Friday, May 31, 2019

Neo-Lysenkoism / Political Correctness And Race

Where are the philosophers while all this is going on?
They basically divide into two groups:
(i) Those that are actively advancing the neo-Lysenkoist / PC project
(ii) Those that are cowering under their desks

Neven Sesardic: Race: A Social Destruction Of A Biological Concept

This is a really good paper.

The Great Neven Sesardic: A Philosopher Looks At American Politics

I think this short post is eminently worth your time.

Trump National Security Report Card

Summary:
China: B+
Iran: C
ISIS: D
NATO: C
North Korea: B-
I expected Iran to be lower, ISIS to be higher, NATO to be lower, and maybe NK to be higher(?).
Shows what I know.

A Depressingly (Accidentally) Good Summary Of A Major Battle In The Culture War: Angela Saini: "Why Race Science Is On The Rise Again"

This is really depressing...but not exactly for the reason it intends to be.
I mean...really, really depressing.
The left side of the debate gets so much science wrong that one really hardly knows where to begin. The right side has racists--lots and lots of racists. But not everyone on that side is racist--so far as most of the main scientific and philosophical arguments to, I'm on the right side. You have to be if you understand the issues. Races are almost certainly biological kinds. The arguments against that position are patently fallacious. But, as I've said a thousand times: that in no way means that any racial group is morally inferior to any other, nor that any group has something like a lesser degree of moral standing, nor ought to have fewer political rights. (If we're going to talk about the biological facts, we shouldn't even be discussing those issues.) But many on the right side of the debate think it does--and it's often that racist belief that motivates their scientific views. The left is committed to anti-racism...which is good....but it's that belief which motivates its view about the scientific arguments...and that's political correctness / neo-Lysenkoism. And those, of course, are bad. The left then advances a familiar array of fallacious arguments against the proposition that races are natural kinds, and slanders anyone who disagrees--e.g. Noah Carl, who Saini is careful to slander by name in the piece. [Actually: libel.]
   Saini's piece is representative of the genre in that is simply assumes the truth of a certain cluster of fairytales about the science of race, and asserts that only racists can deny them. Here are just a few, from around the middle of the piece:
   [1] It was only towards the end of the 20th century that genetic data revealed that the human variation we see is not a matter of hard types but small and subtle gradations, each local community blending into the next. [2] As much as 95% of the genetic difference in our species sits within the major population groups, not between them. [3] Statistically, this means that, although I look nothing like the white British woman who lives upstairs, it’s possible for me to have more in common genetically with her than with my Indian-born neighbour.
   [4] We can’t pin down race biologically because [5] it exists like an image in the clouds. [6] When we define ourselves by colour, our eyes don’t consider that the genetic variants for light skin are found not only in Europe and east Asia, but also in some of the oldest human societies in Africa. Early hunter-gatherers in Europe had dark skin and blue eyes. [7] There is no gene that exists in all the members of one racial group and not another. [8] We are all, every one of us, a product of ancient and recent migration. [9] We have always been in the melting pot together. [My numbers]
Again: viewed objectively, this is a gut-wrenchingly confused load of political correctness--the subordination of actual evidence and sound reasoning to politics. In this case, the politics at least isn't bad politics...but that kind of makes the situation more dangerous.
Quickly:
[1] It may only have been toward the end of the 20th-century that genetic data revealed gradations....but everyone who seriously addressed these questions already knew about racial gradations. The strawman here pervades the debate: that if there aren't clear boundaries, there are no biological kinds. This is the fallacy of the continuum. Real group boundaries are fuzzy, and admit of borderline cases. If you're looking for bright, clear boundaries, you don't have the background knowledge required to be part of this discussion.
[2] True but irrelevant; this is Lewontin's fallacy. Races are basically genetically invisible if we look at different alleles at an individual locus. But when we look at different alleles at many different loci, people sort pretty damn neatly into racial groups.
[Fallacy count: three textbook fallacies thus far... Not even counting ad hominem/guilt by association...]
[3] That doesn't seem to be a statistical point, but: yes. The error is to think that this counts against the proposition that races are biological groups.
[4] Yes we can.
Read more »

Two Climate Stories:: [1] WaPo: Sea-Level Rise Possibly Worse Than Predicted? / [2] Christie: High-Altitude Tropical Temps Show Less Warming Than Models Predict

You make the call:
Worse?
Better?

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Leppardized Heaven Is A Place On Earth

I'm probably the only person in the world at this particular sector of the musical Venn diagram...:
AND I DON'T CARE WHO KNOWS IT

Cocaine Mitch: F*ck Merrick Garland: We'd Confirm Trump SCOTUS Candidate In 2020

I...you...we...he...
One does not know what to say, does one?
And do not even GET me started on this:
A rational analysis, however, shows that McConnell has been consistent that the no-confirmation in presidential year was in the circumstance that there was a party split between the presidency and the Senate...
So, erm...that's a rational analysis, is it?

What Did Mueller Say?

I don't even know, man.
I read it...but I don't even know...
This?

Tech Totalitarianism: "Salesforce" Bars Its Users From Using It's Software To Sell Certain Firearms

I'm so old that I remember when the tech world was libertarian.
So social media will ban you for expressing even moderately conservative (and scientifically confirmed) views...now this...what next? MS Word refuses to type sex-specific pronouns? Googlemaps refuses to navigate you to your local Republican HQ? 
Firefox refuses to display thoughtcrimey sites?
As Insta-Glenn likes to say: you may not be interested in the gleichshaltung...but the gleichshaltung is interested in you...

Trump Considers Pardons For People Accused Of War Crimes

FWIW I'm Disgusted By The Reactions To Meller's Comments

From the right: this shows that we were right all along, Mueller sucks, and we're about to nail the attempted deep-state coup.
From the left: this shows that we were right all along and Mueller never exonerated Trump of anything and we're two years behind on impeachment already WTF?
I honestly can't tell what's going on. I don't see how Mueller said anything new. I'm not even sure why he said anything at all. What am I missing?
But looking at the reactions this morning...kinda made me feel a little sick. The two sides seem to be spinning farther and farther into their preferred respective fantasy worlds on this issue. Of course it'd be almost miraculous if each were exactly as delusional as the other... So that's not what I'm saying.
A recurring theme: more and more I realize that I have no earthly clue what is going on. 
There are some culture-war issues that I understand really, really well. I understand what's going on there. 
But with respect to more run-of-the-mill policy and political issues, though I'm a lot more well-informed than your average 'Merican in the street, I just cannot figure out what's going on. I see an extraordinary degree of certainty on each side...but the facts don't seem to warrant either of them.
I just don't trust Trump, and tend to agree that he ought to be doing more to respond to the (admittedly, lame-ass) Russian efforts to interfere with our elections. But the blue team has kinda flipped its shit, and I recognize that more and more clearly all the time. As I've acknowledged: Trump'll do that to ya...but flipped shit is flipped shit. And Trump's reaction to the TDS and false accusations...well...kinda understandable. I've long thought that it's as if the blue team thinks: The president ought to be able to deal with flipped shit with rationality and grace!...Obama did! And I agree. But I also agree that it's crazy to basically try to win politically by driving a not-all-that-stable president over the edge with your own crazy. I'm just plain disgusted by both sides, and I'm kinda losing interest in trying to figure out which side is worse.
   One thing that bums me out is that there are probably people out there who understand the legal and policy issues as clearly as I understand some of the culture-war issues...but I can't even figure out who they are without investing more time and energy than I have right now.

The Moribundity of Philosophy: "Decolonizing Political Concepts" Conference

[eyeroll]:
   Postcolonial and decolonial thinkers and activists have spent the last decades unravelling the intellectual, political and structural legacies of colonialism and ongoing coloniality in our contemporary world. Political concepts are part of these legacies. The way academics define and use them is generally mediated by traditions of political thought marked by and even framed by coloniality. However, and despite the increasing and far-reaching work of postcolonial and decolonial research, this aspect of political concepts is still too often silenced or ignored in some academic settings. As a Centre for Citizenship, Civil Society and Rule of Law and a PhD programme focused on political concepts, we feel the need to bring these debates to our research and thinking. We aim to engage not only with the Centre’s core concepts but also with projects dealing with, but not exclusively, sovereignty, secularism or democracy. We particularly invite intersectional critiques and perspectives on political concepts and decolonial theories related to these.
   Coloniality endures, we propose, in the privileging of certain forms of knowledge and the dismissing, ignoring, or silencing of others. Decolonising political concepts is precisely about recognising and embracing the plurality of forms and notions of knowledges and epistemic methods, which entails in the process deconstructing the illusion of objectivity and universality in Western conceptions. Without wanting to perpetuate boundaries, hierarchies, and generalisations, we use the term “Western” to foreground the history of coloniality in political concepts and practices.
   The coloniality of knowledge present in Western political concepts goes hand in hand with a coloniality of power, according to which political actors and practices are classified based on Western universalised norms. To acknowledge the entanglement of power and knowledge allows us to see in how far epistemic practices reflect and inform power relations and techniques and vice versa. Furthermore, achieving power within colonial contexts seems to go necessarily through the imitation of Western models in all spheres of life; thus, it is important to ask not only which perspectives became excluded through Western hegemony, but also how these were shaped and appropriated by Western thought. What is at stake here is the dismantlement of systems of oppression and marginalisation embedded in political concepts and deployed both in academia and in political practice.
It goes on...and on...

Do Liberals Who "Learn" About "White Privilege" Become Less Sympathetic To Poor Whites?

It would be in no way surprising.
Look, the whole point of "privilege" talk is to shift emphasis away from the disadvantaged and onto the non-disadvantaged. And the whole point of that is to criticize the latter. Specifically: in order to convince people that disadvantage is the fault of the non-disadvantaged, and that they benefit from it.
   One difference, IMO, between liberalism and progressivism is that the former was more interested in helping the disadvantaged, and the latter is more interested in criticizing the advantaged (or, at least: non-disadvantaged). It would be absolutely no surprise if "privilege" "training" generated anti-white, anti-male, etc. attitudes...that's what it's for.
   There's virtually no reason to prefer the "privilege" jargon over the tried, true, and more accurate talk of disadvantage and discrimination. A black person in the U.S. will, on average, be at a disadvantage as compared to a white person. Some of that's pure disadvantage--not particularly anyone's fault. Some of it's discrimination--which is usually (though perhaps not always) someone's fault. But the central theses specific to "privilege" theory simply aren't true: that every white person is complicit in all black disadvantage, and that every white person gains those disadvantages. Perhaps more importantly, as I've said from the beginning: not every black disadvantages can be accurately represented as a "privilege" whites have. If blacks are more commonly disenfranchised, that's not a white "privilege," it's a violation of the rights of blacks. And, though a problem of unfair privilege can be balanced out by taking away the privilege, violations of rights can't be fixed that way; you can't solve a problem of black disenfranchisement by disenfranchising whites.
   In general, progressivism is more interested in convincing people that men, whites, etc. suck and should be brought low (or lower) than that women, blacks, etc. are equal to them and should be helped up. It's a contentious, inaccurate, dopey bit of jargon...so it fits well with the whole web of contentious, inaccurate, dopey PC jargon. It can seem merely like a trendy bit of jargon, but it brings along with it a tangle of confusions and dark, dangerous commitments.
   I don't think it's pure bad, incidentally. I think there's something to be gained by pretending that the problem is me having been granted a favor that you weren't granted. It's another way to mobilize our sense of fairness. That you are given an unfair disadvantage is abhorrent to me; that I am given an unfair advantage is abhorrent in a different, more personal way. It's worth thinking about, and in a few cases it's even accurate.
   But, anyway, "privilege" is just another stealthy leftist idea and bit of jargon: it can plausibly be represented as just a new way of talking about an old and uncontroversial set of problems--problems of disadvantage and discrimination. But it can then be rotated 90 degrees to reveal that it's neither uncontroversial nor innocent: it's actually rich with politically non-neutral implications. This is fairly standard for PC terminology, and it's one of the reasons the illiberal left is so damn obsessed with words: they really have become rather adept at constructing linguistic Trojan horses.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Political Correctness Is Selecting For Intellectual Timidity And Dishonesty, Especially In Academia

If you're willing to entertain politically incorrect thoughts and discuss them, you're likely to pay a social price--e.g. getting fired.
Perhaps especially if you're in academia.
That's to say: PC is selecting for exactly the traits we don't want--perhaps especially in academia.

Eoin Lenihan: "It's Not Your Imagination: The Journalists Writing About Antifa Are Often Their Cheerleaders"

link
If there were a right-wing, Antifa-like group, the MSM would be filled with hysterical stories about its violent, totalitarian sympathies and methods. One problem is that they have stable of journalistic cheerleaders. But another is the general indifference/support of the news media.

Harvard Gazette Series On Inequality

Either this series is skewed, or inequality is reeeallly bad.
(Inclusive 'or'...)

Better Angels: Fighting Polarization

More On The Lurch Left

Well this looks pretty damning:


Luana Maroja: "Self-Censorship On Campus Is Bad For Science"

Should come as no surprise to anyone here:
   I have taught evolution and genetics at Williams College for about a decade. For most of that time, the only complaints I got from students were about grades. But that all changed after Donald Trump’s election as president. At that moment, political tensions were running high on our campus. And well-established scientific ideas that I’d been teaching for years suddenly met with stiff ideological resistance.
   The trouble began when we discussed the notion of heritability as it applies to human intelligence. (Heritability is the degree to which offspring genetically resemble their parents; the concept can apply not only to physical traits, but also to behavioral ones.) In a classroom discussion, I noted that researchers have measured a large average difference in IQ between the inhabitants of the United States and those of my home country, Brazil. I challenged the supposed intelligence differential between Americans and Brazilians. I asked students to think about the limitations of the data, which do not control for environmental differences, and explained that the raw numbers say nothing about whether observed differences are indeed “inborn”—that is, genetic.
And:
If you believe that moral equality relies on biological equality, this makes your moral views susceptible to future research that might reveal biological inequalities. Instead, equality and equal opportunity for all should be the default position, regardless of potential biological differences.

John Fonte: "Making Immigration Great Again"

I found this extremely interesting.
   It's mostly a review of Reihan Salam's Melting Pot Or Civil War (which I've sort of started, but it's migrated to the bottom of the book pile).
   One of several extremely interesting bits:
...many conservatives still advocate for more immigration and, in particular, more low-skilled workers. When he was Speaker of the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan declared that “I always look at [immigration] as an economic issue.”
   But, we are a nation, not simply a market. This employer-first reflex by some on the Right disregards what is at stake in the entire immigration-assimilation issue. Most importantly, it fails to recognize how liberals use mass immigration accompanied by weak or multicultural “integration” to advance progressivism’s ultimate goal, the “fundamental transformation of the United States of America.” The combination of mass immigration and weak assimilation must be understood in terms of the broader conflict that Angelo Codevilla describes as a “cold civil war” being waged “against a majority of the American people and their way of life.” Indeed, more than 20 years ago, Norman Podhoretz envisioned an aggressive “liberationist” nation assaulting the culture of the “traditionalist” middle-class American nation
Of course all such concerns are met with the contemporary left's "master argument": racism!

Michael Wear: "The Abortion Debate Is No Longer About Policy"

Interesting:
Abortion politics in 2019 is a morality play about what happens when one side has all the political power, yet feels culturally embattled. In this atmosphere, victories are not satisfying if they leave the other side with a foothold, a vestige of respectability. Cataclysmic discord lies ahead.
And, he argues: each side thinks it's culturally embattled.
It's hard for me to see how the left feels that way today; in the past, it was true, so feeling thusly was understandable. But it certainly seems to me that the left is, now, way in the driver's seat, culturally speaking.

Charles Lipson: "'A Hard Rain Is Gonna Fall'--On Obama's Bad Cops And Spies"

This link deserves its own post.
Which is not to say I endorse it; I just find it interesting and informative.

Comey: No Treason--No Coup

This is consistent with my extremely half-assed understanding of the matter.
Or, I should say: if I had to bet, I'd bet on something like Comey's account as articulated here.
OTOH, this is interesting: Charles Lipson: "'A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall' On Obama's Bad Cops and Spies"
My hunch is that the deep-state coup will turn out to be the right-wing analog of left-wing Manchurian Candidate hysteria.
But that's noting more than a hunch.
Oh and: people--especially people who are the president of the United States--need to stop throwing around the goddamn 'T' word... I know the left started it. And it was idiotic. But it's a whole different thing when the president does it.

Yet More Confusion About Transgenderism: The NYT "Which Box Do You Check?"

This is extremely tedious by this point.
No sense in explaining it all yet again.
Everything in there can basically be cleared up just by minding the distinction between sex (i.e. the biological kinds male and female) and gender (i.e. the behavioral categories masculine and feminine (and, if you like, androgynous)).
Though there are some real issues buried in there somewhere, mostly it's all just an exercise in pretending that how one feels, how one dresses, and the demeanor one chooses to adopt can change the physical facts about one's sex.
Mostly, I remain astonished at how such simple confusions--when backed by the cultural power of political correctness--can wreak such seismic havoc.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Mattis To Release Book

Somin: "Are The Democrats An Anti-Immigration Party Too?" [*]

I think libertarians are kinda cracked about immigration.
I don't see the GOP as "anti-immigration." They and Trump are anti-illegal immigration, but not anti-immigration.
We let in a lot of both legal and illegal immigrants. Something like a million legal immigrants per year.
A million.
Trump et al. want to cut that in half and make it merit-based. But 500,000/year...still pretty hard to call that "anti-immigration." I don't see a problem with the proposals, but don't know enough to know whether they're superior to the current system. A million (and 500,000) a year seem(s) like an awful lot to me--but that's just an impression. I do worry about assimilation and social cohesion, and worry that we don't know enough to know how many people we can assimilate so quickly under current conditions. I'm concerned by the fact that progressives are (with some success) marching under an anti-assimilation banner. We've never had an actual public discussion of "multiculturalism"--that's just an idea that was forced on us by the shrieking of the paleo-PCs. It may very well be a good idea within reason...but PC doesn't operate within reason. The PC left is fairly openly anti-U.S. and anti-Western-culture. And those were some of the most important motivating ideas of multiculturalism. I'm in favor of people keeping parts of their home culture--but I doubt we know how much multiculturalism a society can stand and survive. Maybe a lot. Maybe not so much. I say we err on the side of caution until we know it's safe not to.
   I have no idea how many immigrants we should be letting in. I acknowledge that there are reasons to let in a large number to ease the retirement of the Boomers. But I also have an inclination to be concerned about the environment, especially carrying-capacity and overpopulation. And both the right and the left have (bad) reasons for dismissing concerns about those things.
   Also, we have obligations to our fellow non-American human beings. Which is why I've argued in the past that we should give preference to people--legally--seeking asylum. I've also argued that if we controlled illegal immigration better, we could better afford to take in more asylum-seekers.
   In general, I'm in favor of helping people out--by letting them in and giving (smart) foreign aid to their home countries. I just don't want us to be reckless and stupid about it. I also favor letting people in and training them with the understanding that they'll, at some point, go back home and help make things better so that there'll be less need to come here. Which is not to say that I don't want them here; it's to acknowledge that we'll never be able to--nor do we have an obligation to--let in everybody who wants in.
   But I'm not particularly wedded to a preference for less immigration--and lots less illegal immigration. Mostly I just want a public discussion of the merits to be possible without automatic shrieking about racism and xenophobia when arguments for less immigration are advocated. Hell, maybe we ought to have more immigration--of the details I'm not at all sure. What I am sure of is that inquiry is distorted by the left's refusal to be objective and rational about the question. It's awfully hard to have a rational discussion with one side constantly shrieking 'racism'!!!
   As for whether the Dems are anti-immigration "too"...well...that sounds like bullshit to me. I don't see why every neighborhood should have to include multi-family dwellings. And, though I'm extremely skeptical of a $15 minimum wage, I don't see how wanting one can be plausibly characterized as anti-immigration.
   But, as I keep saying: I realize, more and more, that I understand less and less. So, aside from being sure that we need to be able to discuss the issue like rational people, I'm not sure of anything here.




[*] Actually, Somin says 'anti-immigrant,' which is bullshittier and more prejudicial even than is 'anti-immigration.'

Sarah Hoyt: "We Are Dancing On A Powder Keg"

via Instapundit
I agree a lot with this, except for the "flight 93 election" business. That is to say: I don't think we are "dancing on a powder-keg." I don't think that the antiliberal left is in danger of immediately destroying the country. Rather, I think they're taking us, faster and faster, down a road that is (a) partially known to be very bad, and (b) partially unknown. We're not likely to go off a cliff...not anytime soon, anyway. But we know it's a bad route, and we know that it's largely untested. And that if we go much farther, turning around isn't going to be easy. It's a very bad and very dangerous route...which might still be worth exploring...someday...with due caution...but we know that the guys who want the wheel have flipped their shit over the past couple of years. And if/when they take control again, they're going to barrel down this bad and dangerous road with no turn-arounds. And they're going to do it even faster this time. I mean...they read the right books, and they have the right manners...but the things they're actually saying and doing are nuts...
So that's...well...basically a powder-keg...but a little different...
So--though I didn't see it at the time myself--I certainly understand how, under these conditions, rational people might very well elect to let the boorish, erratic, sketchy, narcissistic con-man with the too-long tie and the Big Mac in one hand grab the wheel. He may put us in a ditch through erratic incompetence...but at least he's yelling that he's going to turn this #$%*ing thing around and head back to the well-paved roads. It's clear he's not going to do it optimally...and he may go too far...and you wouldn't want your daughter to marry him...but, hell, he seems less crazy than the only available alternative...

Ross Douthat: "How Liberalism Loses"

I very much agree:
   A pattern of narrow, issue-by-issue resistance is also what you’d expect in an era where the popular culture is more monolithically left-wing than before. That cultural dominance establishes a broad, shallow left-of-center consensus, which then evaporates when people have some personal reason to reject liberalism, or confront the limits of its case.
   None of this needs to spell doom for liberals; it just requires them to prioritize and compromise. If you want to put climate change at the center of liberal politics, for instance, then you’ll keep losing voters in the Rust Belt, just as liberal parties have lost similar voters in Europe and Australia. In which case you would need to reassure some other group, be it suburban evangelicals or libertarians, that you’re willing to compromise on the issues that keep them from voting Democratic.
   Alternatively, if you want to make crushing religious conservatives your mission, then you need to woo secular populists on guns or immigration, or peel off more of the tax-sensitive upper middle class by not going full socialist.
   But the liberal impulse at the moment, Buttigiegian as well as Ocasio-Cortezan, is to insist that liberalism is a seamless garment, an indivisible agenda that need not be compromised on any front. And instead of recognizing populism as a motley coalition united primarily by opposition to liberalism’s rule, liberals want to believe they’re facing a unitary enemy — a revanchist patriarchal white supremacy, infecting every branch and tributary of the right.
   In this view it’s not enough to see racial resentment as one important form of anti-liberalism (which it surely is); all anti-liberalism must fall under the canopy. Libertarianism is white supremacy, the N.R.A. is white supremacy, immigration skepticism is white supremacy, tax-sensitive suburbia is white supremacy, the pro-life movement is white supremacy, anxiety about terrorism is white supremacy...and you can’t compromise with white supremacists, you can only crush them. 
Stop and reflect on the fact that the left has lurched so far left that I now routinely agree with Ross Douthat.

One Of My Favorite Op-Ed Genres: The Mean Red Team Won So I'm Movin' T' FRANCE!

Or Cananda.
Or in this case, the UK.
These are just tantrums--embarrassing, cringe-inducing tantrums. How many liberals/progressives have actually, d'ya think, moved to a different country because they lost an election? Gup has already been living and/or working in the UK, and already had a visa a year ago...d'ya really think he hadn't been thinking about moving there anyway? For non-political reasons? He also whines about Brexit. If his objections are genuinely political, why go somewhere having what ought to be, by his lights, similar problems? (or "problems") Why not the lefties' traditional refuge, France-or-Canada?
And how delusional do you have to be to think that Trump has so changed the country that it's "barely recognizable"? By doing what, exactly? Rolling back and resisting the nutty, extremist changes the left has recently tried to impose on us? Enforcing immigration laws? What?
As a person, Trump oughtn't to be anywhere near the Oval Office. Gah.
But his policies haven't been, in the main, all that bad. They've largely consisted of refusing to go along with extremist proposals (or demands...) from our newly-radicalized, illiberal left.
Honestly, I have little patience with this genre. Our forebears died at Cold Harbor and Normandy for jackasses like you to run away from Trump? They stayed here through Jim Crowe? They marched in Selma? You can't endure a boorish asshat in the White House?
Go, then. Who needs ya?

Monday, May 27, 2019

Links To All Of Legal Insurrection's Gibson's v. Oberlin Daily Updates

Bash The Hash!

As we now know, hashtags are every bit as Hitlerian as Pepe the Frog, Kekistan, "It's OK to be white," and the OK hand sign. It's really two 'H's and stands for 'Heil Hitler' and 'hashtag' actually means Heil And Serve Hitler The Aryan God so anyone who uses a hashtag is just as totally Hitlerific as anyone who does any of that other shit you feel me? Behold!:
They'll never be able to pull this one off...but oh...if they could...it would be glorious... But even the NPCs can't fall for this one...or can they????

RIP Murray Gell-Mann

Memorial Day

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead: Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved: and now we lie
In Flanders fields!

Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields

Maedoc Ellis: "The Stories We Tell Ourselves: Post-Truth Politics And The 'Great Replacement'"

I'm pretty sure this is bullshit and, in fact, borders on self-refutation.
Might go into details later.
I could, of course, be wrong.
But, in brief, I don't buy the idea of combatting "post-truth" politics (or "post-truth" whatevers) with "narratives." The very idea of a "narrative" is basically a part of the whole post-modern / post-post-modern rejection of the true/false distinction. The term 'narrative' caught on with the pomos (as I understand it) because it suggests that a story's a story, and the idea of there being true ones and false ones is passe.
Also, Medoc's argument seems to come awful close to boiling down to:
  • As a matter of fact, there actually is a great replacement; but we can't combat that idea with facts because, well, again, the great replacement is real...but also: post-truthism has made facts...something (less facty? rhetorically ineffective?); so what we need is a better "narrative." 
And that is some grade-A thermonuclear bullshit.
But I could be wrong about what's being argued.

Should Trump Have Access To Nuclear Codes And State Secrets?

Honestly, I'm not what you'd call super-comfortable with the idea. But he is the POTUS; and, contra what the blue team seems to think, he did win the election. But Jesus, those tweets...
I'm of the opinion that the nuclear launch protocol needs to be revised anyway...maybe the idea of Trump being in charge of the football will make people take that more seriously. Which doesn't help us now, of course.
Plus, don't forget that he's a very stable genius, so...
This is probably all TDS. But it's the sort of thing such that, if you're worrying about it, something already seems to have gone kinda wrong.

The Left Gets Noah Carl Fired...

...for engaging in hatescience.

Who Shot First At Lexington?

Us, probably

The Nation: "Socialism Is More Popular Than Donald Trump"

Brexit

I don't particularly deserve an opinion on it...but it's probably no surprise that I'd very likely have voted to leave. The EU seems to be moving dangerously leftward. Brexit gives us some hope that the UK will stop its slide toward illiberalism. If they're lost--and, given that Canada's in danger--I wouldn't see how we could hold out much longer. We do have the First and Second Amendments--but they're no guarantee.

Rod Dreher: "The Race War The Left Wants"

The fact that large and influential sectors of the progressive left want to fan the flames of racial (and sexual, etc.) conflict can't come as a surprise to anyone who's been paying attention.
   In my lifetime, the power and influence of racists and sexists on the right has been more-or-less steadily diminished; racism has not been officially endorsed on the right, but, where it's existed, it's been in retreat and on the defensive.
   Racism and sexism on the progressive left, however, have grown more and more powerful. They are not retreating, but advancing; they are by no means on the defensive, but are on the cutting edge of the left, and have achieved the status of orthodoxy in much of it. I view left-wing anti-white racists and anti-male sexists as no different than anti-black racists and anti-female sexists. A racist's a racist and a sexist's a sexist. It's astonishing to me that the racist and sexist left can view itself, with a straight face, as the good guys. It's a grotesque parody of the liberalism of the past.
   Look: when you have managed to convince yourself that color-blindness and objectivity are racist, it's time to reassess.
   I've mentioned before that one extra little thing that irks the hell out of me is that I remember racists and sexists on the right telling me, in my youth, that liberals didn't really want equality, they wanted to invert the old hierarchies so that the first would become last and the last first. All they wanted was different racism and different sexism. That line used to make me furiously angry; it seemed so patently false...and yet...here we are...
Read more »

Queer Death Studies International Conference!

Academia has become a self-parody.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

French: "Democratic Immigration Extremism And Warnings Of Extremism To Come"

Rightly or wrongly, I've been saying a lot of the same stuff:
   What do these issues have in common? Identity politics. Immigration (race), abortion (gender), and gay marriage (sexual orientation) activate key portions of an increasingly identity-driven Democratic coalition, and the activist base doesn’t just nudge the party to the left, it shoves as hard as it can. While it shoves, it also shouts about all the “isms” and “phobias” that slander the opposition and silence dissent.
   This rapid cultural, political, and religious change is bad for our body politic. It shuts down debate on debatable topics, labels good people as bad bigots, and spikes the negative polarization that’s ripping this country apart.
   Why do these changes happen so darn fast? There are many reasons, but here’s a big one — the law of group polarization. In a piece last year, I briefly described the law and its effects
Articulated by Cass Sunstein in a 1999 paper, the law posits that “in a striking empirical regularity, deliberation tends to move groups, and the individuals who compose them, toward a more extreme point in the direction indicated by their own predeliberation judgments.” In plain English, this means that like-minded groups grow more extreme over time, and that like-mindedness sometimes pushes groups toward so-called cascades — where they move quite rapidly to new consensus. 
   Progressives live piled on top of each other in ideological echo chambers far more ideologically uniform than even their counterparts the heart of Trump country. My precinct, for example, gave Trump 72 percent of its vote. That would be a catastrophically low result for Democrats in the progressive cultural centers like New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, or Philadelphia. Some large urban centers are less ideologically diverse than your average suburban Evangelical megachurch.
Ideological uniformity plus geographic concentration equals groupthink, and with groupthink comes a tendency toward extremism. It’s not a uniquely progressive failing. It’s simple human nature.
   Conservatives are of course vulnerable to similar forms of groupthink, and there is evidence of our own rapid ideological changes (while there’s much dissent in conservative ranks over immigration, the red-state debate about gun rights, for example, has changed with breathtaking speed), but conservatives not only don’t live in the same concentrated cultural enclaves, they simply don’t have the cultural power to change national debate as decisively as the Left does.
   There’s no sign that any of these trends are slowing down. Too many Americans view you as a racist for even questioning whether there’s an economic or cultural cost to large-scale, low-skill immigration. Too many Americans believe you’re a vicious sexist for seeking to preserve the life of a baby in the womb. Too many Americans consider you a hopeless homophobe if you maintain the most basic Christian orthodoxy on sexual morality. And the question isn’t so much whether the Left will moderate on any of these points but rather what the next issue is that it will attempt to remove from the bounds of acceptable discourse.
   Moreover, such is the cultural power of the progressive machine that it’s utterly blind to its own extremism. It moves and sets the so-called Overton window, the boundaries of acceptable political discourse on any given topic. It’s how a conservative can suddenly become an “extremist” without changing his position. In 1998, a Democrat could still exist happily within the center of the Democratic party while believing that the border should be controlled, marriage is the union of a man and a woman, and the right to abortion can and should be limited. Twenty years later, that same person is a right-wing bigot, and the positions that were formerly radical-left are now the new mainstream.
   So, here we are. A groupthink-prone progressive movement exercises outsized cultural influence on the academy, media, and corporate America. It sets and enforces new boundaries of acceptable discourse. It shows no sign of moderating. Indeed, the very fact that it’s ideologically uniform and geographically concentrated dictates that it will likely continue down the present course, but with accelerating speed. Get used to it, America. Progressive immigration extremism is the harbinger of more extremism to come.

Zachary Snowdon Smith: "When The Authorities Tell You To Dissent"

link
   Perhaps the most unexpected part of life at the University of Melbourne was how easy the actual work was. In Terror, Law and War, the essays I submitted consisted of structureless, deliberately turgid summaries of class readings, enlivened with the odd anti-Western cliché and handed in without proofreading or revision. This seemed to be the level of seriousness appropriate to the class. My diploma is proof that this material, produced almost without conscious effort, was up to the standards of Australia’s top university.
   During one and a half years attending journalism classes, I was exposed to surprisingly little information on the actual craft of journalism. Recipients of the University of Melbourne’s Master of Journalism degree will know about the inverted pyramid model and other basic concepts. Deeper questions, however, are left mostly unexamined. When should an interviewer rely on a list of questions and when should he improvise? How does one efficiently cut a news story down to 125 words? How does news writing differ from other prose in grammar and punctuation? It is possible to obtain a 150-point journalism degree from the University of Melbourne without learning the answers to these questions. Of course, who has time for such trivialities when there’s a revolution on? University of Melbourne students may matriculate unprepared to produce clear and accurate news articles, but they will understand their political objectives.
   I graduated in December 2018, amidst rallies against “fascism on campus.” (Given that, in 18 months on campus, I encountered no fascists, these rallies seem to have been very effective.) Behaving compliantly throughout these peculiar antics was a mistake. The most I can do after the fact is relay my observations without inventing a heroic role for myself.
   Was pursuing a degree at Australia’s top university a waste of time? Not necessarily. The name of an institution whose superiority is supported by so many statistics surely helps beautify my résumé. And I was granted the chance to dip into a strange emerging culture, one whose existence I probably would not have accepted if I hadn’t seen it for myself. It seems the doomsayers are sometimes correct.

"The Lucrative Black Market In Human Fat"

WTF?????:
   human fat was widely considered—and not just by “the masses”—to be efficacious in healing wounds, and was typically harvested from the recently deceased. In October 1601, after a particularly bloody battle during the Siege of Ostend, Dutch surgeons descended upon the battlefield to return with “bags full of human fat,” presumably to treat their own soldiers’ wounds.
   If the fat of warriors was efficacious, that of executed criminals was easier to lay one’s hands on. What was called “poor sinner’s fat” was rendered from the bodies of the recently executed and used to treat sprains, broken bones, and arthritis. Beyond such uses, human fat was also prescribed as a painkiller or to treat sciatica and rheumatism, while dead men’s sweat was collected for the treatment of hemorrhoids. Until the mid-18th century, executioners in the city of Munich, who often prescribed and administered homemade remedies from the corpses of their doomed clients, had a lucrative trade in the fat they delivered to physicians by the pound.
   Knowing what would become of their corpses was a source of great anguish for the condemned, many of whom believed in the Christian doctrine of the resurrection of bodies and were not consoled by the thought that their fat, flesh, blood, and bones might be parceled out for the benefit of others. Still, business was business, and against the wishes of donors, executioners continued to supply fat, blood, and other body parts to those willing to buy them. And it wasn’t just ordinary people buying such things. The wise druggist kept large supplies of human fat (Axungia hominis) on hand alongside numerous other solids and liquids derived from human corpses, a class of materia medica known as “mummy.” If fortune smiled on the fat trade when the rate of executions increased, it would have been positively beaming during the Terror days of the French Revolution. According to some reports, certain Parisian butchers started offering their customers an exciting new item: graisse de guillotiné, supposedly procured from the corpses of the freshly executed.

Dave Lapan: "War-Crimes Pardons Dishonor Fallen Heroes"

Dems Overwhelmingly Believe The U.S. Has Only 12 Years To Fight Climate Change

AOC has been pretending that it was some kind of joke.
But it wasn't, and that's not the way Dems seem to have taken it.
Even Trump's obvious jokes get treated as if they were serious (see e.g.: the joke about wind power and not being able to watch t.v. if the wind doesn't blow.)
Will the media allow AOC to get away with this patently false "just a joke" defense?
Stay tuned...

Alexandra DeSanctis: "Democrats Overplay Their Hand On Abortion"

I agree with the thesis in the title.
The extremism of the conservative anti-abortion bills is, at least to some extent, strategic: they want to force the Supremes to hear the case. The extremism on the left is just plain extreme: abortions should be permissible for any reason, even up to one second before birth...and in some cases, maybe even after that.
   The following is ridiculously important, if true:
  Some physicians argue that late in a pregnancy, killing a healthy fetus is never required to save a mother’s life; that delivery of the fetus via Cesarean section is both faster and safer. “During my time at Albany Medical Center I managed hundreds of [high-risk] cases by ‘terminating’ pregnancies to save mother’s lives,” the former abortion provider Anthony Levatino testified to Congress in 2012. “In all those hundreds of cases, the number of unborn children that I had to deliberately kill was zero.”
   In cases of third-trimester abortion for “fetal viability” exceptions, meanwhile, it should be obvious that no fetal deformity or disease is cured by killing the afflicted unborn child. Consider this testimony from Omar Hamada: “I want to clear something up so that there is absolutely no doubt. I’m a Board Certified OB/GYN who has delivered over 2,500 babies. There’s not a single fetal or maternal condition that requires third trimester abortion. Not one. Delivery, yes. Abortion, no.”
As I've said before, I wimp out on this issue, mumble something about libertarianism, and run away.
   It's been said that if, per impossibile, men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament. I'll bet there's a significant amount of truth in that. But what's never noted: if men got pregnant and women didn't, there'd be no containing the anti-abortion fervor of the left--especially leftier feminists. Fetuses / unborn babies would be characterized as the ultimate helpless population, and abortion the ultimate act of oppression. Abortion would be yet another act of male violence and so on and so forth. Imagine their view of men aborting female fetuses merely because they preferred not to be fathers...
   This is not an issue that I'll ever have anything interesting to say about.

Natural Nuclear Fission Reactor

I've always thought this was super-cool.

Beinart: "Will The Left Go Too Far?"

I like Beinart (have I mentioned that I miss the old New Republic?) and there's good stuff in here, but it's rather skewed.
The left has already gone too far. And Beinart doesn't even really mention the social issues about which the left has become truly unhinged. He's right that the Dems are less reckless about the deficit than the Pubs. And that's huge. I don't really understand the economic debates; but when socialism is even on the table for discussion, I don't see how blue-team radicalism isn't sending everyone to red alert (as it were) on that front, too.
   This seems true and important to me:
But who wins an election is often less important than who sets the agenda. And ideologically, the Democratic Party has veered so sharply that “establishment” or “centrist” Democrats now frequently support larger expansions of government, and more vehemently scorn Big Business and Big Finance, than most liberal Democrats did a few years ago. [My emphasis]
Many argue that the Dem base is still much more centrist than its vanguard. That's probably true--it'd almost have to be. But the vanguard is setting the agenda--and that agenda is skewed so far to the left that it's basically in political outer space. And, again: much, much more radical with respect to its social agenda than its economic one. And so Beinart's strong focus on economics ends up soft-pedaling blue-team extremism.
   I hold out hope that the Dems will stiff-arm their radical left and tack back toward the center. But I wouldn't bet a lot of money on the proposition.

Elizabeth Warren Has A Plan To Clean Up The Pentagon

Except for the climate hysteria part, this sounds like something worth taking seriously...but the Pentagon budget is yet another thing I don't know enough about to deserve an opinion on.

The WaPo's Tailspin Gets A Little Spinnier

There's a lot to say about that. Althouse is on to the basics.
I understand TDS--I really do. Dude could make the pope cuss. I just never expected more from him. In fact, I expected a lot less. Whereas I expected quite a bit more from the news media. In retrospect, that was stupid and ignorant. I reckon I've learned my lesson.
   None of this is to suggest that editing the Pelosi video in such a way is ok. It's bullshit, actually. And it's bullshit that we have a president who screws around on Twitter thusly. But in this battle of the bullshitters, it's a pretty minor skirmish. Seems inconsequential compared to the WaPo's bullshitty response--just the latest in a long line of not-even-vaguely objective attacks.
   But, then, rational comparisons are getting harder and harder for me to make. Both sides seem to have reached such a fever pitch of dangerous asshattery that I can't make sufficiently fine-grained comparisons. More and more Trump's bullshit seems less overtly insane and dangerous than that of the other side...to me, anyway. But I just can't be sure. It's worse than what should be tolerable...but when the other side seems to have completely lost its grip on reality, and swung hard to the anti-liberal left, and Trump seems like almost the only thing standing between them and the future of the nation...well...shit, man. What do? It's like making a pact with Stalin to stop Hitler. Not...y'know...much like that...but a little like it...

Saturday, May 25, 2019

The Progressive Double Standard: Ben Carson, Idiot?

link
I agree that Ben Carson doesn't come across as the sharpest tool in the shed when he's speaking publicly. But:
(a) Dude is a neurosurgeon.
(b) Progressives would never allow conservatives to get away with something like this.
   The progressive rule is something like: conservatives aren't permitted to say anything critical of anyone who belongs to a group high in the progressives stack; if Jones is a member of progressive-favored group, G, and you criticize Jones, then you are a G-ist (or G-"phobe," or whatevs). OTOH, progressives are free to be as derisive toward Jones as they like...if Jones doesn't toe the progressive line, that is. Look at the stuff they say about Kanye. (Who is, though, a bit of a nut, so...)
   Also, of course, trangenderism is controversial to say the absolute very, very least. It isn't in any way clear that segregating people by sex under relevant circumstances is discriminatory. If Jones is a man (which is to say: an adult male), and a homeless shelter is segregated by sex, then standard practice would, it seems, be to house Jones with the other men. "Gender identity" isn't a real property/characteristic. It's a term that was made up to make false beliefs seem like facts. What matters for real purposes is people's real characteristics, not their beliefs or feelings or other subjective representations of those characteristics. Of course one can disagree, and I'm willing to pretend that the question is still open. But it's preposterous to simply declare it discriminatory to treat men like men and women like women--as if radical theories of transgenderism had been proven while no one was looking. Perhaps some as-yet unforeseen evidence and arguments will be discovered in the future. But, until such a time, it's not Carson who's being weird here. Progressives simply declared a radical, implausible theory true, and declared it bigotry to disagree. But that doesn't mean that the rest of us are obligated to play along.

WaPo: Racial Prejudice Has Declined During Trump's Tenure...Because...Uh...TRUMP SO RACIST That He...Uh...Makes New Racists And...Uh...Something Something Something

I'm just going to leave this here without comment for right now.
I suggest it provides us with a stunning occasion for reflection on questions about politics, logic, and intellectual honesty.

Greg Wiener: "It's Not Always The End Of The World"

link
   President Trump recently declared that he won the White House in “one of the most hard fought and consequential elections in the history of our great nation.” It is not difficult to conjure elections that mattered more, like Thomas Jefferson’s in 1800, Abraham Lincoln’s in 1860 or Franklin Roosevelt’s in 1932. What is becoming difficult to find is a modern aspirant to the White House who does not think of himself or herself as the solution to a world-historical crisis.
  There is no question that Mr. Trump’s political style is aberrant. But what if, all things considered, the needs of the moment are ordinary? That is the first question demanded by the foremost political virtue: prudence. Prudence is a capacity for judgment that enables leaders to adjust politics to circumstances. In extraordinary times, prudence demands boldness. In mundane moments, it requires modesty. Lincoln, the foremost exemplar of prudence in American political history, can instruct today’s voters in both ends of that continuum.
   A related point: stop with the frantic, ceaseless, reflexive change. 'Hope' was a good campaign slogan; 'change' not so much. We have it so good--basically all of us--in the historical scheme of things, that the vast majority of possible changes will make things worse--many catastrophically so. Reagan, Bush and Bush were much more on target with 'stay the course.' 'Stay the course' doesn't mean never change anything. It's a matter of emphasis. I fell for 'change' at the time because I was convinced that he meant, roughly, change the tone in Washington; soften the partisan divide. Which I think was and is imperative, Gingrich having wrought what he wrought. But the GOP was having none of it. And, anyway, one can see all sorts of things in your average one-word slogan.
  Wiener ends:
Before claiming instead that every election revolves around a crisis, political leaders should embrace what Edmund Burke called “a moral rather than a complexional timidity.” Voters ought to share Lincoln’s skepticism of the rhetoric of catastrophe. That would be a prudent response to our grandiose politics and the grandiose politicians who peddle it.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Allen et al.: "Doing Better In Arguments About Sex, Gender And Trans Rights"

This is pretty good. 
I don't buy radical feminism (though actually I've heard Reilly-Cooper make some pretty interesting arguments for an unusually compelling version of the view). And I continue to be annoyed that, basically, only radical and "gender-critical" feminists are allowed to publicly criticize trans ideology/mythology. But, still: good to see people standing up to the efforts to shout down dissent. Most of the best arguments coming from this quarter aren't peculiar to radical feminism. They do also deploy various men suck arguments, but those can just be ignored. 
   The argument over transgender ideology/mythology is over, logically speaking. Attempts to argue that women can be male and men can be female never really got off the ground at all in that sense--the important sense. They were complete and total failures from the get-go. Trans mythology continues to rule currently in the cultural superstructure because it's part of the overall web of prevailing progressive dogma; it's sustained rhetorically by the political power of progressivism. It survives only because it became politically correct to believe it (or pretend to), and it'll be sustained only by political commitment and whatever force of convention the left can manage to generate before the political (in fact: quasi-religious) fervor begins to fade away. 
   A lot hangs on the Dems attempt to pass the "Equality Act," because I doubt the shrieky fervor propping up the myth can last all that much longer. It's starting to undermine women's sports, and it shouldn't be too long before the massive wave of blowback from the sexual maiming of children hits. I'd also expect that, if a whole lot of dudes actually start actually showing up in women's restrooms and locker rooms, that'll accelerate the blowback process. So it's important for progressives to get the mythology ensconced in the law pretty soon, making it more difficult to dislodge. Because ten years from now this is all going to look like Satanic-Panic-level mass hysteria. 
   Anyway, props to Allen et al. for doing this. Everyone who speaks out publicly gets brutally dogpiled by the trans cult and progressives generally. So it's a nontrivial thing to do.

John Soloman: Steele Dossier Easily Disproven, But FBI Didn't Bat An Eye

And things may be about to get even interestinger.

Massive Increase In Extinctions?

NYT Editorial: Assange's Indictment Aims At The Heart Of The First Amendment

C. L. Bryant: "Biden Isn't Too Moderate; Democrats Are Too Radical. Trump May Be The Best Option"

Everything's crazy now.

What Swordfish Use Their Swords For

Doxxing Contra Science

William Josephson: 17 Reasons Why The National Popular Vote Initiative Is Likely To Fail

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Rep. Steve Cohen Questions Pelosi's Patriotism Over Impeachment

Me: Nobody can make Trump look good.

More On The Radicalization Of The Blue Team: "Obama Without Obama-ism: Dems Embrace The Ex-President But Not His Policies"

What was liberal four years ago is insufficiently radical today.
This is part of what's dangerous about the left, IMO: it thinks that, if I want to keep things the way they are, and you want them to change, it's a kind of toss-up. It fails to recognize that change should be undertaken cautiously, with the expectation that it won't work. The status quo should get presumption. Unless it's overtly and undeniably bad. But not every disagreement is like the civil rights movement.
If you think that we need a mad dash to the left from Obama's policies, you've lost it, man.
OTOH: if the Pubs had not so ruthlessly opposed everything Obama tried to do, I doubt we'd be in as bad a fix as we are now. On the other other hand, the ACA was a gigantic change.
Eh, my $0.02.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Pentagon: Climate Channge Will Destroy Us: Britain Will Have Siberian Climate By 2020

So saith the Pentagon...in 2004.
Guess it's gonna be a really rough year...

Pelosi Accuses Trump Of Cover-Up, But Tamps Down Impeachment Talk

If this weren't about the U.S.A. threatening to go into a tailspin, it'd be really fascinating.
I did not know about Congress's inherent contempt power. Now I know.
I believe Trump to be kinda crooked, and the Congressional Dems to be kinda loony. So, honestly, I don't know which side I expect to come out the biggest loser in this battle of the network nitwits.
Or, well...actually, you can't really get busted for looniness...but you can get busted for even one instance of proven crookedness. So I guess I'll have to go with: advantage: Dems. Surely there's something sufficiently shady in Trump's financial records to bust him on, no? Though, OTOH, I often think: he had to have some pretty good accountants and tax lawyers working for him. So maybe not.

Deutsche Bank Can Turn Over Trump's Finandial Records

Uh-oh...the fewmets could hit the windmill...

Peter Wehner: Progressivism Is Radicalizing The Democratic Party

Wehner starts out by gesturing at rightward movement in the GOP. But it's thin gruel compared to this:
To more fully grasp the leftward lurch of the Democratic Party, it’s useful to run through some of the ideas that are now being seriously talked about and embraced by leading members of the party—ideas that together would be fiscally ruinous, invest massive and unwarranted trust in central planners, and weaken America’s security.
  • The Green New Deal, a 10-year effort to eliminate fossil fuels “as much as is technologically feasible” that would completely transform the American economy, put the federal government in partial or complete control over large sectors, and retrofit every building in America. It would change the way we travel and eat, switch the entire electrical grid to renewable energy sources, and for good measure “guarantee” high-paying jobs, affordable housing, and universal health care. It would be astronomically costly and constitute by far the greatest centralization of power in American history.
  • Medicare for all, which would greatly expand the federal role in health care. Some versions would wipe out the health-insurance industry and do away with employer-sponsored health plans that now cover roughly 175 million Americans. This would be hugely disruptive and unpopular (70 percent of Americans are happy with their coverage), and would exacerbate the worst efficiencies of an already highly inefficient program.
  • Make college tuition-free and debt-free, with the no-debt promise including both tuition and living expenses—a highly expensive undertaking ($50 billion a year or so just for the federal government)—that would transfer money from less wealthy families whose children do not attend college to wealthier families whose children do. It could also have potentially devastating effects on many private, not-for-profit colleges.
Read more »

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Eric Boehm: Justin Amash: Trump Has Engaged In Impeachable Conduct

IANALANAYp (that is: IANAL And Neither Are You...probably...).
But I'm not particularly opposed to impeachment--though I don't have any real idea whether Justin Amash is right. But, hell, run the charges up the flagpole and see who salutes.
   I do have some sympathy for Trump on this score, since its the blue team's inability to accept the results of the 2016 election, and their resultant fantasies about Russian interference, that seem to have driven Trump to his acts of possible obstruction. But what really matters would seem to be what he did, not what drove him to it. (Obviously, part of what qualifies one to be president is an ability to roll with such crazy, partisan punches; Obama did it, m*****f*****s. He did it A LOT.)
   I think we're in a terrible bind. Just about the only thing standing between us and the abject madness on the left is the Unindicted-Co-Conspirator-In-Chief...himself a crackpot of Biblical proportions. And, it would seem, rather a crook. And a loudmouthed, narcissistic con man. And probably a sexual assailant. Who could do God knows what with an errant tweet. Though, IMO, his policies aren't that bad, especially compared to the insanity we're likely to get when the other side gets back in the driver's seat. At least he's doing something to mitigate the border crisis, and dulling some of the craziest edges of the blue team's policies, e.g. in Ed (bless you, Betsy DeVos). Honestly, I think his policies are ok--far less harmful than what the blues are likely to inflict on us. Overall, anyway. If he can resist pressure from the neocons, and avoid starting a shooting war in Iraq, I actually kinda think...and I can't believe I'm saying this...that he might be the least-disastrous option in 2020. WTF? Did I actually write that sentence? Et tu, Smith? What happened to you? You used to be cool...
   Well, maybe I'd better think more about that... Don't take that too seriously. It can't be right...right? Perhaps it's the bourbon typing...
   Anyway, though impeaching Trump is fairly likely to make us worse off, I have no interest in defending obstruction of justice. ITMFA. Let the Senate decide.
   My fantasy is that Trump gets to appoint moderate-conservative, anti-activist, non-pro-life replacements for RBG and Thomas, then he gets thrown out on his ear in 2020 (or sooner), but the Pubs keep the Senate and retake the House. President Kerry and VP Wesley Clark talk/slap some sense back into the blue team, and it returns to the center just in time to hammer the Pubs in 2024...
   A boy can dream, can't he? A boy is fed up, and wishes a pox on both their m*therf*ckin' houses. A boy is way, way sick of this here shit. Also, a boy may have been drinking...

Allen Fahrington: "After Academia"

I think I posted this previously...but even if so: here it is again. I think it's extremely interesting:
  These radical ideologies are empowering, but not in the inspiring way that this term is usually used. This power corrupts and, more importantly, it attracts the easily corrupted. Concurrently, a similar corrupting process seems to have occurred in academia, which has ballooned into an administrative morass, the primary purpose of which is to accrue rent-seeking profit, as predicted by Parkinson’s Law. Parkinson’s Law holds that a task will take as long as the time allotted to complete it. It seems to be a kind of social equilibrium theorem applicable to any complex organisation. Normally such organisations would simply collapse under the weight of their own bureaucratic inefficiency, but academia is different. It will never be allowed to collapse because education is a right. And what kind of monster could possibly be against education? And so the administrative bloat continues, unabated. If we are to address this problem and rescue education, we first need to distinguish between what I will call the classical and modern variants. Classical education involves the acquisition of culturally and scientifically useful knowledge, and fostering an ability to think critically to further understanding. Modern education, on the other hand, is accreditation by an officially sanctioned seminary.
   Defenders of “education,” who more often than not have a stake in the present racket prescribed by the modern definition, like to pretend that they are part of a system upholding the classical definition. At Evergreen, this was obviously false—critical thinking was subordinate to dogma and Bret Weinstein was hounded from his job for having the temerity to defend it. The university was conceived to provide scholars with a secure redoubt in which to conduct their studies, which would be partly funded by letting willing students pick up a thing or two by being in close proximity. This was a very sensible proposition in the 1300s, but is looking like a fantasy today. There are no safe spaces for scholars, and students can mimic proximity to scholars for the cost of an Internet connection. Willing students can get 20 or 30 separate undergraduate degrees’ worth of (classically defined) education from MIT OpenCourseWare alone. But many just want a piece of paper that says they are an adequately socialised member of society, approved of by the cultural elite.
   Peter Thiel has given a uniquely scathing critique of the insanity of this system. He questions whether higher education, as an economic exchange, represents much of an investment anymore—the student defers gratification to reap higher rewards in the future, or the student enjoys a four-year party as a consumption good. Thiel says he originally thought of higher education as consumption masquerading as investment, but now thinks of it as an even crazier combination of concepts: as insurance against failure in life in general, and as a kind of Veblen good that is priced uncompetitively so as to confer status on those who can afford it. This produces a ridiculous situation in which insurance is desirable, not because something disastrous is prudently insured against, but because the disaster would be the ignominy of failing to purchase insurance in the first place. It is effectively a Ponzi scheme. No wonder Thiel calls college administrators subprime mortgage brokers. They get a cut on selling pieces of paper that are only as valuable as we all pretend they are.
   This bizarre economic dynamic, coupled with Parkinson’s Law, coupled again with a slow motion ideological coup, has landed us with the following picture of higher education: students are required to enslave themselves economically to the cultural elite as a toll to gain admittance. The vulnerability in the interim is then exploited to manipulate social signalling and behaviour: if you don’t play along, your life will be ruined. But since academia is considered a bottleneck for success, those who don’t enter the raffle forfeit this leverage and are rewarded with dismal prospects.
   The only people really immune from all this are the actual elites, whose children are predominantly upper-class liberal whites. They receive all the same social assurances without giving up any leverage, and price out any remotely similar opportunity for the less fortunate to whom they ceaselessly and guiltily pledge their ostentatious support and solidarity. Higher education has become a transfer of wealth from the future earnings of the aspirational lower and middle classes to a metastasising administrative parasite, which funds the permanence of the cultural elite by wielding its leverage over anybody foolish enough to dissent.
   We need to stop wringing our hands over how to save academia and acknowledge that its disease is terminal. This need not be cause for solemnity; it can inspire celebration. It would allow us to shift our energies away from the abject failure of modern education and to refocus on breathing new life into the classical alternative. The social implications could be enormous—the lower and middle classes could be spared economic and cultural enslavement to the elite, leading not only to greater opportunity, equality, and worthwhile diversity, but frankly to greater happiness and fulfilment in life.

Are We In A Constitutional Crisis?

Dahlia Lithwick assembles some lawyer's opinions.
This doesn't take into account today's events.
Which don't seem at all good to me.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Trump and Deutsche Bank

Should Birth-Order Be Taken Into Account By Affirmative Action?

Makes a huge difference.
If your goal is to offset social and/or biological disadvantages, seems like it would be difficult to ignore.
I've long thought that being the oldest child was one of the biggest advantages I've had in life. Not that you can necessarily figure this stuff out by personal observation.

Wealth Inequality In The U.S.

Prima facie suboptimal...but not sure how to think about it after that. One worries...but one may not even be sure what about...if one is particularly ignorant about economics and policy... One supposes one should at least learn enough to know what to worry about...

Larison: Trump's Big Lie About The [Iran] Nucler Deal

Conservatives are delusional about the Iran nuclear deal. I guess it's an extension of their ODS generally: the Obama administration did the deal...ergo it's bad...awful...Kenyan.... They seem to think that, because they can imagine a possible deal they'd like better, the actual deal is bad. As if there were no other party involved in the deal, with actual interests that actually constrain agreement.
Anyway, Larison writes:
The president and other administration officials have been telling lies for months that Iran still seeks nuclear weapons, but they are rarely called out for it. Trump’s declaration that he won’t “let” Iran have nuclear weapons is disturbing because it shows how divorced from reality he and his Iran policy are. At one point in the interview, he asserts that “five years from now, they’re going to have an open path to making nuclear weapons.” There’s no truth to that. It is a total fabrication. If a path to nuclear weapons existed for Iran, the nuclear deal closed it off. The thing that Trump insists he will stop has already been stopped by the deal that he stupidly calls a “horror show.” Of course, his FoxNews interviewer doesn’t challenge him when he says demonstrably false things like this.
I'm not wild about the way this is all going.

PC Calvinball: Clothing Company Apologizes For Straight Female Model Making Out With Pseudo-Female Robot

Ridiculing the PC/SJ left really just amounts to reporting on them.
So...apparently the idea is that it was wrong for a straight, female model to make out with a robot that looks female? Because...only non-straight models should be allowed to make out with robots that (falsely) appear to be the same sex as the maker-outer? Or...perhaps straights (straighties? The straights? Straight Americans?) are permitted to make out (or appear to make out? Is it actual making out? I have to say, I'm not sure...) with same-sex-appearing robots...but it's impermissible to represent the act? Or impermissible for money to change hands? Maybe the idea is that it's wrong for the company to hire--or pay--a straight person to do such a thing. (Though I read somewhere that, in 'Merica, homosexuals were, on average, wealthier than heterosexuals...so...does that matter, if true? Or maybe it's just homosexual men? I don't know.) Is the idea that only non-heterosexuals can portray non-heterosexuals? But if Smith makes out with robot that vaguely appears to be the same sex as Smith--but in fact, of course, has no sex--is Smith being portrayed as non-heterosexual? I mean, if the apparent sex of the robot matters, is the model straight anymore? I mean, she made out with a pseudo-female robot... So maybe she's non-heterosexual now. And why isn't anyone asking whether the model is robosexual? Should non-robosexuals be able to make out with robots? Shouldn't they have to hire a robosexual American for such a role? And why is no one asking whether the robot gave consent? But if robots can't give consent, wouldn't to insist on consent be to deny sex to robots? That doesn't sound very social-justicey.
   My guess: the company just made this shit up because nobody cared about their commercial. But, of course, this kind of crackpot complaint would be more-or-less par for the course for the social justice left.
   Why, back in my day, the idea was to consider de-emphasizing such classifications. I mean, heterosexuality and homosexuality are things, but why elevate them to principles? If you take the sensible ideas of liberalism and completely f*ck them up so that they're stupid and crazy, you get the contemporary left.
   Oh, and, incidentally, the thing didn't even say that the model is heterosexual; it said that she "identifies" as such. But "identification" has nothing at all to do with what someone really is; as the term is used on the left, to "identify" as F is simply to say that you're F. So, even by the standards of the left, there's no evidence that they have any right to get their petticoats in riot. We don't know what the model's sexual preferences are--all we know is what she says they are. And, of course: what they really are is none of anyone's business, anyway. 
   Oh and also: who says that a person's preferences with respect to humans should indicate their preferences with respect to robots? Maybe you can be human-straight and robo-...not straight.
   Or maybe anyone who seriously worries about this sort of thing's an idiot...
   Oh and: the only really "offensive" thing about any of this is the shit where they pretend that the robot has thoughts, and that it says something about "my truth." But, of course, nobody has truth. It's not something you can possess. Truths and falsehoods are impersonal. 
   Robots are apparently shitty at philosophy.*





* Anybody want to bet on whether I get fired for saying this in 20 years? 
Trick question! I'll get fired for saying something else waaay before that... #PHILOSOPHYISDEAD #STUPIDROBOTS #HASHTAGSAREIDIOTIC

C. S. Lewis On "Moral Busybodies"

Robby Soave, in his post on the Game of Thrones finale, reminds us of this C. S. Lewis quote:
Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth.
I make comparative points like this, too, but in more reflective moments I realize that I'm not very sure about them. Lewis's point is plausible, but that's all I can say. It's maybe more important to make the non-comparative point: regardless of whether they're better or worse than the robber barons, moral busybodies, left or right, will make your life hellish. The first group of moral busybodies I encountered in my youth was composed of conservative Christians. It took me awhile to realize that there was an analogous group left of the liberal left--the left-wing moral busybodies. Both groups want to micromanage our lives. Both...God help us...have theories--about what we should think, what we should be permitted to do, and how we should be. Both are dogmatically certain of their theories. Both crush dissent mercilessly when they can. Both should be diligently opposed and kept as far away from power as possible.
   One difference that concerns me, obviously, is that one group of moral busybodies is taken seriously in academia and the rest of the cultural superstructure. The other's been shoved out of power and isn't taken seriously at all--which, by my lights, is good. But the former one is granted enormous power and influence, despite having given us all the evidence we could possibly want that it's no less nutty and totalitarian than the latter.
   "Robber barons" are a separate problem--a problem I've got no particular insight into.

Ryan Goodman: "How Trump's Stonewalling Puts Our Democracy At Risk"

Not convincing, but I don't really care. I'd be inclined to think that Congress should, in general, get more rather than less information. (Though, of course, we know they can't keep their mouths shut...so legitimate state secrets seem like a different matter.) I have no idea what's going on.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

The Great Liz Phair: Polyester Bride


Fox On The Lun

Speaking of f*cking awesome Japanese bluegrass...
[This links to the end of the video...can't fix it...dunno why.]

Heather Greene Knows Her Booze

Impressive:

Nobody's Darling: Japanese Bluegrass Band

First, and completely independently of the cultural dust-up, I've long loved Japanese bluegrass. I'm way psyched that folks from a culture about as different as its possible to be recognize the awesomeness of bluegrass and old time. Second, they're just damn good at it. From the first notes of this you can tell that they're on point and just get it.
But, since we're on the topic anyway: "cultural appropriation" is bullshit.
Culture is "appropriation" if it's anything; it's "that which is passed down."
Anyway: keep it up, Japanese bros; you absolutely get it.

Sex Strike?

facepalm
Making fun of the PCs/SJWs is easy largely because they do most of the heavy lifting themselves.

Martin van Creveld: "Trump's Scary Sabre-Rattling In The Middle East"

link
Trump's unpredictability is perhaps my biggest concern about him.

Former NRC Chairman: "I Oversaw The U.S. Nucler Power Industry. Now I Think It Should Be Banned"

[I]
This view should absolutely be taken into consideration--though, of course, we don't want to weigh an op-ed too heavily. It should direct our attention to more serious arguments for the view that nuclear plants are a lot more dangerous than we think.
   I'm skeptical. It seems extremely unlikely that both of the following can be true:
  • [a]  Anthropogenic climate change is such an emergency that we must [do whatever it is we're supposed to do...cut carbon emissions in half?] in a decade or [CATASTROPHE!]
  • [b]  Nuclear is so dangerous that we shouldn't rely on it even given [a].
The stronger the case for [a], the less likely it is that [b] is true. If [a] is true, we should be willing to accept extremely risky alternatives to fossil fuels. We should, e.g., be willing to accept a fair number of major nuclear accidents
   I like the planet-killer analogy:

Suppose we discover a planet-killing asteroid that will hit Earth in ten years. One (ridiculous, science-fictiony) way to stop it is to build a shit-ton of nuclear plants (or some similarly risky technology) to laser-beam it out of the sky (or whatever). Or, we can try a moonshot in which we transform some safer technology (like solar, or whatever); but this won't work at current levels of technology; it requires massive technological leaps forward--leaps that may well elude us.
Seems prima facie crazy to take the second course of action. If we really are facing the end of everything if we fail, then we should go with proven technology--almost no matter how high the costs. How many Three Mile Islands...or Fukushimas...or even Chernobyls...would it be worth to save the Earth? Answer: a whole damn lot.
   Second, I doubt Jaczko is right about the cost/risks of nuclear. By some estimates, nuclear is the safest means of generating power, with fewer deaths per terawatt hour than even solar. Of course nuclear doesn't poison us gradually and steadily the way coal does; but every now and then it will likely poison us a lot. It's good to keep that in mind--comparison is a bit tricky. However, what the numbers tell us is that, thus far, even given the risks of occasional disaster, nuclear has been very safe.
   I spent about a year in high school reading a lot about energy independence for debate, and focused a lot on nuclear. That doesn't make me all that well-informed...but I did read and think about it a lot, and it's something I've sort of kept my eye on to some extent since. I don't have and don't deserve a real position on the issue, and I'm not really a nuclear enthusiast. But I'm inclined to accept a conditional: if the climate catastrophists are right, then we should go nuclear. Jaczko's op-ed motivates me to read more about it, but it doesn't change my mind.
   One reason I'm skeptical of such arguments is: I'm skeptical of contemporary progressivism generally, and especially of its views of anthropogenic global warming, including the Green New Deal. I think it's clear that leftier progressivism (painting with a broad brush, yet again...) is using climate change as a stalking horse; it doesn't even believe its own hype about the subject. This op-ed coheres with my doubts. Progressives have always wanted to develop alternative energy. Along comes AGW. We're told that it's the greatest emergency humanity has ever faced. We have ten years to make massive changes to energy production. But somehow that ends up also meaning: adopting a long list of progressive policies...policies they've already long-wanted...including (a) alternative energy and (b) stuff completely unrelated to climate change. The latter include, just to name a few: universal health care, paid vacations, "healthy food initiatives," "free" college, affordable housing, family medical leave, a $15 minimum wage, some strange stuff about "indigenous rights"...you name it...no matter how unrelated it is to climate change, if progressives want it, it's in the GND. This is obvious bullshit. One (slightly less obviously BS) aspect of using AGW as leverage to get what progressives already want for independent reasons is: using it to get alternative energy. As with the other stuff, it makes no sense (though at last this one makes a little sense); if we're actually trying to avert catastrophe, it's utterly irrational to overlook nuclear (coincidentally: antecedently disliked by the left) and gamble on solar (coincidentally: antecedently liked by the left).
   Obviously the GND is not a plan that would be advanced by someone who actually believed we had ten years to save the Earth. Such a person would put all other progressive projects on hold for the next ten years, focusing exclusively on "saving the planet." The last thing he would do would be to water-down the initiative and scatter his energies by trying to achieve completely unrelated pet goals like better school lunches. He'd also prefer proven technologies to uncertain ones--e.g. nuclear to solar. He'd make a deal with conservatives: back me on climate change and I'll give you everything else until the problem is solved. But somehow, magically, even thought we must, allegedly, immediately go to CLIMECON 1, progressives need make no concessions whatsoever. In fact, climate change magically and inscrutably becomes a reason to adopt everything they want.
   So, no. I don't buy it. And it'll take a lot of evidence to convince me of Jazko's conclusion--that the nuclear objection to the GND is unsound because, hey, we suddenly realize that nuclear is way more dangerous than we thought it was! Despite being responsible for more-or-less 0 deaths ever in the U.S. More people are probably going to die installing rooftop solar panels next year than are going to die from nuclear power...
Read more »

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Has China Already Lost The Trade War?

Derp...Of Course The AL Law Is Unenforceable...WTH Was I Thinking?

Also MoJo: "[Calm Down:] The AL Abortion Law Is Not Going To Overturn Roe"
(What precedes the colon seems to have been deleted from the title):
Commentators from CNN’s Chris Cillizza to Fox News’ Judge Andrew Napolitano have predicted that the law will end up at the Supreme Court, which could use it to overturn Roe. But Ivey, as well as the legislators who passed the bill, knew that Alabama’s abortion ban would never take effect, at least until the Supreme Court really does overturn Roe. “As citizens of this great country, we must always respect the authority of the US Supreme Court even when we disagree with their decisions,” Ivey conceded in her statement at the bill’s signing, admitting that the law was unenforceable because of Roe. And the Supreme Court isn’t likely to hear a case over the Alabama bill, or similarly extreme anti-abortion measures passed recently in other states.
Sometimes brain no worky.

MoJo: Previously Unreleased Poll Shows AL Voters Disapprove Of Extreme Abortion Ban

Not surprising:
Alabama is a conservative, pro-life state, but most voters there actually don’t support banning abortion in cases of rape and incest. A poll conducted last year but never before released showed that just 31 percent of voters in Alabama support banning abortion in all cases, while 65 percent of voters oppose banning abortion in cases of rape and incest.
Also not surprising:
“It’s a self-inflicted political pain for Republicans, not just in Alabama but frankly across the country,” says Zac McCrary, a Democratic pollster based in Montgomery, Alabama. Now, he says, Republicans have to be prepared to take a position on the issue of rape and incest exceptions—something they were probably hoping to avoid. Already, we’ve seen Trump and other Republicans in Washington trying to thread that needle, expressing broad support for banning abortions while not backing the Alabama law.