Archive for May 2014

Billionaire Bloomberg Makes Sense

Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg spoke to Harvard students yesterday morning and warned the university body of the dangers of intolerance towards non-liberal viewpoints.

 

In the 1950s, the right wing was attempting to repress left wing ideas. Today, on many college campuses, it is liberals trying to repress conservative ideas even as conservative faculty members are at risk of becoming an endangered species. And that is probably nowhere more true than it is here in the Ivy League. In the 2012 presidential race, according to Federal Election Commission data, 96% of all campaign contributions from Ivy League faculty and employees went to Barack Obama. 96%. There was more disagreement among the old Soviet politburo than there is among Ivy League donors

 

What boring places universities must be. When I attended I enjoyed the rhetoric and arguments of all sides and changed my opinion as often as Madonna changed her look. But even back then in the 80’s the shift was towards the hard Left and the right was withering. Eventually by the time I graduated the only challenges to the ruling liberal orthodoxy were found in the campus humor newspaper, and after attempts to ban it failed it was often “disappeared” from newspaper boxes.

That was 25 years ago. I can only imagine what it’s like there today.

The Council Has Spoken: May 30, 2014

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Guess I Am Racist Too

Allison Pearson writing for the Daily Telegraph lays out the end result of political correctness run amok in her piece, Are We All Racists Now. She starts with a conversation between her children, her mother and herself when  her kids call her mother “racist” for using the term “negro spiritual.”

“Grandma is not racist…“Heinrich Himmler is a racist. Grandma, not so much.”

“Who’s Henry Himmer?”

“Heinrich HIMMLER was a foul, Jew-exterminating, Nazi fiend whom your grandmother’s parents and their whole generation fought a world war to defeat in order that she could sit here 70 years later and be called racist by her sanctimonious and ungrateful grandchildren. Anyone for crumble?”

She then takes on the rising tide of the European Right which makes me wonder whether Great Britain’s experience be the future of America’s.

As shell-shocked politicians from the main parties struggle to discern the causes of Ukip’s deafening electoral success, here’s a tip: look in the mirror, chaps! It is politicians, not the British people, who are to blame for a resurgence in racism; politicians who have ignored public opinion and created the conditions in which resentments fester and grow. Specifically, though not exclusively, it is New Labour who welcomed workers from the new, accession countries of the EU at a time when countries such as France and Germany wisely exercised their right to keep them out for another seven years. According to Jack Straw, this was a “spectacular” error. And Jack should know, because he was Home Secretary at the time. The plan of Tony Blair’s government, as laid bare by Andrew Neather, then a Blair speechwriter, was to banish that old, hideously white, retrograde England and usher in a new, vibrant, multicultural country which, rather conveniently, would vote Labour. Mr Blair now works in international conflict resolution, having stored up enough conflict in his homeland to keep future generations busy for centuries.

America appears to be on the cusp of granting millions citizenship. The government is scrambling to care for tens of thousands of children crossing illegally into the US apparently in the hope of being granted citizenship. Pearson suggests that the elites in Europe have lost touch with the common people, and that the common people are beginning to revolt. And the Democrats and their Republican allies aren’t ready for it.

The Democrats see the demographics of the immigrants and become positively giddy. These immigrants aren’t coming from libertarian meccas like Switzerland. They are coming from collectivist societies where they were taken care of by the government so they’re expected to vote Democrat, although if that worked so well, why are they leaving? Big labor sees more dues paying members in the few remaining private sector unions.  The GOP supporters are in the pockets of big business. They see the world in purely supply and demand terms. By boosting the supply of workers the cost of labor will go down, which is just peachy for businesses that employ lots of low-skilled labor in the food processing, service and manufacturing industries.

Because of the demographics in my area, I tend to associate with some very decent people from humble circumstances. These people will be directly impacted by the immigrants. They will compete directly with them for jobs and will have to suffer lower wages as a result of the increased supply of labor. At the same time their taxes will go up to pay for the increased services consumed by the newcomers. Now imagine a situation where America was flooded by lawyers, businessmen and wealthy immigrants. The price of attorneys and salaries of company leaders would tumble, while at the same time the costs of beach homes in the Outer Banks and prime properties in the Hamptons and Cape Cod would skyrocket. One wonders whether the elites would brand themselves as “racist” for questioning the flood of immigrants as those on the Right here and in Europe have been.

Such a wave of high-skilled, wealthy immigrants isn’t possible. The door has always been open for those, and there simply is fewer of those than there are low-skilled and unskilled poor people in the world. But it would be nice if the elites experienced life as an ordinary citizen or even TRIED to imagine life. I suppose it’s much easier to turn them into non-entities, vaporizing them in a flash from their thoughts with the term “racist.”

Council Nominations: May 28, 2014

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Man Goes on Killing Spree – No One Surprised Except His Victims

Yet another psychopathic murderous rampage becomes a Rorschach Test for the Left or a chance to score cheap political points depending on your point of view as a 22 year old hyphenated American male goes on a rampage. This time a Washington Post film critic is under fire from white males in Hollywood for blaming white male culture in Hollywood for Elliot Rodger’s rampage. A victim’s father has already criticized the NRA, and even an aunt of Rodger living in France told the Daily Telegraph, “He was always a disturbed child. I don’t know how he was allowed to get a gun. Something has to be done about gun laws in America.” No word from aunty on how the 2nd Amendment is to blame for the three men he stabbed to death.

In therapy since the age of 8, Elliot Rodger was a broken human being. In that respect he is no different from any other run-of-the-mill psychopaths who’ve killed their way into the newspaper headlines. But instead of blaming guns, or “white male culture” in Hollywood, or video games, how about blaming Elliot Rodger?

If we can’t do that, then perhaps we should consider other responsible parties. Face it we all know broken human beings of one sort or another. Chances are none of them have done anything even remotely threatening to another human being, and those that have we have a responsibility as a friend and loved one to make sure they receive the care they need. But our responsibility doesn’t stop there. We also have a responsibility to Society at large to protect innocents.

If Elliot Rodger was as screwed up as reports suggest, and given the creepy photography of his dad’s that alone is enough to cause issues, there is no reason why that man should have been allowed to walk free. Decades ago he would have been locked up for his – and Society’s – own good. Clearly no one, including his parents, his therapists and even his aunty in France, was surprised by his outburst. So why wasn’t he institutionalized?

Instead of blaming violent video games or guns, isn’t it time we refocus on the psychopath and the family that supported him? As a parent I sympathize with all the parents shattered by this man’s actions, but I also recognize my own responsibility to both my son and the Society I am part of to make sure the former doesn’t grow into a psychopath that wantonly murders. Roger’s family failed in both responsibilities, and while aunty blames others I hold her at least partly to blame for Roger’s actions.

And we as a society need to rethink our involuntary commitment laws. As a libertarian I am extremely hesitant to give the government this power, but would welcome it in the hands of family members and medical professionals. Current laws make it almost impossible for either to put someone into protective custody, and I’ve experienced this difficulty first hand as my family tried to commit a relative against her will. She’s dead now and luckily she didn’t take anyone out with her, but there’s a very good chance she would be alive today had we had the ability to keep her off the streets.

It seems that we’re passed the days of John Wayne Gacy or Jeffrey Dahmer types who surprised their neighbors with their depravity. Instead we have people we clearly recognize as threats to themselves and others, but current laws make it all but impossible to confine them to mental hospitals where they can get the care they need while protecting society from their demons. If we want to learn any lessons from Elliot Rodger’s killing spree, we can start with that.

Update: Police were evidently aware of Roger’s disturbing Youtube videos when they conducted a welfare check on him.

Dear Twitter Users

The vast majority of you who aren’t robots aren’t that interesting. The minority who are interesting aren’t as interesting as you think. Only a tiny sliver of that minority have something to say that is interesting or funny all the time, and the rest of that minority should close their accounts to avoid saying something that proves they are more ignorant than we are.

On Kirsten Powers

Recently a very good friend of mine asked me about some statements I’ve made about Kirsten Powers’s conversion to evangelical Christianity. I enjoyed her role as the lone lefty Special Report with Bret Baier on Fox News. I’ve always found that position to be a tough one and tend to respect the liberal who is willing to sit there (I’m also a fan of Juan Williams who has appeared there numerous times).

I do like Powers, particularly for her work on the Kermit Gosnell case. Although I am both pro-choice and pro-life (it’s not as untenable a position as either side thinks) I found the MSM’s avoidance of reporting on the case typical. Powers’s reporting was necessary and must have been tough for her, and I wonder if her experience sitting in the courtroom and seeing pictures and video of Gosnell’s atrocities played a role in her conversion.

As I’ve grown older I’ve tended to avoid images of brutality. When I was younger I could stomach the horrors of concentration camp movie reel footage, but now when I happen upon these images today I simply lack the stomach for it. I feel that because of my past exposure I don’t need to see such imagery again. I haven’t forgotten the suffering of the Holocaust, and it shows through my unwavering support of Israel and the Jewish people. Yesterday I caught Nazi newsreel footage of Jews being herded into cattle cars, then their processing upon arrival in the concentration camps, cans of zyklon B, a still smouldering skeleton in a crematorium. I cannot learn anything more from these images except to deeply despise idiots like Toure Neblet for suggesting the Jews survived the concentration camps and came to the US because of the  “power of whiteness.”

As for Christianity,  I’m still an agnostic on my best days, atheist on my worst. But I do not share the Left’s animus against Christianity, especially considering the latitude it gives Islam. Only the Left’s rejection of Christianity can explain its alliance with political Islam, a religion that has no divide between church and state, treats women poorly and executes homosexuals, though I am somewhat encouraged by the Left’s boycott of the Beverly Hills Hotel.

But I am still what the Jesuits educated me to be: suspicious of organized religion of all types just some more than others. Boko Haram, Islamic Jihad, Hamas, Al-Qaeda. These are not Christian outfits, and the best the Left can come up with is Westboro Baptist Church – which hasn’t exploded any airplanes, thrown grenades in any markets, or fired any missiles. When evangelical Christians start kidnapping girls and firing rockets into Israel, perhaps I’ll reconsider my view that they are relatively harmless.

The Council Has Spoken: May 23, 2014

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PJ O’Rourke’s Commencement Speech to Rutgers Students

To say that O’Rourke eviscerates the Rutgers student body and professors who forced Condoleeza Rice to cancel her speech does a disservice to these students by forcing them to Google the word “eviscerate.” And perhaps “disservice” too. Either way I’m sure his speech would warrant trigger warnings.

Welcome to Generation Powder Puff.

Council Nominations: May 21, 2014

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The Council Has Spoken: May 16, 2014

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No Sympathy for Fast Food Worker Strike Here

Today fast food workers are striking in several US cities according to USA Today. “Naquasia LeGrand, 22, of Brooklyn, says this was her sixth strike since 2012… “These corporations are taking everything from us. They are making all this money.”

Like many Americans I have worked jobs for minimum wage, and once was held up at gun point for the trouble. But also like many Americans, I got an education and developed skills that were worth much more to an employer than minimum wage. And even as I approach the mid-century mark I’m still learning. I recently added a skill to my resume that should make me even more attractive to potential employers in the future.

If Ms. LeGrand used the time she spent on striking (6 strikes in 2 years? I doubt UAW workers struck that much back in the ‘70s) to learn marketable skills instead of striking she wouldn’t have to worry about the government setting her wage; she would be able to set her own.

And that brings up a second point. Ms. LeGrand and her striking comrades betray a failure to grasp basic economics when they say corporations are “making all this money.” According to Entrepreneur less than half of food franchise earn profits of more than $50,000 per year. This may sound like a lot to someone earning minimum wage, but it’s not when you factor in start up costs of $500,000 to $1,000,000. To get that start up capital fast food franchisees often cash in their 401ks and borrow against their homes. If their store goes bust it’s not Subway or McDonalds who loses their retirement nest eggs and homes. Risking financial ruin for $50k a year doesn’t seem worth it to me, especially when considering the long hours franchise owners put in often working for free.

There’s something wrong with making a career out of minimum wage jobs. These jobs are meant to be a starting point in one’s working life and provide supplemental income for those who have retired and want to remain active. They provide flexible hours that students and retirees need but those in their working prime don’t, and teach basic skills like customer service and basic professionalism that are needed in better paying jobs. Unionizing might appeal to union bosses whose salaries come out of the checks of workers, but it shouldn’t to anyone who wears a name tag and says “Would you like to supersize that?” as part of their job.

Update: Some in favor of  raising the minimum wage point out the average age of a minimum wage earner is 35, and 36% are 40 or over. What they don’t say is the number of retirees making the wage, which would skew the average age upward, nor do they state the median age of a minimum wage worker. Another useful statistic would be the average length of time these older workers spend earning minimum wage.

We are not a feudal society. There is social mobility between classes. Instead of providing anecdotal evidence of 35 year old mothers of 4 making minimum wage they should determine why these people are making minimum wages in the first place. If they are stuck earning minimum wage, figure out why. Do they lack education? Adequate child care? Are they recovering from addictions or returning to society after being imprisoned?

If we as a society want to improve the lot of the working poor, we shouldn’t be flooding the market with low-skilled immigrants who compete for the jobs of American citizens and keep wages low. Yet the very same voices calling for a higher minimum wage are the ones calling for amnesty for illegal immigrants.

 

Inteview with Mel Brooks Discussing Blazing Saddles

I agree with Mr. Brooks that it’s the funniest movie ever. It’s twue!

Read the interview.

Council Nominations: May 14, 2014

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Prom Night Thoughts

Here’s something to add to the list of things no one has ever said, “Parenting sure is easy.” It never ceases to amaze me when I look at families and see children being reared in the same environment by the same people who turn out so different. My family was like that, as was the wife’s. And though I believe I have been a bad father in many ways, the Kid stretches his wings and catches the sunlight and I see glints of the man he can become as he dons his prom night tuxedo. It almost seems that my failures as a father don’t really matter, that if I replayed the tape and re-did my role knowing what I know now, things would not be all that different for the Kid. And for that I’m grateful.

Peter Lanza was not as lucky as I was. His son transformed into the monster that murdered children and their teachers at Sandy Hook. The New Yorker has a well-written article about the father of the monster, and even with 20-20 hindsight there is nothing that I find that I can condemn him for. Sure he made mistakes. He worked too much and pretty much left his ex-wife to manage their son’s brief, imploding life. Yet the same two people raised an older son successfully, and much of what both he and his ex-wife did others have done with varying degrees of success. Adam Lanza didn’t have the tormented childhood that other psychopaths have. No, his demons were all built into him, born with him.

His father states calmly that he wishes Adam had never been born. That is what we as human beings need him to say to prove that he is one of us, but for a father to say and mean it is itself a tragedy. I truly pity him, his ex-wife and their surviving son. It’s almost as if there are two dice throws when a child is born: one for the child and one for the parents. A child may achieve greatness or infamy regardless of his upbringing, while parents may be the best or worst and still raise high-achieving children regardless.

Perhaps these are the lies a poor father tells himself when he looks at his grown son and realizes that there’s no way to fix the mistakes, that all the time that laid ahead to remedy them has gone, evaporating into the air like a hot breath on a cold windless night.