For all the noise over the wave of post-election hate crimes supposedly committed by Donald Trump supporters, it turns out the real epidemic is one of . . . blatant hoaxes.
An African-American church was torched last month in Greenville, Miss., with “Vote Trump” spray-painted on the walls. The initial New York Times account had stressed the Trump angle, though Mississippi officials cast doubt on any “political” motive from the start.
Now police have made an arrest — of an African-American parishioner of the church. Other well-publicized fabrications:
Here in New York, of course, Yasmin Seweid was charged for falsely claiming she’d been beaten by men chanting, “Trump.”
- A Muslim student at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette admitted making up the tale of two men, one in a “Trump hat,” assaulting her and tearing off her hijab.
- Also owning up to a hoax was the guy who claimed he was assaulted in Malden, Mass., by two men chanting “Trump country.”
- White men allegedly accosted a University of Minnesota student, yelling at her to “go back to Asia.” Now police say they couldn’t verify the incident — and she responded by deleting her Facebook account.
- A Bowling Green U. student claimed men in Trump shirts threw rocks at her. But cellphone records show she wasn’t where she’d claimed during the incident — and on Facebook she said Trump backers should “all get AIDS.” She’s charged with obstruction.
In each case, the media accepted the initial story hook, line and sinker — and stressed the Trump angle.
Even without the Trump connection, the Times and other outlets ate up YouTuber Adam Saleh’s tale of being kicked off a flight just for speaking Arabic to his mom — which now stands exposed as yet another fake.
Which brings us to the larger point: A week or two back, the Times and its ilk were all over the threat of “fake news,” which supposdely enabled Trump’s election.
Funny how as the “fake news” furor fades, the false stories confirm liberal bias.
Tuesday, January 17, 2017
The ‘fake news’ epidemic that doesn’t get denounced | New York Post
Monday, January 16, 2017
I Didn't Vote For Him But... - L'Ombre de l'Olivier
Why Trump Won
Why Trump Won
I have a lot of American friends and acquaintances who are of the non-“Liberal” persuasion; Libertarians, Conservatives etc. While some of them (a very few) were keen Trump voters and a fair number of others were unkeen Trump voters, who voted for him because #NeverHillary, there were a lot who were unwilling to vote for him or for Clinton and I suspect a few who drank heavily, held a clothespeg over their nose and voted for Clinton.
In the last two months since the election, and particularly the last few days I’ve seen a lot of them say things like this (from Larry Correia on the Book of
I don’t even want to like the guy… Stop being such assholes, news media! You’re such douches you’re making people root for him.
Phrases like “I didn’t vote for him. But I’m starting to wish I had.” or “STOP MAKING ME WANT TO LIKE HIM.” are showing up all over the place. We’re even getting to “I’m not aboard the Trump Train yet. But I’ve got my ticket in hand and I’m standing on the platform.” or “I’m at the ticket counter for the Trump Train”
As Larry’s comment suggests, there’s a reason for this: the MSM and their buddies in Hollywood have thrown so much bile and hate towards Trump when he’s done next to nothing that the rest of us are beginning to think he might be all right after all. The accusations come from the sneering classes who have failed to hide their disdain for us normal people and are so over the top, so deranged, that it seems like they are scared of him. Plus of course Americans tend to have a spot for the plucky underdog, and although it is hard to see a billionaire as a plucky underdog, the frothing left have managed to do just that.
It is true that “the enemy of my enemy is my enemy’s enemy. No more. No less” however Trump has also managed to make cabinet picks that are entirely reasonable for non-liberals. Indeed some of them (DeVos, Perry and Pruitt) are the sorts of pick that we would have prayed for a President Bush, say, to make but were absolutely certain he wouldn’t make. Trump may not have been an obvious ally, but he’s no longer looking like an obvious Democratic Party stooge.
I don’t think the sneering classes have quite figured out how much their disdain for the rest of us is reciprocated. If these attacks continue, and continue to be baseless and laughably so, then Trump can expect that a large number of people on the right who didn’t want him and mostly don’t trust him are going to unite behind him and support him for longer than might be expected. The fact that this is caused by hate from the left makes it all the more Schadenboner delicious
The defence lawyer for a Durham University student who walked free after being charged with rape has warned that young men should never have sex with drunk women.
Alastair Cooke, 23, said last night that he was ‘delighted this nightmare is over’ after the case against him was dropped.
Speaking outside Durham Crown Court, Mr Cooke's barrister Cathy McCulloch warned that attitudes to sex and alcohol must change in universities.
'What happened to Alastair Cooke is every young man's nightmare and we need a campaign to educate them.
'Young men need to learn that if a woman presents as drunk but gives all the signs, as they see it, of consenting, she can still say later that she was not fit to consent,' Mrs McCulloch said.
'Young men know you cannot put roofies [date rape drugs] in a girl's drink, you can't spike a girl's drink, but we now need to take things a step further.
'Even if they have not given the woman the alcohol, if they have watched them take their own alcohol, if that woman appears to be drunk they must not go there.
'You cannot have a f*** buddy. It is about whether or not someone can give consent to have their body used in the most intimate act between two human beings.'
Mrs McCulloch added: ‘It is every mother’s nightmare, I have a 25-year-old son and it’s my nightmare.’
Mr Cooke, a third-year geology and geophysics student, was weeks away from an expected first class degree when he was arrested in 2015 on suspicion of raping a 23-year-old student in her home when she drunk.
But jurors could not agree on a verdict, and yesterday Durham Crown Court was told that the prosecution would not seek a retrial on the three rape charges faced by Mr Cooke and that his accuser agreed with that decision.
‘We therefore offer no evidence on these counts,’ said prosecutor Paul Cleasby.
The student was the third undergraduate to be cleared of rape in the past 12 months. Last January Louis Richardson, then 21, the former secretary of the Durham Union debating society, was cleared by a jury in less than three hours.
The history student, from St Helier, Jersey, and his family said they had been put through ‘15 months of absolute hell’.
Engineering student George Worrall, 22, from Cromer in Norfolk, faced three counts of rape, but last July after he had been under suspicion for 18 months the Crown Prosecution Service dropped the case before it went to trial, citing ‘inconsistencies of the victim’s account’.
Mr Cooke, who denied the charges, did not attend court yesterday and was at his family home in Truro, Cornwall, when he heard the news.
He said: ‘This has been a really difficult time for all those involved on all sides. I am delighted this nightmare is now over. I am looking forward to trying to piece my life back together.’
Mr Cooke, who now plans to complete his degree, was accused of raping the woman at her student house in June 2015 when she was very drunk and unresponsive.
He had known the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, for two years. It was alleged that he stalked her back to her home from a house party, let himself in and raped her three times in her bedroom.
But his barrister, Mrs McCulloch, told the court last month that the allegation arose from ‘regret which got out of hand’.
Jurors were also told that the woman had a tendency to exaggerate and that the ‘willowy’ Mr Cooke was too weak to throw her around ‘like a rag doll’ as she claimed.
It was alleged during his trial that the woman’s friends were a ‘mob’ who knew ‘exactly what it took to get a rape conviction’. Mrs McCulloch said: ‘They were all working together to help their friend.’
At the trial, the court heard that Mr Cooke was a volunteer with the Nightline student advice service and during his training he had role-played being accused of raping a drunken woman after following her home.
The scenario he had invented previously matched the alleged real-life events in June 2015, the jury was told.
#DearBetsy: kangaroo courts won’t solve campus sexual assault problem - The Boston Globe
Meanwhile, the American Association of University Women, among other organizations, has zeroed in on the $10,000 that DeVos gave to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, an ACLU-like outfit that, among other things, supports due-process rules.
You might not like DeVos’s financial conflicts or her family’s record on LGBT issues — I don’t — but the #DearBetsy campaign and the controversy over her FIRE donations show how ideological and unmoored the campus rape debate has become.
Let’s be clear: Cases of horrific sexual violence occur in college communities. Last year, Stanford swimmer Brock Turner received a prison sentence, albeit a lenient one, for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster.
More recently, 10 University of Minnesota football players were suspended after a confidential investigator’s report detailed numerous acts of sexual aggression against a female student and specific evidence of players’ culpability. The rest of the team threatened to boycott a looming bowl game — until the report leaked and they saw what was in it.
In 2011, in an effort to protect women’s right to learn without fear of harassment or discrimination, President Obama’s Department of Education sent out a “Dear Colleague” letter seeking tougher action against sexual violence, while leaving many of the details up to individual schools. In response, well-meaning campus administrators have responded by erasing due-process protections for suspected offenders.
That erosion becomes evident in the public paper trail left by a contentious case at Brandeis. In 2011, the student handbook there gave those accused of serious misconduct the right to be informed of the charges in detail, to confront them at a hearing, and to review “all evidence and reports” presented there. The burden of proof, the handbook said, rested with the accuser.
The next year, the university gutted those protections in sexual misconduct cases. It lowered the standard of evidence that it used to assess guilt, as the government’s “Dear Colleague” letter had specifically demanded.
The university went further. In the 2012 handbook, “there was no requirement that copies of any ‘substantiating materials’ submitted by the accuser, or the names of any witnesses, be shown or provided to the accused any time,” wrote Judge F. Dennis Saylor, who reviewed Brandeis’s procedures in connection with a lawsuit in federal court. Saylor went on, “The accused had no right to confront or cross-examine the accuser, no right to call witnesses, and no right to confront or cross-examine the accuser’s witnesses. The accused had no right to review all the evidence.”
In the context of American legal culture, this is crazy. When corporate polluters get sued, not even the most passionate environmentalist would deny them details of the accusations against them. While violent crime devastates a community, progressives in particular would be aghast at efforts to repeal the Fourth and Fifth Amendments for suspected armed robbers.
Campus disciplinary proceedings aren’t court cases, but the underlying principle is the same: Standard rules of evidence and other protections for the accused keep things like false accusations or mistakes by authorities from hurting innocent people.
Instead, tales of murky, Kafkaesque proceedings have proliferated.
In the Brandeis case, a student identified as “John Doe” had sued Brandeis in federal court after being deemed guilty of sexual misconduct. (Saylor made a significant initial procedural ruling in Doe’s favor, though the suit was ultimately withdrawn.) His ex-boyfriend, “J.C.,” had filed a complaint against him more than six months after the end of a 21-month relationship.
A special examiner prepared a report, which, according to Saylor’s summary, wasn’t provided to Doe at any point in the investigation. Brandeis found him responsible for supposed misdeeds such as kissing J.C. while he was asleep, looking at his private areas when they showered together, and, at one point, sought to initiate a sexual act without formally asking permission. In other words, Doe behaved like normal, nonpredatory adults sometimes do when they’re dating.
The examiner treated their relationship as irrelevant. Instead of just dismissing a patently flimsy sexual-assault complaint, Brandeis seemed to split the difference: It held John Doe responsible for some minor sexual infractions but stopped short of expelling him.
Then the outrage-amplification machine kicked in. “Brandeis University Punishes Sexual Assault With Sensitivity Training,” a Huffington Post headline declared, after J.C. publicly decried John Doe’s penalty as overly lax. The case was one of two mentioned on the influential liberal website ThinkProgress in a piece entitled “Universities Keep Failing To Actually Punish Rapists.”
In an information vacuum, all sexual assault cases look the same. As Harvard Law School professors Jacob Gersen and Jeannie Suk Gersen declared in the Chronicle of Higher Education earlier this month, “In essence, the federal government has created a sex bureaucracy that has in turn conscripted officials at colleges as bureaucrats of desire, responsible for defining healthy, permissible sex and disciplining deviations from those supposed norms.”
Any backtracking by Trump’s administration will be greeted by suspicion at liberal colleges.
Yet those of us who generally believe in governmental activism, and think public and private schools alike should look after their students to the best of their abilities, should also recognize the limits of a university’s omniscience.
In the Stanford and Minnesota cases, the involvement of local law enforcement was crucial in establishing facts — and the gravity of the situation. Far more often, universities handle accusations of sexual assault on their own, in opaque proceedings that take the place of criminal investigations, rather than complementing them.
On their own, schools have never done this job well. While the Minnesota investigator did thorough work, most schools lack expertise in collecting evidence and evaluating witnesses. To avoid adverse publicity, schools have an incentive to keep all proceedings quiet, which means it’s impossible to tell from the outside whether they’re adjudicating cases fairly.
When students like John Doe are labeled as sexual assailants, while many victims of serious crimes still feel ignored, the problem is that colleges and universities are being pushed to do a job they’re not cut out to do. Sexual violence is a crime. Federal policy should press students and schools to involve law enforcement in every case. It shouldn’t just make harried college bureaucracies take on more investigations — only with ever more draconian rules.
Sunday, January 15, 2017
Breath of the Beast: The Amusement Elite and Their Lesson for You
Here is the core lesson I take from this: These moonbeams, as do all liberals, start from a false premise at the most basic level. The left is predicated on the assumption that human nature is basically good and that “people” can be “changed”. All leftist systems posit (at least implicitly) that the evil that people do and the flaws in human character are due to “outside" influences such as, bad economic systems or established religions or faulty laws and that all that is needed is a progressive approach and a new system and the innate good can be realized or the human material will become entrained and the world will be healed - or at least much improved. This has proven out in every case history. Nazism (National Socialism!), Chinese Communism, Russian Communism and Chavez in Venezuela were all collectivist systems that not only claimed to aim at a more egalitarian society but also promised some form of “new man” who would be of a higher and more selfless character.
They particularly resent The Constitution of the United States because, explicit in its conception and structure, is the assumption that human beings are not necessarily good or bad but are creatures with both potentialities. With that as a founding principal, the constitution has exquisitely balanced safeguards that enable the enterprise and ambition of all while, at the same time, keeping balance, opportunity and order through competing branches with equal but countervailing powers. Its less pure and noble sounding that the leftist view, but it is reality.
Just as they can imagine that human nature is exclusively good, they “reason” that, left to their own devices, people will be happy and content in a “natural” state. They ascribe all that is painful and even evil in life to flaws in “society”, “organized religion”, “morality”, “the culture” or any other target that exerts control over human behavior. This blameless image of the individual seems soothing and comfortable but the result is, anything but comfort. It leads to the idea that “freeing” the sweet angel of the human spirit from those controlling institutions and forces is the way to achieve peace, health, enlightenment and happiness. Wishing only to make life better and more equal for all, they set about dismantling (or, at least, arbitrarily refashioning) all the structures and values that have evolved to maintain health, peace and equilibrium- effectively freeing the dark jinn of evil which also resides in the human heart.
That is why they despise you, working people in America. That is why they feel it their duty to “educate” and “uplift” you. You know that you need to work at being good. You know that your church or synagogue has played a role in making you honorable and open. You thank god and the founders of America for the liberty and opportunity to work, live and thrive here. You are aware that the responsibility for protecting your self can never be fully entrusted to anyone else (when seconds count, the police are only minutes away!). You know that life is not balloon parties, unicorn festivals and trophies for showing up- and you know a bullshit fantasy when you see it.
But that is not “liberal” to them; they want to tear away the proven culture and safeguards and replace them with a socialism that supplants equality of opportunity with equality of outcome- otherwise known as universal misery. In the name of equality, and protecting the planet they want to bring all economic development to a standstill, redistributing wealth so that industrious and clever people earn no more than the most indolent and incapable. They call it Progress but it is really a corrupt ideology called Progressivism.
The zeal of “Progressives” springs from their “feeling” they know what is correct and needed. So sure are they that they are willing to force people to agree to their view of things- whether they like it or not. When reality becomes impossible to ignore and their “progress” leads to conflict, chaos and inequality (as it inevitably does in the real world), it is never blamed on Progressivism, it is blamed on whatever system was formerly of is still in place. Revolution, suppression and barbarity often ensue. Any idea that contradicts the romantic egalitarian principles is punishable. In Nazi Germany they were known as crimes against The Reich in Soviet Russia, Red China and Castro’s Cuba they were called counter-revolutionary. If you were imprisoned or exiled for those things, you were getting off lucky! And now, led by the brilliant pretenders and charlatans of the amusement and infotainment aristocracy, we are being urged to euthanize the constitutional system of government that created the finest, richest and most just nation in the history of the human race. And for what- collectivist government led by people who are so sure that they are correct in everything that lawlessness, fiat and intentional ignorance are acceptable tools for wielding political power?
So, lets have a big round of applause for the puffy faced, pretentious aristocrats who have made it so plain what we really should fear. They lay bear the arrogance and febrile imagination of Progressivism and what it is trying to do to our culture and constitutional politics. When one side proclaims itself inviolably correct and there are no safeguards for those who disagree, you have totalitarianism. Only imagine, if you dare, the murderous, totalitarian and nihilistic rage that would prevail if the amusement elite had their way. Ruthless totalitarianism always ends up requiring re-education camps, the punishment of retrograde (counter-revolutionary) ideas and assassination and those dangers lurk just behind their smug, superior smiles. They are, after all, so convinced of their righteousness. So, thanks, Meryl et al for the reminder of who you are and, more important, who Donald (Make America Great Again) Trump is. To repurpose the defunct Hillary slogan, I’m with Him!
Saturday, January 14, 2017
A Window Into a Depraved Culture | Heather Mac Donald
Anti-police activists and the mainstream media are incensed at the suggestion that the Black Lives Matter movement could have influenced the behavior of the four individuals in Chicago who tortured a disabled white man for hours last week while yelling “Fuck white people” and “Fuck Donald Trump.” In one sense, the activists and media are right: The influences were broader than that. They include the reign of racial victimology, inner-city gang culture, and black anti-white animus.
We live in Ta-Nehesi Coates’s America, characterized by the assumption that blacks are the eternal targets of lethal white oppression. Coates’s central thesis in Between the World and Me, his acclaimed phantasmagoria of racial victimology, is that America continuously aspires to the “shackling” and “destruction” of “black bodies.”
Chicago’s four torturers certainly have not read Between the World and Me. But the book’s worldview echoes throughout our society, including in the inner city. Michelle Alexander’s equally publicized book, The New Jim Crow, argues that the U.S. seeks to reimpose de facto segregation on blacks via the criminal justice system. Alexander has been a staple on black media, among many other outlets. President Obama has insisted, even up to his last days in office, that blacks are the victims of a racist criminal-justice system. The press routinely disseminates phony statistics that purport to demonstrate a police war on blacks. These ideas matter.
Black Lives Matter ideology is just a more in-your-face manifestation of the Coatesian conceit that blacks are living in a system determined to destroy them. The Chicago Black Lives Matter chapter embraces the motto “Stop killing us,” aimed at the Chicago Police Department. It chants: “CPD, KKK: How many children did you kill today?” (The answer is: Virtually none. Last year, over 3,400 people in Chicago were shot, overwhelmingly black. Victims included 24 children 12 years of age or younger. The Chicago cops shot 25 people, virtually all armed and dangerous, or .6 percent of the total.) The Chicago Black Lives Matter chapter disseminates inflammatory lies about the Chicago police, such as that BLM activist Ja’Mal Green was beaten for 30 hours following an arrest for battery against an officer and trying to disarm an officer. Increasing the size of the Chicago Police department, per the Chicago BLM, will simply result in “more killings by police, more police torture and violence.”
These anti-law enforcement claims reinforce existing anti-white animus in the inner city. The notion that the dominant or exclusive racism in America today is white anti-black racism is absurd. Though many urban residents harbor no racial animosity, the recurrent “Fuck Whitey” and “Kill the cops” themes in rap music are not accidental. (Sample: “Kill the White people; we gonna make them hurt; kill the White people; but buy my record first,” by Apache, adopting without obvious irony lines from an Eddie Murphy parody; “The White man is the devil… Drive-by shooting on this White genetic mutant,” by Menace Clan.) I have been warned by residents of one East Harlem housing project not to go to a neighboring project because “they really hate whites there.”
Even if there weren’t already a strain of racial hostility in inner-city culture, the constant establishment refrain that whites oppress blacks at every opportunity would create it. Every highly publicized cop assassination in the last two years has triggered gloating on social media. Ja’Mal Green told the New York Times that the assassination of five Dallas police officers was “not a setback at all” for Black Lives Matter. The Dallas gunman had said he wanted to kill white people and white cops. Though Green insisted that he was not encouraging violence, he said that the assassination showed “the people of this country that black people are getting to a boiling point. We are tired of watching police kill our brothers and sisters. We are tired of being tired.” At some point, there “comes a time when black people will snap,” he said. While one is grateful for Green’s avowal not to be encouraging violence, such sentiments come close to rationalizing it.
The establishment typically looks the other way at manifestations of black anti-white animus. Racism in rap music is usually ignored. The Associated Press excluded any reference to the race of the victim and assailants in its initial report on the Chicago torture episode, as John Hinderaker observed at Powerline, and merely noted that police were investigating a “beating” captured on social media. The AP’s follow-up report acknowledged that someone in the video appeared to use profanities about “white people” and that the victim “appeared to be white,” while “others shown in the video appeared to be black.”
Radley Balko rushed to tweet out that the Chicago kidnapping is not a trend because since 2001, 80–85 percent of white murder victims were killed by whites. True, but the percentage of blacks killed by blacks is higher. From 1980 to 2008, 93 percent of black victims were killed by blacks. White-on-black homicides are much rarer than black-on-white homicides. The vast bulk of interracial violence is committed by blacks. In 2012, blacks committed 560,600 acts of violence against whites, and whites committed 99,403 acts of violence against blacks, according to data from the National Crime Victimization Survey provided to the author:
Distribution of violent victimizations, by race/Hispanic origin of victim and perceived race/Hispanic origin of offender, 2012–2013
Blacks, in other words, committed 85% of the interracial crimes between blacks and whites, even though they are 13 percent of the population. This data accords with the last published report on interracial crime from the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the Bureau stopped publishing its table on interracial crime after 2008, the first year of the Obama presidency.
Some portion of those black-on-white crimes may be driven by the same racial hostility that gives rise to urban flash mobs and the knockout game. As Dead Prez rapped: “We gonna order take out and when we see the driver/We gonna stick the 25 up in his face . . . White boy in the wrong place at the right time.” Even if the higher rate of black-on-white violence is simply a product of blacks’ higher rate of violence generally, that violent crime rate is another fact suppressed by the mainstream media whenever possible. In response to the Chicago torture video, Callum Borchers of the Washington Post sneered at conservatives’ supposed delusions, such as that “Chicago is a war zone.” This idea struck Borchers as so preposterous that he repeated it later in his column: “Oh, and by the way, Chicago (the part inhabited mostly by black people, anyway) is a super-dangerous place, just like Trump said.”
One wonders how quickly Collum would move his family out of the allegedly pacific South and West Sides of Chicago if he actually had to live there. The following is a partial sampling of crime headlines from Chicago papers over the last few weeks, in reverse chronological order:
FAMILY SINGALONG ENDS AS BULLETS FLY THROUGH CAR WINDOW ON PULASKI ROAD
SHOOTINGS KILL 4 PEOPLE, WOUND 24 SINCE SATURDAY, POLICE SAY [referring to the 24-hour period from December 31, 2016 to January 1, 2017]
TWO BOYS, 16, KILLED IN SHOOTING THAT ALSO WOUNDED 65-YEAR-OLD WOMAN
A VIOLENT CHRISTMAS IN A VIOLENT YEAR FOR CHICAGO: 11 KILLED, 50 WOUNDED
BROTHERS KILLED, 5 OTHER PEOPLE WOUNDED IN CHRISTMAS SHOOTING
3 KILLED, 17 WOUNDED IN CITY SHOOTINGS
4 DEAD IN FERNWOOD ATTACK, 15 OTHERS WOUNDED IN SHOOTINGS
3 WOUNDED IN PARTY BUS SHOOTING NEAR LAKE SHORE DRIVE
WOMAN RAPED BY ARMED MEN AFTER ROBBERY IN HUMBOLDT PARK
MAN WHO ATTACKED, ROBBED 94-YEAR-OLD GARFIELD RIDGE WOMAN SOUGHT BY POLICE
47 SHOOTINGS SO FAR ON EXPRESSWAYS IN CHICAGO, 10 ABOVE ALL OF LAST YEAR
BOY, 16, SHOT ON HIS WAY TO SCHOOL — BUT WENT TO CLASS ANYWAY
INBOUND EISENHOWER SHUT DOWN AFTER SHOOTOUT BETWEEN CARS
MEN CHARGED WITH ROBBING WOMEN WALKING ALONE IN LAKEVIEW, POLICE SAY
SHOOTINGS KILL 9, WOUND 66 OVER THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY, POLICE SAY
Or maybe Borchers is only interested in the white areas of Chicago, which are not yet a “war zone.”
Black Lives Matter activist Shaun King, responding to the Chicago torture, rejected the idea of speaking out “on crimes committed by black folk because nobody in this country is held more responsible for the crimes they commit, and even the crimes they don’t commit, than black folk in America. . . . American prisons are full of black folk who are being held responsible for every mistake they’ve ever made.” Try telling that to Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson. Johnson regularly bemoans the fact that convicted gun felons in Chicago have little to fear from the criminal-justice system, because they are so quickly back on the streets following a shooting. The Illinois Black Caucus has blocked stiffer penalties for gun crime.
The victims of a November 2016 robbery spree in Chicago may also disagree with King that the criminal-justice system is vindictive against black criminals. Isaiah Scaife had already been convicted of theft, attempted theft, criminal trespass, and possession of a stolen motor vehicle before he turned 18, according to DNAInfo. He continued to commit gun crimes as a young adult. At age 19, after a conviction for aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, Scaife was already out on parole. That’s when he began his five-day crime spree on November 18, robbing a Subway store’s customers after sticking his gun in a baby’s face and trying to manhandle his way behind the restaurant’s counter. A few minutes later, he robbed a man leaving a Citgo gas station, beating the victim unconscious with his gun before shooting him in the face. The next day, Scaife returned to the same Subway, where he robbed and choked a man while a juvenile accomplice pointed a gun at the victim. A few days later, Scaife pulled a gun on a man at another gas station and stole his possessions and car. At his arraignment, he yelled at the court deputies: “I’m going to spit on your ass.”
Scaife is hardly unique. A huge percentage of violent crime is committed by people with serious criminal histories who are free to continue terrorizing the innocent. And, pace King, if you commit a drug crime, you’ll get more leniency in a large urban jurisdiction than in a rural county, where sentences for white drug dealers dwarf those of inner-city traffickers, according to the New York Times.
At least one of the Facebook torture assailants belonged to the gang culture that produces Chicago’s violent crime. Tesfaye Cooper posted a video on his YouTube channel in October in which he points a rifle at the camera and says: “I’ll put a bullet in your ass,” reports DNAInfo Chicago. Cooper’s Facebook page glorifies him posing with guns and paying homage to local murderers. His raps threaten to kill people who disrespect him and his crew.
The violence in the Chicago torture video does not arise in a vacuum. Most residents of inner-city areas are hardworking bourgeois citizens longing to live in safety and in racial harmony. But the video opens a window into a culture that America would prefer to turn its eyes away from—and which it has helped create.
The DC Circuit adopted the standard that the vast majority of states use for their anti-SLAPP statutes — the plaintiff only has to produce admissible evidence which, if accepted, is legally sufficient to win. That's the same standard courts apply to motions for summary judgment — motions in which the defendant argues that there's not enough evidence for the case to go to a jury. Practically that means that if the complaint is bogus as a matter of law (for instance, if it targets speech that is clearly just hyperbole or opinion), or if the plaintiff has no evidence to support it, the defendant wins — but if the complaint is legally plausible, and the plaintiff has any evidence to support it, the plaintiff wins.
Steyn's and CEI's Articles: The DC Court of Appeal held that the trial court was correct to deny the anti-SLAPP motion by Steyn, CEI, and Simberg. Mann won, and Steyn, CEI, and Simberg lost, that part of the appeal. The result is notable and, for several reasons, concerning.
There are two key elements to this part of the decision: the distinction between opinion and fact, and the question of what constitutes proof of malice.
Once again, only false statements of provable fact may be defamatory. Opinions, arguments, and hyperbole may not unless they imply false provable facts. "Ken is a jerk" can't be defamatory because it's not objectively provable; "I hacked Ken's email and he's a crook" might conceivably be defamatory because it could imply false facts.
Here, both Steyn's and Simberg's articles were replete with hyperbole, rather strongly signalling opinion. Moreover, they both disclosed the facts that they were relying upon — the hockey stick that another scientist [edited to correct: not Mann] called a "trick" to "hide a decline." I think — like others — that the better and more reasonable interpretation of these writings is that Steyn and Simberg were offering overt argument and opinion based on disclosed facts. You might disagree with the fairness of their conclusions — for instance, you might accept Mann's explanation of what the other scientist [edited: not Mann]meant by "trick," or believe that it's unreasonable not to agree with academic institutions that exonerated Mann — but conclusions based on data aren't defamatory even if they are unfair or unreasonable. That's classic protected speech.
The DC Court of Appeals, however, focused on a lack of overt signals like "in my view" or "in my opinion" or "I think" — silly formalism, in my view, but a pointer to practitioners of how one can manage libel risks. The court also focused on the fact that calling something "fraudulent" or "data manipulation" could possibly be interpreted as a statement of provable fact. The problem with this argument, I think, is that it is very selective about what context it considers. Steyn and Simberg are overtly operating in the context of a scientific culture in which someone has talked about a "trick" in presenting data in support of an argument to "hide" an inconvenient fact. That is the underlying fact framing their opinion. The fact is undisputed even if the interpretation of it is not. Their use of vivid and argumentative language helps establish that they are drawing conclusions, not asserting new (and unspecified) facts.
It's important to understand what the Court of Appeals found, though. It didn't find that Steyn's and Simberg's articles stated facts, let alone false ones. It simply found that Mann presented evidence that, if believed, could allow a jury to conclude that the articles stated facts rather than opinions. The court found he created an arguable issue, in other words. I don't agree, but that's much different than deciding that the articles were factual rather than opinion.
Next, the Court of Appeals found that Mann had presented evidence that was legally sufficient to show that Steyn and Simberg acted with malice. Malice, in this context, doesn't mean ill will — it means with knowledge that statements were false or recklessness about whether or not they were false. Mann has to meet that standard because he's a public figure — only false statements about him made with malice are defamatory. The court found that Mann had presented evidence of widely circulated studies and findings exonerating him, and that the existence of those studies could be accepted by a jury as adequate proof of knowledge that the factual allegations were false.
I think the Court's decision here was, at a minimum, badly framed. The entire point of Steyn's and Simberg's posts was quis custodiet ipsos custodes — that the scientific and academic community's policing of alleged wrongdoing by its own is incredible and unreliable when it is defending ideologically cherished consensus.
How To Spot And Critique Censorship Tropes In The Media's Coverage Of Free Speech Controversies | Popehat
How To Spot And Critique Censorship Tropes In The Media's Coverage Of Free Speech Controversies | Popehat
Fortunately, this ain't rocket science. Americans can train themselves to detect and question the media's pro-censorship tropes. I've collected some of the most pervasive and familiar ones. This post is designed as a resource, and I'll add to it as people point out more examples and more tropes.
When you see the media using these tropes, ask yourself: what normative message is the author advancing, and does it have any basis in law?
Trope One: "Hate Speech"
Example: "hate speech is excluded from protection. dont [sic] just say you love the constitution . . . read it." CNN Anchor Chris Cuomo, on Twitter, February 6, 2015.
Example: "I do not know if American courts would find much of what Charlie Hebdo does to be hate speech unprotected by the Constitution, but I know—hope?—that most Americans would." Edward Schumacher-Matos, NPR, February 6, 2015.
In the United States, "hate speech" is an argumentative rhetorical category, not a legal one.
"Hate speech" means many things to many Americans. There's no widely accepted legal definition in American law. More importantly, as Professor Eugene Volokh explains conclusively, there is no "hate speech" exception to the First Amendment. Americans are free to impose social consequences on ugly speech, but the government is not free to impose official sanctions upon it. In other words, even if the phrase "hate speech" had a recognized legal definition, it would still not carry legal consequences.
This is not a close or ambiguous question of law.
When the media frames a free speech story as an inquiry into whether something is "hate speech," it's asking a question of morals or taste poorly disguised as a question of law. It's the equivalent of asking "is this speech rude?"
Trope Two: "Like shouting fire in a crowded theater"
Example: " There is no freedom to shout 'fire' in a crowded theater." Prof. Thane Rosenbaum, Daily Beast, January 30, 2014.
Nearly 100 years ago Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., voting to uphold the Espionage Act conviction of a man who wrote and circulated anti-draft pamphlets during World War I, said"[t]he most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic."
That flourish — now usually shortened to "shout fire in a crowded theater" — is the media's go-to trope to support the proposition that some speech is illegal. But it's empty rhetoric. I previously explained at length how Holmes said it in the context of the Supreme Court's strong wartime pro-censorship push and subsequently retreated from it. That history illustrates its insidious nature. Holmes cynically used the phrase as a rhetorical device to justify jailing people for anti-war advocacy, an activity that is now (and was soon thereafter) unquestionably protected by the First Amendment. It's an old tool, but still useful, versatile enough to be invoked as a generic argument for censorship whenever one is needed. But it's null-content, because all it says is some speech can be banned — which, as we'll see in the next trope, is not controversial. The phrase does not advance a discussion of which speech falls outside of the protection of the First Amendment.
Trope Three: "Not all speech is protected"
Example: "Not all speech is protected by the First Amendment." Ann Coulter, Townhall, August 2, 2001.
Example: “Not all speech is protected if there is hate speech and it is intended to ridicule another religion,” he said. “I don’t believe it is a free speech matter.” Archbishop Paul Coakley, quoted on FoxNews.com, August 8, 2014.
The media routinely prefaces free speech discussions with the bland and inarguable statement "not all speech is protected." That's true. In fact it's not in serious dispute. The problem is that the media routinely invokes this trope to imply that the proposed First Amendment exception it is about to discuss is plausible or constitutional because other exceptions already exist. Not so. Though First Amendment analysis can be complicated at the margins, the core exceptions to First Amendment protection are well-known and well-established. The Supreme Court — in the course of rejecting a proposed new exception — articulated them recently:
"From 1791 to the present," however, the First Amendment has "permitted restrictions upon the content of speech in a few limited areas," and has never "include[d] a freedom to disregard these traditional limitations." Id., at 382-383. These "historic and traditional categories long familiar to the bar," Simon & Schuster, Inc. v. Members of N. Y. State Crime Victims Bd., 502 U. S. 105, 127 (1991) (Kennedy, J., concurring in judgment)–including obscenity, Roth v. United States, 354 U. S. 476, 483 (1957), defamation, Beauharnais v. Illinois, 343 U. S. 250, 254-255 (1952), fraud, Virginia Bd. of Pharmacy v. Virginia Citizens Consumer Council, Inc., 425 U. S. 748, 771 (1976), incitement, Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U. S. 444, 447-449 (1969) (per curiam), and speech integral to criminal conduct, Giboney v. Empire Storage & Ice Co., 336 U. S. 490, 498 (1949)–are "well-defined and narrowly limited classes of speech, the prevention and punishment of which have never been thought to raise any Constitutional problem." Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, 315 U. S. 568, 571-572 (1942).
The observation "not all speech is protected" adds nothing to a discussion because it offers no mechanism for determining whether the speech at issue falls into a traditional exception or not.
To see what I mean, consider the utility of equivalent rhetoric. You've been bitten by an unfamiliar snake, and you'd like to know if you need treatment.
You: Doctor, was the snake that bit me poisonous?
Doctor: Actually snakes are usually venomous. Though some are both venomous and poisonous.
You: Great. What about this snake here? I caught it in a bag for you to look at.
Doctor: There are both harmless and venomous snakes in North America.
You: Yes, thank you. Which is this?
Doctor: That snake has rings!
You: Yes. Yes it does.
Doctor: Some venomous snakes have rings.
You: Is there anyone else on duty I could see?
Trope Four: "Line between free speech and [questioned expression]"
Example: "Texas Shooting Sheds Light On Murkiness Between Free, Hate Speech." NPR.com Headline, May 5, 2015.
Example: "Texas attack refocuses attention on fine line between free speech and hate speech." LA Times Headline, May 4, 2015.
Journalists and pundits talking about free speech disputes love to frame their stories as being about "the line between free speech and X," where X is the controversial expression in question.
This trope can be invoked accurately when there is a legally meaningful line separating protected speech and the type of speech called out. For instance, "the line between free speech and true threats" isn't misleading because "true threats" are an actual category of unprotected speech and there's a line between them and protected speech.
Too often, though, the "line" is invoked to imply a nonexistent legal distinction. The "line between free speech and hate speech" rhetoric from the examples above is misleading and meaningless because, as noted in Trope One, "hate speech" is not a legal thing. "The line between free speech and bullying" — another recently popular line — is another example. It implies, falsely, that there is a legally meaningful category of speech called "bullying" that lies outside of First Amendment protections. In fact there isn't — there are traditional exceptions to free speech (true threats, for instance) and some of that conduct could sometimes be described as "bullying," but that's not the same thing.
"The line between free speech and X" is often the rhetorical equivalent to "the line between vegetables and rutabagas": the author doesn't have a coherent argument that rutabagas aren't vegetables, but doesn't like rutabagas and thinks you shouldn't either.
Trope Five: "Balancing free speech and [social value]"
Example: "The incident raised heated questions about race relations — and how to balance free speech with protection from discrimination and harassment." Washington Post, March 3, 2015.
The media's love of "balancing" stories is a variation on its love of "line between" stories, only more misleading.
"Balancing," when used as a colloquial description of how courts decide whether speech is protected, is almost always wrong. American courts don't weigh the value of speech against the harm it does. When speech falls into an established exception to the First Amendment, as discussed above, no balancing is necessary; it can be restricted. When it doesn't, balancing of its "value" against other interests is almost always prohibited. As the Supreme Court recently said in rejecting the government's request to create new categories of unprotected speech through balancing:
The First Amendment's guarantee of free speech does not extend only to categories of speech that survive an ad hoc balancing of relative social costs and benefits. The First Amendment itself reflects a judgment by the American people that the benefits of its restrictions on the Government outweigh the costs. Our Constitution forecloses any attempt to revise that judgment simply on the basis that some speech is not worth it. The Constitution is not a document "prescribing limits, and declaring that those limits may be passed at pleasure." Marbury v. Madison, 1 Cranch 137, 178 (1803).
Courts occasionally engage in something that faintly resembles "balancing" when they apply different levels of scrutiny to speech restrictions. For instance, the Supreme Court said that Congress could prohibit the burning of draft cards because the government had a substantial interest in the draft system and the law was narrowly addressed to that legitimate interest, and aimed only at the non-communicative element of the conduct (destroying the card) and not the communicative aspect (doing so to protest the draft). But that analysis doesn't purport to assign a value to the speech. It considers only whether the government has a sufficiently compelling interest in its goal. Moreover, there's very good reason to doubt that the Supreme Court would ever approve a speech restriction that is content-based — that is, premised on dislike of the speech — no matter how strong the government's interest. The Court has repeatedly rejected calls to do just that, and a focus on the content of disfavored speech (when it's not within an established exception) is almost certainly fatal to the proposed restriction.
Trope Six: "This isn't free speech, it's [category]"
Example: "It’s not free speech. It’s bullying and intimidation. It’s a horror show." Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon, February 17, 2015.
The First Amendment is, in a way, categorical: there are well-defined categories of speech that are not protected, as I discussed above. But media commentators often abuse categorical thinking by inventing new categories of speech outside the First Amendment. "This isn't free speech, it's hate speech." "This isn't free speech, it's discrimination."
The trope can be used correctly — "this isn't free speech, it's an unprotected death threat." But usually it's not. Usually it's invoked as shorthand for "I don't want to address First Amendment analysis so I'm just going to say in conclusory fashion that it doesn't apply at all."
Our response to the trope should always be the same — does this supported not-speech category exist, and is it one that's actually outside the First Amendment?
Trope Seven: "Fighting words"
Example: "There are two exceptions from the constitutional right to free speech – defamation and the doctrine of “fighting words” or “incitement,” said John Szmer, an associate professor of political science and a constitutional law expert at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte." McClatchy.com, May 4, 2015.
No discussion of controversial speech is complete without some idiot suggesting that it may be "fighting words."
In 1942 the Supreme Court held that the government could prohibit "fighting words" — "those which by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace." The Supreme Court has been retreating from that pronouncement ever since. If the "fighting words" doctrine survives — that's in serious doubt — it's limited to face-to-face insults likely to provoke a reasonable person to violent retaliation. The Supreme Court has rejected every opportunity to use the doctrine to support restrictions on speech. The "which by their very utterance inflict injury" language the Supreme Court dropped in passing finds no support whatsoever in modern law — the only remaining focus is on whether the speech will provoke immediate face-to-face violence.
That's almost always irrelevant to the sort of speech at issue when the media invokes the trope.
Trope Eight: "[Professor] explained . . . ."
Example: "The exhibit of cartoons in Texas might have crossed the line, [Professor] Szmer said."
The media loves to quote a professor to support a viewpoint. This is intellectually neutral: it can be good or bad, depending on the honesty and qualifications of the professor selected.
Quoting professors about law is particularly risky, if your aim is an accurate and informative discussion of free speech law. If you call a physics professor and ask them what will happen if you drop your pencil, and why, he or she will say "it will fall, because of gravity." There is a relatively low chance that the professor will tell you "well, maybe nothing will happen" because he or she harbors the belief that the current gravitic regime is unfair and otherwise problematical. But when you call a professor of law, or political science, or journalism, and ask them a question about whether some controversial speech is protected by the First Amendment, there is an unacceptably high probability that you will get a quote expressing what the professor thinks the law ought to be. Sometimes the professor will flag a statement as an argumentative one, sometimes not. Moreover, some professors . . . . how can one put this delicately? Some law professors' views on how a court is likely to rule on an issue are untainted by exposure to actual courts.
Many professors will give you a sober, accurate and well-informed assessment of how a court would likely approach a given free speech situation. The trick is separating those professors from ones who are out of their field or mere advocates.
Trope Nine: "This speech may be protected for now, but the law is always changing."
Example: "'The way we interpret the constitution is always changing. The supreme court can change the rules, and does do so,' he said." The Guardian, quoting Eric Posner, May 6, 2015.
When existing American law clearly protects questioned speech, the media sometimes resorts to finding someone to say "the law can change, and maybe it should."
Yes, American law can change. Constitutional interpretation can change in breathtaking ways inside a generation.
But the United States Supreme Court has been more consistently protective of free speech than of any other right, especially in the face of media sensibilities about "harmful" words. Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church are universally reviled and held up as an example of the worst sort of speech; the Court found their speech protected by a margin of 8-1. The Court struck down an overbroad law prohibiting "crush videos" of animals being killed by the same margin. There is no sign of any movement towards the proposition that speech may be restricted because it is hurtful or disfavored — the sort of speech that provokes this banal media observation that law changes.
Pointers to more tropes are always welcomed, as are particularly good examples.
Oikophobia on the rise after Trump win
How crazy has the reaction to Trump’s impending presidency gotten? So crazy that Democratic operatives are scared of plumbers, and I don’t mean the Watergate kind.
No, really. Ned Resnikoff, a “senior editor” at the liberal website ThinkProgress, wrote on Facebook that he’d called a plumber to fix a clogged drain. The plumber showed up, did the job and left, but Resnikoff was left shaken, though with a functioning drain. Wrote Resnikoff, “He was a perfectly nice guy and a consummate professional. But he was also a middle-aged white man with a Southern accent who seemed unperturbed by this week’s news.”
This created fear: “While I had him in the apartment, I couldn’t stop thinking about whether he had voted for Trump, whether he knew my last name is Jewish, and how that knowledge might change the interaction we were having inside my own home.”
When it was all over, Resnikoff reported that he was “rattled” at the thought that a Trump supporter might have been in his home. “I couldn’t shake the sense of potential danger.”
Well. When people have irrational, exaggerated fears we call them phobias. We heard a lot during this year’s immigration debate about “xenophobia,” an exaggerated or irrational fear of foreigners. But this plumber wasn’t a foreigner. He was an American with an American regional accent who thought the American election had turned out okay. What do you call the irrational fear of an American, by an American?
Roger Scruton coined the term “oikophobia” (from the Greed oikos for “home”) to describe the fear of one’s fellow countrymen. And there seems to be rather a lot of it among the gentry liberals who make up America’s ruling class.
In fact, another piece on reacting to the election, by Tim Kreider in The Week, is titled "I love America. It's Americans I hate." Writes Kreider, “The public is a swarm of hostile morons, I told her. You don't need to make them understand you; you just need to defeat them, or wait for them die. . . . A few of us are talking, after a couple drinks, about buying guns; if it comes to a fascist state or civil war, we figure, we don't want the red states to be the only ones armed.”
“A vote for Trump,” Kreider continues, “is kind of like a murder.” Though his piece concludes on a (slightly) more hopeful note, the point is clear: Americans, at least Trump-voting Americans, are “pathetically dumb and gullible, uncritical consumers of any disinformation that confirms their biases.”
It’s gotten worse since Election Day, but there’s nothing new about this. I’ve been reading Nancy Isenberg’s White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America, and this categorization of lower and working-class whites as (to coin a word) “deplorables” goes way back. And we’ve certainly seen it before this election.
Angelo Codevilla wrote in 2010: “Its attitude is key to understanding our bipartisan ruling class. Its first tenet is that ‘we’ are the best and brightest while the rest of Americans are retrograde, racist, and dysfunctional unless properly constrained.” Most ruling classes think that sort of thing about the ruled, of course, but as Codevilla notes, it sits poorly with American notions of equality.
And in a notorious Yale Law Journal article, feminist law professor Wendy Brown wrote about an experience in which, after a wilderness hike, she returned to her car to find it wouldn’t start. A man in an NRA hat spent a couple of hours helping her get it going, but rather than display appreciation for this act of unselfishness, Brown wrote that she was lucky she had friends along, as a guy like that was probably a rapist.
Another law professor, Douglas Laycock, wrote an article in response entitled, appropriately enough, Vicious Stereotypes In Polite Society. In polite society, expressing fear of unknown blacks is unacceptable; expressing fear of working-class white men, on the other hand, is not. “It is useful to consider how the story would have been told if Professor Brown’s car had broken down in Harlem instead of in the mountains. Suppose her benefactor had been a young black male with a radical political button. ... I am confident that her report of the encounter would have been very different.”
As Isenberg’s White Trash notes, the desire to feel superior to somebody is a powerful human drive, and it has often been aimed at poor and working-class whites. But it’s not very attractive, and contempt is likely to be returned with contempt. Those who are still grappling with the reality that Donald J. Trump will be sworn in as president next week may want to take a look in the mirror.
Wednesday, January 04, 2017
The ‘Fight for $15’: Coming to a City Hall Near You - WSJ
Call it a New Year’s Day massacre for the entry-level job market: As 2017 dawned, the minimum wage went up in 19 states and more than 20 cities or counties. In California alone, 12 cities raised their starting pay requirement, some to as high as $13 an hour, compared with $7.25 for the federal minimum.
These local measures—the product of labor-backed advocacy campaigns such as the “Fight for $15”—are still a relatively new phenomenon. “Living wage” requirements for city contractors or recipients of local tax breaks have existed since at least 1994. But the first broadly applicable city minimum wage wasn’t enacted until 2003, when Santa Fe, N.M., passed a law setting the starting hourly wage at $8.50, a 65% increase over the then-prevailing $5.15. Later that year, voters in San Francisco followed suit, approving a minimum wage of $8.50 for their town.
Today, more than 30 cities and municipalities—including Chicago, much of Los Angeles County, and both Maryland counties adjacent to Washington, D.C.—have their own separate minimum-wage requirements. This creates a difficult patchwork of laws for businesses that operate in multiple jurisdictions, a problem that will likely worsen over the next four years. Labor groups, frustrated by the Republican Congress, will no doubt intensify their push for city and county minimum wages instead.
But the quality of local debate, at least on this matter, isn’t always what it should be. When left-leaning city or county councils choose to study the expected result of raising the minimum wage, the answer is often a foregone conclusion in service of a political goal.
Take Los Angeles, where a measure signed in 2015 by Mayor Eric Garcetti will take the city’s minimum wage to $15 by 2020. Two years ago when the mayor began pushing his original proposal of $13.25, one of his deputies sent an email to Ken Jacobs, a sympathetic researcher at the University of California-Berkeley. “We need to demonstrate clearly how this will help labor and the economy in general,” the mayor’s office wrote. (My organization, the Employment Policies Institute, obtained these emails via a public-records request.) The Berkeley team responded by writing a favorable report predicting that price increases would be “negligible” and effects on employment were “not likely to be significant.”
Yet there is much evidence to the contrary. Start with the first two cities to implement minimum wages, which were studied by Aaron Yelowitz of the University of Kentucky, with research support from my organization. In a 2005 paper, Mr. Yelowitz wrote that after the Santa Fe wage bump, the likelihood of unemployment among less-educated workers jumped by more than eight percentage points. A 2012 study by Mr. Yelowitz of San Francisco showed that each $1 increase in the city’s compensation floor increased the likelihood of unemployment among younger workers by 4.5 percentage points. In other words, the increased minimum wage had precisely the result that Econ 101 would predict.
The Trump administration should take steps to educate other cities that are considering their own wage mandates on the true consequences. The current Labor Department under Secretary Tom Perez has been an enthusiastic booster of local minimum-wage campaigns. Mr. Trump’s nominee to lead the department, restaurant CEO Andy Puzder, is rightly more skeptical.
Having run a food-service company, Mr. Puzder understands, better than most, the effect of a mandated labor cost. In an interview with Hugh Hewitt this past April, he pointed to a summary, published by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, of the best minimum-wage research. That report showed clear negative effects on employment: for instance, a drop of 1%-2% among workers ages 16 to 19 for each 10% rise in the minimum wage.
Explaining this research is clearly within the mandate of the Labor Department, whose mission statement includes a pledge to “advance opportunities for profitable employment.” An appropriate framework already exists. In 2014 the Congressional Budget Office reviewed 60 studies and developed a methodology to estimate the effects of a higher minimum wage.
Mr. Puzder’s department could use that exact approach when a city or county is considering a new mandate. The Labor Department’s experts could testify at local hearings to explain the policy’s probable effect on labor markets, employment, poverty rates and wages.
Critics may complain that these reports have their own biases, but the methodology used by the Congressional Budget Office was hardly one-sided. Although its economists estimated that raising the federal minimum to $10.10 would cost about a half-million jobs, they also said such a move would lift nearly one million people out of poverty.
If local politicians consider that sort of trade-off a worthy one for their own city or county, they could consider the Labor Department’s testimony and duly pass a higher minimum wage. At least they would be doing so with eyes wide open to the unintended consequences.
Mr. Saltsman is research director at the Employment Policies Institute, which receives support from restaurants, foundations and individuals.
Chicago Death Toll -- Passive Policing Begets Aggressive Criminals | National Review
The city of Chicago is conducting a long, bloody experiment in what happens to a gang-ridden municipality in the absence of effective policing.
It is keeping the morgue depressingly busy. Seven hundred sixty-two people were murdered in the city in 2016, a nearly unheard of 50 percent increase over the year before. This is more than New York and Los Angeles — both larger cities — combined, and the worst figure in 20 years.
While everyone on the left pays obeisance to the slogan Black Lives Matter, Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel runs a jurisdiction where black lives have been getting cheaper almost by the day, especially in its poorest areas. The lion’s share of Chicago’s spike of violence has occurred in five of Chicago’s 22 police districts. Eighty percent of the victims were rated by the police department as likely to be involved in gun violence, which means that the city is adept at identifying people as potential victims — just not at keeping them from getting shot.
Holiday weekends in Chicago reliably provide fodder for cable TV in the astonishing tallies of shootings and murders (a dozen people killed and 27 shootings over the Christmas weekend). Overall, more than 4,300 people were shot in the city last year. A woman told CNN she told her kids from a very young age what to do when they hear gunshots, a grim maternal duty in a city where gunplay is so routine.
The equation that accounts for the rising body count is simple: As the Chicago police have become less aggressive, the gangs have become more aggressive and more people have been killed. Chicago demonstrates that in swathes of inner-city America, you can have a chastened, passive police department, or a modicum of public order, but not both.
Chicago’s authorities courted the anti-police agitation of the past few years with their desperate mishandling of the controversial shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, killed by an officer in 2014. The city avoided releasing the dash-cam video of the incident for a year, until after Rahm Emanuel’s reelection. When it finally did, the police representations about the threat represented by McDonald looked to be false (the cop who shot him is now awaiting trial on murder charges).
With the police on their back heels, the city further hamstrung them. It discouraged minor drug arrests. It required the police to fill out two-page contact cards (with 70 different fields) whenever stopping anyone. These forms are then forwarded on to the American Civil Liberties Union.
The city would have been much better served by forthrightness in the McDonald case from the beginning, coupled with vigorous support of tough-minded, forward-leaning policing. Instead, it got the worst of both worlds.
Fearful of becoming the next “viral video,” harassed and mocked when out doing their job in tough neighborhoods, beleaguered by paperwork, the police have suffered a crisis in morale and clearly pulled back. Documents obtained by 60 Minutes show an 80 percent drop in stops from almost 50,000 in August 2015 to under 9,000 a year later, and arrests dropping from roughly 10,000 to 7,000.
This reduced police presence on the streets has been a boon only to anti-police ideologues (the ACLU welcomes it) and the city’s myriad gangs. Chicago police superintendent Eddie Johnson says that the surge in violence has been driven by “emboldened offenders who acted without a fear of penalty from the criminal-justice system.”
There is much about Chicago that can’t be readily fixed, but it is fully within the city’s power to make its criminal offenders feel less emboldened. Chicago simply needs to stop, arrest, and jail more dangerous people. The only alternative is the continuation of the city’s current experiment in chaos that is making the city unlivable for the people unfortunate enough to inhabit its most violent precincts.
It goes without saying that their lives matter. Chicago should begin to act like it.
Minimum Wages Set to Increase in Many States in 2017 - WSJ
Minimum wages will increase in 19 states at the start of the year, a shift that will lift pay for millions of individuals and shed light on a long-running debate about whether mandated pay increases at the bottom do more harm or good for workers.
In Massachusetts, the minimum wage will rise $1, to $11 an hour, affecting about 291,000 workers. In California, the minimum goes up 50 cents, to $10.50 an hour, boosting pay for 1.7 million people.
Wages are also going up in many Republican-led states, where politicians have often been skeptical of the benefits of minimum-wage increases.
In Arizona, one out of every nine workers is set to receive a wage increase—a move firms are challenging in court. So will tens of thousands of workers in Arkansas, Michigan and Ohio, all states that backed GOP President-elect Donald Trump in November.
“Some of what Trump tapped into was people wanting to be paid more,” said David Cooper, analyst at the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank. “Voting for a minimum-wage increase is one of the ways to make that happen for a lot people.”
In all, about 4.3 million low-wage workers across the country are slated to receive a raise because they earn less than the new minimum in their respective states, according to EPI.
Economists and policy makers are of two views on the costs and benefits of minimum-wage rises. While the policy puts more money in the pockets of low-wage workers, it gives employers less incentive to add to their payrolls, leaving some workers behind.
A 2014 study by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would reduce job creation by 500,000 over two years. At the same time, the report estimated the increase in the federal minimum would raise the pay of 16.5 million workers who kept their jobs.
Wage increases caused Swampscott, Mass., candy maker Bacci Chocolate Design Inc., parent of the CB Stuffer brand, to sell its retail store, which employed about five part-time workers, in 2015 and invest about $50,000 in equipment to automate routine tasks at its production facility, said owner Erin Calvo-Bacci.
“It’s very hard to find a worker off the street that has the skills to command an $11 or $12 wage,” said Ms. Calvo-Bacci. “At that rate we can’t afford to be patient with someone who is less productive.”
Jorel Ware, a fast-food worker in New York City and activist for the FightFor15 campaign, will see his hourly wage rise by $1.50—to $12 an hour—to start the year, under a new state law that requires fast-food workers in the city to earn elevated pay. The boost will mean no longer choosing between buying groceries and paying rent, he said. “I’d like to have a family and kids, but let’s be realistic, I can’t afford to survive on my own,” 35-year-old Mr. Ware, who lives in the Bronx, said. With the raise, “maybe I’ll be able to step up and ask a girl out on a date.”
New York state lawmakers approved a measure in 2016 setting a $15-an-hour minimum wage in New York City by 2019, and putting the rest of the state on a path to eventually reach that level. Separately, the state established a fast-food wage board, which set the $12-an-hour minimum wage in 2017 for that industry’s workers.
Arizona has become one of many other laboratories for the shifting politics and economics of minimum-wage increases. Mr. Trump and Republican Sen. John McCain won their races in the state, but a larger share of the electorate, 58%, voted to raise Arizona’s minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020.
The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry has challenged the law in court. On Thursday, the state’s highest court said it wouldn’t stop the raise from going into effect on Sunday, after a lower court rejected a motion for a preliminary injunction on Dec. 21. The court will decide whether to consider the case in February. The organization argues that the increase runs afoul of other laws because it would require the state to pay certain contractors more for their services.
Arizona’s $1.95 increase on Jan. 1, to $10 an hour, will be the biggest jump among the 19 states and one of the largest one-time increases ever enacted. Almost 12% of the state’s workforce will receive a raise. Arizona, home to many tourism and service-sector workers, has a larger share of low-wage workers than coastal states such as California and Massachusetts, where minimum-wage increases have been the norm for several years.
Thomas Grady, a 47-year-old operation manager at a fabrication shop in Scottsdale, Ariz., was among those supporting both Mr. Trump and a minimum-wage increase. He said the pay increase means individuals who haven’t attended college could earn enough to live on their own.
Mr. Trump will “open up jobs on the infrastructure side of things—building bridges, walls, roads,” he said. “Entry-level fast-food workers will be able to step up into those better-paying jobs, and then you’d see others without work fill the void in the entry-level jobs.”
Mr. Trump talked sparingly about the minimum wage on the campaign trail. At a July news conference, he said he could support a $10-an-hour minimum, a departure from his stance during the GOP primary, when he said workers’ wages were “too high.”
A spokesman for the president-elect’s transition team didn't respond to an inquiry.
Earlier in December, Mr. Trump tapped Andy Puzder, chief executive of CKE Restaurants Holdings Inc., the parent company of the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s burger chains, to be labor secretary. Mr. Puzder, an advocate for cutting back regulations he says have stifled growth in the restaurant industry, has argued against raising the federal minimum wage higher than $9 an hour.
The federal minimum wage has remained $7.25 an hour since 2009. Most Republicans in Congress have resisted a federal minimum-wage increase and have blocked Democrats’ efforts to raise the rate. Republican governors in Oklahoma, Alabama and elsewhere also have acted to prevent pay floors from rising in their states.
The GOP lawmakers and governors argue that making labor more expensive will encourage businesses to invest in automation that eliminates jobs, send work to lower-cost countries and dissuade firms from expanding because higher payroll costs trim profit margins.
“The minimum wage is not a great tool for helping those at the bottom,” said Ben Gitis, director of labor market policy at the American Action Forum, a right-leaning think tank. “The people who end up losing their jobs are the most vulnerable in the labor market.”
AAF estimates that nearly 300,000 fewer jobs will be created during the next five years in four states—Arizona, Colorado, Maine, Washington—where voters approved phased minimum-wage increases to at least $12 an hour in November.
Twenty-one states follow the federal-minimum wage. More than half of the 29 others automatically adjust their minimum wage annually to keep pace with inflation. In the remaining states, a law must be passed to raise the pay floor. And several cities, including Chicago, Los Angeles and Seattle, have set minimum wages above state levels.
Corrections & Amplifications:
The minimum wage increased in 19 states at the start of the year affecting about 4.3 million workers. An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the increases would occur in 20 states, affecting about 4.4 million workers. A chart with that story showed minimum-wage increases for Maryland and the District of Columbia. Those increases won’t go into effect until July 1. (Jan. 3, 2017)
Tuesday, January 03, 2017
Donald Trump isn’t a fascist - Vox
The debate over whether it makes sense to call Donald Trump a fascist began during the Republican primary and continues after his election to the presidency. More than a year ago, the conservative writer Robert Kagan offered one of the strongest votes in favor of the proposition: “This is how fascism comes to America, not with jackboots and salutes (although there have been salutes, and a whiff of violence) but with a television huckster … and with an entire national political party … falling into line behind him.”
One of the strongest “no” votes came from Vox’s Dylan Matthews, who arrived at that conclusion after interviewing several scholars of fascism. Trump, Matthews wrote, “is not a fascist. … Rather, he's a right-wing populist.”
At the New Republic, just before the election, Jeet Heer suggested that such a definitive answer was inappropriate: “Fascism,” he wrote, “has never been a fixed creed; it’s a syndrome, a series of intertwined tendencies.”
This debate over labels may seem merely semantic. But definitions matter. The point of labels is to identify, clarify, understand, and, if relevant, figure out ways of coping with the phenomenon at hand. Labeling Trump or other new-right parties and politicians “fascist” implies something not just about what these people and movements stand for but how the opposition should deal with them.
As a student of fascism and National Socialism, particularly in the 1930s, I side with those who say that Trump still falls on the “populist” side of the spectrum. That hardly means that he or the people who claim to be part of his movement do not pose a threat to democracy, but the type of threat differs from that posed by “classical” fascists.
Still, given how prevalent the term fascism has become in American and European political debates — and there is a parallel discussion across the Atlantic over whether France’s Front National, led by Marie Le Pen, or Germany’s Pegida party, or Austria’s Freedom Party ought to be described as fascist or populist — it is worth carefully considering what made fascism distinct and so politically powerful. Doing so will allow us to gain a better handle on whether we face similar dangers today to those of the ’30s.
Four key characteristics of fascism (not in evidence in Trumpism)
Academics have fought passionately over how to define fascism, but scholars generally focus on four crucial characteristics. First fascists were nationalists: They believed the nation, rather than individuals (like liberals) or classes (like Marxists), was the key actor in political life; that it existed above or separate from the citizens composing it; and that it had a special mission or “soul” that needed to be nurtured and protected from internal and external enemies.
Membership in the nation was determined on a religious, ethnic, or racial basis. Alfredo Rocco, for example, one of fascism’s chief “intellectuals,” once wrote: “For Liberalism, society has no purposes other than those of the members living at a given moment. For Fascism, [the nation] has … ends … quite distinct from those of the individuals which at a given moment compose it. … For Liberalism, the individual is the end and the [nation] the means. … For Fascism, [the nation] is the end, individuals the means, and its whole life consists in using individuals as instruments for its social ends.”
Second, fascists shared a deep suspicion of capitalism, because it disrupted and divided national communities and destroyed national traditions. They therefore advocated a level of state intervention in the economy surpassed only by the contemporary Soviet Union. At the first Labor Day celebration held under Nazi rule in May 1933, Joseph Goebbels proclaimed:
the German people [were now] assembled in unanimous, unswerving loyalty to the state, the race (Volk), and the German nation to which we all belong. Every difference is wiped away. The barriers of class hatred and the arrogance of social status that for over 50 years divided the nation from itself have been torn down. Germans of all classes, tribes (Stämme), professions, and denominations have joined hands across the barriers that separated them and have vowed henceforth to live as a community, to work and fight for the fatherland that unites us all. … The class struggle is at an end. The idea of the national community rises above the ruins of the bankrupt liberal-capitalist state. … Thus the German people marches into the future.
Third, fascists were deeply anti-liberal and anti-democratic. Liberalism was rejected for its promotion of individualism and individual rights, its emphasis on reason and rationality, its acceptance of pluralism, and its cosmopolitanism. As Mussolini once argued, “The man of fascism is [not merely] an individual, he is nation and fatherland.” The good life, he suggested, is one “in which the individual, through the denial of himself, through the sacrifice of his own private interests, through death itself, realized that completely spiritual existence in which his value as a man lies.” (Self-denial and the sacrifice of self-interests are not qualities that Trump is especially known for.)
Democracy was anathema because it did not recognize a “higher” or “national” good that transcended the interest of particular individuals, social groups, or electoral majorities. Fascists were also convinced that “the people” were best off, and politics most efficacious, when led by a strong ruler or a committed minority. As Hitler infamously put it, there must be “Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer” (“One people, one empire, one leader”).
Fourth, fascists embraced violence as a means and an end. Fascism was revolutionary: It aimed not to reform but to destroy the modern world — and for this, a constant and probably violent struggle would be necessary. Violence was not merely the method through which revolution would be accomplished; it was valuable in and of itself, providing supporters with powerful “bonding” experiences and “cleansing” the nation of its weaknesses and decadence. Mussolini, for example, argued that “[w]ar alone brings up to their highest tension all human energies and puts the stamp of nobility upon the peoples who have the courage to meet it. All other trials are substitutes, which never really put a man in front of himself in the alternative of life and death.”
Historically, fascism arose in a political environment of unremitting tumult and hopelessness
These characteristics made fascism distinctive; they did not alone make it powerful. Although we associate fascism with the collapse of democracy in interwar Italy, Germany, and elsewhere, its origins lie decades earlier, in the period of rapid and disorienting change that hit Europe during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. During these decades, capitalism dramatically reshaped Western societies, destroying traditional communities, professions, and cultural norms. This was also, of course, a period of immense immigration, as peasants flocked from rural areas decimated by the inflow of cheap agricultural products from the “new” world to cities and the citizens of poorer countries flocked to richer ones in search of better lives and opportunities.
Then as now, these changes frightened people and led to the rise of new political movements that aimed to capture and channel these fears. Right-wing nationalist movements — the predecessors of fascism — were among these, promising to protect citizens from the pernicious influence of foreigners and markets. Although these types of movements appeared across the West, they did not fundamentally threaten existing political orders before 1914. The characteristics of these movements alone, in other words, were not enough to make them powerful; it took certain conditions to give them the mass support they needed to overthrow existing political regimes. The First World War and its aftermath along with the failures and miscalculations of existing democratic institutions and elites provided these conditions.
As the war ended, dictatorships collapsed and were replaced by democracies, but most of them arose in countries with no previous experience with that form of government — and therefore none of the institutions, habits, and norms necessary for making democracy work. These new democratic governments then faced immense problems. The war had killed, maimed, and traumatized millions of Europeans and left the continent physically and economically devastated. Governments had to reintegrate millions of soldiers back into society and rebuild their economies. Austria and Germany had to deal with the humiliation of defeat and a punitive peace, and were quickly hit by hyperinflation.
In addition, across the continent lawlessness and violence became endemic after 1918. In Italy, for example, left- and right-wing militias fought battles in the urban and rural areas, workers occupied factories, and peasants seized land. Germany’s Weimar Republic was hit by assassinations and violent left- and right-wing uprisings. Despite all this, fascists remained marginal — initially. In Italy’s first postwar election, fascists received almost no votes. In Germany, Hitler’s 1923 Beer Hall Putsch flopped. Mussolini and Hitler might well have remained the marginal cranks many of their contemporaries took them for had not democracies and other political actors continued to stumble.
But stumble they did. As time passed, problems mounted, democratic governments failed to deal with them, and other political parties — on both the right and left — failed to offer convincing responses to citizens’ fears and concerns.
Mainstream political parties fled the field
The Great Depression, of course, was particularly important — but it wasn’t merely the economic downturn that boosted fascism, but rather the way democratic governments and non-fascist political parties responded to it. Too many democratic governments responded passively or ineffectively to the Depression, leaving Europeans to suffer its horrible effects on their own. (Tellingly, in places where governments responded actively, like the United States and Sweden, democracy survived the interwar years.)
Other political parties also failed to offer convincing alternatives to the status quo. By the early 1930s, liberal parties had been discredited, as citizens found their faith in markets, their unwillingness to respond forcefully to capitalism’s downsides, and their indifference or hostility to nationalism and cultural concerns completely out of sync with interwar realities.
With the exception of Scandinavian social democrats, meanwhile, most socialist parties were also flummoxed by the Depression, telling citizens that their lives would only improve once capitalism had collapsed and that they could, therefore, do little to help them in the interim. (Socialists were also, of course, like most of their successors today, indifferent or hostile to concerns about national identity and the evisceration of traditional norms and communities, which was also an unwise political stance during a period of immense social upheaval.)
One group that did offer a strong criticism of the status quo as well as a powerful alternative to it was the communists, and during the Great Depression their vote share soared in many European countries. Communism’s appeal was, however, limited by an almost exclusive focus on the working class and hostility to nationalism. And so in all too many European countries, it was fascists who offered the most powerful critique of the status quo as well as the most powerful alternative to it.
Fascists criticized democracy as inefficient, unresponsive, and weak, and promised to replace it with a regime that would respond actively to the Depression, use the state to protect citizens from capitalism’s most destructive effects, and end the divisions and conflicts that had weakened their nations — often, of course, by ridding them of those viewed as outside of or a threat to it. Fascists also promised to restore a sense of pride and purpose to societies that for too long had felt battered by forces outside their control. Such appeals enabled fascist parties in Germany and elsewhere to attract an extremely broad, cross-class constituency.
But even with the failures of democratic governments and other political parties, fascists could not come to power alone. And so another condition necessary for fascism’s rise was the connivance of traditional conservatives. In both Italy and Germany, for example, conservatives, obsessed with thwarting the left, fooled themselves into believing they could use fascists for their own purposes, maneuvering them into political power. Once in power, however, Hitler and Mussolini repaid this debt by eliminating their erstwhile conservative allies as well as much of the rest of the old order, viewing them, correctly, as a hindrance to their revolutionary projects.
Today’s right-wing populists have made peace with capitalism, and don’t overtly embrace war
As this brief discussion should make clear, there are some similarities between fascists and today’s populists, including Donald Trump, but also some crucial differences.
First, while contemporary populists often extol things like “national sovereignty” (see Brexit) and the importance of national values and communities, they rarely present the nation as an “organic entity” existing above or beyond the people. And “the people” tend to be defined on the basis of shared customs, traditions, and behaviors, rather than on purely racial or ethnic grounds. Populists are thus more often xenophobic than racist.
Second, while populists are often critical of free market, globalized capitalism, their disapproval is more muted and selective than that of true fascists, and they advocate nowhere near the type of state intervention in the economy that Mussolini or Hitler, for example, did. Trump’s intervention to save a few hundred jobs in an air conditioning factory in Indiana may run afoul of free market principles, but it hardly amounts to the type of wholesale rethinking of the relationship between states and capitalism offered by interwar fascists and National Socialists.
Third, populists claim to speak in the name of the “the people,” and often demonize those disagreeing with them. They are thus inherently anti-pluralist, dismissive of the rights of minorities and the legitimacy of alternative viewpoints. Populism is therefore illiberal, but not necessarily anti-democratic. Indeed, populists claim to want to improve democracy, at least as they define it — to rid it of corruption and inefficiency and make it more responsive to “the people.” For this reason, unlike fascists, they offer no alternative to democracy, other than moving it from its liberal version to an illiberal or majoritarian one.
Fourth, populists do not openly embrace violence as either a means or an end: They neither claim to advocate the sort of revolutionary transformation of politics, economy, and society for which violence would almost certainly be necessary nor do they explicitly encourage their supporters to engage in it.
Populists thus share some characteristics with fascists, but their profiles also diverge in critical ways. This divergence reflects the different contexts within which they arose and point to different ways of dealing with them.
What turned the cranky nationalist movements of Europe’s late 19th century into the powerful fascist parties of the interwar period was primarily the changing conditions they faced: namely the immense problems created by the First World War and its aftermath combined with the failures and miscalculations of democratic institutions and elites in responding to them.
While Western democracies surely face serious problems today, including poverty, rising inequality, diminishing social mobility, and communities eviscerated by a decline in local civil society organizations, the departure of local businesses, deteriorating infrastructure, and so on, we are simply not in the 1920s or ’30s. Levels of economic and social dislocation are not remotely as high — in the US, unemployment is around 5 percent, a healthy figure — and democratic norms are stronger than in early to mid-20th-century Europe. This is not, however, reason for complacency. Many commentators have recently sounded alarms about the dangers of democratic “backsliding.”
The weakening of some democratic norms is one thing; fascist revolution is another
In a recent excellent essay in the New York Times, two professors of government at Harvard, Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, argued that Trump “tested positive” as a threat to democracy, given “a failure to reject violence unambiguously, a readiness to curtail rivals’ civil liberties, and the denial of the legitimacy of elected governments.”
They also described Trump as a “serial norm breaker” — abetted by a Republican Party that has been willing to violate longstanding informal rules that constrained political ill will (including, for example, simply declining to consider President Obama’s most recent nominee for the Supreme Court). Their point of comparison was less Germany in the 1930s than Latin American countries that adopted US-style constitutions and then drifted toward strongman-style government.
The setbacks to democracy and the populism that Levitsky and Ziblatt warn of are definitely possible. But the word “backsliding” itself hints at a crucial difference between populism and fascism: In the former, the danger is a gradual erosion of democratic norms and institutions; in the latter, democracy ends through a revolutionary, often violent, conquest of power, which historically occurred only because democracy had already essentially ceased to function at all.
Whether populism brings enough democratic erosion to actually threaten the continued existence of democracy — as it has done, for example, in places like Turkey and Hungary and is threatening to do in Poland — is thus a very open question in the US and Western Europe, where democratic norms and institutions have deep historical roots and, despite current hysteria, are still very much in place. The ultimate consequences, in other words, of contemporary populism depend as much on how democratic institutions, parties, and elites respond to contemporary problems and populists as they will on populists themselves. If problems go unaddressed and mainstream parties can’t convince electorates that they, rather than populists, have the best responses to them, then the appeal and radicalism of populism will grow.
In Europe, where populists are not (yet) in power, governments need to find ways to deal with rising inequality, wage stagnation, high unemployment, immigration and integration, and terrorism. In the US, after Trump’s victory, other democratic institutions and actors will need to be vigilant policing attacks on the Constitution, the rule of law, and minority rights.
In both Europe and the US, the response of mainstream parties of the right and left to contemporary problems and populists will also be crucial. Will traditional parties of the right — Republicans in the US, Christian Democrats and conservatives in Europe — push back against populism’s radical tendencies, or will they fall in line like their interwar counterparts?
In the US, there are already signs that many Republicans, even NeverTrumpers, are lining up behind Trump, unwilling to take a stance against Trump’s continued flouting of democratic norms (for example, his insistence on massive electoral fraud and denigration of CIA findings about Russian hacks); the myriad conflicts of interests inherent in his own businesses; and his choice of Cabinet appointees, who not only lack anything resembling traditional qualifications for the jobs for which they have been chosen but who have also often openly questioned the validity of the very departments they are being tasked with leading.
Will traditional parties of the left — the Democratic Party in the US, Social Democratic and Labor parties in Europe — be able to reform their organizational infrastructures and appeals so as to be able to recapture the working- and middle-class voters they lost to the populist right? In the US, those worrying signs that a significant number of Republicans will not band together to check Trump leaves the Democratic Party as the most important watchdog or conservator of democracy. Successfully carrying out that role will require a degree of efficacy and cohesion the party has hitherto not exhibited.
In order to be able to check Trump, the Democrats will need to overcome or reconcile their internal divisions over both cultural and economic issues; only then can they hope to build the type of broad, cross-class coalition that would enable them to win elections at the national, state, and local levels and prevent Trump and his Republican enablers from playing different groups of Americans against one another, as they did so successfully in our most election as well as in many of the ones proceeding it.
Populism, in short, should not be blithely equated to fascism, nor does 2016 look like 1933. But in politics, as in much of the rest of life, nothing lasts forever, and for democracy to not just survive but thrive, democrats — including Democrats — will need to start doing better.
Sheri Berman is a professor of political science at Barnard College, Columbia University, and the author of a forthcoming book, Democracy and Dictatorship in Europe: From the Ancient Regime to the Collapse of Communism.