The Christian-Oppressor Narrative of Islamic History

David French writes the following in “The Christian-Oppressor Narrative of Islamic History Is Tired and Wrong

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Astronomy pictures of the fortnight(s), LXXIII

Big news from Space X last Friday – successful landing of its booster on a floating platform.  Wow, cool.

In addition to the pix, here’s a time lapse of supernova 2015F.

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Details below the jump…

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Right-wing statism

In his recent piece on right-wing statism, Jonah Goldberg writes:

Progressives brought statism to American soil. They largely succeeded by replacing the aristocracy of noble blood with the aristocracy of “expertise.” As a result, classical liberals migrated to the right side of the political spectrum. I don’t think Trump will ever be president, but he represents a return of a “right-wing statism” that is repugnant to me. As Yuval Levin put it, Trump “poses a direct challenge to conservatism, because he embodies the empty promise of managerial leadership outside of politics.”

I often read the Twitter profiles of the Trump supporters who pester me. Sometimes I discover they’re phony “TrumpBots” created by some marketing firm. Sometimes I see that they’re members of the coprophagic phylum of white supremacists using Trump as a blocking tackle for their repugnant cause. But just as often, I see these people describing themselves as “classical liberals” or “constitutionalists” or “Goldwater Republicans,” and my heart weeps. There’s nothing classically liberal about Donald Trump. To the extent he’s a conservative at all, he’s a throwback to a time when a Herbert Hoover and Richard Nixon were “conservatives.” Nixon’s politics of resentment led to his impeachment. Hoover’s “best practices” gave us the Depression and Franklin Roosevelt (whose policies made the Depression Great).

Both Hoover and Nixon were better, smarter, and more competent men than Donald Trump, but measured against their failures, I have no doubt that Trump would outshine them both.

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Corollary to social justice logic

Jonah Goldberg’s recent critique of Donald Trump includes this:

Oh, at this point, I should also say Bill Clinton is right! The Black Lives Matter movement is not without its legitimate complaints and arguments — I’m in favor of some criminal-justice reforms. But they want to work from the assumption that there are no black bad actors in this story. It’s white supremacy all the way down. The problem with this is that even if white supremacy — whatever people mean by that — is the massive problem some lefties imagine, it still doesn’t excuse bad individual moral choices. Excuses don’t become explanations simply because you shout them. It’s a very weird corollary to social-justice logic. If you see everyone simply as representatives of groups — white oppressors and black victims — you withdraw the moral agency from individual actors on both sides of the equation (which, technically speaking, is racist). White people become agents of oppression and morally culpable even if they’ve done nothing wrong. Black criminals who prey on innocent black people become victims, about whom no one can say an unkind word.



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PayPal isn’t virtuous – it’s just fashionably greedy

In Let’s Not Mince Words About PayPal, David A. French writes:

PayPal has announced that it will not open a new operations center in Charlotte, North Carolina, because of the state’s new “bathroom law” — a law that sensibly requires people to use public, multi-occupancy bathrooms that correspond with their biological sex. PayPal thinks this is horrible. To put it bluntly, PayPal’s “corporate values” include involuntarily exposing women and girls to male nudity as a condition of going to the bathroom. This used to be called sexual harassment and indecent exposure. Now it’s called social justice.

And of course no story of hipster corporate progressives would be complete without a copious amount of hypocrisy. As Rick Moran details, PayPal is just fine doing business in locations like the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Russia, India, and Malaysia — where draconian laws and punitive cultures mean that gay or transgender people can face prison, violent official persecution, and even execution. But North Carolina is beyond the pale.

Corporations have a right to their values. And I have a right to express contempt for their double standards and empty moral gestures. PayPal isn’t virtuous – it’s just fashionably greedy.

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Areopagitica is not a new Greek porn star

Kevin D. Williamson writes of “The war on free speech on campus and beyond.”

That fact — the fact that one of our two major political parties has made gutting the Bill of Rights and suppressing political speech one of its top priorities — should be the central debate of the 2016 election. But it isn’t, to our national shame…

If Areopagitica were a new Greek porn star, we might rouse ourselves to bother for a moment about the prospects of government censorship. But free speech as a principle? Of course, unless we don’t like it. The Founders knew that liberty is never really popular, and that it cannot be entrusted to elected officials who must answer in the end to the demos, which is why they put the first liberties first, right there in the First Amendment.

Earlier in the piece he had this to say about corporations:

There has been a great deal of daft argument about this, including the insistence by some on the left that the idea that corporations can enjoy civil rights is a modern right-wing innovation. But if the First Amendment prevents the federal government from censoring the New York Times, then whose rights are being protected if not those of the New York Times, which is a corporation?

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Punishing Climate-Change Skeptics

Good article in today’s WSJ about the heavy-handed attempts to stamp out dissent – including the use of RICO statutes to intimidate targets.

Also expresses the skeptic’s view succinctly:  it’s not a catastrophe that requires the immediate&drastic reordering of society and the punishing of the poor (thru higher energy prices).  Whenever someone asks for more power so that s/he can save the world, the last thing one should do is grant him/her more power.

Today’s inquisitors seek their quarry’s imprisonment and financial ruin. As the scientific case for a climate-change catastrophe wanes, proponents of big-ticket climate policies are increasingly focused on punishing dissent from an asserted “consensus” view that the only way to address global warming is to restructure society—how it harnesses and uses energy. That we might muddle through a couple degrees’ of global warming over decades or even centuries, without any major disruption, is the new heresy and must be suppressed
Intimidation is the point of these efforts. Individual scientists, think tanks and private businesses are no match for the vast powers that government officials determined to stifle dissent are able to wield. An onslaught of investigations—with the risk of lawsuits, prosecution and punishment—is more than most can afford to bear. As a practical reality, defending First Amendment rights in these circumstances requires the resources to take on the government and win—no matter the cost or how long it takes.
It also requires taking on the Climate Inquisition directly. Spurious government investigations, driven by the desire to suppress a particular viewpoint, constitute illegal retaliation against protected speech and, as such, can be checked by the courts, with money damages potentially available against the federal and state perpetrators. If anyone is going to be intimidated, it should be officials who are willing to abuse their powers to target speech with which they disagree.
That is why we are establishing the Free Speech in Science Project to defend the kind of open inquiry and debate that are central to scientific advancement and understanding. The project will fund legal advice and defense to those who need it, while executing an offense to turn the tables on abusive officials. Scientists, policy organizations and others should not have to fear that they will be the next victims of the Climate Inquisition—that they may face punishment and personal ruin for engaging in research and advocating their views.
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