Category: T.R. Clancy

Robert Mueller Voted ‘Most Popular’


Polls reported last week apparently show that Robert Mueller is more popular than Donald Trump.  According to one poll conducted for CNN, the 50% who approve of Mueller’s handling of his collusion investigation “outpaces President Donald Trump’s approval rating on the matter by 20 points.”  A poll of 600 likely voters conducted for the Detroit News and WDIV-TV found 63% support for the Mueller investigation, and 46% “strongly” favoring it, “despite Trump’s frequent criticism of the inquiry as a tainted ‘witch hunt.’”   Between both polls, support for impeachment ranges from 41 to 47%.  The percentage who share Trump’s view that the probe is tainted is in the low 30s.  Not surprisingly, out of “the 41 percent of voters who said Trump should be impeached, the greatest support was among Democratic voters and those who lean Democratic.” 

The News survey also shows a “bloc” of Michigan voters who agree that the “media are the enemy of the people,” tracking “a nationwide trend in which people are going to media sources that align with their own beliefs, a phenomenon that is escalating with the presidency of Donald Trump.” 

More accurately, what’s been “escalating” since Trump’s election (and in journalese that particular verb connotes a growing evil: e.g., tensions escalate, or wars and arms races escalate) — is awareness among Americans of the extent of biased mainstream reporting routinely distorting the facts, or outright lying, to further the progressive agenda.

Part of the media’s message in spotlighting these surveys is that most Americans think the Mueller investigation is a good thing, and almost half the country agrees with Maxine Waters and half of 2018’s Democrat candidates that impeaching Trump would also be a good thing.  The rest of the message is that the minority of voters who think otherwise — people who view “the media as dangerous to democracy” — only think that way because they’re watching Fox News.  Richard Czuba, whose Glengariff Group. Inc, conducted the Detroit News poll, explains that “FOX News is having a very unusual disproportionate effect among Republican voters… It really is telling.”

As proof, Czuba’s poll shows that “fifty-five percent of respondents who said Fox News is their primary source of news said they think the media are the enemy of the people, compared with 31 percent for consumers of local television, 5 percent for CNN or MSNBC, 27 percent for radio and 14.5 percent for newspapers.”  Personally, I’m more impressed with the 45% of Fox viewers who wouldn’t agree to the loaded question that all the media (as opposed to those pushing fake news) are the enemy of the people, than I am with the 95% of CNN and MSNBC viewers who never doubt anything Don Lemon or Rachel Maddow tells them. 

Obviously, Fox News influences a segment of voters by broadcasting news and opinions that won’t be heard on CNN, MSNBC, or the rest of the mainstream media; but by what standard is that either unusual or disproportionate?  Those other outlets also influence a vast segment of voters; the CNN survey registered 61% of Americans who think the Russian investigation is “a serious matter” — a point of view well flogged in the mainstream media.  The News survey shows that “voters whose primary source of news is something other than FOX (newspapers, radio, network television, local TV, CNN or MSNBC) overwhelmingly declared the [Mueller] probe ‘fair.’”  Because Czuba’s poll “shows wide and deep support among everyone but Republicans for the Mueller investigation,” he thinks he has proved something his poll hasn’t proved at all: that Republicans are misinformed and wrong, while everyone else is well-informed and right

Opinion polls measure opinions, not facts.  But do these majorities have the facts?  Take the matter of impeachment.  Legal experts disagree on what’s required to impeach a president, but none agrees with Maxine Waters that Trump is subject to impeachment just for the high crime of beating Hillary.  CNN’s poll reflects that support for impeachment has risen since June, following Paul Manafort’s conviction on tax and bank fraud charges unrelated to the Trump campaign, and former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s guilty pleas to tax evasion, fraud, and “campaign finance violations” for paying hush money to Stormy Daniels at Trump’s direction.  Even if Trump did direct it, any campaign violations are a far cry from being high crimes, and there’s doubt they were even crimes at all.  Yet, after those convictions, CNN’s survey showed 47% of polled Americans said Trump “ought to be impeached and removed from office, and among those who say Trump did direct Cohen to make the payment to Daniels, 69% say he ought to be impeached.”  A USA Today poll showed “[a] whopping 91% of respondents whose most trusted network is MSNBC and 83% of those surveyed who chose CNN said the plea deal raised serious questions about Trump’s behavior.”  Raising “serious questions” is a weasel phrase that can be made to suggest anything, and in this context it’s designed to suggest Cohen’s plea deal somehow justifies tearing the country apart with impeachment proceedings.

Boiled down, this all means that those choosing mainstream media for news have concluded (or more accurately, come to “feel”) that Mueller convicting these two Trump associates proves that Trump is guilty of an impeachable offense.  To put it nicely, this conclusion doesn’t reflect opinions that are rooted in reality.  Even the CNN pollsters acknowledge that many of those responding are merely voicing “their personal desire for a new president more than an evidence-based assessment of whether he could be impeached.”  The anti-Trumpers who’ve been obsessed, since Election Night 2016, with getting rid of this guy by any means necessary, couldn’t care less about evidence-based assessments: they just want what they want.  Is it any wonder they turn to the establishment media, which day after day reliably communicates that, regardless of evidence, they want the same thing?

“Good Research is Not Partisan/Good Research is Accurate”. So says pollster Richard Czuba’s website.  And as far as they count voter opinions (or at least what voters tell them), these polls may be accurate.  But the underlying assumption — that the majority of voters who wisely get their information from progressive news outlets are empirically correct about Mueller and impeachment — has no factual basis at all.   We’re being asked to accept that the majority who “are not buying the president’s argument” that the investigation is rigged have the correct opinion just because there are 20% more of them than of us.

Why can’t the same data be read to say that the 67% who trust Mueller have been disproportionately influenced by CNN and Chris Matthews, in contrast to a significant remnant of thoughtful Americans who’ve done their homework and learned that the entire Russia probe was concocted out of bias, lies, fraud, and abuse of power?  As much as it still rankles the left, Lincoln’s counsel that you can’t fool all of the people all of the time still holds up.  And the truth doesn’t ask for a show of hands.

T.R. Clancy looks at the world from Dearborn, Michigan.  You can email him at trclancy@yahoo.com.

Polls reported last week apparently show that Robert Mueller is more popular than Donald Trump.  According to one poll conducted for CNN, the 50% who approve of Mueller’s handling of his collusion investigation “outpaces President Donald Trump’s approval rating on the matter by 20 points.”  A poll of 600 likely voters conducted for the Detroit News and WDIV-TV found 63% support for the Mueller investigation, and 46% “strongly” favoring it, “despite Trump’s frequent criticism of the inquiry as a tainted ‘witch hunt.’”   Between both polls, support for impeachment ranges from 41 to 47%.  The percentage who share Trump’s view that the probe is tainted is in the low 30s.  Not surprisingly, out of “the 41 percent of voters who said Trump should be impeached, the greatest support was among Democratic voters and those who lean Democratic.” 

The News survey also shows a “bloc” of Michigan voters who agree that the “media are the enemy of the people,” tracking “a nationwide trend in which people are going to media sources that align with their own beliefs, a phenomenon that is escalating with the presidency of Donald Trump.” 

More accurately, what’s been “escalating” since Trump’s election (and in journalese that particular verb connotes a growing evil: e.g., tensions escalate, or wars and arms races escalate) — is awareness among Americans of the extent of biased mainstream reporting routinely distorting the facts, or outright lying, to further the progressive agenda.

Part of the media’s message in spotlighting these surveys is that most Americans think the Mueller investigation is a good thing, and almost half the country agrees with Maxine Waters and half of 2018’s Democrat candidates that impeaching Trump would also be a good thing.  The rest of the message is that the minority of voters who think otherwise — people who view “the media as dangerous to democracy” — only think that way because they’re watching Fox News.  Richard Czuba, whose Glengariff Group. Inc, conducted the Detroit News poll, explains that “FOX News is having a very unusual disproportionate effect among Republican voters… It really is telling.”

As proof, Czuba’s poll shows that “fifty-five percent of respondents who said Fox News is their primary source of news said they think the media are the enemy of the people, compared with 31 percent for consumers of local television, 5 percent for CNN or MSNBC, 27 percent for radio and 14.5 percent for newspapers.”  Personally, I’m more impressed with the 45% of Fox viewers who wouldn’t agree to the loaded question that all the media (as opposed to those pushing fake news) are the enemy of the people, than I am with the 95% of CNN and MSNBC viewers who never doubt anything Don Lemon or Rachel Maddow tells them. 

Obviously, Fox News influences a segment of voters by broadcasting news and opinions that won’t be heard on CNN, MSNBC, or the rest of the mainstream media; but by what standard is that either unusual or disproportionate?  Those other outlets also influence a vast segment of voters; the CNN survey registered 61% of Americans who think the Russian investigation is “a serious matter” — a point of view well flogged in the mainstream media.  The News survey shows that “voters whose primary source of news is something other than FOX (newspapers, radio, network television, local TV, CNN or MSNBC) overwhelmingly declared the [Mueller] probe ‘fair.’”  Because Czuba’s poll “shows wide and deep support among everyone but Republicans for the Mueller investigation,” he thinks he has proved something his poll hasn’t proved at all: that Republicans are misinformed and wrong, while everyone else is well-informed and right

Opinion polls measure opinions, not facts.  But do these majorities have the facts?  Take the matter of impeachment.  Legal experts disagree on what’s required to impeach a president, but none agrees with Maxine Waters that Trump is subject to impeachment just for the high crime of beating Hillary.  CNN’s poll reflects that support for impeachment has risen since June, following Paul Manafort’s conviction on tax and bank fraud charges unrelated to the Trump campaign, and former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s guilty pleas to tax evasion, fraud, and “campaign finance violations” for paying hush money to Stormy Daniels at Trump’s direction.  Even if Trump did direct it, any campaign violations are a far cry from being high crimes, and there’s doubt they were even crimes at all.  Yet, after those convictions, CNN’s survey showed 47% of polled Americans said Trump “ought to be impeached and removed from office, and among those who say Trump did direct Cohen to make the payment to Daniels, 69% say he ought to be impeached.”  A USA Today poll showed “[a] whopping 91% of respondents whose most trusted network is MSNBC and 83% of those surveyed who chose CNN said the plea deal raised serious questions about Trump’s behavior.”  Raising “serious questions” is a weasel phrase that can be made to suggest anything, and in this context it’s designed to suggest Cohen’s plea deal somehow justifies tearing the country apart with impeachment proceedings.

Boiled down, this all means that those choosing mainstream media for news have concluded (or more accurately, come to “feel”) that Mueller convicting these two Trump associates proves that Trump is guilty of an impeachable offense.  To put it nicely, this conclusion doesn’t reflect opinions that are rooted in reality.  Even the CNN pollsters acknowledge that many of those responding are merely voicing “their personal desire for a new president more than an evidence-based assessment of whether he could be impeached.”  The anti-Trumpers who’ve been obsessed, since Election Night 2016, with getting rid of this guy by any means necessary, couldn’t care less about evidence-based assessments: they just want what they want.  Is it any wonder they turn to the establishment media, which day after day reliably communicates that, regardless of evidence, they want the same thing?

“Good Research is Not Partisan/Good Research is Accurate”. So says pollster Richard Czuba’s website.  And as far as they count voter opinions (or at least what voters tell them), these polls may be accurate.  But the underlying assumption — that the majority of voters who wisely get their information from progressive news outlets are empirically correct about Mueller and impeachment — has no factual basis at all.   We’re being asked to accept that the majority who “are not buying the president’s argument” that the investigation is rigged have the correct opinion just because there are 20% more of them than of us.

Why can’t the same data be read to say that the 67% who trust Mueller have been disproportionately influenced by CNN and Chris Matthews, in contrast to a significant remnant of thoughtful Americans who’ve done their homework and learned that the entire Russia probe was concocted out of bias, lies, fraud, and abuse of power?  As much as it still rankles the left, Lincoln’s counsel that you can’t fool all of the people all of the time still holds up.  And the truth doesn’t ask for a show of hands.

T.R. Clancy looks at the world from Dearborn, Michigan.  You can email him at trclancy@yahoo.com.



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No, You Can't Get an 'Amen'


Last Friday, entertainers, activists, and politicians gathered in a Detroit church to remember Aretha Franklin at a funeral lasting more than eight hours.  Bill Clinton was there along with Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Al Sharpton, Louis Farrakhan, Jesse Jackson, and Maxine Waters, lots of others, and the media.  The media knew they had all the ingredients for a #Resistance meeting (which is exactly what The New Yorker called the next day’s memorial service for Senator John McCain) – that is, they had leftists, microphones, and TV cameras.  They couldn’t wait for the scathing attacks on Donald Trump.

None of the reported insults was noteworthy.  Take this silly example from Michael Eric Dyson, possibly plagiarized from Daffy Duck: “You lugubrious leech, you dopey doppelgänger of deceit and deviance, you lethal liar, you dimwitted dictator, you foolish fascist.”  No one would allow Maxine Waters anywhere near a microphone, so the best she could manage was a “Wakanda” salute.  Ho-hum. 

But then Reverend Jasper Williams, Jr. gave his eulogy (worth seeing in its entirety, at 8:39 in this video of the entire service).  That’s when the headline became “Dog Bites Man.”  In 1984, Williams had delivered the eulogy for Ms. Franklin’s father, Reverend C.L. Franklin, and she recently asked Williams to deliver hers.  After a tribute to Aretha Franklin’s title as “Queen of Soul,” Williams went on to explain what the Bible means by “soul” and then asked the crowd, “Have you lost your soul?  If we’re truthful, honest, and fair, we have to say black America has lost its soul. … As I look in your house, there are no fathers in the home no more.”

He went on to say that “as proud, beautiful and fine as our black women are, one thing a black woman cannot do, a black woman cannot raise a black boy to be a man.  She can’t do that.  She can’t do that.”  Citing statistics on black-on-black murders, Williams spurned the Black Lives Matter movement:

It amazes me how it is when the police kills one of us we’re ready to protest, march, destroy innocent property.  We’re ready to loot, steal whatever we want, but when we kill 100 of us, nobody says anything, nobody does anything.

He implored Black America to “come home to God.”  Simply put, his message was the direct opposite of what’s preached by so many black clergy Sunday after Sunday: that all problems in the black community are the result of social forces and systemic racism, that the answer is faith in the secular promises of race-hustlers and the Democratic Party and in what jazz poet Gil Scott-Heron sarcastically referred to as “the train from Washington.” 

As an outsider to the black church, I don’t know how many pastors share Reverend Williams’s fairly traditional Christian message to return to God, accept His design for family and children, and take responsibility for keeping unambiguous commandments such as “Thou Shalt Not Murder.”  I do know that the liberal media hate this message, as they hate all authentic Christian messages; that’s why they use highly selective reporting to screen out preachers like Williams, preferring to show only those black churches whose religious authority rests on commitment to progressive causes.  So it wasn’t bad enough that Reverend Williams’s message was full of politically disapproved content, but it was also heard by millions of people who are never supposed to hear black pastors talk this way.

When an outlawed message gets out to the masses, the media promptly respond by mashing the “outrage” button, sending forth an army of incensed experts to destroy both the message and the messenger.  When Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, for all his faults, recently displayed remarkable courage by calling out the violence in Chicago as a moral and spiritual problem, liberals instantly threw him under the wheels for being tone-deaf and blaming the victims.  The CEO of the Chicago Urban League flatly said about any explanation for Chicago’s violence other than racism, “I won’t accept it.” 

Emanuel, obviously, is white, and in spite of his association with the Clintons and Obamas, he is no longer a popular enough Democrat to be of any use to the cause.  He can be destroyed.

It’s not so easy with Reverend Williams.  Aretha Franklin chose him, for one, which means slamming him looks like questioning her.  Typically outspoken progressive clergy show little enthusiasm to denounce Williams, except a few incoherent non-responses to media goading.  Detroit NAACP president Reverend Wendell Anthony, when asked about Williams’s hard-hitting eulogy, said, “Part of the issue yesterday was the need to elaborate and to put a holistic approach to certain points he was making.”  Translation: “I have absolutely no response.” 

Not to worry: The media were able to find much more direct outrage on social media.  The Detroit Free Press reported that “social media, especially the Twittersphere, exploded in criticism over Williams’ remarks.  They accused him of being sexist and demeaning to other black people.”  Wrote the Associated Press: “Twitter user A’Ja Lyve, who uses the handle @ajalyve,” called Reverend Williams “‘a homophobic, sexist, misogynist, ableist, uneducated bigot who is disrespecting Auntie Aretha Franklin at her funeral.  She wasn’t about nonsense.”  (That’s right: the A’Ja Lyve!)  To further amplify the reaction they wanted to report, the Free Press cited headlines from other news outlets as if they were reporting actual facts: “headlines characterized Williams’ nearly 50-minute eulogy as ‘antiquated,’ and ‘controversial.’  One said he had a ‘bleak view’ and the message ‘provoked fury.'” 

Read those articles, and see that they’re also sourced back to social media – a neat trick if all you want is to buttress leftist dogma and not report facts.  Social media offer a wealth of harsh put-downs, none of it has to make any sense, and the invectives punch up your copy without the need to put reluctant public figures at risk of saying something profoundly stupid.

Yet there had to be outrage among liberal black clergy.  Reverend Williams preached a message that revealed all their Democrat talking points for the specious nonsense they are.  They’re not willing to challenge Williams’s points directly, because his message just made so much obvious sense.  What can his critics say?  That the prevalence of poor single mothers having to raise sons without their fathers is a cause for cultural pride?  Are they going to prove Williams wrong with an argument that the murder rate of black men by other black men is less of a threat than police shootings or Klan lynchings?  Even Jesse Jackson knew better than that, once upon a time, just as he once knew, and said, that the argument that “the right to privacy is of a higher order than the right of life … was the premise of slavery.”

There was a time when the moral authority of the black church, personified in Reverend Martin Luther King and a band of lesser known clergymen, was able to convict white America of racism and change a country’s heart.  Now, if a black pastor dares use his pulpit to call lost souls back to God, today’s hirelings call it a male-centered “theological insult” or mumble that their colleague just wasn’t “at his best.”  How things have changed since “Respect” hit number one.

T.R. Clancy looks at the world from Dearborn, Michigan. You can email him at trclancy@yahoo.com.

Last Friday, entertainers, activists, and politicians gathered in a Detroit church to remember Aretha Franklin at a funeral lasting more than eight hours.  Bill Clinton was there along with Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Al Sharpton, Louis Farrakhan, Jesse Jackson, and Maxine Waters, lots of others, and the media.  The media knew they had all the ingredients for a #Resistance meeting (which is exactly what The New Yorker called the next day’s memorial service for Senator John McCain) – that is, they had leftists, microphones, and TV cameras.  They couldn’t wait for the scathing attacks on Donald Trump.

None of the reported insults was noteworthy.  Take this silly example from Michael Eric Dyson, possibly plagiarized from Daffy Duck: “You lugubrious leech, you dopey doppelgänger of deceit and deviance, you lethal liar, you dimwitted dictator, you foolish fascist.”  No one would allow Maxine Waters anywhere near a microphone, so the best she could manage was a “Wakanda” salute.  Ho-hum. 

But then Reverend Jasper Williams, Jr. gave his eulogy (worth seeing in its entirety, at 8:39 in this video of the entire service).  That’s when the headline became “Dog Bites Man.”  In 1984, Williams had delivered the eulogy for Ms. Franklin’s father, Reverend C.L. Franklin, and she recently asked Williams to deliver hers.  After a tribute to Aretha Franklin’s title as “Queen of Soul,” Williams went on to explain what the Bible means by “soul” and then asked the crowd, “Have you lost your soul?  If we’re truthful, honest, and fair, we have to say black America has lost its soul. … As I look in your house, there are no fathers in the home no more.”

He went on to say that “as proud, beautiful and fine as our black women are, one thing a black woman cannot do, a black woman cannot raise a black boy to be a man.  She can’t do that.  She can’t do that.”  Citing statistics on black-on-black murders, Williams spurned the Black Lives Matter movement:

It amazes me how it is when the police kills one of us we’re ready to protest, march, destroy innocent property.  We’re ready to loot, steal whatever we want, but when we kill 100 of us, nobody says anything, nobody does anything.

He implored Black America to “come home to God.”  Simply put, his message was the direct opposite of what’s preached by so many black clergy Sunday after Sunday: that all problems in the black community are the result of social forces and systemic racism, that the answer is faith in the secular promises of race-hustlers and the Democratic Party and in what jazz poet Gil Scott-Heron sarcastically referred to as “the train from Washington.” 

As an outsider to the black church, I don’t know how many pastors share Reverend Williams’s fairly traditional Christian message to return to God, accept His design for family and children, and take responsibility for keeping unambiguous commandments such as “Thou Shalt Not Murder.”  I do know that the liberal media hate this message, as they hate all authentic Christian messages; that’s why they use highly selective reporting to screen out preachers like Williams, preferring to show only those black churches whose religious authority rests on commitment to progressive causes.  So it wasn’t bad enough that Reverend Williams’s message was full of politically disapproved content, but it was also heard by millions of people who are never supposed to hear black pastors talk this way.

When an outlawed message gets out to the masses, the media promptly respond by mashing the “outrage” button, sending forth an army of incensed experts to destroy both the message and the messenger.  When Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, for all his faults, recently displayed remarkable courage by calling out the violence in Chicago as a moral and spiritual problem, liberals instantly threw him under the wheels for being tone-deaf and blaming the victims.  The CEO of the Chicago Urban League flatly said about any explanation for Chicago’s violence other than racism, “I won’t accept it.” 

Emanuel, obviously, is white, and in spite of his association with the Clintons and Obamas, he is no longer a popular enough Democrat to be of any use to the cause.  He can be destroyed.

It’s not so easy with Reverend Williams.  Aretha Franklin chose him, for one, which means slamming him looks like questioning her.  Typically outspoken progressive clergy show little enthusiasm to denounce Williams, except a few incoherent non-responses to media goading.  Detroit NAACP president Reverend Wendell Anthony, when asked about Williams’s hard-hitting eulogy, said, “Part of the issue yesterday was the need to elaborate and to put a holistic approach to certain points he was making.”  Translation: “I have absolutely no response.” 

Not to worry: The media were able to find much more direct outrage on social media.  The Detroit Free Press reported that “social media, especially the Twittersphere, exploded in criticism over Williams’ remarks.  They accused him of being sexist and demeaning to other black people.”  Wrote the Associated Press: “Twitter user A’Ja Lyve, who uses the handle @ajalyve,” called Reverend Williams “‘a homophobic, sexist, misogynist, ableist, uneducated bigot who is disrespecting Auntie Aretha Franklin at her funeral.  She wasn’t about nonsense.”  (That’s right: the A’Ja Lyve!)  To further amplify the reaction they wanted to report, the Free Press cited headlines from other news outlets as if they were reporting actual facts: “headlines characterized Williams’ nearly 50-minute eulogy as ‘antiquated,’ and ‘controversial.’  One said he had a ‘bleak view’ and the message ‘provoked fury.'” 

Read those articles, and see that they’re also sourced back to social media – a neat trick if all you want is to buttress leftist dogma and not report facts.  Social media offer a wealth of harsh put-downs, none of it has to make any sense, and the invectives punch up your copy without the need to put reluctant public figures at risk of saying something profoundly stupid.

Yet there had to be outrage among liberal black clergy.  Reverend Williams preached a message that revealed all their Democrat talking points for the specious nonsense they are.  They’re not willing to challenge Williams’s points directly, because his message just made so much obvious sense.  What can his critics say?  That the prevalence of poor single mothers having to raise sons without their fathers is a cause for cultural pride?  Are they going to prove Williams wrong with an argument that the murder rate of black men by other black men is less of a threat than police shootings or Klan lynchings?  Even Jesse Jackson knew better than that, once upon a time, just as he once knew, and said, that the argument that “the right to privacy is of a higher order than the right of life … was the premise of slavery.”

There was a time when the moral authority of the black church, personified in Reverend Martin Luther King and a band of lesser known clergymen, was able to convict white America of racism and change a country’s heart.  Now, if a black pastor dares use his pulpit to call lost souls back to God, today’s hirelings call it a male-centered “theological insult” or mumble that their colleague just wasn’t “at his best.”  How things have changed since “Respect” hit number one.

T.R. Clancy looks at the world from Dearborn, Michigan. You can email him at trclancy@yahoo.com.



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No Congratulations: Liberals Move to Ban Balloons


You and I in a little toy shop

Buy a bag of balloons with the money we’ve got

Set them free at the break of dawn

’til one by one, they were gone…

According to German pop singer Nena, who sang us this story back in 1983, the fanciful release of 99 red balloons inadvertently triggered global thermonuclear war.  It was a cute antiwar song, a Euro-pop warning about an overeager “war machine” and the Bomb.  But now it’s the balloons we have to worry about:

The joyous celebration of releasing balloons into the air has long bothered environmentalists, who say the pieces that fall back to earth can be deadly to seabirds and turtles that eat them.  So as companies vow to banish plastic straws, there are signs balloons will be among the products to get more scrutiny, even though they’re a very small part of environmental pollution.

Accordingly, campaigns are afoot to discourage balloon releases at weddings, some states have passed laws restricting them, Clemson University ended its pre-game tradition of releasing 10,000 balloons before games, and so far at least one town in Rhode Island has banned the sale of all balloons out of concern for marine life.  The town warden suggests balloon alternatives, like “posters, piñatas and decorated paper.”  But can you tie a piñata into a giraffe? 

There’s some pushback from the Balloon Council, which works to “uphold the integrity of the professional balloon community” with safe handling standards like “never releasing them into the air, and ensuring the strings have a weight tied to them so the balloons don’t accidentally float away.”  The Council’s executive director, Lorna O’Hara, while she won’t dispute “that marine creatures might mistake balloons for jellyfish and eat them,” she’s not so sure “balloons are necessarily causing their deaths.”

Let me make clear at the outset that I’m on the side of the sea turtles, the soaring birds, and any other creature that might be harmed in this way, so I’m inclined to err on the side of the turtles.  There’s at least some science to back this up.  But that’s no guarantee that the cost-benefit ratio works out, like the way it never does with climate change.  If it must be, okay; neither plastic straws nor balloons make up much of my life. 

All the same, there’s something just not right about these hasty adoptions of bans on everyday things.  What’s the hurry?  It took 120 years for the American temperance movement to get the 18th Amendment, and that still turned out to be a terrible idea.  In just the past few weeks, we’ve heard about the rapid spread of bans on plastic straws; on balloons; on saying, “Hey, guys” to groups that include women; on “meatless” hamburgers; on crab dinners in Baltimore.  Speaking of Prohibition, expect a second try soon based on last week’s study that drinking alcohol is 100% bad for you.

My real issue is that once the left identifies a problem, its favorite solution is a ban.  With more or less success, the left in recent times has banned, or would love to ban, liquor, guns, national borders, plastic bags, cigarette advertising, DDT, flirting, binary pronouns, “hate speech,” prayers at graduation, team logos, Christmas hymns, wearing fur, words like “manhole,” Nativity scenes, nuclear power plants, coal, Civil War statues, petroleum, unwanted babies, toilets that flush, incandescent light bulbs, and Roseanne Barr.  As with kids who get overactive from too much sugar (at least, until that’s banned), if someone doesn’t shut off the supply of things to forbid, they’ll just get more out of control. 

You’ll notice that it never ends with just the ban itself.  Even images and other references to the condemned object have to be banished, too, as if the very idea of the thing must be erased.  One group that’s worried about balloons, Clean Virginia Waterways, “notes the difficulty of changing a social norm and that even typing ‘congrats’ in a Facebook post results in an animation of balloons.”  And?  Will animated sea turtles try to eat them? 

That’s the thing that gets me.  It’s not enough that we’d be willing to give up a good thing in the interest of some greater good.  For some reason, the offensive object always has to be redefined as malum in se, evil in itself.  It’s no longer enough that the Union won the Civil War and both slavery and the Confederacy went extinct 153 years ago; it’s now necessary “to erase symbols of the pro-slavery Civil War South” by tearing down Confederate statues.  We still have the Second Amendment, but liberals fall asleep to dream about outlawing firearms, and the anticipatory sanitizing is well underway in schools, such that a six-year-old gets suspended for pointing his finger like a gun, or an eighth-grader for doodling an armed stick man.

Nor is it bad enough that balloons poison sea turtles and ensnare sea fowl with their strings and ribbons, but Clean Virginia Waterways has to pile on the additional charge that they “often use helium, a non-renewable resource.”  The damn things are just bad! 

Dangerous, warns Emma Tongue of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, despite their “‘light and whimsical’ image.”  That’s exactly how Nena and her boyfriend got sucked in!

The day is coming when kids’ birthday invitations will not only be scrubbed of all balloon imagery, but bear the somber promise that Liam’s theme party will be “balloon free.”  The inevitable next phase comes when little tykes who witness balloons at other kids’ parties run home to squeal about the naughty things they saw at their classmate’s house, in turn setting off woke parent-to-unfit parent phone calls to explain a world without seabirds.

Along with plagues, mass migrations, war, volcanic activity, and university education, this is exactly the sort of thing that causes cultures over time to go extinct – meanwhile making life, bit by bit (or ban by ban) less worth living. 

By the time of the party conventions in 2020, this anti-balloon thing should be well along, which poses a real image problem if either side goes ahead with the traditional nomination speech balloon drop.  The Republicans will be called tone-deaf animal-haters for six months on CNN, and the Democrats will just be called hypocrites once or twice before the media drop it.  Most likely, the Democrats will have adopted an anti-balloon plank to please their base and will look for alternative things to drop – maybe one of those suggested by the Rhode Island city warden, like bits of colored paper or piñatas.  Or maybe they could look at things from a sea turtle’s point of view, and just drop jellyfish.

T.R. Clancy looks at the world from Dearborn, Michigan.  You can email him at trclancy@yahoo.com.

You and I in a little toy shop

Buy a bag of balloons with the money we’ve got

Set them free at the break of dawn

’til one by one, they were gone…

According to German pop singer Nena, who sang us this story back in 1983, the fanciful release of 99 red balloons inadvertently triggered global thermonuclear war.  It was a cute antiwar song, a Euro-pop warning about an overeager “war machine” and the Bomb.  But now it’s the balloons we have to worry about:

The joyous celebration of releasing balloons into the air has long bothered environmentalists, who say the pieces that fall back to earth can be deadly to seabirds and turtles that eat them.  So as companies vow to banish plastic straws, there are signs balloons will be among the products to get more scrutiny, even though they’re a very small part of environmental pollution.

Accordingly, campaigns are afoot to discourage balloon releases at weddings, some states have passed laws restricting them, Clemson University ended its pre-game tradition of releasing 10,000 balloons before games, and so far at least one town in Rhode Island has banned the sale of all balloons out of concern for marine life.  The town warden suggests balloon alternatives, like “posters, piñatas and decorated paper.”  But can you tie a piñata into a giraffe? 

There’s some pushback from the Balloon Council, which works to “uphold the integrity of the professional balloon community” with safe handling standards like “never releasing them into the air, and ensuring the strings have a weight tied to them so the balloons don’t accidentally float away.”  The Council’s executive director, Lorna O’Hara, while she won’t dispute “that marine creatures might mistake balloons for jellyfish and eat them,” she’s not so sure “balloons are necessarily causing their deaths.”

Let me make clear at the outset that I’m on the side of the sea turtles, the soaring birds, and any other creature that might be harmed in this way, so I’m inclined to err on the side of the turtles.  There’s at least some science to back this up.  But that’s no guarantee that the cost-benefit ratio works out, like the way it never does with climate change.  If it must be, okay; neither plastic straws nor balloons make up much of my life. 

All the same, there’s something just not right about these hasty adoptions of bans on everyday things.  What’s the hurry?  It took 120 years for the American temperance movement to get the 18th Amendment, and that still turned out to be a terrible idea.  In just the past few weeks, we’ve heard about the rapid spread of bans on plastic straws; on balloons; on saying, “Hey, guys” to groups that include women; on “meatless” hamburgers; on crab dinners in Baltimore.  Speaking of Prohibition, expect a second try soon based on last week’s study that drinking alcohol is 100% bad for you.

My real issue is that once the left identifies a problem, its favorite solution is a ban.  With more or less success, the left in recent times has banned, or would love to ban, liquor, guns, national borders, plastic bags, cigarette advertising, DDT, flirting, binary pronouns, “hate speech,” prayers at graduation, team logos, Christmas hymns, wearing fur, words like “manhole,” Nativity scenes, nuclear power plants, coal, Civil War statues, petroleum, unwanted babies, toilets that flush, incandescent light bulbs, and Roseanne Barr.  As with kids who get overactive from too much sugar (at least, until that’s banned), if someone doesn’t shut off the supply of things to forbid, they’ll just get more out of control. 

You’ll notice that it never ends with just the ban itself.  Even images and other references to the condemned object have to be banished, too, as if the very idea of the thing must be erased.  One group that’s worried about balloons, Clean Virginia Waterways, “notes the difficulty of changing a social norm and that even typing ‘congrats’ in a Facebook post results in an animation of balloons.”  And?  Will animated sea turtles try to eat them? 

That’s the thing that gets me.  It’s not enough that we’d be willing to give up a good thing in the interest of some greater good.  For some reason, the offensive object always has to be redefined as malum in se, evil in itself.  It’s no longer enough that the Union won the Civil War and both slavery and the Confederacy went extinct 153 years ago; it’s now necessary “to erase symbols of the pro-slavery Civil War South” by tearing down Confederate statues.  We still have the Second Amendment, but liberals fall asleep to dream about outlawing firearms, and the anticipatory sanitizing is well underway in schools, such that a six-year-old gets suspended for pointing his finger like a gun, or an eighth-grader for doodling an armed stick man.

Nor is it bad enough that balloons poison sea turtles and ensnare sea fowl with their strings and ribbons, but Clean Virginia Waterways has to pile on the additional charge that they “often use helium, a non-renewable resource.”  The damn things are just bad! 

Dangerous, warns Emma Tongue of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, despite their “‘light and whimsical’ image.”  That’s exactly how Nena and her boyfriend got sucked in!

The day is coming when kids’ birthday invitations will not only be scrubbed of all balloon imagery, but bear the somber promise that Liam’s theme party will be “balloon free.”  The inevitable next phase comes when little tykes who witness balloons at other kids’ parties run home to squeal about the naughty things they saw at their classmate’s house, in turn setting off woke parent-to-unfit parent phone calls to explain a world without seabirds.

Along with plagues, mass migrations, war, volcanic activity, and university education, this is exactly the sort of thing that causes cultures over time to go extinct – meanwhile making life, bit by bit (or ban by ban) less worth living. 

By the time of the party conventions in 2020, this anti-balloon thing should be well along, which poses a real image problem if either side goes ahead with the traditional nomination speech balloon drop.  The Republicans will be called tone-deaf animal-haters for six months on CNN, and the Democrats will just be called hypocrites once or twice before the media drop it.  Most likely, the Democrats will have adopted an anti-balloon plank to please their base and will look for alternative things to drop – maybe one of those suggested by the Rhode Island city warden, like bits of colored paper or piñatas.  Or maybe they could look at things from a sea turtle’s point of view, and just drop jellyfish.

T.R. Clancy looks at the world from Dearborn, Michigan.  You can email him at trclancy@yahoo.com.



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The Day Andrew Cuomo Got Religion


Who could have predicted back in 1928 that Al Smith’s successor as governor of New York would be explaining his advancement of legislation by his “solidarity” with the pope?  Back then, poor Governor Smith was defeated in his run for president in part by anti-Catholic fears that he represented a “Romish Peril,” not least by way of a transatlantic tunnel between Washington and the Vatican.  A vote for Al Smith would put America under the dictatorship of the pope.

So when Governor Andrew Cuomo, literally on the same day Pope Francis declared that the death penalty is “inadmissible” in all cases, introduced a bill to abolish capital punishment in New York, the left erupted in justifiable outrage at Cuomo’s attempt to establish religion. 

Or not.  So far, there have been no actual reports of protesters turning out with signs telling the pope to stay out of our lethal injection chambers.

Francis’s declaration didn’t change Cuomo’s views on the subject; he was already an opponent of capital punishment, as was his father before him, the late Governor Mario Cuomo.  But Andrew sees this new teaching as divine “validation of my father’s principled stand against the death penalty.”

Speaking of principled stands, you may recall Andrew’s father as the originator of the now-ubiquitous moral nonsense that Catholic politicians could be “personally opposed” to abortion, while at the same time, “as servants of the broader public – supporting its availability to those who did not share those beliefs.”  With that single phrase, Mario handed pro-abortion Catholic politicians (and their Catholic voters, who by that time were mostly Democrats) the get-out-of Hell-free card they needed to explain their fervent advocacy for an evil practice to which they said they were personally opposed.  The Church had already condemned that position, and  John Paul II clearly reiterated “that those who are directly involved in lawmaking bodies have a ‘grave and clear obligation to oppose’ any law that attacks human life.”

Even the Catholic bishops’ conference, which in those days was living up to its nickname of “the Democratic Party at prayer,” had to draw the line at Cuomo’s twisted logic:

No public official, especially one claiming to be a faithful and serious Catholic, can responsibly advocate for or actively support direct attacks on innocent human life.  [N]o appeal to policy, procedure, majority will or pluralism ever excuses a public official from defending life to the greatest extent possible.

But the Cuomos, John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi, Ted Kennedy, and God knows how many other Catholic politicians (and just think: he really does know how many!) have gone right on appealing directly to those very things to justify themselves – to those things, and to their unqualified loyalty to the separation of Church and state. 

I learned long ago that if your Christianity leans far enough left, you get a pass from the passionate defenders of the Wall of Separation, the same ones who will tell you that tolerance in the public square of the belief in marriage is tantamount to the establishment of a Christian theocracy.  (I specify a Christian theocracy, because none of these folks seem even slightly concerned at some fairly explicit intentions to establish an Islamic theocracy.) 

This free pass is the reason black ministers can preach the Democratic platform from their pulpits, or lend those pulpits to progressive candidates who describe their activism as the “Lord’s work,” while never rating so much as a raised eyelid from the ACLU.  As long as the religion you’re establishing saves room for the gospel values of abortion, pseudo-marriage, and really big government programs, the Southern Poverty Law Center sees no harm in it. 

You see, they’re not politicizing Jesus the way Republicans are when they say He’s conservative and try to force the Ten Commandments on everybody.   Instead, liberals just follow Jesus’s clear and simple teachings about taking care of the poor (through massive entitlement programs), showing compassion to the stranger (through open-border immigration policies), and stressing the importance of being nonjudgmental (by using Caesar to force stubborn Pharisees to participate in ceremonies claiming to unite same-sex couples and pay for someone else’s contraception). 

Even in spite of the double standard, I’ve never believed that preachers should be barred from mixing faith with politics.  I only wish our side could do it, too.  And I don’t believe one bit that Andrew Cuomo taking this political action in compliance with a religious edict is a threat to the constitutional order.  Nor do I necessarily oppose either Francis’s or Cuomo’s opposition to capital punishment.  I’m agnostic on the subject; it’s never been legal in the state where I live, and if there were a vote to legalize it in Michigan, I’d likely vote no. 

But when Andrew Cuomo, quoting his father before him, calls the death penalty “a stain on our conscience,” demeaning those “who strive to preserve human life and dignity,” it’s impossible not to notice how badly out of proportion he’s getting things.

Take the fact that the death penalty has been virtually extinct in New York since a state Court of Appeals ruling in 2004.  On a national scale, it’s hardly commonplace.  By July 2018, there have been 1,479 executions in this country since 1976.  Of course, I don’t mean to imply “only 1,479”; every single one of those was an individual facing the horror of being put to death.  But as stains on our national conscience go, just how big a stain is it?

I’m thinking of how the “stain” of 1,479 executions in 42 years looks beside the stain of 2,537 abortions in the United States per day.  Can you be taken seriously as a defender of “human life and dignity” when you’re supporting a regime that’s taking a human life every 30 seconds? 

Pope Francis’s careful wording that capital punishment is now “inadmissible” posits that the historical practice of executing dangerous criminals to protect society is unnecessary in our time, when the means now exist to effectively incarcerate them.  But the pope’s new language stops short – notably – of calling capital punishment “intrinsically evil,” a “theological term meaning that an action can never be done in a moral way, regardless of the circumstances.”  The new Catechism entry will neither state that the death penalty would always be immoral in other circumstances nor condemn those who have supported its use in the past.   

What the Church does define as intrinsically evil, and always has, is abortion.  If Governor Cuomo’s newfound respect for Church teaching so moves him to ban an evil from New York that doesn’t even take place there anymore, why not some moves toward ridding our consciences of that larger, darker stain that’s spreading more and more every day? 

It’s the cynicism that gets me.  Because Governor Cuomo’s father was “personally opposed to the death penalty,” he vetoed death penalty legislation 12 times.  His stated personal opposition to abortion didn’t drive him to lift a finger for the unborn even once.  Andrew Cuomo wasn’t claiming any personal opposition to abortion in 2014, when he called pro-life Republicans “extreme conservatives” who have “no place in the state of New York.”  Planned Parenthood just endorsed Cuomo for re-election because he’s so “personally committed to our issues and other progressive values we believe in.”

If the bigots of Al Smith’s times could have seen ahead to this future Catholic governor in Smith’s old job, they’d see little reason to fear that this guy was digging a tunnel to Rome.

But is he digging a tunnel to somewhere else?  That’s another question.

Who could have predicted back in 1928 that Al Smith’s successor as governor of New York would be explaining his advancement of legislation by his “solidarity” with the pope?  Back then, poor Governor Smith was defeated in his run for president in part by anti-Catholic fears that he represented a “Romish Peril,” not least by way of a transatlantic tunnel between Washington and the Vatican.  A vote for Al Smith would put America under the dictatorship of the pope.

So when Governor Andrew Cuomo, literally on the same day Pope Francis declared that the death penalty is “inadmissible” in all cases, introduced a bill to abolish capital punishment in New York, the left erupted in justifiable outrage at Cuomo’s attempt to establish religion. 

Or not.  So far, there have been no actual reports of protesters turning out with signs telling the pope to stay out of our lethal injection chambers.

Francis’s declaration didn’t change Cuomo’s views on the subject; he was already an opponent of capital punishment, as was his father before him, the late Governor Mario Cuomo.  But Andrew sees this new teaching as divine “validation of my father’s principled stand against the death penalty.”

Speaking of principled stands, you may recall Andrew’s father as the originator of the now-ubiquitous moral nonsense that Catholic politicians could be “personally opposed” to abortion, while at the same time, “as servants of the broader public – supporting its availability to those who did not share those beliefs.”  With that single phrase, Mario handed pro-abortion Catholic politicians (and their Catholic voters, who by that time were mostly Democrats) the get-out-of Hell-free card they needed to explain their fervent advocacy for an evil practice to which they said they were personally opposed.  The Church had already condemned that position, and  John Paul II clearly reiterated “that those who are directly involved in lawmaking bodies have a ‘grave and clear obligation to oppose’ any law that attacks human life.”

Even the Catholic bishops’ conference, which in those days was living up to its nickname of “the Democratic Party at prayer,” had to draw the line at Cuomo’s twisted logic:

No public official, especially one claiming to be a faithful and serious Catholic, can responsibly advocate for or actively support direct attacks on innocent human life.  [N]o appeal to policy, procedure, majority will or pluralism ever excuses a public official from defending life to the greatest extent possible.

But the Cuomos, John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi, Ted Kennedy, and God knows how many other Catholic politicians (and just think: he really does know how many!) have gone right on appealing directly to those very things to justify themselves – to those things, and to their unqualified loyalty to the separation of Church and state. 

I learned long ago that if your Christianity leans far enough left, you get a pass from the passionate defenders of the Wall of Separation, the same ones who will tell you that tolerance in the public square of the belief in marriage is tantamount to the establishment of a Christian theocracy.  (I specify a Christian theocracy, because none of these folks seem even slightly concerned at some fairly explicit intentions to establish an Islamic theocracy.) 

This free pass is the reason black ministers can preach the Democratic platform from their pulpits, or lend those pulpits to progressive candidates who describe their activism as the “Lord’s work,” while never rating so much as a raised eyelid from the ACLU.  As long as the religion you’re establishing saves room for the gospel values of abortion, pseudo-marriage, and really big government programs, the Southern Poverty Law Center sees no harm in it. 

You see, they’re not politicizing Jesus the way Republicans are when they say He’s conservative and try to force the Ten Commandments on everybody.   Instead, liberals just follow Jesus’s clear and simple teachings about taking care of the poor (through massive entitlement programs), showing compassion to the stranger (through open-border immigration policies), and stressing the importance of being nonjudgmental (by using Caesar to force stubborn Pharisees to participate in ceremonies claiming to unite same-sex couples and pay for someone else’s contraception). 

Even in spite of the double standard, I’ve never believed that preachers should be barred from mixing faith with politics.  I only wish our side could do it, too.  And I don’t believe one bit that Andrew Cuomo taking this political action in compliance with a religious edict is a threat to the constitutional order.  Nor do I necessarily oppose either Francis’s or Cuomo’s opposition to capital punishment.  I’m agnostic on the subject; it’s never been legal in the state where I live, and if there were a vote to legalize it in Michigan, I’d likely vote no. 

But when Andrew Cuomo, quoting his father before him, calls the death penalty “a stain on our conscience,” demeaning those “who strive to preserve human life and dignity,” it’s impossible not to notice how badly out of proportion he’s getting things.

Take the fact that the death penalty has been virtually extinct in New York since a state Court of Appeals ruling in 2004.  On a national scale, it’s hardly commonplace.  By July 2018, there have been 1,479 executions in this country since 1976.  Of course, I don’t mean to imply “only 1,479”; every single one of those was an individual facing the horror of being put to death.  But as stains on our national conscience go, just how big a stain is it?

I’m thinking of how the “stain” of 1,479 executions in 42 years looks beside the stain of 2,537 abortions in the United States per day.  Can you be taken seriously as a defender of “human life and dignity” when you’re supporting a regime that’s taking a human life every 30 seconds? 

Pope Francis’s careful wording that capital punishment is now “inadmissible” posits that the historical practice of executing dangerous criminals to protect society is unnecessary in our time, when the means now exist to effectively incarcerate them.  But the pope’s new language stops short – notably – of calling capital punishment “intrinsically evil,” a “theological term meaning that an action can never be done in a moral way, regardless of the circumstances.”  The new Catechism entry will neither state that the death penalty would always be immoral in other circumstances nor condemn those who have supported its use in the past.   

What the Church does define as intrinsically evil, and always has, is abortion.  If Governor Cuomo’s newfound respect for Church teaching so moves him to ban an evil from New York that doesn’t even take place there anymore, why not some moves toward ridding our consciences of that larger, darker stain that’s spreading more and more every day? 

It’s the cynicism that gets me.  Because Governor Cuomo’s father was “personally opposed to the death penalty,” he vetoed death penalty legislation 12 times.  His stated personal opposition to abortion didn’t drive him to lift a finger for the unborn even once.  Andrew Cuomo wasn’t claiming any personal opposition to abortion in 2014, when he called pro-life Republicans “extreme conservatives” who have “no place in the state of New York.”  Planned Parenthood just endorsed Cuomo for re-election because he’s so “personally committed to our issues and other progressive values we believe in.”

If the bigots of Al Smith’s times could have seen ahead to this future Catholic governor in Smith’s old job, they’d see little reason to fear that this guy was digging a tunnel to Rome.

But is he digging a tunnel to somewhere else?  That’s another question.



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