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Monthly Archives: June 2011

Justice Justice

June 29th, 2011 - 10:41 am

I demand justice justice.

No, I don’t have a stutter. What I want is justice for the word “justice” itself.

Because, you see, “justice” has been hijacked by the American left and is now their exclusive weapon. It is no longer a politically neutral word; whenever you see the word “justice” — especially preceded by another noun — it invariably is meant to convey some far-left position.

A History of Crimes Against Justice

The degradation of “justice” started with the phrase “social justice,” a concept which was originally only a religious term but which was later adopted (and re-defined) by the American left to have political connotations. Use of the word “justice” as a leftist buzzword was given a big boost in 1971 with the publication of A Theory of Justice by philosopher John Rawls, which focused on “justice” as the axle around which liberal thought rotated.

Let a Hundred Justices Bloom

In the mid-’70s, the end of the Vietnam War deprived the professional left of its main protest topic, so they cast around for something new to whine about. In the absence of any glaringly urgent crisis, such as a war, they settled on a scattershot array of issues which could be unified under the generalized label “social justice.” Any aspect of American society which was insufficiently leftist suddenly needed a good dose of “social justice” to rectify things.

This overall blanket term was OK for a while, but with the arrival of the new millennium there was a rapid expansion of the “justice” concept. With breathtaking speed, justice-related terms proliferated exponentially in the early 2000s, and within a decade it became nearly impossible to even keep track of all the different “justices” we were expected to achieve.

The trend started with the two justice titans: “economic justice,” and “racial justice.” And someone must have thought: Why stop there? Soon we started seeing demands for “environmental justice” and “reproductive justice.” And then the floodgates were opened. The global warming scare brought us “climate justice“; the drive for socialized medicine became “health care justice“; amnesty for illegals transmogrified into “immigrant justice“; and on and on it went. By now we have

food justice
housing justice
gender justice
workplace justice
farmworker justice
urban justice
media justice
disability justice
transformative justice
birthing justice
prison justice

…to name just a few. Go to any protest or visit a left-wing Web site and you’ll find dozens more “justices” that need immediate resolution.

Want to give your hobby the veneer of righteousness? Just think of a noun, affix the word “justice” after it, and voilà: You’re part of the solution! Yes, it’s that easy.

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World Naked Bike Ride, San Francisco

June 21st, 2011 - 10:56 am

[NOTE: This is the CENSORED version of this report, and is pretty much "safe for work" and family-friendly. If you want to see the UNCENSORED edition, which is most definitely NOT safe for work, click HERE. Aside from covering up the private parts, the reports are otherwise identical.]


Saturday, June 11 was “World Naked Bike Ride” day in San Francisco. As the title implies, it doesn’t happen only in San Francisco — it’s a global event, with rides in over 70 cities around the world.


Ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner is recently unemployed, so I got him a gig as the censor for today’s event. As an expert in penis-photographs, he definitely has the skills for the job! Throughout this censored version of the World Naked Bike Ride report, wherever you would have seen a wiener, you’ll see a Weiner instead!


Participants gathered in Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco’s Embarcadero area. Anyone could join in — anyone who enjoys being naked in public, that is.


The main question gawkers ask is, “Why???” Well, in theory at least, there is a political dimension to the World Naked Bike Ride, which gives me an excuse to report on it. Luckily, the event’s main organizers have posted an FAQ page for the perplexed. The question “Why are you riding naked?” is answered with “To celebrate cycling and the human body. The ride demonstrates the vulnerability of cyclists on the road and is a protest against oil dependency.” In addition, the WNBR main page states, “We face automobile traffic with our naked bodies as the best way of defending our dignity and exposing the unique dangers faced by cyclists and pedestrians as well as the negative consequences we all face due to dependence on oil, and other forms of non-renewable energy.”

Hmmmm. Seems the message is a little muddled. Several justifications are given:
1. “To celebrate the human body.”
2. To bring attention to how dangerous it is for cyclists on city streets.
3. To protest oil dependency and the oil-based economy.
4. To promote bike-riding and make a stand against the car culture.

But, as the sarcastic commentary about nuclear energy in the picture above shows, nuclear power is also no longer kosher. Yet if you eliminate oil/coal/gas and nuclear…all other energy sources combined account for only 19% of current global needs, so it’s not clear exactly what kind of serious viable solution they’re proposing.


Even so, I suspect there’s only one real reason motivating the World Naked Bike Ride: exhibitionism, or the desire to be naked in public. The rest of the justifications are just a political veneer.


Here’s something you may not have known: If you’re young, skinny, female and half-naked, people will want to take your picture. Learn something new every day!


A guy in all-body tiger paint seemed to be one of the ride organizers.


He happily posed for souvenir photographs with passing tourists.


But when he bends over, watch out! Ass cracks are ass cracks, with or without body paint.


During the pre-ride preparations, one of the riders stood off to the side to make a cell phone call. He was approached by stunned out-of-towners who had summoned up the nerve to ask him what the heck was going on. He nonchalantly explained.

Side note: notice the kid sitting behind the naked guy. No attempt was made, on the part of the participants, police, or public, to keep kids at a safe distance from all the full-frontal nudity.


While a few of the participants were somewhat demure about their private parts being exposed, or were at most faux-nonchalant, most of the rest made a point of exposing themselves as vividly as possible.


Several “participants” did not even have bicycles: They just showed up for the hour-long pre-ride preparation period because it was an opportunity to have a “valid” excuse for being naked in public.


These two guys, for example, showed up, disrobed, stood around for ten minutes posing naked for all the photographers, then put their clothes back on and left! Bicycles had nothing to do with it.


In what I hereby deem as “Worst Public Relations Decision of the Week,” the Nesquik Bunny showed up to hand out free chocolate milk samples to the exhibitionists, and posed for pictures alongside various bizarre characters.


The rest of the Nesquik team joined the fun. And no matter what he was standing next to, the Bunny always kept the same goofy smile, which made the proceedings even more surreal, if that was possible.


The legendary parrots of Telegraph Hill looked down on all the human flesh. “Squawk! Those flightless giant pink birds have lost all their feathers! Squawk!”


Naked lunch.

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Whenever I attend a political rally, I almost always know ahead of time whether or not I’ll agree with the protesters. The flyers or online notices usually make it very clear where on the political spectrum the organizers stand and what their stated goals are.

But last Saturday was different: A rally was scheduled for San Francisco’s Civic Center, and for the first time in a long while I didn’t know whether or not I sympathized with its intent.

The Facebook page announcing the event called it “San Francisco Rally and March for Democracy in the Middle East,” with a tagline that said,

Protest and march to stand in solidarity with the people of Syria, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, and other countries in the region as they struggle against dictatorships and repressive governments.

Democracy? Opposing dictatorships? What’s not to like? So my first urge was to sympathize with the protest.

But then again…I scan the news each day, and I’ve read many essays from American analysts and pundits who worry that the “Arab Spring” may only serve to open the door to Islamic extremists seeking to seize control of various Arab countries. In other words, the revolutions wouldn’t necessarily get rid of totalitarian government as a concept; they might only replace one form of totalitarianism with another.

So, if the Arab Spring revolutions were successful, they could have two possible outcomes: “democracy” (assumed by most analysts to mean moderate/secular/flexible elected leadership); and “Islamic fundamentalism” (i.e. religiously based and inflexible).

I diagrammed the two possible options like so:

So I thought my task would be simple enough: attend the rally, and look for any evidence for Islamism. If they had flags/signs/chants or speeches championing Hezbollah or the Muslim Brotherhood or the like, then I’d have to conclude that the protesters were in favor of the fundamentalist outcome, and I’d be disappointed; but if they focused on the secular, then I could join in the protest with a clear conscience.


When I arrived, I was pleasantly surprised. There was no mention of Islam at all; just calls for political freedom and for overthrowing the Middle East’s various dictators and strongmen.


And it wasn’t focused on any one nation or region: There were flags and signs about Libya, Egypt and Tunisia in North Africa; Syria and Iraq in the Middle East; Yemen and Bahrain on the Arabian Peninsula; and others as well.


“Freedom, Justice, Democracy.” Hey, can’t argue with that.


“Stop Genocide”? Can’t argue with that either.


The rally was pretty small; somewhere around 100-200 people was my estimate. And most of the people in attendance were Middle Easterners themselves. And my first impression was that they wanted the same thing I do: a democratic and secular Arab world.


This impression was strengthened by the presence of Westernized young Arab women, such as the protester shown here on the left, who wore form-fitting clothes, sunglasses, smoked cigarettes, etc. — the kind of attitude that would be anathema to Islamic fundamentalists.


Even the young women who wore traditional head-coverings also wore makeup and tried to “look good” in the way that young women do in any secular society. And so I concluded: No way these people are Islamists. So the only other option is that they favor pro-Western democracies.

And here’s where our story takes an unexpected turn.


Not everyone at the rally was Middle Eastern. Around the periphery was a smattering of various non-Arab types, such as this schmuck showing off his hammer-and-sickle shirt.

And he wasn’t the only one.


Soon Code Pink showed up and attached themselves to the rally, unfurling a “Democracy Now” banner.


But then they flipped it around to show their true colors: “Thank You Wikileaks.”


The parade of parasitical leftists was just getting started. The International Communist League strolled around hawking their Workers Vanguard newspaper.


In fact, the more I looked, the more I saw non-Arab socialist/communist/leftist types hovering around the fringes. And I thought to myself, “Damn, these people are so annoying; they’ll show up at any rally, uninvited, and contaminate the proceedings with their leftist claptrap.” And I wouldn’t blame the Arabs for secretly resenting these political remoras.

At small rallies like this, I quickly run out of interesting things to photograph. And so, as often happens, I turn my camera to secondary, less noteworthy subjects, just so I don’t feel like I’m standing around passively while I ought to be doing something. Usually such second-tier images end up getting deleted when I’m back at home sorting through the pictures, but this time around, one of my most boring time-filling pictures turned out to be the key that unlocked the mystery of the whole rally. Here it is:


As you can see, for lack of anything better to do, I snapped a picture of some Middle-Eastern flags that the rally’s organizers had piled up on the ground. I was about to delete the image when something caught my eye: The flags all said “Please return – AROC.” Curious, I Googled AROC.

Bingo!

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I write this essay with a heavy heart.

I’ve always considered myself an ardent advocate for education. But a recent rally staged by teachers and students in favor of school funding forced me to reluctantly acknowledge an awful truth:

We have to destroy education in order to save it.

Let me explain how I came to this miserable conclusion.

The May 13 “State of Emergency” School Funding Protest

A few weeks ago (on Friday, May 13, to be precise) teachers up and down the state of California protested for more school funding. This mass multi-city “State of Emergency” protest was meant to be a Big Deal, a headline-grabbing statewide walkout, but you probably didn’t even hear about it at the time, since I suppose the media and the public have grown weary of endless political demonstrations.

But not to worry — blogs to the rescue! Fellow photojournalist Ringo of Ringo’s Pictures fully documented the Los Angeles protest, and I myself had camera duty at the San Francisco rally, the results of which you’ll see here (along with a selection of L.A. pictures).

You may be wondering: if these protests happened back in May, why are we only seeing the pictures now? Very, very good question.

These photos have been languishing on my hard drive for three weeks because every time I got the notion to blog about them, something stopped me. I’ve been making fun of protesters for over eight years now, but this time, I felt conflicted. I mean, c’mon, what have you got against poor teachers and young kids pleading for a few more pennies to keep their schools open? What are you, some kind of cruel anti-education knowledge-hating sadist?

I had some serious cogitatin’ to do. And each time I pushed this report to the back burner, unbidden thoughts kept percolating, simmering in the back of my mind. And it was not until today that I figured out why these otherwise unremarkable protests were so disturbing, and why I could only grumble under my breath at what ought to have been a legitimate social complaint.

(Photos and videos from both the S.F. and L.A. rallies are scattered generously throughout the following short essay. When you come to a photo, soak it in but then keep scrolling down — the essay continues all the way to the end! In each caption, “[SF]” indicates a photo by zombie of the San Francisco rally; “[LA]” indicates a photo by Ringo of the Los Angeles rally.)


An unapologetically political teacher leads students in march favoring tax increases. [LA]

For most of my life I was what you might call an apathetic leftie — I didn’t particularly care about politics, but I always voted Democratic and if the conversation came up I would inevitably concur with my friends’ inevitably “progressive” opinions. And that most definitely included education. It was one of the few things I always had a strong opinion about: education was A Good Thing under all circumstances and maximizing everyone’s education level was ultimately the solution to all problems: unemployment, intolerance, ignorance, public health — everything.

In my youthful brain I couldn’t even conceptualize anything other than “public education,” so that’s what I imagined I was in favor of: Making public school, from pre-school up through graduate school, accessible to everyone and of the highest standards. I was like, Duh, how can you have any other opinion?


Elementary public school students learn radical chants from their teachers while posing for the cameras. [SF]

But then 9/11 happened and like many once brain-dead liberals I awakened to a new reality. I didn’t particularly like this harsh new world, but I could see quite clearly that I had been drifting in a haze before, unaware of what was really going on. Mostly, as with most 9/11 Newborns, my new political awareness at first focused primarily on foreign policy and American Exceptionalism, but little by little, once this end was tugged, the fuzzy yarnball of my former political self unraveled entirely.

(Now it just lies in a jumbled heap on the floor.)


I can’t blame the adorable children; most of them probably only had the vaguest grasp what their adult-made signs even meant. [SF]

But one belief never changed: Good education is necessary for a healthy society. This isn’t even a left/right issue: even conservatives will say that an educated America means an economically robust America means a strong America. And I still believe that.


Each one of the three signs depicted here merits a full analysis of its own; but I’ll simply let you the readers deconstruct the underhanded logical flaws in each message. [LA]

But as I walked around the rally in San Francisco, and later scanned the pictures taken by Ringo at the L.A. rally, I found myself thinking uncharitable thoughts about the protesting teachers: I hope your funding gets cut even more! Your demands are futile because the state is bankrupt anyway and there’s no more money to give; but even if the economy were to eventually recover, I would still want to see funding for public education slashed to a minimum.

Horrors! I was taken aback by my own thoughts. How could I be so cruel? What evil right-wing influence was making me think this way?


Class war = class war! Get it? Man, Marxist humor is funny. [SF]

And then I looked around me and realized: It isn’t the right-wingers who are making me think these awful thoughts: It’s the teachers themselves at this very rally who have forced me into it!


Teachers escort their classes from San Francisco’s public schools to the rally. The kids were obviously enjoying their first taste of progressive street politics. [SF]

Indoctrination as Education

Last year I published a massive five-part essay about the miserable state of education in America (and no, I won’t even link to the thing, because it would take you a week just to read it and this essay is long enough all by itself). Part 3 of that essay was called “Indoctrination Nation” and discussed the extent to which public schools have ceased to be places for educating America’s youth but have instead become indoctrination centers where our children’s brains are marinated in political correctness and leftist thought patterns. But a few thousand words were not enough to do the topic justice; entire books have been written about the leftist takeover of education. Yet it’s even bigger than that. Political bias in education is by now its own field of study.


“REPUBLICANS ARE BUIIIES,” spells this Los Angeles-area school teacher. OK — but what the heck is a buiiie? [LA (or should I say "lA")]

Even so, it’s hard to discuss the issue because the general adult public rarely gets a chance to actually perceive in person the kind of indoctrination that goes on daily in our classrooms. And without visual or experiential proof of the detractors’ claims, the indoctrinators always have plausible deniability: You wingnuts are hyperventilating over nothing! The only indoctrination going on is in your fevered dreams.


“Today, children, I want to teach you how to form your own opinions.” [LA]

In fact, the left-leaning teachers’ unions often claim the opposite: that standardized testing forces them to teach rote learning as neutrally as possible, because school funding is now tied to each school’s overall test results.

And that’s what these May 13 rallies were all about: funding. Money money money, give us more money.

And then it hit me why I had such an adverse reaction to the whole thing:

The very act of them asking for money is what made me not want to give them money, because it revealed their political bias.


The real agenda revealed. Ladies — you forget about the school part! [SF]

And here’s why:

• As you can see in the many photos illustrating this essay, their demands for more money were accompanied by many ancillary leftist slogans like “Tax the Rich!” and “Workers’ Power!” and “Cutting Education Is Class War” and so on. So this wasn’t just about requesting more funding for education: The content of the rally itself revealed that increasing school funding is just a component of a larger leftist agenda — school funding is being used as a lever to penalize the rich, increase power for unions, and so forth.

• The demand that unwilling taxpayers fund more government services is in and of itself a cornerstone of liberal ideology.

• The very act of having a street protest demanding handouts is essentially a leftist tactic, so the simple existence of teachers at the rally means that they embrace leftist ideology.

• As at other union rallies documented in earlier essays, socialist and communist groups mingled freely on May 13 with the teachers’ unions, their messages blending into a unified ethos.

• And the clincher: At both rallies, teachers brought entire classes of their students (this was held on a Friday, a school day, remember) to join in this overtly leftist behavior.


Many San Francisco teachers were apparently content letting their students carry signs from socialist and communist oganizations. [SF]

It’s this last point that really turned me sour on the whole thing. Dudes, are you seriously bringing your students from public schools to a leftism-soaked political rally? You’re supposed to be their teachers, not their indoctrinators.


The “United Teachers of Los Angeles” union brought along plenty of students — and Che stickers. [LA]


A close-up from the previous photo. Indoctrination? Where? Stop exaggerating! [LA]

And indoctrination it most certainly is. Check out this video of kids having the time of their lives shouting teacher-led socialist slogans through school-issued megaphones, and try to tell me they weren’t having a memorable and fun bonding experience:

Until attending this rally, I was still a little conflicted about school funding. In the final installment of my five-part education essay mentioned earlier, I even wrote the following:

Break the monopoly of public education, but keep it as a safety net

Public schooling will always have its flaws, mainly because it necessarily must be geared to the lowest common denominator. Even so, we cannot get rid of it entirely, for three basic reasons:

- Most parents do not have the time, patience, expertise or interest to either homeschool or spend a lot of effort choosing amongst a panoply of confusing small-school options. Large public schools will likely continue to be the default fallback option for many students.

- Some parents prefer that their children attend large public schools to help with their socialization and to increase their life experience as early as possible, and to prevent the potential isolation that sometimes accompanies homeschooling or specialty-schooling.

- We don’t want to revert to the era before public schooling when education was restricted to the wealthy elite. Public schools should remain as a safety net to ensure that all American children get an education, however underprivileged or dysfunctional their home lives may be.

That said, we need to break the monopoly of publicly financed mass-education. Attendance at large public schools should not be compulsory, or even encouraged. Charter schools, private schools, small schools and homeschooling should be considered the preferred way to go, and students should only be sent to large public schools as an emergency fallback if no better options are available in that area or neighborhood, or if (as occasionally happens) the local public school is outstanding in its own right.


San Francisco parents: Did you know that when you dropped your kids off at school that day, their teachers would take them to participate in a lynch mob? [SF]

But now, after seeing these rallies and pondering it some more — I’m not so sure. My suggestion goes off the rails in the first six words: “Break the monopoly of public education.” Oh really. How optimistic of you, zombie. And how exactly can that be achieved? As has become apparent over the last several years, the teachers’ unions and the progressive establishment have absolutely no intention whatsoever to release their grip on public education, not even one tiny bit, and they strive with all their might to crush any competition to the public school monopoly. They will continue to control the schools, and use them to indoctrinate children, unless that control is wrested forcibly from their hands.


Shades of the Cultural Revolution. [LA]

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All across the internet over the last few hours, liberal commenters and bloggers have fallen back on one of their most trusted logical arguments in situations like this in which a Democrat is caught in a sex scandal: “At least he’s not a hypocrite.

This sampling of (unedited) comments taken from today’s New York Times‘ and San Francisco Chronicle‘s articles about Anthony Weiner’s public confession are typical:

“Much to do about nothing. Please wake me up if you find out that he mishandled/stole taxpayer money, or had previously participated in some sort of moral clensing crusade.”

…and…

Unless an elected official is a hypocrite (i.e., an anti-gay politician who espouses “family values” but solicits men for sex in public restrooms), I don’t care about his private life, including whether he sends naked pictures of himself to women who aren’t his wife.”

…and…

“I certainly find it reprehensible, particularly the lying. But he didn’t run on a Family Values moral superiority platform, like Ensign; there is less hypocracy and more simple stupidity here.”

A quick search of the liberal blogosphere and in the comments sections of MSM articles will turn up countless similar examples. If you spend any time on the Internet, you’ve undoubtedly encountered it yourself over and over, as others have noted. And it hasn’t just emerged in regards to Weinergate: It’s actually one of the bedrocks of the liberal worldview: Conservatives are hypocrites concerning moral issues, whereas liberals are not.

Which got me to thinking:

This has to be the weakest philosophical argument I’ve ever encountered.

Not just weak: self-extirpating.

If there ever was a moment to really dig down into the fundamental structure of this argument, this is it. So let’s get down to brass tacks, shall we?

Sleight-of-mind

What liberals really really love about this stance is its climactic declaration: Our opponents are hypocrites!

Here is how the liberals present their case:

But what they don’t want you to think about — and what they themselves don’t even want to acknowledge — is that this “hypocrites” howl is the second half of a two-part argument. And in that second half, they are the victors. But in the first half….

Well, for the “at least we’re not hypocrites” sentiment to make sense, there must be an agreed-upon starting point — one which the liberals themselves are confirming each time they make this argument. And what must that starting point necessarily be? For conservatives to be hypocrites when they do something immoral, then that means they must profess a moral ideology in the first place. And — here’s the key — for the liberals to be let off the hook when they do something immoral, then that means they must profess an ideology with no moral claims whatsoever.

Thus, the diagram above only showed you the climactic second half of the liberals’ sleight-of-mind trick. The full statement — including the first half which you’re not supposed to think about — would be diagrammed like this:

Not quite so effective an argument when seen this way, is it?

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I Can’t Say With Certitude

June 3rd, 2011 - 11:47 am

When asked whether or nor the infamous Twitter pic showing a closeup of a man’s private parts in distinctive underwear was a photograph of him, Congressman Anthony Weiner replied,

I can’t say with certitude.

Seriously, dude?

The guy must have quite a selection of racy self-portraits to be unsure if this particular image was one of his.

We got to wondering: What other photographs could Rep. Weiner “not say with certitude” were a picture of him?


“Congressman Weiner, is this a picture of you?”
“I can’t say with certitude.”


“Congressman Weiner, is this a picture of you?”
“I can’t say with certitude.”


“Congressman Weiner, is this a picture of you?”
“I can’t say with certitude.”


“Congressman Weiner, is this a picture of you?”
“I can’t say with certitude.”


“Congressman Weiner, is this a picture of you?”
“I can’t say with certitude.”

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