November 18, 2022

Posted by orrinj at 8:14 AM


Emails Reveal the U.S. Maritime Administration's 2019 Efforts to Derail a Long‐​Term Jones Act Waiver for LNG (Colin Grabow, 10/24/22, Cato)

As millions of New Englanders brace for the coming winter chill and historically high energy prices, they might be interested to know that--per government emails obtained by the Cato Institute--at least one federal agency has been working with maritime industry lobbyists to deny them access to U.S. energy.

As Cato scholars have detailed, the Jones Act ensures that New England cannot access U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) and other energy products via tanker ships. For the same reason, hurricane‐​hit Puerto Rico was recently forced to seek an emergency waiver of the 1920 law to obtain a limited quantity of U.S. LNG being stored in the neighboring Dominican Republic. Due to a total lack of LNG tankers that comply with the Jones Act, U.S. LNG can be sent to foreign countries but not domestic markets.

The denial of U.S.-origin energy to Americans due to protectionist maritime laws during times of crisis is troubling and farcical on its face. But the situation becomes downright scandalous when it's revealed that a major impediment to relief is the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD), working hand in glove with (or for?) the domestic maritime industry.

For many months Cato Institute scholars have been sifting through thousands of pages of documents obtained from MARAD via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). As previously noted, one of these documents included a call for members of the Cato Institute to be charged with treason. But other things have been revealed as well.

Among these are efforts by MARAD to thwart proposed waivers of the Jones Act during the Trump administration for the transportation of LNG. 

Man, they hate the free movement of goods and people on the fringes.

Posted by orrinj at 12:54 AM


The Indian Summer of Carl Yastrzemski (John Eskow, October 30, 1978, New Times)

The face is a harbormaster's face, or a potato farmer's, or a lobsterman's: sharp, prominent nose, articulate features, eyes meant for pinpointing danger. At 39, the body is aching but supple. As he enters the sepulchral clubhouse of the Boston Red Sox moments after their agonizing loss to the New York Yankees in the season-ending tie-breaker game, Carl Yastrzemski tokes hard on a Marlboro and sips from a paper cup of beer.

This afternoon, he made the last out of the season. It hurts to make the last out of a pickup whiffleball game at a picnic; this last out may have ended Yastrzemski's fondest dream. The one-game shoot-out came down to one pitch, and Yastrzemski lost. Now he stands red-eyed in a crowd of oddly silent reporters. Around him, the other players--knowing the season is over--still don't want to shower and change. They sit motionless in their uniforms, some crying, some immobile with grief.

First baseman George Scott sits at his locker, packing his bats into a duffel bag. A sportswriter approaches with a timeworn question: "George, is it going to be a long winter for you, looking back at what might have been?"

Scott is a huge, warm-hearted man, but he's been pushed to the edge of his gentleness. "Long winter?" he says. "I figure it'll go like November, December, January, 'less they puttin' some new months on the calendar they ain't told me about. Be about as long as ev'y otha winter. What kinda fool question is that?"

Across the room, pitcher Bill Lee shakes his head. "If the fans could've held off yelling, 'Yankees suck,' just one more inning, I think we might've won it."

Yastrzemski drags on his cigarette and then clears his throat. As he stands in the heat of the TV lights, the streaks of shoe polish under his eyes--painted there to cut the glare of the afternoon sun--begin to melt. His whole speech is a fight against tears.

"My insides are a bunch of knots. Defeat is heartbreaking, there's no way around it." He stares at the ceiling, then sighs explosively. "In a couple of weeks I guess I'll work it out. Right now I'm still numb.

"This year we had three months of joy, one month of frustration and then a great comeback, and then... I'll just remember the last week of the season--knowing you could not lose one game, and not losing." A few minutes later he succumbs and cries softly.

At 39, most ballplayers are warming the bench, coaching third base or opening bars called The Bat 'n' Glove. But in the late summer of 1978, Carl Yastrzemski, the team captain, sparked the Red Sox with key hits and miraculous catches, in open defiance of nature.

"He wants to win so much, the captain," said Jerry Remy, Boston's gifted second baseman. "More than any of us." Remy uses the term "captain" with reverence, as do many of the younger players, who see themselves as first mates to Yastrzemski. "You know how you pretend you're a major league star when you're a kid, playing stickball in the street?" Remy said. "Yaz hit .450 on my street one year--every time I swung, it was for him, so he got a lot of hits. And now I'm two lockers away from him."

The captain's dream is to win the World Series, and his desire is fueled by past frustrations. Twice in his career, in 1967 and 1975, he led the Sox into the last game of the Series, and twice he lost.

Near the end of this season, he was asked about reports that he's obsessed with the championship. His silence was so long it seemed he would never answer. He flicked ashes from this thermal underwear, studied his uniform and finally spoke.

"Playing this long, you'd like to be able to say 'I played on a World Champion once.' After it's over. Just once... All my All-Star rings have been given away, passed on to friends and relatives. But that's one ring I'd keep." Thirty seconds later, still peering into his locker, he added quietly: "Yeah, I'd keep that one."

Posted by orrinj at 12:34 AM



For two days in late October, I attended Clay Clarke's MAGA-driven ReAwaken America Tour near my home in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Keynote speakers included a predictable Who's Who of Trump surrogates, including Michael Flynn, Mike Lindell, Roger Stone, and Eric Trump. The real driver of the event, however, was the lineup of dominionist, charismatic, Christian pastors, prophets, and lay leaders who were there to openly declare war on their enemies in the name of Jesus. These leaders, aligned with the movement known as the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), are driven by a prophetic certainty that God is commanding them to establish a militant Christian theocracy in the United States.

I've spent my entire life immersed in New Apostolic Reformation circles. I was raised in the tradition from infancy, remained a fervent foot soldier into my twenties, and have now been studying the movement as an outsider for the past two decades. As a consequence, I honestly wasn't expecting any big surprises when I bought my ticket to see some of the NAR's brightest stars at the ReAwaken rally when it swept through my hometown. 

I was wrong. While forays into national politics and spiritual warfare rhetoric have long marked the NAR movement, the degree to which the dominionist theology of NAR has co-opted far-right political extremism, conspiracy theory culture, and open calls for violence is both a novel and dangerous development. And this is a movement that is no longer confined to the fringes of American religious and political life. The tour has already visited 16 US cities, drawing sold-out crowds at every stop, with regularly priced tickets ranging between $250 and $500. It is arguably the dominant brand of today's Republican Party. For good reason, a growing number of expert observers have begun sounding the alarm. I suggest it's time we hit the panic button.

The rally featured plenty of repugnant elements--from the relentless attacks on transgender youth consistent with fascist scapegoating, to the steady drumbeat of election fraud claims, to accusations that Dr. Fauci engineered Covid-19 in a Chinese lab to help a demonic cabal in Davos to impose a one-world government over freedom-loving Americans like themselves. Emboldened by their movement's surging popularity, speakers repeatedly embraced the once-toxic label of "Christian nationalist" to thunderous applause. 

But underneath it all was a seething groundswell of spiritually sanctioned incitement to violence that was impossible to ignore. The spiritual leaders of this new religio-political movement are using increasingly violent rhetoric to direct an inspired army of God to wage war against all who stand outside their camp. I watched as 4,000 faithful warriors sprang to their feet with each call to arms, roaring their approval, hands outstretched to the heavens in warfare worship, prayers pouring from their lips.

Posted by orrinj at 12:32 AM


David Hume at the Constitutional Convention: Every generation of Americans needs to be reminded of the wisdom and perception of David Hume's political ideas. (Robert Case, 11/08/22, Law & Liberty)

David Hume was a "public spirit" man through and through, and wrote reflectively, systematically, and widely to this end. He left a body of substantial work that effectively combats the age of dictatorial rationalism from a secular vantage point. Hume's writings provided political guidance, social security, and economic direction for America's Founding Fathers as they created a constitution (with all its flaws) for a new and more just Republic. Hume's ideas, which were so influential to the colonials can still provide guardrails for contemporary American political discourse. David Hume's influence in the shaping of American political society from its very beginning codification will be shown and his benefit for contemporary American society to preserve our union will become evident.

In eighteenth-century America, Hume's seminal works were read by college students and young leaders throughout the colonies. The colonials wrote in Humean phraseology, presumably to those who also understood Hume's thought. Hume's notions of experience and skepticism, the uniformity of human nature, commerce, culture, factions, interests, customs, social institutions, and most importantly, the "science of politics," were avidly studied, absorbed, and promulgated by the leading colonial minds. As Jeffry Morrison put it, "the ideas and language of Hume were in the colonial air."

Hume's political writings fit the pragmatic temper of the new Americans. From every state at the Constitutional Convention his ideas found purchase in the delegates' debates, letters, and essays. What the Founding Fathers found attractive in Hume was his Scottish common sense, and his freedom from political and religious mysticism and convictions. Hume's powerful practical intellect grounded in experience resulted in political compromise, the art of the experience. It is no paradox that Americans have always continued to have faith in their religion but skepticism in their politics. That is, we Americans expect our religion to be metaphysical, but we expect our politicians to be very physical. Thus, there is a sense in which Hume's religious "mitigated skepticism" has its political application in the American civil experience.

Due to Hume's influence, it is the American custom to believe that there are no easy answers to social problems, there are no honest politicians, and there is no place in America for political ideologues. Until now. Americans love their religion and despise their politicians. David Hume's foundational influence in original American political thought and action is still operative in constitutional America. He is still a key to unlock the dangers of contemporary political "imagination" run amuck.

Boston attorney and Founding Father James Otis wrote in support of Humean experience as guiding one's thinking, "what happened yesterday will come to pass again, and the same causes will produce like effects in all ages" since the laws of nature are "uniform and invariable." Bernard Bailyn asserts that experience was the "basic presupposition of the eighteenth-century history and political theory." Hume was just the pied piper of custom being the guide to understanding. For Hume and the early Americans, experience was not just a personal guide; it was a dependable political guide as well. Custom is king!

Hume's emphasis on the value of convention and custom, expressed in "great orders and societies," is important because it is only through felicitous social arrangements that the individual's rights can be preserved against governmental arrangements. He also insists on an innate moral human nature from somewhere rather than a morality from a supreme Being, and therefore warrants continued attention on the great skeptic's importance in our secular age. As regards metaphysics, Hume had a hesitant appreciation for Calvinism and the need for a transcendental perspective in human social life which, if handled properly, can provide social stability and prosperity.

Posted by orrinj at 12:23 AM


American democracy isn't dead: Every political nightmare eventually comes to an end (Shadi Hamid, November 11, 2022, unHerd)
Democracy didn't die. Of course it didn't. The existential angst of the past few weeks seems quaint in retrospect. Was the panic real or was it more a matter of romanticism run amok -- of wanting to feel like a revolutionary in a country where revolutions don't happen?

To be sure, election anxiety is a real thing, and it can be difficult to avoid entirely. In a bygone era, I struggled with this. On the night of Trump's surprise victory on November 8, 2016, what started as gallows humour transformed into sheer panic. My brother called me at midnight. "I'm not so much worried about us. I'm worried about mom and dad," he told me. I started to tear up -- the first (and last) time I ever cried about politics. Since my mother wears the headscarf, she is visibly and obviously Muslim in a way that I am not. And Donald Trump had spent the previous 12 months demonising Muslims, a relic of a time when Islam and Muslims had become something of a national preoccupation. In addition to his vaunted "Muslim ban", Trump had expressed support for registering Muslims in a database and refused to disavow the internment of Japanese Americans.

I feel a bit sheepish for crying, not because men shouldn't cry -- they probably should, at least occasionally -- but because no one should cry about an election. In a democracy, elections can be cause for disappointment and even anger, but they shouldn't be an occasion for despair. As I discuss in The Problem of Democracy, to contest a democratic election is to know that there are no final victories, merely provisional ones. The worst thing about elections is losing, but the best thing about losing is that you live to fight another day -- through the ballot box in the next election. It does require patience, however. It also requires that the losers come to terms with losing and think about how they might win. There is always hope, in other words. This doesn't mean that things will get better, but it does mean that citizens, activists, and political parties have avenues of redress available to them.

Posted by orrinj at 12:06 AM


Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


The End of History and The Last Man and Liberalism and Its Discontents (Pierre Lemieux, Fall 2022, Regulation)

The genesis of the 1992 book was a 1989 essay, titled simply "The End of History," that Fukuyama published in The National Interest. The essay and book appeared at a time of great promise: the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, and China was opening to capitalism and experiencing internal demands for greater liberalization--until Tiananmen Square in 1989.

All this led Fukuyama to observe in The End of History that both "authoritarian states of the Right" and "totalitarian governments of the Left" had failed. With the democratization of many countries in the last part of the 20th century, he saw only capitalism and democracy as the triumphant forms of economic and political organization. It seemed that the whole of human history pointed in the direction of liberal democracy as the only regime consistent with "the nature of man as man."

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Assault in Alabama: Revisiting the attack on Nat King Cole. (Thomas Doherty, 22 Jul 2022, Quillette)

It was precisely that cross-racial attraction--and Cole's languid sexuality--that so enraged the guardians of Jim Crow in postwar Dixie. By 1956, the laws and customs that had been inviolate since the Reconstruction era were suddenly threatened by Brown v. Board of Education and the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Cole understood that when certain Southern white men "looked at me, they saw the Supreme Court and the NAACP."

The thugs who attacked Cole were members of the North Alabama White Citizens' Council, a kind of civilian auxiliary to the Ku Klux Klan--like the KKK but without the white sheets or burning crosses--what today would be called a domestic terrorist group. Its executive secretary was a charismatic race-baiter named Asa Carter. Though lunatic, Carter was not fringe. He would go on to become an advisor to and speechwriter for Alabama governor George Wallace, penning the immortal phrase Wallace bellowed at his inaugural address in 1963: "Segregation now ... segregation tomorrow ... segregation forever!"

In 1973, proving there are indeed second acts in American life, Carter left Alabama, assumed the alias of Forrest Carter, and remade himself as a successful novelist. He was the author of the source novel for Clint Eastwood's revenge western The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976) and the fake Indian memoir The Education of Little Tree, published in 1976, a staple of Native American studies courses until the true identity of the author was revealed in 1991. Carter's story is told in The Reconstruction of Asa Carter (2010), a fascinating documentary by Marco Ricci, Douglas Newman, and Laura Browder.

Carter was not part of the gang that assaulted Cole, but he was with them in spirit. He explained that he and his henchmen had attended the Cole concert as part of a study of the mongrel genres of "be-bop and rock and roll music." The attack, Carter shrugged, was really no big deal. "I feel this has all been played out of proportion," he told the Birmingham Post-Herald. "It's nothing more than a fellow got mad and took a swing at a Negro." The copyeditor doubtless cleaned up Carter's actual word choice.

Yet the North Alabama White Citizens' Council was not alone in opposing Cole's presence on the stage in Birmingham. The NAACP and the black press also believed the Jim Crow South was no place for a black entertainer. To comply with local segregation laws by mounting separate shows for black and white audiences or placing black and white audiences in different sections of the venue, with blacks typically relegated to the balcony, only normalized the racist protocols. Performers with biracial appeal faced a tough choice: forgo lucrative Southern gigs or bow before Jim Crow.

Cole decided that, on balance, going South was better than staying away.