Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Ignoring reality for fun and profit?

Although LinkedIn is a social networking site focused on professional networking and career development, it has over the course of the last five years become almost as politicized as Facebook and Twitter, with news stories used as cudgels in support of progressive or conservative agendas.

I know, for example, of an advertising copywriter whose "award-winning" B2B (business-to-business) content seems to spend most of its time hiding behind anti-Trump diatribes that a handful of other LinkedIn users applaud as enthusiastically as trained seals. This copywriter shall remain nameless here, but -- like MSNBC host Rachel Maddow -- he's angry at the frequent White House Press Briefings in our covid-19 world because (he says) they give President Trump too sturdy and high-profile a platform from which to stoke "false hope" and launch a continuing volley of "lies."

Anyone not suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome might be forgiven for wanting examples of that execrable behavior, and Brave Sir Robin (not his name) does not disappoint. Unfortunately, however, his examples don't make the damning case that he wishes they did, likely because they come from too often from CNN or MSNBC.

Case in point: About a week ago, this LinkedIn denizen claimed it was deceptive for the president to say he was dispatching a U.S. Navy hospital ship to New York City. According to this armchair quarterback, the Navy's hospital ships "are being retrofitted and don't even have crews."

It didn't matter to him that New York's Democrat governor had echoed the president's words, because he said his skepticism was based on unspecified reporting by "The AP, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times."

Following President Trump's lead, Governor Andrew Cuomo had recently said that a hospital ship would be in New York Harbor by mid-April. The good news at the end of March is that it's already there.

The USNS Mercy arrived in Los Angeles on March 27, and the USNS Comfort arrived in New York City on March 30. In case it matters, I didn't get either of those facts from Fox News.

Let's hope for the sake of whatever positive reputation national news outlets still have that their reporting was filtered clumsily through worst-case scenarios in some consumers' heads, because even less-than-heroic reporting since the screed that inspired these thoughts vindicates the president.

Ever faithful to mendacious narratives of Trumpian incompetence that it helps create, the New York Times now observes that the converted supertanker its reporters can presumably see is "not made to contain the coronavirus."

Oof. This rhetorical sleight-of-hand downplays the important fact that the mission of both hospital ships was never described that way by the president or his pandemic response team. The ships are in port to support medical facilities in the major metropolitan areas close to where they're anchored. They are, in other words, strategic assets, rapidly and intelligently deployed by a president who habitually acts more decisively than his capricious and tone-deaf critics or Machiavellian enemies would prefer.

This is not to say that the president is always right. As Daniel Flynn of American Spectator mused, "Who else did not vote for $5 trillion deficits, a Monopoly-money debasement of the currency, and government spending exceeding anything in Barack Obama's wildest dreams when they cast ballots for Donald Trump?"

But if the hospital ships didn't even have crews a week ago (a self-evidently doubtful assertion, given where the vessels are now and how they got there), then Trump's critics (Brave Sir Robin among them) are tacitly admitting that he was either telling the truth or motivating the U.S. Navy to perform logistical miracles. One might even embrace the healing power of "and" here. Either outcome seems good to me.

Given the way it tears heedlessly at our national fabric by sounding alarms about the orange man's wolf du jour on the flimsiest of pretexts, Trump Derangement Syndrome is every bit as problematic as the Wuhan coronavirus. On the other hand, there may be an upside to any mental condition robust enough to drive even the most graspingly ambitious Democrats from fixating on entirely farcical charges of collusion, obstruction, and impeachment to paying at least lip service to prayer.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Their duet will make your day

Mat and Savanna Shaw bring the beauty and the inspiration:

Well done, you two. And thank you!

Friday, March 20, 2020

Dennis Prager and The Princess Bride

"Life is pain, highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something."

That's a line from the Dread Pirate Roberts (per William Goldman's wonderful script), but Dennis Prager would agree, and this fireside chat makes for thought-provoking watching and listening.

Monday, March 16, 2020

A reminder from Mr. Lewis

In one way, we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb. “How are we to live in an atomic age?” I am tempted to reply: “Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.”

In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors—anesthetics; but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.

-- C.S. Lewis

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

The wisdom of a wizard

Part of a dialog between pupil and teacher, before Hogwart's was a gleam in J.K. Rowling's eye:

"Sir, all these charms are much the same; knowing one, you know them all. And as soon as the spell-weaving ceases, the illusion vanishes. Now if I make a pebble into a diamond" -- and he did so with a word and a flick of his wrist -- "what must I do to make that diamond remain diamond? How is the changing-spell locked, and made to last?"

The Master Hand looked at the jewel that glittered on Ged's palm, bright as the prize of a dragon's hoard. The old Master murmured one word, 'Tolk,' and there lay the pebble, no jewel but a rough grey bit of rock. The Master took it and held it out on his own hand."This is a rock; tolk in the True Speech," he said, looking mildly up at Ged now. "A bit of the stone of which Roke Isle is made, a little bit of the dry land on which men live. It is itself. It is part of the world. By the Illusion-Change you can make it look like a diamond -- or a flower or a fly or an eye or a flame --" The rock flickered from shape to shape as he named them, and returned to rock. "But this is mere seeming. Illusion fools the beholder's senses; it makes him see and hear and feel that the thing is changed. But it does not change the thing. To change this rock into a jewel, you must change its true name. And to do that, my son, even to so small a scrap of the world, is to change the world. It can be done. Indeed it can be done. It is the art of the Master Changer, and you will learn it, when you are ready to learn it. But you must not change one thing, one pebble, one grain of sand, until you know what good and evil will follow on that act. The world is in balance, in Equilibrium. A wizard's power of Changing and of Summoning can shake the balance of the world. It is dangerous, that power. It is most perilous. It must follow knowledge, and serve need. To light a candle is to cast a shadow..."

(From A Wizard of Earthsea, by Ursula K. LeGuin)