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There haven’t been many posts here as of late. There are two reasons for that. First, I’ve been very busy. But that’s not the main cause. The primary issue is that I’m updating and moving this site. I will be blogging in the future at BrianGarst.com, which will also feature my op-eds and other outside writing. I don’t yet know how much of the old content I will be bringing over. Maybe all; maybe none. Probably somewhere in between.
I just thought my handful of regular readers deserved an explanation for my absence. That is all for now.
As the dust settles on the bombing in Boston, and the flurry of misinformation and speculation finally begins to settle down now that the two primary suspects have been killed and apprehended, respectively, it’s possible to begin reflecting thoughtfully on the incident and what it means from a security policy perspective.
First and foremost it’s a reminder that pan-Islamic jihad continues to exist, much to the befuddlement of legacy media. However, in an exception that proves the rule sort of way, it’s also a reminder that we are relatively safe from such attacks in America, which have proven to be extremely rare even in this day of heightened global Islamist activity. For whatever reason – whether because attempts have been foiled by good intelligence, or because we have kept the fight overseas, among other possible reasons – we have not seen the kind of increase in attacks that I think many expected would follow 9/11.
Absent additional information, it appears the Tsarnaev brothers were self-radicalizing, which is difficult to defend against. We’ve been pretty effective at undermining the capabilities of the major organized terrorist groups wanting to operate in the US. But from an intelligence point of view, self-radicalized individuals are much more difficult to identify. Even with reports that the FBI was asked to look into the older brother, Tamerlan, evidence is hard to find when there isn’t any group for the individual to interact with.
Overall the evidence at this stage seems to point to an individual, Tamerlan, who was angry, unsuccessful in his endeavors and prone to violence. He found, perhaps due in part to his Chechen background where such extremism is common, an outlet through which to direct his violence in the form radical Islam. His influence then brought his brother into the fold.
All of this is to say, there’s very little here to suggest a need for systemic or drastic changes to our intelligence and counter-terrorism efforts. The tendency when things like this happen is to overreact, but it’s important to keep perspective on how rare such occurrences have been. Otherwise, you run the risk of adopting bad ideas that expand the power and size of the state at the expense of individual freedom.
Not that intend to demean the folks who conducted this study, as there is utility in confirming with evidence things that seem obvious or intuitive, but I can’t help but laugh at the headline, “Corruption soars when politicians are placed above the law, study finds:”
In a new study, Stern School of Business assistant professor of economics Vasiliki Skreta and co-authors, Karthik Reddy of Harvard Law School and Moritz Schularick of the University of Bonn, examine statutory immunity provisions that obstruct or limit the criminal liability of politicians, and which exist throughout much of the modern democratic world.…The researchers quantified the strength of immunity protection in 74 democracies and verified that immunity is strongly associated with corruption on an aggregate level. They also developed a theoretical model that demonstrated how stronger immunity protection can lead to higher corruption. The model suggested that unaccountable politicians under immunity protection can enhance their chance of re-election by using illegal means, namely supporting interest groups through lax law enforcement, non-collection of taxes, and other forms of favoritism that will go unpunished.
Apparently that’s a thing. From Reason:
“Look, the Republican Party isn’t going to change. If we do change, we’ll be the Whig Party. …We’re not the Libertarian Party, we’re the Republican Party.”
Rather than respond directly to this assertion, I’ll simply offer another quote and then contrast the electoral records of the two speakers.
“If you analyze it I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism.”
That one was from Ronald Reagan.
Let’s compare and contrast their electoral careers.
Rick Santorum narrowly won his first House seat 51%-49%. After two terms he then narrowly won a Senate seat with just 49% of the vote despite running during the ’94 Republican wave. After two terms he was then ousted, getting thumped by Bob Casey Jr. 59%-41%. In the 2012 Presidential election, he managed a virtual tie in the Iowa caucus, followed by a few wins in the south before petering out and losing the nomination to Mitt Romney.
Ronald Reagan, on the other hand, was twice elected governor of California, the largest state in the union. After almost accomplishing the rare feat of defeating an incumbent President in a primary in 1976, albeit one appointed by Richard Nixon, Reagan went on and won a decisive victory in 1980 against incumbent President Jimmy Carter, and was then reelected in one of the most lopsided contests in Presidential history, taking 49 of 50 states against Walter Mondale. He is widely believed to have cemented an electoral realignment that brought millions of new voters (so-called “Reagan Democrats”) to the Republican Party.
So whose vision should today’s Republican Party adopt? The big government, social-and-values-based conservatism of Rick Santorum? Or the keep-government-out-of-our-values, limited-government conservatism of Ronald Reagan (perhaps best exemplified today by Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz)? Which sounds like the recipe for success to you?
Progressive indoctrinators in Wisconsin encouraged white students to wear
yellow stars white wristbands to remind themselves of the morally reprehensible behavior that is being white. When caught, they then blamed everyone else for pointing it out.
Some feel that one of those programs – an Americorps operation called VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) – may go a bit overboard by encouraging white students to wear a white wristband “as a reminder about your (white) privilege.”
Geared towards high school students, the program “seeks to build capacity in schools and districts serving low-income families to develop an effective, sustainable, research-based program of family-school-community partnerships,” according to its Facebook page.
That sounds reasonable enough.
But the program’s approach becomes a bit suspect when one reads the Gloria Steinem quote on the top of its webpage: “The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn, but to unlearn.”
The webpage also offers a series of suggestions for high schools students to become more racially sensitive. They include:
- Wear a white wristband as a reminder about your privilege, and as a personal commitment to explain why you wear the wristband.
- Set aside sections of the day to critically examine how privilege is working.
- Put a note on your mirror or computer screen as a reminder to think about privilege.
I have to agree with Ms. Steinem, the problem we increasingly seem to face is unlearning all the nonsense taught by our government monopoly
indoctrination education system.
Do parents have the rights to educate their own children? That’s the question at the heart of an ongoing legal battle between the Obama administration and a German couple who sought, and were originally granted, political asylum in the US on the grounds that Germany’s ban on homeschooling was a violation of their rights, and that being forced to return home would subject them to persecution. Reason covered the issue rather thoroughly in this video:
After a judge originally granted the couple’s request, noting that Germany’s policy was “utterly repellent to everything we believe as Americans,” the Obama administration naturally stepped up to defend the indefensible, claiming that homeschooling is “not a fundamental right.”
This is an outrageous assertion. There are few rights more fundamental than that of parents to direct the upbringing of their children. The US Supreme Court has afforded parental rights the respect they deserve, noting in Pierce v. Society of Sisters that “the child is not the mere creature of the state; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right and the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.”
Given its views on power in general, I suppose it shouldn’t be all that surprising to see the Obama administration disagree. Parental authority is, after all, in direct competition with that of the state, and is an important and necessary check against the growth of tyranny. It’s no coincidence that a Nazi-era German law is at issue here. Affording the state the unique power to indoctrinate the next generation with its own propaganda, without competition or recourse, is a serious threat to basic human liberty, and is also why we need to do a lot more than the basic minimum of allowing home or private schooling in the US. We need to end government monopoly schooling across the country and replace it with a system of choice, not only to improve educational outcomes, but also in defense of our liberty.
A state judge on Monday stopped Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration from banning the sale of large sugary drinks at New York City restaurants and other venues, a major defeat for a mayor who has made public-health initiatives a cornerstone of his tenure.
The city is “enjoined and permanently restrained from implementing or enforcing the new regulations,” New York Supreme Court Judge Milton Tingling decided Monday.
The regulations are “fraught with arbitrary and capricious consequences,” the judge wrote. “The simple reading of the rule leads to the earlier acknowledged uneven enforcement even within a particular city block, much less the city as a whole….the loopholes in this rule effectively defeat the state purpose of the rule.”
This is obviously a victory for liberty, and I don’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth, but I hope there is more to the reasoning than presented here (having not read the decision there may well be). Of course the law is arbitrary and capricious, prohibiting sales from certain businesses and not others, and allowing sale of 17oz. slurpees but not soda. But even if it were uniform and steadfast, or applied equally, it should still have been struck down. Unfortunately, given the record of the courts in defending liberty, I don’t have much faith that it would have been.
A group of liberal students at the University of New Mexico tried their best to get Chick-fil-A kicked off campus because they claimed the eatery made them feel “unsafe.” The students even took to theatrics, such as crying and hyperventilating, before a vote was held on whether the restaurant could stay or not- despite a majority of students having no problem with them on campus.
Gay students claimed that they even felt threatened by the mere sight of students and faculty carrying bags with the Chick-fil-A logo on them.
…“‘Students started expressing to me they felt unsafe to go into their own campus union building,’ Sen. Miquela Ortiz of the Associated Students of UNM said. ‘When they said they felt uncomfortable on campus, I felt it was an issue that I should bring up.’
“‘Please look at this from a moral standpoint,’ said Brittany Arneson, a student against having Chick-fil-A on campus. ’Look at the kids that are here that are telling you, ‘I do not feel safe on this campus anymore.’”
But, UNM student Tess Henderson told KRQE that her friends who work for Chick-fil-A were trained to treat each and every customer with the utmost respect, regardless of who they are.
In the end, the student union board voted, 8-3, that the chicken franchise could stay at UNM.
Sanity may have prevailed, but rest assured the victim-mongers will try again.
Rather than deal with and own their own emotions, or channel them into constructive behaviors like engaging in public debate, many seem to think that the appropriate response to opposing views is to shout them down rather than engagement. They also seem to think that society has a duty to shield them from unpleasant feelings. Both are indicative of an unhealthy and socially destructive mindset.
So apparently there’s something called the “Un-Fair Campaign,” whose entire purpose seems to be to point out how horribly unfair it is to be white. Their slogan is “It’s hard to see racism when you’re white,” and the website asserts that “Racism is an issue that we don’t like talking about.” Which is funny, because for something we ostensibly don’t like talking about it, we spend a lot of time talking about it. I’d say we’re downright obsessed about it.
We see racism everywhere. Accurately transcribing the President’s pandering dialect is racist. Using the word “break” is racist. So is niggardly. Referencing black holes is racist. Yellow metro lines are also racist against Asians. We’ve had “a national conversation about race” in 1997 and again in 2008. And its impossible not to repeatedly hear all about racism at any American University, where courses for various ethnic group “studies” are also commonplace.
Promoting gun ownership as self protection after natural disasters is racist. In fact, the entire second amendment is racist, as is the NRA. Going to a party while a hurricane hits anywhere else in the US is racist. Highlighting the President’s angry outbursts is racist, as is giving a speech to the NAACP. Hell, we can’t even celebrate Independence Day (pardon me, I mean the “Fourth of You Lie“) without having one of those non-existent conversations about race.
Nevertheless, the folks at the “Un-Fair Campaign” think white people don’t yet feel sufficiently shitty for things that happened before they were born (Hat-tip: National Review):
Is there racism in America? Absolutely. But it’s not a one way street. Racists come in all shapes and colors and hate is directed in all directions, even at whites. But for all the “conversations” we’ve had about race, such frank admissions are rarely made. Instead we get self-loathing and liberal white guilt bombarding us with a litany of white abuses.
If any of these folks bothered to look at modern law and policy, they might notice that race-based favoritism and preferences benefit almost every other group except for white (males). Such policies may be justified in some cases, and not in others, but it’s rather absurd to harp on about how “society was made for us,” meaning whites, when the law today explicitly discriminates on behalf of every group other than whites. Hard to see racism when you’re white, indeed.