Tuesday, August 30, 2016

If Trump were to be elected president (and there’s only a sliver of a chance that he will be), nothing will change in this country in regard to immigration, illegal or otherwise

I’m beginning to think that Donald Trump was right when he said that he could “stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody” and not lose support among certain segments of the population.
writes Benny Huang in a Freedom Daily post entitled The Only Reason to Vote for Trump Just Vanished (Trump has "softened" on his signature issue because he has no principles).
The man who crafted a campaign around two primary issues—illegal immigration and trade—just caved on the first of these. After months of being the toughest talker on illegal immigration, he’s basically come around to the establishment’s way of thinking—namely, that there are just too many lawbreakers out there to do anything about it now. Trump maintains that if he’s elected president he will still build a wall on the southern border, though I suspect that he left that for a future flip-flop.

And so the great climb-down begins.

During an appearance on FOX News last week, Trump said that “the first thing we’re going to do if and when I win is we’re going to get rid of all of the bad ones.” What Trump is basically saying is that there should be amnesty for illegals. Sure, if they commit some other crime after they commit the crime of entering our country illegally, Trump will go after them; but all of those “law-abiding” illegal aliens (an oxymoron if ever there was one) will be left alone. That’s amnesty no matter what you call it.

If Trump were to be elected president, and there’s only a sliver of a chance that he will be, nothing will change in this country in regard to immigration, illegal or otherwise. The lawless open border will remain lawless and open, the Border Patrol we pay to pretend they’re enforcing the law will continue to play make-believe, and the rule of law will continue to be a big joke. Don’t believe me? Donald Trump admitted in the same FOX News interview that his policy would be a continuation of his two predecessors.
“What people don’t know is that Obama got tremendous numbers of people out of the country. Bush, the same thing. Lots of people were brought out of the country with the existing laws. Well, I’m going to do the same thing.”
Apparently Bush and Obama had the situation under control the whole time. Who knew? His remark leaves me wondering why he chose to run for president on this issue when in fact he was perfectly content with the status quo.
Some people are shocked by Trump’s mealy-mouthed backtracking but I am not. Despite his strutting around in a hard hat at a West Virginia coal miner’s rally, Trump is not a working class hero because he is not working class. Donald Trump is, was, and always will be a certified member of the employer class, which means that he really likes cheap labor.

Of all the Republican candidates for president this past year Trump was perhaps the second squishiest on illegal immigration after Jeb Bush. It wasn’t that Trump didn’t talk tough on the issue, it’s that he didn’t mean a word of it. Donald Trump was, to my knowledge, the only candidate among the seventeen who had ever actually employed illegal aliens. In 1980, illegal Polish immigrants cleared the parcel of land where Trump Tower stands today. Trump has claimed that he can’t be held responsible for the actions of every contractor and subcontractor on the project but there’s evidence in FBI files that he knew exactly what was going on and approved it. In 2013, after several amnesty activists met with Trump, they claimed that he had bragged to them about employing illegal aliens at a golf course he owns in Florida. They left the meeting feeling as if he were on their side—and he was.

Those of you who voted for him have every right to feel betrayed. Trump latched onto illegal immigration because he knew that it was burdening your communities but he doesn’t care about you and he never did. He cares about power. In that regard he’s not all that different from Hillary Clinton or her husband, both of whom were once friends of the Donald.

Now that Donald Trump has burned his supporters on the issue that supposedly distinguished him from the pack, what reason remains to vote for him? I ask this question as a conservative to other conservatives: If Trump is not going to be the leader who finally restores some sanity to the lawlessness that has swept our country, what exactly is gained by electing him?

The obvious answer, I suppose, is that he’s not Hillary Clinton. But is that really the best that his supporters can say about him? Jeb Bush and Lindsey Graham are also not Hillary Clinton either. Lady Gaga is not Hillary Clinton. The guy who picks up my trash every Thursday is not Hillary Clinton. There’s got to be a stronger case for the Republican candidate than simply that he’s not the Democrat candidate.

And really, is he so different from Hillary Clinton? I don’t think so. As Joe Scarborough once said, Trump is basically a “centrist Democrat.” … He is, to put it bluntly, a lowlife dirtbag with no redeeming qualities.

But none of this was supposed to matter, you see, because he was tough on illegal immigration. As I’ve been told over and over again since this grueling campaign began, we’ve got to focus like a laser beam on reasserting authority over our own country and its borders. This argument was advanced eloquently by the writer Ann Coulter, a pundit I liked very much until she went off the deep end for Donald. As she explained in her book “Adios, America”:
“What happens with immigration will determine whether America continues to exist or becomes a Third World republic that will never elect another Republican—in other words, ‘California.’ It’s more important than gun rights, right to life, taxes, or Iran’s nuclear program—or whatever other issue you care to cite, because immigration will decide all issues, once and for all, in favor of the Democrats.”
It’s a curious argument—that we can only win the big issues by surrendering on them for the moment to focus on a single one. Will we ever be able to undo all the damage we’ve done by punting all the other issues to the Democrats? I kind of doubt it; they’re skilled at making their policy changes irreversible.

Now that Donald Trump has officially adopted the Rubio/Bush/Bush/Schumer position on illegal immigration, the rest of us are kind of left in the lurch here. The argument before was that even though he sucks on nearly every issue, at least he’s going to start deporting those illegals! Now the argument seems to be that he sucks on every issue including illegal immigration…but at least he’s not Hillary!

This man is the worst mistake the GOP ever made. The positions he takes are written in Jell-O because he has absolutely no principles.
Related: The ultimate political chameleon, Trump was a wealthy, secular, country club Republican who bragged of hiring illegal aliens
Donald Trump either doesn’t know or doesn’t care about the defined boundaries of federal power

Monday, August 29, 2016

Misleading Statistics: Would the EU Really Dominate the Olympics in Medals Won If It Were "United"?

There is a meme online, as there has been four (and more) years before (I first heard it years ago by the presenter of a French TV news program), claiming that — imagine! — if the European Union were truly united, they would dominate the amount of medals won at the Olympic Games.
This is for my US friends who think they are ahead in the 2016 Olympics. Only because Europe has no sense of unity!
It is nonsense, of course, utter nonsense.

It is also evidence of the misleading nature of statistics, not to mention common folks' tendency to trust simple catchphrases.

Sure, if you add up the medals from France, and Germany, and Denmark, and the UK (for how much longer?), you arrive at a greater total number of medals.

But listen: you can't have it both ways; either you compete as one entity or you compete as 28 (soon 27).

If the EU truly had a "sense of unity", you wouldn't have up to 28 different entities (nations) competing in each sports branch at the Olympics, you would only have one. The EU "representative" might turn out to be a Swede in one area (curling?), a Spaniard in another (bull-fighting?), a German or a Pole in a third (sausage-making?). Maybe, in one given year, a plurality, or a majority, of contenders might all come from one single country. (Presumably there would have been an EU competition, a mini-Olympics if you will, beforehand — although it is a safe bet that the pétanque contender would hail from France.)

Otherwise, you have to admit the "solution" isn't a simple as the would-be statisticians would make you believe.

Indeed, why stop there?

If a certain multitude of medals ought to be counted as one, why shouldn't the logical conclusion go in the other direction, and have unitary competitors "divided" into their respective constituencies?

Why shouldn't Canada ought to have one third to half as many candidates (or teams) as the EU for each sports branch, not 1 as now but 9 extra for the Canucks' 10 provinces (Ontario, Québec, British Columbia, etc…)?

Shouldn't the United States, meanwhile, have nearly double (!) the number of candidates (or teams) as the EU, an extra 49 for a total of 50 states, with contenders from Texas, Massachusetts, North Dakota, etc, etc, etc?

Similarly, in the Soviet era, the USSR had one candidate (or one team) per sports branch at the Olympics, not 15 for the number of its constituent (Soviet Socialist) republics.

On the other hand, the USSR itself had representation in the far more important area of the United Nations (as did/as do Canada and the United States — albeit not the EU), but so did Soviet member republics Ukraine and Belorussia — which was nothing but a sham, of course. (Again, Florida, South Carolina, Rhode Island, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Prince Edward Island had/have, needless to say, no membership at the UN.)

How sure can you be so sure that the EU would dominate the Olympics if its' 28 contenders had to compete against the Canadians' 10 as well as against the Americans' 50?

Related: Tyrannies demand immense efforts of their populations to bring forth trifles, and there can be no trifle more trifling than an Olympic record, or even a victory without a record

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Does it matter what our kids learn about Islam in public schools?

Does it matter what our kids learn about Islam in public schools?
asks Benny Huang, a veteran who served in Iraq. (Related: An Australian School Allows Muslim Students to Walk Out On National Anthem.)
Jenny McKeigue of Olmsted Falls, Ohio thinks so. This small town mother has battled her local school board for about four years to get them to remove parts of the curriculum that seem to promote Islam.

In 2012, McKeigue learned that her son had been shown a video in his seventh grade social studies class that she considered to be blatant Muslim propaganda. The video, an episode of the discontinued “30 Days” reality TV series, featured a “regular American” (the host’s terminology, not mine) spending thirty days immersing himself in the culture and faith of America’s most Muslim city—Dearborn, Michigan. The regular American’s name is Dave Stacy and according to the host he’s “a husband and father, a practicing Christian, and a red-blooded, beer-drinking, pork-eating American.” He also hails from (surprise!) West Virginia and strikes me as southern in his manner. Though Dave is not an actor, he plays the “role” of the provincial hayseed in need of reform.

The episode’s central message is that Americans are uncomfortable with Islam because they know so little about it. This snub may be what perturbed Jenny McKeigue so much; it certainly angered me. Those Americans who will admit to being uncomfortable with the rising Islamic tide are neither irrational nor uninformed. Wherever large Muslim communities take root, non-Muslims end up dying or at least having their rights curtailed because Islam will settle for nothing less than dominance. Dearborn is no exception. That reality was not expressed in the video and if it had been it would not have been screened in a public school.

The race is on to educate your children about Islam and the result will have great implications for the future. My personal experience, I believe, offers some insight into how education prepares (or fails to prepare) young adults for the world they live in.

In the fall of 1995 I was a high school freshmen looking to fill a hole in my class schedule and I stumbled upon a world history course from a good teacher who happened to be a very opinionated liberal. I learned a lot that year but not all of it was actually true.

One unit concerned itself with major world religions—Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and several eastern religions. I recall the portion on Christianity being the shortest and shallowest, which may have been because the teacher assumed we were already familiar with that religion—an unfounded assumption even twenty years ago. When the focus turned to Islam we learned about the five pillars of Islam, that Islam has two main denominations (Sunnis and Shiites), and that Islam considers Jesus to be a great prophet though not divine. The teacher taught us that Muslims invented algebra and the concept of zero, two “facts” that I later discovered to be falsehoods. Neither concept was truly “invented” and both pre-date Islam by centuries.

Then the teacher mentioned that Islam has a slight problem with radicalism. Although the vast majority of the world’s Muslims are peaceful, he explained, Islam has a few bad apples who give the religion a bad rap. He claimed that the bad apples are mostly Shiites and even within that subset they represent only a small minority. The lesson we were supposed to internalize is that every religion has its zealots. It hardly seemed fair that our society singled out one particular religion for scorn.

Three years later, al-Qaeda struck American embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. I chalked it up to those few bad apples I’d heard about in class. In 2000, when I was a private in the Army, I learned that jihadists had blown a hole in the side of the USS Cole as it docked in Yemen. More bad apples.

Then came the mother of all terrorist attacks: 9/11. The only way I knew how to make sense of the slaughter was to refer to my ninth grade history course. I assumed that the attackers must have been Shiites (they weren’t) and that their cause and tactics were anathema to most Muslims. It took me years to discover just how wrong I was about this.

Unlike most Americans, I was not glued to my television in the hours and days after 9/11. The entire US military was on high alert and I had to stand guard in case of copycat attacks. Later on I heard that Muslims had been seen on television dancing in the streets. I hadn’t seen the revelry with my own eyes so I dismissed the story as a rumor. I found it difficult to accept that anyone would celebrate the attacks because it implied that the hijackers enjoyed at least some popular support, an idea that ran contrary to everything I had been told. But in fact it had happened—from East Jerusalem to New Jersey, Muslims rejoiced that the bully America had gotten her nose bloodied.
My “few bad apples” assumption also meant that I had no idea in the fall of 2001 just what a long and difficult struggle my country was undertaking. I believed that the vast majority of Muslims hated Osama bin Laden as much as I did and that most would gladly assist us in taking out their trash. I also assumed that the number of people we were going to war with was relatively small—perhaps a few hundred fighters holed up in the caves of Afghanistan. It wouldn’t take the world’s unchallenged superpower long to flush out a band of reprobates from Tora Bora, would it?

How wrong I was. Take Pakistan, for example, a country that almost certainly gave Osama bin Laden shelter. A 2007 poll found that 46% of Pakistanis had a favorable opinion of bin Laden and 43% had a favorable opinion of al-Qaeda. Almost half the population admires the late terror mastermind! Is it any wonder the country exploded with rage when we finally killed him? Osama bin Laden is very much a hero in the Muslim world, something like Nelson Mandela to black South Africans. Until we come to terms with this fact, we will never have a clear picture of the times we live in.

As the years went by I learned that this thing called the “War on Terror” was bigger than I could have imagined. It wasn’t just about hunting down a few guys in Afghan caves and we weren’t going to receive any assistance from that “vast majority” of Muslims I kept hearing about. Some Muslim countries offered their assistance, of course, though mostly because the US government has deep pockets. Some of those “allies” were also double-dealing, including Pakistan.

I’ve learned a lot in the fifteen years since 9/11. I was not surprised, for example, to learn that Belgian Muslims celebrated in the streets after last March’s terror attack in Brussels, or that Muslims refused to help Belgian police locate fugitive terrorists. It was like 9/11 all over again—many rejoiced in the carnage and none wanted to help the infidels root out the bad guys.

I have often wondered how my perceptions of the post-9/11 world might have been different if I had never taken that world history class. Might it have been better to be uninformed than partially misinformed? I don’t know. I do know, however, that the public schools could have better equipped me to understand the world that awaited me after graduation.

This is why it matters what we teach our children about Islam. A world religions unit in a high school history class might seem trivial but it’s all some people will ever learn about Islam. We’ve got to do better than we’ve been doing, with our ludicrous “bad apples” theory of Islamic terrorism and our constant drawing of false equivalences. Our lessons should not be polemical of course, because that would mean replacing pro-Islamic propaganda with anti-Islamic propaganda. But they should at least be honest. We’ve been lying to ourselves for at least twenty years about the extent of popular support that Muslim terrorists enjoy within their communities, and it’s time we stopped. We won’t stop telling that lie, of course, because without it we’d forced admit that there’s broader culpability for the scourge of Islamic terror.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Tyrannies demand immense efforts of their populations to bring forth trifles, and there can be no trifle more trifling than an Olympic record, or even a victory without a record

Once again the only country of any size that, as far as I can see, emerges from the Olympic Games with any credit is India
opines Theodore Dalrymple in Taki's Magazine (thanks to Bojidar Marinov).
Accounting for something like a sixth of the world’s population, it had not—the last time I looked at the table—won a single medal in any event. This proves that, at least in this regard, it has its priorities right. It has steadfastly refused to measure itself by the number of medals it wins at the Olympics and does nothing whatever to encourage its citizens to devote their lives to trying to jump a quarter of a centimeter longer or higher than anyone else in human history.

This is the kind of goal that totalitarian regimes set for their citizens (or perhaps they should be called prisoners). The Marquis de Custine observed a long time ago, in his great book Russia in 1839, that tyrannies demand immense efforts of their populations to bring forth trifles, and there can be no trifle more trifling than an Olympic record, or even a victory without a record. To be the best in the world at something is no achievement unless what you are best at is in itself worthwhile. A man who throws the javelin farther than anyone else (I don’t even know whether the activity exists anymore) is not to be admired but pitied, at least if he has devoted many hours to it, which presumably he must have done to be the best at it in this world of fools.

A thing is not worth doing unless it is worth doing well, but a thing that is done well that is not worth doing is something very bad indeed—far worse, in fact, than a thing worth doing that is done badly. Among other things, it bespeaks a waste of ability, which would be an offense against God if abilities were God-given.

I first thought about the matter many years ago when my brother insisted on taking me to the cinema to see one of those technically sophisticated but in all other respects childish films that are often commercially very successful.

 … the deliberate production of intellectual, moral, and artistic dross—what Orwell called prolefeed in Nineteen Eighty-Four—is a peculiarly malign form of cynicism.

 … The games have long been a kind of window on political pathology, perhaps even before the Berlin Olympics of 1936. My mother saw Hitler at the Olympic Stadium, and I remember seeing the Olympic flame borne aloft past me in Amalfi on the way to Rome back in 1960, by which time the games had long been a deeply vicious spectacle.

Who now remembers the Press sisters, who both won gold medals for the Soviet Union at the Rome Olympics, and who precipitately retired as athletes when obligatory sex tests were introduced? I suppose these days such tests would not put them off or be regarded as relevant; after all, you are now the sex—or gender, to use the correct terminology—that you think you are.
But at any rate, the success of the Press sisters (or brothers, as they were disparagingly called) was promoted in some quarters as evidence of the superiority of the Soviet social and political system, as if putting the shot, or throwing the discus, or jumping the hurdles (all activities in which the two Presses excelled, at least against feminine competition) were what Alexander Pope called the “proper study of Mankind.”

 … There was an article recently in The Guardian, the Izvestia of British liberals (liberals in the American sense, that is, not in the European economic sense), praising the glories of central planning, in witness whereof was the success—not to say, total world dominance—of the British cycling team. This was attributed to the government’s “investment,” in my view a criminal malversation of funds, in facilities for racing cyclists.

Let us admit for a moment what yet has to be proved, that the British success in this sphere was not the consequence of superior pharmacology: We may reasonably ask what kind of person would rejoice in such a victory for his country. Surely only a moron, though it must be admitted that such imbecility is pretty evenly spread around the globe, with the exception of India.

Truly, India is the last best hope of humanity. Long may it continue, to its eternal glory, to win no medals.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Despite his defeat, Cruz positioned himself perfectly to reassert his core argument in 2020

Ted Cruz Is Still Running for President, writes Jeffrey Toobin in The New Yorker:
Cruz is merely taking the next step toward the Presidency in a manner that he previewed when I profiled him for the magazine, in 2014. Cruz may be wrong about Republican and Presidential politics, but he’s consistent, and his rejection of Trump, when every other putative successor as Republican nominee has endorsed him, fits into his master plan. In simple terms, Cruz thinks that conservative Republicans win Presidential elections

 … despite his defeat, Cruz positioned himself perfectly to reassert his core argument in 2020. Assuming that Trump loses this year, Cruz can argue that Trump failed because he did not fully embrace conservative dogma. While Trump has taken conservative positions during the campaign, he has held a variety of less hard-line views over the years, including on such bedrock issues as abortion.
And Trump has, in any event, largely steered away from social issues during his campaign. In recent days, Trump even appears to be trying to moderate his views on illegal immigration, which had been the heart of his conservative appeal. The greater Hillary Clinton’s margin of victory turns out to be, the stronger Cruz’s claim will be. Without a political base of his own, a defeated Trump will be a deserted Trump; he will not be making a second run for President in his mid-seventies. Trump will be a scorned and discredited figure.

 … Cruz has built his career on repudiation of moderation—and on confrontation with his fellow-Republicans. On balance, it has worked out well for him. As a first-term senator, he nearly shut down the federal government single-handedly in a failed bid to end Obamacare. This kind of absolutism alienated his Senate colleagues, including Republicans, but it propelled him to a strong second-place finish in the Republican Presidential primaries—an extraordinary achievement for a politician who has won exactly one election in his life. For a party picking up the pieces after a catastrophic Presidential election (if that’s what it turns out to be), there will be great appeal in a politician, like Cruz, who can say, “I told you so.”

Friday, August 19, 2016

If Donald Trump is a courageous man who has the guts to say things that others won’t, why does he always backtrack what he said in the heat of the moment at his rallies?

I have a question for all the Donald Trump supporters who see him as a courageous man who has the guts to say things that others won’t
writes Jason Taylor in a Resurgent post entitled Hillary Clinton Ought To Be Eternally Grateful To Donald Trump:
Why does he always backtrack what he said in the heat of the moment at his rallies? And afterwards why does he send out his handlers to hit the airwaves to “explain” what he meant? Why doesn’t stand by the position he articulated in front of his adoring supporters? Where’s his courage when he’s questioned on his positions? Or does he only have “courage” when speaking in front of a like-minded crowd? That’s not courage, it’s pandering.
Trump’s most recent comments in re: the “very long vacation” indicates his resolve that his loss will be very large. Trump will then become the “biggest loser” in America which will haunt him and his family for a generation.
 … Here’s the bottom line: Trump has no interest in being president. He makes these constant ludicrous statements at his rallies because he’s all about the reaction he gets from his supporters. He says something, they go nuts, the media gets all riled up then he walks it back as a “joke” or “sarcasm”. He loves getting attention and that’s it. I’m sure when the election is over and he’s lost, he’ll say he never wanted to be president anyways and that it was all just a big joke. I would be very surprised if there will even be debates. Again, Donald doesn’t want to be president.

I’ve always disliked it when someone would use the term “hater.” Understandably, for all of us there are people or things we just can’t stand. Yet to use hater seemed hyperbolic.

I have, however, come to the conclusion that Trump’s followers perfectly exemplify that word. They are haters. Their hate eats away at them and at the threads of unity that should bind us all together as Americans. Donald Trump is the worse candidate for office in the history of our republic because he exacerbates that hate on a daily basis for his own gain. It’s not enough that he just lose to Hillary; he has to lose so that the vast majority of Americans let the haters know that their kind of angry vitriol and intolerance of others will not rule the day. That is not who we are.

At the start of recess, when the bully trips one kid, a fair number of kids will laugh.

But as recess goes on, and all the bully does is keep bullying over and over, by the time recess is over, fewer and fewer kids are finding it funny. By the end of recess, there are only a handful of kids who still find the bully amusing.

Simple playground politics.

Trump said today republicans had a difficult path to the White House but stressed that wasn’t his fault. Does this man ever take responsibility for anything?

Thursday, August 18, 2016

RIP Toughy the Cat

Today, my parents' cat died.
Toughy (or Tuffy) was 14 years old.

My parents thought he would grow to be at least 17 or 18, like most of their felines, or around 23, like their previous cat, Funny Face, who doubled as Toughy's friend — especially since Toughy fully deserved his name. (He loved nothing better than a being stroked fast'n'hard — back'n'forth, in both directions, the length of his body — like some kind of Oriental massage.)

My folks, who could be described as old-timers, have been having health problems for the past year.

My father went to a clinic last week and it was discovered that he thankfully had no (skin) cancer.

My mother also visited the doctor's this week and it was discovered that she had no (stomach) cancer either.

Toughy, who seemed in perfect health only two weeks ago, suddenly stopped eating, and would only lap up the juice of her cat food, incapable of swallowing the hard stuff.

Yesterday they took Toughy to the vet's where he spent the night.

After being scanned today, it was discovered that he had five tumors throughout his body, and there was nothing to be done.

And so he was put to sleep this morning.

Call me silly if you want, or superstitious, but doesn't it seem that, in some manner, deliberately or otherwise, consciously or not, Toughy took on the diseases of the masters whom he loved (and who loved him in return) and sacrificed his life for them?

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Every 4 Years, Scandinavians are "scared shitless' by whoever is campaigning for the GOP

Reality sometimes gets distorted by distance, as when, eight years ago, several Danes informed me that the United States would never elect a black man as President
writes Jeffrey Frank in the New Yorker.
This year, the visit [to Denmark, the country into which I’ve married and where, over the years, I’ve often been asked to explain what’s happening back home] was a chance to express the belief that, though Americans may practice political brinksmanship, we are not about to let loose a bomb—or probably not.

I was uneasy about this trip, because I knew that I would hear a lot and be pushed to say a lot about our Presidential election and about the bomb in question: the inescapable Donald J. Trum …

 … Friends and relatives, though, would rather talk about Trump, and want assurance that he is an aberration, even more so when his words are translated without subtlety into Danish. (A headline in the widely distributed Metroxpress read “Trump: Gun owners Should Stop Hillary Clinton.”)

 … As for the view from Denmark, when I asked a favorite member of my extended family if she was really worried about the rise of Trump, she seemed uninterested in a possible Clinton landslide, or in Trump’s bad polls, but rather, with an alarmed look and speaking perfect Americanese, said, “I’m scared shitless.”

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Preparing for Elections and Examining the Issues: "Let us have both sides at the table" said Lincoln—"Each is entitled to his day in court"

Widespread voter ignorance is a serious problem in our democracy,
writes Ilya Somin in the Washington Post
including in the current election. Scientific American has a new article offering several helpful suggestions on how to be a better voter:
#1 Don’t just go with your gut. Voting well means making your choice from a standpoint of informed consideration and with an eye toward the common good, says Jason Brennan, a political philosopher at Georgetown University and author of The Ethics of Voting. “Suppose you go to a doctor and ask for advice about an illness—you’d expect the doctor to have your interests at heart and to think rationally about your symptoms,” he says. “Voters owe the same thing to each other and the electorate. Vote for everyone’s best interest, and when you’re forming your political beliefs, form them based on information and learning, not on the basis of quick thinking, anger or bias….”

#2 Don’t get all your news from social media. Most of us have unfollowed, unfriended or muted contacts on Facebook, Twitter and other networks because their political views make us mad. Doing so can give rise to narrowed political views and groupthink…

Try broadening your news sources by tuning to channels or sites, papers or magazines that have a different slant than you do….

#3 Watch the next debate with your eyes closed. A recent study by Joan Y. Chiao, then at Northwestern University, a founder of the new field of cultural neuroscience, found that voters perceive male candidates as more competent and dominant than female ones, based on facial features alone. What’s more, voters of both genders tend to prefer physically attractive female candidates, whereas attractiveness doesn’t matter for male ones….
#4 Know when to abstain. I have a confession to make: I didn’t vote in the presidential primaries. I’m not used to the mail-in ballots in my adopted home state of Oregon, and I sent mine in too late to be counted. Looking back, I think perhaps it was for the best: I’d been waffling for months about which candidate to choose and hadn’t taken the time to firmly ground my choice in facts and information. “We’ve found that having more information changes people’s policy preferences,” Brennan says. “We can specifically predict what the American public likely would choose if it were better informed….” 
All four of these points are good advice. The real significance of No. 2 is not so much that social media is bad, but that most people make too little effort to consider views opposed to their own. Too often, voters act like “political fans” rather than truth-seekers, overvaluing any information that supports their preexisting views, while ignoring or dismissing anything that cuts the other way. A responsible truth-seeker would make a special effort to seek out information sources with views opposed to his or her own. They are the ones most likely to provide a counterweight to his own biases, and to present information and arguments he has not heard before.

Suggestion No. 4 is particularly well taken. If you know little or nothing about the issues at stake in an election or referendum, you can often serve the public interest best by abstaining. It isn’t necessarily wrong to be ignorant about politics. But it is wrong to inflict that ignorance on your fellow citizens. As John Stuart Mill put it, voting is not just an exercise of personal choice, but rather “the exercise of power over others.” The people elected by ignorant voters will rule over the entire society, not just those who cast ballots for them.

 … Even relatively conscientious voters will often find it difficult to effectively combat their biases, or to learn enough to understand more than a small fraction of the issues addressed by the large and complicated modern state. Also, because of the very low chance that any one vote will make a decisive difference in an election, it is often rational for individual voters to be ignorant, even though there is a terrible systemic effect if large numbers of voters behave that way. For those reasons, among others, I am not optimistic that we will overcome the problem of political ignorance any time soon. In the long run, the most effective potential solution is to reduce the size and complexity of government, and and make more of our decisions in settings where we have better incentives to seek out information and use it wisely. Nonetheless, the situation might improve at least somewhat if more voters follow Scientific American’s excellent advice.
While a lawyer in Springfield, Abraham Lincoln was asked by his partner why on Earth he subscribed to pro-slavery newspapers such as the Richmond Enquirer and Charleston Mercury
We must be tolerant of the Southerners, and learn to live with them…
the rail splitter answered William Herndon (as illustrated below by Dan Greenberg in his and my upcoming The Life & Times of Abraham Lincoln);
Let us have both sides at the table, Billie…
… Each is entitled to his day in court.
(Something the Democrat Party, then (150 years ago) or now, as well as the 20th/21st century MSM, are not too keen upon, if they can help it…)

Monday, August 15, 2016

Do both communism and liberal democracy call for people to become New Men by jettisoning their old faith, customs, arts, literature, and traditions?

Accuturated's Mark Judge. has been reading The Demon in Democracy: Totalitarian Temptations in Free Societies. The book,
by Polish scholar Ryszard Legutko …  is an intense read that argues that liberal democracies are succumbing to a utopian ideal where individuality and eccentricity might eventually be banned. As liberals push us towards a monoculture where there is no dissent, no gender, and no conflict, the unique and the great will eventually cease to exist. No more offbeat weirdoes, eccentric crazies, or cults. No more Nation of Islam there to call me a cracker. No more of the self-made and inspired figures of the past: Duke Ellington, Hunter Thompson, Annie Leibowitz.
Legutko’s thesis is that liberal democracies have something in common with communism: the sense that time is inexorably moving towards a kind of human utopia, and that progressive bureaucrats must make sure it succeeds. Legutko first observed this after the fall of communism. Thinking that communist bureaucrats would have difficulty adjusting to Western democracy, he was surprised when the former Marxists smoothly adapted—indeed, thrived—in a system of liberal democracy. It was the hard-core anti-communists who couldn’t quite fit into the new system. They were unable to untether themselves from their faith, culture, and traditions.

Both communism and liberal democracy call for people to become New Men by jettisoning their old faith, customs, arts, literature, and traditions. Thus a Polish anti-communist goes from being told by communists that he has to abandon his old concepts of faith and family to become a member of the larger State, only to come to America after the fall of the Berlin Wall and be told he has to forego those same beliefs for the sake of the sexual revolution and the bureaucratic welfare state. Both systems believe that societies are moving towards a certain ideal state, and to stand against that is to violate not just the law but human happiness itself.

… Legutko argues that, of course, there are huge differences between communism and liberal democracy—liberal democracy is obviously a system that allows for greater freedom. He appreciates that in a free society people are able to enjoy the arts, books, and pop culture that they want. Our medical system is superior. We don’t suffer from famines. Yet Legutko argues that with so much freedom has come a kind of flattening of taste and the hard work of creating original art.

We’ve witnessed the a slow and steady debasement of our politics and popular culture—see, for example, those “man on the street” interviews where Americans can’t name who won the Revolutionary War. Enter the unelected bureaucrats who appoint themselves to steer the ship; in other words, we’re liberals and we’re here to help. Inspired by the idea that to be against them is to be “on the wrong wide of history,” both communism and contemporary liberalism demand absolute submission to the progressive plan. All resistance, no matter how grounded in genuine belief or natural law, must be quashed.

Thus in America came the monochromatic washing of a country that once could boast not only crazies like Scientologists and Louis Farrakhan, but creative and unusual icons like Norman Mailer, Georgia O’Keefe, Baptists, Hindus, dry counties, John Courtney Murray, Christian bakers, orthodox Jews, accents, and punk rockers. The eccentric and the oddball, as well as the truly great, are increasingly less able to thrive. As Legutko observes, we have a monoculture filled with people whose “loutish manners and coarse language did not have their origin in communism, but, as many found astonishing, in the patterns, or rather anti-patterns that developed in Western liberal democracies.” The revolution didn’t devour its children; progressive-minded bureaucrats did.