Cornel West advocates abandoning the Democratic Party: Daily Bullshit, April 26-28, 2017

Updates

  1. April 27, 1:51 am:
    • Two photographs added under Homelessness
    • With the Republicans in power, net neutrality is under renewed attack.[1] (Net Neutrality)
    • The American Civil Liberties Union explains clearly what it thinks the judge meant in issuing a temporary injunction against Donald Trump’s order on sanctuary cities.[2] (Unauthorized Migration)
    • Barack Obama has apparently decided to take a page from the Clinton playbook, giving a speech to financiers for $400,000.[3] (Democrats)
  2. April 27, 12:43 pm:
    • The Left is making an ass of itself (as Bernie Sanders recognized[4]) again, this time over now-aborted plans for Ann Coulter to speak at the University of California, Berkeley.[5] (Political Correctness)
  3. April 28, 5:13 am:
    • Republicans are still having trouble coming up with the votes to pass a “repeal and replace” plan for Obamacare[6] and even if they do, their bill still appears dead on arrival at the Senate.[7]
    • Jonathan Haidt condemns the violence perpetrated by the Left against conservative speakers on campuses and argues for enforcement of policies that he says, in most cases, already exist.[8] (Political Correctness)
    • Fortunately, the aforementioned violence mostly did not materialize Thursday in Berkeley.[9] (Political Correctness)
    • Democrats think they can channel the anti-Trump resistance.[10]
    • Commentary further developed under Political Correctness.
    • Purdue University is buying the Kaplan chain of For-Profit Schools.[11]
    • Science has published a research article showing that social mobility has substantially decreased in correlation with increased income inequality.[12] (Social Inequality)
    • The Uber executive at the center of Waymo’s lawsuit alleging stolen intellectual property is stepping aside pending the case’s outcome.[13]
  4. April 28, 11:51 am:
    • An economist reduces the U.S. economy to two classes, one well-educated, tech-savvy, well-off, and politically influential, and the other none of the above and effectively condemned to poverty in service to the well-off.[14] (Social Inequality)
  5. April 29, 01:24 am:

Democrats

I admire and respect Cornel West for his heart, which I think is clearly in the right place. His is one of the very few voices on the political Left that seriously advocates for economic justice as indispensable in the quest for social justice. But it’s time to admit he’s a little slow on the uptake.

I realized that Barack Obama was not really a progressive even before he was elected and I have long been skeptical of the Democratic Party.[15] West continued to express confidence in Obama in his memoir[16] but, years later, eventually came to realize that Obama was a “counterfeit.”[17] Now West is recognizing that the Democratic Party is hopelessly in bed with neoliberals and corporations.[18]

Credit where credit is due: West does eventually get there. This is much, much further than most folks ever get. But he consistently expresses a misguided and wholly undeserved patience with people and institutions that lasts years until at some arbitrary point he suddenly sees what I have been seeing for a long time and loses that patience. And when he loses that patience he says some very astute things. My disappointment is with the patience he expresses in the first place.

Cornel West, “The Democrats delivered one thing in the past 100 days: disappointment,” Guardian, April 24, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/apr/24/democrats-delivered-one-thing-100-days-disappointment

Michael D. Shear, “Obama reportedly accepts $400,000 for Wall Street speech,” Minneapolis Star-Tribune, April 26, 2017, http://www.startribune.com/obama-reportedly-accepts-400-000-for-wall-street-speech/420487353/

Elana Schor, “Trump resistance tries to channel its anger,” Politico, April 27, 2017, http://www.politico.com/story/2017/04/27/trump-congress-democrats-237535


Homelessness

This encampment, near the Oakland Coliseum, has plenty of room for growth.
This encampment, near the Oakland Coliseum, has plenty of room for growth.
Possibly a better shot of the encampment in Berkeley I photographed earlier.
Possibly a better shot of the encampment in Berkeley I photographed earlier.

Net Neutrality

Probably a good general rule for emotion-laden and vaguely-defined terms such as “freedom” is that their use should be interrogated: “Free” for whom, to do what to whom?

Net neutrality is an outstanding example of the problem. According to Margaret McGill’s article,

“For decades before 2015, we had a free and open Internet,” the [FCC Chairman Ajit Pai] said in a speech at the Newseum in Washington co-hosted by FreedomWorks, a limited-government group. “Indeed, the free and open Internet developed and flourished under light-touch regulation. We were not living in some digital dystopia before the partisan imposition of a massive plan hatched in Washington saved all of us.”[19]

The insinuation that the Internet is not now “free and open” must be interrogated. Not “free and open” for whom? The answer, obviously, is the Internet service providers, whose “freedom” to throttle traffic to and from various sites was infringed.

Conversely, the present rules protect small, underfunded sites, including mine. This guarantees my (and other small sites’) freedom of speech (but not an audience). The rules changes being proposed would infringe that freedom. So an obvious question is why Pai values the “freedom” of rich corporations like Comcast over that of sites like my own. And the answer to that, alas, is probably entirely too obvious.

Margaret Harding McGill, “FCC chairman announces start of net neutrality pullback,” Politico, April 26, 2017, http://www.politico.com/story/2017/04/26/net-neutrality-pullback-fcc-237644


Unauthorized Migration

Cody Wofsy and Skadden Fellow, “Federal Court Calls Trump’s Threats to Defund Sanctuary Cities Unconstitutional,” American Civil Liberties Union, April 26, 2017, https://www.aclu.org/blog/speak-freely/federal-court-calls-trumps-threats-defund-sanctuary-cities-unconstitutional


Political Correctness

In the past, “political correctness” has been a dubious term. Free speech is not—and never has been—an unlimited right. Classically, you can’t yell “fire” in a crowded theater (unless there really is one). But more to the point, there is a point when speech shuts other voices down and I accept that it is possible to argue that Ann Coulter reaches that threshold.

However, the folks objecting to Coulter’s speech are supposed to be students (unfortunately, it appears that not all are[20]) in a university which is supposed to value critical inquiry (and which the University of California at Berkeley has arguably failed to do[21]). Audience members—whether students or not—in this setting are supposed to be able to do just what Bernie Sanders suggests, which is indeed to “ask Ann Coulter in a polite way questions which expose the weakness of her arguments.”[22]

While I have my own skepticism about nonviolent tactics,[23] to justify violence against speakers requires, in my view, that their speech poses an imminent physical danger to the audience or other human or nonhuman beings, a conclusion which is, I think, in this case, a few too many steps removed from any factual premises. Nor do I endorse violence as a method of protest—if employed, violence must be proportionate to the threat and strictly directed at and limited to averting that threat. (Note that this formulation in no way immunizes the politically or economically powerful from whatever means are necessary to avert the lethal or injurious consequences of social inequality.)

So I absolutely agree with Jonathan Haidt,[24] Sanders,[25] and Peter Van Buren[26] that protesters absolutely should not resort to violence to suppress speakers they disagree with.

[P]ersons who believe that in Trump’s America violence to silence speech they do not agree with is justified . . . probably are unaware their tactics were once used to silence civil-rights marchers, anti-war protesters, abortion-rights advocates, and the women’s movement. Because the law that now shames Berkeley and NYU comes from earlier efforts to protect those groups’ right to speak.[27]

We have reached a point with the Left where there is one correct way of thinking and if you commit any heresy against this allegedly correct way of thinking or even abstain from condemning such heresy, you are a fascist subject to violence[28] (which fortunately mostly did not materialize in Berkeley on Thursday[29]). Which is to say that the Left has itself become fascist.

Daniel Marans, “Bernie Sanders Condemns Threats Against Ann Coulter Speech At Berkeley,” Huffington Post, April 22, 2017, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/bernie-sanders-ann-coulter-berkeley_us_58fb7006e4b00fa7de14bc3d

Jonathan H. Adler, “Bernie Sanders defends Ann Coulter’s right to speak,” Washington Post, April 23, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2017/04/23/bernie-sanders-defends-ann-coulters-right-to-speak/

Jonathan Haidt, “Intimidation Is the New Normal on Campus,” Chronicle of Higher Education, April 26, 2017, http://www.chronicle.com/article/Intimidation-Is-the-Newmal/239890

Chris Quintana, “At Berkeley, a Speaker’s Cancellation Spurs New Battles Over Free Speech,” Chronicle of Higher Education, April 27, 2017, http://www.chronicle.com/article/At-Berkeley-a-Speakers/239915

Paige St. John, Veronica Rocha, and Corina Knoll, “Anticipated showdown at UC Berkeley over Ann Coulter invitation is more of a shouting match than a melee,” Los Angeles Times, April 27, 2017, http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-berkeley-ann-coulter-protests-20170427-story.html

Peter Van Buren, “The Mob Vetoes Ann Coulter,” American Conservative, April 27, 2017, http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/__trashed-2/


Obamacare

Republicans are trying to be mean, by cutting coverage, and nice, by not cutting coverage, at the same time. It might be possible to resolve a paradox, but this looks like a contradiction and, if so, until they agree on one course of action—which they probably can’t do—the “repeal and replace” effort is almost certainly doomed.

Seung Min Kim and Burgess Everett, “GOP senators not so keen on House’s Obamacare repeal,” Politico, April 27, 2017, http://www.politico.com/story/2017/04/27/senate-republicans-obamacare-repeal-237656

Scott Wong, “Republicans won’t vote on ObamaCare repeal bill this week,” Hill, April 27, 2017, http://thehill.com/homenews/house/331018-republicans-wont-vote-on-obamacare-repeal-bill-this-week


For-Profit Schools

Douglas Belkin and Melissa Korn, “Purdue University to Acquire Kaplan University,” Wall Street Journal, April 27, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/purdue-university-to-acquire-kaplan-university-1493304763

Andy Thomason, “Purdue U. Buys Mega For-Profit Kaplan U., Plans to Turn It Into a ‘Public University,’” Chronicle of Higher Education, April 27, 2017, http://www.chronicle.com/blogs/ticker/purdue-u-is-expected-to-buy-mega-for-profit-kaplan-u-turn-it-into-a-public-university/118020


Social Inequality

Raj Chetty et al., “The fading American dream: Trends in absolute income mobility since 1940,” Science 28 (April, 2017): 398-406, doi:10.1126/science.aal4617

Gillian B. White, “Escaping Poverty Requires Almost 20 Years With Nearly Nothing Going Wrong,” review of The Vanishing Middle Class: Prejudice and Power in a Dual Economy, by Peter Temin, CityLab, April 28, 2017, https://www.citylab.com/work/2017/04/escaping-poverty-requires-almost-20-years-with-nearly-nothing-going-wrong/524727/


Uber

Michael Liedtke, “Uber self-driving car exec steps aside during Google lawsuit,” Minneapolis Star-Tribune, April 27, 2017, http://www.startribune.com/uber-self-driving-car-exec-steps-aside-during-google-lawsuit/420676163/


  1. [1]Margaret Harding McGill, “FCC chairman announces start of net neutrality pullback,” Politico, April 26, 2017, http://www.politico.com/story/2017/04/26/net-neutrality-pullback-fcc-237644
  2. [2]Cody Wofsy and Skadden Fellow, “Federal Court Calls Trump’s Threats to Defund Sanctuary Cities Unconstitutional,” American Civil Liberties Union, April 26, 2017, https://www.aclu.org/blog/speak-freely/federal-court-calls-trumps-threats-defund-sanctuary-cities-unconstitutional
  3. [3]Michael D. Shear, “Obama reportedly accepts $400,000 for Wall Street speech,” Minneapolis Star-Tribune, April 26, 2017, http://www.startribune.com/obama-reportedly-accepts-400-000-for-wall-street-speech/420487353/
  4. [4]Jonathan H. Adler, “Bernie Sanders defends Ann Coulter’s right to speak,” Washington Post, April 23, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2017/04/23/bernie-sanders-defends-ann-coulters-right-to-speak/; Daniel Marans, “Bernie Sanders Condemns Threats Against Ann Coulter Speech At Berkeley,” Huffington Post, April 22, 2017, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/bernie-sanders-ann-coulter-berkeley_us_58fb7006e4b00fa7de14bc3d
  5. [5]Chris Quintana, “At Berkeley, a Speaker’s Cancellation Spurs New Battles Over Free Speech,” Chronicle of Higher Education, April 27, 2017, http://www.chronicle.com/article/At-Berkeley-a-Speakers/239915; Peter Van Buren, “The Mob Vetoes Ann Coulter,” American Conservative, April 27, 2017, http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/__trashed-2/
  6. [6]Scott Wong, “Republicans won’t vote on ObamaCare repeal bill this week,” Hill, April 27, 2017, http://thehill.com/homenews/house/331018-republicans-wont-vote-on-obamacare-repeal-bill-this-week
  7. [7]Seung Min Kim and Burgess Everett, “GOP senators not so keen on House’s Obamacare repeal,” Politico, April 27, 2017, http://www.politico.com/story/2017/04/27/senate-republicans-obamacare-repeal-237656
  8. [8]Jonathan Haidt, “Intimidation Is the New Normal on Campus,” Chronicle of Higher Education, April 26, 2017, http://www.chronicle.com/article/Intimidation-Is-the-Newmal/239890
  9. [9]Paige St. John, Veronica Rocha, and Corina Knoll, “Anticipated showdown at UC Berkeley over Ann Coulter invitation is more of a shouting match than a melee,” Los Angeles Times, April 27, 2017, http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-berkeley-ann-coulter-protests-20170427-story.html
  10. [10]Elana Schor, “Trump resistance tries to channel its anger,” Politico, April 27, 2017, http://www.politico.com/story/2017/04/27/trump-congress-democrats-237535
  11. [11]Douglas Belkin and Melissa Korn, “Purdue University to Acquire Kaplan University,” Wall Street Journal, April 27, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/purdue-university-to-acquire-kaplan-university-1493304763; Andy Thomason, “Purdue U. Buys Mega For-Profit Kaplan U., Plans to Turn It Into a ‘Public University,’” Chronicle of Higher Education, April 27, 2017, http://www.chronicle.com/blogs/ticker/purdue-u-is-expected-to-buy-mega-for-profit-kaplan-u-turn-it-into-a-public-university/118020
  12. [12]Raj Chetty et al., “The fading American dream: Trends in absolute income mobility since 1940,” Science 28 (April, 2017): 398-406, doi:10.1126/science.aal4617
  13. [13]Michael Liedtke, “Uber self-driving car exec steps aside during Google lawsuit,” Minneapolis Star-Tribune, April 27, 2017, http://www.startribune.com/uber-self-driving-car-exec-steps-aside-during-google-lawsuit/420676163/
  14. [14]Gillian B. White, “Escaping Poverty Requires Almost 20 Years With Nearly Nothing Going Wrong,” review of The Vanishing Middle Class: Prejudice and Power in a Dual Economy, by Peter Temin, CityLab, April 28, 2017, https://www.citylab.com/work/2017/04/escaping-poverty-requires-almost-20-years-with-nearly-nothing-going-wrong/524727/
  15. [15]David Benfell, “No way,” Not Housebroken, July 9, 2008, https://disunitedstates.org/?p=1916
  16. [16]Cornel West, with David Ritz, Living and Loving Out Loud (Carlsbad, CA: Smiley, 2009).
  17. [17]Thomas Frank, “Cornel West: ‘He posed as a progressive and turned out to be counterfeit. We ended up with a Wall Street presidency, a drone presidency’,” Salon, August 24, 2014, http://www.salon.com/2014/08/24/cornel_west_he_posed_as_a_progressive_and_turned_out_to_be_counterfeit_we_ended_up_with_a_wall_street_presidency_a_drone_presidency/
  18. [18]Cornel West, “The Democrats delivered one thing in the past 100 days: disappointment,” Guardian, April 24, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/apr/24/democrats-delivered-one-thing-100-days-disappointment
  19. [19]Margaret Harding McGill, “FCC chairman announces start of net neutrality pullback,” Politico, April 26, 2017, http://www.politico.com/story/2017/04/26/net-neutrality-pullback-fcc-237644
  20. [20]Jonathan Haidt, “Intimidation Is the New Normal on Campus,” Chronicle of Higher Education, April 26, 2017, http://www.chronicle.com/article/Intimidation-Is-the-Newmal/239890; Chris Quintana, “At Berkeley, a Speaker’s Cancellation Spurs New Battles Over Free Speech,” Chronicle of Higher Education, April 27, 2017, http://www.chronicle.com/article/At-Berkeley-a-Speakers/239915
  21. [21]Peter Van Buren, “The Mob Vetoes Ann Coulter,” American Conservative, April 27, 2017, http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/__trashed-2/
  22. [22]Bernie Sanders, quoted in Daniel Marans, “Bernie Sanders Condemns Threats Against Ann Coulter Speech At Berkeley,” Huffington Post, April 22, 2017, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/bernie-sanders-ann-coulter-berkeley_us_58fb7006e4b00fa7de14bc3d
  23. [23]David Benfell, “Change For The Improbable: Change For Human and Non-Human Survival,” December 17, 2013, https://parts-unknown.org/drupal7/journal/2013/09/27/change-improbable-change-human-and-non-human-survival; David Benfell, “It’s time to shut up about nonviolence,” Not Housebroken, April 29, 2015, https://disunitedstates.org/?p=7488; also see Steven Best and Anthony J. Nocella II, eds., Terrorists or Freedom Fighters? Reflections on the Liberation of Animals, (New York: Lantern, 2004); Benjamin Ginsberg, “Why Violence Works,” Chronicle of Higher Education, August 12, 2013, http://chronicle.com/article/Why-Violence-Works/140951/.
  24. [24]Jonathan Haidt, “Intimidation Is the New Normal on Campus,” Chronicle of Higher Education, April 26, 2017, http://www.chronicle.com/article/Intimidation-Is-the-Newmal/239890
  25. [25]Jonathan H. Adler, “Bernie Sanders defends Ann Coulter’s right to speak,” Washington Post, April 23, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2017/04/23/bernie-sanders-defends-ann-coulters-right-to-speak/
  26. [26]Peter Van Buren, “The Mob Vetoes Ann Coulter,” American Conservative, April 27, 2017, http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/__trashed-2/
  27. [27]Peter Van Buren, “The Mob Vetoes Ann Coulter,” American Conservative, April 27, 2017, http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/__trashed-2/
  28. [28]Jonathan Haidt, “Intimidation Is the New Normal on Campus,” Chronicle of Higher Education, April 26, 2017, http://www.chronicle.com/article/Intimidation-Is-the-Newmal/239890
  29. [29]Paige St. John, Veronica Rocha, and Corina Knoll, “Anticipated showdown at UC Berkeley over Ann Coulter invitation is more of a shouting match than a melee,” Los Angeles Times, April 27, 2017, http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-berkeley-ann-coulter-protests-20170427-story.html

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