"The domestic basis of American power," Lawfare, by Francis Fukuyama
"What's gone wrong with democracy," The Economist
"The dangers of democracy," The New York Review of Books, by John Gray [Review of The Confidence Trap: A History of Democracy from World War I to the Present, by David Runciman]
"Refusing to photograph a gay wedding isn't hateful," The Atlantic, by Conor Friedersdorf
"How do you upset the French? Gender theory: An American academic import inspires mass protests," Boston Globe, by Robert Zaretsky
"Trigger happy: The 'trigger warning' has spread from blogs to college classes. Can it be stopped?" The New Republic, by Jenny Jarvie
"My life as a writer," The New York Times [Philip Roth interviewed]
The meddling of the US and the EU has produced nothing but chaos.
Read my spiked article in full here.
"The terms of our surrender," New York Times, by Ross Douthat
"This is no recovery, this is a bubble - and it will burst," The Guardian, by Ha-Joon Chang
"Forget what the pundits tell you, coastal cities are old news - it's the sunbelt that's booming," Daily Beast, by Joel Kotkin
"Personal score-settling is now the climate agenda," Wall Street Journal, by Holman Jenkins
"The gentrification of Spike Lee," New York Daily News, by Errol Louis
"The post-Protestant ethic and spirit of America," The American, by Joseph Bottum
"Chicago's own funny man," Chicago Sun-Times, by Richard Roeper [on Harold Ramis]
A corrupt leader, relying on police and military for support, is in power. Protesters who take to the streets, and get beaten back by riot police, must represent the people and democracy, right? No, not necessarily, and Ukraine is an example of how that simplistic logic doesn’t always hold.
The overthrow of the government in Ukraine led by President Viktor Yanukovich is not something to celebrate. There should be no sympathy for the corrupt and illiberal Yanukovich, but that doesn’t make his opponents democrats. Bad as he was (it’s probably fair to speak of him in the past tense now), Yanukovich was in power thanks to a democratic election. The protesters in Kiev's Maidan did not represent a mobilization of the masses of Ukraine – it’s fairly clear that they were supported mainly in the west region of the country, with many in the east and south opposed if not hostile to them (and it’s not evident at all whether a majority of the country as a whole were supportive of the protesters). Yanukovich’s government did adopt illiberal laws, limiting freedom of speech and assembly and placing fewer constraints on executive power, but that did not make him a “dictator”, as some overblown descriptions have it. This was not a popular uprising, nor was the overthrow of the government required because it could not have been removed via normal democratic channels.
We shouldn’t be naïve about street protests, whether in Ukraine, the Middle East or in the West. Just because a group is protesting a corrupt government doesn’t mean they have progressive or liberty-favoring ideas. Kiev itself shows that, as the protesters included neo-Nazis, nationalists and cranks (as well as genuine liberals).
Furthermore, people do have a right to protest, to assemble and speak out, but they do not have a right to occupy a public space on a permanent, on-going basis. Groups that set up such camps - even Occupy types in the West - are effectively throwing down a challenge to the government about who runs society. Such a challenge might be necessary at times, especially if the occupiers have the mass of people behind them and there is no alternative, but those who do so shouldn’t be shocked when they are eventually confronted by the police or military. As it happens, street occupiers sometimes know full well what they are in for: at times they are an unrepresentative minority that seeks to prod the government into responding in a heavy-handed, repressive manner in order to gain sympathy and support that they are not able to achieve through public debate or the ballot box.
In Ukraine, the dismissal of a democratically-elected leader and the overriding of the constitution via street protests establish a questionable precedent. This may come into play in the future, given the lack of unity among the different factions that comprise the protesters. As George Friedman of Stratfor perceptively notes about the situation in Ukraine: Continue reading→
"Mann vs. Steyn: the trial of the century," Real Clear Politics, by Robert Tracinski
"Fear and loathing at Wellesley," Wall Street Journal, by Lenore Skenazy
"Should neo-Nazis be allowed free speech?" The Daily Beast, by Thane Rosenbaum
"Why mass shootings haven't ushered in a new age of gun control," Reason, by Jesse Walker
"How to save marriage in America," The Atlantic, by Richard Reeves
"America's deportation machine: the great expulsion," The Economist
"Scientism in the arts and humanities," The New Atlantis, by Roger Scruton
Deciding whether to open schools in the face of bad weather is often a no-win situation. Keep them open and some people will complain about having to trudge through the snow. Close them, and some parents will complain about having to find childcare.
On balance, the bias should be towards trying to keep cities operating, including keeping schools open. Too often, whether for snow or hurricanes or some other inclement weather, mayors just shut everything down in the name of "better safe than sorry".
It's pretty clear what's motivating certain critics of De Blasio: they want to portray the new mayor as a head-in-the-clouds liberal ideologue who is incompetent when it comes to the basic operations of local government, such as snow removal and school closings. But this is taking the easy way out: they want the snow itself to bring De Blasio down a peg. The way to challenge De Blasio is through political arguments, not his handling of relatively rare weather events.
In the Washington Post, Radley Balko reports on the unsettling story of Justin Carter, an 18-year old in Texas, who a year ago was arrested, put in jail and charged with a felony based on comments he posted on Facebook.
In February 2013, about two months after the Sandy Hook school shooting in Connecticut, Clark posted some comments that appear to be related to a game called League of Legends. In response to someone calling him "crazy", Clark wrote: "I'm fucked in the head alright, I think I'ma SHOOT UP A KINDERGARTEN [sic]." That was followed with "AND WATCH THE BLOOD OF THE INNOCENT RAIN DOWN."
According to The Houston Press, which reported the original story:
That's when someone in Canada — an individual as yet unidentified in court records — notified local authorities. Because Carter's profile listed him as living in Austin [Texas], the Canadians sent the tip to the Austin Police Department. Along with a cell-phone screenshot of part of the thread and a link to Carter's Facebook page, the tipster provided this narrative: "This man, Justin Carter, made a number of threats on Facebook to shoot up a class of kindergartners...He also made numerous comments telling people to go shoot themselves in the face and drink bleach. The threats to shoot the children were made approximately an hour ago [sic]."
As Balko says, Clark's comments were "vivid and harsh. They're also pretty clearly just a kid talking trash." Clark's lawyer, Dan Flanary, says "the whole thing is totally and completely bonkers." There appears to be no evidence other than a screenshot of snippets of comments back and forth between Clark and others. The entire discussion thread isn't part of the evidence - and of course, context is vitally important in understanding the meaning. Beyond that, there's no evidence that Clark was actually planning an attack: Continue reading→
Jerry Seinfeld has an online series called "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee". It's pretty funny.
But some people aren't laughing, because they're unhappy that Seinfeld has featured white male comedians (even though they are not all white males - he's had Chris Rock and Tina Fey, for example, on the show). In a recent interview, Seinfeld was asked about that, and he was unapologetic:
People think it's the Census or something... I mean, this has gotta represent the actual pie chart of America? Who cares? Funny is the world I live in. You’re funny, I’m interested. You’re not funny, I’m not interested. I have no interest in gender or race or anything like that. But everyone else is kind of, with their calculating — is this the exact right mix? I think that’s — to me it’s anti-comedy. It’s more about PC-nonsense.
No, wrong answer, say some. In an op-ed for CNN, LZ Granderson says Seinfeld doesn't "get" diversity:
'PC nonsense,' to use Seinfeld's words, is employing unqualified women and minorities for the sake of fulfilling an HR checkbox. But 'PC nonsense' is also being challenged for not including women and minorities and then pretending you don't see race or gender, only shades of comedy. In a country that is 51% women and 37% minority, living in a city (New York) that is 53% women and 66% minority, saying something like that just sounds stupid.
Alice Jones in the British newspaper The Independent writes that Seinfeld "race rant" is "no laughing matter": "Seinfeld might live in a 'world of funny' but there is a real world out there too that no 21st-century comedian worth his or her salt should ignore." Gawker's Kyle Chayka says: "Comedy should represent the entire pie chart of America, and the glorious, multicolored diversity pie should be thrown directly at Jerry Seinfeld's face."
These po-faced comments prove Seinfeld's point about PC being "anti-comedy". "Political correctness" started 20-plus years ago, and was widely ridiculed, made fun of on comedy shows even... and yet, here we are, still living with it, it refuses to die. PC is a tyranny whose enforcers will not let any area of life - no matter how unpolitical or personal - live free from their watchful eye. Way to go Jerry, keep speaking your mind.
"The tyranny and lethargy of the Times editorial page," New York Observer, by Ken Kurson
"The end of American exceptionalism," National Journal, by Peter Beinart
"Why so much anarchy?" Stratfor, by Robert D. Kaplan
"How a few monster tech firms are taking over everything from media to space travel and what it means for the rest of us," The Daily Beast, by Joel Kotkin
"The fact-free opposition to Keystone XL," The American, by Benjamin Zycher
"Bigger than Phil: when did faith start to fade?" The New Yorker, by Adam Gopnik
"Why Bach moves us," The New York Review of Books, by George B. Stauffer
This post has now been re-published in spiked – go here.
In the name of supporting Dylan Farrow, commentators have unleashed a wave of prejudice and intolerance against Woody Allen.
There is so much that is very illiberal and disturbing ...