August 5, 2020

Posted by orrinj at 9:16 PM


Low-Energy Trump (BRIAN KAREM  AUGUST 5, 2020, The Bulwark)

After this week's set of briefings at the White House, the Donald Trump presidency looks like it may end not with a bang, but with a whimper.

First Chris Wallace from Fox and then Jonathan Swain from Axios eviscerated Trump in interviews that not only exposed how unprepared Trump is for the long-interview format, but how unfamiliar and unrelatable he remains to facts.

He literally does not appear to understand them.

And his confusion now looks like exactly that: the confusion of a senior citizen who doesn't quite have a grasp on what's going on, not the bluster of a bully who is dominating the world around him.

On the bright side, he would pass a drug test on his own.

Posted by orrinj at 9:13 PM


New York prosecutors reportedly subpoenaed Deutsche Bank as part of an extensive investigation into Trump's business dealings (Sonam Sheth, 8/05/20, Business Insider)

The Manhattan district attorney's office subpoenaed Deutsche Bank as part of a wide-ranging investigation into President Donald Trump's business dealings, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

Prosecutors issued the subpoena last year and are seeking records that the president and his company, the Trump Organization, provided to Deutsche Bank, according to the report. Specifically, prosecutors asked for documents that could point to potential fraud. The bank complied with the subpoena and turned over Trump's financial statements and other records to investigators, the report said.

Deutsche Bank has been Trump's primary lender for over two decades and is at the center of several financial controversies related to his business practices.

Posted by orrinj at 6:56 PM


Economists show how welfare programs can turn a "profit": What happens if we consider welfare programs as investments? (SCOTTY HENDRICKS, 05 August, 2020, Big Think)

The study, carried out by Nathaniel Hendren and Ben Sprung-Keyser of Harvard University, reviews 133 welfare programs through a single lens. The authors measured these programs' "Marginal Value of Public Funds" (MVPF), which is defined as the ratio of the recipients' willingness to pay for a program over its cost.

A program with an MVPF of one provides precisely as much in net benefits as it costs to deliver those benefits. For an illustration, imagine a program that hands someone a dollar. If getting that dollar doesn't alter their behavior, then the MVPF of that program is one. If it discourages them from working, then the program's cost goes up, as the program causes government tax revenues to fall in addition to costing money upfront. The MVPF goes below one in this case.

Lastly, it is possible that getting the dollar causes the recipient to further their education and get a job that pays more taxes in the future, lowering the cost of the program in the long run and raising the MVPF. The value ratio can even hit infinity when a program fully "pays for itself."

While these are only a few examples, many others exist, and they do work to show you that a high MVPF means that a program "pays for itself," a value of one indicates a program "breaks even," and a value below one shows a program costs more money than the direct cost of the benefits would suggest.

After determining the programs' costs using existing literature and the willingness to pay through statistical analysis, 133 programs focusing on social insurance, education and job training, tax and cash transfers, and in-kind transfers were analyzed. The results show that some programs turn a "profit" for the government, mainly when they are focused on children:

Programs like child health services and K-12 education spending have infinite MVPF values. The authors argue this is because the programs allow children to live healthier, more productive lives and earn more money, which enables them to pay more taxes later. Programs like the preschool initiatives examined don't manage to do this as well and have a lower "profit" rate despite having decent MVPF ratios.

On the other hand, things like tuition deductions for older adults don't make back the money they cost. This is likely for several reasons, not the least of which is that there is less time for the benefactor to pay the government back in taxes. Disability insurance was likewise "unprofitable," as those collecting it have a reduced need to work and pay less back in taxes.

Posted by orrinj at 2:28 PM


Sally Yates testifies that Mike Flynn 'neutered' U.S. efforts to deter Russia and was 'covering up' his actions (GEOFF EARLE, 8/05/20, DAILYMAIL.COM)

'General Flynn had essentially neutered the U.S. government's message of deterrence,' she said, in reference to sanctions Obama slapped on Moscow as punishment for Russian interference in the presidential election. [...]

Yates called Flynn's conversations with Kislyak 'a very curious thing to be doing, particularly when the Russians have been acting to benefit President Trump, and then covering it up.'

Posted by orrinj at 2:27 PM


Will Tammy Duckworth be the first deist veep since Thomas Jefferson? (Steven Waldman, 8/05/20, RNS)

[D]eists were not atheists. Rather, they believed that reason was the path to spiritual knowledge and that nature itself offered the best proof of God's existence. Notably, Jefferson used the term "Nature's God" in the Declaration of Independence, and later wrote rhapsodically about the perfection of the universe, which proved that there must be "an ultimate cause, a fabricator of all things from matter and motion."

Tom Paine, the author of "Common Sense," was a deist, and at various points, both James Madison and George Washington used language that would suggest some sympathy.

Benjamin Franklin did declare himself to be a deist at one point. When he was a teenager, a Puritan elder tried to scare him away from deism, but the effort backfired. "Some books against Deism fell into my hands," he later wrote. "It happened that they wrought an effect on me quite contrary to what was intended by them; for the arguments of the Deists, which were quoted to be refuted, appeared to me much stronger than the refutations; in short, I soon became a thorough Deist."

But, it should be said, none of the Founders were pure deists. Classical deism imagined "a watchmaker God" -- a powerful deity who created the universe, and its rules, but then stepped away from the day-to-day management. Jefferson, Franklin and Washington all very much believed in the power of prayer and that God intervened in the affairs of people in general, and Americans in particular.   

While we don't know what flavor of deist Duckworth is, we can say that in some ways, it's actually a very modern formulation. At least 83% of Americans say they believe in God but only about 36% attend a house of worship weekly. Duckworth said, "I don't go to any particular religious institution."

Posted by orrinj at 2:09 PM


Posted by orrinj at 1:44 PM


Right-wing conspiracy theorists get (even more) unhinged as Trump's chances fade (AMANDA MARCOTTE, AUGUST 5, 2020, Salon)

Alex Jones of Infowars, who still has a sizable audience despite having been de-platformed by many major social media companies, shamelessly encouraged his audience last week to lash out with murderous violence against the left.

Jones claimed to have reports that "Maoists" (which is fringe-right code for anyone to the left of Republicans) are stockpiling "explosives and weapons and trucks loaded with ammonium nitrate and chlorine gas" in the cities in preparation to wage war against all true-believing Americans. So "the best thing to do in a defensive way," Jones said, "is kill as many of them as quickly as possible."

Jones of course insisted that he was only talking about "defensive" tactics and warned viewers about not "jumping first," but that rhetoric is mostly a weak attempt at ass-covering to disguise an effort to incite terrorist violence from the right.

For one thing, Jones is just making up the threat that his audience is supposed to be "defending" themselves against. No leftists are not stockpiling weapons or bomb-making materials, and there is no progressive conspiracy to wage war on right-wingers. For another thing, Jones painted a clear picture of the kinds of people he imagines killing as quickly as possible, specifically naming "the establishment perverts and pedophiles" who he believes run society, as well aspeople who "show up in black uniforms and burn down your local courthouse."

The former is a reference to Democratic politicians, whom far-right conspiracy theorists have been accusing, under the banner of "Pizzagate," of running a secret pedophile ring for at least the last four years now. The latter is a reference to Black Lives Matter protesters and anti-fascist activists, the vast majority of whom are peaceful. The right has been demonizing them as violent because of some graffiti and sporadic episodes of vandalism. Neither group is involved in a plot to kill conservatives (or anyone else), but by claiming that they, Jones is setting up a narrative clearly meant to incite or justify violent attacks. 

On the Christian right side of things, similar conspiracy theories about progressives are spreading. As Right Wing Watch has documented, popular Christian right activist Scott Lively has claimed that "Democrat-controlled population centers" will soon be burned to the ground, as part of an elaborate conspiracy by liberals to get out of paying pensions to police officers.

...but we ought to understand that they are decompensating because their big beautiful Nativist dream is over.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


After Uighurs Escape China, They Face the U.S. Asylum SystemUighur asylum seekers in Virginia thought they would be safe here. But new rules delay work permits, draining savings and risking survival. (MARCIA BROWN AUGUST 5, 2020, American Prospect)

The Trump administration's unabated assault on asylum is affecting Uighurs fleeing China.

In July, Mahire Alim's four year-old son had a toothache, and it wouldn't go away. Alim and her husband Adli Bekri* are Uighur asylum seekers who arrived in the U.S. in late February, fleeing both ethnic persecution and an encroaching pandemic. But they can't afford the medical care--at least $3,500--for their son's urgent dental treatment. They can't afford it because they can't work legally in the U.S.

The couples' asylum applications have been pending with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) since April 20, but according to two new asylum rules proposed by the Trump administration that will take effect August 25, they won't be eligible to apply for work permits this month. The first rule, experts have said, would fundamentally devastate the asylum system, drastically changing the very definition of persecution under the law. Under the second rule, an asylum seeker has to wait 365 days from the day they file their asylum application to apply for a work permit, up from 150 days. The rule also stipulates that, after they file their applications, the government no longer would have to process their application within 30 days; in theory, they could let the application linger indefinitely.

Notably, asylum seekers who cross the border illegally--not at a port of entry--are ineligible for work permits, "unless and until an immigration judge finds that they qualify for an exception." But the system set up by the administration also consigns asylum seekers who used all legal means to seek refuge to endless uncertainty and anxiety.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


August 4, 2020

Posted by orrinj at 7:36 PM


Hospitals saw fewer heart attacks and strokes as the coronavirus pandemic struck -- and nobody knows why (Christina Farr, 8/04/20, CNBC)

Covid-19 patients might have been flooding into emergency departments in the spring, particularly in states like New York. But for everything else -- heart attacks, strokes and other kinds of emergencies -- the numbers were down for many hospitals across the country. 

A new study collating data from five health systems in Colorado, Connecticut, Massachussetts, North Carolina and New York reported decreases in emergency department visits between 40 and 60 percent in the first four months of 2020, with the most rapid decreases in March. Prior research from the CDC found that in the 10 weeks after COVID-19 was declared a national emergency, emergency room visits "declined 23% for heart attack, 20% for stroke, and 10% for hyperglycemic crisis." The Department of Veterans Affairs has also reported similar findings about a precipitous drop in emergency room visits. 

Posted by orrinj at 1:30 PM


Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


US police used excessive force at least 125 times in the 10 days after the police killing of George Floyd, according to a new report (Charles Davis, 8/04/20, Business Insider)

Police forces in the US deployed excessive force against anti-racist protesters on no fewer than 125 separate occasions in the 10 days following the death of George Floyd, after officers knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, according to a new report from Amnesty International. Abuses ranged from the unnecessary and unlawful use of tear gas and pepper spray to beatings and the indiscriminate firing of "less lethal" projectiles. the report says.

"The unnecessary and sometimes excessive use of force by police against protesters exhibits the very systemic racism and impunity they had taken to the streets to protest," Ernest Coverson, Amnesty International's end gun violence campaign manager, said in a statement.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Remembering John Lewis, and the Political Theology that Changed a NationIn the face of lesser challenges, we demonstrate less virtue. (David French, Aug 2, 2020, The Dispatch)

I touched on this on the weekend when Lewis died, but how many times in American life have we seen a better marriage of Christian belief and Christian behavior than the nonviolent resistance to segregation and Jim Crow in the American South? Remember Lewis's own words, from a 2004 interview:

During those early days, we didn't study the Constitution, the Supreme Court decision of 1954. We studied the great religions of the world. We discussed and debated the teachings of the great teacher. And we would ask questions about what would Jesus do. In preparing for the sit-ins, we felt that the message was one of love -- the message of love in action: don't hate. If someone hits you, don't strike back. Just turn the other side. Be prepared to forgive. That's not anything any Constitution say anything about forgiveness. It is straight from the Scripture: reconciliation.

In his legendary "Letter from a Birmingham Jail," Martin Luther King Jr. didn't just deliver a master class on the injustice of segregation, he also delivered a lesson in the method of nonviolence, of the graduated approach before he took to the streets. "In any nonviolent campaign," King wrote, "there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self purification; and direct action."

And he appealed of course to scriptural principle and scriptural example:

One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.

Of course, there is nothing new about this kind of civil disobedience. It was evidenced sublimely in the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar, on the ground that a higher moral law was at stake. It was practiced superbly by the early Christians, who were willing to face hungry lions and the excruciating pain of chopping blocks rather than submit to certain unjust laws of the Roman Empire.

Moreover, it's important to remember that the civil rights movement's success was hardly assured. In other words, the fact that the tactics "worked" is not the reason they were justified. They were right regardless of the outcome. And they were pursued against great odds.

What looks inevitable in hindsight was anything but certain. In fact, if you were placing contemporary bets on a political outcome, would you guess that some version of a three-century status quo would prevail, or that the civil rights movement would achieve a legal revolution nearly on par with emancipation itself? 

At the same time, can we even recall a modern Christian political movement so consistent with the upside-down logic of biblical Christianity? To gain your life you must lose your life. Bless those who persecute you. Love your enemies. The last shall be first. 

In fact, the turning point of the movement came in 1963, in the Birmingham "Children's Crusade," when the least-powerful members of Southern society, the black children of Alabama, confronted Bull Connor's dogs and firehoses, and--finally--shocked the conscience of a nation chock full of Christians and moved it to take decisive legal and political action. 

That's what a Christian political theology looks like in action. Both ends and means are suffused with Gospel truth.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Research only confirms the reliability of the Bible (Dr Pieter J Lalleman,  04 August 2020, Christianity Today)

Gregory R Lanier has been surveying the printed editions of the Greek New Testament, from the publication of the first scholarly edition by Westcott and Hort in 1881, until today, and his latest research encourages us to have more confidence in the biblical text than the sceptics would allow.

Since 1881, many new manuscripts have been discovered and new text editions produced. In more recent years, the digitisation of the manuscripts of the Bible has been rapid, allowing more people to study the evidence.  Against this backdrop, you would expect the text of the New Testament to have been heavily revised as a result of all this work, but this is not the case at all.

What Lanier has found is that the similarity between the 1881 edition of the New Testament in Greek and the most recent editions is still over 98.5 per cent.  In other words, the newly discovered manuscripts, and the investment of thousands of hours of human labour, not to mention millions of pounds, have basically confirmed what many of us already knew - that we had a very reliable Bible text the whole time.

There is conformity in the quality of the main great manuscripts, Codex Sinaiticus, Codex Vaticanus and Codex Alexandrinus, meaning that if we simply printed the Greek text of Codex Vaticanus (dating to the fourth century), we would still have the correct Greek text.

Lanier has done the same comparison with scholarly editions of the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint, and here too he concludes that the many new discoveries and the efforts of scholars over the last 100 years have only served to confirm the accuracy of Alfred Rahlfs' 1935 edition. 

There may be ever more new material, but it is basically establishing that we know the text well enough to have confidence in its closeness to the original.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


New FBI Documents From Mueller's Russia Investigation Reveal What Witnesses Said About Trump (Jason Leopold, Anthony Cormier, Zoe Tillman, August 3, 2020, BuzzFeed News)

These documents include five pages of Jared Kushner's FBI interview summary -- but all five are completely redacted. The FBI's notations indicate that much of the material relates to an ongoing law enforcement investigation. Senior Assistant Special Counsel Andrew Goldstein told Kushner that answering a question with "I don't recall" if he indeed did recall was considered a lie.

Interview summaries for former deputy national security adviser K.T. McFarland, former White House lawyer and senior Justice Department official James Burnham, and former Stone associate Randy Credico are also almost entirely redacted. McFarland and Credico's summaries include markings that indicate redacted information relates to ongoing investigations.

A chunk of the 412 pages of interview summaries relates to the special counsel's investigation of Roger Stone. That material had been withheld during Stone's prosecution, but now that it has ended -- with a 40-month prison sentence that Trump commuted -- the documents are being released. They are still heavily redacted.

The Biden/Harris prosecutions of team Trump are going to be delicious.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Navarro on TikTok: "The mothers of America" have to worry about China tracking their kids (Axios, 8/04/20)

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said Monday that the Chinese-owned social media app TikTok poses a threat to privacy and national security, telling the Axios Re:Cap podcast, "Let's not downplay the threat here: the mothers of America have to worry about whether the Chinese Communist Party knows where their children are."

Privacy hysteria is a function of delusions of self-importance.  No one cares what you have to say. If Congress wanted to do something useful it could create property rights in the data we generate so folks like Tik-Tok had to pay us to harvest it.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Meet The New Puritan, Same As The Old PuritanToday's moral-political fanaticism belies the same centuries old, self-righteous desire to purify. (WILLIAM MURCHISON, 8/04/20, American Conservative)

Thomas Babington Macaulay, in his monumental History of England From the Accession of James II, fixes unsparing attention on the Puritan program of drilling "the minds of men into conformity" with their system of theology. They--the Puritans--were right. There was no profit in fooling around, or even arguing, with the losers who had everything so terribly wrong. 

"Churches and sepulchres, fine works of art and curious remains of antiquity," writes Macaulay, "were brutally defaced. The parliament resolved that all pictures in the royal collection which contained representations of Jesus or of the Virgin Mother should be burned. Sculpture fared as ill as painting...Sharp laws were passed against betting. It was enacted that adultery should be punished with death...Public amusements...were vigorously attacked."  Bear-baiting, said Macaulay, in a deservedly famous passage, "strongly stirred the wrath of the austere sectaries."   The Puritans hated the sport  "not because it gave pain to the bear, but because it gave pleasure to the spectators."  

Then there was the abolition, in 1644, of Christmas as a day for feasting and enjoyment.

Cupping our ears, we note some echoes. The burning of art depicting Jesus? The smashing of sculpture deemed offensive to current onlookers? Most of all, the snarling  contempt the puritans of the 17th century showed for beliefs not their own: here you might argue is the link between the desecration of churches hundreds of years ago and the  onslaught against the discoverer of America and the images celebrating his achievement.

It's why we're the most conformist people on Earth.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


New Emails Detail The Behind-The-Scenes Drama After The Justice Department Recommended A Lesser Sentence For Roger Stone (Zoe Tillman  & Jason Leopold, August 3, 2020, Buzzfeed News)

At 2:59 p.m. on Feb. 11, Aaron Zelinsky, one of the lead prosecutors in the criminal case against Trump ally Roger Stone, sent an email notifying his supervisor J.P. Cooney that he was withdrawing from Stone's case.

In an email one minute later, according to the time stamp, Cooney tried to stop him.

"I am not approving of you withdrawing from this case right now," Cooney wrote in one of a set of emails obtained by BuzzFeed News through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

Cooney was too late -- Zelinsky had filed his withdrawal from the Stone case with the federal district court in Washington. [...]

Zelinsky testified that a supervisor told him that the interim US attorney leading the office at the time, Timothy Shea, wanted to give Stone special treatment because Shea was "afraid of the president." [...]

After news broke that the prosecution team had withdrawn, Zelinsky received a message of encouragement from another assistant US attorney in Maryland, P. Michael Cunningham: "Very proud of you!"

"Thanks! Just doing what any of us would have done in the same circumstance," Zelinsky replied.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Trump demands feds get a 'very substantial' cut of any Microsoft-TikTok sale, doesn't explain how that's legal (The Week, 8/04/20)

President Trump signaled Monday that he is okay with Microsoft purchasing the U.S. part of TikTok, the Chinese-owned social media company he has threatened to ban, but it will cost . . . someone. First, he told reporters at the White House that if Microsoft or another U.S. company purchases TikTok by his Sept. 15 deadline, "a very substantial portion of that price is going to have to come into the treasury of the United States." 

Why would Donald care what's legal?

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


GOP Obsession With 'Big Tech' Is a Betrayal of Conservatism (Yates Wilburn, 8/04/20,  RealClearMarkets)

Congress made it clear in Section 230 that these platforms can't be held liable for users' misbehavior like a newspaper or a TV network would be for their content. Now, the President is directing a regulatory agency --- one that's supposed to be independent --- to directly and blindly subvert the clearly established will of Congress, rather than working with Congress to change the law they passed.

That's not to say that repealing or reforming Section 230 would be a good idea if Congress did it. There's a very simple reason Congress decided not to treat internet platforms like TV networks. TV networks, newspapers, radio, and other traditional media have an immense amount of editorial control over their content. Even massive networks like Fox News and newspapers like the New York Times produce a microscopic amount of content compared to platforms like Twitter. 

Expecting Twitter or Google to apply the same level of control over every single one of the BILLIONS of posts, comments, videos, reviews, and images that appear on their platforms every week is not only impossible, it's dangerous. 

Many conservative proponents of repealing Section 230 claim they want to stop Facebook, Twitter, and others from engaging in biased censorship...specifically censorship against them. These "conservatives" argue that these platforms are purposefully preventing conservative users from spreading their message for political purposes without consequence. 

Their solution? Repeal Section 230 and force the Facebooks of the world to prove that they aren't engaging in political censorship to a bunch of unelected bureaucrats who will have the power to mandate what sort of speech they can allow. Of course, as Lois Lerner will confirm, unelected bureaucrats are the pinnacle of impartiality. 

So obviously, these "conservatives" don't have much of a problem with censorship per se. Instead, rather than limit private censorship, they want to expand government censorship. We've clearly seen that in their joy over the idea of banning TikTok.

Failing that, many of them have taken a page out of Elizabeth Warren's book, attacking these private businesses for being too successful and calling for them to be broken up for operating as "monopolies". 

For the record, these politicians dragged FOUR companies to Washington to yell at them for being MONO-polies. MONO, as in ONE. Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, and Twitter all face brutal competition, from both each other and from other up-and-coming companies, in nearly every field they operate in. Facebook is hemorrhaging users to platforms like Snapchat. Google and Apple compete with each other with their own smartphone operating systems.

Most ironically, Twitter is losing countless conservative users to a new, explicitly free speech platform called Parler. So, while these "conservatives" have been busy abandoning their faith in the free market and competition to solve their problems, the free market has gone ahead and started to solve it for them anyway.

Since their ideas can't compete in the marketplace, these guys see no alternative but to destroy it.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


August 3, 2020

Posted by orrinj at 7:42 PM


Gettysburg? The Liberty Bell? Trump Weighs R.N.C. Speech Options (Annie Karni, Aug. 3, 2020, NY Times)

A presidential address in front of the Gettysburg battlefield, or at the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia. A speech from the first lady, Melania Trump, at Seneca Falls, N.Y., the cradle of the national movement for women's rights. Perhaps a stage for the warm-up acts built at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Posted by orrinj at 7:34 PM


We need to abolish race: Identity politics has revived racial thinking. It's time to move beyond it. (INAYA FOLARIN IMAN, 4th August 2020, spiked)

Thanks to the rise of identity politics and growing political polarisation, the politics of race has come to play an increasingly important role in mainstream public life over the past decade. The issues of race and racism now dominate the national conversation.

However, at the same time there is a growing opposition to the politics of race. Some writers and thinkers, like Kmele Foster or Thomas Chatterton Williams, are seeking to redirect the conversation about race. They don't want simply to oppose racism, or to critique identity politics. They want to do away with the notion of race altogether. Their rallying cry is, 'Abolish race!'.

Race abolitionism poses a challenge to both racism and modern forms of 'anti-racism'. It is predicated on several core claims. First, race abolitionists argue that the social construct of race is based on a taxonomy invented to create and reinforce racial hierarchies.


Posted by orrinj at 7:16 PM


There's No Real Definition Of 'Conservatism' And That's A Good Thing (BRADLEY J. BIRZER, 7/31/20, American Conservative)

When Russell Kirk, the father of post-World War II conservatism, attempted to explain the meaning of the movement, he counseled against any ironclad definitions. Taking a term from the tradition of the Roman Catholic Church (of which he was not yet a member in 1953), Kirk argued that one should define conservatism in terms of "canons" or tenets, rather than in terms of absolutes. In some writings, he offered four canons, in some five canons, and in some ten canons as he struggled with the meaning of conservatism. Most often, though, Kirk listed six.

One: a conviction that one God--most likely, for Kirk, the Stoic Logos in 1953, but the Trinitarian God of orthodox Christianity by 1964--rules over all things, transcends all things, and holds all things together. If we rely merely on the human understanding of reason, he continued, we end with the Cross, with the administering of hemlock, and with the naming of false goddesses. In essence, the Logos defines the universal.

Two: a love of the particular as a specific manifestation of the universal. In this, Kirk wrote, we should embrace an "affection for the proliferating variety and mystery of traditional life, as distinguished from the narrowing uniformity and equalitarianism and utilitarian aims of most radical systems." Each person, then, is a unique and unrepeatable reflection of the Logos and must be treated as such.

Three: that society demands variation in rank, class, and structure. Fearing radical egalitarianism, the conservative must uphold the excellence within each person and within each community, recognizing that thing of excellence as a leavening agent for the rest of the community and its members.

Four: that of all natural rights, the most important is property. If one does not own himself and take responsibility for his moral actions, he can never be expected to lead or even to live with another. Each person, in Kirk's view, is a moral agent, a manifestation of free will itself. Kirk also meant ownership of land and "stuff," but he mostly meant being morally and ethically culpable.

Five: a belief that tradition is the accumulated experience of humankind and, thus, the only real and efficacious laboratory of sociology that has ever existed. In this, the conservative recognizes the power of reason, but also its limitations. When combined with the first and second canons, one might state--with Plato, Cicero, and C.S. Lewis--that there is eternal reason (Logos), private reason (rationality), and the reasonableness of experience.

Six: a "recognition that change and reform are not identical, and that innovation is a devouring conflagration more often than it is a torch of progress." Here, Kirk is rather directly channeling Burke as he acknowledges that each generation may act in three different ways when inheriting the past. It may reject the inheritance, accept the inheritance, or reform the inheritance. Kirk, as did Burke, favored the latter course as it demanded that each generation see itself in continuity with all other generations, past and future. [...]

Is there an American conservatism? Yes...and, no. Harry Jaffa once stated that all American conservatism must be defined by its relationship to the American founding. He was certainly correct about this. The Judeo-Christian and Greco-Roman traditions as understood through the experience of Anglo-Saxon common law anchor our conservatism in the United States. We must never fail to ask, just what are we conserving? What matters most is how our traditions uphold (or not) the dignity and uniqueness of the human person. If our conservatism conserves that which is evil, false, and ugly, it is a failure, lower than mere misery. If such were the case, I'd be loath to embrace it as well.

I've been struck lately--reading Hillbilly Elegy and about Qanon, etc.--by the idea that what most separates the Right from conservatism nowadays lies in that Fourth Canon: belief in moral agency.    Trumpists need conspiracies to explain away the failure of their own agency.

Posted by orrinj at 7:04 PM


The Woke Left v. the Alt-Right: A New Study Shows They're More Alike Than Either Side Realizes (Zaid Jilani, 8/03/20, Quillette)

Researchers Jordan Moss and Peter J. O'Connor, both of the Queensland University of Technology, studied a group of 511 US residents, stratified according to age, gender, ethnicity, and employment so as to be roughly representative of the US population as a whole, with a view to examining the link between political attitudes and the so-called three "Dark Triad" personality traits: Machiavellianism, narcissism, and psychopathy. These are traits linked with toxic personality types, including those associated with manipulative, self-centered, and callous behavior. In an e-mail, Moss told me that he had noticed a change in the university climate. "I wanted to know why these ideas propelled the cultural conversation as much as it seemed... and decided to look into the psychological traits that these ideas manifest from," he told me.

The authors note that "the majority of research on personality traits and political constructs has focused primarily on mainstream political attitudes and behaviours. These studies often use unidimensional measures of left-right political orientation or simple two-dimensional measures of liberalism and conservatism." In light of the fragmentation of long-standing political coalitions in recent years, however, these simplistic models now seem inadequate. And so Moss and O'Connor chose instead to study three sets of attitudes "falling outside of the traditional continuum," designated by the researchers as (1) Political Correctness-Authoritarianism (PCA), (2) Political Correctness-Liberalism (PCL), and (3) White Identitarianism (WI). While the latter is a right-wing subculture (often known as alt-right), the first two are variants of leftist ideology. Both PCA and PCL are centered on protecting minorities from discrimination and criticism. But PCA adherents, unlike PCL counterparts, embrace "the belief that aggression and force are appropriate methods to achieve ideological goals."

The questionnaire relied upon by Moss and O'Connor contained dozens of questions. One section gauging PCA attitudes, for instance, asked respondents what level of punishment should be meted out to professors who use racist, sexist, or homophobic slurs, with answers ranging from "not punished" to "immediately dismissed" to "court trial." Another asked whether students accused of sexual assault should have the presumption of innocence.

What Moss and O'Connor found is that while right-wing adherents of WI and left-wing adherents of PCA are "thought to reflect opposing ends... of the political spectrum," they actually shared remarkably similar personality characteristics: "Our study indicates that an emerging set of mainstream political attitudes--most notably PCA, WI, are largely being adopted by individuals high in DT [i.e., Dark Triad traits] and entitlement. Individuals high in authoritarianism--regardless of whether [they] hold politically correct or rightwing views--tend to score highly on DT and entitlement. Such individuals therefore are statistically more likely than average to be higher in psychopathy, narcissism, Machiavellianism and entitlement." (The authors also supply a footnote to the effect that "we also ran all analyses controlling for the Big Five personality traits--Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, Neuroticism--to check whether effects of [Dark Triad] variables could simply be attributed to normal variation in personality. Our results confirmed that incremental validity of [Dark Triad] traits and Entitlement remained [statistically significant] for both WI and PCA when controlling for Big Five traits in addition to age, sex, education, and ethnicity.")

It's why they hate America generally, and the Founding in particular, which is universal rather than identitarian.

Posted by orrinj at 6:58 PM


A Line-by-Line Analysis of the Hilarious 'Case for Trump' (Jonathan Chait, 8?03/20, New York)

This masterpiece of anti-persuasion rewards careful study. I have reprinted every word of it below, interspersed with my comments.

President Trump's record of accomplishments is easy to compile.

Most significantly, he has brought the existential threat posed by the Chinese Communist Party into the sunlight. No more nice words. No more treating the Tiananmen Square massacre as a bug, not a feature. The light is on. Trump has pulled the cord.

It is astonishing that Hewitt begins his case by praising Trump for his moral clarity in denouncing the Chinese government. Trump of course has lavished dictators with praise, including, repeatedly, China. Of course every American president has had to deal with foreign dictators, but Trump has exceeded all of them in his habit of praising those dictators for (not despite) their authoritarianism. Trump congratulated Xi Jinping for extending his tenure ("He's now president for life, president for life. And he's great") and dismissing his overbearing control of protests in Hong Kong as a matter "between Hong Kong and China."

Trump is the only president, and the only prominent American I can think of, who actually praised China's crushing of the Tiananmen square protests. ("They put it down with strength. That shows you the power of strength," he cooed in 1990.) The fact that, while unspooling his imaginary history of Trump as clear-eyed opponent of dictatorship, Hewitt goes out of his way to bring up Tiananmen almost suggests a guilty conscience he cannot fully repress.

Dude, that's not even the worst of it, Trump told China's president that building concentration camps for millions of Uighur Muslims was 'exactly the right thing to do,' former adviser says (David Choi and Sonam Sheth,  Jun 17, 2020, Business Insider)

Posted by orrinj at 6:48 PM


'He's scaring our own voters': Republicans run into a Donald Trump problem as they push mail voting (Joey Garrison, 8/03/20, USA TODAY)

As the Republican Party chairman in Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin, Rohn Bishop isn't just working to get President Donald Trump reelected by again carrying the Badger State.

He has his eyes down-ballot where Republicans in his mostly rural county fight to hold on to a congressional seat and reclaim a pair of state Senate seats. Amid a raging pandemic, that means encouraging the Republican base to request mail-in ballots for the election in November.

Bishop said he's encountered a recurring problem: Many Republicans are "skittish" about voting by mail. He pointed to strong anti-vote-by-mail rhetoric from Trump, who regularly assails mail voting as fraudulent and an attempt by Democrats to "rig the presidential election." This week, Trump tweeted that mail-in voting would lead to the "most corrupt election in our nation's history!"

Bishop fears it's putting Republicans at a disadvantage. 

"What the president is doing when he keeps saying that this mail-in balloting thing is fraudulent, he's scaring our own voters from using a legit way to cast your ballot," Bishop said. "We're kind of hurting ourselves, and I don't think that's the wisest way to go."

Posted by orrinj at 6:39 PM


"Transitioning" Procedures Don't Help Mental Health, Largest Dataset Shows (Ryan T. Anderson, 8/03/20, Heritage)

One of the first scholars to raise questions about the original study was Mark Regnerus, a professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin.

Writing at Public Discourse (the Journal of the Witherspoon Institute, which I edit), Regnerus praised the study for having such a robust dataset. But he pointed out oddities in the way the authors presented the results to the public, and which results the media touted.

For example, Regnerus highlighted that "the study found no mental health benefits for hormonal interventions in this population."

He also pointed out that in a dataset of 9.7 million people, the results of the original analysis the authors put forward hinged on the outcomes of just three people:

The study's trumpeted conclusion may hinge on as few as three people in a data collection effort reaching 9.7 million Swedes, 2,679 of whom were diagnosed with gender incongruence and just over 1,000 of whom had gender-affirming surgery.

Furthermore, Regnerus noted how small the impact of any given surgery was, that a clinic would need to perform 49 surgeries before they could expect a patient to benefit--hence the plural in the original paper's title: surgeries.

As Regnerus put it, "the beneficial effect of surgery is so small that a clinic may have to perform 49 gender-affirming surgeries before they could expect to prevent one additional person from seeking subsequent mental health assistance."

Given all of these concerns, why the media celebration of the study? Why the "consensus" among the medical elite that transitioning benefits patients? Why the claim that it's the only acceptable treatment?

Why are children being "transitioned"? And why are parents being told puberty-blocking drugs, cross-sex hormones, and surgeries are the only way to treat their children?

As I pointed out two years ago in my book, "When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment," the best therapies focus on helping people accept and embrace their bodies. Rather than attempting to do the impossible--"reassigning" bodies to line up with misguided thoughts and feelings--we should at least attempt what is possible: helping people to align their thoughts and feelings with reality, including the reality of the body.

It shouldn't surprise us that the results of this most recent study--and its correction--show that hormonal and surgical transition procedures don't bring the promised benefits. Even the Obama administration admitted that the best studies do not report improvement after reassignment surgery.

In August 2016, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid wrote that "the four best designed and conducted studies that assessed quality of life before and after surgery using validated (albeit non-specific) psychometric studies did not demonstrate clinically significant changes or differences in psychometric test results after GRS [gender reassignment surgery]."

What does that mean? A population of patients is suffering so much that these patients would submit to amputations and other radical surgeries, and the best research the Obama administration could find suggests that these surgeries bring them no meaningful improvements in their quality of life.

And sadly, such surgeries can have deadly consequences. In a discussion of the then-largest and most robust study on sex reassignment, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services pointed out: "The study identified increased mortality and psychiatric hospitalization compared to the matched controls. The mortality was primarily due to completed suicides (19.1-fold greater than in control Swedes)."

Posted by orrinj at 6:22 PM


Homeland Security Is Quietly Tying Antifa to Foreign Powers (Ken Klippenstein, Aug. 3rd, 2020, The Nation)

Last week, the DHS reassigned its intelligence chief after The Washington Post revealed that the agency had been compiling intelligence reports on American journalists and activists in Portland. In response to President Trump's executive order to protect monuments and other federal property, the DHS created the "Protecting American Communities Task Force," which sent DHS assets to Portland and other cities. The agency has found itself in transition under the Trump administration."They are always pressuring I&A for political reasons; it's been like that since the election," the former intelligence officer said.

This weekend, Politico reported that DHS Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli loosened oversight of I&A. Cuccinelli, at I&A's request, curtailed the requirement that the DHS's Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties approve I&A's intelligence products prior to distribution to law enforcement partners.

The intelligence report's executive summary states:

In June 2020, U.S. Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) National Targeting Center (NTC) Counter Network Division (CND) compiled CBP encounter data on individuals who returned from Syria and fought with the Yekîneyên Parastina Gel (YPG, translation: PEOPLE'S PROTECTION UNITS), and had some with reported ties to a U.S.-based ANTIFA (Anti-fascist) movement. CBP concerns about and interest in these individuals stem from the types of skills and motivations that may have developed during their time overseas in foreign conflicts.

These skills were also appreciated by the US military, which cooperated with the YPG in fighting ISIS for years. Last year, President Trump enraged many in the US military when he green-lighted a Turkish offensive against the Kurdish militia. Jim Mattis reportedly resigned as defense secretary in part because of what he considered a betrayal of our Kurdish allies.

The intelligence report describes over half a dozen people who traveled to Syria in order to fight alongside Kurdish factions--usually the YPG, but also other Kurdish groups like the PKK and the Peshmerga. Some of the individuals described have denied membership in antifa but variously identified with far-left causes. The DHS appears to define antifa broadly, to encompass various left-wing tendencies: "[A]ntifa is driven by a mixed range of far-left political ideologies, including anti-capitalism, communism, socialism, and anarchism." In two cases, evidence of antifa affiliation was limited to photos taken in front of an antifa flag. As the intelligence report itself notes, "ANTIFA claims no official leadership," raising questions about whether antifa even exists in any sort of operational capacity.

Posted by orrinj at 6:10 PM


Trump campaign sets 'money on fire' with ads in states he can't win (Emily Singer, August 3, 2020, American Independent)

The Trump campaign on Monday purchased $38,000 on ads just on Fox News in Washington, D.C., that will run from Monday through Aug. 16, according to Medium Buying, which tracks political ad buys.

That follows an earlier $38,000 buy in the same market for ads that ran from July 23 to July 28.

The likely audience for Trump campaign ads in such a reliably Democratic area is Donald Trump himself.

The campaign first started employing this tactic to mollify its candidate in late May, when it spent $400,000 to run ads on cable news networks in the Washington, D.C., media market as Trump began to worry about his reelection chances.

It has spent at least $476,000 on such ads.

Posted by orrinj at 6:01 PM


Voting with Their Feet: Children of High-Level CCP Officials Choose to Live Abroad (Ming Yang, August 03, 2020, Voice of America)

A recent article by an outspoken Chinese sociologist has gone viral on Beijing's tightly-controlled social media, sparking debates about the children of China's privileged class who choose to live overseas.

Zheng Yefu, a retired sociology professor from China's prestigious Peking University, wrote that although the Chinese Communist Party maintains its grip on power in order to better serve the ruling elite, their children are choosing to "vote with their feet," taking-up permanent residence in western countries. [...]

According to a report from the China-based wealth research firm Hurun Research Institute, more than a third of rich Chinese "are currently considering" emigrating to another country, for better education systems elsewhere and to flee the country's polluted cities and strict government, as well as protecting their wealth.

Posted by orrinj at 5:37 PM


Trump's Republican Party is defined by racism and those who tolerate it: GOP strategist: I've worked on winning Republican races across the South, and I've never seen a racist appeal like Trump's succeed. Why won't his party challenge him? (Stuart Stevens, 8/02/20, USA Today)

This 2020 campaign does not lack for big issues that impact every American: the worst public health crisis in 100 years, the highest unemployment since the Great Depression. This is a moment that uniquely calls out for strong presidential leadership. Most presidents would grasp that their fate lay with the public's view of their response and act accordingly.  

Not Donald Trump. It's clear his instinct is to make the 2020 election a cultural war, which in his interpretation is just a socially acceptable term for a race war. Why? How does this make any political sense? 

The answer is that it doesn't but it is what Trump wants to do. Steve Bannon liked to say of Trump, "Dude, he's Archie Bunker," but that seems overly generous. Archie had Meathead, who strongly disagreed with him and would argue. Trump has his children and a son-in-law who serve the same purpose in a Trump administration as the devoted Waylon Smithers does for his boss in "The Simpsons."

There is a need in Trump world to describe his erratic behavior and lack of discipline as some kind of brilliant hidden strategy because otherwise, you are left with the conclusion that he is a blithering idiot. Which, of course, Trump is, but he's an idiot with deep racial animosity that dates back decades. Now with his reelection campaign crumbling around him, Trump is lashing out trying to divide the country along racial lines.  

This isn't surprising. We shouldn't forget that Trump still says that the falsely convicted Central Park Five, African Americans he had said deserved the death penalty, are guilty despite exoneration. But what is shocking, if not surprising, is that the Republican Party is going along with Trump's strategy to model his campaign after Wallace's 1968 run for president. It reveals a combination of moral failure and political stupidity rarely evidenced by a major party. 

His hatreds are the only thing Donald has ever cared about and the Party's decision to tolerate, and even defend, him makes us the party of racism, at least at the national level.
Posted by orrinj at 4:21 PM

Posted by orrinj at 1:41 PM


Filing suggests Manhattan DA is investigating Trump for possible fraud (Fadel Allassan, 8/03/20, Axios)

The revelation comes less than a month after the Supreme Court paved the way for District Attorney Cy Vance's subpoena, ruling that presidents cannot be immune from investigation.

The filing suggests that Vance's investigation, which was believed to be examining hush money payments made by Trump's former fixer Michael Cohen during the 2016 election, is much broader in scope.

The myriad Trump prosecutions are going to be the 2024 primary, making AG the most desirable post in the Biden Administration.

Posted by orrinj at 1:39 PM


Senate under growing pressure to reach coronavirus relief deal (JOHN BRESNAHAN and MARIANNE LEVINE, 08/03/2020, Politico)

White House and Republican leaders on the Hill are desperately searching for some way to change the political dynamic surrounding the negotiations. With the pandemic spiking in many states, Trump trailing Democratic challenger Joe Biden in the polls, and Senate Democrats in reach of taking back control of the Senate, Republicans say they need to shift the debate somehow.

Posted by orrinj at 1:37 PM


Revolutionary Communist Party leader backs Biden (Stephen Dinan, 8/03/20, The Washington Times)

Bob Avakian, founder and leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party USA, told followers in an email Monday that ousting President Trump is too important a goal to miss, so they should vote for Democratic candidate Joseph R. Biden.

Mr. Avakian, a controversial figure who over the decades has backed violent fringe movements worldwide, said that means no protest votes for third-party or independent candidates. Mr. Biden must be the pick of the far left.

Posted by orrinj at 12:45 PM


Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Trump installs Islamophobe in senior Pentagon role after Senate won't confirm him (Emily Singer, August 3, 2020, American Independent)

Donald Trump skirted Senate nomination rules to place a bigoted retired general in a senior position at the Pentagon after it became clear even Senate Republicans would not confirm him.

That "even" is the damage the GOP has done to itself.
Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


'Shaking in Their Boots': Trump Wanted a Portland-Style Offensive in Chicago (Asawin Suebsaeng & Erin Banco, Jul. 23, 2020, Daily Beast)

In the week leading up to his announcement of a "surge" of hundreds of FBI, Justice Department, and Homeland Security personnel to Chicago, Donald Trump wanted a bigger, more public, more violent fight on the streets of the Windy City.  [...]

The president said he wanted something similar to what his administration has done in Portland, an ongoing melee between protesters and rioters and unmarked federal authorities. Trump has been closely monitoring the conflict--largely on his favorite channel, Fox News--and trumpeting it as a sign of his own supposed strength. [...]

"There was rarely a time I spoke to him about violent crime when two things didn't come up: Number One, that it's all happening in Democrat-run cities, with Chicago being shorthand for that kind of [blight]," said one former senior Trump administration official. "And Number Two, if it were up to him, we would return to the old days where it was eye-for-an-eye, tooth-for-a-tooth--or we would forget about proportionality altogether. He would talk about lining up drug dealers and gang members in front of a firing squad... If it were solely up to him, that is how the country would solve crime in Democrat-run cities [such as Chicago and Detroit]."

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Donald Trump defends his handling of coronavirus and demands schools reopen (KATELYN CARALLE, 8/03/20, DAILYMAIL.COM)

The survey, which was released Monday, shows that 64 per cent of parents do not want that option. Instead, 28 per cent want their children to remain in a full-time distanced or remote learning situation while the other 36 per cent want some sort of hybrid of in-person and remote classes.

This is a drastic change from the same poll taken through late May to early June - when students and parents were still coping with remote classes.

Then, only 7 per cent of parents wanted their kids to remain in full-time distanced learning and 56 per cent wanted full-time in-person classes to resume in the fall.

In the May 25-June 8 poll, 37 per cent of American parents said they wanted a hybrid.

...where he likes being whipped by Moms.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Donald Trump rails against 'illegal late night coup' in Nevada (EMILY GOODIN, 8/03/20,  DAILYMAIL.COM)

President Donald Trump on Monday railed against what he called an 'illegal late night coup' in Nevada that he characterized as an attempt to 'steal' the election as pundits warn it could take a week or more to know November's results thanks to mail-in voting.

Always bet on the Deep State.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Many Americans Are Convinced Crime Is Rising In The U.S. They're Wrong.: But their fear makes everyone less safe. (Maggie Koerth and Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux, 8/03/20, 538)

Over 10 years, from 1994 to 2004, the national Survey of Economic Expectations asked respondents to do just that. People estimated their risks for a whole host of bad-news life events -- robbery, burglary, job loss and losing their health insurance. But the survey didn't just ask respondents to rate their chances: It also asked whether those things had actually happened to them in the last year.

And that combination of questions revealed something important about American fear: We are terrible at estimating our risk of crime -- much worse than we are at guessing the danger of other bad things. Across that decade, respondents put their chance of being robbed in the coming year at about 15 percent. Looking back, the actual rate of robbery was 1.2 percent. In contrast, when asked to rate their risk of upcoming job loss, people guessed it was about 14.5 percent -- much closer to the actual job loss rate of 12.9 percent.

In other words, we feel the risk of crime more acutely. We are certain crime is rising when it isn't; convinced our risk of victimization is higher than it actually is. And in a summer when the president is sending federal agents to crack down on crime in major cities and local politicians are arguing over the risks of defunding the police, that disconnect matters. In an age of anxiety, crime may be one of our most misleading fears.

Take the crime rate. In 2019, according to a survey conducted by Gallup, about 64 percent of Americans believed that there was more crime in the U.S. than there was a year ago. It's a belief we've consistently held for decades now, but as you can see in the chart below, we've been, just as consistently, very wrong.

It's race, not crime that panics them.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


My father, George Soros, is white supremacists' favorite target. But they won't stop us (Alexander Soros, 7/31/20, NBC News)

The senseless killings of George Floyd and countless other Black Americans while in police custody have sparked the largest and most diverse mass protests in the history of the United States. You might think everyone would now be focusing on how to fix a system that has mercilessly subjugated, brutalized and killed Black and brown people in this country. But you would be wrong.

Instead of trying to come together and figure out how America can live up to its promise of equality for all, too many people prefer to stoke the flames of anti-Semitism. The wave of outrage over systemic racism has provoked anti-Semitic accusations that Jews -- specifically my father, George Soros -- are organizing the protests behind the scenes.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


The federal pullback in Portland immediately brought calm to the anti-racism protests (Peter Weber, 8/03/20, The Week)

Sunday's crowd outside the federal courthouse in downtown Portland, the 67th straight night of anti-racism and police reform protests since the Minneapolis police killed George Floyd, appeared "relatively small," The Oregonian reports. But Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights drew the larger groups that have been congregating since President Trump sent in the federal agents in early July. Oregon State troopers have replaced the federal agents at the courthouse, under an agreement Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) reached with the Trump administration.

With federal agents off the streets, the protesters have refocused their efforts on systemic anti-Black racism and their longstanding issues with local policing. 

August 2, 2020

Posted by orrinj at 10:17 PM


With No Federal Agents on Streets, Portland Protests Turn Largely Peaceful (Alicia A. Caldwell, 8/02/20, The Wall Street Journal)

The Trump administration and Oregon's governor unveiled an agreement Wednesday for federal agents who had been deployed to defend the courthouse to draw back and be replaced by state troopers. The federal agents, who came from agencies including Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, were a flashpoint for conflict over the past two weeks.

They wore camouflage, numerical identifiers instead of name tags, and patches with their affiliation that were difficult for many to recognize. They used tear gas and projectiles such as flash bangs and rubber bullets and took some people they said were suspects off the streets in unmarked vans. Local and state Democratic officials said they didn't belong in the city. Some protesters threw things, including frozen water bottles, at them and shot fireworks at the courthouse, according to the federal government.

Since Thursday, the first night without federal law enforcement visible, protests that had been increasingly violent have been mostly peaceful. On Saturday, the mothers stood with their backs to the fence that had previously been graffitied and the scene of violent encounters as some protesters tried to climb over it. They led the crowd of thousands, including a group of drummers, in chants, including, "Black Lives Matter" and "Take it to the streets and [expletive] the police."

Tough time to be fa.

Posted by orrinj at 3:44 PM


Wait, Wasn't Peter Thiel a Libertarian?: The tech billionaire and his contrarian circle are developing new nationalist visions for America's future. (BRIAN DOHERTY, AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2020, reason)

Who is Curtis Yarvin, and what was this atavistic assertion doing under the aegis of Claremont, a staid conservative institution founded by disciples of the late political philosopher Harry Jaffa? The Claremont Review of Books, for most of its two-decade run, has been a polite repository for intellectual conservatism. Jaffa, for his part, had defended the legacy of Abraham Lincoln to many then-skeptical fellow conservatives while elevating the equality of man to near-mystical primacy in the American founding.

Claremont's web journal The American Mind, though, was launched in 2018 with a more provocative agenda: to "rethink the ideological framework of the American Right." The animating idea, founding editor Matthew Peterson explains, is that traditional right-of-center groups are out of touch: They don't even realize that their own staffs include "people under 35" who "fundamentally disagree with supposedly fundamental [classical liberal] tenets of their organization. No one wants to hear or deal with it. They want to stick their heads in the sand." A vibrant and ideologically adventurous new conservative movement, Peterson says, is "bubbling beneath the surface, or even online all over the place. We are not supposed to talk about these things or engage that movement?"

Yarvin is perhaps better known for the pen name under which he rose to internet fame in the late 2000s and early 2010s: "Mencius Moldbug." At his Unqualified Reservations blog, Moldbug, a software entrepreneur by day, unspooled head-spinningly long-winded "neoreactionary" screeds, wielding a broadsword of abandoned pre-Enlightenment wisdom against the squalid lies of equality, democracy, and the smothering tyranny of what he called the communist-progressive "Cathedral." Back then, the Cathedral ruled the discourse so totally and viciously that it wasn't prudent--perhaps wasn't even safe--to burden Moldbug's true identity with his brutally honest thoughts. But TechCrunch outed Moldbug as Yarvin in 2013, and in the Trump era he seems happy enough to publicly be himself.

Yarvin, a follower of the 19th century British polemicist Thomas Carlyle, is the type of outside-the-box thinker who argues that monarchy is inherently better than democracy, that street crime is more of a danger to his readers' lives than all of government's depredations, and that one of the worst sins of modernity is that people refuse to speak candidly about IQ differences across human types. Such notions are by no means new to the American right, but they feel fresh again in 2020 not only because libertarianism has made some inroads against conservative traditionalism over the last few decades but also because Yarvin's extreme anti-cosmopolitanism comes with a genuinely modern twist: He is connected, via friendship, venture capital, and at least some ideological affinity, with one of America's wealthiest and most controversial men, the tech tycoon Peter Thiel.

Thiel, whom the George Mason economist Tyler Cowen in 2019 called "the most influential conservative intellectual with other conservative and libertarian intellectuals," is co-founder of PayPal, the big data analytics firm Palantir Technologies, and the trailblazing venture capital group Founders Fund. The latter entity has funded Yarvin's software company Tlon, the company's CEO, Galen Wolfe-Pauly, told The Verge in 2017. Yarvin and Thiel watched the 2016 election results together, according to a BuzzFeed-obtained email exchange between Yarvin and alt-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos.

"Peter needs guidance on politics for sure," Yiannopoulos posited in one of the messages.

"Less than you might think!" Yarvin responded. "He's fully enlightened, just plays it very carefully."

Both Thiel and Yarvin trace the ruination of our tech, education, and governing culture to the dominance of progressive political correctness. Associates of Thiel say the financier does not consider himself "neoreactionary," though he did write as far back as 2009 that "I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible." That was the same year Yarvin, as Moldbug, wrote that "socialism and fascism produce a mix of substandard and disastrous results, for a simple reason: both originate in democracy, a precancerous growth always pregnant with some malignancy."

Prior to Donald Trump's presidential campaign, Thiel moved through the 21st century like a mysterious science fiction wizard of finance. He was, among other things, the first key outside investor in Facebook (a company on whose board he remains, albeit as a kind of loyal opposition), and he has pumped his V.C. winnings into such colorfully contrarian projects as private space travel, new floating countries, and the quest for human immortality. He paid for the lawsuit that bankrupted the web tabloid Gawker, encouraged kids to drop out of college by offering them prizes via his Thiel Fellowship program, and argued that the ultimate entrepreneurial goal was to create and control a monopoly. In short, he made himself the patron saint of the kind of libertarian-adjacent intellectual exercises that most normies find obscure and sometimes alarming.

Since striding on stage at the 2016 Republican National Convention to tout Trump as an agent for reversing American decline, though, Thiel and his ideas have graduated from the ideological margins to the vanguard of 21st century conservatism. He is now the wealthiest ally, if not quite the most generous funder, of the new conservative nationalist movement, becoming that rare radical right-winger whose dinner parties are covered by the establishment scorekeepers at Vanity Fair.

Sources within the national conservative space say they see no signs Thiel intends to become a financier, in the mode of Charles Koch or George Soros, of the new nationalist conservatism as a political cause. But the fact that the often-reticent Thiel has taken to speaking at national conservative conferences and writing gnomic essays in the Christian traditionalist journal First Things may say more about the depth of his engagement than does his check writing.

This new ferment involving and surrounding Thiel (a man who still occasionally refers to himself as libertarian) shows that ideas libertarians once thought were reasonably and blessedly settled on the right--that industrial subsidies and high tariffs make the world poorer while giving too much power to corrupt and inefficient governments, say, or even that people shouldn't be sentenced to forever reside on whatever land mass they happened to be born on--are now up for grabs.

...but it's certain that the top five includes First Things and Claremont.  (And, saddest, Ben Sasse.)

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


'Hating Joe Biden doesn't juice up their base': Key swing state slips away from Trump (HOLLY OTTERBEIN, 08/02/2020, Politico)

Senior citizens and suburban voters are sinking President Donald Trump's campaign across the country.

But here in Pennsylvania -- home to one of the largest populations of residents age 65 or older and where suburbanites comprise more than half of the electorate -- their defection to Joe Biden is hurting Trump even more acutely.

It's a very big problem in a swing state that's central to his Rust Belt path to victory. Four years ago, Trump became the first Republican presidential candidate since 1988 to carry Pennsylvania, in part by winning older and suburban voters, as well as blue-collar white workers in ancestrally Democratic areas. Now, with less than 100 days till Election Day, surveys show those voters are eyeing something different yet again.

Joe Biden has an overall early lead in the state of 6 percentage points, according to RealClearPolitics' polling average, and has led Trump in all 12 public polls released since the beginning of June.

Folks on both sides have spent four years ignoring the central fact of the 2016 election: Donald lost to even the widely-despised Hillary by three million votes.  2020 was never going to be competitive.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Thomas Sowell Goes to Bat for Charter Schools. Whiffs (Glenn Sacks, August 02, 2020, Real Clear Politics)

Tellingly, the word "magnet" appears only once in "Charter Schools and Their Enemies," and it's a passing reference. In September, Assistant Secretary of Education Scott Stump visited the highly rated University High School, a magnet school in Tucson, Ariz., and mistakenly identified it as a charter. Even when corrected at a post-visit news conference, he insisted, "University High School is a charter school."

Whether applying to a magnet or a charter, pursuit of a school of choice is powerful evidence of a student's and family's commitment to education. Parents understand how important this selection effect is -- a recent study of New York City's public high school system found parents were more concerned about the quality of a school's students than the quality of the school itself.

Longtime charter advocate David Osborne acknowledges this. "Families have to choose charter schools, so kids with disengaged families are more likely to remain in district schools," he has written. "This gives charters an advantage."  

Frederick Hess, director of education policy studies at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, amplifies this point:

"There's a level of institutional hypocrisy here," he wrote. "Charter advocates say, 'No, no, no, we don't believe in (selective admissions),' but when you see a successful charter school, it's filled with families who are a good fit and who want to be there, and that's not possible when you have a random assortment of kids."

There is also a darker side to charters' test scores that Sowell ignores. According to Gordon Lafer, Ph.D., of the University of Oregon, who conducted an extensive study of charter schools, charters also benefit because they "exercise recruitment, admission, and expulsion policies that often screen out the students who would be the neediest and most expensive to serve -- who then turn to district schools."

An American Civil Liberties Union study of California charters and a nationwide Reuters investigation found admission policies helping charters exclude low-performing students to be widespread.

The most challenging students are often left for traditional public schools to educate. A study cited by Ravitch shows that "while 11 percent of students in the nation have disabilities, charters school enroll only eight percent." Sowell dismisses this as a difference of "three percentage points," and numerous charter supporters have echoed him. Actually, this data shows that public schools accept 38% more students with disabilities than charters.

Lafer found that while 28% of students in Oakland, Calif., go to charters, only 19% of its special needs students, 8% of its autistic students, and 2% of its students with multiple disabilities attend charters. The more troubled the students, the less likely they'll be in a charter school. Similarly, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, traditional public schools have 73% more English Language Learners than charters do. Moreover, charters are even less likely to have the lowest level ELL students.

As prominent charter supporter Robin Lake acknowledges, "In some cities, districts also face an increasing concentration of the students hardest and most costly to educate, those with severe special needs, those who speak little to no English, those with the most severe behavior and mental health challenges and the least parental support."

University of Colorado education professor Kevin Welner, director of the National Education Policy Center, explains, "The greatest determinants of [a school's] success are the raw materials - the students who enroll." Welner identified a dozen methods charters use to get the "raw material" they want - and avoid or discard what they don't.

Ms Ravitch was pretty devastating on EconTalk. Our ideology as free market conservatives simply doesn't align with the evidence.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


The Unfashionable Statesmanship of John Courtney Murray (Hunter Baker, 8/02/20, Kirk Center)

Most important, though, Murray was interested in what sort of a thing these religion clauses in the First Amendment really are. Are they fundamentally situated with some kind of religious or anti-religious object in view? Were some of the devout Protestants right to see the clauses as a theological matter? Did they operate, out of wise Christian conviction, to protect the garden of the church from the wilderness of the state and politics? Or was it the other way around? Did sober minded men erect the "wall" between church and state to hem in religious influence and prevent churches from seeking the power to force membership and extract tithes?

Murray declined to endorse either of these interpretations. On his reading, the establishment clause and the free exercise clause, taken together, are not "articles of faith." Rather, they are "articles of peace." The distinction is critically important. Were they articles of faith, then it might well be the case that American Catholics, highly relevant for Murray's purposes, would have to dissent. But Murray was convinced that it was wrong to "dogmatize" about the articles as many religionists and anti-religionists tended, and still tend, to do. The better course was to see them as a product not of the work of theologians or political philosophers, but instead as the fruit of the work of lawyers and statesmen.

Murray's insight liberates the First Amendment to do its work quite well for a pluralistic society. The religion clauses, then, are not a theology to be believed but rather a practical agreement. They make possible a unity based on obtaining a level of performance without agreement about ultimate ends. In other words, the articles of peace are aimed not at aligning our souls, but rather they attempt to make it possible for us to live together in harmony.

Reading the religion clauses as Murray does relates nicely to the organic history of the United States and its colonial existence that preceded the nation. He pointed out that church-state arrangements in the U.S. are at least as much the result of pluralism and distance from the European institutional centers as from political theory or religious conviction. The evangelical historian Mark Noll affirmed the same thing decades after Murray did. What made sense in American conditions was to find a way to live together. Without this necessity, Murray notes, the work of the theorists and religionists would likely have made for good literature, but precious little actual law.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


GOP: Trump Renomination will be Held in Private (Associated Press, August 01, 2020)

The vote to renominate President Donald Trump is set to be conducted in private later this month, without members of the media present, a spokesperson for the Republican National Convention said, citing the coronavirus.

Why not use that Moscow hotel room?

August 1, 2020

Posted by orrinj at 2:17 PM


Posted by orrinj at 12:33 PM


Jonathan Edwards in a New Light: Remembered for Preaching: New England's most famous preacher and the Great Awakening.  (Marilynne Robinson, November/December 2014, Humanities)

The doctrine of original sin need not seem especially strange or fearsome. We know we all do sin inevitably as an aspect of our humanity, and therefore that we have excellent grounds for forgiving ourselves and one another. Our shared identity as children of Adam has different meanings in different contexts, often very humane, as for example when Calvin says that to hate any human being is to hate our own flesh. But Edwards is committed to an understanding that would find us damnable in the sight of God as inheritors of guilt incurred by a literal Adam. So Edwards has the problem of explaining within the terms of his tradition how the human race as a whole could be implicated in one primordial act.

His explanation is extraordinary. Edwards argues that humankind can inherit Adam's sin and its consequences because there is no reason intrinsic to reality for the world to exist as it does. The world's going on is not simply the turning of the wheels of an original creation, a following out of laws established in the beginning, but is in fact a new creation in every instant. So the world in every particular exists as it is the will of God to change or sustain it. God's creating effective identity between ourselves and our first parent is no more improbable than His maintaining the selfhood of every individual person. The felt continuity of history and memory is the consequence of the will of God as it manifests itself in this continuous recreation. Edwards likens all being to an image in a mirror. "The image constantly renewed, by new successive rays, is no more numerically the same, than if it were by some artist put on anew with a pencil, and the colors constantly vanishing as fast as put on. . . . The image that exists this moment, is not at all derived from the image which existed the last preceding moment." He might be interested to read current thought that suggests the universe is a kind of holograph.

He is arguing that there is no point in dismissively describing the ascription of Adam's sin to humankind as arbitrary when the whole of being is arbitrary, always a fresh assertion of God's will in creation. Within the bounds of His own great constancy, God is free. "The whole course of nature, with all that belongs to it, all its laws and methods, and constancy and regularity, continuance and proceeding, is an arbitrary constitution. In this sense, the continuance of the very being of the world and all its parts, as well as the manner of continued being, depends entirely on an arbitrary constitution: for it don't at all necessarily follow, that because there was sound, or light, or color, or resistance, or gravity, or thought, or consciousness, or any other dependent thing the last moment, that therefore there shall be the like at the next. All dependent existence whatsoever is in constant flux, ever passing and returning: renewed every moment, as the color of bodies are every moment renewed by the light that shines upon them; and all is constantly proceeding from God, as light from the sun." 

Posted by orrinj at 12:17 PM

Posted by orrinj at 9:46 AM


The Man Who Made Stephen Miller: Almost 20 years ago, anti-immigration activist David Horowitz cultivated an angry high-school student. Now his ideas are coming to life in the Trump administration. (JEAN GUERRERO, 08/01/2020, Politico)

In December 2012, with the Republican Party reeling from a brutal election that left Democrats in control of the White House and the Senate, the conservative activist David Horowitz emailed a strategy paper to the office of Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions.

Horowitz, now 81, was a longtime opponent of immigration and the founder of a think tank and a campus freedom-of-speech advocacy group. He saw in Sessions a kindred spirit--a senator who could reawaken a more nationalist fire in the Republican party. The person he emailed it to was a Sessions aide: Stephen Miller. Horowitz, who recalled the episode in an interview and shared the emails with me, had known Miller since the aide was in high school.

Horowitz encouraged Miller to not only give the paper to Sessions but to circulate it in the Senate. Miller expressed eagerness to share it and asked for instructions. "Leave the Confidential note on it. It gives it an aura that will make people pay more attention to it," Horowitz wrote. The paper, "Playing to the Head Instead of the Heart: Why Republicans Lost and How They Can Win," included a section on the political utility of hostile feelings. Horowitz wrote that Democrats know how to "hate their opponents," how to "incite envy and resentment, distrust and fear, and to direct those volatile emotions." He urged Republicans to "return their fire."

This hatred is the entirety of Trumpism.

Posted by orrinj at 9:23 AM


'To Start a War' author Robert Draper talks about the intelligence disasters that led Bush to invade Iraq (Anthony L. Fisher, 8/01/2020, Business Insider)

Robert Draper, a writer at large for The New York Times Magazine and a contributor to National Geographic, is the author of the new book "To Start a War: How the Bush Administration Took America into Iraq." Draper in 2008 published another book about Bush, "Dead Certain: The Presidency of George W. Bush," which covered the first six years of his presidency. 

In a phone interview with Business Insider Columnist Anthony L. Fisher, Draper talked about why he felt the time was right to revisit the greatest foreign policy catastrophe of modern times, Donald Rumsfeld's micro-managing megalomania, and who in the administration will Colin Powell never forgive. 

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Fisher: Such a catastrophic moment in recent American history, while not forgotten, is certainly not discussed nearly as much as one might expect. So what made you want to write this book now? 

Draper: This was sort of a case of unfinished business for me. I had done this biography of Bush's presidency while the Iraq saga was still unfolding. It was such a moving target that I didn't sufficiently cover it in that book. On top of that I also felt at pains to really unlock this central mystery of Bush's presidency, which is, why did he go to war at the time that he did against a country that had not attacked us? 

One would respect the opponents of the Iraq War more if they could be forthright in stating that they do not share W's interest in international law and the rights of the Iraqi people, because he could not have been any clearer about why he went to war with a dictator who had not attacked us President Bush Addresses United Nations General Assembly (George W Bush, September 12, 2002, The United Nations, New York, New York)

Twelve years ago, Iraq invaded Kuwait without provocation. And the regime's forces were poised to continue their march to seize other countries and their resources. Had Saddam Hussein been appeased instead of stopped, he would have endangered the peace and stability of the world. Yet this aggression was stopped -- by the might of coalition forces and the will of the United Nations.

To suspend hostilities, to spare himself, Iraq's dictator accepted a series of commitments. The terms were clear, to him and to all. And he agreed to prove he is complying with every one of those obligations.

He has proven instead only his contempt for the United Nations, and for all his pledges. By breaking every pledge -- by his deceptions, and by his cruelties -- Saddam Hussein has made the case against himself.

In 1991, Security Council Resolution 688 demanded that the Iraqi regime cease at once the repression of its own people, including the systematic repression of minorities -- which the Council said, threatened international peace and security in the region. This demand goes ignored.

Last year, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights found that Iraq continues to commit extremely grave violations of human rights, and that the regime's repression is all pervasive. Tens of thousands of political opponents and ordinary citizens have been subjected to arbitrary arrest and imprisonment, summary execution, and torture by beating and burning, electric shock, starvation, mutilation, and rape. Wives are tortured in front of their husbands, children in the presence of their parents -- and all of these horrors concealed from the world by the apparatus of a totalitarian state.

In 1991, the U.N. Security Council, through Resolutions 686 and 687, demanded that Iraq return all prisoners from Kuwait and other lands. Iraq's regime agreed. It broke its promise. Last year the Secretary General's high-level coordinator for this issue reported that Kuwait, Saudi, Indian, Syrian, Lebanese, Iranian, Egyptian, Bahraini, and Omani nationals remain unaccounted for -- more than 600 people. One American pilot is among them.

In 1991, the U.N. Security Council, through Resolution 687, demanded that Iraq renounce all involvement with terrorism, and permit no terrorist organizations to operate in Iraq. Iraq's regime agreed. It broke this promise. In violation of Security Council Resolution 1373, Iraq continues to shelter and support terrorist organizations that direct violence against Iran, Israel, and Western governments. Iraqi dissidents abroad are targeted for murder. In 1993, Iraq attempted to assassinate the Emir of Kuwait and a former American President. Iraq's government openly praised the attacks of September the 11th. And al Qaeda terrorists escaped from Afghanistan and are known to be in Iraq.

In 1991, the Iraqi regime agreed to destroy and stop developing all weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles, and to prove to the world it has done so by complying with rigorous inspections. Iraq has broken every aspect of this fundamental pledge.

From 1991 to 1995, the Iraqi regime said it had no biological weapons. After a senior official in its weapons program defected and exposed this lie, the regime admitted to producing tens of thousands of liters of anthrax and other deadly biological agents for use with Scud warheads, aerial bombs, and aircraft spray tanks. U.N. inspectors believe Iraq has produced two to four times the amount of biological agents it declared, and has failed to account for more than three metric tons of material that could be used to produce biological weapons. Right now, Iraq is expanding and improving facilities that were used for the production of biological weapons.

United Nations' inspections also revealed that Iraq likely maintains stockpiles of VX, mustard and other chemical agents, and that the regime is rebuilding and expanding facilities capable of producing chemical weapons.

And in 1995, after four years of deception, Iraq finally admitted it had a crash nuclear weapons program prior to the Gulf War. We know now, were it not for that war, the regime in Iraq would likely have possessed a nuclear weapon no later than 1993.

Today, Iraq continues to withhold important information about its nuclear program -- weapons design, procurement logs, experiment data, an accounting of nuclear materials and documentation of foreign assistance. Iraq employs capable nuclear scientists and technicians. It retains physical infrastructure needed to build a nuclear weapon. Iraq has made several attempts to buy high-strength aluminum tubes used to enrich uranium for a nuclear weapon. Should Iraq acquire fissile material, it would be able to build a nuclear weapon within a year. And Iraq's state-controlled media has reported numerous meetings between Saddam Hussein and his nuclear scientists, leaving little doubt about his continued appetite for these weapons.

Iraq also possesses a force of Scud-type missiles with ranges beyond the 150 kilometers permitted by the U.N. Work at testing and production facilities shows that Iraq is building more long-range missiles that it can inflict mass death throughout the region.

In 1990, after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, the world imposed economic sanctions on Iraq. Those sanctions were maintained after the war to compel the regime's compliance with Security Council resolutions. In time, Iraq was allowed to use oil revenues to buy food. Saddam Hussein has subverted this program, working around the sanctions to buy missile technology and military materials. He blames the suffering of Iraq's people on the United Nations, even as he uses his oil wealth to build lavish palaces for himself, and to buy arms for his country. By refusing to comply with his own agreements, he bears full guilt for the hunger and misery of innocent Iraqi citizens.

In 1991, Iraq promised U.N. inspectors immediate and unrestricted access to verify Iraq's commitment to rid itself of weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles. Iraq broke this promise, spending seven years deceiving, evading, and harassing U.N. inspectors before ceasing cooperation entirely. Just months after the 1991 cease-fire, the Security Council twice renewed its demand that the Iraqi regime cooperate fully with inspectors, condemning Iraq's serious violations of its obligations. The Security Council again renewed that demand in 1994, and twice more in 1996, deploring Iraq's clear violations of its obligations. The Security Council renewed its demand three more times in 1997, citing flagrant violations; and three more times in 1998, calling Iraq's behavior totally unacceptable. And in 1999, the demand was renewed yet again.

As we meet today, it's been almost four years since the last U.N. inspectors set foot in Iraq, four years for the Iraqi regime to plan, and to build, and to test behind the cloak of secrecy.

We know that Saddam Hussein pursued weapons of mass murder even when inspectors were in his country. Are we to assume that he stopped when they left? The history, the logic, and the facts lead to one conclusion: Saddam Hussein's regime is a grave and gathering danger. To suggest otherwise is to hope against the evidence. To assume this regime's good faith is to bet the lives of millions and the peace of the world in a reckless gamble. And this is a risk we must not take.

Delegates to the General Assembly, we have been more than patient. We've tried sanctions. We've tried the carrot of oil for food, and the stick of coalition military strikes. But Saddam Hussein has defied all these efforts and continues to develop weapons of mass destruction. The first time we may be completely certain he has a -- nuclear weapons is when, God forbids, he uses one. We owe it to all our citizens to do everything in our power to prevent that day from coming.

The conduct of the Iraqi regime is a threat to the authority of the United Nations, and a threat to peace. Iraq has answered a decade of U.N. demands with a decade of defiance. All the world now faces a test, and the United Nations a difficult and defining moment. Are Security Council resolutions to be honored and enforced, or cast aside without consequence? Will the United Nations serve the purpose of its founding, or will it be irrelevant?

The United States helped found the United Nations. We want the United Nations to be effective, and respectful, and successful. We want the resolutions of the world's most important multilateral body to be enforced. And right now those resolutions are being unilaterally subverted by the Iraqi regime. Our partnership of nations can meet the test before us, by making clear what we now expect of the Iraqi regime.

If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will immediately and unconditionally forswear, disclose, and remove or destroy all weapons of mass destruction, long-range missiles, and all related material.

If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will immediately end all support for terrorism and act to suppress it, as all states are required to do by U.N. Security Council resolutions.

If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will cease persecution of its civilian population, including Shi'a, Sunnis, Kurds, Turkomans, and others, again as required by Security Council resolutions.

If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will release or account for all Gulf War personnel whose fate is still unknown. It will return the remains of any who are deceased, return stolen property, accept liability for losses resulting from the invasion of Kuwait, and fully cooperate with international efforts to resolve these issues, as required by Security Council resolutions.

If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will immediately end all illicit trade outside the oil-for-food program. It will accept U.N. administration of funds from that program, to ensure that the money is used fairly and promptly for the benefit of the Iraqi people.

If all these steps are taken, it will signal a new openness and accountability in Iraq. And it could open the prospect of the United Nations helping to build a government that represents all Iraqis -- a government based on respect for human rights, economic liberty, and internationally supervised elections.

The United States has no quarrel with the Iraqi people; they've suffered too long in silent captivity. Liberty for the Iraqi people is a great moral cause, and a great strategic goal. The people of Iraq deserve it; the security of all nations requires it. Free societies do not intimidate through cruelty and conquest, and open societies do not threaten the world with mass murder. The United States supports political and economic liberty in a unified Iraq.

We can harbor no illusions -- and that's important today to remember. Saddam Hussein attacked Iran in 1980 and Kuwait in 1990. He's fired ballistic missiles at Iran and Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Israel. His regime once ordered the killing of every person between the ages of 15 and 70 in certain Kurdish villages in northern Iraq. He has gassed many Iranians, and 40 Iraqi villages.

My nation will work with the U.N. Security Council to meet our common challenge. If Iraq's regime defies us again, the world must move deliberately, decisively to hold Iraq to account. We will work with the U.N. Security Council for the necessary resolutions. But the purposes of the United States should not be doubted. The Security Council resolutions will be enforced -- the just demands of peace and security will be met -- or action will be unavoidable. And a regime that has lost its legitimacy will also lose its power.

Events can turn in one of two ways: If we fail to act in the face of danger, the people of Iraq will continue to live in brutal submission. The regime will have new power to bully and dominate and conquer its neighbors, condemning the Middle East to more years of bloodshed and fear. The regime will remain unstable -- the region will remain unstable, with little hope of freedom, and isolated from the progress of our times. With every step the Iraqi regime takes toward gaining and deploying the most terrible weapons, our own options to confront that regime will narrow. And if an emboldened regime were to supply these weapons to terrorist allies, then the attacks of September the 11th would be a prelude to far greater horrors.

If we meet our responsibilities, if we overcome this danger, we can arrive at a very different future. The people of Iraq can shake off their captivity. They can one day join a democratic Afghanistan and a democratic Palestine, inspiring reforms throughout the Muslim world. These nations can show by their example that honest government, and respect for women, and the great Islamic tradition of learning can triumph in the Middle East and beyond. And we will show that the promise of the United Nations can be fulfilled in our time.

Neither of these outcomes is certain. Both have been set before us. We must choose between a world of fear and a world of progress. We cannot stand by and do nothing while dangers gather. We must stand up for our security, and for the permanent rights and the hopes of mankind. By heritage and by choice, the United States of America will make that stand. And, delegates to the United Nations, you have the power to make that stand, as well.

There is obviously no reason that isolationists of Right and Left should ever support going beyond our own borders and enforcing UN resolutions, fighting for the freedom of captive peoples or trying to stop genocide, but they ought to have the courage of those convictions as W had the courage of America's. While Mr. Draper does suggest that he would have pursued an alliance with Saddam instead of his removal, he does not reckon with any of the consequences that would have brought for the Kurds and Shi'a in particular.

Posted by orrinj at 6:45 AM


Conservatism Is Rooted In Natural Rights: If you want to understand it, look no further than the Declaration of Independence (JAMES PIERESON, 8/01/20, American Conservative)

Beginning in the 1970s, perhaps because of the bicentennial of the Declaration of Independence and, a dozen years later, of the U.S. Constitution, or because of the election of Ronald Reagan, conservatives began to focus more intently upon the nation's founding institutions, especially the Declaration with its ringing endorsement of natural rights. Historians and biographers such as Gordon Wood, Joseph Ellis, Richard Brookhiser, and others highlighted the distinctly American contribution to political theory in the Declaration, the Constitution, the Federalist Papers, and other writings emanating from the founding generation. Due in part to the growing relativism of the American Left, conservatives endorsed the absolute language of the Declaration, which left no doubt as to the truths upon which the nation was founded. Here was something of a change: conservatives began to embrace the natural rights philosophy of John Locke, an outlook that Kirk criticized as abstract, individualistic, and potentially radical. The new outlook represented a distinctly American version of conservatism, one that resonates well with the American public--and for that reason has contributed to the rise of conservatism as a popular movement. 

There is also the issue of Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War. Russell Kirk rarely mentioned Lincoln in The Conservative Mind, and did not parse the Lincoln-Douglas debates or Lincoln's wartime speeches, where Lincoln set up the struggle over slavery in terms of the natural rights delineated in the Declaration of Independence. The emergence of Lincoln as a conservative hero late in the 20th and early in the 21st centuries could not have been predicted based upon Kirk's book or the conservative mood of the 1950s and 1960s. This owes something to Harry Jaffa's pathbreaking book, The Crisis of the House Divided (1959), in which he showed that it was Lincoln and not his adversaries who were faithful to the Declaration and the Constitution--and to his many students who continue to raise the flag of Lincoln.

With the dust now settled, we can see in all this the emergence of a more distinctively American version of conservatism, based upon the Founding Fathers, the nation's founding documents, the writings and speeches of Abraham Lincoln--and, of course, the natural rights philosophy limiting government to a few important duties. This was an important corrective to (but not a repudiation of) the conservative writings of the early 1950s. It was also essential to the rise of conservatism as a popular political movement: before it could succeed politically, the movement had to embrace more forcefully the nation's founding philosophy of natural rights.

It was inevitable that the incorporation of the universalism of the Founding into conservatism would fracture the broader right. The only surprise was the percentage of white men who still refuse to adhere to the Founding ideals if it means sharing them with people of color and women.

Posted by orrinj at 6:41 AM


Portland protests continue Friday as police stay away for 2nd straight night (Piper McDaniel, 8/01/20, The Oregonian/OregonLive)

Clashes between police and protesters were absent Friday from downtown Portland for the second straight night, a sharp contrast to recent weeks that saw federal officers gas crowds nightly.

Posted by orrinj at 6:38 AM


This Carbon Emissions Law Actually Has Helped Kids Breathe: Avoiding childhood health impacts has resulted in savings of between $191 and $350 million. (EMILY PONTECORVO, 8/01/20,  Grist)

With Virginia and Pennsylvania clamoring to join, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, affectionately known as RGGI (pronounced "Reggie"), is becoming the coolest climate club on the East Coast. The program, which went into effect in 2009, places a cap on emissions from power plants across its 10 (soon to be 12) member states that tightens over time.

Carbon-wise, it's proven to be a big success: By 2017, RGGI had already surpassed its 2020 goal of reducing emissions 45 percent below 2005 levels. A new study published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives on Wednesday shows the program has been a boon to public health, too.

While RGGI is designed to reduce CO2 emissions, it inevitably leads to reductions in other pollutants from power plants, like nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide. These gases react with other compounds in the atmosphere to form tiny, inhalable particles that are dangerous to human health.

For the new study, the researchers looked specifically at the health benefits for children and babies of reducing this "fine particulate matter," as it's called. They estimated that from 2009 to 2014, RGGI prevented more than 500 cases of childhood asthma, 112 preterm births, 98 cases of autism spectrum disorder, and 56 incidences of low birthweight. They also found that the amount of money saved by avoiding these and other childhood health impacts amounts to between $191 and $350 million. Even better, these benefits were not limited to participating states but were spread across neighboring states as well.