Monthly Archives: July 2010

Enough With The Pretty Boys

My candidate for 2012 has been the same as my candidate was for 2008: Rudy Giuliani. Now, I’m starting to really like a fresh face: New Jersey governor Chris Christie.

Peggy Noonan, in today’s Wall Street Journal, makes the case for Christie:

…The problem for the Democrats, however, is not a new Contract With America, or the Tea Party. Their problem is Chris Christie.

National Republicans don’t want to talk about specific cuts in spending for the obvious reason: The Obama administration is killing itself, and when your foe is self-destructing, you must not interrupt. Let the media go forward each day reporting the bad polls. Turn it into “Franco: still dead.” Don’t let the media turn it into a two-part story: “Obama is Struggling and The Republicans Will Cut Your Benefits.”

That is classic, smart political thinking, but wrong. The public thinks we’re sinking as a nation. They want to know someone has a plan to help. The most promising leader in that respect is Mr. Christie, the New Jersey governor, who just closed an $11 billion budget gap without raising taxes. He is famously blunt and doesn’t speak in those talking points that make you wonder, “Should I kill myself now with rude stabs to the chest, or should I just jump screaming from the window?”

On “Morning Joe” this week he said, “There were a lot of hard cuts and difficult things to do in there, but fact of the matter is we’re trying to treat people like adults. They know that we’re in awful shape, and they know that no one else is around anymore to pay for the problems that won’t hurt them.”

What about the argument that in a recession we need stimulus spending? “It’s dead wrong. More spending with what? The federal government continuing to print more and more money and leaving that debt for our kids? It will only grind the economy down further.”

On public schools: Teachers complain when they’re getting “4% and 5% salary increases a year in a 0% inflation world. They get free health benefits from the day they’re hired for their entire family until the day they die. They believe they are entitled to this shelter from the recession when the people who are paying for that shelter are the people who have been laid off, who’ve lost their homes, had their hours cut back. And all we ask them to do is freeze their salary for one year and pay 1.5% of their salary for their health benefits. . . . As much as I love teachers, everyone’s got to be a part of the sacrifice.”

Mr. Christie was direct, unadorned: You can’t tax your way out of a spending problem, you’ve got to stop spending. Governors have budgets for which they’re held accountable, so he had to move. But Mr. Christie’s way is also closer than most national Republicans have come—or Democrats will come—to satisfying the public desire that someone step forward, define the problem, apply common sense, devise a way through, do what’s needed.

He’s going to break through in a big way. The answer to our political problems lies in clarity, competence and courage, not a visit to crazy town. And he knows how to put out his hand. “As much as I love teachers.” That’s good.

And I don’t care that he’s overweight. Enough with the pretty boys and the race and gender candidates so appealing to self-congratulating, pious liberals.

You Work, They Decide

Daniel Henninger on Barry’s rule of philosopher kings:

…The U.S. has never subscribed to the idea of a nation run by philosopher-kings. Even the Founders disassembled. The Obama White House, as with its new director of Medicare and Medicaid, Donald Berwick, is explicit in its belief that the smartest can design a nationwide health-care system for the rest—if the people will give them enough money to do so. And they could have designed a successful stimulus program—if the people had given them more than the piddling $862 billion they got.

This election and these times are a chance to put to the voters opposed visions of why we work and what we do with the money we earn.

If voters ultimately feel more secure with a Barack Obama and the like designing a national itinerary for some 300 million people in 50 states, then certainly one should vote for letting taxes rise now on one class of Americans and imposing a VAT next year on everyone. They need a whole lot of money, so give it to them to the horizon. We work, they decide.

The alternative vision is that to compete for the next 50 years, the U.S. is going to need a tax structure that keeps more of the nation’s decisions about using its wealth in the hands—and minds—of millions of intelligent citizens, from any economic class. They work, they decide…

Ann Coulter on the mendacity of the race racketeers:

…All the accusations of “racism” at anti-Obama rallies so far have turned out to be completely false. The most notorious was the allegation that one black congressman was spat on and another called the N-word 15 times at an anti-ObamaCare rally on Capitol Hill last March.

The particularly sensitive Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., perhaps walking too closely to a protester chanting “Kill the Bill,” was hit with some spittle — and briefly thought he was a Freedom Rider! When observers contested Cleaver’s account — with massive video evidence — he walked back his claim of being spat upon.

The slanderous claim that a protester called the civil rights hero John Lewis the N-word 15 times was an outrageous lie — never made by Lewis himself — but promoted endlessly by teary-eyed reporters, most of whom cannot count to 15.

The media never retracted it, even after the N-word allegation was proved false with a still-uncollected $100,000 reward for two seconds of video proof taken from a protest crawling with video cameras and reporters hungry for an act of racism.

When St. Louis Tea Party co-founder Dana Loesch did make the point on CNN that no one spat on any black congressmen at the anti-ObamaCare rally, a liberal on the panel, Nancy Giles, told her to “shut your mouth,” while alleged “comedian” Stephanie Miller repeatedly called Tea Party activists “tea baggers.”

It’s like watching Hitler hysterically denounce Poland for being mean to Nazi Germany while Polish TV commentators defend Poland by saying, “There are mistakes on both sides.”

Meanwhile, we do have video proof of the New Black Panthers standing outside a polling station in Philadelphia in 2008 with billy clubs threatening white voters who tried to vote. And there is video footage of Sarah Palin, Karl Rove, Condoleezza Rice as well as a slew of conservative college speakers being assaulted by crazed liberals.

We also have evidence of liberals’ proclivity for violence in the form of mountains of arrest records. Liberal protesters at the 2008 Republican National Convention were arrested for smashing police cars, slashing tires, breaking store windows, and for possessing Molotov cocktails, napalm bombs and assorted firearms. (If only they could muster up that kind of fighting spirit on foreign battlefields.)

There were no arrests of conservatives at the Democratic National Convention.

Over the past couple of election cycles, Bush and McCain election headquarters around the country have been repeatedly vandalized, ransacked, burglarized and shot at (by staunch gun-control advocates, no doubt); Bush and McCain campaign signs have been torched; and Republican campaign volunteers have been physically attacked.

It was a good day when George Bush was merely burned in effigy, compared to Hitler or, most innocuously, compared to a monkey.

In the fall of 2008, Obama supporters Mace’d elderly volunteers in a McCain campaign office in Galax, Va. In separate attacks, a half-dozen liberals threw Molotov cocktails at McCain signs on families’ front yards in and around Portland, Ore. One Obama supporter broke a McCain sign being held by a small middle-aged woman in midtown Manhattan before hitting her in the face with the stick. These are just a few acts of violence from the left too numerous to catalog.

There were arrests in all these cases. There was, however, absolutely no national coverage of the attacks by Obama supporters.

Whoopi!

A Michael Ramirez gem:

And David Warren expands on the “herd of independent minds”:

…I wrote about that JournoList scandal on Saturday, and would like to share the gist of mail that came back to me after that article was linked through the States. I expected to hear from a lot of good, right-wing, Tea Party types, congratulating me for even mentioning the issue in the “mainstream media,” but instead about half the notes from these people were unfavourable.

They thought my dismissal of the affair — I wrote that while it certainly looked like a conspiracy to twist the news, in fact liberal journalists would have twisted it the same way even without methodically consulting each other — was inadequate and cowardly. Nor did they accept my view that the “crime” was not journalistic bias, but instead the journalists’ condescending pose of “objectivity” when delivering news and analysis that is steeply slanted.

The purely political dimension of this was spelt out, repeatedly. President Barack Obama won an election in which he posed as a moderate, and a “uniter.” But the same journalists who knew perfectly well that he was a radical liberal, just like them, with a personal background of association with characters far to the Left, and an agenda bearing little relation to his campaign promises — did everything in their power to conceal this. Instead they acted like attack dogs on his genuinely moderate opponents.

I don’t agree with this view, incidentally. I do not excuse the American people for electing this man. Nevertheless, this sense of “having been conned” is alive and consequential.

Not for the first time, I got a taste of just how angry a large and growing part of America has become, at the “liberal establishment” in the media, courts, Congress, White House, and the nearest public school. At the root of this, it seems to me, is the sense that decent, reasonable, tolerant people, who work for their livings, are losing control over their own lives to something like a “governing class”; are abused, insulted, being taxed to destruction. And, in the final aggravating clinch, the leaders who speak most articulately for them are smeared as “racists” and “rednecks.”

Indeed, were I a liberal politician, even in Canada, I’d be listening up. The pendulum of public opinion is swinging dramatically away from complacency in what I call the Nanny State, because the Left has made the egregious, if very human error, of pushing their luck too far.

Polls, at least in the U.S., show “trust in the media” to be at the subterranean lows of “trust in politicians.” To my mind, it is no coincidence that daily newspapers and other “mainstream” vehicles have endured shrinking audiences and attendant financial woes. The losses are compounded, as each institution comes to terms with the technology of the Web, but that is a side issue. The nimbler players are already mastering that adaptation.

The deeper issue is “content.” People will not read or view what they consider to be a waste of their time, and in particular, will not seek news from sources they believe to be tainted. The exclamation mark is affixed, when the mainstream media sweep the JournoList controversy under the rug — at a moment when their audience is free to read all these appalling e-mails on the Internet.

As I insist, the most damaging thing for a purveyor of news is not bias, per se, but an apparent lack of candour. People want to know “what really happened,” and if it is obvious that Agent A will not tell them, they will turn to Agent B. To my mind, that is exactly why my profession is in big trouble.

It is moreover the reason why every agency in society, which governs itself by strictures of “political correctness,” is in big trouble. People — quite simple, uneducated people, among others — may not have the means to analyse their distrust, but they can sure smell a rat. They may not be able to detect a lie, but they will eventually sense that a writer or speaker has no category for the truth…

Beware Of “The Brilliant” (And The Race Hustlers)

Thomas Sowell on why it’s a good idea to keep intellectuals far away from the levers of power:

…One of the ideas that has proved to be almost impervious to evidence is the idea that wise and far-sighted people need to take control and plan economic and social policies so that there will be a rational and just order, rather than chaos resulting from things being allowed to take their own course. It sounds so logical and plausible that demanding hard evidence would seem almost like nit-picking.

In one form or another, this idea goes back at least as far as the French Revolution in the 18th century. As J.A. Schumpeter later wrote of that era, “general well-being ought to have been the consequence,” but “instead we find misery, shame and, at the end of it all, a stream of blood.”

The same could be said of the Bolshevik Revolution and other revolutions of the 20th century.

The idea that the wise and knowledgeable few need to take control of the less wise and less knowledgeable many has taken milder forms– and repeatedly with bad results as well.

One of the most easily documented examples has been economic central planning, which was tried in countries around the world at various times during the 20th century, among people of differing races and cultures, and under government ranging from democracies to dictatorships.

The people who ran central planning agencies usually had more advanced education than the population at large, and probably higher IQs as well.

The central planners also had far more statistics and other facts at their disposal than the average person had. Moreover, there were usually specialized experts such as economists and statisticians on the staffs of the central planners, and outside consultants were available when needed. Finally, the central planners had the power of government behind them, to enforce the plans they created.

It is hardly surprising that conservatives, such as Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in Britain and President Ronald Reagan in the United States, opposed this approach. What is remarkable is that, after a few decades of experience with central planning in some countries, or a few generations in others, even communists and socialists began to repudiate this approach.

As they replaced central planning with more reliance on markets, their countries’ economic growth rate almost invariably increased, often dramatically. In the largest and most recent examples– China and India– people by the millions have risen above these countries’ official poverty rates, after they freed their economies from many of their suffocating government controls.

China, where famines have repeatedly ravaged the country, now has a problem of obesity– not a good thing in itself, but a big improvement over famines.

This has implications far beyond economics. Think about it: How was it even possible that transferring decisions from elites with more education, intellect, data and power to ordinary people could lead consistently to demonstrably better results?

One implication is that no one is smart enough to carry out social engineering, whether in the economy or in other areas where the results may not always be so easily quantifiable. We learn, not from our initial brilliance, but from trial and error adjustments to events as they unfold…

And Victor Davis Hanson on the race racket:

…independent white voters, many of whom voted for Obama, sense that something like [former White House “czar”] Van Jones, or [Eric Holder’s nation of]“cowards,” [speech] or the Prof. Gates matter, or the recent Sherrod non-story, or “wise Latina” will turn up about every three weeks from now on out. They suspect that it will, not just because the staffers at Fox will find it or even hype it, but because there will always with this administration be something to find. Just as the left was always able to dig up some over-zealous Christian evangelical in the Bush administration (because there were apparently a lot of them), so too the right will find a lot of racial promoters because, quite simply, there are a lot of them in this administration.

Ms. Sherrod was done a disservice in having her comments edited in a fashion that did not represent what she was trying to say. Yes, but it is also not a wise thing to go before the NAACP to offer a confessional about how one has evolved from seeing oppression in terms of white culpability, to understanding it in terms of the culpability of those “who have.” In other words, the role of minor federal agricultural officials is not confessionals to lobbying organizations about the unfairness of present American culture. One is free to do it, but one is almost asking to be quoted out of context in doing so. (The antithesis would be something like a border-dwelling federal official, who had lost a relative to Mexican smugglers, speaking before a zealous close-the-borders, mostly white group about how he came to no longer see the problem in terms of brown people, but now largely in terms of poor people, white and brown alike. Now that would be an insane thing to do, and a Republican administration, battling selectively edited videos on the Daily Kos and Huffington Post, would have fired him)…

Dogs Don’t Conspire To Salivate

The terrific David Warren on the “herd of independent thinkers”:

…Do journalists collude with one another on how to “spin” stories? On developing “talking points,” just like politicians? On which red herrings can be purposely thrown in, to mislead and distract readers from the truth? On how to hide hard but inconvenient facts? On how to help their friends, hurt their enemies, and generally, stage-manage the presentation of the news to advance a common political agenda?

I would say, no, they don’t have to. These are all things they (er, “we”) can do instinctively, without any need of formal co-ordination. All that is required is a profession whose practitioners form a self-recognizing class; who share a settled (and rather conformist) view of the world; and who spend most of their lives in each other’s company, hardly ever meeting, let alone mixing socially with, people of other classes with other points of view.

No, I have instead always cited a little ditty on this subject, ascribed to Humbert Wolfe, and various others who flourished in the 1920s: “You cannot hope to bribe or twist / The honest English journalist; / But seeing what the man will do, / Unbribed, there is no reason to.”

I still hold by this position, and will, no matter how much is leaked from the e-mail exchanges of the 400-or-so prominent liberal journalists and “experts” who linked themselves together by e-mail on JournoList — which was supposed to be private, and thus, secret…

The controversy is much like that surrounding the environmental movement, since the e-mail archive of the Climate Research Unit in England was hacked, and electronic swathes spewed gratuitously around the Internet. Those who never suspected the world’s leading “global warming” researchers of honesty or candour could hardly have been shocked by what they read. But those who believed them to be “detached” and “disinterested” scientists were in for a few surprises.

The juicy bits from the JournoList archive, exhumed and disseminated through the (conservative) Daily Caller website, show leading mainstream U.S. journalists discussing things like how to trash and smear Sarah Palin most effectively, in the moments after John McCain selected her as his running mate. Or, how to distract America from the scandal of Barack Obama’s long and intimate affiliation with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, when that story hit the fan.

It is interesting that the major themes of mainstream journalistic reporting exactly repeated those thrashed out on JournoList, beforehand — where it was taken for granted that the journalists’ purpose was to get Obama elected, by performing services as an informal “detachment” of the Obama campaign. It looks for all the world like a carefully-organized conspiracy.

And yet it isn’t. As Joe Klein, of Time magazine — prominent both as journalist and on JournoList — hath protested, he didn’t need any strategy sessions in e-mail to decide how to attack Palin; he could “easily” have selected all the angles, by himself. And I do not doubt for a moment that he is telling the truth.

It was his word “easily” that I found most significant. I could myself, in advance, “easily” have guessed from which angles Joe Klein would attack Sarah Palin, and will, as he promises, continue to attack her. The dogs in Pavlov’s experiment did not “conspire” to salivate…

And Michael Ramirez:

Trust Is Not Enough

British historian Andrew Roberts says it all in a speech quoted on a website called Friends of Israel:

…From Morocco to Afghanistan, from the Caspian Sea to Aden, the 5.25 million square miles of territory belonging to members of the Arab League is home to over 330 million people, whereas Israel covers only eight thousand square miles, and is home to seven million citizens, one-fifth of whom are Arabs. The Jews of the Holy Land are thus surrounded by hostile states 650 times their size in territory and sixty times their population, yet their last, best hope of ending two millennia of international persecution – the State of Israel – has somehow survived. When during the Second World War, the island of Malta came through three terrible years of bombardment and destruction, it was rightly awarded the George Medal for bravery: today Israel should be awarded a similar decoration for defending democracy, tolerance and Western values against a murderous onslaught that has lasted twenty times as long.

Jerusalem is the site of the Temple of Solomon and Herod. The stones of a palace erected by King David himself are even now being unearthed just outside the walls of Jerusalem. Everything that makes a nation state legitimate – bloodshed, soil tilled, two millennia of continuous residence, international agreements – argues for Israel’s right to exist, yet that is still denied by the Arab League. For many of their governments, which are rich enough to have economically solved the Palestinian refugee problem decades ago, it is useful to have Israel as a scapegoat to divert attention from the tyranny, failure and corruption of their own regimes.

The tragic truth is that it suits Arab states very well to have the Palestinians endure permanent refugee status, and whenever Israel puts forward workable solutions they have been stymied by those whose interests put the destruction of Israel before the genuine well-being of the Palestinians. Both King Abdullah I of Jordan and Anwar Sadat of Egypt were assassinated when they attempted to come to some kind of accommodation with a country that most sane people now accept is not going away.

‘We owe to the Jews,’ wrote Winston Churchill in 1920, ‘a system of ethics which, even if it were entirely separated from the supernatural, would be incomparably the most precious possession of mankind, worth in fact the fruits of all wisdom and learning put together.’

The Jewish contribution to finance, science, the arts, academia, commerce and industry, literature, philanthropy and politics has been astonishing relative to their tiny numbers. Although they make up less than half of one per-cent of the world’s population, between 1901 and 1950 Jews won 14 percent of all the Nobel Prizes awarded for Literature and Science, and between 1951 and 2000 Jews won 32 percent of the Nobel Prizes for Medicine, 32 percent for Physics, 39 percent for Economics and 29 percent for Science. This, despite so many of their greatest intellects dying in the gas chambers. Civilization owes Judaism a debt it can never repay, and support for the right of a Jewish homeland to exist is the bare minimum we can provide. Yet we tend to treat Israel like a leper on the international scene, merely for defending herself, and threatening her with academic boycotts if she builds a separation wall that has so far reduced suicide bombings by 95 percent over three years. It is a disgrace that no senior member of the Royal Family has ever undertaken an official visit to Israel, as though the country is still in quarantine after more than six decades.

Her Majesty the Queen has been on the throne for 57 years and in that time has undertaken 250 official visits to 129 countries, yet has not yet set foot in Israel. She has visited 14 Arab countries, so it cannot have been that she wasn’t in the region. Although Prince Philip’s mother Princess Alice is buried on the Mount of Olives because of her status as Righteous Among Gentiles, the Foreign Office ordained that his visit to his mother’s grave in 1994 had to be in a private capacity only. Royal visits are one of the ways legitimacy is conferred on nations, and the Coalition Government should end the Foreign Office’s de facto boycott.

After the Holocaust, the Jewish people recognised that they must have their own state, a homeland where they could forever be safe from a repetition of such horrors. Putting their trust in Western Civilisation was never again going to be enough. Since then, Israel has had to fight no fewer than five major wars for her very existence. She has been on the front line in the War against Terror and has been fighting the West’s battles for it, decades before 9/11 or 7/7 ever happened. Radical Islam is never going to accept the concept of an Israeli State, so the struggle is likely to continue for another sixty years, but the Jews know that that is less dangerous than entrusting their security to anyone else.

Very often in Britain, especially when faced with the overwhelmingly anti-Israeli bias that is endemic in our liberal media and the BBC, we fail to ask ourselves what we would have done placed in their position? The population of the United Kingdom of 63 million is nine times that of Israel. In July 2006, to take one example at random, Hizbollah crossed the border of Lebanon into Israel and killed eight patrolmen and kidnapped two others, and that summer fired four thousand Katyusha rockets into Israel which killed a further forty-three civilians.

Now, if we multiply those numbers by nine to get the British equivalent, just imagine what we would do if a terrorist organization based as close as Calais were to fire thirty-six thousand rockets into Sussex and Kent, killing 387 British civilians, after killing seventy-two British servicemen in an ambush and capturing eighteen. There is absolutely no lengths to which our Government would not go to protect British subjects under those circumstances, and quite right too. Why should Israel be expected to behave any differently?

In the course of researching my latest book on the Second World War, I recently visited Auschwitz-Birkenau. Walking along a line of huts and the railway siding where their forebears had been worked and starved and beaten and frozen and gassed to death, were a group of Jewish schoolchildren, one of whom was carrying over his shoulder the Israeli flag, a blue star of David on white background.

It was a profoundly moving sight, for it was the sovereign independence represented by that flag which guarantees that the obscenity of genocide – which killed six million people in Auschwitz and camps like it – will never again befall the Jewish people, to whom the rest of Civilisation owes so much. I said at the start that I was speaking to you as an historian, and so I say: No people in History have needed the right to self-defence and legitimacy more than the Jews of Israel, and that is what we in the Friends of Israel Initiative demand here today.

Nothing Short of A Total Disaster

David Warren on our sprawling, inept intelligence monstrosity:

Occasionally my contemporaries in the “mainstream media” do superb work, and let me mention the reporting in the Washington Post on America’s intelligence establishment.

The gist of it is that in the 106 months since the terror strikes of 9/11, more than 3,000 government and private contractor organizations have sprung up or been re-sprung from previously existing, to address questions of homeland security. They now operate from 10,000 locations across the U.S., and the better part of a million people now have top-secret security clearances to work in them. In Washington alone, over this time, 33 new building complexes have been or are being erected to further this task, with aggregate floor area three times that of the Pentagon. More than 50,000 intelligence reports are generated each year.

It would be almost redundant to say there is redundancy. The Post found that, for instance, there were 51 distinct organizations tracking the flow of money to terrorist organizations…

Note that this vast machinery utterly failed to stop any of the last few known terror strikes or attempts in the U.S. — the Christmas airline bomber in Detroit was stopped by an alert passenger, an Islamist nutjob uttering public threats slipped through all internal checks within the defence department to open fire in the military base at Ford Hood, and so on.

It is often argued, in defence of vast security establishments, that we cannot know about huge plots the system may have arrested or disrupted. In reality, however, we would probably know. This is because, contrary to the belief of conspiracy theorists, you cannot keep a secret once three people know it. When 854,000 people are in on the game — as in this case — an outsider may well have a much clearer view than an insider. Turf wars alone guarantee regular export of the more interesting information…

A further occupational blindspot is that which the notoriously rightwing and acute Mark Steyn identified, early and often, in writing about the response to Islamist terror. “Political correctness” is taken for granted, even when it costs lives. You mustn’t “profile” people (as all traditional police work required), no matter how inefficient or counter-productive it may be to treat every midwestern grandma as a potential suicide bomber.

Indeed, with a much smaller security establishment (even proportionally), and much less invasive techniques, the Israelis have a far better record for stopping terrorists dead in their tracks. And this, only because they shamelessly profile their lethal enemies.

When “politically correct” attitudes prevail, we get not only vast bureaucracy, but also, the real bad guys slipping through highly visible cracks. Nor is this situation improved when budget cuts follow and the cracks widen.

Moreover, at the very top, intelligence findings, such as they are, take the back seat to political calculation. Every major U.S. intelligence finding over the last decade, including “weapons of mass destruction in Iraq,” has been dead wrong. In turn, the celebrated, very public 2007 finding that the Iranians had given up their nuclear weapons program, was delivered for no other plausible purpose than to cut the legs out from under President Bush before he started another war. The next, corrective one, showing Iran indeed still working on it, will be designed to help Obama make a case for tougher sanctions.

In other words, truth is seldom among leading criteria in the final assessment of this “intelligence” ocean; for bureaucracies have other priorities, the chiefmost being their own survival and growth…

The vaunted 9/11 Commission labored long and expensively and still refused to conclude that political correctness prevented the discovery of the really quite inept 9/11 plotters . The FBI bigwigs (not the field agents) refused to investigate alerts from flight schools that Arab men were undergoing training to fly airliners and were curiously uninterested in learning how to takeoff and land. Hours of sensitivity training and the clear understanding that an accusation of racism is a career killer surely led FBI bureaucrats to avoid stirring up a hornets’ nest.

As Warren notes, “This is not as things should be. Yet I’m at a loss to imagine how anything short of total disaster will change the way things are.”

Why Liberals Are Paranoid

Someone once defined “affirmative action” as the process by which the power elite discriminate against one group of underprivileged people in order to give an advantage to a second group of underprivileged people.

Now New York Times columnist Ross Douthat cites research that confirms that definition:

…Last year, two Princeton sociologists, Thomas Espenshade and Alexandria Walton Radford, published a book-length study of admissions and affirmative action at eight highly selective colleges and universities. Unsurprisingly, they found that the admissions process seemed to favor black and Hispanic applicants, while whites and Asians needed higher grades and SAT scores to get in. But what was striking, as Russell K. Nieli pointed out last week on the conservative Web site Minding the Campus, was which whites were most disadvantaged by the process: the downscale, the rural and the working-class.

This was particularly pronounced among the private colleges in the study. For minority applicants, the lower a family’s socioeconomic position, the more likely the student was to be admitted. For whites, though, it was the reverse. An upper-middle-class white applicant was three times more likely to be admitted than a lower-class white with similar qualifications.

This may be a money-saving tactic. In a footnote, Espenshade and Radford suggest that these institutions, conscious of their mandate to be multiethnic, may reserve their financial aid dollars “for students who will help them look good on their numbers of minority students,” leaving little room to admit financially strapped whites.

But cultural biases seem to be at work as well. Nieli highlights one of the study’s more remarkable findings: while most extracurricular activities increase your odds of admission to an elite school, holding a leadership role or winning awards in organizations like high school R.O.T.C., 4-H clubs and Future Farmers of America actually works against your chances. Consciously or unconsciously, the gatekeepers of elite education seem to incline against candidates who seem too stereotypically rural or right-wing or “Red America.”

This provides statistical confirmation for what alumni of highly selective universities already know. The most underrepresented groups on elite campuses often aren’t racial minorities; they’re working-class whites (and white Christians in particular) from conservative states and regions. Inevitably, the same underrepresentation persists in the elite professional ranks these campuses feed into: in law and philanthropy, finance and academia, the media and the arts…

Among the highly educated and liberal, meanwhile, the lack of contact with rural, working-class America generates all sorts of wild anxieties about what’s being plotted in the heartland. In the Bush years, liberals fretted about a looming evangelical theocracy. In the age of the Tea Parties, they see crypto-Klansmen and budding Timothy McVeighs everywhere they look…

And Robin Shepherd on the left’s descent into self-parody:

Now, let’s be clear about a couple of things right from the beginning: First, all other things being equal a liberal-democratic society should have no problem accommodating a multiplicity of different cultures, and the traditions and customs that go with them; Second, in a free society, again with that proviso — all other things being equal — the way people dress in particular should be entirely their affair. As general propositions about Western society, few would disagree.

But with the French parliament’s decision to ban the burka this week in mind, it is a sign of the shallowness of much of Europe’s liberal establishment that no greater level of sophistication about such issues, and the profound implications they entail, is currently possible. The burka ban has been variously described across the continent by bien pensant opinion as “racism” “bigotry” and “Islamophobia”. So much is to be expected. But in some cases, they have truly outdone themselves.

First prize in the contest for the stupidest commentary imaginable goes to none other then Britain’s very own Guardian newspaper, whose editorial today is in parts laugh-out-loud hilarious. Consider the following, as our heroes summon up every ounce of conceivable insight to deliver what they presumably regard as the coup de grace on French and, by extension, Western, hypocrisy:

“Users of the metro or underground learn instinctively to avoid looking each other in the eye. It is regarded as an intrusion. And yet no state legislature would think about passing a law that bans the wearing of sunglasses indoors on the grounds that it poses a threat to national security”.

I promise readers that I did not just make that quotation up. A form of dress so extreme in its oppression of women that it forces them to hide their faces from society and that thus represents a form of subjugation unheard of in Europe since the witch burning days of the Inquisition is being compared to keeping yourself to yourself on the underground railway system, or the wearing of sunglasses.

As we have seen many times, the liberal-establishment’s anti-Western, third-worldist prejudices trump pro-Western, enlightenment notions of universal rights at every turn. And the commitment to such prejudices is so intense that it must be upheld even at the expense of inviting ridicule…

Don’t Ask

Glenn McCoy

He’s Just Like Me, But Better!

Noemie Emery hits the bull’s eye on the left’s fixation with Barry’s putative “shimmering intellect”:

An irresistible force is meeting an immovable object on the field of perception, and causing an odd sort of storm. The irresistible force is the growing idea that Obama has failed as a leader on a number of items: “Engagement” has failed; our allies are angry; the oil keeps gushing, his ideas are job killers; the recession goes on.

His party lost three big elections under his guidance and seems poised for a drubbing. The harder he pushes the country’s laws leftward, the more its politics bend to the right…

The immovable object is the conviction on the part of some who are also his critics that he is the smartest man who has ever held office, and is therefore too brilliant to fail. Citing his “shimmering intellect,” Richard Cohen is at a loss to explain why he hasn’t done anything with it.

“Obama, for all his brilliance, has no real, felt understanding of management structures,” says Tina Brown, describing the failure to handle the oil disaster, without explaining what, beyond talking, Obama has been brilliant at. He can talk up a storm (though of late this has faltered), but so far his shimmering intellect has led him to think that aggressors can be tamed by making concessions; that he should expand the welfare state just as it is proving unworkable (and very unpopular with the American people); and into replicating to an exact degree every mistake made by George W. Bush in handling Katrina in 2005.

Jonathan Alter blames this on Bush, while Cohen calls Obama a “sphinx,” and blames his unsettled childhood. No one advances the more likely conclusion: That Obama seems so much like their idea of brilliance that they assume it of him without too much evidence; or that their perception of brilliance — often no more than a verbal facility — isn’t much use in the world. [my emphasis]

Nor are degrees from the very best places. Presidents George Washington, Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln had next to no formal schooling, a failed haberdasher from flyover country saved West Europe from Josef Stalin, and one of the two most important presidents of the 20th century was an “amiable dunce” from Eureka College and Hollywood…

When and how then does this president’s intellect shimmer? At meetings.

He does seem a genius at chairing a forum, as at the “nuclear summit” in April, where the Washington Post claimed that he shone as a teacher, “calling on leaders to speak, embellish, oppose, and offer alternatives,” coaxing consensus and forging agreements among 45 countries at hand.

The problem was that the value of these things was limited, as the attending countries weren’t menacing anyone, while Iran and Korea, who were not in attendance, went on happily building their bombs.

He isn’t a sphinx, he’s a seminar leader who’s out of his element. And more and more out of his depth.

Jennifer Rubin comments on Emery:

…And honestly, he’s not that great at running meetings. His Afghanistan-war seminars dragged on. His health-care summit bombed when Rep. Paul Ryan and others stymied him with facts and figures.

Now that Obama’s policies and political standing are faltering, the media mavens are puzzled, as Emery notes. How can it be that he’s failing when he’s so smart? It never dawns on them that they confused slickness with smarts and urbanity with insight.

Whether it is Obama or Elena Kagan, it’s rather easy to impress the chattering class — an Ivy League degree, poise before the cameras, verbal acuity, and disdain for conservative ideas usually do it. It matters not what these figures have produced (legal opinions, legislation, etc.) but with whom they circulate and where they’ve studied. To a great degree, social elitism has replaced meritocracy as the left’s yardstick.

Unfortunately for Obama, he will be judged by what he does, not how he looks doing it. And frankly, his polish and charisma (conservatives never saw the latter, but others did) are crumbling under the pressure to finally produce something (jobs, a responsible budget, a plan for disarming Iran). There is a reason, as Emery points out, that no president has been “a blogger, a pundit, an editor of the New Yorker, or a writer for Vanity Fair.” It turns out that the rationale for the media’s lovefest — he’s just like me, but better! — was not relevant to the presidency.

Jay Nordlinger, by way of Power Line, on what might be described as shimmering idiocy:

…Michael Mukasey was attorney general from November 2007 to January 2009. He remembers visiting Guantanamo Bay in February 2008. He looked at many of the high-value detainees on video monitors. But he did not see Khalid Sheikh Mohammed; Mohammed wasn’t in his cell. He was off having a Red Cross visit.

Mukasey did see the exercise room, adjacent to Mohammed’s cell. And he noticed something interesting: Mohammed had the same elliptical machine that he, the attorney general, had back home in his Washington apartment building. Only there was this difference: Mukasey had to share his, with other residents; there was a mad scramble in the morning to get to it. Mohammed had his machine all to himself.

Bear in mind that he was the “mastermind” of the 9/11 attacks, which killed almost 3,000 people. That he was the beheader of Daniel Pearl. And so on. I wonder how much more tenderly America’s critics expect us to treat such people. “Abdominal massages,” of the type Al Gore apparently requests?