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."