Day: September 9, 2018

Toxic red tide algae moves north near Tampa Bay, killing hundreds of thousands of fish…


Published




The toxic algae bloom that has carved a trail of dead animals and triggered a putrid stench along western Florida’s coastline has drifted further north, killing hundreds of thousands of fish in the Tampa Bay region.

The legions of dead fish were reported in a 20-mile stretch of coastline from Clearwater to St. Petersburg, environmental officials with Pinellas County told the Tampa Bay Times on Saturday.

County workers roamed beaches and trawled offshore to collect the fish carcasses to head off decomposition as some beachgoers turned back. Rotting fish and the strong odor of the algae has previously repelled locals and imperiled Florida’s vital tourism sector for much of the summer.

The toxic algae has claimed countless fish, hundreds of sea turtles, dozens of bottlenose dolphins and even a 26-foot whale shark in the last few months. The toxic algae stretches in varied density for about 120 miles of coastline, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said.


In August, Gov. Rick Scott, R, declared a state of emergency and released funds to help with the massive cleanup effort and help businesses recover from lost profits. The algae has affected the coast in some way for 10 months – and has become a key political issue in the midterms for Scott, a U.S. Senate hopeful.

A red tide is a natural phenomenon that develops miles offshore before making its way to the coast, where it feeds on a variety of pollutants, including phosphorus and nitrogen from fertilizer, along with other runoff and wastewater. The toxins can aerosolize in the wind that drifts ashore, triggering respiratory problems or worsening conditions such as asthma.

What is not clear is whether climate change and pollution from humans near the shore has made this outbreak severe and prolonged. Scientists have found that the algae thrive in warmer waters and increased carbon dioxide levels.

Until this past week, the red tide lurked south of Tampa Bay, the Times reported. But samples of high concentration of the algae have been found in waters near Clearwater Beach in the past few days.

The sudden approach of the algae bloom and dead fish washing ashore surprised beachgoers on Saturday. Andres and Veronica Bernal told the Times that they had checked county websites for alerts before leaving Tampa in the afternoon.


Their two children were horrified to see dead fish littered on the beach. They opted to play in the sand instead as the smell of rotting fish lingered.

Scientists are trying to figure out why, exactly, the current red tide along the Gulf Coast has been so protracted and deadly to wildlife. State officials and scientists point out that, at base, this is a natural phenomenon. Fish die-offs were noted by Spanish explorers in the 1500s and have been well documented since the 1840s.

The crisis has become a political issue in the upcoming midterms as Scott challenges Sen. Bill Nelson, D, for his seat. Both men have blamed the prolonged crisis and delayed responses on each other.

They have also attacked each other over the severity of a different type of algae that is choking rivers and plaguing Lake Okeechobee, the state’s largest freshwater lake.

The Washington Post’s Darryl Fears, Lori Rozsa, Joel Achenbach and Kate Furby contributed to this report.



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BLACK ACTORS WIN ALL EMMY GUEST CATEGORIES FOR FIRST TIME…


For the first time in Emmy history, the trophies for all four guest actor categories went to African-American performers.

Tiffany Haddish won best guest actress in a comedy for hosting “Saturday Night Live,” Ron Cephas Jones won best guest actor in a drama for “This Is Us,” Samira Wiley won best guest actress in a drama for “The Handmaid’s Tale,” and Katt Williams won best guest actor in a comedy for “Atlanta.”

Both Jones and Wiley had been nominated previously, while Williams and Haddish won in their first year being nommed.

The wins come amidst a larger push for diversity and inclusion in television, both in front of and behind the camera. As Variety noted when this year’s Emmy nominees were announced, 36 non-white actors were nominated this year, up 20% from the year before.

The four guest categories — which date back to 1989 — have been awarded to actors of color before, including in 2003, when Charles S. Dutton won for “Without A Trace” and Alfre Woodard won for “The Practice,” as well as 2014, when Uzo Aduba triumphed for “Orange is the New Black” along with Joe Morton for “Scandal.”

While the Motion Picture Academy has sometimes struggled to recognize actors of color, the TV Academy has been breaking records with each year. Last year, for example, Lena Waithe made history as the first black woman to win for comedy writing. And Sterling K. Brown is poised to repeat for his dramatic work on “This Is Us,” as is Donald Glover for his performance on the FX comedy “Atlanta.” 

 


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Alabama MCDONALD's shooting leaves 1 dead, 4 wounded…


A man was killed and four others were wounded early Sunday during a shooting at a McDonald’s near Auburn University that doesn’t appear to be random, police said.

Officers responded to the shooting on West Magnolia Ave. just before 2:30 a.m. and found a 20-year-old man dead from gunshot wounds, Auburn Police wrote in a news release.

Four other people, including a 21-year-old Auburn University student, were also injured from the gunfire. A 16-year-old was transported with serious injuries. The student, a 17-and 19-year-old were taken to the hospital with injuries that were not life threatening. 

Authorities said they believe the incident was not a random shooting.

“Preliminarily, information has been obtained that an altercation occurred just prior to an exchange of gunfire that resulted in the injuries,” police said. 

Just before the shooting, students were celebrating the Auburn Tigers’ football game win over the Alabama State Hornets. 

Auburn University’s emergency notification system wrote on its Twitter page that there’s no indication of an active threat to the campus community. Officials urged to report suspicious activity.

The university initially said the suspect is still at large. Police, in an updated news release, did not provide information about the suspect. 

Katherine Lam is a breaking and trending news digital producer for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @bykatherinelam



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Rough Beasts Slouching toward the White House


American wages unexpectedly…


Unexpectedly! 


…climbed in August by the most since the recession ended in 2009 and hiring rose by more than forecast, keeping the Federal Reserve on track to lift interest rates this month and making another hike in December more likely.


Average hourly earnings for private workers increased 2.9 percent from a year earlier, a Labor Department report showed Friday, exceeding all estimates in a Bloomberg survey and the median projection for 2.7 percent.  Nonfarm payrolls rose 201,000 from the prior month, topping the median forecast for 190,000 jobs.


This is reality.  The Democrats’ clown show is fantasy.  Fortunately, most people care more about reality than fantasy.  Still, both confusing the facts and distracting people from them are tactics at which the Left excels. 


A Democratic Congress never would have passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.  In fact, not a single Democrat voted for it.  And Hillary Clinton never would have signed it.  The progress the U.S. economy has made since Donald Trump took the helm from the hapless Barack Obama is an ongoing rebuke to the Democrats’ anti-growth policies.  This is one reason the Democrats are so anxious to regain control over the House in November.  With the House in Democrat hands, they won’t be able to repeal the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, but they will be able to guarantee that no more pro-growth, pro-worker legislation will be enacted.  They will focus on impeaching President Trump instead. 


In other words, if they get their way, fantasy will triumph over reality.

In the face of this reality, the “enemies” (he refuses to call them “adversaries”) of the president have revealed they are in a political death match with the president that they’ve already lost, says Conrad Black in a most convincing article that I urge you to read in its entirety:  

American election campaigns normally begin right after Labor Day, and on the first day this year, there were three blockbuster events.  First, the start of the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court justice-designate Brett Kavanaugh identified the Democrats implicitly with the shrieking hecklers who were evicted from the committee room.  And Senator Richard Durbin’s effort to stigmatize Judge Kavanaugh because he was chosen by “Donald John Trump,” who is (apparently) demonstratively “contemptuous of the rule of law,” and similar essays of enraged self-puffery by some of his colleagues, won’t fly.  The softer edge of the anti-Trump Resistance knows that despite frenzied efforts to extort and suborn evidence against Trump for two years, none has been found. …


Also on Tuesday, the Democrats fired an instantly fizzling cannon with the inevitable Bob Woodward’s customary pastiche of fabrications, unsourced misquotations, and malicious gossip.  Woodward’s credibility has been impugned by almost all of the last nine presidents; his original co-mythmaker Carl Bernstein has almost battered himself into insensibility with his pronouncements in the last six months that Trump was finished because under the 25th Amendment he was mentally incompetent and then because the Manafort and Cohen cases put him into the legal self-ejection seat.  Woodward, the old sniper who never dies, on Tuesday had the distinction of being called a liar by two four-star Marine generals, John Kelly and James Mattis, both among the very few holders of high public office in living memory whose integrity could not be and never has been questioned.  In this toxic atmosphere they were confirmed in the Senate last year by a combined vote of 186 to 12, nonpartisanship’s last gasp, for a while. … In a democracy, somebody will pay for this, and it is unlikely to be Donald John Trump, the principal accuser of the others.  Woodward should never have survived as an author after inventing the deathbed confession of a comatose William Casey in his nasty novel Veil about the Iran-Contra fiasco, but this time he took one for the losing team and shot himself in the head with a howitzer.  Sending him into battle to win it for the Democrats two months before the election is like dispatching a small brigade of very aged arsonists to fight one of the California summer forest fires that the new prophet of the Democrats, Bernie Sanders, says was caused by this president’s opinion of climate change.


Finally (still on the first day of the campaign), Robert Mueller accepted written answers to questions from the president on collusion matters.  Inspector Javert is hanging up his badge.  This is a concession that he can’t subpoena the president and has no evidence of Trump-Russia collusion and no chance of a perjury trap.  The thought, expressed by many in the media, that Mueller could still hang tough on questioning of the president about obstruction of justice is, like the Democratic-media echo chamber’s joyous ululations over the Woodward drivel, rubbish.  That circus has flopped; strike the tents.  Day One was a disaster for the Democrats.

It may well be time to change the fairly recent innovation of having Supreme Court confirmation hearings or, at a minimum, hearings in which the nominee testifies.  After all, since the hearing of Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the rule is that nominees cannot and will not answer questions respecting any “hints,” “forecasts” or “previews” – as into how they might rule on matters which may come before them.

So these hearings have simply become a means by which the Democrats try to tar otherwise sterling, well qualified nominees.

The results of the Kavanaugh confirmation process were certain before the hearings began.  He’s a well respected jurist with a spotless reputation.  Nothing has changed this, and with Senator Jon Kyl having been sworn into office by the vice president, and McConnell’s assurance of confirmation, he will certainly be seated by the time the Supreme Court begins its new term on October 1.  Nothing in this fiasco of a hearing has changed that. 

What has changed, I should think, is any serious notion that Cory Booker or Kamala Harris has a national political future after their outrageous performances this week.  Booker has exposed himself as an idiot, claiming he was like Spartacus in revealing classified information which had already been declassified, and which, in any event, showed that the judge had opposed “profiling.” 

Newt Gingrich said it best:

Cory Booker should study history before he tries to use it.  Calling a Senate publicity stunt his “Spartacus” moment was absurd.  Spartacus was a gladiator slave who rebelled, lost, was crucified.  Booker studied at Stanford, Oxford, Yale Law School.  His only risk is being ridiculed[.]

Kamala Harris’s unsubstantiated charge that the judge had discussed the Mueller investigation with an unnamed lawyer in a private firm at some unnamed date along with bullying the witness again demonstrates that she lacks the character and wit to hold even the senatorial seat, let alone higher office.

Worse, for the Democrats, the often paid and completely outrageous effort to bully the Judiciary Committee has to drive any moderate even farther from its ranks.  Latest reports say 200 people were arrested for their disruptive tactics.  They include this person who bloodied his crotch for the display, which was supposed to mean what?  And outside the hearing room, nitwits wearing costumes from The Handmaids Tale – again, for what end? 

If you’re wondering what all these cheap theatrics were about, in a series of tweets, here compressed for readability, Wretchard offers a rational explanation:

The new liberal strategy is not to argue but to confuse.  Create phantom objects, devise imaginary plots, sow intrigue, all with the view of giving Trump “a taste of his own medicine”.  They reckon that by reducing the battle to pure noise output the Mighty Wurlitzer will win.


The problem with this approach is that it multiplies chaos and essentially fries the normal comm[unication] channels.  Nobody gets the “word” because there is no word, unless that word is Noooooooo!!!


There is a second component to the liberal strategy: a deliberate attempt to be unpleasant, increase anxiety and induce an atmosphere of crisis.  The goal is to inflict deliberate pain, a pain that will only go away if you give them what they want.


The Constitutional Crisis will not go away, indeed it will get intolerably worse until they get what they want.  A judge once asked Charlie Sheen asked him why a man like him would pay for sex, he replied: “I don’t pay them for sex.  I pay them to leave”.

Also this week, the New York Times published an anonymous op-ed by someone it identified as a “senior official” bragging about how, despite the achievements of the administration, Trump is a wild card whose orders the bureaucratic resistance thwarts at every turn.  Who knows who this person is or what position he holds.  (In the past, someone quoted by the NYT as a “senior official” turned out to be an intern.) 

Of course, without Trump as president, none of these achievements would have occurred.  In any event, numerous real senior officials discounted the claims.  The best of which was the incredible Nikki Haley. 

By making sweeping, but mostly unspecific, anonymous claims, the author creates many problems.  Taking this course sows mistrust among the thousands of government workers who do their jobs honestly every day.  It unfairly casts doubt on the president in a way that cannot be directly refuted because the anonymous accuser’s credibility and knowledge cannot be judged.  It encourages U.S. adversaries to promote their hostile claims about the stability of our government.


What’s more, by throwing gas on a fire of endless distraction, the author and the frenzied media reaction to the op-ed have hurt all of us trying to do our jobs for the country.


Dissent is as American as apple pie.  If you don’t like this president, you are free to say so, and people do that quite frequently and loudly.  But in the spirit of civility that the anonymous author claims to support, every American should want to see this administration succeed.  If it does, it’s a win for the American people.


As a former governor, I find it absolutely chilling to imagine that a high-ranking member of my team would secretly try to thwart my agenda.  That is not the American way.  It is fundamentally disloyal, not just to the chief executive, but to our country and our values. 


To Mr. or Ms. Anonymous, I say: Step up and help the administration do great things for the country.  If you disagree with some policies, make your case directly to the president.  If that doesn’t work, and you are truly bothered by the direction of the administration, then resign on principle.  There is no shame in that.  But do not stay in your position and secretly undermine the president and the rest of our team.  It is cowardly, it is anti-democratic, and it is a disservice to our country.

In the meantime, Barack Obama has hit the campaign trail violating the tradition that ex-presidents keep silent about those who follow them (a tradition G.W. Bush followed during Obama’s eight years and then also violated after his brother lost the nomination).  Reprising his logic-free, emotional straw-man gambits, Obama attacked the president.  This, the insane Kavanaugh hearing display, the Woodward book, and the anonymous op-ed all make me think the curtain is about to fall on the opposition party, the media and their lies.  Conrad Black thinks so, too.

Black suggests that Trump, having made Sessions the hero to the Democrats by publicly attacking his recusal and sloth, will leave them hard pressed to attack him when Sessions’s appointee John Huber brings charges against those former officials in the FBI and CIA who manipulated FISA to spy on the Trump campaign and the many people implicated in the Clinton foundation-Uranium One scandals which the previous administration swept aside.

Should I be wrong about the disgust rational people should bear against Trump’s political enemies, and the Democrats retake the House, they have no chance to impeach the president.  If I’m right, however, like Black, I hope Trump “will grind his heel in the faces of his rabid enemies,” the slouching beasts of chaos.  And the president is certainly campaigning around the country, in an unprecedentedly determined way, so I think that’s his plan, too.

Pardon me for the reference to Yeats’s poem “The Second Coming,” but events this week reminded me of the poem and this line: “the worst are full of passionate intensity.”

On the one hand, we have the most effective president in my lifetime, who has, as John Hinderaker details, pulled this country out of the economic doldrums, which were the direct result of the idiotic policies of his predecessor in office:

American wages unexpectedly…


Unexpectedly! 


…climbed in August by the most since the recession ended in 2009 and hiring rose by more than forecast, keeping the Federal Reserve on track to lift interest rates this month and making another hike in December more likely.


Average hourly earnings for private workers increased 2.9 percent from a year earlier, a Labor Department report showed Friday, exceeding all estimates in a Bloomberg survey and the median projection for 2.7 percent.  Nonfarm payrolls rose 201,000 from the prior month, topping the median forecast for 190,000 jobs.


This is reality.  The Democrats’ clown show is fantasy.  Fortunately, most people care more about reality than fantasy.  Still, both confusing the facts and distracting people from them are tactics at which the Left excels. 


A Democratic Congress never would have passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.  In fact, not a single Democrat voted for it.  And Hillary Clinton never would have signed it.  The progress the U.S. economy has made since Donald Trump took the helm from the hapless Barack Obama is an ongoing rebuke to the Democrats’ anti-growth policies.  This is one reason the Democrats are so anxious to regain control over the House in November.  With the House in Democrat hands, they won’t be able to repeal the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, but they will be able to guarantee that no more pro-growth, pro-worker legislation will be enacted.  They will focus on impeaching President Trump instead. 


In other words, if they get their way, fantasy will triumph over reality.

In the face of this reality, the “enemies” (he refuses to call them “adversaries”) of the president have revealed they are in a political death match with the president that they’ve already lost, says Conrad Black in a most convincing article that I urge you to read in its entirety:  

American election campaigns normally begin right after Labor Day, and on the first day this year, there were three blockbuster events.  First, the start of the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court justice-designate Brett Kavanaugh identified the Democrats implicitly with the shrieking hecklers who were evicted from the committee room.  And Senator Richard Durbin’s effort to stigmatize Judge Kavanaugh because he was chosen by “Donald John Trump,” who is (apparently) demonstratively “contemptuous of the rule of law,” and similar essays of enraged self-puffery by some of his colleagues, won’t fly.  The softer edge of the anti-Trump Resistance knows that despite frenzied efforts to extort and suborn evidence against Trump for two years, none has been found. …


Also on Tuesday, the Democrats fired an instantly fizzling cannon with the inevitable Bob Woodward’s customary pastiche of fabrications, unsourced misquotations, and malicious gossip.  Woodward’s credibility has been impugned by almost all of the last nine presidents; his original co-mythmaker Carl Bernstein has almost battered himself into insensibility with his pronouncements in the last six months that Trump was finished because under the 25th Amendment he was mentally incompetent and then because the Manafort and Cohen cases put him into the legal self-ejection seat.  Woodward, the old sniper who never dies, on Tuesday had the distinction of being called a liar by two four-star Marine generals, John Kelly and James Mattis, both among the very few holders of high public office in living memory whose integrity could not be and never has been questioned.  In this toxic atmosphere they were confirmed in the Senate last year by a combined vote of 186 to 12, nonpartisanship’s last gasp, for a while. … In a democracy, somebody will pay for this, and it is unlikely to be Donald John Trump, the principal accuser of the others.  Woodward should never have survived as an author after inventing the deathbed confession of a comatose William Casey in his nasty novel Veil about the Iran-Contra fiasco, but this time he took one for the losing team and shot himself in the head with a howitzer.  Sending him into battle to win it for the Democrats two months before the election is like dispatching a small brigade of very aged arsonists to fight one of the California summer forest fires that the new prophet of the Democrats, Bernie Sanders, says was caused by this president’s opinion of climate change.


Finally (still on the first day of the campaign), Robert Mueller accepted written answers to questions from the president on collusion matters.  Inspector Javert is hanging up his badge.  This is a concession that he can’t subpoena the president and has no evidence of Trump-Russia collusion and no chance of a perjury trap.  The thought, expressed by many in the media, that Mueller could still hang tough on questioning of the president about obstruction of justice is, like the Democratic-media echo chamber’s joyous ululations over the Woodward drivel, rubbish.  That circus has flopped; strike the tents.  Day One was a disaster for the Democrats.

It may well be time to change the fairly recent innovation of having Supreme Court confirmation hearings or, at a minimum, hearings in which the nominee testifies.  After all, since the hearing of Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the rule is that nominees cannot and will not answer questions respecting any “hints,” “forecasts” or “previews” – as into how they might rule on matters which may come before them.

So these hearings have simply become a means by which the Democrats try to tar otherwise sterling, well qualified nominees.

The results of the Kavanaugh confirmation process were certain before the hearings began.  He’s a well respected jurist with a spotless reputation.  Nothing has changed this, and with Senator Jon Kyl having been sworn into office by the vice president, and McConnell’s assurance of confirmation, he will certainly be seated by the time the Supreme Court begins its new term on October 1.  Nothing in this fiasco of a hearing has changed that. 

What has changed, I should think, is any serious notion that Cory Booker or Kamala Harris has a national political future after their outrageous performances this week.  Booker has exposed himself as an idiot, claiming he was like Spartacus in revealing classified information which had already been declassified, and which, in any event, showed that the judge had opposed “profiling.” 

Newt Gingrich said it best:

Cory Booker should study history before he tries to use it.  Calling a Senate publicity stunt his “Spartacus” moment was absurd.  Spartacus was a gladiator slave who rebelled, lost, was crucified.  Booker studied at Stanford, Oxford, Yale Law School.  His only risk is being ridiculed[.]

Kamala Harris’s unsubstantiated charge that the judge had discussed the Mueller investigation with an unnamed lawyer in a private firm at some unnamed date along with bullying the witness again demonstrates that she lacks the character and wit to hold even the senatorial seat, let alone higher office.

Worse, for the Democrats, the often paid and completely outrageous effort to bully the Judiciary Committee has to drive any moderate even farther from its ranks.  Latest reports say 200 people were arrested for their disruptive tactics.  They include this person who bloodied his crotch for the display, which was supposed to mean what?  And outside the hearing room, nitwits wearing costumes from The Handmaids Tale – again, for what end? 

If you’re wondering what all these cheap theatrics were about, in a series of tweets, here compressed for readability, Wretchard offers a rational explanation:

The new liberal strategy is not to argue but to confuse.  Create phantom objects, devise imaginary plots, sow intrigue, all with the view of giving Trump “a taste of his own medicine”.  They reckon that by reducing the battle to pure noise output the Mighty Wurlitzer will win.


The problem with this approach is that it multiplies chaos and essentially fries the normal comm[unication] channels.  Nobody gets the “word” because there is no word, unless that word is Noooooooo!!!


There is a second component to the liberal strategy: a deliberate attempt to be unpleasant, increase anxiety and induce an atmosphere of crisis.  The goal is to inflict deliberate pain, a pain that will only go away if you give them what they want.


The Constitutional Crisis will not go away, indeed it will get intolerably worse until they get what they want.  A judge once asked Charlie Sheen asked him why a man like him would pay for sex, he replied: “I don’t pay them for sex.  I pay them to leave”.

Also this week, the New York Times published an anonymous op-ed by someone it identified as a “senior official” bragging about how, despite the achievements of the administration, Trump is a wild card whose orders the bureaucratic resistance thwarts at every turn.  Who knows who this person is or what position he holds.  (In the past, someone quoted by the NYT as a “senior official” turned out to be an intern.) 

Of course, without Trump as president, none of these achievements would have occurred.  In any event, numerous real senior officials discounted the claims.  The best of which was the incredible Nikki Haley. 

By making sweeping, but mostly unspecific, anonymous claims, the author creates many problems.  Taking this course sows mistrust among the thousands of government workers who do their jobs honestly every day.  It unfairly casts doubt on the president in a way that cannot be directly refuted because the anonymous accuser’s credibility and knowledge cannot be judged.  It encourages U.S. adversaries to promote their hostile claims about the stability of our government.


What’s more, by throwing gas on a fire of endless distraction, the author and the frenzied media reaction to the op-ed have hurt all of us trying to do our jobs for the country.


Dissent is as American as apple pie.  If you don’t like this president, you are free to say so, and people do that quite frequently and loudly.  But in the spirit of civility that the anonymous author claims to support, every American should want to see this administration succeed.  If it does, it’s a win for the American people.


As a former governor, I find it absolutely chilling to imagine that a high-ranking member of my team would secretly try to thwart my agenda.  That is not the American way.  It is fundamentally disloyal, not just to the chief executive, but to our country and our values. 


To Mr. or Ms. Anonymous, I say: Step up and help the administration do great things for the country.  If you disagree with some policies, make your case directly to the president.  If that doesn’t work, and you are truly bothered by the direction of the administration, then resign on principle.  There is no shame in that.  But do not stay in your position and secretly undermine the president and the rest of our team.  It is cowardly, it is anti-democratic, and it is a disservice to our country.

In the meantime, Barack Obama has hit the campaign trail violating the tradition that ex-presidents keep silent about those who follow them (a tradition G.W. Bush followed during Obama’s eight years and then also violated after his brother lost the nomination).  Reprising his logic-free, emotional straw-man gambits, Obama attacked the president.  This, the insane Kavanaugh hearing display, the Woodward book, and the anonymous op-ed all make me think the curtain is about to fall on the opposition party, the media and their lies.  Conrad Black thinks so, too.

Black suggests that Trump, having made Sessions the hero to the Democrats by publicly attacking his recusal and sloth, will leave them hard pressed to attack him when Sessions’s appointee John Huber brings charges against those former officials in the FBI and CIA who manipulated FISA to spy on the Trump campaign and the many people implicated in the Clinton foundation-Uranium One scandals which the previous administration swept aside.

Should I be wrong about the disgust rational people should bear against Trump’s political enemies, and the Democrats retake the House, they have no chance to impeach the president.  If I’m right, however, like Black, I hope Trump “will grind his heel in the faces of his rabid enemies,” the slouching beasts of chaos.  And the president is certainly campaigning around the country, in an unprecedentedly determined way, so I think that’s his plan, too.



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Putin is Here to Stay, and the Russian State Will Die with Him


Vladimir Putin arose to power in Russia when he was 47 years old.  He is now 66.  Putin’s first two terms in office were generally successful: he presided over an expansion of the Russian economy; the military was modernized; and he even – more controversially – had successes in Russia’s longstanding conflict with Chechen rebels and with NATO observing member Georgia.  All of these actions, taken together, made Putin a popular leader among the Russian electorate.  He was, to play on a popular phrase, making Russia great again after the chaotic decade following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

However, in the immortal words of The Dark Knight‘s Harvey Dent, “You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”  This is precisely what has transpired in Russia today (though, in this case, the term “hero” when describing Vladimir Putin is entirely subjective).  Putin could have left office in 2008 as a generally good leader (according to Russian standards, at least). Yet, he transmogrified himself into a steely autocrat.  Putin temporarily removed himself from the presidency to become prime minister.  But this was less out of a Washingtonian sense of fidelity to the constitution and more of a Machiavellian move to trick foreign observers, and to allow for him to rewrite the constitution.

What Constitution?

Putin once again returned to the Kremlin in 2012 – after a terribly contentious election, in which large swathes of Russians (backed by Western non-government organizations, in many cases) protested Putin’s return.  Since that time, Putin has been on the warpath.  He has aggregated increasing levels of power toward himself and his allies in Moscow; he has engaged in an overtly antagonistic military campaign against the West (again, the West is not entirely innocent in the creation of these circumstances); and he has systematically crushed all domestic opposition.

In 2018, Putin was elected again to the presidency.  Under the current Russian constitution, President Putin must leave office by 2024.  By that point in time, Putin will be 72.  Despite the fact that the average lifespan for a Russian male today is 66, Mr. Putin appears to be in perfect health – a notion reinforced by Putin’s incessant need to ride bareback in the Russian Far East and to display his judo skills at the drop of an ushanka.

In other words, Vladimir Putin will likely be alive and well in 2024 – and quite possibly ready to stay on for another term as the president of Russia.  Besides, even if Putin did not want to stay, it is unlikely that any potential successor could keep Russia together.  Even today, as Putin increases his grasp on power, the country continues fraying along its periphery.  It is only the silnaya ruka – the iron fist of centralized power – that keeps the vast expanse known as the Russian Federation together.  Increasingly, that centralized power is Vladimir Putin’s.

Putin’s reign has long emulated the reign of fellow post-Soviet leaders, such as those of neighboring Belarus and Kazakhstan.  Following the autocratic ethos of one-man rule, Putin has purged Russia of any potential successors to his reign.  The one time he attempted to choose a successor – Dmitri Medvedev – he was deeply disappointed.  Viewing the young Russian attorney as far too friendly toward the West, by the middle of Medvedev’s single term as president, Putin had hollowed out Medvedev’s power.

Not a Deep Bench

Looking forward, Russia is in a difficult position in terms of presidential successors.  The younger generation of leaders are all Putin lackeys.  Like Medvedev, they are unimaginative, and, aside from holding power in Russia, these folks are unexceptional.  The same was said by many of Vladimir Putin when Boris Yeltsin chose Putin to be his successor.  However, the difference is that Yeltsin was a weak and somewhat benign leader, whereas Putin is an autocrat who jealously guards his power.  Whatever might be said about the system under Yeltsin, it allowed for some leaders to rise.  Putin’s autocracy has neutered Russia of any competent leadership for after he leaves office.

The closer we get to 2024, I expect Putin to alter the Russian constitution as he did before the 2012 election, allowing for him to remain in office indefinitely.  Once that occurs, you can start timing how long it will take for Russia to move toward collapse.  After all, whatever comes after Putin will not be a democracy as we understand it (any more than post-Saddam Hussein Iraq became a democracy).  Given the weakness of potential autocratic successors to Putin, Russia will likely break up along its constituent parts.  It will become a chaos state, armed with stores of nuclear – and other – weapons of mass destruction.

Not only are the younger Russian leaders likely incapable of keeping all of Russia’s constituent parts together in a post-Putin political system, but the older generation is as well.  They are either too brutal or will simply be too old when Putin leaves office.

Dear Pentagon: Prepare for Russian Collapse and Loose Nukes

Therefore, I propose that the Pentagon and America’s allies begin planning for the point when Putin is no longer in power.  How would Western officials secure potential loose Russian WMD?  After Putin, it is unlikely that Moscow will be able to maintain central control over its military.

The Pentagon needs to start working out loose nuke scenarios today – how to contain them, whom in Russia to secretly buy off to stop WMD proliferation, etc.  Washington’s priority must be to prevent widespread proliferation of WMD from Russia.

From there, European leaders will have to contemplate how best to respond to the inevitable refugee flows that will emanate from a completely collapsing Russia.  Meanwhile, Asia will have to brace for the time when China takes the lion’s share of natural resources and land from Russia’s Far East.  At that point, China will not only be an economic juggernaut, but will overnight become a natural resources superpower, thereby making it a true challenger to the United States.

World leaders should begin courting the leaders of the various Russian oblasts, so as to have direct linkages with those who would likely arise to rule whatever new states grow out of the ashes of a disintegrating Russia.

The United States cannot hope for the best in Russia.  Policymakers must assume that Putin will retain his grip on power and continue atomizing Russian society.  If that’s the case, then the Russian state will die with Putin.

Vladimir Putin arose to power in Russia when he was 47 years old.  He is now 66.  Putin’s first two terms in office were generally successful: he presided over an expansion of the Russian economy; the military was modernized; and he even – more controversially – had successes in Russia’s longstanding conflict with Chechen rebels and with NATO observing member Georgia.  All of these actions, taken together, made Putin a popular leader among the Russian electorate.  He was, to play on a popular phrase, making Russia great again after the chaotic decade following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

However, in the immortal words of The Dark Knight‘s Harvey Dent, “You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”  This is precisely what has transpired in Russia today (though, in this case, the term “hero” when describing Vladimir Putin is entirely subjective).  Putin could have left office in 2008 as a generally good leader (according to Russian standards, at least). Yet, he transmogrified himself into a steely autocrat.  Putin temporarily removed himself from the presidency to become prime minister.  But this was less out of a Washingtonian sense of fidelity to the constitution and more of a Machiavellian move to trick foreign observers, and to allow for him to rewrite the constitution.

What Constitution?

Putin once again returned to the Kremlin in 2012 – after a terribly contentious election, in which large swathes of Russians (backed by Western non-government organizations, in many cases) protested Putin’s return.  Since that time, Putin has been on the warpath.  He has aggregated increasing levels of power toward himself and his allies in Moscow; he has engaged in an overtly antagonistic military campaign against the West (again, the West is not entirely innocent in the creation of these circumstances); and he has systematically crushed all domestic opposition.

In 2018, Putin was elected again to the presidency.  Under the current Russian constitution, President Putin must leave office by 2024.  By that point in time, Putin will be 72.  Despite the fact that the average lifespan for a Russian male today is 66, Mr. Putin appears to be in perfect health – a notion reinforced by Putin’s incessant need to ride bareback in the Russian Far East and to display his judo skills at the drop of an ushanka.

In other words, Vladimir Putin will likely be alive and well in 2024 – and quite possibly ready to stay on for another term as the president of Russia.  Besides, even if Putin did not want to stay, it is unlikely that any potential successor could keep Russia together.  Even today, as Putin increases his grasp on power, the country continues fraying along its periphery.  It is only the silnaya ruka – the iron fist of centralized power – that keeps the vast expanse known as the Russian Federation together.  Increasingly, that centralized power is Vladimir Putin’s.

Putin’s reign has long emulated the reign of fellow post-Soviet leaders, such as those of neighboring Belarus and Kazakhstan.  Following the autocratic ethos of one-man rule, Putin has purged Russia of any potential successors to his reign.  The one time he attempted to choose a successor – Dmitri Medvedev – he was deeply disappointed.  Viewing the young Russian attorney as far too friendly toward the West, by the middle of Medvedev’s single term as president, Putin had hollowed out Medvedev’s power.

Not a Deep Bench

Looking forward, Russia is in a difficult position in terms of presidential successors.  The younger generation of leaders are all Putin lackeys.  Like Medvedev, they are unimaginative, and, aside from holding power in Russia, these folks are unexceptional.  The same was said by many of Vladimir Putin when Boris Yeltsin chose Putin to be his successor.  However, the difference is that Yeltsin was a weak and somewhat benign leader, whereas Putin is an autocrat who jealously guards his power.  Whatever might be said about the system under Yeltsin, it allowed for some leaders to rise.  Putin’s autocracy has neutered Russia of any competent leadership for after he leaves office.

The closer we get to 2024, I expect Putin to alter the Russian constitution as he did before the 2012 election, allowing for him to remain in office indefinitely.  Once that occurs, you can start timing how long it will take for Russia to move toward collapse.  After all, whatever comes after Putin will not be a democracy as we understand it (any more than post-Saddam Hussein Iraq became a democracy).  Given the weakness of potential autocratic successors to Putin, Russia will likely break up along its constituent parts.  It will become a chaos state, armed with stores of nuclear – and other – weapons of mass destruction.

Not only are the younger Russian leaders likely incapable of keeping all of Russia’s constituent parts together in a post-Putin political system, but the older generation is as well.  They are either too brutal or will simply be too old when Putin leaves office.

Dear Pentagon: Prepare for Russian Collapse and Loose Nukes

Therefore, I propose that the Pentagon and America’s allies begin planning for the point when Putin is no longer in power.  How would Western officials secure potential loose Russian WMD?  After Putin, it is unlikely that Moscow will be able to maintain central control over its military.

The Pentagon needs to start working out loose nuke scenarios today – how to contain them, whom in Russia to secretly buy off to stop WMD proliferation, etc.  Washington’s priority must be to prevent widespread proliferation of WMD from Russia.

From there, European leaders will have to contemplate how best to respond to the inevitable refugee flows that will emanate from a completely collapsing Russia.  Meanwhile, Asia will have to brace for the time when China takes the lion’s share of natural resources and land from Russia’s Far East.  At that point, China will not only be an economic juggernaut, but will overnight become a natural resources superpower, thereby making it a true challenger to the United States.

World leaders should begin courting the leaders of the various Russian oblasts, so as to have direct linkages with those who would likely arise to rule whatever new states grow out of the ashes of a disintegrating Russia.

The United States cannot hope for the best in Russia.  Policymakers must assume that Putin will retain his grip on power and continue atomizing Russian society.  If that’s the case, then the Russian state will die with Putin.



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Bring Back Shame


James B. Twitchell in his 1997 book For Shame: The Loss of Common Decency in American Culture asserts that “we are living in shameless times,” as compared to when he was growing up in the 1950s, when “public drunkenness, filing for bankruptcy  … drug addiction, hitting a woman, looting stores, using vulgar language in public, being on the public dole [and] getting a divorce” were considered shameful, and “most of these reflected concerns about limiting individual behavior within a group.”

What once was considered a private matter now results in haphazard public defecations.  San Francisco currently boasts a “poop map” as the city reports a 140% rise in feces.  Taboos that used to entail modesty have disappeared.

Instead, according to Twitchell, shame has been “redirected to trivial concerns,” and Americans have lost their “receptiveness to shame.”  Promoting unwed teenage mothers and not hectoring their “reprobate companions” barely raise eyebrows.  Twitchell asks, “Why do we not excoriate the unwed teenage mother?”  Instead, we are privy to a television show titled Teen Mom.

When Hollywood folk have children out of wedlock, they are praised, but “all hell would break loose” if someone were caught wearing mink or baby seal.  Our priorities have been turned inside-out.

In the Jewish Press of July 20, 2018, author John Rosemond explains how psychologists have long accepted the idea that a child’s bad behavior is nothing more than a symptom of some emotional tension and that punishment would only make matters worse.  Thus, by “pseudo-intellectual alchemy, a misbehaving child was transformed from a perpetrator into a victim deserving, not discipline, but great understanding and sympathy.”  Such beliefs “absolved ill-behaved children of responsibility for their various anti-social outbursts[.]”  Shame is not an obstacle to self-esteem, as many would assert; instead, “shamelessness becomes a cultural toxin.”

Daniel Patrick Moynihan coined the term “Defining Deviancy Down” to describe how we legitimize behavior previously regarded as antisocial or criminal.”  When dysfunctional becomes the norm, the functional turns abnormal.  Consequently, there is nothing unseemly about a so-called comedian holding up the decapitated head of a president, and there is nothing improper about inviting someone to a dinner only to bash her publicly and expect her to sit and smile.  Obama created a scenario where minority students would be held less accountable concerning school disruptions, therefore delinquency and school violence increased.

In just the first year after Obama in January 2014 issued his new discipline guidelines – which came with threats of federal investigations and defunding – schools saw more than 160,000 ‘physical attacks’ on teachers across the country.

Pointing this out results in being called a racist.  The R-word is used so frequently that it has lost its actual meaning.

In order to distract from behavior that hurts the community, language is constantly corrupted with such “psychobabble as ‘codependency'” and “edubabble as ‘invitational education,'” resulting in the destruction of any real meaning in language.

In Moynihan’s Summer 1993 article in The Public Interest, titled “Toward a New Intolerance,” he emphasizes that “most importantly, and absolutely essential is the decline of family.”  Thus, in 1943, the illegitimacy rate in new York City was three percent.  In 1992, it was 45 percent.  Two thousand ten statistics indicate the following:







Racial or ethnic group

Percent of births considered “non-marital”

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

17 percent

Non-Hispanic whites

29 percent

Hispanics

53 percent

American Indian and Native Alaskans

66 percent

Non-Hispanic blacks

73 percent

Moynihan cites correspondence he had with Justice Edwin Torres, who had been raised in the barrio on 108th Street in New York City.  Torres emphasizes that “a society that loses its sense of outrage is doomed to extinction.”

Yet, broad scale social regression appears to have taken center stage in this country. 

Shelby Steele points out in Shame: How America’s Past Sins have Polarized Our Country how black conservatives are viewed as “opportunistic or, worse, self-hating, and sycophantic” rather than as voices that may hold a different point of view.  Shame is not used to create cohesion; it is used to divide America into balkanized political camps and to denigrate black Americans by smothering their individual voices. 

It is, however, not viewed as shameful that anti-Semitic, American-hating individuals run for political office.  In addition, criminal behavior is excused.  In the past, Marion Barry, former videotaped crack-smoker, was re-elected as mayor of Washington.  Clinton, a serial rapist, is welcomed to McCain’s funeral, as is his wife, who as a “manifest felon” is the epitome of every unscrupulous behavior and trickery she can get away with by committing fraud, harming American lives, and lying to the American public.

Farrakhan, who hates whites and Jews with a vengeance sits comfortably in the front of the McCain ceremony and no one bothers to comment about his odious deeds.  Michelle Malkin eloquently describes the crass and despicable behavior that characterized the John McCain and Aretha Franklin funeral services.

Twitchell speaks about “intellectual shame.”  Grades that were meant to be a catalyst for improvement become meaningless in a world where any interpretation of a subject is no better than another.  Then grades are eliminated; standardized tests are no longer mandatory, or scores are manipulated depending upon the ethnicity of the test-taker.

More recently, the University of Houston, Texas’s third largest university, has been stonewalling allegations that a school superintendent plagiarized the doctoral dissertation he submitted as a student at the university’s College of Education.

Rutgers athletics football program was rocked when law enforcement announced that six active players were among ten people charged with a string of crimes around campus including home invasions and aggravated assaults.

At all levels of education, standards have precipitously dropped, academic expectations are lowered and campus groupthink reigns supreme as “institutions once devoted to the pursuit of truth and the free exchange of ideas now engage in the infantilisation of students.”  The “crucial ceremonies of adult decency” are lost.

In 1974 Eric Hoffer penned a piece titled “Long Live Shame!” wherein he asserted that “there is one dangerous threat that no society can escape: namely, the recurrent threat of disruption by juveniles as a young generation passes from boyhood to manhood.”  In his cogent piece, he writes:

Shame, far more than guilt, involves an awareness by the individual of being watched and judged by the group. It is to be expected, therefore, that the more compact the group, the more pronounced the sense of shame.  The member of a compact group carries the group within him, and never feels alone.

Yet Woody Allen saw “no moral dilemma whatsoever” in having an affair with the 20-year-old adopted daughter of Mia Farrow, with whom he’d raised a family. 

Then there is the disgusting display of Harvey Weinstein, who seemingly can never control himself.

Powerful people continue to be duplicitous and get away with it.  We are still awaiting the truth about Benghazi, Fast and Furious, and Huma Abedin’s Muslim Brotherhood connections. 

Then there are the social media moguls.  According to a report in The New York Times, Facebook began granting inappropriate access to personal information of its users to third parties around ten years ago, yet in front of Congress, Zuckerberg fudged this information.  This graphic puts a lie to Zuckerberg’s mealy-mouthed assertions.

Should we be surprised that young people have little respect for any societal rules?  The fact that nothing is sacred, that all taboos are to be dismissively diminished has created a scenario where young people have no support net to fall back upon.

If America returned to a time wherein bad manners and crude and lewd behavior were considered verboten instead of being applauded and protected, perhaps a #MeToo Movement would not have been needed.

Forty-five years since Hoffer wrote “Long Live Shame” his words are quite prescient.

In this country at present the inability of adults to socialize their young has made it possible for juveniles to follow their bents, act on their impulses, and materialize their fantasies and the ‘result has been a youth culture flauntingly shameless.’

Consider the vicious attacks on people and property that are countenanced, certainly rarely stopped as Antifa, and Black Lives Matters and their ilk run roughshod in the country.  This is not an assertion of civil liberties.  It is pure violence, plain and simple.  College administrators watch while their universities are trampled upon. 

This confirms another Hoffer assertion: “[t]he disconcerting thing is that loss of shame is not confined to juveniles.”

Shame properly used is “how a sense of decency is developed.”  It protects the group from the dangers of individual excesses.  It is a balancing tool that keeps people accountable.

In classical Greek mythology, Aidos was the “goddess of modesty, shame, reverence and respect.  She was a companion of the goddess Nemesis.  As a quality Aidos was the feeling of shame which restrains men from doing wrong, while Nemesis was righteous indignation aroused by the sight of wicked men receiving undeserved good fortune.”

Eileen can be reached at middlemarch18@gmail.com.

Now that the eulogy – I mean grotesque political self-aggrandizing McCain funeral service – is over, featuring some of the most egotistical, self-serving, and corrupt individuals, Candace Owens succinctly states that “[t]his new trend of using funerals and eulogies to deliver political messages is really quite disgusting.  Everyone involved should be ashamed[.]”

Consider how America has lost an awareness of the value of shame.  As defined, shame is a “painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.”

James B. Twitchell in his 1997 book For Shame: The Loss of Common Decency in American Culture asserts that “we are living in shameless times,” as compared to when he was growing up in the 1950s, when “public drunkenness, filing for bankruptcy  … drug addiction, hitting a woman, looting stores, using vulgar language in public, being on the public dole [and] getting a divorce” were considered shameful, and “most of these reflected concerns about limiting individual behavior within a group.”

What once was considered a private matter now results in haphazard public defecations.  San Francisco currently boasts a “poop map” as the city reports a 140% rise in feces.  Taboos that used to entail modesty have disappeared.

Instead, according to Twitchell, shame has been “redirected to trivial concerns,” and Americans have lost their “receptiveness to shame.”  Promoting unwed teenage mothers and not hectoring their “reprobate companions” barely raise eyebrows.  Twitchell asks, “Why do we not excoriate the unwed teenage mother?”  Instead, we are privy to a television show titled Teen Mom.

When Hollywood folk have children out of wedlock, they are praised, but “all hell would break loose” if someone were caught wearing mink or baby seal.  Our priorities have been turned inside-out.

In the Jewish Press of July 20, 2018, author John Rosemond explains how psychologists have long accepted the idea that a child’s bad behavior is nothing more than a symptom of some emotional tension and that punishment would only make matters worse.  Thus, by “pseudo-intellectual alchemy, a misbehaving child was transformed from a perpetrator into a victim deserving, not discipline, but great understanding and sympathy.”  Such beliefs “absolved ill-behaved children of responsibility for their various anti-social outbursts[.]”  Shame is not an obstacle to self-esteem, as many would assert; instead, “shamelessness becomes a cultural toxin.”

Daniel Patrick Moynihan coined the term “Defining Deviancy Down” to describe how we legitimize behavior previously regarded as antisocial or criminal.”  When dysfunctional becomes the norm, the functional turns abnormal.  Consequently, there is nothing unseemly about a so-called comedian holding up the decapitated head of a president, and there is nothing improper about inviting someone to a dinner only to bash her publicly and expect her to sit and smile.  Obama created a scenario where minority students would be held less accountable concerning school disruptions, therefore delinquency and school violence increased.

In just the first year after Obama in January 2014 issued his new discipline guidelines – which came with threats of federal investigations and defunding – schools saw more than 160,000 ‘physical attacks’ on teachers across the country.

Pointing this out results in being called a racist.  The R-word is used so frequently that it has lost its actual meaning.

In order to distract from behavior that hurts the community, language is constantly corrupted with such “psychobabble as ‘codependency'” and “edubabble as ‘invitational education,'” resulting in the destruction of any real meaning in language.

In Moynihan’s Summer 1993 article in The Public Interest, titled “Toward a New Intolerance,” he emphasizes that “most importantly, and absolutely essential is the decline of family.”  Thus, in 1943, the illegitimacy rate in new York City was three percent.  In 1992, it was 45 percent.  Two thousand ten statistics indicate the following:







Racial or ethnic group

Percent of births considered “non-marital”

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

17 percent

Non-Hispanic whites

29 percent

Hispanics

53 percent

American Indian and Native Alaskans

66 percent

Non-Hispanic blacks

73 percent

Moynihan cites correspondence he had with Justice Edwin Torres, who had been raised in the barrio on 108th Street in New York City.  Torres emphasizes that “a society that loses its sense of outrage is doomed to extinction.”

Yet, broad scale social regression appears to have taken center stage in this country. 

Shelby Steele points out in Shame: How America’s Past Sins have Polarized Our Country how black conservatives are viewed as “opportunistic or, worse, self-hating, and sycophantic” rather than as voices that may hold a different point of view.  Shame is not used to create cohesion; it is used to divide America into balkanized political camps and to denigrate black Americans by smothering their individual voices. 

It is, however, not viewed as shameful that anti-Semitic, American-hating individuals run for political office.  In addition, criminal behavior is excused.  In the past, Marion Barry, former videotaped crack-smoker, was re-elected as mayor of Washington.  Clinton, a serial rapist, is welcomed to McCain’s funeral, as is his wife, who as a “manifest felon” is the epitome of every unscrupulous behavior and trickery she can get away with by committing fraud, harming American lives, and lying to the American public.

Farrakhan, who hates whites and Jews with a vengeance sits comfortably in the front of the McCain ceremony and no one bothers to comment about his odious deeds.  Michelle Malkin eloquently describes the crass and despicable behavior that characterized the John McCain and Aretha Franklin funeral services.

Twitchell speaks about “intellectual shame.”  Grades that were meant to be a catalyst for improvement become meaningless in a world where any interpretation of a subject is no better than another.  Then grades are eliminated; standardized tests are no longer mandatory, or scores are manipulated depending upon the ethnicity of the test-taker.

More recently, the University of Houston, Texas’s third largest university, has been stonewalling allegations that a school superintendent plagiarized the doctoral dissertation he submitted as a student at the university’s College of Education.

Rutgers athletics football program was rocked when law enforcement announced that six active players were among ten people charged with a string of crimes around campus including home invasions and aggravated assaults.

At all levels of education, standards have precipitously dropped, academic expectations are lowered and campus groupthink reigns supreme as “institutions once devoted to the pursuit of truth and the free exchange of ideas now engage in the infantilisation of students.”  The “crucial ceremonies of adult decency” are lost.

In 1974 Eric Hoffer penned a piece titled “Long Live Shame!” wherein he asserted that “there is one dangerous threat that no society can escape: namely, the recurrent threat of disruption by juveniles as a young generation passes from boyhood to manhood.”  In his cogent piece, he writes:

Shame, far more than guilt, involves an awareness by the individual of being watched and judged by the group. It is to be expected, therefore, that the more compact the group, the more pronounced the sense of shame.  The member of a compact group carries the group within him, and never feels alone.

Yet Woody Allen saw “no moral dilemma whatsoever” in having an affair with the 20-year-old adopted daughter of Mia Farrow, with whom he’d raised a family. 

Then there is the disgusting display of Harvey Weinstein, who seemingly can never control himself.

Powerful people continue to be duplicitous and get away with it.  We are still awaiting the truth about Benghazi, Fast and Furious, and Huma Abedin’s Muslim Brotherhood connections. 

Then there are the social media moguls.  According to a report in The New York Times, Facebook began granting inappropriate access to personal information of its users to third parties around ten years ago, yet in front of Congress, Zuckerberg fudged this information.  This graphic puts a lie to Zuckerberg’s mealy-mouthed assertions.

Should we be surprised that young people have little respect for any societal rules?  The fact that nothing is sacred, that all taboos are to be dismissively diminished has created a scenario where young people have no support net to fall back upon.

If America returned to a time wherein bad manners and crude and lewd behavior were considered verboten instead of being applauded and protected, perhaps a #MeToo Movement would not have been needed.

Forty-five years since Hoffer wrote “Long Live Shame” his words are quite prescient.

In this country at present the inability of adults to socialize their young has made it possible for juveniles to follow their bents, act on their impulses, and materialize their fantasies and the ‘result has been a youth culture flauntingly shameless.’

Consider the vicious attacks on people and property that are countenanced, certainly rarely stopped as Antifa, and Black Lives Matters and their ilk run roughshod in the country.  This is not an assertion of civil liberties.  It is pure violence, plain and simple.  College administrators watch while their universities are trampled upon. 

This confirms another Hoffer assertion: “[t]he disconcerting thing is that loss of shame is not confined to juveniles.”

Shame properly used is “how a sense of decency is developed.”  It protects the group from the dangers of individual excesses.  It is a balancing tool that keeps people accountable.

In classical Greek mythology, Aidos was the “goddess of modesty, shame, reverence and respect.  She was a companion of the goddess Nemesis.  As a quality Aidos was the feeling of shame which restrains men from doing wrong, while Nemesis was righteous indignation aroused by the sight of wicked men receiving undeserved good fortune.”

Eileen can be reached at middlemarch18@gmail.com.



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208882.png

The Unbearable Whiteness of Being


There can be little doubt that the modern university, in its obsession with race, gender, and sexual orientation under the rubric of “social justice,” has violated its core mandate, which, in the words of Matthew Arnold from Culture and Anarchy, is to familiarize readers and students with “the best that has been thought and said.”  The Academy has turned Arnold’s maxim on its head, instructing students in the worst that has been thought and said – and done.  The curricular fetish of “social justice,” which is destroying the university as an institution of higher learning, continues to metastasize.

Indeed, the university as a social and cultural institution is a slow-motion train wreck picking up speed: equity hiring, affirmative action, anti-conservative and overt leftist politics, the “diversity and inclusion” myth on which the academy prides itself, groupthink, speech codes, snitch lines, trigger warnings, safe spaces, microaggressions, the attack on academic freedom – the list goes on.

The bogus issue that has recently acquired major prominence in the quagmire of campus politics is “whiteness,” especially the “hegemony” of straight white males and their champions, guilty, apparently, of every conceivable ill that has bedeviled the world since the first silverback descended from the trees.  This is merely a prime manifestation of the reigning hysteria on college campuses, in particular its mephitic obsession with race.  “The toxic racial climate of colleges looks to be perpetual,” warns Scott Greer in No Campus for White Men; anti-white ferocity “remains established as an unchallenged dogma.”  There is no campus for some white woman as well.  Witness the current vendetta against distinguished University of Chicago medievalist Rachel Fulton Brown.

The author of a blog post “Three Cheers for White Men,” a committed Catholic and a lover of Western civilization and its Christian foundations, as her many books confirm, Fulton Brown has been vilified as a Nazi and a hater.  For daring to defend Western Christendom as the source of many of our most cherished values of sex equality and respect for individual worth, she has been targeted by a mob of professors of literature, history, and medieval studies who are determined to destroy her professionally, writing an open letter to her university, festooned with 1,500 signatures and stating that she is a disgrace to the history department.


The University of Chicago in 2005 (credit: Ibrahim Old).

The intent of the open letter is clearly to have Fulton Brown fired or at least disciplined.  She is reviled as a white supremacist spreading hetero-patriarchal desecrations.  The profanity hurled against her on Twitter by a presumably cultivated professoriate is unprintable, fit only for the lower depths.  As Richard Mitchell aptly wrote in The Graves of Academe, “[t]he prodigious monster is down there.”

Naturally, the fact that the entire infrastructure these gutter academics take for granted – the electrical grid that lights their libraries and offices, the buildings in which they sit and type their treatises, the roads they drive on and the planes they fly in, the Twitter feeds and Facebook posts that facilitate their frenzied denunciations of those they deem beyond the pale, the medications that keep them going, the food they put on the table, the table they put under the food, the vintage wines they sip in the faculty lounge, the plumbing on which they rely, the physical and technical maintenance that enables them to survive, the accessories of any sort they assume as given – indeed, just about everything is due to the labor, ingenuity, risk, and entrepreneurial innovation of mainly straight white males of European and American provenance and to the uniformly despised capitalist enterprise.  As my wife Janice Fiamengo vividly points out in her recent Fiamengo File video on the issue, the hypocrisy is astronomical.

In focusing on the Fulton Brown fiasco, I will surely be accused by detractors of cherry-picking, but any observer willing to do the research will find that the entire cherry orchard is tainted, scarcely a healthy drupe to be found.  Globe and Mail columnist Doug Saunders, for example, derides such reports of university malfeasance, claiming, “To mistake a colourful anecdote for a measurable trend is a basic scholarly mistake.”  The instance I’ve cited, however, is not anomalous, but symptomatic.  Saunders should know better.  The mistake is his, either an expression of profound ignorance or a deliberate lie.

As Milo Yiannopoulos writes in a major defense of Fulton Brown, an inquisition is underway led by an army of self-proclaimed “arbiters of moral taste, determined to rid the field of infidels.”  They are intent on “burning the witch.”  Fulton Brown’s heresy is her affirmation that the study of the Middle Ages “is fundamental to understanding how the Christian West emerged, and how dramatically its character differs from other cultures,” which explains the current moral panic about white supremacy presumably associated with the period.  “But the most absurd dimension of it all,” Yiannopoulos continues, “is that nothing associates the Middle Ages with white supremacy more than journalists and academics shrieking about it.”

In his seminal volume White Guilt, black scholar Shelby Steele deplores the consequences of what he calls dissociational thinking, the academic tendency to dissociate excellence and truth from a marketable conception of social virtue and justice and to regard race and ethnicity – non-white, of course – as meritorious in themselves.  Excellence has become irrelevant as whiteness has become sinister.  Dissociation, he concludes, “is a power that always works by eroding the quality of the host institution” while creating a “vacuum of moral authority at the center of American life.”

To be white, Christian, and proud of one’s heritage is now the kiss of death.  Rachel Fulton Brown, an excellent scholar and a woman of high moral character, is the most recent victim of the dissociational bigotry that governs the university environment.  She won’t be the last.


Note: Academics wishing to sign an open letter by the National Association of Scholars defending Fulton Brown can find it here.

There can be little doubt that the modern university, in its obsession with race, gender, and sexual orientation under the rubric of “social justice,” has violated its core mandate, which, in the words of Matthew Arnold from Culture and Anarchy, is to familiarize readers and students with “the best that has been thought and said.”  The Academy has turned Arnold’s maxim on its head, instructing students in the worst that has been thought and said – and done.  The curricular fetish of “social justice,” which is destroying the university as an institution of higher learning, continues to metastasize.

Indeed, the university as a social and cultural institution is a slow-motion train wreck picking up speed: equity hiring, affirmative action, anti-conservative and overt leftist politics, the “diversity and inclusion” myth on which the academy prides itself, groupthink, speech codes, snitch lines, trigger warnings, safe spaces, microaggressions, the attack on academic freedom – the list goes on.

The bogus issue that has recently acquired major prominence in the quagmire of campus politics is “whiteness,” especially the “hegemony” of straight white males and their champions, guilty, apparently, of every conceivable ill that has bedeviled the world since the first silverback descended from the trees.  This is merely a prime manifestation of the reigning hysteria on college campuses, in particular its mephitic obsession with race.  “The toxic racial climate of colleges looks to be perpetual,” warns Scott Greer in No Campus for White Men; anti-white ferocity “remains established as an unchallenged dogma.”  There is no campus for some white woman as well.  Witness the current vendetta against distinguished University of Chicago medievalist Rachel Fulton Brown.

The author of a blog post “Three Cheers for White Men,” a committed Catholic and a lover of Western civilization and its Christian foundations, as her many books confirm, Fulton Brown has been vilified as a Nazi and a hater.  For daring to defend Western Christendom as the source of many of our most cherished values of sex equality and respect for individual worth, she has been targeted by a mob of professors of literature, history, and medieval studies who are determined to destroy her professionally, writing an open letter to her university, festooned with 1,500 signatures and stating that she is a disgrace to the history department.


The University of Chicago in 2005 (credit: Ibrahim Old).

The intent of the open letter is clearly to have Fulton Brown fired or at least disciplined.  She is reviled as a white supremacist spreading hetero-patriarchal desecrations.  The profanity hurled against her on Twitter by a presumably cultivated professoriate is unprintable, fit only for the lower depths.  As Richard Mitchell aptly wrote in The Graves of Academe, “[t]he prodigious monster is down there.”

Naturally, the fact that the entire infrastructure these gutter academics take for granted – the electrical grid that lights their libraries and offices, the buildings in which they sit and type their treatises, the roads they drive on and the planes they fly in, the Twitter feeds and Facebook posts that facilitate their frenzied denunciations of those they deem beyond the pale, the medications that keep them going, the food they put on the table, the table they put under the food, the vintage wines they sip in the faculty lounge, the plumbing on which they rely, the physical and technical maintenance that enables them to survive, the accessories of any sort they assume as given – indeed, just about everything is due to the labor, ingenuity, risk, and entrepreneurial innovation of mainly straight white males of European and American provenance and to the uniformly despised capitalist enterprise.  As my wife Janice Fiamengo vividly points out in her recent Fiamengo File video on the issue, the hypocrisy is astronomical.

In focusing on the Fulton Brown fiasco, I will surely be accused by detractors of cherry-picking, but any observer willing to do the research will find that the entire cherry orchard is tainted, scarcely a healthy drupe to be found.  Globe and Mail columnist Doug Saunders, for example, derides such reports of university malfeasance, claiming, “To mistake a colourful anecdote for a measurable trend is a basic scholarly mistake.”  The instance I’ve cited, however, is not anomalous, but symptomatic.  Saunders should know better.  The mistake is his, either an expression of profound ignorance or a deliberate lie.

As Milo Yiannopoulos writes in a major defense of Fulton Brown, an inquisition is underway led by an army of self-proclaimed “arbiters of moral taste, determined to rid the field of infidels.”  They are intent on “burning the witch.”  Fulton Brown’s heresy is her affirmation that the study of the Middle Ages “is fundamental to understanding how the Christian West emerged, and how dramatically its character differs from other cultures,” which explains the current moral panic about white supremacy presumably associated with the period.  “But the most absurd dimension of it all,” Yiannopoulos continues, “is that nothing associates the Middle Ages with white supremacy more than journalists and academics shrieking about it.”

In his seminal volume White Guilt, black scholar Shelby Steele deplores the consequences of what he calls dissociational thinking, the academic tendency to dissociate excellence and truth from a marketable conception of social virtue and justice and to regard race and ethnicity – non-white, of course – as meritorious in themselves.  Excellence has become irrelevant as whiteness has become sinister.  Dissociation, he concludes, “is a power that always works by eroding the quality of the host institution” while creating a “vacuum of moral authority at the center of American life.”

To be white, Christian, and proud of one’s heritage is now the kiss of death.  Rachel Fulton Brown, an excellent scholar and a woman of high moral character, is the most recent victim of the dissociational bigotry that governs the university environment.  She won’t be the last.


Note: Academics wishing to sign an open letter by the National Association of Scholars defending Fulton Brown can find it here.



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The Scallops War: Food for Thought


Music may be the food of love, but the quest for food has often been the cause of friction and political insecurity.  That friction has been evident throughout history. Ancient Rome was troubled by the increase in the price of bread.  In the 15th century, 1482-84, the Salt War took place among papal forces, their Venetian allies, and the Duke of Tuscany over the salt that had been reserved to Venice, the only port allowed to trade in salt.  The famine in Ireland in the 1840s still has political overtones in British-Irish relations.  The 900-day Nazi blockage of supplies to Leningrad, September 1941 to January 1944, caused the deaths of 1.5 million Russian soldiers and civilians and the evacuation of another 1.4 million. 

The Cod War, really a number of interstate disputes in 1950, 1958, and 1972 between Britain and Iceland over fishing rights in the North Atlantic, was concluded in 1976 with the U.K. conceding a 200-nautical-mile fishing zone to Iceland.  The Turbot War between Canada and Spain for the large saltwater turbot (halibut) took place in 1995 off the coast of Newfoundland.

Now we have an outbreak of a new food war: a Scallop War between Britain and France.  Differences and rivalries between the two countries are not new in history.  If one side proclaims there’s always something fishy about the French, the other can respond that you can’t trust people who cook as badly as the English.  In the present-day context of Brexit negotiations, political and cultural animosity between the two countries is to be expected.  The Scallops War is a reminder of the 1748 painting “The Roast Beef of Old England (The Gate of Calais)” by William Hogarth, which reflects both the tension between a French soldier looking at a large side of British beef and the meat as a symbol of British wealth and power.

The night was bitter, the stars had lost their glitter, and all because of the interaction between the two countries that took a dramatic turn on August 29, 2018 and for a few days in September 2018.  The scene resembled Dover Beach, and “we are here as on darkling plain swept with confused alarms of struggle and fight,” a bitterly internecine conflict of two allied countries, displaying lack of civility and acerbic tone.  The event on August 29 took on the appearance of ignorant armies clashing by night, even if so far no one’s life has been endangered by threatened warlike conduct.

The physical clash is in the area of the English Channel.  There, the Scallop War is being fought between British and French fishermen over the delightful Coquille Saint Jacques, one of the few species whose catch is regulated by national rather than E.U. regulations.  The battlefield is the area of international waters known as the Baie de Seine (Bay of the Seine), about 15 miles from the French coast.

The context of the issue is that U.K. fishermen can dredge for scallops all year round in the international waters in the English Channel, while France is barred from doing so during the summer months, May to September, evidently to allow the species to reproduce.  Therefore, one irony in the situation is that the U.K. claims the right to fish in French waters, which are closed to French trawlers.  The issue is complicated by the charge by the pro-Brexit group Fishing for Leave that France has caught 60% of the fish in U.K. waters over the past 40 years.

In previous years, there has been a French-U.K. agreement that the British could enter French waters for a limited number of days.  Since 2012, the U.K. agreed to limit shellfish dredging during the summer months in return for some French permits.  However, in 2018, there is no agreement.  The French complain that larger U.K. boats are being used, which can capture larger amounts of scallops and which, according to the French, leaves the seabed like a plowed field because their techniques damage the sea floor.  By present law, U.K. ships are not allowed within 12 miles of the French coast, but smaller boats can dredge for scallops in the 40-mile stretch of international waters in the Baie de Seine.

There has for many years been a problem over getting the lucrative scallops.  It has rarely led to the use of violence.  But the tension almost became war on August 29, 2018 when 35 French vessels confronted five British boats more than 12 miles off the Normandy coast, a confrontation in which stones and smoke bombs were thrown, and boats were rammed leaving holes in three vessels.

Somewhat ominously, French agricultural minister Stéphane Travert warned the U.K. that the French Navy was ready to intervene to prevent further clashes if the Scallop War continues.  He also commented that the U.K. cannot expect a separate deal with France if the U.K. leaves the E.U. as a result of Brexit negotiations.  The Scallop War is not directly linked to Brexit, but the issue of reciprocal access to fishing waters is one of the items in the negotiations.

On the other hand, U.K. fishermen want the Royal Navy to help protect their dredging the Baie from Cherbourg to Dunkirk.  One reason for this is the fishing of bluefin, a protected fish.  Bluefin is usually found only in the Bay of Biscay and the Mediterranean, but warmer waters have sent the species into U.K. waters.  Recently, French trawlers took a haul of 44 bluefin tuna off the coast of the island of Jersey, worth £100,000.  U.K. fishermen are not allowed to catch tuna, but there is no ban on France.

The threat of war continues.  French fishermen have warned the U.K. that they may use “heavy artillery,” slingshots and ball bearings, if there is more violence.  For her part, Prime Minister Theresa May, who narrowly, 307-301, avoided defeat in the House of Commons on Brexit, has called for calm and an amicable solution to the “row” in the Channel.  Is it a fight for love or glory?

Music may be the food of love, but the quest for food has often been the cause of friction and political insecurity.  That friction has been evident throughout history. Ancient Rome was troubled by the increase in the price of bread.  In the 15th century, 1482-84, the Salt War took place among papal forces, their Venetian allies, and the Duke of Tuscany over the salt that had been reserved to Venice, the only port allowed to trade in salt.  The famine in Ireland in the 1840s still has political overtones in British-Irish relations.  The 900-day Nazi blockage of supplies to Leningrad, September 1941 to January 1944, caused the deaths of 1.5 million Russian soldiers and civilians and the evacuation of another 1.4 million. 

The Cod War, really a number of interstate disputes in 1950, 1958, and 1972 between Britain and Iceland over fishing rights in the North Atlantic, was concluded in 1976 with the U.K. conceding a 200-nautical-mile fishing zone to Iceland.  The Turbot War between Canada and Spain for the large saltwater turbot (halibut) took place in 1995 off the coast of Newfoundland.

Now we have an outbreak of a new food war: a Scallop War between Britain and France.  Differences and rivalries between the two countries are not new in history.  If one side proclaims there’s always something fishy about the French, the other can respond that you can’t trust people who cook as badly as the English.  In the present-day context of Brexit negotiations, political and cultural animosity between the two countries is to be expected.  The Scallops War is a reminder of the 1748 painting “The Roast Beef of Old England (The Gate of Calais)” by William Hogarth, which reflects both the tension between a French soldier looking at a large side of British beef and the meat as a symbol of British wealth and power.

The night was bitter, the stars had lost their glitter, and all because of the interaction between the two countries that took a dramatic turn on August 29, 2018 and for a few days in September 2018.  The scene resembled Dover Beach, and “we are here as on darkling plain swept with confused alarms of struggle and fight,” a bitterly internecine conflict of two allied countries, displaying lack of civility and acerbic tone.  The event on August 29 took on the appearance of ignorant armies clashing by night, even if so far no one’s life has been endangered by threatened warlike conduct.

The physical clash is in the area of the English Channel.  There, the Scallop War is being fought between British and French fishermen over the delightful Coquille Saint Jacques, one of the few species whose catch is regulated by national rather than E.U. regulations.  The battlefield is the area of international waters known as the Baie de Seine (Bay of the Seine), about 15 miles from the French coast.

The context of the issue is that U.K. fishermen can dredge for scallops all year round in the international waters in the English Channel, while France is barred from doing so during the summer months, May to September, evidently to allow the species to reproduce.  Therefore, one irony in the situation is that the U.K. claims the right to fish in French waters, which are closed to French trawlers.  The issue is complicated by the charge by the pro-Brexit group Fishing for Leave that France has caught 60% of the fish in U.K. waters over the past 40 years.

In previous years, there has been a French-U.K. agreement that the British could enter French waters for a limited number of days.  Since 2012, the U.K. agreed to limit shellfish dredging during the summer months in return for some French permits.  However, in 2018, there is no agreement.  The French complain that larger U.K. boats are being used, which can capture larger amounts of scallops and which, according to the French, leaves the seabed like a plowed field because their techniques damage the sea floor.  By present law, U.K. ships are not allowed within 12 miles of the French coast, but smaller boats can dredge for scallops in the 40-mile stretch of international waters in the Baie de Seine.

There has for many years been a problem over getting the lucrative scallops.  It has rarely led to the use of violence.  But the tension almost became war on August 29, 2018 when 35 French vessels confronted five British boats more than 12 miles off the Normandy coast, a confrontation in which stones and smoke bombs were thrown, and boats were rammed leaving holes in three vessels.

Somewhat ominously, French agricultural minister Stéphane Travert warned the U.K. that the French Navy was ready to intervene to prevent further clashes if the Scallop War continues.  He also commented that the U.K. cannot expect a separate deal with France if the U.K. leaves the E.U. as a result of Brexit negotiations.  The Scallop War is not directly linked to Brexit, but the issue of reciprocal access to fishing waters is one of the items in the negotiations.

On the other hand, U.K. fishermen want the Royal Navy to help protect their dredging the Baie from Cherbourg to Dunkirk.  One reason for this is the fishing of bluefin, a protected fish.  Bluefin is usually found only in the Bay of Biscay and the Mediterranean, but warmer waters have sent the species into U.K. waters.  Recently, French trawlers took a haul of 44 bluefin tuna off the coast of the island of Jersey, worth £100,000.  U.K. fishermen are not allowed to catch tuna, but there is no ban on France.

The threat of war continues.  French fishermen have warned the U.K. that they may use “heavy artillery,” slingshots and ball bearings, if there is more violence.  For her part, Prime Minister Theresa May, who narrowly, 307-301, avoided defeat in the House of Commons on Brexit, has called for calm and an amicable solution to the “row” in the Channel.  Is it a fight for love or glory?



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The Broken Soapbox


Social media entered our world with a promising offer: you can communicate here – with virtually everyone on Earth.  For years, a wide range of views were tolerated, and every popular voice enriched the creators of the platforms by drawing millions of eyes and ears.  These platforms fast eclipsed other means of communication specifically because they offered such an open and effective means of reaching out to others.

But now social media have a near monopoly on public discourse, and the age of censorship has arrived.  Ideas and messages that once were tolerable are now forbidden.  Users have spent a decade or more building their audience with a consistent message – and thus filling the platform-owners’ pockets – and now find themselves banned when their message hasn’t changed.  In no other arena of commerce would owners be considered justified in arbitrarily changing the rules to exclude certain customers, particularly if the reasons were amorphous, largely unexplained, and applied to a certain type of customer and not to others.

Something sinister is afoot.  Understanding and dealing with it responsibly is essential to preserving the free exchange of ideas – a bulwark of our civic culture and a foundation of American exceptionalism.

The argument is made that these platforms are private firms with a right to determine their own policies.  But that raises the real questions, which are these:

1. Have social media in fact become the public soapbox?  The answer here is undeniably “yes,” and certain facts about this reality are undeniable.  First, in America, the soapbox has a uniquely revered position; it is supposed to be a level platform on which any can stand.  Our right to speak freely has some limitations, but those limits are spelled out by centuries of experience and jurisprudence.  The idea that anyone outside law enforcement can stand next to the soapbox with a cudgel is alien to the American experience.  Second, is it remotely possible that private property rights can apply to the public soapbox?  The platform-owners did an amazing job of building their businesses into the modern soapbox, but can that fact remove the right of people to use it in ways that have always been considered legal?

2. Is anyone exposed to the billions of little soapboxes forced to listen to those standing upon them?  No, social media are essentially a large conference call – participation is based upon invitation or interest.  If a crank is participating, you can hang up on him without disconnecting from the discussion. This is the most powerful and useful censorship imaginable, and the power always conforms to the will of the listener.  Imagine Verizon or AT&T listening in on every conference call and breaking in to tell some speakers, “You can’t say that, even though it is not illegal to do so” and telling everyone else, “You can’t listen to that person, even if you want to do so.”  For months, CNN has been explicitly calling for Infowars and Alex Jones to be removed from social media.  Imagine the outcry if Verizon or ATT made its censorship decisions on the heels of pressure from their customers’ competitors.

If social media censorship were primarily against liberal voices, it would be surprising, given that the vast majority of these companies are run and staffed by leftists. Predictably, the targets of censorship are on the right. Widely banned Infowars does promulgate and discuss conspiracy theories, but doing so is not illegal, being wrong is not illegal, and sometimes there is a conspiracy.  And we’ve already seen censorship of the most conventional conservative voices, such as Dennis Prager’s “Prager U,” which suffered an almost total elimination of Facebook traffic because of the “error” of a single employee.  Prager U’s vast content is the result of years of effort and countless hours of sweat and toil and good intentions, and Facebook’s content policing made it possible for one zealous employee to blind people to that effort with the stroke of a key.  The system is broken because zealous individuals and the writers of murky algorithms have been allowed to stand beside the soapbox with a key and a hammer, and it is broken because the injuries all seem to fall on one type of speaker.  It would be just as broken if the censorship went against the left.

These companies have installed a soapbox in all of our homes and pockets.  Now they are coming to remove the ones used by people with whom they disagree.  The suggestions that conservatives develop their own means of communication – ignore the existing soapbox and create a new one – are commendable but irrelevant to the present danger.  Such calls ignore the sacred nature of the soapbox.  It belongs to everyone, regardless who first supplied the wood to make it.  “Who provided the wood and hammered the nails – shouldn’t he determine who can use it?”  No, because it belongs to us all, regardless of our contribution to its construction.  We all have a God-given right to stand on it and speak.  It is like the air that allows our voices to have volume at all; there is no noise in a vacuum, and no real right to speak without the soapbox.  The right to speak is inseparable from the right to be heard by those who are willing to listen.

Regulation is probably inevitable because the left can’t leave well enough alone.  Leftists aren’t content with control of all of society’s consciousness-forming institutions aside from talk radio and the internet – they want to control them all.  Pleas to be treated fairly by companies with a liberal or globalist staff will come to naught.  Even if ownership of the platforms is threatened by anti-trust regulation, they will still err on the side of liberalism and censorship, because that is their worldview.  Many on the left really don’t want conservatives to have a voice.  To the left, the marketplace of ideas is fine as long as only certain ideas are marketed.  Examples are legion.

Regulation must happen, but it should be simple and clear.  We already have laws against harassment and calls for violence, and they can be applied to social media without empowering political censorship.  All communication platforms open to the general public must mimic the public sphere in every regard, with the platforms treated as the air through which the sound of the human voice travels.

Social media entered our world with a promising offer: you can communicate here – with virtually everyone on Earth.  For years, a wide range of views were tolerated, and every popular voice enriched the creators of the platforms by drawing millions of eyes and ears.  These platforms fast eclipsed other means of communication specifically because they offered such an open and effective means of reaching out to others.

But now social media have a near monopoly on public discourse, and the age of censorship has arrived.  Ideas and messages that once were tolerable are now forbidden.  Users have spent a decade or more building their audience with a consistent message – and thus filling the platform-owners’ pockets – and now find themselves banned when their message hasn’t changed.  In no other arena of commerce would owners be considered justified in arbitrarily changing the rules to exclude certain customers, particularly if the reasons were amorphous, largely unexplained, and applied to a certain type of customer and not to others.

Something sinister is afoot.  Understanding and dealing with it responsibly is essential to preserving the free exchange of ideas – a bulwark of our civic culture and a foundation of American exceptionalism.

The argument is made that these platforms are private firms with a right to determine their own policies.  But that raises the real questions, which are these:

1. Have social media in fact become the public soapbox?  The answer here is undeniably “yes,” and certain facts about this reality are undeniable.  First, in America, the soapbox has a uniquely revered position; it is supposed to be a level platform on which any can stand.  Our right to speak freely has some limitations, but those limits are spelled out by centuries of experience and jurisprudence.  The idea that anyone outside law enforcement can stand next to the soapbox with a cudgel is alien to the American experience.  Second, is it remotely possible that private property rights can apply to the public soapbox?  The platform-owners did an amazing job of building their businesses into the modern soapbox, but can that fact remove the right of people to use it in ways that have always been considered legal?

2. Is anyone exposed to the billions of little soapboxes forced to listen to those standing upon them?  No, social media are essentially a large conference call – participation is based upon invitation or interest.  If a crank is participating, you can hang up on him without disconnecting from the discussion. This is the most powerful and useful censorship imaginable, and the power always conforms to the will of the listener.  Imagine Verizon or AT&T listening in on every conference call and breaking in to tell some speakers, “You can’t say that, even though it is not illegal to do so” and telling everyone else, “You can’t listen to that person, even if you want to do so.”  For months, CNN has been explicitly calling for Infowars and Alex Jones to be removed from social media.  Imagine the outcry if Verizon or ATT made its censorship decisions on the heels of pressure from their customers’ competitors.

If social media censorship were primarily against liberal voices, it would be surprising, given that the vast majority of these companies are run and staffed by leftists. Predictably, the targets of censorship are on the right. Widely banned Infowars does promulgate and discuss conspiracy theories, but doing so is not illegal, being wrong is not illegal, and sometimes there is a conspiracy.  And we’ve already seen censorship of the most conventional conservative voices, such as Dennis Prager’s “Prager U,” which suffered an almost total elimination of Facebook traffic because of the “error” of a single employee.  Prager U’s vast content is the result of years of effort and countless hours of sweat and toil and good intentions, and Facebook’s content policing made it possible for one zealous employee to blind people to that effort with the stroke of a key.  The system is broken because zealous individuals and the writers of murky algorithms have been allowed to stand beside the soapbox with a key and a hammer, and it is broken because the injuries all seem to fall on one type of speaker.  It would be just as broken if the censorship went against the left.

These companies have installed a soapbox in all of our homes and pockets.  Now they are coming to remove the ones used by people with whom they disagree.  The suggestions that conservatives develop their own means of communication – ignore the existing soapbox and create a new one – are commendable but irrelevant to the present danger.  Such calls ignore the sacred nature of the soapbox.  It belongs to everyone, regardless who first supplied the wood to make it.  “Who provided the wood and hammered the nails – shouldn’t he determine who can use it?”  No, because it belongs to us all, regardless of our contribution to its construction.  We all have a God-given right to stand on it and speak.  It is like the air that allows our voices to have volume at all; there is no noise in a vacuum, and no real right to speak without the soapbox.  The right to speak is inseparable from the right to be heard by those who are willing to listen.

Regulation is probably inevitable because the left can’t leave well enough alone.  Leftists aren’t content with control of all of society’s consciousness-forming institutions aside from talk radio and the internet – they want to control them all.  Pleas to be treated fairly by companies with a liberal or globalist staff will come to naught.  Even if ownership of the platforms is threatened by anti-trust regulation, they will still err on the side of liberalism and censorship, because that is their worldview.  Many on the left really don’t want conservatives to have a voice.  To the left, the marketplace of ideas is fine as long as only certain ideas are marketed.  Examples are legion.

Regulation must happen, but it should be simple and clear.  We already have laws against harassment and calls for violence, and they can be applied to social media without empowering political censorship.  All communication platforms open to the general public must mimic the public sphere in every regard, with the platforms treated as the air through which the sound of the human voice travels.



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Panic Grips Establishment…



Panic Grips Establishment...

(Second column, 23rd story, link)


Related stories:
Far-right expected to make historic gains in Swedish election…
Leader receives death threat…

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