The top universities can’t keep out of national news. Just in the past few months, there have been several high-profile stories about Yale and Harvard. Harvard is being sued for discrimination against Asians. Yale is being sued for not admitting women into its fraternities.
These scandals have been framed as a consequence of the culture wars. Left versus right. Political correctness versus free speech. Empathy and inclusion versus economic realities. Students fighting for social and racial justice against morally bankrupt faculty and administrators. But after attending Yale for some of the larger scandals in recent years, these dichotomies ring hollow.
Over the past decade, elite colleges have been staging grounds for what Matthew Yglesias has termed the Great Awokening. Dozens of scandals have illustrated a stifling new ideological orthodoxy that is trickling down into the rest of society through HR departments, corporations, churches, foundations, and activist organizations. The nation is becoming polarized and its parts disconnected. The right is evil, and the left is stupid. Or is it the other way around?
Archives For politics
When Edward Gibbon embarked on his great history of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, he began his narrative with the accession of Commodus. Marcus Aurelius, the father of the new emperor, was a man who, in the noblest traditions of the Roman people, had combined the attributes of a warrior, a statesman, and a philosopher; Commodus was none of these.
We economists, especially those of us who have had some responsibility for educating students, have a lot to answer for. Presumably all the politicians strutting across our television screens did attend some sort of educational institution at one time. Indeed, many attended institutions of so-called higher learning. Yet somehow their economics teachers failed them.
This month is the annual novelist writing month known as NaNoWriMo in which novelist attempt through perseverance and will to complete a first draft of a novel. I had hoped to complete this challenge, but don’t feel that I am in a position to do so up to my standards for two reasons. Firstly, I simply don’t have a story idea in mind and didn’t put in the adequate time in preparing to construct a novel. While I could write and let the pieces fall as they may, I don’t believe the end product would leave me satisfied to say the least. Secondly, I would at some point attempt to try my hand at constructing a historical fiction novel of some kind. This endeavor would require extensive research on my part and thus I must attempt it I believe next year after doing the appropriate research and formulating my story. That doesn’t mean, however, that I have no intention of writing at all, which is why I created this page in the first place. Therefore, I will simply try to post new thoughts and musings on my site for the duration of the month. My hope is that I gain some good habits that I can keep going forward. I’ve done the same thing with my Goodreads reading challenge which I’ve done a fairly good job at catching up on and maintaining throughout the year.
The 2018 congressional elections are taking place tomorrow and it would be pretty remarkable to not know this was happening at this point. It seems to me that its getting to the point of borderline harassment when it comes to people telling you to vote. Constant bombardments from emails, ads, and the patricians telling people to vote in my mind seems like a complete waste of energy. What if one does not wish to vote? And why should one be party to a ridiculous electoral system that gives two marginally different candidates and feeds into the current moral crisis? I believe it should be ones prerogative to do so. Moreover I think that its somewhat silly to expect people who have no knowledge of the political system to have undue influence on political proceedings. Its not that I wish for them not to exercise their right, rather I don’t see the rational behind voting uninformed. Perhaps its time to say only those qualified to vote are able to do so. While this idea won’t be popular with certain people, I think its actually quite sensible that certain expectations are met when wanting to perform civic duties.
It appears that most Americans have abandoned their senses and are being consumed by politics in an unhealthy way. For example its not satisfactory to merely disagree and wish to take an opposing political position in today’s society. Today its been deemed perfectly reasonable to infer how people are thinking based on their political leanings and to confer upon people the most vile and nefarious characteristics. I see it rather regularly in social media exchanges where the end goal is simply to get as many views and likes, which is simply a form of self affirmation, as possible leaving no discussion to be had. I’ve not heard a single policy position being bandied about by either party. Republicans were hyper focused on getting their tax cuts which they now have and appear to have run out of ideas. I suppose they could push to defund Planned Parenthood but I don’t see that occurring. Nor do I see a concerted effort to completely repeal and replace Obama care i.e. ACA which leads me to believe that Republican enthusiasm will be diminished. Democrats will appear to be highly vocal and emotional on the back of their 2016 electoral defeat but appear to also be out of ideas outside their extreme dislike concerning President Trump. From my observations they appear to be a ship without a rudder and completely incapable of utilizing Trump’s boorish personality to their advantage. Furthermore they seem to be perpetually outraged over the most absurd things but never long enough for them to do any damage to Trump politically. Notice how all of the post-election Russian collusion talk has suddenly died down and is completely out of the news cycle along with Mueller. I don’t think this is a coincidence. We saw the same thing happen with the Kavanaugh confirmation coverage.
But that being said I’ve not quite decided what I will do for this election. Traditionally I have not participated in the past in mid-term elections mainly out of dismay for the political process. Additionally I live in a largely Republican congressional district and Democratic senatorial state which likely won’t see any changes anytime soon. Therefore my vote likely won’t decide any elections this year barring a historic collapse which is not projected to happen. Don’t be fooled by people saying this is the most important election in the history of this country. Are people so historically illiterate that they believe an essentially meaningless election in 2018 is up there in the pantheon of elections like 1860, 1828, or 1912? This one won’t hold a candle to those. Its also a bit jarring to see people so completely disgusted by Trump that they are willing to abandon their ideological and political policy positions just to go against him. This seems to not only be unprincipled but a case of cutting off the nose despite the face. Do these individuals really believe that partisan rhetoric will die down with deposing Trump? It appears some naively do. I there lies my biggest disappointment with this electoral process. These are state and district elections taking place yet everyone is making the election revolve around the President. This is either an indictment of the office of the presidency holding too much power or people losing perspective because they are no longer connected to their surrounding communities. I would suspect a bit of both.
At various points throughout the year I decided to tune out the news coverage because it was getting to the point of sheer boredom. The constant lies everyone was telling and the forced outrage was not why I ever was interested in politics and current events. Moreover, I find the more emotionally invested people are becoming in the political process the more I have found my own views becoming more apolitical. Why must I be emotionally invested in man’s political games of power? As a Christian I find this utterly reprehensible and a completely digression of human interaction which is ironic since most feel they are far more advanced and progressive now. Rubbish I say. I predict that people will look back on this period and be highly confused as to what happened as they see a country deeply divided but not sure why with so much growth and prosperity. They will view this period as largely unremarkable in the annals of time.
Another trend that has sapped Congress’ influence is the decline of congressional expertise on foreign policy and national security. Simply put, legislators used to know more about foreign policy than they do now. Greater expertise strengthened Congress’ formal and visible role, since committees could engage in greater oversight of the executive branch. Expertise also reinforced Congress’ invisible means of constraining presidential power. Presidents had to think about how a seasoned committee chair or member would assess a policy. During his initial escalation of the Vietnam War, for example, President Lyndon Johnson was careful to maintain the support of powerful committee chairs, such as Senator J. William Fulbright, who led the Senate Foreign Relations Committee from 1959 to 1974. Fulbright shepherded the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution through the Senate in 1964, but two years later, his probative hearings helped shift public opinion against the war.
What if the scourge of false news on the internet is not the result of Russian operatives or partisan zealots or computer-controlled bots? What if the main problem is us?
People are the principal culprits, according to a new study examining the flow of stories on Twitter. And people, the study’s authors also say, prefer false news.
As a result, false news travels faster, farther and deeper through the social network than true news.
What’s failing, exactly? I wonder if, like intel agencies pre-9/11, mass shooting threats are lumped in to a vastly broader pool, responsibility spread across many agencies federal and local, so no single force is in charge, dedicated to spotting them. Dedicated local task forces like the ones described here strike me as having a great deal of potential. We should be thinking and talking about them more.
There is, to my knowledge, no dedicated national law enforcement + criminologist group specifically looking for potential infamy shooters, for institutional holes that might impede finding them, or trying to educate local officials on warning signs. This may also offer a way to think more clearly about security reforms and the like — Not arming teachers or lightly trained, bored rent-a-cops, but increasing both random and occasionally intel-based patrols by trained police who are specifically there to deter shooters.
This, more than anything, is what is so unsettling about Mr. Coates’s recent writing and the tenor of the leftist “woke” discourse he epitomizes. Though it is not at all morally equivalent, it is nonetheless in sync with the toxic premises of white supremacism. Both sides eagerly reduce people to abstract color categories, all the while feeding off of and legitimizing each other, while those of us searching for gray areas and common ground get devoured twice. Both sides mystify racial identity, interpreting it as something fixed, determinative and almost supernatural. For Mr. Coates, whiteness is a “talisman,” an “amulet” of “eldritch energies” that explains all injustice; for the abysmal early-20th-century Italian fascist and racist icon Julius Evola, it was a “meta-biological force,” a collective mind-spirit that justifies all inequality. In either case, whites are preordained to walk that special path. It is a dangerous vision of life we should refuse no matter who is doing the conjuring.