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January 13, 2019

George Will on representative government v. plebiscitary democracy

George Will, in a January 11, 2019 WaPo column on the messy aftermath of the UK's 2016 Brexit vote:
The bedrock principle of representative government is that “the people” do not decide issues, they decide who shall decide. And once a legislature sloughs off responsibility and resorts to a referendum on the dubious premise that the simple way to find out what people want is to ask them, it is difficult to avoid recurring episodes of plebiscitary democracy.

July 16, 2018

Social justice mobs never apologize when they're wrong, and will destroy one of their own without a second thought

"Barrett Wilson" (a pseudonym, since the writer now fears his former online compatriots), writes at Quillette, July 14, 2018 (emphasis added):
In my previous life, I was a self-righteous social justice crusader. I would use my mid-sized Twitter and Facebook platforms to signal my wokeness on topics such as LGBT rights, rape culture, and racial injustice. Many of the opinions I held then are still opinions that I hold today. But I now realize that my social-media hyperactivity was, in reality, doing more harm than good.

Within the world created by the various apps I used, I got plenty of shares and retweets. But this masked how ineffective I had become outside, in the real world. The only causes I was actually contributing to were the causes of mobbing and public shaming. Real change does not stem from these tactics. They only cause division, alienation, and bitterness.

How did I become that person? It happened because it was exhilarating. Every time I would call someone racist or sexist, I would get a rush. That rush would then be reaffirmed and sustained by the stars, hearts, and thumbs-up that constitute the nickels and dimes of social media validation. The people giving me these stars, hearts, and thumbs-up were engaging in their own cynical game: A fear of being targeted by the mob induces us to signal publicly that we are part of it.

November 25, 2017

"McCarthyism masquerading as liberal open-mindedness" in Silicon Valley / San Francisco

During a Reddit AMA, author/investor Tim Ferriss gives one of several reasons why he's leaving the Bay Area. 
Silicon Valley also has an insidious infection that is spreading -- a peculiar form of McCarthyism (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McCarthyism) masquerading as liberal open-mindedness. I'm as socially liberal as you get, and I find it nauseating how many topics or dissenting opinions are simply out-of-bounds in Silicon Valley. These days, people with real jobs (unlike me) are risking their careers to even challenge collective delusions in SF. Isn't this supposed to be where people change the world by challenging the consensus reality? By seeing the hidden realities behind the facades? That's the whole reason I traveled west and started over in the Bay Area. Now, more and more, I feel like it's a Russian nesting doll of facades -- Washington DC with fewer neck ties, where people openly lie to one another out of fear of losing their jobs or being publicly crucified. It's weird, unsettling, and, frankly, really dangerous. There's way too much power here for politeness to be sustainable. If no one feels they can say "Hey, I know it makes everyone uncomfortable, but I think there's a leak in the fuel rods in this nuclear submarine..." we're headed for big trouble.
His destination, Austin, leans hard to the left itself, but apparently it's much less McCarthyite than SV/SF is.

Open-mindedness is seen as a virtue only when one's passionate views are held by a minority of those in positions of power and influence.  Once those views become dominant in some place (e.g. the Bay Area), open-mindedness goes out the window and dissenting opinions are suppressed.

November 21, 2017

The purpose of the 'Commerce Clause' in the US Constitution

In modern times, the US government has arrogated to itself the right to regulate all aspects of commerce that occur within our borders, from the largest mega-corporations all the way down to the most humble sole-proprietor businesses.  When the government bothers to justify its assumed powers at all, there is usually some reference to the "commerce clause" in the US Constitution.

The underlined text in the following image shows, in its entirety, the power the Constitution grants the US government regarding commerce:

"The Congress shall have Power...To regulate Commerce
  • with foreign Nations,
  • and among the several States,
  • and with the Indian Tribes"
The prepositions are important to the proper understanding of the central government's enumerated power.

Congress regulates commerce with other nations and with the Indian tribes, because the US government is granted the right to regulate commercial interactions that cross the national borders of our country. Since the US government is the sole agent in our country's official interactions with other countries, it makes sense that the government should have a say in any commerce that might affect our country's relations with other countries.

When it comes to commerce that remains within the borders of our country, however, the language of the text is different: Congress has power to regulate commerce among (or between) the states. Businesses within those states are engaging in commerce with one another. The states are legally considered to be peers with one another, so what happens when there are disputes between states relating to these commercial interactions?

Congress is assigned the role of binding arbitrator, ensuring that no state will take unfair advantage of another as goods and services cross its borders. Congress does not have the power to dictate the size and shape of the grommets that are manufactured in Colorado, or to force Grommets, Inc. to grant its employees paid leave for yoga retreats. Rather, Congress has the power to prevent Texas (where rival company Also Grommets, Inc. is located) from erecting protectionist regulatory barriers that make it difficult for Grommets, Inc. to get its goods to market.

That is the original purpose of the US government's interstate commerce regulatory power.  Anything else the government does in the arena of internal commerce is almost certainly a usurpation.

"[W]e have abundant reason to be convinced, that the spirit for Trade which pervades these States is not to be restrained; it behooves us then to establish just principles; and this, any more than other matters of national concern, cannot be done by thirteen heads differently constructed and organized. The necessity, therefore, of a controuling power is obvious; and why it should be withheld is beyond my comprehension."

– George Washington, letter to James Warren, Mount Vernon, October 7, 1785; Fitzpatrick 28:290

(Image and quote via the George Washington Facebook page)

May 13, 2017

Think carefully before demanding that the government take up your cause

Image Source
"The average American of today is intellectually so far removed from his forebears
that instead of regarding government with apprehension,
he is more likely to regard it as a virtual parent,
concerned only with protecting him and helping him."
- George Reisman

Human nature being what it is, no government in history has ever been able to live up to the expectations that the current generation of Americans has for our government, and no government is ever likely to.

The government cannot take up your cause without oppressing those who do not embrace that cause.  If you're okay with that, then you are the reason our forebears regarded government with apprehension.  Modern government is full of people like you -- fine with the idea of oppression, as long as the oppressors are your fellow ideological tribespeople.

March 29, 2017

Teach a man to fish...

Teach a man to fish, and he'll eat for life.
Give a man someone else's fish, and he'll vote for you.

February 13, 2017

#RESIST the left's unhinged rhetoric

"Donald Trump is such a terrifying fascist
dictator that literally no one fears speaking out
against him on literally any platform."

January 25, 2017

President Donald J. Trump, champion of the Constitution


Please cite the section of the Constitution which grants the federal government the power to "send in the Feds" to combat crime that is manifestly a local law enforcement issue.  If the local police can't get a handle on it, any escalation of the issue is the responsibility of the state of Illinois.

The federal government can't step in unless it turns into insurrection.

December 30, 2016

The time has come for a self-loathing white male superhero who laments the fact that he isn't a female minority

Clickhole brings us the following "news" from Marvel:
Image credit: Clickhole
It’s time to get excited, because Marvel Comics just announced a new superhero that advances diversity in comics in a major way. The series is called Luminary, and it tells the story of a mild-mannered Caucasian man named Percy Pendleton who gains incredible superhuman powers and constantly expresses his regret that he was blessed with those abilities instead of a Latina woman, who could be a role model for young Hispanic girls in addition to merely fighting crime.
[...] While working as a nuclear physicist at Stark Industries, Percy is caught in a particle-accelerator explosion. A surge of neutrinos floods his nervous system and transforms him into the incredible Luminary, a hero whose amazing powers of flight, super strength, and energy manipulation make him concerned that as a white man he does nothing to reflect the face of a changing America, which is increasingly Hispanic and female.
I was heretofore unfamiliar with Clickhole, so it took a few minutes of research to reassure myself that this was satire.  In these troubled times, I wouldn't put it past Marvel to infuse an established superhero with some white-privilege angst, but I doubt that they're ready to make such an idea the basis of a superhero.

You privileged white men are so judgmental!

Image via Meoso

December 29, 2016

Stacking the deck: "White Privilege" theory in a nutshell

In a world where everybody plays by the same rules and is judged by the same standards, racism would describe any action or attitude that shows favor for one race over another or displays overt contempt for members of a particular race.  Similarly, sexism would describe any action or attitude that shows favor for one sex over another or displays overt contempt for members of a particular sex1

The "Progressive" Left, however, is not interested in everybody playing by the same rules and being judged by the same standards.  Adherents  have produced out of whole cloth the notion of "White Privilege".  As you can see in the image below, here is how White Privilege theory answers the assertions that anybody can be racist or sexist:
Minorities2 cannot be racist and women3 cannot be sexist, because they "do not hold political, economic, and institutional power".
In essence, whites (especially white males) have a stranglehold on political, economic, and institutional power, and whites employ that power to oppress women and ethnic minorities -- even without consciously meaning to.  The oppressors enjoy all of the privileges of being in the oppressor class, and they jealously guard all of the privileges they enjoy.

So you see, if you're white -- especially a white male -- the deck has been stacked against you.  These terms have been subverted to exclude the possibility of any opposing viewpoint.  Suggestion: if you find yourself in a debate with a Progressive over one of these issues, let them know you refuse to engage them until they prove to your satisfaction that White Privilege is an actual thing.

Images via "The Safest Space" on Twitter

1 Progressives are pushing hard on the notion of gender fluidity4 nowadays, and that would seem to render the whole notion of sexism moot...wouldn't it?  Sexism seems to imply binary gender.

2 Many Progressives exclude Asians from the ethnic minority status (witness the active attempts to discriminate against them in California public universities), because for the most part they refuse to act like they're oppressed.

3 White women have the dubious honor of being both oppressor and oppressed, depending on the topic of the moment.

4 (Wow, a footnote on a footnote!) Many Progressives define the "oppressor" class as white heterosexual males to allow white sexual minorities to be counted as oppressed in some circumstances.