Friday factoids (and Open Thread)

Victorian posy of pansiesI have lots of intelligent thoughts swirling in my head.  The problem is that they haven’t settled down and become coherent.  Mostly, I’m focused on an upcoming outing with my mother.

My mother is an inveterate shopper.  At almost 91, shopping isn’t just the main pleasure in her life, it’s her only pleasure.  Sometimes I take her (which is truly a test of my love because I hate shopping); sometimes a friend takes her; and sometimes (actually, weekly) she boards the bus at her managed care facility for an outing to her favorite store.

Her most recent solo outing, however, left her distraught.  I got a confused tale about lost receipts, switched-out clothing, purse-snatching sales clerks (although she still has her purse and everything in it), kissing sales ladies, and a general feeling that “something is wrong there.”  I’m sure something is wrong, but I’m not sure whether this mainstream, reputable store is having a management failure or if my mother’s mental capacity has suddenly diminished.  I suspect the latter, but am open to the former — so I’m taking Mom to the store today to see what’s going on.

Meanwhile, there’s interesting stuff out there.

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By now, I’m sure all of you have heard that Dinesh D’Souza was indicted for alleged campaign funding malfeasance to the tune of $20,000.  A couple of comments:  To the extent his lawyer is talking about innocent mistakes, my reading is that D’Souza almost certainly committed the act as charged.  And to the extent that a John Edwards’ friend did the same, and was only charged with a misdemeanor, the over-the-top attack on D’Souza is political revenge.  Check here for Maetenloch’s list of a long line of Mafia-style policing from the Obama administration against conservatives and here, at Gateway Pundit, for Chuck Schumer’s explicit call-out to the IRS to attack conservative groups (but not Organizing for America, of course, Obama’s political arm).

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Zombie has a shocking (no Casablanca-style irony here when I use that word) report about San Francisco’s decision to continue paying a pension to a former city employee convicted on felony charges for storing and sharing the most vile kind of child pornography.  In addition to the images on his computer, the official included excited comments on the photographs giving his enthusiastic support to violence inflicted on children as young as infants and toddlers.  He reserved special approval for situations involving black adults abusing children or black children being abused.  According to the City, his acts didn’t constitute “moral turpitude.”  To which one can only say, “Huh”?

As for a reason behind the Progressive City’s continued support for the felon, it might have something to do with the fact that he’s a gay rights advocate who spearheaded nationwide recognition for “domestic partnerships” and, ironically enough, campaigned vigorously against alleged discrimination against blacks at sex clubs.  In other words, despite his crimes, he’s still politically untouchable.

My comments should not be construed as a swipe at “domestic partnership” laws, which I think are a much better idea than gay marriage, a notion that risks a devastating clash with First Amendment religious rights.  Instead, they’re meant to attack a Progressive world view that forgives any sin provided that the person committing the sin has the right political credentials.  (Roman Polanski comes to mind as another example of this attitude.)

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How about, instead of talking about blacks as the sexual playthings of a disgusting human being, we talk about them as fully realized human beings who do what the rest of us do, which is making political and social choices based upon their life experiences?  If that’s how you view people of other races, religions, cultures, sexual orientations, etc., please read Lloyd Marcus’s article about his upbringing and journey to conservativism, all of which took place inside a home with a hard-working father, and some of which took place in a sparkly new housing project that swiftly devolved into a Hobbesian nightmare.

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If you ever get into an argument with a Leftist about anything — not just about politics, but about anything — you’ll notice one inevitable hallmark of their arguing style.  It’s always personal.  For example, a Leftist will say “That new HBO show Looking is really good.”  You’ll respond “I didn’t like it much.”  A non-Leftist might say, “Oh, that’s too bad.”  Or he might ask, “Why not?”  Or he could say, “But it’s a really good look at the ordinary life of ordinary gays, and is worth watching for that reason.”  But that’s not what a Leftist will say.  He’ll say, “You’re homophobic.”  Or he’ll say, “That’s because you’re too stupid/narrow minded/unreasonable/backwards to appreciate good television.”  It’s never about the show; it’s always about you.

Thomas Sowell has noticed this habit too, a habit that isn’t about the personal being political, but goes beyond that:  Everything is personal when a Leftist is involved — and you’re always the wrong or damaged or stupid or prejudiced or all-around evil person.  After looking at the roots of this practice and giving examples in both 20th and 21st century politics, Sowell, who is a humanist, offers a possible explanation:

The vision of the Left is not just a vision of the world. For many, it is also a vision of themselves — a very flattering vision of people trying to save the planet, rescue the exploited, create “social justice,” and otherwise be on the side of the angels. This is an exalting vision that few are ready to give up, or to risk on a roll of the dice, which is what submitting it to the test of factual evidence amounts to. Maybe that is why there are so many fact-free arguments on the left, whether on gun control, minimum wages, or innumerable other issues — and why they react so viscerally to those who challenge their vision.

I’m not a humanist.  My possible explanation is that Leftism is attractive to deeply insecure people who don’t have a solid sense of their own worth and values.  They latch onto a political ideology that spells out expressly what’s right and wrong, and that gives them permission to function as their own God-heads, casting nonbelievers into eternal damnation.  In other words, it’s a political ideology of, by, and for malignant narcissists.

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Speaking of Looking, a half-hour long HBO dramedy that looks at young gays in San Francisco, it turns out that audiences didn’t want to look.  We actually turned it off in the first 30 seconds of the first episode, when a character sneaked into the bushes to meet another man who attacked his zipper and headed (literally) for his crotch.  This is always going to be the problem with the gay lifestyle.  Even people who are not homophobic and believe that they are entitled to full civil rights really don’t want to know too much about the sexual excesses in which so many gay young men engage.

And while we’re on the subject of salacious productions, enjoy this video (which is extremely good satire, but is not safe for work).

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I don’t think the college bubble is going to burst in time to spare me the cost of sending my two upper-middle-class suburban kids to college.  But it will burst.  Two articles mark the way to bubble collapse.  The first, in The Atlantic, focuses on kids with big debts and no job prospects.  The second, in Forbes, gives voice to one person who thinks he made a smart decision to skip college.  I know that, in my neck of the words, more and more parents are encouraging those of their children who aren’t that academically oriented to look into working for a year or two before going to college or to get their first two years done at the local community college.

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At IBD, both Michael Ramirez and Andrew Malcolm examine Obama’s latest position in the war on terror:  trash-talking al Qaeda.  Neither is impressed.  Richard Baehr has a few compelling and pertinent thoughts on the subject too.

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Also at IBD, an editorial saying that the California drought is not a product of all-encompassing climate change, just as the Polar Vortex isn’t.  It’s happened repeatedly before, and it will happen repeatedly again.  Both are parts of earth’s ever-changing and completely natural cycle.  I hate the drought, but I’m not railing at evil corporate conglomerates.  And in any event, if I want to rail at evil conglomerates who pollute our world, I should yell at the Americans and Europeans who ship their dirty factories to China and at the Chinese fascist government that lets them.  (I’ve decided that China is no longer communist, since it has shifted to a market-based economy.  Instead, it’s now fascist, since the government continues to control the people and the ostensibly privately-owned marketplace.)

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It’s great to be the messiah.  Even as you drive the US economy into the ditch, you and your family enjoy the high life — and charge it to the demoralized, broke American people.  When Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette did that, they lost their heads.  Obama and Co., however, get away with it without even having a dent put on their halos.

Christmas in Marin

Christmas ornamentsI’ve had a very nice Christmas, both Eve and Day.  I also had a very Marin Christmas.  I was at a party this afternoon and met some very nice people.

In a discussion about rising college prices, one man told me that this problem resulted from income inequality.  He was surprised when I suggested that tuition inflation probably had more to do with government loans enabling colleges to get away with charging money, as well as with top-heavy administrations and overpaid professors.  I didn’t push it and nor did he, but I do think I gave him something to think about.

Another man earnestly told me that all of his food allergies were the result of genetically modified food.  He was at a loss to explain how I, who had myriad food allergies growing up, no longer have any.

Finally, a third man said that Marin’s current (very disturbing) drought is the product of anthropogenic global warming.  When I mentioned that we’d had a drought here way back in the late 1970s and that most of America was freezing and deluged with snow and sleet, he was nonplussed and fell silent.

With all three men, I didn’t push the agenda.  It was a congenial party and I had no intention of raising the temperature in the room.  I do hope, though, that I planted little seeds in their minds from which something might sprout.

By the way, speaking of Marin County, Daniel Henninger today published a very funny letter (behind a paywall) purporting to come from a Marin County navigator to “His Excellency, President Obama.”

Know your priorities and act without hesitation

Suek posted this is an open thread, but I thought it was too good to keep hidden:

Marines are taught:

1) Keep your priorities in order and

2) Know when to act without hesitation.

A MARINE was attending some college courses between assignments. He had completed missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

One of the courses had a professor who was an avowed atheist and a member of the ACLU. One day he shocked the class when he came in, looked to the ceiling, and flatly stated, “God, if you are real, then I want you to knock me off this platform. I’ll give you exactly 15 minutes.” The lecture room fell silent. You could hear a pin drop. Ten minutes
went by and the professor proclaimed, “Here I am God I’m still waiting.”

It got down to the last couple of minutes when the MARINE got out of his chair, went up to the professor, and cold-cocked him; knocking him off the platform. The professor was out cold. The MARINE went back to his seat and sat there, silently. The other students were shocked and stunned ! and sat there looking on in silence.

The professor eventually came to, noticeably shaken, looked at the MARINE and asked, “What the hell is the matter with you? Why did you do that?”

The MARINE calmly replied, “God was too busy today taking care of America’s soldiers who are protecting your right to say stupid shit and act like an asshole. So, He sent me.”

Whoooooya!

Had this Marine been in Berlin in 1925, he might have kept my Dad from becoming a lifelong atheist.  My Dad’s mother always told him that, if he ate leavened bread during Passover, God would strike him dead with a lightening bolt.  When my Dad was six, he decided to put this theory to the test.  He stood on the curb with a piece of leavened bread in his hand.  His plan:  Take a bite of the bread and simultaneously jump off the curb into the street, so that the lightening bolt would miss.  He put the plan into effect, but to no purpose — the lightening bolt never appeared.  With six-year-old logic, rather than concluding that his mother was misinformed, my  Dad gave up on God.

When it comes to education, liberals continue to be invested in affirmative action *UPDATED*

When I was a very little girl, back in the hard drinking 1960s, an expression I frequently heard was that someone or something needed a bit of “the hair of the dog that bit you.”  I used to think that actually meant people would consume dog hair to cure their ills.  It was only later that I learned that one of the best — and, of course, worst — remedies for a hangover is more alcohol.  Even as it cures the original hangover, it sets the drinker up for the next hangover.  It appears to be a cure, but is merely part of the problem.

I think that exactly the same can be said of affirmative action.  Ostensibly meant to provide minorities (read:  African Americans) with a necessary leg up in a fundamentally discriminatory culture, it actually creates a situation in which blacks never have to achieve, and therefore never do achieve.

The problem extends beyond the education world, which sees colleges and universities happy to play this nasty little game to assuage their collective white, liberal consciences.  For many years, it has been creating actual unemployment in the real world, where businesses that are tied to the bottom line cannot afford to play the same affirmative action game that colleges play so effortlessly.  Business, after all, don’t get the government help (read:  taxpayer money) that flows to our institutions of higher education.

I mention this now because of two articles that appeared with two days of each other in two bastions of liberal thinking, the Washington Post and the New York TimesThe WaPo reports on a study showing that minorities continue to fall behind when it comes to American higher education.  First, the problem:

A new report, billed as one of the most comprehensive studies to date of how low-income and minority students fare in college, shows a wide gap in graduation rates at public four-year colleges nationwide and “alarming” disparities in success at community colleges.

The analysis, released Thursday, found that about 45 percent of low-income and underrepresented minority students entering as freshmen in 1999 had received bachelor’s degrees six years later at the colleges studied, compared with 57 percent of other students.

Fewer than one-third of all freshmen entering two-year institutions nationwide attained completion — either through a certificate, an associate’s degree or transfer to a four-year college — within four years, according to the research. The success rate was lower, 24 percent, for underrepresented minorities, identified as blacks, Latinos and Native Americans; it was higher, 38 percent, for other students.

Only 7 percent of minority students who entered community colleges received bachelor’s degrees within 10 years.

If it were up to me, the solution would be to demand that minorities who enter American educational institutions have met the same standards as whites and Asians in those same institutions.  Only a head-in-the-clouds academic (read:  liberal) would think that it is reasonable or fair to tell African Americans that they don’t need to do well in order to enter colleges and universities, only to be surprised that, while actually attending those institutions, these conned minority students continue to do badly.  And only a head-in-the-clouds liberal would think that these same students would be able to, or even want to, stick it out at some fou-fou university, when they are pathetically scraping along at the bottom of the class.  In the real world, people have to hunger to achieve, they have to work hard, and then they get to enjoy the fruits of their labor.  Liberals deny that to blacks, and then they’re surprised when these same blacks neither want to nor are able to perform.

Sadly, the government and our educational institutions are run by these head-in-the-cloud liberal academics, so they’re determining the solutions — and, naturally, the solutions they endorse are the hair of the same dog that has been biting African-American students for the past 30 plus years:  more affirmative action, which is a disincentive to learning and achieving.  The WaPo article, admittedly, is rather coy about the affirmative action solution, but it’s implied between the lines:

The Access to Success Initiative, announced in 2007, predates President Obama’s American Graduation Initiative announced this year, which calls for the United States to regain the global lead in college degrees by 2020. Any progress charted by the 24 college and university systems, which include the University System of Maryland and state university systems in California and New York, will dovetail “very neatly” with the president’s goal, said Haycock, whose organization advocates for disadvantaged students.

[snip]

One bright spot in the research was the Pell Grant, the federal program to help low-income students through college. The study found that Pell recipients at community colleges completed their studies at a rate of 32 percent, the same as other students. Pell students who transferred to four-year colleges also graduated at the same rate, 60 percent, as other students.

A bill pending in Congress would strengthen the Pell program by raising the maximum grant and tying the program to inflation for the first time.

You got that, right?  The solution is to throw more money at institutions that take minorities, not to demand that minorities compete going into the schools, so that they can stick around, and then compete when they come out again.

We Americans have seen for thirty years that more money enriches the politicos and the administration and the unions, without making much difference in the student outcomes.  I figured that out back in the late 1980s, when I learned that the Sausalito school district, which is just north of San Francisco, was both the best funded and the worst performing district in California.  I don’t know if either of those facts still holds true for Sausalito in 2009, but it was an object lesson to me at that time that there comes a point where a system is so dysfunctional that money becomes irrelevant.

As long as public schools have no accountability to anybody (a situation that would change dramatically if we switched to a voucher system), and as long as the educational and political classes are committed to affirmative action, nothing is going to change at the college and university level.  Just as the drunk needs more alcohol to provide the appearance of a temporary cure for a deeper problem, so too do our educational institutions and our poor, deluded African American population demand more money as the solution to a problem that has little to do with money, and everything to do with the subtle racism of low expectations.

Things are different in the business world, and will continue to be so until Barack Obama has successfully “bailed out” the entire capital system, turning the U.S. into a giant, politically correct, bankrupt morass.  In the interim, as the New York Times reports, businesses don’t want blacks, even educated ones.  The Times report, of course, implies racism, with evil white capitalists anxious to depress “uppity blacks.”

Johnny R. Williams, 30, would appear to be an unlikely person to have to fret about the impact of race on his job search, with companies like JPMorgan Chase and an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago on his résumé.

But after graduating from business school last year and not having much success garnering interviews, he decided to retool his résumé, scrubbing it of any details that might tip off his skin color. His membership, for instance, in the African-American business students association? Deleted.

[snip]

That race remains a serious obstacle in the job market for African-Americans, even those with degrees from respected colleges, may seem to some people a jarring contrast to decades of progress by blacks, culminating in President Obama’s election.

But there is ample evidence that racial inequities remain when it comes to employment. Black joblessness has long far outstripped that of whites. And strikingly, the disparity for the first 10 months of this year, as the recession has dragged on, has been even more pronounced for those with college degrees, compared with those without. Education, it seems, does not level the playing field — in fact, it appears to have made it more uneven.

[snip]

The discrimination is rarely overt, according to interviews with more than two dozen college-educated black job seekers around the country, many of them out of work for months. Instead, those interviewed told subtler stories, referring to surprised looks and offhand comments, interviews that fell apart almost as soon as they began, and the sudden loss of interest from companies after meetings.

As for me, I reject the Times’ implication that white owned American businesses are trying to sneak Jim Crow in through the back door.  Instead, the problem young, educated blacks have in the employment market arises because businesses have figured out that, because blacks aren’t required to have many skills going into universities, they’re equally unlikely to have when they emerge clutching a degree with the politically correct, affirmative action stamp of approval appended to the bottom.  In other words, affirmative action has so badly corrupted the “brand name” of the college educated black person, even a person who is intelligent and skilled is tainted by that corruption.

When history books are written, affirmative action is going to be recognized for what it is:  a terrible scourge, destroying the upwardly mobile black middle class.  As I said in my post accusing Obama of being the quintessential example of affirmative action, in that he is all college papers and no substance, affirmative action tells blacks that they don’t have to work to succeed.  That’s a powerful and corrupting message.  Even the best and brightest will economize their mental energies and do the bare minimum necessary to get into and get out of colleges and universities.  But as the system passes through more and more blacks who are either unable to achieve from the get-go, or unwilling to achieve because they’ve been assured of a free pass regardless, the black brand is going to be associated, as it was in the Jim Crow era, with people who are unintelligent, ineffective and lazy.  That this is not true for many graduates, or for many who don’t go to school, is irrelevant.  It is enough that the visible blacks have been corrupted by the system for all of them to bear that stigma.

Once again, liberalism, while parading as the blacks’ true friend, is proving itself to be their mortal enemy, destroying them by denying them the incentive and opportunity to be all that they can be.

UPDATE:  This seemed the perfect place to add a video of Congressional candidate Lieutenant Colonel Allen West, because he is the wonderful, marvelous antithesis of our affirmative action president: