The Bookworm Beat 12/16/14 — Smells like Tuesday edition and Open Thread

Woman writingThe 21st century version of “The dog ate my homework.”

We have two new entries today in the continuing saga of Ivy League and affluent college students trying to delay taking exams on account of their being traumatized by Darren Wilson’s acquittal and Eric Garner’s deaths and their being exhausted by the physical and emotional burdening of taking to the streets to protest those two traumas. The first entry is an overwrought, horribly written, and horribly reasoned essay by a young man who styles himself as a third year Harvard Law Student and editor of Harvard’s Law Review. John Hinderaker fisks this horrible effluvia, so I don’t have to.

I have only one thing to add . . . well, actually two. First, Obama was once a third year Harvard Law Student and editor of the Harvard Law Review. Second, if those two law students — who are separated by more than 20 years — are representative of Harvard Law School I have been right all along in believing that people go into Harvard Law reasonably smart and come out manifestly dumb and, too often, unprincipled.

The second entry comes out of Oberlin. A freshman — white and female — took it upon herself to speak write a letter to one of her professors. Altruistically, she didn’t write on her own behalf. Instead, she wrote on behalf of her undoubtedly traumatized black classmates. It was on their behalf that she suggested the professor should grant everyone who was traumatized the chance to delay their exams. (She carefully explains that, since she has white privilege, she wasn’t traumatized.) In response to her soggy, racially condescending, politically hyper-correct, lardy letter, the professor returned a terse “No.”

That “No” alone might have been enough to earn the exchange lasting fame. But what really put gilded this lily was the student’s decision to post the letter online, along with this brilliant comment:

TRIGGER WARNING: Violent language regarding an extremely dismissive response from a professor. This is an email exchange I had with my professor this evening. … We are obviously not preaching to the choir. Professors and administration at Oberlin need to be held accountable for their words and actions and have a responsibility to their students.

As I sit here typing this post entry, I’m struggling to decide whether America’s putative best and brightest are really such weak-kneed, lily-livered paltroons, or if we are seeing a brilliant 21st century re-imagining of the old excuse that “the dog ate my homework.” God knows I hope it’s the latter, and that the students are busily conning a credulous Leftist faculty (except, of course, for that one stalwart professor at Oberlin). Otherwise, America is in much greater trouble than we ever could have imagined.

Elizabeth Warren — arch hypocrite

One of my favorite readers, who’s very familiar with my disdain for Elizabeth Warren, sent me a video of Warren speaking in the Senate about Citibank’s outsized thumb on the scale when it came to the CRomnibus, something that she describes as yet another “bail out.”  He was perplexed by the fact that she seems to make a good point in the video.  I agree.  Warren’s little floor speech, at least superficially, isn’t bad.  But it doesn’t make me feel any more kindly inclined to that woman.

To begin with, to listen to Warren speak (not just in this speech, but in all speeches), it’s clear that she doesn’t distinguish crony capitalism, which is a terrible perversion of the free market, from free market capitalism itself, which has done more to raise the standard of living for all people than any other economic system in the world. She’s right, of course, to hate crony capitalism, and it’s disgusting that the RINOs team up with the Democrats and Obama administration to advance that corrupt system.  The wrong thing, though, is her repeated attacks on capitalism itself.

There’s a bigger problem, though, than Warren’s dislike for a capitalist system that has made her a very rich lady. There’s also the little problem of hypocrisy and dishonesty.  Warren simultaneous misrepresents what’s taking place in 2014 and misrepresents her own role in the 2009 bailout:

Elizabeth Warren did not oppose the bailout per se, though she was critical of the way the Treasury Department implemented it. The bailouts were enabled by the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, which enjoyed the support and votes of Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, Senator Joe Biden of Delaware, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Senator Charles Schumer of New York, Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts, Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Representative Jesse Jackson of Illinois, Representative Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, etc. The people who actually opposed bailouts by voting against bailouts were not in the main progressives, but were disproportionately conservative Republicans: Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, Representative Michael Burgess of Texas, Representative Jeff Flake of Arizona, Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas, Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina, etc.

The Left, predictably, is captive to the hipster impulse: “I opposed bailouts before it was cool” is the Democrats’ version of “I saw Hüsker Dü at Jay’s Longhorn Bar.” Show me the ticket stubs.

The Tea Party came into being as a reaction to Republican complicity in bailouts of all sorts: of Wall Street firms, and of irresponsible mortgage borrowers. Occupy, and the potty-trained version of that movement led by Elizabeth Warren, demands more bailouts: of people who borrowed money for college or to buy a home, offashionable corporations that do not want to pay market rates for financing, etc. Senator Warren is an energetic proponent of corporate welfare for Boeing, General Electric Bechtel, Caterpillar, and other such poor, defenseless little mom-and-pop operations.

Would easier zoning diminish class warfare?

It’s fascinating that Elizabeth Warren managed to spend many years in Texas without having any raw, pure capitalism rub off on her.  If she’d been more receptive to capitalism, and less enthralled by Harvard’s limousine Marxism, she might have noticed something interesting happening in Houston — blacks are able to own houses, not because they’re being given ridiculously risky loans, but because there are more houses available thanks to an easier housing permit process:

In August, the most recent month for which figures are available from the U.S. Census Bureau, metro Houston (including Sugar Land and the Woodlands) issued more permits for construction of single-family homes than did the entire state of California, which has six times the population. And that was no fluke. Houston and California have been running neck and neck in permit issuance since 2000, with California running just about 3,000 permits ahead in that time.

That’s a remarkable statement about both demand (people really want to live in Houston) and supply (the city is happy to accommodate them). California is a different story. What UCLA’s Anderson School of Management called a “painfully plodding” economic recovery has damped the appetite for home buying, and strict land-use rules aimed at controlling sprawl make permits hard to get. “If you don’t have housing, you can’t do labor,” Chris Thornberg, principal at Beacon Economics, a Los Angeles-based research and consulting firm, told Bloomberg News. “If you can’t do labor, you are missing a major ingredient for economic growth.”

Who is this Taliban of whom you speak?

I try to listen to Obama as little as possible. As I’ve mentioned before, I dislike the weird rhythms of his speech, as well as the peculiar way he clips off the ends of words as if he’s too stingy to let the entire sound out. Let’s just say that his supposed rhetorical brilliance has always eluded me.

The problem is that, if you ignore Obama, you ignore a lot of the bizarre little signals he sends out. For example, in the wake of the Taliban’s appalling slaughter in Pakistan, Obama managed to give an entire statement about the attack in which he never once mentioned the words “Taliban” or “Islam.”

There are various guesses about his bizarre failure to name the attackers. These guesses range from Obama’s usual efforts to exculpate Islam from any responsibility for terrorism around the world to the suggestion that Obama is negotiating with the Taliban and therefore can scarcely state that his “partners in peace” are ignoble savages.

Victor Davis Hanson’s epitaph for “Hope And Change”

I can’t do justice to VDH’s sweeping epitaph that answers the question “What hath Obama wrought?” You have to read it for yourself. I can, however, give you a small taste:

Obama ran on his iconic status as the would-be first black president. For the most part, he hid his spread-the-wealth agenda. A plumber did better than establishment journalists at prying out a smidgen of Obama’s worldview. The media helped reduce Obama’s Chicago friends such as Bill Ayers, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and Tony Rezko to complete strangers. To evoke them was tantamount to racism.

The result was a full-fledged liberal presidential agenda of a sort not seen since the New Deal. Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy were more centrists and realists than progressive true believers. In other words, since the 1940s voters have not trusted the left wing of the Democratic party to run the country. And for good reason. Barack Obama’s signature achievements — rammed through a Democratic Congress or enacted by questionable executive orders — now lie in ruins.

A therapeutic foreign policy, adorned by apologies for and contextualization of past American conduct, has turned the Middle East into Somalia and empowered Vladimir Putin, the Chinese apparat, and soon-to-be nuclear Iran. The defense budget will reach record lows, as money still shifts from military deterrence to more social programs and entitlements.

Bronx public attorneys appear in rap video calling blacks to kill cops

A young Marine friend of mine, sounding absolutely outraged, posted on Facebook a link to a blog story stating that two public defenders from New York had appeared in a rap video calling for people to kill cops. I thought “This must be untrue,” and assumed that it was the kind of urban myth that circulates amongst young Marines. I was very, very wrong:

Taxpayers pay their salaries — but that hasn’t stopped two Bronx public defenders from appearing in a vile online rap video that urges black people to kill NYPD cops.

The sickening video, for a rap called “Hands Up,” shows black men holding guns to cops’ heads and features the disgusting lyric, “For Mike Brown and Sean Bell, a cop got to get killed.”

The video also shows a grieving mother walking into The Bronx Defenders office on 161st Street, where she is comforted by one of the lawyers.

The attorneys’ participation left cops furious. The Bronx Defenders organization has pulled in more than $40 million in city funding in the past two years.

Read the rest here.

Apparently there’s an IQ test to be a journalist

The difference between the journalist IQ test and the ordinary IQ test is that, to be a journalist, your IQ cannot exceed 100 and, preferably, should hover in the 80 area.  Those high-ish double-digit IQs mean you’re smart enough to function, but dumb enough to believe anything you hear. So it was that a writer for New York magazine touted the high school student, who had a suitably exotic Muslim name, for having made at least 72 million dollars in the stock market.

This was, of course, a hoax. I figured the hoax part out immediately (it’s those rules of evidence that once again helped me), which is why I didn’t bother to include the original story in my round-up.

The Daily Caller rounds up 8 rape hoaxes on college campuses

While I’m on the subject of hoaxes, the Daily Caller has performed a signal service by rounding up eight examples of rape and sexual assault hoaxes on college campuses around America. As others have asked before me, if rapes are so common, why do people have to make them up to call attention to the problem?

I’m of two minds about small businesses doing away with employee health insurance

One of the predictable effects of Obamacare is that small business are doing away with employee health insurance. This is a good thing and a bad thing.

The good part is that employers shouldn’t be in the health insurance business. They got into the business during World War II as a way of circumventing wage restrictions (showing once again that government interference always breeds bad unexpected consequences) and have stayed in it ever since. The problem is that the employer’s presence perverts the insurance market because individuals aren’t buying the insurance that works best for them and there’s no incentive for insurance companies to offer more narrowly tailored, better priced policies. And of course, insurance perverts the health care market, because there’s a disconnect between those who receive the services and those who pay for it (again, there’s no shopping around for good bargains).  Getting insurers out of the market is, at least in theory, a good thing.

The bad part, of course, is that, instead of individuals going into an open market and buying the insurance that’s best for them, they’re all being channeled into the dastardly Obamacare marketplace, which has perversions ranging from forcing people into excessive plans, to wealth transfers through subsidies, to obscene deductibles to pay for all this meshugas.

I didn’t leave journalism; it left me

A career AP reporter explains why he left journalism entirely — and it won’t surprise you, I’m sure, to know that a lot of it had to do with lies about Israel (as well as lies and bias about everything else).

A Hanukkah moment from Germany, circa 1931

I never knew about this amazing photograph that Rachel Posner, wife to the rabbi of Kiel, Germany’s small Jewish community took of and from the window of her home during Hanukkah in 1931:

A menorah defies the Nazi flag , 1931

On the back, Rachel wrote in German “Chanukah, 5692. ‘Judea dies’, thus says the banner. ‘Judea will live forever’, thus respond the lights.”

Read more of this story of exodus and survival here.