Stream of thoughts

The Sentinel-Record - - VIEWPOINTS - Arkansas Demo­crat-Gazette Bradley R. Gitz Free­lance colum­nist Bradley R. Gitz, who lives and teaches in Batesville, re­ceived his Ph.D. in po­lit­i­cal sci­ence from the Univer­sity of Illi­nois.

Some weeks there are too many top­ics to re­strict a col­umn to just one and/or a back­log of opin­ions that needs to be cleared; hence the fol­low­ing:

• The most an­noy­ing part of our de­bate over guns is David Hogg, who has been granted or­a­cle sta­tus by the lib­eral me­dia only be­cause of his will­ing­ness to spout anti-gun, anti-NRA gib­ber­ish con­sis­tent with their agenda.

But gib­ber­ish is still gib­ber­ish, how­ever self-righ­teously ex­pressed. And some­one doesn’t ac­quire moral su­pe­ri­or­ity or in­su­la­tion from crit­i­cism just be­cause they sur­vived a tragedy.

As Derek Hunter put it, “A good rule of thumb in pol­i­tics is to ig­nore the mus­ings of any­one who hasn’t com­pleted pu­berty.”

• The NFL has a new “tar­get­ing rule” that isn’t sit­ting well with many of its play­ers, based on the claim of Com­mis­sioner Roger Good­ell that the hel­met should never be “used as a weapon”; which begs the ques­tion of how you can play foot­ball with­out ever low­er­ing your head (a nat­u­ral re­ac­tion when you are about to crash into some­thing or be crashed into).

A bet­ter so­lu­tion, be­fore we end up with flag foot­ball — get rid of the hel­mets al­to­gether.

There was, af­ter all, a time when the game was played with­out them.

• The re­sort to eu­phemism is al­ways in the ser­vice of dis­hon­esty and men­dac­ity, most re­cently in the ten­dency of lib­eral pun­dits and politi­cians to use the phrase “un­doc­u­mented per­sons” when re­fer­ring to peo­ple who are in this coun­try il­le­gally.

So does “un­doc­u­mented” mean that they sim­ply woke up one day and no­ticed their doc­u­ments had gone miss­ing? And that they will even­tu­ally find them and clear up the mis­un­der­stand­ing?

Is it re­ally that hard to just say “il­le­gal alien?” Has that term now be­come po­lit­i­cally in­cor­rect be­cause it’s too ac­cu­rate?

• Per­haps the sil­li­est phrase in our pub­lic dis­course is “Twit­ter erupts.”

Why should any­one care? Twit­ter isn’t the real world or re­motely rep­re­sen­ta­tive of opin­ions in it. Most peo­ple, mean­ing most nor­mal, well-ad­justed peo­ple with real lives, have never used Twit­ter be­cause they have bet­ter things to do.

Sel­dom has tech­nol­ogy so ob­vi­ously con­trib­uted to shrill im­be­cil­ity.

• What’s not to like about school­child­ren stag­ing walk­outs as a form of po­lit­i­cal protest? Af­ter all, the kids get to play hooky, the teach­ers get a break, and ev­ery­body gets to pat them­selves on the back for rais­ing con­scious­ness about this or that, even if they re­ally didn’t and the en­tire ex­er­cise con­sisted of point­less grand­stand­ing.

So we are look­ing for­ward to next year’s walk­outs over the fail­ure to pro­vide prop­erly ven­ti­lated dog­houses or health warn­ing la­bels on those 32-ounce so­das at the mul­ti­plex. Or maybe just the in­jus­tice of home­work, grades, and the ACT.

• One of the fun­ni­est but iron­i­cally re­veal­ing jux­ta­po­si­tions of head­lines was on RealClearPol­i­tics a cou­ple of days af­ter this year’s Os­cars cer­e­mony.

The top head­line said “The 10 most po­lit­i­cal mo­ments from this year’s Os­cars.” The one be­neath said “Os­cars score low­est rat­ings ever.”

Obliv­i­ous­ness is the dis­tin­guish­ing qual­ity of con­tem­po­rary left­ism.

• One of the more pe­cu­liar re­search sur­veys in re­cent mem­ory came from the oth­er­wise re­li­able folks at the Pew Re­search Cen­ter. The sur­vey rep­re­sented an at­tempt to as­sess the level of sup­port among col­lege stu­dents for “free speech” ver­sus “in­clu­sion.”

But con­trary to what Pew sug­gests, there is no con­flict be­tween such val­ues, es­pe­cially when one con­sid­ers that any his­tor­i­cal ef­fort to make our so­ci­ety more in­clu­sive, from the civil rights move­ment and women’s rights up through same-sex mar­riage, de­pended upon the First Amend­ment and the free­dom of speech it guar­an­tees. None of those move­ments would have got­ten off the ground with­out it.

• How won­der­ful it would be to have a pres­i­dent like Calvin Coolidge again, a man with a modest (and thus con­sti­tu­tion­ally ap­pro­pri­ate) view of the du­ties of the pres­i­dency, who was com­mit­ted to rein­ing in fed­eral spend­ing and keep­ing the bud­get bal­anced on the as­sump­tion that Amer­i­cans could tend to their own busi­ness if gov­ern­ment didn’t screw it up.

To have, in other words, “Silent Cal” in­stead of “Tweet­ing Don­ald”; a plain old bor­ing pres­i­dency rather than a re­al­ity tele­vi­sion version of one.

• China’s edge in any trade war is its au­thor­i­tar­ian sys­tem: There will ob­vi­ously be far less pub­lic pres­sure for China’s pres­i­dent for life (Xi Jin­ping) to cave than for an Amer­i­can pres­i­dent hop­ing to be re-elected to a sec­ond term in two years.

Trade wars are al­ways a bad idea, es­pe­cially if the foe is a sys­tem whose lead­ers don’t care about their peo­ple be­cause those peo­ple have no means of ex­press­ing griev­ances.

• Don­ald Trump doesn’t read books, or, ap­par­ently, much of any­thing. Let that slosh around the mind for a bit: a po­lit­i­cal leader so con­fi­dent of his own ge­nius that he doesn’t need to read or lis­ten to the ad­vice of peo­ple who do, and doesn’t know any­thing be­cause he doesn’t think he has to.

So does this mean that Trump’s most ar­dent ad­mir­ers don’t read ei­ther? That he has the “we don’t need any stinkin’ books” core of the elec­torate sewn up?

A lot can hap­pen, most of it bad, when the com­man­der-in-chief reads less than your typ­i­cal 6-year old.

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