Time for this week’s Current Events Write-Up.
American Conservative: “Iranians: Not Pining for American Intervention,” by Akhilesh “Akhi“ Pillalamarri
Are Iranians yearning for the U.S. to support an overthrow of the current Iranian regime? Pillalamarri argues “no,” as Iran in the past has had negative experiences with foreign intervention into its country. Pillalamarri also expresses a dim view about the resistance against Iran, warning that it could turn out to be an even harder-line regime than what currently exists.
The Federalist Radio Hour: “Here’s What Is Happening in Turkey,” and The Federalist: “Turkey Has Only Its President to Blame for Its Financial Crisis,” by Helen Raleigh
I will probably listen to that episode of the podcast again, as there were details that I missed. The Helen Raleigh article provides helpful background about Turkey’s current situation, but the podcast offers more context and nuance. The podcast offers much more than a negative portrayal of Erdogan by discussing his possible motivations and appeal.
The Nation: “‘An Eternal Night of Persecution and Death’: Activists Speak Out about Nicaragua’s Crackdown,” by Maia Hibbett
On one of my Current Events Write-Ups, I posted an interview with Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega. This article is a leftist critique of him. It presents him as inefficient, repressive, and selective about whom his social programs help. Ironically, it presents highlights that some of his opponents deem him to be too far to the right! And it was interesting to learn about his anti-abortion policies.
Townhall: “John Brennan Was Long a Danger to US National Security,” by Humberto Fontova
And, of course, since this is Humberto Fontova, the article will have something to do with Fidel Castro.
The Federalist Radio Hour: “Security Clearances Are Not Free Speech and Other Ideas the Media Elite Get Wrong”
The title is snarky and opinionated, but the discussion itself was actually quite thoughtful and three-dimensional. It tackled, of course, the John Brennan issue, but it also discussed social media censorship.
“America’s Burgeoning Civil War,” by Chuck Baldwin
Chuck Baldwin is a pastor and was the 2008 Presidential candidate for the conservative Constitution Party. In this article, though, he transcends the usual right-left polarities. Some notable lines: “The left is wrong to dismiss the attacks on the Second Amendment liberties of gun owners, and the right is wrong to dismiss the attacks on the Fourth Amendment liberties of blacks and other minorities.” “Quite frankly, I am tired of hearing so-called patriots talk about the ‘murder’ of Lavoy Finicum while completely ignoring the murders of dozens, if not scores, of young black men every year by policemen all over America. The double standard is sickening!” “On this subject, I totally support the efforts of Rand Paul and Bernie Sanders to overhaul the bail system in America’s criminal justice system…Don’t tell me we need bigger jails. All that does is feed the Police State and further tax the taxpayers. What we need is more justice in the justice system. The bail system is a dinosaur that needs to be fossilized.”
Townhall: “Prison Reform: An Unlikely GOP Issue,” by Cal Thomas
Cal Thomas gives examples of what President Trump and the Senate are doing to bring about prison reform so that convicts can re-enter society. “Secretary of Energy Rick Perry noted that while governor of Texas he was able to ‘shut down eight prisons, saving more than $3 billion dollars a year in prison costs, and conservatives look at that now and go, ‘That was smart on crime.'”
Tomgram: “William Hartung, Gunrunning USA”
I remember reading right-wingers criticizing the “UN Gun Grab.” President Trump is pursuing the opposite sort of policy, of course. William Hartung argues that is not good.
Townhall: “Charlottesville: A Clash of Left vs. Left?”, by Arthur Schaper
This week marked the one-year anniversary of the clash in Charlottesville, between people protesting the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue and the “Antifa” people protesting against them. Schaper argues that both sides are different shades of the left: both are authoritarian and are critical of capitalism. The difference is that the former is nationalist and racist, whereas the latter is not. To give you a taste: “One of the rally’s keynote speakers, Richard Spencer, the godfather of the ‘Alt-Right’, despises the founding principles of our country, including limited government, individual liberty, and the divine origin of natural rights. Dinesh D’Souza’s documentary ‘Death of a Nation’ brilliantly presented in one interview with Spencer what the founder of the Alt-Right movement has expounded on for years. He is a left-wing statist invested in the ultimate authority of the state, socialized medicine, and the nationalization of public lands. He is a national socialist, but a socialist nonetheless. Jason Kessler organized this ‘Unite the Right’ rally, but he’s actually another left-winger. He voted for Barack Obama.He participated heavily in the Occupy Wall Street Movement and once touted himself as a liberal organizer. The reports of Kessler’s left-wing leanings came out within days of the Charlottesville clash last year, but few actually read about it.” See the article itself for the links documenting these claims.
Townhall: “Eyes On The Prizefighters,” by Ann Coulter
I loved this part, as I was thinking the same thing: “Last year, President Trump blamed ‘both sides’ for the bedlam at the rally to defend Confederate statues — sending the media into a moral panic. Naturally, Trump also denounced white supremacy, for anyone who missed it the first million times he did so…BOTH SIDES? But ‘Antifa’ is pure as the driven snow! They are anti-fascist! To blame ‘both sides’ was to endorse fascism.” Ann Coulter is being sarcastic, of course.
ABC “This Week” Transcript 8-12-18: Kellyanne Conway, Rep. Elijah Cummings and Michael Avenatti
Several things stood out to me in this episode. For one, Elijah Cummings was impressive because he refused to cater to media sensationalism by declaring that Donald Trump is a racist; he still has grave concerns, of course. Kellyanne was awesome because she does not take crap from anybody. Republican strategist Ana Navarro made an interesting point about Omarosa: maybe she is an opportunist, betraying Trump for self-promotion, but birds of a feather flock together; Trump attracts people who do that sort of thing. And Stormy Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, is planning on running for President. He sounded reasonable in his policy positions. He is the only potential Democratic candidate so far whom I do not find annoying. He is tough without being over-the-top and self-righteously dramatic in his criticisms of Trump. But my track record on this sort of thing is flawed. I was impressed by Herman Cain in 2012 after watching him on ABC “This Week,” and that did not turn out well!
New York Post: “The SPLC’s Terrible Year Just Got Worse”
I ordinarily do not care for the New York Post. But I liked this: “It’s been a rough year for the Southern Poverty Law Center — deservedly so. And it just got more difficult, thanks to Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The SPLC, formed in 1971 as an aggressive civil-rights nonprofit law firm, has become the left’s go-to arbiter of what constitutes a hate group. Its pronouncements are quoted without challenge by the news media, and it has an endowment of $300 million, enriched by major corporate donors. Yet its overly broad definition of ‘hate’ often goes far beyond truly vile outfits to include people and groups that simply don’t toe a politically correct line. That’s why the SPLC two months ago had to pay $3.4 million and publicly apologize to Maajid Nawaz, whom it had falsely labeled an ‘anti-Muslim extremist.’ (He’s actually a practicing Muslim who opposes extremism.)”
Salon: “Ben Shapiro baits Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez: A bad-faith challenge is rejected,” by Yoav Litvin
This article kind of made me sick! It was so snooty liberal. Believe me, I understand that not everyone is good at debating. I am not. But, as a candidate, Ocasio-Cortez eventually will have to debate someone who holds contrary positions. I suppose she can pull a Nixon (1968 and 1972) and not debate her opponent, but that would not look good.
National Review: “Andrew Cuomo Was Never That Great,” by Charles C.W. Cooke
And, speaking of intolerant, dramatic liberals, Charles C.W. Cooke depicts New York Governor Andrew Cuomo as one.
The Federalist: “Why Preschool Doesn’t Usually Do Much Good for Small Children,” by Auguste Meyrat
Auguste Meyrat has background and credentials in the field of education. Like a lot of conservatives, he argues that kids who were in pre-school do not perform better academically than those who were not. Remember what Republican Presidential candidate Arnold Vinick said in the TV show, The West Wing: “Head Start doesn’t work!” But Meyrat also offers arguments for why it doesn’t work: that is not the age to barrage kids with a bunch of academic learning.
Robert Reich: “How Trump’s War on Regulation Is Trickle-Down Economics”
Not much new here, in terms of arguments, but the reason this stood out to me was due to a discussion I overheard at church last Sunday. Someone was wondering why people cannot suck up water from the lakes and use that to put out forest fires, and the pastor responded that this is not allowed. Robert Reich weighs in: “Last week [President Trump] even blamed regulations for the wildfires now ravaging California. They’re ‘made so much worse,’ he tweeted, ‘by the bad environmental laws which aren’t allowing massive amount[s] of readily available water to be properly utilized.’ I have news for Trump. California’s tough environmental laws are among America’s (and the world’s) last bulwarks against climate change. And it’s climate change – not regulation – that’s reaping havoc across California as well as much of the rest of the world. Oh, and Californians are using water very carefully.”
Reason: “Subsidies and Price Controls Aren’t the Answer to Skyrocketing Prescription Drug Prices,” by Nikhil Sridhar
Not much new here, but this article reminds me of where I find libertarian/conservative analysis to be limited, and where I find it to be intriguing or helpful. Let’s start with limited. The article may be right that Medicare increases the cost of prescription drugs by elevating demand; similar arguments are made against a single-payer health care system. I just find that argument to be cold because it seems to imply that we should bring down prices by depriving people of medication. The article argues against the government negotiating lower drug prices with pharmaceuticals because that could result in pharmaceuticals having less money for research and development; but couldn’t patent reform, which this article endorses, have the same sort of effect? Maybe. I somewhat like a proposal that I read by James Carville and Paul Begala: let the pharmaceuticals have a patent for a period of time to reap the fruits of their labors, but at a certain point the patent expires and others can develop the drug, too, resulting in competition and lower drug prices. Sridhar’s article is critical of the FDA and how it slows down the release of new drugs, resulting in high prices. What about safety? Well, Sridhar argues that the threat of lawsuits can ameliorate that problem: pharmaceuticals will develop safe drugs, without the FDA rigamarole, to avoid being sued by people harmed by drugs.
Vox: “Elizabeth Warren Has a Plan to Save Capitalism” vs. National Review: “Elizabeth Warren’s Batty Plan to Nationalize . . . Everything”
Two opposite perspectives on Senator Elizabeth Warren’s Accountable Capitalism Act. The former article is better than the latter in that it is more detailed; perhaps I would have done better to have dug up a Heritage Foundation critique of the bill. But it is interesting how two people can look at the same bill and reach astoundingly different conclusions. Both are obviously discussing the same details, but one says that Warren’s bill is good because it does not rely on the welfare state, whereas the other argues that Warren’s bill is socialistic redistributionism.
Townhall: “Fear and Loathing of Jordan Peterson,” by Suzanne Fields vs. Jacobin: “Jordan Peterson’s Bullshit,” by Harrison Fluss
I have listened to things by and about Jordan Peterson, but I have felt as if my knowledge of him is rather spotty and scattered. These articles, one positive and one negative, helped me to place his thought and his significance within some sort of narrative. If someone were to ask me, “Who is this Jordan Peterson, and what does he believe?”, I could now rattle off a brief answer.
The Federalist: “Examine the Key Figures Who Shaped Our Understanding of the Constitution,” by Michael Rosen
I don’t have anything to say about this article, only that it was informative.