Weekend Reading: May 6, 2017

Welcome to the weekend!  It’s been an active news week, and I have several interesting articles, books, and videos etc for you to consider…here we go…

The big news of the week was the healthcare bill passage in the House of Reps. Still, a lot of politics left here – the bill moves to the Senate, where things are sure to change a bit.  Aside from the coverage debate, I hadn’t noticed the pro-life aspects of the bill until I saw a release from Susan B. Anthony List, which pointed out the following:

First, the legislation stops the Obamacare abortion expansion by preventing taxpayer funding of health care plans that cover abortion on-demand. Second, the bill redirects taxpayer dollars away from Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion business, to health care centers that provide comprehensive primary and preventative care to women and girls.

ALSO…The President signed an order on religious liberty this week. But as Joe Carter sums up, it’s not like it will change a whole heck of a lot...excerpt:

The scope of the order is so limited that even opposition groups are shrugging at the news. For example, earlier today the ACLU said they would be suing the Trump administration over the order. But after they read the text of the order they announced on Twitter: “We thought we’d have to sue Trump today. But it turned out the order signing was an elaborate photo-op with no discernible policy outcome.”

On the religious liberty front, you might have missed this story: A Court-Martial for a Bible Verse. This is an opinion piece from WSJ, and sets the scene pretty well.

Continuing on that theme…Fox Headline: Bible reading not allowed before class, professor tells student (h/t Rod K.). In my own experience, this isn’t surprising whatsoever. Many of my profs in undergrad were so anti-Christian that they didn’t even bother hiding it – and that was 15 years ago.

Since there is some talk among the liber elites about Mark Zuckerberg possibly running for President, I thought it a good idea to revisit an article on his worldview – specifically as it relates to Facebook‘s role in human history.  It’s hard to glean much unless you pay close attention, but the key is his worldview is formulated by the idea that history sees men as continually striving for unity – of course, he wants to provide that unity online. That hasn’t worked out quite how he’s hoped (and he knows this). Normally, this would be when you would check your worldview assumptions, but not so here, I’m afraid. Pay close attention to him in the coming year…

Along similar (and more recent) lines: Facebook Hiring 3,000 People to Monitor Live Video for Violence

Interesting history: The Nazi Who Infiltrated National Geographic

PRIVACY ALERT: NSA collected Americans’ phone records despite law change: report.  I mean…are you kidding me?

Some interesting photography here: Get a Skewed View of the American West Through These Bent-Horizon Photos

For Parents of tweens and teens: Educators and school psychologists raise alarms about ‘13 Reasons Why’

THE FUTURE: You’ve likely been hearing about Elon Musk’s tunneling project in California, but this week one of his companies released a vision for what this tunneling actually ought to lead to (at least in his mind).  There’s an interesting video as you scroll down in the piece that is really all you need to watch to get the idea…anyway…there’s a highway expert that is quoted in the article as well to balance out the fawning.

In Case you Missed it: The Tiffany Way: CBS, John Dickerson Silent on Stephen Colbert’s Profane, Gay-Baiting Attack on Trump

And – in the “I’m sure you missed it” category: Feds in Florida: Burlington College Probe Goes the Distance. This is about the wife of Bernie “Socialist” Sanders.

From the Weekly Standard: Oh, the Irony of the Backlash Against Bret Stephens.  Their subtitle helps explain everything and reads “All he did was warn liberal elites against the danger of hubris. What could possibly go wrong?”  If you read through this, you’ll quickly understand why I found it interesting, and why the writers at the Standard did as well. We all have to take a lesson here from the knee-jerk reaction of the liberal elites and ask ourselves this question: when someone questions my theory of things or my opinions, how do I react? Do I have enough humility to explore their critique honestly? Where are they coming from? What sorts of things might be influencing their writing or their opinion of my writing?

TRUMP: One of the difficult stories to read about (at least for me) this week was this situation where the President mistakenly spoke of Andrew Jackson as being upset about the Civil War (Jackson was dead before the Civil War took place). Trump subsequently talked about the Civil War as if it was something that could have been easily avoided had Jackson been in charge. The hubris of the statement is found in the fact that Trump sees his Presidency as analogous to that of Jackson’s. In his mind, he Jackson reincarnated.  Now, I often find that arrogance and ignorance, when combined, make for a very nauseous combination. Interestingly, and unfortunately, it’s been my experience that they often go together. Such is the case here, it would seem. Of course, many Presidents make mistakes, often because they are having to talk about such a variety of things, and people, and situations that it’s impossible to be right 100% of the time. You really have to rely on your staff to help inform you of a great deal. However, in this (and other) instance I think we’re dealing with a man who simply doesn’t know his history very well. So woefully ignorant of history is this President, and so confident in his pronouncements, that I doubt we’ve seen the last of these types of remarks. As a student of history, I know that there is so much I don’t know, that to speak confidently about something or someone in history that I haven’t really read much on, is tantamount to factual suicide.

So how do we react to this kind of thing? George Will (old guard conservative) was aghast, The NYTimes (liberal elites) was baffled.  My reaction was (initially) to just shake my head. I guess I’m not surprised.  But it’s my hope and prayer that the advisors surrounding the President are able to fill in the knowledge gaps, and provide him with the historical picture he needs to make the proper decisions.  I think Will has overreacted here. The first thing that intellectual elites (on both sides) run to is “oh no! this man has the nuclear codes!”  But, in truth, those war decisions (ESPECIALLY) are made with a room full of bright counselors, and it has been Trump’s modus operendi to listen to folks like that carefully. So I’m not as concerned about those decisions as others. A good leader surrounds him/herself with smart people and then makes decisions based on what they say. It’s the inability to make decisions or making decisions in cowardly and craven ways, that has been the hallmark of Presidents like Obama and Carter. I don’t think we have that kind of situation here.

FYI – for you anglophiles: Buckingham Palace Says Prince Philip Will Stop Carrying Out Engagements

TECH: Keep an eye on this! Should be really interesting development in the coming months…Hulu Just Launched Its Live TV Streaming Service

The Politics of Abortion: Dems face abortion divide in debate over party’s futureKeep an eye on this.  There is a battle brewing in the Democratic Party over how focused they should be on abortion, and whether or not being “pro-choice” ought to be a litmus test for Dems in primary contests. Perez, the new DNC chair, says “ya” that’s how it ought to be – he thinks that any Dem who is pro-life ought not to be included in the party.  Perez is a dolt., and Nancy Pelosi, the queen of abortion rights, even realizes this. That’s what prompted the story I posted above. She knows that Dems rely on African-Americans, Hispanics, and Catholics as major components of their political coalition, and many people in these groups are pro-life. Some have estimated that Perez would essentially be telling 1/3 of Democratic voters “we don’t want you.”   On a very similar front, Hillary Clinton won a big award from Planned Parenthood this week, and during her speech, she had some thoughts on the Handmaid’s Tale (from Vanity Fair, so read with a grain of heavily seasoned salt).  I have never seen or read this show/book, but I know it’s a dystopia about the future and the government’s control of reproductive rights. How is it that the left doesn’t see the irony in all of this?  Have they never read Huxley or Orwell?  Have they no sense in which the culture is actually heading? Of course they have and do! They aren’t living in another reality (I don’t think), but Clinton and Planned Parenthood are using bad dystopian fiction as a crop to beat their opponents. Women’s rights and reproductive rights aren’t the same things, even if they are being used analogously. This is why: “rights” only extend to a certain point. No one, woman or man, has the “right” to kill another person simply out of convenience. What about the “rights” of that baby?

Interestingly, the argument extends beyond abortion to the rights of all people as well.  And this Vanity Fair article is helpful in examining what the left really thinks.  Here they all were – the leftist elites celebrating the culture of death at a Planned Parenthood gala, where their views were not all couched in political jargon.  Here’s an example we need to examine:

The night’s other honoree was Shonda Rhimes, one-woman television hit maker, who had Meryl Streep on hand for an introduction. (Rhimes also directed Clinton’s Democratic National Convention video.) Streep praised Rhimes’s indefatigable work ethic at ABC and with Planned Parenthood, and highlighted how Rhimes handled the backlash to an abortion plot line in Scandal:

In Rhimes’s speech, which followed, she laid out some guiding principles of Shondaland, the shorthand for her television empire. “Some people say that’s not reality, the world doesn’t run that way, and I say it’s Shondaland. It’s my world. I run it how I want to.” she said. “And maybe that’s my goal. It’s not to reflect the world, it’s to show you how a world works when a woman runs things. Women really should be running things. But we aren’t, not yet. But there’s so much work to be done and not a lot of time to do it.”

The militancy of the feminist left is almost on par with the militancy of the LBGT community.  This calls for discernment. In the workplace, people should be valued for the contributions they make on the job, and not simply for their skin color or their gender.  That women were held back for a long time had to do with many giant social factors (war, manufacturing booms, personal prejudices, less time for the workforce, less education), some of which were very ugly and sinful- no doubt. But as we seek a way forward in this country, we ought to be treating people as valuable for what they do and respecting them for who they are. If who they are and what they do is disgusting, unproductive, and harmful (or if they simply don’t add value), then they don’t deserve elevation or promotion.  We can’t pull others down simply to elevate people for the sake of their skin, or gender, or who they are sleeping with. That’s reverse discrimination, and it’s not going to help build a stronger society.

Uh Oh….Uber Under Criminal Investigation For Avoiding Regulators

Speaking of legal issuesComey: Huma Abedin regularly sent classified info to Anthony Weiner

Foreign Policy FYI: Russian bombers, fighter jets fly near Alaska, prompting Air Force escort. Looks like the Russians are testing our response times…

Sign of the Times: Report finds skyrocketing rate of babies going through opiate withdrawal. This is a sad read.

Books

This week I finished the well-known Sherlock Holmes book ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ and really enjoyed it. Many of Conan Doyle’s Sherlock stories are quite a bit shorter, and I enjoyed this one a great deal, and I think the length had something to do with it. He kept the narrative going, and it was enjoyable to focus on just one plot for a longer period of time than is usual with his stories. Normally it seems like just when you’re beginning to get into the plot, things wrap up super fast.

I also finished ‘The Sampson Option: Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal and American Foreign Policy’ There are some absolutely fascinating insights here. I especially enjoyed learning about the different ways in which American Presidents interacted with Israel’s leadership.

Additionally, I finished Phil Knight’s biography, ‘Shoe Dog’.  This was one of the best business-bios I’ve read. As a native of Portland, I was interested to read this but was pretty sure at the outset that it would detail the relationships with superstar athletes and Phil Knight’s glorious star-studded life. It was nothing of the sort, which made it wonderful. Not only was this one of the most engagingly written books of my year thus far, but it was absolutely fascinating. There’s a lot about his supply chain issues, his travels, his thinking, his failures, and his family. All of it interesting. Highly recommend.

I’m currently reading ‘The Search for God and Guinness: A Biography of the Beer that Changed the World’, and ‘The Titanic’s Last Hero: A Startling True Story That Can Change Your Life Forever’ among other things (my book list is here). Both of these are interesting, though the former is quickly rising to a top 10 of the year type of book. It details the Guinness family and some of the history surrounding beer as well. Absolutely fascinating stuff so far.

That’s it!  Have a great weekend!

PJW

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3 thoughts on “Weekend Reading: May 6, 2017

  1. PJ: I have been reading George F. Will’s columns with respect and appreciation for decades. However, I began to notice during the last Presidential campaign, and increasingly since the inauguration, a vitriolic tone to his columns about the President that seems out of character to the Will I have enjoyed for so long. He has been at it since 1974. I am left wondering if: a) he is showing his age, or b) he has a very serious ax to grind against the President. I really am not sure which of these, or possibly both, better explains the tone of his columns during the last year, dating to the time during the campaign, and prior to the GOP Convention, when he left the Republican party.

    It seems that Will’s conflict with Trump really went full throttle a year ago with these shots (salvos?) across their respective bows:

    George F. Will, “If Trump is nominated, the GOP must keep him out of the White House” (29 APR 2016), on The Washington Post at https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/if-trump-is-nominated-the-gop-must-keep-him-out-of-the-white-house/2016/04/29/293f7f94-0d9d-11e6-8ab8-9ad050f76d7d_story.html [accessed 6 MAY 2017].

    Nolan D. McCaskill, “Trump: George Will is a ‘major loser’” (4 MAY 2016), on Politico at http://www.politico.com/blogs/2016-gop-primary-live-updates-and-results/2016/05/trump-george-will-loser-222782 [accessed 6 MAY 2017].

    Weeks later Will parted company with the Republican party. See the following:

    Maggie Haberman, “George Will Leaves the G.O.P. Over Donald Trump” (25 JUN 2016), on The New York Times at https://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/26/us/politics/george-will-leaves-the-gop-over-donald-trump.html [accessed 6 MAY 2017].

    Kristen East, “George Will leaves the GOP” (25 JUN 2016), on Politico at http://www.politico.com/story/2016/06/george-will-leaves-gop-224801 [accessed 6 MAY 2017].

    Daniella Diaz, “George Will: Trump’s judge comments prompted exit from GOP” (26 JUN 2016), on CNN Politics at http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/25/politics/george-will-donald-trump-leaving-republican-party-election/ [accessed 6 MAY 2017].

    The following article published a week prior to the Presidential election would not have sat well with Will, and the election itself would undoubtedly have sealed the deal:

    Jonathan Chait, “How Donald Trump Outsmarted George Will” (2 NOV 2016), on New York magazine’s Daily Intelligencer at http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/11/how-donald-trump-outsmarted-george-will.html [accessed 6 MAY 2017].

    Others have registered concerns about Will going back even before the last Presidential campaign. See, for example, Damon Linker, “The sad, sorry decline of George F. Will” (11 JUN 2014), on The Week at http://theweek.com/articles/446227/sad-sorry-decline-george-f [accessed 6 MAY 2017].

    Linker’s article title now seems prophetic: “The sad, sorry decline of George F. Will” indeed. The resulting bottom line for me is that everything George F. Will writes about the Trump administration, and the Republican party must be taken with a grain of salt, or perhaps, the whole shaker full. There appears to be a deep-seated root of bitterness, along with a high level of frustration driving him on issues related to the party and the administration. This seems to have effectively clouded his thinking, and prevented him from any semblance of civility and objectivity, both of which were his forte until recently. When it comes to any “dangerous disability” his recent writing appears like the pot calling the kettle black, with the beam in Will’s eye disabling him from accurately assessing the mote in Trump’s (pardon my mixed metaphors). The New York Times article you link on Trump’s Andrew Jackson/Civil War comment is much more profitable, charitable, and objective.

    1. Jack I think you’re probably right about George W. I grew up watching and reading him. But I think he is a bit over-rot. Did my respect level for Mr. Trump ebb somewhat this week? Sure. After all, I appreciate history and feel our leaders need to as well. These are basics. Yet, I don’t make the incongruous jump to “he’s dangerous”.

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