I am watching this, and I usually avoid long videos, principally because it is interesting to see, and hear, the superhumanly energetic figure who manages to teach law, write lots of books, and produce the single most important conservative blog at a scale of productivity that continues to astound.
His take on Big Tech Social Media is also obviously of considerable interest. Glenn Reynolds is already on the record as advocating the break-up of those “Internet monopolies,” a basically incongruous position for such a libertarian thinker.
He may be, of course, a just a trifle prejudiced here. Big Tech Social Media came along and turned out to be a powerfully effective competitor to the blogosphere. It cut my traffic down into only a fraction of what it used to be, and I expect its impact on the Instapundit blog was also impressive.
I’d normally myself be totally against Antitrust persecution of corporations, but the Big Tech leviathans are themselves hypocritical political partisans systematically misusing the power that’s fallen into their laps to create totalitarian satrapies in which non-politically-correct, often merely conservative speech is stomped out.
I’m currently serving my second 30-day sentence in Facebook jail. This time based on a stupid misinterpretation of my technical description of the characteristics of Fascism as a pro-Nazi posting, doubtless by some low-level employee with English as a second language.
Richard Fernandez is skeptical, but nonetheless willing to take the establishment’s Russian-conspiracy theory and run with it.
The outbreak of unrest [of the rebellion of the commons against the elites from Britain to France to the USA] … is so vast …. that the Washington Post had an op-ed explaining it: Putin at work. The hand of Russian collusion is seen everywhere. “From Brexit to NATO and the shutdown, Putin is winning so much he might get tired of winning,” it said.
We donâ€™t know exactly how much Moscow spent supporting influence operations to impact the U.K. and U.S. elections in 2016, but it seems hard to overstate how good the Kremlinâ€™s return has been on what Western intelligence agencies believe was a relatively modest investment.
Russian efforts to manipulate American voters during the last presidential campaign have been aggressively covered in this space, but the Kremlinâ€™s bid to boost Brexit was perhaps even more brazen. The Democratic members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee released a meaty report last week about Russian influence operations overseas, but it was entirely overshadowed by the latest bombshells stemming from special counsel Bob Muellerâ€™s investigation. The 206-page report outlines Russian disinformation campaigns across 19 countries. It highlights loopholes in U.K. campaign finance laws that might have allowed an influx of Russian money to boost the referendum. Thatâ€™s not to mention the propaganda from Russian-run Twitter and Facebook accounts, plus state-funded media.
It’s worldwide conspiracy. If anything the problem with the Mueller investigation is it is too small — like sending a rowboat after a megalodon. If the op-ed is right then they’re going to need a bigger special prosecutor. The alternative explanation for the perfect political storm now rocking the West is that a substantial number of people actually voted for Brexit, Donald Trump and are angry with the policies of Emmanuel Macron, reflecting some kind of global revolt by the Western ‘have nots’ against the ‘haves’.
This possibility was advanced by Glenn Reynolds writing in USA Today. “Donald Trump is a symptom of a new kind of class warfare raging at home and abroad.” It’s the Deplorables versus the New Class.
Yugoslav dissident Milovan Djilas called these party hacks the â€œNew Class,â€ noting that instead of workers and peasants against capitalists, it was now a case of workers and peasants being ruled by a managerial new class of technocrats who, while purporting to act for the benefit of the workers and peasants, somehow wound up with the lionâ€™s share of the goodies. …
But the New Class isnâ€™t limited to communist countries, really. Around the world in the postwar era, power was taken up by unelected professional and managerial elites. To understand whatâ€™s going on with President Donald Trump and his opposition, and in other countries as diverse as France, Hungary, Italy and Brazil, itâ€™s important to realize that the post-World War II institutional arrangements of the Western democracies are being renegotiated, and that those democraciesâ€™ professional and managerial elites donâ€™t like that very much, because they have done very well under those arrangements. And, like all elites who are doing very well, they donâ€™t want that to change.
Glenn Reynolds lists some of the infantilizing responses of universities across the nation to Donald Trump’s untoward election, and it is an amazing list. This large-scale attempt at playing-the-victim is, of course, one more example of the standard leftist technique in which moral jiu jitsu is used to marginalize and intimidate the majority.
Trumpâ€™s substantial victory, when most progressives expected a Hillary landslide, came as a shock to many. That shock seems to have been multiplied in academe, where few people seem to know any Trump supporters â€” or, at least, any Trump supporters whoâ€™ll admit to it.
The response to the shock has been to turn campuses into kindergarten. The University of Michigan Law School announced a â€post-election self-careâ€ event with â€œfood and play,â€ including â€œcoloring sheets, play dough [sic], positive card-making, Legos and bubbles with your fellow law students.â€ (Embarrassed by the attention, UM Law scrubbed the announcement from its website, perhaps concerned that people would wonder if its graduates would require Legos and bubbles in the event of stressful litigation.)
Stanford emailed its students and faculty that psychological counseling was available for those experiencing â€œuncertainty, anger, anxiety and/or fearâ€ following the election. So did the University of Michiganâ€™s Flint campus.
Meanwhile, even the Ivy League wasnâ€™t immune, with Penn (Trumpâ€™s alma mater) creating a post-election safe space with puppies and coloring books:
Student Daniel Tancredi reported that the people who attended were â€œfearfulâ€ about the results of the election.
â€œFor the most part, students just hung out and ate snacks and made small talk,â€ Tancredi told The College Fix. â€œOf course, that was in addition to coloring and playing with the animals.â€
As the event took place, students â€” roughly 20 or so, according to the Sunâ€™s video â€” wrote their reactions and emotions on poster boards with colored markers, or with chalk on the ground. A chilly day on the Ithaca campus, at one point the demonstrators huddled together as what appeared to be a barista brought them warm drinks. Several adults, most likely professors, stood around the group. The event appeared to take on the atmosphere of a funeral wake.
At Tufts, the university offered arts and crafts, while the University of Kansas reminded students that there were plenty of â€œtherapy dogsâ€ available. At other schools, exams were cancelled and professors expressed their sympathy to traumatized students.
Itâ€™s easy to mock this as juvenile silliness â€” because, well, it is juvenile silliness of the sort documented in Frank Furediâ€™s What Happened To The University? But thatâ€™s not all it is. Itâ€™s also exactly what these schools purport to abhor: An effort to marginalize and silence part of the university community.
In an email to students, the University of Michiganâ€™s President, Mark Schlissel, wrote: â€œOur responsibility is to remain committed to education, discovery and intellectual honesty â€” and to diversity, equity and inclusion. We are at our best when we come together to engage respectfully across our ideological differences; to support ALL who feel marginalized, threatened or unwelcome; and to pursue knowledge and understanding.â€
But when you treat an election in which the â€œwrongâ€ candidate wins as a traumatic event on a par with the 9/11 attacks, calling for counseling and safe spaces, youâ€™re implicitly saying that everyone who supported that â€œwrongâ€ candidate is, well, unsafe. Despite the talk about diversity and inclusion, this is really sending the signal that people who supported Trump â€” and Trump carried the state of Michigan, so there are probably quite a few on campus â€” arenâ€™t really included in acceptable campus culture. Itâ€™s not promoting diversity, itâ€™s enforcing uniformity. Itâ€™s not promoting inclusion, itâ€™s practicing exclusion. And, though it pretends to be about nurturing, itâ€™s actually about being mean to those who donâ€™t fall in the nurtured class. Schlissel says he wants the University of Michigan to be â€œa welcoming place for all members of society,â€ but how welcome can students who backed Trump feel in the wake of this performance?
Philo contends that Professor Reynolds’ aperÃ§u ought to be awarded the status of a law.
The government decides to try to increase the middle class by subsidizing things that middle class people have: If middle-class people go to college and own homes, then surely if more people go to college and own homes, weâ€™ll have more middle-class people. But homeownership and college arenâ€™t causes of middle-class status, theyâ€™re markers for possessing the kinds of traits â€” self-discipline, the ability to defer gratification, etc. â€” that let you enter, and stay, in the middle class. Subsidizing the markers doesnâ€™t produce the traits; if anything, it undermines them.
I dub this Reynoldsâ€™ Law: â€œSubsidizing the markers of status doesnâ€™t produce the character traits that result in that status; it undermines them.â€ Itâ€™s easy to see why. If people donâ€™t need to defer gratification, work hard, etc., in order to achieve the status they desire, theyâ€™ll be less inclined to do those things. The greater the government subsidy, the greater the effect, and the more net harm produced.
This law is thus a relative to Murrayâ€™s third law in Losing Ground, the Law of Net Harm: â€œThe less likely it is that the unwanted behavior will change voluntarily, the more likely it is that a program to induce change will cause net harm.â€ But Reynoldsâ€™ Law rests on a different and more secure foundation. It focuses on character as fundamental.
Since the time of Woodrow Wilson, Democratsâ€”but not only Democratsâ€”have fretted that the middle class is shrinking due to the power of large corporations, and that only government action to â€œlevel the playing fieldâ€ can save the middle class. The â€œmiddle class is being more and more squeezed out by the processes which we have been taught to call processes of prosperity.â€ Obama? Hillary? No, thatâ€™s Woodrow Wilson in 1913 (The New Freedom). Itâ€™s striking to realize that progressives have been playing the same tune for a century, no matter whatâ€™s actually taking place in the economyâ€”indeed, in the midst of the greatest expansion of affluence in the history of the worldâ€”with the same set of proffered solutions: greater government power, regulations, higher taxes, and subsidies for the markers of affluence.
Reynoldsâ€™ Law thus strikes at the heart of progressivism as a political ideology. Progressivism canâ€™t deliver on its central promise. In fact, itâ€™s guaranteed to make things worse in exactly that respect.
When a tasty news item confirming one’s own prejudices and assumptions and wreaking injury upon one’s political adversaries comes along, it is only natural that the partisan blogger will seize upon it with a certain glee and give it prominent coverage in a major posting.
I almost simply referenced Andrew Breitbart’s video published yesterday of Shirley Sherrod apparently giving a tutorial on successful discrimination in federal program administration in a simple sarcastic posting, but it was short and I happened to watch it a second time, and then I began wondering about its editing.
A day later, everyone knows that all the wheels have come off of Andrew Breitbart’s discrimination story. (the Politico)
Breitbart was doing damage control, telling Talking Points Memo that he didn’t do the editing and was not even in possession of the full video when he launched the story. (sigh)
But the silver-lining in this unfortunate episode is that NYM was not alone in noticing the tricky editing. It was only to be expected that many blogs would be fooled. The truth is that everyone sometimes posts hastily without deep consideration of the material being passed along.
But the right-side of the blogosphere really does differ from the left with respect to honesty and responsibility.
The Anchoress was also paying attention yesterday, and her reservations received major attention because they were linked by Instapundit.
[Here’s] what is troubling me.
Doesnâ€™t it seem like, after all of that sort of winking, â€œyou and I know how they really areâ€ racist crap wherein Sherrodâ€“intentionally or notâ€“indicts her own narrow focus, she was heading to a more edifying message? What did it open her eyes about? Was she about to say â€œI took him to one of his own, but it shouldnâ€™t have mattered about that; my job was to serve all the farmers who needed help.â€
Was she about to say, â€œI learned about myself and about how far we still have to go?â€
Was she about to say â€œitâ€™s not poor vs those who have, because we are not at war, we are just in the same human reality that ever was?â€
Was she about to say, â€œpoor is poor, hungry is hungry and the past is the past when a family canâ€™t eat?â€
I want to know. Because it seemed like Sherrod was heading somewhere with that story, and the edit does not let us get there. I want the rest of the story before I start passing judgment on it. …
I want to see the rest of the tape. I cannot believe Sherrod ended on â€œI took him to one of his own.â€ Either she said something much worse after that (which we would have seen) or she said something much better.
If it was something â€œbetterâ€ then we should have seen that, too.
Before long, her skepticism was being echoed throughout the right side of the blogosphere. So much for Andrew Sullivan‘s “virulence of the far right.”
James Taranto, on the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, also noticed that editing and he had no doubts.
It seems to us that Sherrod got a bum deal in all this. While her description of her attitude toward the white farmer is indeed appalling, even in Breitbart’s video it is clear by the end that the story was one of having learned the error of her ways.
Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.
Congratulations to Shirley Sherrod on her vindication.
The LA Times finds that Italians have better political scandals.
Reporting from Rome â€” The governor made off to a monastery after having affairs with transsexuals, but not before the cops videotaped a tryst, all flesh and white powder, and offered to sell copies to a magazine owned by the prime minister, who, at the time, was rumored to be entangled with an underage Neapolitan model.
Then one of the transsexuals, a Brazilian named Brenda, turned up naked and dead, her laptop computer submerged under a running tap. Oh, yeah, and the drug dealer who supplied cocaine to the governor and Brenda would meet his own demise. It’s an odd coincidence.
Glenn Reynolds explains why the federal government has come to resemble Schlitz beer.
Leo Grin, at Big Hollywood has a four part essay on Werner Herzog, Timothy Treadwell, and “Grizzly Man” (2005). Pt1, Pt2, Pt3, Pt4.
Big Hollywood is promising more in-depth reviews of significant conservative films.
Glenn Reynolds yesterday found the above photo on the White Houses’s Flicker page and posted it (along with the enlarged detail below) inviting readers to “interpret the body language.”
Barack Obama has always been a mirror, reflecting back to individual members of the American public their own preconceptions, and the Instapundit selection provides a perfect opportunity for a wide range of interpretation.
I, for instance, thought Obama looked like the Godfather contemptuously rebuking an incompetent consigliere.
Over on Flicker, MCarrier1 thought Obama looked like James Bond.
Hot Air immediately launched a caption contest, where FishGov offered:
The Emperor Obama: [to the Senate] In order to ensure our security and continuing stability, the Republic will be reorganized into the first Galactic Empire, for a safe and secure society which I assure you will last for ten thousand years.
Biden: [to Emperor Obama] So this is how liberty diesâ€¦ with thunderous applause.
Ann Althouse, on the other hand, just thought The man is tired and it’s a way to get above it all. And that’s the other thing I see in that face: He’s tired and he’s floating above it all.
Andrew Sullivan had to puzzle for a while over what exactly Glenn Reynolds was trying to pull posting this cryptic photo, (a)nd then I realized why this photo immediately strikes some people are damning. Obama is a black man who looks as if he is condescending to a white man. That’s political gold.
In the case of John Edwards, as in the case of John Kerry before him, as in the affair of Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky still earlier, the mainstream media refrained from investigating or reporting unpleasant stories about their favored political leaders until widespread dissemination by alternative sources made the stories impossible to overlook.
Tom Maguire observes that Jerome Corsi, who wrote the book (Unfit for Command) which helped the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth sink John Kerry’s presidential hopes, has a new very recent book, The Obama Nation , currently ranking 7th in sales on Amazon. I’ve ordered a copy myself.
Tom mentions that Glenn Reynolds has been wondering what skeletons has Obama got in his personal closet that the media has so far been unwilling to investigate. The Corsi book is likely to point to a few, and that means the serious scrutiny of Barack Obama’s personal history, career, finances, and associations has only just begun.
For example, one of Tom Maguire’s commenters reports that the relationship between the Obamas and 1960s radicals William Ayres and Bernardine Dohrn was clearly rather more intimate than Obama himself represented in his “”a guy who lives in my neighborhood, who’s a professor of English in Chicago” dismissive description. He says that, to his personal knowledge, the Ayres babysat the Obama children.