The News Behind the News
Here are some things in the daily news that do not quite make sense.
I.The Joe Paterno Implosion
To the outsider, it is inexplicable how a coach/former coach like Mr. Sandusky could serially molest boys, even after the crimes were known to many of the athletic staff, apparently at one point even to the campus police, and many in the higher administration.
We are supposed to assume that over decades Joe Paterno had no inkling that his most trusted coach was a pederast/pedophile in a gym-like environment where male youth were ubiquitous? An athletic program is a sort of petri dish for the bacillus of the pederast.
What was going on? Did the campus community close ranks, in the manner of the Catholic Church, to avoid the tabloids, and in fact did so successfully for years? Was the attitude that a ten-year-old who was sodomized in the shower was expendable, given the careers that might otherwise summarily end? If Paterno reported the matter to officials, and even to campus security, and nothing followed, was he not curious as to why that was so?
Did the alleged pervert demonically masque some of his lust in the context of locker-room frolicking to fool his colleagues, as if his groping was just “horseplay” and then by design would escalate at the opportune moment? The Penn State community must have informally considered Sandusky a mere in-house embarrassment? But if so, what a travesty, given the predator’s proverbial ingenuity in finding new victims, and the raw calculation that others were to suffer to protect the reputations of university grandees. So Paterno et al. resigned, but far too late; the tragedy was that it came only after so many new victims.
II. The Herman Cain Mess
If one were to believe some of the narratives about Herman Cain, what exactly is he guilty of? Buffoonery? Lying? Assault? Bad manners? Perversion? Nothing at all? We are never quite told in any meaningful detail.
1) In regard to the current five complainants, is Cain a married roving eye? A sort of unfulfilled man, eager to flirt and fantasize, or, to quote Jimmy Carter, to lust in his heart? That is, did he vent his sexual frustrations, by occasional loose talk, but draw the line by eschewing classical sexual harassment of the casting couch sort that leads to intercourse? Note that no women have come forward in the last, say, ten years. Did age and cancer change Herman Cain? But from what to what?
2) Is Cain a crude groper? A sort of Strom Thurmond or sex-poodle Al Gore? Are there third-party witnesses who can attest that Cain grabbed thighs? If not, are we back to he said/she said? Are we once more to ponder what is “sexual harassment”? We can all agree it surely is the gross quid pro quo, ‘screw’ me for your job. But is it also the asymmetrical relationship between the man with power and the woman subordinate without so much of it? (If we think Cain’s tête-à-tête evening with Ms. Bialek was stupidly above and beyond the call of duty, what in the world was hair over the eye Sharon Bialek thinking in scoring a private coffee break/dinner with CEO Herman Cain?) How odd, that in the age of trashy media sex and crass overt nudity, we act as if we are in the age of Puritanism. In 2011, a coffee break will be both more overtly sexual (even a group discussion of last night’s sitcoms would ensure that) and yet prudish (as in one false slip, a bad joke, a crass compliment can become 14 years later a sexual harassment charge).
3) Where there is smoke, there is fire? Is Cain a serial womanizer like the Bill Clinton, Ted Kennedy or Newt Gingrich of yesterday? But if so, do we have any proof that he, Berlusconi-style, consummated a number of relationships? Have any women yet come forward claiming to be girlfriends or mistresses? And if some do, does that disqualify Cain in the manner that it did not disqualify FDR, JFK, LBJ, or Bill Clinton? Or have things changed in this age? Do conservatives suffer the additional wage of moral hypocrisy and so the mere suggestion, not the act itself, is the problem? Or did Cain use his office/money/influence to seek out “consensual” relationships otherwise impossible? And if so, is that uncommon in life? (I think half my former colleagues married their former students). So far we have only innuendo that Cain was either a harasser, adulterer, or frustrated married man, who liked to go to the edge of titillation. For now, he is guilty only of being guilty of what Obama, Romney, Perry, Paul, Bachman are not guilty of: having anyone charge them with having a bothersome sexual imagination outside of marriage. There are so many subtexts to the sexual harassment charges — the proposed upcoming group accusation press conference, the denial of a publicity/financial angle by those who seem to thrive on their fifteen-minutes of fame, the long passing of time — that it will never be resolved and only fade when Cain himself does from the race.
Blue Wall Street
Do we recall a Peter Orszag gliding in and out of government and Wall Street, parlaying his Clinton-administration appointments and more recent post at OMB, to make tons of money back home in high-finance at Sebago and Citigroup? In some sense, the epitome of this most recent miasma is former Democratic Governor Jon Corzine, a Goldman Sachs grandee, and now disgraced CEO of bankrupt MR Global. There is zero chance that the caring Corzine will use his prior millions to cover the losses he helped incur at Global. After all, the losers are just anonymous investment funds that the teacher and small businessman put money into through their 401(k]s. Who cares if the 5K they put in this year is all gone?
A Robert Rubin, George Soros, Franklin Rains or Jim Johnson can find insider ways to make tens of millions, regardless of the health of their corporation or the ethics of their conduct — and apparently expect to face little popular scrutiny, given their liberal fides. None of their pictures will show up on placards at Occupy Wall Street protests. You see, we live in an age where the biggest recipient of Goldman Sachs and BP cash, indeed the most successful Wall Street fundraiser in presidential history, who alone renounced public financing of presidential general election campaigns, can himself politick as an anti-Wall Street, anti-corporate jet, anti-“millionaires and billionaires” man of the people. What does Barack Obama do when he meets his own targets at the back nine on Martha’s Vineyard? Smile and say, “Nothing personal,” as he invites them over to a $50,000 a plate fundraiser?
The charge that many financial institutions are amoral may be true, but the charge that they are logical reflections of conservative greed is often a lie. Indeed, Wall Street is more deeply embedded within the Ivy League, and within the New York-Washington liberal nexus, than among the sorts who show up at a Tea Party rally. Exactly what financial brilliance earned Jamie Gorelick, a Clinton apparatchik, a $26 million take at Fannie Mae, as it imploded and nearly wrecked the country? Did she give back to the Fed any of her lucre? What sort of populist was a Sen. Chris Dodd (of Dodd-Frank reform fame) who used his office for low-interest personal loans? How in the world did Rahm Emanuel end up making $16 million as a “banker”—what financial genius had he previously shown, what Harvard MBA did he earn? How did Barney Frank go from a demagogue demanding no-background loans for the supposedly underprivileged overnight to a concerned legislator pontificating, after the fall, that renting for some might be preferable?
So until I see posters of a Gorelick or Rains in Oakland, I don’t put much stock in the Occupy protests.
Another imponderable is the role of race and tribe in the matter of illegal immigration. As far I can fathom it, spokespeople in the Latino hierarchy claim they represent their own communities in demanding de facto amnesty. But for whom else? The wayward Somali student? The Chinese engineer who overstayed his visa? A future 10,000 from Haiti who should win exemption from federal law?
Not really. “Illegal immigration” is not about illegal immigration. I would have thought the issue was only about poverty, until realizing that $40-50 billion a year leave the U.S. in remittances to Latin America, in many cases from those who use American subsidies to free up cash to send home. It is not quite about moral justice, given that the U.S. is in near recession with millions of citizens out of work and whose earning power in the Southwest was eroded by cheaper workers here illegally. Nor is Mexico innocent, but by design seeks to export its own impoverished to win remittances, ease the burden of paying for social services, and build an expatriate community more sympathetic to Mexico the longer and farther it is away from it.
Instead, illegal immigration concerns most advocates not in the abstract sense of changing the law for all, but only in the concrete — solely in the sense of illegal immigration from Latin America in general, and Mexico in particular. In essence, the argument is that a common ethnic tie trumps federal law in a fashion that no others should dare emulate. Even the staunchest advocate of open borders would oppose 3,000 from Kenya or Chad landing in freighters on the American coast and demanding amnesty. Apparently, there is some sort of notion that past history or present ethnic solidarity privileges a distortion of the immigration law to such an extent as to render it ineffective. In other words, advocacy for blanket amnesty and open borders hinges on no one else taking up such an offer except those from Mexico and Latin America: there can be only so much controlled chaos before things get uncontrollably chaotic.
If one were to say that we need to resume mass immigration from Europe, one would be seen as a tribalist, racist even — on the grounds that one’s ethnic profile matched the ethnic profile of those who should be given preference in immigration. Yet imagine if an offer of fast-track citizenship were to be extended to any in a now crumbling EU — or for that matter, anyone at all — with a bachelor’s degree, mastery of English, and $20,000 in capital? I think a million skilled workers would arrive within 12 months, along with billions in capital. So let us be frank. Those accused of racism for wishing immigration law enforced can make the argument that they are racially blind and wish it applied without regard to specific individuals; those accusing others of racism wish to render immigration law null and void, only because of the shared race or ethnic background of those who break it.
The frightening thing about illegal immigration is that it is racially/ethnically driven; its advocates have little concern about extending their principles to others, and, in that sense, it is a sort of selfishness, designed to enhance one’s own political constituency within the United States while eroding the law, as if to say, “U.S. law must not apply to my ethnic group but should be enforced in all other cases.”