Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

Another liberal decries “social justice warriors” of today

In a rather long Medium article, another self-identified liberal lashes out at today’s “social justice warriors” (SJW), claiming in reality, they’re social justice bullies and should cease and desist forthwith.  Here’s the conclusion of the article (read the whole thing):

Let me finally be abundantly, abundantly clear (I learned this was necessary a few months back). Social justice and social justice advocacy is a good thing. To utilize one’s education to solve social ills is an admirable goal.

The version of millennial social justice advocacy that I have spoken about — one that uses Identity Politics to balkanize groups of people, engenders hatred between groups, willingly lies to push agendas, manipulates language to provide immunity from criticism, and that publicly shames anyone who remotely speaks some sort of dissent from the overarching narrative of the orthodoxy — is not admirable. It is deplorable. It appeals to the basest of human instincts: fear and hatred. It is not an enlightened or educated position to take. History will not look kindly on this Orwellian, authoritarian pervision of social justice that has taken social media and millennials by storm over the past few years.

Those who need to hear this message will probably respond that I am 1. too privileged to understand 2. tone-policing the oppressed (and that I shouldn’t tell the oppressed how to treat their oppressors) and 3. really just a closet racist/sexist in a liberal’s clothing. I expect these responses — partially because I am so used to having seen this script play out over the last four years at NYU.

Indeed, the tactics do appeal to the basest of human instincts – “fear and hatred.”  That’s by design.  And, to their credit, more and more of those identifying themselves as liberal are seeing this for themselves.  Not so much because they’ve figured out independently that this is bullying because they’ve thought about it.  No, my guess is they’re realizing it because they’ve been subjected to it – no matter how flawless their liberal credentials are.

It only stands to reason. Think about it. As this person points out, Identity Politics “balkanize[s] groups of people, engenders hatred between groups, willingly lies to push agendas, manipulates language to provide immunity from criticism, and that publicly shames anyone who remotely speaks some sort of dissent from the overarching narrative of the orthodoxy .”  And it is a part of that orthodoxy that you can’t be a credible voice for one of the groups if you aren’t an accepted member of that group.  So a straight, white, male can’t be a feminist no matter how much he believes in the feminist cause.  And a feminist, white female is already a racist (because she is a member of the “oppressor” race) by default and is likely to be shamed for speaking from “white privilege”.  So a person is pushed into various little boxes and groups that have, depending on your race, sex, sexual orientation and “privilege”, a lot or very little legitimacy in the social justice movement.

Those we hear speaking out against all of this now are in that latter group even though they’re great advocates of social justice.  They suddenly see the injustice of this movement that has stolen a step on them and now is in the process of marginalizing them.  Of course, this has been the movement’s modus operendi since its inception.  However, now that it is catching up “good liberals” in their trawling net, these good liberals are all for open and honest criticism and debate.  They’ve decided that the SWJ’s postions are neither “enlightened or educated”.  Instead it is bullying.

It’s quite a breakthrough … but only because as the circle gets smaller and tighter, those who are being excluded were once fully on board with the MO.  They don’t like being excluded and the focus of that process though (read the link about the author “learning” a lesson a few months back).  And while I appreciate their criticism of the MO and its effect, I trust them about as far as I can throw them.  Something tells me (experience?) they only want “open and honest criticism and debate” for as long as they’re on the outside looking in.

~McQ

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You have a right to discriminate

Here’s what the Social Justice Warriors don’t understand.  Discrimination is a part of individual freedom.  And with that freedom to discriminate come consequences.  It is like the right to free speech – you get to say what you want (other than incitement) and you get to pay the social and cultural consequences for doing so.  What others don’t get to do, however, is force you to adopt their values and therefore coerce you to conform.  That’s totalitarianism, not freedom.

John Stossel explains:

Why force someone who disapproves of your actions to bake you a cake? Lots of other bakers would love the business. This debate has moved from inclusion to demanding that everyone adopt your values.

In a free country, bigots should have the right to be bigots. Americans should also have freedom of association.

American lawyers talk about special protection for religious freedom, and in the Hobby Lobby case the Supreme Court said you could escape onerous parts of Obamacare by paying lawyers a fortune and convincing judges that you are a closely-held corporation with religious objections. But why must you be religious to practice what you believe? This should be about  individual freedom.

Of course, government must not discriminate. The worst of American racism and homophobia—slavery, segregation enforced by Jim Crow laws, bans on interracial marriage, anti-sodomy laws, etc.—was government-enforced discrimination. That was wrong, and it was right for the federal government to intervene.

But private actions are different. If I start a business with my own money, I ought to be allowed to serve only libertarians, people who wear blue shirts, whatever. It’s my business!

My customers have choices. If I am racist or anti-gay, the free market will punish me. Enough people would boycott my business that I would probably lose money quickly.

Many important points.

“In a free country, bigots have the right to be bigots.” And they’ll pay the consequences of being bigots.  How?  See Stossel’s last paragraph.  If an owner of a business is stupid enough to exclude a portion of his customer base out of plain bigotry (“no Irish allowed”) there are likely going to be enough of his “acceptable” customers offended by him that they’ll take their business elsewhere.  The consequences of his bigotry will be a loss of business, loss of profit and likely a loss of social prestige.  That’s how it works in a free country.

Also in a free country, what everyone should demand is “government must not discriminate …“.  The onus of non-discrimination shouldn’t be on the individual forced by government, but on government as forced by the citizens of the land.

How these got flipped is a testament to the perseverance of those who would control your life (under the false guise of freedom) and the neglect of those who thought individual freedom would last forever.  Just as free speech can sometimes be ugly, so can discrimination.  Social and cultural change usually take care of those who are “ugly” by making them suffer the consequences of their ugliness.  We’ve seen that proven any number of times.

What we’re now seeing is a back lash against the SJWs who would use the force of government to make the unwilling comply with their values.

We simply don’t need that if we’re willing to be patient:

Even in the difficult days of Reconstruction, after the Civil War, business began to bring together whites and blacks who might not always have liked each other but who wanted the best deals. It took several years for racists to get Jim Crow passed so they could put a stop to that erosion of the old racist ways. Government helped keep racism going for several more decades.

That last sentence is the key.  Jim Crow laws were a product of government!  What the civil rights laws did was essentially repeal government mandated discrimination.  What we don’t need is a new series of laws that mandate behavior as they did then, even if the new laws are formed with teh best of intentions, they still require the force of government to enforce.  And they’ll not be enforced fairly and, as they usually do, will be used to to absurd things to people.

Elizabeth Taylor married nine times. Had she married again, should the EEOC have ordered her to marry someone from an ethnic minority?

A homophobic baker shouldn’t stop a same-sex couple from getting married. Likewise, a gay couple shouldn’t force a baker to make them a wedding cake. No one should ever force anyone to bake them a cake.

Exactly. Here’s the bottom line:

Individuals should be allowed to discriminate. I discriminate all the time. I favor people over others when I choose my friends, jobs, hobbies, clubs, religion, etc. So do you.

Correct. And in a free country that is your inherent right, consequences included.

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 9 Apr 15

Chain stores are reporting generally good sales for March today, as an early Easter pulled sales from April.

Wholesale inventories rose 0.3% in February, while a -0.2% drop in sales left the stock-to-sales ratio at a boated 1.29.

Initial weekly jobless claims rose 14,000 to 281,000. The 4-week average fell 3,000 to 282,250. Continuing claims fell 23,000 to 2.304 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose 1.7 points to 47.9 in the latest week.

The Fed’s balance sheet rose $1.6 billion last week, with total assets of $4.483 trillion. Reserve bank credit rose $0.7 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose by $10.5 billion in the latest week.


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Narrative Journalism, ideology and serving the “greater good”

I don’t know about you but I’ve been fascinated by the UVA/Rolling Stone “rape” debacle.  And while it is clear that Rolling Stone, in general, and the author of the RS article, Sabrina Rubin Erdely specifically, broke every journalistic rule out there, there’s a deeper story here (I’ll get to RS and Erdely later).

It’s about why the story even had a chance of being published.  It’s about the combination of “narrative journalism” and an ideological agenda.  It was about one supporting the other without any real evidence that what had been claimed (a gang rape by fraternity members) was true or had even happened.

The story was out there before Erdely had ever inquired about it.  And you have to understand that that story had largely been accepted as “the truth” by people who wanted to believe it to be so.  These weren’t just students and a couple of teachers, by the way.  These were very well connected people who knew exactly where to go to push their agenda.  Here’s that backstory:

As the Rolling Stone article fell apart, Catherine Lhamon’s involvement has gone virtually unmentioned. But a deeper look reveals her ties to Emily Renda, a University of Virginia employee and activist who put Erdely in touch with Jackie, the student whose claim that she was brutally gang-raped by seven members of a fraternity on Sept. 28, 2012, served as the linchpin for the 9,000-word Rolling Stone article.

President Obama nominated Lhamon to become the Education Department’s Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in July 2013. The Senate approved her unanimously the following month.

She has served as the Education Department’s designee to the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault which Obama created on Jan. 22, 2014. Renda served on the same task force.

Besides that link, both spoke at a February 2014 University of Virginia event entitled “Sexual Misconduct Among College Students.”

Lhamon has been invited to the White House nearly 60 times, according to visitor’s logs. Renda has been invited six times. Both were invited to the same White House meeting on three occasions. One, held on Feb. 21, 2014, was conducted by Lynn Rosenthal, then the White House Advisor on Violence Against Women. Twenty-one people, mostly activists, were invited to that meeting. Lhamon and Renda were invited to two other larger gatherings — one on April 29 and the other on Sept. 19.

It is unclear if both attended the three meetings. Renda did not respond to an emailed request for comment.

Renda and Lhamon also testified at a June 26, 2014, Senate hearing on campus sexual assault. It was at that hearing that Renda cited Jackie’s story that she was brutally gang-raped by five fraternity members — a statement that was inconsistent with Jackie’s claim to Erdely that she was raped by seven men. According to the Columbia report, Renda first told Erdely about Jackie’s allegation on July 8, nearly two weeks after her Senate testimony.

During her testimony, Lhamon claimed that “The best available research suggests that 20% of college women, and roughly 6% of college men, are victims of attempted or completed sexual assault.” That “one-in-five” claim about the prevalence of sexual assault on campus has been heavily disputed.

So when Erdely showed up wanting to do the rape story, she had Renda to encourage her to do this one, because both had the same agenda:

The reporter used Jackie’s story about a gang-rape to introduce readers to what she asserted was a systemic failure on the part of universities, police, and society to prevent and investigate sexual assault.

Rape culture.  Rape crisis.  How else does one advance such a story except finding the perfect “rape” to feature all of those things?  Bingo.  The prefect story. And who was more than willing to offer it?  Renda.

Now some may ask, “why do you contend that advancing such a narrative was Erdely’s motive?”  For one thing, she’d done it before on another “rape” story – this one in the military (another institution that is “misogynist”).  And it followed a very similar pattern.  The case involved a female Navy Petty Officer who claimed to have been sexually assaulted.  Leon Wolf, doing some great research, finds that Erdley did for that case exactly what she did for the UVA case – and so did the Rolling Stone editors:

The point of this story is this: the evidence is clear all over the face of this story that Erdely – as enabled by her editors at Rolling Stone – has a serial habit of reporting rapes without conducting any more fact checking than she did of the UVA story. It is facially obvious that she did not talk to the accused rapist because there wasn’t one. There is no evidence that she talked with anyone who was present at any of the bars where Ms. Blumer drank on the night before her DUI to attempt to verify even her story about meeting the three guys. And, again: the sources who spoke to RedState were clear that Ms. Erdely made no effort to contact any member of the Naval command who was involved with the investigation to get their side of the story with respect to what manner of investigation was conducted into Ms. Blumer’s allegations or what that investigation revealed.

After an exhaustive investigation that spanned a year and a half (which Erdely and Rolling Stone ignored and/or did no research into whatsoever), no one was able to produce any evidence that a sexual assault had occurred, physical or otherwise. The alleged victim herself had no recollection of it happening, did not report it to the police who arrested her, and had a ready motive for latching on to the narrative, which is that it would have stopped or possibly prevented punishment at the hands of her military superiors and possibly prevented her from permanently losing the top secret clearance necessary to keep her job.

Sound familiar?

This was an important story for the “rape culture” agenda.  It was to be the cherry on the top of the narrative that says, “college men are misogynists and serial abusers who need to be punished for their actions”.   That’s why the fictitious “20%” number was invented.  That’s why the DoE’s civil rights division is involved.  As noted, this story shows the connection all the way to the top and the narrative that was being pushed.  Erdley and Rolling Stone were heaven sent to these people and they used her just as she used them.  The result was shoddy journalism of the worst stripe that apparently is standard operating procedure for Rolling Stone (I have another example of precisely the same problem with another author that I highlighted February of 2011.)

Of course, as we’ve seen, the narrative, as presented by Erdley, failed spectacularly.  It not only couldn’t withstand even the slightest scrutiny, it had holes in it wide enough to drive a tank through.  Yet, that was precisely the narrative that had survived up until that time.  Why hadn’t the school investigated it more thoroughly before accepting the story?

Well, here’s why:

In December, as Erdely’s article began to collapse, Julia Horowitz, a student journalist at UVA, tried to explain why the campus newspaper had been caught flat-footed by the falsity of Jackie’s tale. She conceded that “factual inconsistencies” and “discrepancies” might exist in Erdely’s tale, but, she cautioned, “To let fact checking define the narrative would be a huge mistake.” Horowitz, exponent of this horrifying view of journalism, went on to become editor-in-chief of UVA’s student newspaper. Much of the media has been quick to pillory Rolling Stone, but Horowitz’s fear of allowing facts to overwhelm the narrative would be at home in vast swaths of our media — and government and higher education, too.

Facts shouldn’t define the narrative – got that? Now you understand why an administration, a magazine reporter and editors and a student “journalist” would let a tale like the UVA rape story exist and flourish – it fit the narrative like a glove if you didn’t look to closely.  And no one did – including Rolling Stone.

As to the reputations ruined and lives tarnished by all of this?  Well, that’s just collateral damage in a world where the narrative is much more important that the individual.  It serves the “greater good”, you see.

~McQ

 

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Economic Statistics for 8 Apr 15

The MBA reports that mortgage applications rose o.4% last week. Purchases rose 7.0%, but re-fis fell -3.0%.

The minutes of the Fed’s last FOMC meeting shows some concern about when–and how–to raise rates and unwind Quantitative Easing. The minutes show that making monetary policy changes very gradually is going to be the policy. Policy changes may begin as early as the summer, though this, of course, will be data-driven.


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Economic Statistics for 7 Apr 15

The Labor Department JOLTS report shows 5.133 million job openings on the last business day of February, versus 4.965 million in January.

Consumer credit rose a $15.5 billion in February, mainly on autos and government acquisition of student loans. Revolving credit fell $-3.7 billion, which seems to be bad news for consumer spending, especially as revolving credit has fallen in four of the last five months.

Redbook reports that last week’s retail sales rose to 3.4% on a year-ago basis, from the previous week’s 3.0%.

Gallup’s U.S. Economic Confidence Index fell -3 points to -2 in March.


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A Coupl’a Things

So, a few things have caught my attention over the last couple of days. None of them are related. They’re all just sort or random things I noticed in passing.

In response to the SJW freak-out over the owner of Memories Pizza in Indiana, Dana Loesch started a GoFundMe for the pizza shop that got over $800,000 in pledges. This made one SJW named John Furr unhappy.

Tweet

So, Mr. Furr tweeted how upset he was that GoFundMe allowed this project to be accepted and completed. He’s so upset that, even though he’s used the site for his prog-lefty fundraising, he’s going to boycott them from now on. Sure, he found the site useful to dredge up what money he could from his SJW sympathizers, but now that someone with an opposing political view has used the site, it’s become too corrupted to have anything to do with.

Apparently, it’s not enough for GoFundMe to be neutral in this political issue, and go about their business of allowing anyone to needs funding within their TOS to obtain it. Neutrality, is, in his view, just as evil as opposition in his quest for transcendental justice, I guess.

Think about what that implies. Either you give full-blown support to the appropriate Lefty causes or you’re simply an enemy. That’s the totalitarian face of the progressive Left. They aren’t interested in “tolerance”. They require approval. If you don’t want to weigh in and stand on the sidelines…well, that’s not good enough. You’re either all-in or you’re a class traitor. So, don’t kid yourself that they won’t come for you if they obtain the power to do so. You won’t get to be left alone.

These SJWs are totalitarians who demand a rigid conformity, and demonize anyone who won’t mouth the appropriate political line.

The Left could not be more effective at fomenting civil war in this country if they were trying to do so.

Bill O’Reilly’s book, Killing Jesus, has been made into a movie, and they showed it on FOXNews over the Easter weekend. It was weird.

In the movie, Jesus kind of announces himself to the world by having Peter haul in a butt-load of fish in a single cast. Nobody had seen anything like it. Anyway, the Sanhedrin convinces Pilate to crucify Jesus, and he’s put in the tomb, with the High Priest asking for Roman soldiers to guard the tomb to ensure the disciples don’t steal the body and claim he came back from the dead.

A couple of days later, some folks go to the tomb, where the stone has been rolled away, and the corpse is gone, with an empty shroud just laying there. The very next scene, Peter is back in Galilee, fishing, and looking all sad and puppy-like. Then, a whole bunch of fish swim into his net. He hauls in his record catch, and yells over to one of the other disciples, “He has returned!” Except that he, you know, hadn’t. So, basically, the whole Resurrection deal was just…disappeared from the movie.

Now, look, the Resurrection is kind of a Big Deal in Christianity. One might almost say that Christianity without the Resurrection is pointless. I mean, if you’re gonna do a Jesus movie, and play it on Easter Frickin’ Sunday, you might think that some mention would be made of the couple of hundred people or so whom the Bible asserts actually saw and spoke with Jesus for about a month after the crucifixion, or watched him fly up into heaven. But, you’d be wrong. The body just disappeared—with hints that the disciples took it—and the whole resurrection deal was symbolic thing, rather than Resurrected Jesus walking up to people and saying, “Yeah, It’s me. No really, poke my spear-holes of you don’t believe me!”

I found it odd that this Killing Jesus deal was hyped as some sort of authoritative look at Jesus life, and they just elided the whole Resurrection thing away. On Easter Sunday.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia made a strange statement. They are suspending their report on state-level leading and coincident indicators. Why?

The recent benchmark data revisions from the Bureau of Labor Statistics produced greater changes to the Philadelphia Fed’s estimating methodology than are typical. While estimates for most states do appear to be reasonable, those for some states are not.

In other words, the BLS has “adjusted” the data so badly that they don’t make any sense, and the Fed can’t use them to produce the state leading and coincident indicators index. They are, in short, worthless. The BLS, of course, says they give us the real scoop, without any of that nasty political data massaging.

Apparently, the Philly Fed disagrees.

Sally Kohn is an NYU law school graduate. But, I’m going to assume it was the NYU School of Legal Things and Stuff for Kids That Don’t Think Too Good, because today she wrote this:

You could also argue that the government is forcing you to drive below the speed limit or wear a seatbelt in your car. But it’s not. There isn’t a police officer holding a gun to your head literally forcing you to buckle up. In fact, you are 100 percent free to speed and not wear your seatbelt—and simply deal with the consequences if you’re pulled over. Is the threat of the fine for breaking the law amount to “forcing” you to follow the law? No.

This definition of “force” contravenes literally everything we know about how law—and language—works. The whole point of having laws is to engage you with whatever force is necessary to stop you from, or punishing you for, disobeying them. You can’t even spell “law enforcement” without “force”.

So, the key takeaway: Progressives aren’t just raging totalitarians…they are dumber than wet stumps.


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Economic Statistics for 6 Apr 15

The composite index from the ISM non-manufacturing survey for March fell -0.4 points to 56.5.

The Markit PMI services index rose 2.1 point to 59.2 in March.

Gallup’s self-reported Consumer Spending measure shows Americans’ spending averaged $86 In March, versus $82 in February.

The Federal Reserve’s Labor Market Conditions Index fell sharply from a revised 2.0 in February to -0.3 in March.


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