If there’s one welfare state proposition that makes Libertarians reconsider their anti-government position, it might be UBI (Universal Basic Income). The concept of UBI is simple: every person in a given country gets cash from the government every month. Rather than rationing food, energy, or clothes like a purely Socialist society, a nation with UBI allows those on the receiving end to decide which of their needs should be met the same way people who earn their own money do.
I have published 132 blog posts thus far (this one is number 133). But I have failed to complete or decided not to publish at least 100 others. Sometimes I lose my train of thought, sometimes my research persuades me to disagree with my initial thesis, and sometimes I fear my words could come back to haunt me if ill-intended people come across them. Still other times, I simply can’t find a way to express my thoughts in a way that I feel comfortable sharing with my readers.
If you’re not familiar with Netflix’s hit show Stranger Things, don’t worry; I won’t reveal any major spoilers. A central theme of the show is that a portal into a parallel dimension opens. The terrors that lurk there are spilling out into a small town in our own world. Once the main characters discover this, they refer to the parallel universe as “The Upside Down.”
The Upside Down States of America
A bipartisan majority of U.S. Senators recently decided that America needs a taste of The Upside Down, too. By a 68-23 margin, the Senate affirmed a resolution to block any of Trump’s attempts to remove American troops from Syria and Afghanistan.
The vote comes amid repeated announcements and tweets by the president that he will fulfill one of his central campaign promises by ending some of the U.S.’s endless wars abroad, particularly in Syria. This would fit in well with his America First slogan. Bringing our troops home would allow the government to focus on the country it presides over. Moreover, it enables it to respect the autonomy of the globe’s many states.
When the president began talking withdrawal, establishment members of both parties and a hostile mainstream media scoffed and presented lame justifications for our presence in both countries. Many claimed that Turkey, our NATO ally, would “slaughter” our Kurdish allies if the mere 2,000 US troops still in Syria went home. The Kurds and Turks admittedly have their differences. However, this would be a first in their shared history, not to mention the fact that Kurds are rough and tough; nobody will slaughter them.
Weak Reasons to Remain Abroad
It’s also worth noting that many of the same people who claim we need to protect the Kurds from Turkey lost their minds when Trump suggested the U.S. should leave the outdated and useless bureaucratic leviathan we call NATO. In a transparent display of idiocy, they simultaneously claim (1) we can’t leave NATO because it would be a betrayal of our NATO allies and (2) we can’t leave Syria because it would be a betrayal of our Kurdish allies who our NATO allies would slaughter. Talk about Stranger Things…
Other purported reasons to remain in Syria and Afghanistan are that leaving these aimless 10 and 17-year missions, respectively, would be “precipitous”. And of course, something, something, something, Russia.
Despite the contradictions and hollow fear-mongering, the real reason the situation is so upside down is that Congress never authorized the wars Trump is trying to end. On the other hand, the commander-in-chief’s power to withdraw troops requires no authorization at all.
Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution gives Congress the power “to declare war”. Article II, Section 2 names the president “commander-in-chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States”. To me, “commander-in-chief” sounds pretty self-explanatory. Perhaps the Founders would have had to have written “Total Super Ultra Mega Boss of the Military” to get it through the thick skulls of today’s Democrats and Republicans.
It is true that Congress authorized former President George W. Bush to use military force against those responsible for the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center. Despite this, he did not get permission to occupy Afghanistan indefinitely for whatever reasons he and his successors could conjure up. The language in the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists is admittedly vague. Thus, it might be fair to say that Congress and a gullible public are to blame as much as the executive.
On the other hand, President Barack Obama was outright denied authorization to invade Syria in a bipartisan fashion, but he did so anyway. Nice one, Barry.
Make Ending Wars Easy Again
Going to war should not be this easy, and ending wars should not be this hard. Our Founders were right to warn against entangling alliances and sticking our noses in other nations’ business. Engaging in either of these endeavors drains American lives, liberty, and treasure. It also prevents our neighbors abroad from learning to develop themselves. Neoconservatives can spend hours explaining why dependency upon welfare undermines an individual’s ability to develop. For some reason, they are too blind to see that dependency upon a foreign militia has the same result on nations.
However upside down our government is, President Trump cannot blame the potential failure to end the wars in Afghanistan and Syria on Congress. He has unquestioned authority to command the armed forces. No one can stop him from exercising his powers but himself. Playing politics by waiting a little while to accomplish this goal could be a forgivable strategic maneuver. But Trump will deserve total and complete blame if this promise is broken.
Mr. President, it’s time to grow a pair and order things right-side up.
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I have dedicated an absurd portion of the past week of my life to understanding, discussing, debating, and writing about the recent Lincoln Memorial confrontation between Nathan Philips and a group of students from Covington Catholic High School. While there is much to take interest in regarding the matter, nothing is as captivating as the hallucinations people have had and, amazingly, continue to experience when watching videos of the incident. The human mind is a baffling device.
The other day, I opened YouTube and clicked on the latest episode of Steven Crowder’s “Change My Mind,” a segment of his show Louder with Crowder. “Change My Mind” involves Crowder and some of his crew members setting up a table in a public location and displaying a large sign that espouses a provocative political statement followed by the words “change my mind.” If you are social media savvy at all, you’ve probably come across the meme “Change My Mind” has inspired:
The stated goal of this experiment is to attract dissenters of the displayed statement then invite them to sit down and have a rational and healthy dialogue to express their disagreement. I am not exactly a fan of his, but watch Crowder’s videos on occasion.
As productive political discourse in America, particularly the online variety, seems to have taken a turn for the worse over the past few years, Crowder’s project is noble on the surface. But Steven Crowder is not the man for this job.
In his most recent video titled “PROTESTER SCREAMS Then Rethinks: Change My Mind,” which takes place at UT Dallas, Crowder has his table set up with a banner that reads “Build the Wall: Change My Mind.” But rather than a typical “Change My Mind” video in which guests are sitting down at the table with the host, the video begins with Steven approaching a group of students demonstrating against him a few yards away.
Throughout the rest of the video, Steven either hallucinates or lies on myriad occasions and acts as anything but an authority on rational discourse.
Free Speech Bullying
I’m often told that while free speech is a right, some speech has consequences. This is a fair legal argument but can be an awful human argument when applied too broadly.
First off, what is and what is not legal does not determine what is right and what is wrong. Driving through a red light is illegal, but driving through a red light at a completely empty intersection where the driver has the field of view to determine with certainty that no cars are coming from any direction is not wrong.
Saying “nigger” in front of a black stranger or screaming “fire” in a movie theater are not criminal acts, but they are examples of wrongful behavior because they are liable to cause problems without reason. This is to say that just because you have Constitutional protections that allow you to do something without government interference does not mean you should do it.
While some speech is reasonably treated as wrongful behavior that has consequences regardless of legality, some speech or expression currently deemed offensive does not deserve the consequences it elicits. For example, James Damore was fired from his job at Google for writing an internal memo that mentioned scientifically observed differences between male and female psychologies. Additionally, early critics of the Covington Catholic School boys whose initial perceptions have been proven invalid are moving the goal posts to argue that the boys were asking for trouble by wearing red Make America Great Again hats. Both of these instances illustrate active consequence assignment, as opposed to consequences coming about naturally. The people who bemoan evolutionary biology and the sitting president’s signature merchandise are being intolerant bullies, and third parties must stick their necks out and stand up to these bullies to preserve an environment of liberal expression.
About a minute into Crowder’s video, he decides to abuse his First Amendment rights to the detriment of others. Crowder, camera crew in tow, approaches the demonstrators, and says “I understand there’s a protest going on here.” A white girl (WG) says they are not protesting, but “representing our views.” She says this calmly and politely and, in my opinion, in a way that attempts to communicate to Crowder that they are not trying to dehumanize or demonize him, but simply express their countering views.
Crowder then engages a guy holding a rainbow umbrella (GHU) and questions his group’s decision to demonstrate instead of joining him at the discussion table. He, as calmly and politely as WG, explains as follows:
For one, there is a fear for our safety. We don’t want to be put online where people that have similar beliefs to yours potentially would dox us and come at us and harass us. We feel that our point of view standing here was enough to be said. But now you’ve all come here and essentially forced us into this interview.
When those critical of identity politics and modern left-wing activism here the word “safety” in the context of political and social discourse, it may ring bells of the “safe space” culture eviscerated by Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff in their groundbreaking essay “The Coddling of the American Mind.” But what GHU and his group are afraid of is not encountering opposing views; they fear the same internet mob tactics that have upended the lives of the Covington Catholic students among so many others.
A black girl (BG) then makes another valiant point by explaining that her lacking public speaking skills could cause her to misrepresent her own views. Although I think she is underestimating herself, it’s a perfectly fair point. But none of this dissuades Crowder, and he continues to disregard their wishes.
By bringing these demonstrators into his YouTube channel and its 3.3 million subscribers, Crowder is not violating anyone’s First Amendment rights, but he is being a jerk and a bully and potentially subjecting them to undeserved consequences. And that kind of behavior is the exact opposite of what is needed to reestablish an environment for rational discourse in America.
Who called Steven a racist?
About half a minute into the video, Crowder’s voice, dubbed over the video, alludes to nasty accusations being hurled in his direction. We then see BG and a Muslim girl (MG) for the first time. Both girls are filmed saying “I don’t engage with racists” and “at the very least xenophobic.” No other context is provided at any point in the video.
After rejecting the students’ requests not to film them, about three and a half minutes into the video, Crowder confronts MG, who is a holding a sign that says “Immigrants are welcome here: change my mind.” Crowder invites her to his table, so he can take her up on the request implied by her sign. MG refuses by saying, “I’m good.” From behind Crowder, a female’s voice can be heard saying something along the lines of MG is the one who didn’t want to speak to “the racist,” which, at least in Crowder’s video, she did not say. Crowder continues his attempt to persuade her to speak with him, and she denies.
What’s important to take notice of here is that Crowder towers over MG. She is petite as can be, and he is a fairly hefty and tall man. Crowder also has a camera crew behind him, and spectators surround the entire scene.
I do not abide by the #MeToo principle that imbalance in stature, race, gender, or position of power should have legal ramifications. Adult female secretaries should not receive special legal treatment if they choose to sexually interact with their bosses. Adults are adults.
However, as I said earlier, legality does not determine right and wrong, and Crowder’s behavior here is bullying.
BG interjects and says to Crowder that the situation he is creating might be “intimidating” for some people. Crowder all but ignores her, and stupidly explains that it’s intimidating for him to be in a crowd like this too.
About twenty seconds before the five-minute mark, Crowder says to the group “I’ve heard rumors here that Crowder is a racist.” BG denies having said that. Crowder then turns to MG and asks if she called him a racist. MG says “I said I wouldn’t engage with racists, and I don’t feel comfortable engaging with you right now.” Crowder asks if this is because she thinks he is a racist, and she says “it’s because you’re crowding me and you’ve brought a crowd of people and multiple cameras, so I really don’t appreciate how you’re crowding me like this.” Some people in the crowd jeer her response petulantly. Crowder says he isn’t crowding her, which directly contradicts the mass of people and cameras that have encircled MG and her friends.
If Crowder were decent, he would have apologized at this point and walked away. He doesn’t.
MG calmly and clearly explains that she prefers to engage in smaller groups, not in crowds. Crowder essentially admonishes her for another minute until a bearded demonstrator (BD) raises two fingers, signaling he would like to chime in. More on BD in a moment…
I recommend watching this entire exchange carefully and listening to some of the things Crowder says. Then reconsider whether or not this is the type of person you should be listening to, let alone leading a pro-discourse movement.
Regardless of his views on immigration or anything else, BD, who arrives on the scene during the interaction between Crowder and MG, is the hero in this story.
Growing increasingly visibly annoyed during the exchange, BD raises two fingers and asks “Can I speak?” He then explains that he believes Crowder is doing something under-handed by basically exploiting a girl with possible anxiety issues in order to cast all of the demonstrators in a light of intellectual weakness.
Crowder then does something fascinating. In a near mirror image of the dishonest leftists he would destroy for throwing out accusations of racism when defeated in an argument, Crowder’s red herring response is that it’s “kind of like how calling someone a racist might be underhanded.” BD, who is quite eccentric and emotive, looks as though his brain has been twisted into a knot by Crowder’s non-sequitur rebuttal.
BD goes on for a minute or so explaining that coming to this campus, which is multi-cultural with a large immigrant population, with such an inflammatory debate topic is “shady” and that Crowder is exploiting the students for their emotional labor among other things.
Crowder, the self-anointed standard bearer for rational discourse, interrupts and responds by saying “everything you just said is inaccurate.”
I do not agree with Crowder that a wall should be built on the southern border, and I’m sure I would disagree with BD on a plethora of political and social issues (including the phrase “emotional labor” itself). But I would never make a comment as disrespectful, absolutist, or myopic as Crowder’s to either of them. This is because I actually want to change people’s minds, and can understand that their experiences and knowledge sets may be different from mine. I am almost willing to change my own mind and understand that every person I meet knows something I don’t, the 9th of Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life, which Crowder is evidently not heeding.
Around thirteen minutes into the video, BD (who tells Crowder his name is Nicholas) agrees to sit down with Crowder at his table. One of Crowder’s first comments is suggesting that sitting at the table “breeds more friendly, productive conversation” and that he doesn’t want to “shout out there.” Nicholas explains that he didn’t think that was an issue, and I agree with him. In contrast to the video’s title, no one had been shouting at each other. Yet, Crowder accuses him of “shouting” and “yelling” during the first few minutes of their conversation, which Nicholas says he doesn’t remember but is sorry for if he did (I like Nicholas).
At this point, Nicholas has remained polite and practiced active listening despite being smeared, mocked, and lied to. Add all of this to what I interpret to be standing up to the bullying Crowder on MG’s behalf, and it seems that Crowder should be taking notes from Nicholas, not the other way around.
Adding Insults to Injury
Crowder is both a political commentator and humorist with roots in stand up. While I love both and am a sycophant for political satire, the blending of politics and comedy can have mixed results. A benefit of political comedy is that satire and ridicule can be used to show people that they may need to reconsider their views. Another benefit is the inherent value of making people laugh, regardless of whether or not it’s constructive. Jokes are great in and of themselves.
One downside of political comedy is that people like Crowder, Bill Maher, and Stephen Colbert can hide behind their comic identity to avoid taking responsibility for flubs and mistakes while continuing to pose as legitimate voices when convenient. Another downside is that laughs, which should be elicited by a joke’s cleverness, timing, or absurdity, can also be generated via hate and confirmation bias. This has been on full display since Trump became a contender for president as jokes about him tend to forgo wit and instead capitalize on telling people what they want to hear. We the Internet has satirized this phenomenon as well as anyone.
Throughout the video, Crowder sinks to the comedic depths of Colbert and the rest of the late night clones with hackneyed and insulting quips about the oft-ridiculed terminology used by Social Justice Warriors. He refers to a reasonable and well-spoken argument made by Nicholas an “emotional reaction.” When Nicholas tries to defend himself from Crowder’s blatant misrepresentation of his arguments, Crowder sarcastically accuses him of “mansplaining.” After an exchange with BG, Crowder asks for a “bro-hug” then amends it to a “gender-neutral bro-hug.” When prodding Nicholas to tell him what an acceptable argument from a supporter of Trump’s wall would sound like, he asks “what, to you, would be the acceptable way for someone who disagrees with you to express himself, or herself… or xeself.”
Forget how disrespectful it is to presume that the people Crowder is speaking to actually abide by these concepts, and forget how dishonest it is to mock them without first knowing what their views are.
The real offense is his assault on the institution of comedy. By throwing these catchphrases in at such inopportune times, Crowder is playing to the lowest comedic common denominator. These jokes are about as original and as funny as calling Trump Orange.
Steven Crowder is not actually in the business of promoting civil discussion. He is in the businesses of promoting his own views and making his opponents seem worse than they actually are. While there are many on the left who are deserving of harsh criticism and denunciation, the students he bullied in his video did not appear to be the right targets at all. The students did not deserve to be treated the way they were by Crowder, and Crowder did not deserve the time of day from them.
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It was perfect: white, male, MAGA-hat-wearing, pro-life, Catholic school teenagers mocking and harassing an elderly, Native American veteran. The Gods of grievance studies and the Democratic Party had combined their omnipotence to deliver the video exemplifying toxic masculinity and white supremacy in Trump’s America to end all videos exemplifying toxic masculinity and white supremacy in Trump’s America. The Donald and freedom of association would now see defeat in one fell swoop.
Unfortunately for some, the initial video in question, like most videos, neglects crucial and extenuating context.
Nathan Phillips and the MAGA Kid
In the viral Twitter video, a lone Native American man is banging on a drum and chanting a Native American hymn. Directly in front of him stands a white teenager in a MAGA hat. The teenager, whose face is terribly punchable, remains still with an irritating grin plastered on his mug. Surrounding these two are dozens of other teenagers bouncing, cheering, laughing, and clapping to the rhythm as well as some individuals who appear to be with the Native American man.
I've seen that look before — on the MAGA boy's face as he taunts a participant from the Indigenous Peoples March. Fueled by ideology and a desire to dehumanize, it frightens me and reminds me of other cruel youth groups from history.
The clip spread online with captions and explanations suggesting that the boys had instigated the situation. Sources identified the man as Nathan Phillips, a veteran, and the boys as pupils of Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky.
It was at this point that an NPC hate mob was born and all the usual suspects latched on. Obviously, left-wing identitarians, woke celebrities, blue check marks, and anti-Trump radicals pushed the hardest. However, cowardly conservative pundits and journalists joined in too.
A Reality Too Convenient to Question
Next came doxxing and explicit threats of violence towards the boys and platitudes of admiration for Mr. Phillips. What never came, at least out of the burgeoning mob, was skepticism. I guess some realities are just too convenient to question.
More video of the situation then began to emerge. To anyone willing to open their eyes, it was clear that the situation was far more complicated than the mob would permit for consideration.
One video shows that it was Phillips who approached the boys, not the other way around. As the boys shout their alma mater wildly, something teenage boys do, Phillips walks towards them with his drum:
As one present student explains, the boys’ initial thought was that Nathan Phillips was making “a cultural display”, so they decided to join his chant. They then grew “confused” after sensing hostility on Phillips’ part:
Enter the boy with the most punchable face in America. I do not know this young man’s name, and I wouldn’t share it if I did, but he is in dire need of some sympathy. Simply for wearing a MAGA hat and having a face that only a mother could love, an awkward young man is being called a hateful bigot and other horrid things I’d rather not repeat.
Accusations of the Hate Mob
What is it that so many are accusing him of doing? Not using his fists. Not using his words. In fact, not even using his middle finger. No, merely smiling and standing still and having evil in his heart. Smiling and standing still are not contemptible acts, and nobody knows what is in another’s heart. I don’t know who you are, young man, but God bless you and stay strong. And grow a mustache as soon as possible. If Nathan Phillips were someone else, I would have a major bone to pick with him. But based on the interview below and his disputed recounting of the event (he said he heard chants of “build that wall” but no evidence of this exists and also claimed punchable face boy blocked him from moving forward and from retreating, which is absurd), I must assume that he is not completely with it:
Thank you to @VinceSchilling of @IndianCountry and many others who identified the proud Native man who is being harassed. He is Mr. Nathan Phillips. I’m reposting this video from “ka_ya11” on IG. This man’s words pierce my heart. The grace. The wisdom. The hope. pic.twitter.com/BKOA40SVq5
Nathan Phillips is a man and is responsible for his words and actions, but The Washington Post is the real villain here. Instead of reporting on what the video evidence suggests, they simply quote Phillips’ version of the story. This is despicable, but it’s also mainstream journalism in 2019. So what do you expect?
So apparently a lot of the outrage stems from The Washington Post taking Phillips' version and printing it, despite it being contradicted by the video. He approached the kid, not the other way around. And he could have gone around him or turned around at any time. pic.twitter.com/24sehzm66j
If anyone is bigoted here, it’s a group of black Israelites who shouted conspiracy theories and racist and homophobic epithets at the Covington boys, though simply ignoring them is likely the better way to go. Against my own advice, here is a longer video of the confrontation with the black Israelites taking center stage about four and a half minutes in.
Instead of white supremacists inspired by President Trump treating a Native American serviceman like garbage, we have some dumb boys (redundant) having fun and being smeared by a psychotic gang of silly adults.
The anti-Trump mob cares little for facts or reality. They will not get over their electoral college loss from over two years ago, and they will be happy to ruin lives for the sake of misguided vengeance until someone else is commander-in-chief. I predicted this would last a few months after Trump was elected, but I was wrong.
We can still do something about this. But because the mob is spreading the fake version of this story with chilling haste, I do not know what it is at the time of publication.
Buy gold, ammo, and canned food, and, for the love of God, share this post!
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