Sunday, February 26, 2017

Is Trump *Less* Authoritarian Than Obama?

Some of this is B.S.
Some of it isn't.
It's the second bit that's surprising, obviously.

John McWhorter On Accusations That *Hamilton* Is Racist

Well, McWhorter's great.
Ditto "Hamilton"--of course I haven't seen it, because...who can afford that? But I've heard the soundtrack, naturally.
   And I think McWhorter's right about this.
   I had expected this to be some nonsense about it somehow being racist for all the performers to be black...though I wasn't sure that all the performers were black...which, as it turns out, I guess they're not. But anyway, no. It's from the other side--the possibility of which I guess I should have foreseen--and the charge is that it's racist because it doesn't focus on slavery. And McWhorter's response is pretty much right, I'd say on one read. Slavery was an almost incomprehensible crime...but even it can't always be the main focus of our attention, even when we are focused on the time period. Also, I think Hamilton's egalitarian cred is pretty much unassailable... Also, you just can't do everything at once.
   That's all I got.

"The Russian """Philosopher""" Who Links Putin, Bannon, And Turkey: Alexandr Dugin"

I have no earthly clue what to make of this.
   It sounds like Dugin is more of...a sociologist? As for whether that's better or worse than being a philosopher, I'll let you-all make that judgment...
   At any rate:
Dugin, who's been described as everything from an occult fascist to a mystical imperialist, lost his prestigious job running the sociology department at Moscow State University in 2014 after activists accused him of encouraging genocide. Thousands of people signed a petition calling for his removal after a rant in support of separatists in Ukraine in which he said, "kill, kill, kill."
And:
Dugin, who has long predicted the demise of "the West's liberal hegemony," said the election of Trump promises to change the course of world history.
"Incredibly beautiful-one of the best moments of my life," he said after Trump's inauguration.
After decades of railing against Washington for seeking the "Westernization of all of humanity," Trump's elevation has led to a Damascene conversion for Dugin, who declared anti-Americanism "over."
"America not only isn't an opponent, it's a potential ally under Trump," he said.
Now Dugin's focusing on Europe, where he's been cultivating ties with anti-establishment parties that threaten a political and military union seven decades in the making.
With key elections in France, Germany and the Netherlands this year, the Russian polemicist has a new mantra for Europe that's ripped straight out of Trump's campaign playbook:
"Drain the swamp."
WTH?
Your guess is as good as mine.
Better, I hope...

Narcissism: A Reflection

By the great Laura Kipnis.
I say it's a hoot.

What Does Steve Bannon Want?

Needless to say, I don't want to accidentally defend fascists or racists... And I'm extremely alarmed about Trump...
But...
   ...Is Bannon a racist fascist neo-Nazi genocidal maniac? Well...does it really seem likely that he is? Personally, I think it's a really safe bet that everyone on the right is less-bad than leftier people on the left think (s)he is. (And everyone on the left is less bad than rightier people on the right think that (s)he is.) If there were a market for that sort of thing, I'd be making bets all day long, and I'd soon be rich. And you know I would. I'd be wrong about some cases...but overall, I'd make a killing. What percentage of people the left calls fascists are actually fascists? What percentage of the people the left calls racist are actually racist? They call everyone who disagrees with them those things. Cry "wolf!" at every sound, and you'll get no false negatives...but...  Also: people like me will stop taking you seriously.
   So I can't help but be very, very worried about Steve Bannon. But this is, IMO, worth a read. In particular:
Those focused on Mr. Bannon’s ideology are probably barking up the wrong tree. There are plenty of reasons for concern about Mr. Bannon, but they have less to do with where he stands on the issues than with who he is as a person. He is a newcomer to political power and, in fact, relatively new to an interest in politics. He is willing to break with authority. While he does not embrace any of the discredited ideologies of the last century, he is attached to a theory of history’s cycles that is, to put it politely, untested. Most ominously, he is an intellectual in politics excited by grand theories — a combination that has produced unpredictable results before.
   See, that's plenty scary for me. Bannon, whatever his personal characteristics, sounds like a goddamn philosopher or something. And that ought to scare you. A lot. He's got theories, man. Untested theories. Possibly untestable theories. (But probably not. Sounds like predictions might be possible. Not that anyone will ever really try.) If you had any clear conception of how scary that is, you would, unfortunately, have a lot less time for worrying about whether he's literally Hitler.
   Maybe the left is right in this case. But more and more I see the farther left as basically a religious cult--their analogs of Satan and original sin are everywhere, and explain everything. They mostly don't want to be bothered with the facts. But these facts, they bother me a lot.

Ok. Shutting up now.

Carolina 85 - Pitt 67

Next up: The Hoos in Hooville

Saturday, February 25, 2017

RIP Neil Fingleton, 1980-2017

link
RIP Fing, beloved Tar Heel.
I did not realize he was in Game of Thrones.
Way, way, too young.

Vandalism at U. City Jewish Cemetery

WTH?
You can't let the dead rest in peace?
That's enough internet for me today I reckon.

Trump Administration Sought To Enlist Intelligence Officials, Key Lawmakers, To Counter Russia Stories

The Trump White House is starting to sound like Lord of the Flies* inside Thunderdome.
   Does anybody have a good fix on WTH is going on?
   If everything the admin is saying about it is true, then they were just trying to get people to say publicly what they'd said in private--that the stories were overblown. So that's the best case scenario. Right?
   How bad is that? I do not know...but still not great, right?
   Is there any reason to believe that they're telling the truth? 
   Well...not exactly none perhaps...but not exactly any either.
   I don't want to harp on the one case...but the crowd-size case isn't just one case--it's a telling/representative case that basically set the tone for the current insanity...so here's how I'll put it: 
The Trump "administration" has made it clear that it's willing to say that 500,000 = 1.5 million > 1.8 million.
   Basically, and not getting too precise about it: if you're willing to lie about that, you're willing to lie about anything.
   Or so it seems to me.
   I'm trying not to fall prey to the prevailing anti-Trump hysteria on the left. But I have to admit that it's not entirely clear to me how unjustified hysteria actually is at this point.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Kelly Anne Conway Is Right; Mirriam-Webster Is Wrong--And Stepping Way, Way Out of Line

link
At the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday, Conway said she did not consider herself a feminist, as the term is usually used.
"It's difficult for me to call myself a feminist in a classic sense because it seems to be very anti-male, and it certainly is very pro-abortion, and I'm neither anti-male or pro-abortion," Conway said.
Merriam-Webster allegedly tweeted the following in response:
Lookups for 'feminism' spiked today. It's "the belief that men & women should have equal rights and opportunities."
   First, substantively: Conway is not disagreeing with the textbook definition of feminism, and to pretend that she is is to be intentionally obtuse. She is saying, roughly, that contemporary feminism [is, as a matter of fact, not definition, associated with the positions in question]. If M-W's tweet really is a response [and I guess it really was, hard as that was for me to believe], it's crap. Consider an analogous case on the other side of the spectrum. Bernie says: "I can't be a Republican because I think it's unfair to the poor." Suppose M-W responded: republicanism is a form of government in which citizens elect representatives authorized to govern on their behalf--the suggestion being, of course, that republicanism (in the generic sense) has nothing to do with the rich and the poor. Not that that would ever happen... But it would be analogous--and analogously dishonest/obtuse.
   Now...perhaps Mr. Melvin is just bullshitting, and M-W did not intend to object to Conway's position. [But I guess that isn't so.] Perhaps they just tweet out definitions of whatever words people tend to be looking up. I kind of suspect that's what it is. But if Melvin is right, M-W is out of line. 
   Also, note that their definitions aren't very good...  Consider:
A fact is a piece of information presented as having objective reality. [my emphasis]
Er...no. A fact is, rather (if we stick with the template, which isn't that great): a piece of information...having objective reality. Representing something false as true doesn't make it a fact. And a fact is a fact whether or not it's ever represented at all. Facts that are never discovered, thought of, nor mentioned are still facts. But, more importantly, of course: 
  You had one job, Merriam-Webster... I'd say: stick to that one and try to do it right.

[Oh and: don't ignore the fact that M-W is basically saying that they have no idea what Conway is talking about when she says that contemporary feminism is pro-abortion. Really? You really have no idea what she's got in mind there? And as for being anti-male: well, that's one of the reasons I stopped considering myself a feminist fifteen or twenty years ago. The anti-male orientation of academic feminism just seems undeniable to me. Egalitarian feminism was very important to me when I was younger. But academic feminism is a different beast. In fact, it's what we might call the anti-rationalism of academic feminism that was the biggest factor in driving me away. I'm just as committed to the thesis of the moral and political equality of the sexes as ever. But it's not clear what the relationship actually is between that thesis and contemporary feminism.]

Gallaudet Bison On A Trajectory To Make The D-III Tournament

Gore 'em...or...whatever it is you do to 'em...Bison!

Greedy Evil Soda Companies Refuse To Violate Principles of Economics

You bastards

White House Blocks Some News Organizations From Press Briefing

This is not good.

Trump: Literally Worse Than Literally Hitler

When you look like a jackass compared to Tucker Carlson...it's time to reassess.

The Secondary Break: Has Carolina's Defense Been Better Or Luckier?

Adrian Atkinson, excellent as always.
I think the eye test also indicates that the Heels have been fairly lucky of late.

Sexism and General Assholery At Uber

This post, by Susan J. Fowler, is really beyond belief. I stopped a few paragraphs from the end because I already wanted to punch somebody, and I don't need to be walking around on a 72 degree, sunny Friday afternoon in February any more pissed of than I already am.
   Holy crap, that thing is just unbelievable. If half of it is true, then Uber can f*ck right off.

Trump Admin To Step Up Crusade Against Demon Weed

Behold, the "deconstruction of the administrative state"

Thursday, February 23, 2017

"Pitino, You S-U-C-K": A Special Investig8tion

Will we ever know the truth about S-U-C-Kgate?

Trump Has Spent More Time Golfing Than In Intelligence Briefings / Spent Over Half His Presidency In "Non-Work Time"

Dylan Roof Stopped At A Second Black Church After Shooting; Researched Others

Fortunately, bible study wasn't going on at the second church the time, otherwise there could have been a second mass murder.
Jesus Christ.

"Trump Administration Rolls Back Protections For Transgender Students"

   I continue to be vexed by the theoretical/philosophical incoherence at the center of our public discussions about transgenderism. There's really very little doubt that an incoherent tangle of bad theories is being forced onto the public as fact. The tangle is so incoherent and has such obviously false implications that I'm baffled that it's caught on...well, it's caught on with "progressives," anyway. Ok...actually...sadly...half the time I'm not actually baffled at all. Progressives (let alone the full-blown PC left / "social justice" crowd) have a finely-honed ability to see night as day if that's entailed by their political commitments. The Trump administration has nothing on them when it comes to reality-denial. In fact, progressives and the PC crowd can not only see night as day when politically necessary, they can also convince themselves that anyone who does not see night as day is an ignorant hateful bigot. Honestly, there really is a chilling cultishness on the left anymore.
   As for the more practical questions about restrooms and locker rooms...I'm not sure what to do about all that. My views change now and then, and I can see more room for maneuvering there. I'm generally and currently inclined to think that this is the right decision. At the very least I think we need to have an actual cultural discussion about the real issues here before we change our long-standing, well-functioning and popular system of sex-segregated restrooms and locker rooms. And that discussion won't be very meaningful if it presupposes the incoherent tangle of theories that have dominated the discussion to this point. I tend not to favor laws mandating either segregation or integration at this point. Leaving it up to the states, is, I suppose, a decent compromise...though I think that's basically a blueprint for integration. I don't see that the quasi-religious fervor of the cultural left can be stopped. Once the NCAA is punishing states for being insufficiently progressive, the handwriting is on the wall.
   Here's what the Post reports:
The two-page “Dear colleague” letter from the Trump administration, which is set to go to the nation’s public schools, does not offer any new guidance, instead saying that the earlier directive needed to be withdrawn because it lacked extensive legal analysis, did not go through a public vetting process, sowed confusion and drew legal challenges.
The administration said that it would not rely on the prior interpretation of the law in the future.
The departments wrote that the Trump administration wants to “further and more completely consider the legal issues involved,” and said that there must be “due regard for the primary role of the States and local school districts in establishing educational policy.” Although it offered no clarity or direction to schools that have transgender students, the letter added that “schools must ensure that all students, including LGBT students, are able to learn and thrive in a safe environment.”
Honestly, this seems pretty much exactly right to me. The Obama administration's use of Title IX was wrong. Horribly, inexcusably wrong, in fact. And its arguments cannot be sustained. More importantly, we have to stop misusing Title IX in these ways--that is, misusing it to accomplish whatever the progressive cause of the moment happens to be. But equally important is that last part: students have to be protected from discrimination and harassment based on sexual preference etc. [Actually: semi-scratch that. Students need to be protected, to a reasonable degree, from discrimination and harassment. Period. I don't see that the type of discrimination / harassment matters much. And, of course, it is not possible to extirpate every scrap of man's assholery to man. Thinking that it is and that we should is a blueprint for some kind of totalitarianism of niceness or something.]
   Anyway...here's one thing, at least, that the Trump administration seems to have gotten righter than the Obama administration, IMO.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Carolina 74 - Louisville 63

Sloppy game for both teams, but our free throw defense made the difference.

Go Tar Heels, Beat Dem Cards

I miss the old ACC...the real ACC...but Louisville is one of the new teams I enjoy having around, nonetheless.
   (Fun fact: I'm from Missouri, and I did not realize that some people pronounce it Loo-ee-ville.)

Ben Shapiro Explains It All For You

Wow. I really like this guy--I mean...I disagree with the m*therf*cker about basically everything important...but I straight-up admire his honesty and straightforwardness and intelligence. 
   Some highlights:
   On the Alt-Right:
Basically, the alt-right is a group of thinkers who believe that Western civilization is inseparable from European ethnicity—which is racist, obviously. It’s people who believe that if Western civilization were to take in too many people of different colors and different ethnicities and different religions, then that would necessarily involve the interior collapse of Western civilization. As you may notice, this has nothing to do with the Constitution. It has nothing to do with the Declaration of Independence. It has nothing to do actually with Western civilization. The whole principle of Western civilization is that anybody can involve himself or herself in civilized values. That’s not what the alt-right believes—at least its leading thinkers, people like Richard Spencer and Jared Taylor and Vox Day. Those kind of folks will openly acknowledge that this is their thought process.
On Trump (and the Alt-Right):
So it’s a couple-step process, and glomming onto Trump has been part of that because Trump, I don’t think, is alt-right. I don’t think that Trump is particularly racist. I think he’s an ignoramus. I think that more than anything, Trump is willing to pay heed to and wink at anybody who provides him even a shred of good coverage. So if the alt-right, which worships at the altar of Trump—if they provide him good coverage, he’s willing to wink and nod at them and not wreck them.
On Steve Bannon:
I think that Steve will stop if it becomes politically convenient for him to stop. Steve is not a deeply principled guy on politics; it’s not like he’s coming in with this ramrod agenda. He’s coming in and he’s talking about big government spending. He’s talking about trillion-dollar infrastructure packages. If you had to peg Steve down on ideology or philosophy, you’d say he’s sort of like a European far-right leader. He’s more like Marine Le Pen or Nigel Farage than he is like a constitutional conservative. He doesn’t like constitutional conservatism; he thinks that it’s an obstacle in the way of building this new Third Way movement, this independent political movement that is focused on heavy spending—even some redistribution inside the country—but closed borders and tariffs for everybody outside. He calls himself an economic nationalist. They say, “Are you a white nationalist?” and he says, “No, I’m an economic nationalist.” And then when he’s asked about white nationalism and its effect on the far-right in Europe, he says that will sort of fade away as time goes on, and they’ll legitimize. I don’t think so. I’ve never seen a bad movement or a bad person, yet, given power and they become better people.
On the all-conservatives-are-racist left:
I think that the left is making a huge mistake by labeling everybody on the right “alt-right.” Because what they’re doing is they’re pushing people into the arms of the alt-right. You call people racist enough, and they begin to think OK, well, who’s not calling me a racist—I’ll side with that guy. So the worst thing the left can do is continue to suggest that everyone who backed Trump was a racist, sexist, bigot homophobe; everyone’s evil, everyone’s terrible. What they really should be doing is they should be saying, “Look, we understand one of the reasons that we lost is because Hillary Clinton was a uniquely terrible candidate”—she really was—“and because of that, we’re not trying to throw you guys out of the tent. We think it was a bad choice to choose Trump, but we would sort of appeal to the better angels of your nature—that if we think he’s divisive as time goes on, that you recognize that he’s being divisive.” I think it’s a big mistake to have the left pushing the notion that they’re just going to double-down on the Obama coalition and tell everybody else to go screw.
On Milo being a dick:
And then there was a breaking point where he said the Constitution and conservatism were done, and it was going to be replaced by this new rising alt-right movement that didn’t care about the Constitution—you’re cucks, you’re losers, all the rest of this stuff. And then it gradually got worse, to the point where, when my second kid was born in May, Milo—who pretends that he’s not alt-right—sent a tweet at me with a picture of a black kid. Because the way that this works is that if you are not alt-right, if you’re anti-Trump, then according to the alt-right you must be what they call a “cuck”—for those who don’t follow this sort of stuff—because you have two brain cells to rub together. Cuck, according to the alt-right, means that you’re a white person who wants to watch his wife have sex with a black man, right? Because you’re poisoning the racial stock of the United States, so you want your own racial stock “poisoned.” I always found the whole thing bewildering. I’m not interested in my wife having sex with a man of any race; I’m not sure why a black guy would be significantly worse, just overall! It seems pretty terrible all the way through.
   Dude, seriously. I'm not kidding. Read the whole thing. This is a great interview.
   It's all very enlightening...the most disappointing bit is about Milo. I'm so, so sad that he seems to be a dick. And I'm pissed off (read: embarrassed) that I fell for his shtick. I mean...there is actually a decent chance that he was joking...but it's a dick of a joke, so it doesn't help much. Oh, well, there goes my first...so far as you know...gay crush, down the freakin' crapper. I was willing to put up with a lot, Milo...but you dis the Constitution, you're out on your ass, my man.
   Ok so anyway I say go read the whole Shapiro thing.

"The Myth Of The U.S. Immigration Crisis"

This is pretty interesting:
Illegal immigration to the U.S. ended a decade ago and, according to the Pew Research Center, has been zero or negative since its peak in 2007
Or anyway, I thought it was at first... The assertion above would be great....but...30 seconds of Googling showed that it apparently isn't true.  Wikipedia (lol...I know...) says that in 2015 there were about 1,200,000 new illegal immigrants in the country. What the author seems to be saying is that enough are leaving the country to keep the number fairly steady. That--if true--is important. But it's dishonest to put it the way he puts it. 
   It doesn't take much reading around to see that the right is constantly trying to pump up the number of illegals and the left is constantly trying to minimize it. The dishonesty, it is so tedious.
   So, anyway, I got all excited by the Bloomberg View piece, but then just got pissed off.
   And another thing: the (apparently intentional) conflation of immigrant with illegal immigrant pervades that piece. This is far from a mere semantic gripe. By failing to mind this very simple and important distinction, the author finds himself needing to explain things that need no explaining--e.g. how it could be that Trump benefited from "anti-immigration" sentiment though Americans are generally very pro-immigrant. Gosh, what a puzzler...

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

McMaster Sounds Pretty Damn Promising

Peter Bergen calls him "the smartest and most capable military officer of his generation."
   Incidentally, he was awarded a Silver Star for his role in 73 Easting.
   The first good news out of this administration?

Edward Price: I Didn't Think I'd Ever Quit The CIA; But Because Of Trump, I Quit

Monday, February 20, 2017

MSU Bans All Whiteboards From Dorm Doors After Some Bad Words Were Written On Some Of Them

Somebody dropped an n-bomb on somebody else's whiteboard...and MSU decided that the rational course of action was to ban all whiteboards from every door in every dorm.
   But, I mean, what other option does a university have when "Once in a while someone will write something that isn't very nice"?
   If anything like this happens again, I suppose they'll have to confiscate all writing instruments of any kind.
   Obviously this decision is too difficult, and the stakes too high, for it to be left up to mere university students.

"Citizenship Privilege"

Carolina Anti-Trump Flier

So... Stupid--but undoubtedly harmlessly stupid--anti-Trump flier shows up on campus. Folt (who I think is pretty good, though no Holden Thorp...and I don't care what anybody says) over-reacts just a bit...students react reasonably.
   If this poster were advocating right-to-left violence rather than left-to-right violence, the fewmets would be hitting the windmill on the web, ah tell you whut... But anyway, the left has set up conditions such that the administration has to say something about this, stupidly harmless though it is. Thus the left reapeth what it hath sown.
   IANAL...but I just can't see this as serious incitement to violence.

"Trump Supporters See A Successful President--And Are Frustrated With Critics Who Don't"

I think this is important.