The unpatriotic left (but I repeat myself)

John Daniel Davidson:

A recent profile of Rep. Illan Omar by the Washington Post made waves because of its revelation that the congresswoman lied to a group of high school students about witnessing racism and injustice in a Minneapolis courtroom. In an anecdote lifted almost verbatim from the plot of “Les Miserables,” Omar claimed she saw a “sweet, old… African American lady,” who had spent the weekend in jail for stealing a $2 loaf of bread to feed her “starving 5-year-old granddaughter,” handed an $80 fine. Omar, unable to control her emotions, blurted out, “Bullsh—t!” in the courtroom.

But Omar’s lies aren’t nearly as revealing as when she tells the truth. In that same speech to the high schoolers, she said “I grew up in an extremely unjust society, and the only thing that made my family excited about coming to the United States was that the United States was supposed to be the country that guaranteed justice to all. So, I feel it necessary for me to speak about that promise that’s not kept.”

The promise that’s not kept. Consider the disconnect between that statement, the seething resentment behind it, and the reality of Omar’s own life story. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine an American success story more demonstrative of America keeping its promise. Omar’s family fled civil war in Somalia when she was a child and spent four poverty-stricken years in a Kenyan refugee camp before the United States, in its generosity, granted them admission to America as refugees.

Here, safe from the violence and chaos of their home country, they flourished. Omar received a college education, started a family, won election to the Minnesota State House at age 34, and two years later, became a member of Congress.

The Left Has an Inverted View of America

What, one wonders, does Omar have to say for the country that has given her so much? Mostly, that it has failed to be the Hollywood utopia she was promised as a child, that “the classless America that my father talked about didn’t exist.” Of course it didn’t exist. There’s no such thing as a classless society, anywhere. That’s something everyone learns, or should learn, as they become an adult and encounter the real world.

Instead, Omar takes it as evidence that America is based on a massive lie—a promise not kept, as if America actually promised a classless society free from inequality, poverty, and the manifold trials of human existence. According to this way of thinking, past mistakes and injustices, whether in foreign policy or civil rights, simply reveal the hypocrisy of America’s founding ideals. The United States was fatally flawed from the beginning, conceived in sin, and deserves only damnation.

Such thinking is now commonplace and mainstream. Witness the recent Fourth of July scrum of sports stars and media outlets quoting—and utterly misunderstanding—Frederick Douglass’s famous speech, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?”

The Washington Post, Time Magazine, and former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick all cited the 1852 speech as a condemnation of America for its hypocrisy, confirming their present-day animus toward their country. WBUR Boston ran a commentary piece from a young black woman about why she doesn’t celebrate the Fourth, citing Douglass’s speech and declaring the holiday “a festivity with no substance, a celebration with no soul.”

They are of course wrong. Douglass concludes his condemnation of American slavery with an appeal to America’s founding. The Constitution, he writes (in all caps), “is a “GLORIOUS LIBERTY DOCUMENT” and the principles of the Declaration of Independence are to him a source of hope. He wrote and believed this in the face of American injustice and oppression incomparably worse than anything we have today. So did Martin Luther King Jr., for whom the Constitution and Declaration of Independence were a “promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.”

For Social Justice Warriors, America’s Promise Is a Lie

This is not how elites in academia, media, entertainment, and the Democratic Party see America today. That’s why corporations like Nike repudiate American symbols like the Betsy Ross flag at the slightest provocation. That’s why Democrats, including several major presidential candidates, now support reparations for slavery (Sen. Elizabeth Warren even claims America owes reparations for denying tax breaks to gay couples before the legalization of same-sex marriage). That’s why NBC News thought fit to publish a story about how Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s great-great-grandfather owned slaves, and how that fact was somehow relevant to McConnell’s opposition to reparations.

For these people, America today isn’t much better than it was in Douglass’s day. There’s a telling anecdote in the Post’s Omar profile about a young political activist and fundraiser from Omar’s district named Filsan Ibrahim. Like Omar, Ibrahim and her family fled war-torn Somalia and were taken in by the United States. Like Omar, she and her sisters all went to college. And Like Omar, she has a jaundiced view of the country that adopted her:

‘All of America is focused on people’s backgrounds,’ Filsan said. ‘It’s all anyone cares about. You can’t come here and just be an American unless you are white. Otherwise you are a Somali American, an African American, an Asian American.’

‘It’s bulls—,’ her sister agreed.

‘Hilarious,’ her other sister added.

A few days later Filsan, her mother and her sisters attended a fundraiser and rally for nine Somalis who had been convicted in 2016 of trying to travel to Syria to fight on behalf of the Islamic State.

The irony is that the hyper-focus on people’s backgrounds is a feature of the left, not the right. Democrats and progressives are the ones who push for hyphenation and separation according to ethnic and sexual identities, while conservatives generally try to see people as individuals.

Ultimately, it’s both sad and frightening that Omar and these young women, for whom America has been a lifeline, can’t see that social justice culture and identity politics, which have seeped into the mainstream, have betrayed them and turned what should have been to them a great blessing—a home in America—into a curse.

Trump and the Gang of Four

Jim Geraghty:

On Sunday, Donald Trump gave the Democrats a gift — comments that indicate he thinks native-born congresswomen he detests should “go back” to the countries of their ancestors. On Monday, the four congresswomen handed Trump a gift in return, managing to respond to the president’s insults in some of the most politically self-destructive ways possible.

First, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota again called for impeaching President Trump during the press conference with the members of the “Squad” yesterday afternoon. The latest NBC News poll finds that just 21 percent of registered voters want the House to begin impeachment proceedings. With the Democratic presidential primary heating up, most Americans feel like they can see the 2020 presidential election off in the distance. To many Americans, including many of those critical of Trump, a certain-to-fail effort to remove the president from office right before the voters have their say on whether to give him a second term sounds like a ridiculous waste of time.

Separately, Al Green, Democrat from Texas, announced he would introduce articles of impeachment of Trump for his tweets. “The President of the United States is a racist, a bigot, a misogynist, as well as an invidious prevaricator,” Green said. “To say that Donald John Trump is unfit for the Office of the President of the United States is an understatement.” It’s easy to forget that this is the third time Green has done this, and the number of House Democrats willing to support impeachment is in the low 80s, well below the 217 needed.

Get it over with, House Democrats. Have the vote on impeachment. We all know this is going nowhere. Stop telling us what you’re going to do someday and as Betsy Ross flag-denouncing Colin Kaepernick would say, just do it.

Second, Omar also contended Trump “has been credibly accused of committing multiple crimes, including colluding with a foreign government to interfere with our election.” Did she miss the entire Mueller report? Or does she think that Trump did collude and that over 22 months, Robert Mueller and his whole team of investigators and prosecutors just missed the evidence?

Omar revealed that some Trump foes will never let it go, that they will never believe any exoneration, and that there is no need for evidence — at a press conference where the squad was denouncing Trump for making terrible accusations without evidence.

Third, some on the right are arguing that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez refused to denounce an attempted firebombing of the Tacoma immigration detention center. It’s probably more accurate to say she ignored the question. The attacker carried a rifle, attempted to light a propane tank, and set a car on fire; police shot and killed him.

The motive appeared to be anti-ICE, anti-immigration-enforcement terrorism:

Deb Bartley, a friend of Van Spronsen’s for about 20 years, described him as an anarchist and anti-fascist, and she believes his attack on the detention center was intended to provoke a fatal conflict.

“He was ready to end it,” Bartley said. “I think this was a suicide. But then he was able to kind of do it in a way that spoke to his political beliefs . . . I know he went down there knowing he was going to die.”

Still, any of the Squad’s members would be wise to denounce this attack, and as of this writing, they haven’t done so. I suspect they will only do so if they are specifically asked about it.

This comes after protesters at an ICE facility in Aurora, Colorado, took down the American flag and put up a Mexican one, then spray painted graffiti on a Blue Lives Matter flag before flying it upside down on the flag pole. The entire sequence is tailor-made for a Trump reelection commercial.

Whether or not the four congresswomen hate this country, there are antifa and anti-ICE protesters who indisputably do hate this country. Rich may have inspired the 2020 Trump reelection slogan: “Men Literally Died for That Flag, You Idiots.”

Elizabeth Harrington passes on what those who are criticizing Trump are defending (with repeated tweets for some reason):

Since the media refuses to provide any context, a thread of statements made by the socialist “squad” in the House: Ilhan Omar laughing about al Qaeda, wondering why we don’t speak of America in the same tones

 

More on Omar from Facebook Friend Michael Smith:

Let’s review:

A person and their family are rescued from a refugee camp just over the border of their home country that is in the middle of a religious war. Their home country is a communist country, a country with a non-functional economy where everyone but the powerful is starving.

The rescue comes by the people of a peaceful, prosperous, free and religiously tolerant, majority Christian country that is half a world away, the government of which has programs to support these refugees and help the integrate and assimilate.

This person takes advantage of all the new country has to offer and becomes successful in politics, so much so they join the national governing body.

And yet, this person claims the country is racist, xenophobic and Islamophobic and seeks to change its method of governance and its economy – a desire, strangely enough, to change America into the very conditions that led to the war in their own country.

This is Ilhan Omar.

The New York Times relates a story about Omar. To wit:

“She has spoken about being bullied for wearing a hijab during her time in Virginia, recalling classmates sticking gum on it, pushing her down stairs, and jumping her when changing for gym class. Omar remembers her father’s reaction to these incidents: “They are doing something to you because they feel threatened in some way by your existence.”

I don’t believe her.

She has told far too many lies abut her past.

This is par for the course how she claims victim status to deflect from her radicalism. I honestly believe this woman has been groomed to be a sleeper agent who has been activated to wreak political terrorism on this country – and she is a walking, talking narrative that represents every victim class the progressive left has been cultivating for decades.

More than anything, she represents the progressive faction within the Demorat Party and it is their problem with which to deal. I can oppose her without cost because I’m going to be called a racist, xenophobic Islamophobe no matter what. They can’t.

More on Tahib from Caitlin Yilek:

Rep. Rashida Tlaib stood firm in her conviction that President Trump will be impeached while speaking to an audience of liberals Saturday.

“We’re going to impeach the MF’er, don’t worry!” she said to huge applause at Netroots Nation, echoing a line from January that drew criticism for its profanity.

“I will not back down impeaching this lawless president. He will not be above the law and get away with it on my watch,” the Michigan Democrat said. “Stay strong. Stay strong on this. If we don’t call him out, if we don’t push for this … who is going to be the next crooked CEO that runs for president? You know they’re coming.”

Tlaib made waves in January when just hours after being sworn in she told a liberal gathering, “We’re gonna go in and impeach the motherf—er.”

As for “that motherf—er,” Bookworm writes:

The reaction from the Progressive and Democrat cohort, encompassing politicians, presidential candidates, and the media, was predictable: RACIST!!! It did not matter that Trump said nothing about race. There was a dog whistle there and, naturally enough, race-obsessed Leftists heard it.

(Before I go on, a brief moment of ironic laughter here. When Occasional Cortex accused Nancy Pelosi of racism, Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-Mo), a member of both the Black and Progressive Congressional caucuses opined, “What a weak argument. Because you can’t get your way and because you’re getting pushback you resort to using the race card? Unbelievable. Unbelievable to me.” Likewise, Maureen Dowd also piped up with “A.O.C. should consider the possibility that people who disagree with her do not disagree with her color.” Coming from people who’ve spent the last 11 years insisting that racism is the only reason anyone can disagree with their agenda, that’s pretty rich. And now back to my post….)

Equally predictably, when he was againcalled a racist, Trump was not cowed. Instead, he doubled-down:

Two conservative writers whom I admire tremendously think Trump made a terrible mistake with today’s tweets. Ed Driscoll agrees with a RedState pundit who thinks Trump essentially own-goaled himself. Likewise, John Hinderaker, one of the first conservative pundits I followed when I crossed the political Rubicon from Democrat to conservative, argues that Trump committed “a blunder of epic proportions.” I have to differ.

What I think Trump did was to drag the Overton window back to some semblance of reality. For those unfamiliar with that expression, the Overton window is a way of describing ideas that are allowable in public discourse. For example, when Lucille Ball became pregnant during the run of I Love Lucy, the word “pregnant” was not spoken in polite society. The show used a bazillion euphemisms, but never once uttered the word pregnant. In 1950s television, smack in the middle of the Baby Boom, getting pregnant was part of the Overton window, while actually using the word “pregnant” was not.

For the past 60 years, Leftists have been pushing the Overton window steadily . . . (duh) left. From the manic colors of the LGBTQRSTUV+ rainbow, to contending that people can magically use hormones and surgery to “change” their gender, to “shouting your abortion,” Leftists are introducing entirely new (and frequently insane) ideas into the realm of acceptable public conversation.

At the same time — and this is what Trump fully understands — Leftists are closing the Overton window on ideas that were once considered perfectly normal. Think of ideas that were normal just a decade ago: using pronouns consistent with biological sex, worrying about Muslim-inspired terrorism, admiring the Founding Fathers, believing that a traditional male-female marriage is optimal for raising children, mentioning the Judeo-Christian God in public, questioning anthropogenic climate change, or being anything but mindlessly positive about a member of a “Progressive protected victim class.” Nowadays, thanks to relentless media, entertainment, political, and educational pressure, voicing those ideas creates the risk that the speaker will be shouted down, humiliated, fired, or even physically attacked.

It was not so long ago that we expected people who came to America as immigrants to (a) recognize that they were invited guests, rather than entitled squatters; and (b) not to bad mouth their new country. I know what I’m talking about, for I grew up in a world of immigrants. Not only did my parents come from another country, so did all of their friends, as well as the parents of my own friends. All of these immigrants, without exception, came here legally with some, such as my father, a Polish citizen, waiting years before they were allowed in thanks to national quotas. All of these immigrants, without exception, either had to bring money with them or have someone sponsor them so that they did not become a charge on the public.

And all of these immigrants, without exception, worked hard. Some made it financially; some, like my father, never did. But all of them recognized that their being in America was a rare privilege. Even though many missed their home country (the food, familiar customs, etc.) or, in the case of the Europeans, looked longingly at the cradle-to-grave care Europeans could afford in the 1970s thanks to America paying their defense costs, they still understood that they were lucky to have been invited into an extraordinary country. They recognized that, even though it might have been hard to leave their familiar world behind, they had made it possible for their children to have a much better life than anything they could have done in the old country. There were noexceptions to these values in my world of immigrants.

The viewpoint I’ve just described was Overton window on the subject of immigration for centuries: America is an incredible land of opportunity and, thankfully, a generous country. We Americans want to continue as we have done by inviting into our country hard workers and creative people who will be appropriately grateful for the opportunity given to themselves and their children. We recognize that new immigrants will inevitably suffer from homesickness and that they may view some of the things they left behind as more virtuous or better run than America, but we expect that, having freely volunteered to come here, they will treat their new home with love and respect. Moreover, that wasn’t just the American point of view; the immigrants came in with the same attitude.

Within the last decade or so, the Leftists changed this immigration Overton window. Pretty much ever since Obama hit the White House, Leftists have insulted America and then doubled-down on insulting America, and than increased their insults to America. Even as people from around the world have illegally stormed America’s borders, the Left has told us — and instructed these new immigrants to believe — that America is a stinking pile of poop country, filled with evil plutocrats and redneck racists. To the Left and the new immigrants they indoctrinate, America is a country to be loathed, not to be admired. Moreover, immigrants are told to believe that whether we graciously invited them in or they voluntarily broke in to our country like common criminals.

You know that and I know that this is what the Leftists have done. Moreover, the millions of Americans who aren’t as political as we are know that this is what Leftists have done. They intuitively recognize that the new Overton window is as unrelated to reality as the current gender madness, but because of the Leftist Overton window shift, they are cowed into silence. The silent, sane majority in of Americans know that they can lose their jobs, get doxed, be socially humiliated, or be subject to brutal attacks if they suggest that people who were living in dirt poor, war torn, corrupt countries were blessed to come here. It would be even worse were these silenced Americans to state the obvious conclusion: If these new immigrants cannot show gratitude for the country that took them in, but insist that it’s the most evil country in the world and that their dirt poor, war torn, corrupt homeland is better, they should stop taking up space in America and return to their natal lands.

In other words, Trump stated the obvious. And by his willingness to state the obvious, he has returned the obvious to the realm of public discourse. He has shifted the Overton window back to a more normal, common sense debate. It wasn’t a mistake of epic proportions. It was a brilliant insistence on having public debate occur in reality world, not in the Leftist’s dystopian fantasy world.

Presty the DJ for July 17

Two Beatles anniversaries of note today: The movie “Yellow Submarine” premiered in London …

… six years before John Lennon was ordered to leave the U.S. within 60 days. (He didn’t.)

Birthdays today start with pianist Vince Guaraldi. Who? The creator of the Charlie Brown theme (correct name: “Linus and Lucy”):

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for July 17”

Go West, bureaucrats

The Washington Post:

The Trump administration plans to relocate most of the Bureau of Land Management’s D.C. workforce to west of the Rockies, part of its broader push to shift power away from Washington and shrink the size of the federal government.

The proposal to move roughly 300 employees from a key Interior Department agency — among them the majority of top managers — comes as Trump officials are forcibly reassigning career officials and upending operations across the federal government. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue finalized plans this summer to move about 550 jobs at two of his department’s scientific agencies from the nation’s capital to greater Kansas City. The White House is trying to abolish the Office of Personnel Management, the government’s human resources agency, and has threatened to furlough as many as 150 employees if Congress blocks it.

“The problem with Washington is too many policy makers are far removed from the people they are there to serve,” Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) said in a statement supporting the land agency’s move. “Ninety-nine percent of the land the BLM manages is West of the Mississippi River, and so should be the BLM headquarters.”

But opponents argue that abrupt decisions to relocate or reassign federal workers have not been justified by sufficient analysis, can disrupt families’ lives and already have cost the government valuable expertise. BLM has about 360 employees in Washington, many of them supervisors, with 95 percent of its 9,260 employees working in the field.

“If I wanted to dismantle an agency, this would be in my playbook,” said Steve Ellis, who retired as BLM’s deputy director in 2016 after nearly four decades in government service. In a phone interview Monday, he said that transferring so many employees out of Washington could complicate the agency’s relationship with Capitol Hill, budget officials and other federal entities.

He noted that Interior dispatched all of its wildfire and aviation staff to Boise, Idaho, in the 1990s only to reestablish a wildland fire office in the District when lawmakers expected briefings after fires broke out in the West.

“It’s important for these agencies to have a meaningful footprint in D.C.,” Ellis said.

Margaret Weichert, Office of Management and Budge deputy director for management, said in a statement that the move will make the government more efficient and “better serve the American people.”

In a shift long sought by conservatives, Trump’s government has shed thousands of employees overall since he took office, with gains at the Defense Department and Department of Veterans Affairs but an exodus of civil servants at several other agencies, including Labor, Education, and Housing and Urban Development.

Jason A. Briefel, head of the Senior Executive Association that represents 6,000 top government leaders, said it is worth having a public conversation about how to reorganize different agencies. But he questioned whether the Trump administration has made a solid business case for some of these decisions.

“This isn’t just an Interior issue,” he said in an interview. “This is a government-wide issue.”

Some of the BLM employees slated for a job transfer will move to Grand Junction, Colo., according to three federal officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the decision has not been formally announced. But some of the affected workers — who include some top officials, Senior Executive Service staffers and low-level managers — will move to other cities in the West.

Interior officials have been eyeing a possible move for BLM, which manages more than 10 percent of the nation’s land, for more than two years. A handful of Western states, such as Colorado and Utah, have sought to recruit the agency. …

The idea of shifting the bureau west has received the support of some lawmakers, including the top Republican on the House Natural Resources Committee, Rob Bishop (Utah), as well as Gardner and Sen. Michael F. Bennet (D-Colo.). In March 2018, the two senators from Colorado urged then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to look at the city lying roughly 280 miles west of Denver.

Bishop said Interior Secretary David Bernhardt is “promoting a thoughtful, methodical approach.”

But House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) accused Bernhardt of being secretive about his plans. Bernhardt’s hometown of Rifle, Colo., is not far from Grand Junction.

“Putting BLM headquarters down the road from Secretary Bernhardt’s hometown just makes it easier for special interests to walk in the door demanding favors without congressional oversight or accountability,” Grijalva said. “The agency will lose a lot of good people because of this move, and I suspect that’s the administration’s real goal here.”

Well, my goal is to eviscerate the federal government, so I’m all for this. Any federal employee who doesn’t like the move is free to move to a different job.

When you’ve lost your own party …

Patrick Marley of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers is taking fire from within his party over his handling of the state budget.

In an online video for WisPolitics.com, former state Senate Majority Leader Chuck Chvala called Evers’ work on the budget a “disaster” and said the governor and his team “were not up to this budget” — even though that team includes Chvala’s wife.

“I hate to say this, but Robin Vos won the battle of the budget,” Chvala said, referring to the Republican leader of the state Assembly. “Tony Evers lost and it was a disaster.”

Spokeswomen for Evers did not immediately respond Monday to questions about Chvala’s attacks.

Chvala made the comments Friday on “The Insiders,” an online show that features him and former GOP Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen discussing state politics. The pair fought regularly during the 1990s and early 2000s when they led the Legislature, and they left office after a scandal over campaigning on state time resulted in criminal charges.

Chvala said Evers should have vetoed the state budget and forced Republicans who control the Legislature to come up with a spending plan more to his liking. Evers chose not to take that unprecedented step and instead issued 78 partial vetoes this month to put more money toward schools and take out GOP provisions he didn’t like.

“Gov. Evers promised that he would fight like hell for the people of this state,” Chvala said. “Putting together a budget and having a few press conferences and appearing around the state is not fighting like hell. Fighting like hell is going through an uncomfortable summer and fall and getting the people of the state of Wisconsin, who are with you, to make sure that the Legislature comes around. And he would have won. He would have won a lot. Unfortunately, the governor didn’t recognize all the power he had.”

Chvala said Evers had public sentiment on his side on education and health care and could have forced Republicans to side with him. He said Evers had the upper hand because he isn’t up for re-election until 2022, while most lawmakers will be on the ballot next year.

“You would never see Tommy Thompson let an opportunity like this go,” Chvala said, referring to the former Republican governor. “He failed sadly, miserably. He’s a wonderful man. He has the right intentions. He has a good heart and he cares about the people of Wisconsin. But he — Gov. Evers and his team were not up to this budget and they lost terribly.”

Chvala did not note that among the people on Evers’ team is Chvala’s wife, Barbara Worcester. She serves as one of Evers’ deputy chiefs of staff and was heavily involved in putting together the budget.

Chvala did not immediately return a phone message Monday. Worcester did not immediately respond to questions sent by email.

Chvala, Jensen and three other lawmakers were charged in 2002 during the so-called caucus scandal for directing aides to campaign using state resources.

As part of a plea deal, Chvala was convicted of two felonies. Jensen was convicted of one misdemeanor.

(Side note: Chvala and I have a history. I worked on his first state Senate campaign in 1984, years before he turned into the attack dog that ran the state Senate because no other Democrat wanted to. Back in my business magazine days, I referred to him as Chuck “It’s been the rich vs. the rest of us” Chvala, an ironic statement coming from someone who didn’t become poor from politics. However, Chvala has faced some terrible personal tragedy in his life, and so I thought the personal attacks on him in the 1990s were out of line.)

As someone who didn’t really like the budget because it spent too much money, I must say it’s always fun to see Democrats cannibalizing each other. It’s hard to argue with Chvala, though, given that Evers tried to raise business taxes and failed, tried to raise income taxes and failed, tried to raise gas taxes and failed, and campaigned on a bunch of other things that were dead on arrival in the Legislature as well.

One wonders if Milwaukee and Madison realize they got an empty suit elected governor.

Or as Limbaugh puts it, be of good cheer

Gregg Easterbrook has some nice Monday observations:

News, commentary and academia are all-negative all-the-time. The latest Gallup poll shows only 36 percent of Americans are “satisfied with the way things are going,” versus 71 percent 20 years ago. Yet in the main, the United States has never been better off.

Across the globe there is horrible war in a few places, and backsliding regarding liberty in China and other nations. Yet in the main, the world has never been better off.

How do we reconcile such conflicting realities?

My book It’s Better Than It Looks comes to the counterintuitive conclusion that the world shows positive trend lines in nearly all major areas.

The reason I wrote this book is that evidence of a better world is beginning to accumulate. Our understanding of life ought to be based on observation of the new factual evidence, not on old doomsday assumptions or political scare-mongering.

Because academics, politicians, pundits and cable news are inclined to embrace pessimism, a feedback loop is created: we keep telling ourselves things are terrible, even as evidence of the reverse accumulates.

Is it really better than it looks? Crime, disease rates, discrimination and pollution (other than greenhouse gases) are in extended phases of decline. Longevity, education and living standards have been rising. Unemployment and inflation both are near historic lows; supplies of food and resources are high. Technology grows steadily safer rather than more dangerous.

Though there are heartbreaking exceptions such as Syria, incidence and intensity of war are in a quarter-century cycle of diminishing. During the last 25 years, the chance that a member of the human family would become a casualty of war has dropped to less than a tenth of what it was in the century before.

Most striking, freedom from want, one of the Four Freedoms sought by Franklin Roosevelt, draws ever-closer. In 1990, more than a third of humanity endured what the World Bank defines as extreme poverty. Today that share is down to 10 percent — despite about 1.5 billion people added to the global census during the period.

Just before leaving office, Barack Obama said, “If you had to choose blindly what moment you’d want to be born, you’d choose now… the world has never, collectively, been wealthier, better educated, healthier or less violent than it is today. That’s hard to imagine given what we see in the news, but it’s true.”

Does optimism lead to complacency? Far from it: optimism offers the strongest case for the next round of reform.

The reason pollution, discrimination and violence are declining, while longevity, education levels and economic output are rising, is that social, business and regulatory reforms have worked.

More reforms are needed now to counter climate change and inequality; address shortages of affordable housing; treat refugees properly; close the racial and gender pay gaps. Embracing the positive worldview leads ineluctably to favoring such reforms.

Of course there are men and women with serious problems. But as It’s Better Than It Looks says, “Most people across the world live better than any generation in the past, and trends of improvement are likely to continue.”

Accepting the accumulating evidence that most global conditions are improving means rejecting the reactionary claims of the world’s declinists and autocrats. We need to snap out of the pessimistic mindset — and get down to work on making the world even better.

The independent Amash

Nick Gillespite and Paul Detrick:

When Michigan Congressman Justin Amash announced he was leaving the Republican Party to become an independent, he didn’t just say goodbye to the GOP—he opened up a whole new set of possibilities in American politics.

In choosing principle over party, the 39-year-old son of a Palestinian refugee has become the spokesman for all Americans who believe in limited government. Since taking office in 2011, Amash has been an outspoken critic of out-of-control government spending, state surveillance, and unauthorized wars. He believes that President Donald Trump engaged in impeachable behavior, but he’s primarily motivated by the belief that Congress is no longer doing its job of writing laws that the Executive branch implements.

“The founders envisioned Congress as a deliberative body in which outcomes are discovered,” Amash wrote in The Washington Post“We are fast approaching the point, however, where Congress exists as little more than a formality to legitimize outcomes dictated by the president, the speaker of the House, and the Senate majority leader.”

Amash doesn’t believe the system can be reformed from within, telling CNN’s Jake Tapper:

“I don’t think there’s anyone in there who can change the system…. It’s pretty rigid. It’s top-down. It comes down from leadership to the bottom. And over the years it’s gotten more rigid.  It’s more difficult now to change the process than it was a few years ago.”

This is something Amash has been consistent on for his entire time in Congress. He’s called out Nancy Pelosi for strait-jacketing the way legislation is introduced, debated, and voted on—a criticism he leveled against her Republican predecessors. In a 2018 interview with Reason, he lodged this complaint against then-Speaker Paul Ryan (R–Wis.):

The speaker has not been protecting the institution. You need a speaker in there who is an institutionalist, who cares about the institution first, who is not a partisan…. Let Republicans and Democrats and others offer their amendments, and let’s have votes on all sorts of things, substantive things, not just post offices like they do now.

Modern politics is “trapped in a partisan death spiral,” says Amash. But there is a way out if Congress will actually do its job and if the House and Senate become less fixated on partisan advantage. “What you have right now are two parties that are relatively small and weak, and, actually the reason they are so partisan right now is because they are small and weak,” he told Reason. “The future I see is one where there are no strong parties and more independent candidates. We don’t really need the parties anymore.”

Amash says he will run for Congress as an independent and is confident that he can retain his seat. But he also hasn’t ruled out running for president, possibly as a Libertarian.

Whether that happens, Justin Amash has already stirred things up by doing what he believes in rather than what is convenient for partisan purposes. For that alone, he deserves our attention—and commands our respect.

Well, whether you respect Amash or not (and one should never respect politicians), Amash is free, and should be free, to do what he wants. It may be helpful to American politics if more followed Amash, from both parties. Doing the right thing is more important than doing what your party wants you to do.

Presty the DJ for July 15

Today in 1963, Paul McCartney was fined 17 pounds for speeding. I’d suggest that that may have been the inspiration for his Wings song “Hell on Wheels,” except that the correct title is actually “Helen Wheels,” supposedly a song about his Land Rover:

Imagine having tickets to this concert at the Anaheim Civic Center today in 1967:

Today in 1984, John Lennon released “I’m Stepping Out.” The fact that Lennon stepped out of planet Earth at the hands of assassin Mark David Chapman 3½ years before this song was released was immaterial.

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for July 15”

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