Monday, December 31, 2018

Francisco Cantú, The Line Becomes a River

A report from the front lines of the illegal immigration wars.

At Amazon, Francisco Cantú, The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border.

Yana Vozharovskaya

At Drunken Stepfather, "Yana Vozharovskaya Bikini of the Day."

And at Luv Celebs:

The Montavilla Initiative

I'm a bleeding heart on homelessness, mostly because the leftist media gets the story all wrong, all the time. As noted previously, the bulk of O.C. homeless have been regular white working-class folks, busted down after the 2008 crash. It's not all Latinos and other minorities. Go to Anaheim and see for yourself.

In any case, at the Los Angeles Times, "Neighborhood advocates or vigilantes? A group in Portland makes life tougher for the homeless" (via Hot Air):
The Montavilla neighborhood is a place just about anybody might want to live in.

It has an “almost suburban” feel, a city website notes, but it’s near downtown Portland, with a population that’s more diverse than the city as a whole. Homes range from pricey modern to modest bungalow; businesses of every stripe do a bustling trade.

Last year Montavilla made Lonely Planet’s list of the 10 best U.S. neighborhoods.

It also broke apart over homelessness and rising crime.

Like many American cities, Portland struggles with homelessness. What’s the solution to getting people off the streets? What’s the right balance between compassion and safety? Why does the world’s richest country have so many people living in tents?

Last month, Portland-area voters funded $653 million for affordable housing, on top of $258 million in 2016. These are major investments for a city its size. But relief may be years away.

In Montavilla, the debate over homelessness has taken on an edge in the last two years as a neighborhood patrol has marched up to the line of vigilantism — and, some say, crossed it. Experts say similar groups have sprung up in other cities, including Long Beach and the west San Fernando Valley, as a conservative, tough-love response to the problem.

In June 2017, the Montavilla Neighborhood Assn. passed a resolution asking the city to “cease further sweeps of [homeless] camps,” which could be “unconstitutional and human rights violations.”

That fall, a new board of directors was voted in that included Micah Fletcher, a survivor of last year’s infamous stabbings by a white supremacist on a light rail train. Around the same time, however, a new conservative nonprofit, Montavilla Initiative, formed as an alternative. Battle lines hardened.

Montavilla Initiative began doing its own foot patrols; the city-partnered neighborhood association stopped doing them.

Interactions between citizen patrol groups led by Montavilla Initiative and the area’s homeless are now at the center of the neighborhood’s divide. On the one hand, local officials and homeless advocates accuse Montavilla Initiative of harassing vulnerable homeless people. On the other, leaders of the nonprofit say homeless encampments foster crime, and they’re just trying to make the neighborhood safer.

Multnomah County official Kim Toevs said Montavilla Initiative members harassed people who use the county’s largest needle exchange site, part of a program that has operated for 22 years in the neighborhood. It offers addiction counseling, exchanges millions of syringes annually, and gives out naloxone, proven to save lives by halting overdoses.

The county had to hire extra security after seven visits by the group, officials said.

“What we see here, about [their] behavior, harassing our clients, and making them feel stalked and scared, is hateful action,” Toevs said.

Ibrahim Mubarak, executive director of a homeless advocacy group, Right 2 Survive, said Montavilla Initiative members are “running havoc on houseless people,” slashing their tents, throwing cold water on them, following them around. “They’re all about getting [homeless] people out of the neighborhood,” he said.

Mubarak later acknowledged, however, that he had not witnessed the incidents himself, and had no proof that they were committed by Montavilla Initiative. “This is happening in the neighborhood to those people, but we don’t know for sure that it’s Montavilla Initiative,” he said.

Of 15 homeless people interviewed for this article, many said they’re aware of what they call the “neighborhood watchers.” One voiced support, but most said they were afraid of them. They don’t seem to differentiate between the new, Montavilla Initiative patrols and the ones the neighborhood association used to do...

Buh-Bye 2018 LOL!

From Roger Simon, at Pajamas, "Bye-bye, 2018 —The Year of Living Hatefully":

In 1982 Peter Weir and Mel Gibson made a film adapted from a 1978 Christopher Koch novel, The Year of Living Dangerously, about an attempted coup in Indonesia in 1965.

While it isn't clear yet whether we had an attempted coup in the USA in 2018 (or earlier), we did have a year in which people despised each other seemingly as never before in our country -- sometimes with reason but quite often not.

2018 was The Year of Living Hatefully -- one of them anyway.

Practically no one was happy. Or if they were, they didn't show it. All they wanted to do was vilify the opposition or even their neighbors.

Democrats hating Republicans (see the new movie "Vice") and vice versa were just the tip of a rancid iceberg. Never Trumpers hate Trumpers and the reverse, Sanders supporters hate Beto supporters, Antifa hate the bourgeoisie, the Proud Boys hate Antifa, FOX hates CNN and MSNBC hates FOX...It goes on and on. Families and friends split from each other. People shut up at work for fear they'll be fired. Thanksgiving is a festival of hostility, Christmas (when we're allowed to speak its name) is only slightly better.

Twitter has become axis mundi for hurling vicious insults at people you never met, or don't even know, while our college campuses -- suffused with reactionary "intersectionality"  -- have become ground zero for the promotion of competitive victimhood, another perfect excuse to hate the other without knowing him or her or "zhe."

That all this is happening in a country awash in affluence, also as almost never before, with close to full employment for all ethnic and racial groups, even some salaries rising after decades, is the cliché about not being able to stand prosperity on steroids. The way we are going utopia would be Hell.

So what's behind all this?

Before all Democrats scream Donald Trump and all Republicans shout The Media, allow me to remind everyone this has been going on for a long time. Calling 2018 The Year of Living Hatefully (or, perhaps more accurately, living in or through hate) is but the culmination of a trend that has been going on for many years.

There is and has been an emptiness in American society and I am going to suggest a cause I never thought I would, not because it is unique to me -- it hardly is -- but because I have, until relatively recently, been a rather typical agnostic of my generation.

It is the absence of God, augmented by the ongoing secularization of our culture largely perpetrated by that same generation (mine). We now almost have in America what the French call laïcité. It doesn't work there (they hate each other more than we do) and it won't here.

And before you go after to me to remind me that church- and synagogue-going people can be just as bad as everybody else, I will say, "Yes, of course," then continue on to say that the majority of believing religious people, especially in the Judeo-Christian tradition (I don't know the others well enough to comment), tend not to live lives as dominated by hate.

They are the people we see in the old Hollywood movies that we like to watch over the holidays. They are Americans from an era that may never have existed but may actually have more than we realize. (Excuse the Zen-ish  deliberate contradiction.) It's Jimmy Stewart in "It's a Wonderful Life" or "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington." You can bet he went to church. Why can't we be like that now?

As for whether 2019 will be any better in this regard -- most likely not...
Still more.

'So we have Andy Cohen, gleefully smiling as he grips his phallic-symbol bottle of popping champagne...'

My mom had CNN on when I was visiting over there yesterday. I saw all the previews for AC360's New Year's Eve gig with Andy Cohen, and I can barely recall who Andy Cohen is. I know Kathy Griffin is out, and no love lost there, dang! But Andy Cohen?

Ann Althouse has never heard of him. See, "Speaking of white men not 'reflecting the gender and racial diversity' we've come to expect in liberal America — see previous post — look at what just came in the email from CNN?"

I'm going over to my mom's for New Year's Eve dinner. I don't think I'll be be ringing in 2019, though. Either way, no Andy and Anderson for me. Pfft. (*Eye roll.*)

The Coming Age of Post-Truth Geopolitics

At Foreign Affairs, "Deepfakes and the New Disinformation War":

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but there is nothing that persuades quite like an audio or video recording of an event. At a time when partisans can barely agree on facts, such persuasiveness might seem as if it could bring a welcome clarity. Audio and video recordings allow people to become firsthand witnesses of an event, sparing them the need to decide whether to trust someone else’s account of it. And thanks to smartphones, which make it easy to capture audio and video content, and social media platforms, which allow that content to be shared and consumed, people today can rely on their own eyes and ears to an unprecedented degree.

Therein lies a great danger. Imagine a video depicting the Israeli prime minister in private conversation with a colleague, seemingly revealing a plan to carry out a series of political assassinations in Tehran. Or an audio clip of Iranian officials planning a covert operation to kill Sunni leaders in a particular province of Iraq. Or a video showing an American general in Afghanistan burning a Koran. In a world already primed for violence, such recordings would have a powerful potential for incitement. Now imagine that these recordings could be faked using tools available to almost anyone with a laptop and access to the Internet—and that the resulting fakes are so convincing that they are impossible to distinguish from the real thing.

Advances in digital technology could soon make this nightmare a reality. Thanks to the rise of “deepfakes”—highly realistic and difficult-to-detect digital manipulations of audio or video—it is becoming easier than ever to portray someone saying or doing something he or she never said or did. Worse, the means to create deepfakes are likely to proliferate quickly, producing an ever-widening circle of actors capable of deploying them for political purposes. Disinformation is an ancient art, of course, and one with a renewed relevance today. But as deepfake technology develops and spreads, the current disinformation wars may soon look like the propaganda equivalent of the era of swords and shields.


Deepfakes are the product of recent advances in a form of artificial intelligence known as “deep learning,” in which sets of algorithms called “neural networks” learn to infer rules and replicate patterns by sifting through large data sets. (Google, for instance, has used this technique to develop powerful image-classification algorithms for its search engine.) Deepfakes emerge from a specific type of deep learning in which pairs of algorithms are pitted against each other in “generative adversarial networks,” or GANS. In a GAN, one algorithm, the “generator,” creates content modeled on source data (for instance, making artificial images of cats from a database of real cat pictures), while a second algorithm, the “discriminator,” tries to spot the artificial content (pick out the fake cat images). Since each algorithm is constantly training against the other, such pairings can lead to rapid improvement, allowing GANS to produce highly realistic yet fake audio and video content.

This technology has the potential to proliferate widely. Commercial and even free deepfake services have already appeared in the open market, and versions with alarmingly few safeguards are likely to emerge on the black market. The spread of these services will lower the barriers to entry, meaning that soon, the only practical constraint on one’s ability to produce a deepfake will be access to training materials—that is, audio and video of the person to be modeled—to feed the GAN. The capacity to create professional-grade forgeries will come within reach of nearly anyone with sufficient interest and the knowledge of where to go for help.

Deepfakes have a number of worthy applications. Modified audio or video of a historical figure, for example, could be created for the purpose of educating children. One company even claims that it can use the technology to restore speech to individuals who have lost their voice to disease. But deepfakes can and will be used for darker purposes, as well. Users have already employed deepfake technology to insert people’s faces into pornography without their consent or knowledge, and the growing ease of making fake audio and video content will create ample opportunities for blackmail, intimidation, and sabotage. The most frightening applications of deepfake technology, however, may well be in the realms of politics and international affairs. There, deepfakes may be used to create unusually effective lies capable of inciting violence, discrediting leaders and institutions, or even tipping elections.

Deepfakes have the potential to be especially destructive because they are arriving at a time when it already is becoming harder to separate fact from fiction. For much of the twentieth century, magazines, newspapers, and television broadcasters managed the flow of information to the public. Journalists established rigorous professional standards to control the quality of news, and the relatively small number of mass media outlets meant that only a limited number of individuals and organizations could distribute information widely. Over the last decade, however, more and more people have begun to get their information from social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, which depend on a vast array of users to generate relatively unfiltered content. Users tend to curate their experiences so that they mostly encounter perspectives they already agree with (a tendency heightened by the platforms’ algorithms), turning their social media feeds into echo chambers. These platforms are also susceptible to so-called information cascades, whereby people pass along information shared by others without bothering to check if it is true, making it appear more credible in the process. The end result is that falsehoods can spread faster than ever before.

These dynamics will make social media fertile ground for circulating deepfakes, with potentially explosive implications for politics. Russia’s attempt to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election—spreading divisive and politically inflammatory messages on Facebook and Twitter—already demonstrated how easily disinformation can be injected into the social media bloodstream. The deepfakes of tomorrow will be more vivid and realistic and thus more shareable than the fake news of 2016. And because people are especially prone to sharing negative and novel information, the more salacious the deepfakes, the better...
Keep reading.

Alexis Ren Luisda (VIDEO)

More of Ms. Alexis, the freakin' hottie.

How My Brooklyn Literary Friendships Fell Apart in the Age of Trump

This is an excellent read.

At Quillette, "Confessions of a ‘Soulless Troglodyte’: How My Brooklyn Literary Friendships Fell Apart in the Age of Trump."

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Bre Payton Has Died

She was just 26 and deeply loved by many, many people.

She came down with the H1N1 flu and never recovered. It's stunning really.

At the Federalist, via Memeorandum, "Bre Payton, Beloved Staff Writer At The Federalist, Has Passed Away."

Also, "Friends, Colleagues Share Memories Of Bre Payton, Prayers For Her Family."

What Happened to California's 'Bustling' Recreational Marijuana Market?

Hey, don't blame me --- I voted against this stupid legalization plan.

At LAT, "One year of legal pot sales and California doesn’t have the bustling industry it expected. Here’s why":

When Californians voted in 2016 to allow the sale of recreational marijuana, advocates of the move envisioned thousands of pot shops and cannabis farms obtaining state licenses, making the drug easily available to all adults within a short drive.

But as the first year of licensed sales comes to a close, California’s legal market hasn’t performed as state officials and the cannabis industry had hoped. Retailers and growers say they’ve been stunted by complex regulations, high taxes and decisions by most cities to ban cannabis shops. At the same time, many residents are going to city halls and courts to fight pot businesses they see as nuisances, and police chiefs are raising concerns about crime triggered by the marijuana trade.

the numerous challenges when he takes office in January as legislators hope to send him a raft of bills next year to provide banking for the pot industry, ease the tax burden on retailers and crack down on sales to minors.

“The cannabis industry is being choked by California’s penchant for over-regulation,” said Dale Gieringer, director of California NORML, a pro-legalization group. “It’s impossible to solve all of the problems without a drastic rewrite of the law, which is not in the cards for the foreseeable future.”

After voters legalized marijuana two years ago under Proposition 64, state officials estimated in there would be as many as 6,000 cannabis shops licensed in the first few years. But the state Bureau of Cannabis Control has issued just 547 temporary and annual licenses to marijuana retail stores and dispensaries. Some 1,790 stores and dispensaries were paying taxes on medicinal pot sales before licenses were required starting Jan. 1.

State officials also predicted that legal cannabis would eventually bring in up to $1 billion in revenue a year. But with many cities banning pot sales, tax revenue is falling far short of estimates. Based on taxes collected since Jan. 1, the state is expected to bring in $471 million in revenue this fiscal year — much less than the $630 million projected in Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget.

“I think we all wish we could license more businesses, but our system is based on dual licensing and local control,” said Alex Traverso, a spokesman for the state Bureau of Cannabis Control, referring to the requirement that cannabis businesses get permission from the state and the city in which they want to operate.

Less than 20% of cities in California — 89 of 482 — allow retail shops to sell cannabis for recreational use, according to the California Cannabis Industry Assn. Cities that allow cannabis sales include Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco and San Diego.

Eighty-two of Los Angeles County’s 88 cities prohibit retail sales of recreational marijuana, according to Alexa Halloran, an attorney specializing in cannabis law for the firm Solomon, Saltsman & Jamieson. Pot shops are not allowed in cities including Burbank, Manhattan Beach, Alhambra, Beverly Hills, Inglewood, Compton, Redondo Beach, El Monte, Rancho Palos Verdes and Calabasas.

“While some cities have jumped in headfirst, we've taken a deliberate approach,” said Manhattan Beach Mayor Steve Napolitano, “to see how things shake out elsewhere before further consideration. I think that's proven to be the smart approach.”

Voters have also been reluctant to allow cannabis stores in their communities.

Of the 64 California cities and counties that voted on cannabis ballot measures in the November midterm election, eight banned the sale of cannabis or turned down taxation measures, seven allowed sales and 49 approved taxes on pot businesses, said Hilary Bricken, an attorney who represents the industry. Among them, voters in Malibu approved pot shops while Simi Valley residents voted for an advisory measure against allowing retail sales.

Javier Montes, owner of Wilmington pot store Delta-9 THC, says he is struggling to compete with a large illicit market unburdened by the taxes he pays as a licensed business.

“Because we are up against high taxes and the proliferation of illegal shops, it is difficult right now,” Montes said. “We expected lines out of our doors, but unfortunately the underground market was already conducting commercial cannabis activity and are continuing to do so.”

Montes, who received his city and state licenses in January, says his business faces a 15% state excise tax, a 10% recreational marijuana tax by the city of Los Angeles and 9.5% in sales tax by the county and state — a markup of more than 34%.

He says there isn’t enough enforcement against illegal operators, and the hard times have caused him to cut the number of employees at his shop in half this year from 24 to 12.

“It’s very hard whenever I have to lay people off, because they are like a family to me,” said Montes, who is vice president of the United Cannabis Business Assn., which represents firms including the about 170 cannabis retailers licensed by the city of Los Angeles...
I mean, who could've foreseen the problems? (*Eye rolls.*)

Still more.

Alexis Ren No Tan Lines (VIDEO)

She's an amazingly hot chick.

At Sports Illustrated Swimsuit:

Teaching The Students We Have, Not the Students We Wish We Had

This is interesting. And I tell ya, there's a lot to that "students we wish we had" line, sheesh.

At the Tax Prof (via Instapundit):
Chronicle of Higher Education op-ed: Chronicle of Higher Education op-ed:  Teaching the Students We Have, Not the Students We Wish We Had, by Sara Goldrick-Rab (Temple University) & Jesse Stommel (University of Mary Washington):
Today’s college students are radically different from the students occupying college classrooms even a decade ago. The expansion of education that propelled widespread positive change through American communities in the 20th century has reached beyond high school, and more people than ever before understand the importance of postsecondary education in all its forms.

For broader participation to lead to positive outcomes — for example, the completion of degrees without huge debt burdens — students must have good experiences in the classroom. This is especially important yet incredibly difficult as the new economics of college are compromising the time, energy, and money that students and many of their professors have to spend on quality learning.

These are the core challenges of college today — and yet they are too often ignored. Instead, symptoms of those problems dominate air time, as the stereotype persists of "academically adrift" "snowflakes" "coddled" by their universities. Consider the recent essay by Nancy Bunge, "Students Evaluating Teachers Doesn’t Just Hurt Teachers. It Hurts Students," which takes on student evaluations. Bunge contends the "unearned arrogance encouraged by the heavy reliance on student evaluations helps produce passive, even contemptuous students who undermine the spirit of the class and lower its quality for everyone."

Her enemy appears to be sites like the often-lamented Rate My Professors, but her piece also attacks the students themselves, and reinforces a set of assertions largely drawn from one influential yet extremely narrow study, Academically Adrift, by Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa. The limited learning lamented by the authors is said to be linked to insufficiently challenging instructors, and according to Bunge those instructors are not demanding more of their students because they want to get good grades. She cites a Chronicle survey in which faculty members claim that students are "harder to teach" these days. The overall narrative suggests we should feel sorry for the faculty. If only they could have more-engaged students to teach...
Still more.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Mike Rose, Lives on the Boundary

I can related to this book.

At Amazon, Mike Rose, Lives on the Boundary: A Moving Account of the Struggles and Achievements of America's Educationally Underprepared.

Jessica Calarco, Negotiating Opportunities

At Amazon, Jessica Calarco, Negotiating Opportunities: How the Middle Class Secures Advantages in School.

Modern Parenting

My kids are 22 and 17, and we've been through this super-parenting phenomenon.

It's now more out of control than ever.

At NYT, a really interesting piece:

President Trump Makes Surprise Visit to Iraq to See American Troops

At Fox News:

Lefty journalists were salivating over their headlines blaring "Trump first president since 2002 not to visit troops over the holidays."

And it was in the works too:

Chloé Bechini

At Drunken Stepfather, "Chloe Bechini is a Nude Model for Boxing Day of the Day."

Jennifer Delacruz's Post-Christmas Midweek Forecast

It sure is nice. Calm and mild weather.

Perhaps the best thing remaining about California.

Here's the lovely Ms. Jennifer, for ABC News 10 San Diego:

Twitter Now Enforcing Pakistani Law

Following-up from the other day, "Twitter is Losing Me."

Christina Laila was warned as well. She writes for Gateway Pundit. See, "Twitter Legal Warns TGP's Cristina Laila - Her 'Burka Tweet' Violates "Pakistan's Blasphemy Laws" - Which Are Punishable by Prison or Death."

And see Robert Spencer, at FrontPage Magazine, "TWITTER NOW ENFORCING PAKISTANI LAW: The social media giants are all Sharia-compliant now":
Remember when Barack Obama took control of the Internet away from the United States and gave it to an international organization, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)? Conservatives warned then that giving control of the primary means of communication to an international body could threaten the freedom of speech, and they were derided as hysterical. But now they’ve been proven correct: the social media giants are all Sharia-compliant.

FrontPage editor Jamie Glazov got the notice Saturday morning:

---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: Twitter Legal
Date: Sat, Dec 22, 2018 at 7:27 AM
Subject: Twitter Receipt of Correspondence
To: @JamieGlazov


We are writing to inform you that Twitter has received official correspondence regarding your Twitter account, @JamieGlazov.

The correspondence claims that the following content is in violation of Pakistan law:Section 37 of PECA-2016, Section 295 B and Section 295 C of the Pakistan penal code

Twitter has not taken any action on the reported content at this time. We are only writing to inform you that content posted to your account has been mentioned in a complaint.

This notice is not legal advice. You may wish to consult legal counsel about this matter. If you believe we have contacted you in error, please let us know by replying to this email.

For more general information on legal requests, please refer to the following Help Center article:


Click on the Twitter link, and you’ll see that the tweet in question is an advertisement for Jamie’s new book, Jihadist Psychopath. In Pakistan, jihadists aren’t psychopaths, they’re heroes.

Note also that Pakistan is accusing Glazov of being in violation of sections 295B and 295C of its penal code. Section 295B criminalizes “defiling the Holy Quran,” and carries a penalty of life imprisonment. 295C mandates that those who “by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation, or by any imputation innuendo, or insinuation, directly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life and shall also be liable for fine.” Yes, death and a fine.

Glazov is not alone in this. Pamela Geller received a notice from Twitter that she was in violation of Pakistani law for a tweet that noted correctly that Al Arabiya had criticized Linda Sarsour as a Muslim Brotherhood operative. Ensaf Haidar, the wife of Raif Badawi, who has been languishing for years in a Saudi prison for “insulting Islam,” got the notice for a tweet criticizing the niqab. Twitter has also notified Canadian columnist Anthony Furey and reformist imam Mohammed Tawhidi that they have violated Pakistani law.

 I haven’t. It makes me wonder what I have to do to offend the Pakistani government.

Meanwhile, “a new Android app,” according to Laura Loomer at Big League Politics, “has launched with the focus of allowing Muslims to report individuals who commit blasphemy, or insult Islam.” Now, if you’re a pious Muslim, if you see something, you can say something, and make sure that those who dare to criticize the Left’s favored religion will henceforth be able to say nothing.

Big League Politics explains that “the app, ‘Smart Pakem’, which launched in Indonesia last month at the request of the Indonesian government, will allow users and government officials to uphold Sharia law and target and report people who hold ‘misguided’ beliefs in violation of Islamic law, which forbids insults of Islam, insults against the Prophet Mohammed, or the recognition of any other religion besides Islam.”

Google has been leading the way on social media Sharia-compliance for quite some time. Anwar Awlaki’s al-Qaeda recruitment lectures were offered in Google Play store app. And in 2017, Texas imam Omar Suleiman made a successful effort to compel Google to drop search results about Islam-related terms and topics that reflected negatively upon Islam. The jihad against the freedom of speech is advancing rapidly, and most people don’t even know it’s happening. Turkey’s Anadolu Agency reported that “Google’s first page results for searches of terms such as ‘jihad’, ‘shariah’ and ‘taqiyya’ now return mostly reputable explanations of the Islamic concepts. Taqiyya, which describes the circumstances under which a Muslim can conceal their belief in the face of persecution, is the sole term to feature a questionable website on the first page of results.”

“Reputable” according to whom? “Questionable” according to whom? Why, Omar Suleiman, of course. Google execs swallowed uncritically everything he said, and dutifully buried all search results remotely critical of Islam, including ones that were demonstrably accurate in what they said.

Facebook is on the Sharia train, too. Facebook’s Vice President Joel Kaplan traveled to Pakistan in July 2017 to assure the Pakistani government that it would remove “anti-Islam” material. And Facebook has done so assiduously, banning numerous foes of jihad terror and twice now blocking the Jihad Watch Facebook page on spurious technical grounds.

And now Twitter is actually informing free Americans that they face life imprisonment or death for violating Islamic blasphemy laws. This is the legacy of Barack Hussein Obama.

Deportation Threat Shows Vietnamese Age Divide in Orange County

At LAT, "Among Vietnamese, a generational divide arises in fight against deportation threat":
In his 85 years, Lan Hoang has many times seen and heard about the power of communism to stir passions on the streets of Little Saigon.

There was the time a video store owner displayed the flag of communist Vietnam and an image of Ho Chi Minh, causing thousands of angry residents to protest. Ten years ago, hundreds of people hoisting signs gathered outside a Westminster newspaper that published a photo of a foot spa bearing the colors and stripes of the anti-communist South Vietnamese flag, calling it a desecration.

But when Hoang turned up to a protest in the neighborhood against the Trump administration’s recent threats to deport Vietnamese immigrants with criminal convictions back to their homeland, he was surprised by the apparently tepid response by older immigrants. Usually the most fervently anti-communist, only a handful showed up.

“Everyone was shouting and I looked around, wondering, ‘Where are the people my age?’ ” said the retired records clerk from Santa Ana, who said he was shocked by the White House’s move. “It’s so inspiring to see the youth taking action. They are well-educated, well-organized. I only wish that the others who have been visible for many years were here to support them.”

After word spread about a renewed push by the Department of Homeland Security to get Vietnam to accept more deportees, some people saw it as a mistake by the Trump administration given the GOP’s fading strength in Orange County and the historical support that the Republican Party has gotten from Vietnamese Americans.

But in a community where many older residents oppose undocumented immigration and younger ones tend to lean left politically, the controversy is just the latest to underscore the generational divide among those of Vietnamese descent.

“So many of our lives are in limbo. And do we get any support from our own community? Very little if you’re talking about the elders. What happened to all the voices speaking out for anti-communism? Why haven’t they mobilized?” said Tung Nguyen, 40, a Santa Ana activist who has served time in prison and helped lead protests in Little Saigon. “If they really care about human rights violations, well, violations are happening, not just in Vietnam but right here in our backyard.”

Earlier this month, Trump administration officials met with their counterparts from Hanoi to talk about a pact the two countries signed in 2008, under President George W. Bush, that protected the Vietnamese who came to the U.S. before July 12, 1995, from deportation.

More than 8,000 Vietnamese residents in the U.S. who escaped their homeland but later committed crimes — even minor ones for which they have served time — would be at risk of deportation if officials succeed in changing the agreement. Overall, since 1998, more than 9,000 Vietnamese immigrants have received a final order of removal, according to the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center.

Kim Bui, a 19-year-old sales clerk at an Anaheim snack shop, said members of her parents’ generation and older tend to be “no-shows” when the topic is immigration and deportations.

“I think these issues have a stigma to them. The older people are heavily Republican and they’re very focused on traditional values,” said Bui, who grew up in Orange County. “They are happy to talk about injustice in their homeland and they want to stay in that box, without making waves about U.S. politics.”

On social media and in the mainstream press, some young advocates for the emerging anti-deportation movement say they’ve long pushed for fairness and equality, and that Vietnamese Americans have shown up for other immigrant groups throughout U.S. history.

Still, within their own group, what’s missing is the “leadership of the older generation,” said Nguyen.

“We understand if they’re ashamed of some of us for our mistakes and our arrests,” he said, referring to immigrants with criminal records. “But do they need to punish our wives and children? Why would they not come out and fight for us so families can stay together? Why separate people who have paid the price for their bad choices or who will be exploited in Vietnam?”

Until last month, Nguyen was at risk for being deported to Vietnam. In 1996, he had been sentenced to life in prison for not intervening while one of his buddies stabbed a man to death. In 2011, Gov. Jerry Brown allowed him an early release, recognizing his bravery for saving dozens of civilians in a prison riot. Brown then gave Nguyen a full pardon this past Thanksgiving.

Last year, the Trump administration started pursuing the removal of a number of long-term residents from Vietnam and Cambodia, and to a lesser extent, Laotians, some of whom arrived in the United States decades ago as refugees, according to immigrant rights advocates and lawyers who have sued to halt the push. The administration maintains many have criminal records that subject them to deportation.

“It’s a priority of this administration to remove criminal aliens to their home country,” Katie Waldman, a spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security, told The Times.

The latest available numbers on removals by Immigration and Customs Enforcement paint a mixed picture. In fiscal 2016, which ended in September 2016 toward the end of the Obama administration, officials removed 35 Vietnamese people. In fiscal 2017, including the first nine months of the Trump administration, officials removed more than double that number: 71.

Removals of Cambodians and Laotians have been relatively minimal: In fiscal 2016, the agency removed 74 Cambodians; the next year, it removed only 29. The agency removed zero Laotians in fiscal 2016, and five the following year.

But critics see the moves as yet another example of how, far from the U.S.-Mexico border, in both rhetoric and action, the Trump administration is signaling that no immigrant, whatever their legal status, is safe...

Monday, December 24, 2018

Stocks Extend Fall Despite Mnuchin Bid to Reassure Investors

Markets closed early today for Christmas Eve, and the news isn't good.

A bruising stock selloff continued, erasing more than 350 points from the Dow Jones Industrial Average, as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin tried to instill calm into a jittery market.

Coming off the stock market's worst week since the 2008 financial crisis, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite fell for a fourth straight session Monday as investors continued to weigh the impact of rising interest rates, slowing U.S. growth, and the ramifications of a government shutdown extending into January.

With the selloff showing little signs of slowing, Mr. Mnuchin attempted to reassure investors, saying he had spoken individually with the chief executives of six large banks to ensure they had sufficient lending capacity.

But Mr. Mnuchin's public efforts to soothe investors may have had the opposite effect, analysts said, with banks stocks falling along with most other assets Monday.

"We've gone through situations before where it's absolutely normal for the secretary of Treasury to reach out to the private sector," said Quincy Krosby, a chief market strategist at Prudential Financial, who also served several stints in the government earlier in her career.

"But what's bad is this made the papers, and says the government is very worried," said Ms. Krosby, adding that with investors focused on so many issues, "it's almost as if gravity is pulling this market toward a lower level before it bottoms out."

Adding to the market's unease were reports over the weekend that President Trump, angry over monetary policy, has considered removing Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell -- a move that would stir even greater volatility and raise questions around political inference at the central bank, analysts said.

White House advisers, including Mr. Mnuchin, sought to ease those concerns as well, saying the president doesn't have the authority to remove Mr. Powell.

But Mr. Trump injected his own view on the matter on Monday, taking to Twitter to call out the Fed as being the economy's "only problem," likening the central bank to a "powerful golfer who can't score because he has no touch."

The Dow, which had been trading off its lows of the session before the tweet, moved lower in recent trading.

Thin trading volumes aren't helping matters, analysts added, and can contribute to bigger-than-normal price swings. Trading desks are usually lightly staffed in the final week of the year, with the market open half of the day on Christmas Eve and closed for all of Christmas.

The Dow Industrials fell 426 points, or 1.9%, to 22018 in recent trading, while the S&P 500 slipped 1.5%.

The Nasdaq Composite also fell, shedding 0.7%, after closing more than 20% below its recent high to enter bear-market territory on Friday.

All 11 major S&P 500 sectors were trading lower, from riskier assets such as shares of fast-growing technology companies to the market's safer corners, like dividend-paying utilities.

The ongoing fall in oil prices also hurt stocks Monday. Crude oil prices slumped more than 1% to $45 a barrel, extending the commodity's decline in recent months. Simultaneously, shares of energy companies fell 1.6%.

Stocks in Europe also fell, with the Stoxx Europe 600 declining 0.4%.

Some investors remain bullish about growth in the U.S. continuing next year, pointing to positive economic data, even though the Fed ignored Mr. Trump's calls for easy monetary policy and raised rates last week...
And at WaPo, via Memeorandum, "Treasury secretary startles Wall Street with unusual pre-Christmas calls to top bank CEOs."

How America Fractured in 1968

At the New York Times, "50 Years Later, It Feels Familiar: How America Fractured in 1968":

It was freezing on New Year’s Eve in Manhattan.

A fresh layer of snow blanketed the ground on the night of Dec. 31, 1967, and revelers in Times Square and Central Park seemed to look to the future with some hope. “World Bids Adieu to a Violent Year” was the Jan. 1 headline in The New York Times.

But 1968 would be tumultuous, too.

Even from the distance of a half-century, the moment feels familiar. From January to December, people demonstrated against racial injustice and economic inequality. Abroad, the United States military slogged through a seemingly interminable war. And after two terms with a Democrat in the White House, a Republican presidential candidate campaigned on a promise of law and order, and won.

It was the year between the Summer of Love and the summer of Woodstock, and some men grew their hair long while others were drafted to fight in Vietnam. “The country was bitterly divided: hawks and doves,” said Marc Leepson, an author, historian and Vietnam veteran.

It was also the year of the Tet offensive, an enormous attack by North Vietnamese forces, and of more than 16,000 American deaths in the Vietnam War, more than in any other year. Domestic support for the war effort faltered as antiwar protests exploded, most notably the riots at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, to which the police responded with tear gas. Demonstrators, journalists and even some delegates were beaten and arrested.

Mr. Leepson spent almost all of 1968 serving at a base near the coastal city of Qui Nhon, Vietnam, and he returned home that December to a country that seemed vastly different from the one he had left.

“The enormity of everything, individually and cumulatively, didn’t hit me until I was in my parents’ living room in Hillside, N.J., watching year-end roundups on the news,” he said in a phone interview. (He eventually joined Vietnam Veterans Against the War and grew his hair past his shoulders.)

While Mr. Leepson was overseas, a different sort of battle had been brewing in the United States. The civil rights movement had been underway for years, achieving landmark federal laws and Supreme Court decisions that struck down legalized segregation and discrimination.

But vast inequality persisted, and on April 4, the movement lost a leader: The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and killed in Memphis.

In the following days, protests and riots erupted in major cities across the country. Properties were destroyed, and dozens of people lost their lives.

“His death unleashed this feeling that we were suppressed,” Sharlene Sinegal-DeCuir, a civil rights historian and an assistant professor at Xavier University of Louisiana, said of Dr. King. “Minority groups in America felt that they could now release all that and show the majority: This is our pain, and we have been telling you this for years and years.”

That message seemed to fall on deaf ears, she added, and demonstrations calling for racial justice have never stopped. “Adults need to really have an open mind and listen to the younger generation, and to their grievances,” she said. “I think that was not done in 1968.”

Instead, political opinion seemed to swing the other way. It was a presidential election year, and in March, Lyndon B. Johnson, a Democrat, said he would not run for president again, adding that there was “division in the American house.”

As the year went on, candidates found that appeals to “law and order” were polling particularly well. Richard M. Nixon did it best, eking out a Republican victory in November against Hubert H. Humphrey, a Democrat. (George Wallace, a third-party candidate who supported segregation, won millions of votes and five states.)

That election brought the end of the Johnson administration and the so-called Warren Court — the period when the Supreme Court, under Chief Justice Earl Warren, presided over a series of liberal rulings, most notably the 1954 decision striking down segregation in public schools. (Earlier in 1968, Chief Justice Warren told Johnson that he would retire, wrongly hoping the president could appoint a replacement before the winner of the election, whom Chief Justice Warren thought might be Nixon, took office.)

“It’s just a tremendously important moment in Supreme Court history,” Mary L. Dudziak, an author, historian and professor of law at Emory University, said of 1968. “It’s the beginning of that turn away from this era of expansive liberalism.”

But the big-picture changes were hard to recognize at the time; all year, major events made headlines at a breakneck pace. In April, a gas leak caused a huge explosion in Richmond, Ind., killing dozens of people and destroying numerous buildings. In June, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, a presidential hopeful, was fatally shot at a campaign event in California. Abroad, France was shaken by widespread protests and general strikes. A brutal civil war was unfolding in Nigeria. Soviet troops invaded Czechoslovakia. And the death toll kept rising in Vietnam.

When 1968 came to a close, Time magazine highlighted some good news...
Still more.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Done with Disparate Impact Analysis

From the always outstanding Heather Mac Donald, at City Journal, "Back to Discipline":

A federal commission on school safety has repudiated the use of disparate-impact analysis in evaluating whether school discipline is racially biased. The Trump administration should go further, and extirpate such analysis from the entirety of the federal code of regulations, as well as from informal government practice.

Disparate-impact analysis holds that if a facially-neutral policy negatively affects blacks and Hispanics at a higher rate than whites and Asians, it is discriminatory. Noticing the behavioral differences that lead to those disparate effects is forbidden. In the area of school discipline, disparate-impact analysis results in the conclusion that racially neutral rules must nevertheless contain bias, since black students nationally are suspended at nearly three times the rate of white students. In 2014, the Obama administration relied on this methodology to announce that schools that suspended or expelled black students at higher rates than white students were violating anti-discrimination laws.

To understand how counterfactual such an analysis is, consider Duval County, Florida, which has Florida’s highest juvenile homicide rate. Seventy-three children, some as young as 11, have been arrested for murder and manslaughter over the last decade, according to the Florida Times-Union. Black juveniles made up 87.6 percent of those arrests and whites 8 percent. The black population in Duval County—which includes Jacksonville—was 28.9 percent in 2010 and the white population 56.6 percent, making black youngsters 21.6 times more likely to be arrested for homicide than white youngsters. Nationally, black males between the ages of 14 and 17 commit homicide at ten times the rate of white and Hispanic male teens combined; if Hispanics were removed from the equation, the black-white disparity would be much greater.

Beneath those homicide numbers is a larger juvenile crime wave. “The reason so many kids commit murder in Jacksonville is not because they are murderers, but because they are everything else: drug dealers, robbers, thieves, rapists and a bunch of other types of criminals whose crimes of choice has a great likelihood of leading to a murder,” a teen murder convict, Aaron Wright, told the Florida Times-Union. Fifty-nine percent of juvenile murder convicts from Duval County who responded to the paper’s inmate survey reported that they were committing another crime such as robbery or burglary when they or their co-defendant killed their victim. Wright himself was robbing a woman when his fellow robber shot and killed her, making Wright guilty of felony murder.

The same family dysfunction and lack of socialization that create this juvenile crime wave inevitably affects classroom behavior. Duval County Public Schools also have the highest number of violent campus incidents of any Florida school district. Nationwide, schools with the highest minority populations report the highest number of disciplinary infractions. Schools that are 50 percent minority or more experience weekly gang activity at nearly ten times the rate of schools where minorities constituted 5 percent to 20 percent of the population, according to the 2018 “Indicators of School Crime and Safety” report produced by the U.S. Justice and Education Departments. Gang violence in schools with less than 5 percent minority populations was too low to be usable statistically. Widespread weekly disorder in classrooms was reported in schools with at least 50 percent minority populations at more than five times the rate as in schools with 5 percent to 20 percent minorities. More than four times as many high-minority schools reported weekly verbal abuse of teachers compared with schools with a minority student body less than 20 percent. Widespread disorder and teacher abuse at schools with less than 5 percent minority populations was again too low to be statistically reliable.

The “School Crime and Safety” reports produced during the Obama years contained identical disparities. And yet the Obama administration held that the only possible reason why blacks are disciplined in school more than whites is teacher and administrator bias. Never mind that teaching is the most “woke” profession in the country after social work, with education schools frantically indoctrinating their students in white privilege and critical race theory.

And so school districts, threatened with a loss of federal funding if they didn’t reduce racial disparities in discipline, left disruptive students in the classroom rather than removing them...
Keep reading.

Twitter is Losing Me

In my inbox this morning, and my response. I don't know how much longer I'll be on this platform, but it won't be much longer if I continue to be embroiled in stupidity like this.

I'm shaking my head.

Click on the images to enlarge and read.

Liz Cheney on 'Face the Nation' (VIDEO)

I don't know about Ms. Liz's hairdo. It makes her look older. She's a good looking woman, and a hard-headed conservative. She's matronly now, wtf?

I guess it's good for her reelection efforts. House members run for reelection every two years, so you're never really off the campaign cycle.

With Margaret Brennan this morning:

Jennifer Delacruz's Eve of Christmas Eve Forecast

It's going to be in the mid- to upper-60s over the next few days, including Christmas Day. Could be some light showers.

I'll take it. I love California Christmas weather.

Here's the lovely Ms. Jennifer, for ABC News 10 San Diego:

Sarah Perry, Melmoth

At Amazon, Sarah Perry, Melmoth: A Novel.

Jonah Goldberg on Conservatism

I don't care for the never Trumpers. I do appreciate an intellectual argument, and Jonah Goldberg's an accomplished intellectual (IMHO).

This is a follow-up to my piece from earlier this week, "What's Become of Conservatism?"

Here's the "G-File" from Goldberg, at NRO, "Conservative Facts -- Many Toss Facts & Embrace Meanness":

There was always a yin-yang thing to conservatism. Its hard-headedness and philosophical realism about human nature and the limits it imposes on utopian schemes appealed to some and repulsed others. For those who see politics as a romantic enterprise, a means of pursuing collective salvation, conservatism seems mean-spirited. As Emerson put it: “There is always a certain meanness in the argument of conservatism, joined with a certain superiority in its fact.” That’s what Ben Shapiro is getting at when he says “Facts don’t care about your feelings.” The hitch is that the reverse is also true: Feelings don’t care about your facts. Tell a young progressive activist we can’t afford socialism and the response will be overtly or subliminally emotional: “Why don’t you care about poor people!” or “Why do you love billionaires!?”

The problem conservatism faces these days is that many of the loudest voices have decided to embrace the meanness while throwing away the facts. This has been a trend for a long time now. But Donald Trump has accelerated the problem to critical mass, yielding an explosion of stupid and a radioactive cloud of meanness.

It’s as if people have decided they should live down to Hillary Clinton’s “deplorable” epithet. More on that in a moment. But first, since I already wrote the section below, allow me a not-quite-brief, not entirely non-sequitorial aside about neoconservatism. Feel free to skip ahead to the screed at the end if you’re not interested in the eggheadery.

What Is Neoconservatism?

Well, it depends on whom you ask. But let’s work on some common definitions, or at least descriptions.

Here’s the opening paragraph of the Wikipedia page for neoconservatism:
Neoconservatism (commonly shortened to neocon when labelling its adherents) is a political movement born in the United States during the 1960s among liberal hawks who became disenchanted with the increasingly pacifist foreign policy of the Democratic Party, and the growing New Left and counterculture, in particular the Vietnam protests. Some also began to question their liberal beliefs regarding domestic policies such as the Great Society.
This isn’t terrible, but it gets the chronology and emphases somewhat wrong (the Encyclopedia of American Conservatism gets it right, btw). The first neocons were intellectual rebels against the Great Society and the leftward drift of American liberalism (The Public Interest, the first neocon journal, was launched in 1965. It was dedicated entirely to domestic affairs, not foreign policy). Unable to reconcile the facts with the feelings of liberalism, a host of intellectuals decided they would stick with the facts, even if it meant that former friends and allies would call them mean for doing so.

The socialist writer Michael Harrington is usually credited with coining the term in 1973 as a way to disparage former socialists who moved rightward, but people have found earlier mentions of the term (Norman Podhoretz, for instance, called Walter Lipmann and Clinton Rossiter “neoconservatives” in 1963. And Karl Marx(!) called Lord Beaconsfield a Neo Conservative in 1883). It’s certainly true that Harrington popularized the label. Harrington’s essay supports my larger point, though. The Harrington essay that cemented the term “neoconservatism” in American discourse was titled “The Welfare State and Its Neoconservative Critics.” In other words, the original neoconservative critique wasn’t about foreign policy, but domestic policy.

According to William F. Buckley, the neoconservatives brought the rigor and language of sociology to conservatism, which until then had been overly, or at least too uniformly, Aristotelian. The Buckleyites (though certainly not folks like Burnham) tended to talk from first principles and natural laws and rights. The neocons looked at the data and discovered that the numbers tended to back up a lot of the things the Aristotelians had been saying.

The original neocons’ gateway drug to conservatism was the law of unintended consequences. Once eager to tear up Chesterton’s fences wherever they saw them, they discovered that reforms often yielded worse results. As Francis Fukuyama wrote over a decade ago, “If there is a single overarching theme to the domestic social policy critiques carried out by those who wrote for The Public Interest, it is the limits of social engineering. Ambitious efforts to seek social justice, these writers argued, often left societies worse off than before because they either required massive state intervention that disrupted organic social relations; or else produced unanticipated consequences.”

Another understanding of neoconservatism is that it was a movement of ex-Communists who moved rightward. There’s a benign version of this story and a malignant one. The harmless version is basically descriptive. Irving Kristol, Seymour Martin Lipset, et al., were once briefly socialists or Trotskyists, and as they grew more disillusioned with such utopianism they moved rightward. The invidious version of this story, still common in some feverish and swampy corners of the Right, is that they never let go of their underlying Trotskyist tendencies and were some kind of fifth column on the right. This version has sizable overlap with anti-Semitic fantasies about neoconservatism. More on that in a minute.

Part of the problem with even the benign version of this story is that there are so many exceptions that the explanatory power bleeds away. For instance, Bill Kristol, the supposed Demon Head of neoconservatism these days, was never a Communist or any other flavor of leftist (and he still isn’t). Neither were John Podhoretz, William Bennett, Jean Kirkpatrick, James Q. Wilson, David Brooks, and many, many others often described as neoconservatives. Another problem: If being a Communist-turned-conservative makes you a neocon, then many of the founders of National Review were neocons too. Frank Meyer, Whittaker Chambers, Max Eastman, and James Burnham were all far more committed and accomplished Communists than Irving & Co. ever were. Eastman was one of Trotsky’s close friends and his English-language translator. Burnham co-founded the American Workers Party with Sidney Hook. Chambers was a Soviet agent.

The idea that neoconservatism was primarily about foreign policy, specifically anti-Communism, further complicates things. Part of this is a by-product of the second wave of neoconservatives who joined the movement and the right in the 1970s, mostly through the pages of Commentary. These were rebels against not the welfare state but détente on the right and the radical anti-anti-Communists of the New Left (National Review ran a headline in 1971 on the awakening at Commentary: “Come on In, the Water’s Fine.”) Many of those writers, most famously Jeane Kirkpatrick, ended up leading the intellectual shock troops of the Reagan administration. But, again, if vigorous anti-Communism and hawkish military policy in its pursuit that defines (or defined) neoconservatism, then how does that distinguish those neocons from National Review conservatism and the foreign policy of, say, Barry “Rollback, not Containment” Goldwater?

It is certainly true that the foreign-policy neocons emphasized certain things more than generic conservatives, specifically the promotion of democracy abroad. In ill-intentioned hands, this fact is often used as a cover for invidious arguments about the how the neocons never really shed their Trotskyism and were still determined to “export revolution.” But for the most part, it can’t be supported by what these people actually wrote. Moreover, the idea that only neocons care about promoting democracy simply glosses over everything from the stated purpose of the First World War, the Marshall Plan, stuff like JFK’s inaugural address (“Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty”), and this thing called the Reagan Doctrine.

And then there are the Joooooz. Outside of deranged comment sections and the swampy ecosystems of the “alt-right,” the sinister version of this theory is usually only hinted at or alluded to. Neocons only care about Israel is the Trojan horse that lets people get away with not saying the J-word. Those bagel-snarfing warmongers want real Americans to do their fighting for them. Pat Buchanan, when opposing the first Gulf War in 1992, listed only Jewish supporters of the war and then said they’d be sending “American kids with names like McAllister, Murphy, Gonzales and Leroy Brown” to do the fighting. Subtle. (By the way, Leroy Brown must have ended up fighting in the Gulf War after all. How else can we explain how quickly it ended? He was, after all, the baddest man in the whole damn town.)

Even the non-sinister version of the “neocon equals Jew” thing is a mess. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, many of the most vilified neoconservatives were people like Michael Novak, Father Richard Neuhaus, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Jeane Kirkpatrick, William Bennett, and later, even George Weigel. During the Iraq war, Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, John Bolton, and virtually everybody who supported the war were called neocons. Funny, they don’t look neoconnish.

Whatever neoconservatism is, or was, its time as a distinct thing has been over for a while. In his memoir, Irving Kristol, “the Godfather of the Neoconservatives,” argued that the movement had run its course and dissolved into the conservative movement generally. This strikes me as inarguably true. Most of the people I’ve checked off — who are still alive — including Bill Kristol, don’t call themselves neoconservative anymore, and the few who do mostly do so as a nod to nostalgia more than anything else.

So today, neoconservatism has become what it started out as, an invidious term used by its opponents to single out and demonize people as inauthentic, un-American, unreliable, or otherwise suspicious heretics, traitors, or string-pullers. The chief difference is that they were once aliens in the midst of liberalism, now they are called aliens in the midst of conservatism. And it’s all bullsh**.

American Smallness

Which brings me to Chris Buskirk’s ridiculous manifesto of conservative liberation in response to the demise of The Weekly Standard. The editor of American Greatness, a journal whose tagline should be “Coming Up with Reasons Why Donald Trump’s Sh** Doesn’t Stink 24/7” opens with “Neoconservatism is dead, long live American conservatism” and then, amazingly, proceeds to get dumber.

Nowhere in his essay does Buskirk reveal that he has any real grasp of what neoconservatism was or is — and the best defense of his insinuation that neoconservatism was un-American is that it can be chalked up to bad writing.

But Buskirk doesn’t need to demonstrate fluency with the material because for him, “neoconservative” is an anathematizing word and nothing more. He says, “the life and death of The Weekly Standard is really the story of the death and rebirth of American conservatism, which is nothing more than the modern political expression of America’s founding principles.” A bit further on, he asserts that “for years, neoconservatives undermined and discredited the work of conservatives from Lincoln to Reagan . . .” This is so profoundly unserious that not only is it impossible to know where to begin, it’s a struggle to finish the sentence for fear the stupid will rub off. Does he have in mind the Straussians (Walter Berns, Robert Goldwin, et al.) at that neocon nest the American Enterprise Institute who wrote lovingly about Lincoln at book length for decades? Does he think Irving Kristol’s essay “The American Revolution as a Successful Revolution” was an indictment of the founding? Were these essays, on Abraham Lincoln published in The Weekly Standard or by its writers elsewhere, perfidious neocon attempts to topple him from his historic pedestal? What about Andy Ferguson’s loving book on Lincoln?

And what of the scores of neoconservatives who worked for Ronald Reagan and helped him advance the Reaganite agenda? Were they all fifth columnists? Or perhaps they were parasites attaching themselves to a “host organism,” as Buskirk repugnantly describes Kristol?

He doesn’t say, because Buskirk doesn’t rely on an argument. Save for a couple of Bill Kristol tweets out of context, he cites no writing and marshals no evidence. Instead, he lets a wink, or rather the stink, do all of his work. He knows his readers want to hear folderol about neocons. He knows they have their own insidious definitions of what they are and crave to have them confirmed. Bringing any definition or fact to his argument would get in the way of his naked assertions and slimy insinuations.

And what absurd assertions they are. I’m not a fan of tu quoque arguments, but the idea that American Greatness has standing to position itself as an organ dedicated to larger principles and ideas is hilarious, given that the website’s only purpose is to attach itself like a remora to Donald Trump, a man who doesn’t even call himself a conservative, even for convenience, anymore. Just this week, American Greatness’s Julie Kelly mocked Nancy French’s childhood trauma of being sexually abused. When I criticized her for it, Kelly snarked back something about how “Never Trumpers” have a problem with the truth. It’s like these people don’t see it. You cannot claim to care about the truth while being a rabid defender of this president’s hourly mendacity...
There's more.

Chris Buskirk's really looking like an idiot, that's for sure.

William Faulkner, Sanctuary


At Amazon, William Faulkner, Sanctuary (The Corrected Text).

Friday, December 21, 2018

Alistair Horne, The Fall of Paris


At Amazon, Alistair Horne, The Fall of Paris: The Siege and the Commune 1870-71.

Ross Douthat's 'Conservatism' Syllabus

I found this at the American Conservative, "Cormac McCarthy’s Conservative Pessimism."

I could quibble with the argument there that McCarty's America's great living conservative novelist, but that's not as interesing as Ross Douthat's syllabus.

I'm posting here for posterity, via Samuel Moyn:

Debbie Ryan Bikini Photos


Sweden’s 'Immigrant' Ghettos

From Andy Ngo, at National Review, "Sweden’s Parallel Society":

I don’t go to those places without security,” a Swedish journalist tells me when I ask whether she would accompany me to some of her country’s “especially vulnerable” areas. The label is given by police to neighborhoods where crime is rampant and parallel social structures compete for authority with the state. To the politically incorrect, these are also known as “immigrant ghettos.”

While much attention was focused on Germany during the 2015 refugee crisis, in which more than a million migrants from the Middle East and Africa entered the continent at the behest of Angela Merkel, the country that admitted the most migrants per capita was Sweden. In one year alone, the northern European nation of 10 million added nearly 2 percent to its population. Most of those arrivals were young men. Tens of thousands more have continued to arrive since then.

It is too early to see the long-term impact of the 2015 migrant crisis, but if the past is any indication of Sweden’s future, the answer may be found in its “vulnerable” neighborhoods. In recent years, the Nordic state known for scoring among the highest among all nations in quality-of-life indexes has also gained a reputation for gang shootings, grenade attacks, and sexual crimes.

Days before I was due to arrive in Sweden last summer, the country was rocked by mass car burnings across its west coast. Authorities faulted “youth gangs” for the fires, a euphemism for criminal young men of migrant backgrounds. My first visit was to Rosengård, Seved, and Nydala, immigrant neighborhoods in the southern city of Malmö and among the 23 “especially vulnerable” areas across Sweden. At times, ambulances and fire trucks will enter only with police protection. Desperate police have appealed to imams and clan leaders for help when they cannot contain the violence.

From Malmö’s central train station, I began walking alone to Rosengård, an area rocked by some of the country’s most violent riots in 2008 after a mosque was denied a new lease. Halfway through my journey, I stopped outside the Malmö Synagogue. I was greeted by a metal security fence and closed-circuit cameras. In 2010, the synagogue was attacked with explosives. And in December 2017, hundreds of protesters in the city chanted for an intifada and promised to “shoot the Jews” after President Trump announced the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. One of the consequences of mass migration to Europe that no one had predicted was the importation of a different strain of anti-Semitism.

I continued onward.

The closer the GPS told me I was to my destination, the more headscarves I saw and the less Swedish I heard. In Rosengård, youths gathered during school hours in streets and parks around the public housing that lined the neighborhood. In fact, fewer than half of ninth-graders here pass enough classes to enroll in high school.

Four hundred miles north, in the country’s capital, I witnessed similar social phenomena in some Stockholm neighborhoods. I was more discreet on that trip; journalists have been violently attacked in those areas.

In Rinkeby, young girls and even some babies were dressed in modesty headscarves. Cafés were in practice male-only spaces, and a restaurant in the town center offered segregated seating, with a curtain, for “families,” a euphemism for women.

Here, there were no H&Ms or other hallmarks of Swedish fashion. Instead, small clothing stores sold Islamic robes, hijabs, and face veils. And in contrast to the near-cashless society I encountered elsewhere in urban Sweden, many businesses here accepted only cash.

In Tensta, another “extremely vulnerable” district near Rinkeby, I stopped by the local administrative office. It is one of the few visible institutions of the Swedish state in the area. Security guards stood at the door. The week before, masked assailants left burning tires outside the office — one of a number of attacks on authorities in the neighborhood.

Left-wing parties also plastered campaign posters all over featuring politicians of conspicuous Muslim background. The Left party played Arabic-language music and distributed food in Alby, a “vulnerable” district in southern Stockholm.

The on-the-ground reality I witnessed in some parts of Sweden stood in stark contrast to the egalitarian utopia I had been sold by American progressives. How did Sweden, on the whole a prosperous and peaceful nation, also develop parallel, segregated societies afflicted by criminality and violence? The starkest reminder of this reality are the numerous grenade explosions and gun murders that have become a regular occurrence across some sections of society. In fact, Sweden’s homicide rate is now above the Western European average...
That's a great essay. Keep reading.

Ngo's a brave mofo, lol.

Syria Withdrawal and Push for Border Wall Demonstrate Trump's 'America First' Worldview

Leftist media outlets have been slobbering all over themselves the last 24 hours, with a concatenation of news events they hope will damage the White House.

Actually, a lot of this is good news. The Mattis resignation isn't out of the ordinary at all. The economy's actually strong and markets are betting on the future, especially Federal Reserve moves that could dampen growth. Fact is, final 3rd quarter numbers show the economy humming along at 3.5 percent growth. Travel numbers for the season are at record numbers and it should be a booming Christmas shopping season.

For the leftist establishment take on Mattis see NYT, via Memeorandum, "Defense Secretary Jim Mattis Resigns, Rebuking Trump's Worldview."

And for the America First viewpoint, make sure you're following Diana West on Twitter:

And at the Los Angeles Times, "Trump's decision to withdraw from Syria and build a border wall instead marks a key moment for his 'America first' view":

President Trump, in a pair of tweets Wednesday summarizing his worldview, justified his decision to order American troops withdrawn from Syria while promising that the military would instead put resources into building the wall he’s long espoused along the U.S.-Mexico border.

“We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency,” Trump tweeted, shortly before his press secretary announced that “we have started returning United States troops home as we transition to the next phase of this campaign.”

That declaration from Trump came shortly after another Twitter missive in which he declared that “because of the tremendous dangers at the Border, including large scale criminal and drug inflow, the United States Military will build the Wall!”

The joint tweets offered perhaps the clearest distillation to date of Trump’s “America first” policy: a simple and abrupt vow to disengage from one of the world’s most nettlesome conflicts, with a potentially premature declaration of victory over the militants of Islamic State, also known as ISIS, coupled with an unlikely promise that the world’s most sophisticated fighting force would be deployed to build a literal fortification around the homeland.

The order to withdraw the roughly 2,000 troops currently in Syria provided the latest example of how Trump’s instinct to turn inward, whatever the risk and costs to the United States’ influence and reputation abroad, may clash with the views of the generals and foreign policy experts who serve inside and outside his administration.

Defense Secretary James N. Mattis, for example, a retired four-star general who once commanded American forces in the Middle East, was pushed aside by President Obama for advocating more forceful engagement in the region. Pentagon officials over the last two years have repeatedly clashed with Trump’s desires to limit the kind of muscular U.S. role in the Mideast that Mattis has advocated in the past.

Trump’s announcement raised fears among national security professionals that he might follow the Syria decision with a troop drawdown in Afghanistan, something he has long wanted to do.

Either exit involves a strategic gamble by Trump and could also cost the president politically if Islamic State violence resurges or the region destabilizes during the 2020 election campaign.

“It is a major blunder,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). “If it isn’t reversed, it will haunt this administration and America for years to come.”

As is often the case, many officials worked Wednesday to mitigate the immediate impacts of Trump’s declaration, by slowing the withdrawal timeline and following his instructions only approximately. Others who have grown accustomed to Trump’s splashy promises and the fluidity of his decision-making cautioned that Wednesday’s announcement may not come immediately to fruition or could be tempered by the time the military implements it.

Trump’s about-face came only weeks after some of his own advisors said U.S. troops would remain in Syria until Iran, a key backer of Syrian President Bashar Assad, agreed to remove its own troops from the country. That expanded mission appeared to reflect the wishes of anti-Iran hard-liners, including national security advisor John Bolton, rather than Trump’s views.

A senior administration official who briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity put the matter bluntly. Asked about the cascade of recent statements by Bolton and others vowing to stay in Syria as long as Iran remained engaged, the official said that Trump is doing what Trump wants to do.

“The issue here is that the president has made a decision,” the official said. “He gets to do that. It’s his prerogative.”

The official conceded that the Islamic State threat has not been eliminated from the region beyond Syria’s borders, even if the militants have been significantly hobbled inside.

Some of Trump’s closest allies in the Republican Party oppose his plan...
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