Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Cruising the Web

Jeff Jacoby argues for the freedom of private companies to fire someone or have policies denying service to those with whom they disagree. He gives the example of GoDaddy throwing the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer off its domain. Google then refused to allow the site to move to their domain. Few would argue that GoDaddy or Google should be forced to host a neo-Nazi site. However, this other example he provides might spark more disagreement.
The owner of a gym in Atlanta was inundated with criticism after it was reported that his club refuses to admit police officers and active-duty military personnel. The no-cops, no-military policy at Jim Chambers's EAV Barbell Club isn't new, but it was suddenly in the spotlight after a local TV station aired a story about it — specifically, about a sign at the gym's entrance proclaiming "No F---king Cops." When the station interviewed Chambers, he expressed chagrin about the vulgarity, but none whatsoever about discriminating against policemen and soldiers.

"We've had an explicitly stated no-cops policy since we opened," he said. "We don't want to make police stronger so that they can hurt people more efficiently. It's not a personal thing, but if you put that uniform on, quite honestly I view that as an occupying enemy army."
Many might find that attitude objectionable, but it's a private business and he should be allowed to bar police if he chooses to.
Chambers's beliefs are beyond grotesque. But give him credit for putting his money where his mouth is: He willingly forgoes the income he could earn from opening his gym to law-enforcement and military personnel. (He also says firmly that he would never call the police for protection in an emergency.) Unlike GoDaddy — which had resisted calls to expel the Daily Stormer, and only reversed course after the violence in Charlottesville — EAV Barbell Club's policy has been unwavering.

The values driving these two business decisions could hardly be more different: in one case a backlash against neo-Nazi haters, in the other a revulsion for men and women who enlist in the defense of their country or their local community. I was as glad to see the Daily Stormer get the boot from the web-hosting companies as I was revolted to see Atlanta's cops and soldiers blackballed from a gym. I imagine many people feel the same way. But as an expression of freedom of association — the freedom of company X to accept or decline business from customer Y — the two cases are identical. GoDaddy has chosen (belatedly) to discriminate against neo-Nazis; EAV Barbell Club has chosen to discriminate against police and the military. In a free country, both choices are legitimate.

Freedom of association is as vital to American liberty as freedom of speech or religion. It ought to be protected as diligently in our economic life as it is in our social and political life. No law or court can tell you whom to befriend or what candidate to support or which neighborhood to live in. Neither should the state have anything to say about what company you're willing to do business with — or whether a company is willing to do business with you.
If you find yourself shaking your head along with Jacoby's argument, remember that dress designers are free to refuse service to Melania Trump. And then ask yourself whether a florist should also have the freedom to refuse to provide flowers for a gay wedding. You can either agree with all these economic decisions or disagree with all those choices, but it's difficult to draw some sort of line allowing the decisions you agree with and disallowing those you don't like.

If people dislike a business's decision, they are free to protest. That is also a First Amendment right. Businesses have to decide if they are willing to endure the publicity that will accompany any controversial decision. In these days of social media, it's so easy for outraged people to organize to protest choices that businesses don't like. And, as long as they're peaceful and allow access to the business, they're allowed to do so.

William A. Jacobson of Legal Insurrection highlight
s a relevant story to this point about a bakery in Oakland that has a a mural celebrating Rasmea Odeh. Jacobson reminds us who this woman was.
Rasmea Odeh is the former military member of the terrorist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine who was convicted in Israel in 1970 of the 1969 supermarket bombing that killed two Hebrew University students, Edward Joffe and Leon Kanner. She also was convicted of the attempted bombing of the British Consulate.

Rasmea lied on her immigration and naturalization applications to come to the U.S., denying that she ever had been convicted or imprisoned, or was a member of any terrorist group. On August 17, 2017, Rasmea was sentenced for immigration fraud to deportation and to be stripped of U.S. citizenship,
So this bakery is honoring a convicted terrorist that killed two students and tried to blow up the British Consulate.

Protesters are now standing vigil at the bakery holding up pictures of Rasmea's victims and posters saying "Honor the Victims, Not their killer."

The bakery owner is trying to get the shopping center to prevent the protesters from continuing their vigil. Some of the protesters have been physically attacked by anti-Israel activists. The bakery owner is also trying to get a restraining order against the protesters claiming that they are "targeting her "because of this mural and my identity as a Palestinian American." She describes Rasmea as a "Palestinian woman activist." Oh, is that what we're calling murderers these days - activists?

Just think of how different our country would be without the First Amendment?

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Democrats would like to blame the Republicans for the huge increases in Obamacare premiums. Their argument is that the failure to repeal the law that the Democrats passed is causing uncertainty and that is causing the premiums to rise by double digits. Guy Benson takes on that argument.
Let's be clear: There is some truth to that analysis, which some insurers have cited as a factor behind their rate hikes. And because the Trump administration keeps pushing off its decision on whether to continue President Obama's unlawful cost-sharing "stability" payments, carriers are operating in the dark, in terms of anticipating whether a major source of taxpayer funding might suddenly get yanked away. In order to hedge against this possible outcome, insurers say, they're exiting markets (in which they've already been racking up major losses) and raising their prices....

In any case, even if the sources of cost-sharing instability were clarified and dealt with definitively, Obamacare's unsustainable rate and access shock would still be marching forward. This isn't partisan conjecture; it's based on facts already in evidence prior to Trump taking office.
Benson links to an IBD editorial that explodes the Democrats' talking points.
The seeds of today's double-digit premium increases and collapsing competition were planted long before Trump took the oath of office. In fact, they were embedded right there in the law President Obama signed in 2010. Take a look at the ObamaCare-created nonprofit insurance co-ops. Democrats put this feature in the bill, and pumped $2.4 billion dollars into their creation, as a means to hold premiums down. Long before Trump arrived on the scene, however, most of the 23 co-ops had gone bankrupt, taking their taxpayer "loans" with them. Earlier this year, Minuteman Health, which sold plans in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, became the 19th co-op to go belly-up. Just four co-ops remain. The massive failure of ObamaCare's grand co-op experiment has forced hundreds of thousands of people to find other insurance plans.

Last week, Anthem announced that it was pulling out of Virginia, after it had already decided to abandon Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio. Trump's fault? Hardly. In early 2016, Anthem said it had "serious reservations" about the future of ObamaCare's markets and that it could pull out of them. When Aetna announced in May that it was getting out of the ObamaCare business entirely, it made its reason abundantly clear "Our individual commercial products lost nearly $700 million between 2014 and 2016, and are projected to lose more than $200 million in 2017 despite a significant reduction in membership." Aetna said these losses were the result of structural problems with the exchanges — not "uncertainty" caused by Republicans — which " led to co-op failures and carrier exits, and subsequent risk pool deterioration."
IBD points out that this cake was baked before the election even took place.
Meanwhile, at the behest of the Health and Human Services Department, McKinsey & Co looked at what was driving ObamaCare's huge premium increases from 2013 — the year before ObamaCare went into effect — through 2017. Note that insurers set their 2017 premiums before the November elections, and so had no reason to expect any "uncertainty" caused by Trump or Republicans. What did McKinsey find? That ObamaCare's onerous market regulations — called "guaranteed issue" and "community rating" — were responsible for the bulk of ObamaCare's skyrocketing premiums. In Tennessee, for example, these regulations accounted for almost three-quarters of the fourfold premium increase after ObamaCare went into effect.
The law is failing for exactly the same reasons that critics laid out back when the bill was being debated. It was crafted as if the Democrats never realized that people respond to incentives.
It requires all insurers to offer coverage to anyone who wants to buy it, including people with costly pre-existing conditions. Under those regulations, that expensive group cannot be charged significantly more than healthier people for the same plans. Due to this confluence of dynamics (including an array of "essential" health benefits that every compliant plan must cover), insurers were hoping that Obamacare's individual mandate would force throngs of "young invincibles" into the marketplace to offset the considerable added costs of covering older, sicker people. That has not happened, and the slow motion death spiral has been churning ever since reality that started to become clear. As the IBD editorial notes, even when Obama's unconstitutional payouts were reliably flowing, and Hillary Clinton's election appeared assured, big jolts were announced by the Obama administration. Individual market premiums on Obamacare's federal exchange have more than doubled, on average, between 2013 and 2017. That was all baked in on Obama's watch, not Trump's. There are various aggravating factors at play along the periphery of the law, but the primary driver of Obamacare's ongoing dysfunction is Obamacare itself.

According to the Congressman who almost was chosen to be the head of the DNC, Minnesota's Keith Ellison, Nancy Pelosi secretly supports implementing a single-payer health care system.
“I believe in — I’m signed onto H.R. 676 which is a single-payer health care act. They call it Medicare for all. Yeah, universal health care. Real single-payer health care. I’m on that. But let me tell you this,” Ellison said at a local party meeting in Minnesota last Wednesday, partial video of which was obtained by TheDC.

Ellison asked if anybody was recording him before proceeding.

“Is anybody taping me right now? OK, so, you may have heard that Nancy [Pelosi] is not for it, but that’s not really true,” Ellison said. “Nancy has to represent a very diverse caucus. She does not like getting out ahead of the caucus too fast. So she’s trying to get, she’s, you know, you know, she actually likes the concept.”

“She’s trying to get, you know, you know, she actually likes the concept. She says it’s the best way to do it. She says it’s the cheapest way to do it, but she’s got to make sure that she brings our Blue Dog friends along,” Ellison added. “And by the way, for any of us progressives who get mad at the Blue Dogs, if we didn’t have them, some of them would be replaced by Republicans.”
Of course, this shouldn't surprise anyone. And he's right about Blue Dog Democrats, though I'm not sure how many of those are left. But there's an argument for any Republican running against a moderate Democrat: a vote for my opponent will be a vote for a single-payer system if the Democrats take control of the House. It wouldn't get through the Senate or Trump's desk, but we know that is what the Democrats are hoping for.

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IF you didn't believe that the demands to remove Confederate statues would lead to all sorts of other demands to remove other statues such as those of Christopher Columbus, Thomas Jefferson, or George Washington, then think again. Not only is Joan of Arc now a target, but the mania for demanding statues being removed has spread to Great Britain where a writer in The Guardian, Afua Hirsch, has written that Nelson's column in Trafalgar Square should come down. The argument is that Nelson defended slavery. There are arguments we could be making about why some statues should be taken down and others shouldn't, but those arguments involve a degree of subtlety that today's environment doesn't allow. Whatever limit might be agreed upon will immediately be extended. Charles C. W. Cooke responds to this argument about Admiral Nelson and how the victory at Trafalgar paved the way for the British navy to rule the oceans. And they used that power to enforce the ban on the slave trade that Wilberforce finally got through Parliament. Nelson might have opposed the abolitionist movement, but it was his victory that made the end of the international slave trade possible. That is worth celebrating.
Did Nelson agree with Wilberforce on the question of slavery? No, he did not. And yet his unmatched tactical brilliance helped to pave the way both for Wilberforce’s ultimate triumph, and for the Pax Britannica in which that triumph was set. Indeed, after the British abolished the slave trade in 1807 — a move that seems obvious and natural now, but that was radical at the time — Nelson’s successors took manumission to heart. As the BBC noted in a recent review, “the Royal Navy’s role in the suppression of the transoceanic slave trades represents a remarkable episode of sustained humanitarian activity, involving patient diplomacy and problematic wrangling over treaty arrangements, dangerous and exacting naval operations, and intense political debate at home questioning the cost and purpose of the patrols.” And how, one has to ask, were the British able to do this? Because, thanks to Admiral Nelson, they enjoyed almost complete control of the seas.

You know how we're often told that we should be emulating Canada. Well, it seems that the much admired-by-the-left Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has taken an almost, dare we say it, Trumpian position on illegal immigration to Canada. It seems that a lot of people are entering Canada illegally, perhaps people who are worried about Trump's harsh rhetoric on cracking down on illegal immigration. Trudeau has criticized Trump for his words and tweeted out that Canada is open because "diversity is our strength."
Enforcement is enforcement, however, and no progressive message of inclusion could save Trudeau from having to uphold his country’s laws. He informed the refugees on Sunday that they would be expected to go through the country’s “rigorous” screening process, reminding them that illegal crossing doesn’t allow them to circumvent existing laws.

This shouldn’t surprise. Canada’s process is one of the most rigorous in the world. Refugees aside, those who wish to immigrate to Canada must contend with a merit-based system similar to the one Trump proposed earlier this month. Skilled labor, points for French- and English-language proficiency, and high levels of education are all pre-requisites. As Trudeau is discovering, tone does not an immigration policy make.
Of course, Democrats are strongly opposed to the idea that there should be some sort of merit-based system for immigration to the U.S., but that seems to be one Canadian policy that liberals don't want to emulate.

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If the Patriots wanted to be even more hated, this will do it
President Trump received a commemorative Super Bowl ring from longtime friend and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft after the team visited the White House in April.

A spokesman for the Patriots, Stacey James, told USA Today that Trump told Kraft during their White House visit how he was honored the Patriots were the first team to visit during his presidency.

The team gifted Trump a jersey and a helmet during the April trip, but Kraft wanted to do more.

James said Trump's customized ring is the same as what the Patriots players and staff received for winning the Super Bowl. The team's rings were crafted in 10-karat white gold and have 280 diamonds....

Presidents are prohibited from receiving gifts from foreign governments without approval from Congress, according to the Congressional Research Service, but the president can accept personal gifts from the American public or that are given "on the basis of personal friendship."

Personal gifts must be disclosed to the public on financial disclosure reports if they exceed a specific amount.

The value of Trump's Super Bowl ring from Kraft wasn't disclosed, but James said the goal was for it to be part of Trump's future Presidential Library once he leaves office.

In 2015, Kraft bought Super Bowl rings for the team that featured 200 diamonds and are worth $36,500 apiece.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Cruising the Web

Gret Lukianoff and Nico Perrino of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education write in Politico to explain why even detestable people such as Nazis deserve freedom of speech. They talk about student opinion on college campuses supporting limitations on free speech. And many people want to have a Nazi exception to the First Amendment so that Nazi supporters can be jailed as they can be in some European countries with the goal of stopping Naziism from spreading.
There are a few problems with this response that free speech advocates have long recognized. For one, it doesn’t necessarily work; since the passage of Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism laws in Europe, rates of anti-Semitism remain higher than in the U.S., where no such laws exist. In fact, the Anti-Defamation League found that rates of anti-Semitism have gone down in America since it first began measuring anti-Semitic attitudes in 1964.

What’s more, in the 1920s and 30s, Nazis did go to jail for anti-Semitic expression, and when they were released, they were celebrated as martyrs. When Bavarian authorities banned speeches by Hitler in 1925, for example, the Nazis exploited it. As former ACLU Executive Director Aryeh Neier explains in his book Defending My Enemy, the Nazi party protested the ban by distributing a picture of Hitler gagged with the caption, “One alone of 2,000 million people of the world is forbidden to speak in Germany.” The ban backfired and became a publicity coup. It was soon lifted.

We cannot forget, too, that laws have to be enforced by people. In the 1920s and early 30s, such laws would have placed the power to censor in the hands of a population that voted in large numbers for Nazis. And after 1933, such laws would have placed that power to censor in the hands of Hitler himself. Consider how such power might be used by the politician you most distrust. Consider how it is currently being used by Vladimir Putin in Russia.

What does history suggest as the best course of action to win the benefits of an open society while stemming the tide of authoritarians of any stripe? It tells us to have a high tolerance for differing opinions, and no tolerance for political violence. What distinguishes liberal societies from illiberal ones is that liberal societies use words, not violence or censorship to settle disputes. As Neier, a Holocaust survivor, concluded in his book, “The lesson of Germany in the 1920s is that a free society cannot be established and maintained if it will not act vigorously and forcefully to punish political violence.”

But we should not be so myopic about the value of freedom of speech. It is not just a practical, peaceful alternative to violence. It does much more than that: It helps us understand many crucial, mundane and sometimes troubling truths. Simply put, it helps us understand what people actually think—not “even if” it is troubling, but especially when it is troubling.

As Edward Luce points out in his excellent new short book The Retreat of Western Liberalism, there are real consequences to ignoring or wishing away the views that are held by real people, even if elites believe that those views are nasty or wrongheaded. Gay marriage champion and author Jonathan Rauch reminds us that in the same way that breaking a thermometer doesn’t change the temperature, censoring ideas doesn’t make them go away—it only makes us ignorant of their existence.

So what do we do about white supremacists? Draw a strong distinction between expression and violence: punish violence, but protect even speakers we find odious. Let them reveal themselves.

As Harvey Silverglate, a co-founder of our organization, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, says, it’s important to know who the Nazis are in the room.


Because we need to know not to turn our backs to them.
Well said.

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This story of Wal-Mart allying with Uber must make liberals' heads explode.
Wal-Mart is stirring the pot and defending its fast-growing online grocery business in the Dallas area by partnering with Uber to make home deliveries.

The test with Uber started last year in Phoenix and expanded Monday to Dallas and two Florida markets, Orlando and Tampa.

Eight stores in the Dallas area will fill the orders, and Wal-Mart's personal shoppers will pack groceries into "special cold pack bags," said Wal-Mart spokeswoman Anne Hatfield.

Kate Pavlich asks
why the media, always so determined to ask Republicans to condemn the #alt-right, don't ask Democrats to condemn the violence of Antifa?
But given the standard of necessary response that's been set by the media and the left, why is it that reporters aren't demanding Democrats condemn and disavow the far-left group Antifa? After all that group, responsible for torching American flags and throwing urine at Boston police officers over the weekend, believe they have the support of Hillary Clinton and other high profile liberals. Further, a number of people in media equated Antifa to World War II veterans last week because they claim to take on Nazism. DNC Deputy Chairman Keith Ellison classified Antifa as protestors who show the values President Trump does not.
For example, what about these actions in Boston this past weekend?
While thousands of very fine people may have gathered to condemn bigotry, at least some of them went to extremes that could hurt people. Fox News showed a protester assaulting a woman holding an American flag. Protesters also pelted police with rocks and bottles filled with urine. The Associated Press reports that 33 protesters taken into custody will be in court this week. “Arraignments are set for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in Boston Municipal Court,” says the A.P.

It’s unclear exactly how many of those present were very fine, but coverage of the event revealed significant numbers of “Antifa” activists wearing masks. CNN calls this “a tactic known as ‘black bloc’ that aims to unify demonstrators’ efforts and hide their identities.” Journal reader Kathleen Schauer asks why this is necessary if people are showing up to promote a righteous cause.

Harry Enten of FiveThirtyEight
dives into the number to try to figure out how many Republicans support the "populist, nationalist, and isolationist policies of Steve Bannon. The results might dismay many conservative Republicans.

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Nicole Gelinas makes a good point for those who think that the experiment of the "market economy" has been a failure proving that we should abandon free-market policies. The problem with that assumption is that the West doesn't have anything near free-market capitalism. Here are the definitions that economists provide.
What is free-market capitalism? Allan Meltzer, an economist at Carnegie Mellon, a Hoover Institution scholar, and onetime advisor to President Ronald Reagan, offers a classic definition. “As long as you engage in actions where your actions don’t impinge upon other people, you’re free to buy and sell anything you want,” he says, adding that free-market capitalism protects private property. Thomas Coleman, a hedge-fund veteran heading up an economic-policy shop at the University of Chicago, adds another key element: free-market capitalism functions best when people and companies can trade “without systemic distortion of prices.” Deirdre McCloskey, until last year a professor at the University of Illinois, and author of the recent book Bourgeois Equality, says, “I don’t like calling it capitalism, anyway, which was a word invented by our enemies. . . . I call it instead market-tested betterment, innov-ism. . . . That’s what’s made us rich.” McCloskey says that the heart of “betterment” is Adam Smith’s ideal of “every man to pursue his own interest in his own way”—and that “doesn’t mean a large government sector,” she emphasizes.

Free-market capitalism isn’t the same thing as radical libertarianism....To work well, capitalism needs “an environment where people can concentrate on being productive,” rather than, say, having private armies to assure personal safety. Free-market capitalism requires laws and rules, more than ever, now that more people live in close proximity in dense cities than ever before. Human activity leads to disputes, and disputes can be solved, or at least moderated, by resolutions that govern behavior.
Does this sound like what we have today? For example, think of all the laws that limit price hikes, set minimum wages, or regulate when and where buildings can be constructed. That isn't a free market. What country has totally open and free trade policies? Think of the subsidies that the government provides through tax breaks such as for mortgages or spending on health care.

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Why was this decision even made in the first place?
Cambridge University Press, the world's oldest publishing house, has changed its mind on censoring content in China.

The 485-year-old publisher, based in Ebgland, had agreed to suppress access to 300 articles from The China Quarterly that dealt with subjects sensitive to the Chinese authorities, including the Tiananmen Square massacre. China said the publisher would not be able to publish other material in the country if it didn't concur.

But it reversed its decision after a petition Monday signed by more than 600 academics from around the world protested what they called China's attempts to "export its censorship on topics that do not fit its preferred narrative."

Cambridge University, which owns the publisher, said the academic leadership of the university had reviewed the publisher's decision and agreed to reinstate immediately blocked content to "uphold the principle of academic freedom on which the university's work is founded."

Maxine Waters, one of the most clueless members of Congress, is at it again.
You already know that Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) has gone off the deep end on a consistent basis, whether it is peddling conspiracy theories about Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s (R-UT) resignation from Congress, or pushing for Donald Trump’s impeachment, she’s a politician who gives zero you know whats (I can’t use the word but it begins with “F”) when it comes to achieving her goals. Heck, you saw the shameless side when Water said it wasn’t fine for Trump to fire James Comey from the FBI, but she would have been okay with it if Hillary had won the election and done the exact same thing. Trump’s impeachment isn’t going to happen, but her fighting looks like she’s doing something up on the Hill.

Now, there’s a new circle of nutty. Waters has called Ben Carson a white nationalist. She lumped in the Housing and Urban Development secretary during a town hall event last Thursday. (links in original)
For some on the left, being a conservative is tantamount to being a white nationalist.

Not only are Republicans, by leftist definition, racist, but one writer for The Atlantic, finds racism in the path of the solar eclipse. Alice Ristroph, the article's author, traces the path of the solar eclipse and find that it passes, remarkably, over areas of the country mostly uninhabited by African Americans.
On August 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse will arrive mid-morning on the coast of Oregon. The moon’s shadow will be about 70 miles wide, and it will race across the country faster than the speed of sound, exiting the eastern seaboard shortly before 3 p.m. local time. It has been dubbed the Great American Eclipse, and along most of its path, there live almost no black people.

Presumably, this is not explained by the implicit bias of the solar system. It is a matter of population density, and more specifically geographic variations in population density by race, for which the sun and the moon cannot be held responsible. Still, an eclipse chaser is always tempted to believe that the skies are relaying a message. At a moment of deep disagreement about the nation’s best path forward, here comes a giant round shadow, drawing a line either to cut the country in two or to unite it as one. Ancient peoples watched total eclipses with awe and often dread, seeing in the darkness omens of doom. The Great American Eclipse may or may not tell us anything about our future, but its peculiar path could remind us of something about our past
Oregon is guilty because its 10% minority population includes few blacks. Then it goes through Idaho and Wyoming. Enough said. And, the census is also to blame because it's racist. After that come Nebraska, Kansas, and Missouri. And, somehow those states are to blame that people forget the history of the Missouri Compromise, but Bruce Springsteen composed an album, Nebraska, that tells us how bleak the area is. I'm not sure what her point is because it's so incoherent. She also observes that the total eclipse goes over Lincoln, Nebraska which has only 3.8% blacks but it won't pass in totality over Omaha which has 14$ blacks. Do what you will with that factoid. And get this, the eclipse will go over the prison at Leavenworth which must be racist because so many blacks are in prison there.

And how is this for a fatuously striking fact. The eclipse will go over St. Louis which has lots of blacks, but the totality is going over the southern half of the city while most of the blacks are in the northern half. It will miss Ferguson. I bet you're shaking your head right now at the unconscious racism this all reveals.

The eclipse will go through southern Illinois which used to have an active KKK. Then it heads over the south, Kentucky, Tennessee, and South Carolina. Phew! There it will pass over some African Americans, but it doesn't matter because those states were slave states.
Former slave-holding states are still the home to most of America’s black population. In Kentucky, Tennessee, and eventually South Carolina, the eclipse will finally pass over black Americans. Even here, though, the path of totality seems to mark the legacy of slavery and the persistence of segregation more than any form of inclusion. Kentucky permitted slavery but never seceded and instead tried to remain neutral during the Civil War. “I hope to have God on my side,” Lincoln reportedly said, “but I must have Kentucky.” Cautious, careful, incrementalist, the Emancipation Proclamation declared freedom only for slaves in rebel states and didn’t apply to border states like Kentucky. Nonetheless, the state grew increasingly disenchanted with Lincoln, and it would not ratify the Thirteenth Amendment (which formally abolishes slavery) until 1976.
Basically, she's taking the opportunity of the eclipse to put forth a history lesson from the whole premise that too much of our country has a racist path. And the eclipse is tracing that path.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Cruising the Web

Well, good riddance to Steve Bannon, but if people think that this will be the end to his influence on Trump, I'm afraid that those hopes are in vain. We keep hearing that Trump regularly calls his trusted friends and complain about his staff and the media. As long as he has his cell phone, Bannon will be just a call away. And now he'll use his perch at Breitbart to push his agenda even more fiercely. Though I'm not sure how that would be any different from what he's been doing. Does anyone seriously believe that he was holding himself totally independent from Breitbart since he started working for Trump?

The WSJ is crossing its metaphorical fingers that Bannon's departure will end his particularly deleterious effect on the Trump rpesidency.
Yet by any measure the rest of the Bannon Presidency was a colossal failure. The former Breitbart publisher was a major source of White House dysfunction as he brought his brawling campaign style indoors. His Manichean, almost apocalyptic view of politics—us vs. them, patriots vs. “globalists,” America has only a short time to avoid self-destruction—might work in an election campaign. It isn’t suitable to building a coalition to govern.

Mr. Bannon presided over some of Mr. Trump’s biggest debacles, starting with the rushed and legally unvetted travel ban. That began his Presidency with a needlessly polarizing debate when the White House should have been reaching out to persuadable Democrats and wary Republicans, and it set up Mr. Trump for a legal and political defeat.

Mr. Bannon gets credit in some quarters for focusing on the white working class, but he did so in ways that too often trucked with a white version of identity politics. This has played out in destructive fashion since the Charlottesville riot as Mr. Trump catered too much to Mr. Bannon’s “base” and not to the larger duty of a President to provide unifying moral leadership. Mr. Trump was elected President of the country, not the Breitbart readership.
THe WSJ points out how the media will enjoy seeing Bannon go after Republicans like GOP leaders in Congress or H.R. McMaster all of whom he reportedly despises and have been the targets of Breitbart for quite a while.
But what else is new? His allies have been doing the same for months while Mr. Bannon sat in the White House. It’s hard to see how he can do any more damage outside it, assuming that is his plan, and it may not be if he still wants Mr. Trump to succeed. One problem he’ll have on the outside is that millions of Trump supporters have now seen that the Bannon style of politics has failed....

The larger question is what Mr. Trump has learned from the failures of his first seven months. He seems to want less internal feuding, which is why he brought in Mr. Kelly, the former Marine general. But Mr. Trump often contributes to that feuding with his inability to stick to a decision, such as on troops in Afghanistan. Mr. Trump wants better communication, but his ill-considered tweets and unplanned riffs blow up any communication planning. He still traffics in false claims and divisive rhetoric—and that’s against his allies.
Exactly. Little will change because the source of disruption and confusion is the President himself, not Steve Bannon.
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Andrew McCarthy has a very good column about how the right should have been outraged at Trump's equivocation.
That doesn’t mean I didn’t notice the anti-fa thugs were out there. It doesn’t mean I don’t see the hard Left’s seditionist shock troops, at war with the country, much like the Weathermen, the Panthers, and the Black Liberation Army back in the day. As we’ve seen many times now (and will, alas, see many times more), the radical Left doesn’t need tiki-torch twits to spur them to arson and mayhem.

This time, though, in Charlottesville, the white supremacists were the instigators. They caused it. They orchestrated this disgusting event, they came ready for the violence they knew they were provoking, and one of them committed a murder.

If the roles were reversed, we wouldn’t want to hear a bunch of imbecilic “there’s blame on both sides” moral equivalence. We’d want the most culpable bunch called out and condemned, by name — and without any irrational hedging about phantom “very fine people” who confederate with sociopaths on the latter’s terms.

Making that distinction does not mean you can’t or shouldn’t call out anti-fa, too. But a young woman died here. And she didn’t die because, fully aware she was courting danger, she got herself into a scrap. She was standing where she had a right to be standing, expressing what she had a right to express, when she was murdered by a depraved racist who plowed a car into her and other human beings. Anyone commenting on this ghastly event ought to be able to prioritize his righteous rage. Especially if that anyone happens to be the president of the United States.

You have good reason to be upset that this president couldn’t meet that modest standard.
However, as McCarthy writes, people are just sick of how the left glorifies those who support violence and how the media ignores that fact. He points to the story of one leftist terrorist pardoned by Bill Clinton.
Susan Rosenberg was a terrorist in the early 1980s. Like her Weathermen comrades, she would have killed many people had she been a more competent terrorist. She was a fugitive plotting more bombings when she and a co-conspirator were captured in New Jersey, armed to the gills and toting over 700 pounds of dynamite. At her sentencing, she proclaimed, “Long live the armed struggle” against “U.S. imperialism.” Her only regret was that she hadn’t shot it out with the police who arrested her. A federal judge sentenced her to 58 years’ imprisonment.

I know her story well because, when she claimed she was being denied parole unlawfully, I spent over a year as the prosecutor arguing that the court should keep her in the slammer. Finally, the court ruled against her.

So . . . Bill Clinton sprang her.

Her commutation may have outraged most Americans, but it was celebrated by the nation’s “progressive” opinion elites, the same ones who were cool with President Clinton’s release of the FALN terrorists. Granted, Rosenberg didn’t get the hero’s welcome at New York City’s Puerto Rican Day parade received by Oscar Lopez Rivera — the FALN terrorist released by President Obama. The teaching gig the Left arranged for her wasn’t quite as prestigious and long-lived as the ones her fellow Weathermen — and Obama pals — Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn fell into. She’ll never be a t-shirt icon, like Che Guevara or Tupac Shakur. The campaign to pretend she was innocent won’t rival the Alger Hiss fairy tale. There will probably be no statue of her, much less a performing-arts center like the one in Princeton named for Paul Robeson.

But she hates America, so she’ll be remembered fondly in the places where the cultural tune is called. Her books — such as An American Radical: A Political Prisoner in My Own Country — will continue to be taken oh so seriously. Her Wikipedia entry does not describe her as a terrorist; it says Susan Rosenberg is a “radical political activist, author and advocate for social justice.”
We should condemn the neo-Nazis and white supremacists. That should be easy to do. Since when did it become hard to condemn those waving swastikas? But why is the left so slow to condemn those who are violent on their side?
People are fed up. If you dare notice the radical Left, you are not an observer of objective fact, you are a neo-Nazi sympathizer. If you dare notice that many of the “peaceful protesters” were swinging batons and spraying chemicals, you need a re-education course in “unconscious racism.”

News about a radical leftist’s attempted mass murder of Republican House members that left Representative Steve Scalise on the brink of death faded quickly away — just a few days’ Kumbaya coverage along the lines of “Shaken Democrats joined Republicans in expressing outrage, etc., etc.” But on Thursday in Barcelona, when Muslim terrorists reverted to the car jihad they have been using quite notoriously for years, the media speculated that the terrorist killing of 13 people by careening a van along a crowded street might just be a Charlottesville “copycat” attack. You get it: Islamic terrorists are just like the Klan, are just like bourgeois Americans in the Age of Trump.
....What bothers many ordinary Americans is that there is far more uproar over a statue of Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville than over one of Vladimir Lenin in Seattle. What bothers us is that elite opinion’s determination to conceal the presence of anti-fa at last weekend’s bloody debacle — the better to smear the American Right with the alt-right — is just phase one. Inevitably, phases two and three will follow: The presence of leftist radicals is grudgingly admitted but rationalized as a necessary defense against monstrous evil; then, in time, their presence is venerated as exemplary courage against a monstrously evil society.

Donald Trump’s buffoonery is self-defeating, but there is shrewdness beneath it. He grasps, in a way the people who cover him don’t seem to, that much of the country is sick of being told the country sucks. There are racists and they should be condemned without equivocation. But their existence in ever smaller numbers does not mean we are living in AmeriKKKa, or that there is high virtue in anti-Americanism.

Jonah Goldberg brings s
ome logic to those who are defending and even praising antifa as somehow noble because they're opposing the neo-Nazis.
Fighting Nazis is a good thing, but fighting Nazis doesn’t necessarily make you or your cause good. By my lights this is simply an obvious fact.

The greatest Nazi-killer of the 20th century was Josef Stalin. He also killed millions of his own people and terrorized, oppressed, enslaved, or brutalized tens of millions more. The fact that he killed Nazis during the Second World War (out of self-preservation, not principle) doesn’t dilute his evil one bit.

This should settle the issue as far as I’m concerned. Nazism was evil. Soviet Communism was evil. It’s fine to believe that Nazism was more evil than Communism. That doesn’t make Communism good.
And the same logic applies to those calling themselves Antifa.

Perhaps someone could get the word to the New York Times that the Soviet Union wasn't quite as much as they're trying to crack it up to be. They've been running a series on the 100-year anniversary of the Communist revolution. This exceedingly stupid article by Kristen Ghodsee arguing that "Women Had Better Sex Under Socialism." You know, because those gulags really did wonders for fun in the sack. No, that was not an Onion parody. Inez Feltscher writes at The Federalist to point out the obvious that, apparently, didn't occur to Ms. Ghodsee.
There is just enough truth in The New York Times article to bolster its radical message. Just as the Roaring Twenties in the United States swept in many changes in women’s social roles, so too the 1920s in the Soviet Union brought a period of genuine sexual libertinism and experimentation, encouraged by the vanguard of communist intellectuals that populated Russian cafes. In the early days after the Bolshevik Revolution, people—especially those far away from the bloody revolution itself—could be more easily forgiven for thinking that communism was going to lead to a happier, more prosperous future, given that most of the twentieth-century examples of its barbarism had yet to occur.

But the reality of life in the Warsaw Pact was decidedly different than the picture Ghodsee paints in her column. My father, who grew up in Communist Poland, describes the women he recalls, married in their 20s and 30s, as “exhausted,” spending most of their time outside of working hours standing in lines and feverishly combing contacts to scrape together the bare necessities for their households.

If American feminists think their “second shift”—working full-time and still remaining primarily responsible for domestic duties—is a burden, they should try to imagine the average woman’s life in communist paradise, where women went without capitalism’s time-saving household appliances and frequently confronted empty grocery shelves.

The laundry list of progressive policies listed in the article—government-paid maternity leave, mandated equality in work, daycare centers to remove parental responsibilities and rear the new generation of homo sovieticus—nowhere near made up for being turned away from the toilet paper line.

And as soon as female liberation came up against the needs of the communist state, those benefits were reversed, as happened in Ceausescu’s Romania. Romania was one of the most “sexually liberated” countries in the Warsaw Pact, but when its government leaders decided it needed more Romanians, contraception and abortion not only lost state support, but became punishable by law virtually overnight.

Yes, Ms. Ghodsee, in communist societies, men and women were equal: equally poor and afraid of their own government.
Aren't there any editors at the New York Times who might have questioned such a column? The fact that they published it tells us a lot about the journalistic practices of the newspaper for which Walter Duranty, Stalin's apologist wrote.

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Charles C.W. Cooke has some fun satirizing the argument put forth in a New York Times column by K-Sue Park, a housing attorney and Critical Race Studies fellow at the UCLA Law School, that the ACLU should stop providing legal help to protect the free speech of those on the right.
Park is correct. It is high time that the ACLU moved onto the right side of History and abandoned the “narrow reading” of the First Amendment that is the result of 50 years of unanimous Supreme Court precedent. In lieu, it must focus on working toward more diverse and productive ends, such as giving Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump the robust censorship powers that they so richly and urgently deserve. The United States federal government is now run at every level by Republicans. So, indeed, are the lion’s share of the governors’ mansions, statehouses, and localities. If the ACLU really knuckles down, it can ensure that these figures — and not pernicious “neutral” principle — determine the edges and contours of America’s civil society.

Don’t bore me with your objections. Park is a smart woman, and she knows what “hate” is. We all do. Hate is hate. It is not speech; it’s hate. Sometimes hate is violence, even when no action is attached. How do I know, you might ask? I know because hate is, by definition, hateful, and that means it’s not speech. And why isn’t it speech? Because it’s hate, and hate isn’t speech. This is basic common sense, rejected only by haters.

The ACLU insists that “preventing the government from controlling speech is absolutely necessary to the promotion of equality.” But more sensible thinkers grasp that quite the opposite is true. As Park notes, any defense of the status quo “perpetuates a misguided theory that all radical views are equal.” They’re not, and, in consequence, an arbiter is necessary. At first, that should be the ACLU, which should simply let some censorship be – or, even better, start endorsing it. And eventually, having been freed up by the ACLU’s backing away from what Park notes correctly is “only First Amendment case law,” the government itself should assume that role. Then, and only then, will some space have been cleared for the wise.

We have an array of differing views in this country, but I think we can all agree that nobody could be better suited to that oversight role than Jeff Sessions, President Donald Trump, and the thousands upon thousands of state-level Republicans who have been recently swept into office by the infallible will of the people.

Michael Shermer writes in Scientific American
to trace the roots of intolerance for free speech on college campus back to postmodernism. He points out that there is
a shift in Marxist theory from class conflict to identity politics conflict; instead of judging people by the content of their character, they are now to be judged by the color of their skin (or their ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, et cetera). “Postmodernists have tried to hijack biology, have taken over large parts of political science, almost all of anthropology, history and English,” Maitra concludes, “and have proliferated self-referential journals, citation circles, non-replicable research, and the curtailing of nuanced debate through activism and marches, instigating a bunch of gullible students to intimidate any opposing ideas.”
Students are being taught by these postmodern professors that there is no truth, that science and empirical facts are tools of oppression by the white patriarchy, and that nearly everyone in America is racist and bigoted, including their own professors, most of whom are liberals or progressives devoted to fighting these social ills. Of the 58 Evergreen faculty members who signed a statement “in solidarity with students” calling for disciplinary action against Weinstein for “endangering” the community by granting interviews in the national media, I tallied only seven from the sciences. Most specialize in English, literature, the arts, humanities, cultural studies, women's studies, media studies, and “quotidian imperialisms, intermetropolitan geography [and] detournement.” A course called “Fantastic Resistances” was described as a “training dojo for aspiring ‘social justice warriors’” that focuses on “power asymmetries.”
If you teach students to be warriors against all power asymmetries, don't be surprised when they turn on their professors and administrators. This is what happens when you separate facts from values, empiricism from morality, science from the humanities.

Clay Routledge, a psychology at North Dakota State University explains why so many conservatives are feeling antagonistic toward colleges.
They [conservatives] have learned that when the social justice agenda and truth collide, the social justice agenda typically wins. They have learned that professors who offer divergent perspectives are often ostracized and silenced, and that surveys reveal many liberal professors admit they would discriminate against a potential conservative colleague. They have learned that on many campuses conservative speakers or even liberal speakers who do not conform to far-left campus orthodoxy are routinely shouted down or shut out entirely. They have learned that far-left campus activists have destroyed property, threatened violence, and on occasion even engaged in violence with little or no penalty. They have learned that safe spaces, trigger warnings, and bias response teams are often used tactically to silence opinions not deemed sufficiently progressive. They have learned that at some colleges student governments have tried to prevent the existence of conservative student groups. They have learned that many conservative students feel they must keep their political beliefs hidden. I could keep going.

Critically, these are all demonstrably real issues, not right-wing fantasies. It is important to note that daily life on most college campuses is routine and incident free, and this fact is often forgotten. Also, some colleges and universities have done an excellent job avoiding any drama. But it is undeniable that there is a growing authoritarian, anti-free speech, anti-conservative, and, frankly, anti-science, movement happening in American academia.

Try the following thought exercise. Imagine all of these problems in academia and swap the political association from left to right. Imagine conservatives largely control the academy, particularly the fields that have the most to say about social and cultural life. Imagine the social sciences and humanities treat conservative activism as scholarly work. Imagine conservative scholars and activists calling any empirical evidence they don’t like shoddy and prejudiced. Imagine conservative academics ostracizing or silencing anyone who voices a divergent perspective. Imagine that research reveals conservative professors want to prevent liberal academics from joining their ranks. Imagine it is liberal speakers being shouted down or disinvited. Imagine far-right student protestors destroying property and threatening or committing violence against liberal professors, students, and speakers. Imagine conservative controlled student governments trying to prevent liberals from having their own student organizations. Imagine liberal students feeling they need to keep their political beliefs hidden.

With this alternative academic universe in mind, now tell me that liberal media outlets wouldn’t be giving a considerable amount of attention to campus culture and Democrats wouldn’t see colleges as having a negative impact on our country.
I often find such thought exercises very helpful in calibrating how I feel about stories I read. If only liberals could try the same thought exercise. With the list the Routledge just cited and ask yourself is it so bizarre that a recent Pew poll found that 58% of Republicans agreed that "colleges and universities have a negative effect on the country."
Many on the left not only blame conservative media for shifting views among Republicans, they also argue that conservatives are anti-education. First, keep in mind the concerns about campus culture and the ideological biases of certain fields I just discussed. Now, add worries shared by many Americans regarding the economic value of many degrees, the rising cost of a college education, and financially debilitating student loan debt. People shouldn’t assume that faltering faith in American colleges and the academic class reflects a disdain for education. Maybe Republicans see real issues that fall within the liberal blind spot.

Progressive academics and activists often fancy themselves as people who speak truth to power. For many potential students struggling to find their way in an increasingly competitive and economically uncertain world, colleges and universities hold a lot of power. Those in control of colleges and scholarly disciplines need to take a hard look in the mirror and consider some unpleasant facts about the current state of academia....he idea that Republicans don’t care about education and are being manipulated by right-wing media is more of a comforting lie for liberals than an inconvenient truth for conservatives.

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Great wisdom from Charles Barkley.

Here is a handy list of monuments that liberals want to tear down. I'm sure it will grow by the hour.

We can add in Joan of Arc in New Orleans. Somehow, she's an offense to some. And now the horse mascot for USC, Traveler is being criticized because Robert E. Lee's horse was named Traveller.

It does amuse me to hear the Democrats, such as Nancy Pelosi, calling for Paul Ryan to pull down the statues commemorating Confederates in Statuary Hall in the Capitol. Hmmm, wasn't Nancy Pelosi once the Speaker of the House? Why didn't she do anything about it then? Was she held up on that just as she was held up on the dress code that she is also calling on Ryan to change?

Friday, August 18, 2017

Cruising the Web

We can tell how fed up some of Trump's administration are with him by the way they're leaking about him. They've progressed from leaking to attack other people in the administration to talking to the media to make him look bad as we can see from this Politico article.
“In some ways, Trump would rather have people calling him racist than say he backed down the minute he was wrong,” one adviser to the White House said on Wednesday about Charlottesville. “This may turn into the biggest mess of his presidency because he is stubborn and doesn't realize how bad this is getting.”

For Trump, anger serves as a way to manage staff, express his displeasure or simply as an outlet that soothes him. Often, aides and advisers say, he’ll get mad at a specific staffer or broader situation, unload from the Oval Office and then three hours later act as if nothing ever occurred even if others still feel rattled by it. Negative television coverage and lawyers earn particular ire from him.

White House officials and informal advisers say the triggers for his temper are if he thinks someone is lying to him, if he’s caught by surprise, if someone criticizes him, or if someone stops him from trying to do something or seeks to control him.
Gee, what are the chances that a president will be caught by surprise, criticized, have people lie to him or try to get him to do something? If those are his triggers, he must be angry all the time. Politico uses these anonymous leaks to explain the Trump tweet on transgenders in the military.
In one stark example, the president’s dislike of being told what to do played a role in his decision to abruptly ban all transgender people from the military: a move opposed by his own defense secretary, James Mattis, and the head of the Coast Guard, who vowed not to honor the president’s decree.

The president had grown tired of White House lawyers telling him what he could and could not do on the ban and numerous other issues such as labor regulations, said one informal White House adviser. While multiple factors were in play with the transgender ban, Trump has grown increasingly frustrated by the lawyers’ calls for further study and caution, so he took it upon himself to tweet out the news of the ban, partly as a reminder to the lawyers who’s in charge, the adviser said.
Beyond what a crazy way that is for a president to make policy, it's also revealing that his people are still willing to leak stories to make him look bad. Despite all the warnings about hunting out leakers, they're still doing it.

Lots of presidents have had bad temper, but Trump often seems to be driven by his anger. And that fury leads him to make some of the more bone-headed steps of his presidency. The best thing these staffers can say is that his temper isn't provoked by major threats or incidents; it's more about when he perceives that he's been attacked or wronged personally. And given that he's being attacked just about every single day, he is finding a lot to be angry about.

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Guy Benson links to a tweetstorm that Jake Tapper posted noting that there was indeed violence that comes from the left. Tapper links to stories of journalists who were assaulted by Antifa thugs.
Benson notes that the
Antifa defends themselves by saying that the journalist shouldn't have been documenting what they were doing so they attacked him.
A journalist doing his job by filming rioters is a "threat to safety," you see -- not the rioters. And for failing to get their "consent" for doing his job, he's sort of like a rapist. These people aren't just violent liars; they're insane violent liars.
Hmmm, it sounds like blaming the victim, doesn't it?

Peter Hasson does what a lot of journalists haven't done - go read what the Antifa and other far-left say in their own words. And it's pretty horrifying stuff.
A common mantra among far-left groups beginning shortly before the inauguration: make America “ungovernable.”

“We need to make this country ungovernable,” declared a female leader for Refuse Fascism shortly after the inauguration. “We need to do what the German people should have done when Hitler was elected.”

Refuse Fascism was a driving force behind the violent, politically motivated riots in Berkeley....

Another far-left group at Charlottesville last weekend: the Workers World Party, a group of Marxist-Leninist revolutionaries who have declared their support for Kim Jong Un’s murderous dictatorship in North Korea. Workers World’s publication has consistently published propaganda-like screeds supporting Venezuela’s murderous regime.

The communist group “sent many of its members to Charlottesville, Va., to beat back the Nazis and Klan who marched there,” according to a post recapping the group’s participation in the weekend’s violence.

The group took credit for organizing the vandals who toppled a city-owned Confederate statue in Durham, North Carolina this week.

Workers’ World’s stated goals are classic Marxism, including igniting an international socialist revolution and “the shutdown of the Pentagon and the use of the war budget” — that is, the funding for the Department of Defense — “to improve the lives of the working class and especially the oppressed peoples.” (links in the original)
Just as it it disturbing that there are people out there who embrace Nazi slogans and paraphernalia, it is also unbelievable that there are such fervent socialists out there that they support Kim Jon Un.

Katherine Timpf has some questions for the nation's socialists whose numbers have grown since Bernie Sanders ran for president. The progressive wing of the Democratic Party (which is most of the party these days) should also provide an answer.
But another part is the way that progressives routinely portray their economic platform as being morally superior. The holier-than-thou branding is everywhere; just think about how often progressives accuse economic conservatives of wanting to kill sick people, just because they believe that the free market can solve problems. The ultra-liberal are the “generous” ones, the ones who want to “give” you things like health care. The conservatives are the mean, old ogres who want to take those things away.

The popularity of the Democratic Socialists seems to suggest that these kinds of tactics are working, and I have just one question: Just how in the hell do so many people seem to believe that it’s “generous” to spend other people’s money?

Let me clear this up for the people who don’t seem to understand: Progressive politicians are not people who are going to “give” you health care, because in order to “give” something, then it has to be yours to give away in the first place. Think about it: If your boyfriend were to surprise you with dinner and a present, then you’d probably be quite happy and thank him for giving you those things. But if you found out that your boyfriend had actually paid for those things using your credit card? Well, then you’d probably think much less of it, and maybe you’d remind him that the only way that that could count as “giving” would be if he were nine and you were his mother. People who advocate for progressive politicians are not advocating gratitude; they’re advocating for big government, plain and simple.

Believing in the ability of big government to solve problems doesn’t make you any better than the people who believe in shrinking government to solve them; it just means that you have a different view of economics. And the politicians who promise to “give” you health care, welfare, and other benefits in exchange for votes aren’t really promising to “give” those things at all; they’re promising to take resources from others in order to fulfill their promises, without ever having to feel the pinch themselves.
Shorter version: There is still no such thing as a free lunch.

Sarah Hoyt is not impressed with the numbers of the white supremacists who showed up in Virginia. One report in the Washington Post gives the number on Friday night at 250. I'm not sure how many were there on Saturday, but Hoyt gives the number at 400. Even if the number is larger, it's still not a very large number.
[I]f there were four hundred neo-Nazis (and that’s assuming some of them weren’t just stupid) there, which there probably weren’t, that’s one in every seven hundred and fifty thousand people in America.

To put this in perspective, the number of people in the U.S. who believe in Big Foot, the number of people who believe in UFOs, the number of flat-earthers, the number of people who believe Star Trek is “all true” and probably the number of people who believe that you, yes, you, Mr. Smith from Main Street in Centerville USA are a dinosaur in disguise -- all these numbers are far more than four hundred.

In fact, you can’t name a belief stupid enough that it doesn’t have at least four hundred adherents somewhere in the USA. And this doesn’t mean that we’re particularly crazy or stupid, no. It just means that in a nation of three hundred million, you’re going to find a lot of crazy, off beat, and strange people.
Yes, it's disturbing that there are any people in the United States who would rally to racist and anti-Semitic slogans to march under Nazi flags. But that's still not a sign of a great wave of racism and Nazi sympathies sweeping the nation. There were over 900 people who were willing to travel to Guyana to follow Jim Jones and followed his directions to commit suicide after having killed a congressman and those with him. The country contains some very wacky and, unfortunately, violent people. But they are the fringe.

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And those white nationalists are finding some unfortunate news for themselves as they take genetic tests to prove their own racial purity. The results are sometimes not quite what they hoped for.
With the rise of spit-in-a-cup genetic testing, there’s a trend of white nationalists using these services to prove their racial identity, and then using online forums to discuss the results.

But like Cobb, many are disappointed to find out that their ancestry is not as “white” as they’d hoped. In a new study, sociologists Aaron Panofsky and Joan Donovan examined years’ worth of posts on Stormfront to see how members dealt with the news.

It’s striking, they say, that white nationalists would post these results online at all. After all, as Panofsky put it, “they will basically say if you want to be a member of Stormfront you have to be 100% white European, not Jewish.”

But instead of rejecting members who get contrary results, Donovan said, the conversations are “overwhelmingly” focused on helping the person to rethink the validity of the genetic test. And some of those critiques — while emerging from deep-seated racism — are close to scientists’ own qualms about commercial genetic ancestry testing.

Panofsky and Donovan presented their findings at a sociology conference in Montreal on Monday. The timing of the talk — some 48 hours after the violent white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va. — was coincidental. But the analysis provides a useful, if frightening, window into how these extremist groups think about their genes.
Of course, instead of questioning their odious views, they attack the tests.

Ross Douthat also thinks that people need to calm down and step back to apocalyptic predictions that we're headed for some new civil war If they're not predicting an 1861-style civil war, perhaps, several commentators think we're heading to a period similar to the 1960s and 1970s.
But we are still not close to even that level of breakdown, nowhere close to the social chaos and revolutionary fervor that gave us 2,500 bombings in 18 months during Richard Nixon’s first term. The chaos during Trump’s ascent and presidency has been extreme by the standards of recent politics but not by the standards of America’s worst periods of crisis.
People just seem to want to think that anything they're living through is either the worst of times or the best of times. But let's have some historical perspective. Douthat can explain the "civil-war anxieties" roiling the commentariat. Beyond how the media and Trump exacerbate tensions and social media kick everything up several notches, we have to remember how divided we are these days.
Our divisions are partisan: The parties are more ideologically polarized than at any point in the 20th century, and party loyalty increasingly shapes not just votes but social identity, friendship, where you live and whom you hope your children dominant in

Our divisions are religious: The decline of institutional Christianity means that we have no religious center apart from Oprah and Joel Osteen, the metaphysical gap between the secularist wing of liberalism and religious traditionalists is far wider than the intra-Christian divisions of the past, and on the fringes you can see hints of a fully post-Christian and post-liberal right and left.

Our divisions are racial and ethnic and class-based and generational, conspicuously so in the Trump era. And they are geographic: The metropolis versus the hinterland, the coasts against the middle of the country. It would not be hard to sketch lines on a map partitioning the U.S.A. into two or three or four more homogeneous and perhaps more functional republics. And if you imagined some catastrophe suddenly dissolving our political order and requiring us to start anew, it is not at all clear that we would be able to forge a reunited republic, a second continental nation.
He points out that, while conservative might be dominant today in the federal government and in many states, liberalism rules elsewhere.
Meanwhile liberalism dominates the cultural commanding heights as never before, with not only academia and the media but also late-night television and sportswriting and even young-adult fiction more monolithically and — to conservatives — oppressively progressive.
The result is that people on both sides are feeling threatened and angry. But Douthat does have some optimism.
Thus described, it may sound remarkable that we haven’t plunged into domestic chaos and civil strife already. But not every American is a partisan, there is still more to life than politics for most of us, and under the right circumstances people with deep differences can live together in peace for a great while — so long as events do not force a crisis, so long as the great political or social questions don’t feel so existential and zero-sum that they cannot be managed or endured.

Slavery was such an existential issue — but its closest analogue today, abortion, does not lie so close to the center of our politics. Race, immigration and religious liberty are all volatile, but the specific controversies are more incremental than existential: Voter-ID laws are not Jim Crow, and toppling Confederate statues isn’t Reconstruction; refugee restrictions aren’t internment camps; fights over the rights of Christian businesses and colleges are not a persecution.

An economic crisis can spur a crackup. But our wealth and the welfare state both cushion us substantially, as we saw after the Great Recession....

Things are getting worse in many ways, and the rest of the Trump era does not promise much in the way of healing and reconciliation. But despite what scripture tells us, in politics a house divided against itself can sometimes stand for quite a while — so long as most people prefer its roof to the rain and wind, and relatively few have a clear and pressing incentive to start knocking down the walls.
I find myself finding comfort in Adam Smith's observation after the British lost the battle of Saratoga that "There is a great deal of ruin in a nation."