URLs du Jour

2019-10-01

[Amazon Link]

Our Amazon Product du Jour reminds us: it could be worse. Or maybe, it could get worse.

(That's James Buchanan, by the way. Usually considered to be even worse than Franklin Pierce.)

  • Elizabeth Nolan Brown's Reason Roundup for yesterday: Trump’s Civil War Tweet Is Bad. This Other Tweet May Be Unconstitutional..

    Who had "Civil War fetishizing by the executive branch" on their 2019 bingo card? Because that's where we find ourselves this Monday morning after President Donald Trump spent the weekend (per usual) watching TV and tweeting furiously.

    "If the Democrats are successful in removing the President from office (which they will never be), it will cause a Civil War like fracture in this Nation from which our Country will never heal," Trump tweeted on Sunday night, quoting what Pastor Robert Jeffress said on Fox News. (Update: it turns out that Trump's tweet misquoted Jeffress, adding the "which they will never be" parenthetical and taking out "I'm afraid" before "it will cause a Civil War.")

    This followed Trump tweets accusing Rep. Adam Schiff (D–Calif.) of treason and fraud and saying Democrats were trying to "destabilize" America.

    I am a pretty libertarian soul, but I might go for legislation that fitted all American politicians with Gamesters of Triskelion shock collars that would go off whenever they utter (or tweet) accusations of treason.


  • At National Review, David French notes the facts about President Trump's Ukraine Call: Safeguards around Donald Trump Breaking Down.

    Yesterday and again this morning, the president of the United States tweeted that Representative Adam Schiff should be questioned for “treason” and possibly arrested. He also approvingly quoted an absurd statement from an increasingly unhinged Trumpist pastor named Robert Jeffress that threatened a “Civil War like fracture” (led by Evangelicals!) if he is impeached and removed.

    Given the lack of serious grounds on which to defend these statements, Trump’s apologists fell back to the claim that they were “just tweets,” and that we should instead always focus on his actions. If he doesn’t actually attempt to have Schiff arrested, they said, then we need to stop our “pearl-clutching,” and if he doesn’t actually attempt to start a civil war, then all we’re dealing with is a metaphor no worse than the “war” rhetoric we see all the time in politics and public controversies.

    These arguments don’t hold water. One of the reasons why the Ukraine scandal is starting to have legs is that it demonstrates that the Trump you see on Twitter is not some virtual persona distinct from the man himself; they are one and the same. There is no “just Twitter.” There is just Trump, and Trump can and will operationalize his vendettas and conspiracy theories, including by running unofficial diplomatic operations through his personal legal team. He can and will break through the safeguards erected around him, even in matters of grave national importance.

    On the other hand, Trump's, uh, foibles were pretty much known in November. Elected anyway.


  • But certain things are dealbreakers. For me, it's this Tweet.

    Yeah, congratulations on killing sixty-five million of your citizens over the years. A real accomplishment.

    I'm ready for President Pence.


  • An interesting ruling publicized by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE): Sixth Circuit properly finds that University of Michigan bias response team could chill students’ speech.

    In a victory for student speech rights, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed the judgment of a federal district court that dismissed a case brought by Speech First, an organization committed to defending free speech on college campuses. Speech First filed the lawsuit to stop the University of Michigan from:  

    Here's an interesting bit from the decision (linked above):

    Additionally, the very name “Bias Response Team” suggests that the accused student’s actions have been prejudged to be biased. The name is not the “Alleged Bias Response Team” or “Possible Bias Investigatory Team.” It is the “Bias Response Team.” And as such, the name intimates that failure to meet could result in far-reaching consequences, including reputational harm or administrative action.

    Which led me to check… well, the University Near Here has what's called its Bias Response Protocol.

    The Bias Response Protocol provides an organized response to bias incidents (including hate crimes) when they occur, and a mechanism to inform the person or group harmed and the community about the outcomes.

    Maybe at some point they'll change this to "Alleged Bias Response Protocol". Before it goes to court, preferably.


  • And if you have a working familiarity with the language used at this blog, congratulations. Because as John McWhorter points out: English Is Not Normal.

    English speakers know that their language is odd. So do people saddled with learning it non-natively. The oddity that we all perceive most readily is its spelling, which is indeed a nightmare. In countries where English isn’t spoken, there is no such thing as a ‘spelling bee’ competition. For a normal language, spelling at least pretends a basic correspondence to the way people pronounce the words. But English is not normal.

    But it's not just spelling, friends (or should that be "frends"?)

    More weirdness? OK. There is exactly one language on Earth whose present tense requires a special ending only in the third‑person singular. I’m writing in it. I talk, you talk, he/she talk-s – why just that? The present‑tense verbs of a normal language have either no endings or a bunch of different ones (Spanish: hablo, hablas, habla). And try naming another language where you have to slip do into sentences to negate or question something. Do you find that difficult? Unless you happen to be from Wales, Ireland or the north of France, probably.

    As Professor McWhorter goes on to explain: Blame Canada history. And my own ancestors, maruading Scandinavian Vikings. Sorry on their behalf.


Last Modified 2019-10-02 2:43 AM EDT