Quotulatiousness

February 21, 2017

“… let’s face it, triggering rage in a leftist is not a terribly hard thing to do”

Filed under: Liberty, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Jim Geraghty on the “Milo at CPAC” issue:

An observation for everyone bothered or worse at the thought of Yiannopoulos addressing CPAC: Fighting Yiannopoulos with protests and boycotts is like fighting a fire with gasoline. The most salient point Yiannopoulos makes in his shtick is that the Left is intolerant, filled with rage, and incapable of respecting any dissenting view … and campus leftists live down to his portrait, time after time. He has become a big show because he more or less is a walking, talking perpetual threat of a riot, and a big part of this is that he keeps going to places like Berkeley, the places most inclined to respond to provocations through violent outbursts.

It would be an enormous blunder for the Right to make the same mistake. And thankfully, the CPAC crowd is not a rioting crowd.

Perhaps the right measuring stick of Yiannopoulos is, what does he really have to offer an audience of conservative activists when he isn’t being shouted down, attacked, or besieged by riotous Leftists? We on the Right will rightfully instinctively defend anyone threatened by the pincers of a politically correct speech code and the radical mob. Once that threat to free speech is removed … then what?

Are there things Yiannopoulos can teach us to advance the conservative cause, conservative ideas, or conservative policies? Can the methods that get him what he wants be used by others, or are they non-replicable? Does the toolbox of the provocateur really have the kinds of tools useful to those of us who want to build something more lasting and create structural changes – i.e., tax reform, a stronger military, a solution to the opioid addiction crisis, a thriving economy full of innovation and consumer choice, support networks of community and family, etcetera? I’m skeptical, but willing to listen. Let’s hear it.

Yiannopoulos triggers rage in Leftists like no one else in the world today other than Donald Trump, and a lot of folks on the right will cheer that. But let’s face it, triggering rage in a leftist is not a terribly hard thing to do.

Update: Fixed broken link.

February 13, 2017

Whatever it might be, it’s clearly not a “Tea Party of the Left”

Filed under: Media, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

Jazz Shaw on the nascent anti-Trump groups that some in the media are hopefully describing as a progressive version of the Tea Party movement:

What we’re seeing today is almost entirely different [from the Tea Party]. I do not doubt the sincerity of many of the liberal activists expressing their outrage, but the mechanisms being used to engage and coordinate their efforts are both obvious and very different from the early days of the Tea Party. Social media chains erupt on a moments notice directing protesters to show up at town halls, airports, municipal centers or wherever else they may be needed. These “grassroots activists” seem to arrive in large groups, frequently with buses provided, carrying pre-printed professional signage and well orchestrated chants which they read off of their mobile devices like an army of Stepford wives whose programming has run into a critical error loop.

Another key difference is the fact that the Tea Party groups generally had a specific agenda of items in matters of governance which they wish to see changed. They were seeking to throw out the old guard regardless of party affiliation before even beginning a discussion of what the new agenda might be. Conversely, today’s liberal activists seem to have only one thought in mind: finding a way to end the Trump presidency before it even begins. Rather than fighting for change, they are heeding a call from someone – we don’t know who yet – to forcibly roll back the clock and replay the last eight years of the Obama administration.

These activities are certainly newsworthy and I don’t begrudge the media for covering them. But let’s not make a mistake here… this is not the Tea Party. It’s not even remotely similar. This is a finely tuned protest machine, bitter about the recent defeat and seeking to harness friendly forces in the mainstream media to reinforce a daily narrative that the winner of the election as failed before he’s even begun. If there’s any good news on the horizon, it’s the fact that much of the public doesn’t seem to be paying attention, or at least not blindly accepting everything they see on cable news.

January 30, 2017

From the Overton Window to the Overton Bubble

Filed under: Politics, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

John Ringo posted this to Facebook, commenting on an article on the Overton Bubble:

This is seriously esoteric and worth reading (and even rereading bits) til you get it.

I’ll add one thing. An axiom a friend of mine came up with watching the fall of Saddam Hussein.

‘Crazy regimes get crazier under stress.’

The ‘Overton Window’ and that axiom explain everything going on in US politics at the moment.

I’ll add one thing that he missed as a possible end game. One I hadn’t seen until quite recently.

As he noted (deep in the article) the elites within an Overton Bubble occasionally shift conditions of ‘proper thought’ so as to find and exclude those who should not be within the ‘elite’ faction. Thus the occasional purges evident throughout history of ‘elite’ groups.

As the faction comes under greater stress, it shifts more and more, tossing more out into the wilderness.

Thus the whole issue of a ‘woman’s march’ which would only accept women who supported a narrow series of causes but was okay with pro-Islam because: Reasons. (Notably, ‘pro-Islam’ was inside the accepted ‘good’ but ‘it’s okay to be feminine and a strong woman’ types were ‘outside’ the ‘good’.)

So one potential effect I’m starting to see is so many groups who were previously ‘okay’ to the Progressive Elites are being tossed out… their supporters are getting smaller and smaller.

Think about Jim Webb, one of the Democrats who unsuccessfully ran in the Democratic Primary.

Military veteran. Moderate economically. Pro-welfare state. Pro-big government. Believer in Global Warming.

In 2000 he’d have been a viable Democratic candidate.

In 2016, he was worse than Trump.

But he’s actually just fine with most of America.

So the ‘elites’ are making ‘acceptable’ so narrow… they’re doing what the Japanese are demographically. If the Japanese don’t start breeding, hard, soon enough Halsey will be right. Japanese will be spoken only in the afterlife.

If the ‘elites’ keep tossing every group that doesn’t match their current ‘conforming’ form to the wolves…

Pretty soon ‘Progressive’ will be spoken only in hell.

January 26, 2017

How Democrats can recover from the Trumpening

Filed under: Politics, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Megan McArdle says it’s quite possible for the Democrats to come back strongly, but to do it they’ll have to give up some of their recent favourite political toys:

Why are the left’s public demonstrations more impressive than its voter turnout? Because there are a whole lot of Democrats in the large population centers where such demonstrations are generally held. People can join a protest simply by getting on the subway; it’s an easy show of force.

But there are a lot of small towns in America, and as Sean Trende and David Byler recently demonstrated, those small towns are redder than ever. Effectively, the Democratic coalition has self-gerrymandered into a small number of places where they can turn out an impressive number of feet on the ground, but not enough votes to win the House. Certainly not enough to win the Senate or the Electoral College, which both favor sparsely populated states and discount the increasingly dense parts of the nation.

The Senate map in 2018 is brutal for Democrats. If Democrats want to get their mojo back, they’re going to need to do more than get a small minority of voters to turn out for a march. They’re going to need to get back some of those rural votes.

To do that, they’re probably going to have to let go of the most soul-satisfying, brain-melting political theory of the last two decades: that Democrats are inevitably the Party of the Future, guaranteed ownership of the future by an emerging Democratic majority in minority-white America. This theory underlay a lot of Obama’s presidency, and Clinton’s campaign. With President Trump’s inauguration on Friday, we saw the results.

January 15, 2017

How not to be politically persuasive, Hollywood edition

Filed under: Media, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Megan McArdle on the how the actual effect of Meryl Streep’s anti-Trump speech contrasts with her intent, and why:

Well, yes, celebrities are stupid about policy, often breathtakingly so. On the other hand, so is everyone else. You want to hear some really stupid ideas about policy? Grab a group of whip-smart financial wizards, or neurosurgeons, or nuclear physicists, and sit them down for a nice dinner to debate some policy outside their profession. You will find that they are pretty much just as stupid as anyone else, because policy is not about smart. I mean, smart helps. But policy is fundamentally about domain knowledge, and that knowledge is acquired only by spending a great deal of time thinking about a pretty small set of problems. Funnily enough, this is also how one gets good at finance, or neurosurgery, or nuclear physics.

The problem with Hollywood people making political speeches is not that their political ideas are worse than anyone else’s, or that they enjoy sharing their half-baked ideas. This is a minor and forgivable social sin, like arriving five minutes early for a party. No, the problem with Hollywood people making political speeches is that the speeches themselves are bad, at least at their presumed goal of producing political change.

Take Streep. She’s right that Trump should not have made fun of a disabled reporter. However, she surrounded that point with an extended discussion of how mean everyone was being to actors and journalists.

This was a double mistake. First, it accepted Trump’s frame: it’s a handful of liberal elites against the rest of the country. That’s an argument he just won, so it’s unwise to try for an immediate rematch. And second, there is in this whole world no sight less rhetorically compelling than that of successful people with fun and rewarding jobs, and a decent income, complaining that they’re victims of the unglamorous folks who labor at all the strenuously boring work required to make their lives nice. Even I, who have one of those jobs, am rolling my eyes and saying “Good heavens, suck it up.” The only people who don’t recoil from this sort of vacuous self-pity are those similarly situated in elite liberal institutions — but since those folks already hate Trump, you haven’t actually changed anything.

December 18, 2016

Deportations – Strikes – Evacuations I OUT OF THE TRENCHES

Filed under: Europe, History, Military — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 17 Dec 2016

Chair of Wisdom Time!

December 16, 2016

ESR on the “Trump is Hitler!” meme

Filed under: Politics, USA — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

He posted this the other day on Google+:

Reading this [link] put me in mind of a slightly different scenario. So I’m throwing this gauntlet down to anyone who has ever said the “Trump is Hitler” thing.

There are only two possibilities.

One is that you believe what you’re saying. in which case you have a moral duty to find Trump and kill him. With a scoped rifle. With a suicide vest. With hands and teeth. With anything.

The other is that you don’t actually believe Trump is Hitler, but find it advantageous to say so, posturing for demagogic political gain.

If you’re not a liar and a demagogue, why are you not strapping on weapons right now? Put the fuck up or shut the fuck up

December 9, 2016

QotD: Protest-theatre in Alberta

Filed under: Cancon, Media, Politics, Quotations — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

Protest-theatre is a creation of the political left, which uses it in an attempt to endow quotidian political fights with the dignity and importance of genuine popular struggles for fundamental rights. It is designed to endow debates over teacher pensions or hydraulic fracturing with the hysterical romance of revolution. In some cases, it is meant only to show that a movement is numerous enough to make trouble for own its sake.

It is, in other words, a form of cheap stakes-raising, with just a whisper of possible mob violence thrown in. The right, organized in this instance by Ezra Levant’s Rebel Media web-channel, is now borrowing the tactic. This was one of the Copernican political discoveries of the late Trump presidential campaign: a right-wing populist, if Trump is that, can use protest-theatre too.

The “lock her up” chant in Alberta’s capital was a sort of mangled, improvised collective allusion to Trump, whose crowds had chanted this about Hillary Clinton. They did that because Hillary Clinton has done a certain amount of stuff in her long political career that she probably could have been locked up for. I am not aware that this can be said of Premier Notley. She may have done unwise things, and has definitely made some inexplicable political errors, and may even have pursued unethical policies. But she has done it in legally legitimate ways, and her ministry has yet to face a major scandal in the traditional sense — an event that would have a reasonable person asking if the cops should be called.

Colby Cosh, “After the ‘lock her up’ fiasco, it seems Canada is fresh out of grown ups”, National Post, 2016-12-07.

November 22, 2016

ESR – “What if we had a culture war and the other side finally showed up?”

Filed under: Media, Politics, USA — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 03:00

ESR posted this on Google+:

Mike Pence gets lectured from on stage at a Hamilton performance on Friday. This [a Trump supporter disrupting a Chicago performance of Hamilton] happens on Monday.

For decades the Left has been routinely trashing the rules of public decorum in in the name of political theater. Because “woke”, and stuff – anything goes to shatter bourgeois complacency.

Welcome to payback time. Me, I would much rather nobody was doing this kind of public disruption. But if it’s going to happen at all, I’d prefer it to be sufficiently universal and obnoxious that we are all incentivized to rediscover a good old-fashioned principle.

That is this: when you’re in a public space, at an event that isn’t explicitly about politics, keep a lid on yours. You’re not special; neither are the Hamilton cast members, or BLM protesters or any other of the Left’s myrmidons.

Until today I wouldn’t have had to say this sort of thing to conservatives, because conservatives didn’t do things like barging en masse into restaurants yelling political slogans. Now that invisible restraint has been broken. There’ll be more of this, much more, before we find a new social equilibrium.

In the meantime…excuse me, I’ll be over here, laughing my ass off at all the leftists who wax indignant at being given a taste of their own medicine.

Several of my friends on the left posted Facebook updates cheering the Hamilton cast and jeering at Pence. A few of them also posted criticism of the Trump supporter’s actions in Chicago. Once you’ve deliberately broken down the etiquette of public performance, you have no right to decry when your opponents also choose to violate decorum and drag politics into your safe spaces. I agree with ESR that both the Hamilton cast and the Trump guy were wrong to do this, and we’d all be better off if both sides agreed to avoid any further disruptions of this kind … but I don’t expect that to happen.

September 14, 2016

“BLM seems to be stuck in a pointless do-loop of disruption and virtue-signalling”

Filed under: Politics, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Warren Meyer on the attention that the Black Lives Matter movement has drawn, and their apparent problem with deciding on or implementing the next steps:

Well, it appears that Black Lives Matter has moved on to climate activism, or whatever, but has mostly fallen off message on police accountability. Protests in the vague hope of ending racism by closing busy highways and airports and kneeling during the National Anthem are going to get nothing done — the solution to the problems that sparked the BLM movement are to be found in legislative efforts to create better police accountability measures and to roll back a number of egregious protections from accountability that exist in many union contracts. The solution is not to throw blanket hate on police officers, many or most of whom are doing a good job, but to recognize that when we give officers unique powers to use force, they need extra accountability to go with those powers. Today, most police have less accountability for their use of force than you and I do.

Unfortunately, doing that is hard. It is a tough legislative slog that has to go local city by local city, with few national-level shortcuts available. It faces opposition from Conservatives who tend to fetishize police, and from Liberals who are reluctant to challenge a public employees union. And it requires that BLM translate their energy from disruption and attention-grabbing (which they are very good at) to policy and legislation, which they have shown no facility for. They need to be working on model legislation and pushing that down to the local level. This original plan actually looked pretty good, but apparently it has been rejected and gets little or no attention.

As a result, BLM seems to be stuck in a pointless do-loop of disruption and virtue-signalling. I just want to scream at them, “OK, you have our attention — and many of us are sympathetic — what in the hell do you want done?” Unfortunately, their current lists of goals have almost nothing to do with police accountability and appear to be a laundry list of progressive talking points. It appears to be another radical organization that has been jacked by the Democratic establishment to push mainstream Democratic talking points.

Here is a good example, for a number of reasons. In the past, the officer likely would have been believed and the woman might have been convicted of something. I think this happens to people across the racial spectrum, but African-Americans have had a particularly hard time — given both racist perceptions and lack of good counsel — in these he-said-she-said cases with police. Not to mention that African-Americans — for a variety of reasons including racial profiling in things like New York’s stop and frisk program to the tendency of poor black municipalities to fine the crap out of their citizens to generate revenue — come in contact with police disproportionately more often.

June 5, 2016

QotD: The most dangerous man to any government

Filed under: Government, Liberty, Quotations — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 01:00

All government, in its essence, is a conspiracy against the superior man: its one permanent object is to oppress him and cripple him. If it be aristocratic in organization, then it seeks to protect the man who is superior only in law against the man who is superior in fact; if it be democratic, then it seeks to protect the man who is inferior in every way against both. One of its primary functions is to regiment men by force, to make them as much alike as possible and as dependent upon one another as possible, to search out and combat originality among them. All it can see in an original idea is potential change, and hence an invasion of its prerogatives. The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable, and so, if he is romantic, he tries to change it. And even if he is not romantic personally he is very apt to spread discontent among those who are.

H.L. Mencken, The Smart Set, 1919-12.

June 3, 2016

The rising reactionary tide

Filed under: Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Self-described “libertarian sissy” Colby Cosh points out that every action has an equal and opposing reaction, especially in politics and culture:

Those signs are more obvious abroad — in central Europe, for example, where the principle of open borders and unlimited “welcoming” of refugees is colliding with the idea of nation-states as indigenous homes for distinct human collectivities. You would swear, at times, that European politicians were doing their best to revive fascism. There has been a long period of schizoid messaging from the political class, theirs and ours: when it comes to changing the makeup of neighbourhoods or transforming school curriculums, anything is possible. If you wish to preserve a small town, or save an old factory from global competition, or to raise your children in the beliefs you received in childhood, the iris of political possibility swirls shut.

Me, I like neoliberalism and globalization and diversity. It is revolutions and their mentality that I loathe. The liberal crusade, though it is essentially right and good, has a flaw in that it does not relent. It does not rest, and will not give ordinary persons a chance to take credit for what were supposed to have been heroic advancements in decency.

[…]

The “social conservative” side of these arguments gains no peace and receives no mercy when it loses, or even when it surrenders. Every new stage in the liberal jihad is a fresh opportunity for progressives to intimidate and castigate the hopelessly backward; the language and tactics used against those on the wrong side of the line grow ever more contemptuous and supercilious, not less.

Even to suggest that genuine social progress has actually taken place at an unprecedented and accelerating rate — that Western Democracy X is less sexist, less racist, less cruel to its minorities than ever — is to invite recrimination. You’d like to believe that, wouldn’t you, Hitler? Haven’t you seen what’s happening on Twitter?

At some point, inevitably, people will tire of being urged to progress while being told that none has ever happened; and the natural next step is for those people to stop accepting the tacit premises of the aggressive-progressive crusade. You see this happening in what is called the “alt-right” circles of the Internet: we’re backward? We’re blockheads? We’re racist and sexist? Very well, we won’t argue with you anymore: we’ll build our own Backward Blockhead Racist Sexist World. We’ll socialize amongst ourselves; we won’t read your newspapers or watch your television; we won’t live by your social taboos, accept your rules about what facts can be stated and in what terms.

If politics is an endless irrational power struggle between identity groups, we’ll take our own side: game on. This is dangerous, but no “progressive” ever accepts that his own obtuse sense of innate superiority has helped create the conditions for this. It’s called “reaction” for a reason.

February 11, 2016

QotD: Dissing Wal-Mart as a cultural signalling device

Filed under: Business, Economics, Politics, Quotations, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

There’s no sign of it here in Magnolia, Ark., but the boycott season is upon us, and graduates of Princeton and Bryn Mawr are demanding “justice” from Wal-Mart, which is not in the justice business but in the groceries, clothes, and car-batteries business. It is easy to scoff, but I am ready to start taking the social-justice warriors’ insipid rhetoric seriously — as soon as two things happen: First, I want to hear from the Wal-Mart-protesting riffraff a definition of “justice” that is something that does not boil down to “I Get What I Want, Irrespective of Other Concerns.”

Second, I want to turn on the radio and hear Jay-Z boasting about his new Timex.

It is remarkable that Wal-Mart, a company that makes a modest profit margin (typically between 3 percent and 3.5 percent) selling ordinary people ordinary goods at low prices, is the great hate totem for the well-heeled Left, whose best-known celebrity spokesclowns would not be caught so much as downwind from a Supercenter, while at the same time, nobody is out with placards and illiterate slogans and generally risible moral posturing in front of boutiques dealing in Rolex, Prada, Hermès, et al. It’s almost as if there is a motive at work here other than that which is stated by our big-box-bashing friends on the left and their A-list human bullhorns.

What might that be?

Kevin D. Williamson, “Who Boycotts Wal-Mart? Social-justice warriors who are too enlightened to let their poor neighbors pay lower prices”, National Review, 2014-11-30.

February 6, 2016

QotD: The addict’s political worldview

Filed under: Britain, Economics, Politics, Quotations — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

Writing about those rioters who in the summer of 2011 smashed, burned and looted shops across Britain, [Russell] Brand writes that their actions were no worse than the consumerism which he describes as having been “imposed” upon them. And this, I cannot help thinking, is an especially revealing phrase — entirely at one with a popular world view. That view sees “us” as poor victims of forces and temptations which are not only pushed upon us, but to which, when they are pushed upon us long enough, we will inevitably and necessarily succumb. If you are in a “consumerist” society long enough how could you be expected to just not buy crap you can’t afford when you don’t need it? No — the answer must be that of course you will succumb. And from there any bad behaviour — even looting and burning — will be excused because it will be someone else’s fault.

This is the world view of an addict. And the answer to all our society’s problems of the addict Brand is one answer which some addicts seek for their addiction — which is that everyone is to be blamed for their failings except themselves. Grand conspiracy theories and establishment plots offer great promise and comfort to such people. They suggest that when we fail or when we fall we do so never because of any conceivable failing or inability of our own, but because some bastard — any bastard — made us do it, has been planning to do it and perhaps always intended to do so. Of course the one thing missing in all this — the one thing that doesn’t appear in either of these books or in any of their conspiratorial and confused demagogic world view — is the only thing which has saved anyone in the past and the only thing which will save anybody in the future: not perfect societies, perfectly engineered economies and perfectly equal, flattened-out collective-based societies, but human agency alone.

Douglas Murray, “Don’t Listen to Britain’s Designer Demagogues”, Standpoint, 2015-01.

December 4, 2015

The moral wretchedness of BDS

Filed under: Britain, Middle East, Politics — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Brendan O’Neill talks about the anti-Israeli BDS movement:

There are many weird and angry political movements in the 21st-century West. But it’s hard to think of any as ugly, vindictive and packed with prejudice as the Israel-bashing BDS movement.

BDS stands for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. Its backers want every institution, retail outlet and right-minded person in Christendom to refuse to have anything to do with Israel and its apparently wicked wares and people.

They want us to stop buying Israeli produce. To refuse to read books written by Israeli academics. Even to refuse to listen to the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, lest its beautiful music infect our minds and make us think for a dangerous split second that Israel might just be made up of people like us.

The ugliness of BDS was thrown into sharp relief yesterday, when it was revealed that a former Cambridge academic refused to answer a 13-year-old girl’s curious questions because the girl is an Israeli.

Marsha Levine, a supporter of Jews for Justice for Palestinians, is an expert on horses. Israeli schoolgirl Shachar Rabinovitch emailed her to ask her some questions, saying “I know you are a very important person and I’ve read your articles about horses”.

Ms Levine’s response was like something out of a Grimms’ fairytale: an angry woman barking irrationally at an innocent, inquisitive girl who made the mistake of (virtually) knocking on angry woman’s door.

“I’ll answer your questions when there is peace and justice for Palestinians”, she said. “You might be a child, but if you are old enough to write to me, you are old enough to learn about Israeli history and how it has impacted on the lives of Palestinian people.”

And that was it. Ms Levine refused to respond to a schoolgirl’s questions about horses because the schoolgirl lives in a part of the world where there is conflict. Actually, scrap that. She refused to answer the girl’s questions because of the girl’s nationality. Nasty stuff.

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