Category: Close Looks (Page 1 of 3)

Mises Institute editor calls for kicking out immigrants (and citizens) from military

Ryan McMaken, editor of the Mises Instute’s Mises Wire, takes issue with my July 9, 2015 article for The Federalist supporting the inclusion of aspiring immigrants in the military. The naturalization-by-fighting program has resulted in over 100,000 patriotic Americans becoming officially recognized as Americans. Now there are reports that some immigrant-soldiers in the process of serving are being discharged (though the nature and extent of such discharges is disputed).

McMaken (link to his article) characterizes the military as both a handout and a “jobs program.” The idea that the military should be treated as a jobs program is something I fiercely disagree with, which was the point of my article. Congressmen were arguing against allowing non-citizens to become soldiers on the basis that it might deny American-born citizens a job. McMaken accurately quoted a representative excerpt: “I’m not worried about the country or origin of those who are fighting to defend us. What matters is that our military is as strong as it can be.”

McMaken thinks that the military is actually treated as a jobs program by legislators and officials. To the extent that it is, I oppose such treatment, as I wrote.

McMaken writes, “The rub, however, is that military spending doesn’t actually improve the economy.” I basically agree with him. Military spending shouldn’t be about improving the economy. It should be about buying a product.

However, while McMaken chooses a nice excerpt, he did not accurately characterize my position:

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Resolving the “52% of white women voted for Trump” question

“White women voted for Trump!” Both Trump supporters, trying to defend him from charges of his blatant misogyny, and identitarian Trump critics, trying to condemn white women, will cite this fact. Is it true? Is it meaningful?

Yes, a majority of white women did in fact vote for Trump. Just as they had voted for Romney, McCain, and Bush before him. White people vote Republican. The Republican candidate won the white vote in every election since 1976, according to data available at Cornell University’s Roper Center For Public Opinion Research. (The data only goes back to 1976.)

A majority of white women also voted for the Republican in the 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016 election, elections for white CNN exit poll data was easily available. (Roper University data doesn’t break down gender by race, as CNN exit polls do.) In 1996, with Ross Perot running for president as a third-party, 43 percent of white women voted for Dole, and 48 percent for Clinton, while Dole won 49 percent of the white male vote. (2000’s exit polls did not appear to break down the racial vote by gender.)

Trump’s 52 percent share of the white women vote was the worst since 1996. Bush (2004), McCain, and Romney all exceeded 52 percent of the white women vote.

At the same time, the white male vote remains unchanged from 2004, so the gap between the white male vote and the white female vote continues to increase.

In short, Trump did win the white female vote, but that doesn’t imply that his sexism didn’t cost him anything or that white women are particularly supportive of Trump. White women were less supportive of Trump than they were of previous Republican presidential candidates.

A similar misleading narrative is at work when people argue that Trump performed well with minority voters, despite the fact that he had the second worst performance with minorities on record, as Bombs + Dollars has previously shown.

Data below:

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Free speech ≠ forced speech; Facebook can and should control its own platform

Conservatives are playing victim once again and whining about yet another instance of some supposed anti-“conservative” bias by a company. Now it’s Facebook apparently limiting the reach of “Diamond and Silk” on Facebook’s own network. It is important to put “conservative” in quote marks here. Diamond and Silk are a pair of Trump surrogates, named Lynnette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson, who speak at Trump campaign rallies, sell Trump merchandise, appear on racist white supremacist radio shows, and make pro-Trump videos. Like many of the pro-Trump social media genre, they don’t talk about conservative policies or appear to have any considered beliefs. They can hardly be called conservatives.

I quote a brief excerpt just to illustrate:

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blockquote>”This week’s bowl of stupid goes to Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. Both of these here two morons exhibiting moronic behavior. Now, this one right here, Chuck Schumer done shut down the government because he is trying to tie DACA to the government spending bill. Now we gotta fund the government. Now what he want to do is he want to not fund the government and he want to fight for these DACA [inaudible] that’s illegal aliens that’s in our country and not fight for the American People.

Really, high-brow stuff. Intellect on level with the president of the United States. If this is what American Senators (Ted Cruz) are spending official time asking Mark Zuckerberg about during Congressional testimony, we must fear for our republic.

Editors need to control what they publish in their papers, and platforms need to control what they publish and broadcast just the same. Facebook is a private company with its own network and its own algorithms, and somehow people think that they should have full control over someone else’s platform. One week ago, an extreme lunatic shot up the YouTube offices because she was upset that her ad revenue declined after an algorithm change. Ben Shapiro is moaning that Facebook’s apparent algorithm changes to improve the quality of its feed are supposedly impacting him and other low-quality viral conservative pages.

“Toleration implies the existence of a distinctive procedure for testing ideas… It has nothing to do with a cacophony of screaming fakers marketing political nostrums in the public square.” – Barrington Moore

What these entitled outrage-mongers forget is that it’s Facebook’s network in the first place! How did they think their websites were getting so much traffic? Facebook created an algorithm in the first place that favored low-quality clickbait bullshit. They benefited from it and molded their websites and their social presences to leverage it. Now they talk about Facebook trying to “control” what we read; Facebook already was controlling what was showing up in our feeds. The 2016 election showed just how destructive this kind of viral garbage, partisan hackery, and outright lies and conspiracy theories can be to the quality of our public discourse.

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State of the Union highlights: Trump’s unpatriotic appropriation of the flag

Donald Trump attacked free speech in his first State of the Union address (and second speech to Congress) on January 30. As usual, he tried to claim the mantle of patriotism by referencing acts and words of others whose values he himself doesn’t appear to share.

In one case, he returned to one of his greatest hits tracks: the national anthem and attacking those NFL players who have been taking a knee to protest.

Preston’s [referring to a 12-year-old boy, Preston Sharp, who put flags in front of veterans’ graves] reverence for those who have served our nation…

It is worth noting here, that reverence for veterans is not something Trump shares with Preston. Trump has diminished the sacrifices of veterans, referring to John McCain as a “loser” for having served something larger than himself, and saying of prisoners of war, “I like people who weren’t captured.”

Trump doesn’t understand why anyone would be an official, because he doesn’t understand serving the public

…reminds us why we salute our flag, why we put our hands on our hearts for the pledge of allegiance, and why we proudly stand for the national anthem.

Context and subtext are inseparable from meaning. That’s why Trump can say, “It’s big enough. Believe me,” and people know what he’s meaning without him saying it directly. Communication would be an impossible task if people didn’t include context and subtext in their analysis of meaning. (And, indeed, Trump’s speechwriters and supporters do so, too, even if they feign otherwise when it suits them.)

In this case, the context is clear. Trump has been attacking Colin Kaepernick and other football players who have been taking a knee to protest, both in support of #BlackLivesMatter and, later, in protest to Trump’s attacks on free speech. Trump lashed out and called for the firing of any player who takes a knee. He has also issued words of support for criminalizing burning the flag with punishments up to loss of citizenship.

In this case, by proclaiming “stand[ing] for the national anthem” as something “we” do, he is saying anyone who does otherwise is deviantly violating the rules and norms of our society. In fact, the vast majority of people already do stand, and it wouldn’t even be an issue in the NFL anymore if Trump hadn’t made it an issue (the number of players kneeling in solidarity increased hugely after his attacks), and anyone who kneels isn’t actually disrespecting veterans or causing any material harm. (The only potential harm they might be causing is offending—or annoying—people who are offended by words and speech, and Trump says he is against political correctness.)

Trump doesn’t have to say he’s specifically attacking those who protest, nor does he need to issue the threat, which he has already made clear in the past, any more than a triad collector needs to spell out what happens if you don’t pay your protection fee.

Of course the Republicans gave Trump a standing ovation for this bit of low brow refuge-seeking.

Even divorcing the words from all context, they are empty drivel not worthy of applause, much less ovation. Any president and any politician and the vast majority spectators do the ceremonial standing at the sound of the anthem. It doesn’t require any sacrifice. It doesn’t help the soldiers injured in Iraq and those still serving in Afghanistan and elsewhere. At best it is a symbolic gesture, and at worst, as in Trump’s State of the Union, it is a manipulative appropriation of a symbol of patriotism used to prop up a man who values the flag only for what political value it might bring him.

Feature photo by Shealah Craighead, official White House photographer. Public domain.

Peter W. Smith’s blog revealed

Smith defended Trump, attacked Russia investigation as “tinfoil hat” conspiracy theory on personal blog

Peter W. Smith, the Republican operative who was trying to obtain Clinton emails from hackers, kept a blog until shortly before he ended his life, where he strenuously defended President Donald Trump and the Republicans from allegations about the Russia investigation.

On the day before Smith committed suicide in a Rochester, Minnesota hotel room, he posted, “Three Agencies, Not 17, Behind Russian Interference Allegations.” The post calls the Russia investigation “just part of the Democratic storyline that Hillary Clinton had the election stolen from her by Russian interference” and criticizes the directors of the FBI, CIA, and NSA as “all are suspect in terms of their credibility.”

It was one of eight blog posts Smith wrote defending Trump from Russian interference-related allegations or raising questions about the investigation between the day of the election and the day of his death. Other blog posts Smith wrote were supported the Republican Party and the Trump agenda. In all, he wrote 22 posts.

Smith’s blog reveals a man avidly interested in politics, strongly supportive of Trump and the Republicans, who offered political advice and opinion on a variety of issues. The issues he cared about the most, judging by the frequency of posts, were the investigation and Clinton’s emails.

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Facebook speech code: No, white men aren’t a “protected class”

Facebook treats everyone equally. Leftists wants whites and men to be at the bottom of the hierarchy.

A new misleading article is going viral on leftist and liberal-leaning social-political websites. ProPublica reports that white men are a protected class on Facebook, and that criticism of white men is considered hate speech.

Sure enough, hateful attacks against white men are considered hate speech and subject to possible deletion–just as a group of liberals have long said they wanted social media to take a harder stand on hate speech. So, too, are attacks on black men, white women, black women, Asian men, Asian women, Hispanic men, Hispanic women, Muslim men, and Muslim women considered hate speech.

Attacks on any such ethnic-gender (or religion) combination group are hate speech. ProPublica’s problem and that of those sharing the article is that they don’t want whites or men to have equal rights.

There’s nothing confusing in Facebook’s position. It’s spelled out in black and white–literally–in the slides:



How did a policy of policing hate speech impartially, without favor, turn into allegations of pro-white bias?

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How left-wing smears about racism come back to bite them

One of the most often heard complaints about politically correct liberals is that they try to smear everyone with whom they disagree as bigots. “Racist,” “sexist,” “transphobe,” “transmisogynistic”… The terms are thrown around so often that many people stop listening.

Often people disagree about what constitutes bigotry. But just as often people disagree about the context and what was actually said. While I was listening to the podcast Undisclosed, I was treated to an example of how casually self-righteous liberals can fabricate racially-charged accusations, perhaps without even being conscious of it.

Undisclosed operates in seasons that usually take on cases of someone whom the team of three lawyers, Rabia Chaudry, Colin Miller, and Susan Simpson, thinks was wrongly convicted of a crime. They present the story and the evidence, as they see it, and argue why the convict wasn’t guilty. For the past few months, however, the story they are presenting is different: They are arguing why they think the Baltimore police officers involved in the arrest of Freddie Gray are guilty.

It’s a bit of an interesting turn for the attorneys, who usually argue someone’s innocence, to take a hard stance against people who were charged with crimes on shaky grounds. Maybe it shows the group is focused on the politics of identity–race and power structures–rather than defending the civil rights of anyone accused of a crime. Or maybe they are just continuing their mission of defending the public against heavy-handed tactics of the corrupt police and justice system that, in their view, mistreated and killed an innocent man. Either way, they ought not make up lies about subjects involved.

On episode 14, when talking about the protests that turned into riots, the host stated, “The nation saw the mayor unable to communicate to her own city, awkwardly trying to say that she respects civil liberties but then referring to protesters as ‘thugs’.”

“Referring to protesters as ‘thugs’…” Does anyone remember when Baltimore Mayor Stefanie Rawlings-Blake, a liberal Democrat and an African-American woman, said that? I seem to recall exactly the quote they were thinking of, and she didn’t at all refer to “protesters” as “thugs.”

Just to make sure I was remembering right, I looked it up:

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Don’t let Muslim women testify to Senate!, New Republic warns

Two “nasty” women are scheduled to appear in front of the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Homeland Security this morning, June 14, 2017, to share what they know from research and personal experience on Islamic extremism: Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Asra Nomani.

Their appearance has sent at least one New Republic blogger into a fury. Sarah Jones wrote, “The Senate is about to hear from two of the worst possible “experts” on Islam.” Interesting to note that of the four witnesses speaking at the hearing, two are men and two are women–Jones only pointed out the women for attack.

Jones’ reasons? Hirsi Ali, who has been oppressed by the fundamentalism of Islamic governments and societies as a youth and continues to be threatened with death threats, has made controversial statements about Islam. She also has worked with conservative groups that Jones doesn’t support.

Jones even cited Max Blumenthal as a source. Blumenthal is not without controversy himself, to put it lightly. He has made a career, if you can call it that, out of appearing on conspiracy shows like The Next News Network and Iran’s Press TV to talk about “Israel Cover Up[s]”, bemoaning “the Zionist gag rule,” and comparing Israel to ISIS. In the hours after Elie Wiesel died he said Wiesel “should not be honored” and called him a “supporter” of “war crimes.” No surprise Jones doesn’t seem to have much sympathy for victims of theocratic oppression if she cites Blumenthal.

As for Nomani, she’s even worse: she supported Donald Trump! “Asra Nomani is an outspoken supporter of Donald Trump,” Jones wrote. One need not search long to find that I was quite opposed to Trump during his campaign and continue to oppose most of his actions as president. But does my disagreeing with her about Trump mean that she doesn’t have anything valuable to say about Islam and extremism?

As a Muslim who has desegregated sex-segregated mosques–and also received threats for doing so–and who has written about issues related to Islam for The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, and elsewhere, it appears to me she should know a little more about the topic than Sarah Jones.

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The sophistry of Republican arguments

“We will renegotiate the Paris Treaty”: Why won’t Republicans defend their own positions on the basis of their own ideology?

We know why Donald Trump is leaving the Paris Climate Treaty.

We know because Trump and his fellow Republicans have said why they oppose government action of climate change/global warming many times before.

“Global warming has been proven to be a canard repeatedly over and over again,” he has stated. It’s a hoax perpetuated by the Chinese “in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive,” Trump has said.

“We don’t know what’s causing climate change, and the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try and reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for us,” then-Republican nominee Mitt Romney said in 2012.

Ted Cruz has said that climate change isn’t happening and that pushes to combat climate change are only being undertaken because, “liberal politicians … want government power over the economy, the energy sector and every aspect of our lives.” The idea of climate change is “is not science, it’s religion,” he has said.

Marco Rubio said during a primary debate that climate change has little to do with human activity: “The climate is changing, and one of the reasons the climate is changing is the climate has always been changing.” He later added that even if the U.S. passed laws to combat climate change, “there would be no change in our environment. Sea level would still rise.”

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has said, “I’m not a scientist. I’m interested in protecting Kentucky’s economy.”

EPA Director Scott Pruitt has long opposed government regulations on the environment, filing multiple suits against environmental regulations as attorney general of Oklahoma, because he felt those regulations were burdensome and hurt the economy. In order to create jobs, he said at a public event, the U.S. needed to “make sure the EPA is not being onerous upon the energy companies in this country.”

I list all of these statements by influential Republicans and members of the Trump administration to say one thing: We know why Trump and the Republicans wanted to leave the Paris treaty. And it wasn’t for the reasons they are saying now.

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Trump flunks Middle Eastern geography test

While Donald Trump was meeting with Israelis, he seemed clueless as to Israel’s geography. “We just got back from the Middle East,” he said.

Some Twitter users thought they caught Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer stiffling a laugh.

Other things we have learned from Trump himself in his short tenure in office:
– Frederick Douglas is just now getting the credit he deserves.
– Korea was once a part of China.
– China has 8,000 years of history as a civilization. (Even the Chinese themselves only assert 5,000.)
– The Civil War would have been so easy to prevent. Andrew Jackson would never have let it happen!

And some we’ve learned from the Trump press office and other members of the administration:
Hitler didn’t use chemical weapons. Well, at least he didn’t use chemical weapons on his own people. I mean… (via Spicer)
The Jews didn’t suffer enough in the Holocaust to afford a specific mention on Holocaust Remembrance Day. (the whole administration)
Historically black colleges were pioneers of “school choice,” not the result of segregation. (DeVos)
– Trump had the largest inauguration crowd in history. (Spicer)

The exclusive cartoon was drawn by Xia Lan and provided to Bombs + Dollars for use.
Trump-Comic-Final

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