URLs du Jour

2019-07-29

[Amazon Link]

  • Arthur C. Brooks, at the WaPo wants to let you know: You’re probably making incorrect assumptions about your opposing political party.

    As America slouches toward the 2020 presidential election, candidates and pundits will regularly tell you this about the other political side, followed by a list of its extremist beliefs, twisted motives and wicked desires.

    But do you ever stop and ask how much you really know about the other side? Or whether the outrage industry in politics and media is telling you the truth about your fellow Americans who disagree with you politically? These questions are worth asking, because it turns out most of what we “know” about the other side is wrong.

    Let’s start with how much Republicans and Democrats actually know about the lives of people on the other side. The authors of a 2017 study in the Journal of Politics revealed that the average Democrat believes that more than 40 percent of Republicans earn more than $250,000 per year. Meanwhile, Republicans believe that nearly 40 percent of Democrats are LGBTQ. How close are these estimates to reality? Not very. Just 2 percent of Republicans are doing that well financially, and just 6 percent of Democrats are LGBTQ. 

    Well… I'm thinking that people might be equally ignorant about their own parties. Because when you do polling like this, the answers are invariably wildly off the mark about everything.

    But Arthur's right that politicians exploit this ignorance. "They play to stereotypes by saying (or tweeting) radical things to fire up fringe-view supporters, who are numerically small but powerful in primaries. Or they tell their supporters that the other side is all a bunch of extremist kooks." On target, Arthur.

    I am not sure how Arthur's "Love Your Enemies" advice works out with politicians who behave so contemptibly.


  • There's a couple of debates coming up this week! You would have to pay me serious money to watch! But I might, if I were promised that candidates would be asked George F. Will's Serious questions for the Democratic candidates. Sample:

    For Gillibrand: When Nike, buckling beneath the disapproval of a former NFL quarterback, withdrew its line of sneakers adorned with the 13-star Betsy Ross flag, you said that Nike was right to "admit when they are wrong." Presumably, then, you agree with the quarterback, who said why Nike was wrong: Because of the flag's connection to an era of slavery. So, Senator, should Americans "admit when they are wrong" when they sing the National Anthem, which was written in 1814?

    Presumably the Fort McHenry flag is acceptable, since it doesn't have its stars in the evil Betsy Ross circle.


  • I'm in the process of reading Kevin D. Williamson's new book, The Smallest Minority. (Buy it! Use the over there in the righthand column!) He has followup thoughts at National Review Social Media’s Empty, Performative Outrage.

    On Friday, Joe Scarborough had me on Morning Joe and gave me a really generous amount of time. (Thanks for that.) It is always a little surreal to be identified as the controversial one at the table when I am seated next to the Reverend Al Sharpton. L’esprit de l’escalier: I wish I had turned to the Reverend Sharpton and asked: “Can you think of anybody who has said anything controversial but remains entirely welcome in so-called liberal media circles?” But I didn’t, which is why I am a writer rather than a television host.

    Naturally, Twitter went ape after my appearance, which is the nature of Twitter, a place where people go to behave like chimps. (I do not exempt myself from that; social media never brought out the best in me, either, and my decision to stop using it is right up there with going to bed at 9:30 p.m. on the very short list of good choices I have made about my daily routine.) The usual banality and dishonesty were intensified this time around with the help of NARAL, which sent out a tweet claiming that I’d gone on Morning Joe and said some outrageous things about abortion and capital punishment, two subjects which did not in fact come up at all. (Here is the video. For those of you interested in my views on those subjects, here is an account of them I wrote for the Washington Post.) NARAL is of course not known for its honesty — it is a shill for the abortion industry that cannot even bear to keep the word “abortion” in its name — and neither are the rage-monkeys on Twitter.

    I, for one, would love to see a debate between Arthur C. Brooks and Kevin D. Williamson on the general topic of loving thy enemies. Because Kevin clearly doesn't. And I find it difficult to criticize him for that.


  • Jeff Jacoby writes on The sheer ingratitude of Dennis Prager.

    Considering how often Prager has written and spoken about the importance of gratitude, he might be expected to brim with appreciation for YouTube. In one of his videos (985,000 YouTube views), Prager describes gratitude as having an "almost magical" power to improve human society. "Almost everything good flows from gratitude," he says, "and almost everything bad flows from ingratitude."

    Prager's gratitude for YouTube, without which PragerU would never have achieved such spectacular success, should be boundless. If he practices what he preaches, Prager should regularly express his thanks to YouTube — and to Google, its parent company — for providing him and his ideas the biggest audience of his career.

    Ah, but he doesn't practice what he preaches. Rather than voice appreciation for YouTube and Google, he accuses them of censorship.

    Jeff makes a strong case that Prager's outrage is overblown and dishonest. Maybe. On the other hand, Jeff also mentions that his gripes about Google/YouTube's "objectivity or transparency" may be legit.


  • And you might be impressed and enchanted by Character Routing Maps of Famous Films. And you might see how big a geek you are by identifying the movies by their routing maps alone. Not that hard.