Category: Taylor Lewis

What Liberals Think America Is Doing Right


America’s in trouble, we’re told.

Our politics is coarse and divided.  The media have been driven mad by the need to break scoops first, leading to clumsy and embarrassing errors.  Social media are turning us all into Narcissus, staring distractedly into digital pools, erasing our ability to think critically.  The world’s rising powers no longer fret over our might.

Doomsaying is prominent, but not all are saturnine.  Haley Britzky of Axios recently tried to lighten the country’s dark skies by listing “9 things America is getting right.”

“With a number of natural disasters raging across the country this year, and political discourse at its peak, it’s important to remember that there is good news out there,” Britzky informs us.  Her list, while optimistic, is broad and largely uncontroversial: higher economic growth, healthier kids, cleaner air, more charitable giving, better medical technology.

One item sticks out.  “We’re becoming more tolerant,” Britzky notes, citing a rising acceptance, specifically among baby boomers, of the idea that two men or two women are capable of marrying each other.

Britzky includes “tolerance” without a hint of what the word means or why it’s good that more Americans are loosening their views on moral strictures.  That’s not surprising.  Tolerance has become a catch-all word that implies progress.  But consider the form this progress takes.  It is with increased tolerance that’s we’ve become more accepting of broken marriages, sexual deviancy, alternative lifestyles, and drug use among minors.

More tolerance in some areas has certainly been a positive thing.  The abolition of Jim Crow laws was a victory for both freedom and acceptance.  That we no longer maim homosexuals and other sexual minorities in the streets with impunity is also welcome progress.

But tolerance qua tolerance is not a universal good, despite its cheery connotations.  As with any virtue, there are moral limits to its application.

To better understand why, we must first understand the point of discussing the benefits of tolerance in society in the first place.  What good does tolerance fulfill?  How does it encourage behavior that benefits the collective as well as the individual?  Does tolerance ever interfere with the rights and liberties of a people?

These are deep questions that get to the heart of politics.  At stake in all political discourse is the kind of society we long to live in.  Since the time when Plato and Aristotle discussed the governing principles of society, the essence of politics has been the supreme value around which we organize.

That value fluctuates depending on the society.  For instance, the jihadists in the Islamic State designed their caliphate to usher in an apocalyptic struggle between holy soldiers and hordes of infidels.  For a more familiar example, the Amish eschew individualism and modern technology to strengthen their communal bonds.

America was founded on an enlightened view of human nature that attempted to reconcile liberty with the collective good.  While personal freedom was emphasized in the Bill of Rights’ proscriptions against government interference, the Constitution itself formed a public-minded body within the federal government.

Underlying this balance was a higher vision, one that pointed toward Providence.  The natural law tradition that influenced the Declaration of Independence was drawn from many sources, including the great theologian and philosopher Thomas Aquinas.

Aquinas emphasized the necessity of submitting passion to reason and action to faith.  By aiming our deeds toward God, and thus the greater good, we exercise liberty as it is meant to be exercised.  “Freedom,” George Weigel writes, “is the means by which, exercising both our reason and our will, we act on the natural longing for truth, for goodness, and for happiness that is built into us as human beings.”

Freedom that diverges from the greater good is not freedom at all; it’s just another form of slavery.  That brings us back to tolerance.  In order for a value to be virtuous, it must comport with the dictates of reason, which, in turn, should be directed toward the divine.

Toleration is beneficial inasmuch as it bolsters our ability to live freely and righteously.  It is not a value by itself – it is bound by shared ethical standards.

To understand the bounds of tolerance, ask yourself the following questions.  Would it be OK to legalize pedophilia?  Should incest be allowed?  What about bestiality?

Only the most morally lax of liberals are undisturbed by such sexual practices.  But is not acceptance of practitioners of pedophilia, incest, and bestiality a form of tolerance?

It is, which is why our judgment should always be filtered through the strainer of reason.  In his 1931 essay “A Plea for Intolerance,” Fulton J. Sheen wrote, “Tolerance applies only to persons, but never to truth.  Intolerance applies only to truth, but never to persons.  Tolerance applies to the erring[,] intolerance to the error.”

Today’s leftists take the opposite approach.  On college campuses, it is people who aren’t tolerated, while nearly every belief that isn’t associated with conservatism is accepted.  This is a misunderstanding of tolerance.  It demonstrates a severe confusion over the spirit of the word.

Too often, tolerance is tied to a liberal belief to make it more palatable to the public.  That was the unfortunate case of its inclusion on the Axios list of the best American trends.  A rise in tolerance should not be blithely celebrated.  Rather, it should be scrutinized to see if its application meets a noble standard.  Otherwise we forfeit the gift of discernment given to us by our Creator and are left adrift in a sea of moral anarchy.

America’s in trouble, we’re told.

Our politics is coarse and divided.  The media have been driven mad by the need to break scoops first, leading to clumsy and embarrassing errors.  Social media are turning us all into Narcissus, staring distractedly into digital pools, erasing our ability to think critically.  The world’s rising powers no longer fret over our might.

Doomsaying is prominent, but not all are saturnine.  Haley Britzky of Axios recently tried to lighten the country’s dark skies by listing “9 things America is getting right.”

“With a number of natural disasters raging across the country this year, and political discourse at its peak, it’s important to remember that there is good news out there,” Britzky informs us.  Her list, while optimistic, is broad and largely uncontroversial: higher economic growth, healthier kids, cleaner air, more charitable giving, better medical technology.

One item sticks out.  “We’re becoming more tolerant,” Britzky notes, citing a rising acceptance, specifically among baby boomers, of the idea that two men or two women are capable of marrying each other.

Britzky includes “tolerance” without a hint of what the word means or why it’s good that more Americans are loosening their views on moral strictures.  That’s not surprising.  Tolerance has become a catch-all word that implies progress.  But consider the form this progress takes.  It is with increased tolerance that’s we’ve become more accepting of broken marriages, sexual deviancy, alternative lifestyles, and drug use among minors.

More tolerance in some areas has certainly been a positive thing.  The abolition of Jim Crow laws was a victory for both freedom and acceptance.  That we no longer maim homosexuals and other sexual minorities in the streets with impunity is also welcome progress.

But tolerance qua tolerance is not a universal good, despite its cheery connotations.  As with any virtue, there are moral limits to its application.

To better understand why, we must first understand the point of discussing the benefits of tolerance in society in the first place.  What good does tolerance fulfill?  How does it encourage behavior that benefits the collective as well as the individual?  Does tolerance ever interfere with the rights and liberties of a people?

These are deep questions that get to the heart of politics.  At stake in all political discourse is the kind of society we long to live in.  Since the time when Plato and Aristotle discussed the governing principles of society, the essence of politics has been the supreme value around which we organize.

That value fluctuates depending on the society.  For instance, the jihadists in the Islamic State designed their caliphate to usher in an apocalyptic struggle between holy soldiers and hordes of infidels.  For a more familiar example, the Amish eschew individualism and modern technology to strengthen their communal bonds.

America was founded on an enlightened view of human nature that attempted to reconcile liberty with the collective good.  While personal freedom was emphasized in the Bill of Rights’ proscriptions against government interference, the Constitution itself formed a public-minded body within the federal government.

Underlying this balance was a higher vision, one that pointed toward Providence.  The natural law tradition that influenced the Declaration of Independence was drawn from many sources, including the great theologian and philosopher Thomas Aquinas.

Aquinas emphasized the necessity of submitting passion to reason and action to faith.  By aiming our deeds toward God, and thus the greater good, we exercise liberty as it is meant to be exercised.  “Freedom,” George Weigel writes, “is the means by which, exercising both our reason and our will, we act on the natural longing for truth, for goodness, and for happiness that is built into us as human beings.”

Freedom that diverges from the greater good is not freedom at all; it’s just another form of slavery.  That brings us back to tolerance.  In order for a value to be virtuous, it must comport with the dictates of reason, which, in turn, should be directed toward the divine.

Toleration is beneficial inasmuch as it bolsters our ability to live freely and righteously.  It is not a value by itself – it is bound by shared ethical standards.

To understand the bounds of tolerance, ask yourself the following questions.  Would it be OK to legalize pedophilia?  Should incest be allowed?  What about bestiality?

Only the most morally lax of liberals are undisturbed by such sexual practices.  But is not acceptance of practitioners of pedophilia, incest, and bestiality a form of tolerance?

It is, which is why our judgment should always be filtered through the strainer of reason.  In his 1931 essay “A Plea for Intolerance,” Fulton J. Sheen wrote, “Tolerance applies only to persons, but never to truth.  Intolerance applies only to truth, but never to persons.  Tolerance applies to the erring[,] intolerance to the error.”

Today’s leftists take the opposite approach.  On college campuses, it is people who aren’t tolerated, while nearly every belief that isn’t associated with conservatism is accepted.  This is a misunderstanding of tolerance.  It demonstrates a severe confusion over the spirit of the word.

Too often, tolerance is tied to a liberal belief to make it more palatable to the public.  That was the unfortunate case of its inclusion on the Axios list of the best American trends.  A rise in tolerance should not be blithely celebrated.  Rather, it should be scrutinized to see if its application meets a noble standard.  Otherwise we forfeit the gift of discernment given to us by our Creator and are left adrift in a sea of moral anarchy.



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Law vs. the Human Heart


By any measure, the past year was nothing short of monumental: a new president dogged by allegations of foreign election meddling, a media class working in overdrive, a remaking of the federal bench, the routing of the Islamic State, and the end of the Clinton political dynasty, all concluded with the passing of a large tax cut.

But the most notable event of 2017 had surprisingly little to do with politics.  The imbroglio caused by Ronan Farrow’s eye-opening exposé on Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein was the news story of the last twelve months.  Whatever your position or persuasion, low or high class, conservative or liberal, the fallout from the lurid Weinstein revelations was inescapable.  Major public figures, from actor Kevin Spacey to TV anchor Matt Lauer, justly lost their careers for their libidinous predacity.  Others, such as Senator Al Franken and humorist Garrison Keillor, were also forced into unemployment by more slippery accusations of impropriety.

The #MeToo movement, like any social reformist cause, is coming dangerously close to overstepping its bounds.  But it has unquestionably brought much needed scrutiny on powerful men who use their position to abuse vulnerable women.  “Among us, it seems, lives a class of men who call to mind Caligula and Elagabalus not only in their depravity, but in their grotesque sense of impunity,” writes Claire Berlinski.  It was well past time to bring these men down a peg.

Notice how many of these power perverts are being outed.  There are no charges; there is no law.  A federal case was not made.  These men are losing their status through the soft power of public persuasion.

And when things go awry?  The same social pressure is used to correct rushed decisions.  Take the case of MSNBC contributor Sam Seder, who was fired from the network for making a bawdy joke about his daughter being raped by Roman Polanski.  Sick?  Undoubtedly.  But a sarcastic remark posted on Twitter nearly a decade ago that nobody actually found offensive?  Yes, and yes.

After public backlash and some behind-the-scenes cajoling, Seder was reinstated.  MSNBC president Phil Griffin admitted to making a mistake.  All parties moved past the unfortunate episode.

There’s a lesson to glean from all of this.  The most important cultural event of last year has not inspired a demand for legislative remedies.  Rather, it has spurred action through public awareness.

Tocqueville, in his early studies of American democracy, wrote about this process:

When the members of an aristocratic community adopt a new opinion or conceive a new sentiment, they give it a station, as it were, beside themselves, upon the lofty platform where they stand; and opinions or sentiments so conspicuous to the eyes of the multitude are easily introduced into the minds or hearts of all around.

Weinstein’s sordid antics were exposed by his fellow elites.  Thankfully for the rest of us, Washington wasn’t called to act.  As Tocqueville warned on increased government interference in the private sphere, “[n]o sooner does a government attempt to go beyond its political sphere and to enter upon this new track than it exercises, even unintentionally, an insupportable tyranny.”

If only all our conflicts, big and small, could be solved so simply without appealing to the busybodies in Congress.

In their insatiable hunt for perfection, leftists will often call for legal solutions to right societal wrongs, avoiding the discomforting situation of speaking straight to their neighbors.  Lobbying for a law is an easy alternative to informal compromise.  Government is a detached actor – it often sees things mechanistically rather than humanly.

This past year, we saw the negative consequences of the state’s over-intervention in the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which was argued before the Supreme Court.  In 2012, Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, refused to design and bake a wedding cake for Charlie Craig and David Mullins, a same-sex couple.

Upon being informed by Phillips that his deeply held religious beliefs barred him from creating a cake for a same-sex ceremony, Craig and Mullins had a choice.  As David Brooks pointed out, they had “two possible courses of action, the neighborly and the legal.”

The neighborly approach would have kept the issue personal and prompted a dialogue between the two men and the Christian baker.  “The legal course,” Brooks explains, “was to take the problem out of the neighborhood and throw it into the court system.”

By choosing the legal route, Craig and Mullins needlessly created conflict where none need be before.  Phillips’s shop is located in Lakewood, Colorado, while the ceremony was to take place in Massachusetts.  Was there not a bakery in the Bay State that would happily accommodate the couple?

The Masterpiece Cakeshop case will be decided later this year, but the damage is already done.  By pushing for legal intervention, this couple further inflamed the tension between gay rights activists and religious liberty advocates.  Would it not have been more civil, and more productive, to take a step back and simply find another baker and clean their hands of the whole mess?

For 2018, we’d all be better off adopting a more neighborly approach to divisive issues and stop letting the law in places where the heart should rule.

By any measure, the past year was nothing short of monumental: a new president dogged by allegations of foreign election meddling, a media class working in overdrive, a remaking of the federal bench, the routing of the Islamic State, and the end of the Clinton political dynasty, all concluded with the passing of a large tax cut.

But the most notable event of 2017 had surprisingly little to do with politics.  The imbroglio caused by Ronan Farrow’s eye-opening exposé on Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein was the news story of the last twelve months.  Whatever your position or persuasion, low or high class, conservative or liberal, the fallout from the lurid Weinstein revelations was inescapable.  Major public figures, from actor Kevin Spacey to TV anchor Matt Lauer, justly lost their careers for their libidinous predacity.  Others, such as Senator Al Franken and humorist Garrison Keillor, were also forced into unemployment by more slippery accusations of impropriety.

The #MeToo movement, like any social reformist cause, is coming dangerously close to overstepping its bounds.  But it has unquestionably brought much needed scrutiny on powerful men who use their position to abuse vulnerable women.  “Among us, it seems, lives a class of men who call to mind Caligula and Elagabalus not only in their depravity, but in their grotesque sense of impunity,” writes Claire Berlinski.  It was well past time to bring these men down a peg.

Notice how many of these power perverts are being outed.  There are no charges; there is no law.  A federal case was not made.  These men are losing their status through the soft power of public persuasion.

And when things go awry?  The same social pressure is used to correct rushed decisions.  Take the case of MSNBC contributor Sam Seder, who was fired from the network for making a bawdy joke about his daughter being raped by Roman Polanski.  Sick?  Undoubtedly.  But a sarcastic remark posted on Twitter nearly a decade ago that nobody actually found offensive?  Yes, and yes.

After public backlash and some behind-the-scenes cajoling, Seder was reinstated.  MSNBC president Phil Griffin admitted to making a mistake.  All parties moved past the unfortunate episode.

There’s a lesson to glean from all of this.  The most important cultural event of last year has not inspired a demand for legislative remedies.  Rather, it has spurred action through public awareness.

Tocqueville, in his early studies of American democracy, wrote about this process:

When the members of an aristocratic community adopt a new opinion or conceive a new sentiment, they give it a station, as it were, beside themselves, upon the lofty platform where they stand; and opinions or sentiments so conspicuous to the eyes of the multitude are easily introduced into the minds or hearts of all around.

Weinstein’s sordid antics were exposed by his fellow elites.  Thankfully for the rest of us, Washington wasn’t called to act.  As Tocqueville warned on increased government interference in the private sphere, “[n]o sooner does a government attempt to go beyond its political sphere and to enter upon this new track than it exercises, even unintentionally, an insupportable tyranny.”

If only all our conflicts, big and small, could be solved so simply without appealing to the busybodies in Congress.

In their insatiable hunt for perfection, leftists will often call for legal solutions to right societal wrongs, avoiding the discomforting situation of speaking straight to their neighbors.  Lobbying for a law is an easy alternative to informal compromise.  Government is a detached actor – it often sees things mechanistically rather than humanly.

This past year, we saw the negative consequences of the state’s over-intervention in the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which was argued before the Supreme Court.  In 2012, Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, refused to design and bake a wedding cake for Charlie Craig and David Mullins, a same-sex couple.

Upon being informed by Phillips that his deeply held religious beliefs barred him from creating a cake for a same-sex ceremony, Craig and Mullins had a choice.  As David Brooks pointed out, they had “two possible courses of action, the neighborly and the legal.”

The neighborly approach would have kept the issue personal and prompted a dialogue between the two men and the Christian baker.  “The legal course,” Brooks explains, “was to take the problem out of the neighborhood and throw it into the court system.”

By choosing the legal route, Craig and Mullins needlessly created conflict where none need be before.  Phillips’s shop is located in Lakewood, Colorado, while the ceremony was to take place in Massachusetts.  Was there not a bakery in the Bay State that would happily accommodate the couple?

The Masterpiece Cakeshop case will be decided later this year, but the damage is already done.  By pushing for legal intervention, this couple further inflamed the tension between gay rights activists and religious liberty advocates.  Would it not have been more civil, and more productive, to take a step back and simply find another baker and clean their hands of the whole mess?

For 2018, we’d all be better off adopting a more neighborly approach to divisive issues and stop letting the law in places where the heart should rule.



Source link

The Age of Reflexive Antagonism


When the obituary is written on American democracy, Jonathan Haidt will merit a mention.

No thinker has done a better job documenting the dizzying deterioration of our national fabric than this social psychologist.  Through his many books, lectures, and popular articles, Haidt has diagnosed our condition, and his verdict isn’t good.  In fact, at our current trajectory, it’s fatal.

Haidt first earned his fame with his moral foundations theory, which explains how our ethical beliefs, and thus our political voting habits, are shaped by particular values we hold.  For example, conservatives rank feelings of loyalty and respect for authority high on their personal scale.  Liberals, on the other hand, laud fairness and care for others.

It was from this formulation that Haidt branched out to how political strife is threatening what Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. called the “vital center.”  His first target: American universities and the vapid ideology thrust upon hapless students.  In Haidt’s estimation, our institutions of higher learning are mollycoddle factories churning out aggrieved graduates who’ve never had their beliefs challenged.  This incubated sanctimony renders civil discourse impossible, as contrary views are seen as inherently malicious and thus illegitimate.

Anyone who’s had a five-minute conversation with a recent college graduate knows exactly what Haidt is talking about.  Despite a freshly minted degree, most are dilettantes in everything other than reciting late-night comedy show monologues about Donald Trump.

In a recent speech before the Manhattan Institute, Haidt identified a new corrupter of comity: the Republican Party.  Haidt’s conservative fans may take issue with this, but it would be to their detriment.  The man has a point: Newt Gingrich’s “Republican Revolution” in the mid-’90s ushered in a new era of gamesmanship that has only worsened the divide between the two major parties.

Gingrich, Haidt writes, deliberately shortened the legislative calendar to ensure that members would not move to Washington and “develop personal friendships with Democrats.”  The chummy backroom dealing that previously defined politics was lost.  The bipartisan consensus that saw America through two world wars and a decades-long standoff with the Soviet Union vanished.

These two centrifugal forces – Republican brinkmanship tactics and university-sanctioned fealty to identity politics – have made us an enraged and unhappy people.  They pull us apart, testing the relational bonds that form a society.  Haidt doesn’t limit his critique to just these two phenomena, though.  He also names the biased media, increased diversity through immigration, and the lack of a great enemy as other elements that tug at the sticky substance that keeps our national identity together.

Is it any surprise, then, that each new policy battle brings outrage followed by irrational retaliation?  The Republicans’ big tax cuts package was protested vigorously by leftists, who claimed that allowing working people to keep more of their pay is the equivalent of genocide.  When the House of Representatives was voting on the final package, a woman in the gallery took her top off in hopes of jamming the process.

In a similar vexed fashion, when the FCC voted to end net neutrality regulations, which prevented big internet companies from providing faster access to certain content, Chairman Ajit Pai received hundreds of death threats.  Some people were so enraged at the idea of slower Netflix speeds that fantasizing about murder became OK.

Much of this senseless dissent is driven by news media that have, for all intents and purposes, dropped the veil of impartiality.  Trump’s win shattered reality for many journalists; the America they thought they understood was made a mystery.  They react by adopting the rage of their readers.  Their language belies an immense hatred of the president and his supporters.

Following the passage of the GOP tax reform plan, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and speaker of the House Paul Ryan were snapped in a picture, thumbs up and jubilant smiles on their faces, with President Trump and Vice President Pence.  Dan Pfeiffer, a former Obama adviser, joked that the picture would be on the front page of the New York Times “the day Trump is indicted.”  Ben Rhodes, another former Obama staffer, chimed in with “alongside the obits for Ryan, McConnell, and Pence.”

Had these been former George W. Bush staffers, our ears would be assaulted by the screeches of a thousand pundits decrying violence-filled, death-wishing rhetoric.  Instead, House whip Steve Scalise, who nearly died last April after a Bernie Sanders-supporting madman pretended he was on a fox hunt in a baseball field with defenseless congressmen, was left to chastise them.  That was unacceptable.  Since liberals hold the monopoly on victims shaming oppressors, it was left for Jonathan Chait of New York magazine to blithely dismiss his concern.

This isn’t thinking; it is the reflexive antagonism Alasdair MacIntyre called “emotivism.”  Partisan allegiance has clouded our ability to empathize and think clearly about problems that require collective action.  Pressing issues are no longer viewed through the lens of happy disagreement; rather, bitter rivalry sets the sights.

Anger is an easy drug.  It feels good being sanctimonious.  When we’re pissed, we’re invested in something.  That easy satisfaction has bled too deeply into our politics.  We, in the words of Iago, no longer have “reason to cool our raging motions, our carnal stings, our unbitted lusts.”

All’s not lost, however.  Washington may be damned, but the wellsprings of talent may be improving.  As Haidt points out, more and more professors and students are pushing back against the stifled academic atmosphere on campus.  Haidt’s own organization, Heterodox Academy, has exploded in size as liberal academics join with conservatives to stand up against intolerant suppression of ideas.

Just as Washington doesn’t have to be a swamp where civil discourse goes to die, college doesn’t have to be a bog of stagnant groupthink.  Change is possible.  But it starts most effectively at the personal level.  We must ask ourselves: how do we have disagreements that don’t devolve into screaming matches?  How do we debate issues without letting hot emotion take control?

Next time you’re knee-deep in all-caps arguments over Facebook with someone you know personally, here’s a mild suggestion: quit griping.  Offer to grab him a drink.  Your heart, and your blood pressure, will be better off.

When the obituary is written on American democracy, Jonathan Haidt will merit a mention.

No thinker has done a better job documenting the dizzying deterioration of our national fabric than this social psychologist.  Through his many books, lectures, and popular articles, Haidt has diagnosed our condition, and his verdict isn’t good.  In fact, at our current trajectory, it’s fatal.

Haidt first earned his fame with his moral foundations theory, which explains how our ethical beliefs, and thus our political voting habits, are shaped by particular values we hold.  For example, conservatives rank feelings of loyalty and respect for authority high on their personal scale.  Liberals, on the other hand, laud fairness and care for others.

It was from this formulation that Haidt branched out to how political strife is threatening what Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. called the “vital center.”  His first target: American universities and the vapid ideology thrust upon hapless students.  In Haidt’s estimation, our institutions of higher learning are mollycoddle factories churning out aggrieved graduates who’ve never had their beliefs challenged.  This incubated sanctimony renders civil discourse impossible, as contrary views are seen as inherently malicious and thus illegitimate.

Anyone who’s had a five-minute conversation with a recent college graduate knows exactly what Haidt is talking about.  Despite a freshly minted degree, most are dilettantes in everything other than reciting late-night comedy show monologues about Donald Trump.

In a recent speech before the Manhattan Institute, Haidt identified a new corrupter of comity: the Republican Party.  Haidt’s conservative fans may take issue with this, but it would be to their detriment.  The man has a point: Newt Gingrich’s “Republican Revolution” in the mid-’90s ushered in a new era of gamesmanship that has only worsened the divide between the two major parties.

Gingrich, Haidt writes, deliberately shortened the legislative calendar to ensure that members would not move to Washington and “develop personal friendships with Democrats.”  The chummy backroom dealing that previously defined politics was lost.  The bipartisan consensus that saw America through two world wars and a decades-long standoff with the Soviet Union vanished.

These two centrifugal forces – Republican brinkmanship tactics and university-sanctioned fealty to identity politics – have made us an enraged and unhappy people.  They pull us apart, testing the relational bonds that form a society.  Haidt doesn’t limit his critique to just these two phenomena, though.  He also names the biased media, increased diversity through immigration, and the lack of a great enemy as other elements that tug at the sticky substance that keeps our national identity together.

Is it any surprise, then, that each new policy battle brings outrage followed by irrational retaliation?  The Republicans’ big tax cuts package was protested vigorously by leftists, who claimed that allowing working people to keep more of their pay is the equivalent of genocide.  When the House of Representatives was voting on the final package, a woman in the gallery took her top off in hopes of jamming the process.

In a similar vexed fashion, when the FCC voted to end net neutrality regulations, which prevented big internet companies from providing faster access to certain content, Chairman Ajit Pai received hundreds of death threats.  Some people were so enraged at the idea of slower Netflix speeds that fantasizing about murder became OK.

Much of this senseless dissent is driven by news media that have, for all intents and purposes, dropped the veil of impartiality.  Trump’s win shattered reality for many journalists; the America they thought they understood was made a mystery.  They react by adopting the rage of their readers.  Their language belies an immense hatred of the president and his supporters.

Following the passage of the GOP tax reform plan, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and speaker of the House Paul Ryan were snapped in a picture, thumbs up and jubilant smiles on their faces, with President Trump and Vice President Pence.  Dan Pfeiffer, a former Obama adviser, joked that the picture would be on the front page of the New York Times “the day Trump is indicted.”  Ben Rhodes, another former Obama staffer, chimed in with “alongside the obits for Ryan, McConnell, and Pence.”

Had these been former George W. Bush staffers, our ears would be assaulted by the screeches of a thousand pundits decrying violence-filled, death-wishing rhetoric.  Instead, House whip Steve Scalise, who nearly died last April after a Bernie Sanders-supporting madman pretended he was on a fox hunt in a baseball field with defenseless congressmen, was left to chastise them.  That was unacceptable.  Since liberals hold the monopoly on victims shaming oppressors, it was left for Jonathan Chait of New York magazine to blithely dismiss his concern.

This isn’t thinking; it is the reflexive antagonism Alasdair MacIntyre called “emotivism.”  Partisan allegiance has clouded our ability to empathize and think clearly about problems that require collective action.  Pressing issues are no longer viewed through the lens of happy disagreement; rather, bitter rivalry sets the sights.

Anger is an easy drug.  It feels good being sanctimonious.  When we’re pissed, we’re invested in something.  That easy satisfaction has bled too deeply into our politics.  We, in the words of Iago, no longer have “reason to cool our raging motions, our carnal stings, our unbitted lusts.”

All’s not lost, however.  Washington may be damned, but the wellsprings of talent may be improving.  As Haidt points out, more and more professors and students are pushing back against the stifled academic atmosphere on campus.  Haidt’s own organization, Heterodox Academy, has exploded in size as liberal academics join with conservatives to stand up against intolerant suppression of ideas.

Just as Washington doesn’t have to be a swamp where civil discourse goes to die, college doesn’t have to be a bog of stagnant groupthink.  Change is possible.  But it starts most effectively at the personal level.  We must ask ourselves: how do we have disagreements that don’t devolve into screaming matches?  How do we debate issues without letting hot emotion take control?

Next time you’re knee-deep in all-caps arguments over Facebook with someone you know personally, here’s a mild suggestion: quit griping.  Offer to grab him a drink.  Your heart, and your blood pressure, will be better off.



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Media Hubris and the Fall of the Center


Mitch Daniels, the former governor of Indiana, went from estimable presidential candidate to nondescript university president in the political timeframe of a nanosecond. Back in 2011, Daniels was on many a short list of potential Republican presidential candidates. A stalwart fiscal hawk, a tempered social conservative, a former Reagan advisor, a cost-cutting budget wonk, and a seasoned politician, the White House nod might have been his, had he picked the path.

But, alas, as Caesar opined to Brutus, he eschewed the stars and opted not to run. The reason was good: Daniels’s wife, Cheri, left him for a doctor in 1994. They later patched things up, but a dredging up of the past is a prerequisite of presidential campaigns, and Daniels, honorable man he is, chose family over calling.

We live with our choices, and Daniels lived with his. Today, he heads Purdue University. And while he’s out of public office, he still sounds off on political issues in the pages of The Washington Post.

His latest offering, just in time for Advent season, hits on the greatest trouble of our time. As the new year approaches, the country is mired in epistemological crisis. Political polarization is at its highest point since the Civil War. Ideological purity tears at the middle that once formed our national consensus. There’s a sense that one’s political party is now his tribe, and elections are bloody brawls like the kind between the Dead Rabbits and the Natives in Scorsese’s Gangs of New York.

Daniels pinpoints the source of our intransigence: an inability to admit fault. In “Is Anyone Ever Wrong Anymore?” the man once dubbed “The Blade” laments the loss of the biblical virtue called humility. A combination of forces has made us intellectually comfortable, reassured in our convictions.

Prior-enforcing news curation; homogenous university curriculum; consequence-free internet argumentation — Daniels cites these and more as contributing to our know-nothingness. This confirmation bias, he writes, “has mutated from a hazard of academic research to a menacing political and social phenomenon.”

Daniels’s model for modesty is historian Stephen Ambrose, who, at the end of his life, admitted error in casting many judgements as a young chronicler of America’s past. From the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to the records of Richard Nixon and Theodore Roosevelt, Ambrose refined his thinking on events and individuals who shaped American life. He was brave enough to utter what Daniels calls “those three magical little words”: I was wrong.

Now that’s a phrase you rarely hear anymore. Truth, that concept held so dear by Greek philosophers, is passé. What matters is winning the argument. Logic, facts, and evidence be damned.

This closing of the American mind, to borrow Allan Bloom’s great phrase, doesn’t just make civil discourse impossible. It corrupts the mind, expelling reason, filling it with a dangerous hubris. The recent spate of spurious news stories — what our president calls “fake news” — is reflective of the inflated egos of our journalist class.

The arrogance of the press was on full display last week. The media, in its furious quest to find a connection between President Trump and the Russian regime, botched three major stories. First, Brian Ross of ABC misreported that former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn was going to testify that Trump, as a candidate, ordered him to contact the Russians. Trump had actually made the order as president-elect–a completely sensible request for an incoming head of state.

Then, Reuters reported that Special Counsel Robert Mueller, as part of his ongoing probe of Russian influence on the election, had subpoenaed Trump’s personal financial records from Deutsche Bank. That was wrong — the request was not tied to Trump directly but rather associates of the President.

Friday brought the biggest fumble yet. CNN reporters Manu Raju and Jeremy Herb broke an exclusive story about the Trump campaign receiving an email containing an encryption key that was supposed to unlock stolen Wikileaks documents. The date of the email was significant: It was sent during the campaign on a day Donald Trump, Jr., happened to tweet about Wikileaks.

The Raju/Herb report was immediately seen as a smoking gun. Here, finally, was confirmation the Trump campaign had access to damning information about Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party. That information was allegedly filched by the Russian government. At last, irrefutable proof Trump worked with Putin to steal the election!

Cue sad trombone. The email in question was sent one day after the documents went public. The wished-for collusion remains elusive.

In each of these incidents, the respective news organizations issued retractions, but only after another party pointed out the mistake. Had the claims gone unquestioned, they’d be treated as facts today. With ABC’s flub, network president James Goldston tore into his own staff, emphasizing the “need to get it right” and “not first.” The contrition was commendable. Not everyone was apologetic about the lapses, though.

The Atlantic Senior Editor David Frum remained unashamed.  Appearing on CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” he told host Brian Stelter, “mistakes are precisely the reason the people should trust the media.” He then explained, without a hint of self-reflection, that the “worst mistakes that press organizations have made in their coverage of Trump has precisely occurred in their overzealous effort to be fair to the president.”

These are the words of a man who upholds truth by obfuscating it as much as possible. By any measure, the major media outlets screwed the pooch in their desperate need to traduce of the President. They’ve grudgingly acknowledged their blunders. But it’s the righteous belief in their own probity that creates the opportunity for error in the first place.

“In a well-documented fashion, steady doses of viewpoint reinforcement lead not only to a resistance to alternative positions but also to a more entrenched and passionate way in which thoughts are held and expressed,” Daniels writes. Even with a string of oversights, the media is adamant about proving collusion between Trump and Russia.

It’s not enough for journalists to admit they’re wrong anymore. Guilt without penance isn’t guilt. Unless reporting practices change, I’ll question whether the press really thinks it made a mistake, or merely missed the mark on proving a narrative set firmly in their heads.

Mitch Daniels, the former governor of Indiana, went from estimable presidential candidate to nondescript university president in the political timeframe of a nanosecond. Back in 2011, Daniels was on many a short list of potential Republican presidential candidates. A stalwart fiscal hawk, a tempered social conservative, a former Reagan advisor, a cost-cutting budget wonk, and a seasoned politician, the White House nod might have been his, had he picked the path.

But, alas, as Caesar opined to Brutus, he eschewed the stars and opted not to run. The reason was good: Daniels’s wife, Cheri, left him for a doctor in 1994. They later patched things up, but a dredging up of the past is a prerequisite of presidential campaigns, and Daniels, honorable man he is, chose family over calling.

We live with our choices, and Daniels lived with his. Today, he heads Purdue University. And while he’s out of public office, he still sounds off on political issues in the pages of The Washington Post.

His latest offering, just in time for Advent season, hits on the greatest trouble of our time. As the new year approaches, the country is mired in epistemological crisis. Political polarization is at its highest point since the Civil War. Ideological purity tears at the middle that once formed our national consensus. There’s a sense that one’s political party is now his tribe, and elections are bloody brawls like the kind between the Dead Rabbits and the Natives in Scorsese’s Gangs of New York.

Daniels pinpoints the source of our intransigence: an inability to admit fault. In “Is Anyone Ever Wrong Anymore?” the man once dubbed “The Blade” laments the loss of the biblical virtue called humility. A combination of forces has made us intellectually comfortable, reassured in our convictions.

Prior-enforcing news curation; homogenous university curriculum; consequence-free internet argumentation — Daniels cites these and more as contributing to our know-nothingness. This confirmation bias, he writes, “has mutated from a hazard of academic research to a menacing political and social phenomenon.”

Daniels’s model for modesty is historian Stephen Ambrose, who, at the end of his life, admitted error in casting many judgements as a young chronicler of America’s past. From the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to the records of Richard Nixon and Theodore Roosevelt, Ambrose refined his thinking on events and individuals who shaped American life. He was brave enough to utter what Daniels calls “those three magical little words”: I was wrong.

Now that’s a phrase you rarely hear anymore. Truth, that concept held so dear by Greek philosophers, is passé. What matters is winning the argument. Logic, facts, and evidence be damned.

This closing of the American mind, to borrow Allan Bloom’s great phrase, doesn’t just make civil discourse impossible. It corrupts the mind, expelling reason, filling it with a dangerous hubris. The recent spate of spurious news stories — what our president calls “fake news” — is reflective of the inflated egos of our journalist class.

The arrogance of the press was on full display last week. The media, in its furious quest to find a connection between President Trump and the Russian regime, botched three major stories. First, Brian Ross of ABC misreported that former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn was going to testify that Trump, as a candidate, ordered him to contact the Russians. Trump had actually made the order as president-elect–a completely sensible request for an incoming head of state.

Then, Reuters reported that Special Counsel Robert Mueller, as part of his ongoing probe of Russian influence on the election, had subpoenaed Trump’s personal financial records from Deutsche Bank. That was wrong — the request was not tied to Trump directly but rather associates of the President.

Friday brought the biggest fumble yet. CNN reporters Manu Raju and Jeremy Herb broke an exclusive story about the Trump campaign receiving an email containing an encryption key that was supposed to unlock stolen Wikileaks documents. The date of the email was significant: It was sent during the campaign on a day Donald Trump, Jr., happened to tweet about Wikileaks.

The Raju/Herb report was immediately seen as a smoking gun. Here, finally, was confirmation the Trump campaign had access to damning information about Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party. That information was allegedly filched by the Russian government. At last, irrefutable proof Trump worked with Putin to steal the election!

Cue sad trombone. The email in question was sent one day after the documents went public. The wished-for collusion remains elusive.

In each of these incidents, the respective news organizations issued retractions, but only after another party pointed out the mistake. Had the claims gone unquestioned, they’d be treated as facts today. With ABC’s flub, network president James Goldston tore into his own staff, emphasizing the “need to get it right” and “not first.” The contrition was commendable. Not everyone was apologetic about the lapses, though.

The Atlantic Senior Editor David Frum remained unashamed.  Appearing on CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” he told host Brian Stelter, “mistakes are precisely the reason the people should trust the media.” He then explained, without a hint of self-reflection, that the “worst mistakes that press organizations have made in their coverage of Trump has precisely occurred in their overzealous effort to be fair to the president.”

These are the words of a man who upholds truth by obfuscating it as much as possible. By any measure, the major media outlets screwed the pooch in their desperate need to traduce of the President. They’ve grudgingly acknowledged their blunders. But it’s the righteous belief in their own probity that creates the opportunity for error in the first place.

“In a well-documented fashion, steady doses of viewpoint reinforcement lead not only to a resistance to alternative positions but also to a more entrenched and passionate way in which thoughts are held and expressed,” Daniels writes. Even with a string of oversights, the media is adamant about proving collusion between Trump and Russia.

It’s not enough for journalists to admit they’re wrong anymore. Guilt without penance isn’t guilt. Unless reporting practices change, I’ll question whether the press really thinks it made a mistake, or merely missed the mark on proving a narrative set firmly in their heads.



Source link

It's Time for a Climate Change in the Climate Change Dogma


This week, a horde of junketeers is amassing in Europe for yet another conference: COP 23 IN Bonn, Germany.  The token host is the president of Fiji.  This one event will consume more fossil fuels than some small nations use in one year.

Some of the fully indoctrinated attendees will be full of trepidation that the climate sky is truly falling and that we are on the edge of yet another dire tipping point.  The ruling elites from the E.U. will be hoping to strengthen their grip on international energy and thus accomplish their globalization dreams.  Christiana Figueres, an outspoken and extreme anti-fossil fuel proponent, will hope to be one more step closer to putting the final nail in the coffin of capitalism, to fulfill her fantasy of a perfect world order under socialism.  And the predatory green industrialists will be salivating over the scraps of meat thrown their way at this Bacchanalian feast.

The purported common enemy is carbon dioxide, the colorless and odorless gas that is vital to all of life.  We are asked to believe that this harmless gas is the sole driver of climate change.  The real enemy is anyone who does not agree, which includes most of humanity.

There is a grim reality for many of these bureaucrats.  The inconvenient truth is that more and more people, especially here in America, refuse to drink the Al Gore Kool-Aid.  We celebrated when Donald Trump pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord.  Yet anyone who questions the climate dogma is ridiculed.  We are told that the science is settled and that all real scientists agree with the global warming position, the illusory 97% consensus.  If you question the rubric, you are a simpleton, a denier, a flat-Earther, a climate change skeptic, and ignorant of real science. 

We are often asked if we believe in global warming.  But belief is the realm of religion.  Global warming is the religion of the atheistic green left, described beautifully by the late Michael Crichton.  The Earth was once an unspoiled Garden of Eden, and man came along and took a bite out of the fossil fuel apple.  We have spoiled the Garden and must be punished.  Redemption requires being denied the apple and buying some carbon offset indulgences.  Those who are not saved must die.

I will not be praying to that god.

The attitude of the true scientist is skepticism.  Science is never, ever settled.  Every notion, hypothesis, theory, and law is subject to review.  We have seen too many cases in history where the consensus was wrong.  In the face of new evidence, a real open-minded scientist goes back to the drawing board.  Or as the Duc de La Rochefouocauld said in the 17 century, “There goes another beautiful theory about to be murdered by a brutal gang of facts.”  In religion, you are not allowed to question the dogma.

First, let’s clear the air.  Everyone knows that the climate changes.  There is general agreement that the Earth has warmed since the Little Ice Age.  Temperature proxies may be hard to defend for portraying past temperatures, but there is secondary evidence.  The Medieval Warm Period, 1,000 years ago, was probably warmer than now, contrary to Michael Mann and his Hockey Stick graph.  They were growing non-hybridized wine grapes in northern England at that time.  And the Vikings had three thriving settlements on the southwest coast of Greenland with perhaps three thousand inhabitants as detailed in Icelandic history.  They had grazing animals and grew cool-weather crops.  That is not possible today.  The last Vikings were gone from Greenland by about 1300 A.D. because of the sudden onset of the Little Ice Age.  There are clearly natural climate changes that still have not been fully elucidated.  The science is not settled.

Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, but the Earth is not a perfect greenhouse.  There is no glass ceiling to trap all of the heat.  Most infrared heat escapes into space, but a small amount is captured by the gas, and some temperature rise is expected with higher concentrations.  Most of the Earth’s warming occurs within the first 100 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide.  The warming curve is asymptotic so that it now requires a doubling of CO2 to raise the temperature 1 degree Centigrade.  That means we would have to go from our current 400 ppm to 800 ppm of CO2 to get this small amount of increase in temperature.  (Most of us would not notice the difference.  We also would not feel any effects from this higher level of CO2.  It is common for interior spaces to be above 1,000 ppm carbon dioxide.)

The IPCC claims that the warming would be much more because of positive feedback warming from water vapor.  But the climate is not cooperating.  No such feedback has been found.  Almost every climate computer model has been wrong over the last twenty years at predicting the change in our temperature.  Except for the El Niño years, the climate has been remarkably static for two decades.  The great American physicist, Richard P. Feynman, said, “It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is.  It doesn’t matter how smart you are.  If it doesn’t agree with experiment, it’s wrong.”  The science is not settled.

And then there are all of the hysterical claims about climate change.  We are led to believe that extra CO2 causes warming and cooling and heavy rains and drought.  The list of claims reads like a comedy monologue.  So no matter what happens with the weather, the hysterical crowd is never wrong.  Any wonder why the American thinking public is skeptical?

Let’s look at some popular memes.  It is said that if it gets a little warmer, the poles will melt, and the ocean will rise twenty feet, engulfing our coasts and most small islands.  But if the North Pole melts completely and so does the sea ice around Antarctica,  the ocean level will scarcely change.  Al Gore should be instructed in basic grade school science and look up Archimedes.  The melted Arctic will not raise the ocean any more than your glass of iced tea will overflow when the ice melts.  But what if the ice pack melts on Greenland and Antarctica?  The ice pack of central Greenland is increasing, as is Antarctica.  Antarctica has 90% of the world’s ice, and on a hot summer day, the temperature is still 30 degrees below zero.  That disaster is not going to happen.

On a similar note, it is said there is an acceleration of the rise of the ocean at this time.  The ocean has risen about 400 feet since the end of the last Ice Age 8,000 years ago, and the continued rise is thought to be from slow thermal expansion.  Depending on what you read, this rise is about 1-7 mm/year.  If you measure the area around Scandinavia, you might conclude that the ocean is receding.  Apparently, the Earth’s crust is rebounding from the weight of ice from that last Ice Age.  Nonetheless, I am pretty sure we can jump out of the way of the microscopic tidal waves to come on the coasts.

But what about ocean acidification?  Let’s get this straight: the ocean is not acidic and probably cannot get that way.  Acid versus alkaline is measured by pH, a logarithmic scale of hydrogen ion concentration.  A pH of 7 is neutral, and a pH of 8 has roughly ten times less hydrogen ion (acid).  Anything above 7 is alkaline and below 7 is acid.  The oceans are a pH of around 8 or more.  They are alkaline.  The oceans also contain about 36,000 gigatons of carbon dioxide, 90% of which is in the form of bicarbonate.  The atmosphere contains about 3,000 gigatons of carbon dioxide gas, less than one tenth the ocean’s.  If you dissolved 10 micromoles CO2  in pure water at pH 7, the resulting carbonic acid would change the pH to almost 6.  If you use sea water, the pH would be about 6.99.  This is because seawater has bicarbonate in a concentration of about 2.3 millimoles per liter.  This ocean water is a buffered solution and resists pH change.  But remember that the ocean is alkaline already and not neutral.  There may not be enough fossil fuels you could burn to turn the ocean acid.

There are other inconvenient truths.  Since the satellite era, it is now shown that the Earth is greening under the influence of increased CO2.  Carbon dioxide is plant fertilizer, and this is great news for a hungry world.  The deserts of the world are receding under the influence of the rising CO2.  Plants are able to conserve more water with more CO2.  (If I liked bumper stickers, I would have one that says: “For a green world, burn fossil fuels.”)  Also, tropical storms are not increasing in frequency and severity, no matter what the global warming alarmists and the MSM say.

So what are all of these climate conferences accomplishing?  I can see nothing decent happening that will truly help our fellow humans lead a healthy, happy, and prosperous life.

The policies of the IPCC will lead us to a new Dark Age.  Wind and solar are highly unreliable sources of energy because they are useful only when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing.  Of course, they will have to continue getting exemptions for killings millions of endangered bats and birds.  There are no highly efficient ways of storing excess energy for later use.  Countries that have rushed headlong into these so-called renewables are suffering brown- and blackouts and high energy costs.  Many of their citizens have to choose between food and electricity.

The radical left seems happy to shutter industry and create one big miserable planet.  You will even find it hard to escape to a more prosperous region if you have to drive one of the overrated, overvalued, over-subsidized, and modified electric golf carts that take you 100 miles before you have to tediously charge them again.

That is what is in store for the formerly happy and healthy and wealthy West.

What about Africa?  Africa has been a special project for this last century of the misinformed and arrogant West.  Especially in equatorial Africa, the people have been deprived of the privilege of joining the twentieth century, let alone the twenty-first.  They have been deprived the use of their own fossil fuels for inexpensive electricity.  Without cheap energy, there is subsistence living.  People have to destroy the forest for wood and kill the animals to survive.  They have no money for their own industry, no energy for lighting, cooking, hospitals, roads, food preservation, clean water, and prevention of terrible diseases.  They also need the judicious use of DDT to control malaria.  Nothing else works better.  And that is what eradicated that scourge from most of the rest of the world. 

The United States of America is a bright hope for the world if it takes heed.  We hope to maintain our lead in affordable energy.  This does not mean we should stop looking for other reliable and inexpensive energy.  There is some hope for small and efficient liquid salt nuclear reactors; time will tell.

But the IPCC and its bureaucratic minions seem bent on making the world miserable with their policies, while making lots of money and privilege for themselves.  I guess they attest to the wisdom of that great American philosopher, Groucho Marx: “happy does not make money.”

This week, a horde of junketeers is amassing in Europe for yet another conference: COP 23 IN Bonn, Germany.  The token host is the president of Fiji.  This one event will consume more fossil fuels than some small nations use in one year.

Some of the fully indoctrinated attendees will be full of trepidation that the climate sky is truly falling and that we are on the edge of yet another dire tipping point.  The ruling elites from the E.U. will be hoping to strengthen their grip on international energy and thus accomplish their globalization dreams.  Christiana Figueres, an outspoken and extreme anti-fossil fuel proponent, will hope to be one more step closer to putting the final nail in the coffin of capitalism, to fulfill her fantasy of a perfect world order under socialism.  And the predatory green industrialists will be salivating over the scraps of meat thrown their way at this Bacchanalian feast.

The purported common enemy is carbon dioxide, the colorless and odorless gas that is vital to all of life.  We are asked to believe that this harmless gas is the sole driver of climate change.  The real enemy is anyone who does not agree, which includes most of humanity.

There is a grim reality for many of these bureaucrats.  The inconvenient truth is that more and more people, especially here in America, refuse to drink the Al Gore Kool-Aid.  We celebrated when Donald Trump pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord.  Yet anyone who questions the climate dogma is ridiculed.  We are told that the science is settled and that all real scientists agree with the global warming position, the illusory 97% consensus.  If you question the rubric, you are a simpleton, a denier, a flat-Earther, a climate change skeptic, and ignorant of real science. 

We are often asked if we believe in global warming.  But belief is the realm of religion.  Global warming is the religion of the atheistic green left, described beautifully by the late Michael Crichton.  The Earth was once an unspoiled Garden of Eden, and man came along and took a bite out of the fossil fuel apple.  We have spoiled the Garden and must be punished.  Redemption requires being denied the apple and buying some carbon offset indulgences.  Those who are not saved must die.

I will not be praying to that god.

The attitude of the true scientist is skepticism.  Science is never, ever settled.  Every notion, hypothesis, theory, and law is subject to review.  We have seen too many cases in history where the consensus was wrong.  In the face of new evidence, a real open-minded scientist goes back to the drawing board.  Or as the Duc de La Rochefouocauld said in the 17 century, “There goes another beautiful theory about to be murdered by a brutal gang of facts.”  In religion, you are not allowed to question the dogma.

First, let’s clear the air.  Everyone knows that the climate changes.  There is general agreement that the Earth has warmed since the Little Ice Age.  Temperature proxies may be hard to defend for portraying past temperatures, but there is secondary evidence.  The Medieval Warm Period, 1,000 years ago, was probably warmer than now, contrary to Michael Mann and his Hockey Stick graph.  They were growing non-hybridized wine grapes in northern England at that time.  And the Vikings had three thriving settlements on the southwest coast of Greenland with perhaps three thousand inhabitants as detailed in Icelandic history.  They had grazing animals and grew cool-weather crops.  That is not possible today.  The last Vikings were gone from Greenland by about 1300 A.D. because of the sudden onset of the Little Ice Age.  There are clearly natural climate changes that still have not been fully elucidated.  The science is not settled.

Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, but the Earth is not a perfect greenhouse.  There is no glass ceiling to trap all of the heat.  Most infrared heat escapes into space, but a small amount is captured by the gas, and some temperature rise is expected with higher concentrations.  Most of the Earth’s warming occurs within the first 100 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide.  The warming curve is asymptotic so that it now requires a doubling of CO2 to raise the temperature 1 degree Centigrade.  That means we would have to go from our current 400 ppm to 800 ppm of CO2 to get this small amount of increase in temperature.  (Most of us would not notice the difference.  We also would not feel any effects from this higher level of CO2.  It is common for interior spaces to be above 1,000 ppm carbon dioxide.)

The IPCC claims that the warming would be much more because of positive feedback warming from water vapor.  But the climate is not cooperating.  No such feedback has been found.  Almost every climate computer model has been wrong over the last twenty years at predicting the change in our temperature.  Except for the El Niño years, the climate has been remarkably static for two decades.  The great American physicist, Richard P. Feynman, said, “It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is.  It doesn’t matter how smart you are.  If it doesn’t agree with experiment, it’s wrong.”  The science is not settled.

And then there are all of the hysterical claims about climate change.  We are led to believe that extra CO2 causes warming and cooling and heavy rains and drought.  The list of claims reads like a comedy monologue.  So no matter what happens with the weather, the hysterical crowd is never wrong.  Any wonder why the American thinking public is skeptical?

Let’s look at some popular memes.  It is said that if it gets a little warmer, the poles will melt, and the ocean will rise twenty feet, engulfing our coasts and most small islands.  But if the North Pole melts completely and so does the sea ice around Antarctica,  the ocean level will scarcely change.  Al Gore should be instructed in basic grade school science and look up Archimedes.  The melted Arctic will not raise the ocean any more than your glass of iced tea will overflow when the ice melts.  But what if the ice pack melts on Greenland and Antarctica?  The ice pack of central Greenland is increasing, as is Antarctica.  Antarctica has 90% of the world’s ice, and on a hot summer day, the temperature is still 30 degrees below zero.  That disaster is not going to happen.

On a similar note, it is said there is an acceleration of the rise of the ocean at this time.  The ocean has risen about 400 feet since the end of the last Ice Age 8,000 years ago, and the continued rise is thought to be from slow thermal expansion.  Depending on what you read, this rise is about 1-7 mm/year.  If you measure the area around Scandinavia, you might conclude that the ocean is receding.  Apparently, the Earth’s crust is rebounding from the weight of ice from that last Ice Age.  Nonetheless, I am pretty sure we can jump out of the way of the microscopic tidal waves to come on the coasts.

But what about ocean acidification?  Let’s get this straight: the ocean is not acidic and probably cannot get that way.  Acid versus alkaline is measured by pH, a logarithmic scale of hydrogen ion concentration.  A pH of 7 is neutral, and a pH of 8 has roughly ten times less hydrogen ion (acid).  Anything above 7 is alkaline and below 7 is acid.  The oceans are a pH of around 8 or more.  They are alkaline.  The oceans also contain about 36,000 gigatons of carbon dioxide, 90% of which is in the form of bicarbonate.  The atmosphere contains about 3,000 gigatons of carbon dioxide gas, less than one tenth the ocean’s.  If you dissolved 10 micromoles CO2  in pure water at pH 7, the resulting carbonic acid would change the pH to almost 6.  If you use sea water, the pH would be about 6.99.  This is because seawater has bicarbonate in a concentration of about 2.3 millimoles per liter.  This ocean water is a buffered solution and resists pH change.  But remember that the ocean is alkaline already and not neutral.  There may not be enough fossil fuels you could burn to turn the ocean acid.

There are other inconvenient truths.  Since the satellite era, it is now shown that the Earth is greening under the influence of increased CO2.  Carbon dioxide is plant fertilizer, and this is great news for a hungry world.  The deserts of the world are receding under the influence of the rising CO2.  Plants are able to conserve more water with more CO2.  (If I liked bumper stickers, I would have one that says: “For a green world, burn fossil fuels.”)  Also, tropical storms are not increasing in frequency and severity, no matter what the global warming alarmists and the MSM say.

So what are all of these climate conferences accomplishing?  I can see nothing decent happening that will truly help our fellow humans lead a healthy, happy, and prosperous life.

The policies of the IPCC will lead us to a new Dark Age.  Wind and solar are highly unreliable sources of energy because they are useful only when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing.  Of course, they will have to continue getting exemptions for killings millions of endangered bats and birds.  There are no highly efficient ways of storing excess energy for later use.  Countries that have rushed headlong into these so-called renewables are suffering brown- and blackouts and high energy costs.  Many of their citizens have to choose between food and electricity.

The radical left seems happy to shutter industry and create one big miserable planet.  You will even find it hard to escape to a more prosperous region if you have to drive one of the overrated, overvalued, over-subsidized, and modified electric golf carts that take you 100 miles before you have to tediously charge them again.

That is what is in store for the formerly happy and healthy and wealthy West.

What about Africa?  Africa has been a special project for this last century of the misinformed and arrogant West.  Especially in equatorial Africa, the people have been deprived of the privilege of joining the twentieth century, let alone the twenty-first.  They have been deprived the use of their own fossil fuels for inexpensive electricity.  Without cheap energy, there is subsistence living.  People have to destroy the forest for wood and kill the animals to survive.  They have no money for their own industry, no energy for lighting, cooking, hospitals, roads, food preservation, clean water, and prevention of terrible diseases.  They also need the judicious use of DDT to control malaria.  Nothing else works better.  And that is what eradicated that scourge from most of the rest of the world. 

The United States of America is a bright hope for the world if it takes heed.  We hope to maintain our lead in affordable energy.  This does not mean we should stop looking for other reliable and inexpensive energy.  There is some hope for small and efficient liquid salt nuclear reactors; time will tell.

But the IPCC and its bureaucratic minions seem bent on making the world miserable with their policies, while making lots of money and privilege for themselves.  I guess they attest to the wisdom of that great American philosopher, Groucho Marx: “happy does not make money.”



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Coming Soon: Incest, State-Sponsored and Court-Approved



Say what you will about Rick Santorum, but he's starting to look like a prophet.



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At Last, the Moment I've Long Anticipated!



The liberal obsession with identity politics and "intersectionality" has begun to turn on itself.



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The Curious Case of the Democrats vs Zuckerberg


The worst kind of fight in one in which you wish for both sides’ demise. Whatever satisfaction you get from watching one foe whipped is instantly tempered by the victor’s success. It’s a no-win situation.

Watching Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg defend his digital empire before menacing lawmakers was one such brawl. In early September, Facebook disclosed that it had suspended hundreds of accounts associated with a St. Petersburg-based website that dispensed pro-Kremlin propaganda. The long-held suspicion that Putin operatives attempted to influence the 2016 election was confirmed.

Then the levee broke.

With appetites whetted with the possibility of finally cutting the social media giant down a peg, lawmakers, including an enlivened Senator Richard Burr (R-SC), demanded Facebook executives testify before Congress on the matter. “This is just the tip of the iceberg,” Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) declared, licking his massive chops with gleeful anticipation. During his recent big business conclave, former New York City mayor and slurpee-hater Michael Bloomberg said Facebook employees should be required to “read every message” posted on the platform — a demand far beyond the realm of reasonability.

The pressure got to Zuckerberg. Out of patriotism or profit (the latter, most likely), he announced new restrictions on political ads. The social kingpin also revealed that he is working in full cooperation with the U.S. government, including Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is probing to find out if President Trump colluded with Russia to defeat Hillary Clinton. 

This was a remarkable concession in what is, at heart, a power struggle. “All these years, the 33-year-old founder of Facebook has been dismissive of the idea that social media and A.I. could be used for global domination — or even that they should be regulated,” Maureen Dowd giddily wrote in the New York Times. Now, Zuck and his digi-army are on the defensive. They’re being forced to accept more regulation by politicians who don’t have the first clue about their algorithmic magic.

The Russia business has awoken policy makers to a cruel reality: A private entity has the eyes of over a billion people in the world. Its influence is unparalleled. The government commandeering every television station in the country wouldn’t come close to the ability Facebook has to broadcast one universal message across the platform.

So the empire is striking back. Facebook is ostensibly under the jurisdiction of the U.S. government. But with its unfiltered stream directly to the palm of your hand, Zuckerberg’s behemoth exercises what Orwell called “reality control.” By policing the flow of information, it can, quite literally, help define what is real in the individual mind.

With its capacity to sway public opinion, the question is: Who controls whom?

As a techie, Zuckerberg loathes the added attention. His clandestine campaign for president, zigzagging across the country, will now face more scrutiny.

Putting a slight damper on Zuckerberg’s imperial ambition is a small victory. The downside is that it feeds into the myth that somehow Vladimir Putin put Trump in the White House. If Democrats are to be believed, the Kremlin dropping hundreds of millions of rubles on anti-Hillary ads changed middle America’s mind about the inevitable Madam President.

But as Rachel Stoltzfoos of the Daily Caller News Foundation points out, this requires toddler-level gullibility. If the Democrats’ theory is correct, $150,000 in rinky-dink ads determined an election in which more than a billion dollars was spent.

Facebook has influence. But not that much influence — yet anyway. Don’t expect Democrats to let up on making Zuckerberg a punching bag, though. He’s one of a handful excuses they can point to in order to avoid coming to grips with their besting by Trump.

This whole episode is a warning for the future. Facebook has reshaped the way news is consumed. Traditional media outlets are at the mercy of an inhuman decider. Many, through no fault of their own, are finding themselves on the losing end.

Facebook has taken over a large chunk of the news publishing business by co-opting its lifeline: ad revenue. “The reality of the American media is that Google and Facebook own nearly the entire advertising market,” writes Lee Smith in Tablet magazine. By nearly monopolizing the means publications have to monetize their product, Facebook has its hooks deep in the news industry. Will journalists speak out against Zuckerberg when it could cost them their livelihood?

Conservatives are normally wary of extending government’s power over business. But as Facebook cozies up to the left, the greater chance there is it will be used as a weaponized propaganda arm for liberalism. Hillary Clinton received over $100,000 in campaign donations from its employees last year — far exceeding the amount given to any Republican. There’s no hyperbole when the president labels Facebook “anti-Trump.”

Some on the right have realized Facebook’s potential in suppressing unorthodox views. Former White House strategist and Breitbart bigwig Steve Bannon considered regulating the company as a public entity. Prior to joining the Trump campaign, Bannon reportedly mulled the idea of having a mole apply to the social media giant and report back from the inside.

A cockamamie scheme like that was destined to backfire. Zuckerberg isn’t dumb enough to let just anyone waltz into his A.I. fortress. But Bannon, a terra firma philosopher who doesn’t let his head get lost in the clouds, showed foresight. Republican blindness toward business is dissipating.

Tocqueville wrote in Democracy in America that the “pursuit of wealth generally diverts men of great talents and strong passions from the pursuit of power; and it frequently happens that a man does not undertake to direct the fortunes of the state until he has shown himself incompetent to conduct his own.” Zuckerberg wouldn’t be the first to parlay his private enterprise into a political career (our current president is testament to that), but he would be the most potent.

Facebook didn’t determine the last election, but as the company continues to gobble up attention spans like an insatiable Pac-Man, it’s plausible that it could one day skew a presidential contest.

That should give even the strictest laissez-faire conservative pause. Power’s a force not limited to the state. In some cases, it can be as innocent as the simple brushing of a phone screen with your thumb.

The worst kind of fight in one in which you wish for both sides’ demise. Whatever satisfaction you get from watching one foe whipped is instantly tempered by the victor’s success. It’s a no-win situation.

Watching Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg defend his digital empire before menacing lawmakers was one such brawl. In early September, Facebook disclosed that it had suspended hundreds of accounts associated with a St. Petersburg-based website that dispensed pro-Kremlin propaganda. The long-held suspicion that Putin operatives attempted to influence the 2016 election was confirmed.

Then the levee broke.

With appetites whetted with the possibility of finally cutting the social media giant down a peg, lawmakers, including an enlivened Senator Richard Burr (R-SC), demanded Facebook executives testify before Congress on the matter. “This is just the tip of the iceberg,” Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) declared, licking his massive chops with gleeful anticipation. During his recent big business conclave, former New York City mayor and slurpee-hater Michael Bloomberg said Facebook employees should be required to “read every message” posted on the platform — a demand far beyond the realm of reasonability.

The pressure got to Zuckerberg. Out of patriotism or profit (the latter, most likely), he announced new restrictions on political ads. The social kingpin also revealed that he is working in full cooperation with the U.S. government, including Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is probing to find out if President Trump colluded with Russia to defeat Hillary Clinton. 

This was a remarkable concession in what is, at heart, a power struggle. “All these years, the 33-year-old founder of Facebook has been dismissive of the idea that social media and A.I. could be used for global domination — or even that they should be regulated,” Maureen Dowd giddily wrote in the New York Times. Now, Zuck and his digi-army are on the defensive. They’re being forced to accept more regulation by politicians who don’t have the first clue about their algorithmic magic.

The Russia business has awoken policy makers to a cruel reality: A private entity has the eyes of over a billion people in the world. Its influence is unparalleled. The government commandeering every television station in the country wouldn’t come close to the ability Facebook has to broadcast one universal message across the platform.

So the empire is striking back. Facebook is ostensibly under the jurisdiction of the U.S. government. But with its unfiltered stream directly to the palm of your hand, Zuckerberg’s behemoth exercises what Orwell called “reality control.” By policing the flow of information, it can, quite literally, help define what is real in the individual mind.

With its capacity to sway public opinion, the question is: Who controls whom?

As a techie, Zuckerberg loathes the added attention. His clandestine campaign for president, zigzagging across the country, will now face more scrutiny.

Putting a slight damper on Zuckerberg’s imperial ambition is a small victory. The downside is that it feeds into the myth that somehow Vladimir Putin put Trump in the White House. If Democrats are to be believed, the Kremlin dropping hundreds of millions of rubles on anti-Hillary ads changed middle America’s mind about the inevitable Madam President.

But as Rachel Stoltzfoos of the Daily Caller News Foundation points out, this requires toddler-level gullibility. If the Democrats’ theory is correct, $150,000 in rinky-dink ads determined an election in which more than a billion dollars was spent.

Facebook has influence. But not that much influence — yet anyway. Don’t expect Democrats to let up on making Zuckerberg a punching bag, though. He’s one of a handful excuses they can point to in order to avoid coming to grips with their besting by Trump.

This whole episode is a warning for the future. Facebook has reshaped the way news is consumed. Traditional media outlets are at the mercy of an inhuman decider. Many, through no fault of their own, are finding themselves on the losing end.

Facebook has taken over a large chunk of the news publishing business by co-opting its lifeline: ad revenue. “The reality of the American media is that Google and Facebook own nearly the entire advertising market,” writes Lee Smith in Tablet magazine. By nearly monopolizing the means publications have to monetize their product, Facebook has its hooks deep in the news industry. Will journalists speak out against Zuckerberg when it could cost them their livelihood?

Conservatives are normally wary of extending government’s power over business. But as Facebook cozies up to the left, the greater chance there is it will be used as a weaponized propaganda arm for liberalism. Hillary Clinton received over $100,000 in campaign donations from its employees last year — far exceeding the amount given to any Republican. There’s no hyperbole when the president labels Facebook “anti-Trump.”

Some on the right have realized Facebook’s potential in suppressing unorthodox views. Former White House strategist and Breitbart bigwig Steve Bannon considered regulating the company as a public entity. Prior to joining the Trump campaign, Bannon reportedly mulled the idea of having a mole apply to the social media giant and report back from the inside.

A cockamamie scheme like that was destined to backfire. Zuckerberg isn’t dumb enough to let just anyone waltz into his A.I. fortress. But Bannon, a terra firma philosopher who doesn’t let his head get lost in the clouds, showed foresight. Republican blindness toward business is dissipating.

Tocqueville wrote in Democracy in America that the “pursuit of wealth generally diverts men of great talents and strong passions from the pursuit of power; and it frequently happens that a man does not undertake to direct the fortunes of the state until he has shown himself incompetent to conduct his own.” Zuckerberg wouldn’t be the first to parlay his private enterprise into a political career (our current president is testament to that), but he would be the most potent.

Facebook didn’t determine the last election, but as the company continues to gobble up attention spans like an insatiable Pac-Man, it’s plausible that it could one day skew a presidential contest.

That should give even the strictest laissez-faire conservative pause. Power’s a force not limited to the state. In some cases, it can be as innocent as the simple brushing of a phone screen with your thumb.



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The Radical Center Returns


Every once in awhile, radical centrism makes a trendy return to American political discourse.

From the presidential campaign of Ross Perot, to the lackluster launch of the vapid “No Labels” campaign, to the equally yawn-worthy “Reformocon” movement, the romantic ideal of Americans putting aside their differences and coming together to develop real, pragmatic solutions to the country’s biggest problems enchants the commentariat class.

These panegyrics to moderation usually emerge after congressional congestion gets in the way of ambitious legislation. When Congress fails to, say, overhaul the health care system or simplify the tax code, certain pundits, paying tribute to the cordiality of yesteryear, will scribble out sanctimonious essays on the fading spirit of civic togetherness.

The newest attempt comes via two well-known operatives: Bill Galston of the Brookings Institution and Weekly Standard founder Bill Kristol. The perfect encapsulations of their respective political parties, the esteemed duo has come together to form “A New Center,” an organization dedicated to defending what historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., called the “vital center.”

The New Center was launched in the wake of Donald Trump’s stunning electoral victory. And after eight months of languid legislative progress on Capitol Hill, Kristol and Galston have released a policy manifesto of proposals that aim to “re-center America.”

What brave, bold ideas do these two Washington eminences think will help restore our fraying national fabric?

The list is surprisingly intriguing. They propose a number of practical initiatives: Simplifying the tax code and reinvesting the proceeds into infrastructure development; boosting wages for low-skilled workers; cracking down on China’s intellectual property theft; curbing the power of tech giants like Google and Facebook; reforming our immigration system to encourage more high-skilled immigrants.

There are no grand schemes, like nationalizing industry. But that’s the point. These propositions appeal to the mushy middle. Common sense in presentation, easy in execution, attractive across the board -– only the fringes would find fault with these modest suggestions.

There’s also the freshness factor. The list eschews vacuous bullet points candidates are fond of putting on their websites. Typical Republican proposals like tax cuts for high earners are noticeably absent. There’s scant mention of race or sexual orientation. As Damon Linker points out, the “list is impressive in its willingness to break from both parties’ settled habits.”

So why not drop what you’re doing and sign up to be a full-fledged member of “The New Center”?

The answer’s easy. This new center already exists. It currently resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

President Trump has, at one time or another, endorsed the Galston-Kristol plan. During the campaign, the Manhattan developer emphasized the need to repair and restore our ailing infrastructure. As president, he’s ordered an investigation into China’s intellectual thievery. He has endorsed an immigration bill authored by senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue that favors high-skilled, English-speaking immigrants. Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon openly mulled having Facebook and Google regulated like public utilities.

Trump was the choice of voters who rejected the shopworn platforms of our major parties. He openly defied Republican orthodoxy, voicing support for taxing the rich, expanding government health care, establishing domestic trade protection, and pulling back on international commitments.

In recent weeks, President Trump has pivoted away from the narrow vision of Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan and has embraced working with Democrats. As hurricanes ravaged the southern U.S., and the country quickly approached its debt limit, Trump wasted little time in cutting a deal with “Chuck and Nancy.” He took the quick and easily path: relief funding for the rebuilding effort in Houston in exchange for a short-term debt ceiling lift.

No brinkmanship or loud, partisan speeches were necessary. If you want a rebuke of ideological stubbornness, it doesn’t get more moderate than a Republican president ditching his own party and openly siding with Democratic leadership.

So why aren’t Galston and Kristol hailing our radically middling chief? Why must they endlessly assail him?

In a word, that old sin pride. As D.C. kingmakers, the Trump presidency is an existential threat to their occupation. The president lacks an ideology. For Washington power rankers, this is frustrating. He’s never fit the mold of a prefab politician. His billfold’s empty of the Washington currency of respectability, and he doesn’t seem to care. His edges are rough, his language is coarse, his public persona is wild and lecherous.

Trump saw the road to the White House occupied on both sides with influencers, power-brokers, glad-handers, name-droppers, sycophants, and status salesmen. Rather than schmooze and wheedle his way through, he took a detour to the back door, bypassing the gatekeepers. In doing so, he forever earned the distrust of the Potomac Praetorian Guard.

Self-styled centrists like Kristol and Galston aren’t interested in shoring up the center; their goal is the perpetuation of the status quo. No matter the side, they want their ring kissed by presidential aspirants. Policy is secondary–power is the first objective.

Donald Trump is the center par excellence of American politics. On a Venn diagram, he occupies equal space with Republicans and Democrats. He’s a real-life outsider who owes his party nothing, and lacks a gut hatred of the other side.

Yet the respectable center still hates him. It isn’t hard to see why once you understand the true mechanics of Washington.

 

Every once in awhile, radical centrism makes a trendy return to American political discourse.

From the presidential campaign of Ross Perot, to the lackluster launch of the vapid “No Labels” campaign, to the equally yawn-worthy “Reformocon” movement, the romantic ideal of Americans putting aside their differences and coming together to develop real, pragmatic solutions to the country’s biggest problems enchants the commentariat class.

These panegyrics to moderation usually emerge after congressional congestion gets in the way of ambitious legislation. When Congress fails to, say, overhaul the health care system or simplify the tax code, certain pundits, paying tribute to the cordiality of yesteryear, will scribble out sanctimonious essays on the fading spirit of civic togetherness.

The newest attempt comes via two well-known operatives: Bill Galston of the Brookings Institution and Weekly Standard founder Bill Kristol. The perfect encapsulations of their respective political parties, the esteemed duo has come together to form “A New Center,” an organization dedicated to defending what historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., called the “vital center.”

The New Center was launched in the wake of Donald Trump’s stunning electoral victory. And after eight months of languid legislative progress on Capitol Hill, Kristol and Galston have released a policy manifesto of proposals that aim to “re-center America.”

What brave, bold ideas do these two Washington eminences think will help restore our fraying national fabric?

The list is surprisingly intriguing. They propose a number of practical initiatives: Simplifying the tax code and reinvesting the proceeds into infrastructure development; boosting wages for low-skilled workers; cracking down on China’s intellectual property theft; curbing the power of tech giants like Google and Facebook; reforming our immigration system to encourage more high-skilled immigrants.

There are no grand schemes, like nationalizing industry. But that’s the point. These propositions appeal to the mushy middle. Common sense in presentation, easy in execution, attractive across the board -– only the fringes would find fault with these modest suggestions.

There’s also the freshness factor. The list eschews vacuous bullet points candidates are fond of putting on their websites. Typical Republican proposals like tax cuts for high earners are noticeably absent. There’s scant mention of race or sexual orientation. As Damon Linker points out, the “list is impressive in its willingness to break from both parties’ settled habits.”

So why not drop what you’re doing and sign up to be a full-fledged member of “The New Center”?

The answer’s easy. This new center already exists. It currently resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

President Trump has, at one time or another, endorsed the Galston-Kristol plan. During the campaign, the Manhattan developer emphasized the need to repair and restore our ailing infrastructure. As president, he’s ordered an investigation into China’s intellectual thievery. He has endorsed an immigration bill authored by senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue that favors high-skilled, English-speaking immigrants. Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon openly mulled having Facebook and Google regulated like public utilities.

Trump was the choice of voters who rejected the shopworn platforms of our major parties. He openly defied Republican orthodoxy, voicing support for taxing the rich, expanding government health care, establishing domestic trade protection, and pulling back on international commitments.

In recent weeks, President Trump has pivoted away from the narrow vision of Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan and has embraced working with Democrats. As hurricanes ravaged the southern U.S., and the country quickly approached its debt limit, Trump wasted little time in cutting a deal with “Chuck and Nancy.” He took the quick and easily path: relief funding for the rebuilding effort in Houston in exchange for a short-term debt ceiling lift.

No brinkmanship or loud, partisan speeches were necessary. If you want a rebuke of ideological stubbornness, it doesn’t get more moderate than a Republican president ditching his own party and openly siding with Democratic leadership.

So why aren’t Galston and Kristol hailing our radically middling chief? Why must they endlessly assail him?

In a word, that old sin pride. As D.C. kingmakers, the Trump presidency is an existential threat to their occupation. The president lacks an ideology. For Washington power rankers, this is frustrating. He’s never fit the mold of a prefab politician. His billfold’s empty of the Washington currency of respectability, and he doesn’t seem to care. His edges are rough, his language is coarse, his public persona is wild and lecherous.

Trump saw the road to the White House occupied on both sides with influencers, power-brokers, glad-handers, name-droppers, sycophants, and status salesmen. Rather than schmooze and wheedle his way through, he took a detour to the back door, bypassing the gatekeepers. In doing so, he forever earned the distrust of the Potomac Praetorian Guard.

Self-styled centrists like Kristol and Galston aren’t interested in shoring up the center; their goal is the perpetuation of the status quo. No matter the side, they want their ring kissed by presidential aspirants. Policy is secondary–power is the first objective.

Donald Trump is the center par excellence of American politics. On a Venn diagram, he occupies equal space with Republicans and Democrats. He’s a real-life outsider who owes his party nothing, and lacks a gut hatred of the other side.

Yet the respectable center still hates him. It isn’t hard to see why once you understand the true mechanics of Washington.

 



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Your Beliefs Are No Longer Allowed


American progressives have fnally gone all the way to a totalitarian vision, demanding control over not just your behavior, but your thoughts and beliefs. This as the price of simply living without being attacked. 

And hats off to Erick Erickson for naming it first. The former RedState honcho and Never-Trumper called it right, and no, I’m not talking about his near-demonic hatred of President Trump.

Last year, Erickson released a book with a title he popularized: You Will Be Made to Care: The War on Faith, Family, and Your Freedom to Believe. The book is a summation of an argument Erickson has long made. As the sexual left makes progress on its biggest projects — same-sex marriage, transgenderism acceptance, pronoun wordplay — they are increasingly unwilling to brook resistance.

Do you believe in traditional marriage but don’t care that gays marry? Think it’s OK teenagers take hormonal injections to swap genders but it’s not right for your kids? Don’t really give a hoot about someone who identifies as “xe”?

Well, too bad, sucker. The new dispensation doesn’t care for your waffling. Going forward, your private beliefs must align with your public stance. No exceptions made or allowed.

In short: You will be made to care

Erickson’s warning was just vindicated in a tweetstorm by Zack Ford, the flamboyant correspondent for the liberal blog ThinkProgress.

Ford, who is prone to pique-filled tantrums, is the site’s LGBTQ editor. His beat consists of sniffing out any hint of pro-heterosexual bias and lambasting it as bigoted, backwards, and tyrannical. He’s a proud atheist who doesn’t hesitate to cite science when it’s convenient. But, nota bene, he believes men menstruate and become pregnant.

In response to an essay by Bethany Mandel in The Federalist, Ford had a bigger meltdown than Sex in the City fans when Mr. Big dumped Carrie at the altar. In her piece, Mandel admitted to once being a supporter of gay marriage, but the liberals’ Torquemada-inspired campaign for transgenderism inclusion among children has changed her mind. Feeling hoodwinked, Mandel pointedly wrote, “The Left has shown the totalitarian manner in which it exacts support, or at least silence, from everyday Americans.”

Ford wasn’t having any of it, no siree. Even though Mandel was an “ally” during the fight for same-sex marriage, her opinion that grates upon the “Approved Position” on transgenderism is hereby invalid. “What [Mandel] argues that [sic] she should be ALLOWED to believe what she believes, even though those odious beliefs harm others,” Ford tweeted. “Indeed,” our hysterical scribe continued, “she is a quintessential example of claiming free speech to justify her bigotry.”

Then came the kicker: “You’ll be ‘made to care,’ because intolerance harms people and is unjustified and the rest of us want the world to be a better place.”

Ford tweeted this outburst without a hint of self-awareness or irony. Yes, Mandel also cited the famed Erickson phrase in her criticism. But that a prominent liberal writer actually evoked it, giving full approval to its thought police connotations, is quite stunning.

Lenin, eat your heart out.

It just goes to show that well-meaning conservatives who were willing to concede the culture war in the hopes the Left would cease marching forward were hopelessly wrong. Waving the white flag was never going to be a suitable compromise. Liberals aren’t satisfied with open-ended sexual rights; they want the complete eradication of bourgeois convention.

How did we get to the point where 8-year-old cross-dressers are celebrated as norms-smashing pioneers and not odd (and mentally ill) quirks?

Like his campus-tied intellectual colleagues, Ford is guilty of what Jonathan Haidt calls “concept creep.” In a recent interview with spiked, Haidt described how the psychological term has become the Excalibur of social justice warriors: “When a word like ‘violence’ is allowed to creep so that it includes a lot of things that are not violence, then this causes a cascade of bad effects.”

For decades, university intellectuals have stretched the terms “oppression” and “violence” like rubber bands, trying to fit them over more gentle concepts like “disagreement” and “dialogue.” The slow creep eventually worked; hundreds of thousands of students graduate college every year believing words truly constitute aggression.

Ford completely buys into the notion that a person’s private belief represents “harm” to others. Worse, in strict Manichean terms, he positions himself as someone who wants “the world to be a better place,” and Mandel, accordingly, as someone who pushes death and destruction.

The terms of war can’t be any clearer. For traditionalists, being left alone to think, worship, gather, and evangelize in private is not an option. The logic of the Left doesn’t allow for empty spaces. If there is one corner of the brain that still holds fast to outlandish beliefs like marriage was made for man and woman, your chromosomes determine your gender, race is a biological reality, or countries have the right to determine enforce their borders, then it must be reprogrammed or wiped out.

Just ask Tim Farron, the former leader of the Liberal Democrats party in Britain. A long-time supporter of same-sex marriage, once it was discovered he was a closeted Christian, the press wouldn’t relent. Journalists were dying to know if Farron thought gay sex — sodomy, in Dantean terms — was a sin. Farron begged for his own private conscience, but it was to no avail. He was forced to resign from his position last month, saying it was impossible to be a faithful Christian and a politician of prominence.

And so another trophy for undaunted Left. In the liberal view, a society isn’t free until the last breadcrumbs of bigotry are swept away. A sincere leftist accepts no moderation.

When they’re as candid as Zack Ford, at least faithful conservatives know where we stand: blindfolded, on the firing line.

American progressives have fnally gone all the way to a totalitarian vision, demanding control over not just your behavior, but your thoughts and beliefs. This as the price of simply living without being attacked. 

And hats off to Erick Erickson for naming it first. The former RedState honcho and Never-Trumper called it right, and no, I’m not talking about his near-demonic hatred of President Trump.

Last year, Erickson released a book with a title he popularized: You Will Be Made to Care: The War on Faith, Family, and Your Freedom to Believe. The book is a summation of an argument Erickson has long made. As the sexual left makes progress on its biggest projects — same-sex marriage, transgenderism acceptance, pronoun wordplay — they are increasingly unwilling to brook resistance.

Do you believe in traditional marriage but don’t care that gays marry? Think it’s OK teenagers take hormonal injections to swap genders but it’s not right for your kids? Don’t really give a hoot about someone who identifies as “xe”?

Well, too bad, sucker. The new dispensation doesn’t care for your waffling. Going forward, your private beliefs must align with your public stance. No exceptions made or allowed.

In short: You will be made to care

Erickson’s warning was just vindicated in a tweetstorm by Zack Ford, the flamboyant correspondent for the liberal blog ThinkProgress.

Ford, who is prone to pique-filled tantrums, is the site’s LGBTQ editor. His beat consists of sniffing out any hint of pro-heterosexual bias and lambasting it as bigoted, backwards, and tyrannical. He’s a proud atheist who doesn’t hesitate to cite science when it’s convenient. But, nota bene, he believes men menstruate and become pregnant.

In response to an essay by Bethany Mandel in The Federalist, Ford had a bigger meltdown than Sex in the City fans when Mr. Big dumped Carrie at the altar. In her piece, Mandel admitted to once being a supporter of gay marriage, but the liberals’ Torquemada-inspired campaign for transgenderism inclusion among children has changed her mind. Feeling hoodwinked, Mandel pointedly wrote, “The Left has shown the totalitarian manner in which it exacts support, or at least silence, from everyday Americans.”

Ford wasn’t having any of it, no siree. Even though Mandel was an “ally” during the fight for same-sex marriage, her opinion that grates upon the “Approved Position” on transgenderism is hereby invalid. “What [Mandel] argues that [sic] she should be ALLOWED to believe what she believes, even though those odious beliefs harm others,” Ford tweeted. “Indeed,” our hysterical scribe continued, “she is a quintessential example of claiming free speech to justify her bigotry.”

Then came the kicker: “You’ll be ‘made to care,’ because intolerance harms people and is unjustified and the rest of us want the world to be a better place.”

Ford tweeted this outburst without a hint of self-awareness or irony. Yes, Mandel also cited the famed Erickson phrase in her criticism. But that a prominent liberal writer actually evoked it, giving full approval to its thought police connotations, is quite stunning.

Lenin, eat your heart out.

It just goes to show that well-meaning conservatives who were willing to concede the culture war in the hopes the Left would cease marching forward were hopelessly wrong. Waving the white flag was never going to be a suitable compromise. Liberals aren’t satisfied with open-ended sexual rights; they want the complete eradication of bourgeois convention.

How did we get to the point where 8-year-old cross-dressers are celebrated as norms-smashing pioneers and not odd (and mentally ill) quirks?

Like his campus-tied intellectual colleagues, Ford is guilty of what Jonathan Haidt calls “concept creep.” In a recent interview with spiked, Haidt described how the psychological term has become the Excalibur of social justice warriors: “When a word like ‘violence’ is allowed to creep so that it includes a lot of things that are not violence, then this causes a cascade of bad effects.”

For decades, university intellectuals have stretched the terms “oppression” and “violence” like rubber bands, trying to fit them over more gentle concepts like “disagreement” and “dialogue.” The slow creep eventually worked; hundreds of thousands of students graduate college every year believing words truly constitute aggression.

Ford completely buys into the notion that a person’s private belief represents “harm” to others. Worse, in strict Manichean terms, he positions himself as someone who wants “the world to be a better place,” and Mandel, accordingly, as someone who pushes death and destruction.

The terms of war can’t be any clearer. For traditionalists, being left alone to think, worship, gather, and evangelize in private is not an option. The logic of the Left doesn’t allow for empty spaces. If there is one corner of the brain that still holds fast to outlandish beliefs like marriage was made for man and woman, your chromosomes determine your gender, race is a biological reality, or countries have the right to determine enforce their borders, then it must be reprogrammed or wiped out.

Just ask Tim Farron, the former leader of the Liberal Democrats party in Britain. A long-time supporter of same-sex marriage, once it was discovered he was a closeted Christian, the press wouldn’t relent. Journalists were dying to know if Farron thought gay sex — sodomy, in Dantean terms — was a sin. Farron begged for his own private conscience, but it was to no avail. He was forced to resign from his position last month, saying it was impossible to be a faithful Christian and a politician of prominence.

And so another trophy for undaunted Left. In the liberal view, a society isn’t free until the last breadcrumbs of bigotry are swept away. A sincere leftist accepts no moderation.

When they’re as candid as Zack Ford, at least faithful conservatives know where we stand: blindfolded, on the firing line.



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