They Don’t Really Care About You

Obamacare has been with us for over half a decade now. How is the law working? Not very well; terribly, in fact. It is a stupid law, one that was designed stupidly by people who were under the impression that they could craft a hopelessly complex piece of legislation, impose it onto 1/6th of the largest economy on the planet, and that things would go smoothly from then on out. Things have not gone smoothly. The law is very plainly a disaster and it is getting worse with each passing day, even though our impossibly vain president and the half-bright Democratic caucus insist otherwise. Meanwhile, next year is not looking up:

It’s looking like a lot of people are going to have little Obamacare choice next year.

One-third of the United States may have just a single insurer to pick from on Obamacare marketplaces in 2017, an analysis released Friday suggests.

Seven entire states are projected to have just one carrier in 2017: Alaska, Alabama, Kansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Wyoming, according to research by the Avalere consultancy.

And more than half of the country, 55 percent, may end up having two or fewer insurers to choose from on those government-run exchanges, Avalere said.

“And there may be some sub-region counties where no plans are available,” a report by Avalere on its analysis found.

It is worth recalling the great and frenzied public debate that surrounded the drafting, passage and promotion of Obamacare. One side insisted that it would not work; the other side insisted that it would. The latter was clearly wrong and the former was clearly right: the law is not working, it never really worked all that much to begin with, and it will assuredly continue to get worse. Those of us who were opposed to Obamacare back then were derided for being short-sighted, inflexible, ignorant, unable to see outside of a “rigid ideology.” The vindication of the past six years has been bittersweet: we were right, we continue to be right, and all it’s costing us is the stability of the American health care industry and the health of our fellow Americans.

If I sound bitter, it’s because I am somewhat bitter. You should be a little bitter too. The American people have been had: we have been taken for a ride by a dimwitted political ideology that pulls its hair and shrieks and collapses into hysterics every time someone suggests, “Hey, perhaps the government really won’t be able to perform this massive, byzantine, recklessly slapdash undertaking all that well.” That is more or less how this embarrassing failure of a law was passed: by a screeching chorus of  duplicitous con artists who hold your constitutional rights your livelihood and your well-being in utmost contempt. Nancy Pelosi doesn’t care about you; neither does Harry Reid; Barack Obama can barely mask his tired disdain for the American body politic, and it is obvious that he really cares not a whit if you lose your insurance or can’t purchase overpriced health care plans in his government-run marketplaces. These people don’t care. They just wanted to pass a stupid law, one that they thought would cement their otherwise-unremarkable and forgettable professional legacies. It does not matter to them if you can’t get health insurance. It does not matter to them if you’re left worse off because of their actions.

We are stuck with this law for a long time: certainly for the next four years, probably for well over the next decade at the very least. Maybe it will never go away. There is also the strong possibility that it will eventually be replaced by single-payer healthcare, a policy which has haunted the American progressive imagination for a century. I have argued before that there is at least tangential evidence that this law was designed deliberately poorly in order to facilitate a quicker and easier transition to a full government takeover of the health care industry. That may be the case. But the more likely possibility is this: Obamacare is just another law, designed by people who are not very intelligent, championed by people who don’t care about the deleterious outcomes of their policies, and foisted upon a public that will have to suffer under its consequences for years and years. This is America under the Affordable Care Act; this is where we live now.

Dare Not Speak, Nor Identify

Kim Kardashian recently announced that she does not consider herself a feminist, a declaration that is perfectly understandable: as my colleague Bre Payton points out, feminism, like most leftist identity politics, has largely become “a contest of who-can-rack-up-the-most-victim-points” rather than any genuinely meaningful or practical movement. It’s why you see the larger movement fracturing into vicious tribalistic sub-groups: “white feminism,” the “cis” thing, numerous ethnic minority offshoots, the countless other “intersectional” variances that balkanize women based upon superficial differences and then systematically turn those same women into snarling bitches pitted against each other. Who would want to be called a “feminist” under such conditions? Not Kim Kardashian; not most people, as a matter of fact.

Nevertheless, a number of feminists were very angry that Kim had decided to, you know, not call herself a feminist. They declared, variously: “Someone please explain to Kim Kardashian that she’s a feminist—and that’s OK” (Quartz). “Sorry to break it to you, Kim, but you are a feminist” (Mashable). “Kim Kardashian Is a Feminist, Even If She Doesn’t Like the Word” (Heat Street). “No pressure, Kim, but it really sounds like you’re a feminist” (Glamour). New York Magazine called her “the embodiment of feminism.” Refinery29 said it was “infuriating” that she refused to call herself a word. At the Oregonian, they smugly rejected Kardashian’s request, saying: “We might not call you the f-e-m-word out loud but…I think, in our hearts, we all know what you really are.” At Marie Clare: “Kim may not be ready to call herself a feminist, but we think—by definition—she most certainly is.” Business Insider: “Kim Kardashian is a feminist but refuses to call herself one.” (That last piece has a quote from erstwhile Harry Potter star Emma Watson: “[I]f you stand for equality, then you’re a feminist. Sorry to tell you. You’re a feminist. You’re a feminist. That’s it.”)

It is sad but at the same time darkly funny to see modern feminism continue to collapse into a neurotic, bullying, haranguing mess of an ideology. Kardashian has decided to identify herself precisely the way she wants to identify herself, nothing more and nothing less, and what does feminism say in response? “Uh, sorry, you can’t do that.” A movement that declares women can do whatever they want and be whoever they want nonetheless declares that women must label themselves in this one particular way. These constant demands for women to call themselves “feminists” strike a small but still rather critical blow against women’s autonomy and authority: in the eyes of modern feminists, a woman can chart her own path so long as she affixes herself to the correct and approved ideology: feminism.

I’m not positive, but one suspects the problem would be less pronounced if feminism were not called “feminism;” if the “femi-” prefix were not present, you might not see this kind of low-grade psychosis infecting the debate. Feminists have become obsessively fixated on that one word rather than the values it is supposed to represent. In doing so, they have betrayed those very values—demanding that women conform their lives and their minds around the insanely delicate sensibilities of feminists themselves. Is it any wonder less and less people want to be called “feminist?” Why associate yourself with such intolerance and narrow-minded parochialism?

Sweeping It Under the Laundry Pile

I recently wrote a treatise on the need to root out and expose hoaxes, so I like to think of myself as someone who is at the very least skeptical of fantastical or otherwise astonishing stories. Just the same, I find Juanita Broaddrick’s claim—that Bill Clinton raped her in a hotel room in the late 1970s—to be fairly credulous, insofar as it seems like something Bill Clinton would do. But the Bill-Clinton-raped-Juanita-Broaddrick story presents a problem for the Hillary Clinton campaign, insofar as Hillary is supposed to be running as the First Female President, a Champion of Women and Girls whose candidacy will be a Great Heroic Feminist Victory for Women Everywhere. You can’t really run such a campaign with any credibility when you’ve built your political career off the coattails of your alleged rapist husband whom you allegedly enabled.

To her credit (or maybe to the credit of her handlers, I don’t know), Clinton seems to understand this:

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton‘s campaign reportedly made some edits to the campus sexual assault page on its website shortly after a viral tweet from Juanita Broaddrick, Buzzfeed News reported.

The Democratic nominee’s campaign deleted the line, “You have the right to be believed,” from the page on its site, though there is still video of Clinton saying it.

The website originally read: “I want to send a message to every survivor of sexual assault: Don’t let anyone silence your voice. You have the right to be heard. You have the right to be believed, and we’re with you,” quoting Clinton.

The last part of the quote has since been removed.

Good grief—that’s all it takes, huh? There are two lessons to draw from this. The first is this: it seems fairly obvious that Hillary Clinton is not, in any practical or meaningful sense, on the side of sexual assault victims. To be perfectly fair, “you have the right to be believed” is a stupid and unworkable statement to begin with—it makes no sense from a legal perspective, and it is philosophically incoherent to boot (credulity is not a human right). But that was still Hillary’s position, and one she stood by until it was politically inconvenient for her to do so—right up to the moment when the alleged victim of her husband’s sexual predation spoke up and said, “Believe me.”

Yet is anyone really surprised? Did anyone really doubt that Hillary Clinton would throw a victim of sexual assault under the bus, if said victim stood in the way of her insatiable lust for power?

The other, sadder thing to learn from this whole debacle is this: Hillary is a profoundly weak political candidate, a demonstrable coward who will quickly back away from just about any position if it can be effectively turned against her. We could have nominated almost anyone to take her on—Cruz, Rubio, Walker, even Jeb Bush—and they would have been able to use her cowardice and her political ineptitude against her without even breaking much of a sweat. Instead, the Republican Party nominated Donald Trump, a man who seems almost genetically engineered to lose to the most unlikable and unpleasant Democratic nominee in several generations. Well done, GOP!

Elsewhere, the whip-smart website Wonkette announced: “Let’s talk about Juanita Broaddrick.” Sure, let’s:

I can absolutely see Bill Clinton doing this (then, not now) and not even thinking of it as rape, but thinking of it as dominant, alpha sex. I can see a LOT of men doing that during that time period, before we started telling them in the ’80s, “hey, that is rape, do not do that.” I can see YOUR NICE GRANDPA doing that, back then.

Let us concede that, yes, the times have changed, and that awareness of rape—and of what constitutes rape—is probably much broader than it was “then.” That being said, does anyone honestly believe that Bill Clinton—a Rhodes Scholar, then-Attorney General of Arkansas and by all accounts a very intelligent person—could possibly mistake rape for “dominant, alpha sex?” It seems highly unlikely, in fact it almost defies plausibility. It is a wonder the horrors people are willing to excuse when it comes to the Clintons: alleged rape, sexual predation, serial dishonesty, lying to the family members of slain soldiers, and so forth. Both Bill and Hillary Clinton exude an incredibly weird charisma that causes people to look the other way on their profound and relentless moral failings. Feminists in particular seem very eager to excuse the obvious sexual misconduct and impropriety (and alleged assault) that has marked most of Bill Clinton’s professional career and private life.

But I actually have a theory to that effect: I think there is a chance that once Hillary becomes president (or perhaps once she secures her second term), Bill’s political usefulness will finally come to an end; his influence and his charm will have finally given Hillary what she has always wanted (she could have had it no other way), and both she and the rest of liberal America will finally reject and disavow Bill for his reprehensible and inexcusable conduct. Feminists may be wrong and/or dreadfully illogical on a great many things, but perhaps they know how to play the long game better than we give them credit for.

Farewell on a Hillside at Dusk

The culture of death is turning over a new leaf: it is taking death and making it into a kind of grotesque tea party of an occasion. You can see it in the new-wave revelatory rhetoric surrounding abortion, the kind of neurotic feminist elevation of abortion from a deadly medical procedure to a life-affirming experience of womanly empowerment. Out of California comes another wrinkle in the death brigade, a young woman who tried to turn her suicide into a block party bash:

In early July, Betsy Davis emailed her closest friends and relatives to invite them to a two-day party, telling them: ‘These circumstances are unlike any party you have attended before, requiring emotional stamina, centeredness and openness.’

And just one rule: No crying in front of her.

The 41-year-old artist with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, held the gathering to say goodbye before becoming one of the first Californians to take a lethal dose of drugs under the state’s new doctor-assisted suicide law for the terminally ill.

‘For me and everyone who was invited, it was very challenging to consider, but there was no question that we would be there for her,’ said Niels Alpert, a cinematographer from New York City.

‘The idea to go and spend a beautiful weekend that culminates in their suicide — that is not a normal thing, not a normal, everyday occurrence. In the background of the lovely fun, smiles and laughter that we had that weekend was the knowledge of what was coming.’

This is indeed “not a normal thing,” in fact it is a ghastly thing, and perhaps the most terrible detail of the affair is the “no crying” rule: a woman pledges to commit suicide and then orders her friends and family to refrain from the most natural and understandable display of emotional under the circumstances. I have argued before that this type of suicidal impulse is ultimately motivated by selfishness—by people who would rather die a few weeks or months ahead of schedule rather than give their families the supreme and utterly unique gift of providing the sick person with tender palliative care. Yet selfishness is one thing, but “no crying before I kill myself” is another thing entirely, a more bitter and, as it were, cowardly gesture: Betsy Davis—a woman who, to be sure, suffered greatly and surely would have continued to suffer—was apparently so afraid of the consequences of her own decision that she forbid her loved ones to cry in front of her.

If you wish to see the future of the culture of death, you can probably find no better example than poor Betsy Davis’s “rebirth” party, an incidence of suicide which one partygoer termed a “work of art:” a woman decides to kill herself, and invites people to show up and throw a party about it, and everyone has to check their tears at the door. In a world in which taking one’s own life is seen as “taking charge,” what else are you to expect? It is a wonder that, presumably, not one of the guests in attendance tried to convince her not to kill herself—apparently nobody sat down with Davis and pleaded with her, “Please, give me the honor of caring for you until you die naturally.” Could nobody be bothered to speak up, to assure her that her precious life was still one of inestimable value? Apparently not, for she is gone. I guess her friends and family are now free to cry over her death. Eventually they will have to decide what to make of themselves for participating in a suicide bash as if it were just another Saturday afternoon cookout.

You Are Not Above This

Perhaps you watched, and were suitably bored and disgusted by, the latest season of the Bachelorette, a series that—along with its companion show, the Bachelor—features a parade of half-bright male bimbos and dimwitted drama queens acting out unconvincing fake romances. It turns out that there’s another iteration of this interminable show, know as Bachelor in Paradise, in which the losers of previous seasons are transported to tropical locations and are compelled to have lots of sex with each other. That’s pretty much the entire gist of the show—some people call it “Fuck Island” because of the base, perverted bacchanalia of it all—but of course they try and inject it with some kind of meaning, and of course it’s all very tiresome and useless.

At the Huffington Post, a trio of enterprising young Millennials asks why Bachelor in Paradise is “giving potentially abusive men a platform.” (“This isn’t fun anymore,” adds a subhead, as if it was ever really all that much fun.) The authors have a problem with this season’s Paradise insofar as it has given screen time to two idiots: dead-eyed muscle man Chad Johnson and ex-baseball player Josh Murray. It would be difficult to pick out either of these guys within a large group of white men; indeed, it really would be hard to pick them out from a group of cardboard refrigerator boxes. But the ostensible appeal of both of these men seems to rest on their “bad boy” status: Chad is an aggressive, lumbering bullock of a man, and Josh is reportedly an emotionally abusive jerk. The folks at HuffPo are having none of it:

Some things should be worth more than ratings. The “Bachelor” franchise might not agree, but the show now risks alienating a huge swathe of its fan base by clogging up episode after episode with aggressive men obfuscating and being excused for their dangerous behavior. What would it actually take for “Bachelor in Paradise” to draw a line? At this point, even persistent verbal abuse, violent threats and physical aggression on camera haven’t crossed their line.

Please, ABC: Address this insidious problem before the franchise is irredeemably poisoned. Hopefully it’s not already too late.

The authors left out one critical plot point: in addition to the rest of his nasty behavior, at one point Chad got falling-down drunk, fell asleep and allegedly pooped in his pants!

In any event, it is something of a wonder that anyone thinks Bachelor in Paradise could somehow be “irredeemably poisoned;” that is to say, it is incredible that somebody out there thinks this show was pure and un-poisoned to begin with. Here is a very shocking announcement: the entire Bachelor franchise—or at the very least, Bachelor in Paradise—was already sleazy and nasty; it was already a cesspool of foul debauchery and low-life turpitude. That’s what drives the ratings: shallow, half-bright doofuses making out and having sex and squabbling and getting drunk. To the extent that these “aggressive men” “poison” the show, it is a purely aesthetic and, as it were, insulting upshot: they act like boorish, idiotic louts, but it is also so patently and obviously fake and contrived that we feel offended just watching it.

Every iteration of Bachelor needs a villain—either an imbecilic muscle-bound clod-man or a scheming backstabbing Queen Bitch to spice things up—so this is hardly new. But these stupid characters on this already-stupid show are still rather pathetic, even within the already-pathetic realm of reality television. I guess it speaks to the natural human inclination to separate and demarcate “good guys” and “bad guys:” the ones who behave themselves and the ones who cuss at women and then crap their pants. Or maybe pants-poopers and emotional abusers just make for good and interesting television in a way that eludes me.

Then again, who am I to talk? I watch the damn show, I can’t look away, and I, too, am scandalized by Chad’s destructive behavior. Thank goodness they sent him home.

Trump Courts the Vote

Conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt recently took us #NeverTrumpers to task (including quite pointedly my Federalist colleague and Grand High NeverTrump Headman Tom Nichols) over the matter of the Supreme Court, “the fate of” which Hewitt considers reason enough to cast your vote for the most reprehensible presidential candidate of the past few generations. Professor Nichols notes, correctly, that Trump might just start a nuclear war while he blunders around the Oval Office, but Hewitt isn’t buying it, and he just can’t shake the idea that the Court is the place in which Trump will prove his worth:

[M]ost of the “the Supreme Court doesn’t do it for me” Trump opponents don’t use the “nuclear war looms” argument. Rather, most of the critics of the “save the Supreme Court” argument avoid dealing with the argument by stating flatly that you can’t trust Trump to follow through and select nominees to the Supreme Court from the list of 11 potential nominees Trump provided this spring. They argue that Trump nominees might be as bad as Clinton nominees.

To which I respond: First, you don’t really believe that, do you? And second, and more to your stated objection, you don’t have to trust him. If he breaks from that list, the GOP-led Senate will be within its rights to refuse to consider the nominee given how central the pledge was to the campaign. The court will remain at its 4-3-1 semi-static position but will not veer off the “living Constitution” cliff.

First, a few practical matters: why does Hewitt think the GOP will remain in control of the Senate? Trump’s candidacy and eventually his presidency could decimate the GOP’s numbers in that branch of Congress in 2016, in 2018, even in 2020. A Democrat-controlled Senate could very easily bork any nominees Trump put up for consideration (or else just affirm them if they’re liberal enough, which they almost certainly will be). Also—and this is a bit of a stretch, but still perfectly within the realm of Trumpian behavior—there is a not-insignificant possibility that Trump, upon being confronted by a hostile parliamentary process, could just order his nominee to ascend to the Court anyway. This was actually a serious idea entertained by serious people during the Merrick Garland controversy. Is there any indication that Trump, a man with the intellect of a small child and the prickly vanity of an incompetent monarch, would respect the separation of powers much at all, especially when the political winds are blowing that way to begin with?

But most importantly: why does Hewitt think it so self-evident that Trump’s nominees will be more conservative than Clinton’s? Trump himself is not conservative; he has repeatedly, openly and deliberately broken with conservative orthodoxy countless times over the course of his candidacy. He has no real awareness of what conservatism is, no real desire to find out, and no real ability to do so anyway: he is more ignorant of, close-minded towards and incapable of learning about conservatism than any Republican nominee in the party’s history. To top it all off, he is a serial liar and a man who delights in doing things precisely his own way, in spite of—probably because of—the wishes of those around him. Why should we trust such a man to do right by the conservative movement, a movement he has hijacked and for which he quite obviously feels a barely-disguised disdain? What serious person believes Donald Trump and takes him at his word?

Oh, and there is also the strong possibility that he will start a nuclear war and annihilate our species. Between the Supreme Court and the extinction of human life on planet Earth, I’d say you have enough reasons not to vote for this loathsome little man.

The Engine of Regression

Much of the climate change debate is fought over things like wind turbines and “sustainable agriculture” and gray water usage in residential developments—all interesting stuff, to be sure, and some of it is even important. But that’s never been the end-goal of climate politics. The big prize has always been more substantial than green energy ballyhoos, and more punishing. Don’t you doubt it:

Climate change scientists have warned it may be nearly impossible to keep global warming below the 1.5C target set at the Paris negotiations in December after temperatures peaked at 1.38C above pre-industrial levels in February and March.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is due to meet in Geneva this month to outline how the Paris deal, which slashed the limit from 2C to 1.5C, will be implemented.

However co-chair of the IPCC working group on adaptation to climate change, Stanford University Professor Chris Field, told the newspaper staying below 1.5C looked “impossible or at the very least, a very, very difficult task”.

Targets for bringing an end to the use of coal-powered fire stations and the combustion engine are reported to be on the likely agenda in Geneva.

The Paris accords were always more or less a showboat affair, a kind of stopgap effort to edge the needle a little closer to the end-goal. What is that goal? “[A]n end to the use of coal-powered fire stations and the combustion engine.” This isn’t conspiracy theorizing; we don’t have to speculate on what it is precisely that the folks at the IPCC really want to do. An end to coal power and combustion engines—i.e., two of the principle sources of modern first-world living standards. This is on the table; it is something actually up for debate, which is—to say the least—a bit alarming.

Is such a measure likely to pass? Almost certainly not: the ambitions of climate alarmism usually shrivel in the face of the practical effects of its real-world application. People prefer cheap electricity to the expensive algae-fueled stuff, and they’re not likely to switch from their comfortable sedans and SUVs to solar-powered rickshaws anytime soon. But these proposals nonetheless serve as a useful reminder for the ultimate aims of the climate movement, which turn not on little adjustments to municipal utility efficiency but rather the scrapping of everything that makes modern life possible and replacing those things with dubious, costly, inefficient alternatives.  Remember that the next time someone tries to convince you that the climate agenda is either moderate or currently feasible. It is, in the end, neither.

At Least Our Grease is Prime

Is it possible for fast food to be healthy? I don’t think so, for reasons I will explain, but companies like McDonald’s ostensibly believe the answer is “yes.” To be perfectly honest I am not sure those guys even believe their own ad copy, but at least for now they want their consumers to believe it:

McDonald’s Corp. said Monday it will replace high-fructose corn syrup in its sandwich buns with sugar as part of an effort to simplify its ingredients and satisfy increasingly conscientious customers.

The fast-food giant also is rolling out Chicken McNuggets and some breakfast items free of artificial preservatives and said it has curbed the use of chicken raised with antibiotics that are also commonly used on humans a year earlier than planned.

Mike Andres, president of McDonald’s U.S. operations, said the “sweeping change” will affect 50% of the menu. McDonald’s is in the midst of an attempted turnaround designed to satisfy diners who have asked it to do away with ingredients including high-fructose corn syrup, which some research suggests may cause weight gain and diabetes.

Perhaps the most important thing for customers to realize is this: McDonald’s does not care that much, if at all, about healthy food. If they did, they wouldn’t be McDonald’s. The changes they are making are from a purely pecuniary perspective: they see a growing market and they want to corner it to some degree. This in and of itself is not a bad thing; corporations like McDonald’s are beholden to stockholders, and their job is to make money, not make good feelings or good pancreases. But it is also worth keeping in mind that Mike Andres and his buddies are not interested in preventing weight gain and diabetes so much as they are interested in selling you food at a good profit.

Which is why this whole thing feels like a sham: not because the high officials of McDonald’s Corp. are necessarily dishonest or duplicitous, but because fast food is not, nor has it ever been, a vehicle for healthy food, nor will it ever be. That’s not the way it was designed; its animating principle is not health but speed, convenience and ubiquity. Genuine healthy food is not something that can be industrialized; good nourishment simply does not conform to the logic of mass-market eating. This, again, is not a moral commentary on fast food; it is, rather, a technical commentary on the fast food system, the fundamental unhealthiness of which does not turn on one or two ingredients like corn syrup or preservatives.

Here is a general prescription for how to eat healthy: buy high-quality healthy raw ingredients from the grocery store and the farmers’ markets and cook your meals at home. That’s it; that’s the only surefire way to really have a good diet. You can certainly eat out once in a while and still be healthy; you can even get a Quarter Pounder every now and then and be okay. But the secret to healthy eating is stupidly, almost frustratingly simple: buy good things and cook them yourself. These clumsy efforts to mass produce healthy food are a good cultural sign—it shows that more consumers are at least moderately concerned about eating good food—but it is still almost meaningless from a practical perspective.

I could be off by a few percentage points, but here is a wild guess: the menu changes at McDonald’s will make roughly 0% of its customers any healthier. It is a marketing ploy, not a recipe for a good physical constitution. McDonald’s is perfectly welcome to adopt such a publicity scheme, of course—but it would be wise for the rest of us to stop looking for health inside a box of Chicken McNuggets. It is not in there, and it never will be.

Your Kind Isn’t Welcome Here

I have argued in the past that much of the current American gun control debate is driven by rank stupidity and ignorance. But there may be a new strain of anti-gun progressive ideology emerging on the Left, one that is not simply opposed to widespread civilian gun ownership but rather to the very idea of firearms—not merely the idea of owning firearms, mind you, but rather the idea of the idea of owning them:

[For Anne Verrill], the slaughter in Orlando was different. It was the deadliest mass public shooting in American history. Ms. Verrill wanted to do something that she thought might make a difference and set an example for her children.

So she again turned to the universal soapbox of Facebook. This time she took a stand, knowing it could hurt her business in a pro-gun, largely rural state, where hunting and target practice are immensely popular and where the political schisms run deep.

She wrote that anyone who owned a high-powered semiautomatic rifle similar to the one used in Orlando was not welcome in either of her two restaurants. That was not all: She would not welcome anyone who merely supported the idea of owning such a weapon.

Here is a legitimate, non-snarky, non-rhetorical question: is there a precedent for this kind of behavior in American political thought and political action? I am not sure. I ask in part because I can see this kind of thing catching on. American history is certainly littered with similar (though assuredly not identical) acts of prejudice—banning black people from lunch counters and other public accommodations, for instance—but did American segregationists ever go to far as to ban people who merely supported the idea of racial integration inside their own minds?

As I said, I could see this becoming a regular feature of American life: the gradual exclusion of gun owners and gun-rights supporters from polite society, the penalization of even thinking about guns in the wrong way, eventually the marginalization of the pro-gun position from rational and thoughtful debate. You can certainly see such a zeitgeist taking place on such topics like gay marriage and climate change—subjects in which dissent is proposed to be punished with punitive taxation or else outright criminalization, variously. Gun rights could face a similar fate. Increasingly liberals are fed up with a diverse and pluralistic society featuring multiple beliefs and opinions and modes of thought: if you take the wrong position—on guns, on gays, on global warming—you will be made to pay for it.

I do believe, of course, that Anne Verrill is perfectly within her rights to institute such a ban in her restaurant. Indeed, any restaurant owner should be allowed to do so. But it does not do well for their case in the end: if the point is to force Americans to give up their gun rights, it falls flat. Who on Earth would want to surrender the best means to self-defense in the face of this rising tide of intolerant bigotry? Not me.

Get With the Program, Idiot

At NPR, Adam Frank thinks he has found a “remarkable inconsistency” of “climate denial.” His argument essentially boils down to this: “climate deniers” are dissidents when it comes to the science of climate change but credulous when it comes to other types of science—medical science for when they get sick, for instance, or the chemical sciences that make air conditioning and refrigeration possible. Dissenters on climate change orthodoxy, Frank argues, “benefit from science everyday,” and yet they also “somehow manage to find a place in their heads to simultaneously reject it.”

This is all very silly, chiefly because Frank’s argument is less an effort to discern a true problem with popular scientific discourse and more an effort to say the word “science” as many times as possible in order to feel like part of a special in-group. On the main, people like Adam Frank aren’t really interested in convincing others to believe this or that scientific tenet or conclusion; they are more interested in pointing to a particular strata of society and saying, “Those people are stupider than me; they ‘reject’ ‘science,’ and that makes them dumb, while I ‘accept’ ‘science’ and that makes me smart.” This is not a good-faith argument; it’s not even an argument per se, but rather an alignment of certain social indicators and a showboating of certain hollow and self-aggrandizing values.

Adam Frank provides us with proof enough to conclude as much:

The basic dilemma of climate denial is that, for decades, science has pointed to two very clear conclusions. First is the overwhelming evidence that the planet is warming. Second is the overwhelming evidence that the warming is due to human activity (mostly in the form of greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel use).

The truth of these claims is getting bolded and underlined as 2016 is on track to be the hottest recorded year ever for the planet. The last hottest year on record was 2015 (you know you’re in trouble if the hottest year ever is always this one now). In addition to the temperature records, every climate observatory in the world is now recording CO2 greenhouse gas levels higher than any time in the last 4 million years.

In the face of these facts, climate denialists claim that the science is somehow mistaken or it’s a deliberate hoax…

As an aside, it’s important to notice that, whenever claims about “the hottest year on record” are trotted out, there is very rarely any evidence, or even a hyperlink, offered to back these claims up. Why? Because the term “the hottest year on record” is meant to invoke blistering 99-degree heat waves 11 months out of the year throughout the planet, rather than the much more mundane, ho-hum and scientifically dubious truth: a mild temperature anomaly deviating from a baseline average from an abnormally-cool sample stretch of decades from the last part of the 19th century or the first half of the 20th century. That’s not nearly as exciting or alarming.

In any event, we can see why Adam Frank is not really all that interested in engaging with so-called “climate deniers.” In his mind, “deniers” only comprise two subsets of belief: that the science is either wrong or fake. But anyone who has engaged with a large-enough amount of climate change skeptics knows that this is a woefully incomplete accounting of the positions of the “denialists.” Most skeptics I know are perfectly willing to accept the proposition that the planet is warming up. But there are those of us who are doubtful about trusting the long-term projections of the climate models, given how frequently those climate models have turned out to be wrong; there are those of us who think that the proposed efforts to combat climate change (heavy taxation on carbon-based fuel, a switch to “renewable” energies, forced adoption of “greener” technology) are simply far too extravagant and potentially devastating simply to fight a problem that is very likely vastly overstated; there are those of us who are suspicious of the utterly unprecedented (and still more or less unexplained) global warming “pause” or “slowdown,” a phenomenon which took place over the past two decades while humanity’s C02 output increased by a very substantial amount over the same time period; there are plenty of other reasonable objections and concerns held by very smart and thoughtful people, if one is interested in engaging with such arguments. Adam Frank is clearly not. Most people who blubber the word “science” at every opportunity aren’t, either.

There are surely more than a few people who honestly believe that climate change is a vast faked conspiracy put upon us by lizard men and new world order illuminati or whatever. But you’re probably not going to reach those people anyhow, no matter what you say. If one wants to have a real honest conversation about climate change, one should be prepared to concede some certain base-level facts. For skeptics, it would be good to acknowledge that, yes, scientific studies have compellingly demonstrated an increase in Earth’s average temperature in recent decades. For sneering, self-congratulatory babblers of “science,” it might be good to acknowledge that simply because a person disagrees with your vain presuppositions doesn’t mean he or she is an idiotic buffoon.