Introduction

Whigout.com is a place to discuss the future of the Republican party, conservatism, libertarianism (a.k.a. classical liberalism), traditionalism, and the other important values that the party has furthered in the past, such as competent, effective government.

As a culturally traditional, pragmatic libertarian, I want a government that does less but does it well. "Energetic" government, as Hamilton used to say. I think that the major legitimate purpose of government is collective self-defense: against foreign attackers, violent criminals, and even infectious diseases and natural disasters. (And in law school, in first-year torts and second-year criminal law, you learn that there are already well-developed common-law standards for how and when it's OK to act in "substituted self-defense", i.e., defending someone else. You can only do things the person you're defending would be allowed to do in the situation.)  

Another vital purpose, but not the fundamental justification, of government is to maintain the legal system, to maintain the common law and amend it by statute or case law as circumstances change, so that people interacting with one another will have a stable, comprehensible understanding of their rights and duties; to provide for the enforcement of contracts and remedies for the injuries people sometimes inflict on each other. But there are other roles that government has assumed, and some of them cannot be abandoned overnight without civil society setting up something to take their place.

The response to Hurricane Katrina, the failure to plan for what we used to think was the aftermath of the Iraq war, and other missteps, made me wonder whether the Bush Administration or indeed any Republican administration could govern effectively and lead the country. Maybe the Clinton administration had been even more incompetent, but at least they knew how to look like they cared about what was most important to the American people, and they had the media to help them give that impression.

All this makes me wonder whether people like me should try to make the Libertarians or some other middle-way party (like Israel’s Kadima party or the Modern Whig Party) viable, go back to trying to be a centrist Democrat, or stay Republican, and if so, what kind of fundamental changes to seek in that party.

I understand the practical challenges and dismal history of attempts to launch a third party or replace the second party in a two-party system.  Replacing the Federalists with the National Republicans and Whigs involved an eight-year “Era of Good Feeling”, an uncontested presidential election in 1820, one between four factions of Democrats in 1824, and the Democrats winning the popular vote every time from 1800 to 1836. Replacing the Whigs with the Republicans only happened because both major parties fractured over the slavery question, and the Democrats lost because they fractured more evenly than the former Whigs.

I hope this blog will include many and diverse voices. I look forward to seeing your comments.

- John Crouch (November, 2008)


Ike: "To preserve his freedom of worship, his equality before law, his liberty to speak and act as he sees fit," a Briton or an American "will fight."

 
 

From Eisenhower's speech at the London Guildhall, June 12, 1945

Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. XI, pp. 549-550.


Democrats challenge Ohio electoral votes -- Move delays official certification of presidential election

(Pasting this CNN story here just in case it disappears off the rest of the internet)

Democrats challenge Ohio electoral votes

Move delays official certification of presidential election

Thursday, January 6, 2005 Posted: 7:08 PM EST (0008 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Alleging widespread "irregularities" on Election Day, a group of Democrats in Congress objected Thursday to the counting of Ohio's 20 electoral votes, delaying the official certification of the 2004 presidential election results.

The move was not designed to overturn the re-election of President Bush, said Ohio Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones and California Sen. Barbara Boxer, who filed the objection.

The objecting Democrats, most of whom are House members, said they wanted to draw attention to the need for aggressive election reform in the wake of what they said were widespread voter problems.

In a letter to congressional leaders Wednesday, members of the group said they would take the action because a new report by Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee found "numerous, serious election irregularities," particularly in Ohio, that led to "a significant disenfranchisement of voters."

"How can we possibly tell millions of Americans who registered to vote, who came to the polls in record numbers, particularly our young people ... to simply get over it and move on?" Tubbs Jones told reporters.

The House of Representatives and Senate met Thursday afternoon in a constitutionally mandated session to count the electoral votes. Vice President Dick Cheney, in his role as president of the Senate, presided over the session.

The results from each state, read in alphabetical order, were ticked through quickly until Ohio was called, and a clerk read the letter of objection from Boxer and Tubbs Jones.

Cheney then ordered the lawmakers back to their respective chambers for two hours of debate on the merits of the challenge.

It is only the second such challenge since the current rules for counting electoral votes were established in 1877. The last was in 1969 and it concerned a so-called "faithless elector," according to congressional researchers.

Four years ago, after the disputed election results in Florida, members of the Congressional Black Caucus attempted to block Florida's electoral votes from being counted.

In a scene recalled in Michael Moore's movie "Fahrenheit 9/11," lawmaker after lawmaker was gaveled down by Vice President Al Gore because no senator would support the objections, as the law requires.

House Democrats involved in this year's protest worked for weeks to enlist the support of a senator in their party, and Boxer agreed to join the effort Wednesday.

"This is my opening shot to be able to focus the light of truth on these terrible problems in the electoral system," Boxer told a press conference.

"While we have men and women dying to bring democracy abroad, we've got to make it the best it can be here at home, and that's why I'm doing this."

If one member of each body of Congress objects, congressional rules require that lawmakers return to their chambers to vote on the merits.

A simple majority vote in each chamber would overturn the challenge -- something that should be easily achieved in the GOP-controlled Congress.

Republicans dismissed the effort as a stunt, noting that specific allegations of voting problems in Ohio have been investigated by journalists and, the Republicans said, found to be untrue.

"But apparently, some Democrats only want to gripe about counts, recounts, and recounts of recounts," said Rep. Deborah Pryce, an Ohio Republican.

"So eager are they to abandon their job as public servants, they have cast themselves in the role of Michael Moore, concocting wild conspiracy theories to distract the American public."

White House press secretary Scott McClellan dismissed the challenge as "partisan politics."

"The election is behind us," he said. "The American people now expect their leaders in Washington to focus on the big priorities facing this country."

Sen. John Kerry, the Democratic nominee for president, released a letter Wednesday saying he would not take part in the protest.

"Our legal teams on the ground have found no evidence that would change the outcome of the election," Kerry said.

Bush carried Ohio by more than 118,000 votes -- the Buckeye State win providing the margin of victory in the Electoral College race. The president received 286 to Kerry's 252 electoral votes.

"There are very troubling questions that have not yet been answered by Ohio election officials," the senator from Massachusetts said.

"In the coming months I will present a national proposal to ensure transparency and accountability in our voting process."

Kerry was not on hand Thursday. He is in Iraq to thank U.S. troops for their service.

CNN's Ted Barrett contributed to this report.

 


What's the continuing attraction of communism? Real, actionable answers only, not feel-good ones.

From a discussion on the Heterodox Forum started by John Faithful Hamer:

John Faithful Hamer: WHY IS COMMUNISM STILL COOL?: “Why is it still acceptable to regard the Marxist doctrine as essentially accurate in its diagnosis of the ­hypothetical evils of the free-­market, democratic West; to still consider that doctrine ‘progressive’ and fit for the compassionate and proper thinking person? Twenty-five million dead through internal repression in the Soviet Union (according to The Black Book of Communism). Sixty million dead in Mao’s China (and an all-too-likely return to autocratic oppression in that country in the near future). The horrors of Cambodia’s killing fields, with their two million corpses. The barely animate body politic of Cuba, where people struggle even now to feed themselves. Venezuela, where it has now been made illegal to attribute a child’s death in hospital to starvation. No political ­experi­ment has ever been tried so widely, with so many disparate people, in so many different countries (with such different histories) and failed so absolutely and so catastrophically.”—Jordan B Peterson, preface to the new edition of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago (2018)


Questions like this call for real answers, not comforting ones -- they need steel-manning. (Did you coin that term, John?)
Simple. Communism offers righteous struggle. The ideologies of liberal democracies do not.
(And it is STILL cool, because the struggle it proposes burns on beyond it's regularly updated objectives, until everything has been consumed by it)
Quentin Montagne
 Reminds me of Orwell's 1940 review of MK:
"He has grasped the falsity of the hedonistic attitude to life. Nearly all western thought since the last war, certainly all ‘progressive’ thought, has assumed tacitly that human beings desire nothing beyond ease, security, and avoidance of pain. In such a view of life, there is no room, for instance, for patriotism and the military virtues. The Socialist who finds his children playing with soldiers is usually upset, but he is never able to think of a substitute for the tin soldiers; tin pacifists somehow won’t do. Hitler, because in his own joyless mind he feels it with exceptional strength, knows that human beings don’t only want comfort, safety, short working-hours, hygiene, birth-control and, in general, common sense; they also, at least intermittently, want struggle and self-sacrifice, not to mention drums, flags, and loyalty-parades. However they may be as economic theories, Fascism and Nazism are psychologically far sounder than any hedonistic conception of life. The same is probably true of Stalin’s militarized version of Socialism. All three of the great dictators have enhanced their power by imposing intolerable burdens on their peoples. Whereas Socialism, and even capitalism in a more grudging way, have said to people ‘I offer you a good time,’ Hitler has said to them ‘I offer you struggle, danger and death,’ and as a result, a whole nation flings itself at his feet."
Obviously Orwell is talking about fascism here, but he even says the same thing applies to socialism.

Hard pill to swallow: Because the core values of Communism overlap a lot more with the core values as well as vectors of Liberalism than any Liberal (which includes JBP, whether it is prefaced by "classical" or not) would ever care to admit.
The general explanations which are echoed above (no true Scotsman, teachers' conspiracy, ignoring economics, overemphasis on Utopia etc.) are pertaining to the methods by which sympathizers wash Communism's feet and present it in a good light. This however, does not explain the pervasiveness of the ideology- so much so that it has not only survived its incarnation in the USSR, but some might argue it currently thrives, albeit under different guises - as well as the extremely high degree of acceptance it receives in the West, especially among highly educated elites. Why is the same not happening to even a remotely similar degree to Fascism which everyone (all Liberal, be it of the "classical", libertarian or socialist persuasion) agrees is pure evil despite having killed far fewer people, if we go strictly by the numbers (in a purely Utilitarian fashion)? After all, the Fascist ideology also has about 1000 years of Utopia in store for everyone on board with its tenets. Fascism glorified elites to the expense of everyone else. Fascism also doesn't require extensive reading of economy or history to grasp its core tenets. Shouldn't elites at least love an ideology glorifying elites? Apparently, no. Why?
Simply put, because the core tenets of Fascism are at odds with both the core tenets as well as opposed to the vectors of Liberalism, while the Communist ones are not. This is why so many "wide eyed idiot youths with no knowledge of history or economics" gobble up Communist ideals, because they are simply an extension of the oppression-fighting egalitarian-seeking society that their (classical?) Liberal great-great-grandfathers fought to create. The same ideals they are taught ever since they can walk that are good and just and true. That men are all (created? What happens if we remove the God that creates?) equal, that each person should be free from oppression, that everyone should fight tyranny, that all systems of government that centralize power in the hands of the few (or a single person, even worse) are pure evil because power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. These are all normal values which are to be expected in a largely Liberal society.
Communism only overly exaggerates the egalitarian aspect which it deems the only true moral aspect to the detriment of the libertarian aspect of liberalism which is thrown down the wayside because it is seen as both selfish and elitist - both epithets associated with the tyrannical monarchy and the plutocratic aristocracy which Liberals, again, fought so hard to overturn a couple centuries ago. This also, partly, explains why Liberal elites try so hard to appear as if they are anything but elites.
This isn't a value oriented comment, it simply seeks to answer the original question: Why is communism still cool? In my view, try its hardest, liberalism cannot shake Marx's grim prediction: That it will inevitably lead to Communism or at least something very similar. The core liberal values are certainly pointing towards that direction if stretched towards a puritanically egalitarian extreme.

By appealing to unselfishness , vanity and ego.

This isn't all that difficult to answer. Now before anyone starts frothing at the mouth, Stalin and Mao killed more people than Hitler; the following is not a defense of communism as practiced in history or today.
The THEORY of communism is actually quite attractive to people who desire a caring more egalitarian society. "Let's govern ourselves in a manner that is egalitarian and flat structured where everyone gets a voice and is respected. Let's ensure everyone is cared for, valued and can live decently with proper housing food and clothing."
There is nothing wrong to preferring that ideal society to an individualist, capitalist, winner take all and devil take the hindmost society.
Please refrain from citing Pol Pot's killing Fields, Mao's great leap forward or the Holomodor under Stalin -- I am aware.
It is normal for idealistic young people (and old ones) to look at our western capitalist societies and yearn for a more humane system that helps everyone flourish not just the richest/most powerful/most able/most successful. A system that also crushes huge swathes of the population.
The problem with THEORETICAL communism is it doesn't account for human nature and communism in practice and in history.
And yet, there are instances of communist movements (which were in fact more socialist) in the developing world that did in fact increase education, literacy, women's equality and ability to learn and work while also combating government corruption. Such movements sent bright young village girls in Indonesia to the Sorbonne in Paris to study at University. It's not ALL a human rights disaster. But US foreign policy was to snuff out those political parties by any means necessary during the 1950s and 1960s - even if it meant funding and arming foreign regimes and militaries that would ruthlessly kill and disappear tens of thousands of people in mass terror operations. Who knows whether Indonesia wouldn't have been better off as a secular socialist democracy rather than living through the brutal Suharto regime and a current government now under the sway of Islamists? [Source:. The Jakarta Method, Vincent Bevins]

In my limited experience, the main driver, keeping people on board who otherwise should know better, is the belief that wealthy, privileged interest groups are actually waging an ongoing war against the rest of us, actually killing people sometimes with direct violence, other times by disease, famine, impoverishment, disenfranchisement ... . For most people, when you're in an actual war, the values of democracy and civil liberties become secondary, command and obedience are necessary as a matter of life and death, and you evaluate everything primarily by how you think it affects the war.

I think people inherently want an easy way out. Thats why fad diets and get rich quick schemes work so well.

Intrinsic theories of values and peoples general acceptance of altruism and self sacrifice as some kind of moral standard are the main reasons.

I've always heard that Communism works great in India's Christian state, Kerala, and that it's been Communist ever since independence. That may be a cruel myth, but it's worth checking out.
Then check it out and let us know.
OK, it looks like they are officially communists, but in practice, they're a shining example of truly democratic socialism. And in politics, as distinct from economics or culture, they're liberal. It's hard to say if their economic model works in the very long run, because it's so interconnected with the rest of the world -- people get great educations and then earn their livings in the Gulf, the UK, the US ... . But it's hard to say if any real-life economic model works in the very long run, if it has one. (And personally I'm a hard-core libertarian.):

Libertarians -- Not Utopians, Not Cynics

[Letter to the Editor published in Washington Post ca. Dec. 11, 1993. I was at a conference of libertarians near Washington on the day it was published, but none of them mentioned it to me.]

There is no factual basis for E. J. Dionne's charge that libertarians are "utopians." ["Libertarian Lure," op-ed, Dec. 6] It is an easy label to slap on anyone, and Dionne will get away with it because few readers are familiar with us, but no one who has even glanced at our publications could believe that we ignore "messy realities." Most libertarians think that because reality is so irremediably messy, voluntary cooperation under a strong, impartial common law system is the most practical, flexible way to deal with it. Unprovoked threats, force and extortion tend to have socially mischievous effects, and we think it is foolish to expect better results when well-intentioned governments use them than when private citizens do.

Unlike utopians, we don't hope to transform humans into angels or to make them cogs in some wonderful new system. We simply want governments to stop doing harm, and to let society manage its own problems by lawful means. Human societies have always had ways of looking out for children and old people, helping the poor and making people be responsible. For example, to adapt to the massive changes of the late 19th century, all sorts of voluntary mutual help groups, insurance and pension funds developed. Governments supplanted these (and outlawed some) not because they failed, but because of a Utopian faith in technocrats and large monopolies.

It will take a few years for society to wean itself from government, because much of its immune system, its shock absorbers, its lubrication, its ability to adjust, has been taxed and regulated away. As Meng-tzu observed 2200 years ago, "When taxes exceed 10 percent, the very old and the very young are rolled into canals and drainage ditches." It's especially hard to be generous and tolerant when nothing we own is secure, and everything is up for grabs by one political faction or another.

It seems that when libertarians aren't being called utopian or euphoric, we're accused of being cynics. Actually, we are squarely in the middle on the question of human goodness: we believe that people are pretty much good enough to govern themselves, but not good enough to govern each other very much. That is the view of human nature upon which America's system of government is founded.

John Crouch
Williamsburg, Va.


Before "rights," the invention of "we," "mine," and "not" made us human -- Bart Wilson

Book Interview: The Property Species: Mine, Yours, and the Human Mind

"In his new book The Property Species, Chapman University law professor Bart Wilson offers a strikingly original look at the origin and meaning of private property.  Unlike scholars who argue that property is a 'social construct,' Wilson argues that property is a deeply and uniquely human practice.  Incorporating insights from history, linguistics, law, and his own laboratory experiments, Wilson illuminates the means by which our ideas of private property originate and gain their moral and legal force.   In this conversation our Teleforum will examine how the institution of private property marks human beings as 'the property species.'" LISTEN


How the Left-Right Divide Can Help Society Improve

"Haidt isn’t just scolding liberals, however. He sees the left and right as yin and yang, each contributing insights to which the other should listen. In his view, for instance, liberals can teach conservatives to recognize and constrain predation by entrenched interests. Haidt believes in the power of reason, but the reasoning has to be interactive. It has to be other people’s reason engaging yours. We’re lousy at challenging our own beliefs, but we’re good at challenging each other’s. Haidt compares us to neurons in a giant brain, capable of “producing good reasoning as an emergent property of the social system.” Our task, then, is to organize society so that reason and intuition interact in healthy ways.

"... You don’t have to believe in God to see this higher capacity as part of our nature. You just have to believe in evolution. Evolution itself has evolved: as humans became increasingly social, the struggle for survival, mating and progeny depended less on physical abilities and more on social abilities. In this way, a faculty produced by evolution — sociality — became the new engine of evolution. Why can’t reason do the same thing? Why can’t it emerge from its evolutionary origins as a spin doctor to become the new medium in which humans compete, cooperate and advance the fitness of their communities?"

-- "Why Won’t They Listen?" by


Longtime ACLU leader champions the right to donate anonymously and bigly in politics:

... Philanthropy: Do you consider private giving a form of free speech? 

Strossen: Absolutely. And, much more importantly, so does the U.S. Supreme Court! In philanthropy, as well as in campaign contributions, what the court has held is that whether it’s on behalf of charitable assistance, some social-justice movement, a policy cause, a political candidate, a publishing platform, whatever, if the government says, “You may only spend X amount of money, and not more than that,” it is limiting your ability to convey your message effectively.

Philanthropy: Do you think donors have a right to be private or anonymous in their giving?

Strossen: Absolutely. And the Supreme Court supported this, interestingly enough, in a case that involved a corporation. Corporations include not just businesses but also nonprofits and other groups where individuals band together. But some critics dislike corporations and ask why they should have free speech, why they should they have the right to spend money in support of their ideas. The Supreme Court, though, has recognized both of those rights, and the right of incorporated groups to do their work anonymously. This came together in a historic case in 1958, involving a corporation some people considered disreputable—the NAACP. Like most other social-justice organizations, like most public-interest organizations all across the ideological spectrum, the NAACP is organized as a not-for-profit corporation.

Back in 1958, Southern governments were upset with the NAACP’s crusade against racial segregation, and they used whatever tools they could to try to stop the NAACP. One of their most potent threats was to require the NAACP to turn over lists of its members and donors. The Supreme Court recognized that if people had to reveal their identities, they would be exposed to hostility from critics, and many of them would have to end their support of the NAACP. If the court had not protected donor anonymity, NAACP and its civil-rights causes would have been completely undermined if not destroyed.

. . . 

Philanthropy: One argument in your book is that when speech rights are curtailed, even on behalf of a vulnerable population, the vulnerable end up suffering for it.

Strossen: Yes. If you allow restrictions on speech where there are sharp differences in viewpoint, then of course over time it’s predictable those who are likeliest to be silenced are marginalized groups. That is exactly the pattern that we’ve seen throughout history and around the world. 

It seems ironic to me that those who support censoring hate speech usually start with the premise that there is overwhelming oppression built into our society—systemic injustice. Well, if they are right, the last thing they should want is to hand over to our government more discretionary powers to discriminate. 

Philanthropy: There was a hearing on Capitol Hill last year titled “How the Tax Code Subsidizes Hate,” asking if “hate groups” should have their charitable status revoked.

Strossen: One person’s hate group is somebody else’s love group. Black Lives Matter has been labeled a hate group. The Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled as hate groups people who just have a different perspective from the Southern Poverty Law Center. 

One organization I’m very familiar with is the Alliance Defending Freedom. ADF has been on the opposite side of the ACLU in many cases, and we could not disagree more strongly on some key issues. But I oppose their being labeled as a hate group. The idea of the IRS having the power to label hate groups is really frightening. It’s giving the government the power to suppress citizen action on the basis of ideological agreement or disagreement, which is really, really frightening.

"Interview with Nadine Strossen," Philanthropy, Fall 2020


Why are liberals liberal?

I don't think it makes sense to trace a single psychological/character/personality trait as the cause of political beliefs. How do you like it when they do that to us?

Progressives have a lot of notions in common, but they can arrive at them for various personal and environmental reasons, including that that's what the people around them and raising them believed. The most common thread seems to be a belief that sublime, transcendent abstract entities like "society" or "the international community" are not merely metaphoric tools for describing people's interactions, but are actually more real and more important than real live individuals; that these abstractions have more agency and authority than all individuals put together.

This is supported by the common sayings, valid in some ways and dangerously wrong in others, that things are "greater than the sum of their parts," and that people should live for "something larger than themselves."

A contempt for individuality, for individual rights and responsibilities, is more a result of this than a cause, and for some liberals it presents an irrepressible conflict with other truly liberal beliefs that they have drawn from their patriotism, religion, or just from being thinking and humane people. That's the stage I was at for a while, when I didn't know anything about economics, but I could tell that the government wielding economic power over people would constrain their political freedom.

-- John Crouch, responding to the great Robert Bidinotto, who wrote:

UNDERSTANDING THE LEFT. After nearly six decades of direct experience, observation, and study, I have come to some firm conclusions about the ideological left (as opposed to those "liberals" who are simply compassionate toward others). I think it all revolves around the left's war on self-responsibility. They HATE that concept. In their worldview, if you create something good in the world, "You didn't build that"; but if you do something bad, "You couldn't help it." Either way, they HATE the notion that anyone (meaning: themselves) should be held accountable for their status in life. ... Ideological leftism is all, only, and *always* about advancing the Narrative of Personal Irresponsibility. It is the morality play that holds individuals responsible for every other man, woman, child, tree, plant, animal, or degree of temperature on the planet...but not for *themselves* as individuals.

 


To See How "Hate Speech" Came to Mean "Speech People Hate," Read Haidt.

The definition of a "hate" group has been in constant flux, no, expansion, for so long now that it's easy to forget that it was stable for generations. I always thought that the standard use of it for Nazis and other organized racists was unimaginative, and risked underestimating how dangerous they actually were, but at least everyone knew what it meant. American Nazi Party leader George Lincoln Rockwell used it to describe his group's product as least as far back as the early 1960s, when he founded Hatenanny Records. In a 1991 college newspaper column titled "Bad Words to be Purged from the Language," I wrote,

"Hate speech, groups etc. As angry as they make us, Doug H. [prominent campus racial slurster] and friends are still expressing opinions, not hate. They probably have feelings of superiority, entitlement, self-pity, fear, envy, and contempt, but I doubt that many racists are possessed by hate or anything else unknown to the rest of us. The ones I know espouse sociological theories that were dominant until the 1940s, and think their own experiences empirically support them. They don't even dislike minorities, as long as they stay in their familiar and inferior "place."

With more space or forethought, I would have added that they often aren't expressing anything, they're just looking for words that will hurt, humiliate and enrage whoever they're using them against, or they're just trying to fit in with others, or show them that they can think of something powerful to say, and so on.

But this was still a "sidelines" kind of comment -- it wasn't about anything that was threatening me, or people I respectfully disagreed with, or any core values. It was just at that stage where you sense something "off" about someone's word choice, something that bespeaks some unknown, idiosyncratic, quirk in how they process the world, that might suddenly turn vicious under pressure if you had to trust or rely on them.

But now, Lord, ain't we got fun! At some point in the gay marriage movement, which itself had been outside the Overton Window of acceptable opinion until the early 90s, someone decided to label its opponents as "hate" advocates. Never mind that those opponents included Senators Clinton and Obama, at least officially. And now that the monopoly on "hate" victim status is broken open, everybody wants a piece of it.

In 2012, Randall Parker broke this ongoing process down in "On Labeling Opponents Of Multiculturalism As Hateful", citing and building on Jonathan Haidt's study showing why "The right gets the left better than the left gets the right":

That the Obama Administration would label a video that lampoons a religion as hate demonstrates why I so distrust Barack Obama. The primary use of the term "hate" is to label someone as outside of civilized discourse and deserving of pariah status. But lets get to root causes. Why use the term "hate" for this purpose? The role of hate looms so large in the elite liberal mind in large part because liberals lack the ability to understand non-liberal minds. The left has elevated their own psychological blindness and misunderstanding into a campaign of marginalization where they label their opponents as hate groups. This blindness of liberal minds to half the moral considerations used by conservative minds creates a condition very much like the Dunning-Kruger Effect where someone lacks the ability to detect the extent of their own misunderstanding, ignorance, and incompetence. ... This is the part that scares me. Will multi-culturalism and the desire to placate ethnicities at home and abroad cause an even larger reduction in freedom of speech than it already has? Speech codes in workplaces are already left-liberal. I'm expecting them to become more strictly enforced and for that enforcement to extend beyond the workplace.

The reason for this, as revealed in Haidt's study and vividly described by John Faithful Hamer:

Jonathan Haidt has found that when you give conservatives a questionnaire and ask them to answer it like a liberal, they’re able to do so with ease. When you ask them to answer like a libertarian, they’re able to do that too. Libertarians aren’t nearly as adept as conservatives, but they’re still fairly good at imagining how a conservative or a liberal might answer the questionnaire. Alas, the real outliers are the liberals.

In numerous studies, with respectable sample sizes, Haidt has demonstrated that liberals simply don’t have a clue. When you ask them to answer the questionnaire like a conservative, they answer it like a fascist. When you ask them to answer it like a libertarian, they answer it like a sociopath. The liberal conception of what makes the average conservative or libertarian tick is, Haidt concludes, way off.

Are liberals less imaginative than conservatives and libertarians? I highly doubt it. The virtues and vices are, it seems, to be found everywhere to varying degrees. Why, then, do liberals do so terribly on this “ideological Turing test”? And why do conservatives do so well? Haidt maintains that conservatives do well because they base their moral thinking on all six of the moral foundations (Loyalty, Authority, Sanctity, Liberty, Care & Fairness). Liberals do poorly because they base their moral thinking on only two of them (Care & Fairness).

Haidt’s explanation is fascinating. But it’s got way too many moving parts and a fatal flaw: namely, it implicitly presumes that liberals are somehow spectacularly deficient in imagination. I find it hard to believe that any sizable group of human beings could be spectacularly deficient in any virtue (or vice). That’s why I’ve come up with a simpler explanation for Haidt’s robust findings: liberals suck at this test because shutting down certain parts of your imagination has become central to what it means to be liberal.

Liberals haven’t just demonized their political opponents, they’ve demonized the very act of trying to think like their political opponents. Trying to sympathize with, say, a Trump supporter, has come to constitute a kind of thought-crime for many liberals (and almost all progressives). So it’s not that liberals have less imagination than conservatives or libertarians; it’s that they’ve set up mental firewalls that actively prevent them from even going there. Just as Odysseus’s men stopped up their ears with wax so they wouldn’t be tempted by the seductive song of the Sirens, many liberals have, it seems, set up taboo boundaries which more or less ensure that they’ll never have to empathize with a conservative or a libertarian. This is decidedly unwise, as it often leads to group polarization.

...

Just as the violent suppression of the labor movement pushed a lot of good people into the communist camp in the twentieth century, I fear that the outrageous attacks on nonconformists like Jordan Peterson may radicalize a lot of middle-of-the-road moderates in the twenty-first century. As Malcolm Gladwell makes clear in David and Goliath (2014), when you crack down on terrorism by demonizing an entire community, you invariably end up strengthening support for the terrorists; and when you crack down on the civil rights movement in a draconian fashion, you invariably end up strengthening support for the civil rights movement. What’s happening on the left at the moment is striking similar. Demonize everyone who seems to disagree with you and you’ll invariably end up strengthening support for those who actually disagree with you.

Telling people off on Twitter and preaching to the choir on Facebook can be fun. But it’s a dangerous kind of fun. Because you get intellectually lazy. Because you start speaking in a specialized jargon that no one outside of your safe space can understand. Because you develop a contempt for everyone outside of your élite group of cool kids that frequently leads you to dehumanize those who disagree with you. Live in your little bubble long enough, and you’ll become downright delusional, like the emperor in that Hans Christian Andersen tale.

-- John Faithful Hamer, "In Praise of Listening", also published in Hamer, Social Media Land, 2020

More:

 


The Final Wedge Cleaving Liberals from Progressives: Justice Alito's Speech and the "Two Minutes' Hate" Reaction.

"If you step on my foot, don't get angry when I . . . say 'Ouch!'" -- Minister Don Muhammad


When I was a campus ACLU leader in the 80s and 90s, I agreed with everything U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel J. Alito said in his speech to the Federalist Society last week. (Transcript here; video here, substance of speech starts at 17:30.) I still do. I realized even back then that some of my farther-left collaborators didn't agree with all of it, just most of it. But now, many of them don't agree with hardly any of it, especially suddenly controversial ideas like freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of conscience, and an independent judiciary. In case there was any doubt, they made that clear in their instant reactions to Justice Alito's speech. No longer "liberals," they now call themselves "progressives," after the late-1800s-early-1900s reformers who declared that democracy and constitutional limited government were outmoded, and that a nonpartisan expert elite should rule instead.

In college, we were taught what was called a "Marxist" critique of the "progressives": Whether foolishly or intentionally, they viewed their own cultural and economic elite interests as impartial, non-political, universal, benevolent and scientific. They were politically, culturally and economically anti-democratic. Back in the 1970s and 80s, it was a liberal and generational imperative to make sure that everything was done absolutely democratically and inclusively. But sometime in the 90s, this was replaced by a new prime directive: to be in harmony with "the international community" of unelected, unaccountable elites.

So the Progressives are back now, in force, and apparently trying to prove the truth and urgency of everything Justice Alito said about them. Kind of like threatening violence against someone who calls you violent. He criticized the growing intolerance of even mainstream beliefs, and thousands of tweeters and Facebookers responded by calling for him to be impeached for it. He criticized five Senators who had openly threatened to "restructure" the Court* if it did not rule the way they wanted, pointedly mentioning a foreign judge who told him about having judicial independence on paper, but with a tank pointing at his courthouse -- and Senators responded with more threats, saying he shouldn't be allowed to criticize them because that's "political." ( *Well, they now say they didn't say "restructure," their amicus brief just happened to quote a poll of people who said the court should be "restructured.")

Senator Elizabeth Warren tweeted: "Supreme Court Justices aren't supposed to be political hacks. This right-wing speech is nakedly partisan. My anti-corruption bill restores some integrity to our Court by forcing Justices to follow the ethics rules other federal judges follow." Looking at her summary of the bill, that may be the only thing the bill does that is harmless or constitutional -- for now. But what she probably intended it to impose is a proposed reform to the judicial ethics rules, now withdrawn (for now), banning judges from the Federalist Society but not the American Bar Association. Because of course, in the fine old Progressive tradition, the ABA considers itself nonpolitical while advocating for thousands of left-wing public policies.

Los Angeles Congressman Jimmy Gomez tweeted, "Homophobic rhetoric isn’t a matter of free speech. It’s a matter of hate speech. These are stunning, harmful words from Justice Alito." To be clear exactly what he was calling homophobic, Constitutionally-unprotected "hate speech," he quoted the Justice: “'You can’t say that marriage is a union between one man and one woman' any more, Justice Alito said. 'Until very recently, that’s what the vast majority of Americans thought. Now it’s considered bigotry.'” 

Which part of that do Congressman Gomez and the other critics even disagree with? That "you can't say" it? That the vast majority agreed with it until recently? That it's considered bigotry? If anyone would disagree with that, wouldn't it be the "religious right"? Are they still around?

Many of the instant reactions seemed to be reacting to what people imagined Alito might say, not anything he actually said. For example, that he was against masks and shutdowns. Some headlines quoted his sentence, "The pandemic has resulted in previously unimaginable restrictions on individual liberty," as if that meant that he must be denouncing all such restrictions, not just stating a universally-recognized historical fact. Actually, he criticized a recent court decision that let a state single out churches for much stricter limits than casinos and other businesses. And more broadly, he warned that the now-necessary restrictions, and the executive branch's authority to impose them, were still subject to judicial review, and should not become permanent once the pandemic is over. The Young Turks, oddly, played a clip that included him saying that he was not criticizing most of the restrictions, and only questioning the legality of a very few of them, but then they spent ten minutes responding as if he had criticized mask mandates, calling him "insanely irresponsible."

An article titled "Jurists Shocked by Justice Alito's 'Wildly Inappropriate' Attack on LGBTQ Equality, Reproductive Rights, and More" merely played a game with the common versus the obscure meanings of the word "jurist" --

"Although it means any attorney or legal scholar, jurist popularly refers to a judge." West's Encyclopedia of American Law.  

It quoted no judges, only two prominent legal journalists with law degrees, one lawyer/commentator, one law professor/former prosecutor, and the director of strategy at a "legal advocacy group." People certainly qualified to opine, but whose job is politics and advocacy -- very different from the impartial eminence "jurist" connotes.

Journalists who know better, or their editors who at least officially don't, began piling wild-eyed adjectives and warlike metaphors onto sometimes otherwise objective and balanced stories about the speech.  CNN called it "ireful ... infuriated" with a "gnashing ideological tone ...". Roll Call, more subdued, said he "stepped into the ring ... to throw a few punches ..." and "targeted Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse." The New York Times called it "unusually caustic and politically tinged," but admitted that it did not violate any rules and reflected his already published "judicial opinions, which have lately been marked by bitterness and grievance,"  and that several experts "said it was unexceptional for justices to describe positions they had already taken in their judicial work." 

Slate, though, was in a class by itself, taking great pains to misrepresent the speech as unethical. It led with "Grievance-Laden, Ultrapartisan" ... "railed against COVID restrictions, same-sex marriage, abortion" [uh, no, he didn't actually criticize any of those, except for the restriction that singled out churches] and put an URL ending in "insane.html" on its article. "These comments revealed early on that Alito would not be abiding by the usual ethics rules, which require judges to remain impartial and avoid any appearance of bias" ... "a bitter partisan out to settle scores with the left. Flouting his ethical obligations, Alito waded into fierce political debates" ... "notoriously cranky, but he seemed to be in relatively good spirits ...".

Hundreds of Facebook commenters immediately called for impeaching him, some saying to throw in the Black guy while we're at it. Many claimed that the speech "revealed his bias," and they really seemed to believe that now that he had publicly revealed his beliefs about the issues he has ruled on, that that actually justified impeaching him, or demanding his resignation. Some said that he must be gay, sometimes using pretty graphic terms. Some demanded that the Federalist Society, too, must be abolished. Basically, there are a lot of fascists (I'm sorry, I mean "progressives")  out there who believe -- or who pretend to believe so hard that they may actually come to believe -- that having conservative, libertarian, or mainstream-liberal-but-not-progressive beliefs should legally disqualify one from public office, and that actually advocating or working to implement such beliefs should be illegal.

I wonder what would happen if Senator Warren and the rest of the ProgMob found out that judges and Justices not only give speeches about the Bill of Rights and the need for an independent judiciary, and bristle at threats from politicians -- they actually write long opinions about every case they decide, even ones that involve political or controversial ideas, and the government actually publishes them! And they've been getting away with it for almost 700 years!

Clarification: was joke. Senator Warren was a professor at America's best law school, so of course she knows better. She just thinks that if enough of us pretend not to, for just long enough, we can pretend to rationalize court-packing by claiming the other side broke all the norms and packed the court first. And as a progressive, she honestly believes that only other people have ideologies or politics.

Before I had even finished watching the speech, my Facebook filled up with progressives suddenly convincing themselves that of course, we have always known that Justices aren't allowed to make speeches about Constitutional issues, evidently suppressing all their memories of a once-celebrated Justice named Ginsburg:

 


Biden: Court-packing, even by the good guys, is "imperialist," "corrupted by power," "will lead inevitably to autocratic dominance."

"Levy's Law: When the One offers the Many an alliance against the Few, it is not for the purpose of benefiting the Many." -- Jacob T. Levy


"Sometimes the Senate has had to stand strong and toe the line against imperialist Presidential leanings.

"...  The Senate .. stood firm in the 1805 impeachment of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Chase. President Jefferson’s party had majorities in both the House and the Senate, and Jefferson set his sights on the Supreme Court. Specifically, he wanted to remove Justice Chase, a committed Federalist and frequent Jefferson critic, from the Court. Jefferson was able to convince the House to impeach Justice Chase on a party-line vote, and the President had enough members of his party in the Senate to convict him. But members of the President’s own party stood up to their President; the Senate as an institution stood up against executive overreaching. Justice Chase was not convicted, and the independence of the judiciary was preserved.

"The Senate again stood firm in the 1937 court-packing plan by President Franklin Roosevelt.

"This particular example of Senate resolve is instructive for today’s debates, so let me describe it in some detail. It was the summer of 1937 and President Roosevelt had just come off a landslide victory over Alf Landon, and he had a Congress made up of solid New Dealers. But the ‘‘nine old men’’ of the Supreme Court were thwarting his economic agenda, overturning law after law overwhelmingly passed by the Congress and from statehouses across the country.

"In this environment, President Roosevelt  — and remember this old adage about power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely — corrupted by power, in my view,* unveiled his court-packing plan—he wanted to increase the number of Justices on the court to 15, allowing himself to nominate these additional judges. In an act of great courage, Roosevelt’s own party stood up against this institutional power grab. They did not agree with the judicial activism of the Supreme Court, but they believed that Roosevelt was wrong to seek to defy established traditions as a way of stopping that activism. [* Italics above are words that were in spoken version but not printed.]

"In May 1937, the Senate Judiciary Committee—a committee controlled by the Democrats and supportive of his political ends—issued a stinging rebuke. They put out a report condemning Roosevelt’s plan, arguing it was an effort ‘‘to punish the justices’’ and that executive branch attempts to dominate the judiciary lead inevitably to autocratic dominance, ‘‘the very thing against which the American Colonies revolted, and to prevent which the Constitution was in every particular framed.’’

"Our predecessors in the Senate showed courage that day and stood up to their President as a coequal institution. And they did so not to thwart the agenda of the President, which in fact many agreed with; they did it to preserve our system’s checks and balances; they did it to ensure the integrity of the system. When the Founders created a ‘‘different kind of legislative body’’ in the Senate, they envisioned a bulwark against unilateral power—it worked back then and I hope that it works now.

"... In the end, Roosevelt’s plan failed because Democrats in Congress thought court-packing was dangerous, even if they would have supported the newly-constituted court’s rulings."

Sen. Joseph Biden, CONGRESSIONAL RECORD, April 27, 2005, pp. S4362-S4363


The American Revolution is why slavery ended in the North. It also redistributed property, the W.E.B. DuBois homestead reminds us.

From a comment to a post by Peter Wood on the substantively misleading and procedurally ridiculous 1619 Project:

I would like to see some honest scholar of African-American history look into the family of WEB DuBois. He was from Great Barrington, in the Western Branch of the Appalachian Mountains — even today it’s a 2.5-3 hour drive from there to Harvard Square, over the highest part of I-90 east of Montana, which then drops down to cross the Westfield River. (The Connecticut River Valley, a fault line deeper than the San Andreas, splits the Appalachians in Massachusetts, further north they become the Green and White Mountains. As a result, there are no good East-West roads in New England….)

DuBois first went to Fisk University from 1885 to 1888 and then to Harvard from 1888 to 1890. Born in 1868, fatherless since 1870, and orphaned in 1885, how did *any* 17-year-old in remote Great Barrington know that such places even existed?

While his father was a recent immigrant, his mother wasn’t — her folk owned land in Great Barrington. And what a lot of people forget about the American Revolution are the Committees of Public Safety and their practice of confiscating the property of those loyal to the Crown and redistributing it amongst themselves. This was never discussed much after the war, perhaps because the Treaty of Paris obligated the Americans to reimburse the Loyalists for their stolen property, and that was never done.

The other thing to understand about the economy of Massachusetts at the time is that the prosperous people were those who sold things to the British, particularly food & firewood, which was largely transported by water. (It was easier to sail firewood down from Maine than to lug it 30 miles over the rutted dirt roads of the day.) The Patriots were the Trump Supporters of that era, the people who didn’t have good government jobs at better wages.

What Nikole Hannah-Jones fails to understand is — at least in Greater Massachusetts, the Revolution *ended* slavery because most of the slave-owners were Loyalists, with what remained being eliminated when the Massachusetts Constitution of 1780 was interpreted to preclude slavery.

So she’s not just wrong, she’s backwards.

But back to DuBois. We know that one of his ancestors was a slave who obtained his freedom via service in the Revolutionary War (paging Ms. Hannah-Jones, paging Ms. Hannah-Jones). But what we don’t know is where his mother’s folk got their land — and my guess is that it was confiscated from a Loyalist during the Revolution.

So the ultimate irony here could be that [DuBois] was only able to attend college BECAUSE OF the American Revolution. So much for it being to preserve segregation & slavery….

Good point in general, and fundamentally sound, although from what I can tell, the earlier owners were not Loyalists, and I cannot quite confirm that that particular land is what his ancestor got for serving in the Revolution, or if the family moved to it a few years later.  A 1994 article firmly based on primary sources says:

For his service in the American Revolution ... Tom Burghardt was manumitted and given a small piece of land, approximately six acres ...

The article does not appear to specify if that was the same land DuBois lived on. It seems to have been a different one nearby, because DuBois's great-grandfather Jackson Burghardt bought the property where DuBois later lived in 1795:

In the “House of the Black Burghardts” (1928) ... Du Bois recalled his family’s ancestral home upon the Egremont Plain. First purchased by his maternal great grandfather, Jackson Burghardt in 1795, the site remained within Du Bois’ family for six generations. The homesite and the immediate land surrounding it was a veritable community of intergenerational, free, land owning African Americans. “[U]p and to the east of a hill of rocks was Uncle Ira; down and to the south was Uncle Harlow….And here right in the center of the world was Uncle Tallow, as Grandfather Othello was called” (Crisis 1928).

For Du Bois, the homesite served as an important link to the past that stretched back to the early years of the republic and affirmed his rootedness in New England. It also tied him to a long line of free, land owning African Americans. At the time of Du Bois’ birth in 1868, only five years after the Emancipation Proclamation, his family members were already free homesteaders for almost a hundred years, certainly a rarity in a time when most African Americans were just gaining their freedom.

While the site connected him to the United States, it also served as a link to Africa. Du Bois remembered an African song, in a language no one understood, sung around the family fires when he was a boy. The song is believed to have originated from his maternal great grandmother, Violet, who was stolen from West Africa in the mid-eighteenth century and came to settle on the Egremont Plain with the Burghardts. ...


Human and political rights, as defined 330 years ago today by England's Parliament, King and Queen

... 

Whereas the late King James the Second, by the assistance of divers evil counsellors, judges and ministers employed by him, did endeavour to subvert and extirpate the Protestant religion and the laws and liberties of this kingdom;

By assuming and exercising a power of dispensing with and suspending of laws and the execution of laws without consent of Parliament;

By committing and prosecuting divers worthy prelates for humbly petitioning to be excused from concurring to the said assumed power;

By issuing and causing to be executed a commission under the great seal for erecting a court called the Court of Commissioners for Ecclesiastical Causes;

By levying money for and to the use of the Crown by pretence of prerogative for other time and in other manner than the same was granted by Parliament;

By raising and keeping a standing army within this kingdom in time of peace without consent of Parliament, and quartering soldiers contrary to law;

By causing several good subjects being Protestants to be disarmed at the same time when papists were both armed and employed contrary to law;

By violating the freedom of election of members to serve in Parliament;

By prosecutions in the Court of King's Bench for matters and causes cognizable only in Parliament, and by divers other arbitrary and illegal courses;

And whereas of late years partial corrupt and unqualified persons have been returned and served on juries in trials, and particularly divers jurors in trials for high treason which were not freeholders;

And excessive bail hath been required of persons committed in criminal cases to elude the benefit of the laws made for the liberty of the subjects;

And excessive fines have been imposed;

And illegal and cruel punishments inflicted;

And several grants and promises made of fines and forfeitures before any conviction or judgment against the persons upon whom the same were to be levied;

All which are utterly and directly contrary to the known laws and statutes and freedom of this realm;

. . . 

And thereupon the said Lords Spiritual and Temporal and Commons, pursuant to their respective letters and elections, being now assembled in a full and free representative of this nation, taking into their most serious consideration the best means for attaining the ends aforesaid, do in the first place (as their ancestors in like case have usually done) for the vindicating and asserting their ancient rights and liberties declare

That the pretended power of suspending the laws or the execution of laws by regal authority without consent of Parliament is illegal;

That the pretended power of dispensing with laws or the execution of laws by regal authority, as it hath been assumed and exercised of late, is illegal;

That the commission for erecting the late Court of Commissioners for Ecclesiastical Causes, and all other commissions and courts of like nature, are illegal and pernicious;

That levying money for or to the use of the Crown by pretence of prerogative, without grant of Parliament, for longer time, or in other manner than the same is or shall be granted, is illegal;

That it is the right of the subjects to petition the king, and all commitments and prosecutions for such petitioning are illegal;

That the raising or keeping a standing army within the kingdom in time of peace, unless it be with consent of Parliament, is against law;

That the subjects which are Protestants may have arms for their defence suitable to their conditions and as allowed by law;

That election of members of Parliament ought to be free;

That the freedom of speech and debates or proceedings in Parliament ought not to be impeached or questioned in any court or place out of Parliament;

That excessive bail ought not to be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted;

That jurors ought to be duly impanelled and returned, and jurors which pass upon men in trials for high treason ought to be freeholders;

That all grants and promises of fines and forfeitures of particular persons before conviction are illegal and void;

And that for redress of all grievances, and for the amending, strengthening and preserving of the laws, Parliaments ought to be held frequently.

And they do claim, demand and insist upon all and singular the premises as their undoubted rights and liberties, and that no declarations, judgments, doings or proceedings to the prejudice of the people in any of the said premises ought in any wise to be drawn hereafter into consequence or example; ...

From English Bill of Rights 1689: An Act Declaring the Rights and Liberties of the Subject and Settling the Succession of the Crown


Happy Birthday to the self-deprecating vice-president who saved the Supreme Court and the independent judiciary

My cousin and contemporary John Nance "Cactus Jack" Garner III (born November 22, 1868, d. 1967 when I was three weeks old) is known only for saying the vice-presidency "isn't worth a bucket of warm spit," or something like that. But he is actually one of the most important vice-presidents. In 1937, FDR relied on Garner, a former Speaker of the House and legendary back-room politicker, to get his "court packing" bill through Congress. The bill would have let the President appoint enough additional justices to create a compliant majority on the court. But 

"From the start, Garner loathed the plan and thought that it would be a threat to party harmony. He began covertly to rally the opposition."

-- "Court-Packing Plan of 1937," by Lionel V. Patenaude, Texas State Historical Association, citing Lionel V. Patenaude, "Garner, Sumners, and Connally: The Defeat of the Roosevelt Court Bill in 1937," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 74 (July 1970). Lionel V. Patenaude, Texans, Politics and the New Deal (New York: Garland, 1983). Bascom N. Timmons, Garner of Texas (New York: Harper, 1948). 

Garner and his allies managed to make the environment for the bill so toxic that he finally was able to tell FDR he had to withdraw it. "Eventually, Garner was given credit for smoothing over the crisis, but he had also rendered himself persona non grata with the administration." So we have John Nance Garner to thank for the U.S.'s independent judiciary, which has given us everything from racial integration to gay marriage.


H. P. Lovecraft's Republicans seem largely fictional, but unfortunately not quite ...

This is some of the best political vituperation I've ever seen. I thoroughly disagree with Lovecraft's disdain for human freedom and his childlike faith in Central Planning, but he finds several genuine weak spots, and makes the most of them. Weak spots that Republicans still have, and need to watch out for. I don't know if he's just blindly swallowing, and brilliantly regurgitating, a cartoonish portrayal of conservatives by the media and politicians at the time, or if this is based on some firsthand observation -- probably a lot of one and a little of the other.

"As for the Republicans — how can one regard seriously a frightened, greedy, nostalgic huddle of tradesmen and lucky idlers who shut their eyes to history and science, steel their emotions against decent human sympathy, cling to sordid and provincial ideals exalting sheer acquisitiveness and condoning artificial hardship for the non-materially-shrewd, dwell smugly and sentimentally in a distorted dream-cosmos of outmoded phrases and principles and attitudes based on the bygone agricultural-handicraft world, and revel in (consciously or unconsciously) mendacious assumptions (such as the notion that real liberty is synonymous with the single detail of unrestricted economic license or that a rational planning of resource-distribution would contravene some vague and mystical 'American heritage'…) utterly contrary to fact and without the slightest foundation in human experience? Intellectually, the Republican idea deserves the tolerance and respect one gives to the dead."


—Lovecraft in a letter to C. L. Moore, exact date unknown, mid-October 1936

Posted on "The Rising Tide: Strategies for a Sustainable Future"


When incorporating was a privilege, only the privileged got to incorporate and do business. Do we really want to go back to that?

The Warren Plan and the History of Corporate Chartering

By WALTER OLSON at cato.org, citing

 

See also

Elizabeth Warren’s Batty Plan to Nationalize . . . Everything

 

 


The Malthusian crisis doesn't loom in our future, because it already happens every day

Country Mice Rebounding After Chaste, Stressful Summer

By John Crouch, in the Amicus Curiae, College of William and Mary

Copyright John Crouch 1992


The nondescript jumble of buildings just beyond the Gradplex looks like the place where lawn mowers go to die. Actually, it is the place where Professors C. Richard Terman and E. L. Bradley explore a question of growing urgency to mankind: How do populations control their numbers?

The Laboratory of Endocrinology and Population Ecology is no typical lab. Its genetically diverse mice live off the land in woods around Williamsburg, mingling freely. Though provided with nests, they prefer to build their own. And though they live in what Dr. Terman calls "a mouse welfare state" where their population might be expected to expand exponentially, certain natural forces, not yet understood, induce them to limit their growth non-violently.

Dr. Terman is an animal behaviorist and a population ecologist. His interest in populations was sparked by lemmings. He wondered how most species avoid doing the lemming thing, and whether some species may meet similar fates as they increase. He found that when he released a few mice in a large enclosure and provided unlimited amenities, they did not increase to the point of suicide, fratricide, or cannibalism. They became inhibited.

More formal experiments with deermice in the "Pop Lab" established that this asymptote, or population plateau, occurred while much living space was still unoccupied. They also revealed that there is no particular density or absolute number at which population levels off. Four populations in identical cages stabilized at 7, 13, 29 and 47.

Nearly all mice stopped reproducing or failed to experience puberty, for no apparent reason. The few newborns were mothered so enthusiastically that it just wore them out. The celibate mice spent practically all their time in one huddle, as if trying to lose their individuality. 

Dominant females from the populations' founding pairs began hoarding food, though Dr. Terman always provided more than enough. Three or four handmaidens helped stock the hoards. Any mouse could dine there, but the hoarders fiercely berated those who tried to carry food away. 

Dramatic though these results were, their relevance to life outside laboratories was unclear. So for the last ten years, Dr. Terman has moved his research into natural environments, where he has observed the same trends.

Populations of white-footed mice around Williamsburg do not level off permanently, but they stop breeding from May to July, a time of plentiful food in which a pair of mice could have a litter every 25 days. Each offspring could be a parent after 45 days.

Instead, the mice's reproductive organs remain minute during these three months. If they are taken to the lab, however, they quickly develop and reproduce. Dr. Terman has not yet discovered what change in the mice's environment triggers the asymptote. He tried providing surplus food, but it produced no effect. Nor does the chastity result from the weather, because in August and September all their organs swell tenfold and do what they were designed to do. And just as in the early experiments, there is no typical population density at which breeding stops.

Dr. Terman and Dr. Bradley, an endocrinologist, suspect that the mice are sexually stunted by adrenalin which they produce in response to stress. In each population, one or two dominant, fertile mice seem somehow to induce stress in the others through subtle signals which do not even appear aggressive to human observers. Dr. Terman thinks that these cues are given primarily by touch, rather than by odor, sound or visual body language. He has put pairs of inhibited mice in cages where they can see, hear, and smell their neighbors, but not touch them, and each time they have developed and reproduced.

Key questions about the phenomenon remain unanswered. Why does this happen from May through July? How exactly do the mice stress each other out, if indeed that is what they do? More importantly, what kind of natural selection has favored the evolution of this behavior?

Dr. Terman stresses that his project is "basic research," and discourages law students and other humans from directly comparing their plight to that of his mice. His research reminds mankind, on the one hand, that scenarios in which trillions of future humans live in hives or die in droves may make for exciting science fiction, but they are poor science. There will be no millenarian Malthusian apocalypse, because individual people, like Terman's mouse colonies, hit the Malthusian wall in small ways every day. 

Terman's work further discredits the notion that prosperity automatically produces overpopulation. On the other hand, it also warns us that species limit their numbers by countless and unforeseen methods. To Dr. Terman, the question is not whether human populations will be limited, but how.


The best defense of Jefferson is this attack on him by the Confederate vice-president

“The new constitution has put at rest, forever, all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institution, African slavery, as it exists amongst us, the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution. Jefferson in his forecast, had anticipated this, as the “rock upon which the old Union would split.” He was right. What was conjecture with him, is now a realized fact. But whether he fully comprehended the great truth upon which that rock stood and stands, may be doubted. The prevailing ideas entertained by him and most of the leading statesmen at the time of the formation of the old constitution, were that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally, and politically. It was an evil they knew not well how to deal with, but the general opinion of the men of that day was that, somehow or other in the order of Providence, the institution would be evanescent and pass away. This idea, though not incorporated in the constitution, was the prevailing idea at that time. The constitution, it is true, secured every essential guarantee to the institution while it should last, and hence no argument can be justly urged against the constitutional guarantees thus secured, because of the common sentiment of the day. Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation, and the government built upon it fell when the storm came and the wind blew.”

From the “Corner Stone” Speech, by Alexander H. Stephens, Savannah, Georgia, March 21, 1861


American Library Association condemnation of "Little House" attacks everything the ALA should stand for

The American Library Association and its subsidiary, the Association for Library Service to Children, have voted unanimously to remove Laura Ingalls Wilder's name from an award given to children's book authors and illustrators for the past 64 years. They take pains to say they're only removing her name from the award, not trying to remove her books from libraries, but what they're really doing is far more fundamental: a leading organization is declaring a major children's author to be racist. And not just any major children's author, but one of the liberal heroes of the field, who obviously  disapproved of the racist attitudes that were common during her childhood and even long after her death, who gave us strong, independent female main characters, and showed that the female perspective on life and on historical events was every bit as valid and important and compelling as the male. But the actual evidence they cite does not even purport to show that Wilder expressed or encouraged racism; it consists of subtle critiques that show how Wilder's racial liberalism could be improved upon; or that she is not where to go for a well-rounded, intensive, informed exploration of Indians' history and culture; or that any story told from the white settlers' perspective will include much that will irritate Native Americans.

Looking around the internet for Wilder's alleged racist passages, initially all I could find anyone complaining about are places where Wilder describes and portrays her parents' and other adults' varying attitudes. The whole point of these is that the author disagrees with those attitudes, and wants her readers to disagree with them, but wants them to know they existed and were predominant at the time. That, and the fact that some of the ALSC's statements seem to be specifically about those depictions, make it seem unlikely that there is anything actually racist about the books. That's also what I remember from reading them as a child and as a parent. The actual  ALSC/ALA statements and background materials [links below] don't cite any particular racist messages in the books; they take for granted that Wilder's work has already been deemed racist, problematic, etc. One ALA memo says "her books reflect racist and anti-Native sentiments." The memo cites two academic articles on the subject:

One of the articles, Reese, Debbie. “Indigenizing children’s literature” (2008), Journal of Language and Literacy Education [Online], 4(2), 59-72, does not reference anything that you could call racist in Wilder; it criticizes what facts or memories about Indians Wilder chose to highlight, but can't even convincingly speculate that there were other stories she knew and could have included instead in a childhood memoir. It laments the inclusion of a home visit from Indians wearing skunk glands, but doesn't say that that event didn't happen. The article's actual, legitimate, point is that reading Wilder's books is not the best and most balanced way to learn all about Indians generally and the Osage in particular. Not that anyone ever said it was.

The other article, Kaye, Frances W., "Little Squatter on the Osage Diminished Reserve: Reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Kansas Indians" (2000), Great Plains Quarterly, 23, finds Wilder to be racist only on the grounds that any story told from the white settlers' perspective is racist. It actually makes sound, admirable, resounding arguments for that view, but the arguments do not support the message that educators, librarians, students and the public will take away from the ALA's move, which is to single out Wilder as racist and inappropriate. Kaye's article admits that Wilder, and her character in the books, have advanced and humane views for her time. And in fact, that

"The reader of Little House on the Prairie does not identify with the unthinking dislike of Indians demonstrated by Caroline Ingalls or the family bulldog, Jack, nor with the 'only good Indian is a dead Indian' philosophy that Pa explicitly rejects."

Kaye argues that Wilder's very liberalism is what makes her view of Indians so "insidious": By portraying them as suffering victims, she makes their exclusion from the land seem inevitable, and tolerable --

"The myth of the necessary tragedy ... that arises when the determined farmer meets the nomadic wanderer, the tragedy played out in Judeo-Christian myth from the time of Jacob and Esau."

Wilder portrays "good Indians" and thus implies that they were better than "bad Indians" who fought back, Kaye argues. Pa's "good Indian" friend is like Uncle Tom, which makes Wilder as racist as Harriet Beecher Stowe. And that fighting back was justified by a long history of treaties that the settlers were breaking. Kaye provides much interesting history and subversive description of the Osages. She makes valid criticisms of little Laura's views of certain historical events and land-use questions -- she should not have considered farming superior to buffalo hunting, nor complained about the government removing her family and the other white settlers for having no legal right to settle there.

But those have very little to do with what children read the books for, or what they remember from them. Nobody reads these books to learn about Indians. In the 1930s, maybe the Little House books were how some kids got their impressions of Indians, but for at least two generations there have been books widely available that let us at least try to see native and white American history from the natives' side.

If the ALA is relying on Wilder's depictions of racist attitudes that she obviously disagrees with, that means that an organization devoted to popular literacy and critical thinking is endorsing blatant intellectual dishonesty, by willful, simplistic, misunderstanding, in order to be "doing something" about racism even against a victim who isn't guility of racism. Pretending that readers can't distinguish between portrayal and approval, and shouldn't have to learn to do so. (Meaning that obviously Huckleberry Finn will be back on the banned list, and Jack in the Beanstalk must be suppressed for saying giants should grind Englishmen's bones to make bread.) With the predictable result of toppling a literary giant just because she could not see quite as far as the Lilliputians who stand on her shoulders; and permanently shelving a set of books that really do turn kids on to reading, and to history, when there is no reason to believe that other books can do the job just as well.

If on the other hand they're relying on the subtler academic critiques cited in their memos, then they are calling Wilder's books racist based on completely misrepresenting their own evidence, unless they're actually saying that all stories from the pioneers' point of view are now inappropriate.

Dr. Seuss is next. I'm not making this up. See p. 2 of the "ALSC Awards Program/ Strategic Plan" memo

ALA statements and materials on Laura Ingalls Wilder:

 Response from  Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and Research Association


How thoughtlessly we ban core First Amendment activity: first to prevent corruption, then to corruptly silence dissenters

The case of Brinkman et al v. Budish et al illustrates how easy it is for lawmakers and reformers to go overboard, once they are given any leeway to restrict lobbying, political contributions, or political advocacy. The original reason for laws that did this -- restrictions on campaign contributions, and laws against "revolving doors" that let the legislators who govern an industry look forward to well-paying jobs as that industry's lobbyists --  was to fight what looked like bribery of politicians by big businesses. Even that, important as it is, should never have been an acceptable reason to allow any restriction on what the First Amendment was principally designed to protect.

But once we allowed those laws to be passed, essentially as an exception to the First Amendment, we seemed to quickly forget the reason for the narrow exception, and came to believe that lobbying, politicking, and contributing to political campaigns were inherently suspect activities that should always be regulated. And that all noncompliance is not just a regulatory offense, but morally criminal. Thus we've had laws against "bribing" officeholders with campaign contributions used against people contributing to ballot initiatives, or even just directly advocating for them, or for or against a candidate. 

In  Brinkman,  a "revolving door" law was used against a former legislator who did unpaid lobbying, and did it for a group that advocated broad principles and issues -- less taxes and spending -- instead of for a business or an industry. And that's where a federal court drew the line and said that such laws had gone too far.


POLITICAL CORRECTNESS IS A THING OF THE PAST. AND THE FUTURE.

By John Crouch in the Brown Daily Herald , Brown University, Providence, R.I., 1991

"Because I do not learn their words, I am called a heretic."

--St. Jerome

I once tried to compile a history of "PC." As a Southerner, I knew that the highest form of history is genealogy, so my inquiries first led me to some ancestors who were Presbyterian Covenanters. They were having some differences with the Puritan Commonwealthmen, led by Oliver Cromwell. Each of these sects had an exclusive contract with God, stating that the other was headed for a bad place and should be expedited there. (Think about it: these covenants were not contradictory, but complementary. God knew what he was doing.) After a pitched battle, Cromwell suggested that everyone should come together and cooperate with him in an exciting new broad-based ecumenical venture known as Persecuting Catholics. He offered my forebears exciting public service jobs as military policemen in exile. They agreed, and in return he deferred his natural inclination to confiscate their heads. 

Soon they were in Ulster, doing the Lord's work. Then it was off to Barbados to practice their techniques on rebellious slaves, and then to Maryland, to do it to the Indians and Catholics. In time they settled down and became highly useful members of the community, raising tobacco and sailing to Africa to buy slaves. In occasional fits of public-spiritedness they would lynch a papist or two, but they mostly minded their own business for six generations until some outside agitators built Washington, D.C. in their neighborhood.

A more recent forefather of PC and related irritations was Horace Mann '19, who dominated the debating societies of Manning Chapel. These groups combined the functions of class discussion sections, dorm unit "workshops", the student government, and the Herald letters page. Kathleen Kendall, a rhetoric professor, wrote that Mann proved his points with "overstatements," "name-calling," "sophistry," "chest-thumping chauvinism," and "an abundance of star-spangled prose ... No one challenged his sweeping generalizations or lack of pertinent evidence." Doubtless the alumni pined for the grand old days of discipline, morality, and western culture.

Then again, Brown's administration didn't set a very mature example for Mann. They once fined him for violating their ban on Independence Day observations. This holiday was considered disruptively democratic, divisive, and deeply offensive to the Federalist community, which always felt left out.

Brown has a venerable tradition of expelling the politically incorrect, including President Bennie Andrews '70. Wildly popular, he was especially admired for his success in exhorting students to fulfill their human potential by volunteering for the Spanish-American War (once fabulously PC). So the trustees were especially shocked when he began advocating silver coinage. A man who believed in that could be neither sane nor moral, so they had to banish him before he poisoned the whole community. 

PC flourished in Athens at the same time the Spartans were perfecting communism, so I hardly think either idea can have permanently "died" in the past year. It is true that, like Stalinism and McCarthyism, it had lost its real power before mainstream liberals began anathematizing it, or even giving it a name. (Four years ago, "PC Person" was a classist, fattist, WASPist, smartist term for a typical scholar at Providence College.) But while political circumstances change quickly and unpredictably, human nature changes too slowly to measure. Like some observers of political savagery in past decades, I would blame PC's inhumanity not on the counter-culture, communism, anti-communism or fundamentalism, but on certain strains of the human personality: control freaks, conformists, trendies, groupies, and opportunists. At least in my experience here, the intolerance that provoked so much resentment and ridicule was practiced not by political activists, but by encounter-workshop facilitators and a few administrators. Likewise, it should be obvious that Dartmouth's persecution of conservative journalists, and the Brown administration's rudeness toward liberal protestors and union organizers, relate not to the politics of left and right but to simple institutional self-interest.

But some cultures and ideologies may prove more PC-resistant than others. By "culture," I mean something we each help shape, not a genetic heritage that pre-determines us. Many people presume there is a certain inviolable space around individuals, and that all are equally human. In cultures that take such ideas seriously, certain rules develop: People are to be persuaded only by reason, and not manipulated, lied to, or forced around at gunpoint. People are given the benefit of the doubt, and not charged with unworthy motives or mental infirmity without proof. But at the same time, they are seen as ultimately responsible for their beliefs, having reason and free will. At times, concepts of "gentlemanliness" and "sportsmanship" have been current (and it is worrisome that our new less-sexist language has no words for them yet). They advise that an unfair advantage should not be pressed, that abandoning the moral high ground only hurts you in the long run, and that no disagreement may break the bonds of civility and charity. Where most people are willing to defend such standards, the PC might abandon their own tactics as counter-productive. In such a culture, Horace Mann went on to show that one can outgrow PC in the course of a mentally active life.

Our present culture, though, admires a no-holds-barred 100% dedication to one's chosen cause, fad or crisis, overriding all rules and distinctions, by any means necessary. So we should be grateful for our PC education -- it's probably excellent preparation for success in American politics, media, and business.


Yes, Virginia, "You, too, will meet the secret police!"

-- So Jello Biafra sang on his Spoken Word Album, which he gave me several copies of when my ACLU chapter had him come speak to an unexpectedly huge and raucous crowd at my college. But I never thought we would actually have entirely secret police in Virginia, where the Bill of Rights was invented. 

Virginia bill to keep officers' names secret would be first in the nation, experts say

By Gary A. Harki and Patrick Wilson, The Virginian-Pilot