Debates on Founding Principles

August 30th, 2020

C. Bradley Thompson replies to Christopher Flannery regarding America’s Lockean Founding. (Trace back the links for other articles related to the discussion.) Thompson argues that neither Harry Jaffa nor Leo Strauss got Locke totally right.

Thompson also appeared on Dave Rubin’s show to discuss his book on the Founding and the issue of slavery.

Thompson also discussed his book at a Princeton talk.

In response to a government report ordered by Mike Pompeo and to debate that generated, Roger Pilon and Aaron Rhodes discuss, “The American Understanding of Natural Rights.”

QAnon Crazy

August 30th, 2020

QAnon is a nuclear explosion of disinformation. . . . The very premise of QAnon is that anyone in charge is not just lying to you, but they’re doing it to help Satan himself in exchange for baby blood.”

Violence in America

August 30th, 2020

I included many instances of recent violence in a recent article.

Jason Brennan has out a good critique of rioting and looting that harms property of innocent people.

American Racism

August 1st, 2020

Anyone who doubts that racism remains a problem in America should watch video taken of a man holding a Black Lives Matter sign in Harrison, Arkansas, and the racist hate this provoked.

The Trouble with Malkin

August 1st, 2020

Colorado conservative activist and writer Michelle Malkin recently made the news for getting chased out of a pro-police rally in Denver. I wrote about this myself.

The background issue is that Malkin has expressed support for a alt-right figures.

Erik Maulbetsch offers his take from the left. Conservative consultant Andrew Struttmann wrote, “Conservatives have moral duty to disown Michelle Malkin, Alt-Right.” District Attorney George Brauchler had her on his radio show.

Malkin replied to some of her critics in a video.

Media about Lauren Boebert

July 27th, 2020

Lauren Boebert beat Representative Scott Tipton in the Republican primary. Following are some news stories about her. I also provide additional background, with various links, in a Tweet thread. Donald Trump congratulated Boebert.

Boebert’s Campaign Embraces Far-Right Militia Movement”

Boebert embraced a conspiracy theory that Democrats and Hollywood stars drink the blood of children in a global pedophilia ring.”

Boebert praised the closing of the “autonomous zone” in Seattle.

In her “contract with Colorado,” Boebert says she is “America first.” She believes “life begins at conception.” She’s for “free markets,” “liberty,” “strong borders,” and more.

Boebert suggested (wrongly) that Scrabble dumping some words “chips away” at the First Amendment.

Boebert said, “‘Flatten the curve’ turned into Communism very quickly.”

The New York Times has an article discussing Boebert’s comments about QAnon. See the direct link.

Radio host Ross Kaminsky hosted Boebert.

Progressives [have] tagged Boebert as a QAnon conspiracy theorist and a lousy restaurateur owing to three-year-old accusations that involve bloody diarrhea.”

Corey Hutchins discusses media handling of Boebert’s remarks about QAnon.

Boebert’s restaurant has had some financial troubles.

Boebert picked up the endorsement of Tom Tancredo.

Peak Politics defended Boebert regarding her various arrests.

Last updated August 30, 2020.

Colorado Oil Well Cleanup

July 27th, 2020

A problem in Colorado is that some oil companies go bankrupt and don’t clean up sites. Joe Salazar notes that “SB19-181 [which passed] . . . will eventually . . . require oil and gas operators to provide financial assurances that they can take on a project from birth to remediation.” See also Chase Woodruff’s report.

Colorado’s COVID-19 Testing

July 27th, 2020

Ben Markus has out a report about Colorado’s lackluster testing program for COVID-19. Aside from the terrible federal response, the state had two main problems: the health department had a serious leadership meltdown leading into the pandemic, and outside help didn’t seem to accomplish much. I Tweeted a summary with some supplementary information.

In other news: “Thousands of people defy public health orders, pack into a field in Weld County for an outdoor concert.” Here’s more.

And: “Woodland Park [Colorado]-based Andrew Wommack Ministries held a multi-day conference that included over 1,000 attendees from July 30th through July 3rd. Now the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has traced a COVID-19 outbreak to the event, with seven staff members and fifteen attendees testing positive.”

Socialism on a Spectrum

July 26th, 2020

My Tweet: “Here’s an analogy I think is helpful. Everyone has some psychopathic traits, but a psychopath is someone who scores very high for most psychopathic traits. Similarly, many societies (including ours) have some traits of socialism and fascism but are neither socialist nor fascist.” It’s not a perfect analogy, of course. I think psychopaths stay remain at pretty much the same level of psychopathy (at least after a certain point) throughout their lives, whereas societies change. Also, whereas some psychopathic traits are or can be positive for people, I want to say that traits of socialism and fascism always are bad. But then I may have trouble talking about things like roads and the welfare state.

Religious Liberty in Court

July 25th, 2020

I’m going to round up some news and commentary about law and religion.

A church in Nevada complained it was not given the same liberties to open as casinos: “Calvary Chapel only seeks to host about 90 people at a socially-distanced church service, while the governor allows hundreds to thousands of people to gamble and enjoy entertainment at casinos.” The Supreme Court declined to hear the suit in question by a 5–4 vote.

In a 2018 interview, Constitutional law scholar Rob Natelson explains that “sectarian” in the context of legal language forbidding the use of tax dollars for “sectarian” schools meant something like religiously aberrant, not merely religious. In other words, by this historical usage, a mainstream religious school was “non-sectarian.” Today, from what I can tell, most people use the term “sectarian” to mean “religious,” and that’s how I use the term. Etymologically, the term relates to “sect.”

Last updated July 28.

Huemer on Democracy

July 25th, 2020

“It is the masses who harbor anti-democratic attitudes. Democratic values are the province of the elites. It is the elites who must protect those values from the masses.” So says Michael Huemer.

Huemer worries that, these days, “we have a great democratization of information,” and this is destroying our culture. “Now that the masses are participating in content-generation and -distribution too, they’re bringing everyone down to their level,” he writes.

Sanger Cancelled

July 25th, 2020

Planned Parenthood to remove Margaret Sanger’s name from center over ‘racist legacy.'”

In other abortion news: “Doctors pressured mother to abort baby with Down’s syndrome at 38-weeks.”

Protest Avoidance Behavior and COVID-19

July 20th, 2020

Denver economist Andrew Friedson thinks the George Floyd protests did not on net cause an increase in COVID-19 cases because they scared other people indoors. What this doesn’t answer, of course, is whether the protests themselves led to any new cases of COVID-19, or how many.

Federal Kidnappings in Oregon

July 20th, 2020

Federal agents have arrested people for no good reason in Portland.

Rioters Shut Down Denver Pro-Police Rally

July 20th, 2020

The difference between a protester and a rioter is that the latter hurts people or destroys property. On June 19, a conservative group attempted to hold a lawful, permitted pro-police rally in Denver. A group led by Denver’s Party for Socialism and Liberation intentionally “shut down” the rally, in some cases by violently attacking ralliers, and drove them from the area. As I mentioned on Twitter, the attack was not merely “opposing speech.” I noted that the ralliers “were met, in some cases, by violent assault. And infiltrating another group’s peaceful, lawful, permitted rally with the intention of shutting it down, which they did, is a violation of speech.” Michelle Malkin (with whom I often disagree) posted video of the event, where she had been planning to speak.

Tangentially related issue: Malkin reports that Governor Jared Polis blocked her on Twitter with his @jaredpolis account. My take (edited): “This is an interesting case given lawsuits regarding elected officials blocking people on social media. My quick read: Because this is Polis’s personal account, and he has a separate Twitter account in his capacity as governor [@GovoOfCo], he’s probably ok legally to block people.”

Colorado Price-Gouging Law

July 16th, 2020

Colorado law now bans price gouging during disasters — but doesn’t define the term.” Price controls are especially harmful during an emergency.

Progressive Eugenics

July 15th, 2020

The widespread acceptance of eugenics in the United States, especially by progressives, is a troubling part of U.S. history unknown to many Americans.”

Racism and Anti-Intellectualism on the Left

July 15th, 2020

A document from the National Museum of African American History & Culture overtly embraces racism and anti-intellectualism, asserting that “white culture” entails individualism, “emphasis on the scientific method” and “objective, rational linear thinking,” a belief that “hard work is the key to success,” and a “future orientation”—along with a bunch of other things that are either mixed, neutral, or bad. This is a package deal of epic proportions. It constitutes an extraordinary smear of the many great Black scientists (not to mention hard-working people in all fields) of history and of today. It is also comically self-refuting; for example, is it an objective fact that “white culture” entails those things, or is that merely the subjective preference of the author? If the latter (as it obviously is), why should we believe any of it?

In related news: “Museum Curator Resigns After He Is Accused of Racism for Saying He Would Still Collect Art From White Men.”

Peikoff and Trump

July 15th, 2020

It turns out that Objectivist philosopher Leonard Peikoff donated funds to the Donald Trump campaign. It is certainly ironic that, for decades, Leonard Peikoff has warned about the possibility of theocratic fascism coming to America, yet he now financially supports Donald Trump, who openly allies with conservative evangelicals seeking to overturn Roe v. Wade. (Ayn Rand was strongly pro-choice.) I take this as a sign that Peikoff is even more afraid of the nihilistic left in America than he is of Trumpian anti-immigrant, anti-free-trade, anti-reason conservatism. I think Trumpism is the greater and more immediate threat. Although some self-identified Objectivists are openly pro-Trump, most other Objectivist intellectuals are strongly critical of Trump.

Moderna Vaccine

July 15th, 2020

In a phase 1 trial with 45 people, the Moderna vaccine induced an immune response in all participants.

Hoppe’s Libertarianism

July 14th, 2020

In his Getting Libertarianism Right, Hans-Hermann Hoppe insists “”your existence and well-being depends decisively . . . especially on the continued existence of white heterosexual male dominated societies.” And that’s a good illustration of why I don’t call myself a libertarian.

In other libertarian news, Tom Woods defends his record, saying he’s “long since emerged from my paleoconservative phase.”

The Crime of Breathing

July 14th, 2020

Man’s aggressive cough toward woman on Aspen trail prompts misdemeanor charge.” This is an interesting story illustrating the contextual nature of rights. What a jerk this guy (allegedly) was!

Watson on COVID-19

July 13th, 2020

Nell Watson has an absolutely terrifying take on COVID-19. The upshot is that many people who get it are likely to have severe long-term health problems.

Liberty and Existential Risk

July 13th, 2020

Michael Huemer points out that libertarians have a hard time theoretically dealing with existential risk.

The Cancel Culture Debate

July 13th, 2020

I certainly do not intend this as anything like a comprehensive discussion of the issue at hand. These are just a few notes.

On July 7 Harper’s published a letter “on justice and open debate.” It argues, “The free exchange of information and ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society, is daily becoming more constricted.” The letter was signed by Steven Pinker, who recently has come under criticism for what I regard as stupid reasons. Other signers include Nicholas Christakis, Jonathan Rauch, and J. K. Rowling (who has faced her own barrage of criticism).

Osita Nwanevu writes for New Republic about the “willful blindness of reactionary liberalism.” Here is the thesis: “The tensions we’ve seen lately have been internal to liberalism for ages: between those who take the associative nature of liberal society seriously and those who are determined not to. It is the former group, the defenders of progressive identity politics, who in fact are protecting—indeed expanding—the bounds of liberalism. And it is the latter group, the reactionaries, who are most guilty of the illiberalism they claim has overtaken the American Left.”

Matt Taibbi writes, “The leaders of this new movement [of the left] are replacing traditional liberal beliefs about tolerance, free inquiry and even racial harmony with ideas so toxic and unattractive that they eschew debate, moving straight to shaming, threats and intimidation.”

Hannah Giorgis writes, “In recent years, defenses of ‘free speech’ have often been wielded by people in positions of power in response to critics who want to hold them accountable for the real-life harm their words might cause.” And: “Facing widespread criticism on Twitter, undergoing an internal workplace review, or having one’s book panned does not, in fact, erode one’s constitutional rights or endanger a liberal society.”

Megan McArdle writes, “The cancelers aren’t merely trying to expand the range of acceptable ideas so that it includes more marginalized voices. They are pressuring mainstream institutions, which serve as society’s idea curators, to adopt a much narrower definition of ‘reasonable’ opinion. The new rules would exclude the viewpoints of many Americans.”

July 14 Update: In her resignation letter, former New York Times columnist Bari Weiss writes, “A new consensus has emerged in the press, but perhaps especially at this paper: that truth isn’t a process of collective discovery, but an orthodoxy already known to an enlightened few whose job is to inform everyone else.” She claims various colleagues harassed her and that she faced “unlawful discrimination, hostile work environment, and constructive discharge.”