You cannot believe a word the American media says

I am waiting for an anti-Trump story that actually deals with a policy issue that matters and I disagree with. If we are really down to Fake Time covers, we are dealing with accusations that are beyond parody. Obama’s autobiography was written by Bill Ayres, a far left Weatherperson from the 60’s, yet was the only reason anyone ever had for voting for this leftist loon. Meanwhile we have Trump brands The New York Times liars – again!

Donald Trump delivered a swift kick on Wednesday morning to The New York Times, blasting the newspaper for reporting that he is ill-informed and disengaged as Republicans in the Senate tiptoe toward a health care compromise.

‘Some of the Fake News Media likes to say that I am not totally engaged in healthcare. Wrong, I know the subject well & want victory for U.S.,’ the president tweeted.

‘The failing @nytimes writes false story after false story about me. They don’t even call to verify the facts of a story. A Fake News Joke!’

How one can judge what the president doesn’t know I will leave to others. That he disagrees with many of those who advise I truly do believe, some of whom leak to the paper of broken record. That Obamacare is a catastrophe that cannot sustain itself is obvious, but how to replace it is a very thorny question. Meanwhile LIQ and others like him are desperate for a genuine issue to criticise the president about. So far empty handed, but they will keep on trying till something comes up.

The administrative state and the academic world

During the just concluded meeting of the North American society of historians of economic thought I made a major effort to find at least one other attendee who would be willing to make a single positive statement about the election of Donald Trump as president. They may all have been academics and therefore hopelessly lost, but even so, some were from the reddest of red states, some were from universities with a reputation for being on the right, some were from counties directly threatened by mortal enemies who Trump has promised to defend them against, but not a single one was willing even to murmur, even with just the two of us huddled together, speaking quietly and with no one else within earshot, that a case for Trump as president could be made. As an example of how far from the centre these students of history are, who are no doubt representative of the academic world in general, I offer you this citation that came with the awarding of the prize for the best book published in HET during the previous year. The rot is very deep. There is no evident clue in this that there is the slightest inkling of what is wrong with what they believe.

At the just concluded History of Economics Society meetings in Toronto, the 2017 Joseph J. Spengler Prize for the best book in the history of economics was awarded to Thomas “Tim” Leonard for his book Illiberal Reformers: Race, Eugenics and American Economics in the Progressive Era. The following testimonial was read at the Society Banquet.

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Leonard tells the story of how a band of academics and their reform allies, many inspired by the social gospel and on a mission to redeem America, went on to remake both American social science and its relation to the state. They transformed economics from a species of public discourse into an expert scientific field housed in recently formed research universities, where they could use their newly won positions and authority not only to advocate for new policies, but to refashion the role of the state itself. Their target, a laissez faire capitalism that they viewed as both wasteful and unjust, was to be undone by a new entity, the administrative state, which when guided by objective social scientists like themselves, would exercise the social control that was necessary to produce a better society. The myriad social problems wrought by urbanization, industrialization, and in the American case, massive immigration, gave impetus to their reforming zeal.

To be sure, the stories of the rise of the administrative state and the attendant professionalization of economics have been told before, sometimes by those who praised the new sorts of policies that the progressive reformers and their allies put into place, and sometimes by others who criticized what they saw as their scientistic hubris and overreach. Leonard’s unique contribution is to document in grim, indeed harrowing, detail the “scientific” arguments that were used by many progressives to bolster certain of their policy recommendations. For if the desire was to raise up the poor, to assist the downtrodden to be better able to help themselves, the definition of those who were deemed worthy of such assistance was limited. It did not include members of many immigrants groups, African Americans, women, and the disabled. Indeed, for members of these groups, the American dream of hard work leading to material success was grotesquely inverted by policies that helped guarantee that they could not compete successfully against the preferred group, namely, White Anglo Saxon Protestant males.

As a result parts of this book are, to put it mildly, unpleasant to read. Given the controversial nature of his material, Leonard wisely often simply lets his protagonists speak for themselves. And given the resurgence of nativist, nationalist, and xenophobic elements in the political discourse and policies of many countries today, it is, sad to say, a timely read.

We started out with over 20 books, but soon narrowed it down to a more manageable set to consider seriously. It turned out to be an incredibly easy process. It took just one e-mail to come to a decision, for Leonard’s book was rated first by all three of us.

Draining the sewer

This is such a frightening story and what may be the most frightening part is that almost no one is going to be frightened by it. From The New York Post. Remember the repulsive story about Trump in Russia that was supposedly “leaked” by a British agent? Turns out the entire story was concocted by a Democrat Party research firm but partly funded by the FBI.

The FBI received a copy of the Democrat-funded dossier in August, during the heat of the campaign, and is said to have contracted in October to pay Steele $50,000 to help corroborate the dirt on Trump — a relationship that “raises substantial questions about the independence” of the bureau in investigating Trump, warned Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa.

“Raises substantial questions” is so understating the issue that you can see the fear about the nature of American governance if it is true, and there is every reason to believe it is. Everything you think about our way of life and our political leaders and our personal freedoms would have to be re-written from the ground up. Draining the sewer becomes more formidable every day.

Entrepreneurship good and not so good

On the plane ride to Canada we watched The Founder which is about Ray Kroc turning the conception behind this minor fast food outlet that opened in Los Angeles in the 1950s into the international McDonald’s phenomenon it became and still is. I had read a few reviews of the film but had never run across it in Australia so was very happy to finally see it for myself. An extraordinary film on entrepreneurship, which shows the extent to which it is the commercialisation of a product that matters most, not innovation or invention. Highly recommended.

But I do have to say that whoever had the idea for the “McWrap” here in Canada might have come up with the worst name for a product in marketing history. Not a joke: it really does exist.

Ossoff and don’t come back again

The Democrats are zero for five in the special elections that have been held to replace Trump appointments and this was the most devastating of them all. Like this story particularly: AWESOME! GOP Crowd Starts Chanting, “TRUMP! TRUMP! TRUMP!!” at Karen Handel Victory Party!.

The Congressional race between Republican Karen Handel and Democrat Jon Ossoff took place on Tuesday.

The race in Georgia’s 6th district is the most expensive House race in US history.

More than $50 million was spent on the race to replace Rep. Tom Price in the US House.

With the ratio around 9:1 on Democrat spending v Republican. That they could not turn any of the five special elections into an anti-Trump meme has left their political cupboard bare, as it ought to be. For a more detailed outline, here is Roger Simon: Hollywood YUUUGE Loser in Georgia Sixth.

Is this doing battle or shooting oneself in the foot?

This is from Andrew Klavan: The Attack on ‘Julius Caesar’ Was Wrong in Every Way. The question is, was it wrong in every way or not wrong in any way at all? Here’s his article.

There was a lot of Twitter hysteria over the weekend around a two-person assault on Shakespeare in the Park’s offensive version of Julius Caesar. In a conformist and shallow piece of political whinery, the playmakers opted to dress Caesar up as Donald Trump (which I guess made him Orange Julius). Audiences could thus watch the president of the United States brutally assassinated each night for their edification and delight. No matter what the point was supposed to be, it was a disgusting and despicable thing to do. Shame on them.

At the Friday performance, Rebel Media journo Laura Loomer charged the stage, screaming, “This is violence against the right.” Alt-right activist Jack Posobiec stood up in the audience and shouted, “You are all Nazis.” Loomer was arrested and must appear in court to face charges.

A segment of the right vociferously supported the attack online. #FreeLaura was the top trend on Twitter for part of Saturday. There was the usual taste-of-their-own-medicine braggadocio about how we on the right had to use the tactics of the left to beat the left and anyone who disagreed was a coward and we weren’t going to knuckle under to any of this Alinskyite stuff where the right has to live up to its values while the left can do whatever it wants, etc. This was civil disobedience! This was Jesus among the money changers! This was what winning looks like!

If we become the anti-speech people, what are we protecting? What are we fighting for? What are we trying to win?

This is not a question of cowardice or of being too fine to play smash mouth politics. Five-foot-nine Ben Shapiro has repeatedly faced down Social Justice Snowflakes and Black Lives Matter thugs to speak the conservative truth on campus in no uncertain terms. But he doesn’t stop others from making their speeches and delivering their points of view. Because then he could no longer represent his own values. He’d be them, not us.

This is not a question of two-wrongs-don’t-make-a-right either. Sometimes, awful as it is, the other side plays so dirty you have to play dirty back. If a peaceful conservative demonstration is attacked by Anti-fa fascists while the police stand by and do nothing, protecting such gatherings with right-wing vigilantes may become a terrible necessity. But if right-wing vigilantes respond by attacking a peaceful left-wing gathering, the battle is lost. Because then, you’ve destroyed the very principle you were trying to protect.

I voted for Donald Trump in large part because I thought Hillary Clinton would destroy the First and Second Amendments. I knew there were moral hazards to a Trump presidency, but I thought the risk was more than worth it to stave off leftist oppression. So far, I’ve been well pleased with my decision. Wild as Trump can be, he has stood up for our rights and reinvigorated the freedoms eroded under Obama. The continued grumbling of Never Trumpers has seemed to me poorly reasoned, unhelpful and ill-advised. I’m glad Trump won.

But there is no point in winning if you forget what it is you’re fighting for. A conservatism that can’t tell the difference between doing battle and shooting itself in the foot is a conservatism that will not win anything except perhaps the power to become the very tyrants they opposed.