Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Help on the Way

Monday, April 16, 2018

Further readings on the Mess we're in

Fascinating article in The Chronicle of Higher Education:
If the political events of 2016 proved anything, it’s that our [liberal profs] interventions have been toothless. The utopian clap in the cloistered air of the professional conference loses all thunder on a city street. Literature professors have affected America more by sleeping in its downtown hotels and eating in its fast-food restaurants than by telling one another where real prospects for freedom lay. Ten thousand political radicals, in town for the weekend, spend money no differently than ten thousand insurance agents.
I will be quoting that last line a few times. Excellent article and diagnosis.


The (conservative) National Review's entertainingly-rabid pit bull, Kevin D. Williamson, was hired at (liberal) The Atlantic... and when they belatedly discovered that the pit bull really meant what he said about abortion (you mean he isn't joking?)--they fired him. Within hours. Like, this must be some kind of record.

I see this ideological lockstep as more of the same problem. If you can't handle Kevin Williamson, who is pretty extreme, what is wrong with you? You should easily be able to refute his nonsense... or can you?

I think most of the liberals have forgotten how to argue since they live in an echo chamber--so when a conservative pit bull bolts forth--fascist, funny and taking no prisoners... they collectively cower, run and scream. (And fire them, after just hiring them.)

WE used to be the people who made them cower, run and scream. Remember? The Left used to be funny and extreme and posed the existential threat to Western Civ, not National Review columnists, for godsake. Now we are a bunch of finger-wagging schoolmarms who couldn't scare a fly.

Anyway. The National Review, predictably, had strong opinions. In that last piece, Ben Shapiro offered a list:
The Left is narrowing the range of acceptable discourse and persons, and there will be a backlash.

Kevin Williamson. Sam Harris. Bret Weinstein. Bari Weiss. Dave Rubin. Jason Riley. Heather Mac Donald. Jordan Peterson. Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

Welcome to the coalition of unpersons.

The people above don’t have much in common. They disagree on matters large and small. Ali is a militant atheist; Williamson is a religious Christian. Peterson focuses on the metaphysical import of myths; Harris focuses on verifiable science. Rubin is a gay Jew; Riley is black. Mac Donald is a supporter of stronger policing; Weinstein was a supporter of Occupy Wall Street.

But there is one thing that everyone on this list has in common: We’ve all been unpersoned by the Left. And that Left is creeping quietly into the mainstream.
As you might know, I belong on that list too. I am no longer on tumblr due to the vicious, 'leftist' lynch mobs that never end. They are singularly uninterested in taking on the Right or Trump--everything they do is about picking the Left apart and destroying it. As you can see, they are doing a fabulous job, and helped the Right elect their president.

These regularly-scheduled "circular firing squads" of the Left have not only rattled me, they have deeply depressed me, as I see what the online Left in America has become = a total stranger. I don't recognize it.

Historically, WE were the people who believed in free speech, remember? WE were the ones who welcomed all kinds of views from all kinds of people. WE were the ones who opposed censorship. Remember? Remember?

Here are some excerpts from the dissenting view from the Atlantic, by Conor Friedersdorf, with which I concur:
Last month, The Atlantic hired Kevin Williamson, the longtime National Review staffer. Jeffrey Goldberg, the editor in chief of The Atlantic, announced the move, declaring him a writer “whose force of intellect and acuity of insight reflect our ambition.”

Immediately, critics began poring over Williamson’s substantial archive of published writing and public statements. Among the most controversial was an exchange on Twitter about abortion and the death penalty. Williamson declared that “the law should treat abortion like any other homicide.” Pushed to clarify, Williamson added, “I have hanging more in mind.” Later, he expounded, “I’m torn on capital punishment generally; but treating abortion as homicide means what it means.”


Do not imagine that I am any less appalled than you at the idea of hanging women who have abortions. I oppose the death penalty, full stop. I would regard any expansion of executions as barbaric and any vast expansion as authoritarian and nightmarish. Even if a politician proposed simply incarcerating women who have abortions, I would oppose the proposition in keeping with my civil libertarian convictions.


More specifically, I dissent from the way that Williamson was dragged, regardless of his position. That dragging would be a small matter in isolation, but it is of a piece with burgeoning, shortsighted modes of discourse that are corroding what few remaining ties bind the American center. Should that center fail to hold, anarchy will be loosed.

And I dissent from the termination that followed—a matter for which responsibility must fall on The Atlantic, not on Williamson’s critics, even those critics who most egregiously distorted his words or their prominence in his journalism.

What about the mode of Williamson’s dragging alarmed me?

Word of Williamson’s hiring was greeted by some as if by mercenary opposition researchers determined to isolate the most outlying and offensive thoughts that he ever uttered, no matter how marginal to his years of journalistic work; to gleefully amplify them, sometimes in highly distorting ways, in a manner designed to stoke maximum upset and revulsion; and to frame them as if they said everything one needed to know about his character. To render him toxic was their purpose.

That mode was poison when reserved for cabinet nominees; it is poison when applied to journalistic hires; and it will be poison if, next week or year, it comes for you.
Already has!--interjects Daisy.
Insofar as opinion journalists indulged in it, the mode is also a professional failure. The best illustration of why that is so requires reading a 2015 post by Williamson where he reflects on his “unplanned” conception by parents who chose to give him up for adoption. “It is not as though I do not sympathize with women who feel that they are not ready for a child,” he wrote. And later, he added, “It is impossible for me to know whether the woman who gave birth to me would have chosen abortion if that had been a more readily available alternative in 1972. I would not bet my life, neither the good nor the bad parts of it, on her not choosing it.”

A journalist plumbing the depths of Williamson’s personal archive with the intention of fully informing their readers would surely note that context in their renderings.

How many who dragged him noted it at all?

And then the termination: I worry that the firing was a failure of “the spirit of generosity,” a value that The Atlantic has long touted as a core value. I know that it raised thorny, unresolved questions about what exactly is verboten at the magazine. I fear that it will make it harder for the publication to contribute to the sort of public sphere where the right and the left mutually benefit from fraught engagement. And I expect that many of my colleagues will bear the burden of being dragged in ways that opportunists on the right and the left will now take to be effective.

Finally, I worry that the dragging and the firing were failures of tolerance.

That virtue is unfashionable these days. And I believe that those who minimize, dismiss, or reject it underestimate its value and the potential consequences of its atrophy, even as many who value tolerance have lost the words or the stomach to defend it.

I have not.
Read the rest
, it is well worth your time.

And practice saying this with me: more speech, not less.

More, not less. MORE. NOT LESS.

No opinion or POV should ever be suppressed--it will simply return in a far more angry, unmanageable and fanatical form.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Is Thomas Ravenel another #MeToo casualty?

At left, famous Republican socialite Thomas Ravenel (with Ashley Jacobs), of Bravo network's Southern Charm.

Will Folks (whom I interviewed for my own radio show, years ago) has just taken his life in his hands and reported some dirt on Thomas Ravenel, the Palmetto State's own reality TV star, world-class cokehead and dropper of babies into pools.

I say "taken his life in his hands" since Folks has already heard from the lawyer of our famously-litigious ex-state-treasurer, and I hope he has the money to cover the legal fees.

From Folks' blog FITSNews, here are the goods:
[Panama City Beach, FL model and real-estate agent] Ashley Perkins, 29, alleged in a series of tweets this week that Southern Charm star Thomas Ravenel – the former treasurer of South Carolina and a candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2004 and 2014 – settled a sexual assault case involving her mother two years ago.


It’s not immediately clear whether a law enforcement investigation into these allegations was ever initiated. In fact, it’s not immediately clear whether law enforcement was ever even notified of these allegations – which are said to have taken place in Charleston, S.C. in December of 2015. Further complicating matters, the alleged victim – a 53-year-old real estate agent who resides in Panama City Beach – reportedly signed a non-disclosure agreement during a mediation at the Belmond Charleston Place Hotel in June of 2016 barring her from discussing details of the incident.


Perkins’ initial accusatory tweet toward Ravenel – which included images of wrist injuries allegedly inflicted on her mom by the 55-year-old reality star – was posted on April 11, but she deleted it that same day after her mother was allegedly contacted by Ravenel’s attorneys.

The next day, however, Perkins posted the allegations (and images) again – and has since re-posted them at least ten times (and referenced them in dozens of other tweets to multiple media outlets).

Perkins told us she was upset Ravenel’s attorneys were allegedly harassing her mother over these tweets – which included hashtags that referenced Ravenel and Kathryn Dennis (his ex-girlfriend, Southern Charm co-star and the mother of his two young children).

“Thomas’ attorneys emailed my mom’s attorneys the next morning (April 12),” she told us. “My mom didn’t know what they were talking about. I told her that (the tweets) were pulled and they were. Then later, Thomas’ attorney contacted my mom’s attorney again and said that I still had hashtags up that they didn’t like. They didn’t like Kathryn Dennis and Thomas being tagged.”

That’s when Perkins decided to go forward with the story.
Read the rest of it.
.. and if you have problems with this story, for goodness sake, sue Will Folks, intrepid ex-lover of our ex-governor, not me.

I will certainly stay on this story as long as Will can afford to!

Friday, April 13, 2018

Toss Them Tuesdays

Here I am explaining to people how much Trump cares about them and how much they'll get from their tax cut! Yes, important economic street action!

We are out there every Tuesday at noon on Main Street in Greenville, SC. We plant ourselves in front of the offices of our senators, Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott, as well as our especially-embarrassing congressman, Trey Gowdy. In photos above, there are two candidates running against Gowdy, who is pointedly and surprisingly not running for re-election.

My choice is LEE TURNER, so give generously!

Yall come on out and join us if you are local.

And if you aren't--how about you plan on flying in and joining us anyway? :) We need everybody!!

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Call-Out Culture Is a Toxic Garbage Dumpster Fire of Trash

Article by Katie Herzog in The Stranger:

There’s a name for this behavior: witch hunts. Someone is accused, judged, and condemned for an alleged or apparent transgression, and the townspeople on Facebook and Twitter grab their pitchforks and rush to the burn pile. There may be little evidence to support the prevailing narrative, but that hardly matters. The trial is conducted via social media, and the judges are anyone with access. Take a recent incident in Seattle, when the (ironically, Jewish) founder of the Punk Rock Flea Market was widely accused of being a Nazi sympathizer after a false and unsubstantiated claim that he kicked a woman of color out of his event was circulated on social media. I often write about social media mobs exactly like this, and what I have found is that they are not frequently misinformed, they are almost always misinformed. You just don't know what happened unless you were (A) there or (B) someone has actually investigated whatever claims have come forth. But that's not how mobs work.

This atmosphere makes it difficult, if not impossible, to dissent. I was recently talking to a friend about the #MeToo movement. In hushed tones, she told me she had a confession to make. “Don’t tell anyone,” she said, “but I don’t think Woody Allen raped his daughter.” Luckily for her, she was in good company—I also doubt the veracity of Woody Allen’s guilt because the evidence just doesn’t support the claims—but she said this as though she were confessing to a terrible crime. And she was: a thought crime, one so potentially harmful to her standing among her own friends that expressing it to anyone besides a known thought criminal was unthinkable. The resistance, it seems, is intersectional in everything but opinions.

In a recent Wired piece, techno-sociologist Zeynep Tufekci wrote about contemporary censorship, which comes not from governments but from our own social networks. “The most effective forms of censorship today involve meddling with trust and attention, not muzzling speech itself," she wrote. "As a result, they don’t look much like the old forms of censorship at all. They look like viral or coordinated harassment campaigns, which harness the dynamics of viral outrage to impose an unbearable and disproportionate cost on the act of speaking out."

I see this every day. Just this week, a complete stranger tagged me in a tweet:
Yep @kittypurrzog has written a number of very questionable articles. @TheStranger should consider re-evaluating whether they want to continue promoting her incendiary views.
— Guy Oron (@GuyOron) January 23, 2018
This person, Guy, finds my opinions so “incendiary”—so trash—that he wants me to get fired from my job for expressing my thoughts. That blows my mind. I’m a critic at an alt-weekly, not a politician. My views are just that: my own views. The idea that my opinions are so dangerous that I should be fired from my job isn’t just silly, it’s scary. It’s not like I’m over here advocating that everyone go out and club baby seals.

Progressives used to be able to handle dissent. The Democrats were the party of free speech and free thought. No more. Among far too many leftists, if you disagree, you are wrong. And if you are wrong, you are bad, and if you are bad, you are trash.

This is a shame, and not just because I’m sick of getting angry e-mails. It’s a shame because this call-out culture prevents people from actually speaking their minds, because they are too scared of being unfriended, unfollowed, blocked, shunned, or dismissed as simply trash. But we shouldn't be shutting opinions we disagree with down; we should be seeking them out. You don’t learn much if everyone around you believes—or professes to believe—the exact same thing as you do, and if we don't expose ourselves to a diversity of opinions, we are never going to get out our self-imposed echo chambers. These echo chambers didn’t just bring us President Donald Trump, they brought us a liberal establishment so unable to see and believe that other people actually liked the fucker, that we all laughed at his candidacy instead of taking it as the very real threat that it was all along.

The world is falling apart around us, and we—liberals, progressive, leftists, whatever you want to call us—are too busy fighting with each other to actually do anything concrete about it, even though we agree on most of the big, important issues. The reality is, we are more alike than we are different. Like every other progressive worth my “I voted” sticker, I think Trump is the biggest threat to world stability that we’ve seen in the past 50 years. I think women should be able to procure abortions easily, cheaply, and legally. I believe that climate change is an existential threat to humanity, that white supremacy and unfettered capitalism are bad for us all, and that every single person on this planet should have access to housing, health care, clean water, good jobs, fair wages, and food to feed their kids. But that doesn’t matter—all that matters are these tiny, minute disagreements about pussy hats or emotional support animals or disgraced celebrities or whatever outrage of the day has captured the national attention. All that matters is that you are woke and I am trash.
Read it all.

Bravo. Encore.

In the interests of accuracy, during this current postmodern witch hunt, I have decided to call myself a "classical liberal" (ugh--why isn't there another term?) instead of a leftist or lefty... I hate the modern regressive Left too much to align myself with them now. This political crisis is one reason why I haven't blogged here much and have mostly fulminated on tumblr. I have now decided tumblr is part of the problem too, and likely cannot be reformed, which was my wish. I have pretty much given up on my tumblr account, and like another local friend of mine ((waves!)) will henceforth (probably) stick to posting pretty photos of nature, cats and goats. The tumblresque self-imposed self-censorship is stultifying and stifling.

Censorship, McCarthyism, Stalinism, witch hunts, The Crucible--choose your terms, they have arrived and are in full bloom.

And this is the new front we fight on, since without free speech and inquiry, there is absolutely nothing to fight for.

Nothing at all.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

And I don't wanna fake it anymore

I love this even more than the electric version! Can't stop listening to it, so thought I would share.



Friday, January 26, 2018

Anti-Ivanka Trump Protest in Greenville today

Ivanka Trump came to Greenville today to meet with the local Powers That Be (as well as all the little people who make her lovely life possible!) ... and a bunch of us were there to welcome her in our own special way.

The local ad-hoc band known as "The Swampdrainers" sang well-known peace songs as some of us chanted "Trump Go Home." The local news reports 50 protesters, but we now average that every Tuesday; it was at least double that.

Ivanka flew in coach, which is the talk of the town -- as well as obvious proof she is all down with the people.

From the Greenville News:
Ivanka Trump, a senior White House adviser, arrived on a commercial flight about 10 a.m. Friday at Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport.

"She was always smiling and very pleasant," Angela Martinez said after sitting behind the president's daughter on the flight.

Trump stopped at Coffee Underground, a popular downtown coffee shop, before her speaking engagement.

People swarmed her to take pictures outside of Frank's Gentleman's Salon. Wearing a tan blazer, black pants and black shirt, she posed for pictures before leaving in a limo.

A couple of people waited for her outside of the Westin Poinsett around lunchtime. They were disappointed to learn she entered the hotel through a back entrance. There was a notable police presence in the area, including Police Chief Ken Miller.

Police and Secret Service were stationed at nearly every corner of the lobby and mezzanine levels of the hotel.

An organization protested Ivanka Trump's visit on the plaza outside of the hotel. The protesters voiced their views on a number of issues ranging from tax reform to immigration.
They mean us. Yes, we did.

Above: The pope came out to demonstrate with us today! I guess you’re pretty impressed now, huh?

Yes, that’s me, I asked him what took him so long.

As stated above, they herded the pricey GOP donors in the back doors, of course. My co-activist Elaine Cooper chased both SC Senators Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott down Main Street and got excellent footage of both of them, trying to ignore her. Graham practically broke into a trot.

Below: one sign says “resist” and one says “nepotism!” so when they stood together, it said “resist nepotism!”

I really really wanted a sign that said “WELCOME STORMY!” but didn’t have time to make it. ;)


Ivanka Trump in SC to talk taxes with women (The State)

Ivanka Trump, Tim Scott talk tax reform in Greenville (GoUpstate.com)

Ivanka Trump visits Greenville and talks taxes (WSPA)