Ordinary New Year

New Years

Ordinary New Year

It was a year of breaking news, pitched debates, earnest discussions, and pointed opinions. Here are a few of the most read, shared, and discussed pieces from the year that was at Ordinary Times:

[NY1] The Magic of Ben Shapiro by AdotSad: “The “How we got Trump” point is overplayed, and the real answer is certainly multifactorial, but my contention is that Shapiro and others like him helped cultivate an environment in which Trump could be successful within the conservative movement. The irony is two-fold – first, Shapiro doesn’t seem to realize or care about what he helped build. If you listened to his latest speech at CPAC, almost the entirety of it focused on channeling audience anger towards the left and attacking the media. Second, the very methods he criticizes the left for using, he employs. If you accept his premise that the reactionary right has only emerged because of the left, then you should at least acknowledge the danger of radicalization of the left if you use the very tactics you bemoan”

[NY2] When Schools Get Political, What Should Teachers Do? by Michele Kerr: “Everyone has the best of intentions. The teachers and administrators at Oceana meant well. So do the schools and teachers Rick Hess refers to, from Eva Moskowitz and all the Success Academy teachers, to the teachers and schools busing Newark students to a protest in Washington DC. So do I. Without question, my actions at Oceana were an expression of values, just as the other teachers and schools were expressing theirs. The difference lies in what we each want our students to do. I want my students to share my values about open expression, and could care less whether they agree with me. Oceana High School and Eva Moskowitz, as well as many other schools and teachers, see no valid alternative to their opinions, and so consider any efforts at “hearing all sides” to be wasted. They see agreement as essential, conflicting opinions as harmful and—I believe as a consequence—don’t really think much about the need for open expression.”

[NY3] The Rigged System by Tod Kelly: “That someone should be presumed innocent until proven guilty is a bedrock American belief, and it’s one that we rightfully should cherish. But that’s assuming the system is fair and just, and in the case of sexual assault it simply isn’t. No, we should not have a system where we “believe all women accusers no matter what.” But neither should we have a system where being a victim means the justice system assumes you to be suspect at best, and threatens you with punishment at worst. The system is rigged.”

[NY4] Incentive to Kill by Em Carpenter: “It often seems that police officers escape consequences for shooting deaths. Never mind criminal charges; they are rarely held to account civilly, either. And that is due in large part to the wide protection provided by the doctrine of qualified immunity. If it seems that qualified immunity holds officers harmless when they make poor decisions, even if they result in a citizen’s death, that is by design. In Maciariello v. Sumner, a case out of Maryland, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals explained the rationale for qualified immunity: to protect officers from the consequences of “bad guesses in gray areas”, unless the officers have “transgressed bright lines” of the law. In other words, if an officer arrives on the scene, makes an incorrect guess as to what is going on, and acts on that guess in a way that causes harm, he is not to be held accountable for the consequences of his actions. The law protects “all but the plainly incompetent” or those who violate “clearly established rights”, and rarely is that standard deemed met.”

[NY5] Politics, Empathy and the Kavanaugh Thing by Michael Siegel: “In a sane world, the Republicans would have gotten Kavanaugh to withdraw to clear his name and nominated someone else in his place. In a sane world, the Democrats would have conceded that the allegations were shaky but said they should be disqualifying anyway. But we don’t live in that world, if we ever did. And the reasonable people seem to be fleeing the field to leave the crazies in charge. I don’t know that there’s a fix for the disease that has afflicted our politics. It’s not just that we live in echo chambers. It’s that there is always some idiot on Twitter, on television, on Facebook, somewhere who will make the worst possible argument that can be made. And that argument will be easily amplified in the echo chambers as an example of what “they” really think.”

[NY6] If Conservatives Want to be Heard, Stop Whining About Unfair by Andrew Donaldson: “Learning that there is a larger world is difficult. Learning that world doesn’t care about thoughts and feelings even more so. How children react to this revelation is a behavior long studied by experts. All agree this process impacts thought and behavior for the rest of that child’s life. The same principles apply to political thought. No matter where one falls on the political spectrum, there are just as many people who disagree as agree with you. Often there are people smarter, more articulate, and with larger platforms who can eloquently espouse things that you know are not true. There are people in positions of power that your principles tell you are doing more harm than good. Frustration comes in not thinking, but knowing, you are right in your cause, but no one is listening to you, and in fact doing the opposite is so frustrating…so infuriating…so…unfair! We need to get over ourselves and stop with the usual litany of what is unfair.”

[NY7] Democrats and Chicken Little Politics by Mark Kruger: “Moreover, to win based on an inevitable Trump implosion forces Democrats to root for disaster. This is not an enviable position for a party desperate to define itself as positive and progressive. I have little doubt, Trump being Trump, that he might oblige them and go down in flames. But assuming that the “everything is terrible” motto continues to ring hollow, what’s Plan B? If Trump succeeds, even in a window dressing sort of way, what will become of the Democratic predictions of the Apocalypse? If the economy keeps humming, if Trump skates by on Russia, if the tariff kerfuffle with the G7 turns out to be a mayonnaise sandwich, or worse, succeeds in resetting a few short-term trade deals in the US favor – what then? What will the Democratic message be? I don’t think “Trump is just such an idiot” is going to work as a slogan any more than “but it’s her turn”. I’m not suggesting I know a winning strategy. I only know that rooting for a “crashing economy“, as Bill Maher has done, is like hoping your NBA team loses it’s last 10 games so you get a higher draft pick. It may work, but it says you love your team more than the game.”

[NY8] Are There Earnest Arguments Against Birthright Citizenship? by Vikram Bath : “The entirety of US national history has featured strong disagreement about who should enjoy the full rights and privileges of full citizens. I am going to present my own cartoonized version of history here, but do your own research if you want better. In general, there have been a lot of arguments as to whether things like owning property, literacy, being able to pay a poll tax, having a clear record, and being able to clear other arbitrary barriers ought to count towards a person’s claim of full citizenship. By and large, these were all proxies for more fundamental claims:”


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Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire.

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