We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

If you cross the river Halys, you will destroy a mighty empire!

Twitter’s CEO and its co-founder urge other left-wingers to consider a recent article explaining “Why there’s no bipartisan way forward at this juncture in our history — one side must win”. It’s a long read – but almost any excerpt indicates which side the author is sure both should and will win. Trump…

“has alienated most of America and certainly all the growing political constituencies of the 21st century. He is turning the Republican brand toxic for millennials, women, Latinos, people of color, college-educated people, urban centers, the tech industry, and the economic powerhouses of the coasts, to name a few.

For a long time, Republicans have been able to hide their vile inner selves…

through a sophisticated series of veils, invoking cultural voodoo that fools a large enough number of Americans to stay in the game.

It is therefore almost a relief to the author that

Donald Trump has laid waste to that sophistication

so that it’s now obvious to all – or almost all – that

The Republican Party is all about rule by and for billionaires at the expense of working people.

Whereas before…

The Republican Party for the past 40 years has mastered using dog whistles to gin up racial divides to get their white voters to the polls.

now…

Trump just disposes of niceties and flatly encourages white nationalists, bans Muslims, walls off Mexicans, and calls out “shithole” countries.

I confess to some doubts about this – after all, not one Mexican has been walled off yet, and I have the impression that few muslims have in any sense been banned – but the author brooks no denial. And speaking of denial,

“The Republican Party is the party of climate change denial. Trump is the denier-in-chief, but there are 180 climate science deniers in the current Congress (142 in the House and 38 in the Senate), and none of them are Democrats. More than 59 percent of Republicans in the House and 73 percent of Republicans in the Senate deny the scientific consensus that climate change is happening, that human activity is the main cause, and that it is a serious threat.

If only I could trust the author’s counting ability – but since believers in his “scientific consensus” are believers in a statistical method that can extract hockey sticks from random noise, can I feel sure that the numbers of sceptics are growing as fast as he says?

The essence of Trump is that there’s…

No beating around that bush for the sake of appearances — Trump burned the bush down.

If only this were wholly true – but for once I’ll agree with the author: there is truth in it. The alternate realities of Scott Adams were never so vivid to me than at the moment I read these assertions of how Trump exposes the right while thinking that the very words I was reading showed how the Trump phenomenon exposes the left.

The author explains his simple and foolproof plan:

The way forward is on the path California blazed about 15 years ago. … reconfigure the political landscape and shift a supermajority of citizens — and by extension their elected officials — under the Democratic Party’s big tent. The natural continuum of more progressive to more moderate solutions then got worked out within the context of the only remaining functioning party. … Make no mistake: A reckoning with not just Trump, but conservatism, is coming.

In short, the author and friends have both a duty to reject all compromise and, now that Trump has exposed their enemies’ true nature, a 98.2% chance of winning this war they plan to hot up (or better – he doesn’t actually quote a percentage); after all, it worked in California. What could go wrong, since…

This is a civil war that can be won without firing a shot.

As Reagan once said, “It takes two to tango.” By contrast, a certain Adolf is merely the most infamous of many who have shown that it only takes one to start a war. Political correctness is all about ‘inclusion’ – except when it’s all about excluding more and more people for *isms and *phobias ever more broadly defined. If PC follows this advice to make US politics explicitly a conflict that “only one side must win”, then I predict that the prophecy will prove correct – but possibly also Delphic.

Hope grows that Trump could ignore Congress on spending

That’s the heading. The sub-heading gives us a bit more detail:

Lawmakers and activists see encouraging signs that Trump officials could cut budgets by leaving federal money unspent.

Well, I may have changed things a bit there. See which version you prefer by comparing what I put with the original version.

I can’t fault paragraph one of the actual story:

Lawmakers and activists are preparing for the possibility that President Donald Trump’s administration, in its zeal to slash the federal budget, will take the rare step of deliberately not spending all the money Congress gives it — a move sure to trigger legal and political battles.

I had already been thinking to myself that Trump might do this. I didn’t think he would start making such noises quite so soon after signing the bill.

Next: actually not spending the money. But, never make that old “we demand action not words” mistake. Demand words, and then actions in accordance with those words, which is a hell of a lot more difficult if there have been no words to start with. If words didn’t count for anything, why the hell would we here bother with them, day after day?

Samizdata quote of the day

“Versed in issues of social justice”? Oh? What if students protested against abortion? What if they protested in favor of gun rights? Or what if their social activism included mission trips with their church? Would these things hurt their Yale applications? I am certain that any student who wanted to get into Yale, and thereby join the American elite, would do well not to mention any non-progressive activism. The gatekeepers know the kind of people they want, and do not want. The message they are sending is coming through loud and clear.

Just two glimpses into how the culture and institutions of the elite Left make Trump voters…

Rod Dreher

Is this what strong women do these days?

In yesterday’s Guardian Jill Abramson asked,

“Are we seeing signs of a Democratic wave in the primaries?”

The article optimistically discussed the Democrats’ chances in various upcoming US electoral contests, including the next presidential election:

Though winning control of the House of Representatives in 2018 is their focus, my Democratic sources say that there are already 20 credible presidential challengers giving serious thought to opposing Donald Trump in 2020. The list, unsurprisingly, includes a raft of Democratic senators, and, perhaps surprisingly, at least three strong women, New York’s Kirsten Gillibrand, Minnesota’s Amy Klobuchar and Massachusetts’s Elizabeth Warren.

My eyes had been glazing over at the mention of “strong women”. Then I read this:

It’s easy to look at what’s happening in Washington DC and despair. That’s why I carry a little plastic Obama doll in my purse. I pull him out every now and then to remind myself that the United States had a progressive, African American president until very recently. Some people find this strange, but you have to take comfort where you can find it in Donald Trump’s America.

Ms Abramson is “a political columnist for the Guardian. She is visiting lecturer in the English department at Harvard University and a journalist who spent the last 17 years in the most senior editorial positions at the New York Times, where she was the first woman to serve as Washington bureau chief, managing editor and executive editor.”

Something of a prototypical strong woman herself, then. And if she wants to carry around a little plastic Obama doll to hug when she feels sad, far be it from me to deny her the right. Though I do not believe I ever went through the phase of needing to have a “blanky” or other “comfort object” constantly around me, many toddlers do. I am sure the right to keep and bear blankies is in the penumbra of the US Constitution somewhere. It just… somehow… is not what I expected of a former bureau chief, managing editor and executive editor. (Visiting Lecturer in the Harvard English department, maybe.) Is that what strong American women (who by definition are all Democrats) do these days? Maybe I’m just out of touch. Maybe it is accepted that among the accoutrements of the modern strong woman is a doll representing a male authority figure that she can clutch for comfort. Maybe New York’s Kirsten Gillibrand, Minnesota’s Amy Klobuchar and Massachusetts’s Elizabeth Warren all have little plastic Obamas that help them cope with their fears, and that’s OK.

Trade Wars: A Phantom Menace?

Bloomberg is the only TV news channel I can stomach watching in the UK; it is the only one that is not instinctively leftist. I suppose if you are trying to provide a service that people will pay for to help them make financial decisions, a better standard of truth is required.

This morning they were very excited about Donald Trump’s threats to impose tariffs, especially now that (relative) voice-of-reason Gary Cohn has announced his resignation. They reported that the EU is threatening to respond to Trump by cutting off EU consumers’ noses to spite Donald Trump’s face.

Perhaps if we are lucky post-Brexit Britain will be a refuge of sanity, free-trade, and economic growth amongst all this madness.

Or perhaps, as one commenter on Bloomberg suggested, it is all bluster and this is just Trump negotiation tactics and it will come to nothing.

Samizdata quote of the day

“Moreover, an assault-weapon ban (along with a ban on high-capacity magazines) would gut the concept of an armed citizenry as a final, emergency bulwark against tyranny. No credible person doubts that the combination of a reliable semiautomatic rifle and a large-capacity magazine is far more potent than a revolver, bolt-action rifle, or pump-action shotgun. A free citizen armed with an assault rifle is more formidable than a free citizen armed only with a pistol. A population armed with assault rifles is more formidable than a population armed with less lethal weapons. The argument is not that a collection of random citizens should be able to go head-to-head with the Third Cavalry Regiment. That’s absurd. Nor is the argument that citizens should possess weapons “in common use” in the military. Rather, for the Second Amendment to remain a meaningful check on state power, citizens must be able to possess the kinds and categories of weapons that can at least deter state overreach, that would make true authoritarianism too costly to attempt.”

David French, at National Review.

Samizdata quote of the day

Yet the involvement of sitting intelligence officials—and a sitting president—in such a campaign should be a frightening thought even to people who despise Trump and oppose every single one of his policies, especially in an age where the possibilities for such abuses have been multiplied by the power of secret courts, wide-spectrum surveillance, and the centralized creation and control of story-lines that live on social media while being fed from inside protected nodes of the federal bureaucracy.

Lee Smith

Emphasis added.

Samizdata quote of the day

Well, the memo was released. You can read it in full here, and I recommend you do so because, on the evidence of much of Friday’s TV and radio coverage, most commentators only want to talk about it in the most shallow political terms. Whereas the questions it raises about state corruption in an age of round-the-clock technological surveillance are far more profound.

Mark Steyn

Read the memo.

Holy.Fucking.Shit.

Samizdata quote of the day

But Justice Gorsuch took not an “expectation of privacy” approach to the question but a property rights approach. Under common law, he said, “possession is good title against everybody except for people with superior title.” Absent probable cause, a trespass action would be available against anyone searching the car. Thus, “by virtue of his possession,” Byrd would have a right to resist a carjacker or throw out an overstaying hitchhiker. “So why not the government?”

Roger Pilon

Samizdata quote of the day

The unhinged Nazi talk discourages reasoned analysis in favour of chasing the cheap thrill of yelling “fascist!” at someone you don’t like. It is profoundly anti-intellectual. But it does something worse than muddy the present and harm rational debate about politics today; it also ravages the past; it relativizes the Nazi experience and, unwittingly no doubt, dilutes the savagery of the Holocaust through comparing that immense crime with what is simply an elected American administration many people don’t like.

This might not be Holocaust denial, but it is certainly Holocaust dilution. It is Holocaust relativism. And as some historians have been pointing out since the 1970s, Holocaust relativism, the treatment of the Nazi era as just a wicked brand of politics that crops up every now and then, including now, is the foundation stone of the vile prejudices that underpin actual Holocaust denial.

Brendan O’Neill discussing the toxic absurdity of the ‘Trump is a Nazi’ notion.

Samizdata quote of the day

A defendant who makes the wrong choice will wind up in jail; a prosecutor who charges improperly will suffer little, if any, adverse consequence beyond a poor win/loss record. Prosecutors are even absolutely immune from lawsuits over misconduct in their prosecutorial capacity.

So I think we should give prosecutors some skin in the game. Let juries be informed that they may refuse to convict if they think a conviction is unjust — and, if that happens, let the defendants’ attorney fees and other costs be billed to the government. Also, let juries be informed that, if they believe the prosecution itself was malicious or unfair, they can make that finding — in which case the defendants’ costs should come out of the prosecutor’s budget. (If you want to get even tougher, you could provide that the prosecutors involved should be disqualified from law practice for a year or stripped of their immunity from civil suit. But I’m not sure we need to go that far).

Glenn Reynolds

Thoughts on why Britons and Americans have different views about guns

An interesting, and to my mind convincing, posting by Eric Raymond:

Decentralized threats are the mother of liberty because the optimum adaptive response to them is localist and individualist – the American ideal of the armed citizen delegating power upward. Centralized threats are the father of tyranny because the optimum response to them is the field army and the central command – war is the health of the state.

There is an implication for today’s conditions. Terrorism and asymmetrical warfare are decentralized threats. The brave men and women of Flight 93, who prevented September 11 2001 from being an even darker day than it was, were heroes in the best American tradition of bottom-up decentralized response. History will regret that they were not armed, and should record as a crime against their humanity that they were forbidden from it.

He links to this essay by Dave Kopel.

A book comparing and contrasting UK and US experiences with guns, by Joyce Lee Malcolm, is also worth reading. Here is her website.