Morning Ed: Family {2018.06.01.F}

[Fa1] Leslie Loftis looks at the history of court custody laws and its role in fatherlessness.

[Fa2] Meanwhile, a soldier overseas learned that his baby was stillborn. This turned out to be twice wrong: The baby was sold to another couple, and wasn’t his.

[Fa3] A look at how Israel has uniquely avoided the fertility cliff. Meanwhile, in the US having lots of kids is apparently the province of the generally poor and very rich.

[Fa4] When your dad’s a serial killer.

[Fa5] I hadn’t thought it through before, but of course all this genetic testing is destroying sperm donor confidentiality.

[Fa6] Rob Henderson explains how being a foster child made him conservative.

[Fa7] I’m not sure if I object to the nepotism or not, but this is bad party management. Find the most charismatic and electable state senator and give them an incumbency advantage in 2020, is the spart route.

[Fa8] The laws here are ambiguous and the consequences worrying. But don’t worry, I’m sure enforcement doesn’t disproportionately fall onto disadvantaged groups.

[Fa9] A fascinating look at day care fees in Germany.

[Fa0]


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Will Truman is the pseudonym of a former para-IT professional who is presently a stay-at-home father in the Mountain East. He has moved around frequently, having lived in six places since 2003, ranging from rural outposts to major metropolitan areas. He is also on Twitter. ...more →

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52 thoughts on “Morning Ed: Family {2018.06.01.F}

  1. Fa1:

    It was reported everywhere, and since it confirmed prevailing media biases, it felt too good to fact-check.

    The bane of the softer sciences everywhere (it can also be a bane of hard sciences, but it’s usually easier to fact check and typically the negative impacts to society are much less).

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    • Some of it is fact checking (though some not, since it seems like journalists are even less likely to understand what people in the hard sciences are talking about).

      A lot of it is salience.

      If a popular publication mangles a report about, I dunno, lattice QCD, well, no one is going to care except people who really dig science because, uh, lattice QCD.

      But if it says all your preconceptions about money/sex/race/adorable puppies are right (or wrong), it will be all over everybody’s Facebook feed 11 seconds after it hits CNN’s web page.

      See how pretty much everybody has decided that the Puerto Rico study says exactly how many people died following Maria, instead of what it actually says, which is it was a horrifyingly large number, but we can’t really say much more than that.

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  2. Fa2: Its amazing that people think they could get away with doing things like this. Why certainly I can hide the fact that I cheated on my husband by saying the baby died but really selling it to somebody else. Who will ever know?

    Fa3: Israel’s ability to avoid the fertility cliff does not seem replicable. Most countries aren’t going to have the sense of cohesive identity and national mission to overcome the natural trend regarding fertility. Even after the Holocaust, most Jews outside of Israel seemed to have lower fertility rates than other people during the Baby Boom years. Its why some Jewish leaders warned against “giving Hitler a posthumous victory.”

    Fa4: Sometimes you meet somebody who brings out the best in you and you in them. Other times you meet somebody and both of you end up as monsters. Maybe Michael and Susan Carson were always rotters but both seemed to be normal before they met each other. Something in them triggered each other into becoming murderers.

    Fa8: When I was in the upper elementary school and middle school, my parents would leave Saul and I unattended for a bit if they wanted a date night or had plans during the evening. We could also walk into town ourself during weekends. Sometime I left for college, states criminalized this. The entire Free Range Kid movement seemed really strange until I learned they were going against actual laws.

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    • Fa8: When I was in the upper elementary school and middle school, my parents would leave Saul and I unattended for a bit if they wanted a date night or had plans during the evening. We could also walk into town ourself during weekends. Sometime I left for college, states criminalized this. The entire Free Range Kid movement seemed really strange until I learned they were going against actual laws.

      In my preteens and early teens, my parents had a beach condo which, for reasons that make sense only to a teenager, I hated to go to. At age 12 I was deemed old enough to stay in the house on my own for the whole weekend. There was food I could microwave when I was hungry, or use my pocket money allowance to eat at a nearby diner, go to the movies or whatever.

      We all thought it was a win win arrangement. I was excused from going to the hated beach, and my parents were spared me pouting and complaining all the time.

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  3. Fa6: This jumped out at me:

    Last year, a fellow student told me I was a victim. Yale is the only place where someone has said this to me. I responded that if someone had told me I was a victim when I was a kid, I would never have made it to the Air Force, where I served for eight years, or to Yale. I would have given up.

    I am beginning to find the term ‘victim’ to have a highly negative social and psychological value. Being a victim alludes to being powerless in the face of an act carried out against you, and relying on others to take care of you. I was a victim of violent bullying growing up. I was a victim of poverty. Both statements are true, but leave me feeling as if there was then/is now nothing I could/can do.

    But that isn’t true. I experienced violent bullying. I experienced poverty. Both things happened, but made me a stronger, more resilient person.

    I was a victim of a traumatic motor vehicle accident, for all of about 10 days, then they released me from the hospital and I started learning how to walk again, and how to take care of myself in my new reality, and I began to heal and recover and put my life back together. From that point on, I was no longer a victim, just someone who experienced a traumatic MVA.

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    • I think it depends. Also he could be a victim without realizing it. Maybe the term survivor is better though.

      Humans don’t seem very good at realizing their limits or acknowledging what happened to them. I’m not sure if this is an issue of cognitive dissonance, a survival mechanism, various cultural attitudes, or a combination.

      Here is a less charged example. There are a lot of academic research that shows that human productivity drops dramatically after 40-50 hours of work per a week. But lots of people by choice and/or by force, work more than 50 hours a week. Some jobs have cultures where 60-90 hours of work per a week are the norm and expected. I will grant that there are some people who might just be outside of the curve and can function will and without as much sleep. But how many people who pride themselves on working 70 hours a week and doing constant late-nights at the office are deluding themselves? My guess is that it has to be a lot. The science is the science but you will never convince these people that they are wrong or that their work gets sloppy. But as lawyer, I can generally tell when my opponents are writing something early in the week or day or they are writing something at the end of the day or week. It isn’t super-bad but there are a lot of silly mistakes. The same is true for my writing as well.

      I know people whose experience as foster-children turned them into super-liberals. So the same experiences/backgrounds or close enough ones can result in two people becoming completely different. Such is the variety of human life.

      TL/DR, the author can be a victim of his experiences without realizing it or wanting to acknowledge it.

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      • I’m not saying he wasn’t a victim, I’m pushing back against the idea that being a victim should have any value much beyond the time that the ‘bad things’ stopped happening.

        To riff of your comment, at some point, a person has to transition from victim to survivor.

        If a person was assaulted 3 years ago, and they are still going around tell people they were a victim of assault, I’m going to wonder why they haven’t gotten help and started living again. A survivor of assault, however, experienced the event, and either began to heal on their own, or they got help and began to heal that way.

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        • “much beyond the time that the ‘bad things’ stopped happening.”

          The bad things stopped happening concretely for me about 6 years ago, or maybe 20 years ago, or maybe 29 years ago, depending on which bad things you’re talking about.

          But they literally shaped my entire childhood and fucked up my development. However you measure it, we’re talking decades of intermittent abuse and, occasionally, outright torture and life-threatening violence. *Despite* how much healing and improvement I’ve had in the last few years, or the last six, or the last twenty — inside me, there are still plenty of bad things happening and the best I can *hope for* is that in 6 weeks, or 2 years, or 10 years, there will be many fewer.

          It took me 35 years to even admit to anyone other than myself the worst of what happened to me. I’m going to call myself a goddamn victim for as long as i want.

          And I don’t think trying to figure out whether other people should use this word or the other word based on our own sketchy understanding of their experience is nearly as productive as deciding what words to use for yourself.

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      • I know people whose experience as foster-children turned them into super-liberals. So the same experiences/backgrounds or close enough ones can result in two people becoming completely different. Such is the variety of human life.

        Yeah, that was a bit of an odd essay to me. In particular the bit from here on through the next couple of paragraphs:

        One piece of inherited wisdom is the value of the two-parent family. It’s not fashionable to talk about this. How people raise their children is a matter of preference. But it is not really up for debate that the two-parent home is, on average, better for children.

        From there, he gives no particular line of reasoning on why he ended up going with the conservative “therefore we should punish people for splitting up” rather than the liberal “therefore we should do what we can to mitigate the difficulties of children who grow up without two parents”

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        • he gives no particular line of reasoning on why he ended up going with the conservative “therefore we should punish people for splitting up” rather than the liberal “therefore we should do what we can to mitigate the difficulties of children who grow up without two parents”

          I read his “conservatism” more as, “individual responsibility is important” than as any statement about what types of divorce laws or incentives he’d support:

          Along with taking accumulated wisdom seriously, I understand conservative philosophy to mean that the role of the individual in making decisions and undertaking obligations is paramount. Individuals have rights. But they also have responsibilities.

          For instance, when I say parents should prioritize their children over their careers, there is a sense of unease among my peers. They think I want to blame individuals rather than a nebulous foe like poverty. They are mostly right.

          I do agree, though, that “conservative” in his sense doesn’t tell us much about what type of policy solutions we should have. I could see someone with his views still taking very liberal positions when it comes to aid to needy persons, to health care provision, to….frankly all sorts of positions that liberals in general take. And because the writer doesn’t, at least not in that article, explain his policy preferences, it’s quite possible that his “conservatism” is only conservatism because it’s juxtaposed to a certain kind of “live and let live” attitude of the sort he claims to have encountered at Yale.

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          • And because the writer doesn’t, at least not in that article, explain his policy preferences, it’s quite possible that his “conservatism” is only conservatism because it’s juxtaposed to a certain kind of “live and let live” attitude of the sort he claims to have encountered at Yale.

            I find it interesting that he apparently skimmed right past the fact that his adoptive parents were a gay couple, or rather, because it was the mid-2000 and gay people couldn’t get married or adopt their partner’s children easily, his adoptive mother was one half of a gay couple.

            I mean, it’s possible that I’m misreading ‘My adoptive mother and her partner’ and how they ‘experienced homophobia’. But I don’t think so.

            So, basically, this guy is asserting that he’s conservative because he thinks that two-parent households should raise children, while at the same time he, himself, the actual writer of this piece, was denied from technically _having_ two parents because of anti-gay marriage and gay-adoption laws forbid his loving adoptive mother from marrying her partner and that partner from also adopting him.

            Who was it against gay marriage and gay adoption in the early- to mid-2000 again? Conservatives or liberals? I forget.

            I think this entire article can be summed up with one phrase: College students have no sense of history at all, often even history they literally lived through.

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            • Because the author wrote in May 2018 and because he seems to qualify what he means by conservative, I’m willing to say he’s not opposed to gay marriage. Maybe I’m wrong. Even if I am, I think I can infer that he is opposed to homophobia. And while he’s not clear exactly on what his policy preferences are, he does sketch what he means by “conservative” in such a way as not to automatically exclude endorsing ssm.

              Who was it against gay marriage and gay adoption in the early- to mid-2000 again? Conservatives or liberals? I forget.

              I can’t speak to gay adoption, but when it came to gay marriage, it seems that as recently as 2008 gay marriage was a “conservatives but not only conservatives opposed it” thing. Recall Obama’s “evolution” on the issue, or the fact that the same state that voted him its electoral votes also voted for proposition 8.

              Of course, I guess you could say that those people were liberal in respect to Obama but socially conservative. So you’d have a point there. And I’m unmindful of how Rove, et al., used ssm as a way to energize their base.

              I’m also mindful that the early to mid 2000s was when the author grew up. And perhaps that was your point all along? If so, I guess I see what you’re saying. But I still go back to (what I take to be) the fact that he calls himself a conservative in one way but doesn’t claim to be a conservative in the other ways.

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    • Gutting the concept of victimhood relieves society of the requirement helping people who need help. It also allows for negligent and malicious people to carry out their acts with impunity. If there is no victimhood, it doesn’t matter if the targets of abuse end up messed up. Its their own damn fault for not taking responsibility people will say.

      Many people in positions similar to Henderson’s position are not going to end up in the Air Force or going to Yale. More than a few of them are going to be screwed for reasons beyond their control. You should not point to Henderson when dealing with other people in similar situations and say “he made it, so the fact you can not means your no good.”

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      • This whole conversation seems a bit weird in the context of a single anecdote.

        Like I have no idea what to say to people in situations like that or what the best message might be. In practice this means I wouldn’t make a deeply personal comment like that, but does anyone actually know what messages are best in such situations? Or even if there’s any uniformity in how people react to them?

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        • Public policy is driven more by anecdotes than data. The people who believe in non-societal intervention will use cases like the above or somebody I know in real life who had an even worse upbringing on why individuals can do it for themselves. Those that believe society should intervene will invoke other anecdotes.

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      • See my comment above. I’m not suggesting we eliminate the idea of being a victim, only that being a victim has a shelf life beyond which we need to start wondering what is going on and asking questions.

        This person claims to be a victim:

        1) Can we help this person?[1]
        2) Is it help we can provide, or is it help they must seek out (and do they know how to seek help)?
        3) If they got help, was it adequate?
        4) If it was adequate, is there something more we can do?

        No matter what, at some point, ‘victim’ moves from a call for assistance to a call for pity, and while there are truly people whom we will never be able to adequately help, and who truly deserve our pity and whatever comfort we can offer, I suspect for a lot of people who continue to claim to be ‘victims’ long after the event is over, they need to move on as best they can. Everyone is a victim of something, at some point (unless you lead a remarkably charmed life), so that status can not be perpetual, or it loses all meaning.

        ETA: Being re-victimized has validity. E.G. A person convicted of a felony can find themselves constantly re-victimized by the police and the CJ system long after they paid their debt to society.

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        • Dang, forgot my [1].

          [1] Sometimes we just truly can not help a person, no matter how much we want to or try to, and not because the person is refusing help. Such people do deserve whatever comfort we can offer.

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              • Yeah, I guess I can see that. It’s just that in my experience all that victim claim is asking is so often some combination of “get off my back,” “stop telling me what to feel,” and “leave me the hell alone,” I get tetchy about people who are focusing on the “claiming stuff from the rest of us” side of things.

                I know there are people who use the position (regardless of the words used), often to their own detriment, to hurt other people or revictimize themselves. Hell, my dad used that position as a whip to control my mom, escape responsibility for his own actions, etc, half the time…. but in my experience, even beyond my own situation, those people are relatively few in number, and the people who are told to stop being so darn inconvenient for everyone else to deal with with their “claims” and their “needs” – regardless of what they’re actually asking for and how reasonable it is – or how much they aren’t even *asking* for much beyond people backing off of them, or maybe taking two seconds to write a trigger warning or something that (to me) seems completely inconsequential by comparison – are relatively vast.

                It’s not like anyone governmental or otherwise helped us to deal with what was going on while it was going on. It’s not like I’m getting some vast amount of help now I haven’t earned.

                There’s more than one libertarian vector to be frustrated along when dealing with this topic, I guess I’m saying.

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                • ETA: I don’t think this was clear, but one of my thoughts is that the position of “aggrieved victim YOU have to do something about, that can control you or have power over you” is not especially correlated to the use of the word ‘victim’ to describe oneself vs. use of other terms.

                  YMMV obviously.

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                  • My impression of the exchange I quoted was that someone was telling the author that they were a victim, and that they should embrace that label (for whatever reason). I think the author was offended at the suggestion, and I completely understand why he would be offended by it.

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              • Please note, we posted at the same time and I did not read your final statement before posting this. I agree the person who was in a hurry to define the author as “victim” was in the wrong to do that. But your statement came off originally as if targeted against the author which seemed unfair to me.

                I feel like you’re conflating people who go thru their lives as passive “victims of circumstance/society” and take no responsibility for their choices and actions, with people who are actual victims at the hands of others.

                For many people who do not define themselves as “victims” in the way you’re thinking of the word, it is not easy to publicly acknowledge that they have been victimized. It can be extremely difficult to admit even to themselves that they’ve been wronged or abused. It’s embarrassing, it’s humiliating. There’s almost a sort of imposter syndrome where you gaslight yourself into thinking you’re not a victim. You can’t be a victim, there are always people who have it worse than you. You can’t be a victim, you don’t have it bad enough. You can’t be a victim, you deserved it. You can’t be a victim, you chose to stay.

                It’s utterly demoralizing to realize and acknowledge you’re being abused. How could you have ever been so blind to not see the signs? How could you have been so stupid to have gotten into that situation? How could you have let it go on so long? Why didn’t you have the courage to leave or fight back? Describing yourself as a victim is admitting that you were weak and made mistakes in the eyes of the whole entire world.

                It’s more comfortable to NOT be a victim. It is much better for one’s self-image to feel like you’ve always been master of your own destiny and choosing to put up with stuff that really wasn’t ~that~ bad, than to look at your life with eyes wide open and say ok wow I’m actually in a really bad place here and get out of it. (and of course a child like the guy who wrote the article, completely lacks the ability to do that.) For some people it can actually be a huge struggle to confess to the world that they are or were victims and when people immediately roll their eyes and think “geesh, another person playing the victim card” it only makes it harder.

                Of course there are people who are manipulating circumstances to try to get stuff out of people that they haven’t earned. Not a few, either. It just seems to me better to ask questions first, shoot later rather than assuming that everyone with a story to tell is trying to parlay that story into a handout.

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                • Man, I am glad I re-read your comment instead of going off of from memory of the email I got.

                  Yes. I was not being critical of the author, I was being critical of the other student.

                  Perhaps I can put it this way:

                  There seems to me to be an awful lot of people who are NOT psychologists or trained counselors deciding that their own, or other peoples, experiences qualify them for ‘victim’ status (probably because they read an article on the internet). And this is not something new, it’s been going on for a while (although I think the internet makes it annoyingly visible). I remember telling a fellow student in college about how my mom broke more than a few wooden spoons over my head or ass when I was young and acting out.* I was told by this student that I was clearly a victim of child abuse.

                  No, I was a child of very young parents dealing with serious financial insecurity (read poverty) and not yet able to fully control their anger. Mom and Dad woke up to the fact that they were not dealing with things properly and started getting help (even took parenting classes).

                  Were the broken spoons bad? Yes, they were. But I don’t consider myself a victim, and neither have any of the professionals I talked to from time to time. Why? I don’t know, perhaps because it lacked a key feature of what constitutes child abuse as opposed to just really bad parenting (I have no idea what that might be, I’m not a professional in that field; maybe I can ask Sam W. about it sometime, he seems to have a some idea what qualifies).

                  But the point is, this strikes me as something that should be identified by a pro, just like any other serious health concern, and not lobbed about by the vast population of overly helpful unqualified folks.

                  *I really was acting out. Climbing up onto the roof of the (2 story) house and running around like a damn fool, setting the farmers field on fire, etc. I pulled some stinkers in my day.

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  4. FA8: This is the Home Alone law. Back in the 90s, a Chicago suburbanite couple went on an extended vacation to Mexico, leaving their nine-year-old home alone to watch their four-year-old. In a couple of days, a fire alarm went off and the girls ran in a panic to a neighbor’s house, who called authorities. Despite there being no specific law on the books (as is the case in most states), the parents were indicted for felony abandonment, neglect, endangerment and cruelty to children, and lost their children to foster care.

    In any event, the original law said parents couldn’t intentionally leave children younger than 14 alone for 24 hours or longer. It’s become Christmas tree of additional considerations, including shorter periods of time.

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    • There was a similar incident on Long Island during my teen years. A couple went on a Mexican vacation and left their very young daughters alone. Naturally things went wrong and a the elder daughter had to call for help. This was when the neighbors learned the couple had a second daughter even though the second daughter was a toddler. The couple was arrested when they got off the plane. I’m not sure if the New York legislature passed a similar law after the incident.

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        • This. Were either place experiencing a rash of ‘Home Alone’ incidents such that it was obvious people were being horribly negligent and a law was necessary, or was it just a singular case that so offended some class of people who decided it was ‘for the children’.

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        • To show the citizenry that the legislators are on the job. If the politicians did nothing in the wake of such an obvious outrage, the electorate would be angry even if the law was already adequate.

          New laws are often passed to cover up loop holes or blind spots in existing laws. It wasn’t strictly illegal for parents to leave children alone without adult supervision. Maybe the legislators just wanted clarity for lesser cases.

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        • PD Shaw’s link bellow states that the the law was ambiguous on whether the kids were abandoned because the parents intended to and did return. The Home Alone rule was written to clarify the situation.

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  5. Fa7: This is not the world’s most uncommon practice. Hubert Humphrey’s wife was appointed to finish out his term when he died in the late 1970s. I’ve seen other examples too.

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  6. Henderson in Fa6 seems like he is searching for a tribe to join, the way many young people do in order to make the world a simple, more orderly place.

    His insight into self-reliance could stand a bit more introspection though.

    Similar to our conversations over the past few days, the lack of self-control and personal responsibility among the (young) adults who formed his life could also be put in light of the lack of communal responsibility, and collective care.
    Where were the grandparents of his biological parents, who could have intervened or offered support and guidance?
    Where was the surrounding extended family, the neighborhood, the community?

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  7. Fa3: The fertility thing in the United States makes intuitive sense. People used to have a lot of kids for biological (lots of them tended to die young) and economic (you needed help on the farm) reasons. Some of this might hold true for the very poor today. As to the rich, having kids in the United States is expensive even for educated upper-middle class professionals. The United States does not give much maternity/paternity leave, education is expensive, etc. So the middle-classes are going to have fewer kids and maximize the resources spent on those kids. If you are really rich, you don’t need to budget.

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    • You can see the demographic bulge happen — it occurs right as child mortality rates drop and agricultural industrialization starts.

      Basically you had a generation still pumping out kids like half or more would die, and every hand was needed on the farm. The next generation seemed to pretty much pop out 2 or 3, on average, and the one after that (Gen X or so) seemed to be 1 or 2.

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  8. Obama official Susan Rice ended up with a son who needed to rebel by surpassing most dip-shit College Republican tactics:

    https://www.stanforddaily.com/2018/05/31/emails-between-ferguson-scr-reveal-opposition-research-against-ocon-prompt-fergusons-resignation-from-cardinal-conversations-leadership-role/

    Rice-Cameron is known on campus for his role in organizing for that same group, TPUSA, as well as his role as president of Stanford College Republicans (SCR). Minshull, meanwhile, was recently in the news for his involvement with a recent “coup-attempt” of the Stanford Conservative Society, as written about by the Fountain Hopper.

    The emails use harsh and at times war-like language to describe liberals and “social justice warriors” (SJWs).

    “Slowly, we will continue to crush the Left’s will to resist, as they will crack under pressure,” Rice-Cameron wrote.

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    • See also Adorno’s Thesis Against Occultism. See also George Orwell’s observation that fascism and communism were more popular too many people than socialism and capitalism because the former offered meaning in the form of sacrifice and struggle while the latter offered a good time.

      This also explains why the Far Right has a thriving hatred of Jews and Judaism. As the essay points out, the creation story depicted in Genesis is a demythologized creation story. Rather than imagining some epic struggle like the other Middle East people or the wild, mystical creation stories of other group, the ancestors of the Jews believed that God created the world by merely speaking it into existence. There was no epic battle or mystical act but a simple act of action. The supernatural parts of the Bible are less frequent than many other mythologies.

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