Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Year The Politically Correct Chickens Came Home To Roost

The Federalist ^ | January 4, 2016 | Robert Tracinsky 

In last year’s roundup of the top stories of the year, I argued that 2014 was the year we were all drafted into the culture wars. “This is the year when we were served noticed that we won’t be allowed to stand on the sidelines, because we will not be allowed to think differently from the left.” The signature story of the year was the comet shirt guy, a mild-mannered scientist caught wearing the wrong shirt on television. That case served notice that “To be targeted by accusations of misogyny, you don’t have to be a beer-chugging ‘bro’ who spends his Spring break judging wet T-shirt contests. Now they’re coming after the geeks and yes, even the hipsters.”
Everyone is a combatant in the Great Social Justice War.

This past year saw some interesting follow-ups to that story, including a rebellion among science fiction fans, who upset the Hugo Awards in a briefly effective counterattack against political correctness, only to be repulsed when the leftist establishment decided it had to burn down the Hugos in order to save them.
But the big new development in 2015 is that the left’s culture war came back to attack the very institutions that hatched it.
The left’s culture war has come back to attack the very institutions that hatched it.
Early in the year, I remarked on the irony of leftist writer Jonathan Chait whining about political orrectness. He is absolutely right about the stultifying, totalitarian nature of the demands for conformity and the injustice of accusing people of racism merely for saying something you don’t like. But the system he’s complaining about is one he helped bring into existence and which he has used to smear his opponents as racists.
So you can see Chait’s dismay at seeing good white “liberals” have their Not Racist credentials challenged by those who are farther out on the left. Don’t they know how the system is supposed to work? Appeals to race, class, and gender are supposed to be used to grant moral authority to (mostly) white, male, heterosexual, “cis-gendered” folks like himself, no questions asked. He is not supposed to find himself on the receiving end and have his moral authority threatened by a bunch of uppity non-binary POCs….

In short, the mainstream left wanted to have its racial politics and not get eaten by it, too. But once a system is in place and its basic principles are established, it tends to keep operating to the logical end point of those principles. And the logical end point is exactly what Chait is whining about: Binary Persons Without Color on the left now face being summarily labeled and dismissed as bigots -- the very same treatment they have so eagerly applied to the right for so many years.
The chickens have really come home to roost on college campuses.
This new round of political correctness has also turned on the Democratic Party. In July, they began to expunge two key founders of the party: Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson. But as I pointed out, by the same reasoning hardly any Democratic Party icon would be safe, counting down everyone from Woodrow Wilson to Jimmy Carter. And one part was prophetic: students at Princeton University are now demanding that the school expunge its revered former leader Woodrow Wilson.
That’s where the chickens have really come home to roost this year: on college campuses.
In the middle of the year, I ticked down a list of old-fashioned “liberal” pieties that have long since been abandoned by the left. This includes the value of a liberal education.
The “liberal arts” did not originally refer to a political leaning. The phrase referred to the kind of education in the humanities that was considered appropriate for a free man. But the mid-20th-century political liberals embraced a liberal education and regarded the liberal arts departments of the universities as their natural home. Young people were encouraged to get a liberal arts education to open their minds and broaden their horizons, requiring them to understand the great historical debates and confront unfamiliar ideas.

It all seems so hopelessly antique. There is a debate currently going on about whether a liberal education is worthwhile, and whether anyone should bother to get one any more. But the wider context for this debate is that the liberals are the ones killing liberal education.

They’re killing it economically by means of the Paradox of Subsidies -- the decades of subsidized student loans that have made a college education so outrageously expensive, and leaves young people with such enormous piles of debt, that most students can’t afford to dabble in any field that doesn’t promise an immediate economic payoff.

But they’ve also killed it off by stamping out all of the challenging and unfamiliar ideas. This started in the 1990s when students protested for the elimination of courses in Western Civilization, on the grounds that being asked to think about great ideas produced by “dead white European males” is racist. Today, this closed-mindedness has become a full-blown system, with “trigger warnings” and “safe spaces” designed to quarantine students from contact with uncomfortable ideas. As one student explained to a reporter, she needed to seek the isolation of a safe space because, “I was feeling bombarded by a lot of viewpoints that really go against my dearly and closely held beliefs.” Way back when, liberals told us that this was the whole purpose of college. Then they built a system that was intended to prevent precisely such encounters. It’s almost as if they never really meant it -- as if they meant that you were only supposed to encounter ideas that challenge the beliefs of the right, not ideas that challenge the dearly held beliefs of the left.
It is on campus that the left has created a quasi-totalitarian system of social conformity -- as the base from which they have tried to impose those rules on everyone.
One of the examples this year is the war on comedy, in which even revered figures like Jerry Seinfeld are taken to task for making politically incorrect jokes, lest anyone become amused inappropriately. For this reason, Seinfeld says he won’t perform at college campuses. But it’s no use, because the campus will come to him.
Those utopias of multicultural tolerance are now accused of ‘systemic racism.’
But the universities can’t escape having the same quasi-totalitarian system imposed on themselves, and that’s what came to a head this fall at the University of Missouri, Yale, and Claremont McKenna College -- with many other campus activists itching to get in on the revolution. The universities, those utopias of multicultural tolerance, have found themselves accused of being shot through with “systemic racism,” and protesters have demanded the firing of administrators, all the way up to the presidents of universities, for such crimes as daring to question the Halloween Costume Inquisition.
All of which is a mortal danger the universities have created for themselves.
This is higher ed’s time for choosing. If this is the new purpose of the universities -- to nurture a crop of activists trained at whipping up angry mobs, and a generation of college graduates conditioned to submit to those mobs --then there is no longer any purpose served by these institutions. There is certainly no justification for the outrageous claim they are making on the economic resources of the average family, which sends their kids to schools whose tuition has been inflated by decades of government subsidies.

The universities have done this to themselves. They created the whole phenomenon of modern identity politics and Politically Correct rules to limit speech. They have fostered a totalitarian microculture in which conformity to those rules is considered natural and expected. Now that system is starting to eat them alive, from elite universities like Yale to Mizzou and on down.
And if they don’t fight back, they are facing the steamroller of university office politics.
Everyone who has ever spent time around a university or with academics knows that beneath all the high-flown ivory tower stuff, there is a constant scramble for money and authority. Every department’s job is to expand itself, to hire more faculty and administrators, to expand its budget, to get bigger offices in a nicer building. Now the “social justice” faction among the faculty has found a way to club everyone else into submission and win departmental office politics once and for all. Accuse the university of systemic racism, force its nominal leaders into groveling apologies, and then dictate terms to the rest of the system. Emboldened and seeing that no one wants to stand up to them, they’re even attempting to take over every other department of the university by foisting mandatory courses in “social justice” on the math department.

So what looks from the outside like a student protest movement looks on the inside like an administrative coup by a small faction of the faculty, using naive and ill-informed students as their shock troops.
It’s almost as if this were a pitched battle over money and power, after all.
But there is a much deeper sense in which the campus protesters are pawns of their professors. That figure of speech about chickens and roosts is one that I borrowed from Ayn Rand, who used it about 50 years ago to describe the first round of leftist campus protests and to make the point that the student “rebels” were just dutifully parroting the ideas of their elders. Taking a cue from her -- and from presidential candidate Marco Rubio -- I argued that we can blame the philosophers.
[T]here is a reason the field of philosophy has fallen so far into disrepute that it has become the butt of presidential debates. It ends with the current campus insanity, but it begins with that scoundrel Immanuel Kant….

At the heart of Kant’s system, there is a radical skepticism: perception is inherently distorting, so there is no indisputable reality we have access to. There’s only the truth as it appears to you, filtered through your own consciousness…. [T]here is no truth, only people’s perception -- well, I think you can begin to see how we get to Yale, Mizzou, and the current grievance culture….

We had to add racial differences to the things that distort our perception, then we had to accommodate the feminists (and the LGBTQ) by adding gender, until we got to the modern (or postmodern) holy trinity of “race, class, and gender.” But the key Kantian assumption remains: that there is no universal truth, just your “perspective,” as a trans person of color or a left-handed lesbian tugboat worker, or whatever. And no one else is entitled to question your perspective. It’s true because it’s true for you. If you are aggrieved, the very fact of your grievance validates itself.

If that’s the case, what’s the point of discussing any of it? It’s not for others to question or for you to explain. You just scream out your rage and frustration, and they have to cave….

This is the universities expressing the final, consistent form of their own ruling philosophy.
There are two centuries of chickens coming home to roost, because that’s how long ago academic intellectuals began toying with the idea that ideas don’t matter and everything is just a raw power struggle.
PC may seem irresistibly strong, but that masks weakness.
But while the new political correctness may seem irresistibly strong -- at least when it is employed against soft targets like university administrators -- that masks an underlying weakness, what I called the Paradox of Dogma: “If you try to shut down public debate, is this a way of ensuring that you win -- or an admission that you have already lost?”
If I were to come up with one idea for how the left could cripple itself over the long term, it would be: teach your young adherents that ideological debate is an abnormal trauma and that it is a terrible imposition to ever expect them to engage in it. It is a great way of raising a generation of mental cripples. And that is exactly what they have set out to do….

The most powerful historical precedent for this is the totalitarian creed of the Soviet Union -- a dogma imposed, not just by campus censors or a Twitter mob, but by gulags and secret police. Yet one of the lessons of the Soviet collapse is that the ideological uniformity of a dictatorship seems totally solid and impenetrable — right up to the moment it cracks apart. The imposition of dogma succeeds in getting everyone to mouth the right slogans, even as fewer and fewer of them understand or believe the ideology behind it.
And that brings us back to a question I started the year with: have we reached Peak Leftism?
[I]ts very dominance of cultural institutions means that the left is up against a couple of big unfavorable factors…. [W]hat happens if our culture reverts to the mean? Even a small change in that direction would be experienced as a massive cultural swing to the right.

When a field swings back from 95-5 dominance to just an 80-20 majority, that would be experienced as a quadrupling of the number of right-leaning voices in the field. Moreover, any such shift is likely to have a snowballing effect. Those who are sympathetic to the right but were afraid to speak out would be more likely to declare themselves. Many people would be exposed to and convinced by pro-free-market arguments that they might not have heard under the old groupthink. People who might have given up on careers in academia or the mainstream media, on the assumption that their politics limit their career prospects, would be encouraged to persist and would find employers and mentors who share their views. Eventually, a critical mass of prominent right-leaning achievers in these fields would chip away at the automatic assumption that certain cultural markers -- being young, being educated, being sophisticated, being artistic -- are inherently associated with being on the left.

The problem for the modern left is that it has bet everything on those associations.
A swing back to the right, I concluded, is not at all inevitable. Rather, the fragility of the left’s dominance presents us with an opportunity. And given the number of people who thought their moderate liberalism made them safe from political correctness but who are now discovering how foolish that was, there is plenty of fuel for a backlash.

If 2014 was the year the politically correct left tried to impose its orthodoxy on everyone, and 2015 was the year it turned against its ideological home in universities, then it is possible that 2016 will be the year when some of its targets begin to fight back.

Repealing Obamacare, Defunding Planned Parenthood Would Save $516 Billion Over 10 Years: CBO

International Business Times ^ | 01/05/16 at 9:03 AM | Elizabeth Whitman 

A bill to repeal major components of the Affordable Care Act that would also defund nationwide healthcare provider Planned Parenthood would reduce the federal deficit by $516 billion over the next 10 years, the Congressional Budget Office said in an estimate published Monday. [...]
The bill, dubbed the Restoring Americans' Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act, would repeal several requirements vital to Obamacare, including the mandate that requires employers of a minimum size to offer employees health insurance. It would also undo what's known as the individual mandate, which requires all Americans to buy health insurance or pay a hefty fine. Republicans have previously highlighted the savings that would result from a repeal of these sections, such as their contention that eliminating the employer mandate would save $7.9 billion from 2016 to 2025. Still, the CBO has projected that doing so would leave an additional estimated 750,000 people uninsured after 2018. ...
(Excerpt) Read more at ...

Stocks Slump, GOP Picks Trump, And Other Predictions For Investors In 2016 ^ | January 5 

It's time to get serious about investing again. In that spirit, here are my predictions for the economy, the markets, interest rates, and politics in 2016.
This year, I'm stepping back from my long-term optimism about U.S. stocks and calling for the end of the bull market, although I doubt it will be accompanied by a recession and financial crisis. So, here goes:
1. No U.S. recession, and the economy muddles along: Solid housing and automotive sales should help the U.S. economy post 2%+ GDP growth, but not more. A strong dollar will continue to hurt exports, and weak global markets will keep U.S. growth subdued.
5. The Republican presidential and vice-presidential nominees will be Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz: It's the obvious ticket, since each is leading in the polls and is strong among different constituencies. Cruz attracts Evangelical Christians and Tea Party sympathizers, while Trump draws angry, disaffected white working- and middle-class Republicans and even some Democrats who yearn for a "strong leader"
Proportional assignment of delegates in the early primaries and caucuses will prevent any candidate from locking up the nomination early. But it may well weed out the also-rans, including former Gov. Jeb Bush and even Sen. Marco Rubio, whose campaign can't seem to sweat the details. That would be a blow to the Republican Establishment, hedge-fund donors, neocons and the mainstream media.
I think the fix is in. Trump and Cruz are handling each other with kid gloves. Would Sen. Cruz agree to play second fiddle to alpha-male Trump? In less time than it takes to say, "Yes, sir."
(Excerpt) Read more at ...

Judge Napolitano: Why Obama's executive action on guns is unconstitutional

Fox ^ | January 5, 2016 | Judge Andrew P. Napolitano 

President Obama announced Tuesday that he is issuing an executive order on guns and background checks. Here's a look at what the president is doing and if it is even legal under the Constitution of the United States.
Just what is an executive order? A presidential executive order is a written instruction to persons in the executive branch of the federal government informing them of the manner in which the president wants federal laws or regulations enforced. Executive orders do not direct private persons, or persons in the legislative or judicial branches of government. Executive orders remain in effect until abandoned or rescinded by the president who issued them or by a successor president.
President Obama has very little room to issue executive orders on guns because the congressional legislation is so extensive, detailed, and clear. The principal thrust of the president's orders addresses the requirement for background checks in occasional sales and the requirement that occasional sellers become federal licensees and the imposition of reporting upon physicians.
Congress has expressly removed occasional sales (sales not made by full-time dealers) from the obligation of obtaining federal licenses and from conducting background checks.
The president is without authority to negate the congressional will on this, and any attempt to do so will be invalidated by the courts. Mr. Obama will now require that anyone who sells a gun, that is even an "occasional" seller will be required to perform a background check. By defining what an "occasional seller" is, the president is essentially interpreting the law, a job reserved for the courts.
(Excerpt) Read more at ...

Why Iowa and New Hampshire won't matter this time

The American Thinker ^ | 1-5-16 | Ned Barnett 

Here's a news flash. The Iowa Caucus and the New Hampshire Primary will not matter this year, at least not in the way they've mattered every four years for as long as I can remember. You can take that to the bank.
Allow me to explain.
First, have you ever wondered why two small and -- in general terms, politically irrelevant -- states have such a profound impact on primary politics? Have you ever wondered why those two states, Iowa and New Hampshire, are like politics' own Kardashians -- famous because they're well-known, rather than for any innate value they bring to presidential politics.
Though neither state is representative of America at large, they're famous as the primary season's giant killers, taking down the seemingly most powerful primary candidates, generally on what seems like a whim.
Iowa's caucuses are almost bizarre in their byzantine complexity, and those caucuses only bring out the hard-core among primary-season voters. As a Nevada voter -- we have caucuses too -- I think the process is a bit strange; but Iowa takes that strangeness to an extreme. Instead of checking off a ballot and dropping it in a box, a caucus voter has to commit to several hours of interaction with neighbors and strangers, usually on a bitterly cold winter's night. Those who show up aren't really representative of Iowa voters, let alone America's voters. But they've managed to secure a seemingly unshakable "First in the Nation" status, and the media -- and political operatives -- take them seriously.
(Excerpt) Read more at ...

Empirical Evidence


Notice that?

WTF, over?

Should She?



Get Lost!

Gun Control!

If I cry...

The Clintons are in denial about Bill’s sex scandals

New York Post ^ | January 5, 2016 | Editorial 

Even though Donald Trump had already warned that Bill Clinton's past indiscretions would be "fair game" in the presidential race, the ex-president seemed surprised to face the issue as he began to take a prominent role in his wife's campaign.
Asked by ABC News if his past should be "fair game," Bill stammered for several seconds about how "the Republicans have to decide who they want to nominate" before declaring, "I think there's always attempts to take the election away from the people."
In other words - no real answer.
At a New Hampshire rally, Hillary dismissed a heckler who asked about previous sexual-assault claims against Bill by saying the questioner was "rude."
With far larger issues out there - jobs, terrorism, etc. - we'd rather the race not be dominated by talk of Bill's, uh, love life.
Yet Hillary Clinton has made "women's issues" central to her campaign. "I can't think of anything more of an outsider than electing the first woman president," she has said.
But today those issues very much include things like sexual assault and harassment, and how institutions should deal with such cases - major topics on college campuses right now.
So a campaign surrogate who also happens to be a former president impeached over his lying about an affair with a female subordinate will inevitably be "fair game" for the campaign trail.
As will asking about how one partner enables the other's misbehavior.
Indeed, it's shocking that neither Clinton seemed ready for questions on this front. You'd almost think they'd spent the last 16 years in deep denial.
(Excerpt) Read more at ...



The world




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Truth, Justice and the American Way!




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