In true Orwellian fashion, Progressives wrap their misanthropic, divisive, damaging, and, centrally, racist plans in neutral or even pleasant language. Zombie looks at what they say, deconstructs it, and presents us with what they actually mean.
And while I’m here, let me just throw in a soupcon of data: U.S. Military more educated than the population it serves.
Moreover, considering that college leeches out common sense and inserts PC nonsense, along with a substantial dollop of extended adolescence helplessness, I’d be inclined to believe that enlistees who choose the military over college come out of their experience more competent, more knowledgeable, more functional, more useful, and better citizens than the average Ivy League college grad.
To the extent this implies that the government itself is hiding behind the Bill of Rights, this poster isn’t quite right. An individual in the government, rather than the government itself, is pleading the 5th. Just because one works for the government doesn’t mean one gives up ones rights as a citizen.
Nevertheless, I liked the poster because it’s a reminder that we currently have an exceptionally corrupt administration in Washington. Should we be able to switch to a Republican administration, Lerner will be followed by a long line of 5th pleaders:
Hat tip: Caped Crusader
It’s been one of those days. I’m regrouping.
And the winners at the Watcher’s Council are….
- *First place with 2 2/3 votes! Joshuapundit–The Ukraine Folk Dance And What It Really Means
- Second place *t* with 2 1/3 votes Bookworm Room–A story showing everything that’s wrong with bureaucracies: rules have replaced morals and human decency
- Third place with 2 votes –The Right Planet – So You Want a Con-Con, Huh?
- Fourth place with 1 2/3 vote – The Independent Sentinel – The Government Is Using Covert Operatives to Manipulate and Destroy People on the Internet
- Fourth place *t* with 1 1/3 votes –The Noisy Room – The Clear And Present Danger of Russian Expansionism
- Fourth place *t* with 1 1/3 votes –The Razor – Class is In Session for Obama
- Fifth place with 1 vote –Simply Jews – Western world and Ukraine: peacemakers for bandits?
- Sixth place *t* with 2/3 vote –VA Right! - What the Obamacare Numbers are NOT Telling Us – How Many Policies Have Been Bound?
- Sixth place *t* with 2/3 vote – Nice Deb – Spoiler Alert: New Liam Neesan Movie “Non-Stop” Is anti-American Garbage – NYC Audience Groaned When Villain Revealed
- Sixth place *t* with 2/3 vote –Ask Marion – Did Sarah Palin Predict Russia Invading Ukraine If Obama Got Elected?…
- Seventh place *t* with 2/3 vote –The Glittering Eye -The Stupidest Advice
- Seventh place *t* with 2/3 vote –Liberty’s Spirit – Bibi Needs to Keep the Ukraine in Mind this Week
- First place with 3 votes! – Allen West –Obama and Hagel have surrendered our military strength submitted by The Noisy Room
- Second place *t* with 2 2/3 votes –K.T. McFarland– How Obama could stop Putin’s Ukraine power grab without firing a shot submitted by Joshuapundit
- Third place *t* with 1 1/3 votes –Jack Matlock – Obama’s Confrontation over Ukraine Has Increased Putin’s Support at Home submitted by The Glittering Eye
- Third place *t* with 1 1/3 votes – George Szirtes – Israel and ‘Apartheid’ submitted by Simply Jews
- Third place *t* with 1 1/3 votes – Raymond Ibrahim – Why Are Christians the World’s Most Persecuted Group? submitted by The Watcher
- Fourth place *t* with 1 vote -Walter Russell Mead –Putin Invades Crimea: Obama Hardest Hit? submitted by The Razor
- Fourth place *t* with 1 votes -Doug Ross@Journal –TERROR, TORTURE, MURDER: The Horrifying Truth Behind America’s Open Borders Policy submitted by The Independent Sentinel
- Fifth place *t* with 2/3 vote -Rush Limbaugh -Arizona Fallout: Mr. Sulu Doesn’t Like Me; Gay Hairdresser Refuses Service to NM Gov submitted by Ask Marion
- Fifth place *t* with 2/3 votes -John Hayward, The Conversation -As the White House Turns submitted by Nice Deb
- Sixfth place *t* with 1/3 vote – On Second Thought/New Republic – Mitt Was Right About Russia submitted by GrEaT sAtAn”S gIrLfRiEnD
- Sixth place *t* with 1/3 vote – Washington Free Beacon – Obama Budget Will Add $8.3 Trillion To Debt submitted by VA Right!
- Sixth place *t* with 1/3 vote – Paul Roderick Gregory/Forbes – Want Putin’s Attention On Ukraine? Follow His Money submitted by The Right Planet
- Sixth place with *t* 1/3 vote -Peter Wehner/Commentary-Obama’s Journey from Arrogance to Incompetence submitted by Bookworm Room
- Sixth place with *t* 1/3 vote – Elder of Ziyon – The epic meltdown of an Israel hater at UCLA (NOW WITH MUSIC VIDEO!) submitted by The Watcher
- Sixth place with *t* 1/3 vote – John C.Goodman – Why We Lost The War On Poverty submitted by The Watcher
Last week, I wrote about an image I saw in Facebook, which sought to disparage religion by showing that religion tears people down, while science builds them up:
My response was to mock up an alternative poster that the little girl could have held up, one that shows that religion elevates the individual while pure science has no regard for the individual:
Somehow that post came across the radar of Judith Levy, who blogs at Ricochet. Judith believes that I used the wrong tactics in the battle against anti-religious bias:
The incredibly depressing photograph to the right has been flying all over the interwebs recently. As you can see, a cute little girl is being used as a prop to bash religion and tout science (which, of course, are assumed to be mutually exclusive).
I was struck by the response to this photo on a blog called Bookwormroom.com, the subhead of which claims that “conservatives deal with facts and reach conclusions”.
At this point, Levy offers a few quotations from my poster, the one that has religion acknowledging life’s creation from the moment of conception, versus the scientific view that we are a bag of chemicals. She then wraps up by concluding that I offered the argument to defend religion:
Now, I understand the anguish of religious Christians when they see offensive tripe like the above photo disseminated, especially with the big steaming side of self-righteousness that always accompanies it. (One yearns to give the people zipping it out to all their Facebook friends a good patsch to wipe away the smirk.) Still, responding by announcing that religion = pro-life seems counterproductive: it reduces the issue down to pro-life vs. pro-choice and shuts the conversation down immediately. (It also discounts the reality of religious believers who are also pro-choice, but that’s a secondary issue here.)
What has always amazed me about the God vs. Science line of thinking on the left is how unimaginative it is. Why not attack on that line instead? Why not force a leftist to explain why the math behind the movement of the spheres disproves the existence of a creator? Put them on the defensive, don’t go into your own defensive crouch. A person who puts a sign like this in his own daughter’s hands is not going to hear a word you say if you open with a pro-life argument. That’s for later, no?
Aside from finding it amusing that Levy thinks that I, a vaguely theistic Jew, am a “religious Christian,” I think it’s worth clarifying what I was setting out to do. Levy apparently believes that I somehow abandoned my commitment to facts by engaging in pro-Life propaganda, and others may also have misunderstood what I set out to do.
Contrary to Levy’s assumption about my goal in writing that post, I was not attempting to prove religion. Why not? Because I don’t see disproving religion as the central point of the original photograph. Look carefully at the poster. It can be summed up as follows: “According to religion I am [all sorts of negative things]” versus “according to science I am all sorts of [wonderful].” The point that child’s parent is trying to make isn’t that God is dead, but that religious practices and people devalue humans beings, while pure science, especially as practiced on the Left, elevates them.
You don’t have to take my word for it. Go back and read the poster carefully. It doesn’t challenge religion at all. There is not a single word in there that can be interpreted to mean “There is no God.” Instead, it says only that those who believe in God do not value human life, while those who believe in science do. That was the central canard I was attacking.
Within the context of the poster’s implicit argument, every statement I made was a factually true challenge to the poster. I wasn’t arguing religious doctrine or ultimate scientific fact. Instead, I took on the poster writer’s world, in which religious people think humans are worthless, evil and valueless, and demonstrated that, in the real world — and the world of those facts I cherish — America’s religious Christians (as opposed to those Leftist’s who, like the Devil, can quote scripture) have a fanatic belief in each individual’s value. To that end, I focus closely on the way in which America’s religious class practices its religion.
On the flip side, I wasn’t challenging whether science is right or wrong. (Although I will say here that, to the extent science is based on data and conclusions that can be drawn from that data, it’s rather silly to think that hard, real science deals in value-laden terms as “beautiful,” “full of wonder” and “smart.”) Instead, I pointed out, entirely accurately, that it’s the nature of science to reduce life to the lowest common denominator — a collection of chemicals. Moreover, it’s the “scientific” Left that has taken this definition and concluded, in true Orwellian fashion, that not all lives are equally valuable.
In sum, Levy seems to believe that I failed to counter the original photo because I didn’t engage in a theological argument about God’s existence. And she’s right, I didn’t and nor would I do it differently if I could re-write the post. To the extent I believe that the original photo intended to say that religion and God place different values on human lives, I cut through the conclusory language in the original photo and replaced those value-laden terms with hard facts about the way in which religious people differ in their approach from those who elevate science to a religion when it comes to determining each individual’s true worth.
I have a new post up at PJ Lifestyle:
When I was in my 20s and 30s, my dream was to publish the Great American Junk Novel. I had no illusions about my ability (or, rather, inability) to write something profound, but I truly believed I could write a Bridges of Madison County or Da Vinci Code. I was wrong. After innumerable efforts, I gave up. I have no imagination, no sense of character, and I’m incapable of writing dialog.Thanks to the blogosphere, however, I discovered in my 40s that, while I’m not and never will be a novelist, I am an essayist. Over the past decade, I’ve written over 11,000 essays, which easily qualifies me for “expert” status. My blog has become a vast repository of my thoughts on just about everything: politics (mostly politics), parenting, education, Hollywood, social issues, national security, travel — you name it, and I’ve probably written about it.
Considering how many hours I’ve spent at the keyboard, I’ve always hoped that I could monetize my blog. Unfortunately, while I’ve got a solid, and very dear to me, following of readers who genuinely like the way I think and write, I’ve never leveraged my way into the Big Time amongst conservative bloggers. Not being in the Big Time means that any monetization I’ve done has earned me just enough money to buy a few books, not to make a mortgage payment or two.
A few years ago, it occurred to me that I might be able to make some money if I took my writings to a new readership. That’s how I decided to try my hand at self-publishing. I saw it all clearly: I would assemble my essays, package them attractively, upload them at Kindle Direct Publishing, and sell them for a profit on Amazon. It seemed so easy….
Sadly, it wasn’t easy, at least not the first time around. That didn’t deter me from publishing a second e-book and, just recently, a third. Each book has been easier than the one before, so I’d like to share with you some lessons I’ve learned, many of which I learned the hard way.
Read the rest here.
For those unfamiliar with my writing, the three books are:
A few years ago, a graphic went around that perfectly illustrated the way in which photographs can be used, not only to capture the moment, but to distort the moment:
That graphic popped into my head the moment I read a story about a really evil act by the hard-Left Associated Press:
“I was horrified,” said John Stemberger, chairman of the board of Trail Life USA, a new, rapidly-growing scouting organization that doesn’t allow openly gay members.
Stemberger was referring to an Associated Press photograph that accompanied an in-depth story about Trail Life. The image showed a group of young boys gathered in a circle with their hands raised at an unusual angle. The AP’s original caption on the photo said they were reciting the organization’s “creed” during a meeting in North Richland Hills, Texas.
The photograph ran last Sunday in newspapers across the nation and generated hundreds of angry emails and some threatening telephone calls to Trail Life headquarters.
But it turns out that the boys were not saluting Hitler and contrary to the first Associated Press caption, they were not reciting a creed. The boys were singing “Taps,” a longtime Boy Scout tradition that the Texas Trail USA troop had adapted as their own.
The boys had gathered in a circle with their hands raised straight into the air. They gradually lowered their hands as they sang the song. It concludes with their hands flush against their side.
What’s even more despicable is that the AP, having published this gross calumny, initially refused to correct it:
But what really infuriated Stemberger was the Associated Press’ initial reluctance to remove the photograph and correct the caption. The Trail Life leader provided me with email correspondence he had with Nomaan Merchant, the writer of the story.
Eventually, the AP did correct the photo, and remove it from its archives, and Merchant (who was not responsible for the photo) apologized, but the whole thing smells bad — that the AP did that in the first place and that the AP took so long to correct its libel by implication that the implied message from the photograph took on a life of its own. As Churchill (or Mark Twain, or someone else entirely) said, “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on,” a situation made worse when a major media outlet promulgates the lie onto the internet and then takes its own sweet time correcting it.
I cannot vouch for the following email’s veracity. That is, I do not know whether it’s true that there’s rising distress in the military about the Obama administration or whether it’s true that troops and veterans are beginning to share political information amongst themselves directed at clipping Obama’s wings in 2014. A lot of the information about ROEs sounds old, but the reference to the 2014 election indicates that this is a current email. All I can say is that I got this and found it interesting enough to pass along:
You may not be a veteran but you might know someone who is to pass this on to.
VET’S BACKLASH AGAINST OBAMA, A movement has been started by our armed forces, to get out the vote in 2014. They are organizing themselves, but this can be done by all of us. The President, the Commander in Chief, has made the Rules of Engagement (ROE) so difficult, that our troops are often killed before they can even get permission to fight. Nothing has been done to stop our troops from being murdered by Afghanis they are training, either. Now, the President wants the US to sign on to the UNs International Criminal Court (ICC), which would allow the UNs ICC to arrest and try US troops for War Crimes, without the legal protections guaranteed under US Law, and from which there is no appeal. The President, with his Democratic control of the Senate, has nearly all the power. If the Non-Establishment can take back the Senate in 2014, our troops can once again be protected from unnecessary danger. Please consider this, and send it on to your mailing lists. Thank You and Semper Fi,
Interestingly enough, when GWB was president you heard about the military deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan almost daily. With Obama in the White House, the mainstream media has been strangely quiet. More than 1,000 American soldiers have lost their lives in Afghanistan in the last 27 months. This is more than the combined total of the nine years before. Thirty have died in August. During the last month, over 50 additional NATO and US servicemen have been murdered, inside jobs by those who are hired to be a force for good in Afghanistan .
The commander in chief is AWOL. Not a peep, although he ordered the White House flag flown at half-staff for the Sikhs that were killed. There is a deep disgust, a fury, growing in the ranks of the military against the indifferent incompetence of this president.
It has taken on a dangerous tone. No one knows what to do about him, but the anger runs deep as the deaths continue with no strategic end in sight to the idiocy of this war. Obama has had 4 years to end this futile insanity, during which time he has vacationed, golfed, campaigned, and generally ignored the plight of our men and women in uniform. But, there is now a movement afoot in the armed services to launch a massive get out the vote drive against this president. Not just current active duty types, but the National Guard, Reserves, the retired, and all other prior service members. This is no small special interest group, but many millions of veterans who can have an enormous impact on the outcome of the November election if they all respond.
The million military retirees in Florida alone could mean an overwhelming victory in that state if they all show up at the polls. It might not keep another one hundred U.S. troops from dying between now and November, but a turn out to vote by the military against this heart breaking lack of leadership can make a powerful statement that hastens a change to the indifference of this shallow little man who just lets our soldiers die.
(Thanks to Caped Crusader)
There are a lot of things I miss about being young. Today, I miss the ability to sleep even if the house if falling down around me. I can’t do that anymore. I somehow lost the sleeping knack when I had babies and I’ve never gotten it back. Sleep seems incredibly distant lately. Between my knee and my shoulder, both of which refuse to quiet down at night, I’m feeling grumpy and disconnected today. This will therefore be a short round-up.
Jamie Glasov looks at Danielle Dimacali’s insane (a word I use in its literal sense) meltdown when UCLA just barely rejected the BDS movement. He wonders if any of the atrocities committed against Jews because they are Jews would have moved her too. It’s powerful and painful stuff, and makes quite clear just how deranged the anti-Israel movement really is.
Peter Wehner has a good point about politics: those of us who are most deeply committed are often the worst strategists because we have no perspective about what moves the ordinary American voter. This isn’t a Left/Right thing; it’s a “connecting to voters” thing. Now that I’ve written the preceding sentence, I can see that Obama won — twice — because he and his side had a better sense of which “voter buttons” to push. It helps, of course, that Democrats weren’t constrained by such old-fashioned notions as truth and decency, but the fact remains that McCain and Romney never connected with voters. I can’t help believe that,despite the despicable stuff coming from the Democrats, Reagan, with his sunny good humor and folksy ability to simplify complex ideas and relate them directly to voters, would have connected easily.
My husband and I are watching season two of House of Cards on Netflix. Indeed, we expect to finish the series tonight. I agree with everything Andrew Klavan says about it.
Kevin Williamson was adopted, a personal matter he brings up solely because he’s very concerned about a push across America to open previously closed adoptions. Being Kevin Williamson, he makes an excellent case about the right to privacy. Reading his article led me to a different thought. The Left is all about severing family ties, so that the state becomes all-powerful in people’s lives. It’s therefore funny that, in this single area, the state is all about forcing family ties where people don’t want them to exist.
VDH has a great one about the Left’s war on science. The Left supported science when it dovetailed with Leftist ideology. Now that this dovetailing has ended (yes, life does begin before birth; no, California’s devastating drought has more to do with overpopulation and environmentalist kibosh’s on new reservoirs than it does with global warming), the Left has become defiantly anti-science — but, being the Left, it masks this defiance under the mantle of science. Always remember, Leftists are Humpty-Dumpty: they determine what words mean.
And finally, Keith Koffler writes the scathing post Obama deserves for planning his third luxury vacation in as many months — a plane that Obama fears will be derailed because of that pesky Putin. In 1916, Woodrow Wilson’s campaign was “He kept us out of war.” If Obama in the next few days manages to lay to rest America’s involvement in Ukraine, his personal motto will be “I kept us out of war so that I could go on vacation.”
- Liberty’s Spirit – Bibi Needs to Keep the Ukraine in Mind this Week
- The Noisy Room – The Clear And Present Danger of Russian Expansionism
- Joshuapundit-The Ukraine Folk Dance And What It Really Means
- Ask Marion – Did Sarah Palin Predict Russia Invading Ukraine If Obama Got Elected?…
- Simply Jews – Western world and Ukraine: peacemakers for bandits?
- The Razor – Class is In Session for Obama
- GrEaT sAtAn”S gIrLfRiEnD – How Realism Failed with Russia
- VA Right! - What the Obamacare Numbers are NOT Telling Us – How Many Policies Have Been Bound?
- The Right Planet – So You Want a Con-Con, Huh?
- Bookworm Room – A story showing everything that’s wrong with bureaucracies: rules have replaced morals and human decency
- The Independent Sentinel – The Government Is Using Covert Operatives to Manipulate and Destroy People on the Internet
- Nice Deb – Spoiler Alert: New Liam Neesan Movie “Non-Stop” Is anti-American Garbage – NYC Audience Groaned When Villain Revealed
- Rhymes With Right – Proposed Resolutions For Republican Precinct Conventions
- The Glittering Eye -The Stupidest Advice
- The Colossus of Rhodey – If She Wins, The Country Is Already Down The Tubes
- The Mellow Jihadi – Irving Milchberg Sep 15 1927 ~ January 26 2014
- The Pirate’s Cove – A Pause In Warming Doesn’t Disprove Human Caused Hotcoldwetdry Or Something
- Victory Girls – A Message to the Patriots in Connecticut
- The Lonely Conservative – Ezekial Emanuel Is Really Looking Forward To The Demise Of Insurance Companies
- Jeffrey H. Anderson/Weekly Standard – Obamacare vs. Medicare submitted by Liberty’s Spirit
- Allen West –Obama and Hagel have surrendered our military strength submitted by The Noisy Room
- K.T. McFarland– How Obama could stop Putin’s Ukraine power grab without firing a shot submitted by Joshuapundit
- Rush Limbaugh -Arizona Fallout: Mr. Sulu Doesn’t Like Me; Gay Hairdresser Refuses Service to NM Gov submitted by Ask Marion
- George Szirtes – Israel and ‘Apartheid’ submitted by Simply Jews
- Walter Russell Mead –Putin Invades Crimea: Obama Hardest Hit? submitted by The Razor
- On Second Thought/New Republic – Mitt Was Right About Russia submitted by GrEaT sAtAn”S gIrLfRiEnD
- Washington Free Beacon – Obama Budget Will Add $8.3 Trillion To Debt submitted by VA Right!
- Paul Roderick Gregory/Forbes – Want Putin’s Attention On Ukraine? Follow His Money submitted by The Right Planet
- Peter Wehner/Commentary-Obama’s Journey from Arrogance to Incompetence submitted by Bookworm Room
- Doug Ross@Journal –TERROR, TORTURE, MURDER: The Horrifying Truth Behind America’s Open Borders Policy submitted by The Independent Sentinel
- John Hayward, The Conversation -As the White House Turns submitted by Nice Deb
- Jack Matlock – Obama’s Confrontation over Ukraine Has Increased Putin’s Support at Home submitted by The Glittering Eye
- Elder of Ziyon – The epic meltdown of an Israel hater at UCLA (NOW WITH MUSIC VIDEO!) submitted by The Watcher
- John C.Goodman – Why We Lost The War On Poverty submitted by The Watcher
- Raymond Ibrahim – Why Are Christians the World’s Most Persecuted Group? submitted by The Watcher
- Heather MacDonald/City Journal – Is the Criminal-Justice System Racist? submitted by Watcher
This is somewhat off the beaten track for me, because I don’t usually post images solely because they’re attractive. This, however, was so pretty I couldn’t resist passing it along. I have no idea if it’s a photograph of an actual “flower dress” or if it’s an exceptionally realistic drawing. I don’t know who did it or where it’s from. I just know that it made me happy to look at it.
Here’s a story that’s familiar to many of my older readers, but one that may be surprising to my younger ones. Once upon a time, you’d sign up for the SAT a few weeks before you were to take it. Then, the night before the SAT, you’d go to bed a little earlier than usual. And that was it. That was SAT test prep — an early bedtime.
Nowadays, SAT test prep is a huge business. Here in affluent Marin, every teen I know has taken, is taking, or will take an SAT (or ACT) prep test. The good classes do two things: they tutor kids in the fundamentals of math and English that one needs for the test and they teach test taking techniques. These last are probably the most useful, since they show the kids the tricks of the test, and give them a way to translate test language into the academic language they already know, both in math and English. Most prep programs promise that, if the student gets with the program, he can expect to raise his test score by 200-400 points.
Today’s Most Emailed New York Times article announced that the SAT is about to undertake a big change:
Saying its college admission exams do not focus enough on the important academic skills, the College Board announced on Wednesday a fundamental rethinking of the SAT, ending the longstanding penalty for guessing wrong, cutting obscure vocabulary words and making the essay optional.
Some might call it a “dumbing down” change. Others, however, could say that the SAT is changing simply to align itself with the realities of modern youth: thanks to bad teaching and the decline in reading anything but text messages (“r u thr? BRB. K. TTYL”), modern youth cannot write and has no vocabulary. That being the case, the realist would say, we may as well stop pretending when it comes to the standardized test. (Me? I think anything that encourages a good vocabulary should be preserved. As Orwell knew, the fewer words you have, the fewer thoughts you have.)
Those are academic arguments. What we’re really seeing here is another step in the road to a purely egalitarian approach to higher education. In the old days, fewer students went to college. The rising numbers don’t come about just because the US population has grown every decade since forever. They also reflect the fact that, back in the day, a smaller percentage of the population went to college. The nation agreed that an educated citizenry was a good thing, but the societal agreement before the GI Bill was that a high school education was good enough for everyone except the “educated classes,” which meant the wealthy and upper middle classes.
The GI Bill changed that classist approach to education. I’m not quibbling with the GI Bill’s effects. The change was a wonderful thing, because it opened higher education to people who had the ability but, in the past, couldn’t meet the class and cost requirements. College was still for the “educated class,” but we’d expanded the economic definition of an “educated class.” With more young men able to go to college and get into higher payer jobs, the economy and the middle class boomed.
Of late, though, the Left has made it clear that it considers college today to be the high school of yesteryear: everyone should go, whether they have aptitude, interest, or money. It’s that last that’s especially important. Public schools may be lousy, but they’re an integral part of America’s economic infrastructure. They run on budgets set by state or local communities, and society as a whole has long agreed to pay for them (whether individual taxpayers have children or not), because they’re viewed as necessary institutions in a republican democracy.
Colleges, though, are expensive and getting more so. Much of this expense has nothing to do with education and everything to do with political correctness. Taxpayers have no say at all in how most colleges are run. They’re footing the bill in terms of taxpayer funding to public institutions, and grants and student loans to all institutions, but they’re shut out of management and oversight. Additionally, contrary to the promise under the GI Bill and for many decades afterwards, college is no longer a gateway to well-paying jobs. This can be traced to lots of things: a lousy economy; more college grads depressing the market for said grads; the dramatic instability brought about by a changing internet economy (new jobs, new educators, new skills, etc.); and the lousy education too many college grads get, making them good at arguing Leftist PC polemics, but of little use otherwise.
Despite the expense, the lack of oversight, and the declining return on time and money invested, the Left insists more stridently than ever that, just as high school was once a necessity for all citizens, now college is — and it’s even better if we fund it for illegal residents too.
Where the Left runs into a problems is with the fact that, unlike public schools, which have to accept all students (legal or illegal) within the school district, colleges don’t. Despite the massive amount of public funding that comes their way, colleges get to pick and choose who will enter. How un-egalitarian . . . and how galling it is when the main comers are white and Asian middle class kids, rather than the huddled masses yearning to break free of America’s Democrat run ghettos.
Which loops me back to my starting point, which is prep classes for standardized tests. Those prep classes give the same white and Asian middle class kids yet another edge over the poor kids stuck in failing, union-run public schools in heavily Democrat districts. David Coleman, who is president of the College Board, which creates an administers the SAT, is done with that kind of inequality. He’s going to make the test easier. (Call it the Harrison Bergeron approach to test revisions.) His explicitly stated goal is to put those elitist test prep services out of business:
“It is time for the College Board to say in a clearer voice that the culture and practice of costly test preparation that has arisen around admissions exams drives the perception of inequality and injustice in our country,” Mr. Coleman said Wednesday. “It may not be our fault, but it is our problem.”
David Coleman is an idiot. (Come on, Bookworm! Tell us what you really think.) First, I strongly disagree with his Leftist drive to put small business out of business. Second, does Coleman actually think that the test prep businesses will just go away and that middle class parents will say, “Thank God our children don’t have to strive anymore”? Only an academic could be so dumb. What will actually happen is that the businesses will change their model and teach to the revised test. Indeed, some spokespeople in the industry have already announced that they intended to do precisely that:
While test-preparation companies said the SAT was moving in the right direction, with more openness and more free online test preparation, the changes were unlikely to diminish the demand for their services. “People will always want an edge,” said Seppy Basili, a vice president of Kaplan Test Prep. “And test changes always spur demand.”
None of the above means that it isn’t time to change the standardized tests. No one argues that they’re not as helpful in determining student performance as grades are. But here’s the dirty little secret: they never will be as good as grades — or, at least, grades from a good school. High performing students from high performing schools will do well in college. Sadly, high performing students from union and Democrat-run inner city schools do not do well. They are not ready for college. Or, to be more accurate, they’re not ready for the Ivy Leagues that hurl affirmative action admissions at their heads. Two years at a decent junior college or four years at a decent four-year college would suit them better. They might not get the corner office on Wall Street, but they’ll get out of the ghetto, which means that their children might get to Wall Street. Too bad that incrementalism — meaning a generational ascendance in America’s class structure — is anathema to the Left.
The bottom line is that, no matter how the test is re-jiggered, it will remain what it always was — an inaccurate tool to admissions offices smooth out slightly differences between the thousands of high schools scattered throughout America.
But back to the SAT. (By the way, this serpentine post is as close as you’ll ever get to having a conversation with me. I tend to stay near topic, but to wander around it a lot, bringing in varying threads and ideas that seem to me to be relevant and helpful.)
The fundamental problem isn’t the SAT and it isn’t test preps. Instead, it’s that our governing class has decided to make college as mandatory as high school. It’s doing it without a consensus or a plan, it’s paying for it on the back of the middle class, and it’s gaming the system to try to create an egalitarian outcome for decidedly inegalitarian institutions.
This has been a crazily chaotic day. I got thrown off my stride by my morning swim (phase 2 in physical therapy for my knee, now that I’m off the perpetual motion machine), and just couldn’t catch up anymore. Throw in a few unexpected demands on my time and — voila! — I’m doing my round-up early in the evening instead of first thing in the morning. Still, proving that there’s always room for a cliched phrase, better late than never. So, here goes:
A friend sent me the following link in the mail and it was so eerily close to the way real events are playing out, that it took me a second to realize that it’s satire (and pretty damn funny satire at that): On Defense Cuts, Obama Just Comes Right Out And Says He Wants The Terrorists To Win
Perhaps we’ve reached a stage where the best we can hope for is that Israel will have our back, rather than vice versa. At least today, Israel had its own back (can I say that and still make sense?), capturing a massive arms haul — Syrian missiles, shipped out from Iran, and headed to Gaza. Thank God the Israelis still have the sechel to watch out for their own interests.
And speaking of Israel’s interests, if the last twenty-two years have shown us anything, it’s that participating in peace talks isn’t working. The reason, of course, is that the peace talks are all directed at a “two-state solution,” but the Palestinians, as well as the surrounding Arab and Muslim states, have no interest in a two-state solution. Yoav Sorek says that it’s time to stop chasing this chimera and create a new paradigm: a one-state solution — Israel — that the Palestinians have to learn to live with.
If you’re girding your loins against the possibility of a Hillary victory in 2016, maybe it’s time to stop girding and start working incredibly hard for a good conservative candidate, instead of the usual lousy conservative candidates. I say this because Hillary is also a lousy candidate and the only way in which Republicans can lose if she’s the Democrat candidate is if they put up another McCain. (What do you bet that the Republicans put up another John McCain?)
Here’s a scary thought: I already suggested that Obama has gone round the bend. What if Putin has done the same? The world is scary enough with one madman in power. What’s it going to be like with the last two great powers of the 20th century both headed by malignant narcissists whose already tenuous grip on reality has been destroyed by the bubbles in which they surrounded themselves?
Maybe none of it matters anyway, at least when it comes to Russia. I’ve noted before that Russia is in serious decline and this article provides the facts behind my conclusions. Whether Putin’s move on the Crimea is crazed or calculated, it can only buy a small amount of time for a country that will be eaten by China in the next few decades. (And considering its population, China will have a credible “lebensraum” argument, won’t it?) Ultimately, Putin will have gained nothing for his own country, although he will have succeeded in providing more evidence that Obama is feckless and unreliable, and may have caused several thousand, or even several hundred thousand, deaths along the way. Given the two delusional men at the helm of two declining nations, the last thing we want is a fast-walk to military confrontation.
If Snowden had merely shown how the U.S. government routinely collects very scrap of data it can about American citizens, he would have deserved the “hero” title that the far Left and far Right placed on him. But considering that he mostly stole 1.7 million sensitive files touching upon national security, and then headed for the Chinese and, after that, the Russians, it’s clear that he’s the biggest traitor in American history. I’m putting more and more credence in the theory that he was a massive traitor all along, and that he stole the “spying on American” stuff only to provide himself with cover.
Walt Disney Co. is free to demand that everyone and everything with which it deals support gay marriage. And people who disagree with that position are free to stop dealing with the Walt Disney Co. I really like Disneyland and Disney World, but it won’t be the end of the world for me if I never go to either place again. I bet the same is true for a lot of Americans. I’m not suggesting a formal boycott. I am pointing out, however, that in this information-rich world, we no longer have to deal with companies that spend our money in ways we dislike.
Jonah Goldberg supports Obama’s initiative to help black youth, even if it’s manifestly discriminatory for the federal government to extend aid to one racial group while ignoring others (not that this has ever stopped the feds before). Jonah is right that America’s black youth are in desperate straits and need all the help they can get. My only concern is that it was the federal government that got America’s black youth in this situation in the first place, thanks to Leftists’ belief that blacks cannot manage without government support. It seems to me that the federal government is the last entity that should be trusted to get blacks out of this miserable cycle of violence, drugs, and poverty. Remember Frederick Douglass’s words (emphasis mine):
In regard to the colored people, there is always more that is benevolent, I perceive, than just, manifested towards us. What I ask for the negro is not benevolence, not pity, not sympathy, but simply justice. The American people have always been anxious to know what they shall do with us…. I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us. Do nothing with us! If the apples will not remain on the tree of their own strength, if they are worm-eaten at the core, if they are early ripe and disposed to fall, let them fall! … And if the negro cannot stand on his own legs, let him fall also. All I ask is, give him a chance to stand on his own legs! Let him alone! … Your interference is doing him positive injury.
Not only did I enjoy Ace’s take on Obama’s manifestly unconstitutional decision to amend Obamacare again, but I loved the Photoshop you’ll find at that link. (BTW, Obama’s action is unconstitutional because only Congress can amend a law. This is banana republic stuff.)
Did I say “banana republic stuff”? I did, and I meant it. Michael Ramirez has his own comment on what Barack Obama has managed to do in five short (although they seemed very long) years.
The NAACP says “stand your ground” laws are part of “institutional racism.” Think about that for a moment. The laws simply say that, if your choices when faced by an assailant are to cut and run or to stand and fight, you can stand and fight (especially when cutting and running carries risks). They are facially neutral laws that apply to anyone facing a threat, black or white. What the NAACP is implicitly conceding is that the only/primary threatening parties in America — the ones who will be on the wrong side of “stand your ground” — are black. Wow! Is that racist or what? It seems to me that the NAACP is guilty of a bit of institutional racism itself.
There are two writers out there who make just about everything interesting . . . and when the subject matter is inherently interesting, they’re off into the stratospheres of wonder for their readers. Enjoy the Diplomad’s Cage Fighter vs. Pajama Boy; Putin Confronts the West and Sultan Knish’s A Maddow in MSNBCland.
Boehner’s bad: He freely concedes that all he cares about is opening up America’s borders. Who cares that the voters don’t want that? Remember, our elected officials are no longer our servants; they are our masters.
Muslims bomb the Boston Marathon and Boston, home to the American Revolution, does what the Left does best: it backs down. That’s the word from Runner’s world:
A decade long tradition will be missing from this year’s Boston Marathon. Due to the new, stricter security guidelines released by the Boston Athletic Association last Wednesday, ruck marchers will not be allowed to make the 26.2-mile trek from Hopkinton to Boylston because they are considered “unauthorized participants.”
Active members of the military have participated in ruck marches at the Boston Marathon for years. Donning full fatigues and carrying 40-pound rucksacks on their backs, ruckers march the length of the course in support of families of fallen soldiers.
Muslims don’t have to defeat America on the battlefield. If they scare us enough, we’ll unilaterally declare defeat and turn ourselves over to the enemy.
And finally, Danny Lemieux posted the following quotation on his real-me Facebook:
“In the end, more than freedom, they wanted security. They wanted a comfortable life, and they lost it all – security, comfort, and freedom. When the Athenians finally wanted not to give to society but for society to give to them, when the freedom they wished for most was freedom from responsibility, then Athens ceased to be free and was never free again.”
- Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.
It’s funny how we spend our adolescent years desperately trying to shake off our parents’ care, which we feel comes with too many strings attached, and then spend the rest of our lives trying to get someone to care for us, strings or not.
Caped Crusader sent me two good posters, both of which I’m passing along:
Apropos Reagan in uniform, Democrats made much of the fact that he didn’t see active duty during WWII. What they ignore is that he had served in the National Guard since 1937, and was barred from active duty because he was so nearsighted.
As I was driving home from the swimming pool today, I heard that Russia’s representative was refusing to accede to John Kerry’s request that the Russians sit down for face-to-face negotiations with the Ukrainians. My first thought was that the report was way too polite. Kerry’s not requesting, he’s begging.
My second thought was that this is what happens when the President of the United States spends five years making it plain that America will not use its power and, worse, that the president’s word cannot be relied upon. Kerry has no leverage.
As for my third thought, I didn’t actually have a third thought. Instead, I’m borrowing from a friend, who forwarded his thoughts on the matter to me:
Obama and Kerry attempting to use diplomacy with Putin is like trying to use reason with robbers during a home invasion. As they are talking, he’s filling his pockets and getting the tactical advantage. If he gets away with this who’s next? Further, why would anyone choose to negotiate over something they can simply take?
All of the above would be amusing if it was written into a lunatic novel. (By the way, if you’re looking for a wonderful, clever, laugh-out-loud funny lunatic novel, I highly recommend Akhmed and the Atomic Matzo Balls: A Novel of International Intrigue, Pork-Crazed Termites, and Motherhood.) But this is isn’t a lunatic novel. It’s real life, and Obama has managed to destroy in five years almost 70 years of American influence.
I went swimming this morning, which is the next phase in my recovery. Hmmm . . . did I say swimming? It wasn’t really. I was in a pool, but between a dysfunctional left shoulder and a mostly dysfunctional left knee, I couldn’t even manage a good dog paddle. But it did feel wonderful. I’ve been fighting gravity so hard for the past three-and-half weeks that it was marvelous to know I couldn’t fall.
The whole process was time-consuming, which is frustrating for me because I’m normally a person who moves through life very quickly. I have to get used to the fact that getting my wet towel and swimsuit out of the car is now a laborious five-minute task. If nothing else, this whole experience has made me more grateful than ever for the good health I normally enjoy and, I hope, more compassionate towards those with mobility problems.
While I get up to speed, please have fun with this Open Thread.
[UPDATE: If you came here from Ricochet, welcome. Having read Judith Levy's post, I think she misunderstood the point I was making here. I obviously wrote with insufficient clarity. I've expanded upon -- and, I hope, clarified -- my point in this post.]
It’s been many years since I read Jane Eyre, but I doubt that I’ll ever forget the ugliness of Mr. Brocklehurst’s Christianity, one composed of hellfire in the afterlife, and suffering and humiliation in the present time. With Mr. Brocklehurst firmly in mind, I defy you to walk into any church in America and find his peculiarly corrosive view of religion. As best as I can tell, most Christians today view God as a loving God, and see themselves as his blessed creation. If they can embrace God and his teachings, they will live a good life that sees them sitting at His feet in the Afterlife. Modern Christianity, as actually practiced by modern Christians, strikes me as a very beneficent religion, with the emphasis on Grace, not Damnation.
One would never know this, though, if one lived solely in the Left’s anti-religious fever swamps. When they’re not busy mis-citing scripture to pass Obamacare, they view religion as negatively as did Mr. Brocklehurst. In other words, the Left’s is a profoundly regressive view of religion. This isn’t surprising, since they’re regressive in most of their beliefs, ranging from abortion, which they view through a 1950s lens, all the way to race, which they also see as stuck in a perpetual 1950s Jim Crow reality.
This grim, regressive world view explains why, when I opened my “real me” Facebook today, I found this much-celebrated image touted amongst my Progressive friends:
I have an alternative poster for that sweet little girl, one I easily created even though I’m a Jew who believes in the possibility of a divinity, rather than in a divinity’s absolute reality:
I’m sure all of you can come up with more examples for column one or column two. If you think of anything, please be sure to share it with all of us.
We went to our accountant last night. She looked exhausted. When we asked why, she explained that this has been an exceptionally painful tax season. Obamacare taxes are hitting this year, and she had to informed people (well-to-do people, admittedly), that their taxes have increased by thousands, tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. They were not pleased.
Interestingly, none of them saw this coming — which, when you think about it, tells you an awful lot about the mindset of people here in Marin, most of whom are overwhelming Leftist, including the rich. The rich here know how to make money, but they really don’t know much else. They’re uninformed about the world and how it works. Moreover, because they think that voting Democrat makes them nice people, and voting for a black Democrat makes them good people, they are as blindly uninformed and as easily led as the 20-year-old college student or the 50-year-old cafeteria worker who reads only People and watches only Dr. Phil.
If you want to know everything that’s wrong about a Big Government world (which also means a multi-rules, heavily bureaucratic world), you need look no further than a recent news report out of Minnesota. It took place at Como Park High School and involved teachers who, because of their bureaucratic training, completely abandoned human decency.
It all started out on a very cold day in Minnesota, with the temperature ranging between -8 and +12 degrees Fahrenheit. The high school has an indoor pool, and that’s where 14-year-old Kayona Hagen-Tietz was swimming when a school alarm went off. Before she could get to the locker to get her clothes, the teacher rushed her out into the cold. Let me rephrase that: A teacher in thrall to rules sent a soaking wet 14-year-old girl out into sub-freezing temperatures, clad only in a swimsuit. She didn’t even have flip-flops on her feet.
Let’s accept for the moment that the teacher behaved correctly, since she or he had no way of knowing whether there was an imminent hazard in the school buildings. Once outside, though, you’d think that the faculty would take steps to warm Kayona. It turned out, though, that warming her was against the rules:
In the meantime, teachers feared to violate openly a school policy that prohibits students from sitting in a faculty member’s car.
Even the lowest intelligence can figure out that the rule’s purpose is to prevent teachers from engaging sexually with children. The likelihood of a covert sexual contact happening between Kayona and a teacher under the actual circumstances is ludicrous. The faculty cars were in full view of the entire school. There was no chance of illicit sexual congress.
Fortunately for Kayona, her fellow students hadn’t had human decency ground out of them by rules:
Hagen-Tietz fellow students, however, demonstrated a grasp of civilized behavior. Students huddled around her and some frigid classmates [sic], giving her a sweatshirt to put around her feet. A teacher coughed up a jacket.
As the children were keeping Kayona alive, the teachers were working their way through the bureaucracy. After a freezing ten minutes, an administrator finally gave permission for the soaking wet, freezing Kayla to set in a car in full view of everybody:
After Hagen-Tietz had suffered for ten minutes in sub-zero weather, a teacher finally received administrative permission to let her sit inside her car until students were allowed back inside.
Kayla suffered frostbite from her appalling experience at the hands of a government bureaucracy.
In what is an indictment of Western society, Kayla’s experience is not unique. Back in 2009, a lot of people were very upset when they heard a story out of England: a man with a broken back lay in 6 inches of water, but paramedics refused to rescue him because they weren’t trained for water rescues. One didn’t have to go as far as England to see this kind of bureaucratic disregard for human life. In 2011, Alameda police and firefighters literally stood and watched a man drown because they too weren’t certified for water rescues. The unknown in Alameda is how deep or dangerous the water was, something that could indeed have meant that a suicidal man drowned other people. In England, though, the rescuers took a rule clearly meant to apply to dangerous water situations, and refused to help someone lying in water that wasn’t even knee-deep.
Fortunately for me, since I have to tidy the house today, I don’t have to summarize precisely what went wrong in Minnesota, England, and Alameda. Dennis Prager did it for me in his latest video:
That’s the bad news.
The good news is that America has been in the past a very resilient nation; that there’s sometimes a virtue to shaking things up simply because change is inevitable, so let’s get it all over with at once; that people at home and abroad are beginning to appreciate that America was never an Evil Empire, but was always a force for freedom and stability; and that ordinary Americans are seeing what socialist policy — economic, international, and societal — looks like, and they’re not pleased with what they see.
Here’s the other good news: There is always hope. Otherwise, why bother? Without hope, why bother reading the news? Why bother writing about the things we want to change? Why bother thinking, voting, talking, working, or even getting up in the morning? Things can and do change, and we who are hopeful have a responsibility to do whatever we can — to contribute whatever skill we have — to fulfill that hope by changing the political and social dynamic.
Since 2008, hope has been an overused and misused word. To begin with, it’s not a thing in and of itself. Only very shallow people believe that you can elect something called “hope.” Instead, “hope” is a very special human emotion that motivates us to leap over seemingly insurmountable barriers and face off against despair, all the while embracing behaviors that lead to increased individual and national freedom, self-reliance, and prosperity.
And while I’m on the subject of hope — real hope, not the politically-packaged pabulum — I’d like to take a moment to talk about families dealing with relatives who fall within the autism spectrum. Ido Kedar is one of those people. I’ve known Ido for a long time, although not as well as I could wish. Mother Nature gave Ido what appears to be a raw deal: His autism leaves his maturing brain in a body that responds to his wishes only with the greatest effort. He’s almost non-verbal, impulse control is an issue, his spatial awareness is limited, and coordination is a problem. On the plus side, though, he is endowed with a brilliant brain; a strong moral compass; hypersensitive senses, which means that, even though he can be easily overwhelmed, he sees, hears, tastes, smells, and touches a world of beauty denied to the rest of us; and a fierce drive to connect with the world which has enabled him overcome so many of his deficits.
If you read Ido’s autobiography, Ido in Autismland: Climbing Out of Autism’s Silent Prison, you see that he isn’t just the physical embodiment of the abstract word “hope.” He doesn’t introduce himself to you by saying, “You can call me Hope.” Ido is, instead, a person whose parents never lost faith in him and a person who always had faith in his own abilities. That faith gave them the emotion that is hope, and that emotion in turn gave them the energy to search, research, act, practice, and excel.
Ido is not unique. There are many other young people (and their families) in the autism spectrum who never give up. They take their belief in future possibilities and turn that into present action. One of the institutions that actively helps them with this (instead of just mouthing “hope”) is the Friendship Circle . . . which is having a fundraiser Bike Raffle. If you know someone with autism, or someone who lives with or cares for an autistic person, and you feel like contributing to the cause, this is certainly a nice way to do it.
For more information, check out Raising Asperger’s Kids.
Mano a mano, I’d bet on Netanyahu against Obama every time. Nation to nation, though, Bibi has the misfortune to be facing off against a spoiled, Leftist, anti-Israel, pot-smoking adolescent who nevertheless controls the world’s greatest military and economic power. I’m still betting on the Israelis, but it’s not a no-brainer — especially because Obama appears to have reached his conclusions by ignoring stubborn facts and, instead, substituting data that is entirely unrelated to any facts on the ground.
I bring this up because, although the headlines are about Ukraine, no Jew who cares about Israel can have missed Obama’s truly dreadful interview with Jeffrey Goldberg. In it, he made clear that, as far as he’s concerned, the only thing stopping Middle East peace is Israel’s peculiarly stiff-necked intransigence.
To reach this conclusion, Obama shows that he is as delusional about the Muslim Middle East as he is about the rest of the world. In Obama’s world, Israelis have no interest in peace. It is, instead, the Palestinians (who strongly support terrorism, who voted for Hamas when they had the chance, who celebrate Jewish genocide, who have never complied with past “peace” agreements, who openly demand a world without Israel, and who have refused to negotiate without preconditions by which Israel gives up her nationhood) who are chomping at the bit to get to the negotiating table.
Don’t take my word for it about Obama’s twisted view of the Middle East. After you’ve read his own words, check out John Podhoretz’s masterly deconstruction of Obama’s fantasies — as well as his take on Obama’s threats. It remains to be seen whether Obama’s fact-free preemptive strike against Israel bear fruit in the complacent media. (I can’t believe I said that. Of course they’ll bear fruit.)
Caroline Glick, a strong, logical, fearless voice for conservative Israelis, hitback swiftly, telling Obama that his threats cannot frighten a nation that has seen much, much worse. She also took the time to expose some of Obama’s more reality-challenged statements. Sadly, I don’t think anyone in the White House is paying attention to Glick.
I don’t expect the administration to pay attention to a Jew. The administration likes only deracinated Jews who have replaced obedience to God with obedience to the Democrat party. But maybe the Obama administration should listen to one of Islam’s most prominent spokes people. Anjem Choudary is clear about the existential inconsistencies between Islam and the West:
Democracy Freedom Secularism Liberty Human Rights Amnesty UN ARE OPPOSITE TO Islam Shari’ah Khilafah Jihad Quran Sunnah Divine rights
— Anjem Choudary (@anjemchoudary) March 2, 2014
If you don’t recognize Choudary’s name, Jim Hoft fills you in:
In 2008 Choudary gloated over the Mumbai terrorist attacks.
Anjem Choudary is a British-Pakistani, who lives on social welfare funds and supports jihad. Choudary takes in a reported sum of £25,000 ($37,770) per year from the British welfare program while soldiers earn only $24,000 a year. Something is wrong with the system.
I used the words “delusional,” “fact-free,” and “reality-challenged” to describe Obama’s approach to the Middle East and even included a link to a Washington Post editorial calling his approach to Ukraine a “fantasy.” Up until this past week, I would simply have said that Obama has long lived in a Leftist bubble, which has guided his practical and moral approach to the world. Those weren’t delusions, but grave ideological errors. This past week, though, we are seeing Obama trading in his foul ideological glasses (which distort everything on which they focus) for actual delusional facts. Has the bubble gotten so thick about him that our president is literally becoming deranged?
Pot can do that to you, so I’ll leave you with the very surprising words that came out of Gov. Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown of California, when asked about his enthusiasm for legalizing pot in California (emphasis added):
Well, we have medical marijuana, which gets very close to what they have in Colorado and Washington. I’d really like those two states to show us how it’s going to work. The problem with anything, a certain amount is okay, but there is a tendency to go to extremes, and all of a sudden, if there’s advertising and legitimacy, how many people can get stoned and still have a great state or a great nation? World’s pretty dangerous, very competitive. I think we needed to stay alert, if not 24 hours a day, more than some of the pot heads might be able to put together.