Saturday, February 20, 2016

French Philosopher Equates Today's English-Language Ads with Nazi-Era Proclamations of the 1940s

Same old, same old.
The Daily Telegraph's Stephen Clarke can usually be counted upon to get up in arms about denizens rising to the defense of the French language.
A French philosopher, whose philosophy clearly isn’t strong enough to make him philosophical, has been complaining about the amount of English used in France. Michel Serres told a newspaper that he had seen “more English written on the walls of Toulouse than there was German during the Occupation”. He means advertising, not graffiti (which is pretty illegible anyway).

Now, leaving aside the fact that the “English” adverts in question are very often bilingual puns invented by French companies rather than Anglo invaders, it is pretty thoughtless (to say the very least) to compare advertising posters that we are free to ignore completely with Nazi proclamations informing people that they will be shot if they are found out of doors after curfew or sent to death camps if they belong to certain ethnic groups. Perhaps Monsieur Serres is just practising the philosophy of the absurd. The absurdly absurd.

The above-named “philosopher” (sorry, I can’t believe he “loves ideas”) also suggests that French people boycott any shops that have English names or use English slogans. Why just English, though? Why not boycott every pizzeria that doesn’t change its name to “Italian-style restaurant selling hot, circular covered breads”? And why not encourage foreigners to do the same whenever they see a French brand in their mall or high street? Michel Serres would translate as “Michael Greenhouses”, and a jibe springs to mind about throwing stones.
Surely if you are a true philosopher and believe in individual freedom, you should let people buy what they want – as, in fact, they currently do? Anyone who doesn’t like the English name of a shop or café in France simply doesn’t go there. No need to call for a boycott. The French are free. You see, Monsieur Greenhouse, it’s not really like a Nazi occupation at all.

… People everywhere are inventing new phrases and new words every day. Language is a DIY affair, not a government policy.

 … despite what certain “philosophers” think, the ideal solution to language issues is not to have things banned, it is to see them shared and explained. Why make people poorer when you can enrich them? As Albert Camus said, “the evil in the world usually arises from ignorance.”

Friday, February 19, 2016

Paul Theroux Shows His Infinite Wisdom by Naming Noam Chomsky as Required Reading

What’s the … last book that made you furious?

When I read anything political and polemical by Noam Chomsky, I think (angrily): Why isn’t anyone listening to this man?
Perhaps, Paul Theroux, because Chomsky is a far-left kook who believes in elaborate fairy tales? The author, most recently, of “Deep South”, Theroux answers questions by the New York Times.
Whom would you want to write your life story?

No one. I will put every obstacle in the way of any future biographer. I have described this noncooperation in detail in an essay in Smithsonian magazine. My life belongs to me — do not interfere or presume. I have used it continuously in my work, and that indeed is my life story. But if you insist on a biographer’s name, I would suggest Hieronymus Karl Friedrich, Freiherr von Münchhausen, a.k.a. Baron Munchhausen.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

You really can’t have a Scandinavian-style welfare state without a broad high tax burden

American capitalism has always been distinct from continental European capitalism
notes David Brooks in the New York Times (more on Denmark here).
We’ve had more entrepreneurial creativity but less security. Our system has favored higher living standards for consumers while theirs has favored stability for employees and producers.

 … American values have always been biased toward individualism, achievement and flexibility — nurturing disruptive dynamos like Bell Labs, Walmart, Whole Foods, Google and Apple — and less toward dirigisme, order and economic equality.

It’s amazing that a large part of the millennial generation has rejected this consensus. In supporting Bernie Sanders they are not just supporting a guy who is mad at Wall Street. They are supporting a guy who fundamentally wants to reshape the American economic system, and thus reshape American culture and values. As he told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, he wants to make us more like northern Europe.

 … First, Sanders would centralize power in Washington. If you radically increase the amount of money going to the Washington establishment, as Sanders would, you’re giving that establishment greater resources to control American life.

Second, Sanders would weaken the ability of members of the middle class to make choices about their own lives. He would raise taxes on the rich, but there is only so much money you can squeeze out of such a small group of people. European welfare states generally rely on a highly regressive value-added/sales tax — usually around 20 to 25 percent.

Middle classes across Europe bear a much higher tax load than the American middle class. As Austan Goolsbee, a former economic adviser to President Obama, has noted, you really can’t have a Swedish-style welfare state without a broad high tax burden. That means less spending power for most Americans, and fewer resources to choose one’s own lifestyle.
Giving that establishment greater resources to control American life…

Less spending power for most Americans, and fewer resources to choose one’s own lifestyle…

Isn't that exactly what leftists — and not just Bernie — want?! (Even your beloved Obama, David Brooks?)
Third, Sanders would change the incentive structure for the country’s most successful people. He proposes raising the top tax rate to 52 percent. As Josh Barro noted in The Times, when you add in state, local and other taxes, top earners would be paying a combined tax rate over 73 percent. 

 … When you make risk-taking less rewarding, you get fewer risk-takers, which is exactly what you see across the Atlantic. When you raise taxes that high, the Elon Musks of the world find other places to build their companies.

Fourth, Sanders would Europeanize American public universities. It sounds great to make college free. In fact, it’s a hugely expensive program that would mostly benefit the already affluent.

It would create, as in Germany, a legion of eternal students who have little incentive to leave school because the costs are so low. It would give Washington officials greater control over state universities, determining what sort of faculty they could hire and what sort of programs they could run. It would threaten hundreds of private colleges, which could no longer compete against the completely subsidized state system. It would reduce the pressures universities now feel to reform themselves because it would cushion them with federal largess. Slowly, American universities would look more like their European counterparts. They’d be less good.

The changes in the health care system would be along the same lines. Sanders would create a centralized and streamlined system. His approach would also, as in Europe, reduce the rate of medical progress, increase the rationing of care, increase the wait times for patients, induce many doctors to retire and centralize decision-making. He might reduce health care costs by $6 trillion over the next decade, but his proposal to do this gives new meaning to the word vagueness.

 … It’s amazing that so many young people want to mimic a continent that has been sluggish for decades. It’s amazing that so many look to the future and want a country that would be a lot less vibrant.
That's what state education will do for you, David Brooks
Related: Scandinavia’s quality of life didn’t spring from leftist policies; It survived them

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The accusation of “verbal harassment” is the authoritarian censor’s primary weapon against our constitutional rights

“It’s illegal to offend people,” said the UT-Austin police officer to [the] Christian evangelist. The officer then proceeded to write the evangelist a citation. Yes, that actually happened in America.
Benny Huang can hardly believe that Colleges Are Cultivating America’s First Truly Authoritarian Generation (thanks for the Maggie's Farm link, Bird Dog).
Thankfully, the citation was later voided and the officer received re-training.

The event occurred just off campus where two evangelists were preaching against homosexuality. According to the police officer, a student complained that he was being “verbally harassed” which in fact he was not. The whiney student, if he exists at all, was simply being exposed to words and ideas that offended him. The accusation of “verbal harassment” is the authoritarian censor’s primary weapon against our constitutional rights.

Three officers responded to the call (three!) and together the five of them then proceeded to have a conversation that was cordial but nonetheless alarming. Most of the conversation occurred between an evangelist named Joshua Borchert and a certain Officer Wormsley, who proceeded to inform Borchert that he had a duty to enforce the law; and the law, according to Wormsley, is that any speech that offends anyone is illegal. He’s apparently never heard of this other law called the US Constitution.

 … “So the job here is to write you up as a citation, disorderly conduct, for offending someone.”

Officer Wormsley later conferred with another officer, saying: “He indicates that it’s [his] first amendment, he can say what he wants, freedom of speech, but that’s not what the law says. The law says, I mean, if you offend somebody, if they want to press charges, you can’t do that.”

Perhaps the most terrifying part in the video is when Borchert asked the three police officers if they have ever issued citations for the “crime” of causing offense. “Yes,” said one cop. “Oh yes,” said another. When Borchert asked what fine the judge might impose the officer replied: “We write so many, I can’t answer that question for you.” That alone should tell you that this is not an isolated incident.

 … Across the fruited plain, on campuses both public and private, universities strictly regulate student speech. The first amendment watchdog group Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) annually rates colleges on their free speech policies using a color-coded system. … Only 5 percent got a green rating.

I wish I could say that I’m shocked by this but I’m not. College campuses are hostile environments for all of our first amendment rights but especially to our right to free speech. … The whole purpose of the first amendment is to protect offensive speech. But alas, UMass received a red rating from FIRE and for good reason; it’s basically a gulag on a picturesque New England campus.

It’s important to note however that the campus authoritarians are not just cops and administrators. The students are cool with being told what to say and they won’t hesitate to rat you out for thought crimes. Censorship is accepted practice and no one bats an eyelash. 

 … Thirty-five percent said that the Constitution does not protect “hate speech,” an imprecise term that basically means whatever liberals hate hearing. Among self-described liberals 30 percent said that the first amendment was “outdated.”

Free speech is all too often perceived as a shield for bigots to hide behind—which it is, of course, though I don’t mean to imply that everyone accused of bigotry by the campus authoritarians is guilty as charged.

“Bigotry” is an all-purpose word used to describe Orwellian thought crimes, most of which are not bigoted at all.

It nonetheless protects authentic bigotry too. There’s absolutely no need to parse out the difference between genuine bigoted speech and non-bigoted speech because both are constitutionally protected. Yet campus authoritarians don’t want anyone to have a shield to protect themselves so they attempt to delegitimize first amendment protections as somehow cowardly; as if standing against majority opinion doesn’t take guts. “Quit hiding behind the first amendment!” they shout. Why the heck shouldn’t someone hide behind the first amendment? That’s what it’s for—protection.

Part of the reason that censorship is so rampant on college campuses is that people are by nature selfish. They want protection for themselves but won’t extend it to others.

 … The very notion that people can just speak their minds is considered dangerous in and of itself. It’s a thought too scary for a generation raised in safe zones to contemplate. Ideas must be controlled!

My only hope is that the Constitution will protect us and someday this will all be straightened out, perhaps by some watershed court decision. But I doubt it. Our constitutional rights are only as good as the public officials who interpret and enforce them. I have little faith that tomorrow’s judges, cops, and college administrators will allow the first amendment to be anything more than dead words on a page, hypocritically maintained in theory while endlessly violated in practice. After all, the students who clamor for “safe spaces” today will someday be the public officials whose job it is to safeguard our freedoms. This is truly the first authoritarian generation reared on American soil. Should they fail to mature in their appreciation for the first amendment our freedom will be lost.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Thanks to Obama's 7 Years of Peaceful Outlook on the World, a "New Cold War" with U.S. Army and NATO Forced to Enhance Military Presence in Europe

Shouldn't we all pause and say a prayer of gratitude to the Nobel Peace Prize-winning apologizer-in-chief for the smart diplomacy that is making the world more safe and more peaceful?

Russia's prime minister seems to be especially grateful — accusing as Dmitry Medvedev is the United States of rekindling a new Cold War — as should be the members of the U.S. Army as it pivots back to Europe (thanks to Instapundit's Stephen Green).

The New York Times' Michael S. Schmidt:
The defense ministers from all 28 NATO countries approved a plan on Wednesday to enhance the alliance’s military presence in Central and Eastern Europe, part of its expanding efforts to deter Russian aggression, according to NATO’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg.

 … Among the countries that NATO and the United States are looking to protect are Hungary, Romania, Ukraine and the Baltic States, according to administration officials.

The size of the American contribution surprised some analysts, who saw it as one of the most aggressive moves the United States has made in the region since the fall of the Soviet Union. Administration officials have said they hope that their commitment to protecting these countries sends a message to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia that his aggression in the region will no longer be tolerated.
Update: none of John Schindler's recommendations on how to prevent Cold War 2.0 from going hot were implemented by the Obama administration
Prime Minister [Dmitri] Medvedev then echoed [foreign minister Sergei] Lavrov’s alarming statement by warning of “a new world war” in an interview with a German newspaper. The Kremlin promptly objected and released a Russian-language version of the interview that included the gentler phrase “another war on earth.” This appears to be a trademark Moscow provocation since the German-language interview unmistakably says “a new world war” (einen neuen Weltkrieg). Releasing different translations of key statements is an old KGB trick that Mr. Putin’s regime has played on the West more than once, but here they are truly playing with fire.
Spasibo, Tovarich Barack Hussein.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Unexpectedly: MSM Article Stars Republican Politician as a Good Guy, Never Identifies His Party

Haven't we heard regular reports about how, when a scandal envelops a politician who is a Republican, his party is mentioned immediately — and prominently — while, when a scandal hits a politician who is a Democrat, his party is either never mentioned at all or only, in passing, towards the end of the report — if the scandal, small or large (see IRS and email controversy), isn't ignored altogether.

Instapundit's Ed Driscoll has a current example of the “name that party” game:
Ex-NY Gov. Eliot Spitzer being investigated for assaulting woman.
Curiously, at least in the initial version of the Daily News’ article,
Spitzer’s party goes “unexpectedly” unmentioned.
Head over to USA Today for another case in point:

In the front-page article (or at least the main online home page article) on background checks for teachers or the lack thereof, we find what in the writer's view is a good politician and what is a bad politician. First, describes the good politician:
A bill first introduced by former Florida Congressman Adam Putnam in 2007 would have required the U.S. Department of Education to develop a database of teachers found to have engaged in sexual misconduct and make that information available to the public.

 … Putnam's legislation failed to grain traction, but advocacy and education policy groups have continued to push for a more reliable way to share information between states.
Then describes the bad politician:
Concerns by anti-federalist lawmakers have prevented the legislation from moving forward. Opponents included Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., who said during floor debate in April 2014 that he opposed the bill because responsibility for checking the backgrounds of teachers should be local.

“If we want safe schools, that is the job of parents, communities, school boards and states,” Alexander said. “It is not a duty to be bucked upstairs to the Senate and the Department of Education.”
The bad politician is (immediately) named as a Republican.

(Both men, need less to say, have good points, and whether you agree with one or with the other — or with both or with neither — is beside the point; what matters is which man, from USA Today's perspective, has the compassionate viewpoint — protect the children — and which man has no compassion but is finicky if not crazed and hateful.)

Although all other politicians in the story were duly identified ("the Protecting Students from Sexual and Violent Predators Act was championed by U.S. Sens. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va"), the good politician's party is never named.

So what we have is "Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn." (bad guy) vs. former "Florida Congressman Adam Putnam" (good guy).

How much do you want to bet that the good politician (Putnam) is not a Democrat (or he would have been immediately identified as such)?

You would win a lot, you know…

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Now, do you understand the difference between a Conservative and a Liberal?

Quoting Jim Spivey on Facebook, YesImRight's Elvin Bartley recounts the difference between a Republican and a Democrat:
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were walking down the street when they came to a homeless person.
Trump gave the homeless person his business card and told him to come to his office for a job.
He then took $20 out of his pocket and gave it to the homeless person.
Hillary was very impressed, so when they came to another homeless person, she decided to help.
She walked over to the homeless person and gave him directions to the welfare office.
She then reached into Trump’s pocket and got out $20.
She kept $15 for her administrative fees and gave the homeless person $5.00.
Now, do you understand the difference between a Conservative and a Liberal progressive?