Green Or Blue

“Bread and circuses, that’s all the common people want.” – Juvenal

I do not believe that history repeats but it does rhyme. People tend to behave in similar ways generation after generation.

The Byzantine Empire was a continuation of the Roman Empire and was the most powerful empire in the world from the 5th to the 15th centuries. Like Rome the Byzantine Empire had ‘bread and circuses’. These circuses were not elephants doing tricks and ladies on a trapeze but rather gladiators fighting to the death and chariot races. These events broke down into two competing teams – the Greens and the Blues.

Starting around 500 AD these circus competitions and their fanatical supporters also defined the social line of politics, economics and theology. You read that right: on virtually every issue of substance society broke down as being a Green or a Blue. People began to treat issues of politics, economics and theology no differently than rooting for a sports team and aligned on those societal issues with their preferred team.

The circuses and their competitions had so dominated their daily lives for so long that each and every issue that came before society came to be viewed with the same logic and forethought as a competition in the circus. Unconditional loyalty to this team or that team – loyalty to a political, economic or theological system because one associated with the Green or the Blue. No other thought was put into what was correct, truthful or right; simply “I am a Green so I support this or that.”

It became all about winning, not what was right or best.

That seems like a pretty silly way to determine what your politics, economics or theology should be, doesn’t it? Doing and believing whatever your preferred team believes with no more thought or research given to it than if you were going to be an Atlanta Braves fan or a Washington Nationals fan.

How did the Blues-Greens saga end in Constantinople? With a street brawl that killed 30,000 people. After that they figured out that perhaps you should put a bit more thought into politics, economics and theology than you put into which sports team you root for. They realized unconditional adherence to a societal school of thought just because you support that ‘team’ was an excellent way to start a civil war.

Pretty silly. Now take a look around you…

Giving Due Process to Accused Men Perpetuates Campus Rape Culture, Say Betsy DeVos’s Feminist Critics.

Lost behind recent, louder political headlines, the controversial buzz this week has been about Education Secretary Betsy DeVos peeking behind the curtains of higher education. She’s scrutinizing the kangaroo courts known as university disciplinary proceedings, and the role of pressure from her own department’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) in driving the problem. Indications are, she has concerns about what she’s seeing.
 
Regarding issues like alleged hate speech, civil rights violations, or sexual misconduct, universities have gained a bad and well-deserved reputation for trampling the rights of the accused while pressing for politically correct results in support of leftist oppression narratives. University administrators certainly can be overbearing wardens, but a lot of the pressure they are bending to comes from the OCR. DeVos’s willingness to take the issue seriously and consider corrective measures is driving fury and apoplexy on the Left.
 
Enabling rape deniers,” “legitimizing rape,” “embracing misogynists,” “bizarre Christian tilt,” “enemy of victims” are a few of the howls from the liberal blogosphere. These criticism are bogus reactionary leftism. Ms. DeVos is looking into a flawed system that is bad at what it does, cannot adequately supervise hormonal college students of both sexes or protect real victims, often stomps on the accused in an effort to compensate, and sows injustice and broken lives along its relentless path.
 
The New York Times was more evenhanded in its treatment, and reported DeVos is grappling with important dilemmas. “[A] system without due process ultimately serves no one in the end,” the Times quoted her as saying. Still, DeVos is not looking to return to any bad old days of injustice and sexist dismissal: “We can’t go back to the days when allegations were swept under the rug and I acknowledge there was a time when women were essentially dismissed. That is not acceptable.”
 
How things came to this pass follows a convoluted story. In brief overview, universities are operating under a law that is not designed to police college sex. Federal regulators have pressed the law and universities into applications neither it nor they were designed to address. College hook up culture is, arguably, an untamed frontier of a setting to try to enforce modern feminist theories challenging commonly held understandings of consent, and expanding concepts of assault or misconduct. Universities are institutionally incapable of justly adjudicating the tensions and fissures that result.
 
The legal story starts with Title IX of the U.S. Code. Passed by Congress in 1972, that law establishes a simple and reasonable standard: educational institutions that receive federal money may not discriminate on the basis of sex. If they are found to discriminate, they risk losing federal funds. Essentially, it is an education sector supplement to laws prohibiting sex discrimination in employment and public accommodations.
 
In barring sex discrimination, Title IX has been pressed into service of theories that might seem to stretch its original concept, such as creating a de facto quota system in high school and college sports, to ensure that the number of athletic participants accurately reflects the sexual composition of schools. While it has done much good in expanding opportunities, critics assert it has caused harm in forcing to schools to eliminate some sports traditionally pursued by men, and to add new women’s teams to make sure the percentages balance.
 
More recently, it has sparked some scrutiny of the rather male slant of faculties in the hard sciences at major universities.
 
One area federal officials pushed Title IX in recent decades is addressing increased reports of sexual misconduct on college campuses. Since at least the 1990s, often under pressure from federal regulators, colleges have more actively policed allegations of assault or misconduct.This apparently healthful development, though, poses important questions. Certainly, schools should not tolerate known sexual assault or abuse within their spheres of authority. But, does that necessarily mean schools should be the arbiter of when violations occur?
 
Sexual assault is against the law. It is a civil and criminal violation. There are civil and criminal authorities and courts that police and administer justice in these things. Under pressure from activists and regulators, and perhaps a bit of mission creep from turf-building administrators, colleges have moved to occupy this space as well.
 
The record of such intervention has been problematic. It accelerated under a controversial move by the Obama OCR in 2008. College disciplinary proceedings are not courts of law or bound by the codes of criminal or civil procedure. Media attention and federal pressure have generally pushed far more toward protecting victims and punishing predators than to ensuring due process, fair proceedings, and just results. Academic KC Johnson and journalist Stuart Taylor have documented a litany of abuses of accused sexual aggressors: Limited or no access to relevant accusations or evidence; limited access to help by or participation from legal counsel, no right to confront or cross examine the accuser, withholding or exclusion of exculpatory information, such as evidence that suggested sexual contact was voluntary, and, harsh consequences and sanctions, often even before any official hearings or determinations occurred, and so on.
 
 
In 2008, Obama’s DOE kicked the already slanted deck with what is referred to as a Dear Colleague Letter. The letter essentially ordered universities to lower the evidentiary bar for accusers from “clear and convincing evidence” (which was already below the criminal standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt”) to the ordinary civil standard of “preponderance of the evidence” which effectively means even a 1% stronger belief in the accuser’s charges than the denials of the accused requires universities to find for the accuser and deliver punishment to the accused.
 
This intervention by correspondence worked two kinds of injustice. First, it was a change in federal policy without any of the niceties of passing a real regulation, such as chance for public comment and opposition to the change. But, the letter left it sharply clear that schools would comply, or they would risk federal enforcement and loss of funds.
 
Second, an ordinary preponderance standard is grossly inadequate for the ruinous consequences that universities can inflict. A negative finding will result in expulsion, loss of educational opportunities, including enrolling in other schools, loss of employment prospects, humiliation before peers, friends, family, and community. This is not the stuff of a civil damages law suit. It is life scarring.
 
Activists, administrators, and regulators argue that the consequences of sexual assault are worse, and cut and scar more deeply. They are probably right. But that is exactly why there are public institutions whose role it is to apply the law and seek just results. Even in a civil sexual harassment case with lesser potential for ruin than a university “judgment,” an accused has greater rights and standing to defend, answer charges, and seek a just outcome.
 
This is the context that Betsy DeVos is wading into. How did universities become the presumed sexual parents and guardians of student behavior on campus? Is that even authorized by existing law? Are universities equipped for the task? Have the scales tipped too far in pressing for a “conviction”? Would it make more sense to rely on civil and criminal authorities and return the academic focus to education?
 
These are important questions. The Department of Education is appropriately considering them.

Justifying A Fantasy

“We’re living in an age where what you say and its relation with the facts is completely irrelevant.” – Charles Krauthammer

Charles Krauthammer statement is true. We have a very vocal minority in this country that believe in a fantasy. Their entire existence revolves around keeping the fantasy intact. They believe it is mandatory to attack anyone who demonstrates the fantasy as what it is: a fantasy.

An example of this fantasy is Bernie Sanders and his adherents pointing to Denmark as what they want the United States to become.  Denmark has a corporate tax rate that is close to half that of the United States yet the tax burden on the Danish middle class ranges from 60-80%. Yes you read that correctly, the Danish middle class is taxed at a 60-80% clip. Sound like the utopian paradise you would like to turn the United States into?

In the leftist fantasy, none of the truth about Denmark is true.

“All of these actions impede upon the individual freedoms and privacy rights of others, all under the guise of “equality.” And because cultural Marxists need to constantly observe ever greater modes of oppression and inequality in order to justify their existence, the impositions on individual liberty will never end. Today, people may argue that such violations are “minor” and not to be concerned over. It is happening to strangers or distant neighbors, not to them; so why should they care? Liberty movement champions know full well why this thinking is idiotic; the trampling of one person’s individual liberties is the trampling of ALL people’s individual liberties. Totalitarianism is a virus that feeds on one person to the next until everyone is on the menu.” – Brandon Smith

We have a significant number of people in this country who believe that totalitarianism is where they want to go.  They believe that they have been treated unfairly and others have prospered unfairly. To an extent that is true – however in their naivety and ignorance they have decided that the answer to this is to place almost all power in the hands of a select few individuals to make things ‘fair’. They have adopted the mantle of ‘victimhood’ in order to deprive others of their right to speech, deprive them of their property, and deprive others of any right that indeed exposes the alleged ‘victims’ as being the actual perpetrators.

This is the opposite of equality. This is the opposite of freedom. This is the opposite of liberty. This is a perpetuation of the very system that creates victims. and actual victims is what the Left intends to create in as large a number as they can possibly manage. This is evil.

Here is the root of the problem; they will continue in a never-ending fashion trying to destroy people, institutions, and above all truth because this is what they have come to believe is required to justify a fantasy – and of course destroying people, institutions and truth will never accomplish their goal of justifying a fantasy. There will simply never be an end to it, ever, because you cannot justify a fantasy by destroying truth and those who proclaim truth no matter how much destruction you may proliferate.  Yet that is what they will attempt to do.

Mark my words.

We Can Only Absorb Stupid For So Long

“When governments find themselves in financial trouble because of the stupid decisions that they’ve made, their first response is to award themselves even more power to make even stupider decisions.” – Simon Black

“It was the most memorable time of my life. It was a touching moment because I never thought this day would ever happen. I won’t have to worry about putting gas in my car. I won’t have to worry about paying my mortgage. You know, if I help him, he’s gonna help me.” — Obama supporter Peggy Joseph

“Things always become obvious after the fact” – Nassim Nicholas Taleb

We can trace the stupid financial decisions of the United States back a long way. We can trace it back to our first Progressive President, Teddy Roosevelt, giving JP Morgan $25,000,000 with which to bail out a bank that a friend of TR was invested in (by the way JPM did not bail out the bank, he just kept the twenty five million. TR did not have the courage to ask for the taxpayers money to be returned). We can trace it to our next Progressive President, Woodrow Wilson, creating the IRS and the Federal Reserve and subsequently also creating the first Federal Reserve generated monetary bubble. We can trace it to Franklin Roosevelt believing that the proper course was to imitate Mussolini and Italian Fascism, even to the point of inviting Italian Fascist to come to Washington and to help draft legislation and regulations for the New Dealers. We can trace it to Lyndon Johnson and LBJ’s burning desire to ‘complete’ the New Deal and finish what FDR could not with all of the accompanying deceit and fraud of government finances that LBJ engineered. We can trace it to Nixon deciding that a never ending expansion of government agencies, government control and government financial engineering would solve all of the problems that he inherited from LBJ. We can trace it to Bill Clinton deregulating the entire banking system except the FDIC. I suppose we could then draw the well known correlation between the millions of dollars Clinton received from the Wall Street banks after leaving the White House and his deregulation of these same banks. We can trace it to the profligate spending of George W Bush and the complete absence of adult supervision of the Federal Reserve on his watch. We can certainly trace it to Obama taking all of the dysfunctional fiscal and monetary policies of the W era and then putting them on steroids while deciding to centrally plan and control nearly every aspect of American economic life.

In other words, there is plenty of stupid to go around, Democrat and Republican, for decades.

It is in the nature of human beings who have acquired some degree of power to attempt to expand that power, especially when they have failed. We have now had generations of Presidents and congresses who have repeatedly awarded themselves even more power to compensate for stupid decisions and consequently used that power to make even more stupid decisions.

We have a meaningful number of voters who believe they can and will get a free lunch.  We have politicians always willing to rationalize their bad decisions by claiming they just provided that free lunch.

This is a disaster in the making and someday in retrospect in will be obvious. We can only absorb stupid for so long.

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