URLs du Jour

2020-07-13

[Amazon Link]

  • Michael Brendan Dougherty observes at National Reivew that Empty Slogans Dominate American Politics. He takes aim specifically at…

    The two most powerful political slogans of our era are “Make America Great Again”, and “Black Lives Matter.” Both of them, once uttered, seemed to invite immediate, obvious, simple-minded rejoinders. “America is already great,” say Trump’s opponents. “All Lives Matter,” say those who are made uncomfortable by the hint of exclusion in BLM. But for the initiated, the rejoinders almost prove the necessity of repeating the slogan.

    In other words, the genius of both phrases is that they are self-authenticating.

    When pundits and think-tankers shout back “America is already great,” they confirm that they were servants for the winners of the last 30 years of American politics. Trump’s signature mantra is aimed directly at the places that have lost their manufacturing jobs to Mexico or China, the places that suddenly have a major drug problem or an abundance of unemployed middle-aged men, the places where life expectancy is going down and confidence in the next generation doing better than the last is at an all-time low.

    The people shouting “All Lives Matter” energize anti-racist activists, to whom they seem obtuse. For most of its adherents, “Black Lives Matter” isn’t meant as a slur or slight on non-blacks. It is a cry for attention to problems that uniquely afflict black lives in America. It is a demand for addressing those problems specifically. It is a call for dignity. The black experience in America is unique to blacks. That matters, or at least it should. The very discomfort with acknowledging that of course black lives matter is evidence that the assertion has to be repeated over and over again until people get it.

    Our Amazon Product du Jour comes printed with my favorite slogan. Also acceptable: "I'm wearing this because I want to, not because I have to."


  • Another fine slogan, definitely an LFOD runner-up, is that good old Who song: "[We] Won't Get Fooled Again" Unfortunately, as Mike Gonzalez noted recently in the WSJ: We Might Get Fooled Again.

    Faced with general unrest in the streets, will America’s political, corporate and media leaders panic? Will they acquiesce to bad policies that the nation will regret for decades? You can count on it, because that’s what happened the last time America was convulsed by racially charged riots.

    Some 700 riots shook America between 1965 and 1971, leaving devastation in their wake. Between 1965 and 1968, more than 300 riots left 250 people dead and hundreds of millions of dollars in property damage, according to historian Hugh Davis Graham. The establishment lost its nerve and capitulated. Militants intimidated politicians, college administrators and midlevel bureaucrats into laying the foundation for the identity politics that rankle our lives today.

    It's (slightly) good news that 2020 violence, at least so far, isn't comparable to that seen 50 years ago. But the reflex "solution" of giving money and power to bullshit-peddling hucksters is the same.


  • Speaking of hucksters, Reason's Elizabeth Nolan Brown notes another crusade: After Dems Exaggerate Impact, Panicked Kids Are Suing Over Betsy DeVos Title IX Changes.

    Seven students are joining a National Women's Law Center (NWLC) lawsuit challenging new guidelines related to Title IX, the federal law that prohibits education discrimination on the basis of sex. Some of their stories suggest that Democrats' distorted descriptions of the changes could be doing real damage.

    U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos formally issued the new rules—set to take place August 14—in May 2020, following a massive influx of public comments since she first proposed them back in 2018. But her proposal also ushered in a wave of hyperbolic, misleading, and dishonest claims about what these proposed changes would mean.

    If we assume President Biden, it's virtually certain the New Boss will revert to the same "Dear Colleague" rules as enacted under the Old Boss. And universities who have violated their students' due process rights will be back to the courts attempting to defend the indefensible.


  • In the NYPost, Michael Barone notes The most dishonest, biased news coverage of our lifetimes. And that's a pretty high bar.

    ‘I don’t think I’ve ever seen such dishonest and biased coverage of any event.” That was Brit Hume, who has been covering events for more than 50 years for Fox News, ABC News and investigative reporter Jack Anderson.

    The event was President Trump’s Independence Day speech at Mount Rushmore.

    The speech was, according to The New York Times, “dark and divisive,” designed to deliver a “divisive culture war message.” The Washington Post called it a “dystopian speech” and a “push to amplify racism.”

    Absent from their stories were quotations supporting racism. Nor did Illinois Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth supply any quotations to support her claim that Trump “spent all his time talking about dead traitors.” Trump mentioned no Confederates but did quote the “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

    I don't question Senator Duckworth's patriotism, but her honesty is … I guess typical for our times.


  • I'm reading The Good Cop, a novel by Peter Steiner, Amazon link (currently) over there on the right. Set in 1920s Germany, it's a decent page-turner, but it's also a heavy-handed effort to draw parallels between Trump and Hitler.

    Steiner would have been well advised to consult with George Will on The difference between Trumpism and fascism.

    So many excitable Americans are hurling accusations of fascism, there might be more definitions of “fascism” than there are actual fascists. Fascism, one of the 20th century’s fighting faiths, has only faint echoes in 21st-century America’s political regression.

    Europe’s revolutionary tradition exalted liberty, equality and fraternity until revolutionary fascism sacrificed the first to the second and third. Fascism fancied itself as modernity armed — science translated into machines, especially airplanes, and pure energy restlessly seeking things to smash. Actually, it was a recoil against Enlightenment individualism: the idea that good societies allow reasoning, rights-bearing people to define for themselves the worthy life.

    Individualism, fascists insisted, produces a human dust of deracinated people (Nietzsche’s “the sand of humanity”), whose loneliness and purposelessness could be cured by gusts of charismatic leadership blowing them into vibrant national-cum-tribal collectivities. The gusts were fascist rhetoric, magnified by radio, which in its novelty was a more powerful political tool than television has ever been.

    Mr. Will makes a good point about the convenient elasticity of the word "fascism", echoing a observation made by George Orwell nearly 75 years ago: it "has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies ‘something not desirable’" And I can't help but think that it's gotten way worse since then.

    Trump doesn't appear until the end of Mr. Will's column:

    Donald Trump, an envious acolyte of today’s various strongmen, appeals to those in thrall to country-music manliness: “We’re truck-driving, beer-drinking, big-chested Americans too freedom-loving to let any itsy-bitsy virus make us wear masks.” Trump, however, is a faux nationalist who disdains his nation’s golden age of international leadership and institution-building after 1945.

    Trumpism, too, is a mood masquerading as a doctrine, an entertainment genre based on contempt for its bellowing audiences. Fascism was and is more interesting.

    I'm pretty sure people are already demanding that Mr. Will be cancelled because "he thinks Fascism is interesting."