URLs du Jour

2018-07-01

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  • Proverbs 11:14 is one that might be aimed at President Trump (and it still seems funny to type that):

    14 For lack of guidance a nation falls,
        but victory is won through many advisers.

    I believe earlier versions of this verse contained the notation: "This Proverb was brought to you by the Union of National Advisers".


  • It's very belated, but ("ICYMI") I wanted to draw readers' attention to The Church of Grievance, an excellent article from Michael Brendan Dougherty in a recent issue of National Review. (It's behind a semi-permeable paywall.) I found this observation to be telling:

    […] Haunted by the corruption of commercialism and disillusioned with the pursuit of genius for its own sake, almost the entire artistic world has looked to politics to find a new purpose. And so every field, from abstract sculpture to film to stand-up comedy, has started to mimic the hectoring voice and social goals of progressive politics. Those seeking to express or sublimate their deepest longings almost inevitably turn away from contemplation and creation and toward activism. Tragedy and comedy are supposed to offer catharsis and make living in an imperfect world easier. But, given an overtly political role, these forms now essentially withhold that salve; their mission is agitation in the service of social reform. We have an art world that satisfies us less and diverts more dissatisfaction into the political realm.

    Borrowing from the thought of Polish philosopher Leszek Kolakowski, the Christian social critic Alan Jacobs showed that “woke” social-justice activists often don’t use political terms when talking about the imperatives of their identity politics. Instead, they invoke mythic ones. This partly explains why their response to unwelcome campus speakers takes on the form of an exorcism, with chants repeated in a loud, prayer-like cadence. Sometimes the shouts are enacted as an antiphony — a call and response. At other times, an exemplar is pulled forward to speak and the entire supportive group amplifies that voice by repeating the person’s words.

    The Alan Jacobs article to which Dougherty refers is here.


  • The headline on a recent NYT article from Adam Liptak is a common Progressive trope: How Conservatives Weaponized the First Amendment.

    Yes, those Deplorables are always "attacking", "weaponizing", "pouncing", etc. (Apparently some versions of the story doubled down on metaphor, appending "How Free Speech Became a Conservative Cudgel". That's been memory-holed at the NYT.)

    Headline aside, though, it's a pretty interesting insight into the "free speech for me, but not for thee" club. It turns out that "Weaponizing" in this case means "insisting on the same rules for everyone".

    [L]iberals who once championed expansive First Amendment rights are now uneasy about them.

    “The left was once not just on board but leading in supporting the broadest First Amendment protections,” said Floyd Abrams, a prominent First Amendment lawyer and a supporter of broad free-speech rights. “Now the progressive community is at least skeptical and sometimes distraught at the level of First Amendment protection which is being afforded in cases brought by litigants on the right.”

    Many on the left have traded an absolutist commitment to free speech for one sensitive to the harms it can inflict.

    "Many on the left" are always good for a chuckle, because it's pretty clear that the "harms" they are newly "sensitive" to are solely those coming from their political opponents.

    There's nothing new under the sun. One wishes for the relative "repressive tolerance" frankness of Herbert Marcuse, who believed in making those on the right simply shut up.


  • Speaking of First Amendment jurisprudence, check out George F. Will's latest: The ‘Janus’ ruling is a welcome blow to coerced speech. (That's the one that said that public employees could not be coerced into paying "fees" to a union to which they had no desire to join.

    There is no sugarcoating today’s reality. Public-sector unions are conveyor belts that move a portion of government employees’ salaries — some of the amount paid in union dues — into political campaigns, almost always Democrats’, to elect the people with whom the unions “negotiate” for taxpayers’ money. Progressives who are theatrically distraught about there being “too much money in politics” are now theatrically distraught that the court has ended coercing contributions that have flowed to progressive candidates.

    Let me get away with a mildly "weaponized" metaphor: Will is on target.


  • Power Line's Steven Hayward reveals the Academic Absurdity of . . . Maybe All Time. Exemplified in last December's passing of UCLA Professor Doran George (of the "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Studies, and Queer Studies" Department). The quoted People article is relatively circumspect:

    A California university professor died suddenly during a BDSM bondage session at the home of a Hollywood executive. Dr. Doran George, 48, was found dead in the home of Skip Chasey, an executive for Hollywood agency William Morris Endeavor on Nov. 19, 2017. . .

    The room included padded floor tiles, a ladder back chair, a metal cage, a padded examination table and a St. Andrews cross, according to the autopsy report.

    George — who was born Duncan Gilbert but changed their name and did not use gendered pronouns — was wrapped “head to toe in plastic wrap and gaffer’s tape, with small breathing holes at the nose and mouth,” the autopsy report stated. The professor was also wearing a “locked metal chain around [their] neck.”

    … but there's more detail quoted from less-fluffy publications.

    The UCLA department chair, Alicia Gaspar de Alba, offered RIP Doran George on the department's website, and (for the rest of us) it's pretty sad how Doran's forlorn death was an occasion for dragging out the identity-politics boilerplate and confusing pronouns:

    Besides serving as a TA for our M114 Intro to LGBTQ Studies course, Doran also taught M114 during the summer, and conceptualized and offered one of the most incisive critical courses ever offered by our minor, Heteronormative Colonialism, specifically looking at the connection between colonial ideology, economic expansion, and continued exploitation of queer bodies and bodies of color. Those of you who had the honor of taking this course or being in one of Doran’s discussion sections know that their heart was as big as their laugh, and that their dedication to social justice was informed by their own queer immigrant experience.

    And for those accustomed to reading "RIP" as "Rest in Peace", you'll note that Prof Alicia intends it as "Rest in Power". Because nothing says "power" like getting wrapped head to toe in plastic wrap and gaffer's tape.


  • And yet another reason for voting against Republicans in November is detailed at Reason: Rep. Justin Amash Calls Out House Republicans for Passing 'Massively Wasteful' $675 Billion Defense Bill.

    Rep. Justin Amash (R–Mich.), one of just three House Republicans to vote against a Department of Defense appropriations bill on Thursday, called out his party for overwhelmingly supporting the wasteful legislation.

    The $675 billion spending bill easily passed in the House of Representatives by a 359–49 vote. Aside from Amash, Reps. Thomas Massie (R–Ky.) and Ken Buck (R–Colo.) were the only Republicans to vote no.

    … and—doing the math here—only 46 Democrats voted no. So this isn't much of a reason to vote for Democrats either.


Last Modified 2018-07-01 7:32 AM EST