Wednesday, November 15, 2017

No, Vox, ‘Small Government’ Does Not Mean White Nationalism

According to a recent article in Vox, conservatives who denounce government overreach aren’t really concerned about burdensome regulations. No—it turns out the “language of small government” is really just “a handmaiden to ethno-nationalism.”

Proof? The author, David Roberts, points to a 2016 New York Times story that depicted a few white men in rural America venting their anger over regulations against “coal rolling”—the practice of modifying diesel truck engines to spew thick black smoke.

Apparently, being a blue-collar white man who likes spewing black smoke into the air makes you a white nationalist. And apparently, spewing black smoke into the air is the essence of liberty and of limited government.

Roberts is both misguided and self-deluded, as he conveniently overlooks a few important factors.

Most worrisomely, he ignores the fact that bureaucratic red tape and regulations are a burden to everyone, regardless of race—and they impose particularly heavy costs on poor people and minorities.

Why Limited Government Matters

The Constitution dictates that the American government is one of limited, enumerated powers, separated into three distinct branches with three distinct roles.

Any branch granted power by the Constitution can do only what that particular power grant authorizes it to do, and the Constitution does not grant powers generally to the government “as a whole.”

The powers not granted expressly to one of the three branches of the federal government are reserved to the state governments.

This principle of vertical power sharing between the national and state governments is called “federalism.”

Justice Anthony Kennedy once beautifully explained the principle, even if he has not always been consistent in upholding it:

Federalism is more than an exercise in setting the boundary between different institutions of government for their own integrity. State sovereignty is not just an end in itself. Rather, federalism secures to citizens the liberties that derive from a diffusion of sovereign power. … Federalism protects the liberty of the individual from arbitrary power. When government acts in excess of its lawful powers, that liberty is at stake.

When a branch of government steps beyond the limits of its power—when it “overreaches” the words of the Constitution itself—it tramples onto the liberties of the American people. Not just white people, but all people.

Further, conservatives generally believe that just because a federal, state, or local government may act under its constitutional authority does not mean it is prudent for it to do so.

This is often expressed as the principle of “small government.” Small government necessarily correlates to a freer people. In the words of President Ronald Reagan, “As government expands, liberty contracts.”

The idea that conservatives use the language of “limited government” to oppress others is exactly backward. Conservatives support limited government precisely because they understand the oppressive nature of a large and centralized power that seeks to regulate every aspect of life.

The Problem With Government Overreach

The New York Times piece about “coal rolling” featured a tiny portion of Americans giving voice to a specific grievance.

For Vox to cite that grievance as somehow indicative of an entire political philosophy’s relation to white nationalism is not just bad journalism—it’s intellectual dishonesty.

Government overreach neither begins nor ends with the inability to spew black smoke from a truck. Its impact is not limited to white nationalist men, or white men broadly, or even white people at all.

The grip of overregulation and overcriminalization suffocates everyone, without exception. It is not about white nationalism. It’s about liberty.

Government overreach is about John Duarte, a farmer in California who was threatened with the loss of his farm for plowing his fields without a government permit.

It’s about the 500 people who almost lost their jobs because the Environmental Protection Agency insisted that temporary, shallow pools on Duarte’s land were “navigable waters” under federal jurisdiction.

It’s about the Little Sisters of the Poor, the Roman Catholic religious institute for women, who the federal government would force to choose between compliance with the Affordable Care Act and compliance with the sincere and deeply held dictates of the Catholic Church.

It is about powerful and prohibitive occupational licensing systems that keep people from making an honest living, requiring them to get the costly and time-consuming consent of state and local governments.

These systems burden poorer Americans and minorities by inserting arbitrary obstacles between them and the ability to earn a living or start a business—obstacles like the hundreds (sometimes thousands) of dollars in licensing fees, or the time off to complete dozens, hundreds, sometimes thousands of hours in training—not to become lawyers, or dentists, or real estate agents, but to braid hair. To run a food cart. To act as a tour guide, to do landscaping, and to put together flower bouquets.

It’s about the more than 400 federal agencies, 5,000 criminal laws, and literally uncountable number of federal regulations that have made the law inaccesssible to even the most diligent of citizens.

It’s about the absurd prison sentences handed down on everyday people, acting in morally blameless ways, who never could have anticipated their actions were against the law.

It’s about the $2 trillion in regulatory costs imposed every year on Americans, based on an erroneous presumption that large, unaccountable government bureaucracies are the best means of protecting the public.

Limited Government Is Not White Nationalism

Limited government is a concept embraced by men and women of all backgrounds, races, ages, and religions. Its proponents include accomplished African-Americans like economist Thomas Sowell, renowned surgeon Dr. Ben Carson, and Kay Coles James of the NASA Advisory Council.

The philosophy is defended by prominent Latinos, such as Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Rep. Jaime Herrera, R-Wash., Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes, and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez.

Asian-Americans groups have also organized around the call for lower taxes and reducing excessive government regulations.

So no, limited government is not about angry white nationalists. In fact, white nationalism could not accomplish its goals with a truly limited government, nor has it ever really supported limited government.

Why? Because oppressive philosophies like white nationalism require a large government powerful enough to enforce the philosophy.

The most egregious instances of oppression have always been carried out with the power of a strong, centralized government: slavery, the disarmament of African-Americans during Reconstruction, the relocation of Japanese Americans to internment camps during World War II, the segregated public schools of the Jim Crow South.

In each of these instances, federal and state governments undertook to impose laws and regulations in excess of both their constitutional authority and the limits of public necessity. They were the result of government power grabs, not the result of limited government.

Similarly, the racist Aryan supremacist oppression imposed by the Nazi Party in Germany depended on a big, overreaching government that routinely violated individual liberties.

History speaks plainly to this issue. Decrying government overreach and appealing to principles of limited government, confined to its constitutionally directed boundaries, has nothing whatsoever to do with the ideology of white nationalism.

Asserting otherwise is a tactless, lowbrow non-argument that refuses to engage honestly with the philosophy of limited government as it is articulated by conservatives.

It also prevents the kind of honest conversations about reducing government overreach that could actually help the very people that white nationalists abhor. This, more than the mischaracterization itself, is tragic and unacceptable.


Stop Forcing Taxpayers to Fund Public Broadcasting

This month marks the half-century of one of President Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” programs.

It’s not the War on Poverty, Medicaid, or the Voting Rights Act. It’s public broadcasting. And it’s high time Congress stopped forcing taxpayers to subsidize it.

When Johnson signed the Public Broadcasting Act on Nov. 7, 1967, he spoke of a future in which non-commercial broadcasters would function as nationwide replicas of ancient Greece’s “agora,” or marketplace.

But he added a dark warning: If mishandled, they could “generate controversy without understanding … mislead as well as teach.”

Conservatives quickly realized it was not going to be the agora.

PBS wasn’t yet a year old in 1971 when a 35-year-old White House lawyer warned President Richard Nixon that they were being “confronted with a long-range problem of significant social consequences—that is, the development of a government-funded broadcast system similar to the BBC.”

That lawyer was future Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. As usual, he was right on the money. Since then, there have been efforts under every Republican administration except Gerald Ford’s to defund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the vehicle for funding PBS and NPR.

President Donald Trump’s experience is typical. His original 2018 budget would have ended federal grants for public broadcasting, but the budget Congress recently passed punts on the issue. It does not provide new funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, but does allow for appropriations bills with advance appropriations for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to move in the Senate.

That means the Corporation for Public Broadcasting will receive a nearly half-billion dollars in advance appropriation included in the fiscal year 2017 omnibus bill.

Republican presidents keep trying to stop taxpayer funding of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for a simple reason: While PBS, NPR, Pacifica Radio, American Public Media, and all the other public broadcasters create what is unquestionably a quality product, that product skews to the left.

NPR and PBS insist they just report the news with no bias. And it is true that NPR, PBS, et al, do not broadcast government propaganda. (If they did, they wouldn’t be so hard on the Trump administration.)

What they do represent are the views of a particular group—those of the politically correct elite left—whose assumptions frame public affairs programming on public broadcasting.

This group is comprised of a bien pensant coalition of government bureaucrats, academics, entertainers, philanthropists, ethnic group activists, corporate leaders, etc., many of whom control America’s cultural institutions.

This coalition is an updated version of the “managerial elite,” which the political theorist James Burnham warned would come to rule industrial societies. The views of this group almost always favor government control of or involvement in everything from health care to the environment to the media.

Many, if not most, journalists (not just taxpayer-funded ones) echo the opinions of the elites, whom they tend to use as sources. And because the national ones are based inside the Acela Corridor, they will reflect the liberal views prevalent in New York and Washington.

The difference here is taxpayer involvement.

These problems were well understood by both sides 50 years ago, when Congress held hearings on public broadcasting. Conservatives demanded no editorializing or even any type of public affairs programming.

Even the liberal godfather of public broadcasting, the legendary network veteran Fred Friendly—by this time working for the Ford Foundation—told a House hearing in 1967, “We must avoid at all costs any situation in which budgets of news and public-affairs programming would be appropriated or even approved by any branch of the federal government.”

Friendly’s point was that “public television should not have to stand the test of political popularity at any point in time. Its most precious right will be the right to rock the boat.” As he understood, with government appropriations comes accountability.

So why the persistent failure of all previous efforts to relieve the half of the country that votes conservative from paying for public broadcasters? As Scalia warned Nixon, defunding would be “politically difficult in view of … the generally favorable public image which [the Corporation for Public Broadcasting] has developed.”

The reason for that is that PBS, NPR, and the others hide behind their original educational remit. As George F. Will put it earlier this year, “Often the last, and sometimes the first, recourse of constituencies whose subsidies are in jeopardy is: ‘It’s for the children.’”

But NPR and PBS are not really for the children anymore, if they ever were, which is why conservative leaders must now find the intestinal fortitude to free Americans from the tax obligation to fund them.

Thomas Jefferson, who never heard a broadcast, was undoubtedly right when he observed that “to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagations of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical.”


Democrat Who Accused Trump Of Harassment Is Now Accused Of Sexually Harassing Women

A Democratic state senator who accused President Donald Trump of sexual harassment is now facing calls to resign after facing multiple sexual harassment allegations of his own.

Several women accused Minnesota state Sen. Dan Schoen of “persistent and unwanted” invitations to meet and allegations that Schoen grabbed them from behind and sent them photographs of male genitalia on social media, the MinnPost reported.

Schoen, a first-term senator who previously served in Minnesota's state house, knew of each alleged incident when the MinnPost approached him for comment, but called the allegations either false or taken out of context.

“It was never my intention to leave the impression I was making an inappropriate advance on anyone,” Schoen told the MinnPost. “I feel terrible that someone may have a different interpretation of an encounter, but that is the absolute truth. I also unequivocally deny that I ever made inappropriate contact with anyone.”

DFL Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk condemned Schoen and called for him to resign over the allegations.

“I have discussed these allegations with my leadership team and we are united in our call for Sen. Dan Schoen to apologize, step aside, and seek care to address these actions,” Bakk said in a statement.

The MinnPost detailed one of the allegations against Schoen:

[Rep. Erin] Maye Quade had just become a candidate for the state House, and had never met Schoen, she said, but he nevertheless offered up his advice about how to handle the situation at the 4th Precinct. “Be careful about posting anything about BLM and if you want a police officer’s side of this, feel free to ask,” Maye Quade said Schoen texted.

He then asked her multiple times if she wanted to meet and have a drink and talk about it. Maye Quade said she respectfully declined.

Later that same evening, Schoen texted her again, this time suggesting she should come over, telling her his children weren’t home. She thought the messages were strange but didn’t think much of the invitation until she got another text that was “clearly meant for someone else.” It said, “'I almost got her. Working on her pretty hard, but I almost got her,'” according to Maye Quade. “My blood went cold.”

Schoen accused President Trump of sexual assault in October 2016 and appears to have judged him from a place of moral superiority.

Schoen apologized for his past behavior saying that it does not represent who he is and indicated that he has no plans to resign.


Finding Relief on the Streets and at the Office

Terrorists are much weaker than we feared in 2001. And sexual harassers are suddenly more vulnerable

Peggy Noonan
In 2001 I thought it would be a suitcase bomb, a homemade nuclear device, not airplanes going into buildings. I’d felt something coming, had written of it, but that day, amid all the grief and carnage, I felt a lurking relief. I’d feared worse — tens of thousands gone, parts of the city rendered uninhabitable.

I feel a version of that relief now, after the recent truck attack downtown, within the shadow of the Freedom Tower. Barely three hours later, on Lexington Avenue from the 90s through the 70s, the streets were crowded with kids and parents out for Halloween. The mood was not a sag-shouldered “This is the new normal,” but a collected sense of “We can handle this.” There was an air of gallant enjoyment. It made the emotionalism of the mayor’s remarks — “We will not be cowed”; “This action was intended to break our spirit” — seem both hyped up and rote, and appropriate to another time.

Yes, ISIS is here; yes, this will happen again, and security was appropriately high for the marathon. But it’s obvious, and has been for some time, that we’re in a different moment, a different part of the battle. For months and then years after 9/11, we feared al Qaeda would hit us again, harder. Sixteen years later what we see is a series of single, random-seeming acts by weak, stupid, highly emotional men who read propaganda sites and become excited in the way of the weak, stupid and highly emotional. Their attacks are low-tech, limited.

Graeme Wood had a smart piece for the Atlantic hours after the attack. “The details strongly suggest that the man was a complete idiot,” Mr. Wood wrote of the suspect, Sayfullo Saipov. “I harp on Saipov’s apparent stupidity for one reason: As long as Islamic State’s attackers are idiots like Saipov, our societies can probably handle them… . The Idiots’ Crusade is a manageable problem. Much less tolerable would be a campaign of competent terror — the kind of mayhem enabled by training, like the 2015 Bataclan killers in Paris had, or by patient planning, as Stephen Paddock in Las Vegas did.”

Continued vigilance is in order: “As Islamic State loses territory, the greatest danger remains the prospect that some of the battle-hardened fighters will return home, raising the average IQ of attackers, and making possible attacks that would be many times more deadly than this one.”

The bad guys now seem incompetent. But the bad guys will never go away, and it is to the deep and everlasting credit of U.S. law enforcement, especially the New York City Police Department, that they have been so contained. Some day they’ll hit us hard again, so no relaxation of efforts is possible. But right now it feels more like Britain’s long struggle with the Irish Republican Army than an existential threat, and we must be thankful when feelings improve. This was my small epiphany as I moved among people dressed as bumblebees, Pharaohs, Godzilla and an angel with black wings. I liked the gallant enjoyment. I shared it.

* * *
Here we shift to another thing that has changed, this one permanently. Before it goes away as a regular front-page story — and it will, because as Thoreau said, once you’re familiar with a principle you become less interested in hearing of its numerous applications — it must be noted that what has happened the past month regarding sexual harassment in the workplace is epochal, a true watershed and long overdue.

The revelations will have a huge impact, not because men now understand that sexual abuse and bullying are wrong — they always knew, and for many the wrongness would have been part of the enjoyment — but because they now know, really for the first time, that they will pay a terrible price if their misbehavior is revealed. And from here on in, there’s a greater chance it will be revealed, and believed.

The price to be paid was the real lesson of the past few weeks of resignations and firings. Celebrity abusers understand the first paragraph of their obit will now include something like, “… but fell from his position of power in the sexual-abuse scandals of the 2010s.”

That there is a price to be paid will have a deterrent effect. Human sin won’t stop; harassment will continue — but something important happened here.

In July 2015 New York magazine put 35 women on the cover who alleged that Bill Cosby had sexually violated them. Until then it had been a cloudy, amorphous story. Suddenly it was no longer he-said/she-said: You saw the faces, read the testimony, and knew what Mr. Cosby really was. A year later Gretchen Carlson, and later others, went up against Fox News’s Roger Ailes ; her lawsuit was settled for $20 million. Then came the revelation of the Bill O'Reilly settlements.

But Black October for sexual harassers began with the New York Times stories by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey on Harvey Weinstein’s history of abuses and payoffs, followed by Ronan Farrow’s lengthy investigation in the New Yorker, and then on to other men in show business and the news media.

Something happened. Media outfits made a commitment — expensive in terms of resources, personnel and legal costs — to get the story. What they found was numbers — the sheer number of abusers and the number of accusers who’d testify. They discovered details that established patterns.

This is all good. And one of the things that fell is the phrase “everybody knew.” That is now a self-indicting phrase.

I close with a point that may grate on those who, like me, are glad at what has happened and wish to see just revelations continue.

The challenge is to pursue justice while keeping a sense of humanity. Human-resources departments terrified of costly lawsuits will impose more and stranger rules that won’t necessarily thwart bad guys but will harass good men. This is the way of things. Two recent anecdotes: At a yearly checkup, a male doctor went through his short list of how to stay healthy in New York. It included: don’t stray onto the curb, stay on the sidewalk, keep back from careening trucks that take a corner too tight and knock people down. I got it, I said — I take the arms of cellphone zombies and guide them a step back to keep them safe. I’d done it recently with a young woman. He got a poignant look. “I can’t do that now,” he said. If he put his hand on a strange woman’s arm, it might be misunderstood.

I was told the other day of a news executive who complimented his co-worker on her boots. He was later taken aside by a colleague: You can’t talk like that now! He hurriedly called the woman and apologized: He meant no offense, didn’t mean to sound leering. She said: Are you kidding? I knew it was a compliment, no offense at all.

That was human. Common sense is better than antihuman edicts.

It’s good the pendulum has swung. You want it to hit the bad guys hard, and leave the good ones untouched.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


No comments: