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Garrett Epps on Birthright Citizenship

The first words of the Fourteenth Amendment, argues legal scholar and Atlantic contributor Garrett Epps, are the key to its meaning: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” In the newest Atlantic Argument, Epps details the history…

The Unacculturated

One reads today in the Journal Sentinel that the Baraboo school district condemns a photo showing a large group of students giving Nazi salute: A photo posted on social media of dozens of Baraboo High School students giving a Nazi salute has drawn condemnation from the school district. Tweets say the photo shows the entire male class of…

‘Chinese-owned company qualifies for Trump’s anti-China farm bailout’

Listen closely, and one can almost hear the peals of laughter from a bureaucrat in the Chinese ministry of commerce… Jeff Stein reports Chinese-owned company qualifies for Trump’s anti-China farm bailout: A Chinese-owned pork producer is eligible for federal payments under President Trump’s $12 billion farm bailout, a program established to help U.S. farmers hurt…

Jennifer Rubin on ‘Three big ideas to bolster democracy’

Jennifer Rubin writes of three ideas to bolster democracy (enhanced voting rights, independent and non-partisan justice, and robust speech rights): First, Republicans, in an effort to hang on to their declining electoral advantage based on white voters, have tried every trick in the book to limit voting by those they suspect will favor Democrats. Hence,…

Hyper-Local Politics is Finished (It’s Just That Not Everyone Sees it Yet)

Hyper-localism in politics has affected – and harmed – Whitewater and countless other small towns. The idea that there were better local standards on economics, open government, and politics than the best American standards was always a truly risible conceit. The best standards on these matters were always broad and wide. (See How Many Rights for…

Act Utilitarianism Isn’t Merely a National Scourge

Trump justifies his treatment of Christine Blasey Ford by the outcome of the Kavanaugh hearings: “It doesn’t matter. We won.”

One wouldn’t have to go to Washington, or wait for Trump to speak, to find this sort of act utilitarianism. Long before Trump’s 2016 campaign, officials and self-described community leaders in small towns across America shared a similar calculus. For the sake of some imagined overall gain, individual injuries and injustices have been swept aside.

And so, and so — officials justify financial and personal injuries to individuals on behalf of the supposed greater good of being ‘community-minded,’ of defending the ‘university family,’ or some such collective claim.

Trump’s act utilitarianism did not begin with Trump: it grew in cities and towns in which factions decided they’d take what they want, and conveniently sweep aside others by use of nebulous ‘community’ principles. (In the video above, Trump betrays his amorality early on, as he shrugs his shoulders when part of Christine Blasey Ford’s injury is recounted to him.)

In most of these cases of supposed collective gain, of course, it turns out to be a particular politician, particular businessman, or particular university official who reaps the most at the expense of ordinary individuals, but these community leaders would prefer one didn’t look too closely into that selfish benefit, thank you kindly.

Whether a highly-placed person’s selfish gain, or community’s supposed overall gain, the disregard for individual rights reveals a dark, calculating amorality.

The ‘Republican’ Candidate’s Meet and Greet

One reads that the self-described Republican candidate for the 43rd Assembly District will hold a meet and greet next week at a private establishment in town. Good for him – free speech is a core political right. (He’s also scheduled to appear at a local candidate’s forum this week. See The First & Last Questions.) He’s a…

The First & Last Questions

There’s a local debate candidate forum scheduled for this weekend between the Democrat and Republican running for the 43rd Assembly district (a portion of which includes Whitewater). The Whitewater Area League of Women Voters is hosting this event, and writes to reassure prospective attendees that they may “ask questions of the candidates by writing them…

The Motivation of the Horde

Most people, in all times and places, are clever and intelligent. It’s simply false to contend that only a few people are sharp; society does – and only can – function through the capable participation of many. At times in our own history, however, large numbers of our people have slipped into malevolence, in opposition…

Review: Active Measures

Active Measures is a 2018 documentary describing Russian (derived from Soviet) techniques to undermine American democratic institutions, and those of our democratic allies. (Active measures: “A Soviet term for the actions of political warfare conducted by the Russian security services to influence the course of world events.”) The film is now in limited theatrical release,…

Review: Everything Trump Touches Dies

Not everyone who opposes Trump does so from the same position or perspective; a picture that depicts his opponents only as Democrats and liberals is a pinched – and false – illustration. There are yet Republicans (and independents of no major party) who have and always will oppose Trump. Republicans (and this libertarian) who implacably…

‘The Coalition of All Democratic Forces’

On Twitter, Garry Kasparov reflected on the diverse coalition of those opposed to Trumpism, and the need for accountability for Trump & his operatives. In reply, Benjamin Wittes wrote a series addressing Kasparov’s topic. Below, I have reproduced the original Kasparov tweet, and Wittes’s series in reply. Their conversation is (having started after an earlier…