Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Cruising the Web

There are proposals now to raise the age for young people to buy rifles. We seem to have a lot of trouble deciding when young people should legally be considered adults. Dan McLaughlin points out some of these anomalies.
frankly, we have something of a schizophrenic view of who is an adult in this country. You can drive at 16, marry and have children around 18 in most places, vote and sit on a jury in judgment of your peers at 18, be forced to register for the military draft at 18, be tried as an adult for violent crimes typically at 18, but drink only at 21 and stay on your parents’ health insurance until 26. Many of the same people fighting to raise the age limit for owning guns are arguing for more influence over national gun policy for people under 18.

Specifically, you can be a cop in Florida before age 21 – the minimum age to become a state trooper or a Miami cop or a cadet in the Broward County Sheriff’s Department, for example, is age 19. You can also join the military at age 17. There is no reason why people we train, arm, and trust to carry guns in service of the country should be barred from buying them at home.
Catherine Rampell covered some of this back in 2009.
For drinking, driving, fighting in the military, compulsory schooling, watching an R-rated movie, consenting to sex, getting married, having an abortion or even being responsible for your own finances, the dawn of adulthood in America is all over the place.

And if you think separating the men from the boys (or the women from the girls) is difficult today, tracing the history of America’s conception of childhood just complicates things further.

In the 19th century, teenagers were expected to raise their own children and work in the fields. This was true even though 19th-century teenagers were physically and intellectually less advanced than teenagers today. Thanks to better nutrition and more formal schooling, today’s children generally reach puberty earlier and are, at least in theory, more informed about the world around them.

Continue reading the main story
In other words, the only thing that is consistent about our notions of when a child becomes an adult is our inconsistency, says Steven Mintz, a historian at Columbia University.

We like to think the threshold is set to protect the welfare of the child, as with statutory rape laws or even movie ratings. But sometimes the cutoff is set for utilitarian reasons: We don’t want to hurt young people, but we also don’t want young people to hurt us....

Sometimes adulthood is set inconsistently for pragmatic reasons. Maybe we accept that 19-year-olds are not yet fully responsible adults for the purpose of driving a rental car, but hey, we still need someone to drive our tanks in Afghanistan.

And often the categories are determined by economics, to benefit whoever is making the rules. Some institutions — say, a law school financial aid office — dictate that a young person is expected to lean on her parents financially until age 30.
During the Vietnam War we passed an amendment to allow 18-year-olds to vote because it seemed wrong to say that a young man could be drafted to fight and die in Vietnam for which he couldn't vote for the politicians who chose to send him there. Shouldn't a similar sort of logic apply to saying that a young person could register for the military or become a police officer yet still be considered too young to buy a gun.

McLaughlin has a common-sense compromise
Instead of an outright ban, men under 21 could be required to provide either a good-character reference from someone who is not a blood relative, or – if the rule is to be more leniently applied – have a custodial parent appear in person when the gun is purchased and sign for responsible oversight of it. This would be no great burden on responsible young men who could get a reference from a coach, a pastor, a teacher, or someone else in their life. But shifting the burden to the young male gun buyer to provide some proof that some adult thinks them fit to own a firearm would help screen out one specific sort of person who causes school shootings: the obviously emotionally disturbed loner who has not yet done anything to get a criminal record, but is clearly seen by those around him as not all right.

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Meanwhile, Ben Shapiro notes a lot of the contradictions in the arguments arising out of the Parkland shootings.
The Parkland shooting witnesses are taking moral leadership of the gun control debate, filling in the gaps where the adults have abandoned their responsibilities.

You must never criticize their perspective because they are victimized children.

Pick one.

The Parkland shooting witnesses demonstrate that 16-year-olds have important things to say about public policy. They should vote.

It’s obvious that we must raise the age to purchase a weapon to 21-years-old, that children should stay on their parents' health insurance until age 26, and that teenage criminals should be tried as juveniles.

Pick one.

The police response to the Parkland shooting demonstrates that a good guy with a gun cannot stop a bad guy with a gun.

Hand over your guns to the authorities, who will protect you from bad guys with guns.

Pick one.

Members of the NRA do not care about the deaths of children in mass shootings, because they continue to promulgate policies that make shootings more likely.

The media do care about the deaths of children in mass shootings, even if they continue to show the names and faces of shooters regularly and engage in the same sort of coverage studies show tend to make shootings more likely.

Pick one.

Parkland student David Hogg was completely right to shellac the NRA’s Dana Loesch over her culpability in the Parkland shootings.

Parkland student David Hogg was completely right to ignore the culpability of Sheriff Scott Israel in the Parkland shootings, because the facts aren’t out yet.

Pick one....

Holding massive town hall events with mass shooting victims and witnesses before a stacked crowd of community gun control enthusiasts is journalism, not activism.

Asking any of those victims and witnesses probing questions is activism, not journalism.

Pick one.
It reminds me of the Romantic period rejecting the Enlightenment because emotions should replace reason. Emotions hold the true virtues and rational thinking is cold and empty. Too much of the debates today on all sorts of policies are dominated by emotionalism rejecting the idea that there are costs and benefits to any policy choice and that it is reasonable to try and discern if the benefits outweigh the costs or if proposed policies actually address the problems they're supposed to fix. Instead, let us look at motivations and, if the motivations are approved, then the policy must be approved. But what to do when everyone has the same goal - save innocent lives? Well, then go with what is more emotionally satisfying and confer moral authority on those who agree with your policy preferences and moral opprobrium on those who don't, because obviously, if they don't agree with you, they definitely want kids to be killed.

That might be cathartic, but it's no way to run a debate on policy decisions.

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Please. Don't insult our intelligence with this braggadocio.
Addressing the National Governors Association at the White House, Trump said, "You don't know until you test it, but I think, I really believe I'd run in there even if I didn't have a weapon and I think most of the people in this room would have done that, too."
Isn't he the guy who got out of the draft in Vietnam for bone spurs?

Pretty boy Prime MInister Justin Trudeau of Canada is facing global ridicule after his family's tour of India. Sure, there were a lot of
jokes about his wearing traditional Indian garb all over the country.
Flashy silk and gold-embroidered outfits, adorned with pointy red shoes fit for royalty, are acceptable garb for Bollywood performers.

But apparently not if you are the telegenic prime minister of Canada on a trade trip to India.

Justin Trudeau and his family have attracted some praise but also ridicule during their eight day visit for wearing elaborate traditional clothing that some insist is more appropriate for a Maharajah and his court than a visiting leader.

While admirers in the sprawling multicultural country lauded him for dressing “truly in the spirit of India,” the tut-tutting disapproval was far louder.

Some critics mocked the 46-year-old Canadian for cultural condescension, while others accused him of sartorial excess and political correctness gone too far.

The debate, which played out on social media, raised the question of where to draw the line between honoring local customs and cultural appropriation. The reaction in Canada, where Mr. Trudeau’s sheen has worn off in recent months after a series of gaffes and a conflict-of-interest scandal, was swift and merciless.

Continue reading the main story
“Jai Ho? For Justin Trudeau and his India trade trip outfits, it’s more like “Jai No,” wrote the Toronto Star, alluding to the soaring anthem from the hit film “Slumdog Millionaire,” set in India. Some questioned how much the seemingly nonstop outfit changes had cost the Canadian taxpayer.

In India, the online news outlet Outlook India, wrote that the elaborate dress was “too Indian even for an Indian.” Omar Abdullah, scion of a prominent Indian political family, chided Mr. Trudeau for out-Bollywooding Bollywood.
All the pictures of the Trudeau family in all their different costumes and raising their palms together in a Namaste greeting is just so precious.

As Fay Voshell comments, this betrays a basic misunderstanding of what it means to represent one's country in a diplomatic trip.
There are some lessons to be learned from Trudeau's bad stagecraft.

First, ersatz pretenses of multiculturalism coupled with bad acting should never be part of diplomacy. It is diplomatic to understand the history of the nation one is visiting. It is gracious diplomacy to avoid egregious offenses by learning what the host country considers good manners. It is not good diplomacy to present oneself as an imitation citizen of the country that has invited you to visit.

Second, to state the obvious: Mr. Trudeau supposedly was visiting India to represent Canada, not India itself. Canada has its own integrity and national traditions, which traditions are the ones Mr. Trudeau is supposed to represent. Some of those traditions include parliamentary government vested in the national interests of Canada, which still technically is part of the British Commonwealth. In other words, Canada is Western in its history, not Indian. Mr. Trudeau is a Westerner, though he appears either not to know it or not to like it.

But that sort of cringe-making gaffe was not the real scandal of Trudeau's visit. The clothing choices are amusing, but the bigger problem was the unbelievable decision of Trudeau to try to curry favor with Canadian Sikh immigrants by traveling with Sikh separatists. The Times of India was not impressed.
The most glaring misstep was not that Trudeau and his family dressed up in gaudy clothes — that could pass off as a celebration of Indian ethnic chic even if it was slightly over the top. It was Canada’s misunderstanding of the depth of feeling in India on the Khalistan issue. Canadian officials compared the Khalistan issue to the Quebec separatist movement — which counted a single death (of a minister, Pierre Laporte) as opposed to the tens of thousands who were killed at the hands of Khalistanis. Over the years, successive Indian governments have tried to get Canadian governments to change their minds.
As Reihan Salam points out, Trudeau made an unimaginable mistake by inviting a convicted terrorist to a dinner.
the Canadians made a major faux pas when planning a dinner honoring their premier in Delhi — they invited an Indian-born British Columbian named Jaspal Atwal, who, it turns out, was once a notorious Sikh militant, and who was convicted for the attempted assassination of a senior Indian government official in the 1980s. As you can imagine, the Indian government wasn’t exactly thrilled by the news, and of course the Canadian government apologized profusely.
Salam links to this commentary by J.J. McCullough that Trudeau was trying to win votes from Canadian Sikhs with all these moves. McCulloch's point is that Canadian politicans have to win the support of small ethnic groups.
Because Canada’s process of selecting candidates can reward the micro-targeting of small demographic groups over the general population, the backgrounds of MPs can be rather unrepresentative of the electoral districts they represent....

Though Canadians of Indian heritage are estimated to comprise no more than 4% of the Canadian population, and Indo-Canadians of Sikh heritage about half that, Sikhs are extraordinarily well-represented in Canadian government, a fact easily attributable to the outsize role they play in Canadian party politics — even in communities where their numbers are not extraordinarily high. Trudeau’s current cabinet includes four Sikh ministers, more, he once boasted, than could be found at the cabinet level in India.
And because of their outsized importance in Canadian elections, their parochial issues are influencing Trudeau's visit.
Defense Minister Harjit Singh Sajjan, for instance, won nomination for his Vancouver parliamentary seat in a bitter Sikh vs. Sikh battle that saw his opponents portray the decorated soldier as a closet supporter of “Khalistan” — the radical dream of a sovereign Sikh ethnonationalist state. Sajjan has repeatedly denied the charges, but is still often tarred by association, given his father was an active figure in the pro-Khalistan World Sikh Organization. The Khalistan question, in general, is often said to be a far livelier political debate in Canada than in India, and the worst pre-9/11 terrorist attack in North America — the downing of Air India Flight 182 — was plotted by Sikh militants in British Columbia.

In India itself, stories such as these seem to have congealed into increasingly suspicious stereotypes and conspiracy theories about Canada, many of which appeared disastrously confirmed this week during a visit to India by Trudeau. On Wednesday, it was revealed that the prime minister’s delegation included Jaspal Atwal, a Liberal Party activist from British Columbia who also happens to be a former member of the radical International Sikh Youth Federation convicted for a 1986 assassination attempt against a visiting Indian cabinet minister. Atwal had been invited by Randeep Sarai, a Sikh Liberal member of parliament (and considered a divisive figure in the community), and despite apologies, the episode now threatens to severely hamper Canadian relations with Narendra Modi’s nationalist government.
You can look at this as simply bad staff work by the Trudeau administration. But then again, this is the man who gushed over Fidel Castro in his eulogy for the Cuban dictator. As the Toronto Sun commented,
Blind to Cuban history, and blinkered by his late father’s fairy tales about Fidel Castro, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s statement on the death of the Cuban dictator was an embarrassment of international proportions.

He ignored the brutal truth about the man, dancing around it like a clown in a parade dodging horse droppings.

Today he is likely searching for his tattered Che Guevara T-shirt to wear in nostalgic homage.

“It was with deep sorrow that I learned today of the death of Cuba’s longest-serving president,” Trudeau said. “Fidel Castro was a larger than life leader who served his people for almost half a century.

“A legendary revolutionary and orator, Mr. Castro significant improvements to the education and healthcare of his island nation.

“While a controversial figure,” said Trudeau, “both Mr. Castro’s supporters and detractors recognized his tremendous dedication and love for the Cuban people who had a deep and lasting affection for ‘el Comandante.’” For a supposed world leader, this is revisionist history at its worst, and therefore shameful.

Perhaps our prime minister should read the Washington Post, and a piece regarding the 13 facts that, in a just world, would be “etched on Castro’s tombstone, and highlighted in every obituary, as a fitting metaphor for someone who used firing squads to murder thousands of his own people.” Among them, Castro turned his island nation into a Communist outpost of the Soviet Union, and almost caused a nuclear conflagration during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. Google it.

He forced almost 20% of his people into exile, leading to thousands losing their lives at sea while trying to make it to the safety of the Florida coast in crude boats.

He sponsored terrorism at every opportunity, and aligned himself with some of the worst dictators on the planet.

He condoned torture, and executions without trial.

The education system Trudeau lauded was actually a fraud, and was based on indoctrination as opposed to learning.

Castro built prisons at a rate that rivaled Stalin, and filled them to the brim with political prisoners and run-of-the-mill dissenters.

He persecuted gays and attempted to end religion, all while outlawing free enterprise and labour unions.

Yet Justin Trudeau eulogizes Castro as if he were benign, and some harmless old coot who ran out of time at the age of 90.

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