Archive for Democracy

Captain Obvious To The Rescue

We’ve all been made aware of the social science research which claims that conservatives are stuck in rigid ways of thinking, always support authority, blah, blah, blah, whereas liberals are oh-so-open-minded, right?.

Those of us who are conservative, but reside in very liberal parts of the country, know this to be nonsense. Just attend a single cook-out in Cambridge, MA and see if you can express yourself when the conversation turns to: Obama, Health Care, Bush, Israel, the economy, school choice, conservatives, the Tea Party, Christians, Muslims, hate speech, etc. You can compliment the host on the food, though.

Anyway, now there is research that highlights the obvious:

Conservatives are conservative because they’re authoritarian and resistant to new ideas. Everyone knows that, right? There’s a bunch of social-science research that even proves it. If only conservatives were more open and less dogmatically attached to their tribe and their traditions, the world would be a much better place.

A lot of smart people endorse some version of this story. And yes, research surveys show that conservatives do express a much stronger affinity for obedience, authority and in-group loyalty than do liberals.

But there’s a question those surveys can’t answer: How does what people say translate into what people actually do? Jonathan Haidt, one of my favorite social scientists, studies morality by presenting people with scenarios and asking whether what happened was wrong. Conservatives and liberals give strikingly different answers, with extreme liberals claiming to place virtually no value at all on things like group loyalty or sexual purity.

One of Haidt’s most memorable questions involves a man who has sex with a frozen chicken, then cooks the chicken and eats it for dinner. Is this wrong? he asks. Philosophy-class enlightenment values pretty much give one answer: No one was harmed, so it can’t be wrong. And yet: I’m willing to bet that most of the folks who say that it’s A-OK would still be weirded out if they found out this is what their spouse had prepared for a special anniversary feast. Or that this is how a co-worker spends every Monday night.

In the ultra-liberal enclave I grew up in, the liberals were at least as fiercely tribal as any small-town Republican, though to be sure, the targets were different. Many of them knew no more about the nuts and bolts of evolution and other hot-button issues than your average creationist; they believed it on authority. And when it threatened to conflict with some sacred value, such as their beliefs about gender differences, many found evolutionary principles as easy to ignore as those creationists did. It is clearly true that liberals profess a moral code that excludes concerns about loyalty, honor, purity and obedience — but over the millennia, man has professed many ideals that are mostly honored in the breach.

Apparently, I’m not the only one who had questions about the prevalence of conformity on both sides of the political spectrum:

The way I saw it, this slavish obedience to authority and tradition on the part of conservatives was the true source of the culture war between liberals and conservatives over foreign war, abortion, same-sex marriage, gun control, and racial inequality. They way I saw it, conservatives clung to old, near-sighted ways of thinking and fell in line with the dictates of the “man in charge.” If only conservatives would think for themselves — like liberals do — the war would be over and we could get on with life, governance, and progress. Or so I thought.

Then, in 2012, I went on a cycling trip around Cuba.

Jeremy Frimer, the author of the piece, noticed that socialists seemed unable to tolerate even mild questioning of Che Guevara’s eminently questionable legacy. Frimer is a researcher at the University of Winnipeg, and he decided to investigate. What he found is that liberals are actually very comfortable with authority and obedience — as long as the authorities are liberals (“should you obey an environmentalist?”). And that conservatives then became much less willing to go along with “the man in charge.”

Frimer argues that conservatives tend to support authority because they think authority is conservative; liberals tend to oppose it for the same reason. Liberal or conservative, it seems, we’re all still human under the skin.

Here’s a question: Can the average liberal bumbling through Harvard Square even understand the nuance here?

- Aggie

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The Left Continues To March Leftward

This would be a dog-bites-man story if it weren’t so Orwellian

In the U.S., the politics of the left versus the right rolls on with the predictability of traffic jams at the George Washington Bridge. It’s a lot of honking. Until now. All of a sudden, the left has hit ramming speed across a broad swath of American life—in the universities, in politics and in government. People fingered as out of line with the far left’s increasingly bizarre claims are being hit and hit hard.

Commencement-speaker bans are obligatory. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice withdrew as Rutgers’s speaker after two months of protests over Iraq, the left’s long-sought replacement for the Vietnam War. Brandeis terminated its invitation to Somali writer Hirsi Ali, whose criticisms of radical Islam violated the school’s “core values.”

Azusa Pacific University “postponed” an April speech by political scientist Charles Murray to avoid “hurting our faculty and students of color.” Come again? It will “hurt” them? Oh yes. In a recent New Republic essay, Jennie Jarvie described the rise of “trigger warnings” that professors are expected to post with their courses to avoid “traumatizing” students.

Oberlin College earlier this year proposed that its teachers “be aware of racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, cissexism, ableism, and other issues of privilege and oppression.” The co-chair of Oberlin’s Sexual Offense Policy Task Force said last month that this part of the guide is now under revision.

I think it’s fair to say something has snapped.

Mozilla co-founder Brendan Eich was driven out as CEO for donating money to support California’s Prop. 8. An online protest tried to kill Condi Rice’s appointment to the Dropbox board of directors over Internet surveillance. Incredibly, Dropbox CEO Drew Houston didn’t cave.

Earlier this year, faculty and students held a meeting at Vassar College to discuss a particularly bitter internal battle over the school’s boycott-Israel movement. Before the meeting, an English professor announced the dialogue “would not be guided by cardboard notions of civility.”

This gets worse and worse. Go to the link and read about the Harvard undergrad who published an article in The Crimson suggesting that we drop academic freedom in favor of social justice. And that we stop all research that doesn’t comply with her idea of social justice. And then read about the agreement that the Obama administration… never mind – I’ll post it:

It’s obvious that the far left has decided there are no longer constraints on what it can do to anyone who disagrees with it. How did this happen? Who let the dogs out?

The answer is not university presidents. The answer is that the Obama administration let the dogs out.

The trigger event was an agreement signed last May between the federal government and the University of Montana to resolve a Title IX dispute over a sexual-assault case.

Every college administrator in the U.S. knows about this agreement. Indeed, there are three separate, detailed “Montana” documents that were signed jointly—and this is unusual—by the civil-rights divisions of the Justice and Education Departments. Remarked DoJ’s Joceyln Samuels, “The government is stronger when we speak with one voice.”

That’s real muscle. But read the agreement. It is Orwellian.

The agreement orders the school to retain an “Equity Consultant” (yes, there is such a thing) to advise it indefinitely on compliance. The school must, with the equity consultant, conduct “annual climate surveys.” It will submit the results “to the United States.”

The agreement describes compliance in mind-numbing detail, but in fact the actual definitional world it creates is vague. It says: “The term ‘sexual harassment’ means unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature.” But there are also definitions for sexual assault and gender-based harassment. All of this detailed writ is called “guidance.” As in missile.

No constitutional lawyer could read this agreement and not see in it the mind of the Queen of Hearts: “Sentence first, verdict afterwards!” Indeed, the U.S. Education Department felt obliged to assert that the agreement is “entirely consistent with the First Amendment.”

First Amendment? It’s more like a fatwa. The Obama administration has issued a federal hunting license to deputize fanatics at any university in America. They will define who gets accused, and on what basis.

The White House enabled these forces again last week, releasing an Education Department list of 55 colleges that are “under investigation” for possible Title IX violations. Not formally cited but “under investigation.” The list includes such notorious Animal Houses as Catholic University, Swarthmore, Knox College, Carnegie Mellon and Harvard Law School. In truth, every school in America is effectively on the list.

And there’s more at the link. The really unfortunate thing for all of us that just want to be left alone is that there probably is no country left on earth where that can happen. If Texas secedes from the Union, I’ll join them. If they’ll have me…

- Aggie

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Oliver Hussein Holmes

The eminent law professor (lecturer) in chief opines:

“I taught constitutional law for ten years. I take the Constitution very seriously. The biggest problems that were facing right now have to do with George Bush trying to bring more and more power into the executive branch and not go through Congress at all, and that’s what I intend to reverse when I’m President of the United States of America.”

I’ve been forced to ask this before: does he kiss his daughters with that mouth? Maybe all this severe weather we’ve been enduring is the Lord hurling a lightning bolt at each lie like so many Pedro Martinez fastballs.

But he’s got his posse:

The leftists on the new House Democratic “Full Employment Caucus” are planning to “draft” executive orders for President Obama to sign, according to Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas.

“[W]e’ll give President Obama a number of executive orders that he can sign with pride and strength.

In fact, I think that should be our number one agenda. Let’s write up these executive orders — draft them, of course — and ask the president to stand with us on full employment.”

Did anyone have the heart to tell Rep. Lee that her Valentine to Obama is surplus to requirement? That “executive orders” come from the executive? That her branch of government is irrelevant to government, no matter how well-intentioned or supine? That he doesn’t need her to suck his…toes when he can suck them himself, thank you very much?

What would Alex Toqueville say of our democracy?

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Arab Fizzle

I know how unbecoming it is to look upon the abject failure of the so-called Arab Spring, which promised so much to so many, and laugh. But…

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!

Egyptians who voted in a referendum overwhelmingly approved a new constitution, official sources said, citing early results of a ballot that could set the stage for army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to declare his candidacy for president.

About 90 percent of voters approved the constitution, the state news agency and a government official said.

It comes as no surprise: the constitution won wide support among Egyptians who backed the army overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi in July, and there was little or no trace of a no campaign as the state presses a campaign on dissent.

The referendum is a key step in the political transition plan the interim government has billed as a path to democracy, even as it presses a fierce crackdown on the Brotherhood, Egypt’s best organized party until last year.

Oh yeah, democracy. Right, sure.

Sisi’s supporters see him as the kind of strong man needed to restore stability to a country in political and economic crisis for nearly three years. The stock market has rallied to three-year highs this week.

High turnout would be seen as a strong stamp of approval for the new, the army-backed order. A Sisi presidency would turn back the clock to the days when the post was controlled by military men – a pattern broken by Morsi’s one year in office.

“You could see the re-emergence of a domineering president,” said Nathan Brown, a professor of political science at George Washington University and an expert on Egyptian affairs.

At many polling stations across the Arab world’s biggest nation, the referendum at times appeared to be a vote on Sisi himself. Women chanted his name and ululated as they stood in line to vote, while a pro-army song popularized after Morsi’s overthrow blared from cars.

Sounds like the evening line-up on MSNBC and CNN.

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Good For You, Israel!

More of this, please. Much, much more:

British newspaper The Independent has reported that former British International Development Secretary Clare Short could be arrested the next time she lands in Tel Aviv, after the pro-terrorist organization she is a director of was declared an “illicit organisation” by Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon on Tuesday.

Yaalon, a former IDF chief of staff, outlawed the Council for European Palestinian Relations (CEPR) – a Belgian non-profit organization that lobbies on behalf of the Hamas-led Gaza government – using emergency defense regulations.

Short, who chairs CEPR’s Board of Trustees, said she was unsurprised by the decision. She told The Independent: “As CEPR is Palestinian led, and given Israel’s track record, the Defense Minister’s action is not surprising, but it is yet more evidence that Israel’s claim to be a democracy is eroding very fast.”

In 2009, Yaalon turned down an invitation to visit Britain after he was warned he might face arrest on suspicion of war crimes.

He had been invited by the Jewish National Fund to an event in London to raise money for a group that supports Israeli lone soldiers – who have no family in Israel.

Israeli groups on the far-left and other global leftist organizations cooperate in an ongoing campaign to put Israeli officers and politicians on trial if they visit abroad.

I’ll take Israel’s democracy over Britain’s any day, Clair—and twice on Saturday.

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A Nation Of Laws, Not Men

Holder ignoring Supreme Court, going after Texas

A quick personal note: I still have house guests, back in full on Sunday.

Ok, this is what a nation of Men, Not Laws, looks like:

holder

There is one thing to be said about Attorney General Eric Holder. He has a way with words that makes conservatives furious — especially when he starts talking about race and the law.

There are many examples. Early in the Obama administration, Holder said that we are “a nation of cowards” when it comes to issues of race.
The conservative chattering class erupted.

Now Holder is at it again. He has fired up the right with his comments about the Trayvon Martin case, blaming “mistaken beliefs and stereotypes ” for the shooting of the Florida teenager.

Civil rights organizations have called on Holder and the Justice Department to pursue federal charges against George Zimmerman after he was found not guilty in the Martin shooting.

At the annual conference of the National Urban League in Philadelphia on Thursday, Holder renewed his attack on a recent Supreme Court ruling that gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
“Despite the court’s decision, I believe we must regard this setback not as a defeat but as a historic opportunity: for Congress to restore, and even to strengthen, modern voting protections,” said Holder.

He then announced the Justice Department will “ask a federal court in Texas to subject the state of Texas … to obtain ‘pre-approval’ from either the department or a federal court before implementing future voting changes,” similar to a provision in the Voting Rights Act.

His remarks are the Justice Department’s first significant response to last month’s court ruling and seeks to address Texas’ controversial redistricting law that Holder filed suit against in 2012.

Holder said the state had a “history of pervasive voting-related discrimination against racial minorities that the Supreme Court itself has recognized.”
The attorney general previously has been accused by the conservative press of “abuse of power” and of “exploiting tragedies” by the National Rifle Association. Former U.S. Rep. Allen West attacked Holder for what he called “race-baiting” and “exploiting the law.”

Harvard Law School professor Charles Ogletree, who mentions Holder several times in his book about racial profiling, “The Presumption of Guilt,” said the attorney general “has no fear or reticence to talk about race wherever he thinks it needs to be discussed and that leads to a host of reactions, usually negative, from people.”

“I think he is being very straightforward, and some people take it as being provocative. He is very honest about his views about race and justice,” Ogletree said.

Ogletree is correct. He is very straightforward. He is a straightforward bigot, and not deeply concerned about the law of the land. We elected this crew and we must live with it, but it is a darn shame.

- Aggie

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Carter: America Has No Functioning Democracy

Amazing. This is the first time I’ve agreed with Jimmy Carter in decades. We are not a democracy in the Age of Obama.

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter was in the wake of the NSA Spähskandals criticized the American political system. “America has no functioning democracy,” Carter said Tuesday at a meeting of the “Atlantic Bridge” in Atlanta.

The funky English is due to the fact that the statements were published in Der Spiegel (the German news magazine) and run through an internet translator. But he’s obviously correct. And the party that took our democracy apart, brick by brick, is the Democrat Party under the leadership of Barack Obama. I bet a nickel that Carter voted for him twice.

- Aggie

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Morsi Gone?

News reports say he is no longer part of “decision making”

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy “is no longer a part of the decision-making circle,” the state-run Al-Ahram newspaper said Wednesday, citing “a senior official source.”
“The president is no longer able to make any political decisions now and a decision has been taken to prevent leaders loyal to the current regime from traveling overseas until the General Command of the Armed Forces are finished formulating their expected statement,” it added.
The announcement came less than two hours after the nation’s first democratically elected president offered to form an interim coalition government and as one of his aides and a Muslim Brotherhood spokesman said it appeared that a military coup was under way.

I have to say this about the Muslim world: They’re so dramatic! Arab Spring! The Gates of Hell Will Open! We Will Push You Into The Sea!

Do these guys ever just pop a brewski and sit in front of the TV, or hang out with friends at a picnic? They’re like teenagers, constantly in crisis.

BTL asked who we were rooting for? Me? I couldn’t care less. I am horrified that the Obama administration and the State Department run by Hillary Clinton (who will probably be our next President) is so naive and inept and dangerous. The Muslim parts of Middle East are immeasurably more dangerous than in the Bush era or perhaps any other time in modern history. We have buffoons running the show here. A lot of protesters and one American college kid have died so far, but we can assume that many more will perish as Egyptian society continues to fall apart. We could see hunger there. It is their fault that they are so disorganized but it is the fault of this administration that they didn’t realize it.

- Aggie

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Democrats Rule Massachusetts

Gomez lost last night

Gabriel Gomez billed himself as a modern Republican – more moderate and culturally-savvy, the kind who could win in heavily-Democratic Massachusetts. Tuesday’s defeat showed that most Bay State voters didn’t believe the message.
Blue state voters rarely do. Democratic-leaning states have been close to off limits to most GOP Congressional candidates. In New England, there isn’t a single Republican representative in the House and only two GOP senators remain: Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire and Susan Collins in Maine. The West Coast is dominated by Democrats, and a winnable open Senate seat in New Jersey this year has been all but conceded to the Democrats.
That’s handicapped Republicans as they pave their path back to the presidency and, in the short term, hope to win back a Senate majority. The challenges have GOP leaders wondering whether, with a plethora of opportunities during next year’s midterm elections, they can crack the blue state code in time.
“It’s imperative for any candidate in any blue state, especially for federal office, to cut your own image or better explain why the party stands for certain things,” said Mike DuHaime, a GOP consultant based in New Jersey who advises Gov. Chris Christie. “I don’t think we’ve done a great job of that lately. It’s very difficult in blue states to overcome the caricature of the Republican Party right now.”

You know the caricature: Fiscal conservatism, equality under the law, respect for the constitution. Who would want that?

Oh, well. To quote Hillary Clinton, “What difference does it make!”

- Aggie

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Gotcha!

Ha! As if Argentina ever cared about democracy:

Residents of the Falkland Islands voted overwhelmingly to remain a British Overseas Territory, an official said late Monday.

The question put to voters was: “Do you wish the Falkland Islands to retain their current political status as an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom?”

More than 99% of voters said yes, according to Darren Christie, public relations manager for the Falklands Islands government. Just three people voted no. Turnout was 92%.

“Speaks for itself, I think,” Christie said about the vote.

Sounds like one of Saddam’s elections. But I trust this one.

I know what I wrote above was unfair to Argentina, and I apologize.

Let them say it themselves:

But the Argentinian Embassy in London said Friday that the referendum had no legitimacy, characterizing it as “a further attempt by the British to manipulate the question of the Malvinas Islands.”

Because the area around the Falklands is the subject of a sovereignty dispute, it argues, “the United Kingdom has no right to alter the legal status of these territories, not even under the guise of a hypothetical ‘referendum.’”

I don’t know about the “legal status” of the Falklands, but the practical status is that they’ve been British for 180 years. Be careful what you wish for, Argies.

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“There Will Be Blood”—And There Was!

I mean, how did he know?!

As the Michigan House debated a right-to-work measure today, a member of that august body warned of–or perhaps threatened–violence. “We’re going to pass something that will undo 100 years of labor relations and there will be blood, there will be repercussions,” WWJ-AM quotes Rep. Doug Geiss, a Detroit-area Democrat, as saying. “We will re-live the battle of the overpass.”

The station offers a refresher in labor history: “The battle of the overpass was a bloody fracas in 1937 between union organizers and Ford Motor Co. security guards. [United Auto Workers organizer] Walter Reuther was famously thrown down a flight of stairs and another union organizer was left with a broken back.”

So far this time there are no reports of violence or threats by management (unless you count Geiss, who is after all supposed to represent taxpayers, as part of “management” vis-à-vis government employees). But union leaders have echoed the violent rhetoric. WWJ quotes Terry O’Sullivan of the Labor International Union of North America, as saying at a rally, in reference to elected officials who support the right to work: “We are going to take you on and take you out.”

At least he didn’t say he was “targeting” victory or anything like that. Liberals hate violent language.

What they don’t hate is this:

“This is just the first round of a battle that’s going to divide this state. We’re going to have a civil war,” Hoffa said on CNN’s “Newsroom.”

The Obama administration came to the defense of democracy:

“The president believes in debate that’s civil,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said today. “I haven’t seen those comments and I’m not sure that they mean what some would interpret them to mean. I just haven’t seen them.”

This regime was aware enough of a YouTube video making the Prophet out to be a pedophile to blame an entire failed Mideast policy on it, yet hadn’t heard—and then excused—a call for spilled blood?

Yup.

“President Barack Obama launched an assault Monday on Michigan’s proposed ‘right to work’ legislation.” [...] “These so-called ‘right to work’ laws, they don’t have to do with economics; they have everything to do with politics.”

Obama went on to laud Big Labor: “You only have to look to Michigan–where workers were instrumental in reviving the auto industry–to see how unions have helped build not just a stronger middle class but a stronger America.”

You mean Amerika, Mr. President:

MLive.com, a Michigan news site, reports that union thugs “tore down a large tent maintained by American’s [sic] For Prosperity Michigan, which reserved the space to support the right-to-work legislation”:

“We had been contacted by that group that they had three or four people that were actually trapped underneath the tent,” said Lt. Mike Shaw. “Two of them were in wheelchairs and there was also a propane tank in there. So we had to send troopers out, and naturally, the crowd was not too receptive.”

Well, if the El Presidente is against it (confession: I almost wrote “Der Führer”), and the rank-and-file are against it, it couldn’t have passed, right?

Right?

And the House just voted 58-52 for the bill affecting private workers.

So when Gov. Snyder signs the bills, as he’s promised he will do, workers in the public and private sectors will no longer have to pay to join a union unless they want to.

It will be the 24th “right-to-work” state.

So, the two elected bodies of the Michigan legislature passed the bill; the elected Governor of the state will sign the bill; Michigan will join almost half the rest of the country in such legislation… and Obama denounces it?

Isn’t this the same process that reelected him—by a lesser percentage, I might note?

Maybe this is why Aggie and I are so dispirited. In the rest of the country, people who share our politics still have a voice in their state and local elected bodies. Here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, those bodies are cold and stiff.

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What Liberal Media?

Don’t believe me—ask Pat Cadell:

Pat Caddell is the founder of Cambridge Survey Research, a public opinion pollster, and an expert in analyzing public opinion. Many will recognize him from his frequent appearances on Fox News, and some of us—the older ones in here—will remember him from all the way back to the McGovern campaign. He also worked on the Carter campaign, for Gary Hart, for Joe Biden, and Jerry Brown.

Okay? Credentials accepted? Then watch:

I think we’re at the most dangerous time in our political history in terms of the balance of power in the role that the media plays in whether or not we maintain a free democracy or not. You know, when I first started in politics – and for a long time before that – everyone on both sides, Democrats and Republicans, despised the press commonly, because they were SOBs to everybody. Which is exactly what they should be. They were unrelenting. Whatever the biases were, they were essentially equal-opportunity people. That changed in 1980. There’s a lot of reasons for it. It changed—an important point in the Dukakis-Bush election, when the press literally was trying to get Dukakis elected by ignoring what was happening in Massachusetts, with a candidate who was running on the platform of “He will do for America what he did for Massachusetts”—while they were on the verge of bankruptcy.

There’s another 25 minutes of this.

Oh, and he gave this speech eight days ago. That silence you hear is the clamor of the press trying to cover this story.

I’ve echoed this belief for some time. The most serious problem facing us is not the cockamamie ideas of the Left, but their championing by the mainstream media. Some of us have the time and interest to read a little wider, but for many the liberal press is the lens through which they view the world. The number or people I know who think they are well informed by reading the New York Times and listening to NPR could fill the Grand Canyon (not a bad idea). Instead, they see a funhouse mirror view of the world in which Obama’s jug-ears are taken for normal. A toothless, flea-bitten, leprous serf in medieval Europe knew more about what was going on than anyone who watches George Stephanopoulos on Sunday morning.

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