Monday, April 20, 2015

Free Speechifyin' At Valdosta State

Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

All you conservatives and libertarians who worry about the Second and Fourth Amendment's survival have even more to worry about. The First is in trouble, too, no more so than where it should be virtually sacred. That would be universities and colleges. My last essay touched on this, in the context of the institutions protecting their fragile charges from the psychological violence of upsetting ideas--or, really, any ideas--that might be encountered between hookups,  beer pong and drug appreciation seminars. The latest example comes from Valdosta State University, a third-tier school whose administrators deployed the campus police to prevent a dangerous incident of free expression. 

The full story, such as it is, is linked above. In summary, a female USAF veteran (she's not labelled a student, so I assume she's not) named Michelle Manhart approached a group of demonstrators who were making a point about something or other by walking on an American flag. There's no statement from the protestors about their grievance, but in case you missed it in grade school civics, this action represents extreme disrespect for the flag and the country. Ms. Manhart, offended, took the flag away. This prompted the campus police to arrest Manhart and return the flag to the protesters. Manhart then "resisted arrest," presumably by struggling to get the flag back.* The upshot was that Manhart was issued a criminal trespass warning, which means she can't go back on campus and will miss football, graduation, 420 festivals, The Vagina Monologues, and other sources of intellectual discourse.

Reason magazine picked up the story and someone named Robby Soave wrote in praise of VSU for standing up for free speech. All you knee-jerk libertarians applauding out there, let's wait a minute. Oddly for people trying to make a point, the protestors declined to identify themselves, their group, or the object of their protest. Some overheard remarks suggested they were protesting "racism," plausible because everyone in the linked photo above was black. But why not say so? Why not make their arguments the way their grandparents did fifty years ago? You know, during that civil rights era, when it was worth your life to protest. In fact, it's not known if these kids were even VSU students; if not, they had no more right to be on the campus---but no less---than Manhart did.

It's accepted that actions may be a form of speech. Drama, dance, "performance art," hell, even porn. So, fine, walking on the flag, like burning it, is protected speech. But if actions are a form of speech, why isn't Manhart's action protected? Call what she did "nonverbal debate." She---one woman, remember---didn't offer violence to the group of several young men, she just walked up and took the flag off the ground. It suggests to me that in the course of promoting a particularly perverted form of "diversity" the VSU administration is very selective about whose First Amendment rights get protection.

Here's a suggestion: Let some VSU students, or even ordinary Valdosta residents, hold a counterdemonstration. They could parade with a flag, sing "America the Beautiful,"
"God Bless America," maybe even "The Star-Spangled Banner." Let veterans wear their uniforms. Or they could make an ISIS flag and trample it. Walk their dogs on it. That'd be especially offensive to Middle Easterners with jihadi sympathies. Oh, and finally, maybe some men could take part. There are some men in Valdosta, aren't there?

* A word of praise is due the VSU police. They didn't hurt her. If it'd been the NYPD she might be dead now.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

In Loco Parentis

"Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views." --William F. Buckley Jr.

The title phrase is Latin for "In place of parents." In my college days, circa 1962, it was the policy of many schools to act as a surrogate parent, watching out for the student's welfare. In practice this meant the imposition of various rules designed to protect the women's (assumed) virginity and, not coincidentally, prevent the kind of drunk-and-disorderly free for all that Animal House documented so well. Women were locked up in their dorms and sororities after 1 AM Friday and Saturday nights and after 10:30 PM (without special permission, extending until midnight) the rest of the week. Of course we had work-arounds, but these were variously uncomfortable and inconvenient. Trust me, "Makin' love in the green grass, behind the stadium" sounds better when Van Morrison sings about it than it felt in real life, what with ants, rocks, grass stains and all.
So what changed? The times, to quote another oldie. My awareness of the changes dates to the Free Speech Movement at UC Berkeley, though nobody knew what would come of it at the time. Back in 1964 UC students, apparently starved for intellectual debate and free expression, demonstrated, rioted and, as I recall, burned at least one police car. In central Illinois it mostly puzzled us, not being aware that our First Amendment rights were in any danger. Besides, for most of the year the weather was too nasty for us rabble to hang around outside and be roused. 
But those events marked, if they didn't create, a shift in the culture.There was the specious argument that "If 18 is old enough to be drafted then it's old enough to...." drink booze, vote, whatever. Lower drinking and voting ages, the end of campus purdah for women, radical politics as part of college life, all followed. Then The Pill, interesting drugs, and anti-war demonstrations. Pretty soon it was the 60's that everyone remembers, and "In loco parentis" was gone. For a while, anyway.
Time passed. The students of my generation got to be in charge and campuses were liberalized in every sense of the word. My generation's now retiring, our children are running things and our grandchildren are students. How's that working out? 
Well, binge drinking and drugs we never imagined are common and cheap. Sex, ditto. Don't believe me? Read the news, or better, "Texts From Last Night." Women participate as enthusiastically as men---well, some, anyway. It's hard to tell since those that don't, don't text about it. At the same time the news is full of "rape culture" stories, how booze and drugs fuel the abuse of innocent (but foolish) young women. It's hard to tell how real, or how serious, this is, since all the headline stories turn out to be lies.*
How about free speech, open discussion of controversial issues? Yeah, that's fine, as long as those ideas are "progressive." Try to introduce social or fiscal conservatism, or even some aspects of libertarian philosophy, and you're guilty of hate speech. Sure, you can say controversial things like "Maybe we shouldn't kill babies..." but only in the designated "free speech zones." Those are somewhere behind the stadium, where the green grass was torn up to build a parking lot for the new LBGTQ Center. In that center the intellectual consensus is typified by the idea that The Vagina Monologues is discriminatory because it doesn't include women without vaginas, i.e. transgendered men. If by some chance there is a conservative faculty member or student who speaks out, that person is treated pretty much the way Communists were in the 50's. Don't believe it? Ask Teresa Wagner, Mike Adams, and James Enstrom. Ask Ruth Malhotra and Orit Sklar, two brave young women who were vilified and threatened when they sued Georgia Tech over its speech code. (Where were the men? Well you may ask.)
What's the upshot? Welcome to In Loco Parentis on steroids. For sex, there are affirmative consent protocols requiring question-and-answer routines at every stage of sexual involvement. Pretty soon we'll have forms to be signed and notarized at each juncture, bringing a whole new meaning to "threesome." As to speech, now there are "trigger warnings" required in classes so students can flee with their ears covered in case they might hear something that "invalidates their experience." Students need "safe spaces" in which they can blow bubbles, squeeze Play-Doh, and watch puppy videos to recover from the trauma of disagreement. Students even need to be protected from "microaggressions," seemingly innocuous comments that might be interpreted by the ultra-sensitive as some sort of put-down. Consider the new Ithaca College tattletale policy, for instance. Question such dehumanizing idiocy, even if you're a card-carrying liberal feminist, and you get the same kind of treatment the conservatives do. Ask Laura Kipnis. 
In short, what we have is the university acting in loco of the very worst kind of helicopter parentis, making what is laughably called higher education into the very worst kind of preschool swaddling. 
For almost everybody, that is. There seems to be one exception to all this tender concern.
Jews. Colleges readily invite the most vile antisemitism on the part of Boycott, Divest and Sanction advocates. That's under the cover of sympathy for the poor distressed Palestinians---you know, the ones who shoot rockets into Israel. The ones who celebrated in the streets on 9/11/01. Hamas. Hezbolla. Those people. Jews apparently don't need safe spaces and are ineligible to report micro- or even macro- aggressions. Colleges are, on the one hand, infantilizing a whole generation of students and on the other, breeding a new generation, less disciplined but just as enthusiastic, of Hitler Youth. 
No, it's not the 60's anymore. Welcome to 1933.

* Here's one that wasn't. It's worth noting that it didn't happen at a frat party and wasn't reported by the woman, who might have been drugged. It hardly fits the Rolling Stone model, and since the accused rapists are black I doubt if there'll be any liberal white media outrage. 

Friday, April 10, 2015

I'm Back; Sheepdogs Revisited, Again

Preface: I'm back. Why the long hiatus? Because I felt that I didn't have anything unique to say. Amidst the multitude of crimes, horrors, disasters, humiliations, and follies visited upon the world by preening elites, spittle-spewing ideologues, and their mass-murdering followers, words failed me. So why now? Because several people, all at least as smart as I am and all demonstrably more accomplished in important ways, said they wished I would. So, in all humility, here goes. I trust that my friends, colleagues and thoughtful readers will correct any mistakes, and not be shy about offering contrary opinions. After all, that's what being a provocateur is about.

                                                    Sheepdogs Revisited, Again

You might remember my earlier essay* about the "sheepdog" concept, the idea that we armed citizens are, or should be, protectors of the peaceful, passive, fearful sheep who comprise most of the population. I thought it was a bad idea then, and still do. On March 25 in Cobb County (a suburban area northwest of Atlanta) a local man proved to be an ideal sheepdog, capturing a bank robber and holding him for police. According to the story, he followed the robber outside, retrieved his pistol from his car, and held the robber prone at gunpoint until the law arrived. 
So far, so good. If I was that citizen I'd have rushed to the nearest convenience store and bought a lottery ticket. Just one, because with luck like his one is all he'd need. There were many possible outcomes to this story, all bad. Our citizen got the only good one. Let's consider this incident step by step:

1. In the bank. 
The robbery takes place, probably via the crook handing a threatening note to the teller. The news doesn't mention a weapon in his hands, and most bank robberies seem to happen this way. The robber then runs out, pursued by our citizen.
Question: Was anyone threatened at this point? No. The robber was fleeing.
Question: Was the robber armed? At this point it's unknown. What we do know, and what our citizen should have known, is that lethal force is only justified, morally or legally, if there is a threat of death or severe bodily harm to the defender or another, e.g. a bystander or victim.
Question: Was our citizen justified in proactively pursuing the robber and, by the way, brandishing his pistol? No.

2. Outside the bank. 
Details are sketchy, but it seems our citizen ordered the crook at gunpoint to halt and get on the ground. There are photos, taken by a passerby, with the story.
Question: What would have happened if our crook had been armed and had fired on the citizen? It doesn't look like either took cover, so it's reasonable to imagine a running gunfight would ensue. Unlike the movies, most bullets in these situations miss their targets. They wind up somewhere, though. Since the photographer was driving by we can assume that there was a street in front of the bank, which means traffic, and likely homes or shops around. There's at least a reasonable chance bullets would have wound up in some passers-by, some shoppers, somebody, even if not in the proverbial busload of gifted orphans and nuns. Further, it wouldn't matter if the bullets were fired by our good citizen or the felon, because the citizen initiated the fight. He would at least share responsibility with the crook.
Question:  What would our citizen have done if, when ordered to stop, the crook took off running? Police can't legally shoot under those circumstances, and neither can anyone else.
So there's our would-be sheepdog looking silly with a pistol in his hand. (Yes, I am assuming our citizen isn't stupid or depraved enough to shoot the robber in the back.) Now imagine the police roll up on a bank robbery call. Nothing good will happen here. 
Question: What would happen if the crook turned and physically attacked our citizen? If there had been a "disparity of force," e.g. if the crook were enough bigger than our citizen, or there were two or more crooks, shooting might be justified. If the crook were armed with a contact weapon, a knife, club, monkey wrench or whatever, again there's justification.  But remember, our citizen initiated the conflict and was visibly armed. I don't know what a lawyer might make of that but in no way is our citizen going to get sent home with a handshake. Oh, and there's still the problem of all those stray bullets.
An ignorant person might argue that an unarmed person wouldn't refuse to obey someone holding a gun. Wrong. It happens to police all the time.

3. After the robbery. 
Question: Suppose our citizen, for one reason or another, shoots the felon. Suppose further
(this being Georgia) that the district attorney and/or a grand jury rule the shooting justified. Home free, right? Not so fast. Welcome to Ferguson, with every race pimp in the country denouncing our good citizen as an evil bigot who jumped at the chance to cut down a black man (Yes, he is. Look at the photos.) Our dead or merely wounded felon is now a "troubled youth" or a disadvantaged striver beaten down by the evil racist capitalist system.
Question: How would you like to have your home surrounded by a hostile mob chanting "Black Lives Matter"? If they can invade trendy brunches in painfully progressive Decatur, GA, they can show up in our hero's subdivision. And his place of work, for that matter. Imagine how happy his family, neighbors, boss and coworkers would be.
Question: How prepared do you suppose our citizen is for a protracted lawsuit? If the felon is wounded he and his family might well sue. If he dies the family certainly will. A plaintiff's attorney costs them nothing, remember. Sure, our citizen will likely win but it will make him miserable for a long time and cost a fortune.
Question: How do you suppose our citizen, having shot the felon, will do in the press, already prejudiced against gun owners? Remember the mob and the race pimps above? Add TV news and print reporters, with their various agendas. Sound like fun?

4. My advice.
Question: So what should our citizen (and by implication, you) do in a situation like the one we're discussing? In the absence of an active threat, memorize details of the robber's appearance and behavior. If you can safely observe a getaway car, assuming there is one, get a description---make, model, color, license number----then call 911 and give this information to the police. You'll likely have to give this information to the officers that show up, and could very well have to be a prosecution witness. Not the stuff of movies, but a good citizen's duty nevertheless.
In preparation, get some training. Learn to tell the difference between a situation requiring violent acton, one requiring careful observation, and those in between. Read news articles and the NRA's Armed Citizen column. Imagine yourself in those situations, planning in advance what you'd do. Visualize alternative scenarios guided by legal, moral and tactical realities, not action-hero fantasies. Get feedback from people who know. Join the Armed Citizens' Legal Defense Network and study the material they send with membership.
Also, unlike our citizen, keep your gun with you! If the robber was really violent, if he produced a weapon and started ordering customers into a back room, if he hurt someone, that's when you need to take action. That gun in the car might just as well have been on Mars for all the good it would have done in the face of real violence. They're called concealed weapons for a reason. Finally, take off the collar. You're not Rin Tin Tin.

* Which was kindly picked up by Greg Ellifritz for his excellent Active Response Training blog and then referenced on the Defensive forum.

Friday, September 6, 2013


“Don’t hit at all if it is honorably possible to avoid hitting; but never hit soft.” 
Theodore Roosevelt

I hesitated to write about Syria, because I have neither military nor foreign policy expertise.* But then, neither does the guy ostensibly in charge, the one whose metaphorical Commander-in-Chief uniform fits him like a clearance-bin Halloween costume and promotes just as much respect. So, here it is.

The question is whether to intervene is Syria's civil war or not. The case for intervention rests on Assad's (alleged) uniquely brutal use of chemical weapons on the civilian population. This action is so terrible, so inhumane, so revolting that it demands retaliation. That is, whenever we get around to it. Someday, maybe, when all the speeches are done.

Imagine this: Four corpses, murder victims, lie at your feet. One was shot, one stabbed, one blown apart by a bomb, and one poisoned. Which one is more dead? Right. So why are we in such high moral dudgeon over these killings when we've ignored all the others that can be unambiguously laid at Assad's door? If we're to intervene at all it has to be for a good reason, defending the vital interests of the American people and our allies. Causing death and suffering to avoid even more in the future is justifiable, however gut-wrenching it may be to most of us. Ask Harry Truman or William T. Sherman. 

Before we do anything to cause such suffering, to our own people as well as others, we have to have a clear objective and a plan for realizing it. So far I've not heard any, from either the executive branch or Congress. Don't ask me to trust the judgement, competence, or even the good intentions of any of them--not when Obama, Kerry, and the "leaders" of both parties have been engaged in an endless political circle-jerk of solemn pronouncements and press releases.  Like less public forms of masturbation, this may be amusing to those lacking maturity and interpersonal skills, but it's ultimately unproductive. It also leaves you with a mess on your hands.

Let's face the truth: the idea of a "limited yet decisive"strike is not only oxymoronic, it's just plain moronic. It exists only in John Kerry's famously nuanced imagination. Any such limited action is, and will be perceived to be, a mincing, limp-wristed slap on the arm of a sneering bully. It will only empower the Islamists and encourage Vlad ("The Impaler") Putin, not to mention lesser thugs. 

If we take any action at all it must be broad, firm, and final. More of our own people will die, more will be maimed, more American families will suffer, and whatever our people experience will be magnified a thousandfold among the Syrian people. That's the way war works, even the "little" ones. Whatever we do must ultimately save lives--ours and theirs--to justify such losses. So we either fight to win or stay out of it altogether. Personally, I'd stay out, following Napoleon's advice not to interrupt your enemy while he's making a mistake. But if we're going to fight we have to know in advance what winning would look like. 

To that end, I propose six military objectives and a final diplomatic action:

1. Kill Assad.
2. Kill all of Assad's enablers and supporters.
3. Kill all of their enablers and supporters.

Then turn on the rebels and:

4. Kill all the Islamist, Jihadist, and al-Queda affiliated leaders.
5. Kill all their enablers and supporters.
6. Kill all their enablers and supporters.

When these objectives have been accomplished, employing the rules of engagement we followed in, say, Normandy or on Okinawa, turn to the remaining rebels and say, more or less:

"We're leaving now. It's your country to run as you like, except that you must follow these three rules.
1. Leave Israel alone.
2. Leave the Christians alone.
3. Quit supporting Hezbolla and sucking up to Iran.

If you break any of these rules, even a little, we'll be back."

The Iranians might note that they're no longer immune. The Russians will huff and puff but can't push the issue. The rest of the world? They'll know the grownups are back in charge.

* Two who do are Michael Yon and Daniel Greenfield. Neither may agree with the above but that doesn't lessen my respect for them.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Talking About Race

If you're not a part of the solution, there's good money to be made in prolonging the problem.
Despair, Inc.

We hear a lot, recently, about the need to have a "racial conversation." Some use the Zimmerman/Martin case and its aftermath as the immediate stimulus, although those people have been conspicuously silent about Christopher Lane,  Delbert Benton, and the beating of a white 13 year old on his school bus. Now that it's been 50 years since the March on Washington and King's "I have a dream" speech, the calls for dialogue are redoubling in frequency and intensity.

I say horse manure. In fact, more conversation about race is the very last thing the United States needs. First consider this: given that these calls emanate from people with an ax to grind, what's the likely outcome of such a conversation? An airing of grievances and then polarization as those on all sides rehearse their talking points and refute their opponents'. As a result, each position becomes more extreme, more hardened. How, exactly, is that going to make anything better for anyone except those who profit from racial hostility?

Second, what would this conversation be about? There is no satisfactory definition of race, so who is to be included, and as what? You can't limit the conversation to "people with some African ancestry" and "people with mostly European ancestry." What about the Indians (both American and South Asian?) How about those with ancestors from East Asia? Polynesia? Then there are my people, the Jews, who may or may not be a "race" depending on who (and when) you ask. Let's not forget those of Latin American descent, with varying admixtures of Spanish, American Indian and African genetic and cultural heritage. That doesn't make them a unique race, you say? Tell "La Raza."

Not confused yet? Just wait, because lumping any of these people into one category is not only intellectually incorrect but will get you into major trouble if you do it to their faces. Don't believe me? Tell a Japanese, Korean, Mongolian, Han Chinese, Cantonese, or Tibetan that they're all alike because they're "Asians" and see what it gets you.Do the same with a "Polynesian" Samoan, Fijian, Maori or Hawaiian and expect a severe thumping. Likewise a "Native American" Lakota, Dine', Iroquois, Inuit---or an Italian, German, Irish or Swedish "European." In Africa you confuse Hutu, Tutsi, Zulu, Bantu, Yoruba, etc. at your great peril. Mexicans are not Cubans are not Salvadorans are not Venezuelans are not Brazilians, either. In short, "race" is a sometimes-useful, if fuzzy, concept for some purposes, but for a social conversation it's nonsense. 

Hell, we can't even agree on who's "really" black and who's white. For instance, American, African, and Caribbean black people don't like one another.  Apparently, dark-complexioned folks of Caribbean origin aren't "black" in the sense that term is typically used. A man with one European and one African parent is "the first black president," however, despite the fact that he neither has ancestors who were slaves on this continent nor experienced a moment of Jim Crow discrimination. Then there's George Zimmerman, the "white Hispanic. " He had to somehow be labelled "white" to create a racial incident out of a sad rainy-night scuffle. This label incidentally informs a lot of people proud of their Spanish ancestry that they're not white.

Jesus (who was likely an olive-skinned, Aramaic-speaking, Middle Eastern Jew) wept.

Third, if we can't have a meaningful conversation about race, what can we discuss? What about problems that we all share, as Americans? Bigotry, for instance, which knows no ethnic or genetic boundaries but is used by cynical politicians and other charlatans to divide us for their profit? Crime, which makes all of us suffer while it feeds bigotry? The absolutely dismal state of education at every level from preschool through post-graduate studies? Terrorism and radical Islam? Don't like these? Supply your own---there's plenty to go around.
The important thing is that we approach these problems as Americans first and foremost. I guarantee that if the dream of Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Adams, Madison and the rest disappears, Martin Luther King's will, too.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

I Love Big Nanny

"The dignity of man is not shattered in a single blow, but slowly softened,
bent, and eventually neutered.  Men are seldom forced to act, but are
constantly restrained from acting.  Such power does not destroy outright,
but prevents genuine existence.  It does not tyrannize immediately, but it
dampens, weakens,  and ultimately suffocates, until the entire population
is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid, uninspired animals, of
which  the government is shepherd."
Alexis de Tocqueville 

The nanny-statists are at it again, led by "behavioral economist" Cass Sunstein, Obama's erstwhile regulatory czar. Dressed in his best Mary Poppins outfit, merrily humming "A Spoonful of Sugar," he's busy advocating the oxymoronic philosophy of "libertarian paternalism" in such notably libertarian outlets as the New York Review of Books and the New Republic. Echoed by columnists like David Brooks, most recently in the Aug. 12 Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the basic idea in this latest metamorphosis of Progressive philosophy
is that people shouldn't be forced into doing what some philosopher-king thinks is good for them (i.e. "ends paternalism.") Rather, they should be "nudged" via subtle manipulations based on what research shows are the normal flaws and shortcuts in their judgement processes (i.e. "means paternalism.") In essence, he argues that government should do what advertisers, chain retailers, internet providers and other commercial interests do already. For instance, food stores create displays at the end of aisles, knowing that shoppers see these as reduced-price displays and often don't bother to check the actual cost. Likewise, people are often required to "opt out" of contract provisions rather than being given the opportunity to add them, which inspires more thought. You get the idea, and if you want more details the links above will let you opt in.

On the surface this approach seems innocuous, even benevolent. That's what you're being nudged to think. The framing of a manipulative policy with an adjective implying freedom is evidence of that. Let's do a little systematic thinking:
Sunstein and his cohorts are engaging in a common academic practice, presenting one-sided and exaggerated data. The research they cite is from the "heuristics and biases" literature, popular among professors because its conclusions are that ordinary people aren't too thoughtful (versus professors) and because the results were, originally, counterintuitive. Essentially the argument is that people use shortcuts and estimates when making judgements. These then differ from what economists have defined as "rationality,"  making them flawed.

There are at least four problems with this line of reasoning. First, the original research on which these statements depend is entirely laboratory-based, using undergraduates to make judgements about things with which they have little personal involvement. Even studies of actual shoppers concern minor purchases, things that prompt minimal thought at best. Furthermore, the size of the effects---the difference the manipulations make in behavior---is small, though statistically reliable.

Second, Sunstein and friends ignore an entire domain of contrary research showing that the shortcuts they deplore are actually useful and efficient in everyday life. If one takes an evolutionary perspective this isn't surprising, but since the paternalists are committed to their intelligent design position the last thing they want to hear about is the beauty of natural selection.

Intelligent design requires designers and administrators, and that's the next big problem. Who gets to design and run the "libertarian paternalist" system? One guess. Now---what is the goal of these designers and administrators? Throughout history, there have been two:
power and money. Of course, they're really the same, because if you have one you have the other. Governments and bureaucrats always want more power, more influence. It's how they grow, and the fortunes of each member are tied to that growth. So there's always more to be done, more problems to solve, and that requires more people, more money, more regulations
that give rise to more status.

Then there's the interesting question of what you nudge people to do.  Even if we make the Pollyanna-class assumption of honest selflessness on the part of academics, legislators, executives elected or appointed, bureaucrats and so forth, what makes anyone think they'll know? For instance, tobacco used to be a minor vice; now it's the Devil's weed. Marijuana is fast becoming the recreational drug of the future, a harmless happy pastime rather than the gateway to lifelong addiction and degradation it was in the 1950's. Obesity is the new health menace, replacing anorexia and bulimia. Today's automobile is the carbon-belching destroyer of the environment that enables deadly urban sprawl. It used to be a source of personal freedom and an industrial mainstay of middle-class prosperity. 

That Sunstein and his faux-libertarian friends are fundamentally totalitarian is revealed, finally, by their academic cherrypicking. If they were interested in promoting freedom and human welfare they'd be asking how government might promote active, thoughtful deliberation where that would actually be helpful. We know ways to overcome harmful biases, to defeat manipulation, to make judgements as good as they can be given fallible information and a changing world. Yet all these self-appointed saviors can do is substitute  manipulation by government for that of other self-interested organizations. And, let's not forget, government claims a monopoly on the use of force. What do you suppose happens when psychological nudges prove ineffective? Nudging with bayonets is crude, to be sure, but we'll have Sunstein to remind us that it's for our own good.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Zimmerman case, by someone who really knows.

I felt the need to write more about the Zimmerman case until I read Michael Yon's essay:
It's better, more thoughtful and more truthful, than I could have written, better than anyone else has written, and deserves your attention.