Marquette Warrior: January 2019

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Anti-Trump Screed on Syllabus of Ken Mayer, University of Wisconsin Professor

UW Madison Political Scientist Kenneth Mayer has been a tolerably reputable political scientist, but has lately gone off the deep end with Democratic partisanship.

First, there was a very badly conducted study of Wisconsin’s voter ID law, which claimed it has disenfranchised 2,400 voters in Milwaukee and Dane counties.

When subjected to scrutiny, it was torn apart.

And now we have an anti-Trump screed on Kenneth Mayer’s course syllabus on the presidency. See below.

Trump derangement syndrome has deeply corrupted the mainstream media. Is it now corrupting political science, which has traditionally been a bit more “professional” than disciplines like sociology, which tend to attract undisciplined leftists? It’s not that political scientists don’t have, on average, leftist biases. They do. But they also usually seek to keep their biases in check.

Is Kenneth Mayer a bellwether, merely the forerunner of an increasingly corrupted discipline, or an outlier?

The full syllabus is here.

A lot is conventional, but several random swipes at Trump are inserted. For example:
Can Trump pardon himself? Can a sitting president be indicted? Nobody knows, in part because the questions have never seriously arisen. But we may find out.

Trump is contemptuous of traditional governing practices and famously uninterested in policy details. From what we can observe, there are no policy processes in the White House and what emerges seems largely the result of presidential whims. Trump’s leadership of public opinion is a combination of tweets (many of which can, quite fairly, be characterized as unhinged) and campaign-like rallies in front of enthusiastic supporters. Is this the new standard?

And, finally, we must consider the question of how presidencies end (or are ended). Two presidents have been impeached but not convicted (Andrew Jackson and Bill Clinton), and one forced from office (Richard Nixon). Impeachment is an extraordinary remedy. Are we in that territory?
Then there are readings such as:
“Hostile Sexism, Racism Denial, and the Historic Education Gap in Support for Trump.”

“How Rural Resentment Helps Explain the Surprising Victory of Donald Trump.”

“Will Donald Trump Destroy the Presidency?”

“Russia Won”

“For Trump, ‘a War Every Day’,” Waged Increasingly Alone.”
And finally a single reading favorable to Trump:
“Breaking Norms Will Renew Democracy, Not Ruin It — Most of President Trump’s alleged transgressions offend against the etiquette of modern liberal governance, not the Constitution.”
Mayer, certainly, can structure his course as he wants. But other people can point out that he’s becoming unhinged about Donald Trump.

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Leftist Bigotry: the Covington Catholic High School Kids

From the Wall Street Journal:
Of the most culturally deplorable boxes one can check in progressive America in 2019, the boys of Covington Catholic High School have most of them: white, male, Christian, attendees at the annual March for Life in Washington, and wearers of MAGA hats. What’s not to dislike? So when four minutes of video footage emerged online this weekend showing the students appearing to harass a Native American Vietnam veteran named Nathan Phillips, America’s media and cultural elite leapt to judgment.

A short video clip of student Nick Sandmann supposedly “smirking” as Mr. Phillips banged his drum in the student’s face went viral, and instantly the boys of Covington Catholic in Kentucky were branded racists.

Best-selling author Reza Aslan tweeted that the high school junior had a “punchable face.” Former Democratic Party chief Howard Dean opined that Covington Catholic is “a hate factory.” GQ’s Nathaniel Friedman urged people to “Doxx ‘em all,” i.e., make their personal information public.

Meanwhile, mainstream news outlets published misleading accounts of what happened based on incomplete information. And pundits on the right and left rushed to demonstrate their own virtue by trashing high school students as somehow symptomatic of America’s cultural rot in the Age of Trump.

Only it turns out there was a much longer video, nearly two hours, showing that almost everything first reported about the confrontation was false, or at least much more complicated. The boys had been taunted by a group of Black Hebrew Israelites, who shouted racist and homophobic slurs. Far from the boys confronting Mr. Phillips, he confronted them as they were waiting near the Lincoln Memorial for their bus.

It also turns out that Mr. Phillips is not the Vietnam veteran he was reported to be in most stories. On Tuesday the Washington Post offered a correction, noting that while Mr. Phillips served in the Marines from 1972 to 1976, he was “never deployed to Vietnam.”

Some of the students did respond to Mr. Phillips by doing the Tomahawk Chop, and it would have been better had they all walked away. But on the whole these teenagers were calm amid the provocations and far less incendiary than the adults who taunted them and the progressive high priests who denounced them.

The new information has people who had so eagerly cast the first stones hastily deleting their tweets. Still, it is telling that some of the most disgusting tweets were the work of the blue-check elites who pride themselves on their tolerance. More surprising is the rush to judgment by those who might have been expected to consider the boys innocent until proven guilty, or at least until all the evidence is in.

On Saturday the boys’ school issued a joint statement with the Covington Diocese saying they “condemn” the students for their actions and were considering appropriate action “including expulsion.” A post on National Review said the boys might as well have “just spit on the cross.” And the March for Life distanced itself from the “reprehensible behavior” of the marchers from Covington.

Many of these early critics have now apologized or walked back their initial condemnations. But these social injustices perpetrated on social media are not so easily redressed. Covington Catholic was closed Tuesday for security reasons.

Most of those who so eagerly maligned these boys will face no lasting consequences, while the boys themselves will always have to wonder, when they are turned down for a job or a school, whether someone had Googled their name and found only half this story. This is an ugly moment in America, all right, but there are few things uglier than a righteous leftist mob.
A righteous leftist mob is just a normal day in American politics.

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Friday, January 11, 2019

Not Much Choice

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Unemployment: U.S. vs. Europe

People on the left are always touting European socialism as something the U.S. should emulate. They like to talk about all the goodies socialist governments give out (but don’t like to talk about the tax burden).

But another thing they don’t like to talk about is unemployment. It is chronically lower in the U.S.

Current unemployment rates among industrialized countries can be found here, courtesy of the OECD.

Notice something? The U.S. is lower than all countries besides Germany, the Czech Republic, Iceland and the Netherlands.  The numbers vary a bit year by year, and quarter by quarter, so they might be a bit different if you check the link six months or three years from now.

Of course, comparing a large diverse country like the U.S. to much smaller and homogeneous countries is unfair. It’s like comparing the city of Milwaukee to Whitefish Bay. On about any indicator you can think of, Whitefish Bay looks better, being homogeneous and affluent.

This logic would suggest that the U.S. should be compared to all the countries in the European Union, or at least to all the countries that use the Euro as their currency. That would deprive supporters of European socialism of the opportunity to pick their favorite little homogeneous country to compare to the U.S.

But in spite of this, all their favorite little homogeneous countries fare worse than the U.S. Unemployment, which is 3.8 percent in the U.S., is 6.44% in that paragon of socialist righteousness, Sweden. And it’s 4.87% in Bernie Sander’s dream country, Denmark.


Even the low number for Germany (which has a highly touted “industrial policy”) conceals a less benign reality.

We see that when we look at long-term unemployment. This is defined as the percentage of those who are unemployed who have been unemployed for twelve months or more.

The data on that are here, and they show that 41.9% of the unemployed in Germany have been out of work for a year or more, while only 15.1% of the unemployed in the U.S. are in this category. The number for the Czech Republic is 36%.

For Iceland the number is a low 9.2%, but for the Netherlands it is 40.7%.

The love of the American left for European socialism is not based on a superior ability of that system to give people jobs. It’s based on the perception that people like them are in power, unlike in the U.S.

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Friday, January 04, 2019

Who Now Doesn’t Believe in Evolution?

A fair number of more conservative Christians don’t believe in evolution, and view the Genesis account of the origins of man literally.

A lot of the more dogmatic “science” types get all hot and bothered about this, fussing and fuming about how terribly ignorant this is, and how America is a pit of ignorance because of this.

In reality, not believing in evolution is about as bad as believing that a conspiracy killed JFK: not terribly well-informed, but not really harmful. If you don’t believe in evolution, you aren’t going to get a Ph.D. in physical anthropology, but not many people want one of those.

Believing that vaccines cause autism, or that a 70% top income tax rate is a good idea (as airhead Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez does), are much more harmful beliefs.

The New Evolution Deniers

In an essay in Quillette, Colin Wright describes a new “cryptic form of left-wing evolution denialism [that] has been slowly growing.”
At first, left-wing pushback to evolution appeared largely in response to the field of human evolutionary psychology. Since Darwin, scientists have successfully applied evolutionary principles to understand the behavior of animals, often with regard to sex differences. However, when scientists began applying their knowledge of the evolutionary underpinnings of animal behavior to humans, the advancing universal acid began to threaten beliefs held sacrosanct by the Left. The group that most fervently opposed, and still opposes, evolutionary explanations for behavioral sex differences in humans were/are social justice activists. Evolutionary explanations for human behavior challenge their a priori commitment to “Blank Slate” psychology—the belief that male and female brains in humans start out identical and that all behavior, sex-linked or otherwise, is entirely the result of differences in socialization.
Why do the politically correct leftists want a “Blank Slate” psychology? Because they want to claim that all differences we see in male vs. female behavior (who goes into computer science?, who is willing to work in a dangerous occupation?) are the result of socialization.

The left has always been enamored of social engineering, at least if the engineering is done by people on the left: professors, government bureaucrats, intellectuals.

If there are real, innate average differences between the sexes, that limits social engineering.

This is extremely embarrassing to leftists, because while they are happy to dismiss Christian young earth creationists as a bunch of yokels, it is harder to dismiss the work of Ph.D. biologists.  But they do anyway.

Wright goes on:
Sex-linked personality differences are very well documented in our closest primate relatives, too, and the presence of sexual dimorphism (i.e. size differences between males and females) in primates, and mammals generally, dramatically intensifies these differences, especially in traits like aggression, female choosiness, territoriality, grooming behavior, and parental care.
Of course, these differences are averages, with considerable overlap between the sexes. For example, men on average are taller than women, but some woman are taller than some men.

But the politically correct leftists want to insist that average differences in behavior (say, women are underrepresented in engineering) are the result of patriarchal oppression.

But is there patriarchal oppression among Barbary macaques?

Repressive Dogma in Academia

Perhaps the scariest part of Wright’s essay is his account of the virulent opposition to evolutionary biology in academia.
Despite there being zero evidence in favor of Blank Slate psychology, and a mountain of evidence to the contrary, this belief has entrenched itself within the walls of many university humanities departments where it is often taught as fact. Now, armed with what they perceive to be an indisputable truth questioned only by sexist bigots, they respond with well-practiced outrage to alternative views. This has resulted in a chilling effect that causes scientists to self-censor, lest these activists accuse them of bigotry and petition their departments for their dismissal. I’ve been privately contacted by close, like-minded colleagues warning me that my public feuds with social justice activists on social media could be occupational suicide, and that I should disengage and delete my comments immediately. My experience is anything but unique, and the problem is intensifying. Having successfully cultivated power over administrations and silenced faculty by inflicting reputational terrorism on their critics and weaponizing their own fragility and outrage, social justice activists now justifiably think there is no belief or claim too dubious that administrations won’t cater to it. Recently, this fear has been realized as social justice activists attempt to jump the epistemological shark by claiming that the very notion of biological sex, too, is a social construct.
Liberals and leftists have long been smugly and arrogantly asserting that conservatives are “anti-science,” pointing to Christian conservatives who don’t believe in evolution, and mainstream conservatives who are skeptical of man-made catastrophic global warming.

Those liberals and leftists need to take a look at the know-nothing subculture in their own backyard.

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