Three Things You Need to Know - October 20, 2017

You need to listen to all of George Bush's speech.

"George W. Bush, in a stunning attack, Bush accuses Trump of promoting falsehoods and prejudice." That's the headline. Headline from the LA Times yesterday about President Bush's speech at the George Bush Institute in New York. Headline is what we might classify as, I don't know, spin.

George Bush never flat-out accused Trump of anything in his speech. But he did call for the awareness of a disturbing trend of nationalism, that has become popular with Trump and the right.

"We've seen nationalism distorted into nativism. Forgotten the dynamism that immigration has always brought into America. We see a fading competence in the value of free markets and international trade, forgetting that conflict, instability, and poverty that follow in the wake of protectionism.

We've seen the return of isolationist sentiments, forgetting that American security is directly threatened, by the chaos and despair of distant places, where threats such as terrorism, infectious disease, criminal gangs, and drug trafficking tend to emerge."

Okay. Everything that he said was true. I don't think they were directed at Trump. But anyone who participates in the isolationist mindset. Protectionism. Nationalism. They have never ever been a part of American success. Never. We've never needed them to be proud citizens of the home of the free and the brave.

Our pride in America emanates outward, not inward. We want to share everyone. We want to share our values, our principles, and our prosperity. That's what makes us great.

Come over here. Participate. Share in this.

But because they just wanted to kill Trump, his words fell on deaf ears. The left just heard him say, Trump, bad. And now George W. Bush is suddenly a progressive darling, which I can't take anymore. How is George Bush all of a sudden a leftist hero?

I guess it happens when you completely ignore the later comments in the same speech, where he excoriated their side as well.

"There are some signs that the intensity of support for democracy itself has waned, especially among the young, who never experienced a galvanizing moral clarity of the Cold War, or never focused on the ruin of entire nations by socialist central planning.

Some have called this Democratic de-consolidation. Really, it seems to be a combination of weariness, frayed tempers, and forgetfulness."

Look, here's the deal, both the left and the right are facing philosophical and ideological challenges at the moment. Both sides. It took George W. Bush to sit us down and explain why we're both looking at American democracy in the wrong light.

I fear, however, the right and the left will only listen to his words when it suits them. Before you trash or exalt Bush for the edited sound bite that you heard, that might have been promoted in your carefully selected news feed, I implore you, it's 15 minutes long, listen to the entire thing.

Is nothing sacred in this country anymore?

Is nothing truly sacred in this country anymore? Representative Frederica Wilson’s politicizing of a phone call between President Trump and a Gold Star mom is just disgusting. White House Chief of Staff John Kelly responded yesterday:

"And I thought at least that was sacred. You know, as a kid growing up, a lot of things were sacred in our country. Women were sacred. Looked upon with great honor. That's obviously not the case anymore, as we've seen from recent cases. Life. The dignity of life is sacred. That's gone. Religion, that seems to be gone as well. Gold star families, I think that left in the convention over the summer."

"I just thought the selfless devotion that brings a man or woman to die on the battlefield, I just thought that that might be sacred."

I don’t think I’ve ever seen Kelly this emotional and genuine. If anyone has something to say of substance here, it’s Kelly. He’s lived this nightmare when his son was killed. Every American should listen to Kelly’s recount of what happens when one of our soldiers falls in combat. It was heartbreaking.

What made it even more devastating was knowing that, as he was describing in detail how a slain soldier is packed in ice and laid in his coffin, he was probably visualizing his own memories and pain. He told the President that, because of the pain involved, there’s really no good way to talk to the family of a fallen soldier. But to Trump’s credit, he tried anyway. What does it say for the state of our country that someone was waiting to turn this into a political advantage? What is happening to us?

Shame on Wilson and anyone else that is trying to score a win from this. To prompt a man that has lost a son in combat to explain how this works is a tragedy. And all this was because of politics. One side may not have started it, but BOTH sides need to drop this immediately. Kelly deserves better than this. Gold Star families deserve better than this. The entire country deserves better than this.

Truly, nothing is sacred in this country anymore.

Real men want more than plastic.

A woman waits in her car outside a dingy street in Dortmund, Germany.

Annoyed, she checks her watch for what seems like the thousandth time. She’s been waiting over an hour for her husband.

He, on the other hand, is having a great time inside the first ever sex doll brothel. The aptly named “Bordoll” is the first of its kind. Paying customers can have their way with one of the eleven dolls that are on rotation.

Since opening, Evelyn Schwartz, the 29 year old owner, says the dolls are booked up to 12 times a day. And she is proud to report that customer satisfaction is high, with 70% of men returning for a second visit.

Her business is booming thanks to her clients and their tolerant wives. And she’s only had to replace one doll so far after a customer broke it. Some, like Evelyn Schwartz, claim that using sex dolls is not harmful, but beneficial to one’s health. A UK report recently found that a significantly high number of Brits say that sex with a robot or doll would not be cheating. It’s not like it’s another human! Some people truly feel that way.

But let’s look at the consequences of this behavior.

It reduces the very act that creates life into a simple reaction. It degrades the relationship between a man and a woman. And it will become more dangerous than the porn industry. Why would a man have any incentive to pursue a real woman when there is no effort involved in getting a “dream woman” to sleep with him? But I have hope for our inevitable slide into Westworld.

I hope real men will still put in the effort. The men who value true companionship, love, and respect for woman will always want something more than plastic.

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Stop trying to be right and think of the children

Mario Tama/Getty Images

All the outrage this week has mainly focused on one thing: the evil Trump administration and its minions who delight in taking children from their illegal immigrant parents and throwing them all in dungeons. Separate dungeons, mind you.

That makes for a nice, easy storyline, but the reality is less convenient. Most Americans seem to agree that separating children from their parents — even if their parents entered the US illegally — is a bad thing. But what if that mom and dad you're trying to keep the kids with aren't really the kids' parents? Believe it or not, fraud happens.

RELATED: Where were Rachel Maddow's tears for immigrant children in 2014?

While there are plenty of heartbreaking stories of parents simply seeking a chance for a better life for their children in the US, there are also corrupt, abusive human traffickers who profit from the illegal immigration trade. And sorting all of this out is no easy task.

This week, the Department of Homeland Security said that since October 2017, more than 300 children have arrived at the border with adults claiming to be their parents who turned out not to be relatives. 90 of these fraud cases came from the Rio Grande Valley sector alone.

In 2017, DHS reported 46 causes of fraudulent family claims. But there have already been 191 fraud cases in 2018.

Shouldn't we be concerned about any child that is smuggled by a human trafficker?

When Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen pointed out this 315 percent increase, the New York Times was quick to give these family fraud cases "context" by noting they make up less than one percent of the total number of illegal immigrant families apprehended at the southern border. Their implication was that Nielsen was exaggerating the numbers. Even if the number of fraud cases at the border was only 0.001 percent, shouldn't we be concerned about any child that is smuggled by a human trafficker?

This is the most infuriating part of this whole conversation this week (if you can call it a "conversation") — that both sides have an angle to defend. And while everyone's busy yelling and making their case, children are being abused.

What if we just tried, for two seconds, to love having mercy more than we love having to be right all the time?

Remember when cartoons were happy things? Each panel took you on a tiny journey, carrying you to an unexplored place. In Understanding Comics, Scott McCloud writes:

The comics creator asks us to join in a silent dance of the seen and the unseen. The visible and the invisible. This dance is unique to comics. No other artform gives so much to its audience while asking so much from them as well. This is why I think it's a mistake to see comics as a mere hybrid of the graphic arts and prose fiction. What happens between . . . panels is a kind of magic only comics can create.

When that magic is manipulated or politicized, it often devolves the artform into a baseless thing. Yesterday, Occupy Wall Street published the perfect example of low-brow deviation of the artform: A six-panel approach at satire, which imitates the instructions-panel found in the netted cubbyhole behind seats on airplanes. The cartoon is a critique of the recent news about immigrant children being separated from their parents after crossing the border. It is a step-by-step guide to murdering US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents.

RELATED: Cultural appropriation has jumped the shark, and everyone is noticing

The first panel shows a man shoving an infant into a cage meant for Pomeranians. The following five panels feature instructions, and include pictures of a cartoonish murder.

The panels read as follows:

  1. If an ICE agent tries to take your child at the border, don't panic.
  2. Pull your child away as quickly as possibly by force.
  3. Gently tell your child to close his/her eyes and ears so they won't witness what you are about to do.
  4. Grab the ICE agent from behind and push your knife into his chest with an upward thrust, causing the agent's sternum to break.
  5. Reach into his chest and pull out his still beating heart.
  6. Hold his bloody heart out for all other agents to see, and tell them that the same fate awaits them if they f--- with your child again.

Violent comics are nothing new. But most of the time, they remain in the realms of invented worlds — in other words, not in our own, with reference to actual people, let alone federal agents.

The mainstream media made a game of crying racism with every cartoon depiction of Obama during his presidency, as well as during his tenure as Senator, when the New Yorker, of all things, faced scrutiny for depicting him in "Muslim clothing." Life was a minefield for political cartoonists during the Obama era.

Chris Hondros/Getty Images

This year, we saw the leftist outrage regarding The Simpsons character Apu — a cartoon representation of a highly-respected, though cartoonishly-depicted, character on a cartoon show composed of cartoonishly-depicted characters.

We all remember Charlie Hebdo, which, like many outlets that have used cartoon satire to criticize Islam, faced the wrath and ire of people unable to see even the tamest representation of the prophet, Muhammad.

Interesting, isn't it? Occupy Wall Street publishes a cartoon that advocates murdering federal agents, and critics are told to lighten up. Meanwhile, the merest depiction of Muhammad has resulted in riots throughout the world, murder and terror on an unprecedented scale.

The intersection of Islam and comics is complex enough to have its own three-hour show, so we'll leave it at that, for now. Although, it is worth mentioning the commentary by satirical website The Onion, which featured a highly offensive cartoon of all the major religious figures except Muhammad. It noted:

Following the publication of the image above, in which the most cherished figures from multiple religious faiths were depicted engaging in a lascivious sex act of considerable depravity, no one was murdered, beaten, or had their lives threatened.

Of course, Occupy Wall Street is free to publish any cartoon they like. Freedom of speech, and so on—although there have been several instances in which violent cartoons were ruled to have violated the "yelling fire in a crowded theater" limitation of the First Amendment.

Posting it to Twitter is another issue — this is surely in violation of Twitter's violent content policy, but something tells me nothing will come of it. It's a funny world, isn't it? A screenshot of a receipt from Chick-fil-A causes outrage but a cartoon advocating murder gets crickets.

RELATED: Twitter mob goes ballistic over Father's Day photo of Caitlyn Jenner. Who cares?

In Understanding Comics, Scott McCloud concludes that, "Today the possibilities for comics are — as they've always been — endless. Comics offers . . . range and versatility, with all the potential imagery of film and painting plus the intimacy of the written word. And all that's needed is the desire to be heard, the will to learn, and the ability to see."

Smile, and keep moving forward.

Crude and awful as the Occupy Wall Street comic is, the best thing we can do is nod and look elsewhere for the art that will open our eyes. Let the lunatics draw what they want, let them stew in their own flawed double standards. Otherwise, we're as shallow and empty as they are, and nothing good comes of that. Smile, and keep moving forward.

Things are getting better. Show the world how to hear, how to learn, how to see.

People should start listening to Nikki Haley

ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images

Okay. Let's take a vote. You know, an objective, quantifiable count. How many resolutions has the UN Human Rights Council adopted condemning dictatorships? Easy. Well. How do you define "dictatorship"?

Well, one metric is the UN Human Rights Council Condemnation. How many have the United Nations issued to China, with a body count higher than a professional Call of Duty player?

Zero.

How about Venezuela, where socialism is devouring its own in the cruelest, most unsettling ways imaginable?

Zero.

And Russia, home of unsettling cruelty and rampant censorship, murder and (actual) homophobia?

Zero.

Iraq? Zero. Turkey? Iraq? Zero. Cuba? Zero. Pakistan? Zero.

RELATED: Nikki Haley just dropped some serious verbal bombs on Russia at the UN

According to UN Human Rights Council Condemnations, 2006-2016, none of these nations is as dangerous as we'd imagined. Or, rather, none of them faced a single condemnation. Meanwhile, one country in particular has faced unbelievable scrutiny and fury — you'll never guess which country.

No, it's not Somalia. It's Israel. With 68 UN Human Rights Council Condemnations! In fact, the number of total United Nations condemnations against Israel outnumbers the total of condemnations against all other countries combined. The only country that comes close is Syria, with 15.

The Trump administration withdrew from the United Nations Human Rights Council on Tuesday in protest of what it perceives as an entrenched bias against Israel and a willingness to allow notorious human rights abusers as members.

In an address to the UN Security Council on Tuesday, Nikki Haley said:

Let's remember that the Hamas terrorist organization has been inciting violence for years, long before the United States decided to move our embassy. This is what is endangering the people of Gaza. Make no mistake, Hamas is pleased with the results from yesterday... No country in this chamber would act with more restraint than Israel has.

Maybe people should start listening to Haley. Hopefully, they will. Not likely, but there's no crime in remaining hopeful.

Here's a question unique to our times: "Should I tell my father 'Happy Father's Day,' even though he (she?) is now one of my mothers?"

Father's Day was four days ago, yes, but this story is just weird enough to report on. One enjoyable line to read was this gem from Hollywood Gossip: "Cait is a woman and a transgender icon, but she is also and will always be the father of her six children."

RELATED: If Bruce was never a he and always a she, who won the men's Olympic gold in 1976?

Imagine reading that to someone ten — even five — years ago. And, honestly, there's something nice about it. But the strangeness of its having ever been written overpowers any emotional impact it might bring.

"So lucky to have you," wrote Kylie Jenner, in the Instagram caption under pre-transition pictures of Bruce Jenner.

Look. I risk sounding like a tabloid by mere dint of having even mentioned this story, but the important element is the cultural sway that's occurring. The original story was that a band of disgruntled Twitter users got outraged about the supposed "transphobic" remarks by Jenner's daughter.

But, what we should be saying is, "who the hell cares?" Who cares what one Jenner says to another — and more importantly and on a far deeper level — who cares what some anonymous Twitter user has to say?

When are we going to stop playing into the hands of the Twitter mob?

When are we going to stop playing into the hands of the Twitter mob? Because, at the moment, they've got it pretty good. They have a nifty relationship with the mainstream media: One or two Twitter users get outraged by any given thing — in this case Jenner and supposed transphobia. In return, the mainstream media use the Twitter comment as a source.

Then, a larger Twitter audience points to the article itself as proof that there's some kind of systemic justice at play. It's a closed-market currency, where the negative feedback loop of proof and evidence is composed of faulty accusations. Isn't it a hell of a time to be alive?