Free speech threats, left and right

The organizers of the Rose Festival Parade in Portland, Oregon, had to shut it down because of threats of violence. This isn’t something that should be happening in the United States.

When Trump was elected, I was afraid there would soon be rampaging mobs assaulting people for what they said. I was right, but the mobs aren’t the ones I expected. While Trump talked about leaving people to be “carried out on a stretcher” it’s the political left that’s now using brass knuckles on people. Not everyone is overtly supporting violence, but too many are, and the opposition is numerically weak.

At the same time, the Trump administration is overtly hostile to the news media, and there’s currently talk of prosecuting a foreign news organization, WikiLeaks, that doesn’t operate on U.S. soil. This would be a shot across the bow for both American and international news organizations everywhere.

Which is the greater threat? Donald Trump holds a powerful position and has support in Congress. The courts have been holding him back, but he’s making noises about changing the court system to a more compliant one. He could do serious harm by 2020. On the other hand, leftist mobs have already done concrete damage to free speech. It’s not just the people they’ve assaulted and the events they’ve forced cancellation of, but other events whose organizers know might be threatened by these thugs.
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Trump’s lie about New Hampshire

Trump’s claim that thousands of people were bused into New Hampshire and fraudulently voted in the 2016 election is a plain lie. It has no supporting evidence, and Trump has a long record of gross dishonesty. I stood outside the polls in Kingston, NH for hours, watching for any signs of intimidation, and didn’t see any kind of irregularities. I certainly would have noticed a busload of voters arrive. Many people were similarly watchful at other locations in the state.

As I noted in an earlier post, Kingston’s town clerk suppressed vote totals on the website. However, the votes were reported correctly to the state, as far as I can tell. What she did was biased and improper, but it didn’t affect the official totals.

Some people think Trump is delusional and believes his claim. I think he has set out to discredit the election process. New Hampshire is disproportionately important in presidential elections, so it’s easy to see why he’s smearing my state’s voting system.

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The liberal coalition

In several posts, I’ve written about the idea of a liberal coalition against the various authoritarian movements in politics. This is the first of a series of posts I’m planning, to describe some details of what I mean.

I’ll keep repeating, since new readers may drop in on any of my posts, that I’m not talking about “liberalism” in the sense of Democratic Party politics, but the older idea, which still has some recognition in Europe.
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The morning after

No, I didn’t think it was possible either.
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A note on the election

Clinton is terrible, but Trump is far worse.

Both are hostile to freedom. Clinton’s highest priority is to gut the First Amendment in order to settle a personal grudge about a video she wanted to censor. Trump ‘s highest priority is to exercise dictatorial power. Both want to escalate the current set of undeclared wars. Both want to use the terrorist watch list, a set of secret accusations that you can’t defend yourself against, to restrict people’s freedoms.
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Nashua Library selectively promotes candidates

The Nashua, NH public library has a display inviting people to give it donations in the name of Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. The library displays life-size cardboard cutouts of these two people next to big jars. No choices are available except Trump and Clinton. This is, of course, selective promotion of some candidates above others, which a government-financed library is not supposed to do.
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Militarists bash Trump

Like a stopped clock, Trump is occasionally right. I don’t see much to disagree with in this statement:

When you talk about the mental health problems, when people come back from war and combat — and they see things that maybe a lot of the folks in this room have seen many times over and you’re strong and you can handle it, but a lot of people can’t handle it. And they see horror stories. They see events that you couldn’t see in a movie. Nobody would believe it.

The “you’re strong and you can handle it” sounds like pandering to the audience. But leave that out and what he’s saying is that war is hell and it breaks people. This idea doesn’t play well with Clinton, who’s generally more enthusiastic for wars than Trump is.
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Rand Paul’s stealth campaign for Trump

Rand Paul has sunk to rock bottom, sneakily campaigning for Trump. Someone on Google+ found this video. It’s “unlisted,” meaning that YouTube doesn’t show it in search results or suggestions. Private videos are a different category, and only people with authorized accounts can view them.

If Paul had said that Trump is less horrible than Clinton, I could live with that, but he declares:

I signed a document with my word on it, saying that I would support who won. … But I’ve often supported Republican nominees who I wasn’t particularly fond of. Never of us ever have a nominee —  in fact, you probably don’t agree with me a hundred percent on every issue. But the thing is, we support who we agree with the most and we get there.

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The New York Times’ Two-Party Bias Gets Absurd

It’s become a standard pattern in the major news media. Instead of presenting people with a poll of the actual candidates in the presidential election, they offer people an imaginary choice between only Trump and Clinton and report the results. Sometimes, several paragraphs down, they’ll add the results where people are allowed to choose from any of the candidates. With Johnson frequently topping 10%, that’s a huge omission. The New York Times has outdone them all, though.
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Al Baldasaro’s call for Clinton’s death

Sorry it’s been so long since I posted. I just moved less than two weeks ago, and I’m still having Internet issues.

Recently there was an event that should have provoked a firestorm of outrage from Democrats. The level of denunciation I’ve seen has been minuscule. Either genuine human anger or calculated political planning should have made it a flashpoint. It’s been less than a wet firecracker.

I’m referring to New Hampshire representative and Trump advisor Al Baldasaro’s call for Hillary Clinton’s execution. He said that Clinton should be “put in the firing line and shot for treason.” You can’t get any more explicit than that. Trump has, as far as I know, not said a word repudiating Baldasaro. A Trump spokesman has merely said that “Mr. Trump and the campaign do not agree,” as if whether or not to kill one’s opponent is merely a detail that’s of no importance.

In an earlier post on this blog, I noted that Baldasaro admires Franklin D. Roosevelt’s sending Japanese-Americans to concentration camps.

The Boston Globe had a good piece. It says:

In a normal political environment, Baldasaro’s words would be swiftly condemned and he’d be sent home to New Hampshire. Since we don’t live in a normal political environment, we get comments like this from Hope Hicks, Trump’s campaign spokeswoman, “We’re incredibly grateful for his support, but we don’t agree with his comments.” She also helpfully added, “Mr. Trump does not feel this way.”
This is not good enough.
Quite simply, there is no possible way that calling for the execution of a presidential candidate is remotely acceptable — and it needs to be condemned without equivocation.

Why hasn’t everyone been responding to Baldasaro this way? It goes well beyond even Trump’s usual demagoguery. A speech with plagiarized text got more attention.

The only thing I can think is that people aren’t capable of actually being outraged any more. Everything’s a matter of indifference to them, unless they get orders from on high to take offense. Once they get their instructions, their being offended is the most important thing in the world, but without it, what politicians do and say doesn’t actually matter to them. With so much going on at the Republican Convention, nobody remembered to send down a memo saying “Calling for the execution of a political opponent is bad.” So people just look at the news item and have no personal reaction to it.

This makes very little sense and says something very disturbing about people, but I don’t have a better answer right now.

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