URLs du Jour

2019-07-25

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  • According to Power Line: It’s Official: Democrats Dislike Our Country.

    Liberals bristle when you suggest they have contempt for America, even when leading figures like New York Governor Andrew Cuomo openly says things like “America was never that great,” or “Beto” O’ Rourke saying that “This country was founded on white supremacy. And every single structure that we have in this country still reflects the legacy of slavery and segregation and Jim Crow and suppression.”

    Now we have survey data from Gallup that ratifies this increasing Democratic hatred of our country. Gallup released a survey on July 2 entitled “American Pride Hits New Low: Few Proud of Political System.” You can see in the first figure below that the proportion of people who say they are “extremely” or “very” proud of the country has fallen significantly from where it was 15 years ago.

    … and a further chart reveals that the new low is driven by a decline in "pride" among Democrats. Sad!

    But I must quibble: the actual question asked was not "Are you proud of America?"

    Instead, it was "How proud are you to be an American … extremely proud, very proud, only a little proud or not at all proud?"

    That's not the same thing. I'd argue that it's not even close.

    And here's my further quibble: how can I be proud of something that I had absolutely no control over? I mean, I was born here. It's not like I had a choice.

    It's like asking me if I'm proud to have a standard number of fingers and toes.

    But even the question that Power Line thinks they asked ("Are you proud of America?") is problematic. I understand it, but still: Americans are good and bad, the entire American history is full of admirable stuff and horrible stuff.

    Still, on the whole, the scales tip toward: mostly good. But how can I be proud of that when it's nearly all stuff I had nothing whatsoever to do with?

    Now, if they asked me "How grateful are you to be an American?" then I would answer "extremely grateful". And I might even ask the pollster if they had an answer I could use to show I was even more grateful than that.

    I have no idea whether Democrats dislke America or not. Because that's not what Gallup asked.


  • At National Review, Jonah Goldberg wrestles with the thorny question: Was Trump’s ‘Go Back’ Tweet Malice or Ignorance?. (Natural response: is there some reason it can't be both?)

    Many of President Trump’s most passionate fans and foes share an odd tendency: Both groups believe his most controversial actions are premeditated and reflective of deeply held beliefs.

    They think this despite Trump’s saying on numerous occasions that he doesn’t believe in doing much preparation, preferring to rely on his instincts in the moment.

    Nowhere is this reliance on gut more in evidence than when he attacks people. He goes for the nearest weapon at hand, regardless of whether it’s juvenile, boorish, untrue, racist, or sexist. Contrary to the myth that he opposes political correctness, he will even use progressive weapons against his enemies when the opportunity arises. In 2015, he badgered Jeb Bush for being insensitive to women and women’s health.

    Yes. To repeat myself slightly: he flings whatever rhetorical turds that happen to have floated to the top of his mental septic tank.


  • At the (perhaps paywalled) WSJ, Holman W. Jenkins Jr. approaches the topic from another angle, demanding that Trump's accusers Prove the Tweets Were Racist.

    Barack Obama may have been under-qualified and under-experienced when he ran in 2008, but his election allowed the country to feel good about itself. Democrats should be having a cakewalk to 2020 by giving Trump voters a candidate they could feel good about voting for to signal an end to the Trump experiment. That’s not the election we seem to be getting. And the media aren’t helping.

    Numerous outlets this week deceived themselves when they referred to Mr. Trump’s “racist tweets” as if their racist nature was an established fact that good reporting had nailed down. They think they are being brave when they are being the opposite. Brave was a dissenter: Keith Woods, National Public Radio’s diversity chief, who argued on NPR’s website that reporters should report facts and do interviews and leave the moralizing to people they quote.

    Note: Keith Woods' argument at NPR, linked above, is pretty interesting on its own. Because it's preceded by an Official Commie Radio Disclaimer which concludes: "NPR's newsroom has not changed its view on this issue and will continue referring to President Trump's tweet as racist." Take that, VP of Newsroom Diversity and Training!


  • At his blog, Bruce Schneier (I think it's fair to say) damns with faint praise: Attorney General William Barr on Encryption Policy. Specifically, Barr staked out a new position for Your Federal Government: adding "backdoors" to encryption products decreases security but it's worth it.

    I think this is a major change in government position. Previously, the FBI, the Justice Department and so on had claimed that backdoors for law enforcement could be added without any loss of security. They maintained that technologists just need to figure out how: ­an approach we have derisively named "nerd harder."

    With this change, we can finally have a sensible policy conversation. Yes, adding a backdoor increases our collective security because it allows law enforcement to eavesdrop on the bad guys. But adding that backdoor also decreases our collective security because the bad guys can eavesdrop on everyone. This is exactly the policy debate we should be having­not the fake one about whether or not we can have both security and surveillance.

    Barr makes the point that this is about "consumer cybersecurity," and not "nuclear launch codes." This is true, but ignores the huge amount of national security-related communications between those two poles. The same consumer communications and computing devices are used by our lawmakers, CEOs, legislators, law enforcement officers, nuclear power plant operators, election officials and so on. There's no longer a difference between consumer tech and government tech -- it's all the same tech.

    Schneier feels (and I tend to agree) that governments,including ours, can't be trusted to refrain from abusing backdoors. And we probably can't trust it to protect backdoors from being accessed by bad guys. (All it takes is one corruptible federal official, but they're all gone now, right?)


  • Veronique de Rugy lets fly at Reason: Once Again, Uncle Sam Shirks Fiscal Responsibility in Budget Deal.

    This year, the deficit will end up being the fourth highest in U.S. history. It's gigantic, and it will hit a little over $1 trillion by the end of the fiscal year. It's also larger than previously projected. And it's growing fast, at a time when the United States is not in a recession—unlike the economies that delivered the three previous highest deficits.

    These are all facts that should help members of Congress and the administration recognize that it's probably time to reduce spending. But they fail to make that realization.

    White House and congressional negotiators reached accord on a two-year budget on Monday. That deal would lift discretionary spending caps by $320 billion over the next two years. Just a reminder, Congress put these caps in place as the result of the 2011 debt-ceiling debate. At the time, the debt had doubled since 2008, and annual deficits were above $1 trillion because of the recession and a silly, expansive stimulus bill. President Barack Obama was then in power, and Republicans in Congress were allegedly horrified by the level of red ink. As such, they were not going to agree to increase Uncle Sam's borrowing authority without some commitment to fiscal responsibility—hence the spending caps.

    That was then; this is now.

    With few exceptions, "vote against incumbents" seems to be the most honorable algorithm available in 2020.


  • At Quillete, Andrew Glover asks an interesting question: Why Is a Top Australian University Supporting Indigenous Creationism?.

    The Australian recently reported that the University of New South Wales (UNSW) is advising its staff to avoid teaching students about the arrival of Australian Indigenous people onto the Australian continent.

    As part of the development of materials used to guide teaching, the university has produced a diversity toolkit in regard to culturally diverse students. One of these, entitled Appropriate Terminology, Indigenous Australian People, provides guidelines about how staff should refer to Aboriginal people, their culture and events connected with the arrival of Europeans. For instance, it advises staff not to describe Australia as having been “discovered’ in 1788 (when the first fleet of British ships arrived at Sydney), since this implicitly denies the fact that Australia already was occupied by Aboriginal peoples. Such information already is standard for anyone in Australia who has familiarised themselves with the approved form of navigating discussion of Indigenous issues.

    While the vast majority of the advice contained in the document is cultural in its orientation (albeit with a decidedly political flavour at some points), the guidelines occasionally wander into the domain of science. In particular, university staff are explicitly advised to avoid making reference to the fact that “Aboriginal people have lived in Australia for 40,000 years” (a figure that corresponds to the latest widely accepted date of the first arrival of humans to Australia from Africa and Asia). Instead, they are advised to date the Aboriginal presence in Australia to “the beginning of the Dreaming/s,” because such language “reflects the beliefs of many Indigenous Australians that they have always been in Australia, from the beginning of time, and came from the land.”

    Um.

    It's difficult to imagine Aboriginals appreciate being told that they can't handle the anthropological truth about their distant ancestors.


  • Ah, but the LFOD Google News Alert donged loudly for an article in the Austin Chronicle by Sarah Marloff ("Associate News & Qmmunity Editor"): Qmmunity: Summer of Pride, Take Two: QPOC art, Bulimianne and Louisianna’s wedding celebration, and more. I hope everybody's OK with the abundance of clever "Q"s.

    And, have you heard the news? The ever-scheming Beth Schindler has announced the return of Austin's Dyke March on Sunday, Aug. 11. Former Chron writer Verushka Gray described Austin's (reportedly) first-ever Dyke March in May 2002 as the "Gay Pride Parade's commie pinko younger sister who a long time ago decided to live free or die. The only throes this march wants to be in are the throes of passion." According to my brief internet sleuthing, our march maybe lasted five years – and now, babes, it's back and ready to get passionate and political. Lastly, DJ GirlFriend is cooking up what seems to be Austin's first Trans Pride event for the nighttime hours of Aug. 10, so start stretching, QTs; it's gonna be a wild and wonderful 50th Pride celebration!

    I believe this may be the first we've noticed self-described commie pinkos deciding to live free or die. Worth pointing out for that reason.


  • A more conventional (and somewhat braver) usage of LFOD appears in the South China Morning Post on Extradition bill art: the Hong Kong artists painting a picture of protests for the world. Among the displays:

    Visual artist Kacey Wong Kwok-choi is a member of the union and has been involved in its activities as well as staging his own response to the extradition bill. On July 1, dressed all in black and wearing a mask, he waved a large black version of Hong Kong’s red-and-white bauhinia flag on Harcourt Road in Admiralty.

    “It was a performance-based work. Live art. The black flag represents ‘live free or die’. That’s the spirit of the time right now. The young people want to live in a free society, and they are willing to sacrifice their lives for it,” Kacey Wong Kwok-choi says.

    Interesting that LFOD is more accurately grasped in Hong Kong than in Austin.


Last Modified 2019-07-25 3:47 PM EDT