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Monday, June 27, 2016

Cruising the Web

Donald Trump vows to continue the behaviors that have so angered conservatives about Obama.
Donald Trump may be one of Barack Obama's toughest critics, but when it comes to the president's use of executive orders to circumvent Congress, the Republican sees him as a role model.

Trump has already promised to be as aggressive as Obama on executive orders on a wide range of issues. Early in his campaign, for instance, he vowed to use the power of the pen to give all cop killers the death penalty. More recently, in his response to the shooting death of 49 people inside an Orlando gay club this month, he pledged to use executive power to implement one of his signature proposals: A temporary ban on Muslim immigration (even though the shooter was born in New York).
Of course, Hillary Clinton would behave the same way with executive actions. This is what happens - once that executive power gets stretched, it's quite unlikely for it to snap back.

This is what we've come to: even al Qaeda is politically correct.
Lone wolf jihadists should target white Americans so no one mistakes their terror attacks for hate crimes unrelated to the cause of radical Islam, Al Qaeda writes in the latest edition of its online magazine.

In an article first reported by The Foreign Desk, Al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) called for more self-directed Muslim terrorists to kill in America. But the article, titled “Inspire guide: Orlando operation,” tells terrorists to “avoid targeting places and crowds where minorities are generally found” because if gays or Latinos appear to be the targets, “the federal government will be the one taking full responsibility.”

The Democratic Party goes all in on disregarding freedom of speech.
Democratic operatives responsible for creating their party’s platform this year have unanimously adopted a provision calling for the Department of Justice to investigate companies who disagree with Democrats on global warming science.

A panel of Democrats voted Friday to approve a final draft of the party’s platform to promote “Progressive Democratic Values,” which apparently includes investigating energy companies who “misled” shareholders about global warming.

“Another joint proposal calling on the Department of Justice to investigate alleged corporate fraud on the part of fossil fuel companies who have reportedly misled shareholders and the public on the scientific reality of climate change was also adopted by unanimous consent,” according to the Democratic National Convention’s website.

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We have enough trouble in education today, but Washington state figures that time in Kindergarten should be taken to educate the youngsters on gender identity.
While some aspects of sexual health aren’t taught K-12 (HIV prevention begins in fourth grade), one component of sexual health titled “Self-Identity” begins in kindergarten, where students will be expected to “Understand there are many ways to express gender.”
Just what five-year olds need to be learning. They have enough trouble mastering the alphabet and numbers.

Megan McArdle writes on Brexit and the meltdown among elites.
The inability of those elites to grapple with the rich world’s populist moment was in full display on social media last night. Journalists and academics seemed to feel that they had not made it sufficiently clear that people who oppose open borders are a bunch of racist rubes who couldn’t count to 20 with their shoes on, and hence will believe any daft thing they’re told. Given how badly this strategy had just failed, this seemed a strange time to be doubling down. But perhaps, like the fellow I once saw lose a packet by betting on 17 for 20 straight turns of the roulette wheel, they reasoned that the recent loss actually makes a subsequent victory more likely, since the number has to come up sometime.

Or perhaps they were just unable to grasp what I noted in a column last week: that nationalism and place still matter, and that elites forget this at their peril. A lot people do not view their country the way some elites do: as though the nation were something like a rental apartment -- a nice place to live, but if there are problems, or you just fancy a change, you’ll happily swap it for a new one.

In many ways, members of the global professional class have started to identify more with each other than they have with the fellow residents of their own countries. Witness the emotional meltdown many American journalists have been having over Brexit....

Trying to build the state without the nation has led to the mess that is the current EU. And to Thursday's election results.

Elites missed this because they're the exception -- the one group that has a transnational identity. And in fact the arguments for the EU look a lot like the old arguments for national states: a project that will empower people like us against the scary people who aren’t.

Unhappily for the elites, there is no “Transnationalprofessionalistan” to which they can move. (And who would trim the hedges, make the widgets, and staff the nursing homes if there were?) They have to live in physical places, filled with other people whose loyalties are to a particular place and way of life, not an abstract ideal, or the joys of rootless cosmopolitanism.

Charles C.W. Cooke, a British emigrant to the U.S., is also struck at the contempt that Remainers show to those who voted for Leave.
I have spent quite a lot of time in the U.K. over the last month, and I have been startled by the condescension, the disdain, and the downright bullying that I have seen from advocates within the Remain camp. That this morning I am seeing precisely the same attitudes on display has left me wondering whether the British chattering classes are capable of learning new tricks. More than 17 million voters opted for Leave yesterday, and yet to take their opponents at face value would be to conclude that this vast and diverse coalition of citizens was little more than a revanchist, hate-filled, antediluvian rump. It is certainly the case that the center-right opted overwhelmingly for exit. But it is notable that the election was won not on the playing fields of Eton or in the leafy gardens of England’s Home Counties, but in the industrial Northeast and the blue-collar Midlands. Indeed, as the Mirror and others have observed, Leave’s margin was provided not by a surfeit of conservatives, but by working-class social democrats who traditionally vote Labour but whose concerns are increasingly out of sync with the rest of their party. (This, incidentally, is another reason that Parliament could not get away with ignoring the result of the referendum: Because UKIP is nipping at Labour’s heels throughout the country — and because there is strong anti-EU sentiment among at least a third of Labour voters — the Labour party’s leadership knows that to sign onto any coup would be to sign its own electoral death warrant.)

In our present climate, it is customary for cosmopolitan sorts to accuse anybody who dissents from the European project of being an unreconstructed “nationalist.” Insofar as this describes the dissenters’ desire to return power to their own parliament and to ensure that their vote matters as much as it should, it is an accurate term. Outside of that, however, it is a slur, and a damnable one at that. George Orwell contended that the difference between patriotism and nationalism was that patriotism involved “devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people,” while nationalism “is inseparable from the desire for power.” By this definition at least, Britain’s decision to extricate itself from the EU was patriotic, not nationalistic. Indeed, if there is any group within the debate that seeks to impose “a particular way of life . . . on other people,” it is the one that wants ever-closer integration into Europe, and, eventually, a federal super-state.

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David French rightly rejects the idea that the EU had anything to do with maintaining peace in Europe.
But of all the outsized claims of EU perfection, few are more galling than the utterly idiotic notion that it has kept the peace in Europe. What ahistorical nonsense. NATO has kept the peace in Europe, and America has been NATO’s indispensable power.

Since 1945, we’ve stationed troops (for decades they numbered in the hundreds of thousands) throughout the western part of the continent. Those troops — and only those troops — kept the Soviet Union from swallowing western democracies. Remove America (and the American nuclear deterrent), and nothing would have stopped Soviet expansionism.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, the U.S. drew down its military presence, the EU (founded in 1993) assumed a larger role in European affairs, and — guess what? — the peace frayed at the edges. The vicious Balkan wars erupted, and Europe did precisely nothing meaningful until America intervened. More recently, the vaunted “moral superpowers” at the EU stood by and watched Russia invade the Ukraine and annex the Crimea. And now that same EU is not only a marginal player in the fight against ISIS, it actually helped open Europe’s borders to a destructive tide of radicalized migrants.

Jonah Goldberg writes
in defense of nationalism, an ideology much in disfavor by the world's intellectuals.
For Israelis, the referendum fight helps explain their unpopularity among European elites. If nationalism is primitive and infantile and dangerous, it is no wonder that Israel is criticized endlessly and its efforts to defend itself are seen as excessive. Its basic demand — to be understood and acknowledged as a Jewish state — is itself considered illicit; ethno-national states are out of the question these days. Defending your state with actual guns is positively medieval in the eyes of today’s European leaders.

Americans beg to differ, and that’s a reason that Israel is more popular here. Believing in your country and defending it with your army is considered patriotic here, not primitive. The sacrifice of sovereignty to bureaucrats abroad would offend Americans just as it offends so many Britons. All this helps explain Donald Trump’s successes this year, for he speaks a language of nationalism: defending borders and controlling immigration, for example, which was also a central issue in the British debate. That call to “Make America Great Again” is a reflection of nationalism, and it has found a wide audience.

Of course there were other elements in the Brexit vote, some of which are also found in our campaigns. The rejection of elite advice is one; both the Trump primary victory and the Brexit vote reflect a mistrust of the capital, the main political institutions, and policy elites....

There is an international side of this, too. Americans are not worried about their relationship with Brussels. But they are bothered by a sense of declining American sway in the world. Polls find that Americans believe their country is playing a less important and less powerful role in the world than in years past, that the world is growing more dangerous, and that the Obama administration is not tough enough. They see the president stiffing allies and friends — threatening the British, distancing from Israel — and trying to cozy up to enemies such as Russia and Iran. They see Obama making a pilgrimage to Hiroshima and palling around with Raúl Castro.

Whatever Obama is displaying, it is not nationalism, not a plan to rebuild American greatness and military power. He seems to find American nationalism dangerous and, to use that word again, primitive. Recall his 2008 comment on small-town Americans: “They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.” Or they vote for Brexit, British cultural and political pooh-bahs might say to express the same sentiments.

Nationalism is a permanent fixture of American society and politics; and in the view of most Americans, it’s a positive one.
The entire premise behind the EU is that nationalism is an evil belief and no longer necessary in our new, enlightened age. If only ordinary people had read that memo.

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Kevin Williamson excoriates
the lengths that Austin's city government is going to in order to regulate those they don't favor out of existence. First they drove out Uber and Lyft and now they've gone after Airbnb.
Fresh after chasing away Uber, the ride-sharing business, as a sop to the politically powerful cartel that runs the city’s taxi business, Democrat-dominated Austin went after Airbnb users and other short-term rental entrepreneurs. They passed an ordinance explicitly designed to shut down many of those businesses, one that included truly outrageous and invasive measures. Short-term rentals (STRs) that are not owner-occupied will be outlawed entirely by 2022. If two couples are sharing a two-bedroom vacation rental and they want to invite four people over to a dinner party, they’re breaking the law if dessert and coffee goes past 10 p.m., no matter if it is served in complete silence. Renting a vacation home on two acres and planning a cookout for seven people on a Sunday afternoon? That’s against the law, too. Want to rent out your ten-bedroom, 5,500-square-foot spread to a visiting delegation of twelve representatives of the Women’s Republican Club coming to visit the state capital for a week? Nope. Got a problem with the city springing an unannounced inspection on you at 2 a.m. with no cause or complaint? Too bad.

Property-owners are held responsible for any violations, which would be totally reasonable — if the rules were reasonable, too....

Austin has noise ordinances, and many of those now under the thumb of heavy new STR regulations complain that they often go unenforced, meaning that there’s relatively little downside to being a bad STR landlord — if you are unlicensed. And most of the complaints that preceded the new regulations had to do with unlicensed STRs. Airbnb landlords are licensed, and both landlords and renters are constrained by the app’s reputation system. If you’re an unruly renter, you get a low rating from your landlord, and others will not rent to you; if you’re a problem landlord, you get a low rating from your renters, and lose business. It’s a self-policing system that in practice works reasonably well....

Ironically, the city cited problems at unlicensed rentals to argue for stricter — invasive, and probably illegally invasive — regulation of licensed operators. “What’s contrary to the stated purpose of the city ordinance is that the city is incentivizing people to act illegally. They’re punishing people like my clients, who are licensed, responsible, law-abiding property owners.”

They are taxpaying property owners, too. Zaatari pays nearly $10,000 a year in property taxes, and then pays the hotel-occupancy tax on the income he makes from that property. Other parties to the lawsuit have even steeper bills.

That’s a lot of money to pay to a city that explicitly plans to drive you out of business....

They need some Hayek in the Hill Country. This is a classic example of the sort of uncertainty that F. A. Hayek and others wrote about, shifting political winds that make it difficult or impossible to make long-term business plans, and hence to make effective long-term investments.
Austin would be perfectly comfortable in the EU. It's a shame that geography blocks the ideological unity that Austin city government has with Brussels.

The University of Northern Colorado has felt the heat and ridicule about their Bias Response Team's intrusions into professors' classrooms and has perhaps decided to reduce their overbearing approach.
“We do not want to be in the process of censoring—that is not the intent,” the dean of students, Katrina Rodriguez, told the Greeley Tribune this week.

After reviewing more than 200 pages of records, Heat Street revealed that the Bias Response Team had asked professors to change their teaching style and lessons after students reported being offended. In both cases, the professors had asked their students to weigh opposing arguments about social issues, including gay and transgender rights.

“I would say that there are some aspects that we can revisit,” Rodriguez told the Greeley Tribune, which followed up Sunday on Heat Street’s report about how the Bias Response Team shut down classroom debate. “There could have been perhaps another way to look into this.”

....The records reviewed by Heat Street also showed that the Bias Response Team had hung 680 posters on campus warning students against “offensive” words and phrases, including “crazy,” “hey guys” and “poor college student.”

Earlier this month, Rodriguez told Heat Street that equating these posters to censorship was “a flawed premise.”

The existence of Bias Response Teams—and the concerns about their censorious potential—is not limited to the University of Northern Colorado. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has identified more than 150 Bias Response Teams nationwide.
Of course, merely saying that they might "revisit" some aspects of their team's behavior is no guarantee that they'll actually change anything.

When will people wise up that females aren't so terribly fragile as they might think.
Apparently, some tutors are concerned that an SAT math question with a chart showing more boys than girls in math classes may have made taking the test too difficult for females to handle emotionally.

According to an article in the New York Times, the content of the question is an example of what’s called a “stereotype threat.”

“When people are reminded during a test of a negative stereotype about their race or sex, psychologists say, it creates a kind of test anxiety that leads them to underperform,” the article explains.

According to the article, the question was one of two that some people in the test-prep industry felt fell into this category. The other one was a verbal question that included a historical passage from the 19th century that argued that a woman’s place was in the home.

Now, the article does admit that, according to the College Board, “No differences in the scores of boys and girls of comparable ability were found on the questions in dispute.”

So, what’s the problem? Well, according to the article, the issue isn’t really about scores on specific questions. Rather, the tutors are concerned that the very presence of “stereotype threat” questions may be a reason why males score better than females on the SAT in general.
Oh, please. Worrying that such questions forced girls to miss the question exposes contempt for girls and their reasoning powers. The historical passage is one that I have my AP US History students read.
The reading item paired 1837’s “Essay on Slavery and Abolitionism” by Catharine E. Beecher with an 1838 reply from Angelina E. Grimké, an abolitionist. It asked questions about how to interpret the passages.

The Beecher essay argues, beginning around Section 99, that by divine law, women have a lower station than men and wield their influence through the domestic sphere.

Grimké argues that no one’s rights should be diminished because of her sex.

Christian references in the Beecher passage were edited out, suggesting to some critics that the board did not want to offend religious sensibilities. But Zachary Goldberg, a board spokesman, said the religious references had been edited out for “length and focus.” He described Beecher’s essay as “separate-spheres feminism.”

The questions related to the passage were not the problem, critics said. It was the placement of the passage at the beginning of the test, allowing it to linger in students’ minds for the rest of the time.
These critics have too much contempt for girls and their ability to understand that people had such beliefs back in the 19th century. The idea that such questions might "trigger stereotype-driven test anxiety" seems like an excuse in search of a theory. Is it preferable to cleanse the passages that students read of any historical content that might trigger such imagined anxieties. Katherine Timpf points out that, with this weak logic, anything could be considered a microaggression.
But literally anything could be potentially upsetting to a test-taker, depending on that test-taker’s individual experiences. For example, a test question could contain a passage describing a city where a test-taker had lost a loved one or had some other kind of personal traumatic experience. It’s absolutely impossible to guarantee that the content of a standardized test question will affect every single test-taker in the same way — just like it’s impossible to guarantee that anything will.

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