Thomas Jefferson: Autobiography, 6 Jan.-29 July 1821, 6 January 1821

nothing is more certainly written in the book of fate than that these people are to be free. nor is it less certain that the two races, equally free, cannot live in the same government. nature, habit, opinion has drawn indelible lines of distinction between them. it is still in our power to direct the process of emancipation and deportation peaceably and in such slow degree as that the evil will wear off insensibly, and their place be peri passu filled up by free white laborers. if on the contrary it is left to force itself on, human nature must shudder at the prospect held up. we should in vain look for an example in the Spanish deportation or deletion of the Moors. this precedent would fall far short of our case.

Thomas Hobbes: Nasty, Brutish, and Short

  • Whatsoever therefore is consequent to a time of Warre, where every man is Enemy to every man; the same is consequent to the time, wherein men live without other security, than what their own strength, and their own invention shall furnish them withall. In such condition, there is no place for Industry; because the fruit thereof is uncertain: and consequently no Culture of the Earth; no Navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by Sea; no commodious Building; no Instruments of moving, and removing things as require much force; no Knowledge of the face of the Earth; no account of Time; no Arts; no Letters; no Society; and which is worst of all, continuall feare, and danger of violent death; And the life of man solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short.
    • The First Part, Chapter 13, p. 62.

Project Gutenberg

What White Nationalism Gets Right About American History

My dad often gave me the advice that white nationalists are not looking to recruit people on the fringes of American culture, but rather the people who start a sentence by saying, “I’m not racist, but …”

.. The most effective tactics for white nationalists are to associate American history with themselves and to suggest that the collective efforts to turn away from our white supremacist past are the same as abandoning American culture.

.. It’s a message that erases people of color and their essential role in American life, but one that also appeals to large numbers of white people who would agree with the statement, “I’m not racist, but I don’t want American history dishonored, and this statue of Robert E. Lee shouldn’t be removed.”

On Tuesday afternoon the president defended the actions of those at the rally, stating, “You also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.” His words marked possibly the most important moment in the history of the modern white nationalist movement. These statements described the marchers as they see themselves — nobly driven by a good cause, even if they are plagued by a few bad apples. He said: “I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists, because they should be condemned totally. But you had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists.”

.. But this protest, contrary to his defense, was advertised unambiguously as a white nationalist rally. The marchers chanted, “Jews will not replace us”; in the days leading up to the event, its organizers called it “a pro-white demonstration”; my godfather, David Duke, attended and said it was meant to “fulfill the promises of Donald Trump”; and many attendees flew swastika flags. Whatever else you might say about the rally, they were not trying to deceive anyone.

.. decisions over the past several months that aligned with the white nationalist agenda, such as limiting or completely cutting off legal and illegal immigration, especially of Hispanics and Muslims; denigrating black communities as criminal and poor, threatening to unleash an even greater police force on them; and going after affirmative action as antiwhite discrimination. But I had never believed Trump’s administration would have trouble distancing itself from the actual white nationalist movement.

.. Yet President Trump stepped in to salvage the message that the rally organizers had originally hoped to project: “George Washington was a slave owner,” he said, and asked, “So will George Washington now lose his status?” Then: “How about Thomas Jefferson?” he asked. “Because he was a major slave owner. Now are we going to take down his statue?” He added: “You’re changing history. You’re changing culture.”

.. Until Trump’s comments, few critics seemed to identify the larger relationship the alt-right sees between its beliefs and the ideals of the American founders.

.. While we all know that Jefferson was the author of the Declaration of Independence, which declared that “all men are created equal,” his writings also offer room for explicitly white nationalist interpretation.

.. My father observed many times that the quotation from Jefferson’s autobiography embedded on the Jefferson Memorial is deceptive because it reads, “Nothing is more certainly written in the book of fate than that these [the Negro] people are to be free.” It does not include the second half of the sentence: “Nor is it less certain that the two races, equally free, cannot live in the same government. Nature, habit, opinion has drawn indelible lines of distinction between them.”

.. It was only with the civil rights movement of the 1960s that the national origin quota system was abolished and Congress fully removed the restriction favoring white immigrants.

.. And then President Trump intervened. His comments supporting the rally gave new purpose to the white nationalist movement, unlike any endorsement it has ever received. Among its followers, being at that rally will become something to brag about, and some people who didn’t want to be associated with extremism will now see the cause as more mainstream. When the president doesn’t provide condemnation that he has been pressed to give, what message does that send but encouragement?

.. The United States was founded as a white nationalist country, and that legacy remains today

.. The president’s words legitimized the worst of our country, and now the white nationalist movement could be poised to grow. To challenge these messages, we need to acknowledge the continuity of white nationalist thought in American history, and the appeal it still holds.

It is a fringe movement not because its ideas are completely alien to our culture, but because we work constantly to argue against it, expose its inconsistencies and persuade our citizens to counter it. We can no longer count on the country’s leader to do this, so it’s now incumbent upon all of us.

Stephen Introduces His Anthony Scaramucci Impression

Now that Stephen has the impression down, the White House’s new communications director can run but he can’t hide.

We are in the midst of an ideological civil war.  One pitting  hope, empowerment, and self-reliance against defeatist attitudes of fear, entitlement, and victimization.

 

I saw this guy win a game of connect 4 with three pieces.

Misquoted: Live every day as if it were your last.

I hate how that Aurelius quote is always cut off. The full quotation is, “Live every day as if it were your last: without frenzy, without apathy, without pretense.” The point isn’t that you should go party and have fun and not plan for the future, which the additional “without” clauses clarify. Aurelius meant that you should adopt an emotional state of peace and firm dedication. Because most people really would not party on their last day, if they knew. They would go about their business calmly, taking care of the most important priorities, making amends and sharing time with loved ones, ensuring that their affairs were in order and their conscience clean, and appreciating every detail of every moment as if it were infinitely precious. Nothing would upset them unduly because they would know nothing will affect them anymore soon.

Similarly, you probably wouldn’t want to wake up and go to an awful job. If doing your job makes the world a better place, you can justify going because you know you are building a legacy, even with your final moments. If you’re passionate about it, you can justify it. If the job allows you to provide for your loved ones, you would go even on your last day.

So Jobs like many others misunderstood the quote out of context but reached the conclusion Aurelius intended anyway. And that conclusion is good advice! If you’re just doing the minimum to skate by, not really thriving, you’re probably selling yourself short. Unless you have some other reason for working that gives meaning to your life (e.g. kids, funding a passion project/hobby, religion), it’s just not worth going to a shitty job just for the paycheck.

The Blood on a Tax Cut

a cut of taxes that are painless to the small percentage of people who have to pay them — a 0.9 percent Medicare surtax, and 3.8 percent tax on net invested income for couples earning more than $250,000 a year.

.. And it’s not as if there’s been a great hue and cry to repeal those tax increases. “My wealthy clients barely noticed the taxes resulting from the Affordable Care Act and have not needed to make lifestyle adjustments,” wrote the Forbes contributor Carolyn McClanahan, a financial planner.

I bet if you asked rich people if they wanted to cut off health care for millions of their fellow citizens in exchange for a bit more money at the end of the year, most of them would say no, that’s crazy. Taxes don’t register among the top concerns of people, in poll after poll.

Why such a cruel bill, then?

.. “We’re talking about a great, great form of health care,” President Trump said at midweek, with all the conviction of someone peddling the fraud of Trump University.

And you have a Congress that was largely paid for by influential groups for whom tax cuts are the only reason to get out of bed in the morning. Still, we have a moment of rare consensus in this country: An overwhelming majority hates the Republican overhaul. No state in the union has voiced majority support.

Francis: A Third Way

Francis didn’t bother questioning doctrines and dogmas of the Church. He just took the imitation of Christ seriously and tried to live the way that Jesus lived!

.. “You only know as much as you do.” [1] His emphasis on action, practice, and lifestyle was foundational and revolutionary for its time and is at the root of Franciscan alternative orthodoxy. Francis and Clare fell in love with the humanity and humility of Jesus. For them Jesus was someone to actually imitate and not just to worship as divine.

.. I sincerely think Francis found a Third Way, which is the creative and courageous role of a prophet and a mystic. He repeated the foundational message of all prophets: the message and the medium for the message have to be the same thing.

.. The early Franciscan friars and Poor Clares wanted to be Gospel practitioners instead of merely “word police,” “inspectors,” or “museum curators” as Pope Francis calls some clergy.

.. They saw orthopraxy (correct practice) as a necessary parallel, and maybe even precedent, to verbal orthodoxy (correct teaching).

.. As the popular paraphrase of Francis’ Rule goes, “Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.