Recently, the issue of President Trump attacking the memory of the late Arizona senator John McCain has reared its ugly head once again. During the debates before the election, Trump said "He's a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren't captured."
That was taken as a direct insult to the veteran McCain who spent 5 1/2 years in captivity in North Vietnam. People said Trump should not impugn the reputation of a veteran, especially one who suffered as a prisoner of war. That is a fair criticism, but Trump was responding to the elevation of McCain to a "Wartime Hero" status, and who had implicitly said he thought Donald Trump "fired up the crazies." I wrote about that at the time, because I was one of the 'crazies' McCain was impugning.
When considering the idea of running for President in 2012, Trump knew he would be up against McCain. It was at that point that they began to undermine each other's credibility.
We can all agree that Trump and McCain didn't like each other. They clashed on a lot of foreign and military policy, but especially over illegal immigration. McCain had a hard time distinguishing between legal and illegal immigrants. He was a symbol of the entrenched Washington beltway establishment that consistently ignored the impact of the flood of unvetted, undereducated, and essentially unskilled immigrants across the country.
For that McCain was praised by Democrats as a Maverick Republican. In Trump's view, that means he was disloyal. When McCain reneged on his campaign promises to repeal Obamacare and became the deciding vote to sink the Republican repeal package, he sealed his reputation as a political traitor to Trump.
Liberals loved him, Trump conservatives, "not so much."
McCain embodied the inertia Trump confronted on every issue, every newscast, and every legislative action. The Washington establishment and the mainstream media does whatever they can to impugn Trump, while simultaneously elevating his opposition to newly defined levels of respect and significance.
When during the 2016 Republican candidate debate, Trump was confronted with McCain's hero status, he repeated his assessment: "Does being captured make you a hero? I don't know, I am not sure."
We have to ask ourselves, are all vets heros? What about those that perished in service? Are all of them ranked by the same definition of hero? If so, then what about all of those that threw their body on a hand grenade to save their fellow soldiers? Where do they rank?
We often refer to doctors, nurses, first responders, police and firemen as heroes. Then, in the same breath, we say they are underappreciated. To me, under appreciating heroes is an oxymoron. Just because they are in a unique position to be heroic, that doesn't mean they are all heroes all of the time.
This is where the perversion of our language issue comes in again, because it seems the value of too many terms have been rendered meaningless. We can't bestow that 'hero' title to every statesman in history. No one would suggest that all past and present public servants are heroes. People throw around words with little or no concern for the effects of the dilution of their meaning.
That is why the military bestows medals of honor, to distinguish exceptional efforts and circumstances from the everyday, though unforgiving, occurrences of wartime service. No one can take the value of a medal away from the recipient. McCain was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal and a Bronze Star, which speak for themselves. That makes McCain a highly decorated military veteran.
My point is, there has to be some qualification of the term hero.
The standard Merriam dictionary definition is:
1 : A mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent
endowed with great strength or ability.
2 : An illustrious warrior.
3: A man admired for his achievements and noble qualities.
4 : One who shows great courage.
McCain definitely fits that generic description. But so does millions of people. Is that what we mean when we call someone a hero? Is the kid who hits a walkoff homerun in the College World Series really a hero?
We can't just bestow that rank upon everyone that served in the military or are emergency and police professionals or won a game with the swing of a bat. Whether a soldier spent years in solitary confinement or in a tank waiting for an IED to blow their legs off, they all went to hell and back for our country. If that makes all of our soldiers heroes I think it dilutes the tribute.
At a meeting of world leaders, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called McCain an “American patriot and hero whose sacrifices for his country, and lifetime of public service, were an inspiration to millions.” McCain did serve his country. He did endure torture and imprisonment. He was relentless in his pursuit of political significance. He will be remembered as a unique historical figure in modern American history.
But he was no Neil Armstrong.
Upon closer analysis McCain pissed a lot of people off. He consistently voted against traditional Republican platforms. He pushed for liberal environmental federal standards, for comprehensive immigration reforms (viewed as amnesty by conservatives) and strongly criticized American anti-terrorism policies regarding interrogation and imprisonment at Guantanamo Bay. John Kerry considered offering him the Vice Presidential slot during his Presidential run.
McCain justified his rogue voting record as "doing what's right for America." He was definitely not a party loyalist. Republicans could not trust him to support their agenda. Maybe democrats would classify McCain as a hero, but the Trump Movement certainly wouldn't.
Trump was not suggesting that what McCain did was of no value, but getting accidently caught in enemy territory, then spending the entire war in a prison cell is incredibly brutal and the level of self discipline and commitment has to be enormous to survive. That is noble and deserving of our highest degree of recognition and gratitude.
What happened to John McCain was terrible and he did nothing to deserve it. He served his country and he deserves to be remembered as a leader and selfless contributor to our country and its legacy. But his service was most certainly not heroic.
When someone acts heroically, it is on purpose, not by accident.
A friend of mine wrote this recently. I loved it and without his permission I am sharing it with you. I hope he won't sue me...so for now he will remain anonymous.
...One characteristic of propaganda is the creation of associations. Images do this superbly, but words can do the same. If the propagandist can do so, he or she will create a link between his or her target and an established lightning rod for distaste. He or she will create an association which, if effective, will work towards defeating the enemy without a shot being fired; in other words, a defaming association can effectively argue against an opponent without any other arguments being made. "Oh, you're just one of them."
"The white MAGA male" is an example.
Let's say you feel the solution to the world’s ills are to tax and share. And, perhaps, you don't like white males, something needs to be done about "those people," and one solution is to open the border and turn the white male into an powerless minority. You also see Donald Trump as an embarrassing icon of intolerance, bigotry, racism, misogyny, and stupidity, an opinion you feel most people share. Well, make an association. A reporter writing an article which appeared in Times magazine implied that there are people doing just that. With no intention of making an attack himself - he was only alluding to the association others are making - he stated in an article on a confrontation in D.C., "It's one more case of white, MAGA males behaving like white MAGA males." So, you see, people who want to close the border, fight China's business and trade policies, and oppose socialism and communism didn't vote for the president because he was the only one promising to rectify these issues; they voted for the president because they are like him. Publish well-timed photos of white males looking angry or smug, as was the case in the D.C. confrontation, and the association is complete. That is propaganda, and if it is effective, one does not have to consider and argue against a point of view; one simply has to pull out the appropriate card and announce, "You don't want to be that person, do you? Do you?"
“If you can’t win by fighting fair, fight foul. Or have a third party do your fighting.”
The international media is biased towards socialism and a one world government. We have been told this by many insiders, including a recent interview with Lara Logan, former CBS international affairs reporter and Sixty Minutes correspondent.
Of course she is being trashed for her comments by the same media that falsely claims to be unbiased. The media ganging up on her sounds like Vito Genovese claiming all of his businesses were legitimate.
The recent fake made-for-media attack engineered by FOX TV star Jussie Smollett illustrates how the story was widely misreported and never retracted. The whole event has been exposed as a manufactured piece of journalistic fraud. Smollett set out to paint his paid attackers as Ku Klux Klanners screaming "this is MAGA Country!"
It has become increasingly difficult to separate truth from fiction in the news since a majority of journalists worldwide are "absurdly left-leaning" as Lara Logan flatly stated. They have a vested interest in propping up an ideology that they embrace, and they control of a powerful weapon to damage their opponents; the news media.
Since the election of Donald Trump, all pretense of fairness and restraint has been abandoned by the 'mainstream' media. They see themselves as social justice warriors. It is no longer enough to attack the legislative agenda of the political right, it is now SOP to slander red state voters and businesses that have shown an affinity for conservative causes.
The newest assault on America's principles is the movement to eliminate the Electoral College. To revert to a Direct Democracy, where elections are determined by popular vote. In a Progressive Utopia all conflict would be resolved by majority rule.
That may sound inviting, but over time it devolves into Mob Rule.
In some ways we are already approaching Mob Rule as modern media has become a platform for vetting the popularity of issues. Every controversy is polled; do you agree with "what he said" or "what she said?"
As we learned during the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings, it didn't matter whether Christine Balsley-Ford's accusations were true or not, what mattered was the severity of her allegations and the gender of the accuser.
"Every person who refuses to loudly and openly reject Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination is telling every generation of Americans that an alleged abuser's career is more valuable than a survivor's humanity. And the highest court in our land is no place for an alleged sexual offender to sit." - Alyssa Milano
The constitutional principle of presumption of innocence was cast aside because the accuser was a believable female. They said she "should be believed" because in the past too many women were denied justice by a system that was dominated by men. Radical feminists said evidence of a sexual crime is no more or less important than the allegation itself. Besides, Democrats claimed polls showed most Americans thought Balsley-Ford was telling the truth. Polls provided by the media themselves.
They wanted more than awareness, they wanted revenge. Progressives stood arm-in-arm, pointing to Marxist theory that the ends justifies the means.
The obvious question is how is it that a majority of on-air talent, of successful actors, of syndicated writers, and the vast majority of academics all speak with similar cadence, using redundant rhetoric about the "universally accepted" platitudes of "democratic socialism" and a new, "evolved" interpretation of constitutional rights?
The answer is Baby Boomers have wallowed in the economic perks of the Allied victory over fascism in World War II and the subsequent collapse of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the Berlin Wall. They were too busy building fortunes to notice the migration of disenfranchised Marxists to college campuses around the world, where their communist dogma could be distributed under the guise of academic freedom and the intellectual pursuit of social justice. The heirs of the Greatest Generation defaulted on the difficult and demanding chore of raising and disciplining their children and vetting their educators They pampered them and gave them too much veto power, showered them with positive reinforcement and false achievement. They inflated their egos and told them they were never wrong, eventually sending them off to be indoctrinated by fake academic patriots who filled their heads with anti-American hatred and Neo-communist propaganda. They were told they were more 'progressive' than their parents and supplied required-reading textbooks by radical leftists like Howard Zinn and Hillary Clinton's favorite docent Saul Alinsky. Boomers put their kids in re-education indoctrination centers for four years and most of them were good students. Now they are leaders in their field of endeavor and to a large degree, Marxists.
For too many millenials, it's as if 100 years of communist crimes against humanity, and the genocide of 65 million human beings by authoritarian Communist regimes, never happened. That stuff was not taught to them. The vast majority of millenials have never witnessed genocide, and many think Mao Tse Tung and Che Guevara were icons of social justice.
They believe they are the most intelligent generation in history, and they have no patience for contrition. They are children of the internet sharing revolution, so it makes sense to them that society should be organized in the same way as Pinterest or Instagram.
The truth is a Progressive Mob of academics has successfully weaponized the American educational system too. And now, a "third party" of social justice warriors has come home to roost in newsrooms, schoolrooms, legislatures and film studios across the land.
The Evening News opens with 'Good Evening' then proceeds to tell us why it isn't.
Have you ever seen a news program open with a happy story?
One of those heart warming stories they always save till the last minute,
so when they sign off you think twice about committing suicide?
We need to press the press to rearrange the headlines;
Refocus on what is great about freedom
About those that preserve and protect it
And tell the positive stories
Of which there are millions
And put the bad guys and their mayhem
On the back page
Behind the classifieds
in a size 8 font….
Whenever the Democrats feel a disconnect with voters, or when one of their initiatives fails to gain traction (i.e., the election of Queen Hillary or the destruction of Brett Kavanagh) they always come back with some gargantuan new social justice proposal, designed to steal any sunlight the Republicans may have garnered.
With Donald Trump in the White House, Democrats have had to dream up a series of New Deals because every time they turn around, he is standing in their limelight. There hasn't been anyone as good at hogging the limelight since PT Barnum.
So now some of the most zealous Progressives have rolled out the Green New Deal. Obviously the term New Deal is supposed to capture some of the charm and positive connotations of President Roosevelt's 1933 economic recovery act that was designed to reignite the nearly destitute state of affairs following the Great Depression.
Part of the strategy of the sponsoring House Democrats (lead by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) is to imply that the current US economy is in a great depression under Donald Trump, and of course we already know, that without immediate "Chicken Little the Sky Is Falling" drastic action, the world as we know it will end in 12 years. That only white rich people are enjoying the booming stock market, the tremendous resurgence in employment for all Americans, and an increasing sense that the country is moving in the right direction again.
To obscure the fact that many manufacturers are moving production back onshore after years of flight to low wage third-world countries, Progressives are saying a Green New Deal will overcome the unfairness and miscarriage of justice that Trump's economic programs have established at the expense of blacks, women and illegal immigrants.
As I have said over and over, Progressivism is just a mitigating term for neo-communism. And the Green New Deal is just an Orwellian term for wrapping environmentalism and collectivist economic extremism into a Mao-style cultural revolution bent on destroying Trump's Americanism movement.
Since taking office, Trump has made it his priority to undo all of Obama's regulations and incentives for institutionalizing climate change and disengaging from unfair and impractical trade agreements. He has asserted these American-centric policies would immediately free up investment and momentum, and return billions of offshore profits to the American economy. And that alone has outraged environmentalists and Progressive leaders who are bent on purging America of what they consider a dependence on fossil fuels, on economic principles of capitalism and on white male privilege.
But just like Mao's collectivist policies that were responsible for the greatest famine in human history, starving nearly forty million Chinese citizens to death, the latest Progressive proposal would destroy America's position of world leadership. It would essentially send us back to the dark ages: The Green New Deal would outlaw air travel, guarantee wages and jobs and provide basic income even for those who refuse to work. It would force displaced 'workers' into re-education/training programs, and then embark on a massive reconstruction and remodeling job on all levels of industry and private life that had previously relied on fossil fuels. It would by necessity, replace free enterprise with government central planning.
Just as Mao called his consolidation of power The Great Leap Forward, Progressives say the Green New Deal will be our own Great Leap Forward.
The problem with all this 'theory' is that reality and theory have no intersection. Putting all of these goals into a 12 year target ignores the fact that the human race could not supply its food or energy needs without fossil fuels no matter how quickly we develop wind, solar, water, or other energy sources. Leftists conveniently forget that none of those forms of energy can be captured and stored efficiently, so the production has to be at the time and location it is needed. If wind power could be stored and shipped around the world, we could load up the North and South poles with windmills and be done with it.
Studies show that our world will be somewhat dependent on fossil fuels for at least another 50 years, unless science invents something unforeseen. This is because the sheer volume of source materials required to drive the engines of production needed to farm, to heat, to move and to feed people across the planet cannot be met with renewables alone.
Besides, science and industry are quickly moving us all in that direction anyway.
Sadly, Progressives are never satisfied with the status quo. Why? Because that would deny them the vehicle they need to acquire political power (not electrical power). Only when large numbers of people are scared and agitated can they lasso them into a political force that gives them the legislative power needed to keep their globalist, one-world government dreamteam aristocracy in place and to redistribute wealth to keep their constituents satiated. And that is not a slam on poor people. Democrats are increasingly made up of well-paid government employees, and they need to grow their share of the public pie.
Just like Mao did when he used a misnomer to rename China The People's 'Republic' of China, Progressives masquerade themselves with social justice issues. But ultimately many of their most loyal supporters eventually get thrown under the bus of 'Progress.' Many of those identified as the beneficiaries of cheaper energy, new jobs and a more egalitarian culture, will find themselves once again victimized by confiscatory government policies, loss of freedoms and incentives, and a race to the lowest common denominator.
That's why the Democrats new social elixir is not a Green New Deal, it is in reality a Mean New Deal.
As a cultural observer I think it my duty to comment on the restaurant industry and how much of it has gone off the rails. After all, going out to dinner has always been a pleasurable and available source of entertainment. Though it has evolved into a different experience in the last fifty years, it still offers a couple of hours of relaxation, dining and social lubrication.
I guess we need to agree on the definition of relaxation first. Because my most recent 'dining' experiences have been atrocious. Maybe I have a different perspective than the 24 - 44 year-olds I assume most restaurant chains are pursuing. Maybe I am living in the past. But I still find it hard to understand how the marketing geniuses at some of America's largest restaurant organizations can mess up such a simple pleasure.
For decades I have enjoyed the 'go out to dinner and a movie' evening immensely. That, however is different than a dining experience. Even better, in my mind, is the late dinner dining experience with my wife and maybe another couple. By that I mean, arriving at the restaurant at 7PM and staying until 10. This involves some cocktails, some hors d'oeuvres and then a slow-dining main dish, followed by desert and a snifter of brandy.
That experience is what I call dining. In 2019 it will probably cost me at least $100 per person. Because you aren't going to get that kind of meal, that kind of tempo at a chain restaurant. It will only come from a branded, local chef-driven establishment. Sure there are high-end chains like Morton's that offer great food, great wine and attentive service too. But they are also guilty of what I call Menu Pandering. They want to offer something for everybody, so the menu is too complicated and bifurcated. When the waiter approaches to take our orders, I feel like I am in line at the auto repair shop. The service order technician is holding a clipboard checklist, asking me what is wrong with my car. He then goes down the list, repeating the assembly of my diner, just to make sure he has everything correct. Whew, I feel like I just went through a driver license renewal test at the DMV! A minute later, I probably won't remember what I ordered!
For me, I would prefer a one page list of Today's Chef's Choice Dinner Plates. One beef, one chicken, one pasta, one seafood, and one casserole specialty. Each entry is something special the Chef made up just for tonight. Each comes with the Chef's selection of complimentary side dishes, and a choice of soup or salad. That's it! I point at the one I want and return to the conversation the waiter interrupted.
I like surprises when it comes to great food. I want something I can't make at home, otherwise I don't need to get dressed up and drive across town to get fed. Over the years I have discovered which Chef's culinary tastes suit my palate. I become loyal to them, and them to me. I have had more than one occasion when I was particularly unhappy with a dish. Maybe it was cold or undercooked. I tell my waiter and without hesitation my meal is immediately replaced. The establishment has skin in my game, just as I do in theirs.
Recently I went to a well-known Australian steakhouse chain that had just opened a new location near me. I was kind of excited to see what they were up to, because the brand has grown exponentially in the past decade.
What a disappointment! The motif was nearly identical to a dozen other Millennial-oriented, Asian-Feng Shui Mid-American Modern interiors. A big room divided only by short railings. Soft indirect lighting reflected by dark woods and black moldings and window frames. High ceilings with industrial looking hanging lamps make reading the complicated, four-page menus nearly impossible without cell phone flashlights. The menu is a six-ring circus of main entries which must be completed by adding side dishes. The copy is printed in a 8 point font in grey ink. Unbelievably stupid!
The truth is I know what is going on. Many chains are pandering to the Millenial compunction to demand hundreds of choices about everything! Even when you order water, the waiter has a list of types he has to explain. It is all part of the Digital Revolution, the ability to access millions of gigabits of whatever at any given second. So now we have to be buried in data everytime we ask for help.
I don't want to think that hard when I am going out to diner.
Beyond that major complaint, I was also uncomfortable the whole time. My wooden chair was no better than a bus stop bench. The sound system was blaring unintelligible, and overwhelming music. I wondered, are they making it so loud to force us all to yell at each other across the table just to give us, and those next to us, some privacy? Because without the blanket of noise enveloping the room, it would be impossible to have any privacy because there are no dividers among the table and chairs. I assume that design principle is simply to allow for more tables and chairs, so the opportunity to turn them more often is increased exponentially.
I'll take overstuffed, leather booths anyday!
Then after we finished our mostly mediocre food (served on some hybrid plastic tableware) the waiter placed a computer monitor on our table and said we could check ourselves out...WTF? I don't care about their convenience, I want to be waited on! Let them do the math, ring up the sale and give me a receipt. I am not going to do their job!
This steakhouse is virtually identical to the cowboy themed steakhouse experience I had just last month. The only difference was the theme. But I have visited enough of these now to recognize the homogenization of the chain restaurant marketing direction. One I have no affinity for.
I guess this attitude of "serve yourself by technology' has seeped into all aspects of our lives, at fast food and hotel lobbies, at the bank, even at the post office. But I refuse to accept such a disrespectful approach to my dining experience. I will just have to look for one of a vanishing breed of restaurateurs, because far too many have subscribed to a new format, The Death of Dining.