Stop and think,  collected — 2018

Note. Because of changes in the archive pages, over time, you may find that some of the links you hit to other "Stop and think" installments actually lead nowhere. If you encounter frustration with a particular link, please feel free to hold my feet to the fire. — Nicholas Strakon

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Reader responses

How Minitrue phrases it for hoi polloi. When he was governor, Mike Pence resisted forcing Hoosier taxpayers to finance the resettlement of Syrian immigrants in Indiana. On March 2, the Fort Wayne CBS affiliate, WANE-TV, ran a brief report on a Central Government court's decision about that resistance. The newsreader said:

"... [A] federal judge says that Indiana must allow Syrian refugees to resettle in the state. Former Governor Mike Pence cited terrorism fears when he stopped state agencies from paying to help relocate Syrians to Indiana. The ACLU of Indiana sued, arguing that Pence's order illegally targeted Syrians based on their nationality, and that it violated the U.S. Constitution and federal law. The judge agreed." (My emphasis.)

Generally there's nothing worse than TV news, but as you'll see if you read the AP's story of March 1, its formulation of the issue isn't much better.

There was, of course, no state law or regulation preventing Syrians who were legally in the country from moving to Indiana. If a Syrian called up Allied Van Lines saying he wanted to move from Dayton to Muncie, the company was not required to inform the Indiana State Police.

Again we see that, for the totalitarians, failing to subsidize an activity is equivalent to banning it. It seems to parallel T.H. White's rule for the ant colony: "EVERYTHING NOT FORBIDDEN IS COMPULSORY." [Nicholas Strakon] (March 2018)

Flanked by happy fascists from the steel and aluminum industries, Mr. Thompson — oh, excuse me, Mr. Trump, on March 1 promised to impose protective tariffs on steel and aluminum imports into the land area claimed by the great crime organization in Washington, D.C.

From Politico:

President Donald Trump on Thursday ignited a possible trade war by announcing a decision to impose tariffs of 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum to protect both industries from unfairly traded imports that the Commerce Department has determined pose a threat to national security.

"It'll be 25 percent for steel. It will be 10 percent for aluminum. It'll be for a long period of time," Trump said at a listening [sic] session with steel and aluminum industry executives at the White House. "We'll be signing it next week. And you'll have protection."

Seeing the televised event before reading the Politico piece, I wondered where Trump derived this particular authority to "rule by decree," in the style that Republicans screamed so loudly about when the Unicorn Prince exercised it. I suspected, though, that it was all "legal" (within the universe of government "law") and proceeded from yet another surrender by Congress of its constitutional prerogatives.


But Trump's authority was established long before the ruling class invented Obama and installed him in the Palace. From the article:

Trump ordered the Commerce Department to initiate investigations last April examining whether the imports posed a threat to national security. The probes were invoked under the rarely used Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962.

Commerce released the findings of those investigations and its recommendations earlier in February, finding that imports of the metals did endanger national security.

"Trade Expansion Act" — that's very good, isn't it? And some people think fascists have no sense of humor.

Nowhere in the Politico article do I see any mention of the effect that higher steel and aluminum prices will have on Americans — except for those Americans at the Pentagon. And the message there is, Not to worry.

Bastiat, Bastiat.

During the TV event, Trump actually boasted about his earlier tariff on washing machines, raising the price of those items for ordinary Americans. It's a new frontier in populism, I guess, especially when you throw in his recent attacks on gunowners' rights and due process. [Nicholas Strakon]

Modine Herbey comments. "Mr. Thompson" is good, but "Mr. McKinley" would be good, too. Or "Mr. Herbert Hoover." Along with some other ancient GOP names I could mention. I'm just sayin', this is some old-time Republican religion we got goin' here. (March 2018)

Further reading on the tariff power surrendered to our Mr. Thompsons, past and present: "Presidential Authority to Raise Tariffs," by Jean Heilman Grier, Perspectives on Trade, January 10, 2017.

"Officer safety," in spades. I have to say, I was already fed up with all the pompous nonsense about cops "putting their lives on the line," etc. After all, what about the lumberjacks, farmers, miners, fishermen, linemen, construction workers, and all the others that work at jobs much more dangerous? They put their lives on the line, too, so that we can live comfortably in the modern world, but they don't rate the same kind of regard, apparently.

Those guys don't get the enormous traffic-blocking funeral motorcades, with saluting firemen on the overpasses; the lugubrious candlelight "tributes"; the faked sadness on the face of newsreaders reporting on some uniformed thug who stumbled into the path of a bullet.

The thing is, after all that blather about "putting their lives on the line," when the time comes for cops to actually do it, as often as not it seems that they don't. During the Virginia Tech massacre, for instance, the cops waited outside for five minutes, giving the shooter time to take out more innocents before finally making himself safely dead.

The same thing happened in Florida on February 14. There was a "resource officer" — the educationist term for campus cop — on the scene, who conspicuously did nothing. And then three more cops showed up, and also did nothing. In fact, they didn't even surround the building to keep the perpetrator from getting away — which he did. They just cowered and listened to the screams of kids getting shot.

When I was young, I learned at some point that bullies were usually cowards: if you stood up to them, they usually backed down. And so it seems to be with the uniformed kind. Oh, it's good fun to have a uniform and a badge and a sidearm, and to use them to intimidate the taxpayers. You've got your "officer safety" training to justify shooting unarmed citizens first and asking questions later: "The officer perceived a credible threat when the 62-year-old grandmother reached for her purse. It was a justified shooting."

And, let's face it, most actual criminals are so pathetic they're not really much of a threat. In fact, if you want to beat up on them, chances are no one's going to believe them when they say they didn't resist. Or you can just steal their money and drugs, as the Los Angeles cops did in the Rampart scandal, or the Baltimore cops convicted just a few weeks ago. Or the Chicago cops just indicted. Or the Philadelphia cop recently indicted.

But every once in a while an actual threat to the citizenry comes along — the kind of threat against which you're actually supposed to put your life on the line, to save the lives of innocents. And what happens then, Mr. Tough Guy?

So I don't expect you to protect me or anything. Just, please don't gratuitously shoot me during a traffic stop, okay? And also, don't give us any more rubbish about "lives on the line." That's all I ask. [David T. Wright] (March 2018)

If the cops can't do it, no one can. Certain anti-gunowner folk are summoning the gall to, er, argue that since the deputy on duty at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School failed to defend the unarmed people in the school, no one can be expected to undertake an armed defense against armed aggression. I just saw a long Facebook post detailing past instances of cop incompetence with firearms, seeking to undermine President Trump's notion about arming teachers, who surely would be more incompetent than the cops. Here's a piece in Deadline Hollywood that uses the deputy's inaction to claim that defense against aggression is futile. And here's Chris Cillizza's version of the same leftist tune, at CNN. (For Cillizza, "doesn't always" apparently has the same argumentative power as "never.")

The leftists' premise seems to be that since guns are BAD, only BAD people can succeed in using them. One implication might be that if cops are GOOD, then they might as well be disarmed. However, in most other contexts leftists seem to believe that cops are BAD, even though they are the left-totalitarian regime's first line of enforcement and defense. In fact, some variety of armed cops would have to carry out any gun confiscation and prohibition. The Party line is very confusing, as we might expect it to be, since it doesn't depend on actual thinking.

One may notice that, as usual, the leftists are ignoring the blizzard of examples of righteously armed people successfully defending themselves, their loved ones, and their property against attackers who were armed or physically stronger.

In any case, arming (and training) teachers isn't the only possibility for anti-Left people to consider. How about private professional security, dependent on operational success in order to survive in a competitive market? That very solution would prevail, no doubt, if school and state were separated.

The leftists' incompetent-cop argument makes as much sense as a claim that if Stalinist agriculture was a disaster, then free-market agriculture must be a disaster, too. And if Venezuelan supermarket shelves are empty, then American supermarket shelves must be empty, too — ooops! It ain't so. [Nicholas Strakon] (February 2018)

The Russia mania. It's unlikely that Russia will go communist again, and it's just a shame. Our liberal conspiratorialists would quiet down immediately. Getting the neocons out of our face, though — that's a tougher proposition. [Nicholas Strakon] (February 2018)

Quotation of the Day. In the New York Times, February 17: "This kid exhibited every single known red flag, from killing animals to having a cache of weapons to disruptive behavior to saying he wanted to be a school shooter. If this isn't a person who should have gotten someone's attention, I don't know who is. This was a multi-system failure." That's a quote from Howard Finkelstein, the Broward County public defender, whose office is representing Nikolas Cruz, the suspect in the mass shooting last Wednesday at a Florida high school.

Hard to know what Finkelstein is getting at here, except maybe that his client is innocent because he should have been locked up before he murdered people. Or something like that.

Of course, we all know Nikolas Cruz is just a victim of the system and should get a disability pension, not jail time. Wouldn't be surprised to find out that his actions were a consequence of 1) racism, 2) prejudice against weirdos, 3) gender bias, or 4) economic inequality. Or all four. What the authorities need to do is identify which member of the establishment "triggered" such behavior in the first place. Most likely somebody in the White House. [Edward Morrison Morley] (February 2018)

A valentine for America: Forget all the politics about the portraits of Obama and the missus. And the anti-white hate speech of the president's artist. Just forget all that. One fact about the two portraits.

They are cheap-looking and cartoonishly ridiculous. On the other hand, America deserves nothing better. [Ronn Neff] (February 2018)

Further reading: "Affirmative-Action Portraits," by
Gregory Hood, American Renaissance, February 13, 2018.

Even libertarians don't get it: When we say we are against, say, rap "music," we do not mean we want the state to get involved in it one way or the other. What we mean is that we want the people to reject it and with their free decisions make it less ubiquitous. We don't want a rap culture, and we want our fellow citizens, with their own decisions, to protect the country from having one.

When we say we are against Third World immigration, open-borders libertarians think we favor government control of immigration. They seem to think that every "for" or "against" has to involve the state.

That is not what we think. We do not mean we want the state to get involved in it one way or the other. What we mean is that we want the people to reject it and with their free decisions make it less ubiquitous. We don't want a Third World culture, and we want our fellow citizens, with their own decisions, to protect the country from having one. [Ronn Neff] (February 2018)

2017 archive.

Published in 2018 by WTM Enterprises.