Monday, October 1, 2018

In Which I Express Some Unpopular Opinions

I'm taking a huge risk by writing this post. I am going to be expressing, as the title indicates, some very unpopular opinions regarding the current #metoo hysteria and the Kavanaugh drama. Today's political climate has made it nearly impossible for me to express these opinions anywhere on social media simply because no matter how clear or concise my points are when I make them, there will always be those who take what I say to mean something completely different, or worse, those who take what I say and accuse ME of the very behavior of which I am speaking. That being said, I will no longer remain as silent as I have been on these issues, and so I've dusted off the old blog and have decided to express those unpopular opinions here.

This all started back in 2017 with the exposure of Harvey Weinstein and several other Hollywood personalities who had been comitting horrific sexual crimes against other Hollywood personalities for decades, and had worked together to either ignore the events, or actively cover them up. Weinstein was, after much drama and media attention, deservedly pilloried for his behavior when several Hollywood actresses, including Alyssa Milano, Gwenyth Paltrow, Rose McGowan, and reportedly dozens of others came forward and corroborated each other's stories regarding his behavior. Weinstein has since become Persona Non Grata in Hollywood and has faced indictment for criminal sexual assault charges, according to the Washington Post. With the revelation of Weinstein and other Hollywood personalities engaging in such behavior, a new movement arose, christened Me Too, whose original goal was to expose such behavior within Hollywood, and encourage solidarity between victims of sexual assault using the hashtag #metoo as a rallying cry.

It wasn't long before things began to spiral out of control within the ranks of Me Too. On February 10 of this year, the New York Post published an online article entitled "When the #metoo Movement Goes Too Far." Right away, I can see that some who read this may take the title of that article and immediately dismiss it as something it is not. Those who do, if any, ironically prove the actual points of this post.

We have forgotten, it seems, that allegations and accusations are not in and of themselves proof of wrong doing. In the age of social media, the court of public opinion appears to have taken precedence in the public mind over the court of law. In today's political climate, all it takes is for one person to accuse another of some form of sexual misconduct whether they have evdience or not. This has made itself known most prominently in the drama surrounding the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of the United States.

Most of you who are reading this are no doubt at least SOMEWHAT familiar with that particular news item, as it's been everywhere and everyone all over social media seems to have an opinion on the matter. The internet appears to be divided into two factions, for and against. Those who believe Kavanaugh's story claim that Ford's accusation is full of holes, and those who believe his accuser seem to typically default to the justification that we must, no matter what, believe survivors of sexual assault.

That, I think, more than anything is the crux of the matter. Being the horrific crime that it is, rape is seen as a crime that no one, supposedly, would ever lie about it. Ever. Unfortunately, the evidence for such false accusations is prominent and prevalent if you know where to look. For proof, we need only look back as far as the Duke University Lacrosse case. A decade ago, three players on the Duke University LaCrosse team were accused of raping a student. The details of the case are all over the internet but the long and short of it is that the players were eventually exonerated and it was found that due to misconduct and inconsistencies in the accuser's story, the players were innocent of the crime. Unfortunately the fallout from the accusations and the media frenzy regarding the case destroyed the reputations of the players in the eyes of the public. In addition to being accused of rape, they were branded racist, sexist, misogynist, and any number of other pejorative terms until the case finally fell off the radar years later.

Fast forward ten years to #metoo, and we see the same thing happening to others that happened to the Duke players. It has gotten so bad, in fact, that people who choose to defend those accused, whether that accusation is accurate or not, are absolutely pilloried for daring to suggest that there might be two sides to a story. Lena Dunham, for example, chose to defend a producer on her now-cancelled show "Girls" when he was accused, and the backlash was so severe that she was forced to apologize, even though she'd done nothing except dare to suggest that a man accused of a crime might be innocent of said crime. This brings me, after much long-winded commentary and setup, to my first unpopular opinion: The #metoo movment has become a twisted mutation of itself. It has grown so far beyond its initial intentions that now it doesn't matter if a person is guilty or innocent. If they are accused, they are to be shunned. Period. End of story. Guilty until proven innocent and sometimes not even then.

President Trump, a man who is no stranger to being accused of various wrongs by his detractors, has echoed these sentiments. From the New York Post:

“Peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation,” Trump wrote. “Some are true and some are false. Some are old and some are new. There is no recovery for someone falsely accused — life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?”

Many on the side of the #metoo movement do not want to answer that question, yet it must be answered. Whatever happened to due process? Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty? When did it become okay to accuse ANYONE, man, woman, child, black, white, Asian, gay, straight, or what have you, of ANY sort of crime and pronounce them guilty without any evidence to support that fact? To hear the media tell it, it became okay the moment Brett Kavanaugh was nominated to the Supreme Court. People have pointed to his accuser's accusation as the main reason he shouldn't be confirmed, yet those individuals have either forgotten or were never aware that even well before Kavanaugh's nomination, the left was going to do everything they could to stop Trump from confirming another justice no matter WHO it was. When petitions came out declaring that the nominee "must be stopped" there was a blank space where the nominee's name would have been. ti was released apparently without being checked by an editor. For two months, well before the accusation came out, leftist politicians were calling for the American people to "stop Kavanaugh" by any means necessary. Which brings me to my second unpopular opinion: The reason Kavanaugh is undergoing such a hit job from the Democrats is because of one thing and one thing only: Abortion.

Kavanaugh's judicial record has placed him firmly in the Constitutional Constructionist camp. His Catholic upbringing has also squarely placed him as a pro-life judge. Kavanaugh being a pro-life judge means that it is very likely that, should the case be revisited, and should he be confirmed, the infamous Roe v. Wade court case could be overturned and abortion's legality left to the individual states. This and this alone is the real reason the left wants to stop Kavanaugh's confirmation. They don't want anything to happen to abortion as it now stands, and they've cloaked it in the usual "women's right ot her body" rhetoric that is always used to shame other pro-lifers into silence regarding this issue. two months ago that was all anyone wasy talking about. If Kavanaugh got confirmed we'd be thrust into a real life version of the Handmaid's Tale, and the only way to stop it was to #stopkavanaugh. This is patently untrue for various reasons. One, Kavanaugh by himself, whether on the Supreme Court or not, does not have the power to just magically decide to revisit Roe v. Wade. There is a process that must be adhered to, and will be adhered to. Arguments have to be made, the case has to be presented, the judges ALL have to confer, and only then would it come to a vote. The idea that Kavanaugh's confirmation to the court will just magically end Roe is ludicrous fearmongering, nothing more.

There. Now that that's out of the way I can make my third and final point: The drama surrounding Me Too and Kavanaugh has resulted in many on the right and in the middle wondering just how far is too far regarding accusations of sexual assault. Incidents like the Duke Lacrosse case have given rise to the idea that it is becoming dangerous for men to make sexual or flirtatious advances towards women for fear of those women coming back and accusing them of sexual misconduct or rape. Many people, men and women both, are speculating that because of incidents like Duke Lacrosse that even such things as innocuous as a look across the room or a flirtatious comment could be construed as "sexual misconduct." And you know what? I think they're right.With feminist activist bloggers declaring that the act of placing penis into vagina is "always rape" and  U.S. senators declaring that "men need to shut up", not to mention people profiting off of shirt with such lovely messages as "men are trash," I am inclined to believe the veracity of this claim.

This is why I am worried for the next generation of fathers, brothers, uncles, male cousins, and sons. I am worried that they will be entering into a world that hates them simply for being men. I am worried that the phrase "toxic masculinity" will become so prevalent in use that men EVERYWHERE will soon be ostracized simply for daring to have committed the crime of being born with a penis instead of a vagina. I am worried that a high school freshman who wants to ask a girl on a date will have to defned himself against false accusations of rape and misconduct years down the line and have his reputation destroyed as a result. That is what I worry about: a modern day Salem, Massachussetts with today's generation of men standing in place of the women who were accused of witchcraft.

There it is. Hate me if you want, unfriend me on Facebook if you want. It will say a lot more about those of you who do so than it will about me.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Mark Zuckerberg and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Decision to Limit Your Content Choices on Facebook

I am an avid follower of several different Conservative websites and news pages on the internet. Many other people are as well. Apparently this isn't sitting well with Mark Zuckerberg, founder of social media monolith Facebook. The Chicks on the Right, a site that I visit more often than most any other, have been covering this event for the last few days, and it's their reporting along with some newly acquired free time that allows me to give my take on the situation.

Zuckerburg's actual words can be read at one of the links above, but in a nutshell, he said that Facebook users would see less ad and news traffic (honestly, I could do without the ads) in order to allow people to see more personal posts from family and friends. Doesn't sound too bad on the surface, right? Well, let's think about what this means:

1. This means that Zuckerburg is intentionally changing Facebook's algorithms to manipulate YOUR content on YOUR facebook wall. What this also means is that you might not necessarily see political pages or news pages that you yourself have liked. I and many others have already experienced this turn of events. Heck, just take a look at the COTR Facebook thread on the issue, and you'll see that DOZENS of comments on that thread alone complain about having the page involuntarily unliked or unfollowed.

2. This already starting to affect Conservative aligned news sources, as Right Wing News publisher John Hawkins has already announced that his site will be shutting down because of these changes. According to him, Facebook was and is his primary method for getting his content out, and with these changes that will make it virtually impossible for him to continue as he has done since his site was founded. He isn't the only one, either. James O'Keefe, the modern day Woodward who brought down ACORN, has broken a story about Twitter admins actively "shadow banning" Conservatives and thus preventing people from seeing the content they put out. No word on whether or not anyone is shadow banning liberals. I'm not holding my breath on that, though.

Now, those being my two cents on the actual issue, there is some good news. Apparnetly there is a page that informs its readers just how to avoid missing posts you would like to see that come up on Facebook. Here's the link to it if you want to check for yourself.

That page will come in handy, but it doesn't change the fact that my account unfollowed the page without my knowledge, or even that the Chicks themselves had their own likes taken away FROM THEIR OWN BLOODY PAGE thanks to the new algorithm.

Here's hoping that Zuckerberg either feels the pressure and backs off, or that enough Conservatives are on Facebook to make this a moot issue. Either outcome would be perfectly all right with me.

Monday, November 28, 2016

How do you Grieve for Someone you Never Knew?

I did not expect this to ever be the subject of a blog post for me. I never expected to tell the story I'm about to tell. I'm not even sure I can get the words out the way I actually want to because I have literally never dealt with a situation like the one that this post is about. I didn't even know the torrent of emotions I'm feeling now existed before hearing the news that brought it about. But I need to get this off my chest so that I'm not letting my responsibilities fall by the wayside due to grief.

I suppose I should start at the beginning. Seven years ago, my wife and I had the privilege of hearing that a married couple we were friends with had recently become pregnant with what we would learn later was a baby girl. That baby girl has been a part of my honorary family since the day she came into the world, and my wife and I love her as if she were one of our own. She is a bright spot to any day, good or bad, and always manages to cheer me when I'm feeling down.

Recently, we heard that this couple was pregnant once more, and all of us were feeling a kaleidoscopic array of emotions from nervousness to incredulity to surprise to anticipation. We didn't know how far along the mother was at this point, but it didn't matter. The family was growing. In our minds we began, subconsciously and consciously, considering what this would mean in regards to changes to our lives. I was concerned because of the financial changes that they would experience with another child, but I was also excited. I was going to be an uncle again. How could I not look forward to that?

Sadly, that will not come to pass. My wife and I learned mere minutes ago as of this writing that our expectant mother friend has recently miscarried, and now what was once an atmosphere of crackling anticipation is now a cloud of grief and loss that threatens to overwhelm me even as I write. Throughout all this, I've been asking a question and have yet to come up with an answer:

How do you grieve for someone you never knew?

My little niece/nephew (I don't know which it would have been.) will not be a part of our or her parents' lives, and a hole is now left in my heart where that child would have taken their rightful place as a member of my extended family. I am very protective of everyone I consider family and would do whatever I could to help them in any situation for no other reason than because they're family, but I find myself powerless in the face of this tragedy. I can do nothing. There is no magic set of words or actions that can restore this child to life and allow her to find her way in the world. There is no rules committee to petition or argue with to change the outcome of these events. There is literally nothing I can do to fix this, yet that is the only instinct I feel at the moment. There should be something for me to do to help, but there is nothing. No matter what words I offer or actions I take, this innocent child will still be dead, and her mother will still be overcome with grief and loss that will never fully go away.

This angers me. I hate it when I can do nothing to help people that clearly need it. I can't even point them in the direction of someone who CAN help them, because I don't know who can help in this situation. Beyond prayer, there is nothing that can even ease the pain of losing a family member, even (or perhaps especially) one you never even had the chance to meet. To see grow and experience life for themselves. The whole thing is a mass of wasted potential and opportunity and to me there is no greater tragedy than that.

I don't know what else I can say to this. There are just no words.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Every Little Thing She Does

My wife and I recently were treated to a movie by my mother as an early Christmas gift, and we chose to see the new Harry Potter spin-off film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The story involves the fictional author of a the required magical textbook of the same name. Newt Scamander, the author in question, travels by ship from England to New York City in the years following The Great War to research his book and eventually publish it.

I was a fan of Harry Potter from the moment I first heard Hedwig's Theme in the movie theater the Christmas of the original film's release. Once I saw that movie and was introduced to the wizarding world, I made every effort I could to find and finish the other books in the series that were published at the time (which meant, of course, that the second and third novels were all I had to go on.) I read both of those in one night each. Never before or since has a novel series held such rapt attention for me, and the same has held true for the new spin off film, which reports say will spawn a bevy of its own sequels, and tell the story of how Albus Dumbledore defeated Gellart Grindlewald in a wand duel that shook the world.

It's very rare that a continuation of a series can evoke the same sense of wonder and excitement as its parent series, but Rowling succeeded here, offering up an entirely new perspective on a comfortably familiar universe, and showing us the American side of the same world inhabited by The Boy Who Lived.

The movie takes place shortly after the end of World War I, and as mentioned above details the adventure of Newt Scamander through New York City to retrieve his lost menageary of creatures that have escaped from his magical carrying case. Along the way he befriends a disgraced magical law enforcement officer, a would be entrepreneur and "No-Maj" (Muggle) named Kowalski, and a legilemense who happens to be the sister of the aforementioned law officer. Along the way they are pursued by an anti-magic group called the Second Salemers, as well as magical law enforcement when things go wrong for the group.

The film was a rollicking adventure of excitement and wonder, just like the previous films and gave an entirely new perspective on the wizarding world. So much story telling potential was revealed by not focusing on a boarding school and its students, and set my mind ablaze with possibilities regarding the rest of Rowling's creation. I am waiting with bated breath to see the sequel.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Everyone is the Hero of Their Own Story

I am so over the Hamilton incident. For those of you who read this and haven't heard, VP Elect Mike Pence was booed and jeered at during and after a performance of the hit Broadway musical Hamilton while out for a night at the theater in New York City. After the show, the cast (who all happen to be Hillary supporters, incidentally) delivered a statement to the VP elect that reads as follows, from fortune.com:

“We have a message for you, sir. We hope that you will hear us out,” he said. “Vice President-elect Pence, we welcome you, and we truly thank you for joining us here at Hamilton: An American Musical. We really do. We, sir, we are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir. But we truly hope this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us, all of us. … We truly thank you for sharing this show — this wonderful American story told by a diverse group of men, women, of different colors, creeds, and orientations.”

The actor in question, Brandon Victor Dixon, delivered the statement to raucous applause from the audience. I can only presume that, this being New York City and based on that reaction, the audience had a majority of Hillary supporters there that night. That's nothing more than an educated guess, but the evidence is there. I have a special problem with specific part of this statement, however. Specifically this part:

We, sir, we are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir. But we truly hope this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us, all of us.

Do you notice what he said there? The "diverse America" that was "alarmed and anxious" that Mike Pence and Donald Trump would not work to protect the civil rights of all Americans. I don't seem to recall the Left questioning the last administration about whether or not they would work to ensure the rights of "all Americans" who are a part of this "diverse America" of which Dixon was speaking. My question is this: Why is the left anxious and alarmed when a Republican is in office, but not when a Democrat is in office? 

I cannot for the life of me understand why the political left in this country constantly paints Conservatives as the villain. Or, at least, that was the case until I remembered an old adage about storytelling that I heard several years ago. Namely, everyone is the hero of their own story. We constantly hear about how the Democrats are the party of the people and how they value the working class. They see themselves as heroes. But how are heroes defined? Put simply, heroes are defined by their villains. Every good hero is defined by their villains. Iron Man has The Mandarin and others like Crimson Dynamo and Justin Hammer. Captain America has the likes of Red Skull, Baron Zemo, and Arnim Zola. The Hulk has the The Leader and the Abomination, and modern liberals have modern Conservatives.

I've been actively following political news since 2008, when Barack Obama's administration took power from George W. Bush. What I remember of that time is a turbulent eight years full of far left political shenanigans, chicanery, and trickery in an attempt to pass every pet project the Democrats had in development for decades. Universal Health Care, amnesty for illegal immigrants, the whole shebang. And they proceeded to attack it with gusto for two years. Up until the first Big Red Wave of 2010. During that time, and for the next six years afterwards, I heard the word "racist" more than at any other time in my life, and I heard it most often in reference to Conservatives, coming from the mouths of loud and proud liberals. Why was this, I continually asked myself. I agonized over this question for eight years until recently, when the simple answer hit me like a ton of bricks: Democrats see themselves as heroes of the working class, but every hero needs a villain. And to liberals, those villains are conservatives. Don't believe me? Check out a few of these quotes from the last administration's biggest supporters:

Starting first with Jay Rockefeller, now-retired Democratic Senator from West Virginia in 2014:
Opposition to Obamacare is because people made up their mind they don’t like President Obama because of his color … or something of that sort.

The video of said quote can be found here.

Or how about this gem:

"This is about hating a black man. This is racism, straight up..."

-Jeneane Garofalo in 2010, in regards to the then-emerging TEA Party protests against Obamacare,

And in accordance with the rule of three, here's this final gem:

“We saw in droves, you know, the Latino community moving over to the Democratic Party largely because of the tone. You have even Republicans in the Republican Party who are Latino just disgusted with the tone. These guys have to be very, very careful. The other thing that these guys know is that those, you know, crazy crackers on the right, like if they art with their very hateful language, that is going to kill them in the same way that they learned at their little retreat that let’s not talk about rape.”

Saturday, November 19, 2016

VP Elect Mike Pence Booed and Lectured at Hamilton Performance

The Chicks on the Right have reported a story recently about Vice President Elect Mike Pence being jeered and booed while attempting to enjoy a performance of the smash Broadway musical Hamilton. According to their newest writer, Kimber, Pence was booed and jeered by most of the audience and cheered by others throughout the performance. According to her sources, links to which can be found here, during the reprise of "You'll be Back" the actors were forced to pause the song several times because of the unruly behavior of the audience. To top things off, at the end of the show, the actors themselves got in on the act of singling out the Vice President Elect by proceeding to politely lecture Pence about how to do the job for which he was elected. Here's the video:



The actor who spoke, for his part, was polite, but when reading between the lines, it's obviously something of a finger wagging lecture he's giving Pence. But, this isn't a question of politics. This, for me, is more about theater etiquette than anything else.

I have been an avid theater goer and community theater actor since 1999, when my mother and I saw a high school production of Hello, Dolly my Freshman year. That was when the seed my mother planted in me as a child through constant lecturing about Shakespeare began to grow into a real passion for the stage, and three years later I would take the stage as Johnathon Brewster in a production of Arsenic and Old Lace. It is for this reason that I'm about to say the things that follow:

This was horrible theater etiquette, on both the part of the audience and the actors. People do not go to see a Broadway play in order to be singled out and lectured about how to do their jobs, and they certainly don't go to be sneered at or jeered by the rest of the audience. Mike Pence, whatever his political or personal opinions about things, is just as American as anyone else in that theater, and I am more than willing to bet that nobody in that theater paid to be lectured like a five-year-old with his hand in the cookie jar. Whatever your political opinions, NO ONE deserves to be treated like that.

Why did the actors feel the need to do this, exactly? I really want to know. The Vice President's function in government is limited to stepping in if the president becomes incapacitated to the point where he can't perform his duties as President of the United States. Other than that, Pence has the completely optional job of presiding over the Senate, but that job is only necessary when the body is deadlocked and a tie needs to be broken. With the Republican's majority in Congress being what it is, I don't see the need for him to break very many ties in the near future. 

I can guess why the audience members decided to boo him, though. New York is heavily liberal, thanks to New York City housing the majority of the state's population, and that population being a left-leaning collection of individuals. Hillary Clinton won New York in the election as well, and was Senator of New York for a while. It makes sense that she would have a lot of supporters there. This does not, however, make their behavior any less childish or infantile. I can imagine that if it had been Joe Biden in the audience, and the actors had decided to lecture HIM about it, people would be u pin arms. There would be calls of "disrespect" and "unprofessional behavior" from sea to shining sea and back again. And rightly so. This kind of behavior is not acceptable no matter who your VP or President is, and this audience and those actors really should have known better. Especially the actors. 

That said, I'm still hoping to one day be able to afford to see Phantom on Broadway one of these days.

Friday, November 18, 2016

President Elect Trump to Officially Announce Cabinet Appointments Friday

There has, understandably, been a lot of talk about President Elect Donald Trump's cabinet picks over the last few days. Rumors abound about who will take what position, and how soon they'll take it. thus far, only three appointments are reasonably certain at this point: Attorney General, National Security Advisor, and CIA Director. Respectfully, the three men most likely to be chosen for these positions are: Senator Jeff Sessions, Lt. General Michael T. Flynn, and Mike Pompeo.

Senator Sessions's appointment is already causing the Democrats to cry "RAAAAACIST!" due to some allegations made by then-Senator Joe Biden in the eighties under Ronald Reagan's tenure as Chief Executive. The New York Times's article on the subject is refreshingly neutral in tone, though they do make a big deal about allegations presented during Sessions's ill-fated confirmation hearings by the Judiciary Committee about supposedly calling a black man "boy" and referring to the NAACP and other civil rights groups as un-American. This humble blogger has not found any proof regarding the allegations being true or not, so innocent till proven guilty in my book. Even if he did say such things, though, it doesn't mean he isn't a good pick for the job of AG. The website ontheissues.com states that Sessions has a 0% rating by NARAL and 20% by the ACLU, indicating that he won't be a friend of theirs when and if he accepts the position. So far so good.

I already voiced my approval of Michale Flynn as National Security Advisor based on his credentials here.

Which leaves Congressman Mike Pompeo. Pompeo has been offered the post of CIA director by President Elect Trump, as mentioned above. Let's see how he measures up. According to ontheissues.com:

Click here for 4 full quotes on Homeland Security OR background on Homeland Security.
  • Commit to strong national defense. (Nov 2010)
  • Voted YES on extending the PATRIOT Act's roving wiretaps. (Feb 2011)
  • Sponsored opposing the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty. (Mar 2013)
  • No transfers of Gitmo prisoners to US or abroad. (Jan 2015)
There seems to be a running theme with the three men, in that their immigration stances all run pretty close together in terms of similarity. In this humble blogger's opinion, The Donald is shaping up his administration so that it'll be easier to build the wall.