URLs du Jour


  • Not only does Biden suck, but (as Ben Shapiro notes at the Daily Signal) so does the "watchdog" press covering him: Media Gushes Over Biden's 'Return to Normalcy' of the Swamp.

    The media spent four long years suggesting that President Donald Trump was steeped in corruption, ensconced in partisanship, enmeshed in dangerous foreign policy fiascos. The media assured us that they would defend democracy from Trump’s brutalities, that they would spend every waking moment fighting to prevent anyone from accepting Trumpian standards as the “new normal.”

    Instead, the media suggested we needed to return to the old “normal”—by which they meant a system in which the media and Democrats worked hand-in-glove together to lie to the American public about the content of policy (“If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor!” — former President Barack Obama); in which conventional wisdom was treated as gospel truth, no matter how wrong it was (“There will be no advanced and separate peace with the Arab world without the Palestinian process” — John Kerry on Israel); and in which cozy relationships between corporations and government were considered de rigueur.

    Sample of the hard-hitting journalism in our near future: the Daily Beast reports Joe Biden’s Dogs Have Told This Pet Psychic a Lot About Their Beloved Master, and His Future. Woof!

  • It's not all bad news, though. Brian Doherty holds out some hope at Reason: Bourgeois Libertarianism Could Save America.

    As the streets of various U.S. cities descended into disorder set off by anger and anguish over police brutality, the domestic tranquility for which Americans theoretically surrender large chunks of their fortunes and freedom to the government seemed out of reach. Some protests devolved into generalized orgies of destruction and even arson—the most fiendishly destructive thing the average person can do in dense cities, and an act committed with careless glee dozens of times.

    In the public debate between angry forces on the left and right wings, too many Americans insist on recapitulating the stark choices Germany seemed to offer its citizens between the world wars a century ago: a controlling, decadent left out to destroy private property, and a right embracing harsh, violent authoritarianism and viewing outsiders of all stripes with suspicion.

    Each side seems so obviously, intolerably evil to the other that both sides agree the only moral or prudential choice is to come out swinging against the other side. The blood on the streets of Kenosha, Wisconsin, where in August a right-wing 17-year-old shot three people during a protest is a small preview of where that path leads. Radicals on both left and right seem to agree that traditional American libertarianism either supports the evil side (wittingly or unwittingly) or, at best, provides a pusillanimous, pie-in-the-sky distraction from the necessary business of seizing state power to crush the enemy. But that old-school, nonrevolutionary, bourgeois libertarianism is, in fact, the only peaceful way out for our troubled country.

    Brian hopes for a groundswell of large numbers of Americans minding their own business. A tough prescription for most of us, but probably a good one.

  • A long article in last Saturday's WSJ, probably paywalled, dealing with something I've been thinking about for years. The Census Predicament: Counting Americans by Race.

    As director of the U.S. Census Bureau from 1998 to 2001, Kenneth Prewitt oversaw the first decennial count of the new century. When the enormous job of data collection was finally done, he arrived at a stark conclusion: The government should stop asking every American to report their race. “The race question is incoherent because race is incoherent,” said Prof. Prewitt, now a professor of public affairs at Columbia University. “We pay a price for not having a more subtle, nuanced set of numbers than what we currently have.”

    Prof. Prewitt and many other demographers and sociologists say that the government’s centuries-old classifications no longer reflect realities on the ground, especially when it comes to generations of immigrants who have edged toward assimilation. Racial or ethnic labels are also falling behind the growing diversity within each racial and ethnic group and failing to capture mixed-race people. Americans of two or more races or ethnicities—including Vice President-elect Kamala Harris—are the country’s fastest-growing demographic, and they defy labels.

    I'm not one of those folks who view race as a "social construct". My reading (including Charles Murray's latest book) persuaded me that's not a realistic view.

    On the other hand, having the state pigeonhole us into categories based on our DNA details should give any thoughtful person pause. Will the 2030 Census require us to submit a cheek swab?

    So I'm on Prof. Prewitt's side. Emphatically. But not everyone agrees:

    Most experts continue to see the race question on the census—and the data it generates—as essential. Without it, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission would lack the benchmarks it relies on to combat discrimination in the workplace. Federal health agencies wouldn’t be able to measure the disproportionate toll that the Covid-19 pandemic takes on Blacks and Hispanics, or show that people of certain races live years longer than others.

    I think those rationales are bogus. If the EEOC (for example) is relying on census data to "combat discrimination", it probably means they can't make an actual case using facts about discriminatory treatment.

  • We haven't dumped on Robin DiAngelo, author of the best-selling book White Fragility, for a while now. But Coleman Hughes does the good work in City Journal: Black Fragility?.

    DiAngelo’s book does more than rehearse the familiar tenets of Critical Race Theory (CRT)––racism is systemic and pervasive; race-blind standards are really white supremacist standards in disguise; lived experience confers special knowledge on victims of racism; and so on—it also uses simple and direct language to teach white people how to talk about race from a CRT perspective. Drawing on her academic work as well as her experience providing corporate diversity training, DiAngelo puts forth her theory of “white fragility”—a set of psychological defense mechanisms that white people use in order to avoid acknowledging their own racism. These defense mechanisms include “silence, defensiveness, argumentation, certitude, and other forms of pushback” in the face of racism accusations.

    At first glance, it may be hard to understand why such a punishing message would appeal to a white audience. But on closer inspection, the appeal of DiAngelo’s message derives from her masterful exploitation of white guilt. As Shelby Steele has observed, white guilt is less a guilt than a terror—terror at the thought that one might be racist. If one has never felt this terror, then it may be hard to understand how intolerable it can be, and how welcome any alleviation is.

    DiAngelo understands all this and exploits it masterfully. Like most antiracist literature, White Fragility spends considerable time telling white people that they’re racist, but with a crucial twist—it’s not their fault. “A racism-free upbringing is not possible,” she writes, “because racism is a social system embedded in the culture and its institutions. We are born into this system and have no say in whether we will be affected by it.” For DiAngelo, white supremacy is like the English language. If you’re born in America, you learn it without trying. Racism, in her view, transforms from a shameful sin to be avoided into a guiltless birthmark to be acknowledged and accepted.

    Hughes notes that DiAngelo's recommendations are fundamentally condescending toward blacks. Whites are asked to "refrain from crying around blacks." Because that's triggering.

    But: "Holding back tears to spare others’ emotions is not something that adults do around their equals; it’s what parents do around children."

  • David Harsanyi is enthusiastic about one outcome of the election: This election only reinforced the value of the Electoral College. An interesting point here:

    Most free nations don’t have democratic majority votes for their ­executives. Parliamentary systems, for example, aren’t national polls. Between 1935 and 2017, the majority of British voters backed the party that formed a government on only two occasions. Voters don’t even cast a ballot directly for the prime minister. In 2019, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau “lost” the “popular vote.” By eliminating the Electoral College, we are far more likely to spark the creation of smaller parties that would keep presidents from gaining a majority. Of historical interest: Vladimir Putin was elected through a direct national poll.

    As a practical matter, the Electoral College is probably here for good; you could never get enough states to ratify a Constitutional amendment to get rid of it.

I Wake Up Screaming

[3.0 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

I seem to have seen at least part of this movie before; in this 2015 post (a book report for Lileks' The Casablanca Tango) I claim that I had "just watched a bit" of the movie "on the local old-movie channel".

But I'm pretty sure I didn't see the whole thing.

Victor Mature plays Frankie Christopher, a "promoter" who specializes in making other people rich and famous. That was apparently a thing back in 1941. As the movie opens, he's being grilled by the cops for the murder of one of them: Vicky Lynn (Carole Landis). In flashback, it's revealed that she was a hash-slinger at a local restaurant. On a dare from his buddies, Frankie sets out to work his magic on her.

This works only too well. Shortly after Vicky announces that she's off to Hollywood for a movie career, she's found dead in her apartment. Her sister Jill (Betty Grable) walks in to find Frankie kneeling over her cooling corpse. Who done it? There are a host of suspects. The cops like Frankie for the crime, but they can't prove anything.

Jill and Frankie develop a relationship. Because of course they do. They cooperate in trying to find the Real Killer.

The best performance here is from Laird Cregar, playing a cop involved with the investigation, but also is revealed to have been kind of creepily obsessed with Vicky from back in her waitress days.

There are some comic touches here too. That's pretty rare for a noir. I'm pretty sure nobody wakes up screaming, though. I think I would have noticed that.

Last Modified 2022-10-16 9:42 AM EDT