Party performs better with Trump’s name on the ballot than without it. Those in the mainstream media who continue to fail to understand Trump aren’t going to get off easy: They just plain have to get better at this, or they will continue to lose ground to their challengers in the alternative media.

Several people who fall into this latter category—which includes a bevy of populism-sympathetic podcasters and upstart policy advocates—were recently profiled in The FederalistPublisher Ben Domenech and culture editor Emily Jashinsky call them the new contrarians, or “the New Contras for short, because the one thing they all have in common is refusing the wokeness that dominates legacy media, and has created a practically religious climate of insufferable identity politics.” They cite Glenn Greenwald and Katie Herzog as two such New Contras: Both were solid journalists of the left, gradually chased out of respectable leftwing journalism spaces for disagreeing with mainstream orthodoxy.

Institutions like The New York Times and The Atlantic have grown much more squeamish about inviting dissenters into their midst. Publications are now occasionally beholden to staffers who think it’s the job of journalists to run interference for the Democratic Party and hide stories from readers if they could conceivably help Trump. Many young rising stars in the world of investigative reporting think newsrooms have wrongly prioritized objectivity and should move toward a kind of “moral clarity” that is likely to make their institutions even more confused about why millions of people—roughly half the country—have aligned themselves with Donald Trump.

As independent thinkers exit the mainstream media, groupthink and blind spots among the legacy press are likely to get worse. The result would be a travesty, and not an outcome anyone should want or root for.

The Looney and Merrie arts

Will Friedwald writes about …

There’s a telling moment in the 1940 Tex Avery cartoon “A Wild Hare” when Bugs Bunny sneaks up behind Elmer Fudd, covers his adversary’s eyes with his hands, and instructs him to “Guess who!” The hunter reels off a list of contemporary leading ladies, including, as expressed in his exaggerated speech impediment, “Cawole Wombard.” Yet even though one of the actresses in the list, “Owivia DeHaviwand,” lived until July of this year, the joke has largely been lost on younger generations—because most viewers born after 1970 have barely heard of most of the movie stars of Hollywood’s golden age.

And that’s the most salient fact about this remarkable cartoon rabbit, a venerable Warner Bros. star who is currently celebrating his 80th birthday (at least in human years). Bugs fans can enjoy a three-disc Blu-ray set being released in December by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment; if you don’t want to wait, he’s also featured in an excellent series, developed by Peter Browngardt, of newly produced Looney Tunes cartoons (viewable on YouTube and HBO Max). Although your average millennial scratches his head at the mention of Barbara Stanwyck, everybody knows Bugs Bunny.

Bugs’s durability clearly has something to do with his intrinsic status as an underdog. Even before “A Wild Hare,” which is generally considered the first full-blown Bugs Bunny cartoon, the directors and animators working for (infamously hands-off) producer Leon Schlesinger had experimented with the notion of a hunted animal—the prey—turning the tables on its armed predator in a prototypical series of hunter-and-rabbit cartoons from 1938-40. Less than 18 months after the cartoon’s release, America itself would seem like a plucky underdog, entering a war in which the whole world was being menaced by little men with big guns. (“A Wild Hare” ends patriotically with Bugs re-creating the “Spirit of ’76” march.)

The tropes in “A Wild Hare” immediately established the rules of the hunter and the game: In their many encounters to follow, we’d find a clueless Elmer unaware that he is talking to Bugs—followed by a dramatic realization (“that was the wabbit!”); a comic death scene by Bugs—followed by exaggerated guilt pangs from Elmer. Nearly two decades later, “What’s Opera, Doc,” perhaps the single best Bugs Bunny cartoon, readdressed all those leitmotifs in grandly Wagnerian terms. The No. 1 rule isn’t so much that Bugs always wins (although that’s usually the case), but that physical aggression is always punished. Bugs triumphs by driving his antagonists crazy (as he does in “A Wild Hare”); rather than by responding with force, Bugs will taunt, tease and gaslight them until they just quit in sheer frustration. The only times Bugs loses are those rare instances when he is the aggressor, as in his three encounters with his persistent racing opponent, Cecil Turtle.

Yet as firm as the rules are, there was room for infinite variation on those familiar themes. And while the brilliant voice actor Mel Blanc gave Bugs his distinctive—and consistent—New York accent, there were noticeable differences in the approaches of the various directors: Bob Clampett’s Bugs was the most wacky, egomaniacal, out-of-control incarnation of the rabbit, in distinct contrast to Chuck Jones’s vision of the character, who was much more coolly calculating. Friz Freleng gave us a highly theatrical Bugs who seemed to exist on a vaudeville stage, always ready at the drop of a downbeat to fly into song and dance.

Even so, those directorial transformations are subtle compared with those that Bugs himself effortlessly achieves. He instantly morphs into the king of England, an imperious symphonic conductor, and a variety of drag roles—from a perky bobby-soxer to a Noo Yawk manicurist to a Teutonic Valkyrie perched on a corpulent white steed.

“Bugs needed a stronger adversary than Elmer, because Elmer was about as stupid as you could get,” Freleng said. “So I came up finally with a character called Yosemite Sam.” And in a cartoon parallel to the Cold War arms race, Bugs’s adversaries grew increasingly powerful over the years. Elmer toted a rifle he rarely used, but Sam’s six-shooters were constantly a-blazing. The rogues’ gallery of heavies gradually grew to include predatory animals (a wolf, a lion, a bear, a hunting dog), mad scientists, a furry monster, giants, an abominable snowman, a gorilla, a pirate, a Martian, a Nazi, a witch, and a Tasmanian devil. In several episodes he even goes up against the entire U.S. Army.

Bugs sometimes presents himself as an actor in a role, although in especially meta moments he is conscious of being a pen-and-ink creation. But Chuck Jones was fond of a little boy’s response when his father introduced the cartoonist as “the man who draws Bugs Bunny.” The child protested that Jones didn’t “draw Bugs Bunny”—rather, he drew “pictures of Bugs Bunny.” The difference is crucial. Even now, as an octogenarian, Bugs is alive and well, no matter who is drawing him.

My two favorites are …

Biden’s “dregs”

Tyler O’Neil:

Liberals often mock conservative Christians for supporting a notorious sinner and philanderer in Donald Trump, but the left has grown increasingly hostile to biblical (small-o) orthodox Christianity. Even the ostensibly moderate Democratic nominee Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. represents an insidious threat to the religious freedom of conservative Christians. He also represents a threat to Roman Catholics, even though he is himself a practicing Catholic.

How could this be? Biden’s rhetoric and policies single out those who adhere to traditional religious beliefs and moral convictions, aiming to limit their ability to live by their consciences and ostracizing them from polite society. The Democrat may outwardly campaign on a platform of unity and diversity, but his candidacy truly represents a threat to traditional religious believers.

The most recent evidence of this insidious threat came last week, when a Biden staffer suggested that traditional religious beliefs that homosexual acts are sinful and that marriage is between one man and one woman should be so “taboo” as to disqualify someone from serving on the Supreme Court.

Politico contributing editor Adam Wren noted that President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett “was a trustee at a South Bend private school that described ‘homosexual acts’ as ‘at odds with Scripture’ & said marriage was between ‘one man and one woman’ years after Obergefell v. Hodges.”

Shadi Hamid, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, responded, “Wait, why is this news? Isn’t this the standard position for any orthodox Catholic?”

Nikitha Rai, deputy data director for Pennsylvania at Biden’s campaign, responded to Hamid, saying, “Unfortunately, yes.”

Hamid responded, “to be fair, it’s the standard position for any orthodox Muslim or Jew as well…”

“True,” Rai acknowledged. Yet the staffer insisted that this perspective must be marginalized. “I’d heavily prefer views like that not be elevated to SCOTUS [the Supreme Court of the U.S.], but unfortunately our current culture is still relatively intolerant. It will be a while before those types of beliefs are so taboo that they’re disqualifiers.”

Rai suggested that presidents and the U.S. Senate should apply a religious test for Supreme Court nominations and confirmations. The Constitution explicitly forbids a religious test for service in government. Article VI Clause 3 reads in part, “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

Nikitha Rai is just one Biden staffer. She doesn’t represent the entire Biden campaign, right? On the contrary, Rai’s insistence that traditional religious beliefs on marriage and sexuality should be taboo fits perfectly with the candidate at the top of the Democratic ticket.

In 2018, Biden described conservatives who oppose LGBT activism as “the dregs of society.”

Speaking to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Biden attacked people who have “tried to define family” in the U.S. “Despite losing in the courts and in the court of public opinion, these forces of intolerance remain determined to undermine and roll back the progress you all have made. This time they, not you, have an ally in the White House,” he said of President Donald Trump.

“They’re a small percentage of the American people, virulent people, some of them the dregs of society,” Biden added. “And instead of using the full might of the executive branch to secure justice, dignity, safety for all, the president uses the White House as a literal bully pulpit, callously exerting his power over those who have little or none.”

As my colleague Paula Bolyard reported, Biden again spoke to HRC in June 2019. On that occasion, he called the Orwellian Equality Act his first priority. The so-called Equality Act would force biblical orthodox Christians to violate their consciences on LGBT activism. It would also open women’s sports and women’s private spaces to biological males, undercutting fair play and privacy. A broad coalition of diverse groups allied to oppose the Equality Act, including pro-lifers, religious freedom advocates, and radical feminists.

Yet of the Equality Act, Biden said, “I promise you if I’m elected president it will be the first thing I ask to be done. It will send a message around the world, not just at home.”

“This is our soul, da*mit, this is who we have to be… This is our real moral obligation,” the Democrat added. “Using religion or culture to discriminate against or demonize LGBTQ individuals is never justified. Not anywhere in the world.”

Interestingly, while Biden vocally condemns traditional believers in such harsh terms, he has remained curiously silent on the horrific attacks against Catholic statues and churches amid the George Floyd riots this summer — despite his Catholic identity.

Americans do not support discrimination, but Democrats have twisted the notion of discrimination in order to force Christians to violate their beliefs.

Christian baker Jack Phillips, for example, refused to bake a custom cake for a same-sex wedding, although he gladly sells all sorts of pre-made cakes to LGBT people in his shop. Yet the Colorado Civil Rights Commission ruled that he had discriminated against people on the basis of sexual orientation. He appealed the case all the way to the Supreme Court and won — because members of the commission displayed animus against his religious faith, comparing his views to those of the Nazis.

Even after this Supreme Court victory, Phillips again faced the commission. A transgender lawyer asked him to bake an obscene custom cake celebrating the lawyer’s gender transition. Phillips refused, citing his free speech right not to be forced to endorse a view with which he disagrees. The commission again found him guilty of discrimination, but it dropped the complaint in March 2019. The lawyer promptly sued PhillipsChristian floristsfarmers, and other bakers have faced government sanctions for “discrimination” when they refused to celebrate same-sex weddings, exercising their rights to religious freedom, freedom of association, and free speech.

This year, Gov. Ralph Northam (D-Va.) signed legislation that will force Christian schools and ministries to hire people who oppose their religious convictions on sexuality and gender. The laws will also force these ministries — which hold that God created humans male and female — to open women’s sports and women’s restrooms to biological males, to refer to biological males by female pronouns if they “identify” as female, and to pay for transgender surgery in their health care plans.

A lawsuit challenging the new laws as unconstitutional charged that Virginia’s LGBT statues force “people of faith to adopt a particular government ideology under threat of punishment.”

This religious freedom battle in Virginia is just a small taste of what the Equality Act threatens nationwide.

Joe Biden’s opposition to the “discrimination” from the “dregs of society” represents a tragically mainstream view in the Democratic Party. Last year, the Democratic National Committee adopted a resolution condemning religious freedom defenses.

“[T]hose most loudly claiming that morals, values, and patriotism must be defined by their particular religious views have used those religious views, with misplaced claims of ‘religious liberty,’ to justify public policy that has threatened the civil rights and liberties of many Americans, including but not limited to the LGBT community, women, and ethnic and religious/nonreligious minorities,” the DNC resolution states.

Senate Democrats have launched attacks on the religious faith of Trump nominees, with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) infamously saying, “the dogma lives loudly within you.” Former Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) compared a conservative Christian law firm to the Cambodian dictator Pol Pot, citing the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) “hate group” accusation against mainstream conservative and Christian groups.

The SPLC faced a devastating sexual harassment and racial discrimination scandal last year, and former employees outed the “hate” accusations as a cynical fundraising scheme. An attempted terrorist tried to kill everyone at a conservative Christian nonprofit due to the SPLC’s “hate group” accusation, but Democrats continue to cite the SPLC as a reliable arbiter of hate.

Biden’s running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), has proven one of the worst offenders. In May 2018, Harris launched an inquisition into the Roman Catholic faith of two of Trump’s judicial nominees — because they were members of the Roman Catholic fraternal order the Knights of Columbus Harris also cited the SPLC in branding Alliance Defending Freedom, the conservative Christian law firm that defended Jack Phillips, a “hate group.”

While serving as California’s attorney general, Harris refused to defend the state law defining marriage as between one man and one woman — even though Californians had voted for it in 2008. Adding insult to injury, Harris rushed to officiate the first same-sex marriage after a court struck down the will of the people.

Animus against conservative Christians is a growing problem among American elites, and it arguably fuels the legacy media’s astounding ignorance of Christian doctrine.

In the book So Many Christians, So Few Lions: Is There Christianophobia in the United States? sociology professors George Yancey and David Williamson painstakingly document the presence of bias against conservative Christians, proving that it is as real as animus against Muslims and Jews. Indeed, Yancey’s most recent research shows that animus against Christians leads some people to support LGBT activism, even when they have a low opinion of LGBT people.

Democrats represent this Christianophobia in political form. Even though Biden is a practicing Roman Catholic, his candidacy represents an insidious threat to traditional Christianity, including orthodox Roman Catholic positions on sexuality and gender.

Those who support traditional marriage or the biological definition of sex as male or female will find their beliefs demonized and their religious freedom and free speech under fire in a Biden administration. It does not matter that supporters of traditional marriage or biological sex are a rather diverse group, including Roman Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox Christians, Jews, Muslims, even atheists, and radical feminists. Biden’s presidency would represent a threat to all of them.

Interestingly, Biden’s own church does not perform same-sex marriages and considers sex of any kind outside marriage to be a sin. Unfortunately, as with Hillary Clinton’s supporters four years ago, many Americans are just fine with discriminating against those with traditional religious views.

What is taught (and not) in school today

Anthony Jones:

I gathered with the entire student body of Wyoming Catholic College on Sept. 17, 2019, for a mandatory celebration of Constitution Day. We began with the Pledge of Allegiance, witnessed a lively panel discussion between professors on the history and modern relevance of America’s founding principles, and concluded by singing patriotic songs.

If you are a student at a typical American university, that description probably sounds foreign to anything you have experienced. Anti-Americanism has spread across college campuses like a wildfire, igniting rage and resentment against anything perceived as oppressive — even the American flag. As a result, most universities would likely shy away from a celebration of our nation’s founding in favor of more “inclusive” events.

And that’s why university officials have been among the first to lash out at President Donald Trump’s still vague calls for “patriotic education” in our schools.

In a Gallup poll this June, only 63% of U.S. adults say they are either “extremely proud” or “very proud” to be American, the lowest level of patriotism ever recorded since Gallup first asked the question in 2001. Among members of my generation, the youngest surveyed, patriots are in the minority. Only 4 out of 10 respondents ages 18-34 claim to be extremely or very proud of being American.

Unfortunately, many people my age do not believe that America is worth loving. This position is certainly understandable. Recent riots, violence and corruption remind us that America is far from perfect. Patriotism, however, does not claim a country is without flaws. In fact, many people who identify as patriotic do not always feel proud of their government, their fellow citizens or even themselves.

As English author G.K. Chesterton explained, patriotism treats one’s country like a family member — you love it simply because it is yours, and that love motivates you to mend any imperfections. Today, that motivating force is rapidly receding.

Mark Twain defined patriotism as loving your country all the time and your government when it deserves it. Bill Clinton said you cannot love your country and hate your government. He was wrong.

But there’s nothing new here. The medieval philosopher St. Thomas Aquinas once observed, “Love follows knowledge.” Love of country is no different; I believe our lack of patriotism stems from a lack of knowledge.

You would think knowledge isn’t in short supply, considering members of Generation Z have grown up with smartphones and, according to Pew Research Center data, are on track to be the most highly educated generation yet. Yet in a typical American university, a basic account of the nation’s history is hard to come by.

2016 report from the American Council of Trustees and Alumni found that more than two-thirds of top U.S. colleges do not require history majors to take a single course on United States history. Instead, several colleges require history majors to “complete coursework on areas outside the United States.”

This trend is disturbing, to say the least. This standard for history education is a cafeteria-style menagerie of classes that emphasize a global timeline over the events that have shaped America. Without knowledge of our country’s particular history, we lose a sense of our shared identity and its characteristic values, including perseverance, integrity and freedom.

The problem extends well beyond a simple lack of information. A 2019 Title VI complaint filed against the UCLA alleges a professor cited “killing people, colonialism and white supremacy” as American values. On the contrary, they are stark departures from the goals of freedom and equality lauded in our founding documents.

The principles of the founding should be lauded as guiding stars amid the stormy sea of relativism, not extra weight to be thrown overboard.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Some colleges — like mine — offer a holistic perspective of American history and honor our characteristic values. If you are a proud American, consider attending or supporting these colleges and aspire to continually fulfill the mission of our Constitution’s preamble: to “secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” The stakes are higher than ever, and we hold the nation’s fate in our hands.

Democrats vs. men

Readers might remember that in the wake of 9/11, there was a school of thought that the Republican Party was the “daddy party” and the Democratic Party was the “mommy party.”

Alex Perez might have something like that in mind:

A year after the 2016 election, I overheard my first conversation in which two young men of color discussed the political issues of the day. I don’t remember what they were going on about, but the fact that they were going on about politics—and with such fervor! — was what struck immediately, as young men discussing politics was a rarity in my working-class Miami neighborhood, where typically it was older men who engaged in these sometimes heated discussions.

Sitting across from them at Starbucks, I noted their interaction as an entertaining anomaly and chalked it up to the current hyper-politicized cultural moment in which anyone, at any time, might surprise you with their clearly newfound interest in politics. Which is to say that I expected to encounter no more than a handful of these political squabbles between young men of color in the ensuing years of the Trump era, as the possibility of a broad political realignment driven by this traditionally disinterested demographic went against all conventional wisdom and seemed far-fetched, even to someone on the ground witnessing its inception — boy, was I wrong.

In the months and years to follow, all over Miami, in bars, coffee shops, and at the gym, I would overhear–and was sometimes pulled into — these rudimentary political conversations between young men of color. What was immediately obvious was that a majority, if not all, of these young men were brought into their nascent political awareness by issues relating to their masculinity and manhood. An archetype emerged: these were young men who never thought about politics until politics knocked on their door and made them aware of its existence. Like so many, personal grievance is what drove them into the political arena and what was driving their politics. The gist of their beef: When the hell did it stop being okay to be a regular dude?

My initial impulse was to think that these encounters were statistical outliers, the product of living in a community that sometimes suffers from overly chauvinist tendencies, but as their frequency increased, I realized that if you come up against enough anecdotal evidence, at a certain point it stops being anecdotal. There was clearly a trend, and my amateur hypothesis at the time was that this phenomenon wasn’t localized to Miami, but that young Hispanic and African-American men all over the country were politicizing, and whether they knew it yet or not, would play an important role in the next presidential election. I suspect that this trend has been obvious for some time now to anyone who lives in an urban center, but recently, New York Times columnist Charles Blow was recently caught off guard by the new reality and tweeted:

“Today my friends in Atlanta (black) saw a Facebook message from their old barber (black) imploring them all to vote for [President Donald] Trump. Don’t think that Trump’s message doesn’t resonate with a certain sector of black men. Also, barbers have a lot of sway in the black community.”

Blow’s alarm comes from the realization that this new voting bloc — a young, multicultural male coalition — might not be traditionally conservative, but on account of the progressive left’s post-2016 stance on masculinity, definitely won’t be voting democratic if they vote at all. The size of this coalition is not yet known, but if the polls showing Trump drawing support with Hispanics and slightly increasing approval among African-Americans are accurate, we might already have the answer — large enough to play a significant role in the election. The upcoming election will be won on the margins, and if this multicultural male coalition shows up and votes, there’s no doubt who they’ll be pulling the lever for—Trump.

The responses to Blow’s Twitter warning range from disbelief to outright rage, but what these hardcore progressives are really saying is, “Why? How can this be? Aren’t all minorities and people of color on our side?”

The race-essentialist line of thinking that has taken over the Democratic Party in which race determines worldview and political affiliation — and everything else for that matter — leaves one blind to other traits and beliefs that play a significant role in constituting a person’s identity. In this case, they missed what is painfully obvious to anyone who isn’t blinded by race obsession: most men, irrespective of color or creed, think of themselves as traditionally masculine. The political awakening of young men of color, then, can be traced to the media’s treatment of white Americans, and more specifically, white men, after Trump’s victory in 2016. Unable to look inward and reassess as to why they’d completely misread what was going on in the country, the media and its acolytes in the Democratic establishment needed a villainous scapegoat in order to explain the catastrophic failure of understanding that had delivered the final blow of obsolescence to the expert class. The new narrative was as quickly constructed as it was lacking in nuance: white Americans, seeped and soaked in white rage and white privilege, wanted to take the country back to its racist past.

“Toxic masculinity,” a new catchphrase that had escaped academia and taken root in the demented Internet hive-mind, was added to the mix, and the post-2016 explanation was set in stone: white men, who suffer from toxic masculinity more than other men — due to the weakness of their whiteness, of course — were specifically to blame for Trump and the rest of the country’s ills. If you were online during this time, I don’t have to remind you that for months on end, a steady stream of articles and essays and tedious explainers were published on a near-daily basis by mainstream outlets.

In short, the idea behind toxic masculinity is simple: traditional conception of masculinity, even in its most benign facets, is at the root of all civilizational rot — men must be rehabilitated, lest they continue ruining the country and the planet. The mainstreaming of this narrative cleared the way for what would become a full-on assault on masculinity and the cultural uprisings that followed. There was the rise of the well-intentioned Me Too movement and the overreach of said movement; the derangement of the Kavanaugh hearings, in which anything said by a woman, no matter how unbelievable it may sound, was to be believed.

And on top of all of this, the media landscape, academia, the corporate world, and other institutions which had been feminizing and increasingly catering to an effete woke mindset, accelerated their efforts in creating spaces devoid of men and masculinity. All of this cultural engineering was framed as a way to remove toxically masculine white men from positions of cultural and political power, but once again, the expert class was blind to a major unintended consequence of all their maneuvering: young men of color started to catch wind that this anti-white male hate would soon come for them. What had started as a project to get rid of those evil white men had transformed into a war against masculinity itself.

The Aziz Ansari case, in which the comedian/actor was pilloried and Me-Too’d for what was essentially a bad date, signaled to men of color that they weren’t going to be exempt from the anti-masculinity crusade on account of their POC status. This was a huge problem for men of color — specifically African-American men — as they’ve historically been the greatest victims of false rape accusations.

Much ink was spilled during this time by cultural critics and blue-check experts on the masculinity scourge that must be eliminated, but the “toxic masculinity” narrative was codified when, in early 2019, the American Psychological Association released a document stating that “traditional masculinity ideology” often negatively affected the mental and physical well-being of young men — the APA, shockingly, had said the quiet part out loud.

The cultural engineers declared victory, completely unaware that a multicultural male coalition had been watching and coalescing. These young men who grew up online and attended the institutions that first cultivated and disseminated this anti-masculinity ideology were the same young men I was encountering on my rambles around Miami—the very same men Blow fears might now vote for Trump.

Is this demographic of young multicultural men the new “hidden Trump voter” that might deliver him a victory? Blow, and others in his cohort, seem to think it a distinct possibility.

Even if the Me Too movement hadn’t gone off the rails and if the APA hadn’t pathologized traditional masculinity, young men of color were already drifting toward the right anyway, if at a less accelerated rate. For years now, the Democratic Party has rejected any masculine sensibility in favor of a gung-ho girl power aesthetic that caters strictly to the highly feminized, whether male or female. The Democratic National Convention was the apotheosis of this progressive feminization, a four-day event that resembled a weepy all-girl sleepover more than a political function. I was half-expecting Joe Biden to give his convention speech wearing a dress, but mercifully the old coot was allowed to wear a traditionally masculine and toxic suit.

All this to say that the Democratic Party is now the party of women and those who identify with the overly feminine sensibility. There’s nothing wrong with this being your cup of tea, of course, but Democrats shouldn’t be surprised when young men of all stripes are turned off by a party that is completely devoid of any masculine energy.

This is obvious to anyone who has ever associated with young Hispanic and African-American men, but as the Democratic Party is run by ultra-white and woke coastal elites who only ever pander to, but never actually associate with people of color—especially men—let me spell it out for them: Black and Hispanic young men, most of whom don’t reside in progressive coastal cities, are traditionally masculine and do not respond to the overly feminine posturing found in progressive circles. To most men of color, traditional masculinity isn’t a toxic ideology, or, for that matter, an ideology at all, but simply the natural order of things. They think and behave like men because it is what’s demanded of them and what it is necessary for survival in the real world. To tell a young man of color living in the inner city that his way of thinking is toxic is to place him in peril, as his survival depends not on buzzwords or the tampering down of his masculinity, but on signaling masculine strength when confronted by a world that is not beholden to the passive-aggressive femininity of elite cultural spaces.

It’s an open question as to whether young men of color will turn out for Trump, but if the Republican National Convention was any indication, the Republican Party is making a play for their vote. Much has been said of the convention’s America-is-great message, but what was played up almost as much, whether intentionally or not, was the power and virtue of traditional masculinity.

There was Sen. Tim Scott’s speech, in which he traced his family’s rise from slavery to the highest reaches of American power, delivered in the oratory style of a man who had never given up, whose familial legacy of overcoming nearly insurmountable odds would make the thought of accepting his plight inconceivable. The speech spoke to all Americans, of course, but it can’t go unnoticed that it was delivered by a man of color who had risen to the top, in large part, due to classic masculine virtues — stoicism and stick-to-itiveness.

Then there was Cuban-American old-timer Maximo Alvarez, a self-made businessman, and like Scott, the epitome of the American Dream, who spoke with the masculine ferocity and power of Vince Lombardi. Here was a man who other men would listen to, unlike Billy Porter, the actor who sang at the Democratic Convention and is best known for parading up and down red carpets in dresses, who is seemingly only famous among the brunch-attending career gals who make up the Democratic Party.

The greatest example of masculine strength at the Republican Convention occurred when Madison Cawthorn, the disabled young man running for North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District, stood up from his wheelchair after delivering a barnburner of a speech. It was an incredibly moving moment, made all the more so by the fact that he was flanked by two friends who assisted him as he stood. Here was a prime example of masculine strength, as well as brotherly kinship, being displayed for all the young men of America to see. It was not toxic or problematic, but simply good and true, and it hearkened back to times when such virtues were considered indispensable and undoubtedly American.

These three speeches — two delivered by men of color — made a case for the nobility of traditional masculinity, and I have no doubt, spoke to young men of color in a way they can understand: You are an American man. Stand up. Do what needs to be done.

I can’t imagine a better message, not only for men of color, but all men—a message that might drive them to vote in record numbers in November.

The latest depravity

The Wall Street Journal:

No one other than the shooter is re­spon­si­ble for the gun­fire am­bush Sat­ur­day of two Los An­ge­les County sher­iff’s deputies as they sat in their pa­trol car. But the same can’t be said for the pro­testers who blocked the en­trance to the hos­pi­tal where the two are be­ing treated, and chanted “we hope they die.” The lat­ter is a cul­tural poi­son nur­tured by the left-wing anti-po­lice move­ment sweep­ing the coun­try.

The two deputies were “am­bushed by a gun­man in a cow­ardly fash­ion” in the Comp­ton neigh­bor­hood, said Sher­iff Alex Vil­la­neuva at a press con­fer­ence. The deputies hadn’t been iden­ti­fied by name as we write this, but press re­ports say one is a 31-year-old mother and the other a 24-year-old man. Both have been with the de­part­ment a lit­tle more than a year.

Po­lice haven’t iden­ti­fied a sus­pect, but the ran­dom­ness of the am­bush sug­gests some­one look­ing for any avail­able po­lice tar­get. We’ve seen this be­fore when anti-po­lice fever is hot. A gun­man shot and killed two of­fi­cers in their car in New York in 2014 fol­low­ing the death of black sus­pects be­ing ar­rested in Fer­gu­son, Mo., and New York.

The protests are worse this year fol­low­ing the death of George Floyd in Min­neapolis, and the anti-po­lice vi­o­lence is more wide­spread. An of­fi­cer was stabbed in the neck in Flat­bush in New York City in an am­bush in June. The of­fi­cer sur­vived.

De­mo­c­ra­tic mayor Eric Garcetti called the chants and protests at the hos­pi­tal “un­ac­cept­able” and “ab­hor­rent,” but he and other De­moc­rats need to do more to con­demn and os­tra­cize these pro­testers. De­moc­rats may fear the wrath of Black Lives Mat­ter, but the back­lash else­where in Amer­ica will be far greater if plea­sure at cop killing be­comes com­mon on the left.

Policing reform is impossible amid a war on police. Mr. Garcetti and other mayors should abandon their cuts to law-enforcement budgets and express regular solidarity for cops on the beat. Without such a signal, police will continue to retreat from enforcing the law in crime-ridden neighborhoods, and those who suffer most will be the law-abiding in the likes of Compton and Flatbush.

Rittenhouse morality

Brandon Morse:

Kyle Rittenhouse deserves the best defense money can buy. He shot three men in Kenosha, Wisconsin, not because he wanted to but because he had to. He is, for all intents and purposes, a standup citizen with aspirations of being a great public servant. I hope he still manages to become one after all of this.

That said, the Rittenhouse situation shouldn’t be a situation at all.

I’ve gone into detail about what Rittenhouse faced that night, so I’m going to skip the details and get down to the point.

(READ: Kyle Rittenhouse Was Right to Fire His Weapon)

The fact that Rittenhouse was there in the first place isn’t a good thing. Not necessarily on Rittenhouse’s part, though. He felt he needed to be there. Looking at the teenager’s history, he’s clearly a believer in public service and holds police and firefighters in high esteem. This isn’t a bad thing, but it answers the question on both sides about why Rittenhouse felt he should be in that Kenosha warzone.

Rittenhouse’s inner voice that tells him to act for the good of his fellow Americans was likely pretty loud in his ears and, combined with the impetuousness of youth, he set out to put himself into harm’s way for the people of Kenosha. Being the person he is, he even gave medical aid to the people who were there supporting the riots.

His ideological stances and opposition to the mob eventually lead to him killing two people and injuring a third. Despite the fact that this happened, it doesn’t make Rittenhouse the bad guy in the story. Yes, two people are dead, but that’s not Rittenhouse’s fault, it’s theirs.

Arguments against that very point have arisen. Some say that Rittenhouse shouldn’t have put himself in the position to have to kill someone in the first place. He showed up with a gun and began doing things that could only upset the rioters. In a way, Rittenhouse was inviting violent conflict even if he wasn’t actively seeking it out.

Tim Carney at the Washington Examiner put it like this:

This isn’t a new story. In my family, we have a word for it: a “Plaxident.” It’s in honor of former Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress, who in 2008 shot himself in the leg. Burress was walking up a narrow, dark stairwell with a drink in his hand when he tripped and fell. His gun came sliding out of his belt, and he tried to grab it. Then, bam.

Yes, anyone could slip on a stairwell. Trying to grab the falling gun might or might not have been rational. But showing up at a night club with a gun in your belt was the real error. So the accidental discharge wasn’t an accident: It was a Plaxident. If your kid breaks a window explaining that his grip slipped on the fastball he was throwing, the relevant question isn’t how his grip slipped but why he was throwing a baseball inside.

Rittenhouse’s error had far graver consequences.

Catholic teaching includes a concept called the “near occasion of sin.” Sometimes, the biggest mistake we make is putting ourselves in a terrible position. And in Catholic teaching, that prudential mistake is a moral error — a sin.

It’s a solid point to consider, but not one I entirely agree with. Rittenhouse definitely put himself into a position where he would have been forced to kill people. He brought a gun to a riot and began attempting to limit the damage the riot was trying to cause. That the teenager had a hand in developing what happened that night is a fact that cannot be denied.

Where I tend to diverge with arguments like the one above is a moral question. Is it wrong to go to a place where evil is flourishing and stand between it and innocent people? Is it wrong to show up to a lawless place and inject order?

There are different schools of thought on this with all sorts of variables and nuances to consider to be sure, but what I want to focus on is Rittenhouse’s situation in particular. If the kid had gone there with the intent to shoot someone and took an active part in arranging for things to happen that would facilitate homicide then yes, I believe that would have been wrong.

But that’s not what happened. Rittenhouse clearly reacted to the situation with self-defense after going there to assist people, not play the part of vigilante. Vigilante actions would mean actively seeking out “justice” against those committing injustices. All evidence so far points to Rittenhouse being there to help defend locations and assist where he can.

The rioters, who were clearly there to do wrong in the first place, could have left Rittenhouse alone. It would have been wise of them to do so given the fact that he was armed. Yet, they didn’t. They attacked Rittenhouse who was then forced to defend himself. They didn’t have to, but they did. The risk of death was their choice, not Rittenhouse’s. Rittenhouse attempted to prevent their deaths by retreating every single time. He was trying to show them mercy as he was in the position of a death dealer but the rioters rejected that and came after him.

The teen fired his weapon out of necessity, not vengeance. It was the rioter’s decisions that lead to their deaths.

The teenager is not to blame for the deaths despite the fact that he was there any more than officers who are forced to shoot attackers are to blame. Yes, it’s true that Rittenhouse could have stayed home and none of this wouldn’t have happened, but it’s also true that his being there wasn’t a moral wrong and the events that led to the shooting weren’t the kid’s fault.

Being there as a defensive measure will definitely invite retaliation from those on the offensive, but again, the option to attack is not on the defenders, it’s on the attackers.

Were the Koreans on the rooftops during the LA riots wrong to be there? We largely agree that they were perfectly in their right and their threatening posture paid off. The Korean businesses were spared the destruction the rest of the city suffered.

Rittenhouse’s situation differs slightly but not enough to be considered wrong. He was there doing what Americans do and was doing so legally.

If you ask me, the real blame for Rittenhouse’s fateful night doesn’t rest on the kid and while the protesters have the blame to take, I wouldn’t put the lion’s share of it on them.

The riot shouldn’t have been going in the first place, and it wouldn’t have happened if the leaders in control of these cities and states would do what they’re supposed to do and protect the citizenry. They aren’t. They’re allowing this burning, pillaging, and murdering to happen.

If there wasn’t a riot, there wouldn’t be a Rittenhouse, but if you allow your streets to be terrorized and destroyed, a Rittenhouse is bound to arrive.

As for the victims of what the black humor portions of social media call the “Kenosha hat trick,” Wisconsin Right Now has evidence that you would want none of the three as neighbors.