Outrage Politics

What President Biden said is: We’re willing to come to your house to give you the vaccine. At no point was anybody saying they’re going to break down your door and jam a vaccine into your arm despite your protests. This is outrage politics that is being played by my party, and it’s going to get Americans killed.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL)

This week’s featured post is “Vaccines versus Variants“.

This week everybody was talking about a new Covid surge

That’s the topic of the featured post.

and foreign affairs


President Biden is taking heat for sticking by his plan to withdraw combat troops from Afghanistan. The Taliban is gaining ground, and should not be trusted to keep any pledges they make.

I understand all that, and yet I think the withdrawal is long overdue. Critics may describe it as a “defeat“, but actually it’s just an admission of the defeat that happened long ago. No one has a plan for standing up an Afghan government that can command the loyalty of its people and defend itself without us. So we can pull out now and watch the Taliban take over, or stay another 20 years and then pull out and watch the Taliban take over.

That’s the choice, and I’m glad to hear Biden recognize it.

I will not send another generation of Americans to Afghanistan with no reasonable expectation of achieving a different outcome.

Bad things will happen in the areas the Taliban takes over. But as Biden has observed elsewhere, bad things happen in lots of countries: Are we going to send troops to all of them?

One reasonable question is what will happen to Afghans who worked with us, like our translators. In his speech, Biden talked about granting them special immigration visas. Current law won’t let Biden bring them to the United States immediately, but the plan is to take as many as want to come to Guam or some third country, while they wait for their paperwork to be processed.

Haiti is in turmoil after its president was assassinated Wednesday night. The assassination was clearly a well-planned operation, but it’s not clear yet who did it or why.

Various political figures are locked in a struggle over who is actually running the country (including two interim prime ministers, Claude Joseph and Ariel Henry), while a group of legislators has also recognised Joseph Lambert, the head of Haiti’s dismantled senate, as provisional president.

The US may well end up sorting this out somehow. But if we do, we should make sure we’re backing the right horse.

Cuba is suffering through an economic crisis intertwined with the Covid epidemic. Thousands of Cubans protested Sunday, the largest demonstrations against the Communist government in decades.

and race


Antiracist author Ibram X. Kendi reflects on having become a straw man:

Over the past few months, I have seldom stopped to answer the critiques of critical race theory or of my own work, because the more I’ve studied these critiques, the more I’ve concluded that these critics aren’t arguing against me. They aren’t arguing against anti-racist thinkers. They aren’t arguing against critical race theorists. These critics are arguing against themselves.

What happens when a politician falsely proclaims what you think, and then criticizes that proclamation? Is she really critiquing your ideas—or her own? If a writer decides what both sides of an argument are stating, is he really engaging in an argument with another writer, or is he engaging in an argument with himself?

And Matt Yglesias raises a question about anti-CRT laws:

Does anyone care to make a forecast of the form “states that adopt [good/bad] laws banning ‘Critical Race Theory’ will see [benefits/harms] to [someone] that we can measure [somehow] within [timespan]”?

In an article about Nicole Hannah-Jones’ decision to reject a battled-over position at University of North Carolina and instead accept an enthusiastically-offered professorship at Howard University, Paul Butler notes:

Columbia University law professor Kimberlé Crenshaw, who coined the term “critical race theory,” has argued that the law can often be interpreted in a way that benefits the ruling class, no matter what the law actually says.

I believe that anti-CRT laws will validate this proposition. The laws themselves outlaw ideas that no antiracist is explicitly teaching or wants to teach (like “That any sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, or national origin is inherently superior or inferior“). But in practice, the effect of these laws will be to limit teaching about the significance of slavery in American history, and the continuing effects of racism on American society. (Example: If government-endorsed red-lining creates a racial ghetto, does that ghetto magically disappear when the rules change? Will the Black families who were denied the opportunity to build wealth instantly be made whole?) Any White parents who are uncomfortable with the facts their child is learning will feel empowered to complain or sue, and school officials will be reluctant to stand up for the teacher. That’s already happening.

Will those effects, or the effect on teachers (and the students of teachers) who just decide to play it safe and not talk about race, be measurable within a time frame, as Yglesias asks? Probably not.


Nicole Hannah-Jones and Ta-Nehisi Coates going to historically Black Howard University is a big deal. It signals that a virtuous cycle is underway: Big-name faculty leads to big-time donations, which draw more big-name faculty. Also: Howard just got more attractive to top-notch Black high school students who also get in to Ivy League schools. Hannah-Jones isn’t just someone you’d want to study with, she models the thought process that might draw you to Howard: Do you really want to spend the next four years proving to White people that you belong at Harvard?

The Robert E. Lee statue that was the center of the “Unite the Right” rally of very fine people white supremacists in Charlotte in 2017 has finally been removed from Market Street Park. A statue of Stonewall Jackson was removed from a different Charlottesville park.

The city, a university town that is liberal by Virginia standards, has been trying to take the statues down for years, but was blocked by a state law that protected them. But the Virginia Supreme Court ruled in the city’s favor in April.

but we can’t lose sight of climate change

David Roberts makes two important points about fighting climate change.

First, there is no “moderate” policy option.

To allow temperatures to rise past 1.5° or 2°C this century is to accept unthinkable disruption to agriculture, trade, immigration, public health, and basic social cohesion. To hold temperature rise to less than 1.5° or 2°C this century will require enormous, heroic decarbonization efforts on the part of every wealthy country.

Either of those outcomes is, in its own way, radical. There is no non-radical future available for the US in decades to come. Our only choice is the proportions of the mix: action vs. impacts. The less action we and other countries take to address the threat, the more impacts we will all suffer.

Politicians who hamper the effort to decarbonize and increase resilience are not moderates. They are effectively choosing a mix of low action and high impacts — ever-worsening heat waves, droughts, floods, and hurricanes. There is nothing moderate about that, certainly nothing conservative.

Second, the top priority has to be clean electrification.

while different climate models disagree about which policies and technologies will be needed to clean up remaining emissions after 2030, virtually all of them agree on what’s needed over the next decade. It’s clean electrification:

1. clean up the electricity grid by replacing fossil fuel power plants with renewable energy, batteries, and other zero-carbon resources;

2. clean up transportation by replacing gasoline and diesel vehicles — passenger vehicles, delivery trucks and vans, semi-trucks, small planes, agricultural and mining equipment, etc. — with electric vehicles; and

3. clean up buildings by replacing furnaces and other appliances that run on fossil fuels with electric equivalents.

and you also might be interested in …


Trump filed lawsuits against the major social media companies, seeking to be reinstated on their platforms. The reasoning is kind of far-fetched: Facebook, Twitter, et al are essentially “state actors”, because they cooperate with government agencies like the CDC, and because Democrats in Congress intimidate them into doing their bidding. That means that the First Amendment — which only applies to government action — should apply to social media companies as well.

Many of the actions the suit cites happen on January 7, and yet there is no indication that anything unusual might have happened on January 6 — like say, that the mob that Trump raised (at least in part) by using social media platforms violently attacked Congress and tried to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

No, instigating violence to overthrow democracy had nothing to do with it. Democrats were just jealous of Trump’s social media skills.

Democrat legislators in Congress feared Plaintiff’s skilled use of social media as a threat to their own re-election efforts. These legislators exerted overt coercion, using both words and actions, upon Defendants to have Defendants censor the views and content with which Members of Congress disagreed with, of both the Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members.

The lawsuit is going nowhere (not the least reason being that the Facebook terms of service say all suits have to be filed in California, not Florida). But that’s not the point: fund-raising is the point.

The Washington Post observes that the suit has the usual dollop of Trump projecting his own actions onto others.

The real hypocrisy of Trump’s case, [Santa Clara University law professor Eric] Goldman points out, is that the U.S. government official most responsible for trying to strong-arm the platforms is Trump himself. Last year, he responded to a content moderation decision he didn’t like by issuing an executive order that sought to weaken social media companies’ liability shield.

Back on June 28, Tucker Carlson charged that the NSA was spying on him, and was trying to get his show off the air. The NSA tweeted a denial that Carlson had ever been a target, but didn’t explicitly say that they hadn’t intercepted any of his communications.

We now know why the NSA might have swept up some of Carlson’s messages without him being a target: He was negotiating with the Kremlin to get a Putin interview. They were spying on Russia, and Carlson just popped up.

In National Review, Eric Kaufmann lamented the unwillingness of Ivy League and other educated women to date Trump supporters.

Trump supporters excluded, fully 87 percent of all female college students wouldn’t date a Trump supporter. Even among non-Trumpist Republicans, just 58 percent of women would date a Trump supporter.

And then jumps to this ominous consequence:

The problem of “affective polarization” has been well documented, in which people react negatively to those of the opposing political tribe, and this animosity spills over from politics into everyday social relationships. But what if polarization has an asymmetric effect on power in society? What if the elite is becoming a politically endogamous tribe that dominates positions of power in society, reserving them for those with the correct political pedigree?

Kaufmann seems oblivious to the special circumstances around women and Trump. More than two dozen women have accused Trump of various levels of sexual abuse, going all the way up to rape. So a man who supports Trump either (1) doesn’t believe women, or (2) thinks sexual abuse isn’t a deal-breaker.

Don’t go out with that guy. It’s just common sense.

Gypsy moths have been cancelled.

A reporter points out an interesting difference between covering the Trump and Biden administrations: Getting a clear official statement about what the Trump administration was doing was often hard, but Trump’s people “had contempt for their boss” and so leaked like mad. OTOH, Biden’s people are happy to tell you what the policy is — Jen Psaki’s press briefings are downright educational sometimes — but they won’t repeat what the President is saying behind closed doors.

If Trump has noticed this, it must frustrate the hell out of him. He was always so focused on loyalty, but got so much less of it from his people than Biden does from his. They would grovel to Trump in his presence, then tell reporters off the record what a moron he is.

It’s still happening. Somebody on the inside, probably John Kelly himself, told author Michael Bender the anecdote about Trump defending Hitler to Kelly. Compare that to the post-Obama-administration books. I’ve read a bunch of them, and they all treat President Obama with great respect. I can’t think of a single tell-all Obama administration book, unless you count those scandalous stories of Barack sneaking an occasional cigarette and not telling Michelle.

Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary Saturday. The former president was still teaching Sunday school in 2019, at the age of 95. Tell me again which party represents Christian values.

White Evangelical Protestant numbers have been plummeting for more than a decade. Now there are now more White mainline Protestants.

New York Magazine’s Intelligencer column offers an additional detail:

While white Evangelicals are shrinking as a share of the population, they’re also getting older. PRRI reports that they “are the oldest religious group in the U.S., with a median age of 56, compared to the median age in the country of 47.”

I’ll offer a speculative interpretation based on this data: The Trump years convinced unaffiliated liberal Christians that they needed to commit and organize. If you add together the Unaffiliated and the White Mainline Christians, the number stays almost constant: 38.6% in 2017, 39% in 2018, 38.7% in 2019, and 39.7% in 2020.

GETTR was advertised as a “cancel-free” social media platform devoted to free speech. Turns out, that’s not true. It’s a conservative platform where you can get canceled for criticizing conservative personalities and ideas. (I know. You’re shocked, right?)

When you predict the future, sometimes you get things just a little bit wrong. Like Wired, 24 years ago:

We are watching the beginnings of a global economic boom on a scale never experienced before. We have entered a period of sustained growth that could eventually double the world’s economy every dozen years and bring increasing prosperity for—quite literally—billions of people on the planet. We are riding the early waves of a 25-year run of a greatly expanding economy that will do much to solve seemingly intractable problems like poverty and to ease tensions throughout the world. And we’ll do it without blowing the lid off the environment.

and let’s close with something repetitive

When a new language group takes over a region, they often keep words from the old language as names. This sometimes results in repetitive names, like when English speakers talk about the Rio Grande River (river big river). Mississippi River similarly means “big river river” if you know Ojibwe or Algonquin. There are other famous examples, like the Sahara Desert, which means Desert Desert when you translate the Arabic, or Lake Tahoe, which means Lake Lake.

The alleged champion repetitive place name, though, is Torpenhow Hill in England, whose name was extended several times by speakers of different languages, until it now means Hill Hill Hill Hill.

Except, as Tom Scott observes in this video, the locals don’t actually call it Torpenhow Hill. But it is a hill right outside the village of Torpenhow, which really does mean Hill Hill Hill, more or less. So people could start calling it Torpenhow Hill. “This can be Torpenhow Hill, if enough people want it to be. … There have been plenty of tourist attractions built around much less than this.”

Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.


  • PH  On July 12, 2021 at 2:52 pm

    You name Guam as if it were not part of the United States, but it is a United States territory. Is the US military really able to bring Afghans who worked with us initially to Guam but not to one of the 50 states? Heck, why not just bring them to Puerto Rico, then, or to Washington DC?

    • pauljbradford  On July 12, 2021 at 3:26 pm

      Doug describes Guam as not one of the fifty states and not a foreign country. That’s the niche where it fits. Hopefully Biden expedites getting those Afghans somewhere safe.

  • Dale  On July 12, 2021 at 6:24 pm

    >The US may well end up sorting this out somehow. But if we do, we should make sure we’re backing the right horse.

    This, i think, is a mistake. Any horse we back has a high likelihood of ending up being the wrong one by virtue of us backing it. We should have to have a very compelling reason to back any horse.

    >Kaufmann seems oblivious to the special circumstances around women and Trump. More than two dozen women have accused Trump of various levels of sexual abuse, going all the way up to rape. So a man who supports Trump either (1) doesn’t believe women, or (2) thinks sexual abuse isn’t a deal-breaker.

    >Don’t go out with that guy. It’s just common sense.

    In addition to the fact that Trump made the misogyny in the Republican platform obvious. Its not just those aspects; you could reasonably believe those things in a specific instance and still be a good boyfriend. I voted for Clinton and she aided in the downplaying of her husbands indiscretions. Something easy enough to see as “not believing women” or “thinking sexual abuse isn’t a deal-breaker” since i probably would have voted for C1 if i could have.

    But Trump was much more than that. He wasn’t simply an individual to defend on the merits because there was no reasonable deal to break with Trump. His abuse was just an outward reflection of the policies he supported. Even if Trump wasn’t an abuser it would not make sense to date someone who voted for him. Male dominated hierarchy is what Trump voters wanted to get out of voting for Trump. So if you aren’t supportive of male dominated hierarchy then the only reason to date someone who was is if you didn’t have another choice.

  • Daughter Number Three  On July 13, 2021 at 3:38 pm

    I remember that Wired cover and article! Ahhh… to be so wrong.

  • A. Frank  On July 13, 2021 at 5:51 pm

    RE: “If conservatives can get another Covid wave started, not only would that make Biden look bad, but it might spark another round of mask mandates and business closures. Then in 2022 Republican candidates can run against the “tyranny” that they themselves made necessary.”

    Yeah, I’ve been thinking this ever since Trump was ousted. No way to prove it, but since right-wing influences are not only urging their followers to increase the risk of their own death, but are also doing the same for everyone, it’s not illogical to ascribe this motivation to them. Heaven help us – millions of our fellow citizens furiously support this madness.

  • SamuraiArtGuy  On July 13, 2021 at 11:36 pm

    Given a career in Graphic and Web Design, I am definitely something of a tech nerd and a futurist. But there are… reasons I allowed my subscription to Wired expire.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: