Sunday, February 28, 2021

Biden Declares War on Saudi Arabia

By now you know that the Biden administration has released a report claiming that the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was responsible for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

It has elicited gale force outrage from the bastions of the media and former Obama administration officials. Nicholas Kristof-- a writer we praised yesterday-- insisted that America visit great punishment on MBS-- because Khashoggi was Kristof’s friend. It's always good to stand for principle.

It almost feels unnecessary, but not one of these sanctimonious hypocrites cared in the least when the Iranian ayatollahs were crushing domestic dissent in 2009. The Obama administration could not even muster the courage to denounce it. And, as for the thousands of gay youth that have been murdered by the Iranian regime-- for the crime of being gay-- the Obamaphile media has simply forgotten to report it. Dare we mention that the anti-homophobia left has been as silent as a lamb. 

Anyway, the Obama administration has returned to power. Among its first tasks, undermining the Abraham Accords that count as one of the most consequential achievements of the Trump administration. The high priests of identity politics hate the accords because they were fashioned by Trump and by his Jewish son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Anti-Semitism is alive and well in the Biden administration, on the National Security Council and in the State Department.

Besides, if you prefer another interpretation, the Trump management of the Middle East made former government officials look like incompetent buffoons. Didn’t the surgically enhanced John Kerry intone, with the maximum of conviction, that no peace would ever come to the Middle East until we could solve the Palestinian problem. Now, the Gulf Arab states do not care about the Palestinian terrorist strategy and are doing business with Israel.

So, the administration needs to find a way to mask the shame of John Kerry and other Obama officials. 

Of the articles I have seen, the best was written by Caroline Glick. One might say that the Trump administration was practicing Realpolitik while the Biden administration is practicing idealistic foreign policy-- with a hefty dose of anti-Semitism.

Glick begins by saying that releasing the report, an indictment of MBS will be:

...destructive to U.S. national security and to the security and stability of the Middle East.

And yet, the action was perfectly intelligible. Glick offers a sage reading of the policy:

It was predictable for 2 reasons. First, this is Obama’s 3rd term. And in Obama’s 1st term he played a central role in overthrowing Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, the anchor of the U.S.’s alliance system in the Sunni Arab world in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood, the ideological anchor of every Sunni terror group in the world.

Obama’s consistent policy for 8 years was to side with the jihadists. Obama’s anti-colonialist worldview bred his anti-Western sensibilities. He and his neo-Marxist advisors viewed the jihadists as the “authentic” voice of the Islamic world. They were favored because they were “revolutionary” and anti-Western. In every conflict that pitted either conservative Sunni leaders, Iranian anti-regime forces, or Israel against jihadists from Hamas to Hezbollah, to the Muslim Brotherhood and the Houthis, or Iran, Obama and his people supported the jihadists. For this reason, Obama admired both Turkish dictator Erdogan and the Qatari ruling family. Like him, they supported jihadists.

Of course, Obama always sided with the radical jihadist. He refused consistently to denounce radical Islam. And he refused to denounce anti-Semitic actions committed by Islamists-- i.e., the attack on a kosher supermarket in Paris. About that, Obama said that a couple of guys had done a couple of things.

Now, when Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates found new young leaders, leaders who were working to reform Islam, to modernize and liberalize their nations, this posed a problem for an administration that had cast its lot with the jihadists. Worse yet, these new leaders wanted to have better ties with Israel, and the Obama administration flunkies hated them, to the roots of their deluded souls.

We will add that these leaders are wildly popular in their nations. For America to attack them with the Khashoggi indictment will certainly damage the administration reputation in the Middle East. Of course, the mullahs and the Palestinian terrorists will be cheering:

MBS and MBZ from the UAE were big problems for Obama, Robert Malley and their ilk. They appeared out of nowhere.

Young and vigorous, they seek to liberalize their conservative societies. They are deeply opposed to Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood. They are open to peace and cooperation with Israel. They support Israel in its campaigns against Hamas and Hezbollah. And they are certainly “authentic” Arab Muslims. When the UAE declared the Muslim Brotherhood, and Obama’s key supporters and ideological allies at CAIR terrorist organizations, Obama and his comrades were so angry they could barely put together a coherent sentence.

As for Jamal Khashoggi, besides being a friend of Nicholas Kristof, his resume is anything but clean. In fact, he was a terrorist sympathizer:

 He was a Qatari agent of influence. He was a former Saudi intelligence officer who sided with the Wahabist jihadists in the royal family who supported al Qaeda. He was friends with Osama bin Laden and mourned his death. The al Qaeda, ISIS, Iran and Hamas supporting Qatari regime was essentially writing his columns in the Washington Post.

And, Glick suggests that he was an agent of international Islamist terrorism:

Khashoggi’s receipt of a green card made no sense. His gig as a columnist at Jeff Bezos’s paper made no sense unless seen as an effort of Obama’s deep state friends, particularly former CIA director John Brennan, who opposed MBS from the outset. And then it made perfect sense. In other words, Khashoggi, a terror supporting Qatari agent against a modernizing, pro-American, anti-jihadist and pro-Israel Saudi Crown Prince was an important political warfare asset for Obama’s clique. His job was to discredit MBS and legitimize the terror-supporting Qataris while making pro-jihadist progressives feel good about themselves.

At the least, the Obama administration flunkies want the old Saudi Arabia back. Whereas the current king has wanted to support Palestinian terrorism, his son wants to recognize the legitimacy of the state of Israel. And, we can’t have that, can we, Obamaphiles. So, the Biden administration is working to undermine the Saudi line of succession and to reduce the power of MBS. We are willing to try to crush reform in order to restore anti-Semitism.

Glick explains:

They immediately set out lionizing Khashoggi as some sort of Nelson Mandela so that they could turn MBS into Hitler or whatever. As Smith reported in another article, Robert Malley, who is now in charge of Biden’s Iran policy, was the first pushing the line that in response to Khashoggi’s death, the U.S. should end its support/alliance with Saudi Arabia in retribution and side with the Iran-controlled Houthis against Saudi Arabia.

It was a testament to Donald Trump’s common sense and his political courage that he refused to bow to their pressure. And it was equally obvious back in 2018 that if a Democrat beat Trump in 2020, the next Democrat administration would resuscitate the Khashoggi affair to try to push MBS from power.

And, of course, the Biden administration wants to undermine or abolish the Abraham Accords:

The worst thing that happened to the Obama nee Biden crowd were the Abraham Accords. This is why the first thing that Biden and his handlers did was bow out of the U.S. side of the deal by freezing the arms sales to the UAE and Saudi Arabia. The Abraham Accords put paid their false claims that the jihadists are the authentic voice of the Arab world. The popularity of the deals among the citizens of the Gulf and much of the wider Arab world – like Morocco and Sudan — made clear that Obama (Biden) and their ilk were basing U.S. Middle East policy on the propaganda being taught in Middle East Studies departments throughout the U.S. rather than on anything even vaguely resembling the reality of the region and the views of people who actually live here.

Glick does not want to predict whether MBS and MBZ will survive. Obviously, if either of them make gesture of conciliation with the American administration it would constitute a loss of face-- so they will probably not concede anything at all.

For now the governments of both countries have denounced the indictments in the strongest terms. And, we note again, that they are both very popular among their people. Saudi subjects are very happy with MBS’s reformation. For our part we will look to see any movement in the relationship between Israel and the Muslim states that are part of the Abraham Accords. And we will also look at whether or not these countries start doing more business with Russia and China. 

I don’t know if MBS will survive this blow or not. There is reason to fear that at the end of the day, the leaders of the UAE and of Saudi Arabia will decide they are better off making an arrangement with Iran supported by the U.S. than standing up for their sovereignty and their interests with Israel. And if they do, it will be a disaster of epic proportions. The danger of war will rise exponentially. Jihadists of the Sunni and Shiite varieties will be empowered as never before. And Israel will be in a pretty horrible position.

But in the midst of all of this, leave it to the fake human rights activists and real terror supporters and jihad sympathizers like Malley and his comrades in Obama’s new administration to pat themselves on the back for ushering in an “authentic” era in the Middle East.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Destroying Education in America

Writing on the Hot Air Site, John Sexton quotes at length from a recent Nicholas Kristof column about school closures. (via Maggie’s Farm) This saves you the indignity of subscribing to the Times.

As Sexton points out, Kristof is quite correct to lay the blame at the foot of Democratic politicians. And yet, he or his editors do not mention the greater blame, which belongs to the teachers’ unions.

Here are excerpts from the Kristof column:

The blunt fact is that it is Democrats — including those who run the West Coast, from California through Oregon to Washington State — who have presided over one of the worst blows to the education of disadvantaged Americans in history. The result: more dropouts, less literacy and numeracy, widening race gaps, and long-term harm to some of our most marginalized youth.

The San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank this month estimated that educational disruptions during this pandemic may increase the number of high school dropouts over 10 years by 3.8 percent, while also reducing the number of college-educated workers in the labor force. This will shrink the incomes of Americans for 70 years, until the last of today’s students leave the work force, the bank said…

“We have to acknowledge that there is a large percentage of kids that have ‘disappeared’ — students who have never logged in, or logged in and never fully engaged,” said Melissa Connelly, chief executive of OneGoal, a nonprofit that does outstanding work with low-income high school students…

“The evidence on remote learning suggests that despite the best efforts of teachers it doesn’t work for a large share of kids,” said Emily Oster, a Brown University economist who has studied the issue. “I think we’ve deprioritized children in a way that will do long-term damage.”

Sexton comments:

There’s a lot to like about this piece but there are still a couple of obvious problems with it. For one, it blames Democrats generally but doesn’t quite single out teacher’s unions which are the main source of opposition to reopening, with or without the vaccine. Yes, it’s true that Democrats are responsible for this problem at every level, but it’s also true that some Democratic mayors and governors have been doing their best, even suing school districts to light a fire under them and the unions. The word union never appears in the piece, which is very odd.

The data on safety is in and the need of students is great. This is the moment the president should be cranking up the bully pulpit to full volume and saying all the things that Nick Kristof says in his column. The fact that the White House is not doing that means its not just teacher’s unions who are abdicating their responsibility to America’s children, it’s President Biden as well.

Of course, many private and parochial schools have remained open, giving their students an advantage. Up to a point, that is. Yesterday, Megan Kelly explained to Bill Maher why she had taken her two boys out of New York’s Collegiate School. For those who are unfamiliar with New York private schools, Collegiate sits at the summit. Parents would sell their souls to get their children into that school.

The Daily Mail reports:

She said her sons' school in particular troubled her.

When he was in third grade, she said, they 'unleashed a three-week experimental trans-education program.'

Kelly said it was difficult for her son to understand, and not helpful.

Her son was in a class where the children were eight and nine at the time.

'It wasn't about support — we felt that it was more like they were trying to convince them,' she said. 'Like, come on over.'

She also said her kindergartner, Thatcher, 'was told to write a letter to the Cleveland Indians objecting to their mascot.'

And then, Bill Maher himself read from an anti-racism letter that had been circulating at the school.

Maher read from a letter which was circulated among a diversity group at the school that said things like 'there's a killer cop sitting at every school where white children learn.'

The letter, written by the executive director of Orleans Public Education Network, Nahliah Webber, also claimed 'white kids are being indoctrinated in black death'.

Maher continued reading: 'I'm tired of white people reveling in their state-sanctioned depravity and snuffing out black life with no consequences.'

He added: 'There [are] racist problems problems in this country, but this is hyperbole. And this is making people crazy. This is not the way we get to the Promised Land.'

Keep in mind, this is the best that New York City is offering. If you want to know why wealthy people are leaving town and moving to Florida, the reason is simple. Once their children’s schools became consumed in woke madness, there was no longer a reason to stay.

Dr. Rachel Levine Meets Dr. Rand Paul

Smug and supercilious Monica Hesse makes a strange effort to challenge Senator Rand Paul’s views of the current transgender social contagion.

You see, Hesse knows the truth about transgenderism. She is effectively a true believer and she wants to hold Rand Paul to account for not knowing as much as she does. Besides, Dr. Paul is an eye doctor and Dr. Rachel Levine, candidate for assistant secretary of HHS, is a pediatrician.

Of course, Levine is transgendered. To speak the unspeakable, anyone who thinks that Levine looks like a woman needs to see an eye doctor, at the least.

Note Hesse’s dismissive and contemptuous tone:

Rachel Levine, the physician nominated to become the Biden administration’s assistant secretary of health, came to her confirmation hearing prepared to politely discuss matters such as the covid pandemic, the opioid epidemic, behavioral health and racial disparities in medical treatment.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), however, seemed more interested in talking about children’s genitals.

“Dr. Levine, you have supported [minors] being given hormone blockers, and surgical reconstruction of a child’s genitalia,” Paul said, in a tirade in which he also conflated genital mutilation (a horrifying practice that public health experts view as a human rights violation) with the transition-related surgeries chosen by some transgender individuals to help their bodies conform with their gender identity.

Genital mutilation is bad, though one recalls that when Egypt elected as president a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, one Mohamed Morsi, after his organization provided easy access to female genital mutilation, the first world leader to visit Cairo to legitimize his election was that great champion of women’s rights-- Hillary Clinton.

But, I digress. Hesse is saying that when a transgender female undergoes surgical castration, it is not genital mutilation because-- take a deep breath-- of the intention. You see, if an individual believes with deep conviction that he is really a she, when he undergoes surgical or chemical castration, his goal is to make his body conform to his belief. To imagine that this is no longer mutilation beggars belief. The same applies to female children who take puberty blocking hormones and to teenage girls who have double mastectomies.

Now, Hesse is clearly convinced that Rand Paul was wrong. After all, Paul was citing the preponderance of the research, showing that children are influenced into becoming transgender by their teachers and their peers. As Abigail Shrier and Lisa Littman have shown, transgenderism seems precisely to be a social contagion. Paul also noted that the vast majority of children who believe they are transgendered, ultimately change their minds.

About that the all-knowing pretentious fool Hesse has nothing to say, except to prostrate herself before the brilliance of Dr. Levine. Seriously, does it get any worse:

 She [Dr. Rachel Levine]  would have been within her rights to be enraged by Paul’s ignorance, but she responded on Thursday by repeating a steady message: 

“Transgender medicine is a complex and nuanced field,” she said twice. It was composed of “robust research,” and standards of care. She would be happy, she said, to come to Paul’s office and discuss the issue in-depth.

She continues with an absurd non sequitur:

In Paul’s telling, children chose to be transgender because of peer pressure, or pressure from doctors. In his world, those children would be fine if only doctors like Levine would deny them treatment.

In truth, as noted by everyone who has studied the question, the vast majority of such children change their minds. If they are treated, thus mutilated by physicians, the damage is irreversible.

As for Dr. Levine’s special expertise, in public health, the reason she was purportedly chosen for the job, Tyler O’Neil reports on Sen. Richard Burr’s outline of her qualifications:

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) laid out the scandal in his opening remarks at Levine’s confirmation hearing on Thursday.

“Along with testing challenges from last spring, your state failed to adequately protect nursing home residents from the virus and is making unacceptable mistakes in the vaccine distribution process,” Burr noted.

“Pennsylvania ranks as one of the most dangerous states for long-term care residents battling COVID-19. Fifty-two percent of Pennsylvania COVID-19 deaths came from nursing homes, and three in ten of the deadliest facilities in the country were in Pennsylvania. Your state came in 46th in the country in its effort to put safeguards in place that managed the spread of infections in these settings with only 16 percent of the state’s nursing homes receiving infection control inspections that could have saved residents from the spread of COVID-19,” Burr claimed.

Indeed, 52 percent of COVID-19 deaths in Pennsylvania have occurred in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. As for the 46th in the country rating, that appears to trace back to Families for Better Care, which ranked Pennsylvania near last for dangerous conditions in nursing homes when it released its 2019 Nursing Home Report Card.

So, Dr. Levine failed in Pennsylvania. She might be nominated for the Andrew Cuomo award as the Lord High Executioner of the coronavirus. For the Biden administration that counts as a qualification. 

Friday, February 26, 2021

Peggy Noonan on New York City's Future

I am not going to offer too much commentary on Peggy Noonan’s Wall Street Journal column. Posted today, her thoughts are markedly close to my own. She is pessimistic about New York City’s future. As am I. Her reasons echo my own, expressed here on numerous occasions.

Besides, when Noonan is on her game, she is on her game. One does well to heed her analysis of the current state of the city.

She notes well that the pandemic has broken a human habit, a way of life, a way of doing business. And, habits do not merely snap back once the crisis is over:

In the past year the owners of great businesses found how much can be done remotely. They hadn’t known that! They hadn’t had to find out. They don’t have to pay that killer rent for office space anymore. People think it will all snap back when the pandemic is fully over but no, a human habit broke; a new way of operating has begun. People will come back to office life to some degree, maybe a significant one; not everything can be done remotely; people want to gather, make friends, instill a sense of mission; but it will never be what it was.

Walking around the city shows the amount of devastation caused by the shift away from in-office work.

The closed shops in and around train stations and office buildings, they’re not coming back. The empty towers—people say, “Oh, they can become luxury apartments!’ Really? Why would people clamor for them, so they can have a place in the city and be near work? But near work has changed. So you can be glamorous? Many of the things that made Manhattan glamorous—shows, restaurants, clubs, museums, the opera—are wobbling.

And now, the numbers:

Here are some numbers from the Partnership for New York City, a business group. The city has lost 500,000 private-sector jobs since March, 2020. Tens of thousands of small businesses, and 5,000 restaurants, have closed. Less than 15% of office workers are back in the workplace they left a year ago.

Think about it, less than 15% of office workers are in their workplaces. Think about that for a few moments.

And, of course, tourism has collapsed:

Tourism, an approximately $70 billion industry, won’t be back until theater is back. When? Judith Miller had a good piece in City Journal on how Broadway’s older houses can’t be retrofitted for social distancing and still make a profit. No one is sure theatergoers will rush back. Theater will be reborn—man will always have shows and stories—but as what? 

Whatever comes—hybrid productions, tape and live, or more small and intimate theaters—it will have a whole new profit structure and financial realities. Show folk will tell you: A lot will depend on what the unions allow. Can they be nimble and farsighted? Or will they think everything is just an unending 2019?

Ah yes, it all depends on what the unions will allow, and what the politicians can do. If our future depends on the unions and the local politicians, we are royally fucked.

As for evidence of the exodus, here it is:

The Partnership for New York City reports 300,000 residents of high-income neighborhoods have filed change-of-address forms with the U.S. Postal Service. You know where they are going: to lower-tax and no-income-tax states, those that have a friendlier attitude toward money making and that presumably aren’t going hard-left. Florida has gotten so cheeky that this month its chief financial officer sent a letter inviting the New York Stock Exchange to relocate to Miami.

While politicians want to increase taxes, a policy so stupid that even Gov. Cuomo sees its futility. Besides, the city budget is about to collapse completely. If you thought that public transport was third world, just wait. And, of course, let’s not ignore the crime problem.

That’s the long-term project. In the short term, New York needs to hold on to the wealthy—the top 5% percent in New York pay 62% of state income taxes—and force down crime. If you tax the rich a little higher, most will stay: There’s a lot of loyalty to New York, a lot of psychic and financial investment in it. But if you tax them higher for the privilege of being attacked on the street by a homeless man in a psychotic episode, they will leave. Because, you know, they’re human.

America Viewed from Europe

In a better world the question William Galston raises in his Wall Street Journal column would not be-- can we blame this on Trump?

While Trump certainly bears some responsibility for the state of our relations with Europe, we recall that the president of France, Emmanuel Macron, recently denounced woke American culture. To his mind, it was a sell out to Islamist terrorism. If you are fighting Islamophobia and not radical Islam, you have missed the point. So said President Macron, and one agrees with his point.

Besides, America saw a violent insurrection across its major cities for months on end last year. The insurrection received the overt support from important Democratic politicians. It showed a country divided against itself.

Anyway, Galston argues that Biden’s wish to rejoin the trans-Atlantic alliance is not going to be fulfilled. Apparently, Europe has changed its mind about America. It believes that America’s politics is broken and that the Biden election, like all the king’s horses and all the king’s men, is not going to put it back together again.

I would not call this a vote of confidence in senile old Joe. If I recall correctly, the first administration official to call the president of France was Veep Kamala Harris, not POTUS himself. Leadership, anyone?

You cannot have a broken political system without connivance on both sides. True enough, many Trump supporters believe that the most recent election was stolen. In some sense they have a point, not, as Tucker Carlson pointed out last night, because votes were rigged, but because tech giants like Google and Twitter made in-kind contributions to the Biden campaign-- skewing the news, suppressing unfavorable stories and influencing the American mind.

Again, when it comes to America’s broken democracy, blame must surely be shared. Tech tycoons who do not believe that America should be allowed to make up its own mind, without being manipulated by tech itself, are surely part of the problem.

Anyway, Galston reports from Europe:

President Biden set out to declare a triumphant U.S. return to the trans-Atlantic alliance. “America is back,” the president said in his speech this week to the Munich Security Conference. The leaders of France and Germany promptly made it clear that the four years of the Trump presidency had changed the relationship.

France’s President Emmanuel Macron renewed his call for Europe’s “strategic autonomy,” which would require the Continent to be prepared to defend itself. Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel bluntly stated that the interests of the U.S. and Europe wouldn’t always converge, which most listeners took as a reference to the European Union’s recent trade pact with China, along with Germany’s determination to complete the Nord Stream 2 natural-gas pipeline from Russia. The U.S. may be back, but it can’t expect to reclaim its old seat at the head of the table.

As for Europe’s ability to defend itself, that must be a joke. Surely, Trump was right to see Europe as a bunch of freeloaders, living comfortably under the American military umbrella, while doing business with Russia and Iran. As I have often noted, if the EU wants to be treated like an ally, it should act like an ally. If the EU has now figured out that it cannot continue freeloading off of America, that is not necessarily a bad thing.

Galston continues that Europeans have lost faith in America because they believe that China will soon surpass America as the world’s leading nation:

Underlying the muted response to Mr. Biden’s speech is what the European Council on Foreign Relations calls a “massive change” in European public opinion toward the U.S. The group’s recent poll finds: “Majorities in key member states now think the US political system is broken, that China will be more powerful than the US within a decade, and that Europeans cannot rely on the US to defend them.”

Of course, this suggests that the Europeans are hedging their bets. If America remains disunited, because political leaders would rather dramatize than govern, would rather burn down cities than build industries, they might be correct.

These beliefs are driving fundamental changes in European policy preferences. “Large numbers think Europeans should invest in their own defense,” the poll found, “and look to Berlin rather than Washington as their most important partner. They want to be tougher with the US on economic issues. And, rather than aligning with Washington, they want their countries to stay neutral in a conflict between the US and Russia or China”—a stance endorsed by at least half the electorate in each of the 11 countries surveyed.

He continues:

Sixty-one percent of Europeans believe that the U.S. political system is “broken.” This figure includes 66% of the French, 71% of Germans and, remarkably, 81% of British respondents. In a such a system, gridlock and drift are the most likely outcomes.

In Europe’s eyes, America’s decline coincides with China’s rise. Fifty-nine percent of Europeans—including 56% of Germans, 58% of the British, and 62% of the French—believe that within 10 years, China will displace the U.S. as the world’s leading power. This helps explain why in case of disagreement between the U.S. and China, 60% of Europeans believe that their country should remain neutral, compared with 22% who say that they should take America’s side.

They see America as weak and decadent, which means that it is becoming more like Europe. As it happened Donald Trump wanted to reassert American strength-- and where did that get him? Trump might not have done a very good job at it, but at least he saw the problem.

As perceptions of America’s weakness mount, more Europeans are starting to favor being tougher on the U.S. on economic issues. These Europeans resist American pressure to distance themselves from China, which they regard as an important trading partner, and they will be in no rush to renegotiate their trade relationships with the U.S. “America First” has triggered a reaction—Europe First.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Should We Ban Grand Theft Auto?

As America descends into a state of permanent stupidity, one Illinois representative deserves mention for accelerating the decline. His name is Marcus Evans. 

As law professor Jonathan Turley explains, seeing that the city of Chicago is being overwhelmed by crime, not just homicide, but also auto theft, Evans believes that we can address the problem by banning a video game called-- Grand Theft Auto.

No kidding.

Turley explains:

My home city of Chicago continues to reel from soaring crime rates. Among the categories of increasing crime is a 135% spike in carjackings. 

One would think that the legislators would be focused on better policing and other programs. Rep. Marcus Evans Jr. (D, Chicago) however wants to ban video games like “Grand Theft Auto” which depict “motor vehicle theft with a driver or passenger present.”

While it would not likely make a dent in carjackings, it would curtail free speech and individual choice.

What is the state of auto theft in Chicago? Turley explains:

Cars are stripped on city streets by gangs that drive around harvesting sellable items or just stealing entire cars. The solution for many is to simply not have a car.

Why is this happening? Surely, not because the thieves have seen too many video games. Turley suggests that the problem is insufficient deterrence:

Carjacking is increasing because there is insufficient deterrent. It is treated as an exciting exercise or thrill by young people. Eliminating GTA will have about as much impact on carjacking as eliminating Call of Duty will reduce world wars or banning Minecraft will decrease structure-destroying “mobs.”

This sounds idiotic, but, keep in mind, we live in a world where everyone thinks that destroying a statue of Abraham Lincoln will cause black children to do better at math.

Turley suggests that the legislators want to appear to be doing something, while they are doing nothing:

What such bills accomplish is not crime reduction but political protection. It gives the appearance of action from legislators who do not want to take more decisive or direct action. It is easier to blame a video game than state or city enforcement policies.

To put it more blatantly, they refuse to hold the thieves responsible for their actions, and are happy to shift the blame to the video game manufacturers. It’s all about exonerating thieves for their thievery.

The Case against Public Sector Unions

At last count approximately 8% of private sector workers are unionized. Obviously, one of the reasons that companies offshore their jobs is that they would rather not need to deal with unions. Clearly, many factories locate to states where workers are not forced to unionize. At the least, unions do not contribute to economic efficiency.

In fact, most of America’s union members work for federal, state or local government. 

Philip K. Howard explains how labor unions are damaging the country, up to and including the teachers’ unions, who have single-handedly shut down schools, damaged children’s minds and destroyed career opportunities for working mothers. (via Maggie's Farm.)

As it happens, these unions run the Democratic Party, so the fearful leaders of that party, while intoning how much they are supporting women and children, are acquiescing. Even the new administration has fallen prostrate before the teachers’ unions-- important donors that they are. While children’s education is being compromised, something that might well produce lasting damaged, the president’s wife, one Dr. Jill Biden has remained silent. One understands that Dr. Jill is not cognitively impaired, but she is certainly not very bright. Getting a degree in education and teaching at a community college puts you at the bottom of the academic hierarchy.

So, Howard offers an instance where police unions have damaged the nation. Why did it happen that one Derek Chauvin, currently under indictment for murdering George Floyd, had a job?

Howard explains:

But Chauvin should not have been on the job, and he likely would have been terminated or taken off the streets if police supervisors in Minneapolis had the authority to make judgments about unsuitable officers. Chauvin had 18 complaints filed against him and a reputation for being “tightly wound,” not a good trait for someone carrying a loaded gun. 

Why was he on the job?

But police union contracts make it very difficult to terminate officers. Out of 2,600 complaints against police in Minneapolis since 2012, only 12 resulted in any sort of discipline and no officers were terminated. A 2017 report on police abuse nationwide revealed that union contracts make it extremely difficult to remove officers with a repeated history of abuse. 

And then there are the teachers’ unions. Thanks to their contracts it is nearly impossible to dismiss any substandard teacher:

Teachers unions wield similar power. Dismissing a teacher, as one school superintendent told me, is not a process, it’s a career. California ranks near the bottom in school quality but is able to dismiss only two out of 300,000 teachers in a typical year.

These unions have used their power to damage children, to damage working mothers and to damage the American economy. But, they contribute mightily to the Democratic Party, so, they get a pass:

Because of COVID-19, teachers unions have adamantly refused to allow teachers to return to work for a year, harming millions of students. 

Because many parents can’t work if children are not in school, teachers unions are also impeding our ability to reopen the economy.

Non-unionized schools have opened, as have schools in other countries. The CDC says that it’s alright to reopen schools. Yet, the unions would rather go on strike to extort higher salaries. They do not care what happens to children, especially the poor children who cannot participate in remote learning.

Yet most parochial and private schools in the U.S. have reopened, without serious consequences, as have schools in Europe. It is safe to reopen schools, according to the Centers for Disease Control, as long as teachers and students follow certain protocols. Unions now say they’ll put a toe in the water, starting in the Spring, when another school year is almost over.   

It was not always thus:

How did public employee unions turn into public enemies? Until the 1960s, collective bargaining was not lawful in government — it’s hardly in the public interest to give public employees power to negotiate against the public interest.   

As President Franklin Roosevelt put it:  “The process of collective bargaining… cannot be transplanted into the public service…. To prevent or obstruct the operations of Government …. by those who have sworn to support it, is unthinkable and intolerable.” 

It is a small consolation to know that FDR was right.

Our Cognitively Compromised President

It will not come as news to most of you, but the American media has been engaged in a massive cover-up. No, I am not talking about the work of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the Lord High Executioner of the Coronavirus. And I am not even talking about the accusations of sexual harassment just leveled at him.

No, the more important cover-up concerns the media’s efforts to portray President Biden as cognitively competent. Everyone knows that Biden is suffering from senile dementia. We have reported on this again and again on this blog. Now, foreign nations are noticing. They are probably seeing it as a sign that America is a declining power led by a declining man.

Lawrence Person reports on it on his Battleswarm blog:

Australian Sky News host Cory Bernardi addresses the elephant in the room the U.S. media won’t:

Never Before Has The Leader Of The Free World Been So Cognitively Compromised

U.S. President Joe Biden is struggling with dementia, and is clearly not up to the task he was sworn in to do.

It’s not his fault, but he did run for office knowing that the decline in his capacity was accelerating. And so did the media. And so did the Democratic Party, yet they all chose to cover it up, just like many of them sought to cover up the Hunter Biden laptop and cash for access scandals.


Wednesday, February 24, 2021

The Problems with Diversity Quotas

Two decades ago Shelby Steele exposed the flaw in diversity programs. He explained that affirmative action college admissions programs inevitably created the assumption that all minority group entrants had not earned their place, because they had not been judged according to the same standards as others. Thus, thanks to affirmative action the achievements of those who could have gained entry on merit are diminished.

One imagines that the same rule applies to people who might have been hired by companies in order to fill diversity quotas. The more we talk about diversity the more everyone will assume that those who might have been hired or promoted to fill a quota did not earn their way. If they might not have earned their way, they will not receive the respect that someone else would have received for gaining a position. When it comes to managerial ability, if you are not respected, because you might have been hired to fill a quota, you will find it far more difficult to do the job. Those who feel that they were passed over for being of the wrong skin color or gender will resent you and will be disinclined to cooperate with you.

In some part, these programs have failed the people they were designed to help. Appearing to rig the system in favor of one or another group does not advance anyone’s career prospects. 

Given the problems posed by these programs, the American corporate world is now going to up its diversity hires. As the old song went: When will they ever learn?

Steele’s argument was the best critique of diversity programs. Naturally, it has been largely ignored.

Now, since America’s universities have largely failed to promote racial equity through affirmative action programs, they have chosen to double down on diversity. They are now going to ignore standardized test scores-- one of the best predictors of academic and career success-- and are going to admit students to fill diversity quotas. As we have remarked in the past, this will undoubtedly divide the student body, into the Asian and white students who gravitate toward STEM subjects, and the rest.

Now, Steve Hanke and Stephen Walters have offered a compelling analysis on the downside of diversity quotas in college admissions. They perform something like a market based analysis of what happens to universities when they try systematically to dumb down their student bodies.

They begin by pointing out that the current use of diversity discriminates against Asian students. It downgrades their achievements and excludes them from universities where they could have excelled. In the end this diminishes the value of everyone's diploma.

The authors write:

America’s top colleges trumpet their commitment to racial equity, but if you’re a hard-working, high-achieving Asian-American student, you’re probably vexed about the discrimination you face when applying to many colleges. One 2009 study of ten elite schools found that, after controlling for key observable attributes of applicants, Asian-American SAT scores (on a scale of 1600) had to be 140 points higher than those of white applicants and 450 points higher than those of African-American applicants to have the same chances of acceptance. More recently, a careful study of Harvard’s admissions record (employing richer data on applicants’ characteristics) found that Asian-Americans were 19 percent less likely to be accepted than similarly qualified whites.

The result will be that better students will attend other universities, and will enhance the reputations of those schools. This is what happened when Ivy League universities decided to discriminate against Jews in the twenties and thirties:

Between the World Wars, many Ivy League schools employed rigid admissions quotas. A Yale medical school dean once decreed “never admit more than five Jews . . . two Italian Catholics . . . no blacks at all.” Harvard devised an admissions process (stressing “geographic diversity” and “character”) that reduced its Jewish enrollment from 25 percent to about 10 percent by the ’30s.

But as excluded Jewish students and faculty gravitated to rival schools and enhanced their prestige, some of the gentlemen in academe took note. Brandeis University, founded in 1948 to become the “Harvard of the Jews,” attracted stars such as Leonard Bernstein and Herbert Marcuse to its faculty. As it and other competitors rose, Harvard and other Ivies were forced to reverse course. Today, Jews represent less than 3 percent of the nation’s population but staff 9 percent of university faculties and 17 percent of those at top-ranked institutions.

They cite the example of Caltech, a school that does not use affirmative action quotas, and that has therefore advanced in college rankings. Not only that, hiring officers are now showing preference for Caltech over many Ivy League schools.

Several years ago I read a Wall Street Journal survey of corporate recruiters. Asked to name their preferred universities, they listed first-- Penn State, Texas Tech and the University of Illinois at Urbana. The top Ivy League school, Cornell, was not in the top ten.

Anyway, Hanke and Walters explain their thesis:

A prime example is the California Institute of Technology, which is highly meritocratic in its admissions policies. As Asian-Americans have encountered admissions barriers at other elite schools, they now are 43 percent of Caltech’s student body. But Caltech’s failure to pursue demographic “balance” hasn’t harmed its international reputation: The Times Higher Education’s 2020 rankings rated it second in the world — ahead of Harvard (seventh) and every other Ivy. A decade ago, Harvard and Caltech were ranked first and second respectively. Employers have caught on: According to PayScale, early career earnings for alumni of Caltech exceed those for Harvard by 16 percent.

Some Ivy League schools have seen the writing on the wall. Despite not being forced to do so by law, they are increasing their quota of Asian students:

Though Princeton was victorious in its 2015 discrimination case, its Class of ’24 is 25 percent Asian-American, up from 14 percent a little over a decade ago — and it has moved ahead of Harvard to sixth in the world rankings. Whether because of competitive or legal pressure, Harvard’s admission rate of Asians has trended upward recently, and at a sharp pace. Some 25 percent of the class of 2023 is Asian-American; Yale’s Asian-American enrollment is up from 10 percent to 17 percent, and it is up from tenth a decade ago. Outside the Ivy League, at schools such as Duke, Rice, Carnegie-Mellon, and Georgia Tech, proportions of Asian-American students exceed 20 percent and have increased by at least five percentage points in the last decade. It is easy to think that other rivals will join right in.

And yet, today's thrust toward idiot theories of racial equity might very well hamper these efforts. Unless, that is, the schools decide to grant more minority applicants admission at the expense of white students.

Since white parents seem committed to racial equity they will apparently take this form of racial discrimination lying down. As you know, the only group of parents in America that are fighting back against critical race theory are-- Asian. They are not going to sacrifice their children's education on the altar of some stupid idea.

The authors conclude on an optimistic note:

That’s the way markets work to penalize bias and reward virtue: Schools that become excessively devoted to identity politics and underweight merit will find their competition gaining on them. Rankings will shift and applicant enthusiasm and alumni support will wax or wane accordingly. In response, all are likely to do a better job shedding their biases — or those that do not will struggle until they see the error of their ways.