The Slow Death of the Shopping Plaza

By Addison Del Mastro

I have written previously about some pleasant and nostalgic aspects of suburbia. Putting aside questions of wise land-use planning, much of what remains from our mid-century suburbs is harmless. The buildings are quirky, often include kitschy salutes to their particular locales, and are built at a human scale. That sort of architecture is long gone, but suburbia is still with us, though with much less of the charm.

Case in point, the Sully Place Shopping Center in Chantilly, Virginia. This strip mall is built along a major intersection on Route 50—known to locals as the endangered Lee-Jackson Memorial Highway (the name, of course, is endangered—not, unfortunately, the highway). Across the street is a collection of car dealers and an apartment complex called “The Fields of Chantilly.” On the other side, Sully Place butts up against a cul-de-sac neighborhood of mostly identical homes. The plaza is quite large and oddly designed; an American farmer from the days of the Founding would easily mistake it for an alien structure.

The anchor stores in the plaza are currently occupied, and there is none of the loitering or petty crime that tends to hasten the deaths of these places; this is no dead or dying mall. Yet the accompanying strips of smaller shops in between the anchors are one-third vacant. Of about 40 small storefronts, 13 are currently sitting empty (the number of vacancies has actually ticked up in the last several years). One or two stores that are occupied are “marginal” businesses, like the closeout warehouse stocked mostly with returned electronics and smashed cereal boxes. This is in one of the richest parts of one of the richest counties in the nation—the households within five miles of the mall sport a median household income of $110,000—during a supposedly thriving economy. That suggests that the high watermark of the massive shopping plaza is probably behind us, though whether greater blame belongs to e-commerce or to the defects of the sprawl model of development is up for debate. In any case, one wonders what the original builders were thinking in 1991 when the plaza was built.

Three consecutive vacant storefronts in Sully Place. Credit: Addison Del Mastro

One of the anchors, inhabiting what used to be an unusually large K-Mart, is a massive home decoration store, with the distinctly uninspiring name At Home. Imagine dozens of aisles of garden gnomes, welcome mats, rugs, brass urns, and hundreds of other tchotchkes and trinkets. Then imagine, if you will, the tens of thousands of similar stores across the country, filled to the brim with the same junk, accounting for most of what is left of brick-and-mortar retail. As James Howard Kunstler puts it, wave your flag over that.

Where could all of this have possibly come from? The answer is not dynamic, value-generating “capitalism.” It is rather that this endless array of stuff is the home-décor equivalent of junk food. Anyone who studies American food and eating habits knows that most of what occupies the …read more

Via:: American Conservative

      

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Judge Andrew Napolitano: In defense of the right to keep and bear arms

By Andrew Napolitano The Ash Wednesday massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, seems to have broken more hearts than similar tragedies that preceded it. …read more

Via:: Fox Opines

      

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The Strained U.S.-South Korean Alliance

By Daniel Larison

Despite public pronouncements of close cooperation between Washington and Seoul, the rift between the U.S. and South Korea is spilling into open view:

“We are very much worried about American unilateral military action on North Korea because North Korea is most likely to retaliate against South Korea,” Moon Chung-in, a senior foreign policy adviser to South Korean President Moon Jae-in, tells @JudyWoodruff. pic.twitter.com/nNnFUKY5vP

— PBS NewsHour (@NewsHour) February 28, 2018

If South Korean concerns were being taken seriously by the Trump administration, it is doubtful that a high-profile adviser to President Moon would be saying this publicly on American television. The fact that one of Moon’s top foreign policy advisers feels the need to say this publicly to an American audience strongly suggests that the administration has ignoring what our ally is trying to tell them. It further suggests that the strains in the alliance that were on display during the Olympics are not superficial ones, but reflect significant disagreements over how to handle the standoff with the DPRK.

It is not surprising that the South Korean government would be opposed to a U.S. attack that would result in the devastation of their country, but it is noteworthy that a top representative of an ally thinks it necessary to sound an alarm about the danger of a U.S. attack. Taken together with all of the other signs from the Trump administration in recent months, this doesn’t bode well for the alliance with South Korea or for the prospects for peace and stability in Northeast Asia.

…read more

Via:: American Conservative

      

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Bolton Wants Preventive War Against North Korea

By Daniel Larison

John Bolton defends preventive war against North Korea, but he won’t call it by that name:

Pre-emption opponents argue that action is not justified because Pyongyang does not constitute an “imminent threat.” They are wrong. The threat is imminent, and the case against pre-emption rests on the misinterpretation of a standard that derives from prenuclear, pre-ballistic-missile times.

The concepts of preemption and imminent threat have been so thoroughly warped by the Iraq war debate that their proper meanings have been all but lost. Preemption means striking before an impending attack occurs, but there is no such attack being prepared by North Korea. If the U.S. strikes North Korea first under these circumstances, our government would be committing an act of aggression pure and simple. There would be no preemption, because there would be no attack to preempt.

Bolton declares that the threat from North Korea is imminent, but this requires us to redefine imminent to mean something entirely different from what it has always meant. Imminent means something that is about to happen, and that does not describe the threat from North Korea. North Korea is not about to attack the U.S. or its allies. It is not about to do it next month or next year. It is not about to do it at all. It has been deterred from doing so for decades, and continues to be deterred. In order to believe that there is an imminent threat from North Korea, namely one that is going to happen in the very near future, one also has to believe that its government is bent on self-destruction. Bolton writes about North Korean nuclear weapons and missiles as if their mere existence justifies a U.S. attack, but that is simply nonsense.

Supporters of preventive war cannot honestly defend their position, because the war they favor is illegal and unjust, and so they rename it preemption and hope that no one knows the difference. The frequent confusion of pre-emption and preventive warfare in mainstream media reporting helps to ensure that very few are aware of the rhetorical trick being played on them. Advocates of preventive war are proposing that the U.S. engage in a war of aggression in violation of international law, but in order to sell the war they need people to believe that the war would be defensive in nature. That is why they keep hiding behind the label of pre-emption.

Josh Rogin accurately described Bolton’s position in his report from earlier this week and reminds us why we should care what the mustachioed militarist has to say:

John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, whom Trump reportedly is considering to replace H.R. McMaster as national security adviser, supports preventive war through a massive strike [bold mine-DL], if sanctions fail.

There should be no doubt that Bolton is calling for starting a preventive war, and we should not be fooled by his attempts to confuse the issue by abusing the English language.

…read more

Via:: American Conservative

      

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Donald Trump, Taker Of Guns

By Rod Dreher

WATCH: President Trump: “I like taking the guns early … Take the guns first, go through due process second.” pic.twitter.com/aydEZdAGq0

— NBC News (@NBCNews) February 28, 2018

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

I’m just going to let that one sit there.

You know that he’s going to walk this back, but the idea that he said it at all… .

This is not a stable person.

…read more

Via:: American Conservative

      

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Trans Tweens & Social Contagion

By Rod Dreher

WPATH jan 5 2018 detrans therapist

A reader writes:

This is how crazy it is: my 12 yo niece attends a public middle school in a medium-sized Texas city. I learned yesterday that she says that most of her friends at school have come out as “bisexual”. I am talking about kids as young as 10 and 11.

The way they say it is telling: while one boy apparently has a boyfriend (and the liberal family is quite proud), he is the exception (and has an unusual home situation). Most of these super-woke tweens phrase it in terms of “I mostly like (opposite sex) but would date (same-sex)”. So this is not plausibly a genuine discovery, this is obviously kids adding a qualification so as to be acceptable.

Think about that, kids are afraid to say that they only like the opposite sex. I do not think the school pushed this, I think this is just in the youth culture atmosphere. I don’t think it is even false consciousness, more just complimenting the emperor’s clothes.

A different reader writes:

Here in Austin I see the occasional ‘trans’ person, especially living here in the even more progressive, Bernie-loving east side of town (almost always male to female), but for the first time yesterday I saw while out at dinner what was obviously a young boy, I would guess 12 or 13, in a skirt with painted toenails and dyed hair.

I obviously do not know this boy or this family’s history or context, but this seems more and more clearly to be an issue where social contagion is at play. It seems pretty clear that in these so-called progressive enclaves that this is more common, partly, I’m sure, because people come here so that they can live in a ‘non-judgmental’ place, but with young people it just seems to be catching on as kids are encouraged to be ‘open-minded’ (read accepting) of this choice and to consider it as a possibility.

How disorienting for a young person at that age to be asked to question if they really are the sex they were born and how insulting to parents if it is asked by someone at a school or other institution they are a part of. Maybe it’s already happening more than I realize – I know you’ve mentioned so much – but there is going to be a lot of damage that results from this a decade or two on if this is indulged to the point of taking hormones or (God help us) surgery, when these kids reach adulthood and are past childbearing physically and perhaps beyond healthy relationships emotionally. Ours are still toddlers and not quite aware of these things, but I really don’t want have this conversation at such an early age, though I fear it’s coming – and I know I’m not just going to act like it’s normal and acceptable. ‘Heading for the hills’ doesn’t sound that bad right about now.

You watch: in five years, I’ll write a book saying: “I was wrong. Let’s head for the hills.”

Readers, …read more

Via:: American Conservative

      

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Barron Trump Needs Engaged Parents

By Rod Dreher

Oh, for pity’s sake:

Donald Trump said his youngest son watches graphic violence on television and in movies. Speaking at a bipartisan meeting of Congress Wednesday to discuss cracking down on gun violence, Trump said: ‘The video games, the movies, the internet stuff, it’s so violent.

Speaking at a bipartisan meeting of Congress Wednesday to discuss cracking down on gun violence, Trump said: ‘The video games, the movies, the internet stuff, it’s so violent.

‘It’s so incredible, I see it, I get to see things you’d be amazed at ‘I have a very young son. I look at some of the things he is watching and I say ‘How is that possible?’ and I think you maybe have to take a look at it.’

Hey big guy, guess what: BE A PARENT! The kid has a father and a mother. You walk in, see the boy watching inappropriate content — you tell him no, and turn the TV off. Or tell his nanny to tell him no. This is a pain, but it’s possible. They’ll whine about it, but your role as a father (and your wife’s role as a mother) is to set rules for your kids and enforce them. Yes, entertainment media is a cesspool. But media is not the force of gravity. You can resist it on your child’s behalf.

Trump is far from alone in his cognitive dissonance on this. It never, ever fails to shock me how quick so many parents are to complain about the content of the media they allow their children to use, but then act all helpless when it comes to regulating their children’s media access.

I applaud what the UK is about to do to deny access to Internet pornography for those under 18. It won’t be a perfect system, but it’ll be a lot better than what exists now. We should think about doing that in the US. I suspect that it will be easy to get bipartisan support for the measure. I think that the state ought to help parents when it can — but there will never, ever be a law that can substitute for engaged parenting.

…read more

Via:: American Conservative

      

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Transgender Hookers Are The Chosen People

By Rod Dreher

Progessivism’s saints (Peter O’Connor/Flickr)

The latest advance toward Utopia, via the mainstream liberal online magazine Slate:

Trans women call it walking while trans: when police officers assume that anyone who looks like a transgender woman must be engaging in sex work. The fear and hardship that this engenders among trans women who aren’t sex workers is one of myriad reasons why the complete decriminalization of all sex work must be a central piece in the struggle for transgender human rights. Decriminalization, as distinct from legalization via regulation, would seek to strike those laws which criminally penalize sex workers from the books.

Sex work is a broad category encompassing anything from erotic dancing and pornography to street-based sexual solicitation, and may be done for money or for food, shelter, or other goods and services. According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, 19 percent of all trans people, and 47 percent of black trans women, have engaged in sex work. This does not take place in a vacuum but in the context of pervasive societal discrimination against trans people in general, and trans women of color in particular. Widespread bias against trans people severely limits access to traditional employment, housing, and health care—but also, through family rejection, to informal kinship-based networks of support.

One in five trans people have been paid whores? Almost half of black trans women (men who present as female) have been hookers?! (I don’t apologize for using strong language; I cannot stand the way we euphemize away the moral ugliness of what they do by using anodyne terms like “sex work”). This is not a psychologically or emotionally healthy population. And yet we are told that we have to accommodate them.

More:

Of course, not every trans person who engages in sex work does so to avoid homelessness. Ally Brinken, a transfeminine genderqueer person who initially got into sex work to supplement their income during grad school, enjoys being their own boss as a pro-domme. “Sex work as a profession and as a community is much more free of marginalization and discrimination which, as a student, I definitely came into contact with,” Brinken said. “Sex work as a community is very trans positive. It’s profitable, and it’s good for us, allowing us to use our bodies and our sexuality that society so often stigmatizes.”

A “pro-domme”? What’s that? I had to look it up. A “pro-domme” is a prostitute who works as a specialist in perverted sex (domination), without necessarily having sex itself with her clients. Really excellent people. And:

Trans women are not responsible for the forces that push them toward sex work when they are discriminated against in lawful work, nor are they responsible for the desire others feel for their bodies, which pulls them toward sex work and makes them as vulnerable to trafficking as other women are.

Read the whole thing.

So, let’s see: according to this writer in Slate, if we don’t decriminalize prostitution, we’re anti-trans, in part because prostitution allows transgender people to feel good about …read more

Via:: American Conservative

      

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Liz Peek: Trump is ramping up for a 2020 run (but Democrats STILL don’t get it)

By Liz Peek It’s official: President Trump is running for re-election. He announced Tuesday that he has appointed Brad Parscale as his campaign manager and that planning for the 2020 race is underway. …read more

Via:: Fox Opines

      

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South Africa: Tomorrow’s Zimbabwe

By Rod Dreher

Well, things seem to be on the right track in South Africa:

White South African farmers will be removed from their land after a landslide vote in parliament.

The country’s constitution is now likely to be amended to allow for the confiscation of white-owned land without compensation, following a motion brought by radical Marxist opposition leader Julius Malema.

It passed by 241 votes for to 83 against after a vote on Tuesday, and the policy was a key factor in new president Cyril Ramaphosa’s platform after he took over from Jacob Zuma in February.

Mr Malema said the time for ‘reconciliation is over’. ‘Now is the time for justice,’ News24 reported.

More:

Mr Malema has a long-standing commitment to land confiscation without compensation. In 2016 he told his supporters he was ‘not calling for the slaughter of white people – at least for now’.

“For now.”

If you’re a white South African, the handwriting is on the wall.

Malema further adds that the land expropriated by the state will not be redistributed to black owners, but will be owned by … the state.

The post-apartheid constitution prohibits this kind of thing, but the ANC and other parties now want to amend the constitution. According to this South African news analysis, there are some bureaucratic hurdles that would have to be cleared, but the black parties have the votes.

There can be no doubt that land reform in South Africa must happen. Look at history.

But you should also look at the history of Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe, who took over in 1980 after a civil war ended white minority rule. Samantha Power wrote in The Atlantic:

Zimbabwe, one of southern Africa’s most prosperous countries, held great promise. Its Victoria Falls was one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Its gushing Zambezi River boasted wildlife and pulsing rapids. Its lush soil was the envy of a continent. And, though landlocked, the country had modernized sensibly: it had a network of paved roads, four airports, and, thanks to Mugabe’s leadership, a rigorous and inclusive education system. Mugabe knew that whites drove the economy, and he was pragmatic. “Good old Bob,” as white farmers quickly came to call him, kept his shoes and socks on, and urged reconciliation: “An evil remains an evil whether practiced by white against black or black against white,” he said on the eve of independence. In a cordial meeting with [white leader Ian] Smith, Mugabe acknowledged that he had inherited the “jewel of Africa,” and he vowed to keep it that way.

More:

The country’s economy in 1997 was the fastest growing in all of Africa; now it is the fastest shrinking. A onetime net exporter of maize, cotton, beef, tobacco, roses, and sugarcane now exports only its educated professionals, who are fleeing by the tens of thousands. Although Zimbabwe has some of the richest farmland in Africa, children with distended bellies have begun arriving at school looking like miniature pregnant women.

How could the breadbasket of Africa have deteriorated …read more

Via:: American Conservative

      

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