Archive for April, 2014
30 Apr 2014

Lynched in LA

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SterlingNAACP

Who knew that NBA Commissioners enjoyed such plenary and sweeping powers?

Say something privately in your own home which NBA commissioner Adam Silver does not like, and he evidently thinks he can, without due process or any further ado, slap you with a $2.5 million dollar fine (I’m still trying to calculate how many dollars that is per word), ban you for life from attending any games or practices or setting foot in any facility or participating in any business or player personnel decisions involving the team you own, and then force you to sell your team.

(How I wonder do you sell a billion-dollar sports franchise while not participating in business decisions regarding that franchise? Are you supposed to be prohibited by the commissioner’s edict from declining any offer as too low? I hereby bid $1.)

Kings, popes, and presidents can’t, these days, simply wave a scepter and fine people they don’t like millions of dollars, or ban them from having any contact with or exercising any power over business entities (worth as much as a billion dollars) which they own. Those sports league commissioners are hot stuff.

It seems to me that, legally speaking, Mr. Sterling should have pretty good prospects of contesting all of this, if he chooses to do so.

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Despite the enthusiasm of the media lynch mob, I’m not clear myself as to what Mr. Sterling’s actual racial views are or precisely what he is guilty of. The current scandal revolves around a leaked recording, made illegally and presumably released by Sterling’s former mistress “V.Stiviano” aka Maria Vanessa Perez, who is presumably disgruntled about being sued by Mrs. Sterling.

The conversation in the recording is less than completely clear. Ms. Stiviano refers repeatedly to racism and animosity toward blacks and seems to be deliberately attempting to elicit potentially inflammatory statements from Sterling. The context of the conversation seems to be a previous demand by Sterling (not heard in the recording) that Stiviano remove pictures of herself with black sports figures from her Instagram account and his request that she should not accompany them to Clippers games. Who precisely has a problem with the photos and the association at games is unclear. At one point, Sterling seems to be referring to the practical necessity of bowing to society’s prejudice, which he feels unable to change. It seemed to me, listening to the conversation, that it would hardly be surprising that a rich 80-year-old man would object to his youthful girlfriend flaunting public evidence of her association with much younger athletic men.

In any event, Sterling actually expressed no personal racial opinions at all. He also seemed to be noticing Stiviano’s efforts to put words in his mouth, and complained of her hostility.

The public record of Sterling’s career offers very mixed evidence. It seems on the face of it unlikely that anyone who invested in ownership of a sports franchise of a game dominated by black players is personally hostile to African Americans. The record indicates that Sterling, who is a major real estate investor, was obliged to settle a government lawsuit contending that he had practiced rental discrimination against blacks and Hispanics, but those kinds of lawsuits commonly confuse perfectly legal social class discrimination with protected class discrimination. If Sterling is obsessed with racial prejudice, why did he select a Hispanic girlfriend who was partially of African-American descent? Why was he a prominent donor to the NAACP scheduled to receive a lifetime humanitarian award this year? Why did Sterling hand out basketball game tickets in large numbers to needy inner city kids, and support charities and sports camps for their benefit?

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The real question, though, is: So what if Donald Sterling was actually Grand Exalted Kleagle of Greater Los Angeles and, in his heart of hearts, hated all blacks like poison? The First Amendment guarantees Freedom of Religion, which surely must include freedom to adopt whatever social and moral opinions in a private context one likes.

When exactly did America become a leftist theocratic state, in which a strange alliance of capitalism and revolutionary bolshevism is able to impose tests of politically correct opinion? Apparently, today, if you donate money to political efforts to oppose Gay Marriage you are not allowed to become CEO of a major software company. Get caught on a secret recording telling your mistress not to post pictures of herself with black guys, and you get banned from basketball.

Dave Blount rightly wonders: The way we are going, how long exactly will it be before the community of fashion starts burning heretics at the stake?

For all the lockstep sanctimonious sputtering from everyone on TV and radio, this story is not about race. It is about freedom and its opposite, coerced ideological homogeneity.

At this point the stampeded cattle comprising the American public will probably agree that anyone who does not want his mistress hanging out with blacks is so awful that he should be burned at the stake. But if the thought police are successful at immolating Sterling, next time it might not be about race. Next time the thought criminal will be someone who said something not currently politically fashionable about homosexuals — and/or about the Bible. Soon it could be a remark expressing doubts about the dangers of global warming that turns someone into Emmanuel Goldstein. If we continue down this road, within a few years, criticism of government figures could bring out the lynch mob.

30 Apr 2014

The Damned German Language

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GermanScrabble

“Floor Sanding Machine Rental”

29 Apr 2014

French Cornfield Turns into Wild Boar Clown Car

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Run, Sangliers, run!

Hat tip to Jesse Swan.

29 Apr 2014

2016

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Hillary2016

28 Apr 2014

Government vs. the People

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BLMSniper

Dave Carter, at Ricochet, saw in the the federal stand-off at the Bundy Ranch a near-miss repeat of the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864, and argues that burgeoning federal power and the militarization of police and federal agencies guarantees sooner-or-later the application of excessive and deadly force by government to American citizens.

Many in the governing class, in both parties, have made their choice and that is to govern against the consent of the governed. Many American citizens, awakening to the heavy hand of a government which now dictates almost everything they purchase, produce, or sell, taxing them into oblivion, telling them which doctors and health plans they may or may not keep, regulating the content of everything they consume, touch, wear, breathe or drive, and whose agents and enforcement officials are becoming increasingly belligerent and thuggish, are making their choices as well. It is time for those who wear the badge, those who wear the uniform, and those who are increasingly ordered to act against their own countrymen to make their choice and take a stand.

H. L. Mencken said that:

    It is the invariable habit of bureaucracies, at all times and everywhere, to assume…that every citizen is a criminal. Their one apparent purpose, pursued with a relentless and furious diligence, is to convert the assumption into a fact. They hunt endlessly for proofs, and, when proofs are lacking, for mere suspicions. The moment they become aware of a definite citizen, John Doe, seeking what is his right under the law, they begin searching feverishly for an excuse for withholding it from him.

The question, for those who are ordered to aim a sniper’s rifle at a rancher, necessarily becomes one of whom to serve? The people or the directorate?

28 Apr 2014

It Wasn’t Supposed to End Like This

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27 Apr 2014

Aperçu

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modernWorld

The modern world will not be punished.

It is the punishment.

~Nicolás Gómez Dávila

From Armchair Oxford Scholar via Madame Scherzo.

27 Apr 2014

40 Spectacular Places

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Alcazar

40 remarkable photos of off-the beaten-path tourism wonders.

26 Apr 2014

John C. H. Grabill’s Photos of the Old West

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WesternTown

Between 1887 and 1892, John C.H. Grabill sent 188 photographs to the Library of Congress for copyright protection. Grabill is known as a western photographer, documenting many aspects of frontier life & hunting, mining, western town landscapes and white settlers’ relationships with Native Americans. Most of his work is centered on Deadwood in the late 1880s and 1890s. He is most often cited for his photographs in the aftermath of the Wounded Knee Massacre on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. link

26 Apr 2014

Elites, Having Gotten Their Way, Condescendingly Propose Tolerating Dissent

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Gay-Marriage-Question

Same Sex Marriage, in the typical way culture war victories are won, is on the way to becoming the law of the land by the well-worn route of advocacy by a left-wing avante-garde, followed by conversion into a class indicator by the community of fashion, with a final victory effected by legislation from the judicial bench.

When the powers-that-be at Mozilla proceeded to defenestrate newly-appointed CEO Brendan Eich for the thought crime of having previously donated $1000 in support of Proposition 8, it all began getting a bit too heavy-handed for Andrew Sullivan, the formerly conservative Limey poof who more or less invented the notion of Gay Marriage, who quickly editorialized against black listing dissenters.

Having, somewhat unexpectedly, found themselves effectively getting their way, bursting through ineffective opposition to obtain complete control of the levers and handles allowing revolutionary alteration of the basic foundation of civilization, being now able to pillage, loot, vandalize, and profane at will the sacred inner sanctum of human society, the more reflective fashionistas are disposed to be gracious in their victory.

The rural paganes, it was recently proposed in a manifesto from liberaltarians (and Mr. Sullivan) ought to be accorded the privilege of grumbling, without penalty!

Merina Smith, at Ricochet, finds the condescension of the victors a little hard to take. And she’s perfectly correct. A massive propaganda wave of slogans, followed by a series of judicial coup d’etats is really not the same thing as “winning a debate.”

It is admirable that the well-respected signatories are calling for tolerance, but I am less than impressed with their statement. First, they repeat that deceptive little slogan “marriage equality” in a celebratory way, as if it really explained or illuminated anything. Can these smart people be unaware that equality simply means treating like things alike? The question, which has never been answered satisfactorily by anyone on that side of the debate, is what is the significance of the differences, particularly for children? Might there be a good reason why sexual unions that produce children should be treated differently than those that can’t? That nasty little question-begging slogan ”marriage equality” has in fact been a means of preventing discussion about the real issues at stake.

I do like their next point, that diversity is the natural consequence of liberty. They also say that this entails paying serious attention to the arguments of those they oppose. That’s good. Would that they would do so.

But since they assert unequivocally throughout the piece that they all support redefining marriage and are certain that this course is correct — without ever acknowledging that there might be some good reasons that marriage has always been limited to connecting males and females — one has to doubt that they have taken their opposition seriously, especially when they claim that “free speech created the social space for us to criticize and demolish the arguments against gay marriage and LGBT equality.” Uh, might there be some hubris going on here? The term “marriage equality” demolished no arguments, just avoided them.

Similarly, their use of judges to force their will on people who had voted against their side is not “demolishing” any sort of argument. In fact, Justice Kennedy’s shameful claim that there can be no reason besides animus against gays (read: “hate,” the queen of all delegitimizing words) is similarly a way to avoid dealing with objections and arguments.

25 Apr 2014

Nimrud Ivory Plaque

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NimrudLioness1

c. 900-800 BCE: Unknown Artist: Lioness Devouring a Boy [Phoenician, Palace of Ashurnasirpal II, Nimrud, Iraq]

Ivory carving made by Phoenicians, found in the palace of the Assyrian king in Nimrud.

Wikipedia: Nimrud Ivories.

25 Apr 2014

Property Rights Matter

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Marxist

Cory Doctorow reports:

Lawrence and Wishart, a radical press founded in 1936 and formerly associated with the Communist Party of Great Britain, has asserted a copyright over “Marx-Engels Collected Works,” a series of $25-50-ish hardcovers, and demanded that they be removed from the Marxist Internet Archive. As Scott McLemee notes, the editions in question were “prepared largely if not entirely with the support of old-fashioned, Soviet-era Moscow gold” and consist, in large part, of arguments about the moral bankruptcy and corrupting influence of claims of private property.

Marx-Engels Collected Works will be removed from Marxists.org on May Day. Here’s a torrent of the full set.

Hat tip to Walter Olson.

25 Apr 2014

You Go, Charlotte!

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NikeMarat

Via Vanderleun.

24 Apr 2014

The Supreme Court Is Going to Have a Second Chance

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NewDealNRA

Amity Schlaes thinks the Suprene Court’s decision in the upcoming Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby case could come out as a replay of Schecter Poultry Corp. v. United States, the 1935 case which killed the New Deal’s legislative centerpiece, the National Industrial Recovery Act.

Some time in the coming months, the Supreme Court will hand down its opinion in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby, the case of the retailer that claims that its religious freedom or that of its employees is violated by contraceptive coverage required as part of the Affordable Care Act. The attitude of the health-care act’s supporters toward such cases is irritation. How dare a little religious case trip up the mighty Affordable Care Act and jeopardize the ACA’s establishment as permanent law of the land?

Cases involving religious details, however, do have a way of stopping big social legislation, and not only because they violate the principles of the religious denominations involved. Regardless of the Court’s decision, even pro-choice Jews, Unitarians, and Muslims may eventually change their views on the ACA precisely because of Hobby Lobby and cases like it.

To see how this might happen, it helps to go back to a case involving a commensurately ambitious piece of legislation, Franklin Roosevelt’s 1933 National Industrial Recovery Act. …

Just as the ACA stumbled over its own website this past winter, the NRA stumbled over it own forms and names, which were long enough to provoke ridicule. The name of the code that governed a family of Brooklyn chicken butchers called Schechter, for example, was “The Code of Fair Competition for the Live Poultry Industry for the Metropolitan Area In and About New York.” …

One of the many firms the NRA investigated was ALA Schechter Poultry, a Brooklyn butcher shop where authorities found numerous violations of the poultry code. After the Schechters were convicted in lower courts, the authorities grew increasingly confident that Schechter would be the case in which the Supreme Court would confirm the constitutionality of their law and the New Deal. Then as now, a kind of assumption, or at least a pretense, was at work. People pretended that the fact that the Schechters were Jewish and that the butcher shop they ran was kosher were ancillary details, a kind of coincidence, or even an annoyance.

But the fact that these particular butchers observed kashruth, the Jewish body of laws involving food, was not a coincidence of this case. It was causal. This was the early 1930s, after all. These were immigrants in an industry that had already seen convictions for racketeering. One could suggest they were the Jewish equivalent of Al Capone. The immigrants’ lawyers were not likely to be a match for the government’s untouchables, the legal-powerhouse solicitor general, Donald Richberg, and his talented deputy, Walter Lyman Rice (Harvard Law). A smelly business, a poultry butcher shop would be unattractive to the public. The pro-Roosevelt journalists could make a funny story out of the pathetic little immigrants with their chickens, and they did.

The distingushed columnist Drew Pearson (Phillips Exeter, Swarthmore, American Friends Service Committee) titled his book chapter on the Schechter case “Joseph and His Brethren” and wrote mockingly of the Schechters’ attorney, Joe Heller (Brooklyn Law). “In his Brooklyn Hebrew accent he told the jury how he had known the Schechter boys since they were children,” Pearson wrote of the lawyer. The government attorney could suggest, and did, that such a company’s practices were antiquated and that poultrymen endangered public health either by ignoring Jewish law or by enforcing it imperfectly. Perhaps the Schechters were hypocrites, as it is being suggested the Hobby Lobby proprietors are. Very early on, indeed, the federal prosecutors on the Schechter case began to contend that the Jews had broken their own religious law by selling many sick chickens.

But this contempt backfired, just as contempt for Christian pro-life culture may backfire on the government in Hobby Lobby. That is because the exposure the Schechters’ case got was extensive. The public, if it cared to know, learned that the butchers worked on Sundays but not Saturdays, that they allowed the customers to pick their chickens from the coop (another NRA violation), that their butchers had special Jewish titles — they were called “shochet” or “shochtim.” All this was transcribed in the newspapers. And that exposure gave the public time to think about what they were observing.

What was evident was that two large bodies of law were clashing. On the one hand was the elaborate and new NRA poultry code. On the other hand there was the code of the Jewish dietary law, based on the Bible itself. In a contest between NIRA (48 stat. 195) and Deuteronomy (14:21), perhaps Deuteronomy had more authority. The government had its health inspectors, but who were they to go up against Maimonides himself, who had proclaimed that Jews were forbidden to serve “unwholesome” food? As it turned out, the Schechters had not sold much, if any, bad meat — there was no actionable “sick chicken” in the Sick Chicken Case.

In the Supreme Court arguments, the standard jurisprudential challenges involving the Commerce Clause and delegation were standard. Violation of those principles turned the justices against the NRA. But what had also become clear to the justices and the public was that the Schechters were simple businesspeople. … When the Schechters’ lawyer, that same Heller, showed how ludicrous the regulations for chicken selection were, the justices and the whole room laughed. The same kind of slapstick humor that had worked against the butchers before now worked for them. Even the justices got in on the wordplay, writing in their 9–0 finding against the NRA that the Schechter case showed that not only the poultry code but also the entire NRA corpus must collapse, “bone and sinew.”

The best explanation for the shift in opinion is that such conflicts give the public a chance to consider what it is the government is intruding into or impinging on — not just a vacuum, but the private sphere, the personal sphere, the business sphere, and, yes, the sphere of faith. The spectacle of that intrusion is not easily forgotten once perceived. The chicken of daily business life and ritual can, from time to time, vanquish the eagle.

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