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Ed Driscoll

God And Man At Dupont University

Has Man Reached His Intellectual Peak?

August 22nd, 2014 - 3:38 pm

Well considering it’s Friday afternoon, for this week, probably. But as the London Daily Mail recently asked, “Are we becoming more STUPID? IQ scores are decreasing — and some experts argue it’s because humans have reached their intellectual peak:”

Evidence suggests that the IQs of people in the UK, Denmark and Australia have declined in the last decade.

Opinion is divided as to whether the trend is long-term, but some researchers believe that humans have already reached intellectual peak.

An IQ test used to determine whether Danish men are fit to serve in the military has revealed scores have fallen by 1.5 points since 1998.

And standard tests issued in the UK and Australia echo the results, according to journalist Bob Holmes, writing in New Scientist.

The most pessimistic explanation as to why humans seem to be becoming less intelligent is that we have effectively reached our intellectual peak.

Between the 1930s and 1980s, the average IQ score in the US rose by three points and in post-war Japan and Denmark, test scores also increased significantly – a trend known as the ‘Flynn effect’.

This increase in intelligence was due to improved nutrition and living conditions – as well as better education – says James Flynn of the University of Otago, after whom the effect is named.

Now some experts believe we are starting to see the end of the Flynn effect in developed countries – and that IQ scores are not just levelling out, but declining.

Scientists including Dr Flynn think better education can reverse the trend and point out the perceived decline could just be a blip. However, other scientists are not so optimistic.

Better education? Well, there’s certainly lots of room for improvement there, considering how political correctness has transformed history education into a grievance industry and dramatically dumbed-down textbooks, as Bill Whittle recently noted, comparing a century-old sixth-grade reader with today’s equivalents:

But the dumbing down and related coarsening of culture is a trend that dates back to at least the 1960s, particularly in England, as Peter Hitchens noted in his bracing 1999 book, The Abolition of Britain. In his chapter on the collapse of Britain’s culture — both its highbrow and pop divisions — Hitchens wrote:

The novelist Kingsley Amis, deeply depressed by the collapse of knowledge and good judgement in the literary and  political worlds, wrote a withering satire on the decay of national culture at the end of the 1970s (Russian Hide and Seek, 1980). Just as Evelyn Waugh had once suggested that the Labour government of 1945 was similar to living under foreign occupation, Amis suggested that the trashing of our culture and literacy were so severe that only a ruthless foreign invader could possibly make them worse. [See also: collapse of American education system -- Ed] His book is a portrait of a nation without a memory, its ancient buildings demolished, its trees hacked down, its people barely educated and bottomlessly ignorant of their origins and past, living on stewed beets, pork bellies and windfall apples. A small and dwindling group of ‘pre-wars’ maintain the memories of what has been lost, but those memories are fading, and so all trace of them will die with this elderly generation. Amis describes an attempt to revive enthusiasm for Shakespeare after half a century of Soviet occupation, during which British history, literature and religion have been ruthlessly suppressed. A group of Soviet ‘liberals’ are trying to give the people their culture back, and are staging a performance of Romeo and Juliet in along-closed provincial theatre.

The actress playing Juliet, an English girl brought up long after the occupation, attempts to speak some lines from the play. She does not understand the rhythm of the verse, the classical allusions to Phoebus and Phaeton mean nothing to her, in fact she hasn’t a clue what she is saying. But nobody notices. [See also: MSM's lack of reaction to President Obama's weird ignorance of much of American history and culture -- Ed]

At this point, Hitchens quotes from a character in Amis’ novel, the “Armenian cultural commissar” who’s overseeing the play’s production, despite having absolutely no sense of the subjects of any of Shakespeare’s plays. He describes Romeo and Juliet as a play in which “a young man meets a girl at a party and feels her up in public, in front of her parents, in fact,” along with noting that “it’s so hard to understand these characters and to make out what’s one meant to think about them.” Still though, he thinks that the play’s violence will help sell it, “and the costumes and sets are going to be spectacular.” See also: mindset behind recent Hollywood comic book-style adaptation of Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.

Hitchens concludes, “It is clear from this that Amis was not really writing about a Soviet occupation, but about the degeneration of culture that was already well under way when he wrote his novel:”

A real occupation would almost certainly have produced a resistance, the circulation of banned texts and the holding of secret religious services. But a country which ploughs under its own culture, without violence or open suppression, has no such resistance. The objects of the attack are unaware that they are under attack, and there are no martyrs, no persecution to bring resistance into being.

Almost 15 years after Hitchens’ snapshot of England’s death by political correctness, how are things working out there? The recent headline at the London Daily Mail quoted at the start of this post provides a clue.  It’s reminiscent of the writing in 2010 of  Bruce Charlton, a professor of theoretical medicine at England’s University of Buckingham, who posited in 2010 that “Human capability peaked before 1975 and has since declined,” which Mark Steyn referenced in his 2011 book, After America. Charlton wrote:

I suspect that human capability reached its peak or plateau around 1965-75 – at the time of the Apollo moon landings – and has been declining ever since.

This may sound bizarre or just plain false, but the argument is simple. That landing of men on the moon and bringing them back alive was the supreme achievement of human capability, the most difficult problem ever solved by humans. 40 years ago we could do it – repeatedly – but since then we have not been to the moon, and I suggest the real reason we have not been to the moon since 1972 is that we cannot any longer do it. Humans have lost the capability.

Of course, the standard line is that humans stopped going to the moon only because we no longer wanted to go to the moon, or could not afford to, or something…– but I am suggesting that all this is BS, merely excuses for not doing something which we cannot do.

It is as if an eighty year old ex-professional-cyclist was to claim that the reason he had stopped competing in the Tour de France was that he had now had found better ways to spend his time and money. It may be true; but does not disguise the fact that an 80 year old could not compete in international cycling races even if he wanted to.

One could argue that NASA, simultaneously JFK’s Moral Equivalent of War, as Jonah Goldberg wrote in Liberal Fascism, and LBJ’s TVA-style project to help further modernize the south, as space journalist Rand Simberg once noted, used engineering on a mammoth scale to provide us a glimpse of technology decades into the future. Hopefully, likely through commercial efforts, man will walk on the moon again at some point in the 21st century. But there’s no doubt that between the Saturn V, North American Aviation’s supersonic X-15 and XB-70 bombers, and the Aérospatiale-BAC Concorde, aviation-oriented engineering on a large scale seemed to peak in the late 1960s, before the left’s “Not over my backyard” thinking killed supersonic passenger flights and NIMBY morphed into BANANAS — “Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything” — making development in general on a large scale increasingly impossible.

It’s Probably a Coincidence

August 21st, 2014 - 10:51 am

“Jewish Student ‘Punched’ by Pro-Palestinian Student at Temple University” in Philadelphia, Paul Miller writes at’s Big Peace:

First reported by Franklin Center for Government & Integrity contributor Daniel Mael on, Daniel Vessal was “punched in the face by a violent member of the anti-Israel organization SJP (Students for Justice in Palestine). “

Vessal claims he approached the SJP table to “see what angle they were coming from,” and began a dialogue. He told his fellow students working the booth, “You shouldn’t be protesting Israel; if anything, protest the terrorists.”

“This one girl sitting at the end of the table was just laughing and laughing at me,” Vessal explained,  “and people at the table were calling me a ‘baby killer.’” He responded that when they were done laughing, “maybe we could have a genuinely peaceful conversation.”

He continued, “And then this kid just rocks me in the face as hard as he can. My glasses flew off. After a two-second blur I had no clue what had happened. I couldn’t believe this kid actually hit me.”

Eyewitnesses Josh Josephs and Alex Winokur told Mael:

“Daniel went up to talk with them and have an educated conversation and try to rationalize their opinions,” said Josephs. “The conversation shortly escalated to the Palestine group being very arrogant and irrational. The people behind the table starting attacking Daniel, calling him a ‘Zionist, racist, baby killer.’”

When Temple University security appeared on the scene, Vessal began explaining what occurred. According to multiple witnesses, the SJP students were shouting at him, “Zionist pig!” Witnesses also told Mael they heard the SJP students yelling “Kike” at Vessal as he lay on the ground.

Temple University, you say? Go figure:

Or as Roger L. Simon recently noted, “Welcome to the 1930s.”

“SHOCK: Jewish students shown ‘photos of ovens and told to get in’ by classmates in Chicago:”

CHICAGO – A school principal has been reassigned after a series of shocking bullying incidents that targeted Jewish students.

DNAinfo Chicago reports Ogden International School of Chicago principal Joshua VanderJagt asked to be reassigned because “challenges” arose after two students – one 14 years old and one 8 years old – suffered repeated threats by classmates.

The challenges surrounded allegations from Ogden parent Lisa Wolf Clemente that her 14-year-old and 8-year-old sons were bullied at both campuses by classmates for their Jewish heritage.

The Gold Coast resident said her teen son was shown photos of ovens and told to get in during lunch periods, intended as a reference to the Holocaust.

At the Streeterville campus, Wolf Clemente said her 8-year-old was invited to join a team called “Jew Incinerator” on the popular game app Clash of Clans. The team was allegedly created by Ogden eighth-graders.

In a screenshot provided by parents, the team description reads: “We are a friendly group of racists with one goal — put all Jews into an army camp until disposed of. Sieg! Heil!”

After the incidents, the bullies were suspended for two days – one in school and one out of school. They were also barred from “eighth grade graduation ceremonies,” according to the news service.

As I’ve written before, I shudder to think of how we’ll collectively remember World War II by the time this decade is out. If at all:

Oh, and speaking of Chicago, “Rahm Emanuel: Illegal Aliens are Fleeing Violent Conditions, So Let’s Move Them to Chicago.” Or as JWF quips, faced with the ongoing violence of Chicago, “perhaps the ‘migrants’ might fare better at home.”

“It’s not pretty, even if your credentials are impeccable,” Neo-Neocon writes:

John Christy, a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, says he remembers the morning he spotted a well-known colleague at a gathering of climate experts.

“I walked over and held out my hand to greet him,” Dr. Christy recalled. “He looked me in the eye, and he said, ‘No.’ I said, ‘Come on, shake hands with me.’ And he said, ‘No.’ ”

Neo adds, “It’s fortunate for Dr. Christy that burning at the stake has gone out of style.” But paradoxically amongst carbon-obsessed warmists, book-burning is making a rapid comeback, at least at San Jose State:

At speaking of the academic left believing that books have evil talismanic powers, Aaron Clarey spots a hilariously overblown reaction from a librarian who came across my February interview with Aaron on his then-new book Bachelor Pad Economics.

A hundred years ago, a central tenet of the left was “epater la bourgeoisie” — or shock the middle class. Apparently, they didn’t consider that their ideology would become so sclerotic and brittle that it would eventually transform them into a remarkably vapour-prone class of the bourgeois in constant search of the fainting couch. But then, as original Saturday Night Live writer Anne Beatts once said, you can only be avant-garde for so long before you come garde.

Besides being a terrific read, Rosenbaum’s book is sort of like Hell’s production of Citizen Kane — recording the attempts by American and German intellectuals to boil Hitler — and the causes of World War II — down to a single Rosebud-like explanation: Hitler had syphilis, he was unloved by his parents, had malformed genitalia, etc. Ultimately such efforts, as Rosenbaum writes, do little to explain the epoch-shattering events of the 1930s and ’40s, but like the cast of Citizen Kane, tell us far more about the people who conjure them up — and in many cases, their reasons why. (See also: Rosenbaum’s brilliant critique of German novel and subsequent big-budget film adaptation of The Reader, which attempted to explain away German complicity in the Holocaust through the metaphor of illiteracy.)

As Kathy Shaidle writes, Explaining Hitler is finally out on Kindle, along with a new interview with Rosenbaum on its updated version.

Oh and by the way, “California Eighth Graders Denied Holocaust In Essays After Reading Required Bizarro Screeds,” the Daily Caller reports.

I shudder to think how we’ll collectively look back in World War II ten years from now. Or maybe even right now:

Camille Paglia calls for “an end to the bitter feminist war on men,” along with “the cliquish, tunnel-vision intolerance that afflicts too many feminists,” and seeks “a more flexible psychology” from her fellow feminists. Good luck with all that — but as always when Paglia sits down for an interview, a fun read is the end result:

As for playing “devil’s advocate”, I can’t imagine a committed feminist engaging in that kind of silly game. The real problem is the cliquish, tunnel-vision intolerance that afflicts too many feminists, who seem unprepared to recognise and analyse ideas. In both the U.S. and Britain, there has been far too much addiction to “theory” in post-structuralist and post-modernist gender studies. With its opaque jargon and elitist poses, theory is no way to build a real-world movement. My system of pro-sex feminism has been constructed by a combination of scholarly research and every-day social observation.

The infamous faxes between you and Julie Burchill in The Modern Review are still very much the stuff of legend in the UK’s media. Any regret about the whole thing? If you were mentoring a young Camille today how would you tell her to deal with that kind of situation? All guns blazing, take her down and combative, or would you be recommending some mindfulness, meditation and understanding?

There is not a single thing I would change in my handling of that acrimonious 1993 episode. British journalist Julie Burchill gratuitously attacked and insulted me, and I responded in kind. Our exchanges continued, with my replies getting longer and hers getting shorter, until she realised she had misjudged her opponent and “bottled out” (a British locution for beating a hasty retreat that I heard for the first time from an amused Times reporter commenting on the battle).

I learned how to jab and parry from my early models, Oscar Wilde, Dorothy Parker, and Mary McCarthy. Germaine Greer, whom I deeply admire, has always been glorious in combat. As for mentoring a young Camille Paglia, I would tell her to study my martial arts moves and do likewise!

Heh. Read the whole thing.

Charting a nation’s decline is a difficult process; cultural dissipation is typically death-by-a-thousand cuts, as what Paul Johnson dubbed “the theory of moral relativity” in Modern Times slowly becomes the Weimar-esque law of the land. But in “A Heroine for Our Times,” at National Review, F.H. Buckley records one key moment where, as he writes, “There, there is where it all happened” — and another which further documents America’s sad deterioration, so reminiscent of postwar England’s collapse:

It was when The New Republic’s senior editor Jonathan Chait wrote in 2003, “I hate President George W. Bush.” TNR was always a liberal journal, but under editors such as Andrew Sullivan (before he went mad) and the restraining hand of Martin Peretz, it prided itself on its reasonableness. The magazine might have been coma-inducing boring, but by God it was reasonable.

And then came Chait’s tirade. For conservatives who seek to be loved by the Left, it was deeply painful. More cynical conservatives took it in stride. And just what was it anyway? Merely an op-ed. But then it was more than that too. It was a sea change in which the swimmer suddenly finds himself in frigid water. And Chait’s permission slip for hatred explains what has happened to American politics since then, the bitterness, the calls for revenge, the IRS campaign against the Tea Party.

A conservative friend of mine asked me the other day why congressional Republicans had failed to offer amnesty to Lois Lerner in exchange for her testimony. What that fails to recognize is that she is already immunized, by an administration, a Department of Justice, and a mainstream media that have her back. She’d get nothing better from a congressional immunity, and what she’d lose is the support of the most powerful people in America. That has to be a no-brainer. Nothing indeed will happen to her, and provided she doesn’t rat anyone out she’ll soon be lionized as one who was unfairly persecuted. We’ll see well-paying lectureships, law-school chairs, ambassadorships offered her. Wait and see.

Which dovetails perfectly with a recent article at the London Daily Mail I’ve been meaning to link to, but couldn’t find the right angle:

The former black student body president at a pricey New Jersey prep school was forced to resign from her leadership position earlier this year after she posted a series of photos on the Internet, in which she is seen dressed as what she describes to be the typical male, white student at the school.

In the photos, former Lawrenceville School Student Body President Maya Peterson is seen wearing L.L. Bean duck boots, a Yale University sweatshirt and is holding a hockey stick, which she says is representative of the typical ‘Lawrenceville boi.’

* * * * * * * * *

‘Yes, I am making a mockery of the right-wing, confederate-flag hanging, openly misogynistic Lawrentians,’ Peterson responded. ‘If that’s a large portion of the school’s male population, then I think the issue is not with my bringing attention to it in a lighthearted way, but rather why no one has brought attention to it before…’

A “large portion of the school’s male population” — how many students at Lawrenceville have Confederate flags? Something tells me the answer is somewhere in the vicinity of zero. I’d be curious to know how much of Peterson’s rage towards the world was stoked by her professors, versus how much punitive ideology she initially brought to the school? Whatever the proportions, the result is quite a toxic brew. Still though, reading the article on her and the sneering photos that accompany it is a reminder that as 21st century America heads towards its inevitable perigee, if Peterson decides to enter politics, perhaps even more so than Lois Lerner’s future celebrity, the sky’s the limit for someone who clings to such bitter hatred of her fellow Americans.

‘Why Embarrass Journalists?’

July 1st, 2014 - 11:56 am

Hugh Hewitt — with an assist from history and the Socratic method — demolished the Huffington Post’s “Senior Political Economy Reporter” Zach Carter yesterday on his show. Or to put it more charitably, Carter embarrassed himself by not knowing some basic 20th century American history, such as: who is Alger Hiss, and Bill Clinton and Iraq in the 1990s:

Until colliding with Mr. Carter I had never thought to ask if a young journalist who presumed to comment on the war on terror if he or she had ever heard of A.Q. Khan.  I assumed…well, there’s the rub.  I always assume that young journalists would not dare opine on the war without a basic knowledge of the existential threat at its core, and the origins of that threat.

Perhaps a college newspaper editorialist would do so, but not a “senior political economy reporter” for a major political outlet like HuffPo.

I was wrong.

And that’s why I ask the questions I do.  To expose the utter ignorance at the core of so much of the left.  Not their rottenness.  I often say their is a difference between “rotten” and “wrong,” and I believe that.  Some on the left are wild-eyed fanatics and awful people.

But most of the lefties I engage with seem perfectly pleasant if also wildly ill-informed and, yes, lazy.

It is hard work to read widely and broadly, and on both sides of the political aisle.  Time consuming.  Not very fun actually.

But necessary.  If you intend to be taken seriously.  More importantly, if you intend the country to endure.  Most journalists go into the business because they are idealists of one sort or another and they love the whole “first draft of history” stuff.  What journalists collectively do is crucial, because lousy reporting leads to lousy voting, the consequences we see now on full display across the globe.

Perhaps Mr. Carter and his friends think the world around them is all George W. Bush’s fault.  After all, they were in high school when the towers fell, and junior high when Bill Clinton struck at the installations believed to house Saddam’s WMD.

Still, I was in high school when Nixon resigned and I know very well what he did wrong and though I admire him greatly, can explain those wrongful actions in detail.

On the tenth anniversary of 9/11, Daniel Henninger of the Wall Street Journal wrote that for much of the left, losing the Gore-Bush recount fight in November of 2000 was in many ways, a more traumatic experience than the horrors to come the following year. Perhaps that, and the sweeping rise of broadband Internet and Google in the late 1990s accounts for the fact that for so many on the left, history begins in 2000 — and much of the previous millennia is as blank a slate as any document Winston Smith “revised” in 1984′s Ministry of Truth. It doesn’t help matters that collectively, the left views history in general as black armbands and victimhood from the birth of Christ, on to the present day.

Exit quote:

ZC: And those seem like pretty specious claims that have not been held out by history. And so from my point of view, it becomes very difficult to understand why we went to war. People like Hillary Clinton say well, we just got it wrong. We misgauged the intelligence.

HH: But Zach, you…time out. Zach…

ZC: And I think the argument I’ve heard from Cheney is that basically, things have been, have gone as Cheney had hoped, and there have been some, and maybe it should have worked out slightly better, we wouldn’t have been there as long, but that basically the reasons that he cited have been vindicated.

HH: Well, Zach, again, when you read his memoir, come back and we’ll talk about that. But what I’m curious to ask you is why do you think Bill Clinton bombed Iraq in 1998?

ZC: I’m not really familiar with Bill Clinton bombing Iraq in 1998.

HH: Did you know that he did that?

ZC: No.


 More: “Huffington Post Has Seen the Face of Evil: The Bacon Cheeseburger:”

On Friday, the main headline on the Huffington Post posited the theory that vegetarianism reduces your carbon footprint (please excuse the technical terminology) a “ridiculous amount.” The progressive website offers a helpful solution to one of the great evils of the day: “As the economic, political and personal costs of doing nothing to mitigate climate change skyrocket, there’s one lifestyle change that slashes dietary greenhouse gas emissions in half: Veganism.”

Breitbart News has reported on a number of scientists who claim the climate hasn’t warmed in 16 years and that some call global warming an unsubstantiated hypothesis. HuffPo has cited a survey that alleges climate change is costing the U.S. billions of dollars and poses a growing national security threat. “Reducing the intake of meat and other animal based products can make a valuable contribution to climate change mitigation,” the report argues.

“Freud called it displacement.”

Victor Davis Hanson’s column today, fisking his local paper (the Fresno Bee) and its coverage of a DUI trial, is a must-read. Here’s the beginning of its conclusion, but you really do need to read the whole thing to place it into context:

We live in a deeply diseased society in which we care little about the victim and a great deal about the perpetrators. As the trial continues, we no doubt will soon hear that somehow Mr. Winslow was at fault, that for all the past restrictions and punishments given Ms. Vasquez she did not comply with many if any of them, and that there were probably even more drunk-driving incidents than the four reported. We are also going to hear all sorts of fables of what a good person she really is. Just wait.

In this regard, we are about to witness a legal circus, not a military tribunal, for a terrorist killer and Benghazi architect of the murders of four Americans.

We worry so much about poor Mr. Bergdahl, hardly at all about those lost or maimed trying to find him, or those who were similarly injured or killed trying to arrest the five Taliban killers we freed for Bergdahl, and nothing at all for the thousands that the five have killed or the myriads whom they may well kill again. Thinking of all of them wins us no psychological recompense in the way our cheap sympathy for Bergdahl does.

Ditto poor Lois Lerner, whom some on the left have portrayed as a victim. Not a word about the hundreds of lives made wretched by her imperious witch-hunts and audits.

Not a word about the legal immigrants who cannot enter the U.S., given the illegal aliens who cut in front of their line. We hear so much about the 90,000 children who were sent into the U.S., but nothing about the callousness of their parents, the conniving of their home governments, a deceitful Mexico that facilitated their transit, the Obama administration that vies for their political allegiance, or lots of killers and criminals who will enter the U.S. while the Border Patrol is distracted and busy as a social welfare agency.

Elsewhere in the world of Civilizational Decline, Andrew Klavan spots a serious case of moral relativism infecting the world of leftwing journalism:

Being a professional writer is not a heroic job, but it does have at least one moral requirement:  you mustn’t lie.  If you make your living by writing, it stands to reason there are people who read what you write; you therefore have at least some power to inform, influence, enlighten or persuade. You can be wrong — we’re all wrong sometimes; you can err — everyone does. But to use whatever amount of power you have to deceive intentionally by commission or omission or distortion is wicked; it’s a sin.

So if Katie McDonough, an assistant editor at Salon, finds herself feeling angry all the time, as I very much suspect she does, it’s not because conservative columnist George Will pretended “rape never happens,” because that never happened; it’s not because Will claimed that being a rape victim is a “coveted status,” because Will never did; it’s not because Will feels uncomfortable discussing sexual assault, because he very obviously does not; it’s because she’s ashamed of herself for deceiving her audience by distorting Will’s words, thoughts and intentions, as she very well should be. Shame and self-disgust sometimes make you lash out at other people to keep you from facing what you’ve done yourself.

I don’t know what McDonough thinks about the responsibilities of her craft, but I do know that a fascinating development began sometime in the last couple of decades among journalists on the left: the ability to admit to their public that they’re lying, or that they’ll condone lying in the right circumstances. Just ask the gentlemen on this growing list.

Oh and speaking of Fiskings, they’re on sale today at your local Wal-Mart.

The Million Metaphor March

June 23rd, 2014 - 10:39 am

Headline of the Day: “US Student is Rescued from Giant Vagina Sculpture in Germany:”

According to [its sculptor, Peruvian artist Fernando de la Jara], the 32-ton sculpture made out of red Veronese marble is meant to signify “the gateway to the world”.

Police confirmed that the firefighters turned midwives delivered the student “by hand and without the application of tools”.

The mayor of Tübingen told the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper that he struggled to imagine how the accident could have happened, “even when considering the most extreme adolescent fantasies. To reward such a masterly achievement with the use of 22 firefighters almost pains my soul.”

Since my friend Steve Green is currently on vacation, allow me to add: you know you’re not supposed to do that, right?

(Via Twitchy, whose name is extra-appropriate for this story, of course.)

“The Slow and Glorious Death of America’s Worst School System” is charted by Jim Epstein at Reason:

The public school system is at “Def-Con 1,” warned the mayor of Camden, New Jersey, the poorest and most dangerous city in America. In an open letter to the governor, the mayor described “horrendous conditions” in the schools, warning that the situation had “reached a critical stage.” Camden’s school system “relegates too many of our young men to criminal careers” and “lifetimes of dependency,” he wrote.

That letter was dated 1998, but it could have been written yesterday. Then-Mayor Milton Milan (his heart wasn’t entirely in the right place, as he was later jailed for corruption) complained of aging school buildings and collapsing ceilings; Camden Superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard recently found that school buildings “are often in disrepair and no longer adequate as educational sites.”

Twenty-three years ago, crusading ex-Marine Gordon Sunkett stood on a six-foot platform for more than 60 consecutive hours to draw attention to out-of-control violence in Camden’s schools; on a recent listening tour, Superintendent Rouhanifard found that “half of elementary school students say they don’t feel safe going to the bathroom or walking in the hallways.” In 1998, researchers at Rowan University caused waves by reporting that 50% of Camden students dropped out of high school; last year, Camden’s dropout rate was 49%.

“Nothing ever changes in Camden,” says Derrell Bradford, the executive director of NYCAN, an education reform nonprofit. “It’s a great human tragedy.”

There’s certainly one aspect of life (and death) in Camden that hasn’t changed since 1936:

Camden, New Jersey rounds out the top ten, with a poverty rate of 42.5 percent, and child poverty rate of 56.7 percent. In one poll, Camden was rated the second most dangerous city in the nation, with gang violence cited as a chief contributing factor. Democrat Dana Redd is the current mayor of the city. Frederick Von Nieda was Camden’s last Republican Mayor — he served until 1936.

That’s the line up regarding poverty. Yet there are also eight large American cities facing bankruptcy, a reality that would undoubtedly exacerbate each city’s poverty rate. Cincinnati and Camden hold the distinction of being on both lists. The other six cities are Baltimore, Washington, D.C., San Diego, San Jose, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Note that the last four are in California, the nation’s foremost Democratic stronghold. As for Baltimore, it has been run by Democratic mayors and city councils since 1967. Since Washington, D.C’s home rule began in 1975, every mayor has been a Democrat.

And then there’s Rhode Island, aka Detroit on the Atlantic. At City Journal, Aaron M. Renn dubs poor little Rhode Island “The Bluest State,” adding that “decades of liberal policies” have made the state “the nation’s basket case:”

In the early 1900s, the Republican Party ran the state, wielding power through a Tammany Hall–style political machine. That changed in 1935, when Democrats seized control in the so-called Bloodless Revolution. In a power grab described at the time as “a startling coup” by the New York Times, the Democratic lieutenant governor refused to swear in two Republican senators who had won contested races the previous November. Democrats then declared their own candidates the winners in these elections and, having gained control of the chamber, effectively fired every Republican appointee in the state across 80 boards and commissions in a matter of minutes. The Democrats even sacked the Republican-dominated state supreme court.

The Democratic Party has dominated Rhode Island politics ever since. Democrats have held the state legislature since 1959 and currently enjoy an overwhelming majority there, along with every statewide elected office. Republicans occasionally manage to get elected governor or mayor, but party allegiance hasn’t been strong. Current governor Lincoln Chafee was a Republican senator who became an independent before migrating to the Democratic Party. Cianci originally won the Providence mayor’s office as a Republican before becoming an independent.

Decades of Democratic control have produced systemic corruption—and reliably left-wing policies. Thus, Rhode Island has the full complement of blue-model orthodoxy: high taxes, high social-services spending, powerful unions, and suffocating regulation.

As Jay Nordlinger wrote in 2010, “If people are voting a certain way — maybe it’s because they want to:”

On the subject of education generally, I like to quote my colleague Ramesh Ponnuru: “If the American people wanted better schools, they’d have them.” I’m not 100 percent convinced of that; but I very much appreciate the line.

For many years, conservatives said — maybe they still say — “Black Americans, on the whole, are conservative. They are certainly well to the right of their leaders — their self-appointed leaders. Black Americans favor traditional morality, law and order, school discipline and reform. Jesse Jackson, Ben Hooks, and Al Sharpton are far outside the black mainstream. The ‘black leadership’ is like Bella Abzug; black Americans are more like Gerald Ford.”

I myself talked that way. But I stopped, at a certain point — when black Americans kept voting for the Democratic presidential nominee 88 percent, 91 percent, 94 percent . . . I said (to myself), “Do not commit the error of condescending. If people are voting a certain way — maybe it’s because they want to. Maybe they know full well what they’re doing. Sometimes you have to take no — such as ‘no to Republicanism’ — for an answer.”

On the other hand, perhaps this is a rare glimmer of hope for education reform from ultra-blue and ultra-screwed California, but like Ace, I’m not getting my hopes up, as long as Jerry Brown is in office and Democrats control Sacramento. (Which brings us back to Nordlinger’s comment about American voters.)

Update: Meanwhile in a legendary community organizer’s old stomping grounds these days, “Mayor Rahm Emanuel is so committed to public education that he sends his children to a private school 15 miles away from where his children live.”


Well, you remember man landing on the moon in 1963 at least, don’t you? Obama’s ghost-tweeter apparently does. As Moe Lane writes, “If Barack Obama wants to do something about wage inequality, he should start with… the White House itself.” And then regarding when we actually landed on the moon, “Here, let me show the President how to check things like this.”

There’s a strange and recurring symptom with this administration that on the one hand keeps making these gaffes, and on the other, thinks of itself as being chockablock full with, much more so than Enron, “The Smartest Guys in the Room” — including Barry himself.

Especially, Barry himself:

“I think I could probably do every job on the campaign better than the people I’ll hire to do it,” he said. “It’s hard to give up control when that’s all I’ve known.” Obama said nearly the same thing to Patrick Gaspard, whom he hired to be the campaign’s political director. “I think I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters,” Obama told him. “I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m gonna think I’m a better political director than my political director.”

But these weird lapses in what should be easily understood American and world history keep occurring. Joe Biden — who definitely thinks of himself as the Smartest Guy in the Room — just ask him — had one of the first big whoppers. During the fall of 2008, his mouth once again failed to sync with the gearworks of his brain, and he praised Franklin Roosevelt’s TV performance in 1929 when the stock market crashed. Never mind that in 1929, Herbert Hoover was president, and the handful of Jurassic American TVs then in existence were running Felix the Cat test patterns — that’s how Joe remembers it. And apparently so does Obama booster Katie Couric, since she didn’t bother to correct him:

During a 2011 interview, Obama declared, “Texas has always been a pretty Republican state, you know, for historic reasons,” which would certainly be news to Lyndon Johnson, John Connally, and Ann Richards.

Perhaps one of Obama’s worst gaffes occurred during his second inauguration speech, when he mindlessly parroted the words of speechwriter (and War on Women posterboy) Jon Favreau, who inserted the phrase “peace in our time” into his boss’s Teleprompter. Nothing like getting your second term off to a flying start by inadvertently declaring yourself the successor to Neville Chamberlain at Munich.

This past March, Obama declared during a Democrat fundraiser, “In midterms, we get clobbered, either because we don’t think it’s important or because we get so discouraged about what’s happening in Washington that we think it’s not worth our while.” So much for the 2006 midterms, in which Rahm Emanuel, then chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, assembled what Kevin McCullough of Townhall dubbed Nancy Pelosi’s Crash Test Dummies, a group of seemingly non-threatening centrist-appearing Democrats who would go on to deliver up massive bailouts to banks and GM, and ultimately would become crash test dummies in November of 2010 after passing Obamacare.

Like Ron Burgandy, anything you put into Barry’s teleprompter or on the page in front of him, he’ll read. (Including how he ate a dog, with no reaction or remorse in his voice.) But it’s particularly amusing to watch someone once declared “the most powerful writer since Julius Caesar” at the apex of hopenchange by one his toadies to apparently have very little conception of basic American history.

…There really was a fair amount of it before Obama arrived in his manger, you know.


So you’ve written a best-selling book that has cast an event that everyone in America thought they knew into an entirely new light, but you’d still like to get it in the hands of more readers. What do you do? If you’re Amity Shlaes, the author of the 2007 New York Times bestseller The Forgotten Man, you turn it into a graphic novel. Why not? Lefties have been doing it for years; Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of American Empire is also available in graphic novel format.

Shlaes turned to veteran Batman writer Chuck Dixon to consult on the script, and then brought in artist Paul Rivoch to craft the illustrations. The result is The Forgotten Man Graphic Edition: A New History of the Great Depression, now available from and your local bookstore.

During our nearly half-hour long interview, Amity and Paul will discuss:

● Who was the “Forgotten Man” of the 1930s?

● How was new graphic novel’s visual look created?

● How did Paul research the visual details of the 1920s and 1930s?

● Every comic needs a hero and a villain. Who plays those roles in The Forgotten Man Graphic Edition?

● What is the real story behind Dorothea Lange’s iconic “Migrant Mother” photo from 1936?

And much more.

Click here to listen:

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(28 minutes, 27 seconds long; 26 MB file size. Want to download instead of streaming?

Right click here to download this interview to your hard drive.

Or right click here to download the 4.87 MB lo-fi edition.)

If the above Flash audio player is not be compatible with your browser, click on the video player below, or click here to be taken directly to YouTube, for an audio-only YouTube clip. Between one of those versions, you should find a format that plays on your system.

Transcript of our interview begins on the following page; click here for our previous interview with Amity on the original edition of The Forgotten Man, and here for our interview last year its “prequel,” Coolidge. For our many previous podcasts with other authors, start here and keep scrolling.

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Oh, that closing of the American mind. 25 years ago, Allan Bloom documented the descent of academia, and things have only gotten worse, since. Ever since the 1960s, colleges have been hotbeds of lunacy, but in the last couple of years, the trend really does seem to be accelerating, doesn’t it? In his column at PJM, Roger L. Simon, our Maximum Pajamahadeen Emeritus, charts “The Rise of the Campus Brown Shirts:”

A fusillade of attacks by students and faculty on commencement speakers and honorary degree awardees at four of our better known schools — Smith, Haverford, Rutgers and Brandeis — has tarnished this year’s commencement season beyond any in recent memory.  Speakers as distinguished as Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund Christine Lagarde, former Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have been forced to withdraw even as Ayaan Hirsi Ali, one of the most courageous fighters of oppression on the planet, had to walk from her honorary degree from a university established in the shadow of the Holocaust. Go figure.

What next? The Bill of Rights gets repealed?  An academic “War on Women”? (Three of the four attacked are female.) A new generation of undergraduate Brown Shirts comes back from 1930s Berlin to smash every college window and burn every school library book by unapproved authors in a renewed Kristallnacht?

Of course all of the above dignitaries finally walked away voluntarily from their campus honors, underlining the juvenile absurdity of these same students and faculty, not to mention the paleo-milquetost behavior of their administrations. Mercifully, William G. Bowen, the former Princeton president who replaced Lagarde as Haverford commencement speaker, called out the protestors as “immature” and “arrogant” during his speech, an understatement, to be sure, but welcome nonetheless.

Roger adds that “This would all be great fodder for Saturday Night Live, if it still had any spine.” Back in the 1970s, when producer Lorne Michaels, really did have quite a spine, SNL birthed the mindset of today’s NBC in general: hard left, contemptuous of America in general and the middle class specifically, and always ready to employ crude language and sexual innuendo to make a joke. Compared with anything else on TV in the mid-1970s, it was bracing stuff — and for the first four of the five initial seasons that Michaels produced, often extremely funny as well.

But as I said the other day, you can’t simultaneously tear down the past culture and substitute a far cruder one, and then demand that you want “trigger warnings” placed on anything that might offend your now toughened sensibilities.

Which is why, at the L.A. Times today, Jonah Goldberg quips, “Trigger warning: I am going to make fun of ‘trigger warnings:’”

The New York Times reports that activists want many classics to have trigger warnings in effect printed on them like health advisories on cigarette packages. “The Merchant of Venice,” for instance, would need the label “contains anti-Semitism.” Virginia Woolf’s “Mrs. Dalloway” would need a warning that it discusses suicide. Oberlin’s memo advised faculty that Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart,” may “trigger readers who have experienced racism, colonialism, religious persecution, violence, suicide and more.”

As a victim of “and more,” I can sympathize. But this way leads to madness.

And what a strange madness it is. We live in a culture in which it is considered bigotry to question whether women should join combat units — but it is also apparently outrageous to subject women of the same age to realistic books and films about war without a warning? Even questioning the ubiquity of degrading porn, never mind labeling music or video games, is denounced as Comstockery, but labeling “The Iliad” makes sense?

I do wish these people would make up their mind. Alas, that’s hard to do when you’ve lost it.

With all of the above added as prologue, plus academia’s insane tuition costs, Glenn Reynolds declares that higher education is becoming a joke in his latest USA Today column:

Though the claim that one in five women on campus is sexually assaulted is pretty clearly bogus — as Bloomberg‘s Megan McArdle notes, it includes things like sexual touching over clothes, which hardly constitute rape — it’s widely repeated, and that surely makes young women a bit less enthusiastic about attending. Then all the responses — involving, basically, kangaroo courts that strip male students charged with sexual assault of all due process protection — don’t make campuses more appealing to male students, who are already an under-represented minority on most campuses.

Then there’s the race hysteria. Just last week, students at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota canceled a “Hump Day” celebration featuring a camel because someone thought the camel signified racism against Muslims. (Yes, Muslims aren’t a race, but that doesn’t matter, apparently.) We make fun of Victorians for substituting the term “limbs” for the too-racy word “legs,” and for supposedly covering table legs with cloth, but our own era is prone to similar over-delicacy, and campuses — supposedly centers of critical thought — seem to be the worst offenders.

Dartmouth cancelled a charitable fund-raising “fiesta” because one student complained that the word “fiesta” was racist. And going beyond race, commencement speakers, ranging from Condi Rice at Rutgers to Christine LaGarde at Smith, have been turned away by rabid student protests, mocked here by Yale Law’s Stephen Carter.

From the economics to the politics, colleges and universities are looking less like serious places to improve one’s mind and one’s prospects, and more like expensive islands of frivolity and, sometimes, viciousness. And that is likely to have consequences.

In his USA Today column, Glenn quotes Iowahawk’s recent tweet, which neatly sums up the box canyon that higher education’s brown shirts have marched into:

But perhaps, not for much longer, unless academia is willing to take a long collective look in the mirror and begins to reform itself. And based on their history of of the oh, past half century or so, that seems rather doubtful.

If only there was a viable workaround to the current madness.

“There can be no aspect of your daily life that’s removed from politics,” Jim Treacher writes at the Daily Caller, “Now you will be monitored by your own children for expressing unapproved opinions. You’d better watch what you say at the dinner table, Mom and Dad.”

Jim links to this post at The Blaze:

First lady Michelle Obama is encouraging students to monitor their older relatives, friends and co-workers for any racially insensitive comments they might make, and to challenge those comments whenever they’re made.

The first lady spoke on Friday to graduating high school students in Topeka, Kansas, and in remarks released over the weekend, Obama said students need to police family and friends because federal laws can only go so far in stopping racism.

“[O]ur laws may no longer separate us based on our skin color, but nothing in the Constitution says we have to eat together in the lunchroom, or live together in the same neighborhoods,” she said. “There’s no court case against believing in stereotypes or thinking that certain kinds of hateful jokes or comments are funny.”

And you never know what sorts of hateful jokes or comments you might hear at church. Churches like Trinity United in Chicago, to pick one entirely at random:

Of course, it’s not all that difficult to program children to snoop on their parents and adults in general for thoughtcrime:

‘Have you got a spanner? -said Winston, fiddling with the nut on the angle-joint.

‘A spanner,’ said Mrs Parsons, immediately becoming invertebrate. ‘I don’t know, I’m sure. Perhaps the children -’

There was a trampling of boots and another blast on the comb as the children charged into the living-room. Mrs Parsons brought the spanner. Winston let out the water and disgustedly removed the clot of human hair that had blocked up the pipe. He cleaned his fingers as best he could in the cold water from the tap and went back into the other room.

‘Up with your hands!’ yelled a savage voice.

A handsome, tough-looking boy of nine had popped up from behind the table and was menacing him with a toy automatic pistol, while his small sister, about two years younger, made the same gesture with a fragment of wood. Both of them were dressed in the blue shorts, grey shirts, and red neckerchiefs which were the uniform of the Spies. Winston raised his hands above his head, but with an uneasy feeling, so vicious was the boy’s demeanour, that it was not altogether a game.

‘You’re a traitor!’ yelled the boy. ‘You’re a thought-criminal! You’re a Eurasian spy! I’ll shoot you, I’ll vaporize you, I’ll send you to the salt mines!’

Suddenly they were both leaping round him, shouting ‘Traitor!’ and ‘Thought-criminal!’ the little girl imitating her brother in every movement. It was somehow slightly frightening, like the gambolling of tiger cubs which will soon grow up into man-eaters. There was a sort of calculating ferocity in the boy’s eye, a quite evident desire to hit or kick Winston and a consciousness of being very nearly big enough to do so. It was a good job it was not a real pistol he was holding, Winston thought.

Yes, parents love being told by their kids that they’re racists — and that they’re misogynists who hate women as well — women such as Gaia, as this infamous MasterCard commercial from a few years ago reminded TV viewers:

The above post from Jim Treacher dovetails well with something Peter Wehner writes today at Commentary — or at least with my criticism of Wehner’s post, which is titled, “When the Right Turns on America.” Quoting a speech by Wayne LaPierre at the NRA’s annual conference, in which LaPierre asked, “Do you trust this government to protect you? We are on our own,” Wehner went on to write:

Mr. LaPierre is not the only one who describes America in dystopian terms these days. Earlier this year Dr. Ben Carson, a Tea Party favorite who is considering a run for the presidency in 2016, said America is “very much like Nazi Germany.” Michele Bachmann, a 2012 GOP presidential candidate, has said the Affordable Care Act is evidence of a “police state.” This kind of language–America is bordering on or has basically become a tyranny–is common currency within some quarters of conservatism.

Now it is one thing to believe, as I do, that in some important respects America is in decline and that President Obama is in part responsible for that decline. I agree, too, that there are some alarming problems and trends facing the United States just now, which many conservatives are attempting to address in a responsible fashion.

But it is quite another thing to describe America as the New Left did in the late 1960s, when America itself was spelled with a “k” (“Amerika”) in an effort to identify it with Nazi Germany. Among the young and left-wing academics there was talk about the need for revolution. The United States was viewed as fundamentally corrupt. Once upon a time conservatives fought against this. Today, however, some on the right are turning on America. They employ language you would associate with Noam Chomsky.

Read the whole thing and make up your own mind, but I think Wehner is ignoring a huge difference between the angry New Left of the 1960s and early 1970s, and today’s conservatives: The New Left was (and is) solipsistic; it believed that everyone, from the Founding Fathers to earnest New Deal liberals, Rockefeller Republicans and proto-Buckley-style conservatives were all the enemy.  Its poisoned efforts can be seen today in an academic left that believes that history is nothing but Original Sin all the way down, discounting Columbus’ discovery of America, America’s founding, and virtually all of American prior to the JFK era (or FDR if they’re feeling generous) as invalid or evil. And in an MSM that feigns to believe that it is pure and without ideological bias; that only to those their right have an ideology.

In contrast, conservatives and libertarians are mindful of the statement President Reagan made in his first inaugural address that “We are a nation that has a government—not the other way around. And this makes us special among the nations of the Earth. Our government has no power except that granted it by the people. It is time to check and reverse the growth of government, which shows signs of having grown beyond the consent of the governed.”

When Wayne LaPierre states, “We are on our own,” unlike the New Left of the 1960s, he’s not attacking America and its citizens, merely its elected officials and underlying bureaucracy, both of which increasingly believe themselves to be an isolated caste, removed from the rest of their fellow men, whom they were hired to serve.

Or to bring this post full-circle:

Update: “MSNBC’s Capehart: Tolerance ‘Should Not Be a Two-Way Street.’”

Post-Literary Traumatic Stress

May 17th, 2014 - 10:55 pm

The contradiction is fascinating: having completed, as Roger Kimball put it, the Long March through newsrooms and the entertainment world, in addition to academia, the result has been a forty year coarsening of the culture that’s apparent to everyone. Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction contains, according to one reviewer’s estimate, at least 69 uses of the N-word. My local 24 Hour Fitness routinely plays rap music on the gym Muzak system containing the N-word amidst an endless variety of crudely sexual and misogynistic “lyrics.” My local supermarket occasionally plays on their Muzak “Pump It Up,” Elvis Costello’s rockin’ ode to masturbation. In the 1950s, CBS insisted that Lucy and Desi slept in separate beds on I Love Lucy, and famously refused their use of the word “pregnant” on the air while Lucille Ball was very much pregnant. Today, the gang on CBS’s Two and a Half Men routinely engage in sexual romps and use sexual and scatological language that would have caused William S. Paley an aneurism.

This is the pop culture environment that we all live in, and it’s inescapable, whatever your age, and however much TV you consume. Turn off the TV and the radio, avoid the movie theater, and the stuff is pumped into your supermarket Muzak. If you have teenagers, they’ve been exposed to all of the above examples, and countless worse, long before they audit their first college course. Which makes a New York Times article headlined “Warning: The Literary Canon Could Make Students Squirm” all the more silly:

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — Should students about to read “The Great Gatsby” be forewarned about “a variety of scenes that reference gory, abusive and misogynistic violence,” as one Rutgers student proposed? Would any book that addresses racism — like “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” or “Things Fall Apart” — have to be preceded by a note of caution? Do sexual images from Greek mythology need to come with a viewer-beware label?

Colleges across the country this spring have been wrestling with student requests for what are known as “trigger warnings,” explicit alerts that the material they are about to read or see in a classroom might upset them or, as some students assert, cause symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in victims of rape or in war veterans.

The warnings, which have their ideological roots in feminist thought, have gained the most traction at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where the student government formally called for them. But there have been similar requests from students at Oberlin College, Rutgers University, the University of Michigan, George Washington University and other schools.

The debate has left many academics fuming, saying that professors should be trusted to use common sense and that being provocative is part of their mandate. Trigger warnings, they say, suggest a certain fragility of mind that higher learning is meant to challenge, not embrace. The warnings have been widely debated in intellectual circles and largely criticized in opinion magazines, newspaper editorials and academic email lists.

Short of an Iranian-style cultural revolution, it’s virtually impossible to put the Genie back into the bottle, once a pop culture begins to coarsen. If Scott Fitzgerald can cause “symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder,” then every song on the radio and every TV show post-Beverly Hillbillies should be preceded by similar warnings.

As for “Trigger Warnings” on Fitzgerald and Twain, when supermarket muzak returns to 101 Strings-style easy listening arrangements, and the Hays Office reopens shop in Hollywood, then the idea of “Trigger Warnings” for literature might almost make sense. (Actually, it would be still be awfully silly.) But you can’t make it your ideology’s self-styled goal to loosen language and mores and then invent “Trigger Warnings” simply to find yet another excuse to avoid reading the works of Dead White European and American Males. Or if you do, don’t be surprised if your ideological opponents begin to adopt the idea to dilute and ameliorate your cultural forms of expression.

Related: “Dear Class of 2014: Thanks for Not Disinviting Me,” Stephen L. Carter, a Yale law professor writes at Bloomberg View:

The literary critic George Steiner, in a wonderful little book titled “Nostalgia for the Absolute,” long ago predicted this moment. We have an attraction, he contended, to higher truths that can sweep away complexity and nuance. We like systems that can explain everything. Intellectuals in the West are nostalgic for the tight grip religion once held on the Western imagination. They are attracted to modes of thought that are as comprehensive and authoritarian as the medieval church. You and your fellow students — and your professors as well; one mustn’t forget their role — are therefore to be congratulated for your involvement in the excellent work of bringing back the Middle Ages.

Or the culture of the Weimar Republic combined with the rigid intellectual conformity and race-obsessed tribalism of its immediate successor.

And don’t miss Mark Steyn on the cancellation of a Fargo first-grade class’s rendition of the Village People’s “YMCA” because of…

I don’t want to spoil it for you. Read the whole thing.

Two Palominos in One!

May 17th, 2014 - 7:24 pm


Past performance is no guarantee of future results:

“Nancy Pelosi calls Tea Party ‘arsonists.’”

—Headline, San Francisco Chronicle, September 20, 2013.

“Pelosi’s message to grads: Be disruptors.”

—Headline, The Hill, today, which goes on to note, “‘Being called a disruptor is a high compliment,’ Pelosi said in prepared remarks Saturday. “You here at Berkeley are already disruptors in many ways.”

Shades of Bobby Kennedy in 1968 quoting original “Progressive” William Allen White in his speech to Kansas State University, and telling the students there, “If our colleges and universities do not breed men who riot, who rebel, who attack life with all the youthful vision and vigor, then there is something wrong with our colleges. The more riots that come on college campuses, the better world for tomorrow.”

Yeah, that advice worked out just swell for all concerned that year.

Oh, That Liberal Fascism

May 15th, 2014 - 6:49 pm

Past performance is no guarantee of future results:

Cannon began by asking Powers how she is treated by her Fox colleagues. He recalled that New York Times’ conservative columnist David Brooks was not well-received when he first started writing for the Times and asked if Powers had encountered a similar experience.

“People are really nice at Fox,” Powers revealed. “It’s been good for because I – before that, I lived in a real liberal bubble.”

“All my friends were liberals and I grew up in a really liberal family,” she continued. “I had a lot of ideas about conservatives and then I got to Fox and just, I was like, ‘Oh, they’re not all evil and stupid.’”

—Noah Rothman’s description of the February 2014 video in which Real Clear Politics took Kirsten Powers, a liberal contributor at Fox News for a drive and recorded the interview.

Welcome to the Dark Ages, Part II. We have slipped into an age of un-enlightenment where you fall in line behind the mob or face the consequences.

How ironic that the persecutors this time around are the so-called intellectuals. They claim to be liberal while behaving as anything but. The touchstone of liberalism is tolerance of differing ideas. Yet this mob exists to enforce conformity of thought and to delegitimize any dissent from its sanctioned worldview. Intolerance is its calling card.

* * * * * * * *

Got that? A college educator with the right opinions can attack a high school student and keep her job. A corporate executive with the wrong opinions loses his for making a campaign donation. Something is very wrong here.

As the mob gleefully destroys people’s lives, its members haven’t stopped to ask themselves a basic question: What happens when they come for me? If history is any guide, that’s how these things usually end.

“Kirsten Powers: Liberals’ Dark Ages: “Each week seems to bring another incident. Who will the thought police come for next?”, in the latest edition of USA Today.

As conservative video producer Ladd Ehlinger Jr. put it when the previously unknown Justine Sacco was torn apart on Twitter a few days before Christmas over a botched Sarah Silverman-esque joke, “Just because you’re in the mob one day, don’t think it protects you from the mob the next day.”

If only somebody had published a book at the beginning of 2008 that gave us a look into the worldview of the American left and a sneak preview of our current media and academic culture.

Update: So who will the thought police come for next? James Delingpole of Breitbart London has the answer: “Climate Science Defector Forced to Resign by Alarmist ‘Fatwa.’”


This Just In: The National Socialists were socialists — as they told their supporters in the 1920s. And then once in power, followed up their talking points with monstrous wealth distribution schemes:

According to Götz Aly’s Hitler’s Beneficiaries: Plunder, Racial War, and the Nazi Welfare State, most previous treatments of German complicity in genocide overlook a significant aspect of Nazi rule. Aly, a historian at the Fritz Bauer Institut in Frankfurt and the author of more than a dozen books on fascism, urges us to follow the money, arguing that the Nazis maintained popular support—a necessary precondition for the “final solution”—not because of terror or ideological affinity but through a simple system of “plunder,” “bribery,” and a generous welfare state. When first published in 2005, Aly’s book caused a minor sensation in Germany, with critics accusing him of everything from sloppy arithmetic (a charge he vigorously denies in a postscript to the English translation) to betraying his soixante-huitard roots by implicitly connecting West German social democracy to fascism. After the massive success of books like Günter Grass’ Crabwalk and Jörg Friedrich’s The Fire, two bestsellers stressing that Germans too were victimized by fascism, Hitler’s Beneficiaries shifts the brunt of the blame back toward ordinary Germans.

Far from being victims of Nazism, Aly argues, the majority of Germans were indirect war profiteers. Requisitioned Jewish property, resources stolen from the conquered, and punitive taxes levied on local businesses insulated citizens from shortages and allowed the regime to create a “racist-totalitarian welfare state.” The German home front, Aly claims, suffered less privation than its English and American counterparts. To understand Hitler’s popularity, Aly proposes, “it is necessary to focus on the socialist aspect of National Socialism.”

While underemphasized by modern historians, this socialism was stressed in many contemporaneous accounts of fascism, especially by libertarian thinkers. F.A. Hayek famously dedicated The Road to Serfdom to “the socialists of all parties”—that is, Labourites, Bolsheviks, and National Socialists. “It was the union of the anti-capitalist forces of the right and the left, the fusion of radical and conservative socialism,” Hayek wrote, “which drove out from Germany everything that was liberal.” Ludwig von Mises agreed, arguing in 1944 that “both Russia and Germany are right in calling their systems socialist.”

The Nazis themselves regarded the left-right convergence as integral to understanding fascism. Adolf Eichmann viewed National Socialism and communism as “quasi-siblings,” explaining in his memoirs that he “inclined towards the left and emphasized socialist aspects every bit as much as nationalist ones.” As late as 1944, Propaganda Minister Josef Goebbels publicly celebrated “our socialism,” reminding his war-weary subjects that Germany “alone [has] the best social welfare measures.” Contrast this, he advised, with the Jews, who were the very “incarnation of capitalism.”

Instead though, note the incredible tweet atop this post from self-described “green and leftwing schoolteacher,” as spotted by David Thompson, who quips in response, “Not of History, I Hope.”

Meanwhile, Ed Schultz of MSNBC, that Comcast-owned socialist redoubt, employs a little World War II revisionism of his own, in a tweet he quickly deleted:


Of course, Ed’s far from the only person who forgot the primary victims of the Holocaust:

Last week while he was otherwise on vacation, Glenn Reynolds retweeted the following item:

I’m kicking myself for not taking a photo of it, but last week in New York, I saw an ad for the same History Channel series, The World Wars posted on the entrance to the Lexington Ave. IRT with similar verbiage. It was something along the lines of World War I made Hitler into a man or solider — I forget what the first noun was, but the second half of the equation was tough to forget: “World War II made Hitler into a monster.” (If you’ve seen the ad, post the language in the comments, or point me to a photo of it.)

To paraphrase Carissa’s tweet above, Hitler was a monster long before September 1st, 1939. Both ads imply that the war passively transformed these men, instead of their roles in shaping the conflict. Shades of the infamous response from a Hollywood studio executive when Lionel Chetwynd, Roger Simon’s sparring partner on PJTV’s Poliwood, attempted to pitch a World War II-themed film on the battle for Dieppe, the prototype for the D-Day invasion, in which 3,600 Canadian soldiers were killed by the Nazis:

Many years later, when Chetwynd was a successful Hollywood writer specializing in historical dramas, he told the Dieppe story during a Malibu dinner party — as a sort of tribute to the men who died there so people could sit around debating politics at Malibu dinner parties. One of the guests was a network head who asked Chetwynd to come in and pitch the story.

“So I went in,” Chetwynd told me, “and someone there said, ‘So these bloodthirsty generals sent these men to a certain death?’

“And I said, ‘Well, they weren’t bloodthirsty; they wept. But how else were we to know how Hitler could be toppled from Europe?’ And she said, ‘Well, who’s the enemy?’ I said, ‘Hitler. The Nazis.’ And she said, ‘Oh, no, no, no. I mean, who’s the real enemy?’”

“It was the first time I realized,” Chetwynd continued, “that for many people evil such as Nazism can only be understood as a cipher for evil within ourselves. They’ve become so persuaded of the essential ugliness of our society and its military, that to tell a war story is to tell the story of evil people.”

Unlike the wars that preceded and followed it, World War II appeared for decades to be the one modern conflict whose narrative was largely settled. In recent years though, in addition to the above bits of revisionism, we’ve seen the EU dubbing it the “European Civil War,” Hollywood chucking WWII’s moral imperative for nihilism, the Smithsonian insulting those dropped the atom bombs on Japan, and the left calling into question the character of the American people in general during WWII.

Like the citizens of Oceania being told on one day they’re fighting East Asia and the next they’re fighting Eurasia, how World War II will largely be remembered should be fascinating to survey in the coming decades. I can’t wait to see how the Director’s Cut Edition completely changes the ending…

Breaking News from 1968

May 13th, 2014 - 11:40 am


“What If College Is Making People Stupid?”, Seth Mandel asks at Commentary, noting that “International Monetary Fund director Christine Lagarde has become the latest commencement speaker to be chased off by American academia’s guardians of the eternally closed minds.”

Mandel quotes Greg Lukianoff of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, (whom we interviewed last year), who notes that this trend is accelerating exponentially:

According to a tally by his group, between 1987 and 2008, there were 48 protests of planned speeches, not all for graduations, that led to 21 incidents of an invited guest not speaking. Since 2009 there have been 95 protests, resulting in 39 cancellations, according to Mr. Lukianoff’s group.

Mandel concludes:

The question, then, is not whether American universities are producing ever more totalitarian-minded brats. Of course they are reinforcing such closed-mindedness; they are leftist institutions steeped in leftist values. This is a problem, and should be addressed. But the out-of-control speech police on college campuses, combined with the unwillingness to even listen to those who might disagree with them, raises the distinct possibility that colleges are producing brainless authoritarians.

What if college, in other words, is making the next generation stupid? Not uniformly, of course. There will always be exceptions, and there may even be a rebellion against what is increasingly making college the most expensive babysitting service in the modern world. But college administrators are now faced with the conundrum of students who pay them gobs of money to keep them uninformed and shielded from critical thinking. It’s a challenge administrators have to deal with–and the sooner, the better.

Given the spineless response from college administrators to the student protests of the late 1960s that produced today’s academic environment, I’m not holding my breath for positive change or newfound academic freedom.


As someone responding to Iowahawk’s tweet adds, “For free, can’t forget the free part.”