URLs du Jour



  • Know your meme. I recently noticed our Meme du Jour on Power Line's recent Week in Pictures feature. (Although their version had a tiny pic of Bernie Sanders, the one where he's bundled up at Biden's inauguration, sitting on that little green square.)

    It's a visualization of the phenomenon I noticed earlier this month. Specifically, Taylor Lorenz's article in the WaPo discussing the "pause" of the Department of Homeland Security’s plans for a creepy "Disinformation Governance Board". Lorenz's article chalked up the criticism of the DGB entirely to the "far-right" (a term appearing three times in the article) and the "right wing" (six occurrences).

    That phenomenon also came to mind when I read a recent article by Jim Kofalt at Granite Grok: An Open Letter to the IREHR (Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights). It's very tongue-in-cheek, and pretty amusing:

    Dear Sirs,

    It has been brought to my attention that your organization recently published a study finding that 875 state legislators representing all 50 states are members of far-right groups on Facebook. This is shocking. Really, truly, shocking. I applaud your efforts to expose these kinds of harmful opinions, and I strongly encourage you to continue with this extremely important work.

    My home state of New Hampshire apparently holds the top spot in your survey, with 62 legislators making it onto the naughty list. We actually have the single largest state legislature in the country, at nearly three times the national average. That presumably gives New Hampshire a bit of mathematical advantage in this contest.

    In the interest of fairness, I did a quick back-of-the-napkin analysis (recycled, of course!) and found that among the states on your short list, New Hampshire actually rates pretty close to the bottom, percentage-wise. Arkansas takes the top slot, with over 25% of legislators being members of far-right groups!!! Gadzooks! (But then again, it’s Arkansas, right??? You know what I mean.) Montana is next at 22%, followed by Washington, Minnesota, Missouri, Maine, Pennsylvania, and then New Hampshire.

    What does IREHR count as "far-right"? They cast a pretty broad net:

    The groups described in this report can also be broadly understood as far-right. That is, the political right can be broadly understood as working to preserve certain traditional features of society and their related institutions – for instance, the central place of religion and classical liberalism. This becomes politically relevant because these traditions tend to be attached to institutionalized hierarchies variably rooted in class, race, and gender. At the very least, conservatives support limiting the use of government and public institutions to address the inequality entrenched in economic and civil society institutions.

    In this light, the far-right can be understood as groups and individuals advocating changes in the organizational structure of the state (Constitutional structure) or public policy(ies) that would significantly undermine political, social and/or economic equality along such lines as class, race, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, immigration status, and religion. This can encompass groups and individuals who aim to significantly undermine the capacity of government to address broad issues of public health and safety, workplace safety, environmental protection and environmental justice, and other critical public goods.

    Yes, advocates of "classical liberalism" are suspect. IREHR sweeps up 789 "Far-Right" Facebook groups.

    (I don't do a lot of politics on Facebook. But I belong to "No Left Turn in Education - New Hampshire", which they do not specifically list. They do list the nationwide group, and seven regional/state subgroups.)

    There are some pretty wacky groups on the IREHR list, no doubt. And some pretty wacky legislators belong to them. But (of course) you don't have to agree, wholly or partially, with a group to be a member.

    IREHR is a leftist version of McCarthyism: guilt by association and conspiracism.

  • Lock him up. Kevin D. Williamson notes: On Gun Crime, the Problem Is Named ‘Biden’.

    About 93 percent of what you need to know about our gun-control debate can be deduced from the following two facts:

    First: Joe Biden’s presidential campaign boasted that “in 1993, he shepherded through Congress the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, which established the background check system that has since kept more than 3 million firearms out of dangerous hands.”

    Second: In 2018, Hunter Biden violated the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act that his father “shepherded through Congress” by lying on the application and was never charged for it — and never will be.

    I’ll believe Democrats are serious about gun crime when Hunter Biden is charged for his gun crime.

    It appears that Hunter's dad is now advocating banning any gun that can fire 9mm rounds. And he continues to repeat the long-debunked misinformation: "You couldn’t buy a cannon when the Second Amendment was passed." Yeah, you could.

  • I'm a Postrel fanboy. Have been since her days as Reason's editor. She was recently interviewed, and she's put the transcript up on her sunbstack. Here's her answer to "How can you describe the writer’s role in society in such a crazy time?"

    Know thyself. Know what you care about and what you bring to the public discussion. My strengths don’t lie in quick takes. And although I do reporting, I’m also not first and foremost a reporter. Other people are better at these things. I’m good at big-picture thinking, providing historical context, and noticing what’s being overlooked. In my short-term column writing I try to concentrate on those things.

    Consciously and unconsciously, I’ve also arranged my life to accommodate what you could flatteringly call my integrity and unflatteringly call my diva qualities. I’m pretty stubborn about what I will and won’t do, and I won’t take a journalism job I can’t quit. Having no kids and a husband who’s much the same way makes that easier.

    While I understand the market forces that push writers to feed outrage in order to get traffic, I also feel a civic responsibility to keep my cool, not to attribute motives to people that they wouldn’t themselves recognize, and to think about what might actually persuade people who disagree with me. I don’t always live up to those standards—we all get outraged sometimes—but the older I get and the more history I read, the easier it is to do.

    It also helps that, unlike many, perhaps most, female writers, I have never felt either market pressure nor a personal desire to write about my personal experiences and emotions. What interests me is learning and writing about the world.

    Those are attitudes to which a blogger might aspire.

  • Some people are tiring of Do-somethingism. Deanna Fisher of Victory Girls Blog is one of those: Biden Says He Will "Do Something" While In Uvalde. She recounts Wheezy's visit, greeted by crowds chanting "Do Something!"

    To which Biden responded, apparently quietly, "We will."

    Do Something™ is always a bad reaction, because no two people can agree with what the Something™ is. Kamala Harris has already decided what the Something™ should be – she’s pushing for an “assault weapons ban.”

    Vice President Kamala Harris called for a ban on “assault weapons” on Saturday after she spoke at the funeral of a woman killed in the Buffalo, New York grocery store mass shooting earlier this month.

    She called the firearm a “weapon of war” that has “no place in civil society.”

    “We are not sitting around waiting to figure out what the solution looks like. You know, we’re not looking for a vaccine. We know what works on this,” she told reporters outside of Air Force Two at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport, referring to the series of mass shootings that have plagued the U.S. “Let’s have an assault weapons ban.”

    Yeah, that ban worked so well the first time, right?

    If Do Something™ means the DOJ calls the police chief and other law enforcement onto the carpet and holds them accountable for their actions that day, fine. I think that everyone wants answers to why the police failed to act swiftly and decisively when children were bleeding out inside that classroom. Passing gun control legislation or an “assault weapons ban” is not a “Something™” that will actually bring about change.

    So what did Biden mean when he said “we will”? He means whatever his staff tells him it will mean, after they poll-test it.

  • Biden may not have settled on his Something™ yet, but… Jacob Sullum notes that some Democrats have: Unfazed by the Second Amendment, Democrats Want To Ban Gun Purchases by Young Adults.

    The perpetrators of the recent mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, both passed background checks when they bought the rifles they used in those attacks. That's because neither had a disqualifying criminal or psychiatric record, which is typically true of mass shooters. Given those facts, it was puzzling that politicians responded to the massacres by demanding an expanded federal background-check requirement for gun buyers.

    By contrast, proposals to raise the minimum purchase age for long guns at least have something to do with the Buffalo and Uvalde attacks, since both shooters were 18 years old. But it is hard to see how that policy can be reconciled with the Second Amendment unless you assume that 18-to-20-year-olds, unlike older adults, do not have a constitutional right to keep and bear arms. Two federal appeals courts recently rejected that proposition, citing a long tradition of gun ownership by young adults.

    Yes, I'm stealing that "Do Something™" term from Victory Girls.

Last Modified 2024-01-30 3:59 PM EDT