I am thinking of doing a weekly version of what I did in my Election Day post this year: collecting links to news and opinion pieces and briefly commenting on them. Whether I have the discipline to do that over the long haul remains to be seen! I will write such a post today, however. And I have to warn you: you may not like what I say!
Right now, at least, I am going to follow the format of my Election
Day post. I will have two categories: “pro-Trump” and “anti-Trump”! If
there is an article that I like that does not belong to either
category, I will put it in a separate category, entitled “Other.”
To reiterate what I said in my Election Day post, by “pro-Trump” and
“anti-Trump,” I do not necessarily mean that the authors of these
articles support or oppose the President-elect. What I mean is that
these articles say things that reflect positively or negatively on
Trump, in my eyes. Many “pro-Trump” articles that I post will be by
people who support Trump, and many “anti-Trump” articles will be by
people who oppose him. But that will not always be the case. For
example, today, I will put a Breitbart article in the “anti-Trump”
section, even though the article is not opposed to Trump.
Here we go!
Weekly Standard: In Alabama Jeff Sessions Desegregated Schools and Got the Death Penalty for KKK Head.
President-elect Trump’s selection for Attorney General is being
called a racist. Is there another side to the story? Has Jeff Sessions
done anything against racism?
Yahoo News: Trump’s Attorney General Could Halt Obama-Era Criminal Justice Reforms.
I happen to support the Obama-era criminal justice reforms, so much
of what this article says concerns me. At the same time, kudos to the
article for mentioning the pro-reform aspects of Jeff Sessions’ record.
The article cites Holly Harris, who is executive director of the
pro-criminal justice reform group, the U.S. Justice Action Network:
“Harris said that while it’s clear Sessions is not a fan of sentencing
reform, the Alabama lawmaker has supported legislation in the past to
help people who get out of prison reintegrate into society. Sessions
also backed a bill to reduce the vast sentencing disparity between
crimes involving crack vs. those involving powder cocaine in 2010.
(Crack offenders, most of whom were black, were sentenced 100 times more
harshly than people who sold powder cocaine, despite the fact that it’s
essentially the same drug.)”
Breitbart: Trump Considering Woman, Openly Gay Man for Leadership Posts.
Okay, confession time. I subscribed to the Breitbart newsletter last
week! I wanted to see what all the buzz was about. Don’t worry: I’m
not checking my brain at the door. I still think there is
sensationalist stuff on Breitbart, and here I am speaking in terms of
what I have seen and read on it, which is far from comprehensive. But I
figured that at least I would get an alternative perspective by reading
Breitbart. With the avalanche of criticisms on Trump’s transition,
Cabinet picks, and potential appointees this past week, this article was
refreshing, since it highlights at least a few areas in which Trump is
moving his cabinet in the direction of diversity. I should also mention
that this article is actually an AP article.
Breitbart: Team Trump Announces Five Year Lobbying Ban for Administration Officials.
We’ve heard that President-elect Trump isn’t really draining the
swamp but is hiring lobbyists to be on his transition team. Okay, those
are valid criticisms! But is there anything positive that Trump is
doing, in the area of lobbying reform? People have criticized the
revolving door that exists in Washington, D.C., as people leave
government and immediately become lobbyists. Is Trump doing something
to redress this problem, on some level?
Breitbart: Bill Kristol: Republican Spoiler, Renegade Jew
Read the article! Don’t just rely on what you’ve heard about the
article. Read it! The mainstream media have been referring to this
article to argue that Trump’s appointment for chief strategist, Steve
Bannon, is an anti-Semite. But this article isn’t anti-Semitic. First
of all, it is written by David Horowitz, who himself is Jewish. Second,
its argument is that Bill Kristol, by criticizing Trump, is empowering
Israel’s enemies. Technically, this article does not make me feel that
much better about Trump or Bannon: it sounds rather neo-connish to me.
But it does make me wonder how often the mainstream media read past the
Breitbart: An Establishment Conservative’s Guide to the Alt-Right, by Allum Bokhari and Milo Yiannopoulos
This article is disturbing in its description of the Alt-Right.
What’s more, one of its authors is Milo, who is a prominent voice on
Breitbart. The article is giving a layout of those who are part of the
Alt-Right, and one group in it is the “natural conservatives.” This is
the part that disturbs me.
“The conservative instinct, as described by [social psychologist
Jonathan] Haidt, includes a preference for homogeneity over diversity,
for stability over change, and for hierarchy and order over radical
egalitarianism. Their instinctive wariness of the foreign and the
unfamiliar is an instinct that we all share – an evolutionary safeguard
against excessive, potentially perilous curiosity – but natural
conservatives feel it with more intensity. They instinctively prefer
familiar societies, familiar norms, and familiar institutions.”
There is legitimate discussion out there about assimilation and what
cultural glue should hold this country together, but the above sounds
like stigmatizing the “other.” In my opinion, we should learn to get
along and appreciate people who are different from us, rather than
trying to exclude them.
I should note that Milo is a homosexual with Jewish background, and
the authors of this article note that Breitbart itself has embraced
Times: Selling Health Insurance Across State Lines Is a Favorite GOP
‘Reform.’ Here’s Why It Makes No Sense, by Michael Hiltzik
This article critiques the idea of allowing health insurance to be
sold across state lines. I wonder if there is a way to bypass some of
the problems that the article identifies, while still allowing health
insurance to be sold across state lines. Why not have the same standard
national regulations for all health insurance companies, rather than
letting each state set its regulations? David Frum and Bill O’Reilly
have suggested this. The other problem the article identifies, that
insurance companies negotiate with hospitals that are in their
proximity, remains as a challenge to the idea, though.