Friday, May 14, 2021

How to Achieve Greatness.

As a useful counterpoint to the current American rage to dumb children down, to make them all equal in all ways, we offer a this essay from one Kumar Mehta.

He has studied what makes children exceptional, what makes them great, what makes them defiantly unequal.


In fact, he opens his CNBC article (via Maggie’s Farm) with this statement:


Humans are not all equal in every way. There are a few individuals who have achieved an unparalleled mastery in their field — and they are what I call the exceptionals. Put another way, they are the 1% of the 1% of the world's most successful people.


Of course, the notion of exceptionals is somewhat defensive. Why would you not employ similar techniques in bringing up your child, especially if you want your child to excel, to do better. Since the American school system is trying to make every child as mediocre as can be, we should want to make every child as great as can be.


Mehta begins with a simple principle, one long since proposed by Peter Drucker.


He wants them to play to their strengths. He wants them to discover their talents and then to work to develop them. As Drucker put it, in his pamphlet, “Managing Oneself” the place to begin is by discovering what you are good at. 


This seems non-controversial until you realize that most of our psycho theorists tell children to do what they love or what they want. When it is not telling them to feel guilty about their privilege-- an excellent way to render children dysfunctional-- it tells them to follow their passions.


In truth, they should go where their talents lead them. This is not the same as following one’s bliss.


Mehta’s second point reflects Drucker’s thought and also that of Malcolm Gladwell. He explains that, once a child discovers what he is good at, he must next work very hard at it. In a time when the good old work ethic, see yesterday’s post about workers, has fallen into desuetude, the notion that you need to work hard to achieve excellence sounds a bit archaic. And yet, the children who excel in standardized tests, to take an easy example, tend to work much harder than the children who do poorly on such tests.


And then, Mehta continues, talented children should be raised in a culture that values striving, that does not just value hard work, but that also values achievement, as in, good grades and winning in competition.


The researchers found that the majority of ultra elite athletes came from environments that advocated a culture of striving. They grew up in homes where pursuing excellence and pushing the boundaries were always expected, not merely desired.


It’s not just that failure is not an option. Mediocrity is not an option either. In the right culture children are expected to get the best scores. Didn’t the Tiger Mom tell her daughters that they had to be the best in all subjects, except drama and gym?


Parents should emphasize self-confidence, and should not criticize. In Mehta’s words:


When parents encourage self-confidence (instead of criticizing their kids and putting them down each time they fail at something), their kids are more likely to perform at the highest level and adopt the mindset that they will eventually rise to the top.


This kind of self-assuredness — or unwavering belief that they can be the best — is key to achieving greatness.


Note well, Mehta is not looking for children to achieve goodness. He wants them to be great. Do you have a problem with that?


Parents who seek this goal must also engage with their children, especially when their children ask questions. They want their children to be curious. They placed a priority on learning, exactly as today’s Asian American parents do. It is not the same as prioritizing popularity or coolness.


Parents of the most accomplished people always make learning new things a priority. And because they teach their kids to embrace curiosity, one thing they take very seriously is answering questions.


I've interviewed several Nobel Laureates, and almost all of them recalled that, even much later in life, their parents always patiently tried to answer questions they asked. And when the parents did not have immediate answers, they taught their kids how to look for the answers and often searched for them together.


And then there is specialization. In order to achieve greatness children need to specialize in precisely one thing. They cannot be dilettantes, or multi-faceted multi-taskers or jacks of all trades and masters of none. 


Parents often face the question of whether they should take the "specialist" approach and encourage their children to specialize in an activity that they show high potential in, or take the "generalist" approach and expose them to many different things (e.g., baseball, soccer, piano, math club) to help them become well-rounded.


Most parents choose the latter, but parents of exceptional kids choose the specialist approach.


Early specialization doesn't mean that your kid gives up doing other things, perhaps for fun or even for developing additional skills. It just means that they've picked the activity where they are committed to putting in the effort required to become as good as possible at it.


The parent mindset is that the earlier they encourage their kids to learn the basics of a field their kid shows promise in, the sooner they'll progress to more advanced skills. And the sooner they develop those advanced skills, the quicker they'll develop best-in-class skills. And the quicker they gain best-in-class skills, the more likely they are to attain a rare and elite level of proficiency.


And, of course, such children must have a competitive environment. The notion that every child should receive a trophy, a staple in a therapy culture that is working to enhance self-esteem, even where it is not based on achievement, is working to undermine excellence. A culture where competition is bad unless it produces the results that affirm the biases of liberal educators will be producing mediocrity:


Being competitive from an early age, even in small activities like board games or who can clean their room the fastest, exposed them to the stress and pressure that was required for them to win later in life.


But their parents also taught them that they should not place value on just competition and results, that being exceptional is more than just keeping score. If you solely fixate on results, and not improvement, then you're less likely to master your field.


This offers a brief precis of what a child needs to do to be great at what he is good at. Rather than limiting this to a tiny minority, we would do well to use these guidelines as a means to set out new policies. Aside from Peter Drucker, you will find them outlined in the Tiger Mom’s book, The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom and in Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

The Declining Harvard Brand

Two decades have passed since Lawrence Summers got into something of a tiff over grade inflation in the African-American Studies program. Apparently, the problem was not limited to that program. It had become endemic at Harvard, whose presidency Summers assumed after he left the Clinton administration.

This much to say that Summers is not a member of the vast right wing conspiracy.


In 2002 the Harvard Crimson reported on the issue.


Grade inflation, especially Harvard’s high rate of honors degrees, could hurt Harvard students in the job market, University President Lawrence H. Summers said at a question-and-answer session with students Wednesday night.


Although he said Harvard is on par with other schools in awarding 50 percent A and A- grades, Summers said he is particularly concerned with honors inflation. The College awarded honors degrees to more than 90 percent of graduates last year.


Summers, a former Harvard economics professor, said he worried that grade inflation would make employers think twice about Harvard students who graduated with honors diplomas.


“We’ve got to be sensitive not to put Harvard students at a disadvantage,” he said. “We’ve got to make sure a student who performs well is seen that way by employers.”


Obviously, the current mania about equity is not really news. Harvard and other major universities have been practicing affirmative action admissions for decades. Now, as they say, the chickens are coming home to roost. The woke policies are now devaluing Harvard degrees. As the old saying has it-- Go woke; go broke. It’s the free market in action. This time, it’s the free market in reputation.


On this point, many members of today's Harvard faculty agree. Campus Reform has the story:


Harvard University’s student newspaper discovered that over 40 percent of faculty members believe that the school’s standing is worsening.


The Crimson asked professors “how they believe the University’s standing within higher education has changed over the past decade.” Professors were largely pessimistic about the school’s status: 41 percent say it has fallen, 53 percent say it is unchanged, and a mere 6 percent say it has risen.


Over 70 percent of professors — 34 percent of whom “strongly” agreed — believe that grade inflation is a “prevalent” issue.


If you admit a significant number of students whose standardized tests are not up to par, you can either flunk most of them out or you can see them gravitating to the lower rungs of the class rankings. If you do not, for whatever reason, want to suffer the problems that would befall you in those cases, your recourse is grade inflation. Apparently, equity means giving everyone the same grades.


The problem involves affirmative action, grade inflation and political correctness. Campus Reform quotes Harvard professor Harvey Mansfield's analysis of the problem, from 2013:


Campus Reform reported in 2013 that the most common grade at Harvard was an “A-.” At the time, Harvey Mansfield — who has taught at Harvard since 1962 — said that the grade inflation “represents a failure on the part of this faculty and its leadership to maintain our academic standards.”


Mansfield told Campus Reform that he agrees with the recent poll’s results.


“Harvard’s standing has fallen, and I would blame the three evils of affirmative action, grade inflation, and political correctness,” he said. 


“Affirmative action makes everyone doubt that decisions of hiring and admissions are based on merit. Grade inflation makes everyone doubt that standards of excellence are being upheld. Political correctness breeds an atmosphere of suspicion and aggressive intolerance.”


Harvard and other major American universities have been lowering academic standards for a long time now. It has finally gotten the attention of the Harvard faculty. Will this cause Harvard to change its ways? Given the current political and cultural climate, this is extremely unlikely.

Where Have All the Workers Gone?

Surely, it matters that the Biden administration is paying people not to work. Surely, this explains, in part, why so few people are willing to go back to work. Apparently, the lure of working pales in comparison with free money.

Daniel Henninger explains in the Wall Street Journal this morning:


Still, it is impossible not to be struck by how many employers say that former and prospective employees—after a year of forced unemployment—simply will not work.


Henninger’s more salient point deviates slightly from the economic determinism argument. He suggests that what with all the constant calls for more work/life balance, with the notion that life should be more a party and less a job, it makes sense that people are not rushing back to the office or the local canteen. Therapy culture has been warring against work and the work ethic. Now we see the results.


Henninger explains:


Ideas have consequences. By making unemployment insurance competitive with market wage rates in a pandemic, the Biden Democrats may have done long-term damage to the American work ethic.


We will spend years discovering the altered patterns of behavior caused by politicians on the advice of epidemiologists ordering the nation to go home and stay home. Some are identifiable, such as large migrations out of big Northern cities. Less clear is the pandemic’s long-term effect on where people are willing to work—or whether they are willing to work at all….


I believe the pandemic accelerated a transition evident for years—away from the basic concept of daily work and toward an emerging idea that life is less about work and more about play. 


In truth, and for the purposes of this blog, the push away from work and toward generalized decadence has been a long time in the works.


Every time some television commentator or academic theorist starts talking about the good life, about your best life he is saying that too much work will make you mentally ill. Go out and party. Lounge around the house playing video games or watching porn. It’s the good life because it does not involve too much work.


So, the American work ethic is now on life support?


But the scale of effects from the yearlong pandemic shutdowns, combined with the government’s trillions in direct payments, has pushed the work ethic in the U.S. to a tipping point. Describing what we do now as “remote” and “virtual” means we know our attachments to the pre-pandemic world have become tenuous.


This means that our social connections have also become tenuous. It is not a good thing.


Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Strong, Empowered Women Warriors

If you were wondering what preoccupies the awesome American military, now you have an answer. It’s gender equity. For reasons that no one understands strong empowered women warriors are not doing so well on the military’s combat fitness tests. In fact, they are failing the test at an alarming rate.

Apparently, endlessly intoning the words strong and empowered does not make women stronger or more powerful. Who knew?

The bad news comes to us from Military.com, via Maggie’s Farm:


More than seven months after the official launch of the Army Combat Fitness Test, or ACFT, nearly half of female soldiers are still falling short, with enlisted women struggling the most, Military.com has learned. The data again raises questions about whether the Army's attempt to create a fitter force is creating more barriers to success for women.


Internal Army figures from April show 44% of women failed the ACFT, compared to 7% of men since Oct. 1. "Female soldiers continue to lag male soldier scores in all events," according to a United States Army Forces Command briefing obtained by Military.com.


Now you also know, that in our woke military, the solution to the problem is changing the test. If equity does not prevail, then something is wrong with the test. It is not showing how strong and empowered women really are. Besides, the new test was devised during the Trump administration, so we need to replace it with a more feministically correct test.


You can immediately what is wrong with the fitness tests. Far more men than women achieve the highest scores:


While the majority of women are passing the test, very few of them can get perfect scores. Only 66 female soldiers scored 500 points or higher, compared to 31,978 males. A score of 600 is the max.


Congress has always doubted the new test. It has believed that the fitness test contains an inherent bias. Thus, it wants the military to stop using it as a way to decide who does or does not belong in the combat infantry:


The ACFT's impact on women has caught the attention of lawmakers. Last year, Congress passed a measure halting the implementation of the test until an assessment independent of the Pentagon is complete on its impact on recruiting and retention.


Because, only diversity counts. 


The Daily Mail reports on recent efforts by the Biden military to reduce gender inequities:


That new option is just one of the changes Army leaders are making in their struggle to create a fitness test that is gender- and age-neutral, but that also doesn’t end up disadvantaging female or older soldiers who simply aren’t as strong as their younger male counterparts. 


In a sweeping nod to gender differences, Army leaders said they are also going to create a new tiered system that will mask some of the fitness score differences between men and women when it comes to promotions or other job selections.


In the new testing system, men and women would not be judged by the same scoring system. Men would be compared with men and women would be compared with women. This would make some sense if combat units were to be comprised of members of only one sex. If men and women are fighting side by side, it makes far less sense.


But, consider the following. The paper also reports on a Washington Post interview with Capt. Kristen Griest, one of the two women to make it through the army’s Ranger training program.


Griest strongly opposes reduced fitness standards for women. And she offers some good reasons for her view. Though, to be fair, she believes that women can do better than they have been doing. 


The Daily Mail reports on Capt. Griest’s views:


'As the Army’s first female infantry officer, I have long awaited the elimination of a gender-based fitness test. The drastically lower female standards of the old Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) not only jeopardized mission readiness in combat units but also reinforced the false notion that women are categorically incapable of performing the same job as men,' Griest wrote.  


'To not require women to meet equal standards in combat arms will not only undermine their credibility, but also place those women, their teammates, and the mission at risk,' she wrote.


Equal standards … what a quaint notion.


She continues:


First, reverting to gender-based scoring could drastically reduce the performance and effectiveness of combat arms units….


She added: 'Reverting to gender-based scoring and reducing the minimum standard for combat arms will also hurt the women in those branches. Under a gender-based system, women in combat arms have to fight every day to dispel the notion that their presence inherently weakens these previously all-male units. 


'Lower female standards also reinforce the belief that women cannot perform the same job as men, therefore making it difficult for women to earn the trust and confidence of their teammates.' 


The last points deserve emphasis. When the military uses a gender based system, this creates the impression that women add weakness to units. This perception persists, to the point where women have to prove themselves every day.


And when women are held to lower standards, they do not command respect from their teammates-- and this compromises their ability to lead.


Different standards for differently gendered individuals compromises teamwork. You do not need me to tell you how important teamwork is in the military, and in most other professions.


One remarks that the same critique can easily be applied to any diversity program. Two decades ago Shelby Steele made a similar point in referring to affirmative action programs in college admissions. The point is still valid and it shows why the cure for failed inequity is less, not more diversity quotas. Dare I say, this is not going to happen any time soon.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

A Lost Generation?

For some reason we have not been seeing very many reports on the damage done to children by the school lockdowns. By now, most people understand that these lockdowns were largely unnecessary. And many people understand that they were inflicted on American children by teachers unions that were trying to extort more money for themselves.

By now, we understand, according to a Wall Street Journal report, that approximately 15% of eligible children, around half a million, did not enroll in kindergarten this year. 


The teachers unions say that the lost learning can easily be made up. And yet, some psychologists beg to differ.


Valerie Bauerlein reports:


Of all the students who suffered learning loss during the Covid-19 pandemic and remote schooling, one grade level has educators very concerned: the kindergartners.


Kindergarten is where 5- and 6-year-olds learn the building blocks of how to be students, skills such as taking turns and working together that they will need for the next 12 years of formal schooling. It coincides with a critical window for brain development, the time between 5 and 7 years old when neural connections are firing most rapidly for higher-cognitive functions like problem-solving and reasoning.


Kindergarten “can’t be replicated even by the very best teachers in the virtual environment,” said Whitney Oakley, chief academic officer for North Carolina’s Guilford County Schools. A missed, delayed or low-quality kindergarten experience “could impact this generation of kids for their lifetime.”


She continues:


The most reliable predictor of positive outcomes in adulthood, from educational attainment to mental health, isn’t academic ability but how well students cooperate with peers, help others, understand feelings and resolve conflicts, according to a 2015 study by Mark Greenberg, a professor of developmental psychology at Penn State University, that tracked 750 people from kindergarten to about 25 years of age.


“The skills that we would be teaching in kindergarten? Children have not gotten them this year,” he said. “In the best case, they’ve gotten a small percentage of them.”


Let’s change the emphasis slightly. If children lack academic ability and if they are not trained to enhance their cognitive skills, understanding feelings will not make up for the deficiency. On the other hand, Greenberg is certainly correct to see that cooperating with peers and resolving conflicts are fundamentally important. A child who is not socialized will have difficulty functioning in a school.


It is so important that we ought to ask how the anti-racism training and the transgender indoctrination that some children are receiving in some schools is enhancing these skills.


Obviously, remote learning does not work for 5 year olds:


As of April 5, 34% of kindergartners attended districts that were fully in-person and 9% attended districts that were fully remote, with the majority of kids attending hybrid school, according to the Return To Learn Tracker, developed by the American Enterprise Institute. It isn’t clear how many of the hybrid districts offer full-time in-person instruction to kindergartners and a mix to other grades.


In suburban Washington, D.C., freelance writer Jessica Goodwin’s son spent most of the school year in remote learning. He wasn’t developing close friendships with classmates since they spent much of remote instruction time on mute. She spent most days sitting beside him, supervising logins, printing out worksheets, taking pictures when they are complete and scanning them in.


“The most important part of kindergarten is how to make friends, how to solve your own problems and be independent,” said Ms. Goodwin, a former elementary school teacher. “It’s hard to be independent when you’re sitting in a room all day with your mom.”


Kindergarten begins a child’s socialization. It is his first entry into the world outside of the home. Apparently, as Goodwin remarks, you cannot produce an equivalent by having him stay home, sitting next to his mother.

The Price of Biden's Weakness

It is not just that Palestinian terrorism now has a friend in the White House. As Caroline Glick explains, the Biden administration has been projecting weakness around the world. It seems to have touched the Colonial pipeline, but it is fully in evidence in the Middle East.

The conflagration that is currently happening in Israel and its environs is ample evidence of the trouble that the weak Biden presidency has allowed. Of course, when the administration and its Congressional supporters speak out, they blame everything on Israel. 


Caroline Glick brings us up to date about some of what is happening in Israel.


Last week, Hamas' leaders announced their detailed plans to open a new campaign against Israel on May 9. May 9 was a conflation of three events: Jerusalem Day – Israel's national holiday celebrating the unification of Jerusalem in 1967; Muslims marked the holiest day of the month of Ramadan, and Iran marked its own Jerusalem Day, whose purpose is to call for the destruction of Israel and end Jewish rule in Jerusalem.


Hamas' leaders put everything on the table. And events progressed precisely according to the plans the terror bosses set out in their public announcements. The combination of Arab violence in Sheikh Jarrah, the Damascus Gate, and the Temple Mount, along with balloon bombs and rocket launches against Israel from Gaza, arson fires, and terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria are precisely what Hamas' leaders said would transpire. Fatah, for its part has been a full participant in the violence. Fatah's office in Nablus publicly took credit for the drive-by shooting of three Jewish students at a bus stop in Samaria last Monday. The Fatah terrorist critically wounded all three young men, one of them died of his wounds three days later. The other two are still fighting for their lives.


What did National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan have to say about all of this. Why, he blamed Israel:


Despite that fact that everything was on the table, and despite the fact that only one side has been rioting, violently attacking and trying to lynch innocent civilians, Jake Sullivan, President Joe Biden's national security adviser found it appropriate Sunday night to phone his Israeli counterpart Meir Ben-Shabbat and read him the riot act. In the course of their conversation, Sullivan parroted the libelous narrative being spewed by Hamas and the PA/Fatah which blames Israel and Israeli Jews for the premeditated violence that Arabs – instructed by Hamas and Fatah – are conducting against Israel and Israeli Jews.


Fortunately, the Israeli official told Sullivan to mind his own business.


And yet, in another column Glick explains that the Biden administration’s projection of weakness is creating problems in other parts of the world.


For instance, in Afghanistan and Iraq:


In Afghanistan and Iraq, violent attacks against U.S. forces are rising steeply. From January through April, attacks on U.S. forces increased 40%. President Joe Biden’s announcement that the U.S. will withdraw its forces from the country by September 11, the 20th anniversary of the jihadist attacks on the U.S. worsened the situation by communicating a message of profound American weakness and defeatism. The Taliban, al Qaeda and Iran clearly believe they are now free to humiliate and bleed the U.S. as they take control of the country.


Also in Iraq, militias now feel emboldened to attack American bases. Naturally, you do not know about this. The American media is simply ignoring it.


In Iraq, Iranian-controlled Shiite militias launched three missile strikes against U.S. bases in the past week. Hoping to avoid confrontation with Iran as its emissaries appease it in Vienna, the Biden administration is assiduously avoiding acknowledging that Iran is behind the attacks, and so it guarantees that more attack will soon follow. As in Afghanistan, Iran reads U.S. behavior as an invitation to strike with immunity.


In Lebanon, Glick reports:


While turning a blind eye to Syria, the Biden administration continues to empower the Lebanese armed forces and government – both wholly controlled by Iran through Hezbollah. Last month, the administration transferred armored trucks valued at $14 million to the Hezbollah-controlled Lebanese military and asked that Congress provide financial assistance to the government.


As for Abraham Accords, in the face of feckless American leadership, they are beginning to unravel:


Just months ago, hope abounded that Saudi Arabia would join the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan in the Abraham peace accords with Israel. But the picture is now reversed. Recognizing the U.S. has changed sides, the Saudis no longer believe that with Israel they can contain Iran. So now they are hoping to cut a deal with the ayatollahs.


And also, regarding the relationship between Israel and the UAE:


Ties between Israel and the UAE are also showing signs of stress. Last week, the UAE joined the anti-Israel cavalcade, releasing a statement condemning Israel for quelling Arab violence against Jews in Jerusalem. And this week reports emerged that Iranian Foreign Minister Mohamed Javad Zarif paid a visit to the Emirates.


And then, remember when we were told that we needed to restore good relations with the European Union. Remember when we were told that the Trump administration was too harsh on the poor put-upon Europeans. Well, now we have Joe Biden in the White House. The result, the EU is being more open about its anti-Israeli bias. After all, during the Trump administration it had quietly refused to join the Abraham Accords and had continued to support Iran:


Thursday the EU and the governments of most major EU states along with the Biden State Department issued statements condemning Israel and insisting that Israel’s control over its unified capital along with Judea and Samaria is “illegal.” Whatever is coming next week will be the first expression of a coordinated Palestinian-Western assault against Israeli control over Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria since Biden entered office.


So, those who voted for Biden should be slightly aware of what they voted for.

Monday, May 10, 2021

The Truth about Gender Discrimination

Obviously, most of us take the news coming from Sweden with more than a few grains of salt. And yet, the study by Swedish doctoral candidate Mark Granberg merits at least a post.

You see, Granberg discovered something new and interesting about gender discrimination in Sweden. He discovered that female dominant jobs discriminate against men but that male dominant professions do not discriminate against women.


How did he and his fellow researchers conduct their study? Why, they sent out applications from male and female candidates for different jobs.


Psypost reports:


There were 3,200 fictitious job applications sent to 15 different occupations, including four male-dominated professions — vehicle mechanic, delivery/truck driver, IT developer, and warehouse worker — and six female-dominated professions — customer service, cleaner, childcare, accounting clerk, preschool teacher, and enrolled nurse. The remaining occupations included B2B sales, telemarketing, chef, waitstaff, and store clerk.


The results skewed toward female applicants, most especially in female dominant jobs:


Granberg and his colleagues found that women had higher positive employer response rates than men on average, an effect that was primarily driven by female-dominated occupations. There was no evidence of discrimination against women in male-dominated professions or in mixed-gender professions, but the researchers did find evidence of discrimination against men in female-dominated professions.


Then again, once we expand our purview and ask whether you would hire a male, someone who is surely suffering from toxic masculinity, to be a preschool teacher or a childcare provider, surely gender must count among the job qualifications, or disqualifications. After all, don’t we all know, yet again, that some of these jobs require more empathy. And that empathy is the province of the female of the species. 


On the other side, it is interesting to see that in male dominated professions hiring officers do not discriminate against women. This might simply be a function of the ultra wokeness that infests the Swedish mind. Then again, the researchers qualify their conclusions by saying that women might suffer discrimination later in their careers. Surely, we must maintain the narrative:


“This study only captures discrimination at the initial stages of the hiring process at entry level jobs in Sweden in the occupations which we study,” Granberg noted. “It is of course possible that there is discrimination at later stages such as actual job offers (as opposed to interview offers), in wage negotiations, in the work place, and/or in promotions. However, as there are studies from other countries with similar findings, we would say it is reasonable to generalize a bit in the country dimension.”


Meaning-- in other countries-- he does not say which ones-- women do not suffer discrimination when applying for jobs in male dominant fields. And yet, they might not receive as many offers and they might not be paid as well. Of course, motherhood might play a role in this process.


So, it’s all vaguely interesting, but still, why the obsession with discrimination? Why would the researchers not ask whether the companies that hire for diversity are as productive as those that do not?


In America we have two worlds, ones we will call the academy and high tech. The first hires and has been hiring primarily for diversity. This means that our universities have dumbed themselves down to the point where they are both a national and international embarrassment. The only exception lies in STEM subjects, which are largely inhabited by Asian males.


As for Silicon Valley, where our tech oligarchs are becoming thought police, diversity is nowhere to be found. These immensely profitable companies are mostly run by white and Asian males. Given that they increasingly control the means of national communications, one suspects that they will continue to hire for merit, without anyone showing much interest in their hiring practices.


Look at it this way, if other American companies hire for diversity, they will scoop up all the less competent workers. This will mean that more very competent workers will be excluded on the grounds of their race, because they do not fill diversity quotas This will give Silicon Valley the chance to hire from a group of more qualified workers.


Diversity for thee but not for me. This will produce a nation where the brightest people will all be working in one profession. Companies that hire for merit will excel while companies that hire for diversity will flounder. In the latter context, we need not stop with the academy. Hasn't the mainstream media been destroying its reputation for fair and honest reporting? Could it be that this is happening because these companies hire for diversity and not for merit.


Does the same rule apply to college admissions? If Ivy League schools are dumbing themselves down, then you would expect that state schools would have an increasingly competent student body. This means that the quality of education at state schools will increase and that corporate hiring officers will do best to hire from them and not from the Ivy League. I imagine that they have already figured that out.


Sunday, May 9, 2021

John Brennan Doubles Down on Failure

Speaking of hurt feelings, place the name of John Brennan high on the list. The former director of the CIA, a pillar of the Obama presidency, has been fulminating out loud about the need for Palestinian statehood. By the by, he is strongly opposed to the Trump Middle East policy, what with its overt bias toward Israel.

Brennan’s interventions come at an interesting time. Palestinian terrorists understand full well something that escapes the ken of American Jews. Namely, with Joe Biden they have a friend in the White House. They know that pro-Palestinian activists have important roles in the Biden National Security Council and the State Department. So, why not launch more attacks on Israel, from Gaza and even in Jerusalem. No time like the present to revert to terrorism in order to advance the Palestinian cause.


Of course, the Trump administration broke with decades of received wisdom about the Middle East. Lo and behold, it worked. At least, it has worked until now, until the Biden administration sets out to undo it.


From John Kerry to John Brennan on up, Democratic politicos insisted that if Trump moved the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Arabs would take to the streets in furor and rage. They were wrong, and they do not have the strength of character to admit to it.


In a long and excellent article Lee Smith explains the disgrace that has befallen John Brennan:


But the so-called Arab street didn’t erupt when Trump moved the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. Islamists didn’t topple the regimes in Cairo and Amman when the U.S. recognized Israel’s sovereignty in the Golan Heights. Saudi Arabia, the custodian of the two holy shrines in Mecca and Medina, gave all but explicit approval when the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain normalized relations with Israel.


The indignity of it all. So, Brennan has taken to the pages of the New York Times to militate for the Palestinian cause:


That left Brennan with egg on his face. Now out of government, Brennan believes that despite “dealing with a dizzying array of domestic and international problems,” the Biden administration should prioritize “the Palestinian quest for statehood.” Why? To put an end to Israel’s “oppressive security practices,” Brennan wrote on Tuesday for The New York Times. But the case he makes for bumping Palestinian nationalism to the top of the White House’s to-do list is not strategic or rational. It’s sentimental, with a dollop of antisemitism on top—just like his decades of poor intelligence assessments.


“I always found it difficult to fathom how a nation of people deeply scarred by a history replete with prejudice, religious persecution, & unspeakable violence perpetrated against them would not be the empathetic champions of those whose rights & freedoms are still abridged,” Brennan tweeted Tuesday, promoting his Times op-ed.


And of course, being an anti-Semite did not disqualify Brennan from being director of CIA. But, as happened with Kerry, his views are redolent of anti-Semitism. Who knows better-- Israeli Jews or American liberals-- if the former, it’s quite a humiliation for the latter.


You will note the charge-- Israelis lack empathy. One is seriously appalled by the promiscuous use of the concept of empathy here. One is fast becoming seriously appalled at any use of the concept of empathy-- exception made for the nursery, when dealing with beings who cannot speak.


The Israelis should yield to Palestinian terrorism because it would show how much empathy they have. Of course, no one asks whether the Palestinians should feel any empathy for the Jews that they are trying to kill. The Palestinians have cast themselves as victims, so they can do whatever they want. 


Smith continues:


Really? It is quite easy, in fact, to imagine the responses of Israeli families—tens of thousands of whom have seen loved ones injured and killed in Palestinian terror attacks—to Brennan’s disappointment in them (though it is hard to imagine printable ones). Even more striking than the barely veiled antisemitism in the ex-CIA chief’s public pronouncements is his unctuous hypocrisy.


Anti-Israeli bias drips from John Brennan. Smith shows that Palestinian leaders bear responsibility for their people’s misery. Brennan ignores it. And Smith also remarks that the Biden administration, in order to foment anti-Israeli violence, is now funding the Palestinian Authority’s program to pay people for committing acts of violence against Israelis:


But in blaming the Israeli government for its own security concerns and the sorry status of the two-state solution, Brennan failed to mention that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas chose to sit out U.S.-sponsored peace talks in 2020, when the Trump administration promised an eventual Palestinian state as well as $50 billion in immediate international investment. The “moderate” Abbas has similarly rejected every offer made by Israel or any third party for the past 15 years. Even more strangely for a former spy chief, Brennan takes it as a good sign that the Biden administration has restarted funding for “development programs” that the Palestinian leadership in fact uses to pay terrorists who kill Israelis, a form of aid the Trump White House had previously cut off.


It's a sobering reflection that American Jews who voted for Biden were voting to pay off people who kill Israelis. Let that one sink in for a moment. Besides, at least they did not vote for a man who Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu called a great friend of Israel and a great friend of the Jewish people-- that would have been Donald Trump.


Being as the Palestinians are oppressed they bear no responsibility for their conditions. The amoral calculus is perfectly consistent with woke American ideology:


Brennan is right that the daily circumstances of ordinary Palestinians are tragic. Most simply want to lead dignified lives, enriching and enjoying their families and communities. The fact that many can’t, however, is not the fault of Jerusalem or Washington, nor even primarily of the Arab regimes, which for so many years used the Palestinians as pawns to advance their own domestic and international interests. With the Abraham Accords, a coalition of prominent Arab states publicly and unreservedly gave up on the rejectionism that still drives the sclerotic ruling cadre in Ramallah, and embraced Israel’s dynamic economy, society, and military as models and partners. Shimon Peres’ dream of real peace finally started to materialize under Netanyahu and Trump, two men he abhorred. But it came true nonetheless.


The problem is that John Brennan and John Kerry and their ilk have been consistently wrong about Israel and about the Middle East. That it took a real estate developer from New York City to show them another way, a way that worked, is too much for their fragile egos to bear:


Now it is clear for all to see that the decades Brennan and his colleagues spent working on the Middle East were wasted on wrongheaded myths and sentiment. They had access to endless acres of the most highly classified intelligence assembled by the most powerful country in the world, but somehow, they misread it. They were wrong about the peace process, wrong about Israel and the Palestinians, wrong about the politics of the Middle East. What they spent their careers passing off to policymakers weren’t precious secrets that explained the laws of political gravity, but poetry in translation.