Monday, May 23, 2016

Should Never Trump People Get Over It?



By Mona Charen
Monday, May 23, 2016

Washington State’s Republican party just defied the stampede toward “unity.” Meeting over the weekend, they awarded 40 of the state’s 41 delegates to Ted Cruz. Washington’s Republicans have refused to be sheep.

The past few days have featured hectoring demands of Never Trump people to “get over it.” These have come not just from the more bullying precincts of Trump fandom, as in “Get on the Trump train or get run over,” but also from party regulars and office holders suggesting that failure to endorse Trump now is a kind of stubborn self-indulgence. “While you sit out, Hillary gets elected,” huffed one of my critics, for example.

Yes, if there is a binary choice (not completely clear as of this writing) between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, it is possible that voters in swing states who decline to support Trump may be assisting Clinton. This is not a secret. Some Never Trump voters may have to live with that miserable outcome rather than violate their consciences by voting for an authoritarian ignoramus.

The genuflection to party loyalty that has spread like a rash in the past two weeks has more of the quality of a salute than a clear evaluation of the stakes. Some of Trump’s supporters are exulting at recent polls showing a slight Trump lead, while scorning those who advised as recently as a few weeks ago that a Trump nomination could lead the Republican party to a Goldwater-type debacle. But one of the points the Never Trump people have stressed is that there were two equally painful possible outcomes of a Trump nomination: He loses or he wins.

The Democrats remain the majority party in presidential contests, having won five of the past six popular votes. They begin with an average 247 to 196 Electoral Collage advantage. That said, Hillary Clinton may well be the only major political figure in the country who could possibly lose a general election to Donald Trump. In fact, as two political scientists argue in the New York Times, Bernie Sanders’s support seems to come chiefly not from socialist young people but from “disaffected white men.” If white men turn out in droves for Trump in the general, it might affect the outcome. On the third hand, an analysis by Political Machination suggests that while Trump did bring out some new voters in the primaries, the newly minted Trump Republicans were too few in the states examined to make up the 2012 Romney deficit.

The Never Trump commitment is not a matter of being excessively fastidious or too good for this world. Recognizing the imperfection of politics and of life is part of being a grown up.

Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump would do damage to the nation. Both have demonstrated low character, an embrace of appalling policies (in some cases, the same policies!), and a capacity for dishonesty that rocks the Richter scale. But he is arguably even more dangerous than she. Both will abuse power and pursue execrable ends, but . . .

If Hillary Clinton is president, a united Republican party will oppose her. Assuming Republican control of the House, she will not be able to pass a single piece of liberal legislation. She may attempt — as she has promised on the campaign trail — to rule by executive order in the manner of Obama. If she does, there will be pushback by Republicans. Just this month, a federal judge ruled in favor of the House of Representatives in its suit against Obama’s use of executive orders in the implementation of Obamacare. If she nominates terrible judges to the federal courts, a Republican Senate (assuming Republicans hold the Senate) could decline to confirm. If she attempts to reprise or even exceed the many arrogations of power Obama has attempted, Republicans will block her as best they can. It will be ugly, and Republicans will not always be successful.

If Donald Trump is president, by contrast, there will be no united opposition among Republicans. As we’ve seen in the past few weeks, the urge to bend the knee is very strong. How much more intense will it be if he sits in the Oval Office? Republicans will actively assist President Trump in undermining conservatism. From entitlements to trade to NATO to nuclear proliferation to universal health care to abortion, President Trump will get a free hand. He thus has it within his power to sabotage the whole conservative enterprise.

So remaining Never Trump is not disloyal — it’s the only way to safeguard conservative principles.

The Iran Deal Wasn’t About Nukes At All



By Tom Nichols
Monday, May 23, 2016

Remember the Iran deal? Of course you do. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was one of the greatest diplomatic agreements of our time, a last-ditch effort to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear bomb and thus avert inevitable military action by the United States and its allies. Hard negotiations provided a verifiable inspections plan that would keep Iran walking the straight and narrow for at least a decade, if not longer. The media, of course, served only as the impartial platform for analysis and debate.

Anyone who doubted this narrative or raised almost any objections to the deal was just a hater, maybe even a racist with a personal grudge against Barack Obama. (Also against the deal, of course: Jews with divided loyalties.) After all, the experts—non-partisan, of course—assured us that everything was in order.

This was all nonsense. What really happened was that the White House put out a set of talking points, not all of them true or accurate, to a trusted circle of journalists and advocacy groups. Those groups worked with experts in other groups, who then supported those talking points in media already friendly to the White House narrative. Asked for comment, the White House agreed with the experts it had primed, then fed more talking points back into the loop.

We no longer have to speculate about this. As anyone paying attention now knows, Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes—it’s so hard to type those words—couldn’t help but take a victory lap in front of The New York Times. Rhodes named names and organizations, crowing that the White House had created “an echo chamber” mainly composed of journalists who are “27 years old and…literally know nothing.”

Follow the Money, Indeed

Critics of the Rhodes story have pushed back, in some cases with justification. Rhodes’s shot at Jeffery Goldberg of The Atlantic, for example, was inexplicable and gratuitous; Goldberg is neither 27 nor a greenhorn. On the other hand, Rhodes also named Al-Monitor’s Laura Rozen, to absolutely no one’s surprise. As Mark Hemingway has noted, “Rozen’s slavish devotion to Obama’s Iran policy has been something to behold,” and Rhodes naming her seems almost beside the point now.

Iran deal defenders claim this is all a nothingburger. Rhodes never had that much influence, they say, and no one really adopted his talking points. The experts he claims to have pulled along on the deal were impartial analysts who liked the JCPOA anyway. After all, it’s not like anyone was spreading money around; indeed, the accusation of being on the take was mostly aimed at the deal’s opponents, who ostensibly stood to benefit from another war in the Middle East.

Except there was plenty of money out there. The Ploughshares Fund has been completely upfront about the cash it dumped on other groups before and during the Iran deal debate. Let’s leave aside some of the arms-control experts, since I think it’s fair to say there is no circumstance in which those organizations would oppose a nuclear deal between Obama’s White House and the Iranians. (Whether they sugar-coated aspects of the deal is another matter, but we’ll get back to that.)

What should raise more eyebrows was that Ploughshares didn’t limit its largess to like-minded groups about nuclear weapons (the issue to which Ploughshares, in theory, is dedicated). Ploughshares and its chairman, Joe Cirincione, also dropped some serious coin on National Public Radio, to the tune of some $700,000 since 2005, with grants since 2010—spoiler alert—specifically mentioning Iran. NPR then had Cirincione on to explain the awesomeness of the nuclear deal, at least once forgetting to mention he’d given them several hundred thousand dollars.

Later, Cirinicione hammered home his totally non-partisan and completely independent expert view in a Huffington Post article, in moment replete with both chutzpah and irony.

Neoconservatives are furious that their efforts to trick the country into another unnecessary war in the Middle East failed. They spent tens of millions of dollars in an orchestrated campaign to kill diplomacy with Iran. They lost. The nuclear agreement with Iran is in place and working. It has prevented an Iranian bomb and prevented a new war.

“They can’t stand it,” Cirinicione mugged, as though Iran deal opponents had lost a vote for class president. (Rhodes put it differently: “We drove them crazy.”) Cirincione went on like that, but you get the idea.

We’re Spending Money for No Reason At All

The idea that the Obama administration was ever going to go to war over the Iranian nuclear program is ridiculous, but it was a central talking point during the fight over the JCPOA. To believe Obama would have used force against Iran would have represented either incredible credulity, or revealed a conscious effort to participate in a campaign meant to create an echo chamber, in which…

Oh.

As if that wasn’t enough of a margin of safety, Ploughshares shot some money over to that well-known group of physicists and nuclear strategists, J Street. Of course, J Street isn’t an arms-control group. It’s a political organization, in theory dedicated to greater Israeli security but in reality a progressive advocate for any number of policies which are inimical to Israeli interests.

This isn’t the place to rehash J Street’s left-wing record, which speaks for itself. But why was Ploughshares giving money—over a half million dollars—to a political advocacy group? Good question. J Street’s response was a vow that it took the money “to advance the nuclear agreement with Iran out of the belief that this is an important agreement which contributes mightily to Israel’s security.”

Ploughshares and everyone else involved in this hackery quickly responded by promising that their motives were only of the purest public interest. In a laugh-out-loud moment, Ploughshares spokeswoman Jennifer Abrahamson actually said that dropping a pile of money on NPR “does not influence the editorial content of their coverage in any way, nor would we want it to.” That’s because, remember, Ploughshares is non-partisan: just because Cirincione has said that “President Obama’s political opponents try to block everything he does,” that doesn’t make him a partisan.

He said that on NPR, by the way.

What’s the Real Game Here?

The smug admissions by Rhodes and others that the “echo chamber” was real and did its job are grating. But to focus on Rhodes and Cirincione spiking the football is to miss a more important question: Why did everyone go to such lengths over a deal that was supposed to be so good?

Rhodes, of course, says it’s because everyone but the White House and its friends were too stupid to understand how smart the deal was. The real answer, however, is as unsettling as it is simple: selling the deal required subterfuge and misdirection because the Iran deal was never about nuclear weapons.

The White House and its supporters were set on two goals, one of them trivial, the other terrifying. The trivial objective was to give a failed presidency at least one foreign policy legacy item. That was to be expected, since the Obama administration, in permanent campaign mode since the day the president took office, has presided over the worst American foreign policy in the modern era.

The more stomach-churning objective is that the administration, as it turned out, really believed in its pledges to get America out of the Middle East, and decided early on that the only way to do this was to replace the United States in the region with a duumvirate of Russia and Iran. Here, the JCPOA was part of a huge gamble to transform the region, with nuclear weapons the secondary rather than primary issue. That’s why J Street and others were involved: they were far less concerned with notional Iranian nuclear weapons than they were with advancing President Obama’s Middle East legacy—without having to admit what it was.

Many of us who opposed the Iran deal suspected this was going on, but we could only reconstruct evidence for that suspicion indirectly. (One analyst who got it right early: Mike Doran, previously of the Bush 43 National Security Countil and the Brookings Institution, and now at the Hudson Institute.) But then Rhodes shot his mouth off to The New York Times, thus saving the rest of us any further detective work.

This Wasn’t About Nukes At All

Knowing that Rhodes stage-managed the message, then gave it to allies with checks to write—including to the media—renders any other debate on the details of the JCPOA pointless. This is where these revelations undermined “expert” views: the experts were baited into arguing over details that were, in the main, irrelevant.

It makes no difference if this or that provision of the deal is ironclad, because the White House never had an intention of enforcing any of it. The JCPOA wasn’t a deal to stop a nuclear weapon, it was part of a plan to further a foreign policy agenda with which very few Americans would agree if it were stated to them clearly and unequivocally.

For those of us who thought the Iran deal didn’t pass the sniff test from the start, it is bitter consolation that all this is coming out now. Sometimes being right isn’t much of a comfort, and this is one of those times. But there’s a far more damaging problem in all this: not only has the United States burned a lot of its credibility in this farce, but so have a fair number of journalists and experts.

I don’t expect arms-control groups not to take money from other groups. If the Arms Control Association is getting a grant from Ploughshares, good on them; that’s what they’re supposed to do. But when the White House’s point man on the deal brags about creating an echo chamber, then names a group that turns out to be funding not only the sources of expert advice but a major journalistic outlet, that damages everyone in the debate.

We’re Better than You So We Can Break the Rules

As Rhodes himself admitted, another administration might be able to make the same play:

When…asked whether the prospect of this same kind of far-reaching spin campaign being run by a different administration is something that scares him, he admitted that it does. ‘I mean, I’d prefer a sober, reasoned public debate, after which members of Congress reflect and take a vote,’ he said, shrugging. ‘But that’s impossible.’

Donald Trump, take note. (Hillary Clinton already knows how to do this, and didn’t need any additional encouragement.)

In this, Rhodes and his minions are the living embodiment of the true motto of the Obama administration: Quod licet Iovi, non licet bovi, or “What is permissible for the gods is not allowed for cattle.” You little people in the next administration shouldn’t try what Obama and Rhodes and their enablers did; that’s only for special and virtuous people like…well, like Obama and Rhodes and their enablers.

I opposed the Iran deal because I could see, as others did ahead of me, that this was an exercise in flawed negotiation that violated almost every basic rule of Diplomacy 101. But I am especially pained by the role of experts here, because—as incredible as this will seem—I largely agree with the goals of organizations like Ploughshares.

I think we have too many nuclear weapons. (I don’t see anyone getting to zero, but we can get to “very low.”) I think the United States is too reliant on outdated notions of nuclear deterrence. As I have argued at in print and at length, I believe our nuclear strategy is unrealistic and I believe using nuclear weapons is fundamentally immoral.

I have been on the same side of these experts in many debates. But after the Iran deal, this is one time I wish some of the people on my side weren’t on my side.

In Defense of the Tribe



By Brian Stewart
Monday, May 23, 2016

Your humble servant recently came across a report showing that Israel scores highly in surveys of human happiness. The World Happiness Report 2016 Update ranks Israel 11th in the world out of 158 countries. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Life Satisfaction Index rates Israel fifth out of 36 countries — ahead of many other advanced democracies.

At first blush, these data may seem unexpected, since Israel lives under the constant threat of terrorist violence. By definition, such violence does not discriminate between military and civilian targets, and strikes its victims at random. Yet it is partially because of this danger (not in spite of it) that citizens of the Jewish state exhibit remarkable degrees of personal fulfillment. The stresses of war and terror often breed social unity. Little wonder that 83 percent of Israel’s Jewish citizens consider their nationality “significant” to their identity.

Milan Kundera once defined a small nation as “one whose very existence may be put in question at any moment; a small nation can disappear, and it knows it.” Since its inception, Israel has faced aggressive neighbors bent on its destruction — a near-constant reminder of its precarious status in the order of nations. Israelis have responded to existential danger by banding together as if they belonged to a vast kibbutz settlement. They have, in other words, taken quite literally the ancient Israelite claim to be people of the tribe.

The phenomenon of tribal solidarity isn’t confined to Jews. It is the subject of Sebastian Junger’s enthralling new book, Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging. Junger offers a richly researched work of history, psychology, and anthropology to explore the deep appeal of the tribal culture throughout history. The result is a tour de force that should be read by anyone interested in the human condition.

Junger previously served as a war correspondent for Vanity Fair, embedding for long stretches at remote American outposts in Afghanistan’s frightful Korengal valley. This experience may help explain his interest in the intimate bonds that define tribal societies as well as the despair that can come from being wrenched out of a situation that makes those bonds necessary.

Tribe aptly opens with Benjamin Franklin’s observation, decades before the American Revolution, that more than a few English settlers were “escaping into the woods” to join Indian society. Doctor Franklin noticed that emigration seemed to go from the civilized to the tribal, but rarely the other way around. White captives of the American Indians, for instance, often did not wish to be repatriated to colonial society. At this distance, it is simply astonishing that so many frontiersmen would have cast off the relative comforts of civilization in favor an “empire wilderness” rife with Stone Age tribes that, as Junger notes, “had barely changed in 15,000 years.”

The small but significant flow of white men — they were mostly men — into the tree-line sat uncomfortably with those who stayed behind. Without indulging the modern temptation to romanticize what was a blood-soaked way of life, Junger hazards an explanation for the appeal of tribal culture. Western society was a diverse and dynamic but deeply alienating place. (Plus ça change…) This stood in stark contrast to native life, which was essentially classless and egalitarian. The “intensely communal nature of an Indian tribe” provided a high degree of autonomy — as long as it didn’t threaten the defense of the tribe, which was punishable by death — as well as a sense of belonging.

“The question for Western society isn’t so much why tribal life might be so appealing — it seems obvious on the face of it — but why Western society is so unappealing.” Junger is making a provocative point, but he is no provocateur. He swiftly justifies this jarring idea:

On a material level it is clearly more comfortable and protected from the hardships of the natural world. But as societies become more affluent they tend to require more, rather than less, time and commitment by the individual, and it’s possible that many people feel that affluence and safety simply aren’t a good trade for freedom.

If there is any doubt on this point, consider the alarming rates of PTSD among our warrior class, and the desire among many of them to return to war — a subject on which Junger has been at the leading edge of the public discussion. When combat vets return home, the alienation and aimlessness of modern society aggravates their psychological traumas and prompts them to yearn for the brotherhood of combat. It’s not for nothing that a recent book on post-traumatic stress is entitled The Evil Hours.

War is hell, so this scourge of loneliness may seem the inevitable price for those who fight in them. The second half of Tribe insists that this impression is gravely mistaken. “Studies from around the world show that recovery from war is heavily influenced by the society one belongs to,” Junger observes. Iroquois warriors, for instance, did not have to contend with much alienation because the line between warfare and normal Indian society was vanishingly thin. This is not to deny that the Iroquois were traumatized by combat, but it was generally acute PTSD, limited in duration and distress. Their trauma was ameliorated by the fact that the trauma was shared by the entire tribe.

Interestingly, Junger identifies the largely homogeneous — and happy — state of Israel as “arguably the only modern country that retains sufficient sense of community to mitigate the effects of combat on a mass scale.” The Israeli Defense Forces — which are culled from roughly half of the population — have by some measures a PTSD rate as low as 1 percent. Israel, as we have seen, is a polity steeped in national purpose and patriotism, and this certainly helps explain that young Israelis whose fathers have been casualties of war experience less depression and anxiety than those who lose their fathers to accidents.

Even America’s World War II generation did not suffer the rates of trauma that are common today. Of course, a broad swathe of American society served under arms in a conscript army that at its peak, together with the Navy and Marines, fielded a force 12 million strong. It was also crucial that the GI generation came home to a remarkably cohesive society that had shared in and sympathized with the sacrifices that had been made.

Contemporary America is a considerably less consolidated society than it used to be. Cultural diffusion and economic stratification have increased the isolation felt by those who have borne the heat and burden of battle. I won’t soon forget the photograph shown to me upon my arrival in basic training by a particularly hard-bitten drill sergeant. It captured a graffito scribbled on a wall in Ramadi, Iraq, that read: “America is not at war. The Marine Corps is at war. America is at the mall.”

Multiple studies demonstrate that “a person’s chance of getting chronic PTSD is in great part a function of their experiences before going to war.” The relationship between combat and trauma seems to be a murky one. For instance, “combat veterans are, statistically, no more likely to kill themselves than veterans who were never under fire.” (Even a significant number of Peace Corps volunteers report suffering severe depression after their return home, especially if their host country was in a state of emergency when they did.) In Junger’s telling, particular burdens endured by disadvantaged Americans — from a poor educational background to chaotic family life — can make a candidate especially susceptible to PTSD. Indeed, these risk factors “are nearly as predictive of PTSD as the severity of the trauma itself.”

The decline of social order and solidarity has contributed to a loss of what researchers call “social resilience.” This has simultaneously supplied more potential candidates for PTSD and impaired society’s ability to help them recover. The United States must place a premium on boosting its levels of social resilience. Americans should no longer be content to simply thank veterans for their service; sporting events are not places of healing. Nor should they seek to outsource the responsibility to the federal government. The solution lies closer to home, in the mediating institutions of civil society — from families to churches to community and professional associations.

First, ex-combatants shouldn’t be regarded, or encouraged to regard themselves, as victims. America is an affluent country, Junger writes, that can afford to perpetually care for a victim class of veterans dependent on government largesse, “but the vets can’t.” They have generally performed exemplary service for which they should be honored, and they must know that their service is not over.

Next, veterans (like most social animals) depend upon a sense of purpose that begins with a job and a position in society. Here the “hire vets” initiatives and retraining programs are necessary but insufficient. The traditional means of securing social resilience has been egalitarian social provision. Individualist America may blanch at that notion, but it should at least act to build a more open economy and inclusive culture where individuals can reliably advance by merit and develop social capital.

And last, a revival of national cohesion is needed if we are to arrest the full savagery of battlefield trauma. This will require what Edmund Burke called “a revolution in sentiments, manners and moral opinions.” One clue about how to achieve this can be found in the early pages of Tribe, when Junger tells an affecting anecdote about his father. Not long after the end of the Vietnam War, the author had received a Selective Service registration form in the mail, in case the United States government ever needed to conscript him into the military. When he announced that, if drafted, he would refuse to serve on political grounds, his father’s reaction caught him off guard. Although sternly opposed to the war in Indochina, Junger’s father insisted that American soldiers had “saved the world” from fascism during World War II and many never came home.

“‘You don’t owe your country nothing,’ I remember him telling me. ‘You owe it something, and depending on what happens, you might owe it your life.’” This did not oblige anyone to enlist in an unjust war — “in his opinion, protesting an immoral war was just as honorable and necessary as fighting a moral one” — but it did mean that the country had just claims on its citizens, and refusing to sign a registration form constituted a dereliction of duty.

This passage calls to mind John Updike’s book of memoirs, Self-Consciousness, in which he expresses his contempt for the counterculture that allowed opposition to the Vietnam War to become an indictment of American society writ large. In the poignant chapter “On Not Being a Dove,” Updike writes that his “undovishness” was a product of his “battered and vestigial but unsurrendered” faith in God and country. “I was grateful to be exempted from the dirty, dreary business of maintaining the overarching order, and felt that a silent non-protest was the least I in gratitude owed those who were not exempted.”

In this age of social and economic fragmentation, many of our disadvantaged fellow citizens have begun to chafe against an elite class that often behaves as if it were exempted from the national compact. Nobody should be surprised if the ranks of disaffected citizens – not least those who have borne arms in our name and in our defense — ultimately decide that the sensibility of the tribe is superior to our own.

Global Warmists Admit They’re Really Book Burners



By Robert Tracinski
Monday, May 23, 2016

The Portland Public Schools board is going to need to buy some carbon offsets to compensate for its new book-burning campaign.

Well, okay, it’s not actually planning to burn the books, so it’s in the clear on the emissions. Perhaps it will use a more ecologically sensitive solution like composting. Either way, the politically incorrect books are on the way out.

Last week, the Portland, Oregon, public schools board voted to “abandon the use of any adopted text material that is found to express doubt about the severity of the climate crisis or its root in human activities.”

This is the party of “science” at work. Because the rigorous suppression of doubt and skepticism is the essence of a good science education, right?

But don’t worry, Jonathan Chait is on top of this and informs us that it’s all just in the imaginations of “anti-science conservatives” because “the story does not actually describe a book ban. It describes a ban on ‘textbooks and other teaching materials that deny climate change exists or cast doubt on whether humans are to blame.'” Which is a totally different thing, somehow.

In other news, Chait is strongly against political correctness when it targets people like him. The rest of us are fair game.

Actually, the story is even worse than what conservative news sites have reported. It’s not just that Portland banished from its schools any active denial of catastrophic, man-made global warming; it’s that they banished any language that implies the smallest amount of doubt. Bill Bigelow, a former teacher now working for the activist group that pushed this resolution, explained its rationale in testimony to the school board:

Bigelow said PPS’ science textbooks are littered with words like ‘might,’ ‘may,’ and ‘could’ when talking about climate change. ‘Carbon dioxide emissions from motor vehicles, power plants and other sources, may contribute to global warming,’ he quotes Physical Science published by Pearson as saying. ‘This is a section that could be written by the Exxon public relations group and it’s being taught in Portland schools.’

It reminds me of the old dictum attributed to Lenin: first you target the counter-revolutionaries, and then you target the insufficiently enthusiastic. This is no longer about suppressing us global warming “deniers.” It’s about erecting the global warming catechism as a dogma that cannot be given anything short of enthusiastic consent. You have to embrace it the way you love Big Brother.

But it gets worse. Bigelow is the co-author, conveniently, of his own alternative global warming textbook, “A People’s Curriculum for the Earth,” which lays out a course in “climate justice.” What does that mean? Another report from a site called Inquistr (which sounds like The Quibbler, looks like BuzzFeed, and reads like Pravda) explains:

Climate justice is a social justice issue that frames climate change not in physical or environmental terms, but as a social, ethical and political issue. Climate justice is based on the idea that climate change has a disproportionate effect on low-income and minority communities, which will now be taught to students in the Portland Public School system.

So this is an attempt to use global warming as a delivery device for old-fashioned Marxism, and it will indeed now be Portland public school policy. The school board resolution mandates the adoption of “curriculum and educational opportunities that address climate change and climate justice in all Portland Public Schools.”

I supposed we should at least be happy that the cards are on the table. For years, some of us have described the promoters of the global warming hysteria as “watermelons”: green on the outside, red on the inside. It’s nice to hear them confirm that “climate” is no longer to be thought of in “physical” — i.e., scientific — terms but is really a “political issue.” That is what we’ve been saying all along.

But that leads me to the most ominous part of the story: that the school board’s resolution was adopted unanimously (at a sparsely attended meeting that feels a bit like an extended “Portlandia” sketch). There was not a single person who saw anything wrong with it and was willing to say so. On the school board. And judging from Chait’s reaction, the whole of the “pro-science” left will march along happily with this bit of Lysenkoism.

Explaining why all of this is wrong and deeply unscientific almost seems to be beside the point, so I’ll leave the job of rebuttal to two of my heroes. Carl Sagan:

The suppression of uncomfortable ideas may be common in religion or in politics, but it is not the path to knowledge, and there is no place for it in the endeavor of science.


Goose-stepping morons such as yourself should try reading books instead of burning them.

This used to be not just basic scientific ethics, but also basic liberalism, back when there was still such a thing as liberalism.

The only thing that’s really interesting about this story is the way the “science” mask is coming off. If the Left really wanted to guard its reputation jealously as the Party of Science, it wouldn’t do this. It’s too blatantly obviously un-scientific and anti-scientific. But what if it just wanted to use science as a slogan, to steal its well-earned credibility to revive its discredited pseudo-science of Marxist economics and to give itself an excuse to persecute dissenters? Well then, this is exactly the sort of thing it would do.

That’s the dead giveaway that this isn’t science but is instead one of those other fields Sagan mentioned: religion or politics or an unholy fusion of the two.