Patterico's Pontifications

8/24/2017

Kindergarten Teacher Introduces Class Of 5-Year Olds To Transgenderism Without Parents’ Knowledge

Filed under: General — Dana @ 6:33 am

[guest post by Dana]

Simply put: the district didn’t have to notify parents because district policy says the topic of gender identity is different from sex education and therefore doesn’t require prior parental notice. In other words, another school gives parents yet another reason to home school:

The Rocklin Academy school board is facing tough questions from parents concerned over a controversial incident involving transgender discussions inside a kindergarten class.

At Monday night’s board meeting, the teacher at the center of the controversy spoke out. With emotions high, she addressed a packed house.

“I’m so proud of my students, it was never my intent to harm any students but to help them through a difficult situation,” she said.

The teacher defended her actions to read two children’s books about transgenderism including one titled “I am Jazz.” She says the books were given to her by a transgender child going through a transition.

“The kindergartners came home very confused, about whether or not you can pick your gender, whether or not they really were a boy or a girl,” said England.

Parents say besides the books, the transgender student at some point during class also changed clothes and was revealed as her true gender.

As one parent at the meeting put it:

“I want her to hear from me as a parent what her gender identity means to her and our family, not from a book that may be controversial,” a parent said.

Go figure, right? No wonder some parents felt “betrayed” and “blindsided”. It gives on hope to realize that there are actually still parents who believe that it is their responsibility to decide the time and place and how to discuss sexual identity with their children, and become angered when other adults usurp that role and make those decisions for them.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

–Dana

8/22/2017

The Continuing Embarrassment of Political Correctness

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:29 pm

[guest post by Dana]

It has been said before that it is a stupid time to be alive. This certainly bolsters the claim:

ESPN confirmed Tuesday night that it had decided to pull an announcer from calling a University of Virginia football game because his name is Robert Lee. This Robert Lee is Asian.

“We collectively made the decision with Robert to switch games as the tragic events in Charlottesville were unfolding, simply because of the coincidence of his name. In that moment it felt right to all parties,” reads the ESPN statement posted at the popular Fox Sports college-football blog Outkick the Coverage.

They were worried about a backlash from the audience. Over the name a sports announcer. Let that sink in.

ESPN also said: “It’s a shame that this is even a topic of conversation and we regret that who calls play by play for a football game has become an issue.”

On this, I agree with ESPN: it is indeed a crying shame that this is even a topic of conversation. Just not in the way they think it is.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

–Dana

President Trump On Afghanistan: In The End We Will Win

Filed under: General — Dana @ 6:54 am

[guest post by Dana]

We will not be pulling out of Afghanistan:

“My original instinct was to pull out — and, historically, I like following my instincts. But all my life I’ve heard that decisions are much different when you sit behind the desk in the Oval Office. In other words, when you’re President of the United States. So I studied Afghanistan in great detail and from every conceivable angle. After many meetings, over many months, we held our final meeting last Friday at Camp David, with my Cabinet and generals, to complete our strategy.”

A lasting and real “victory” seems to be elusive, or perhaps unachievable thus far. Maybe we need a new definition of what that means, and what it would look like:

Trump Called For Victory. This is nothing new — and it’s the most controversial thing about Trump’s speech. That’s because Obama also called for victory as did George W. Bush, but none of them actually defined victory — and neither did Trump. Trump stated, “First, our nation must seek an honorable and enduring outcome worthy of the tremendous sacrifices that have been made, especially the sacrifices of lives. The men and women who serve our nation in combat deserve a plan for victory. They deserve the tools they need, and the trust they have earned, to fight and to win.” This last point is crucial: Trump wants to build up the military where Obama wanted to tear it down. But there’s still no point at which victory can be declared. Trump tried to define victory thusly: “From now on, victory will have a clear definition: attacking our enemies, obliterating ISIS, crushing al-Qaeda, preventing the Taliban from taking over Afghanistan, and stopping mass terror attacks against America before they emerge.” But that’s exactly the same definition Obama and W. used, to little avail.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

–Dana

8/21/2017

On Making Federalism Great Again

Filed under: General — Dana @ 5:21 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Ilya Somin has an insightful op-ed up over at National Review Online. It is well worth the read:

The Republicans are supposed to be the party of state autonomy and strict limits on federal power. But you would not know it based on the first six months of the Trump administration. On a variety of major issues involving immigration, law enforcement, and the “war on drugs,” the administration’s policies exemplify the phenomenon of “fair-weather federalism”: respecting limits on federal power only when politically convenient….

Sadly, the Trump administration and the GOP are far from the only fair-weather federalists in politics. Many of the liberal Democrats currently relying on federalism principles to protect sanctuary cities against Trump decried those very constraints in the past, when they impeded progressive priorities.

Both the Left and the Right could benefit from a more principled commitment to limiting federal power…. This is especially true in an era of deep partisan polarization, when Democrats and Republicans are farther apart on most issues than they have been in decades….

Decentralization of power can also help defuse the partisan hatred that is poisoning our politics. If the federal government had less control over our lives, both sides would have less to fear from their opponents’ victories at the national level.

Some people understandably fear that restricting federal power might open the door to oppressive state and local policies. The federal government undoubtedly has a role to play in enforcing constitutional rights and preventing unconstitutional discrimination by state and local governments. But carrying out those functions does not require anything approaching the sweeping authority currently wielded by Washington.

Since the election of Trump, leading progressive scholars such as National Constitution Center president Jeffrey Rosen and Yale Law School dean Heather Gerken have urged the Left to take a more favorable view of federalism. Left and Right are unlikely to come to a complete consensus on federalism any time soon. But there is considerable potential for agreement nonetheless. A new bipartisan and cross-ideological appreciation for limits on federal power could become one of the few beneficial developments of the Trump era. Together, we might yet make federalism great again.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

–Dana

Solar Eclipse

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:52 am

I saw what appeared to be a solar flare at 5 o’clock on the sun. With my naked eye.

Crazy.

UPDATE: My daughter took this picture with an iPhone through my father-in-law’s solar-safe telescope.

These images are from the NASA site.

If you look at the proximity of the moon to the sunspots, the NASA photo was taken perhaps 3 minutes after my daughter’s photo — but from a completely different place in the country, from Wyoming.

8/19/2017

Senator Tim Scott: President Trump’s “Moral Authority Is Compromised”

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:55 pm

I have a post at RedState titled Senator Tim Scott: President Trump’s “Moral Authority Is Compromised.” There’s video. Quote from the post:

Regardless of your views of the specifics of Trump’s comments, they have been a giant distraction from moving policy forward on things like ObamaCare repeal or tax reform.

And they have.

8/18/2017

Steve Bannon Out, Returns To Breitbart Feeling “Jacked Up”

Filed under: General — Dana @ 5:50 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Late to this: Steve Bannon is out, or as the NY Post puts it:

Top presidential adviser and nationalist bomb-thrower Steve Bannon is out of a job, the White House said Friday.

“Chief of Staff John Kelly and Steve Bannon have mutually agreed today would be Steve’s last day. We are grateful for his service and wish him the best,” press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

In a report in the Weekly Standard , Bannon, talked about the circumstances leading up to his departure, the Trump presidency, and his disdain for the “West Wing Democrats”. He also fired a warning shot:

Bannon assigns blame for the thwarting of his program on “the West Wing Democrats,” but holds special disdain for the Washington establishment—especially those Republicans who have, he believes, willfully failed to provide Trump with meaningful victories.

And, he believes, things are about to get worse for Trump. “There’s about to be a jailbreak of these moderate guys on the Hill”—a stream of Republican dissent, which could become a flood.”

“I feel jacked up,” he says. “Now I’m free. I’ve got my hands back on my weapons. Someone said, ‘it’s Bannon the Barbarian.’ I am definitely going to crush the opposition. There’s no doubt. I built a f***ing machine at Breitbart. And now I’m about to go back, knowing what I know, and we’re about to rev that machine up. And rev it up we will do.”

Reports say that Bannon chaired an editorial meeting tonight, having returned as chief executive.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

–Dana

8/17/2017

Senator Tim Scott: President Trump’s “Moral Authority Is Compromised” by Charlottesville Comments

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:59 pm

Vice News interviewed Senator Tim Scott today, and Senator Scott had some criticism for Donald Trump’s recent comments about Charlottesville:

SEN. SCOTT: I am not going to defend the indefensible. I’m not here to do that. I’m here to be clear, and to be concise and succinct. His comments on Monday were strong. His comments on Tuesday started erasing the comments that were strong. What we want to see from our president is clarity and moral authority. And that moral authority is compromised when Tuesday happens. There’s no question about that. We should all call that on the carpet. I certainly have.

INTERVIEWER: So does the president have moral authority now?

SEN. SCOTT: I think he has it. He’s losing a part of it.

INTERVIEWER: He has it? You think so?

SEN. SCOTT: Abso — he’s, we elected him as President so there’s no question that we gave him moral authority. The problem is that in this situation, in the last three or four days, what we’ve seen is that moral authority being compromised by the lack of clarity, by what we have seen as the, a pivot backwards, which is very unsettling for many Americans, to include me.

You can watch more than the excerpt I have provided by scrolling backwards or forwards in the video.

Regardless of your views of the specifics of Trump’s comments, they have been a giant distraction from moving policy forward on things like ObamaCare repeal or tax reform. Senator Scott isn’t making headlines for talking tax reform today. He’s making headlines for criticizing the comments from the President of his own party.

This keeps happening. And guess what?

It’s never going to stop, as long as Donald Trump is President.

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]

Piers Morgan And The “Nazi Exception” To The First Amendment

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:00 am

Yesterday I took on Matthew Walther’s inane claim that the government should censor Nazis. Today I address Piers Morgan’s similar contention that the First Amendment should not be used to protect Nazis. Responding to someone who said Morgan didn’t understand the purpose of the First Amendment, Morgan replied:

Piers Morgan saying he understands the purpose of the First Amendment reminds me of Jerry Seinfeld’s response to the car rental agent who told him that she didn’t have his reserved car — but that she knows what a reservation is. Seinfeld looked at her and said: “I don’t think you do!” You say you understand the purpose of the First Amendment, Piers Morgan? I don’t think you do!

Charles C.W. Cooke has already addressed this lunacy admirably at National Review. Let me chime in with my own less polished thoughts, after first quoting Cooke:

Morgan is echoing an idea that has been advanced repeatedly in the last couple of days: To wit, that there is something particular about Nazism that makes it ineligible for protection under the Bill of Rights. This is flat-out wrong. And, more than that, it’s dangerous. Abhorrent and ugly as they invariably are, there simply is no exception to the First Amendment that exempts Nazis, white supremacists, KKK members, Soviet apologists, or anyone else who harbors disgraceful or illiberal views. As the courts have made abundantly clear, the rules are the same for ghastly little plonkers such as Richard Spencer as they are for William Shakespeare. If that weren’t true, the First Amendment would be pointless.

This is not a “controversial” statement. It is not an “interesting view.” It is not a contrarian contribution to an intractable “grey area.” It is a fact. There are a handful of limits to free speech in the United States, and all of them are exceptions of form rather than of viewpoint.

. . . .

“I believe in free speech, but” or “I just don’t think this is a free speech issue” — both popular lines at the moment — simply will not cut it as arguments. On the contrary. In reality, all that the “but” and the “I just don’t think” mean is that the speaker hopes to exempt certain people because he doesn’t like them. But one can no more get away from one’s inconsistencies by saying “it’s not a speech issue to me” than one can get away from the charge that one is unreliable on due process insisting in certain cases, “well, that’s not a due process issue to me.” This is a free speech issue. Those who wish it weren’t just trying to have it both ways — to argue bluntly for censorship, and then to pretend that they aren’t.

The point I made yesterday regarding this issue is that, if you’re going to have a principle that says the government can ban speech, you have to ask one very important question: who gets to decide what speech is banned? And the answer is going to be “government officials.” And government officials will view the question through the lens of their own world views and self-interest rather than the common good. That alone should be enough to give you pause.

Are you comfortable with giving the IRS the power to audit people based on their political viewpoint? If the answer to that question is “no,” you should feel even more uneasy about giving government the power to ban wrongthink, or to imprison people whose views they don’t like.

It’s actually distressing to me that I need to say any of this. Rejection of content-based censorship by the government should be such a basic part of every American’s education that blog posts like this are completely unnecessary. But when prominent people keep saying such a silly view, it has to be refuted.

One irony in all of this is that the Nazis themselves suppressed speech they didn’t like as a way to stamp out any possible opposition to their views. Those who have studied history might remember that the Nazis made long lists of unacceptable books. Then they raided libraries and bookstores, seized those books, and held book burnings. Yet Piers Morgan would apparently be happy to see the government burn books, as long as the books arguably support Nazi views. How could he object to such book burnings, given his recent statements? Does this not show the insanity of his position?

This goes back to my question about who decides what speech can be banned. It might sound benign to say: hey, Nazi thought is bad, so obviously it should be banned. But when the Nazis were in power, they didn’t think Nazi thought was the problem. They thought the Jews were the problem. So instead of banning books by the likes of, say, Richard Spencer, they banned books by the likes of Albert Einstein.

Oppressive regimes throughout history have always tried to control citizens’ thoughts by banning speech. Tools like Piers Morgan who advocate for content-based government censorship are actually advocating, in part, the return of totalitarianism. No matter how attractive it might sound to carve out an “exception” to the First Amendment for obviously hateful speech like pro-Nazi propaganda, such efforts are illegal, morally wrong, and should be rejected in the interest of freedom.

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]

8/16/2017

No, the Government Should Not Censor White Supremacist Views

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:00 am

An incident like the one in Charlottesville emboldens the folks who want to control your speech. Nobody wants to speak up for Nazis, of course. The speech police seize upon such an environment to suggest that, hey, what would be wrong with having government ban white supremacist speech? Thus we get hot takes like this: Matthew Walther’s piece at The Week titled Censor White Supremacy. After some head-scratching citations to writers as disparate as Stanley Fish and John Milton, Walther presents this wrong-headed peroration:

Which brings us to the recent decisions by Go Daddy and Google to deny the Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi publication, a home on their web hosting platforms. I have yet to see anyone find fault with this decision even though realistically speaking it amounts to censorship. This is in itself a good thing, though few people have acknowledged it as such. At present it is easy to ignore the elephant in the room by saying that these are private companies free to make their own decisions about what viewpoints can be expressed on web servers that they own and control. But there are only so many web hosting services. Suppose no one was willing to offer these Hitler fanboys room to air their grievances with African-Americans and Jews on the internet — suppose that they could find no publisher willing to reproduce their pamphlets and no one willing to sell them a Xerox machine and paper to distribute them on their own?

Would it still be okay? Why is it reasonable to pretend that an action that is licit and even commendable when taken by a corporation that will soon be worth $1 trillion would be unjust if an ill-defined entity called “the state” undertook it? The world in which the government enjoys a monopoly on coercion and corporations are not state entities whose actions would not be possible without a vast infrastructure and legal apparatus in which they operate is a fantasy. The procedural question of who is responsible for the censorship is beside the point. The only relevant one is whether it is laudable.

I for one am happy that the Daily Stormer is gone. People who agree with me need to ask themselves why they would have found it upsetting if the Department of Justice had shut it down.

Look. I could launch into a long historical discussion about the founding fathers and the reasons for the passage of the First Amendment, but for now I’m just going to keep this simple. When someone tells you that, when it comes to whether the government should be authorized to shut down speech, the only relevant question is “whether [the speech] is laudable” — ask yourself: Who gets to decide that?

In Matthew Walther’s mind, of course, the answer is simple. Matthew Walther will decide for you what speech is laudable. That’s not how he would put it, of course. He would launch into a long dissertation about societal norms and what every right-thinking person believes. But boil it down, and the answer will be that Matthew Walther decides. Because coincidentally enough, whatever system Matthew Walther advocates for choosing what is laudable, Matthew Walther will find himself in agreement with the results of that system.

But when you put the government in charge of censoring speech, that’s not how it works. The government will decide for you what is laudable. If you put the Department of Justice in charge of determining what is laudable, they’re going to use their standards, Mr. Walther. Not yours. Theirs.

And government officials’ standards about what speech is “laudable” tend to revolve around whether that speech makes said government officials look good or bad.

That is how it has worked for, oh, about all of human history. They don’t care about racism, or social justice, or any of that crap, Mr. Walther. They care about themselves.

I don’t know if Matthew Walther has noticed, but the fella who chooses who heads up the Justice Department these days is not the most virulent opponent of Neo-Nazism the world has ever seen. The speech Donald Trump considers least laudable, actually, is the speech that criticizes him.

That’s the guy you want to empower to shut down speech, Matthew Walther? Really?

And if you’re a supporter of Trump, all you have to do is imagine Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama wielding the power Mr. Walther wants to give them. If that doesn’t frighten you, nothing will.

And, by the way, the references in Walther’s piece to an “ill-defined entity called ‘the state'” demonstrate Walther’s fundamental error about the critical distinction between the state and society at large. Because “the state” is actually a very simple entity to define in this context. The state is defined as the folks who get to put you in jail when you don’t do what they say.

Society can shun you. The state can send men with guns to your front door to drag you to a small room with a nasty toilet, where they lock you up and don’t give you the key to get out.

That is the difference between society and the state, Mr. Walther. And it is nothing to shrug at.

We need to be sure that our anger at racism and murderous Hitler-worshippers doesn’t turn us into sheep who surrender control over our speech to the federal government. Condemn white supremacist views, to be sure. Shun those who don’t condemn virulent racism all you want. Deny Nazis access to your privately held property. It’s your right as an American.

But don’t give the feds the power to decide whether to let you speak or not, depending on what the President of the United States happens to think is “laudable.”

That would be a huge mistake.

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]

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