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Posts Tagged ‘Liberals’

The Tea Party gets a bad rap.  It was mocked this weekend by the self-indulgent, incoherent Comedy Central rally in DC, supposedly to Restore Sanity and/or Fear.  While some have said their rally meant nothing, I believe it was the encore performance of Bush-era contempt for those who were reasonably and genuinely concerned for safety in the age of Islamic terrorism.  Oh, our “over-reaction” to 9/11, how funny that is.  How funny that their rally coincided with the interception of numerous al Qaeda bombs from Yemen. So realistic those liberals (including Republican liberals like Bush and McCain), allowing in tens of thousands of Muslim  Arabs after 9/11, while concerning themselves so punctiliously with the human rights of human scum down in GITMO.

That said, the concern with national security to the exclusion of other traditional conservative concerns after 9/11 has been a problem for the right.  It’s not been a problem that national security became a concern.   Bush clearly intended to defeat al Qaeda and took it seriously, even as he allowed his open borders liberalism to lead him into incoherence.  But for the left, it was all just a big overeaction.  We’re not really at war in their eyes. The enemy is just misunderstood or an echo of our own deep evil as a country.

The bigger problem for conservatives was that our post-9/11 prioritization of national security excluded the historical concern of conservatives for fiscal conservatism, a serious rethinking of the entitlement state, and the traditional concern for excessive debts.  And that national security policy was made on explicitly liberal grounds of expanding democracy and maintaining high rates of immigration.  The promise of the Tea Party movement (and its associated candidates) is that serious rollback of the entitlement state is now being discussed after a decade of Republican-led prolifgacy.  And its criticism extends to weak-kneed Republicans like Charlie Crist and Lisa Murkowski.

Janet Daly observes the real import of the Tea Party movement:

It was widely known in Europe that the American Left hated George Bush (and even more, Dick Cheney) because of his military adventurism. What was less understood was that the Right disliked him almost as much for selling the pass over government spending, bailing out the banks, and failing to keep faith with the fundamental Republican principle of containing the power of central government.

So the Republicans are, if anything, as much in revolt against the establishment within their own party as they are against the Democrats. And this is what the Tea Parties (which should always be referred to in the plural, because they are not a monolithic movement) are all about: they are not just a reaction against a Left-liberal president but a repudiation of the official Opposition as well.

Nor are they simply the embodiment of reactionary social conservatism, which has been the last redoubt of the traditional Republican Right. There were plenty of people in New York who wanted to believe that Tea Partiers were just a new incarnation of the gun-totin’, gay-bashing right-to-lifers whom they found it so easy to dismiss as risible throwbacks. This is a huge political miscalculation, which quite misses the point of what makes the Congressional midterm elections this week such an interesting and historic political event. This is so much more than the predictable to-ing and fro-ing of party control midway through a presidential term. What the grassroots rebellion is really about is an attempt to pull the Republican party back to its basic philosophy of low-tax, low-spend, small government: the great Jeffersonian principle that the best government is that which governs least.

Of course, there is much radicalism among Tea Partiers, including a general concern for open borders and a sense of “shoving off” the guilt-trip they have endured from minority hustler politicians demanding more and more largesse and special treatment.  The Tea Party should not restrict itself to fiscal conservatism or mere partisanship. It should not confuse itself, a la Glenn Beck, that a nonpartisan restoration of honor will do the trick.  If the Tea Party leaders and their members would connect the dots of the open borders Third World invasion of America, the racial dynamics of affirmative action, the impossibility of “exporting democracy,” and the unsustainable American welfare state–as many have, individually–then real sustainable reform of our country and its health could occur.

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One of the funny things in life is that the liberal elite spends a lot of its time contemplating its genius, much in the manner of Aristotle’s Prime Mover.  And this takes the form chiefly of feeling superior to and contrasting itself with Red State America.  The usual basis of this feeling of superiority is a belief in its own greater wisdom and moral enlightenment, as evidenced by things like recycling, a belief in evolution and global warming, or the merits of “multiculturalism” and diversity.  But the religious belief in equality, on which much of their identity is based, is in fact beset by major evidentiary problems.  For instance, the persistent racial “achievement gap” on test and educational performance, which the media, politicians, and the like so earnestly spend time trying to correct. It must be racism, but this belies common sense, since so many teachers, administrators, and the like move heaven and earth to help minorities do well on these tests.

One dimension of the confusion on the racial achievement gap is a real ignorance of test results and the ways that making tests too easy, or too hard, can eliminate the gap, just as these changes eliminate the value of the test itself in identifying the range of ability.  The graph above by “La Griffe du Lion” illustrates this and is explained here.  (Hat tip to Steve Sailer, of course.)  This is actually pretty easy to understand when you think about it, yet facile references to this or that latest achievement-gap-creating test abound.

Innumeracy, I’ve found, is pretty extreme among the elite, which mostly consists of verbally talented media, legal, and educational personalities.  This is especially true at the second tier–community college professors, journalists in hinterland newspapers, congressmen.  Things like standard deviations or regressions or even basic concepts like a Gaussian distribution are all over their heads.  Math reminds them that they’re not as smart as they think, and when confronted, they usually stamp their feet and mutter something about “lies, damned lies, and statistics.”  God forbid they drill down on methodology and make a mathematical argument.

I’m not sure being right always trumps being popular.  In the short to medium term, lies can persist quite a long time.  The Soviet Union, itself built on myths of equality, lasted some 70 years.  And education graduate programs are filled with propagandists, mediocrities, and committed leftists.  Then again, how many times can a school district try this or that latest fad, come up with the same result, and not have people wonder if this is just the way it is?  I mean, no one worries about the achievement gap in marathon running or NFL running backs or armed robbery.  In dark corners of the internet–places like La Griffe du Lion, Gene Expression, VDare, and Steve Sailer’s website–the basic foundations of reality on matters of group difference, what is lovingly called human biodiversity, are being settled in a way that any intellectually serious person would ascent to.  And there is evidence this is trickling into the mainstream media, such as David Brooks and Malcom Gladwell.

One possible collateral benefit of having Obama as president will be greater candor on matters of race among all groups. Perhaps we’re in the early stages of the national dialogue on which we’ve been too “cowardly” to proceed.  But like the Soviet Union’s glastnost and perestroyka, this may lead in directions unintended and unforseen by today’s ruling class.

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Obama has repeatedly reached for one of the lowest and most insulting rhetorical tricks in the book:  begging the question. In his inaugural address, for instance, he labeled all criticis of government spending as “cynics” who “fail to understand . . . that the ground has shifted beneath them — that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply.”  In other words, I’m right and the only question now is the details.   He just wants “common sense” on gun control and other areas.  Any high principled reason for avoiding the big government fad of the moment  is cynicism and never accepted as a stand for high principle or constitutionalism, nor even as reasonable disagreement.

Consider his defense of the pork-laden “stimulus bill” authored by his fellow Democrats in the Congress:

In recent days, there have been misguided criticisms of this plan that echo the failed theories that helped lead us into this crisis — the notion that tax cuts alone will solve all our problems; that we can meet our enormous tests with half-steps and piecemeal measures; that we can ignore fundamental challenges such as energy independence and the high cost of health care and still expect our economy and our country to thrive.

I reject these theories, and so did the American people when they went to the polls in November and voted resoundingly for change. They know that we have tried it those ways for too long. And because we have, our health-care costs still rise faster than inflation. Our dependence on foreign oil still threatens our economy and our security. Our children still study in schools that put them at a disadvantage. We’ve seen the tragic consequences when our bridges crumble and our levees fail.

In spite of indefensible pork, a dubious theory of government spending increasingly discredited by economic historians, and a growing national debt that has more than a little to do with why we are here, Obama assumes his mandate is whatever he happens to want at the moment, regardless of how it deviates from his campaign themes.  He did not run, after all, on big deficit stimuli but instead on “middle class tax cuts” and a return to sanity on foreign policy.  In fact, he spent a lot of time criticizing Bush’s pork and fiscal irresponsibility.

One thing every elected official must understand is that his mandate is more often pretty weak; it’s not a license to do whatever he wants whenever he wants without regard to public opinion.  People will turn against policies that were never explained earlier or seem extravagant and wrong-headed.

Obama’s own sense of incorruptibility may be his political Achilles’ Heal.  Obama’s appointment of the tax cheat and former healthcare lobbyist Tom Daschle for HHS, the tax cheat Tim Geithner to the Treasury, and the occasional military lobbyist, William Lynn–it’s all just corruption with a human face, in this case the reassuring face of Obama.  “Don’t worry kids, I know what I’m doing.  I’m incorruptible, and me breaking my own promises for a ‘new tone’ and a ‘new ethical climate’ is not breaking promises.  I know when to follow the rules and when to make exceptions.”

At times like these, we should not forget that he is a South Side of Chicago politician, a man formed in a a onepartytown of ethnic spoils and big government.  Chicago is a place where no one, including the opposition, respects limited government and fiscal responsibility.  It’s winner take all.  Obama’s arrogance, his roots, and his free pass by the media are leaving him vulnerable to his tin ear for the apolitical sense by many Americans that a government spending spree during a recession may not be the best idea on earth. But, I guess all those people are just devoid of common sense and cynical.

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I recently completed Diversity: Invention of a Concept, by Peter Wood. This is the first of several book reviews I’ll be writing of books generously sent to me by my readers.

Diversity has become one of the defining ideals of our age, surpassing in certain respects our earlier commitments to formal equality, liberty, the rule of law, and merit. The diversity concept, unlike more exotic ideas such as multiculturalism, is important because it has spread outside the academy into the world of business and politics. Every mainstream institution from Hollywood and the art world to the education establishment and business trumpets its commitment to diversity. Yet diversity has undergone little criticism. Unlike affirmative action, which was earlier justified as a form of reparations for white injustice to blacks, diversity is a “feel good” idea that purports to benefit everyone, even members of the majority. Minorities advantaged by affirmative action obviously benefit by receiving positions and admissions they would otherwise not receive. But privileged groups also benefit according to diversity’s partisans because they are now exposed beneficially to different perspectives, ideas, and cultures.

Earlier works such as Dinesh D’Souza’s End of Racism (1995) and Alan Bloom’s Closing of the American Mind (1987) dealt with narrower issues: the continuing social problems facing black Americans and the decline of standards in the academy respectively. Both of these works were authored in an age when diversity was less accepted as an aspirational ideal than it is at present. Wood’s contribution is unique. . . .

(more…)

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Ace reports an extraordinary story that I’d like to hear the disciples of judicial process and civil liberties for terrorists in the Democratic Party respond to:

Last May, Iraqi terrorists kidnapped three American soldiers.

American intelligence officials searched for cyber-signals about the kidnapping… and actually found them. They found the kidnappers talking to each other on-line.

However, they had to stop listening because the signals were passing through an American-based server and under the law that meant there could be no eavesdropping without a warrant.

So they stopped listening in on foreign terrorists holding kidnapped American soldiers.

For ten hours, officials worked to get “emergency authorization” to resume eavesdropping.

His post, and the evidence in support, is worth reading in full. In an earlier post entitled Wishful Thinking and Terrorism and another here, I’ve discussed some of the issues surrounding this issue.  In short, my view is that combating terrorists located overseas during a time of war, when combined with emerging communications technologies, demands flexibility and less judicial process than the fight against peacetime, domestic criminality. It would be nice if the Democratic Party would grow up and quit acting like this war to protect America from terrorism (and also the exigencies of protecting our troops fighting it overseas) can be carried on effectively without some flexibility in the executive branch and its agencies. Process is not free. We accept this domestically because we, American citizens, might be caught in the law enforcement net. But for terrorists communicating overseas with one another or their agents in America, there are few valuable interests at stake. If any American is talking to Khalid Sheik Mohammad, I want someone in the CIA listening as a matter of course.

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The University of Chicago Law School’s Geoff Stone says that Columbia was within its rights and fulfilling its core values in allowing Iran’s President to speak. I don’t necessarily disagree, nor do I completely disagree with his statement that “[b]ecause a university must remain neutral on all matters of public policy that do not directly affect the university itself, it should not have a faculty vote, for example, on whether to condemn the war in Iraq, on whether Mr. Bush is a good President, or on whether Mr. Ahmadinejad violates human rights.” In other words, universities should be a forum for debate, discussion, challenging conventional wisdom, and the like. They are not mere instruments of propaganda, whether for the Church, the government, or anyone else.

But what’s missing from Stone and Bollinger’s defense of free speech and “diversity” of ideas and lifestyles is some apology for the reflexive hostility of Columbia University and most other Ivy League schools to all things military, going back to the student riots of ’68 and the expulsion of ROTC units from campus. That expulsion implicitly said: we do draw the line and make an expressive stand here; the military is too corrosive to the campus’s mission and we will not support honorable service within the same, nor will we allow our campus to be sullied with their presence and blandishments. Of course, nothing required anyone even then (during the draft) to participate in ROTC, accept the justice and prudence of the Vietnam War, or otherwise fail to adopt an independent point of view. It was just one option among many on campus, and the SDS radicals and the weak-kneed trustees simply kicked them off. Blackfive has the scoop on Columbia’s expulsion of ROTC here, and the Wall Street Journal provides some background here (registration required) as well.

Now the anti-military bias has been dressed up by the now-tenured radicals as opposition to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. But we know this is just a pretext; after all, the rest of the federal government can still recruit on campus, not least for things like judicial clerkships and cushy positions with Senators and Congressmen. But the military alone, one of its departments, is excluded. It’s unthinkable this pick-and-choose approach would be applied to any other discriminatory employer, such as a law firm that discriminated in only one of its offices. No, the motive is the same now as then: hostility to mainstream America and its military and a failure of universities to recognize that, while they are places of debate and inquiry, they are also in some sense part of a society and owe its core institutions something in terms of respect, support, and fair treatment. I discussed the essential hypocricy of elite schools’ approach to the military in this discussion of the Solomon Amendment.

Anti-American despots are allowed on campus in the name of free speech and diversity, but the university’s own admitted students, some of whom carry with them valuable ROTC scholarships, are basically told they’re going to have to pursue their careers and their studies across town, with all the inconvenience and disrespect that implies. The hippies no longer need to spit in the face of our soldiers; instead, they can now spit in their faces figuratively and officially through discrimination, ostracism, and harassment.

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Andrew Sullivan, as usual, is confused and lets himself get carried away when it comes to homosexuality. He notes, “In 1994, just 19 Fortune 500 brands advertised in the gay press. Last year, 183 did.”

He concludes solemnly, “The private sector has long led the government in recognizing the simple reality of gay America.”

Umm, no. The government has always recognized this just fine when it is relevant, and it certainly can’t be said to have ignored gays in the bygone age of criminal sodomy laws. No, the government treats us all the same, except when we’re different in a relevant way. It doesn’t need to recognize the “gay reality” more than any other. The government and its laws rightfully do not care if we have long or short hair, or if we spend our money on books or on CDs, or if we are stylish or dull. A gay person’s legal reality is no different than anyone’s else. A gay person can call 911, file a lawsuit, and apply for a student loan. And, of course, a gay person can marry a person of the opposite sex just like everyone else. What Sullivan really is saying by innuendo is the theme underlying so much of his writing: since esteemed big businesses don’t seem to get hung up on gays, and indeed make money marketing to them, why can’t I and every other gay person get my surrogate daddy’s approval through government-recognized gay marriage? I hate to be so harsh, but this theme runs through his and all other gay people’s appeals to acceptance rather than mere toleration.

Of course, the difference between the government and the market is profound. It is the differences between law and its attendant social approval on one side and voluntary, private arrangements on the other. The government does sometimes care if we’re a man or a woman, or a citizen or a foreigner, or any number of other distinctions. In these areas, the law’s otherwise one-size-fits-all rules recognize that people are not equal in all respects. But these exceptions are exactly that: exceptional. For the most part, the law treats all of us the same.

Businesses are quite different, since there is a great deal of money to be made by appealing to niche markets. Thus, instead of one movie or one book or one type of car or one type of music, there are many examples of each. Unlike the laws, the market and its participants gain a great deal by recognizing our differences in finer and finer detail. This doesn’t prove that the business world is more decent than the government, but rather that it functions differently. It appeals to our voluntary choices, does not use force against us, primarily seeks to make a profit, and does not purport to codify our moral sensibilities.

Indeed, the behavior of businessmen historically shows that they are prone to avarice and indifference to the common good and should, therefore, be appropriately regulated to prevent anti-social activity. Businesses, after all, have sold everything from radar detectors and unsafe cars to Olde English 800 and security systems for drug lords. Various businesses might appeal to gays–gay people do, after all, have money–but they also appeal to everyone else: good, bad, and indifferent. Government, with an entirely different set of tools and concerns must keep people and their businesses within certain boundaries. It must bestow its benefits parsimoniously. And this means, at times, it must operate far behind the curve of social change, lest faddishness be enshrined in law, e.g., urban renewal, prohibition.

Sullivan’s lazy, hair-brained, and easily refuted blog entries are a real disgrace to his own intellect and an insult to his numerous readers. His latest example of sophistry is, sadly, just one of many.

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