URLs du Jour

2021-05-03

  • I Miss Wimpy. But Mr. Ramirez puts him to good use: Moocher In Chief.

    [Moocher in Chief]

    I suppose a lot of young 'uns (by which I mean people under 70) won't get the reference, but that's OK. Wimpy info is here.


  • If You Prefer Your Bad News To Be Textual Chris Stirewalt will provide it The Era of Big Government is Here.

    The best way to gauge the success of American political movements is not by the depth to which they shape their native party, but the breadth to which they extend into the opposing side.

    By that standard, the American conservative movement hit its lowest ebb in generations last week. Its success was so towering 25 years ago that Democratic President Bill Clinton embraced smaller government, free trade, welfare reform and fiscal discipline. Conservatism’s failure now is so abject that not only has a new Democratic president repudiated those concepts in his first address to Congress, but the Republican Party that for decades made itself synonymous with the conservative movement also increasingly rejects its core tenets. The tidal shift toward big, activist, progressive government that began even before the financial crisis of 2008 has washed over both parties and left conservatism lost at sea.

    Stirewalt recalls that famous Clinton quote: "The era of big government is over." Wrong again, Bill.


  • In Our "Unfortunate Relevance" Department… I recently finished Rod Dreher's new book, Live Not by Lies: A Manual for Christian Dissidents. It was one of those "wish I liked it better" books. I liked this essay from James Lindsay better, inspired by the same person inspiring Dreher, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: A Manifesto for the Based.

    When Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wrote in The Gulag Archipelago, “Let the lie come into the world. Let it even triumph. But not through me,” that was based. Not participating in transparent lies or mass delusion is based. Doing so against the madness of the following crowd is based. Nearly everything that it means to be based is either contained within or predicated upon this one trait of character.

    Solzhenitsyn wrote those words as a result of his observations living in what may have been the most brutal tyranny of human history: Stalin’s USSR. That simplest of refusals—the refusal to lie on command, or even to fit in—is, in the end, the summary of his observations of what kind of people had what it took to resist a totalitarian regime. Keeping your head down while you hope the unconscionable blows over, say, so you can keep your job but none of your dignity, is not based.

    I recommend Solzhenitsyn's essay "Live Not By Lies". I also can't resist quoting Lindsay's final paragraph:

    Freedom is ours for the taking. The lies are coming into the world, and, for the moment, they have begun to triumph. Lord, though, are they funny. Being based is little more, then, than a laughing refusal to be pushed around by the preposterous. It’s a refusal to go along with the crowd when the crowd has gone mad. While many people seem to realize that there is some problem, only the based realize not only that its safer and healthier to break away, but that it’s also hilarious. The based aren’t about to live by ridiculous lies because they’ll be too busy laughing the bottom out from under them.

    Optimistic! I hope he's right. ("It's all fun and games until someone loses their job… oh, wait.")


  • At The Knees, Or Maybe Higher. John Ellis, writing in the probably-paywalled WSJ says Sorry, Professor, We’re Cutting You Off.

    An advanced society functions by creating a series of institutions, telling them what it wants them to do, and funding them to do it. Institutions like the police, fire departments, courts and schools do the jobs society creates them to do. But one American institution—higher education—has decided to repurpose itself. It has set aside the job given to it by society and substituted a different one.

    Higher education had a cluster of related purposes in society. Everyone benefited from the new knowledge it developed and the well-informed, thoughtful citizenry it produced. Individual students benefited from the preparation they received for careers in a developed economy. Yet these days, academia has decided that its primary purpose is the promotion of a radical political ideology, to which it gives the sunny label “social justice.”

    That’s an enormous detour from the institutional mission granted to higher education by society—and a problem of grave consequence. For the purpose that academia has now given itself happens to be the only one that the founding documents of virtually all colleges and universities take care to forbid pre-emptively. The framers of those documents understood that using the campuses to promote political ideologies would destroy their institutions, because ideologies would always be rigid enough to prevent the exploration of new ideas and the free exercise of thought. They knew that the two purposes—academic and political—aren’t simply different, but polar opposites. They can’t coexist because the one erases the other.

    Professor (Emeritus) Ellis suggests withholding the bucks. Parents, send your kids to unwoke schools; governments, start cutting back on blank-check funding.


  • In Our "Good Advice" Department… Bari Weiss suggests a simple strategy. Believe Science: Get Vaccinated. Then Relax. (At Pun Salad Manor, it's mostly "mission accomplished", except for Mrs. Salad, who is constitutionally unable to relax.)

    Bari notes (with illustrative video clips): "It feels as if we are stuck between two deranged and morally confused options."

    No, you do not need to wear a mask, let alone two, when you are a vaccinated person outside jogging. As a rule of thumb, you are incredibly unlikely (it’s almost impossible) to get Covid-19 outside in open, uncrowded spaces. There are very rare exceptions, like standing in a very tight circle and singing loudly with other people for hours. Going for a solo run in a park is not among them.

    And no, you absolutely should not call the police or Child Protective Services on parents who still mask their children anymore than you would call the police or Child Protective Services on a child who is wearing elbow-pads while they are running. You might think it’s unnecessary, excessive and a sign of helicopter parenting. It probably is. Here’s what you can do instead: Mind your own business.

    Especially note Bari's last bit of advice: "You’re not crazy: the public messaging on this has been a disaster."


  • I'll Clear It Up Further. John Hinderaker says he's Glad They Cleared That Up. What? Quoting the entire article:

    The Rochester, Minnesota, school board has declared “Black Lives Matter” to be “government speech.” I always suspected something of the sort, but it is nice to see it made official:

    The Rochester Public Schools board voted unanimously Tuesday evening to make several phrases and images, including “Black Lives Matter,” government speech, meaning the school can’t be held liable for allowing those views while not allowing opposing views.

    Got that? Dissent from the “Black Lives Matter” orthodoxy will not be permitted. The government says so. Several other phrases have been declared “government speech” as well:

    [I]n Rochester schools, speech concerning “Brown lives matter,” “Indigenous lives matter, “Stop Asian hate”, as well as the pride flag, are now all declared official government speech.

    I have to say that the concept of “government speech” is a new one on me. It is quite a few years now since I studied the First Amendment, but the idea of declaring an idea to be “government speech” so as to prohibit anything counter to it seems a bit sinister.

    Well, "Government Speech" is a thing. There's even a Wikipedia article.

    And the interesting thing about that is:

    The doctrine was implied in Wooley v. Maynard in 1977, when the Supreme Court acknowledged a legitimate government interest in communicating an official, ideologically partial message to the public.

    If that case sounds familiar, it's the one where NH resident George Maynard objected to the "Live Free or Die" slogan on his state-issued license plate (there's your "government speech"), taping it over. Which was illegal at the time. (Irony alert.) In a 6-3 decision, Maynard got off.

    So, contra Hinderaker, dissent against "government speech" is permitted; if anyone disagrees, send them to the Wooley v. Maynard decision.

    It's that "government" need not air dissenting opinions itself. E.g., New Hampshire doesn't need to provide alternate-slogan plates saying (for example) "Submit to Authority, Sheeple".

    So Rochester's school board probably on solid legal ground. That doesn't make their speech less odious, it's just permitted.