From the headline, one might take it as yet another unwarranted slam on Bernie Sanders: “Young voters embrace Sanders, but not democracy.” Read the article, however, and it turns out that its author, Christopher Beem, actually sees young voters’ attraction not only to Bernie Sanders but to Donald Trump as well as a sign that these voters may be attempting to reclaim ‘democracy’ from partisan gridlock and unresponsive politicians. Read more
Jonah Goldberg, whom I mostly see in the National Review, has published a column in the Los Angeles Times expressing a fear that, to borrow the title, “This time, the conservative crackup is real.” It’s not his best writing and his conclusion is so devoid of substance as to be worthless. But that’s not to say the entire column is without substance:
The level of distrust among many of the different factions of the conservative coalition has never been higher, at least not in my experience. Arguments don’t seem to matter, only motives do. . . .
Wherever the truth lies, questioning motives is poisonous, because such claims are not only unfalsifiable, but they also give an instant excuse to ignore sincere, reasoned, [sic] arguments.
I’ve been mostly holding my fire on an issue that has surfaced in two places. It’s associated with “microaggressions,” “trigger words,” and, in university classrooms, the freedom to discuss or even teach on sensitive issues. It has also appeared in an authoritarian populist backlash with Donald Trump’s and Ben Carson’s campaign rhetoric which, some of their supporters say, resist the demands of ‘political correctness.’ Read more
I am not an economist. For good reason, I also don’t trust economists. Their record in prediction leaves much to be desired. And there is a sense I’ve been hearing about for a while now that their faith in capitalism, so-called “free trade,” and austerity is more ideological than scientific, even or perhaps especially when they are influential or powerful. It is pretty damned damning, for instance, that “Berkeley’s Brad DeLong defines [mathiness in economics] as ‘restricting your microfoundations in advance to guarantee a particular political result and hiding what you are doing in a blizzard of irrelevant and ungrounded algebra.’” And it’s pretty damned damning when economists cherry-pick their data to justify austerity and are somehow mostly excused from accusations of intellectual dishonesty. Read more
Conservatives have long felt that they are swimming against a liberal (as in whatever they oppose) tide. William F. Buckley famously wrote in the National Review’s mission statement that the publication “stands athwart history, yelling Stop, at a time when no one is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who so urge it.” George Nash wrote of the capitalist libertarian Albert Jay Nock that he
abandoned his early Jeffersonian idealism in revulsion from the hopeless, uneducable masses. Nock the classicist, the man of culture, became convinced that the masses could never be saved. But—and here he appealed to many later conservatives—the Remnant could. For in every age there existed a small Remnant of truly intelligent people; it was the task of each would-be Isaiah, alarmed at decay and impending doom, simply to preach. The members of the Remnant would eventually find him; they would come.
Ross Douthat is out with a slightly odd column which is, in significant part, about his initial attraction to Sarah Palin as a politician in 2008 and a redirection of that attraction in 2016. There are a few points here I want to raise. Read more
I’m getting annoyed with this kind of argumentation:
One could argue that, gender aside, [Hillary] Clinton’s policies are better for women than [Bernie] Sanders’s – Naral Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood’s endorsements speak to that some, as does Clinton’s vocal emphasis on repealing the Hyde Amendment, which denies poor women the ability to obtain reproductive healthcare. But there is also nothing untoward about pointing out that the groundbreaking first of a female president would also benefit women.
One could indeed argue this, I suppose, but the truth is that Jessica Valenti does not. She cites examples of Clinton’s positions without saying how they are better than Sanders’. Does Sanders support the Hyde amendment? I doubt it and Valenti offers us no evidence that he does or that he would be any less ambitious in seeking its repeal. Read more
To be sure, I have complaints about Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, given Tuesday night. It is obscene to me that he now acknowledges that “Food Stamp recipients did not cause the financial crisis; recklessness on Wall Street did.”
In February 2014, Obama signed a bill that would cut food stamps by $8.7 billion over the next 10 years. The legislation was estimated to cause 850,000 households to lose an average of $90 per month, while poverty and hunger are on the rise — even though they are already at disproportionately high levels compared to other OECD countries. . . .
Citing its “Too Big to Fail” policy, the Obama administration rewarded Wall Street for crashing the economy, at the sum of a whopping $700 billion tax dollars.
Meanwhile, no one was punished. As of 2013, five years after the crisis, not one top Wall Street executive was convicted of related criminal charges.
Update, January 8, 2016: At the time I originally wrote this entry, I was unaware of Juanita Broaddrick’s allegation that Bill Clinton had raped her. As Silpa Kovvali puts it,
I personally don’t give a damn about Hillary and Bill Clinton’s marital arrangement, or about Bill Clinton’s “sex life.” But allegations of rape and harassment do not fall into that category. Rape is not an “affair.” Harassment is not “infidelity.” The terminology employed by political commentators and progressive icons alike suggests otherwise.
It’s good to learn from history. But just as it is important to represent viewpoints accurately, it is important to represent history fairly.
Unfortunately, Adrian Covert relies on a partial account of Shays’ Rebellion in condemning the occupiers of a wildlife refuge in Oregon. He notes the horror expressed George Washington, James Madison, and Thomas Jefferson when farmers rebelled against state tax laws. Covert needn’t have gone far to find the other side of the story. Howard Zinn explains that the support for a strong central government had been greatest among the wealthy who, in Massachusetts where Shays’ Rebellion occurred, were the only people who could hold state office. Farmers were losing their cattle and their land because of debt at least partially accrued when the federal government had not paid Revolutionary War veterans in cash but rather in “certificates for future redemption” and when the state legislature had refused to issue paper money to facilitate the settling of debts. “By 1787 there was not only a positive need for strong central government to protect the large economic interests, but also immediate fear of rebellion by discontented farmers.” Which is all to say that any parallel between the occupation in Oregon and Shays’ Rebellion is weak at best: The federal government does not owe these ranchers money, but rather subsidizes them and their industry at every step of the way. And even if you accept the capitalist libertarian claim that the U.S. currency is debased, inflation benefits debtors at the expense of creditors (and savers). Read more