Friday, August 18, 2017

Cruising the Web

We can tell how fed up some of Trump's administration are with him by the way they're leaking about him. They've progressed from leaking to attack other people in the administration to talking to the media to make him look bad as we can see from this Politico article.
“In some ways, Trump would rather have people calling him racist than say he backed down the minute he was wrong,” one adviser to the White House said on Wednesday about Charlottesville. “This may turn into the biggest mess of his presidency because he is stubborn and doesn't realize how bad this is getting.”

For Trump, anger serves as a way to manage staff, express his displeasure or simply as an outlet that soothes him. Often, aides and advisers say, he’ll get mad at a specific staffer or broader situation, unload from the Oval Office and then three hours later act as if nothing ever occurred even if others still feel rattled by it. Negative television coverage and lawyers earn particular ire from him.

White House officials and informal advisers say the triggers for his temper are if he thinks someone is lying to him, if he’s caught by surprise, if someone criticizes him, or if someone stops him from trying to do something or seeks to control him.
Gee, what are the chances that a president will be caught by surprise, criticized, have people lie to him or try to get him to do something? If those are his triggers, he must be angry all the time. Politico uses these anonymous leaks to explain the Trump tweet on transgenders in the military.
In one stark example, the president’s dislike of being told what to do played a role in his decision to abruptly ban all transgender people from the military: a move opposed by his own defense secretary, James Mattis, and the head of the Coast Guard, who vowed not to honor the president’s decree.

The president had grown tired of White House lawyers telling him what he could and could not do on the ban and numerous other issues such as labor regulations, said one informal White House adviser. While multiple factors were in play with the transgender ban, Trump has grown increasingly frustrated by the lawyers’ calls for further study and caution, so he took it upon himself to tweet out the news of the ban, partly as a reminder to the lawyers who’s in charge, the adviser said.
Beyond what a crazy way that is for a president to make policy, it's also revealing that his people are still willing to leak stories to make him look bad. Despite all the warnings about hunting out leakers, they're still doing it.

Lots of presidents have had bad temper, but Trump often seems to be driven by his anger. And that fury leads him to make some of the more bone-headed steps of his presidency. The best thing these staffers can say is that his temper isn't provoked by major threats or incidents; it's more about when he perceives that he's been attacked or wronged personally. And given that he's being attacked just about every single day, he is finding a lot to be angry about.

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Guy Benson links to a tweetstorm that Jake Tapper posted noting that there was indeed violence that comes from the left. Tapper links to stories of journalists who were assaulted by Antifa thugs.
Benson notes that the
Antifa defends themselves by saying that the journalist shouldn't have been documenting what they were doing so they attacked him.
A journalist doing his job by filming rioters is a "threat to safety," you see -- not the rioters. And for failing to get their "consent" for doing his job, he's sort of like a rapist. These people aren't just violent liars; they're insane violent liars.
Hmmm, it sounds like blaming the victim, doesn't it?

Peter Hasson does what a lot of journalists haven't done - go read what the Antifa and other far-left say in their own words. And it's pretty horrifying stuff.
A common mantra among far-left groups beginning shortly before the inauguration: make America “ungovernable.”

“We need to make this country ungovernable,” declared a female leader for Refuse Fascism shortly after the inauguration. “We need to do what the German people should have done when Hitler was elected.”

Refuse Fascism was a driving force behind the violent, politically motivated riots in Berkeley....

Another far-left group at Charlottesville last weekend: the Workers World Party, a group of Marxist-Leninist revolutionaries who have declared their support for Kim Jong Un’s murderous dictatorship in North Korea. Workers World’s publication has consistently published propaganda-like screeds supporting Venezuela’s murderous regime.

The communist group “sent many of its members to Charlottesville, Va., to beat back the Nazis and Klan who marched there,” according to a post recapping the group’s participation in the weekend’s violence.

The group took credit for organizing the vandals who toppled a city-owned Confederate statue in Durham, North Carolina this week.

Workers’ World’s stated goals are classic Marxism, including igniting an international socialist revolution and “the shutdown of the Pentagon and the use of the war budget” — that is, the funding for the Department of Defense — “to improve the lives of the working class and especially the oppressed peoples.” (links in the original)
Just as it it disturbing that there are people out there who embrace Nazi slogans and paraphernalia, it is also unbelievable that there are such fervent socialists out there that they support Kim Jon Un.

Katherine Timpf has some questions for the nation's socialists whose numbers have grown since Bernie Sanders ran for president. The progressive wing of the Democratic Party (which is most of the party these days) should also provide an answer.
But another part is the way that progressives routinely portray their economic platform as being morally superior. The holier-than-thou branding is everywhere; just think about how often progressives accuse economic conservatives of wanting to kill sick people, just because they believe that the free market can solve problems. The ultra-liberal are the “generous” ones, the ones who want to “give” you things like health care. The conservatives are the mean, old ogres who want to take those things away.

The popularity of the Democratic Socialists seems to suggest that these kinds of tactics are working, and I have just one question: Just how in the hell do so many people seem to believe that it’s “generous” to spend other people’s money?

Let me clear this up for the people who don’t seem to understand: Progressive politicians are not people who are going to “give” you health care, because in order to “give” something, then it has to be yours to give away in the first place. Think about it: If your boyfriend were to surprise you with dinner and a present, then you’d probably be quite happy and thank him for giving you those things. But if you found out that your boyfriend had actually paid for those things using your credit card? Well, then you’d probably think much less of it, and maybe you’d remind him that the only way that that could count as “giving” would be if he were nine and you were his mother. People who advocate for progressive politicians are not advocating gratitude; they’re advocating for big government, plain and simple.

Believing in the ability of big government to solve problems doesn’t make you any better than the people who believe in shrinking government to solve them; it just means that you have a different view of economics. And the politicians who promise to “give” you health care, welfare, and other benefits in exchange for votes aren’t really promising to “give” those things at all; they’re promising to take resources from others in order to fulfill their promises, without ever having to feel the pinch themselves.
Shorter version: There is still no such thing as a free lunch.

Sarah Hoyt is not impressed with the numbers of the white supremacists who showed up in Virginia. One report in the Washington Post gives the number on Friday night at 250. I'm not sure how many were there on Saturday, but Hoyt gives the number at 400. Even if the number is larger, it's still not a very large number.
[I]f there were four hundred neo-Nazis (and that’s assuming some of them weren’t just stupid) there, which there probably weren’t, that’s one in every seven hundred and fifty thousand people in America.

To put this in perspective, the number of people in the U.S. who believe in Big Foot, the number of people who believe in UFOs, the number of flat-earthers, the number of people who believe Star Trek is “all true” and probably the number of people who believe that you, yes, you, Mr. Smith from Main Street in Centerville USA are a dinosaur in disguise -- all these numbers are far more than four hundred.

In fact, you can’t name a belief stupid enough that it doesn’t have at least four hundred adherents somewhere in the USA. And this doesn’t mean that we’re particularly crazy or stupid, no. It just means that in a nation of three hundred million, you’re going to find a lot of crazy, off beat, and strange people.
Yes, it's disturbing that there are any people in the United States who would rally to racist and anti-Semitic slogans to march under Nazi flags. But that's still not a sign of a great wave of racism and Nazi sympathies sweeping the nation. There were over 900 people who were willing to travel to Guyana to follow Jim Jones and followed his directions to commit suicide after having killed a congressman and those with him. The country contains some very wacky and, unfortunately, violent people. But they are the fringe.

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And those white nationalists are finding some unfortunate news for themselves as they take genetic tests to prove their own racial purity. The results are sometimes not quite what they hoped for.
With the rise of spit-in-a-cup genetic testing, there’s a trend of white nationalists using these services to prove their racial identity, and then using online forums to discuss the results.

But like Cobb, many are disappointed to find out that their ancestry is not as “white” as they’d hoped. In a new study, sociologists Aaron Panofsky and Joan Donovan examined years’ worth of posts on Stormfront to see how members dealt with the news.

It’s striking, they say, that white nationalists would post these results online at all. After all, as Panofsky put it, “they will basically say if you want to be a member of Stormfront you have to be 100% white European, not Jewish.”

But instead of rejecting members who get contrary results, Donovan said, the conversations are “overwhelmingly” focused on helping the person to rethink the validity of the genetic test. And some of those critiques — while emerging from deep-seated racism — are close to scientists’ own qualms about commercial genetic ancestry testing.

Panofsky and Donovan presented their findings at a sociology conference in Montreal on Monday. The timing of the talk — some 48 hours after the violent white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va. — was coincidental. But the analysis provides a useful, if frightening, window into how these extremist groups think about their genes.
Of course, instead of questioning their odious views, they attack the tests.

Ross Douthat also thinks that people need to calm down and step back to apocalyptic predictions that we're headed for some new civil war If they're not predicting an 1861-style civil war, perhaps, several commentators think we're heading to a period similar to the 1960s and 1970s.
But we are still not close to even that level of breakdown, nowhere close to the social chaos and revolutionary fervor that gave us 2,500 bombings in 18 months during Richard Nixon’s first term. The chaos during Trump’s ascent and presidency has been extreme by the standards of recent politics but not by the standards of America’s worst periods of crisis.
People just seem to want to think that anything they're living through is either the worst of times or the best of times. But let's have some historical perspective. Douthat can explain the "civil-war anxieties" roiling the commentariat. Beyond how the media and Trump exacerbate tensions and social media kick everything up several notches, we have to remember how divided we are these days.
Our divisions are partisan: The parties are more ideologically polarized than at any point in the 20th century, and party loyalty increasingly shapes not just votes but social identity, friendship, where you live and whom you hope your children dominant in

Our divisions are religious: The decline of institutional Christianity means that we have no religious center apart from Oprah and Joel Osteen, the metaphysical gap between the secularist wing of liberalism and religious traditionalists is far wider than the intra-Christian divisions of the past, and on the fringes you can see hints of a fully post-Christian and post-liberal right and left.

Our divisions are racial and ethnic and class-based and generational, conspicuously so in the Trump era. And they are geographic: The metropolis versus the hinterland, the coasts against the middle of the country. It would not be hard to sketch lines on a map partitioning the U.S.A. into two or three or four more homogeneous and perhaps more functional republics. And if you imagined some catastrophe suddenly dissolving our political order and requiring us to start anew, it is not at all clear that we would be able to forge a reunited republic, a second continental nation.
He points out that, while conservative might be dominant today in the federal government and in many states, liberalism rules elsewhere.
Meanwhile liberalism dominates the cultural commanding heights as never before, with not only academia and the media but also late-night television and sportswriting and even young-adult fiction more monolithically and — to conservatives — oppressively progressive.
The result is that people on both sides are feeling threatened and angry. But Douthat does have some optimism.
Thus described, it may sound remarkable that we haven’t plunged into domestic chaos and civil strife already. But not every American is a partisan, there is still more to life than politics for most of us, and under the right circumstances people with deep differences can live together in peace for a great while — so long as events do not force a crisis, so long as the great political or social questions don’t feel so existential and zero-sum that they cannot be managed or endured.

Slavery was such an existential issue — but its closest analogue today, abortion, does not lie so close to the center of our politics. Race, immigration and religious liberty are all volatile, but the specific controversies are more incremental than existential: Voter-ID laws are not Jim Crow, and toppling Confederate statues isn’t Reconstruction; refugee restrictions aren’t internment camps; fights over the rights of Christian businesses and colleges are not a persecution.

An economic crisis can spur a crackup. But our wealth and the welfare state both cushion us substantially, as we saw after the Great Recession....

Things are getting worse in many ways, and the rest of the Trump era does not promise much in the way of healing and reconciliation. But despite what scripture tells us, in politics a house divided against itself can sometimes stand for quite a while — so long as most people prefer its roof to the rain and wind, and relatively few have a clear and pressing incentive to start knocking down the walls.
I find myself finding comfort in Adam Smith's observation after the British lost the battle of Saratoga that "There is a great deal of ruin in a nation."

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Cruising the Web

Kevin Williamson asks what the "white boys" protesting in Charlottesville are so angry about.
What do these angry white boys in Virginia want?

There is some value in taking them at their word, or the 14 of them that make up the basic creed of the white-nationalist movement: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.” Well, all right. I suppose there are a few campus radicals who oppose the existence of white people, though so far as I can tell this is mainly rhetoric rather than a plan of action. The angry white boys talk about “white genocide,” a concept that is as conveniently vague and amorphous as “white privilege,” of which “white genocide” of course is only the rhetorical obverse. If they are outlandish in generality, they are muddy in specificity. They complain that white men are blamed for all of society’s troubles, that racial and ethnic pride is permitted to everyone except whites (no one has informed the Irish Americans of this), and that they are being “displaced” by immigrants....

What does an angry white boy want? The fact that they get together to play dress-up — to engage in a large and sometimes murderous game of cowboys and Indians — may give us our answer. They want to be someone other than who they are. That’s the great irony of identity politics: They seek identity in the tribe because they are failed individuals. They are a chain composed exclusively of weak links. What they are engaged in isn’t politics, but theater: play-acting in the hopes of achieving catharsis. Their online personas — knights, Vikings, reincarnations of Charles Martel — will be familiar enough to anybody with a Dungeons and Dragons nerd in his life. But sometimes, role-playing around a card table isn’t enough: Sometimes, you need a stage and an audience. In the theater, actors and audience both can forget ourselves for an hour or two. Under the soft glow of the tiki torches, these angry white boys can be something else — for a night.

Daniel Henninger is also pondering the pointlessness
of where are politics is going in the wake of Charlottesville.
Charlottesville was a warning. The warning is that America’s politics is steadily disconnecting from reality. Our politics is starting to seem psychotic.

Generally people get into politics to accomplish something concrete or achievable—the passage of a piece of legislation or of identifiable public policies whose purpose is to make things better. In a word, progress.

The right and the left have disagreed for centuries on what works, but they at least shared a belief that the point of their political activity was to accomplish something real.

Charlottesville was a political riot. Is Charlottesville the future?

Some may say the Charlottesville riot was the lunatic fringe of the right and left, with no particular relevance to what falls in between. But I think Charlottesville may be a prototype of a politics that is drifting away from traditional norms of behavior and purpose.

Street protest has become the politics du jour. Groups form constantly in the streets to chant slogans. America’s campuses live amid perpetual protest.

The protests no doubt are based in belief or sentiment of some sort, but it is more often than not difficult to recognize any political goal normally associated with conservatism, liberalism or progressivism. Much of it looks like acting out or pleas for attention.
He then makes a good point about what young people might gather about politics today.
A young person new to politics and paying attention to what the Republicans did with ObamaCare reform, or to the Democrats’ content-free “resistance,” could reasonably conclude Congress is no longer about politics, but about something else. TV face-time or maybe Twitter , but not politics.

Traditional politics is being overtaken by a cult of self-referencing. From the nonstop street protests to what is going on in Washington—everything now is just a selfie.

Amid this torrent, an odd paradox emerges: People are consuming more content and detail about politics than ever, and more people than ever are saying, “I have no idea what is going on.” Someone is at fault here, and it is not the confused absorbers of information.

Charlottesville is being pounded into the national psyche this week as a paroxysm of white nationalism. On current course, the flight from politics is going to look like rational behavior.

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All this has led to a big debate about statues commemorating Confederate leaders. To tell the truth, I hold no brief for Confederates. These are men who fought to divide the United States and so, in my mind, were guilty of treason and they don't deserve honoring. Don't tell me that they were fighting for their heritage. If you examine what the states said at the time they seceded, their quarrel with the federal government was all about slavery. Many of the men who were military and political leaders were themselves slaveowners. So I have always been struck at how much of the South still honors the Confederacy. On the other hand, I'm a history teacher and I dislike the idea of trying to remove uncomfortable history. I prefer the proposals to either move the statues to Confederate cemeteries or museums. Or to add some context around the statues.

I remember when there was a lot of controversy about adding context about what the war was about to Civil War historic sites. Critics tried to differentiate between a military site and the history of the war. I didn't see why it had to be one or the other. Go visit the renovated visitors' center at Gettysburg. I think they did a superb job. They present a history of what led up to the war in interactive displays using primary documents such as the secession ordinances and newspapers. They also have a detailed military history of the war up to that point and the three days of fighting there at Gettysburg as well as information looking at the following events during the war and in the South after wards. One could spend hours there before even venturing out to the actual battlefield.

Some of the debate over taking down Confederate statues revolves around the fact that there is no limiting principle. As Trump said, who will they go after next: George Washington or Thomas Jefferson? Kyle Smith expresses this argument. He's willing to take down Confederate monuments or the statue to Roger Taney, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court who authored the Dred Scott decision. He points out that many of these statues were put up, not after the War, but during the civil-rights era. But that won't be the end of it.
But it is a characteristic of leftists that they are always pushing the culture wars into new territory, even territory that the Left itself would have called absurd overreach a few years previously. On Monday, the mayor of Baltimore agreed to take down its Civil War statues...

Let’s consider what that might mean to the Left. At Pepperdine University, a Christopher Columbus statue was taken down after a protest. There are statues of Columbus all over the country, including one in Central Park. If an angry mob surrounds that one and starts pulling it down, how will police react? A statue of Teddy Roosevelt at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City drew an angry crowd demanding its removal (and for Columbus Day to be renamed) last October. If TR doesn’t belong on the Upper West Side, how does he belong on Mount Rushmore?

Up in Boston, a writer hints that the city should remove local statues of historian Samuel Eliot Morison (who “used language in his writings on slavery that chafed readers”), Henry Cabot Lodge (“a staunch believer in American imperialism”), and even, I kid you not, Abraham Lincoln. (Thomas Ball, who sculpted the latter, wouldn’t let a black man into the house to pose for the statue, which depicts a freed slave kneeling at the president’s feet.) This argument isn’t on the fringe: It was contained in a column written by Pulitzer-shortlisted critic Ty Burr and published in one of the most prestigious newspapers in the country, the Boston Globe. My longtime colleague at the New York Post, film critic Lou Lumenick, carried the logic of Confederate-flag removal through to Confederate-film removal and called for Gone with the Wind to be placed in a museum.

Listen to the way the Left talks about the statues: “The truth is that the desperation to preserve this particular ‘heritage’ and ‘past’ is a facade for something more malignant,” wrote Christine Emba in the Washington Post. “It’s privileged status, not history, that’s being protected.” If this is a war on symbols of “privileged status,” it can never end.

Once every Confederate monument in the country is down, what then? How is a statue of an ordinary rebel soldier in Durham, N.C., more offensive than a gorgeous building-sized tribute to slave-owning racist Thomas Jefferson on the Tidal Basin? We are reaching the point where, if the Washington Monument were to be blown up tomorrow, it would be anyone’s guess whether jihadists or the “anti-fascist” Left did it.
And indeed, we're already hearing a Chicago pastor calling for pulling down a statue of George Washington.
Even if taking down the statues is a good idea, this isn’t the moment to do it. Emotions are running hot. When a mob is in a frenzy, maintain order until tempers cool. Don’t give it space to destroy. Rich [Lowry] believes that the statues need to go because they are becoming “rallying points for neo-Nazis,” but I can’t believe that the white supremacists, small and feeble as their movement is, would disappear if all of the old Confederate statues were taken down. If anything, that would give them a fillip of energy, a recruitment tool. The best response to white supremacists is to let them march and let them speak — then ridicule and marginalize them. This isn’t hard: They’re already ridiculous and marginal. Civil War statues may be beloved by white supremacists, but they are a kind of speech, and the antidote to bad speech is more speech. Don’t care for a statue of Robert E. Lee? Fine. I don’t either. Let’s recontextualize it. Let’s put up a statue of Harriet Tubman next to it. History is an ongoing discussion.
Ilya Somin, however, writes at the Volokh Conspiracy, that we shouldn't let slippery slope arguments determine our approach to such statues.
The argument fails because there are obviously relevant distinctions that can be made between Washington and Jefferson on the one hand and Confederate leaders on the other.

One crucial distinction it misses is that few if any monuments to Washington, Jefferson and other slaveowning Founders were erected for the specific purpose of honoring their slaveholding. By contrast, the vast majority of monuments to Confederate leaders were erected to honor their service to the Confederacy, whose main reason for existing was to protect and extend slavery....

Some try to justify continuing to honor Confederates because we honor many other historical figures who committed various moral wrongs. For example, many of the Founding Fathers also owned slaves, just like many leading Confederates did. But the Founders deserve commemoration because their complicity in slavery was outweighed by other, more positive achievements, such as establishing the Constitution. By contrast, leading a war in defense of slavery was by far the most important historical legacy of Davis, Robert E. Lee, and other Confederate leaders. If not for secession and Civil War, few would remember them today....

By Trump’s logic, taking down German monuments to Hitler and Goebbels might lead to the removal of monuments to Immanuel Kant, who expressed racist sentiments in some of his writings. Getting rid of monuments to Lenin and Stalin might lead people to take down monuments to Picasso, who was also a communist. Where will it all stop?
I agree with his argument distinguishing between monuments to the Founders who were also slaveholders and those who fought to secede from the Union because they feared that the election of Abraham Lincoln might lead to limitations on slavery. But I fear that there are many who are advocating tearing down the statues who have bit in their teeth and they won't stop based on rather subtle distinctions. In their minds, nothing the Founders did balances their owning slaves and thus they must all come down. And they won't stop there as they pore over books to find the slightest racist, sexist, or imperialist statement from anyone in the past. With such people, the slope is indeed quite slippery.

I like Condoleezza Rice's answer.
Asked about the value of preserving statues that honor slaveowners in a May interview on Fox News, Condoleezza Rice argued against what she called the "sanitizing" of history. "I am a firm believer in 'keep your history before you' and so I don't actually want to rename things that were named for slave owners," she said. "I want us to have to look at those names and recognize what they did and to be able to tell our kids what they did, and for them to have a sense of their own history."

"When you start wiping out your history, sanitizing your history to make you feel better, it's a bad thing," the former secretary of state added.

Rice's defense in favor of preservation is rooted in an argument that is the basic opposite of the reason white nationalists are rallying for Lee. They believe it to be a persistent reminder of a positive history. Rice, on the other hand, believes preserving monuments to the darker moments of our past ensures future generations are acquainted with history and charge forward rather than backward, away from the mistakes of their ancestors, rather than into their fading bronze arms....

In an interview later that month, Rice addressed Confederate monuments again by remarking, "It's not actually our heritage, it's our history," adding, "We as a people have thankfully moved on."
When in doubt, I like the idea of more history, rather than less history.

And how about pulling down this statue in Seattle if we're going after historic figures who oppressed and murdered others?
Standing in the middle of it all is a statue that has always done its job of attracting second looks. And now, in the wake of the tragedy in Charlottesville, Va., and a statue’s place in clashes that occurred there last weekend, a well-known Silicon Valley venture capitalist is drawing new attention to Seattle’s often controversial sculpture, suggesting that it should be removed.

The 16-foot tall bronze sculpture of Russian Communist revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin has stood in Fremont since 1995. According to the Fremont website, it was acquired by an American veteran named Lewis Carpenter who was teaching in Poprad, Slovakia.

The statue was toppled during the 1989 revolution in the former Czechoslovakia that overthrew the Communist Party. Carpenter found it in a scrap yard and worked to get it back to the Seattle area because he was impressed by the skill and craftsmanship of the portrayal.
If he liked it for its art, put it in an art museum.
Venture capitalist Benedict Evans is among those making some noise online, calling for the removal of Seattle’s Lenin, saying it’s a good one to add to the list if you want to pull down statues of “profoundly evil people.”
Evans pointed out that "there are no statues of Hitler. There should be none of Lenin."

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John Stossel has a hilarious response to women working at Google who were so upset over James Damore's memo suggesting that there might be reasons other than sexism why there aren't many female computer programmers working there.
Why aren't there more women criminals?! Men in jail outnumber women by a ratio of 14-to-1. We male stutterers outnumber women, too.

This isn't fair! We need more affirmative action! These disparities must be caused by sex discrimination because everyone knows there are no real differences between genders.

After all, Google fired engineer James Damore for daring to suggest that there is a biological reason men dominate tech leadership.
As he goes on to list differences between females and males, he asserts one fact that struck me.
Even male baby monkeys like playing with trucks more than female monkeys do.
I had never heard that before. A second's research found that it is indeed true according to a study done by researchers led by Janice Hassett of the Yerkes National Primate Center at Emory University .
In their study, the researchers compared how 34 rhesus monkeys living in a single troop interacted with human toys categorized as either masculine or feminine. The “masculine” set consisted of wheeled toys preferred by human boys (e.g., a wagon, a truck, a car, and a construction vehicle); the “feminine” set was comprised of plush toys comparable to stuffed animals and dolls (e.g., a Raggedy-Ann™ doll, a koala bear hand puppet, an armadillo, a teddy bear, and a turtle). Individual monkeys were released into an outdoor area containing one wheeled toy and one plush toy, with the researchers taping all interactions using separate cameras for each toy, identifying all specific behaviors, and statistically analyzing the results.

The results closely paralleled those found in human children. As with human boys, male rhesus monkeys clearly preferred wheeled toys over plush toys, interacting significantly more frequently and for long durations with the wheeled toys. Also mirroring human behavior, female rhesus monkeys were less specialized, playing with both plush and wheeled toys and not exhibiting significant preferences for one type over the other.
I doubt that the monkeys were influenced by sexist monkey culture.

This experiment reminded me of a moment with my two daughters when they were young. I had bought a bag of trucks at a yard sale and gave them to the girls to play with. When my husband went to check on them and asked them how it was going with the trucks, my youngest (then two years old) responded happily that they were having fun and "THe daddy and mommy trucks were taking the baby truck to the park." There went my attempt to give them toys that weren't geared to girls.

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Jason Riley writes that Donald Trump is following the Obama model of "moral equivalence."
initial reaction also evinced an Obama-like reluctance to denounce despicable behavior forcefully and in no uncertain terms.

When five policemen were gunned down in Dallas last year, Mr. Obama said there was no justification for violence against law enforcement—but then he added a comment about racial inequity in the criminal-justice system. After violent demonstrators pillaged Baltimore in 2015 following the death of a black man in police custody, Mr. Obama dutifully condemned the rioters—but not without also noting that “we have seen too many instances of what appears to be police officers interacting with individuals, primarily African-American, often poor, in ways that raise troubling questions.”

What we heard from Mr. Trump on Saturday, when he said “many sides” were to blame for what took place in Charlottesville, was more of the same equivocation. Both presidents were less interested in moral clarity than in placating fringe groups out of political expediency. The difference is that Mr. Obama’s caucus mostly indulged his racial innuendo, while Mr. Trump’s called him on it.
Riley points out that getting rid of Steve Bannon doesn't necessarily mean that Trump would sound less sympathetic to the alt-right.
Calls are now multiplying for Mr. Trump to rid his White House of chief strategist Steve Bannon and other alt-right sympathizers, and you’d get no objections to doing so from this columnist. But who’s to say for certain that Mr. Bannon’s presence is the root problem? When Mr. Trump took his time last year disavowing David Duke after the former Klan leader endorsed him for president, Mr. Bannon had yet to join the campaign. Perhaps Mr. Trump’s problem is not his staff.
Sadly, race relations deteriorated even while an African American man was in the Oval OFfice.
Race relations declined sharply under Mr. Obama, according to polling in the final months of 2016; by the time Mr. Trump entered office, they were already at their tensest since the 1992 riots in Los Angeles. The videos captured, and spread widely through social media, of police encounters with black suspects no doubt contributed to the problem. The data show a steep decline in police shootings in recent decades. But anecdotal evidence, no matter how unrepresentative of reality, packs a more powerful punch than the recitation of dry statistics.

Mr. Obama’s attempts to advance black interests through heightened group identity and us-against-them rhetoric didn’t help. He embraced openly antiwhite groups like Black Lives Matter and racially polarizing figures like Al Sharpton. The subsequent rise of the alt-right may be history repeating itself. The Black Power movement of the 1960s was followed by an increase in the number of skinheads and other white-identity groups in the 1970s and ’80s, including among more-educated whites who had previously kept their distance. Similarly, Richard Spencer, who was in Charlottesville on Saturday and is one the country’s more prominent white nationalists, is the son of a physician. He earned degrees from the University of Virginia and the University of Chicago before dropping out of a doctoral program at Duke.
But pointing to Obama's moral equivalence and stoking of black identity politics doesn't let Trump off the hook.
It would be unfair to blame Mr. Trump for racial divisions, but it is fair to say he has successfully exploited them and taken little interest in trying to narrow them. The evidence suggests Mr. Trump won the election primarily by flipping former supporters of Mr. Obama. Maybe the president is convinced, like many of his liberal opponents, that the alt-right carried him to victory. His behavior so far certainly suggests at much.

Where does this leave people who reject the politicization of race? In a bad way that could get worse before it gets better. The white supremacists who organized last weekend’s events are reportedly planning several more. The media no doubt will cover these rallies like never before, giving demonstrators, with their Hitler salutes and Tiki torches, all the attention they crave.
I fear we're fated for the rinse and repeat cycle of this depressing story.

Things are so bad in Venezuela that a few of its soldiers had to go to Guyana to beg for food.
A handful of Venezuelan soldiers — armed and in uniform — were caught in neighboring Guyana last week begging for food, local police reported, another sign of Venezuela’s deepening hunger crisis.
If the soldiers are starving, how long can Maduro retain control of the military?

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Cruising the Web

Senator Rubio had a good thread on what the proper response should have been to the attacks in Charlottesville. And if this president were educable on anything beyond his own ego, this comment should resonate with him. But it won't.

Ask yourself just who was heartened by the President's press conference yesterday and the answer won't be those people in this country who are looking for a lessening of racial tensions. As David French writes, his press conference was an alt-right's dream.
Let’s be very clear about what just happened at Donald Trump’s press conference. He gave the alt-right its greatest national media moment ever. He even called some of them “very fine people.” Don’t believe me? Watch this key statement:...

To understand the significance of Trump’s words, you have to understand a bit about the alt-right. While its members certainly march with Nazis and make common cause with neo-Confederates, it views itself as something different. They’re the “intellectual” adherents to white identity politics. They believe their movement is substantially different and more serious than the Klansmen of days past. When Trump carves them away from the Nazis and distinguishes them from the neo-Confederates, he’s doing exactly what they want. He’s making them respectable. He’s making them different.

But “very fine people” don’t march with tiki torches chanting “blood and soil” or “Jews will not replace us.” The Charlottesville rally was a specific “unite the right” rally that sought to bind the alt-right together with all these other groups. The alt-right wants it both ways. They want the strength in numbers of the larger fascist right while also enjoying the credibility granted them by Breitbart, Steve Bannon, Milo, and — today — the president of the United States.

The most pernicious forms of evil always mix truth and lies. So, yes, there were kernels of truth in some of Trump’s statements. No question there were hateful, violent leftists in Charlottesville this weekend. And on the question of monuments, Trump is right to point out the lack of a limiting principle. We already know that some on the Left have their eyes set on demolishing or removing monuments and memorials that have nothing to do with the Confederacy, but all that pales in importance compared to his stubborn and angry attempts not just at moral equivalence (after all, no one on the Left committed murder this weekend) but at actually whitewashing evil.

What makes this all the more puzzling is that it is so easy to say the right thing here. Do not call anyone at a racist rally a ”very fine” person. It’s not hard to name and condemn an act of alt-right terrorism. It’s not hard to name and condemn the alt-right without equivocation. And it’s not hard to also condemn political violence on all sides. If you think Trump did those things, and sent the right message to the racists, think again. Alt-right Twitter overflowed with gratitude. Richard Spencer declared that Trump “cares about the truth,” and others complimented him for his “uncucking.”
It should be a sign to the President that he received a congratulatory tweet from David Duke. But Trump adores being admired so maybe he doesn't mind that the praise came from an anti-Semitic racist as long as it's praise.

While Trum pis right to blast the violence on those who marched on the left and to call out the media for not talking about those who came armed with cudgels to countermarch against the white nationalists, it was still the white supremacists and neo-Nazis who were marching in the first place. But there is no excuse for talking about the supposedly decent and "very fine people" on both sides. And he didn't need to wait for the facts. As Ben Shapiro points out, when the White House was arguing that Trump's Saturday statement was supposed to be a condemnation of those groups.
Second, Trump knew all the facts. Everybody knew the facts, which is why Trump’s written statement on Saturday reportedly included a condemnation of neo-Nazis and white supremacists. No, Trump isn’t a considered fellow just waiting for all the evidence to arise. He delayed because he wanted to delay.

Then the doozy: Trump defended the alt-right.
Trump said that he watched the march on Friday and thought the rally was people "Protesting very quietly, the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee." He told us that he watched the video from the march more carefully than the journalists did. Apparently, he missed those marchers on Friday chanting "Jews will not replace us."

On Monday, the President made measured comments on the events in Charlottesville and directly spoke against the racism of the groups gathered there. It was a good statement, but a couple of days late if it were going to have any positive effect on the feelings of the country that watched that march. Trump read that statement off a teleprompter. Then, when a lot of the commentary was that the statement was too late, Trump went on Twitter to blast his critics. And he gave an impromptu press conference yesterday in which he stated that he needed more facts before he could speak on Saturday. Really? He needed more facts than the sight of people marching with Confederate and Nazi flags shouting racist and anti-Semitic slogans?

He talked about the good people who were mixed in with the despicable people in the white supremacist march. You know, if you're a good person, you don't march alongside those waving swastikas. That isn't a hard decision to make. But it is for Trump.

WHich statement - the one from the teleprompter or the one in his press conference do you think represents what Trump really thinks?

As always with this guy, his own words and actions bring create the problems that he faces. It has been ever thus since he entered the campaign. You can blame the media and the left, but at the heart of the problem is what Trump says himself.

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Emma Green writes
in The Atlantic about the anti-Semitism of those marchers. They're not just white supremacists; they're all-purpose haters. Blacks, Jews, Muslims, immigrants...they despise them all.
The demonstration was suffused with anti-black racism, but also with anti-Semitism. Marchers displayed swastikas on banners and shouted slogans like “blood and soil,” a phrase drawn from Nazi ideology. “This city is run by Jewish communists and criminal niggers,” one demonstrator told Vice News’ Elspeth Reeve during their march. As Jews prayed at a local synagogue, Congregation Beth Israel, men dressed in fatigues carrying semi-automatic rifles stood across the street, according to the temple’s president. Nazi websites posted a call to burn their building. As a precautionary measure, congregants had removed their Torah scrolls and exited through the back of the building when they were done praying....

In the world sketched by white supremacists, Jews hover malevolently in the background, pulling strings, controlling events, acting as an all-powerful force backing and enabling the other targets of their hate. That’s clear in statements made by people like Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan leader who proudly marched with other white supremacists in Charlottesville. Jewish Zionists, he complained to a gathered crowd, control the media and American political system.
It really is horrifying to see these strains of hate groups that we thought had all dwindled down to a few kooks be able to gather a large crowd of people being willing to be videotaped on camera spewing such ugliness.

Ben Shapiro argues that the alt-right and Antifa are serving to expand each other. They exacerbate tensions which leads to more people joining each side. It's a horrifying cycle.
Now they’re growing. And they’re largely growing in opposition to one another. In fact, the growth of each side reinforces the growth of the other: The mainstream Left, convinced that the enemies of social-justice warriors are all alt-right Nazis, winks and nods at left-wing violence; the right, convinced that its SJW enemies are focused on racial polarization, embraces the alt-right as a form of resistance. Antifa becomes merely a radical adjunct to traditional Democratic-party politics; the alt-right becomes merely a useful tool for scurrilous Republican politicians and media figures.
Shapiro goes on to explain what he thinks is causing this: increasing political politicization, media malfeasance, and political convenience.
Finally, there’s political convenience.

Obama’s repeated references to American racism weren’t his only sin. He repeatedly shunned opportunities to tamp down leftist racial radicalism. He made excuses for riots in Ferguson and Baltimore. He used the shooting of Dallas police officers by a radical black activist as an opportunity to lecture Americans about the evils of racist policing. He knew that his political support came in large measure from SJWs, and he cultivated them.

Meanwhile, on the right, Trump did the same. During the campaign, he ignored opportunity after opportunity to break with the alt-right. He refused to condemn the KKK on national television; he refused to condemn his supporters’ sending anti-Semitic messages to journalists; he hired as his campaign strategist Steve Bannon, a man who openly celebrated turning Breitbart into a “platform for the alt-right.” Trump saw the alt-right as convenient allies, his meme-making “deplorable” friends on the Internet. They reveled in both his unwillingness to condemn them and his willingness to share their work.

And so here we are. The mainstream Left has been increasingly suckered into walking hand-in-hand with the SJWs while ignoring the most egregious activities of Antifa; the mainstream Right has been increasingly seduced into footsie with alt-right associates while feigning ignorance at the alt-right itself.

That’s why Charlottesville matters: not only because we saw destruction and terror, but because if all Americans of good conscience won’t do some soul-searching and move to excise the evil in their midst, that evil will metastasize. There is a cancer in the body politic. We must cut it out, or be destroyed.

It should be okay to discuss leftist violence without being tagged as an apologist for neo-Nazis. There were leftist protesters who came primed for violence in Charlottesville and elsewhere.
Namely, that real protestors don’t carry baseball bats, crowbars and mace. Yet Saturday’s bloody clash in Charlottesville showed that many on both sides came ready to rumble.

While attention understandably is focused on the white racist who allegedly killed Heather Heyer with his car, blood was flowing freely before that tragedy. The mutual mayhem was so ferocious that cops withdrew, with one telling Fox News it was “too dangerous” to intervene.

In many videos, not a single cop is visible as dozens of combatants batter each other. One man is seen holding a device that is shooting a flame several feet long.

Similar scenarios have played out across the country in recent months, and many, including on college campuses, follow a pattern. Angry protests, usually against conservative speakers, turn violent, with windows smashed and fires set — and police do little more than watch.

The lax response reflects the contagion of what Heather MacDonald called the “Ferguson effect” after the riots in Ferguson, Mo. three years ago this month.

Recall that the St. Louis suburb was the scene of rampant violence, complete with arson and looting, after the police shooting of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old African-American.

Police were held back as commercial areas burned, and with violence erupting over a period of months, the National Guard was called in — and also initially held back.
But that doesn't excuse the white supremacists and mean that they shouldn't be called out and condemned by name. Guy Benson talks about the problems that both the Right and Left have with "whataboutism."
As I've written, 'whataboutism' definitely can be a problem on the Right, as partisans justify or defend controversial actions from Trump, for example, by raising tendentious "but what about...?" points to deflect from the substance of the criticism at hand. An endless merry-go-round of, 'oh yeah, well your side did this other bad thing' finger-pointing has the effect of excusing bad behavior, and does little to improve anyone's conduct.
But the Left has its own problems with this.
Because Trump loyalists go to the 'whataboutism' well far too often, many liberals' reflexive instinct has become to over-apply that term as a means of delegitimizing any and all reasonable arguments that apply to their "side," regardless of relevance or context....

A national discussion about political violence must include the obviously relevant fascistic thuggery of Antifa Leftists. Noting that Charlottesville police said the clashes were engaged by 'mutual combatants' does not diminish the evil of white supremacy or neo-Nazism. At all. It states a fact about the nature of the violent upheaval on the ground. President Trump's error over the weekend was failing to call out and reject specific hate groups by name; it was not accurately condemning grave criminality on both sides of the armed conflict (in this case, the immorality of one side's aggression dwarfed the other's, due to the heinous, lethal car attack). Antifa's brutality and violence hasn't merely been limited to the horrible spectacle in Virginia. They've assaulted Trump supporters at political events, they've rioted to prevent others' exercise of free speech rights, and they've used threats and intimidation to cancel civic events in which Republicans planned to participate. If we are serious about putting a stop to escalating political violence in America, acknowledging the far-Left's significant contribution to the problem is not "whataboutism." It's aboutism.

I'll also add that the other element of the Times story that irked me was its passing reference to the Scalise shooting, which was name-checked only through the prism of conservatives "seizing on" the incident to make a point. This is an echo of the tiresome "Republicans pounce" trope, in which journalists frame coverage by focusing on the Right's response to an incident, rather than the incident itself. If we're talking about the hate and bloodshed that does exist "on many sides" a recent, politically-motivated attempted massacre of Republican Congressmen by an avowed leftist is a giant, glaring data point. And yes, conservatives did notice that the tone, breadth and duration of the resulting media coverage was markedly different than what we witnessed in the aftermath of the Gabrielle Giffords shooting -- which turned out not to have been political in nature, in spite of the Left's collective rush to judgment. None of this excuses the White House's grossly insufficient immediate response to the grotesque hatred and deadly chaos in Charlottesville, but it absolutely pertains to the wider debate.

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Some observant viewers of CNN have noted the "fun" that the network is having in writing the chyrons when discussing Mitch McConnell. The chyron is the words written at the bottom of the screen to give viewers an idea of what the story is about. One day the chyron was "Mitch Please" as they talked about the irritation revealed in comments by McConnell and Trump.
Blitzer went on to say that "key" Republican senators are coming out to defend McConnell, but that was lost on several Twitter users who were stuck on the chyron, which alludes to the phrase, "bitch please," and is also the name of a Snoop Dogg song from 1999 featuring Nate Dogg and Xzibit.
And if you think it's all just a coincidence, how about earlier in the day when the chyron was "Mitch slapped"?

Yup, that's mature and dignified.

Our school is preparing to go one-to-one next year meaning that each student is going to have a Chromebook that can be used in class for interactive lessons or research or just for taking notes. Since I like taking notes on a laptop when I'm at a teacher workshop, I would encourage students to take notes on their Chromebooks. However, the research seems to present warnings to students who are taking their notes on a laptop versus writing out in longhand.
Obviously it is advantageous to draft more complete notes that precisely capture the course content and allow for a verbatim review of the material at a later date. Only it isn’t. New research by Pam Mueller and Daniel Oppenheimer demonstrates that students who write out their notes on paper actually learn more. Across three experiments, Mueller and Oppenheimer had students take notes in a classroom setting and then tested students on their memory for factual detail, their conceptual understanding of the material, and their ability to synthesize and generalize the information. Half of the students were instructed to take notes with a laptop, and the other half were instructed to write the notes out by hand. As in other studies, students who used laptops took more notes. In each study, however, those who wrote out their notes by hand had a stronger conceptual understanding and were more successful in applying and integrating the material than those who used took notes with their laptops.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Cruising the Web

Well, I guess a do-over for Trump to condemn the white supremacists whose march in Charlottesville led to the shocking events this weekend, but we all know that his first inclination was to not explicitly call those marchers out. A late statement is slightly better than no statement, but the delay is telling. Jay Nordlinger puts forth a reasonable theory why Trump can harshly criticize such people as Megyn Kelly and John McCain or Mitch McConnell, but refuses to criticize Putin or delayed calling out the alt-right. Remember how long it took him to disavow David Duke during the campaign? Nordlinger posits that Trump saves his vitriol for those who criticize him.
Trump is by no means shy. If he wants to denounce you, he will. Think of the people he has lashed out at in recent times. The mayor of London; a senator from Connecticut; his own attorney general …

And when he lashes out, he is not reliably truthful....

Trump’s spokeswoman, Sarah Sanders, said, “This is a president who fights fire with fire.” On Fox, her father, Mike Huckabee, said that Trump had “made it clear”: If you hit him, he will “hit you back ten times harder.”

He does not hit Putin and he does not hit white nationalists. They notice, too. The white nationalists noticed it yesterday and were properly, publicly grateful.

Yesterday was a time for character in the office of the presidency. And this is my problem with the “scorecard” approach to Trump — the approach that many conservatives take to Trump. They also refer to it as “calling balls and strikes.”

Anyway, the scorecard goes something like this: “Gorsuch good, Carrier deal bad. Withdrawal from climate agreement good, a trillion in new infrastructure bad.” And so on. Little checkmarks.

But the little checkmarks — even the big ones — don’t cover the moral dimension of the presidency, which is large. No conservative would have disputed that, pre-Trump. But now many people call it “moral preening” (and worse).

When pro-Trump conservatives asked other conservatives to look away from the question of truth, decency, and honor, they asked a lot — more than they might have known. It was too much to ask, too much to accept.

If I had my way, the Republican party — starting with Trump — and the conservative movement would tell the alt-Right, or whatever it should be called, to take their frog and their torches and their buzzwords — “globalist” and all the rest – and stuff it.

I think that, if conservatism gets associated in the public mind with nationalism, populism, demagoguery, grievance, race-consciousness, and tribalism, we are cooked. And the country too.
Is it that hard to condemn neo-Nazis and white supremacists? It shouldn't be a defense that Obama praised Black Lives Matter after policemen were killed or to talk about the violent actions of the antifa forces. How old do you have to be to realize that two wrongs don't make a right?

And I'm afraid that Donald Trump has become equated in people's minds with the Republican Party and thus with conservatism and it doesn't matter if conservatives call him out.

David French points out that Steve Bannon, when he was the executive chairman of Breitbart News, called the site "the platform for the alt-right." French reminds us of how conservative critics of Donald Trump were targeted and threatened by the alt-right and Trump supporters in particularly vicious and personal attacks including anti-Semitic malignancies. If the President really means what he said in condemning racist evil, then he should get rid of Steve Bannon.
Earlier today President Trump clearly and explicitly repudiated racism and white supremacy. This was a positive step, a vast improvement from his statement on Saturday, which pointedly omitted any reference to white supremacy, Nazism, or their acolytes. While today’s political violence is still far from that seen on the worst days of the late 1960s and early 1970s, this weekend’s events have rightfully shaken millions of well-meaning Americans.

If the president wants to take decisive action to distance himself from America’s most hateful elements, there is one thing he can do today: He can fire Steve Bannon, the man who gave them a platform.

Rumors seem to abound
that Trump is already tired of Bannon and is getting advice on all sides to get rid of him.
Rupert Murdoch has repeatedly urged President Trump to fire him. Anthony Scaramucci, the president’s former communications director, thrashed him on television as a white nationalist. Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, the national security adviser, refused to even say he could work with him.

For months, Mr. Trump has considered ousting Stephen K. Bannon, the White House chief strategist and relentless nationalist who ran the Breitbart website and called it a “platform for the alt-right.” Mr. Trump has sent Mr. Bannon to a kind of internal exile, and has not met face-to-face for more than a week with a man who was once a fixture in the Oval Office, according to aides and friends of the president.

So far, Mr. Trump has not been able to follow through — a product of his dislike of confrontation, the bonds of a foxhole friendship forged during the 2016 presidential campaign and concerns about what mischief Mr. Bannon might do once he leaves the protective custody of the West Wing.

Not least, Mr. Bannon embodies the defiant populism at the core of the president’s agenda. Despite being marginalized, Mr. Bannon consulted with the president repeatedly over the weekend as Mr. Trump struggled to respond to the neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Va. In general, Mr. Bannon has cautioned the president not to criticize far-right activists too severely for fear of antagonizing a small but energetic part of his base.
But, apparently the biggest sin of Bannon's is upstaging the President.
Mr. Bannon’s purported crimes: Leaking nasty stories about General McMaster and other colleagues he deems insufficiently populist; feuding bitterly with Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner; and creating his own cadre within the West Wing that operates outside the chain of command.

One of his main sins in the eyes of the president is appearing to revel in the perception that he is the mastermind behind the rise of a pliable Mr. Trump. The president was deeply annoyed at a Time magazine cover article that described Mr. Bannon as the real power and brains behind the Trump throne. Mr. Trump was equally put off by a recent book, “Devil’s Bargain,” by the Bloomberg Businessweek writer Joshua Green, which lavished credit for Mr. Trump’s election on Mr. Bannon.
Trump just can't stand anyone else getting credit for what he regards as the biggest election victory in history. The courtier should never come before the king.

I was just thinking that analogy when I read further in the article that members of the Trump administration joke that working for him is like working for Henry VIII. If that means working for an immature, self-centered and narcissistic leader who fired (and executed) Cardinal Wolsey, Sir Thomas More, and Thomas Cromwell, not to mention what he did to get rid of four of his wives. But the comparison, apparently, appealed to Bannon who saw himself as Thomas More.
Top administration officials like to joke that working for Mr. Trump is like toiling in the court of Henry VIII. Mick Mulvaney, the president’s budget director, recently handed out copies of the play “A Man for All Seasons,” about the last years of Sir Thomas More, Henry’s chancellor, who was executed for failing to endorse Henry’s split with Rome. Mr. Bannon read it, according to a person familiar with the situation, and was amused when an associate compared him to More.
Oh, just please stop. Is everyone in the White House a total brown-noser? Read "A Man for All Seasons" or watch the movie. There is no universe in which Bannon can be compared to More, who by the way, is a Saint Thomas More.

And just to convince everyone of how sincere he is in fighting racism and for supporting the rule of law, Trump has announced that he's considering pardoning Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
“I am seriously considering a pardon for Sheriff Arpaio,” the president said Sunday, during a conversation with Fox News at his club in Bedminster, N.J. “He has done a lot in the fight against illegal immigration. He’s a great American patriot and I hate to see what has happened to him.”
A lot of experts think that Arpaio might not even serve time for this conviction, but could get up to six months in prison. But why not pardon a guy who was convicted of violating a judge's order to stop detaining people just because he suspected they were here illegally? Arpaio endorsed Trump in the election and that is what is most important to Trump.

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Cause and effect?
James Mattis fans would like to think so.
Secretary of Defense James Mattis issued a strong warning to North Korea Monday: “If they shoot at the United States, I’m assuming they’ve hit the United States. … If they do that, then it’s game on.”

“You don’t shoot at people in this world unless you want to bear the consequences,” Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon.

Soon after Mattis issued his warning, state-run North Korean media outlet KCNA reported that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had inspected his military’s plan to launch missiles at Guam and discussed the possibility of a strike with his top commanders.

Megan McArdle recalls her time working in a tech firm serving the financial industry and explains why she left working in what she called the "brotastic atmosphere of IT."
his will make me sound a bit dim, but at the time, it never occurred to me that being a female in this bro ecosystem might impinge my ultimate career prospects. Nor did I miss having women in the room. I liked working with the bros just fine. And the sexual harassment, while annoying, was just that: annoying. I cannot recall that it ever affected my work, nor that I lost any sleep over it.

No, the reason I left is that I came into work one Monday morning and joined the guys at our work table, and one of them said “What did you do this weekend?”

I was in the throes of a brief, doomed romance. I had attended a concert that Saturday night. I answered the question with an account of both. The guys stared blankly. Then silence. Then one of them said: “I built a fiber-channel network in my basement,” and our co-workers fell all over themselves asking him to describe every step in loving detail.

At that moment I realized that fundamentally, these are not my people. I liked the work. But I was never going to like it enough to blow a weekend doing more of it for free. Which meant that I was never going to be as good at that job as the guys around me.
That doesn't mean that there aren't women like that, just that there don't seem be as many women who love tech to the same degree as McArdle's colleagues did.
Thinking back to those women I knew in IT, I can't imagine any of them would have spent a weekend building a fiber-channel network in her basement.

I’m not saying such women don’t exist; I know they do. I’m just saying that if they exist in equal numbers to the men, it’s odd that I met so very many men like that, and not even one woman like that, in a job where all the women around me were obviously pretty comfortable with computers. We can’t blame it on residual sexism that prevented women from ever getting into the field; the number of women working with computers has actually gone down over time.
And her experience connects to the Google engineer's memo and the possibility that there are reasons other than sexism for why there aren't as many women computer scientists.
I think it’s probably true that my firm was mostly male because mostly men were interested in doing that kind of work at that level. But as my story also suggests, when a field is mostly guys, it’s going to feel less than perfectly comfortable for women unless some pretty heroic efforts are made to counteract all that free-floating testosterone. That may retard both women’s career prospects and their interest in joining that field in the first place.

So even if the disparities don’t start off as discrimination, you can still end up with an environment in which women who could be great engineers decide they’d rather do something else. A “natural” split of, say, 65-35 could evolve into a much more lopsided environment that feels downright unfriendly to a lot of women. And the women who have stuck around anyway are apt to get very mad indeed when they hear something that seems to suggest they’re not experiencing what they quite obviously are.

And yet, you still have to ask whether shamestorming Damore and getting him sacked was really the best way to convince him -- or anyone else -- that he’s mistaken. Did anyone’s understanding of the complex quandaries of gender diversity advance? If there were guys at Google wondering whether the women around them really deserved their jobs, did anyone wake up the morning after Damore's firing with the revelation: “Good God, how could I have been so blind?” No, I suspect those guys are now thinking: “You see? Women can’t handle math or logic.”

The mob reaction did prove that women indeed have some power in tech. But the power to fire people is not why most people get into engineering. Good engineers want to make things. The conversation around Damore's memo hasn't made the world a better place, as they say in Silicon Valley. It has just made a lot of people angry.

Matthew Boomer observes that what is happening in Venezuela these days puts the lie to the "left's hopes of 'good socialism.' He details how so many on the left argued that Latin America would bring a different variety of socialism and be an answer to the authoritarian governments backed previously by the U.S. There was going to be a new brand of socialism in Latin America as represented by Hugo Chávez.
I remember sitting in college classes and learning about how Chávez and similar, though less violent populists such as Ecuador’s Rafael Correa, Bolivia’s Evo Morales, and Brazil’s Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff were forging hope by harnessing popular energy into governments that would direct economies toward social justice.
But it just hasn't turned out htat way.
It Wasn’t Supposed to Turn Out This Way

Fissures are forming for each of these regimes. Morales, in defiance of the constitution and a popular referendum, is moving to abrogate term limits for his office; Correa’s successors are locked in a battle over corruption that has left the government in chaos; da Silva is entering his sixth corruption trial; and Rousseff has been impeached. But it is Venezuela, the nation Chávez and his successor Nicolás Maduro have led into fire and ruin, which fully captures just how fatal are the conceits of democratic socialism in Latin America.

The terror and repression Chavismo swore to deposit in the dustbin of history have reemerged in its defense, with hit squads intimidating and massacring dissidents while Maduro swats down checks on his power. The equality it promised exists only in the cruelest of terms: equality of want, equality of desperation, equality of misery. A country endowed with bountiful resources has spent and collectivized its way into such abject poverty that it cannot provide its people with food and toilet paper....

Today, the government that swore to empower its people tortures artists and activists. Quality of life evaporates as mortality rates rise, jobs disappear, and basic utilities like power and water become unavailable. Initiatives to provide everyday necessities for poor neighbors get people jailed for hoarding. Basic governance becomes impossible as a carousel of suspected rivals—most recently attorney general Luisa Ortega, who was removed last weekend—are purged, leaving Maduro a gaggle of sycophants for him to fiddle with as the country burns.

And now it seems that a prominent member of the Venezuelan government may have put an assassination order out on Marco Rubio.
One of Venezuela’s most powerful leaders may have put out an order to kill Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a fervent critic of the South American country’s government, according to intelligence obtained by the U.S. last month.

Though federal authorities couldn’t be sure at the time if the uncorroborated threat was real, they took it seriously enough that Rubio has been guarded by a security detail for several weeks in both Washington and Miami.

Believed to be behind the order: Diosdado Cabello, the influential former military chief and lawmaker from the ruling socialist party who has publicly feuded with Rubio....

The death threat was outlined in a memo to several law enforcement agencies disseminated last month by the Department of Homeland Security. The memo, designated “law enforcement sensitive” but not classified, was obtained by the Miami Herald.

The memo revealed an “order to have Senator Rubio assassinated,” though it also warned that “no specific information regarding an assassination plot against Senator Rubio has been garnered thus far” and that the U.S. had not been able to verify the threat. That Cabello has been a vocal Rubio critic in Venezuelan media was also noted, a sign federal authorities are well aware of the political bluster complicating the situation.

According to the memo, Cabello might have gone as far as to contact “unspecified Mexican nationals” in connection with his plan to harm Rubio.
Perhaps the story isn't true and is just some vainglorious bluster. But would it really surprise anyone that one of the chief thugs of the Maduro regime had done such a thing?

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Daniel Hannan writes about how those on the British left have had a difficult time dealing with the reality of what is happening in Venezuela. They've tried denying it or blaming it on the CIA. They've tried to deny that Chavez and Maduro were ever socialists. I guess we're still waiting for that mythical socialist government that proves that socialism is a successful economic and political form of government.
All the thrashing around is an attempt to avoid grappling with that hard truth. Venezuela is not semi‑socialist or quasi-socialist. It has gone the whole hog, totus porcus. Chávez promised to govern for the many not the few, increased taxes and spending, nationalised private enterprise. Result? The same as always: shortages, hunger and, eventually, the use of state-run distribution centres to reward party members and punish political opponents.

There is something almost heroic about the refusal of Britain’s hard Left to infer anything from actual results. The routine is always the same. Revolutionaries seize power somewhere and are hailed in Islington as heroes until their regime leads (as socialist regimes invariably lead) to squalor and repression, at which point they were never “real” socialists in the first place.

The historian Giles Udy has just published a book on Labour’s early infatuation with the Soviet Union. George Lansbury, Labour’s Corbynesque leader in the early Thirties, had visited the USSR and come back with stories of progress and plenty. The pattern was repeated again and again. Romania, Yugoslavia, Cuba, Nicaragua – all had their British admirers, right up to the moments of their collapse.

How are we to explain it, this determined attachment to a system that has failed every time – every time – it has been tried?

For some, it is the elevation, to a preposterous degree, of motive over outcome. Never mind that poverty in Venezuela has risen from 48 to 82 per cent, that the minimum wage has fallen in value by three quarters, that infant mortality is up a hundredfold. Everyone knows that socialists care about the underprivileged! For others, socialism’s appeal lies precisely in its unattainability.

In every age and nation, some people are in the market for creeds that promise a new dawn, making no concession to past tradition or to human frailty. In this regard, if in no other, extreme socialists resemble hardline Islamists. They are happy to crack a few eggs in order to make the omelette.

Still others are prepared to ally with any cause, however oppressive, provided it is sufficiently anti-Western. I fear that Corbyn is in this category. The Venezuela Solidarity Campaign, of which he was the animating spirit, was anti-American before it was pro‑Venezuelan. Even now, diehard British Chavistas make ludicrous comparisons with our own society (“Starvation in Caracas? There are food banks in Cardiff!”)
Hannan goes on to notice how different standards are used to judge capitalist and socialist countries.
While no country is perfect, we can say on the basis of empirical data that open markets make people freer, wealthier and happier than socialism. There have been some laboratory-standard experiments: West Germany versus East Germany, South Korea versus North Korea.

Yet there is a mulish tendency to judge capitalism by its necessarily imperfect real-world outcomes, while judging socialism as a textbook theory that has never been properly implemented.

To see quite how absurd this is, imagine someone saying: “Fascism is a wonderful idea: you mustn’t confuse it with the dictatorial regimes in the Thirties that falsely called themselves fascist.”

Socialism always follows the same trajectory. It begins with slogans about The People; it ends with the knock in the night. Force is not incidental to a state-run economy; it is intrinsic. And all for what? Look at any example in the word, from Cuba to Czechoslovakia, from Venezuela to Vietnam. The eggs are smashed; but the omelette never emerges.
If only those naifs in colleges across the country who are so enamored of socialism would ponder Hannan's arguments and understand that there is not some ideal socialism out there that has just never been tried, but would somehow work just fine if it were.

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Ted Balaker writes about
what happened when a university aired the documentary Can We Take a Joke? about how political correctness is ruining the ability of comedians to come onto college campuses. The viewing was hosted by a group called Students for Free Thought which was established to promote free speech.
The film examines the clash between comedy and outrage culture, and in it comedians ranging from newbie college jokesters to successful veterans such as Gilbert Gottfried, Penn Jillette, Christina Pazsitzky, Adam Carolla, Lisa Lampanelli, and Jim Norton push back against the “Outrage Mob” and stand up for comedy and free speech.

The film includes a variety of free speech scholars, and pays special attention to the college scene. It explains how universities have taught generations of students that they can shut down opinions they don’t like simply by declaring they’re offended.
The group had announced the screening of the documentary and scheduled a discussion of the issues raised in the movie afterwards. However, the result was exactly what the movie depicts.
Can We Take a Joke? includes footage of incidents where outraged college students shouted down speakers they disagree with. Ironically, that’s pretty much what happened at the Lawrence screening. Some students shouted at the screen, then a dispute erupted; oneM student was asked to leave, and organizers stopped the film halfway through the screening.
So what was the response of the administration at Lawrence University? You probably can guess.
Shortly after the event, the president of the university’s student government announced the decision to deny official recognition to Students for Free Thought, explaining that he and his colleagues were “concerned about the well-being of the campus at large” and didn’t believe the group would “have a positive impact.”

President Burstein thanked the student government leaders for their “careful analysis.” Never mind that the university’s official mission statement promises, “members of the Lawrence community are free to engage in, speak on, and write about scholarly research and creative activity without fear of censorship or retaliation.”
So an organization to promote free speech is considered detrimental to the campus. We're living in bizarro world.

I heartily recommend the movie. It's both funny and thought-provoking. You can sense the frustration and irritation that some comedians feel about how people are trying to dictate what they can make jokes about. Here's a clip.